Also published on this date: Wednesday, May 20, 2020: Kids' Maximum Shelf: Evelyn del Rey Is Moving Away

Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Flatiron Books: The Courting of Bristol Keats: [Limited Stenciled Edge Edition] by Mary E Pearson

Forge: My Three Dogs by Bruce W Cameron

Running Press Adult: Scam Goddess: Lessons from a Life of Cons, Grifts, and Schemes by Laci Mosley

Chronicle Books: Taste in Music: Eating on Tour with Indie Musicians by Luke Pyenson and Alex Beeker

Doubleday Books: Death at the Sign of the Rook: A Jackson Brodie Book by Kate Atkinson

Groundwood Books: Who We Are in Real Life by Victoria Koops

Agate Bolden: 54 Miles by Leonard Pitts Jr.

Quotation of the Day

'Out of Hard Times... the Biggest Bursts of Creativity'

"The Strand's success has been rooted in the in-person retail experience, so moving our customers online has been challenging. That being said, we're seeing great results thus far, and I am so thankful that our community has been so willing to proactively support us....

"New Yorkers like to stand out, not fit in, so I have hope that they'll keep the city's quirky small businesses alive. Businesses like ours are the fabric of our city, not chain stores. Out of hard times, you always get the biggest bursts of creativity, so I hope New York will bounce back."

--Nancy Bass Wyden, owner of the Strand bookstore in Manhattan, in amNY 

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AAP Sales: Down 8.4% in March

Reflecting the beginning of measures taken to combat the Covid-19 pandemic, total net book sales in March in the U.S. fell 8.4%, to $666.7 million, compared to March 2019, representing sales of 1,361 publishers and distributed clients as reported to the Association of American Publishers. For the year to date, total net book sales rose 0.3%, to $2.58 billion.

Total trade sales in March rose 0.8%, to $560 million. Among strong categories were several unusual ones: adult mass market, up 72.3%, and children's/YA e-books, up 22%. Downloaded audio, whose sales have risen every month since the AAP began tracking it in 2012, was up again, by 15.1%; children's/YA downloaded audio jumped 46.6%, to $5.6 million. In trade, printed book sales rose 1.2%, to $411 million, accounting for 73.4% of the category's revenue in March. Overall e-book sales fell 4.8%, to $73.5 million.

Sales by category in March 2020 compared to March 2019:

D.C.'s Kramerbooks Eyes Relocating

Kramerbooks & Afterwords Café, Washington, D.C., which has been a fixture in Dupont Circle for more than 40 years, is looking to relocate. The Washington Business Journal reported that owner Steve Salis, the co-founder of &pizza who purchased the bookstore in 2017, "has been considering a move for some time," and has become even more convinced that the time is right to leave the neighborhood that has been Kramerbooks' home since 1976.

"There are a slew of landlords out there who would love to have us," he said. While he does not want to reveal possible new locations, Salis expressed serious doubts about the future of retail in the Dupont Circle area and will be considering all options around D.C.

The lease at Kramerbooks' current location runs through 2026, but Salis is confident he will find a way to move before then as a years-long legal battle with one of his three landlords (the store and cafe extend into three buildings) turns in his favor. The Washington Business Journal wrote that he believes an April ruling by Superior Court Judge Yvonne Williams "amounts to an unequivocal legal victory, though the case is ongoing." He said he will "spare no expense" to continue to press it forward, but has given up on the prospect of staying at the Dupont Circle location.

"Kramerbooks will come out of this beautifully," Salis noted, adding that the business has been able to adapt well to the new delivery model necessitated by the novel coronavirus crisis. He also recently invited pitmaster Rob Sonderman from his Federalist Pig barbecue restaurant to start a "pop-up kitchen" at Kramerbooks, and could soon expand that concept to his other businesses around the District.

"I couldn't be more optimistic and bullish about what the end of this is going to look like," Salis said. "Our business will be better and bigger than ever."

Yesterday, Kramerbooks updated customers on the recent developments: "Hey everyone! Just wanted to address today's news, but first--your questions, concerns, and fond memories of Kramerbooks (especially about first dates) mean so much to us, thank you! DON'T WORRY, WE ARE NOT CLOSING. We are considering a move. We are more committed now than ever to preserve & protect Kramers for another 50 years. Unfortunately, our landlord will not allow us to do so in Dupont Circle. We hope that the situation changes. We will continue to serve the community and keep you well read & well fed, no matter what changes come our way."

Macmillan, Hachette Offer New Terms to Help Indies

Macmillan is issuing promotional terms to help independent bookstores in the U.S. recover from the impacts of Covid-19 on the channel. Terms include additional discounting on all orders placed from June 1 to December 31, 2020; extended dating on orders placed through the end of the year; and a longer timeline for repayment of outstanding balances as of June 1, 2020.

Macmillan distribution publishers Bloomsbury, College Board, Guinness World Records (for 2020 and 2021 editions), Kingfisher, Macmillan Collectors Library, Media Lab, Page Street, Papercutz, Seven Seas, Sounds True and Wattpad will also participate in the promotional terms.

"Indies have always been reliable partners for highly personal book discovery and community engagement, which is why they were hit especially hard by Covid-19," said Jenn Gonzalez, executive v-p, trade sales for Macmillan. "As stores reopen, stores will need to balance immediate concerns around restoring business stability and safety protocols with existing priorities. These terms hopefully offer stores some leeway to help survive the pandemic and beyond."


Hachette Book Group is launching a program to assist independent bookstores in the U.S. and Canada. Components include elements to support stores recover from the impact of Covid-19 on their businesses, as well as elements to help in reopening and their ongoing business.

Alison Lazarus, executive v-p, director of sales, explained: "We know independent stores are grappling with a steep fall-off in business which has dramatically impacted their ability to pay staff and their bills. While they have worked to continue to serve their customers through curbside delivery, home delivery and online orders, their margins, their cash flow and their sales are nowhere near pre-pandemic levels. This program includes dating into 2021 for new orders, improved discount terms on current and future orders through 2020, a long-term timeline for stores to pay older invoices, and a freight offset credit for returning inventory that did not sell due to the pandemic. These terms are responding to business concerns that we have heard in discussions with the American Booksellers Association and our independent customers."

Lazarus emphasized that "the survival of independent stores is critical to our business, and to the communities that depend on these stores; these enhanced terms are one of the ways in which we, and the publishers we distribute... are working to ensure that independent stores survive and thrive."

Hachette's distribution clients include Abrams Books, Chronicle Books, Disney Book Group, Hachette UK, Kids Can Press, Lonely Planet, Moleskine, Octopus, Phaidon Press, Phoenix International, Quarto Publishing Group and Yen Press.

How Bookstores Are Coping: Reopening, Remodeling, Reluctant

Page & Palette in Fairhope, Ala., reopened last week with limited browsing. Bookseller Stephanie Crowe reported that for the past two months, the store was limited to curbside pick-up and deliveries. All of the store's staff was laid off in March, and only the store's owner was in-store doing pick-up and deliveries. Since reopening last week, the store has begun to rehire staff members, with Crowe working from home.

During the shut down, business was extremely slow, and all events have been canceled through May. Most of what's selling are new releases and puzzles. The store hasn't done many virtual events outside of a few Facebook Live events with local authors. The store received a PPP loan, which helped bring back some staff members. Initially, the rules were confusing and "seemed to change daily."

Crowe explained that normally the store is very events-driven, and they "really want to get back to having authors present." It's still unclear when Page & Palette will be able to have groups in store for events, and that's what Crowe is most concerned about. In the meantime, she and the Page & Palette team are looking at spaces in town that would be large enough to accommodate a sizable audience and still allow for social distancing.


Remodeling in progress at Maria's Bookshop

In Durango, Colo., Maria's Bookshop will remain closed, even as more and more businesses throughout the state reopen to customers. Co-owner Evan Schertz explained that the simplest reason for not reopening is that they began remodeling the store in early April while everything was shut down and haven't quite finished yet, with a new front counter still to be installed. 

But once the remodel is far enough along to allow for shopping, Schertz still plans to approach things very cautiously. The local health department has given stores a set of requirements Maria's will need to meet to reopen, and Schertz intends to exceed that safety level. He added: "As excited as we are to show off our remodel to customers, the priority is of course keeping staff and customers safe."

Schertz reported that his community has been extremely supportive of all the decisions the store has made so far. While customers are eager to get back to browsing, they understand and appreciate the process. They've rallied around Maria's Bookshop and other local businesses, and generally speaking, most people in the community are supportive of social-distancing restrictions.

Schertz said his staff has been "absolutely amazing through all of this." Between the remodel and being closed to browsing, every job position has been flipped on its head, and through it all the staff has "been nothing but enthusiastic and willing to jump in and learn new things."

Maria's Bookshop received a PPP loan early in the first round of distribution. Schertz was very proactive in the application process and his local bank was "very on top" of getting things moving. The PPP loan has been a life-saver, Schertz continued, and without it he doesn't know what he would have done. But the end of the eight weeks of funding is approaching, and he's concerned about what will happen when the money runs out. "After that, without more assistance, the future looks very bleak."


Georgie Court, owner of Bookstore1Sarasota in Sarasota, Fla., said she has not reopened the store for browsing and is not sure when that will happen. Covid-19 cases continue to rise in Sarasota County and while the numbers aren't especially high, there have been no signs of things leveling off. When it comes to letting shoppers back into her store, Court added, she will be "following science and not politics."

Next week Court plans to open her store for side-door pick-up. Her store is not set up for curbside pick-up as it is located in the city's downtown restaurant district, with no available parking spaces on the curb. Court and her team will continue to sell books over the phone and online.

Part of her hesitation in reopening the store, Court continued, is due to the community her store is in. She described it as "very Trumpy," and reported that when the governor partially opened restaurants and other businesses last week, "people raced into the restaurants, making no effort to social distance, certainly not wearing masks." There is a "serious political divide" in her community between those who wear masks and those who don't. Wearing one, she said, "means you are an Obama-loving liberal," and not wearing one is "a 'badge of honor' that you believe in the Trump way." Court does not want to reopen and have confrontations with people who refuse to wear masks in the store.

Court said her staff is doing fine. All who want to work have continued to do so and get paid, and those who are at greater risk are working from home. Over the past several weeks, they've upgraded the store's website and online store, and reorganized the physical store. Court received a PPP loan and said she was "shepherded" through the process by her local bank. Even though she applied immediately, however, she had to wait for the second round of money.

Obituary Note: Kathy Rodgers

Bookseller Kathy Rodgers, "an avid reader with an incredible talent (superpower) and the uncanny ability to recommend the perfect book," died May 11. She was 67. 

"We are heartbroken to share that our beloved staff member, Kathy, passed away after a courageous battle with cancer," Browseabout Books, Rehoboth Beach, Del., posted on Facebook. "Kathy was named New Atlantic Independent Booksellers Association Handseller of the Year for her 'superpower' of finding the perfect book for any reader. We'll miss her smile, her sense of humor, her love of books, and her 'mother hen' role for many of our younger staff. Our heartfelt condolences go out to her husband, Joe, her two children, and granddaughters."


Image of the Day: Inkwood Bookseller's Book Signing

Inkwood Books, Haddonfield, N.J., celebrated the publication of bookseller Amy Rebecca Tan's middle-grade novel, Summer at Meadow Wood (HarperCollins). The store wrote: "When your very own bookseller's new novel comes out during a pandemic, you arrange for safe pickup and signing, and then surprise her with treats and a socially distanced visit! Congratulations Amy!! We are proud to have Summer at Meadow Wood on our shelves and excited to get it into kids’ hands." Inkwood is closed to browsing, but is doing shipping and curbside pick-up from its new location.

Kidlit Coronavirus-fighting Ideas

Even as the country begins to open up after weeks of shelter-in-place orders, children and teens remain strongly affected by the closings of schools, camps and group activities. Beyond the large number of virtual graduation ceremonies, people in a variety of fields are also producing content for youth.

Filmmaker Taika Waititi will retell James and the Giant Peach in 10 episodes on the Roald Dahl YouTube channel. Celebrities such as Lupita Nyong'o, Meryl Streep, Ryan Reynolds, Cate Blanchett and Chris and Liam Hemsworth will all read portions of the novel from their homes. New episodes will post every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

Drag queen Nina West, known for competing on RuPaul's Drag Race, has been holding picture book story times on YouTube Live and Facebook.

Mondays with Michelle Obama, the new "story-time initiative for kids and families" from Penguin Young Readers, Random House Children's Books and PBS KIDS featuring the former First Lady of the United States, is being posted weekly. Former President Barack Obama joined her on Monday, May 18, to read The Bear Ate Your Sandwich by Julia Sarcone-Roach, and the family's Portuguese water dogs Sunny and Bo will join her on Monday, May 25, to read Can I Be Your Dog? by Troy Cummings. Activities, tips and resources are available at, while companion literacy resources can be found on

Mac Barnett

Jason Reynolds, in his role as National Ambassador for Young Peoples Literature, is connecting with youth through his GRAB THE MIC: Tell Your Story platform. He is also using his Instagram to engage with readers, inviting them to do "brain yoga" along with him. Mac Barnett's "Mac's Book Club" is going strong, with nearly 50 episodes available on his Instagram. He has also created "Mac's Book Club Show" hats, with all sales going to benefit the Book Industry Charitable Foundation (Binc). Palmer Public Library Youth Services in Palmer, Mass., is continuing its series of videos with author/illustrator David Hyde Costello that invite child participation.

Tuttle has been working closely with the Asia Society and many of its children's authors to celebrate Asian and Pacific Islander American Heritage Month. This includes author Katie Chin's Cooped Up Cooking with Katie shows and an upcoming story time with author Phuoc Tran. --Siân Gaetano, children's and YA editor, Shelf Awareness

Wheatberry Books Named 'Resilient Ohio Business'

Wheatberry Books in Chillicothe was one of three companies selected for this month's Ohio Business Spotlight, an initiative designed to highlight strong businesses that can serve as examples of the state's economic potential.

Secretary of State Frank LaRose noted that the Covid-19 pandemic has been a significant challenge to businesses across the country, but many Ohio entrepreneurs are finding ways to adapt. He described the featured businesses as "shining examples of Ohioans' strength."

Although Wheatberry Books is temporarily closed, the store has not ceased operations, offering safe alternatives like online ordering and no-contact pickup, as well as a virtual storytime for children.

"This pandemic has certainly been a challenging time, but Ohioans have proven again and again their creativity and resilience," LaRose said. "Ohio's entrepreneurs have remained strong, finding ways to adapt amid these challenging circumstances and even find ways to give back."

Ingram Academic to Distribute Bristol University Press

Ingram Academic Services will provide distribution, sales and academic marketing services in the U.S., Canada, Latin America, and the Caribbean for Bristol University Press, effective in August.

Bristol University Press and its Policy Press imprint publish peer-reviewed work in the social sciences and aligned disciplines with flagship lists in sociology, criminology, social policy and social justice and growing lists in business and management, law, politics and international relations; science, technology and society, and economics.

Alison Shaw, CEO of the Bristol University Press, said, "As BUP rapidly expands its publishing of high-quality social science scholarship and social commentary, extending our international reach is fundamental to our goals. Ingram will provide us with the dedicated marketing, sales and distribution services to do this comprehensively and effectively."

Kurt Hettler, director of Ingram Academic Services, said, "Our wide distribution network and integrated print on demand services, together with our extensive sales and marketing offerings, will help their titles find more readers than ever before."

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Barton Gellman on Fresh Air

Fresh Air: Barton Gellman, author of Dark Mirror: Edward Snowden and the American Surveillance State (Penguin Press, $30, 9781594206016).

Ellen: Marlo Thomas and Phil Donahue, authors of What Makes a Marriage Last: 40 Celebrated Couples Share with Us the Secrets to a Happy Life (HarperOne, $29.99, 9780062982582).

Tamron Hall: André Leon Talley, author of The Chiffon Trenches: A Memoir (Ballantine, $28, 9780593129258).

The Talk: Glennon Doyle, author of Untamed (The Dial Press, $28, 9781984801258).

TV: A Treachery of Spies

Producer David Barron (Harry Potter, Cinderella) "is lining up his first long form TV drama" with an adaptation of the novel A Treachery of Spies by Manda Scott, Deadline reported. Barron's BeaglePug production company and Enriched Media "have secured all TV, film and ancillary rights to the bestseller and the companies say they are in talks with U.S. and U.K. players for the TV rights."

A Treachery of Spies, the second of Scott's espionage thriller trilogy featuring Detective Inspector Inès Picaut, was first published by Transworld in 2018 and won the prestigious Mcilvanney Prize for Best Crime Novel in 2019.

"Seeing the impact of the crime through the eyes of Inès, an ordinary woman with unique skills, only highlights how extraordinary the events were," said Barron. "I'm thrilled to be adapting this wholly distinctive piece of European IP for the global market."

"During these increasingly challenging and difficult times, we're more aware than ever of the importance of innovative storytelling," Enriched Media Group producer and co-founder Mick Southworth added. "Manda Scott's painstaking and thorough research has enabled her to create a gripping, thrill-packed drama with a unique female protagonist solving a crime through two distinct historical periods and takes a close look at the world not dissimilar from our own through the history, the players, the victories and the spoils."

Books & Authors

Awards: NYPL Young Lions Fiction Shortlist

The New York Public Library released a shortlist for the $10,000 Young Lions Fiction Award, presented annually to an American writer 35 years old or younger for either a novel or a collection of short stories. This year's finalists are:

Your House Will Pay by Steph Cha
Disappearing Earth by Julia Phillips
Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid
Home Remedies by Xuan Juliana Wang
Lot by Bryan Washington

Reading with... François S. Clemmons

photo: Vincent Jones

François S. Clemmons received a Bachelor of Music degree from Oberlin College, and a Master of Fine Arts from Carnegie Mellon University. He also received an honorary Doctor of Arts degree from Middlebury College. In 1973, he won a Grammy for a recording of Porgy and Bess; in 1986, he founded and directed the Harlem Spiritual Ensemble; and from 1997 until his retirement in 2013, Clemmons was the Alexander Twilight Artist in Residence and director of the Martin Luther King Spiritual Choir at Middlebury College in Vermont, where he currently resides. He is perhaps best known for his appearances as the singing police officer, Officer Clemmons, on the PBS television series Mister Rogers' Neighborhood. Officer Clemmons: A Memoir was published by Catapult on May 5, 2020.

On your nightstand now:

I admit that I've kept a galley of Officer Clemmons: A Memoir there ever since I received it in the mail!

Favorite book when you were a child:

I absolutely loved Five Smooth Stones by Ann Fairbairn, about a young black boy in Depression-era New Orleans who suffers great hardship in his life in order to become a leader of the civil rights movement. I read that book over and over again.

Your top five authors:

Commanding and beautiful black voices like James Baldwin, Lucille Clifton, Toni Morrison, Alice Walker, Maya Angelou... and Langston Hughes. That's six, but I can't possibly leave him out!

Book you've faked reading:

Harry Potter. I know, I know, but I just didn't have the time to read them when the series became so popular, and I never picked them up later.

Book you're an evangelist for:

A People's History of the United States by Howard Zinn. Zinn is the real deal--I recommended his book to my students every year. It revolutionized the way American history can be taught and discussed.

Book you've bought for the cover:

Becoming by Michelle Obama. I absolutely adore Michelle. She is such an inspiring woman, and the photo on her memoir speaks to her strength as well as her warmth.

Book you hid from your parents:

The Persian Boy by Mary Renault as well as Giovanni's Room by James Baldwin because it was before I could ever explain to my parents why I wanted to read novels with gay characters. I didn't have the courage to tell them as a young man because I was certain that they would have met my confession with disgust and derision.

Book that changed your life:

Up from Slavery by Booker T. Washington inspired me tremendously. Washington has always been one of my heroes and he made me realize that if he could rise up from his terrible beginnings and make such an impact on the world, then maybe I could rise, too.

Favorite line from a book:

My favorite line actually comes from an opera called The Consul by Gian Carlo Menotti: "Even a great, great artist must find a way to make a living." Nothing has quite resonated more for me!

Five books you'll never part with:

The Bible because it has so much adventure, spirituality and the most gorgeous poetry you would ever want to read. I relate deeply to the beautiful Song of Solomon as well as the Anointing of David, and the story of Elijah. I've always been particularly drawn to the Old Testament.

The Little Prince, although I do gift copies from time to time. I enjoy that, at its heart, it is a story about relationships and how people care for one another. I think it is also an interesting metaphor for my experience in the gay community. Like the fox in the story, many do not wish to be "tamed." There is a fear in getting too close and accepting real love.

The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran speaks about spiritual freedom, and I find the thought of that kind of freedom to be simply amazing. The notion that I belonged to myself and not anyone else was revelatory. It showed me that I had the right to make my own decisions.

Roots by Alex Haley is very important to me because it gave an affirmative and positive feeling about being an African American. It is easy to feel disconnected in this country from Africa, but Roots had a very vital and organic connection with Africa that was palpable. Many African Americans feel like our beginnings began with slavery in this country and it didn't--our ancestry has pride and respect and honor in Africa.

The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin showed the importance of activism. It helped me find my place in the world and showed me that my art wasn't quite enough--that singing a song didn't quite cut it. Baldwin gave me a roadmap for how to be an activist.

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

Jubilee by Margaret Walker. It's essentially a black version of Gone with the Wind and has been described as "the first truly historical black American novel." I found it incredibly representative, powerful and relatable.

Book Review

Children's Review: Our Favorite Day of the Year

Our Favorite Day of the Year by A.E. Ali, illus. by Rahele Jomepour Bell (Salaam Reads/Simon & Schuster, $17.99 hardcover, 40p., ages 4-8, 9781481485630, June 30, 2020)

Gorgeously inviting illustrations and a joyful theme will likely make Our Favorite Day of the Year kindergarten classrooms' favorite book of the year.

Four boys--Musa, Moisés, Mo and Kevin--start kindergarten as strangers sitting at the same table, but by sharing their respective cultures, they become best friends. For show-and-tell throughout the year, students take turns telling their classmates about their favorite day of the year, including pronunciations, special foods and their familial or cultural traditions. Musa, a Muslim, talks warmly about Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of the Islamic month-long fast of Ramadan. Mo describes how he celebrates Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. Moisés exuberantly shares his love for Las Posadas, the Latin American holiday celebrated in the days leading up to Christmas. And Kevin explains how his family observes Pi Day, the nontraditional holiday that celebrates math and science on March 14 (3.14). For each of the boys' contributions, a two-page spread shows him in the classroom, props and decorations all around and a rapt audience of his classmates. Another spread displays the family's celebration, as narrated by the boy. At the end of every show-and-tell is the refrain: "Everyone could see why [the celebration] was [this boy's] favorite."

Illustrations by Iranian-born Rahele Jomepour Bell (Playdate by Maryann Macdonald), using digital brushes and scanned hand-printed textures, are a riot of color and patterns. Lush depictions of piñatas, challah, flowers, costumes and even a homemade baking soda volcano inspire long and careful perusal, while the happy faces of children bear out the idea that sharing differences can bring people together. Bell's illustrations also signal rich diversity among the friends. Mo appears to have two dads, as well as a sister of a different ethnic background. Kevin's science-loving parents look to be of different ethnicities. Musa's Muslim community, meeting in front of his beautiful mosque, seems to represent a variety of cultural backgrounds. And a tapestry of images evoking cultural and spiritual symbols from around the world lines the endpapers.

Author A.E. Ali does an excellent job of having the children describe their favorite days in an accurate but developmentally appropriate way, with emphasis on the things young readers will be most interested in--food, presents, decorations, family togetherness. The comforting repeating pattern of children taking their turns in show-and-tell helps young readers anticipate what will come next. This lovely book is the consummate first day read for preschool or kindergarten. --Emilie Coulter, freelance writer and editor

Shelf Talker: Tremendously appealing artwork and kid-friendly descriptions portray the "favorite day of the year" for four kindergartners from different cultural backgrounds who are destined to become friends.

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