Blackwell’s unveiled a new “multi-million-pound” digital learning service for students at the London Book Fair yesterday (8th April).
The platform, called Blackwell Learning, has been in development for nine months by the UK bookseller’s new digital team, based at the “Silicon Roundabout” in east London.
Blackwell Learning will sell e-books and print books from all the major academic publishers, track detailed consumer insight data, and link with UK universities’ virtual learning environments, as well as supporting student bursary schemes.
Matthew Cashmore, digital director for Blackwell’s [pictured], said that the company had consulted students and publishers before designing the device-agnostic service, which Cashmore claimed had made it “more user-friendly and user-focused, managed from the ground up” compared to Blackwell Learning’s competitors.
Blackwell Learning will have a “significant” launch at institutions in June with a “huge marketing campaign” following in September, when students begin their first academic terms of the school year.
When asked why the company had decided to take a digital direction, Cashmore said: “Blackwell’s has been operating as a bookseller for 135 years and the board of Blackwell’s feels very strongly that it has another 135 years ahead of it. It has always had to change throughout its history, and this is another example of that.”
Cashmore also said that the company has several exclusive deals in place to provide universities and their departments with academic e-books, although he did not identify specific institutions. Cashmore did not reveal the exact level of funding that had gone into the platform either, but he said it had been a “multi-million pound” investment by the company. He said the platform was “ the first” digital product coming from the 17-strong Silicon Roundabout team, “but it is by no means the last”.