Content Crossroads & Distribution Junction
Gaynor explains if a teacher needs a lesson in a hurry, the price she would be willing to pay for instant delivery could equal or exceed the cost of the printed book. However, if the content and ideas are not valuable, it doesn’t matter in what form the content arrives.
“This year in California, instead of a traditional social studies textbook, Pearson Scott Foresman introduced a custom-built digital curriculum,” Gaynor says. The program combines online learning, multimedia, audio, text and traditional classroom activities. “Pearson’s investment in digital asset management opened up new product possibilities and put them ahead of the curve. They’ve set the standard other educational publishers will need to follow to remain competitive.”
Not everyone in the industry believes in the rush to digital distribution, especially on the manufacturing side. “The digital delivery of content may eventually impact the printed product, but in many key book markets, e.g., education, it is providing ancillary and supplemental support to the printed product at present and likely for many years to come,” Smith says.
Declining Print Readership
As print readership declines, publishers will want to at the very least explore tapping into the interest of the “iPod/text message” buying power, by improving their content and adding elements of alternative distribution, suggests Smith. “Certainly, declining readership in the U.S. is a problem,” he says. “It impacts not only the number of books that will be produced and read, but, more importantly, the future of our country from an education standpoint.”
Smith believes that readership initiatives in the United States can, and hopefully will, have a positive impact on the trade and juvenile segments.
“Looking at research on how young teens get and communicate information can be scary … very scary,” Gaynor says. “But we don’t believe that text messaging will ever take the place of a textbook or a trade book or a workbook.”