Faced with a growing threat from devices like the Kindle, a US bookseller has announced a new scheme to rent textbooks to students, thereby saving them huge initial costs at the start of the school year.
Cengage Learning from Connecticut says its new CengageBrain.com service will be up and running later this year, offering new textbooks at up to 70 per cent off the purchase price.
Keep or return
When the rental period is over, students can choose to keep the books and pay the difference or return them for Cengage to rent out again the following term.
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To directly counter the 'instant on' appeal of e-book delivery, Cengage is throwing in immediate access to an electronic version of the early chapters of each book to tide students over while they wait for the hard copy to arrive by mail.
Second-hand to die out?
If the scheme results in each book making money several times over, then it's easy to forecast a broader appeal for more book sellers, but it could mean the death of the used-book shop if it combines with e-books to wipe out the second-hand trade altogether.