Google Play will now offer digital textbooks for purchase or rent

In Google’s recent Android and Chrome event in San Francisco, Google announced the upcoming launch of a textbook portion to the Google Play store. This update will allow college students to purchase or rent digital versions of textbooks for up to 80 percent off their normally high retail prices. This move is obviously a positive one, as textbooks are easily one of the most expensive parts of a student’s education (aside from tuition itself).

This announcement follows Google’s reveal of Google Play for Education in May, which will work to bring Chrome and Android apps to schools.

The textbook portion of the Google Play store will feature books from five current textbook partners, but no specific prices or price ranges were announced.

As reported by Mashable, Google Play Product Manager Ellie Powers told event attendees that users can expect to see a “comprehensive selection of titles” available in the textbook store, which launches this August. The launch catalog of textbooks will feature a variety of subjects, from math and accounting to chemistry and law.

Google Play textbooks will be readable across the web, Android and iOS devices, and will support passage highlighting, note taking and bookmarks. These can be synced across devices for extra (and easier) reading while on the train or bus, as examples. Finally, books will support a night mode that darkens the screen for nighttime reading in an effort to not annoy college dorm roommates.

Google’s support of digital textbooks comes over a year after Apple’s iBookStore launched digital textbooks of its own. According to a study from Global Equities Research, as many as 350,000 textbooks were downloaded from iBookStore in the three days after digital textbooks were launched.

Even if Google Play’s textbooks cost the same as traditional paper offerings, students should appreciate this additional purchasing option, as physical books tend to be heavy and can’t be so easily searched or highlighted.