Also published on this date: Tuesday, June 16, 2015: Dedicated Issue: Celebrating Rick Riordan

Shelf Awareness for Tuesday, June 16, 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


Bookstore Sales Up 0.6% in April

April bookstore sales rose 0.6%, to $659 million, compared to April 2014, according to preliminary estimates from the Census Bureau. This was the second month in a row this year that bookstore sales increased over the comparable month last year. Because March sales were revised downward (to $660 million from $686 million), for the year to date, bookstore sales are still off slightly compared to the first four months of 2014, down 0.5%, to $3.4 billion.

Total retail sales in April rose 1.4%, to $437.3 billion. For the year to date, total retail sales have risen 2.1%, to $1,627.9 billion.

Note: under Census Bureau definitions, the bookstore category consists of "establishments primarily engaged in retailing a general line of new books. These establishments may also sell stationery and related items, second-hand books, and magazines."

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Book Passage's Affiliate Program for Mystery Writers Conference

Book Passage in Corte Madera and San Francisco, Calif., is trying something new for its 22nd annual Mystery Writers Conference in July: independent bookstores will receive $100 for each conference attendee they refer.

According to Kathryn Petrocelli, Book Passage's conference director, this is the first time that the store has ever directly partnered with other indies to promote its conferences. "I think we've always benefited from the generosity and kindness of other stores," Petrocelli said. "But this is the first time we've ever reached out directly to say, who among your customers wants to come out?"

The impetus for implementing the referral system, explained Zack Ruskin, Book Passage's marketing manager, came from the desire to spread word about the conference as widely as possible. The plan, he said, is to reach out to bookstores that are not just in the Bay Area or even in California and find more aspiring mystery writers and independent bookstore lovers. If this effort is a success, Petrocelli and Ruskin would then look to implement it with Book Passage's other conferences.

"More and more people are finding a way to get their writing out into the world," said Ruskin. "Although our conference precedes the Internet, we don't want it to get left behind."

This year's Mystery Writer's Conference will be held in Corte Madera, July 23-26. It will offer panels on the art and craft of writing, working with editors and publishers, and creating authentic crime scene and courtroom drama. Among the conference's faculty members are established crime writers, editors, literary agents, lawyers, and even a retired FBI agent. --Alex Mutter

Emily Young Retiring from Duke University Press

Emily Young

Duke University Press books marketing director Emily Young is retiring on June 24. She has worked for the press since 1989, when she joined from the University of Chicago Press.

Following her retirement, the books marketing department will be led by Michael McCullough, who has been named interim sales and marketing manager.

During Young's leadership, the books marketing department went from three staffers to eight, and the press went from publishing 60 books a year to 120, got a website and e-commerce, and entered the world of e-books.

Young commented: "I will leave with great pride in all that I have accomplished in helping to shape and make Duke University Press the world class press it is today; for a professional life in scholarly publishing that has taught me so much; and for the opportunity to mentor and learn from so many. And, I know I will take this with me to all my professional adventures that lie ahead."

Obituary Note: Hilary Masters

Hilary Masters, who wrote 10 novels and whose fiction, nonfiction, poetry and essays won numerous awards, died Sunday, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported. He was 87. His books include Post: A Fable, In Rooms of Memory: Essays, Last Stands: Notes From Memory and How the Indians Buried Their Dead: Stories. He was the son of poet Edgar Lee Masters.

Bookstore Field Trip: Part 2

In what's become an annual tradition, last month Shelf Awareness's John Mutter traveled to New England to spend a few days visiting bookstores with Steve Fischer, executive director of the New England Independent Booksellers Association, this time in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. Part 1 is here.

From Gibson's Bookstore in Concord, we drove to Water Street Bookstore in Exeter, N.H., which was founded in 1991 by Dan Chartrand, who before that had been executive director of the New England Booksellers Association. Unfortunately, Chartrand was away--he had traveled to Minnesota for the memorial service for Dan Odegard, the longtime bookseller, publisher, agent and all-around book man who died in March.

But events coordinator Stefanie Kiper Schmidt showed us around the charming shop in an older building on one of the main streets in Exeter, which is the home of Phillips Exeter Academy. The store puts on 8-10 events a month and partners offsite with a range of groups and organizations.

Among things that stood out in Water Street Bookstore:

Many shelf talkers are at eye level (long recommended by Steve Bercu of Bookpeople, Austin, Tex., since they will be most easily seen by customers at this height), and some of them are simple and effective. Our favorite, in its entirety: "Under the Volcano has ruined me for most other novels."

Reading glasses from 2020 Vision USA, which specializes in "Italian design fashion eyewear," are very popular. Water Street tried several reading glasses lines, but this is the first that "worked really well," Schmidt said.

In the back of the store, where a few comfy chairs are by windows overlooking the Squamscott River, the store has a journal in which customers can write whatever they want. The tradition was started by customers four or five years ago and is so popular that the store recently set out the fifth volume.

Several consignment sections feature books by Shambhala (and Roost Books), a relatively new program, and by Chelsea Green, which has been in effect for four or five years. Schmidt noted that these programs "allow us to take a chance on more titles" and offer some leeway. If the programs didn't exist, Water Street would either skip many of the titles or order only single copies.

Fiction and nonfiction are prominently displayed up front. Science fiction and fantasy is a strong section, in large part because of "several passionate booksellers," Schmidt said. The store's used books are displayed outside "in nice weather."

The store, which added children's titles in a big way in 2008, sells "a lot" of YA, Schmidt said, with most sales coming from in-store discoveries. Water Street has found it more difficult going with picture books.

Still, Schmidt said that while the winter weather had been difficult, sales were up 5% over the previous winter.


From there we drove to Portsmouth, N.H., to the elegant RiverRun Bookstore. Owner Tom Holbrook was away, so we wandered around the store, where we noted an unusual sideline: typewriters. (Otherwise, besides a few gifts, RiverRun T-shirts and book lights, the store stocks only books.)

The store offers a variety of vintage typewriters and sells one a week on average and sometimes more, said Judy, a RiverRun bookseller. Displayed in the store's windows, the typewriters are a major draw for passersby and a great conversation piece, she said. "Kids love them," and parents enjoy reminiscing and explaining what they are and how they work. "Where's the return key?" is a common question from children. "Lots of teens want their parents to buy them for them," she said.

The store has been selling typewriters for about a year, buying from a collector. They fit in well with the growing popularity of vinyl records--and the renewed popularity of printed books.

RiverRun has been in business 12 years, and moved to its current location in early 2012 after 15 community members became part-owners of the store. RiverRun has its own imprint, Piscataqua Press, which has been publishing for three years. The store sells many self-published titles as well as a few used books.


Image of the Day: Kids Club at Carmichael's

These enthusiastic young readers at the first meeting of the Carmichael's Kids Book Club, at Carmichael's Bookstore in Louisville, Ky., discussed The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate (HarperCollins). Afterward, one of the parents wrote, "Kids book club was great! Thanks for putting it together and hosting such a fun & learning event for this age group!... my 8-year-old son said, 'everyone who was talking was saying things that gave me more ideas of things I wanted to say!' And then, 'I liked learning more about the book by listening to what the other kids had to say.' "

Building a Better Bookshop... on Stage

More than 1,500 books line the shelves of the "authentic-looking bookstore set" for the Huntington Theatre Company's production of A. Rey Pamatmat's after all the terrible things I do, which is playing through June 21 at the Wimberly Theatre, Calderwood Pavilion at Boston Center for the Arts, reported the Boston Globe.

"The play is so rooted in the cozy, protected world of a small, independent bookstore," said Clint Ramos, who designed the set. "So much of what the characters do is take care of the store, so we felt it was important to make it as real as possible for the actors."

Although Pamatmat and the actors were involved in choosing the titles of books that would be included on the shelves, prop master Kris Holmes had to find them. The Globe noted that Holmes works in the off-season as a set dresser for PBS's Antiques Roadshow, and turned for help to Ken Gloss, an appraiser for the program and owner of the Brattle Book Shop.

"Ken lent us about 450 books and really gave us free rein around size, topic, and colors," she said. "Our other source was the Citywide Friends of the Boston Public Library, which holds sales of books that are donated to raise money for the library. They lent us another 550.... We organized them by size and subject, and it took about five people to get them all up on the shelves. The stage manager asked if we were going to alphabetize them, too, but that's where I drew the line."

"It was tricky," Ramos added, "because the playwright has these lovely poetic moments, and we wanted to give the appearance that you can see right through the set, but it also had to be solid enough to hold the books."

Wyoming Town to Celebrate 'Longmire Days'

Longmire author Craig Johnson

Buffalo, Wyo., hosts the fourth annual Longmire Days this week, celebrating author Craig Johnson's book series and the popular TV show about fictional Absaroka County, "where Sheriff Walt Longmire and his deputies and staff enforce the law and try to keep their own lives in order," the Chamber of Commerce noted. This year's festival, which runs July 17-19 and drew 8,000 fans last year, will feature "more actors than ever before, along with the big man himself, Craig Johnson."

Activities include a Longmire parade; a "poker school for novices"; a "Book to Film" discussion with agent Gail Hochman and Penguin's Kathryn Court; trap shooting; horseback rides; and the Longmire Days 5K and Fun Run, with a special appearance by Sheriff Longmire himself (actor Robert Taylor), "who will be shooting off the start gun."

Personnel Changes at Crown

Jessica Brown has joined the Crown Publishing Group as publicist/marketer for Convergent Books. She formerly worked in the publicity department of Howard Books and earlier was a publicist in the public relations department of TNA Entertainment and a publicity assistant at Brave Public Relations.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Etgar Keret on Fresh Air

Today on the Morning Edition book club, Ari Shapiro interviews Kate Atkinson, whose A God in Ruins (Little, Brown, $28, 9780316176538) was picked by Gillian Flynn as the club's second selection.


Today on Fresh Air: Etgar Keret, author of The Seven Good Years: A Memoir (Riverhead, $26.95, 9781594633263).


Tomorrow on the View: Gretchen Carlson, author of Getting Real (Viking, $28.95, 9780525427452).


Tomorrow on Diane Rehm: Ron Lieber, author of The Opposite of Spoiled: Raising Kids Who Are Grounded, Generous, and Smart About Money (Harper, $26.99, 9780062247018).

TV: Madoff

Danny Deferrari (The Longest Week, Pan Am) and Stephen Gevedon (The World Made Straight, The Devil You Know) have joined the cast of Madoff, the ABC miniseries starring Richard Dreyfuss and inspired by ABC News chief investigative correspondent Brian Ross's reports and his book, The Madoff Chronicles: Inside the Secret World of Bernie and Ruth. reported that Deferrari will play Madoff's son, Andrew, and Gevedon his money manager and son-in-law, Robert Jaffe.

Books & Authors

Awards: PEN Pinter; Theakstons Old Peculier; CWA Gold Dagger

Poet, journalist and literary critic James Fenton has been awarded the 2015 PEN Pinter Prize, recognizing "a British writer of outstanding literary merit," the Bookseller wrote. Chair of judges Maureen Freely, who is president of English PEN, said, "Throughout his long and distinguished career, James Fenton has spoken truth to power--forcefully, fearlessly, and beautifully. In this age of privatised art, it is increasingly rare for writers to retain this degree of public commitment, and that is one reason why we so pleased to be awarding him this prize. But the main reason, of course, is that James Fenton is one of the finest poets of his generation."

On October 6, Fenton will deliver an address at an event at the British Library and reveal the 2015 International Writer of Courage, selected from a shortlist of international cases supported by English PEN. The recipient will be an international writer who is active in defense of freedom of expression, often at great risk to their own safety.


A six-book shortlist has been unveiled for the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award, which celebrates the best in British and Irish crime writing. The winner, who will be announced July 16, receives £3,000 (about $4,665) and a handmade, engraved beer barrel provided by Theakstons Old Peculier. This year's shortlisted titles are:  

The Devil in the Marshalsea by Antonia Hodgson
The Axeman's Jazz by Ray Celestin
Someone Else's Skin by Sarah Hilary
The Facts of Life and Death by Belinda Bauer
Entry Island by Peter May
The Outcast Dead by Elly Griffiths


The longlist for the CWA's Goldsboro Gold Dagger Award for best crime novel of the year consists of these 10 titles:

The Shut Eye by Belinda Bauer
The Rules of Wolfe by James Carlos Blake
The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith
Missing by Sam Hawken
Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King
Pleasantville by Attica Locke
The Bone Seeker by M.J. McGrath
The Serpentine Road by Paul Mendelson
Life or Death by Michael Robotham
The Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson

The shortlist will be announced June 30 and winners in September.

Book Review

Review: Dreams to Remember: Otis Redding, Stax Records and the Transformation of Southern Soul

Dreams to Remember: Otis Redding, Stax Records, and the Transformation of Southern Soul by Mark Ribowsky (Liveright, $27.95 hardcover, 9780871408730, June 22, 2015)

In the 1960s, when African American music accelerated its climb out of the vinyl pigeonhole known as "race music," it was primarily pulled up by two very different recording studios. In the northern big city of Detroit, Berry Gordy, Jr., created the Motown sound and promoted his artists' carefully produced style with an iron fist and relentless focus on publicity and profits. In the smaller, southern river city of Memphis, Jim Stewart and his sister, Estelle Axton, bootstrapped the Stax Studio out of a neighborhood record store with the local house band Booker T. and the MGs.

With acts like Smokey Robinson, Marvin Gaye and the Supremes, Motown was the clear powerhouse--until 20-year-old Otis Redding drove to Memphis from Macon, Ga., in February 1962, and blew away Stax guitarist and producer Steve Cropper, belting out two songs he had written himself. As Mark Ribowsky describes that night in his new biography of the young singer, Dreams to Remember, Redding didn't have any arrangements for the band and had only one directive: "Just gimme those church things." His voice did the rest, and Memphis soul music was born with Stax studios as its "Soulsville" home. Ribowsky illustrates the black music Detroit/Memphis divide by contrasting their stars: "Smokey's pipes were as dewy and fluttery as Redding's were scabrous and growling.... Smokey was big-city cool, Redding sweaty, Deep South church pulpit hot." Having written books on Stevie Wonder (Signed, Sealed, and Delivered), the Temptations, the Supremes and, most recently, Lynyrd Skynyrd (Whiskey Bottles and Brand-New Cars), Ribowsky has done exhaustive research about and interviews with all the major players of the era. He knows his stuff.

A brief six years after arriving in Memphis, Redding died in a private plane crash en route to Madison, Wis.; his only million-seller hit, "The Dock of the Bay," was released posthumously, and Stax was soon absorbed by Atlantic Records and then giant Gulf + Western. Gordy and his Motown label disappeared into MCA and then the Universal Music Group of Seagram. Soul music lost its soul to what the often opinionated Ribowsky calls the "slickers from New York... thieves who ran music since the Tin Pan Alley days."

Redding's career was at its peak just six months before the plane crash, when he closed the second night of the 1967 Monterrey Pop Festival. Standing out among the Summer of Love line-up that included Janis Joplin, the Who, Jefferson Airplane, and the Mamas and the Papas, Redding stole the show with his rousing finale of "Try a Little Tenderness." (Joplin later said, "Otis is God, man.") Former DJ and Stax director of promotions Al Bell applauded the transformative California crowd's response to his studio's and Redding's music, noting that "when the white audience discovered us, we didn't get whiter--they got blacker." Ribowsky's meticulous biography makes it clear that Arthur Conley's 1967 hit "Sweet Soul Music" (co-written by Redding) got it wrong. James Brown wasn't "the king of them all, y'all." Otis was. --Bruce Jacobs, founding partner, Watermark Books & Cafe, Wichita, Kan.

Shelf Talker: Ribowsky's thorough biography of the Stax Records star Otis Redding traces his too-short career and climb to the top of the soul music pyramid in the 1960s when music and race relations were in turmoil.

The Bestsellers

Top-Selling Self-Published Titles

The bestselling self-published books last week as compiled by

1. Beautiful Sacrifice (Maddox Brothers Volume 3) by Jamie McGuire
2. When an Alpha Purrs (A Lion’s Pride Book 1) by Eve Langlais
3. Kane (Slater Brothers Book 3) by L.A. Casey
4. Dirty Boys of Summer by Various
5. The Perfect Gift (Bluegrass Singles: Volume 3) by Kathleen Brooks
6. Hearts in Danger by Various
7. One Night With You by Marie Force
8. Forever (An Unfortunate Fairy Tale: Volume 5) by Chanda Hahn
9. Marrow by Tarryn Fisher
10. Just Say When by Kaylee Ryan

[Many thanks to!]

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