Shelf Awareness for Tuesday, November 3, 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

Indie Bookstores: 'Space for Narrative & for Stories'


"It is not hyperbole to say that I would not have written Memorial and I would not have written Lot if not for the indie bookstores in my community. Houston is not a city that is overly inundated with indie bookstores, yet each of them is a boon, and each of them is a source of community, and each of them is a space for narrative and for stories, for folks coming from all over the city. In a city as diverse as Houston is, you really do need those spaces. In a lot of ways, these spaces really are third places. You're able to be in communion with folks that are just interested in story and the different ways that story can hold importance in our lives. It's a really rare thing to have in general, especially in our moment when everything has to be monetized and everything has to have a tangible outcome--to have a space where you can just be and talk about narrative and not have to come to any hard conclusions."

--Bryan Washington, whose novel Memorial (Riverhead) is the #1 November 2020 Indie Next List pick, in a q&a with Bookselling This Week

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


Holiday Pop-Ups: Title IX by Bank Square Books; Northshire's Pick-Up Pop-Up Book Shop

Bank Square Books, Mystic, Conn., will open a pop-up bookstore for the holiday season in New London, at 345 State Street in a small stone building known as the Cottage, part of the Garde Arts Center properties.

Title IX: A Pop-Up by Bank Square Books, which will host a grand opening November 21, will "seek to serve the diverse community of New London with a specially curated collection of books that features not only bestsellers and classics for adults and children alike, but also a selection of books that investigate, inform, and inspire social justice."

The Cottage at Garde Arts Center

"After being asked for years, the time has come for Bank Square Books to provide a pop-up bookstore to the New London community," said owner Annie Philbrick. "In partnership with the City of New London and the Garde Theater, we are thrilled to bring you a carefully curated bookstore where you can discover a fresh realm of literary delights."

Bank Square bookseller Olivia Dodd, who will be running the Title IX pop-up, said, "New London needs a bookstore that will serve the people who work and live there, and we hope the books we plan to carry will represent that."

The bookstore is named after Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in educational programs and activities that receive federal financial assistance.


Northshire Bookstore, Manchester Center, Vt., has opened its Pick-up Pop-up Book Shop at 50 Spring Street in Williamstown, Mass. For two months, until December 31, customers can make purchases at for free local pickup at the end of each week in the pop-up location. Northshire will "be making pony-express-style deliveries of the week's haul" to the Williamstown shop every Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

No browsing is permitted in the pop-up. Northshire noted that customers are invited to approach the table inside the entrance to collect previously purchased books, and "will be protected here by plexiglass in a new sort of cross between Dairy Queen counter and bank-teller's window. But the space they enter will look and feel (and sound!) quite different from either of those references, as the shop has also been transformed into a music-filled window display intended to be nothing less than transporting."

The scene in the window is a Sherlock Holmesian room, meant to evoke a place to read and disappear into books. The display features a collection of painted figures by North Adams artist Danielle Klebes; Victorian furnishings on loan from Empire Antiques of Williamstown; a turntable spinning records; and hand-painted signage by the Oster Sign Company in North Adams.

"Indeed the spirit of the effort here is to support books, reading, music, art, local business, community, street life, college life, collaboration, beauty, fun, and surprise," Northshire said. "In a time when optimism is holding on by a thread, the need for this kind of contribution seems nothing less than vital."

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

International Update: Launches in U.K., 'Considerably Reduced' Postal Rates for French Booksellers launched yesterday in the U.K. with 150 indie bookshops already signed up and expectations of 200 stores being on board by the end of the year, the Bookseller reported, adding that U.K. publishers that have signed on thus far include Atlantic Books, Faber, Picador, Jacaranda, Fitzcarraldo Editions and Andersen Press.

First day sales amounted to £65,000 (about $84,425), earning £16,000 (about $20,780) for independent bookstores. Bookshop U.K. managing director Nicole Vanderbilt said, "We are heartened by the response we've had in our first day of trading and hope this is a sign that consumers are ready to change their habits during these difficult times in order to support the independent bookshops we all love."

Andy Rossiter of Rossiter Books, with stores in Ross-on-Wye, Monmouth and Leominster, said: "Being an independent bookseller has for so many years been such a David v Goliath battle that it feels slightly disconcerting when someone at last hands you a bazooka instead of you peppering away with your slingshot."

Georgia Eckert, of Imagined Things Bookshop in Harrogate, added: "It's brilliant to be part of something that is bigger than what us indies could do individually or together, that has independents at its heart and celebrates the brilliance of our independence through our individually collated lists.... Disruption to the current, dangerous status quo of Amazon having such a huge market share and publishers and affiliates linking to them is essential, timely and will make a big difference to indie bookshops."

Bookshop founder and CEO Andy Hunter observed: "Bookshops are essential to a healthy culture, and online sales are vital to safeguarding their future. We can't afford to lose them. Covid-19 has added further urgency to the need for bookshops to compete for online sales.'s mission is to empower customers in supporting local, bricks and mortar bookstores, providing book buyers with an easy way to shop online while continuing to support their local high street."


With England heading into a second national lockdown Thursday, Waterstones managing director James Daunt said that click-and-collect could be a game-changer for high street booksellers, and called on the government to classify all retailers that have worked hard to become Covid-safe environments as "essential," the Bookseller reported.

Daunt said Waterstones was better prepared for a second lockdown due to click-and-collect: "For us, it's a huge positive. It means we'll move from a browsing model to one built around collection. What we don't know yet is how customers will respond, but potentially it does offer a narrow path through this for us. It's a significant difference this time around... depending on the details, and how customers behave, it could be a game-changer."

Noting that the lockdown is "not the end of the world for us," Daunt said: "It looks a lot more difficult for independents, including for my own business Daunt Books, where the systems are not necessarily the best." He will not, however, be using for Daunt Books, saying that he was "deeply skeptical" of affiliate schemes, however well intentioned.


Responding to the government's decision to permit high-street shops to remain open for "delivery to customers and click-and-collect," Booksellers Association managing director Meryl Halls tweeted: "Bookshops--and high streets--need adaptive and activist behavior by consumers in this ever-more challenging lockdown landscape. We know book-lovers love, value, appreciate bookshops on high streets. Right now, we all need to prove that love. We need to USE THEM."

Regarding's debut, Halls posted: "This launch gives the U.K. book-loving community a place to coalesce for online shopping with indies. It's been a lockdown life-saver for U.S. indies. The timing is heart-breaking but timely."


French minister of culture Roselyne Bachelot told LCI Monday that postal rates will be "considerably reduced" for shipments of books ordered in bookstores (via Pledge Times). "I obtained, we obtained, that the postal rates of booksellers are considerably reduced," she said. "We will divide (these postage rates) at least by three or four... it will depend on the shipments, because if you buy ten books or one, they are not the same rates." She also advised: "Don't buy books on digital platforms.... Amazon is stuffing itself, it's up to us not to stuff it up." The minister noted that "sales by 'click and collect' or by mailings will not be counted towards receiving aid (from the government), it is a full bonus."

Bloomberg had reported Sunday that the French government "is facing stiffer resistance to its second lockdown to contain the spread of the coronavirus, forcing it to rewrite rules on book sales and consider lifting restrictions early for smaller stores." Late Sunday, Prime Minister Jean Castex said he would ban supermarkets from selling non-essential products such as toys or books "as a matter of fairness." Yesterday morning, finance minister Bruno Le Maire announced he would look at the option of reopening small stores as soon as November 12 instead of December 1. --Robert Gray

How Bookstores Are Coping: Many Bright Spots; Early Shopping Push

In Atlanta, Ga., A Cappella Books remains closed to in-store browsing, reported owner Frank Reiss. The store's entire inventory is available on its website, and customers can place special orders there as well. At checkout, there're options for curbside pick-up, home delivery (depending on ZIP code) and shipping. Reiss noted that this became the store's new normal pretty much as soon as the pandemic hit, and it will probably "remain our normal until it is over." He and his team have considered adding some form of appointment shopping, but don't feel comfortable enough yet to move ahead with it, given the new surge in cases.

On the subject of safety precautions, Reiss pointed out the store is so small that not letting customers in is the "only realistic safety precaution we have been able to put in place." The store's regular customers, as well as the overwhelming majority of people who come by, are understanding and supportive. Still, it is not terribly uncommon for "unsuspecting strangers" to walk up and try to yank the door open. Reiss added: "Yankers typically don't wear masks."

Staff members, meanwhile, work in small shifts and wear masks. There is hand sanitizer at every work station and shared surfaces are cleaned frequently.

When asked about any bright spots amid the pandemic, Reiss said there have been many, mostly involving the support and appreciation the store has received from its customers. Though home deliveries have presented some significant challenges, they've proven to be a great way to connect personally with a lot of customers, and he plans to continue doing deliveries when the "original impetus for doing it has passed." Also, being forced to communicate remotely has led the team to recognizing all sorts of ways they can improve their systems in that regard.

For the most part, the store's approach to holiday buying this year was fairly normal, since A Cappella Books is "generally pretty conservative on that front anyway." Reiss explained that the store is not "big on encouraging our customers to do anything in particular," and while the fourth quarter is usually the store's best quarter, A Cappella is less dependent on massive holiday sales than many other bookstores.

The store's biggest revenue hit has been from lost event sales, but thankfully some of the bookstore's community partners have been very active on the virtual events front. Virtual events can't replace the real thing, in terms of sales or experience, but they have helped soften the blow. And they've allowed the store to work with some "truly incredible" authors who normally would never have been able to visit.


Casey Coonerty Protti, owner of Bookshop Santa Cruz in Santa Cruz, Calif., said her store is open to the public, and though there are no mandatory restrictions on occupancy in California, she and her team have capped things at 25%. The store continues to offer curbside pick-up and shipping as well. 

Masks are required and customers must use hand sanitizer upon entry, and there is a greeter at the front door to make sure these things happen. The most recent change Protti and her team have made has been alternating the spaces staff members use during breaks and lunches, so that no unmasked employee is near another unmasked employee. She noted that they feel the biggest risk is among staff, as "we spend the most amount of time together." As such, there are very strict policies in place about social distancing, mask wearing and sanitizing for staff.

At this point, Protti continued, she couldn't imagine her customers ever allowing her to get rid of curbside pick-up. Many of the store's systems have been updated in beneficial ways, including texting customers when special orders arrive and integrating POS and IndieCommerce. Some of the special offerings the store has introduced, such as care packages, stocking-stuffer grab bags, custom ornaments for donation, subscription boxes and more, also probably won't be going away after Covid.

On the subject of the holidays, Protti reported that the store has been generally conservative with holiday buying, but has ordered up significantly on certain titles. Book buyers have been buying month-to-month and sidelines buyers have been pivoting as sales have changed. She added that they've already pre-sold more than 200 copies of Barack Obama's memoir.

Protti and her team started asking customers to shop early more than a month ago, and "they are responding." October was the store's best month since the pandemic started, although sales are still down overall. The store moved its annual sale from November to October, launched all holiday offerings with the option for customers to buy now and ship later, and published the holiday newsletter earlier than usual. The store was also part of a Shop Early, Shop Local campaign launched by Santa Cruz's Downtown Association, and Protti was on the cover of the city's weekly newspaper last month, discussing the need to shop early. 

The only ways to make up for the store's limits on occupancy, Protti explained, are by spreading out the season and having people shop from the store's website. "We are really pushing both avenues as the key to our survival." --Alex Mutter

Jeremy Nurnberg Founds Children's House, Little Genius Publishing


Jeremy Nurnberg, formerly v-p at Igloobooks and before that v-p of sales at Sterling Publishing, has founded Little Genius Books, which will publish board books, picture books, activity books, nonfiction, novelty and more. The company plans "to offer fresh design, innovative formats, and compelling content so children everywhere can laugh, learn, and be captivated."

Among the titles on Little Genius's inaugural spring 2021 list are Hello! Hometown Heroes, Get Ready for Preschool, Get Ready for Kindergarten, Little Genius: Solar System, The Itsy Bitsy Spider: Nursery Rhyme Adventure, Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star: A Nursery Rhyme Adventure and the Bumpy Rumps series.

Nurnberg said: "As a second-generation publisher, books have been in my blood since the day I was born. They have been the focus of my career for the last 25 years, yet it is the spark of an idea and the challenge of bringing it to life that still inspires me."

Simon & Schuster will distribute Little Genius Books in North America.

Obituary Note: Roxanne Conrad, aka Rachel Caine

Roxanne Conrad, aka Rachel Caine

Roxanne Conrad, who wrote under the names Rachel Caine, Roxanne Longstreet and Julie Fortune, died on Sunday, November 1, at the age of 58. She had been fighting an aggressive form of soft tissue sarcoma.

Conrad was best known as Rachel Caine and for her Weather Warden and Morganville Vampires series. The Weather Warden made its debut in 2003 with Ill Wind and continued with eight more volumes. She had planned a 10th book in the series, funding it through Kickstarter, but canceled the project when her health declined.

The Morganville Vampires, a YA urban fantasy/vampire series, began in 2006 with Glass Houses and grew to 15 books. Conrad sold TV rights, but eventually turned to Kickstarter to produce a webseries with Geek & Sundry in 2014.

Her other popular works include the Great Library series and the Stillhouse Lake adult thriller novels. In 2011, she co-edited Chicks Kick Butt with Kerrie L. Hughes.

Conrad published her debut novel, Stormriders, set in the same world as the Shadow World roleplaying game, and several other novels in the 1990s. However, it was only after 2000 that her career bloomed. Altogether she published 56 novels and many short stories.

As publisher Tor noted, in 2006, Conrad said she had resisted writing early in her life and was focused on a career in music instead: "Oh, I wrote in secret, in private, and finally in 1991 a friend of mine sent me to go 'talk to some writers' because he couldn't believe that I wrote so much and didn't plan to do anything with it," she said. "Writing was just something I did for fun."

Those writers changed her mind. After talking with them, "I got so excited about it that it began to take over my life, and finally I decided I had to make a decision about which dream to follow. I chose the writing. Must have been the right choice, because within a year, I'd sold my first book."

The family is making arrangements for a virtual memorial service and will release details in the coming weeks. In lieu of flowers, the family asked for donations to be sent to the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of American Emergency Medical Fund or the Mary Crowley Cancer Research Center in Dallas, Tex.


'Plaid November' at Pageturners Bookstore

"Welcome to Plaid November!" Pageturners Bookstore, Indianola, Iowa, posted on Facebook. "In an effort to keep us all safe and help you with your Christmas shopping, instead of a Plaid Friday this year we are spreading the cheer all month long with Plaid November! Wear plaid to the store and receive 10% off your entire purchase (excluding special orders and gift cards). We are also offering shopping by appointment Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. and on Saturdays from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Have the store to yourself with a bookseller to help you find the perfect gifts...."

Bookseller Moment: Elliott Bay Book Company

Posted on Facebook Sunday by Elliott Bay Book Company, Seattle, Wash.: "Maybe it's the blue skies, maybe it's the extra hour of sleep, but the bookstore is looking extra special to us today! The holidays are just around the corner and this season is crucial after the year we've all had--we hope you'll let us help you find the perfect gifts for your loved ones. We've got a pretty stellar gift guide coming soon, but in the meantime we're open from 10:00-7:00 everyday (and our website is open 24/7)."

Media and Movies

Media Heat: D.L. Hughley on Wendy Williams

Wendy Williams: D.L. Hughley, co-author of Surrender, White People!: Our Unconditional Terms for Peace (Morrow, $27.99, 9780062953704).

Late Late Show with James Corden: Henry Winkler, co-author of Lights, Camera, Danger! (Amulet Books, $14.99, 9781419740992).

Movies: The Light of Days

Amblin Partners is developing a film adaptation of the upcoming book The Light of Days: The Untold Story of Women Resistance Fighters in Hitler's Ghettos (Morrow, April 2021) by Judy Batalion. Screenwriter Michael Mitnick (The Giver, The Current War) and Batalion are writing the screenplay.

Amblin's president of production Holly Bario and creative exec John Buderwitz are overseeing the project for the studio. Batalion's book White Walls: A Memoir about Motherhood, Daughterhood, and the Mess in Between was optioned by Warner Brothers, where Batalion is also developing the TV series Cluttered.

Books & Authors

Awards: Ngaio Marsh Winners; Southern Book Finalists

The winners of the 2020 Ngaio Marsh Awards, honoring the best in New Zealand crime, mystery and thriller writing, are:

Best Novel: Auē by Becky Manawatu
Best First Novel: The Nancys by R.W.R. McDonald

The judges said of Auē: "A breathtaking expose of lives lived on the margins, and the fight for redemption and absolution... takes technical chances without being overbearing, and it's affecting without being schmaltzy... Utterly devastating and some of the finest prose I have come across in the genre or in any recent Kiwi literature... Manawatu doesn't use crime as a plot device but shows it woven into the fabric of her characters' lives, defining them, sometimes destroying them, and serving as a perverse unifier."

The judges said of The Nancys: "Hilarious and inventive, the dynamic between the young protagonist and the adult characters is unusual and special. A clever hat-tip to one of the most indelible female characters in the genre, and a story that blends crime and humour in unexpected ways. A book with standout, oddball characters."


Finalists for the 2021 Southern Book Prize, chosen by bookstore members of the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance as the 2020 books they most enjoyed handselling that are "Southern in nature--either about the South or by a Southern writer," have been announced. Voting by readers to determine the prize winners begins November 8 and runs through February 1, 2021. The finalists:

A Good Neighborhood by Therese Anne Fowler (St. Martin's Press)
The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix (Quirk Books)
The Prettiest Star by Carter Sickels (Hub City Press)
Hieroglyphics by Jill McCorkle (Algonquin Books)
The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett (Riverhead Books)
Ring Shout by P. Djèlí Clark (

Untamed by Glennon Doyle (Dial Press)
Memorial Drive by Natasha Trethewey (Ecco)
My Autobiography of Carson McCullers by Jenn Shapland (Tin House Books)
World of Wonders by Amiee Nezhukumatathil, illustrated by Fumi Nakamura (Milkweed Editions)
The Deepest South of All by Richard Grant (Simon & Schuster)

Be Not Far from Me by Mindy McGinnis (Katherine Tegen Books)
Yes, No, Maybe So by Becky Albertalli and Aisha Saeed (Balzer + Bray)
After Squidnight by Johnathan E. Fenske (Penguin Workshop)
I Am Every Good Thing by Derrick Barnes, illustrated by Gordon C. James (Nancy Paulsen Books)
Only Mostly Devastated by Sophie Gonzales (Wednesday Books)

Book Review

Review: This Time Next Year

This Time Next Year by Sophie Cousens (Putnam, $16 paperback, 352p., 9780593191200, December 1, 2020)

Sophie Cousens's first novel, This Time Next Year, is a clever, offbeat romantic comedy about two young Brits whose lives play out in vastly different ways.

Minnie Cooper--whose mother, Connie, had the audacity to name her daughter after the car--always had a challenging life. On the day of Minnie's birth, New Year's 1990, her mother had her heart set on naming her Quinn. However, when Connie's roommate in the maternity ward, Tara Hamilton, gave birth a minute before Connie, Tara stole the name, bestowing "Quinn" upon her own baby, a son. Connie, appalled and feeling cheated, is forced to go with a second-choice name for her daughter. That choice becomes a watershed moment in the lives of the two newborns and their emotionally wounded mothers.

Minnie grows up taunted by peers about her name and comes to believe nothing good ever happens on New Year's. This self-fulfilling prophecy, further propagated by her mother, plays out in extraordinary ways on New Year's 2020, which also happens to be Minnie's 30th birthday. When Minnie's beau drags her to a party thrown by one of his coworkers, Minnie loses her coat, gets vomited upon and then is locked in a bathroom overnight. Ugh! On New Year's Day, Minnie is finally freed from the loo by none other than Quinn Hamilton. The Quinn--born on the same day, a minute before Minnie, at the same hospital 30 years before.

This chance meeting launches a series of flashbacks that explore how the respective lives of Minnie and Quinn played out over three decades. Minnie, riddled with low self-esteem, believes she was jinxed from the moment she was born. Her good-natured father was powerless to her mother, who belittled her daughter at every turn. A natural-born cook, Minnie became a champion of the vulnerable and socially isolated, struggling to run a pie business with her cherished best friend, Leila. Quinn, a handsome, confident and successful management consultant, led a life of style, wealth and privilege--controlled by his needy, grossly overbearing, single mother who contributed to her romantically challenged son's commitment-phobia.

Cousens's colorful, quirky cast becomes embroiled in big, memorable scenes that capture and unravel the histories of both Minnie and Quinn--and what and who shaped their inner characters. Rom-com readers will revel in Cousens's wry, lively story, which probes themes of self-discovery, acceptance and forgiveness, and the abiding nature of friendship. --Kathleen Gerard, blogger at Reading Between the Lines

Shelf Talker:A lively rom-com about two Brits--born on the same day, in the same hospital--who meet after 30 years and are forced to reconsider their lives and shared history.

The Bestsellers

Top-Selling Self-Published Titles

The bestselling self-published books last week as compiled by

1. Fatal Fraud (The Fatal Series Book 16) by Marie Force
2. Shielding Aspen by Susan Stoker
3. Broken Shadows (Shadows Landing Book 5) by Kathleen Brooks
4. Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert T. Kiyosaki and Sharon L. Lechter
5. The Harbinger II: The Return by Jonathan Cahn
6. Six Hours Away (Charming Inn Book 6) by Kay Correll
7. Spellcasting with a Chance of Spirits (Grimm Cove Book 3) by Mandy M. Roth
8. Eternal Bite by Various
9. Only One Chance by Natasha Madison
10. I Promise You by Ilsa Madden-Mills

[Many thanks to!]

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