Penguin News

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October 2015 Letter from Susan:

Dear Fans of the Penguin,

September was another stellar month for us.  We launched the Young Writers version of our Writers Series with Caroline Carlson; had a standing-room-only crowd for our Agent Night; had two packed houses for local authors Julie Long and Carolyn Menke as they celebrated their debut novels; and I had the pleasure of appearing on WESA's Essential Pittsburgh to talk about independent bookstores.  (Here's the link to the interview, if you are so inclined....  

October started off with a bang thanks to a visit from one of our favorite authors, Wiley Cash, hosted by Bethany College.  Wiley gave the audience a special gift: he read the first chapter of his upcoming book.  Even his editor hasn't read it yet!  It was brilliant.  If you come to our events, wonderfully unexpected things can happen....

Many more interesting events are coming up this month, so please check our events calendar at the store and on our website.  Note that we will be doing a "double-celebration" on October 29th when we welcome novelist Nick Courage to our Penguin Bookshop Young Writers Series and also have some birthday cake to celebrate the Penguin's 86th anniversary on that day.  

We are riding the wave of renewed interest and appreciation for local bookstores, and we are loving every minute!  Thanks for being a part of it all.

Happy Reading!

Susan & the Penguin Team


September 1, 2015

Dear Readers,

This last week we hosted two very different but equally interesting authors: cookbook author Juli Bauer and journalist-turned-novelist Jennifer Steil.  We had over 30 attendees for Juli's event, with people coming from as far away as Baltimore.  Jennifer, a guest of our writers series, was absolutely fascinating. Not only did she read from her new novel (The Ambassador's Wife -- a staff favorite), but she talked about her career path and gave our audience some excellent and very useful writing tools.

Please check out all the great events we have coming up for fall.  We all have such busy lives and it's often hard to carve out the time but, if you come, I guarantee you will be glad you did!  (Or your money back -- oh wait, these events are FREE!!).

Over the summer, the Penguin was featured in both The New York Times and the Pittsburgh Tribune, a testament to all of the great things we are doing. Every day we strive to be the best community bookstore that we can be, and to add value to your book-buying experience.  

Looking forward to a wonderful fall.  We invite all of you to join Mary, Kristin and me under the tree on Tuesday, September 8th to share a glass of wine and talk about all the new fall releases that we are so excited about!  

Happy Reading!

Susan & the Penguin Team

August 1, 2015

Dear Readers,

The summer is winding down, the air and the light feel different, the cicadas are making lots of noise, and we feel the anticipation of a new school year.  Here at the Penguin, we are busy making plans for fall, with several exciting events in the works (check out our website and events calendar!) while still hosting some wonderful summer activities.  

It has been a great summer indeed, thanks in no small part to Harper Lee.  Our midnight release party for GO SET A WATCHMAN was well-attended -- we had customers from near and far.  Check out the July 14th edition of The New York Times, where they mention Penguin Bookshop along with Harper Lee's hometown bookshop, Ol' Curiosities.  The book continues to be our bestselling title.  Thomas & Quinn, our student booksellers,  were the first staff members to read it. Both agree that the book holds its own and that it is a fascinating exploration of the complicated relationship between Atticus and Scout.  If you have read the book and are interested in discussing it with other readers, please join us on August 20th at 6:00PM at the Sewickley Public Library for a pot-luck, community book discussion.  

Other interesting events happening at the Penguin this month include Juli Bauer, here on Wednesday, August 26th, to talk about her Paleo Cookbook; and journalist and debut novelist (The Ambassador's Wife) Jennifer Steil will be here the day after, on August 27th,  as part of our Penguin Bookshop Writers Series, presenting "Fact To Fiction: Using A Journalist's Eye To Bring Your Story Life".   

We will also be celebrating our very successful SUMMER READING CHALLENGE with a party for all participants at noon on Friday, August 21st.  Please join us as we present the awards for the winners in each reading category.  

In the fall, we will be starting our events at 6:30pm, in order to give people a bit more time to arrive after work, etc.  Look for the launch of the PENGUIN BOOKSHOP YOUNG WRITERS SERIES for middle grade and young adult aspiring writers and avid readers with Penguin Bookshop favorite, Caroline Carlson, as well as many other not-to-be-missed events!

Having just returned from a family vacation, I want to thank Mary and our entire staff for keeping the bookstore humming with activity this past week.  A bookstore is only as good as the people who work there, and the Penguin is so lucky to have such a talented and hard-working staff.  We hope everyone who has been  traveling or who will still be taking a summer vacation,  travels well and returns safely.

Last but not least, stop by the afternoon of August 21st to wish Kate Madison, our Social Media & Advertising Coordinator, a fond farewell.  Kate is entering the library science program at Pitt this fall.  We will be very sorry to see her go and she will be missed, but we are also so happy to see her take this exciting step in her literary life!  Good luck, Kate!

Susan & the Penguin Team

July 1, 2015

Dear Penguin Supporters,

Rain, rain, go away....but who really cares about the weather if you can go spend your time inside a cozy (dry) bookshop!  Stop by this month...we have some wonderful things happening:

*Go Find Waldo all through the month!  Stop in with your kids and register. Party on July 31st.
*BEER TASTING with Mark Brewer who will sign copies of his book, BREWOLOGY, on July 8th.
*BE A PART OF LITERARY HISTORY!!  Stop in at midnight, July 13th, to pick up your copy of Harper Lee's GO SET A WATCHMAN.  All day on the 14th will be "Harper Lee Day" -- tea cakes and lemonade will be on hand.  Make sure you reserve your first edition!
*PENGUIN BOOKSHOP WRITERS SERIES continues with our 3rd guest, JONATHAN AUXIER, coming on Thurs. July 23rd, to present MASTERING THE ART OF MIDDLE GRADE FICTION.

In the fall, look for the launch of the PENGUIN BOOKSHOP YOUNG WRITERS SERIES for middle grade and young adult aspiring writers and avid readers; and, TREESIDE CHATS WITH SUSAN, where we will discuss what we're reading, trends, and any other book-related topics that come up.

Thanks for your continued support -- Go Indies!

Susan & the Penguin Team

June 1, 2015

Happy Summer!

Looking forward to June after a very event-filled May here at the Penguin. I just returned from my 3rd BEA in NYC...some highlights: Jonathan Franzen talking about his new book, Purity (fall 2015); Diana Nyad talking about her new memoir (omg she's amazing!); and, of course, seeing all of my friends at the other Penguin, Penguin Random House.  It is always an emotional boost to be in an environment that is focused on books, bookselling, and that honors and appreciates independent bookstores.

Mary and I had a wonderful time hosting DEBORAH HARKNESS with our friends at the Shady Side Academy Hillman Center for Performing Arts on May 31st. At one point after the Q&A, a member of the audience raised her hand and said, "I just want to thank you for hosting this event. It's been great and so well organized."  Deborah Harkness said she had never, in all of her years touring, witnessed that kind of spontaneous praise from an audience member. "Your bookstore must be beloved," she said. Indeed, it truly is. And we thank Christa, Sarah and the entire staff at the Hillman for their professionalism and generosity.

We had over 100 people in the store for the PITTSBURGH DADS signing...we still have signed copies on hand so stop by and pick one up -- perfect Father's Day gift!

So much to look forward to in the coming months! Ladies, put down the serious lit for one night and come to our EVENING OF GREY -- MIDNIGHT RELEASE PARTY for the highly-secretive, 4th installment of the 50 Shades series, this one told from Christian's point of view!  They kept this book under lock and key until the very last minute. That will set you up to go literary by participating in SEWICKLEY READS HARPER LEE with TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD and GO SET A WATCHMAN.  Stay up all night reading WATCHMAN after joining us for its MIDNIGHT RELEASE PARTY on July 13th.

Our highly-anticipated PENGUIN BOOKSHOP WRITERS SERIES got off to a fantastic start with Kristin Bair O'Keeffe, and continues with Jessica Merchant (June) and Jonathan Auxier (July).  The fall will welcome an "agent night" as well as a "careers in publishing" night. Stay tuned for dates.  

Our SUMMER READING CHALLENGE, which was such a hit last year, is launching next week (Mary is working on the poster as I write this!)....and so much more. 

Stay tuned, keep reading, and thanks for keepin' it local,
Susan & the Penguin Team

May 1, 2015

Happy Independent Bookstore Day!

This Saturday, May 2nd, the Penguin Bookshop, along with independent bookstores across the country, will celebrate the first Independent Bookstore Day.   How exciting that we, as a country, are recognizing the value of bricks-and-mortar stores in our increasingly internet-centered world.

But as trends are ever-changing and individual bookstores come and go, isn't it amazing to think that our town has sustained a bookstore for over 85 years?!  How is this even possible?  The answer: the loyalty of our town and surrounding community.

We must always pay tribute to the Penguin's original founders -- oh how I wish I could talk to them today -- so many questions!  And Margaret Marshall who stayed the course for over 25 years.  And Janet McDanel who invested so much in re-creating the Penguin for a different era.

Several owners, several locations.  But the one constant has been: Sewickley's and the surrounding community of customers' commitment to keeping a bookstore in their town.  

The world is changing faster than ever before.  We cannot control the economic climate or the forces working against us. We can only focus on being the best possible store we can be, with great books, interesting events, and excellent customer service.  

The Penguin was around long before I arrived, and I hope it will be around long after I am gone.  But the bottom line is: it will be around for as long as its community of customers wants it here.  I do hope that will be a very long time.

Thanks for supporting the Penguin for over 85 years,

Susan & the Penguin Team

April 1, 2015

Dear Friends of the Penguin,

Is it spring yet?  Well, things are blooming at the Penguin, at least.

We have such an exciting April in store:  National Poetry Month, with three wonderful and very different poets – Fred Shaw, Celeste Gainey and Richard St. John; The Gallery Walk, with Open Mic Night; authors Philip Beard and Susan Mann Flanders; our Self-Published Author day; and Shakespeare Saturday with a special Children’s Storytime and Shakespearian actor Mark Staley performing later in the afternoon.

And for May, don’t forget to mark your calendars for several special events:  May 14th, the launch of our PENGUIN BOOKSHOP WRITERS SERIES with Kristin Bair O’Keefe conducting her writing workshop, WRITERHEADDEBORAH HARKNESS at the Shady Side Academy Hillman Center on Sunday, May 31st -- remember to go on-line and purchase your tickets!

Everyone on the Penguin Bookshop team continues to work hard to create interesting events, provide great customer service, and to keep the tradition of independent bookselling alive and well in Sewickley and Pittsburgh.

Keep reading and, as always, thanks for keepin’ it local,

Susan & the Penguin Team

March 1, 2015

Dear Friends of the Penguin,

Spring is in the air!  (Well, at least hope springs eternal). New books are arriving, interesting author events are on the horizon, the Penguin Bookshop Writers Series will be launching soon, and things continue to look up for independent bookstores in general. 

To our many ardent supporters, we thank you for coming in and buying your books from the Penguin, even in these cold, dark days of winter.  There is an equally vital part of being a Penguin supporter, however: helping us educate others about the importance of shopping locally. On-line shopping (often at high discounts, especially for books) has become a way of life, a habit, and it certainly has its uses and advantages.   All we ask is that community members keep their local businesses in mind and make at least some of their purchases right here in town. Having unique stores and restaurants in a community make it a better, more desirable place to live.  We know you agree, so we ask you: please spread the word!

As the weather gets warmer and the sun begins to shine brighter, we hope to see more and more of you shopping in the store and attending our exciting events.  In the meantime, we continue to work very hard to make the Penguin the very best bookstore we can be, to make it a place you value and enjoy visiting, and to serve our community well. 

Hope to see you at the Penguin soon!

Susan & the Penguin Team 

February 1, 2015

Dear Penguin Customers,

We are on the eve of our first-year anniversary in our new location (February 5th) - hard to believe a year has gone by! It has been a wonderful year and we are so appreciative of all the support we have received. Please stop by on Thursday, February 5th and say hello and pick up a special treat.

We are very excited to announce the launch of a new series we are starting in the coming weeks, the Penguin Bookshop Writers Series (PBWS). Over the course of 2015, the Penguin Bookshop Writers Series will present authors and publishing professionals who will discuss aspects of both the art and the business of writing. The format will range from hands-on workshops to lectures and panel discussions. The goal of PBWS is to unite published writers with aspiring writers, aspiring writers with publishing professionals, and curious readers interested in the author's craft with professional writers. Most events will be held on a single weekday evening, and will either be free or require a nominal fee. We already have a roster filled with local authors, NY editors, and literary agents. Stay tuned for specific dates!!

Last, I am thrilled to welcome a new staff member to the Penguin team, Kim Wynnyckyj (Vin-its-ky). Kim will be on board as our Events & Community Outreach Coordinator. Kim was previously the Marketing Team Leader at Whole Foods in Pittsburgh's East Liberty location. Among her many accomplishments, Kim created the first urban garden in the region, setting the standard for all other stores to follow suit. Her launch of the Summer Dinner Series program with local chefs was the first of its kind in the Pittsburgh region. We are looking forward to Kim's creating many successful author and community events for the Penguin and building upon our strong reputation as a community resource for interesting people and interesting ideas. If you have an idea for an event, feel free to reach out to Kim at

Thank you for your continued support and remember the Indie Bookstore motto:


Happy Reading,

Susan & the Penguin Team

January 1, 2015

Happy New Year!

A sincere thank you from all of us here at the Penguin to each and every one of you who came into the store and supported us this past year.  You have proven that, no matter its location, the Penguin Bookshop is a valued community asset, and one that people want to keep around!  As I have said again and again, these are not easy times for independent bookstores.  Yet, as stores like ours become rarer and rarer, it seems that awareness of and appreciation for what Indie bookstores offer to a community's quality of life is increasing.  

Our mission in 2015 will continue to be...

--to provide great customer service and a high-quality and well-curated selection of new books for adults, teens, and children;

--to host interesting author and community events;

--to make sound financial decisions that enable us to be a sustainable business for the long-term

Thank you for joining us on this mission.

We look forward to an exciting 2015 full of interesting books and authors.

Hope to see you at the store soon,

Susan & the Penguin Team