When Adrian Keane successfully negotiated a contract with Pearson Australia to become the sales agent for Pearson lists in New Zealand some eleven months ago, he faced two immediate challenges. One was staff and premises, the other ‘what do we call our new company’.
The first need was the easiest to meet. Adrian and his wife Ingeborg had identified spacious, sunny office premises in Auckland suburb Northcote, literally down the street from their home. Staff did not present any problems either, with key team members available including ‘molto experienced’ tertiary rep Max Loveridge.
Edify Ltd is the sales team for Sunshine Books in New Zealand as well as being the sales agents for Pearson. There’s a quiet hum in the large main office, with workstations around the perimeter. So far, so normal, but the patch of green in the centre of the room isn’t pot plants, it is a pool table. Friday night drinks always means pool challenges – of the 17 Edify personnel, only one does not play! Pictured below at the pool table Irene Agar, company accountant (left) and (right) marketing executive Holly Robinson.“Educational publishing is in an incredibly transforming and disruptive era,” Adrian believes. “It is like a learning engine in which print is only one of the parts. Everything is on the internet; the student can access many new sources of information without going near the traditional print based sources of learning.
“The traditional text industry will have to continue to make radical change to stay relevant in an environment where books can be sourced from around the globe.
“We are losing business and university bookshops are losing business – we’re all having to reassess what our position in the value chain really is, and whether our customers share our view of how much value we’re actually providing.”
Edify supplies books to all three education levels beginning with primary, which Adrian rates the toughest market. “Primary schools are all individual economic units who make their own decisions about content and learning materials. Buying can sometimes appear to be ad hoc. When our reps arrive for appointments at schools they are often told
“There is an incredible amount of digital and print resources for primary schools, but they’re expensive to provide, yields are lower and schools are reluctant to pay for digital despite it representing extreme value compared to print. At the same time, publishers need to monetise their digital investment if they are to continue to innovate.”
The scenario is better at secondary level, but it is tertiary texts and material which remain the most remunerative area, says Adrian. Edify also represents Pearson’s computer list in this country.Edify Ltd manages the sales and marketing of Pearson products locally, but uses United Book Distributors based in Australia to manage the physical distribution.
A unique aspect of Edify, particularly in the primary school market, is that the sales team are on salary rather than commission: “I think people on salary do the best job, as they tend to focus on selling what the customer needs, even being prepared to walk away from an opportunity if the product is not really aligned with the customer’s goals. With commission sales people, they push the products that will give them a sale ‘now’ and this doesn’t always equate to the best interest of a customer.”
Currently Edify has no publishing wing, but that is an ambition for the future, Adrian admits. “We’re negotiating with Pearson to take over the New Zealand lists, particularly in secondary and tertiary. We’re excited about the opportunity to put a fresh lens on what is arguably the broadest and most successful domestic educational publishing list ever produced,” he says. “Watch this space!”