Amazon Announces Kindle Textbook Rental

Amazon (NSDQ: AMZN) is reaching out to students with the launch of Kindle Textbook Rental. Textbooks are available for periods between 30 and 360 days.

Students can extend their rentals in one-day increments as many times as they want. They can also keep their notes and annotations after the rental expires: “We’re extending our Whispersync technology so that you get to keep and access all of your notes and highlighted content in the Amazon Cloud, available anytime, anywhere,” said Dave Limp, VP Kindle.

The Kindle Textbook Rental shows textbooks on desktop and laptop screens, not on a Kindle screen. In this case, Amazon is promoting the textbook rental over the device: “Download one of our free Kindle reading apps for your PC, Mac, iPad, iPhone, Android device, Windows Phone 7, Blackberry, or Kindle–wherever you’d like to read your textbook,” the page says. Kindle is last in that list. That’s smart–Amazon is stressing that cash-strapped students don’t have to buy a Kindle to read their textbooks but can use devices they already have. (And the textbooks will look better through the Kindle app anyway since the Kindle doesn’t support color.)

Separately, Amazon is reaching out to students who got a free year of Amazon Prime membership last year by enrolling with a .edu e-mail address. Those memberships will expire in August, and Amazon is allowing students (or anyone who enrolled for Amazon Prime with a .edu address) to re-up for $39 instead of the usual $79.