As he started his second semester as an undergraduate, Olivier Mercier was looking for the cheapest way to get the textbooks he needed for his classes.
Mercier, who’s now a sophomore studying business management at City, University of London’s Cass Business School, found three of them on a new service called Perlego, a UK-based company which wants to be the Netflix of academic content. Perlego gives users access to a library of content, including digital textbooks. The physical copy of each of those books would have cost him about $50 on Amazon, far more expensive than the cost of his Perlego student subscription, about $15 a month. The service has a premium version that costs about $20 a month.
Perlego officially launched in January 2017, and raised almost $700,000 for its seed funding round last year. So far the company has won participation by major textbook publishers, including Palgrave, Wiley and Pearson. And it’s currently in the process of closing an agreement with McGraw Hill. Non-textbook publishers it works with include Atlantic Books and Greenleaf Book Group. Perlego also has a free version that gives access to more than 50,000 public domain books such as “The Great Gatsby.” There are publications like major reports, white papers and case studies too. And what’s more, students can collaborate on the platform. For example, one user can tag another to check a highlighted or annotated quotation.
Gauthier Van Malderen, Perlego’s founder, says his company currently is involved with pilots in 12 universities.