Shelf Awareness for Tuesday, March 6, 2018


Red Lightning Books: Pence: The Path to Power by Andrea Neal

Experiment: Introducing My Big Wimmelbooks - These oversize board books invite kids to be the storyteller

Other Press: Quicksand by Malin Persson Giolito

Counterpoint: Silicon States: The Power and Politics of Big Tech and What It Means for Our Future by Lucie Greene

Bloomsbury Publishing: Visit Bloomsbury at BookExpo & BookCon (Booth #2439)!

Oxmoor House: Martina's Kitchen Mix: My Recipe Playlist for Real Life by Martina McBride

News

Sherman Alexie Accusers Go on the Record with NPR

Sherman Alexie

Three women have gone on the record with NPR's All Things Considered--and at least seven others have spoken off the record with the show--about author Sherman Alexie's abusive treatment of them, confirming the anonymous and somewhat vague allegations that have been made recently online.

All Things Considered said that Alexie's behavior had "a clear pattern... The women reported behavior ranging from inappropriate comments both in private and in public, to flirting that veered suddenly into sexual territory, unwanted sexual advances and consensual sexual relations that ended abruptly. The women said Alexie had traded on his literary celebrity to lure them into uncomfortable sexual situations."

In each case, Alexie expressed an interest in the woman's writing, which vanished or became negligible after sexual interactions or attempts at sexual interactions. In one case, he bragged to a woman in front of others at a dinner that he could have sex with her "if he wanted to"--and at a later dated invited her to his hotel room. In other cases, he abruptly approached them physically, wanting to kiss them and have sex with them. Several of the women--at least two of those who went on the record are Native American--said they feared that Alexie, who was beloved in the Native American literary community, would ruin their careers.

Last week, Alexie issued a statement in response to online comments that said, in part, "Over the years, I have done things that have harmed other people, including those I love most deeply. To those whom I have hurt, I genuinely apologize. I am so sorry.... There are women telling the truth about my behavior and I have no recollection of physically or verbally threatening anybody or their careers. That would be completely out of character. I have made poor decisions and I am working hard to become a healthier man who makes healthier decisions. Again, I apologize to the people I have hurt. I am genuinely sorry."

As of last week, the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, N.Mex., has renamed its Sherman Alexie Scholarship the MFA Alumni Scholarship. And Debbie Reese, editor of American Indians in Children's Literature, has removed Alexie's photo from the AICL's gallery of Native writers and illustrators.


Mandevilla Press: Assassins by Mike Bond


Booksellers Struggle with Author Allegations

As allegations of sexual harassment and sexual misconduct have surfaced in recent weeks against authors like Sherman Alexie, Daniel Handler, Jay Asher and more, independent booksellers have been left trying to process what that means for the industry and for their stores. Shelf Awareness has reached out to indies from around the country to get a better understanding of how they're responding to these changes.

Lissa Muscatine and Bradley Graham

In Washington, D.C., Politics & Prose Bookstore co-owners Bradley Graham and Lissa Muscatine have not pulled any books nor made any sort of official statement since the allegations came to light, but reported that towards the end of last year they did decide to cancel events with authors who had been accused of sexual misconduct. The decisions were made after consulting with those authors' publicists and publishers. The sexual misconduct allegations have been discussed at meetings with senior staff, though the topic has not come up at all in conversations with customers.

On the possibility of pulling books by an accused author, Graham said that while P&P has a policy of not carrying books containing things like hate speech, he did not think it was the store's position to "stand in judgement of the personal actions of authors" and then make decisions on what is carried in the store "based on that kind of consideration." He did acknowledge, however, that there was a distinction between carrying a book and choosing to promote a book, whether that be through an author event, a spot in a window display or a prominent place in store.

Muscatine said that in the event of an accused author coming out with a new book, P&P staff would have to "look at these case by case." She emphasized that they take these issues incredibly seriously, and did not want to "play judge" until all the facts are known. One thing that has been discussed internally in the past but never implemented, she continued, was the possibility of donating a portion of proceeds from an author who has done something "we think crosses a line" to a cause related to remedying "whatever that ill was."

John Evans

At DIESEL, a bookstore in Brentwood and Larkspur, Calif., co-owner John Evans said that he makes a "pretty strong divide" between "the work and the author," and envisions the bookstore as a place that provides readers access to the "whole, wide range" of human experience, however ugly some of that may be. He emphasized that carrying a book does not mean the store advocates for the author of that book or even the book itself necessarily, and added that he would rather see someone go through the legal system, suffer the consequences of their actions and serve their time than see everything they've ever written be censored or erased.

"Who am I to say who can or can't read something," Evans wondered.

While he would not pull the books of accused writers like Sherman Alexie from the shelves, Evans said he would leave it up to booksellers to remove any shelf-talkers on his books if they felt compelled to do so. He noted that should any of the accused authors continue to publish books, booksellers would face not only the ethical question of choosing whether to host them at all but also pragmatic considerations: if an author who could once easily draw 200 people could now draw only 20, and they're all outraged by him, would an event even be worth the resources? Providing such an author with a platform through which he could defend himself, Evans continued, would also mean getting yourself and your store into the "reputation business."

Pam Cady

Pam Cady, manager of the general book department at University Book Store in Seattle, Wash., said that in terms of store policy, she could relay only that she and other staff members are having "an ongoing conversation" about how to respond to the various allegations. No books have been pulled or statements issued, and Cady said that "as the conversation evolves, we're evaluating our policies." She added: "We haven't come up with any one way to deal with any of it. We're doing our best to talk to customers about it." She also described the situation as "uncharted territory," with no similar experience in bookselling to which she could point.

But speaking personally, she said she and her staff are "heartsick" about the allegations. "It's so troubling and disturbing," continued Cady. "In many cases the people being talked about are huge independent bookstore supporters."

When it came to talking about the issues with customers, Cady explained that no one has asked for any sort of censorious action like pulling books from the shelves. Rather, people seem to be reaching out to booksellers as a way to wrap their heads around what's going on. "People are so discouraged and troubled by it," said Cady. "We're all kind of reeling."

Suzanna Hermans

Suzanna Hermans, co-owner of Oblong Books & Music in Rhinebeck and Millerton, N.Y., said the allegations against Handler, Alexie and others have not been mentioned by her customers, though she and staff members are talking about it internally. She has not pulled any books, explaining that she does not generally "pull books from my shelf unless the book is being officially recalled by the publisher," and tends to feel it is not appropriate for her to pull books for that kind of reason. She added that while she doesn't believe carrying a book means that she vouches for the personal behavior of the author, an author's actions would be a factor in choosing whether to stock their future work and in what quantity.

"We don't take this stuff lightly," said Hermans. "You can't be a person like this and not expect some repercussions."

Hermans said she felt "extremely disappointed" in all of the accused authors and thought of this sort of behavior as something that is "a problem in every business in America," and "not unique to the book community or even the entertainment industry." The discussion of sexual harassment and misconduct in the book world, she continued, has become part of a larger, cultural conversation about "changing attitudes and behaviors in every industry."

"We probably haven't seen the end of what's to come," Hermans said. "Speaking about this stuff is essential."

Suzy Takacs

In the wake of the allegations against Alexie, Handler and other authors, Suzy Takacs and her team at The Book Cellar in Chicago, Ill., have decided to create an official code of conduct for their Chicago Young Adult Book Festival, which they've held annually for the last few years. Takacs had few specifics to share about the code of conduct, as it is still being formulated, but said it would apply to everyone attending the fair, including visitors and authors. She's sent a rough draft of the code of conduct to a lawyer, to make sure everything was acceptable and above board. She hopes to keep it simple and to cover expectations of behavior and include information about who someone can speak to if they feel uncomfortable while at the fair.

On a personal level, Takacs said that watching authors who have been such proponents of independent bookstores get accused of sexual harassment has been "heartbreaking." She found out about the various allegations from her staff members, and Takacs reported that it has led to many conversations among staff members about what is and isn't appropriate when it comes to interacting with authors at events: Is it okay to hug an author? Is it okay for an author to touch a bookseller on the shoulder? She said they "haven't come up with any answers."

Takacs also suggested that Penguin Random House or another large publisher could take the lead in creating codes of conduct for their authors to follow while at book events or book fairs. --Alex Mutter


School of Life: Why You Will Marry the Wrong Person: A Pessimist's Guide to Marriage, Offering Insight, Practical Advice, and Consolation by The School of Life, edited by Alain de Botton


Obituary Note: Russ Solomon

Russ Solomon, the charismatic, hard-driving, smart and funny founder and longtime head of Tower Records and Tower Books, died on Sunday at age 92. He left in a way that seemed appropriate, which the Sacramento Bee captured in the headline of its obituary yesterday: "Founder of Tower Records dies at 92 while drinking whiskey and watching the Oscars."

His son, Michael Solomon, told the Bee: "Ironically, he was giving his opinion of what someone was wearing that he thought was ugly, then asked [his wife] Patti to refill his whiskey. When she returned, he had died."

Tower Records were iconic stores, which began in Sacramento in 1960, then spread across the country and around the world, with branches as far away as London, Tokyo and Singapore. The stores sold some books, and there were a few freestanding Tower Books locations. The company also sold videos. At its height in the 1990s, the company had 200 stores and sales of more than $1 billion a year.

As the Bee noted, Solomon was a retail pioneer and "operated on a philosophy that was obvious to him but extraordinary for its day: Build big stores and pack them with as much music as possible."

Unfortunately for Tower, in the early '90s, superstores then became the rage in a variety of categories. In the book world, Borders and Barnes & Noble expanded across the country. Then Amazon opened, and soon digital downloading of music became popular. Tower, which had expanded rapidly and had high debt, began to have serious problems. The company closed in 2006, although a few franchise operations continue in business internationally.

All Things Must Pass, a documentary by actor Colin Hanks about Tower that starred Solomon, was released in 2015.

Famously in the Tower headquarters lobby, Solomon had a collection of ties that he had cut off dressed-up visitors; attached to the ties were the former owners' business cards.

Many people in the book business who worked for Tower remembered Solomon yesterday. Paul Harrington wrote: "I have a fondness for the fellow because in a real way he made me the bookman I am today. I've always seen the role of publishers and booksellers as transmitters of ideas. We provide access to readers to writers' works. Tower stores were open late in a town that went to sleep early and gave me access to ideas of culture and more that would not have been otherwise easily accessible. Working for Tower gave me physical access to all of that and, most importantly, the things I learned there and people I met in those years formed the basis of the career I've built since. I'll be raising a glass of whiskey or two for years to come in the man's honor. Access is everything, baby!"

And Megan Zusne wrote: "Thanks to Tower Records, to Russ Solomon, I experienced a book career of a lifetime! And now, heavily involved in the music business (and even living in a city and state that has never had a Tower store), I carry a certain cachet, since EVERYONE seems to have heard of Tower Records and its reputation as the hippest place to work on the planet. Thank you, Russ Solomon."


Soho Teen: Zen and Gone by Emily France


B&N Launches National Book Club

Barnes & Noble has launched the Barnes & Noble Book Club, a national book club that will meet seasonally at the company's 632 stores to discuss "some of the greatest books being published." The book club meetings, all held on the same day, will be led by B&N booksellers and feature "exclusive content and special in-store promotions for book club members."

The book club's first pick is The Female Persuasion by Meg Wolitzer, which will be published by Riverhead Books on April 3. The B&N Book Club meetings about the novel will be held on Wednesday, May 2, 6-7 p.m., local time.

Liz Harwell, director of merchandising, commented: "Meg Wolitzer's The Interestings firmly established her as one of the most important writers of our time, and The Female Persuasion further cements her importance with a timely story about a young woman who meets a mentor that changes her life. The Female Persuasion is a must read of the year."

B&N is offering customers an exclusive edition of the book that includes a reading group guide and an essay by the author. Book Club participants on May 2 will receive a free regular, tall, hot or iced coffee and one free cookie from the café, and one signed copy of the book will be given away. Customers are asked to sign up at the customer service counter in store to participate.

On May 2, Wolitzer will appear at B&N's Upper West Side store in New York City for a discussion, q&a and book signing.


Shelf Awareness Giveaway: Between You and Me by Susan Wiggs


Binc, AdventureKEEN Return with 'Shop Local, Live Local All Year Long'

The Book Industry Charitable Foundation and publisher AdventureKEEN are teaming up again for a new, year-long version of the Shop Local, Live Local program. Designed to support independent booksellers through Binc as well as encourage readers to pursue healthy outdoor activities near their homes, last year's program saw AdventureKEEN donate 100% of profits generated by sales of their titles at independent bookstores during the month of June to Binc. This year, indies can sign up for an entire year and earn a 3% rebate and a matching 3% donation to Binc based on purchases of AdventureKEEN titles via PGW/IPS.

In order to get the year-long benefits of the program, booksellers need to sign up by March 31; enrollments after March 31 will earn prorated donations and rebates. And to help booksellers find guidebooks relevant to them, AdventureKEEN has put together state-by-state Edelweiss catalogues.


Notes

Image of the Day: Steve Almond Tells Bad Stories

Ingram rep Stacie Williams hosted a bookseller dinner Sunday night in Newton, Mass., for Steve Almond and his forthcoming book, Bad Stories: What the Hell Just Happened to Our Country (Red Hen, April). Pictured: (l.-r.) Josh Christie, Print: A Bookstore; Stacie Williams, IPS; Ben Paul, Harvard Bookstore; Jane Knight, Bear Pond Books; Steve Almond, author; Nikki Siclare, Newtonville Books; Kate Gale, managing editor, Red Hen; Nick Petrulakis, Brookline Booksmith; Josh Cook, Porter Square Books; and Claire Benedict, Bear Pond Books.


NYC's Kitchen Arts & Letters: 'Go-to Bookstore for Star Chefs'

Kitchen Arts & Letters on Manhattan's Upper East Side is is "the go-to bookstore for star chefs," according to WABC's "Simply New York" series, which noted that the shop "has more than 12,000 books, ranging from modern-day cookbooks to international titles to food magazines--and plenty more.... Since opening in 1983, customers have included famous chef Julia Child, cookbook author James Beard and Michelin Star chefs."


Personnel Changes at Abrams; Scribner

At Abrams adult trade:

Paul Colarusso has been promoted to marketing director. He was formerly associate marketing director.

Kim Sheu has been promoted to marketing manager. She was formerly associate marketing manager.

Kimberly Lew has joined the company as marketing manager, adult trade, and will handle Abrams Press and other text-driven titles. She formerly worked at St. Martin's Press.

---

Effective March 12, Amanda Pelletier is joining Scribner as a senior publicist. She has been a publicist at HarperCollins.


Media and Movies

Media Heat: Maria Shriver, Kathie Lee Gifford on Dr. Oz

Today:
Dr. Oz: Maria Shriver, author of I've Been Thinking . . .: Reflections, Prayers, and Meditations for a Meaningful Life (Pamela Dorman, $20, 9780525522607).

Tomorrow:
Dr. Oz: Kathie Lee Gifford, author of The Rock, the Road, and the Rabbi: My Journey into the Heart of Scriptural Faith and the Land Where It All Began (Thomas Nelson, $24.99, 9780785215967).

Late Night with Seth Meyers: Hoda Kotb, author of I've Loved You Since Forever (HarperCollins, $18.99, 9780062841742).

Daily Show: Terese Marie Mailhot, author of Heart Berries: A Memoir (Counterpoint, $23, 9781619023345).


TV: Discworld Series The Watch

"Terry Pratchett fans may want to stay close to a television screen over the next couple of years," Deadline advised in reporting that the late author's classic Discworld book series "has become his latest work to be snapped up for a small screen adaptation. BBC Studios is developing a six-part series based on the long-running epic novel series."

Simon Allen (Strike Back, The Musketeers) is writing the series, which has a working title of The Watch, and BBC Studios is "looking to set up the show as a returnable franchise," Deadline wrote, adding that BBC is "eyeing the adaptation as a major international co-production. It is co-producing the series with Narrativia, the production company founded by Pratchett in 2012 and now run with Pratchett's daughter Rhianna and his former business manager Rob Wilkins."



Books & Authors

Awards: CWA Diamond Dagger; Aspen Words Shortlist

The Crime Writers' Association named U.S. author Michael Connelly this year's recipient of its highest honor, the CWA Diamond Dagger, which recognizes authors whose careers have been marked by sustained excellence; and who have "made a significant contribution to crime writing published in the English language, whether originally or in translation." He will be honored during the CWA's Dagger Awards ceremony in London on October 25. Previous winners of the CWA Diamond Dagger include P.D. James, John Le Carré, Dick Francis, Ruth Rendell, Lee Child, Ann Cleeves and Ian Rankin.

CWA chair Martin Edwards said Connelly’s novels "have won international acclaim for more than a quarter century, and have given readers, television viewers, and film fans rich entertainment. A combination of wonderful characters, vivid settings, and gripping storylines characterises his work. The CWA is delighted to celebrate his achievements with the award of the Diamond Dagger."

Connelly commented: "How can a writer who writes about a guy trying make sense of things in Los Angeles ever expect to receive recognition from such a fine group from so far away? It's beyond anything I could have imagined, and I am very honored and humbled."

---

The shortlist for the inaugural Aspen Words Literary Prize, a $35,000 award for a work of fiction with social impact, is:

What It Means When a Man Falls from the Sky by Lesley Nneka Arimah
What We Lose by Zinzi Clemmons
Exit West by Mohsin Hamid
Mad Country by Samrat Upadhyay
Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward

Winners will be announced on April 10 in New York City at a ceremony where all the finalists will participate in a panel.


Reading Group Choices' Most Popular February Books

The two most popular books in February at Reading Group Choices were The Lost Girls of Camp Forevermore by Kim Fu (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) and A Piece of the World by Christina Baker Kline (Morrow).


Book Review

Review: (((Semitism))): Being Jewish in America in the Age of Trump

(((Semitism))): Being Jewish in America in the Age of Trump by Jonathan Weisman (St. Martin's Press, $25.99 hardcover, 256p., 9781250169938, March 20, 2018)

When the history of his presidency is written, Donald Trump surely will hope that his inexplicable response to the violence sparked by racist and anti-Semitic demonstrators that occurred in Charlottesville, Va., on August 12, 2017, is not one of the defining moments. In (((Semitism))): Being Jewish in America in the Age of Trump, New York Times deputy Washington editor Jonathan Weisman (No. 4 Imperial Lane) delivers a concise but penetrating analysis of the rise of an anti-Semitic alt-right that has coincided with Trump's political ascendancy. And he offers a constructive prescription for countering what he calls a "new movement of prejudice and hate largely born in the invisible fever swamp of the Internet, now present in the flesh."

Though he had a bar mitzvah ceremony in his native Atlanta, Weisman admits he had become "largely disconnected from Jewish life and faith." It came as a shock to him, then, in May 2016, when one of his tweets about the potential rise of authoritarianism in democratic societies drew a response that branded him with the "echoes" punctuation that's featured in the title of his book. Those parentheses have become a means for the alt-right (a name coined by one of its key figures, Richard Spencer) to identify on social media those they suspect of being Jewish. 

Given its brevity, (((Semitism))) doesn't purport to be an exhaustive treatment of the rise of this odious movement. Weisman chooses, instead, to focus much of his attention on the frighteningly effective use of assorted online resources by people he describes as "technologically savvy, self-promotional, and absolutely vicious" to target and harass their opponents. One of the most disturbing such incidents involves the neo-Nazi troll attack on Jewish realtor Tanya Gersh, who had the misfortune to deal with Spencer's mother in Whitefish, Mont., where the movement's headquarters is located.

But Weisman frankly concedes that for all the unease among American Jews about the far right's muscle flexing since Trump's election, "anti-Semitism is not the worst affliction to beset the United States in the Trump era," at least not when compared to such outrages as physical assaults on Muslim Americans or the reversals of gay and transgender rights. That leads him to argue that Jews, rather than hunkering down and hoping this wave of bigotry will pass like a summer thunderstorm, need to make common cause with these oppressed groups to build "alliances against hate." He urges a "conscious move away from the Israel obsession of the largest Jewish institutions and a recognition that tribalism is leading Jewry into a box canyon crowded with some unsavory characters from the ethno-nationalist movement."

The rationale underlying Weisman's proposed response, if not necessarily the response itself, is likely to set off a lively debate within the American Jewish community. If it prompts a clear-eyed counter movement to these new agents of hate, he will have performed a valuable public service with this book. --Harvey Freedenberg, freelance reviewer

Shelf Talker: Journalist Jonathan Weisman exposes the tactics of the alt-right and offers a prescription for combating them.


The Bestsellers

Top-Selling Self-Published Titles

The bestselling self-published books last week as compiled by IndieReader.com:

1. Gentleman Nine by Penelope Ward
2. Nobody Does It Better (Masters and Mercenaries Book 15) by Lexi Blake
3. Change of Fortune (A Miss Fortune Mystery Book 11) by Jana DeLeon
4. Gaslight (Crossbreed Series Book 4) by Dannika Dark
5. Driving Whiskey Wild by Melissa Foster
6. Reckless by Lex Martin
7. Happy Endings Book Club Boxed Set Books 1-3 by Kylie Gilmore
8. Eulogy (Eagle Elite Book 9) by Rachel Van Dyken
9. One Last Time by Corinne Michaels
10. The Worst Best Man by Lucy Score

[Many thanks to IndieReader.com!]


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