Hansen: radical textbook subscription service could transform US market

Hansen: radical textbook subscription service could transform US market

Cengage c.e.o. Michael Hansen says his firm’s new "Netflix for textbooks" subscription model is "a radical solution" for the US market which he "hopes and believes" others will emulate.

Cengage Unlimited (CU) launched in August. Its "all-in-one" model enables students to access all course materials for a fee—currently $179 annually.

Hansen said the old US university business model was "advantageous for publishers, relatively convenient for faculty, OK for institutions, but horrible for students", and said the new model would "dramatically cut costs" for the end users "while still delivering value for our shareholders". He added: "If you do think about Netflix, its library of videos doesn’t have everything, it’s a curation. CU is a selection as well. If the industry moves to this model... students would have to get one or two other subscriptions. That would mean massive savings for [US] students."

The launch was not without its hiccups. Professors David Knox and Caroline Schact objected to their work being put on CU, and sued Cengage. The parties reached a settlement on 8th October, with Knox and Schact buying back one of their titles; the rest remain on CU.