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Pearson pursues “digital-first” textbooks

Educational publisher Pearson is moving away from print as it announces a new “digital-first” strategy.

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Pearson shifts from print publisher to a digital-only strategy

Future releases of its 1,500 active titles in the U.S will be published in digital form which it says is a “product as a service model and a generational business shift to be much more like apps, professional software or the gaming industry”.

John Fallon, chief executive officer at Pearson, comments on the decision: "Students are demanding easier to access and more affordable higher education materials, with nearly 90% of learners using some kind of digital education tool.

"We've changed our business model to deliver affordable, convenient and personalised digital materials to students. Our digital first model lowers prices for students and, over time, increases our revenues.

“By providing better value to students, they have less reason to turn to the secondary market. This will create a more predictable, visible revenue stream with a better quality of earnings that enables us to serve the needs of learners and customers more effectively.

We've changed our business model to deliver affordable, convenient and personalised digital materials to students

"Our digital courseware makes learning more active, engaging and immersive, improving outcomes for students and their teachers, and helping college leaders meet the growing demand for lifelong learning."

The news has been met with criticism from the print industry. Two Sides in the UK, which works to promote the positive attributes of print and paper, shared the story on Twitter, stating: “With 84% of people agreeing that they understand & can retain or use information much better when they read print on paper we strongly disagree with @Pearson_UK's decision here.”

Pearson added that college students in the U.S already access “over 10 million digital courses and e-books” from the company, and the decision has been made to “reduce costs” and “improve the experience for students”.

Students who still want print textbooks will be able to rent one from Pearson, “for an average price of $60 (£48)”, but prices are lower for students at one of the 700 colleges or universities that are part of Pearson’s Inclusive Access solution that provides each student with the same materials, included as part of their tuition fee. 

If you have a news story, email summer@linkpublishing.co.uk or follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn to join the conversation. 


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