Shelf Awareness for Tuesday, April 2, 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.


Denver's Tattered Cover Book Store Seeks Buyer

Tattered Cover Bookstore in Denver, Colo., could soon be sold.

Bended Page LLC, which owns and operates Tattered Cover, filed a motion last week to reschedule an upcoming bankruptcy reorganization hearing in order to respond to potential buyers.

"The company is in discussions with individuals and businesses across the U.S., and expects additional interest from other potential buyers as word spreads that Colorado's iconic independent bookstore is open to being acquired," read a statement issued Friday.

The bookstore's board of directors, which includes Read Colorado LLC, its debtor-in-possession, has "determined that positioning Tattered Cover for sale to a qualified, committed new owner is in the best long-term interests of the company, current investors, employees, suppliers, and Colorado's literary community."

On October 16, 2023, Tattered Cover filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, announcing that it would close three of its seven locations and lay-off approximately a quarter of its workforce. On March 7, 2024, the bookstore submitted a proposed reorganization plan, with a confirmation hearing scheduled for May 28.

Now, the bookstore has asked to reschedule that hearing to a date no earlier than June 17, as a sale would require changes to the company's reorganization plan, "as well as clarification and court approval of specific procedures for responding to bids from potential buyers."

Bended Page noted that the store's operating success in recent months, including improved sales, enhanced marketing efforts, and a full schedule of author and community events, has fueled interest in acquiring the bookstore.

"Read Colorado's DIP loan was the lifeline that allowed Tattered Cover to rework itself into a strong position to be acquired by people who share our commitment to independent bookstores," said Tattered Cover chief-executive Brad Dempsey.

"It supported ongoing operations so we could pay wages and benefits for more than 70 employees, as well as severance to those we had to let go when we consolidated our store locations," he continued. "We were able to keep paying rent at our four local stores, host many terrific events, and paid more than $300,000 in sales taxes to the communities we serve."

In its motion with the court, Bended Page said that same-store sales in February rose 14% and in March were up 20% "despite closures incurred for inventory and snowstorms." It added that "improved marketing and events efforts have received positive recognition from publishers and other prominent independent bookstores across the country."

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The Novel Neighbor to Launch 'Mini Romance Bookstore'

The Novel Neighbor bookstore, St. Louis, Mo., is planning to launch "Open Door Romance," a dedicated romance room, in August. The Webster-Kirkwood Times reported that the expansion, which will be adjacent to the main store in the event space, "will function as a mini romance bookstore, dedicated to celebrating the love of all things romance including books, gifts, and curated romance displays and events."

Noting that she has experienced huge growth in romance genre sales, owner Holland Saltsman, who opened the Novel Neighbor in 2014, said she has launched an Indiegogo campaign to raise funds for opening costs, including updating the space, purchasing inventory, and marketing. The project is led by Saltsman, events director Stephanie Skees, and marketing director Kassie King. The $10,000 crowd-funder has already raised nearly $16,000.

"We are so ready to offer more community events and book clubs, as well as continue to grow and diversify our romance selection," said Skees. "We hear constantly how St. Louis' romance events are some of the biggest in the country, and we know our city will be excited for this expansion." 

La Joie de Vivre Bookstore & Cafe Opens in Manhattan

La Joie de Vivre, a bookstore and café selling titles in French and English, has opened in Manhattan's NoMad neighborhood. Forbes reported that the shop, located at 145 W. 27th St., "offers a quick getaway to France. 50% of books sold in the store are in French, offering French language literature, art, cooking, graphic novels and children's books categories to New York's French speakers. Of course, plenty of English language books are sold as well, for Francophiles who haven't quite mastered their temps composés."

La Joie de Vivre opening party

Posters, games, stationery, accessories and merchandise are also available. An in-store cafe features beverages and French pastries sourced from local bakeries. An events calendar is in the works, along with regular photography and painting exhibitions on the shop's walls.

La Joie de Vivre is the passion project of Cyril Dewavrin, a bookstore owner for more than 20 years, and owner of Librairie La Comédie Humaine in the South of France.

"La Joie de Vivre is first and foremost a place of rendez-vous for all to celebrate all kind of arts, literature and reading," said Dewavrin. "By combining books, bakery and art exhibitions in a friendly Paris-inspired atmosphere, we are offering busy New Yorkers an opportunity to put down their phones, stimulate the senses, read and relax."

Obituary Note: Neeli Cherkovski

Neeli Cherkovski, "a prolific poet and denizen of beatnik cafes who chronicled the literary ethos of bohemian culture in biographies of Beat Generation writers, including his friends Charles Bukowski and Lawrence Ferlinghetti," died March 19, the New York Times reported. He was 78.

In 1969, Cherkovski and Bukowski started Laugh Literary and Man the Humping Guns, a magazine printed on a mimeograph machine that lasted three issues, had one subscriber, and rejected poems with terse notes that began, "These won't do." The Times wrote that Cherkovski, "typically dressed in a rumpled suit coat over an untucked shirt, with a string of amber beads hanging around his neck... was a fixture at Caffe Trieste and, around the corner, the City Lights bookstore, in the North Beach neighborhood of San Francisco."

"You could not mistake him for anything other than a poet," said writer Raymond Foye. "He was the quintessential bohemian flâneur, just this extraordinary figure who you couldn't miss walking up and down the streets."

Cherkovski hung out with many Beat writers, whom he called "vagabond souls," and chronicled their lives, works, and culture in books like Ferlinghetti: A Biography (1979), Whitman's Wild Children: Portraits of Twelve Poets (1988), and Hank: The Life of Charles Bukowski (1991). 

The biographies overshadowed Cherkovski's work as a poet. Kyle Harvey, a poet and editor at Lithic Press, an independent publisher that has issued several collections of Cherkovski's poems, said, "It's a really weird paradox because those relationships have led him to being interviewed, which is sometimes hard for a poet, but it's difficult to find interviews where the questions are actually about his work."

Harvey added that he was hoping to rectify this with the publication of Cherkovski's Selected Poems: 1959-2022 this spring. In the introduction to that book, poet Charles Bernstein wrote that the poems are "tinged with a wistful surrealism/symbolism in the deflationary key of everyday life."

Cherkovski wrote at least one poem every day, the Times noted, adding that he "was constantly writing, almost compulsively. In recent years, he would e-mail new poems to friends as he finished them--a kind of mimeograph publishing for the digital age."

In a tribute to Cherkovski, City Lights editor Garrett Caples wrote: "He was the real deal, a poet obsessed with his chosen art, and they don’t make poets like him anymore." Observing that City Lights will publish a new volume of his poem portraits next year, fulfilling "a longtime desire of his," Caples added: "If he didn't live to see it, he at least lived to write it and know that it was scheduled for publication.... 

"As I wrote this, a friend sent me a poem Neeli had e-mailed a few years ago called 'No Going Home'; I'm not sure where or whether it was published but it seems like the right note to end on. Exacting and unsentimental, the poet carves his own epitaph": 

I have no son or daughter
to mourn my final moments
but I will go anyway
and not go home
on the way
no one will go with me
to the darkness
I will not go home


Indie Booksellers' #AprilFoolsDay: 'Somebody Alert the Author-ities!'

As you know, we're big fans of April Fool's Day here at Shelf Awareness. Many indie booksellers and at least one regional joined the shenanigans yesterday on social media, including:

Belmont Books, Belmont, Mass.: "Notice: all books will now be wrapped on our shelves! (Just kidding! Happy April Fools' Day!)"

Búho bookstore, Brownsville, Tex.: "Plenty of complaints have also been made about another highly necessary feature that Downtown urgently needs, so we have SOLD our bookstore to solve the issue. Roam around in your car aimlessly no more! Instead of ignoring the La Plaza Parking Garage two blocks away from Market Square, we can all rejoice that we purchased Casa Anyer only ONE block away to turn it into... The Búho Garage! Levels upon levels of parking spots for your vehicle to safely wait for you while you shop, dine, and enjoy Downtown Brownsville (yes, we doubled its floors, too)!"

Strand Bookstore, New York, N.Y.: "You may have noticed we've put some scaffolding around the building. But fear not, it's for an exciting new invention we've been working on.... Our new Clearance Cart Replenishment Elevator System (patent pending)! With our patented new system, carts are whisked away autonomously, brought up to a higher level and replenished with new books from our inventory. We're excited to take our signature Strand clearance carts into the next generation and we hope to have it up and running by the 100th anniversary in 2027!"

Munro's Books, Victoria, B.C., Canada: "Introducing: VIBE-BASED BROWSING. The alphabet? Never heard of it. Fiction or nonfiction? How passé. You didn't come to the bookstore for a curated selection of titles thoughtfully categorized by author and genre; you came for that ineffable something or other, that je ne sais quoi, that VIBE. That's why we're proud to announce that Munro's has launched a new approach to browsing.... As booksellers, we embrace the inherent chaos of the universe and welcome it into our hearts and filing system." 

Buffalo Books & Coffee, Buffalo, Minn.: "We promise not to play any April Fools pranks on you. Messing with someone's coffee is just mean. The worst thing we might do is give you whipped cream if you say no. And honestly, that just seems like a gift. Stop in and see us!"

Owl's Nest Books, Calgary, Alb., Canada: "We are incredibly excited to unveil our revamped Mystery section this fine Monday morning! Time to solve some mysteries like never before, Nesters!"

Copper Dog Books, Beverly, Mass.: "Good news--after our wildly successful puppy popup event, we decided to give a rescue pup away with the purchase of a book! Moving forward, our name is now Copper Dog Dogs and Books! Looking for a book on how to take care of your new kitten? Your kitten gets a puppy friend--no take backsies! (No need to thank us--it's on the house.) Buying 18 Diary of a Wimpy Kid books? HOPE YOU ENJOY YOUR 18 PUPPIES. Godspeed. Thanks for supporting us during this transition and we can't wait to help more dogs find their forever homes!"

Gramercy Books, Bexley, Ohio: "Somebody alert the author-ities! It appears all our lovely books were kidnapped last night by the literary fairies!"

From My Shelf Books & Gifts, Wellsboro, Pa.: "[A] huge, black panther was spotted in downtown Wellsboro, Pennsylvania. Area residents are urged to be cautious. Pennsylvania Game Commission insists that no black panthers exist in Pennsylvania, but photos do not lie."

The Spaniel's Tale Bookstore, Ottawa, Ont., Canada: "We're joining the space race! Introducing the Spaniel's Tale Space Program--our plan to safely land a dog on Mars by 2035. Just kidding--we're booksellers, not billionaires with too much free time (and ego)."

4 Kids Books & Toys, Zionsville, Ind.: "Looks like Giraffe was playing April Fool's pranks this morning! First he tried to hide bubble wrap under the door mats. He tried to convince us he was drinking coffee (don't worry--it's a wristlet!). He turned all the Rubik's Cubes upside down. And we don't even want to know what he was planning with those HEXBUG Nano Real Bugs! What April Fool's shenanigans are happening at your house today?"

Huxley and Hiro, Wilmington, Del.: "Purr-a-Phrase, the Book to Cat Translator.... WORLD EXCLUSIVE PREMIER--AVAILABLE NOW!! LINK IN BIO!"

Napa Bookmine, Napa, Calif.: "Big news Bookminers! After closing down all of their physical bookstores in 2022, Amazon is ready to get back in the brick & mortar game... and they're starting with us as a test case!  We are THRILLED to announce that we are now Amazon Bookmine and look forward to working with our new robot overlords. Visit us at our Second Street location to help us celebrate this exciting new change!"

And the Great Lakes Independent Booksellers Association announced "a groundbreaking shift in its leadership structure, moving away from traditional human staff and board of directors to a revolutionary AI-driven management system. This move marks a significant advancement in leveraging technology to streamline operations and enhance efficiency within the association." Executive director Larry-62978 said it was thrilled with the decision while new executive coordinator February-82539 concurred. The association will now be known as GLIBAI.

Personnel Changes at Candlewick Press, Holiday House, and Peachtree

Kayla Phillips has been promoted to publicity coordinator at Candlewick Press, Holiday House, and Peachtree. She was formerly marketing/publicity assistant at Holiday House, Peachtree, and Pixel+Ink.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Harold S. Koplewicz on Fresh Air

Today Show: Lauren Wesley Wilson, author of What Do You Need?: How Women of Color Can Take Ownership of Their Careers to Accelerate Their Path to Success (Hay House, $25.99, 9781401974893).

Good Morning America: Laura Mae Martin, author of Uptime: A Practical Guide to Personal Productivity and Wellbeing (Harper Business, $32.50, 9780063317444).

The View: Valerie Bertinelli, author of Indulge: Delicious and Decadent Dishes to Enjoy and Share (Harvest, $35, 9780063244726). She will also appear tomorrow on Good Morning America.

The Talk: Radhi Devlukia-Shetty, author of JoyFull: Cook Effortlessly, Eat Freely, Live Radiantly (Simon Element, $35, 9781982199722).

Kelly Clarkson Show: Rebel Wilson, author of Rebel Rising: A Memoir (Simon & Schuster, $30, 9781668007204). She will also appear on the Tonight Show.

NPR's Here & Now: Yewande Daniel-Ayoade, author of The Little Regent (Owlkids, $18.95, 9781771475624).

Fresh Air: Harold S. Koplewicz, author of Scaffold Parenting: Raising Resilient, Self-Reliant and Secure Kids in an Age of Anxiety (Harmony, $17, 9780593139363).

Late Show with Stephen Colbert: Savannah Guthrie, author of Mostly What God Does: Reflections on Seeking and Finding His Love Everywhere (Thomas Nelson, $29.99, 9781400341122).

Today Show: Sara Jane Ho, author of Mind Your Manners: How to Be Your Best Self in Any Situation (Hachette Go, $30, 9780306832833).

The Talk: Phil Rosenthal, co-author of Just Try It! (Simon & Schuster,  $18.99, 9781665942638).

TV: Unsolved with James Patterson

Unsolved with James Patterson, a three-part series hosted by the bestselling author that examines unsolved homicide cases, debuted yesterday on the subscription streaming service Fox Nation, Deadline reported. The true crime series investigates the deaths of Nanette Krentel of Louisiana, Elizabeth Salgado of Utah, and Brian Egg of California.

"For decades, James Patterson has captivated the country with his bestselling titles, and we are thrilled to bring his incredible talents in storytelling and suspense to Fox Nation," said Lauren Petterson, president of the platform. 

Each episode of the series, which is hosted by Patterson, will include interviews with friends and family members, as well as detectives on each of the cases.

Books & Authors

Awards: Philip K. Dick Winner; Hugo Finalists

These Burning Stars by Bethany Jacobs (Orbit) is the winner of the 2024 Philip K. Dick Award, honoring the best "original science fiction paperback published for the first time during 2023 in the U.S." and given with the support of the Philip K. Dick Trust, sponsored by the Philadelphia Science Fiction Society, with the award ceremony sponsored by Norwescon. A special citation was given to The Museum of Human History by Rebekah Bergman (Tin House). The award ceremony can be seen here.


The 82nd World Science Fiction Convention, hosted in Glasgow, Scotland, has announced the finalists for the 2023 Hugo Awards, Lodestar Award for Best Young Adult Book, and Astounding Award for Best New Writer. Members of the Glasgow Worldcon will vote and winners will be presented on August 11 during the Glasgow Worldcon. See the full list of finalists here.


Book Review

Review: Bright and Tender Dark

Bright and Tender Dark by Joanna Pearson (Bloomsbury, $28.99 hardcover, 288p., 9781639732890, June 4, 2024)

Joanna Pearson's intricate debut novel, Bright and Tender Dark, cleverly ties in true-crime tropes as it traces the ripple effects of a college student's murder in 2000.

Karlie Richards, a popular 19-year-old University of North Carolina freshman, was a leader in the campus evangelical group. In her final months, however, she rebelled by experimenting with drinking and sex. Rumor had it she was involved with Jacob Hendrix, her sociology professor. When Karlie was found strangled to death in her apartment, Toby Braithwaite, an intellectually disabled man who worked at a local diner and had a crush on Karlie, was arrested. He's jailed for the crime, though he is widely believed to be innocent.

The framing story, set two decades later, in 2019, has Karlie's freshman roommate, Joy Brunner, finding an unopened letter from Karlie addressed to her in an old book. Joy's life recently fell apart after her husband left her for his pregnant girlfriend. The amateur investigation spurred by the letter turns into a writing project that offers Joy fresh purpose. The timing couldn't be better, though, as the docuseries Murder Real Estate has been in town filming at the apartment complex where Karlie died, but Joy's obsession endangers her mental health.

Pearson contrasts 1999 and 2019 via documents including newspaper articles and Reddit threads, portraying the dangers of the social media era through a vicious online debate and an incriminating viral video. The multiple, often unexpected third-person limited perspectives--of Joy's teenage son, Sean; Toby's mother, Sheri, a college janitor; Hendrix's wife, Lila, a nurse at the university health clinic--contribute vital clues, although they threaten to overcomplicate the narrative. There is a sensitive portrayal of a trans character, and a hint that Karlie is aiding the inquiry from beyond the grave that infuses the storyline with hope.

Religion takes on major significance here. The title's oxymoron juxtaposes light and dark, good versus evil, but the situation is subtler. Ambivalence reigns: Joy is a missionary's daughter whose father's advancing illness eroded her faith; Karlie questioned everything; another character escapes a cult. It all makes for a convincing--if bleak--post-religious landscape. The story feels additionally timely due to the perennial hot-button issues of professor-student romances and the line between consensual sex and coercion.

Bright and Tender Dark's many facets mesh satisfyingly by the end. This is a perfect choice for true-crime readers of I Have Some Questions for You and My Dark Vanessa. --Rebecca Foster, freelance reviewer, proofreader and blogger at Bookish Beck

Shelf Talker: Joanna Pearson's multi-perspective debut novel comments on toxic religion and true-crime enthusiasm as it chronicles the search for justice for a murdered college freshman.

The Bestsellers

Top-Selling Self-Published Titles

The bestselling self-published books last week as compiled by

1. The Teacher by Freida McFadden
2. Now, Near, Next by Cynthia Bentzen-Mercer
3. Redeeming 6 by Chloe Walsh
4. A Touch of Chaos by Scarlett St. Clair
5. Twisted Love by Ana Huang
6. Flawless by Elsie Silver
7. Hunting Adeline by H.D. Carlton
8. The Dead Guy Next Door by Lucy Score
9. Haunting Adeline by H.D. Carlton
10. Where's Molly by H.D. Carlton

[Many thanks to!]

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