Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, October 6, 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

Quotation of the Day

'This Wasn't a Dream of Mine to Have a Bookshop'

"This wasn't a dream of mine to have a bookshop. The dream was what can I offer to the community that I know that I could be good at? That I can create a space to allow people to have an experience--but also to provide a product that will be purposeful, useful and beautiful?"

--Stephanie Culen, owner of the "smallest book shop in the country," Poet's Corner Book Shop, Duncans Mills, Calif., which is celebrating its first anniversary, speaking with the Press Democrat.

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


Porter Square Books Opens New Location in Boston, Mass.

Porter Square Books in Cambridge, Mass., has opened a second location. Officially called Porter Square Books: Boston Edition, the store opened its doors for the first time Monday morning in Boston's Seaport neighborhood.

The Seaport store encompasses about 1,800 square feet, said store manager Katherine Nazzaro, though much of that is set aside for an events space and seating, and compared to the original store in Cambridge, Porter Square Books: Boston Edition has about a third of the linear feet of shelf space. It is part of the new headquarters of GrubStreet, a creative writing center.

For the most part, the store's inventory is a scaled-down version of the Cambridge store's inventory, although sidelines and nonbook offerings have been tailored to be more Boston-focused, and some of the children's sidelines are more ocean-based, "just for the theme." The hope is to gradually tailor the inventory to the community, but "we'll have to get to know them first."

Nazzaro added that there will be a grand opening celebration in early November, though an exact date hasn't been decided yet. The team is still being cautious about in-person events for the moment, but they plan to host author events and storytime sessions eventually.

The Seaport store was first announced in early 2019.

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

PNBA Panel: Small Stores, Rapid Growth

At the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Booksellers Association's Small Store, Rapid Growth educational session yesterday, a panel of four booksellers discussed their experiences and strategies in small stores that have seen rapid increases in sales and buying. The event was well attended by booksellers also experiencing staffing limitations and stronger growth than anticipated due to the pandemic.

Sarah Hutton of Village Books and Paper Dreams in Bellingham, Wash., moderated the panel, which included Kim Hooyboer of Third Place Books Seward Park in Seattle, Wash.; James Crossley of Madison Books in Seattle, Wash.; and Lane Jacobson of Paulina Springs Books in Sisters, Ore. (subbing for Sylla McClellan of Third Street Books, McMinnville, Ore., who could not attend).

The question on everybody's mind was one of delegation: how and when to do it. As business rises, booksellers find themselves struggling to keep up with essential logistical tasks like bookkeeping and reordering, leaving little time for reading and relationship-building with customers. For Hooyboer, the pandemic showed people's extraordinary ability to adapt and take on more responsibilities, but also emphasized a need to fine-tune self-care to avoid burnout.

L to r.: James Crossley, Kim Hooyboer, Lane Jacobson, Sarah Hutton

One primary strategy among the group was to pair staff members with tasks for which they can be enthusiastic and feel some ownership. Managing the consignment program, for example, can connect frontline booksellers with local authors. These staff members may also enjoy reordering supplies and sidelines items that sell regularly and won't break the bank if mistakes are made occasionally. Consider compiling a binder with documentation about routine tasks done occasionally; it may require an initial burden to craft and hone the text, but once created, it allows for easy, repeated delegation. Panelists did voice caution about throwing new staff into the deep end, advocating for a combination of delegation and coaching along the way.

Another strategy the group endorsed is to automate systems. Jacobsen suggested digitizing as much as possible through products such as Google Calendar for scheduling, QuickBooks online for payroll and pushing online sales through Hutton seconded the use of Google Calendar and Forms to ease the stress of worrying about tasks already accomplished, and Hooyboer recommended leaning on Shelf Awareness for branded newsletters.

Crossley, whose store is the smallest, at 400 square feet, offered suggestions for efficient use of space, taking full advantage of high shelves and under-table space for storage, acknowledging, too, the advantages of off-site storage for supplies in bulk. Like others on the panel, he regularly refers to reports of what's selling to discern which titles to keep in quantity and which ones to let go, cultivating a selective inventory across a broad range.

Being able to sell what's in the store emerged as the panelists' priority. It's easy to get hindered by details and pennies, and to get stuck inside a single mode of thinking. "Don’t be afraid to reimagine everything you're doing," Jacobson added, recounting a recent season of hectic external responsibilities in which he chose to limit hours and noticed sales staying the same, begging the question of whether certain hours are as central to a store's identity as originally thought. Hutton added that staff performing tasks in the store doesn't necessitate the store being open, and that hiring a trusted bookkeeper can free up copious amounts of time and energy for owners and managers.

"We are fortunate to work in this field, but it's still a job," said Jacobson. "Look for ways to delegate and automate. Create as many systems as you can, that you trust. Then you can be present when you're on the floor." --Dave Wheeler

International Update: System Outage Continues for Blackwell's, Readings in Melbourne Adding Eighth Store

A systems outage that caused severe IT problems for British book retailer Blackwell's "is still affecting the bookseller's website a week after the problem first appeared, although recovery work is now underway," the Bookseller reported, adding that the chain's website has been inactive since the morning of September 28 and the company has been unable to receive external e-mails. 

Blackwell's said yesterday that recovery work is underway and back-office systems are being gradually restored. "We aim to have the website back and trading as soon as possible," a spokesperson said. "Shops have remained open and trading despite the outage."


Australian bookseller Readings in Melbourne will open its eighth store in early December, on the first floor at Emporium Melbourne, Broadsheet reported. Operations manager Joe Rubbo said: "We've always thought the city could support another store, because there used to be quite a number of big bookstores in the city. We're betting on the city coming back."

Kerstin Thompson Architects is leading the remodel of the 300-square-meter (3,230-square-foot) location. "We're trying to play to our strengths and create a beautiful physical space for people to be in, and want to come and visit," Rubbo added. "There's going to be more seating in this store. It looks out onto Little Bourke Street, and it's got these beautiful art deco windows and lots of natural light."


In Turkey, Denizler Kitabevi, "one of the last-standing symbolic bookstores of Istanbul's Istiklal Avenue, has decided to close its doors for financial reasons," Hürriyet Daily News reported, adding that the iconic bookstore, which was established in 1993 in the Beyoğlu district, "will move to a new place in the Kuledibi neighborhood due to the financial problems it has experienced during the pandemic.


Author Hasan Mert Kaya tweeted: "This place was a living, breathing memory. Even its stairs leading up to the upper story where book and ephemera fans could chat contained history. It was İstiklal's gem smelling of books. I have just found out that it will be closed down in three days. It seems that it will be turned into a falafel shop." 


The Canadian Independent Booksellers Association showcased Librairie Saga Bookstore, "a fully bilingual indie bookshop that opened in January 2020 and spent the year building their customer base before opening their physical store in Montreal, Que. in December."

Co-owners Ilya Razykov and Mathieu Lauzon-Dicso "are a bilingual couple who bonded over their love of books early on in their relationship," CIBA noted. "Once they started to read in the other's language, they were astounded at what they found. 'It was like we discovered parallel worlds, especially in Canadian and Québécois fiction.... It was life-changing for us.' "

Earlier this week, the bookshop launched its first "socio-financing campaign," saying: "We'll soon be celebrating our 1st anniversary in #NDG and thanks to you, our wonderful community, we made it through one of the worst possible times to open our new bookstore! We are now calling on you to help us strengthen the bookstore presence in the community." On Wednesday, the co-owners posted a "little update on our La Ruche crowdfunding, that we started yesterday even though there was a Facebook shutdown! Already reached close to 30% thanks to you!!!" --Robert Gray

Man Pleads Guilty to Salt Lake City Bookseller's 2010 Murder

Sherry Black

More than a decade after Sherry Black, owner of B&W Billiards and Books in Salt Lake City, Utah, was found dead, the man accused of her slaying pleaded guilty Monday to aggravated murder, the Tribune reported. Adam Durborow entered his plea in 3rd District Court, according to a news release from the Salt Lake County District Attorney's office. His sentencing is slated for December 2.

On November 30, 2010, Black's husband discovered her body at their home and business, but "police failed to identify a suspect or motive behind her killing, and the case sat cold for years," the Tribune wrote, noting that a "break in the case came in 2016, when an outsourced genealogist working with DNA evidence was able to identify a genetic history of the assailant."

Police subsequently identified Durborow as a suspect and "surreptitiously" obtained his DNA from items he had "discarded," Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill said. A DNA match eventually led to his arrest on October 10, 2020, when he was charged with aggravated murder. 

"With today's plea of guilty, we are one step closer to bringing a measure of justice for Sherry Black and her family," Gill said in a statement.

National Book Award Finalists Announced

The National Book Foundation announced the finalists for this year's National Book Awards. Among the five categories, there are five writers who have been previously honored by the NBF: Hanif Abdurraqib, on the 2019 nonfiction longlist; Anthony Doerr, a 2014 fiction finalist; Nona Fernández and Natasha Wimmer, on the 2019 translated literature longlist; Lauren Groff, a finalist for fiction in 2015 and 2018; Kekla Magoon, on the 2015 young people's literature longlist; and Leri Price, a 2019 translated literature finalist. All five of the poetry finalists are first-time NBA honorees. Four of the 25 finalists are debuts.

The winners, who will be named live November 17 at the 72nd National Book Awards Ceremony online, receive $10,000 and a bronze medal and statue. Finalists get $1,000 and a bronze medal. Winners and finalists in the translated literature category split the prize evenly between author and translator.

Two lifetime achievement awards will also be presented: Karen Tei Yamashita will be recognized with the NBF's Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters; and Nancy Pearl will receive the foundation's Literarian Award for Outstanding Service to the American Literary Community, presented by Ron Charles. This year's NBA finalists are:

Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr (Scribner)
Matrix by Lauren Groff (Riverhead)
Zorrie by Laird Hunt (Bloomsbury)
The Prophets by Robert Jones, Jr. (Putnam)
Hell of a Book by Jason Mott (Dutton)

A Little Devil in America: Notes in Praise of Black Performance by Hanif Abdurraqib (Random House)
Running Out: In Search of Water on the High Plains by Lucas Bessire (Princeton University Press)
Tastes Like War: A Memoir by Grace M. Cho (Feminist Press)
Covered with Night: A Story of Murder and Indigenous Justice in Early America by Nicole Eustace (Liveright)
All That She Carried: The Journey of Ashley's Sack, a Black Family Keepsake by Tiya Miles (Random House)

What Noise Against the Cane by Desiree C. Bailey (Yale University Press)
Floaters by Martín Espada (Norton)
Sho by Douglas Kearney (Wave Books)
A Thousand Times You Lose Your Treasure by Hoa Nguyen (Wave Books)
The Sunflower Cast a Spell to Save Us from the Void by Jackie Wang (Nightboat Books)

Translated Literature
Winter in Sokcho by Elisa Shua Dusapin, translated from the French by Aneesa Abbas Higgins (Open Letter)
Peach Blossom Paradise by Ge Fei, translated from the Chinese by Canaan Morse (New York Review Books)
The Twilight Zone by Nona Fernández, translated from the Spanish by Natasha Wimmer (Graywolf Press)
When We Cease to Understand the World by Benjamín Labatut, translated from the Spanish by Adrian Nathan West (New York Review Books)
Planet of Clay by Samar Yazbek, translated from the Arabic by Leri Price (World Editions)

Young People's Literature
The Legend of Auntie Po by Shing Yin Khor (Kokila/PRH)
Last Night at the Telegraph Club by Malinda Lo (Dutton Books for Young Readers)
Too Bright to See by Kyle Lukoff (Dial Books for Young Readers)
Revolution in Our Time: The Black Panther Party's Promise to the People by Kekla Magoon (Candlewick Press)
Me (Moth) by Amber McBride (Feiwel and Friends/Macmillan)


Image of the Day: Bay Area Booksellers, Reps Toast Gigi Reinheimer

Two dozen booksellers and sales reps from the San Francisco Bay Area bookselling community met Saturday, October 2, at the Presidio Parade Grounds to honor Gigi Reinheimer. Gigi just retired from Macmillan Publishers, after 25 years of being a sales rep. The gathering was particularly poignant since many of the reps and booksellers hadn't seen one another since before the pandemic. It was a beautiful day and a glorious reunion/retirement party. The event was organized by Luisa Smith, buyer at Book Passage; Jane McIntyre took the photo.

Back row (l. to r.): Jim Hankey (Harper), Tom McIntyre (Hachette), Jenn Ramage and Michele Sulka (PRH), Jeff Maso, Camden Avery (Booksmith), Wendy Pearl (PRH), Kevin Peters (Travelers Group West), Ty Wilson (PGW), Paul Yamazaki (City Lights), Reed Oros (Macmillan retired). Front row: Ingrid Nystrom (Books Inc.), Sheryl Cotleur (Copperfield's), Beverly Langer (S&S retired), Luisa Smith (Book Passage), Tee Minot (Christopher Books), Gigi Reinheimer (Macmillan), Susan Southwick, Lise Solomon (Karel/Dutton Group), Bob Belmont (PRH), Ellen Towell (Karel/Dutton Group) Howard Karel (Karel/Dutton Group). Kneeling: Lauretta Cuadra (GGNRA), Helen Clifton (wife of Ron Shoop, PRH).

Cool Idea of the Day: 'Donate Diverse Books!'

bbgb team members Emma and Angie posed with all the diverse book donations before shipping them to York.

From bbgb tales for kids, Richmond, Va.: "After we found out about the 'freeze' (now lifted) by the Central York School Board on the list of diverse teaching material (which consisted of children's book authors and illustrators of color), we could not simply fester in our anger. We partnered with Haybrook Little Free Library in York, Pa., to make these books present and readily accessible to the York community to read. We didn't expect such an incredible response to our book drive announcement. We couldn't have made the donations without everyone who purchased book(s) to donate through us. We are keeping our donations page open and are now directing book donations to the Richmond Little Free Diverse Library."

Personnel Changes at Atria

In Atria's publicity and marketing departments:

Shida Carr has been promoted to deputy director of publicity. Before joining Atria in 2018, she was associate director of publicity for Touchstone, where she had worked since 2000.

Ariele Fredman has been promoted to deputy director of publicity. She joined Atria in 2010.

Gena Lanzi has been promoted to senior publicist. She joined Atria in 2020.

Maudee Genao has been promoted to marketing associate. She joined the marketing department in 2019.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Fiona Hill on Fresh Air

Fresh Air: Fiona Hill, author of There Is Nothing for You Here: Finding Opportunity in the Twenty-First Century (Mariner, $30, 9780358574316).

Late Show with Stephen Colbert: Sanjay Gupta, co-author of World War C: Lessons from the Covid-19 Pandemic and How to Prepare for the Next One (Simon & Schuster, $28, 9781982166106).

Daily Show: Bobby Hall, author of This Bright Future: A Memoir (Simon & Schuster, $27, 9781982158248).

TV: House of the Dragon; Lovers & Gamblers

WarnerMedia released "a spine-tingling" first teaser for its Game of Thrones spin-off House of the Dragon, which "chronicles the beginning of the end of House Targaryen and the events leading up to the Targaryen civil war, known as the Dance of the Dragons," Deadline reported. HBO will air the 10-episode series, based on George R.R. Martin's Fire & Blood, in 2022. 


Jackie Collins's bestselling 1977 novel Lovers & Gamblers will be reworked for TV by Sarah Phelps, who has written many of BBC's Agatha Christie adaptations, Deadline reported. Phelps will also executive produce alongside the Bureau producer Federation UK's Polly Williams and Arielle Gottlieb, and eOne is co-producing.

"Lovers & Gamblers is a searing scabrous masterpiece," said Phelps.

Books & Authors

Awards: Scotiabank Giller Shortlist

A five-book shortlist has been released for the C$100,000 (about US$79,455) Scotiabank Giller Prize, which recognizes excellence in Canadian fiction. Each of the finalists receives C$10,000 (about US$7,945). The winner will be named November 8. This year's shortlisted titles are:

What Strange Paradise by Omar El Akkad 
Glorious Frazzled Beings by Angélique Lalonde 
The Son of the House by Cheluchi Onyemelukwe-Onuobia 
The Listeners by Jordan Tannahill 
Fight Night by Miriam Toews 

Reading with... Adam Zmith

Adam Zmith is the author of Deep Sniff: A History of Poppers and Queer Futures (Repeater, September 14, 2021). He is also a co-producer of The Log Books, a podcast about LGBTQ+ history in Britain. His short fiction has been published online and in print, and a recent short story was specially commended by the Wasafiri New Writing Prize. Zmith is the literature programmer for London's Fringe! Queer Film & Arts Fest and he is always working on a novel.

On your nightstand now:

I'm reading Delayed Rays of a Star by Amanda Lee Koe to help with a podcast I'm developing with a collaborator. It's a sprawling story about real people including Marlene Dietrich--but with plenty of adventurous fictionalising. I'm into it right now because the author has spun the whole novel out of a chance meeting of Marlene, Leni Riefenstahl and Anna May Wong, who were all hugely significant figures in the 20th century. The podcast has an element of imagining what might have happened if certain real people had met.

Favorite book when you were a child:

I really, really loved Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor, and its sequel, Let the Circle Be Unbroken. The kids in those books had such different lives to mine, but I didn't even think about that; I was just a part of their world and I experienced injustices with them. So I think they were among my favourite books by taking me to a different place and time, and evoking empathy across these divides.

Your top five authors:

Garth Greenwell--amazing stylist and voyager into human intimacy.

John le Carré--plot and analysis of British class bullshit at the same time.

Maggie Nelson, for pushing at the boundaries of genre and style, and how we think of our bodies.

James Baldwin--fiction and polemic and analysis and brainpower and humanity.

And Adam Curtis, who is a filmmaker not an author, but he heavily scripts his films and narrates them himself, and the clarity of his voice inspired me a lot when I was writing Deep Sniff.

Book you've faked reading:

I used to work in a bookshop, and we did a midnight opening for a new Harry Potter book (I think it was number five?). The shoppers were so excited, they lined up outside, they wore costumes, and we made a party atmosphere in the shop for them. It was a great night! But I remember having a few conversations with shoppers who assumed that I was also a big fan of Harry and was just as desperate as they were for the new instalment. I didn't admit that I was a muggle who hadn't read the books. I just kept the conversation flowing to see if they also wanted to buy a set of Harry Potter trading cards or a Harry Potter notepad.

Book you're an evangelist for:

At least two friends of mine have read Diary of a Film by Niven Govinden after hearing me talk about how much I loved it. Reading that short novel was such a gorgeous and freeing experience, like walking around an old Italian city, pausing for coffee, thinking about life, which is basically what happens in the story.

Book you've bought for the cover:

I think the covers of the books for Culture series by Iain M. Banks are the reasons why I got into those books. They're enormous, epic, mysterious space-based adventures, and the covers from the U.K. publisher Orbit are just cosmic.

Book you hid from your parents:

My parents let me read anything, which meant that books were my safe space for exploring subversive ideas and my body. I didn't realise until recently how important this was for me, as a queer, polyamorous anti-capitalist! So I distinctly remember wanting to make sure that my parents didn't know I was reading The Miracle Strain by Michael Cordy, when I was about 14. It's a science thriller about genetics and the second coming of Jesus Christ--and it featured the first representation of a blowjob that I'd ever encountered.

Book that changed your life:

The Shipping News by Annie Proulx was the first book I read where I think I really understood how much work had gone into writing it. Annie had researched her location and the culture where she set her novel (Newfoundland), and above that she had developed a distinctive style that belonged to her characters, her setting, but also to herself as an author. I read it at least three times while studying it aged 17-18, and it set a bar for me, as I set out to be a writer.

Favorite line from a book:

"You can be merry with the king, you can share a joke with him. But as Thomas More used to say, it's like sporting with a tamed lion. You tousle its mane and pull its ears, but all the time you're thinking, those claws, those claws, those claws." --from Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel

Five books you'll never part with:

Jurassic Park and The Lost World by Michael Crichton are stuck in my brain from when I read them about 23 years ago, as a teenager. They're precious to me.

The Trouble with Normal by Michael Warner, which managed to express many of the political views that I had long lived with and been unable, or too scared, to name.

What Belongs to You by Garth Greenwell, because it has such exquisite style.

The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin, for being the finest example of a science-fiction novel that can reshape your brain.

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

A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara, which I was completely obsessed with. It helped me to experience so many emotions intensely. I wonder if I'd have the same experience if I re-read it? I remember crying everywhere while I was reading it--on my friend's couch, a plane, a New York subway train.

Best new book this year:

Assembly by Natasha Brown, which is a short, piercing novel that skewers British ways of thinking about race and class. It's a gorgeous, intimate exploration of one character's thoughts as she approaches a big decision and goes to meet her boyfriend's parents. It came out this summer and I just know that it's going to last for a long time. It's hot, but it's more than just a moment.

Book Review

YA Review: Roxy

Roxy by Neal Shusterman, Jarrod Shusterman (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, $18.99 hardcover, 384p., ages 14-up, 9781534451254, November 9, 2021)

The father-son writing team of Neal and Jarrod Shusterman (Dry) successfully take on the opioid epidemic in their riveting, tense sophomore novel.

Eighteen-year-old Ivy Ramey, who struggles with ADD, is made up of "broken promises and patterns of bad behavior," while her younger brother, Isaac, is on track to become a propulsion engineer. Even though Isaac is a year younger than Ivy, he often feels like the older sibling as he often bails her out of bad situations. On one of these nights, Isaac sustains a serious ankle injury after fighting with Ivy's drug-dealer boyfriend, which threatens his chances of earning a soccer scholarship to a top-tier college. His pain, the stress of his parents' financial worries and his sister's behavior weighs heavily on him, so Isaac turns to the oxycodone Roxicet--"Roxy"--to soothe his woes. At the same time, Ivy is faced with the possibility of flunking out of high school and chooses instead to see her childhood psychiatrist to obtain a prescription for Adderall--"Addison"--to help her focus and take control of her life.

Addison is always just on the periphery--"in the Party, but not of the Party"--while Roxy is "so hot right now." The two "gods" wager to see who can be the first one to bring their "plus-one" to the Party (a stand-in for altered states) and into the intimate, deadly VIP Lounge, "where the real business of the Party is done"--all, of course, at the expense of the lives of their "marks."

Roxy uses point of view to explore the effects of drug dependency and abuse: third person limited to get inside the heads of the teen addicts and surprising first-person perspectives from individual drugs. In the opening chapter, the Shustermans don't mess around: one of the Ramey siblings dies from a drug overdose. From there, the authors backtrack two months to follow Ivy and Isaac on their downward spirals as well as the drugs themselves, delivering powerful, tense scenes that elicit empathy and compassion. Interludes deliver stories from other drugs' perspectives, and words hidden in chapter titles hint at what's to come. The authors' personification of substances is spot-on; for example, Lucy (C20H25N3O, better known as acid) is "some vague-minded enchantress of light and dreams with no substance" whose only wish is for her next plus-one to be the one who can fly. Roxy is a dark, gritty cautionary tale about the dangers--to oneself and to loved ones--of addiction. --Lana Barnes, freelance reviewer and proofreader

Shelf Talker: A pair of siblings become the playthings for two drug "gods"--Roxy and Addison--in this riveting thriller that addresses the opioid epidemic.

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