Monday, January 21, 2019

Worried that books are dying out? Naperville's Sourcebooks has good news

Dominique Raccah, far right, and her staff at Sourcebooks ponder new logos for their expanding children's division.

     Nine sheets of paper. Each bearing five logos, differing in color and font, arranged on the sand-colored carpet last Tuesday in the CEO's office in one the largest commercial book publishers in the United States, located not in New York, where the book trade traditionally congregates. But in Naperville.
     "Nikki, how do you feel about the light orange?" asks Dominique Raccah, publisher, CEO and founder of Sourcebooks, huddling in her office with seven top staffers, all gazing at the logos. "Because I'm not feeling it. I can be either the dark orange or the pink for Wonderland. But the light orange does not feel robust enough to me."
     "I definitely like the orange better than the pink at this point," says Nicky Benson, publishing manager, who will jointly run the new Wonderland imprint. "But I can see how you would think the light orange is harder to see."
Dominique Raccah was born in Paris. Her family moved
 to the U.S. when she was 9; she came to Chicago
to study at University of Illinois—Chicago Circle.

     "I think it's too similar to our logo orange," says Kelly Barrales-Saylor, editorial director, of kid's nonfiction
     "It is our logo orange," said Chris Bauerle, director of sales and marketing.
     The logos they're pondering didn't exist a few days ago, and in a few hours a few will be shared with the world and featured in a Publishers Weekly article on Sourcebooks' success—selling so many children's book, it is dividing the business into four imprints.
     If anyone is feeling pressure, it doesn't show: there is laughter and back-and-forth critique for 15 minutes.
     "What's really different about Sourcebooks is we're entrepreneurial and agile," Raccah explains.
     Raccah was a former Leo Burnett researcher who, in 1987, struck out on her own as a publisher of financial sourcebooks—hence the company name. By being nimble and collaborative—and at one low point taking a mortgage on Raccah's home—the company has managed to thrive during changing times. For the first two years, Raccah was Sourcebooks' only employee. Now the company employs 139 staffers—3/4 of them women—and parking at their headquarters can be tight. They've had yearly double-digit growth for a decade, thanks in part, to a course change a dozen years ago, when Sourcebooks published its first children's book.
     "Our children's business is now 53 percent of our business, our children's list was up 28 percent last year," says Raccah. "We are the 12th largest children's publisher in the country."
     Why kids books? Despite the impression that young people fixate on screens, and the narrowing of childhood that has been so devastating for toys companies, books are different.

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  1. Actual good news. And not fake. Reading to my nieces a most wonderful memory, makes me envy full time parents everywhere.

  2. Terrific story. Just the photo above makes me glad they're doing the job, not me. Standing around critiquing colors and formats would drive me crazy.


  3. Neat! I had no idea this company even existed, and I'm glad they do. A feel-good story all around.


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