Shelf Awareness for Monday, June 1, 2015

Blackstone Publishing: An Honorable Assassin (Nick Mason Novels #3) by Steve Hamilton

Clarion Books: The Man Who Didn't Like Animals by Deborah Underwood, Illlustrated by LeUyen Pham

Holiday House: Bye Forever, I Guess by Jodi Meadows and Team Canteen 1: Rocky Road by Amalie Jahn

Wednesday Books: Dust by Alison Stine

Running Press Kids: The Junior Witch's Handbook, The Junior Astrologer's Handbook, and The Junior Tarot Reader's Handbook by Nikki Van De Car

Scholastic Press: Ruin Road by Lamar Giles


BEA15: Still in Flux

Many of the familiar elements of ABA and BEA shows past were present at BookExpo America at the Javits Center in New York City last week. There were well-attended panels, conferences, award presentations, book & author breakfasts, author signings, business meetings of all kinds, a range of parties, the ABA's annual meeting and other events.

In fact, these days at BEA, there's something for everyone as the show has moved beyond its decades-old rationale of being the place where publishers write up orders from booksellers: organizers now welcome all kinds of media, visitors from around the world, bloggers, self-publishers. They even created BookCon, the biggest gesture that could be made to a book world constituency that traditionally was not served directly by BEA.

Of course, the traditional component groups at BEA, such as publishers, most of whom have slimmed down their stands, have changed their approach, adding emphasis on publicity and marketing. The ABA's programming has also shifted. While it continues to host the town and annual meetings, the Celebration of Bookselling, the booksellers lounge, it has discontinued the Day of Education--a day-long series of educational panels that are now mainly done at the Winter Institute. This year, the ABA focused again on taking advantage of the proximity to publishers, offering the second annual iteration of the Meet the Editor program, where booksellers met with editors in their offices before the show began, and the publicists speed dating program, where booksellers and publicists met in rotating format to discuss their stores and their approaches to book tours. Participants at both events praised them.

Over the years, fax, e-mail, texting, Skype and more might have taken away many of the reasons for meeting at shows--and, of course, the old rationale of placing orders--but the serendipity and importance of personal connections is invaluable. There's nothing like seeing old friends and business associates--and meeting new ones--and making connections that wouldn't have been made otherwise. Also it was a delight to meet people attending for the first or second time, who were generally thrilled to be there.

Still, the show felt sluggish much of the time. Perhaps the odd half-day opening emphasized some of the changes. Attendance was light for an opener--it was as though the floor had been opened as a kind of preview. ("Ah, this is what the place looks like before all the people come!") Traffic did pick up Thursday and Friday.

The continued shrinking of the show floor--with more "other" space added than ever--emphasized that the old model doesn't work and a new model has only partially developed. Many wondered what would have taken up the several square miles of space occupied by the Chinese exhibition if they hadn't come or had a more traditionally sized stand. A few people, particularly publishers, said they wouldn't be upset if there were no BEA. But it's hard to imagine the U.S. book industry without an annual gathering. Surely we'd miss it!

It may prove to be a big boost for the show that it's being held next year in Chicago, a wonderful venue for a trade show and convention, where we can expect more booksellers and librarians to attend--and a range of new faces from areas far from New York. There will be fewer staff members from publishers, but perhaps a new mix and some more creative thinking will enliven the event. --John Mutter

Help a Bookseller, Change a Life: Give today to the Book Industry Charitable Foundation!

BEA15: Scenes from an Exhibition

Waiting for the show floor to open on Friday morning.

Gloria Steinem signed ARCs of My Life on the Road (Random House, Oct.) for a long line of fans on Friday afternoon.

And at the other end of the aisle on Friday afternoon, for an equally enormous line of fans, Mindy Kaling signed her upcoming book, Why Not Me?, at the Crown booth. Here, she offers her best "I am a serious author" pose.


The Middle Grade Authors' Buzz Panel, moderated by Shelf Awareness children's editor Jennifer M. Brown (far left) featured authors (l.-r.) Alex Gino (George, Scholastic), Adam Shaughnessy (The Entirely True Story of the Unbelievable FIB, Algonquin), Lisa Lewis Tyre (Last in a Long Line of Rebels, Nancy Paulsen Books), Ali Benjamin (The Thing About Jellyfish, Little, Brown) and Nicholas Gannon (The Doldrums, Greenwillow).

BEA15: Showstoppers at the Children's Book & Author Breakfast

Nathan Lane emceed Fridays morning's Children's Book and Author breakfast. As the co-author with Devlin Elliott of Naughty Mabel, illustrated by Dan Krall (S&S Books for Young Readers), Lane filled his remarks with analogies to entertainers (and got a bit bawdy at times). Mabel is the name of his own pet cat. "Mabel does it her way, just like Sinatra!" he explained. A quick study, he compared a picture book to a "mini–one-act play" with scene changes, costume changes and the like.

Nathan Lane, Oliver Jeffers, Rainbow Rowell and James Patterson

Oliver Jeffers (The Day the Crayons Came Home, Philomel/Penguin), born in Northern Ireland, spoke of his parents' "mixed marriage," a Catholic to a Protestant. "After the referendum last week, mixed marriage means a man and a woman," he said, exclaiming about how happy he and his fellow Irish citizens were to have passed it. He explained the roots of some of his tales: his grandparents have 23 grandchildren and "called us all Huey," the seeds for his Huey series. Lost and Found was inspired by the true story of a school trip during which a boy climbed into the penguin pen and took one with him; he kept it in a tub overnight until it could be returned the next day. Jeffers also described, as a nine-year-old alter boy, accidentally setting the altar on fire. Luckily, holy water put it out.

James Patterson (the Treasure Hunters, and House of Robots series; Little, Brown Books for Young readers) grew up poor in upstate New York, and his first novel was rejected more than 30 times. Yet today he's in a position to have donated more than $1 million to bookstores with a children's books section, and $1.5 million to libraries. Patterson announced at BEA the launch of a new imprint, Jimmy Books at Little, Brown Books for Young Readers. His motto: "We want everyone who finishes a Jimmy Book to say, 'Give me another book.' " Patterson said his truck driver grandfather gave him great advice: "Remember, when you go over the mountain in the morning, you've gotta be singing." Now, he does.

Rainbow Rowell (author of Carry On, St. Martin's Griffin) left the audience howling. As a child, her thoughts about writing were, "No one gets to do that." She wanted to be a librarian and "tell people what to read." She graduated with a degree in journalism because "you can write and have health insurance." She described writing for the Omaha World Herald fresh out of college. "You all have Beauty Queens," she said, but in the Midwest, "We have Pork Queens." She covered a Western Iowa Pork Queen who was vegetarian and failed to see the irony of her title: "I feel good about pork," said the Queen, "I just don't eat it." Rowell also told attendees about a giant popcorn ball in Sag County, and the use of dynamite to destroy it. It quietly broke in two. "Humiliation for Sag County," Rowell said. "I made sure the people of Omaha knew about it." When Nathan Lane returned to the podium, he told Rowell, "You should be on cable." He added, "And thank you for clearing up what Pork Queens are. Where I come from, they have a whole other meaning." --Jennifer M. Brown

Independent Bookstore Day to Return Next April 30

The second annual Independent Bookstore Day will take place Saturday, April 30, 2016, and will again be produced by program director Samantha Schoech and the Northern California Independent Booksellers Association. For the first time, the event will be called Independent Bookstore Day across the country. The first IBD, held on Saturday, May 2, was called California Bookstore Day in the Golden State, in honor of the original California Bookstore Day, held on May 3, 2014, which was expanded nationwide this year.

Calling this year's IBD "a big success," organizers said that 80% of responding stores had reported an increase in sales over the first Saturday of May 2014. Sales were up an average of 70%, and 24% of stores had sales gains of more than 100%. A few were up as much as 1,000%. More than 400 stores participated in 2015 and 98% of those stores plan to do so again next year.

Sales of the 16 items made exclusively for IBD were "not as high as anticipated" and didn't do as well as the items made for California Bookstore Day in 2014, Schoech said. Items included a literary tea towel set with quotes from Nora Ephron and Sherman Alexie; a signed print by Chris Ware; a Stephen King broadside from his new Finders Keepers; and a "bunsie"--a onesie with the "Guess How Much I Love to Read" bunny on the front. Organizers intend to have "closer to 10 items" next year and return to the guiding principle of the original California Bookstore Day in 2014 of finding items "worth lining up for. We're looking for real door busters in limited quantities. Scarcity and exclusivity are big driving forces."

IBD benefited from media attention, counting more than 170 stories in a range of media, from the Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post and NPR stations to the Idaho Statesman, the Clarion Ledger in Mississippi, Arizona Central and the Boulder Weekly in Colorado.

Schoech predicted that more stores would participate in IBD next year. "We had quite a number of stores who for one reason or another missed the deadline for 2015 but want to be a part of it going forward."

To participate in next year's IBD, bookstores must be members of a regional booksellers association and order a minimum of 15 IBD items; orders need to be placed between January 15 and February 1, 2016.

Publishers must submit proposals for IBD-exclusive books and other items by September 1.

BAM First Quarter: Sales Slip; Net Loss Improves

In the first quarter ended May 2, revenue at Books-A-Million fell 1.9%, to $101.8 million and the net loss was $5.3 million--a slight improvement over the $5.6 million loss in the same period a year earlier.

At stores open at least a year, sales fell 0.9%. During the quarter, BAM opened three smaller stores and closed one superstore and one traditional store, leaving it with 257 in total.

In a conference call with analysts on Friday (via, discussing the results, BAM CEO and president Terrance G. Finley attributed the comp-store sales decline largely to "the prior year's success with the particularly strong line-up of teen titles and the media supporting them." Bad weather also hurt sales. And movie tie-in merchandise related to Veronica Roth's Divergent series and John Green's The Fault in Our Stars a year earlier were difficult "to fully offset. Despite those headwinds, we did continue to see comparable store sales growth in several other areas of our business, including our gift and general merchandise department, our Bargain Book area and in our Cafes. As has been the trend for several quarters, it was our general merchandise department that delivered the most material year-over-year comparable sales increases. In our core book business in addition to a media environment that was not quite as book friendly as last year, the publishing line-up of late into new releases was relatively modest and did little to drive traffic into the stores."

However, he said, some book categories had solid sales. Graphic novels had "exceptionally strong sales," particularly in manga and anime "across a wide range of individual titles and series." American Sniper by Chris Kyle had "staying power," and new titles from YouTube personality Shane Dawson and Connor Franta "drove an impressive increase in the biography category." For the second quarter in a row, adult fiction "continued to make up ground" compared to digital sales "and finished the period with nice year-over-year growth." Bestsellers included The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins and the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy because of the movie release in February. The children's department showed "solid growth," too.

The general merchandise area had "strong results" from BAM's "expanded offering of gifts and book related accessories," including "a wide range of classic accessories from book lights and bookmarks to literary themed novelty gifts."

In the current quarter, Finley said "an improved publishing line-up" should resonate on Father's Day, mentioning The Wright Brothers by David McCullough, The Quartet by Joseph Ellis, And the Good News Is by Dana Perino, Finders Keepers by Stephen King and Memory Man by David Baldacci. Last but not least, "We remain incredibly excited to have a once in a lifetime publishing event to look forward to in June-July: the publication of Harper Lee's greatly anticipated second novel, Go Set a Watchman. Pre-sales for the new book have remained strong and this remarkable event should continue to generate excitement and opportunities throughout the world of bookselling."

Amazon in Ohio: Sales Tax Collection, Building Projects

Effective today, Amazon will begin collecting Ohio's 5.75% sales tax from customers in the state as part of its expansion plans, which include "the creation of three data centers in central Ohio and a distribution center that will be built in the state," the Columbus Dispatch reported.

"That's a pretty big deal to brick-and-mortar retailers," said retail analyst Chris Boring of Boulevard Strategies. "It does even the playing field."

Gordon Gough, president of the Ohio Council of Retail Merchants, commented: "The great news is Amazon's substantial investment in the state.... That they are going to comply (with the sales tax) is even better news."

The Associated Press noted that Amazon's decision makes Ohio "a major Midwest hub for its cloud computing operations." Governor John Kasich agreed: "This is really an intellectual triumph in a lot of ways. This is something that will send a message to our young people that, you want to think, you want to live in the future, you want to understand technology, you stay right here in Ohio."

The deal with Amazon "was brokered over about a year by Ohio's privatized job-creation entity, JobsOhio," the AP wrote, adding that under the arrangement, the online retailer "will invest about $1 billion in two existing and one future Amazon Web Services data centers in the Columbus suburbs of Dublin, Hilliard and New Albany."

Obituary Notes: Anthony C. Yu; Robert S. Wistrich

Anthony C. Yu, who translated an unabridged, four-volume, 1,873-page English version of The Journey to the West, the 16th century epic saga of a Chinese monk's pilgrimage to India in search of sacred Buddhist scriptures, died May 12, the New York Times reported. He was 76.


Robert S. Wistrich, who wrote 29 books and "devoted his four-decade scholarly career to dissecting anti-Semitism, from the biblical Haman, who warned King Ahasuerus of Persia against strangers whose 'laws are diverse from all people,' to modern Islamist extremists who deny Israel's right to exist," died May 19, the New York Times reported. He was 70.


A Publisher's Avocation: 'Oldest Pop Singer in America'

"My father, the oldest pop singer in America (89, beats Tony Bennett by six months), performing on May 23 in Chicago," Bruce Miller of Miller Trade Book Marketing posted on Facebook last week to accompany a video of his dad, Jordan, singing at Davenport's Piano Bar in the Windy City.

Jordan and his wife, Anita, founded Academy Chicago Publishers in 1975. Although the company was acquired by Chicago Review Press last year, they continue to work as "editors-at-large" for CRP.

Bruce Miller noted that his father said "publishers do have rhythm," and that he wanted "to strike a note for old people like me."

Personnel Changes at Pomegranate

Leslie Davisson is joining Pomegranate Communications as sales and marketing director. She was formerly senior digital marketing manager at the University of California Press and earlier was director, trade channel marketing and national accounts for Lonely Planet.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Hanya Yanagihara on Late Night

Today on Fresh Air: Michelle Goldberg, author of The Goddess Pose: The Audacious Life of Indra Devi, the Woman Who Helped Bring Yoga to the West (Knopf, $26.95, 9780307593511).

Tonight on Jimmy Kimmel Live: Adam Carolla, author of Daddy, Stop Talking!: And Other Things My Kids Want But Won't Be Getting (Dey Street, $26.99, 9780062394248).

Tonight on the Daily Show: Stanley McChrystal, co-author of Team of Teams: New Rules of Engagement for a Complex World (Portfolio, $29.95, 9781591847489).

Tomorrow morning on Morning Joe: Ben Mezrich, author of Once Upon a Time in Russia: The Rise of the Oligarchs (Atria, $28, 9781476771892).

Also on Morning Joe: Jason Matthews, author of Palace of Treason: A Novel (Scribner, $26.99, 9781476793740).

Tomorrow morning on Good Morning America: Derrick Coleman Jr. and Marcus Brotherton, authors of No Excuses: Growing Up Deaf and Achieving My Super Bowl Dreams (Jeter Publishing/Gallery, $25, 9781476796581).

Tomorrow on the View: Judy Blume, author of In the Unlikely Event (Knopf, $27.95, 9781101875049).

Tomorrow night on Late Night with Seth Meyers: Hanya Yanagihara, author of A Little Life: A Novel (Doubleday, $30, 9780385539258).

Movies: A Walk in the Woods; The End of the Tour; West of Sunset

"It's like a more comedic version of Wild, if Reese Witherspoon was in her 70s and also Robert Redford," Entertainment Weekly observed in showcasing a new trailer for A Walk in the Woods, starring Redford as author Bill Bryson and Nick Nolte as his hiking partner Stephen Katz. The cast also includes Emma Thompson, Kristen Schaal, Mary Steenburgen and Nick Offerman. A Walk in the Woods will be released in theaters September 2.


A trailer is out for The End of the Tour, based on David Lipsky's book Although of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself: A Road Trip With David Foster Wallace. reported that the project "stars an almost unrecognizable (and seemingly unlikely) Jason Segel as the acclaimed novelist and Jesse Eisenberg (typically quirky) as Lipsky." James Ponsoldt (The Spectacular Now) directed the film, which will be released July 31.


Ponsoldt is also "negotiating to adapt and direct West of Sunset, an adaptation of the Stewart O'Nan novel for Sidney Kimmel Entertainment," reported, noting that SKE "is negotiating both to option the book and make a deal with the filmmaker.... The intention is for this to come down the line and certainly doesn't get in front of The Circle, the big Cannes package that has Tom Hanks set to star, but which lost Ex Machina's Alicia Vikander.... The Circle, which Ponsoldt adapted from the Dave Eggers novel, is on offer to Emma Watson."

Books & Authors

Awards: Maine Literary; Dundee International

The winners of the 2015 Maine Literary Awards, sponsored by the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance, can be seen here.


A shortlist that includes authors from four continents has been announced for the £10,000 (about $15,291) Dundee International Book Prize, which features the largest cash award for unpublished work in the U.K. as well as publication by Cargo Publishing. Judges chose the 10-book shortlist from a record 500 submissions. A winner will be named in October during the annual Dundee Literary Festival. You can see the complete Dundee shortlist here.

Book Review

Review: The Household Spirit

The Household Spirit by Tod Wodicka (Pantheon, $26.95 hardcover, 9780307377050, June 9, 2015)

Tod Wodicka writes again of Queens Falls, a remote community in upstate New York, in The Household Spirit. Wodicka's first novel--All Shall Be Well; and All Shall Be Well; and All Manner of Things Shall Be Well--told the story of a medieval re-enactor who travels from Queens Falls to Prague to find and reconnect with his estranged son. In The Household Spirit, Wodicka again explores the theme of parents estranged from children (and vice versa) and the universal need to belong and connect, and quirky characters who come to terms with personal history--disappointments and all.

The Household Spirit focuses on two adults--strangers, lost souls--who have long lived adjacent to each other in the only two houses for miles on a remote stretch of Route 29, "a twisted old country road" that serves as an auxiliary pass-through. Their houses were twins--"once identical, now fraternal"--built in the 1860s, when paper mills were the boon of the region.

In the house with original wood siding lives Howie Jeffries, a morbidly shy, divorced 50-year-old. Howie's wife left him 20 years before, and he has lost touch with his daughter, Harriet, a free-spirited young woman pursuing an art career in New York City. She has little time for her father outside of being his Facebook friend. In order to accommodate his emotional and social limitations, Howie alternates day and night shifts at the wastewater treatment plant, solitary work he hopes will one day afford him a sailboat for fishing. After two decades of living on his own, Howie still considers his residence "his family's house."

Emily Phane grew up in the aluminum-sided home adjacent to Howie's. Emily was raised by her doting grandfather, Peppy, after an auto accident claimed the lives of her mother and grandmother when she was a baby. Now 24 and struggling to cope with, and conceal, a debilitating condition that makes her too terrified to sleep, Emily is summoned home from college to care for Peppy after he suffers a stroke. Emily's emotions become as unmanageable and overgrown as the once-beloved garden at her family's house, until catastrophe strikes and she is suddenly brought face to face with Howie. The two forge an unlikely bond in dealing with their respective problems of abandonment, isolation and the ghosts of their pasts rooted in the familial foundations of their homes.

Finely nuanced details and multi-layered dark comedy are Wodicka's strong suits. Howie's and Emily's alternating viewpoints reveal their vulnerabilities and enrich their well-drawn characterizations. Route 29 may be an insignificant thoroughfare in fictional Queens Falls, but Wodicka elevates its prominence, navigating a poignant, revelatory story on the road to the liberating nature of truth and friendship. --Kathleen Gerard, blogger at Reading Between the Lines

Shelf Talker: Two isolated neighbors, strangers to each other, forge an unlikely bond that propels them from the sad inertia of their respective lives.

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