Dominique Raccah: ‘The Surprise Transformation in Our Industry’

SourcebooksIn the opening session of today’s Launch Kids conference at Digital Book World 2016, Sourcebooks CEO and Publisher Dominique Raccah spoke to the innovations her company is making, as well as the greater trends in the children’s/young adult (YA) book publishing sector.

“The surprise transformation in our industry,” Raccah said, “is the persistence of traditional books.”

Ninety percent of teens, according to Raccah, read physical books, and 40 percent read exclusively physical books. Children and teens are “not abandoning traditional forms of entertainment.”

Physical books, Raccah said, are “actually a social statement, “a point of view,” “a way of expressing oneself.”

But there is a momentum in children’s and YA publishing that goes beyond just children and teens. Referring to the sector as “a freight train,” Raccah said there has been 25-percent growth between 2010 and 2015. Moreover, retail spaces are actually building out their children’s/YA areas and adding real estate.

At Sourcebooks, specifically, growth was up throughout the company 17 percent in 2015, and 23 percent so far in 2016. The breakdown in where Sourcebooks’s revenue came from in 2015, according to Raccah, was as follows: 34 precent children/YA, 30 percent adult, 17 percent adult non-fiction, 15 percent e-commerce, 4 percent other.

Part of Sourcebook’s transformation has been with its Put Me in the Story (PMITS) book personalization site, which Raccah said answers the question of how to create additional revenue through personalized books.

Since its launch, PMITS has become the number one personalized book site in the United States, and has added 36 percent new units to Sourcebooks’s sales. Put another way, for every 100 traditional books Sourcebooks sells, the publisher sells an additional 36 personalized ones.

“We have found a way to create a fairly extraordinary customer experience,” Raccah said.

Raccah believes there is “a world of opportunity” in children’s and YA publishing, and “invite[s] us all to work together.”

Sourcebooks has recently partnered with HarperCollins and is experimenting with non-book products.

“I believe that content really matters,” Raccah said. “Content and authors really matter to your readers.”


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One thought on “Dominique Raccah: ‘The Surprise Transformation in Our Industry’

  1. Michael W. Perry

    Quote: Children and teens are “not abandoning traditional forms of entertainment.”

    Not surprising. Those who made the mistake of thinking the young would lead the advance into a digital world are like historians who adopt a \whiggish\ POV, meaning one that history is the forward march of those called progressives against a hopeless (and aging) group called reactionaries.

    Preference for print over digital wasn’t treated as a mere matter of preference or of the advantages of one media over the other. It was treated as if \new\ equated with better. Journalist are particularly inclined to that folly. The young, assumed to be most easily dazzled by the new, were to lead the way into the future, while the old, assumed to be unable to change, would delay the forward march of progress. Nonsense!

    At present, the competition between the two is muddled by the fact that print is a centuries-old technology, which has been refined to near perfection for those who care to use it. On the other hand, ebooks remain stuck in a world little changed from the ereaders on Palm Pilots of two decades ago. Text looks dull and ugly. Formatting adapts poorly to different sized screens. Ereaders remain too stupid to even rid a text of widows and orphans much less to handle graphics intelligently. And those who set the standards seem obsessed with time and money-wasters such as multi-media, linking, or—as this article notes—silly gimmicks like personalizing a children’s story.

    Our first movable-type book, the Gutenberg Bible, looked marvelous. Most ebooks, some two decades into the so-called digital book age, look little better something pecked out on a manual typewriter circa 1955. Kids are so much rejecting something new as rejecting something ugly. It’s the older people who’re being wowed by something just because it is new.

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