Shelf Awareness for Thursday, May 23, 2019

Blackstone Publishing: An Honorable Assassin (Nick Mason Novels #3) by Steve Hamilton

Clarion Books: The Man Who Didn't Like Animals by Deborah Underwood, Illlustrated by LeUyen Pham

Holiday House: Bye Forever, I Guess by Jodi Meadows and Team Canteen 1: Rocky Road by Amalie Jahn

Wednesday Books: Dust by Alison Stine

Running Press Kids: The Junior Witch's Handbook, The Junior Astrologer's Handbook, and The Junior Tarot Reader's Handbook by Nikki Van De Car

Scholastic Press: Ruin Road by Lamar Giles


PRH Buys 45% of Sourcebooks

Penguin Random House has bought a 45% interest in Sourcebooks, becoming "a collaborative investor" and creating what the companies call "a performance- and growth-oriented partnership." Sourcebooks has retained majority ownership of 55%, "with no changes in its leadership, management, publishing autonomy, or entrepreneurial culture."

Under the new arrangement, Sourcebooks will "tap into resources and capabilities that will allow an even broader and deeper approach to domestic and global markets," the companies said. "And the companies expect to work together on any number of new, shared programs aimed at reaching readers and supporting authors."

Sourcebooks CEO and founder Dominique Raccah commented: "Penguin Random House has a long history of fostering publishing entrepreneurs, and we're excited to be joining that tradition. Our new colleagues are brilliant publishers, doing extraordinary work. We are very excited to be working with them. Sourcebooks has developed a new model in the book space that is agile, data-centric, and customer-centric, and we do it all from America's heartland. This partnership is a continuation of our new model and another example of PRH's remarkable, diversified approach to the market. We're very excited to develop this new approach to creating the future together!"

PRH U.S. CEO Madeline McIntosh called Sourcebooks "an amazing success story with an extraordinarily strong track record of building sustainable growth, and Dominique is a great publisher and entrepreneur whom I have long admired. We now have a singular opportunity to forge a partnership of shared vision and values, and together grow our businesses, as we shape readers' lives through the books we publish."

Founded in 1987, Sourcebooks publishes more than 400 titles a year, more than half of them children's books, in multiple formats via seven children's and five adult imprints. Raccah has a background in brand marketing and research, and the company aims to capitalize quickly on opportunities to bring retailers the books and programs their readers will want.

Among notable Sourcebooks children's titles are P Is for Pterodactyl: The Worst Alphabet Book Ever and Quantum Physics for Babies. Perennial bestselling areas include college reference (Fiske Guide to Colleges), parenting (1-2-3 Magic), kids' science (8 Little Planets), gift (If I Could Keep You Little) and baby books (Welcome, Little One). Sourcebooks is also the publisher of the customized-content program Put Me in the Story and has emphasized creating book ideas and content in-house, such as How to Catch an Elf, and identifying storytellers who would appeal to reading groups, such as Kristina McMorris, author of Sold on a Monday.

Help a Bookseller, Change a Life: Give today to the Book Industry Charitable Foundation!

Workman Offers New Terms for All Indie Bookstores

In response to Baker & Taylor's decision no longer to sell to the retail wholesale market, Workman Publishing is making major changes to both new and existing independent accounts, aiming to make it easier for accounts to order both frontlist and backlist titles. The changes are effective immediately and apply to all Workman imprints, including Workman Publishing, Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, Algonquin Young Readers, Artisan, Storey Publishing and Timber Press, as well as distribution clients The Experiment, duopress and Erewhon Books.

New terms include lower minimums for free freight; changing how backlist is defined to make it easier for indie accounts to reach minimums on backlist stock-up offers; extra discount earned on face-out quantities on all frontlist titles; an easy credit application process for new accounts (now available online); and a new store special with no minimum.

Existing accounts should contact their sales representative for more information, and details will also be available via the American Booksellers Association and regional independent booksellers associations. New accounts that complete an online form will receive a response within 24 hours and the credit-approval process will be  expedited.

James Wehrle, Workman's executive director of sales, commented: "Baker & Taylor's transition away from serving retail accounts creates an opportunity to examine our relationship with independent bookstores and redefine it in ways that are good for the health of all of us. Our response addresses the needs of smaller accounts that were previously sourcing exclusively through wholesalers, and existing indie partners as well."

And CEO Dan Reynolds noted that "from the moment of Workman's founding over 50 years ago, independent bookstores have been critically important to our success as an independent publisher. Indies are open to all the different kinds of books we publish, including the quirkier ones, and have provided a generous home in their sections for our backlist. Given that 80% of our sales by volume is generated by our rich and vibrant backlist, that's no small thing. We also feel a special kinship with indies because of relationships forged through our own invaluable independent sales reps. As soon as we learned of the Baker & Taylor news, we knew it was time to step up and do what we could to strengthen our partnership with this core segment of our business."

Books Kinokuniya to Open in Portland, Ore.

Books Kinokuniya's store in Seattle, Wash.

Books Kinokuniya will open its 13th U.S. location this summer, in downtown Portland, Ore., at 829 SW 9th Ave. The new store is in "a historic cinema building called the Guild Theatre which after almost 80 years in use closed in 2006," the company said. "Kinokuniya is working diligently to renovate it, and we have striven to insure that the exterior of the building will maintain its elegant appearance."

Last December, Kinokuniya's chairman and president Masashi Takai announced the company planned to launch a Portland store, and as a preview opened a pop-up shop at the nearby Cleaners at Ace Hotel during Christmas week 2019.

Although Kinokuniya already has a small location in nearby Beaverton, the Portland store will feature a wider inventory, stocking "carefully selected books, unique merchandise and Japanese stationery, with a focus on art and comics from Japan," the company said.

The location will also have a cafe "run by Portlander Tomoe Horibushi, owner of the much loved Behind the Museum Café, which specializes in matcha drinks and desserts," Willamette Week wrote. Horibushi's two cafes "will be just blocks from one another, but her new location will diverge from Behind the Museum's traditionalism. Horibushi has obtained a liquor license for the space, and hopes to host events and have a takeout menu." Kinokuniya interviewed Horibushi about Book of Tea Café and LRS Architects about the design challenges presented by the renovation.

Tegan Tigani Appointed to ABA Board

Tegan Tigani

Tegan Tigani of Queen Anne Book Company, Seattle, Wash., is joining the American Booksellers Association board to fill the vacancy created by the election of Jamie Fiocco of Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill, N.C., as president, Bookselling This Week reported. Tigani will fill the vacancy until the ABA board election next spring, at which time she'll be eligible to be nominated to run for the unexpired period of what would have been Fiocco's term as a board member. Tigani will also be eligible to be nominated to run for a full three-year term as a board member.

Tigani is a bookseller and children's book buyer at Queen Anne Book Company and worked at its predecessor, Queen Anne Books. A former president of the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association, she is the editor of NW Book Lover and children's book editor-at-large at Sasquatch Books.

Obituary Note: Charles Rue Woods

Charles Rue Woods, art director of Grove Atlantic for almost 20 years until his retirement in 2016, died on May 15. In a distinguished career in publishing, he also worked at Random House, Simon & Schuster, St. Martin's Press, Picador, Turtle Bay Books and Tricycle magazine, holding positions in art/design, editorial, marketing and creative direction. Some of his iconic jackets include Allegra Kent's Once a Dancer, Susanna Kaysen's Girl, Interrupted, Angels & Insects by A.S. Byatt, The Beans of Egypt, Maine by Carolyn Chute, Personal Velocity by Rebecca Miller, The Silent Cry by Kenzaburo Oe, the Samuel Beckett Centenary series packaging and A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole. A memorial service is being planned for later in the summer.

Seattle Indies Deal with the Rising Minimum Wage, Part 6

Over the past week, Shelf Awareness has examined how independent bookstores in Seattle, Wash., have adjusted to the city's rising minimum wage over the past several years. Seattle's minimum wage ordinance, which was signed into law in 2014, was the first in a wave of minimum wage increases that has since spread to several other cities and states around the country. While every store's situation is different, there are a number of common issues, concerns and observations brought up by Tracy Taylor, general manager of Elliott Bay Book Company; Christy McDanold, owner of Secret Garden Books; Louise Little, CEO of University Book Store; Krijn de Jonge, co-owner of Queen Anne Book Company; and Danielle Hulton, owner of Ada's Technical Books & Cafe, that may be helpful to indies navigating similar wage increases in other parts of the country.

Managing Hours: For most, though not all, of the booksellers we spoke to for this series, the higher minimum wage has led to keeping a much tighter rein on their staff's total hours and making sure there isn't too much overlap at any one time.

Wage Compression: One of the thorniest issues that Seattle indies have had to navigate is wage compression, or new hires starting at salaries approaching those of much more experienced staff members. While no bookseller could point to a single, definitive solution that would make everyone happy, many of them have given raises to experienced staff members and advised being as open and transparent as possible with staff members about the situation.

Higher-Margin Sidelines: Although not every bookseller agreed on the value of increasing sidelines sales, most reported that they've either expanded their selection of non-book items or focused on higher-margin sidelines such as games, toys and letterpress cards since the minimum wage ordinance came into effect.

Effects on Hiring: Acknowledging that it was impossible to tell if it was entirely due to the rising minimum wage, a number of the booksellers reported occasional difficulties with hiring. Though they usually find the right candidate eventually, it has sometimes taken much longer than in previous years.

Considerations for Small Businesses: The booksellers featured in the series expressed very little satisfaction with the way Seattle's city government implemented the minimum wage increase. Multiple booksellers pointed to a tendency on the part of the city council, as well as supporters of the minimum wage law, to lump all businesses together, whether they be independent, local stores or giant corporations like Amazon or Boeing, and several said they often felt as if their voices weren't heard in discussions about the minimum wage.

The previous articles in the series can be read here. --Alex Mutter


Image of the Day: Celebrating The Joy Luck Club

Last Friday, Book Passage, Corte Madera, Calif., hosted Amy Tan in conversation with store co-owner Elaine Petrocelli to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Tan's beloved novel The Joy Luck Club.

Chalkboard of the Day: River Bend Bookshop


"We are officially at the point where it's weird to tell people how old we are in weeks. Happy 6 months!! Come in and wish us well," River Bend Bookshop, Glastonbury, Conn., tweeted in sharing a photo of its sidewalk chalkboard inviting patrons to a "half birthday celebration" this Sunday.

S&S to Distribute Waterhouse Press

Effective November 1, Simon & Schuster will handle sales and distribution to markets and territories worldwide for Waterhouse Press.

Founded in 2014, Waterhouse Press publishes romance, YA, and suspense novels. Among its series are the Steel Brothers Saga by Helen Hardt, Calendar Girl by Audrey Carlan and the Red Ledger by Meredith Wild.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Allen J. Lynch on Fox & Friends

NPR's Here & Now: Jose Andres, co-author of Vegetables Unleashed: A Cookbook (Anthony Bourdain/Ecco, $39.99, 9780062668387).

Fox & Friends: Allen J. Lynch, author of Zero to Hero: From Bullied Kid to Warrior (Pritzker Military Museum & Library, $25, 9780998968926).

This Weekend on Book TV: The Bay Area Book Festival

Book TV airs on C-Span 2 this weekend from 8 a.m. Saturday to 8 a.m. Monday and focuses on political and historical books as well as the book industry. The following are highlights for this coming weekend. For more information, go to Book TV's website.

Saturday, May 25
12 p.m. to 7 p.m. Coverage of the fifth annual Bay Area Book Festival in Berkeley, Calif. (Re-airs Sunday at 12 a.m.) Highlights include:

  • 12 p.m. Robert B. Reich, author of The Common Good (Knopf, $22.95, 9780525520498), and Anand Giridharadas, author of Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World (Knopf, $26.95, 9780451493248).
  • 3:08 p.m. Sheila Heti, author of Motherhood: A Novel (Holt, $27, 9781627790772), and Grace Talusan, author of The Body Papers (Restless Books, $22.99, 9781632061836).
  • 4:25 p.m. Stephanie Jones-Rogers, author of They Were Her Property: White Women as Slave Owners in the American South (Yale University Press, $30, 9780300218664), Caitlin Rosenthal, author of Accounting for Slavery: Masters and Management (Harvard University Press, $35, 9780674972094), and David Blight, author of Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom (Simon & Schuster, $37.50, 9781416590316).
  • 5:44 p.m. Esi Edugyan, author of Washington Black: A Novel (Knopf, $26.95, 9780525521426), Sheila Heti, author of Motherhood: A Novel (Picador, $18,9781250214782), and André Alexis, author of Days by Moonlight (Coach House Books, $17.95, 9781552453797).

7 p.m. Matthew Fink, author of The Unlikely Reformer: Carter Glass and Financial Regulation (George Mason University, $32, 9781942695165). (Re-airs Sunday at 10:30 a.m.)

8:50 p.m. Jared Diamond, author of Upheaval: Turning Points for Nations in Crisis (Little, Brown, $35, 9780316409131), at Politics & Prose in Washington, D.C. (Re-airs Sunday at 1 p.m.)

10 p.m. Rachel Louise Snyder, author of No Visible Bruises: What We Don't Know About Domestic Violence Can Kill Us (Bloomsbury, $28, 9781635570977). (Re-airs Sunday at 9 p.m. and Monday at 12 a.m. and 3 a.m.)

11 p.m. Lawrence Mead, author of Burdens of Freedom: Cultural Difference and American Power (Encounter Books, $27.99, 9781641770408). (Re-airs Sunday at 6:50 p.m.)

Sunday, May 26
5:40 p.m. Nancy Isenberg and Andrew Burstein, authors of The Problem of Democracy: The Presidents Adams Confront the Cult of Personality (Viking, $35, 9780525557500).

8 p.m. Michele Filgate, author of What My Mother and I Don't Talk About: Fifteen Writers Break the Silence (Simon & Schuster, $26, 9781982107345).

10 p.m. Rick Atkinson, author of The British Are Coming: The War for America, Lexington to Princeton, 1775-1777 (Holt, $40, 9781627790437), at Politics & Prose.

Books & Authors

Awards: Miles Franklin Longlist

The longlist for the 2019 Miles Franklin Literary Award, honoring "novels of the highest literary merit that tell stories about Australian life," has been announced and can be seen here. The winner of Australia's most prestigious literary award receives A$60,000 (about US$41,335). The shortlist will be revealed on July 2 and the winner on July 30.

Attainment: New Titles Out Next Week

Selected new titles appearing next Tuesday, May 28:

Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World by David Epstein (Riverhead, $28, 9780735214484) argues that people with general interests are more successful than specialists.

Ernesto: The Untold Story of Hemingway in Revolutionary Cuba by Andrew Feldman (Melville House, $29.99, 9781612196381) explores Hemingway's decades in Cuba.

How Not to Die Alone by Richard Roper (Putnam, $26, 9780525539889) follows a man who finds next of kin for unclaimed corpses.

Last Day: A Novel by Domenica Ruta (Spiegel & Grau, $27, 9780525510819) imagines a yearly global holiday where people celebrate the apocalypse.

The Woman in the White Kimono: A Novel by Ana Johns (Park Row, $26.99, 9780778308140) tracks the fallout of a young Japanese woman falling for an American sailor in 1957.

Keep You Close: A Novel by Karen Cleveland (Ballantine, $27, 9781524797058) is a thriller about a single mother who exposes corruption in the FBI.

The Voice in My Head by Dana L. Davis (Inkyard Press, $18.99, 9781335008497) features a young woman who believes she hears the voice of God telling her how to save her terminally ill twin.

I Love You So Mochi by Sarah Kuhn (Scholastic Press, $17.99, 9781338302882) is a YA novel in which a young Japanese-American woman travels to Kyoto to get some space from her mother.

Ghosted: A Novel by Rosie Walsh (Penguin Books, $16, 9780525522799).

IndieBound: Other Indie Favorites

From last week's Indie bestseller lists, available at, here are the recommended titles, which are also Indie Next Great Reads:

Light From Other Stars: A Novel by Erika Swyler (Bloomsbury, $27, 9781635573169). "It's a little tricky to set up the premise of Light From Other Stars without giving too much away and alienating readers who might have a knee-jerk reaction to a plot involving space travel and a temporal anomaly. But at its heart--and it's a big, generous heart--this book is about love and what ultimately makes us human. The sci-fi/magical realism elements act like a series of lenses that magnify and, in wonderfully odd and unexpected ways, deepen our connection to those themes." --Steve Haruch, Parnassus Books, Nashville, Tenn.

The Binding: A Novel by Bridget Collins (Morrow, $26.99, 9780062838094). "An absolutely gorgeous novel! Collins writes Emmett in such a way that readers will experience his confusion and frustration and then have it unknotted simultaneously as his tale unfolds. The three parts of the novel are brilliantly ordered to deliver a powerful tale that will tear your heart to pieces slowly and, in one spectacular scene, mend it completely with hope and love. Do Binders provide healing and comfort, or are they wicked magicians determined to leave you empty? What are you willing to risk for someone you love?" --Angela Shores, Adventure Bound Books, Morganton, N.C.

Loudermilk: Or, the Real Poet; Or, the Origin of the World by Lucy Ives (Soft Skull Press, $16.95, 9781593763909). "Lucy Ives has created something special in Loudermilk. The early 2000s setting is unmistakable, and while all the characters are both familiar (in all the right ways) and written with at least some degree of love, none are spared by Ives' razor-sharp satire. Unlike so many other satirical novels, Loudermilk is nuanced and feels like it has something to say, rather than just skewering for the sake of skewering. And it's consistently laugh-out-loud funny throughout." --Lane Jacobson, Paulina Springs Books, Sisters, Ore.

For Ages 4 to 8
Sweety by Andrea Zuill (Schwartz & Wade, $17.99, 9780525580003). "Raise your hand if you're Sweety! For all the oddballs, the freaks, the geeks, the nerds, the weirdos, the ones looking for their tribe: This is your picture book. Whether you're a child in truth or a child at heart, Sweety will wrap you in a loud, enthusiastic hug and let you know that you are so very not alone." --Billie Bloebaum, Third Street Books, McMinnville, Ore.

For Ages 9 to 12: An Indies Introduce Title
Caterpillar Summer by Gillian McDunn (Bloomsbury, $16.99, 9781681197432). "This stunning debut from Gillian McDunn is guaranteed to warm any reader's heart. Cat and her brother, Chicken, who has special needs, have never met their mother's parents, but that all changes when their mom is called away to work and the kids need somewhere to go for the summer. Once the kids arrive at their grandparents' house on Gingerbread Island, old hurts are exposed and Cat has to navigate her family's complicated history. At the same time, Cat has to look after Chicken, who lands himself in sticky situations despite his best efforts. Mix in a new friend, a little bully, and a fishing competition, and that's one thrilling summer! Cat is a spirited, responsible young girl with a fierce sense of what is right. She is sure to win a lot of fans!" --Michael Leali, Anderson's Bookshops, Naperville, Ill.

For Teen Readers
Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan (Wednesday, $18.99, 9781250195661). "Wicked Saints has everything I look for in a book: dark monsters, powerful magic, and a stunning atmosphere that permeates every page. Inspired by the story of Joan of Arc, Wicked Saints follows a gods-touched peasant girl raised to be the solution to a century-long war. When Nadya's entire life is burned to the ground, she must work with the enemy and betray her gods to save them all. This book is lush and darkly romantic, perfect for fans of Maggie Stiefvater and Leigh Bardugo. Duncan's thrilling debut explores the ecstasy and heartbreaking tragedy of what it is to love a monster." --Laura Graveline, Brazos Bookstore, Houston, Tex.

[Many thanks to IndieBound and the ABA!]

Book Review

Review: Cygnet

Cygnet by Season Butler (Harper, $26.99 hardcover, 240p., 9780062870919, June 25, 2019)

Cygnet is a powerful, poignant, smart debut novel by Season Butler. Her protagonist, known only as Kid, lives on an island otherwise populated entirely by elderly separatists. Ten miles off the coast of New Hampshire, Swan Island's inhabitants call themselves Swans, and they want nothing to do with the rest of the world, which they call the Bad Place. Seventeen-year-old Kid has no business there, but her parents abandoned her with her grandmother, who has since died. Now she works part time for one of the residents, digitizing and editing photographs, home videos and the woman's children's diaries: "I've given her real breasts, grateful children, a husband whose eyes never wandered.... I'll be up here forever, fixing Mrs. Tyburn's memory." She spends her lunch breaks with an Alzheimer's patient, who has no memories to fix.

Swan Island is slowly crumbling into the sea, with Kid's grandmother's house set to go first: her backyard shrinks by the day, and Kid hates and fears the ocean, its relentless "waves that never tire of the same old dance moves. The cliff and the ocean, a mosh pit of two." The Swans are always going on about how you can view the sea from anywhere on their island; she doesn't see the appeal. With few exceptions, the Swans are cruelly frank about their displeasure at her presence, her very existence. She is desperate for her parents to return for her, but over the course of the story, the reader understands how unlikely this is. Memories and flashbacks touch briefly on their drug addiction and neglect, and hint at past traumas.

Cygnet covers a brief period of time on Swan, in Kid's first-person voice. Her thoughts are true to those of an unhappy teenager: "I'm such an idiot" is a refrain; she disparages her own strange stream of consciousness. The prose style ranges widely from this (realistic) awkwardness to inspired lyricism. For such a young person, Kid has a surprisingly clear and sympathetic view of the Swans, appreciates their beauty and their choice to segregate from the Bad Place. She wishes her choices were so clear. On her 18th birthday, she bakes herself a birthday cake, using her mother's remembered instructions; it comes out with a "perfect crumb" but she finds she's no longer hungry: "I... take it outside, plate and all, and throw it off the stupid cliff."

At the intersection of teen angst and sobering end-of-life realities, Cygnet contains some powerfully depressing material. But Kid's disarming voice and unlikely will to push forward save this novel from doom and gloom. Kid and the Swans have more in common than they think--age and youth being more alike than either perhaps accepts--and Butler's conception of this particular world-within-a-world is easy to lose oneself in. With the house literally falling out from under her, Kid will have to face her own future, create it for herself. By the end, this feels like a situation we all have in common. --Julia Kastner, librarian and blogger at pagesofjulia

Shelf Talker: An island of elderly separatists and one teenaged girl face essential human angst in this remarkable debut novel.

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