Arrivederci college textbooks! Buon giorno e-reader!

Kindle In my elementary school days, I loved back-to-school shopping. With a list from my new teacher, my mom would take me to the nearest Staples to buy the supplies I needed for the coming year. You know, pens, pencils, a protractor, notebooks, etc.

Back-to-school shopping in my college years was another story. You would still need the basics, but this time around you had to buy your books. Expensive books. The National Association of College Stores estimates that students spend an average of $745 on books each year! For most of my college friends, that money would’ve been better spent in the dining hall or local bar.

I wish I thought of the idea years ago, but Barnes & Noble, and now Amazon, are offering students the opportunity to rent etextbooks for their Nooks or Kindles. This week, Mashable reported that tens of thousands of textbooks are available to rent on Amazon, for periods ranging from 30 to 360 days. Through its Whispersync technology, students can also access their notes in the Amazon Cloud, after the rental agreement is over.

Not only will Amazon’s new offering save students money (the company says as much as 80% off textbook list prices), it will also save them from lugging huge books around campus and subsequent visits to a chiropractor.

In my opinion it’s a no-brainer for students (and their wallets). Although I expect both launches to be successful, it will be interesting to see which device students prefer to learn on, the Nook or Kindle, come in September. 

Contributed by Jena Coletti. Follow her @jmcoletti