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To add a different but orthogonal perspective to this:

My higher-level math courses were pure mathematics courses, and we pretty much always used Springer textbooks, which were only a few hundred pages long and the size of a normal paperback (i.e., not the size of, say, CLRS). When we didn't use Springer textbooks, we used other textbooks similar in size and length (e.g., [0]). I found these textbooks to be completely manageable to read as a student, and they were the best textbook-related learning experiences of my undergraduate years.

[0] https://www.amazon.com/Introduction-Galois-Correspondence-Ma...

I've had a similar experience with linguistics. The main textbook I've used was $40, is a bit under 500 pages (but is smaller than a typical textbook, and paperback), and I've used it for 3 classes. That's the kind of book I'm happy to buy. Meanwhile my experience with CS classes has been a > $150 textbook that is never referenced in class, is outdated, and is seemingly on the syllabus just to have something there. I ended up just not bothering with the books even if the syllabus claimed they were required.

What was the book?

Syntax: A Generative Introduction, 3rd edition by Andrew Carnie. I got it used, so it's probably a bit more expensive if you want a new copy, but it's a great book.

Isn't part of that due to math being quite dense? What I mean by dense is that a small amount of mathematics can express things that will take a long time to understand. Because of the density you don't need a lot of pages to contain enough material to occupy a student for a whole semester.

For subjects that are less dense, you need bigger books.

For instance all of the required and recommended books from the courses I took as part of getting a bachelor's degree in math from Caltech take less space on my bookshelf than the required books from just my first semester of law school.

Toss in the second semester of law school and include the non-required books I bought, and that would bring it to more shelf space than all the recommended and required books I bought for all the science and engineering classes I took in four years at Caltech.

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