Magazine article Curriculum Administrator

Scholastic Buys Reference Publisher Grolier

Magazine article Curriculum Administrator

Scholastic Buys Reference Publisher Grolier

Article excerpt

The latest technology news from business, schools and government, and how it affects administrators, schools and students.

Looking to help jumpstart its slightly languishing educational and resource Web site, move its children's publishing business into another market--New York-based Scholastic recently bought reference publisher Grolier for $400 million in cash.

The move comes at a time when Scholastic, although riding a huge wave of popularity with its Harry Potter books, is still grappling with the business model for its Web site. Widely considered one of the best educational Web sites targeted to the U.S. K-12 market, is facing increased competition from dozens of new Web sites that have burst onto the scene within the past two years.

In fact, it was the specter of that competition which helped lead Scholastic to change its business model as it pertained to its Web site, taking it from a subscription-based site to a free site. In addition, the company relaunched the Web site late last year ("Scholastic Relaunches its Web Page," CURRICULUM ADMINISTRATOR, January 2000, p.12) by pumping up its content geared toward teachers with strategies and classroom management advice; real-time interviews; and current events that can be used in daily lesson plans. The company also expanded its site content targeted to parents, and materials geared toward students.

"Scholastic deserves high marks for having a lot of content," says one educational software consultant who is familiar with Grolier and Scholastic. "They [Scholastic] were very early into the game, but they were in so early that it was before people knew what the successful business model is for an educational Web site. It's not that other sites are doing well and Scholastic isn't, it's that no one is really doing well quite yet."

Which makes the Grolier acquisition important on several levels. Adding content for content's sake to the Web site will not help educators if the site becomes too time-consuming and cumbersome to surf. But take an already content-rich site and seamlessly add additional reference materials, and Scholastic could be looking at a real homerun.

"Overall, the Grolier acquisition is a good fit for Scholastic," says Peter Appert, managing director of the investment bank Deutsche Banc Alex. …

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