Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, March 27, 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: Up 0.4% in 2023; Down 2.5% in December

Total net book sales in 2023 in the U.S. inched up 0.4%, to $12.57 billion, compared to 2022, representing sales of 1,225 publishers and distributed clients as reported to the Association of American Publishers. In December, total net book sales slipped 2.5%, to $920.7 million.

For the year, trade revenue fell 0.3%, to $8.9 billion. Sales of trade hardcovers rose 0.4%, to $3.3 billion; paperbacks fell 2%, to $3.1 billion; mass market fell 22.9%, to $140 million; and special bindings were up 2.2%, to $210 million. For the year, e-book sales rose 0.6%, to $1 billion; digital audio rose 14.9%, to $864 million; and physical audio fell 16.2%, to $12.9 million.

Sales by category in 2023 compared to 2022:

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Beloved Books, Linden, Mich., Has New Owner, 19

Beloved Books, a new and used bookstore in Linden, Mich., has a new owner, WNEM reported. Nineteen-year-old Olivia Porter, who previously worked at a library in Linden, purchased the bookstore from the store's previous owner for $1.

"One day I was just working in the library right behind," Porter recalled, "and I learned that the bookstore was going to be shutting down and the lady there was going to retire after 21 years. I was heartbroken. I grew up going to this bookstore."

Porter told ABC12 that she started talking to the previous owner about taking it over last July. At one point, she was "very hesitant" about doing it, but decided to take the plunge. Since buying the store, Porter has been hosting children's storytimes and movie nights, and she plans to increase those community events going forward.

She told WNEM: "A lot of my books, you can't find them anymore. I love the selection I have."

LIT Bookbar Opens in Richmond, Tex.

LIT Bookbar, a bookstore and cocktail bar, opened earlier this month in Richmond, Tex., Houston Public Media reported.

Located at 611 Jackson St., Suite B, the shop carries a general-interest inventory of new titles and serves a variety of cocktails. Owner Jillian Reed told HPM she was inspired to open a bookstore and bar because of a book club she joined during the pandemic. "I just kind of had the thought--'everybody needs this, not just moms in a specific neighborhood,' " Reed recalled.

Book clubs are a big part of Reed's event plans, as are open mics, silent reading clubs, and more. Reed held a grand opening celebration for the bookstore on March 7, and since then, Reed and her team have been "absolutely shocked" and "grateful" for the enthusiasm the store has received.

Reed added that she was "excited about the future because I have found this community of people that have a similar goal."

Binc Launches New Scholarship for Aspiring Writer-booksellers

The Book Industry Charitable Foundation has announced the Susan Kamil Scholarship for Emerging Writers, a new $10,000 scholarship, to be given to five booksellers or comic retailers, that will provide aspiring writer-booksellers the financial support to focus on a full-length manuscript. The scholarship was established by Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter and author Charles Duhigg and his wife, Liz Alter, a professor of biology at California State University Monterey Bay. Binc is administering the scholarship.

Any writer working on a full-length manuscript, graphic novel, or comic who is currently employed at a physical book or comic store in the U.S. and has been for a minimum of three months is eligible. The application period began March 25 and runs through April 7. To learn more about eligibility and apply, click here

Kamil was executive v-p and publisher of Random House when she died in 2019. Her publishing career, spanning more than 40 years, began in the 1970s working in the children's book division of Macmillan. Over those years she was known for recognizing new literary voices and introducing them to the public.

"She so loved writers," said Duhigg. "It was never about what was best for Susan, but about how she could help an author find their voice and their story--and then share that story with readers. She devoted her life to this business, and I hope she would be happy to know that she continues to inspire emerging writers and support their careers."

He added: "I've been lucky to meet many booksellers over the years and have always been struck by their passion and enthusiasm for getting books in the hands of readers. I wanted to give back to this great community of book lovers, and know from friends of booksellers and store owners that many are writers themselves. I hope this helps someone who loves to write and is working on a draft; that it gives them a boost and helps to push them over the finish line."

The panel of judges deciding the first five scholarships are Chriscynethia Floyd, v-p and publisher of Our Daily Bread Publishing; Lillian Li, author of Number One Chinese Restaurant and Bad Asians (2025); Lindsay Lynch, author of Do Tell and a book buyer for Parnassus Books, Nashville, Tenn.; and Jonathan Putnam, author of the Lincoln & Speed Mystery series. 

"We are so grateful for Charles' and Liz's support," said Binc executive director Pam French. "Their generosity has the power to change the lives of booksellers and comic retailers who also have a passion to write and create. I look forward to reading more stories from book people."

Obituary Note: Vernor Vinge 

Author and professor of mathematics Vernor Vinge, who "was noted for introducing the technological singularity concept (AKA the Singularity) and known for his gripping hard science fiction," died March 20, Locus magazine reported. He was 79.

His first published work of science fiction was "Apartness" in 1965. Other notable short fiction includes "Bookworm, Run!" (1966) and "The Peddler's Apprentice," which was written with his wife, Joan D. Vinge (1975). He also published two Hugo Award-winning novellas: Fast Times at Fairmont High (2001) and The Cookie Monster (2003).  

Vinge’s debut novel, Grimm's World, was published in 1969. A Fire Upon the Deep (1992), the first book in the Zones of Thought series, won the Hugo Award, while the second title in the series, A Deepness in the Sky (1999), took the Hugo Award, John W. Campbell Memorial Award, and Prometheus Award. The Children of the Sky (2011) was the third novel in the series. Other notable books include Hugo Award winner Rainbows End (2006). 

His nonfiction work included the 1993 paper "The Coming Technological Singularity: How to Survive in the Post-Human Era," which introduced the concept and greatly influenced post-singularity SF, Locus noted.

In a Facebook post, author David Brin wrote, in part: "A titan in the literary genre that explores a limitless range of potential destinies, Vernor enthralled millions with tales of plausible tomorrows, made all the more vivid by his polymath masteries of language, drama, characters and the implications of science.... Accused by some of a grievous sin--that of 'optimism'--Vernor gave us peerless legends that often depicted human success at overcoming problems... those right in front of us... while posing new ones! New dilemmas that may lie just ahead of our myopic gaze." 


Personnel Changes at DAW Books

Laura Fitzgerald has joined DAW Books as marketing and publicity manager. They previously worked at Tor, Orbit, Redhook, and Yen Press.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Amanda Gorman on Colbert's Late Show

CBS Mornings: Minda Dentler, author of The Girl Who Figured It Out: The Inspiring True Story of Wheelchair Athlete Minda Dentler Becoming an Ironman World Champion (Sourcebooks Explore, $18.99, 9781728276533).

Jennifer Hudson Show: Jamie Kern Lima, author of Worthy: How to Believe You Are Enough and Transform Your Life (Hay House, $27, 9781401977603).

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

Late Show with Stephen Colbert: Amanda Gorman, author of Call Us What We Carry: Poems (Viking, $17.99, 9780593465080).

TV: Earth Abides

MGM+ has greenlit an adaptation of the 1949 sci-fi novel Earth Abides by George R. Stewart. Deadline reported that the six-episode limited series, starring Alexander Ludwig (Vikings), will begin production in Vancouver, B.C., on April 8 and is slated to premiere on the streamer in late 2024.

Created by showrunner Todd Komarnicki (Sully), the series comes from MGM+ Studios and executive producers Kearie Peak and Lighthouse Productions' Michael Phillips and Juliana Maio.

"It's very special to reintroduce Earth Abides to fans of George Stewart's seminal work of science fiction, as well as to a new generation," said Michael Wright, head of MGM+. "The story's messages of humanity, hope, and compassion are as relevant today as they were nearly a century ago."

Komarnicki added: "The themes illuminated by George Stewart 75 years ago could not be more meaningful and timelier for the world we are living in today. Despite the chaos and division that greets us every morning in the news, the truth remains that the way forward for society is through unity, compassion, forgiveness, understanding, and grace."

Books & Authors

Awards: Story Prize Winner; Dublin Literary Shortlist

The Hive and the Honey by Paul Yoon (Marysue Rucci Books) has won the 20th annual Story Prize. Yoon receives $20,000, and the authors of the two finalists--Wednesday's Child by Yiyun Li (Farrar, Straus and Giroux) and Other Minds and Other Stories by Bennett Sims (Two Dollar Radio)--each receive $5,000.

Story Prize director Larry Dark and founder Julie Lindsey selected the three finalists, and three judges--critic and writer Merve Emre, librarian Allison Escoto, and writer Tania James--made the final choice. The judges commented: "The Hive and the Honey is a collection of astonishing breadth, offering a panoramic portrait of Korean diaspora, of lives rescued from the margins of history. These characters reveal themselves most acutely through intimate gestures, moments that infuse the ordinary with lasting wonder and could only be achieved by a writer as patient, curious, and masterful as Paul Yoon.

"The genius of the collection lies in its steadiness of style--Yoon's prose is quiet and fine and, at times, painfully precise--and its variety of genre. Domestic realism sits alongside folk tales, ghost stories, and imperial histories. The present is haunted by the past, and the past is violently and beautifully summoned in the present."


A shortlist has been released for the €100,000 (about $108,425) Dublin Literary Award, which is sponsored by Dublin City Council to honor a single work of fiction published in English. Nominations are chosen by librarians and readers from a network of libraries around the world. 

The winner will be named May 23, as part of the International Literature Festival Dublin. If the winning book has been translated, the author receives €75,000 (about $81,320) and the translator receives €25,000 (about $27,105). This year's shortlisted titles are: 

Old God's Time by Sebastian Barry 
Haven by Emma Donoghue
If I Survive You  by Jonathan Escoffery 
The Sleeping Car Porter  by Suzette Mayr
Solenoid by Mircea Cărtărescu, translated by Sean Cotter
Praiseworthy (And Other Stories) by Alexis Wright

Reading with... Garrard Conley

photo: Brandon Taylor

Garrard Conley is the author of the memoir Boy Erased, as well as the creator and co-producer of the podcast UnErased: The History of Conversion Therapy in America. His work has been published by the New York Times, Oxford American, Time, and Virginia Quarterly Review, among others. Conley is a graduate of Brooklyn College's MFA program, where he was a Truman Capote Fellow specializing in fiction. He is an assistant professor of creative writing at Kennesaw State University. His debut novel, All the World Beside (Riverhead, March 26, 2024), is the story of two men in love and caught between the demands of their families and societal pressures in 18th-century Puritan New England.

Handsell readers your book in 25 words or less:

Queer Scarlet Letter with over 500 sources for research.

On your nightstand now:

An ARC of Exhibit by R.O. Kwon, whose sharp language is a joy, along with Miranda July's new novel, All Fours, which had me reeling from joy and laughter to extreme existential crisis. I'm also reading and very much enjoying The Charioteer by Mary Renault, which somehow kept off my radar until this year--it's the gay war novel I didn't know I needed.

Favorite book when you were a child:

Any of the Fear Street books by R.L. Stine. I read these way too early and they've always held a fascination for me. Campy fun.

Your top five authors:

George Eliot, Leo Tolstoy, James Baldwin, Flannery O'Connor, Kazuo Ishiguro. This is way too hard. Maybe top 20 authors would make more sense, because I can't rank these geniuses.

Book you've faked reading:

War and Peace, though never Anna Karenina, which I've read more than once.

Book you're an evangelist for:

The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne. I think the novel is remarkable for its prose style, its moral power, and for the fact that this man somehow knew how to write about adultery from a woman's perspective despite being a bit of a conservative. The book is a marvel.

Book you've bought for the cover:

Recently, Silver Nitrate by Silvia Moreno-Garcia. A stunning red cover I immediately knew would go well with the blues I use in my living room. I was right.

Book you hid from your parents:

I never had to hide my books, because no one in my small Arkansan town took an interest in books. However, I did often thumb through Edmund White's books in Barnes & Noble, and I was certainly careful to carry any gay books from the gay section to another section to read.

Book that changed your life:

One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez. I read it right after graduating college, and it made me realize how insane it was that very few of my literature classes taught any books that weren't American or British.

Favorite line from a book:

"The unendurable is the beginning of the curve of joy." From Nightwood by Djuna Barnes. I used it as the epigraph for my new novel.

Five books you'll never part with:

Anna Karenina and The Scarlet Letter, of course, but also any collected Shakespeare, the Library of America collected works of Flannery O'Connor, and Baldwin's Go Tell It on the Mountain.

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

Fathers & Sons by Turgenev. I loved the world of that book. It's one of those rare perfect books.

Book Review

Children's Review: Being Home

Being Home by Traci Sorell, illus. by Michaela Goade (Kokila, $18.99 hardcover, 32p., ages 4-8, 9781984816030, May 7, 2024)

Family and finding one's own rhythms lie at the heart of this striking new picture book by two-time Sibert Medal honoree Traci Sorell (Mascot) and Caldecott Medalist Michaela Goade (We Are Water Protectors). The collaboration, much like its dynamic characters, moves with a compelling, powerful beat.

A Cherokee child lives with their etsi (mother) in a city where "cars rush" and "crowds collect." Etsi says this is not their rhythm, so they are moving to the Cherokee Nation Reservation. The pair are excited to be leaving a place where, as more houses are built, "fewer animal relatives visit" and "family is too far away." With a "see you later, house" and a "gotta go, swing," the exuberant child and Etsi pack up the car and head home. The drive is long ("Are we there yet?") but the destination promises to be sweet--"singing,/ shell shaking,/ storytelling,/ stickball playing,/ all offer different beats" than the ones in the city they leave behind.

Indeed, when the child and Etsi arrive, family surrounds them, hugging and helping them to unpack. The child finds animal relatives, a new swing, and plenty of wonders to explore on ancestral land, including "room to run, ride, or roll along" and the "cool and constant" creek. Now, there are "no more busy streets" and "no more faraway family." The child and Etsi are "close enough to gather, eat,/ laugh, dance, and share" with their people--the wonderful "rhythm of being home."

Sorell's poetic text focuses on the deeply felt reasons that drive the child and their etsi's move from city to reservation. The author beautifully expresses core themes of family and the importance of full self-realization on ancestral land; in doing so, she echoes the oh-so-important rhythms which animate her characters. Goade's mixed-media art is at once delicate and strong, with spirited, sparkling colors and a keen sense of motion that reinforces the text's rhythm and energy. A jaunty pink is prominently featured while deep greens, blues, and browns ground the images. Well-placed spreads from the child's perspective help keep this picture book focused on its young protagonist, and the child's naïve-style art adornments and handwritten words are sprinkled throughout, providing even more variety and vigor to the scenario. Alive with movement, Being Home is an exceptional offering, emphasizing the inherent rhythms and motions of life. --Lynn Becker, reviewer, blogger, and children's book author

Shelf Talker: Family and finding one's own rhythms lie at the heart of Being Home, a glorious picture book which, much like its dynamic characters, moves to a strong beat.

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