Future Managers are South Africa's leading tertiary educational textbook publisher, what does their story say about how to create financially successful digital textbooks?
Future Managers (FM) are a South-African educational publishing and services firm who offer a range of textbooks, other products and services to lecturers, teachers and students across South African colleges, universities and technical institutes, with a particular emphasis on Science, Technology and Mathematics courses.
FM were similar to a large number of educational publishers in that they needed to get their existing library of print textbooks onto tablet devices in a straightforward way whilst keeping open the opportunity to enhance these editions with more intricate video, audio or interactive content in the future.
The primary challenges that FM identified centred on getting this existing library of several hundred textbooks into an accessible digital format that included desktop computers without having to dedicate significant resources over a long time period to make this possible.
Running in parallel to this, any such solution needed to be secure enough to allow FM to monetize the published works within it.
After discussing our range of solution with Sharon Hulley, FM’s Digital Product Manager. YUDU’s micro-bookstore apps proved to be most suitable to meeting these requirements by offering FM an environment which was both easy to publish into whilst offering secure DRM, allowing FM to turn the app into their own branded book-store. Micro-bookstore apps therefore dovetailed quite neatly into FM’s primary requirements.
Sharon paid particular attention to the straightforward, three-stage workflow process on the platform (“upload, enhance and publish”). The level of complexity that can be involved in the ePub conversion method FM were using before was elaborate and time consuming, Sharon described this process ”archaic” by comparison.
There was also a great deal of praise for YUDU’s support levels, mentioning the broad range of support avenues. FM felt re-assured by the level of person-to-person contact involved, at no point feeling like they were handicapped by YUDU’s lack of a physical presence in South Africa.
FM paid particular attention to how students and teachers received their new app when it was launched, so we were lucky enough to get direct feedback about what particular aspects of the user experience were more enjoyed by the end-user.
Surprisingly, the most positive feedback was given to YUDU’s note-taking and highlighting features (initially not one of FM’s primary requirements), which are cloud-synchronized and thus save time across all devices, and which link to the end-user’s login credentials.
The next move for FM is to introduce quizes and tests questions through YUDU’s support of HTML5 content. The hope is that this will help teachers better understand where particular pupils need the most support.
FM have been extremely successful in bringing new colleges on board as clients. Every FET College in South Africa is now making available at least some of FT’s titles, and the outlook for the future is even greener as the app develops in scope and market penetration.