Purdue, Amazon reach deal for discounted textbooks

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Purdue University and Amazon are now business partners.

The giant internet retailer and the university have a plan to save students and their parents a lot of money on "college costs."

Books are the biggest expense after tuition, room and board. Studies show textbook prices increasing 80 percent in a decade, and typical students now paying as much as $1,200 a year for books.

"The most expensive textbook I've ever bought was $200, $230," said Purdue student Preston Zhang. "For just one textbook."

"It bothered me for a long time," Purdue President Mitch Daniels said of book costs. "It bothered me as a parent of college students."

Daniels calls the deal with Amazon - the first of its kind in the country - an innovative breakthrough in the effort to make college more affordable. The deal promises textbooks - new and used - 30 percent cheaper than Purdue students can buy them for at traditional stores. Students will pay the same as other Amazon customers, but the internet retailer will stock the specific books Purdue professors require. There's free shipping and soon, order and pickup centers on campus.

The promised savings would be a huge help to students spending upwards of $1,000 a year on books.

"I will probably be returning all my books," said freshman Whitney Rawles, who just yesterday bought all of her books for the semester from a store. "Thirty percent is a lot of money when you are paying $1,000."

The effort to reduce the price of books is part of Purdue's larger plan to rein in the cost of a college education. It's already frozen tuition and lowed student living expenses, including cutting the cost of food by 10 percent.

Purdue expects to profit from its deal with Amazon. Daniels estimates six-figure amounts of money, which will go toward student scholarships and efforts to keep tuition costs from going up.