Publishing Office Reopenings: Sourcebooks Sets September 7

In News by Porter Anderson

Sourcebooks will offer each employee a tailored approach to work and an option to operate in one of seven states. It also has opened a loyalty program to support recovering bookstores.

Square Books in Oxford, Mississippi, July 21, 2020. Image – Getty iStockphoto: Jen Lobo

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

An Option To Work From One of Seven States
As we continue to hear from publishing companies developing their workplace reopening strategies, one of the United States’ best-known independent houses Sourcebooks—since May 2019 heavily invested in by Penguin Random House—has announced its approach today (July 16).

As with several companies, Sourcebooks reports that its working out a set of options, and this—in many workplaces—is a result, of course, of many executives during the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic having at last realized that many employees can work as or more efficiently and profitably from home offices than they do when on-site.

Described by the company as a “progressive future-of-work plan,” the Sourcebooks approach announced today by publisher and CEO Dominique Raccah “empowers employees to craft the best schedule for their professional aspirations and work life balance, while staying committed to the publisher’s continued growth and overarching mission.”

Each employee will work with her or his manager to go over career aspirations and job responsibilities, developing an individualized format for the work going forward. ”

Options available to employees, depending on their  responsibilities,” the company says, “include working fully remotely, working a hybrid of remotely and in-office, or working in the office full time.”

In an interesting twist, the company will also offer its employees the chance to live and work in one of seven states: Illinois, New York, Connecticut, Arizona, Tennessee, Nebraska, and Texas. They’ll also have an option to work remotely from anywhere in the continental United States (if allowed by the state) for less than a month.

The company’s offices in Naperville, Illinois, New York City, and Milford, Connecticut will welcome back all employees who choose to work out of the office on September 7.

Dominique Raccah

I’m incredibly proud of the way we came together while working remotely during the pandemic,” Raccah says in today’s announcement. “We’re going to continue building our employees, our  culture, and our mission with a team-oriented approach that allows for both the organization and our  employees to thrive.

This is going to be something completely experimental,” she says, “that comes out of the agility of our entrepreneurial  model.”

Raccah there is referring to her use of the “agile” model for development in projects, an iterative approach that Sourcebooks has championed for years.

“We’ve done 18 months of working remotely,” she says, “and we’ve done it well. Our future-of-work strategy will be iterative, as our top priority is to create and innovate on behalf of our authors, retail partners, and, of course, our employees. Together, we’re going to get to think about how we want to use our office space in the future to be even more collaborative and creative.”

Sourcebooks’ Bookstore-Boosting Loyalty Program

Sourcebooks authors. Image: Sourcebooks

Sensitive to the struggle of many book retail outlets in the States, earlier this month, Sourcebooks announced a “Booksellers Change Lives” promotion, a loyalty program intended to support independent bookstores through the end of February.

The program offers 53-percent off backlist purchases of 15 or more units to stores, as well as free freight and 90-day terms.

Participating stores must:

  • Order directly from Sourcebooks
  • Agree to one phone conversation with a Sourcebooks sales or marketing director
  • Agree to include Sourcebooks titles in at least three promotions, and examples of those promotions include:
    • In-store displays
    • Social media posts with reviews
    • Newsletter reviews
    • Author event (digital or in-person)
    • Preorder campaign

The program was announced on July 7.

The Coronavirus in the United States

Like Sourcebooks, most of the American companies announcing office reopenings to date are targeting September. With that growing number of publishers making their plans, many will be keeping an eye on the increasingly challenging status of the B.1.617.2 “delta” variant, now creating an upturn in case numbers in all 50 states.

As Mitch Smith and Julie Bosman write at The New York Times today, “The 160 million people across the country who are fully vaccinated are largely protected from the virus, including the highly contagious delta variant, scientists say. In the Upper Midwest, the Northeast and on the West Coast  including in Chicago, Boston and San Francisco—coronavirus infections remain relatively low. But the picture is different in pockets of the country where residents are vaccinated at lower rates.”

As many as 26,000 new cases are being registered daily in the States, after the lowest level had come to just over 11,000.

One of the most eye-catching developments is that Los Angeles County, with its population of 10.04 million, is reinstating a mandate for masks indoors–for everyone, including those who are fully vaccinated.

Strikingly, more than 99 percent of those who are hospitalized or dying of COVID-19 have not been vaccinated, sources including the Centers for Disease Control report. This, despite the caution of many fully vaccinated Americans who are readily masking up in order to avoid “breakthrough infections,” even mild ones that can leave long-haul COVID complications.

Nevertheless, the drive by many in the Republican Party to downplay the importance of vaccination–and disinformation being transmitted by right-wing media–now is becoming the clearest single deterrence to vaccination. “A range of conservative media hosts and lawmakers have expressed concerns over the vaccine and the Biden administration’s outreach efforts, write Peter Sullivan and Morgan Chalfant for The Hill today. “The resistance helps explain why more than 30 percent of US adults remain unvaccinated, with even higher percentages in Republican-leaning states, leaving places with lower vaccination rates at risk of localized surges of the virus.

At this writing, the 2:21 p.m. ET (1821 GMT) update of the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center sees 33,991,412 cases in the American population of 328.2 million, with 608,530 fatalities. These numbers hold the States in top place for COVID cases and deaths, followed next by India for cases and by Brazil for deaths.

More from us on Penguin Random House is here, more on Macmillan is here, and more on Hachette is here. Our ‘Coronavirus Worklife’ series is here.

More from Publishing Perspectives on the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on international book publishing is here.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson was for more than a decade a senior producer and anchor with, CNN International, and CNN USA. As an arts critic (Fellow, National Critics Institute), he was with The Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and the Tampa Tribune, now the Tampa Bay Times. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.