Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Educational Publishing at Work

Today's post is a guest-posting by Veronica Gancov. Veronica is the new Digital Media Specialist within NACS Media Solutions. She joined us in February and is leading some of our work in the regional print-on-demand area. Veronica will likely become a regular guest blogger to the CITE. While this first posting is publisher-focused, I think many stores will see the parallels in, and implications for, educational retail.


I recently attended BISG's “Educational Publishing at Work” webinar. The panelists included Charlene Gaynor, CEO, The Association of Educational Publishers; Michael Ross, SVP, Encyclopaedia Britannica; and Christian Schamberger, VP of Operations, Mercury Book Printing. The webinar raised many interesting points, the first being that since students today are “natives” of digital technology, such as the internet, video games and mobile technology, teachers need to adapt and become more tech savvy in their teaching methods in order to reach these students. Likewise, as teachers must, Publishers today must adapt to digital technology in order to maintain their business standing and reach those students as well. New business models must be written, and new delivery systems must be explored in order to stay current and relevant in the wake of the digital age.

Gaynor's main point was that moving products from print to digital will be one of the top five strategies for impacting the bottom line of any publishing company. She also believes that “free is your friend,” and that supplying some free content is also good for your bottom line, as sales have been proven to increase when some content is given out for free. Gaynor also recommends hiring for a digital future, in other words, choosing people who are technology minded and can see the benefits of digital progress.

Encyclopaedia Britannica has been around since 1768. Ross commented on how change is a must in order to stay relevant. In addition to pursuing digital formats such as online databases, print sets, ebooks, and e-learning solutions for all age groups and readers, Encyclopaedia Britannica strives to provide specific curriculum products for everyone from Pre-K to college and university students. Ross stresses that pricing must be kept low and attainable for everyone, and that subscription models, in particular automatic renewals, work for his company. He stresses that Publishers interested in switching to a digital format must establish a 5 year strategy, and that they need to hire people who will move their digital strategy forward.

Schamberger said that “times can look bleak for printers who do not adapt to the current economy and technology.” Mercury is no stranger to change, and has grown from a printing press in someone’s basement, to a successful printer with three print divisions: Offset, Book, and Fulfillment. Mercury is adapting to the economy and new technologies by continuing to invest in new digital printing technologies, such as inkjet printers that are faster, increase automation, incur cheaper costs, and enable enormous volume capability. He also sees Print on Demand as a great way for printers to fulfill a need in the market. He says that publishers need the flexibility to offer both an electronic format of a product as well as a printed product, and says that they must embrace new technologies and partner with printers who have, as well as challenging traditional thinking and norms.

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