December IndieNext… and a deadline.

The IndieNext list for December is ready. If you use shelf talkers or fliers for in-store promotion, they can be downloaded here.

It’s easy to create a shareable image of a shelf talker by snapping a shot with your camera or smart phone. Or do what I did with this recommendation from Banna Rubinow from the river’s end bookstore in Oswego, NY. I just opened the PDF on my screen and took a screen shot (instructions below)–and now I have an instant image for Facebook, Twitter, my website or email newsletter.


While we’re talking about IndieNext lists, there’s another deadline approaching. Nominations for books released in February 2017 or beyond are due on Friday, December 2 before midnight. You can either complete this form online or send an email to Don’t worry about grammar too much… the folks at the ABA will correct that for you.

I know this week will be busy. But if you can think about a book today, jot down a few words tomorrow, tweak it on Wednesday and submit it on Thursday, you’ll be ahead of the game on Friday and you might have your own recommendation to screenshot and share in February.

How to Take a Screen Shot

On a Mac: Click shift + ⌘ + 4 if you want to specify the image size through a click & drag with crosshairs, or click shift + ⌘ + 3 if you want the whole screen to later crop down to size.

On a PC: Press the Print Screen (often shortened to “PrtScn”) key, typically located in the upper right corner of your keyboard, to capture a screenshot of your entire display. Alternatively, press Alt + Print Screen to merely capture a screenshot of the active window.

Hicklebee’s Book of the Year

As the year end draws near, many stores like to post ‘Best Books of the Year’ lists. Most of the time I see a number of lists submitted by individual booksellers. While I like this approach and how it spotlights the reading sensibilities of each bookseller, I also like the way Hicklebee’s in San Jose, CA, takes a slightly different approach.

a_hat_for_mrs_goldman_9780553497106_8defeEach spring and fall, the entire staff selects the one title they most want to hand-sell.The books range from picture books to novels, both fiction and non. And the title they end up with stands out as the one they can’t stop talking about.

This year they selected A Hat for Mrs. Goldman: A Story About Knitting and Love by Michelle Edwards, illustrated by G. Brian Karas. They announced the selection through a store eBlast with a ‘find out why’ teaser attached. Those who follow the link end up on a landing page on the store website with a ‘buy’ button as well as a list of previous winners since the spring of 2000.

One of the reasons I like Hicklebee’s approach is that it’s not only a reminder of bookseller expertise, but it also places a spotlight on one book that all of the store ‘experts’ agree on.

Reviews (Plus): ‘Puck’ & ‘Saving Hamlet’

puck_doubletpressIn the newest Twisted Lit Novel, Kim Askew and Amy Helmes’ retelling of A Midsummer’s Night Dream, we meet Puck, a young woman lost in the foster care system who has arrived at DreamRoads, a wilderness camp in the middle of nowhere, with nothing but her own skills of wit, manipulation and control. Puck’s time there will either set her free or enslave her until she ages out of the system. Each child may return to the world–or not–depending on their ability to conquer the challenges set out for them. Much like the Puck in Shakespeare’s play, Puck finds she must lie to and betray in order for herself to stay the queen of her own life.

Puck is a great book for a counselor to put into the hands of readers whose story is similar to Puck’s. Anyone who has felt left out or abandoned will enjoy this story.


As Saving Hamlet begins, our protagonist, Emma, has just chopped off her hair to start her sophomore year fresh–and in the hope of catching the eye of the senior who’s directing the fall production of Hamlet. Emma has little experience, and she is shocked when she discovers that her predecessor has moved and she is in charge!

The book’s humorous scenes–the try-outs, the nightly notes, the tech crew antics–are only enhanced when Molly Booth brings time travel into the story. When Emma falls through a trap door, she is transported from present day rehearsal to the original production of Hamlet. She quickly adapts and eventually takes her new-found knowledge back to the present to help her peers produce an amazing show.

In all my years of theater teaching I don’t think I have found a book I would like to get into every star-struck teen I taught as much as Saving Hamlet. It’s a theater student must read–perfect for stage managers, high school stars, the tech people in black, and the senior who wants to run the show.  I love, love this unique and witty retelling of Shakespeare’s classic play!

Puck by Kim Askew and Amy Helmes (Doublet Press | 9780998161303 | November 15, 2016)

Saving Hamlet by Molly Booth (Disney-Hyperion | 9781484752746 | November 1, 2016)

Video: Recreating the Voynich Manuscript

Here’s a bit of shareable content. I like to watch ‘how books are made’ videos, and this one is a different, since it illustrates how Yale University Press created a facsimile of The Voynich Manuscript, a book written in an unknown script by an unknown author, with no clearer purpose now than when it was rediscovered in 1912 by rare books dealer Wilfrid Voynich.

If you’d like to embed the video, here’s the code:

<iframe width=”560″ height=”315″ src=”″ frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen></iframe>

Downtown Books’ Foster Cat Program

collageWhen Jamie Hope Anderson bought Downtown Books in Manteo, NC, the resident cat did not come with bookstore.

After four years of answering “Where’s the cat?” questions, Jamie started working with the Outer Banks SPCA and their foster cat program in May.

“They brought us our first ‘foster’ cat, Sylvester–a 16-year-old tuxedo cat,” says Jamie. “He settled in, we made a flyer highlighting his attributes, and boom, two weeks later he was adopted by a couple from Tennessee.”

After Sylvester moved, 12-year-old sweet Missy came to live at the store. “Because of our demographics, a lot of OBX shelter cats are older companion cats whose humans have passed away or gone into nursing homes,” she says. “After 5 weeks, a woman saw her picture on our Facebook page, drove down from Virginia and adopted her.”

Then came Skipper. “Fifteen pounds of fat gray tom who learned that when the door squeaked it meant new people were coming in and would run to greet them!” He went to Ohio.

“We had a Curious George who had to go back to the shelter for more home training; too young, played too rough,” says Jamie, “then we had Butternut, a 17-pound ginger who was adopted by a local woman.” (Curious George is the one wearing the monkey hat in the collage. It was Curiosity Day.)

simba2Simba–who is ‘drop dead gorgeous’–was adopted last week, but only after she went back to the cathouse for a hurricane party during Matthew. And now they have Sia.

Jamie says that the cats adapt to the store surroundings in about a week. “At first they are stressed from their shelter experience and are pretty meek but about day 6 or 7–bam!–their personality comes out and shines.” The cats are very interactive with customers during the day, but need their quiet time in the evening to unwind.

“As we all know, people love a bookstore cat,” Jamie says. “And as soon as they start paying attention to them I mention that the cat is ‘available’ which lets me explain how we are fostering it. Then they get the warm and fuzzies for us, too.”