Saturday 25 October 2014

Gill & MacMillan closes book on college market

Published 03/09/2014 | 02:30

Picture shows one hundred and forty first year students at Luttrellstown Community College who received their Wriggle ‘digital’ schoolbags yesterday
Picture shows one hundred and forty first year students at Luttrellstown Community College who received their Wriggle ‘digital’ schoolbags yesterday

LEADING educational publisher Gill & MacMillan is getting out of the printed books market for students in third-level and further education.

The company's decision reflects an increasing reliance by students on lecturers' notes and texts, many of which are available online.

There has also been a rapid growth in the number of courses on offer, but with fewer students on each one.

The company had been the sole Irish educational publisher catering for students in institutes of technology and on post-Leaving Certificate courses and, to a lesser extent, universities.

Gill & Macmillan managing director Dermot O'Dwyer made the announcement in a letter to authors this week, stating that they had ceased commissioning text books for these markets.

The decision also affects the books it produces for professional groups, such as accountants and lawyers.

However, the company will continue publishing for schools, where the markets are much bigger. Mr O'Dwyer said the market for third-level texts, both locally and internationally, has been in decline.

"We have concluded reluctantly that the revenue potential of this sector of the education market no longer justifies the investment and overhead cost required in publishing," he said.

He told the Irish Independent that previously they would have been producing about 15-20 titles every year for this market, with up to 4,000 books for each title, but very often now it was 700-800 copies.

Mr O'Dwyer gave an example of childcare as one area where they have published textbooks for PLC courses, but he said there was now a wide range of different courses available to students. He said students were relying less on printed books and instead were using Moodle, an online learning environment provided by colleges offering lecturers' notes and texts relevant to their courses.

"It doesn't make economic sense to be commissioning a book when the revenue from the title is going to be very small", he said.

Mr O'Dwyer said they had produced some titles on the Kindle ebook but the numbers using them were very small.

Irish Independent

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