Former Time Warner Books Group CEO Larry Kirshbaum, whom publisher Dominique Raccah describes as one of her mentors, nailed it when he declared, “When I think of Sourcebooks, I think of Dominique Raccah. She is it. It is she. Sourcebooks is an extension of her persona in so many ways.”

Even after 20 years, Sourcebooks, with its eclectic list of 1,700 fiction and nonfiction releases, often seems overshadowed by Raccah, 50, the company's savvy and charismatic founder. But as Sourcebooks enters its third decade, its offerings, rather than its colorful publisher, are what the company is known for, particularly with the continuing success of Sourcebooks' critically acclaimed MediaFusion line of integrated book-and-audio packages.

“Sourcebooks is much larger than I am now,” Raccah declared during a wide-ranging interview with PW on the eve of her company's 20th anniversary. “That's not something that would have been true even five years ago. Sourcebooks is now its own thing.”

“Her charisma definitely launched the company. But you can only get your company so far on charisma,” said Deb Werksman, an acquiring editor and editorial manager at Sourcebooks for almost 10 years. “After that you need other qualities—like being a team player, being committed to the bigger picture.”

Raccah founded Sourcebooks in 1987, when she left a corporate advertising job, cashed in $17,000 from her 401(k) plan and launched the house from a spare bedroom in her suburban Chicago home with a 1,000-copy print run of a single title, Financial Sourcebooks' Sources. “I wasn't starting a press,” she recalled. “I was starting a financial information services company. I started with nothing—not even knowledge. I couldn't even afford a printer.”

As Sourcebooks moved away from publishing finance books for professionals in the early 1990s, focusing instead on mass market and general trade releases, it grew. In 1992, Entrepreneur magazine reported that Sourcebooks had $1 million in revenue and employed six people. By 2000, with two books—We Interrupt This Broadcast and And the Crowd Goes Wild—established hits, Sourcebooks posted a reported $20 million in revenue, with 56 employees. “This is a really complicated business,” Raccah said. “It took me about 12 years to figure it out.”

Today, Sourcebooks, still headquartered in Naperville, Ill., with satellite offices in New York City and Connecticut, employs 73, including 10 in-house sales reps. Its annual output is 220—250 titles. While Raccah declined to reveal the company's current revenue, she said sales were up 27% in 2006, much of that due to strong sales in the press's innovative MediaFusion imprint, which has titles retailing for as much as $50. We Interrupt This Broadcast, the first and still the bestselling release in this line, has sold 600,000 copies since its publication in 1997, while Poetry Speaks has sold 160,000 copies.

Besides heavily touted releases this fall in the two newest of its six imprints—Jabberwocky (children's) and Casablanca (women's/romance)—Sourcebooks/MediaFusion is releasing an expanded edition of Poetry Speaks and a poetry compilation by Al Young, California's poet laureate, Something About the Blues. “Poetry is going to be an essential part of our future,” Raccah declared.

“She's no longer a small publisher,” Kirsh-baum said, “ but she still pretends she is. That brings a certain intensity and focus that larger publishers miss. It's probably what publishing was like 30 years ago, before the conglomerate invasion, when publishers were small and paid attention to every detail.”

Source: Reed Business Information
1001 Ways to Be Romantic
We Interrupt This Broadcast
The Fiske Guide to Colleges
And the Crowd Goes Wild
50,001 Baby Names

Source: Reed Business Information
1996: Casablanca Books (romance)
1997: Sphinx Books (self-help law books)
1998: Hysteria (humor, women's issues)
2006: Champion Press (health, self-help)