PearsonAn 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.

From the announcement:Pearson

“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.


  1. If textbook publishers such as Pearson and McGraw-Hill have their way, both paper and digital textbooks will go the way of the Tasmanian tiger.
    What they are offering in place of textbooks is what they call “learning content.” Learning content is stuff that can only exist in the rarified environment that is the learning management system (LMS) where it can be better contained, controlled and marketed.
    The marketing is not to students. Rather, the marketing is to institutions of higher education who, it is planned, will contract for learning content for all enrolled students. The cost will be bundled with tuition.
    So, from the student perspective, one enrolls in a class, pays the tuition and is given access to the LMS (hosted either by the institution or by the publisher) where all learning content (mostly the stuff that used to be in the textbook container). Look ma! No textbooks!
    The good news here is that this will address the growing problem of students trying to do without buying the required textbook because of their cost. Of course the big picture is far more complex than can be accommodated in this space.

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