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Interviews | Oct 05, 2018 |

Talking with … Albert Greco

Albert GrecoEach “Talking with…” feature introduces you to a different Gabelli School faculty member, administrator, or staff member. In this week’s installment, we’re speaking with Albert Greco, professor of marketing.

What are you currently researching?
I am currently researching a business history book about the U.S. trade book business since 1980. Trade book revenues topped $7.6 billion in 2017, but the last business history was published in 1980. So, no one has analyzed the dramatic multi-billion-dollar growth of adult, juvenile, mass market, and religious books as well as the impact of the internet on scholars, readers, and libraries in 38 years.

I also have a business history book proposal under review about the marketing and financing of World War II in the United States.

What is the most interesting part about teaching consumer behavior courses?
Consumer behavior looks at great questions and issues related to who, what, when, where, how, and why consumers decide to buy, or not buy, products and services. This means analyzing issues related to age, gender, style, prestige, the channels of distribution, etc. I started analyzing these intriguing issues in 1985 in a series of publications. So, my research and the consumer behavior topics blend in an intriguing way.

Can you explain how publishers have shifted their strategy over the past five years to accommodate for textbook rental services?
Higher education textbook revenues declined 17.67% from $4.81 billion in 2013 to $3.96 billion in 2017. The basic concerns of higher education publishers center on the impact of used and rental textbooks, and the importation of foreign published textbooks, which account for about 35 to 40 percent of all textbook sales. The publishers’ responses have been to move toward digital textbooks since a student does not own a digital textbook. Publishers hope that if all textbooks were digital, they could capture all, or almost all, textbook sales. The problem is that 75 percent of current college students prefer a printed textbook; 25 percent want digital texts. So, publishers tried “Netflix” subscription services, issuing a new version every two years, etc. Any effective strategy to reclaim lost sales is years away since the strategies have been so far ineffective.

Is there a recent trend in publishing that troubles you?
I hate to say this, but I am very concerned about university presses. Revenues increased in 2017 to $58.7 billion, but comparatively, the professional book sector was $687.5 billion in 2017. Large commercial professional presses have access to capital with major stockholders and scale. University presses are critical to the intellectual life of universities and academics, but many of them are small to medium-sized undercapitalized presses, and they need to address costly back-office operations and scale issues. In recent publications, I have addressed some of the ways that university presses can try to insulate themselves from the vagaries of the marketplace, including regional or affinity group strategies and a reevaluation of pricing policies.

 

Fun questions

Amazon Echo, Google Home, or neither:
Neither.

What one museum or cultural site would you tell a tourist to visit?
If a tourist had time, the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, NY is a gem. Otherwise, the Metropolitan Museum of Art on 5th Avenue is the place to visit.

What one museum or cultural site would you tell a New York City local to visit?
The Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. Many New Yorkers seem to miss this wonderful museum.

Best part about Fordham in the fall:
Rose Hill is a great-looking campus in the fall, especially when the leaves turn gold; students, football, and basketball return, and the views of the campus from Hughes Hall are great and inspiring.

Favorite type of apple:
Macintosh.

Last book you read that kept you thinking about it afterward:
John Tebbel’s Between Covers: The Rise and Transformation of American Book Publishing. I knew John, and his book influenced me to look at and research the complex, semi-chaotic book publishing industry, the best business in the world since it is involved in the transmission of ideas.

 

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