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One of the biggest textbook publishers is tired of not making any money when you buy a used textbook — and wants to explore using NFTs to get a cut

Business Insider logo Business Insider 8/6/2022 (Britney Nguyen)
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  • Pearson, one of the largest textbook publishers, is looking at technology to improve its business.
  • Moving to the blockchain and NFTs would give Pearson some sales from resold textbooks, its CEO said.
  • Right now, the company has no plans to use NFTs, but is interested in it and other technologies.

Buying and reselling textbooks is a common practice for students, and Pearson wants to get a cut of those resales.

Andy Bird, CEO of Pearson, one of the biggest textbook publishers, recently said he's looking at the blockchain and NFTs as a potential way to give the company part of the sales of secondhand textbooks.

"In the analogue world, a Pearson textbook was resold up to seven times, and we would only participate in the first sale," Bird told reporters earlier this week, according to Bloomberg.

"The move to digital helps diminish the secondary market, and technology like blockchain and NFTs allows us to participate in every sale of that particular item as it goes through its life," Bird added. 

As an NFT, the textbook would have a unique identifier that can be traced as its passed from owner to owner. Although the cryptocurrency and NFT markets have plunged recently, people in the industry are still hopeful they will bounce back again.

"At this point, Pearson doesn't have specific plans related to this technology," a Pearson spokesperson told Insider. "However, we are certainly interested in how it can make learning better for students and bring more value for other stakeholders."

But, the spokesperson said technology like blockchain would provide "transparency to everyone and has the potential to be good for authors and students."

Bird told reporters the company is looking at other ways it can take textbooks digital.

"We have a whole team working on the implications of the metaverse and what that could mean for us," he said.

The Pearson spokesperson said the company has made digital textbooks more affordable than print ones, and will continue to do so to make them more accessible as well.

"NFTs would be no different because it would allow us to deliver better quality content than print books and at a lower price," the spokesperson said.

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