They're Baaaaaaack!

Pages Of Profit

Dominique Raccah, Sourcebooks

Then & Now
No. of employees
1992: 6
2001: 56
1992: $1 million
2000: $20 million
Biggest change
A few Sourcebook titles have made The New York Times Bestseller List.

While We Were Away
Bestselling nonfiction title of 1992
The Way Things Ought To Be by Rush Limbaugh
Bestselling nonfiction title of 1999
Tuesdays With Morrie by Mitch Albom

Bestselling books. Top-name authors. Continuous growth. It's been a wild and successful ride for Dominique Raccah, 44, since we last wrote about her company, Sourcebooks, in 1992. Back then, she published business-related titles and boasted sales of about $1 million. Today, she publishes all different types of books-from mediafusion (books that come with audio) to fiction (under the Sourcebooks Landmark imprint)-to the tune of $25 million.

Raccah points to her company's fierce devotion to its authors and to publishing quality books as the secret of her success. That, and the determination to prove her doubters wrong. People said Sourcebooks wouldn't be able to attract top-name authors and should only publish within a certain niche. Building a successful publishing house in Naperville, Illinois, was unheard of-all the big names were in New York City. "There are a lot of cliches and assumptions about independent publishers in America today," says Raccah. "We've [heard] a long list of 'you can't, you shouldn't, it won't work that way' that we've been debunking for the last 13 years."

The changing face of the publishing industry in the past decade aided Raccah's cause. As larger publishers consolidated, mid-list authors were hurt in the crunch. Smaller publishers like Sourcebooks thrived by giving those writers the special attention the larger houses couldn't.

The past few years have been especially triumphant. Three Sourcebooks mediafusion titles-And The Fans Roared, We Interrupt This Broadcast and The Crowd Goes Wild-have made The New York Times Bestseller List. "The first time you make [the List], your jaw drops a little, and there's a silence that goes over the room," says Raccah. "It's pretty amazing."

Looking ahead, Raccah plans to enter the e-books market. And in an industry that already publishes about 50,000 books a year-not counting e-books-the real challenge will be to get noticed. "I think with the advent of the Internet and e-publishing, you're looking at millions of books. The big question will be, How will readers know about those books and how to find them? We're going to have to find a way to get a reader to a book. That's going to [be harder] than when we had a limited number of books in a [traditional] environment. "

Regardless of industry changes, Raccah's core philosophy remains constant. "Publishing is a craft," she says. "I'm passionate about creating books that will resonate in people's minds."

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This article was originally published in the March 2001 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: They're Baaaaaaack!.

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