A month or so before back-to-school season begins in earnest, Amazon has jumped into the lucrative college textbook market with Kindle Textbook Rental.
Amazon claims students can save as much as 80% off textbook list prices by renting from the Kindle Store. The company is offering tens of thousands of textbooks, which students can rent for periods ranging from 30 to 360 days. Amazon has also extended its Whispersnyc technology so that students can access all their notes and highlighted content in the Amazon Cloud, even after the rental agreement is over.
Amazon’s entry, which comes after rival Barnes & Noble‘s, arrives as The National Association of College Stores estimates that U.S. college stores posted $10.25 billion in sales for the 2009-2010 fiscal year with each student spending $745 on average.
Amazon, of course, has had tremendous success converting the general market to ebooks. In May, the online retailer announced sales for its digital book format had surpassed hardcover sales. Meanwhile, publishers — aware of the migration into ebooks — are attempting to get ahead of the trend as well. In January, McGraw-Hill launched its first cloud-based textbook, which was aimed at the K-12 market.