Pearson is to partner with American online textbook rental company Chegg to make its higher education textbooks more affordable to use, as part of a new "rental-only" model.
With the rental pilot beginning in the US this autumn, both print and e-book versions of approximately 50 editions of "high-volume" Pearson titles will be available to rent through Chegg.
This is the first partnership where print titles will be offered as "rental only" via a retailer with materials supplied directly by Pearson. This means US students won't be able to buy the books in print any more, whether they rent them from Chegg or elsewhere in the future. Pearson says it anticipates expanding the number of titles included in this programme over time.
According to Pearson, this "rental-only" model will allow the company to reduce prices by up to 60% and ensure that all students have access to affordable textbooks. Electronic versions of the books will be the cheapest option, with all rental prices under $100.
The partnership is the latest development in Pearson's transformation of its publishing strategy. It follows the company's fifth profit warning in four years in January; Pearson made a loss of £2.6bn in 2016 and was forced to take its £800m profit target for 2018 off the table following the challenges it has been facing in the US education market.
At the time it revealed a two-step plan, firstly to slash the prices of 2,000 e-book titles by up to 50% and secondly to launch its own print rental programme for courseware.
Tim Bozik, president, global product at Pearson, commented: “Faculty and students have been clear - they desire the ability to rent affordable print and digital products. This program, along with Pearson’s other affordability initiatives, provide faculty and students with quality Pearson materials at an affordable price point. We are excited to work with Chegg to bring our high quality Pearson materials to students in a way that works for them.”
Dan Rosensweig, c.e.o. of Chegg, said: “Paramount to Chegg’s mission is to increase access to higher education by making it more affordable. We are excited to partner with Pearson, the world’s leading higher-ed publisher, to accelerate our ability to make high quality education resources accessible to every student. We applaud Pearson’s recent moves to focus on the financial needs of students while also embracing the new and innovative pricing models and channels that meet the needs of today’s students.”
Other recent products and programmes from Pearson driving its transition to digital include the introduction of Revel, digital courseware blending author narrative, interactive media, and assessment, accessible by computer, tablet or mobile phone for $65. It also launched Digital Direct Access, a programme that delivers digital course materials directly to students on the first day of class, it says will help students to make savings of 60% compared to the price of traditional print materials. It recently announced a partnership with IBM Watson to create virtual college tutors, too.
In the UK, online degree programmes has been a focus for Pearson. It announced a partnership with Leeds University in March, building on partnerships with Manchester Metropolitan University and with King's College London. It is also working with the University of Exeter on a BTEC research partnership, while rival Keypath secured the 10-year contract to manage its online degree programme.