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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 15, 2013

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

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.

CONTACTS:

Sourcebooks – Heather Moore, Senior Publicity Manager
630.536.0553 
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Sesame Workshop – Jodi Lefkowitz, Manager, Corporate Communications
212.875.6497
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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.

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

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