Screen shot 2011 02 14 at 4 23 39 PMDominique Raccah, CEO Sourcebooks

What does transformation look like in a traditional book publishing company. Borders announcement has us all down. It’s hard and heartfelt cause we love our booksellers. Industry is in transformation and in the process of retooling and expanding what a book company can be. They are in the business of connecting authors to readers and this involves many small, and large, tasks. Printing is only a small part of what a book publisher does. Printing only impacts a small amount of that they do. In the business of making the author’s work public and this can take many forms. Where we are today in ebooks. BISG study says that price easy to download and portability are the major reasons to buy ebooks. They like to carry lots of content in one place. Ebook readers are heavy readers. See Simon Sinek’s Ted Talk, Very powerful and innovative. Earyly adopters (13%) set the stage for the early majority (34%). Ebook sales from Sourcebooks from Oct 2009 to 2010. Chart shows an incredible increase starting November 2010. 35% of units in January were ebooks and this was a lot higher that expected. Was a real shock. Bulk of their physical sales were adult non-fiction followed by others. Ebooks are dominated by fiction sales. 80% of ebook readers in an unscientific poll she did showed that they read more. Looks like it is going to be a much faster transition than most people predicted.

They are developing reader-centric models based on key verticals. This changes conversation int he office. Not do I publish the book, but what does the reader need. Created enormous opportunity. This typ of organization causes you to constantly assess where you are and are constantly retooling. Doing lots of small experiments on which you build. In this new world you need an experimentation strategy, just as you have an acquisition strategy in the old world. “Publisher” and “developer” start to merge for some types of projects. So many opportunities that a rubric for decision making becomes essential: platform, partnership, functionality, digital p&L, importance to target. Need to decide what’s important in your business. Sourcebooks is no longer two companies, digital and physical. Now integrating digital into all departments including manufacturing. Needed to create a new workflow. Developing an enhanced ebook: ended up reconceptualizing the book map of the original book. An enormous amount of work and done by the editorial group. Need to find and add new content, get rights and permission, all done by the editorial group. Embedding the media, done by production. Cover design changes, done by design. Least impacted groups are publicity and marketing. Not that much of a strain for enhanced ebooks. Apps is more complex and often requires new skill sets. Conceptualizing the app requires publicity, editorial, sales and IT departments. The line between an app and a book is interactivity. Defined the user experience by creating wireframe designs. Production department has a ton of more responsibility, editorial department closely involved and was a lot of work. Marketing had to figure out metadata. For apps required people to take on new responsibilities, but are similar to what the team already does. New tasks are extensions and have parallels to existing responsibilities. For the team if they are working on websites, tweeting, blogging and posting on Facebook are all relevant experience. Just launched Fisk Interactive College Guide was a major project since the book is so important. Hadn’t done it as a app before because it had to be done right. There is an enormous difference between app development and book development and the difference is probably cultural. When you are done with a book you are done with the book. But with an app rapid and frequent iteration is normal. Not just minor iterations but often major changes in functionality. This is very different from what we did in the past and really starts to transform the entire company.

Believe that people walk into a future, is with it all the time and believe that it is our job to manage and create that future. The next two years will be determinative.

Up to now have created the ebook after the print book, but now are doing them all at once. Decision to make Fisk book an app rather than an ebook was that couldn’t find a way to give the customer a good enough experience in ebook form. For the ebook surge they had, print book sales declined, but if you put the two figures together they were up by a lot. Stopped doing a bunch of stuff and every months doing calls on things they don’t want to do any more. CEO leading the transition was a real plus to the company in making the necessary changes.


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