Amazon versus borders

Students who rent textbooks through’s Warehouse Deals, Inc. may be unknowingly agreeing to an unusual condition: They are not permitted to cross state borders with their books, as Inside Higher Ed reportsimgres

According to the Textbook Rental Terms and Conditions page on, when renting through Warehouse Deals, which is an Amazon subsidiary, “You may not move the textbook out of the state to which it was originally shipped. If you wish to move the textbook out of that state, you must first purchase the textbook.”

If Amazon does determine that a renter has moved his or her book to a different state “at any time during the rental period,” the company at its “sole discretion” can charge the consumer the buyout price of the textbook.

Some experts believe the policy is another reflection of the extreme lengths to which the company continues to go in order to avoid collecting state sales taxes. But could Amazon’s use restriction and other complicated rental conditions cause problems for students or lead potential textbook renters to take their business elsewhere?

It seems like a policy that would be nearly impossible to enforce. But Richard Hershman, vice president of government relations at the National Association of College Stores, points out that if a student has textbooks sent to her home state and ships them back from a different state where she attends college, Amazon could easily note the new shipping location.

And a penalty could be costly. For example, a student who rents a sixth edition chemistry textbook by John E. McMurry and Robert Fray and has it shipped to Pennsylvania will pay $54.58 before shipping and handling fees. That book has a buyout price of $150.49. If Amazon discovers that the student violated the rental terms and conditions by moving the book out of Pennsylvania, the student could be charged the $96 difference. (These numbers are as of August 15. Online textbook prices are constantly fluctuating, especially directly before the fall semester begins, noted Hershman.)

The “textbooks with borders” condition applies only to books rented through Warehouse Deals and not any other third-party sellers, according to
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