F.A. Davis, an independent Nursing, Medicine, and Health Sciences publisher since 1879, is dedicated to providing print, mobile, and web resources for students and professionals. F.A. Davis is headquartered in Philadelphia, PA.
Essentially the F.A. Davis mission is to listen carefully to health science educators and their students, analyze the prevailing competition, identify capable authorship, and then publish the finest texts, references, and resources in a wide variety of formats. Our goal is to assert leadership in this market, satisfying the timely need for the most up-to-date, accurate, and informative resources from which students can master their coursework. Our commitment to student needs, in turn serves the role of the educator and the practice of the clinician as one facilitates the preparation of the other.
In a world marred by an excess of mergers and acquisitions, F.A. Davis Company remains as it started over 130 years ago...a family-managed, independent publisher in touch with the grass roots synergy of its customers. The underlying thrust of our mission is to keep it that way.
Robert H. Craven, Jr.
Philad View full release...
In 1892 the fledgling F.A. Davis Company was growing, and it was time to find more elbow room. Philadelphia’s Benjamin Franklin Parkway, connecting City Hall with Fairmount Park, was advancing through its proposal stages as “The Boulevard.” As neighboring real estate was becoming more desirable, a nearby 288-foot lot between Arch and Cherry Streets would soon become the site of F.A. Davis world headquarters. There was even room for their printing presses. Satellite offices in New York, Chicago, and Boston took note.
In 1892 the company outlook was so bright that elbows swung widely. F.A. Davis, the founder, was quoted: “The growth of the Company’s business leaves little doubt that more room will be required each year. The walls and foundation (of the new, two-story building) are being constructed to sustain a final structure of six stories.” Near the end of the company’s “First Annual Report,” F.A. piled more onto his high rise of optimism with a miscellaneous section he entitled “Encouraging Facts.” Here he explained how the size of the commissioned sales staff would be restored upon removal of “sickness, the cholera scare, election matters, and various other obstacles.”
The next two years would test his mettle but fail to smudge his rose-tinted spirit.
Begrudgingly F.A. Davis described 1894 “as the year of accident, hard times, and misfortune.” The focus of his Annual Report was current national events as he summarized an economy in crisis. Weather extremes had decimated the farming industry; strikes shut down coal mines and railroads as the country debated which metal would back its beleaguered currency. Had F.A. Davis’s eternal flame of optimism been extinguished? With $71,000 of private equity sitting unissued in the Davis Treasury, his duty to raise capital meant the (spin) doctor was in. With sales down 22% (and 51% over two years) he observed “a larger business has been done in proportion to ground covered”. Very smooth though not especially sympathetic to the sales representatives claimed by sickness as he wrote, “naturally, it was the best men who remained at work.”
His company’s cash cow was the Cyclopedia of Medicine subscription series, which became the “Annual.” “Thousands of physicians in this country are only waiting the dawning of better times to place the entire files of the Annual upon their shelves, and day by day fresh converts are being made to the belief that is, beyond all questions, the book for Hard Times (sic).” Perhaps he viewed a house fire as a chance to clean out the attic.
Today F.A. Davis Company has emerged as a preeminent college publisher in nursing and health science. In 1894, by contrast, Davis published medical books and subscription references for physicians and sold them door to door. Today’s world headquarters can be found on the same lot in a more recent two-story building. The satellite offices in New York, Chicago, and London were closed before they would ring in the 20th century, and the printing presses rolled on until a more familiar “Depression” took its toll.
With student enrollments rising, the first several years of the 21st century were prosperous for many publishers in our niche even while the rules of engagement were changing. Traditional book content underwent expensive conversion for the many formats of digital delivery. Expanding ancillary packages (most on the Web) and their expectations also called for more staff. Meanwhile internet access to free information has had a debilitating effect on the sensibilities of copyright protection and the willingness of buyers to pay for content, however superior. But the prosperity cycle, able to withstand much adversity for a while, was subject to its own conversion as many trusted financial institutions simultaneously collapsed in 2008. In 1894 conditions yielded to “accident, hard times, and misfortune.” In 2009, health care publishing lost its apparent immunity to a more contemporary version of “accident, hard times, and misfortune.” Nursing staff shortages, we have learned, do not guarantee employment for college graduates anymore.
The call for perseverance has once again today caught our collective ear. Our response feeds off the enduring response of our forebears when the threat of demise found the Cherry Street address very accessible. In 1894 the future of the company was teetering on F.A.’s ability to add investors—lots of investors—during the worst possible conditions. His spin of optimism had to turn as if the ball bearings were in position when they were not.
His solution was brilliantly resourceful. He found the best possible authors, signed them to ambitious projects, and then sold them a few shares of preferred on the side. He knew how to embellish a good handshake, and his authorship to a large degree became ownership. One author even landed on the Board of Directors, and many authors/shareholders deferred their royalties to ease the strain. But beyond his artful salesmanship, F.A. knew the power of having the best content. It meant generating a promising and lasting publishing future.
In 2010 the Davis ownership dynamic, although still run by the family, is much more stable and the company more attractive. Even in this lousy economy, there are legions of investors that want in. Most would overpay. Some would take a minority interest. All have been (politely) rejected. (If capital had been this easy to raise in 1894, F.A. would have enjoyed a magnificent view of the Boulevard from his 6th story office.) In retrospect, F.A. faithfully left the preservation of the Company’s everlasting independence in the hands of his succeeding family. Today we have thrived (when we can) in a different kind of elbow room. It is the rarest of forms in a surrounding most coveted. It is … publishing autonomy. Beholden to the same fundamental principles of our capital raising founder, the cultivation of superior content will win this day as it has for roughly 47,482 autonomous days before. Only good books/titles sell in hard times, and in 130 years we’ve had our fair share…of both.
F.A. Davis Distribution Center
404 N. 2nd Street, Philadelphia, PA 19123
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Winter Hours (November – March)
Monday – Friday 9:00a.m. – 5:00 p.m. EST
Summer Hours (April – October)
Monday – Thursday 8:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. EST
Friday – 8:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. EST
1915 Arch Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103
About F.A. Davis