Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, September 20, 2023

Harper Voyager: Dragon Rider (Soulbound Saga #1) by Taran Matharu

Albatros Media: Words about Where: Let's Learn Prepositions by Magda Gargulakova, illustrated by Marie Urbankova

Blackstone Publishing: Ordinary Bear by C.B. Bernard

St. Martin's Griffin: One Last Shot by Betty Cayouette

Flatiron Books: Anita de Monte Laughs Last by Xochitl Gonzalez

Page Street YA: The Final Curse of Ophelia Cray by Christine Calella


AAP Sales: Down 10.9% in July; Off 0.9% Year to Date

Total net book sales in July in the U.S. fell 10.9%, to $902.6 million, compared to July 2022, representing sales of 1,233 publishers and distributed clients as reported to the Association of American Publishers. For the first seven months of the year, total net book sales are down 0.9%, to $6.55 billion.

In July, trade revenues fell 5.9%, to $599.1 million. In trade print, hardcovers slipped 1.6%, to $165.8 million; paperbacks were down 11.9%, to $232.1 million; mass market fell 31.3%, to $10.2 million; and special binding dropped 3.5%, to $16 million. E-books sales rose 2.3%, to $83.7 million.

Sales by category in July 2023 compared to July 2022:

HarperOne: Be a Revolution: How Everyday People Are Fighting Oppression and Changing the World--And How You Can, Too by Ijeoma Oluo

Werner Books & Coffee, Erie, Pa., Expands with Move to Nearby Storefront

Werner Books & Coffee, which sells new and used books in Erie, Pa., held a grand re-opening celebration last weekend after moving "south a few storefronts in the Liberty Plaza, which has allowed them to expand to include a cafe and plenty of space for browsing and gathering," Erie Reader reported. The business moved from 3514 Liberty St. to 3608 Liberty St.

Co-owners Kyle Churman and Lauren Shoemaker, who purchased the bookstore from Gayle Werner in 2022, "have worked tirelessly in the past few weeks to pack up and move the entire contents of their bookstore south a short walk. In doing so they've added a significant amount of space (approximately double) which allows room for plenty of cozy nooks for gathering, working, and reading, an expanded children's area with a chalkboard wall encouraging creativity (and conveniently occupying tiny minds, allowing parents a moment to browse the ample bookshelves), as well as a fully stocked, fully staffed cafe serving locally roasted coffees, teas, lemonades, and pastries," Erie Now wrote. 

At 5,800 square feet, the new space is twice the size of the old one, the Erie Times-News reported, adding that while Churman said the expansion will allow for an expanded inventory, he is most excited about having breathing room between shelves as well as space for people who want to use the store for book club meetings, to work or to gather.

"We are going to have the coziest spot in town to talk about books," he said, adding that they had no expansion plans when they originally purchased the store. "My plan was to run it." But Werner, who had opened the store in 2010, "told us to make it our own.... The time was right for us to do this," he said. "This gives us opportunity that we can grow a little more."

Last Thursday, Churman, his employees and volunteers were still moving books to the new space, where Werner was helping out by arranging romance novels. "I have done this a few times," she said. "I know what this is like. It's daunting." She added that she was pleased with the expansion: "I'm excited for them. But I'm glad I can walk away and not work until midnight."

Harpervia: Behind You Is the Sea by Susan Muaddi Darraj

All She Wrote Books, Somerville, Mass., Launches Fundraising Campaign

All She Wrote's current location.

All She Wrote Books, Somerville, Mass., which is being displaced from its current storefront in the next few weeks, has launched a fundraising campaign with the goal of raising $60,000 before the store's lease ends October 15. As of this morning, it's raised more than $17,000.

"For the past three years, this iconic, LGBTQIA+ owned business has provided a safe and creative environment for folks of all backgrounds," the bookseller noted. "However, in the past two years, rent has increased 130%. There have been countless financial burdens that equate to about $8,000. That amount doesn't include rent, utilities, or the devastation of being unrooted from a community because there's a lack of dollar signs. Because of all this, All She Wrote Books is moving to a new space in East Somerville and rallying the community for help."

Funds from the campaign "will help turn this new location into a home with updated bookshelves, a checkout counter, accessibility features, as well the ability to pay our staff a fair wage during this transitional period." 

"All She Wrote Books is more than just a feminist/queer independent bookstore," said owner Christina Pascucci-Ciampa. "When I think of the words 'intersectional,' 'feminist,' 'queer' that are in our mission statement--I think of them as guiding lights for those who are not only actively seeking queer/feminist spaces out like ours, but for those who want more spaces like ours in the world. And we need more spaces like ours like never before."

At Hachette, Alison Lazarus Retiring; Lauren Monaco to Head Sales

Alison Lazarus

At Hachette Book Group, Alison Lazarus, executive v-p, director of sales, is retiring and will leave the company next month. She joined Hachette in 2018 after having been president of the sales division at Macmillan for more than 20 years. Earlier she held executive sales positions at Random House, including v-p of adult trade sales. After October 27, she may be reached at

At the same time, Lauren Monaco, senior v-p, group sales director of the Penguin and Knopf Doubleday Publishing Groups, is joining Hachette October 2 as executive v-p, director of sales. Monaco has held sales and business development roles at Penguin Random House for 11 years and earlier at Simon & Schuster for 16 years.

Hachette Book Group CEO Michael Pietsch said, "It's difficult to fathom how much Alison Lazarus has achieved in just five years at Hachette Book Group. She has driven improvements that have made our sales organization the strongest it's ever been, making the close partnership between sales and publishing that is central to HBG ever more dynamic. She expanded our collaboration with digital, chain, and independent booksellers, capitalized on our unique product mix through close work with mass merchants and special and gift accounts, and constantly improved the real-time reporting available through our analytics group. She expanded our digital and audio selling teams, took on oversight of our subsidiary rights group, created the author brands team, and welcomed Workman's sales force into HBG's. Alison has been a bold and substantial contributor to our executive management board's important discussions over the past five years. I've enjoyed working with her enormously and will miss her deeply, as I know all our colleagues and partners will. I trust that she'll enjoy the adventures, family time, and relaxation ahead."

Lazarus commented: "I have been so fortunate in my career in publishing--in finding an industry that I love. Over my 40-plus years I have seen seismic changes, met so many wonderful booksellers and authors, been involved with incredible, iconic books, and worked with amazing, intelligent, committed, and creative colleagues. Every day was interesting and challenging, and I was always learning something new. My last five years at Hachette have been a perfect finale, and I have been privileged to be part of the company and to have worked with the Hachette team who I have so much admiration and respect for. Among many things, I am looking forward to having more time to travel, spending more time with my family, pursuing hobbies and volunteer work, and, of course, getting to my TBR list."

Lauren Monaco

Pietsch called Monaco "a warm, creative, experienced, and highly motivated sales executive whose capabilities line up perfectly with Hachette's strategic goals and the marketplace we encounter today. I'm excited to see how she will bring our sales and publishing teams even closer together as we grow our sales, improve our operations, and broaden our authors' reach in this time of rapid change. I know our enormously talented sales team will continue to thrive under Lauren's leadership.... I'm grateful to Alison for agreeing to stay on through October to work closely with Lauren and the sales team and ensure a full transfer of knowledge."

Monaco commented: "I am thrilled to join the Hachette team and am excited to continue Alison's path to strengthen our partnerships and drive success at Hachette with this talented and motivated sales team. I look forward to leveraging my publishing experience, building on this strong foundation, capitalizing on new opportunities, and charting a path of sustained success."

Obituary Note: Steven Temple

Renowned Canadian bookseller Steven Temple, who served as president of the Antiquarian Booksellers' Association of Canada (2000-2002) and general secretary of the International League of Antiquarian Booksellers (2002-2006), died September 7. He was 76. From 1974 to 2014, his bookshop, Steven Temple Books, operated from a storefront on Queen Street West in Toronto. After closing the physical store, he moved to Welland, Ont., where he continued his business online.  

ABAC noted his passing "with deep sorrow," adding: "Long a stalwart member of our association, he will be missed by us all. For those of you who never met him (and for those who did), Steve was a consummate bookseller--his was the last holdout of the many open shops that once populated Toronto's Queen Street West. He especially loved Canadiana and Canadian editions, the rarer and quirkier the better. The depth of his knowledge and his willingness to share it will be a loss to us all. A little gruff and grumpy, but with a quick wit and that smile and signature laugh when amused, Steve was a valued colleague and friend."

ILAB shared tributes from some of his former colleagues, including Arnoud Gerits, ILAB president of honor, who said, "Steven was a very nice man and I greatly enjoyed my years with him on the committee. He was devoted to his work as secretary: we once had a meeting as a committee at Bob Fleck's house/shop. Steven's luggage had not been delivered with his flight, and his flight was also delayed. He arrived late, by taxi, without anything but the clothes he was wearing, but, as he said, I've got work to do!"

ILAB president of honor Adrian Harrington observed: "I was around while Steven was on committee and subsequently secretary. I also used to visit his shop in Toronto. He was a kind, diligent and calming influence and a true gentleman. He was also good company and will be missed by all who knew him."

"Steven was at the forefront of that generation of Toronto rare book sellers that came to prominence in the 1970s and 80s," said Matt Doyle. "Many Canadian institutional libraries benefited from rare items he was able to acquire and place in their collections. Steve would remember your collecting interests and an occasional email from him would arrive quoting items that you would never think you would see. Always enjoyed chatting with him on a range of topics outside of just books. Sorry to hear of his passing and condolences to his family."


Image of the Day: PNBA Kicks Off in Portland, Ore.

The Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association Tradeshow, taking place this week on the Columbia River in Portland, Ore., began with an author brunch celebrating upcoming books by authors based in the region. Authors featured (l.-r.): Nasuġraq Rainey Hopson (Eagle Drums, Roaring Brook Press); Lisa Brideau (Adrift, Sourcebooks Landmark); Mary Rechner (Marrying Friends, Propeller Books); Lydia Kiesling (Mobility, Crooked Media Reads); Susan Lieu (The Manicurist's Daughter: A Memoir, Celadon Books); Simone Gorrindo (The Wives, Scout Press); David Nikki Crouse (I'm Here: Alaska Stories, Boreal Books/Red Hen Press); Deke Moulton (Don't Want to Be Your Monster, Tundra Books); Cassandra Newbould (Things I'll Never Say, Peachtree Teen); and Hanif Fazal (An Other World, Page Two/Macmillan). --Dave Wheeler

Celebrating John Sargent--and His Memoir, Turning Pages

(photo: Matt Baldacci)

Last night more than 100 people celebrated John Sargent, longtime former CEO of Macmillan, and his memoir, Turning Pages: The Adventures and Misadventures of a Publisher (Arcade), a fascinating account both of his early life and highlights of his career, including standing up to Amazon. The setting was in Manhattan at Indochine, a classic publishing party venue. Characteristically, Sargent gave a brief speech in which he thanked everyone and said the party was for them.

Oprah's Book Club Pick: Wellness

Oprah Winfrey has chosen Wellness by Nathan Hill (Knopf) as her 102nd Oprah's Book Club pick. "It is a modern take on love, marriage, and society's obsession on improving almost every aspect of our lives," Winfrey said, adding: "You're about to be taken for an incredible ride."

Winfrey originally broke the news to the author by arranging with Knopf "to pop up during a Zoom meeting and tell Hill that she had chosen his novel Wellness, a sweeping, 600-page narrative about an embattled married couple in Chicago," the Associated Press reported. In the video, "Hill is chatting with his publicist at Knopf about anticipation and promotion for Wellness, which comes out this week. A new box suddenly appears and there is Winfrey, holding Hill's novel in front of her. 'I have an idea, why not choose it for Oprah's book club?' she says."

"You're kidding," Hill responds.

"What. A. Book!" Winfrey replies. "You are an incredible writer for our times, what you are able to do with language, with your words. It's so powerful, so moving."

Hill said later: "Having Oprah Winfrey crash a Zoom meeting to tell me she'd picked my novel for her book club will go down as the greatest--and most surreal--shock of my life. Thank you to Oprah for this amazing honor, and for championing authors for so many years. Her book club has been such a gift to readers, and includes some of my own literary idols. To be in such company is both humbling and heart-swelling."

Bookseller Moment: The Booksmiths Shoppe

"You may think we're small, out of the way, in the middle of nowhere... BUT there's an entire world inside these walls. Shop local, shop small, you'll find another universe inside The Summit. 'The summit is what drives us, but the climb itself is what matters.' --Conrad," the Booksmiths Shoppe, Danbury, Conn., posted on Instagram.

Personnel Changes at Diamond Comic Distributors

Ryan Shelkett has joined Diamond Comic Distributors as executive director of vendor development, focusing on toys and merchandise. He had been at Bandai America for seven years, most recently as director of sales, mass and digital. From 2007 to 2016, he worked at Diamond Comic Distributors.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Joe Posnanski on CBS Mornings

CBS Mornings: Joe Posnanski, author of Why We Love Baseball: A History in 50 Moments (Dutton, $29, 9780593472675).

Good Morning America: Dale Earnhardt Jr., author of Buster Gets Back on Track (Tommy Nelson, $18.99, 9781400233373). He will also appear on the Today Show.

The Sherri Shepherd Show: Leslie Jones, author of Leslie F*cking Jones (Grand Central, $30, 9781538706497).

The View: José Andrés, author of The World Central Kitchen Cookbook: Feeding Humanity, Feeding Hope (Clarkson Potter, $35, 9780593579077).

John Waters Gets Hollywood Walk of Fame Star Near Larry Edmunds Bookshop

Legendary filmmaker John Waters was honored Monday with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, just in front of Larry Edmunds Bookshop. In his opening remarks, Hollywood Chamber of Commerce president and CEO Steve Nissen noted that "we're in front of an amazing, historic bookstore, Larry Edmunds, which by far has the greatest collection of Hollywood books and scripts and memorabilia that any bookstore in the world has and we'd like to thank Jeff Mantor and the whole team at Larry Edmunds Bookshop for their help today."

In his acceptance speech, Waters said, "This star is at the perfect location, Larry Edmunds Bookshop. I've been coming here for half a century, and it's still my favorite spot on Hollywood Boulevard."

Larry Edmunds Bookshop posted: "For once, a happy 'Dear John' letter. Thank you John Waters for being a voice for so many. I am so proud the lobbying and campaigning for your star resulted in it being placed right in front of my front door! Your independent spirit & kindness are examples to strive for. Congratulations my friend on your well deserved honor, you're out front forever now, we did it! Welcome to Mister Waters Neighborhood! Love, The Lare."

Books & Authors

Awards: Stephen Leacock Humor, Klaus Flugge Winners

Wayne Johnston won the C$25,000 (about US$18,595) Stephen Leacock Medal for Humor, which honors "the best Canadian book of literary humor published in the previous year," for his memoir, Jennie's Boy: A Newfoundland Childhood. The runners-up, who each received C$4,000 (about US$2,975), were Susan Juby for Mindful of Murder and Zarqa Nawaz for Jameela Green Ruins Everything.


Mariajo Ilustrajo won the £5,000 (about $6,195) Klaus Flugge Prize, which recognizes the "most exciting and promising newcomer to children's picture book illustration," for Flooded. The judges described the winning book as fresh and beautifully drawn, and full of playfulness even as it delivers an important message.

Judge Lydia Monks praised the "sophistication and competence displayed... exceptional for someone so new to publishing. I'm excited to follow her career." Judge Joseph Namara Hollis said that the book "has it all! It absorbs you into a world teeming with life. The character details are captivating, drawing you closer. Each page is dynamic with plenty to discover as the drama unfolds. And whilst it is a fun story, it delivers an important message with warmth and humor. This is a book to enjoy again and again."

Ilustrajo commented: "It's difficult to describe with words the joy of winning this prestigious prize. I've been an illustrator for a long time but becoming a children's book illustrator and author seemed like just a dream. This recognition makes me feel that I'm heading in the right direction and encourages me to keep exploring new ways of creating new stories. I am 'flooded' with happiness and proud to know my book touched the Klaus Flugge Prize judges amongst such an amazing shortlist."

Chair of the judges Julia Eccleshare observed: "Picture book illustration is in a robust state of health and the submissions for this year's Klaus Flugge Prize were very strong. Our five shortlisted illustrators have enormous technical skill as well as an exceptional understanding of how illustration carries story and meaning. Huge congratulations to Mariajo on winning this year's Klaus Flugge Prize; Flooded is a book that speaks both to now and of universal themes."

Reading with... Matt Mendez

photo: Chris Summitt

Matt Mendez is the author of Barely Missing Everything, and the short story collection Twitching Heart. Like many of his characters, Mendez grew up in El Paso, Tex., and continues to live in the Southwest, now in Tucson, Ariz. He is a military veteran and earned his MFA from the University of Arizona, where he has taught creative writing. The Broke Hearts, his follow-up to Barely Missing Everything, will be published by Caitlyn Dlouhy Books on October 3, 2023.

Handsell readers your book in 25 words or less:

The Broke Hearts is about fathers and sons. Friends and growing up. Art. How life can sometimes be like a lotería card. El Valiente. El Mundo. El Corazón.

On your nightstand now:

My nightstand is ridiculous--I don't even have a clock on it anymore.

Nightcrawling by Leila Mottley. It's hard to go to sleep after reading this. The energy of this book. My goodness.

Borderless by Jennifer De Leon. I loved her first novel, Don't Ask Me Where I'm From, and can't wait to read her newest, Borderless, about a young woman forced to cross the border.

You Never Get It Back by Cara Blue Adams. Adams is a master short story writer, and this linked collection deals with class, ambition, and--most of all--place. 

Witches by Brenda Lozano. I read a review of Witches remarking on its multiple points of view--a thing I can't get enough of in fiction--and was sold! Also, the cover is just amazing. 

And The Golden Frog Games by Claribel A. Ortega. My daughters and I were huge fans of Witchlings! We are excited to read this sequel together. 

Favorite book when you were a child:

I didn't fall in love with books until I was an adult. The only book I remember reading as a kid (and actually liking) was Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird.  

Your top five authors:

Manuel Muñoz (who writes the way I wish I could)
Angie Cruz (who creates character like I wish I could)
Kelly Barnhill (a master of the epic and the delicate)
Louise Erdrich (who is funny and honest and true)
Jason Reynolds (who writes with so much wisdom, care, and tenderness).  

Book you've faked reading:

Almost everything assigned in back-in-the-day high school lit classes (George Orwell's 1984, Aldous Huxley's A Brave New World, John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath, etc.).

Book you're an evangelist for:

Gabi, a Girl in Pieces by Isabel Quintero. I have bought and given this book away multiple times. The voice and inventiveness of this novel always blows me away. It is one of the most alive books I've ever read. 

Book you've bought for the cover:

Signs Preceding the End of the World by Yuri Herrera. The cover is mostly black, a midnight image of a mountain range spiked with saguaro cactus, and the title of the book is centered inside a full moon. The image is ghostly and matches what turns out to be a haunting book about the Mexican/American border. 

Book you hid from your parents:

Every single math book, just in case they wanted me to read them.

Book that changed your life:

The House on Mango Street. Reading Sandra Cisneros's novel was the first time I ever felt like my world existed inside of a book.

Favorite line from a book:

"You want to tell a story? Grow a heart. Grow two. Now, with the second heart, smash the first one into bits." --Charles Yu, How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe

I began The Broke Hearts with this epigraph, which I think shows how relevant it is to me and my work. All stories need heart, as do their writers. The bigger the better.

Five books you'll never part with:

The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros. This book was my first love. I read it in college and had never identified with a book before. 

The People of Paper by Salvador Plascencia. This novel is wild. There is war against sadness. A baby Nostradamus. A girl with a lime addiction. This book is a reminder that a story can be everything. 

Dominicana by Angie Cruz. Ana Cancion is a character I still think about. Cruz's novel has the exact kind of impact I'm looking for in a book, in any kind of story. One where I feel changed at the end. 

The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien. Funny and absurd, brutal and beautiful. The best book about war I've ever read. 

Century of the Wind (third in the Memory of Fire trilogy) by Eduardo Galeano. This Latin American history written in short, lyrical vignettes is astounding on every page, capturing the horrors and splendor of the Americas, from creation myths to the Reagan '80s. I go back to it all the time.

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

There There by Tommy Orange. The writing and construction of this book is amazing. It is so confident and subtle; everything comes together in such a powerful way. Reading it for the first time was a joy.

Book Review

YA Review: The Search for Us

The Search for Us by Susan Azim Boyer (Wednesday Books, $21 hardcover, 304p., ages 12-up, 9781250833709, October 24, 2023)

The Search for Us by Susan Azim Boyer (Jasmine Zumideh Needs a Win) is a moving, hopeful YA contemporary novel about two half siblings who grew up never knowing the other existed, and their search for their absent father.

Seventeen-year-old Samira Murphy is a self-proclaimed "overfunctioner"--she fixes everything around her, including guiding her grandmother in managing their household finances and helping her older brother, Kamron, stick with AA. When Kamron gets a DUI, Samira must figure out how she's going to pay for both college and Kamron's residential recovery program. If only their "deadbeat" dad hadn't left them when they were younger. At her wit's end, Samira decides to take a genetic test to find her father and collect what she and her brother are owed. 

Henry Owen's bio-dad "never took responsibility" for him, and his bio-mom struggled raising him on her own, so his aunt and uncle took over as legal guardians. Now 17, Henry plays referee between his "parents" and his mom, and wonders what his life would've been like if his dad had never left--maybe he'd have a deeper connection to his Iranian heritage. Henry takes a DNA test, hoping that he'll match with his father. Instead, the test shows that Henry's closest possible match is a sibling--Samira. Together, they search for their absent father and in the process form a deep connection that helps them become better versions of themselves. 

Boyer's thoughtful story about complex family dynamics is made even more powerful by Samira's and Henry's dual narration. Boyer takes her time telling their shared story; Samira and Henry don't meet face-to-face for some 150 pages. But this buildup to their meeting allows space for Boyer to provide insight into how their father's absence has affected each of them, and why it's so important that they find him. Whether it's Samira's anxiety manifesting as itchy "invisible mosquitos" that can be quelled only by copious amounts of Benadryl, or Henry's depression as a "haze of nothingness" with a "red core of anger" at its center, Boyer deftly shows that the repercussions of their father's absence can be felt in their daily lives, especially in their lack of a relationship with their Iranian culture.

Boyer handles such heavy themes as absent parents, cultural repression, and substance abuse with sensitivity and humor, making this heartwarming, illuminating story about siblings and identity a well-crafted, engaging one. --Lana Barnes, freelance reviewer and proofreader

Shelf Talker: Two half siblings who grew up never knowing the other existed team up to search for their absent father in this heartwarming, illuminating YA contemporary novel.

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