A flight to Russia, a jacuzzi or a new laptop. 

Approximately $650 each, the price for each of these items is roughly equivalent to the average annual cost of college textbooks, according to the National Association of College Stores.

"The assumption of that question is that textbooks are expensive, which everybody believes," said Jim Stovall, a professor of journalism and electronic media. "And I would argue that when you consider what you get out of a textbook, if it's good, and what has gone into that, and the information that's there and the ideas that are there, textbooks are ... cheap."

Stovall, a textbook author himself, admits that his view is not popular. However, he stands by his assertion that textbooks are worth the higher cost.

"This is not a Harry Potter novel," Stovall said. "This is something that some academic or some set of academics probably, somewhere spent years putting together."

Others disagree, citing the industry as the underlying cause of steep prices.

"There are a lot of factors that predict prices of textbooks, but the textbook monopoly as a whole is to blame," said Phillip Kravstov, CFO of PostYourBook.com. "First, there are way too many factors in between an author writing a textbook and (a) student buying it.

"Every single group of people who touch the book mark it up to make profit."

Although Stovall argues that textbooks are priced fairly, students and businessmen like Kravstov continue to develop ways to lower the cost of college education.

"PostYourBook.com was started out of frustration," Kravstov said. "My freshman year, I paid $800 for my textbooks in the beginning of the semester from my local university bookstore."

Kravstov's company is a forum for college students all over the nation to buy and sell textbooks directly to one another, currently servicing approximately 200,000 U.S. students.

"Its purpose is to eliminate the middle man, create an environment where students can easily sell from one to another for fair prices," Kravstov said. "Sellers get more money than buy-back programs would offer them and buyers do not pay full price. Everybody wins."

Tierney McGregor, a pre-veterinary senior majoring in psychology, envisions a more appealing system, in which the professor having the materials in his or her possession and "loaning" them to students in the class.

"So like, if you lose the book, the teacher will keep whatever money you gave him and then, if you return it in good shape, then you can get your money back or something like that," McGregor said.

As society moves toward digital formats, many expect the textbook publishing industry will follow suit.

"Well, obviously it's moving electronically, so I think that'll probably take over the market," said Morgan Peck, a junior biology major.

"We're beginning to see the advent of multimedia text, particularly with Apple's iPad," Stovall said. "And that's gonna change just about everything, in terms of not just what's in textbooks and how they are produced, but how they're marketed and sold."

Kravstov, on the other hand, said he is less concerned about the demise of paper. At least, not yet.

"I think publishing will be extinct in the future, but I don't think it will happen in our lifetime," Kravstov said. "The current generation, professors and students alike, gain certain intellectual comfort from reading a physical book then an electronic one."