Amazon recently rolled out textbook rentals as part of the company's rental arm. Textbook rentals are a great idea for any student looking to read through a textbook without actually having to purchase that book (and wind up with a shelf full of old textbooks years later).
But, there might be a big catch to renting an Amazon textbook. Amazon, it seems, has confined textbook rentals to within your state lines.
A Slave to Your Textbook
Any books rented through Amazon's Warehouse Deals cannot be brought across state lines. Huh? That's right: any book that you may rent through Amazon's Warehouse Deals cannot travel with you out of your current states. What's the deal? Amazon reps haven't commented on this yet, but all signs point to the company seeking to dodge state taxes.
You see, Amazon has been aggressively avoiding charging local and state sales tax. If an Amazon customer brings a rented book across state lines, that state could argue that Amazon is conducting business within the state. In turn, that could lean to the company being taxed by various states. If Amazon simply restricts anyone from bringing a rented textbook across state lines, the sales tax would not apply.
How Amazon Can Tell If You're On the Run
Amazon is going to keep close tabs on anyone renting textbooks through the company. How? This part remains relatively unclear, but I'm going to assume that Amazon is adding GPS trackers to textbooks, and that the company will track these books to ensure that they do not cross state lines. How absurd is that? Not only is it absurd, it's also creepy - and could be really costly.
In some cases, Amazon may charge students the full price of a book instead of the rental price if, and when, that student crosses state lines. But, what's even more concerning is that most students renting books through Warehouse Deals have no idea that they will be violating Amazon rules if a textbook travels out of state.
What to Do
If you are thinking about renting a textbook or two from Amazon's Warehouse Deals, make sure to call the company and find out if you can carry a book outside of state lines. This might sound completely insane, but it's really what's happening with Amazon right now. Plus, you don't want to be charged an extra fee for going on a road trip and trying to do your homework while away, or something along those lines.
The other thing that you can do is check a book out of your local library. Do you really want Amazon tracking your every move? Maybe not. Again, Amazon hasn't commented officially on the state line rule, but it's hidden in that fine print, so make sure you read it before you rent any kind of textbook.
Renting a book is a great idea if you can avoid any strange fees. Whether or not Amazon is legally allowed to charge fees based on state line crossing, however, is another thing altogether.