The market for textbooks is distorted – there is absolutely no reason that a digital textbook rental should cost five times what a physical textbook rental costs. This is not a market where you can make otherwise common sense assumptions such as digital being lower cost, or assumptions that a decrease in adoption means that students do not want more digital options.
As most students are now required — either by implication or by school policy — to have a laptop by high school, the hardware cost of technology is becoming baked into the cost of education. Not everyone can bear this financial burden, but that’s a longer discussion requiring a more comprehensive solution.
At any rate, an iPad could potentially present a better investment considering its typically longer upgrade cycle. That, combined with a greater focus from Apple could place the iPad in a much better position in an educational context. But the cost of textbooks remains an enormous issue. An iPad Mini is about $300, but the cost of textbooks for a full course load every academic year can be far greater, and those prices haven’t gone down for digital books.