British-owned education publishing company Pearson announced the creation of a new platform -- Pearson+ -- that will attempt to offer students more financially flexible ways to access college textbooks.
The app offers students multiple buying options for text books that Pearson said are a more "budget friendly way to access e-books and study tools."
During a press conference, Pearson representatives called the app the "first of its kind" and said it will "fundamentally change the way students access and experience college textbooks."
Pearson's library of more than 1,500 eTexts will be available to users with monthly and pay-as-you-go options resembling other content subscriptions.
Pearson, Cengage and McGraw-Hill control about 80% of the college textbook market and the College Board noted that the average student spends more than $1,200 each year on textbooks. Data has shown that students are increasingly spending less on textbooks thanks to a wealth of digital and print options -- both legal and illegal.
"Students don't need to spend large amounts of money at the beginning of the semester and they aren't tied to plans that give them more than what they need," the company explained.
There are two tiers for users to choose from: the single tier of $9.99 per month for one Pearson eText and the multi tier of $14.99 per month for access to 1500+ Pearson eTexts.
Pearson CEO Andy Bird said it was clear to the company that students preferred the convenience and affordability of digital learning tools like Pearson+, which gained even more prominence during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Millions attended school from home, accessing documents and books through digital platforms resembling Pearson+.
"With Pearson+ we are reimagining the learning experience for students and building direct relationships with them, which will allow us to continue to enhance the product with features they need and want," Bird said.
"We want students to spend less time worrying about purchasing their books and more time enjoying their college experience."
Pearson representatives explained that the platform was developed with students, who informed the company on how to deliver a range of eTexts and study tools in the best way possible.
The app is available in both desktop and mobile versions and comes with offline access to e-books. It also includes audio versions of certain books and comes with notetaking capabilities as well as search functions.
Users can even create flash card sets for some texts and display texts on the app in different fonts or backgrounds. There is 24/7 student support and discounts will be offered to students for Smarthinking tutoring services.
Pearson also noted that the app is 20% of the carbon footprint caused from buying and using a print textbook.
More than 10 million students use Pearson products each year and the company said it hopes to cut into the secondary textbook market by offering more digital products.
About 70% of Pearson's college revenue comes from digital products, according to the company, and Pearson+ is the company's attempt to double down on digital trends.
The company said it hopes that Pearson+ will become their flagship higher education product. More content and additional features are being planned for later releases.