Shelf Awareness for Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Margaret K. McElderry Books: Tender Beasts by Liselle Sambury

Scholastic Press: Heroes: A Novel of Pearl Harbor by Alan Gratz

Flatiron Books: Anita de Monte Laughs Last by Xochitl Gonzalez

Peachtree Publishers: King & Kayla and the Case of the Downstairs Ghost (King & Kayla) by Dori Hillestad Butler, illustrated by Nancy Meyers

Doubleday Books: The Husbands by Holly Gramazio


Booked Coming to Philadelphia, Pa., in September

The future site of Booked

Booked, a general-interest bookstore with titles for all ages, will open in Philadelphia, Pa., later this year, the Chestnut Hill Local reported.

The store will be in Philadelphia's Chestnut Hill neighborhood, in a space that previously housed a toy store, and owner Debbie Gress Jansen hopes to be open for business in September. The store will carry books for children, teens and adults, with genres like literature, nonfiction, history and cooking represented. There will be a variety of nonbook and gift items, including stationery, and eventually Gress Jansen intends to host author events.

While Gress Jansen has no prior experience in bookselling, owning a bookstore has been a lifelong dream. She had worked as a teacher for nearly four decades and decided to change careers last year during a period of self-reflection brought about by the pandemic.

"I think what happened to a lot of people during the pandemic was they took some time to think and look and reflect on their lives," Gress Jansen told the Local. "And so this past year I just really knew that the time had come to hang up the teaching apron and pursue this dream. Stop talking about it and actually do it. If not now, when?"

Booked will be the first new bookstore in Chestnut Hill in quite some time, and Gress Jansen said people in the community are "thrilled." She added: "It's just going to be a place that you want to come in and stay for a bit and chat about books."

Holiday House: The Five Impossible Tasks of Eden Smith by Tom Llewellyn; The Selkie's Daughter by Linda Crotta Brennan

New Busboys and Poets Opening Soon in Baltimore, Md.

The new Busboys and Poets restaurant and bookstore in Baltimore, Md., will open later this month or in early May, the Johns Hopkins News-Letter reported.

Located near Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore's Charles Village neighborhood, the new Busboys and Poets resides in a space that previously housed the Red Star Bar & Grill. It will be able to seat 200 people once Covid restrictions are lifted and it will be the eighth Busboys and Poets location overall. The Charles Village location will have the same food and drink menu as the other stores, and it will eventually host events like readings and open mics.

The first Busboys and Poets opened in Washington, D.C., in 2005. There is another new location in the works in Columbia, Md., that will encompass some 10,700 square feet and will be able to seat 400.

Amistad Press: The Survivors of the Clotilda: The Lost Stories of the Last Captives of the American Slave Trade by Hannah Durkin

How Bookstores Are Coping: 'Incredible Hard Work'; New Normal

Nicole Yasinski, marketing manager at Novel in Memphis, Tenn., reported that the store is open seven days per week for in-store shopping. Masks have been required since mid-June and social distancing guidelines are enforced. The store is about 10,000 square feet, which gives customers and staff plenty of space, and once the store stopped doing in-person events, Yasinski and the team spread things out even further.

Novel was closed for in-store shopping for two months in 2020, but the store managed to keep everyone employed. The team pivoted to online and phone sales, curbside pick-up and delivery and virtual events, which meant everyone was "working 10 times as hard for just a fraction of the sales" the store would normally see. Reopening the store for browsing proved to be "incredibly tense," and not a decision that was taken lightly. Once the doors were open and customers felt comfortable again, sales slowly began to recover.

Asked about any bright spots amid all the difficulties, Yasinski pointed to the way the store was able to come together and adapt at a moment's notice to all sorts of new demands and challenges. Some of these, she continued, included finding puzzles when they were flying off the shelves, as well as trying to handsell puzzles over the phone to customers doing curbside pick-up. She added: "We could not have done this without the incredible hard work of our team at all levels."

Looking ahead in 2021, Yasinski said the first half of the year has been about "maintaining" and not "letting our guard down on safety measures." With pandemic fatigue growing, this has been "top of mind" constantly. Additionally, the store saw a huge increase in online sales during the pandemic, and they want to continue to grow that side of the business even as things slowly return to normal. IndieCommerce, she noted, has been "amazing during the pandemic," and she hopes to put all of the extra functionality and other improvements to good use going forward.

Yasinski and the team are still unsure exactly when they'll feel safe resuming in-store events. Prior to the pandemic, the store did everything it could to "pack" its event space for author events, so the thought of limiting things to a small crowd seems counter-intuitive. In the meantime, they are trying to get creative and think of ideas for outdoor events, potentially in the fall, but they won't make a push for that until they know they can do it safely.


In Pittsburgh, Pa., City of Asylum Bookstore is open daily for browsing with no appointments necessary, and manager Lesley Rains reported that on some weekends it "feels like old times" except for the masks and social distancing. Website orders still make up more than 50% of the store's sales, however, and Rains and her team have drastically changed procedures and altered the store layout to accommodate in-store browsing and order fulfillment. She added that she thinks online sales will make up a significant part of the store's revenue "for the foreseeable future."

Asked how the store fared in 2020, Rains said the bookstore was actually up significantly over 2019, thanks to the community's generous support. Despite how challenging 2020 was on so many levels, people still found the time, energy and resources to support the store, often multiple times. She remarked: "It still moves me deeply."

While the store operated mostly online last year, Rains and her staff were still able to feel connected to customers. They included personalized notes in outgoing packages, and customers sent notes with their orders. Book recommendations posted to social media or included in weekly newsletters brought good responses from customers, and handselling still happened, even though the customer wasn't in the store.

The store is open daily from 12-5 p.m., and at this point Rains has no plans to expand hours any further. The City of Asylum events teams will host some outdoor events throughout the summer, but there are no plans at this point to return to indoor events. As more people are vaccinated and hopefully cases decrease, they'll reevaluate their operations. --Alex Mutter

International Update: BA Touts Reopening of English, Welsh Bookshops, Vancouver's Booksellers 'Soaring'

Reopening day at Read. in Holmfirth.

As bookshops reopened in England and Wales yesterday, Booksellers Association managing director Meryl Halls urged the industry to support them, telling the Bookseller: "There is no denying that the past year has been very difficult for bookshops and the wider high street, and we have seen booksellers show incredible creativity, determination and resilience in the face of unprecedented obstacles and challenges.... The coming months are going to be vital for many booksellers who have been impacted by prolonged and repeated lockdowns and restrictions during key sales periods. While we are supporting our members, as ever, with advice, guidance updates and initiatives such as the BA Covid Recovery Fund and Reopening Kits, it is essential that the entire industry comes together behind bookshops, from publishers and authors to distributors and other trade partners.

"Bookshops are a crucial part of the books ecosystem, providing vital community hubs, introducing readers to new titles and authors, and bringing the benefits of reading to a weary population. Booksellers need all of our support if they are going to continue to do their fantastic work within their communities.

All English and Welsh Waterstones branches reopened yesterday, with the exception of the Leadenhall Market and Liverpool Street Station outlets in London and Foyles in Birmingham Grand Central, the Bookseller noted. Scottish, Northern Irish and Irish Waterstones branches will follow as soon as restrictions allow, which is expected to be April 26 for Scotland. There is no confirmed date yet for Northern Ireland and Ireland.

Blackwells reopened its three Oxford bookshops, and branches in Cambridge, Manchester, Newcastle, Liverpool and Derby. Shops in Edinburgh and Aberdeen will follow on April 26, with other campus outlets set to open throughout the spring.

At Bookbugs and Dragon Tales

Helgard Krause, CEO of the Books Council of Wales, applauded the "resilience and imagination" of Welsh booksellers, noting: "We wish all booksellers the very best of luck and urge customers to support their local high street shop, at a time when books and reading are more important than ever."

Yesterday, Read. bookshop in Holmfirth posted on Facebook: "Today was a GOOD day. We remembered how to do everything, our delivery arrived early and we managed a cup of tea (downed cold!). It was amazing to see people discovering books they’ve never seen before and a joy to serve people over the till. Feeling optimistic that things are on the up!"

Bookbugs and Dragon Tales in Norwich won the prize for best chalkboard(s) messages of reopening day.


In Canada, CBC News reported that "soaring sales at Vancouver's independent bookstores is one of the pandemic's good-news stories."

At Pulpfiction Books, owner Chris Brayshaw braced for the worst last spring, but 2020 quickly became the store's best in its 21 years of business. "Our sales went really, really sharply up," he said. "We pivoted from thinking that everybody would be staying at home to adding staff, adding an additional location and keeping up with demand.... A lot of customers are saying that being able to relax with a book that's not trying to disrupt your attention, not trying to sell you additional things, is just a kind of quiet, private space."

Although Ian Gill and his partner opened Upstart & Crow bookshop on Granville Island during the pandemic, it draws up to 50 customers each day and the owners hope to expand to offer literary events. "Those in-person, face-to-face things--we're really hoping we can do that in the next few months. That's kind of what we did this for in the first place."

Not every bookseller is thriving, however. Business at the Paper Hound in downtown Vancouver dried up at the start of the pandemic due to a dropoff in its regular clientele. "We're used to having a lot of office workers, a lot of tourists, a lot students and a lot of academics down here," said co-owner Kim Koch. "Those are exactly the populations that aren't down here right now." Though sales dropped by 30% during the worst stretch, business has now rebounded to just 5% below pre-pandemic sales.


Illustrator Tom Gauld explored "the bookshop cat's view of the pandemic" for the Guardian. --Robert Gray

Obituary Note: John Naisbitt

John Naisbitt

John Naisbitt, the business guru and author of the megabestseller Megatrends and other futurist titles, died on April 8 at age 92.

In Megatrends, published in 1982, Naisbitt focused, the Washington Post wrote, "on 10 major trends he believed were reshaping American commerce and society. His first observation, long before personal computers had become commonplace, was that the country was moving from an industrial and manufacturing society to an information society."

He also predicted that technology companies would "foster a new industrial model, with ideas rising up from workers rather than being imposed by executives at the top of the corporate ladder," the Post continued. "As jobs flowed to the Sun Belt, Mr. Naisbitt said technology workers would become hungry for a social connection with other people--a phenomenon he called 'high tech/high touch' and used as the title of a later book." In Megatrends, Naisbitt wrote, "We must learn to balance the material wonders of technology with the spiritual demands of our human nature."

The Post noted that some of the ideas in Megatrends "didn't quite hit the mark, including the suggestion that businesses and individuals would come to value long-term planning over short-term gain. Still, the cheery optimism of Megatrends, in which technology would benignly break down social and financial barriers, had such widespread appeal that the book sold more than 8 million copies around the world and stayed on bestseller lists for years."

Naisbitt built up a major consulting business and gave many speeches. For his work, he used content analysis, "derived from his reading of Bruce Catton's Civil War histories, which relied heavily on reports from contemporary newspapers. Allied intelligence organizations also studied local newspapers during World War II to gauge public behavior and moods."

He became known for pithy observations such as "Trends, like horses, are easier to ride in the direction they are already going" and "We are drowning in information but starved for knowledge."

His other books include Re-inventing the Corporation, co-written with his then-wife Patricia Aburdene (1985); Megatrends 2000: Ten New Directions for the 1990s (1990); High Tech/High Touch, co-written with his daughter Nana Naisbitt and Doug Phillips (1999); and most recently, Mastering Megatrends, co-written with his wife, Doris Naisbitt (2019).


Cool Idea of the Day: Major League Donation

(photo courtesy Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater St. Louis)

Earlier this month, St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Jack Flaherty made a surprise donation to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater St. Louis: "thousands" of books purchased from EyeSeeMe African American Children's Bookstore in University City, Mo., the St. Louis Business Journal reported.

"The city of St. Louis has embraced me from the beginning of my time as a professional baseball player," said Flaherty, who made his Major League Baseball debut in 2017. "We couldn’t think of a better way to give directly back to the community by supporting a local, Black-owned business with the EyeSeeMe Bookstore and simultaneously donating them all to the Boys & Girls Club of Greater St. Louis."

The donation included some of Flaherty's childhood favorites, such as the Magic Tree House series and sports titles by Mike Lupica. The Boys & Girls Clubs made the announcement on the same day as the Cardinals' home opener at Busch Stadium.

"I hope these stories and adventures will inspire the next generation as reading held such an important part of my development," Flaherty continued. "I am excited to work with both organizations in the future and it's an honor to support them all today."

EyeSeeMe owners Jeffrey and Pamela Blair founded the bookstore in 2015. Last November the store was featured in a CBS Sunday Morning segment, which ushered in a wave of support from around the country.

PRHPS to Distribute Peachtree Publishing

Peachtree Publishing Company will be sold and distributed worldwide by Penguin Random House Publisher Services, effective May 1, 2022. Peachtree will thus join its sister companies Holiday House and Pixel+Ink in being sold and distributed by PRHPS.

At the same time, Peachtree, which focuses on children's and YA books, will expand to three publishing seasons, starting with a new Summer 2022 list. The Penguin Random House sales team will sell the Summer 2022 list.

Peachtree publisher Margaret Quinlin commented: "We have been preparing for a period of intense growth. Part of that groundwork means creating efficiencies; boosting our reach in the global, special, and gift markets; and increasing our access to updated technology and data for orders and shipping. In other words, creating a framework that fully supports our enhanced editorial growth. PRHPS is an ideal partner to help us meet all these goals."

Chalkboard: E. Shaver Bookseller

"And there you have it. Bartleby was proud of how well behaved the humans were today," E. Shaver Bookseller, Savannah, Ga., posted on Facebook, along with a photo of the shop's sidewalk chalkboard message: "I have unlocked the door. Welcome! But you must be good humans and wear your mask. xoxo Bartleby, Floor Manager."

Reading Group Choices' Most Popular March Books

The two most popular books in March at Reading Group Choices were Good Apple by Elizabeth Passarella (Thomas Nelson) and The Phone Booth at the Edge of the World by Laura Imai Messina (Overlook Press).

Personnel Changes at West Margin Press; Apollo Publishers

Alice Wertheimer has joined West Margin Press as marketing manager. Wertheimer formerly worked at Akashic Books.


Frances Gordon has joined Apollo Publishers as associate publicist and will lead the press's publicity efforts. She was formerly publicity assistant at Phaidon Press for more than two years.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Henry Louis Gates on Fresh Air

Fresh Air: Henry Louis Gates, author of The Black Church: This Is Our Story, This Is Our Song (Penguin Press, $30, 9781984880338).

The Real: Sarah Jakes Roberts, author of Woman Evolve: Break Up with Your Fears and Revolutionize Your Life (Thomas Nelson, $24.99, 9780785235545).

Live with Kelly and Ryan: Jean Chatzky, author of Women with Money: The Judgment-Free Guide to Creating the Joyful, Less Stressed, Purposeful (and, Yes, Rich) Life You Deserve (Grand Central, $17.99, 9781538745397).

TV: The Second Home; Why Didn't They Ask Evans?

Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Game of Thrones) will star in The Second Home, based on Christina Clancy's novel. Deadline reported that Sony's TriStar Television made a miniseries deal for the book, and Coster-Waldau will exec produce along with Joe Derrick & Jeffrey Chassen through their Ill Kippers banner.


Hugh Laurie will write, direct and executive produce an adaptation of Agatha Christie's novel Why Didn't They Ask Evans? for BritBox in North America. Deadline reported that the three-part limited series "represents the BBC Studios and ITV-owned streamer's biggest U.S. commission to date.... No word yet on whether Laurie will take a starring role in the show."

"The hairs on the back of my neck haven't properly settled down from the first time I grasped the beauty of the essential mystery," Laurie said. "Since then, I have fallen deeper and deeper in love with the characters, and feel immensely honored to have been given the chance to retell their story in this form. I will wear a tie on set, and give it everything I have."

Emily Powers, head of BritBox North America, added: "Hugh Laurie's writing pays homage to the brilliance of the original Agatha Christie mystery while adding fresh wit, humor, and creativity that will appeal to all audiences."

Books & Authors

Awards: Hayek Winner; Plutarch Finalists

Thomas Sowell has won the $50,000  Hayek Book Prize for Charter Schools and Their Enemies (Basic Books). The prize honors political philosopher F.A. Hayek and is sponsored by the Manhattan Institute.

Manhattan Institute president Reihan Salam commented: "Dr. Sowell has dedicated his career to detailing the many ways freedom, competition, and constitutionalism have contributed to human flourishing, and his book on the rise of the charter school movement perfectly captures the power and clarity of his thinking. Educational choice has long been at the heart of the Manhattan Institute's work, and it is even more gratifying that he should win this prize as a growing number of Americans confront the failures of traditional district schools."

Both Sowell and last year's prize winner--Austerity: When It Works and When It Doesn't by the late Alberto Alesina, with Carlo Favero, and Francesco Giavazzi--will be honored at an in-person event in Palm Beach, Fla., on April 30.


The finalists for the Plutarch Award, honoring the best biography of the year and presented by the Biographers International Organization, are:

The Dead Are Arising: The Life of Malcolm X by Les Payne and Tamara Payne (Liveright)

His Very Best: Jimmy Carter, A Life by Jonathan Alter (Simon & Schuster)

Lincoln on the Verge: Thirteen Days to Washington by Ted Widmer (Simon & Schuster)

The Mystery of Charles Dickens by A.N. Wilson

These Fevered Days: The Pivotal Moments in the Making of Emily Dickinson by Martha Ackmann (W.W. Norton)

The winner will be announced on May 16.

Book Review

Review: Ariadne

Ariadne by Jennifer Saint (Flatiron Books, $26.99 hardcover, 320p., 9781250773586, May 4, 2021)

Two silent princesses from Greek mythology step from the shadows to tell their stories in Jennifer Saint's passionate, assured debut novel.

Ariadne, eldest daughter of King Minos, and her younger sister Phaedra live under the pall of their family's shame. Thanks to their father's impiety, their mother Pasiphae gives birth to "Minos' greatest humiliation and greatest asset. My brother, the Minotaur." Although Ariadne and her mother try to love the carnivorous creature, his vicious nature makes him a natural weapon. Each year, Minos demands Athens send Crete 14 young people in payment for the death of his eldest son, Androgeos, killed near their city. The Minotaur hunts and devours the tributes in the Labyrinth under the palace, while Ariadne spins on her dancing floor to stop herself from imagining "the tearing of teeth through flesh."

In Ariadne's 18th year, the Athenian ship brings Prince Theseus, and Ariadne quickly falls for his "cold, calm green" eyes and stories of heroism. She decides to help him end the nightmare of the Labyrinth; in return, he promises to take her with him to Athens as his bride. Instead, Theseus betrays Ariadne, marooning her on an apparently uninhabited island. Rescued by the gentle god Dionysus, she finds a measure of happiness, while Phaedra, who believes Ariadne has died, must enter a loveless political marriage. Over the course of their lives, both sisters repeatedly experience "a truth of womanhood: however blameless a life we led, the passion and the greed of men could bring us to ruin, and there was nothing we could do." Separated by deceit, the daughters of Crete must fight for meaning in lives controlled by the whim of gods and men.

Saint's background in classical studies is apparent in her portrayal of self-interested gods and hapless mortals. Her focus on Ariadne, usually treated as a supporting character or footnote, allows her to highlight the powerlessness and scapegoating of women in patriarchal systems. Monsters, the narrative shows, need not have the heads of bulls; they may be fathers, husbands and heroes. Her heroines have complex, differing experiences of love, marriage and motherhood. Filled with luxuriant descriptions of pastoral ancient Greece, fearsome deities and frightening creatures, and unflinching, intelligently developed emotion, this shrewd commentary on the inner lives of overlooked women should resonate with fans of Madeline Miller's Circe and feminist fantasy. --Jaclyn Fulwood, blogger at Infinite Reads

Shelf Talker: Saint's debut is a deeply felt, well-executed feminist take on Greek mythology in the vein of Madeline Miller's Circe.

The Bestsellers

Top-Selling Self-Published Titles

The bestselling self-published books last week as compiled by

1. The Rebel by Kendall Ryan
2. Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert T. Kiyosaki with Sharon L. Lechter
3. My True Love: Jules Steele by Melissa Foster
4. Breach of Peace by Daniel B. Greene
5. The Experts Cure by Rob Kosberg
6. Unreported Truths About Covid-19 and Lockdowns: Part 4 by Alex Berenson
7. From Blood and Ash by Jennifer L. Armentrout
8. Bloodline (Cradle Book 9) by Will Wight
9. Reborn (Shadow Beast Shifters Book 3) by Jaymin Eve
10. Temptation by Ivy Smoak

[Many thanks to!]

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