Shelf Awareness for Friday, April 24, 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

Quotation of the Day

'Everybody Wins When Bookstores Succeed'

"In honor of World Book Day this April 23, it seems the right time to say this: we believe in books. George R.R. Martin wrote it well in his novel A Dance with Dragons, 'A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies.... The man who never reads lives only one.' Great books can do this to a person. Essential to the human experience, books transport us, inform us, and have the power to lift our spirits when we need it most.

"But books don't sell themselves, which is why we also believe in bookstores--and the incredible, knowledgeable, and passionate people who run them. Sadly, after a decade of recovery and growth that affirmed the importance of reading, writing, and publishing, bookstores are suddenly facing a moment of monumental crisis at the hands of the Covid-19 pandemic. In some instances, these beloved institutions, which mean so much to so many communities, face the very real possibility that they will never open their doors again.

"We cannot let this happen because we need bookstores now more than ever. As award-winning poet and writer Jen Campbell wrote in her book The Bookshop Book, 'Bookshops are dreams built of wood and paper. They are time travel and escape and knowledge and power. They are, simply put, the best of places.'

"We are therefore asking for your help to save these best of places. Please visit your community bookstores online or find them at Your actions matter and they are waiting for you: a little shopping today will do so much to ensure their futures. You can also make a donation to the Book Industry Charitable Foundation here: Save Indie Bookstores. Everybody wins when bookstores succeed. Thank you for your help and happy reading!"

--A joint post yesterday from Maria Pallante, president and CEO of the Association of American Publishers; Mary Rasenberger, executive director of the Authors Guild; and Allison Hill, CEO of the American Booksellers Association

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


Bay Books 'Quietly' Reopens in Coronado, Calif.

Bay Books, Coronado, Calif., "quietly reopened" this week for pickup or delivery orders at its new location at 1007 Orange Avenue. The Coronado Times reported that the original store closed December 31, and a mid-March reopening had been planned. Then the Covid-19 crisis intervened, "but staff has been hard at work stocking the new shop with an array of books, magazines, and gifts, including purses, scarves, bookmarks and much more." The new space has a similar layout to the old shop, though at 2,600 square feet it is approximately half the size. Bay Books Coffee is also located inside the store.

"When customers can once again enter the store, they will still feel the familiar cozy, comfortable vibe, coupled with an updated and modern feel," said manager Caryn Clausen, who has worked at Bay Books for six years. 

Bay Books "faced an unknown future when a new landlord raised rents in the summer of 2018," the San Diego Union-Tribune noted, adding that the store "initially had trouble negotiating a new lease, considered downsizing to a smaller space, moving to a different location or shutting down altogether.

"It's been a roller-coaster," Clausen said. "For the last, oh gosh, month and a half they've been peeking into the windows as we put the books on the shelves. We are so excited. We've missed our customers so much."

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

International Update: Book Industry Groups Call for Government Help


The International Publishers Association called upon world governments for help during the coronavirus pandemic in an open letter released on World Book Day and signed by Jean-Luc Treutenaere, co-president, the European and International Booksellers Federation; John Degen, chair, International Authors Forum; Yngve Slettholm, president, International Federation of Reproduction Rights Organizations; Hugo Setzer, president, International Publishers Association; and Ian Moss, CEO, the International Association of Scientific, Technical and Medical Publishers Association.

"We, the undersigned representatives of the global book industry urge governments all over the world to recognize, support and celebrate the importance of books, learning solutions, and professional and scholarly content by adopting economic stimulus packages to sustain their respective publishing sectors and the value chains that surround them," the letter stated. "Books need authors to write and illustrate them, publishers to invest in them, booksellers to get them to readers, and collective management organizations to protect their copyright. This chain, so vital to society, is under imminent threat.... 

"Whether we are talking about books for a general audience, children's books, educational resources, or scientific research, authors, publishers, distributors, booksellers and collective management organizations have reacted quickly to adapt where necessary and play a responsible role in society.... In many countries, our industry is already struggling for oxygen. We must find ways to ensure the future for authors, publishers, editors, designers, distributors, booksellers and those who work in collective management, so that the book industry can bounce back once this pandemic is conquered.

"A world without new books would be a sad and impoverished place. We are working hard to come through this crisis, but we need help to survive. We need governments to help us get through it together."


A separate statement from the Association of Canadian Publishers "references the emergency support measures already announced by the Canadian federal government, in particular, last week's $500-million investment dedicated to arts, culture, and sports organizations," Quill & Quire reported. "ACP expressed its desire to keep working with Canadian Heritage on initiatives that will help sustain the publishing industry while continuing to rally for copyright reform."

ACP executive director Kate Edwards said: "Canadian publishers, writers, and booksellers have responded to the current emergency with creativity and generosity to ensure Canadians can access the books they need for education, information, and escape. Government policy and investment will be critical to ensuring this important work continues through 2020 and beyond."

The Writers' Union of Canada's statement reinforced the need for copyright reform: "TWUC calls on the federal government to finally fix the educational copying crisis that has so negatively impacted our industry. There is no longer any doubt that quality Canadian content created by Canadian authors and publishers is in high demand by the education system. It is time to clarify that the licensing of our work is mandatory, and to bring education back to the table to negotiate reasonable terms."


New Zealand's booksellers are preparing to begin trading again early next week, as Covid-19 restrictions are due to be eased by late Monday, April 27, Books + Publishing reported. The country has been in level 4 lockdown since March 25, with bookstores closed and unable to offer online sales.

"I think the last few weeks for parents and caregivers has been at times frustrating not being able to access new reading material for their kids," said Jude Potts of the Children's Bookshop in Christchurch, which will begin offering click and collect, delivery within the city, and courier and post options.

Unity Books, with stores in Wellington and Auckland, is inviting customers to pre-order online this week, but cautioned: "Bear in mind we know you've all been eyeing the same book and there are only three in stock." Unity said supply would be "courier/contactless" and warned "the couriers will be maxed."

Potts said her store had been proactive on social media during lockdown, with its Facebook page "being incredibly important in keeping contact.... We've posted many articles on things for children to do, ranging from the Harry Potter website (a huge success!), to authors [such as Oliver Jeffers] reading books everyday. Consequently we've also picked up a lot more followers and made our presence more well-known."

Eslite Chooses New 24-Hour Bookstore Location

Eslite has chosen its Xinyi district store in Taipei, Taiwan, to be the chain's bookstore that stays open 24 hours a day, CNA (via Focus Taiwan) reported. Eslite's Dunnan store, which has been open continuously since 1999, closes at the end of May, when its lease runs out.

The 24-hour bookstore will be on the third floor of the Xinyi location, which is larger than the Dunnan store. It will begin staying open around the clock on May 29. On the same day, a record store and supermarket, also on the third floor, will begin 24-hour operations, making it the only 24-hour record store in Taiwan.

Eslite held an online poll this month asking customers to vote for which of five Eslite stores they wanted to be the one staying open 24 hours a day. The Xinyi store won the poll, the company said.

At a press conference announcing the choice, Eslite chairman Mercy Wu said that as long as Eslite exists, there will be a 24-hour bookstore in Taiwan.

Eslite has 44 stores in Taiwan, three in Hong Kong, two in China and one in Japan, which it opened last September.

ALA's 'Most Challenged Books' List


The American Library Association has released its annual list of the Top 10 Most Challenged Books, included as part of its 2020 State of America's Libraries report. The report offers an annual summary of library trends, statistics and issues affecting all types of libraries during the previous calendar.

The popularity of libraries "continues to soar," with U.S. adults reporting an average of 10.5 trips per year to the library, which exceeded the amount of trips made to movie theaters, museums or zoos. The report also noted a trend of libraries becoming "libraries of things," and offering collections of items like "mattresses, dolls, bicycles, binoculars and accordions."

At the same time, the report found a 17% increase in the number of books targeted for removal or restriction, the majority of them featuring or addressing LGBTQIA+ content. All told, the ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom tracked 377 challenges in 2019, with 566 books targeted overall. The most frequently challenged titles last year were:

  1. George by Alex Gino
  2. Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out by Susan Kuklin
  3. Last Week Tonight with John Oliver Presents A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo by Jill Twiss, illustrated by EG Keller
  4. Sex Is a Funny Word by Cory Silverberg, illustrated by Fiona Smyth
  5. Prince & Knight by Daniel Haack, illustrated by Stevie Lewis Reasons
  6. I Am Jazz by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings, illustrated by Shelagh McNicholas
  7. The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
  8. Drama, written and illustrated by Raina Telgemeier
  9. The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling
  10. And Tango Makes Three by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson, illustrated by Henry Cole Reason

How Bookstores Are Coping: 'Glimmers of Optimism', Dedication

Noting that it has been a long month since the Covid-19 crisis temporarily closed the doors of Bridgeside Books, Waterbury, Vt., owner Hiata DeFeo wrote: "When I left the shop that day, I truly had no idea if I would be able to continue; if this was it and after nearly 11 years, Bridgeside was closed forever. This was probably one of the saddest moments in my life and many, many tears were shed."

Bridgeside Books has since been "been overwhelmed with the love and support from so many friends, family, supporters, and customers near and far," she noted, adding: "At the drop of the hat, Bridgeside Books has switched from a brick and mortar shop where customers enjoyed browsing and discovering the unexpected to a phone/email/online/shipping/delivery/curbside business.... I am beginning to feel glimmers of optimism that Bridgeside will survive and, in time, be able to thrive again in this new landscape. (FULL DISCLOSURE: this optimism changes several times a day!)."

She added that changes are being made to help the bookstore move into this uncertain future, including "downsizing to our original footprint and carefully curating our offerings to this smaller space. As everything continues to unfold, Bridgeside will adjust and continue to make difficult decisions on how to move forward. This was not exactly how I envisioned change occurring for Bridgeside Books but here we are, and I am trying my hardest to make the best of it."


Mike Joachim, manager of the Toadstool Bookshop location in Nashua, N.H., told the Telegraph that the bookshop's online store and its warehouse have been swamped with book orders from local customers as well as others across the country.

"The owner of the company, Willard Williams, is very dedicated and he has been for forty years to being a resource and taking care of people in the community," said Joachim. "Being part of community, he said, 'let's see if we can stay open,' and when we weren't deemed essential, he told people they could volunteer to work if they wanted to but wouldn't be forced to do so."

Staff who want to work operate the three Toadstool bookstores (the others are in Peterborough and Keene), fulfilling online orders and offering curbside service.

"We wanted to stay in business," Joachim noted. "And we wanted to be a resource. A lot of people really need books for their kids. We're selling a lot of workbooks for math and English and science workbooks. People are buying to help their kids while they're not physically in school.... Our website has always been set up to take online orders. There are options, where you can 'click' to pick up, or have it delivered to you. There was always a steady flow of orders online. Now it's just exploded."


An update from FoxTale Book Shoppe, Woodstock, Ga.: "So... the BIG question is when we will re-open in light of the Governor's recent decision to start to re-open Georgia. The BIG answer is we don't know yet. What we do know is we continue to be so grateful for all the support in ordering books and merchandise for mail outs and curbside pickups! Please continue to support us in this way--each purchase helps. We can't wait to be able to see y'all in person, host events and catch up on life... just as soon as we feel it is in everyone's best interest."


In a note to her customers, Connie Brooks, owner of Battenkill Books, Cambridge, N.Y., wrote: "It has been a month since we closed our doors to the public. As for many of you, these days have been marked by uncertainty, fear, and loneliness. They are also, at times, marked by joy, happiness, and surprise. I am happy to report that though the doors are closed, the bookstore is going strong. I am here, albeit a one-woman show--sometimes seven days a week--filling your wonderful orders for either curbside delivery or shipment (see the book cooler in action in the photo above, along with packages being shipped out). Until we can welcome you back to the store in person, we are grateful for the orders coming in as they are keeping us going.

Obituary Note: Stan Goldman

Stan Goldman, a longtime independent rep in New England, died last Thursday, April 16, at the age of 82.

Goldman's longtime business partner Bill Palizzolo of Northeast Publishers Reps remembered: "Stan and I worked together from 1985 until his retirement in 2000. He retired to Florida, where he enjoyed fishing, playing cards and reading. Stan taught me much about how to be an effective rep and was an excellent mentor as well as a good friend. He was an early advocate of selling sidelines to bookstores when most bookstores (and book reps) had little interest in sidelines; but as usual, Stan was right. Many of you who knew Stan will remember him showing up at your store dragging his large trunk filled with samples. He was quite a character and will be missed by all who knew him."


Image of the Day: Arundel's Inspiring Mural

So many businesses are boarded up in Seattle's historic Pioneer Square neighborhood--not far from Shelf Awareness's office--that people are calling it "Plywood Square." When Arundel Books was forced to halt retail operations, the store wanted to convey a positive message. The result is this mural, based on text by Neil Gaiman and created by local artist Amanda Joyce Bishop and designer Ty Kreft. Gaiman has long been one of the favorite authors of many Arundel staffers, and one of the authors the store recommends most.  

Arundel Books founder Phil Bevis said, "The work was so inspiring we wanted to share it, as it truly represents our belief that books can raise your spirits during difficult times, and add enjoyment to your life when times are good."

The mural design is available as a poster created by Arundel's indie press affiliate Chatwin Books and printed in Seattle on heavy archival stock. It is available as a limited edition signed by the artist and as a regular unsigned edition.

Media and Movies

TV: Defending Jacob

Beginning today, Apple TV + is streaming Defending Jacob, the original series based on William Landay's novel. The series is directed by Morten Tyldum, written by Mark Bomback and stars Chris Evans, Michelle Dockery and Jaeden Martell. A tie-in edition is out from Bantam Dell ($17, 9780593237960).

Books & Authors

Awards: Commonwealth Short Story Shortlist

Commonwealth Writers announced the shortlist the 2020 Commonwealth Short Story Prize, which recognizes "the best piece of unpublished short fiction from the Commonwealth." This year's shortlist was chosen from 5,107 entries representing 49 Commonwealth countries, including one translation into English, and for the first time, a story from the Gambia. Regional winners each receive £2,500 (about $3,225) and the overall winner £5,000 (about $6,450). You can see the complete list of finalists here.

Chair of the judges Nii Ayikwei Parkes commented: "Beyond their basic plots, the best stories are elevated by the language in which they are told. In this judging process, the fine language has also undoubtedly been that of my fellow judges, who add nuance, colour, fun and a profound knowledge of trends in their regions to discussions. The result of the time we've spent indulging in the submissions to the Commonwealth Short Story Prize is a shortlist of 20 unique stories. These stories, drawn from all over the globe, are as harrowing as they are uplifting, funny while being tragic--and defiant in the face of politics, bigotry and injustice. But, crucially, at a time like this, with the world beset with myriad challenges and a devastating virus, the stories are grounded in faith, hope and the humanity we all share."

Reading with... Jack Carr

photo: Clay Goswick

Jack Carr is an author and former Navy SEAL. He lives with his wife and three children in Park City, Utah. He is the author of The Terminal List, True Believer and Savage Son (just published by Atria). He's on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook at @JackCarrUSA.

On your nightstand now:

Rise and Kill First: The Secret History of Israel's Targeted Assassinations by Ronen Bergman

Favorite book when you were a child:

I loved My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George.

Your top five authors:

Anton Myrer
Ayn Rand
Herman Wouk  
David Morrell
Stephen Hunter

Book you've faked reading:

Never! A cardinal sin....

Book you're an evangelist for:

Once an Eagle by Anton Myrer.

Book you've bought for the cover:

I do this all the time. I'm always adding to my library based on all sorts of criteria.

Book you hid from your parents:

My mom was not a fan of my Mack Bolan collection.

Book that changed your life:

The Brotherhood of the Rose by David Morrell. It cemented me on my path into the SEAL Teams and also confirmed that I would one day do exactly what I'm doing now.

Favorite line from a book:

It is advice on character that a wise Sam Damon passes along to his son in Anton Myrer's Once an Eagle. He says, "You can't help what you were born and you may not have much to say about where you die, but you can and you should try to pass the days in between as a good man."

Five books you'll never part with:

I never part with books, hence the stacks of books in my office, but if pressed I'd say:

1. Once an Eagle by Anton Myrer, inscribed with wise advice from a Project Delta Vietnam sniper who is a mentor of mine.
2. Baa Baa Black Sheep by Greg "Pappy" Boyington, signed by the author when I met him in 1987.
3. The paperback copy of Term Limits by Vince Flynn that I read on the way to Afghanistan in 2003.
4 & 5. My original paperback copies of Centrifuge by J.C. Pollock and Oni by Marc Olden from the mid-'80s.

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

This is a tough one. It happens to me often. The most recent instance was The Son by Philipp Meyer, but another I wanted to keep going was One Second After by William R. Forstchen.

Book Review

Review: Great Demon Kings: A Memoir of Poetry, Sex, Art, Death, and Enlightenment

Great Demon Kings: A Memoir of Poetry, Sex, Art, Death, and Enlightenment by John Giorno (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $28 hardcover, 368p., 9780374166304, June 2, 2020)

In Great Demon Kings: A Memoir of Poetry, Sex, Art, Death, and Enlightenment, John Giorno (1936-2019) writes the following about being at a Ronettes and Shirelles concert with Andy Warhol at the Brooklyn Fox Theatre in 1963: "By chance, I was smack in the middle of something extraordinary." "Well, when weren't you?" readers may find themselves wondering while devouring Giorno's edifyingly dishy book.

Great Demon Kings charts Giorno's life well spent in the New York art scene, where as a poet, performer and impresario he had romantic relationships with a series of household-name artists. For a time, he was the constant companion and sort-of lover of then-ascendant Warhol ("I loved Andy, but I was not sexually attracted to him"). Warhol made Giorno the subject of his 1964 film Sleep, which comprises nearly six hours of Giorno snoozing. (For a fictional take on Giorno's experience, see Cyrille Martinez's novel The Sleepworker.) After Warhol lost interest in the poet, Giorno slept with Robert Rauschenberg's boyfriend, and then with Rauschenberg: "He was rich, famous, and beautiful. These were all good reasons to abandon myself to love and attachment."

Again Giorno was spurned, after which he and William S. Burroughs turned what had begun as a non-tempestuous affair into something better: they would perform their work together for two decades. Giorno credits Burroughs with politically radicalizing him, but the era's street-theater activism was too much for Jasper Johns, who, writes Giorno of their doomed romance, "just wanted a sane, simple, fulfilling relationship with a man he loved."

Interspersed throughout Great Demon Kings's love stories are vignettes starring legendary figures--many appearing in the book's 60-plus photos--from the worlds of Beat literature and modern art. For all his scene making, Giorno had a spiritual side, and his longtime fascination with Tibetan Buddhism culminates with a 1971 visit to India financed by the sale of a Warhol painting. Giorno's enlightenment winningly suffuses some of his book's observations--e.g., "I was with [Burroughs's] consciousness when he died, and it was one of the best times I ever had with him." Looking back on his life through a Buddhist lens, Giorno writes in his epilogue, "I have one more really important thing to do, and that is to die. I hope I do it right." That he did. A note at the front of Great Demon Kings says that Giorno completed the book the week before his death. --Nell Beram, author and freelance writer

Shelf Talker: This memoir by the late poet and activist is an invaluable time capsule of the New York art scene in the second half of the 20th century.

Deeper Understanding

Robert Gray: The Book World's Pandemic Pivot

As business leaders grapple with the impact that Covid-19 and the current economic landscape will have for their companies, many are simultaneously playing offense and defense in a short, medium, and long game all at once. And because of this, many are considering a pivot as the best shot at success. --Chelsie Rae Lee, Fast Company ("How to tell if your business should pivot during the coronavirus crisis")

I've been a little elegiacal in this column since the global Covid-19 lockdown started a hundred weeks ago, so I thought it might be time to pivot in another direction. Pro basketball seems the least obvious choice. Let's go there.

The pivot is "a movement in which the player holding the ball may move in any direction with one foot, while keeping the other (the pivot foot) in contact with the floor." That's the rule anyway. It's also what was drilled into us as young players--keep that pivot foot nailed to the court when you're not dribbling. The concept is more loosely defined now, especially in college and pro ball. Exhibit A: James Harden's "gather step." Lesson: Adapt to get the job done.

In the book world, words matter more than foot placement (putting nostalgia for "foot traffic" aside momentarily). And certain words often become coins of the realm in media coverage. Twelve years ago, for example, I wrote a column headlined "Turn Page, Chapter Ends, Close Book," exploring "the curious art of headline writing when the subject of an article happens to be the book business, and bookshops in particular. Here is the apparent rule: If an article is about a bookstore, the headline must contain a play on words involving books, pages or chapters."

Two years ago, I highlighted media reports that "disclosed, with barely masked shock, the apparently surprising ability of indie booksellers to 'survive, even thrive' (as the headlines love to proclaim) more than two decades of incessant retail assault by the likes of Amazon and chain bookstores."

Gayle Shanks, co-founder of Changing Hands Bookstore, told the Phoenix Business Journal: "Everything we're doing has been done in some tiny way before. Now we're actively telling our customers this is a good way to support us."

Ever since Covid-19 compelled indie booksellers to reinvent their business models overnight, the new watchword has been "pivot." Entrepreneur magazine even managed to offer a combo platter recently: "Once you have stabilized your business it's time to focus on the future. Here are 5 ways to pivot your business to not only survive, but also to thrive." A brief sampling of other noteworthy pivots:

I think it's a good word for what's happening. Bookselling This Week was on its pivot game by March 18 ("Indie Bookstores Pivot to Boost Business During COVID-19 Outbreak"), and indie booksellers are playing, too.

"Right now pretty much pivoted to being an online business," Jason Jefferies, marketing manager at Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, N.C., said in an Indy Week article.

At BookPeople, Austin, Tex., general manager Charley Rejsek told the Statesman the store's online capability was increasing and the next step would be shifting more author appearances online: "Most definitely that's our next biggest pivot that we're going to make, transitioning events to digital."

Online sales, formerly a small portion of business at Pegasus Books, with three stores in Berkeley and Oakland, Calif., have increased dramatically, Inc. magazine reported. Owner Amy Thomas noted: "We're pivoting, but what we do as bookstores, with events and readings... [running] another kind of bookstore to keep everybody going for a while is fine, but long term, we need to be back in the store."

Kathryn Grantham, owner of black bird bookstore, San Francisco, Calif., observed: "I didn't want to lose who we are in the pivot to the web shop." Condé Nast Traveler reported that rather than make every book available for purchase, Grantham is curating themed boxes. "Customers following us on social media have been avidly shopping from us. A silver lining during this difficult time."

In 2010, I wrote a column about 11-time NBA champion coach Phil Jackson--a writer, reader and book evangelist. He used to give his players reading assignments during the season. I noted that "in a world where books often seem to matter less, there is this guy coaching in the NBA to whom they matter a great deal. And his team just won another damn title."

Pau Gasol

One of Jackson's former players, Pau Gasol, knows the toll the pandemic has taken in the U.S. as well as his native Spain, where his mother is a doctor and his father a nurse. USA Today reported that he "searches for hope and meaning during these times."

Reading and learning are his key pivot points. Gasol just finished Edith Evan Eger's The Choice and Viktor Frankl's Man's Search for Meaning, which was recommended by Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr. He is currently reading a Jackson recommendation, Robert Pirsig's Zen and the Art of MotorcycleMaintenance.

"It's been hard. A lot of uncertainty. A lot of fear as well because of the unknown," Gasol said, adding: "I hope this is an opportunity for us to figure things out together instead of pointing fingers and the tension building and leading to bigger problems." Sounds like a good game plan.

--Robert Gray, contributing editor

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