Publishing/Writing: Insights, News, Intrigue


Educational Publishing – Big Shake Up In Curriculum Standards Blows Sector Wide Open

In the U.S., the K-12 industry for textbooks and other educational materials generates $7.8 billion in revenue.

Do you realize that K-12 textbooks and associated educational materials generates a revenue of 7.8 billion dollars per year? Holy mathematics! I had no idea. I always knew there was big money in this publishing niche — just not THAT big.

At any rate, it just became easier for the little guy to break into this sector than ever before.  This field ‘has been dominated by a handful of big companies known as the “the big three”: Pearson, McGraw-Hill Education and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt’ for 35 years or so — But, due to technology, changing curriculum standards (e.g. Common Core Standards) and some states (like California) de-centralizing the book-selection process, industry watchers said the field is opening up.

This from Southern California Public Radio.Org by Mary Plummer:

Publishing industry shake up: New curriculum standards pave the way for the little guy

As new curriculum standards sweep across the country, the market for educational materials and textbooks is about to get a boost from districts that will have to restock. And just in time. Sales had been declining for three years.

“There should be a huge bump,” said Michael Kirst, president of the California State Board Of Education.

Kirst explains that many school districts had been holding off on buying books as they waited for the new standards to be implemented.

“This will be like what I hear is happening in the car industry where the average car is 11 years old and finally people have to get rid of them,” he said.

California is among 45 states nationwide plus Washington, D.C. already in the process of adopting the Common Core standards for math and language arts. The new standards, which have been pushed by the Obama Administration, represent a significant change in the country’s historically state by state system of education standards.

New science standards are also coming soon. After a several-year process that included multiple rounds of public comment, new science standards crafted by 26 states across the country will be released later this week.

Everyone agrees that all of these curriculum standard changes represent a major shift in K-12 education in the U.S. What’s less clear is how textbooks and educational materials producers will keep up.

For decades, the $7.8 billion industry has been dominated by a handful of big companies known as the “the big three”: Pearson, McGraw-Hill Education and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

But because of changes in technology — and because some states like California have de-centralized the book-selection process, industry watchers said the field is opening up. Tim Nollen, a senior media analyst for Macquarie Capital, said the new curriculum standards provide an opportunity for smaller companies to break in.

“I think everything could change,” he said. “Their field of competitors is much larger now than it ever used to be.”

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