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Amazon goes for college crowd, launches rental textbook service

The textbook industry is under fresh attack, as Amazon.com starts letting customers rent paper text books.

Amazon launches rentals for textbooks Amazon

The ways that college students (or their parents) can now save money on textbooks are multiplying.

Amazon.com, which last year started offering rental textbooks for Kindle users, today rolled out a service for plain, paper textbooks.

Amazon will let students keep the books for up to 130 days, according to the company's FAQ, and Amazon says its service can save students as much as 70 percent, at least off the retail price. Textbooks aren't light, and shipping will cost you -- unless you sign up for Amazon Prime or your order is more than $25, which doesn't seem hard to do.

In expanding its textbook rental business -- naturally, just in time for back-to-school -- Amazon is upping its battle with Barnes & Noble, which also rents textbooks, and startups like Chegg, which offers textbooks rentals as well as other student services, such as homework help, course selection and scholarship tools.

eBay's Half.com offers textbook rentals, and Apple is also trying to disrupt the textbook business, although it's not offering rentals. Apple in January started selling digital textbooks through its iBookstore.

Last updated: 10:00 PM PT, August 8, adding Cheeg services