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You might have heard about Amazon’s announcement that they have created a textbook rental program.  I think this is a great step — anything that makes it easier for faculty and students to find cheaper textbook alternatives with an interface they might recognize is a good thing.  And I love that students will be able to access their notes even after their rental book expires – that is very important.


However, Amazon’s manifestation of this idea is not a good thing.  In my email to their feedback contact, I outline why:

Dear Auto-response or human,

For your sake and mine, I’m hoping one huge glaring problem can be fixed with the rental Kindle textbooks before university classes get started in the Fall.

The problem is how editions of books are shown in the store.  Right now, if I go to the literature section of the Textbook store, I’ll see titles such as “Pride and Prejudice (Barnes & Noble Classics)” or “A Tale of Two Cities (Penguin Classics)” but the Kindle books attached to these items are not the B&N Classics or Penguin Classics editions, and this will be VERY important for students who are assigned a particular edition by their professors precisely so they can read the supplemental materials included by Penguin or B&N.  The Kindle editions are just Project Gutenberg knock-offs, and the students will get very frustrated since they can’t figure out how to get the edition they actually need for class.

PLEASE, start putting some decent publication information on the Kindle books!  I would truly love to see Amazon enter the Textbook market – I think Amazon makes an excellent ebook product, except when it comes to anything that requires a particular edition of a book.  As a book company, you of all companies should know that all editions of one title are not the same.  Please fix this so we won’t hear the complaints come this fall.

Thank you…

I’m sure there is a much better way to explain what I’m trying to describe here.  Do you see this as a potential problem for your campus?  How would you fix this?