The CITE, a blog published by the National Association of College Stores, takes a look at the intersection of education and technology, highlighting issues that range from course materials to learning delivery to the student experience. Comments, discussion, feedback, and ideas are welcome.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Report: Digital Is the Only Way to Go

Developing interactive digital course materials is the best recourse for textbook publishers to regain sales lost to rentals and used books, said a recent report from research firm McKinsey & Co.

McKinsey’s three-year study of the college textbook market showed a steady rise in the number of copies rented by students, accompanied by a slide in the volume of used textbooks bought. Sales of new textbooks also took a hit during that time, but were partly bolstered by purchases to stock rental programs.

By 2018, McKinsey predicted, rentals and used books will each account for 30% of college textbooks, while new books will slip to 26%. Plain-Jane e-books will get 5% and “no buy” options such as sharing with a friend, borrowing from a library, or pirating content will make up the remaining 9%.

Although McKinsey acknowledged that custom textbooks have helped some publishers hang onto sales, “the custom-publishing market is already quite mature, which means that growth opportunities are limited,” the report said.

“The larger opportunity for publishers lies in the creation of dynamic digital-learning resources,” the report noted, adding, “Time is not on the side of textbook publishers. They face a near-term competitive threat from the rental market, even as they serve a customer base that is increasingly dominated by digital natives.”

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