Shelf Awareness for Friday, October 23, 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

Bookstores Are 'Central to the Fabric of Shared Values and Interests'

"[B]ookstores are cultural hubs in any community, central to the fabric of shared values and interests that make towns and cities vital. They lend character to a place and give residents and book lovers a sense of belonging. They often are as central to some people's private lives as local houses of worship or their homes....

"Bookstores--particularly independent ones--are unique and special in their own way. Although revenues are significant (maintaining profit margin is vital for their survival as profits are razor thin), this is basically result of an altogether nobler point: to be a peaceful and safe haven where readers can communicate ideas with an evangelical zeal through words and pictures."

--Paul Yamazaki, principal buyer at City Lights Booksellers, San Francisco, Calif., interviewed by Rishabh Chaddha in Medium

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


The Book Nook Arrives in Papillion, Neb.

DaRonn Washington at the Book Nook

The Book Nook, an independent bookstore offering new and used titles for all ages, opened two weeks in Papillion, Neb., the Omaha World-Herald reported. Prior to opening The Book Nook, owner DaRonn Washington sold books online, at flea markets and at a booth in Omaha's Mega Mart. 

Washington told the World-Herald that he's been pleasantly surprised by the community's warm welcome. "The mayor came by the other day, leaders of the Chamber of Commerce came by, a lot of the other vendors here, shop owners here [are] recommending and sending people down here."

He found a suitable location after roughly five years of testing the waters and getting a feel for the local market. He chose the location, at 118 N. Washington St. in Papillion, he explained, because there were no other independent bookstores in the immediate area.

In addition to books, the Book Nook carries DVDs, games and puzzles. Within a few weeks he plans to start buying books from community members.

"I am looking forward to being a part of the community from the standpoint of people coming in," Washington said. "And I live for the excitement that's on somebody's face when they see the book that they're looking for. That is what makes my day."

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

Bethany Beach Books Opening Second Location

Bethany Beach Books, Bethany Beach, Del., is opening its second location to the public next month, at 38017 Fenwick Shoals Blvd. in Selbyville. The new location will be a storefront and workspace for the company's Book Drop subscription box service.

In a recent Facebook post, the bookstore announced: "Coming soon to Fenwick Island! As an extension of Bethany Beach Books, readers can now officially visit the Book Drop! Shop bestsellers, find a hidden gem read, or pick up your Bethany Beach Books order. The Book Drop will be open to readers November 1st!"

The Book Drop is a subscription box program that was created in 2015 by Bethany Beach Books' manager & book buyer, Amanda Zirn Hudson, who "still curates every single subscription!" the bookseller noted. The program, which "strives to bring the independent bookstore experience to readers' doors all over the world via book each month... started in the little back office at Bethany Beach Books but quickly outgrew this space. We now pack every subscription by hand at our second location in Selbyville." Signs Up 100 U.K. Stores, Eyes Spain & Portugal expects to have about 100 stores on board for its launch in the U.K. next month, and is planning to target Spain and Portugal next, the Bookseller reported. Bookshop founder Andy Hunter told the IPG Autumn Conference he had been convinced to move forward quickly after receiving appeals from publishers and the Booksellers Association of the U.K. and Ireland.

"I think in the first month we're on-boarding about 100 shops," he said. "Something like that doesn't exist in the U.K. so it could be very, very useful. With fears of a second wave and how important the holiday season is for stores we just felt like we had no choice. If our mission is to keep independent bookstores alive and we could potentially make a difference in the U.K., we just decided that we had to try."

Plans call for Bookshop to be rolled out in Spain and Portugal next, with Hunter wanting "to go everywhere the model would work and was needed, with interest from countries including India, Italy and France so far," the Bookseller noted.

Hunter also observed: "Everybody needs to acknowledge that a healthy ecosystem is more than just Amazon. Even if Amazon is an important source of revenue for publishers, which I know it is, having a more diverse ecosystem will strengthen everybody's business."

The Riot Act Opens in Binghamton, N.Y.

Riot Act, a volunteer-run, "anti-profit" bookshop with a goal of providing resources for political and social change, has opened in Binghamton, N.Y., Pipe Dream reported.

The store is located at the Carriage House Annex at the Museum of History and Art and stocks books such as Take Back the Land by Max Rameau, Rosa Parks: My Story by Rosa Parks and Sisters of the Revolution by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer. In acknowledgement of the store residing on Onondaga territory, Riot Act also carries resources and reading material about the Onondaga Nation's land rights actions. There is also a reparations fund, allowing Black and Indigenous people to shop free of cost.

"We don't have paid staff and we're using all proceeds from sales to fight for a world that values people, not money," the staff wrote in a collective statement. "We do this mainly by spreading the works and creations of people that capitalism, white supremacy and empire have tried to destroy or submit."

All of the money Riot Act makes from sales either goes directly back to running and stocking the store or to supporting activists and other organizations fighting for change. The bookshop is open five days a week and is currently allowing only one person or "small quarantine cohort" in at a time.

Former Crown Exec Molly Stern Forms Zando Publishing House

Molly Stern
(photo: Marc Goldberg)

Molly Stern, who nearly two years ago left her position as senior v-p and publisher of Crown Publishers, Hogarth and Archetype when Crown was merged with Random House, is launching a publishing house called Zando. The new venture is in partnership with Sister, which was formed in 2019 by Elisabeth Murdoch, Stacey Snider and Jane Featherstone to "develop, produce and invest in visionary storytellers." Murdoch, the daughter of Rupert Murdoch, has a long background in film and TV, some of it with Murdoch companies and was founder of Shine Group. Snider was chairman and CEO of Murdoch's 20th Century Fox until its sale to Disney. Featherstone, who has a background in TV, founded Sister Pictures, which created Broadchurch and HBO's Chernobyl. Stern most recently been advising Spotify on the growth of its audiobook business.

Zando aims both to publish titles itself and to "collaborate with influential people, platforms and institutions [called catalyst partners] to acquire and publish new titles under their own imprints," Zando said. Zando and the catalyst partners will "champion a diverse range of talented authors" and the catalyst partners will curate the books they publish--an average of three annually--and "drive awareness and sales for those titles by communicating their advocacy and leveraging their influence."

The New York Times called this "an unusual marketing and publicity model. Rather than relying chiefly on bookstores, retailers, advertising and other traditional channels to promote authors, [Stern] plans to team up with high-profile individuals, companies and brands, who will act as publishing partners and promote books to their fans and customers."

Stern is negotiating with several possible catalyst partners--"a handful of high-profile cultural figures"--and will announce them individually soon. The company's first titles will appear in fall 2021. Zando's name, the Times said, is a reference to Stern's sons, Zach and Oscar.

Stern will lead Zando as chief executive, and the board will include Elisabeth Murdoch and Stacey Snider of Sisters, which is providing "a significant start-up investment," as well as Matt Lieber, co-founder of Gimlet, the narrative podcasting company, and David Benioff, screenwriter, co-creator of HBO's Game of Thrones and author of, among other titles, City of Thieves.

Highlights of Stern's 25-year publishing career include editing Michelle Obama's blockbuster memoir, Becoming, and publishing three Pulitzer Prize winners--Matthew Desmond's Evicted, Geraldine Brooks's March, and Tom Reiss's The Black Count--as well as winners of the Man Booker International Prize (Han Kang's The Vegetarian) and National Book Critics Circle Award. Other popular titles have included Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn and Ready Player One by Ernest Cline.

Also, in a move that might mirror the Zando model with Catalyst Partners, in 2016 Stern created an imprint at Hogarth for Sarah Jessica Parker, actress, producer and entrepreneur best known for playing Carrie Bradshaw in Sex and the City. Called SJP, the imprint was to publish three or four works of fiction a year and its titles included A Place for Us by Fatima Farheen Mirza and Golden Child by Claire Adam. The imprint appears to be inactive now.

How Bookstores Are Coping: Holiday Prep; Saved by Subscription Service

In Ithaca, N.Y., Buffalo Street Books was closed from the middle of March until July 1. General manager Lisa Swayze reported that when the community-owned bookstore had to close in March, it had to lay off all staff except herself and the part-time bookkeeper. She continued to come in to process online orders as the store got its IndieCommerce site up and running.

Since reopening in July, the store has begun bringing back some staff members, though the size of the team is still reduced as hours and occupancy are both limited. Masks and hand sanitizer are required and the store is still offering front-of-store pick-up. Swayze added that they've had almost no mask resistance, and only "occasional grumpiness" from people waiting to get inside the store.

When asked whether there have been any surprising bright spots over the past seven months, Swayze said there have actually been many. The response to the store's online shop has been great, with orders coming in from throughout New York State and around the country, and another bright spot has been the ongoing community support. As a community-owned cooperative, she noted, there is already a "strong base of built-in stakeholders," so when the store launched its GoFundMe campaign in the spring there was strong and immediate support.

The store has also had great success with Zoom events, said Swayze. Virtual events have allowed Buffalo Street Books to connect with authors who would probably never have been able to make it all the way to Ithaca for an event. A highlight was a Well-Read Black Girl book club event that was attended virtually by Glory Edim, the founder of Well-Read Black Girl, and author Elizabeth Acevedo. Although these events have been popular, Swayze continued, they are not generating a lot of sales.

On the subject of ordering for the holidays, Swayze said she put together an Edelweiss list of around 90 key titles that she plans to promote and try to keep in stock. To that end, she's ordering early and in larger quantities that she has been throughout the pandemic. Even so, she's ordering far fewer books this holiday season that she would in a normal year. For fall 2019, for example, she ordered more than $36,000 in new titles. This year she ordered less than $20,000 in new titles.

In recent weeks, she's been putting all of the ABA's marketing material about shopping early to use, as well as the Don't Box Out Bookstores material. In fact, she thinks the latter campaign led to a jump in online sales last week. The store will continue to get the message out about early shopping, and she noted that she's been resharing a lot of information from other bookstores and other booksellers, including Danny Caine at The Raven Book Store in Lawrence, Kan. Since the summer the store has also been encouraging its customers to shop online from other indies, particularly Black-owned indies, and Swayze said that "feels good." 

Swayze said she's incredibly grateful for the support from the ABA, NAIBA and other indie bookstores, and is hopeful the store will make it through the holidays. But she's also very nervous about case numbers rising in her community, and the possibility that the store may have to close again.


Lauren Savage, owner of The Reading Bug in San Carlos, Calif., reported that the front 25% of her store is open for limited browsing with masked booksellers behind ropes and plexiglass to assist with browsing. Hours have been reduced by about 50% to accommodate "exhausted booksellers and our crazy shipping schedule." She called the arrangement "far from ideal" and noted that they can help only three families at a time.

The store is still taking online orders and has set up a new curbside pick-up area. Online orders continue to play a major role in their business, and the other 75% of the store is still a shipping warehouse. The store's subscription service, the Reading Bug Box, has expanded by 50% over the past six months, and that subscription service is "saving our brick-and-mortar for now." Savage and her team are also doing outdoor storytime sessions three mornings a week.

Masks are mandatory for all customers and staff, with signs and stanchions in place to keep families on one side of the store. Every item that gets handled but not purchased is put in a box and kept out of reach for 24-36 hours, and there are two outdoor fixtures that get rolled in and out each day. Savage pointed out that prior to the pandemic, the store would have 40-50 children running around every morning, but she and her team do not see a safe way of opening up the entire store again until there is a vaccine.

One very bright spot has been the store's podcast, Reading Bug Adventures, which features stories and music written and performed by Savage and her family; it now has more than 1.5 million downloads worldwide. It is largely supported by publishers, as well as individual Patreon donors. Savage added that they get fan mail every day in the form of pictures drawn by listeners and letters from parents.

When asked about the holidays, Savage said that things are so "day-to-day" at the store that the holidays are a major question mark. Halloween sales were decent, but she admitted that the store was very late to order frontlist for the holidays and she's just finished her sidelines buying, which is usually done in August. "I am very much looking forward to the holiday spirit, though." --Alex Mutter


Turning Page Bookshop 'Makes Local Connection'

The city of Goose Creek, S.C., showcased Turning Page Bookshop owner VaLinda Miller's ability to make local connections, noting that Miller "recounts the story of a local customer, a young disabled man, who visited the store with his mother. VaLinda's store manager, Arrylee Satterfield, took the time to help him learn how to make change from his purchase. While this brought on tears of gratitude from the mother, it spurred instant loyalty from the young man. Now, he visits at least twice a month to shop and gab with the manager.

"Others in the community have visited for book clubs and book signings. Miller has invited the Chief of Police, officers in the sheriff's department and city council members to read to children. She hopes a teen night for local teenagers to hang out, turn off their phones and connect with each other will take off. During the pandemic, she's noticed that more people come by just to browse, have a cup of coffee and chat. Other local business owners are stepping up, too. Miller mentions the owners of nearby restaurants who come in and purchase books, and she reciprocates at their businesses. 'We support each other,' she said."

Personnel Changes at Berkley

At Berkley:

Jessica Mangicaro is promoted to marketing manager.

Elisha Katz is promoted to marketing coordinator.

Natalie Sellars is promoted to marketing coordinator.

Tara O'Connor is promoted to publicist.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Matthew McConaughey on Real Time with Bill Maher

HBO's Real Time with Bill Maher: Matthew McConaughey, author of Greenlights (Crown, $30, 9780593139134).

Movies: Where the Crawdads Sing

Daisy Edgar-Jones (Normal People) will star as Kya in the film adaptation of Delia Owens's novel, Where the Crawdads Sing, Deadline reported. Set up at Sony, the film is directed by Olivia Newman from a screenplay by Lucy Alibar. Reese Witherspoon and Lauren Neustadter are producing for Hello Sunshine with Elizabeth Gabler, Erin Siminoff and Aislinn Dunster overseeing the project for 3000 Pictures.

Books & Authors

Awards: International Dublin Literary Winner

Irish author Anna Burns won the €100,000 (about $118,190) International Dublin Literary Award for her novel Milkman (Graywolf Press). Burns is the first writer from Northern Ireland and the fourth woman to claim the award in its 25-year history. The winner was announced at a special online event as part of the International Literature Festival Dublin, which runs online until October 28.

The judging panel commented: "Reading this book is an immersive experience. Once experienced, Anna Burns's Milkman will never be forgotten. The reader becomes the world of the book. There was simply no other novel like it on the longlist. Many novels come and go but this tour-de-force is a remarkable achievement. We read it with huge admiration and gratitude. When we finished it, we felt enriched, informed, wiser. A description of what this original book is about fails to do it justice. Its brilliance lies in its compelling, questioning voice, its strong individual, resilient narrator, its evocation of place, its threatening and sinister atmosphere, its description of what Burns calls lives of 'nervous caution.' Milkman soon emerged as a frontrunner and naming it our eventual winner was a unanimous decision."

Calling the award "an extraordinary honor--especially given the fantastic list I find myself on," Burns thanked "the Lord Mayor of Dublin, Hazel Chu, and Dublin City Council for being the patron and the host of this generous award. Also I salute them for representing Dublin's position at the cultural heart of world wide literature.... To go from being a wee girl haggling over library cards with my siblings, my friends, neighbors, my parents and my aunt, to be standing here today receiving this award is phenomenal for me."

Reading with... Traci Thomas

photo: Claire Leahy

Traci Thomas is the host of The Stacks, a podcast about books and the people who love them. She is passionate about books and the ways they shape cultural understandings of race, gender, politics and what it means to be alive. New episodes of The Stacks come out every Wednesday and the program has featured guests like Kiese Laymon, Bakari Sellers, Brit Bennett, Ibram X. Kendi and many more. Thomas lives in Los Angeles with her husband and twin sons.

On your nightstand now:

I don't keep any books on my nightstand. I have a platform bed, so my current book and my e-reader live there instead. My nightstand is for water, lip balm and my mouth guard (since I have a habit of grinding my teeth in my sleep). As for what I'm reading on my e-reader right now, All's Well That Ends Well by William Shakespeare and Emergency Contact by Mary H.K. Choi. The physical book that's taking up space on my bed? Nobody: Casualties of America's War on the Vulnerable, from Ferguson to Flint and Beyond by Marc Lamont Hill.

Favorite book when you were a child:

Charlotte's Web by E.B. White is a book I loved as a kid. I also loved James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl. When I got to middle school, Go Ask Alice by Anonymous really excited me. It was not something I felt like I should be reading, and I loved that.

Your top five authors:

I can't name a top five. Mostly because I'm still reading through the catalogues of some of my favorite writers, like Jesmyn Ward and Jason Reynolds. I do know I love Jon Krakauer, Kiese Laymon and Lacy M. Johnson, who write in totally different styles but they're incredible. Then there are newer authors who I'm excited to see what they do next, like Brit Bennett and Saeed Jones.

Book you've faked reading:

I don't do that. Is that something people do? I'm not ashamed to admit I haven't read something. We've all got major gaps in our reading. Why pretend otherwise?

Book you're an evangelist for:

Jesus Land by Julia Scheeres is an incredible memoir, and I wished more people would read it. Also her other book, A Thousand Lives, which is about Jonestown and is an all-time favorite book.

Book you've bought for the cover:

I can't think of one, but I fully admit to judging most books by their cover. It's disingenuous to pretend otherwise. That's that first impression. Sure, I've read books with gorgeous covers that I've hated, and books that suffered from hideous packaging have found a place in my heart, but in truth most books I buy are because they caught my eye with the cover first.

Book you hid from your parents:

I never had to do that. Thankfully.

Book that changed your life:

The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson, about the Great Migration. I didn't know much of the history of Black people moving around the United States even though that history is the history of my family. My dad was part of the great migration and I never knew that was a thing until I read the book. It is a masterpiece in writing and form and the amount of rigorous research that went into it. The book changed the way I see myself and Black people around me in the world.

Favorite line from a book:

I am the worst at remembering lines from books. I so wish that I could. I love when authors come on the podcast and quote lines of text. I can barely remember the plot of most the books I read let alone lines.

Five books you'll never part with:

Stamped from the Beginning by Ibram X. Kendi
Blood in the Water by Heather Ann Thompson
My box set collection from childhood of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
Sula by Toni Morrison

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

I remember being so obsessed with The Hunger Games in my early 20s. It was a time when I was getting back into reading, and I just loved the suspense in that story. If I were to reread it now, I think it would be way less fun because I know what's going to happen and that was 95% of what kept me interested throughout the series.

Some books that are coming out soon that you're looking forward to reading:

I love looking ahead to books that are coming soon, and a few that have me very excited are The Prophets by Robert Jones Jr., Memorial by Bryan Washington, The Mouthless God and Jesus Number Two by Jason Reynolds, The Dead Are Arising by Les Payne and Tamara Payne, Anna K Away by Jenny Lee, Black Futures by Kimberly Drew and Jenna Wortham. That's just to name a few but there are so, so, so many more, and I can't wait to read them all!

Book Review

Review: The Star-Crossed Sisters of Tuscany

The Star-Crossed Sisters of Tuscany by Lori Nelson Spielman (Berkley, $16 paperback, 400p., 9781984803160, November 17, 2020)

Long-simmering resentments and buried secrets permeate The Star-Crossed Sisters of Tuscany, a romantic, beautifully rendered, sweepingly complex family saga.

Emilia Antonelli, 29, of Bensonhurst in Brooklyn, is a second-generation Italian American. She lives a simple, manageable life, resigned to remaining single forever, working in the family delicatessen and bakery and making "the best cannoli in New York," while also secretly pursuing a "little writing hobby." Emilia lives under the shadow of a family curse that goes back 200 years: all second-born daughters are cursed to live a life without love. When Emilia was two years old and her sister, Daria--now married, with children--was four, their mother died. The girls were raised by their mild-mannered father, who also works in the deli/bakery, and the domineering Nonna Rosa--their mother's mother; the surly, infinitely controlling backbone of the family. Nonna Rosa favors Daria, the first-born granddaughter. She belittles and lords her power over most members of the family, especially Emilia.

Emilia's life takes a drastic turn when she receives a letter from Paolina Fontana, her long-lost great-aunt, who lives in Philadelphia. "Aunt Poppy" is flamboyant, artsy and colorful. She is the younger sister of Nonna Rosa, shunned by the family decades earlier; the siblings had a dramatic falling out upon emigrating to the U.S. Everyone in the family has been forbidden to see Poppy for years. But Poppy writes to Emilia and Luciana, another second-born cousin, offering to treat them both to an all-expenses-paid trip to Italy to celebrate Poppy's 80th birthday. At the cathedral in the town of Ravello, Poppy intends to reunite with her one true love, with the intention of also breaking the family curse. Emilia, intrigued by the prospect, bucks Nonna Rosa's staunch disapproval and sets off on the opportunity of a lifetime.

What ensues is an exciting excursion through Italy--its culture and fineries; romance and history--for the three women. Aunt Poppy proves warm, charming and wise. Why was Poppy ostracized from the family for all those years? Why did she resurface now? And is it possible for each of the three second-born women finally to find happy romantic endings?

Lori Nelson Spielman's (Sweet Forgiveness) epic oozes her great affection and knowledge of all things Italian. First-rate storytelling and nuanced, clearly defined characters will captivate readers right up to the surprising finale. --Kathleen Gerard, blogger at Reading Between the Lines

Shelf Talker: A delightful romantic story centered on three single women of an Italian family who set off to Italy to break a 200-year-old curse.

Deeper Understanding

Robert Gray: Irish Book Week--Celebrating Hope, Defying #2020

Perhaps that's because ultimately, this isn't just my story to share. It is the story of so many people in Ireland, and so many people across the world. The story of people trying to make sense of life, to hold on and to have hope during troubled times.

--Ruairí McKiernan, Hitching for Hope: A Journey into the Heart and Soul of Ireland (Chelsea Green)

Is now a good time to consider hope as a viable business strategy? Maybe it is. The third annual Irish Book Week is currently underway, marking "the contribution that bookshops make to Irish culture, the economy and the revenue." In anticipation, chair of Bookselling Ireland Heidi Murphy asked book lovers to "show your support in a practical way, because shopping with your local bookshop is the most effective way to ensure their survival and success, and that really is something worth celebrating."

Because it is still #2020--a year that has earned its own nefarious hashtag--IBW is complicated, of course. The week began with news that Dublin city council had greenlit a controversial plan to convert the house made famous by James Joyce's story "The Dead" into a hostel ("Could Irish Book Week have got off to a worse start?"). Then Ireland enacted a new Covid-19 lockdown, requesting that people stay at home and non-essential shops close for six weeks, with a review after four. Northern Ireland had imposed tighter restrictions last week, with hospitality venues closing but most shops allowed to remain open.

Still, IBW did manage to get off to a cracking start:

At Bridge Street Books

Halfway up the Stairs, Greystones: "Happy #IrishBookWeek everyone! Celebrate by visiting your local bookshop and buying an Irish book--there are so many wonderful books out at the moment...!"

Bridge Street Books, Wicklow: "Today marks the start of Irish Book Week... a week long celebration of bookshops in Ireland and, well, books! To celebrate, we have put together a week of Irish book reading, great Irish authors not only for this week, but for Christmas and beyond. Whether you want to read alone, or share, there is a book for everyone!"

But there were also omens:

Banner Books, Ennistimon: "It is Sunday and we are open. The weather is fine, it is #BookshopWeek, we have bunting and SO MANY fabulous books. I might have got it wrong yesterday when I said we'd be open for all seven days of Bookshop Week, since level 4 or 5 is looking more and more likely--in fact, my saying we'd be open could have jinxed the whole country, so apologies for that. With the threat of lock down looming, today might be a good day to get in your reading material, just in case."

And then, as they say, sh*t got serious:

Maynooth Bookshop, Kildare: "Like most bookshops we will be closing our doors to the public again this evening for 6 weeks and switching to selling online and over the phone. If you enjoy browsing the shelves of a bookshop now more than ever is the time to support them."

Book orders ready to go at Kennys Bookshop

Kennys Bookshop, Galway: "Our last day open for browsers in the bookshop & art gallery for 6 weeks! Rest assured we'll continue to process orders from behind closed doors. Our thanks for all the custom & support of us & other Irish businesses.... And so it begins. Stay safe everyone."

Gutter Bookshop, Dublin: "Phone ringing constantly, 300 e-mails in the inbox... here we go again... #lockdownmeltdown. We're currently about 48 hours behind processing orders, we'll get you sorted as quickly as we can. Patience is a wonderful virtue.... Just left work. Both shops offering click & collect from tomorrow or post outs from Cow's Lane. Felt like Xmas Eve in Temple Bar--not sure having the craic whilst huddling together for warmth was exactly the plan we were going for but there we go..."

Meryl Halls, executive director of the Booksellers Association of the U.K. and Ireland, tweeted: "We hoped we wouldn't have to use these images again, but.... For book-lovers in Ireland and Wales, remember your bookshops are open for business, even if closing temporarily. They'll love hearing from you and recommending your perfect gifts."

As the new lockdown measures began, Bookselling Ireland's Murphy told the Bookseller: "Our message to the book-lovers of Ireland is that bookshops are open. We know how important book-reading was to people during the initial lockdown. We know that customers want to shop early and we know that people are shopping earlier than ever for Christmas. Bookshops will rise to the challenge, and via phone, e-mail, websites and social media they will be taking orders for delivery or click and collect for their immediate area to continue to supply Ireland’s book lovers."

I've been reading Ruairí McKiernan's great new book about hitching across Ireland, looking for signs of hope. He recently told the Irish Times: "We often don't appreciate what we have until it's gone. When bookshops closed at the end of March, I was offered a reminder of this universal truth.... Since the country re-opened I've made it my business to visit as many bookshops as possible and I'll soon reach number 40 on my list.

"In these bookshops, I've experienced something much more important than seeing my book on the shelves.... The experience has reminded me there is much more to bookshops than meets the eye, for our bookshops are lighthouses for connection and imagination. In an increasingly virtual world starved of meaningful human connection, bookshops should be celebrated and supported like never before. I for one won't be taking their existence for granted again."

Cause for hope, indeed.

--Robert Gray, editor

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