Going through university, I spent far too much money on textbooks. For some courses, I was able to save a few bucks by going through the used route, but for so many other courses, the professor made us get the latest edition. Yes, having a new cover and a slightly rearranged index is well worth an extra hundred bucks to me.
In order to save a few trees (and a lot of money), it is being proposed that college textbooks should be offered in e-book form. This way, students can buy directly to their Amazon Kindles. No need to go digging through the college bookstore and no need to kill a few trees along the way. Digital delivery will lighten the load of their backpacks as well, not to mention the burden on their starving student bankbooks.
Oxford, Yale, and the UC have already started to do this and Princeton University Press is set to join them. The digital versions will be slightly cheaper than their paper counterparts and, given the prevalence of piracy, I wouldn’t be surprised if some people ended up with “free” textbooks too. Not that we necessarily condone that kind of thing.
The major shortcoming would be the lack of color. As a result, you get a very scary-looking grayscale Emily Dickinson.