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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, October 07, 2014

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September 30th was Sourcebooks' 27th birthday.

As our team of more than 115 book-loving colleagues gathered to celebrate, I talked a little bit about that first day 27 years ago. The truth is that the day I started Sourcebooks was one of the loneliest days of my life. I walked into an empty bedroom with a desk, a phone, and a Mac. Like a lot of entrepreneurs, I thought it would be easy. It wasn’t.

1987 was the birth of the desktop publishing revolution, tens of thousands of other publishers started that year. Today, Sourcebooks is one of just a few publishers from that frenzy of startups that still exists. We started as part of one revolution, and it’s inspiring that today we are part of another.

In some ways, the book publishing industry is really beginning anew today, while building on the incredible work that’s come before. There are so many ways to explore and rethink how we work together and connect authors to readers. I believe that today there is far more opportunity for Sourcebooks than there was all those years ago. It is very much Day One.

So on this occasion I’d like to take time to give thanks. There’s so much more we want to do, and it would not be possible without all of you.

  • To our amazing authors for all their life-changing books. You inspire me every day and we’re proud to be beside you bringing your work to so many readers.
  • To all our business partners: booksellers, librarians, agents, media, retailers, wholesalers, distributors, and so many more...it’s great to have you as co-revolutionaries on this journey!
  • To the friends who offer us advice, counsel, and feedback, whether it’s positive or negative. We can’t build the future without you.
  • To the people of Sourcebooks, who creatively and joyfully do the hard work on behalf of our authors and business partners.
  • To readers everywhere. It’s our mission for there to be many more of you!

We had a surprise birthday party that filled up a BIG room. What a difference 27 years makes! At the party, we had (yes, it's Sourcebooks) a poetry contest!! Sixteen poems, quite a few haikus (some taking creative liberties with the 5-7-5 rule), and one rap were written by and presented by members of the Sourcebooks family. The poems highlighted our past, our genres and authors, and our extraordinary growth, all while looking towards an incredible future.


(Brought to you by Phil Norton, Sharon Schmid, Tina Silva, Kelly Lawler, Kelsey Kulp, Agnes Godziszewski, Steve Geck, and Jean Johnson)


It started out, what a thrill
A small bedroom in Naperville
A mind, a computer, and a phone
Our publisher was so alone

Finance was all we had from the start
Now there's romance, YA, history, and art
So many new genres in which to immerse
Regional, entertainment, and ecommerce

From one to a hundred
The family has grown
More friends each year
Than we could ever have known

It has been a great twenty-seven years
Filled with joy, laughter, and even tears
But the company has just begun
So welcome, all, to Day One

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Here at Sourcebooks, the week has been filled with cheer for so many reasons. Everyone has had the opportunity to get together and spend time celebrating one of the most groundbreaking years in our history!Reading Santa is Coming to My House Put Me In The Story

One of our favorite projects this year is Put Me In The Story. Lots has been accomplished. Last week, we launched the universal version of our Put Me In The Story(R) app, which means our personalized stories can now be read and shared on iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad devices.

We're also trying something else new…now you have the ability to record your child’s name to be read aloud with the narration throughout the story. So not only does the text change in the book but when the audio reads back to you, your recording of the child's name will be embedded in the read along (in your voice) along with the rest of the story. This was the enhancement that users most wanted and is another of our experiments. If you try it we'd love to hear what you think.

With the Put Me In The Story app, our hope is that kids and parents will connect to books in new ways. The personalized experience enables you to make your child the star of bestselling children’s books by including her name and photo, and now your recording of their name. You can choose from children’s stories like Sesame Street favorite Elmo Loves You! or New York Times bestselling My Name Is Not Isabella. When you download the app, you’ll get Marianne Richmond’s adorable bedtime story, The Night Night Book, for free.

Put Me In The Story Santa Is Coming To My HouseAnd right now, just in time for the holidays, Santa is flying through Put Me In The Story and we've put our Santa is Coming to My House book on sale. (Feel free to check it out!)

We built the Put Me In The Story app to enhance the experience of sharing books with children. It's been an amazing learning experience throughout this year as we've built new features and worked with new partners. We know there's lots more to do, but our goal is to create a great experience that will help to create and support a lifelong love of reading.

It's been an incredible year! Thank you for your help and thoughtfulness. I look forward to more ways for us to share books with children together!   

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Ravina Thakkar has accomplished more than many of us will in her 14 years. The bravery, maturity, and pure delight we saw this past Sunday as she stood in front of a crowd of family and friends (some old and many new!) at Anderson’s Bookshop in Naperville to read her debut book, The Adventure of a Lifetime, was incredible. 

More than two and a half years ago, we were approached with Ravina’s dream by her Make-A-Wish “wish grantors.” Ravina, then 11, wanted the story she was working on to be published, and we accepted sight unseen. Our already high enthusiasm quickly doubled when we saw this was no mere rough short story, but a full-fledged 20,000+ word manuscript for a young middle-grade book. After rounds of edits, revisions, and all the work it takes to get a book ready to publish – all fit into the schedule of a busy young girl – The Adventure of a Lifetime released to bookstores and libraries nationwide last week, in both print and ebook formats. 

All of us at Sourcebooks are so thankful that we were able to work with and be inspired by such an ambitious young woman. Ravina has not let Cystic Fibrosis take over her life—she can, and will keep pushing for and pursuing her dreams. 

We hope you will check out The Adventure of a Lifetime; a reminder that reading and books really do change lives. Every year on December 3 (which was proclaimed Ravina Thakkar Day in Plainfield, IL, by Mayor Michael Collins), we will remember that with passion and hard work, dreams really can, and do, come true. 

Link to NCTV17 Story:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=afZ-t0cpDJw&sns=tw

Link to Ravina’s story on the Make-A-Wish ® Illinois homepage: http://illinois.wish.org/wishes/wish-stories/to-be/ravina_published_author

Link the Herald News’ article: http://heraldnews.suntimes.com/lifestyles/24211507-423/teen-author-helps-grant-her-own-wish.html

Link to the Daily Herald article: http://heraldnews.suntimes.com/lifestyles/24211507-423/teen-author-helps-grant-her-own-wish.html

A big THANK YOU to our team for embracing this unique and rewarding project, our business partners and friends who contributed their talents, the amazing group at Anderson’s for hosting her launch event, and the team at Make-A-Wish for making a difference each and every day. And we especially thank Ravina and her family for making us a little part of their warm and inspiring lives.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

I recently had the great honor of accepting the 2013 Luminary Award from the Committee of 200, a membership organization of the world's most successful women entrepreneurs and corporate innovators dedicated to fostering, celebrating and advancing women's leadership in business. (This really is the most amazing group of people you may not have heard of). The Muriel Siebert Entrepreneurial Champion award goes to a female entrepreneur who has created an innovative new product or service with global implications.

When they asked me to give an acceptance speech, I thought I'd talk about the importance of books and the transformation that has so changed our industry and Sourcebooks. A lot of the people in the room asked me to share the talk, so here it is. Thank you to all of you who have been a part of this journey so far! It's been amazing!!


Committee of 200 2013 Muriel Siebert Entrepreneurial Champion

Acceptance Speech October 25th 2013

The women in this room are brilliant and extraordinary. I’m certainly more than a bit overwhelmed to have been presented with an award from all of you.

So first let me just say Thank YOU! Thank you for this award but particularly thank you for being. Thank you for being strong, thank you for being outspoken and committed, thank you for being role models to me and to the thousands of other women (and not a few men) whom you impact every day.

In short, thank you for being yourselves – writ larger than life!!

I believe in books.  And my story is very much one of following your passion (through all the surprising turns that takes). Today, I’m part of a revolution in reading and therefore in books. We call it the digital revolution.

I started Sourcebooks at the beginning of another revolution 26 years ago…that was the desktop publishing revolution. A Mac, a Laser Printer and off I went.

Starting out

And it was a real challenge… My first idea was pretty limited. And it probably didn’t help that the first banker I met didn’t see women as real entrepreneurs, a problem I know other women entrepreneurs in this room have experienced.

There was my first real success (round about year 3), a book that sold 25,000 copies, directly followed by the distributor who refused to pay me and said succinctly “I don’t have to pay you. You’re little. Sue me.” Probably the most notable memory from that period was hanging up the phone after that call and slipping to the floor sobbing in the living room. I still remember it. It’s that visceral. And the only thought in my head was, “How do I tell Ray (my husband) I’ve lost the house.” And do you know what he said? ”We’ve just paid for your graduate school. You’re pretty good at this. Let’s do it again. Now you know how to do it.” And so I did.

It was hard…resilient making. It’s what I see when I look at my council or any of you in this room—tough, resilient, women who have kept going in the face of challenges and some pretty long odds.

Breakthroughs and taking risks

Now fast-forward 20 years, and all those challenges (yes both the failures and the successes) turned out to be pretty good training for another revolution. This time it was the digital revolution of the book and being an entrepreneur who knew some things about walking into uncertainty turned out to be real training for what has become my greatest passion. I call it the promise of digital and books.

The promise of digital and books

As I said, I believe in books. Reading a book is one of the few times that we allow another voice deeply into our being. For days, weeks, sometimes even months, we walk in another’s shoes, see life through a different pair of eyes and maybe even sometimes (surprisingly) learn something new or change our minds about something. Books are a powerful and in some ways unique force for creating a different, greater YOU. Books are one of the few places that girls, like the girls we were, can discover what more life can offer.

And what I saw in digital was the promise of bringing books and reading to more people than ever before. When I got into book publishing, people in the industry told me, about 5% of Americans go into a bookstore in an average year. For me, that was staggering. “What about the other 95%?” I thought. Yes, some go to libraries, but how do we touch everybody? How do we create a nation of readers?

The promise of digital is to have any book, the book that you most need available to you, RIGHT now on whatever device you happen to be carrying, from your smallest phone to your big screen tv. It’s any time, anywhere, any device.

What more can digital books be

And today, digital is transforming the landscape for books.  eBooks have grown the number of books that are being published and consumed. Far from being dead, with digital books, people are buying and reading more books than ever before. And by the way, they’re buying both print and digital books…

And the question we’re now asking is: What MORE can digital create for books?

And here is what’s exciting: We’re working to create books that are:

  • More interactive
  • Smarter Today’s textbook need no longer be static – which have feedback and analytics built inside the book. Where the student reads the book and to some extent the book reads the student.
  • More social
  • More personal Today, we’re introducing new ways of actually connecting you and the book more intimately…putting YOU into a story. Like in Put Me In The Story: This is something new… an innovative new personalized children’s book platform that creates personalized books with the child’s name throughout each bestselling story. Can we help create a lifelong love of reading?


You know, we lose children at different times when it comes to reading. Can we create a greater bond between kids and reading? What happens when we really make books become "Mine"? If children can't read, they can't learn. We have to help create that bond younger and more deeply. We now know the importance of children knowing how to read well by 3rd grade; it's mission critical for us all.

What youll see next are books like youve never seen them before.

Our first experiences of books come from children’s books and textbooks, but our children will have new and different experiences with books. For them books will be interactive – content itself will be touchable, social, experiential, smart and deeply personal.

Books will become not more mechanical, cold, impersonal but just the opposite. Books will talk to you and help you. Books will be connected and connecting, becoming something quite new that we’re just beginning to understand.

What digital gave me was the gift to rethink my businessto rethink the limits that I had unknowingly imposed on Sourcebooks just by being part of an industry…to rethink all that we could do. My favorite fictional character likes to say: “Tests are a gift. And great tests are a great gift.” Digital was a tremendous test for our organization. We got to rethink every part of our world, how we worked with our content partners, our authors, our brands and licenses and to extend what we could create that was of value to them.

And how we worked with our retail partners, from the products we gave them to how we marketed with them and what we could create together. Digital changed everything.

And the impact of seeing yourself in a bigger way changes everything. Last night our French author Jennifer Yerkes accepted the Gold Medal for A Funny Little Bird at the most prestigious juried show in the world of illustrated children's books; 6 years ago we weren’t even in children’s books. When we push beyond who we know ourselves to be, it changes every aspect of what we do. 

I want to thank my tribe

And so we come full circle. I want to thank my tribe…All the people who believed not just in me but in Sourcebooks – the authors, agents, my family, my friends, all of you (who have so inspired me for years!).

Just a quick note here about the partnership we’ve built with authors. The creative people that we work with are, in the end, the reason we do this work. And our authors continue to amaze me. Their smarts and commitment, their drive, ambition and willingness to think beyond boundaries has inspired me to take risks and to drive beyond the boundaries I thought were there.

In some ways, the people who have helped me the most were our customers. From Barnes and Noble, to our local bookstore Anderson’s, to Apple, to our friends and partners at Readerlink…to many many bookstores, to Walmart, Indigo to library partners far and wide. And to the dozens (literally) of individual booksellers who helped me rethink Sourcebooks at every stage of our development.

There are authors, booksellers and colleagues all over the world who have repeatedly shown us the way.

They have viewed us as a force for innovation and allowed us to try new things (even when some of those new things didn’t work).

And of course our team – the people of Sourcebooks who are actually the recipients of this award. Their drive, their willingness to learn, their innovative attitude and hard work, that’s what makes everything possible.

It’s exciting to have a 26-year-old company that is a startup once again—new challenges, new things to learn, and a whole lot of fun.

Thank YOU!

Luminary Vase

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