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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.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird: it would be a jolly sight harder
for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg.
We are like eggs at present.
And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg.
We must be hatched or go bad.

—C.S. Lewis

Dear friends:
It is undeniable: we are at transformation. And I suspect that 2012 may well be the most important year in any of our professional lives and, quite possibly, in the history of the book.
With that in mind, I wanted to share some of our 2011 year-end results for Sourcebooks. While these data points are just for one publisher, we believe that they can help us better think about the year that we get to create in 2012. I hope that they help you as well. I’d love to hear other comments and ideas about year-end 2011, so feel free to discuss.
Warm regards,




2011 was the best year in our history! We weren’t sure what to think about this year, but strong growth in the ebook, gift, and mass markets drove our overall increase.

Sourcebooks 2011 Revenue Growth up 19%

Clearly 2011 was the year of the ebook. Our ebook sales were more than double the forecast (which we thought was aggressive). Our conversations with other publishers and the data we’ve seen suggest that we’re not alone.

2011 ebooks Revenue Growth up 795%

Though many questioned the long-term viability of the printed book (p-book) going into 2011, impressive performance from our bookselling partners limited p-book decline. The exciting news is that several publishers grew their POS sales, and Sourcebooks was among those to show growth. With the right strategic focus, we believe that print books can remain strong.

2011 Print Books POS Growth 

What will 2012 look like? If the week of Christmas is any indication, decline of print book sales looks modest and increase in ebook sales looks incredibly strong. With a continued increase in devices comes even more opportunity to reach new readers and users with our authors’ books.

2011 Christmas Week eBook Sales

Could a shift in ebook market share be in our future? While retailer market share for our ebooks has remained relatively consistent throughout 2011, Barnes & Noble’s Nook steadily gained share in the fourth quarter and posted amazing growth during December and the week of Christmas.

2011 B&N Nook Christmas Sales Up 437%

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Publishers Weekly recently asked nine publishing executives to comment on how their company is preparing for the transition of print to digital and the impact this transformation will have on their businesses. 

Below is Dominique’s statement on how digital has transformed Sourcebooks, and what we believe about the present and future of publishing.  You can read the full article here.

“Looking for the 50% Solution”

Publishers Weekly

December 30, 2011

Dominique Raccah, President and publisher, Sourcebooks

E-books already constitute over half of sales in two parts of Sourcebooks business. As a result, there has been tremendous impact on strategy and models, which will continue to evolve over the next  five years. And as the market changes, we have to continue building the infrastructure to accommodate digital, both from an architecture and an innovation point of view.

As devices and software change, integrate, and inevitably segregate again, we have to be ready to deliver great experiences for each device. At Sourcebooks, we’re always looking for increases in functionality—for example, look at what’s happening with children’s picture books, where last year’s e-ink obstacles are being replaced by joyous tablet opportunities. Imagining what might be next is an important part of the job.

Over the next five years, we believe that building vertical platforms will make an enormous difference to our company. For some of our authors, there’s a very real new set of opportunities that we are creating for them—new platforms, new models, new ways to reach readers. It is (I think) going to provide some significant revenue streams down the road.

We also expect to discover and formalize new ways to work with our bricks-and-mortar retail partners. You can already see the outline of that in the work we’ve been doing with Anderson’s Bookshops, the ABA, and our college authors. Expect publishers and retailers to create more of those kinds of opportunities together. It’s certainly one of the things we’re working on. And I think you can expect publishers to have much broader relationships—with retailers, digital partners, affinity communities, authors, agents, multimedia resources, and other content providers among them. You can expect us to be “publishing” far more than just printed books and e-books.

I’m incredibly excited about what the book and storytelling itself will look like in five years, and how broad readership might be by then. That’s probably the thing that excites me the most. We (the publishing industry) are at the center of a remarkable conversation. This is in some ways a glorious time for books—with more readers, more writers, and more outlets than ever before.

Monday, December 05, 2011

Sourcebooks Adds Financial Aid Resources to Rapidly Expanding Education Portfolio

Financial Fit Revolutionizes the College Search Process by Addressing Affordability First

(Naperville, IL)—Dec. 5, 2011 - Student debt has surpassed credit card debt for the first time in U.S. history, and the amount of outstanding student loans is expected to exceed $1 trillion in 2011. College seniors graduated with an average of $25,250 in student loans in 2010, up 5 percent from the previous year, according to The Project on Student Debt.

Every year, thousands of college-bound students and parents face the complexity and anxiety associated with filing for and receiving their college financial aid packages, as well as making decisions that will affect them financially for years to come. In fact, financial aid was cited as the most challenging aspect of the college process, according to a recent survey of guidance counselors.

In a process fraught with myths and misinformation, families often find out at the last minute that the colleges of their choice come with unexpectedly high financial burdens.

Monday, November 07, 2011

Barnes & Noble Chairman Len Riggio gave the keynote address Friday morning at PubWest 2011. I had the pleasure of introducing him and then found I spent much of the day thinking about what he said. So I just wanted to share some of what he said (and I apologize in advance to Mr. Riggio for any errors or misrepresentations here which are strictly my own):

On books, pricing and reading

  • “The affordability of books turned me into a voracious reader.”
  • “Does anyone still believe that book sales are inelastic?”

On possibilities and publishing

  • “The problem as I see it now is that too many see this as a zero sum game, a Darwinian embrace for market share.”
  • “It’s not just [about] the store or device— it’s about the possibilities of content.”
  • “I think the digital marketplace is exponentially bigger than others think.”
  • “Market size is readily expandable with imagination and vision.”
  • We are now at the tip of the iceberg of possibility.”

On culture and books

  • “These publishers taught me that books were the building blocks of a civilized society and it was our job was to make them widely available.”
  • “Is it possible to be literate without reading books?”

On entrepreneurs and publishing

  • “[This transformation] can’t be done by sitting in an armchair. You have to roll up sleeves and do it.”
  • “[You can see this] bubbling of entrepreneurialism. This is going to bring publishing back.” He later added: “You can see small publishers coming back. This is a return to what publishing used to be.”

On the value of bookstores and publishers

  • “How do you navigate a catalog of 20 million books?” And then later: “[This is one of the reasons] you will need publishers and booksellers.”
  • “The potential is limitless. The public cannot navigate [this much content] without you. Unedited unpublished content doesn’t work, and the proposition gets stronger as content explodes.”
  • “Can publishers exist without bookstores? What if you cut off the spigot that nourishes the whole marketplace?”

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