Shelf Awareness for Friday, May 24, 2019

Algonquin Young Readers: the Beautiful Game by Yamile Saied Méndez

Berkley Books: Books that will sweep you off your feet! Enter Giveaway!

Feiwel & Friends: The Flicker by HE Edgmon

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers: The Pumpkin Princess and the Forever Night by Steven Banbury

St. Martin's Griffin: Murdle: The School of Mystery: 50 Seriously Sinister Logic Puzzles by GT Karber

Editors' Note

Memorial Day Weekend

In honor of Memorial Day, we will be stepping away from the computers this weekend. We'll see you again Tuesday, May 28.

Blackstone Publishing: Rogue Community College: A Liberty House Novel by David R Slayton


Books Bound2please Opens in Orange, Va.

Books Bound2please, a used and new general-interest bookstore, has opened in Orange, Va., Charlottesville CBS19 reported. Kathy Judge, a former bookseller and librarian, and Gerilee Hundt, who's worked in publishing in Chicago, teamed up to open the store in February.

Bound2please carries a range of titles, from cookbooks and history to science fiction and literary fiction. And while the majority of the inventory is used, Judge and Hundt do stock a selection of new books, including new releases and contemporary titles. Hundt and Judge told CBS19 that they've been "warmly received" by the Orange community.

Judge and Hundt became friends after the former moved to Orange about two years ago. They bonded over a shared love of books, and last fall Judge suggested that the two team up to start a bookstore. Hundt jumped at the idea. She recalled: "I've always wanted to run a bookstore.... I realized there really wasn't a book shop, and I love bookstores."

When it comes to acquiring used books, Judge makes house calls when someone has a large amount of books to sell. This service has grown out of a business she founded called Library Logic, for which she would catalogue home libraries and estimate their value.

Bound2please's event plans include book clubs, author talks, play and poetry readings and more.

New WH Smith Group Chief Executive

At WH Smith, Stephen Clarke, who has been group chief executive for six years, is stepping down, effective October 31, and will be replaced by Carl Cowling, who is currently High Street managing director, the Bookseller reported.

WH Smith has some 1,400 shops that are primarily at airports, train stations, downtowns, highway stops and hospitals, and sells books, stationery, magazines, newspapers, entertainment and travel products, and some food. Most of its stores are in the U.K., although it has operations in some 28 other countries, mostly in airports. At various times, WH Smith owned Waterstone's and Hodder Headline. Last year it bought InMotion, the digital accessories retailer that operates in U.S. airports, and it came close to buying Barnes & Noble.

WH Smith chairman Henry Staunton praised Clarke's "outstanding contribution to WH Smith. The board is particularly grateful to him for his dedication and leadership, which has seen WH Smith go from strength to strength and deliver exceptional shareholder value over the last six years. He has built an excellent management team and has put in place a proven strategy which will continue to deliver for all our stakeholders."

He added that Carl Cowling "has been instrumental in the development and execution of our successful strategy that has led to the company's outstanding performance. Carl has the qualities and experience to lead the Company and continue to deliver superior shareholder returns over the years to come. Carl will work alongside Robert Moorhead, CFO/COO since 2008, who has supported Stephen over the last six years and Robert will continue to bring his significant experience and retail expertise to the board."

Cowling said he looks forward "to leading W H Smith to its next stage of growth, supported by the excellent teams across our Travel, International and High Street businesses."

Claire McKinney Founds Plum Bay Publishing

Claire McKinney

Claire McKinney, head of Claire McKinney Public Relations and with more than 20 years of experience as a book marketer and publicist, has founded Plum Bay Publishing, which will publish traditionally and cooperatively, depending on the needs of the authors and their books. Plum Bay's model allows for printing and warehousing books for the trade, while allowing online retailers that work directly with indie presses to order via POD. The current Plum Bay list consists of six titles, two of which will be published this summer. Plum Bay aims to publish up to 20 titles per year.

"Since starting my own public relations business in 2011, I've been impressed by the number of great writers whose books are not being published by the bigger houses," McKinney said. "My goal is to provide a transparent environment for authors and retailers that allows good, quality books to enter the marketplace at competitive prices and discounts."

710 Bookstore in Carbondale, Ill., to Close

After more than 50 years of service to the Southern Illinois University and Southern Illinois community, 710 Bookstore in Carbondale is closing on May 25. "We want to thank all of Saluki Nation and Southern Illinois for your decades of support and allowing us to serve the needs of students, faculty, fans and the public," the store had posted on its Facebook page. "We also want to thank all of our former employees over the decades for their dedicated service. Although the business will close, the friendships and relationships developed will remain and we will always be proud to have had the opportunity to serve."

The store was purchased by Randy Johnson, along with Dwayne and Kim Summers, in 2014 after being sold by the original owners, Kennedy's Books Inc. of Lexington, Ken., the Southern Illinoisan reported.

"In 2015, the business moved from its familiar location at 710 South Illinois Avenue to make room for the Evolve Apartment complex," WSIU wrote. "Most recently, the business moved to South Wall Street, the former home of the Carbondale Water Treatment Plant."

Obituary Note: Judith Kerr

British author and illustrator Judith Kerr, "whose debut picture book The Tiger Who Came to Tea introduced generations of pre-school children to the joyful chaos of uncontrolled appetites," died May 22, the Guardian reported. She was 95. Kerr, "who dreamed up the tiger to amuse her two children," only started publishing in her 40s. Last week, she was named illustrator of the year at the British Book Awards.

Kerr published more than 30 books, including the 17-title Mog series and the semi-autobiographical Out of the Hitler Time trilogy (When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit, Bombs on Aunt Dainty (originally published as The Other Way Round) and A Small Person Far Away). A new work, The Curse of the School Rabbit, described by HarperCollins as a "laugh-out-loud story of a boy, a rabbit, and a lot of bad luck," will be released in June.

Children's author David Walliams remembered Kerr as a "legendary author and illustrator, whose stories and illustrations gave pleasure to millions around the world," while children's laureate Lauren Child recalled her as "generous" and "such a lovely person to be around.... She was just so funny. Even last week she was joking with me on the phone about she was rather pleased that she was exactly the same weight she'd always been, but that she'd let it go a bit far. She could always make me laugh. She always seemed to see the good."

Ann-Janine Murtagh, Kerr's publisher at HarperCollins Children's Books, told the Bookseller: "It has been the greatest honor and privilege to know and publish Judith Kerr for over a decade, though of course her history with HarperCollins goes back over 50 years. She came to visit our offices frequently--always bringing her books in person; often arriving on the number 9 bus and leaving us all full of laughter and in awe of her astonishing zest for life and absolute commitment to delivering the very best books for children. Her incisive wit and dry humor made her both excellent company and a joy to publish. She embraced life as one great big adventure and lived every day to the full."

HarperCollins CEO Charlie Redmayne called Kerr "a wonderful and inspiring person who was much loved by everyone at HarperCollins. She was a brilliantly talented artist and storyteller who has left us an extraordinary body of work. Always understated and very, very funny, Judith loved life and loved people--and particularly she loved a party. Beautifully dressed and with a smile on her face she would light up the room and would always be one of the last to leave. Time spent in her company was one of life's great privileges and I am so grateful to have known her."

"There was steel under the sweetness," Nancy Banks-Smith wrote in the Guardian. "All great children's literature is slightly disturbing beneath the surface and no one could draw the smile on the face of the tiger like Judith. Her voice on the phone became tissue paper-thin, but she was determined to finish her last book and, knowing she was dying, she did it."

G.L.O.W. - Galley Love of the Week
Be the first to have an advance copy!
A Forty Year Kiss
by Nickolas Butler
GLOW: A Forty Year Kiss by Nickolas Butler

A Forty Year Kiss by Nickolas Butler is a passionate, emotionally complex love story that probes tender places within the heart and soul. When 60-somethings Charlie and Vivian--married then divorced in their 20s--reunite after four decades, they are swept up by the very best of what their romantic relationship once offered. "Anyone who has ever thought about what might have been will find this book fascinating," says Shana Drehs, senior editorial director at Sourcebooks Landmark. "The story is a brilliant exploration of a second chance at love, always realistic but never saccharine." As Charlie and Vivian build a bridge from past to present, their enduring love paving over potholes, Butler (Shotgun Lovesongs) raises questions about how life changes people--or does it?--and delivers another heartening, unforgettable novel. --Kathleen Gerard, blogger at Reading Between the Lines

(Sourcebooks Landmark, $27.99 Hardcover, 9781464221248, 
February 4, 2025)


Shelf vetted, publisher supported


Image of the Day: Binc Field Trip

Binc's board of directors met last week for its annual in-person board meeting and visited Literati Bookstore in Ann Arbor, Mich. Pictured: (l.-r.) Matthew Gildea, Ken White, Mary Richards, Sarah Bagby, Annie Philbrick, Eileen Dengler, Christie Roehl, Lori Tucker-Sullivan, Jen Reynolds, Kate McCune, Julia Cowlishaw, Calvin Crosby, Chuck Robinson. Board member Rockelle Henderson is not pictured.

SIBA Bookseller Interview: Nicole Yasinsky

The Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance interviewed Nicole Yasinsky, marketing manager at novel. in Memphis, Tenn. Among our favorite exchanges:

Nicole Yasinsky

Best part about being a bookseller?
Putting books in people's hands, of course! There is nothing quite like finding the perfect book at the perfect time for a person--there are so many variables, and it seems so unlikely, but this is what indie booksellers do all day, every day. I keep an old Candlewick mug on my desk at all times that has a quote from Kate DiCamillo at the 2010 Indies Choice Awards: "We forget that the simple gesture of putting a book in someone's hands can change a life. I want to remind you that it can. I want to thank you because it did."

Do you have passions that carry over into your bookselling life?
Well, since I haven't quite found a way to work my love of musicals into my bookselling life yet (but just WAIT until I write my musical about Indies v. Amazon!), I think that my passion  for my city has played a huge role in my decision to work in indie bookstores here. It was definitely key in my dedication to helping create a new bookstore, truly and finally locally-owned here in Memphis. While our owner was liquidating our previous store (The Booksellers at Laurelwood), the community was heartbroken, and asking how they could help, and what could be done--and after quite a bit of blood, sweat and tears, we were able to put numbers together and find a group of investors (they were all our customers, y'all--they are the ones who really came through for us!), who placed their faith in our seasoned staff and trusted us to open a brand new bookstore for Memphis--and here we are!

Cool Idea of the Day: 'Mini Bookstore' for Kids

Posted on Facebook by Books & Mortar Bookstore, Grand Rapids, Mich.: "We opened a 'mini bookstore' for a Congress Elementary class at Williams Group yesterday! Students received fake money to 'purchase books' that were actually paid for by the company. How cool is that?! We feel so honored to be a part of this kind of community building."

Personnel Changes at Hachette; Ingram

Hachette Book Group has made a series of promotions in its sales organization:

In wholesale sales: Julie Hernandez is promoted to senior director, wholesale sales. She was previously director, wholesale sales. Heidi Kanter is promoted to senior national accounts manager. She was previously national accounts manager. Laura Shepherd is promoted to senior national accounts manager. She was previously national accounts manager.

In mass merchant sales: Tracy Dowd is promoted to senior director of club and airport sales. She was previously director of club sales. Tishana Knight is promoted to sales manager, mass merchants. She was previously sales manager, national accounts. John Lefler is promoted to national account manager. He was previously a telephone sales rep.

In field sales: John Leary is promoted to regional director, field sales. He was previously senior sales representative.

In account marketing: John Byron, III is promoted to sales promotion manager. He was previously senior promotions coordinator.

In children's sales: Katie Tucker is promoted to senior national accounts manager. She was previously children's national accounts manager.

In Nashville/CBA sales: David Chaudhry is promoted to national accounts manager. He was previously regional sales manager. Linda Pearles is promoted to national accounts manager. She was previously senior sales representative.

In sales operations: Jill Reschop-Gonzalez is promoted to associate director, sales operations. She was previously senior sales analyst.

In Canada: Leah Collins Lipsett is promoted to marketing coordinator, HBG Canada. She was previously marketing assistant.

In special markets: Frankie Johnson is promoted to manager, specialty retail. She was previously special sales manager.

In addition: Ali Cutrone is promoted to senior director, online sales and sales liaison for Grand CentraI Publishing. She was previously Director of Online Sales and Sales Liaison. Mary Urban is promoted to senior digital account manager. She was previously digital account manager. Claire Gamble is promoted to national account manager. She was previously associate national account manager.


At Ingram Content Group:

Sterling Crawford has been promoted to project manager, integration and outsource in the LaVergne, Tenn., office, and will be in charge of overseeing relationships with third party print vendors with Ingram's Lightning Source as well as leading process improvement projects.

Matt Mullin has been promoted to senior key account sales manager in the New York office, working with large, non-distributed publisher clients in trade and academic areas for print and digital services.

Georgina Walpole has been promoted to channel sales manager in the Milton Keynes, England, office, and will be responsible for new publisher and channel acquisition, commercial management of existing channels and publisher management for NBNi.

Ann Zangri has been promoted to senior manager, marketing services in the La Vergne, Tenn., office. She will oversee marketing efforts for distribution divisions, including Consortium, Ingram Academic, Ingram Publisher Services, Publishers Group West, and Two Rivers Distribution.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Michael Pollan on Fresh Air

Fresh Air: Michael Pollan, author of How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence (Penguin Books, $18, 9780735224155).

Good Morning America: Elizabeth Karmel, author of Steak and Cake: More Than 100 Recipes to Make Any Meal A Smash Hit (Workman, $22.95, 9780761185741).

Movies: Hello, Universe; Time After Time

Netflix will adapt Erin Entrada Kelly's Newbery Award-winning novel Hello, Universe into a family film. Deadline reported that playwright and screenwriter Michael Golamco (Always Be My Maybe) is adapting the book, while Forest Whitaker and Nina Yang Bongiovi of Significant Productions are producing.


Roth/Kirschenbaum Films has acquired rights to Lisa Grunwald's upcoming novel Time After Time, and Lauren Oliver (Before I Fall) "will script it as a starring vehicle for Glen Powell, who played John Glenn in Hidden Figures," Deadline reported. Joe Roth and Jeff Kirschenbaum will produce. Random House publishes the novel next month.

"Joe and I have been looking for an epic romance to produce, and we believe we've found it with Time After Time," said Kirschenbaum. "It's part The Notebook, part Ghost and it has all the makings of a classic."

Books & Authors

Awards: Forward Poetry Shortlist

Finalists have been named for the £10,000 (about $12,665) Forward Prize for Poetry and the £5,000 (about $6,335) Felix Dennis Prize for Best First Collection. Winners will be announced October 20 in London. This year's shortlisted books are:

Best collection
City of Departures by Helen Tookey
Deaf Republic by Ilya Kaminsky
The Million-petalled Flower of Being Here by Vidyan Ravinthiran
Noctuary by Niall Campbell
Vertigo & Ghost by Fiona Benson

First collection
If All the World and Love Were Young by Stephen Sexton
The Perseverance by Raymond Antrobus
Significant Other by Isabel Galleymore
Surge by Jay Bernard
Truth Street by David Cain

Reading with... Rudy Rucker

Rudy Rucker is a writer and a mathematician who worked for 20 years as a Silicon Valley computer science professor. He received the Philip K. Dick award twice, and his 40 published books include novels as well as nonfiction books on the fourth dimension, infinity and the meaning of computation. Rucker's new book, Million Mile Road Trip (Night Shade Books, May 7, 2019), is a phantasmagoric roller-coaster ride--smart and wildly funny, with a warmly beating heart. He lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.

On your nightstand now:

I just finished John McPhee's old geology book, Assembling California. In these times it's soothing to realize there's a deep history running across hundreds of millions of years. Right now, I'm reading Luis Alberto Urrea, The House of Broken Angels. It's such a great view of Mexican American culture, with funny scenes, wisecracks and tear-jerking moments. Charlie Jane Anders's The City in the Middle of the Night is next on my reading list. I never know what she'll do.

Favorite book when you were a child:

I loved the world of C.S. Lewis's Narnia books. And Beverly Cleary's books. And a picture book by Robert Lawson, McWhinney's Jaunt--about a professor who rides across the country on a flying bicycle, held aloft by "Z gas" in its tires. I read all the Robert Heinlein novels, and especially liked Revolt in 2100 and Tunnel in the Sky. I was a huge fan of the SF master Robert Sheckley's Untouched by Human Hands. And when I was 14, I got hold of the Beat author William Burroughs's Naked Lunch, which I found on my big brother's bookshelf. Burroughs showed me that you can write about anything at all.

Your top five authors:

How about Flannery O'Connor, for her quirky, colorful tales in A Good Man Is Hard to Find. Getting into SF, Charles Stross's Accelerando is a feast, an extravaganza and one of the most important novels of the 21st century thus far. Cory Doctorow's Walkaway is a revelation, a deeply imagined design for a new society. Annalee Newitz's Autonomous pops open the cyberpuzzle of who the robots, androids and humans are. Christopher Brown's Tropic of Kansas is the most radical novel I've seen in years. A call to arms. And while I'm at it, a shout-out for Ursula Le Guin and The Left Hand of Darkness. So heavy, so eye-opening, so hypnotic.

Book you've faked reading:

The philosopher G.W.F. Hegel is my great-great-great-grandfather. And I'm very interested in philosophy. But somehow I've never managed to get through the epic The Phenomenology of Mind. But I have read enough of his extensive preface to refer to it now and then.

Book you're an evangelist for:

I really love William J. Craddock's autobiographical novel from 1970, Be Not Content. It's about the early days of the psychedelic revolution, and it's deep and funny. When Craddock wrote his book, none of our notions about the '60s had been laid down and fossilized. The novel is wonderfully fresh. By 2012, it had been out of print for over 40 years, and used copies were insanely expensive. So I took it upon myself to republish it. I formed my own Transreal Press, got permission from Craddock's widow, and set about learning how to self-publish paperbacks and e-books--a useful skill. I've also published a few of my own works via Transreal Press, but Be Not Content remains the best seller.

Book you've bought for the cover:

A record album whose cover pulled me in was R. Crumb's cover for Cheap Thrills by Big Brother and the Holding Company, featuring Janis Joplin. And soon after that came a book with an equally alluring cover, R. Crumb's Head Comix. His mind-warps and humor definitely had some influence on my fiction.

Book you hid from your parents:

I grew up in Kentucky, and in the University of Louisville bookstore I found a text on types of mental illness. As a budding young author, I had to consider the option of going mad as an early career move. I got the book, and I'd look through it to find symptoms that I might be having, or that I might be able to convince myself that I had. It drove my parents nuts to see me do that. As if I weren't already enough trouble!

Book that changed your life:

David Foster Wallace's novel Infinite Jest. I read it when it came out, in 1996. I skipped most of the stuff about tennis and focused on the parts about the characters who were in recovery from drug and alcohol problems. Very funny, warped and colloquial writing. I was almost 50 years old, and I was realizing that I needed to clean up my own lifestyle. It was inspiring to read about the people in Infinite Jest. They made sobriety seem feasible.

Favorite line from a book:

It's hard to top William Burroughs, although I can't vouch for my textual accuracy. In one of his books, a native lad tells the explorer protagonist. "You win something like jellyfish, mister. Or it win you." Soon after that, our hero is covered with a slimy mollusc-like substance, and the boy tells the man, "Skin like that very hot for two, three days. Then... wearing the happy cloak!" Burroughs was definitely an influence on my science fiction. Indeed, in my cyberpunk Ware Tetralogy, I even have some symbiotic creatures called happy cloaks. You wear them over your shoulders, and they poke fangs into your spine through the nape of your neck. But they're your friends, and you like them.

Oh, and speaking of great lines, how about James Joyce's description of the night sky in Ulysses: "The heaventree of stars hung with humid nightblue fruit."

Five books you'll never part with:

Oh, let's just do one. A fat one. Thomas Pynchon's Gravity's Rainbow. I reread it every five or 10 years, reveling once again in the man's wit and the richness of his prose. I've persistently been trying to write like Pynchon over the course of my 23 novels, and in Million Mile Road Trip, I think I finally got close.

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

A volume of stories by Jorge Luis Borges. Labyrinths, say, or Collected Fictions. When I first read Borges, I was stunned at the richness of the trove.

Books you'd still like to write:

Before I write a novel, I need an idea for something odd that I want to see happening. One thing on my mind lately has been telepathy--I call it teep. I could write about a teep biz startup. And I see a way to make it new.

Book Review

Review: The Most Fun We Ever Had

The Most Fun We Ever Had by Claire Lombardo (Doubleday, $28.95 hardcover, 544p., 9780385544252, June 25, 2019)

Claire Lombardo debuts with a sprawling drama that explores the maelstrom of love, resentment and tension of the nuclear family, and the ways in which a shared history can affect the future for years.

When Marilyn Sorenson, exhausted by raising two babies nine months apart in age, gives a patently untrue reply to a question about motherhood, it instantly becomes one more inside joke she shares with her husband, David. "They would repeat it for years to come in times of strife: the most fun I've ever had." The joke follows the Sorensons from 1980 to 2016, the year in which their four adult daughters wreak havoc on their peace of mind in a whirlwind of existential crises, relationship drama and long-buried secrets.

Violet, the eldest daughter, has her life in perfect order after leaving a successful law career to raise her two small sons. Second-born Wendy, widowed young and drowning her pain in booze, weed and younger men, upsets the apple cart when she reconnects with Violet's teenage son, Jonah, the product of a secret teen pregnancy that ended in a closed adoption. Middle child Liza is pregnant and dreads caring for both a baby and her chronically depressed partner at the same time. Youngest daughter Grace accidentally gave the family the impression she got into law school when she's actually working a dead-end job and unsure how to dig herself out of the lie. As fissures in the family open, close and shift, David and Marilyn look back on their legendary marriage and the joy and heartache inherent in loving the same person for decades.

Lombardo has a deft hand with metaphor, pulling off the inclusion of a literal family tree--a venerable but diseased gingko--with neither camp nor irony. She also has a knack for encapsulating universal relationship truths in single clear-eyed sentences, as when she describes the situation of "one party consumed with worry so the other could sleep through the night" as a life-saving aspect of marriage. However, she does not limit this decades-spanning story to cerebral observations but shows the mess humans make of love through infidelity both physical and emotional, unfair judgments and the fear of sharing oneself.

While at times the Sorenson clan falls prey to bemoaning first-world problems, at heart they desire the same closeness and support any human being needs, ultimately waiting for them right where it always was--at home. Covering 40 years of Sorenson family strengths and foibles, The Most Fun We Ever Had is a classy but juicy read that always has one more surprise up its sleeve. --Jaclyn Fulwood, blogger at Infinite Reads

Shelf Talker: In this ambitious debut novel, four adult sisters and their famously in-love parents unravel decades of family history when a secret from the past resurfaces.

Deeper Understanding

Robert Gray: 1969 ABA Convention--4 Days of Peace & Books

They don't make time machines like they used to; these new self-driving models still have some glitches. For example, last week I traveled back to the 1919 American Booksellers Association Convention, but when I tried to return to present tense I was suddenly rerouted to the convention held 50 years ago. What else could I do? I checked it out.

Yes, that 1969. You know the high- and low-lights, including the fact that the Woodstock Music and Art Fair would be held in upstate New York just a couple of months after a very different gathering of the clans took place in Washington, D.C.

"Three thousand booksellers, publishers, authors and book critics from several countries were in attendance today as the 69th annual convention of the American Booksellers Association opened in the Shoreham hotel," Robert Cromie wrote in the June 2 edition of the Chicago Tribune, adding that the event "provides a series of seminars, press conferences with authors, and a valuable preview, for the nation's sellers of books, of new titles which will be available for the Christmas trade." 

The first day's program featured a reception for the "first-timers" attending, and Dell Publishing hosted a wine-tasting party "at which excerpts were shown from the new Secret of Santa Vittoria motion picture made by Stanley Kramer from Robert Crichton's bestselling book.... The formal program, which is augmented by dozens of receptions and cocktail parties given by publishers to woo booksellers and show off visiting authors, will end Wednesday evening with a dinner dance at which the speaker will be Rod McKuen, musician, composer and poet."

The ABA "tried every trick from the Plant Lady of Television to Marshall McLuhan, but it could not disguise the fact that the soul of its convention at the Shoreham this week is the trade exhibits," the Washington Post reported. "The books world has been described as tweedy and diffident, but the group that circulated through the hall filling shopping bags with assorted giveaways was strictly narrow-lapel and breezy."

Looking for celebrity authors? Tiny Tim (I can’t possibly explain this phenomenon; see video evidence) "did a brief interview and then went right down the hall where all the booths were and spent the day signing autographs. People lined up halfway around the room to see him in the Doubleday exhibit," the Post wrote, adding: "Exhibits relied heavily on closed-circuit TV, slides and other audio-visual aids, including a TV cartoon called Dr. Grosslap, a booth built into an airline counter with uniformed salespeople, latest books listed as 'Arrivals' on the readerboard and a felt banner announcing something called a Bookazine."

Marshall McLuhan, the "prophet of the electronic age" touting his upcoming book, From Cliché to Archetype, was one of the Book and Author Luncheon speakers. The Boston Globe reported that he told his audience "the publishing business is tragically behind in the matter of research into the reading habits of the television generation. He warned them that the printed word is the cornerstone of civilization, its only cause, and that they have a mission to maintain its dominance."

"Children of the television age read best when the page is 4.6 inches away from their eyes, which makes the average book useless to the television child," he observed, adding that the book trade seemed to be doing nothing to understand the situation or to get itself off "the hardware hook" and evaluate the significance of "soft-ware" like Xeroxing.

McLuhan also said "the book is a very special form of communication" that "will persist," but the New York Times noted that his "comments came as a surprise to some listeners.... As author and as lecturer, he is usually associated with new trends in the communications media and as an exponent of television."

"The United States is the only country founded on literacy--on the Gutenberg press," he added. "Therefore, it is having the hardest time adapting to the electronic age."

The chaotic nature of 1969 hadn't quite registered with Rutgers University president Dr. Mason W. Gross, who in a keynote that could have been delivered in 1919, contended that "an obligation to maintain the precision of the English language rests with booksellers and others who distribute books, and he decried a trend toward using words inappropriately and in improper fashion," the Times wrote.

On more contemporary ground was speaker Theodore C. Sorensen, former special counsel to President John F. Kennedy and author of the upcoming book, The Kennedy Legacy. Warning that freedom of expression in the U.S. was under attack, he "said he was concerned 'lest McCarthyism in some new and insidious form return to weaken this country's values,' and charged the book industry with a special obligation to protect the right of free speech," the Times reported.

"Freedom of expression in America--particularly on our college campuses--is under increasing pressure from the New Left and the Old Right.... It will be all too easy for the voices of reason to give way to the voices of Reagan and Marcuse," he argued, noting that a special responsibility to reverse this trend rested with those who sell and publish books "before it spreads to your own profession."

My balky self-driving time machine grudgingly returned to 2019, and now I'm looking toward the more immediate future of BookExpo in New York next week. The distant future? My time machine is still a little skittish about that ("Books? Yes, we have books.").

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

Letter to the Editor: 1919 ABA Convention

John Evans, co-owner of DIESEL, A Bookstore in Brentwood, Calif., responded to Robert Gray's recent Shelf Awareness column, "Preparing for the 1919 ABA Convention," with a quite suitable Letter to the Editor in early 20th-century epistolary style:

Dearest Sir,

I greatly appreciate the piece most recently published in the estimable Shelf Awareness. It was fascinating look back at a century-ago event so paralleling our current time. As with the best backwards-looking it is also a forward-looking article. Not to fall prey to the temptations of an idea, nay ideology, such as Progress which has so long deluded our nation and our society, I am nonetheless encouraged to hope that real positive change could come of this foray into longtime structural limits to the success of bookshops throughout the country.

The century-old arguments for diversity of booksellers, their active intelligences, and passionate commitments to their communities are supplemented by an understanding that the economics of the industry must address the risks to the essential services bookstores provide. One prays that the publishers of our time heed both the lessons of the past and the increasingly vocal booksellers of the present's call for a more equitable distribution of the profits within the business. A call for corrections in the wasteful misuse of industry resources toward those new-fangled online retailers with no devotion to the cultural mission of the book industry as a whole is echoed in the appeals of 1919 for a rational approach to the necessity of bookstores, large and small, in neighborhoods, towns and cities throughout the land.

Thank you for your thoughtful presentation of past thinking and the promise of reasonable considerations for the present, so that all aspects of the book world can further their social utility while protecting the success, especially of that most vital part--the bookstore.

Respectfully Yours,

John Evans
DIESEL, A Bookstore

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