A Conversation with Léonicka

Léonicka is a Title Analyst, which involves both selling books to major digital retailers and analyzing how specific titles are doing. Léonicka tracks sales over time and figures out what made them sell.


Q: Does volunteering in the Penguin Shop help you do your job better?

It’s nice to see how people talk about books, what questions they ask about books, what words they use to describe their favourite books, what they remember – like I had a customer come in and he gave me a book title and he was quite confident about it, but the title was wrong. So he used a synonym, I think it was like “walking” and he said “strolling” instead, and I was like “I’m not familiar with that book” and I was like looking for it, so just understanding what people remember, what’s memorable to them and in that way, that helps me and the rest of the company, I think, understand how to present to them in a way they’ll remember and be excited about.


Q: What is your favourite thing about the Penguin Shop?

A: I like that it flips! It’s my favourite thing. I love that because it’s so tiny and that we have the magnetic skins on the spines and the cool light-up back wall that every once in awhile we can flip the entire theme and it’s like it’s a new store.

That’s the magic, right? Being able to do that so quickly and have it completely change the feel of the store.

           Bawse BookstoreCanada 150 Takeover

Q: Why did you choose to volunteer in the Penguin Shop?

A: I like working with people. I think I chose to get into publishing because I love writers and I love readers, and my job is kind of in the middle, so that I don’t touch either one very closely.

I think readers think very differently about books than people who work in the industry do. And so it’s exciting to hear what they have to say and their perspectives and what attracts them to the bookstore.


Q: How does your job make you good at providing recommendations?

A: Well, a customer recently recommended that I watch the Outlander series. Which is a series based on the books that we have. I’ve definitely queued it up on Netflix because of that customer’s recommendation, even though my coworkers have been telling me about it for ages. It took a customer to say “yes it’s good” and I’m like “okay, I trust your opinion.”

I think sometimes everyone is talking about it in very general terms, but when you find a person to say “no, I think you, specifically, will like it for these specific reasons” that’s what catches you, right. And I think that’s what we try to do when we make recommendations to our customers too, we try to listen a lot to what they say about themselves, what they already like, what kind of movies and TV they already watch and try to make personalized recommendations, because those are more effective.


Q: Why do you think people should come to the Penguin Shop?

A: Oh, because it’s fun! It’s a really cool, central location. You can pop in, get yourself some great Penguin merch – I mean, who doesn’t love Penguin merch, right? And it’s a fun place to get your books while you’re in the city. There’s lots of fun places, but while you’re doing all your fun Toronto tourist activities, whether you’re from here or not, it’d be nice to visit Toronto’s littlest shop and pick up a book for somebody you love.


Q: What are you reading now?

A: I read Behold the Dreamers, an Oprah’s pick – it is also a Léonicka pick. Excellent. Really, really beautiful book.


Léonicka’s Staff Pick

“I have the Heidi – it’s so gorgeous. The Penguin Classics are kind of a trap. They’re so gorgeous and there’s so many of them that you just have to have them all, right? And they look better as a set, so you can’t just buy your favourite, you have to buy them all. So I’m in the process of collecting my favourites in all the different editions. The Pantone ones are kind of fun and cool and there’s the Drop Cap ones because you can spell out your name and stuff.”

Heidi by Johanna Spyri