Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, December 15, 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


Black Garnet Books Opening Physical Store in St. Paul; Making Impact with 1619 Project Book Drive

Black Garnet Books, a Black-, woman-owned business that has been selling books online and through pop-up locations in the Twin Cities for more than a year, "has found a space of its own" on University Avenue West in the Midway neighborhood of St. Paul, Mpls.St.Paul magazine reported. Founder Dionne Sims said renovations are starting in February and she expects the shop to open in late summer 2022.

Councilmember Mitra Jalali's office recently awarded Sims and Black Garnet Books a $100,000 Neighborhood Sales Tax Revitalization (STAR) grant to renovate and open the physical store. 

Sims, who has been scouting possible locations since last January, said finding a space that checked all the boxes--close to public transit, ADA accessible, with a parking lot and the ideal size--had posed a challenge. "The STAR grant really cemented my ability to be in that space and to be able to afford to be in that space," she noted, adding that the location will be on the ground floor of the Hamline Station apartments, across from the Midway light-rail station and Target.

Black Garnet Books' website notes: "Our shelves primarily stock Adult and YA contemporary literature by Black and racially-diverse authors. We're incredibly excited to introduce everyone to underrepresented voices and stories, new and old, that support and affirm the cultures they're connected to."

Sims also launched a book drive in November to donate copies of The 1619 Project to Twin Cities schools. The initiative allows independent bookstores across the U.S. to donate copies of the book to local organizations such as schools, libraries and other educational and community organizations. Sims had announced her participation by posting a tweet and an Instagram grid post. Through retweets, Instagram stories and reposts (including a retweet from the author herself), as well as word of mouth, the initiative spread. Black garnet Books has since donated more than 760 copies in the Twin Cities region, becoming the most successful 1619 book drive in the country. CEO Andy Hunter said: "We are proud of the work Black Garnet Books and many other bookstores have done through our partnership with The 1619 Project: A New Origin Story. Their success is a testament to what happens when you are genuine about your cause, and the good that can come of booksellers' deep connection with their local communities. We hope many more customers will take part in our donations initiatives during the holidays, supporting both independent bookstores and educational organizations across the U.S."

Sims added: "What's been really cool about this book drive is seeing how excited people--parents, teachers, and community members--have been about providing youth with the kind of educational material we didn't have at their ages. Obviously, it's also really cool to support an indie bookstore in the process, but I'm mostly seeing the focus being on the importance of accurate American history being taught in our schools. I wouldn't be able to do a book drive of this magnitude without help and support, so I'm seriously so grateful to, One World, and, of course, Nikole Hannah-Jones for making it possible for my community to do this for our schools."

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

The Salt Eaters Bookshop, Inglewood, Calif., Soft Opening This Weekend

The Salt Eaters Bookshop, an independent bookstore with a focus on books "by and about Black women and girls, femmes and non-binary folks," will host its soft opening this weekend. On December 18 and 19, 1-5 p.m., customers will be able to stop by the Inglewood, Calif., store to do some holiday shopping and meet owner Asha Grant and her team.

Asha Grant

In summer 2020, Grant launched a GoFundMe campaign to bring a new bookstore to Inglewood. The campaign brought in $84,500--almost $20,000 more than Grant's original goal, including contributions from actor Mandy Patinkin and author Roxane Gay. Grant hopes the bookstore will become a feminist literary hub, and her programming plans include children's storytimes, poetry readings, author talks, teach-ins and watch parties.

It's been a long road leading up to the store's opening, and for the entire week leading up to the opening, Grant and co. will be "sharing and reflecting on the journey it took to get to this point and sharing some of our favorite parts of the store."

Farrar, Straus and Giroux: Intermezzo by Sally Rooney

PRH, S&S Respond to Justice Department Suit Blocking Purchase

In response to the Justice Department's civil antitrust lawsuit filed last month to block Penguin Random House's purchase of Simon & Schuster, the defendants have filed an answer in federal court. Among their arguments for the sale is that adding S&S to PRH's "highly efficient supply chain" will benefit booksellers, as well as authors and readers, and that defendants have little of the control over author pay that the government alleges; that the government is focused mainly on the most highly paid authors; that the government doesn't allege prices for consumers will go up; and that the Big Five's market share is at most 50% and has fallen in the last six years.

Dan Petrocelli of O'Melveny & Myers, lead attorney for PRH and its parent company, Bertelsmann, summed up the defendants' approach by saying that the purchase is "procompetitive in every respect. It will benefit authors, booksellers, and readers for generations to come. [The Department of Justice] wants to block the merger on the misguided theory it will diminish compensation to the highest paid authors. This is not only legally, factually, and economically wrong, but it also ignores the vast majority of authors who indisputably will benefit from the transaction. We are fully confident that this merger will only enhance competition across the entire spectrum of the publishing industry."

The answer stated that PRH plans to "reinvest its savings from the merger to grow title acquisitions and continue its support of brick-and-mortar booksellers. By giving Simon & Schuster authors access to Penguin Random House's highly efficient supply chain, their books will be more discoverable, visible, and available--online, internationally, and down the street." In addition, PRH's "extensive supply capabilities are increasingly important to neighborhood bookstores as they strive to compete with Amazon's almost infinite book selection and highly efficient delivery capabilities. Expanding Penguin Random House's supply chain to include Simon & Schuster authors ultimately provides greater income for authors and more choices for readers."

PRH argued that it has a positive track record, stating that "after the 2013 merger between Random House and Penguin, competition in the markets for books and book rights intensified. The trade-book market in the U.S. has expanded substantially, with more titles being published every year. And publishers outside the so-called 'Big Five' have been gaining share in the retail market for book sales at the expense of the 'Big Five,' driving the 'Big Five's' share down to only about 50% of the overall book market," citing BookScan data.

The defendants also pointed out that the Department of Justice (DOJ) "does not allege that the merger will reduce competition in the market for book sales or raise prices for consumers. DOJ professes a different concern: it wants to protect the most successful authors, those with sophisticated agents and the most lucrative book contracts." In accompanying documents, the defendants characterized them as "the industry's best-paid authors--celebrities, CEOs, politicians, influencers, and bestselling authors."

"To secure that protection, DOJ invents a market for rights to 'anticipated top-selling books' that excludes the vast majority of authors and lacks any basis in either the real world or accepted market-definition analysis. According to DOJ, only the 'Big Five' publishers today regularly compete to acquire rights in this invented market. Reducing that number to four, DOJ asserts, will diminish competitive high-end bidding and thus reduce the royalty advances that authors obtain for their works."

This theory the defendants called "factually wrong and baseless.... Even in its made-for-litigation market artificially limited to only the richest royalty advances, DOJ cannot show that the merger will cause authors to accept lower advances than they did before the merger."

In fact, defendants said, post-merger, PRH, "along with all its rivals, will have every incentive to continue competing aggressively in the book-rights market, especially for the rights to books they expect to be most successful. These are the most sought-after books, where authors and their sophisticated agents have the greatest negotiating leverage....

"DOJ misses the point: what matters is that in bidding for any given book, at least one smaller publisher often competes. And in fact, the available data show that these publishers win bidding for books more often than Simon & Schuster does. DOJ also ignores how easily many publishers outside the 'Big Five'--which include such media heavyweights as Disney, Amazon, and Scholastic, as well as brand-name publishing 'imprints' like Norton and Abrams and new entrants like Zando--could increase their participation in high-end bidding. In short, after the merger, authors will still have a vast array of buyers for their book proposals, particularly for books expected to be 'top sellers.' "

The defendants added: "Penguin Random House has no ability to influence overall advances or compensation: a Penguin Random House imprint is not invited to bid for every book, and even when one or more Penguin Random House imprints do bid, they lose far more auctions than they win. The same is true for Simon & Schuster. After the merger, the market dynamic will be just the same, and post-merger Penguin Random House's pricing influence will be just as nonexistent as it is today."

Professional Bookseller Certification Program's Store & Operations Management Module

The Store & Operations Management Module of the Professional Bookseller Certification Program of the Professional Bookseller School, Inc., which starts on January 13, 2022, is now open for registration.

The course will be hosted on Thursdays, 6-7:30 p.m. Eastern, from January 13 through May 26. The fee for the course is $250, due with registration. Some regional associations have pledged scholarships to their members who complete the course successfully. This class is limited to 40 booksellers. Once this class begins, there are no fee refunds.

The module is designed to cover all of the day-to-day and long term operational and other business-related needs of an independent bookstore, considering both the high level management topics and the daily tasks assigned to individual booksellers. Store examples and company tutorials will provide opportunities for learning, comparison and implementation within each student’s store. A mix of webinars, trainings, handouts and assignments will be used to create store resources and systems for real-time applications. See the syllabus here.

Instructors for this module are Glenda Childs, owner of the Doylestown Bookshop, Doylestown Pa., and the Lahaska Bookshop in Peddler's Village; Anna Thorn, a bookstore consultant located in Washington, D.C.; Candice Huber, owner of Tubby & Coo's Mid-City Book Shop, New Orleans, La.; Tim Smith, operations manager for Schuler Books, with three stores in Michigan, and Nicola's Books, Ann Arbor; Nick Buzanski, general manager and book buyer at Books Are Magic, Brooklyn, N.Y.; and DeAndra Beard, owner/chief book curator/lead creative at Beyond Barcodes Bookstore, Kokomo, Ind. 

Participants must have a current membership with the American Booksellers Association and/or their regional booksellers association. Preference is given to participants who are employed by or who own a retail bookstore (this includes a mobile or pop-up shop) that has been in existence for at least one year. Others may apply and will be considered on an individual basis. 

Obituary Note: Charles R. Morris

Charles R. Morris

Charles R. Morris, "a former government official, banker and self-taught historian of economics who as a prolific, iconoclastic author challenged conventional political and economic pieties," died December 13, the New York Times reported. He was 82. His 15 nonfiction books "often revisited well-trodden topics," but he "injected them with revealing details, provocative insights and fluid narratives."

Morris wrote his first book, The Cost of Good Intentions: New York City and the Liberal Experiment (1980), after serving as director of welfare programs under New York City Mayor John V. Lindsay and as secretary of social and health services in Washington State. The book "was less a screed about liberal profligacy as it was an expression of disappointment that benevolent officials had become wedded to programs that didn't work," the Times noted. 

His other works include A Time of Passion: America 1960-1980 (1984); A Rabble of Dead Money: The Great Crash and the Global Depression: 1929-1939 (2017); Comeback: America's New Economic Boom (2013); The Sages: Warren Buffett, George Soros, Paul Volcker, and the Maelstrom of Markets (2009); The Surgeons: Life and Death in a Top Heart Center (2007); American Catholic: The Saints and Sinners Who Built America's Most Powerful Church (1997); and The Tycoons: How Andrew Carnegie, John D. Rockefeller, Jay Gould, and J.P. Morgan Invented the American Supereconomy (2005).

In The Trillion Dollar Meltdown: Easy Money, High Rollers and the Great Credit Crash (2008), which won the Gerald Loeb Award for business reporting, Morris "precisely predicted the collapse of the investment bank Bear Stearns and the ensuing global recession," the Times noted, adding: "He wrote the book in 2007, when most experts were still expressing optimism about the economy. He also appeared in the Oscar-winning documentary Inside Job (2010) about the 2008 financial crisis."

"I think we're heading for the mother of all crashes. It will happen in summer of 2008, I think," Morris wrote his publisher, Peter Osnos, founder of PublicAffairs Books, early in 2007.

Osnos recalled that after the book was published, "George Soros and Paul Volcker called me and asked, 'Who is this Morris, and how did he get this so right, so early?' "


Back by Popular Demand: 'Supply Chain Survivor Shirt'

Last week, staff members at Bear Pond Books, Montpelier, Vt., wore their Supply Chain Survivor shirts ("I survived the supply chain disaster of 2021 and all I got was this shirt") for a "Kick Supply Chain Butt Mantra" post on social media. 

The response was enthusiastic, including this tweet from Fountain Bookstore, Richmond, Va.: "Hey, @BearPondBooks, y'all got any extra tee shirts? Oh, never mind... they probably wouldn't get here in time anyway. Also, a good time to remind our customers that last day to order in time for Christmas/Kwanzaa is, well, maybe Tuesday, 12/14? We'll do the best we can."

Beth Ineson, the New England Independent Booksellers Association's executive director, responded: "We produced them @NEIBAbooks as a @BincFoundation fundraiser. @aliavidreader, time to re-activate this one!"

And so they did, later posting: "Our Supply Chain Survivor shirt is back by popular demand! This Bonfire link will remain active through January 4*. Purchase for yourself, a friend, or both! All proceeds will benefit @BincFoundation. (*Orders will ship in early 2022 because, well... Upside-down face)."

Holiday Windows: Covered Treasure Bookstore, Monument, Colo.

Covered Treasures Bookstore in Monument, Colo., shared photos of the store's holiday windows; this year's theme, created by local artist Kris Gideon, is "The Polar Express." Bookseller Paula Primavera wrote, "Makes you want to curl up with some hot cocoa and read The Polar Express to children. Do you still hear the bell?"

Two Rivers to Distribute Sungrazer Publishing

Ingram's Two Rivers Distribution is adding Sungrazer Publishing as a client.

Founded by author Josephine Angelini and her husband, Albert Leon, Sungrazer will initially focus on Angelini's work but plans to add female authors to the list, with an emphasis on fantasy, YA and middle great titles. Sungrazer plans to release six books in the next three years.

Sungrazer's first release is Scions, a prequel to Angelini's Starcrossed series, scheduled for release in September 2022. It will be followed by three additional books set in the same universe.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Matthew McConaughey on Ellen

Good Morning America: Priyanka Chopra Jonas, author of Unfinished: A Memoir (Ballantine, $28, 9781984819215).

Ellen: Matthew McConaughey, author of Greenlights: Your Journal, Your Journey (Clarkson Potter, $20, 9780593235478).

Late Show with Stephen Colbert: Andy Cohen, author of Glitter Every Day: 365 Quotes from Women I Love (Holt, $24, 9781250832399).

Movies: The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry; Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore

David Arquette (You Cannot Kill David Arquette) and Scott Foley (Scandal) are joining the previously announced Kunal Nayyar, Lucy Hale and Christina Hendricks in The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry, based on the bestselling novel by Gabrielle Zevin, Deadline reported. The film is now shooting on Cape Cod.

Hans Canosa is directing the film, which was adapted by Zevin. Nayyar plays Fikry, with Arquette as Lambiase, and Foley as Daniel Parish. BCDF Pictures' Claude Dal Farra and Brian Keady are producing alongside Kelsey Law, Canosa and Zevin. BCDF's Brice Dal Farra, Nayyar, Hale, and Hendricks are executive producers. 


Warner Bros. released the first trailer for Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore, the third film in J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter spinoff series, an April release. Directed by David Yates, the film "is set several years after the events of Fantastic Beasts sequel The Crimes of Grindelwald, and watches as beloved wizard Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law) tasks magizoologist Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) and his allies with a mission, taking them into the heart of dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald's (Mads Mikkelsen) army," Deadline reported.
Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore was scripted by Rowling and Steve Kloves. The cast also includes Katherine Waterston, Dan Fogler, Alison Sudol, Ezra Miller, Callum Turner, William Nadylam, Poppy Corby-Tuech and Jessica Williams. 

Books & Authors

Awards: William C. Morris Finalists

The Young Adult Library Services Association, a division of the American Library Association, has announced five finalists for the 2022 William C. Morris Award, which honors the year’s best books written for young adults by a previously unpublished author. The winner will be named January 24 at the Youth Media Awards during the ALA’s virtual LibLearnX: The Library Learning Experience. The finalists are:

Ace of Spades by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé (Feiwei & Friends)
Firekeeper's Daughter by Angeline Boulley (Holt)
Vampires, Hearts, & Other Dead Things by Margie Fuston (Margaret K. McElderry Books)
Me (Moth) by Amber McBride (Feiwel & Friends)
What Beauty There Is by Cory Anderson (Roaring Brook Press)

Reading with... Mackenzi Lee

Mackenzi Lee holds a BA in history and an MFA from Simmons College in writing for children and young adults. She's the award-winning author of nine fiction and nonfiction books, including the bestselling Montague siblings series; the final book in the series, The Nobleman's Guide to Scandal and Shipwrecks, was just published by Katherine Tegen Books. Lee is also an independent bookseller and Diet Coke enthusiast.

On your nightstand now:

She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan. It's so huge and I am not usually a reader of long books so I'm working myself up to it. I also just finished the first book in the Green Bone Saga, Jade City by Fonda Lee, and the sequel, Jade War, is elbowing its way in front of every other book on my TBR.

Favorite book when you were a child:

Looking back on my childhood, I realize I was a voracious reader but not a very good reader. I liked being read to, whether by my dad or audiobook narrators, and I was easily scared off books that felt too hard or too long or pushed me. My favorite books as a kid were the Star Wars novels I got through the Scholastic Book Clubs, particularly those from the Jedi Apprentice series.  

Book you've faked reading:

I am a notorious faker, partly because in high school I refused to read anything assigned to me (I got very good at faking my way through essays and assignments and pop quizzes); and partly because, as an independent bookseller, a lot of people will assume you've read every book they find worth reading and will talk to you with that assumption. I do a lot of smiling and nodding and using the few things you remember from reading the jacket copy once.

Book you're an evangelist for:

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein. As a bookseller, I get to literally force books I love on people, and none comes up as often as Code Name Verity. I have unexpectedly teared up when handselling this book (I think the person bought it out of pity). I was once telling a customer about it and not only did they buy it, but two other people who overheard my pitch also bought it. I named my dog after a character in the book. It was my pick in a summer internship carpool group, and I strategically wore dark glasses and didn't wear makeup the day I knew we would get to that part. I will go to my grave raving about this book. "In lieu of flowers, please read Code Name Verity."

Book you've bought for the cover:

Yolk by Mary H.K. Choi. I have long admired her books from a distance because the covers are so pretty, but I didn't think they'd be quite my "thing." But Yolk turned out to be as beautiful as its cover, so I immediately went out and bought the others, too.

Book you hid from your parents:

The seventh Harry Potter book came out when I was a teenager, and my family agreed we would read it all together. I absolutely refused to wait, so each night, after our family reading of a few chapters, I would switch the dust jacket of Harry Potter 7 with another book and pretend I was taking this other book with me to bed. I finished Harry Potter 7 in three days, pretended to be shocked by every new development in the plot as my family read it aloud, then years later coughed up to the scheme. I was a good kid. My childhood rebellion was boring.

Book that changed your life:

Turtles All the Way Down by John Green and Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella both changed the way I think about my own brain. I shied away from reading books about mental illness for a long time because my understanding of my own mental illness was fragile enough that, if I read a book with a character who shared my diagnosis but didn't manifest symptoms in the same way, I'd often start to doubt myself and the validity of my own thoughts. But both these books were validating and made me feel like I had a better understanding of myself--and that I wasn't alone.

Which authors have you been introduced to this year?

Samantha Irby had been on my TBR forever, but I'm glad I waited to pick up Wow, No Thank You until this year because it came to me right when I needed a lift. And, after years of shelving Homegoing at the bookstore I work in, I read Yaa Gyasi's second book, Transcendent Kingdom, and have not stopped talking about it since.

Last book that made you cry?

I just read Kelly Loy Gilbert's newest book, When We Were Infinite, and remembered how emotional her books are. While that one didn't make me cry, I went back and reread Conviction. It's my third read of that book and I have absolutely bawled every single time.

Favorite line from a book:

"And it was still hot." --Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

When I was working on my MFA, I became obsessed with Maurice Sendak and Where the Wild Things Are. I love how it is both a complex book and story that became a lightning rod at the time of its publication because of the way it didn't shy away from the darkness that is often pervasive in children's lives but had previously been ignored by sunny, overly cheerful children's literature. But it's also barely 300 words of text. As someone who tends to overwrite, the simplicity of Wild Things inspires me. The way the entire story--about anger and forgiveness and the way our emotions, both as children and adults, can sometimes make us do terrible things but the way the people who love us will always welcome us back and forgive us--is encompassed in this one final line still stuns me.

Book you didn't expect to love:

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley because I'm "not a classics person" and War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy because I "don't like long books."

Book Review

Children's Review: Wutaryoo

Wutaryoo by Nilah Magruder (Clarion/HarperCollins, $17.99 hardcover, 48p., ages 4-7, 9780358172383, January 25, 2022)

Our origin stories do not always come wrapped up in neat packages. But as one unusual creature learns in this moving picture book, every one of us is worthy of a story, even if we have to write it ourselves.

Little Wutaryoo has a long, fluffy tail, big ears and little horns. She is the only one of her kind, and doesn't know her name. So when others ask "Wutaryoo?" and she doesn't know how to answer, she asks the question back. In this way, she learns her friends' origin stories. "In the beginning," the wren's ancestors (dinosaurs) were "as large as trees and ruled the world." Rabbit's people popped out of a hole the first gardener was digging. Wolf's forebears were born in moonlight. Wutaryoo worries that she has no story of her own. "What am I?" she asks herself. "Who are my people? Where did I come from?" Surely, she thinks, she has a story, too.

And so, like many wonderers and wanderers before her, Wutaryoo sets out on an epic geographic and personal quest to find herself. She walks, swims across oceans, climbs mountains and digs deep into the earth. When she comes to what she believes must be the beginning of the world, she thinks, "My story must be over that last hill." A story does wait beyond the hill, but it's not what she expects.

Nilah Magruder (How to Find a Fox; M.F.K.) approaches the idea of being a "cultural orphan" from the perspective of a Black American, someone whose family was brought in violence to North America so long ago that they no longer have ties to Africa. Although there are no indications that Wutaryoo has a similarly brutal history, and she meets only kindness at home and in her travels, she does share the experience of not knowing where she fits into her own landscape.

Magruder's digital illustrations are replete with cool purples, blues and grays. The sense of space is broad and deep, with natural features and friendly (though curious) characters populating foreground and background. Wutaryoo's bemused melancholy is lifted by her determination ("I will search far and wide," she says. "I will go all the way to the very beginning of the world if I have to"), and her body language reflects this mood as she proceeds with dogged resolve. Wutaryoo shows readers that identity is shaped not only by where we come from but by who we are right now. --Emilie Coulter, freelance writer and editor

Shelf Talker: In a soul-stirring and accessible picture book about identity, a one-of-a-kind creature learns that it's okay to create one's own origin story.

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