Monday, October 30, 2006

And Then There Were ... ?

I'm a bit behind on noting this: Educational publisher Nelson Thomson is selling off its textbook division. Or, as the biz-jargon-laden report on CBC says, Thomson is undertaking a sweeping revamp, and completing its "transformation into a provider of high-value electronic-based 'workflow solutions.'"

This leaves the number of publishers providing core materials for the elementary, secondary, and post-secondary markets down to two: Pearson and McGraw Hill Ryerson.

I think this is very bad for everyone concerned. Well, it might be okay for Nelson, who seem to think that their profitable educational publishing business is limiting their success as a provide of e-solutions, but for schools and colleges, who have few enough choices for textbooks as it is, and for publishing professionals e (both freelance and in-house), who compete for an ever dwindling number of jobs and freelance contracts from an ever smaller number of ever stingier publishers.

Over the years, the number of educational publishers creating resources for core courses has dwindled, as the survivors gobbled up everyone else. When I was at Nelson, they finished digesting Harcourt, and gobbled up Gage, they've since swallowed a couple of other publishers. Pearson has engulfed several: they publish under Addison Wesley, Prentice Hall, Pearson, Longman, and a few other imprints. Now one of the Big Fish is selling off its publishing division. I can't really see either of the other publishers buying Thomson Learning intact, but maybe someone'll prove me wrong.

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