Pearson breaks from print with 'digital first' policy for US titles

Pearson breaks from print with 'digital first' policy for US titles

Pearson will start releasing its updated US titles in digital form first as it breaks with traditional educational publishing and begins phasing out print textbooks.

The company said its 1,500 US titles would now be updated with a “digital first” policy, updated on an ongoing basis driven by developments in the field, new technology and data analytics. Students who want a physical textbook will still be able to to rent one, the firm said, but they would be updated less often than currently, where revisions are made every three years.

Pearson has been affected by a downturn in the US courseware market in recent years as students switch to renting second-hand textbooks.

The move also comes after education publishers McGraw-Hill and Cengage announced they were merging, creating a major new player in the market with a commitment to affordable courseware for students.

Pearson c.e.o. John Fallon said: “Students are demanding easier to access and more affordable higher education materials, with nearly 90% of learners using some kind of digital education tool.

“We’ve changed our business model to deliver affordable, convenient and personalized digital materials to students. Our digital first model lowers prices for students and, over time, increases our revenues. By providing better value to students, they have less reason to turn to the secondary market. This will create a more predictable, visible revenue stream with a better quality of earnings that enables us to serve the needs of learners and customers more effectively.”

“Our digital courseware makes learning more active, engaging and immersive, improving outcomes for students and their teachers, and helping college leaders meet the growing demand for lifelong learning.”

According to Pearson, college students already access more than 10 million digital courses and e-books annually form the company. It said the move would reduce costs and improve students’ experience.

Students will pay an average price of $40 for an e-book and $79 for a full suite of digital learning tools. Print textbooks will be available to rent from Pearson for an average price of $60.