No More Big Squeeze
One example Badger cites is North Carolina State University, where, at the last minute, 25 sections of introductory Spanish were cut for budgetary reasons, even though registrations were there.
Publishers and manufacturers say it's hard to get a 'gut feeling' for 2004, as many customers have yet to decide what their purchases will be. In these uncertain times, publishers must be more creative, focused, and forward-thinking, trying new technology solutions, business models, and price/value schemes that yield additional profit.
Two technology areas where Thomson/Wadsworth is investing are sales force automation (SFA) and content management (CM). On the SFA front, salesmen are being outfitted with tablet PCs to increase mobility and productivity, and provide a platform to demonstrate technology, Badger says.
For content management, Thomson/Wadsworth will be looking to assemble textbooks from a content database, to easily customize and personalize products to suit customer needs.
MOVING FAST IN SLOW TIMES
Penguin Group UK has also felt the U.S. recession's wrath, and is working to make the best of lean years. "The state of the economy in the U.S. has badly affected our trade book sales this year," says Liz Allen, group production director, in New York. "There has been a dramatic falling off of backlist sales, which are our bread and butter."
Even so, Penguin is "investing quite heavily in new systems right now," she says. "But this is in the context of a mature company that has failed to invest enough in technology in the past."
Penguin now appreciates the "huge cost and efficiency benefits" that the publisher can get by managing its supply chain better, Allen says. "This is the area where we are making the most investments. Capital investment is crucial when times are tough, but still must be clearly targeted to bring real benefits."