- Associated Press - Tuesday, January 13, 2015

AMHERST, Mass. (AP) - Students at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst are expected to save hundreds of dollars a year by buying textbooks from online retailing giant Amazon under a deal announced Tuesday.

Students will be able to order new, used, rental and digital textbooks and other course materials through Amazon or through the university’s online student information system beginning in May.

The deal also provides for free one-day shipping of books and course materials to campus and nearby communities.

This will be Amazon’s first online university store in the Northeast, but its third nationwide. Similar deals have been struck with Purdue University in Indiana and the University of California, Davis.

“We know students struggle with the high cost of textbooks and other course materials, and they have been moving to online purchasing. We are delighted to help them get the most competitive prices and first-rate service,” said James Sheehan, UMass-Amherst’s vice chancellor of administration and finance.

Based on College Board estimates, UMass students could save an average of about $380 annually.

College students have increasingly moved away from traditional textbooks to digital and online books in recent years and the five-year contract between UMass and Amazon is another step in the process.

UMass’ existing 8,553-square-foot textbook annex will be replaced by a staffed Amazon pick-up location of about 3,000 square feet in the Lincoln Campus Center.

Amazon estimates it can offer UMass students a savings of 31 percent versus current bookstore prices, or around $1.4 million based on sales of textbooks at the existing UMass Bookstore.

“For years we’ve offered students low prices on everything from textbooks to electronics to dorm essentials on Amazon.com,” said Paul Ryder, Amazon’s vice president of media and student programs. “We’re excited to team up with UMass to bring a new bookstore experience to campus that saves students money and makes it more convenient to get the course materials and other school supplies they need.”

Amazon will work with faculty to collect information on required materials.

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