Amazon Expanding Kindle eBook Rentals?

Dave Zatz —  January 18, 2013 — 7 Comments

kindle-rental2

Do you find ebook pricing especially onerous given reduced manufacturing and distribution costs, an inability to share purchased content, vendors yanking previously purchased content off our devices, and the number of retired DRM schemes that often take our access with it to the grave? Can’t find anything worth reading or don’t have the patience to wait for that single Overdrive public library ebook license? Well, perhaps digital rentals are a reasonable compromise that we can all get behind. And it looks like Amazon and at least one publisher are willing to give it a shot – beyond textbooks.

kindle-rental1As you can see from the pics, Amazon is offering Theories of International Politics and Zombies as both a Kindle purchase and a rental. Their rental model is more flexible than what we see from digital video that offer a fairly standard 24-48 hour viewing window within a 30 day period. Instead, Kindle book rentals are being offered with a sliding price/duration scale. And it’ll be interesting to see if they offer upgrades to convert rentals into purchases.

I hope Amazon and, more importantly, the publishers stick with it. As it’s win-win. I’ll be a happier consumer, buying significantly more content without researching free alternatives, while the powers that be generate revenue they wouldn’t otherwise see. But maybe that’s too logical.

(Thanks Karen!)

7 responses to Amazon Expanding Kindle eBook Rentals?

  1. “And it’ll be interesting to see if they offer upgrades to convert rentals into purchases.”

    Read the not really fine print again, and you’ll have your answer…

  2. Still too expensive for me. I will stick to the library and 4 for 3 sales of physical books. Digital books just aren’t worth more than a buck to me.

  3. That title is published by Princeton Uni Press so I’d bet Amazon sees it as a textbook. And if you look at the category listings, this book is listed under political humor and nonfiction. That suggests it is not fiction so much as it is a satire of political textbooks.

    In any case, this situation has come up before with another non-obvious textbook:
    http://www.the-digital-reader.com/2011/12/01/amazon-expands-ebook-rentals-beyond-textbooks-maybe-not/

  4. Well damnit, Nate! ;) I’ll continue to hope for the best here, but suspect you could be right as I don’t have much faith in the publishers.

  5. “That title is published by Princeton Uni Press so I’d bet Amazon sees it as a textbook.”

    Good catch. Textbooks really are their own separate universe, aren’t they? But to quibble on semantics, I’d assume it’s Princeton Uni seeing it as a textbook that is dispositive here, not how Amazon sees it.

    More broadly, I’d be frankly astonished if publishers allowed this for general interest e-books. It’d be good for Amazon. It’d be good for consumers. But I have trouble seeing the upside for Knopf Doubleday in letting me read this for one-third the purchase price…

  6. I was thinking the same thing Nate points out as I was reading the article.

    Also worth noting is that the text found in the pricing box is identical to what’s found on the Amazon Textbook Rental info page.

    In other words, more reason to believe it’s not a new program.

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html?nodeId=200690040

  7. Engadget riffed off us and has also checked in with Amazon for comment. We’ll provide an update if we learn anything more, but I suspect this may be limited to Princeton Press. Sure, others could offer these terms, but why would they? I’m going back to used CDs and paper books.

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