More than 1,500 e-books will be available on Pearson’s new Netflix-style student subscription app, Pearson+, which will also feature notetaking features and audiobooks.
The academic publisher revealed its new product last week, which is launching exclusively in the US and priced at $9.99 a month for a single e-book and $14.99 a month for multi-access use. Students will need to sign on for an initial period of four months.
C.e.o. Andy Bird, the former chair of Walt Disney International, said he hoped the all-you-can-eat app will “reimagine the student learning experience" and “fundamentally change the way they buy and experience college textbooks”. In a product launch presentation, Pearson said that more than 14 million textbooks are lost to the secondary market. The new app is designed to help the company regain a portion as it reversed a slump in its fortunes in its half year results last week.
Bird said Pearson+ “finally brings textbooks into the realm of consumer media, and provides learning experiences that look and feel like the content experiences students associate with music and entertainment". The app enables students to sync textbooks between their phone and computer, has offline access, and lets students create custom flashcards.
He added: “For the first time, we're bringing e-books in line with how students buy and experience the rest of their content by giving them more control over how they purchase their learning materials.
“Unlike other textbooks subscription services, students aren't tied to plans that give them more than they need. And they can pay as they go. So, they don't have large upfront costs at the beginning of the semester. Students gain time, money and simplicity.”
In a Q&A Bird told journalists that Pearson+ will be “a clear priority” for Pearson, and it will be marketed to the 10 million US college and university students who use a Pearson textbook or learning tool every year. He said the app will add new features such as skills training in a bid to get students to keep up a subscription even after they leave college.
When questioned, Bird confirmed there are “extensive plans to roll out the model more broadly internationally, including into the United Kingdom”. Chief financial officer Sally Johnson noted that American college professors tend to encourage students to buy their textbooks, in contrast to the UK. However, she said: “Pearson+ in a UK context could be even more interesting for students given the breadth of products given access to.”
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