Pearson, the world’s biggest publisher of educational books, has taken step one in its journey to eventually discontinue the production of physical textbooks. The company said that from now on students will only be able to rent textbooks, which will not be updated as often as before. The hope is that students will be purchasing the company’s e-textbooks, which will be updated continually.
John Fallon, head of Pearson said that his company is now “over the digital tipping point.”
Fallon explained that today their annual revenue is half from digital sales. Therefore, they decided, similar to other industries like newspapers or music, that it is time to march forward in the way they make and create their products.
Currently Pearson makes 20% of its revenues from US textbooks. However, it has become more difficult as students increasingly switch to renting second-hand textbooks instead of buying new ones, to save money. In response Fallon said that Pearson will put an end to revisions of print books every three years, a practice that has been the industry standard for over 40 years.
This translates to updating only 100 of Pearson’s 1,500 total titles that are in print, significantly down from the 2019 figure of 500.
“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.”