booktech.com’s custom publishing clears rights on request.
Internet Strategies for Education Markets: The Heller Report December 1, 2000 booktech.com (Woburn, MA), a player in the custom publishing industry, distinguishes itself by including resources at a professor’s request, not just resources from booktech.com’s database. Before the company migrated to a web-based model, says ceo and chairman Morris A. Shepard, the business simply cleared rights on clippings sent in by a professor, copied the documents and assembled them into coursepacks. Professors might not have even had the actual article, just a few hints as to where booktech.com might find it. see here jones international university
Educator’s Portal to Offer A Database of Resources That was five years ago. Now the company digitizes an image of every page a professor submits for a coursebook, cleaning it up for easy reading. Shepard says they are also becoming more proactive in clearing rights to academic materials in advance and building a database of resources. That database, the Educator’s Portal, will likely launch in January.
The work required to populate the Educator’s Portal ranges from negotiations for single documents to massive licensing deals. The company will still seek rights to a single item requested by a professor, but while they do so, they’ll also negotiate rights for a wide-range of anticipated academic uses down the road. This process has brought about 30,000 items to the database. On the other end of the spectrum, booktech.com recently negotiated a deal placing H.W. Wilson’s Wilson OmniFile: Full Text Mega Edition onto the Educator’s Portal. This archive adds full-text articles from 760 periodicals, comprehensive abstracts from 2,700 documents and an index of two million items.
With the Educator’s Portal in place, professors will be able to search for relevant resources, add their own requests–including articles not in the database–or their own work and have a custom coursepack assembled. booktech.com delivers a softbound book of 8″ by 12″ pages. They can add custom logos, color dividers or a syllabus or assignments. Some professors even use the service to create workbooks. Prices typically range from ten cents to twenty cents per page, depending on the rights clearances. The service competes with textbook publishers offering digital, custom assembly and services from massive content holders such as Thomson Publishing, Pearson, McGrawHill and Bell and Howell, but it is unique in its continued service commitment to clear rights on request.
The resources are also available online or on CD-ROM. While print is the preferred delivery method, Shepard anticipates increased use of the online option with distance learning clients. Jones International University, for example, recently selected booktech.com as its coursepack supplier, and those students are likely to select the online version (for more on Jones International University see page 4.) booktech.com already has a student portal to facilitate student purchases of the materials–though the coursepacks are most frequently purchased through a campus bookstore. They are developing a portal for publishers to track the status of permissions for their properties and anticipate that addition this spring. They will also soon add a feature to the Educator’s Portal that identifies new resources by topic. (These, however, are items new to the database, not necessarily new information as in a news alert service.) booktech.com also plans to step-up their business of offering pre-assembled coursepacks on a topic — all of which could be customized.
Markets Beyond Higher Education Current efforts for pre-assembled coursepacks focus on the K-12 market, a market that Shepard identifies as still in its infancy. They currently have four coursepack titles: Breaking the Spanish Barrier and Breaking the French Barrier for high school; Trade Routes, a geography title for elementary school; and Choices, an economics title for middle school. Shepard says that, within K-12 markets, custom publishing makes most sense for high school students. Younger students, he explains, need color, and that is not yet cost effective in custom publishing.
booktech.com will also pursue corporate training markets, nonprofit organizations and associations. Joseph Short, chief education officers, explains that many non-profit groups have significant education programs. The Consortium for Worker Education (New York, NY), for example, makes training programs available to 800,000 union workers. Most of this activity is for healthcare workers. The company has also recently struck a deal with the United States Distance Learning Association (USDLA). Among higher education coursepack topics, management and business is the most popular, followed by education and religion. A number of seminaries have ordered coursepacks, says Short, possibly because this is a discipline in which books go out of print quickly. booktech.com is able to include copies of out-of-print materials if they can clear permissions. here jones international university
Counting on DL for Distribution Unlike many of their competitors, booktech.com is faced with the challenge of building a distribution network to reach professors. Marketing plans call for focusing on the distance learning market with clients such as JIU and the UT TeleCampus of the University of Texas System. Their product is well suited to the distant learning student, and this market will expose professors and their colleagues to the product. booktech.com also has a co-marketing agreement with Connected Learning. Network, Inc. (Louisville, KY, www.connectedlearning.net), a company with a platform to create and deliver online courses. The company plans to acquire coursepack competitors, custom content publishers, K-12 publishers and interactive learning systems.
booktech.com went public last April (AMEX:BTC). It has traded between roughly $2.50 and $4 after opening at $10. The company anticipates $3.5 million in sales for 2000, $7.3 million for 2001, $20.3 million for 2002, $44.7 million in 2003 and $74.7 in 2004.