“I’ve often said that the shift to digital in K-12 would be like a dimmer switch, not an on/off button,” says Linda Zecher, CEO of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. “But in 2014, the rapid increase in schools incorporating technology and digital learning tools has been remarkable.”
The accelerating pace of that transition promises to keep education publishers on their toes throughout next year.
In Zecher’s view, digital innovation isn’t just a matter of end format or delivery system. “Content can no longer be static,” Zecher says. “We need to harness technology in order to make it more accessible, interactive and adaptive.”
That’s especially true in the education space, where Houghton Mifflin Harcourt aims to lead the pack. The company recently launched HMH Labs in order to experiment with innovative technologies that make digital learning experiences richer and more effective for students.
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Why Amazon Is Making Peace with Publishers (The Street)
Amazon has further consolidated its position in the market since being granted the right to discount ebooks in 2012, as Macmillan CEO John Sargent noted rather ruefully last week. So why has the e-tailer agreed to restore the agency pricing model for three of the Big Five publishers? According to one industry watcher, the pressure to widen profit margins is one key factor.
Macmillan Head Voices Angst over Distribution Limits (NPR)
Reflecting on the ebook distribution landscape after signing a new contract with Amazon, the publisher’s CEO John Sargent expressed undisguised frustration that Macmillan has little leverage and few options when it comes to getting its titles into readers’ hands. From Sargent’s point of view, opening up new distribution channels will be a top priority heading into next year.
Related: How Publishers May Be Able to Regain Leverage
Weighing Apple’s Chances (PW)
Apple’s appeal hearing in the long-running ebook price-fixing case was held earlier this month, with some commentators judging things to have gone well for the tech company. Here’s a close look at those claims and how things could shake out as the legal odyssey takes its latest turn.
Fire Phone Gets More Features (ABC News)
Refusing to throw in the towel after a lackluster debut for its first smartphone, Amazon rolls out a battery of new features for the Fire Phone, including upgraded photo and text translation capabilities.
Kindle Freetime Unlimited Adds Kids’ Content (Good E Reader)
Amazon adds 4,000 new ebooks and other digital media to its subscription-based children’s platform Kindle Freetime Unlimited, a program exclusive to Amazon devices.
Related: Kids’ Ebooks and E-Reading Devices to Top Holiday Gift Lists
College Students Clinging to Print? (Quartz)
A new survey suggests U.S. college students are not yet flocking to e-textbooks and other digital higher-education content for which print counterparts are also available. But other recent research has indicated that demand for cheaper, digital alternatives to physical textbooks is indeed rising.
Related: Inside the New World of Higher Education Publishing at DBW15
Japan to Tax Imported Ebooks (The Japan News)
Responding to concerns among digital retailers based in Japan, the Japanese government takes steps to tax to digital content including ebooks produced and sold by companies headquartered abroad.
How European Ebook Readers Might Circumvent Tax Law (Good E Reader)
With a new European Union tax law to take effect next month, ebook readers could turn to VPN services in order to sidestep an average estimated 17% price hike. One industry watcher considers the likelihood and legality of such a workaround.