Two major players—and competitors—have joined forces in providing textbooks to college and university students. Corporate bookseller Pearson has announced a new partnership with rental specialist Chegg to “provide students with affordable rental options for both print and e-book versions of popular Pearson higher education titles,” according to a press release. Please have a look.
It’s clear that textbook rentals have influenced the sales market. The prices in the announcement may still seem steep to many students, but competition has undoubtedly produced rewards for consumers. Something to consider is that, now that these two companies have a combined strategy, it obviously means they won’t be competing anymore. It’s a good guess, however, that students will have other opportunities to shop around, especially online. Startups have sprouted like roofers after a hailstorm.
So far the Legislature does not appear poised to take any major steps to restrict the ability of instructors to choose the most appropriate materials for their students. A few proposals have surfaced to offer textbooks tax-free, but this would only provide a small reduction in costs, and lost revenue would have to be made up from somewhere else.
The wild card here obviously is Open Educational Resources (OER). You can almost feel the shock waves in the publishing industry, as OER titles grow and improve in quality.
Here is a recent article by Ben Gose, in the Chronicle of Higher Education, on the “growing pains” of the OER movement. Pains aside, more help is probably on the way to reduce the costs of textbooks and other material for students.