Call it corporal corporate punishment: Scholastic (NASDAQ:SCHL) -- a small-cap bigwig in the world of children's book publishing -- announced disappointing second-quarter earnings Friday morning and was promptly hauled to the stock market's equivalent of the principal's office.

After reporting an 8% decline in quarterly net income -- not to mention earnings per share of $1.59 compared with $1.80 this time last year -- Scholastic's stock shed 11.5% of its value. In one day.

Ouch, as the NFL's color commentary guys like to say. That's gotta hurt.

Fools of the cheapskate persuasion, on the other hand, may well find themselves asking if now is a good time for contrarian types to buy.

Survey says: Probably not.

True, thanks in large part to sales of the latest Harry Potter book, free cash flow at Scholastic rose to $286.2 million versus $70.7 million this time last year. What's more, in its announcement, Scholastic asserts that it has reduced its overhead by some 15%. No small feat, that.

That said, there's no escaping the fact that Scholastic's business model is tied to the mercurial tastes of the book-buying public, a public that -- in this company's case -- is substantially made up of a target demographic that was in diapers not so long ago. And where the kids are concerned, no forecast can be trusted. I mean, who could have predicted that Sony BMG (NYSE:SNE) diva Britney Spears andVivendiUniversal (NYSE:V) neo-punks blink-182 would achieve fame and fortune around the same time?

With that pop-culture conundrum in mind -- and even after Friday's fall -- I prefer bigger publishing industry players such as McGraw-Hill (NYSE:MHP), Pearson (NYSE:PSO), and Lee Enterprises (NYSE:LEE), companies whose revenue streams are, shall we say, a tad more mature (and robust) than Scholastic's.

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Shannon Zimmerman is the lead analyst for the Fool's Champion Funds newsletter service and doesn't own any of the companies mentioned above. The Fool has a strict disclosure policy.