Roger Rosen is president and CEO of the Manhattan-based educational house Rosen Publishing, an independent business founded in 1950 by Rosen’s parents, Richard and Ruth Rosen. Rosen Publishing produces more than 1,000 new pre-K–12 titles per year in various print and digital formats and also offers subscription databases, specializing in what Rosen has called “compelling content correlated to curriculum.” We spoke with Rosen about recent market changes and what lies ahead for his company.
How have technology and the Internet transformed the school and library market?
Digital disruption has had a profound effect in school libraries and public libraries. Librarians, and the students and patrons they serve, can access information through a multiplicity of means: subscription databases, e-books, interactive e-books. Our job as educational publishers is to ensure that content is paramount, but that the delivery system accommodates the needs of our customers and is optimized through whatever additional features and benefits can be provided by the technology.
How has your company adapted to, or been proactive about, market changes?
Twelve years ago Rosen Publishing had a certain prescience in terms of the opportunities that would be created by the digital revolution. We knew that as publishers of circulating reference, we would have to have a strong strategy to serve our constituency in this new landscape. We aggressively recruited a strong internal IT department and innovated from within. We made sure that IT was a part of all of our editorial decisions and we created a digital version—be it e-book or interactive e-book—for all print books. We also focused on creating comprehensive databases.
How do you solicit feedback from librarians and teachers, and how is that information important to you?
We attend a myriad of trade shows every year. Over the years, interaction with key committee members from the various professional organizations—ALA, AASL, NCSS, ILA, and others—has increased our circle of colleagues and collaborators. For every digital initiative, we create an advisory board of teacher-librarians to be a part of the development process. This input is vital to our process.
Public libraries and school libraries are often on the front lines of social change. How do you as a publisher try to help meet the needs of these institutions?
I agree with the role you describe of the librarian in our society. We are duty-bound to further that mission, and we do so by creating educational materials that provide equity of access, ensuring that our programs are device-agnostic and can be accessed on any computer, phone, or tablet, anytime and anywhere. Our content is also created with an eye to helping address existing societal problems or to help navigate change.
Can you give examples of titles you are publishing to meet any new or increased needs in the market?
When I speak about books and materials that help navigate social change or provide valuable advice that cannot necessarily be found in an age-appropriate form anywhere else, I think of our work on cyberbullying, or our Know Your Rights series, which addresses racial profiling, or our series on Confronting Violence Against Women, which has the first book ever published for at-risk teen girls on female genital cutting. Our database Teen Health & Wellness, which is used throughout the world, continues to be updated on a regular basis to reflect changing data and needs.
Are you planning any new directions for your company?
As president of Rosen Publishing I have a mandate to grow in new directions to serve the children and teens for whom we have been publishing for over 65 years. With the acquisition of Jackdaws [a company that produces facsimiles of historical documents] in June we will be publishing considerably more primary-source materials. We are also focusing on the field of gaming and learning and have a nascent professional publishing program that consists of five titles by gamer/librarian Chris Harris that guide teacher-librarians through using board games for instruction. Look for a lot more gaming material from us.