If you enjoy reading, but want to lower the price of your habit, Amazon is slowly introducing something new that should heat your cockles: rentals of regular books on your Kindle.

Textbook rental is not new on Amazon, but the rental of non-textbook titles is; the value proposition of renting a textbook instead of shelling out hundreds of dollars is obvious, while saving a few dollars on a cheap paperback is harder to grok up front.

After all, if a used copy of a book can be picked up for $4 or so, why rent a digital copy for a bit more? Kindle owners know the answer to that, I would think: locational convenience, instant delivery, and so forth. Via Engadget, here’s the effort in action:

kindlerentals Amazon is testing Kindle rentals for regular books, with pricing based on loan period

Thus, the discount is heavier on the rented Kindle version of the title, as compared to the regular, digital purchase price. Presumably, pricing for books will follow this hierarchy:

  • Hardcover
  • Paperback
  • Digital purchase
  • Digital rental
  • Stolen

Missing from this list are used copies, given that their price varies greatly. I can report, however, through much personal experience, that quite often a used copy of a book can be had, shipping included, for a cheaper price than its Kindle edition. This rental service will lower the gap between the two.

The rental idea is an interesting one, and a worthy experiment. However, it’s simple to wonder how popular it can be: between renting a digital copy, or buying a used physical version, which will win out? How key is the price difference in driving digital sales, as compared to the convenience factor that Kindle provides?

More options is better, however, emphatically, so this move can only bring good.

Update: An astute reader has chimed in that the above book is published through a university press, and thus could in fact be counted by Amazon as a textbook. If this is the case, we apologize for getting a touch ahead of ourselves.

Top Image Credit: Rodrigo Galindez