Using a new website as a vehicle for online education, Simon & Schuster is pushing paid videos whereby well-known authors would provide online courses. Although there would be a range of different genres, those at the forefront of interest include finance, self-help, and health.
The first set of courses will range in price from $25 to $85 and consist of workshops, as well as real-time question and answer sessions with three known authors. The first author, Tosha Silver, wrote “Outrageous Openness”, a spiritual advice book, the second, Zhena Muzyka wrote “Life by the Cup, a popular self-help book, and the third, Dr. David B. Agus authored “The End of Illness”.
According to a spokesperson for Simon & Schuster, in addition to the online courses being offered on the company’s website, individuals would have the ability to complete them on the author’s site. As stated by Carolyn Reidy, president and chief executive of Simon & Schuster, consumers make it clear that not only are they looking for great books but more from the authors themselves.
Using this particular initiative for education, Simon & Schuster has the ability to offer consumers but also authors more. As an example, authors would benefit by building a stronger reader base and generating new streams of revenue.
The goal is to deal with two primary issues authors and publishers in today’s world face, finding new opportunities for business in a market that has been somewhat sluggish and turning the reader’s attention away from social media and toward content offered online. The most recent statistics show that one billion people from around the world spend 300 million hours every day watching videos on YouTube so this will be a challenge.
In recent years, book sales have faltered and in fact, for the third fiscal quarter of 2014, sales for Simon & Schuster dropped 11%. Even sales of digital content, which makes up 28% of the company’s sales, has become flat.
Throughout 2015, between 12 and 15 additional online courses will be released, keeping the focus on writers who already have a loyal reader base coupled with a strong message or defined philosophy. However, these stand-alone courses may also include videos from authors who have not yet had books published. Liz Perl, executive vice president and chief marketing officer for Simon & Schuster said the videos could eventually lead people toward a book.
While there is incredible possibilities, Simon & Schuster could also face some hurdles. For example, the type of content that will be charged is something that consumers typically receive free. For this reason, the company will depend heavily on the authors to promote the online courses using their own website, personal appearances, and various social media sites.