College Course Materials Industry Confronts Changing Demand

College Course Materials Industry Confronts Changing Demand

In the last decade, the higher education publishing industry increasingly has inched its way into becoming a more digital enterprise, annually increasing both the digital development process and the digital make-up of products marketed to instructors and sold to students.

While the aim was always on moving students and instructors to digital materials, the transition was relatively slow. The COVID-19 pandemic that erupted early in 2020 transformed the instructional materials industry and the market it serves. The demand was for remote delivery of courses and the need was for digital materials … NOW.

In its new report, The State of College Course Materials 2021-2023, Simba Information examines the ongoing transition to digital instructional materials against the backdrop of new demands for post-high-school education, including the demand for skills training and re-training and the impact that is having on traditional higher education institutions and the types of instructional materials students need and the format of those materials.

Among the changes are:

  • The number of degree-granting higher education institutions in the U.S. in the 2020-2021 academic year decreased -1.3% from the year before, according to the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics
  • Total undergraduate enrollment of 16.6 million in 2019 decreased 0.3% from 2018, and was down -8.4% from 2010, according to data from NCES.
  • Of the top six fields for awarded bachelor’s degrees in 2018-2019, the surging area of interest was in the health professions and related programs, up 93.9% in the decade.
  • The average course material spend (purchase plus rented) per student was $456 for the 2020-2021 academic year, up about $43 compared to 2019-2020, according to according to the 2021 Student Watch: Attitudes and Behaviors toward Course Materials, the National Association of College Stores’ annual survey of college students.

In the report, Simba also examines the changing dynamics within the industry that supplies the market with course materials and programs. Simba analyzes the external forces of market conditions that both drive and impede demand for course materials, as well as the competitive landscape within the industry.