In another move to diversify what is already the world’s largest trade book publisher, Penguin Random House has acquired a 45% stake in Sourcebooks, the independent publisher founded in 1987 in Naperville, Ill., by Dominique Raccah. Under the agreement, Sourcebooks has formed a new five-person management board that will be chaired by Raccah and include Madeline McIntosh, PRH US CEO, as well as Nina von Moltke, PRH president of strategic development.
In a conference call, both McIntosh and Raccah emphasized that little will change in day-to-day operations at Sourcebooks. "My mantra is, let Sourcebooks be Sourcebooks," McIntosh said, pointing to the publisher’s track record of sustained growth. Raccah said the rationale behind the PRH investment “is to create a bigger Sourcebooks," adding that the company "will continue with our own model and create our own path." Raccah stressed that there will be no changes at Sourcebooks; its management will stay the same, it will continue to do its own distribution, and it will keep its offices in Naperville, New York City, Connecticut, and Arizona.
Among Sourcebooks' strengths that most appealed to McIntosh is its rapid growth in the children's publishing sector, where it now has seven imprints and produces bestsellers such as P is For Pterodactyl and Quantum Physics for Babies. McIntosh is also intrigued by Sourcebooks' ability to create titles that resonate in America’s heartland. "Dominique says Sourcebooks publishes books for their neighbors," McIntosh said. "Well, their neighbors are different from the neighbors of those in New York publishing."
In explaining the thinking behind the acquisition and its execution, McIntosh cited the success PRH has had with Ten Speed Press since it bought the company in 2009. By allowing Ten Speed to continue to operate as it always had, McIntosh said, Ten Speed—and, consequently, PRH—continued to stay on top of west coast trends.
The hands-off approach promised by PRH where Sourcebooks is concerned doesn’t mean the two companies won’t be working together. "There are a number of areas where we have common interests, and as we work together, we can make these stronger," Raccah said. One area where the companies will have conversations is awareness of Sourcebooks' brand on a global level, and how PRH can best help to expand it. McIntosh added that over time, PRH will support Sourcebooks' continued growth into new channels, markets, and ventures.
McIntosh said there is no plan to take a majority stake in Sourcebooks. "Sourcebooks does fantastic stuff," she said. "We want to help them get bigger, and we think we can learn from each other."