Shelf Awareness for Tuesday, June 20, 2017


Flatiron Books: Oliver Loving by Stefan Merrill Block

Scholastic Press: All the Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater

Riverhead Books: My Absolute Darling by Gabriel Tallent

Barron's Educational Series: Dear Dinosaur: With Real Letters to Read! by Chae Strathie, illustrated by Nicola O'Byrne

Timber Press: Saving Tarboo Creek: One Family's Quest to Heal the Land by Scott Freeman

News

In Response: Amazon Gobbles Whole Foods Market

Last Friday, when Amazon announced its proposed acquisition (aka "definitive merger agreement") of Whole Foods Market, general media response and analysis was swift. The book industry and its allies, however, have been watching and adjusting to Amazon's overreach longer than most other businesses, and their reactions are well worth noting. 

Stacy Mitchell, co-director of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance and co-author of Amazon's Stranglehold, issued the following statement: "Amazon's acquisition of Whole Foods raises significant anti-competitive issues that should be deeply concerning to federal antitrust regulators and the public. This deal would allow Amazon to leverage the Whole Foods chain in ways that would expand its monopoly power in online commerce, including by integrating these locations into its rapidly growing logistics and delivery network. And it would give Amazon, which already sells more clothing, books, toys, and consumer electronics than any other retailer, a substantial share of an even bigger consumer goods category, groceries. Regulators should block this acquisition."

Lacy Simons

Lacy Simons, owner of hello hello books in Rockland, Maine, addressed the development in an extensive editorial: "This acquisition invites Amazon into our states and our towns in an unprecedented way, and gives them access to a grid they've been salivating over for a long, long time. It's ridiculous, given Amazon's monopoly on so much, this deal was allowed to go through, and I do hope there's an antitrust case against it. Just as significant, though, is the worry that as a nation, we're just letting it happen, because it's so easy."

Simons noted that "the majority of the special orders of used books we do for our customers are through ABE (which was once the most reliable, reputable source for quality used books, and is now, of course, owned by Amazon) and Amazon itself (which, no surprise, has about 95% of the online used book market cornered.)... This has always felt like a necessary evil--if we want to offer the service of ordering used books for people, we want to give them the widest possible array of choices.... The loss of their percentage of sales from used book special orders won't do much to Amazon's bottom line, but we're divesting. We're done. We're shutting down our ABE and Amazon accounts and limiting our used book special orders to much smaller companies, and we're raising our special order fee to $5 in order to establish a more sustainable approach to this service. I'll be frank: we might not be able to order as wide a variety of used books as we have before, and what we're able to order might not come as cheap; some of you may choose to skip doing those orders with us and do it yourself, and that's really okay. If you're dedicated to us, as so many of you thankfully are, I hope you'll understand why we're making this shift."

Jarek Steele

On Facebook, Jarek Steele, co-owner of Left Bank Books in St. Louis, Mo., posted: "Amazon (Jeff Bezos) used the book industry as a loss leader to take over the electronic entertainment industry (kindles lead to fire sticks and multimedia streaming) and general supply distribution, (and hired the united states postal service to make deliveries exclusively for amazon on sundays) then used that as leverage to own part of the media and movie industry (Amazon Prime for tv and movies and the Washington Post for news) and now is moving on to groceries (Amazon Fresh and Whole Foods)....

"If you think this will stop here, you are a fool. If you're not creeped out and terrified by this, I don't know what to say.... You want to be a part of a real resistance? Buy from local independent sources, Straubs (or other local grocers), Left Bank Books (or other local booksellers) or at the very least buy from a place that isn't owned by amazon."


Conari Press: Swimming with Elephants: My Unexpected Pilgrimage from Physician to Healer by Sarah Bamford Seidelmann


Bliss Books & Bindery to Open in Stillwater, Okla.

Bliss Books & Bindery owner Roger Mullins is planning a September opening for his community bookstore at 118 E. 9th Ave. in Stillwater, Okla., occupying the ground floor commercial space below the Ninth Street Lofts, the News Press reported. The shop will carry new and used books, host events and offer letterpress printing services as well as bindery and book repair services. A Kickstarter campaign is underway to help with financing.

The bookshop's name was inspired by a Joseph Campbell quote that his wife, Patricia, has always loved: "Follow your bliss and don't be afraid." They had talked about and dreamed of opening a bookstore for years. Bliss is also their dog's name.

Bliss's co-founder and namesake

"We want to have a comfortable place where everyone feels welcome," Mullins said.

On Bliss Books & Bindery's Facebook page, Mullins noted that he has worked at several bookstores, including Brazos Books in Houston, Tex., Copperfield's Books in Napa, Calif., and Chanticleer Books in Sonoma, Calif. "In my various roles I have been a sales clerk, handled shipping and receiving, bought used books, ordered new books, advertised events and arranged readings and signings, and hired and trained excellent sales staff.

"I have long wanted to do more for the community and the arts. When the bookstore Hastings went out of business in Stillwater, I saw not only an opportunity to fill a gap and a need, but also to create a space that is greater than the sum of its parts."


Avery Publishing Group: The End of Alzheimer's: The First Program to Prevent and Reverse Cognitive Decline by Dale Bredesen


Chicago Review Press Acquires Bright Ideas for Learning Series

Chicago Review Press has acquired all 11 titles in the Bright Ideas for Learning arts-education series originally published by Bright Ring Publishing, effective July 1. Independent Publishers Group will continue to distribute all new and backlist Bright Ideas for Learning titles, including Discovering Great Artists, Action Art, Great American Artists for Kids, Science Arts, Storybook Art, Good Earth Art, Scribble Art, Mudworks, Mudworks Bilingual Edition, MathArts and Making Make-Believe. Chicago Review Press will not bring on any Bright Ring Publishing staff.

Author, publisher and educational consultant MaryAnn F. Kohl founded Bright Ring Publishing in 1985. Her first arts book for children was Scribble Cookies, released in 1986. She will continue working as an educator, author, literary agent and consultant.


Soho Teen: No Saints in Kansas by Amy Brashear


Pottermore Launches Official Wizarding World Book Club

Yesterday, Pottermore launched the official Wizarding World Book Club and revealed the discussion themes for the first month. Available free to all registered users of Pottermore, the club offers members an opportunity to join a global community of HP readers focusing on the same book at the same time. It is available on pottermore.com, working with the Harry Potter print publishers Bloomsbury and Scholastic, and Pottermore's digital publishing business.

The book club begins with Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. Pottermore will host curated content specific to each book. There will also be Twitter discussions hosted on the Wizarding World Book Club Twitter account, @wwbookclub, every Friday at 4 p.m. BST, beginning June 23.

"We have launched the Wizarding World Book Club in response to a strong demand from our community for a destination to discuss the many nuances and themes of the books" said Henriette Stuart-Reckling, global digital director, Pottermore. "The Wizarding World Book Club provides an exciting opportunity for Harry Potter fans to share their thoughts about key scenes, plot points, motivations and characters from the series with a vast global community."


She Writes Press: Things Unsaid by Diana Y. Paul


Obituary Note: A.R. Gurney

A.R. Gurney, a prolific playwright "who dissected the fading folkways of the Northeast's traditional white Anglo-Saxon Protestant society, of which he himself was a member, in plays like The Middle Ages, The Dining Room and The Cocktail Hour," died June 13, the New York Times reported. He was 86. "With its focus on the quirks and barely concealed anxieties of the privileged class, Mr. Gurney's work was often likened to that of the novelist John Cheever and the playwright Philip Barry," the Times noted. 

"What seems to obsess me," he once said, "is the contrast between the world and the values I was immersed in when I was young, and the nature of the contemporary world."

Gurney was also the author of three novels: The Gospel According to Joe, Entertaining Strangers and The Snow Ball.


Shelf Awareness Sign-up Giveaway: Without Merit by Colleen Hoover


Notes

Tubby and Coo's, White Birch Books Win Blackout Bookstore Challenge

Tubby and Coo's Mid-City Book Shop in New Orleans, La., and White Birch Books in North Conway, N.H., have each won $2,000 prizes in the Blackout Bookstore Challenge, publisher Sourcebooks announced. The contest, to promote the U.S. release of Marc Elsberg's disaster thriller Blackout (June 6), about terrorist attacks wiping out the electrical grids in Europe and the United States, called for independent bookstores to put together a #BlackoutChallenge social media campaign and asked readers to vote for the indie most likely to survive the blackout.

Tubby and Coo's won the prize for receiving the most reader votes, while White Birch Books won for having the most creative social media campaign, which involved posting videos of staff members "surviving" in the bookstore. In addition to the prizes given to White Birch Books and Tubby and Coo's, Sourcebooks awarded prizes to readers who voted for indie bookstores. The grand prize winner took home a $250 gift card for their local indie along with a blackout survival kit, featuring a tent, sleeping bag, books, a flashlight and food; 12 second-place winners each received a $50 gift card.


Design with Reach's Favorite Bookstores in L.A.

Design with Reach's blog Design Notes shared "our favorite bookstores in Los Angeles," noting that "while shooting our June catalog in Los Angeles, we checked out the local bookstores. The following are our favorites, each a treasure trove in its own way."

Featured booksellers included Arcana: Books on the Arts in Culver City, Book Soup in West Hollywood, Hennessey + Ingalls in the Downtown Arts District, Skylight Books in Los Feliz and the Last Bookstore in downtown L.A.


Personnel Changes at Chronicle Books

Eugenia Pakalik is joining Chronicle Books as the director of trade sales. Previously she was the director of sales & operations and distributions services with W. W. Norton.



Media and Movies

Gotham Group Partners with LB Books for Young Readers

Little, Brown Books For Young Readers "is pacting with the Gotham Group to develop original IP properties for film and TV," Deadline reported, adding that the partnership will launch next spring with paperback publication of the YA thriller Phantom Wheel by Tracy Deebs.

Ellen Goldsmith-Vein, founder and CEO of the Gotham Group, and Gotham's Eddie Gamarra, co-head of the literary department, will spearhead the effort from the entertainment industry side. The  publishing program will be overseen by Kara Sargent, editor-in-chief of licensing and IP at Little, Brown. They will work together to conceive, develop, publish and produce content across a wide array of traditional and evolving entertainment media.

"Years ago we recognized that client Tony DiTerlizzi's The Spiderwick Chronicles concept was inherently cinematic as well as having the potential for an extraordinary book series, so we sold the movie first and then the books," said Goldsmith-Vein. "We are excited to work with the team at Little, Brown to similarly create IP across all platforms and to provide great content to the studios and networks in the traditional and digital spaces in both animation and live action."

Deadline noted that Little, Brown "has had great success with The Twilight Saga, How to Train Your Dragon, The 100, Beautiful Creatures, and The Duff."


Media Heat: Janet Mock on Wendy Williams

Tomorrow:
Wendy Williams: Janet Mock, author of Surpassing Certainty: What My Twenties Taught Me (Atria, $24.99, 9781501145797).

The View: Eddie Izzard, author of Believe Me: A Memoir of Love, Death, and Jazz Chickens (Blue Rider, $28, 9780399175831).

Also on the View: Michael Bloomberg, co-author of Climate of Hope: How Cities, Businesses, and Citizens Can Save the Planet (St. Martin's Press, $26.99, 9781250142078).

Late Show with Stephen Colbert: Jeffrey Tambor, author of Are You Anybody?: A Memoir (Crown Archetype, $27, 9780451496355).


TV: Fahrenheit 451

In HBO Films' adaptation of Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451, Lilly Singh (who actually vlogs under the YouTube moniker Superwoman) will "play Raven, a tabloid vlogger who works with the fire department to spread the ministry's propaganda by broadcasting their book-burning raids to fans," Deadline reported. She joins a cast that includes Michael B Jordan, Michael Shannon and Sofia Boutella. Ramin Bahrani is directing and co-writing the script with Amir Naderi. Singh also wrote the bestselling book How to Be a Bawse: A Guide to Conquering Life.


Books & Authors

Awards: CILIP Carnegie, Kate Greenaway Medals

Ruta Sepetys won the 80th anniversary CILIP Carnegie Medal for children's literature for Salt to the Sea; and Lane Smith took the CILIP Kate Greenway Medal for excellence in illustration for There is a Tribe of Kids. For the first time, Americans captured both of the prestigious children's book awards in the same year. The medals are judged by librarians across the U.K. and have been awarded annually since 1936 and 1956, respectively. The winners each receive £500 (about $635) worth of books to donate to their local library, a specially commissioned golden medal and the £5,000 (about $6,375) Colin Mears Award cash prize.

Tricia Adams, chair of this year's judging panel, said: "It is a tremendous privilege to judge the Medals in this double anniversary year. The books that have triumphed demonstrate the vitally important role literature and illustration play in helping children and young people to understand the world around them, be that through a historical lens or through the natural world around them. These, and the Amnesty Honor commendations selected from the Carnegie and Kate Greenaway shortlists, poignantly prove the importance of stories in making voices heard - especially those of the dispossessed--encouraging the young reader to look beyond the headlines."

Recipients in the Amnesty CILIP Honor category, a commendation for the book on each shortlist that "most distinctively illuminates, upholds or celebrates freedoms," went to Zana Fraillon for The Bone Sparrow (Carnegie shortlist) and Francesca Sanna for The Journey (Kate Greenaway shortlist). 


Book Review

Review: The Unwomanly Face of War

The Unwomanly Face of War: An Oral History of Women in World War II by Svetlana Alexievich, trans. by Larissa Volokhonsky and Richard Pevear (Random House, $30 hardcover, 384p., 9780399588723, July 25, 2017)

Since Svetlana Alexievich won the 2015 Nobel Prize in Literature, a number of publishers have republished her decades-old classics in English translation, including Voices from Chernobyl and Zinky Boys. Originally published in 1985, The Unwomanly Face of War: An Oral History of Women in World War II is a brilliant work of history and reporting that showcases Alexievich's boundless empathy and inimitable style.

Instead of a chronological history focused on military affairs, The Unwomanly Face of War patches together dozens of voices under themes that include love during wartime and the backbreaking, thankless tasks many women performed behind the front lines, such as laundry and baking. Almost all her interviewees are women, some of the approximately one million who served in the Soviet army during World War II. Alexievich's intent is to tell the story of these remarkable women, but also to tell another side of war:

"When women speak, they have nothing or almost nothing of what we are used to reading and hearing about: How certain people heroically killed other people and won. Or lost. What equipment there was and which generals. Women's stories are different and about different things. 'Women's' war has its own colors, its own smells, its own lighting, and its own range of feelings. Its own words. There are no heroes and incredible feats, there are simply people who are busy doing inhumanly human things."

As that passage indicates, Alexievich's prose manages to be both conversational and heartbreakingly lyrical. Her sentences are phrased in unusual ways, often ending in fragments or ellipses, and she inserts herself into the narrative enough for the reader to get a sense of the context behind the conversations she records. After the Soviet Union's costly victory, female veterans returning home were often encouraged to downplay their service, even suffering from damaging rumors about their supposedly licentious behavior at the front--"Men didn't share the victory with us. It was painful.... Incomprehensible...." Many of the women Alexievich speaks to appear to be breaking long-held silences on the subject, and their stories are all the more raw and gripping for that fact.

Alexievich's approach is wide-ranging yet grounded in anecdotes from women fighting as partisans behind enemy lines, serving as nurses, drivers, snipers, mechanics, foot soldiers, scouts and much more. Some of them tell lengthy, gutting stories; others can hardly speak about the war. Alexievich has an eye for odd details that border on the absurd, such as the woman who recalls bringing a whole suitcaseful of candy to war. And, contrary to Alexievich's claim, there are a few "heroes and incredible feats.": "Altogether I carried 481 wounded soldiers from under fire," Maria Petrovna Smirnova recalls. More often, though, The Unwomanly Face of War is a necessary account of almost unbelievable suffering told on a human scale. On the incomprehensibility of war, Alexievich concludes: "There is only one path--to love this human being. To understand through love." --Hank Stephenson, bookseller, Flyleaf Books

Shelf Talker: The Unwomanly Face of War is Nobel Prize-winner Svetlana Alexievich's searing oral history of World War II through the eyes of Russian women who fought and served.


The Bestsellers

Top-Selling Self-Published Titles

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

1. Can't Buy Me Love (Butler, Vermont Series Book 2) by Marie Force
2. Black Promise (Obsidian Book 3) by Victoria Quinn
3. Inked Expressions by Carrie Ann Ryan
4. Warwolfe by Kathryn Le Veque
5. Virgin for the Prince by J.S. Scott
6. Duke of Manhattan by Louise Bay
7. Tempting Levi by Jules Barnard
8. Gone Daddy Gone (Sloane Monroe Book 7) by Cheryl Bradshaw
9. Hook, Line and Blinker (A Miss Fortune Mystery Book 10) by Jana DeLeon
10. The Last Guy by Ilsa Madden-Mills and Tia Louise

[Many thanks to IndieReader.com!]

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