Google announced last month that e-textbooks would be available for sale and for rent via its Google Play Book store and today it officially launched the service in the U.S. Partnering with major publishers like Pearson, Wiley, Macmillian Higher Education and McGraw-Hill, Google will offer the textbooks for rent at up to 80 percent off retail prices.
Integrated into its existing Play Book store, the service can be accessed by selecting "textbooks" from the "genre" pulldown menu on Google's site. Titles ranging from Development Economics by Debraj Ray to The American Promise by James L. Roark are already available, organized by subject and popularity. Not all books are available for rent, and users can tell if the book can be borrowed if it displays a "From" price listing on the book's detail page.
People using the Google Play app on their iOS or Android devices will also find support for highlighting and note-taking in their books, which will stay in their rented books after expiry if they check the books out again.
Users have to keep in mind that the rental period begins right after they make the payment, and not when they start using the book. So make sure to only rent a book when you are ready to start using it instead of getting it in advance. That's a good way for reluctant students to continue denying that the Fall semester is fast approaching. If you can't find your textbook on the Google Play Book store, there are plenty of other competitors out there that might stock your title.