Pearson, one of the largest educational publishers in the world is making a serious push towards digital. They are dropping the prices of its e-book rentals and piloting a new program for print textbook rentals. This is been done because they experienced a £180m decline in profits over the course of 2016 and now predicts that “many of these downward pressures will continue”.
The company already provides e-book rental options on more than 2,000 titles, but beginning later this month students will see savings of up to 50% on many of those materials. Students will be able to rent e-books through the same, trusted online retailers they’ve always used, just at a lower cost. In addition, fifty of the most popular print textbook titles will be available for Fall 2017 classes through the new print rental program. The print textbooks will also be available through many of the same retailers that currently rent Pearson titles.
“Students have been clear in telling us they want more choices when selecting course materials,” said Tim Bozik, Pearson’s President of Global Product. “We understand that many students are stretched financially and that college is a significant investment for them. Pearson has long been developing new ways to make college more affordable and more accessible.”
With nearly two-thirds of full time students paying for college with financial aid, Pearson has been taking steps to make education more affordable and accessible. In 2016, the company introduced the digital courseware tool, Revel, which blends authors’ narrative, interactive media, and assessment, accessible on students’ computer, tablet or mobile phone. Students can access Revel for as little as $65. Other programs, like Digital Direct Access, deliver course materials directly to students on the first day of class up to 60 percent less than traditional print materials. Last October, Pearson also announced a partnership with IBM Watson to develop virtual tutors for students.
Nearly 75% of college students are now juggling work and family commitments while in school. Pearson’s rental program will offer these students a way to ease the demands on their time while also saving them money on course materials. This will also increase the likelihood of students having materials on the first day of class. When students struggle with obtaining textbooks or delay their purchases, they take fewer courses and are at higher risk of dropping, withdrawing from or failing courses.
“Students and faculty both want materials that are flexible and compatible with laptops and mobile devices,” Bozik said. “It’s time to provide course materials that are both affordable and in-sync with how faculty and students teach and learn today.”
Michael Kozlowski is the Editor in Chief of Good e-Reader. He has been writing about audiobooks and e-readers for the past ten 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.