Cengage is to launch Cengage Unlimited, a subscription service enabling students to access its entire digital portfolio for one set price, in the US.
According to reports, Cengage Unlimited will give students access to over 20,000 products across 70 disciplines at a cost of $119.99 a semester, or $179.99 for 12 months, offering potentially sizeable savings over buying or renting individual products.
From August 2018, students will be able to access a dashboard offering unlimited access to Cengage's online produts, including the use of learning platforms MindTap and WebAssign. Subscribers will continue to retain reference access to key course materials for a year after their subscription ends.
C.e.o. Michael Hansen said Cengage Unlimited would offer an alternative to the “traditional and costly approach of paying for each course’s materials individually,” arguing: “High costs are limiting too many students from being able to access and succeed in their learning. We are taking unprecedented action to break down the cost barriers and end the cycle of students having to choose between course materials they can afford and the results they want."
According to the FT, Hansen described the move as "revolutionising an outdated textbook industry model", saying: “The economics work because we believe this is such a compelling offer to faculty and students that we’re going to attain significant additional adoption.”
The offer is part of the publisher’s goal to move 90% of its US higher education sales volume from print to digital formats by 2020. Cengage says over 2,000 US institutions are assigning Cengage products in over 10 courses, with around 1,400 assigning Cengage materials in more than 20 courses.
Cengage reported a 10% drop in revenue in its 2016 fiscal year.
The scale of Cengage's move makes it a bold step in the academic market, with the FT reporting that initiatives thus far include Pearson offering semester-long access to some individual digital texts while UK-based Perlego sells £12-£15 a month subscriptions to 160,000 e-books and publications from publishers including Pearson, Bloomsbury and Oxford University Press.