A reader responds to this post:
Given the staggering costs associated with textbooks these days and the highly restrictive licensing schemes for most e-textbooks, you might want to mention groups like Open Stax. Their goal is to develop a series of high quality, peer-reviewed, free, open-source textbooks for most introductory level college courses. Textbooks are one of the hidden costs of college: prices have increased by over 800% in the last 35 years, outstripping the rise in costs of virtually everything else like health care, homes or tuition. Standard texts don’t change much from year to year, and the costs to deliver a PDF of a book are close to zero. Why is it necessary for college students to pay ~$1000/year (the current average) for something that could be free?
Update from a reader:
He or she shows real ignorance of, and contempt for, the people who produce textbooks. Textbooks, even introductory books in standard subjects, don’t grow on trees. Scholars and academics write and design them, and ought to get paid for doing so.
And this commenter, and, so far this thread, ignore one key reason why textbook prices are so high: the used textbook market. Once a text is widely adopted, students sell them back to local college booksellers, who then sell used texts as long as that book is assigned. This cuts off the payments to the writers and publishers of the standard text, so they stop printing it and produce a new edition, which could be very different or almost entirely the same. If enough faculty adopt that new edition, start the process over again.