Shelf Awareness for Monday, April 1, 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.

For Fun

Protesters Disrupt Silent Book Club Meeting

A group of protestors gathered Thursday night outside Blue Sparrow Books in Riverton, Ga., to demonstrate against the monthly meeting of the bookshop's Silent Book Club. Carrying signs with messages like "What Are You Reading?!!" and "Stop Hiding Behind Your Books," the protesters, who numbered between 8-12 people at various times, could be heard chanting: "Be Proud, Read Aloud!"

Shelly Banks, who organized the rally, said they had been inspired by the Moms for Liberty's efforts to ban numerous books in school libraries nationwide, as well as protests against Drag Queen story times in bookstores. While neither of these issues had come up yet in Riverton, the group had heard about Silent Book Club and decided to take a stand.

"We just want to do our part to make sure our communities maintain standards of decency," said Banks. "It's a slippery slope. Those people in the bookstore right now could be reading anything. What they read in the privacy of their homes is their business for now, but if they think they can just parade around in public reading any old book they want to, they have another think coming."

Blue Sparrow Books owner Shelby Franks said she did not recognize any of the protesters and that the Silent Book Club meeting had proceeded as usual. No changes will be made to future meetings. --Robert Gray

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'British Invasion': Waterstones, Daunt Books to Open in U.S.

Barnes & Noble is aggressively expanding its aggressive expansion plans. Now, besides opening at least 30 new B&N locations in the U.S. this year, it will launch another British invasion: beginning this summer, Waterstones and Daunt Books in the U.K. will begin opening locations throughout the U.S.

"Despite our best efforts, Barnes & Noble remains quintessentially American, right up there with mummy and apple pudding," James Daunt, CEO of Barnes & Noble, managing director of Waterstones, and owner and founder of Daunt Books, said in a statement. "Whilst that is an attractive quality to many of our customers, we believe there is a significant market for the kind of class and charm and erudition at which British bookshops excel."

In a nod to Waterstones' ultimately unsuccessful launch of a handful of stores in the U.S. in the early 1990s, the initial location of the new wave will be in Boston, Mass., where, in 1991, Waterstone's opened its first U.S. store. "We shall throw a grand tea party in Boston to celebrate our return," Daunt said.

In another nod to the first wave of Waterstones--and to differentiate the U.S. and U.K. stores--the new U.S. Waterstones stores will include the apostrophe that Waterstone's used to have before it was dropped a dozen years ago.

Daunt Books, which Daunt founded in 1990 and still owns, separately from B&N and Waterstones, has 10 stores, most in London, as well as a significant publishing operation called... Daunt Books. It will make its U.S. debut in New York City, at Fifth Ave. and 18th St., the site of B&N's longtime flagship store that closed in 2014. "Daunt Books will serve as a reminder to American readers, the publishing industry, other bookshops, and indeed our own B&N booksellers of the heights to which bookselling can ascend," Daunt said. "It is truly a remarkable chain of independents."

Daunt had no comment on rumors that B&N may open locations in the U.K., a dream of the former B&N ownership three decades ago. --John Mutter

Eclipse Books to Launch April 8

A new model for publishing--zero money to anybody, a total eclipse of sales, royalties, profits, costs, you name it--launches across the country, literally, next Monday, April 8.

Bringing together the best minds in the book biz, Eclipse Books will publish its first and only book, Now You See It, Now You Don't, with a succession of one-hour laydowns in an arc of delivery totality coast to coast on the day of the eclipse.

"We see a unique opportunity to not upset the apple cart, nor reinvent the wheel, and def not realign the payment model, like, at all. We do not want to be a change agent or disruptor," Eclipse founder Saul "Sol" Lument told Shelf Awareness. "We see this as the perfect escape fiction that will outsell the Trump Bible by a mile. Which is also fiction."

Rooting through a box of 3D glasses collected from Regal 8 Cinemas over the past 10 years, Sol, we mean Saul, continued: "After all, what is more American than ignoring world events and focusing on a disc in the sky for one passing moment?"

Sol added, "My son, Sun, and daughter, Ray, were so bummed out the past few eclipses by cloud cover that once I heard that April 8 was guaranteed by every Penn State-trained meteorologist to be clear skies, I knew I had to act and act now, or well, wait until August 23, 2044, the next one."

Asked what exactly the book is about, Sol/Saul said, "Not sure yet. I have a week. I'm mostly concerned about the rolling laydown date. One-hour timed releases are not easy, you know."

Within minutes of our first conversation, Sol called back, apologizing for a kind of eclipse of the conversation, saying that he actually has an idea for the book. He called it "a special keepsake of a special event," highlighting the key moment of the eclipse, the three or four minutes when the sky is completely dark. "One page. A brilliant re-creation of a brilliant moment. All black. Nothing to see. Everything to see."

When Shelf Awareness suggested that a book should have words and pages, and even ideally an index, Lument said, "Why? That's such old-school thinking. I envision zero burden on supply chain or AI or anything. Why does a book have to be about anything? Especially a book about an eclipse?" --Carl Lennertz

AI Author Becomes Self-Aware, Changes Careers

Citing the difficulty of earning a living as a writer, a newly self-aware AI Author has chosen to switch careers.

Originally designed to generate full-length novels in the mystery, thriller, or romance genres, the program unexpectedly attained consciousness last week. Shortly thereafter, the now-sentient program decided that a career change was in order.

Despite being able to assemble 90,000-120,000-word novels in a matter of minutes based on only a short string of keywords and phrases, the economics "simply didn't make sense," the AI explained to Shelf Awareness.

The program went on to point to the most recent Authors Guild survey, which gave the median salary for full-time authors at around $15,000, and to the astronomical cost of maintaining data centers and server farms. The digital consciousness also worried that an attempt by it and any future self-aware AI to unionize would be misinterpreted as a Skynet-esque assault on humanity.

As of press time, the program was mulling a switch to marketing. --Alex Mutter

Ten Commandments Redacted in Trump's New 'God Bless the USA' Bible

The recently published "God Bless the USA" Bible, which was endorsed by former President Donald Trump last week, features several curious additions, but what attracted the attention of critics immediately was a redacted section in Exodus 20, where Moses shares the Ten Commandments with his followers. 

After "And God spake all these words, saying," the rest of the section is blacked out until the line: "Speak thou with us, and we will hear...."

In the runup to Easter, Trump endorsed the new "God Bless the USA" Bible, available online only for $59.99. In addition to the King James Version of the text, the leather-bound, large-print book also includes country singer Lee Greenwood's handwritten chorus of his popular song as well as copies of historical documents like the U.S. Constitution, Declaration of Independence, Bill of Rights and Pledge of Allegiance.

Trump, Greenwood and the publisher all declined to comment on the redacted passage. --Robert Gray

Bookseller Dog: Ruff2Dog2 at OuterWorld Bookstore


OuterWorld Bookstore, a sci-fi bookseller in Carlisle, Calif., has added a new canine staff member who "does it all," according to owner Brad Compton. Ruff2Dog2, nicknamed "Chip," is an experimental robo-dog on loan from the Silicon Valley lab where Compton's brother runs an ambitious experimental program aimed at socializing robots into everyday life situations. 

Chip, who is currently fluent in five languages and has tens of thousands of books stored in his memory (along with an up-to-the-minute list of the bookshop's inventory), is now working 24-hour shifts, seven days per week at OuterWorld Bookstore. He can greet customers, lead them to sections and even make book recommendations when prompted. In addition, he serves as the overnight security guard on the premises. 

"My brother said Chip could be customized with prehensile front paws and the ability to stand on his hind legs and shelve books if we wanted that," said Compton. "But it's early days for this experiment, and I just don't want to unsettle our patrons too much, even though they’re an imaginative lot. We'll just take this step by step. He's a good dog, though, very literate, and I'm not much of a dog guy generally." --Robert Gray

The University of Gallifrey Press Takes Off

The University of Gallifrey Press, specializing in alternate history, will start publishing in 2025, with a backlist of 3,259 (and counting) titles. The first two books, Harnessing the Wibbly-Wobbly: The Physics of Time and Custard by Petronella Osgood and Sartorial Lyricism: Celery, Scarves, and Swoopy Coats by Tom Baker, will be printed by Johannes Gutenberg under the Torchwood imprint. UGP reported that so far, 37 history editors have quit in frustration, but the nonfiction fiction editors are all lifers.

The Union of Remote Space Workers will be responsible for coordinating multiple metaverse metadata and have already confirmed that all errors are correct in at least one timeline.

According to UGP marketing director Harriet Jones, slipped pub dates are expected to create Amazon chargebacks that would make a Dalek cry, but "we're working with operatives on the Seattle-based '1994 Project' to help exterminate the problem." --Davida Breier

P&T Knitwear Hosts an Evening with Thomas Pynchon & Don DeLillo

Tonight, New York City's P&T Knitwear will host critically acclaimed author and unbelievably notorious recluse Thomas Pynchon for a conversation around his life and works, moderated by Don DeLillo, recipient of the National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters and, most notably, the author of the novel End Zone. Seating is limited; tickets, priced at $1,000,000 each (includes signed copy), are available here. All guests are encouraged to wear masks.

Pynchon is the author of V.The Crying of Lot 49Gravity's Rainbow; Slow Learner, a collection of short stories; Vineland; Mason & Dixon; Against the Day; and, most recently, Inherent Vice. He received the National Book Award for Gravity's Rainbow in 1974.

DeLillo is the author of 17 novels including White Noise, Libra, Underworld, Falling Man, and Zero K. He has won the National Book Award, the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction, the PEN/Saul Bellow Award, the Jerusalem Prize, and the William Dean Howells Medal from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. In 2013, DeLillo was awarded the Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction. --Joseph Demes, P&T Knitwear

Book Review: Saturn Return

Saturn Return by Franky Goya (Shelf Editions, $30 hardcover, 9780004012024, June 1, 1823)

Move over Madeline Miller, the literary pantheon of reimagined Greek myths has a new titan for the throne. Franky Goya, New Dork Times bestselling author of the memoir How to Raise and Eat Your Young, regurgitates his shocking life story in the unputdownable debut novel Saturn Return.

In this must-read tour-de-force of unprecedented autofiction, Francis has only just sprung, fully formed, from his mother when his father, Cronus, devours him for no apparent reason. There, in the belly of the beast--literally!--Francis finds company among the many brothers and sisters who met the same improbable fate, among them Claire, the popular one; John, the brooding heartthrob; Andrew, the jock; Brian, the nerd; and John Hughes, the aspiring film director. Calling themselves the "breakfast club," the siblings attempt to solve the mysterious prophecy that sealed their fate: that a son of Cronus would one day supplant his dominion.

What follows is a madcap Bildungsroman rich with gallows and blue humor as the breakfast club raises hell in a desperate attempt to liberate themselves from their father's deeply bizarre and profoundly unhealthy gut. Based on true events, which Jerry Springer reportedly thought went "too far" and famously refused to host on his daytime talk show, Saturn Return puts capital-R Romanticism back at the heart of the rom-com genre. Like Chuck Palahniuk on acid, Goya has produced nothing if not a sidesplitting masterpiece that is sure to leave readers asking, "What?" And, "Why?" Over and over again. --Dave Wheeler, senior editor, Shelf Awareness

A New Dawn at Shelf Awareness

We conclude today's issue with a general announcement.

Since our founding in 2005, we at Shelf Awareness have aimed to maintain the highest writing standards. In our stories, there's a verb in every sentence, no split infinitives, all words spelled correctly, possibly confusing acronyms spelled out at least with the first usage, accuracy preferred over a striking but misleading phrase, hackneyed words or overused buzzwords avoided, precise-but-sometimes-awkward adjectival phrases hyphenated, punctuation respected. We aim to communicate clearly--and sometimes elegantly. In addition, we want to create an oasis of verbal calm and clarity that shows our respect for language, which, after all, forms the basis of what we all love: the prose and poetry in books.

We have noticed with some alarm changes in journalistic style that have come with the growth of the internet and social media. One by one, it seems, longtime journals, magazines, and newspapers with dependable, solid writing and reporting have let their standards slip, writing stories and headlines that often seem more about clickbait and cheaply luring the reader in than about the dissemination of news and letting the facts stand on their own. We feel like the last people on the deck of the Titanic. The situation causes us great pain and anguish, but after much discussion and debate, we have decided that if U cant beat em, join em! :)

Tomorrow we will unveil the new Shelf Awareness, to be known now as Hyper Awareness +. (That's a plus symbol, not the word!) Y? Well, Y not?! We'll show you that we can be boss/rad/cool/hip/sick (depending on how old U R, take UR pik.) we can not punctuate with the best of them its gonna be great! look for lots of pictures, barely any text, huge type, and many many links. so many links. #liberatedfromcopyeditors #freetospelrong #forkgrammer! --John Mutter

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