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Barnes & Noble.com Enters Textbook Wars

Bookseller Barnes & Noble.com launched its entry in the battle for student textbook dollars, launching a new Textbook Store that it says features "the largest selection of new and used textbooks available anywhere online."

The site offers books on everything from elementary accounting, marketing and the basic sciences to the most advanced texts in mathematics and engineering, the company said, and has a guaranteed buy-back policy on selected new textooks.

Barnes & Noble is coming a bit late to this party, and will have to buck the head start from other textbook operations like varsitybooks.com and efollet, among others. But the company seems to be aware of the challenge.

"Nobody is poised to serve this market better than Barnes & Noble.com," said Steve Riggio, vice chairman of Barnes & Noble.com. "The Barnes & Noble name has been associated with education and college bookselling for decades, so this is perhaps the most natural product extension of all for us. We also understand the high level of service that students require, and in this business that means being in stock and delivering to the customer fast."

A quick search on Google showed that there may well be more than 20 online college book stores, so there's no shortage of competition. A site called TextBookHound lets students search a variety of stores.

The B&N Textbook Store allows users to search for textbooks by title, author, keyword or ISBN via a proprietary search engine. In addition, customers can browse the Textbook Store by subject, which organizes titles by area of academic discipline. The site also features book lists from dozens of colleges and universities across the country.

Barnes & Noble.com itself offers an online catalog of more than three million titles, including "virtually every book in print" as well as more than 12 million listings from its nationwide network of out of print, rare and used book dealers, the company says.

In May Barnes & Noble.com began offering same-day delivery service for customers in Manhattan.