Market Focus: 'The Dog Ate My Homework' Just Doesn’t Fly Anymore
Diskey says he thinks the digital revolution will continue on its steady, step-by-step, district-by-district march.
“We’re dealing with more than 14,000 school districts, more than 90,000 public schools. This country has a large and decentralized education system,” he says. “So it’s impossible to pinpoint which schools and which districts will move in one direction or the other. It will depend on the support of their local communities in terms of their tax base. … It will depend on state and federal support. … The school publishing business at the K-12 level is one that faces a lot of regulation at the state and local levels; it is a market that is heavily dominated by government procurement. School districts and states procure instructional materials, not individual consumers.” On the other hand, “One of the reasons that postsecondary has been able to move very rapidly toward digital is that it is a consumer market,” Diskey says.
Higher-Ed: Rise of the E-Book
While it’s true that higher-education publishers may not have the same hurdles as those in the K-12 market, they do have their own challenges and opportunities.
“Universities are looking for ways to reduce costs and improve efficiency in meeting the needs of their students,” says Susan Spilka, director of corporate communications for Hoboken, N.J.-based publisher John Wiley & Sons. “For students who generally pay for their own texts, the e-textbook model and lower-cost print options have the potential to reduce the average cost of college education considerably.”
Additionally, the colleges themselves are seeking increased accountability and assessment abilities from educational publishers. Hence, Spilka says, customization, personalization and digital solutions are an integral part of Wiley’s present and future, and probably will be that of higher-education publishing, as well.
For instance, global purchases of WileyPLUS—which provides more than 200 textbooks in online form with accompanying homework and management tools, and an online gradebook—have increased 41 percent through the third quarter of the fiscal year, she says.