Shelf Awareness for Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Harper Voyager: Dragon Rider (Soulbound Saga #1) by Taran Matharu

Albatros Media: Words about Where: Let's Learn Prepositions by Magda Gargulakova, illustrated by Marie Urbankova

Blackstone Publishing: Ordinary Bear by C.B. Bernard

St. Martin's Griffin: One Last Shot by Betty Cayouette

Flatiron Books: Anita de Monte Laughs Last by Xochitl Gonzalez

Page Street YA: The Final Curse of Ophelia Cray by Christine Calella


ABA, Regionals Respond to B&T Move


The American Booksellers Association and regional booksellers associations are providing help and guidance to independent booksellers following Baker & Taylor's announcement last week that it will cease selling to indie bookstores.

ABA CEO Oren Teicher has sent a detailed letter to member stores outlining "a series of initiatives and developments ABA has undertaken to address the disruption" caused by B&T's move. "We remain committed to working as closely as possible with all industry partners to find a path forward, as well as doing whatever we can directly at ABA to mitigate this situation."

He reported that Ingram has "assured us that they are doing everything necessary to ramp up stock levels at their warehouses, and that they very much want to reach out to stores whose wholesale business was previously concentrated at Baker & Taylor in order to discuss what they are doing and to gain your business. Ingram has agreed to look closely at credit levels and to adjust current tiers to accommodate whatever increased business may be sent their way." Ingram has created a point of contact for ABA members: Nina McClain, v-p of customer care.

The ABA has also been in contact with many publishers, who "understand the magnitude of what's happened. Some publishers are exploring ways to establish more direct accounts; others are focused on increasing stock levels at their own distribution facilities as well as at Ingram."

The ABA has spoken, too, with Bookazine, which is "exploring ways to expand their reach" as well as with others who might fill the void created by B&T.

Teicher reiterated that the association "understands both how critically important rapid replenishment has been--particularly for the Western part of the country--and the role B&T played in facilitating rapid replenishment in that region for some publishers. Along with several industry partners, we are looking at a range of options to ensure rapid replenishment programs do not go away."

For stores that have been using the B&T e-commerce platform, the ABA has created a special introductory offer to switch to the ABA's IndieLite program. "We understand how essential it is today for stores to have a vibrant e-commerce enabled website and we are committed to making it as easy as possible for any store using the B&T platform to start using our program," Teicher wrote.

The ABA will continue updating members as it has more information, and he concluded: "Indie bookstores have demonstrated their resilience many times before, and I'm confident that this resilience--coupled with all the efforts by our industry partners--will get us through a challenging time once again."


Regional independent booksellers associations are also helping members in a variety of ways, discussing the situation and presenting options. Among more formal approaches, the Mountains & Plains Independent Booksellers Association has created a "wholesaler information and resources" page. MPIBA noted, "From an industry perspective, we share the ABA's concerns about the diminished competition in the book wholesale business, and what that means for cost-effective and rapid supply to our member stores, and ultimately consumers. On a more personal level, we are sad to hear of the extensive layoffs planned, and to lose many wonderful colleagues."

The New Atlantic Independent Booksellers Association is compiling a resource list for booksellers who need to open direct accounts with publishers, and noted that Bookazine, with headquarters in NAIBA territory, aims to "make every effort to step in and fill the void this leaves in the wholesale segment while continuing to provide the same high level standards we do today."

The Great Lakes Independent Bookselling Association has added a resources page about the B&T situation on its website, and is offering to connect bookstores and booksellers with GLIBA mentors. GLIBA noted that Joanna Parzakonis from This Is a Bookstore & BookBug, Kalamazoo, Mich., shared steps the store is taking now:

  • processing all of our B&T returns as soon as possible
  • scaling back our orders
  • increasing our EDI capacity to midsize houses
  • setting a schedule to wean our staff off of the B&T database for customer service
  • working to identify a wholesale alternative to our store's now only distributor, who we were encouraged to hear some supportive messaging from

HarperOne: Be a Revolution: How Everyday People Are Fighting Oppression and Changing the World--And How You Can, Too by Ijeoma Oluo

For Sale: Fables and Fairy Tales in Martinsville, Ind.

Fables and Fairy Tales children's bookshop in Martinsville, Ind., has been put up for sale by owners Dara and Barry Jackson, who opened the bookshop in 2017 in Nashville and moved to the current location last year. They plan to continue full operations of the store until July 31. If a buyer has not been found by then, they will begin liquidating inventory and assets, with a final closing date of Labor Day.

In a Facebook post announcing the decision, they wrote: "Martinsville, we would like to thank you for the last year of your love, support and encouragement after we relocated Fables and Fairy Tales from Nashville to our current location in Martinsville. Everyone has been welcoming and we have enjoyed getting to know you and your families. We have also enjoyed working with all of the local businesses to support the revitalization of downtown Martinsville and thank the Artesian Group LLC and the business owners for breathing new life into our historic downtown square.

"We have had some personal circumstances arise that unfortunately will not allow us to devote the time and energy to the bookstore that you all deserve and that it requires long term. Therefore, we have decided to put Fables and Fairy Tales up for sale.... Our sincere desire is that the store will continue on and be a magical place for children and adults alike for this wonderful town of Martinsville."

The sale includes all inventory and assets of the store. The owners said they "will help with a smooth transition to the new owner, if they desire. The store space is leased through Artesian Group LLC. There is also an available storefront next door with an interior pass through door (available at this time) that could potentially be used for expansion. Details regarding that space are also available through Artesian Group LLC."

For more information, contact

Harpervia: Behind You Is the Sea by Susan Muaddi Darraj

Northshire Bookstore Getting New Café

Northshire Bookstore in Manchester, Vt., has announced that a new café will open this month in the space formerly occupied by the Next Chapter Café, which closed in March. On Facebook, the Northshire wrote: "Suzanne Fontaine & Fiona Morton are thrilled to announce the opening of Bonnet & Main, a café coming to the intersection of Bonnet and Main streets & adjoining the Northshire Bookstore mid-May.

"The focus is to serve the local community and all those who visit a delicious variety of freshly made and, as much as possible, locally sourced food starting with great coffee, breakfast items, a lunch menu and beyond, including cakes, pies, cookies & pastries. There will be the option to grab and go, or stay & sit in the newly renovated dining room. Suzanne and Fiona joined forces after collectively working in the food business for over 30 years and are excited to add a new, lively and welcoming destination for people to dine in Manchester."

Bonnet & Main "will nearly be a new place," the Manchester Journal reported. Morton and Fontaine have "renovated much of the kitchen area with new appliances and are redoing the large upstairs dining area. Gone are the small tables with four chairs and in are couches, large tables, tall tables, and a few small tables. The floors have been refinished and the entire place has new paint."

The breakfast and lunch menus will expand with time, and Morton and Fontaine "are already planning expansion once they get their feet under them to include the potential for dinner and later evening hours. They expect to work with the bookstore to coordinate and plans for a wine and beer license are in the works," the Journal wrote.

Thompson Returns to Blackwell's as Chairman

Former Blackwell's CEO Anthony Thompson is "returning to the company as chairman after the retailer confirmed Trevor Goul-Wheeker will retire in June," the Bookseller reported. Goul-Wheeker, appointed chairman in 2010, is stepping down after 10 years on the board. Thompson, who led Blackwell's from 1997 to 2000, has since worked for Gap Europe, M&S, George Clothing ASDA and Fat Face.

Blackwell's has some 45 academic bookshops in the U.K. as well as an accounts and library supply service.

Noting that his successor had to be "highly accomplished" with extensive retail experience and a love for the book industry, Goul-Wheeker said, "That was a challenging brief when looking for potential candidates, but as soon as I heard of Anthony stepping down from Fat Face, we met and I knew at once that he has all these qualities in abundance. Leaving Blackwell's has been one of the hardest decisions of my career, but handing over to someone of Anthony's caliber and personality has made it so much easier."

Thompson commented: "It was a privilege to work at Blackwell's 20 years ago and I consider myself very lucky indeed to be able to return as chairman. Blackwell's is a trusted and globally recognized brand with a unique heritage. It is a pleasure to renew relationships with Toby, other board members and indeed, our CEO David Prescott, who was managing a Blackwell's bookshop when I left. I appreciate that much has changed in the interim, but some things are constant, most importantly the quality, dedication and expertise of Blackwell's people. These are qualities that our customers value and trust, and will underwrite the future success of Blackwell's."

Prescott added: "From a succession planning viewpoint and as someone who knows and understands our unique heritage and what we're trying to achieve, there couldn't be anyone better placed to join us at this time than Anthony. It's great news for Blackwell's."

May Indie Next List E-Newsletter Delivered

Last Thursday, the American Booksellers Association's e-newsletter edition of the Indie Next List for May was delivered to more than half a million of the country's best book readers. The newsletter was sent to customers of 141 independent bookstores, with a combined total of 538,827 subscribers.

The e-newsletter, powered by Shelf Awareness, features all of the month's Indie Next List titles, with bookseller quotes and "buy now" buttons that lead directly to the purchase page for the title on the sending store's website. The newsletter, which is branded with each store's logo, also includes an interview (from Bookselling This Week) with the author whose book was chosen by booksellers as the number-one Indie Next List pick for the month, in this case The Guest Book by Sarah Lake (Flatiron Books).

For a sample of the May newsletter, see this one from Waucoma Bookstore, Hood River, Ore.


Image of the Day: OMG Bookfest in St. Louis

This past weekend, The Novel Neighbor, Webster Groves, Mo. hosted the OMG Bookfest. More than 1,000 attendees came to see and hang out with 22 of their favorite children's and middle-grade authors, including Sarah Mlynowski, Tui Sutherland, Vashti Harrison and Stuart Gibbs. This is the first children's book festival in St. Louis and serves as the launch event for Novel Neighbor's Gateway Children's Book Festival, set to start in spring 2020.

Happy 20th Birthday, Bluestockings!

Congratulations to Bluestockings, the collectively owned, volunteer-run radical bookstore in New York City, which is turning 20 years old this month. Bowery Boogie reported that Bluestockings will celebrate with a party on Friday, May 31, featuring a guest list full of visiting poets, performers and writers.

Bluestockings, named for the Blue Stockings Society educational movement founded in the 18th century, opened on Allen Street in Manhattan's Lower East Side in 1999. Following a brief closure in 2001, the store reopened with its current collective-owned model. In 2015, Bluestockings raised more than $37,000 to renovate and remodel the store.

Cool Idea of the Day: Free Copies of The Mueller Report

BookGive, the nonprofit arm of BookBar, Denver, Colo., is providing free copies of Melville House's edition of The Mueller Report. The store wrote: "Regardless of which side of the political divide you may fall, we can all probably agree on the importance of this report. We recognize that, for some, purchasing books is a luxury. As it is our mission to provide books for all who need them, BookGive is proud to be able to remove any economic barriers to having access to a document that we believe every American should be able to read for themselves."

Personnel Changes at Holiday House

Asharee Peters has been promoted to marketing assistant from office manager at Holiday House.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Rachel Louise Snyder on Fresh Air

Fresh Air: Rachel Louise Snyder, author of No Visible Bruises: What We Don't Know About Domestic Violence Can Kill Us (Bloomsbury, $28, 9781635570977).

CBS This Morning: James Comey, author of A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership (Flatiron, $17.99, 9781250192479).

Good Morning America: Pam Tebow, author of Ripple Effects: Discover the Miraculous Motivating Power of a Woman’s Influence (Tyndale Momentum, $25.99, 9781496431318).

Wendy Williams: E.L. James, author of The Mister (Vintage, $16.95, 9781984898326).

The View: Jill Biden, author of Where the Light Enters: Building a Family, Discovering Myself (Flatiron, $27, 9781250182326).

Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen: Frank DeCaro, author of Drag: Combing through the Big Wigs of Show Business (Rizzoli, $35, 9780847862351).

Books & Authors

Awards: Indies Choice Book & E.B. White Read-Aloud

The winning titles and honor titles of the 2019 Indies Choice Book Awards and the E.B. White Read-Aloud Awards, sponsored by the American Booksellers Association, can be seen here. Authors and illustrators will be honored at the ABA Indies Choice Awards ceremony on Thursday, May 30, during BookExpo in New York City.

Formerly the Celebration of Bookselling Lunch, this year's awards are being presented in a new format on the trade show floor. Featured authors will be signing books in the ABA Member Lounge (Booth 2962) exclusively for ABA members following the event. Among the awards:

Adult Fiction Book of the Year: Circe: A Novel by Madeline Miller (Lee Boudreaux Books)
Adult Nonfiction Book of the Year: Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover (Random House)
Adult Debut Book of the Year: There There: A Novel by Tommy Orange (Knopf)
Audiobook of the Year: Circe: A Novel by Madeline Miller, read by Perdita Weeks (Hachette Audio)
Young Adult Book of the Year: The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo (HarperTeen)

E.B. White Read-Aloud Award--Middle Reader: Ghost Boys by Jewell Parker Rhodes (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers)
E.B. White Read-Aloud Award--Picture Book: We Don't Eat Our Classmates by Ryan T. Higgins (Disney-Hyperion)

Indie Champion Award: Jacqueline Woodson
Indie Champion Honorees:
Hanif Abdurraqib
Walter Isaacson
Tayari Jones
A.S. King
Dav Pilkey

Picture Book Hall of Fame Inductees:
The Circus Ship by Chris Van Dusen (Candlewick)
Grandfather's Journey by Allen Say (HMH Books for Young Readers)
Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People's Ears by Verna Aardema, Leo, illustrated by Diane Dillon (Dial Books)

Book Review

Review: Searching for Sylvie Lee

Searching for Sylvie Lee by Jean Kwok (Morrow, $26.99 hardcover, 336p., 9780062834300, June 4, 2019)

After a childhood split between the Netherlands and New York City's Chinatown, Sylvie Lee doesn't feel she fits in anywhere. Striking and intelligent, she becomes a hard-driving high achiever, earning top grades at Princeton and building a high-powered consulting career. Her younger sister, Amy, big-hearted but shy, idolizes Sylvie, and Sylvie becomes Amy's champion and protector. But when Sylvie returns to Amsterdam to visit her dying grandmother and then disappears, the younger sister flies across the ocean to find her--or, failing that, to unearth some answers.

In Searching for Sylvie Lee, her third novel, Jean Kwok returns to some of the themes she has explored in her previous books, Girl in Translation and Mambo in Chinatown. Her female protagonists, including both Lee sisters, struggle to balance the weight of their elders' history and traditions with their own dreams (and realities) of building lives in the United States. Amy and Sylvie have never even been to China, and their mother has never learned English; the sisters feel the pull of their ancestral culture and also resent the ways it marks them as different.

Sylvie also harbors a deep affection for the Dutch language and landscape of her childhood, though her mother's cousin Helena made Sylvie's years there difficult and sad. When she returns to the village outside Amsterdam where she once lived, she must deal with Helena's long-held resentments, her changing relationship with Helena's son Lukas and a number of family secrets that may upend her entire life. When Amy arrives several weeks later, she finds herself dealing with a confusing maze of family dynamics in addition to an entirely new culture and language, plus her deep fear that Sylvie is gone for good.

Kwok tells her story in three voices: Sylvie's, Amy's and the voice of their mother, known simply as "Ma." Each woman sees her own relationships and interactions with the others in an entirely different light, making this a compelling story of how the unsaid can powerfully shape families and lives. With the benefit of three perspectives, readers may guess at some truths before the characters do, but Kwok throws in plenty of twists and misdirection. As Amy draws closer to the truth of both Sylvie's disappearance and her whole life, she and her extended family must decide whether their secrets are worth bringing into the light.

Sharply observed, with a plot as unpredictable as its moody Dutch landscape, Kwok's novel is a powerful meditation on loss, identity and belonging. --Katie Noah Gibson, blogger at Cakes, Tea and Dreams

Shelf Talker: Jean Kwok's twisty, atmospheric third novel explores the secrets of a Chinese American family in the Netherlands.

Deeper Understanding

Audiobooks: A Program to Help Develop the Teen Audience

New consumer research from the Infinite Dial Survey from Edison Research and Triton Digital shows that 50% of Americans aged 12 and older have listened to an audiobook. The data from the 2019 consumer survey of audiobook listeners from the Audio Publishers Association notes that 55% of all audiobook listeners are under the age of 45, and a majority of "frequent" listeners are in the same age range. This bodes well for publishers of young adult titles, as the steady strong growth of the category continues year to year.

Ten years ago, AudioFile started a summer program to help develop the teen listening audience: SYNC Audiobooks for Teens. The SYNC program makes available two themed audiobook downloads every week, at no cost, to every registered listener, all summer. From initial conversations with a small group of librarians and children's booksellers in 2009, the idea of SYNC Audiobooks for Teens blossomed. From the start, audiobook publishers Hachette Audio, Penguin Random House/Listening Library, Scholastic Audiobooks, and HarperAudio were involved, convincing authors and agents of the value of the "free copy" aspect of audience development.

In the 2010 season, a classic audiobook from well-worn summer reading lists, such as Macbeth (Naxos AudioBooks) and Frankenstein (Tantor Audio) was paired with a contemporary young adult title like Wondrous Strange (HarperAudio) or The Hunger Games (Scholastic Audiobooks). Teachers and librarians were enthusiastic about incorporating the program into summer reading plans. The post-season user survey gathered, and continues to provide, useful planning suggestions: Start the season earlier to allow teachers to include SYNC in summer reading resources before school is out. Don't send the text alerts early in the morning when teens want to sleep! Last summer the SYNC program gave away nearly 170,000 downloads to almost 28,000 participants. The 10th season of SYNC Audiobooks for Teens opened in April, and 28 audiobook titles will be given away through the 14-week-long season this year.

Audiobook publishers Blink, Brilliance Audio and Candlewick on Brilliance Audio, Dreamscape, Full Cast Audio, Hachette Audio, HarperAudio, Penguin Random House/Listening Library, L.A. Theatre Works, Naxos AudioBooks, Oasis Audio, Recorded Books, Tantor Audio, and Scholastic Audiobooks are part of the 2019 season, and Rakuten Overdrive provides the download services. Publishers and authors recognize the value of the program. Megan Fitzpatrick, senior director of marketing & publicity at Hachette Audio, said, "We're incredibly gratified to read recent reports of growing numbers of younger audiobook listeners. SYNC has been an initiative Hachette Audio has supported for years as an important channel to introduce the new generations to the pleasures and benefits of audiobooks."

How has the program contributed to the audience of young listeners? A 15-year-old listener who downloaded their first audiobook in 2010--perhaps it was The Hunger Games--is now 25 and is probably still listening. The summer program is avidly anticipated and used across the country in programs for teens. Schools and libraries use the SYNC Toolkit of posters, banners, and materials to spread the word. Fitzpatrick continues, "The quality and diversity of offerings from the beginning has made inclusion of a title in SYNC quite an honor, and it's been wonderful to see the program continue to flourish, providing young people with free access to a prestigious library of curated summer listening." Featured titles this year include Becoming Kareem by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (Hachette Audio), Swing by Kwame Alexander (Blink), Blink & Caution by Tim Wynne-Jones (Candlewick on Brilliance Audio), All the Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater (Scholastic Audiobooks), and Kids of Appetite by David Arnold (Penguin Random House/Listening Library).

Author Elizabeth Fama, whose title Plus One (Farrar, Straus and Giroux) was featured in a previous season, still follows and encourages the program: "If someone had introduced me to downloadable digital audiobooks as a teen, I would not have stopped reading for pleasure when I was a high school and college student. My literary world now would be unimaginably richer for it! The SYNC Audiobooks for Teens program is doing such important work, showing young adults there's more than one way to fit great books into a busy life." Audiobook narrators, too, support the SYNC program. Nancy Wu, narrator of The Epic Crush of Genie Lo by F.C. Yee (Recorded Books), enlisted author Yee to make a video with her to share with SYNC listeners.

As SYNC Audiobooks for Teens reaches teen listeners and adult advocates through another summer, the program continues to draw listeners. Feedback from last year's post-season survey showed 40% of listeners said that SYNC audiobooks led them to other listening or reading, and 81% of educators and librarians surveyed said they see a use for SYNC audiobooks in their curriculum. Most satisfying, perhaps, is knowing that we have so many young listeners using audiobooks and making them part of their lives. --Robin Whitten, editor & founder of AudioFile.

The Bestsellers Bestsellers in April

The bestselling audiobooks at independent bookstore locations during April:

1. Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens (Penguin Random House Audio)
2. Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid (Penguin Random House Audio)
3. Circe by Madeline Miller (Hachette Audio)
4. The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides (Macmillan Audio)
5. A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles (Penguin Random House Audio)
6. There There by Tommy Orange (Penguin Random House Audio)
7. Black Leopard, Red Wolf by Marlon James (Penguin Random House Audio)
8. Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman (Penguin Random House Audio)
9. The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris (HarperCollins)
10. Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi (Macmillan Audio)    

1. Becoming by Michelle Obama (Penguin Random House Audio)
2. Educated by Tara Westover (Penguin Random House Audio)
3. I Miss You When I Blink by Mary Laura Philpott (Simon & Schuster Audio)
4. Say Nothing by Patrick Radden Keefe (Penguin Random House Audio)
5. The Library Book by Susan Orlean (Simon & Schuster Audio)
6. Calypso by David Sedaris (Hachette Audio)
7. Shortest Way Home by Pete Buttigieg (HighBridge)
8. Save Me the Plums by Ruth Reichl (Penguin Random House Audio)
9. Bad Blood by John Carreyrou (Penguin Random House Audio)
10. Maid by Stephanie Land (Hachette Audio)

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