Pearson ditches print textbooks for college students in digital-first strategy

By Sarah Min

/ MoneyWatch

Texbook publishing giant Pearson will soon be publishing a lot fewer textbooks. On Tuesday it said 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.

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.

Trending News

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.

Cutting costs

Pearson will eventually save money by printing less. Fallon said after Pearson invests more in its digital platforms, the company can reduce costs for warehousing large amounts of inventory. "This is something we've been working toward progressively," he told CBS MoneyWatch. The company said it already generates about 62% of its revenue from digital products.

Over the years, detractors of online learning have criticized digital textbooks as ineffective, saying the extended time students look at screens is detrimental to actual learning. But Fallon said the company has found that digital textbooks have become more popular in the past few years. "Students are getting more comfortable with e-books as the functionality gets better," he said.

Industry shift

Pearson isn't alone in expanding its digital textbook offerings. Rival education publishers like McGraw-Hill and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt have invested in digital content and artificial intelligence capabilities for years. McGraw-Hill announced in late June that it's also launching e-books and a mobile app for college students.

As part of its plan to expand into digital education, Pearson in January cut thousands of jobs and even sold assets like the Financial Times. In May, it was part of a group of investors — including Chinese technology giant Tencent — that led $100 million in funding into artificial intelligence company Prowler.io.

Pearson is also releasing its college coursework product Revel on its new online Global Learning Platform. The publisher said it plans a fall release of Aida, an AI-enabled calculus tutor for students.

First published on July 16, 2019 / 5:46 PM

© 2019 CBS Interactive Inc.. All Rights Reserved.

Pearson ditches print textbooks for college students in digital-first strategy

The British education publisher already gets 62% of its revenue from online products and is pushing for more

4M ago

Senators slam Facebook's cryptocurrency plans

Politicians accused Facebook of "playing with matches," suggesting it would use Libra as another data-collection tool

7M ago

Brace for more killer heat waves, Red Cross warns

New report stresses the need to protect against the "silent killers" of climate change

1H ago

President of Planned Parenthood pushed out

The leadership change comes as battles over access to abortion have intensified

1H ago

Kamala Harris introduces plan to lower prescription drug prices

This is at least the fourth policy proposal from Harris that promises to use powers of the presidency if Congress does not act

1H ago

Senators slam Facebook's cryptocurrency plans

Politicians accused Facebook of "playing with matches," suggesting it would use Libra as another data-collection tool

7M ago

Kamala Harris introduces plan to lower prescription drug prices

This is at least the fourth policy proposal from Harris that promises to use powers of the presidency if Congress does not act

1H ago

Mitch McConnell says Trump is "not a racist"

The Senate majority leader defended the president's controversial tweets targeting four congresswomen

1H ago

Schumer announces support for bill on reparations

The legislation would create a commission to study implementing reparations for the descendants of slaves

2H ago

Federal judge bans Roger Stone from using social media

Judge Amy Jackson said she was "wrestling with behavior that has more to do with middle school than the court of law"

2H ago

Brace for more killer heat waves, Red Cross warns

New report stresses the need to protect against the "silent killers" of climate change

1H ago

Lunar eclipse on 50th anniversary of Apollo 11 launch

The lunar spectacle falls on the same date when, five decades earlier, Apollo 11 began its voyage to the moon

2H ago

Oil tanker missing as Iran vows "response" to U.K. seizure of its ship

United Arab Emirates-based tanker was drifting toward Iranian waters before it stopped transmitting location data

7H ago

AIDS deaths fall by one-third since 2010, U.N. reports

The data comes from a new report commissioned by UNAIDS, a joint United Nations program

7H ago

Grim details emerge as man confesses to rape, murder of U.S. scientist

Police say suspect "motivated by sexual satisfaction" and frustrated with his own life admitted to running Suzanne Eaton down with his car and then dumping her body in a cave

5H ago

Austin Butler to play Elvis Presley in forthcoming biopic

Butler was one of five actors being considered for the iconic role

5H ago

"Game of Thrones" slashes its way to historic 32 Emmy nods

HBO's "Game of Thrones" has slashed its way to a record-setting 32 Emmy nominations

4H ago

New on Netflix, Hulu and Amazon

Shows and movies you'll want to stream soon

Jun 24 33 photos

Netflix deletes suicide scene from "13 Reasons Why"

The show came under fire for its depiction of teen suicide

7H ago

Meek Mill on efforts to make the criminal justice system a "fair game"

Mill, who's still on probation after a 2008 conviction, decried the "loop" that keeps offenders in the system

8H ago

Senators slam Facebook's cryptocurrency plans

Politicians accused Facebook of "playing with matches," suggesting it would use Libra as another data-collection tool

7M ago

Amazon offers Prime Day shoppers $10 to track their data

The bonus is for consumers who sign up for the shopping tool Amazon Assistant, but the service tracks your browsing

5H ago

Trump will look at investor charge that Google is "treasonous"

The president's comments come as tech giant prepares to defend its size and search practices before Congress

6H ago

Glitches frustrate some shoppers on Amazon Prime Day

Some shoppers said they couldn't add products to their carts, a second straight year the sale has suffered tech issues

4H ago

Space industry rocketing toward $1 trillion

Private investment in a range of space-related businesses is soaring, and it's not just for billionaire joy rides

10H ago

Lunar eclipse on 50th anniversary of Apollo 11 launch

The lunar spectacle falls on the same date when, five decades earlier, Apollo 11 began its voyage to the moon

2H ago

Meet the women behind NASA's historic moon landing

Poppy Northcutt, Joann Morgan and Margaret Hamilton were critical to the success of the Apollo 11 mission

4H ago

How much did it cost to land on the moon?

The United States spent some $288 billion, in inflation-adjusted dollars, to reach the moon

6H ago

SpaceX identifies cause of Crew Dragon explosion

The company has been searching for the cause of a catastrophic explosion that destroyed an unmanned Crew Dragon spacecraft in April

22H ago

The path to Apollo 11: A timeline of the space race

A timeline of major events in the decade-long race to land astronauts on the moon

Jul 15

Nestlé launching new chocolate that ditches refined sugar

Swiss food maker says it's developed a way to make chocolate that relies on its natural sweetness

3H ago

Scientists close in on blood test for Alzheimer's

An Alzheimer's blood test "doesn't have to be perfect" to be useful for screening, one expert explained

5H ago

Netflix deletes suicide scene from "13 Reasons Why"

The show came under fire for its depiction of teen suicide

7H ago

AIDS deaths fall by one-third since 2010, U.N. reports

The data comes from a new report commissioned by UNAIDS, a joint United Nations program

7H ago

"Good news" for those with genetic risk for Alzheimer's

Regardless of how much genetic risk someone has, a good diet, adequate exercise, limiting alcohol and not smoking made dementia less likely

Jul 15

Pearson ditches print textbooks for college students in digital-first strategy

The British education publisher already gets 62% of its revenue from online products and is pushing for more

4M ago

Senators slam Facebook's cryptocurrency plans

Politicians accused Facebook of "playing with matches," suggesting it would use Libra as another data-collection tool

7M ago

Ikea to close its only factory in the U.S.

Swedish furniture giant blames higher costs at the Virginia plant in move to shift manufacturing to Europe

1H ago

Barneys New York reportedly weighing a second bankruptcy

Faced with high rents and a shifting consumer landscape, the luxury clothing company is evaluating survival options

2H ago

Nestlé launching new chocolate that ditches refined sugar

Swiss food maker says it's developed a way to make chocolate that relies on its natural sweetness

3H ago

R. Kelly held without bond on sex crime charges

Kelly had previously been free on a $1 million bond but was arrested Thursday​ on child pornography charges

1H ago

Suspect arrested in murder of beloved Baton Rouge activist

The local coroner's office ruled Sadie Roberts-Joseph's death a homicide on Monday

1H ago

Jeffrey Epstein accuser speaks out

At a news conference with her lawyers, a woman named Courtney Wild spoke out about allegations that disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein sexually abused her as a teen. "No matter who you are or how much money you have, you do not have the right to abuse anyone," she said.

4H ago 02:25

NYC cop won't be charged by feds in Eric Garner's chokehold death

Federal investigators had faced a mid-July deadline to decide whether to charge Daniel Pantaleo with civil rights violations

4H ago

Grim details emerge as man confesses to rape, murder of U.S. scientist

Police say suspect "motivated by sexual satisfaction" and frustrated with his own life admitted to running Suzanne Eaton down with his car and then dumping her body in a cave

5H ago

50 Years Later: Apollo 11 on the "CBS This Morning" podcast

The podcast will travel back in time in the coming days to reflect on the historic launch and landing

5H ago

Astronauts reflect on "inspirational" Apollo mission 50 years later

"They took on a challenge that was so huge, that they knew would alter the course of history"

6H ago

How much did it cost to land on the moon?

The United States spent some $288 billion, in inflation-adjusted dollars, to reach the moon

6H ago

"Apollo on steroids": NASA's mission to get back to the moon

The goal is to return to the lunar surface by 2024, but congressional budget approval remains a big if

10H ago

Watch: Apollo 11 launch on CBS 50 years ago today

50 years ago, CBS News anchor Walter Cronkite brought the frontier of outer space to televisions across America

12H ago

Manson Family murders: The terrifying story in pictures

A look at the cult slayings that shocked – and scared – America

Jul 3 44 photos

New on Netflix, Hulu and Amazon

Shows and movies you'll want to stream soon

Jun 24 33 photos

Evidence photos from the police shooting of Danroy "DJ" Henry Jr.

Evidence from the scene of Pace University student DJ Henry’s fatal encounter with Officer Aaron Hess in Mount Pleasant, N.Y.

Jun 22 19 photos

Apollo 11 50th anniversary: 50 photos from the moon

50 photos to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the moon landing

Jun 21 50 photos

Deadliest highway in every state

These are the highways with the highest rate of fatal crashes

Jun 20 50 photos

Popular

Democrats denounce Trump as he attacks "Squad"

More Democratic presidential candidates are criticizing President Trump for his string of racist tweets and comments targeting four freshman members of Congress. CBSN political reporter Caitlin Huey-Burns spoke to CBSN's Reena Ninan about the response to the president and the overall state of the race.

updated 13M ago 08:59

Groups cut ties with Sackler family

Museums and universities are cutting ties with the Sackler family amid lawsuits against them and the company they run, Purdue Pharma. They're accused of engaging in aggressive marketing tactics for the painkiller OxyContin, which fueled the opioid crisis. Wall Street Journal reporter Jared Hopkins joined CBSN to discuss.

updated 3M ago 06:24

Suspect arrested for activist's murder

Police in Louisiana have arrested a suspect in the death of local activist Sadie Roberts-Joseph. She was found dead in the trunk of her car last week. Errol Barnett joins CBSN from Baton Rouge.

1H ago 07:03

U.S. fears Iran seized UAE-based tanker in Strait of Hormuz

The U.S. said Iran could be behind the disappearance of a UAE-based ship that was traveling through the Strait of Hormuz two days ago. Amy Myers Jaffe, senior fellow at the Council for Foreign Relations, joins CBSN with more.

1H ago 05:34

Puerto Rico gov vows to remain in office

Defying growing calls for his immediate resignation, Puerto Rico's beleaguered Gov. Ricardo Rosselló on Tuesday vowed to remain in office and bring more transparency and accountability to the Puerto Rican government. In recent days, his office has been rocked by high-profile corruption arrests and escalating protests over the revelation of vulgar and inappropriate private messages between the governor and his staff. David Begnaud reports.

1H ago 01:48