A Textbook Case
Many a truth is spoken in jest. That's certainly the case with an old but insightful publishing industry tale.
It goes something like this: A publisher's print buyer and printer's salesperson are having lunch. The print buyer says, "What can your printing plant do for me?" To which the salesperson replies, "We can give you the best price, the utmost in quality, and the fastest service. Pick any two."
Buyers and printers build relationships. They work together to produce quality products at fair prices in a reasonable time span. Buyers naturally remain with printers who serve them well over the years.
But times are changing. Needs are changing. Budgets are changing. Demands are changing. Publishers today need the best price, the utmost in quality, and the fastest service, and aren't content to "pick any two".
Growing numbers of print buyers are scrutinizing projects, and wondering if they have the right printer. Price, quality, and service are standard fare for any successful printer today. Those who offer only two of the three classic requirements will find fewer top-tier publishers patronizing their services.
For educational publishers in particular, far less time is available for developing products. Almost half of the 50 U.S. states now have textbook "adoption committees" that select textbooks for six or seven years of students' use.
Prior to the adoptions, the states require publishers to submit their intent to enter the process. These are dubbed "adoption calls".
State budgets, of course, determine how much (if any) money can be spent on new textbooks. This is true in states with adoption committees, as well as "open territory" states (states that choose textbooks in other ways, such as by district or by school).
Regardless of the selection process, most states' textbook budgets are lean and getting leaner, the result of budget cuts. Of every education dollar budgeted in the U.S., just one cent is allocated for instructional materials. One cent!