Shelf Awareness for Tuesday, February 6, 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.

News

Sabrina McCarthy New President of Bloomsbury US

Sabrina McCarthy

Sabrina McCarthy has been appointed president of Bloomsbury US, effective at the beginning of April. She will serve on Bloomsbury's global executive committee and report to Bloomsbury CEO Nigel Newton. Adrienne Vaughan, who died tragically last August, formerly held the post.

McCarthy is v-p and general manager of Ingram Publisher Services, overseeing six distribution divisions as well as the domestic, international print and digital sales teams, and the business operations team. She joined Ingram in 2016 when the company bought Perseus Books Group's distribution business. She had worked for 19 years at Perseus, starting out in publicity and then working in sales, marketing, and business development before leading their client services business beginning in 2006 and becoming president of Perseus Distribution Client Services and then senior v-p, group sales director.

McCarthy commented, "As a child, I had recurrent dreams trying to fathom how books were created. I was fascinated by where the writers began and how they went about putting the story altogether. That appreciation for the craft of writing and the art of making books has stayed with me through the years. I spent the last 26 years of my career helping independent publishers bring their books to market.

"I am thrilled to now be at the helm of Bloomsbury US, a publisher I have admired since my very first visit to their London offices in 2002. A publisher who has a gift for finding incredible authors, while also helping to move the world forward through important academic and trade books. Nigel Newton is a publishing legend, and I am honoured to be joining his leadership team. I look forward to working with the hugely talented Bloomsbury US team to bring great books to life, to lead our US ambitions and to continue to grow Bloomsbury US."

Newton said, "I am absolutely delighted that Sabrina is joining Bloomsbury and confident that she will lead our wonderful colleagues in America with grace and skill. I also look forward to her contribution to Bloomsbury worldwide through her membership of our global executive committee. She may also have the smallest change to her commute in history moving from Ingram at 1400 Broadway, just across the street to Bloomsbury at 1385 Broadway!"


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Leadership Changes at Ingram Publisher Services

Three leadership changes have been announced at Ingram Publisher Services:

Meredith Greenhouse is promoted to v-p and general manager, Ingram Publisher Services, which includes Consortium, Distribution Solutions, Ingram Academic and Professional, IPS UK, Publishers Group West, and Two Rivers Distribution. Greenhouse began her career in international sales at HarperCollins, where she was senior director, open markets, before joining Perseus Books Group in 2015 as v-p, international sales & marketing. She joined Ingram in 2016 when it bought Perseus's distribution operations and has since expanded her responsibilities to include oversight of U.S. special, gift, and mass merchandise sales. More recently, Greenhouse has taken on the leadership of IPS UK.

Nick Parker is promoted to v-p, Ingram Publisher Services. Since joining the company in 2018, Parker has been director of Two Rivers Distribution. Parker will expand his responsibilities to include the oversight of digital sales and marketing and Ingram Academic & Professional.

Bunmi Western is promoted to director, IPS UK. Western joined Ingram in 2016 and has been a leader of UK and European sales for IPS in the London office. Western will expand her oversight to include IPS UK.

Phil Ollila, chief commercial and content officer at Ingram Content Group, commented: "Ingram Publisher Services is led by the best in the business. The combined expertise that Meredith Greenhouse, Nick Parker, and Bunmi Western bring to IPS ensures the highest quality distribution and marketing services for our clients and sets the stage for growth."


For Sale: Bisbee Books & Music, Bisbee, Ariz.

Craig Harzinski and Ken Mertes, owners of Bisbee Books & Music in Bisbee, Ariz., are looking for a buyer for their bookstore, the Arizona Daily Star reported.

Located at 2 Main St. in Bisbee, the shop sells new and used books along with vinyl records, art supplies, glass jewelry, and more. There is an emphasis on books by local and regional authors, as well as sections highlighting banned books, Ukraine, and the paranormal. The owners also host events like the Bisbee Artist Series, which features local authors, artists, and craftspeople.

Mertes and Harzinski have owned the bookstore since November of 2018. Prior to moving to Bisbee from Chicago, Ill., they had no plans to own a bookstore and in fact had "never worked in retail" before. But when a local bookstore went up for sale, they felt drawn to it, and conversations with then-owner Carol Lokey convinced them it was a perfect fit.

Mertes told the Daily Star that they are not in a rush to sell the bookstore and intend to take the time to make sure they find the right buyer. "We're proud of what we've done. We think we've brought life to the convention center and the people in town by having a bookstore here. For everybody's sake, it's important to find the right new owners, so if it takes a while? That's OK. We like it here."


Soho Press Launches Hell's Hundred Horror Imprint

Soho Press is launching Hell's Hundred, a horror imprint that will publish "evocative horror fiction by true genre aficionados," the company said. The new imprint, which joins Soho Crime, Soho Press, and Soho Teen, derives its name from New York City's SoHo neighborhood, where decades before evolving into its current incarnation the area was known as "Hell's Hundred Acres," a dangerous industrial district.

"All of us at Soho are excited to reach a new audience with the launch of Hell's Hundred," said Bronwen Hruska, publisher of Soho Press. "Already, we've seen how hungry the horror community is for these kinds of books--and how supportive it is of new forays into the genre." 

Hell's Hundred will make its debut with two titles this summer, beginning in June with youthjuice, "a bloody satire of the beauty industry and New York City workplace glamour," by former beauty editor E.K. Sathue. 

In August, Stuart Neville's Blood Like Mine, "a chilling monster story about a mother and daughter on the run across the Southwest," will be released. Neville is the author of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize-winning novel The Ghosts of Belfast, and has published nine books with Soho Crime.

Other releases from Hell's Hundred, in early 2025, include Our Winter Monster by Dennis Mahoney and The Butcher's Daughter by David Demchuk and Corinne Leigh Clark. 


BincTank Selection Panel Announced

The Book Industry Charitable Foundation has announced the members of the four-person selection panel that will choose the first cohort for BincTank, a business incubator designed to increase equity in bookstore ownership.

The panelists are: Nuola Akinde, founder and executive director of the nonprofit Legacy Unbound (formerly Edelweiss Legacy); James Fugate, former co-owner of EsoWon Books in Los Angeles, Calif., now retired; Javier Ramirez, co-owner of Exile in Bookville in Chicago, Ill.; and Tianna Woodford, program manager for MORTAR Cincinnati's 15-week Entrepreneurship Academy.

The panel will select 10-12 entrepreneurs out of a pool of 48 applications. BincTank applications were open from January 8-20, with the program looking for BIPOC entrepreneurs wanting to open mission-driven bookstores in their communities.

Bookmobiles, pop-ups, and traditional bricks-and-mortar stores were all eligible, as were stores looking to move from one model to another. Online-only stores and stores open for more than six months were not eligible.

Binc announced the creation of BincTank last summer. The pilot phase is planned to run for three years.


Obituary Note: Christopher Priest

Christopher Priest

British novelist Christopher Priest, who was best known for The Prestige and "became eminent more than once over the nearly 60 years of his active working life," died February 2, the Guardian reported. He was 80.  

In 1983, he was included in the Granta Best of Young British Novelists, a list that included many writers--Martin Amis, William Boyd, Kazuo Ishiguro, Ian McEwan, Salman Rushdie, Graham Swift, A.N. Wilson among them--significantly younger than Priest, whose career had begun almost two decades earlier, with at least 15 books and 50 stories in print by the early '80s. "He clearly felt that it was not so much the quality of his work that delayed his 'promotion' to the literary establishment, but his reluctance to deny, when asked, that he wrote science fiction," the Guardian noted.

The Prestige (1995), about two feuding 19th-century magicians, won both the James Tait Black Memorial prize and a World Fantasy award. A film adaptation by Christopher Nolan (2006) starred Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale.

Priest's other books include Indoctrinaire (1970), Darkening Island (1972), Inverted World (1974), The Space Machine: A Scientific Romance (1976), A Dream of Wessex (1977), An Infinite Summer (1979), The Affirmation (1981), The Glamour (1984), The Last Deadloss Visions (1987), The Separation (2002, winner of an Arthur C. Clarke award), The Magic: The Story of a Film (2008), Ersatz Wines (2008), The Islanders (2011), An American Story (2018), Expect Me Tomorrow (2022), and Airside (2023).

"The New Worlds/New Wave vision of a world that had lost all sense of itself, with no stories to show a way out, was inspiring: but from the beginning Priest recognized the central influence and mentoring genius of J.G. Ballard, who made hypnotic stories out of the seemingly unstoryable, for his uncanny intuition that past, present and future were an 'inner space' we must explore and live with," the Guardian wrote. "Though his works are formally more ingenious, everything Priest wrote acknowledges his mentor's foreknowledge that we now live in that inner space, where the lighting is treacherous."

Priest's literary agent, Max Edwards, told the Bookseller that the author was "a true luminary. Like his near-contemporary J.G. Ballard, a biography of whom he was writing in his final months, he achieved the rare distinction of being lauded in both the literary and speculative fiction worlds. For over half a century he gave us an imagination as brilliant as his prose. The SF scene in Britain in particular is populated by his friends and those he has mentored, and will be the smaller for his passing."

Marcus Gipps, Priest's longtime editor at Gollancz, said: "Gollancz and Orion are devastated to have lost Chris, whose extraordinary novels we have had the joy of publishing since 2011. The remarkable output of his latter years stands alongside the best fiction of any genre, and to be home to the groundbreaking titles of his earlier career as well is an honor.... His books will stand the test of time, and it has been one of the highlights of my career to be his editor and publisher."

Tomasz Hoskins, his editor at Bloomsbury, added: "His was a unique mind, and his legacy is a generation of intelligent science fiction writers inspired by his work and that of his contemporaries."


Notes

Image of the Day: Kendi Kicks Off Black History Month with Talking Leaves...Books

Talking Leaves...Books, Buffalo, N.Y., partnered with the Buffalo Public School (BPS) Office of Culturally and Linguistically Responsive Initiatives and the Key Bank Foundation to host two events with Dr. Ibram X. Kendi for his middle-grade book Barracoon: Adapted for Young Readers (Amistad), Kendi's adaptation of Zora Neale Hurston's classic.

On January 30, Kendi was in conversation with Buffalo author and artist Ariel Aberg-Riger, creator of the YA graphic history book  American Redux: Visual Stories from Our Dynamic History. The next day, Kendi addressed 300 BPS students at a student-only gathering. The discussion was live-streamed on the BPS website for all city students. Five hundred signed copies of Barracoon were donated to the attending students and to BPS school and classroom libraries, courtesy of Talking Leaves...Books, the CLRI, and Key Bank.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Mark Daley on Fresh Air

Today:
Fresh Air: Mark Daley, author of Safe: A Memoir of Fatherhood, Foster Care, and the Risks We Take for Family (Atria Books, $28.99, 9781668008782).

Tomorrow:
Today Show: Patti Davis, author of Dear Mom and Dad: A Letter About Family, Memory, and the America We Once Knew (Liveright, $21.99, 9781324093480).

Tamron Hall: A'ja Wilson, author of Dear Black Girls: How to Be True to You (Flatiron, $24.99, 9781250290045).

Kelly Clarkson Show: Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone, author of Far Beyond Gold: Running from Fear to Faith (Thomas Nelson, $29.99, 9780785297994).

Live with Kelly and Mark: Adam Grant, author of Hidden Potential: The Science of Achieving Greater Things (Viking, $32, 9780593653142).


Movies: I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter

I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter, America Ferrera's directorial debut based on Erika Sánchez's 2017 novel, is currently in development, with Linda Yvette Chávez as the screenwriter. Deadline reported that the project "reunites Ferrera with Chávez following their collaboration on Netflix's Gentefied, a TV series co-created by the latter and executive produced by the pair."

Previously set at Netflix, the movie is now being developed at Amazon MGM Studios' Orion Pictures. Producers include Doreen Wilcox Little, MACRO Film Studio's Charles D. King and Poppy Hanks, Aevitas Creative Management's David Kuhn and Anonymous Content. Sánchez and MACRO Film Studio's Greta Talia Fuentes will executive produce. Anonymous Content optioned the rights to the book under the company's first-look deal with Aevitas Creative Management.



Books & Authors

Awards: Edna Staebler Creative Nonfiction Shortlist

Finalists have been unveiled for the C$10,000 (about US$7,600) Edna Staebler Award for Creative Nonfiction, which is administered by Wilfrid Laurier University, Quill & Quire reported. The prize recognizes a Canadian writer of a first or second published book with a Canadian locale and/or significance. The winner will be named later this spring. This year's shortlisted titles are:

Half-Bads in White Regalia by Cody Caetano 
Thick Skin: Field Notes from a Sister in the Brotherhood by Hilary Peach

"Although strikingly different, these books provide intimate access to experiences and communities that many of us would never be able to learn about firsthand," said juror and Laurier professor Bruce Gillespie.


Book Review

Review: The Jinn Daughter

The Jinn Daughter by Rania Hanna (Hoopoe, $17.95 paperback, 274p., 9781649033635, April 2, 2024)

Rania Hanna's first novel, The Jinn Daughter, is a moving, imaginative tale of magic, myth, life and death, and a mother's love. Appropriately, the power of storytelling is central.

Nadine is a jinn, and serves as Hakawati to her village and community. Every morning, she gathers the pomegranate seeds that have fallen overnight outside her modest cabin: these are the souls of the recently deceased. She presses these seeds into a juice and drinks it to experience the stories of the dead, sometimes with honey to cut the bitterness, sometimes "settling sweet on my tongue." It is in the telling of these stories that souls might pass from the Waiting Place "to final--and hopefully, peaceful--death."

This is important and meaningful work, but Nadine's life is not easy; almost all of her kind were killed or banished when she was very young, her training incomplete, and she is ostracized by the people whose souls she lives to assist into final death. She is nearly alone but for her beloved and cherished daughter, and the equally cherished ghost of that daughter's father, Illyas. Layala, at 14 years old, is beginning to test the limits of their austere life. Illyas had been a human, and Nadine desperately wants their child to be without magic--safer that way. But jinn, despite their many powers, don't have control over their children's destinies.

Layala seeks a more meaningful existence than the quiet life allowed her as her mother's daughter. Dangers press in from outside, too: the villagers' animosity toward jinn, and a cascade of secrets from Nadine and Layala's past, threaten their tenuous safety. They receive death threats from the human villagers, and then a visit from Death herself. Nadine must make unusual alliances and travel further into the realm of death than she ever has, to make a bid for her daughter's safety. Her recurring prayer: "Keep her safe. Keep her happy. Let her find good love. Let her know peace. Let her know her heart and mind. Let her be." But Layala may not want the same peace for herself that her mother wishes.

Hanna's prose sparkles with color and detail, imbued with a mother's deathless devotion to her child. The Jinn Daughter, drawing upon pre-Islamic Arabic mythology, engages with concepts of grief, loss, acceptance, self-determination, and the will to live. Hanna emphasizes the potential for stories and storytelling to explain life's mysteries, to communicate, and to survive. Readers will find Nadine's quest poignant, and Layala's growth inspirational, in this journey of love, life, and death. --Julia Kastner, librarian and blogger at pagesofjulia

Shelf Talker: A jinn with the power to help souls into death's final rest struggles to keep her daughter safe in this lively, vivid debut.


Deeper Understanding

Among Friends: Roxanne Coady on Bookselling

Among the many contributors to Among Friends: An Illustrated Oral History of American Book Publishing & Bookselling in the 20th Century, published last fall by Two Trees Press and distributed by Ingram Content Group, is Roxanne Coady, founder and owner of R.J. Julia, Madison, Conn. Here we reproduce her contribution, which focuses on the store's history, independent booksellers' challenges, possible solutions, and the role of indies in their communities.

In 1987, while sitting on the beach in St. Maarten, a notion popped into my brain. After 17 years in banking and accounting, maybe it was time to do something from my heart and not my head. To an outsider, that redirection might seem illogical. I was a partner in a top 10 accounting firm and in the previous year had been promoted to national tax director for our firm. Instead of musing about the heart, it was more likely about indulging a need for accomplishment. But the idea kept tugging at my brain and there was never a question about what I would do next. Books and reading were, from the age of two, what had captured my imagination and thrilled me.

The transition was shaped by my accounting brain: I visited bookstores all over the country, did extensive demographic research, interviewed publishers, authors and retailers, did financial projections and put together a business plan. Then I gave the required six months' notice to my firm and in spring 1989 bought a derelict, empty building on the Boston Post Road in Madison, Conn.

One year later we opened the doors of R.J. Julia for the first time. I was eight months pregnant and 41 years old, and it was hard not to wonder if I had embarked on the craziest of journeys or was about to begin a new life filled with words and books and readers that would fill my heart. The store was named after my father's mother, Juliska, who lived in Hungary and died at Bergen-Belsen. In 1942 she had accomplished her dream of seeing her son graduate from high school, against the odds, and as a result my father had a lifelong love of books and was an insatiable reader.

Happily, our community embraced the bookstore from day one with enthusiasm and support. We held the first of thousands of events, this one with Morley Safer, attended by hundreds of people. Book retailer colleagues Ed Morrow of Northshire, Frank Kramer and Carole Horne of Harvard Book Store and Suzy Staubach of UConn Coop answered my endless questions with extraordinary generosity. And the publishers' reps were informative and engaged in our success. These would be the cornerstones of R.J. Julia's journey.

Generosity and community have sustained us during the ebbs and flows in these 30-plus years. In the "ebbs" category, we happened to open just as Barnes & Noble and Borders rolled out hundreds of stores around the country. Two minutes later Amazon the gorilla entered the fray, and the world experienced an exponential number of changes in the form of the internet, e-commerce and an upended retail landscape. I compared our position with an 8-inch pie that had more and more forks stuck into it, to feed more hungry mouths. We were faced with a single retailer who dominated the industry and effectively controlled publishers by virtue of its size. Independent booksellers' share of the market has substantially diminished and our smaller size as a "channel" utterly changes our relationship with publishers.

The other part of the challenge is the financial structure of bookstores. Obviously, we have a fixed price on our products with a relatively low margin, yet the cost of staffing, occupancy and responding to the technology demands of retailing creates a fragile financial structure. Some of this has been addressed with enhanced coop advertising, and discounts have improved since 1990 when the store opened. This pressure will only continue with increasing minimum wages and signs of inflation.

One step that could address these issues is compensating independent bookstores for their role as influencers. If the collective impact of our "followers" were monetized, that could be added to further enhancements for discounts. Another step is substantially more philosophical and profound. The contemporary notion of anti-trust is measured only by the impact on price to the consumer. When anti-trust law was introduced during the first Gilded Age, around the turn of the 20th century, there was an understanding that allowing monopolies to exist created concentrations of power that would impact inequality of wealth and undue influence on politics and policies. We are seeing the damage resulting from a lack of enforcement of anti-trust concepts. If our politics could enforce the original notions of anti-trust, that could level the playing field. The "lowest price" comes at a fundamental cost to our society.

At R.J. Julia, we manage these challenges in a variety of ways. We use many key productivity indexes to measure returns on costs and investment, and have diversified our sources of income to include management fees and B2B income. We've also established one of the first personalized book-of-the-month programs as a pure e-commerce platform.

Nonetheless, there are many scary moments when you run a small business. There is the constant financial concern, balancing the need to be a motivating sturdy leader without sharing worries that could be destabilizing. You also want to "run the train" as well as possible, yet not allow the day-to-day to constrain your ability to be innovative and anticipate the future.

We've learned that by developing the right team, you are energized and better at solving any problem. Over the years, we have had teams of every type, but the years do have their lessons, and the team we have now is extraordinary and inspiring.

Ultimately, it is the flow that really matters. Bookstores are uniquely situated to provide moments and days of utter satisfaction. Listening to customers, placing the book in their hand that fills the need of the moment, that cheers them up, that gives them courage or comfort, watching authors connect with readers in moments of intimacy and understanding, and creating a place for our community to gather.

At our 25th anniversary, many journalists asked what I had learned, and what surprised me over those years. The surprise was the pleasure of creating a place for employees to thrive, where they were trusted and appreciated. Our staff are the heroes of our story: smart, loyal, hardworking and caring. I learned that this job is harder than I thought it would be, but more profoundly, that it fills my heart to the brim.

The act of opening a bookstore is fueled by a sense of hope: to put the right book in the right hand, that the community would see us as a place of discovery. We've had that hope realized.


The Bestsellers

Top-Selling Self-Published Titles

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

1. When the Moon Hatched by Sarah A. Parker
2. Twisted Love by Ana Huang
3. The Worst Best Man by Lucy Score
4. Twisted Games by Ana Huang
5. Hunting Adeline by H.D. Carlton
6. King of Wrath by Ana Huang
7. The Fine Print by Lauren Asher
8. Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert T. Kiyosaki with Sharon L. Lechter
9. The Inmate by Freida McFadden
10. The Bride's Runaway Billionaire by Pippa Grant

[Many thanks to IndieReader.com!]


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