Pearson looks to NFTs to profit from second-hand textbook sales

By August 5, 2022NFT
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A mobile phone with the Pearson logo on the screen, laying on a table with a book behind it.
Image: © Rafael Henrique/

Pearson’s CEO said NFTs and blockchain give the potential to track and profit from digital textbooks every time they’re resold.

Publisher Pearson is considering turning its textbook titles into NFTs as a way to get a cut of the second-hand sales market, according to its CEO.

Textbooks are often sold more than once as students offer the educational books they no longer require to others, with students buying used books as a way to save money.

It is estimated that students spend between $628 and $1,471 a year on books and supplies, while textbook prices increase by an average of 12pc with each new edition

Speaking to reporters after Pearson’s interim results, CEO Andy Bird said the publisher only makes profits from the first sale, Bloomberg reported.

“In the analogue world, a Pearson textbook was resold up to seven times, and we would only participate in the first sale,” Bird said.

An NFT or non-fungible token is a digital file that verifies the identity and ownership using blockchain technology. NFTs have generally been images and videos, but the technology has other potential applications.

In the recent call, Bird said that the move to digital helps “diminish the secondary market” and would allow Pearson to track digital books as they’re transferred from “owner A to owner B to owner C”.

“Technology like blockchain and NFTs allows us to participate in every sale of that particular item as it goes through its life,” Bird said.

Pearson has been making a push to selling digital books in recent years. The company said in 2019 that it would start releasing its titles in the US college market in digital form first.

This move was done as the second-hand sale of books was impacting its profits, Reuters reported. The new focus on NFTs appears to be the latest development to reign in the second-hand market and push Pearson further in a digital direction.

Affordability advocates have raised concerns in the past that publishers moving to digital options increases their stranglehold on the market by limiting options for students, Vox reported.

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