Years back, when in yee olde academy, I used to run into costs surpassing $500 per semester for books. I think they're north of $1,000 for a full semester now.
Sooooo, I used to get all my books bought and would immediately head up up to the local copy shop and then spend around $120+ or so and get double-sided copies of all my books on 11" x 17" paper. Then I'd return the books for full refund and then pocket the difference, a savings of up to 70% or more off the cover price. The process would take a few hours but for a poor college student who was literally going without food here and there, it was worth it. It was moderately inconvenient to have to lug around bags filled with of stacks of photocopies but I managed.
Nowadays, this is all obsolete. The copiers are now digital and making digital PDF scans of the books (or copies) is certainly within the realm of reality.
These charming folks here have a scan fixture for $500 (you supply the cameras and light and computer and GPL software, however). I used to hear of frat houses on campus pooling cash to buy one or just a few books which would be passed around to all the members who are taking the same class.
I wonder how long it will take before some enterprising folks to start to pool their cash and buy (or build) one of these fixtures to get around artificially-created barriers such as we see here?