Pearson is one of the largest publishers of textbooks and they are looking to make money from second-hand books by turning them into non-fungible tokens (NFTS).This is a stark departure from their normal business operations, which involve selling new print or digital textbooks or using a subscription platform to get access to a bunch of digital editions.
The print editions of Pearson’s textbooks can be resold a copious number of times and the publisher doesn’t make any money on the secondary market, but they are hoping to change that. Andy Bird, the education publisher’s chief executive, said blockchain technology would allow it to place trackable codes into the digital editions of textbooks, letting them take a slice of the resale value.
Blockchain technology should allow Pearson to demand payment each time its academic guides change hands. Mr Bird said: “In the analogue world, a Pearson textbook was resold up to seven times. We would only participate in the first sale, and it created what is known as the secondary market. “The move to digital helps diminish the secondary market, and technology like blockchain and NFTs allows us to participate in every sale of that particular item as it goes through its life,” by tracking the material’s unique identifier on the ledger from “owner A to owner B to owner C.”
What are NFTS? They are basically an offshoot of cryptocurrencies that allow digital items to be given a unique code and can follow a clear path of ownership. Whereas typical textbooks or ebooks are merely licensed to the customer and not actually owned. The whole purpose of NFTS is to prevent duplication and track ownership. If Pearson can pull off the ability to resell digital textbooks as NFTS, this can change the entire digital publishing industry.
Michael Kozlowski has been writing about audiobooks and e-readers for the past twelve years. His articles have been picked up by major and local news sources and websites such as the CBC, CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and the New York Times. He Lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.