Amid Disruption, Publishers Shift Strategies in Higher Ed Market

Amid Disruption, Publishers Shift Strategies in Higher Ed Market

Disruption has been a key descriptive term for the higher education market in the United States for several years. The term continued to be apt in 2016 and remains viable as the market heads into 2017, according to Simba Information’s new College course Materials Market Trends & Forecast 2016.

2015 was a pivotal year in the digital transformation with digital driving more publisher sales that print–even if the sales came from bundled digital/print solutions. While students may continue to prefer print textbooks, they do not necessarily purchase new print textbooks. Simba estimates that the sales of standalone new print textbooks declined 25.3% in 2015. Among other conclusions in the newest edition of this Simba annual report are:

  • The view of print texts is changing, and print texts themselves are changing—becoming more loose-leaf than hardbound.
  • In recent years, the lure for publishers, faculty and students has been adaptive programs, which are seen as a means of helping students master the content and progress through a course successfully.
  • In an era, when publishers are busy transforming their businesses away from the print textbook to digital solutions of multiple component parts, it is ironic that one of the most serious challenges to the commercial business model is the open-source textbook.
  • Among the leading components of the disruption in the current higher education distribution landscape are: student preference for textbook rental; OER; Amazon pickup locations; destocking of textbooks by college stores.
  • Traditional distribution companies have made inroads into expanding their role as a platform for the e-learning process.
  • Changing purchasing patterns among students have boosted (by double-digit percentages) ecommerce at publishers’ sites.

Simba Information expects the higher education course materials market to move through a shift to digital over the next several years that will see digital accounting for about 80% of industry sales and new-course materials sales stabilizing by 2019. And, Simba projects the higher education new course materials market to decline to $3.19 billion by 2019, declining at a 6% compound rate.