This is a question I have been pondering: Has a cost benefit analysis been done on this? Here is what I have found in my limited research on this topic..if anyone has more research please let me know and keep in mind I am focusing on cost, not learning here. Apparently it might cost as much or more to go digital. There might also be accessibility issues. However, there are trends changing this that could make it significantly cheaper. So it seems that the answer to my question, what is the cost benefit? Well I guess it can go either way but if its more expensive now, it will probably be significantly cheaper in the future. Here is the section from an article that discusses this (http://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ERB1002.pdf). If anyone has any other research about this cost please post as I am interested in this question:
“Many believe that digital textbooks are the solution to textbook affordability and accessibility on college campuses. Research by the Student Public Interest Research Groups (Student PIRGs) suggests that many digital textbooks do not currently provide lower-cost alternatives to traditional print books when total cost of ownership is calculated.19 Digital editions can be as costly and sometimes more costly to produce than traditional print editions, particularly as the content moves toward more interactive or “born digital” editions. As digital editions become more interactive, the learning value might increase, but accessibility to individuals with various disabilities can be affected. Accessibility issues can create legal and educational challenges for institutions.20 For many institutions, there is a financial return that comes from course materials sales. That revenue most often goes to financial aid and tuition sustainability, student activities, or capital projects. The loss of revenue in a time of shrinking budgets, particularly revenue to support financial aid, could result in improved textbook affordability at the cost of overall educational affordability.
There are interesting opportunities on the horizon to help reduce textbook costs with digital solutions. Several institutions have found print-on-demand to be an effective way to improve affordability. Some of the open access textbook initiatives also show great promise for improving affordability, and this is an area getting much attention at state and federal levels, as well as among private investors. Most students still prefer print, however, and will often choose to pay for a print edition rather than take a digital version for free. While we expect this trend to change, universities could combine these two areas of opportunity, adding value for students while reducing textbook costs and maintaining campus financial returns.”