Also published on this date: Monday, March 2 Dedicated Issue: Harper Horizon

Shelf Awareness for Monday, March 2, 2020

Atlantic Monthly Press: Those Opulent Days: A Mystery by Jacquie Pham

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

Carolrhoda Lab (R): Here Goes Nothing by Emma K Ohland

Allida: Safiyyah's War by Hiba Noor Khan

Ace Books: Servant of Earth (The Shards of Magic) by Sarah Hawley


Coronavirus Update: LBF Worries; Some Chinese Bookshops Re-Open

As the COVID-19 coronavirus (and worries about it) spreads across the globe, the book business is being affected in a variety of ways.

Although the London Book Fair says it will take place next week, since Friday, the U.S. operations of Simon & Schuster, Macmillan, HarperCollins, Hachette and Ingram have indicated that they won't attend this year, as reported by Publishers Lunch, PW and the Bookseller. In addition, some parts of Penguin Random House U.S. aren't attending; for others, the choice to attend is up to individual staff members. Among other companies dropping out of this year's fair are OverDrive and Amazon, and many other potential attendees from the U.S. are reconsidering travel plans, in part because of fears of being quarantined either in the U.K. or upon returning to the U.S.

Also over the weekend, Livre Paris, which was to be held March 20-23, has been cancelled, Livre Hebdo reported, a decision made after the French government on Saturday banned gatherings of more than 5,000 people in a confined space. The book fair is run by Reed Exhibitions, which runs the London Book Fair.

LBF says the show will go on and that it is "continuously monitoring the situation." On its website, it urges all attendees to follow guidelines and protocols set by WHO and U.K. health authorities and says it has "introduced a number of measures (which will evolve as required), which currently include: communication of WHO recommendations regarding hand, respiratory and best hygiene... strengthened collaboration with onsite teams (AV, registration, venue) to ensure vigilance and health/safety processes; WHO/public health messaging displayed and shared during the event; increased standards of hygiene and cleanliness in the venue including hand gel in public zones; strengthened hygiene, sanitization, availability of disinfectants; reinforced medical support within Olympia; additional support to exhibitors who wish to adopt specific hygiene measures for their stands."

It also recommends that attendees "may prefer and should expect others may want to avoid shaking hands" and "may wish to carry a personal supply of hand sanitiser, tissues and wipes in and outside of the event." Last but not least, "exhibitors may wish to book an enhanced cleaning/sanitisation regime for your stand and you may want to consider having extra sanitising gel/wipes for buyers coming to your stand."

LBF added that for people who can't attend the fair, it is "doing our best to ensure that as much content as possible is streamed and shared though social channels."


Chinese bookstores have coped with the coronavirus epidemic in a variety of ways, having to close for several weeks and of course seeing sales plummet. Many have reopened, but the customer experience has changed dramatically, at least in the short term.


Shanghai Book City now requires customers, before they come inside, to have their temperature taken by a guard at the door and to show a medical QR code that shows they are healthy. They must wear surgical masks, and once inside the store, they need to keep one meter (about a yard) from anyone else. reported that during a visit this weekend, the bookstore, "which is usually crowded, seemed a bit empty with only a few customers on each floor." On the first floor, the store had a large display "devoted to books on epidemic prevention and control, including some on mental health."

Last week, OWSpace, which has four stores in China, used social media to ask customers to help it stay afloat by buying store gift cards, a move that received widespread support, according to Sixth Tone. The stores' sales are down more than 80% and the company will likely go bankrupt in six months if the situation continues, OWSpace said. "During this arduous time for everyone, it is our hope that every person and every bookstore will finally walk out from loneliness and embrace the spring," OWSpace wrote.

Zhou Juan, director of public affairs at Yanjiyou, a five-year-old bookstore chain with 62 outlets, told Sixth Tone: "The arrival of this virus has destroyed people's consumption habits. People suddenly can't go outside; they can only stay home. That's why this is such a massive blow to bookstores."

Some Chinese bookstores have taken creative approaches to dealing with the situation. Yanjiyou stores have been delivering books and cakes to customers using a popular food-delivery app. "The chain is also dabbling in livestreamed content such as book recommendations, panel discussions, and literary readings, as well as publishing videos on Douyin, the Chinese name for TikTok."

Another store, 1200 Bookshop, is running a "book surprise" service whereby "customers can pour out their feelings to the store's WeChat account, then staff will hand-pick a book to send them that matches their current mood."

PM Press: P Is for Palestine: A Palestine Alphabet Book by Golbarg Bashi, Illustrated by Golrokh Nafisi

N.C.'s Malaprop's Bookstore/Café Launching Publishing Arm

Malaprop's Bookstore/Café, Asheville, N.C., is launching Leaning Chair Press, a publishing arm that will emphasize "books that focus on our community and the region, not to mention titles that hold a specific interest in the history of the store," Justin Souther, senior buyer and bookstore manager, said in an announcement.

With a name that plays off the store's longtime logo, Leaning Chair Press will publish its first book this spring: Richard Brinsley Sheridan's play The Rivals. Souther called this book especially appropriate "because our name is derived from the character Mrs. Malaprop." The Leaning Chair Press edition will have a foreword by Emoke B'Racz, the founder of Malaprop's. "This is the book we've wanted to put out on our own for a while," Souther added. "You may be shocked by how much time we spend explaining the meaning or origin of the store's name. We're excited to have our own version, one that melds the history of the store with its foundational literary work."

The second title, appearing in June, will be a paperback edition of Wayne Caldwell's Requiem by Fire, which was originally published by Random House in 2010. It was available only in hardcover and has fallen out of print. "When Wayne approached us last year about putting out a paperback edition, we didn't hesitate," Souther said. "Wayne's been a long-time friend of the store and Asheville itself. We relish the opportunity to bring his work back into print through Leaning Chair Press."

Malaprop's, which has published several books in the past, had discussed creating a formal publishing program for some time, and it's something Souther, B'racz, new majority owner Gretchen Horn and bookseller Bobby Bradley (who will design the titles) have been particularly interested in. "We've always had the smarts, the ideas, and the resources, but we're finally ready to put the work behind it," Souther added.

Farrar, Straus and Giroux: Intermezzo by Sally Rooney

Deli Out, Food Truck in at Moravian Book Shop

Changes are in store for the renovated Moravian Book Shop, Bethlehem, Pa., where Dave's Deli & Gelato has left after less than a year sharing space with the taproom run by Lost Tavern Brewing. The deli will be replaced by Randevoo, "a popular Lehigh Valley food truck serving made-from-scratch, Asian-influenced cuisine," the Morning Call reported.

Randevoo owner Zach Umstead, who launched the food truck more than two years ago, said he had been looking to open a bricks-and-mortar location. "It was a no-brainer in my eyes. I love working with the Lost Tavern guys, and they have a great following. Also, I feel like my food pairs well with all of their fun new beers. It's the opportunity of a lifetime for me."

Bryon Grigsby, president of Moravian College, which owns and operates the bookshop, commented: "We've heard a lot of great things about Randevoo and their interesting menu items from people all over the Lehigh Valley. Everyone at Lost Tavern Brewing is very excited to work together with Zach and his team to provide an amazing experience for the guests of both businesses."

Michael Corr, director of marketing and communication for the college, added: "We've been having discussions with [Dave's] over the past few months and Dave decided he wanted to focus his time and energy on the Stoke Park location. They were a great partner and we're glad they were on board with all of the revitalization of the book shop that happened in 2018 and 2019."

Porchlight's Shawn Quinn Retires

Shawn Quinn

Shawn Quinn, Porchlight's longtime accounting director, has retired after 30 years with the company. Quinn was hired in 1989 by the Harry W. Schwartz flagship store in downtown Milwaukee to work at the small "Business Desk" run by Jack Covert at the back of the store. Over the next three decades, he worked in human resources, store management and accounting for both Schwartz and Porchlight (then 800-CEO-READ), earning a degree in accounting along the way.

During this time, he also met and married his co-worker Nancy (Williamsen) Quinn, who served as the Schwartz marketing director for nearly 20 years. They have a daughter, Alina, who is starting college at UW-Madison in the fall. In retirement, he plans on volunteering in Milwaukee and spending more time with his family.

"From a cash register in the Schwartz business division's cozy space on Wisconsin Avenue to the accountant for this amazing company is quite a journey," said Covert, founder of Porchlight/800-CEO-READ. "When I myself retired, the note Shawn wrote to me was so touching and thoughtful that it continues to hold a special place on my desk at home. In return, I wish him the best of luck and thank him for all of the years he dedicated to the company."

Owner and chair Carol Grossmeyer noted that Quinn "was always the one reminding me that there was a tsunami or some major world crisis that was calling for aid--and I think we were all pleased, as a company, to respond. I'm grateful to Shawn for reminding us to be generous in ways easy to overlook."

Daniel Goldin, owner of Boswell Book Company, recalled: "Shawn and I started on the floor of the same Harry W. Schwartz Bookshop (the Iron Block building) and we also got marching orders to go manage a store for a year (Shawn at Shorewood, and myself to Mequon). We both like Nancy a lot, though of course differently. We both get very enthusiastic about books and reading. But perhaps our true bond is having experienced many very long manager meetings. I think they sometimes went for six hours. That's a lot of time going over numbers. Congrats on retirement and here's to a great next adventure!"

Porchlight owner, president & CEO Rebecca Schwartz described Quinn as "a mainstay in my family's book business for three decades. Over his many years, he has not only performed myriad duties--sung and unsung--but has also become a kind of historian for us....As he goes off to open the first page of his next chapter, we wish him lots of great books to read, winning Brewers baseball to watch, and many visits (but not too many!) to his first-year college student daughter in Madison come the fall."

Quinn observed: "I'm so proud of Shawn for his 30-plus year career, and I'm looking forward to the next phase of our life together. Thank you to the company for bringing us together, and for each of our careers."

Obituary Note: Raye Gilbert Richardson

Raye Gilbert Richardson, founder of Marcus Books, "the oldest black bookstore in the nation," died February 11, the Oakland Post reported. She was 99. As a teenager, Richardson attended Tuskegee Institute, where she met her future husband, Julian. They were married for 60 years (he died in 2000) and moved to San Francisco in 1946.

Julian Richardson started Success Printing Co. in the Fillmore District, and together they founded the Success Book Co. in 1960, which they would subsequently rename Marcus Books in honor of Marcus Garvey. About two decades later, they opened a second shop in Oakland. In recent years, Marcus Books closed its San Francisco store, but the Oakland store continues in operation.

For decades, Raye Gilbert Richardson served as the chair of the Black Studies Department at San Francisco State University and is the first professor emerita to be retired from the SFSU's Black Studies Department. She was appointed to various positions/commissions by four San Francisco mayors and two California governors, including the San Francisco Library Commission and the California State Board of Medical Quality Assurance. She was also a columnist for the Sun Reporter and a regular commentator on the popular Ray Taliaferro radio show. During her years of activism and leadership, Raye received hundreds of awards from community groups, political institutions and the media.

"Known for her brilliant intelligence, her profound and eclectic knowledge, her critical thinking, her humor and wit, her untiring activism, her compassion and love of Black people, Dr. Raye impacted the lives of all who were fortunate enough to share in her life," the Post's obituary noted, adding: "A public memorial is planned and the date is TBA. Raye's wishes were that her legacy of Marcus Books be supported in lieu of flowers."


Image of the Day: Goat Reading

Author Caron Levis reads her upcoming picture book, This Way, Charlie (illustrated by Charles Santoso; Abrams, April 21), to two goats during a chance meeting while they were at the New York Academy of Art to be live figures for a drawing class. Like the protagonist of her book, these goats are rescues.

Sidewalk Chalkboard: Neighborhood Reads

Noting that "we have someone who does a great job on our chalkboards," Neighborhood Reads, Washington, Mo., shared a photo of its latest sidewalk chalkboard message which reads: 

"This year I will shop small, eat & enjoy local, donate & volunteer in my town, and smile at strangers."

Simon & Schuster to Distribute Indigo River Publishing

Effective April 1, Simon & Schuster will handle sales and distribution worldwide for Indigo River Publishing, Pensacola, Fla., which publishes a range of fiction and nonfiction.

Personnel Changes at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Emily Moon has joined Houghton Mifflin Harcourt as publicity assistant. She was previously a staff writer for Pacific Standard magazine.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: David Plouffe on CBS This Morning, Daily Show

CBS This Morning: David Plouffe, author of A Citizen's Guide to Beating Donald Trump (Viking, $25, 9781984879493). He will also be on the Daily Show tomorrow.

Good Morning America: Dan Abrams, co-author of John Adams Under Fire: The Founding Father's Fight for Justice in the Boston Massacre Murder Trial (Hanover Square Press, $28.99, 9781335015921). He will also be on the View.

Late Night with Seth Meyers: Jenny Offill, author of Weather: A Novel (Knopf, $23.95, 9780385351102).

TV: The Mysterious Benedict Society; Pieces of Her

Tony Hale (Veep, Arrested Development) will star in The Mysterious Benedict Society, Hulu's series based on Trenton Lee Stewart's bestselling 2007 YA novel. Deadline reported that the two-time Emmy winner will play the dual role of Mr. Benedict and his twin brother Mr. Curtain in the project from Sonar Entertainment, 20th Century Fox TV and Jamie Tarses' Fanfare.

The Mysterious Benedict Society is written by Matt Manfredi and Phil Hay, and its showrunners are Todd Slavkin and Darren Swimmer (Shadowhunters), who will executive produce alongside Manfredi, Hay, Tarses and Karen Kehela Sherwood.


Bella Heathcote (Strange Angel, The Man in the High Castle) will star in Pieces of Her, Netflix's dramatic thriller series based on the 2018 book by Karin Slaughter. Deadline reported that Heathcote "will star opposite Toni Collette in the eight-episode series, which comes from an all-female creative team led by writer and showrunner Charlotte Stoudt, along with exec producers Bruna Papandrea, Lesli Linka Glatter and Minkie Spiro."

Books & Authors

Awards: R.R. Hawkins, Kay Sexton Winners

Leonardo Da Vinci Rediscovered by Carmen C. Bambach (Yale University Press) has won the R.R. Hawkins Award, the top prize of the 2020 PROSE Awards, sponsored by the Association of American Publishers and honoring the best of scholarly publishing.

The AAP called Leonardo Da Vinci Rediscovered "a modern rethinking of the career and vision of one of the greatest artists of all time on the 500th anniversary of his death," and AAP president and CEO Maria Pallante added that the book is "as sensitive and erudite as it is comprehensive, providing the reader with the full benefit of the experience, knowledge and insight that could only be delivered by a scholar of Ms. Bambach's stature."

Noting that the winning titles was 23 years in the making, has more than a million words and 1,500 illustrations over 2,300 pages in several volumes, Yale University Press director John Donatich called Leonardo Da Vinci Rediscovered "a once in a lifetime book in the career of an author as well as her publisher."


Author and editor James Lenfestey won the Kay Sexton Award, "for his significant contributions to and leadership in Minnesota's literary community." Sponsored by St. Catherine University, the award is presented annually to an individual or organization in recognition of longstanding dedication and outstanding work in fostering books, reading and literary activity in Minnesota. He will be honored April 28 at the Minnesota Book Awards Ceremony in St. Paul.

Lenfestey is the author or editor of a dozen books, a former college English instructor, marketing communications consultant, and an editorial writer for the Star Tribune. He chaired the board of Minnesota Center for Book Arts, served on the capital campaign committee for Open Book, and on the boards of the Loft Literary Center, the Circle native newspaper, the Anderson Center, and the Friends of the University Libraries, among others. For 15 years he chaired the Literary Witnesses poetry series at Plymouth Congregational Church in Minneapolis and taught poets and poetry on Mackinac Island, Mich.

Panelist Daniel Slager, publisher & CEO of Milkweed Editions, said Lenfestey also "has supported and championed the work of all our great independent literary presses."

Panelist Margaret Telfer, board member of Graywolf Press National Council, noted that "it is his unbridled enthusiasm, his deep work in organizations large and small, and his leadership that make our Minnesota literary ecosystem exceptional.... He is not only kind to writers and readers; he is generous to their causes. He is deeply involved as a writer, a promoter, a donor, and an attendee."

Book Review

Review: The House in the Cerulean Sea

The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune (Tor, $26.99 hardcover, 400p., 9781250217288, March 17, 2020)

In this sparkling romantic fantasy, TJ Klune pits a mild-mannered paper pusher against the forces of discrimination, inhumane bureaucracy and precocious children, with hilarious and inspiring results.

"Make sure the children are safe... from each other, and themselves," Extremely Upper Management of the Department in Charge of Magical Youth (DICOMY) instructs 40-year-old Linus Baker. Linus's thankless task is inspecting orphanages that house magical children. He blanches at the children's powers but treats them kindly and believes his work supports their welfare. His quiet life with his old Victrola and "thing of evil" cat Calliope gets interrupted when administration dispatches him to remote Marsyus Island Orphanage, home of six especially unusual children.

Though no stranger to telekinesis or witchcraft, Linus balks at the group: a distrustful forest sprite, a button-hoarding wyvern, a female garden gnome who swings a mean shovel, a boy who turns into a Pomeranian when frightened, a green blob who likes to play bellhop and "Lucy," the six-year-old son of the Devil. However, their gentle, unflappable caretaker, Arthur Parnassus, unsettles Linus most of all. He exhibits no intimidation at parenting the magical equivalent of a nuclear warhead, and Linus, "a consummate professional," finds himself attracted to the orphanage's master in a most unprofessional manner.

However, his reservations about the children fade as Linus gets to know them and sees Arthur's commitment to giving them a thoughtful, loving upbringing. The intention of remaining detached and going home in one piece evaporates when Linus learns that the island's non-magical inhabitants have threatened the children. Nevertheless, Arthur Parnassus is more than he seems and, sooner or later, Linus will have to choose between remaining safe but complicit in an oppressive system or standing up for the people he has come to love.

Stuffed with quirky characters and frequently hilarious, this inclusive fantasy is quite possibly the greatest feel-good story ever to involve the Antichrist. Klune, who has previously won the Lambda Literary Award for Best Gay Romance (Into this River I Drown), constructs a tender, slow-burn love story between two endearingly flawed but noble men who help each other find the courage to show their true selves. Charged with optimism and the assertion that labels do not define people or their potential, The House in the Cerulean Sea will delight fans of Seanan McGuire's Wayward Children series and any reader looking for a burst of humor and hope. --Jaclyn Fulwood, blogger at Infinite Reads

Shelf Talker: A repressed orphanage inspector takes a stand for six magical children and their charismatic caretaker in this humorous, inclusive love story.

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