Shelf Awareness for Friday, March 24, 2017


Harper: Only Killers and Thieves by Paul Howarth

Mira Books: Rosie Colored Glasses by Brianna Wolfson

Little Brown and Company: The Which Way Tree by Elizabeth Crook

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

News

Breakwater Books Sold on Eve of 45th Anniversary

Congratulations to Breakwater Books, Guilford, Conn., which is celebrating its 45th anniversary the weekend of April 8-9--and celebrating a change of ownership!

Yesterday Liza Fixx, a bookseller at Breakwater for the past two years, purchased the store from Maureen Corcoran, who has owned it for 10 years. Corcoran bought the store from founder Marion Young.

Fixx, who is now owner and manager, described Corcoran as her mentor. "We will be maintaining the charm and essence of the store, while updating it cosmetically this spring," she added. Phase one includes a redo of the front of the store, with updated paint, lighting and carpeting. Phase two will include updating the back of the store, including a new work space for employees and a dedicated event space. Fixx also plans "to increase our presence on social media platforms, reaching more readers and future customers."

Fixx has worked at Joseph-Beth Booksellers in Lexington, Ky., and R.J. Julia Booksellers in nearby Madison, Conn. She also taught elementary school and worked in publicity and public relations.

The April 8-9 weekend celebrations include scavenger hunts both days, and on Saturday, live music from 12-2 p.m., a champagne toast 2-4 p.m, and prizes and raffles. Sunday's event schedule includes children's story time 11-11:30 a.m., a children's bookmark contest 1-3 p.m., and cake and juice, 2-4 p.m.


Sourcebooks Jabberwocky: The Very Very Very Long Dog by Julia Patton


Foyles Posts Second Consecutive Year of Profit

Foyles, the bookshop that in recent years rebuilt its flagship London store and has opened several branches outside London, had its second year of profit in a row, the Bookseller reported. In the year ended June 30, 2016, turnover rose 2.7%, to £25 million (about $31.2 million), and pretax profit rose more than 10 times, to £131,447 ($164,200) from £11,108 ($13,800).

Foyles CEO Paul Currie said that "early signs" indicate that Foyles will post a profit again in its current fiscal year.

Currie attributed the gains to a series of changes, many taken since his appointment in 2015. These include "a massive step-change in terms of people, changes in roles and responsibilities; we have created an omnichannel strategy; we have opened three new stores; and launched a children's festival which is now being held annually." The company also redesigned its website; coordinated pricing online with pricing in stores; equipped booksellers with iPads on the shop floor; added digital signage in new stores; and developed a comprehensive in-house training program focusing on customer service.

Currie said a major challenge remains operating a low-margin business when costs are rising for bricks-and-mortar retailers. The company also continues to work on how to move its "London-centric model" to new regional stores, and wants to open more stores. "We are very clear," he said. "There is an enormous opportunity for us."

He added, "Foyles is 114 years old, but everything we do is in that enterprising and innovative spirit of our founders. While the announcement that we've made a profit for the second year in a row is undoubtedly good news, we are aware we still have a lot of work to do."


Siglio Press: The Stampographer by Vincent Sardon


Hooyboer Named Third Place Books Manager

Kim Hooyboer

Kim Hooyboer is joining Seattle's Third Place Books as manager of its Seward Park store beginning mid–April. She previously worked at Powell's Books in Portland, Ore., for five years before moving to the East Coast to help open WORD Bookstore's Jersey City, N.J., location. In 2015, she returned to the Pacific Northwest and has been working at Elliott Bay Book Company. Hooyboer is chair of the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association Book Awards Committee, co-hosts the industry podcast Drunk Booksellers and is a co-founder of Indies Forward.

She succeeds Eric McDaniel, who worked for eight years as an assistant manager for Third Place Books at the Lake Forest Park store before helping to open and manage the Seward Park location in June 2016. McDaniel is leaving to focus on making art and to help his partner manage her yoga studio.

"I have always been very impressed with Kim and am thrilled to have this opportunity to work more closely with her," said Robert Sindelar, managing partner of Third Place Books, adding that McDaniel "has been a huge asset to Third Place Books and an invaluable partner in getting Seward Park on its feet. I am sad to see him go and will miss working and collaborating with him."


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


Kirby Larson Plans Amy Krouse Rosenthal Tribute for IBD

Amy Krouse Rosenthal

To celebrate the memory of children's author and filmmaker Amy Krouse Rosenthal, who died March 13, Newbery Honor-winning author Kirby Larson has called for a tribute to Rosenthal on her birthday, April 29, which is also Independent Bookstore Day. Larson is asking people to do #MoreforAKR--"more love, more kindness, more yellow umbrella moments"--and has created a Facebook page to share plans for the day. Larson reported that many authors and illustrators are pledging to read Rosenthal's books during their bookstore visits on IBD, while others are donating books in her memory. The bulk of the group's membership so far is made up of people in the kid lit world, but the group and event are open to all.

"Like many in the kid lit world, I felt bereft after the death of Amy Krouse Rosenthal," said Larson. "One sleepless night an idea came to me to ask people to pledge to do #MoreforAKR."


Freeform: The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton


Obituary Note: Bernie Wrightson

Bernie Wrightson, the prolific horror comic book artist who "was best known for co-creating the DC Comics monster Swamp Thing with Len Wein in 1971," died March 18, Variety reported. He was 68. Wrightson's many other projects include a 1983 version of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, "released by Marvel and comprised of 50 ink illustrations"; and the comic book adaptation of the Stephen King-written horror film Creepshow.

Twitter tributes came in from many contemporaries, including Neil Gaiman ("Bernie Wrightson was the first comics artist whose work I loved. Oddly, I don't mourn the artist. I mourn the lovely man who told bad jokes.") and Guillermo del Toro ("As it comes to all of us, the end came for the greatest that ever lived: Bernie Wrightson. My North dark star of youth. A master.").

In a Washington Post remembrance, Michael Cavna wrote: "Bernie Wrightson didn't draw lines so much as he seemed to summon them from the deep. His pen spun out dark and supernatural visions in such spellbinding detail that to some comics fans, Wrightson rendered Poe to be Baltimore's second greatest master of the macabre."


Notes

Image of the Day: The Principles Behind Flotation

Last night, Bookpeople of Moscow, Idaho, hosted the SRO launch party for Alexandra Teague's debut novel, The Principles Behind Flotation (Skyhorse Publishing). Teague is the author of the poetry collections Mortal Geography and The Wise and Foolish Builders, and teaches at the University of Idaho. Pictured: Teague (l.) with Bookpeople of Moscow owner Carol Spurling.


Cool Idea of the Day: Worldwide Blue Mind Online Book Club

Wallace J. Nichols, Day 66

Tomorrow, Buxton Village Books in Buxton, N.C., will host the Worldwide Blue Mind Online Book Club Finale, featuring Wallace J. Nichols, author of Blue Mind: The Surprising Science that Shows How Being Near, In, On or Under Water Can Make You Happier, Healthier, More Connected and Better at What You Do. Doors open at Avon Fire Hall at 6:30 p.m. and the bookstore will go live around the world, via Facebook Live, at 7 p.m.

Owner Gee Gee Rosell said: "As far as I can tell, this is the first ever worldwide Facebook Live platform online book club. The author has read pages every day for 67 days now [see Day 66 here]. We will meet here on Hatteras Island this Saturday to finish up. J (as the author is known) will be here from California."

"It's been an exciting experiment," Rosell added. "I think this promises to be a great platform for indies to connect readers with authors. I especially love it that using this new-ish media conveys that we indies are not fading but thriving and current."


'A Family Portrait of Boston Area Bookstores'

This week's e-newsletter from Brookline Booksmith, Brookline, Mass., began: "From time to time I proudly make mention of Booksmith's 56 years in Coolidge Corner, but we've only been on the scene for a little while, really. If you took a family portrait of Boston area bookstores, we're there in the back row with all the aunts and uncles: Trident, Rodney's, Newtonville, Children's Bookshop, Grolier, Raven. I like to think we're the cool aunt who's gonna try to mess up the picture.

'Papercuts, want to hear a secret?'
'What?'
'Fart.'

"Giggling, Papercuts JP almost falls off Grandpa Brattle Bookshop's lap. Porter Square Books rolls her eyes and puts bunny ears behind Harvard Book Store's head. Pressing the button to start the timer, New England Mobile Book Fair runs to get into the frame. Grandma Schoenhof just smiles indulgently, this will be her last time in the picture.

"Yes, after 161 years of bookselling in Harvard Square, Schoenhof's Foreign Books will open its doors for the last time on March 25th. The world-class expertise and service will continue online, which is a relief for all the rest of us booksellers, as we have been referring customers to Schoenhof's for as long as we've all been in business. Except Grandpa Brattle, who can still remember when President John Quincy Adams came in once to get quarters for the meter."


Personnel Changes at F+W Media, HarperCollins Children's

Allison Devlin is joining F+W Media as v-p, director of sales and marketing for books. She was most recently associate publisher, director of marketing, at Time Inc. Books. Before that she was v-p, marketing, at Running Press and held the same position at Potter Craft/Watson Guptill. Earlier she worked in children's books at Little, Brown and HarperCollins and began her career at DK.

---

Laura Kaplan has joined the HarperCollins Children's Books publicity/school and library team as publicity manager. She was a member of the HarperCollins Children's publicity team from 2008-2010, and more recently worked at Disney Publishing Worldwide and headed DLK Communications, a pr firm specializing in books and consumer products.


Media and Movies

Movies: Lincoln in the Bardo; Captain Underpants; Memory Thief

Megan Mullally (Will & Grace) and Nick Offerman (Parks & Recreation, The Founder) have acquired movie rights to Lincoln in the Bardo, the novel by George Saunders, Deadline reported. They will produce the adaptation with Saunders. No director or cast has been set thus far.

"I am thrilled to be in artistic cahoots with Megan and Nick, two artists I've long admired," Saunders said. "I can't imagine two more brilliant, wide-open, joyful collaborators. This is going to be big fun. My hope is that we can find a way to make the experience of getting this movie made as wild and enjoyable and unpredictable as the experience of writing it--I am so happy to have such fearless companions on the trip."

---

DreamWorks has released the first trailer for Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie, based on the children's graphic novel series created by Dav Pilkey. Indiewire reported that "the studio used two of the biggest stars of the film, Kevin Hart and Ed Helms, to introduce the teaser." Directed by David Soren (Merry Madagascar, Turbo), the animated comedy's voice cast also features Thomas Middleditch. Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie hits theaters June 2.

---

The Memory Thief, a live-action/animated feature based on Bryce Moore's novel, "is being planned at Fox Animation, which acquired the novel for its hybrid initiative," Deadline reported, adding that the project is being produced by Adaptive Studios and Shawn Levy's 21 Laps (Arrival), and "the crew clearly is hoping for a franchise as Moore is already writing a sequel to his tome."

The title was published by Adaptive Books, the publishing imprint of Adaptive Studios, after it acquired the manuscript from the now-defunct Egmont Publishing USA, Deadline wrote, noting that the book was first available exclusively at Barnes & Noble bookstores last September, but got a wider release this week. 



Books & Authors

Awards: Anisfield-Wolf; NYPL Young Lions

The winners of the 82nd Annual Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards, sponsored by the Cleveland Foundation and honoring "literature that confronts racism and examines diversity," are:

Fiction: The Fortunes by Peter Ho Davies
Fiction: The Association of Small Bombs by Karan Mahajan
Nonfiction: Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly
Poetry: Olio by Tyehimba Jess
Lifetime achievement: Isabel Allende

"The new Anisfield-Wolf winners broaden our insights on race and diversity," said Henry Louis Gates, Jr., who chaired the jury. "This year, we honor a breakthrough history of black women mathematicians powering NASA, a riveting novel of the Asian American experience, a mesmerizing, poetic exploration of forgotten black musical performance and a spellbinding story of violence and its consequences. All is capped by the lifetime achievement of Isabel Allende, an unparalleled writer and philanthropist."

---

Finalists have been announced for the $10,000 New York Public Library Young Lions Fiction Award, "honoring the works of five commanding, diverse, young authors" aged 35 or younger. The winner will be named June 1. This year's finalists are:

We Show What We Have Learned by Clare Beams
The Mothers by Brit Bennett
We Love You Charlie Freeman by Kaitlyn Greenidge
Here Comes the Sun by Nicole Dennis-Benn
The Association of Small Bombs by Karan Mahajan


Reading with... Michael Taeckens

photo: Ben Schott

Michael Taeckens is a literary publicist and co-founder of Broadside PR. He writes the Reviewers & Critics column for Poets & Writers and, with his Broadside PR colleagues Kimberly Burns and Whitney Peeling, the "Ask the Publicists" column at Lit Hub.

On your nightstand now:

My nightstand is overflowing: Poetry Will Save Your Life by Jill Bialosky; John Lewis's March trilogy; Liz Moore's The Unseen World; Bill Hayes's Insomniac City; Layli Long Soldier's Whereas; Safiya Sinclair's Cannibal; Mohsin Hamid's Exit West; Elan Mastai's All Our Wrong Todays; Adam Alter's Irresistible; Idra Novey's Ways to Disappear; and manuscripts/galleys for some of my upcoming summer/fall projects: Christopher Bollen's The Destroyers, Matthew Zapruder's Why Poetry and Kevin Young's Bunk: The Rise of Hoaxes, Hucksters, Humbug, Plagiarists, Forgeries, Phonies, Post-Facts, and Fake News.

Favorite book when you were a child:

Frog & Toad Are Friends. If you want to cry uncontrollably, read the New Yorker piece on the author, Arnold Lobel.

Your top five authors:

This is practically impossible for me to do, but today, right now, they are Virginia Woolf, James Baldwin, Gaston Bachelard, Carson McCullers, Rainer Maria Rilke--all writers whose work on the sentence/line level fills me with awe.

Book you've faked reading:

I've never faked reading a book, but I did once fake keeping a "reader's journal" for a college class on James Joyce. I actually wrote the journal, I just did it all the night before it was due--along with three of my fellow classmates, all creating their own journals--back-dating the entries with different colored pens and the occasional pencil, creating coffee-mug rings here and there. (Years later I confessed to the professor, who laughed and decided not to retroactively flunk us.)

Book you're an evangelist for:

Anne Carson's Plainwater is a compendium of all of her early work leading up to Autobiography of Red. In the late '80s, I photocopied everything I could find by her in various literary journals--Plainwater includes all of that, plus more.

Book you've bought for the cover:

Zadie Smith's short story anthology The Book of Other People, which features work by George Saunders, ZZ Packer, Edwidge Danticat, Hari Kunzru and more. I'm a sucker for any cover art by Charles Burns.

Book you hid from your parents:

The Best Little Boy in the World by John Reid. Back in ye olden pre-Internet days, it was pretty tough finding out what it was like for other LGBTQ people if you were a closeted kid who had no idea what your future held. Left Bank Books, my hometown indie bookstore in St. Louis, had a Gay & Lesbian literature section. The mere fact that they had such a section let me know it was okay to buy something from it without anyone, I don't know, arresting me. This book is probably horribly outdated now (it was outdated when I read it in 1985), but reading about someone else's coming-out experience--and discovering that everything worked out just fine--was enormously comforting to a young teen who thought he might have to become a priest to avoid going to hell.

Book that changed your life:

Linda Gregg's Too Bright to See was the first book of contemporary poetry I bought on my own in high school. It stunned me from the very first line of the first poem "We Manage Most When We Manage Small" ("What things are steadfast? Not the birds.") and led to my reading countless other poets and pursuing undergrad and grad degrees in the incredibly lucrative field of creative writing. I've probably read this book a hundred times.

Character you most relate to:

The farmer lion on the cover of Richard Scarry's Best Storybook Ever! (1967). I at least aspire to be like him.

Favorite lines from a book:

"Complacencies of the peignoir, and late
Coffee and oranges in a sunny chair,
And the green freedom of a cockatoo
Upon a rug mingle to dissipate
The holy hush of ancient sacrifice."
--"Sunday Morning" by Wallace Stevens

Five books you'll never part with:

There are about 1,000 books I'd never part with, but here are a few, all of which have sentimental value for one reason or another: Giovanni's Room by James Baldwin, Collected Stories by Amy Hempel, A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry, Don't Let Me Be Lonely by Claudia Rankine and Austerlitz by W.G. Sebald.

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

Kazuo Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go. I think about this book all the time and envy those who haven't read it yet.

Five favorite books you've read in the past year:

Not counting any books I worked on/authors I worked with: The North Water by Ian Macguire, The Sport of Kings by C.E. Morgan, The Story of a Brief Marriage by Anuk Arudpragasam, The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead and The Red Parts by Maggie Nelson.


Book Review

Review: Walkaway

Walkaway by Cory Doctorow (Tor, $26.99 hardcover, 384p., 9780765392763, April 25, 2017)

Cory Doctorow--Internet doyen and successful author in a range of genres, from YA novels like Little Brother to the nonfiction manifesto Information Doesn't Want to Be Free--returns to adult fiction with his novel Walkaway. In Walkaway, dystopia and utopia rub shoulders uncomfortably, offering a nuanced vision of the future that is both believably extrapolated and a prime arena to showcase Doctorow's signature techno-philosophic preoccupations.

The novel opens in dystopia with bantering malcontents Seth, Natalie and Hubert, Etc. (so nicknamed for his 20-odd middle names) meeting at a "Communist party," where they flirt with counterculture ideas while dodging the watchful eye of the establishment. When the party ends in tragedy, the trio is inspired to drop out of society and join the "walkaways," a group of people resembling technophilic hippies in their idealism and revolutionary lifestyle. Each character finds his or her place among the dreamers after making the harsh adjustment to a society organized in direct counterpoint to the dog-eat-dog, wildly unequal capitalist norms of what they come to refer to as Default.

Doctorow's walkaways are chatty people, prone to extended soliloquys and Socratic dialogues that eat up dozens of pages. The point, of course, is to communicate Doctorow's ideas to the reader as well as the protagonists. It might be wearying were it not for the counterintuitive, fascinating, sometimes competing nature of the ideas. Doctorow's world is violent and unfair, but the walkaways themselves are a surprising font of optimism. Their difficult-to-summarize worldview is based in the conviction that "you got the world you hoped for or the world you feared--your hope or your fear made it so." Doctorow queues up plenty of characters to question the truth of that maxim, but they always seem to end up on the losing end of the argument.

The walkaways' idealism is supported by nearly miraculous technological achievements--they live in a "post-scarcity" society where questions of food and shelter are more or less solved by printers capable of manufacturing almost anything at a moment's notice. Drones and zeppelins inhabit the skies while humans can use exoskeletons to lift large objects and imbibe a wild variety of drugs in order to manage their mental state. The walkaways even seem to have cracked a problem that Default's hyper-rich "zottas" have failed to solve for years: how to live forever. That discovery prompts a vicious crackdown from Default, escalating quickly into a war pitting hacktivist egalitarians against tyrannical robber barons.

Walkaway is awash in unrestrained nerdery, including what has to be the best description of the psychology of watching a progress bar ever put to digital paper. Doctorow is teaching, but he's also having fun, and it's a pleasure to watch him twist the two together. The novel is given velocity by its embrace of love: love for technology, love for science, love for nature, Earth and the human race. Walkaway is a running argument with a fun, funny nerd looking at the future with a mix of fear and hope. --Hank Stephenson, bookseller, Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill, N.C.

Shelf Talker: Cory Doctorow's vision of the future pits a rag-tag group of techno-utopians against the dystopian forces of unchecked capitalism.


Deeper Understanding

Robert Gray: Is there Poetry in Sales Numbers?

The uplift in sales of the poetry sector,
first reported last autumn,
has been attributed to a host of factors,
including increased diversity
among poets
and young people discovering
works
through social media.

--The Bookseller (edited for poetic effect) 

Tuesday was UNESCO's World Poetry Day ("Let's celebrate #poetry's power to shake us from everyday life."). I kept thinking of money. I didn't feel guilty because BookNet Canada's annual sales report, The Canadian Book Market 2016, recently noted that sales of poetry books grew 79% last year, "largely due to the success of Canadian poet Rupi Kaur's debut collection, Milk and Honey." The category had increased 10% in 2015, 8% in 2014 and 5% in 2013, and now accounts for 0.37% of the print book market in Canada.

Meanwhile, the Bookseller reported this week that 2016 was the best on record for the poetry category through Nielsen, with 1.078 million poetry books selling for £9.9 million [about $12.4 million]. BookScan statistics show that in 2017 sales are already up 16% in volume to 86,664 copies in the first quarter and 10.9% up in value to £787,800.

Susannah Herbert, executive director at the Forward Arts Foundation and National Poetry Day director, noted that eight of the 10 bestselling contemporary poetry books of 2016 authored by a single person were by women, which she said was helping to grow young female audiences. 

Money is a kind of poetry
A few years ago in the Financial Times, John Lanchester cited a famous Wallace Stevens line ("money is a kind of poetry") and noted that he'd said this "a number of times to people who work with money, and they always seem to know what Stevens meant--even though it's a hard remark to paraphrase. Money is like poetry because both involve learning to communicate in a compressed language that packs a lot of meaning and consequence into the minimum semantic space. It's also like poetry because there is a kind of beauty in the way money works, at least in the mathematical abstract: an absence of hypocrisy, or redundancy, or floweriness, or of anything that is there purely for its own sake."

On World Poetry Day, I kept seeing money:

In a poem on Twitter from London's West End Lane Books:

With #WorldPoetryDay,
the inevitable marketing ploy.
Yes, you guessed,
20% off here ahoy.

In multi-billionaire Richard Branson's "A poem for all entrepreneurs," which he wrote in tribute to his favorite author, Dr. Seuss. It ends: 

Make bold moves, but always play fair,
Always say please and thank you--it's cool to care.

Do what you love and love what you do,
This advice is nothing new.

Now, stop worrying about whether your business will be a hit,
Rise to the challenge and say "screw it, let's do it!"

In this "Poetry Evening"cartoon for the Guardian

Modern Toss/the Guardian

And in Vienna-based coffee roaster Julius Meinl 's annual Pay With A Poem promotion "to awaken inner poets across the globe, and ultimately, showcase the power poetry has to increase optimism." In January of this year, Julius Meinl commissioned a study that found:

  • Of those that have ever written poetry, the majority (54%) haven't since childhood
  • Nearly a fifth of the population believes that poetry is only likely to be written by the well-educated, or members of the 'literati'
  • Just one in 10 people think poetry is likely to be written by people other than well-educated literature fans
  • 7% of people have never read a poem in their lifetime 

Poetry is not a luxury
In her World Poetry Day 2017 message, UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova said: "Poetry is not a luxury. It lies at the heart of who we are as women and men, living together today, drawing on the heritage of past generations, custodians of the world for our children and grandchildren."

Emma Smith, commissioning editor at Trapeze, told the Bookseller: "Poetry is on the move again: the publishers and booksellers are still obviously vital but--with a few notable exceptions--they have been quite slow to clock how the landscape has changed. If they would just invest in training their poets up in the use of Instagram and YouTube the market would grow even faster."

Michael Schmidt, managing and editorial director of Carcanet Press, observed: "The poetry market is rather erratic just now with some books selling extremely well. The reasons are the same old same old.... Certainly social media contributes to people's (not only young people's) awareness of specific poets and particular events. I don't think poetry as a category is in spate, but certain poets certainly are."

Keep reading. Keep listening. Keep buying. Keep talking. Poetry is a kind of currency ("the fact or quality of being generally accepted or in use").

--Robert Gray, contributing editor (Column archives available at Fresh Eyes Now)

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