For so many consumers, it’s a given that turning on a mobile device will equate to the ability to find engaging content to use, especially in educational and academic publishing. But without really giving a lot of thought to how that content landed on a personal use device, many consumers may be unaware of not only the technology companies who make the content happen, but also the inner workings of innovation involved. SPi Global, a digital publishing solutions provider, sat down at this week’s Frankfurt Book Fair to explain to Good e-Reader what many in the industry may need to understand about content delivery.
“We’re a support organization, one of the largest support organizations in the world,” explained John Wheeler, senior vice president of strategy, emerging technologies, and content solutions for SPi Global. “We have about 19,000 people worldwide, about 8,000 of which are concentrated in the content solutions business. Our service base includes science, technical, and medical publishers, educational publishers, and trade and journal publications. What we’re finding, especially in the educational world, is there’s a huge change in the digital realm where they’re looking at how do they leverage digital products and digital delivery devices to better deliver their products. And how are they changing their products because of the demand of these delivery platforms and of the changing demands of the marketplace. We’re seeing a fairly wholesale move across the educational world from books and chapters to more of a learning outcome scenario. We’re developing content around a specific learning outcome, how can you make sure that you teach something and test that it’s been taught adequately? How can you continue to improve what it is that’s being taught?”
“I think it’s been driven a lot by the technology, it’s been driven a lot by the financial problems especially in American schools–and when I say that I mean there hasn’t been money for textbooks–has caused a lot of the school districts and administrations to take a good look at how they’re spending money and what they’re actually getting for the money they spent. That’s one of the drivers of Common Core. They’re taking a good look at what needs to be taught, how can we guarantee that it’s being taught, and how can we assess that it’s been taught. It’s really caused our publishing partners to take a good, hard look from inception through delivery at how we’re producing content.”
Of course, one of the major focuses of digital publishing in the educational arena is cost, and what factors drive that cost. So how far away are we from the days when a school just has to purchase an update to a digital textbook, rather than a new title?
“For schools, it’s an attractive model, and it’s just going to take the publishers a cycle or two to figure out how to fill that niche and how to fill it in a way that doesn’t completely cannibalize their traditional sales. They’re going to have to adapt in that way.”