Foreword Online

Ideas, information and industry news for collegiate retailers

Is Digital Officially More Popular Than Print?

Posted by Joe Clarkin on 4/26/16 11:00 PM
Topics: digital content, course materials

The popularity of digital course materials has been on the rise for years. With products like iPads, Chromebooks and other web-connected devices being more common, affordable and equipped with ever-more advanced technology, it has long seemed inevitable that eBooks would one day claim the throne that’s always been inhabited by print. According to one education publisher, McGraw-Hill Education, the answer to our titular question might just be “yes.”

Is Digital More Popular Than Print?

What happened

In a report from earlier this year, McGraw-Hill announced that in 2015, for the first time in company history, digital sales outnumbered print sales. What defines digital is different everywhere, and not totally clear in the case of McGraw-Hill. Is it just eBooks? Is it eBooks plus access codes plus whatever other products could loosely be identified as digital? That’s hard to say, but the fact that someone’s definition of digital has surpassed print is noteworthy regardless.

What this means for schools and stores across the country is that digital usage is finally at the place where we’ve long thought it would eventually get to. With this breakthrough in terms of usage, now is the time – if you’re not already – to make sure that you are offering the widest selection of digital materials possible as a part of your store's selection.

How MBS can help

MBS is in a position to help you offer the type of digital content that your faculty is choosing to adopt more often, whether you’re using our system or not. All digital content is fulfilled by VitalSource, an MBS partner, and requires the use of their eReader platform, the VitalSource Bookshelf®.

This partnership provides thousands of downloadable titles to our partner stores to add to their collection of new, used and rental options. In addition to expanding your catalog, VitalSource titles can be made available for sale both in-store and online, meaning whether students are shopping from home (assuming your store has a website) or in the aisles of your store, eBooks are available for purchase.

Selling digital materials

You may be unsure how the sale of eBooks for your store would work, but it’s very simple. Whether you are an MBS Systems customers or not, we will supply your store with cards representing each of your chosen digital titles, which you can display alongside physical copies. All students need to do is bring that card to your cashier, where they’ll purchase it for anywhere between 33 and 50% off the new print price.

For Systems customers, that card will then be redeemed through your inSite portal. For non-Systems customers, your students will go to a unique URL, located on the card, where their book will be available for download. In addition, Systems users can make eBooks available on their website for customers that prefer to shop online.

Offering more digital titles, and encouraging your students’ interest in them does not just benefit your students, of course. In addition to continuing to be the central location for all of your customers’ content by offering more digital, the simple fact that these are not physical books can be a huge advantage. Fewer books mean lower shipping costs, more shelf space, and a much smaller physical inventory. It can even mean lower labor costs if you’re not spending so much time moving real, heavy books around from one place to another.

Expand digital offerings in your store, and you could eventually find yourself like one of the world’s biggest education publishers, with print sales being in the minority. And all without the hassle of managing a bunch of heavy physical inventory.

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