Pearson counts cost of counterfeiting in Q3

Textbook publisher Pearson says secondary sales of its products trimmed back revenues by 3-4 per cent in the third quarter, with counterfeiting contributing to the decline.

Counterfeiting of books – along with rental and the sale of used books – are a feature of the secondary textbook market but “industry wide action on counterfeiting and piracy” are helping to alleviate the problem, said Pearson chief executive John Fallon on a conference call. It has been estimated that counterfeits cost the US textbook sector $70m-$100m a year.

Pearson, along with Cengage and McGraw Hill Education, sued a number of vendors operating on Amazon’s online marketplace earlier this year alleging copyright infringement and the sale of counterfeit versions of their textbooks, and subsequently launched an action against book retailer and distributor Follett Corp.

The trio also announced a partnership with book distributors Ingram and Chegg to make use of anti-counterfeit “best practices” such as supplier verification and information sharing. The books will also feature a certification seal that, when scanned with a smartphone app, will help readers verify that the books came from the publishers and not from a counterfeiter.

The action against Follett was dropped after it agreed to endorse and deploy these best practices.

Pearson reported nine-month revenues up 4 per cent and said it expects to post full-year revenues of £576m-£606m ($758m-$798m).

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