Talk about Doubling Down
This really is a remarkable move by Riverdeep & Houghton Mifflin (now one and the same since Riverdeep acquired Houghton Mifflin late last year): Publishers Weekly, Reuters/Yahoo News, Bloomberg and a bit of blog reaction from Martyn Daniels.
From the HoughtonMifflin’s own press release:
The combination of Houghton Mifflin’s and Harcourt’s elementary, secondary and supplemental businesses creates a provider that will offer customers more choices in educational publishing. The new entity will be well-positioned to make the investments required to deliver to teachers and administrators a more comprehensive and flexible set of K–12 learning solutions than is available today. The addition of Harcourt Trade to Houghton Mifflin’s rich library of literature and reference titles will create a preeminent publisher with one of the industry’s most distinguished lists of authors.
Despite the noise they are making about the trade list, I cannot help but feel that the real goal is to lock in as much educational content as Riverdeep can and to begin the process of moving education online as we have mentioned here before. It is really an exciting time in educational publishing. I think we may be seeing the growth of an online education giant.
Seeing the shape emerging or is that just the fog?
Staggered release windows are so last century. We want it all now, baby, we want it today. Why, as books are competing with so many other forms of media, would the publishing industry want to create a vacuum where one needs not exist?
Booksquare have it right
The quote above is only part of a much longer article that very nicely discusses the idea of staggered release and why they really, really are not a good idea anymore for publishers (well except maybe in rare circumstances*).
What they mean is the pretty standard measure publishers take to capture as much of the market as they can. First a hardback is released to the market at a pretty stiff price, followed by a trade paperback as much as a year later. Personally I have found this a terribly frustrating experience. Aside from the cost, reading hardbacks is such a chore, especially when you are dealing with books of this length!
I can understand the logic. *For instance it would have been difficult to ignore the two bites of the cherry for this book. I suspect the sales would have been as good had they published a hardback and a paperback at the one time, but it is a tough call to be the first publisher to actually risk that on a hunch and a general feeling.
I guess what I am saying is that I can see the benefits of having a hardback and a paperback at the same time but as a publisher, I can see the risk too. What is more I can understand the fear that you will cannibalise your hardback sales for the sake of being trendy. Still it is probably worth the risk once.
Thinking it might be worth it!