Also published on this date: Wednesday, February 8, 2017: Maximum Shelf: The Confessions of Young Nero

Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Algonquin Young Readers: the Beautiful Game by Yamile Saied Méndez

Berkley Books: Books that will sweep you off your feet! Enter Giveaway!

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


Indigo Third Quarter: Revenue Up 4.5%

In the third quarter ended December 31, revenue at Indigo Books & Music rose 4.5%, to C$400.3 million (about US$304.2 million), and net earnings fell 24.2%, to $40 million ($30.4 million). Sales online and at stores open at least a year rose 3.8% in the quarter. The company operated fewer stores overall in the quarter compared to the same quarter in 2015.

Indigo attributed the gain in revenue to "continued double digit growth in the general merchandise business, with exceptional growth in the Lifestyle categories. The core trade book business remained essentially flat as the business cycled over the trend for adult colouring books in the prior year."

Excluding income taxes, Indigo's net earnings rose 7.3%, to $54.4 million ($41.3 million). The company said that higher net earnings before taxes were "driven by improved revenues and margins."

CEO Heather Reisman commented: "We are pleased to report 4.5% revenue growth in what was a tough season for many retailers. On top of an exceptional 13% revenue growth last year, these results show Indigo has been doing the right things to engage our customers."

Indigo recently began remodeling four of its large-format superstores, which will include "a rebranding from Chapters to Indigo as part of the ongoing strategy to transform its store portfolio and enhance its customer experience."

Blackstone Publishing: Rogue Community College: A Liberty House Novel by David R Slayton

BookExpo Sets Adult Book & Author Breakfast Lineup

The lineup for BookExpo's Adult Book & Author Breakfast, to be held Thursday, June 1, will feature the first appearance ever at the trade show by Stephen King. He will be joined by Owen King, his son and co-author of the upcoming novel Sleeping Beauties, for a special "prologue" to the traditional author breakfast.

Comedian and actress Whitney Cummings (Whitney, 2 Broke Girls co-creator) is hosting this year's author breakfast and discussing her upcoming memoir, I'm Fine... And Other Lies. She will introduce guest speakers Captain Scott Kelly (Endurance: My Year in Space, a Lifetime of Discovery), Kenya Barris (This Is Basic Sh*t), Jesmyn Ward (Sing, Unburied, Sing) and Claire Messud (The Burning Girl).

"Our Adult Book & Author Breakfast is always a highlight of the show, drawing over a thousand attendees interested in discovering new books and engaging with some of the most prominent authors in literature today. It will be a truly memorable morning," said BookExpo event director  Brien McDonald. "This event is just one of many at BookExpo this year that furthers our mission to use books as a unifying platform and a place where all voices can be heard. We are working to showcase throughout BookExpo a diverse range of authors who can each offer a unique perspective on both literature and the world around us."

The Open Book Moves to Canyon Country, Calif.

The Open Book has relocated its Valencia store to 19188 Soledad Canyon Rd. in Canyon Country, Calif. It will celebrate the move February 17 with a grand re-opening featuring store tours as well as the relaunching of the bookshop's monthly Open Mic Night. The Open Book's new 6,000-square-foot space is twice the size of its previous location.

"With this larger space, we will be offering a more cozy study environment, the same level of excellent customer service you are accustomed to, and have more books available for you to discover," according to the company, which also operates a store in Thousand Oaks.

"We had to move, due to rising rental costs," Elizabeth Whitlock, district manager for the company, told Canyon Country magazine. "It's a tough world for the survival of bookstores, but our independent book company is comprised of optimistic, hard-working and passionate individuals who are determined to keep going."

She also noted: "We have an artistic and creative staff that will be constructing a magical reading and shopping environment, complete with custom signs, up-cycled book sculptures, an 1800s library-inspired antiquarian book lounge, and communal study tables that surround our event stage. This stage will play host to some of our classic events, such as the monthly open mic night, and will help us expand to poetry events, author signings, art showcases, and special story times."

GBO Now Frankfurt Book Fair New York

The German Book Office, which has long been the foreign office of the Frankfurt Book Fair in New York City, has changed its name to Frankfurt Book Fair New York Inc. At the same time, Thomas Minkus, v-p, emerging media & English-language markets of the fair, has been named president of the New York office, and Riky Stock, director of the GBO, has been named v-p, director of cultural projects. With the changes, the office has moved from Battery Place into the new Goethe-Institut in New York on Irving Place.

Frankfurt Book Fair New York said the changes were necessitated by the expansion of the office's activities. Beyond generally promoting German-language books and the fair, these include coordinating the Festival Neue Literatur--which features German, Austrian and Swiss authors and this year has the theme "Queer as Volk"--organizing an annual trip of North American editors to German-language publishing houses; organizing a meeting in New York of German and American editors and rights managers; publishing New Books in German, the collection Children's Books on Tour and titles selected by Geisteswissenschaften International; as well as serving as the host office for Publishing Perspectives.

Wi12: Integrating Used Books into Store Inventory

During Winter Institute 2017 last week, four booksellers from used-and-new bookstores gathered to discuss best practices for integrating used books into a store's inventory. The panelists were Jessi Blackstock, manager of Magers & Quinn Booksellers in Minneapolis, Minn.; Harriet Logan, owner of Loganberry Books in Cleveland, Ohio; and Lacy Simons, owner of hello hello books in Rockland, Maine. Shane Gottwals, co-owner of Gottwals Books in Warner Robins, Ga., with 13 other locations in the Southeast and Midwest, moderated the discussion. Here are some of their suggestions.

Start small: The panelists advised starting small by limiting dropoff hours, being extremely selective about what you take, and offering store credit rather than cash for trade-ins. Blackstock suggested that a sidewalk cart of used kids' books would be an easy way for curious booksellers to dip their toes in. In her experience, Blackstock added, it would "turn over like crazy," and drive people toward the larger children's section in store.

Be picky, and be clear about why: Gottwals acknowledged that a common fear for booksellers looking to get into used books might be losing some of their store's identity "as a clean-cut bookstore by throwing in some dusty old paperbacks." But, he said, booksellers can be as selective as they want with used books. Simons said she makes sure that her customers "come into the relationship knowing that we're really particular." She also does not allow dropoffs; customers who want trade in books have to stay there while she goes through them, which gives Simons time to explain why she will or will not accept something.

Be consistent and transparent about pricing: Simons suggested that if more than one person on staff handles trade-ins, there need to be guidelines to establish consistency and avoid having different booksellers paying wildly different prices for the same book. It also helps to be "really upfront from the beginning and do the math for them." At the same time, the panelists agreed that having a completely fixed price system (such as paying $1 for all paperbacks and $5 for all hardcovers, or using the same percentage of MSRP for all books) was extremely difficult, if not impossible, to do. Blackstock said that pricing was fluid and varied from book to book; as an example she mentioned that it took a long time to see any used copies of Anthony Doerr's All the Light We Cannot See, and when they first started appearing as trade-ins, she gave much more for them than she would for the average hardcover book six months after release. Logan, meanwhile, advised against using averages of online prices to set your own prices. She suggested using a percentage of a book's MSRP as a starting point and then adjusting up or down for condition and popularity.

Be aware of what other nearby used bookstores are doing: Blackstock mentioned that with used books, you are in more direct competition with other stores in your area than when you sell only new books. She said it was not uncommon for used bookstores to buy from each other, and "if you're not going to do [a cash program] and all the others do cash, you're not going to get good books."

Cull used inventory often: Blackstock told booksellers to not "treat anything too precious." The advantage of used books, she said, is that there is little upfront cost and all of the sale goes to the store, but those books still need to "turn into cash." If you're not careful, used books can stay on the shelf for years, even more than a decade. With returns, of course, not an option, Blackstock said, it is best to go through your inventory regularly, pull things that haven't sold, and put those on a discount cart. "We sell more books when we dollar-cart more books," said Blackstock. "The more we keep the inventory moving, the higher our sales go."

Rare books are a 'very different animal': While rare books can sell for a great deal of money, it is a much more complicated business to get into, involving a significant investment in time and money, whether that entails training yourself or hiring a rare book specialist. The research involved is considerable and likely requires learning new skills. It also necessitates, as Gottwals said, getting into the "cash game." You can't do a trade-in credit program, he explained, and expect to get a bunch of first editions. Logan said that booksellers need to become familiar with the Antiquarian Booksellers' Association of America's guidelines for condition descriptions, as well as learn how to properly clean and care for old and leatherbound books. Among some of the resources suggested were Collected Books: The Guide to Identification and Values by Allen & Patricia Ahearn and A Pocket Guide to the Identification of First Editions by Bill McBride. Blackstock also cautioned that buying rare books is very expensive, and though a given book may eventually sell for three or four times the amount you paid for it, booksellers need to be prepared for it to possibly sit for years before selling. --Alex Mutter

Obituary Note: Thomas Lux

Poet Thomas Lux, "a self-described 'literary oddball' who threw himself into teaching while remaining a dedicated master of the craft," died February 4, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. He was 70. Lux published 14 collections of poetry "and influenced a generation of writers." His books include To the Left of Time; New and Selected Poems of Thomas Lux: 1975-1995; God Particles; Child Made of Sand; The Street of Clocks; and From the Southland.

Poet Kevin Young said Lux "was not only a great poet, but a great poetry friend and friend to poetry. He was a terrific literary citizen, dedicated to trumpeting the power of poetry and championing the music and many moods of language."

From "Ode to the Unbroken World, Which Is Coming":

It must be coming, mustn’t it? Churches
and saloons are filled with decent humans.
A mother wants to feed her daughter,
fathers to buy their children things that break.
People laugh, all over the world, people laugh.
We were born to laugh, and we know how to be sad;
we dislike injustice and cancer,
and are not unaware of our terrible errors.

G.L.O.W. - Galley Love of the Week
Be the first to have an advance copy!
A Forty Year Kiss
by Nickolas Butler
GLOW: A Forty Year Kiss by Nickolas Butler

A Forty Year Kiss by Nickolas Butler is a passionate, emotionally complex love story that probes tender places within the heart and soul. When 60-somethings Charlie and Vivian--married then divorced in their 20s--reunite after four decades, they are swept up by the very best of what their romantic relationship once offered. "Anyone who has ever thought about what might have been will find this book fascinating," says Shana Drehs, senior editorial director at Sourcebooks Landmark. "The story is a brilliant exploration of a second chance at love, always realistic but never saccharine." As Charlie and Vivian build a bridge from past to present, their enduring love paving over potholes, Butler (Shotgun Lovesongs) raises questions about how life changes people--or does it?--and delivers another heartening, unforgettable novel. --Kathleen Gerard, blogger at Reading Between the Lines

(Sourcebooks Landmark, $27.99 Hardcover, 9781464221248, 
February 4, 2025)


Shelf vetted, publisher supported


Image of the Day: Cold Songs on a Cold Night

Following her reading and q&a on a recent wintry evening at Prairie Lights bookstore, Iowa City, Iowa, Dometa Brothers signed copies of her new book, Cold Songs (Ice Cube Press), with the assistance of Prairie Lights event host and bookseller Lindsay Park (right).

Bookstore Chalkboard of the Day: City Books

In the spirit of the times, City Books, Pittsburgh, Pa., shared photos on Facebook of its sidewalk sandwich board proclaiming the location a "Sanctuary Store."

Personnel Changes at Abrams

At Abrams:

Patricia McNamara has been promoted to digital & social media manager, children's division.

Mamie VanLangen has been promoted to digital & social media manager, adult division.
Carmen Álvarez has joined the company as assistant manager, Wimpy Kid brand marketing. She formerly worked in the marketing department at HarperCollins Children's Books.

Jordan Sapiro has been promoted to publicist, adult division.

Nicole Schaefer has been promoted to marketing & publicity associate, children's division.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Viet Thanh Nguyen on Late Night with Seth Meyers

Late Night with Seth Meyers: Viet Thanh Nguyen, author of The Refugees (Grove Press, $25, 9780802126399).

TV: I'm Judging You

Shonda Rhimes's production company Shondaland and ABC Signature Studios have acquired the rights to Luvvie Ajayi's debut book, I'm Judging You: The Do Better Manual, with plans to develop it as a cable comedy series, Deadline reported. The project falls under Shondaland's overall deal at ABC Studios and its cable division, ABC Signature. Deadline noted that with five drama series at ABC, "Shondaland has been looking to expand its portfolio into comedy."

Books & Authors

Awards: SCBWI On-the-Verge Emerging Voices; Stella

The Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators announced the winners of this year's On-the-Verge Emerging Voices Award, which is "inspired in part by the SCBWI's increasing efforts to foster underrepresented voices in children's literature." Executive director Lin Oliver said, "Every child should have the opportunity to see themselves reflected in the pages of a book. And all authors should have the opportunity to write their truth. SCBWI is proud to contribute to this important effort to bring forth new voices."

The 2016 recipients are Collette Childers for the YA novel Hypersleep, "a story that explores a 17-year-old's attempt to find a cure for her juvenile arthritis by undergoing a radical cryonics treatment"; and Sindhu Vijayasarathy's YA novel Instant Karma, which "tells the story of two girls from different centuries whose lives are inexorably linked through karma and reincarnation."

Each winner receives a paid trip to the SCBWI Summer Conference in Los Angeles to meet editors, agents and other industry professionals. The winning manuscripts will also be available to select agents and editors via a secure website.

The award is made possible through the generosity of Sue and Martin Schmitt of the 455 Foundation. "Diverse writers need to know that not only do their voices and stories matter--but are necessary," Sue Schmitt wrote. "We live in a world where we must strive to understand other points of view and each other for the betterment of humankind."


A longlist has been released for the A$50,000 (about US$38,120) Stella Prize. The judges said the "12 titles on this longlist are outstanding examples of the literature that the Stella Prize values: original, excellent and engaging. Women's writing is flourishing in this country, and the Stella Prize, now in its fifth year, is dedicated to the recognition and celebration of the growth and continuity of Australian women's literature." The shortlist will be announced March 8 and a winner named April 18. View the Stella Prize longlist here.

Reading Group Choices' Most Popular January Books

The two most popular books in January at Reading Group Choices were The Second Mrs. Hockaday by Susan Rivers (Algonquin) and The Association of Small Bombs by Karan Mahajan (Penguin Books).

Reading with... Elle Katharine White

photo: Kira Spencer, Light in the Dark Photography

Elle Katharine White, author of Heartstone (HarperVoyager, January 17, 2017), grew up in Buffalo, N.Y., where she learned valuable life skills like how to clear a snowy driveway in under 20 minutes and how to cheer for the perennial underdog. When she's not writing, she spends her time reading, loitering in libraries and secondhand bookshops, and cultivating strong feelings about fictional characters.

On your nightstand now:

A hand-me-down copy of Andersen's Fairy Tales and Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett are both permanent fixtures on my bedside table. I'm also devouring Saladin Ahmed's Throne of the Crescent Moon--beautiful world building, fantastic monsters and a main character who loves tea, which makes him my favorite fictional person.

Favorite book when you were a child:

The Eleventh Hour: A Curious Mystery by Graeme Base. It was one of those riddle books written in rhyme that had clues hidden in the pictures and margins. Even after I solved the mystery (which took an embarrassingly long time), I kept coming back for the gorgeous illustrations.

Your top five authors:

C.S. Lewis first opened the door to wonder. Madeleine L'Engle infused all her works with a touch of the numinous. Victor Hugo led me through the entire spectrum of human emotion--twice. Ursula K. Le Guin made me fall in love with the power of story. And Terry Pratchett taught me how to laugh at myself.

Book you've faked reading:

Beowulf. Had to read it for school--never did. Although the first line in Seamus Heaney's translation is probably the best book opener I've read to date: "So. The Spear-Danes in days gone by/ and the kings who ruled them had courage and greatness."
So. There's that.

Book you're an evangelist for:

China Miéville's Embassytown. As a writer, reader and student of communication, this book blew me away. It explores the complexities of language as an organic, evolving thing from the perspective of a living simile. I can't recommend it highly enough.

Book you've bought for the cover:

Echopraxia by Peter Watts. Even if you're not familiar with the genius of Peter Watts, one look at that cover and you'll know: it's going down. A massive spaceship hovering above a star, all violent angles and the promise of fire, watched over by a figure in the corner at once trapped by and totally disconnected from the chaos before him.

Book you hid from your parents:

I book-napped the entire collection of Collier's Junior Classics from my parents' library when I was a kid and didn't return them for a decade.

Book that changed your life:

My sixth grade teacher read Louis Sachar's Holes aloud to our class. I thought I would hate it, but from the first page I was spellbound. That was the book that turned me into a reader.

Favorite line from a book:

"Life, with its rules, its obligations, and its freedoms, is like a sonnet: You're given the form, but you have to write the sonnet yourself." --A Wrinkle in Time, Madeleine L'Engle

Five books you'll never part with:

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë, The Hunchback of Notre-Dame by Victor Hugo, The Man Who Was Thursday by G.K. Chesterton, The Complete Poems of John Donne and Perelandra by C.S. Lewis.

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

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle for many, many reasons, not the least of which being she made liverwurst-and-cream cheese sandwiches sound like the most magical meal on earth.

The literary universe in which you would most like to get lost:

Terry Pratchett's Discworld. Preferably as a member of the Ankh-Morpork City Watch.

Children's Books: Celebrate Black History Month

Our recommended children's books for Black History Month include the riveting stories of a former slave who taught a horse to read, a Confederate White House servant-cum-spy, and an incredible scholarly journey that starts on the ocean floor with centuries-old slave shackles.

Detectives-to-be will be fascinated by the Spy on History series debut, Mary Bowser and the Civil War Spy Ring (Workman, $12.95, hardcover, 96p., ages 10-14, 9780761187394, December 13, 2016) by Enigma Alberti (the nom de plume of a group of authors, each writing a book in the series). Mary Bowser was a real-life former slave who pretended she couldn't read so she could serve as a suitably "dull-witted maid" for Confederate president Jefferson Davis--and spy on him at the same time. Clues to the whereabouts of Mary's hidden diary are cleverly embedded in the book's text, as well as in Tony Cliff's illustrations, and a replica Civil War cipher wheel and other spycraft materials are tucked into an envelope to aid in deciphering the mystery. A thrilling read for lovers of history and mystery.

Thirteen American Revolution-era African American writers, preachers, sailors and enslaved servants who took risks to change the course of history are profiled in this big, handsome collection, Answering the Cry for Freedom: Stories of African Americans and the American Revolution (Calkins Creek/Boyds Mills, $18.95, hardcover, 96p., ages 9-12, 9781629793061, October 4, 2016). Gretchen Woelfle tells the remarkable stories of the lives of Sally Hemings, Boston King, Agrippa Hull and others in an engaging and historically accurate style. The biographies tell of slaves who fought in the Revolution, slaves in Boston and in the South and slaves who became free and advocated for others' rights. Graceful black ink silhouettes by R. Gregory Christie further elevate this elegant volume.

When Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and scuba diver Michael H. Cottman learned of the discovery of dozens of slave shackles on the ocean floor where a slave ship sank 300 years ago, he was moved to trace the history not only of this particular ship, but of the African slave trade and his own ancestry as an African American. Shackles from the Deep: Tracing the Path of a Sunken Slave Ship, a Bitter Past, and a Rich Legacy (National Geographic, $18.95, hardcover, 128p., ages 10-up, 9781426326639, January 3, 2017) tells of his often heartbreaking quest, from Florida to England to Barbados to Senegal, as he ponders the lives of the men, women and children who were wrenched from their villages and transported in horrific conditions to the New World. This utterly fascinating story concludes with heartening information about the National Association of Black Scuba Divers, which sponsored a dive to the sunken slave ship wreck for inner-city African American kids from Tennessee.

Debut author Linda Williams Jackson's powerful, vividly told novel Midnight Without a Moon (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $16.99, hardcover, 320p., ages 10-12, 9780544785106, January 3, 2017) opens during the summer of 1955 in Mississippi. Thirteen-year-old Rose Lee Carter, whose dark skin has "sentenced her to the [cotton] field" begins to awaken to the injustice in black people's lives, especially when her aunt visits from Saint Louis, where she has become active in the Civil Rights movement. Rose must choose between staying in her beloved but deeply troubled Mississippi or heading north where she may be safer. Either way, it becomes clear she cannot remain silent forever.

Veterinarian and former slave William "Doc" Key (1833-1909) teaches a horse he calls Jim to sit, fetch and play dead... and, with time and patience, to count, read and do arithmetic! Doc raised awareness for the humane treatment of animals and broke down racial barriers at the turn of the last century. In Step Right Up: How Doc and Jim Key Taught the World About Kindness (Lee & Low, $19.95, hardcover, 48p., ages 7-12, 9781620141489, October 15, 2016), Donna Janell Bowman and illustrator Daniel Minter tell his amazing true story with energy, heart and stunning linoleum-block prints.

Grace, a light-skinned, blue-eyed African American girl, is called up from the slave's quarters to work in the Big House for "hateful as a toad" Missus Allen. After being told her whole young life to "keep those eyes/ looking up--/ that's where the good Lord/ n His angels live," it's nearly impossible to start keeping her eyes down and her mouth closed. When she loses the fight to stay silent, she and her family escape into the marshy area between Virginia and North Carolina called the Great Dismal Swamp. Ann E. Burg's moving and lyrical Unbound: A Novel in Verse (Scholastic, $16.99, hardcover, 352p., ages 9-12, 9780545934275, September 27, 2016) is based on narratives of escaping slaves.

--Emilie Coulter, freelance editor and reviewer

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