Originally Posted by Madam Broshkina
I do not think that a subscription based system is such a bad deal for text books. A lot of students tend to sell their books at a loss when they are finished with them anyway. Since the text books are advertised at 50 percent off the normal hard cover price the costs may work out in the end. Plus you have the ability to search through the text. I would much rather have all my text books on a netbook rather then carry a bunch of hard copies around.
There's actually a service that kinda does that already. I forgot the name of the website (chapter1?), but you can "rent" individual, specific chapters of a textbook for like $5 each, and your downloaded copy is good for 6 months (or maybe a year, I can't remember). You're also allowed to print out the chapters (an infinite number of times, I believe). The program just prints out your name at the top of each page.
Sure, it ends up costing more than the actual book if you need to buy all the chapters, but I've noticed you usually only need parts of the book. There's also the plus factor of only needing to carry either your laptop (digital copy), or a few sheets of paper (print-outs) to class. That's what I did for my math class. We only needed like 3 or 4 chapters from the textbook and I was kinda running out of time - put off buying it until last minute, when I checked the bookstores, it was already out of stock and I had homework to submit the next day. I bought a chapter since it's an emergency, with the intention of buying a physical copy of the textbook. The service worked pretty well for me that I just bought the remaining chapters from the website, too.