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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.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

This morning, we announced that Sourcebooks has acquired Simple Truths.

Here are 11 interesting things about Simple Truths:

  1. Their philosophy is "less is more."  These are books that can be read in 30 minutes or so. As Mac Anderson, their founder, likes to say "Not everything, but the most important things."
    • In past years there have been a number of faster approaches to business and motivation titles as our world had gotten faster paced (see for example, GetAbstract and SoundView Executive Book Summaries). Mac’s approach strikes me as having the most heart and reach.
  2. Mac Anderson is a remarkable entrepreneur who founded McCord Travel (1979), Great Quotations, Successories (1988) and Simple Truths (2005).
  3. As with any book publisher, their authors are the key. And Simple Truths has numerous bestselling authors:
  4. And they have created numerous bestsellers:
  5. Companies like Disney, FedEx and Southwest Airlines have all used Simple Truths books.
  6. Movies are an integral part of their marketing. Over 100 million people have watched Simple Truth's inspirational movies. In fact over 30 million have watched The Dash.
  7. Theirs is primarily a direct to consumer model (their books are largely NOT found in stores). Their website gets 1.3 million unique visitors a month. They have 1.2 million customers (which is pretty amazing).
  8. They are #669 on the Internet Retailer Top 500 (part of the second 500 list), which is the list of the largest retail websites in the country. There are few book publishers on that list.
  9. The free Simple Truths app ties to both movies and books. 
  10. For Sourcebooks, we've always been interested in how Books Change Lives. It's fundamental to what we do and think about. I thought Dan Green's story about Simple Truths' book Finish Strong was a great example of how a small, easy to read book could influence a lot of people.
  11. And then there's the Simple Truths team (who know a lot about how to have fun): check out their Harlem Shake. We're all looking forward to a lot of fun moments together...

Ultimately what was most meaningful to us at Sourcebooks was that Simple Truths has (and will continue to) reach and touch a lot of people. That’s what books are meant to do. We’re excited to create what’s next together.

Coverage in the News:

Publisher’s Lunch (paywall)

Crain’s Chicago Business

Publishers Weekly

Publishing Perspectives

Media Bistro

The Bookseller

See our press announcement here.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Next Thursday (Thursday, May 30, 2:00 pm - 2:50 pm) I’ll be moderating a panel at Book Expo America entitled: The Future of Ebooks and Ereading.

I’ve invited some of the most knowledgeable people in the field to answer the questions that we really have about our transforming book ecosystem:

Michael Cader: entrepreneur and creator of Publishers Marketplace, Publishers Lunch (the industry’s “daily essential read,” now shared with more than 45,000 publishing people every day), Publishers Launch Conferences (with Michael Shatzkin) and the recently launched, Bookateria.

Jason Merkoski: author of Burning the Page: The eBook Revolution and the Future of Reading. Previously Jason was a development manager, product manager, and the first technology evangelist at Amazon, where he helped to invent technology used in today’s ebooks and was a member of the launch team for each of the first three Kindle devices.

Andrew Savikas: CEO at Safari Books Online. Previously, Andrew led the digital publishing and ebook program and strategy for O’Reilly Media as VP of Digital Initiatives, and was a Program Chair for the Tools of Change for Publishing conference.

Michael Tamblyn: Chief Content Officer at Kobo, responsible for sales, publisher and industry relations, content acquisition, and the merchandising experience across Kobo’s web and mobile services. Prior to joining Kobo, Michael was the founding CEO of the supply chain agency BookNet Canada, where he launched the national sales reporting service BNC SalesData.

It’s an exciting (and very knowledgeable) set of panelists gathering to talk about what comes NEXT for ebooks.

What are YOUR Questions?

The book world is changing rapidly: the rise of eBooks, the advent of self-publishing, consolidation in the publishing industry, and the technological turmoil associated with the digital revolution. We are very much in the middle of the digital transformation of the book. So what does the future hold for ebooks and ereaders? And what are the implications for authors, booksellers, publishers and readers?

What are YOUR questions about the future of ebooks and ereading? Feel free to add your questions to the comments below. Or you can tweet your questions using hashtag: #ebooksfuture.

Looking forward to a GREAT conversation!

With warmest wishes,


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

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