American Lawbook Corporation (a)

15 Pages Posted: 1 Jun 2017

See all articles by Phillip E. Pfeifer

Phillip E. Pfeifer

University of Virginia - Darden School of Business


This case concerns a lawbook publishing company's procedures for evaluating law school textbook proposals. Several evaluation approaches are possible. Historical cost data, assessments of unit sales, and data on market size and number of competing texts are available for evaluating three new titles. (The B case is QA-0260.)




Ed Troy glanced briefly out the window of his downtown office toward the busy street below and then returned his gaze to the three publication proposals on his desk (Exhibit 1). He had just finished filling in his assessment of the first year's sales potential for these titles (Exhibit 2). As director of Educational and Professional Publishing for the American Lawbook Publishing Company (AL), Troy was ultimately responsible for choosing which of these titles the company would offer for use in American law schools in the fall of 1982.

Law school professors were normally offered a complimentary examination copy of every book published for classroom use in their fields. When deciding whether or not to “adopt” any of these books, a professor might consider the reputation and background of the author; the breadth and organization of topics covered; the length of individual chapters and of the book itself; whether an innovative pedagogical approach was used; the availability of auxiliary teacher's notes; the style and readability of the prose; whether cases and examples were up-to-date; the aesthetics of the typeface, layout, and binding; the retail price that their students would have to pay (usually in the range of $ 25 to $ 35); and other similar considerations.

As a graduate of the Duke University Law School and a veteran of the law school publishing business, Troy had a strong intuitive understanding for the many factors that influenced the performance of a new book. Indeed, everyone at AL recognized that Troy was the person most qualified to synthesize the available information on a new title into a subjective forecast of first-year sales. Troy, however, was never entirely comfortable with the task. He maintained that AL needed a more systematic approach for evaluating and weighing the critical factors affecting sales, assessing the risks, and ranking different proposals. He was, therefore, concerned not just with the disposition of these three proposals, but with the more fundamental questions of what marketing information should be collected and how it should be analyzed to guide future publishing activities. Since law school publishing would always retain a substantial element of risk, he believed it was essential to know the odds against which one was playing.

Law and Law School Publishing

. . .

Keywords: marketing research, regression analysis, statistics

Suggested Citation

Pfeifer, Phillip E., American Lawbook Corporation (a). Darden Case No. UVA-QA-0257, Available at SSRN:

Phillip E. Pfeifer (Contact Author)

University of Virginia - Darden School of Business ( email )

P.O. Box 6550
Charlottesville, VA 22906-6550
United States
434-924-4803 (Phone)


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