Wired has an interesting article on the state of eTextbook publishing, and the opportunities that are being wasted while the publishers focus on crippling their products with restrictive DRM and archaic pricing models:
iPad, I Saw, I Waited: The State of E-Textbooks
If you’re looking for a textbook example of technology obstruction by the media industry, look no further than e-textbooks.
Over a quarter of college students (27 percent) think their laptop is the most essential item in their bag, compared to just 10 percent who pick textbooks. … Simply put, this generation of scholars is helpless without technology.
Many textbook publishers, meanwhile, are acting like 1990s music executives, slapping on high price tags and copyright handcuffs that conspire to make their products less valuable than their dead tree counterparts.
The Australian Government is currently providing each student in years 9 to 12 with a small netbook PC at a cost of $2.4 Billion ($2400 per student, for a netbook that retails for around $300). While the tiny netbook is filled with a complete suite of Microsoft and Adobe software, it appears that there has been no provision for the supply of textbooks in digital form.
If the Government was really interested in empowering students, it would fund the creation and adoption of open-source/copyleft text books and lesson materials.