August 16, 2011, 9:51 AM

An Amazon app creates a mobile college bookstore

An app enables students to search for textbooks from their mobile phones.

Lead Photo

Students can shop for textbooks on the e-retailer's site with a simple scan of a book's bar code.

College students enrolled in Inc.’s Amazon Student membership program now can use their iPhone and iPod Touch devices to compare textbook prices and shop for them on Amazon via the new Amazon Student mobile app.

The mobile commerce app lets users scan bar codes on books to see if those books, or similar ones, are available on Amazon.  Users also can enter search terms into a search box. The home page of the app also features a Sell Your Stuff button. Students can scan the bar codes of books and other products, such as DVDs and video games, they’d like to sell to Amazon. If Amazon authorizes the purchase, a student receives a credit to their Amazon Student gift card balance once they ship the items to the retailer.

Amazon Student is a membership program that offers college students six months of free two-day shipping via free membership in Amazon Prime, but charges a $39 fee for a year’s membership after that period. Amazon Student membership is renewable for up to four years. After four years, the membership is changed to a traditional Amazon Prime account, which costs $79 a year.

Amazon guarantees two-day delivery of new textbooks to program members—or they can pay $3.99 for next-day delivery.

Amazon’s efforts to generate textbook sales have drawn the attention of college bookstores. The National Association of College Stores, a trade group of 3,100 college and university bookstores, alleged in March in a letter to the Better Business Bureau that Amazon’s textbook price advertising was misleading. Amazon responded with a lawsuit contesting that allegation.

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