Shelf Awareness for Friday, October 9, 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

Editors' Note

Happy Columbus Day!

Because of the Columbus Day/Indigenous Peoples Day holiday, this is the last issue of Shelf Awareness until Tuesday, October 13. See you then!

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

Quotation of the Day

Quvenzhané Wallis: 'Reading Is Very Important'

Quvenzhané Wallis

"Reading is very important. It allows people to form a visual experience in their minds of what is going on in the story. I hope all readers enjoy using their imaginations along with me and take a journey into my books."

--Oscar-nominated 12-year-old actress Quvenzhané Wallis (Beasts of the Southern Wild; 12 Years a Slave; Annie), who just signed a four-book deal with Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers



AAP Sales 2015: Down 4.1% Through June

For the first half of the year, total net book sales fell 4.1%, to $5.58 billion, representing sales of 1,207 publishers and distributed clients as reported to the Association of American Publishers. In June, total net book sales fell 1.4%, to $1.54 billion.
For the year to date, downloaded audio was the fastest-growing format, up 31%. Paperbacks rose 12.5% while hardcovers fell 11% and e-books dropped 10.3% (adult e-books slipped 3.1% and children's/YA e-book fell 45.5%). Trade sales as a whole were down 1.4%, to $3.09 billion, but improved in June, when sales rose 5.5%.

Kepler's Adds GiftLit Book Subscription Service

In March, Kepler's Books, Menlo Park, Calif., bought GiftLit, a nine-year-old subscription gift service specializing in books. Now GiftLit is an official service offered by Kepler's, combining "our staff's literary and curating expertise with ultra-convenient online ordering and fulfillment," said Praveen Madan, CEO of Kepler's. "GiftLit makes it easy for anyone to easily select and send the very best books in any category to friends, family, and colleagues."

Praveen Madan, Kepler's

Madan added that there is "potential for extending GiftLit's curation and fulfillment capabilities" to other indies and book organizations. Kepler's is "in early discussions with a few organizations and we welcome additional interest," Madan continued. "For us, it always starts with the intent to serve and help and an open conversation with potential partners." Kepler's has shared its nonprofit, fund-raising model with several other bookstores and helped other bookstores and libraries create bookswap events.

GiftLit recipients receive one book per month through a three-, six-, or 12-month subscription. Each book is gift-wrapped and accompanied by a personal note from the giver. GiftLit was founded in 2006 by Deirdre Hockett and Susheela Vasan, avid readers who wanted high-quality books for their children and for out-of-town friends and family.

Madan called GiftLit "the next new thing we are excited about. Everyone knows that technology has been the Achilles' heel of bookstores. We believe GiftLit has a unique business model of selling curated book collections online and this kind of model could generate significant additional revenue for bookstores, book clubs and literacy nonprofits."

Amazon: More Campus Pick-Up Points; Seattle Store Update

Amazon plans to open Campus Pick-up Points, which are physical locations on or near college campuses, for the University of California at Berkeley and at Santa Barbara, as well as the University of Cincinnati, WallStreet Scope reported. The online retailer currently has CPPs at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and Purdue University.    

A building permit for a 2,363-square-foot space at 241 Calhoun St. in Cincinnati that is being renovated has been filed by Amazon, the Business Courier reported, adding that the permits with the city list "Amazon Pickup Store" as the tenant. The online retailer's jobs site includes open positions for the CPP.


In an update on our lead story yesterday about Amazon opening a bookstore in Seattle's University Village, GeekWire did a little snooping at the building, where they "caught a glimpse" of activity behind windows almost entirely covered with construction paper: "There were employees inside carrying books and other boxes around. One man was holding a smaller white box, which looked to be some sort of electronic device like a tablet or e-reader. Numerous bookshelves were already installed in the space, and we noticed two books: The Best Things to Do in Los Angeles: 1001 Ideas and Day Hiking: Olympic Peninsula, both of which are available on, although that's not a surprise."

One construction worker said, "They won't tell me what it is even though I'm working on the building." Another had "heard through the grapevine" that it would be an Amazon store, but didn't have first-hand knowledge, Geekwire noted.

Turntable Project to Spin Vinyl for Indies & Charity

The renaissance of vinyl sales in general and as a profitable sideline alternative for independent booksellers has prompted Carl Lennertz to launch the Turntable Project, a new program through which "booksellers can stock their stores with new vinyl and turntables and will also have the opportunity to nominate a school in need to receive a record player of its own," Bookselling This Week reported.

Deer Park, the sole distributor of Crosley products in the U.S., will serve as the source for record players for booksellers participating in the Turntable Project, while vinyl orders will be placed through a dedicated account manager at Alliance Entertainment. Free freight is available to booksellers on their first order with Alliance when they mention the Turntable Project, but BTW cautioned that "it's important to note that all vinyl is nonreturnable." Bookstores participating in the Turntable Project at any volume will be able to nominate a local underserved school to receive a turntable, with Deer Park donating Crosley record players to selected schools.

"These two companies are both really eager to work with independent bookstores. They love the Turntable Project and they love the charity aspect," said Lennertz, who is collaborating on the initiative with Ron Rice, editor My Bookstore: Writers Celebrate Their Favorite Places to Browse, Read and Shop; and Laura Peraza, who was the webmaster for World Book Night U.S. Questions regarding the project can be addressed to Lennertz.

B&N, Samsung Unveil New Galaxy Tab S2 Nook

Barnes & Noble has unveiled a new co-branded 9.6-inch Samsung Galaxy Tab E Nook, which is now available at B&N stores nationwide and online for $249.99. B&N chief digital officer Fred Argir said the company is "excited to give our customers even more ways to experience reading and entertainment," and highlighted the new device's "spacious large display." B&N is also offering a limited-time trade-in promotion through November 7.

Obituary Note: Paul Prudhomme

Paul Prudhomme, the chef "who put the cooking of Louisiana--especially the Cajun gumbos, jambalayas and dirty rice he grew up with--on the American culinary map," died yesterday, the New York Times reported. He was 75. His books include Chef Paul Prudhomme's Louisiana Kitchen, The Prudhomme Family Cookbook, Louisiana Cajun Magic Cookbook and Chef Paul Prudhomme's Fork in the Road.


Image of the Day: Catching Up with Friends at NEIBA

Three book trade veterans paused for a quick photo op shortly after Tuesday's keynote luncheon at the 2015 New England Independent Booksellers Association Fall Conference in Providence, R.I. Pictured l. to r.: Annie Philbrick of Bank Square Books in Mystic, Conn.; George Gibson, publishing director at Bloomsbury USA; and Chris Morrow of the Northshire Bookstore in Manchester Center, Vt., and Saratoga Springs, N.Y. Philbrick served as moderator for Gibson's well-received presentation, "The Economics of Publishing & How They Impact Booksellers."

Florey's Book Co.: The 'Goal Is to Engage the Public'

Aaron Schlieve, owner of Florey's Book Co., Pacifica, Calif., "runs a shop whose goal is to engage the public," the San Jose Mercury News reported in a profile of the bookstore that was opened in 1977 by Schlieve's grandmother Mary and her brother Jon Black.  

Noting that he began working in his grandmother's bookshop after high school and took it over when she died in 2008, Schlieve said, "I have always been keen on learning as much as I can about a topic that interests me. In addition, it is always nice to hear about a topic from someone who is knowledgeable and enthusiastic." His grandmother once told him she kept the bookstore going because she could not be responsible "for one more nonreader in the world," a philosophy her grandson continues.

'Browsing San Francisco's Best Bookstores'

Noting that the Northern California Independent Booksellers Association "counts no fewer than 39 bookstores currently doing business in San Francisco," SF Weekly featured "a roundup of the city's treasured literary heavyweights and some new favorites, with shelves well worth perusing."

Pennie Picks The Wind Is Not a River

Pennie Clark Ianniciello, Costco's book buyer, has chosen The Wind Is Not a River: A Novel by Brian Payton (Ecco, $15.99, 9780062279989) as her pick of the month for October. In Costco Connection, which goes to many of the warehouse club's members, she wrote:

"Did you know a World War II battle was fought on North American soil? Neither did I, until I read this month's book buyer's pick, Brian Payton's The Wind Is Not a River. Once again it's taken a novelist to open my eyes to a piece of history that had escaped my attention.

"After his brother dies in battle, John Easley, a journalist, decides to find meaning in his loss by investigating the Japanese invasion of Alaska's Aleutian Islands. His disappearance, in turn, leaves his wife, Helen, in a place where she must figure out who she is and what she's capable of doing.

"So much more than a history lesson, this is a beautiful story about the way loss can affect people."

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Elvis Costello on Colbert's Late Show

Today on Fresh Air: Walter Isaacson, author of Steve Jobs (Simon & Schuster, $20, 9781501127625).


Sunday on CBS Sunday Morning: Bob Woodward, author of The Last of the President's Men (Simon & Schuster, $28, 9781501116445). He will also appear on Monday on the O'Reilly Factor.


Monday on the Meredith Vieira Show: Sara Bareilles, author of Sounds Like Me: My Life (So Far) in Song (Simon & Schuster, $28, 9781476727776).


On Monday on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert: Elvis Costello, author of Unfaithful Music & Disappearing Ink (Blue Rider Press, $30, 9780399167256).

TV: The Last Kingdom

BBC America "has dropped some pretty intense footage from the series premiere of The Last Kingdom," adapted from Bernard Cornwell's bestselling book series the Saxon Stories, reported. The eight-part drama from BBC America, BBC Two and Carnival Films, which debuts October 10 in the U.S., stars Alexander Dreymon, David Dawson, Rutger Hauer, Matthew Macfadyen and Emily Cox.

Books & Authors

Awards: Weston Writers' Trust Nonfiction

Rosemary Sullivan won the C$60,000 (about US$46,110) Hilary Weston Writers' Trust Prize for Nonfiction, which honors works published in Canada that "demonstrate a distinctive voice, as well as a persuasive and compelling command of tone, narrative, style and technique," for Stalin's Daughter: The Extraordinary & Tumultuous Life of Svetlana Alliluyeva.

"Compelling figures are essential in a great biography," The jury noted in its citation. "They need not be famous or historically significant but they do require an author to bring to life their passions, ideas, feats, and failures. Rosemary Sullivan achieves all of it with an insightful yet empathetic portrait of Svetlana Alliluyeva. Stalin's Daughter expansively intertwines history, political intrigue, espionage, and domestic drama, yet Sullivan hones the episodes to one struggle: Alliluyeva's attempt to escape her father's shadow. When the 'Soviet Princess' died, she was treated in the media more like a post-Cold War curiosity. Sullivan's book delivers a fully wrought literary heroine."

Book Brahmin: Jonathan Sandys

photo: Jay Ford

Jonathan Sandys, a great-grandson of Sir Winston Churchill, is an international speaker focusing on the life, times and leadership of his illustrious relative. Sandys is co-author--with Dr. Wallace Henley, a senior pastor of Houston's Second Baptist Church and former White House aide--of God and Churchill (Tyndale House, October 1, 2015). It is his first book and presents evidence that supports Churchill's belief that his life was both guided and protected by, as he put it, "Divine intervention."

On your nightstand now:

The Downing Street Years by Margaret Thatcher. I grew up during the Thatcher years and admired her strength and character. I remember the Falklands War, and Lady Thatcher's speeches during that time. Her voice, firm to the enemy in its resolve like my great-grandfather's, but gentle to us as British subjects.

I met Lady Thatcher several times after she left office, and I cherish each moment, especially the first in the Cabinet War Rooms when she lost her husband, Dennis. "He is always wandering off, and I keep losing him," she lamented to me but in humor. It was clear from their entrance, interactions and the way they left together that Margaret and Dennis Thatcher were as in love then as they had been when they first met.

Favorite book when you were a child:

E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial by William Kotzwinkle. I loved the film and so read the book. I was very young and remember my room and my life was littered with drawings that I had done of E.T. The character was very lovable, and as a boy I was incredibly jealous of Elliott.

Your top five authors:

Sir Winston S. Churchill: although related, this is not bias. Great-Grandpapa happened to have a very appealing style of writing. I am engaged from the start and find it difficult to put his books down.

Sir Martin Gilbert, who was not just my great-grandfather's official biographer, but he was a great friend. I have dedicated God & Churchill in part to Martin.

James C. Humes, who produced several Churchill books over the years, and also a DVD set on public speaking.

Jeffrey Archer, one of the "bad boys" of the Thatcher-era. He landed himself in prison for perjury, and in typical fashion, came back with a book on his experiences as a guest of Her Majesty.

Christopher Catherwood has proven himself to be very thorough in his research. He, like James Humes, has also written several books on Churchill, and they are each engaging and accurate.

Book you've faked reading:

War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy. Forgive me, I just found the book so boring; I couldn't get into it.

Book you're an evangelist for:

The Love Dare by Alex Kendrick and Stephen Kendrick. My wife, Sara, and I broke up for a period of five months. When we got back together, The Love Dare was recommended to us. We read it and began applying some of the principles and found to our delight that it strengthened our marriage. It is amazing what the simplest act of love can do to change a person's perspective on life and indeed on marriage.

Book you've bought for the cover:

I'm really sorry, I can't say that I have ever bought a book for the cover. Although I have certainly looked at a book as I was drawn to its cover.

Book that changed your life:

My Early Life by Sir Winston S. Churchill. Having read and listened to many of Great-Grandpapa's speeches and read a few things he had written, My Early Life was not a book I picked up until I was first asked for an overview speech of Churchill's life for a school in Macon, Ga. As I began reading the book, I suddenly became enamored. I realized many similarities between Churchill's childhood and my own. It was because of this book that I decided to become a public speaker and gained the confidence to believe that I would be good at it.

Favorite line from a book:

"Only by being in touch with what motivates you can you then grasp what motivates others." --Star Trek: Imzadi by Peter David

Which character you most relate to:

Mr. Darcy, from Pride & Prejudice. Although he displays conceit and a self-righteous attitude on occasions, I feel he is more honest and blunt in most cases than arrogant. We only see the view of Darcy from Elizabeth's point of view, and it is only later in the book that we realize Elizabeth has been wrong about Darcy and misjudged him entirely. I relate to Darcy from several aspects. I was once arrogant, and it took the introduction of a young lady in my life to quell that arrogance. When Elizabeth Bennet gave Darcy the chance to blossom, she, too, realized there was much more depth to him that she had first assumed.

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

First Among Equals by Jeffrey Archer, for several reasons. Firstly, I either know the history or lived it. Secondly, it is a very exciting story of four men who each enter politics together, and how they climb the greasy political pole to the top and what they are prepared to do to get there. Each of the characters presents an interesting analysis of the politics of the 1960s, to the politics we have today. It has been one of my most favorite books since I was 13, and I have reread it three times.

Book Review

Review: We Five

We Five by Mark Dunn (Dzanc, $24.95 hardcover, 9781938103124, October 27, 2015)

Mark Dunn (Ella Minnow Pea) delivers another high-concept, wildly inventive novel that tells a timeless story. We Five traces the tragic consequences of five sheltered young women responding to the amorous overtures of five young men with less than honorable intent.

The novel combines five versions of this basic story, moving around from Manchester, England, in 1859, to San Francisco, Calif., just before the earthquake of 1906; Sinclair Lewis's fictional town of Zenith, Winnemac, in 1923; London in 1940, during the Blitz; and small-town northern Mississippi in 1997. Jane, Maggie, Carrie, Ruth and Molly are the five women who populate each story. "Sisters of the heart," they gradually become aware of their would-be suitors' deceit and begin to resist. Their efforts are abetted and sometimes complicated by their web of relationships with their families and each other, through a series of increasingly disastrous events. All five versions collide in one apocalyptic climax, which gives way to a startling and triumphant conclusion.

Dunn's structure is ingenious. He tells the story through five distinct voices, against five historic backdrops, but keeps his characters' names, personalities, families and dynamics constant. The result is a seamless narrative with a straightforward plot that hopscotches through time. The five voices and five eras also underscore themes of inevitable conflict between genders and generations, and the power of family and friendship. In Dunn's telling, men justify all manner of violent behavior, often directed at women. However, women are not simply victims; they have the power to absolve men when the violence is warranted, and so Jane's brother, who has killed in war and in defense of Jane, can be forgiven.

Dunn's pyrotechnics have a mixed effect. They sometimes eclipse the emotional heart of the story, especially in the novel's second half, where critical events can feel gratuitous and over-the-top. For example, Molly's father, outraged by the sinister advances of her paramour, fatally attacks him in a tragic scene that is jarring given the sensitive depiction of the five women's emotional lives in earlier chapters. The nightmarish climax, with its glorious epilogue, is yet another hairpin turn, but it provides a satisfying conclusion and transforms We Five into something much more complex and interesting than another harrowing story about the injustice and hurt that men inflict on women. Ultimately, We Five is an exuberantly clever if uneven story with a fresh take on gender dynamics, female friendship and the universal search for love. --Jeanette Zwart, freelance writer and reviewer

Shelf Talker: Five narratives tell a single story about women struggling against the deceits of the young men pursuing them--an entertaining and clever read that upends expectations of gender relationships.

Deeper Understanding

Robert Gray: 'Collaboration Is the New Competition' at IPNE

"Opportunities for collaboration come along all the time, but as independents, we are sometimes so focused on doing it our way that we fail to see the possibilities right in front of us," wrote Independent Publishers of New England president Charlotte Pierce of Pierce Press in the catalogue for this year's IPNE Publishing Conference, held recently in Portsmouth, N.H.

I was there, having been invited to give a little talk about my life in the world of books. What I took away from the show, however, was a keen sense of how that word "collaboration" resonates when considering the future of book world organizations like IPNE.

There was a moment on the first day when attendees were asked to raise their hands if they were a) publishers of other writer's books, b) publishers of their own books, c) hybrid publishers who did both, or d) authors. A lot of hands went up when that final category was mentioned, but IPNE's leaders stressed the importance of self-identifying as publishers, even if you are publishing your own books.

Tordis Isselhardt, Pamela Fenner & Charlotte Pierce

"You have to think of yourself as a publisher," advised Steve Porter in his seminar on marketing through partnerships, adding: "You cannot do it alone." Porter is an author, publisher (Stillwater River Publications) and the founder of the Association of Rhode Island Authors. Earlier, he'd recommended that all attendees do more than just visit the conference bookstore: "When you purchase a book and take it home, you become an advocate for that author."

In considering the "Collaboration Is the New Competition" theme, Pierce observed that the idea "was to establish a back-and-forth flow of information, resources, and support while pursuing our passions as independent publishers and authors, and without creating an organizational structure requiring huge amounts of capital and staffing. Of course this will always be a work in progress, but at the conference, I saw the wheels starting to turn in people's heads and connections starting to happen."

Noting that IPNE members "are a quirky and wildly varying bunch," Pierce added that during the conference, she "could see people becoming aware of how connecting with each other in this group with shared goals and interests would be helpful to them; and how paying it forward to others in the group also helps themselves."

Pierce also presented the first independent publishing achievement awards to IPNE co-founders Tordis Isselhardt (Images from the Past) and Pamela Fenner (Michaelmas Press), "the two IPNE members who taught me the most about the value of paying it forward and being open and transparent when working in publishing teams."

Isselhardt observed that the conference "showed IPNE's strong educational role in providing both general information and individual skill training. Publishers (and writers in search of a publisher or considering self-publishing) need to understand and be informed about the constantly changing Big Picture of the publishing industry. Publishers also need to understand their place in the industry based on a realistic assessment of their own talents and preferences, so they can prioritize their actions effectively and profitably. No matter how long we're in the business, we all benefit from reviewing the essential steps in the creation of a book, i.e. of the publishing process from ideas to a book that sells to a successful back list title that goes on selling--if we're lucky!"

Publishing a book "has never been more accessible or complicated," Fenner said. "While writers and publishers have many options today for getting into print, many may not grasp the importance of nor know how to find reliable resources for appropriate editing, quality book design and effective marketing tools. For more than 15 years, IPNE has offered education and networking opportunities for independent authors, publishers and service providers through regional trade shows, local meetings, weekly video 'office hours,' workshops and our annual conference." Describing this year's conference as "our best to date," she added: "Attendees left with enthusiasm, practical tools for their enterprises and a strong sense of community."

Pierce cited a recent example of collaboration in action. Board member Crystal Ponti of Blue Lobster Book Co. coordinated this year's book awards and found a new client when IPNE partnered with the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance so they could register for the conference at member rates.

"Realizing that Crystal was looking for new clients, I sent her a list of Maine authors and publishers that IPNE had in its resources file," Pierce recalled. "She promptly created a book awards poster for display at our NEIBA exhibit. We retweet each other's tweets, like our Facebook postings. Our relationship has ratcheted up a couple of notches. Crystal are I are both publishers, but we don't regard each other as competitors. By being mindful of opportunities to build each other up, we create an environment in which we both grow and win."

That's precisely the environment I saw being encouraged, and realized, during IPNE's Publishing Conference. --Robert Gray, contributing editor (column archives available at Fresh Eyes Now)

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