After Merger Shifts Membership, Publishers Group Doubles Down on Education

By / Mar 2, 2016 (iStock/Thinkstock)

In the nearly three years since the Association of American Publishers merged with the Association of Educational Publishers, the former group’s membership has become increasingly more populated by educational publishers. As a result, the group has been focusing on issues specifically of interest to educational publishers.

When mergers happen between associations, the combined organization may keep one of the original names, but quite often it takes on the fabric of both associations. The merger can change the focus of the combined organization to better meet its shifting member needs—something that the Association of American Publishers (AAP) is currently experiencing, three years after completing its absorption of the Association of Educational Publishers (AEP).

“There’s been a synergy between AAP and AEP since we produced our first joint initiative in 2011. Our industry has evolved dramatically since then and will continue to do so. This merger is a logical next step to serve the long-term interests of preK-12 publisher members with a full range of programs, representation, and services,” Jay Diskey, executive director of AAP’s school division, said in a news release at the time of the merger. “This decision reflects the evolution underway at AAP and gives AEP’s activities greater scope and scalability.”

Since the merger, that synergy has been clearly visible. Once focused largely on traditional publishers, AAP now claims educational publishers as its largest member segment. Consequently, the organization’s lobbying work has become more focused on the needs of such publishers.

Last month, Publishers Weekly reported that AAP has redoubled its efforts on issues of interest to educational publishers; specifically, in 2015 its lobbying campaign resulted in $3.5 billion in new funds for educational materials, and the association responded to incorrect information that has led to criticism over the prices of college textbooks.

Recently, David Anderson, executive director of higher education at AAP, commented about the cost of college textbooks to NBC News, in response to a report on the issue by Student PIRGs (Public Interest Research Groups). Anderson noted that the educational publishing industry is moving away from printed books and increasingly turning to digital learning resources.

“I would agree that the price of hard-bound print books is high, and this industry understands that and they are moving to make new digital resources available that are more engaging, help students learn and get better grades, and slash the prices in half or more,” Anderson told the news outlet. “I think we’re the only industry involved with higher education that can say they’re cutting costs by half by shifting in this digital direction.”

Perhaps the best reflection of this direction is AAP’s recent launch of the Center for Innovation & Digital Learning, which aims to promote new ideas in digital learning and to foster the development of cutting-edge education technology—particularly as books lose favor. AAP President and CEO Tom Allen considers the center a reflection of the association’s longtime efforts to stay current with changes in educational publishing.

“While AAP and its education divisions have undertaken many digital initiatives over the past 15 years, our new center will complement existing initiatives and generate new efforts that support our members, educators, and students nationwide,” Allen said in a news release last month.

Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is the social media journalist for Associations Now, a former newspaper guy, and a man who is dangerous when armed with a good pun. More »


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