Simon & Schuster Enlists Popular Authors for Online Courses

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Publishing company Simon & Schuster is expanding into a new sector — online education. They will upload paid online videos in a new website dedicated to offering educational online courses conducted by popular finance, health and self-help authors.

It was reported that cost of their first batch of online courses vary from $25 to $85, to be decided by the authors. The range contains workbooks and chance to take part in live question-and-answer sessions with 3 authors: Dr. David B. Agus, Zhena Muzyka and Tosha Silver. Dr. David is known for his best-selling book “The End of Illness,” Zhena Muzyka wrote a popular self-help book called “Life by the Cup” and Tosha Silver wrote “Outrageous Openness,” a spiritual advice book.

All the online courses can be found on the authors’ personal websites and also on the publishing company’s new website, called SimonSays.

President of Simon & Schuster, Carolyn Reidy, explained the demand for such features.

“Today’s consumers have made it plain that they want and expect more from authors than just books. This initiative is also another way for us to expand what Simon & Schuster can provide to our authors, building audiences for their books and creating new revenue streams.”

With this new range of online courses, the company intends to overcome 2 main problems that the authors and publishers often face: grabbing attention of readers who are easily distracted by free online content and social media, and finding new business prospects in the fading book market.

It was found that approximately 1 billion people view 300 million hours of videos on YouTube every day. The book sales, on the other hand, have dropped significantly.

Simon & Schuster’s sales plunged 11% in the 3rd quarter of 2014. Sales of digital content, which make up for 28% of the firm’s sales, were also flat.

Simon & Schuster has plans to launch 12 to 15 more courses in 2015. The company will mainly focus on writers who have earned not only dedicated fan bases but who also have a well-defined message or philosophy to share with the viewers.

The online courses, considered as stand-alone products, could also include videos by experts and entertainers who haven’t published any books yet. Liz Perl, the chief marketing officer and vice president of Simon & Schuster thinks that the videos might even lead the way to a book.

These video courses are the publishing company’s latest effort to expand and capture the active market for online videos. Simon & Schuster recently informed that they have plans to feature some authors on Play.it podcasts. Play.it is a newly launched podcast network from the publisher’s parent company CBS.

Even though moving to the online video sector is a tricky step, especially as viewers will be charged for the content in a medium where they are used to getting things for free, Simon & Schuster is highly relying on the talented authors to promote their online products via their websites and social media.