amazon-textbook-rentalCollege isn’t cheap. On top of tuition, housing and other miscellaneous costs, students are required to shell out exorbitant amounts for textbooks. And if you attend full time, you’re likely to pay at least a grand for books you’ll probably never touch again in your life.

Amazon, constantly pushing its enormous brand into every imaginable industry, revealed on Monday a new service that will let users rent textbooks for a fraction of their sale price. Listings for textbooks that can cost upwards of $170 now offer a “rent” option as low as $50. Where was this when I was in school?

To be fair, textbook rentals are nothing new — Ebay’s comes to mind. But Amazon’s visibility reaches out further to consumers, so expect rentals to pick up a great deal this semester.

Amazon allows a 130 day rental period (you get one 15-day extension), and books are shipped at standard prices. As with any rental service, renters run the risk of paying full price for damaged merchandise — “excessive writing or highlighting” counts as damage, Amazon said.

The timing of Amazon’s announcement is perfect, and will certainly save a few bucks for those strapped for cash.

[via The Verge, Amazon]