Judy Newman, president of Scholastic Book Club and E-Commerce divisions, spent last week’s conference call on year-end results providing a few details on Scholastic’s plans to develop a proprietary e-reading platform that will sell children’s e-books from Scholastic and other publishers. Newman said they expect to begin the pilot test for the program by the end of the calendar year. The service will feature proprietary e-reading software that initially will be able to be downloaded to PCs, followed by Macintosh and “ultimately every device,” Newman said. The program will begin with 2,000 “carefully curated” titles and Scholastic will experiment with various prices, Newman said. Scholastic chairman Dick Robinson said that while Scholastic intends to “provide value” in the new e-book service, the company wants to guard against “undercutting” its print offerings. Most titles will be straight e-book editions of print books, but there could be some enhanced e-books and at some point original e-books, Newman said.
While it undergoes testing, Scholastic does not expect the e-book program to generate meaningful revenue in the current fiscal year.