Also published on this date: Tuesday March 26, 2024: Maximum Shelf: The Days I Loved You Most

Shelf Awareness for Tuesday, March 26, 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

Penguin Random House 2023 Sales Up 7.3%, Profit Flat

 

Revenue for Penguin Random House globally in 2023 rose 7.3%, to €4.5 billion (about $4.92 billion), while operating EBITDA was essentially flat, down 0.3%, to €664 million ($720 million), parent company Bertelsmann reported. Overall, Bertelsmann revenue in 2023 slipped 0.4%, to €20.2 billion ($21.9 billion), while group profit rose 18.2%, to €1.3 billion ($1.4 billion).

In the overview of its many operations, Bertelsmann said that one of the year's biggest bestsellers was PRH's Spare by Prince Harry, which sold more than three million copies in the U.S. and six million copies worldwide by PRH and affiliated publishers. It also noted that during 2023 PRH had increased its stake in Sourcebooks to 53% and acquired the publishing assets of Callisto Media, "both among the fastest-growing publishers in the U.S."

Nihar Malaviya

In a letter to PRH employees worldwide, CEO Nihar Malaviya observed that "revenues were up substantially, driven by many publishing successes--both frontlist and backlist--as well as by various mergers and acquisitions we made across our territories. At the heart of our success are our books." He called Spare "a truly global publication."

Malaviya said that profits were flat because of "the ongoing increases in many of our costs. We have taken many actions to combat these increases and to stabilize our cost structure in most of the countries in which we operate. I know that some of these actions were very difficult, and I would like to thank all of you for your hard work as you implemented these changes while continuing to focus on our books and authors during these times. All our initiatives put us on solid footing, and we are now in the best possible position we can be to continue investing in our authors and employees. I am confident about our collective future."

He continued: "I am really excited about our incredible publishing lineup for 2024 and impressed by the creative ways in which teams are approaching the marketplace. I firmly believe that there are many different paths to success in publishing and that together we have created the best environment for various publishing homes and creative visions to thrive. We see this by our internal growth, as new imprints launch and existing imprints expand.... Every voice we publish offers readers entertainment, inspiration, and a source of truth. By reflecting on past experiences and offering insight into new ones, books have the power to bring us together--a power I think the world needs more of."


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Belle Books in Oklahoma City Launches Crowdfunding Campaign

Belle Books Boutique & More in Oklahoma City, Okla., has launched a crowdfunding campaign to help keep the bookstore in business, Fox25 reported.

Owner Courtney Strickland, who opened the bookstore and boutique in 2020, is looking to raise $10,000 through a GoFundMe campaign. Strickland told Fox25 that last year was a struggle, and while she has been applying for other sources of funding, nothing has materialized.

"So I've reached out to the community for help," she said, because "there are some passionate people out there like me that love bookstores, and... that want to see small businesses like mine succeed and so that I can continue to pour into the community."

In addition to carrying an all-ages selection of books by Black authors, Strickland sells clothes and other nonbook items. She also distributes free books to community members, and has so far given away roughly 600 books through a partnership with literacy and education nonprofit Youth First. Every child who enters the store receives a book, and going forward Strickland hopes to expand her offering of literacy and community programs.

On Sunday, April 7, Strickland will host a benefit concert to help raise funds for the bookstore. "There's a lot I would like to do, but I can't do it without the community's help."


True Leaves Bookshop, Princeton, Ill., Moving to Larger Location

True Leaves Bookshop, which opened last October in Princeton, Ill., is moving to a new, larger location, ShawLocal.com reported. The new site for the store is the former Sash Stalter Matson building on Park Avenue West, which is being revitalized by the Bureau County History Center in partnership with the store. From 1913 to 2007, the building was the home of the Princeton Public Library, also known as the Matson Public Library. The building was donated to the History Center in 2013.

True Leaves' future home.

True Leaves co-owner Matthew Adams said, "We are beyond excited to bring True Leaves, Bureau County's only bookshop, to the historic Sash Stalter Matson building. So many folks have shared fond memories of time spent at the Matson Public Library and we hope to honor those experiences by what we bring to the community."

True Leaves will rent the main floor and plans to move into the space in June. Co-owner Angela Adams said the move will allow the business to expand its offerings and host events, including open mics, poetry slams, and book signings. "We're eager to become a gathering place for the community," she said.

Lex Poppens, executive director of the Bureau County Historical Society, commented: "We couldn't be more excited to reopen the building. We've been working hard to give it a new purpose. Having a bookshop as a tenant makes perfect sense." The store will add some History Center products to its mix of new and used books, cards, stationery, stickers, planners, calendars, and journals.

True Leaves will continue in business at its current location until it moves.


Chicago's Bookie's Bookstore Faces Uncertain Future

Bookie's bookstore, the only indie in the Beverly neighborhood on Chicago's Far Southwest Side, is facing an uncertain future due to declining sales. Block Club Chicago reported that last week, owner Keith Lewis posted a photo on social media "detailing the last three months of Bookie's book sales, all of which were well below the number he says the store needs to sell [2,485] each month for Bookie's to stay open in Beverly."

"A bookstore that's one of the only bookstores in a neighborhood should never be empty," he said "And we're empty a lot. A lot. I mean, there are times when there's nobody for hours." He described the social media post as "a little visual reminder that nothing should be taken for granted. We're consistently lagging behind our monthly necessity, and only you can help."

Lewis added that if the trend continues like this, he is not sure Bookie's will make it, but he is fighting to keep the doors open. Bookie's has been in Beverly for 35 years. 

"The thing about having a bookstore in this neighborhood is that it's not as walkable as a lot of North Side neighborhoods. There aren't tourists coming down here, for the most part," he said. "So we rely utterly on the business provided by people shopping, and it's just so much competition."

Some days when looking at his empty bookstore, Lewis said he can see an end to his tenure as a bookseller: "The truth is, a smarter person than me would have closed down years ago. [But] I wouldn't live in a neighborhood without a bookstore. I really won't."


Obituary Note: Lyn Hejinian

Lyn Hejinian, a "central figure in the Language poetry movement of the 1970s and '80s who channeled the seismic social changes and avant-garde artistic climate of the 1960s into work that was both richly lyrical and groundbreaking in its experimentalism," died on February 24, the New York Times reported. She was 82.

Language poetry, also known as Language writing, was largely centered in the San Francisco Bay Area and New York City. Hejinian, who lived on 80 rural acres in Mendocino County, Calif., "helped to seed the movement in 1976, when she acquired a manual letterpress and started Tuumba Press, a showcase for similarly inclined poets including Rae Armantrout, Carla Harryman, Ron Silliman and Charles Bernstein," the Times noted. 

"These poems are as much about how they make meaning as what they mean," said Bernstein, a professor emeritus of English at the University of Pennsylvania who co-edited the newsletter L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E during the movement's early years. "Often the poems evaded any direct message in favor of an attention to the language of the poem and its sonic rhythms."

Influenced by the revolutionary spirit of the antiwar, civil rights, and feminist movements of the 1960s, Hejinian and other aligned poets sought to overturn the social order at the literary level by exploring the open text--a literary work that allows for a multiplicity of points of view and meanings.

She savored her place among the literary mavericks. "We attended and participated in poetry readings that took place two or three or sometimes four times a week, talked until late at night at bars, launched literary journals, hosted radio shows, curated readings and lecture series," she said in a 2020 interview published by the University of California, Berkeley, where she served on the English department faculty for two decades starting in 2001. "We had very little respect for official academia, which, in turn, had very little respect for us."

In 1980, she published her best-known work, My Life, a book-length prose poem written when she was 37 that included 37 sections, each composed of 37 sentences. (When she turned 45, she expanded its structure to 45.) 

"Lyn was experimental not in the sense that her work is austere or especially hard to appreciate, but because her work plays with form and pushes against the borders of genre," Armantrout noted. "It contains snippets of narrative, philosophical meditations, and Whitman-like catalogs in a unique and engaging combination that points to a world without limits."

In 1982, Hejinian and poet Barrett Watten started Poetics Journal, which for 16 years published book-length volumes featuring the work of Language writers like Bruce Andrews, Kit Robinson, and Leslie Scalapino. In 1980s, she made several trips to the Soviet Union and learned Russian, eventually translating Arkadii Dragomoshchenko, a prominent Russian Language poet, who became a close friend.

Her own work continued to evolve, with her later output becoming "looser and wilder," Armantrout said, including her book-length poem The Fatalist (2003), which probed the mysteries of fate and chance. Pulitzer Prize-winning poet John Ashbery called The Fatalist "breathtaking," citing the line "That's what fate is: whatever's happened."

In 2003, Hejinian published the 10-part work My Life in the Nineties, in which she wrote that "everyone is out of place in a comedy."

"We are all clowns," she said in an interview with the Poetry Foundation. "And we feel that. There's some pathos lurking in the disjunct between who one feels oneself to be and who one feels others think one is, or between just treatment and unjust treatment, or within different social and economic contexts.... The gap between laughter and weeping is often a tiny one."


Notes

Image of the Day: Ripped Bodice LA Hosts Christina Hwang Dudley

Christina Hwang Dudley celebrated the launch of her romance novel Pride and Preston Lin (Third State Books)--a contemporary AAPI take on Jane Austen's Pride & Prejudice--at The Ripped Bodice in Los Angeles, Calif. Dudley (far right, in blue dress) was in conversation with author Suzanne Park. Dudley's launch week tour also included stops at Books, Inc., in Palo Alto and Third Place Books in Seattle. (photo: Stephanie Lim, CEO and co-founder of Third State Books)

Personnel Changes at IPG; Scribner

At IPG:

Tashina Richardson has been promoted from supply chain manager to senior manager, supply chain.

Travis Hale has been promoted from inside sales representative to trade sales representative, central.

---

Georgia Brainard has been promoted to publicist at Scribner.


Media and Movies

Media Heat: Saul Perlmutter on Here & Now

Today:
NPR's Here & Now: Saul Perlmutter, co-author of Third Millennium Thinking: Creating Sense in a World of Nonsense (Little, Brown Spark, $30, 9780316438100).

Tomorrow:
Good Morning America: Kathryn M. Ireland, author of A Life in Design: Celebrating 30 Years of Interiors (CICO Books, $50, 9781800652774).

Sherri Shepherd Show: Melanie Brown, author of Brutally Honest (Quadrille Publishing, $14.99, 9781837831562).

Tamron Hall: Rebecca Quin, author of Becky Lynch: The Man: Not Your Average Average Girl (Gallery, $28.99, 9781982157258).

The View: Coleman Hughes, author of The End of Race Politics: Arguments for a Colorblind America (Thesis, $30, 9780593332450).

Jennifer Hudson Show: Jenn Drummond, author of BreakProof: 7 Strategies to Build Resilience and Achieve Your Life Goals (Mango, $29.99, 9781684814350).

Kelly Clarkson Show: Alice Randall, author of My Black Country: A Journey Through Country Music's Black Past, Present, and Future (Atria/Black Privilege Publishing, $28.99, 9781668018408).

Late Show with Stephen Colbert: Fareed Zakaria, author of Age of Revolutions: Progress and Backlash from 1600 to the Present (W.W. Norton, $29.99, 9780393239232).


TV: Under the Bridge

A trailer has been released for the Hulu series Under the Bridge, based on Rebecca Godfrey's 2005 book. Entertainment Weekly reported that the project, from writer/creator Quinn Shephard and showrunner Samir Mehta, stars Oscar nominee Lily Gladstone (Killers of the Flower Moon) and Emmy nominee Riley Keough (Daisy Jones and the Six). Under the Bridge premieres on Hulu April 17.

"Neither of us wanted to make yet another classic murder mystery," Mehta said. "We really wanted to find a way to elevate the genre and do something new with it.... It was a crime book that didn't feel like a crime book. There was a real gentleness and femininity to the way that the story was told. I felt like it offered a lot of space to tell a story both about Reena, but also about childhood and the stories of the other teenagers."

In addition to Godfrey and Under the Bridge, the team also worked with murder victim Reena Virk's (Vritika Gupta) father Manjit Virk to option the rights to his memoir about the incident, 2008's Reena: A Father's Story. Ezra Faroque Khan plays Manjit in the Hulu series, which also weaves in flashbacks to the family's life before their daughter's death.



Books & Authors

Awards: Waterstones Children's Book Winner

Greenwild: The World Behind the Door by Pari Thomson, illustrated by Elisa Paganelli won the overall 2024 Waterstones Children's Book Prize, as well as the young readers book category. The awards are voted for by booksellers, with category winners receiving £2,000 (about $2,525), and the overall winner getting an additional £3,000 (about $3,790).

Bea Carvalho, Waterstones head of books, commented: "Pari Thomson's debut enchanted our booksellers with its sweeping escapism and standard-setting lyrical worldbuilding. At once a fast-paced adventure story and a heartfelt entreaty to care for the natural world, Greenwild is a timeless fantasy tale of friendship, mystery, and the magic and beauty to be found in nature. We are extremely proud to present this wonderful debut as the 20th winner of the Waterstones Children's Book Prize: we cannot wait to see what Pari Thomson does next."

Other category winners were The Search for the Giant Arctic Jellyfish by Chloe Savage (illustrated book) and Thieves' Gambit by Kayvion Lewis (older readers).


Book Review

Review: A Good Life

A Good Life by Virginie Grimaldi, trans. by Hildegarde Serle (Europa Editions, $28 hardcover, 288p., 9798889660248, May 28, 2024)

In the novel A Good Life, French author Virginie Grimaldi delivers a sensitive, familial love story about the unrivaled, transformative bond of sisterhood.

The book is set in the beautiful Basque countryside, where the adult Delorme sisters, Emma and Agathe, are reunited after a five-year estrangement. The two are forced to come together to spend one last summer vacation at the home of their beloved--now deceased--paternal grandmother, Mima. The seaside dwelling--about to be sold--holds dear memories that have anchored the sisters throughout their lives, despite their differences.

Emma, the older sister by five years, is a practical wife and mother, now approaching her 40s. Obstinate Emma resented her sister when she was first born--"My sister was born this morning. She's ugly... Daddy asks me if I'm pleased, I say no." However, the responsible, protective, and exceedingly reliable Emma has spent her life looking out for and worrying about Agathe--a still-single vegetarian; an impetuous free spirit who can be disorderly, snarky, and unhinged. Agathe suffers from panic attacks that were spurred on in early childhood by the divorce of the girls' parents.

During the week shared at Mima's house for the last time, the Delorme sisters relive and revisit bygone stories. Very short, evocative chapters render slice-of-life remembrances that take readers through episodes that defined and shaped the women's childhoods and teenage years--and probe stories of family and other loves and losses sustained into adulthood. These enlightening scenes are contrasted against Emma and Agathe and their lives in the present. They come to discover how Mima and the "good times" they shared via her influence at the Basque house every summer served to calm and steady them through the storms of life--the most notable being their grappling with personal bereavement over their father's absence and the contention manifested in their mother's subsequent emotional instability. The deep challenges that befall the family mark the women's identities, personalities, and coping methods. Tensions build in the narrative as Emma and Agathe ultimately confront each other and tend to the wounds that drove them apart.

Grimaldi's concise prose, translated by Hildegarde Serle, is striking and vivid, painting a sympathetic portrait of the enduring bond of sisterhood. Readers will fall under the spell of a compassionately revealed story that blends poignancy and humor in depicting the transcendental nature of familial love and forgiveness. --Kathleen Gerard, blogger at Reading Between the Lines

Shelf Talker: An evocative, powerful love story about two adult sisters forced to reconcile their lives at their grandmother's seaside home in the Basque Country.


The Bestsellers

Top-Selling Self-Published Titles

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

1. A Touch of Chaos by Scarlett St. Clair
2. The Teacher by Freida McFadden
3. Twisted Love by Ana Huang
4. The Dead Guy Next Door by Lucy Score
5. Never Lie by Freida McFadden
6. Where's Molly by H.D. Carlton
7. Ask for Andrea by Noelle West Ihli
8. Storms and Secrets by Claire Kingsley
9. Haunting Adeline by H.D. Carlton
10. The Reason I Married Him by Meghan Quinn

[Many thanks to IndieReader.com!]


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