After some opening remarks and figures from Kate Worlock of Outsell, this panel turned into a lively opinionated discussion of the current situation in educational publishing and possible future developments.
One thing the participants agreed on was that the established players in the educational market have the advantages of a trusted brand, existing high-quality content, and more sales and marketing muscle than new entrants. Complacency is the enemy though, as the viral success of products like ClassDojo (50% uptake in US schools – free to teachers) demonstrates.
Martyn Leese, formerly of Infinitas and Pearson, emphasized the importance of packaging content appropriately, e.g. in lesson-sized chunks, delivering it with an appropriate support package (lesson plans), and preparing it in such a way that it can be delivery via any means.
Responding to a question on the composition of content creation teams, William Chesser (VitalSource) said that publishers need to ask themselves where the optimal point of profitability is. Is it really necessary for them to build the platforms and distribute the content, or does it make more sense to focus on creating high-quality content and bring in partners with knowledge of the other steps in the chain.
Regarding resistance from educators faced by new digital products, Kate Worlock emphasized that it is necessary to provide services around teacher training and ongoing professional development so that teachers know how digital fits into their classrooms in practice. Perhaps a way to boost the market
Asked about the impact of epub3 on education market, Chesser offered an interesting data point: only 10% of the content on the VitalSource platform is in epub3 format, but it is generating approximately 40% of revenue (provided the potential of the format is used). His data also indicates that products in this format maintains their prices well in comparison.