IndieNext Nominations

indienext-logo1The IndieNext Deadline for February 2015 and beyond is next Friday, December 5. You’re going to be pretty busy that week, so take 5 minutes today and plan for your IndieNext nominations.

The ABA makes nominating titles easy. Use this form on their website or click here to send an email. They recommend that you write conversationally, as if you were handselling to a customer. (And they even promise to take care of grammar and punctuation.)

If you’re looking beyond February, all of the deadlines for 2015 lists (and part of 2016) have been updated on the site here. So if you just finished a book that will not be released until March, go ahead and nominate it. They’ll hold onto the nomination until the appropriate time.

“The Other Side” by Lacy M. Johnson

“The Other Side” by Lacy M. Johnson

A few weeks ago, I was on the phone with Javier Ramirez, a bookseller from Chicago. He asked me if I’d read The Other Side by Lacy M. Johnson. I said, “No. Should I?” He told me he started reading it when he was on the bus, on his way to meet friends for a drink. He was so engrossed in the book, it took him two stops after his destination to realize he’d missed it. When he finally arrived at the bar, one friend was already there. Why they waited for the others, he handed The Other Side to his friend and said, “You’ve got to read this.” She immediately became lost in the book, so much so that when the bartender asked if she’d like something to drink, she didn’t look up and instead gave him the not-now-I’m-busy hand.

Javier asked TinHouse Books to send me a review copy. In the meantime, he sent me the recommendation he had written to help handsell book:

To put this memoir to paper was brave; to have that bound, sold and read by the general public is downright heroic. The Other Side will break your heart and shatter your spirit. It will also be the most hopeful and inspirational book you read this year. Maybe ever. Ms. Johnson reconstructs the broken bits of her mind and body before our eyes, at once questioning memory and choices made but ultimately owning her situation. Poetic and gut wrenching, devastating and beautiful, The Other Side is one of those rare books that will change you.

Why is The Other Side so gripping from the opening pages? Because Johnson opens her memoir with her escape scene: Breaking free from a sound-proofed room–two-by-four in hand–while her captor is out establishing an alibi; she arrives at the police station with a steel U-bolt still hanging from her wrist. And after that opening scene Johnson’s grip doesn’t loosen.

Now That You’re Here, Duplexity Part I

“In a parallel universe, the classic bad boy falls for the class science geek.” Parallel universe. Classic bad boy. Science geek. It’s difficult to resist that trifecta.

Now That You’re Here by Amy K. Nichols is Part I of the DUPLEXITY novels. Part II, While You Were Gone, will be released next August.

The DUPLEXITY novels are mirror images of each other. We meet two versions of the same couple living in parallel worlds, and see both pairs come together under completely different circumstances. The books don’t have to be read in order but they are complementary.

Nichols is on Twitter and has a nice website (which includes playlists and other fun stuff) at


Welcome, RoscoeBooks!

Welcome, RoscoeBooks!

This past Saturday, we welcomed a new member to the independent bookstore family: RoscoeBooks in Chicago, IL. I had a chance to chat electronically with owner Erika VanDam about her experiences on the journey to bookstore ownership. And while she’s nowhere close to being caught up with the Quick & Dirty Survey questions, I think we have a good start.
What made you decide to open a bookstore?
The idea to open a store, particularly a bookstore, was always in the back of my mind as a dream career. I returned to my job in ad sales after having a baby late last year, but was unhappy and began thinking seriously about changing my career entirely. It was after a long conversation with my husband about the things I truly love to do that I decided to explore the idea.
 How did you choose your location?
This part was easy. I knew that I wanted the store to be on Roscoe St., and the Roscoe retail strip is less than 10 blocks long, so I didn’t have many options to begin with. The store’s space was the first one I looked at, and I was pleased that it was in such good condition and located on a block with several other popular businesses…so I made it my mission to work out a deal with the owners.
 What’s the square footage of the store?
The space is 1,419 total square feet, and the sales floor is about 1,220 square feet.
 What has the timeline been, from deciding to open until now?
I first came up with the idea at the end of December last year. I was still working at my previous job, so I decided to spend the next few months doing some research and signed up for a bookselling workshop in May. I told myself that I would make a definite decision after attending that workshop, and since then, everything happened fairly quickly. I found the ideal space in June and signed the lease in mid-August, with the goal of opening before Thanksgiving.
 I see you have a Facebook page, what other things have you done to market the store?
The Facebook page has been a huge asset and has become especially important in recent weeks, but in addition to this, the store has been covered by Publishers Weekly, Shelf Awareness, DNAinfo, Chicagoist and the Chicago Reader.
 Do you have a website?
Yes, we do, though I’m still putting the finishing touches on it. The site will offer general information about the store, an event calendar, and full E-commerce functionality. I expect to go live with it this weekend.
 Do you plan to offer activities?
Is so, what kind? Absolutely! We will have a weekly story hour for children, and hope to do author events and readings as soon as the new year begins. I’d also like to offer quarterly book fairs to all of the local schools, and an open invitation for local book clubs to hold meetings and events at the store.
 How many people do you have on staff?
In addition to myself, I have two co-managers and two booksellers.
 What hours will you keep?
Monday-Saturday 10am-7pm, and Sunday 10am-6pm.
 Have you had any mentors during this process?
Without a doubt, the most important mentors I’ve had during this process have been Donna Paz Kaufman and Mark Kaufman of Paz & Associates. Without their training, insight and good advice, I wouldn’t even have known where to begin. They truly deserve much of the credit for RoscoeBooks’ existence!
 What POS software will you use?
I’m using Booklog.
 Do you plan to join any trade organizations?
Yes! I already belong to the ABA, and will be joining GLIBA as well.
 Why should customers choose to shop at RoscoeBooks?
Customers should shop at RoscoeBooks because we have a little something for everyone, and more importantly, we care deeply about becoming a true resource for our community and getting to know our customers. We know that our customers can buy their books anywhere, and that’s why we plan to listen to their feedback and stock books and gifts that they will love and enjoy for years to come.

December IndieNext List

Screenshot 2014-11-24 07.51.17The December IndieNext list is available. Here’s a link to the Full List Flyer/Shelf-Talkers and the Now in Paperback Flier/Shelf-Talkers.

Remember, there are other ways you can use the Shelf-Talkers besides as, well, shelf-talkers. Open the PDF on your computer and take a screen shot. Crop your image to the specific book you want to talk about. Now you have an image to share in your newsletter, on your website, and in social media.

To take a screenshot of a partial screen on a Mac:

Press Command (⌘)-Shift-4, and then drag the crosshair pointer to select the area. Hold Shift, Option, or the Space bar while you drag to resize the selection area. To cancel, press Escape (esc) before you release the mouse button.

In Windows:

Press the PrtScr (or Alt+PrtScr will take a screen shot of the current active window). The image is now on your clipboard, so hit CTRL+V to paste it either in your graphics program to crop further or directly where you want the image to appear.