Shelf Awareness for Friday, February 7, 2014

Overlook Press: Bad Men by Julie Mae Cohen

Shadow Mountain: Highcliffe House (Proper Romance Regency) by Megan Walker

Simon & Schuster: Register for the Simon & Schuster Fall Preview!

Avid Reader Press / Simon & Schuster: The Ministry of Time Kaliane Bradley

Akaschic Books, Ltd: Go the Fuck to Sleep Series by Adam Mansbach, Illustrated by Ricardo Cortés

Tommy Nelson: You'll Always Have a Friend: What to Do When the Lonelies Come by Emily Ley, Illustrated by Romina Galotta

Quotation of the Day

'Nothing Has Ever Meant This Much'

"Nothing I've done has ever meant this much to me." 

--B.J. Novak, star of The Office, comedian, Harvard graduate and now author, speaking at the launch party for his new book, One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories (Knopf), on Tuesday night in New York City.

BINC: Do Good All Year - Click to Donate!


General Retail Sales in January: Gains 'Chilled' by Weather

Cold weather and winter storms in the eastern half of the U.S. "chilled sales for many retailers in January," the Wall Street Journal reported. For the month, sales at stores open at least a year increased 3.6% at the nine retailers tracked by Thomson Reuters, compared with projections of 2% growth and a 4.9% jump a year earlier.

Noting that the "consumer mood soured last month," Reuters cited the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan's consumer sentiment index, which "slipped to 81.2 in January from 82.5 in December. Confidence fell acutely among households with annual incomes below $75,000."

A note of optimism came from the National Retail Federation, which predicted sales will rise 4.1% this year, outpacing 2013's 3.7% gain. While conceding that consumers are "still very careful" in their spending, NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz said 2014 "could finally be the year the recovery gets some traction."

GLOW: Workman Publishing: Atlas Obscura: Wild Life: An Explorer's Guide to the World's Living Wonders by Cara Giaimo, Joshua Foer, and Atlas Obscura

BEA Author Breakfast Hosts Named

Actors Neil Patrick Harris, Jason Segel and Alan Cumming will host this year's Book & Authors Breakfasts during BookExpo America in New York City.

Harris, author of an untitled memoir to be published by Crown Archetype, will serve as master of ceremonies at the Author Breakfast on Thursday, May 29.

Segel, who will emcee the Children’s Book & Author Breakfast on Friday, is the author of Nightmares (Delacorte Press)

At Saturday's Book & Authors Breakfast, the master of ceremonies will be Cumming, author of Not My Father's Son (It Books/Morrow)

Additional speakers will be announced soon.

Graphic Universe (Tm): Hotelitor: Luxury-Class Defense and Hospitality Unit by Josh Hicks

Sony's Reader Store Customers Heading to Kobo eBookstore

Sony is shutting down its Reader Store in the U.S. and Canada. Beginning in late March, Kobo will start providing Sony's digital reading customers with full access to its online catalogue, moving current Sony Reader Store customers over to Kobo's platform via what was described as "a simple and easy migration process." The Reader Store will close March 20, but until then Sony's customers can still purchase e-books there.

In an e-mail to Reader Store customers, Sony noted: "Although we're sorry to say goodbye to the Reader Store, we're also glad to share with you the new, exciting future for our readers: Reader Store will transfer customers to Toronto-based e-reading company, Kobo--an admired e-book seller with a passionate reading community. We strongly believe that this transition will allow you to enjoy a continued high-quality e-reading experience."

Kobo's new CEO Takahito Aiki, appointed just this week, said, "With a shared philosophy to deliver the best reading experience across platforms and with the best content available, Kobo and Sony will reach more people than ever before."

Ken Orii, v-p of Sony's digital reading business division, commented: "Our customers can be assured that they will have a seamless transition to the Kobo ecosystem and will be able to continue to access and read the titles they love from Sony devices."

Penguin Random House Closing Penguin Warehouses

In the most physical manifestation of the company's merger, Penguin Random House is consolidating its warehouse network and by June 2015 will close Penguin's U.S. warehouses, in Kirkwood, N.Y., and Pittston, Pa. All U.S. fulfillment operations will be bought together in Random House's warehouses in Westminster, Md., and Crawfordsville, Ind., which will be expanded. The company will also move support and distribution offices in Pearson's Cranbury and Old Tappan, N.J., and Penguin's inside sales department.

There will be no changes for the next year, but in February 2015, the moves will start and are expected to be completed by mid-year.

In a memo to staff, CEO Markus Dohle and president and COO Madeline McIntosh said that "since the first days of the merger, we have been working to assess the many complex logistical and financial factors essential to that supply chain," leading to "difficult, yet necessary, decisions" about the warehouse network. As a result of the changes, however, "We will be able to provide better, more efficient service than either Penguin or Random House was able to offer on its own in the past. With additional significant investments in people and resources in the coming years, the two remaining facilities will expand to a combined, industry-leading capacity of two-million square feet. All our imprints and clients will now benefit from weekly new title releases with tightly-executed laydowns, daily backorder releases, a powerful international transit program, seasonal expedited transit for independent bookstores, and dozens of other unique capabilities customized to meet the needs of our diverse global account base."

Dohle and McIntosh noted, too, that "we at Penguin Random House believe in the future of print books. We distribute an average of two million print copies every day, and we project massive, sustained physical demand in the years ahead.  Our company's support for print retailers is crucial to our mutual success today, and it must also increase in the future. One of the most vital components of that support will be a rapid, robust, and nimble physical supply chain."

Ancestry Books: Kickstarter Campaign for N. Minneapolis Indie

"We believe that it is important that communities of color can see themselves in the literature that they read, that this has a profound impact on increasing confidence, readership, engagement and critical thinking," Chaun Webster wrote on the Kickstarter campaign page for Ancestry Books, which he and Verna Wong hope to open in June. The fundraising effort will run until March 8.

"My wife and I live with our family in the Cleveland Neighborhood of North Minneapolis, a community that we love, but is also one of the most under-resourced in the state of Minnesota," he noted. "At present, there is not a single bookstore in our community and this is where Ancestry Books comes in."

Initially, they imagined Ancestry Books as a pop-up bookstore that would run for the summer on their home's front porch, but after evaluating the challenges of rezoning in the time frame they had planned, they began considering storefronts.

On January 23, Webster and Wong signed a 16-month lease "for a cozy storefront on 2205 Lowry Ave. N," Webster wrote. "We will be located next to the Lowry Cafe, North End Hardware, and blocks from Lucy Craft Laney Elementary School. So instead of a pop-up bookstore that would utilize our front porch, it will be a 'pop-up' walking distance from the places we sleep, eat and play. It is perfect. This would be a unique space for high touch interaction that would focus on making under-represented authors available in a community that has little access to them." 

He told City Pages: "It's not just a space where people will buy books. People can organize in a space like this."     

ILSR Survey: 'Buy Local' Message Working, More to Be Done

The Buy Local message "is boosting customer traffic and improving the outlook on Main Street," but "policymakers need to do more to create a level playing field and ensure that small local businesses have an equal opportunity to compete," Bookselling This Week reported, citing a post-holiday season survey of 2,602 independent business owners across the U.S. conducted by the Institute for Local Self-Reliance in partnership with the Advocates for Independent Business coalition, which includes the American Booksellers Association.

Among the survey's key findings:

  • Independent businesses reported revenue growth of 5.3% on average in 2013. The retailers surveyed experienced a 1.4% increase in same-store holiday sales, comparable to many competing chains.
  • Over 75% of businesses located in cities with active Local First campaigns reported increased customer traffic or other benefits from these initiatives. They also reported sales growth of 7% on average in 2013, compared to 2.3% for independent businesses in places without such an initiative.
  • Competition from large Internet companies was rated as the biggest challenge facing independent businesses, followed by supplier pricing that favors their big competitors, high costs for health insurance, and escalating commercial rents.
  • Among independent retailers, the top policy priorities are extending the requirement to collect sales tax to large online retailers, eliminating public subsidies and tax breaks for big companies, and regulating the swipe fees charged by Visa and Mastercard.
  • More than three-quarters of independent retailers said that the fact that many online companies are not required to collect sales tax had negatively impacted their sales, with 41% describing the level of impact on their sales as "significant."
  • Of businesses that applied for a bank loan in the last two years, 42% either failed to obtain a loan or received a loan for less than the amount they needed.

"This comprehensive survey makes clear the unparalleled role that local businesses play in the health and vitality of communities,” said Oren Teicher, ABA CEO and co-chair of AIB. "And it highlights, too, the challenges that these businesses are facing regarding equitable governmental policy and a level competitive playing field. However, the widespread acceptance of the localism movement--which shows the potential of small business advocacy--is a clear sign for optimism."


Image of the Day: Let's Play Books!

Let's Play Books! in Emmaus, Pa., celebrated its grand opening last weekend with a ribbon cutting with the town's mayor and Chamber of Commerce and a champagne (and apple cider) toast. The store was full of activity all day, including a reading of Owl Moon by the Wildlands Conservancy of Emmaus and a book signing with author/artist Bob McLeod for Superhero ABC (HarperCollins). 

Pictured: author Bob McLeod with Let's Play! owner Kirsten Hess and her daughter, Madeleine.

photos: Jenae Holtzhafer

Cool Ideas of the Day: Spelling Bee & Pun Championship

Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill, N.C., will present its third Adult Spelling Bee next Monday, and for the first time the bookstore is teaming up with the annual N.C. Comedy Arts Festival to present the event, the Herald-Sun reported, adding that members of DSI Comedy Theater will emcee.

In addition, the Regulator Bookshop, Durham, is working with the festival to present the Great Durham Pun Championship on Tuesday at Motorco Music Hall, welcoming "punsters who want to compete for the loudest groans." 

Beth Ineson to Join Boston Common Press

Effective March 3, Beth Ineson has been appointed executive director, book marketing, sales, and operations at Boston Common Press. She previously worked at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, most recently as director of field sales. In her newly created position, she will oversee expansion of the marketing and distribution of efforts of the Cook's Illustrated, America's Test Kitchen and Cook's Country lines of cookbooks.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Bich Minh Nguyen on NPR's Weekend Edition

Sunday on NPR's Weekend Edition: Bich Minh Nguyen, author of Pioneer Girl (Viking, $26.95, 9780670025091).

Also on Weekend Edition: Nick Hand, author of Conversations on the Hudson (Princeton Architectural Press, $24.95, 9781616892241).

Books & Authors

IndieBound: Other Indie Favorites

From last week's Indie bestseller lists, available at, here are the recommended titles, which are also Indie Next Great Reads:

Unremarried Widow: A Memoir by Artis Henderson (Simon & Schuster, $25, 9781451649284). "Unremarried Widow is a love story that will tug at your heartstrings and make you ache for Henderson as she tells the story of how she met--and lost--her husband, Miles, a handsome young Army pilot. As their love grew, they moved in together and bought a rundown house near the base. When Miles was deployed to Iraq, they e-mailed and phoned until the day Henderson walked into her mother's house and found two uniformed officers waiting for her. This is a brilliant book about a young woman's love and loss, couched in transcendent language that will cut you to the quick." --Kathy Ashton, the King's English Bookshop, Salt Lake City, Utah

The Wind Is Not a River: A Novel by Brian Payton (Ecco, $26.99, 9780062279972). "A grand tale of devotion and adventure set in a forgotten theater of World War II, Payton's new novel is convincingly told. Along with journalist John Easley, the stranded protagonist, readers feel the Arctic wind screaming across Japanese occupied Atta in the remote Aleutian Islands and are swept along by the parallel narrative of Helen, John's wife, as she sets off from her native Seattle in a bold, imaginative effort to locate her missing husband.  Compelling!" --Chris Wilcox, City Lights Bookstore, Sylva, N.C.

Finding Camlann: A Novel by Sean Pidgeon (Norton, $15.95, 9780393348255). "This is a new and gripping look at the history and landscape of Britain and the legend of King Arthur. A linguist and an archeologist search for the truth behind the myth, as they climb foggy hills and glean new meanings from a mysterious poem. We follow them in the throes of love and dread, through long-lost battles and modern feuds, as they look with fascination at the secrets and natural beauty of an ancient land that lives anew. Finding Camlann will please both scholars and poets and will intrigue historians and lovers of romance." --Daniel Butler, Brookline Booksmith, Brookline, Mass.

For Ages 9 to 12
Lockwood & Co.: The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud (Disney, $16.99, 9781423164913). "The Screaming Staircase involves a group of three young ghostbusters who solve the mysterious death of a young actress that occurred more than 50 years ago. Stroud's characters are well developed, the plotting is fun, and the writing is full of lots of humor that counterbalances the scare-factor and action. Readers who are looking for something a little creepy will definitely enjoy this book!" --Mark Adam, Mrs. Nelson's Toy and Book Shop, La Verne, Calif.

[Many thanks to IndieBound and the ABA!]

Book Brahmin: Peter Swanson

photo: Jim Ferguson

Peter Swanson has degrees in Creative Writing, Education and Literature from Trinity College, the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and Emerson College. His stories and poems have appeared in the Atlantic, Mysterical-E, Vocabula Review and Yankee magazine. His first novel, The Girl with a Clock for a Heart, was just published by Morrow. He lives with his wife in Somerville, Mass., where he is at work on his second novel.

On your nightstand now:

Solo by William Boyd. Boyd was fortunate enough to be asked by the Ian Fleming estate to write a Bond novel, and, so far, it's a terrific read. He really captures James Bond as Fleming originally imagined him. Also on my nightstand, Errol Flynn's autobiography, My Wicked, Wicked Ways.

Favorite book when you were a child:

Impossible to pick just one, but I've found a way that's only a partial cheat. There was a Roald Dahl box set published by Bantam Skylark in the 1970s that included Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator, Danny the Champion of the World, and The Fantastic Mr. Fox. I must have read each of those books 30 times.

Your top five authors:

Today they are John D. MacDonald, Ruth Rendell, Ira Levin, Kingsley Amis and Stephen King. And Philip Larkin is my favorite poet, today and every day.

Book you've faked reading:

I faked a little Jane Austen reading years ago to impress a girl. I remember agreeing with her that Sense and Sensibility was the most comforting of all of Jane Austen's books when, in fact, at that time, I'd only read Pride and Prejudice.

Book you're an evangelist for:

Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis. To me, the funniest book ever written, and a book that I read every year. Also, the novels of Barbara Pym, a little-known English writer, are all near-perfect. For those Austen fans out there looking for something new, Pym, who wrote nine novels from 1950 to 1980, is your woman.

Book you've bought for the cover:

I'm a sucker for pulp novels from the middle of last century, and will buy any book with a cover illustration by Robert McGinnis. He's the reason I bought several Modesty Blaise books by Peter O'Donnell, all of which turned out to actually be great reads.

Book that changed your life:

Jaws, probably, by Peter Benchley. I stole it from my mother's bookshelf and read it when I was far too young. It's not even a particularly favorite book (personally, I think the film outclassed it), but it opened up the world of thrillers to me--that adult books had suspense and violence and sex and romance and complicated emotions--and I've been reading, and now writing, thrillers ever since.

Favorite line from a book:

"There was no end to the ways in which nice things are nicer than nasty ones." --from Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis, and a pretty good philosophy of life.

Book you most want to read again for the first time:

I wish that someone was just now telling me about John D. MacDonald and handing me the complete set of Travis McGee novels.

Do you have a dream writing project?:

I do. Thanks for asking. I would love to write a really clever and suspenseful thriller for the stage. There are only a few great ones: Patrick Hamilton's Gas Light, Ira Levin's Deathtrap, Frederick Knott's Dial M for Murder. But the problem is two-fold: one, I don't have a good idea (or even an idea, period) and, two, I have no notion how to begin to write a play. But one can dream.

Book Review

Review: Wake

Wake by Anna Hope (Random House, $26 hardcover, 9780812995138, February 11, 2014)

Anna Hope's debut novel, Wake, follows three English women over a span of five days in 1920, building toward the two-year anniversary of Armistice Day and the end of World War I.

Hettie works in London as a dance instructor, paid by the dance to twirl with strangers, many of whom are missing limbs. She struggles to support herself as well as her irritable, aging mother and a brother who has not worked--or hardly spoken--since the war's end. The festive, exotic dance hall where she works presents an interplay between light and dark, and Hettie's forays with a more fortunate friend to a breathtaking speakeasy emphasize class differences. There, she meets a handsome, wealthy young man who intrigues her, but the distance from which he regards the world seems unconquerable.

Evelyn handles veterans' pension complaints, a thankless job that keeps fresh the wound left by her boyfriend's death in France. Asked every day to consider the fates of damaged young men, her bitterness grows. She used to be close to her brother, an officer, but he has not been the same since he returned.

And Ada is nearly mad, haunted by her son, whose death "of his wounds" has never been properly explained to her. Her loving husband feels that he has lost a wife as well as a son. When a young man appears on her doorstep and speaks her son's name, Ada is staggered; this event threatens to precipitate her descent into mental illness.

Woven among the three women's stories are brief views of military exhumation of unidentified bodies, candidates for the unknown soldier who will be reburied and honored on the anniversary of Armistice Day. These scenes establish and emphasize a gray, cold backdrop to the lives of Hettie, Evelyn and Ada.

Hope's strengths lie in nuance and atmosphere, as she gently and subtly reminds the reader of humanity under the worst of conditions. The pervading mood of the novel is reinforced by poverty, an inability to talk about past trauma and the presence of countless maimed and begging young men. As the lives of her three protagonists come together and the unknown soldier nears his final grave, Wake's deeply moving, ultimately universal story speaks evocatively across nearly a century. --Julia Jenkins, librarian and blogger at pagesofjulia

Shelf Talker: With expertly written characters and a convincing melancholy tone, Anna Hope brings the aftermath of World War I to life through the lives of three English women.

Deeper Understanding

Robert Gray: 'Winter Is Coming' Here: Bookshop as Warming Hut

You know the feeling: irritability and listlessness resulting from long confinement or isolation indoors during winter. Diagnosis: cabin fever. Prognosis: according to Punxsutawney Phil, six more weeks. Prescription: Wendy Welch, co-owner of Tales of The Lonesome Pine bookstore, Big Stone Gap, Va., offered a delightfully vengeful Groundhog Day recipe variation on Mulligatawny, though I'd suggest we consider the medicinal benefits indie bookstores provide as warming huts.

For those who live in toastier climes, a warming hut is a small building with perpetually burning log fire. Hikers, skiers, snowshoers and their kindred winter spirits are invited to stop in and thaw out their feet for a while. There's one in the state park where I walk, and even the distant smell of wood smoke can take the edge off an arctic blast.

During our current winter of discontent, I've also been warmed by reading cozy e-mail newsletters and social media posts from indie booksellers to counter the mind-numbing cold. Gradually, I began thinking of bookstores as warming huts, too. Here are just a few of many entries that focused on the three Cs: coping with nasty weather, communicating with snowbound customers and conjuring up snug, put another log on the fire, imagery:

Literati Bookstore, Ann Arbor, Mich.: "'A Polar Vortex is best spent inside a bookstore'--Note left on our typewriter. Even our paper snowman agrees."

WORD, Brooklyn, N.Y.: "Shake a fist at the polar vortex and warm up at our JC café with some butternut squash soup (courtesy @RomanNoseJC catering) or a mocha!"

Norwich Bookstore, Northfield, Vt.: "Our intrepid booksellers Kathryn and Katie made it to the bookstore in time to open this morning. We might close early depending on the storm, so call ahead if you are in need of reading materials today! Liza is going to hole up at home, feed the woodstove and work on the website upgrade. Enjoy the snow..."

Blue Willow Bookshop, Houston, Tex.: "If you are wondering. YES we are open! Alice and Girlboss don't take snow days. They would walk to work in the snow if they had to--Maria."

Market Block Books, Troy, N.Y.: "Is there a bookstore in your thoughts today? Come and see us!"

Rainy Day Books, Fairway, Kan.: "Looks like we are all going to be snowed in tomorrow. Any reading suggestions???... 'Snow is falling. Books are calling.' From our friends @literacykc--'That's right! Stay warm and safe on this snowy day.' "

Bank Square Books, Mystic, Conn.: "We will be open no matter what tomorrow as we have staff who can WALK to work. That's why we love being in Mystic. Not sure what the hours will be so best to check or give us a call before you come. You can also shop our website anytime or give us a call and we will deliver on Thursday, within a reasonable drive. Thanks for supporting your locally owned and fiercely independent bookstore.... We are open. I think the only store in downtown Mystic that is but don't you need a book to curl up with on this snowy wet day or some cards to write to your faraway friends?"

McLean & Eakin Booksellers, Petoskey, Mich.: "The bravest book club in Northern Michigan! The Dinner by Herman Koch got over 35 members to battle the weather this morning!"

Northshire Bookstore, Saratoga Springs, N.Y.: "It's a snow day, but we're open. Come beat cabin fever with an Eric Carle-inspired art project from 11:30-12:30--an impromptu activity for kids ages 4-14 and their grownup assistants."


Charis Books and More, Atlanta, Ga.: "L5P is still a bit of a winter wonderland but we are here and open today for all of you bookworms who are running low on reading supplies. We have decided to postpone tonight's event because of concerns about the roads after dark. Thank you!"

Joseph-Beth Booksellers, Cincinnati, Ohio (e-mail): "Snow Day! Get great deals today only! Take an extra 10% off any kids book. Free kids meal with purchase of an adult meal at Bronte Bistro. Enjoy a delicious cup of hot cocoa or specialty drink--Yum! Make this snow day special!"

"Winter is coming." That deadly long-range forecast in the first teaser trailer for HBO's Game of Thrones alerted even those of us who hadn't read George R.R. Martin's novels to the fact that in Westeros, winter lasted not for a season, but for years. Oh, the horrors! Oh, the heating bills!

And tonight, the voice of Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage) in NBC's opening tease for its Olympic coverage will add symmetry to the season, blending cold fantasy with snowbound fact--skiers & groundhogs & White Walkers & Polar Vortices, Oh Myyy! (which is, coincidentally, the title of a book by George Takei, who shared a meme pic offering due tribute to Winterfell, the Stark clan and their family motto: #winteriscoming). Be not afraid, however. You will always find welcoming shelter in the closest indie bookstore warming hut. --Robert Gray, contributing editor

The Bestsellers

Top Book Club Picks in January

The following were the most popular book club books during January based on votes from more than 100,000 book club readers from more than 39,000 book clubs registered at

1. The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty (Amy Einhorn Books/Putnam)
2. The Goldfinch: A Novel by Donna Tartt (Little, Brown)
3. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (Knopf)
4. Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline (Morrow)
5. The Light Between Oceans: A Novel by M.L. Stedman (Scribner)
6. And the Mountains Echoed: A Novel by (Riverhead)
7. Where'd You Go, Bernadette: A Novel by Maria Semple (Little, Brown)
8. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn (Crown)
9. The Kitchen House: A Novel by Kathleen Grissom (Touchstone)
10. The Language of Flowers: A Novel by Vanessa Diffenbaugh (Ballantine)

Rising Stars:
The Valley of Amazement by Amy Tan (Ecco)
The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd (Viking)

[Many thanks to!]

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