Cover Story: Embracing a Different Publishing World
NS: What do you anticipate, in terms of print sales, in two or five years?
Mobed: We're looking at whether we are continuing to be at the forefront of the education experience. … So, … simply tracking the components of our business and e-books is not really giving us a sense of whether we are being successful. …
A slightly different question is the pace around which the company is moving toward more solution-based offerings as opposed to simple product offerings, and … we do see that the pace of that movement is accelerating, and we're pleased with that.
NS: So you can't speak about percentages opting for print versus electronic?
Mobed: We do look at what's happening to our print … sales. … Everyone does. But … that's not our main focus. … More important is whether they are using our material. … And luckily, the technology we are deploying allows us to track that very effectively. We can see how many users we have, how much time they are spending with our material. The instructors can see whether [students] are successfully absorbing [it].
… We're looking at the bigger picture. … Are the solutions we're offering … what the instructors and students want? Are we predicting where they're going?
NS: Do you think e-books will eventually replace print books entirely?
Mobed: … If we're delivering our material in an appropriate format, then our customers will buy. The way in which people are absorbing content today still is very much print-based. … It may not be as large as it's been; it may be more print-on-demand; it may be more customized. … It doesn't really matter to us. We're perfectly capable of delivering millions of print books every year; we're perfectly capable of servicing millions of online users. And we'll make that adjustment depending on how quickly things change in the marketplace.