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Bundling print and digital drives textbook sales

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There is a growing demand for e-textbooks, according to a study by John Smith & Son, a UK academic and professional bookselling chain. E-textbooks were sold using various sales models. The company found that bundled print and e-textbooks proving more successful than e-textbooks sold as a discounted point-of-sale add-on or as a single full-price product.

The study also revealed that titles available digitally resulted in a decrease in used textbook sales. This is an advantage to publishers because used textbook sales essentially force publishers to compete with their own material, which leads to more frequent new editions and, subsequent higher costs for printed textbooks. Titles available digitally saw as much as a 68 per cent decrease in sales of their used, printed counterparts in a year-to-year comparison.

‘With an increase in e-textbook sales over 20 times last year’s units, we anticipate that the [e-textbook] programme will grow for the 2009 autumn semester as publishers recognise that offering rights-protected, digital content is a powerful means of driving revenue growth while also enriching the learning experience,’ commented Tony Newson, digital and online manager, John Smith & Son.

John Smith’s e-textbooks are hosted on Ingram Digital’s VitalSource platform. ‘The study confirms that there is growing demand for e-textbooks as a solution for students of the digital generation who wish to engage with educational content, rather than merely read words on a page,’ said William Chesser, vice president and general manager of Ingram Digital Education Solutions.