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World’s largest school books publisher announces plans to go ‘digital first’

World’s largest school books publisher announces plans to go ‘digital first’, sparking fears that textbooks are dying out

  • Fears that school textbooks could be on the way out were raised yesterday 
  • Pearson is taking the first step by obliging students to rent printed textbooks 
  • Next year, the British company will update only 100 of its 1,500 US print titles, down from 500 this year 

Fears that school textbooks could be on the way out were raised yesterday as the world’s largest educational publisher announced plans to go ‘digital first’.

Pearson is taking the first step by obliging students to rent printed textbooks instead of buying them. Its physical books will also be updated much less often than the current policy of every three years.

Chief executive John Fallon said the switch would begin in the US then extend to other markets, including the UK.

Pearson is taking the first step by obliging students to rent printed textbooks instead of buying them. Its physical books will also be updated much less often than the current policy of every three years (stock image)

Next year, the British company will update only 100 of its 1,500 US print titles, down from 500 this year.

Pearson makes 20 per cent of its revenue from US course books, but has struggled as more students opt to rent second-hand textbooks to save money. The firm hopes they will now switch to its e-books, which are continually updated and include videos and progress assessments.

Mr Fallon said: ‘There will still be textbooks in use for many years to come but I think they will become a progressively smaller part of the learning experience.

‘We are now over the digital tipping point. 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.

‘For the Netflix and Spotify generation, they expect to rent not own.’

But Professor Alan Smithers of Buckingham University insisted print books ‘are so much more use than digital information’. He said: ‘It’s easy to move backwards and forwards. You can pick them up at will and you notice things in them that you weren’t looking for.

‘I do hope that this means we’re not facing the death of the text book.’

Pearson said yesterday: ‘There are no specific plans to move to a digital-first model in the UK at the moment.’

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk



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