Textbook publisher Pearson Plc. hopes to utilize non-fungible tokens and blockchain technology in order to eke out a profit from the secondhand market.
The print editions of Pearson titles are often resold several times to other students, with Pearson only seeing a profit at the initial point of sale. Through NFTs and the blockchain, CEO Andy Bird hopes the company can take a cut from these secondhand sales as more textbooks become digital and move online.
“In the analogue world, a Pearson textbook was resold up to seven times, and we would only participate in the first sale,” Bird said. “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,” said the former Disney executive.
Last year, a consortium of fashion brands partnered together to offer a blockchain solution for customers of theirs seeking greater authenticity. While the blockchain solution was intended primarily to combat counterfeiting, it also facilitated the reliable resale of luxury goods.
Although the NFT market has taken a dive since a boom in speculation during the pandemic, Pearson and its competitors have been working on ways to capitalize on the transition to digital. A paper book market, where an individual title can cost more than £100, is shifting to a digital market, where online textbooks are leased through subscriptions.
In addition to NFTs and blockchain, Bird said that the company was taking a holistic approach to the new technology. “We have a whole team working on the implications of the metaverse and what that could mean for us,” Bird said. Besides posting results ahead of analyst estimates earlier this week, Pearson announced it would find £100 million in cost savings, and launched a strategic review of a Virtual Learning business called OPM.