Adjunct faculty are typically paid on a per-course-taught basis and can make as little as $400 per subject , although it's most common to see pay of about $1500–$2500 per subject. To pick one well-documented discipline in particular, psychology professors make a median of $2500 per subject taught at the graduate level .
This blog post guesses without giving evidence that the instructor may be making $5 off of each of his 250 students (who each paid $150 for a textbook), which would represent total textbook-company revenue of $1250.
To be sure, not all faculty are paid as poorly as adjuncts —  cites an estimate that adjunct faculty earn 26% less than tenured professors — but there is not a lot of money in teaching undergraduates, and for many kinds of instructors, textbook fees have the potential to become a substantial alternate revenue stream.
They sound what my uni called "bricks" - a bunch of licensed copies of reading material, all stapled together. They cost about $10-$50, as opposed to $50-$100 for a 101 text (note, this is Australia, the US has more expensive additions of textbooks for no good reason).
There are two kinds of bricks - draft textbooks, and collections of papers.
It's quite common to get a draft textbook as a brick one year, then laugh at the students the next year who pay for the textbook when it's finally published.
It seems a bit weird to publish a collection of papers as a textbook, especially at a low undergrad level, but I hear it's happening these days.
<I>It seems a bit weird to publish a collection of papers as a textbook, especially at a low undergrad level, but I hear it's happening these days.</I>
Took a macro-economics class at my local community college. One of the required texts was a collection of essays that the professor had written (much of it incoherent blabble but that's a different topic), collected into a 130-page paperback that looked like it might cost $3.99 at the local BN. Cost: $55. No copy available in the library.
Adjuncts do not generally write textbooks and get kickbacks for them. They choose one of the 'standard' textbooks, and use the online problem set for that book. They do this not because they get compensation for it, but because it's the path of least resistance.
I find it kind of sad that you would speculate like this, without any specific examples (let alone proof of a general trend!) about the motives of the adjuncts. :(
Hmm, my reading of the original blog post is perhaps a bit different than yours.
This post seems to provide evidence that people who do not traditionally write textbooks (not the top hundred faculty members in a field) are being afforded a new opportunity by textbook companies to "write a book", which either means "pick and choose some portions of the standard textbook" (discussed elsewhere in the comments) or "publish a 'course reader'-style collection of readings as a book" (discussed in this blog post).
It seems to me that this new opportunity also represents a new revenue stream for more faculty members than currently receive textbook kickbacks.