Since college students today have many more course materials options available, publishers are exploring direct-to-student online sales, along with using on-campus events and employing student ambassadors.
“It’s not in our best interest or the students’ to limit the access points or the purchase opportunities for our stuff,” Dawn Keller, senior vice president of consumer and digital marketing at Cengage, said in an article for Inside Higher Education. “Our hope is we can do some things on CengageBrain to … make it easier for students to find, buy, and register products.”
Joseph J. Esposito, a digital media and publishing consultant, said in the same article that college store professionals are right to be concerned. He said the direct-to-student marketing is part of a long-term strategy to control the textbook supply chain.
More direct sales to students will provide publishers with a way to increase adoption of digital course materials and cut out resellers. Publishers could also build bigger customer databases and turn those into more effective marketing to students.
“People keep talking about how digital textbooks will kill publishers, open educational resources will kill publishers,” Esposito said. “If you look at the publishers’ numbers, they’re pretty good. They have learned to adapt to a challenging marketplace.”