Shelf Awareness for Tuesday, June 9, 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

'Real Dollars for Real People in Real Communities'

"This is one of my favorite and well-worn pieces of clothing, purchased from a special place called @thelitbar. The Lit. Bar is the only independent bookstore in the Bronx. She's probably going to make it. She's a badass, a self-starter, a PR maven, a mover and a shaker. But I'm worried about other small businesses in the Bronx. Those run by people who don't have that extra dollar, who don't have the resources to make reopening happen, for whom English isn't a first language to fill out all these forms for reopening or won't get PPP loans, or those businesses that were barely hanging on in these neighborhoods before corona hit. Who don't have access to bank loans, or customer support because their customers don't have extra cash, or those businesses who already had crushing debt. So, if you marched in a protest this weekend, or donated to a bail assistance program, or posted #blm please consider also thinking deeper than the police brutality issue and talk about the system of racism and inequality that seeps through all layers of society. The racial inequality that also creates an injustice in the food systems, neighborhoods with no grocery stores who depend on their little bodegas, in keeping small businesses down, to the inequality of education, opportunity and political systems that all keep a knee on the neck of people just trying to make it. Check out @bxreliefeffort and send them some cash too. Real dollars for real people in real communities not so far from home."

--Gretchen Menzies, co-owner of Little Joe's Books, Katonah, N.Y., in a Facebook post yesterday

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


Day of Solidarity in the Publishing Industry

Yesterday, at least 1,300 publishing professionals started their workdays by informing their managers that they would be using their personal or vacation time in solidarity with protestors of racial injustice, as part of a collective using the hashtags #PubWorkers4Justice and #PubWorkers4BlackLives, that coordinated the "June 8 Day of Solidarity" event.

Participants were asked to post an out-of-office message and use this language on social media:

"Today, June 8, 2020, workers in publishing and media commit to a day of action in solidarity with the uprisings across the United States in response to the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, and the many, many others in the long history of Black people murdered by the state.

"We protest our industry's role in systemic racism, its failure to hire and retain a significant number of Black employees or publish a significant number of Black authors, and its pursuit of profit through books that incite racism.

"We stand together against the systems of white supremacy and racial capitalism that legislate these murders and today refuse to participate in complicity. And we dedicate this day to acts of service towards that end (protesting, phone-banking, donating, providing mutual aid, working on books by Black authors). As BIPOC and allies, we also set this day aside for Black publishing workers to rest and heal. If you stand in support of the cause, consider a donation to one of the many fundraisers providing material support to the grieving families and the protesters out on the streets."

The five organizers--four BIPOC and a white colleague--said they began the effort "after processing the statements delivered by the Big Five publishers regarding the current moment in this nation's racist history. We've had enough experience with corporate Diversity & Inclusion initiatives to know that they are largely toothless and built on a top-down model that ultimately benefits only a very select few and often exploits marginalized workers. An effort to build collective power, we realized, was in order."

The Day of Solidarity drew people from across publishing, media, literary agencies and bookselling, and resonated in the industry.

"It's really moving and inspiring to see so many colleagues, especially younger ones, putting themselves on the line to bring necessary change to our industry," said Michael Pietsch, CEO of Hachette Book Group. "Their concerns are real, and they are correct that we have moved much too slowly."

Pietsch added that Hachette has made several donations to justice organizations and will make that the focus of its future charitable work; is expanding its Unconscious Bias Training; accelerating its Equity and Inclusion training; and will take other significant actions shortly that are aimed at increasing tracking and transparency "on more measurable and specific goals."

Penguin Random House sent a letter from its U.S. board to staff yesterday morning that said, in part, "Like you, we have taken time over these last days to reflect and to listen, and to further identify how we can effect meaningful and lasting change in our company and in our society." In addition to committing to the Equal Justice Initiative, the board said the company was adding to its annual donation to We Need Diverse Books and expanding its partnership with it to become the inaugural sponsor of the Black Creatives Fund, a three-tiered approach to encourage black voices in "all stages of the publishing pipeline."

The company also noted its historic role in publishing "groundbreaking Black authors whose words are exactly those that readers and society at large are reaching for today: Ralph Ellison, James Baldwin, Maya Angelou, Malcolm X, Toni Morrison, Bryan Stevenson, Jacqueline Woodson, Ta-Nehisi Coates, and Ibram X. Kendi are just a few of those whose books you support and who are continuing to change lives every day. But our company and our industry haven't published enough works by authors of color. We can, and must, do much more, and in particular, we must live up to our goal of publishing books for all readers."

Yesterday, the Day of Solidarity organizers said, "Now that we have acted together as a group, we must press forward. We must develop a wider, more representative base of organizers and use the collective power we have summoned today to institute real change in our industry and beyond. We can pressure publishers to stop publishing racist books. We can make our industry safer and more welcoming for Black people. We can build structures outside of the corporate publishing world that support Black workers and creators and put the force of collective power behind existing initiatives and groups that are currently leading publishing in anti-racist action."

People interested in learning more about the organization can register here. --Bridget Kinsella Tiernan

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

Tattered Cover Issues 'Unqualified and Unequivocal Apology'

Len Vlahos and Kristen Gilligan, owners of the Tattered Cover Book Store, Denver Colo., yesterday issued "an unqualified and unequivocal apology" to customers, staff and others for a statement the store issued on Saturday, June 6, that received thousands of negative comments on social media and elsewhere. "We are horrified at having violated your trust. We deserve your outrage and disappointment."

In the Saturday statement, the owners said, in part: "Black Lives Matter. We agree with, embrace, and believe that black lives matter. We reject the statement 'All Lives Matter' as an either valid or helpful response.... We stand in solidarity with our black friends and neighbors, and grieve the senseless and brutal loss of life; not just of George Floyd and other recent victims, but of all lives lost from centuries of oppression and abuse. We believe there must be systemic change. We believe this with all our hearts."

Saying there are areas in which Tattered Cover can and will "do better in regard to the things that make our bookstores strong and relevant," the owners committed to carrying and promoting a wider diversity of books, scheduling more diverse author events and "finally, we pledge to you, our customers, and to our staff, that we can and will continue to hire and promote employees from as wide a diversity of backgrounds as possible. That we will do our best to take measurable steps to ensure our staff is reflective of the entire community."

The part of the statement many found objectionable was the explanation for the store's relative silence about the protests that have occurred since the murder of George Floyd.

"So why have we been quiet?" they wrote. "First, we think this is a time for voices other than ours to be heard. As a white-owned business, with a predominantly white staff, we feel this is a time for us to take a step back, to allow others to command more and greater attention. More significant, though, is our nearly 50-year policy of not engaging in public debate. For Tattered Cover to shout this from the rooftops, to drape our spaces with banners proclaiming these simple and unalterable truths, would be anathema to a different principle that we also hold dear, and one that is central, we believe, to the role of an independent bookstore.

"Our value to the community is to provide a place where access to ideas, and the free exchange of ideas, can happen in an uninhibited way. It's not for us to determine which ideas in the pages on our shelves are valid and which are not. We leave that to you, our readers."

They went on to recount several major issues over the past decades on which Tattered Cover did not take a public position, which angered many. Those included hosting an event for gun-rights advocate Ted Nugent not long after the Columbine mass killing, as well as taking no stand on the Defense of Marriage Act when it was passed by Congress and then overturned by the Supreme Court or on Denver's "urban camping" ban.

The statement called taking public positions "a slippery slope. If Tattered Cover puts its name and weight either behind, or in opposition to, one idea, members of our community will have an expectation that we must do the same for all ideas. Engaging in public debate is not, we believe, how Tattered Cover has been and can be of greatest value to our community." 

In yesterday's apology, the owners said they're changing their approach: "Tattered Cover will no longer stand by while human rights are being violated. To be silent is to be complicit, to be neutral in the face of injustice is an act of injustice itself. The passionate and thoughtful responses from you, our customers, and from our staff, have helped us learn that the policy of non-engagement is wrong-headed. We pledge that we will listen to and learn from our community and staff, and use Tattered Cover's voice as a force for good and positive change.

"An apology is only a first step. We know we will be judged going forward by our words and our deeds, and we accept and embrace that. We will demonstrate through actions that these words are not hollow. We will listen to our staff, educate ourselves, and work with different organizations in the community to help us chart a path forward....

"There must be systemic change at the local, state, and national level. Tattered Cover will be part of this change, and we will hold ourselves accountable to our ever evolving community."

The Bookman in Michigan Crowdfunding

The Bookman, Grand Haven, Mich., has launched a GoFundMe campaign that has raised about $4,200 toward its goal of $40,000. Owner Alexa McGuinness noted that since the store's opening in 1974, it "has faced a number of obstacles: fire, big box stores, Amazon, and ownership change. Even with these setbacks, the Bookman has remained a trusted community resource.... And then came Covid-19. All our plans and projections went out the window as the pandemic redefined what is and is not essential. Like so many other businesses, the Bookman was forced to close.

"Without walk-in traffic from mid-March through the end of May, we were unable to cover the cost of rent, payroll, utilities and other expenses. The CARES Act and the Paycheck Protection Program provided some help; however, they don't compensate for sales losses during the shut down and won't cover sales lost due to the cancellation of Coast Guard Festival and other summer events. In fact, Covid-19 presents the biggest financial challenge in our 45-year history, and we need your help to recover from it." The Bookman was able to reopen recently for appointment-only shopping.

The bookstore's founder, Jim Dana, who went on to be the first executive director of the Great Lakes Independent Booksellers Association before retiring in 2010 to pursue other interests, posted a message of support on his Facebook page: "When I founded the Bookman nearly 46 years ago, one of my reasons was simply that I thought a bookstore was an essential community resource and Grand Haven did not have one. Now, the business closures forced as a response to the Covid-19 pandemic imperil the store's existence. The current (4th!) owner of store, Alexa McGuinness, makes the same point I did--that it's an essential community resource--as she creates this GoFundMe page to help it weather the loss in business caused by pandemic. I hope you'll join me and make a donation to help assure its future."

International Update: Waterstones' Staff Calls for BLM Support; Covid-19 Bookstore Comebacks

In response to an online petition set up by Waterstones' booksellers calling for the chain to make a charitable donation to the Black Lives Matter movement, COO Kate Skipper said that although the firm was "committed to delivering considered and meaningful change," it was not yet in a position to make a donation due to Covid-19 closures, though that would be reviewed, the Bookseller reported.

An open letter from Waterstones staff and customers to managing director James Daunt said the company "had an all-time record breaking day for online sales and traffic last week, with the top nine bestsellers all either written by black authors or about race," the Bookseller noted. It called for donations to be distributed to funds including Black Visions Collective, Emergency Release Fund, the Bail Project and BLMUK, adding: "However, this support for the Black community should not be a one off opportunity and must take the form of an ongoing allyship, such as offering Black authors residencies and scholarships; opportunities that are currently denied to them."

The booksellers also wrote: "We are so excited that these important and fundamental books are flying off our shelves and finding needed and necessary homes. However, we don't think it is enough to just sell these books and tweet our support for the Black Lives Matter movement anymore. We feel it is essential that we also pledge our support to the BLM movement with action, financial aid and resources."

Skipper responded by thanking the emplyees for their suggestions and said the firm was committed to delivering positive change and needs to ensure diversity existed in its books and employees, the Bookseller wrote. Describing the booksellers' request as "an excellent idea," she added: "Now, however, all our shops have been closed since March 23 and the great majority of our employees are on furlough. The pressure on the business is unprecedented and extreme. With the best will in the world, we are not in a position to make a charitable donation at present, however much we would like to do so."

Currently Waterstones anticipates reopening many of its shops June 15. Skipper said the company hopes "business returns to normal relatively quickly. Once it has done so, we can review our ability to support charitable initiatives and are exploring ways to make this possible."


In Singapore, Kenny Leck, owner of BooksActually, told the New Paper that since the Covid-19 crisis, sales have fallen by more than 50%, though he has not laid off any workers and is focusing on growing his online sales.

"It's been a good exercise," he said. "We have been online for years and should have been uploading books for sale regularly, but there was no impetus.... Our target demographic are very comfortable buying online to begin with. Those who used to buy from the bookstore have switched to buying online this circuit breaker."

William Phuan, executive director of Singapore Book Council, said many bookstores have adapted and boosted e-commerce activity quickly, but online sales are not able to make up for the loss of in-store sales, the New Paper wrote. "It's a new normal now, he said. It will have to be an effective mix of (online and offline) approaches, and bookstores will have to find the sweet spot so that their customers will want to keep returning."


Chinese bookseller Cheng Lei, owner of Land at Ease in Wuhan, had zero income during the 76 days of enforced closure after the city went into lockdown on January 23, CGTN reported.

Calling himself a survivor of the epidemic, Cheng said his bookstore's existence has always been precarious and its survival has been rendered even more uncertain by the coronavirus, but he remains philosophical about the future: "I never wondered how long we'd last. But I'll work hard till the last minute, like a soldier who'd fall in the attack."


'Propped Up & Under Construction': Well Read Books

"Anybody else feeling a little propped up and under construction lately?" asked Well Read Books, Fulton, Mo., in a recent Facebook post. "Don't worry, our storefront is going to be just fine (simple repairs due to renovation), but are you? We've spent a lot of time the last few weeks reevaluating things, and we've come out the other side just like a butterfly--the same inside, but a little different. Just as pro-black, pro-queer, pro-non-binary, pro-feminism, pro-burn down the patriarchy as ever before. We live in a post-pandemic world (fingers crossed), and the winds of change and revolution have been blowing in our ears. We love you, Fulton. We're gonna ask you to come along with us and grow in a different direction--don't fret! We'll hold your hand all the way through."

Bookstore Window: Penguin Bookshop

Penguin Bookshop, Sewickley, Pa., shared a photo capturing a late-day shadow message in the store's front window: "7 p.m. sunset is beautiful and helps to double down on our message that on-line ordering is still welcome! Customers are telling us that they never before realized how convenient it is. If you want to see our smiling faces, you can choose inside pick-up. Browsing, of course, is welcome and now available (masks required) as well as outside bench pick-up and home delivery in the local area...."

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Stacey Abrams on CBS This Morning

CBS This Morning: Stacey Abrams, author of Our Time Is Now: Power, Purpose, and the Fight for a Fair America (Holt, $27.99, 9781250257703).

The View: Symone Sanders, author of No, You Shut Up: Speaking Truth to Power and Reclaiming America (Harper, $26.99, 9780062942685).

TV: Cara Hunter's D.I. Adam Fawley

Fremantle's U.K. production firm Castlefield has acquired the TV rights to Cara Hunter's bestselling crime novels, featuring Detective Inspector Adam Fawley. Deadline reported that the company has yet to find a home for the adaptation, but is developing a series based on Hunter's four books, Close to Home, In the Dark, No Way Out and All the Rage.

Hunter said: "I've always 'seen' the Fawley books play out in my head as I write them, and the style I developed for them was a deliberate attempt to replicate the feel and pace of the best TV crime--the short scenes, the fast pace, and the changing points of view."

Books & Authors

Awards: RSL Christopher Bland Shortlist

A shortlist has been released for the £10,000 (about $12,670) RSL Christopher Bland Prize, which honors "a debut writer of fiction or nonfiction whose first work was published when they were aged 50 or over." The winner will be announced July 2. This year's shortlisted titles are:

When All Is Said by Anne Griffin
Clean by Michele Kirsch
Black Tea by Stephen Morris
War Doctor: Surgery on the Front Line by David Nott
Self-Portrait by Celia Paul

Book Review

Review: One to Watch

One to Watch by Kate Stayman-London (Dial Press, $17 paperback, 432p., 9780525510444, July 7, 2020)

In Kate Stayman-London's smart, snappy first novel, One to Watch, a lovable and complex heroine sets out to bring an extra dash of "real" to reality television but could lose her heart in the process. 

Thirty-year-old plus-size fashionista Bea Schumacher's style blog OMBea clocks millions of views per month, and half a million followers keep up with her on Instagram. One night, after watching the season premiere of America's favorite reality dating show The Main Squeeze, Bea writes a snarkily passionate blog post calling the show out for its " 'appalling' lack of racial diversity, its 'perplexing' erasure of queerness, and... its 'abject refusal to include any woman who wears above a size 4.' " When the post strikes a nerve and goes viral, the show's newly promoted executive producer Lauren recruits Bea as the next Main Squeeze, the sought-after love interest of 25 eligible men.

Bea balks at first. She's still broken-hearted over a painful betrayal by a close friend and longtime crush, as well as reluctant to open herself up to the public backlash she knows a size-20 dating show star will receive. When she does accept, she warns Lauren that she wants only the publicity and will not become emotionally invested in the contestants. At first, her experience is as awkward and insulting as she feared, but she's also surprised to find herself interested in a few of the men. Over time, she becomes attached to kind farm boy Wyatt, grumpy professor Asher, free-spirited volunteer Sam, and sexy French chef Luc. If she's going to find her happily ever after, though, Bea will have to face the possibility that keeping up a wall around her heart may hold her back instead of protecting her.

While The Main Squeeze is transparently patterned after ABC's iconic franchise The Bachelor, complete with hometown dates and fantasy suites, this rom-com is no simple work of fan fiction. Stayman-London tells her story from inside and out, through Bea's point of view combined with realistic blog and tabloid articles, tweets and online fan group conversations. Bea's journey shines a bright spotlight on the treatment of plus-size women in fashion, entertainment and social media, but the character shows beautifully that women are more than their dress sizes. Creative, intelligent and vulnerable, Bea brings depth and emotion to a story purposely set in a shallow environment. Whether readers loathe or adore reality TV, this unconventional love story deserves the final rose. --Jaclyn Fulwood, blogger at Infinite Reads

Shelf Talker: A plus-size fashion blogger takes a reality dating show by storm in this funny, romantic debut.

The Bestsellers

Top-Selling Self-Published Titles

The bestselling self-published books last week as compiled by

1. Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert T. Kiyosaki and Sharon L. Lechter
2. You Belong With Me by Kristen Proby
3. Chasin's Surrender (Gemini Group Book 5) by Riley Edwards
4. Maliki (Guardian Defenders Book 2) by Kris Michaels
5. Queen Move by Kennedy Ryan
6. The Silencer Series Box Set Books 1-4 by Mike Ryan
7. Warrior's Resolve (Iron Horse Legacy Book 5) by Elle James
8. Loving Violet (Rockers' Legacy Book 4) by Terri Anne Browning
9. Like Some Old Country Song by SJ McCoy
10. Unreported Truths about COVID-19 and Lockdowns: Part 1 by Alex Berenson

[Many thanks to!]

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