Google just announced that the books section of its Play market will now see a new category for textbooks, and starting next month, users can rent them for 80 percent off rather than purchasing them at full price. This puts Google in the same league as other existing e-textbook rental service providers like Amazon for Kindle and Barnes and Noble for Nook.
Including Google, these are six services you can use to rent an e-textbook for next semester.
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Kindle Textbook Rental
Amazon's Kindle Textbook Rental allows you to rent a textbook from their library of tens of thousands of titles and read it on almost any device, including the Kindle Fire, iPad, Android tablets, PCs or Macs with its free Kindle reading app. With the service's flex rental option, you can choose exactly how long you wish to rent the book out for, starting from a minimum of 30 days to a maximum of 360 days. You pay only for the time you need, making it a great option for textbooks you need for electives that aren't really related to your major; just rent a book for three to four months, at up to 80 percent off of its list price.
Better yet, highlight and annotate your textbooks, and your notes will be saved on kindle.amazon.com even after your rental has expired.
Barnes and Noble says its education-oriented service is designed for students by students, with its app boasting features like Print to Nook Study, Organize Coursework and Dual View that allow you to use the app as a central location for your revision and homework. The service has a database of 2.5 million e-books, offers discounts up to 60 percent and allows you to preview titles for up to seven days before paying for them.
A lesser-known distributor of e-books, audio books, music and movies, OverDrive houses over a million premium digital titles from more than 2,000 publishers including Random House, HarperCollins and Bloomsbury. With its own Read web app that launches books in a browser and an OverDrive Media Console that's compatible with almost all devices, OverDrive's library is accessible on any web-enabled platform and supports the EPub format while saving your progress across devices. If you have a library account with your school or the nation's public libraries, a vast number of books are available to borrow via OverDrive.
CourseSmart offers users access to more than 90 percent of higher education titles used today as well as the largest catalog of digital course materials available. With apps for iOS and Android devices as well as in-browser functionality, CourseSmart offers users online and offline access to its library. Rentals typically are available for up to 180 days at a fraction of the original retail price of the title, and free trials allow you to get a preview of select pages of the book before you commit to paying. CourseSmart also supports markup features such as highlighting and note-taking.
Relatively new to the scene since launching as a textbook rental company in 2007, Chegg caters directly to students and provides a suite of services that help them prepare for tests and exams. It offers access to the most popular e-textbooks on iOS devices as well as within a web browser. Some textbooks on Chegg also come with step-by-step solutions to help with homework and exercises. The company also buys textbooks from students and gives out scholarships.
Google Play Books
If you look under Categories on Google Play's books section, you will already see a category for textbooks listed. There are a few e-textbooks currently for sale and free samples for viewing, but a rental option still isn't available yet.
The full-featured section should appear later this month, with major publishing partners like Pearson, Wiley, Macmillian Higher Education, and McGraw-Hill already onboard to provide rental textbooks for six months with up to 80 percent off retail prices.