McGraw-Hill and Follett Join Forces to Sell E-Books to School Libraries

Senior Editor

A division of the publisher McGraw-Hill is teaming with the wholesaler Follett to use the latter company’s broad platforms to deliver e-books focused on test-prep, foreign languages and other education topics to school libraries, and to students and families.

In a deal announced this week, McGraw-Hill Professional, which publishes books on education and other topics, said it will provide 4,500 new and backlisted e-books available on multiple devices to Follett, which then makes that content available to audiences in schools.

Follett describes itself as the largest provider of education materials and tech solutions to pre-K libraries, classrooms, and school districts in the country. The Westchester, Ill.-based company is not purchasing the content of the McGraw-Hill materials, but securing the right to host those materials on the Follett’s platforms and market and sell them to its customers, Gene Bahlman, its vice-president for content aquisitions and supplier management, told Education Week

The main online users of Follett’s platforms are typically school librarians, teachers, curriculum coordinators, and other district officials, Bahlman explained. Through the partnership, when school officials buy titles through Follett’s platforms, both McGraw-Hill and Follett get a portion of the sales, he said.

The new titles from McGraw-Hill include test prep for Advanced Placement exams and the SAT, as well as online study guides and foreign-language resources. Other titles will focus on careers, international business, and economics.

“When we look at the category of test prep, that is very important to us,” said Bahlman, because customers’ demand for those products is strong.

Many Follett customers are likely to access the e-books through Destiny Library Manager, a platform that allows students to comb through print and digital resources available to a school. They can also use another platform, Follett Shelf, which the company describes as a “virtual bookshelf.” Follett estimates that students and educators in 42,000 schools worldwide are using materials obtained through its sources.

Follett formerly had a business arrangements with McGraw-Hill Professional, but that relationship ended, Bahlman said. The new partnership is a revival of that arrangement.

Bahlman believes the new partnership is a sign that, as the digital publishing world grows and evolves, more publishers see wholesalers like Follett as having a big role in “getting content into the hands of students.”

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