New Textbook a Showcase for Thomson Higher Education’s New Publishing Model
In mid April, Thomson Higher Education launched a new textbook and, with it, what Thomson calls its new model for higher-education publishing. The 350-page paperback textbook, “MKTG”—which covers the core concepts of marketing—was designed to reflect students’ preferences for shorter, more easy-to-digest texts and cheaper prices, according to Thomson. It also uses lots of colorful images and text, and call-out boxes. In fact, its pages really look more like those out of a magazine than a textbook.
The book also incorporates online and cell phone quizzes, audio/MP3 downloads, printable flash cards and “Chapter in Review” summaries, in response to what Thomson says is students’ preferences for print learning paired with digital tools. The suggested retail price: $49.95.
Thomson based its new model on conversations with more than 150 students. “Traditionally, we begin with the professors and use their ideas to shape the textbook, but with ‘MKTG,’ we turned that model around and began with the students,” says Neil Marquardt, publisher of “MKTG.” “What we learned in discussions … was that some often didn’t buy textbooks, and when they did, they weren’t using them.”
Students also said that they struggled to balance life and school—90 percent of the students interviewed said they worked in part- or full-time jobs, and studied an average of 31 hours each semester. The cost of textbooks was also a major concern voiced by students.
Thomson then surveyed 75 marketing instructors to find out whether the changes they had in mind would satisfy the faculty’s needs as well. “Turns out, they were even more excited than the students,” says Marquardt.
Faculty surveyed by Thomson voiced concerns that some students don’t buy assigned texts, don’t read the assignments or aren’t engaged by the content. Price was also a concern, but faculty stressed the importance of not sacrificing resources or quality in pursuit of lower costs.
As to whether or not the company has heard any concerns voiced about a textbook with a softcover instead of the traditional hardcover text, Marquardt says, “No. Actually, the textbook’s design was driven by our customers’ desire for a shorter text at a lower price. In direct response, we designed ‘MKTG’ to capture content covering the entire Fundamentals of Marketing course in a much more condensed package,” he says. “The $49.95 price point includes access to all of the printable flash cards, summary reviews, audio-file resources, cell phone quizzing, online quizzes and video content in an annual edition.”
Students were involved throughout the book’s development process, and faculty members were involved “in quality checkpoints all along the way,” says Marquardt. “The design and content were formulated at the same time, with authors and development editors with direct teaching experience, as well as a panel of faculty members as sounding boards to ensure the highest quality in instructional design,” he explains.
Fred Hurvitz, marketing professor at Pennsylvania State University, says, “I like the fact the ‘MKTG’ is less expensive yet it covers the main points. As a result, I am going to give it a lot of consideration.”
Randy Russ, a professor at Belhaven College, says that the book “represents a refreshing new approach for both students and faculty.”
Ed Moura, president of Thomson Business and Economics Group (part of Thomson Higher Education), says, “We’re proud to share the first learning tool specifically designed to fit the busy and diverse lifestyles of today’s college students. The thoughtful, extended conversations with students and instructors that shaped ‘MKTG’ ensure this new text will provide improved learning outcomes for students and help instructors teach better.” BB