Shelf Awareness for Friday, September 25, 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


New Voices, New Rooms: SIBA Annual Meeting & Town Hall

The Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance held its annual meeting and town hall yesterday during the virtual New Voices, New Rooms conference, hosted in conjunction with the New Atlantic Independent Booksellers Association.

The annual meeting opened with a discussion of SIBA's membership and finances. Board president Kelly Justice (owner of Fountain Bookstore in Richmond, Va.) reported that the alliance began the year with 160 members. Because of the pandemic, SIBA made the decision to make membership free of charge. There are now 589 SIBA members. In total, she added, there were 856 registrants for the New Voices, New Rooms conference, with a total of 578 of those being booksellers. Looking ahead, she added, she hopes to have some kind of online component for all future shows.

Kelly Justice
Linda-Marie Barrett

On the subject of SIBA's finances, executive director Linda-Marie Barrett said the alliance spent a great deal of time reducing its budget in the face of a lack of income caused by the pandemic. She noted that while things may have started out dire, SIBA has "extricated ourselves from that," and is headed in an "excellent direction." The alliance did not have to dip into any emergency funds during the pandemic and Barrett added that they will actually be bringing in positive revenue from the NVNR show.

American Booksellers Association CEO Allison Hill and COO Joy Dallanegra-Sanger dropped into the discussion to give some updates on what the ABA has been doing. A major focus has been preparation for the fourth quarter: Hill noted that there will certainly be some challenges involving printing and shipping, but demand for books is expected to be high. The ABA has begun a "October Is the New December" campaign, encouraging shoppers to start their holiday shopping earlier than usual. The ABA is also continuing to lobby for another wave of small business relief but, as Hill remarked, Washington is a bit distracted at the moment.

In response to a question about a recent New York Times profile of Penguin Random House U.S. chief executive Madeline McIntosh that discussed some of PRH's direct-to-consumer capabilities, Hill said she had a "very lengthy meeting" with PRH recently and has invited the publisher to attend ABA's board meeting in October. She has made it very clear that there needs to be a conversation about PRH's relationship to independent bookstores that is "as transparent as possible." Hill noted that PRH has been surprised by some of the reactions to the article, and she was hopeful that this has "opened a door" for a more meaningful conversation.

Allison Hill

When asked about the status of Winter Institute, Hill answered that the ABA cannot fully announce plans due to ongoing negotiations with vendors. She could say, however, that booksellers can count on there being a virtual institute whether there is a physical one or not, and she advised against buying a plane ticket.

Shipping Issues
The biggest topic of discussion during the town hall portion of the meeting was shipment and delivery issues, particularly with Ingram. Many of the attending booksellers reported significant delays in shipments, as well as issues with damaged books. A number of booksellers said it has led them to placing more direct orders from publishers, though some attendees also reported problems with Simon & Schuster in particular.

Hill encouraged all booksellers to let the ABA or Ingram know when this occurs, adding that it could be as simple as shooting her an e-mail. Asked whether orders receive priority during fulfillment, Hill said that Bookshop is not getting priority. However, the demand for direct-to-consumer shipping is much higher and there are staffing issues at many warehouses.

On the subject of SIBA's statement against racism and vow to confront implicit bias, Barrett said the staff and board took diversity and inclusion training in August and are reviewing the alliance's policies. SIBA wants to increase the number of BIPOC authors and illustrators represented in all of the alliance's programming and has doubled the size of its influencer group to bring in more diverse voices. During SIBA's next board meeting, the board will take a "very serious look" at changing policies related to diversity and inclusion, and they are working on reaching out to Black-owned member stores and trying to get them more involved. --Alex Mutter

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

New Voices, New Rooms: NAIBA Annual Meeting

At the annual meeting of the New Atlantic Independent Booksellers Association, held at the same time as the SIBA annual meeting, the focus was on NAIBA's work helping member bookstores during the pandemic, the successful virtual conference done with SIBA, and the new board officers and members who became part of the board during the meeting.

President Bill Reilly of river's end bookstore, Oswego, N.Y., started his report saying, "Who knew?" and recounted that just last fall, it was "business as usual." Seven months into the pandemic, "here we are working together to find what we hope will be the best way forward."

Bill Reilly

Since the pandemic started, "NAIBA, along with the rest of the world, pivoted." The association hosted Zoom meetings and socials, surveyed members, donated $25,000 to the Book Industry Charitable Foundation and, as part of Binc's #SaveIndieBookstores campaign, hosted a matching effort that raised more than $50,000 in donations. In addition, NAIBA extended dues for a year, and staff has been in close touch with the ABA, other regional associations and Binc. NAIBA has continued the Indie Playlist program and introduced the professional booksellers certification program. The board also attended an inclusion session with Cultures Connecting.

Executive director Eileen Dengler, who, with NAIBA staff, was deeply thanked for all her work and particularly this week's New Voices, New Rooms virtual conference, continues, Reilly said, to head advocacy efforts by calling and writing publishers to discuss "the practices we see as being harmful to independent bookstores."

Dengler, who is on the board of Binc, also gave a report about Binc's great work, all the more important this year given the pandemic's effect on bookselling as well as the recent wildfires on the West Coast.

Bill Reilly added: "It's always great to have a strong regional organization at your back, but, boy, it's never more important than in the times we've been enduring for the last six or seven months."

Hannah Oliver Depp

Secretary-treasurer Hannah Oliver Depp gave the treasurer's reports, saying that NAIBA has current assets of $666,000 and invested "a serious amount" in Covid-19 relief, helping Binc, extending memberships for a year and investing in future projects. The association is financially secure, she continued, but had been building up an operating budget "so that in case anything happened--which it did--we would be secure. We have spent some of that rainy day fund, but that's what it was for."

Rebecca Fitting, new NAIBA president

Past president Todd Dickinson of Aaron's Books, Lititz, Pa., and chair of NAIBA's nominating committee, introduced new board members and officers whose terms began at the meeting. (Bill Reilly, who with the changes became new past president, smilingly referred to it "the peaceful transfer of power on the NAIBA board.") Rebecca Fitting of Greenlight Bookstores, Brooklyn, N.Y., is the new president, and Hannah Oliver Depp of Loyalty Bookstores, Washington, D.C., and Silver Spring, Md., is the new v-p. Erin Matthews of Books with a Past, Glenwood, Md., is the new secretary-treasurer.

New members of the board are Dan Iddings of Classic Lines, Pittsburgh, Pa.; Veronica Liu of Word Up Community Bookshop, Washington Heights, New York City; and Noelle Santos of the Lit.Bar, Bronx, N.Y. Karen Torres of Hachette Book Group begins her next term.

Continuing board members are Michael Triebwasser of Politics & Prose, Washington, D.C.; Amanda Zirn Hudson of Bethany Beach Books, Bethany Beach, Del.; and Trish Brown of One More Page, Arlington, Va.

Fitting acknowledged and thanked Dickinson, as well as Rita Maggio of BookTowne, Manasquan, N.J., who is leaving the board. She called Maggio "one of my bookselling icons and mentors." --John Mutter

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

NECBA: Children's Author & Illustrator 'Breakfast'; Windows & Mirrors List

On Thursday morning, Beth Ineson, NEIBA executive director, welcomed viewers to the New England Children's Book Association's first virtual Children's Author and Illustrator "breakfast," a Zoom panel featuring seven children's and YA authors, introduced by NECBA booksellers. Over glasses of juice and mugs of tea and coffee, each of the authors conveyed their deep appreciation for the bookseller community before telling attendees a bit about their upcoming titles.

Anika Aldamuy Denise

NECBA co-chair Tildy Banker-Johnson from Belmont Books, Belmont, Mass., introduced the event and immediately handed the virtual reins to Kenny Brechner of Devaney, Doak & Garrett Booksellers in Farmington, Maine, who declared this moment in time a "golden age for nonfiction picture books." He called Anika Aldamuy Denise's A Girl Named Rosita (HarperCollins) "inspirational," a sentiment Denise included in her discussion of Rita Moreno: "The book is a tribute to a woman I deeply admire and have admired my whole life.... For a whole generation of Latinx kids who grew up watching her, her successes were ours." She thanked the booksellers "for continuing to champion books" before launching into her talk about her book and the "Rita-sance," a number of Rita-related projects all currently in motion, including a documentary by Lin Manuel Miranda and a Steven Spielberg adaptation of West Side Story with Moreno as executive producer.

Eric Gansworth

Introducing Eric Gansworth and his NBA longlisted title, Apple (Levine Querido), Katherine Fergason of the Harvard Book Store, Cambridge, Mass., expressed a sentiment common among many in the children's literature world: "It's in books for kids and young adults that some of the most progressive [ideas] exist." This is a strong point to make in relation to Apple, as the title itself is, in Gansworth's words, "an intra-group slur." "It is a challenging book. I can't deny that," he said, but "it's been a wild ride... for a book I never thought I would have the nerve to write."

Varian Johnson

Varian Johnson, who has the "wonderful quality of never forgetting what it felt like to be a child," according to Elizabeth Bluemle of The Flying Pig Bookstore in Shelburne, Vt., said that he had been seeking middle-grade books featuring young Black girls for his daughter when he decided to write Twins (Graphix). He wanted a woman of color, "specifically an African American woman, if possible," to illustrate the graphic novel and was thrilled to work with both a Black illustrator and a Black editor. "Of course, we want to showcase books with people of color," he said, "but we also want people of color behind the scenes."

Crystal Maldonado

Abby Roseberry Rice of The Briar Patch, Bangor, Maine, passionately introduced Crystal Maldonado and Fat Chance, Charlie Vega (Holiday House). Seemingly choked with emotion, Roseberry Rice told viewers that Maldonado "really hit what it's like to be an awkward teen in the world." (NEIBA marketing coordinator Ali Schmelzle wrote in the chat, "I think 9:39 AM is the new record for all of us getting misty-eyed.") Maldonado, herself somewhat emotional from such a demonstrative introduction, said she wrote for those who need to be seen and for herself as a teen: "I felt like I was straddling the line between two worlds.... This book is for fat girls, especially for fat brown girls."

Sy Montgomery

Sy Montgomery (Becoming a Good Creature, HMH), introduced by Rachael Conrad from Wellesley Books, Wellesley, Mass., was eager to express what she thought to be the positives of Zoom: animals. "I love to know that there's a lizard in the audience!" Talking about her book, Montgomery noted that, since "becoming a good creature is something that eludes so many of our politicians," now is a particularly good time "to introduce young readers to some of the good creatures that influenced my life."

Kelly Yang

Audrey Huang from Belmont Books introduced Kelly Yang, who spoke passionately about the racism she faced as a youth, paralleled in Three Keys: A Front Desk Novel (Scholastic). And Nicole Brinkley from Oblong Books & Music, Rhinebeck, N.Y., co-chair of NECBA and owner of the aforementioned lizard in the audience, introduced Courtney Summers, who described her upcoming novel The Project (Wednesday Books) as a book that "is just going to ruin your day." More positively, Summers pointed to the success of her earlier novel, Sadie, and the work indies did in promoting that book: "I couldn't do my work without you guys."

Diverse Books
Later in the afternoon, the NECBA Windows and Mirrors committee, which develops "a thoughtful, inclusive reading list of well-written and well-illustrated 'diverse' books" based on "the concept of windows and mirrors popularized by Dr. Rudine Sims Bishop," presented its fall list. Committee co-chair Read Davidson of the Harvard Book Store, who will also be stepping into Brinkley's place as the next NECBA co-chair, moderated a lively discussion with panelists Amy Andrews (The Children's Bookshop, Brookline, Mass.), Kinsey Forman (Odyssey Bookshop, South Hadley, Mass.), Steph Heinz (Print: A Bookstore, Portland, Maine), Audrey Huang and Lily Rugo (Harvard Book Store) of the 10 titles on the list. Perhaps even more engaging than the list of excellent titles chosen by the committee was the positive and supportive chat thread continued by the children's/YA bookseller community during the panel. The booksellers rained love not just on the books, but on the panelists, too. --Siân Gaetano, children's and YA editor

Ruby's Books Opening Today in Folsom, Calif.

Ruby's Books, an independent bookstore in Folsom, Calif., is opening today. Owned by Stacy Gould, Ruby's has 2,200 square feet of space "full of new books for all ages," she told Good Day Sacramento, which took a tour of the store that included a chat with Gould's son, who was painting a mural in the children's section, and a visit with the store's friendly, four-legged namesake. Another highlight: a special table display of books for kids and adults about late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Ruby's Books has been selling online via and carries "a highly curated selection of new books from many genres. We strive to create a space that will make readers of all ages want to come back again and again to fuel their love of books."

Stacy Gould said that she doesn't have bookselling experience, "but it has already led to me meeting so many wonderful people and their enthusiasm is absolutely contagious! We dream that Ruby's Books will be a true asset to our community, that it will eventually serve as a community gathering space and a place to encourage dialog. My biggest hope is that kids will fall in love with our children's section and remember Ruby's as the initial impetus for their lifelong love of reading!"

Obituary Note: Harold Evans

Harold Evans

Harold Evans, the "crusading British newspaperman who was forced out as editor of the Times of London by Rupert Murdoch in 1982 and reinvented himself in the United States as a publisher, author and literary luminary," died September 23, the New York Times reported. He was 92. Evans "climbed to success with relentless independence, innovative ideas and an appetite for risks that often led to postwar changes in journalism, publishing and public tastes on both sides of the Atlantic." He was knighted in 2004 for his services to journalism, despite having left Britain 20 years earlier and becoming an American citizen.

As president and publisher of Random House from 1990 to 1997, Evans "gained prominence and came to symbolize an era of change in publishing, a business unaccustomed to swift, startling moves," the New York Times wrote. "Acting with journalistic speed, Mr. Evans shook up staffs, spent millions, turned profits, provoked resentment and admiration, and created a buzz more often associated with Hollywood movies than books."

Evans published Norman Mailer, William Styron, E.L. Doctorow, Joe Klein’s anonymous 1996 novel Primary Colors, and Gen. Colin L. Powell's My American Journey (1995, with Joseph E. Persico), among many others. "He generated enormous publicity with his star-studded, sold-out literary breakfasts in Manhattan featuring panel discussions by famous authors, and he attracted a parade of celebrities to paparazzi-chronicled parties at the Evans-Brown garden apartment on fashionable Sutton Place on Manhattan’s East Side," the Times noted.

"He was the love of my life," author/publisher Tina Brown told the Associated Press about her late husband. "His magical optimism lifted up our family every day he was alive and I could have achieved nothing without him by my side."

Bob Woodward called Evans "a true genius. I know of no one else who had the range he had with words--as crusading editor, thoughtful writer, book publisher, book author and most importantly in energetic conversation."

As an author, Evans's books include The American Century (1998, with Gail Buckland and Kevin Baker); War Stories: Reporting in the Time of Conflict from the Crimea to Iraq (2003); They Made America: From the Steam Engine to the Search Engine, Two Centuries of Innovators (2004, with Gail Buckland and David Lefer); My Paper Chase: True Stories of Vanished Times (2009) and Do I Make Myself Clear? Why Writing Well Matters (2018).

"Harry stories could fill several volumes," retired Random House sales rep Ron Koltnow noted in a Facebook tribute. "I have other stories that can be shared only in private, not suitable here. He was a wag.... First Sonny [Mehta], now Harry. I am in a position to guarantee that the world will not see his like again."

In a tribute, historian Jon Meacham wrote: "As the publisher of Random House, Evans was a man of substance and of showmanship. He believed, rightly, that literature was most effective when people actually encountered it and devoted not inconsiderable time to promoting the books he loved....

"Summing up the long journey from Dunkirk to Dune Road on Long Island, where he loved spending time, Evans remarked, 'I often think of that today. I flew into America on the wings of hope, and it has not let me down.' In good times and bad, in sun and in storm, Sir Harold never let down the cause of truth or the claims of his friends. And there can be no greater victory than that."


Image of the Day: Queens' Open Borders Books

Every Sunday, in Jackson Heights, Queens, N.Y., Open Borders Books makes books available in at least two languages on a pay-what-you-like basis. Half of all the proceeds go to local aid organizations like Make the Road, New Immigrant Community Empowerment (NICE) and the Jackson Heights Community Fridge; the other half goes toward establishing a more permanent bookstore in Jackson Heights. The group is hosting its first book club on September 30.

Pictured: (l.-r.) the seven intrepid and bookish souls who spend four hours of every Sunday selling books on Jackson Heights' famed open street, 34th Avenue: Dave McMullin, Natasha Gilmore, Thomas Evans, Jeff Waxman, Emmy Catedral (in back), Katherine McLeod (in white) and Terrie Akers.

Halloween Spirit: New Dominion Bookshop

New Dominion Bookshop, Charlottesville, Va., "is getting in the fall spirit with spooky kids' books and our favorite local author, Edgar Allan Poe!"

Bookseller Cat of the Day: Mulan at Whistlestop Bookshop

Whistlestop Bookshop, Carlisle, Pa., shared a pic on Facebook of its feline bookseller handselling an appropriate new title, noting: "I do not stage Mulan. Mulan cannot be staged. A new book receives her approval."

Sidewalk Chalkboard: Second Star to the Right Books

Second Star to the Right Books, Denver, Colo., sent us a photo of its autumn-themed sidewalk chalkboard message: "We can’t make sweater weather come faster... but we’ve got books! (Close enough?)"

Media and Movies

TV: The Undoing; The Queen's Gambit

HBO has released a trailer for The Undoing, a limited series based on Jean Hanff Korelitz's 2014 novel You Should Have Known and adapted by writer and executive producer David E. Kelley. IndieWire reported that after being postponed earlier this year, the series has landed a new premiere date on October 25.

Kelley and Nicole Kidman, who teamed up for HBO's hit series Big Little Lies, "are aiming to replicate that success with the new project," IndieWire wrote. Directed by Susanne Bier (The Night Manager), the six-episode series stars Kidman, Hugh Grant, Edgar Ramírez, Noah Jupe, Lily Rabe, Noma Dumezweni, Sofie Gråbøl, Matilda De Angelis, Ismael Cruz Córdova, and Donald Sutherland.


The official trailer is out from Netflix for The Queen's Gambit, Scott Frank's adaptation of the 1983 novel by Walter Tevis, starring Anya Taylor-Jo (Split, Emma), IndieWire reported. The cast also includes Marielle Heller, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Moses Ingram, Harry Melling, and Bill Camp. Frank co-created the project with Allan Scott, and both men are executive producers along with William Horberg, who produced Anthony Minghella's adaptations of The Talented Mr. Ripley and Cold Mountain. Netflix will begin streaming The Queen's Gambit October 23.

Books & Authors

Awards: BookTrust Lifetime Achievement

British writer and illustrator David McKee, whose works include more than 50 picture books for Andersen Press, won the BookTrust Lifetime Achievement Award for a career spanning 60 years. McKee's Elmer books have sold more than 10 million copies worldwide, while Not Now, Bernard--which recently celebrated its 40th anniversary--has sold more than five million copies. In 2021, Mr. Benn will mark 50 years since first appearing on the BBC.

Regarding the award, McKee said, "The shock is hard to get over, and it still doesn't quite seem possible as I've never been one for the spotlight or winning awards but it's truly fantastic, and even though I still don't really believe it, I'm accepting it anyway, with great pleasure.... Children's books can contribute to changing attitudes and are instrumental in helping them shape their view of the world. Picture books are a child's first glimpse into the art world and in some way, especially with some of my books, the illustrations are actually more important than the story."

Chair of judges Nicolette Jones said McKee "has an amazing track record since 1964, with books such as King Rollo, Two Can Toucan and of course Elmer. David McKee understands the importance of always paying attention to children and what he gives them is first-rate. I hope readers continue to enjoy his marvelous work for years to come."

BookTrust's CEO Diana Gerald added: "David McKee and his patchwork elephant Elmer are synonymous with childhood and loved by children and parents alike. BookTrust is delighted to present David with our Lifetime Achievement Award after such an incredible contribution to children's literature that crosses cultures, generations and languages."

Andersen Press founder Klaus Flugge, who has worked with McKee for more than 50 years, observed: "David's is a singular voice and a shining light in children's books that highlights inclusivity, diversity and parts of our world that are not always present in children's books. Not only am I fortunate to be his publisher, he is a great friend, and there is no-one more deserving of this honor."

Book Review

Review: The Once and Future Witches

The Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow (Redhook, $28 hardcover, 528p., 9780316422048, October 13, 2020)

Alix E. Harrow (The Ten Thousand Doors of January) enters the ranks of the growing feminist witch genre with The Once and Future Witches, an expansive, angry and ultimately hopeful historical fantasy novel. Focused on three white sisters and including a diverse cast of secondary characters, this story takes place in an alternate-history 1893 New Salem, 200 years after the (fictional) complete destruction of Salem.

The initially estranged Eastwood sisters represent three archetypal witches and women: the Maiden, the Mother and the Crone, though Harrow makes clear that every woman is not just one thing. Eldest sister and librarian Bella is the Crone, often found researching spells and acting as the voice of reason. Pregnant middle sister Agnes is the Mother, at times hesitant to enter or continue the fight, worried about the immediate need to survive with and for her daughter. Much younger Juniper, half-feral and wildly optimistic, takes on the role of a warrior Maiden, coming to town after murdering the sisters' abusive father and immediately causing mayhem. She reunites the sisters at the beginning of the novel and remains the glue that holds them together.

Harrow's world-building is intricate, and the plot is full of smaller battles and acts of rebellion, but her protagonists are complex women with clear motivations. Like many other modern stories about witches, The Once and Future Witches deals heavily with feminist themes, including women's suffrage, sexual harassment and legal oppression, but Harrow also works to broaden the scope beyond white feminism. Harrow's diverse cast of secondary characters are working toward equity in other spheres, each with their own take on witching: the labor movement and unions, Black civil rights, sex work, and immigrant and LGBTQ+ experiences.

"These were women who were never tempted by the suffragists or their rallies or their high-minded editorials in the paper. Oh, they wanted the vote... but these were women who knew the difference between wanting and needing. The vote couldn't feed their children or shorten their shifts. It couldn't cure a fever or keep a husband faithful.... Maybe witching could."

As plague sweeps the city of New Salem, and its inhabitants are whipped into a witch-hunting frenzy by a powerful man and his moralizing allies, the stakes are raised ever higher, culminating in a battle that will have readers anxious to see if everything turns out all right. And though Harrow never pretends that change is immediate or easy, in the world she's created, witching is inside everyone, meaning that the power to affect change is within the grasp of all--if only we have the Will and the Ways. --Suzanne Krohn, editor, Love in Panels

Shelf Talker: Readers looking for a feminist alt-historical fantasy about reclaiming witchcraft and taking down the dominant power structures will be riveted.

Deeper Understanding

Robert Gray: NVNR--'General Emergency Planning'

"If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans" might seem to be the only rational life philosophy for a year like this, but John Cavalier, co-owner of Cavalier House Books and Looziana Book Co. in Denham Springs, La., has other ideas. He shared some of them earlier this week in a "General Emergency Planning" education session during the virtual New Voices, New Rooms conference, hosted by SIBA and NAIBA.

Noting that emergency preparedness and resiliency planning are not always the most pleasant topics to discuss, he said "this year in particular everybody feels a certain anxiety and a certain need for it," adding that the key is not about having all the answers, but gathering the right tools.

John Cavalier

As the Covid-19 pandemic continues to throttle booksellers' lives and businesses, "a constant thing I keep seeing on social media now is everyone talking about 2020; they can't wait for it to be over," Cavalier observed. "Well, I can't wait for 2020 to be over either, but I also realize that 2021 probably isn't going to be all kittens and sunshine. And so, there'll definitely be a need to make sure that we're prepared to go forward and make sure that whatever faces us in 2021, we'll have the right tools to make sure that we can respond accordingly."

Planning for an emergency should be considered a complement to planning for an opportunity, he stressed. "It's the same thing if you have an opportunity to expand your business or diversify revenue streams in a certain way--a publishing opportunity, an opportunity to buy your building--making sure that you have these fundamental tools and fundamental approaches on deck is going to pay off either way, whether something bad happens or something good happens."

For Cavalier, these strategies evolved out of a succession of incidents over the years since opening in 2009, but the "big grandaddy event" was the great flood of 2016, when "most of our city and most of our parish were under water for a period of about two or three days." This tragedy "changed my life and set me on a different trajectory and changed basically the way I think about everything on earth. It was devastating to our community; it was devastating to our business, and we had no choice but to figure it out.... You have no idea of the amount of transformation that takes place with something like that until it actually happens.... After that, we started rebuilding our lives, rebuilding our business.... Stuff happens, and in my mind the only way to meet it is just to be prepared for it."

During his presentation, Cavalier offered detailed tips, stressing this is "something that's evolutionary. You incorporate it into your daily life. You incorporate it into your thought processes, so that when you're operating your businesses, when you're living your life, you're trying to think of these things in the back of your mind, just to make it a little easier on yourself should anything bad happen, or should any opportunities come your way."

As might be expected for an indie bookseller, along with practical steps (offsite business options, digitized documents, intensive knowledge of insurance coverage and finances, diversification of revenue streams, etc.), a key factor is community involvement. Among other initiatives, Cavalier has actively participated in crafting the city's emergency preparedness plan.

"A huge part of making sure that you're as resilient as possible is making sure that your community is as resilient as possible," he said. "That's just the community you exist in with the relationships you have--relationships with your banker, your insurance agent, sales reps, credit reps, CPA, local elected officials. These are all people that I want to know on a first name basis and I want them to know me." This community also extends to national and regional book trade associations, the Book Industry Charitable Foundation and "your bookselling family."

In the Covid-19 era, as Cavalier's book fair and Looziana Book Co. business lags, the company's revenue stream has been its brick and mortar bookstore, online sales, "pivoting to PayPal and selling book bundles through Instagram and beefing up our online marketing," he said. "I really look at the work we've been doing with our online stuff as not just an extension of our store anymore, but I'm trying to think about it in terms of this is its own independent revenue stream. Yes it works hand in hand with the store and other aspects of our business, but I definitely see the value in keeping our website up to a point where pre-Covid it was lagniappe, it was just  extra to our brick and mortar business, but now I see the value in pursuing that further, which I'm sure most of you do."

Planning and preparedness may make God laugh, but Cavalier is committed to the process anyway, no matter what comes next: "It's a matter of when it's going to happen. And now, with Covid and all the tension in the air with civil unrest and political unrest and the potential for craziness with the election coming up, everybody definitely feels tense about it. But it's not just about trying to stop those things from happening; it's trying to grant yourself peace of mind that something's going to happen, and when it happens I'm going to be okay because I have all of these resources."

--Robert Gray, editor

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