An announcement from Pearson Australia, the Oz arm of Pearson PLC, ultimate part-owner of the new Big Five publishing behemoth Penguin Random House, indicates that the trade and educational publishing giant is not having things all its own way everywhere.
Pearson Australia has decided to pull back from vocational training and trade education print work, as part of broader changes “being made in order to create a more nimble organisation that is able to respond more quickly to the needs of our customers”—with 75 announced redundancies.
“The changes will take place across the business and include consolidating our print and digital production teams, our marketing and customer services functions, and our sales teams. They also include a decision to wind down traditional publishing activities in the vocational education & training market.”
“Pearson is committed to offering the very best in products and services to the students, teachers and learning institutions of Australia,” said Pearson Australia and New Zealand CEO David Barnett, in the announcement. “However, as trends in education change, it has become apparent that we need to rethink some of our current business models as we support Pearson’s global education mission.”
Reported elsewhere in Australia’s Bookseller & Publisher magazine, though, he said:
“We are seeing indications that textbooks are not playing the central role in underpinning learning that they once did.”
Where this leaves Pearson’s heavily textbook-dependent business remains to be seen.
Recent reports of changes at Pearson include some curious rumors out of Malaysia that the group might be about to sell the Financial Times to a consortium of Abu Dhabi’s state media group and Rupert Murdoch-owned entities. Pearson, however, promptly denied these reports, and it’s hard to gauge how much substance there might be in them.