Shelf Awareness for Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Overlook Press: Bad Men by Julie Mae Cohen

Shadow Mountain: Highcliffe House (Proper Romance Regency) by Megan Walker

Simon & Schuster: Register for the Simon & Schuster Fall Preview!

Avid Reader Press / Simon & Schuster: The Ministry of Time Kaliane Bradley

Akaschic Books, Ltd: Go the Fuck to Sleep Series by Adam Mansbach, Illustrated by Ricardo Cortés

Tommy Nelson: You'll Always Have a Friend: What to Do When the Lonelies Come by Emily Ley, Illustrated by Romina Galotta


Pittsburgh Indie's 'Cautionary Tale' About Dealing with a Developer

In a strange twist, White Whale Bookstore in Pittsburgh, Pa., offered a "cautionary tale" in a series of tweets, saying that the real estate developer that just announced Posman Books will open a branch in its Terminal at the Strip development had led the bookstore on. The Pittsburgh bookstore, owned by Jill and Adlai Yeomans, said the developer had signed a letter of intent for White Whale to open in the spot, apparently playing the two stores off each other--until deciding to go with Posman.

"They courted a small mom-and-pop shop, asked us to scramble during a pandemic year in which we'd already pivoted over and over, and instead put a national indie chain just down the hill from us," White Whale wrote. "This is Big Business doing what it always does: trying to crush the little guy."

In comments to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Dan McCaffery, CEO of McCaffery Interests, the Terminal developer, said, "We don't scheme to do deals." He insisted that the company had been talking with Posman long before White Whale and then approached White Whale when Posman seemed to lose interest. But when Posman returned, McCaffery went with it.

McCaffery said the company was meeting the commitment it made to have 40,000 square feet in the Terminal go to local businesses. He also called Posman, which has two stores each in New York City and Atlanta and is just opening a fifth in Boston, "a small family business, too. He's not a big shot."

As White Whale recounted the events, McCaffery "approached us last summer. At the time, we laughed--it was pandemic and we were just trying to keep our business afloat!--but they were persistent.

"When McCaffery came back in October and pressed harder, we were a bit more willing to entertain the idea of a second location at The Terminal. Thanks to our community's support, it had actually turned out to be a pretty good year for White Whale!

"The space is beautiful, with built-in foot traffic and McCaffery's own 'robust marketing.' It felt like true possibility in an insanely stressful year. As we considered, the leasing manager noted McCaffery's CEO was prioritizing a bookstore in The Terminal--just a few neighborhoods away from us. He mentioned that they'd been talking to 'an out-of-state chain' but that they really wanted a local business like ours. The pressure was clear.

"It was mid-November and the biggest few weeks of the retail year were upon us (and Jill was nine months pregnant), but we moved quickly to secure our spot at The Terminal. We settled on lease terms and, after explicitly confirming that they were not negotiating with another bookstore, we signed a Letter of Intent--which we were told meant that BOTH parties were moving forward in good faith. We sent in finance and sales histories. And then, after months of rapid-fire back and forth... radio silence.

"We followed up after a month. McCaffery's CFO was on vacation but would review our paperwork. They'd said they wanted WW's Terminal location open by June, so (between caring for an infant and running our store), we worked on getting our ducks in a row to make that feasible. After another three weeks, we checked in again. Two weeks after that, finally, news: there was no space for White Whale. McCaffery was moving forward with another bookstore at The Terminal.

"When we spoke in person, McCaffery's leasing manager told us that, actually, the other store had had a draft of a lease at The Terminal all along. They had just 'come back to the table' to finish up in Feb. It certainly appears as if White Whale was merely a bargaining tool."

BINC: Do Good All Year - Click to Donate!

A Seat at the Table Opening Physical Store in Elk Grove, Calif.

A Seat at the Table Books, which debuted as an online bookstore with occasional pop-up appearances, will open a bricks-and-mortar location in Elk Grove, Calif., this fall.

A Seat at the Table sells inclusive books for all ages, and the new physical store will include a coffee shop and children's play area. Owners Emily and Ryan Autenrieth hope to open the store by November.

The coffee shop will sell tea, snacks, baked goods and a variety of breakfast and lunch items. There will be indoor and outdoor seating, as well as a conference room and a quiet room where overwhelmed or overstimulated children can take a break. In addition to books, A Seat at the Table will carry toys, puzzles, games and a selection of items crafted by local makers. The Autenrieths also plan to host family nights and performances by local artists.

Emily Autenrieth told ABC10 that the online store and pop-up appearances helped her and Ryan Autenrieth get to know the community and get a feel for what exactly they want, "so that by the time we open, we're really meeting as many needs as we can." She added that a physical bookshop is something the community needs, and they "trust that the community is going to respond strongly."

GLOW: Workman Publishing: Atlas Obscura: Wild Life: An Explorer's Guide to the World's Living Wonders by Cara Giaimo, Joshua Foer, and Atlas Obscura

Pearl's Books Coming to Fayetteville, Ark., This Fall

The future home of Pearl's Books

Pearl's Books, a general-interest bookstore offering titles for all ages, will open in downtown Fayetteville, Ark., this fall, the Fayetteville Flyer reported.

Owners Daniel and Leah Jordan plan to open the bookstore at 28 E. Center St., right off the town square. The bookstore, which is named in memory of the owners' dog, will carry children's books, biographies, bestsellers, books about social justice and much more.

The Jordans are currently soliciting feedback from Fayetteville community members about what they'd like to see at the bookstore.

Graphic Universe (Tm): Hotelitor: Luxury-Class Defense and Hospitality Unit by Josh Hicks

International Update: WH Smith to Open More Travel Stores, Pandemic Bookselling Trends

WH Smith is raising £325 million (about $452 million) in convertible bonds as it seeks to open about 100 more travel stores. The Bookseller reported that the company "has earmarked £50 million [about $70 million] from the bond funding to open new travel stores over the next three years in locations where it has already won tenders--mainly in the U.S.--alongside other growth opportunities." WH Smith reported a revenue decline of 44% in the six months up to February 2021.

Group CEO Carl Cowling said: "In travel, while many of our stores have remained closed, it is a credit to the team that we have kept up the momentum, focusing on our plan to increase average transaction value and spend per passenger while continuing to win new business. As a result, we are now operationally stronger than prior to the pandemic.

"We continue to see encouraging signs of recovery in North America and we are delighted to have won some significant tenders in the U.S. during the period. We have a strong pipeline of new store openings with circa 100 stores already won and due to open in travel over the next three years, the majority of these in North America."


Last week, the European & International Booksellers Federation hosted a webinar to discuss bookselling trends during the pandemic. Carol Hughes-Hallett and Hazel Kenyon from Nielsen Book International presented an overview of international book markets in 2020. Among the highlights: 

Insights for upcoming year:

  • Important to consider: many countries are entering recessionary conditions following Covid-19 (high unemployment, lower levels of consumer confidence, and lower economic outlook predictions) which will impact consumer spending
  • Retailers can continue to maximize their appeal in a world where consumers take a very different approach to retail and online shopping
  • A larger portion of consumer spending will shift from grocery to out of home spend in sectors that have suffered, such as bars, restaurants and travel.

How booksellers can prepare:

  • Adapt to lower foot traffic and revamping stores accordingly, focusing on lower density locations
  • Deliver positive and successful user experiences to win online and offline
  • Stores may have needed to reduce stock due to supply chain pressures


Cool Swedish bookseller idea of the day: BookOracle. Posted on Facebook by the English Bookshop in Uppsala and Stockholm: "WE'RE LAUNCHING a new service--BookOracle! This is a way to let you access the in-store experience of getting real book tips from real people--without coming to the shop! You simply let us know what you like and our amazing staff will let you know what to read next. So--no algorithm--just good book wizards doing their magic!" 


When Canadian bookseller Chris Brayshaw, owner of Pulpfiction Books in Vancouver, B.C., learned that his neighboring business, the Wallflower diner, had been denied an outdoor patio extension by the city due to major construction and parking protocols in the area, he stepped up.

Brayshaw "offered up some of his storefront space (which is technically private property) for two tables, giving the eatery a total of three dining spaces outside," Vancouver Is Awesome reported, adding: "While it may not seem like much, three tables make a big difference for a restaurant these days."

"It's good to know that they are supporting other local independent businesses. You don't know what's going to make the difference between survival and not," said Wallflower's owner Eric Neilson.

Brayshaw noted: "Hospitality businesses need much more support currently than a bustling independent bookstore does." --Robert Gray

Ten Speed Press Launches 4 Color Books

Bryant Terry

Random House's Ten Speed Press has launched 4 Color Books, an imprint with the aim of publishing nonfiction books from BIPOC chefs, writers, artists, activists and more. Bryant Terry, an educator, chef and author who has won the NAACP Image and James Beard awards, has been named editor-in-chief.

Terry will acquire and edit two to three titles per year pertaining to topics like food, art, culture, wellness and self-care. The new imprint's flagship title, Black Food: Stories, Art and Recipes from Across the African Diaspora, debuts in October and features recipes, essays and art from people like artist Sarina Mantle and Emory Douglas, creative director for the Black Panther Party. The imprint's first acquisition is the debut cookbook from Rahanna Bisseret Martinez, a former Top Chef Junior finalist.

"4 Color Books will amplify my ability to connect readers with new ideas, stories and perspectives to create captivating, inspiring, valuable books," Terry said. "I'm excited to realize my vision of a library that reflects the contribution of a diverse and inclusive creative community, and points the way to more mindfulness, health and equity in our individual lives and beyond."

Terry is currently the chef-in-residence at the Museum of the African Diaspora in San Francisco, Calif., and has written the books Afro-Vegan and Vegetable Kingdom. With 4 Color Books, he hopes to foster a community of BIPOC authors, designers, illustrators and photographers and help diversify the publishing industry.

Submissions can be sent to

Obituary Note: Fred Jordan 

Fred Jordan
(courtesy Grove Press)

Fred Jordan, who played a central role at Grove Press over three decades before becoming publisher of Pantheon Books, died April 19. He was 95. A Holocaust survivor born in Vienna, Jordan became a legendary literary editor in English, his second language, working with an extraordinary list of mid-century avant-garde writers, including Samuel Beckett, Jack Kerouac, William S. Burroughs, Allen Ginsberg, Harold Pinter, Henry Miller, Eugene Ionesco, Jean Genet, Tom Stoppard, Hubert Selby, Jr., Vaclav Havel, Marguerite Duras, Alain Robbe-Grillet, David Mamet, Sam Sheppard, Kathy Acker, Kenzaburō Ōe, Pablo Neruda and Art Spiegelman.

Jordan's publishing career was launched in 1953, when he saw a newspaper ad from a book publisher looking for a staffer. Though he knew nothing about the industry, he decided to apply at Falcon's Wing Press, run by Charles Muses. Over the next three years, Jordan taught himself the book publishing business, and then a book salesman who handled Falcon's Wing titles, Felix Morrow, suggested he give Barney Rosset, Grove's owner and publisher, a call.

Jordan joined Grove in 1956 as a business manager, but his role quickly expanded to include all aspects of company operations, including editorial and managing special projects like some legendary court cases.

Grove challenged and overturned censorship laws (Lady Chatterley's Lover, Tropic of Cancer, Naked Lunch, I Am Curious (Yellow), championed avant-garde voices (Waiting for Godot, The Subterraneans, Last Exit to Brooklyn, The New American Poetry 1945-1960), published controversial books that transformed American politics (The Autobiography of Malcolm X, Wretched of the Earth), and became a communications center of the counterculture, publishing books, distributing films, producing plays and publishing a leading magazine of the '60s cultural left, Evergreen Review.

Jordan left Grove in 1977 to become publisher of the U.S. division of Methuen, and then led an imprint at Grosset & Dunlap. In the early '80s he returned to a much smaller, financially strapped Grove Press and discovered and championed Kathy Acker, whom he edited for more than a decade. Grove was sold in 1985 to Ann Getty. In 1986, when Rosset departed Grove, Jordan continued as editor-in-chief until 1990, when he left to become publisher and editor-in-chief of Pantheon Books, a division of Random House.

The New York Times noted that in 1988 Jordan told DELOS that "no publishing experience replicated his voyage of discovery at Grove and Evergreen Review... comparing it to a science fiction movie in which aliens of greater intelligence than Earthlings anoint agents to prevent their minds from going stale. 'We had been acting as if under some extraordinary direction.... The moment is gone, the phase, but it's good to feel that somehow one has been chosen.' "


Happy 50th Birthday, Old New York Book Shop!

Congratulations to the Old New York Book Shop in Atlanta, Ga., which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. The legendary used and rare bookstore operated until 1996 in a house on Midtown's Juniper Street and "became famous for its legendary invitation-only book parties and its most famous customer and the shop owner's best friend, Pat Conroy," the Sandy Springs Reporter noted. The newspaper added that while it's no longer in its original space, the bookstore, still operated by founder Cliff Graubart and his wife, Cynthia Graubart, is located in their house in Sandy Springs. 

The book parties "were Conroy's idea to help bring more business into the struggling little shop that sold used and rare books at prices as low as 25 cents," the Reporter wrote. "Whenever an Atlanta writer got published, the shop would host a book-signing-and-schmoozing party to celebrate. Book parties were the only time the shop sold new books."

"I get calls all the time, asking, 'Is this the same shop that was on Juniper Street?' " said Cliff Graubert, who still makes personal visits to homes if a book collection sounds interesting. "I go look and usually buy some or all of the books." He maintain an inventory of 10,000 individual books in his basement.

The Grauberts also sell their own books. Cliff has published a short story collection, The Curious Vision of Sammy Levitt, and is working on a memoir about Conroy. Cynthia has published 12 cookbooks, including co-authoring Mastering the Art of Southern Cooking with Nathalie Dupree. Her two newest books are being released this spring.

Blue Umbrella's 'Peculiar Summer Reading Sale': Buy 2 Get 2

Blue Umbrella Books, Westfield, Mass., shared a "PECULIAR Summer Reading SALE Announcement" on Facebook yesterday, noting that "we are having a Buy 2 Get 2 Sale this month at Blue Umbrella Books. Basically you come in buy TWO books at their regular price and you walk out of the bookshop with those TWO books. This also applies to purchasers of TEN books. And 1, 3, 5, 8, 7, 4, 6, 9 and all double-digit numbers."

Video: Fla.'s Cultured Books 'Helps Kids Develop Better Reading Skills'

ABC's Good Morning America show sponsor Verizon "teamed up with Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Chris Godwin to help Lorielle Hollaway of Cultured Books in St. Petersburg, Fla., continue her efforts to improve literacy."

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Michael Lewis on CBS This Morning

CBS This Morning: Michael Lewis, author of The Premonition: A Pandemic Story (Norton, $30, 9780393881554).

Good Morning America: Emmanuel Acho, author of Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Boy (Roaring Brook Press, $17.99, 9781250801067).

TV: Facing the Mountain; Cool Breeze on the Underground

Destin Daniel Cretton (Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings) is slated to direct an adaptation of the upcoming nonfiction book Facing the Mountain: A True Story of Japanese American Heroes in World War II by Daniel James Brown, Deadline reported. Cretton will produce the new project alongside his Short Term 12 and Just Mercy producer Asher Goldstein.


Cory Finley (Bad Education) will write, direct and executive produce a series based on Don Winslow's bestselling debut novel A Cool Breeze on the Underground, Deadline reported. The first title in Winslow's five-book Neal Carey Mysteries series was optioned by MRC Television and Rian Johnson and Ram Bergman's T-Street banner.  

Books & Authors

Awards: Danuta Gleed Literary Finalists 

The Writers' Union of Canada has released a shortlist for the Danuta Gleed Literary Award, which recognizes the best first collection of short fiction by a Canadian author published in 2020 in English. The award consists of a C$10,000 (about US$8,065) first prize and two additional C$1,000 (about US$805) prizes. The winners will be named May 27 on TWUC's Facebook page. This year's shortlisted titles are: 

Seeking Shade by Frances Boyle
Dominoes at the Crossroads by Kaie Kellough
You Are Not What We Expected by Sidura Ludwig
How to Pronounce Knife by Souvankham Thammavongsa
We Two Alone by Jack Wang

Book Review

Review: With Teeth

With Teeth by Kristen Arnett (Riverhead Books, $27 hardcover, 304p., 9780593191507, June 1, 2021)

With Teeth, Kristen Arnett's second novel (after her debut Mostly Dead Things), returns readers to central Florida for a frank, sometimes dark, often funny portrayal of queer parenthood and midlife as experienced by a lesbian mom with a faltering marriage and an unfathomable child. 

Sammie turns her back for a moment, and her four-year-old son and namesake Samson happily walks off with a probable child abductor at a local park. She intervenes promptly, but his readiness to leave her for a stranger stays in her mind for years as she struggles with Samson's apathetic and occasionally cruel behavior. Whether he leaves a creepy doll in her bed, à la The Godfather, as a fourth grader, or gets in trouble at work for spitting in someone's drink as a teenager, she can count on him to have the "same indifferent look he always had" and to remain an enigma. Her charismatic, successful wife, Monika, provides financially but downplays Sammie's concerns about their son, and Sammie quietly resents doing the bulk of the domestic labor while "Monika got to be the dad-mom, the fun one...." As the years pass, Sammie faces the isolation of parenthood, the indignities of aging and the heartache of a failing marriage with her own awkward, often self-destructive, always totally understandable style.

Divided into four parts named after the seasons, Arnett's character-driven narrative focuses on Sammie's point of view, with occasional windows into the perspective of a minor character like Sammie's therapist, Samson's boss and a fellow swim team mom. These glimpses show Sammie as she appears to others, usually in contrast to the mistaken assumptions she projects onto their reactions, and cast a veil of doubt on the reliability of her perception. Readers will cringe in sympathy as Sammie self-soothes using alcohol and other dubious means, often followed by public embarrassment. Arnett walks a fine line between humor and pathos, sensitively conveying Sammie's loss of a social circle, her fear that others will judge a lesbian couple unfit to parent a boy, and her abdication of self for marriage and family. As a peripheral character muses, "that's what you did when you loved someone.... You said yes and pretended to like it." Complicated, fearless and confidently messy, With Teeth should resonate with any reader who has ever felt like a stranger in their own life. --Jaclyn Fulwood, blogger at Infinite Reads

Shelf Talker: This dark, tender second novel from Arnett is a funny but unflinching take on marriage, parenting and midlife from a queer perspective.

The Bestsellers

Top-Selling Self-Published Titles

The bestselling self-published books last week as compiled by

1. The Crown of Gilded Bones by Jennifer L. Armentrout
2. State of Affairs by Marie Force
3. Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert T. Kiyosaki with Sharon L. Lechter
4. A Kingdom of Flesh and Fire by Jennifer L. Armentrout
5. From Blood and Ash by Jennifer L. Armentrout
6. Just One Night by Carly Phillips
7. FutureHack! by Scott Jarred
8. Lighthouse Cove by Rachel Hanna
9. Quit Bein' Ugly by Lani Lynn Vale
10. Ember by Chelle Bliss

[Many thanks to!]

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