Also published on this date: Wednesday, March 25, 2020: Maximum Shelf: Dear Child

Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, March 25, 2020


Dutton Books: Fifty Words for Rain by Asha Lemmie

Disney-Hyperion: The Mirror Broken Wish (Mirror #1) by Julie C. Dao

Basic Books: Dog-Eared: Poems about Humanity's Best Friend by Duncan Wu

Abrams Comicarts: Drawing the Vote: An Illustrated Guide to Voting in America by Tommy Jenkins, illustrated by Kati Lacker

Quotation of the Day

'I'm Afraid of Falling in Love with Delivering Books'

"Stanley the mailman, the best mailman that ever was, kept leaving us plastic corrugated USPS tubs. They seemed to multiply at night. We'd been shipping a lot more books--even before we knew what was coming--so Stanley picking up packages became a daily thing. He'd bring two empty tubs and swap them out for the two tubs full of books. But the in-store stack of empty tubs kept growing.... Last week, Chris finally asked Stanley to take away the extras, leaving only two. Why the heck would we ever need six USPS tubs anyway?

"The first day we offered free delivery in Lawrence, last Saturday, I hopped in my little red hatchback and delivered three packages. The next day, maybe six. By Tuesday it was 15 books and they were sliding across my trunk. We shouldn't have given away the tubs. Wednesday we asked Stanley for more. That day, two of us delivered 50 books. Thursday it was 75 books and three delivery routes....

"The main interactions I have with customers these days involve me standing beside my still-running car in the driveway as the customer waves from their porch. Sometimes they yell 'thank you!' and I yell 'thank YOU!'...

"We reinvented this business in a matter of a weekend. Our community has unleashed an absolute outbreak of support. The creaky old shop has proven resilient in its first week of reinvention. But these days any Same could be over in hours.... I'm afraid of falling in love with delivering books because I don't know how long it will last."

--Danny Caine, owner of the Raven Book Store, Lawrence, Kan., in the most recent edition of his "narrative dispatch," "Quoth the Raven: On Delivering"

University of California Press: Deviant Opera by Axel Englund


News

American Library Association Cancels Conference

The 2020 ALA Annual Conference & Exhibition, scheduled for June 25-30 in Chicago, has been canceled. The American Library Association's executive board announced the decision yesterday, noting that this will mark the first time in 75 years ALA has not held an annual conference. The last cancellation took place in 1945 as World War II neared its end.

"ALA's priority is the health and safety of the library community, including our members, staff, supporters, vendors and volunteers," said Wanda K. Brown, ALA president. "As the COVID-19 pandemic unfolds, it's become clear that in the face of an unprecedented situation, we need to make tough choices.... I am so sorry that this difficult decision had to be made, but I am certain that it is the right one. One of our greatest strengths is our ability to adapt and reinvent ourselves when needed the most. May these challenging and uncertain times find us working even closer together so that our libraries, our communities, our association and our families will all thrive."

Tracie D. Hall, ALA executive director, commented: "We recognize the magnitude of this decision for the association and our membership. The Annual Conference brings together tens of thousands of passionate professionals and hundreds of authors and exhibitors every year to celebrate the transformative work of libraries across the country and around the world. Our coming together not only galvanizes the library and information profession and its stakeholders, but also provides opportunities for attendees to explore and connect with our host cities. This year, we were especially looking forward to the conference taking place in ALA's hometown of Chicago; however, the well-being of our library community, staff and fellow Chicago residents has to be the number one concern, and that drove our decision-making."

Julius C. Jefferson, Jr., ALA president-elect, agreed: "At this unprecedented and historic time the health and safety of our members and their families are our primary concern. I want us all to focus on our collective health so we may live to advocate for libraries and library workers another day."

ALA supporters EBSCO Information Services, Follett | Baker & Taylor, Gale, a Cengage Company, HarperCollins, OverDrive, Penguin Random House, ProQuest and Simon & Schuster offered words of support.

The association will be working with conference registrants directly over the coming weeks. In addition, ALA staff, in partnership with ALA member leaders, are developing plans to carry out the important business of the association, such as council and board meetings.

"Although this is a great disappointment, ALA is far from the only organization taking a hard look at its events," Hall said. "We are using this to fuel our planning for Midwinter conference in Indianapolis in January 2021 and look forward to Annual Conference 2021 scheduled to be held in Chicago. We want to make both of those meetings incredible experiences. We want them to serve as opportunities for the profession to regroup and recharge."


GLOW: Tor Books: The Echo Wife by Sarah Gailey


How Bookstores Are Coping: Digital Events, Education Support

As of this week, Country Bookshelf in Bozeman, Mont., is no longer open for browsing and hours have been reduced from 9-8 to 10-6. Owner Ariana Paliobagis and her team are still open for pick-up as well as delivery, with $1 Media Mail shipping available. 

Paliobagis reported that customers are very appreciative of the pick-up and delivery options and are "using these services avidly." Her staff, meanwhile, remains fully employed, although that was helped by one bookseller giving notice not long before the pandemic began drastically affecting daily life. She added that the store is busy, she and her staff are taking serious health and safety precautions and she is committed to taking care of them, including by making additional sick leave available.

Country Bookshelf has seen a few recent sales days that were higher than normal for this time of year, but overall the store's sales have been about average. The biggest change, Paliobagis continued, has been the method of sale, with almost all of them now coming online or over the phone. At the same time, Paliobagis said "seeing people stock up or take immediate action to support local businesses" makes her think that this level of business is unsustainable long term.

The store is hosting its first online author event this Wednesday with Betsy Gaines Quammen and David Quammen. While Paliobagis said she would love to do more social media and online events, she and her staff have thankfully been too busy with web and phone orders to put their ideas into action, though she does imagine she'll do more in the coming weeks.

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In Scottsdale, Ariz., Poisoned Pen Bookstore has also closed for browsing, and from now until at least April 15 Poisoned Pen is offering free shipping to anywhere in the U.S. on orders of $25 or more. Barbara Peters, owner of Poisoned Pen, reported that her store is in something of an unusual position, as many of her customers are spread throughout the U.S. and abroad, and much of her business is already done via online order.

As such, the pandemic has not caused a major shift for the store, despite all of the bookstore's events getting reimagined as digital events, including recent book launches with Harlan Coben and James Rollins that were done on Facebook Live without in-person audiences. As for her staff, Peters said no layoffs are coming and everyone is being paid in full, including two staff members who are taking time at home out of an abundance of caution.

She and her team are working on other digital events, such as discussion groups and writing workshops that will be done through Zoom, and Peters added that looking ahead, she has transformed all of her April events into virtual events. Beyond that, however, she won't make any decisions just yet.

By far her biggest concern, Peters continued, is what would happen if warehouses were forced to close and the supply chain began to break down. "All of this depends on shipping staying in place," Peters remarked. "That's the huge test."

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Maine Governor Janet Mills issued a new order yesterday directing all nonessential businesses and operations in the state to close their physical locations to the public, WMTW reported, though bookstores will still be able to do business with alternative strategies.

Kenny Brechner of Devaney Doak & Garrett Booksellers in Farmington posted on Facebook: "A bit of breaking news in that Governor Mills specifically mentioned in her press conference today that bookstores will be able to continue to operate as DDG has been doing, with phone and online orders, curbside pickup, and shipping orders.... Thanks everyone! As we remain at least six feet away from our customers we have never felt closer to all of you. We really appreciate your support."

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With residents of Hawaii now mandated to stay at home, Kona Stories Book Store on the Big Island has launched an Education Support Drive, meant to provide educational materials to children and teens who need them most during the shutdown. Kona Stories co-owner Brenda McConnell explained that as people donate, the bookstore will purchase workbooks and other educational materials and donate them directly. McConnell has reached out to Friends of the Children of West Hawaii and Hope Services Hawaii to make sure the materials get where they are most needed. McConnell and her team have already put an initial order in to purchase books, and will do additional orders as donations come in.


G.P. Putnam's Sons: This Time Next Year by Sophie Cousens


Wholesalers, Distributors: Most Open; Diamond Suspends Weekly Distribution

More spot checks with wholesalers and distributors have shown that most are open and processing orders, exempt or unaffected by stay-in-place orders.

Hachette Book Group is offering the following programs to support independent booksellers:

  • Curbside pickup earns an additional +2.5% off MSRP up to $100 rebate per ship-to location
  • Additional 30 days dating
  • New lower minimum order quantity of $40 invoice value

The following HBG distribution clients are participating in the offers: Abrams; Disney; Hachette UK, including Mobius and Nicholas Brealey; Lonely Planet; Kids Can Press; Marvel; Moleskine; Octopus; Phaidon Press; Phoenix International; Quarto Publishing Group; and Yen Press.

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In a letter to staff that nominally was about excellent 2019 fiscal results, Penguin Random House CEO Markus Dohle noted that "2019 seems so long ago, as we now face a global pandemic that has shaken our book community to its core. Thanks to your joint efforts and coordinated work, I know we will prevail in the difficult times ahead." Those efforts will include a "need to adjust and adapt our business on a daily basis and maintain a very cost- and cash-conscious approach. I am confident that we will leverage our collective strengths and solidarity to successfully manage through this challenging time together."

Dohle offered an extra thanks to a part of the book world that sometimes runs so smoothly it's forgotten, writing, "I especially want to express my deep gratitude, on behalf of our entire company, to our heroic supply-chain colleagues around the world, who are shipping books wherever we can. I know many of our retail partners and operations are being forced to shut their doors because of government shelter-in-place mandates or declining demand. As Penguin Random House, we will continue to support them during and after this crisis to get our authors' books into the hands of readers--today and tomorrow."

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Baker & Taylor Publisher Services' facilities in Ashland, Ohio, are open and operational, the company said, and "with all of our partner services working at strategically optimized capacity: sales and distribution, manufacturing, inventory, and fulfillment."

Because of a jump in demand for activity books, through June 15, BTPS is offering bookstores an additional discount on top-selling titles in children's and adult activity categories. The "Spring 2020 Activity Books" promotion includes more than 100 titles at a 50% discount, order minimum 5 units combined, and free freight. Bookstores can contact their BTPS rep for specific details.

Also, as part of Follett and Baker & Taylor, BTPS is working with publisher clients and industry distribution channels to supply free digital resources to bookstores, school personnel, and libraries to provide parents and teachers opportunities to keep children engaged in learning.

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At National Book Network, "it's business as usual," said Jed Lyons, president and CEO of Rowman & Littlefield, which owns NBN.

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Books International is open for business. The company provides fulfillment services for 30 publishers and prints book for more than 300 publishers at its two manufacturing plants, in Dulles, Va., and Chicago, Ill., at the University of Chicago Press's Chicago Distribution Center.

The company is engaging in best practices in its facilities and has 8-12 weeks of text paper inventory as well as plans for backup manufacturing operations with local book manufacturers if it needs to shut down one or both of the facilities.

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Because of disruption both among retailers, who "can no longer service their customers as they have in the past," and publishing partners, who are faced with "numerous issues in their supply chain, working with creators, printers, and increasing uncertainty when it comes to the production and delivery of products for us to distribute," Diamond Comic Distributors is halting distribution of new weekly product "until there is greater clarity on the progress made toward stemming the spread of [COVID-19]," Steve Geppi, chairman and CEO of Geppi Family Enterprises and founder of Diamond Comic Distributors, said yesterday in an open letter.

For the time being, Geppi wrot, "we have been able to develop procedures with our teams at the distribution center in Olive Branch, Miss., to safely continue fulfillment of direct ship reorders for the retailers who are able to receive new product and need it to service their customers." Product distributed by Diamond and slated for an on-sale date of April 1 or later, however, is not being shipped. And in the U.K., product distributed by Diamond UK with an on-sale date of March 25 or later will not be shipped to retailers until further notice.

Geppi added that product distributed by Alliance Game Distributors from Diamond's Fort Wayne, Ind., and Austin, Texas, warehouses will no longer be shipped as of yesterday because both warehouses are closing "in the interest of employee safety and to comply with direction from local governments." The dedicated sales team is working remotely and can help customers with any orders they'd like to place today or questions they may have.

Geppi added: "For those retailers who remain open in various forms, I encourage you let loose your own creativity. For the time being, you will be able to replenish your perennials from Diamond and/or Alliance, but you should also remember the stock you already have in your stores. If your doors remain open, it's likely you will have customers who will continue to seek diversion from events of the world. Special sales, promotions, and even eBay can help you bring in cash during this trying time. Product for which you've already paid may well hold some of your answers. There have been many solid suggestions offered about how to help our retailers, and we will bring many of them together in future communications.

"Besides the industry's most immediate needs, we have been and will continue looking toward the future, when we see stores reopening, bringing staff back onboard, and getting customers in the door. We are looking at issues like debt accrued due to this crisis, what reduced ordering means for your discount tiers, and the availability of credit to help stores through and after this difficult time. We don't have all those answers today, but we understand the many issues you are facing and look forward to addressing them as partners who all have an interest in the long-term health of the industry we love so much."

Geppi concluded on a personal note: "This industry has been one of the greatest joys of my life, from my days as a collector to a retailer to today. I and my leadership team have made these decisions knowing full-well the effect this will have on all of you, as well as our publishing partners and our own team members around the world. At the end of the day, the safety and security of our teams and yours, along with the many customers we all serve, is paramount. I again thank you for your ongoing patience and support."


Peachtree Publishing Company: Madeline Finn and the Therapy Dog by Lisa Papp


International Book Trade: WH Smith Closures; EIBF Statement

British retailer WH Smith closed 60% of its shops, effective Tuesday, following new government directives shutting libraries and all "non-essential" shops due to the coronavirus outbreak, the Bookseller reported. The company said it would now be closing all stores aside from those "designated essential, including post office branches and hospital stores so NHS staff can be supplied with food and drink. Branches in certain key travel locations such as airports, some mainline stations and small towns will also be kept open.

In a statement, WH Smith said: "We are very proud of all our colleagues across our stores who are doing an outstanding job in continuing to serve our customers and communities. Our key priority is their health and wellbeing and we have a number of strict measures in place to keep everyone safe and supported.  Given the fast-evolving situation, our stores will be under constant review and we will support our colleagues through this difficult time."

In addition, U.K. discount retailer The Works is closing all 540 of its stores. Trading director Andrea Bennett told the Bookseller the decision "was made by the senior management team on Sunday night and cascaded to stores yesterday. Our website remains open to ensure we can continue to serve our millions of wonderful customers."

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Gardners confirmed it is still open following the prime minister's announcement. Head of business development Nigel Wyman told the Bookseller: "Gardners is still up and running and sending books to where they are needed. However as we have done from the very start of this pandemic we have taken the wellbeing of our staff and their families very seriously.... All staff have the ability to distance themselves from their workers and this has been enhanced even further in the last 24 hours.  Where possible we have people working from home as per the government's advice. We are following all the guidance that we have been given by the government and continue to do so."

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The European and International Booksellers Federation has issued a statement outlining the problems faced by bookstores that have been required to close by measures intended to halt the spread of COVID-19. "This prescribed closure of bookstores is a threat to financial sustainability of many businesses in the bookselling industry," the EIBF stated. "Health and safety of all people and communities is top priority for all, but we need to recognise the impact prolonged closure will have on small- and medium-sized businesses that rely on physical presence of customers. Booksellers offer an important contribution to communities and society as a whole from educational, cultural, and financial point of view.

"Many booksellers are going above and beyond to sustain their services to customers--who are currently self-isolating at their homes--but they face numerous challenges. Many bookstores that our members represent have limited, or no, infrastructure to support online sales in these unprecedented times. In addition, while offering home deliveries, they are exposing themselves to higher risks.

"Closure of brick and mortar bookstores compromises their profitability and puts under question their, already fragile, economic situation. Local bookstores greatly contribute to communities and districts, offering needed services, providing job opportunities, and contributing safe meeting spaces that online retailers can't provide. Ensuring these businesses can overcome these uncertain times is critical to continuous sustainable development of local communities.

"All booksellers are anxiously waiting to reopen their stores, but they are not willing to compromise their health or the health of their customers and communities they enrich. This puts them at a disadvantage compared to giant online retailers, whose businesses are operating with minimal adjustments.

"We are appealing to governments worldwide to remember the importance of books in our society, and the positive impact bookstores have on local communities, and provide support and financial aid to protect the bookselling industry.

"It is critical we stand together in these uncertain times, as only by supporting each other we will come out stronger in the end."

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Canadian booksellers are "being labelled a non-essential service and being forced to shut down entirely for 14 days," the Star reported, adding that the Ontario government is ordering all non-essential businesses to close as of Wednesday.

"I was reading (Premier Ford's) note that the LCBO [Liquor Control Board of Ontario] will remain open," said Indigo Books CEO Heather Reisman, who has already shut down her 200 stores to foot traffic, focusing on online orders. "We are fulfilling requests for parents for books and educational materials for their kids; we are receiving requests for reading material... because, in times of stress, reading is a mindful activity; it is actually stress-reducing.... My interpretation is that we fall under the guidelines for the things that we're doing."

She added that she is continuing to pay her employees during the shutdown. "Indigo is a billion-dollar Canadian company so when we close 200 stores it has a very significant impact on the company.... Every one of us, whether we're a small, medium-sized or large enterprise, if you're forced to close, of course it has a very significant impact. You're still carrying all of the overhead of the business."

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A bookseller in Berlin, Germany, told Quartz that the large, independent bookstore where he has worked for the past year has had some literary panic shopping lately.

"People are definitely buying stacks of books," said John Owen. "More people are buying what might be called 'ambitious reads,' or big, fat books." Children's books are in high demand, as were texts on the early-20th-century flu pandemic until they sold out. A lot of people are also reading Emily St. John Mandel's Station Eleven.

Quartz noted that Owen "isn't too worried about the shop surviving for a little while but doesn't imagine it will be able to remain in business for many months in these conditions. He and his colleagues are already considering new ways to get books to eager readers, like deliveries of various themed packages designed for different tastes."


Berkley Books: The Perfect Guests by Emma Rous


NYC's Javits Center Now a Hospital; Children’s Book Art Silent Auction in Limbo

The fate of this year's BookExpo, Unbound and BookCon, which were recently postponed until July 22-26, is looking shaky: FEMA is converting the Javits Center in New York City into a 1,000-bed temporary hospital for COVID-19 patients that is set to open next week. At the same time, Simon & Schuster and HarperCollins said that they will not attend the rescheduled BookExpo and BookCon.

Yesterday, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo toured the Javits Center and said: "I want to thank Alan Steel, who runs this convention center. He has put on many shows before, and his team is very adaptable. But this is the first time they have ever built a hospital inside the Javits Center. So I want to thank them very much."

He explained: "We have to get that hospital capacity up and we have to get the equipment that we have up. Each of the 250 bed facilities is about 40,000 square feet. There will be about 320 federal staff that come to work in those four hospitals, where they'll take care of about 1,000 people.... Luckily, Javits has plenty of space. We've been expanding Javits. This was never an anticipated use, but you do what you have to do. That's the New York way, that's the American way. And we're going to get this done."

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With the postponement of BookExpo 2020 by Reed Exhibitions, the American Booksellers Association and Every Child a Reader/the Children's Book Council said they "are exploring other options for the 2020 Children's Book Art Silent Auction. This beloved industry event brings together a wonderful group of people and we are saddened knowing that we will not be able to gather in person this May. In recent weeks, we have seen people from all corners of the children’s book world coming together to support each other and kids everywhere." The organizations vowed to "continue to support and add to these efforts."


Unemployed/Underemployed NYC Booksellers Form Bookshop Storefront

Some 15 booksellers from such New York City bookstores as McNally Jackson, WORD, the Strand and Book Culture have created a virtual storefront on Bookshop.org, where 30% of sales will go to participating "booksellers across the city who have been laid off or had their hours cut while we try to 'flatten the curve.' "

At the storefront, readers will find "the collective expertise and collected enthusiasm" of the booksellers, with more booksellers likely to join soon, organizers said. "Every bookseller who contributes 10 or more recommendations to this endeavor will share equally in the money generated. And all of your purchases from this online storefront, not just our recommendations, will be shipped right to your door...

"This is no substitute for the sense of community in our home stores, but until we can work again, we're more than happy to share our favorite books. We're unemployed and open for business. Happy reading."


Obituary Note: Albert Uderzo

Albert Uderzo, co-creator and illustrator of the Asterix comic book series, about a warrior named Asterix in Roman-occupied Gaul, passed away on Tuesday at his home in Neuilly, France, the Guardian reported. He was 92.

In the series, Asterix, his best friend and his dog outwit Roman legionnaires and go on adventures around the ancient world. Uderzo created Asterix in 1959 with writer René Goscinny, and the pair worked on the series together until Goscinny's death in 1977. From then until 2009, Uderzo wrote and illustrated the comics himself, before retiring and selling the rights to Hachette. Over the decades, the series sold more than 370 million copies around the world and inspired 11 films and even an Asterix theme park.

A host of writers, comic book illustrators and others offered tribute to Uderzo. Cressida Cowell, author and illustrator of How to Train Your Dragon, said: "I loved Asterix as a child, and his style was absolutely iconic. Creating a huge cast of individually recognizable characters, and the minute detail of all those group battles and the action scenes is an achievement in itself, but his real skill was combining fast-paced adventures with such humor and warmth. Children come to reading in a lot of different ways, with comics and graphic novels being hugely important for a lot of kids. Asterix has taught generations of children around the world to love reading."


Notes

Image of the Day: Dressed for the Times

At the City Dock in Annapolis, Md., the statue honoring Alex Haley, author of Roots: The Saga of an American Family, is dressed for our times. (Photo shared by Robin Noonan, director of sales and marketing, Naval Institute Press and Dead Reckoning)



Kidlit Coronavirus-fighting Ideas of the Day

The kidlit community continues to rally in the face of the coronavirus, creating or promoting virtual resources for children who are socially distancing and attending classes online. We gathered some ideas last week, and there are more available every day.

Several publishers are offering materials for both children and educators: Bushel & Peck Books, a children's book company that "gives away one book for every book sold" is offering a virtual care package with links to its books that can be read for free. Penguin Random House Audio has a free "listen at home" collection of classic titles such as The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and Great Expectations available through its Volumes app. HMH Books for Young Readers hosts an online resource library, as does Little, Brown Books for Young Readers; and readers can sign up for newsletters from the Penguin Classroom Family and Creston Books.

NetGalley is keeping a list of virtual events and offering its own virtual learning and engagement resources. The SAG-AFTRA Foundation's children's literacy website has a YouTube channel that features a number of celebrities reading their books aloud. The National Cowgirl Museum in Fort Worth, Tex., "the only museum in the world dedicated to honoring women of the West, and from around the world who have displayed extraordinary courage and pioneer spirit in their trailblazing efforts," has also posted online activities and resources.

Sydney Krawiec, youth services librarian at Peters Township Public Library in McMurray, Pa., created a Hogwarts Digital Escape Room, and Lisa Von Drasek, the curator of the Children's Literature Research Collection, is collecting and posting "author/illustrator read-alouds, publishers policies, writing and art prompts and STEM activities for children and young adults." Readers and their families should also check out We Need Diverse Books' social media platforms (Twitter, Instagram, Facebook) as they open up their channels in helpful ways, including allowing authors and illustrators to submit requests for the promotion of new releases (you can use this link to submit requests) and working to assist "the efforts of independent booksellers to keep book lovers supplied and connected." --Siân Gaetano, children's and YA editor, Shelf Awareness


Notes of Appreciation & Generosity

In the midst of the COVID-19 distress, indie booksellers continue to share messages of appreciation and generosity.

"We are so overwhelmed by the amount of support we have received online over the past week," Books & Mortar, Grand Rapids, Mich., posted on Facebook. "Thank you so much to all of you.... We will be doing all orders online and shipping books directly to your home. We are quite overwhelmed with orders now, so please give us 48 hours to catch up with everything. If you already had a book set to pick up at our store, we will be reaching out to arrange an at-home delivery. Thank you so much for your love and patience! Keep reading!"

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In a note to their customers, Vivien Jennings and Roger Doeren of Rainy Day Books, Fairway, Kan., wrote that they "want to share with you how amazing this past week has been with all its challenges! Our limited team connected with friends old and new (while practicing social distancing) through our Curbside Pick-Ups. We learned to do all our usual tasks while wearing black surgical gloves! What brought tears to our eyes was hearing Thank You from so many of you for what we have done and are doing for our community....

We have faced many challenges over 45 years, but this community has always been there for this little boat navigating the waves of a constantly shifting industry.  We intend to stand fast in our commitment to the Legacy of Literacy, and our belief in the extreme importance of reading. Finally, if you're walking or running by our Bookstore, please knock on the glass and wave at us because seeing your smiles warms our hearts and lifts our spirits."

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Port Book and News, Port Angeles, Wash. "BIG ANNOUNCEMENT! We've received a VERY generous donation at the shop to provide kids books free to our community. If you know a child who'd love a new story, contact us! We're giving them away!"

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"These are just the mail out orders we processed TODAY!" Elliott Bay Book Company, Seattle, Wash., noted. "We have been overwhelmed by the amount of support we’ve been getting and we are so grateful for all of you. Thank you for your patience as we process them and for your continued loyalty. We are still offering free nationwide shipping and curbside pickup and we love you all--take care of yourselves!"


Personnel Changes at Sourcebooks; Putnam

Molly Waxman has joined Sourcebooks as senior director of marketing for its fiction imprints, Landmark, Poisoned Pen Press and Casablanca. She was previously director of marketing at HarperCollins.

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At Putnam publicity:

Kristen Bianco has joined Putnam Books a publicist. Bianco was formerly an associate publicist at Algonquin.

Elora Weil has joined Putnam Books a publicist. Weil was formerly an associate publicist at Little, Brown.



Media and Movies

Video: Sir Patrick Stewart Reads Shakespeare's Sonnets

To help us, in a small way, sooth our jagged nerves during the global coronavirus tragedy, Sir Patrick Stewart is reading one of Shakespeare's Sonnets each day and posting the video on his Twitter account.

"I was delighted by the response to yesterday's posting of Shakespeare's Sonnet 116, and it has led me to undertake what follows," he tweeted. "When I was a child in the 1940s, my mother would cut up slices of fruit for me (there wasn't much) and as she put it in front of me she would say, 'An apple a day keeps the doctor away.' How about, 'A sonnet a day keeps the doctor away?' So... here we go: Sonnet 1."


Books & Authors

Reading with... Vanessa Hua

photo: Andria Lo

Vanessa Hua is a columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle and the author of the short story collection Deceit and Other Possibilities (Counterpoint, March 10, 2020) and the novel A River of Stars. A National Endowment for the Arts Literature Fellow, she has also received a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers' Award, the Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature and a Steinbeck Fellowship in Creative Writing, among other honors. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, the Atlantic and the Washington Post. The daughter of Chinese immigrants, Hua teaches at the Writers' Grotto, the Warren Wilson MFA Program for Writers and elsewhere.

On your nightstand now:

I recently started reading Voices from Chernobyl: The Oral History of a Nuclear Disaster by Svetlana Alexievich--devastating first-person accounts that the author arranges in compelling ways. I'm enjoying Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai's The Mountains Sing, a gripping and lyrical multigenerational debut novel. I'm also having a blast reading the fun and fascinating memoir Home Baked: My Mom, Marijuana, and the Stoning of San Francisco by Alia Volz. And I just received a galley for Bridget Quinn's She Votes: How U.S. Women Won Suffrage and What Happened Next, which couldn't be timelier and more inspiring, and is filled with gorgeous original art by women artists.

Favorite book when you were a child:

I loved Remy Charlip's Fortunately picture book, in which the protagonist swings between peril and promise with each page. Unfortunately, his airplane explodes--but fortunately, he has a parachute. Unfortunately, the parachute has a hole--but fortunately, there's a haystack. Unfortunately, there's a pitchfork in that haystack... and so on until the exciting conclusion. I like my children's fiction with an off-kilter sensibility. 

From childhood through high school, I read Louisa May Alcott's Little Women at least once a year, and was inspired by Jo March, who wrote her own fate by selling her stories.

Your top five authors:

Yiyun Li, for her clear-eyed gaze and her lucid prose. Maxine Hong Kingston for breaking myth and form. Amy Tan, for showing the way. Junot Díaz, for the ferocity, the dark humor and the pain. Edward P. Jones, for his precise, perfect detail and the way he sweeps through time.

Book you've faked reading:

Years ago, when I was packing for a trip to Cambodia and Thailand, I decided I only needed to bring along one book: David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest--which my then-boyfriend, now-husband had read, but I had not. It surely had to be long enough to occupy me the whole time. Though he toted the thousand-page book throughout the trip for me, I only ended up re-reading the beginning, multiple times. I've never pretended I've read it--or any book, for that matter--but it still makes me laugh to think of how big, how heavy the book is, and how my husband carried it without complaint.

Book you're an evangelist for:

Alexander Chee's How to Write an Autobiographical Novel is a deeply moving, wise essay collection that I've recommended countless times.

Book you've bought for the cover:

The paperback edition of Amy Tan's The Joy Luck Club, which I purchased in high school. It might have been the first book of literary fiction I ever acquired; before then everything came from the library, or occasional purchases of Sweet Valley High and Christopher Pike.

The Joy Luck Club's title is flanked by two golden dragons, with an ornate border of flowers and clouds. I still own it, and I was overjoyed last year year when I had the opportunity to interview her, and she signed my copy.

Book you hid from your parents:

I don't remember the title, but when I was a teenager, I found a romance novel in my parent's closet. My father, discovering it missing, found it under my bed, and took it away, explaining, "This book is about the love between a man and woman--after they are married."

Favorite line:

"That experience of touching down in a totally foreign place is like having a blank canvas: You begin with nothing, but stroke by stroke you build a life. This process requires everything great art requires--risk-tasking, hope, a great deal of imagination, all the qualities that are the building blocks of art. You must be able to dream something nearly impossible and toil to bring it into existence." --Edwidge Danticat, on why all immigrants are artists

Book that changed your life:

Woman Warrior: A Girlhood Among Ghosts by Maxine Hong Kingston. As a teenager, I was blown away by the book's urgent, lyrical prose, by the family secrets exposed, by the myths Kingston retold and remade, connecting folktales and ancestral tales to her life growing up in post-World War II California.

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

Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides dazzled and swept me away. I lost myself in the novel in a way that's harder for me now; I find myself inspecting the seams, the structure, the foreshadowing that stands out like neon.

Which character you most relate to:

Though we never learn in the Little House series how and when Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote her books, her name on the cover was proof enough that a feisty girl like her--like me--could get published someday. Much later, I would come to understand that the Little House novels emerged from an often-tortured collaboration between Laura Ingalls Wilder and her daughter, Rose Wilder Lane, and that the books skipped over the more painful aspects of the family's history.

That doesn't change the impact the books had upon my development, how they made me feel more at home because I recognized a character who shared my dreams. What I remembered, what I held onto, is what I needed then to make my way in the world.


Book Review

Review: Southwest Sunrise

Southwest Sunrise by Nikki Grimes, illus. by Wendell Minor (Bloomsbury, $18.99 hardcover, 40p., ages 3-6, 9781547600823, May 5, 2020)

In the revelatory prose poem Southwest Sunrise, Nikki Grimes (Between the Lines; Ordinary Hazards) relocates narrator Jayden, an African American boy, from his home in New York City to somewhere that couldn't be less New-Yorky. He has two questions for starters: "Why are we here?/ What's so great about/ New Mexico?"

At first, the answer seems to be "nothing." From his airplane seat, Jayden is "mad about moving to a place/ of shadows./ That's all I see when we land." But he finds himself admitting to some curiosity the next morning, when "I wake up to/ a knife of sunlight/ slicing through the room/ Dad says is mine." Jayden looks out the window and sees a mountain. He has another question: "Who put that there?"

Jayden proceeds to spend the morning exploring his environment, toting a field guide that his mother gave him; with it, he identifies piñon trees and "fancy-named flowers." He spies "another kind of color"--the adobe house across from his. Jayden has two more questions: "Where was all this sky/ in New York City?/ Was it hiding?"

Jayden's transition to his new life won't be seamless--"I still miss the feeling of wow/ craning my neck to study/ the tops of skyscrapers"--but he finds comfort in making connections between the two worlds he has known: a raven reminds him of a city crow, and "the river of sand/ washes up bleached bones/ like seashells/ at Jones Beach:/ rib, bird's skull, turtle shell." When he sees the "red rock pillars/ holding up the sky," he doesn't have a question but a full-voiced statement: "Daddy should've told me/ this new place has/ its own skyscrapers!"

The hallmark of Southwest Sunrise is the faith it puts in readers to answer Jayden's questions. Regarding his initial one, "Why are we here?," Grimes hints that the boy's old neighborhood was dicey: he refers to his "barless window" in New Mexico, and he shivers from "the silence/ unbroken by/ the familiar sound of sirens." As for Jayden's question "What's so great about/ New Mexico?," Wendell Minor (Galápagos George; Daylight Wildlife Starlight), whose awards combined with Grimes's could fill a trophy case, answers with gouache watercolors that call to mind the rippling expansiveness of Georgia O'Keeffe's famous homages to the book's landscape. --Nell Beram, freelance writer and YA author

Shelf Talker: In this lively book-length prose poem, an African American boy explores the outdoors in an effort to understand his family's recent move from New York City to New Mexico.


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