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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, February 03, 2012

There are loads of things that are interesting about ebooks. One of them is that you can fairly easily change the price of an ebook. So how eBooks are priced and why has to be a major aspect of any publisher’s (or author’s) strategy.

Pricing (as lots of people have talked about and discovered) is also one way to get your book or author discovered. But there's also been a conversation going on that free doesn’t work any more and there are loads of opinions about why or why not.

This week Amy Denim noticed two of our titles available for free and posed this question:

I mean, Sourcebooks Casablanca is a pretty big publisher (I'd die to get published by them) they sell zillions of Romance novels every year. Why are they offering free books? (both of which I downloaded as soon as I could possibly make it to the one-click button)

So I pulled some data together about why we did it. (Thanks for the question, Amy!!). We ask ourselves this kind of question every week as we are evaluating eBook promotions. Here’s a bit about what we’re seeing.

We have offered 7 adult fiction titles (in romance and in general fiction) for free within the past 6 months. 

On average, full-price sales for the 4 weeks after the promotion

were 46 times greater than the 4 weeks before the promotion.

That’s a really BIG increase – both in sales and in exposure for what are (in most cases) backlist or deep backlist titles. There’s a lot of variability in the results. Some titles saw a relatively weak 7-12 time increase. One book saw a staggering 844 time sales increase. The average was a 46-fold sales increase. The kind of novel seems to make a big difference here and we (as always) need more data.

We obviously use this tactic sparingly and as part of pretty wide arsenal of marketing and publicity tactics. We're testing a lot of different ways to drive sales and discovery. And while we are interested in driving sales and marketing results, we are unwilling to do that at the cost of the value of our authors’ work. So again, there's both analysis and discussion around when different tactics work best.

Anyone else have any data they’d be willing to share? I’d love to understand this better. What are you seeing from other publishers or authors?  What is your opinion of using free or discounted backlist to drive discovery?  Would love to hear what people are seeing and think works.

Thanks in advance for any discussion.


Wednesday, February 01, 2012

5+ things we learned and are doing differently now

After an engaging, inspiring, and utterly packed Digital Book World Conference & Expo (DBW) last week, I started to pull together some of the more practical implications of the DBW and Publishers Launch Conferences for Sourcebooks:

1. Marketing: Integration & Better Data

The discussions on these subjects were outstanding and really identified several areas that we're moving forward on.

  • Marketing is getting a whole review with implications for multiple departments: publicity, marketing, editorial, and sales.
  • Metadata is getting yet another pass. We’re going to be integrating with SEO and taking on a backlist review project.
  • Data dashboarding is now a top priority. How quickly can we get information, make decisions, communicate, and change directions? This new thought process was probably the highlight of the show for me.

2. Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) & Metrics

Lots of important discussion and thinking around data and metrics. Sourcebooks has a management quarterly next week to review performance and plans. This will be focused on key performance indicators (KPIs) and metrics. Again, much to think about and push forward.

3. New Ventures

DBW was a great show for creating new opportunities. We met four new companies (with interesting business proposals or models) with whom we expect to be doing business in 2012. There’s some new thinking in unexpected areas.

4. Partners

It was wonderful to have meetings with many of our current partners and to discuss expanding our relationships. This is a rapidly changing space and everyone was abuzz with new work and new ideas in both the digital and physical book marketplace. Five of our partners have some big things brewing, and yes, we’re absolutely going to be participating.

5. Illustrated eBooks

Unbelievably, I saw two new opportunities at the illustrated book panel. Let’s see if I can convince anyone else in my organization to try these out.

This is obviously not all:

  • Lots of data points that I'’m still thinking about. I suspect there are some new ideas, experiments brewing.
  • There were other Sourcebooks folks at DBW – what they learned and how that may change, impact, redirect this preliminary list
  • Lots of big industry-wide conversations: DRM, libraries, rights and royalties, worldwide English language, the rapidly developing global marketplace and more

We thank you for the warm reception to our new Agile Publishing Model and our partnership with futurist David Houle.

And a special thank you to David Nussbaum, Mike Shatzkin, Michael Cader, Jess Johns, Matt Mullin and all of the DigitalBookWorld and Publishers Launch Conferences team for their hard work and commitment!

The thing that warmed my heart the most was the level of conversation and engagement between lots of different industry members. Some conversations were difficult. Sure. But most were productive and engaging.

I hope others will share their learnings, thinking and/or questions.


Thursday, January 26, 2012

Check out this interview with Sourcebooks CEO and Publisher Dominique Raccah. After participating in the CEO Panel at Digital Book World, Dominique explained to GoodEReader why she’s so excited about the publishing transformation and coming innovations in the juvenile book space, including ebooks and enhanced digital books.

To watch the video and read the full article, click here.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

A New Platform for Authors—Faster, More Flexible, and with Reader Feedback

Sourcebooks is excited to announce the creation of an Agile Publishing Model (APM) that will allow for the rapid and interactive development of books, ebooks, articles, videos, and other content by its authors, where the content evolves through a partnership between the author and their community. This framework allows for a more iterative publishing process—making content available faster, getting real-time customer feedback, and shaping the final product based on the collaboration between the author and customer.

“The traditional publishing model—long schedules, creating in a vacuum, lack of involvement with the readers of the end product—drives some authors crazy,” says Dominique Raccah, CEO and publisher of Sourcebooks. “This model is a great fit for experts who are highly immersed in their field and where the field is evolving rapidly.”

Entering the Shift Age, by futurist, advisor, and speaker David Houle, will be the first book published under this model in fall 2012. Sourcebooks will release several related ebooks and other materials from Houle as part of the APM over the upcoming months.

“The model came to our attention from work O’Reilly Media was doing, and what was really interesting to me was having a physical book come at the end of a community-building process,” says Raccah.

Houle is one of the featured keynote speakers at the Digital Book World Conference & Expo on January 25. Raccah will speak at the opening panel of the conference (“The CEO’s Perspective: Lessons Learned”; January 24), where she will discuss the Sourcebooks APM.

Attendees of the conference will receive an exclusive ebook, featuring an excerpt from Houle’s book The Shift Age and a compilation of his publishing-related columns, and will be invited to join the Entering the Shift Age blog that will serve not only as the community site for review and discussion of the book, but also as a platform for the development of the Sourcebooks APM.

“One of the reasons we are really excited to announce this new model at Digital Book World is that we will be able to test it with individuals who are interested in new, innovative ways to bring content to readers,” says Raccah. “We want this group to be the first to interact with David’s content, provide feedback, and think through various models within the project. What better way to launch than with a futurist.”

Working together, Houle and the blog community will shape and change the content as the book moves from its initial stages as an interactive, digital platform to a “traditionally published” product.

“I’m thrilled to be with Sourcebooks,” says Houle. “I have been searching for a publisher to partner with on inventive, inclusive, future-facing publishing models—Dominique and her team are doing just that, ahead of the curve in so many ways.”

The Sourcebooks APM will be used across a variety of subject matter and content with nonfiction, expert-based authors. Anyone interested in learning more about agile publishing, and joining the Entering the Shift Age community, can sign up at our Agile Publishing Blog. To learn more about Sourcebooks, its authors, or its manuscript submission process, visit www.sourcebooks.com.

# # #

About David Houle

As a futurist and strategist, Houle has always been slightly ahead of the curve. He is often called the “CEOs’ futurist,” having spoken to or advised 2,000+ CEOs and business owners in the past four years. Houle spent more than 20 years in media and entertainment. He has worked at NBC, CBS, and was part of the senior executive team that launched MTV, Nickelodeon, VH1, and CNN Headline News. He won two Emmys, a Peabody, and was nominated for an Academy Award. David’s most recent book, The New Health Age: the Future of Health Care in America, coauthored with Jonathan Fleece, sets forth what health care and medicine will look like in the years ahead. He is the futurist in residence and a faculty member at The Ringling College of Art & Design. David writes the highly regarded futurist blog www.evolutionshift.com, and can be found on Twitter @evolutionshift, as well as YouTube. A free Shift Age Newsletter is available at www.davidhoule.com/shiftstore/index.asp.

About The Shift Age

The Shift Age is about humanity’s new era. As the Information Age gives way to the Shift Age, we are entering a time of transformation and change that offers both great risk and incredible opportunity. David Houle identifies and explains the dynamics and forces that already have reshaped and will continue to reshape our world for the next 20 years. He comments from the front lines of the Shift Age on issues and topics that affect our lives. We have entered the final, global stage of humanity’s cultural, social, and economic evolutionary journey: The Shift Age.

About Dominique Raccah and Sourcebooks

Dominique Raccah (@draccah) is the CEO and Publisher of Sourcebooks, where she is in charge of creating the future—not just a future for the company but for authors, readers, and the book itself. The classic example of a successful entrepreneur, Dominique has driven innovation and expansion by kicking her way out of boxes and creating possibility where none existed. The result has been double digit annual revenue growth over the past 10 years, twenty-five New York Times bestsellers, #1 category leaders that range from baby names books to college guides, and a publishing company that many consider on the leading edge of the digital transformation. Most recently, Dominique has managed the launch of the new cutting-edge education division, Sourcebooks EDU.

Dominique currently serves as co-chair of the Board of Directors of the Book Industry Study Group. For Sourcebooks news and announcements, visit the NEXT blog and follow us on Twitter @Sourcebooks.

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