Shelf Awareness for Tuesday, June 30, 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


Out of Print-ABA Literary Masks in Bookstores Next Week

A line of face masks from Out of Print, the Penguin Random House company that creates book-centric apparel and accessory items, and the American Booksellers Association has been the biggest new-product launch in Out of Print's 10-year history.

The seven Out of Print Literary Masks, a mix of licensed book art and original designs, which were available for pre-order in late June, sold more than 13,000 in their first week. They are available at and will begin selling at bookstores nationwide next week for $12 each. A portion of each sale is being donated to the Book Industry Charitable Foundation (Binc) to assist bookstores affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The three most popular masks have been "The Pigeon," based on art from the Mo Willems book; and "Bookshelf" and "Banned Books," both OOP original designs. Others in the series are "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy," inspired by the Douglas Adams novel; "Book Nerd," an OOP + Underlined collaboration; "Curl Up with a Book," an OOP original design; and "Books, Books, Books," an OOP + Penguin Teen collaboration.

The project began in April when the ABA contacted OOP seeking masks that were book-themed for store staff and readers. The opportunity to keep booksellers, and their customers, protected and safe, while prominently showing their connection to books, was exciting and motivating, said Todd Lawton, managing director and co-founder, with Jeff LeBlanc, of the company.

ABA CEO Allison Hill observed, "Out of Print has always been a great partner to the indies and a great example of blending social responsibility with business. ABA is excited about this launch and very grateful for Out of Print's support of Binc."

Since its founding in 2010 and continuing after its purchase by PRH in 2017, Out of Print has made social responsibility and giving back financially a core tenet of its business model and philosophy, the company said. Recently, for example, the company donated 100% of its profits from its sales on June 2--$50,000--to Black Lives Matter. It also collaborated again with author Mo Willems on a "Take Heart" Covid-19 Benefit T-shirt created from an illustration of his, with 100% of the profits donated to World Central Kitchen to support emergency workers and pandemic-stricken communities.  Over the past decade, OOP has donated more than four million books to the underserved.

"We believe in the transformative power of books," Lawton said. "Our products enable readers to proudly show the world their love of reading and their connectivity to favorite authors, as they bring their work to the attention of a wider audience."

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

Duende District, The Word Launch BIPOC Bookseller Award

Nominations are open for the Duende-Word BIPOC Bookseller award, a new annual award meant to celebrate and boost Black, Indigenous and People of Color booksellers and their work.

The award is a partnership between Duende District Bookstore and The Word, a nonprofit organization working to build an inclusive publishing community. It comes with a $700 prize and will be awarded at a virtual awards ceremony in August as part of [margins.], a conference for writers from marginalized backgrounds. 

BIPOC who work in U.S. independent bookstores in any capacity are eligible to be nominated for the award. There are three categories--activism, innovation and leadership--and a bookseller can be nominated for multiple categories. 

The Activism award is for a bookseller who "goes above and beyond to advocate for Black and Brown booksellers and literary representation" both in their stores and communities. The Innovation award will be given to a bookseller "whose vision, whether entrepreneurial or programmatic, has shown us what the future of the industry should be." And the Leadership award will go to the bookseller who has dedicated their career to "supporting, uplifting and leading Black and Brown booksellers," as well as fighting for systemic change in the industry.

"BIPOC are severely underrepresented among booksellers, no different from the rest of the industry, and so this can be a trying and lonely road," said Viniyanka Prasad, executive director and founder of The Word. "With this award we are offering a special and long overdue thank you; we are making more space for these creatives to be truly seen."

Prasad explained that the new award is just one piece of a partnership between Duende District and The Word. A few years ago, Prasad and Duende founder Angela Maria Spring realized their respective visions and programming were perfect complements, and they've been "laying many seeds since."

"A large part of Duende's mission is to uplift, amplify and center Black and Brown booksellers," said Spring, "and our partnership with The Word for Diversity has enabled us to do that beyond the bookstore's walls, much like our store model."

Spring and Prasad hope to grow the award each year with the "support of the entire bookselling and publishing communities, so we can continue to shine the light on all the brilliant work BIPOC booksellers do on a daily basis."

Said Prasad: "As the bookselling industry struggles with the many limitations that underlie its lack of representation, it is important to center voices from within marginalized communities to guide us to a richer future."

Nominations are open today through July 17.

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

New Walls of Books Location Coming to Milledgeville, Ga.

A new Walls of Books will open in Milledgeville, Ga., on Monday, July 6, 13WMAZ reported. The new and used bookstore is a franchise of Gottwals Books and will carry some 43,000 books at opening, according to store owner Scott Mcelheney.

Mcelheney said he'll sell and trade new and used books, and customers will have the option to trade in their books for store credit. He'll carry a variety of resources for teachers and will buy back textbooks, and he plans to host storytime sessions for kids as well as author signings.

Hand sanitizer will be available throughout the store, there will be barriers at the checkout counter, and bookcases have been set up to allow for ample distance while browsing.

"I am very happy to be bringing a bookstore back to Milledgeville and I really hope that there are a lot of people out there that feel the same way I do," Mcelheney told 13WMAZ. He added that his plans have gotten "a lot of buzz" on Facebook.

How Bookstores Are Coping: 'More a Warehouse than Bookstore'; 'Lifting Marginalized Voices'

In St. Paul, Minn., Red Balloon Bookshop has not yet reopened to the public, but owner Holly Weinkauf and her team are working in the store answering phones, fulfilling online orders, coordinating deliveries and managing pick-up, all while safely distanced.

Weinkauf reported that right now, the store looks more like a warehouse than a bookstore, and the team is working through a rearranging plan that will allow the store to keep up with online demand while providing a good, safe browsing experience for a few customers at a time.

One of their major concerns, Weinkauf continued, is figuring out a plan for maintaining social distancing when very young children are in store. She and her booksellers have talked through a few possibilities, and they won't open until it's figured out. She added that reopening is still a few weeks away at best.

On the subject of the protests against systemic racism and police brutality that began roughly a month ago, Weinkauf said she and her booksellers were "deeply saddened, angered and frustrated," and she hopes her store can play a role in the education and healing that need to happen. Like many other indie booksellers, she's seen an incredible increase in demand for antiracist books for all ages, which is encouraging.

During the initial protests in late May and early June, some stores near Red Balloon were physically damaged. Weinkauf's store never suffered any damage, but as a precaution they did put up boards and reduced pick-up hours for a few days. Right away, she and her team wrote messages of justice and kindness on the boards, created and shared an antiracist book list, encouraged community members to donate to organizations working to heal and help the community and encouraged people to support Black-owned bookstores.

And just this past week, Weinkauf said, she added a regular, weekly meeting to the staff schedule, meant for having intentional conversations about what the store and staff can continue to do to "learn, grow and take more effective action."


Devina Horvath, co-owner of Print and Page Booksellers in Crestline, Calif., reported that her store is now open full-time, though occupancy is limited to six; private browsing appointments are available. 

Masks are required at all times and hand sanitizer is available for customers. Instead of reshelving touched books, customers are asked to place them in boxes located throughout the store. The store is marked to show proper social distancing, and Horvath and her team are sanitizing surfaces frequently. They are also still providing free local delivery and curbside pick-up, and if the store reaches capacity, they've set up a waiting area outside. Because of these policies, Horvath added, the store has been certified as a Covid-compliant business in San Bernadino County.

Horvath said her regular customers are on board with wearing masks and following social-distancing guidelines, but the general community is "a little more opposed to masks." When the county reduced wearing masks to a suggestion, the store received some push-back from community members, but now that wearing masks is mandated across the state, it's been a bit easier.

When protests against police brutality and systemic racism began approximately a month ago, Horvath and her team participated in a local protest and started a book club with a local Black Lives Matter group with the aim of promoting diversity in nearby mountain towns.

Her biggest concern, Horvath continued, was never protesters but "high-strung local militia-type groups" who have taken it upon themselves to patrol and "protect" local businesses. There was pushback when she explicitly stated that the store didn't need "protection" and that vigilantism was forbidden on the store's property. She noted that the county's rural areas have fallen victim to the "bus loads of rioters" rumors, which she said is "more dangerous than peaceful protests, in our opinion."

The store is also making a concerted effort to face-out books by BIPOC authors on its shelves, and they've set a store goal permanently to have at least 50% of the store's new inventory and featured books by BIPOC authors. They will also be assessing the store's inventory for titles that BIPOC communities have called out as problematic. Said Horvath: "This is our long-term plan for how we can do our part to lift marginalized voices."

International Update: Reopening Challenges in Canada, India, Tasmania

COVID-19 "cut a crippling swath through the retail sector at the local level and beyond," noted in its Reopening Canada series. Dan Wells, owner of Biblioasis Bookshop in Windsor, Ont., is a survivor. "We pretty much transformed a substantial part of our business out of necessity, just about everything actually," he said, noting that the bookshop had quickly switched to home delivery, curbside pickup and online retail. "It started almost out of panic when we said 'if we close how will we get our books to people.' "

Home delivery "exploded right away" and will be an essential service moving forward, he added. "Curbside pickup will also be part of our future. We have to offer convenience to compete with bigger retailers and bigger businesses.... It's interesting that the pandemic forced me to get behind the counter for the first time in years and made me rethink the business. My commitment to the bookshop has been reaffirmed. That was an unexpected consequence."

Sales for Biblioasis have unexpectedly risen 15%-20% over the same period last year. "Bookstores very often rely on events," Wells said. "For us, 30% to 40% of our sales used to be event based, so for us to be up 15% shows we're reaching an even larger audience than we used to."

Since being allowed to reopen, Wells has offered patrons the opportunity to book private browsing appointments, which have proved popular. "It's gone very well," he said. "People can go out and have a good experience, they know they're safe, there's no anxiety.... As an independent, our size is our strength. We had to make shopping pleasurable in a way the large chains can't. We want to make it as enjoyable as possible."


In a post-Covid 19 India, whenever that may be, book browsing habits will change, reported, adding that "Mumbai's stores say lounging and reading will no longer be encouraged. Buyers will only be allowed limited time between the shelves."

Kitab Khana is currently staffed by a team of two, along with a security guard, for pick-up and deliveries. Starting next month, they will allow five visitors inside at a time to browse. "At a time like this, we can't take chances," said COO Jagath Tekkatte, adding that "we have put in a lot of thought into how we can make this a safe experience for both our staff and readers. We do have enough space, including the mezzanine, to take in at least 10 people at a time, and still maintain social distancing, but we'd like to start in a phased manner."

At Title Waves, executive director Trushant Tamgaonkar said his bookstore opened to the public June 5: "Initially, customers were hesitant to walk in; they'd call out to our staff, and place their orders from inside their car.... Before the pandemic, they'd spend a longer time inside, but now they leave within 20 minutes. That's actually fine with us. We want them to understand the gravity of the situation. But we are not stopping them from picking up a book and reading. If I restrict them from browsing, I will put them off. After all, they have options. They can simply buy a book online."


Community support and a shift toward online sales have helped retail businesses in Tasmania mitigate the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic, and "some businesses have experienced a surge in activity as restrictions start to ease and the state government's buy local message hits home," the Examiner reported.

Marcus Durkin of Petrarch's Bookshop in Launceston said his store's transition to online orders helped ease the losses of having the shop closed during the pandemic: "Business has been fairly steady while the door has been open... throughout April when our door what shut it was a little bit different but we had plenty of support via phone and online orders."

Obituary Note: Charles Webb

Charles Webb, who wrote the novel The Graduate, which was adapted into the hit 1967 film, "and then spent decades running from its success," died June 16, the New York Times reported. He was 81. Webb's novel, "written shortly after college and based largely on his relationship with his wife, Eve Rudd, was made into an era-defining film, directed by Mike Nichols and starring Dustin Hoffman and Anne Bancroft, that gave voice to a generation's youthful rejection of materialism."

Born into wealth, Webb and Rudd "carried that rejection well beyond youth, choosing to live in poverty and giving away whatever money came their way, even as the movie's acclaim continued to follow them," the Times noted.

"My whole life has been measured by it," he once told the Telegraph, though he did write an unpublished sequel, Gwen--narrated by Benjamin and Elaine's daughter--in the early 1990s and then Home School (2007), in which the main characters are grown up and teaching their own children. He agreed to publish it only to pay off a £30,000 (about $37,595) debt.

Webb's other books include Love, Roger (1969), The Marriage of a Young Stockbroker (1970), Orphans and Other Children (1975), The Abolitionist of Clark Gable Place (1976), Elsinor (1977) and Booze (1979).

"He had a very odd relationship with money," said Caroline Dawnay, who was briefly his agent in the early 2000s when his novel New Cardiff was made into the 2003 movie Hope Springs, starring Colin Firth. "He never wanted any. He had an anarchist view of the relationship between humanity and money." She added that he refused to do book signings, viewing them as "a sin against decency."

Webb "gave away homes, paintings, his inheritance, even his royalties from The Graduate, which became a million-seller after the movie's success, to the benefit of the Anti-Defamation League. He awarded his £10,000 [about $12,530] payout from Hope Springs as a prize to a performance artist named Dan Shelton, who had mailed himself to the Tate Modern in a cardboard box," the Times noted.


Ingram Publisher Services Distributing Liberty Fund Books

Ingram Publisher Services is selling and distributing Liberty Fund books in the U.S. and Canada.

Liberty Fund, Carmel, Ind., is an educational foundation that encourages "the study of the ideal of a society of free and responsible individuals." Among other activities, Liberty Fund publishes books on economics, political thought, American history, and law. Authors include Adam Smith, Alexis de Tocqueville, John Locke, John Stuart Mill, Frederic Bastiat, Ludwig von Mises, and Alexander Hamilton.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Danielle Ofri, M.D., on Fresh Air

Fresh Air: Danielle Ofri, M.D., author of When We Do Harm: A Doctor Confronts Medical Error (Beacon Press, $26.95, 9780807037881).

Kelly Clarkson Show: Danielle Kartes, author of Rustic Joyful Food: Meant to Share (Sourcebooks, $29.99, 9781492697916).

TV: Conversations with Friends

After finding "considerable success with its adaption of Sally Rooney's Normal People," Hulu "is gearing up to adapt the author's Conversations With Friends into a 12-episode drama," Indiewire reported. The project will be directed by Lenny Abrahamson, with Alice Birch as lead writer.

Beatrice Springborn, Hulu's v-p of content, said Rooney "perfectly and beautifully captures the complicated dynamics of relationships in her stories. After bringing that to life in Normal People to an overwhelmingly positive response, we are honored to do the same with Conversations With Friends. We are excited to continue our creative partnership with Sally, Element Pictures, Lenny and the BBC, which has been a dream collaboration."

Books & Authors

Awards: British Book, RSL Encore Winners

The winners in the many categories of the British Book Awards were celebrated yesterday and can be seen here. Among them:

Author of the Year: Bernardine Evaristo, whose most recent book is Booker-winning Girl, Woman, Other.
Overall Book of the Year: Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams, which also won Debut Book of the Year.
Book Retailer of the Year: Waterstones, which was cited for "a remarkable revitalisation under managing director James Daunt."
Independent Bookshop of the Year: Book-ish, Crickhowell, cited for "superb service, imaginative book buying, great promotions and lively social media" as well as a creative response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Children's Bookseller of the Year: Moon Lane, London, cited in part for developing "a powerful social mission to support children's literacy and diversity in the communities it serves."


The Royal Society of Literature announced that Patrick McGuinness won the £10,000 (about $12,530) Encore Award, recognizing a best second novel, for Throw Me to the Wolves. "I've always thought this award was one of the most empathetic around," McGuinness said. "It's a real boost as well as an honor to win it because it understands that part of a writer's life--neither sprint nor marathon--that gets forgotten."

Prize judge Edmund Gordon said: "A journey to the dark heart of modern British society, linking the inhumanity of our public school system to a wider cultural chill, this is a crime novel of rare dash and intelligence, full of discomfiting ideas and virtuosic prose." Judge Nikita Lalwani called the winning title "a novel that is saturated with small truths, tiny gems of knowing that linger and provoke long after putting the book down. A beautiful, haunting thriller." And judge Eley Williams commented: "A timely exploration of the frailties and sinews of British society, Throw Me to the Wolves considers memory, guilt and surveillance with lyricism and clarity. A crucial addition to modern crime fiction."

Book Review

Review: Afterland

Afterland by Lauren Beukes (Mulholland, $28 hardcover, 416p., 9780316267830, July 28, 2020)

"You can't imagine how much the world can change in six months." Oh, but yes we can! With remarkable prescience, Lauren Beukes's Afterland takes on an "unprecedented global pandemic" with chilling results--and surprising comic relief threaded throughout. Six years after the success of Broken Monsters, the internationally bestselling South African author sets another disturbing novel Stateside, creating an epic odyssey of a mother's determination to save her tween son. Their worst threat to safety, alas, is her own sister.

It's 2023, three years since the Human Culgoa Virus, "a highly contagious flu that turns into an aggressive prostate cancer in men and boys," ravaged the world: "3.2 billion men, boys, and people-with-prostates [are] dead... which leaves about 35-50 million boys and men alive around the world." Twelve-year-old Miles is one of those dwindling survivors.

Back when life was normal, Miles and his parents, Cole and Devon, flew from their Johannesburg home to spend a Disneyland vacation with relatives. Four months later, cousin Jay is dead. Then Uncle Eric, father Devon. Billions fall. In the government's effort to protect survivors and their immediate families, Miles and Cole end up in California's Ataraxia, "the fanciest prison in the world." Cole just wants to go home to South Africa. When Cole's sister, Billie, arrives, they hatch a plan to break out.

Their success is tempered when Billie reveals the contemptible reason for her ready assistance: harvesting Miles's sperm for black-market riches. Cole's reaction is to swing a tire iron at Billie--"You play too rough, you girls," their father admonished often growing up--then grabs Miles to take to the road. Miles must become Mila for the two years on the run from California to Florida, sheltered and enabled by the kindness of (fanatical) strangers, most especially Mother Inferior and the peripatetic Church of All Sorrows. Billie (surprise!) is never far behind.

Beukes reveals her cat-and-mice chase through two sections in which Cole, Miles and Billie take random turns exposing what's what--reliability varies. In between, a three-chapter interlude offers a glimpse of the devasted world beyond: a "historic artifact for future (female?) internet historians," a Vice magazine article about men gone rogue (but free) and a recorded confession about forgiveness. Never-ending body counts, attempted sororicide and tween exploitation might not particularly be phrases that invite "Read me!" but this pandemic distraction is ready for worldly audiences, offering titillating thrills, schadenfreude and, most surprisingly (and necessarily), even a few take-me-away snorts and shrieks. --Terry Hong, Smithsonian BookDragon

Shelf Talker: Lauren Beukes's prescient Afterland recounts an odyssey across the U.S. during an "unprecedented global pandemic" by a mother and son who just want to get home to South Africa.

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