The next thing millennials are set to kill? College textbooks

Over the years, millennials have been labeled as the "fall guy" for many brands and products losing their luster.

Everything from canned tuna and low homeownership to the death of American cheese have all been directly linked to adults ages 18 to 35 turning their noses up at the traditional staples.

Now, the largest U.S.-based textbook publisher, Cengage, says traditional printed college textbooks are poised to be next.

Since August, Cengage CEO Michael Hansen tells FOX Business that more than 1 million college students have signed up for its "first-of-its-kind" digital subscription model for textbooks.

"We are essentially disrupting the industry from within," Hansen says, dubbing its program as the "Netflix of textbooks."

The new model works by giving college students access to all of its 24,000 textbook titles through an online subscription service for a flat rate of $120 per semester. The only caveat, is limited printing capabilities. But students are able to "rent" the actual books, if needed.

Hansen says a typical student spends around $500 a semester on books.

"This is more affordable for millennials today. We have an affordability crisis in this country around education and this new model has already saved students in the U.S. around $60 million dollars," he adds.

And since its debut, millennials at universities and colleges across the country have been signing up the service in droves, according to Hansen.

"We reached 1 million subscribers in six months. It took Spotify four years to reach that number."

Cengage says it believes this new service will continue to grow each year and eventually its biggest competitors, which include McGraw-Hill and Pearson, will need to adapt to this digital model as well.

While a spokesperson for McGraw-Hill declined to comment to FOX Business regarding Cengage's business model, Pearson said it already has a digital textbook model that it has been using for years.

"[Pearson] has had affordable subscription models available to students since 2015 covering the products students actually need and use," Scott Overland, director of media relations at Pearson told FOX Business.

Overland added that its programs are already at more than 700 schools nationwide and have helped more than two million students save up to 70 percent on their course materials.

And, Pearson also believes that the e-books trend will continue to grow and replace traditional course materials in the future.


However, according to a 2016 study, that asked more than 420 university students from the U.S, Slovakia, Japan and Germany in 2010 and 2013, more than 92 percent of students said they still prefer paper books over of e-books. The survey was part of the book research from American University linguistics professor Naomi Baron, who wrote the book "Words Onscreen: The Fate of Reading in a Digital World."

Cengage is a privately held company with $1.5 billion in annual revenue and more than 5,000 employees worldwide.

This story has been updated with Pearson comments.