Shelf Awareness for Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Overlook Press: Bad Men by Julie Mae Cohen

Shadow Mountain: Highcliffe House (Proper Romance Regency) by Megan Walker

Simon & Schuster: Register for the Simon & Schuster Fall Preview!

Avid Reader Press / Simon & Schuster: The Ministry of Time Kaliane Bradley

Akaschic Books, Ltd: Go the Fuck to Sleep Series by Adam Mansbach, Illustrated by Ricardo Cortés

Tommy Nelson: You'll Always Have a Friend: What to Do When the Lonelies Come by Emily Ley, Illustrated by Romina Galotta

Quotation of the Day

'A Bookstore Is Not a Stage Set'

Roxanne Coady

"In this business, you always have to be on your toes and take nothing for granted.... A bookstore is not a stage set.... It has to reflect the things that matter to readers."

--Roxanne Coady, owner of R.J. Julia Booksellers, Madison, Conn., in a Connecticut Post article

BINC: Do Good All Year - Click to Donate!


Bright Leaf Books to Open in Winston-Salem, N.C., in March

Samuel Puliafito

Samuel Puliafito will open Bright Leaf Books in downtown Winston-Salem, N.C., in March. The 1,600-square-foot bookstore will stock new and used literary fiction and scholarly titles, in addition to periodicals, small gifts and fine writing supplies.

"Downtown Winston-Salem is a diverse and vibrant neighborhood, and a prime location for a new bookstore," Puliafito said. "We look forward to engaging with the area and providing a literary refuge in the heart of downtown."

Puliafito has been a lifelong book collector and a part-time online bookseller for the last year. He received the T. Kimball Brooker Prize for Undergraduate Book Collecting from the University of Chicago and is a member of the Caxton Club.

Bright Leaf Books is located at 229 W. Fifth St., Winston-Salem, N.C. 27101; 626-823-2040.

GLOW: Workman Publishing: Atlas Obscura: Wild Life: An Explorer's Guide to the World's Living Wonders by Cara Giaimo, Joshua Foer, and Atlas Obscura

Kensington Founds John Scognamiglio Books

John Scognamiglio
(photo: Kevin Mathis)

Kensington Publishing has launched John Scognamiglio Books, an imprint headed by Kensington editor-in-chief John Scognamiglio that will publish four to six hardcovers a year specializing in "the high-quality commercial fiction that readers love." Its first two titles are The Last Suppers by Mandy Mikulencak (January 2018) and This I Know by Eldonna Edwards (May 2018).

Scognamiglio joined Kensington in 1992 as an editor and became editor-in-chief in 2005. He commented: "My hope for the program is to shine a special spotlight on those novels that I feel are extra special. There's nothing I love more than discovering new authors and sharing them with others."

President and CEO Steven Zacharius said, "We're so pleased to offer John his own imprint. It's very well deserved, as shown by his contribution to Kensington during his 25-year tenure editing bestselling authors such as Lisa Jackson, Joanne Fluke and Ellen Marie Wiseman.... For him to curate and shape his own list will give readers a special opportunity to be introduced to wonderful stories and discover new authors."

Publisher Lynn Cully added, "John has been instrumental in shaping Kensington Publishing into the broad-based commercial publisher that it is today. When John joined the company 25 years ago, Kensington was primarily a publisher of mass market romance, horror and true crime. With his keen eye for quality and unerring sense of commercial taste, John has nurtured and developed authors into bestsellers, expanded our women's fiction and mystery program, and made significant contributions to our trade line."

Graphic Universe (Tm): Hotelitor: Luxury-Class Defense and Hospitality Unit by Josh Hicks

Obituary Notes: Jonathan Philip Matson; Marc Spitz

Jonathan Philip Matson, president of the Harold Matson Co. literacy agency in New York City, died unexpectedly of heart failure on January 31. He was 67.

Matson worked at the agency for 30 years, continuing his father's work representing such authors as Richard Condon, Robert Ruark and Herman Wouk. He began his publishing career at Simon & Schuster and then worked for 15 years at Harvard University Press as manager of subsidiary rights.

A funeral service will be held at Christ the Redeemer Anglican Church, 188 Elliott St., Danvers, Mass., on Saturday, February 11, 2017 at 11 a.m. Relatives and friends are also invited to attend the reception that will follow. For more information, click here. Memorial contributions may be made to the Trustees of Reservations, Essex County Greenbelt, or to the Music Ministry of Christ the Redeemer Church.


Music journalist, playwright and author Marc Spitz died February 4, Rolling Stone reported. He was 47. His books include Poseur: A Memoir of Downtown New York City in the '90s; Twee: The Gentle Revolution in Music, Books, Television, Fashion, and Film; We Got the Neutron Bomb: The Untold Story of L.A. Punk (co-written with Brendan Mullen); Nobody Likes You: Inside the Turbulent Life, Times & Music of Green Day; Bowie: A Biography.

"Marc Spitz was a great journalist & a generous, incisive man who would hate this part. Best person I ever got mugged with. He will be missed," author Sloane Crosley tweeted.

Wi12: Writing Effective Blurbs

"I can't think of a single thing you can do in your store this week--that every colleague in your store can do this week--that's going to make a bigger impact than writing a blurb," said David Enyeart of Common Good Books in St. Paul, Minn., during the Wi12 Bookselling 101 session "Writing Effective Blurbs." Moderated by Luisa Smith of Book Passage in Corte Madera, Calif, the panel also included Pamela Klinger-Horn of Excelsior Bay Books in Excelsior, Minn., and S&S editor/author Peternelle Van Arsdale.

Writing blurbs "is one of the best tools we have in our arsenal," said Smith.

Simplicity and enthusiasm are key components. Klinger-Horn noted that she "writes a lot of blurbs, not because I am a great writer by any stretch of the imagination, but I do like to talk about books and I like to share my enthusiasm for them. Don't let blurb writing become this intimidating chore that stops you from writing anything because you're paralyzed by doubt about your writing skills."

Luisa Smith, Pamela Klinger-Horn, Peternelle Van Arsdale, David Enyeart

One tip she shared was to use the publisher letter accompanying an ARC for jotting notes on as you read. You can consult it later when writing the blurb. "You want something simple and concise that people can read quickly and get a great idea about the book and why it might be something they'd enjoy," Klinger-Horn said. "Don't be afraid to say really outrageous, memorable and dramatic things as long as they're true."

Enyeart shared a handout that featured a dozen things booksellers can do with a blurb. "Please note they're roughly chronological, and writing a shelf-talker is point #8 on that list," he said. "There's a lot you can do before you get the book in the store," including sending blurbs to sales reps, submitting to Indie Next and Edelweiss, adding them to your website and sharing with colleagues.

He also recommended reading ARCs early: "All things being equal, if you have two galleys in front of you and you need to choose one, pick the one that's farther out. You can make more impact with your blurb.... You have more time to get it out, the publisher has more time to use it, you'll just be able to do more with it generally."

Van Arsdale offered a three-sentence template for anyone facing blurb writer's block: premise (what it is); how it made you feel/how it will make the reader feel; comparison to one or two books like it.

"Imagine you're talking to a particular customer or a friend and use the kind of language that you would use with them," she said. "You could even try saying it aloud before you write it down.... If you try to say too much, you just lose people. There's probably two or three important things you want to say about the book. Say those."

Ultimately, sharing the blurb as widely as possible matters. "Submit something," Klinger-Horn advised. "Most of life is just showing up. So show up on the Indie Next list, show up on Edelweiss, get the word out there." --Robert Gray


Road Trip: More Books Than People

Urueña, a medieval town in Spain known as Villa del Libro (town of books), "has more books than people," Travelers Today reported, noting that there are 12 bookshops in a community of fewer than 200 people.

Pennie Picks As Close to Us as Breathing

Pennie Clark Ianniciello, Costco's book buyer, has chosen As Close to Us as Breathing: A Novel by Elizabeth Poliner (Lee Boudreaux/Back Bay, $15.99, 9780316384131) as her pick of the month for February. In Costco Connection, which goes to many of the warehouse club's members, she wrote:

"Family dynamics, for better or worse, have always fascinated me. I grew up happy, with a drama-free mom. It's through books that I dip into the foreign worlds of tragedy, secrets and familial power plays. This issue's book buyer's pick, Elizabeth Poliner's As Close to Us as Breathing, is a great example of the kind of book that spirits readers away into a different family's reality.

"This saga shows how a tragedy can shape multiple generations over decades. Molly, the narrator, who is 12 when an accident happens, is part of a cast of characters who are fully fleshed out, adding to just how real the story and these people feel."

Personnel Changes at Sourcebooks, Melville House, Naval Institute Press

Heidi Weiland has been promoted to director of trade sales at Sourcebooks. She joined the company in 2008 as key account sales manager and was promoted to national sales manager in 2011.


Peter Clark has joined Melville House as sales manager. He was formerly director of sales at RosettaBooks, where he began five years ago as distribution manager.

Ian Dreiblatt has joined Melville House as director of digital marketing and editor of the company's blog MobyLives. He was previously senior publicist and academic marketing manager at Seven Stories Press, and before that was marketing manager for the Dalkey Archive Press.


Meagan Szekely has joined Naval Institute Press as marketing manager. Previously, she worked in acquisitions at Johns Hopkins University Press.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Sheelah Kolhatkar on Fresh Air

CBS This Morning: John Tarnoff, author of Boomer Reinvention: How to Create Your Dream Career Over 50 (Reinvention Press, $14.95, 9780997953909).

Fresh Air: Sheelah Kolhatkar, author of Black Edge: Inside Information, Dirty Money, and the Quest to Bring Down the Most Wanted Man on Wall Street (Random House, $28, 9780812995800).

On Stage: 1984

Producers Sonia Friedman and Scott Rudin (Harry Potter and the Cursed Child) will bring their hit London stage adaptation of George Orwell's 1984 to Broadway this summer at the Hudson Theater, Variety reported. The show, which is co-adapted and directed by Robert Icke, will open June 22, with the start date for previews yet to be determined. The play was originally produced in the U.K. by Headlong, Nottingham Playhouse and the Almeida Theater. The design team remains on board, but casting for the American production has yet to be announced.

Books & Authors

Awards: Jhalak Shortlist

A shortlist has been released for the inaugural £1,000 (about $1,245) Jhalak Prize Book of the Year by a Writer of Color, which celebrates works by British/British resident BAME authors. Chair of judges Sunny Singh said the shortlist "showcases the variety, scope, depth, and literary excellence to be found amongst writers of color in Britain today. The diversity of backgrounds, themes, forms and genres are testament to the wide spectrum of great writing being produced in the country." The winner will be announced during Bare Lit Festival 2017. The Jhalak Prize shortlisted titles are:

The Girl of Ink and Stars by Kiran Millwood Hargrave
A Rising Man by Abir Mukherjee
Speak Gigantular by Irenosen Okojie
Black and British: A Forgotten History by David Olusoga
The Bone Readers by Jacob Ross
Another Day in the Death of America by Gary Younge

Book Review

Review: The Stranger in the Woods

The Stranger in the Woods: The Extraordinary Story of the Last True Hermit by Michael Finkel (Knopf, $25.95 hardcover, 224p., 9781101875681, March 7, 2017)

On April 4, 2013, 47-year-old Christopher Thomas Knight was arrested during a break-in at a summer camp for the disabled in the woods of central Maine. What made that otherwise unremarkable apprehension of a petty thief extraordinary was the identity of the perpetrator--someone who had spent 27 years in those woods, intentionally cut off from any human contact. The Stranger in the Woods is journalist Michael Finkel's intimate account of Knight's long sojourn, one man's singular response when the tension of living in society became unbearable.

After Knight left his job installing home and vehicle alarm systems, and walked away from the world without a word in 1986, he made his way to the area of North Pond and Little North Pond, about 25 miles north of Augusta, where he settled for the duration of his time in the woods. He supported himself through periodic raids on the nearby camp and its seasonally occupied cabins. By the time of his capture, he had racked up, by his own estimate, some 1,000 thefts, a record that astonished some of the locals and infuriated others.

One of the most striking aspects of Knight's isolation was the fact that his elaborate hiding place--a "living-room-sized clearing completely invisible a few steps away, protected by a natural Stonehenge of boulders and a thicket of hemlocks"--lay about a three-minute walk from the nearest cabin. And yet, in all those years, his only human encounter was a brief one with a passing hiker in the 1990s. Knight's ability to survive the brutal Maine winters alone required both ingenuity and courage.

Without trying to endow Knight's story with some larger meaning, Finkel (True Story: Murder, Memoir, Mea Culpa) adroitly connects it to accounts of other hermits in groups he categorizes as "protesters, pilgrims and pursuers." But this one is not so easily pigeonholed. Despite considerable reflection, Knight, a well-read man who loves Shakespeare and Emily Dickinson, and whose favorite books include Dostoevsky's Notes from the Underground, never arrived at a satisfactory explanation of his own for his flight.

In the fast-moving 200 pages of The Stranger in the Woods, Finkel takes pains not to deify or demonize Christopher Knight. He does offer an undeniably sympathetic portrait of his subject, a "refugee from the human race," fleeing contact "because the world is not made to accommodate people like him." His account will appeal to readers who enjoy stories of encounters with both the natural world and the natures within. --Harvey Freedenberg, attorney and freelance reviewer

Shelf Talker: Journalist Michael Finkel offers a fascinating look at one man's 27 years as a hermit in the Maine woods.

The Bestsellers

Top-Selling Self-Published Titles

The bestselling self-published books last week as compiled by

1. Dark Humanity by Various
2. The Room Mate by Kendall Ryan
3. Egomaniac by Vi Keeland
4. Forever Secret (Forever Bluegrass Volume 5) by Kathleen Brooks
5. Put Out (Kilgore Fire Book 5) by Lani Lynn Vale
6. Full Package by Lauren Blakely
7. Preppy: The Life and Death of Samuel Clearwater (King Series Book 6) by T.M. Frazier
8. Stay by A.L. Jackson
9. The Debt by Karina Halle
10. The Billionaire's Virgin by Penny Wylder

[Many thanks to!]

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