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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.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

This may be more than you might ever want to know about agile publishing:

1) Here are links to the slides from the Tools of Change (TOC) panel last week on Real World Agile Publishing with Brett Sandusky (@bsandusky), Joe Wikert (@jwikert) (http://slidesha.re/wxfriM) and myself (@draccah) (http://slidesha.re/zsqYxO).

2) This is a write-up from Porter Anderson (@Porter_Anderson) for all of Tools of Change. Our agile session is towards the bottom. The whole thing is worth reading: http://janefriedman.com/2012/02/16/writing-on-the-ether-25/

3) I really liked this end quote from Brett: http://pic.twitter.com/7Q2o9Lu4

(Here's what it says if you didn't check out the link: 'The consumer does not behave as they say, they do not say what they think and they do not think what they feel.').

It was a point Eric Ries (The Lean Startup) made well and you may want to check out this video of his TOC keynote: http://bit.ly/x4g8PN

4) And Lynn Neary also mentioned agile publishing in an NPR story this morning entitled "At Last, They See: E-Books 'Democratize' Publishing" which is about Tools of Change (http://n.pr/AD04Go).

5) You may also want to check out the Hippo In Ballet Shoes, Or Greyhound On The Track? Applying Agile Methodologies To Traditional Publishing presentation by Kristen McLean (Bookigee) which covers both thinking and terminology. http://bit.ly/wadjm6


Monday, February 06, 2012

At Digital Book World we announced our Agile Publishing Model (APM)  and partnership with futurist David Houle—and it looks like we’re on to so something exciting here.

From all of the comments and tweets following the announcement, the first big question has become clear: What exactly is the Agile Publishing Model and how does it work?

We’ve posted our thinking on our Agile Publishing Blog. We'd love to hear any feedback you might have as we launch this new and exciting initiative.

Thanks in advance for any discussion.


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.


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