Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, July 11, 2018


DC Ink: Mera: Tidebreaker by Danielle Paige, illustrated by Stephen Byrne

Anthony Bourdain/Ecco: Prisoner: My 544 Days in an Iranian Prison by Jason Rezaian

Grove Press: Solitary by Albert Woodfox

Tor Teen: Dark of the West (Glass Alliance #1) by Joanna Hathaway

News

Powell's CEO Miriam Sontz Will Retire in January

Powell's CEO Miriam Sontz

Miriam Sontz, CEO of Powell's Books, Portland, Ore., and a 34-year veteran of the company, plans to retire in January 2019. President and owner Emily Powell and chief operating officer John Kingsbury will lead the company after her departure.

Sontz was promoted to CEO in 2013; earlier she had been manager of the Burnside and Beaverton stores and director of Powells.com. She has also served on the boards of the American Booksellers Association, the Independent Booksellers Consortium, Write Around Portland and Literary Arts. In the past decade, Powell's said, she "steered the company toward a stronger focus on customer service, product selection, and innovation in order to stay relevant in a highly competitive marketplace."

Emily Powell thanked Sontz "for her vision and leadership. Her particular impact on Powell's trajectory may be invisible to many, especially outside of our walls, and yet we would not be Powell's without her. She leaves us in a strong position for continued success."


New Press: Thick and Other Essays by Tressie McMillan Cottom


Car Crashes into Oklahoma City Bookstore

Commonplace Books, post-SUV.

A Mercedes-Benz SUV crashed through the entrance to Commonplace Books, Oklahoma City, Okla., yesterday and landed inside the children's section, NewsOK reported. Store owner Benjamin Nockels said he was grateful no one was injured in the mishap, which ended with the vehicle almost completely inside the bookshop.

"It sounded like a truck hit the building. It was explosive," said Nockels, who was in the store's attached cafe space when he heard the accident and immediately worried about one of his daughters, who was inside the bookstore. "I called out her name. I was mostly grateful that everybody was okay. It's just stuff that can be replaced."

Commonplace Books, which opened last year, "has become a popular retail destination in the growing Midtown neighborhood," NewsOK wrote, noting that the bookstore "is in the process of opening an attached cafe and has recently added sidewalk seating. Nockels said he views the bookstore as much more than a business, but instead a living room for the city. He regularly offers customers a drink and refers to his employees as family."


Rare Bird Books, a Vireo Book: The Crown Lord by William Sirls


Jennifer M. Brown Leaving Knopf Books for Young Readers

Jenny Brown

Effective August 3, Jennifer M. Brown is leaving Random House Children's Books, where she has been v-p, publisher of Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers since 2015. She plans to take "some time to determine her next step," the company said.

Brown is best known and beloved at Shelf Awareness for being our children's editor for eight years, from 2007 to 2015, where she built our children's coverage to six reviews a week in our Pro and Readers editions, at least one Maximum Shelf special issue each month and occasional dedicated issues, as well as regular author interviews, news stories, conference coverage and more. She managed some 20 reviewers.

Before joining Shelf Awareness, she was children's reviews editor at Publishers Weekly for 10 years, a children's book editor at HarperCollins and an elementary schoolteacher (grades K-2).

Brown has also been director of the Center for Children's Literature at the Bank Street College of Education and has served on a range of industry committees, including the 2015 Newbery Committee and the 2014 New York Times Best Illustrated Books jury. In 2009, she founded the website Twenty by Jenny to recommend books to parents, grandparents and others who wish to instill in children a love of reading.

At Knopf, the company said, she "brought her passion for graphic novels, signing up Rickety Stitch and the Gelatinous Goo by Ben Costa and James Parks, a trilogy whose first book garnered four stars, and The Cardboard Kingdom by Chad Sell and 10 collaborators, which has received five starred reviews. She also launched picture book author-artist Sarah Williamson with Where Are You? and Emma Otheguy's debut novel, Silver Meadows Summer."


Graywolf Press: Notes from No Man's Land: American Essays by Eula Biss


Microcosm Publishing Switches to Self-Distribution

Microcosm Publishing will cease being distributed by PGW/Ingram and Amazon and begin self-distributing, the company has announced. Effective January 2019, Microcosm will handle most accounts through its website and internal sales team. Microcosm has hired field sales reps Traveler's West (West Coast), Como (East Coast) and Fujii (Midwest) to visit and solicit their books to bookstores. Microcosm has been making a concerted effort to reach out to indies in recent years.

"We are returning to our roots to create the world that we want to see," said company founder and CEO Joe Biel. "This isn't as staggering a change as it sounds. Reviewing the numbers, we have come to realize that we know better how to distribute our books than anyone else that we've tried to partner with. We've continued to handle 75%-90% of our own distribution over the past seven years with PGW and IPG before that. The simple fact is that the underground is much bigger than the mainstream." He added that sales are up more than 52% over last year.

With headquarters in Portland, Ore., Microcosm has a staff of 14 and a catalogue of more than 400 titles. It also distributes gift and specialty titles from other publishers. The company's focus is to equip readers "to make positive changes in their lives and in the world around them. Microcosm emphasizes skill-building, showing hidden histories, and fostering creativity through challenging conventional publishing wisdom with books and zines about DIY skills, food, bicycling, gender, self-care and social justice."

Regarding his decision to cease doing business with Amazon, Biel said, "Unlike our rep groups, Amazon isn't a team player. Besides, they comprise about 1% of our net sales so why bother with such a small, uncooperative account?"


Bloomsbury: A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer


Obituary Note: Carol McNeal

A memorial service will be held this week for Carol McNeal, "whose Carol's Books & Things was described by customers as a library of the black experience and a bridge across the racial divide," the Sacramento Bee reported. McNeal died May 26 at the age of 86.

Melba Whitaker, her daughter, recalled that one of McNeal's favorite day trips had been driving to the nation's oldest African-American bookstore, Marcus Books, in San Francisco's Fillmore District: "She always had a love of reading, and she would go to San Francisco to enjoy Marcus Books, and then she decided we needed something like that in Sacramento. We (African Americans) needed a place where we could come be ourselves--everything for us, by us and about us."

Carol's Books & Things opened in 1984 in a small space on Freeport Boulevard as a general interest bookstore. Her son, Tim McNeal, said that as African American customers asked McNeal for books about the black experience, for children's books with pictures of black children and for literature with African-American protagonists, she realized she had enough of a customer base to make the shift in focus.

After five years, the bookstore moved to the Lanai Shops at 5679 Freeport Blvd, and in its 12th year, relocated to a larger space at 5964 South Land Park Drive, remaining there for six years until closing in 2002. Although it reopened in 2004 at another spot, the business was sold in 2006.

The Bee noted that "as her business gained popularity as a gathering place for black intellectuals, it was also targeted by hate crimes. After an arson at the Sacramento NAACP offices in 1993, McNeal told a Bee reporter that she received roughly 15 threatening phone calls. In addition, two white men came to her store and knocked books and other items to the floor, and then her store windows were vandalized by racist graffiti.

"More than 200 people showed up one Saturday night in September 1993 to rally around McNeal after she did television and newspaper interviews about the impact that the hate-filled graffiti had on her. In addition, the California Attorney General's Office, the Legislature, the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors and the Sacramento City Council all sent resolutions to honor McNeal."

"She was a lifelong learner," Tim McNeal said. "Both she and my dad were very committed to making the lives of people around them better, so education was a big part of what they shared with people. They encouraged people to continually find ways to educate themselves."


Shelf Awareness Giveaway: Berkley Books: Someone to Trust by Mary Balogh


Notes

Image of the Day: Abbeville's New Home

photo: Matt Baldacci

Abbeville Press has migrated from Downtown Manhattan back to Midtown, where it began 40 years ago. The press celebrated the opening of its new offices at 655 Third Avenue; they were most recently in temporary offices in the Flatiron district. Pictured: owner Bob Abrams (son of founder Harry Abrams) cutting the ceremonial ribbon in front of staff. Abbeville is a client of Two Rivers Distribution, and in attendance were Ingram executives Sabrina McCarthy, Matty Goldberg and Nick Walker. 


Happy 25th Birthday, Dog Ears Books!

Congratulations to Dog Ears Books, Northport, Mich., which is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. As part of the festivities, the bookshop is hosting a Thursday Evening Authors (TEA) literary series, which began June 21 and will continue through August.

"We have hosted many book launches and signings over the years, as well as formal author presentations, but having one dedicated evening for author guests, all summer long, is something special for 2018," owner Pamela Grath said. "In keeping with summer weather and the series acronym, we serve iced tea at all events, unsweetened, decaffeinated, simple."

Hosting an event every week for the entire summer "puts a lot of extra pressure on someone running an essentially one-person bookshop in an already busy tourist season," Grath noted, "but it also focuses the bookseller's mind in a wonderful way. I have to keep on top of advertising, press releases, Facebook events and reminders, fliers to be posted around town, and e-mail blasts to locals, so there is never a day when I'm not thinking of my upcoming TEA guests and promoting their books."

She added: "Twenty-five years! Did I foresee or even imagine this anniversary back in 1993, in the little shed (no longer there) down the block? Hardly. In retrospect, the years have flown. It's been a good life, and it's not over yet."


'Discover Your Next Summer Read' at Twin Cities Bookstores

"To help you find that perfect paperback, stop at one of these fantastic local bookstores where you'll discover cozy nooks, well-read staff, maybe some friendly four-legged furballs, and of course, plenty of great books," Twin Cities Agenda noted in suggesting that readers "discover your next summer read at these Twin Cities bookstores."


Media and Movies

Media Heat: Rob Schenk on Fresh Air

Today:
Fresh Air: Rob Schenk, author of Costly Grace: An Evangelical Minister's Rediscovery of Faith, Hope, and Love (Harper, $26.99, 9780062687937).


Report: Book-to-Film Adaptations Are a Box Office Hit

Films based on books take in 44% more at the box office in the U.K. and 53% more worldwide than original screenplays, according to a recent study released by the Publishers Association. The Bookseller said that the report, "Publishing's Contribution to the Wider Creative Industries," explores what impact a book has when adapted for film, TV and theater, in terms of critical and commercial success.

Data was collected through a combination of qualitative interviews, case studies, publicly available information, data drawn from creative industry bodies such as the British Film Institute (BFI), the BBC, UK Theatre and Nielsen BookScan.

The research found that 43% of the top 20 box office-grossing films in the U.K. between 2007 and 2016 were based on books, with a further 9% based on comic books.

"In short, published material is the basis of 52% of top U.K. films in the last 10 years, and accounts for an even higher share of revenue from these leading performers, at 61% of U.K. box office gross and 65% of worldwide gross," according to the study. "This share changes somewhat over time: in some years such as 2011 and 2015, two-thirds of the highest-grossing U.K.-produced films were adapted from published material."

The effect on book sales was also explored. The Bookseller noted that "the Hollywood adaptation of My Cousin Rachel was shown to have a significant impact on the sales of the Daphne du Maurier thriller. The sales of the book in 2017 alone accounted for nearly a quarter (23%) of all sales since 1992, both in terms of value and volume, according to the report."

Regarding TV adaptations, the study found that "almost a quarter of dramas were based on literary sources and attracted a 56% larger share of the audience than those based on original scripts, according to data from the four major free-to-air U.K. TV networks between 2013 and 2017," the Bookseller wrote.

"Storytelling is at the heart of the creative industries and often the best stories begin with a book," said P.A. CEO Stephen Lotinga. "This research shows the hugely positive commercial impact British publishing is having on film, television and theatre as our incredible authors' ideas are the source of so many successful productions."


TV: Jane Austen's Sanditon

Jane Austen's unfinished final novel, Sanditon, is being developed for ITV in Britain and PBS Masterpiece in the U.S., Variety reported. Andrew Davies (Pride and PrejudiceI, Mr. Selfridge, War and Peace) is writing the eight-part series, with Tony Jordan's Red Planet Pictures producing. Filming is set to begin next spring.

"It's a rich, romantic, family saga built upon the foundations Jane Austen laid," said Polly Hill, head of drama at ITV (Downton Abbey, Victoria). "There is no one better to adapt her unfinished novel than Andrew, who has an incredible track record for bold and original adaptations."

Executive producer Belinda Campbell of Red Planet Pictures added: "Andrew Davies' compelling scripts bear all the hallmarks of the biting social commentary and realism that makes Jane Austen one of the most widely read writers in English literature."

"Jane Austen managed to write only a fragment of her last novel before she died--but what a fragment," said Davies, who will also exec produce. "It's been a privilege and a thrill for me to develop 'Sanditon' into a TV drama for a modern audience."



Books & Authors

Awards: National Biography Shortlist

The State Library of New South Wales has unveiled its shortlist for the AU$25,000 (about US$18,650) National Biography Award, which recognizes "a published work of biographical or autobiographical writing aiming to promote public interest in these genres." The winner will be named August 6. This year's shortlisted titles are:

Songs of a War Boy by Deng Thiak Adut with Ben Mckelvey
Paul Keating: The Big-Picture Leader by Troy Bramston
A Writing Life: Helen Garner and Her Work by Bernadette Brennan
The Enigmatic Mr. Deakin by Judith Brett
Writing for Raksmey: A Story of Cambodia by Joan Healy
The Boy Behind the Curtain by Tim Winton


Reading with... Deborah Reber

photo: Kip Beelman
Deborah Reber is an author and speaker who moved her career in a more personal direction in 2016 when she founded TiLT Parenting, a website, podcast and community for parents raising neurologically atypical children. Reber's latest book, Differently Wired: Raising an Exceptional Child in a Conventional World, was published by Workman in June. She lives in the Netherlands with her husband and 13-year-old son.
 
On your nightstand now:
 
Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Brainstorm by Dr. Dan Siegel, Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury and Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer. It's pretty typical for me to be juggling at least four different books at any given time: one as research for my podcast, a book my son (who I homeschool) is reading for language arts, a nonfiction book centered around current events or social science because that's where my personal interests lie, and a novel that's just for pleasure.
 
Favorite book when you were a child:
 
I loved The Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg. The thought of being a child actually living/hiding out in the Metropolitan Museum of Art was almost more than I could bear. I wanted to be Claudia Kincaid so very badly.
 
Your top five authors:
 
Kurt Vonnegut, Nick Hornby, Michael Cunningham, Tom Perrotta and Harper Lee.
 
Book you've faked reading:
 
When my son and I read Huckleberry Finn for homeschool this year, I decided my contribution to our conversation could be inspired by a daily review of CliffsNotes summaries and analyses. (I did read it in high school, so I figured that had to count for something. Also, it worked out just fine.)
 
Book you're an evangelist for:
 
The War of Art by Steven Pressfield. As a writer who, like most creative people, regularly has to combat my own fears, insecurities and overwhelm when tackling any project, Steven Pressfield's words are the antidote to whatever's keeping me stuck. The War of Art is an absolute must for any creator looking to share their voice with the world.
 
Book you've bought for the cover:
 
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz. Love the cover. And loved the book.
 
Book you hid from your parents:
 
This is going back (ahem) a long time, but I'm quite sure it was Flowers in the Attic (or one of the books in the series) by V.C. Andrews. As I was raised in a strict, religious household, this series was forbidden on so many levels.
 
Book that changed your life:
 
The book that pops into mind is Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut, which I read when I was in high school. I'd never before read literature that was so irreverent and smart and broke so many conventions of what I thought books "needed" to be. That book (and really all of Kurt Vonnegut's books), showed me that expressing creativity on your own terms wasn't just possible, but it could lead to success. And that was exactly what I needed when I was floundering in high school and anxious to get out of my small Pennsylvania town and get on with it already.
 
Favorite line from a book:
 
Simple but powerful: "So it goes." (from Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut). Vonnegut's ability to capture so much meaning--life happens, death happens and regardless, we can choose to go on because that's what life is all about--in so few words takes my breath away to this day.
 
Five books you'll never part with:
 
ANY of my Kurt Vonnegut books (are you sensing a theme here?). The Hours by Michael Cunningham because a) I love his prose, b) I had the chance to meet Michael and discuss the impact of his writing on my life and c) he was a flat-out lovely human being. The War of Art by Steven Pressfield for the above-mentioned reasons. The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell as I think it's brilliant and fascinating. And Franny & Zooey by J.D. Salinger because this is one book I go back to and read again.
 
Book you most want to read again for the first time:
 
I rarely read books more than once, but one that I've gone back to repeatedly is To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. And while I savor each delicious line perhaps more with each reading, there is nothing quite like discovering and drinking in that beautiful language for the very first time.

Book Review

Children's Review: Little Man, Little Man: A Story of Childhood

Little Man, Little Man: A Story of Childhood by James Baldwin, Nicholas Boggs and Jennifer DeVere Brody, editors, illus. by Yoran Cazac (Duke University Press, $22.95 hardcover, 120p., ages 10-up, 9781478000044, August 24, 2018)

To his New York City nephew and niece, iconic author and civil rights activist James Baldwin was mostly known as "Uncle Jimmy," although the siblings would realize soon enough that he was also "a famous writer" of world renown. "When you gonna write a book about MeeeeEEE!?" nephew Tejan Karefa-Smart once asked. This book, Little Man, Little Man, was his answer.
 
Four-year-old TJ runs up and down his street playing ball. His two most constant companions are an older boy and girl--seven-year-old WT, "who like a brother," and eight-year-old Blinky, who "[l]ook like she do everything she can to be a boy." Around their Harlem neighborhood, Mr Man, the building janitor, "always try to act like he mean. He ain't mean, but he getting pretty old"--he's "about" 37. TJ runs errands for Miss Lee, who's married to Mr Man, and for Miss Beanpole, who lives behind multiple locks and observes the outside world only from her window. Through the course of a day, Baldwin presents TJ's personal microcosm, describing the "little store" run by a Puerto Rican man, front steps and fire escapes, the local bar and churches.
 
Subtitled "A Story of Childhood," TJ's youth doesn't protect him from mature realities. WT and Blinky both come from broken families with missing parents; WT's older brother is lost to drugs. Alcoholism, police abuse, domestic violence and poverty plague friends and neighbors. TJ's family seems contentedly intact, but, despite having two loving parents, TJ is constantly "afraid something happen to them"--childhood innocence is something he's never known.
 
Originally published in 1976, Baldwin's only children's title (originally described as "a child's story for adults") did not initially fare well. After being deemed "a slight book" by the late children's writer Julius Lester in a 1977 New York Times review, Little Man quickly disappeared from bookshelves. Four decades later, Duke University Press resurrects Baldwin's self-described "celebration of the self-esteem of black children," enhanced with a foreword by Baldwin's book-requesting nephew Tejan, an afterword by Baldwin's niece and Tejan's older sister Aisha Karefa-Smart, and a context-rich introduction by Baldwin scholars Nicholas Boggs and Jennifer DeVere Brody. The new edition retains the original illustrations created by Yoran Cazac, a Caucasian French artist with whom Baldwin chose to collaborate despite Cazac's lack of personal experience with New York City. Although the Harlem cityscapes aren't particularly recognizable, Cazac's colorful sketches prove wholly capable of capturing the expressions and energy of Baldwin's characters. The intriguing pairing continues to inspire Boggs, a New York University English professor, who's currently writing a book of his own exploring the Baldwin/Cazac relationship.
 
At 42, Little Man, Little Man has aged well. What might have been permanently dismissed as a "book [that] lacks intensity and focus" has instead matured into a timely representation of an urban African American childhood, presented in "the black vernacular style of [Baldwin's] Harlem neighborhood," made accessible once more to eager new audiences.  --Terry Hong, Smithsonian BookDragon
 
Shelf Talker: James Baldwin's only children's book--written to fulfill a promise to a young nephew--re-emerges in a new edition enhanced with illuminating familial and academic context.

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