Also published on this date: Monday February 5, 2024: Maximum Shelf: Ocean's Godori

Shelf Awareness for Monday, February 5, 2024

Flatiron Books: The Courting of Bristol Keats: [Limited Stenciled Edge Edition] by Mary E Pearson

Forge: My Three Dogs by Bruce W Cameron

Running Press Adult: Scam Goddess: Lessons from a Life of Cons, Grifts, and Schemes by Laci Mosley

Chronicle Books: Taste in Music: Eating on Tour with Indie Musicians by Luke Pyenson and Alex Beeker

Doubleday Books: Death at the Sign of the Rook: A Jackson Brodie Book by Kate Atkinson

Groundwood Books: Who We Are in Real Life by Victoria Koops

Agate Bolden: 54 Miles by Leonard Pitts Jr.


Harvard Book Store Cancels Pru Project

Harvard Book Store, Cambridge, Mass., has dropped plans to open a 29,000-square-feet branch in the Prudential Center in Boston, in a space that Barnes & Noble occupied for several decades. Harvard Book Store had announced the project soon after B&N's closing in 2022 and soon after John W. Henry, principal owner of the Boston Red Sox, the Boston Globe, the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Liverpool Premier League soccer team and other ventures, and his wife, Linda Henry, became investors in the bookstore.

In a letter to customers, Harvard Book Store said, "Despite exploring all available options, the lingering effects of the pandemic have continued to create considerable challenges for construction projects of this size and scope. With ongoing disruptions to the supply chain and escalating costs, our ambitious 29,000-square-foot expansion would ultimately prove unsustainable." The new store would have been five times the size of the Cambridge store.

The store plans to focus on "updates at our flagship location in Harvard Square, projects we have been planning in parallel with the Prudential store. Our goal is to enhance the in-store experience, while continuing to enrich our commitment to customer service, our flourishing author event series, and our excellent inventory."

The store noted that "while we are disappointed in this outcome, we are grateful to the many talented and creative individuals who worked with us along the way. Most of all, we're grateful to the literary community of Boston who have expressed so much support in anticipation of a second Harvard Book Store location." The store also thanked "our partners, John and Linda Henry, whose continuing support for our bookstore makes these projects possible."

Jeff Mayersohn, who in 2008 bought the store with his wife, Linda Seamonson, told the Boston Globe that store sales had recently returned to "where we were prior to the pandemic," thanks to a growing number of customers and hundreds of events and author readings last year.

And Linda Henry, CEO of the Globe, told the newspaper that the couple is "continuing to invest in Harvard Book Store to ensure that it remains a thriving, sustainable hub for readers, writers, and community voices. Like the Globe, Harvard Book Store serves an important civic role. Just as local, independent journalism is vital to our region and our democracy, local independent bookstores are important cultural pillars in our community."

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Controlling Shareholder Wants to Take Indigo Books & Music Private

Indigo Books & Music has received a proposal to take the retailer private from a pair of companies owned by controlling shareholder Gerald Schwartz, who sits on Indigo's board of directors and is the spouse of Indigo founder and CEO Heather Reisman, the Financial Post reported. Reisman was replaced as CEO in the fall of 2022, only to return to the position last September following the sudden resignation of Peter Ruis.

The non-binding proposal from Trilogy Retail Holdings and Trilogy Investments would involve the purchase of all issued and outstanding shares of Indigo it does not already own for C$2.25 (about US$1.67) in cash per common share. The two companies already own 56% of the company, and another 4.6% belongs to Reisman through a different holding company. Trilogy said the offer represents a 50% premium over Indigo's closing price on the last day of January, and the company is not interested in selling any of its shares.

Indigo spokesperson Madison Downey told the Canadian Press (via Rocky Mountain Outlook) that the Indigo board has established a special committee of independent directors to evaluate the proposal and "any viable alternatives that may be available to the company."

A financial analyst who still covers Indigo called Schwartz's offer "wholly inadequate" in a note quoted by the Financial Post. "We remind investors that Mr. Schwartz was buying stock previously from November 2017 to March 2018 at prices ranging from $18-$20," David McFadgen of Cormark Securities wrote. "Has the business deteriorated so much that it can never be turned around to warrant an offer of only $2.25 a share?"

McFadgen added that Schwartz's offer attributes "little or no value to the brand" or to the company's lease portfolio and that Indigo could improve margins and may be improving its "cost structure."

On the other hand, Richard Leblanc, a professor of governance, law and ethics at York University in Toronto, said that going private would allow Indigo to work without "onerous" auditing, compliance and disclosure and committee and board structure requirements of the Toronto Stock Exchange. He told the Canadian Press that "the rationale [for the privatization offer] is not to be saddled with public reporting responsibilities because Indigo has been through a lot."

Earlier this year, Indigo announced layoffs as part of its ongoing efforts to improve operations, the Financial Post wrote, noting that Indigo "has seen several quarters of financial losses as well as a number of changes to its executive and board of directors over the last year." It also suffered a severe cyberattack last year.

Most recently, the company reported a net loss of C$22.4 million (about US$16.6 million) in its second quarter. Shares in Indigo closed last Thursday down 1.33% at C$1.48 (about US$1.10). The stock price's 52-week high was C$2.60 (about US$1.93) on October 4.

IPG Reorganizes Global Management Team

Independent Publishers Group has reorganized its global management team:

Tim McCall has been appointed v-p of sales and will lead the company's U.S. sales team and manage IPG's Barnes & Noble account. He was formerly director of trade sales at Baker & Taylor Publisher Services and has held sales and marketing positions at Penguin, Melville House, and R.R. Donnelly.

In his expanded role as v-p of international trade sales, Scott Hatfill will lead an initiative to establish domestic U.K. trade accounts. In addition to his sales responsibilities, Hatfill will collaborate with IPG's business development team to open new international distribution channels and sign new publishers.

IPG's U.K. head of sales Michelle Zappa and the domestic U.K. sales team will continue to lead academic and professional sales in the U.K., Europe, and the rest of the world (excluding the U.S.) through IPG's Eurospan program.

IPG's v-p of business management Mark Noble, who served as v-p of operations for more than a decade, will oversee the department again as part of an expanded interim role.

Clark Matthews has been appointed to oversee IPG's Chicago warehouse and the digital print team while continuing to serve as the v-p, general manager, Book Manufacturing and Distribution Center Services.

Brooke O'Donnell has been promoted to senior v-p of international business development, where she will continue to sign publishers to IPG's Trafalgar Square Publishing and Spanish language programs.

Sidney Thompson has been promoted to business development manager, and will track IPG's pipeline of new business, draft and review contracts and provide a point of contact for IPG's publishers.

Obituary Note: Anne Edwards

Anne Edwards, "a prodigious and peripatetic author who published bestselling books about the actresses Vivien Leigh and Katharine Hepburn as well as 14 other celebrity biographies, eight novels, three children's books, two memoirs and one autobiography," died January 20, the New York Times reported. She was 96.

A child performer on radio and the stage, Edwards sold her first screenplay in 1949, when she was 22 (the movie Quantez, released in 1957); her first novel (The Survivors) in 1968; and her first biography (of Judy Garland) in 1975. Her Vivien Leigh: A Biography (1977) spent 19 weeks on the Times's hardcover bestseller list.

Known as the "Queen of Biography," Edwards also wrote biographies of, among others, Sonya Tolstoy, Maria Callas, Ronald Reagan, Barbra Streisand, and Diana, Princess of Wales. Her novels included Haunted Summer (1974), about the author Mary Shelley and the poet Lord Byron, which was adapted into a film in 1988.

Her family moved to California in the late 1930s at the invitation of an uncle, Dave Chasen, a comedian whose West Hollywood restaurant, Chasen's, drew celebrities. Edwards appeared onstage in children's acting, singing, and dancing ensembles and tap-danced on radio, but, as she wrote in her autobiography, Leaving Home (2012), "My dream was never to be a star (or even a supporting player) but to write."

Her screenwriting credits include the British thriller A Question of Adultery (1958), starring Julie London, which was released in the U.S. as The Case of Mrs. Loring; as well as early and unused drafts of the screenplay for Funny Girl (1968).

Edwards, who was president of the Authors Guild in 1981, lamented the dearth of women working in creative roles in Hollywood when she was starting out. 

Regarding her autobiography, Edwards said in 2013: "There comes a time, and I am at that age, when you have to take your life in your arms and hold it to you to keep it breathing. It was a necessity.... Writing is a lifeline to me. I need it to breathe."

Shelf Awareness Delivers Indie Pre-Order E-Blast

This past Wednesday, Shelf Awareness sent our monthly pre-order e-blast to nearly 960,000 of the country's best book readers. The e-blast went to 956,904 customers of 243 participating independent bookstores.

The mailing features 11 upcoming titles selected by Shelf Awareness editors and a sponsored title. Customers can buy these books via "pre-order" buttons that lead directly to the purchase page for the title on each sending store's website. A key feature is that bookstore partners can easily change title selections to best reflect the tastes of their customers and can customize the mailing with links, images and promotional copy of their own.

The pre-order e-blasts are sent the last Wednesday of each month; the next will go out on Wednesday, February 28. Stores interested in learning more can visit our program registration page or contact our partner program team via e-mail.

For a sample of the January pre-order e-blast, see this one from Breakwater Books, Guilford, Conn.

The titles highlighted in the pre-order e-blast were:

Until August by Gabriel García Márquez, translated by Anne McLean (Knopf)
The Great Divide by Cristina Henríquez (Ecco)
The Sunlit Man: A Cosmere Novel by Brandon Sanderson (Tor)
Expiration Dates by Rebecca Serle (Atria)
James by Percival Everett (Doubleday)
The House of Hidden Meanings: A Memoir by RuPaul (Dey Street)
There's Always This Year: On Basketball and Ascension by Hanif Abdurraqib (Random House)
The Mystery Writer by Sulari Gentill (Poisoned Pen)
Cooking in Real Life by Lidey Heuck, foreword by Ina Garten (Simon Element)
The Prisoner's Throne by Holly Black (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers)
Where Sleeping Girls Lie by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé (Feiwel & Friends)


Image of the Day: The Beginner's Guide to Ayurvedic Home Remedies

People's Book in Takoma Park, Md., recently hosted Susan Weis-Bohlen, author of The Beginner's Guide to Ayurvedic Home Remedies: Ancient Healing for Modern Life (Fair Winds/Quarto) and former owner of Breathe Books in Baltimore. Pictured: Weis-Bohlen (l.) and owner Megan Bormet.

Personnel Changes at Clarkson Potter/Ten Speed Press; Macmillan

At Clarkson Potter and Ten Speed Press:

Jana Branson is promoted to director of publicity.

David Hawk is promoted to associate director of publicity.

Felix Cruz is promoted to publicist.

Lauren Chung is promoted to associate publicist.

Jina Stanfill joins as senior publicist.

Chloe Aryeh is promoted to assistant marketing director.


Ellie Bate has joined the Macmillan Publishers library marketing team as assistant.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: A'ja Wilson on Good Morning America

The View: Joy-Ann Reid, author of Medgar and Myrlie: Medgar Evers and the Love Story That Awakened America (Mariner, $30, 9780063068797). She will also appear tomorrow on Good Morning America and the Late Show with Stephen Colbert.

Drew Barrymore Show: Tabitha Brown, author of I Did a New Thing: 30 Days to Living Free (Morrow, $29.99, 9780063286115).

Tamron Hall: Crystal Hefner, author of Only Say Good Things: Surviving Playboy and Finding Myself (Grand Central, $30, 9781538765678).

Also on Tamron Hall: Michelle Horton, author of Dear Sister: A Memoir of Secrets, Survival, and Unbreakable Bonds (Grand Central, $30, 9781538757154).

Late Night with Seth Meyers: Bernie Sanders, author of It's OK to Be Angry About Capitalism (Crown, $20, 9780593238738).

Today Show: Gracie Gold, author of Outofshapeworthlessloser: A Memoir of Figure Skating, F*cking Up, and Figuring It Out (Crown, $28.99, 9780593444047).

CBS Mornings: Dulcé Sloan, author of Hello, Friends!: Stories of Dating, Destiny, and Day Jobs (Andscape Books, $27.99, 9781368095501).

Good Morning America: A'ja Wilson, author of Dear Black Girls: How to Be True to You (Flatiron, $24.99, 9781250290045). She will also appear on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert.

Kelly Clarkson Show: Sarah J. Maas, author of House of Flame and Shadow (Bloomsbury, $32, 9781635574104).

Tamron Hall: Hank Phillippi Ryan, author of One Wrong Word: A Novel (Forge Books, $28.99, 9781250849496).

Late Night with Seth Meyers: Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah, author of Chain Gang All Stars (Vintage, $18, 9780593469316).

Spoken Word Grammy Winners

Among the winners last night at the 2024 Grammy Awards were some book-related ones, including two Spoken Word categories:

Best Audiobook, Narration & Storytelling: The Light We Carry: Overcoming in Uncertain Times by Michelle Obama (Penguin Random House Audio)
Best Spoken Word Poetry Album: The Light Inside by J. Ivy

TV: Margo's Got Money Troubles

Margo's Got Money Troubles, "a hot series package... set in the world of OnlyFans with a wrestling twist," has landed at Apple TV+ with a straight-to-series order, Deadline reported. Elle Fanning and Nicole Kidman will star and executive produce the eight-part series, alongside David E. Kelley and Dakota Fanning with A24 as the studio.

Apple TV+ outbid a number of other companies, including Netflix, for the rights to the series, which is based on Rufi Thorpe's upcoming book, set to be published by William Morrow on June 11, Deadline noted. Kelley will serve as showrunner. 

Books & Authors

Awards: Pol Roger Duff Cooper Nonfiction Shortlist

The shortlist has been released for the Pol Roger Duff Cooper Prize for nonfiction books published in the U.K. during 2023. The winning author, who will be named March 4, receives £5,000 (about $6,315) and a magnum of Pol Roger Champagne. This year's shortlisted titles are:

Revolutionary Spring by Christopher Clark
The Revolutionary Temper: Paris 1748-1789 by Robert Darnton
Courting India by Nandini Das
France on Trial by Julian Jackson
Monet by Jackie Wullschläger

Chair of the jury Artemis Cooper said: "This year's shortlist features five books that combine compelling narrative with imaginative insight. Each is ambitious, delighting in the textures of the past, songs and shipping bills, law reports and love notes, while offering intellectual rigor. As a jury, we feel these are future classics, stimulants to thought, conversation and omnivorous curiosity."

Book Review

Review: The Cemetery of Untold Stories

The Cemetery of Untold Stories by Julia Alvarez (Algonquin, $28 hardcover, 256p., 9781643753843, April 2, 2024)

In her thought-provoking seventh novel for adults, The Cemetery of Untold Stories, Julia Alvarez (Afterlife) weaves a complex narrative that is primarily about stories: the beguiling appeal of the phrase "Tell me a story"; the difficulty of capturing a story's fullness as a writer; the complicated realities of whose stories get told and whose stay buried. Through a literal graveyard for abandoned stories in the Dominican Republic, Alvarez's protagonist, Alma Cruz, and the cemetery's caretaker, Filomena, reckon with the layers (both beautiful and heartbreaking) of stories that belong to them and to others.

After a successful career in the U.S. as a writer and professor, Alma has had enough: she's moving back to her family's homeland, not wanting to succumb to madness like a writer friend of hers who was driven insane by a story she could never write. Alma decides to stop writing and "stand empty-handed for as long as she could stand it," releasing the whispering guilt of her unfinished stories. Two of them, in particular, have haunted her: an account of Bienvenida Ricardo, once the wife of Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo, and a narrative of the life of Manuel Cruz, Alma's recently deceased physician father.

When Alma's cemetery is finally constructed (to the bemusement of her new neighbors in the barrio), she hires a local woman, Filomena, to watch over the space. Filomena begins listening to the sculptures and stories in the odd cemetery (per Alma's instructions) and finds that some stories (and characters) don't want to stay silent. As Alma and her three sisters dig into their father's life, trying to unearth his secrets, Filomena listens to Manuel Cruz tell his own story--the parts both known and unknown to his daughters. Nearby, Bienvenida--a woman scorned by Trujillo, but perhaps stronger than he knew--shares her experiences of love and heartbreak with Filomena, causing the latter to reflect on her own life.

Speaking in her characters' multiple voices, Alvarez shares the details of their lives: family dynamics, hard work, immigration, love, rejection, grief, surprises. The larger narrative, like the cemetery itself, ponders the question of whose stories receive priority: Is it the privileged? The powerful? The beautiful? Or simply those who find a listening ear? Alvarez also wonders about the layers of stories hidden from one's own family members, the ways a story can change and revise itself over time, and who gets the final say. Mystifying, compelling, and often wryly funny, The Cemetery of Untold Stories is a lyrical meditation on storytelling, truth, family, and the quicksilver nature of narrative itself. --Katie Noah Gibson, blogger at Cakes, Tea and Dreams

Shelf Talker: Julia Alvarez delivers a lyrical, thought-provoking meditation on truth, complicated family narratives, and the question of whose stories get told.

The Bestsellers Bestsellers in January

The bestselling audiobooks at independent bookstores during January:

1. Tom Lake by Ann Patchett (HarperAudio)
2. The Heaven & Earth Grocery Store by James McBride (Penguin Random House Audio)
3. First Lie Wins by Ashley Elston (Penguin Random House Audio)
4. Iron Flame by Rebecca Yarros (Recorded Books)
5. Fourth Wing by Rebecca Yarros (Recorded Books)
6. The Frozen River by Ariel Lawhon (Penguin Random House Audio)
7. Remarkably Bright Creatures by Shelby Van Pelt (HarperAudio)
8. Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver (HarperAudio)
9. Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin (Penguin Random House Audio)
10. Emily Wilde's Map of the Otherlands by Heather Fawcett (Penguin Random House Audio)

1. The Woman in Me by Britney Spears (Simon & Schuster Audio)
2. Atomic Habits by James Clear (Penguin Random House Audio)
3. The Wager by David Grann (Penguin Random House Audio)
4. One in a Millennial by Kate Kennedy (Macmillan Audio)
5. My Name Is Barbra by Barbra Streisand (Penguin Random House Audio)
6. How to Keep House While Drowning by KC Davis (Simon & Schuster Audio)
7. I'm Glad My Mom Died by Jennette McCurdy (Simon & Schuster Audio)
8. The Hundred Years' War on Palestine by Rashid Khalidi (Macmillan Audio)
9. Between Two Kingdoms by Suleika Jaouad (Penguin Random House Audio)
10. The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown (Penguin Random House Audio)

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