Blackwell’s has launched its academic e-book platform in beta today (15th September).
After over a year of hard work behind the scenes, the company’s technology development team based on London’s “Silicon Roundabout” has readied the platform in the nick of time for the Back to University season.
Students will be able to sign up to and buy digital academic textbooks from the new website which has been “built with students every step of the way,” from later today. It has digital textbooks from all academic publishers, including Pearson, Cengage, Wiley, McGraw Hill and Cengage.
Matthew Cashmore, Blackwell’s digital director, told The Bookseller: “All the major publishers are on board, we are not leaving out anybody. They have been absolutely brilliant, very supportive, I cannot praise them enough. They have been giving us really good feedback and I think they are also supportive of the extra competition in the market. We have built this from scratch with students in mind, it is not something that existed as something else and we turned into a student platform.”
Students will be able to annotate and highlight the textbooks they buy. “Every day for the next few months we will be adding functionality. We will be in continual development, but let me be clear, the platform has launched today and we expect students to be using it,” Cashmore said. “If a publisher or university wants us to add a specific functionality, we will do it.”
In terms of the Blackwell Learning price offer, Cashmore said: “As with print we are making sure we’re the most competitive around - value is massively important to students as they head to or return to university.”
Cashmore also revealed the company had cemented deals directly with several universities, to be revealed in the next few weeks. The deals are likely to involve students being able to use and download books from the platform as part of a university service included in their tuition fees.
Cashmore said the development team (pictured below) also planned to develop a Blackwell Learning Apple watch app which would allow students to download the books onto their devices from a Blackwell shop.“Blackwell shops are going to absolutely be a part of this,” Cashmore said.
The Bookseller revealed Blackwell’s was working on a digital platform Blackwell Learning at London Book Fair. While the company would not disclose the exact amount of money invested in the platform, The Bookseller understands it is a “multi-million pound” development.