Shelf Awareness for Thursday, January 5, 2017

Aladdin Paperbacks: The First Magnificent Summer by R.L. Toalson

Del Rey Books: Thief Liar Lady by D.L. Soria

Chronicle Books: Is It Hot in Here (or Am I Suffering for All Eternity for the Sins I Committed on Earth)? by Zach Zimmerman

First Second: Family Style: Memories of an American from Vietnam by Thien Pham

Harvest Publications: The Dinner Party Project: A No-Stress Guide to Food with Friends by Natasha Feldman

Wednesday Books: Guardians of Dawn: Zhara (Guardians of Dawn #1) by S. Jae-Jones


Amazon to Open Bookstore in Manhattan

Amazon's bookstore in Seattle

Amazon confirmed plans to open its first New York City bookstore this spring in Manhattan's Time Warner Center. The Wall Street Journal reported that the 4,000-square-foot operation will be "in the Shops at Columbus Circle on the edge of Central Park. The multistory shopping center, owned by Related Cos., is home to clothing and shoe stores such as Coach and Cole Haan as well as several upscale restaurants, including Per Se."

In an e-mail to the Journal, an Amazon spokeswoman said the company "is excited" about the location, while a Related Cos. spokeswoman "also expressed excitement with the deal."

This will be the sixth bricks-and-mortar shop Amazon has opened or announced. The first launched in Seattle in 2015, followed by locations in San Diego and Portland, Ore. Stores are also in the works for Chicago and Dedham, Mass.

In New York City, Amazon "is considering a location in the large shopping center under development in Hudson Yards by Related Cos. and Oxford Properties Group," the Journal noted, adding that the development isn't expected to be completed until 2018.

Built on the site of the old New York Coliseum, the Time Warner Center had a large Borders store when it opened in 2003, an opening that was celebrated with a black-tie event with Jon Stewart performing live in the lobby. The Borders store closed in 2011, when the company went out of business.

Blackstone Publishing: All Is Not Forgiven by Joe Kenda

Holiday Hum: Season Ends with a Bang

At Vero Beach Book Center, Vero Beach, Fla.

The holiday season ended with a bang for many booksellers after an unusually late Hanukkah and several erratic few weeks following Thanksgiving when bad weather in some parts of the country adversely affected sales.

As noted in Bookselling This Week, the American Booksellers Association said that overall sales for the last seven weeks of 2016 rose 5% over the same period a year earlier, as reported by ABA member stores to the Indie Bestseller List. And unit sales for the full year rose just under 5%.

"Given the challenging period leading up to the election, we're delighted with these results," ABA CEO Oren Teicher said. "Of course, every store in the country didn't see these gains; but the national numbers are positive. And the trends we've been seeing these past few years--with new stores opening; expansions in both locations and space; as well as existing stores selling to new owners--continued in 2016."

The New England Independent Booksellers Association noted that during the holiday period, many member stores had "record-breaking sales during the last week, with Christmas Eve (a Saturday) being the strongest of the month--and for some, the biggest day they've ever had."

Changing Hands, Tempe and Phoenix, Ariz., "finished the year a bit up and the month, which started so slowly, also up a bit," according to co-owner Gayle Shanks. "There were no new records set, but given the climate of the country, I was thrilled that people were getting books for gifts."

At Back of Beyond Books, Moab, Utah, in December sales of new books, used books and sidelines (excluding rare books) rose 19.4% over December 2015, and for the year the store was up 9.31%, owner Andy Nettell wrote. "We didn't have any one huge seller for the holidays, nor did we feel like buying was extraordinary, but consistently strong."

Tom Nissley, owner of Phinney Books, Seattle, Wash., characterized the holiday season as "good," with sales up 10% over last year. "I think the weather made the individual days a little more up and down," he wrote, but "it helped to have a wide range of solid fall books, fiction especially."

And at Parnassus Books, Nashville, Tenn., which nearly doubled in space last year, business was good, as reported by the ABA's Oren Teicher. (As he does every year, Teicher worked a few days during the holiday season at a member store, this past season at Parnassus.) He commented: "If anyone doubts the long-term viability of indie bookstores, all I can say is, go and hang out at Parnassus Books for a few days. It was jumping!"

KidsBuzz for the Week of 03.27.23

U.K. Book Trade 'Sees Strong Christmas Sales,' Hopeful 2017

The U.K. witnessed a strong holiday book market. Citing Nielsen BookScan figures, the Bookseller reported that £83.3 million (about $102.4 million) worth of print books "were sold in the run up to Christmas--the highest since 2007. The strong Christmas also indicates that sales in the U.K. print book market in 2016 were up for a second year in a row." For the first 51 weeks of 2016, "192 million print books were sold for £1.56 billion [about $1.9 billion], already 5.1% up in value on 2015's 52 week total and 2.5% up in volume with a week in hand."

Tim Godfray

In his end-of-year note, Booksellers Association CEO Tim Godfray predicted the "possibility" of more openings than closures in 2017, adding: "If we can achieve this, we will create a win win for booksellers, publishers and authors. We hope publishers can think of ways to encourage especially new bookshop openings.... There will be lots of uncertainties next year, particularly caused by the Brexit discussions. The graph for booksellers is starting to move up, after a very difficult period."

He also observed: "Being a forecaster seems to be even tougher than being a bookseller these days! Thank heavens so many of the former were wide of the mark when predicting the death of the physical bookshop and the demise of the printed books. I know that there are a few more critical days to go before the year-end, but I have been hugely heartened by the anecdotal sales' reports from our members in the U.K. and Ireland. Consumers do appear to be coming back to the printed book and to bookshops."

Godfray concluded optimistically: "Three cheers for our members, who have worked so hard. But they have been helped by very many publishers and authors. I hope that you can look back and take the view that you too have had a good year."


Busboys & Poets Hosting Inaugural Peace Ball

On January 19, Busboys and Poets will host the Peace Ball: Voices of Hope and Resistance at the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. About 3,000 people are expected to attend, DCist reported.

"It's not really an inaugural ball, it's more of a gathering of folks to have some joy and camaraderie and get energized for, I think, a very long and arduous road ahead of us," said Andy Shallal, owner of Busboys and Poets. He added that hosting this gathering at the new museum adds a "very important dimension to the event," reminding guests of the country's "incredible amount progress despite some of the bumps that we currently see and have seen."

Artists and activists expected to attend include Angela Davis, Alice Walker, Danny Glover, Melissa Harris-Perry and Van Jones. "There have been a lot of positive things to think about so we wanted to have a celebration of those things and look forward to more activism, resistance, and people standing up for those things that they've fought for so long," Shallal said.

Obituary Notes: Kristin Keith; Earl Wells; Judith Ortiz Cofer

Kristin Keith

Kristin Keith, the beloved Norton sales rep whose territory included much of the Mid-Atlantic states and the South, died yesterday. She was 45 and had battled myelofibrosis for the past year.

Keith had been in the business for more than 20 years, starting with a two-week temporary holiday season job at Tower Books in Portland, Ore. After managing a Tower Books in Fairfax, Va., she was a buyer at Koen Book Distributors. She then became a regional PGW rep, and in 2008 she joined Norton. She was a former board member of the New Atlantic Independent Booksellers Association and in 2013 won the association's Helmuth Sales Rep of the Year Award.

She is missed by many. We will run remembrances of her in tomorrow's issue.


Bookseller Earl Wells, who in 1978 embarked "on a mission that changed the cultural landscape of Miami" when he and his wife, Eursla, "opened the first black-owned bookstore in South Florida," died December 24, the Miami Herald reported. He was 91. Afro-In Books and Things "was a dream project for the husband-and-wife local educators. Here was a bookstore that aimed to rectify the paucity of black books in local bookstores and libraries."

Located in Liberty City, Afro-In "included fiction and nonfiction works of black novelists, poets and historians. The store carried children's literature and reference books about black culture in America, Africa and Cuba," the Herald noted.

"When it comes to books about blacks in the Diaspora, where else can you go?" Wells asked in a 1990 Herald feature. "Everywhere you turn, there's a book staring at you. I designed it that way. You can't get out of here without buying a book."

After the couple retired in 1993, the shop changed hands to two different families before closing in 2009.


Author Judith Ortiz Cofer, a retired University of Georgia professor of English and writing, and an accomplished poet and author, died December 30, the Athens Banner-Herald reported. She was 64. Cofer was inducted into the Georgia Writer's Hall of Fame in 2010.

Her books include First Person Fiction: Call Me Maria; Silent Dancing: A Partial Remembrance of a Puerto Rican Childhood; The Latin Deli: Telling the Lives of Barrio Women; Reaching for the Mainland & Selected New Poems; The Meaning of Consuelo: A Novel; An Island Like You: Stories of the Barrio; If I Could Fly; and Woman in Front of the Sun: On Becoming a Writer.

In a tribute, University of Georgia Press director Lisa Bayer wrote: "I was heartbroken to learn of Judith Ortiz Cofer's death on December 30th. The Press was wildly fortunate to publish her first novel, The Line of the Sun, in 1989.... Because of her own experience navigating a male-dominated Deep South campus and white-dominated literary world, Judith was a fierce advocate for writers of color, especially women. The first time I met her she was championing Toni Cade Bambara's induction into the Georgia Writers Hall of Fame. I went on to serve as the editor for her final book, The Cruel Country, a haunting and beautiful memoir about grieving her mother's death from cancer. In a turn of events that sounds taken from fiction, Judith was diagnosed with cancer while the book was in production.... I will miss having lunch with her at 'her' booth at DePalma's downtown. I will miss her e-mails signed always with 'Abrazos.' I will miss hearing about her grandson, Eli. I will miss her."


'Booksellers Always Have a Story to Tell'

Nancy Scheemaker, general manager of the Northshire Bookstore, Saratoga Springs, N.Y., wrote to us: "We enjoyed Shelf's Bookstore Chalkboard of the Day on 2017 Reading Resolutions so much that we were inspired to create a version of our own. An ordinary interoffice bookstore e-mail chain unfolded as the team responded to the concept. Booksellers always have a story to tell about their reading lives, don't they?"

Scheemaker shared a recollection from Northshire bookseller Jennifer Armstrong: "I read a book about something I knew nothing about, and 10 years later I was celebrating New Year's Eve at the South Pole with some super-nerds and some ice core drillers from Australia. It was weird, but on the plus side I toasted the start of 2004 with twenty year old Scotch over 3,000-year-old ice. Some books should have warnings on them 'may change your life.' "

Bookstore Chalkboard of the Day: The Bookshop Wigtown

From the Facebook page of The Bookshop in Wigtown, Scotland, a Hogmanay (last day of the year) Haiku:

Twenty sixteen. Done.
Brexit and Trump still to come.
Grab your books and run.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Tim Ferriss on Dr. Oz

Dr. Oz: Tim Ferriss, author of Tools of Titans: The Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires, Icons, and World-Class Performers (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $28, 9781328683786).

The Talk: Taraji P. Henson, co-author of Around the Way Girl: A Memoir (Atria/37 INK, $26, 9781501125997).

Wendy Williams: Carrie Keagan, co-author of Everybody Curses, I Swear!: Uncensored Tales from the Hollywood Trenches (St. Martin's Press, $26.99, 9781250026200).

Movies: Captain Underpants

A first look at the animated film Captain Underpants, based on the bestselling books by Dav Pilkey, was offered by Entertainment Weekly, which noted that the movie "follows George Beard (Kevin Hart) and Harold Hutchins (Thomas Middleditch), two fourth graders who hypnotize their tyrannical principal (Ed Helms) into stripping down, tying a curtain around his neck, and declaring himself Earth's newest defender."

Helms "has managed to tap into the sheer stupidity of Captain Underpants," said director David Soren (Turbo). "He's a delusional superhero who thinks he's got all kinds of powers and has literally zero ability beyond just that of a middle-aged man." EW noted that "because the books are known for their irreverent, genre-bending style, the film plays with form in a similar way, switching between traditional CG animation and other media, from hand-drawn 2D comic scenes to sock puppet sequences."

"The lovely thing is that we have two creative boys at the center of this thing, so anything they dream up really is something we can just lean into heavily," Soren said. "It constantly keeps the story feeling like it's been made by two fourth graders, as opposed to me." Captain Underpants hits theaters June 2.

This Weekend on Book TV: Michael Lewis

Book TV airs on C-Span 2 this weekend from 8 a.m. Saturday to 8 a.m. Monday and focuses on political and historical books as well as the book industry. The following are highlights for this coming weekend. For more information, go to Book TV's website.

Saturday, January 7
1:30 p.m. Coverage from the Bill of Rights Day Book Festival, hosted by the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, Pa. (Re-airs Sunday at 12 a.m.)

7:15 p.m. Arnold Punaro, author of On War and Politics: The Battlefield Inside Washington's Beltway (Naval Institute Press, $29.95, 9781612519067). (Re-airs Sunday at 7 a.m.)

11 p.m. Michael Lewis, author of The Undoing Project: A Friendship That Changed Our Minds (Norton, $28.95, 9780393254594). (Re-airs Sunday at 8 p.m.)

Sunday, January 8
8:15 a.m. Edward Alden, author of Failure to Adjust: How Americans Got Left Behind in the Global Economy (Rowman & Littlefield, $35, 9781442272606). (Re-airs Sunday at 11:15 p.m.)

9:15 a.m. Gino Segrè and Bettina Hoerlin, authors of The Pope of Physics: Enrico Fermi and the Birth of the Atomic Age (Holt, $30, 9781627790055). (Re-airs Monday at 1 a.m.)

4:15 p.m. Ronald C. White, author of American Ulysses: A Life of Ulysses S. Grant (Random House, $35, 9781400069026). (Re-airs Monday at 7:20 a.m.)

5 p.m. Geneive Abdo, author of The New Sectarianism: The Arab Uprisings and the Rebirth of the Shi'a-Sunni Divide (Oxford University Press, $29.95, 9780190233143). (Re-airs Monday at 4 a.m.)

Books & Authors

Awards: Bookish U.K. New Year's Honours List

Historian Antony Beevor was knighted in the New Year's Honours list, and former Penguin U.K. managing director Helen Fraser was made a Dame, the Bookseller reported. Beevor was honored "for services in support of Armed Forces Professional Development," while Fraser was lauded for "services to Education, relating to her work as chief executive of the Girl's Day School Trust following her publishing career."

In addition, Quartet publisher Naim Attallah, author and illustrator Shirley Hughes and philosopher A.C. Grayling received CBEs; writer Aminatta Forna and Society of Chief Librarians past president Ciara Eastell were awarded OBEs; and MBEs went to author Fiona Sampson as well as veteran library campaigner and former publisher Desmond Clarke.

Attainment: New Titles Out Next Week

Selected new titles appearing next Tuesday, January 10:

Doctorow: Collected Stories by E.L. Doctorow (Random House, $30, 9780399588358) collects 15 of the late author's short stories.

A Really Good Day: How Microdosing Made a Mega Difference in My Mood, My Marriage, and My Life by Ayelet Waldman (Knopf, $25.95, 9780451494092) outlines the author's experience taking tiny doses of LSD.

The Unbanking of America: How the New Middle Class Survives by Lisa Servon (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $27, 9780544602311) looks at how Americans are moving away from the traditional banking system.

Economism: Bad Economics and the Rise of Inequality by James Kwak (Pantheon, $25.95, 9781101871195) argues that many concepts taught as basic economics are false.

Three Days in January: Dwight Eisenhower's Final Mission by Bret Baier and Catherine Whitney (Morrow, $28.99, 9780062569035) chronicles President Eisenhower's last days in office.

American Hookup: The New Culture of Sex on Campus by Lisa Wade (Norton, $26.95, 9780393285093) penetrates modern college sexual norms.

The Dark Room by Jonathan Moore (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $24, 9780544784673) is the sequel to The Poison Artist, a thriller about a San Francisco homicide inspector.

The Bear and the Nightingale: A Novel by Katherine Arden (Del Rey, $27, 9781101885932) is a dark fairy tale set in the Russian wilderness.

Always Happy Hour: Stories by Mary Miller (Liveright, $24.95, 9781631492181) is a collection of 15 short stories.

RoseBlood by A.G. Howard (Amulet/Abrams, $18.95, 9781419719097) is a teen novel inspired by Phantom of the Opera from the author of the Splintered series.

The Runaway: Valkyrie (Book 2) by Kate O'Hearn (Aladdin, $17.99, 9781481447409) is the second book in a middle-grade fantasy series in which Freya is on a new quest to track down the runaway Valkyrie of Norse legend.

Quicksand: What It Means to Be a Human Being by Henning Mankell (Vintage, $16.95, 9780525432159).

The Burning Page (The Invisible Library Novel) by Genevieve Cogman (Roc, $16, 9781101988688).

IndieBound: Other Indie Favorites

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

The Fate of the Tearling: A Novel by Erika Johansen (Harper, $25.99, 9780062290427). "Johansen has created an incredibly intense, intriguing, and completely captivating conclusion for her Tearling trilogy, that is sure to please all readers awaiting Queen Kelsea's fate. Rash, reckless, and filled with rage, Kelsea has surrendered to the Red Queen while unwittingly unleashing the Orphan, a threat so evil that both soon find themselves fighting together for their own survival. Will Kelsea unravel the mystery of her magical sapphires and save the Tear kingdom from ultimate destruction? Or, is she destined for an early demise thereby sealing the fate of the Tearling?" --Kristin Bates, McLean & Eakin Booksellers, Petoskey, Mich.

The Glass Universe: How the Ladies of the Harvard Observatory Took the Measure of the Stars by Dava Sobel (Viking, $30, 9780670016952). "Spectrography is a way of studying stars by taking pictures that separate astral light into different wavelengths. The practice was pioneered by Dr. Henry Draper of the Harvard Observatory in the late 1800s, but the long and detailed work of interpreting the images and classifying the stars was done by a group of women. In this long overdue tribute to Harvard's 'human computers,' Sobel, author of the classic Longitude, brilliantly intertwines science, history, and biography, charting not only the advances in astrophysics from the 1870s to the 1940s, but also following the progress women made in establishing themselves in a notoriously male-dominated field." --Laurie Greer, Politics & Prose Bookstore and Coffeehouse, Washington, D.C.

The Madwoman Upstairs: A Novel by Catherine Lowell (Touchstone, $16, 9781501126307). "The Madwoman Upstairs is both a reference to the insane wife of Edward Rochester in Jane Eyre and to Samantha Whipple, who is the last remaining descendant of the Bronte sisters. This exciting literary debut is in part a study of literature, specifically the works of the Bronte sisters, and in part an exploration of the mystery of their legacy. Samantha cannot escape her past with their work, the world's interest in her inheritance of previously undiscovered family treasures, and the current puzzle of artifacts mysteriously appearing in her room that may or may not answer some of her questions. For mystery and Bronte fans alike, this is a delightful romp by very clever author to watch." --Terry Gilman, Mysterious Galaxy, San Diego, Calif.

For Ages 4 to 8
Chicken Story Time by Sandy Asher, illustrated by Mark Fearing (Dial, $17.99, 9780803739444). "Apparently, everyone loves story time--both children and chickens! But what happens when you keep adding more chickens and more children to the festivities? Chaos, and lots of clucking! Will the librarian figure out how to bring calm back to the library? A fun--and noisy--new story time classic!" --Debbie Buck, Vintage Books, Vancouver, Wash.

For Ages 9 to 12
Threads by Ami Polonsky (Disney-Hyperion, $16.99, 9781484746905). "Clara and her parents are mired in grief for her older sister, adopted from China, whom they lost to cancer. At the mall one day, Clara aimlessly reaches into a handbag on display only to find a note pleading for help from Yuming, a child imprisoned in a factory in China where the bag was made. Clara knows immediately that she was meant to rescue Yuming and the other children in the factory. The story, told from each child's perspective, is riveting and deeply moving. What a wonderful opportunity for American readers to get an eye-opening look at the bitter reality for some of the world's children." --Banna Rubinow, the river's end bookstore, Oswego, N.Y.

For Teen Readers
Spindle by E.K. Johnston (Disney-Hyperion, $18.99, 9781484722282). "Generations ago, the Storyteller Queen saved her kingdom by driving the demon out of her husband and into a prison. But the prison is crumbling and the demon is regaining her power. This is a beautiful book about finding home when one's home is lost, the power of creation, and of love, servitude, and the intersection of the two. A true masterpiece in which real magic is found in simple choices and the bonds you create." --Rachel Bellavia, Read Between the Lynes, Woodstock, Ill.

[Many thanks to IndieBound and the ABA!]

Book Review

Review: The White City

The White City by Karolina Ramqvist, trans. by Saskia Vogel (Black Cat/Grove Press, $16 trade paper, 224p., 9780802125958, February 7, 2017)

Stieg Larsson's The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo may have sparked a Swedish crime phenomenon, but former editor-in-chief of Sweden's Arena magazine Karolina Ramqvist is putting her own stamp on the genre with the sensitive Karin and her mysterious gangster lover, John. A follow up to The Girlfriend (not yet published in English), in which the paramours first appear, The White City is the self-contained story of Karin's lavish life gone on the rocks after John has disappeared and the Swedish authorities are about to seize their modernist mansion, car and ill-gotten bank accounts.

All Karin has left is their infant daughter, Dream, and a safe full of guns. Her phone and utilities are soon to be disconnected; winter's wind and snow chill her cement-floored house. John's former gang members and their girlfriends won't return her calls. Karin is down to eating canned food and stale muesli, smoking cigarette butts from ashtrays, selling her designer bags and shoes online, and having quick sex with the pizza delivery guy while she can still afford to order in. And, of course, caring for Dream--breastfeeding her, bundling her for stroller walks, changing her diapers and singing her to sleep. Karin's once extravagant edgy life has been shrunk to one of motherhood: "Dried pools of breast milk and urine, patches of drool, and globs of spit-up splotched the champagne-colored satin sheets.... Dirty towels and crumpled wet wipes were strewn among glasses and bowls crusted with leftovers." Can Karin muster the energy and wits to use John's small arsenal to shake money out of his fellow mobsters? Can she be the mother to Dream that she wants to and feels she ought to be?

If lean on plot, The White City is rich in language and ambience. Moody, mysterious, maternal and magnetic, it is a story set against a frozen landscape "mottled with meltwater and mud splatter," with slippery subway stairways and immigrants shoveling snow from roofs. Winner of Sweden's prestigious 2015 Enquist Prize, it is a haunting novel of a woman adrift yet firmly attached to romantic memories of her lover and the simple needs of her daughter. She may be broke, but she is not broken as she realizes that "children are a kind of asset.... Bringing her joy when there was nothing to feel joyful about." Like a Madonna of the tundra, Karin is a resilient and irresistible protagonist, and Ramqvist is a serious contender for the Swedish literary limelight. --Bruce Jacobs, founding partner Watermark Books & Cafe, Wichita, Kan.

Shelf Talker: Karolina Ramqvist's The White City is an evocative, moody story of a missing mobster's lover--once living large, but now left with only her infant daughter and a safe full of guns.

KidsBuzz: Highwater Press: Heart Berry Bling by Jenny Kay Dupuis, illus. by Eva Campbell
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