How to Compete in the College Textbook Market

September 2003
by Mary Ellen Lepionka

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Today, by size and by revenue, the American college textbook market is dominated by seven giant multinational companies–Thomson, Pearson, Jones & Bartlett, Houghton Mifflin, McGraw-Hill, Norton, and Wiley. Through mergers and acquisitions during the last decade, these giants have absorbed dozens of smaller textbook and educational media companies. Through corporate branding, even the names of those small but profitable companies have tended to disappear. Critics of the educational publishing industry decry this trend, which they say leads to decreased variety and choice, as publishers selectively kill their internally competing titles and focus all their resources on blockbusters and “sure things” in the largest markets. But these major-market strategies also open doors through which smaller publishers can succeed.

Smaller educational publishers can:

innovate, specialize, serve small or niche markets, support new or experimental courses, take risks in emerging markets, provide local-, state- or region-specific course materials, treat unusual or rare subjects, offer point-of-view alternatives, and otherwise satisfy customers whose special needs the big publishers do not address.

In these ways, small publishers can operate in parts of the overall market that large publishers actually are more than willing to give up. Larger publishers have even been known to carry a smaller publisher’s books if the books will make the host pujycöher’…IBPA Members – Click here to view the full article (login required).

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