Cover Story: Embracing a Different Publishing World
NS: Do you have other significant revenue drivers?
Mobed: … …There's very big business in [curriculum materials]. …
We have a substantial business in providing reference materials to libraries and … students. And those are more and more being combined, … where students can read a standard text … and immediately move across to up-to-date reference material. We have products such as our "Global Economic Watch," standard economics textbooks that suddenly have been challenged to explain the recent economic crisis, and we've … [supplemented them] with reference and late-breaking material from our reference and news sections. …
NS: What is Cengage's fastest- growing product segment or area?
Mobed: [For] customer segments, the two-year college area in the United States has been a very high-growth sector for us, as kids want to make sure they're getting the right skills for a tough employment market. … And in terms of a product line, certainly the products that have … [a] solution component, technology component, … or interactivity component—those tend to be moving very, very fast.
NS: In which area of your business is your company investing most heavily?
Mobed: … Technology—platform investments [for the] … infrastructure, but more [to enable us to] connect the original curriculum content to a student in more exciting ways.
But … our majority investment [is in] making sure we're getting the right content. … We're continuing to sign up authors, and making sure the materials they're producing [are] up-to-date and in the right format, and … technologically enabled.
[So,] … we're thinking about the digital component at the time that we're putting new curriculum material together, rather than as an add-on—digital-first, if you like.
NS: What do you see as the biggest threat to book publishers today?
Mobed: … If organizations think of themselves as "book publishers," their challenge, I think, is adding value in an environment where there are other ways to deliver the best experience to the customer. So a static attitude [would be the biggest threat].