Textbooks can be prohibitively expensive for some students -- particularly those books used in science courses and others that frequently update information and come out with new editions. But some colleges and universities are experimenting with a system that would allow students free access to textbooks online.
North Carolina State University is one of these institutions -- they purchased a license for a commonly used physics textbook for $1,500, which allowed them to offer the book the book to students online, at no cost. Students can print out the pages freely, or they can head to the university's bookstore, where they can purchase a complete printed copy for about $45.
Is this the future of textbooks? Some seem to think so. It seems to be a good deal for students, who benefit from the cost and also the opportunity to print out only the pages they need, but the financial impact to the institution is unclear. How many $1,500 licenses can a college afford, and will they make their money back with bookstore copies? If so, we may me a lot more of these programs in the near future.