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Sourcebooks NEXT.

Sourcebooks Next Blog

We’re at a historic point in the transformation the book.

Ebooks, reading devices, retailers and e-tailers, software and apps, and all the cool things we haven’t even imagined yet are changing the face of reading, entertainment and learning. Sourcebooks Next is our blog looking not from the perspective of pundit or prognosticator, but from the perspective of a publisher deeply engaged in the workings of the transformation. Please feel free to join us.

Friday, May 03, 2013

Last Friday Library Journal announced an experiment between Overdrive and Sourcebooks called The Big Library Read.

The Big Library Read—The Pilot

Sourcebooks and OverDrive are partnering on a pilot program that will allow library patrons worldwide the opportunity to read New York Times bestselling author Michael Malone’s acclaimed novel “The Four Corners of the Sky” in ebook format. The Big Library Read is a no cost program in which libraries worldwide promote from their lending catalog a single ebook to their patrons. In addition to creating a global “library book club,” it’s designed to generate data about the positive exposure and sales influence library ebook catalogs provide to authors and publishers.

The Data

How do readers discover authors and books? This seemingly simple question has always been central for book publishers, perhaps more now than ever. Any publisher will tell you that libraries have always been critical agents of discovery. Both Sourcebooks and Overdrive understand this.

Today there is a deep and fruitful conversation occurring between libraries and publishers, and on the business side of the discussion most of it centers around ebook lending and financial models. This pilot is of value because it moves the conversation toward what we might accomplish together if we partnered at a deeper level. It’s using data to push the business discussion into a reading discussion, and to my mind there’s very little that’s more valuable than that to our culture.

It has always been a “given” that library support helped drive author success, both short- and long-term. Seeing if we can provide data around that assumption is a fascinating challenge. With respect to this pilot, we hope to discover several things:

  • Can a large-scale coordinated promotion across many library systems drive strong and sustainable check-out rates for the selected ebook from the library?
  • Does interest in the featured ebook drive check-outs of the author’s other titles?
  • Is there any measurable impact on the ebook, print book, or the author’s sales in the retail segment?
  • Will a promotion like this drive buzz and word of mouth? How about book clubs and reading groups?
  • If there is an effect (in any of the above), how long does it last? Is the author left in a different place (or not)?

Library Journal has agreed to assist with data review and analysis following the pilot.

Our primary goal is to learn, and (as always) we are eager to develop new ways of reaching readers on behalf of our authors.

Bookstores and libraries

I’ve always believed there’s an interaction between libraries and bookstores; that people find books they love and want to own in libraries and then go to bookstores to buy those books. As the U.S. publisher of every book by Georgette Heyer, we’ve certainly seen that link. This OverDrive pilot with Michael Malone runs for 2 weeks and then the book disappears from devices. Will people want to keep reading? What form will they want to read the book in? Will people want to read other Michael Malone books?  Answering these and so many other questions makes for a compelling test.

No experiment is perfect

This is a pilot. Working with OverDrive and participating libraries, we will track and share data related to exposure, discovery, and retail sales activity that can be originated from library ebook lending catalogs Together we will endeavor to generate real data, ask and answer tough questions, and most importantly learn from it all.

Specifics of the program

  • The Four Corners of the Sky will be prominently displayed at your OverDrive-powered library website (if they opt into the program), and discoverable through your library’s catalog.
  • The program runs from May 15-June 1, 2013
  • For the pilot, the ebook will be simultaneously available for any and all readers with a library card to browse, sample, and borrow.
  • At the end of the pilot period, the title will be removed from the collection (unless previously purchased by the library), but will be available in OverDrive’s Content Reserve Marketplace to purchase for the standing collection ($9.95 USD worldwide).
  • OverDrive will share data from the pilot with Sourcebooks and participating libraries including the exposure, sampling, checkouts, and social media interaction.
  • Sourcebooks will share data with OverDrive and participating libraries including retail sales and social media interaction.
  • More information can be found at www.BigLibraryRead.com.

Why Michael Malone?

Well, first of all, Michael is an author who we all felt clearly deserved this kind of worldwide attention. He’s is an award-winning writer who’s written novels, plays, short stories, and even soap operas. As his publisher and his friend, both he and his compelling work are near and dear to my heart.

Secondly, The Four Corners of the Sky is a novel of love, secrets, and the mysterious bonds of families. Malone brings characters to life as only he can, exploring the questions that defy easy answers: Is love a choice or a calling? Why do the ties of family bind so tightly? And is forgiveness a gift to others...or a gift we give ourselves? The book was a 4-star People Magazine Pick and is beloved by Michael’s many fans. You can listen to this interview he did with NPR about The Four Corners of the Sky to learn more.

When I told him about the OverDrive program, Michael totally got it, quickly telling me that libraries are “history’s home and freedom’s harbor” (yes, he really does speak like that…he’s just remarkable). To get a sense of his commitment, you might want to read this letter he wrote for Big Library Read that will be inside the ebook.

And finally, this experiment is worldwide (there are over 25 countries involved) and Michael is an author for whom we have worldwide English language rights. As our digital culture continues to erode country and territory lines decades (even centuries) in the making, we will begin to generate data on what impact we can have worldwide.

For Discussion

What questions would you like to see us address? What hypotheses do you have? It’s all a compelling discussion, and we look forward to sharing and continuing it with you all. Feel free to post your thoughts below.

With warmest wishes,



Wednesday, April 17, 2013


CHICAGO – April 17, 2013—The Berenstain Bears®, celebrating 50 years of fun and learning for children, and Sourcebooks, a leading independent publisher and developer, are pleased to announce the forthcoming addition of Berenstain Bears books to Put Me In The Story, the innovative, personalized children’s books iPad app and website. The beloved classic Home Sweet Tree will be the first Berenstain Bears book to launch on the personalized platform, followed by The Berenstain Bears’ Pet Show and The Berenstain Bears and the Talent Show.
“We are delighted the Berenstain Bears will be part of the exciting interactive experience of Put Me in the Story,” says Mike Berenstain. “We hope kids and families everywhere will be able to enjoy our books in a fun new way by becoming part of the story themselves.”

Sterling Lord, who brokered the deal with Sourcebooks, says “Put Me In The Story is the most exciting advancement in Berenstain history since I, as the agent, put them in book publishing in 1962.”
Put Me In The Story, featured in both the New York Times and Christian Science Monitor, takes nationally bestselling children’s books by celebrated and award-winning authors, and integrates personalization—creating personalized books that make your child the star of treasured children’s stories. In The Berenstain Bears’ Home Sweet Tree, Brother Bear and Sister Bear will take children on a personalized tour of the family’s tree house, where they will explore the home’s many rooms.

Custom print orders of The Berenstain Bears’ Home Sweet Tree will be available in June at www.PutMeInTheStory.com, and are priced at $32.99. The Berenstain Bears’ Home Sweet Tree will be available on the Put Me In The Story iPad app in September as an in-app purchase, and will be released simultaneously with a print edition for retailers.

“We are thrilled to provide children with treasured Berenstain Bears stories, available for the first time in personalized form,” says Dominique Raccah, CEO and publisher of Sourcebooks. “These books engage children’s imaginations and encourage a love of reading. Now parents will be able to create a personalized book that integrates their child’s name throughout these classic stories. With the addition of Berenstain Bears, Put Me In the Story is creating an even greater bond through and with books, and changing how kids grow with books.”

Sourcebooks recently announced the addition of Sesame Workshop’s Elmo Loves You! to the app and website, along with My Name Is Not Isabella and My Name Is Not Alexander, the New York Times bestselling picture books by Jennifer Fosberry.

Sourcebooks – Heather Moore, Senior Publicity Manager, 630.536.0553, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

# # #

Tuesday, January 15, 2013



CHICAGO – January 15, 2013—Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit educational organization behind Sesame Street, and Sourcebooks, a leading independent publisher and developer, announce the forthcoming addition of two Sesame Street books to Put Me In The Story, the innovative, personalized children’s book iPad app and website launched by Sourcebooks in November. The beloved classic Elmo Loves You will be the first Sesame Street book to launch on the platform.

Put Me In The Story, as seen in the New York Times and Christian Science Monitor, takes nationally bestselling children’s picture books by celebrated and award-winning authors, and integrates personalization—creating personalized books that make your child the star of treasured children’s stories. Elmo Loves You is one of Sesame Workshop’s bestselling children’s books, and is being made available for the first time in personalized form.

“We are always looking for meaningful ways to enhance parent-child engagement in the digital arena, so we are especially excited to partner with Sourcebooks to create our first personalized storybooks on an app platform. Put Me In The Story increases a child’s engagement and enjoyment by bringing children directly into the story, where they are part of the narrative alongside their favorite Sesame Street characters,” said Jennifer A. Perry, Vice President, Worldwide Publishing, Sesame Workshop.

“We built Put Me In The Story to create greater bonding through and with books, and to change how kids grow with books. Sesame Workshop’s mission of using the educational power of media to help children everywhere reach their highest potential is completely aligned with what we’re aiming to accomplish with Put Me In The Story,” says Dominique Raccah, CEO and publisher of Sourcebooks. “We are overjoyed to announce Sesame Workshop as our first publishing partner.”

The Put Me In The Story app on the iPad is available on the App Store for free. Elmo Loves You will be available in February as an in-app purchase for $4.99. Custom print book orders will be available at www.putmeinthestory.com, and are priced at $32.99. Recently added to the app and website are My Name Is Not Isabella and My Name Is Not Alexander, the New York Times bestselling picture books by Jennifer Fosberry.

About Sesame Workshop

Sesame Workshop is the nonprofit educational organization that revolutionized children’s television programming with the landmark Sesame Street. The Workshop produces local Sesame Street programs, seen in over 150 countries, and other acclaimed shows including The Electric Company, to help bridge the literacy gap. Beyond television, the Workshop produces content for multiple media platforms on a wide range of issues including literacy, health and military deployment. Initiatives meet specific needs to help young children and families develop critical skills, acquire healthy habits and build emotional strength to prepare them for lifelong learning. Learn more at www.sesameworkshop.org.

About Sourcebooks

Sourcebooks is creating the next evolution of a book publishing company. We are committed to innovative publishing, to exploring every platform and creating breakthrough models. We truly believe that books have the power to touch people and change lives. Sourcebooks is home to more than 90 enthusiastic book-loving employees who are dedicated to finding new ways to connect with authors, readers, and ideas. We publish over 300 new titles each year, and are honored to have 30 New York Times bestsellers. Sourcebooks is proud to be one of the largest woman-owned book publishers in the country. Visit www.sourcebooks.com for more information, and check out the Sourcebooks blog.


Sourcebooks – Heather Moore, Senior Publicity Manager
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Sesame Workshop – Jodi Lefkowitz, Manager, Corporate Communications
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Monday, October 01, 2012

“User interface.” It’s not usually where you start talking about Shakespeare.

But it’s where this story starts.

This is how we typically teach Shakespeare, whether in high school or in college.

The current experience reading Shakespeare

The current experience of learning and reading Shakespeare

If you ask students about this experience, they use words like “difficult“ and “boring.” And if you watch them actually trying to learn that way, you recognize the problem. The way the book is set up actually interrupts their “flow”—it gets in the way of their immersion.

Just think about what happens as soon as you don’t understand a word you read and you’ll see what I mean. Every time you look up a word, you’re interrupting the "reading the play/immersion" part of the process and are starting a different process. “Now what line was that?” you’ll think, “And where am I? What did that mean again?”

Educators will tell you this experience is a major hurdle. One high school English teacher said to us that “it takes about 3 weeks to get kids into Shakespeare.” By the way, stage performers say the same thing — it takes time for audiences to get comfortable with the language and at some point (usually 15-20 minutes into the show) the audience “clicks over.”

So with all these inherent challenges, we asked can we use technology to make reading Shakespeare easier?

We’ve been working with students, teachers and readers on this very question and today we’re launching Shakesperience: A hands-on experience with Shakespeare—an experience that was built to help you more quickly get into and stay in the play, because it was built from the user’s point of view.

Shakesperience: A hands-on experience with Shakespeare

A quick word about the process of answering that question. We’ve been building these interactive editions for a while, and the process has been incredibly iterative. We put the books into people’s hands, watched what they did (and didn’t do). We asked questions, rebuilt and tweaked some more, and then we tried it all over again.

What we can tell you from working with all these users is that the Shakesperience supports all different kinds of learning:

  • Visual—Images from great performances set the stage
  • Auditory—Embedded audio from multiple actors show you the powerful spectrum of interpretation
  • Kinesthetic—You’re literally interacting with the content

Fundamentally we’re working on the problem of immersion. How do we get you to connect with the text more, and more easily? That’s a question that’s really at the heart of learning. And that focus on attention, flow, and engagement drove the interface and most of the decisions we made about what content to use and how to organize that content.

This is obviously only the beginning for us, but it’s a thrilling start. Just watching people use The Shakesperience has been a real joy. We hope it can transform and energize how students learn, and think it can change the way you read Shakespeare.

I’d love to hear what you think.



To learn more about Shakesperience visit: www.sourcebooks.com/shakespeare

Shakesperience is now available in the iBookstore: http://itunes.com/shakesperience

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