CourseSmart and Blackwell’s link up

CourseSmart and Blackwell’s link up

Blackwell’s has announced a partnership with CourseSmart to rent digital textbooks to students for the 2012/2013 academic year.

The deal means the campus bookseller will offer students the option to rent a digital textbook for 180 or 360 days for up to 50% off the r.r.p. of a physical textbook. Rentals are device-agnostic and work on any web-enabled device.

Blackwell’s head of buying, Gareth Hardy, said: “This deal 
is simply about offering students choice. We have already trialled physical textbook rental and… we know students want it, so it is safe to assume digital demand is just as active.”
The two companies will share the revenue of every e-textbook rental, although exact terms of the margin share were not disclosed.

A white label integration with Blackwell’s e-commerce website will allow staff to sell e-textbook rentals to students in store or online, with students receiving an email giving them access to read, highlight and annotate the e-textbook through CourseSmart’s platform.

Books from the e-textbook provider’s publisher-owners (Cengage Learning, Palgrave Macmillan, McGraw-Hill, Pearson and Wiley)  will be available, with managing director of International CourseSmart Fionnuala Duggan hinting at further “significant” publishing partners soon to be announced.

She said: “We are talking to institutions, too. We have had a great response from a lot of people. There is a lot of readiness for this in the market—a lot of people are saying they want this.”  

She added: “Blackwell’s has a great brand. It’s important for us to work with retailers because of what it represents in terms of a commercial partnership for both companies, but also symbolically. It means we’re here to provide a digital platform that works with all the players in higher education.”

Launched in the UK in January, CourseSmart works with around 1,000 campus bookstores in the US—including chains and independents—which represents a “significant proportion” of CourseSmart’s sales there.