Market Focus: 'The Dog Ate My Homework' Just Doesn’t Fly Anymore
Who hasn’t tried the excuse, “My dog ate my homework,” on a teacher? Success with that excuse now is nearly impossible, according to experts in educational book publishing. So much of what teachers currently do involves digital materials and tools that, short of a network failure or computer glitch, a student would be hard-pressed to come up with a similar excuse.
There is one main constant in education—that students are there to learn from the teacher. Other than that, everything else seems to be changing, from how the lesson is delivered to where it is delivered and how the student responds. And educational publishers have had to adapt along the way.
While this market segment is united by a set of challenges that other noneducational publishers do not face—such as government funding and complying with differing state standards—the big picture for educational book publishers also includes quite a few unique snapshots. Despite the fact that all of these publishers are trying to accomplish the same goal—to facilitate learning—they are often going about it in such different ways that many prefer to be identified by the market niche they serve: basal, supplemental and higher education, to name a few.
K-12: Targeted Content Making Gains
Rather than particular titles earning top sales spots, educational book publishers say that certain subjects are really top dog.
“Language arts provides the key to all other learning,” says William E. Evans of his best-selling subject.
Evans, co-founder and chief executive officer of Evan-Moor Educational Publishers of Monterey, Calif., adds that math, science, social studies, physical education and the arts round out the most popular subject areas, in descending order of sales. After all, he says, Evan-Moor’s best-selling supplemental education products for elementary grades correlate to the amount of time teachers spend on these subjects in the classroom. And, he says he’s seen little change during the past couple of years in terms of the materials teachers are buying from Evan-Moor to supplement the core—or basal—textbooks.