I'm a bit surprised at this article - I studied Physics in the Tel Aviv Univesity (Israel), and I could borrow every course book from the library. Those weren't even necessary, all of the course materials were available from the course website as summaries, formula handbooks and so forth.
U.S universities don't stock their libraries with multiple copies of their course books?
Typically there are 1-2 copies on reserve at the library, but you can only check them out for a couple hours at the time. With a class of 50+ students that's not a workable solution for most. And most don't even try anyway..