Business Profile | Dominique Raccah

March 2021 View more

Dominque Raccah

Dominque Raccah

Sourcebooks CEO and Publisher 

It’s an industry that is traditionally slow and stagnate. However, the publishing world is now undergoing a major transformation thanks in part to the digital revolution and exploding popularity of e-books and e-readers. Naperville magazine recently spoke with Dominique Raccah, CEO and publisher of Naperville-based Sourcebooks, one of the largest woman-owned independent book publishers in the country, about how she turned her passion into a publishing powerhouse and the challenges and opportunities ahead for her company.

Sourcebooks is one of the largest and leading independent publishers in North America. What is your proudest accomplishment?

When I think of our team—of Sourcebooks employees and authors—I’m most proud of our ability to grow, evolve and innovate each time the industry has gone through transformation. I started Sourcebooks as part of the first wave of desktop publishers. Then the industry changed again as big box retailers shifted the bookselling landscape. Today, we’re a leader in the digital revolution of the book. That’s tremendously inspiring and fun. It makes change less of a threat and more of an opportunity for us to grow into.

You started Sourcebooks in 1987 in an upstairs bedroom in Naperville. Today, more than 25 years later, you are still based in Naperville. What makes Naperville such a thriving literary location?

Naperville has an amazing community of readers and literacy advocates, from an excellent school system to a nationally revered public library and an award-winning independent bookstore, Anderson’s Bookshop. This community has played an integral role in the growth of Sourcebooks. And Naperville is also a great creative location, filled with smart, family-oriented people. When you look at both our company (in terms of our culture and the people who are a part of it) as well as the books that we publish, we look a lot like our community.

There has been a tremendous amount of change in the publishing world in a very short period of time. How do you remain creative and competitive with all the technological advances and the changing demands of your readers?

This is an extraordinary time in book publishing, probably the most exciting time since the invention of the printed book. We’re undergoing a very real transformation, and Sourcebooks recognized early that we were going to need to drive innovation and create new publishing models—models that better serve our authors and our readers.

We have been hard at work on a lot of projects in digital publishing including two that just launched this fall. Put Me In the Story is a free children’s iPad app that allows parents to make their child the star of bestselling children’s books like Dream Big, Little Pig by New York Times bestselling author and Olympic gold medalist Kristi Yamaguchi. On the website ( you can create and order personalized print books to share with your child. Sesame workshop is now going to allow their books to be personalized on the Put Me in the Story platform, starting with Elmo Loves You.

We’re also moving to create new and better kinds of textbooks. For example, we’ve launched The Shakesperience, a series of highly interactive, enhanced eBooks of Shakespeare’s plays, available in the iBookstore. The Shakesperience is designed to help any reader get into Shakespeare’s language faster and more easily, with a touchable interface that makes the plays come to life.

As you can see, we’re creating a new kind of book publishing company.

How has the popularity of e-books impacted your business model and will e-books ever truly replace the hardcover or paperback editions?

We’ve created explosive growth in e-books, outpacing our peers in both growth and market share. Sourcebooks has thrived because of e-books, not in spite of them. We’re testing a lot of different strategies, from pricing to themed promotions, and it’s been a lot of fun!

That said, we’re also investing more resources than ever before in expanding our reach in brick and mortar retail. It’s interesting to note that 50% of books sold are bought as gifts. There is no good gifting tradition yet for e-books. And the experience of gifting e-books is not quite satisfactory, it’s much less personal. We’ve also seen tremendous growth in our children’s book business, and that’s a category that is still highly successful in print.

What are the challenges for the publishing industry in the next five years and where do you see new opportunities for Sourcebook?

Discovery and directly reaching readers will continue to be both a challenge and an opportunity. With the advent of e-books, finding great books has become a real challenge. Our new initiatives—Put Me In The Story, Shakesperience, (a romance book club), and several others coming this year—were designed to address these issues: connecting authors and readers; creating amazing experiences with content; and helping readers discover great books.

As a publisher and book lover, if you could only read one book, what would it be?

Poetry Speaks. I love poetry and it’s been an important part of what we do at Sourcebooks. It’s incredible to me that we got to transform from a one-person company to employing over a hundred people by publishing books that we love and that really touch people like Poetry Speaks.