Shelf Awareness for Tuesday, January 18, 2022


Hachette: Public Affairs 25th Anniversary

St. Martin's Griffin: The Lost Witch by Paige Crutcher

Tordotcom: Leech by Hiron Ennes

Harper: The Mosquito Bowl: A Game of Life and Death in World War II by Buzz Bissinger

St. Martin's Press: Newsroom Confidential: Lessons (and Worries) from an Ink-Stained Life by Margaret Sullivan

St. Martin's Press: Althea: The Life of Tennis Champion Althea Gibson by Sally H. Jacobs

Del Rey Books: Luda by Grant Morrison

Berkley Books: Better Than Fiction by Alexa Martin

Quotation of the Day

Omicron Surge: 'It Feels Like Going Back to 2020 in a Lot of Ways'

"It feels like going back to 2020 in a lot of ways. I'm remembering now the exhaustion of having to constantly pivot and make new decisions and change up your business model but it's easier because we've been there before."

--Nicole Sullivan, owner of BookBar, Denver, Colo., in a Denver Post story about how businesses have been affected by the current Covid-19 surge. In BookBar's case, that has involved an outbreak among staff, shortened hours, the ending of indoor dining and requiring customers wear masks.

University of Notre Dame Press: An Inconvenient Apocalypse: Environmental Collapse, Climate Crisis, and the Fate of Humanity by Wes Jackson and Robert Jensen


News

Annie Bloom's Books, Portland, Ore., Changes Hands

Bobby Tichenor, owner and co-founder of Annie Bloom's Books in Portland, Ore., has sold the nearly 45-year-old bookstore to longtime employee Will Peters, who has been with the store since 1992.

Tichenor will remain onboard as a founder in a "semi-retired status," while Peters will take ownership of the store he "brilliantly managed for many years." He was a sales rep and bookseller in the Midwest prior to moving to Portland and joining the team at Annie Bloom's, where he became manager soon after.

"Our staff has been remarkably stable over the years," said Tichenor. A few "lovely new faces" have joined recently, and it is "a happy and knowledgeable group we are lucky to work with."


University of Minnesota Press: The Ski Jumpers by Peter Geye


Brown Sugar Cafe & Books, Katy, Tex., Vandalized

Brown Sugar Cafe & Books, a Black-owned bookstore and cafe that will open next month in Katy, Tex., was vandalized with racist graffiti over the weekend. Store owner Raven White told ABC13 she discovered the graffiti on Saturday, and it must have been spray-painted on the back wall of the building late Friday night or early Saturday morning.

"I rounded the corner and I was in complete shock," White said. "I was devastated."

The graffiti, which was quickly painted over, amounted to "thousands of dollars worth of damage" and included the name of a student at Thornton Middle School, located behind the school. While White doesn't know for certain if a student from the school wrote the graffiti, she did speak to the school's principal. She hopes to help the culprit rather than have them punished, and said she and the principal "agreed there are other things that we could do collectively as a community, with the middle school and the bookstore, that would just incite change."

"It actually is a hate crime that could have potentially come from a child," White said. "We need to have people in place to help our children and the community feel different than what they expressed on our back wall."

White's event plans for the store include programs for children, teens and adults that teach inclusivity and respect for other cultures. Though shocking, the graffiti confirms "that the programs that we have in place and being right here in this community, we are at the right place at the right time."

Brown Sugar Cafe & Books will sell fiction and nonfiction for all ages, with an emphasis on Black authors and voices. A life-long reader and youth literacy advocate, White decided to open a bookstore and cafe of her own after founding a successful tax business.


GLOW: Union Square & Co.: The Second Death of Edie and Violet Bond by Amanda Glaze


International Update: Booksellers Association Launches BA Learning, 'Brisk Festive Trading' in the U.K.

The Booksellers Association of the U.K. & Ireland has launched a learning and development project for booksellers called BA Learning, its first formal learning and development offering in more than 20 years. The initiative will bring all current development resources together in one place, BA Learning Skills Hub, including the BA's Practical Guides, recorded conference and events sessions, and work from the UCT Mentoring program and other strands. 

The platform will also feature new content and resources in a variety of formats. The BA is working with several partners to develop and launch the project. Along with this online content, the BA will fund a Bookshop Owners Coaching Program, drawing on a pilot with Retail Trust in 2021.
 
The project manager for BA Learning is Sheila O'Reilly, former owner of Dulwich Bookshop, previous BA Council Member and an Unwin Charitable Trust mentor, who is working with focus groups of booksellers to develop the project, supported by Ed Peppitt, a professional content creator and publishing consultant. The learning platform for the BA Learning project will be provided by the Independent Publishers' Guild Skills Hub, with bookseller resources hosted on the IPG's platform.
 
Meryl Halls, managing director of the Booksellers Association, said: "The purpose of BA Learning is to provide what bookshop owners--and their booksellers--need in order to be better bookshops and run effective businesses, and we will be working with booksellers throughout this project to ensure we're providing the right topics in the right format. I am genuinely excited that we are able to bring this project to the launchpad--it's been a long time coming, particularly with Covid-related delays, but we are ready now to work with our members and our partners to create a really valuable resource, at exactly the right moment for our members."
 
Andy Rossiter, president of the Booksellers Association, added: "The launch of BA Learning is an important moment for booksellers and I'm really pleased to see this happen during my Presidency. Booksellers are so mutually supportive and full of expertise and experience--it will be great to see the BA Learning Skills Hub become the go-to place to source all the resources we need to be better booksellers."
 
The BA plans to go live with BA Learning at the London Book Fair in April.

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Independent booksellers in the U.K. and Ireland experienced "healthy Christmas trading this year," with almost 60% of participants in the Bookseller's survey "saying trade was 'very good' compared to 2020. Some retailers were up by as much as 50%, while one retailer's sales were triple that of December 2020, attributed to being able to sell in-person this year and not being reliant on online sales. In a separate poll, the Booksellers Association found 58% were up on sales for 2021 as a whole, compared to 2020, with 29% saying they were 'up a lot' at Christmas."

Of the 41 participants in the Bookseller's annual survey, 58% of respondents reported "very good" Christmas sales compared to the previous year, with 15% saying trade was "excellent," 23% voting "average" and 5% recording "disappointing" results.

Of the 228 bookshops polled in the BA survey, 23% said foot traffic in bookshops was "up a lot," while only 11% said the same was true of their town centers as a whole. Almost 44% of the Bookseller's respondents reported increased foot traffic on the high street, though nearly 31% said it had remained the same as last year, despite 2020's Christmas lockdown.

Last year's Christmas trading survey "found lots of customers did one big shop and spent less time on the premises, owing to pandemic stress and lockdown measures," the Bookseller wrote. "By contrast, a number of this year's respondents suggested that they had seen a lower than average transactional value per customer, but with more frequent visits. However, the BA's survey found that for 34% of booksellers, customers' average transactional value was 'up a little'; it remained level for 29% of respondents, and was 'down a little' for 15% of those surveyed. For just 3% it was a down a lot."

The Bookseller's survey also noted that 56% of participants said problems with the supply chain meant certain titles--particularly reprints--were difficult to obtain, with many attributing this to ongoing paper shortages. Overall, however, publishers were praised for doing an "incredible job" keeping titles in stock. The survey found bookshop staff are entering 2022 "with a broadly positive outlook, though anxiety about Covid-19 variants and Brexit are widespread."

--- 

Organizers of the Bologna Children's Book Fair have confirmed the event will be held in person this year, March 21-24--coinciding with a Shanghai International Children's Book Fair--but will offer exhibitors a 100% refund if it has to be canceled again, the Bookseller reported. Organizers said strict health and safety measures will be in place and attendees will need to "ensure their vaccinations are up to date" to enter the fair.

"Italy is at the vanguard of Covid safety measures and our implementation is among the strictest at international level, with protocols that guarantee maximum efficacy," said Elena Pasoli, Bologna's exhibition manager, noting that the fair will follow the government's instructions "to the letter" and that organizers "really do not want" to cancel an in-person event again. 

She added that while it is too early to speak about potential attendance figures, there had been a "pleasing level of interest" thus far. "We know, through our ongoing dialogue with exhibitors, that there is continued enthusiasm to participate in this year's fair. It is too early, in this constantly changing global picture, to predict usefully the number of delegates. Watch this space." --Robert Gray


Del Rey Books: Luda by Grant Morrison


Obituary Note: Terry Teachout

Terry Teachout

Terry Teachout, a prolific author and cultural critic "who, in his columns for the Wall Street Journal, the Daily News and other publications, brought his all-encompassing intellect to bear on Broadway, ballet, bluegrass and practically every art form in between," died January 13, the New York Times reported. He was 65. 

Teachout "was one of a vanishing breed of cultural mavens: omnivorous, humane, worldly without being pretentious, often leaning conservative in their politics but wholly liberal in how they approached the world and its dizzying array of peoples and cultures," the Times noted. "He wore his erudition lightly, enjoying it and hoping that, through his prose, others might as well."

Describing himself as a "well-informed amateur" and an aesthete, Teachout wrote several well-regarded biographies, including The Skeptic: A Life of H.L. Mencken (2002); Pops: A Life of Louis Armstrong (2009); and Duke: A Life of Duke Ellington (2013). His other titles include Beyond the Boom: New Voices on American Life, Culture, and Politics (1990); City Limits: Memories of a Small-Town Boy (1991); A Terry Teachout Reader (2004); and All in the Dances: A Brief Life of George Balanchine (2004). His one-man, one-act play, Satchmo at the Waldorf, premiered in 2011 in Orlando, Fla. He also wrote the librettos for three operas, all by the composer Paul Moravec.

"The older I get and the more completely I immerse myself in all the arts, the more certain I am that there's a larger, more fundamental sense in which they all seek to do the same thing," he said in a 2004 interview. "This deep resemblance means that I understand myself to be applying the same sort of aesthetic yardstick to, say, a ballet and a movie."

In a tribute, NPR's Scott Simon wrote: "Terry and I became friends out of our shared love of musicals, especially Sondheim, Thornton Wilder, jazz, the Midwest, and, I guess, because we both chronicled the loss of loved ones.... As a critic, Terry was more admiring than acerbic. He laughed out loud in previews, where critics were supposed to be inscrutable, and would often write me after he saw a production--it could just as easily be in Oregon as off-Broadway--to say, 'You've got to go. They are amazing each night in front of just 50 people.' He used social media to be kind and make friends. Terry believed that truly great works didn't squish you in the face with speeches and polemics, but let an audience wander, discover, breathe and live in each other's skins for a while."

"A masterpiece doesn't push you around," Teachout wrote. "It lets you make up your own mind about what it means--and change it as often as you like."


G.P. Putnam's Sons: The Old Place by Bobby Finger


Notes

Image of the Day: Rep Lunch al Fresco

Boulder Book Store shared this photo of the store's buyers and marketing team enjoying a socially distanced, outdoor lunch ("In January! In Colorado!") with their Random House rep. Pictured (l. to r.): PRH's Emily Smolarek, Liesl Freudenstein, Brad Costa, Arsen Kashkashian, Stephanie Schindhelm.


Personnel Changes at Beacon Press

At Beacon Press:

Gayatri Patnaik has been promoted from associate director to publisher.

Sanj Kharbanda has been promoted from director, sales & marketing, to associate publisher.

Emily Powers has been promoted from marketing manager to senior marketing manager.

Christian Coleman has been promoted from associate digital marketing manager to digital marketing manager.

Priyanka Ray has been promoted from publicity assistant to assistant publicist.



Media and Movies

Media Heat: Brian Cox on Fresh Air, Colbert, Live with Kelly and Ryan

Today:
Good Morning America: Charity Morgan, author of Unbelievably Vegan: 100+ Life-Changing, Plant-Based Recipes: A Cookbook (Clarkson Potter, $29.99, 9780593232989).

Today Show: Valerie Bertinelli, author of Enough Already: Learning to Love the Way I Am Today (Harvest, $27, 9780358567363).

Fresh Air: Brian Cox, author of Putting the Rabbit in the Hat (Grand Central, $29, 9781538707296). He will also appear on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert and Live with Kelly and Ryan.

Tomorrow:
CBS This Morning: Kimberly Jones, author of How We Can Win: Race, History and Changing the Money Game That's Rigged (Holt, $23.99, 9781250805126).

Ellen: Monica Aldama, author of Full Out: Lessons in Life and Leadership from America's Favorite Coach (Gallery, $28, 9781982165918).

The Talk: Drew Barrymore, co-author of Rebel Homemaker: Food, Family, Life (Dutton, $30, 9780593184103).

Late Night with Seth Meyers: Huma Abedin, author of Both/And: A Life in Many Worlds (Scribner, $30, 9781501194801).


TV: The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey

Apple TV+ has released the premiere date and first-look images for its upcoming limited series The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey, based on Walter Mosley's novel and starring Samuel L. Jackson in the titular role. Deadline reported that the six-episode drama from Apple Studios will debut March 11.

The cast also includes Dominique Fishback, Cynthia Kaye McWilliams, Damon Gupton, Marsha Stephanie Blake, Walton Goggins and Omar Miller. The project, which is written and executive produced by Mosley, premieres with two episodes, after which new episodes drop weekly, every Friday.

In addition to Mosley and Jackson, The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey is executive produced by Mosley's producing partner Diane Houslin, Ramin Bahrani, Eli Selden and David Levine for Anonymous Content, and LaTanya Richardson.


Books & Authors

Awards: MWA Grand Master, Raven, Ellery Queen Winners

The Mystery Writers of America has announced the recipients of its special awards, which will be presented at the 75th Annual Edgar Awards Ceremony, scheduled to be held April 29.

The board chose Laurie R. King as the 2022 Grand Master, an award that acknowledges important contributions to the genre as well as for a body of work that is both significant and of consistent high quality. The recipient of the 2022 Raven Award, which recognizes outstanding achievement in the mystery field outside the realm of creative writing, is Lesa Holstine. And Juliet Grames will receive the Ellery Queen Award, which honors outstanding writing teams and outstanding people in the mystery-publishing industry.

MWA President Alafair Burke said about the Grand Master winner: "For more than a quarter century, King has entertained readers around the world with her writings, which range from historical fiction to contemporary police procedurals to gripping standalones and scores of anthology contributions. She is also a generous supporter of readers and fellow writers and a leader within the literary community. She exemplifies the excellence that defines the Grand Master Award, and we are delighted to recognize her achievements."

About Raven winner Lesa Holstine, a librarian, blogger, and book reviewer, MWA wrote: "Holstine has worked in public libraries since she was 16. For almost 50 years, she's shared her love of books, especially mysteries, with library patrons, and is presently the collections manager at the Evansville Vanderburgh Public Library in Evansville, Ind. She is in the 18th year of writing her award-winning blog, Lesa's Book Critiques, has been the blogger for Poisoned Pen Bookstore for over four years, and reviews mysteries for Mystery Readers' Journal and Library Journal, where she was named Reviewer of the Year in 2018. She has received the 2011 Arizona Library Association Outstanding Library Service Award and the David S. Thompson Special Service Memorial Award. She is a member of Sisters in Crime and serves on the Left Coast Crime Standing Committee."

Ellery Queen winner Juliet Grames is senior v-p, associate publisher at Soho Press, where she has curated the award-winning Soho Crime imprint since 2011. Her debut novel, The Seven or Eight Deaths of Stella Fortuna, was published by Ecco/HarperCollins and has been translated into 10 languages.


Book Review

Review: Pandora's Jar: Women in the Greek Myths

Pandora's Jar: Women in the Greek Myths by Natalie Haynes (Harper Perennial, $17.99 paperback, 320p., 9780063139466, March 1, 2022)

Classicist Natalie Haynes (The Furies; A Thousand Ships) brings her prodigious expertise to Pandora's Jar: Women in the Greek Myths, a thorough consideration of the perspectives, reputations and visibility of some of ancient Greece's most famous female characters. The title refers to the first correction Haynes offers: rather than the mythic Pandora's box, Pandora in the original Greek opened a jar, which is only the first of several misconceptions. Not that there will ever be an authoritative version: even Homer, Haynes reminds us, drew on earlier sources. Myths "operate in at least two timelines: the one in which they are ostensibly set, and the one in which any particular version is written," and Haynes has a firm grasp of numerous iterations. In her capable hands, Pandora and others appear as multifaceted, complex characters, even across conflicting accounts. Best of all, despite its impressive depth of research, Pandora's Jar is never dry, and frequently great fun.

After the opening chapter's title character, Haynes introduces readers to Jocasta, Helen, Medusa, the Amazons, Clytemnestra, Eurydice, Phaedra, Medea and finally Penelope. Readers unfamiliar with their stories are guided through the relevant versions. These myths involve traumas of marriage, motherhood, rape and betrayal; their themes are serious and unforgiving. Perhaps surprisingly, some of the misogyny and erasure that Pandora, the Amazons, Eurydice and others have experienced have surprisingly modern origins. "Not for the first time, we see that an accurate translation has been sacrificed in the pursuit of making women less alarming (and less impressive) in English than they were in Greek." Among Haynes's subjects, "some have been painted as villains (Clytemnestra, Medea), some as victims (Eurydice, Penelope), some have been literally monstered (Medusa)," but each contains depths: "Medusa is--and always has been--the monster who would save us."

Haynes's authorial voice is remarkable: expressive, nuanced, impassioned. Her tone is absolutely accessible, even conversational, and often laugh-out-loud hilarious. Haynes (also a stand-up comic) is as well versed in the modern world and its concerns as in the ancients. The book opens with 1981's Clash of the Titans, and refers to Beyonce and Wonder Woman with the same ease and mastery as it does Homer, Ovid, Euripides, Aristotle, Aeschylus and many more ancients and more recent writers. Haynes's assessments of the visual arts (from ancient pottery through Renaissance paintings to modern television and movies) offer another dimension in this meticulous study.

The classics are as relevant, subversive and entertaining as ever in this brilliant piece of work. Clever, moving, expert, Pandora's Jar is a gem, equally for the serious fan or scholar of Greek myth, for the feminist or for the reader simply absorbed by fine storytelling across time and geography. --Julia Kastner, librarian and blogger at pagesofjulia

Shelf Talker: This classicist's reconsideration of famous Greek myths from various female perspectives combines cultural and literary criticism, humor and wit.


The Bestsellers

Top-Selling Self-Published Titles

The bestselling self-published books last week as compiled by IndieReader.com:

1. Shielding Sierra by Susan Stoker
2. The Girl in the Mist by Kristen Ashley
3. Only One Mistake by Natasha Madison
4. Can't Hurt Me by David Goggins
5. Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert T. Kiyosaki with Sharon L. Lechter
6. The Summer Proposal by Vi Keeland
7. Ashes by Chelle Bliss
8. Nobody Knows Anything by Robert Moriarty
9. Miss Dignified by Grace Burrowes
10. Believe by Cassandra House

[Many thanks to IndieReader.com!]


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