Hillcrest Media Group, which both publishes books as a traditional press and works with self-publishers, and Dunn Brothers Coffee, which specializes in premium coffees, are partnering to bring books by emerging authors to Dunn Brothers customers. The new venture, Coffeeandbooks.com, is an online bookstore with a presence in 50 or 60 of the approximately 80 Dunn Brothers coffee houses located around the country. Most of the coffee shops participating initially are located in Minnesota, with a few in Texas, Illinois, and Kansas also participating.

“With the surge of books available in the marketplace and the shrinking availability of shelf space at bookstores, many great books go undiscovered by readers,” Hillcrest Media marketing director Karina Taylor stated in a prepared statement,“Coffeeandbooks.com exposes readers to fantastic books that deserve to be noticed.”

Coffeeandbooks.com members will receive a coupon for a free cup of coffee upon registering at the website, and a $5 Dunn Brothers gift card for each book in either print or electronic formats purchased through Coffeehouseandbooks.com. Members also will receive discounts on coffee drinks and food, with free refills of brewed coffee. And they may reserve book club meeting space at participating Dunn Brothers coffee houses at a special rate.

Coffeeandbooks.com is launching with 14 titles from both traditional publishers and self-publishers. Besides one featured title prominently displayed on its Web site, Things That Are by Amy Leach (Milkweed Editions), there are five “member favorites” titles, including adult fiction, YA fiction, and memoir. Participating publishers include, to date, Milkweed Editions, with four titles; University of Minnesota Press, with two titles; and Hillcrest Media, with three titles that were published under both its traditional publishing division, the rest through its self-publishing division.

Book sales will be tracked during each two-month sales period; beginning November 1, the four top bestsellers during each sales period will receive prime placement in Dunn Brothers coffee shops; another four titles receiving shelf space during each two-month sales period will be featured titles from major publishers.

“In building a program like this, we need traditional publishers to give it credibility; at the same time, we want to provide opportunities to small presses and self-publishers to compete, to be on that shelf with a Milkweed book,” Mark Levine, Hillcrest Media’s president and CEO told PW, explaining that the company’s strategy of including books from both traditional publishers and self-publishers includes a careful vetting of all titles added to the program, with separate tracks for traditional and self-published releases. “If someone walks into Dunn Brothers and can tell the difference between the eight books, we haven’t done our job,” he added.

For a fee of $149, authors and publishers may submit their trade titles for consideration by Hillcrest Media personnel, led by editorial director Kate Ankofski, who previously worked as an editor at Simon & Schuster. Hillcrest demands a 55% discount on all accepted titles to be sold through the program. In addition, publishers or authors whose titles are accepted into the program are charged a first-year fee to list the book in up to three formats; the fee is based on the retail price of the book, and ranges between $699-$899. Renewal fees are $99 each year.

While Levine calls Dunn Brothers his “base” in launching Coffeeandbooks.com, Hillcrest Media is hoping to expand beyond Dunn Brothers to partner with other regional coffee houses with multiple locations.