Faber expands into education with new series

Faber expands into education with new series

Faber is launching new educational editions of its books for students at GCSE, IGCSE and A Level in close collaboration with authors Kazuo Ishiguro, Alan Bennett and Michael Frayn.

The guides mark "the beginnings" of Faber "really engaging" with the education market, Henry Volans, Faber's digital and new business director told The Bookseller.

Each edition, intended to support the teaching and study of English literature in secondary education, will combine the complete text of a major curricular work with an "approachable and stimulating" author-approved study guide.

The guides will include context of the work and its author; detailed analyses of character, setting and theme; close examination of plot, structure, and narrative or dramatic techniques; critical responses to the work; activities both for the student working alone and in the classroom and test questions designed to prompt deeper thinking.

Launch titles are scheduled for April 2017 publication and will comprise Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro, with a study guide by Geoff Barton; Spies by Michael Frayn, and The History Boys by Alan Bennett, both with study guides by Andrew Bruff. Each is priced at £9.99.

Volans said that while the guides had been in the pipeline for around 18 months,they did not represent "a wholesale change to our business", but were born out of Faber's connection with education, with its books being studied in schools for "if not totally, then almost for as long as Faber's existence".

He said: "We have always been proud to have our books studied in schools in the UK and around the world, and I see this as the beginnings of us really engaging with that market and supporting that market. What we're doing is we're following up an impulse that has been there for a long time."

All guides on the "focus list" willl be in line with the new specifications at GCSE and A Level, which Volans revealed was "the most immediate prompt" for the series, with first examinations taking place this summer. 

"This has caused a change so I'm very interested that we take advantage of that opportunity to put Never Let Me Go at the heart of the curriculum, and The History Boys too," he said. "At GCSE there are rarely prescribed texts, there are usually half a dozen that schools choose. I'm keen that schools choose ours and one of the factors is what resources there are to support that, and we are in a really good position to support that. Never Let Me Go seems like such a fresh voice on the scene, it's just so good to have that opportunity to support it."

He added: "Faber books have been studied in schools for many years. Now we are building on our position as a publisher of core texts with first-class resources for teachers and students. We worked with two outstanding educators as well as Kazuo Ishiguro, Alan Bennett and Michael Frayn themselves to produce the first three Faber Educational Editions. These editions mark the start of a long-term initiative to position Faber's novels, plays and poetry at the heart of literature teaching in schools, and to be part of a wider conversation with teachers and students."

No dates are set for further titles in the series and beyond, but, Volans suggested more resources would be offered in relation to its poetry lists in due course. "We've not yet touched on poetry; when you think about our presence in poetry, that gives a suggestion for how much there is yet to cover," he said.

The market last year for study guides, kids dictionaries and reference, kids maps and atlases, all combined, was £62.4m, up 5.2%, better then the general market, according to Nielsen BookScan. Faber's sales were up 5.2% in value to £18.8m in revenue.