About Shelf Awareness
Shelf Awareness publishes two newsletters, one for general readers and one for people in the book business.
Shelf Awareness: Enlightenment for Readers, our new newsletter, appears Tuesdays and Fridays and helps readers discover the 25 best books of the week, as chosen by our industry experts. We also have news about books and authors, author interviews and more.
Shelf Awareness: Daily Enlightenment for the Book Trade, which we've been publishing since June 2005, provides booksellers and librarians the information they need to sell and lend books. It appears every business day and is read by people throughout the book industry.
Both newsletters are free. Sign up here.
Who We Are
John Mutter is the co-founder and editor-in-chief of Shelf Awareness. He was the longtime executive editor of bookselling at Publishers Weekly and executive editor of the former PW Daily for Booksellers. He enjoys reading anything funny or mysterious and loves maps, crossword puzzles, running, visiting bookstores, travel and watching Jenn Risko demonstrate the fine art of business.
Jenn Risko is the co-founder and publisher of the Shelf. She has held sales, marketing and management positions during the past 15 years with book publishers such as Rand McNally, Insiders' Guides and National Academies Press. When she isn’t planning parties, cooking with her daughter, or at spin class, you’ll find her on her deck enjoying a drink and hatching her latest plan to take over the universe so she can keep John Mutter in fine wine and calamari.
Marilyn Dahl, editor of Shelf Awareness for Readers, has worked at an independent (University Book Store in Seattle), a wholesaler (Pacific Pipeline) and at Amazon.com. She manages the book reviews, the interviews, the Maximum Shelf issues, the wildly popular Book Brahmin feature and reads like crazy, usually draped with two cats. It all started by being plied with pinot noir and agreeing to review one mystery a month.
Richard Jobes is our chief financial officer. He holds a bachelors degree in accounting from the University of Nebraska, an MBA from the University of Michigan and was a financial strategist for years in cell phone related businesses. He fell in love with cinema via basement classroom viewings of classics like Persona and The Third Man presented by various U of M film societies. Subsequent searches for complete screenplays led him many times to the cozy and well-stocked Borders bookstore in Ann Arbor--works of Dick Francis, C.S. Lewis and The Far Side collections he found there provided escape and perspective during the travails of graduate school. Richard has a deep pain-and-pleasure obsession with Cornhusker college football and women's college volleyball. He lives in Seattle, near Wide World Books & Maps, and now loves sushi even more than steak.
Melissa Solberg is the sales director for Shelf Awareness and knows a lot about what kind of ads work in the Shelf. Marketers, pick her brain. Her life in publishing has included an internship at Sasquatch Books, completion of NYU's Summer Publishing Institute, a job in publicity for Simon & Schuster Children's division and doing PR/hosting author events for University Book Store. Melissa loves literary fiction, pescatarian-friendly cookbooks and quirky nonfiction titles--oh, and her awesome husband, son, and dog.
Kristin McConnell is the sales manager for Shelf Awareness. She loves both reading and writing and holds a bachelor's degree in English, emphasis on Creative Writing, from Western Washington University. Her previous work experiences, which include an internship at Sasquatch Books, have taken her everywhere from the Andes to East Asia to baking brioche in rural France. She lives in Seattle with her husband and enjoys riding her bike, traveling and drinking entirely too much coffee.
Chris is the marketing & PR manager for Shelf Awareness. After a stint as a travel writer, Chris took a job as an editor and media liaison for an international travel/lifestyle publisher in New York City. Over the years, he has provided marketing and PR services for various industries, including small publishers and a literary awards program. He lives in Seattle with his wife and two dogs, reads as much as he can (primarily literary fiction), and tries to rock climb.
Robin Lenz has been a bookseller (indie), a librarian, a bookseller (indie, then chain, then indie), did a brief stint at a large publishing house and spent many years as managing editor at Publishers Weekly. She now gets to combine her loves for things geekish and things bookish as managing editor of Shelf Awareness. Besides brightening the newsletter with more illustrations, she copyedits, organizes, scours the Internet for story leads and is our constant presence in the Twitterverse.
Heather Young, senior editor, is the Commander Riker to Marilyn's Captain Picard. After years working in Seattle-area bookstores and a college internship at a literary agency, she headed east. In New York City, she worked in advertising at HarperCollins Publishers, and as a magazine copy editor for both Time Out New York and Martha Stewart's dearly departed Everyday Food. Eight years later, she returned to the Pacific Northwest with her husband and two hilarious cats. When her nose isn't in a quirky memoir, cookbook, or YA novel, she writes, edits, designs ads, plays ukulele, cooks, and knits (all for fun and occasionally for profit).
Alex Mutter is our associate editor. He profiles booksellers, covers author events and reports on trade shows. His first job was a part-time gig at Watchung Booksellers in Montclair, N.J., and he holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Sarah Lawrence College with a concentration in Creative Writing. Before joining Shelf Awareness, he interned with Publishing Perspectives as an editorial assistant. He is an avid hiker and traveler. His German is poor, but he tries. When he's not working, he's reading, writing, drinking coffee with abandon and obsessing over the New York Giants. He is an evangelist for Gould's Book of Fish by Richard Flanagan, and True History of the Kelly Gang by Peter Carey.
Robert Gray is a contributing editor and weekly columnist for Shelf Awareness and gives John Mutter much-appreciated breaks. He also teaches a bit and has written for publications ranging from Cimarron Review to Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine. For 15 years he was a bookseller and buyer at the Northshire Bookstore, but before that he worked as managing editor of Sailboard News, a windsurfing trade magazine based in landlocked Vermont. Learning how to read unpredictable, sometimes hazardous winds and waves proved to be ideal training for understanding the publishing world.
Jennifer M. Brown
Jennifer M. Brown is our enthusiastic and passionate children's editor based in New York. She recently launched a Web site aimed at parents called TwentybyJenny. When she's not reviewing or writing about children's books, she steals away to Don't Tell Mama where she doubles as a chanteuse.
Shannon McKenna Schmidt
Shannon McKenna Schmidt writes on a variety of bookselling issues from the relative comfort of her 300-sq.-ft. home-on-wheels. Along with her trusty feline, Tabitha, and her husband/chauffeur/personal chef, she's touring the country in search of bookstores, barbecue, the perfect pair of flip flops and quiet places to read. Shannon is the co-author of Novel Destinations: Literary Landmarks from Jane Austen's Bath to Ernest Hemingway's Key West (National Geographic).
Dave Wheeler is the publishing assistant at Shelf Awareness. Before joining the Shelf he was a bookseller for both The Elliott Bay Book Company and Village Books. His favorite novels usually have some bizarre element to them, probably something metaphysical, and he's likely reading one right now with a little nip of bourbon in his glass. When he's not reading he's writing, and his first book of poems is called Contingency Plans (T.S. Poetry Press).
Alex Baker is the art director, mascot dresser and designer for Shelf Awareness. He has a background in painting, fine-art printmaking and book design and binding and is probably the only member of staff to have actually done a saddle stitch. When not designing or playing the role of wrench in an otherwise well-oiled machine, Alex can be found experimenting in the kitchen, reading, playing with his old cars or trying to finish the remodel on his house. Or drinking.