Shelf Awareness for Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Atlantic Monthly Press: Those Opulent Days: A Mystery by Jacquie Pham

Feiwel & Friends: The Flicker by HE Edgmon

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers: The Pumpkin Princess and the Forever Night by Steven Banbury

St. Martin's Griffin: Murdle: The School of Mystery: 50 Seriously Sinister Logic Puzzles by GT Karber

Carolrhoda Lab (R): Here Goes Nothing by Emma K Ohland

Allida: Safiyyah's War by Hiba Noor Khan

Ace Books: Servant of Earth (The Shards of Magic) by Sarah Hawley


L.A.'s Chevalier's Finds New Home Across the Street

Chevalier's Books in Los Angeles, Calif., is moving across the street, to 133 N. Larchmont Blvd. The new space is larger and more open, meaning that when in-store author events resume there will be no more obstructed views. The Chevalier's team will use the extra space to make the selection "broader and even more eclectic," and they hope to open early this month.

In October, with the bookstore's lease set to expire at the end of the year, Chevalier's reached out to its customers and received an overwhelming expression of support. The bookstore was "flooded with e-mails and calls and socially distanced shout-outs," and customers bought books, gifts cards and subscriptions. The response was more than the Chevalier's staff said it could have hoped for--a "resounding yes" for the bookstore.

Last month, Chevalier's longtime general manager Liz Newstadt died. In their message announcing the move across the street, Chevalier's staff wrote: "We make this promise, both to you and to LIz--that we will carry on in her spirit of offering you the book that you need to read, because Liz believed that reading was a way to be a better person, and we wholeheartedly agree. She will always be our guiding light."

PM Press: P Is for Palestine: A Palestine Alphabet Book by Golbarg Bashi, Illustrated by Golrokh Nafisi

How Bookstores Are Coping: Admirable Booksellers; Shopping Small

Josh Christie, co-owner of Print: A Bookstore in Portland, Maine, reported that the store's sales were up for the holiday season, though "only by a slight margin." Customers "definitely received the message" about shopping early; Christie noted that holiday sales peaked the week ending December 12. Sales were much higher than usual during the period from the Sunday before Thanksgiving, which was the store's annual birthday sale, through the start of December.

With the exception of one publisher, Christie continued, "everyone seemed to be able to get us stock in reasonably quick order." While the store still had to chase some titles and other items down from warehouses and wholesalers, it "didn't seem particularly worse than any other year." Given the "crushing volume" at carriers and the larger burden of a global pandemic, this was "no small feat," Christie added. The store's consistent messaging about shipping in-stock inventory and warnings about possible printing or shipping delays also helped, driving customers away from titles that were delayed or already out of stock.

Josh Christie at Print

Some of Print's bestselling titles this holiday season included A Promised Land by Barack Obama, Hamnet by Maggie O'Farrell, Sigh, Gone by Phuc Tran, Caste by Isabel Wilkerson and Max and the Midnights by Lincoln Peirce. Christie praised Print co-owner Emily Russo's buying for this year, saying it played  a "huge part" in the store being able to successfully navigate this chaotic holiday season.

Christie also commended the way his booksellers were able to process orders, run promotions and assist customers "with great humor and creativity" while working both at the store and from home, amid a surging pandemic. They did their jobs admirably, and, he added, frontline booksellers around the country "deserve credit and recognition" for their efforts.


In Los Angeles, Calif., holiday sales at Skylight Books were as "good as we could have hoped for," said general manager Mary Williams. For the month of December, the store was down only 3.8% compared to last year. Given the capacity restrictions that the store currently has to operate under and the huge surge in cases in L.A., this was remarkable.

Online sales were a huge part of Skylight's holiday season, though more than half of the bookstore's holiday sales still happened in-store. Williams said her guess was that the customers who were willing to wait in line and shop in-store during a spike in cases were far more likely to make big purchases, so while there were fewer shoppers in-store than usual, they weren't casual browsers. Williams also figured that the Covid surge in December played a bigger role in keeping customers out of the store than just the restrictions on their own.

Skylight saw more business-to-business orders this holiday season than normal, which helped a lot. Williams added that she heard from all sorts of customers, including B2B customers, that they were making a point of shopping local and supporting small businesses in 2020. This sentiment, she continued, is what she thinks "accounts for our relatively strong season."

Excluding B2B orders, the store's biggest sellers in December were A Promised Land, The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett, Discovering Griffith Park: A Local's Guide by Casey Schreiner, Interior Chinatown by Charles Yu, Luster by Raven Leilani and Caste. In addition, Skylight partnered with a local theater called Dynasty Typewriter for a virtual event with Ken Layne, author of Desert Oracle Volume 1. The author stopped by for a stock signing, and that was another one of the store's standout titles last month. --Alex Mutter

Farrar, Straus and Giroux: Intermezzo by Sally Rooney

International Update: Book Sales Up in South Korea; Indies Express Gratitude Worldwide

Demand for books in South Korea has increased significantly across multiple platforms despite the constraints of the year-long Covid-19 pandemic, the Korea Times reported. According to Kyobo Book Centre, the largest bookstore chain in the country, sales from the period between January 1 and December 6 last year increased by 7.3% compared to the previous year. Sales at online bookstore YES24 jumped 23% from January to November, and Millie's Library, an e-book subscription service, said the number of its users had doubled since the beginning of last year. Audiobook platform Welaaa also reported a dramatic increase in users.

"Such change in the demand for books is seen primarily as part of a general trend of people's interest in developing hobbies that do not conflict with coronavirus restrictions while they stay at home and telecommute," the Korea Times noted. "Moreover, as students took part in online classes, parents saw the increasing need to fill a learning gap for their children by purchasing education-related books and other essential reading for classes."


At the American Book Center, Amsterdam

In yesterday's edition of Shelf Awareness, we highlighted a number of indie bookstores in the U.S. that were thanking customers for the support they received in a tumultuous year. These expressions of bookseller gratitude and best wishes for 2021 were on display internationally, too. Here's a sampling:

The Bookshop, New Delhi, India: "As we shut our bookshop tonight for the last time this year, we just want to say a heartfelt thank you to all of you one last time. Thank you to everyone who's found us during this pandemic, thank you to everyone who's befriended us, and asked after our well being.... Happy new year to you all, may 2021 be kinder to everyone than this year was. We promise to be here for you as well, as your favorite book best friends."

Boekhandel Van Piere, Eindhoven, Netherlands: "On behalf of the entire bookstore we want to thank you for this year. It was an eventful year with lots of peaks and valleys. All in all we managed to make something really beautiful together. For that we want to thank you. See you in 2021!"

Libreria Ghibellina, Pisa, Italy: "We end a year for many aspects to forget, as for everyone, but for others, especially thanks to the readers and the readers who supported us. Difficulties appreciate the affection and closeness more and in this respect for Ghibellina it will be a difficult year to forget. Let's hope to find ourselves in a more beautiful, serene and happier 2021 for everyone."

Bookends Keswick, England: "We would like to wish all of our fantastic customers old and new a happy New Year. Particularly during 2020, we have really felt your support. Though we have had to close our doors on some occasions, we have been overwhelmed by the amount of you wishing to support their local indie bookseller by placing orders and returning to our shop after lockdown.... We look forward to seeing you all again in 2021. Happy reading! P.S. Extended thanks to all the posties, delivery drivers and especially Andrew and the team at Keswick Post Office who help us get our books to you. You all deserve a huge drink."

Matilda Bookshop, Stirling, Australia: "Very much looking forward to chatting to everyone about books in 2021. We're excited about the year ahead with soooo many books being published we are super keen to read."

Kent Bookstore, Lindsay, Ont., Canada: "Good riddance to 2020, what a tough year for everyone. Happy 2021! Cheers to a happy and healthy new year (full of lots of good books)! Please stay safe and healthy."

Politeia Bookstore, Athens, Greece: "Happy new year with health, strength, lots of love, lots of good books! May we all be well!"

Wardini Books, Havelock North, New Zealand: "We're just about there! It's a very, very, very marvelous Christmas that we wish you and here's to a completely fabulous 2021 in the best region of the best country in the world.... Loadsa love everyone and hope you get some quality reading time for Christmas."

Woods in the Books, Singapore: "Thank you for sailing with us in 2020! Our little sampan has travelled some rough seas this year. Through the challenges and upheavals of 2020, we hunkered down to take stock of our essentials and discover the part a small children's bookshop could play in a changed pandemic landscape.... We could never have done 2020 without you, our community of staunch supporters and new customers (hello!) who found us this year in your hunt for exceptional children's books and picture books. With fresh lessons under our belts and hopes in our hearts, we are excited to bring more beautiful reads, excellent programmes and more to you in 2021." --Robert Gray

Chicago Review Press Acquires Half of Fulcrum's List

Chicago Review Press has acquired half of Fulcrum Publishing's list of titles, mostly its graphic novel, gardening, natural history and travel lines, and including backlist and a handful of titles being released this year. Some 126 titles are involved; the purchase was effective January 1.

Chicago Review Press owner Independent Publishers Group is the longtime distributor of Fulcrum, which late last year decided to expand the partnership and sell some of its publishing assets to Chicago Review Press, while focusing its energies on the remaining authors and categories.

Fulcrum was founded in 1985 by Bob and Charlotte Baron and quickly grew as an independent publishing voice in the American West, focusing on the environment, conservation, Native American culture, education, self-help, American history, civics and culture. It later expanded into graphic novels, travel, gardening, and other areas.

Bob Baron commented: "Charlotte and I decided that, now that we are older, we want to focus on the areas we started with, creating a more focused company. The reality of the Covid pandemic also highlighted the need for a change. We are excited to be transferring these product lines and titles to Chicago Review Press and their parent company IPG, as we know they share similar values, and these titles and authors will have a good home for years to come. We are also happy that Fulcrum Publishing will continue, focused on its original mission."

Cynthia Sherry, group publisher of Chicago Review Press and Triumph Books, said, "I am thrilled to be acquiring many of Fulcrum Publishing's wonderful backlist titles, especially their graphic novels for children including Strange Fruit, the Tales of the Talented Tenth series by Joel Christian Gill, and Trickster, a collection of Native American trickster tales with a new 10th anniversary edition coming out from CRP in Spring 2021. The Fulcrum authors joining Chicago Review Press will find a supportive home for their titles as we have a deep and varied backlist."

Obituary Note: Anton Strout

Anton Strout

Anton Strout, a longtime Penguin Random House sales manager, science fiction & fantasy author and podcaster, died suddenly December 30. He was 50.

Strout had been with PRH for 22 years, most recently representing the Penguin adult list to B&N College, Bookazine and Brodart. He published several novels, including the Simon Canderous series, with PRH's Ace imprint. In 2011, he started The Once & Future Podcast, where he interviewed fellow authors about their books and their writing process, and covered other pop culture, gaming and science fiction news. He had a wide following in the urban fantasy community.

In announcing his death to staff, Jaci Updike, president of sales at Penguin Random House U.S., said in part, "Anton always came into work with a smile and a joke, determined to brighten the mood for everyone under any circumstance. Like most of us, Anton loved to talk about the books he was reading for strategy or sales conference meetings with colleagues, but just as much, he loved to geek out and debate all things Star Wars and other fantasy favorites with his unbelievable breadth of knowledge. His extensive collection of pop culture memorabilia collected over the years that crowded the shelves of his office at 375 Hudson, made everyone who visited smile.

"Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family, especially his wife Orly and twins Ben and Julia."

Friends and former colleagues have set up a GoFundMe campaign to raise money to help Strout's family, and in four days more than $57,000 has been raised.

Shelf Awareness Delivers Indie Pre-Order E-Blast

Last Wednesday, Shelf Awareness sent our monthly pre-order e-blast to nearly three-quarters of a million of the country's best book readers. The e-blast went to 706,063 customers of 150 participating independent bookstores.

The mailing features eight upcoming titles selected by Shelf Awareness editors and a sponsored title. Customers can buy these books via "pre-order" buttons that lead directly to the purchase page for the title on each sending store's website. A key feature is that bookstore partners can easily change title selections to best reflect the tastes of their customers and can customize the mailing with links, images and promotional copy of their own.

The pre-order e-blasts are sent the last Wednesday of each month; the next will go out on Wednesday, January 27. Stores interested in learning more can visit our program registration page or contact our partner program team via e-mail.

For a sample of Wednesday's pre-order e-blast, see this one from the Read Queen Bookstore & Café, Lafayette, Colo.


Cool Idea of the Day: 'It Costs $0.00 to Support Local Businesses'

Posted on Facebook by Boulder Book Store, Boulder, Colo.: "Happy New Year! If your New Years Resolution is to support small local businesses, but you're broke (cuz Holidays), here are some ideas of ways you can be supportive without spending a penny! Thanks to Downtown Boulder for all of your amazing support of small businesses like us."

B&N's January Book Picks

Barnes & Noble has released its National Book Club pick, Monthly Book Picks and Most Anticipated New Book Releases for January.

The National Book Club selection is Better Luck Next Time by Julia Claiborne Johnson (Custom House). B&N is selling an exclusive edition of the book and, on Tuesday February 2, at 7 p.m. Eastern, is hosting a live virtual event with Johnson in conversation with Julie Schumacher, author of Dear Committee Members and The Shakespeare Requirement.

B&N v-p, bookstore, Jackie De Leo said, "This funny and charming story of friendship and love, set in late 1930s Reno on a Divorce Ranch, is a look at the ways friendship can save us, love can destroy us, and the family we create can be stronger than the family we come from. Julia Claiborne Johnson's sophomore outing is a triumph and we are sure our Book Clubs readers will enjoy it as much as we did."

The Monthly Books Picks are:
Speculative Fiction: The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune
Fiction: The Authenticity Project by Clare Pooley
Nonfiction: Lincoln on the Verge: Thirteen Days to Washington by Ted Widmer
Mystery/Thriller: Pretty as a Picture by Elizabeth Little
YA: King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo
Young Reader: Winterborne: Home for Vengeance and Valor by Ally Carter

About these titles, De Leo commented: "Our Monthly Book Picks are designed to draw attention to books that readers may otherwise have missed, but that we think they will enjoy as much as we have here at Barnes & Noble. We start the year strong with a wonderful mix of titles for all tastes, including an additional category of speculative fiction that we just couldn't resist adding to help kick off 2021."

The Most Anticipated New Book Releases are:
The Mystery of Mrs. Christie by Marie Benedict
The Wife Upstairs by Rachel Hawkins
The Push by Ashley Audrain
The Prophets by Robert Jones, Jr.
Concrete Rose by Angie Thomas
Aftershocks: A Memoir by Nadia Owusu
Black Buck by Mateo Askaripour
Wings of Ebony by J. Elle (B&N Exclusive Edition)
The House on Vesper Sands by Paraic O'Donnell
A Thousand Ships by Natalie Haynes
A Swim in a Pond in the Rain: In Which Four Russians Give a Master Class on Writing, Reading, and Life by George Saunders
Nick by Michael Farris Smith
Let Me Tell You What I Mean by Joan Didion

Personnel Changes at Dutton/Plume

At Dutton/Plume:

Natalie Church has been promoted to marketing manager.

Caroline Payne has been promoted to assistant marketing manager.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Kai Strittmatter on Fresh Air

Fresh Air: Kai Strittmatter, author of We Have Been Harmonized: Life in China's Surveillance State (Custom House, $28.99, 9780063027299).

Good Morning America: Rachel Cruze, author of Know Yourself, Know Your Money (Ramsey Press, $24.99, 9781942121312).

Movies: Pretend It's a City

Netflix released a trailer for Pretend It’s a City, the Martin Scorsese-directed limited documentary series that will premiere January 8. Indiewire reported that the project marks the second major collaboration between Scorsese and critic/essayist Fran Lebowitz (after the 2010 HBO documentary film Public Speaking), a "longtime friend of Scorsese and American social critic who published bestselling books such as Metropolitan Life and Social Studies."

Netflix noted that Lebowitz "knows what she likes--and what she doesn’t like. And she won’t wait for an invitation to tell you.... Shaping Lebowitz’s thoughts into the furiously funny guidebook every New Yorker has at one point wished for, Pretend It’s a City checks in with a classic urban voice on subjects ranging from tourists, money, subways, and the arts to the not-so-simple act of walking in Times Square. (There is a right way to do it.) Along the way, Lebowitz’s own past comes into focus: a life marked by constant curiosity and invigorating independence."

Books & Authors

Awards: Bookish U.K. New Year's Honors List; Int'l Beverly Prize Shortlist

Bloomsbury founder and CEO Nigel Newton and author, illustrator and former Children's Laureate Anthony Browne were awarded CBEs for services to the publishing industry and to literature respectively in the New Year's Honors list, the Bookseller reported. OBEs went to historian and broadcaster Michael Wood as well as writer and producer Jed Mercurio.

Bloomsbury's chairman Richard Lambert said: "Nigel Newton's appearance in today's New Year's Honors List caps a remarkable year for Bloomsbury--one that has brought not just radical changes in working practices, delivered seamlessly almost overnight, but also a continuing stream of really wonderful Bloomsbury publications. The award goes to Nigel, but of course reflects the great work of everyone in the company. Roll on 2021!"

Raymond Antrobus, who won the 2019 Rathbones Folio Prize, received an MBE for services to literature, as did BBC's outgoing director of arts Jonty Claypole for services to the creation of the Culture in Quarantine Virtual Festival during Covid-19; and Patricia Holt, secretary of the Will H. Ogilvie Memorial Trust poetry charity, for services to poetry.

Although there were no names from the book trade among the knights or damehoods awarded, the Bookseller noted that there was a knighthood for psychologist Professor Simon Baron-Cohen, whose latest book is The Pattern Seekers.


The shortlist for the 2020 International Beverly Prize for Literature has been announced.

The prize is awarded annually by Eyewear Publishing for a manuscript that is an outstanding work of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, drama, memoir or criticism. The winner will be offered a publishing contract with Eyewear, a small press group in London. Canadian poet Lisa Pasold is the judge of this year's contest.

The ten titles are:

  •     I Want to be This Girl by Ea Anderson
  •     A Petit Mal by Ana Maria Caballero
  •     Ironwork by Gail DiMaggio
  •     The Seed Drill by Ben Egerton
  •     Let Me Know if You Need Anything by Kristen Forbes
  •     TRUE by Sativa January
  •     The Asparagus Wars by Carol Major
  •     Toasted Ice by Emilie Murphy
  •     Keeper of Stories: Finding the Buddhist Communist's Jewish Granddaughter by Hoangmai Pham
  •     A Reason for Everything by Samantha Schoech

[A special congratulatoins to Samantha Schoech, who in addition to being a writer, is the founding director of Independent Bookstore Day.]

Book Review

Review: Land: How the Hunger for Ownership Shaped the Modern World

Land: How the Hunger for Ownership Shaped the Modern World by Simon Winchester (Harper, $29.99 hardcover, 464p., 9780062938336, January 19, 2021)

Except perhaps when the earth shakes, most people don't devote a lot of thought to the ground beneath their feet. That may change for anyone who has the pleasure of reading Simon Winchester's informative and thought-provoking survey Land: How the Hunger for Ownership Shaped the Modern World.

In a collection of more than a dozen nonfiction works, Winchester has displayed an affinity for tackling broad subjects that include whole oceans (Atlantic) and world-altering professions like modern engineering (The Perfectionists) and elucidating them for the general reader. Land follows the path charted by its predecessors, gracefully blending history, science and an assortment of other disciplines to paint a multifaceted portrait of the complex topic of how humans encounter the some 37-some billion acres that comprise the planet's land surface.

Winchester admits he became "transfixedly fascinated with the notion of landownership, and of how such a thing could possibly be," after his first purchase--123 acres of unimproved woodland in upstate New York, in 1999. For all the subject matter his book covers, he is most passionate when it comes to describing how peoples like Native Americans, New Zealand's Maori or Scotland's humble crofters have been ruthlessly ejected from lands they once possessed, though the idea of actual ownership was alien to them. In doing so, he lays bare the injustice of the 1889 Oklahoma land run; the duplicity of the still-disputed Treaty of Waitangi, which established British sovereignty over New Zealand in 1840; and the brutality of the Highland clearances of the 19th century.

Winchester is equally instructive when he's describing the massive Dutch project to reclaim land from the North Sea and the catastrophe set off by retired British lawyer Sir Cyril Radcliffe, with his ill-conceived line partitioning India and Pakistan in 1947. He never misses an opportunity to illuminate his diverse subjects with a vivid anecdote--like the curious story of Angle Inlet, an enclave in which 123 people are "marooned inside Canada, yet residents of the U.S. state of Minnesota"--or to personalize them, as he does in the account of the Aramaki family--victims of the Japanese American incarceration during World War II--and their fight to recover their Washington farmland after the war.

Whether nations, tribes or individuals are coveting it, fighting over it, losing it or gaining it, land will always possess the power to excite the human imagination. One couldn't ask for a more accessible or comprehensive treatment of the subject than Simon Winchester's book. --Harvey Freedenberg, freelance reviewer

Shelf Talker: A veteran journalist presents a fascinating survey of the subject of land: how we own it, divide it and try to master it.

The Bestsellers

Top-Selling Self-Published Titles

The bestselling self-published books last week as compiled by

1. Let It Be by Marie Force
2. Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert T. Kiyosaki with Sharon L. Lechter
3. Can't Hurt Me by David Goggins
4. The Villain: A Billionaire Romance by L.J. Shen
5. Rejected (Shadow Beast Shifters Book 1) by Jaymin Eve
6. The Revenge Pact by Ilsa Madden-Mills
7. Wolf Girl by Leia Stone
8. The Relationship Pact by Adriana Locke
9. Make Me Yours by Melanie Harlow
10. The Not-Outcast by Tijan

[Many thanks to!]

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