It said this week it's ending regular revisions of all print textbooks in its higher-education category. As Pearson faces mounting pressure from the resale market, the move signals a growing shift in the publishing industry to a "digital-first" model. From a report:
Instead of revising all 1,500 of its active titles every three years according to the print schedule, the British education publisher said it will focus on updating its digital products more frequently, offering artificial intelligence capabilities, data analytics and research.
Pearson is billing the decision as a way to help drive down college costs for students.
But the company and the education publishing industry as a whole have been criticized for years for the rising prices of textbooks.
That has pushed a majority of students into secondhand textbook markets like Chegg or spurred them to forego buying class materials altogether.
The average cost of college textbooks rose about four times faster than the rate of inflation over the last decade.
"Our digital first model lowers prices for students and, over time, increases our revenues," Fallon said in a statement. "By providing better value to students, they have less reason to turn to the secondary market. Pearson's e-books can cost about $40 on average and go up to $79 for additional learning tools like homework assistance. That compares to prices that can go as high as $200 or $300 for a print textbook, according to Pearson CEO John Fallon, though students can still rent one for $60 on average.