Demand for College Course Materials Facing Headwinds, Sales Forecast to Decline

Press Release
Dec 20, 2022

Rockville MD, December 20, 2022 – A variety of forces are creating a drop in the sales of college course materials for 2022 and going forward. Among the key factors causing the decreased demand include falling enrollment, an increase in the use of free materials by students, the rise of inclusive access (IA) programs, and a slowing rate of growth in digital materials.

These are a few of the key findings in Simba’s The State of College Course Materials 2022-2024, a new report from Simba Information.

Overall, Simba finds college course materials will decrease 3.5% to $3.1 billion in 2022, reversing the previous year’s one year period of positive results that occurred after a long downward trend. Going forward, Simba expects sales of course materials to continue a slow decline by slightly over 2.0% over the next couple of years.

The instructional materials industry is confronting certain hard realities. A major force is falling enrollment, which for the fall of 2022 fell 1.6% from fall 2021, and represents an even larger 4.3% drop from fall 2020, as reported by the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. And with more faculty assigning Open Education Resources (OER)—now being utilized by 40% of faculty, a 7% increase from the year before, sales of fee based textbooks have also taken a hit.

Simba has also highlighted growth areas in this market, though these are narrowly focused. The report found that online distance learning continues to grow and that federal stimulus funding continued in 2022 with 33 states releasing $2.2 billion in funding. In terms of subject fields, healthcare is surging, growing 80.1% in the last decade.


The rise of inclusive access and subscription models such as the launch of Pearson Plus represents a mixed picture, as it can create a source of steady income but also reduce total expenditures in some cases. Another trend that is a mixed bag for publishers is the ongoing interest and spend on workforce education. While this is a growing market with support from federal and state governments, businesses and other proponents, and does represent an opportunity for educational publishers, it also competes with demand for materials for traditional academic fields of study.  

In addition to the findings on the course materials market, the new report provides details on a wide range of other matters critical to those serving this market. This includes: the number and types of postsecondary institutions and where students are enrolling; distance ed; fields of study; federal and state policy and funding developments; print vs. digital; inclusive access; new tech trends; and mergers & acquisitions and operating performance of key companies. Profiled firms include Pearson, Cengage, McGraw Hill; Wiley, and Chegg, among others.

For more information on Simba’s new report, The State of College Course Materials 2022-2024, visit:

 About Simba Information: 

Simba Information is widely recognized as the authority for market intelligence in the media and publishing industries. Its extensive information network delivers top quality, independent perspectives on the people, events and alliances shaping the industry. Simba routinely assists clients and the press with publishing and media industry analysis. Follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn


Please direct all media inquiries to:  

Corinne Gangloff  


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