I organize my e-books and the supporting files in each folder. Is there any easy way to assign the parent folder's icon as the preview of the PDF file?
As far as I know, it's not possible to do so dynamically.
What you can do is change the icon manually (but then you have to do it for each folder of course...).
Open your icon with Preview. Then copy the image by using the build in copy/paste functionality. Select the whole image with cmd+ A and copy it with cmd+ C.
Then open the 'Info' window (right-click and Get Info) of the folder and select the icon on the upper left corner. If you paste cmd+V the image, you'll see the folder icon got replaced by the image.
And of course, there is an app for that.
As far as I know this is not possible.
Consider changing the icon manually via Preview using the method depicted below. Or, if you're using OS X Leopard or Snow Leopard, type this into Terminal:
defaults write com.apple.finder QLEnableXRayFolders 1
This will allow you to see inside folders whilst using Quick Look on them.