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Cengage Is Launching A Service That’s Essentially ‘Netflix for Textbooks’ & It’s A Huge Game-Changer

Netflix isn’t quite the new kid on the block anymore when it comes to consuming digital media, but there’s one solid reason why everyone loves it: it offers unlimited access to tons of television shows, movies and more for one extremely low price. Now, what if I told you that you could find the same affordability and accessibility in purchasing textbooks and other course materials?

While this sounds too good to be true, it can certainly be your reality beginning August 2018. Introducing Cengage Unlimited, the “Netflix for textbooks” service that’s completely turning the industry upside down—saving you hundreds on course materials in the process!

This one-of-its-kind service isn’t messing around when it comes to making education more affordable. According to Cengage’s press release, the Boston-based textbook publisher has created Cengage Unlimited to offer students access to more than 20,000 products across 70 disciplines and more than 675 courses, all for $119.99 a semester (or $179.99 for a 12-month subscription). After paying this one-time fee, students will have access to an online dashboard offering unlimited access to Cengage’s entire library of digital resources, no matter how many course materials you may need. (Uh, sign me up?!)

Not ready to part with printed books? While Cengage Unlimited boasts their vast digital library, Cengage knows that students seek out a mix of media, including traditional printed textbooks that they can highlight and scribble in as much as their heart desires. Therefore, students using the digital platform will also have access to free print rentals, paying just $7.99 for shipping.

And if that’s not enough to get excited about, Cengage has also recently announced their partnership with Chegg, giving Cengage Unlimited subscribers a month of free access to a variety of Chegg’s services for students, including tutoring. 

“High costs are limiting too many students from being able to access and succeed in their learning,” says Michael Hansen, the CEO of Cengage. “Students are either spending hundreds of dollars a year on materials, or else put off buying them altogether because they can’t afford them. And, for many students who do find a way, it’s because they’re taking on student loan debt that will impact them for years.”

Students are “the primary focus” of everything Cengage does, says EVP and Chief Product Officer Fernando Bleichmar, and for low-income students who are burdened with loan debt, this service is an absolute game-changer. Think about it: the textbook industry is so high-cost that it’s absolutely detrimental to a student’s success in the classroom. According to a Cengage infographic, 72 percent of students have put off buying course materials until after their class has started (raise your hand if you’ve been there before!), and 45 percent of students have decided not to register for a course due to the cost. That’s an incredible amount of students who have missed out on a huge educational opportunity!

And the implications don’t stop there. Over the past 10 years, household income has declined by seven percent while college prices have increased by 45 percent. And I don’t mean to scare you, but the reality is this: the average student spends more than $500 a year on course materials, making signing up for classes and buying textbooks an expensive, anxiety-ridden experience. (*cue mic drop*)

“The narrative about improving higher education outcomes has been too focused on the tools and not enough on the learners,” says Sharon Loeb, Chief Marketing Officer at Cengage. “The truth is, while quality is critical, affordability is equally important. Students can’t access learning if they can’t afford it.” 

A quality education and good grades should never be sacrificed due to the inability to afford course materials. Thankfully, Cengage is currently working with its partners at on-campus and off-campus bookstores and online retailers to make this subscription service readily available to students. Additionally, Cengage is also connecting with professors, as they’re ultimately responsible for assigning the course materials. “We work with faculty to convince them what the best technology and what the best content is to teach the students,” Hansen tells CNBC Squawk Alley.

This groundbreaking service launches August 2018, so be sure to provide your email address to stay in-the-know! More affordable textbooks and education will soon be yours.

Amanda graduated from Carthage College with a Bachelor's degree in both Communications and Public Relations. She also proudly served as the Editor in Chief of her college's Her Campus chapter, and as a Her Campus Editorial Intern. She is from Chicago, Illinois, which she can confirm is indeed a windy city. Today she can still be found furiously tapping away at her laptop keys and producing content for the internet. In her spare time she enjoys reading books (before watching their Netflix or movie adaptions), running for fun (yes, it can be fun) and spending time with her friends and family.