This is a pretty interesting article regarding options and alternatives that could arise in the near future regarding the cost of textbooks for college students. Sure, students have options that students in the pre-Internet age never had. Students can get the reading list from a professor prior to the semester and search for their texts online (via Amazon or eBay), allowing students to shop for the best bargain. But who knows, what if textbooks become eBooks? This option is likely going to develop, but it's interesting to see how these will catch on. I know I prefer an actual book now, but in a few years, will my tastes change?
The bottom line is that the cost of textbooks could come way down, and for students who do not get to rent their textbooks, this could be a great development.
"what if, instead of selling paper books to students, publishers sold digital copies? Already some textbooks are available online or in downloads, but students need easier access to information than a standard 7-pound, battery-limited laptop can provide. An instant-on electronic book is just the ticket. The technology is here, or nearly so. If the textbook content was licensed to the user and not resellable, then the publisher could sell it to each individual who needed it. There'd be no secondary market and the publishers would not have to inflate their prices to make up for that." See here for more.