Also published on this date: Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Wednesday, May 11 Dedicated Issue: Quirk Books Celebrates Turning 20

Quirk Books: 20 Years of Seriously Entertaining Books

Editors' Note

Happy 20th Birthday, Quirk Books!

With the support of the publisher, Shelf Awareness celebrates the 20th anniversary of Quirk Books, the unconventional, high-impact publisher that is taking on some serious subjects while remaining true to its fun, entertaining pop culture roots.

Quirk Books: Top Twenty Giveaway

Books & Authors

A Welcome from Founder Dave Borgenicht

Dave Borgenicht

When we launched Quirk over 20 years ago, it was with the vision to Entertain, Amuse, and Inform—often all at the same time. Our name really told you what we were up to—publishing playful, subversive, and irreverent books that provided a gateway to useful and real information. I think it's fair to say that after over 450 quirky books published, 17 New York Times best sellers, 1,000 translation deals in almost 50 languages, and millions of zombies, vampires, peculiar children, babies, and kid legends served, we have proven to all that we are quite serious about that playful vision. And that sometimes, being playfully serious can make a big mark.

But we've never been a company to rest on our laurels. (How would you do that anyway? Laurels aren’t weight bearing.) At Quirk we've always used our successes as a platform to reach for new heights, to try new and interesting publishing experiments, to put new spins on evergreen subjects and genres, and to achieve a bigger and bigger impact. And we've always used the challenges we've faced to keep learning, to pivot, to do better, to evolve and change and grow.

Jhanteigh Kupihea

So, after 20 years, we've updated our original vision and mission—it's similar, but more ambitious, and yet still has that Quirky-fresh scent you have come to expect from us.

The Vision: Seriously Entertaining.

The Mission: Make a Big Impact with a Small List of Unconventional, Engaging, and Purpose-Driven Books.

To some degree, it's what we've always done when we've been at our best. It's why our titles have resonated with the culture, and inspired so many others to do similar work. But now, with the creative and seasoned leadership of Jhanteigh Kupihea and Nicole De Jackmo at the helm alongside me, I’m excited to see how big our impact can truly become—as we focus on publishing even more unconventional (but perhaps more purposeful and compelling) titles, and seeking new ways to widen our influence and reach.

Nicole De Jackmo

So I want to thank Jhanteigh and Nicole for being a key part of the continuing Quirk Books story. As well, I want to thank the real reason we continue to survive and thrive—the rest of our crack publishing A-team back in Philly. And I want to extend a huge thank you to all of you in this creative and vital industry for the many years of support, advice, partnership, promotion, and of course, sales.

I want to invite you all to please join us this fall as we celebrate our Seriously Entertaining future together.

–Dave Borgenicht, founder

Quirk Books: Resources

Big New Titles on the Way

Ghost Eaters by Clay McLeod Chapman (September 20, $20.99, 9781683692171).

In 2019, book, film and TV writer Clay McLeod Chapman made his horror debut with The Remaking, a true-crime-inspired tale that explores how the real-life horrors behind urban legends permeate and inform society and pop culture. Chapman's 2021 follow-up, Whisper Down the Lane, centered on the McMartin preschool trial and Satanic Panic of the 1980s that created a hysterical culture primed by paranoia to believe the unbelievable. Now, Chapman returns with Ghost Eaters, a propulsive page-turner that uses a supernatural form of addiction to reckon with the complicated legacy of the South and the darkest corners of our psyche.

Set in Richmond, Ghost Eaters is about a grieving 20-something who finds herself agreeing to a pill-popping seance that promises to reunite her with a friend she lost to addiction.

The consequences of opening a door to the dead are horrifying and will leave readers rushing to find out the haunting horrors of ghosts—whether they're real, imaginative, or memories of the injustices perpetrated by our ancestors.

Jhanteigh Kupihea, Quirk Books's senior v-p, publisher, calls Ghost Eaters "a perfect example of my ambitions for our fiction list. On its face, it's a high-concept horror novel that could be adapted into a Blumhouse movie, but it's essentially a meditation on addiction borne out of grief and the weight of history—both personal and political. It's an absolute page-turner—I think most horror and thriller readers will read it in two sittings and won't hesitate to describe it as fun, despite its weighty themes. But it's also substantial, purposeful, and has a lot to say about how we're currently negotiating all kinds of big cultural conversations right now. This is Clay's third book with Quirk Books and it's been a joy to see his readership grow and his mission catch on with the horror community. He's really setting the tone for our fiction list in general, which is less about mashing up genres and more about using the tropes of each genre we publish into to help us process the world we live in today."


What's Your Grief?: Lists to Help You Through Any Loss by Eleanor Haley, MS, and Litsa Williams, MA, LCSW-C (September 27, $19.99, 9781683693024)

At a time when people need to cope with even more disruptions and losses than usual, particularly because of the Covid-19 pandemic, What's Your Grief helps grievers examine and investigate the complex but universal experience of grief with 75 bite-sized, manageable lists. Mental health professionals Eleanor Haley, MS, and Litsa Williams, MA, LCSW-C guide readers through grief one step at a time, making an overwhelming experience digestible while sharing insights from their more than 24 years of combined professional experience, as well as lessons learned from the millions of readers who visit their website each year.

Nicole De Jackmo, Quirk Books's senior v-p, sales, marketing and publicity, calls What's Your Grief an example of a new kind of Quirk book that also has roots in the classic Quirk approach. "We've always done books rooted in pop culture and always somewhat unconventional," she says. "But that doesn't mean we can't take on bigger, more serious subjects." What's Your Grief was influenced by the pandemic, when founder Dave Borgenicht was pondering grief and noticed that most books on the subject are basic and "always have a sunset on the cover." This book, by contrast, focuses on all kinds of grief beyond the loss of a loved one—"any type of loss that puts you in a period of mourning and grief," De Jackmo continues. "We are still going to do fun, humorous books, but will be seriously entertaining and make an impact in whatever manner we can. This book will be impactful for people struggling with loss but it's not clinical."


How to Win the War on Truth: An Illustrated Guide to How Mistruths Are Sold, Why They Stick, and How to Reclaim Reality by Samuel C. Spitale, illustrated by Allan Whincup (October 25, $22.99, 9781683693086).

Jhanteigh Kupihea calls How to Win the War on Truth another Quirk title that's "tackling the biggest and most fraught of cultural conversations." The book is "essentially a guide to understanding what propaganda is and how the tools of propaganda have been exploited by American politicians and corporations since World War II, but it's presented in a highly accessible graphic format, which makes it perfect for Quirk's list. Big ideas are broken down into bite-sized, digestible pieces so that you can better absorb how and why we got to our current political moment, which is really just one long moment that's been building since Reagan. It's perfect for progressives who want to get their family and friends on board, liberal grown-ups who are a little sheepish to admit that they don't understand the political and financial mechanisms that have shaped our country, and older high school and college students who are learning about all of this for the first time."

Samuel C. Spitale is a writer with a Master's degree in Media Studies who frequently contributes to Huffington Post, Geek magazine, io9, and He has worked at Lucasfilm in global product development and as a managing editor in the publishing division. This is his first book.

Allan Whincup is a former art director who works as an illustrator and designer. His projects include logo design, character design, storyboarding, and creating assets for animation. He has also worked on games, CD covers, and comics.


The Worst-Case Scenario Handbook: Apocalypse... Now What? (Spring 2023)

Quirk founder Dave Borgenicht conceived and co-writes The Worst-Case Scenario Handbook series. For over 20 years, Quirk has been behind-the-scenes helping to package the series and despite the series' age, it's stronger than ever. This year the interactive museum exhibit that premiered in 2019 is back on the road touring nationally and The Worst-Case Scenario Card Game launched and became a Target bestseller. And in the Spring of 2023 Quirk will be publishing its first book in the series: The Worst-Case Scenario Handbook: Apocalypse...Now What?—a guide book to handling any catastrophic event one might encounter, with step-by-step instructions from real-life expert accompanied by the series' signature humor to lighten the mood.

Quirk Books's All-Time Biggest Titles

In 2003, The Baby Owner's Manual by Louis Borgenicht, M.D., and Joe Borgenicht became the first in an award-winning series that includes The Dog Owner's Manual, The Bride's Instruction Manual, and more. The Baby Owner's Manual was revised in 2012 and has sold more than 600,000 copies.

In 2008, Jokes Every Man Should Know by Don Steinberg was released, launching a top-selling series that includes Stuff Every Graduate Should Know, Stuff Every Cook Should Know, and Stuff Every Beer Snob Should Know. Stuff Every Man Should Know has sold more than 300,000 copies.

In 2009, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith was published and launched a series of bestselling Quirk Classics, including Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters and Dawn of the Dreadfuls, and paved the way for Quirk's current horror fiction program. More than one million copies of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies have been sold, and in 2016, Sony Pictures released the movie version of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, starring Lily James and Sam Riley, with Matt Smith, Charles Dance, and Lena Headey.

In 2011, Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs was published, becoming the first in the Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children series. Those three titles have sold more than 10 million copies. In 2016, 20th Century Fox released Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children in theaters, directed by Tim Burton and starring Eva Green, Asa Butterfield, Ella Purnell, Samuel L. Jackson, and Judi Dench. The film grossed more than $300 million worldwide.

In 2012, Quirk Books began middle grade publishing with the Tales from Lovecraft Middle School series. This series was followed by the award-winning Kid Legends and Nick and Tesla series and the lavishly illustrated Warren the 13th series.

In 2013, Quirk Books released its first mystery title, The Last Policeman by Ben H. Winters, which won the 2013 Edgar Award for best paperback original. The second book in the trilogy, Countdown City, won the Philip K. Dick Award for distinguished original science fiction paperback in 2014. World of Trouble, the third book in the series, was nominated for the 2015 Edgar Award for best paperback original.

In 2013, the William Shakespeare's Star Wars series made its public debut. Including William Shakespeare's Empire Striketh Back, William Shakespeare's The Jedi Doth Return and William Shakespeare's The Force Doth Awakens, the series has sold more than 800,000 copies.

Nick and Tesla's Super-Cyborg Gadget Glove written by "Science Bob" Pflugfelder and Steve Hockensmith was a 2015 Revere Awards finalist in the Beyond the Classroom Category and was nominated for the Edgar Award for best juvenile fiction.

In 2015, Quirk Books released Home Alone: The Classic Illustrated Story Book, the first of its Pop Classics, a children's picture book series that also includes Elf, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, The X-Files: Earth Children Are Weird and E.T. The Extra Terrestrial.

Paperbacks from Hell: The Twisted History of '70s and '80s Horror Fiction by Grady Hendrix won the 2017 Bram Stoker Award for superior achievement in non-fiction. Quirk Books has also published Grady Hendrix's genre busting horror novels My Best Friend's Exorcism (2017) and The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires (2020).

In 2018, Quirk Books published The Astrology of You and Me: How to Understand and Improve Every Relationship in Your Life by Gary Goldschneider, illustrated by Camille Chew.

In 2018, Hope Never Dies: An Obama Biden Mystery by Andrew Shaffer, featuring the laugh-out-loud bromantic chemistry between the President and Vice President, was an instant New York Times bestseller.

In 2019, the middle grade hardcover A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood written by Fred Rogers and illustrated by Luke Flowers was an instant New York Times bestseller.

Monster, She Wrote by Lisa Kröger and Melanie Anderson was a 2019 Bram Stoker Award winner for superior achievement in non-fiction and a 2020 Locus Award winner for non-fiction.

Thanking Booksellers, Librarians and Readers for 20 Great Years

Quirk debuted its first list in the fall of 2002, so the company is using this coming fall season to celebrate and thank retailers, librarians, booksellers, and readers for a great 20 years. It's putting together an anniversary giveaway item that will accompany a stock offer leading into the fall. Available through Quirk's distributor, Penguin Random House Publishers Services, the stock offer will give an additional discount on the company's top 20 bestsellers from the last 20 years--including titles like Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, The Baby's Owner Manual, and My Best Friend's Exorcism.

Quirk Books: What's Your Grief?: Lists to Help You Through Any Loss by Eleanor Haley and Litsa Williams

Quirk Books: Ghost Eaters by Clay McLeod Chapman

Quirk Books: Hunters of the Lost City by Kali Wallace

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