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Agreement Pairs Electronic, Print Reference Tools

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A publisher of hand-held, electronic reference materials has signed an agreement with the textbook division of a New York publishing house to distribute classroom sets of its dictionaries, thesauri,and spellers free of charge with the publisher's books.

The agreement between the Simon & Schuster Education Group and Franklin Electronic Publishers of Mount Holly, N.J., highlights what industry experts say is a nascent effort among publishers to accommodate educators' desires to use textbook funds to purchase a mixture of electronic and print materials.

The state of New Mexico, for example, recently adopted a host of new science materials that included texts as well as some of Franklin's products, optical disks, and a on-line computer service. (See Education Week, April 1, 1992.)

Arthur Sisk, the head of Franklin Learning Resources, said that beginning this month, Franklin will "bundle'' its machines with the appropriate Simon & Schuster textbooks across the curriculum.

Bundling, a common term in the software industry, refers to the practice of packaging free programs with certain models of computer.

Mr. Sisk said the machines would enhance existing classroom resource centers. For example, five or six hand-held spellers could supplement a classroom computer and other electronic media.

He said the machines are expected to offer an attractive complement to the printed texts.

At the same time, Franklin, which says that 9,000 schools nationwide already use its products, hopes to build an awareness of its product line in such large textbook-adoption states as Texas, California, and Florida.

Mr. Sisk said it was difficult to project how such a marketing strategy might boost sales because state adoption processes are protracted.

But, he added, "basically, it's an experiment which I can't see either side considering less than positive.''

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