At the Digital Book World Conference this morning, Sourcebooks founder Dominique Raccah gave an unlikely talk on poetry. More specifically, she spoke in detail about her companies new initiative, Poetryspeaks.com, an online extension of the publisher’s popular spoken word poetry anthologies. Turns out, she actually sees ways of making money off of poetry!
If you click over to the site (or look at the above screen shot with a magnifying glass), you’ll see it has a similar design to the books (provided you’ve seen the books), and a number of interesting features, including pages where poems participating poets live and can be read and heard. There’s also a kind of virtual open mic, through which anyone can record a poem. The site’s been live for 90 days, and this talk was a kind of check-in on how the site is doing a bit after launch.
Raccah said her team identified six revenue streams for the site, including downloadable audio and future plans for audio bundles of favorite poems curated by famous poets. Raccah tracked book sales for participating poets from various publishers. She looked at book sales for the six weeks before joining, and six weeks after via Bookscan. “These poets had a 55% increase in Bookscan sales after joining the site.” She said this represents preliminary evidence that users are engaging with the site. Given the small sales poetry is used to, 55% is huge for poetry, even though it might not represent that many books.
Future plans include poet trading cards (ugh) and online poetry slams.