Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, August 12, 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

'What Is a Bookshop For?'

"As the current crisis continues to deepen and bite, and as a chilling frost starts to look like a long and bitter winter, those initial rapid forays into the online world are now looking like a lifeline. Speaking bluntly, it is difficult to see a bookshop surviving if they don't make online pay.


"But if we want bookshops to survive, we mustn't fall into the trap of thinking that technology is there to optimize and replace.... So as booksellers, we need to take action now. As painful as it is, as unjust as it appears, and as lacking in confidence as you might be, you need to continue to adopt and adapt technology which takes the essence, character and uniqueness of your shop, and extends it out into your community.

"Take that trusted relationship and digitize it.... Whether they know it or not, the book industry needs physical bookshops. Without them, the ecosystem will continue to shrink.... There is also an opportunity here: to use technology to reach out to members of your community who may never have visited your shop. This was what my entrepreneur friend was getting excited about. Technology can make us inclusive in a way that has never happened before--as long as our technology expands horizons and doesn't shut them down."

--Mark Thornton, a bookshop mentor with the Unwin Charitable Trust, in a blog post for the Bookseller headlined "What is a bookshop for?"

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


Toronto's Ben McNally Books to Relocate (for Now)

The space Ben McNally is vacating.

Toronto's Ben McNally Books, which was facing an uncertain future with its current lease at 366 Bay St. due to expire September 1, "has received a temporary reprieve after Ben and Rupert McNally, the father-and-son proprietors, signed a short-term lease for a new location in the city's downtown," Quill & Quire reported. The 2,025-square-foot location at 317 Adelaide Street features a 77-foot frontage "in a unit that was formerly used as a design showroom" under a lease that runs through next January. Plans call for making the move within the next two weeks.

"It's really a beautiful space. We loved the space the moment we went into it," said Ben McNally, adding that the location is move-in ready for what he called the bookshop's "bare-bones operation" during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

The future remains less certain. "We're not going to stop looking for a long-term place," says Rupert McNally. "We always liked the place we're moving into, but we're not sure about the neighborhood.... Who knows? It may turn out to be a good long-term location. This gives us a chance to see the neighborhood, which we wouldn't have been able to do before."

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

N.Y. Comic Con Cancels Javits Event, Partnering with YouTube

New York Comic Con has canceled its in-person event at Javits Center and will instead partner with YouTube to stream live panels October 8-11.

"We are thoroughly disappointed that we can’t gather together, in-person for the New York Comic Con we love to build and our fans love to revel in," said Lance Fensterman, president of NYCC producer ReedPop. "We look forward to this weekend all year long, just like you, and with this being our 15th edition, we were particularly excited. I will miss walking up and down artist alley and seeing friends that I’ve made since we were in the basement at the Javits Center. While this year will definitely be a different experience, we are going to look to bring the best and most engaging event to our fans, exhibitors, and studios through our partnership with YouTube."

In a statement, ReedPop said: "While we'd much rather be giving you an update today on badges going on sale, it likely comes as no surprise that New York Comic Con 2020's physical event at the Javits Center will not be able to run as intended. We very sincerely appreciate your patience as we worked with the Javits and local officials to figure out what, if anything, could go on as planned this October."

As an alternative, ReedPop has joined forces with its sister event MCM Comic Con in London for NYCC's Metaverse, an online portal "dedicated to delivering pop culture experiences, right into your homes.... We are partnering with YouTube to bring to life four days of incredible content from the biggest studios, publishers and creators in the business. This is your chance to interact with your favorite creators and celebrity guests, and most importantly, the opportunity to engage with other members of this vibrant community of ours." 

ReedPop added that the "loss of virtually all conventions in 2020 has leveled a devastating blow on their businesses. We ask that you continue to support them, and we will be bringing new opportunities and platforms that will make it even easier for you to shop their products and artwork straight from your home.... We miss shows just as much as you do and we're doing everything we can to make sure that when it is safe for us to be together again, you'll have the same amazing experience you've come to expect from NYCC. Stay safe, stay nerdy, and remember: NYCC fans wore masks before it was cool."

International Update: U.K. Print Sales 'Buoyant', Indies in Delhi, Melbourne

The print market in the U.K. "has continued to perform strongly post-lockdown, with children's seeing particularly buoyant sales," the Bookseller reported. Although value for the week ending August 1--at £27.2 million (about $34 million)--"was the first since bookshops began reopening to fall against the same week in 2019 (by 2.3%), across the seven weeks since shops opened their doors, volume is up by 8% year on year and value 12%." Average selling price "has been running at Christmas-gift-period levels--still yet to drop below £8.50 [about $10.65] per week" since bookshops reopened in England on June 15.

Children's books are leading the way, with volume up 16% year on year from the week ending June 20 until August 1, and 14% up in value. Trade nonfiction is also up 10% in volume and 15% in value over the past seven weeks. The Bookseller noted that with Nielsen reporting 40% of people were reading more during lockdown, adult fiction "was likely the category least affected by lockdown. However, open bookshops still helped fiction jump 2.3% in volume and 4.5% in value against the same period in 2019."


Indian "bookseller emeritus" Mirza Yaseen Baig, founder of Midland Book Shop, "is 93 and comes daily, without fail, to his shop at south Delhi's Aurobindo Market--even in these risky times of coronavirus pandemic," the Hindustan Times reported in a profile of the bookseller who spends his days "sitting outside the bookshop on a chair facing a shelf stacked with classics of English literature; the shop itself is handled by Afsar, his second son.... But at such an advanced age, just why can't Mr. Baig sit at home, safe from the virus, with wife, Sardar Begum, in west Delhi's Paschim Vihar?"

"Coming to the shop is my habit," he said. "I cannot sit at home. Here I watch people, see the world go to and fro about me and I feel good."


"Have you seen our bookmobile driving around the streets?" the Sun Bookshop in Yarraville, Vic., Australia, asked. "We're delivering to: Yarraville and Seddon Tuesday-Saturday! Kingsville, Footscray and West Footscray on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. And Spotswood, South Kingsville, Newport and Williamstown on Wednesdays and Fridays. (Bike deliveries are still happening locally, this is saving our legs on the longer delivery runs)." --Robert Gray

How Bookstores Are Coping: Safety Precautions Including Gloves; Renovations; Online Support

Keebe Fitch, owner of McIntyre's Books in Pittsboro, N.C., reported that her store was open only for phone orders, curbside service and delivery between mid-March and early June. When the store reopened for browsing, Fitch and her team limited the number of customers to 20 (there have yet to be more than 15 people in store at any one time), and some displays have been removed to allow for better socially distant browsing.

Masks are required in all businesses, per a statewide mandate, and McIntyre's Books is also asking customers to put on gloves when they enter, which the store provides. Fitch estimated that "maybe eight people" in the last two months seemed unhappy about the gloves and left. The vast majority of customers, however, seem very happy that the store is trying so hard to keep everyone healthy.

Other safety precautions include taking and logging staff temperatures before each shift, installing sneeze guards at the register and logging hourly wipe downs of frequently touched surfaces. One of the store's doors has been designated as the entrance, and another as the exit. Stuffed animals and other tempting items have been put out of the reach of children, and payment is credit card only for the foreseeable future.

Fitch noted that sales have been "surprisingly good" for the last couple of months, considering the pandemic and the fact that the store is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. The store is getting ready to launch its own IndieCommerce site, and Fitch said they've all been "kicking ourselves that we did not move on that sooner." It has been very helpful, though, to guide customers to the store's page while the IndieCommerce site has been in the works.

On the subject of the protests against systemic racism and police brutality that began in late May, Fitch said there were no protests in the store's immediate area, as it is located "between two cow pastures halfway between two cities." The store did, however, set up robust displays of antiracist titles and books by BIPOC authors. Titles from those displays, she said, have moved very well.

McIntyre's is also cosponsoring a virtual conversation series called Higher Ground, which will examine issues of race, justice and social equality, and features playwright and actor Mike Wiley in conversation with a variety of nationally known thought leaders. The first installment featured Wiley in conversation with Bishop Michael Curry, author of Love Is the Way: Holding on to Hope in Troubling Times.


In New Orleans, La., Garden District Book Shop has been open for browsing since June 13, when the city entered Phase 2 of its recovery plan. For nearly three months prior to that, said owner Britton Trice, the bookshop was limited to curbside pickup, free home delivery and shipping.

Trice and his team are asking all customers to wear masks and have made hand sanitizer available at the door. They've limited the number of people who can be in-store at a time and are frequently wiping down surfaces. Trice reported that they have not had any problems with people refusing to wear masks, and customers who have shown up without them have donned masks provided by the store without complaining.

Garden District Book Shop has taken advantage of the slowdown in business to remodel the store, all while still being open for browsing. Trice said they've been replacing the floors in three stages and are having new bookcases built to "fill the new space we gained in the remodel." Trice guessed that he and the team have moved every book in the store about five times now.

Like many other stores around the country, Garden District Book Shop saw a huge increase in the sale of antiracist books in late May and June. During that time, Trice said, the store set up a large Black Lives Matter display featuring related titles.


Trenessa Williams, founder of the online bookshop Kizzy's Books & More, has been looking to open a physical storefront in Winter Garden, Fla., since 2019. Though it remains an online store for the time being, Kizzy's was featured on a number of lists of Black-owned bookstores to support that circulated on social media earlier in the summer.

The support, Williams said, has been awesome. She's seen an increase in sales, and word about Kizzy's Books & More has spread further than she would have ever expected. Keeping up with the increased demand, she added, was initially a challenge but also a valuable  learning experience. "I am grateful for the support and the kind words that have been given." --Alex Mutter

Obituary Note: Bill McClung

Bill McClung, founder of University Press Books bookstore and the Musical Offering Café and a former UC Press editor, died on July 27 at age 81, reported.

University Press Books was founded in Berkeley, Calif., in 1974 as a partnership of 25 people devoted to books published by English-language university presses. McClung "conceived a unique consignment plan, promising to keep highly specialized books in stock until they went out of print," Berkeleyside wrote. "Better for the books to be on a store shelf, available for perusal and the possibility of purchase, than locked up in warehouses: that was Bill's persuasive argument, offered to the world's universities."

As Berkeleyside recounted, over the years, "the store expanded its inventory to stock titles from general presses. It increased its cultural offerings too and hosted numerous author talks, book groups, movies and classes, as well as dinners centered around a book or topic where guests might read a poem. It also rented the store out for popup events."

Only two months ago, University Press Books bookstore announced the closing of its bricks-and-mortar location, after years of struggling to pay its monthly rent of $10,000 and after sales declined because of Amazon and then the Covid-19 pandemic. Some of the store's inventory was moved next door to the Musical Offering Café, which has remained open, and much of it went to Wilsted and Taylor Publishing Services, one of the store's original partners, on 40th Street in Oakland. At the time, McClung said that next year he hoped to find a new, smaller space in Berkeley, one with a much lower rent. In the meantime, the store has continued online sales.

McClung also worked at the University of California Press from 1969-1992, rising from editor and editorial manager to editorial director. Earlier he had been sponsoring editor in the humanities and social science editor at Princeton University Press. As Berkeleyside noted, "Bill became known for an active and energetic style--continually recruiting new authors, proposing and commissioning new books and series."

Among the books he edited and/or acquired were The State of the Language, edited by Leonard Michaels and Christopher Ricks; The University of California/Sotheby Book of California Wines; the Quantum Books series; the three-volume work The Plan of St. Gall by Ernst Born and Walter Horn; and the Mark Twain Papers series.

McClung was also a co-creator of University Publishing, a newsletter that included articles about scholarly publishing, book reviews, and lists of new books published by the university presses.

After the 1991 Oakland Hills fire, which destroyed his home, he became one of the founding members of the Claremont Canyon Conservancy and served on its board until 2009. He also served for two years on the Berkeley Fire Commission, and helped establish the Vicente Canyon Hillside Foundation to preserve a two-and-one-half-acre fragment of open space in the south Berkeley Hills. He was also associated with Shelterbelt Builders, which focused on brush reduction and native plant restoration.

"His main love was for his businesses, especially the bookstore," his wife, Karen McClung, told the Daily Californian. "Everything he did was related to his work and to literary arts."

Regular customer and book group member Ken Knabb told the Daily Californian that McClung was an enthusiastic participant in the many book groups and author appearances that took place at the store around what McClung called "the big table." "Our discussions sometimes got heated, but I never heard him say a mean thing," Knabb said, adding that McClung enjoyed reading out loud with others while having some wine.

The events had a major impact on the community, and "that was one of the reasons he worked so hard to preserve the store," Karen McClung said. "The camaraderie of just being with people and having literary discussions, that's what he loved to do."

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to University Press Books and/or the Musical Offering to support McClung's vision of ensuring that books and recorded classical music continue to enrich the life of the mind and spirit in our community.


Image of the Day: Curbside Signing

Octavia Books, New Orleans, La., hosted a curbside book signing/book launch for Words Whispered in Water: Why the Levees Broke in Hurricane Katrina by Sandy Rosenthal, founder of

Cool Idea of the Day: Blue Willow Zoom Backgrounds for Binc

Blue Willow Bookshop, Houston, Tex., has created a suite of four Blue Willow Zoom backgrounds for fans of the bookstore to use for free, and has tied the offer to a fundraiser for the Book Industry Charitable Foundation. Here's how it works:

1. Download one (or all!) and use it on a Zoom call
2. Send a screenshot of you using it to owner Valerie Koehler 
3. We'll donate $10.00 to BINC, the Book Industry Charitable Foundation, which supports booksellers in need

"Thank you for helping us support an organization that's near to our hearts, and spreading the word about our happy place," Blue Willow noted.

Personnel Changes at Catapult/Counterpoint/Soft Skull

Arriel Vinson has joined Catapult/Counterpoint/Soft Skull as a marketing coordinator.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Peniel E. Joseph on Fresh Air

Fresh Air: Peniel E. Joseph, author of The Sword and the Shield: The Revolutionary Lives of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. (Basic Books, $30, 9781541617865).

Live with Kelly and Ryan repeat: Marissa Mullen, author of That Cheese Plate Will Change Your Life: Creative Gatherings and Self-Care with the Cheese by Numbers Method (The Dial Press, $28, 9780593157596).

TV: The Turnout; The Roommate

Megan Abbott "is setting up her latest television project after eOne snapped up the rights to her upcoming book The Turnout," which will be released in the summer of 2021, Deadline reported. Author of 10 novels, Abbott co-created and co-showran the TV version of Dare Me, which was adapted for USA Network and Netflix last year. That project was produced by UCP and Michael Lombardo, who is now president of Global Television at eOne. Prior to that, Abbott was a writer on HBO's The Deuce.


Meredith Dawson has been hired to adapt Rosie Danan's debut novel, The Roommate, "which has been getting strong notices ahead of general release next month," Deadline reported. Screen rights for the book were optioned by Anton Productions (Greenland, The Night House). Anton is producing, and the Gotham Group (The Maze Runner series) is executive-producing.

Dawson said: "As a devoted fan of the romantic comedy genre, I was wildly impressed how Rosie knocked it out of the park with her witty sense of humor, crystal clear characters and seat-gripping sexual tension. As Josh and Clara fight their own bubbling temptations, you'll fight yours to put the book down. It was impossible to read this without the air conditioner on full blast. The 'raunch-com' has arrived and I am HERE for it. I feel very lucky to be working with the genius minds at Gotham and Anton and look forward to making them blush."

Books & Authors

Awards: Ngaio Marsh Finalists

Finalists have been unveiled for the 2020 Ngaio Marsh Awards, honoring the best in New Zealand crime writing, Books+Publishing reported. The winners will be announced at the WORD Christchurch Festival in late October. This year's shortlisted titles are:

Whatever It Takes by Paul Cleave
Girl from the Tree House by Gudrun Frerichs
Auē by Becky Manawatu
The Nancys by R.W.R. McDonald
In the Clearing by J.P. Pomare
The Wild Card by Renée

First novel
Into the Void by Christina O'Reilly
Tugga's Mob by Stephen Johnson
Auē by Becky Manawatu
The Nancys by R.W.R. McDonald

Reading with... Derek Landy

photo: Toby Madden

Derek Landy lives near Dublin, Ireland. Before writing his children's story about a sharply dressed skeleton detective, he wrote the screenplays for a zombie movie and a murderous horror film. "I think my career-guidance teacher is spinning in her grave," he says, "or she would be if she were dead." Seasons of War, the 13th novel in the Skulduggery Pleasant series, is available now from HarperCollins Children's Books.

On your nightstand now:

The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix, The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James and Praetorian: The Rise and Fall of Rome's Imperial Bodyguard by Guy de la Bédoyère. I've always been a horror fan, which explains the first two, and I've recently been on a bit of a military history kick. I'm not a big reader of nonfiction, but I'm doing my best to change that.

Favorite book when you were a child:

Either The Three Investigators series created by Robert Arthur or the Hardy Boys created by Franklin W. Dixon. Back then, if it wasn't a mystery series written by a stable of various writers, it was comic books. I credit Spider-Man with teaching me how to read at an advanced level. Thanks, Spidey.

Your top five authors:

Joe R. Lansdale, Elmore Leonard, Joe Hill, Joe Abercrombie and Grady Hendrix. A mix between horror and crime, basically--with some head-splitting fantasy thrown in for the laughs.

Book you've faked reading:

Dostoevsky's The Idiot. I mean, I read the first quarter, so that has to mean something, right?

Book you're an evangelist for:

NOS4A2 by Joe Hill. I've given this book to so many friends over the past few years. The story of a troubled young woman with a gift, going up against a soul-sucking vampire in a possessed car. Ohhh, it's so good.

Book you've bought for the cover:

My Best Friend's Exorcism by Grady Hendrix. Funny thing is, I already had the hardback version, bought on a recommendation, but hadn't got around to reading it. Then I had a few hours to kill in an airport and I saw the paperback, with a brand-new VHS-style cover, and couldn't resist diving in. I had no idea I had the same book downstairs. It's a glorious book, by the way. Glorious.

Book you hid from your parents:

I've never had to hide any book from my folks--they're avid readers themselves. I suppose I've hidden issues of The Amazing Spider-Man in textbooks when I was meant to be studying, if that counts.

Book that changed your life:

Misery by Stephen King. I carried the paperback around in my jacket pocket for years, so it rested just over my heart. One day, when I was too slow to fire in a duel with a man who had besmirched my honor, my enemy's bullet struck me in the chest--and was lodged in that paperback. Misery saved my life.

Favorite line from a book:

"You gotta be one of the good guys, son, 'cause there's way too many of the bad." --Garth Ennis, Preacher

Five books you'll never part with:

Mucho Mojo introduced me to Hap and Leonard--Joe R. Lansdale's smart-talking, two-fisted heroes--and I will never own a book that's more precious to me. Riding the Rap by Elmore Leonard is a random pick from my shelf, because I honestly don't know which of his books is my favorite. The only problem with his books is that I can't read them while I'm writing, because his use of language is so seductive that it starts to encroach upon mine. The Light at the End by John Skipp and Craig Spector is a book I read as a teenager that I never want to revisit, because it can't be as good as I remember. It just CAN'T. Stephen King's It is, like Riding the Rap, just one of a dozen possible titles that would qualify as my top choice. And lastly, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon, because it's wonderful.

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

Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail '72 by Hunter S. Thompson. I barely knew who all the players were but his style, his sheer anger, blew my mind.

Book Review

Children's Review: Imogene Comes Back!

Imogene Comes Back! by David Small (Knopf Books for Young Readers, $17.99 hardcover, 40p., ages 3-7, 9780593123744, September 15, 2020)

Thirty-five years after readers were first introduced to Imogene in the beloved picture book classic Imogene's Antlers, she's back! (Because apparently it wasn't enough for the titular young lady to grow antlers and a peacock's tail.) In this hilarious follow-up, Imogene further stupefies her family and gives her stuffy mother even more reasons to faint.

When Imogene wakes up, "wondering what the day would bring," it is quickly apparent that the "parade of peculiarities" established in the first book will continue. Despite her proper, old-fashioned family's disapproval of her giraffe's neck, Imogene cheerfully puts the additional height to good use by finding Norman's football (at the top of a tall cabinet) and rescuing a neighbor's kitten (stuck in a tree). As if that weren't enough, a new day brings yet another surprise. Imogene, now sporting the head of an elephant, helps out by employing her trunk to water "the lilies... the lavender.../ the lilacs... and the lady next door." But, finally, when a diminutive Imogene flies through the house on butterfly wings, it's all too much. In a fit of pique, Mother bellows, "Enough is ENOUGH!!!" and promptly faints. The next day, a nervous family waits for Imogene to come down for breakfast. When she steps into the dining room with her own nose and face, in fact, as her own "self, once more," everyone rejoices. "Especially Mother. Until... suddenly--"

The surprise ending of this picture-perfect sequel should leave readers howling with laughter. Working in pen, ink and watercolor, Small (Stitches; One Cool Friend) envisions a lively world, one he casts with characters full of emotion. The household's exaggerated responses to the silliness of their situation are deftly conveyed: the priggish family's confusion and disapproval, the servants' gleeful encouragement, and--always--the unwavering delight Imogene experiences with her ever-changing gifts. The exuberant illustrations feature the artist's signature style, detailed yet fluid linework brushed with washes of carefully chosen colors. Observant readers will note important details on subsequent readings that could explain some of Imogene's current and former manifestations, and also perhaps a hint that Imogene might be headed to art school. In keeping with the spirit of the first book, this joyful ode to imagination offers readers plenty of encouragement to buck conformity and celebrate what makes them extraordinary--even if it makes their mothers swoon! --Lynn Becker, blogger and host of Book Talk, a monthly online discussion of children's books for SCBWI

Shelf Talker: Thirty-five years after Imogene first delighted readers with antlers and a peacock tail, she's back--and, happily, she's more peculiar than ever!

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