With the opening of the school year approaching, Amazon.com has released an Amazon Student app, which lets students compare prices and shop for textbooks and other merchandise; and Barnes & Noble announced plans to sell its Nook digital reading devices through its network of more than 630 B&N college bookstores.

The Amazon Student app for iPad and iPhone is a free application that will allow students to compare textbook prices, shop for new textbooks and trade in used textbooks, all from their mobile devices. The app can also be used to shop for electronic appliances, video games, DVDs and other materials and also allows students to enroll in the Amazon Student Program which gives students free two-day shipping as well as exclusive deals on all kinds of merchandise and products.

Julie Todaro, v-p of books at Amazon, said, the Amazon Student app will give students “the best possible deal on their textbooks and all their dorm essentials. Plus for eligible textbooks, when they’re done with the book that can scan the barcode, see the trade-in price and submit the books for trade-in with Amazon, all right from their phone.”

B&N is expanding the sales of Nook devices—both the $249 NookColor and the $139 Nook Simple Touch Reader—at B&N College campus bookstores. B&N will feature a Nook display as well as Nook signage and demonstration units of the devices. B&N also announced plans to expand its textbook rental program—which offfers savings of up to 50% off the list price—to all of its B&N Campus bookstores. Even has its ramps up its digital offerings, B&N noted that nearly 60% of eTextbook purchases were made in the Barnes & Noble College bookstore.

Jade Roth, v-p, books and digital strategy at Barnes & Noble, said “Not surprisingly, given the dramatic impact the current economy has had on higher education costs, finding ways to make college more affordable is on everyone’s mind.”