Education Publisher Pearson To Phase Out Print Textbooks | Culture

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Education Publisher Pearson To Phase Out Print Textbooks | Culture


The world’s largest education publisher has started to phase out printed textbooks to make all its learning resources “digital first”.


British firm Pearson announced that students will only be able to rent physical textbooks and that books would be updated less frequently.


They hope it will encourage more students to purchase their e-textbooks which are continually updated.


“We are now over the digital tipping point”, Pearson boss John Fallon told the BBC.


“Over half our annual revenues come from digital sales, so we’ve decided a little bit like in other industries like newspapers or music or in broadcast that it is time to flick the switch in how we primarily make and create our products”.


Pearson currently makes 20% of its revenue from US courseware but has been struggling in recent years as students prefer to rent second-hand textbooks to save money.


In a bid to counter this, Mr Fallon said they will stop revising print books every three years, a model which has dominated the industry for the last 40 years.


This means next year they will only update 100 of their 1,500 titles in print, down from 500 in 2019.


“There will still be [print] textbooks in use for many years to come but I think they will become a progressively smaller part of the learning experience”, Mr Fallon said.


“We learn by engaging and sharing with others, and a digital environment enables you to do that in a much more effective way”/


Digital textbooks can be updated responsively and incorporate videos and assessments to provide students with feedback.


However, many of Pearson’s digital products are sold on a subscription basis, meaning authors could lose out in the way musicians have to music streaming services.


Mr Fallon denied this and said the company’s plans would provide authors with “a more sustainable income over time”. He added: “For the Netflix and Spotify generation, they expect to rent not own”.


He said these plans for textbooks would begin in the US, eventually being extended to other markets including the UK.



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Lorna O'Brien

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