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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.

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.

Dominique


*****

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

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

Thursday, April 12, 2012

—Heather Moore

The last few days have been tremendously exciting as Discover a New Love got off the ground, and Sourcebooks took the spotlight in what was big news throughout the publishing industry, the tech world, and romance reader community.  The response has been more than we imagined!

In Monday’s Wall Street Journal, Jeffrey Trachtenberg noted several ways in which he views the announcement of Discover a New Love as being a new direction within the publishing industry, including:

In a move that further thins the line between book publishing and book retailing, Sourcebooks Inc., a leading independent publisher, is launching an online bookstore this week focused on its romance titles…

In a decision sure to grab attention, Ms. Raccah said that titles from Sourcebooks will be sold without digital rights management, a striking departure from the protections used in traditional digital book publishing. Sourcebooks digital titles can be lent and moved from one device to another, including Amazon's Kindle and Barnes & Noble's Nook.”

News of the new initiative reached Bloomberg Television and they invited Sourcebooks CEO & Publisher, Dominique Raccah, to speak about the new project and the transforming publishing industry on Bloomberg West.

We also saw great coverage in the following outlets:

The Chicago Tribune
Chicago Sun-Times

Naperville Sun

PublishersLunch

DigitalBookWorld

paidContent

eBookNewser

The Digital Reader

Marketplace Tech Report

Dear Author

Smart Bitches Trashy Books

USA Today Happy Ever After blog

Indie BookSpot

And the comments on social media ranging from readers to industry folk were very encouraging (just a few examples):

“This is brilliant on a couple of levels…”
“the categorization… is pretty freaking awesome”
“… found some great deals. Thanks!”
“Exciting!”
“What a great idea...”

A BIG congrats to the Discover a New Love Team, we're off to a great start!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

by Dominique Raccah


About two years ago, I came to the conclusion that we needed to have a decidedly more direct relationship with our readers. I was especially intrigued by watching some of the smart ways publishers in other spaces (most notably O'Reilly and Baen) were engaging with their readers. It also came from watching how e-tailers like Amazon.com repeatedly used their customer information to build products, services and user engagement. Having a direct, ongoing relationship with our readers could not only make solid business sense, it could also help create enormous impact for our authors.

Discover a New Love is our first major project in this direction. Its focus is primarily on lovers of great romance novels, or novels with strong romantic elements. Among other things, we believe it will make us a stronger publisher—one better able to satisfy the desires of our readers. We believe we'll be better able to further the careers of our authors and to provide insights that may prove useful to our retail partners, as well as our authors, their agents and our international publishing partners. We think it will actually help us to create better books and market them in more interesting ways.

Specifically we’re hoping to accomplish 3 things:

  1. FEEDBACK: We need to be constantly learning to make better books, particularly in a world as noisy and crowded as that of romance novels. To do so, we actually need to ask more questions and gather more data. We need to learn more about what really can make a difference. It’s one of the essential ways that publishers can add value for authors.
  2. COMMUNITY: We think we can create new ways of connecting authors to readers. We’re going to start with regular parties online and several live events throughout the year. Your hostess is the incomparable Barbara Vey! We’re launching at the RT Booklovers Conference here in Chicago this week!
  3. TRENDS: Having a place to listen and learn: What do readers want more of?  What do they want next? What new directions is romance fiction going? As Joe Wikert pointed out “One of the most important reasons publishers should invest in a direct channel is because of all the data it provides.”

Fundamentally, we’re interested in one problem: how can we help a reader discover the next book or author they will love?

We know people who read Susanna Kearsley love her books, so how do we help more readers to discover her books? (And so on for other authors obviously.)

Like many new developments, we expect how we tackle this problem to evolve—starting immediately. Here are some of the ideas we’re starting with:

  • In response to reader demand, many of the eBooks will be available all over the world. It won’t be for all titles due to some contract restrictions, but we’re paying attention and looking for ways to connect the world-over.
  • The eBooks offered will be Digital Rights Management (DRM) free and portable to ALL eReader devices. We want readers to own the ebooks and for those ebooks to be portable across eReading devices and platforms. DRM is controversial because on the one hand it offers some protection from piracy (people disagree with how much). On the other hand, it’s hard on consumers—they can’t share, they can’t take advantage of all the devices they own. And there are many who don’t like it. The question is how best to balance these competing interests?
  • We invite other publishers to join us (though as the Wall Street Journal pointed out DRM may well be an issue for others). Possibly more to come on that topic.

Discover a New Love is not intended to replace our valued partnerships and promotions with other retailers. Many who know Sourcebooks know we’re aggressive in testing promotions that find both greater readership and value for our authors, so we do and will continue to do frontlist and themed ebook promotions with our retail partners. Discover a New Love is envisioned as another avenue to help readers. If you’re a romance reader, it’s one more platform for discovery (with loads of neat pluses). The data we’ve seen shows that romance readers are heavy users and that they buy from many different outlets. We see this is an expansion and addition to the current space.

Discover a New Love is a new model built directly in response to what we’ve heard from authors, agents and readers. Expect a lot of changes from us. This is just the beginning. And we look forward to learning together.

Thoughts, comments, suggestions are all welcome.

With warmest wishes,

Dominique

Monday, April 09, 2012

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Sourcebooks Launches Discover a New Love
Online Readers Club Focuses on Connecting Romance Authors & Readers

(Chicago, IL) April 10, 2011—Sourcebooks, one of romance fiction’s fastest growing publishers, announces the launch of www.DiscoveraNewLove.com, an online readers club that offers members exclusive, early access to some of the hottest new authors, deep discounts on new and bestselling romance ebooks, and a nonstop party for both readers and authors.  

At the heart of Discover a New Love are monthly ebook selections that offer members the opportunity to download an ebook from one of the major romance subgenres: contemporary, paranormal, and historical (plus a special “wild card” title thrown in for fun).  While many selections will feature sizzling new debuts and rising stars, members will be pleased to find nationally bestselling authors like Georgette Heyer, Grace Burrowes, Catherine Mann, and Carolyn Brown in the monthly mixes.   

“Readers have a hard time figuring out what they should try next.  It’s an issue of discovery—finding great new authors with amazing stories,” says Deb Werksman, Editorial Manager.  “Now, they can choose their favorite categories, and we’ll treat them to something new on a monthly basis, sometimes even before these new books are available to the public.”

Membership to Discover a New Love is offered for as little as $1.67 per book and provides access to the monthly selections, “members-only” deals, sneak peeks of forthcoming titles, and author chats. “For what you’d normally pay for one romance, you can now buy two or three,” says Leah Hultenschmidt, Sourcebooks Senior Editor. “It’s a fabulous way to read your favorite authors and get a chance to try new ones without putting a big dent in the book budget.”  

In addition to great ebook deals, each month readers can join Barbara Vey, romance fiction expert and blogger of Beyond Her Book, as well as featured authors, for online parties to celebrate their books and discuss all things romance!

“I’m thrilled to be involved in a venture that brings readers and authors together, because what’s more fun than talking about romance with like-minded people?” says Vey, who will be regularly blogging and hosting parties for Discover a New Love. “The only thing better than reading good romance is talking about it with other readers who love it just as much as you do.”

A couple of other notes about Discover a New Love:

  • In response to reader demand, many of the featured ebooks will be available on a worldwide basis.
  • The ebooks offered will be DRM free. Sourcebooks wants readers to own the books and for those ebooks to be portable across ereading devices and platforms.
  • Discover a New Love is starting with Sourcebooks titles, and is looking to work with other publishers to make their authors available on this new model.

“Discover a New Love is a new model built directly in response to what we’ve heard from authors, agents, and readers,” says Dominique Raccah, CEO and publisher of Sourcebooks. “Expect a lot of experimentation from us.”

DiscoverANewLove.com officially launches at 9:00 a.m. CST officially Tuesday, April 10, in time for the RT Book Lovers Convention in Chicago. The featured titles for the month of April are: One Hot Cowboy Wedding by New York Times bestselling novelist Carolyn Brown, Lady Maggie’s Secret Scandal by New York Times bestselling novelist Grace Burrowes (released one month early to members), Tempted by Elisabeth Naughton, and Mariana by New York Times bestselling novelist Susanna Kearsley.

For more information about Sourcebooks, its authors, and new initiatives, visit www.sourcebooks.com.

###

ABOUT SOURCEBOOKS:
Sourcebooks is a forward-thinking, independent publishing house with a passion for books and a dedication to the belief that books change lives. We are committed to innovative publishing, where every book is personal and every author’s voice has a place. We are a group of passionate, energetic, and enthusiastic book lovers, and we are committed to helping readers experience each book. Sourcebooks has more than 70 employees, publishes more than 300 new titles each year, and celebrates its success with 18 New York Times bestsellers, including Carolyn Brown, Grace Burrowes, Georgette Heyer, Susanna Kearsley, Jill Mansell, and Terry Spear. Please check out the Sourcebooks blog and follow us on Twitter.

Media Contact:
Danielle L. Jackson, Senior Publicist – Sourcebooks
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
(630) 536-0526
@SourcebooksCasa

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