Perlego, the online library that’s lending students a helping hand

Many students opt for second-hand versions or illegal downloads to get the textbooks they need for their studies. — AFP Relaxnews

Making ends meet isn’t easy for students. There are many sources of expense, especially when it comes to acquiring all the academic books on a course syllabus. Now, an online service called Perlego is offering students access to a catalogue of nearly one million books in six languages in return for a subscription fee.

Gauthier Van Malderen and Matthew Davis, originally from Belgium, launched Perlego in 2016 to provide an affordable solution for students. “Not so long ago, our founders... were students struggling to pay for textbooks, like so many of their peers. Textbook prices continue to skyrocket, leaving students unable to afford the resources they need,” reads the British firm’s website.

And the figures appear to support their initiative: some two-thirds of US students have already given up buying or renting textbooks due to lack of funds, according to a 2014 report from the Public Interest Research Groups. Many turn to the second-hand market or to illegal downloads to get the textbooks they need for their studies. This represents “a real loss of revenue” for academic publishers, as Rémi Beaudru, head of Perlego France, explained to Livres Hebdo.

Giving students a ‘fair chance’

To address this problem, Perlego offers nearly one million academic and non-fiction books on topics such as art, mathematics, theology and business. A monthly or annual subscription provides access to this catalogue of works, some of which are available in French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, German and English.

Users can view these works on the Perlego website or the accompanying mobile app, but they cannot acquire them in digital format.

“They can’t download the file, that’s how we assure publishers that we are not part of the illegal downloading problem,” stressed Rémi Beaudru to the specialised publication.

Perlego works with 3000 publishers overall, including 200 French and French-speaking publishers, and has recently signed a contract with the Italian publisher Mondadori. The goal is to offer students and researchers the most comprehensive catalogue of academic works possible.

“We believe education has the power to transform lives. By empowering people with all the resources they need to learn, we can give everyone a fair chance at a brighter future,” say the site’s founders. – AFP Relaxnews

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