Pearson Intends To Sell Digital Textbooks as NFTs

Pearson, a publisher of educational textbooks, has just announced plans to convert its textbooks into NFTs. After completing their studies, students rarely need their textbooks. As a result, dropping textbook NFTs that can be sold on the secondary market presents Pearson with an excellent opportunity to profit from second-hand sales.

About Pearson’s NFT plans

According to Pearson CEO Andy Bird, the sale of textbook NFTs allows the publisher to track the ownership of the textbook even when it is resold. “In the analogue world, a Pearson textbook could be resold up to seven times, and we would only participate in the first sale,” Bird added.

It’s unclear how, when, or if NFTs will appear in Pearson’s catalog. They may, however, mark a new chapter in a long-running publishing battle. Physical book buyers typically own the media they’ve purchased outright, thanks to legal concepts such as the first-sale doctrine, and they’re allowed to sell it without the original publishers making money. But ebooks have complicated the equation. Any digital transfer creates a new “copy” of the work, and as a result, third-party secondhand ebook sales (along with other secondhand digital media sales) have faced significant legal challenges.

Although a blockchain provides a decentralised version of that database, Pearson is unlikely to use a fully decentralised, open system. It would almost certainly extend an existing copy protection scheme in order to prevent non-NFT owners from pirating its books.

Education and Web3

Bird’s comments are the latest indication that education firms are seeking for ways to make money amid the growing buzz around NFTs and the metaverse.

On Saturday, Hong Kong University announced the creation of the world’s first ‘metaverse campus,’ complete with virtual reality lectures, while Hoseo University in South Korea announced in February that it would begin issuing NFT degree certificates to graduates.

Pearson shares were up 7% in early trading. The stock is up 35% since the beginning of the year after the company turned down three separate takeover bids from US private equity firm Apollo.