1 What's your company called?
Pearson Publishing Ltd—not to be confused with Pearson PLC. We have offices in Cambridge and London.
2 What do you publish?
We publish educational, training and informative resources for educational institutions and selected partner organisations. Our learners and readers span from children learning their ABCs to police officers mastering cyber security to professionals countering extremism in Africa.
We make our publications available digitally through nimbl, our powerful publishing system. nimbl allows us to publish and easily update content for smartphones, tablets and computers, both online and offline. We are passionate about using mobile access to enhance learning and training, and we have invested significantly to create a platform that is engaging for readers and efficient for organisations to use and manage.
3 What's the story of the company?
Pearson Publishing was founded in the early 1990s to publish educational and training titles in print, fixed electronic media and online. However, from about 2012 the demand for our resources began to decline as traditional media became less popular and purely web-based publications failed to satisfy demand.
This coincided with our growing interest in learning through mobile devices like tablets and phones. Since then we have combined our long-term commitment to education and learning with our passion for cutting-edge technology and mobile access to create nimbl.
Making learning truly mobile is now central to our company. We are proud that nimbl puts the reader in charge of when, where and how they learn, particularly as it allows them to access resources completely offline with no need for wifi or other data networks. We present our content in a way that keeps learning exciting, with interactive features such as quizzes, writing exercises, audio and video.
Our ability to create and update resources quickly makes nimbl very efficient and flexible for training and education providers. They can also track progress, performance and self-evaluation easily using the built-in reporting features.
The appeal of this mobile approach for both readers and organisations expands far beyond our original customer base of pupils and school staff. Over the past few years we have increasingly worked in partnership with other publishers and commercial organisations, both large and small, to publish resources using branded versions of the nimbl app. This has included converting major English language textbooks into mobile courses with Oxford University Press, providing media training to UN professionals around the world, and creating a fully mobile Foundation Degree in Youth Justice.
4 How's business?
Since the creation of nimbl and our transition to mobile-first publishing, our business and customer network has grown. The ability to create, edit and update content very quickly and efficiently has increased the number of resources we can offer our customers in the education sector, and has opened up new avenues for us to pursue. Consequently, turnover has increased by 30 to 40% per year in each of the last three years. nimbl is now used by educational institutions across the UK and abroad, as well as two thirds of England’s local authorities.
Over the last few years we have expanded into other sectors by working with commercial partners who provide content that we would not be able to. This has allowed them to develop new, updatable content to find new readers in the UK and worldwide. This work with commercial partners has grown quickly and we are developing new collaborations in an increasing variety of fields. We are always keen to work with other organisations to combine our expertise and use nimbl to expand their audience.
5 What do you enjoy about being independent?
The flexibility and freedom of being an independent publisher allows us to be swift to invest in mobile technology and publishing. Independence helps us work closely with forward-thinking partners and listen to our customer feedback to adapt our publications for our learners and readers.
6 What do you think is the biggest single issue in publishing right now?
Most of us are working hard to promote the value of paid content, at a time when readers are bombarded with free alternatives. We are addressing this issue by providing titles that we are very proud of, in a format that suits our readers and that can feed back valuable data.
7 What one piece of advice would you give to a fellow independent just starting out?
Don’t be afraid to ask others for advice and information. Speak to independent publishers to hear about their challenges and triumphs. Talk to readers and customers to make sure that the content you are passionate about will be read and valued, and be flexible enough to accommodate their feedback.
8 What do you get out of belonging to the IPG?
It is always valuable to share experiences with other publishers, as we often face the same challenges. In some cases this has led to really interesting collaborations and new ventures with other publishers. It is exciting to know that there are opportunities for us as IPG members to use our flexibility and independence to work together to compete with much larger publishers.