Shelf Awareness for Friday, March 15, 2019


Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers: Change Is the Only Constant: The Wisdom of Calculus in a Madcap World by Ben Orlin

Flatiron Books: Thirteen (Eddie Flynn #3) by Steve Cavanagh

Viz Media:  Snow White with the Red Hair, Vol. 1 by Sorata Akiduki

Sourcebooks: Motherhood So White: A Memoir of Race, Gender, and Parenting in America by Nefertiti Austin

Sounds True: Revolution of the Soul: Awaken to Love Through Raw Truth, Radical Healing, and Conscious Action by Seane Corn

News

AAP Sales Down 3.8% in January; Audio, Kids Up

Total net book sales in January 2019 in the U.S. fell 3.8%, to $1.064 billion, compared to January 2018, representing sales of 1,374 publishers and distributed clients as reported to the Association of American Publishers.

Trade sales as a whole fell 3.2%, to $543.8 million. Sales of adult hardcover and mass market titles were particularly weak. The only two categories with major gains were downloaded audio, whose sales rose 36.1%, and children's/YA, whose sales rose 4.3%, to $137.5 million.

Sales by category in January 2019 compared to January 2018:

 

 

 

 

 

 


Oxford University Press: Hitler by Peter Longerich


Fla.'s Murder on the Beach on the Move

Murder on the Beach will leave its current location at the end of this month.

Murder on the Beach Mystery Bookstore, in Delray Beach, Fla., will move next month to a retail space in the Delray Beach Public Library building. The bookstore and the library will have separate entrances, and store founder and manager Joanne Sinchuk said she's hoping for "synergy between the two." The new space is slightly smaller than the current store, Sinchuk said, but has more windows, and is located a few blocks away, on the main avenue through downtown (the current store is on a side street). Because of the smaller space, the store will stock slightly fewer titles, and the shipping/receiving area will be tight, she said. One of the bathrooms in the new space will be turned into her office.

Sinchuk and store owner David Wulf said, "We love Delray and are happy to be able to keep Murder on the Beach in the most fun small town in the USA." Delray Library director Karen Ronald added, "We have a lot in common and hope to make a difference in the community."

The bookstore had been on a month-to-month lease since its lease expired in December, and the site's owner plans to build a boutique hotel.

Murder on the Beach will be closed March 28-31 for the move, and will re-open at 104 West Atlantic Avenue on Monday, April 1. On Tuesday, April 2, at 7 p.m., Linda Fairstein will sign Blood Oath. The store's phone number, e-mail, website and hours will remain the same.


Charlesbridge Teen: Contagion by Teri Terry


LBF 2019: Brexit Deal(s) or No Deal(s)

The morning after the U.K. parliament voted down Prime Minister Theresa May's withdrawal agreement, members of the publishing industry and the publishers association, along with a civil servant and the former general counsel to Prime Minister David Cameron, convened at the London Book Fair to talk about Brexit.

Peter Phillips, the CEO of Cambridge University Press and the incoming president of the Publishers Association, reported that more than 90% of CUP's revenue comes from outside the United Kingdom, and more broadly highlighted the role of the U.K. publishing industry as a major exporter. He detailed some of the PA's efforts regarding Brexit, in particular the creation of the "Publishing Chapter," a list of five major points that the industry wants included in any future trade agreements. The areas of emphasis include maintaining commitments to freedom of speech, upholding zero-rate tariffs on books and journals, promoting a global copyright standard, implementing an "exhaustion regime" that protects territorial rights and championing global IP treaties.

William Bowes, general counsel and director of policy for the Publishers Association, noted that at the time of last year's London Book Fair in April 2018, there had been reports of the E.U. and U.K. agreeing to the first stage of a withdrawal agreement and assurances by various politicians that many existing trade agreements with non-E.U. nations would simply be "rolled over." Now, the "triumph of hope is over" and the U.K. is roughly two weeks away from revoking its contracts with both its largest customer and largest supplier. The more a No-Deal Brexit looks possible, Bowes said, the more the PA is focusing on making sure the industry's concerns are heard by government.

Kathleen Farrar, group sales and marketing director at Bloomsbury, said that the most important thing for her and many other publishers and suppliers is that they have "frictionless borders" and that their speed to market is not jeopardized. She said that when it comes to planning for Brexit, Bloomsbury is trying to "build in" as much time as possible in schedules to allow for books moving across borders. The company is planning to get far ahead of any paperwork that will need to be done and she added that Bloomsbury is making sure it has a reserve paper supply, though it goes against the company's policies in recent years to keep its stock holdings down. Said Farrar: "Our booksellers and customers need to be able to rely on us."

Robert Specterman-Green, media and creative industries director in the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, called the PA and publishing industry "very successful" in the way it has articulated and explained its concerns. On the subject of preparing for the myriad Brexit scenarios, Specterman-Green said that his department has tried to be "pragmatic" and focus on the most likely scenarios, and explained that regardless of what may happen, there are certain things all companies should be doing. As examples he pointed to data management and data preparation--deal or no deal, businesses will have to make changes in those areas.

Andrew Hood, partner at the law firm Fieldfisher and former general counsel to David Cameron, called the publishing industry's preparation "very much first in class" compared to other sectors of the U.K. economy, noting that after the optimism of 2018 it seemed that many other businesses may have taken their feet off the gas. When asked about the different Brexit scenarios, Hood explained that there are essentially only two scenarios worth thinking about. One is Brexit with a deal, which would feature a transition of some description and probably be "pretty much business as usual" with perhaps some changes around the edges. The other is a No-Deal Brexit, which would require the U.K. to redo its trade agreements with dozens of countries, either through a "rough and ready" rollover or entirely from scratch.

Later, Hood elaborated that from a "macro point of view," even with a No-Deal Brexit, the "world won't fall in" and the "sky won't fall down." The U.K. will manage to "muddle through it," but the country "will be worse off." The main question, he said, was how much worse off the country will be. Hood shared some estimates from economists that with a withdrawal agreement and relatively smooth transition, the country's GDP may dip only 2%-3%. Without a deal, the U.K.'s GDP may fall 6%-9% post-Brexit.

Asked what he has heard from his customers around the world, Phillips answered that the question he most often hears is "Why on earth have you done this?" But putting that aside, he continued, the biggest issue is the uncertainty--customers, clients and business partners are asking why he or his government can't simply tell them what's going to happen at the end of March. Given all of that uncertainty, Phillips said it was "lucky" that their customers have stuck with him, and warned that even though they're still happy at the moment, "at some point patience starts to run thin." --Alex Mutter


Haymarket Books: Cinderella Liberator by Rebecca Solnit, illustrated by Arthur Rackham


2019 NBA Judges Include Five Booksellers, Librarian

The National Book Foundation has announced its 25 judges for the 70th National Book Awards in the categories of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, young people's literature and translated literature. The judges will select 50 longlist titles, 10 per category, which will be announced mid-September, followed on October 8 by the unveiling of 25 finalists. Winners in all five categories will be honored November 20. Among this year's judges are five indie booksellers and a librarian:

  • Javier Ramirez, a longtime Chicago indie bookseller who manages the Book Table in Oak Park, Ill., is one of the fiction judges.
  • Mark Laframboise, who has worked at Politics and Prose Bookstore in Washington, D.C., for more than 20 years, primarily as head book buyer, is one of the nonfiction judges.
  • John Evans, co-owner of DIESEL, A Bookstore in Los Angeles, Calif., is one of the poetry judges.
  • Kristen Gilligan, co-owner of the Tattered Cover Book Store in Denver, Colo., is one of the young people's literature judges.
  • Shuchi Saraswat, buyer and curator of the Transnational Literature Series at Brookline Booksmith, Brookline, Mass., is one of the translated literature judges.
  • Deborah Taylor, recently retired from the Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore, Md., is also one of the young people's literature judges.

"Each year, we strive to assemble judging panels that reflect the expansive lives of readers everywhere," said NBF executive director Lisa Lucas. This year is no different, and we could not be prouder to present a carefully selected body of judges that is as passionate, well-read, and inquisitive as this nation of readers."

For the full list of judges, click here.

[Note: updated on March 15 to include Shuchi Saraswat.]


Berkley Books: A Brightness Long Ago by Guy Gavriel Kay


Zondervan Launches Two New Imprints

Zondervan has launched two new imprints that "will position us for growth and better align our publishing with Zondervan's future while retaining continuity with our 88 years of history in publishing for the academy and a general readership concerned with the ideas, issues, and future of Christianity," said senior v-p and publisher Stanley N. Gundry. He will oversee both imprints.

Zondervan Reflective aims to spur readers toward insight and responsible action in their personal lives and in the public realm. Titles will focus on topics related to leadership, the intersection of faith and culture, and growing and exploring a reader's ministry.

Ryan Pazdur, associate publisher and executive editor for Zondervan Reflective, said the imprint's books "are more than just good, engaging reads--they inspire action and call for a response. Our goal for this imprint is to be part of the conversation and to engage our readers, providing answers or perspective around really tough questions that Christianity is facing today."

Zondervan Academic "seeks to show the breadth and diversity--both theologically and globally--of Christianity in its broadly evangelical expression," said Katya Covrett, executive editor. "As a publisher of textbooks, reference books, and monographs, we consider ourselves both a broker of ideas and an equipping partner for our readers, wherever they are teaching and learning."

Among the upcoming titles for Zondervan Reflective is How to Lead in a World of Distraction (September) by Clay Scroggins, while lead titles for Zondervan Academic include The New Testament in Its World by N.T. Wright and Michael F. Bird and America's Religious History by Thomas S. Kidd (both in November).


Notes

Image of the Day: Tornado Book Club

Just a couple hours before Joseph-Beth's event yesterday with author Laurie Halse Anderson (SHOUT), there was a tornado warning in Cincinnati, so the store brought all the customers into the back room for safety. Marketing manager Kelly Morton wrote, "The people who were here for the event set up camp underneath our stairwell and had a reading party for the duration of the warning. Storms can be scary, but they're better when you have company and a good book."


Fables and Fairy Tales Named 'Outstanding Business'

Congratulations to Fables and Fairy Tales bookstore, which posted this week on Facebook: "We were honored to be awarded by Martinsville [Ind.] Chamber of Commerce the Martinsville's Business of the Year award! Thank you to all who nominated and voted for us. A special thanks to our customers; without you this wouldn't have been possible."


Bookshop Marriage Proposal: BookBar

BookBar in Denver, Colo., which was the site for a special moment last weekend, posted photos on Facebook, noting: "Congratulations to Shilay & James who got engaged at BookBar over the weekend! 120% of experts agree that starting your life together surrounded by books leads to a long and happy marriage."


Bookstore Window of the Day: Fireside Books

Fireside Books in Palmer, Alaska, shared photos on Facebook of its new front window display, apparently deciding that if spring wasn't in the air, it might be conjured artistically with beautiful painted flowers and the words: "Time to open a new book."


Media and Movies

Media Heat: Delia Owens on CBS Sunday Morning

Sunday:
CBS Sunday Morning: Delia Owens, author of Where the Crawdads Sing (Putnam, $27, 9780735219090).


TV: The Poisonwood Bible

Six-time Oscar-nominated and two-time Golden Globe-winning actress Amy Adams (Sharp Objects) has signed "a first-look deal with HBO and launched new production company Bond Group Entertainment with her manager Stacy O'Neil," Deadline reported.

The first project under the deal is The Poisonwood Bible, based on Barbara Kingsolver's 1998 novel, which is being developed as a limited series. It will be co-written by Anya Epstein (The Affair, In Treatment) and Kingsolver, who will executive produce with Adams and O'Neil.


On Stage: The Devil Wears Prada Musical

Anna D. Shapiro, a 2008 Tony winner for her direction of August: Osage County, will direct the musical version of The Devil Wears Prada, based on Lauren Weisberger’s bestselling 2003 novel and the 2006 film, Playbill reported. The production features music by Sir Elton John, lyrics by Shaina Taub, and book by Paul Rudnick. A production timeline and casting will be announced at a later date.

"I am truly honored to be a part of this incredible project," Shapiro said, "Working with Shaina, Paul, and Sir Elton has already proven to be one of the great thrills of my career, and I look forward to bringing Lauren's beloved world to the stage."



Books & Authors

Awards: NBCC Winners; Dr. Tony Ryan Semifinalists

Winners of the National Book Critics Circle Awards, which were announced last night in New York City, are:

Fiction: Milkman by Anna Burns (Graywolf)
Nonfiction: Directorate S: The C.I.A. and America’s Secret Wars in Afghanistan by Steve Coll (Penguin)
Poetry: The Carrying by Ada Limón (Milkweed)
Biography: Flash: The Making of Weegee the Famous by Christopher Bonanos (Henry Holt)
Autobiography: Belonging: A German Reckons With History and Home by Nora Krug,  (Scribner)
Criticism: Feel Free: Essays by Zadie Smith (Penguin)

The John Leonard Prize was presented to Tommy Orange for There There (Knopf); the Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing to Maureen Corrigan; and the Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award to Arte Público

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Six semifinalists have been selected for the 13th annual Dr. Tony Ryan Book Award, which honors a fiction and nonfiction that have "a horse racing premise or backdrop." The $10,000 winner will be announced April 10. The semifinalists are:

Out of the Clouds: The Unlikely Horseman and the Unwanted Colt who Captured the Sport of Kings by Linda Carroll and David Rosner
Around Kentucky With the Bug! by Patrick Lawrence Gilligan
Dixie Luck by Andy Plattner
Monsieur X by Jamie Reid
Taking Shergar: Thoroughbred Racing's Most Famous Cold Case by Milton C. Toby
A Stone's Throw by James W. Ziskin


Reading with... Nina Revoyr

photo: Monica Almeida

Nina Revoyr is the author of five previously published novels, including The Age of Dreaming, which was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize; Southland, a Los Angeles Times Best Book of 2003; and Wingshooters, which won an Indie Booksellers Choice Award and was selected by O, The Oprah Magazine as one of "10 Titles to Pick Up Now." Revoyr lives in Los Angeles. A Student of History is her latest novel (Akashic Books, March 5, 2019).

On your nightstand now:

One big, meaty biography: Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom by David W. Blight. One book on current affairs: State of Resistance: What California's Dizzying Descent and Remarkable Resurgence Mean for America's Future by Manuel Pastor. One short story collection I just reread for the first time since grad school: Dancing After Hours by Andre Dubus. One book that's hard to categorize, Rebecca Solnit's A Field Guide to Getting Lost, which I read several months ago but keep picking up again, as it continues to move and instruct me.

Favorite book when you were a child:

There were a bunch: Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls--it was read to us by our teacher in kindergarten or first grade, the first book I remember after we moved to the U.S. from Japan. The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis; I imagined myself as a character in them. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee: Mockingbird is complicated, for all the reasons that have long been apparent and were only underscored by Go Set a Watchman--but it meant a lot to me, not least because I was confronted with my own racial difference on a daily basis; and because I was a tomboy being raised by a single dad. And A Separate Peace--a book that's so layered and morally complex that I didn't fully understand it until I read it again as an adult.

Your top five authors:

The top three are consistent: James Baldwin, Toni Morrison, Emily Dickinson. The other two rotate. Right now--and often--I'd say Louise Erdrich and Alice Munro.

Book you've faked reading:

Maybe a couple of boring college textbooks, but nothing else.

Book you're an evangelist for:

This changes, too. A few years ago I went nuts over Jess Walter's Beautiful Ruins--which I only read because it had been recommended to me. Probably the novel I read with most joy and astonishment last year was Hari Kunzru's White Tears. What an inventive, powerful, challenging novel--it totally blew me away.

Book you've bought for the cover:

I think only a couple of photography books, not fiction or nonfiction--which is funny, because I pay a lot of attention to covers.

Book that changed your life:

Patricia Nell Warren's The Front Runner, which was published in 1974 and was one of the first gay-themed books to become a commercial success. I found it in a grocery store bookrack when I was in junior high. For a closeted kid in the early '80s--a very different time than today--it was an absolute godsend, an affirmation that I wasn't alone. The Front Runner revolves around track and field, and it's probably no coincidence that my own first novel, The Necessary Hunger, also involved sports, in my case basketball.

Book you hid from your parents:

See The Front Runner, above.

Favorite line from a book:

"For, while the tale of how we suffer, and how we are delighted, and how we may triumph is never new, it always must be heard. There isn't any other tale to tell, it's the only light we've got in all this darkness." --James Baldwin, "Sonny's Blues"

Five books you'll never part with:

I'm not sure I can limit it to five! I always think in terms of the 10 books I'd take to a desert island. They would include: Baldwin's Notes of a Native Son; Toni Morrison's Beloved and Jazz; Emily Dickinson's Complete Poems; Rebecca Solnit's A Field Guide to Getting Lost; Louise Erdrich's Love Medicine and maybe Tracks as well; Flannery O'Connor's The Complete Stories; Norman Maclean's A River Runs Through It; maybe Robert Penn Warren's All the King's Men.

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

Toni Morrison's Beloved. I just read this again after 20 years or so. I've always considered it my favorite novel, but I hadn't actually looked at in a long time. When I read it in my 20s, I thought of Sethe and Paul D as old. Now, I'm almost a decade older than they are. It was amazing to read it again and realize that, if anything, I'd underappreciated it. It's just an absolute masterpiece in every way--literary, historical, emotional. I stand in complete awe of it, again and still, and I'm grateful it exists in the world.


Book Review

Review: The Tiny Journalist

The Tiny Journalist by Naomi Shihab Nye (BOA Editions, $24 hardcover, 128p., 9781942683728, April 9, 2019)

In 2013, Janna Jihad--then just seven years old--began filming and posting videos that captured snippets of her daily life as a Palestinian living under Israeli occupation. Her videos caught the attention of thousands around the world, including Palestinian American poet Naomi Shihab Nye (19 Varieties of Gazelle; Voices in the Air). Her collection The Tiny Journalist takes its title from Janna, and its poems--some of which are written to the girl--address the ongoing maltreatment of Palestinians by Israel and its allies, including the United States.

"How lonely the word PEACE is becoming./ Missing her small house under the olive trees," Shihab Nye writes in "For Palestine." A sense of weariness pervades some of the collection: fittingly, there is a poem called "How Long?" and one called "Patience Conversations." Even the poems that are ostensibly about daily life are tied to the conflict: "Studying English" begins with a musing on how the word courage "has age/ in it/ but I say/ age is not required." "Mediterranean Blue" jumps straight from the sea's color to a meditation on refugees, and ends with a pointed statement: "And if we can reach out a hand, we better." And "38 Billion" takes a huge number (the amount pledged by the U.S. Senate in 2018 for Israeli military aid) and imagines what else it could buy: "Eggs. Pencils. Undershirts of very soft cotton./ Ribbons. Radios. Shining flashlights."

Shihab Nye often invokes the voice of her father, a Palestinian journalist who spent much of his life in the U.S. She connects his experience to Janna's ("The Old Journalist Talks to Janna") and brings up other family members she has loved and lost. She writes several times about Ahmad Dawabsha, a young Palestinian boy badly burned in a 2015 firebombing attack that killed his family. (Readers who do not follow the headlines from Gaza may find themselves confused at times. That is part of Shihab Nye's--and Janna's--point: these stories, both of horrifying injustice and the common details of humanity, deserve a wider audience.)

On every page, Shihab Nye's insistent call is the same: people, all people, deserve to live safe and healthy lives, free from fear and violence. She mourns, rages, takes politicians to task, but always lands on the side of compassion: "The saddest part?/ We all could have had/ twice as many friends." Her poems are a clarion call to readers to see the violence in Palestine and elsewhere, and to do what they can to work for peace. --Katie Noah Gibson, blogger at Cakes, Tea and Dreams

Shelf Talker: Naomi Shihab Nye's latest poetry collection addresses the ongoing violence in Palestine and makes a powerful call for peace.


Deeper Understanding

Robert Gray: "Next Book" a Matter of Right Place, Right Time

When I first began thinking about how professional readers like us go about the formidable challenge of selecting our "next book," I wrote that, for better or worse, I've always expected myself to know a little something about a lot of books, more about several key titles, and everything about a chosen few. I do what I can to meet those objectives, but inevitably fall short of high expectations. I read voraciously because, well, I have to, in every sense. I read for a living because it's the best job description I can imagine. And I never read enough.

I'm in good company, it seems, as my recent columns have shown. We wrap up the series this week with some wise words from three more gifted booksellers.

Maryelizabeth Yturralde

Conceding she was tempted to respond to my questions by saying that her decision-making process involves rolling a D20 (20-sided dice), Maryelizabeth Yturralde of Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore in San Diego, Calif., said that "in some ways, it might be as good a system as any." For forthcoming books she tries to keep her ARCs-of-interest in order of publication date on a TBR shelf, then "retire" them after the release dates. "Often my choices are driven by authors whose events are on our calendar, but I am also particularly a sucker for any book with a Shirley Jackson comparison in the description."

She will sometimes "backtrack to an older title when either prompted by an author's new release--reminding me of my previous good intentions--or when I just want that 'comfort read.' I have hoarded one unread Sheri S. Tepper book, for example, because I know there will be a moment when I am seeking a new-to-me Tepper title."

Jenny Lyons

Jenny Lyons of the Vermont Book Shop in Middlebury, said she spends "a lot of time sifting through stacks of ARCs," reading reviews, best-of lists, and "wanting to read just about every book I shelve. I also choose the books I read by the way they look and feel. It is that fundamental for me. I do judge books by their cover. I don't have the luxury of disappearing into a book, savoring each phrase, carefully turning each page. It's a much more efficient process now."

Writing a weekly review for the local newspaper "does keep me reading more current material, which is better for handselling," she noted. "Of course, I also want to read and review books ahead of time and am a total galley hog. I'm constantly sorting the piles, cycling out ones I thought I would read but didn't for piles of new ones. When I choose what to read out of those stacks, that's usually more instinctive."

Lyons does not spend time reading works "that don't keep my interest. If I put a book down and don't feel compelled to pick it back up, I just don't. I also move it out of the piles so I don't waste any time feeling badly about it. And just as often as I write reps or publicity to rave about a title, I'm also quite frank with them when a book doesn't meet my expectations. They are happy, not quite as happy, but still happy to get feedback."

She added that it has become increasingly important for her to read a variety of genres beyond contemporary American fiction, including nonfiction, mysteries, memoirs and biographies, "so what I have just read will influence what I read next. I am also reading more diverse authors purposefully, and more women."

Nancy Scheemaker

For Nancy Scheemaker of the Northshire Bookstore in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., "reading choices are most often driven by curiosity, mood and discovery, but certainly influenced by industry buzz and colleagues who have similar reading lives. I've been reminding myself lately of the true privilege of having access to so much art and story and news, and that I am most free when I'm filling my life with whatever it is I pluck off the shelf to read. After all these years, I continue to sort through incoming ARCs with glee and love the experience of being the first to explore a new writer's voice and vision."

Finding time to read older titles is more challenging. The list of works she wants to read "just keeps getting longer every year, as my bookshelves at home get heavier. I really do think this is a measure of health and I hope it never ever changes."

For all the best laid reading plans, often "right place, right time" is how the next book gets chosen.

"I believe what you get out of a book largely depends on where you are when you come to it in time or place," Lyons observed. "I usually go to a bookstore when I'm traveling. The last time I visited Salt Lake City, I went to the King's English Bookshop and found Refuge by Terry Tempest Williams, which I'd always wanted to read but never had a chance to when I lived there. I picked it up and started reading that night while I was camping on the Great Salt Lake and it was an indelible reading experience."

And now it's time for me to choose my next book to read. This one, I think, or maybe this one....

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

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