Larson Texts Adjusting to Digital World
Do you know who makes that textbook your child is reading in school? What if I told you, some are made right here in Erie inside Larson Texts.
"We pretty much have two main things that we do here at Larson Texts. One is that we author mathematical text books for large publishers. In addition to that we actually publish our own educational materials," said Matt Totzke, Larson Texts CEO.
Dr. Ron Larson, a mathematics professor at Penn State Behrend, started the company back in the late 70s.
Today, Larson Texts has 55 employees and has sold hundreds of different math books, from grades six to college around the world.
"Ron likes to share with folks that he has actually sold more copies of his text books that what John Grisham has sold of his books," joked Totzke.
But in today's ever changing digital world, Larson Texts is being forced to explore other options that have nothing to do with paper books.
"As the movie industry and the music industry has experienced, the textbook publishing industry is now experiencing the same shift. Where I don't need the full book, I just need the chapters my instructor assigns to me," said Totzke.
They've already begun offering some books online, free of charge. But they still make money, by gaining sponsorships.
It's a new avenue of business that employees like Rae Anne Grygier are ready to give a shot.
"We still need the textbooks right now. Definitely in college and things like that, but we're trying to do the on line textbook now. We're like going there and trying it out. I think we're one of the first companies to be doing that, so we're getting ready to change," said Grygier, a mathematician.
And while it is the new trend, they don't believe hard copy textbooks will ever be completely extinct.
"What's going to happen is digital will be your primary delivery mechanism and print will be a format that's a derivative. Where as today, we have print being the primary delivery mechanism and digital is a derivative of it," said Totzke.