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Opinion on Amazons  launch of its new Kindle Textbook Rental program

Amazon starts eBook rentals

Nandy Ferguson sees the eventual decline of print textbooks in the future. With new trends in reading options, students are more likely to switch to technologically savvy eReaders.According to a DailyTech article, Amazon has launched its new Kindle Textbook Rental program, a service for students dreading textbook prices.Ferguson, general manager at the Florida Book Store, saw an initial decline when eBooks first came out but said the industry combated that by introducing new rental options. However, with current trends, she sees the eradication of bookstores completely.”I went on vacation in North Carolina and spent a week on the beach,” Ferguson said.”When I looked down the beach, I expected to see people reading books, but everyone was holding an eReader.”

The one benefit Ferguson sees with hardcover textbooks, however, is the convenience to just come into a store when you need a book and not have to worry about arrival time due to prolonged shipping.What online rentals are offering that bookstores don't provide is an adjustable renting period. According to DailyTech, customers can rent a book from Amazon for anywhere from 30 to 360 days. Student only pay for the amountof time they need the book.

Amazon textbook rental doesn't just work for the Kindle, though. After purchasing the book, customers can download it onto any device, including a Kindle, MacBook, PC or mobile device.

In addition, students can highlight and take notes that will still be available on any device from which they wish to access them, according to DailyTech. Students can return the book after the rental period and not have to worry about losing important information.

Although this is new for Amazon, some companies already have this option available. Barnes and Noble has a NOOKstudy application that also allows customers to rent and download eTextbooks. Local Barnes and Noble manager Andy Bielecki said the NOOKstudy also has varying rental periods and the ability to use the book on multiple platforms.Monica Uy, a UF student, has started considering eTextbook rentals after paying more than $500 every semester for books.

“It seems stupid buying, or even renting, a book for a semester,” Uy said.”When you really only need the book for four months, it's cheaper to just get it online.”Having the ability to highlight and take notes makes an online textbook just as convenient as a normal textbook, Uy said. It's the same thing, just without the extra 10 pounds in your backpack.”Plus, eReaders have search options,” Uy said.”When I'm looking for something, I don't even have to flip though the pages. I can just search the words I'm looking for and it's right there.”When it comes to classrooms, however, it is hard to say which is more interactive and which is more repressive. Katherine Casey-Sawicki, an English teacher at Santa Fe College, believes eReaders can both help and hurt productivity.

Teaching ENC 1101 and 1102 online, she has already switched to online reading, saving students from purchasing expensive and heavy textbooks. With texting and Facebook updates in the classroom every day,Casey-Sawicki believes online options can help students be more involved in the readings.”Screens are there,” Casey-Sawicki said,”and anyone who isn't used to it clearly isn't teaching.”At the same time, shefeels that eTextbooks might just be one more way textbook companies make money off students. They might stall the progress toward a more decentralized and inexpensive text choice or even raise prices once the trend picks up speed.