Amazon Book Rentals (How does it work)

So, back in the day, all college students had to buy new textbooks for school.  New textbooks meant the most expensive and modern editions, and this was definitely not affordable to all students.

With such a strict and expensive process, some genius college students decided to look for a way of easing their burden when it came to buying books for school.

This was the invention of the libraries, where you could borrow a book, whether old or new, use it for a specified period, and then return the same book to the library to have access to another book.

Well, nowadays, things have drastically changed. The invention of Google and many other reading apps, the need to have brand new textbooks has become extinct and companies that sell books such as Amazon have had very few book sales.

It was, therefore, crucial for such a company to come up with a plan that would ensure that they still received revenue from the textbooks they were selling.

Amazon Book Rentals works like a library. It is, in fact, one of the leading textbook rental services and comes highly recommended by those who have already used this service. This is due to their low prices and efficient services.

It is, however, essential to note that renting from such a huge company doesn't come without some limitations. I shall explain this later.


How Does Amazon Book Rentals Work?

  1. The first step is to log into your Amazon page.
  2. Visit the textbook rentals page and look for the book you wish to rent by entering the title of the book, the author, the ISBN of the book if you have it, into the search bar. You will be able to find textbooks in all disciplines, such as computer science, engineering, humanities, and many more.
  3. Important step; Note the due date and order the rental.
  4. Once you have completed renting, you can sign up for text reminders of the rental book when the book is due from the “Thank you” page.
  5. You shall then wait to receive the textbook, and this is based on its availability. It shall be sent through the mail. They will apply the standard Amazon shipping options, which is usually a 2-day shipping period.
  6. Once you receive the book, check on whether there is a mistake with the order, and in case they happen to send you the wrong book, you have 30 days to receive a refund of your rental. You can also choose to return the wrong book and order the right one.
  7. You shall receive an extended rental period of 15 days, within which you can choose to renew the rental agreement at a fee of course.
  8. When you are ready to return the book, go back to and select it in the “your textbook rentals” page. Print this, and send it in the return packaging.
  9. Take the shipment to the carrier that has been listed on the return label and ship the book back. This process is free of charge.

Important points to note about this process

  • You have the options to purchase the item you have rented, and you shall not be charged more than the original price of the book.
  • If you decide to extend the period of rental, you shall be charged for that.
  • A valid credit card with at least 45 days to expiry must be filed in order to be able to rent a book.
  • You can use gift cards for the initial rental, but a credit card must be charged if the gift card has a low balance which would not cover the rental charges.
  • After you complete the rental, you will receive constant email reminders about your return date.

Why use Amazon?

Using Amazon is probably the best option when looking for a specific textbook, and it doesn't necessarily have to be for rental purposes, even when looking to purchase a book, it is the best company for this.

You definitely cannot compare ordering a book online to walking around from bookshop to bookshop looking for a specific book and end up not finding it anywhere, which is possible.

You can also decide to rent an e-textbook, which is much cheaper compared to buying a new book or renting one, but it is essential to check and compare the costs of each option and find one that is cheaper for you.

Another benefit with Amazon is that, if you buy the book and decide that you do not need it in the end, you can trade it in for an Amazon gift card.

How long is the rental period?

Amazon rentals usually are on a per-semester basis, which means that you can be able to use the textbook throughout the semester, until finals, before you can initiate a return.

Students, however, lack the initiative of returning books on time, and they mostly linger for longer than they should. It is always important to return the book on time as this will attract extra charges on your credit card, which you already filed with the company.

Reading the Fine print:

So, Amazon is definitely a great idea, if you are in college and want to purchase a book, but, you must understand what you are getting yourself into, before committing to this option. There are a few questions that you must ask yourself.

  • What happens if the book is damaged? Can you return it? Will you be charged extra?
  • What happens if you return a book that has been highlighted or written on?
  • What happens if you ship the book back to Amazon, but they don't receive it?
  • What happens if you forget to return the book entirely?

According to statistics, approximately 10-20% of college students don't return their rental books on time or promptly, and you could be one of them for one reason or the other.

Rest assured that Amazon will charge you for late fees if you return the book later, or if the book is damaged in any way. Amazon and Apex media work together when it comes to rental books, and they charge for any eventualities.

They have an inbuilt system for their rental process that will charge their customers a certain percentage if books are returned with defects, and they have the options even to reject specific returned textbooks that have been densely written on or damaged.

So, when using the rental textbooks, bear in mind that your credit card information is filed with Amazon, and they can charge it if they are unhappy with the state in which you return one of their books.

Therefore, it really doesn't hurt to sign up for their reminder services, where they will ensure to send you emails, reminding you that the due date for return has arrived.

What if you are late?

There is a statement on the website that I shall quote for effect.

If your book is not received with a postmark of the due date or an earlier date, we will automatically extend your textbook rental period by 15 days and charge you for a 15 day extension, and if the textbook is still not received with a postmark of the extension due date or an earlier date, we will charge you the purchase price (as of the time of rental) less any rental fees and, if applicable, extension fees already paid. Please do not ship the book to us once you have been charged the buyout price – that textbook is yours to keep.

What does a buyout price mean?

From the statement above, the word buyout price has been used, and it is essential to understand what it means.

I will use an example to explain this

If Amazon and Apex media are offering to rent you the above book at $39.99 and their buyout price is $388.50. This is very important when you are renting a book.

This means that if you do not return this book on time, your credit card shall be charged the $388.50 as the buyout price, and as per the statement I have quoted above, once the book has been charged the buyout amount, you cannot negotiate with them anymore and neither are you allowed to return the book.

If you happen to be one of the 10 or 20% of students that do not return the textbooks on time, you shall be hit with a bill of almost $400.

This is one of the critical points I had requested that you understand clearly before renting a book from Amazon.

This is, however, not common. Most companies do not usually charge such hefty fees for unreturned books, but, Amazon and Apex media are established online companies, and they are not beholden to any university, and therefore they do not deal with their customers face-to-face.

If you happen to write and complain to them about the charges on your credit card, they simply write back to you and inform you that you violated their terms of the agreement and there is basically nothing you can do about it.

Also read:

What happens if you highlight the book?

This is what they say on their website;

As a courtesy to future customers, we ask that you limit your writing and highlighting to a minimal amount. If we determine that the book is no longer in an acceptable rental condition when you return it, including because of excessive writing or highlighting, you will be charged the full purchase price, less any rental fees and extension fees you have already paid, and we will ship the book back to you to keep.

Where can you find better deals?

Well, this is not easy, because Amazon has the lowest rental charges on the internet today, and this means that even with their stringent requirements, you may just end up using their services as they are affordable and they accommodate students perfectly.

A comparison of the Amazon book rental and Campus book rentals.

Campus Book Rentals  Amazon Textbook Rentals
  • They charge higher than Amazon on book rentals, although they are much lower when you compare then to the other options.
  • They offer free shipping on both directions that is to you and back to them.
  • This is one of the largest book stores for rent you shall find.
  • They do not have any restrictions on highlight or writing in the book, and you can treat the book as your own.
  • They have a live support system to help you with anything you may require from them.
  • Their website is easy to use and their large selection makes it easy to find what you are looking for at all times.
  •  They always charge the lowest rates when it comes to textbook rentals.
  • They offer a 2-day shipping for Amazon students on Amazon prime, and for orders above $35 the shipping charges are free.
  • The return shipping is always free.
  • They offer you a 15-day extension period and give you discounts for extra semesters.
  • They have an e-book service through their kindle.
  • You cannot highlight or write on the book otherwise you shall be charged heavily.

Here are some other rental sites you can consider


Renting textbooks is definitely a great idea if you want to save some cash, but this is a plan that cannot work for everyone. If you know you have a forgetful mentality, or you are messy, don't attempt renting a book from Amazon as it may end up becoming more expensive than you had anticipated.

Always consider the long-term course requirements, because some courses may require you to use the book for the entire duration of your stay in college, and as such, it is much better to purchase the book rather than renting it.

As I have mentioned to you above, ensure that you read the fine print of the website clearly before renting the book, as you may end up making a commitment that will cost you much more than you had anticipated.

How useful was this post?

Click on a star to rate it!

Average rating 0 / 5. Vote count: 0

No votes so far! Be the first to rate this post.