It’s a story of mythic proportions that long ago entered publishing industry lore: in 1987, Dominique Raccah left her high-powered job at the corporate advertising company Leo Burnett, cashed in $17,000 from her 401(k) plan, and launched a publishing company headquartered in a spare bedroom in her Chicagoland home.
A lot has changed for Raccah and for Sourcebooks in the quarter century since, starting with the company no longer being housed in her home, although it is still headquartered in Naperville, Ill., with satellite offices in New York City and Connecticut. While the company made its debut with one title, Financial Sourcebooks’ Sources, and became best known for its MediaFusion multimedia line, which includes its two all-time bestsellers, We Interrupt This Broadcast and And the Crowd Goes Wild, both by Joe Garner, two imprints that didn’t exist in their present incarnations five years ago—Landmark (historical and other fiction) and Jabberwocky (children’s/YA)—account for a rapidly growing percentage of revenues.
Fiction currently accounts for 36% of all sales, with Landmark titles accounting for 16% of all sales. And Jabberwocky titles “are up almost tenfold for the first quarter over last year,” Raccah says. While Raccah declined to specify dollar amounts, company revenue is up 14% this year, and unit sales are up 71% over 2008. While adult nonfiction sales have dropped since 2008 from 60% of total sales, adult nonfiction sales are actually up, as “the pie is much bigger,” with the company releasing titles under seven imprints and developing its year-old Sourcebooks EDU division of educational materials for the college-bound and college students. This year, Sourcebooks is scheduled to release 300 titles in print and digital formats; there currently are 2,500 Sourcebook titles in print, and 2,000 e-books available.
It’s a remarkable evolution of a company from a one-person bare-bones operation 25 years ago to a powerhouse publisher with almost 100 employees today, and it’s a transformation that Raccah attributes to the power of love: “It’s all about loving and sharing books.” To spread some of that love, Sourcebooks isn’t content with letting booksellers eat cake at booth 4112; they’re giving away galleys and books that demonstrate the quality and variety of its 2012 list.