Shelf Awareness for Tuesday, May 17, 2016


Flatiron Books: Sometimes I Lie by Alice Feeney

Bloomsbury: Reign the Earth by A.C. Gaughen

Soho Crime: The Widows of Malabar Hill by Sujata Massey

Shadow Mountain: Christmas Jars Collector's Edition by Jason F. Wright

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers: Malala's Magic Pencil by Malala Yousafzai, illustrated by Kerascoet

Katherine Tegen Books: The Truth as Told by Mason Buttle by Leslie Connor

Quotation of the Day

Robert L. Bernstein, Ex 'Office Boy-in-Waiting'

"[I chose book publishing as a career] by accident--just like so many other serendipitous events in my life. A friend of my father, who always got everything wrong, told Albert Leventhal, a vice president at Simon & Schuster, that I wanted to be a writer. I was fresh out of the U.S. Air Force and had just returned from serving in India. I didn't want to be a writer. What I really wanted was to go into television and radio, but I had no experience. So I kept the appointment with Albert as a courtesy to my dad's friend. At the time, I was working as a receptionist at WNEW, which paid $25 per week. Albert told me I would hate radio and television, and I should go into book publishing. He said that he didn't have a job, but then he changed his mind and said I could become an assistant to the office boy who was about to be promoted to reader. The job paid $30 per week, so I said okay. That's why I like to say I started my career in publishing--at a new low--as Office Boy-in-Waiting."

--Robert L. Bernstein, former longtime head of Random House and author of the new memoir Speaking Freely: My Life in Publishing and Human Rights, published last week by the New Press, with a foreword by Toni Morrison.

Siglio Press: The Stampographer by Vincent Sardon


News

In Vermont, Phoenix Books Buys Misty Valley Books

photo: chestertelegraph.org

Phoenix Books, which has bookstores in Essex, Burlington and Rutland, Vt., has purchased Misty Valley Books in Chester, Vt.

Phoenix co-owner Michael DeSanto commented: "We hope to complete the transition with no interruption in the high level of service Chester and the surrounding communities have seen over the years. Bill and Lynne Reed [who bought the store in 2001] have lovingly owned and operated this iconic New England independent bookstore, and our intent is to keep intact all the traditions surrounding the store while adding a few new ideas from the experience of owning and operating three other stores in Rutland, Essex and Burlington. The wonderful programming, especially New Voices and Vermont Voices, will continue, with guidance from the Reeds, we hope. The present staff has been invited to stay on, so customers may not even notice the change in ownership. We look forward to serving the community for many years to come."

Phoenix co-owner Renee Reiner added: "Twenty-one years ago, as Mike and I embarked on this adventure, we considered buying Misty Valley Books from the original owners, Dwight Currie and Michael Kohlmann. So it feels like we've come full circle. We are so delighted to have Misty Valley as part of our Phoenix family!"

(L.-r.) Lynne Reed, Bill Reed, Renee Reiner and Michael DeSanto (photo: chestertelegraph.org)

Lynne Reed said, "We are so pleased that Michael and Renee of Phoenix Books are buying Misty Valley Books!... We are happy that they will be continuing Misty Valley's strong commitment to our community, readers and author events including the well-known Misty Valley New Voices annual weekend for debut authors. They will be a great addition to Chester and the surrounding towns in southern Vermont."

Bill Reed added: "We will miss the daily involvement with bookselling, but we are convinced by the Phoenix people we have met, and knowing [Misty Valley staff members] Kim, Amanda, John and Sylvan will continue to be the faces of Misty Valley Books, that Phoenix Books is the perfect succession. The bookstore we have loved and nurtured will be in very good hands."

The Reeds put Misty Valley Books up for sale last October. As we noted at the time, at the New England Independent Booksellers Association fall conference, Bill Reed wore a badge reading "Bookstore for Sale. (We're retiring.) Inquire other side." Reiner and DeSanto saw the badge, and the rest is bookselling history.


PuddleDancer Press: Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life, 3rd Edition: Life-Changing Tools for Healthy Relationships by Marshall B. Rosenberg


The Bookloft, Great Barrington, Mass., Sold

Pamela Pescosolido has purchased the Bookloft in Great Barrington, Mass., from Eric and Ev Wilska, who founded the store 42 years ago and are staying on for a month to help with the transition, according to the Berkshire Eagle. The Bookloft will host an open house on Saturday, May 28, to say goodbye to the Wilskas and welcome Pescosolido. The Wilskas will continue to run Shaker Mill Books, a used and rare book bookstore in West Stockbridge.

Pescosolido has a law degree from Vermont Law School and has run an art supply store, sold books online and operated a small bookselling business. Other than changing some gift items, for now she intends to leave the Bookloft's store operations the way they are and retain the store's eight staffers. "At the moment, I have no plans to change anything," she told the paper. "It seems to be working very well the way it's run now."

Eric Wilska said he and his wife had had "a good run" at the store over the past 42 years. "That's long for a bookstore to remain profitable. I'm very proud of it." He added, "I plan to keep my hand in books, just not the new book world."

The Wilskas put the store up for sale last December, saying that "with our kids far-flung and our first grandchild on the way, with enormous gratitude for 42 rewarding years of bookselling, and with many life dreams still unrealized (many of them involving the reading, writing, creating and selling of books)," they had made the "bittersweet decision" to sell.


Freeform: The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton


Billings Bookstore Co-op's New Shop Gets a Name

The Billings Bookstore Cooperative, Billings, Mont., which purchased the assets of Red Lodge Books & Tea in Red Lodge and hired its owner, Gary Robson, to be the future store's general manager, has chosen a name for the new venture. The Gazette reported that the shop will be called This House of Books, a name suggested by several shareholders to honor the memory of the late Montana-born author Ivan Doig and his novel This House of Sky.

Doig's widow, Carol, gave her blessing to the bookstore name, said Robson, adding: "Our members/owners tend to be lovers of the Big Sky country, and many of us are writers." The former Wendy's restaurant on North 29th Street will be renovated into a 5,000-square-foot bookstore and tea room, with a late summer opening anticipated.


Other Press: Bookselling Without Borders Scholarship


Community Lenders Supporting New Greenlight Store

Rendering of Greenlight's future location.

Since Greenlight Bookstore, Brooklyn, N.Y., earlier this year launched a Community Lender Program to help fund its second location, in Prospect Lefferts Gardens, 55 people, mostly in the new store's neighborhood, have made loans to Greenlight of amounts ranging from $1,000 to $30,000. Already the store has raised more than $150,000 in community loans and expects to raise a total of more than $200,000 before the June 1 program deadline. The number of participants and the amount raised are double those of the store's original Community Lender Program, which helped finance the store, which opened in the Fort Greene neighborhood in 2009.

Co-owner Rebecca Fitting commented: "In revitalizing the community lender program, we wanted to give people who live in Prospect Lefferts Gardens the same opportunity to invest in themselves and their community that they had in Fort Greene, because PLG is a neighborhood where residents care fiercely about their community. The overwhelmingly positive result has been a beautiful testament to this neighborhood, and it just further underscores that PLG is exactly the right location for our second store."

Co-owner Jessica Stockton Bagnulo said that the fundraising "demonstrates the passion of our Brooklyn community for independent bookstores, and the power of local investing."

Under the program, participants make loans of $1,000 or more to Greenlight, administered through a simple loan document and promissory note. Lenders choose the loan amount and interest rate (from just above the minimum applicable rate to above the prime rate), depending on their needs and preferences, and loans are repaid in quarterly payments over five years.  Repayment begins one year after the new store's opening date, which is still to be determined; this allows the bookstore a grace period during the traditionally challenging first year of business. In addition to earning compounded interest, lenders also receive "employee" discounts at the bookstore during the life of their loan, as well as other perks.


Disney-Hyperion: Unearthed by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner


#BEA16: Diverse Editors Panel

"I do think things are better now than even 10 years ago," said Phoebe Yeh, v-p and publisher of Crown Books for Young Readers, during the We Need Diverse Books Diverse Editors panel at BookExpo America on Friday afternoon. "It's maybe not fast enough.... There's definitely more positive movement."

Panelists Yeh, Levithan, Ling, Alexander, Charaipotra

Also on the panel were David Levithan, author and editorial director at Scholastic; Alvina Ling, editor-in-chief of Little, Brown Books for Young Readers; and Kwame Alexander, Newbery-winning author and founder of the program Book-in-a-Day. Sona Charaipotra, executive board member of We Need Diverse Books, served as moderator.

Levithan agreed that the industry was slowly moving in the right direction, and credited We Need Diverse Books for getting many in the publishing world to think about the issue differently, but pointed out that one major yet unacknowledged factor is that publishing as an industry has very little turnover and very few openings.

"We are seeing that when we have an opening for an editorial assistant, you can see hundreds if not a thousand applicants," Levithan added. "It's not that the pool isn't there. The pool is there. It is just having the opportunities to draw from that pool."

Ling said that building a diverse publishing staff requires "buy-in from the very top [of publishing companies] and HR departments." If a publishing chief executive is committed to diversity, Ling continued, that dedication will trickle down through the company. She also mentioned that at Little, Brown, for every job opening, a diverse group of résumés is shown to hiring managers. She noted that since the We Need Diverse Books conversation began, "more and more CEOs and higher-ups at publishers are starting to pay more attention and be committed to this goal."

Alexander recalled asking an editor at a publishing house if there were any editors of color on staff or under consideration for a position. "Her response was, well we haven't been able to find any," he said. "Part of that may be a cop-out. But I think the other part of it is there is a responsibility to mentor--to make sure there are writers and professionals who represent the diversity of our country, to make sure they have access and opportunity and not just will."

Later in the conversation, the panelists all rejected the notion that "diverse fiction" is simply a trend and that it will pass like many other publishing trends. Yeh acknowledged that publishing is a business and that no one should forget that "we're in the business of making money by selling books," but said that these diverse books are selling for a reason.

Levithan noted that more and more publishers are moving away from the "problem novel," where the problem in the narrative is the main character's identity. "We want characters to be doing many things, where sometimes identity comes into play and sometimes it doesn't," he said. "We see a huge number of books on the bestseller list that affirm that notion."

"I think we all agree that diversity is not a trend, it's just the real world," said Ling. "We want our literature to reflect the real world. And that's what we're all pushing for."

Also brought up during the panel was the idea of "own voices," and the feeling of some authors that they are being told what they can or cannot write.

"My feeling is, if you're going to write a book about the enslavement of African Americans, then you have to do a little bit more than go to Wikipedia," Alexander offered as an example. It takes more than some secondary research, he continued, for an author to write about a community or culture with which they are not intimately involved. "I think anybody can write about anything, but you've got to be authentic about it.... I don't think you can haphazardly do it." --Alex Mutter


#BEA16: What I Learned at BEA & BookCon

1. When a Chicago taxi driver asks you what you think about "everything," then insists that it is a simple question, don't engage.

2. One good way to express that it's raining heavily is to say, "Wet as rain on a river." I came up with this on that handle-clencher of a cab ride while looking at rain on the river. There were numerous other opportunities to see rain on the river during BookExpo.

At the lively and fascinating Simon & Schuster Children's author breakfast, hosted by Becky Anderson of Anderson's Bookshop: (l.-r.) Jason Reynolds (As Brave As You); Laurie Halse Anderson (Ashes); S.J. Kincaid (The Diabolic); Jennifer Weiner (The Littlest Bigfoot); James Hannibal (The Lost Property Office).

3. At an author breakfast hosted by Simon & Schuster Children's, Laurie Halse Anderson offered some valuable advice: the number-one rule of trilogy writing is not to turn in book one until you have finished writing books two and three. (Ashes, due in October, concludes her award-winning Seeds of America trilogy.)

4. S.J. Kincaid noted that her new book, The Diabolic (S&S), has been described as "Terminator meets House of Cards in space."

5. At the YA Editors' Buzz panel, Lee Byrd of Cinco Puntos Press said, "Publishing is like writing, an act of self-discovery. Our books are always taking us someplace new." She introduced Sonia Patel's Rani Patel in Full Effect, and defined "in full effect" to those not in the know as... to be in your element, fully present and "ON."

What happens after show hours? Here, at Candlewick's superstar-packed cocktail party at Hubbard Inn, Julie Poling (left) and Holly Weinkauf from St. Paul's Red Balloon Bookshop goof around with the Princess in Black series co-authors Shannon Hale and Dean Hale.

6. When you see someone whose name you should know at a conference but don't, grab his or her badge and exclaim, "I didn't know you spelled your name that way!"

7. Daniel Kraus, author of The Death and Life of Zebulon Finch (S&S) and Booklist editor, identified a curious YA trend during the Trends in Young Adult panel: books with organ-donation themes. As proof, he listed Tiffany Schmidt's Break Me Like a Promise (Bloomsbury); Chandler Baker's Alive (Disney-Hyperion), Amber Kizer's Pieces of Me (Delacorte) and Michelle Andreani and Mindi Scott's The Way Back to You (Katherine Tegen), to name a few.

8. Other YA trends spotted: politically themed books, epic fantasy set in diverse lands, Shakespeare retellings, psychological thrillers, murder mysteries, magical realism, strange diseases and "really long books."

9. Daniel Kraus also said anecdotal evidence would indicate that writers consider social media to be a bad influence on their work--that "even those who seem excited don't like it."

Macmillan Children's Publishing Group hosted a festive BEA lunch. Left to right: Angus Killick (v-p, associate publisher) with author Candace Fleming and Caldecott artist Eric Rohmann, who are collaborating on Giant Squid (Roaring Brook).

10. When Sam Winston (co-author/illustrator with Oliver Jeffers of Candlewick's A Child of Books) had an empty seat next to him at the Candlewick-sponsored Children's Book & Author Breakfast, I scooted over. He said, "Thanks... Nobody wants to be a 'Billy No Mates,' " evidently a British expression for someone without friends. (I asked him if the British also say "Johnny One Note." He said no.)

11. At the We Need Diverse Books Presents: Love & Loss in Children's Literature panel at BookCon, Sherman Alexie (Thunder Boy, Jr., Little, Brown) said that when he brushes his teeth, he does not think, "I am a Native American brushing my teeth."

12. At that same panel, Mexico-born author Francisco X. Stork (Irises, The Memory of Light, Arthur A. Levine/Scholastic) said he was inspired to write by a girl named Betty who told him her parents didn't want her to date Mexicans. So he says "Thank you, Betty!" because that very night he started keeping a journal.

13. Same panel: Gene Luen Yang, the fifth National Ambassador of Young People's Literature, is not "super into hugging."

14. At a panel called The Power and Importance of Historical Fiction for Teens, Ruta Sepetys (author of Salt to the Sea from Philomel) confided that she has a five-foot portrait of Roald Dahl in her house. She also said she thinks World War II stories are so popular because they show us that "progress is possible."

15. If you plan to make instant oatmeal in your hotel room with your coffee maker, bring a spoon in your suitcase. Without a spoon, it's not instantly clear how to get the cooked oatmeal from the highball glass into your mouth. --Karin Snelson, children's & YA editor, Shelf Awareness


Hallmark Cards Creates Picture Book Award

Hallmark Cards is creating an annual Hallmark Great Stories Award to honor children's picture books that "celebrate family, friendship and community." The winning book will receive a $10,000 prize, split between the illustrator and author, and be available in Hallmark Gold Crown stores. Publishers can submit titles released in the U.S. between January 1 and December 31, 2016, for the inaugural award in March 2017.

"For more than 100 years, Hallmark has encouraged people to tell and share stories that celebrate the very best in the human heart and soul," said Amy Winterscheidt, the award's director and committee chair. "Our goal with this award is to honor stories that will endure in the minds and hearts of readers … stories that become a valued, shared memory between people. We are interested in all kinds of stories but primarily are looking for themes of togetherness and community."

Winners will be selected by a committee of experts in child development, storytelling, literacy and library science, and a pair of senior Hallmark artists and writers.


Notes

Image of the Day: Tornado at river's end

A.S. King, author of I Crawl Through It and many other award-winning books for young adults, visited the river's end bookstore in Oswego, N.Y., last week, where she gave a reading from her upcoming Still Life with Tornado (Dutton, October). Here she is with some of her fans. Nice footnote: the river's end bookstore celebrates its 18th anniversary on May 18, tomorrow!

Grand Opening Set for Third Place Books' Third Store

Congratulations to Third Place Books, which is holding grand opening celebrations for its third store, Third Place Seward Park, in Seattle, Wash., this Saturday and Sunday, May 21 and 22. Events include a range of book signings with authors, including Maria Semple (Where'd You Go Bernadette?); Tim Egan (Immortal Irishman); Garth Stein (Sudden Light); Tom Nissley (Reader's Book of Days); Ken Jennings (Dinosaurs, Junior Genius Guide); Jim Lynch (Before the Wind); and Johnny Evison (This Is Your Life Harriet Chance).

Third Place has stores in Lake Forest Park, Wash., and in the Ravenna neighborhood of Seattle. Its Seward Park store, a 7,200-square-foot space that has been extensively renovated, will sell new and used books and include Raconteur, a restaurant created by the owners of the Flying Squirrel Pizza Company, which has three locations, including one in Seward Park.


Volumes Bookcafe 'Is Not Your Average Bookstore'

Volumes Bookcafe, which opened in Chicago's Wicker Park neighborhood earlier this spring, is now the place "where all your coffee breaks, sweet tooth cravings, literary searches and booze moods will be fulfilled," Chicago Parent reported, adding that the "2,000-square-foot independent bookstore, the brainchild of sisters Rebecca George and Kimberly George, is home to a great selection of the newest books on the market and other treats including local beers and pastries."

"We created the space for anyone in the community," said Rebecca George.


Personnel Changes at Rodale Books

At Rodale Books:

Kathleen Schmidt has been appointed associate publisher. She was formerly v-p of marketing and publicity at Running Press and simultaneously v-p, director of corporate communications at Perseus Books Group. She earlier had her own PR and marketing firm, KMSPR; was marketing and publicity director of Weinstein Books, was v-p, director of marketing and publicity for Atria Books and publicity and marketing director of Dutton & Gotham Books.

Yelena Gitlin Nesbit has been promoted to executive director of strategic development & communications. She joined the company in 2008.

Jennifer Levesque has been promoted to v-p, editorial director. She joined the company in 2013.


Media and Movies

Media Heat: Pulitzer-Winner Viet Thanh Nguyen on Fresh Air

Today:
Fresh Air: Viet Thanh Nguyen, author of The Sympathizer: A Novel (Grove Press, $16, 9780802124944).

Tomorrow:
Dr. Oz: Josh Axe, author of Eat Dirt: Why Leaky Gut May Be the Root Cause of Your Health Problems and 5 Surprising Steps to Cure It (Harper Wave, $27.99, 9780062433640).


Movies: The Irishman

In "a huge deal for international rights that could be a recent record for Cannes," Martin Scorsese's The Irishman, adapted by Steve Zaillian (Gangs of New York, Schindler's List, Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) from Charles Brandt's book I Heard You Paint Houses, has landed at STX Entertainment, Deadline reported, adding that "the buy could be worth as much as $50 million."

The agreement "comes after Fabrica de Cine closed a deal with Paramount at week's end to finance the film. That's similar to the structure set last year at Cannes for Scorsese's Silence--to the tune of some $100 million," Deadline wrote. "Paramount will retain domestic on the picture, which hopes to reunite Scorsese with Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci and Harvey Keitel, as well as to team Al Pacino with Scorsese for the first time in their storied careers."


Books & Authors

Awards: Man Booker International; Nau Civil War Book

South Korean author Han Kang has won the 2016 Man Booker International Prize, which recognizes "the finest global fiction in translation," for her novel The Vegetarian, translated by Deborah Smith. Both author and translator receive £25,000 (about $36,150).

Boyd Tonkin, chair of the judging panel, said The Vegetarian "is an unforgettably powerful and original novel.... Told in three voices, from three different perspectives, this concise, unsettling and beautifully composed story traces an ordinary woman's rejection of all the conventions and assumptions that bind her to her home, family and society. In a style both lyrical and lacerating, it reveals the impact of this great refusal both on the heroine herself and on those around her. This compact, exquisite and disturbing book will linger long in the minds, and maybe the dreams, of its readers. Deborah Smith's perfectly judged translation matches its uncanny blend of beauty and horror at every turn."

---

Defining Duty in the Civil War: Personal Choice, Popular Culture, and the Union Home Front by J. Matthew Gallman (University of North Carolina Press) has won the inaugural $25,000 Bobbie and John Nau Book Prize in American Civil War Era History, sponsored by the John L. Nau III Center for Civil War History at the University of Virginia.

The judges commented: "A pioneering scholar of Civil War social and cultural history, Gallman examines a wide range of wartime stories, poems, political cartoons, novels, pamphlets, and other printed materials to show how men and women on the Union home front struggled to delineate their patriotic obligations, and grappled with issues such as conscription, cowardice, and profiteering."


Book Review

Review: Eccentric Orbits: The Iridium Story

Eccentric Orbits: The Iridium Story by John Bloom (Atlantic Monthly Press, $27.50 hardcover, 9780802121684, June 7, 2016)

John Bloom's Eccentric Orbits does for the 1990s birth of the satellite phone industry what Tracy Kidder's Soul of a New Machine did for the next-generation computer business. It's a wild story about the rise and fall and rise again of Motorola's Iridium network--a colossal business gamble, massive bankruptcy and remarkable rebirth. Texas journalist Bloom, aka redneck movie critic persona Joe Bob Briggs (Joe Bob Goes to the Drive In), combed newspaper archives, patent filings, stock offering memoranda, NASA records, bankruptcy documents and transcribed interviews to spin his tale of corporate hubris and groundbreaking science. With a deep cast of characters, Eccentric Orbits is like George Lucas's Star Wars saga--complicated, seemingly never-ending and thrilling.

Famous for its engineering and early development of the walkie-talkie, 8-track tape players and semi-conductors, Motorola was the world leader in cell phones when the basic idea for Iridium took shape in 1987. With one gigantic engineering undertaking, Motorola saw a way to solve two mobile phone problems--eliminate "dropped calls" whenever phones lost contact with cell towers and side-step the huge cost and logistical nightmare of covering the earth with more towers. Its solution: launch 77 (the atomic number of the element iridium) non-equatorial Low Earth Orbit satellites to blanket the globe with phone coverage. Gathering scientists and mathematicians from across the world, Motorola set up the spin-off Iridium in Chandler, Ariz., and drummed up support from governments (including China and Russia), telecommunication multi-nationals and farsighted private investors. Iridium was born to much fanfare--the first truly global phone network that would bring the miracle of connectivity to the farthest, emptiest, most primitive corners of the world, enriching the lives of everyone.

But Motorola forgot the first axiom of business: nothing happens until somebody sells something. It turned out there was a reason its competitors were using equatorial satellites and cell towers: that was where the customers were. By 1999, Iridium, a $6 billion science fair project that not enough people wanted or could afford, was bankrupt--until former Pan Am CEO Dan Colussy came out of retirement to save the technological marvel Motorola had created.

Bloom is an exhaustive reporter with a knack for choice metaphors and skewed descriptions. For example, he quotes Colussy interviews about the quest to raise money from Wall Street whiz-kids ("guys in their pajamas with laptops") before finally recognizing the sales revenue problem: "You weren't going to be able to monetize this company with Himalayan mountain climbers and Congolese diamond prospectors." Bloom dips into the scientific details of space aeronautics and orbit algorithms. He explains the technology behind all those cell phone acronyms like GSM and CDMA that nobody understands. Chronicling Colussy's endless but successful fundraising and negotiating, Bloom concludes: "The most complicated satellite constellation ever devised was saved because of the persistence of a single man." Funny, informative, exciting, Eccentric Orbits is the kind of business book that should be turned into one of those movies that Joe Bob Briggs likes to review. --Bruce Jacobs, founding partner, Watermark Books & Cafe, Wichita, Kan.

Shelf Talker: A business book that reads like a thriller complete with heroes, villains, subplots and intrigue; John Bloom's Eccentric Orbits is a sprawling masterpiece of history and reporting.


The Bestsellers

Top-Selling Self-Published Titles

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

1. Mister O by Lauren Blakely
2. Stuck-Up Suit by Vi Keeland and Penelope Ward
3. Shifters in the Spring by Various
4. Dare to Take (Dare to Love Volume 6) by Carly Phillips
5. Jack and Coke (The Uncertain Saints Book 2) by Lani Lynn Vale
6. The Exception by Sandi Lynn
7. The Game Plan (Game On Series Book 3) by Kristen Callihan
8. Mr. Perfect by JA Huss
9. Monday by E.L. Todd
10. Dirty Billionaire by Meghan March

[Many thanks to IndieReader.com!]


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