Also published on this date: Wednesday March 20, 2024: Maximum Shelf: Bound to the Shadow Prince

Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, March 20, 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.


Shelf Life Books, Richmond, Va., Staff Unionizes

Shelf Life Books employees (from left) Smokey Powers, Neda Massalha, Athena Palmer, James de la Rama.

The staff of Shelf Life Books, Richmond, Va., has decided to form a union, and after all five booksellers signed union authorization cards, management chose voluntarily to recognize the union. Negotiations with management on a contract will begin later this week, the union said.

The union is affiliated with United Food & Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 400, which represents 35,000 workers in the grocery, retail, health care, food processing, service, and other businesses in Maryland, Virginia, Washington, D.C., West Virginia, Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee.

The workers' organizing committee said: "We're proud to be the first booksellers in Richmond to unionize. As we look forward to negotiating our first union contract, we won't be starting from scratch thanks to the work of our union siblings at Politics and Prose and Solid State Books, who have negotiated groundbreaking contracts that inspired us to unionize in the first place."

Shelf Life co-owner Berkley McDaniel told Richmond BizSense that the store welcomes the union, saying, "We want Shelf Life Books to radiate positive energy, both internally among staff and externally in the community. We look forward to working through the union to create the best possible environment for upholding our values."

Shelf Life Books was originally a used bookstore called Chop Suey. In 2021, the store was bought by Chris and Berkley McDaniel, who changed its name a year ago. It has one level of new books and five rooms of used books.

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Craig Popelars Joins Milkweed Editions as V-P, Sales & Marketing

Craig Popelars

Craig Popelars has joined Milkweed Editions in the newly created role of v-p, sales & marketing. He was formerly publisher of Tin House Books, which he joined in 2019, and earlier was associate publisher of Algonquin Books, where he worked for 25 years. During his career, Popelars has helped launch and promote many bestselling and critically acclaimed works by authors such as Morgan Talty, Hanif Abdurraqib, Ross Gay, and Julia Alvarez.

Daniel Slager, publisher and CEO of Milkweed, said, "We are thrilled to welcome Craig to the Milkweed team. We've had some wind in our sails in the marketplace over the last few years, and we are all very excited to build on it."

Popelars commented, "I've admired Milkweed's storied publishing program ever since I wrote my very first bookstore shelf-talker for Larry Watson's Montana 1948 way back in 1993. I'm both honored and excited to join an indie program that's dedicated to publishing such important, engaging, and inspiring books and authors."

Suzanne Herz Returning to PRH as Publisher, John Grisham

Suzanne Herz is rejoining Penguin Random House as publisher, John Grisham, effective April 15. She will oversee the company's publishing strategy for the John Grisham brand, which will now be part of the sales and corporate marketing departments. Herz and Grisham have worked together on nearly 40 of his titles. The company has published at least one Grisham title a year; since his debut with The Firm in 1991, more than 400 million of his books have been sold worldwide.

Suzanne Herz

Herz started her career in the Putnam publicity department and held a variety of leadership positions at the company for three decades, most recently as executive v-p, publishing director of Doubleday and publisher of Vintage & Anchor Books. Last year she had accepted PRH's voluntary separation offer and left the company in December, but agreed to act as a consultant, overseeing Grisham's frontlist and backlist in coordination with Doubleday.

Grisham will continue to be published under the Doubleday colophon, and his central publishing support and sales teams remain in place. His next book, his 50th, is Camino Ghosts, which Doubleday is publishing in May.

In related news, Lauren Weber is being promoted to executive director, brand development. She currently oversees the day-to-day Grisham marketing activities, brand partnerships, newsletters, and social channels. She joined the company in 2012 as Herz's assistant.

B&N Opening New Stores in Meriden, Conn., & Gainesville, Fla., Today

Barnes & Noble will open its new Meriden, Conn., bookstore today, March 20, with author Liv Constantine cutting the ribbon and signing copies of her books. The store is located in the Townline Square Annex at 533 S. Broad St. 

Also today, B&N is launching a new bookstore in Butler Plaza at 3728 SW Archer Rd., Gainesville, Fla., with author Ginny Myers Sain hosting a ribbon-cutting ceremony and book signing at the grand opening celebration. The store will also feature an updated B&N Café.

"In 2013, in the depths of the dark years for booksellers, Gainesville lost its Barnes & Noble," the company noted. "Now that real bookstores are thriving, it is with great pride that Barnes & Noble returns to Gainesville. We are opening beautiful new bookstores and could not be more pleased to return to Butler Plaza."

RISE Bookselling Conference: Green Bookselling

A Monday morning panel at the RISE Bookselling Conference in Lisbon, Portugal, earlier this week focused on sustainable bookselling, with panelists from Germany, Slovakia, and France discussing the steps they've taken to make their stores more sustainable.

Maria Hamrefors, chairwoman of the Swedish Booksellers Association, served as moderator, while Svenja Esch, owner of Lesumer Lesezeit in Bremen, Germany, Anna Porubcová, head of sustainability for Slovakian book chain Martinus Bookshop, and Mathilde Charrier, a bookseller in Paris and member of the Association pour l'écologie du livre (Association for Ecology of the Book), made up the panel.

Esch explained how her 50-square-meter (approximately 540 square feet) store was chosen to be a "blueprint" store for a program by the Börsenverein, the German association of booksellers, publishers, and distributors, to become climate neutral.

The process began around November 2021, with a visit from an outside consultant who assessed the bookstore's carbon emissions, factoring in heating, lighting, electricity usage, computer systems, and more. She noted that for the purposes of this program, the carbon footprint of the individual books she carries was not counted. There was a lot of "heated discussion" around that in the beginning, Esch recalled, but they decided not to include those supply-chain emissions in the shop's footprint and instead focus on things booksellers could more directly control.

Lesumer Lesezeit

That initial assessment revealed that Esch's bookstore had a footprint of about 15 tons of carbon, and since the program began, Esch has been able to reduce that footprint by about half. As a renter, Esch cannot control things like putting in solar panels or completely overhauling the building's heating system. Instead, she has taken "a million little steps" toward sustainability, including putting in new, energy efficient lighting, and installing thermostats that can automatically switch off the heat. She recalled being "astonished" by just how much heating contributed to the store's footprint, and she noted that even small steps in that regard can make an impact.

As a place to start, she suggested that if possible, booksellers find a consultant or outside expert to assess their store's emissions. Without that knowledge, it is hard to know what areas need the most improvement. Esch also touched on compensating, or off-setting, carbon emissions. She supports a number of carbon compensation programs in her area and said she chose those because she knows what work they're doing and can understand that her support is having an impact.

Esch hopes soon to get her store's emissions down to about three tons of carbon, and called it a "game changer" that her building was recently purchased by a new owner interested in sustainable improvements like solar panels. She also referred to her store's return rate of a little over 5% as a "soft spot," and she plans to make reducing returns her "next big project."

Porubcová explained that she is responsible for implementing sustainable solutions for a bookstore chain that has 17 bricks-and-mortar locations in Slovakia and one in Czechia, as well as an online store. Martinus has about 250 full-time employees, and part of Porubcová's work is preparing the chain for Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance reporting, which will become mandatory in the European Union for companies of that size and larger.

In terms of the practical improvements that Martinus has made, Porubcová called a lot of them "low-hanging fruit," though she did highlight three particular initiatives. The first was measuring the company's carbon emissions, with scope 3 emissions, including supply-chain emissions, being by far the hardest to measure accurately. The bookstore also started selling secondhand books, and while it was done in the interest of sustainability, Porubcová cautioned that they do not yet have hard data on the climate benefits of selling used books compared to new books. Martinus has also implemented solutions for energy optimization, but those were mostly the result of an energy crisis rather than the environment.

Porubcová said the most important thing for her, and anyone else trying to implement sustainable solutions in large companies, is having management on their side. In her case, it "took some time," but gradually they became "more and more on board." She also agreed with Esch on the value of having outside experts accurately assess emissions. And for returns, she reported that her company's returns rate was about 14% in 2019, which combines the rates for both the bricks-and-mortar stores and the online store. When separated, she said, the rate for the bricks-and-mortar stores is much higher than the online store.

Charrier recalled that when she began her career as a bookseller some four years ago, she was "shocked" to see so many "not very sustainable practices," particularly returns. She felt she "didn't want to do my job like this," and wrote an article about bookselling and unsustainable practices. That led her to meeting others interested in ecology and sustainability and eventually to the founding of the Association pour l'écologie du livre and the publication of a manifesto providing a "systemic vision of ecology" in the field of books.

Last December, the association put out a call urging booksellers in France and Belgium to stop ordering new books for their stores. The call was intended as a radical way to start a conversation about the "overproduction" inherent to the book market. It was an "excuse" to talk about some of the systemic problems in the industry, and while she said the campaign was "not perfect," neither is the current system.

Charrier said her bookstore still orders new titles from small and independent publishers, as it is "important to defend them," but tries to order no more than twice per week. She and her colleagues have found that most customers are "completely okay to wait" once they understand the reasons for it.


During the 2024 conference, RISE Bookselling and the EIBF released a new study on sustainability in the bookselling sector. Based on visits and interviews with booksellers from 50 bookstores across 15 countries, the study identifies practical steps booksellers can take toward sustainability. It can be downloaded here. --Alex Mutter


Image of the Day: Chelsea Clinton Visits Book Passage

Book Passage at the San Franciso Ferry building hosted a Women's History Month event with Chelsea Clinton. The event featured a meet & greet, photo opportunity, and signing for Clinton's children's book series She Persisted (Philomel). Pictured: Clinton (fourth from left) with Book Passage staffers.

Personnel Changes at Broadside PR

Kate Lloyd has joined Broadside PR as a literary publicist. She began her career at Viking/Penguin Books before moving to Scribner, where she was the long-time deputy director of publicity. Lloyd has worked as an independent publicist since 2021, specializing in literary fiction, memoir, and narrative nonfiction.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Catherine Coldstream on Fresh Air

Fresh Air: Catherine Coldstream, author of Cloistered: My Years as a Nun (St. Martin's Press, $30, 9781250323514).

CBS Mornings: Mia Armstrong, author of I Am a Masterpiece! (Random House Books for Young Readers, $19.99, 9780593567975).

The View: Gisele Bündchen, author of Nourish: Simple Recipes to Empower Your Body and Feed Your Soul (Clarkson Potter, $35, 9780593580486).

TV: The Good Daughter

Peacock has picked up The Good Daughter, a limited series based on the 2017 bestselling novel by Karin Slaughter, who will write all episodes and executive produce, Deadline reported. Starring Jessica Biel (Candy, The Sinner), the project is from Fifth Season and Bruna Papandrea's Made Up Stories. 

The Good Daughter reunites Papandrea's company with Slaughter after they collaborated on the Netflix limited series adaptation of her novel Pieces of Her. Papandrea, Steve Hutensky, and Casey Haver executive produce for Fifth Season-based Made Up Stories (Big Little Lies, Anatomy of a Scandal); Biel and Michelle Purple exec produce for Iron Ocean.

Books & Authors

Awards: Republic of Consciousness U.S. & Canada Winner

Lojman by Ebru Ojen, translated by Aron Aji and Selin Gökçesu (City Lights Publishers) has won the second annual Republic of Consciousness Prize, U.S. and Canada, designed to celebrate "the commitment of independent presses to fiction of exceptional literary merit."

Prize founder and jury chair Lori Feathers said: "On behalf of the prize jury, I congratulate City Lights Publishers, author Ebru Ojen, and translators Aron Aji and Selin Gökçesu for this arresting novel set in Turkish Kurdistan. We believe that Lojman and its journey to North American readers exemplifies the passion, vision, and risk-taking for which the Prize was founded. It is our hope that this recognition will bring new readers to Ms. Ojen's work and foster City Lights' commitment to surprising and original fiction."

A total of $35,000 will be distributed to the presses, authors, and translators named as finalists for the prize. Each press included in the longlist will receive $2,000. The five shortlisted books will be awarded an additional $3,000 each, split equally between the publisher and author, or publisher, author, and translator, where applicable.

Reading with... Victoria Aveyard

photo: Lucas Passmore

Victoria Aveyard was born and raised in East Longmeadow, Mass., a small town known only for the worst traffic rotary in the continental United States. She currently splits her time between the East and West coasts. As an author and screenwriter, she uses her career as an excuse to read too many books and watch too many movies. She is the author of the Red Queen and Realm Breaker series, the final installment of which, Fate Breaker, was recently published by HarperTeen.

Handsell readers your book in 25 words or less:

When the typical heroes fail, the ragtag B team steps up to save the world. It's Lord of the Rings meets Guardians of the Galaxy.

On your nightstand now:

My nightstand pile is a mix of currently reading (for pleasure or research) and to be read.

I'm working my way through Fairy Tale by Stephen King, and I find myself extremely anxious over the fate of an old German shepherd. I can handle pretty much anything in text, but dogs in danger really test me.

I also have a pair of books I'm reading for research right now: Black Flags, Blue Waters by Eric Jay Dolin and Sea of Faith by Stephen O'Shea.

As for the TBR: What the River Knows by Isabel Ibañez, Legendborn by Tracy Deonn, and Divine Rivals by Rebecca Ross are all waiting in the wings!

Favorite book when you were a child:

The first book to really grip me was Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine. I must have read it a dozen times when I was seven or eight, and it never got old. I was enamored with the world and the characters, as well as the concept of falling into a book. I was also deeply obsessed with the Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis. Obviously, I started with The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (I had a beautiful, illustrated edition), but my favorite novel in the series is The Horse and His Boy. It's the only installment entirely grounded within the magical world, so to speak, and gave us, I think, the biggest view of the realm. Not to mention one my favorite female characters, Aravis Tarkheena, who I idolized when I was little.

Your top five authors:

Obviously, this is not set in stone, but these came to mind quickly. I am forever indebted to J.R.R. Tolkien and George R.R. Martin for the inspiration I've leeched out of their work, as well as Stephen King, who continues to boggle my mind. I'm also endlessly jealous of Megan Whalen Turner, who can somehow balance being both exceedingly intelligent and impossibly entertaining. I am also eagerly awaiting the next Katherine Arden novel!

Book you've faked reading:

Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton. It was a summer reading assignment in school, and something about being forced to read a book always made me angry. It wasn't the book's fault my teacher assigned it, but I hated it all the same. And now my own books are on some summer reading lists, so I don't blame anyone if they hate my books on sight, either.

Book you're an evangelist for:

The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden, as well as her entire Winternight series. I was late to join the craze, and it was absolutely one of the best reading experiences of the last decade. This is always my recommendation when someone is looking for a fantasy series. More recently, I've also been passing around my copy of Bright Young Women by Jessica Knoll. It isn't often you find a book that is both important and engaging, but Jessica Knoll knocked it out of the park.

Book you've bought for the cover:

Circe by Madeline Miller as well as A Thousand Ships and Stone Blind by Natalie Haynes. I've been a sucker for Greek mythology since D'Aulaires' Book of Greek Myths sucked me in as a child, and I love the evocative symbolism and artful simplicity currently trending in mythology retellings.

Book you hid from your parents:

Technically every book I read before going to college. I was absolutely scolded for reading at the dinner table or when caught reading under the covers well after bedtime. But neither of my parents were very curious about the content of what I was reading. I did hide quite a lot of fan fiction, both what I was reading and writing myself, largely because, at least when I was growing up, I was very embarrassed about it and had no idea how to explain what fan fiction was without sounding like an absolute loser. I'm very glad fan fiction is now a point of pride in the reading community.

Book that changed your life:

I would be lying if I didn't say The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien. It shifted my entire being and opened my eyes not just to what I loved, but to what I had to do with my life. Unfortunately, my first copy fell apart, but I lugged that brick around for all of seventh grade. She earned a good death.

Favorite line from a book:

"I feel that as long as the Shire lies behind, safe and comfortable, I shall find wandering more bearable: I shall know that somewhere there is a firm foothold, even if my feet cannot stand there again." --The Fellowship of the Ring, J.R.R. Tolkien

This quote has stuck with me through the years, both for its poignancy and tragedy. So much of my favorite works circle around the concept of a fading world or disappearing age, the idea that something you hold is already slipping through your fingers. I feel like that a lot, so I take comfort in Frodo's words--the good thing still exists, even if it no longer exists for you.

Five books you'll never part with:

I'm getting repetitive, but I have an illustrated edition of The Lord of the Rings that I bought with all my birthday money when I was 13. It has lovely illustrations by Alan Lee, and I've taken it with me for over 20 years now. I also have a George R.R. Martin signed edition of A Dance with Dragons that I waited several hours in line for. It was the first book signing I ever attended. I also have my lovely collection of Tolkien universe reference books that I've had since middle school, including my very battered Atlas of Middle-Earth. My mom also has my old copies of the Maisie books by Aileen Paterson, a Scottish children's book series I read growing up. My granny used to send them over to us from Scotland, along with annuals of The Broons and Oor Wullie, both by R.D. Low and Dudley D. Watkins. I'm very sentimental about those as well--they're Scottish comics from the newspapers, going back to before World War II, and written in Scots! I used to read them all the time as a kid and didn't even realize I was technically reading another language. 

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

I can't say I would enjoy having my heart ripped out by George R.R. Martin's A Storm of Swords, but that would certainly be an experience. Probably Megan Whalen Turner's Queen's Thief series. Or I wish I had read Tamora Pierce's Alanna books when I was in middle school, instead of as an adult. They were fantastic, but I can't imagine my obsession if I got them when I was 12.

Book Review

YA Review: Thirsty

Thirsty: A Novel by Jas Hammonds (Roaring Brook Press, $19.99 hardcover, 336p., ages 13-up, 9781250816597, May 14, 2024)

Jas Hammonds, winner of the 2023 Coretta Scott King John Steptoe New Talent Award for We Deserve Monuments, delivers another exceptional work of YA contemporary fiction in their scintillating sophomore title, Thirsty, about a young woman desperate to be seen and valued.

Eighteen-year-old Blake, girlfriend Ella, and friend Annetta are spending the summer pledging the Serena Society, which is, as Annetta puts it, "a club for powerful, badass women of color." Entrance seems a foregone conclusion for Ella and Annetta, whose mothers are Serena alumnae. Blake, though, isn't as sure about her own acceptance; she's the daughter of a Black pilot and a white night-shift 7-Eleven employee and the first in her family to go to college. Additionally, both Ella and Annetta grew up around women of color, an experience "different from everything [Blake has] ever known"--her white mother never even learned how to style her hair.

So, if the partying of the Serena girls is as "next level" as Blake has heard, she will work harder to impress the beautiful Serena Society president and "Big Lesbian on Campus," Roxanne Garcia. Blake knows how to be the life of the party--"Arrive looking fine as hell.... Keep up with the heaviest drinker in the room"--and hopes she'll get in by leaning into her "wild" reputation. But she gets sloppier with every party. Ella begins sending Blake home, while Ella stays and parties with Roxanne. Annetta confronts Blake about her drinking, but Ella thinks their friend is overreacting. Meanwhile, Blake--conflicted, anxious, and depressed--doesn't know what to do. So she keeps drinking.

Hammonds depicts alcoholism with spectacular accuracy, including the heady, dizzying, warm rush of the first few drinks. In the beginning, drinking gives Blake "That Feeling": "swollen lips, invincibility, sexiness, power." As she gets drunk, though, her thoughts become disjointed, the writing staccato. Intense hangxiety makes Blake's physical and emotional state spiral, even as her "end result looks like nothing but up": cocktail parties, country-club dinners, and a "fine ass girlfriend." While the conclusion feels a bit long on the romantic story and short on the recovery, Thirsty is accessible, energetic, and never over-burdened by the heft of the issues Hammonds deftly covers. Hammonds crafts with care, giving time and space to the many facets of Blake's identity while highlighting a kind of addiction story that is rarely told. Thirsty is as effervescent as it is weighty. --Siân Gaetano, children's and YA editor, Shelf Awareness

Shelf Talker: A CSK John Steptoe New Talent Award winner delivers a scintillating sophomore title about a young woman desperate to be seen and valued.

The Bestsellers

Top-Selling Self-Published Titles

The bestselling self-published books last week as compiled by

1. The Teacher by Freida McFadden
2. Twisted Love by Ana Huang
3. Where's Molly by H.D. Carlton
4. Never Lie by Freida McFadden
5. King of Wrath by Ana Huang
6. My Dark Desire by Parker S. Huntington and L.J Shen
7. The Unwanted Wife by L. Steele
8. Ask for Andrea by Noelle West Ihli
9. Haunting Adeline by H.D. Carlton
10. The Reason I Married Him by Meghan Quinn

[Many thanks to!]

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