Shelf Awareness for Friday, May 17, 2019


HarperCollins: The Love Letter by Anika Aldamuy Denise, illustrated by Lucy Roth Cummins

St. Martin's Press: Been There, Married That by Gigi Levangie Grazer

Del Rey Books: The Vanished Birds by Simon Jimenez

St. Martin's Press: Tombstone: The Earp Brothers, Doc Holliday, and the Vendetta Ride from Hell by Tom Clavin

Chronicle Books: Tartine: A Classic Revisited: 68 All-New Recipes + 55 Updated Favorites (Baking Cookbooks, Pastry Books, Dessert Cookbooks, Gifts for Pastry Chefs) by Elisabeth M Prueitt and Chad Robertson, photographed by Gentl + Hyers, foreword by Alice Waters

Arcadia Publishing - Click Here For Your Kit!

Hamilcar Publications: Jacobs Beach: The Mob, the Garden and the Golden Age of Boxing by Kevin Mitchell

News

Hipocampo Books Opens in Rochester, N.Y.

Hipocampo Books, "an independent Woman/Latinx owned children's bookstore" featuring "a varied collection of books that represent the rich cultures and languages of western N.Y. as well as toys and children's apparel," opened recently at 638 South Ave. in Rochester. "As we build our store, we will host children's programs and classes, performances, author signings and even opportunities for adults to share their love of children's literature," the bookshop's website noted.

Pamela Bailie, co-owner with Henry Padrón, told Spectrum News: "Our vision really was to develop a space where children could come and read some great literature. Their parents and guardians could come take them here and treat them to wonderful literature and for children to be able to see books that represented them--their culture and their lives--which is why we wanted to make sure to have as many languages as possible."

Bailie also cited the indie bookstore revival: "I think people really want to be reading to their children, holding something in their hands. Using electronic methods of reading have been wonderful in a lot of ways and opened up children to learning in a different way, but I think a lot of people are coming back to just having those books in their hands."

"One of my incredible recollections as a youngster was walking into my public library and the smell of the paper and the books, I still can't forget it," Padrón added.


Houghton Mifflin: Normal: A Mother and Her Beautiful Son by Magdalena Newman, and Normal: One Kid's Extraordinary Journey by Magdalena Newman and Nathaniel Newman, illustrated by Neil Swaab


Patterson: U.S Holiday Bookstore Bonuses; U.K. Book Donations

James Patterson has pledged $250,000 to independent bookstore employees as part of his 2019 Holiday Bookstore Bonus Program. Bookselling This Week reported that the bestselling author is partnering for the sixth straight year with the ABA to distribute the funds, which will be granted in amounts of $500 to 500 individual booksellers. For the first time, a specific number of bonuses are being set aside for children's booksellers.

The campaign is open to all U.S. independent bookstore employees through October 12. The grant application asks one question: "Why does this bookseller deserve a holiday bonus?" Bookstore employees, publishing professionals, authors, and bookstore shoppers can all submit nominations on behalf of any current employee of an ABA member store. Patterson will select winners from bookstores all across the country. Past recipients of Patterson grants are eligible, and booksellers can self-nominate. Bonuses will be distributed in December.

"For five years, James Patterson has demonstrated again and again just how strong his support is for the independent booksellers who introduce readers of all ages to the authors and titles that are most likely to spark and deepen their joy of reading," said ABA CEO Oren Teicher. "Nobody puts their money behind their words more than he does, and this extra financial support for more booksellers than ever--including more children's booksellers--will be much appreciated by all the hardworking booksellers who are recipients of his generous holiday bonus program. We can't thank him enough."

---

In the U.K., Patterson is funding "Buy a Book, Give a Book," a campaign to encourage reading in children and families from disadvantaged backgrounds through an initiative between Penguin, supermarket chain Asda and the National Literary Trust. The Bookseller reported that one new Penguin title, from a range of genres, will be donated to the NLT for every one of Patterson's book sold by Asda, in store or online, until December 31. A minimum of 250,000 books will be donated to the NLT regardless of how many books are sold. The aim is to "get everyone reading more so there is no upper limit to the amount of books donated," Penguin noted.

"It is my mission to prove that there is no such thing as a person who does not like to read, only people who have not found the right book," Patterson said. "Penguin, Asda and the National Literacy Trust are each dedicated to inspiring the reading habit and this initiative would not be possible without each of their contributions. These books will help to give disadvantaged communities in the U.K. access to books."

Jonathan Douglas, NLT director, commented: "Too many children living in the U.K.'s poorest communities are missing out on the transformative power of reading because they don't have a single book of their own at home. When children enjoy reading and have books of their own, they are more likely to do better at school and go on to lead happy, healthy and successful lives, so we must do everything we can to inspire children to fall in love with reading for a lifetime."


New Press: Rap on Trial: Race, Lyrics, and Guilt in America by Erik Nelson and Andrea Dennis, foreword by Killer Mike


Moravian Book Shop Adding Craft Beer Taproom

Moravian Book Shop in Bethlehem, Pa., widely considered to be the oldest continuously running bookstore in North America, is adding a taproom run by Lost Tavern Brewing, based in nearby Hellertown, Pa., the Morning Call reported.

Beginning next week, the taproom will have a few limited preview days before hosting a public grand opening on Friday, May 24. Its selection will include 17 taps featuring primarily Lost Tavern beers, along with a few guest spots from other breweries in the Lehigh Valley, and take-out growler and can service will be available. The taproom will share a space with Dave's Deli & Gelato that will be able to seat around 100 people.

Robert Grim, a co-founder of Lost Tavern Brewing, told the Morning Call: "We are very excited to be bringing a new and exciting experience to downtown Bethlehem, while still honoring the cherished traditions and atmosphere of Main Street."

The Moravian Church opened Moravian Book Shop in 1745, three years after the founding of Moravian College. In 2018, the church transferred ownership of the store to Moravian College; since the transition, it has been managed by Barnes & Noble.


GLOW: Andrews McMeel Publishing: That Can Be Arranged: A Muslim Love Story by Huda Fahmy


Pittsburgh's Journeys of Life Closing

Journeys of Life, the 30-year-old bookstore in Pittsburgh, Pa., that specializes in books on personal growth, life issues and spirituality, will close on June 8, coinciding with owner Jean Haller's retirement.

"It's been a wonderful ride," said Haller. "It's time. That's what I've said to anyone that's asked me about it--it's time."

The store has been running a retirement sale for the last seven weeks. During that time, Haller has displayed a book in which customers can write down their favorite memories of the shop. Sometime during the week before the store closes, Haller plans to host a goodbye party; she looks forward to inviting longtime customers and past employees.

Haller reported that she's been considering retirement for around a year and a half. Last year she looked into a work-to-buy program with an employee, but after that fell through she decided to wait to announce her retirement until her 70th birthday.

When she first announced her plans to retire and close the store, Haller recalled, her customers were shocked. Now, she said, "people are sad to see us go." When asked whether any customers have inquired about buying the store, Haller answered: "The inquiries have been, why aren't you selling the business? My response is, that's easier said than done."

Over the past three or four years, Haller's book sales have declined annually. While she and her staff have made up the income through increased sidelines sales, off-site events and more, Haller said she's "seen the effect of the current retail climate" on her store and "did not want to become an online bookseller." But thanks to the retirement sale, she said, the business is going out on a "super high note." She added: "I'm amazed."

In retirement, Haller said she's going to work with a few local non-profit groups, especially one called the Neighborhood Academy, which is a school for at-risk 6-12th graders. In addition to her volunteer work, she plans to do some traveling and spend time with her five grandchildren.

Looking back at her career as a bookseller, Haller said she's never going to forget when her store burned down in November 2011. Her customers and community members, as well as vendors and publishers and sales reps, all rallied around the store and got Journeys of Life reopened in only two weeks. "It was the most amazing outpouring of love and kindness I've ever experienced," said Haller.

Haller is also looking to sell her store's Franklin Fixtures. Interested parties can reach her at jean@journeysoflife.com.


Carla Gray Memorial Scholarship - Apply Today!


Seattle Indies Deal with the Rising Minimum Wage, Part 2

Over the past few months, Shelf Awareness has reached out to booksellers in Seattle, Wash., to find out how they've dealt with the city's rising minimum wage and what advice they would give other independent booksellers facing similar increases. The series began yesterday with a look at Elliott Bay Book Company; it will continue into next week.

"The key thing is, we cannot change the price of our goods, we can't raise a hamburger from $5 to $5.75," said Christy McDanold, owner of Secret Garden Books in Seattle's Ballard neighborhood. The 2,700-square-foot store sells books for children and adults, and, depending on the time of year. McDanold employs 9-12 people.

"At this point," she continued, "we're just tightening everything and trying to run a tighter ship with hours and staffing."

Since the minimum wage law was passed, McDanold said, she's seen "really varied sales" from year to year. The toughest years were when the store had "the worst hours booked"; 2016 was particularly bad in that regard. Since then, she has tried very hard to manage her staff's total hours and make sure that there is never too much overlap. She reported that the store is small enough that two staff members can usually handle the mornings and evenings, and she rarely has more than a few working at the same time.

Noting again that while booksellers cannot change their cost of goods, McDanold said "we can change where we source them." She added that the American Booksellers Association has "coached us well" on that front, and she has gotten much more proactive about finding good deals through ordering direct from publishers.

When asked if she's adjusted her inventory or sidelines mixture to help offset the rising minimum wage, McDanold replied that the benefits of high-margin sidelines were a "myth." She pointed out that they were often freighted and non-returnable, and still need to be priced fairly. And when they don't move, items that are left over "eat into that margin." She added that finding bookstore-appropriate sidelines is a source of "ongoing excitement," which can become very tricky when booksellers are "all finding the same sidelines."

On the subject of diversifying her business model, McDanold said that she's had only limited opportunities for business-to-business sales, but she has formed a great relationship with a credit card processor based in Ballard. Aside from that, she continued, in a city with so many bookstores, it often feels that they're all competing for the same thing. "It's a competitive town to be a bookseller in," she remarked.

At this point, McDanold feels that "nothing can be any tighter than it already is," in terms of staffing, hours and ordering. The only thing left to do is to "buck-up" her store's sales.

McDanold stated that the "worst thing" about the minimum wage increase has been the way it's narrowed the salary gap between brand new and experienced employees. Going into 2019, an employee with only a few months' experience would see a raise of almost 10%. As a result, McDanold chose to give every employee, whether they'd just started out or had been there nearly 15 years, the same sort of raise. Otherwise, she explained, it simply "didn't seem fair."

Prior to the minimum wage law, McDanold would often consider hiring a high school student each year. Now, though, she doubted whether she would hire another high schooler. "It was a great first job for them," McDanold recalled. "We had some really great experiences. But we just can't do it anymore."

In recent years McDanold has seen both far fewer and far less qualified applicants, and a lot less of the sort of applicant who is looking for a flexible part-time job to work around other interests or commitments. "What $15 has taken away was the flexibility," she elaborated. "People wanted to work here because the hours could be flexible, they could work it around school, family, being an artist. We could meet them with the job that they needed."

When asked about the city's support of small businesses, McDanold answered that there "really has been very little help" from the city on "just about anything." In addition to the implementation of the minimum wage increases, she pointed to a variety of city mandates, taxes and fees, hardly any of which make allowances for small businesses. With regard to the passing of the $15 minimum wage law, McDanold recalled that having reservations about it put her in a tough position. "It's not a discussion that I can have," she said. "If I had these opinions out loud, I'd upset every one of my customers."

Looking ahead, McDanold said more work needs to be done to make bookselling a "more sustainable" business. "It's a tough business," she said. "But yet I love it. I have a great, stable staff. We must be doing something right." --Alex Mutter


Notes

Image of the Day: Jay Kristoff at Schuler Books

Schuler Books, Grand Rapids, Mich., hosted Jay Kristoff in conversation with fellow YA author Susan Dennard, for the release of Aurora Rising (co-authored with Amie Kaufman; Knopf) to an overflow crowd of delighted fans.


'The Most Loved Bookstore in Every State'

Let the debates begin. Reader's Digest shared its picks for the "most loved bookstore in every state," noting: "Despite the rise of e-books and Amazon, the charming independent bookstore is still alive and well in America. From those with the largest selection to the ones with the coziest atmosphere, these are the best bookstores in each of the 50 states, according to customer votes on Nextdoor.com."


Chalkboard of the Day: Katy Budget Books

"It's more difficult than you might think," Katy Budget Books, Houston, Tex., suggested in sharing a photo of its chalkboard's sound advice on "How to Shop with a Bookworm":

  1. Enter store.
  2. Keep eyes on your bookworm at all times.
  3. Wow, OK you lost them...
  4. They're gone forever now...
  5. Just go on home.  

PRHPS to Distribute Square Enix

Beginning in fall 2019, Penguin Random House Publisher Services will handle sales and distribution for Square Enix, Inc. (SEA, a U.S. subsidiary of Square Enix Holdings Co.) to introduce a new line of English-language manga, novels, and art books across all sales channels worldwide.

Square Enix, the Japanese entertainment company, is best known internationally for its gaming properties, which include Final Fantasy, Tomb Raider, Dragon Quest, and NieR:Automata titles on game consoles and mobile platforms, but in Japan, Square Enix is also a renowned book and magazine publisher. The company has previously licensed its manga properties (including hits like Fullmetal Alchemist, Soul Eater and Black Butler) to U.S. publishers, but the new program marks its entry into the English-language market directly, publishing graphic novels and other book products under its own brand name for the first time through all major book sales channels.

Initial titles include Final Fantasy XV: The Dawn of the Future, a novel containing a new chapter in the Final Fantasy XV universe; the manga Hi Score Girl, which was adapted into an anime on Netflix; A Man and His Cat (Japanese title: Oji-sama to Neko), the pet-themed comedy that was the bestselling new manga in Japan during the first half of 2018; and the complete edition of the global mega-hit manga Soul Eater.

Katsuyoshi Matsuura, executive officer and v-p of the publication business unit, Square Enix Co., said, "We are excited to have this opportunity to introduce our wide variety of books with the help of PRHPS to our new readers."

And Masaaki Shimizu, general manager and publisher of the SEA's Book Publishing Division and responsible for the new program, said, "We're so excited that we now have the full support from PRHPS for achieving our goals to introduce more English translated books and expand our reach to new audiences."


Personnel Changes at the National Book Foundation

At the National Book Foundation:

Mark Lee has been promoted to senior manager, communications and marketing. Lee was formerly communications and marketing manager.

Dhyana Taylor has joined the Foundation as administrative assistant. She was formerly editorial assistant at Grove Atlantic.


Media and Movies

Media Heat: Brian Jay Jones on Morning Joe

Today:
Morning Joe: Brian Jay Jones, author of Becoming Dr. Seuss: Theodor Geisel and the Making of an American Imagination (Dutton, $32, 9781524742782).

Fresh Air: Stephen McCauley, author of My Ex-Life: A Novel (Flatiron Books, $16.99, 9781250122445).


Movies: Hip-Hop Romeo & Juliet

Solvan "Slick" Naim (It's Bruno) is developing an untitled hip-hop movie musical based on William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet for Netflix. Variety reported that Naim and Dave Broome co-wrote a script that "is described as a contemporary, musical take on Romeo and Juliet set against the urban rhythms of New York. The love story follows a young waitress from the streets of Brooklyn and an aspiring musician from a wealthy family whose unconventional romance forces them to confront their life choices."

Producers are Broome and Yong Yam for 25/7 Productions and Shakim Compere and Queen Latifah for Flavor Unit Entertainment. Executive producers are Overbrook Entertainment's Will Smith, James Lassiter and Caleeb Pinkett.



Books & Authors

SCBWI Adds Cash Prizes to Golden Kites

The Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators has added an additional award of $30,000 for winning and honor books of its annual Golden Kite Awards and the Sid Fleischman Award for Humor. The recipient in each category will receive a cash prize of $2,500 and a supplemental award of $1,000 to be donated in their name to a nonprofit organization of their choice. Honor book recipients will each get a $500 award and $250 to donate.

The organization said the additional awards "are in further recognition of the high quality of the full range of children's books written and illustrated by SCBWI members. SCBWI looks for ways to assist its members in giving back to their communities, and the additional award will provide them with the opportunity to help a deserving nonprofit."

SCBWI executive director Lin Oliver commented: "We are so happy to be able to award the Golden Kite recipients a stipend for their work and talent and also offer an opportunity for them to share financial benefits with their favorite nonprofit. This exemplifies how we honor individuals and the community at the same time."


Reading with... Randy Boyagoda

photo: Angela Lewis

Randy Boyagoda is the author of Original Prin (Biblioasis, May 14, 2019) and is one of Canada's funniest and most provocative writers. He is a regular presence on CBC Radio, and his last novel, Beggar's Feast, was selected as a New York Times Book Review Editor's Choice and longlisted for the IMPAC Dublin Literary Prize. His first novel, Governor of the Northern Province, was nominated for the Scotiabank Giller Prize. Born to Sri Lankan parents in Oshawa, Ont., he lives in Toronto with his wife and four children. He is a professor of English at the University of Toronto, where he is also principal of St. Michael's College.

On your nightstand now:

A Weekend in New York by Benjamin Markovits (because he gives us family life from one among many perspectives, many times over); Adam Buenosayres by Leopoldo Marechal (because who doesn't love a modernist Argentine epic with Dantean themes?); Churchill: Walking with Destiny by Andrew Roberts (because it's rare to find a book this comprehensive and astute that's written by a biographer who actually admires his subject); and the Bible (because).

Favorite book when you were a child:

Enid Blyton mysteries, which I thought were set in Sri Lanka, as I explain in this essay for the Paris Review.

Your top five authors:

William Faulkner, Saul Bellow, Elena Ferrante, George Eliot, Dante.

Book you've faked reading:

I am presently serving on a literary prize jury. I cannot answer this question.

Book you're an evangelist for:

Because I assume I'd be preaching to the choir if I chose Ferrante's Neapolitan Quartet, I will evangelize for Laurus by Eugene Vodolazkin. I was converted to it by a great bookseller and book evangelist named Warren Farha, of Eighth Day Books in Wichita, Kan. This is a novel set in the Russian middle ages that features an itinerant healer as the main character. The novel evokes a time and life far removed from ours in ways that take seriously and sincerely the beliefs and ideas of the protagonist and manage to forge identifications across centuries and continents that you'd never expect. What more could you ask of a novel?

Book you've bought for the cover:

Complete Stories by Clarice Lispector. It's cool.

Book you hid from your parents:

I hid Portnoy's Complaint from my mother-in-law one Christmas in Milwaukee. She likes to pick up books and make small talk about whatever she notices when she flips through. Can you imagine?

Book that changed your life:

Dante's Divine Comedy continues to change my life, every day. This is the case whether or not I read a canto every morning, as I have been trying to do for three years now.

Favorite line from a book:

The opening and closing sentences of St. John's Gospel.

Five books you'll never part with:

Divine Comedy, The Satanic Verses, The White Album, The Riverside Shakespeare, Absalom, Absalom! I know the Shakespeare pick is a workaround, but that's my biblio-life-hack for this question. As to the others, they are distinct enough from each other and, in their way, capacious enough within their pages, to sustain re-reading after re-reading.

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

The Hardy Boys book I lost when I was a boy, before I finished it! It had a greenish, demonish face on the cover. I've looked and looked and never found it. Readers, help!

Why you began your new novel, Original Prin, with the sentence "Eight months before he became a suicide bomber, Prin went to the zoo with his family":

Because it's true! And the great joy of a writer, and a reader, is to figure out how! Happy reading, America.


Book Review

Review: Outrages: Sex, Censorship, and the Criminalization of Love

Outrages: Sex, Censorship, and the Criminalization of Love by Naomi Wolf (Houghton Mifflin, $30 hardcover, 400p., 9780544274020, June 18, 2019)

With Outrages: Sex, Censorship, and the Criminalization of Love, Naomi Wolf tackles the history of legislation against homosexuality in the United Kingdom through the poetry, essays and life of a man her readers have probably never heard of: John Addington Symonds. This book harnesses the electric power of Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass, the righteous energy of first-wave feminism and the terror of criminalized identities, in a style accessible to general readers. As the fight for LGBTQ rights continues, this book is as relevant as it is compelling.

Symonds (1840-1893) had the bad luck to come of age as a gay man just as Great Britain's legal system turned against men who loved men. He was a writer in a time of obscenity laws. And despite the grave danger--sodomy for a time was punishable by death--he kept writing. "This is one reason why Symonds's story, in the context of the history of censorship and the history of homosexuality, is so remarkable. The man just would not be silenced." On top of copious publications, Symonds left behind a trove of "secret poems," and a memoir that would not be published until nearly 130 years after his death.

While Symonds is not Wolf's central subject, he provides inspiration and continuity for a larger story, and his life provides the book's timeline. It opens with Symonds's youth and the 1855 publication of Leaves of Grass. Then it follows London's war against literal filth (human excrement in the streets, cholera, typhus) and the invention of the crime of obscenity (framed in parallel to that other filth, with its infectious properties), legislation of female bodies and what Wolf calls the laboratory of empire: Britain tried out increasingly stringent policies in its colonies before bringing them home. Wolf maps out the relationship between feminists' campaigns for marital and property rights and the new idea that male-male love was "disgusting" or "unnatural": "When women targeted the sexually abusive practices of heterosexual men, the outcome was a backlash by the heterosexual male establishment," or distraction techniques directed at gay men.

Meanwhile, writers and artists sought each other out clandestinely, using coded language and referring to the ancient Greeks, as censorship laws "had an immediate dampening effect on literature." Finally, Wolf tracks what she sees as a generational progression: Whitman influencing Symonds and then Oscar Wilde, who served two years' hard labor for "gross indecency." The book ends with Symonds's death and his legacy, the writings he published in his lifetime and those he left behind for a future society ready to receive them.

Wolf's style is easy to read, and her research is authoritative: this book is in part adapted from more academic work on the subject, and some of the most captivating scenes involve primary sources in the archives. Outrages is not only an important history with lessons for the present, but also an engagingly told story. The instructive life of Symonds is for any reader who cares about history, civil rights or the power of poetry. --Julia Kastner, librarian and blogger at pagesofjulia

Shelf Talker: Naomi Wolf examines poetry as social resistance and its ability to free its readers and its writers, the origins of homophobia and the battle against censorship in this gripping and vital history.


Deeper Understanding

Robert Gray: Preparing for the 1919 ABA Convention

Later this month, we will gather by the river once again for BookExpo, a rite of spring that transforms the cold steel and glass shell of Javits Center into New York City's mega book bazaar.

For almost three decades--first as bookseller and later as media member--I've been attending the show previously known as BookExpo America/American Booksellers Association Convention. This seemed like a long time until I did a little archive exploring recently.

Consider the phrase "a century ago." It has a nice ring, so let's travel back to 1919, a year in which Sylvia Beach opened the original Shakespeare and Co. Bookshop in Paris and Christopher Morley published his iconic booksellers' novel, The Haunted Bookshop. In May of that year, the American Booksellers Association Convention was held at the Hotel Copley Plaza in Boston. Prior to the event, The Bookman published an article headlined "The Bookseller: The Reader's Best Friend" by ABA secretary Frederic G. Melcher.

This would be the ABA's 19th annual meeting and only the second held outside New York. About 200 members registered, including publishers, their representatives and retailers. Of special importance to the discussions that year was estimating the effect of war on book trade as well as possibilities for expansion under new conditions.

"There is a widespread feeling that the book is coming into its own, and the bookstore into wider recognition," Melcher wrote. "Will the bookseller be able to make good under the new opportunities; are the conditions under which he is operating suitable for meeting the needs? These are problems on which the trade wants answers."

Many of his concerns are still our concerns, including the issue that "books half distributed are books only half effective, and to the problem of better distribution the booksellers address themselves. They must work together for better basic training for booksellers, improved selling methods, wider public recognition of the importance of bookstores, higher professional standards. Better trade conditions will increase the number of bookstores, better training will increase the number of satisfied buyers. Improved selling methods will increase the outlet in a given community; increased recognition of the civic and educational importance of bookstores will bring adequate support to bookstore enterprises in cities now without them; and higher standards among store owners and managers will make such recognition possible."

He believed "there is still to be found no better way to get the right books to the right persons than by displaying them conveniently in every community under the competent comment of a bookseller. Authors, publishers, and public agree on this fact."

Why, Melcher wondered, were there so many cities without bookshops and fewer bookstores than there had been 50 years ago, despite a population increase. Not surprisingly, he blamed modern times: "While increase in wealth permits more margin for indulgence in books, the automobile and movie have cut into time available; and apartment houses and frequent family migration have made books seem an extra burden. New sources of reading have appeared on every side."

Consistently profitable bookshops were a rarity. "All statistics of the business point to the fact that while there is no retail field to compare with it in fascination, there are few that can compare with it in difficulty," Melcher wrote. "It requires breadth of study, alertness as a merchant, and a level head for finance, to build up a successful bookstore, or else a combination of such abilities in different heads. Usually it is the enthusiasm for the business that helps to overcome weakness in merchandising, though it may not quite offset weakness in financing."

The ABA Convention, however, provided an opportunity "for the pooling of selling ideas and methods," he noted. "What one manager has worked out another is quite welcome to know, and the one who will bring a good idea is likely to be rewarded by carrying away two."

Bookseller training was a key issue. Noting that at the 1918 convention the part of the program that garnered the most attention "was the reports from four speakers on bookselling education," Melcher observed: "It is the hope of many that the day is not far off when a school for bookselling may be established that will compare favorably with the best schools of librarianship--of which the curriculum could be partly paralleled."

While citing the entrance of more women into the business through "the establishment of small and individualistic bookshops" in various cities as "one of the hopeful and interesting developments in bookselling of the last few years," he also highlighted their "particular affinity for selling children's books."  

Melcher's pre-convention assessment of the bookselling world in 1919 concluded: "The small bookshop is showing increased possibilities under recent experiments. It can in no way take the place of the larger store where customers can find almost all books on all subjects, but it furnishes the opportunity for individuality and initiative. It will reach out in new areas of book usage, and tempt into the business of book distributing alert and active minds who will help to raise the level of American bookselling....

"Today brings in the greatest opportunity the bookseller has ever had, the opportunity to observe an eager and widened reading public at an epoch in the world's history. The preparation for adequate service is not complete; there are too few outlets, too few trained salesmen; but the booksellers see the way toward better things, and they ask and deserve the support and interest of the book-loving public of this country."

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

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