From Garage Publisher to Google Prominence
Evan-Moor Educational Publishers Inc. hasn’t always been a major player in the education market. In fact, the company got its modest start more than 25 years ago in a garage, with a staff consisting of three people and an entrepreneurial spirit. Today, Evan-Moor is home to 65 employees and is housed in a 20,000-square-foot facility churning out 60 titles a year in 35 countries. The company provides a compelling example of a publisher who has succeeded in areas other publishers have failed—generating online revenue, profiting from e-books and building an effective search engine strategy.
Turning on a Dime
It’s funny how a little bit of irony can change the course of one’s direction. One day two teachers-turned-educational writers are thrilled to find a publisher interested in printing their first book, and the next they’re launching their own publishing company. That’s what happened to Evan-Moor’s Bill Evans, Joy Evans and Jo Ellen Moore. After an editor uttered the words, “What you ought to do is start your own company,” the trio did just that.
That off-handed advice was given in 1978 to then first-grade team teachers Joy and Jo Ellen. They had taken a sabbatical from their Title I school to write an educational book and enlisted the help of Joy’s brother Bill, a journalism professor at the time. Upon completion, the three mailed the manuscript and received a bite from publisher Frank Schaffer. Schaffer was so impressed with their first title he hired Joy and Jo Ellen to write six more books. He promised to keep them busy for years to come. “It was exciting,” says Bill Evans, now CEO of Evan-Moor. But it was an editor they encountered upon delivery of one of their books that triggered Joy, Jo Ellen and Bill to consider their situation.
“We were invited to tour the publisher’s warehouse, and before we knew it, we’re exploring the inner workings of the book publishing business,” says Evans. “The editor (talked) about royalties and how long it takes to make money off educational books, and made that statement that would change our lives.”