By Eugene Gerden
‘To Better Handle Challenges’Prosveshchenie, a Russian publishing house familiar to readers of Publishing Perspectives, has announced that it will handle distribution for Pearson in Russia.
The arrangement is described as being called Language-Prosveshchenie, and is expected to represent the interests of Pearson in Russia, including the promotion of its content in the local book market.
Under the terms of the agreement, a controlling stake (52 percent) in the new venture is owned by Prosveshchenie. A spokesman for the new company tells Publishing Perspectives that the company anticipates a profit from the first year of operation.
Financial details of the project, including planned investments in the new venture, have not been disclosed, but some reports put the amounts contributed by each partner at as much as US$40 million to $50 million.
The agreement also is said to provide for distribution by Prosveshchenie of some Pearson content beyond the Russian market, extending to other international markets, as well.
Currently, Prosveshchenie says it holds a 30-percent share of Russia’s educational publishing sector, making it a good fit for cooperation with Pearson. The total revenue reported by the company in 2017 amounted to 17.4 billion rubles (US$200 million) and continues to grow this year.
Pearson’s commentary to Publishing Perspectives indicates that its focus in the Russian market is on supplying various English-language study tools. The material and textbooks are mostly used for university applicants’ preparations for IELTS, the International English Language Training System.
In addition, Pearson’s Russian output includes various English-language works, primarily educational.
Dmitry Klymishyn, managing director of Prosveshchenie, tells Publishing Perspectives, “The newly established joint venture is expected to expand the presence of Pearson products in the Russian market, to meet the ever-growing demand for studying English in Russia and to better handle challenges in Russian education and local business.”
Currently, English is taught in Russia in secondary and high-school programs. The popularity of English training is said to be growing steadily, something reflected in the recently approved introduction of a mandatory government examination on the knowledge of English for applicants to domestic universities.
According to analysts’ predictions, the introduction of that test will require additional English-language textbooks and other instructional materials for Russian secondary schools and universities.
And this rising demand for English-language textbooks in Russia is confirmed by Boris Kuznetsov, director of the publishing house Rosman, who says the study of English is now highly sought in the Russian system, accentuated by the coming new state examination. He says Rosman publishes two teaching aids for junior high school students, but the company plans to expand in this direction, through the cooperation with Western publishers of educational literature, as Prosveshchenie is doing with Pearson.
According to recently published data from the ministry of science and education, the domestic market for foreign-language study is estimated at 26.8 billion rubles (US425 million). Analysts say they expect further growth of the online segment of the market during the next several years, contributing to the growth of the market.
Pearson has worked with Russian publishers in the past. Ruslan Gagkuev, editor-in-chief with Rossyisky Uchebnik, another producer of textbooks, says that Ventan-Graf publishing house—a division of Rossyisky Uchebnik—owns exclusive rights to Russian translations of a number of Pearson’s books.
The education sector remains one of the most promising parts of the Russian book market in terms of further growth. And that attracts leading Western publishers. According to data of the ministry, last year education amounted to 31 billion rubles (US$492 million), and there’s a possibility the market will grow further this year.