Pearson will shift its U.S. textbook publishing program to a digital first model, effectively killing future print editions of its college textbooks.
All future releases of Pearson's 1,500 current U.S. textbook titles will be updated in digital versions only rather than in print, a shift from the traditional education publishing model. Pearson called the new program a "product as a service" model, adding that the intention was to have its textbook publishing program "be much more like apps, professional software, or the gaming industry."
The move is being billed by Pearson as an attempt to reduce costs and improve the student experience, with the company projecting average prices of $40 per e-textbook and $79 for "a full suite of digital learning tools." The company added that students who still desire access to a print textbook can rent them from Pearson for $60 on average. Sixty-two percent of Pearson's higher educaton revenue now comes from digital or digitally-enabled products and services, the company said.
“Students are demanding easier access and more affordable higher education materials, with nearly 90% of learners using some kind of digital education tool,” Pearson CEO John Fallon said in a statement. “We’ve changed our business model to deliver affordable, convenient, and personalized 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. 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 changes, the company said, were made possible and driven by "Pearson’s own efficacy research" as well as new technology, including AI and data analytics. They come at a time when Pearson is investing more in all its digital products, including a new "Global Learning Platform" to which the company is moving Revel, a digital college courseware program that is now compatible with Amazon Alexa. Additionally, this fall, Pearson will release a new app, Aida, an "AI-enabled calculus tutor."