The State of the Industry
And there are others—much smaller, lesser-known publishers—who have done an amazing job of using technology to their fullest advantage: Apex Learning delivers AP courses online to high schools. It might not sound like much, but if you understand how many rural schools and small schools there are in the country that could never begin to make these courses available to their kids, there's a whole new audience out there.
But the idea of how to integrate technology with print is a very big challenge for publishers. … The challenge is determining what content works best [and] in what format.
BookTech Magazine recently reported on a school district in Kansas, that launched an e-book program using handheld mobile devices, enabling students to read e-books, highlight text, conduct word searches and access a built-in dictionary. Do you see this becoming more prevalent?
Yes. It's almost inevitable … I think … that, over the course of the next generation, it will be as commonplace as talking on a cell phone.
But progress has been very slow. For at least 20 years, people have been talking about how technology is going to take over, how people will be able to print just the chapter they want [of a book], how everything is changing.
Now, we're in a period where the capacity for wireless technology has jump-started the whole process, and as publishers move toward a digital-production format and think of content as assets they can move around, it changes everything. Change will probably now accelerate exponentially, as the next generation of teachers and students who have grown up so adept at technology come in.
How would you describe the successful educational publisher of the next five years?
Absolutely the publisher who … makes the move to digitizing content and thinking of what they have as assets that can be delivered in any variety of ways.