Sourcebooks’ CEO Dominique Raccah is a force for change in publishing, priding herself on a near-extreme disruptive status where books and readers are concerned. But as Raccah explained in an interview with Good e-Reader this morning, the most extreme failure companies can face at this point is to dismiss a new platform, technology, or opportunity as non-viable, as too often those decisions are not based on real data but are instead based on a comparison to where the publishing industry has always been.
“I think we’re really screwed as an industry, as we have this thing where we don’t even try because we’re scared of not succeeding. If we put metrics out there and start focusing on a data centric model, then we can actually begin to learn from whatever the outcome is. If you gather the information, you can look at it. It’s very hard to get your organization to think that way.”
But metrics only tell a company what has taken place, while Raccah admonishes publishers that they must look ahead by using that data to anticipate what may work by having a solid knowledge of what did and did not lead to a desired level of success.
“The field is moving so quickly that I’m worried about our ability to actually gather data. We’re being forced to make decisions in thirty, sixty, ninety days.”
Raccah explained that Sourcebooks’ flagship digital children’s product Put Me in the Story was five years in the making, but expressed concern that the next “big thing” simply cannot take that time span as the audience, the retail space, and the consumer will have evolved too far past the product by that point.
Another key point of failure versus success, according to Raccah, is the timing of the digital age. An earlier keynote at DBW stated that the industry is at the very beginning of the digital age, a point with which Raccah vehemently agrees. To assume that ebooks are a solid format and that the industry now has a firm grasp on digital publishing is a fallacy, as the speed of change in the industry is moving at an unheard of rate.
“On the traditional publishing front, what we want to do is provide the author with interesting new ways to deliver the content. It will provide additional revenue streams to authors beyond what they are able to get just from the traditional route. In a way, we’re redefining and extending what a publisher is.”