The University of Puerto Rico's medical school class of 2012 will be among the first in the world to receive an entirely digital education through computer-based textbooks, according to e-Book provider VitalSource. The landmark conversion to digital curriculum is another example of higher education's embrace of the cost-effective alternative to pricey textbooks in a down economy.

Textbook prices have risen at twice the annual rate of inflation over the last 20 years, according to a study done by the Government Accountability Office. According to the College Board, the average college student spent between $805 and $1,229 on books and supplies alone...

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