As a college student in the “broke as a joke” demographic, any company’s effort to combat the criminal practice of textbook sales is much appreciated.
As a soon-to-graduate college senior, I’ve experienced the financial woes that entail the college experience, to some extent. I was lucky enough to earn a few state scholarships that covered a good deal of my tuition and fees, but due to recent budget cuts in Florida my prize of free textbooks has been revoked and I’ve been forced to confront the blunt trauma of textbook purchasing.
It could be effectively argued that college textbook sales are a criminal undertaking. Nearly every college student has gone through the injustice of purchasing a brand new textbook, barely turning a page because the professor decided it wasn’t necessary for the curriculum (or worse, the professor includes their own books in the required curriculum for personal profit), then being given the cold shoulder by college bookstores on a buyback after your “latest edition” textbook is no longer the latest edition.
I’ve opened the pages of so-called “newer editions” of the textbook I’ve attempted to sell back and seen no more new additions than a few updated pictures and sources. Unfortunately, in the system students have to deal with right now, you’re lucky to walk away with 20% of the book’s original listing price if it’s deemed out-of-date.
Amazon’s latest announcement will have college students, and Kindle owners particularly, finally optimistic about purchasing or renting textbooks this semester. Kindle owners, or anyone with a Kindle reading app, can choose to rent participating textbooks for a span of 30 to 360 days, saving up to 80% on the listing price.
Amazon started its positive relationship with college students by offering a free Prime membership, entailing highly discounted shipping costs to any Prime-eligible item, including textbooks. Now, students like myself who used to only order the discounted textbook for midterm and finals week can choose to rent books for only as long as they’re needed, with a 30-day minimum. Very rarely have I seen a professor utilize a textbook for more than 30 days the entire semester.
What may sound like a shameless pandering to Amazon is actually one student’s grateful recognition of a company’s efforts to ease the unnecessary and overwhelming burden placed on students’ wallets to simply purchase the course materials required of them. With the ability to save notes and annotations even after the rental is over, Amazon is finally allowing many students to use textbooks for the length and purpose which they actually use them.
In an increasingly digital world, it’s encouraging to see the digital consumption of goods extend into the college campus, as such devices have made the most valued college resources more inexpensive and accessible to students. Services like Netflix make owning a TV with cable nearly futile, while Hulu Plus also offers a free one-month trial for users that register with a student e-mail account.
As education budgets are slashed, tuition continues to skyrocket and students reliant on ramen and instant coffee are left in the crossfire. It’s encouraging to see major companies like Amazon offer services to at least ease some of the burden accumulated in the form of student debt.