Hands on with Amazon Student for iPhone

If you are or have ever been a college student, then you probably know that textbooks are the biggest racket going, and can represent a huge chunk of your budget each semester. That’s why Amazon’s (s amzn) latest iPhone (s aapl) app is so smart; Amazon Student offers to alleviate some of the strain on students’ wallets when it comes to textbooks, so that the money can be better spent elsewhere, like making deposits for kegs or buying a new Mac for school.

Even though the app lets you quickly and easily scan barcodes to hunt for better deals on Amazon than might be available from your school bookstore, really, there’s little here that’s necessarily student-specific, besides graphics. In fact, if you’ve used the Amazon Mobile app for iOS, then you’ll probably feel a slight sense of déja vu. As mentioned, both let you can scan barcodes using your device’s camera, as well as search the Amazon.com catalogue, manage your Wish List, view the Amazon daily deals and check out your account or recommendations. Both also let you view your cart and actually make purchases as well.

Unlike the standard Amazon mobile app, Amazon Student lets you quickly and easily access Amazon’s Trade-In program, which lets you sell select used goods using Amazon as the go-between, complete with free shipping. The only catch is that you won’t get cash for your used stuff; instead, Amazon offers up gift cards of varying value, depending on the item you’re selling. So, as you can see from the screenshot, my used copy of Infamous 2 would net me up to $25 in Amazon.com credit.

It’s actually a great feature, and one that makes using the app probably better for a wide selection of Amazon shoppers, not just students. I know I’ve got cabinets filled with unused books, DVDs and video games that aren’t doing me any good here, and since I’ll probably spend the money on Amazon anyway, I might as well get it in gift cards.

Amazon Student also allows users to sign up for a free, six-month Amazon Prime membership, which provides free two-day shipping and release-date delivery for books, video games and other products. This feature really is student-only, however: You need to have an active and valid .edu email address to take advantage of the offer.

Still, thanks to Trade-Ins, Amazon Student is a pretty solid free download, even for non-students.