Shelf Awareness for Monday, October 16, 2017

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


Fabled Bookshop & Cafe to Open in Waco, Tex.

The future home of Fabled Bookshop

Alison Frenzel and Kimberly Batson are "working to create a downtown spot to draw other book lovers together" in Waco, Tex. The Tribune-Herald reported they "are planning to open Fabled Bookshop and Café next summer in a spacious old building at 215 S. Fourth St. They envision a space for 20,000 to 30,000 books, along with a coffee bar, a fun children's section and event space that will be open to author readings and children's birthday parties."

As co-owner of Heritage Creamery and Common Grounds, Batson said she has learned the importance of creating a distinctive, welcoming space where customers feel they belong: "One of our big drives is having an aesthetic that's engaging. When you have places that have culture, that have an atmosphere that set them apart, people are drawn to that. When you pair that with books and people who are passionate about books, it's a no-brainer."

"We want to be trusted booksellers," Frenzel noted. "We want this to be a place where someone who doesn't read can come in and say, 'I'm going on vacation. What can I read?' But it will also be a place where avid readers can feel at home. We want to have a place where people can sit and savor their books.... We want to bring back the nostalgia of reading."

She added that "finding the location was the biggest challenge. We wanted foot traffic and also enough parking, and we wanted to be in the heart of the city." Behrens Loft Partners owns the building and has plans to renovate the 7,500-square-foot downstairs area for the bookstore.

Frenzel and Batson met last year through someone who knew they shared a vision of opening a bookstore. "That's been such a great thing," Batson said. "We're both from Waco, and we have so many mutual friends and acquaintances.... As we've done our research in all the different bookshops, we've seen every shop has its own purpose and passion and vision. What's been so surprising to Alison and myself is how our vision is so aligned. We realize this is really rare that we have the same purpose and passion for what we want to bring to Waco."

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

Bookstore Sales Fall 10.9% in August

August bookstore sales fell 10.9%, to $1.4 billion, compared to August 2016, according to preliminary estimates from the Census Bureau. This marks the second down month after a four-month streak in which bookstore sales rose every month. At least some of the decline can be attributed to comparisons to last summer, which had strong sales because of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. For the first eight months of the year, bookstore sales are $7.1 billion, down 2.6% compared to the same period in 2016.

Total retail sales in August rose 3.9%, to $491.6 billion. For the year to date, total retail sales have risen 3.8%, to $3,744.5 billion.

Note: under Census Bureau definitions, the bookstore category consists of "establishments primarily engaged in retailing new books."

Farrar, Straus and Giroux: Intermezzo by Sally Rooney

Amazon Tests the Waters with 'All-New' Kindle Oasis

Amazon unveiled the "all-new" Kindle Oasis, "the first waterproof (IPX8) Kindle allowing you to read in even more places, from the bath to the swimming pool," according to the company, which claimed that the upgraded e-reader features "our largest, highest-resolution Paperwhite display yet and a thin and light ergonomic design" and "a battery life measured in weeks, not hours." The Kindle Oasis, which is retailing at $249.99, will begin shipping October 31. Launches BookishFirst, now a part of NetGalley, is launching BookishFirst, an early preview and review platform where avid readers can discover new books and authors, read pre-publication excerpts, win free books, provide blurbs and reviews, and share their love of books with others.

At BookishFirst, readers can enter raffles for free books by writing blurbs ("First Impressions") based on excerpts ("First Looks"). Raffle winners receive the book approximately one month before publication and then post reviews to major book retail sites on pub day. Readers earn points for each action, which can later be redeemed for more free books. The launch raffle includes books from Berkley Publishing Group, Del Rey, Disney-Hyperion, Gallery Books, Harlequin, Sourcebooks Fire and St. Martin's Press.

Lindsey Lochner, v-p, marketing engagement, at NetGalley said BookishFirst "offers a new level of engagement for the passionate book-loving community that has already connected with the strong, curated editorial voice on We're also excited to offer publishers a new platform to capture early reviews and create buzz around their books directly with avid readers. We foresee BookishFirst becoming an important tool for publishers to gain consumer insights, analyze trends, and better understand how to connect directly with readers."

Obituary Note: Philip Levy

Philip Levy, owner of Bridge Street Books in Washington, D.C., died October 12, the Georgetowner reported. He was 72. Levy founded the independent bookstore at 2814 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, in 1980. George Will once called it "a small island of individuality." Levy's obituary notice said that in addition to family and friends, he is survived by "the dedicated staff of Bridge Street Books."

"We're deeply saddened at Bridge Street today," the booksellers posted on Facebook.

FBF17: Notes from the EIBF

For the second consecutive year, booksellers and bookseller association heads from around the world gathered at the Frankfurt Book Fair for a meeting of the European and International Booksellers Federation. Speakers shared best practices and insights into book markets as varied as the United Kingdom, Germany, the United States and even the Faroe Islands.

Susanne König

During her keynote presentation, Susanne König, executive director of powerHouse and powerHouse on 8th in Brooklyn, N.Y.--and the recipient of the first Frankfurt Buchmesse U.S. Booksellers Prize from Frankfurt Book Fair New York (formerly the German Book Office)--related that 30%-50% of sales during a typical evening event are not actually tied to that event. She explained that people come in, have fun and browse around, and if drinks are served, the "money flows a little easier." She added that a two-hour event in the evening often accounts for around 50% of a single day's sales volume, and if she closed her stores at 6 p.m. or 7 p.m. she "wouldn't be able to survive."

When asked if there had ever been any disasters in terms of organizing and running events, König replied that publicists sometimes insist on having ticketed events, but will decide to cancel the event after disappointing ticket sales rather than go back to their client and "say no one wants to see you."

Pierre Coursières, chief executive of the French bookstore chain Le Furet du Nord and a board member of France's Syndicat des distributeurs de loisirs culturels, said that the best thing his bookshop did last year was create "Le Cercle des Lecteurs," which Coursières translated as the "club of readers." Similar in concept to a teen advisory council but open to adults, the "club of readers" consists of 20 passionate customers who help review and recommend upcoming titles for Furet du Nord in exchange for galleys and ARCs. The store has also organized a fiction award, selected by the club of readers, and is planning awards for comics, nonfiction and other genres.

Coursières said that the 20 members were "mostly women of all ages" and "crazy of reading," adding that he was "amazed" by the quality of their contributions: "their expertise was at the best level." One of the club members, he related, was even chosen to be a jury member for a French literary prize.

At the bookstore Rit & Rák on the Faroe Islands, owner Kári Árting created a book prize for a Faroese-language novel. Árting explained that though 200-250 books are published in Faroese every year, he has often found himself or his booksellers asking publishers for a "book that doesn't exist." In the lead-up to the country's annual literary festival in 2014, Árting wanted a contemporary Faroese novel about identity and decided to do it himself rather than go to a publisher. At the end of the festival, Rit & Rák launched a competition for a contemporary novel set in the Faroes that came with a prize of 50,000 Danish krone (a little less than $8,000) and a publishing contract with a leading publisher. The contest's winner, Árting said, was published last year.

During his presentation, Árting said that Rit & Rák accounts for about 50% of the market on the Faroe Islands, and when asked how he achieved this, Árting said that it was because he stays extremely local and focuses on the Faroese language and culture. Before he opened his store, he recalled, the main bookstore "had Danish books in front." When Árting started, he "put Faroese books in front."

Daniel Lager

Daniel Lager, co-owner of the bookstores Bücherstube Fuhlsbüttel and Bücherstube am Krohnstieg in Germany, recalled that while Bücherstube am Krohnstieg, which opened near Hamburg in May 2016, was being built, the windows to the bookstore were never blocked and the door was always open. Curious residents could take a look at what was going on in the space, even come inside and ask questions over tea and coffee. Lager explained that he felt people were naturally curious and it would be "very wrong" to not "serve that curiosity." He also suggested: "If you do anything in your shop, don't hide it. Be open about it." People will want to know what's going on, and you could very well be the "talk of the town."

Lager said that perhaps the best thing he did in terms of organizing the store was not using fixed labels for bookshelves and bookstore sections. Rather, Lager installed blackboards on the walls above the shelves, and the labels for sections are written in chalk by hand. The system allows for flexibility in rearranging the store and trying new arrangements. Lager remarked that though his store does not sell tea or coffee, he and his employees will sometimes offer a beverage to a customer in order to "make them stay longer." He doesn't advertise this, though, because then people will simply take the drink to go.

Jane Streeter, owner of the Bookcase in Lowdham, England, and former president of the Booksellers Association of the U.K. & Ireland, discussed her store's annual Brilliant Book Award. Created in 2007, the award sees local schoolchildren between the ages of 11 and 13 vote for their favorite book of the year. The process begins in November, with a small committee of school librarians selecting a shortlist of six age-appropriate titles. Schools then order those books from the Bookcase at a 20% discount and organize reading groups for the award throughout the winter and spring. In March, the students vote for the winner, and they also design the award's logo.

Streeter reported that publishers and authors "really love this award" and that it has "such positive outcomes" for all schools involved. And while the Bookcase does see a nice commercial benefit for a relatively small project, Streeter said that the real advantage is how the award has "raised our profile considerably among schools" in the region. Relationships with publishers, she added, have also been "greatly enhanced."

Sveinung Ramunda

Norwegian bookseller Sveinung Råmundal outlined some of the political efforts of the Norwegian Booksellers Association, of which he is a board member. Most recently, the NBA has helped secure a "prolonged exemption" for fixed book prices from new laws meant to further liberalize Norway's economy. Råmundal explained that while many in Norway's government prefer a free market, Norway's parliament wanted to keep fixed book prices. He said he thinks Norway will keep fixed prices in the future and that he hopes to get a "book law" protecting it. Last year, Norway also launched a support scheme meant to promote bookshops as social and cultural spaces for building community. Norwegian booksellers can apply for grants of up to €5,000 (about $5,910) for bookstore projects that will be "good for the local community."

Alexander S. Belenky, researcher and member of the city of Moscow-owned bookstore Moscow Book House, was on hand to speak about the Association of Book Distributors of Independent States, a booksellers association covering countries that were once part of the Soviet Union. Belenky reported that during the Soviet era, bookstores were supported by the state and paid no rent and no more than half of the utility fees. But since the dissolution of the Soviet Union, bookstores have lost government support, with many politicians believing that the digitalization of bookselling is inevitable and that bookstores no longer have a place in society. The ABDIS is attempting to get the Russian government to support and protect books and literature in the same way it supports and protects other cultural activities including music, theater, cinematography and visual arts.

In Australia, what was once called National Bookshop Day has been transformed into Love Your Bookshop Day, Australian Booksellers Association chief executive Joel Becker reported. The old National Bookshop Day, he explained, had begun to be regarded as an "institutional celebration of bookselling," and has now been turned into an Australia-wide celebration about loving your bookshop and a call to action for shopping local and independent. Held on the second Saturday in August, the new and improved Bookshop Day saw most participating stores experience growth of at least 25% over that same Saturday the year before.

And last but not least, Mats Ahlström, owner of Djursholms Bokhandel in Sweden and president of the Swedish Booksellers Association, discussed Swedish Books Sales, a program started in 2012 to collect sales data from Swedish bookstores. Ahlström called SBS a "goldmine" of useful information, and said that the SBA applied and received a grant of €100,000 (about $118,215) to develop the program. Among the goals for the program are including data from book subscription services such as Storytel and Bookbeat, which currently operate only in Sweden but Ahlström said would soon spread across Europe the way Spotify once did, and increasing the monitored market share to 85% of bookstores. --Alex Mutter


Image of the Day: Harrisburg Book Festival

At the Harrisburg Book Festival in Harrisburg, Pa., sponsored by the Midtown Scholar Bookstore and Cafe, Shelf Awareness reviewer Harvey Freedenberg moderated a panel on book reviewing in the digital age with novelist Susan Coll, critic Bethanne Patrick and author Marion Winik. Pictured: (standing, l.-r.) Freedenberg; Alex Brubaker, Midtown's events director; and (front, l.-r.) Coll, Patrick and Winik.

Happy 5th Birthday, Cellar Door Books!

Congratulations to Cellar Door Books, Riverside, Calif., which celebrates its fifth birthday this coming Saturday, October 21, from 11 a.m.-8 p.m., with a storytime; giveaways for which book club members, the top 50 customers of all five years, and book purchasers on Saturday are eligible; and the Jordan College Social, a celebration of the new Book of Dust series by Philip Pullman that will include refreshments and games (first book in the series from Knopf is La Belle Sauvage).

Cellar Door Books is in the Canyon Crest Towne Centre, about a mile from the University of California, Riverside, and not far from Riverside City College and Cal Baptist. Owner Linda Nurick writes on the store's website, "I can't believe it's been almost five years. Don't worry; indie bookstores are coming back. People do read, people of all ages, and bookstores are important elements in an active, literate community."

Personnel Changes at Highlights

Michael Eisenberg has been promoted to v-p, associate publisher for the Highlights Retail Group. Previously he was associate publisher and director, book marketing. He will continue to direct marketing as well as oversee day-to-day operations and supervise the managing editorial and production departments.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Matthew Walker on Fresh Air

CBS This Morning: Scott Kelly, author of My Journey to the Stars (Crown, $17.99, 9781524763770).

Fresh Air: Matthew Walker, author of Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams (Scribner, $27, 9781501144318).

Harry: Melissa Ben-Ishay, author of Cakes by Melissa: Life Is What You Bake It (Morrow, $26.99, 9780062681270).

PBS's Newshour: Walter Isaacson, author of Leonardo da Vinci (Simon & Schuster, $35, 9781501139154). He will also appear tomorrow on CBS This Morning and NPR's On Point.

Conan repeat: Bryan Cranston, author of A Life in Parts (Scribner, $27, 9781476793856).

Comedy Central's the Opposition with Jordan Klepper: David Litt, author of Thanks, Obama: My Hopey, Changey White House Years (Ecco, $27.99, 9780062568458).

Late Night with Seth Meyers repeat: Action Bronson, co-author of F*ck, That's Delicious: An Annotated Guide to Eating Well (Abrams, $27.50, 9781419726552).

Late Show with Stephen Colbert repeat: Hillary Clinton, author of What Happened (Simon & Schuster, $30, 9781501175565).

CBS This Morning: Gretchen Carlson, author of Be Fierce: Stop Harassment and Take Your Power Back (Center Street, $27, 9781478992172).

Today Show: Richard Branson, author of Finding My Virginity: The New Autobiography (Portfolio, $35, 9780735219427).

Also on Today: Chip Gaines, author of Capital Gaines: Smart Things I Learned Doing Stupid Stuff (Thomas Nelson, $24.99, 9780785216308).

Fox & Friends: Ainsley Earhardt, author of Through Your Eyes: My Child's Gift to Me (Aladdin, $18.99, 9781534409590).

Dr. Oz: Joel Fuhrman, co-author of Fast Food Genocide: How Processed Food is Killing Us and What We Can Do About It (HarperOne, $27.99, 9780062571212).

The View: Gabrielle Union, author of We're Going to Need More Wine: Stories That Are Funny, Complicated, and True (Dey Street, $26.99, 9780062693983).

Conan repeat: Senator Al Franken, author of Al Franken, Giant of the Senate (Twelve, $28, 9781455540419).

Movies: 67 Shots

Jay Roach (Trumbo) will direct 67 Shots, based on the book 67 Shots: Kent State and the End of American Innocence by Howard Means, Deadline reported. Award-winning playwright Stephen Belber is writing the script for the film. Roach will produce with Tina Fey, Jeff Richmond and Eric Gurian from their Little Stranger banner, along with Michelle Graham from Everyman Pictures, and Rawat and Monica Levinson from ShivHans Pictures.

The project began with Gurian and composer Richmond, who is Fey's husband and attended Kent State. Deadline noted that "they brought the idea to Roach, who previously worked with Fey when he produced the 2015 comedy Sisters."

"It is a cautionary tale," Roach said. "Kent State was a big event for me, and I remember arguing with my dad about it when I was about 13. There was a prevailing movement in the country--they measured it with polls--where the vast majority of Americans blamed the students for what happened.... The tamer version of this now is the NFL protest, the hatred that comes out for any show of what some people consider lack of patriotism.... More people are marching in the streets now than maybe at any time since the 1970s, and it made me feel this was a story worth revisiting."

Books & Authors

Awards: Gordon Burn; NZ Beer Writer of the Year

Denise Mina won the £5,000 (about $6,610) Gordon Burn Prize, which honors "brilliant and unique work, the most interesting of contemporary writing," for her novel The Long Drop. In addition to the cash prize, the winning writer may go on a writing retreat of up to three months at Gordon Burn's cottage in Berwickshire, England. The Long Drop was selected from six shortlisted titles of fiction, memoir and travel writing.

Novelist, broadcaster and journalist Ian Sansom, who was one of the judges, said the winning title "is a truly startling and shocking work whose great literary ambition and inventiveness is matched by its moral complexity. In the opinion of the judges, the book upholds and continues that great tradition of literature both as a form of radical inquiry and as great pleasure, epitomized in the work of Gordon Burn."


The Brewers Guild of New Zealand named Alice Galletly the 2017 Beer Writer of the Year, Booksellers NZ reported, noting that the winner attributed the honor to her columns in Air New Zealand magazine Kia Ora and her book, How to Have a Beer. "It's a very non-serious, personal guide to enjoying beer, full of silly anecdotes and jokes," she said. Guild representative Martin Bennett praised "the sheer force of personality in the writing."

"My approach with beer writing is always to write for non-geeks first and foremost, and to make it as fun and accessible as possible," she said. "The mission of course, is to convert unsuspecting lager drinkers to our cult."

Book Review

Review: The River of Consciousness

The River of Consciousness by Oliver Sacks (Knopf, $27 hardcover, 256p., 9780385352567, October 24, 2017)

Two weeks before his death in 2015, author and neurologist Oliver Sacks (On the Move) arranged for the publication of his essay collection The River of Consciousness. Sacks was one of the finest science writers--well read, scientifically exact and literary. He was also the author of many books, beginning with his first publication, Migraine, in 1970. This collection meets the standard of his previous work.

Many of the pieces in The River of Consciousness were previously published in the New York Review of Books. They cover topics that include the sentience of worms and plants, the senses of speed and time, Darwin's extensive botanical writings, Freud's early work in neurology and anatomy, and how scientific progress is hampered by cultural expectations and fashions in ideas. The title essay considers the scientific evidence for "the idea that consciousness is composed of discrete moments" just as a film is composed of individual frames. "The Fallibility of Memory" deals with the phenomena of false memories, unconscious plagiarism and mistaken eyewitness testimonies, and how forgetting can allow for creativity, permitting us to "assimilate what we read, what we are told, what others say and think and write and paint, as intensely and richly as if they were primary experiences.... Memory is dialogic and arises not only from experience but from the intercourse of many minds."

"Mishearings" is a self-deprecating little piece on the hallucinatory experience of increasing deafness, in which he and others mishear spoken words and phrases without realizing they have done so. These mishearings "reflect, to some extent, one's own interests and experiences, and I rather enjoy them... tarot cards turn into pteropods, a grocery bag into a poetry bag... and a mere mention of Christmas Eve a command to "Kiss my feet!"

Sacks's love of the natural world as well as the human one is contagious. The breadth of his interests encourages his readers to expand their own horizons. "I rejoice in the knowledge of my biological uniqueness and my biological antiquity and my biological kinship with all other forms of life. This knowledge roots me, allows me to feel at home in the natural world, to feel that I have my own sense of cultural meaning, whatever my role in the cultural, human world." His curiosity and erudition, and his joy in both intellectual and physical life are in full bloom on these pages. --Sara Catterall

Shelf Talker: A brilliant, beautiful and funny collection of essays on a variety of topics by the famed science writer, memoirist and neurologist Oliver Sacks.

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