Also published on this date: Wednesday February 7, 2024: Kids' Maximum Shelf: The Imaginary Alphabet

Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, February 7, 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.


AAP Sales: Down 0.5% in November; Up 0.6% Year to Date

Total net book sales in November in the U.S. slipped 0.5%, to $1.02 billion, compared to November 2022, representing sales of 1,225 publishers and distributed clients as reported to the Association of American Publishers. For the first 11 months of 2023, total net book sales were up 0.6%, to $11.67 billion.

In November, trade revenue fell 0.2%, to $858 million, dragged down by lower sales of adult titles in all formats. By contrast, sales of children's/YA titles in all formats were all up compared to November 2022.

During November, trade hardcover revenue rose 2%, to $368.8 million, paperbacks fell 1.9%, to $262.5 million, mass market plummeted 53.4%, to $9.1 million, and special bindings rose 13.8%, to $22.7 million.

Sales by category in November 2023 compared to November 2022:

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New Shakespeare & Co. Opening on Manhattan's Upper West Side

Shakespeare & Co.'s store on Broadway at 69th St.

A new Shakespeare & Co. bookstore will open on Manhattan's Upper West Side this spring, I Love the Upper West Side reported.

The new store will be located at 2736 Broadway, on the corner of Broadway and West 105th St. It will be the third Shakespeare & Co. store in NYC and the second on the UWS. Unlike other Shakespeare & Co. locations, this store will not have a cafe or an Espresso book machine.

Dane Neller, Shakespeare & Co. owner, described the new store as a "classic independent bookstore," and explained that with so many good eateries nearby, there was "no need" for a cafe.

Neller added that the UWS has a "great book market with good readers who know the brand," and as the new store will be about two miles north of the other UWS store, he was not concerned about cannibalizing sales.

Shakespeare & Co. is eyeing a March opening for the new store.

Foxing Books Finds Physical Location in Louisville, Ky.

After debuting as a mobile bookstore in 2022, Foxing Books has opened a bricks-and-mortar space in Louisville, Ky., Spectrum News 1 reported.

Owner Kelly Nusz has found a space at 1314 Bluegrass Ave. in Louisville's South End. The bookstore carries a wide range of titles for children, teens, and adults. Nusz founded the mobile bookstore to cater to Louisville neighborhoods that didn't have new bookstores of their own, and always hoped to open a physical store eventually.

"It's a diverse neighborhood with people from all over the world," Nusz told Spectrum. "And to not invest in this part of the city, I think it's unfair to the whole city. It's going to benefit everyone from collectively being a part of the greater pieces of Louisville."

Once the weather warms, Nusz will continue to operate the mobile bookstore along with the new bricks-and-mortar store.

The Little Bookstore Comes to Katy, Tex.   

The Little Bookstore, "a new cozy space in Katy [Tex.] for children and families to explore bilingual books," opened recently at 6729 South Fry Road, inside the Painted Tree Boutiques, Covering Katy News reported.

Gabriela Gotay, founder of the Little Bookstore for Literacy and Education, is a writer, educator, and bilingual children's book author. "Her love of literature and language has taken many forms, from organizing reading corners inside child therapy centers to promoting bilingual reading and education through her blog, podcasts, and books," Covering Katy News noted.

"We firmly believe that having the tool of a second language is the key that will open many doors and give them (children) the gift of a broader perspective on the world, themselves, and what they can do and accomplish," Gotay said. "A second language offers a path toward empathy, communication, and self-expression."

Originally from Venezuela, Gotay lived for 20 years in Puerto Rico, and was an annual visitor to the Katy area, where her parents live. She moved to Katy permanently in 2021.

The Little Bookstore's goal is to be a physical hub for families to find and connect with bilingual books and resources to support their efforts to encourage their children to discover, explore and have meaningful experiences with and around a second language. 

"Exploring and interacting with a second language allows learners of all ages to engage their minds, make connections, expand their horizons, have a wider range of words to express ideas and emotions," Gotay said. "Ultimately, it's having the power of our own Rosetta Stone, a way to look back, move forward, build bridges between ourselves and the world."

S&S V-P, Executive Editor Bob Bender Retiring

Bob Bender, v-p and executive editor of the Simon & Schuster trade imprint, is retiring from the company, effective April 30. 

Bob Bender

In a letter announcing the retirement, S&S president & CEO Jonathan Karp wrote: "If the paragraph above seems unusually spare for such a significant event, please understand that I began this letter with a heartfelt, over-the-top superlative that was deleted by Bob, whose humility and editorial assiduousness are well known to those of us fortunate enough to have worked alongside him. For 43 years, Bob has served our authors with self-effacing dedication, vigilant attention to detail, wide-ranging knowledge and curiosity, equanimity, and discernment. Along the way, he has built one of the best lists of nonfiction authors throughout the publishing landscape."
Noting that Bender's editorial range "is legendary," Karp added: "When I arrived at Simon & Schuster, I knew of Bob's reputation as highly respected nonfiction editor, but Carolyn Reidy described him with more precision. 'Bob is the king of midlist nonfiction that sells,' she told me, putting extra emphasis on those last two words."
Bender began his career at S&S in 1981. Karp noted that for the past 14 years, as "an eyewitness to 43% of Simon & Schuster's history, Bob's acumen, erudition, and institutional memory cannot be replaced. I know, however, that he has been an inspiration to all of the editors and publishing professionals with whom he has come in contact, including me. Please join me in wishing Bob the happiest retirement imaginable. He has filled Simon & Schuster with shelves of books we will treasure, and editorial standards we will seek to emulate."


Image of the Day: Groundhog Day at Read Between the Lynes

Read Between the Lynes, Woodstock, Ill., and her staff celebrated an incredible Groundhog's Day. Thousands of people showed up for Woodstock Willie's prognostication (Woodstock was the filming location for the Bill Murray classic), and then they visited the bookstore for Groundhog Day books and merchandise. Sourcebooks staffers Margaret Coffee and Valerie Pierce volunteered to help on this busy shopping day. Pictured: (l.-r.) Pierce; staffers Lou and Colleen; store owner Arlene Lynes; Coffee.


Happy 20th Birthday, Talk Story Bookstore!

Congratulations to Talk Story Bookstore, Hanapepe, Hawaii, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. Kaua'i Now reported that the westernmost bookstore in the U.S. began in 2004, when owner Ed Justus "stood on the Hanapēpē Swinging Bridge on the west side of Kaua'i, searching for an answer. The fledgling business owner, very nearly broke, was faced with a difficult decision: He could only afford to pay rent on his apartment or his month-old store--not both."

"Do I close the business? Or do I continue the business and sleep in the van?" Justus was asking himself, just as a double rainbow appeared above him. He took it as a sign and decided to sleep in the van.

"I'm extremely grateful that we're here 20 years later," Justus said. 

To celebrate the anniversary, Talk Story Bookstore will hold monthly prize giveaways on Instagram throughout 2024, with an in-person celebration set for sometime in November.

Chalkboard: Betty's Books

"Fall in love with comics" was the colorful Valentine's Day sidewalk chalkboard message in front of Betty's Books, Webster Groves, Mo., which noted: "Tis the season of love!! If your thing is squealing over Tuxedo Mask, we’ve got you MORE than covered. Swing by for all your comics romance needs!!"

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Joy-Ann Reid on Fresh Air

Fresh Air: Joy-Ann Reid, author of Medgar and Myrlie: Medgar Evers and the Love Story That Awakened America (Mariner Books, $30, 9780063068797).

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

TV: Emperor of Ocean Park

Henry Simmons, Bryan Greenberg, Torrey Hanson, Ora Jones, and Jasmine Batchelor are set to recur in the new MGM+ series Emperor of Ocean Park, inspired by Stephen L. Carter's 2002 novel, Deadline reported. They join previously announced series regulars Forest Whitaker, Grantham Coleman, Tiffany Mack, and Paulina Lule.

From John Wells and Sherman Payne, Emperor of Ocean Park is produced by JWP in association with Warner Bros. Television. Damian Marcano is set to direct multiple episodes. Wells, Payne, Damian Marcano, Shukree Tilghman, and JWP's Erin Jontow will serve as executive producers. Payne, who is also showrunner, wrote the first episode, which will be directed by Marcano.

Books & Authors

Awards: PEN/Faulkner Fiction Longlist

The PEN/Faulkner Foundation released the longlist for the 2024 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction. Finalists will be unveiled in early March, with the winner named in April. The longlisted titles are:

Witness by Jamel Brinkley (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
The Guest by Emma Cline (Random House)
Monica by Daniel Clowes (Fantagraphics)
Open Throat by Henry Hoke (MCD)
The Best Possible Experience by Nishanth Injam (Pantheon)
What Happened to Ruthie Ramirez by Claire Jiménez (Grand Central)
Biography of X by Catherine Lacey (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
The Heaven & Earth Grocery Store by James McBride (Riverhead)
Absolution by Alice McDermott (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
Users by Colin Winnette (Soft Skull)

Awards committee chair Louis Bayard said: "This year's list is a powerful reminder that American literature matters more than ever. We are delighted to celebrate these gifted authors and the multivarious worlds they have brought to life." 

Reading with... Su Bristow

photo: Martin Wright

Su Bristow's debut novel, Sealskin, won the Exeter Novel Prize and was shortlisted for the Paul Torday Memorial Prize. She has also written books on herbal medicine (her first profession) and relationship skills. Her second novel, The Fair Folk (Europa Editions, January 23, 2024), is a coming-of-age novel about magic, and the choices that define future generations. Bristow lives in Devon, England.

Handsell readers your book in 25 words or less:

A grown-up fairy story about the lure of charisma and the true nature of the "fair folk," set in the changing countryside of 1950s Britain.

On your nightstand now:

Two books are waiting for me there. The Lost Rainforests of Britain by Guy Shrubsole is about the last remnants of precious temperate rain forest, and what is being done to preserve and reinvigorate them. The other book is a work of fiction based on the extraordinary lives of two women in 1413: Julian of Norwich and Margery Kempe, both visionaries who went to extreme lengths to keep faith with their sense of the truth. For Thy Great Pain Have Mercy on My Little Pain is Victoria Mackenzie's first novel, and it packs a great deal into a mere 161 pages.

Favorite book when you were a child:

There were so many! But I guess the one I returned to over and over again would have to be The Magician's Nephew by C.S. Lewis. It's the origin story of Narnia, and how evil was unintentionally brought in right at the start. It felt important to me, in a way that I couldn't have articulated at the time.

Your top five authors:

Ursula K. Le Guin. Her Earthsea trilogy had a profound effect on me in my teens. The Taoist philosophy that underpins it, and the idea of equilibrium in nature--and of course in magic--struck me with the force of truth. It still does.

Barbara Kingsolver. Her versatility is extraordinary, and I've loved all her books, particularly The Lacuna and Demon Copperhead. I hope there are many more to come.

J.R.R. Tolkien. An obvious choice, maybe, but it's not the writing so much as the depth and breadth of the world he created. He was aiming to set up a mythology for Britain, and he succeeded; his influence is everywhere.

Alan Garner. A master weaver of language, landscape, and legend. He creates songlines for his corner of the British Isles.

Terry Pratchett. The humanity, humour, and passion in his books is breathtaking, not to mention the immense wealth of detail and unforgettable characters.

Book you've faked reading:

I don't do that nowadays. You can have a more interesting conversation about a book if you simply admit that you didn't read it, and think about why. It would only be awkward if you were actually talking to the author and they were a friend (which does happen). Then, you simply keep quiet--a piece of writers' etiquette that we all understand.

Book you're an evangelist for:

At the moment, this would have to be Wilding by Isabella Tree. It's changed my understanding of the British countryside, and challenged a lot of things we've taken for granted for too long, and it sets out some practical ways in which we can begin to restore what we've lost.

Book you've bought for the cover:

The Lost Words by Robert Macfarlane and Jackie Morris. The poems and paintings inside are beautiful, too, but the gorgeous cover gives me pleasure every time I look at the bookshelves.

Book you hid from your parents:

I don't remember hiding books from my parents; they weren't readers themselves and didn't really notice what I was reading. However, my son in his teens was terribly embarrassed by books like The Art of Sexual Ecstasy by Margot Anand and used to hide it behind other books when his friends came round! 

Book that changed your life:

Not one book but many: The Collected Works of C.G. Jung. I can't pick out one book, but I know the ideas he articulated changed the way I saw the world. The collective unconscious, archetypes, the way of individuation; it all helped me to make sense of things, and certainly underpinned my understanding of anthropology and folklore when I came to study it later.

Favorite line from a book:

"It was the day my grandmother exploded."

They say your first line--and definitely your first page--should grab the reader, and this one from The Crow Road by Iain Banks definitely qualifies. The rest of the book doesn't disappoint, either.

Five books you'll never part with:

A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin. See above!

Moominland Midwinter by Tove Jansson. My old paperback is falling to pieces, but the magic and mystery in this story endure. A wise and compassionate story about how we learn to deal with change and get along with all sorts of people.

A Hat Full of Sky by Terry Pratchett. The structure of this coming-of-age story is near perfect, and Pratchett's vision of witches and their "headology" is wonderful. I'm going to be Granny Weatherwax when I grow up.

The Wild Flowers of Britain and Northern Europe by Fitter, Fitter and Blamey. I have books on birds, trees, fungi, and animals, but this is the one I'd keep if I had to lose all the rest. Small enough to slip into a pocket and comprehensive enough to answer most questions that come up on a country walk.

Seamus Heaney's New Selected Poems 1966-1987. I'll never get to the end of this one, and that's a cause for celebration. The man was astonishing.

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

This is a tricky one. Coming back to something that I loved in my 20s could be a big disillusionment: you can't step into the same river twice, as they say. Then, I looked for deep meaning, for high emotion and enormous human dilemmas. Now, I'm more likely to want humour, nuance, and the hope of redemption.

Book Review

YA Review: Snowglobe

Snowglobe by Soyoung Park, trans. by Joungmin Lee Comfort (Delacorte Press, $20.99 hardcover, 384p., ages 12-up, 9780593484975, February 27, 2024)

Snowglobe by Soyoung Park (skillfully translated from the Korean by Joungmin Lee Comfort) is an austere, thrilling, and endlessly surprising YA dystopian novel reminiscent of Black Mirror and Bong Joon-ho's Snowpiercer.

Sixteen-year-old Jeon Chobahm lives on a frozen, post-climate-shift Earth, where most people make their living by walking on human-sized hamster wheels that generate electricity. The power they produce is used by the Snowglobe, a temperate domed superstructure, the population of which is made up entirely of reality TV show actors who provide entertainment in exchange for a life of luxury. After the sudden death of Snowglobe megastar Goh Haeri, the enigmatic and ambitious Director Cha offers Chobahm (a near-exact physical match for Haeri) the chance to escape her life of "punishing monotony" by posing as Haeri and helping to hide her untimely death. But life in the Snowglobe is not as glamorous as it seems on screen--Chobahm is completely isolated from her family, and thrust into stressful confrontations with Haeri's traumatized mother, narcissistic grandmother, and former lover, Yi Bonwhe, heir to the founding family of the Snowglobe broadcasting system. Chobahm is resilient despite the trials, and resolves to "pinch... off any unhappiness that trie[s] to sprout." Until, that is, she receives a mysterious phone call: it's Haeri, and she wants her life back.

Snowglobe is a biting and thought-provoking examination of the contemporary obsession with fame, attention, and luxury. Throughout the novel, Park engages deeply with issues of class and social status, contrasting the bleak and sparse lives of settlement dwellers with the lavish and ostentatious lives of Snowglobe citizens. She also examines the lengths to which people are willing to go to "make it," sacrificing privacy, freedom, and even a life beside their loved ones for a moment in the public eye. Perhaps most importantly, Snowglobe is a story about personal authenticity that asks readers to consider why they would want to live as someone else when they were born to live as themselves. Compelling in its narration and unflinching in its social critique, Snowglobe is a captivating cautionary tale for the influencer age. --Cade Williams, freelance reviewer

Shelf Talker: This biting and thought-provoking YA dystopian tale examines the contemporary obsession with fame and luxury.

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