Pearson, the largest publisher of university books in the United States, has unveiled Pearson Plus, a new digital textbook subscription service. The Pearson Plus app, available in both mobile and desktop versions, will be available on U.S. university campuses this fall and is expected to be released globally in the future.
There are two order levels. Enrolled students can pay $ 9.99 per month to receive one textbook at a time, or $ 14.99 per month for access to the company’s entire library (a selection of more than 1,500 e-books). The application also provides many other tools, such as memory cards, annotations, and customizable fonts.
University textbooks are big consumptionand can saddle some students at the cost of hundreds of dollars per semester. Pearson runs this service as a money-saving measure. Bird estimates the average cost of a digital textbook is “$ 40 to $ 50 over a couple hundred dollars,” meaning students who need at least two Pearson textbooks per semester are likely to save money by purchasing the eight-month most expensive subscription level.
This, of course, with some caveats. Students can save money on physical textbooks by buying them used and getting back some of their value by reselling – both benefits not available through the digital model. And order platforms can always raise their prices, as we have seen from platforms Netflix and Disney Plus to Spotify and Philo to do last year as their user communities grow.
Students must make their own calculations based on their course workload, but it is clear that the value of a Pearson Plus subscription increases with each Pearson textbook assigned to a student. It’s easy to see how the new model could potentially save students money, but it could appropriately put pressure on professors and departments to add Pearson’s books.
This may be part of the reason why Pearson seems to target a loyal and long-term user base rather than a massive one. “Instead of renting or buying, we’re more focused on events, but moving from event to relationship,” Bird says. “As we gain knowledge of their habits over time, they can use many more functions in the app, leading them and us together for a lifelong career.”
Pearson is not the first publisher to have tried such a product, and some competitors have run into obstacles. Cengage provides a similar platform, Cengage Unlimited, price $ 69.99 for four months. Its got into the lawsuits of the writers arguing that the service changed their compensation structures and negatively affected their royalties. Bird says Pearson has figured this out in advance. “How we deal with royalties and compensation has been part of an active debate during the development of this app,” he says.