Also published on this date: Wednesday, April 8, 2020: Maximum Shelf: Paris Never Leaves You

Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, April 8, 2020

William Morrow & Company: Polostan: Volume One of Bomb Light by Neal Stephenson

Shadow Mountain: The Legend of the Last Library by Frank L Cole

Atlantic Monthly Press: The Elements of Marie Curie: How the Glow of Radium Lit a Path for Women in Science by Dava Sobel

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


AAP Sales: Up 3.7% in January

Total net book sales January in the U.S. rose 3.7%, to $1.115 billion, compared to January 2019, representing sales of 1,361 publishers and distributed clients as reported to the Association of American Publishers.

Total trade sales were also up 3.7%, to $567.8 million, and overall e-book sales fell 6.5%, to $75.4 million. University press and religious publishers' titles had the strongest sales gains, and downloaded audio had another sterling month, with sales up 14.6%.

Sales by category in January 2020 compared to January 2019:

Running Press Kids: Your Magical Life: A Young Witch's Guide to Becoming Happy, Confident, and Powerful by Amanda Lovelace

How Bookstores Are Coping: Local Support, Small Biz Loans

On Monday, Atomic Books, Baltimore, Md., filed the Atomic Report: "It's the start of Week 4 for us being closed to the public! We're all ok at Atomic here in Baltimore so far. Yes, also, John Waters is ok, since many of you have asked. We are still open for mailorder, home delivery, and curbside pick up (we're also a bar so we can deliver beer!). We've ironed out some hiccups and glitches now that UPS and USPS deliveries are mostly worked out, but a lot of other deliveries are still delayed or stopped (there are no new shipments of DC and Marvel comics until further notice). We're making do, as we are sure you all are trying to do yourselves. People have been asking, 'What can we do? How can we help?' All you need to do is BUY BOOKS and Gift Cards! We don't need donations or anything extra (just yet). We're here to sell books. And if you keep buying books we should be fine. We are looking forward to seeing ALL OF YOU back whenever we all get a handle on this pandemic. So stay safe. We miss you all!"


Jen Morrow, owner of Bards Alley, in Vienna, Va., "is eagerly awaiting an update from her community bank, Sandy Spring, on a $30,000 loan request for her bookstore," CNBC reported in a feature headlined "After a frenzied rush to file for small business loans, entrepreneurs nervously wait on bank approvals." The government's $350 billion loan program is aimed at assisting small businesses hurt by the measures that have been taken to stem the spread of Covid-19.

Since the coronavirus outbreak began, Morrow has gone from a staff of 12 to three, including herself, and is delivering books via bicycle with a neighboring bike business.

"I am trying to run this business every day with a skeleton crew, worried about my staff who are at home, and now I am holding my breath because I have no idea if I will even get a loan," she said. "There's not blame anywhere.... I just don't know how long it will take to review my application and get the money."


In their latest e-newsletter, Vivien Jennings and Roger Doeren of Rainy Day Books, Fairway, Kan., wrote that they wanted "to share with you how amazing this past week has been with all its challenges!  The fact that you are thinking of us and offering help is truly Radical Kindness (which is still my favorite book from last year). Many of you ordered books coming later this year, or books sent to friends to help us with cash flow.

"We have faced many challenges over 45 years, and this community continues to be here for us. 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 warm our hearts and lift our spirits."


Jamie Anderson, owner of Downtown Books, Manteo, N.C., praised the town "for their pro-active, forward thinking!! To say I am impressed would be a vast understatement."

On April 1, the Manteo Board of Commissioners explored the possibility of a town-led relief program for small businesses and residents impacted by the pandemic and set a public hearing for April 15 "to consider the formation of a Small Business Emergency Fund to support local businesses struggling in light of the statewide stay-at-home order," the Outer Banks Voice reported.

Town Manager James Ayers said: "What I have seen anecdotally as I've been going out to visit businesses--sometimes through the door or watching them close up in light of the executive order--is that they are hurting and worried about whether they can make the next rent payment.... Small businesses are particularly hard-hit in the current environment, and these businesses and the jobs they provide make up the backbone of the local economy here in the Town of Manteo."


In accordance with the governor of South Carolina's order last Friday, Jerry Caldwell, owner of the Coffee Shelf in Chapin told customers that the business would remain open, but was suspending indoor book sales. "We feel it would be unfair to allow browsing of our books when other bookstores have to close their doors. It is a small sacrifice considering how many of our fellow businesses are closing.... Please keep them in your thoughts and prayers."

Caldwell later wrote: "We will remain open tomorrow, after tomorrow, and hopefully the rest of April. With this newest order from our governor, we will continue to comply, and more importantly, we will remain steadfast in our commitment to provide you coffee as safely as possible.... As long as I'm permitted to keep the Coffee Shelf open, I am going to encourage you to come and get coffee. Otherwise, why remain open. And in doing so, I will continue to enhance our safety procedures. I hope to see as many of you as possible tomorrow, and throughout the coming days."

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

International Update: #BookshopsWillBeBack, Dr. Drake's Reading Pharmacy

"Right now, booksellers are cautiously optimistic," Booksellers New Zealand manager Dan Slevin wrote in newsroom. "Many were doing very good business in the days leading up to the lockdown and expect to take advantage of the pent-up demand for books when the restrictions ease. When we surveyed members last week, everyone who responded thought that with the support of government, landlords, banks and publishers, they would survive the four weeks at Level 4. Longer than that and the calculations become much more difficult."

Booksellers NZ has launched #BookshopsWillBeBack, a campaign to "remind book lovers, book buyers, the book industry and the rest of New Zealand that independent bookshops are the nationwide backbone of the sector, with unparalleled skills at putting the right book in the right hands at the right time," Slevin noted. "This human-to-human capacity is going to be vital as we rebuild after all this unpleasantness and our bookseller members want to assure readers that we are doing everything in our power to be there for them when they need us....

"When I was given this job, one of my targets was to increase membership and this week we've actually done that, as a couple of lapsed members have come back into the fold. My small team and I will continue to do everything we can to ensure that when this lousy war is over, we will have exactly the same number of independent bookshops in New Zealand as we have now."


Mark Rubbo, managing director of Readings, which has seven bookstores in Melbourne, Australia, shared his journal entry from March 27, where he wrote, in part: "We send out an e-mail to the 150 lovely people who work for us: we may have to close, all our jobs are affected, but it's important that we support you and also that Readings comes out the other end. I'm overwhelmed by the responses: reduce my salary, cut my hours, I'll take unpaid leave, I'll work for nothing, I want us to survive. But there's also the response from those who are really struggling, who really need the income.

"It's a great big family, we're all pitching in to help. Online orders arrive with lovely messages of support and encouragement. We wait every day for an announcement about whether we should close our physical shops, and we think about all the ways we can continue to serve our community in these extraordinary circumstances. We are all getting unsettled and have good days, bad days. I shouted at a colleague; how could I do that?

"So, the message? Support each other, conserve to rebuild something better, and don't shout at loved ones or colleagues."

Readings did close its shops to the general public on Monday, March 30.


In the Netherlands, booksellers from the Van Piere bookshop, Eindhoven, are delivering books to their customers by bicycle, Eindhoven News reported (via Studio040). Due to National Health Department's (RIVM) anti-coronavirus measures, the business "has opened a book counter at the shop front. Customers can get advice about books or 'pick up' a book. Another idea to be able to continue selling was to get the sellers on their bikes."

"I love it; it's nice outside. And I get great reactions when I bring the books to the customers," said Margriet van Veen. "It's really appreciated. Besides that, I can now see where they live."


In the U.K., readers can have their book prescriptions filled at Dr. Drake's Lockdown Reading Pharmacy. British bookseller Drake The Bookshop, Stockton-on-Tees, is "thrilled at how well our Lockdown Pharmacy has been received! You still have plenty of time to ask our resident Quack for some advice. Just click the link, choose your prescription and list your reading vices and we will provide you with a reading cure."

More Indie Crowdfunding Campaigns

Last week, Shelf Awareness took a look at the growing number of independent booksellers turning to crowdfunding campaigns during these difficult times. More campaigns, as well as some notable success stories, are featured below.

In Provincetown, Mass., East End Books Ptown is looking to reach a goal of $50,000. Owner Jeff Peters has so far raised more than $2,000 that will go toward the store's outstanding bills and expenses. In his message to customers and community members, Peters noted that the bookstore is still doing events, all of them virtual for the foreseeable future, and readers can further support the store by signing up for bookstore memberships.

Melissa Eisenmeier, owner of Carpe Librum Bookstore & Art Gallery in Baltimore, Md., is seeking to raise $7,500. Eisenmeier wrote that since the pandemic hit, sales have been down about 80% from what had been forecasted, and several authors have understandably dropped out of doing some planned events. While she is doing website sales, those sales are infrequent, and she is hoping to set aside the money she raises for the summer months, which are slow even in normal years.

On March 27, Seminary Co-op Bookstores in Chicago, Ill., launched a GoFundMe campaign seeking to raise $250,000. In less than two weeks, the campaign has brought in over $129,000. Director Jeff Deutsch explained that the money will go toward securing the short-term futures of  Seminary Co-op and 57th Street Books, while also helping create structures "which will support our stores through and beyond this uncertain time." In addition to the crowdfunding campaign, Seminary Co-op will look at grants, loans and other forms of support to help keep its staff of 45 paid.

Lacy Simons, owner of hello hello books in Rocklaind, Maine, created a crowdfunding campaign on March 25 with a goal of $15,000. On April 3, Simons closed the campaign to new donations after surpassing that goal, raising a total of $16,704. Donations to the campaign are going directly to payroll commitments, maintaining the store's website to guarantee access to online ordering, utility and bill payments, and a pool to help with hiring back staff members who are currently on leave.

She wrote: "We are working on inventing a new language to express how grateful we are to every one of you who've donated, because no existing language will suffice... you've given us hope that we can batten down the proverbial hatches and come out of this. Our 10th anniversary is in the summer of 2021, and you're all first on the list for our party...even if we have to host it on Zoom."

Obituary Note: Bruce Dawe

Australian poet Bruce Dawe, who the Sydney Morning Herald called a "remarkable educator and one of the country's foremost writers of verse," died earlier this week at the age of 90.

Born in 1930, Dawe dropped out of school at age 16 to become a laborer before joining the Royal Australian Air Force. He published his first poem while still a teenager, under the pseudonym Llewellyn Rees, and in 1962 he published his first collection, entitled No fixed address.

Over the years Dawe went on to publish more than 15 books, with his "seminal text" being Sometimes Gladness, which has sold more than 100,000 copies and been reprinted several times. His most recent book, Border Security, came out in 2016. He won a number of major awards for his work, including an Order of Australia, the Patrick White Award, a Centenary Medal and the Christopher Brennan Award for a lifetime achievement in poetry.

Dawe was also a longtime teacher, who joined the University of Southern Queensland in 1971 and won its inaugural excellence in teaching award in 1988. He retired in 1993, and the unversity runs an annual poetry competition in his honor.


Indies Get Creative to Deliver Easter Goodies

Independent booksellers are getting creative to market Easter-themed books, cards and sidelines this year as they adapt to the realities of novel coronavirus restrictions on stores and customers.

Val Stadick, owner of Main Street Books, Minot, N.D., said that when she "realized we had tons of Easter Bunnies for sale and no foot traffic we ran out and bought some baskets and grass and clear wrap and offered a special on creating Easter Baskets for our customers. We offer a good discount on product, throw in a little chocolate and a surprise gift. All day long we send pictures on Facebook and use the work phone to suggest books and small basket-sized toys for our customers. We have never had a better Easter season and today we have made our first two April birthday baskets. We will be marketing Mother's Day baskets and baby shower baskets also. It's been very big for us. We have curbside pickup and complimentary in town delivery. This is such a great option for people--and especially grandparents who don't want to risk going into Walmart or any other crowded big box store."

Among other indies playing Easter Bunny this year:

The Bookies Bookstore, Denver, Colo.: "Did you know Easter Sunday is this weekend? Bookie Missy wants to make sure you get everything you need before it's too late, so she's taken these photos of our lovely Easter display in the store!"

The Flying Pig Bookstore, Shelburne, Vt.: "Hamlet Phineas Philo, our bookstore mascot, has some words for our friends this week.... Our flying pig found some spring, Easter, and Passover goodies! And wants to put in a plug for NO ham this Sunday! : )"

Saturn Booksellers, Gaylord, Mich.: "Easter is upon us, and we have all of your last minute needs. I am happy to take a credit card over the phone, and put your bags outside the door when you pull up. You can then just hop out, and pick up your bag."

The Book Seller, Grass Valley, Calif.: "We have a week of sunny Spring weather ahead and Easter this Sunday, so don’t forget to add a book or two to those bunny baskets. Don’t see what you need? Give us a call...."

Barrington Books, Barrington, R.I.: "Easter is coming! Let our book-loving and toy-loving experts put together the perfect assortment for your little one. Just let us know the age and we will create a gift to remember to either ship or pick up at either store. No matter the size, all our baskets include a book (of course!) a plush friend, an activity or two and more! All in a sweet basket or bunny-eared bag. Let us get hopping for you!"

Napa Bookmine, Napa, Calif.: "Never been more grateful to pull an all nighter! THANK YOU for all of your Easter orders! Paul was literally working all night to get them processed and on their way to you as quickly as possible. Our hearts are very full from all of your support. We have begun to sell out of certain styles of the Easter stuffed animals, so be sure to double check our website before placing your order. There are tons of adorable options left, so holler at us if you have any questions!"

Customer Letter of the Day: The Little BOHO Bookshop

The Little BOHO Bookshop, Bayonne, N.J., shared a letter from a young fan to co-owner Sandra Deer on its Facebook page, noting: "A KIND WORD.... My love affair with books and bookstores began when I was quite young, so It was a 'goosebump moment' for me when I received this lovely note from one of our littlest customers! THANK YOU Lorelai!! BIG HUG kiddo! WE HAVE THE BEST CUSTOMERS.... EVERYONE, please stay safe and be well!" The letter reads:

Dear Mrs. Deer,
Thank you for being a great person in our community. Your bookstore is a special place for the children. We love going to your store to see all the books. It is a happy place. Your friendly smile makes us all feel welcome. Reading is fun.

Laurelai Vi Romero
Social Studies

Personnel Changes at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Andrea DeWerd has joined Houghton Mifflin Harcourt as senior marketing director, overseeing general interest, lifestyle, and culinary titles. She has held various marketing positions at the Random House Publishing Group, most recently as senior director of marketing for Random House Christian Publishing and Crown Forum. 

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Stephen King on Fresh Air

Fresh Air: Stephen King, author of If It Bleeds (Scribner, $30, 9781982137977). Besides his new short story collection and the new HBO series based on The Outsider, King will, the show said, "talk about what it's like to live in a world he depicted in his novel The Stand."

Movies: Crave

In a "preemptive move," Universal has acquired film rights to Crave, a YA vampire novel by Tracy Wolff that was released yesterday. The Hollywood Reporter noted that Entangled Publishing's Liz Pelletier described the vision for Crave, which was pitched as "vampires for a new generation," as a paranormal fantasy about a human girl "who finds herself at the center of conflict between many warring factions when she falls for a vampire prince, all told with a decidedly feminist perspective." No producers or writers have been attached to adapt the material yet.

Books & Authors

Awards: Hugo Finalists; Dylan Thomas Shortlist

CoNZealand, the 78th World Science Fiction Convention, has announced the finalists for the 2020 Hugo Awards, Lodestar and Astounding Awards and the 1945 Retro Hugo Awards online. See the full list here and the nicely done video here. The winners will be presented at CoNZealand, which will now run online July 29-August 2. The convention was to have been held in Wellington during that time.


The shortlist for the £30,000 (about $37,000) 2020 Swansea University Dylan Thomas Prize consists of three poetry collections, two novels and one short story collection:

Surge by Jay Bernard
Flèche by Mary Jean Chan
Inland by Téa Obreht
If All the World and Love Were Young by Stephen Sexton
On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong
Lot by Bryan Washington

The winner will be announced on May 14.

Reading with... Sonya Lalli

photo: Ming Joanis

Sonya Lalli is a Canadian writer of Indian heritage. She studied law in her hometown of Saskatoon and at Columbia University in New York, and later completed an MA in Creative Writing and Publishing at City, University of London. She lives in Toronto with her husband. Her debut novel was The Matchmaker's List; her new novel, Grown-Up Pose, is available now from Berkley.

On your nightstand now:

The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern, author of The Night Circus. This book is full of magical realism and is beautifully written and entirely engrossing. The book is like a fairy tale for book lovers. I haven't read her first book, The Night Circus, but it's now definitely shooting straight to the top of my TBR list.

Favorite book when you were a child:

Little House on the Prairie books by Laura Ingalls Wilder. I've re-read the series countless times. I loved her journey, the character and I always felt a little special reading them because I, like the author, grew up on the prairies (I was born and raised in Saskatoon).

Your top five authors:

Jhumpa Lahiri, Louisa May Alcott, Arundhati Roy, Madeleine Thien and Jean M. Auel. I stand in awe of all of these amazing women!

Book you've faked reading:

The Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien. I'm a diehard Lord of the Rings fan, and I've read all the books and watched all the movies, including the Hobbit ones, but I've never been able to get through The Silmarillion. I find it too involving.

Book you're an evangelist for:

My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite. This book has it all: a complex protagonist, a vibrant setting, an intriguing pace and a problematic love triangle.

Book you've bought for the cover:

Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple has an incredibly funky cover. The story turned out to be pretty amazing, too, with an amazing and super complex heroine. I can't wait to see the movie. 

Book you hid from your parents:

As a preteen I hid my Harlequin romances. I was a bit too young to be reading them perhaps, but it definitely piqued my interest in reading and writing romances. 

Book that changed your life:

The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri. This book resonated with me so much. As a child I had never read a book that featured a child of Indian immigrants growing up in the West. The theme of being caught between two conflicting cultures and trying to embrace them both was something I really identified with.

Favorite line from a book:

"What really knocks me out is a book that, when you're all done reading it, you wish the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours and you could call him up on the phone whenever you felt like it. That doesn't happen much, though." --J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye

Love this quote--those rare books that stay with you forever.

Five books you'll never part with:

Pachinko by Min Jin Lee, The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri, Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Me Before You by Jojo Moyes, Life After Life by Kate Atkinson. I loved each of these books on their own merit, but I think sometimes we read the right book at the right time, and something just resonates, and that's also why we hold onto to certain books--in order to also hold onto the feelings. 

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

The Harry Potter books, for obvious reasons. I haven't re-read the series since the last book came out, and I'm finally at a place where I have forgotten a lot of what happened in the books, so I can look forward to reading it all over again. It's as close as I'll come to reading it for the first time.

Book Review

Children's Review: Swashby and the Sea

Swashby and the Sea by Beth Ferry, illus. by Juana Martinez-Neal (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books for Young Readers, $17.99 hardcover, 32p., ages 4-8, 9780544707375, May 5, 2020)

After a few judicious edits from his wise friend the sea, a retired mariner's messages of misanthropy spark an intergenerational friendship in this salt-and-sand picture book frolic written by Beth Ferry (Ten Rules of the Birthday Wish) and illustrated by Caldecott Honor recipient and Sibert Medal winner Juana Martinez-Neal (Alma and How She Got Her Name; Fry Bread).

Captain Swashby's retirement to a rigging-draped, mast-accented cottage next to his old friend the sea is "salty and sandy and serene," exactly as the gray-bearded sailor thinks he likes it. Sharp-eyed readers will notice the bushy-browed sailor even owns a rowboat named El Recluso, Spanish for The Recluse, declaring his commitment to solitude. However, el recluso can also translate to prisoner, and the sea--who knows Swashby "in and out, up and down, and better than anyone"--has no intention of letting her friend become a prisoner of loneliness. When a lively, bespectacled girl with windswept curls moves in next door with her granny, Swashby peers balefully through his house's porthole at them and writes "No trespassing" in the sand to shoo them away from his deck. Seeing her opportunity, the sea "fiddle[s]" with the message, washing away the first part of the message and leaving the word "sing," which the neighbor child enthusiastically does. Swashby scrawls more rude messages, but the sea rewrites them, encouraging the child to "wish" and "play." When the elderly seafarer irritably corrects the girl's wishing technique and lectures her on the proper sand for building castles, she interprets his grousing as kindness and invites him to join her. He pushes back, insisting "Swashbys don't play," but the sea has one more mischievous trick in store.  

With just enough structure to create cohesion without rigidity, Ferry's free-wheeling, occasionally alliterative prose skips along like a child on a wooden deck as Swashby learns "neighbors could be fun, and friends, and... family." Martinez-Neal's acrylic, colored pencil and graphite illustrations elevate the sense of playfulness in this smile-inducing voyage into friendship. The deep and worn blue, gray and tan of Swashby's wardrobe contrast with fresh pastels reminiscent of an airy beach cottage; sea-glass-shaded waves edged in fluffy white foam romp along the shore, and butter-crumb sand blows in a salt breeze. Whimsical touches like the girl's blue and white polka-dotted swimsuit, inquisitive seagulls and wide-eyed crabs add to the visual feast. Joyful and sincere, Swashby and the Sea charts a course straight to the heart. --Jaclyn Fulwood, youth services manager at Main Branch, Dayton Metro Library

Shelf Talker: A reclusive old salt makes a surprising new friend thanks to the sea's nudging in this picture book by Beth Ferry and Sibert Medalist Juana Martinez-Neal.

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