In a discussion on the TED website by¬†Richard Baraniuk of Rice University: Called: “Goodbye Textbooks”, he discusses the extension of open source and the Napster model to books. An international consortium is eliminating the waste and expense of technical books and textbooks.

Listen to the video

Another idea that has been bandied about is designed to remove the pressure on students to buy the Tenth Edition of a textbook, when the Ninth Edition is available used. But what new materials are in the Tenth Edition that might be missing from the Ninth? The way to make the used book more desirable is to post on the Internet the (usually minor) changes that were made to the Ninth Edition. A paper printout, inserted into the affected pages, makes the used book as good as the new book. This friendly innovation can save a student many hundreds of dollars. It isn’t a minor idea!

An obvious problem is the reverse incentive that sometimes exists to make students pay and pay because professors can make money by forcing students to buy their book anew every semester.¬† Let’s find some financial work arounds for this.

Here is what an artist was able to do by gluing used books together and painting the spines.
It is not a Zero Waste way to use a significant fraction of the books of the world but it is cute.