Textbook Publishers’ Changing Product Strategies

TAAHeaderNovHeadline from November 2014 TAA Newsletter
The Text and Academic Authors Association is a national membership association for textbook and academic authors providing resources such as grants, webinars, an online library of how-to articles, annual conferences, and a variety of mentoring and networking opportunities. For information visit TAAonline.net

A Companion Post for the TAA Article Forming a Publisher Relationship:  Three Steps for Submitting Your Project

by Sean Wakely, Founder and Principal Adviser, Academic Author Advisers

The Sixties through the Eighties might be considered the golden era of modern college publishing. Higher education student enrollments grew steadily due to favorable demographics and supportive government policies. Many four-year colleges and universities expanded operations and hundreds of new two-year colleges exploded onto the higher education scene. Total annual higher education student enrollments in the U.S. nearly tripled during this period, from 4.8M students in 1963 to 13.7M students in 1990.

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To Infinity and Beyond!

Due to robust enrollment growth in the Sixties, Seventies, and Eighties, good money could be made by companies involved in the business of higher education.  College publishing was no exception. Even when periodic recessions came along, well, that was good news for higher education textbook publishers too, because unemployed workers often went back to school. Many new educational publishing companies were formed to take advantage of such an attractive opportunity. As a result, the industry published thousands of new or revised titles every year that explored differing perspectives for even the most modestly enrolled course areas.

Ominous storm clouds at dusk over a lake


The Hangover

By the early Nineties, the pace of enrollment growth had slowed considerably. In 1999, total college enrollments in the U.S. were 14.8M students, only about a million more than at the start of the decade. Adding to publishers’ woes, competition from used books took an increasingly substantial bite out of their new book sales. In response, publishers aggressively increased prices, revised successful books more often, and launched many new titles. These strategies prolonged college publishers’ historically steady growth and strong profit margins well into the new century, making them attractive acquisitions targets. Such acquisitions eventually resulted in a highly consolidated industry, led by just a handful of major players.

Approximately twenty-five swans clustered in the water at the edge of a the Thames River bank near Eton. Sun is setting. Swans seem to be glowing.


Darwin Would Be Proud

The three principal beneficiaries of the higher education publishing industry’s consolidation, Pearson, Cengage Learning, and McGraw-Hill Education, command an estimated share in excess of 80% of the U.S. higher education textbook market. Even with the advantages lent by such enormous market shares, the largest higher education publishers find themselves in an increasingly difficult situation. As noted in a previous blog post, competition from online used book and rental competitors, increased price resistance, and a painfully slow transition to digital product models present fundamental challenges to traditional publishing strategies. In response, higher education publishers are striving to develop innovative, online products—but that effort requires substantial investment. Digital transition costs are increasing just when unit sales are declining. What impact will this ongoing profit squeeze have on publishers’ product strategies?

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Where Have All the Products Gone?

At least three key product strategy trends are emerging in the U.S. higher education market, and I think each is likely to intensify over the next several years:

  • Fewer Choices. The biggest publishers will no longer offer their historically deep lists featuring many viewpoints on the same topics or for the same courses.
    • Certainly, there will be fewer upper-level titles (junior, senior, and graduate level) revised or launched in coming years. Those that remain will be sampled to instructors as simple eBooks. Ultimately, printed student copies of upper-level titles will be delivered primarily through custom or print-on-demand options.
    • Introductory and mid-level titles will be impacted, too. Products that aren’t among a publisher’s top sellers or those geared to niche markets will disappear. The steep cost of transitioning multiple print titles intended for the same course to fully digital product formats will be prohibitive. Consequently, publishers won’t offer several, mainstream titles featuring differing perspectives on the same subject. Decades of industry consolidation will allow the biggest publishers to cherry-pick only their top-selling titles for full digital transitions. The remainder will continue to be offered in print or less costly print/digital hybrid formats.
    • A selective product strategy makes sense due to the high cost of developing truly interactive digital experiences. For example, robust assessment content and complex underlying taxonomies are needed to support adaptive learning, and developing these new content assets is labor intensive. It’s hard to imagine a publisher making such investments for titles that might sell several thousand units over the life of an entire edition when those same, scarce dollars can be invested in other products that sell 50,000 units or more in a single year.
  • Primary Focus on Digital-Only Products. The process of integrating the strongest-selling titles into their publishers’ online learning platforms has already begun. Under the presumption that print will eventually become obsolete, these digital products are designed to function in stand-alone, online learning environments. In an effort to foil the rental and used book markets, and mindful of their considerable digital investments, publishers will increasingly focus all their development, marketing, and sales energies on driving success of their digital-only products–even at the potential expense of short-term print sales.
  • Diluted or Non-Existent Author Brands. Product acquisitions will be less aggressive than in the past. Publishers will sign up fewer new titles and the primary focus will be on acquiring “born digital” content that can be fashioned into online courseware. Gradually, publishers will experiment with publisher-managed, house-branded products. These managed products will be composed of new or re-purposed digital content assets that publishers will own outright, thereby decreasing publishers’ reliance on royalty-based, author-driven products.

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Change Will Drive Opportunity

In response to an increasingly digital and less varied set of product choices, some customers may seek options elsewhere. Small or start-up publishers who do a superior job of meeting targeted customers’ specific needs may offset the formidable barriers presented by big publishers and their entrenched sales and marketing machines. If experienced authors with loyal adopters can secure the return of the publishing rights for their discontinued titles, they might continue to profitably publish with smaller or custom publishers. New authors with distinctive voices or fresh perspectives may find a warm welcome at startup operations willing to take a risk on more innovative, author-driven approaches. As the Open Educational Resources (OER) movement matures, these free learning resources may become more generally accepted and used.

Business models in the throes of disruption generally create openings for entrepreneurs who offer better solutions to customers’ problems. There’s no question that higher education publishing is in the midst of profound change. As a result, we should expect to see many new product strategies and business models launched in coming years.

The advantages of the big higher education publishers are great, and they’ll certainly continue to be major forces in the marketplace for a long time to come. However, the likely changes in their overall product strategies could open up attractive niches for smaller publishers, startups, and content sharers while creating exciting new opportunities for savvy authors and content experts.

Next Time:  The Acquisitions Editor’s Evolving Role

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Can Textbook Publishers Become Software Companies?

The Text and Academic Authors Association is a national membership association for textbook and academic authors providing resources such as grants, webinars, an online library of how-to articles, annual conferences, and a variety of mentoring and networking opportunities. For information visit TAAonline.net

A Companion Piece to Forming a Publisher Relationship:  The Acquisitions Editor

by Sean Wakely, Founder and Principal Adviser, Academic Author Advisers

A big thanks to the folks at the Text and Academic Authors Association (Mike, Maureen, and Kim) who invited me to write a three-part series of articles for their group’s newsletter. The topic is how an aspiring textbook author can get noticed by a higher education publisher, and then how to leverage that connection into a contract offer.

The first article appeared in TAA’s September/October 2014 newsletter. It focuses on the role of the typical higher education acquisitions editor (now often known as a product or brand manager) and what usually motivates her or him in the search for talent. In the next TAA article, due out later this fall, I’ll describe strategies for connecting with a publisher and submitting a winning project idea. For would-be authors/content writers who aren’t ready to commit to an idea yet, the final TAA article will discuss forming relationships with publishers that can become the basis for future projects.

Even with the space afforded by three installments, there just isn’t room in the TAA newsletter series to cover some important background information. In particular, there are a few topics I’d like to cover in greater detail:

  • Can higher education textbook publishers become software companies?
  • Higher education publishers’ changing product strategies
  • The acquisitions editor’s evolving role

So, as a companion to the TAA articles, I’ll share some additional thoughts in this blog.  This first post will cover higher education publishers’ aspirations to become software developers.  In future posts, I’ll address how that shift in thinking impacts product acquisition/development and explore in greater depth how the role of the acquisitions editor is evolving.


Path Through Gnarled Trees Melbourne  Australia

Publishers As Software Developers?

For a number of years, higher education publishers flirted with branding themselves as “software developers” instead of “textbook publishers.” Some have finally taken the leap (see Joseph J. Esposito’s insightful comments on this phenomenon quoted in Carl Straumsheim’s excellent Inside Higher Ed article). What’s prompting this identity change? Why are many higher education publishers trying to embrace a software model as their core competency?

Problems with Print. Much of educational publishers’ urgent desire to reinvent themselves is due to the crash in print sales they’re experiencing. For example, according to its chief executive officer, sales of McGraw-Hill’s non-customized, print higher education textbooks declined from 71% to 38% of total sales between 2010 and 2013. Aggressive price increases can sustain print products’ revenue performance for a while, but not indefinitely. In fact, price increases exacerbate the decline in publishers’ print unit sales. Furthermore, customized print versions might be picking up some of the slack, but probably not enough to offset most of the losses. How did higher education publishers get into this pickle?

How It Used to Be. Higher education publishers have traditionally published two kinds of titles: First editions and revisions. For generations, educational publishers have relied on the installed customer base of successful revisions to drive the lion’s share of their annual revenues. Consequently, enormous efforts are made to persuade or even force adopting faculty to assign the newest edition of a revision as soon as it’s published; this is known as “rolling over” to the new edition.

Roll overs are crucial to publishers’ sales performance because they make the existing supply of used books obsolete (publishers do not receive revenue nor do authors receive royalties from used book sales). During the first term following publication, with a few minor exceptions, bookstores must obtain a new edition from its publisher. Even today, while the business model is shifting, many higher education publishers almost certainly derive most of their core revenue from this product revision/roll over cycle.

After a new edition has been available for one school term, used books seep into the mix, and publishers’ sales begin taking a hit. Naturally, publishers feel the need to fight used book competition that deeply cuts into their revenues and greatly diminishes return on investment. The key industry response has been to revise successful introductory and mid-level titles about every three years. By the time a publisher’s sales of a particular edition collapse, sometimes sinking to zero or even to negative numbers, the next edition is published and adopters roll into it. The cycle then repeats.

For publishers and authors, this revision/roll-over strategy worked to their benefit for several decades—until the Internet disrupted long-established distribution channels. Then everything changed.

Yep, It’s the Web Again. Due to the Web’s inherent efficiencies, there’s been explosive growth over the last decade among companies that resell or rent new and used textbooks. In addition to current editions, previous editions that cannot be purchased from their publishers or found at local or chain bookstores are readily obtained online from Amazon, Chegg, AbeBooks, Half.com, and a host of other sites.

Lost Sales. Certainly, a publisher and author benefit from the first sale of a particular title to used-book resellers and renters. However, subsequent sales and rentals of that same unit represent lost revenue to publishers and lesser royalties for authors. To compensate for the lost revenue, publishers aggressively increase the price of each unit they can sell. Inevitably, customers complain and look even harder for alternatives to publisher-supplied, new books.

Any Old Edition Will Do. While never really popular on campus, higher education publishers are increasingly resented by customers who feel justified taking any possible measure to avoid buying a new, print book from a publisher (for an example, see this Vocative article).

Faculty members are changing their behavior in response to student demands, and they’re altering market dynamics in the process. Informal conversations over the past several months convince me that a new trend among faculty is magnifying the impact of used and rented books: College professors and instructors are increasingly directing their students to buy whatever fairly recent version of the assigned textbook they can find.

To make it easier for students to use old editions, faculty members may even provide multiple versions of course syllabi that are keyed to one or more superseded editions. The all-important roll over to new editions described above is being increasingly compromised, and publishers and authors are feeling the pain.

Competition from Open Educational Resources. Another factor that could one day increase pressure on publishers and authors is the open educational resources (OER) movement. Smart publishers and authors should note that OER’s attractions often transcend price considerations. Overall, OER is a relatively small player at present. However, sites such as OpenStax or Creative Commons and the free learning resource alternatives they offer might one day significantly cut into commercial publishers’ revenues and authors’ royalties.

Print is Not Dead, But It Might As Well Be. Ironically, the likelihood is that the majority of today’s higher education students at any given time are using (or would prefer to use) a print textbook, either alone or in combination with a digital learning component. For one example, see the results of a recent survey conducted by Hewlett-Packard at San Jose State University.  A BISG study indicates that faculty members are even more attached to print than students.  While a majority of customers want to use print textbooks alone or in combination with digital components, the reality is that print textbooks appear less and less likely to be purchased or rented from publishers. Nor does the trend show any signs of abating.

A Digital Solution. So what’s the solution? Many publishers, particularly the large and well-capitalized ones, have made a strategic choice. They’re racing to develop must-have, single-use, online products that can’t be shared, pirated, rented, or re-sold. This strategy is at the heart of what’s been called the “digital transformation,” although I think “digital transition” is more appropriate.

What is the Digital Transition? A typical higher education publisher’s digital transition strategy ports learning content into online, password-protected products; embeds homework and interactive experiences into those products; and ensures that each student user’s activity generates a unique experience.  The resulting, personally tailored learning experiences are most commonly driven by a publisher’s or its technology partner’s propriety algorithms and processed within their own engines, making it virtually impossible to share or pirate the online product.

Why is It Important? The digital transition’s underlying strategy presumes instructors will require every student to purchase and use a digital learning solution, because gradable events are key outcomes of students’ activities and highly valued by faculty. Students should benefit from interactive, digital learning environments that analyze real-time performance data to guide and optimize their learning experiences. Consequently, some publishers also refer to themselves as “digital learning solutions providers” or “learning solutions providers.”

When executed well, these high-value, customized, digital learning solutions provide a compelling reason to buy from a publisher or learning solutions provider. They significantly reduce demand for used and rented print textbooks, pirated copies, and shared books; they also raise expectations for functionality and personalization that the nascent OER movement must strive to meet.

The Holy Grail?  So far, so good. Just fully transition to digital, and everyone is happy, right? Hypothetically, the answer is a resounding yes (except from book resellers and renters, of course). But in reality, there are a number of challenges to overcome on the journey to the digital promised land. A few spring immediately to mind:

1. Publishers. Can publishers truly refashion themselves into software developers?

  • Do publishers possess the cultural frameworks and technical expertise necessary for a successful transition? Can they develop such capabilities within a reasonable timeframe?
  • Can they attract, develop, and retain the best engineering talent? How do conventional publishers compete with startups and the high-risk/high-reward opportunities they offer?
  • Can publishers imagine the right products, efficiently scale them across multiple course areas, and successfully execute and deliver on product plans in a reasonable period of time and on budget?
  • Can they successfully overhaul entrenched royalty accounting, permissions, financial forecasting, production, customer support, order fulfillment, and sales operations (to name just a few) to be consistent with digital software companies’ business models? Can they do so while adequately servicing the print business that currently drives most of their revenue and profit?
  • Will they be disrupted by smaller, more agile competitors who demonstrate greater digital savvy, customer intimacy, and flexibility?

2. Customers. Will customers accept fully digital solutions fast enough to replace declining print unit sales?

  • Are customers ready to forsake print altogether? If not, when will the tipping point be reached?
  • Will the need to meet short-run revenue and profit goals continue to drive aggressive print textbook price increases that will accelerate the erosion of unit sales?
  • Will customers continue to resist assigning or purchasing products they perceive to be unfairly priced? Will unit sales decline so fast that increased prices can’t make up for the lost volume, thereby impairing publishers’ investment capacity and performance?
  • Existing products are often poured into one-size-fits-all digital containers, but many customers want instruction tailored to the nature of the content itself. How do publishers reconcile the need to drive scale with the importance of delivering authentic learning experiences based on the content being studied? For example, should history, chemistry, beginning Spanish, and developmental English students expect the same interface, features, and interactions from their respective digital learning solutions?

3. Authors. Who gets to participate in the digital transition?  Will only the biggest authors receive the attention and investment necessary to succeed in the evolving digital environment?

  • Who is being held accountable for ongoing unit sales declines? Authors? Editors and Product Managers? Marketing? Sales? Technology? Management? How much of the erosion is at least partly attributable to slow or flawed digital transitions by the companies themselves?
  • Can a publisher afford the staffing and resource investments to transition all of its successful authors in a timely fashion? What happens to those who get left behind?
  • What skill sets do authors need to successfully transition to a digital future? How do publishers help their authors develop these skills in cost-effective ways? Who are the likely author/content expert candidates to be signed up for the new, digital learning solutions being developed from scratch?

Implications.  Some higher education publishers seem to be making the transition, albeit slowly and with some bumps along the way. Others may be ignoring the realities and hope to fly under the radar screen. Another group understands the gravity of the situation, but may not be prepared culturally, financially, or in a practical sense to resolve the many issues involved. The current state of disarray is unfortunate, because unit declines are accelerating, finger pointing has begun, and the time required to organize an orderly digital transition is quickly running out.

Next time:  Publishers’ Changing Product Strategies

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Lessons Learned from Advisers’ Launch

“Academic Author Advisers provides experienced, strategic coaching and creative support for academic authors who want to improve the financial, professional, and personal rewards that come from their writing activities.” academicauthoradvisers.com

Vignetted Cake

by Sean Wakely, Founder and Principal Adviser, Academic Author Advisers

I discovered that the first day of a new business can be like planning a big party:  There’s always a heart-stopping moment when you wonder if anyone is going to show up!

So a huge thanks to all of you who did show up last week to read this blog’s first posting, peruse Advisers’ company website, like the Facebook page, follow us on Twitter, and join our LinkedIn company page. If you haven’t done so already, you can click on the hotlinks in the previous sentence to join the fun.

The number of blog visitors, website hits, and likes on Facebook blew through Advisers’ projected user and engagement goals on launch day. I’m especially grateful for suggestions many of you shared for improving the sites, and I’ve already incorporated a number of changes in response. Thanks for the input.

Overall, I learned a few big picture lessons. For example, the party planning epiphany taught me the best way to put aside temporary jitters is simply to focus on executing a well-researched plan. I can name another four lessons that immediately spring to mind:

  1. There is a need for Academic Author Advisers. Even after all the market research I conducted during the past few weeks, I was (pleasantly) surprised by the strong confirmation of a tremendous need for Advisers’ services. Higher education authors are not consistently being informed, educated, or supported by their publishing partners. This situation makes it harder for authors to strategically make necessary transitions to new publishing and business models.  Advisers can help bridge these gaps in support and communication.
  2. Google Analytics is addictive. In fact, all kinds of reports that track site activity are seductive and, I realized, potentially distracting. I spent a lot of time last week monitoring the website’s new and returning users, average page views, average time per session, etc.  My favorite data point reflects the cities and countries in which visitors are located. It was exciting to see users from Ireland, England, France, Venezuela, the Netherlands, and Qatar joining the many US and Canadian visitors who came to the sites on the first day. Going forward, I’ve sworn to myself that I’ll only check activity reports two or three times a day. We’ll see if I can keep that vow!
  3. LinkedIn is powerful, but it’s not the only game in town. As a networking and communication tool for higher education publishing professionals, LinkedIn can’t be beat. However, while higher education faculty, authors, and content experts are present on LinkedIn, they’re not nearly as well represented as publishers or university administrators. Facebook appears to be a better social media strategy for connecting with college faculty and potential clients.  I also noticed that higher education authors seem underrepresented on Twitter, and this could be a strategic oversight.  Twitter can be a good way to solicit real-time student user input and build a professional brand with colleagues and potential adopters.
  4. Feeding the content beast is a challenge. This one isn’t really a surprise.  Now that Advisers has launched a social media strategy, all its sites need to be consistently updated with useful and interesting content. I planned for this requirement, but the reality is still a little daunting. It’s easy to write about what interests me, but it’s more important to post information that’s useful to you. So, don’t hesitate to send me ideas for topics you’d like addressed in future blog posts or on Advisers’ other sites. Please leave a comment or email me with your ideas at sean.wakely@academicauthoradvisers.com?

I’m sure I’ll learn a number of additional lessons in the weeks and months ahead, and I trust they’ll improve this blog and readers’ experiences with it. Check back regularly for updates and new information. I’m already working on the next post, so watch for it to go live soon!

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Thanks to everyone who helped make Advisers’ launch a great success by visiting our sites!   Please come back on Monday, August 11th to see the next blog posting.

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Academic Author Advisers Launches

“Academic Author Advisers provides experienced, strategic coaching and creative support for academic authors who want to improve the financial, professional, and personal rewards that come from their writing activities.” academicauthoradvisers.com

We Have Lift Off!

by Sean Wakely, Founder and Principal Adviser, Academic Author Advisers

For several weeks, I’ve contemplated what to say in this first post:

  • Should it be something profound? Nope, too boring.
  • A favorite quote, perhaps?  Too predictable.
  • Something mildly humorous, but inoffensive? Certain to be a yawn.

Then I realized the best way to start is to just tell you what Academic Authors Advisers is all about, who I am, and what you might find as this blog evolves.  So I’ll begin with a simple question:  What is Academic Author Advisers?


What Is Academic Author Advisers?

Academic Author Advisers (or “Advisers” as I’ve taken to calling it) is my attempt to bridge a gap. There is a growing chasm between what some higher education authors and content experts experience in today’s publishing environment and what they actually need to be more successful professionally, personally, and financially. As a response to this disconnect, I founded Advisers.

Advisers’ mission is to provide experienced, strategic, and creative consulting services to higher education authors and content experts in order to help them:

  • Improve the financial return and increase their satisfaction from professional writing and content creation activities.
  • Enhance their interactions with publishers or content providers.
  • Accelerate their successful transitions to innovative digital publishing and distribution models.

As Advisers’ founder and principal adviser, my frame of reference is the experience I’ve gained through a career in higher education sales, editorial, and senior management. One of the most satisfying aspects of my publishing career has been the pleasure and privilege to work closely with authors and content experts. Regardless of the past publishing role, I always believed it was my job to help my authors:

  • Solve problems that keep them from writing and creating.
  • Understand how the higher education publishing, marketing, and sales processes work.
  • Innovate by providing information about customers and market trends
  • Brainstorm solutions to customers’ common challenges or pain points.

To learn more about my professional background, please click here.



Writing with a Purpose

What I’ve experienced in nearly thirty years in educational publishing is a stimulating profession with a true purpose:  Together, higher education authors and publishers create learning materials that contribute to the growth and development of our customers. Print textbooks can be rented or re-sold and digital learning materials may time out after the semester ends. Yet, higher education learning materials are not truly disposable; the value derived from them often lasts a lifetime.

Higher education authors and content experts, in partnership with their publishers, expend enormous efforts to research, prepare, and present credible information that supports instruction. Among other benefits, higher educational learning materials:

  • Teach more effective thinking skills.
  • Promote enhanced employment and life skills.
  • Provide knowledge that develops more informed parents, consumers, and citizens.
  • Inspire a better understanding of the world and the universe around us.

I strongly believe that writing, developing, and publishing for higher educational learning environments is a truly worthy and worthwhile pursuit.



A Challenging Commitment

While it may be worthy, for most higher education authors and content experts writing is not always obviously worthwhile. It takes genuine dedication for an author to carve out the time necessary to create a manuscript or develop courseware. Teaching responsibilities, research and grant requirements, promotion and tenure activities, departmental and academic expectations, last-minute class assignment, outside work or consulting commitments, and family obligations are just a few of the demands that conspire to place many authors in front of the keyboard at all hours of the night, on weekends, and during holidays. Financial rewards are certainly part of the motivation, but they’re not the whole picture.

Most authors understand that potential financial rewards don’t usually offset the time and effort it takes to publish. More often, authors are:

  • Energized by the chance to translate scholarship and their own teaching expertise into new learning tools.
  • Excited to engage learners in the subject areas about which they care deeply.
  • Enthusiastic about the opportunity to reach many more learners through their published works than they could reach in a lifetime of teaching their own classes.

In my experience, the best and most successful authors are those with a point of view and the passion to communicate it. The best and most successful publishers are the ones who recognize these qualities and value and nurture them.


A Changing Environment

Adding to the traditional demands on an author’s time and attention, recent developments in the educational publishing industry create new burdens. Expectations to share or fully absorb more publishing costs, to optimize existing print products for evolving digital contexts, or to abandon print altogether can be laid at authors’ feet with little explanation or research-based support, thereby create new obstacles and distractions for authors and content experts.

Higher education publishers are adapting to a changing environment by constantly reorganizing, restructuring, and experimenting. They are exploring new product configurations, creative delivery tactics, unprecedented customer engagement strategies, and unconventional transaction models. Innovative products and services can be quickly scaled, unceremoniously abandoned, or both in rapid succession. Authors can be left out of communications loops, confused about constantly evolving publishing processes, and unsure where they fit into their own publisher’s big picture strategy or its strategic priorities.

New content sources, such as Open Educational Resources (OER), MOOCs, and startups have potential to disrupt the existing higher education publishing status quo. To savvy authors, content experts, and publishers, these new competitors represent challenges, but in many cases they also offer opportunities. By remaining close to the customer, observing their common challenges and problems, and truly listening to customers’ responses to proposed solutions, authors and publishers can remain relevant.  They can apply their joint experience and ingenuity to solve customers’ problems, rather than creating new, discouraging hurdles for them.


Advisers Helps Navigate an Evolving Landscape

Advisers was founded under the presumption that most successful authors and their publishers or content providers are entrepreneurial collaborators who form supportive and transparent relationships as equal partners.

We provide our clients with information they can use to better prepare themselves for publisher discussions and negotiations. In addition, we connect our clients with clerical, supplement, and content development sources to free up more time to create. When appropriate, we also provide referrals to professionals who are prepared to help with the legal, accounting, and auditing realities of higher education textbook publishing and content distribution.

Advisers is uniquely positioned to listen to both sides of the author-publisher partnership and suggest win-win solutions to seemingly intractable problems. To learn more about Academic Author Advisers and the services we offer, please click here.

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This Blog’s Future

This site is Advisers’ central communication source. I’m sure the ground rules will evolve as time goes on, but as of today here is what you can count on when reading this blog:

  • All opinions are my own, unless otherwise cited or linked. However, this blog does represent and reflect upon the philosophy, services, and activities of Academic Author Advisers.
  • Reader comments are welcome and encouraged. Lively debate is the cornerstone of rigorous thinking and supports innovation. However, personal attacks or insults, vulgarity, commercial promotion, or other comments judged to be rude, infringing, or irrelevant won’t be approved for posting. You must be 18 years of age to submit a comment to this site.  By submitting a comment you represent that you are at least 18 years old.
  • Advisers’ clients are higher education authors and content experts. To avoid conflicts of interest, Advisers doesn’t represent higher education textbook publishers. If Advisers’ business model were to change or expand its client base in the future, it will be disclosed via this site.
  • In some cases, I refer to authors, but I also mean to include digital content experts and digital learning solutions developers in such references. Of course, all authors can, and often do, develop content for digital solutions, courseware, and hybrid products (print and digital components, such as online homework products, sold together or separately). My contention is that it’s preferable to first determine what the desired learning goals and outcomes are, and then choose the best medium, whether print or digital, to achieve those targeted goals and outcomes.


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Thank You and an Invitation

Thanks for being part of Advisers’ launch by reading this first posting.

Please visit the Advisers’ website, “like” our Facebook and LinkedIn company pages, and follow us on Twitter. Please also answer the poll and share your comments below — I want to hear from you!

Over the past few weeks, I’ve shared my evolving plans for Advisers with a number of trusted friends and family.  This launch couldn’t have happened without their enthusiasm, support, and excellent ideas for improvement.  Thanks to all of you (you know who you are)!

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