Shelf Awareness for Friday, September 20, 2019

Simon & Schuster: Fall Cooking With Simon Element

Ace Books: Dungeon Crawler Carl by Matt Dinniman

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers: The Millicent Quibb School of Etiquette for Young Ladies of Mad Science by Kate McKinnon

Annick Press: Bog Myrtle by Sid Sharp

Minotaur Books: Betrayal at Blackthorn Park: A Mystery (Evelyne Redfern #2) by Julia Kelly

Tor Books: Blood of the Old Kings by Sung-Il Kim, Translated by Anton Hur

Del Rey Books: The Book of Elsewhere by Keeanu Reeves and China Miéville


BookBar's Sullivan Turning Vintage Gas Station into BookGive Headquarters

Former Regis 66 owner/mechanic Alan Thielen with BookBar's Nicole Sullivan.

Nicole Sullivan, owner of BookBar in Denver, Colo., has purchased a vintage gas station that she'll turn into the BookGive Service Station, the headquarters for BookBar's nonprofit arm that distributes books to schools, food banks and a variety of other organizations.

"It's going to operate much like a food bank, but for books," said Sullivan. "Not only can it be a drop-off and pick-up location, but it'll be a community space as well."

The gas station, which was built in 1944 and was owned by the same family since 1970, encompasses around 1,400 sq. ft. of garage and office space. Sullivan plans to use much of the space for receiving and storing donated books for BookGive, and the station will also house BookBar's bookmobile. She added that renovations will be light, consisting mostly of "a good power-wash and paint," and she intends to have it open sometime in the fall.

"From the day we started taking donations, we've just been collecting books in store," explained Sullivan. She and her colleagues quickly ran out of storage space in the store, and it was "time to either stop taking in donations, or to expand the program."

Sullivan said she spent a couple of years looking for warehouse space in the Denver area, but found it surprisingly hard to come by. Many warehouses have been turned into growhouses for Colorado's cannabis industry, lowering availability and causing prices to soar. Her realtor eventually suggested looking at gas stations, and Sullivan found it to be the perfect solution.

BookGive has its origins in the Northwest Denver Book Exchange, a yearly community event that Sullivan created in 2009 to provide a space for community members to swap books with each other. Since the beginning, Sullivan has donated all books left over from the Book Exchange to charity. Over the years, the donations became larger and the process more organized and, in 2018, Sullivan officially founded BookGive as a nonprofit.

Looking ahead, Sullivan said she plans to stock some books at the BookGive Service Station as part of a pay-what-you-can store, with all proceeds going to donations. She's thinking of hosting BYOBB (bring your own books and booze) community nights at the Service Station and noted that there is a brewery right across the street. For staffing, Sullivan will rely on volunteers, and said she's already gotten plenty of offers from students at Regis University, which is a few blocks away.

In addition, she's creating a board of directors for the organization and she hopes to do more direct tie-ins with BookBar, such as offering BookBar customers the option to round up their purchases to the nearest dollar and donate the extra  to BookGive. Also in the works is a VIP--Valuable Indie Patron--program where customers pay an annual membership for a variety of benefits, and all of the membership fee goes to BookGive. 

Sullivan reported that she was "really excited" for the new venture and the chance to further expand BookGive. She said: "There are so many opportunities here." --Alex Mutter

G.P. Putnam's Sons: William by Mason Coile

Second Home's Libreria Bookshop Opens in East Hollywood

On September 3, workspace company Second Home opened a new bookstore on its Hollywood, Calif., campus called Libreria. The 186-square-foot store is a sister store to Second Home's Libreria bookshop in East London and carries an eclectic selection of books grouped not by genre but in a variety of unusual categories.

To open and manage the store, Second Home hired Katie Orphan, a veteran bookseller who most recently managed The Last Bookstore in downtown Los Angeles and was there for a total of 10 years. After leaving her previous job in June, Orphan spent the summer building Libreria's inventory and planning for the opening.

Katie Orphan

"The key thing that will really set us apart will be the organization," Orphan said. The unusual categories are designed to "facilitate connections" and allow shoppers to "draw connections between books you might not otherwise have drawn connections between."

She reported that two of the earliest categories she had locked in for the store were "Wanderlust" and "Dreamers & Junkies." Since then, she's added many more to the mix, including "World on Fire," "Fight or Flight," "Level Up" and "Unhappy Families." Anything that fits those themes, whether it be fiction, a biography or a travel book, can be included, and the categories run horizontally across shelves, rather than vertically.

In terms of what sorts of titles might make their way into those categories, Orphan said she plans to focus on work by Los Angeles authors, as well as authors from underrepresented groups, such as writers of color and queer writers, along with some international literature and literature in translation. On the subject of sidelines and non-book items, Orphan doesn't intend to carry very much aside from things like journals and pens.

Orphan explained that the unusual themes and shelving is representative of the "broader ethos" of Second Home, which puts a variety of different businesses under one roof in order to help people connect, bounce ideas off of each other and draw inspiration from different disciplines. The campus, she said, has a maximum capacity of around 1,500 people, with the company expecting to see about 1,000 people on campus each day. And while the Second Home campus encompasses some 90,000 square feet of interconnected "garden studios," the bookshop resides in the lobby of a completely renovated historic building that serves as the facility's entrance and centerpiece.

With most of the store's clientele being people who work on the Second Home campus, the store is only open until around 5 p.m., though that may change in the future. Looking ahead, Orphan hopes to make inroads with the surrounding East Hollywood community and make Libreria a neighborhood destination.

"I do think the bulk of the people who come in will be people who work on the campus, but I'm really hoping that our neighbors come to discover us," said Orphan. While doing her initial buy and prepping for the opening, Orphan said she thought a lot about who works on the campus, but she was also "never unaware of the neighborhood we're in and Los Angeles as a whole."

When asked about events, Orphan said the Second Home campus actually has its own, separate events coordinator and an auditorium with around 200 seats. Large-scale events are booked and organized by that coordinator while Orphan handles book sales. The first such event, a talk and signing with Antoni Porowski of Queer Eye, took place yesterday.

Orphan does, however, run a variety of smaller events, including book clubs and writing workshops, which are scheduled in the middle of the day so Second Home clients can attend while on their lunch break. The inaugural book club pick is Margaret Atwood's The Testaments, and the first meeting is set for September 30.

"I'm excited to be building another store from the ground up," reflected Orphan. "I wanted something new, and I wasn't sure what that new thing would be. But I was happy to find something where I'm still in bookselling, because I really love selling books." --Alex Mutter

Harpervia: The Alaska Sanders Affair by Joël Dicker, Translated by Robert Bononno

Roy M. Carlisle to Head Transpersonal Publications

The Institute of Transpersonal Psychology Foundation has launched Transpersonal Publications, a publishing house to serve the mental health, psychotherapy and research communities. It aims for a multidisciplinary pursuit of transpersonal studies through innovative research to tackle the most challenging contemporary issues of modern living and global concerns.

Roy M. Carlisle

Roy M. Carlisle has been named publishing director of Transpersonal Publications and will develop and implement the Foundation's publications strategy for new books and a scholarly journal. The Foundation said that "the combination of his graduate work in theology and psychology, and his more than 40 years of experience as an executive in the trade and scholarly book publishing industry, have prepared him well for achieving success in this new position."

Carlisle holds an M.A. from Fuller Seminary, has studied counseling psychology at Santa Clara University, and has been a senior editor at HarperCollins, co-owner & editorial director at Wildcat Canyon Press/PageMill Press, and a senior editorial consultant at the Crossroad Publishing Company.

The Institute of Transpersonal Psychology Foundation was established in 1975 as the first graduate school and research center to focus on transpersonal psychology. It has helped launch such fields as mind-body medicine, positive psychology, and consciousness studies, health and healing.

Amazon Co-founds 'The Climate Pledge'

Yesterday, Amazon and Global Optimism unveiled the Climate Pledge, which calls on signatories to be net-zero carbon across their businesses by 2040, a decade ahead of the Paris Accord's goal of 2050. The announcement came just a day before a planned walkout-- part of the larger Global Climate Strike today--by more than 1,000 Amazon employees to protest the company's track record on environmental responsibility.

"We're done being in the middle of the herd on this issue—we've decided to use our size and scale to make a difference," said Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. "If a company with as much physical infrastructure as Amazon--which delivers more than 10 billion items a year--can meet the Paris Agreement 10 years early, then any company can. I've been talking with other CEOs of global companies, and I'm finding a lot of interest in joining the pledge. Large companies signing the Climate Pledge will send an important signal to the market that it's time to invest in the products and services the signatories will need to meet their commitments."

As part of its commitment, Amazon will order 100,000 electric delivery vehicles from Rivian, a producer of emissions-free electric vehicles in which Amazon had previously invested $440 million to help accelerate production of the vehicles. Amazon said it plans to have 10,000 of the new electric vehicles on the road as early as 2022 and all 100,000 vehicles on the road by 2030. The company is also donating $100 million to reforestation efforts and launching a new sustainability website to report on its commitments and performance."

Bruno Sarda, president of the Carbon Disclosure Project North America, told the Washington Post the new Climate Pledge that Amazon agreed to is "unnecessary," given that carbon-reporting standards already exist. "It fails the test of accountability and transparency," he said.

Obituary Note: Jane Mead

Jane Mead, poet and a co-owner of Prairie Lights bookstore in Iowa City, Iowa, died September 8, the Napa Valley Register reported. She was 61. Mead was the author of five books of poetry and a chapbook, all of which were collected in To the Wren: Collected and New Poems 1991-2019, published in August by Alice James Books.

In a tribute, Alice James wrote: "We are deeply saddened by the passing of our dear Jane Mead. Her life was all too brief, and already we feel the loss of her presence among us acutely. What Jane gave us was an extraordinary gift. Her work expanded our poetic philosophy, as she sought to write within, around, and into the certainty of uncertainty, the mystery of our being and our relationship to the natural world. She demonstrated a careful and abiding love for the land and its creatures in her life and work. Her poetry transformed the landscape of American letters, exemplifying what the very best of our craft could achieve.

"A private soul and one known to delight as much in solitude as time spent with dear friends, we see the way Mead's quiet tenacity influences and shapes our desires for living a life of observation, contemplation, and sincerity.... We miss her greatly. We love her dearly. We are utterly changed by her always. Thank you, Jane."

Mead's books include The Lord and the General Din of the World (1996), The House of Poured-Out Waters (2001), The Usable Field (2008), Money Money Money Water Water Water (2014), and World of Made and Unmade (2016).

"An ardent advocate for the writing and reading life," Mead was also co-owner, along with poet Jan Weissmiller, of Prairie Lights, which celebrated its 40th birthday recently, the Register noted.

"Jane Mead's indelible poems will always be with us," the bookshop posted on Facebook.

From her poem "The Origin":

Twice I have walked through this life--

once for nothing, once
for facts: fairy-shrimp in the vernal pool--
glassy-winged sharp-shooter

on the failing vines. Count me--
among the animals, their small
committed calls.--

Count me among
the living. My greatest desire--
to exist in a physical world.



Image of the Day: Kepler's, Climate Strike & Klein

Staffers from Kepler's Books, Menlo Park, Calif., gathered around the (climate) fire. In honor of today's student-led Global Climate Strike, the store is offering students 300 free tickets to its September 27 event with Naomi Klein for On Fire: The (Burning) Case for a Green New Deal (Simon & Schuster). The store said, "Climate change poses an urgent threat and we are excited to see young people like Greta Thunberg mobilizing all over the world to help us tackle this unprecedented challenge. As part of our mission to engage our community, we are offering these free tickets to welcome local students to participate in a constructive and action-oriented evening."

Publisher Intern of the Year: PRH's Penguin

"A real penguin 'interned' at our book distribution center! Thanks to @MarylandZoo for letting us borrow one of their animal ambassadors," Penguin Random House tweeted yesterday, adding: "As part of the collaboration w/ @MarylandZoo, @penguinrandom is donating to their conservation efforts to protect African penguin habitats. The African penguin population has declined by 90% in the last 100 years. Join in."

During the summer, PRH's distribution center in Westminster, Md., welcomed two penguins and filmed "their (safely monitored) adventures as part of a video project spearheaded by the Consumer Marketing Video team. The concept: A penguin's internship at Penguin Random House."

"We were originally thinking of bringing penguins to our New York office, since our team is based here, and releasing it in time for World Penguin Day back in April," said John Clinton, v-p and director of digital video. "But we quickly ran into two issues: 1) Ironically, penguins are not allowed in the building, 2) Do penguin actors even exist? If so, where could we possibly find them?"

After researching the possibilities, an answer emerged. The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore maintains the largest colony of African penguins in North America, and has a small group of "penguin ambassadors" that travel outside of the zoo for school, media and educational appearances.

"Putting this together at the PRH distribution center seemed like a natural fit--not only had we worked with the fantastic team in Westminster before, but the zoo was also only a short drive away," Clinton said. "We pitched the idea to both groups and they loved it.... They're amazing animals, and an endangered species! My hope for the video is trifold--1) Showcase our distribution center and the PRH brand 2) Raise penguin awareness, and 3) Bring some fun to our readers."

Display of the Day: Titcomb's Bookshop

To celebrate today's highly anticipated release of the film version of Downton Abbey, Titcomb's Bookshop, East Sandwich, Mass., shared a photo on Facebook of its display, noting: "If you're in the DA mood, we can suggest some lovely titles set in the same time period to hold you over before the movie releases on Friday!!"

Mountaineers Books to Fulfill Green Trails Maps

Effective October 1, Mountaineers Books will handle fulfillment for Green Trails Maps, the backcountry map maker and publisher. Green Trails Maps's more than 150 map titles will be available through all of Mountaineers Books' many marketing and sales channels and will continue to be available at more than 550 outdoor retailers in the West as well as online.

Alan Coburn, president and CEO of Green Trails Maps, and Gail Coburn, v-p for corporate strategy of Green Trails Maps, said: "As we approached retirement, we were looking for a robust partner with corporate values similar to ours to continue the stewardship [we] undertook over 25 years ago when we bought the company from founder, Walter Locke. Mountaineers Books' 60-year track record of growth for books is the logical place to hand over ongoing stewardship of the Green Trails 150-plus titles and brand. Bringing map and book publishers together makes a lot of sense, and we've been fans of Mountaineers and Mountaineers Books since coming to the Pacific Northwest in the early '70s."

Helen Cherullo, publisher of Mountaineers Books, said: "With our guidebooks and Green Trails Maps, we look forward to motivating more outdoor enthusiasts to get out on the trails--for adventure, as well as inspiring the next generation of stewards of our public lands."

Personnel Changes at Algonquin

At Algonquin Books and Algonquin Young Readers:

Stephanie Mendoza has joined as publicity manager. She was most recently a senior publicist at Atria/Simon & Schuster and began her career at Ecco/HarperCollins.

Kelly Doyle has been named publicity assistant.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Chanel Miller on 60 Minutes

NPR's All Things Considered: David Yoon, author of Frankly in Love (Putnam, $18.99, 9781984812209).


60 Minutes: Chanel Miller, author of Know My Name: A Memoir (Viking, $28, 9780735223707).

Movies: In the Tall Grass; Shrine

A trailer has been released for In the Tall Grass, "based on a lesser-known novella" by Stephen King and Joe Hill, IndieWire reported, adding that the first peek "promises a setup ripe with tension as well as strong performances from its small ensemble cast."

Directed by Vincenzo Natali (Cube), the project stars Patrick Wilson (Angels in America, Fargo), Harrison Gilbertson, Laysia De Oliveria, Avery Whitted, Will Bule Jr., and Rachel Wilson. Netflix will release In the Tall Grass on October 4. 


Jeffrey Dean Morgan (The Walking Dead, Supernatural) has landed the lead role in Screen Gems' film adaptation of James Herbert's horror novel Shrine, with Evan Spiliotopoulos adapting and directing, Deadline reported. Production will begin in February.

Books & Authors

Awards: NBA for Nonfiction Longlist; Cundill History Shortlist

The longlist for the 2019 National Book Award for Nonfiction consists of:

Go Ahead in the Rain: Notes to a Tribe Called Quest by Hanif Abdurraqib (University of Texas Press)
The Yellow House by Sarah M. Broom (Grove Press)
Thick: And Other Essays by Tressie McMillan Cottom (The New Press)
What You Have Heard Is True: A Memoir of Witness and Resistance by Carolyn Forché (Penguin)
The End of the Myth: From the Frontier to the Border Wall in the Mind of America by Greg Grandin (Metropolitan Books)
Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland by Patrick Radden Keefe (Doubleday)
Burn the Place: A Memoir by Iliana Regan (Agate Midway)
Race for Profit: How Banks and the Real Estate Industry Undermined Black Homeownership by Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor (The University of North Carolina Press)
The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee: Native America from 1890 to the Present by David Treuer (Riverhead)
Solitary by Albert Woodfox, with Leslie George (Grove Press)

Finalists will be unveiled on October 8, and the winners announced at the National Book Awards Ceremony and Benefit Dinner on November 20 in New York City.


A shortlist has been unveiled for the $75,000 Cundill History Prize, administered by McGill University in Montreal. Three finalists will be announced October 16, with the winner named November 14. The two runners-up each receive $10,000. This year's shortlisted titles are:

Unruly Waters: How Rains, Rivers, Coasts, and Seas Have Shaped Asia’s History by Sunil Amrith
Orphans of Empire: The Fate of London’s Foundlings by Helen Berry
Frederick Douglass: American Prophet by David Blight
Reckonings: Legacies of Nazi Persecution and the Quest for Justice by Mary Fulbrook
A Fistful of Shells: West Africa from the Rise of the Slave Trade to the Age of Revolution by Toby Green
American Eden: David Hosack, Botany, and Medicine in the Garden of the Early Republic by Victoria Johnson
These Truths: A History of the United States by Jill Lepore
Maoism: A Global History by Julia Lovell

Reading with... Keaton Patterson

A lifelong resident of Texas, Keaton Patterson began working at Houston's Brazos Bookstore in 2012, where he is now the lead buyer. When not reading or bookselling, he can be found spending time with his family, listening to records or going on about horses to whomever will listen.

On your nightstand now:

As a buyer, I'm almost always reading several upcoming titles at once from various sections you'll find at Brazos Bookstore. My stack includes (but is not limited to) the following:

A Fortune for Your Disaster by Hanif Abdurraqib
The Undying
by Anne Boyer
Big Wonderful Thing: A History of Texas
by Stephen Harrigan
by Jean-Baptiste del Amo, translated by Frank Wynne
An unpublished manuscript by Mark Haber, author of Reinhardt's Garden

Favorite book when you were a child:

My mom gave me Jack Prelutsky's Nightmares: Poems to Trouble Your Sleep when I was nine, and it had a profound effect on making me the reader I am today. Specifically, it was my first introduction to poetry and horror--both still lifelong obsessions of mine. And the illustrations are just to die for. Thirty years later, I still have that same copy. Only now it haunts my son's bookshelf.

Your top five authors:

Off the top of my head, I'll go with James McBride, Joy Williams, Greil Marcus, Henry Miller and Cormac McCarthy.

Book you've faked reading:

I b.s.'d my way through Les Misérables in junior high. Not because it's a bad book, but sometimes dense classics are thrust upon readers at far too young an age. Having kids read beyond their years is great and all, but you don't want to suck all the joy out of books, either.

Book you're an evangelist for:

The Son by Philipp Meyer is the quintessential Texas novel, in my opinion. I put it in the hands of everyone looking specifically for fiction about Texas or just a damn good book in general. It's an epic saga that really gets at the complex heart and history of my home state. It should have won the Pulitzer in 2014.

Book you've bought for the cover:

I have 11 different versions of Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus that I've bought almost exclusively by cover design. It's a special novel for me, an obsession really. It manages to resonate with a kind of universal humanity in myriad ways, while also being a groundbreaking work of literature. Not to mention it's just cool as hell.

Book you hid from your parents:

Sex by Madonna.

Book that changed your life:

Sex by Madonna.

Favorite line from a book:

"The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven." --Paradise Lost by John Milton

Five books you'll never part with:

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov
2666 by Roberto Bolaño
The Odyssey by Homer (either the Fitzgerald or Wilson translation)
Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison

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

I wish I could read Frankenstein before seeing any of the films.

Book Review

Review: Supernova Era

Supernova Era by Cixin Liu, trans. by Joel Martinsen (Tor, $27.99 hardcover, 352p., 9781250306036, October 22, 2019)

Newly translated from Chinese, this science fiction parable by Hugo winner Cixin Liu (The Three-Body Problem, Ball Lightning) imagines a world in which the children become the future much sooner than anyone anticipated.

The Earth's Common Era ends with the death of a faraway star. Its explosion turns the twilight bright as midday, makes human beings phosphoresce and leaves behind a new nebula. Despite the wonder in its wake, the Dead Star also wreaks havoc. Its radiation kills the cosmonauts aboard the Mir in a matter of hours, but the prognosis for life on Earth is more complicated. While children under 13 will survive the effects of the widespread radiation poisoning, their elders will not. Within one year, the Earth will be a planet of children. 

Around the world, governments hold various selection trials to choose Earth's new leaders. In Beijing, Specs, Huahua and Xiaomeng become the heirs apparent to China's government, even though they just graduated from middle school. Adults across the nation labor tirelessly to train their children as fighter pilots and childcare providers for the infant survivors, and they build a store of resources to sustain a new society the adults envision as identical to their own.

When the changeover of power occurs, though, the children of China are more interested in turning part of their country into a giant amusement park than in re-creating the old world order. As the three teen leaders struggle to corral a nation of first panicked and then defiant younger children, bigger trouble brews across the sea in the United States, where unlimited access to weapons has spawned deadly games of soldiers.

Conceived as an allegory for the Chinese citizenry's reaction to a rapidly modernizing society, Liu's post-apocalyptic vision is written as a semi-fictionalized historical account. Because of this structure, character development takes a backseat to sometimes didactic overviews of geopolitical events. However, Liu shows real mastery of his concept, from the children's stages of grief and wonder to their inevitable human desire to conquer. He also orchestrates the evolution of the youth-led countries and the global political scene believably, channeling all the ambition, self-centeredness and happy, dangerous ignorance of childhood.

The U.S. plays the closest role to villain, and the imperialist attitudes, rampant gun problems and divisive leaders portrayed in the story seem to satirize current events. However, Liu wrote Supernova Era in 1989, a surprising bit of trivia considering how well he anticipated digital technology's development. With Martinsen's translation, this audacious and ultimately optimistic early work will give Liu's English-reading fans a glimpse at his evolution as a writer and give any speculative fiction reader food for deep thought. --Jaclyn Fulwood, blogger at Infinite Reads

Shelf Talker: When a star eight light years away goes supernova, the radiation kills Earth's adult population and leaves its children to start a world of their own.

Deeper Understanding

Robert Gray: 'Book 'em, Danno!'

Last week, Chex Mix tweeted a pic of its product scattered across the pages of an open book and wrote: "Don't have a bookmark? Try using Chex Mix instead."

Twitter being Twitter, the response was instantaneous, ranging from corporate copycats (Oreo, Vitaminwater, Little Debbie) to justifiably angry booksellers like the Strand in New York City ("Don't have a bookmark? Use literally ANYTHING BUT FOOD OR DRINK, YOU MONSTERS."); Raven Book Store, Lawrence, Kan. ("Don't have a bookmark? Ask your local indie bookstore because they'll probably give you one for free and don't you dare mash food inside a precious book you idiots."); and Porter Square Books, Cambridge, Mass. ("Please let us give you a free bookmark instead.").

When I noticed that a librarian had shared an older photo of a "meat-filled taco flattened in the center of the book, ringing the two adjacent pages with an awful cheese corona," I started pondering infinite variations on a theme of book-related crimes, including Amazon "showrooming" and the breaking news Monday about a box full of hard drugs that was accidentally sent to a Vancouver bookstore.

At Storysmith Books, Bristol, England

CSI Bookstore. "Book 'em, Danno" (apologies to later generations for the Hawaii Five-0 reference). Imagine some cynical, seasoned bookseller--a cross between Philip Marlowe and Harry Bosch--investigating bookstore crime scenes, though without the chalk body outlines or yellow caution tape (except for Banned Books Week displays).

The Palm Beach Daily News reported recently that Raptis Rare Books, whose inventory includes a 1632 Second Folio collection of the plays of William Shakespeare, has installed a high-tech security system designed by SelectaDNA and marketed in the U.S. by CSI Protect. An advanced forensic marking spray coats book thieves with a synthetic DNA-like material that police can use later to identify perpetrators and help build a case against them.

"We have had thefts. There's a reason why we're doing this. This is another level of protection for us," said owner Matthew Raptis, who already had security, including a network of cameras. Signs in the bookshop warn "DNA criminal tagging system in use to prevent theft." Maltis added: "Our whole focus is prevention. When potential thieves see it's in use here, they'll go elsewhere."

What about book dealers stealing from each other? I'm glad you asked.

Display at Chapters in Ontario (via)

In 1880, James T. Ford sold "a lot of fine books" to New York bookdealer Henry Miller. The American Bookseller reported that Ford "represented himself as a bookseller doing business at 13 North Fifth Street, Philadelphia." After a few more attempts, Miller's suspicions were triggered and eventually Ford was taken into custody. Miller observed that if his fellow booksellers, when they miss a lot of stock, "would immediately notify the trade in other cities, book stealing would soon become one of the lost arts."

This did not turn out to be the case. In 1969, Cy Rubin, president of Bookmasters, one of New York's biggest chains, told the New York Times that "at least 90% of our shoplifting losses either come from professionals who have been sent out by [fellow] dealers with specific orders to steal specific books or by professionals who know which dealers are in the market for which books.... The amateurs, they don't make much of a dent."

George A. Hecht, general manager of the Doubleday Bookshops, added: "I agree that unethical book-dealers who buy stolen goods are a very real problem for us. In a way, the dealer is a lot more dishonest than the thief. At least the thief has a real need for money."

Rubin said he knew other bookdealers were using pro thieves as a regular source of supply partly because "there was no other reason why a person would try to steal 10 or 12 copies at a time of a book like Portnoy's Complaint.... For example, we buy Portnoy's Complaint for about $4.17 and sell it for $6,95, a markup of $2.78. A dishonest dealer can pay the shoplifter $1.50 for the same book and have a markup of about $5.50."

While most booksellers don't have Shakespeare folio editions to protect, inventory "shrinkage" has always been a key challenge to the bottom line. So what's an honest bookseller to do? Expensive security systems? The theory is that ubiquitous buzzing gates near POS "keep honest people honest," but the bad guys are almost always a step ahead and will get their share. Alert staff? I have to admit that, for all my skills as a bookseller, I made a lousy shoplifting cop.

Perhaps a medieval book curse is your best option: "For him that stealeth, or borroweth and returneth not, this book from its owner, let it change into a serpent in his hand & rend him. Let him be struck with palsy & all his members blasted. Let him languish in pain crying aloud for mercy, & let there be no surcease to his agony till he sing in dissolution. Let bookworms gnaw his entrails in token of the Worm that dieth not, & when at last he goeth to his final punishment, let the flames of Hell consume him for ever." Book 'em, Dante.

--Robert Gray, contributing editor

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