Shelf Awareness for Tuesday, September 8, 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


Tornado-Damaged B&N Store in Jonesboro, Ark., Not Reopening

photo: Jonesboro Police Dept.

The Barnes & Noble store in Jonesboro, Ark., which was destroyed by a tornado in March, will not reopen, KAIT reported, adding that the location "took a direct hit from an EF-3 tornado on March 28, that destroyed the store, and several stores in The Mall at Turtle Creek."

Noting the company was "very sad to announce that it is unable to reopen," B&N said in a statement: "We have been privileged to run the store for the past 14 years and were devastated for our booksellers, and for the area, when it was hit by the tornado. We have been in discussions to re-open the bookstore, but unfortunately this has proved to be uneconomic. We are to look for alternative locations for a new bookstore in the area, with an active search to begin as soon as normal retail conditions return. We thank our customers for their years of loyalty and support, and express our sincere gratitude to our terrific booksellers who worked in the Jonesboro store."

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

Flooded Indie Bookstores in N.C., Tex.

Bookmarks, Winston-Salem, N.C., had to close temporarily over the holiday weekend due to a flooding emergency that left the bookstore unable to fulfill curbside pickup orders and delayed processing of online orders. The business hopes to reopen today.

Jamie Rogers Southern, operations director at BookMarks, posted on Facebook that the flooding was caused by an act of vandalism: "When someone turns your hose on in the middle of the night and leaves it at the back door. Good thing we have amazing staff and volunteers who are terrific in emergencies! Just another fun event for 2020."


In El Paso, Tex., Books Are Gems suffered damage to 8,000 new books because of a broken water heater, the El Paso Times reported. Emma Acosta, grant manager for the nonprofit organization, said the heater broke about a week ago and flooded the store, damaging floors, walls and bookshelves. The bookshop provides free, new books to school children.

"Currently the bookstore is under repairs as the water seeped through the walls, so many of the walls had to be cut away to prevent mold from surfacing," Acosta noted. "The carpet had to be removed as it was unusable and several bookshelves actually collapsed.... We are accepting monetary donations to purchase new children's books to replace the many unusable books."

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

Fourth Quarter Challenges and Opportunities

With Labor Day weekend marking the unofficial end of summer, the most challenging fall and holiday bookselling season in memory is beginning. Book sales continue to climb slowly out of the huge hole created by the spring lockdown--online sales are generally strong and many stores have reopened, taking an array of safety measures. Still, most stores have lost significant sources of sales, including from in-store events, off-site conferences and other events that aren't being held, school sales--and from fewer customers able to browse and find books they hadn't been seeking. And this holiday season will be affected by a bitter presidential election that may not be settled immediately, the ongoing pandemic, widespread unemployment and a battered economy.

In a survey of retail trends for the rest of the year, the New York Times noted: "Thanksgiving, the traditional start of the holiday shopping calendar, is still more than two months away, but retailers pummeled by the coronavirus pandemic have already been making decisions about inventory, staffing and how best to connect with customers skittish about visiting crowded stores during a pandemic. The result will be a 2020 season that is transformed in fundamental ways--and unlikely to make up for the severe drops in revenue caused by the shutdowns."

The paper noted that "rather than enticing shoppers into stores with holiday sales events, retailers like Walmart and Target recently said they would try to temper the crowds by closing on Thanksgiving Day and putting their best deals online earlier than usual," as soon as the beginning of November. "Instead of conversing with browsing shoppers, many store workers will be spending their time handing off purchases to people who pull up to the curb in their car."

"The wild card is going to be the traffic we get through physical stores, given the sensibility of customers around Covid," said Peter Nordstrom, president and chief brand officer of Nordstrom. "And no one's got a crystal ball on that."

Another wild card is spending. "Because some people are not spending on eating out and going to the theater and traveling, they actually have extra money to buy an aspirational product, which helps luxury and higher-end products," Marie Driscoll, managing director of luxury and fashion at the research firm Coresight Research, told the Times.

On the other hand, widespread unemployment with little federal aid is putting an obvious damper on holiday expectations. "It's a very important time of year spiritually, and people will make sacrifices so that they can go get Christmas presents," said Kenneth Rogoff, a professor of economics at Harvard University. "But it's hard to see a blowout Christmas season when you have a 15% unemployment rate."

Online selling will continue to grow. "What we're really preparing for is probably the greatest e-commerce penetration within a holiday season that we've ever seen, and probably the largest year-over-year growth in online shopping," Michelle Cordeiro Grant, CEO of Lively, an intimates and loungewear brand, told the Times.

The jump in online sales and cautiousness about buying holiday inventory is increasing the importance of the supply chain in general. And here again there are warning signs. Robert Carter, chief information officer of FedEx, has referred to the jump in e-commerce business as "getting sling-shotted into 2023."

Supply Chain Pressure
The book supply chain is coming under special pressure. As outlined by the New York Times at the end of August, more titles are being published this fall because many were postponed from the spring after the pandemic struck, squeezing printers just when the two largest book printers are in jeopardy: Quad is for sale, and LSC declared bankruptcy in April and its assets are being sold this month.

At the same time, the Times noted, "there has been a surprising spike in sales for print books, a development that would normally be cause for celebration, but is now forcing publishers to scramble to meet surging demand" from blockbuster titles as well as "older titles, particularly books about race and racism, children's educational workbooks and fiction."

Sue Malone-Barber, senior v-p and director of publishing operations for Penguin Random House, told the newspaper: "The infinite printer capacity hasn't been there for a while. Now enter Covid and a huge surge in demand, and you have an even more complex situation."

As a result, "Print runs for new titles are getting squeezed and pushed back. Carefully calibrated publication schedules are being blown up as books are moved into late fall and even next year."

Booksellers will suffer, of course, if they run out of stock on titles in demand and the titles that differentiate them. As Barnes & Noble CEO James Daunt commented: "We're concerned about the unknown author, the first-time novelist who may be down the pecking order in terms of print priorities. Booksellers want to get their hands on them, and the copies aren't there."

Last week, in Bookselling This Week, ABA CEO Allison Hill outlined the challenges facing booksellers in the fourth quarter and steps they can take. She noted that "demand for books has been high during the Covid pandemic and is expected to remain high. The combined impact of stores closed due to shelter-in-place mandates and consumers fearful of crowds could drive online demand to unprecedented highs.

"At the same time, publishers and wholesalers will be filling orders more slowly due to social distancing at their warehouses. Printers, also at reduced capacity due to social distancing, may not be able to reprint out-of-stock books in a timely manner. Every link in the supply chain can be slowed down by a Covid diagnosis and the subsequent work halt and cleaning requirements. The USPS cuts will slow down delivery service and shift shipping to the already overburdened UPS, which is now implementing surge pricing for large customers; it's yet to be seen whether that will trickle down to stores."

Among measures taken and advice offered by the ABA to help booksellers this season are a fall marketing campaign for indie bookstores; an education series on preparing for the fourth quarter; tips for buying books that reflect readers' changing tastes during the pandemic; how to bolster online services; developing contingency plans; and much more. --John Mutter

Obituary Note: David Graeber

David Graeber, "the radical anthropologist, provocative critic of economic and social inequality and self-proclaimed anarchist who was a coiner of 'We Are the 99 Percent,' the slogan of the Occupy Wall Street movement," died on September 2, the New York Times reported. He was 59 and was a professor at the London School of Economics.

Graeber was a prolific author and "captivated a cult following that grew globally over the past decade with each book he published," the Times wrote. Those books included Debt: The First 5000 Years (2011), in which he discussed "the changing definitions of borrowing and who owed what to whom," and in which he supported widespread loan forgiveness.

In The Utopia of Rules (2015), Graeber "ridiculed the bureaucracy that is typically associated with government, but that also permeates the corporate world and everyday business transactions."

In Bullshit Jobs: A Theory (2018), he criticized how advances in technology had not led to shorter work weeks and more meaningful work. "In technological terms, we are quite capable of this," he wrote. "And yet it didn't happen. Instead, technology has been marshaled, if anything, to figure out ways to make us all work more. Huge swaths of people, in Europe and North America in particular, spend their entire working lives performing tasks they believe to be unnecessary. The moral and spiritual damage that comes from this situation is profound. It is a scar across our collective soul."

He also wrote The Democracy Project: A History, a Crisis, a Movement (2013), and in fall 2021, Farrar, Straus & Giroux will publish The Dawn of Everything: A New History of Humanity, written with David Wengrow.

September Indie Next List E-Newsletter Delivered

Last Thursday, the American Booksellers Association's e-newsletter edition of the Indie Next List for September was delivered to nearly 700,000 of the country's best book readers. The newsletter was sent to customers of 180 independent bookstores, with a combined total of 694,465 subscribers.

The e-newsletter, powered by Shelf Awareness, features all of the month's Indie Next List titles, with bookseller quotes and "buy now" buttons that lead directly to the purchase page for the title on the sending store's website. The newsletter, which is branded with each store's logo, also includes an interview (from Bookselling This Week) with the author whose book was chosen by booksellers as the number-one Indie Next List pick for the month, in this case Anxious People by Fredrik Backman (Atria).

For a sample of the September newsletter, see this one from Subterranean Books, St. Louis, Mo.


Birchbark Books' 'Mission as a Bookstore at this Time'

"What is our mission as a bookstore at this time?" Louise Erdrich, author and owner of Birchbark Books, Minneapolis, Minn., posted yesterday on her Facebook page. "We have always worked to provide accurate and fair information on all subjects. Our specialty is Native American and Indigenous history and culture. We ship our books to schools, colleges, libraries. We spread our books throughout the city via Indian Health Board, Powwow Grounds, and Little Free Libraries.

"Now we need to do more. This election has dizzyingly high stakes. We can't afford another 4 years of racist cruelty, militarized police, lies, ramped up climate heating, and deadly out of control disease. The horror of police dealing death with impunity must stop. Philando Castile, Jason Pero, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd and so many others should be here, going about their lives. And our climate, our home, our earth....

"Our bookstore will be working with Movement Voter Project and Native Vote to help keep trusted local people working in swing states to get out the imperiled vote. I will be hosting Zoom session conversations with other writers to fundraise for Movement Voter Project, and I hope you will join in! Stay tuned here for information. Peace, justice, books. Vote."

Masking Up: Arts & Letters Bookstore

From Roxanne Laney, owner of Arts & Letters Bookstore, Granbury, Tex.: "We've had such good luck with window painting at our store. This painting showing Captain American Mask chasing out the coronavirus is meant to encourage shoppers to wear masks. Wearing masks has really decreased new cases and deaths in our geographic area."


Pennie Picks: The Silver Arrow

Pennie Clark Ianniciello, Costco's book buyer, has chosen The Silver Arrow by Lev Grossman (Little, Brown, $16.99, 9780316539531) as her pick of the month for September. In Costco Connection, which goes to many of the warehouse club's members, she wrote:

"I was fortunate to get my hands on an advance copy of Lev Grossman's The Silver Arrow earlier this year. I was only a few chapters in when I knew it would be a book buyer's pick. It's written for middle-grade readers, but should appeal to all animal lovers.

"Kate and Tom lead ordinary lives. That changes when their Uncle Herbert gives Kate a magic steam locomotive on the eve of her first birthday. First they pick up a variety of train cars--for reading, dining, sleeping and more--and soon they're picking up a host of animals and dropping them off in safer habitats."

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Ali Soufan on Fresh Air

Today Show: Jenna Bush Hager, author of Everything Beautiful in Its Time: Seasons of Love and Loss (Morrow, $26.99, 9780062960627).

Good Morning America: Sara Evans, author of Born to Fly (Howard Books, $27,

Fresh Air: Ali Soufan, author of The Black Banners (Declassified): How Torture Derailed the War on Terror after 9/11 (Norton, $17.95, 9780393343496).

NPR's Here & Now: Jane Fonda, author of What Can I Do?: My Path from Climate Despair to Action (Penguin Press, $30, 9780593296226). She will also appear tonight on Late Night with Seth Meyers and tomorrow on the Today Show.

Ellen repeat: Ali Wong, author of Dear Girls: Intimate Tales, Untold Secrets & Advice for Living Your Best Life (Random House, $27, 9780525508830).

The Talk repeat: Elton John, author of Me: Elton John Official Autobiography (Holt, $30, 9781250147608).

The View: Sarah Huckabee Sanders, author of Speaking for Myself: Faith, Freedom, and the Fight of Our Lives Inside the Trump White House (St. Martin's Press, $29.99, 9781250271334). She will also appear on Good Morning America.

Today Show: Jay Shetty, author of Think Like a Monk: Train Your Mind for Peace and Purpose Every Day (Simon & Schuster, $27, 9781982134488).

Tamron Hall repeat: 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).

The View: Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, author of Melania and Me: The Rise and Fall of My Friendship with the First Lady (Gallery, $28, 9781982151249).

Late Night with Seth Meyers: John Cleese, author of Creativity: A Short and Cheerful Guide (Crown, $14, 9780385348270).

Movies: Across the River and into the Trees

Liev Schreiber (Spotlight, Ray Donovan) will star in a film adaptation of Ernest Hemingway's final novel, Across the River and into the Trees, Deadline reported. The cast also includes Matilda De Angelis (The Prize), Laura Morante (Cherry on the Cake), Javier Camara (Truman) and Giancarlo Giannini (Seven Beauties).

Directed by Paula Ortiz (The Bride), the "privately financed movie is due to start production next month in Venice and the surrounding areas under Covid-19 guidelines," Deadline noted. The film is produced by Robert MacLean of Tribune Pictures and features a screenplay from BAFTA-nominee Peter Flannery (The Devil's Whore).

Books & Authors

Awards: Heartland Booksellers Finalists

Finalists have been announced for the inaugural Heartland Booksellers Award, which was launched earlier this year when the Midwest Independent Booksellers Association and the Great Lakes Independent Booksellers joined forces to create one unified awards program "uplifting books with a Midwest angle that independent booksellers loved to sell this previous year."

"It's really exciting to watch it all come together," said MIBA executive director Carrie Obry. "First, booksellers nominate titles. Next, they vote for their favorites. Finally, we invite all the winners to a big party and celebrate the work of these authors and booksellers. Of course, this year will be different, as we celebrate virtually, but it will still be a fun and rewarding evening. The awards ceremony will be on October 15." This year's Heartland Booksellers Award category finalists are:

Everywhere You Don't Belong by Gabriel Bump (Algonquin)
This Tender Land by William Kent Krueger (Atria)
The Lager Queen of Minnesota by J. Ryan Stradal (Penguin)
The Lost Book of Adana Moreau by Michael Zapata (Hanover Square Press)

Rust Belt Femme by Raechel Anne Jolie (Belt Publishing)
In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado (Graywolf Press)
American Harvest by Marie Mutsuki Mockett (Graywolf Press)
Burn the Place by Iliana Regan (Scribner)

El Dorado Freddy's by Danny Caine (Belt Publishing)
HULL by Xandria Phillips (Nightboat Books)
Homie by Danez Smith (Graywolf Press)
Dear Delinquent by Ann Townsend (Sarabande Books)

YA/Middle Grade
Beverly, Right Here by Kate DiCamillo (Candlewick)
Wink by Rob Harrell (Dial Books)
SLAY by Brittney Morris (Simon Pulse)
The Fountains of Silence by Ruta Sepetys (Philomel Books)

Children's Picture Book
Hello, Neighbor! by Matthew Cordell (Neal Porter Books)
Wild Honey from the Moon by Kenneth Kraegel (Candlewick)
My Footprints by Bao Phi (Capstone Editions)
A Map into the World by Kao Kalia Yang (Carolrhoda Books)

Book Review

Review: Revolutions of All Colors

Revolutions of All Colors by Dewaine Farria (Syracuse University Press, $22.95 hardcover, 208p., 9780815611264, October 15, 2020)

Winner of the 2019 Veterans Writing Award, chosen by Tobias Wolff, Dewaine Farria develops his extraordinary debut novel, Revolutions of All Colors, through exquisite snapshots scattered among the decades. In 1996, Ettie Moten is an Oklahoma state prison counselor and single mother raising Simon, the son of a recently deceased Black Panther whom she first met in New Orleans in 1970. But she's not alone. Her longtime colleague Frank Mathis, the deputy warden and a Vietnam veteran, has taken the teenager under his wing alongside his own two sons. As a result, Simon, Michael and Gabriel form a bond of brotherhood that flowers into the 21st century, as they stake their claims on a world that will never cut them slack.

"When you go to war, your soul is at as much hazard as your body. More really," Frank explains to them, but mostly to Simon, dark-skinned, athletic and restless, determined to be a pararescue officer in the air force. Michael and Gabriel, on the other hand, have no interest in the military and rib Simon for his hotheadedness. Nonetheless, he is their protector when their sensitive natures and lighter skin draw scorn from their peers. But Farria carefully teases out the more subtle ways Michael and Gabriel protect Simon in return.

Gabriel's is the defining voice of the novel. A former dancer, "a sliver past decent," he aspires now to write. In 2008, he has traded in the uninspired fantasy fiction that once enthralled him for more realized yet heartrending stories from his youth, at the behest of Tamara, a beautiful Ukrainian arms dealer he fell in love with while teaching English in Kyiv. "Unlike most Americans," she observes, "Gabe seemed to understand just how much of this world's tragedy so richly deserves laughter."

Likewise, Farria writes with vibrant, breathtaking elegance, unabashed to imbue even bleak corners of the world with shades of humor and simmering sexuality. The trio deal with their divergent manhoods tenderly and thoughtfully. Meanwhile, Farria holds in graceful tension the violence of wars abroad and the invigorating energy of passionate endeavors, the brutality of battles at home and the solace of brotherly love.

Revolutions of All Colors radiates adoration and wonder for fighters and their resilience. Intimate second-person chapters address Simon directly, as he serves abroad, flees regrets and throws himself into mixed martial arts. With singular talent, Farria details the dreams and disappointments of a family he demonstrates deep fondness for, body and soul. --Dave Wheeler, associate editor, Shelf Awareness

Shelf Talker: Dewaine Farria generously traces two generations of chosen family as they navigate manhood, race and sexuality in an unforgiving world.

The Bestsellers

Top-Selling Self-Published Titles

The bestselling self-published books last week as compiled by

1. Nantucket Weddings (Nantucket Beach Plum Cove Book 5) by Pamela M. Kelley
2. Shielding Kinley by Susan Stoker
3. Weight Lifting Is a Waste of Time by John Jaquish and Henry Alkire
4. Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert T. Kiyosaki and Sharon L. Lechter
5. My Warrior (Bewitched and Bewildered Book 12) by Alanea Alder
6. Always Crew (Crew Series Book 3) by Tijan
7. Tempest (Guardian Security Shadow World Book 5) by Kris Michaels
8. Gators and Garters (A Miss Fortune Mystery Book 18) by Jana Deleon
9. Taunting Callum (The Big Sky Series Book 7) by Kristen Proby
10. Human Kind by Brad Aronson

[Many thanks to!]

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