Shelf Awareness for Thursday, March 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.


BestCellar Book Bar Coming to Clarence, N.Y.

BestCellar Book Bar will open next summer in the new Main Center building at 9560 Main St., Suites 2 and 3, in Clarence, N.Y. Devon Powers, co-owner with her father, Peter Powers, wrote on social media last week: "Some exciting news!! I'm happy to announce that I'm opening a bookstore bar in Clarence, N.Y. called BestCellar Book Bar! A place to go to buy a book, read with a drink in your hand, gather with friends or hold your book club meetings. Doors are set to open June 2024. I hope to see everyone there!"

She told WGRZ: "It's just been so validating. I've read everybody's comments and it's so nice to see that this is what people want in the community.... I've always wanted to have a bookstore; my dad who's going into retirement has always wanted to have a bookstore; so it was a really neat concept of bringing two things together that people love." 

The build-out of the space is currently underway. "In the back there's going to be a private space where people can actually reserve if they want to rent out a space for their book club. It's going to be free," Powers said. 

Developer Paul Stephen II noted that the storefront was one of the last available in the mixed-use building, which has become a hub of primarily women-owned small businesses. "In this building, it's close to 90%," he said. "I think 10 of the 12 businesses are actually women-owned, which is kind of remarkable when you think about it. I think it's a testament to the people of Clarence and the surrounding areas and the small business owners that we cater to." 

Powers added: "It just fits right in with the embroidery shop, and the coffee and the salon. We just feel right at home here. It's a good fit and for it to be prominently women-owned businesses it's amazing. It's the first business I've ever run and everybody's been so welcoming already that it's exciting to move in here."

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Car Crashes into Gotham City Limit in Jacksonville, Fla.

A car crashed through the front window of Gotham City Limit comic bookstore in Jacksonville, Fla., on Monday, injuring a staff member working inside, First Coast News reported. Owner Ben Kingsbury said a woman in the parking lot accelerated instead of hitting the brakes, and crashed through the front of the store. 

"Please pray for [employee] Santana," Gotham City Limit posted on social media. "It's beyond a nightmare."

In an update reel posted yesterday, Kingsbury showed his boarded-up business and said he hoped Gotham City Limit could reopen Thursday. 

Viewpoint Books, Columbus, Ind., Launches Crowdfunder for Expansion 

Beth Stroh, owner of Viewpoint Books in Columbus, Ind., and Katelyn Gosnell Richey, whose gift shop recently closed, "are asking their customers and supporters to help raise money to expand the bookstore into the former gift shop's storefront just down the street," the Republic reported. 

A crowdfunding campaign called HUG--Help Us Grow--would help finance an expansion for the bookstore, which is located at 548 Washington St., into the former Ames Mercantile shop, across the street at 425 Washington St. Viewpoint has been in its current location for about 30 years, but the space is cramped and Stroh believes a second nearby storefront makes sense.

"When Beth approached me with an idea for expansion for Viewpoint and doing it in my space, nothing else made sense to me," Richey wrote in a Facebook post. 

On Leap Day last week, Stroh posted on social media that in 2016, "we purchased Viewpoint Books from Susan and Terry Whittaker. We committed to continuing and expanding the gem of an indie bookstore they started in 1973.... On this 'extra' day of 2024, we're asking you to help us take a big LEAP so we can expand the work that brings such joy to so many.

"Quite simply, we've outgrown our signature shop on the corner of 6th and Washington. We love it--and we won't leave it--but we want to grow. We've found a second lovely storefront where we can expand our collections, improve accessibility, and grow our programs in a space founded on passion for community and love for those who came before us."

As of yesterday, more than $13,000 had been raised. Stroh said Viewpoint needs to be able to determine by mid-March whether it can make a lease commitment to Richey, adding: "We know that we will have to invest at least $35,000 to get the space ready before we can have the first sale." 

Funds pledged by donors would be used to secure the space and equip it with bookshelves, displays and IT systems, among other things, the Republic wrote. If the crowdfunder is successful, Stroh hopes to have at least a soft opening of its new location on Independent Bookstore Day, April 27.

"We feel like we try to be a good neighbor and we try to attract people not just to Viewpoint Books, but to bring them downtown to support other local businesses," she said. "We need more space to keep building a stronger, more vibrant community. Our book groups, mobile book fairs, collaborative events like Silent Book Club, curated book collections, and gift selections need room to grow. As they do, we will better serve more neighbors and visitors in our community," the store says in its HUG campaign.

"Fifty-year-old small businesses in our community are rare," Stroh added. "The most important message I hope to communicate is that we simply want to do more to build community around books and... to keep growing."

B&N Opening Store in South Portland, Maine; Moving Eatontown, N.J., Store

Barnes & Noble is opening a new location in South Portland, Maine, this spring, WGME reported.

The store will reside in a 25,000-square-foot space that previously housed a Bed, Bath and Beyond. The new location will feature a B&N cafe, and the company is eyeing a May opening. This will be the third B&N in Maine.

In Eatontown, N.J., meanwhile, the Asbury Park Press reports that the Monmouth Mall B&N will soon be moving to a new location within the same mall. The bookstore will move from its current corner spot to a space that previously housed the Firebirds Wood Fired Grill and La Maison Fine Furniture. The store will remain open in its current space while the new one is under construction.


Image of the Day: Women's History Month at Book House of Stuyvesant Plaza

Book House of Stuyvesant Plaza, Albany, N.Y., launched its celebration of Women's History Month with support from Sourcebooks, which provided T-shirts with its Women’s History Month logo. Pictured (l. to r.): booksellers Elise, Susan, Kenzie, Cheryl, and Christopher.

Personnel Changes at Tor Publishing Group; Grand Central

At Tor Publishing Group:

Michael Dudding has been promoted to senior associate director of marketing.

Jennifer McClelland-Smith has been promoted to assistant director of marketing.

Julia Bergen has been promoted to senior marketing manager.

Samantha Friedlander has been promoted to marketing associate.

Emily Honer has been promoted to marketing associate.

Erin Robinson has been promoted to publishing operations associate.

Lizzy Hosty has been promoted to publishing strategy associate.


In Grand Central publicity and marketing:

Stef Acquaviva is promoted to publicist.

Kamrun Nesa is promoted to publicity manager.

Leena Oropez is promoted to marketing associate.

Alana Spendley is promoted to marketing manager.

Lauren Sum is promoted to associate publicist.

Storefront Window Mural: Magic City Books, Tulsa, Okla.

"Tulsa artist Kayla Magnuson has finished her original mural on our windows inspired by the upcoming national tour engagement of To Kill a Mockingbird. Stop by to see Kayla’s creation, which will be on display through March," Magic City Books, Tulsa, Okla., posted on social media.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Ed Zwick on Fresh Air

Fresh Air: Ed Zwick, author of Hits, Flops, and Other Illusions: My Fortysomething Years in Hollywood (Gallery Books, $28.99, 9781668046999).

Today Show: Peter Attia, author of Outlive: The Science and Art of Longevity (Harmony, $32, 9780593236598).

NPR's Science Friday: Kyne Santos, author of Math in Drag (Johns Hopkins University Press, $24.95, 9781421448749).

This Weekend on Book TV: Elizabeth Comen on All in Her Head

Book TV airs on C-Span 2 this weekend from 8 a.m. Saturday to 8 a.m. Monday and focuses on political and historical books as well as the book industry. The following are highlights for this coming weekend. For more information, go to Book TV's website.

Saturday, March 9
9:30 a.m. Stephen J. Rockwell, author of The Presidency and the American State: Leadership and Decision Making in the Adams, Grant, and Taft Administrations (University of Virginia Press, $34.50, 9780813950082). (Re-airs Saturday at 9:30 p.m.)

Sunday, March 10
8 a.m. Elizabeth Flock, author of The Furies: Women, Vengeance, and Justice (Harper, $32, 9780063048805). (Re-airs Sunday at 8 p.m.)

8:55 a.m. Jen Gunter, author of The Menopause Manifesto: Own Your Health with Facts and Feminism (Kensington, $18.95, 9780806540665). (Re-airs Sunday at 8:55 p.m.)

10 a.m. Elizabeth Comen, author of All in Her Head: The Truth and Lies Early Medicine Taught Us About Women's Bodies and Why It Matters Today (Harper Wave, $32, 9780063293014). (Re-airs Sunday at 10 p.m.)

2 p.m. Kenneth W. Rendell, author of Safeguarding History: Trailblazing Adventures Inside the Worlds of Collecting and Forging History (Whitman Publishing, $24.95, 9780794850494).

3:30 p.m. Simon Shuster, author of The Showman: Inside the Invasion That Shook the World and Made a Leader of Volodymyr Zelensky (Morrow, $32.99, 9780063307421).

4:30 p.m. Terese Schlachter and Colonel Gregory Gadson, authors of Finding Waypoints: A Warrior's Journey Toward Peace and Purpose (Schaffner Press, $28, 9781639640249).

Books & Authors

Awards: Pol Roger Duff Cooper Winner

Julian Jackson won the £5,000 (about $6,375) Pol Roger Duff Cooper Prize for historical work for France on Trial: The Case of Marshal Pétain. In addition to the cash award, the winner receives a magnum of Pol Roger champagne and a copy of Cooper's autobiography, Old Men Forget.  

Described by the judges as "asking profound, historical questions about how to act in impossible circumstances," the book uses the 1945 trial of Marshal Pétain to explore collusion and its consequences in post-war France. 

Chair of the judges Artemis Cooper called Jackson "one of those rare beasts, a rigorous historian with the skills of a seasoned novelist.... As you read, you are inside that hot, febrile courtroom where Marshal Pétain is being tried: grappling with moral dilemmas, and the testimony of Vichy administrators desperate to exonerate themselves. As for the old man on trial, is he a hero, a traitor, or both? Who needs a thriller when real events make such compelling reading?" 

Attainment: New Titles Out Next Week

Selected new titles appearing next Tuesday, March 12:

Until August: A Novel by Gabriel García Márquez, trans. by Anne McLean (Knopf, $22, 9780593801994) is being released 10 years after the renowned author's death.

Becoming Madam Secretary by Stephanie Dray (Berkley, $29, 9780593437056) is historical fiction about FDR's Secretary of Labor Frances Perkins.

Still See You Everywhere by Lisa Gardner (Grand Central, $30, 9781538765067) is book three in the Frankie Elkin thriller series.

2054: A Novel by Elliot Ackerman and James Stavridis (Penguin Press, $28, 9780593489864) imagines a future U.S. in civil strife after a war with China.

Empire of the Damned by Jay Kristoff, illus. by Bon Orthwick (St. Martin's Press, $32, 9781250245335) is a sequel to Empire of the Vampire.

The Book That Can Read Your Mind by Marianna Coppo (Chronicle, $17.99, 9781797229010) is a magic trick in picture book form.

I Am Extraordinary by Stephen Curry, illus. by Geneva Bowers (Penguin Workshop, $19.99, 9780593386064) is a picture book by the basketball star featuring a girl with hearing loss who wants to play on her school's soccer team.

Selling the Dream: The Billion-Dollar Industry Bankrupting Americans by Jane Marie (Atria, $29, 9781982155773) explores predatory multilevel marketing schemes.

The Price Is Wrong: Why Capitalism Won't Save the Planet by Brett Christophers (Verso, $29.95, 9781804292303) explains why the private sector cannot tackle climate change.

The Unclaimed: Abandonment and Hope in the City of Angels by Pamela Prickett and Stefan Timmermans (Crown, $30, 9780593239056) tells the stories of four people in Los Angeles whose bodies go unclaimed.

The Manicurist's Daughter: A Memoir by Susan Lieu (Celadon, $30, 9781250835048) is by the daughter of refugees whose mother died during plastic surgery.

Happily Never After by Lynn Painter (Berkley, $18, 9780593638019).

Sam the Cooking Guy and the Holy Grill: Easy & Delicious Recipes for Outdoor Grilling & Smoking by Sam Zien (Countryman, $25, 9781682688014).

That's So New York: Short (and Very Short) Stories about the Greatest City on Earth by Dan Saltzstein (Chronicle, $18.95, 9781797224121).

The Lie Detectives: In Search of a Playbook for Winning Elections in the Disinformation Age by Sasha Issenberg (Columbia Global Reports, $17.99, 9798987053621).

The Moon That Turns You Back: Poems by Hala Alyan (Ecco, $17.99, 9780063317475).

IndieBound: Other Indie Favorites

From last week's Indie bestseller lists, available at, here are the recommended titles, which are also Indie Next Great Reads:

I Love You So Much It's Killing Us Both: A Novel by Mariah Stovall (Soft Skull, $28, 9781593767600). "A beautiful punch in the gut like a mosh pit on a Saturday night. Mariah Stovall's debut sweeps us into the tender-yet-vicious embrace of teenage friendship, connecting past, present, and future, and the heroes of post-hardcore, punk, and emo." --Mikey LaFave, Avid Bookshop, Athens, Ga.

A Wild and Heavenly Place: A Novel by Robin Oliveira (Putnam, $28, 9780593543856). "I enjoyed this immersive tale of love, heartbreak, and survival spanning Scotland to rugged Seattle in 1879. Lovers strive to overcome adversity in the reversals of fortunes and unbearable hardships that force life-changing decisions." --Annette Steinmetz, The Well-Read Moose, Coeur d'Alene, Idaho

Love Novel by Ivana Sajko, trans. by Mima Simić (Biblioasis, $15.95, 9781771965989). "Claustrophobic and cutting, this is an honest portrait of a modern marriage and all the tender, violent actions that love can extract. This novel also excellently comments on the unlivable conditions we're collectively spiraling towards." --Torrin Nelson, Queen Anne Book Company, Seattle, Wash.

Ages 4 to 8
The Three Little Tardigrades by Sandra Fay (Godwin Books, $18.99, 9781250776099). "Tardigrades: who knew they were so adventurous and amazing? Not me! Now I do. Holy smokes was this book hilarious, cute, and very educational. An excellent read-aloud, a prime classroom study, or a fun treat to keep at the grandparents'." --Katie Pionk, McLean & Eakin Booksellers, Petoskey, Mich.

Ages 8 to 12
The Selkie's Daughter by Linda Crotta Brennan (Holiday House, $17.99, 9780823454396). "Brigit's mother is a selkie, born in the sea, and she is half-selkie with webbing between her fingers, which she must hide. Brigit learns hard truths about being a part of two very different worlds. A wonderful novel about fighting for who you are." --Kalli King, Rediscovered Books, Boise, Idaho

Teen Readers: An Indies Introduce Title
Shut Up, This Is Serious by Carolina Ixta (Quill Tree Books, $19.99, 9780063287860). "I loved this thoughtful and impactful coming-of-age story! The book is anchored by Belén and Leti's friendship, and the girls face problems with family, school, and growing up. A powerful debut!" Ann Branson, Beach Books, Seaside, Ore.

[Many thanks to IndieBound and the ABA!]

Book Review

Review: Every Time We Say Goodbye

Every Time We Say Goodbye by Natalie Jenner (St. Martin's Press, $29 hardcover, 336p., 9781250285188, May 14, 2024)

Natalie Jenner (The Jane Austen Society) plunges readers into a glittering world of cinema, censorship, and complex relationships in postwar Italy in her third novel, Every Time We Say Goodbye. After her playwriting career takes a disappointing turn, Vivien Lowry (featured in Jenner's Bloomsbury Girls) heads to Rome to work as a script doctor at Cinecittà Studios. She meets a colorful cast of characters--actors, producers, directors--from various countries, all doing their best to enjoy la dolce vita while fighting strict censorship by the Vatican. More poignantly, though, Vivien and her new friends are also still reckoning with their experiences during World War II. Vivien is searching for news of her lost fiancé, David, a POW who may have ended up in Italy.

Jenner unspools Vivien's story alongside that of la scolaretta, a local resistance fighter responsible for taking down a Nazi commander in 1943. Known as "the schoolgirl assassin," the young woman met a gruesome end, but her bravery has inspired a film script--one that Vivien's colleague Nino is determined to slip past the censors. As Vivien plunges into work at the studio, she learns more about the resistance in Italy; the long reach of the Vatican; the tangled network of Hollywood and Roman personalities that both drives the studio forward and thwarts its progress; and the painful personal histories of her colleagues. Levi Bassano, an Italian American writer with questions of his own about the war, becomes Vivien's loyal friend and companion, while John Lassiter, an enigmatic American producer with ties to a famous Italian actress, draws Vivien's attention in a different way. Several of Vivien's friends from Bloomsbury Girls (including art collector Peggy Guggenheim) resurface, and their combined support eventually helps Vivien find clarity.

With warmth and compassion, Jenner explores her characters' triumphs and tragedies: one woman's unplanned pregnancy, another's childhood experiences as a refugee, the constant racism faced by Black actors both at home and abroad. Before Vivien and the other characters can move forward, they must each grapple with the scars left by their pasts. "Perhaps," as one character muses, "examining the past will guide you in ways you can't yet know." Living in the Eternal City, Vivien must face up to her own past and how it affects her present, and decide what kind of future she wants to build.

With lush descriptions, vivid period detail, and fascinating personalities, Jenner's cinematic narrative is shot through with both pain and hope. --Katie Noah Gibson, blogger at Cakes, Tea and Dreams

Shelf Talker: Natalie Jenner's vivid third novel explores cinema, censorship, and complex relationships in Rome after World War II.

Deeper Understanding

Among Friends: Walter Weintz on Peter Workman

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 Walter Weintz, who held several executive positions at Workman Publishing. Here we reproduce his contribution, which focuses on publishing legend Peter Workman.

I arrived at Workman Publishing after preparing for 27 years at St. Martin's, Random House, Simon & Schuster and other houses led by talented executives whose businesses were large, well-oiled machines.

My new home was many things, but no one could ever accuse it of being a machine. Workman at the turn of the 21st century was a spirited, irreverent, scrappy place that preserved the nimbleness of a start-up long after it had become one of the industry's most successful trade houses. It was a great place to work, in spite of the Dickensian conditions--e.g., torn carpets held together with duct tape, a tribute to Peter Workman's frugality. I was delighted to be joining such a creative group, led by a trailblazing publisher who was a true living legend.

It soon became apparent that I had more to learn from Workman than Workman had to learn from me. My job as chief operating officer was to understand the distinctive properties that had made the company so successful, and to protect, nourish and deploy them. It was also, in more practical terms, to help sell the bejesus out of each and every title to each and every sales channel under the sun.

"I like profits as much as the next guy," Peter once told me. "But the way to be profitable is to come up with a strong, original, saleable idea for a book; make it look very special; price it to sell; and then promote it relentlessly--not just for a week or a month, but for as long as it has commerce in it." As I soon discovered, Workman was more profitable than any imprint I'd ever worked for.

Peter's books were his babies. Many arrived long after their due dates--hence the inscription on a Workman tote bag given away one year at an ABA convention: "No Book Before Its Time." Booksellers were not amused by the frequent delays of new titles, though they had great respect for Peter's insistence that no book be published until was as good as could be. They also respected his fierce desire to sell large quantities.

If he didn't think a title had the potential to sell at least 100,000 copies, he wasn't interested. His philosophy was to introduce a small number of new titles each season, and to sell truckloads of each. Fewer titles made it easier to devote the necessary resources and attention to every book. This philosophy worked, year after year: over a third of Workman titles went on to sell more than 100,000 copies, and dozens over a million copies. As far as I know, it is a success rate unmatched by any major publisher in the 20th century.

Many titles took years to reach the million-copy mark. How different from the Big Houses, where it was all about frontlist success and the typical shelf life was (as Calvin Trillin quipped) somewhere between milk and yogurt. Backlist sales were usually around 80% of the Workman imprint's business, and an astonishingly high percentage of titles have never gone out of print. Peter was in it for the long haul.

A great example is 1,000 Places to See Before You Die, which was released in 2003. Author Patricia Schultz was invited to Peter's office one day to discuss a book project he'd dreamed up: would she be interested in writing the text for a book about 100 places in the world that every armchair traveler should visit? Patricia said she'd be happy to discuss it further. A couple of weeks later, Peter asked her to come in again. The concept had changed since their first conversation: it was now 1,000 Places to See Before You Die.

Nine years later, it was published, and became a huge bestseller with many millions of copies in print, plus related books, diaries, and calendars. I'm told that when it was first presented at sales conference, there was a near-mutiny because of the title. "Putting the word 'die' in the title will kill it, Peter. Change the title!" pleaded the sales force. If he'd listened to conventional wisdom, it probably would have disappeared into a faceless sea of spine-out travel books.

1,000 Places to See Before You Die was also tremendous value: almost 1,000 pages of immersive around-the-world explorations for only $18.95. Any other publisher would have charged much more, either because they believed the market could bear a higher price, or because their pre-publication P&L said the retail had to be higher for the book to make money.

Over the years, publishers have gone broke trying to price books the Peter Workman way. But that's because their books weren't as saleable as Peter's. His great genius, and the foundation of his success, was his ability to come up with--and to encourage friends and associates to come up with--ideas for smart, original, saleable books that were strikingly packaged, attractively priced and promoted with flair. Product + Package + Price + Promotion = Profits. It's a pretty simple formula that, in theory, anyone can imitate. And many, over the years, have tried (much to Peter's wrath!). But all have fallen short because the ideas and execution weren't informed by his creativity, drive, ambition and sheer intelligence.

Peter was never satisfied. He always pushed himself and those around him to achieve better results. A cover could always be improved with one more tweak--unless, of course, Paul Hanson put his foot down and declared "it's done." A sales letter could always be improved with a better, more effective pitch. A marketing campaign was always in need of one more smart, original idea.

Peter's belief in his books and their authors was a constant reminder of what makes this business so special. Of course, there's a certain amount of pain and failure and tedium, but if you follow the path that Peter laid out, there's a lot of fun to be had along the way, and ultimately the gratification of having created books that are a source of useful information and/or entertainment for millions of people.

Much has changed since B. Kliban's cat was launched on an unsuspecting world in 1975, but if its founder could visit Workman Publishing today, I am sure he would recognize--and be pleased to see--a company that still bears his indelible imprint on both its spines and its spirit. And that, one suspects, might satisfy even Peter, the perfectionist who professed never to be satisfied.

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