Analytics, Sampling Behind VitalSource’s CourseSmart Buy

In Discussion by Edward Nawotka

“As we look to reach into the more traditional parts of higher ed it becomes more fragmented, as you have individual faculty making decisions, so it’s harder to get there.”

By Edward Nawotka and Dennis Abrams

vitalsource ingram logoEarlier this week Vital Source Technologies, Inc., Ingram Content Group, announced acquired the assets of CourseSmart, a leading provider of digital textbooks to the higher education market. The VitalSource Bookshelf platform currently offers more than 385,000 titles to 4 million users across 6,000 campuses in over 200 countries. It offers content from more than 500 of the world’s top academic publishers and distributed some 6.5 million e-textbooks in 2013.

CourseSmart, previously a major competitor, also has some four million users. Originally founded in 2007 by Macmillan, Cengage, John Wiley, McGraw-Hill Education, and Pearson, it has some 90 publishing partners and offers some 50,000 titles.

“We are pleased to make another investment in higher education and technology with the acquisition of CourseSmart,” said John Ingram, Chairman and CEO, Ingram Content Group. “By integrating the strengths of CourseSmart with Vital Source, we are creating an extensive global sales channel for publishers and bringing the best in digital learning technology and accessibility to the higher education community. We are strengthening our services in the higher education market and reinforcing our commitment to helping publishers, institutions, educators and students navigate the evolving landscape of digital learning and succeed by providing them with content in any format.”

CourseSmartIn speaking with Publishing PerspectivesVitalSource COO Kent Freeman noted that international growth was a opportunity for the company, with countries like Brazil and India and regions like Middle East showing an appetite for digital textbooks. CourseSmart, in particular, has maintained a London office, which might assist in operations.

According to a press release, “CourseSmart’s strengths in inventory, instructor sampling and analytics will be integrated with Vital Source’s reader platform and global, scalable distribution network. By combining the two organizations, Vital Source will offer the world’s largest digital content catalog and provide better digital content solutions for the higher education community.”

Among the top reasons for the acquisition, admitted Freeman, was CourseSmart’s superior analytics and digital sampling, which is very important for luring in faculty members. “We’ve been successful at VitalSource that focused on the parts of the market that are early adopters for digital materials and where there is more centralized decision making, such as at institutions that provide distance learning and at for-profit universities. As we look to reach into the more traditional parts of higher ed it becomes more fragmented, as you have individual faculty making decisions, so it’s harder to get there.”

It should be a twelve to eighteen month process to move CourseSmart customers onto the Vital Source platform.

About the Author

Edward Nawotka

A widely published critic and essayist, Edward Nawotka serves as a speaker, educator and consultant for institutions and businesses involved in the global publishing and content industries. He was also editor-in-chief of Publishing Perspectives since the launch of the publication in 2009 until January 2016.