Also published on this date: Wednesday, November 4, 2015: YA Maximum Shelf: This Raging Light

Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Atlantic Monthly Press: Those Opulent Days: A Mystery by Jacquie Pham

Feiwel & Friends: The Flicker by HE Edgmon

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers: The Pumpkin Princess and the Forever Night by Steven Banbury

St. Martin's Griffin: Murdle: The School of Mystery: 50 Seriously Sinister Logic Puzzles by GT Karber

Carolrhoda Lab (R): Here Goes Nothing by Emma K Ohland

Allida: Safiyyah's War by Hiba Noor Khan

Ace Books: Servant of Earth (The Shards of Magic) by Sarah Hawley

Quotation of the Day

Betsy Burton: 'Survival Has Turned into Revival'

"Education and the local movement. When we opened the King's English back in 1977, bookselling was easy: Local stores each had their own niche, the only chains were B. Dalton and Walden, and making payroll just wasn't that hard. Then the big chains came to town and those two things--the education, which made us competitive against stores that carried everything, discounted everything, and got preferential treatment from the government, the public and publishers alike (which, of course, made it possible to discount everything), along with the local message, which educated the public and government (and, finally, publishers as the movement took hold) about the importance of local business to our economy and our community--became the twin strategies of our survival. I'm happy to say they've worked--which is why our survival has turned into our revival. Our Indie Renaissance."

--Betsy Burton, co-founder of the King's English Bookshop in Salt Lake City and ABA president, answering Bookselling This Week's question: "What do you think are some of the most important changes in bookselling since you opened your store?"

PM Press: P Is for Palestine: A Palestine Alphabet Book by Golbarg Bashi, Illustrated by Golrokh Nafisi


A Visit to Amazon Books

Isn't it ironic that Amazon started 20 years ago offering the millions of titles a physical bookstore couldn't, and its first bookstore has mere thousands of titles on its shelves? The newly opened Amazon Books is a small space that stocks fewer titles than most other bookstores. It is sleek and elegant, and its literal bricks-and-mortar façade fits nicely in the upscale University Village neighborhood. But at its grand opening, the store seems to have embraced the showroom culture that the company initially developed by foisting it upon competitors.

With news cameras rolling, the store opened at 9:30 a.m. yesterday, after a line had formed outside. When the doors opened, a handful of people applauded, several of whom turned out to be Amazon employees.

In many ways the store feels like a late-era Borders: a clean, appealing space, with a scant number of popular books on the shelves, faced out for greater visibility, while the center of the store is devoted to technology. Kindles are featured throughout the store, including Kids' Fires displayed in the children's section and Kindles stationed in each section for customers to "explore books in this aisle."

In the Seattle Times report on the store's opening, Jennifer Cast, v-p of Amazon Books, stated that "we felt sorry for the books that were spine out" in other stores. The solution? Stock fewer titles, effectively eliminating those that would have been spine-out at more robust bookshops.

Titles from the many imprints Amazon publishes are represented on the shelves, though not prominently or overwhelmingly. Notably, Penny Marshall's memoir My Mother Was Nuts--which Amazon reportedly paid $800,000 to publish--couldn't be found. For titles the store doesn't stock, customers are encouraged to "check out our website."

Each of the mere 5,000-6,000 titles featured in the store rests in stacks of roughly 10 copies, above an Amazon review shelf-talker and barcode. Customers can use their mobile devices to check the price of each item using the Amazon app, or carry the book to one of many price-check stations throughout the store. This is necessary since books in the store are priced as they are online, steeply discounted but variably so.

In every way, Amazon has tried to package its online experience into a bricks-and-mortar retail outlet, begging the question, why? For book lovers, the appeal of exploring a favorite bookstore or a new one is the adventure of finding something you might not have discovered otherwise. Readers like to spend hours even in a small bookstore and still walk away feeling like there is more to see next time. With its small inventory and clinical approach to a bookshop aesthetic, Amazon Books fails to cultivate that atmosphere of endless possibility. After an hour, you've seen it all. For all the fanfare about Amazon's first physical bookshop, Amazon customers might soon realize that it's just easier to get it online. --Dave Wheeler

Farrar, Straus and Giroux: Intermezzo by Sally Rooney

Booksellers React to Amazon Books

"With only 5,000 titles in a space in which Waterstones would put over 10 times that number, it appears to be a tentative dip of the toe into physical bookselling waters. Clearly, however, a skim of the bestsellers away from true bookshops would be very damaging: we very much hope that it falls flat on its face."

--James Daunt, managing director of U.K. bookshop chain Waterstones, in the Bookseller

"Seattle has some of the most concentrated competition for booksellers in the country, both with other independents and with Amazon. The University Book Store has already carved out a significant niche for itself within the local community. We're as close to being a nonprofit organization as you can get without being one; dollars spent at our store support not only the University of Washington community through scholarships and various educational programs but also greater Seattle. We are a cultural hub that hosts more than 500 events a year, brings more than 60 book fairs into Puget Sound schools, and supports a number of literacy programs. People are smart--they know who their real community partners are. We will continue to find new ways to serve our community. It's in our DNA."

--Pam Cady, manager of general books, University Book Store, Seattle

"We can do some things Amazon can't, like serve our local customer base--since Burien and U-Village are a long ways apart, that's one reason why this isn't a huge threat. We do work with some authors on national and even international sales, but we do a lot of work on hosting local and first-time authors who would get lost and unnoticed on Amazon. We're also heavily involved with local schools and in community events, all as part of our own strategy to build a loyal and local core of customers."

--Bill Virgin, co-owner, Page 2 Books, Burien, Wash., in GeekWire

"Bookstores are about the exchange of ideas, and when you get people into an industry like that who don't necessarily need to make money doing it--this is part of the problem with Amazon in the book industry in the first place--then you can kind of have a bloated presence… Certainly if a store that carries only 5,000 titles all of a sudden extinguishes a store that carries possibly 50,000 titles or more, I don't think that's good for the book-buying culture."

--Robert Sindelar, managing partner, Third Place Books, Seattle, in GeekWire

PNBA Exec. Director Thom Chambliss to Retire

Thom Chambliss

Thom Chambliss, executive director of the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association, plans to retire from his position early next year, "but will willingly make myself available to my successor, if s/he would like, to help with the transition," he wrote in a letter to members.

"If I have been successful in my job, the systems that we have in place will make it seem to all of you and to our industry colleagues that no big changes have occurred, but that PNBA continues to get better and better," Chambliss observed. "I do believe that the association will benefit from new leadership and will have a better chance of growing and offering more services in the hands of a younger, more energetic director."

He also noted that he had spoken with PNBA's key show staff "and all of them have assured me that they will remain in their current positions for at least one more year, so that no other serious transitions will need to be considered this year."

The PNBA board has begun working to find his replacement, and will soon post a job description and instructions for submitting resumés of application and letters of recommendation. Interested parties are encouraged not to contact the PNBA board or staff about the position until they have seen the instructions.

"As many of you are aware, I left a much easier and potentially more lucrative job working for a builder of custom homes when I came to work for PNBA in 1993," Chambliss concluded. "It was the best decision that I ever made. Being able to work for people who love the written word, and who go home to read every night, instead of to the bars to drink, has given my life so much more pleasure than I had hoped. It has been a real honor to serve PNBA, and I hope that it has been at least half as good for you as it has been for me."

Indigo Second Quarter: Sales Rise; Net Loss Lower

In the second quarter ended September 26, revenue at Indigo Books & Music grew 8.8%, to C$205.7 million (about US$157.3 million), and the net loss was $1.8 million ($1.4 million), compared to a net loss of $8.5 million ($6.5 million) in the same period a year earlier.

Sales at Indigo and Chapters superstores open at least a year rose 13.6%; at Coles and IndigoSpirit small format stores open at least a year, sales were up 12.9%. Sales at the company's online site,, increased 14.2%.

Indigo emphasized that revenue grew overall despite the company having two fewer superstores and four fewer small format stores. Indigo attributed revenue growth to "continued double digit growth in the general merchandise business, mainly in paper and toys, and strong growth in the core book business, boosted by the trend for adult coloring books."

CEO Heather Reisman commented: "Up against a tough comp from last year, we have demonstrated that we are consistently growing the business and improving profitability."

YA Trend: 'Grounded Contemporary with a Twist'

Among trends and topics in YA book publishing discussed at a luncheon panel hosted by the Women's Media Group in New York City last week, dystopian and paranormal themes are on the wane while "grounded contemporary with a twist" is hot, and sci-fi is popping up.

YA books that contain "a world we recognize but with mystery" are becoming popular, as moderator Maria Russo, children's book editor of the New York Times Book Review, put it.

And panelist Julie Strauss-Gabel, v-p and publisher at Dutton, said she's looking for "bravery and a gymnastic level of ambition."

Panelists also said that adults aren't a stealth target audience or main readership for YA books. Instead, adults tend to discover big YA authors after their books become popular and usually only after they become films.

Social media is important in marketing to teens, who want accessibility to the author and want "authenticity in the author's voice."

Moderator Russo asked the panel whether recent changes made to the Book Review's YA bestseller list help them see better what is selling in bookstores. (Previously, the YA bestseller lists blended hardcover, paperback, e-book and series, making it, in effect, the "John Green list" or the "John Green list with movies," Russo said.)

Dutton's Gabel-Strauss said she is curious to see how the new separation helps discoverability and if it offers more opportunity for new voices to be heard. Another panelist, literary agent Mollie Glick, said it made sense to have a series list separated and that separation of film-related books was important because so much more was budgeted for promotion for film and TV. Panelist Alyssa Sheinmel, author of YA novels including Faceless, added that authors liked the changes because they gave them more opportunity to get on the list. --Susannah Greenberg

Greenberg is president of Susannah Greenberg Public Relations, a book publicity firm, and is a member of the Women’s Media Group.


Image of the Day: Hummingbirds

At the Birder's Garden in San Carlos, Calif., author Terry Masear did a reading and discussed her book on hummingbirds, Fastest Things on Wings (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt). Pictured: Masear (l.) with Birder's Garden owner Bonnie Regalia.

Bates College Honors Retired Bookstore Director Sarah Potter

Sarah Potter (photo: Phyllis Graber Jensen/Bates College)

Bates College, Lewiston, Maine, honored Sarah Potter, who retired as bookstore director on October 30 after 35 years of running what is now a $1.2 million business "with skill and a human touch."

During her tenure, she's hired some 185 Bates students, and hired some students in the 1980s and their Bates children in the 2000s.

"All of us try to help students become fully formed people," said Potter, who is a 1977 graduate of the college. "We all want them to get a sense of who they really are, so that even if they don't really know what they're jumping off into" when they leave Bates, "they have the confidence to jump."

Potter has adjusted the store's mission so that the store sees its "obligation as much more than selling a textbook," Potter said. "It's to help a student somehow get that book," whether through a sale, rental, reserve or other way.

Cool Idea of the Day: The Call Me Ishmael Phone

A Kickstarter campaign has been launched for the Call Me Ishmael Phone, which creators Logan Smalley and Steph Kent describe as "a way for readers around the world to leave voicemail messages about the books they love. Thousands of bibliophiles have called and over a million readers have listened to our library of stories, but until now, we've only been able to share the stories online [].

"The Call Me Ishmael Phone is a way to bring Ishmael's entire library to booklovers in search of their next great read. We've hacked a replica of a vintage payphone and created a new literary device that gives libraries, independent bookstores and readers like you an entirely new way to celebrate and discover great books."

The first beta test of the Call Me Ishmael Phone was at Avid Bookshop, Athens, Ga., and the indie features prominently in the Kickstarter video. Owner Janet Geddis said Smalley is originally from Athens and "a few months ago, one of our mutual friends (former mayor Heidi Davison, a longtime Avid supporter and someone famous for many things, including painting Avid's bathroom when we were setting up shop!) introduced me to Logan via e-mail. I had heard of Call Me Ishmael before and was interested to hear about this mysterious new project he wanted to share with me."

She asked Smalley if he would be interested in joining her bookshop team for a staff meeting. "At Avid that afternoon during our meeting, he told us all about the Call Me Ishmael phone," Geddis recalled. "We could hardly hold back our enthusiasm. Later that week, he brought in a prototype and let my customers and employees try it out while he gathered feedback and even filmed some folks using the phone.  

"In any case, I really feel strongly about this and am wanting to let my indie bookseller friends know about it. It's not gimmicky, and it's totally worth people's time to watch the video even if they have no ability to contribute monetarily. All of us at Avid have watched the video and looked at the Kickstarter page, and not one of us avoided getting goosebumps. That speaks volumes to me."

'Get Lost in a Book' at N.Y. State Indies

"Get lost in a book at these indie shops" in New York state, the Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin advised as it focused on independent booksellers as part of "a series of roundups featuring local stores from places throughout the region, or within easy driving distance." Among the shops featured were RiverRead Books in Binghamton, Buffalo Street Books in Ithaca, Flights of Fantasy in Colonie and Mood Makers Books in Rochester.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Karl Ove Knausgaard on Colbert's Late Show

Diane Rehm: Siddhartha Mukherjee, author of The Laws of Medicine: Field Notes from an Uncertain Science (Simon & Schuster/TED, $16.99, 9781476784847).

The Steve Harvey Show: Graham Elliot, author of Cooking Like a Master Chef: 100 Recipes to Make the Everyday Extraordinary (Atria, $30, 9781476796512).

Watch What Happens Live: Jerry Rice, co-author of 50 Years, 50 Moments: The Most Unforgettable Plays in Super Bowl History (Dey Street, $29.99, 9780062302601).

The Late Show with Stephen Colbert: Karl Ove Knausgaard, author of My Struggle: Book 3 (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $16, 9780374534165).

TV: His Dark Materials

BBC One has commissioned a drama series based on Philip Pullman's fantasy trilogy His Dark Materials, the Bookseller reported, adding that the project will be made in Wales and told across "many episodes and series."

"It's been a constant source of pleasure to me to see this story adapted to different forms and presented in different media. It's been a radio play, a stage play, a film, an audiobook, a graphic novel--and now comes this version for television," said Pullman. "In recent years we've seen how long stories on television, whether adaptations (Game of Thrones) or original (The Sopranos, The Wire), can reach depths of characterization and heights of suspense by taking the time for events to make their proper impact and for consequences to unravel. And the sheer talent now working in the world of long-form television is formidable. For all those reasons I'm delighted at the prospect of a television version of His Dark Materials."

Books & Authors

Awards: Samuel Johnson Winner; 800-CEO-READ Longlist

Steve Silberman won the £20,000 (about $30,840) Samuel Johnson Prize for Nonfiction for his book Neurotribes: The Legacy of Autism & How to Think Smarter About People Who Think Differently. Chair of judges Anne Applebaum described the winning book as a "tour de force of archival, journalistic and scientific research, both scholarly and widely accessible." Toby Mundy, director of the prize, noted that Neurotribes is "a genre-breaking book with a global sweep, by an American author, published by the London imprint of an Australian publishing company."


Longlists have been announced in eight categories for the 2015 800-CEO-READ Business Book Awards. The shortlists will be released December 8, with the overall winner named January 14 in New York City.

Book Brahmin: Anton Bogomazov

photo: Hanna Depp

Anton Bogomazov is the events inventory manager at Politics &  Prose Bookstore in Washington, D.C. He has lived in the capital for five years, and was previously a resident of New York, Toronto, a tiny town in rural Japan and a suburb of Moscow. He reads in and across many genres, including fiction of all kinds, queer lit/nonfiction, graphic novels and comics, essays, history, science, poetry and mythology (the original fiction). You can find him on Twitter @genrebending.

On your nightstand now:

I tend to read four of five books at a time, and I try to be a good bookseller and have at least one not-yet-published book in my stack. Right now, my nightstand pile contains The Narrow Door by Paul Lisicky, The Gap of Time by Jeanette Winterson, The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin, Three Moments of an Explosion by China Miéville, The Core of the Sun by Johanna Sinisalo and The Queen of Night by Alexander Chee. I'm also reading the Harry Potter books in French as an attempt to revive my very rusty knowledge of that language. I read a lot of comics and graphic novels, too, but they don't normally get included in the nightstand pile.

Favorite book when you were a child:

I was heavily into Scandinavian authors as a kid (something that hasn't changed much as I got older), and my favorites were the Moomin books by Tove Jansson and Karlsson-on-the-Roof by Astrid Lindgren, which is not as well known here as her Pippi Longstocking.

Your top five authors:

Ten would probably be easier, but here you go: Caitlín R. Kiernan, China Miéville, Mikhail Bulgakov, Marina Tsvetaeva and Samuel R. Delany.

Book you've faked reading:

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. I feel mildly guilty about it.

Book you're an evangelist for:

The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov. It's amusing to call myself an evangelist for a book in which Satan is one of the characters.

Preparing the Ghost by Matthew Gavin Frank. It's so delightful and strange. Plus, you get to learn words like "scapulimancy."

I know, I cheated, I didn't name just one. Let's say I'm polytheistic when it comes to books.

Book you've bought for the cover:

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke. There were two versions of the hardcover edition when it came out, one with a black raven on white, the other with a white raven on black. I remember standing in the bookstore trying to decide for at least 10 minutes which one to get. I really knew almost nothing about the book, but the cover was so stark, I had to buy it. I got the white raven one, if you're curious.

Book you hid from your parents:

I grew up with wall-to-wall bookshelves. I don't remember any books being off-limits.

Book that changed your life:

I don't have the one book that changed my life. Rather, I have waves of books, with titles adding to each other and finally making me realize something new about the myself or the world. Here's a selection of titles that were or still are incredibly important to me personally: And the Band Played On by Randy Shilts, The Nearest Exit May Be Behind You by S. Bear Bergman, Man Alive by Thomas Page McBee, Prelude to Bruise by Saeed Jones, A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara and Argonauts by Maggie Nelson.

Favorite line from a book:

My desire here is to pick something pithy, but my latest favorite line is from Ann Truitt's Daybook, simply because it conveys such a reassuring feeling of knowing your life path and purpose, and it resonates so perfectly with where I am in life right now:

"I began to see how my life had made itself as I was living it, how naturally and inevitably I had become an artist."

Five books you'll never part with:

A book of Marina Tsvetaeva's poems. Wonderbook by Jeff VanderMeer, because it's such a great tool for inspiration. Among Others by Jo Walton, to remind myself during December retail season that books are indeed magic. My gorgeous volumes of Neil Gaiman's Absolute Sandman (can I count these as one big book?). The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov, but wait, I'm repeating myself.

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

I'll be honest, I have terrible memory for books. It's really inconvenient professionally, since quite often all I can tell the customer is that the book was very good and had people in it. So for me, rereading is almost like reading for the first time. My pick would probably be City of Saints and Madmen by Jeff VanderMeer, because I remember reading it and being amazed that one could be unable to put down such a bizarre volume, both in content and structure.

Book or genre you used to avoid but now love:

I used to avoid poetry, at least in English. I had this notion that I could only relate to poetry if it were written in my native language, which is Russian. But something changed about a year ago, and I started reading a lot of poetry. I would actually sit down with eight or 10 poetry books and just eat them up one after another. I'm not sure why I suddenly changed my mind, but I think it was because I accidentally discovered some contemporary poets writing incredibly honest and often emotionally devastating poetry. My favorite poets now are Saeed Jones, Kate Tempest, Patricia Lockwood and Jamaal May.

Let It Snow

In many parts of the world, winter brings the possibility of snow, and with that, a delightful flurry of picture books.

Toys Meet Snow by Emily Jenkins, illus. by Paul O. Zelinsky (Schwartz & Wade/Random House, $17.99, hardcover, 9780385373302, 40p., ages 3-7, September 22, 2015)
Emily Jenkins and Caldecott artist Paul O. Zelinsky stole hearts with their Toys trilogy of chapter books (Toys Go Out; Toy Dance Party; Toys Come Home), and they reintroduce Little Girl's beloved toy characters in this gorgeous and witty picture book. It's the first snowfall of the year and Lumphy, the ever-curious stuffed buffalo, wants to know why it's snowing. The poetic plush StingRay says it's "[b]ecause the clouds are sad and happy at the same time," but Plastic (a more literal, book-loving rubber ball) says snow is "what rain becomes when the temperature is freezing." A snowy outdoor adventure ensues in this wintery charmer that ends with a strawberry-syrup sunset.

Bear & Hare Snow! by Emily Gravett (Simon & Schuster, $16.99, hardcover, 9781481445146, 32p., ages 4-8, November 3, 2015)
The author-illustrator of Orange Pear Apple Bear, Again and Bear & Hare Go Fishing dresses her endearing bear-hare pair in striped scarves and transports them to a winter wonderland in this winning British import rendered in pencil, watercolor and wax crayons. Hare has a splendid time making snow prints, snow angels and snowballs, but the snowy day doesn't start getting fun for the somewhat distressed Bear until they go sledding. All the trauma of the day is forgotten by the time Bear and Hare are sipping hot chocolate.

The Snowball by Giuliano Ferri (Minedition, $9.99, board book, 9789888240425, 16p., ages 1-3, November 1, 2015)
In this creatively designed board book, a mouse with a festive scarf contemplates a snowball, represented by a die-cut hole. As the mouse starts pushing it up a hill--the die-cut hole/snowball grows larger with every page--and a cat with a cane joins him. "Help us push it," they say to a pig in a top hat and tuxedo. The snowball's pretty big by the time they reach a carrot-carrying rabbit on the top of a hill and--"Oh no!"--it starts to roll down the other side, taking the whole crowd with it! "SPLAT!" All ends well when the animals build a snowman together and decorate it with their combined accessories, from hat to cane. (The rabbit's carrot is the quintessential snowman nose.)

Snow by Sam Usher (Templar/Candlewick, $16.99, hardcover, 9780763679583, 40p., ages 3-7, October 13, 2015)
A redheaded boy wakes up to snow and is desperate to head to the park to play. When he opens the front door, there's a glorious expanse of untrampled whiteness. He wants to be first to trample it, but he has to wait and wait for Granddad, who takes his time getting ready. A little girl beats him to it... as does a veritable zoo of animals. In this exuberant picture book in watercolor and ink, British illustrator Sam Usher captures the delicious sense of anticipation of a snow day, then adds elephants and monkeys and "all the games you can play in the snow" to launch it into the stratosphere.

The Snow Rabbit by Camille Garoche (Enchanted Lion, $16.95, hardcover, 9781592701810, 56p., ages 4-8, November 10, 2015)
The French creator of Fox's Garden (alias Princesse Camcam) conjures an enchanting, wordless story of two blonde sisters, one in a wheelchair, and a white rabbit made of snow who leaps to life in the lilac-hued forest one winter evening. To make the book, Garoche created the cut-paper art, built three-dimensional sets in dioramas, then lit and photographed them with remarkable depth, crisp edges and soft shadows. The result is pure magic.

Dear Yeti by James Kwan (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $17.99, hardcover, 9780374300456, 40p., ages 4-7, November 3, 2015)
"Dear Yeti, We're searching for you. Sincerely, Hikers." Two boys send this note via bird messenger, in hopes the elusive Yeti will receive it. (He does.) The hooded hikers head out into the snowy forest, then into the snow-topped mountains, sending note after note via bird. "We would really like to meet you," the boys say, but the Yeti stays out of sight. The hikers run out of food. They run out of light. And just before a grizzly bear is about to eat them, the Yeti makes his appearance to save them... and carries them home to safety. Altruism trumps shyness in this simple, sweet, enormously stylish debut from James Kwan. --Karin Snelson, children's and YA editor, Shelf Awareness

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