Shelf Awareness for Friday, October 27, 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

Quotation of the Day

Buffalo Street Books: 'What It Looks Like to Mobilize Community'

"With that said, our student body should be integrating into the community in all the ways that we can. It becomes all too easy to stay nestled on top of the hill, immersed in the college bubble, but there's an additional kind of learning that takes place when you venture down into the town of Ithaca and experience the vibrant community. Attending the store's emergency meeting proved to me just how much this community cares. The store was packed with owners and book lovers alike, each asking questions and brainstorming ways to save the store. Students don't have to and shouldn't abstain from attending these conversations because we can learn a lot from witnessing these moments. Buffalo Street Books defined just what it looks like to mobilize community.

"In college, there's often the notion that we're in a holding cell, waiting to find purpose and make a difference when we graduate. However, we can affect our community now by starting with the seemingly small things, like buying from and supporting our local stores. I can't think of a better or more relevant place to start than Buffalo Street Books."

--Ithaca College sophomore Margaret McKinnis in a commentary for The Ithacan regarding the local indie bookstore's recent announcement that it would remain open


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


Amazon 3rd Quarter: Sales and Stock Price Jump

In the third quarter ended September 30, net sales at Amazon rose 33.7%, to $43.7 billion, and net income rose 1.6%, to $256 million. Both results beat analysts' estimates, and so in after-market trading, Amazon shares jumped about 7.5%, to $1,045 a share.

The results included net sales of Whole Foods, which the company acquired in August, amounting to $1.3 billion. Excluding Whole Foods and favorable foreign exchange rates, Amazon net sales rose 29%.

Amazon and analysts credited the annual Prime Day promotion on July 11 and Amazon Web Services, its cloud-computing division, with "helping to avoid a hit from the lower-margin grocery business," the Wall Street Journal wrote. One analyst observed that even without Whole Foods revenues, Amazon would have beat analysts' forecasts.

In its long release about third-quarter results, Amazon commented briefly on Amazon Books, its books and electronics stores, saying that during the quarter it had opened locations in Bellevue, Wash., San Jose, Calif., and Los Angeles, Calif., and now has a dozen stores, "with more stores planned." It added: "Amazon Books integrates the benefits of offline and online shopping to help customers discover books and devices."

For the first time, Amazon broke out sales of physical stores, but lumped together Whole Foods and Amazon Books, making it just about useless to determine sales at Amazon Books.

Farrar, Straus and Giroux: Intermezzo by Sally Rooney

AAP Sales: Down in June; Up for First Half of Year

In June, total net book sales in the U.S. fell 1.9%, to $1.45 billion, compared to the same period in 2016, representing sales of 1,204 publishers and distributed clients as reported to the Association of American Publishers. For the first six months of the year, total net book sales rose 3.5%, to $5.7 billion, and trade revenues rose 3%, to $3.27 billion, with gains in both adult books and children's/YA. Print books account for more than 70% of publisher trade book revenues.

In June, the strongest categories were again downloadable audio, up 29.6%, as well as most adult and trade categories, led by adult hardcovers, up 30.8%. E-books in all categories were down 14.9%.

Sales by category in June compared to June 2016:

Books & Books to Open Coconut Grove Store

Books & Books will open a new bookstore in Miami's Coconut Grove neighborhood at 3409 Main Highway. Owner Mitchell Kaplan told the Coconut Grove Grapevine he is working to launch the shop, which occupies two floors, before the holidays as a pop-up, but plans for it to be there for the long term.  

"We're so pleased to have such wonderful neighbors and we hope to work very much in tandem with them," he said, noting: "We will not have coffee, as there is the wonderful Panther Coffee right next to us and we hope we'll see many customers browsing our store, while enjoying one of their marvelous coffees."

Kaplan added he is "hoping that we can successfully bring our brand of independent bookselling to this very iconic building in The Grove, a community that, as a Miami native, I've always revered."

B&N Gets Extended Stay on Maui

Barnes & Noble, which announced earlier this week that it would be closing its store at the Lahaina Gateway Center on Maui, will remain in business at the location beyond that point with a new lease while the company explores other options. The Maui News reported there "was a reported difficulty between the bookstore and center management on a new lease that surfaced last week," but store manager Cindy Mauricio said she was halting all of her closing processes for now per order of her district manager.

"We are not foreseen to close. We are back in business," she added. "It won't be happening. I'm very, very, blessed."

Wendy Laurel-Sheveland, whose 15-year-old daughter, Hannah, started an online petition, "Keep Barnes and Noble in Lahaina Open!" to save the bookstore, said they had received an e-mail from B&N's corporate real estate division "saying that the lease was not long term and that the company was exploring other options for Maui."

"I think they are feeling the pressure," she noted. "Hannah is getting a lot of momentum now, I wouldn't want us to celebrate too soon."

On Monday, Jim Lampassi, v-p of real estate development for B&N, had said, "We had no intention of leaving the Lahaina Gateway Center. That decision rests solely with the landlord. Maui is a strong market for Barnes & Noble, and we have every intention of reopening there."

Mauricio commented: "I think this was an amazing community effort.... I'm just so happy Maui is Maui. The community pulled together. They made this happen."

Boudreaux Named Doubleday V-P, Executive Editor

Lee Boudreaux

Lee Boudreaux has been appointed v-p, executive editor at Doubleday, reporting to publisher and editor-in-chief Bill Thomas, effective November 13. Boudreaux began her career in publishing as an editorial assistant at Doubleday, and has also worked at Random House, Ecco and most recently was v-p and editorial director of Lee Boudreaux Books at Little, Brown, an imprint created in 2014. 

In a letter announcing the move, Thomas wrote: "Over the course of her glittering career Lee has edited and published myriad New York Times bestsellers and prize winners..... What links this diverse group of books are Lee's singular, impeccable taste, her passionate, creative publishing vision, and most importantly, her fierce dedication to the craft of editing. Having worked with her, I know what a vivacious and generous colleague she is. Having had the misfortune of following her presentation at a librarians' convention, I know what an entertaining and effective author advocate she is. In a sense Lee is coming home."

Boudreaux commented: "I'm incredibly excited to return to Penguin Random House and join so many old friends and former colleagues. And I look forward to contributing to Doubleday's list, which I've deeply admired since my very first days in publishing."

Deadline Nears for Bookselling Without Borders Campaign

The October 29 deadline is rapidly approaching for donations to the "all or nothing" Kickstarter campaign supporting Bookselling Without Borders, the scholarship program that will send 15 American booksellers to the international book fairs in Turin, Frankfurt and Guadalajara. The campaign features a range of rewards, including signed books, advance reading copies, a swag bag, a visit to a publisher, a literary agent's evaluation, a year's worth of titles from the sponsor presses and more.

Europa Editions, which partners with four independent presses (Catapult, Graywolf, The New Press, and Other Press) on the initiative, noted yesterday: "Our funding goal ($30,000) has been ambitious, but then so is the whole idea. In the last 24 hours, we've received a $2,000 donation. If we receive another donation at this level or higher within the next 24 hours, we have a donor waiting in the wings to match it."


Image of the Day: Omnivore Books & the Cooks

Omnivore Books in San Francisco hosted the launch of chef Josef Cento's Bäco (Chronicle Books) earlier this week. Pictured: (left to right) Cento and co-author Betty Hallock; Celia Sack, owner of Omnivore Books; and James Syhabout, owner/chef of Hawker Fare and Commis.

Cool Idea of the Day: 'Putt'in on the Ritz'

Posted on Facebook this week by Wheatberry Books, Chillicothe, Ohio, which will open later this year: "It was great to meet a lot of fellow book lovers during 'Putt'in on the Ritz' by the Chillicothe Ross Chamber of Commerce. We hope to see you all back for our grand opening in December!"

Celebrating Indie Bookstores in the Hudson Valley

New York State's Hudson Valley "is a community of book lovers," the Poughkeepsie Journal noted in a feature headlined "Independent bookstores and celebrating literature." The region's "independent bookstores in particular help to celebrate the immersive, educational experience that reading provides. From whimsy to wanderlust, these outlets have a novel for every type of page turner."

Media and Movies

Media Heat: David Finkel on Morning Joe

Morning Joe: David Finkel, author of Thank You for Your Service (Picador, $16, 9781250121462). Also on the show: actor Miles Teller as well as Adam Schumann, the soldier the book and the new movie based on the book focuses on.

Fox & Friends: Jeannie Cunnion, author of Mom Set Free: Find Relief from the Pressure to Get It All Right (Howard Books, $15.99, 9781501156441).

Fresh Air: Sarah Ellis, co-author of The Trainable Cat: A Practical Guide to Making Life Happier for You and Your Cat (Basic Books, $17.99, 9780465093717).

Meet the Press: Chris Matthews, author of Bobby Kennedy: A Raging Spirit (Simon & Schuster, $28.99, 9781501111860).

Movies: If Beale Street Could Talk

Regina King (Ray, Jerry Maguire) has joined the cast of Barry Jenkins's If Beale Street Could Talk, adapted from the 1974 James Baldwin novel and the writer/director's follow-up to his Oscar-winning Moonlight. Deadline reported that King, "who is also a filmmaker, will play a key role in the film opposite Stephan James and newcomer KiKi Layne." Shooting is currently underway in New York.

King has recently been on ABC's American Crime series, which garnered her three Emmy Award nominations and two wins. As a director, she has helmed upcoming episodes of NBC's hit This Is Us and Showtime's Shameless. Her past directing credits include TNT's Animal Kingdom and episodes of ShondaLand's Scandal.

Books & Authors

Awards: CWA Daggers

The Crime Writers Association announced winners in nine categories for the 2017 Dagger Awards in London last night at a gala dinner. Ann Cleeves was presented with the Diamond Dagger, which recognizes "authors whose crime writing careers have been marked by sustained excellence, and who have made a significant contribution to the genre." Jane Harper's The Dry took the Gold Dagger for best crime novel of the year, and Chris Whitaker's Tall Oaks won the John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger for best crime novel by a first-time author. Check out the complete list of Dagger winners here.

Reading with... Mark Mazower

Mark Mazower teaches history at Columbia University. In his latest book, What You Did Not Tell: A Russian Past and the Journey Home (Other Press, October 15, 2017), he tells what he uncovered about his family's involvement in the Russian Jewish socialist organization the Bund and what happened after his grandparents fled Bolshevism and settled in England. It is a study of how history shapes us and how refugees can make new homes amid the wreckage of defeat and exile.

On your nightstand now:

Svetlana Alexievich's The Unwomanly Face of War (Penguin, 2017): extraordinary testimonies to the courage of women on the Eastern Front whose endeavours were then forgotten by the very regime they were fighting for.

Favorite book when you were a child:

Alan Garner's The Weirdstone of Brisingamen haunted me for many years after I read it--history lingering mysteriously in the landscape.

Your top five authors:

John Le Carré
Wilkie Collins
Sir Thomas Browne

Book you've faked reading:

The Brothers Karamazov by Dostoevsky

Book you're an evangelist for:

Someone should reprint Konstantin Paustovsky's The Story of a Life, the most remarkable autobiography of revolution ever written, poetry in prose.

Book you've bought for the cover:

Ann Wroe's Six Facets of Light

Book that changed your life:

Peter Brown, Augustine of Hippo--I didn't know you were allowed to write history like that!

Favorite line from a book:

"Everything needs to change so that everything can stay the same." --from di Lampedusa's The Leopard

Five books you'll never part with:

Thomas Browne, Religio Medici

W.G. Hoskins, The Making of the English Landscape

Edward Thomas, The Annotated Collected Poems

Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

Trollope, The Way We Live Now

Book Review

Review: Spineless: The Science of Jellyfish and the Art of Growing a Backbone

Spineless: The Science of Jellyfish and the Art of Growing a Backbone by Juli Berwald (Riverhead Books, $27 hardcover, 352p., 9780735211261, November 7, 2017)

Spineless: The Science of Jellyfish and the Art of Growing a Backbone puts the spotlight on an understudied and generally underappreciated marine animal, showing how its fate may be tied to manmade changes in the natural world. Spineless is also the story of Juli Berwald, an ocean science Ph.D., reigniting her passion for science and nature through her immersion in the world of jellyfish. Berwald puts herself in the narrative, bringing the reader along as she prepares and cooks jellyfish, raises specimens in her dining room, swims near an enormous bloom off an Israeli beach and much more. Berwald excels at depicting the wonder and appreciation she has gained for the strange, gelatinous creatures and the ocean that sustains them.

Berwald's interest in jellyfish was prompted by the appearance across the world of massive aggregations known as blooms. In some cases, the jellyfish were so numerous that they dominated the ecosystem and transformed productive fisheries into "a sea of goo." By some accounts, the jellyfish were benefiting from "global warming's evil twin," ocean acidification, but Berwald quickly realized that their relationship to climate change is not easy to untangle. She argues, "Jellyfish are indeed obscure and neglected both by science and the public," and sets out to discover what she can about jellyfish and their ties to "the future of our oceans, our climate, and us."

Luckily for Berwald and her readers, jellyfish are endlessly fascinating. Consider the case of the "immortal jellyfish," a species named Turritopsis capable of reversing a jellyfish's normal life cycle, a feat comparable to "if a butterfly were able to revert to its caterpillar stage." Turritopsis can die--otherwise the ocean would be wall-to-wall immortal jellyfish--"but at least theoretically, the jellyfish can morph forward and backward through their life cycle forever." Then, there's the saga of "Robojelly," an attempt at constructing a robotic jellyfish that helped change our understanding of how jellyfish swim. "Jellyfish actually suck themselves through the water, like the way you're using that straw," Berwald enthuses at one point to her nonplussed daughter.

Jellyfish and people are increasingly getting in each other's way. Masses of the aquatic animal have clogged power plants, desalination plants and even a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier. Jellyfish can also ruin a trip to the beach, with the National Science Foundation estimating that there are 150 million jellyfish stings each year. The stings range in severity, but one particularly virulent species is responsible for 77 deaths in Australia, as reported in 2016. Invasive species, along with overfishing, have led to population explosions that leave fishers with nets full of jellies. Despite all of this, scientists are still unsure if populations are increasing globally. Jellyfish are fascinating in part because there's so much more to find out about them. In Spineless, Berwald demonstrates that our oceans represent a scientific frontier at least as exciting and promising as space, and posits jellyfish as a prime candidate for study and appreciation. --Hank Stephenson, bookseller, Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill, N.C.

Shelf Talker: An ocean science scholar follows her passion for jellyfish across the globe, unearthing anecdotes and evidence for how these strange, ethereal creatures are crucial to understanding our oceans.

Deeper Understanding

Robert Gray: Authors Telling Indie Stories at #MPIBA17

Among my favorite moments at regional trade shows are the times when authors say nice things about indies, especially when it's more than a "thank you for your service" nod. The best ones are sincere and the product of direct engagement, experience and appreciation. Maybe after all these years I've become an author/indie gratitude connoisseur.

"We're from Salt Lake City, Utah. Shout-out to the King's English Bookshop!" Shannon Hale exclaimed at the Children's Author Breakfast during this year's Mountains and Plains Independent Booksellers Association Fall Discovery Show in Denver. She and her husband, Dean, were talking about their The Princess in Black book series (Candlewick). Shannon had a message for indies: "I want to make sure that you know the impact of your work.... Your curation of books, your handselling, your insight into what's going to be the right match for a kid. And not every book is right for every kid, but you know, and I know you know, that there is a book for every kid. At least one. And we're really grateful for what you guys do out in the trenches."

Tayari Jones, Willy Vlautin and Sara Blaedel after the Authors of Future Releases Breakfast

At the Authors of Future Releases Breakfast, Willy Vlautin (Don't Skip Out on Me, Harper Perennial) said: "I really appreciate bookstores. I'm kind of a bookstore addict. Every town I go to I end up buying tons of books.... And any town I go to you know you have a safe place to hang out and someone that's a weird book lover. And anyone that's a little cracked is all right in my book. So, I'm sure I'd like all you guys."

Sometimes these expressions of author appreciation take the form of personal indie bookstore stories, which happened a few times in Denver.

During the Author Banquet, Uzodinma Iweala (Speak No Evil, Harper), began his presentation with a childhood memory. On Sundays in Washington, D.C., "we'd stop by this wonderful little bookstore, just up Connecticut Avenue from where I went to church, called the Cheshire Cat." That shop, which moved into Politics & Prose in 1999, "was a bookstore completely for kids, with all of the most amazing books that you could find.... And after church my mom (or dad) would take us to the bookstore and she'd let us pick out books, and it was like a total treat to be able to do this on Sunday.... Books, bookstores and libraries were a central, almost sacred part of my childhood."

When he went to Harvard, Iweala had to pass by the Harvard Book Store daily, and "I'm pretty sure I spent most of college when I should have been studying in the bookstore," he recalled. 'I'd end up walking around the bookstore and running my fingers over books from different authors, some of whom I knew, most of whom I didn't know.... It's that feeling, that sense of being surrounded by all that story, the weight and the presence of all that collective knowledge, imagination and insight curated by people like you, who love books and who really live books. What I'm trying to say is thank you, because it's people like you who care not just about selling books, but who care about how they're sold and the importance of the physical space of the bookstore as a location for growth and as a space for connection, which was so profound and so important for me."

Uzodinma Iweala, Amy Bloom, Matt de la Peña, Loren Long and Francisco Cantú after the Author Banquet

"You are my people. I would have no career at all without independent booksellers," Amy Bloom (White Houses, Random House) announced before sharing the tale of how she discovered what "handselling" was years ago at the first event for her debut story collection, Come to Me. The reading was held in "a tiny bookstore in New York that was honestly the size of two of these tables put together. I arrived an hour and a half early, and it was so small that I couldn't just stand there and stare at the manager, so I started shelving books for her."

A woman came in looking for a specific, if unremembered, Italian cookbook she'd heard about. The bookseller showed her a stack of possibilities, but the woman kept saying no until they ran out of options. Bloom said that just as the customer was walking out the door, "the manager says to her, 'If you like Italian cooking, and I think you do. And you appreciate sensuality, and I think you do. And you just really want something special in your life, and who doesn't? I have a collection of short stories for you.' And I thought... that is handselling."

Tayari Jones (An American Marriage, Algonquin), told her indie stories at the Authors of Future Releases Breakfast. The last time she was in Colorado, promoting her novel Silver Sparrow, she had to drive a Chevy Suburban over the Red Mountain Pass to an event at Maria's Bookshop in Durango: "It was dangerous! I was like I'm gonna die for my art! But I was thinking the thing about authors and independent booksellers: When we're on tour, you see us at our not best. By the time I arrived, I was not my best. But everywhere I've gone--and I went to 43 independent bookstores with Silver Sparrow--every place was a port in a different storm. I don't think I could have done it without so much care along the way."

Calling Silver Sparrow "kind of my comeback book," Jones recalled that it was at an indie bookstore in Miami where her career was revived. "I was at Books & Books. I was sad. My books were out of print.... And a woman said, 'Oh, I can help you,' and she introduced me to Elizabeth Sharlatt, the publisher at Algonquin. I was so humiliated that everyone was talking about how my books were out of print. I just wanted to get away. But Elizabeth held me by the hand and she said, 'Tell me, how do you know Judy?' I said I don't know anyone named Judy. And she says, 'No, Judy Blume who just introduced us.' I looked to tell her thank you and she had disappeared like a fairy godmother. And now she owns an independent bookstore. You see where I'm going with this? Magic happens in independent bookstores."

--Robert Gray, contributing editor (Column archives at Fresh Eyes Now)

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