Textbook subscription service Perlego has raised $9m (£7m) in a Series A funding round, to add new features and expand its platform into the European market, according to TechCrunch.
Perlego bills itself as “Spotify for textbooks,” offering access to a large collection of educational books for a flat monthly subscription fee. The library includes 300,000 eBooks from 2,300 publishers, available to subscribers on multiple devices, including iOS and Android. In addition to English-language content, it offers books from German, Italian, and Nordic publishers.
The new funding will be used to expand non-English content, and to add features that will simplify and enhance user experience.
The company says the price of textbooks has soared 847 percent since 1978, triple the rate of inflation, with students now paying an average of £400 a year. The service costs £12 monthly, totaling just £144 annually. As long as it’s able to offer the books needed by students, the platform would be much more affordable than buying textbooks.
“Learning should be accessible for all, but unfortunately, the economics of the publishing industry means that this isn’t always possible,” said founder and CEO Gauthier Van Malderen.
“Our platform widens access to educational materials at an affordable rate while concurrently driving profitability for the publishing sector. This means that more people will be able to enjoy the opportunities afforded to them by education.”
Appealing to publishers will be key to offering the right selection of books. For publishers facing shrinking profit margins, Perlego could help minimize lost revenue from piracy and the growing number of students that buy used books. Publishers including Pearson, Wiley, and Sage are already working with the platform.
Opting for a subscription model, instead of buying used books, could also make it easier for students to access the latest edition of books with the most up to date information.
In addition to “strategic” expansion into non-English markets, the new funding will help develop features for the next generation of Perlego’s “smarter learning platform.”
The London-based company says it’s seen a 116 percent increase in new subscribers month-on-month. Nearly a third of Perlego’s users are professionals rather than students, and the company is aiming to expand its reach beyond formal education.
Perlego’s new round of funding comes from Charlie Songhurst, Dedicated VC, and Thomas Leysen, with existing investors such as ADV, Simon Franks, and Alex Chesterman providing funding on a pro-rata basis.