Shelf Awareness for Tuesday, October 31, 2017


Penguin Press: Winter by Karl Ove Knausgaard

Ecco Press: Varina by Charles Frazier

House of Anansi Press: The Break by Katherena Vermette

Algonquin Books: Dreadful Young Ladies and Other Stories by Kelly Barnhill

Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books: Small Walt by Elizabeth Verdick and Marc Rosenthal

News

The Bookery Manchester to Open Next Spring in N.H.

The Bookery Manchester plans to open in downtown Manchester, N.H., in spring 2018. The store will focus on "amazing, curated books with bestsellers, local focus, politics, art, and complete with a children's room." The store will also have a café and hold events throughout the year, including author signings, book clubs and acoustic performances.

To keep up to date with the Bookery Manchester's progress, sign up for its newsletter here.


Quirk Books: My Lady's Choosing: An Interactive Romance Novel by Kitty Curran and Larissa Zageris


Waterstones 'Absolutely Vital to the Literary Ecosystem'

Yesterday's reports that Waterstones owner Alexander Mamut has hired N.M. Rothschild & Sons to make a strategic review of the bookselling chain, including a possible sale, has caused much concern in the British book world. The Bookseller spoke with a range of people in the book business; among their comments:

Bookseller and historian Tamsin Rosewell: "Businesses get bought and sold all the time but what makes this different is that this is the only chain within our entire industry and its presence [in downtowns] is so important. I hate to use this phrase but they are product champions. They have brought the idea of browsing in a bookshop and spending time there, they have been instrumental to this. The importance of Waterstones in the industry cannot be denied."

Oneworld publisher Juliet Mabey: "Waterstones is Oneworld's biggest single customer by far, and the possibility of a sale is likely to generate frissons of anxiety in all publishers who have watched its impressive turnaround under the brilliantly confident, steady hand of [managing director] James Daunt. It is a truly stellar achievement, and the envy of publishers in the U.S. Waterstones is absolutely vital to the literary ecosystem in the U.K., and we would all be hard hit if the progress made were to suffer a reversal under new ownership. I have a deep-seated belief that bookshops do much better in the hands of book people, and I think this has already been demonstrated over the past six years, so a potential sale to a private equity firm outside the industry, particularly one bent on a fast turnaround, is a cause for concern. However, I would be far less anxious about such a prospect if I knew James Daunt might continue at the helm if it is sold."

Gordon Wise, an agent at Curtis Brown: "The capitalisation that they've had over the last few years has been fantastic--but it's coming from one person [Alexander Mamut], there's a risk factor there. Would they rather be in the context of a broader based retail environment or is it good for them to have a line of credit that allows them to do things that others wouldn't otherwise do?...

"There are so many good things Waterstones has been doing. For certain lists, it is very important as a platform for helping to make books. Without Waterstones where would you be with The Essex Serpent at the moment? When Breath Becomes Air? Joanna Cannon's The Trouble with Goats and Sheep? These are all projects that Waterstones' commitment has really helped to drive and help set trends within the industry as a whole. If you haven't got someone doing that talking up in the way they have, and guarantee of physical availability, that's a real loss."

Financial analyst Nick Bubb: "Consumers won't notice the sale talk and the only risk is that staff get demotivated by the uncertainty. But I'm sure James will make clear that the best way for everybody in the business to do well out of a change of ownership is to focus on delivering as good a Christmas as possible and thus maximise the value of Waterstones."


Trinity University Press: Arte Kids - Bilingual Board Books


Red Wheel/Weiser Buys Career Press/New Page Books

Red Wheel/Weiser, Newburyport, Mass., has acquired the publishing assets of Career Press, Wayne, N.J., which includes more than 800 titles published under the Career Press and New Page Books imprints.

Career Press was founded in 1985 by Ron Fry, specializing in career, business and reference guides. It's published The Essential HR Handbook by Sharon Armstrong and Barbara Mitchell and will soon publish 1,001 Ways to Engage Employees by Dr. Bob Nelson.

New Page Books was founded in 1999 as a general nonfiction imprint and specializes in health, self-help and New Age, especially paranormal, UFO studies and alternative history. Authors include Nick Redfern, Stanton Friedman, and Erich von Däniken, whose November book, The Gods Never Left Us, is the sequel to the bestselling Chariots of the Gods.

Michael Kerber, president and CEO of Red Wheel/Weiser, called the purchase "a major acquisition for us, increasing our publishing program by nearly 50%. We're very impressed with what Ron and his team have done with New Page over the past few years, and those titles complement our Weiser Books and Hampton Roads imprints very nicely. Career Press, with its focus on business, careers and related topics will allow us to expand our publishing reach."

Beginning in January 2018, Red Wheel/Weiser will begin fulfilling Career Press and New Page titles. "Fortunately, we both use Books International for our fulfillment, and they will work with us to ensure a smooth transition of the Career Press accounts and titles into our system," Kerber noted.

As part of the acquisition, long-time Career Press employees Laurie Kelly-Pye and Michael Pye will join Red Wheel as sales director, national accounts, and associate publisher, Career Press, respectively. Ron Fry has agreed to stay on as consultant.


Thomas Nelson: Perennials by Julie Cantrell


Tracy Behar to Head New Imprint at Little, Brown

Tracy Behar

Tracy Behar, executive editor at Little, Brown, has been named v-p, publisher and editor-in-chief of a new imprint at Little, Brown devoted health, lifestyle, psychology and science. The imprint, which has yet to be named, will launch in the fall of 2018 and include another editor and a marketer.

"With so many evolving opportunities in these categories, we're eager to increase Little, Brown's presence in this growing market, and to have Tracy Behar leading the way," said Reagan Arthur, senior v-p and publisher of Little, Brown. "It would be impossible to find an editor more highly regarded by her authors, their agents, and her colleagues than Tracy. Throughout her career, she has consistently published books that are useful, informative, inspirational--and hugely successful."

Behar commented: "It's been a joy to build my list at Little, Brown, with the best colleagues in the business. I couldn't be more excited to take on this expanded role, to continue to grow my existing authors, and to work with new authors on books that will change the way we think, feel, and live."

Authors Behar has worked with include Mark Hyman, David Perlmutter, Amy Cuddy, Nicholas Christakis, John Ratey, Andrew Weil, Amy Myers, Sue Johnson, Roy Peter Clark and more.


Obituary Note: Gibbs M. Smith

Gibbs M. Smith

Gibbs M. Smith, co-founder and president of the publishing company carrying his name, died on Saturday. He was 77.

Smith and his wife, Catherine Smith, started Peregrine Smith in 1969, using $12,000 he had earned from working on the film version of his University of Utah master's thesis on labor activist Joe Hill.

The mission of the company, whose name was later changed to Gibbs Smith, was to publish books that "contribute to the positive evolution of the world's culture, with style, wit, intelligence, and taste." Founded in California, then moved to Utah, the company has grown steadily over the years, publishing history, nature and wilderness, and titles about Utah and the West, cookbooks, children's books, textbooks and book-related sidelines.

In announcing his death, the company said that Smith was "especially proud to 'export culture from the Rocky Mountain West' to the rest of the world, as an independent, employee-owned company, which will continue under its current management." The Smiths sold the company to its employees three years ago.

Suzanne Taylor, chief creative officer and publisher of Gibbs Smith, called Smith "a creative soul, who continued to work generating book ideas and ways to move the company forward up until his final day. He was always willing to take risks with books that other publishers might shy away from. He loved working with authors and illustrators and seeing their words and images become accessible to millions."

Local booksellers praised Smith and his publishing house. Betsy Burton, co-owner of the King's English Bookshop, told the Salt Lake Tribune, "I can't emphasize how highly respected that press is. Every bookseller knows that press and buys his books."

Catherine Weller, co-owner of Weller Book Works, said, "At a time when Western history was really opening up, Gibbs Smith was on the frontier of those changes. It was a change in landscape, and he was on that frontier."

Kent Watson, executive director of PubWest, said that "the entire PubWest community is grieving from the loss of Gibbs Smith. Gibbs was a true friend of PubWest and all of its members. He helped with many of the conferences, and moderated numerous publishers roundtables, offering his publishing wisdom to the people that were new to the trade and those who had years of experience. In 2007, he was honored with the Jack D. Rittenhouse Award. He was an ever-curious publisher. In fact, each time I would see him he would ask me 'Kent, what's the book that you think needs to be published?' The news of Gibbs passing brought tears to my eyes as I truly looked up to him as someone who always made the connection between publishing and community. Gibbs Smith will truly be missed."

In 2009, Gibbs Smith published The Art of the Bookstore: The Bookstore Paintings of Gibbs M. Smith, a collection of paintings by Smith that celebrated 58 bookstores and booksellers around the country, plus Paris's Shakespeare & Co. and Buenos Aires's El Ateneo Grand Splendid. As we noted at the time, "The paintings are bright and joyous, accompanied by each bookstore's story."

Services will be held Saturday, November 4.


Notes

Image of the Day: Fellow Travelers

On a visit to Book Passage's Ferry Building store in San Francisco, Book Passage Travel Writers & Photographers conference chair and Lonely Planet editor Don George ran into New Yorker cartoonist Roz Chast signing copies of her new book, Going into Town: A Love Letter to New York (Bloomsbury).


Happy 30th Birthday, Eureka Books!

photo: Terrence McNally

Congratulations to Eureka Books in Eureka, Calif., which is celebrating its 30th anniversary November 4. The Times Standard reported that co-owner Scott Brown "marveled at Humboldt County's support of independent bookstores.... Eureka Books' Old Town Eureka neighbor Booklegger is 33 years old. Arcata's Tin Can Mailman has been around for 45 years, and Northtown Books opened its doors in 1965, or 52 years ago. Adding in Eureka Books makes a total of 160 years of local bookselling in the over-30 crowd."

"Thirty years is a long time for any business to stay around," said Brown. "But what is really amazing is that there are three other bookstores that are even older."

Eureka Books began selling used titles, and expanded into new books when the town's big-box bookstore closed. "We feel so amazed by the support this community gives to one other," Brown said. "We want to say thank you to our customers, Humboldt County's intelligent and inquisitive readers, along with our bookselling friends both old and new."


Cool Idea of the Day: 'Page Against the Machine'

British indie bookseller the Book Hive in Norwich has partnered with bookmark-zine Dog-Ear and design company Back to Front to create Page Against the Machine, "post-work quiet reading sessions designed to 'fight back against the stress of modern life and boost well-being,' " the Bookseller reported. The shop will be open later on Wednesday evenings to provide readers with comfy seats, glasses of wine, cups of tea, and "no distractions."

Bookseller Joe Hedinger and shop owner Henry Layte decided to create the event after seeing a Reading Agency report that 67% of people want to read more, but 48% say they are too busy or have too much of a hectic lifestyle.

"That was our insight: sadly, the reason people want to read... is the reason they can't read," Hedinger said. "We call it 'detox reading' as we genuinely believe it has well-being benefits. It is a time away from devices and distractions, so will encourage peace, calm and mindfulness. And more generally, it's proven that reading for pleasure is a more powerful factor in life achievement than socio-economic background, and that it can result in higher levels of self-esteem and improve social interaction."

The bookshop is also teaming up with local coffee shop Little Red Roaster on a project called "The Well Read Roaster," through which the Book Hive provides book recommendations on packets of the company's coffee and will also offer free samples of the coffee in the bookshop on Saturdays.

"Small enterprises having to work together to support and survive against the competition," Hedinger said. "In Norwich at least, this kind of thing feels very positive--like small, nimble, creative businesses coming together to be innovative and exciting in a way that only they can, to offer something only they can."


Personnel Changes at Rodale Books

Aly Mostel is leaving her position as senior communications director at Rodale Books, where she has worked for more than seven years, and is joining the freelance world. She may be reached here or at 646-334-2522.


Media and Movies

Media Heat: Hillary Clinton on the Daily Show

Tomorrow:
CBS This Morning: Gayatri Devi, M.D., author of The Spectrum of Hope: An Optimistic and New Approach to Alzheimer's Disease and Other Dementias (Workman Publishing, $26.95, 9780761193098).

NPR's Morning Edition: Michael Rapaport, author of This Book Has Balls: Sports Rants from the MVP of Talking Trash (Touchstone, $26.99, 9781501160318).

Watch What Happens Live: Gabrielle Union, author of We're Going to Need More Wine: Stories That Are Funny, Complicated, and True (Dey Street, $26.99, 9780062693983).

MSNBC's 11th Hour with Brian Williams: Chris Matthews, author of Bobby Kennedy: A Raging Spirit (Simon & Schuster, $28.99, 9781501111860).

Daily Show: Hillary Clinton, author of What Happened (Simon & Schuster, $30, 9781501175565).

Late Show with Stephen Colbert: Walter Isaacson, author of Leonardo da Vinci (Simon & Schuster, $35, 9781501139154).


Movies: The Wife Between Us

Observing that "the same book scout who urged Holly Bario to buy the rights to the book The Girl on the Train when it was a mere manuscript has struck again," the Hollywood Reporter wrote that Steven Spielberg's Amblin Partners, where Bario is president of production, "is now planning a film of the psychological thriller The Wife Between Us by a new writing duo: Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen." The novel will be released January 9 by St. Martin's Press.

"Marcy Drogin, who found Girl on the Train, called me when we were in production for that movie," Bario recalled. "She had read The Wife Between Us and she told me, 'This is going to be a big book too and you have to take the chance.' Since I was living Girl on the Train at that moment, I was already sort of fever-dreaming--thinking about unreliable narrators and women characters who aren't great to each other or to themselves."

THR noted that Pekkanen was working as a journalist eight years ago when she began writing her first novel (The Opposite of Me) and placed Hendricks, who spent more than 20 years at Simon & Schuster, "atop her list of 'dream' editors.... Pekkanen's dream became a reality, with Hendricks ultimately editing seven of her books, including several bestsellers. Author and editor became such close friends that soon after Hendricks decided to quit corporate publishing, Pekkanen suggested, 'Let's write a book together.' "

"We approached our story cinematically from the start and framed our chapters as scenes," Hendricks recalled. "And we pushed each other to keep the narrative taut on every page."



Books & Authors

Awards: Ngaio Marsh Winners

Fiona Sussman became the first female author to win the Ngaio Marsh Award for Best Crime Novel, for The Last Time We Spoke, Booksellers New Zealand reported. The international judging panel praised the winning novel for being "laden with empathy and insight.... A challenging, emotional read, harrowing yet touching, this is brave and sophisticated storytelling."

Self-published e-book author Finn Bell won the Best First Novel category, for Dead Lemons. The judges called him "a wonderful new voice in crime writing" who "delivers a tense, compelling tale centered on an original, genuine, and vulnerable character."

Michael Bennett won the inaugural Ngaio Marsh Award for Best Nonfiction, for In Dark Places, which the judges called "a scintillating, expertly balanced account of one of the most grievous miscarriages of justice in New Zealand history."

Award founder Craig Sisterson commented: "Each of our winners this year is a remarkable storyteller who uses crime writing as a prism through which to explore broader human and societal issues. When we launched in 2010, we wanted to highlight excellence in local crime writing, beyond traditional ideas of puzzling whodunits or airport thrillers. Our 2017 winners emphasize that broader scope to the genre, and showcase the inventiveness and world-class quality of our local storytellers."


Book Review

Review: The Art of Misdiagnosis: Surviving My Mother's Suicide

The Art of Misdiagnosis: Surviving My Mother's Suicide by Gayle Brandeis (Beacon Press, $26.95 hardcover, 240p., 9780807044865, November 14, 2017)

Novelist Gayle Brandeis turns a family tragedy into an act of reconciliation in her frank and moving memoir, The Art of Misdiagnosis.

Brandeis (The Book of Dead Birds) structures her memoir around her mother's suicide in 2009. Arlene hanged herself in a parking garage in Pasadena, Calif., just weeks after Brandeis had given birth to her youngest son, Asher. Recovering from the pregnancy and nursing her son, Brandeis was thrown into a surreal emotional state after the suicide, between extremes of life and death. In The Art of Misdiagnosis, she's able to approach the tragedy with writerly distance and perspective, delving into the complexities of her mother, her parents' marriage and her own childhood. Brandeis crafts a sympathetic portrait of a flawed yet enterprising woman who suffered from mental illness. Her mother was working on a documentary film about medical misdiagnosis at the time of her death, and excerpts from the script are included throughout the memoir.

Brandeis's narration alternates between first-person accounts of events and second-person missives to her mother. The latter ask the painful question of why; they're written with grief and exasperation but also tenderness. Other sections reveal an underlying desire to comprehend the suicide and begin healing. Brandeis relies on her novelistic skills to reconstruct her mother's story, as well as her own. She addresses a period in her adolescence when she used a misdiagnosed illness to garner attention, and connects the experience to her mother's eccentric personality and the way illness is perceived in the world, both as handicap and martyrdom.

Although Brandeis becomes an investigative journalist uncovering the facts of her mother's suicide--"I am looking for clues, for evidence. Answers"--she's also a poet (The Selfless Bliss of the Body) who imbues her experiences and discoveries with vivid lyricism. Describing how news of her mother's death shocked her, she writes of "An erasure of all that was once there. A void so blank, so white, one could almost mistake it for joy." Later, in the process of healing, she symbolizes the labile weight of inner grief: "Wet sand becomes a nest of wasps becomes water becomes anvil becomes a delicate soap bubble, iridescence swirling across its skin."

The Art of Misdiagnosis is a gripping and deeply felt memoir that demonstrates how the very act of writing can pull one from the depths of tragedy and toward the light of compassion. In the words of Arlene Baylen Brandeis herself, "all is preparation for love." --Scott Neuffer, writer, poet, editor of trampset

Shelf Talker: In this heart-twisting memoir, novelist and poet Gayle Brandeis grapples with her mother's suicide and her own infirmities.


The Bestsellers

Top-Selling Self-Published Titles

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

1. Ruthless King by Meghan March
2. Curtain Call by Denise Grover Swank
3. Killing Kryptonite by John Bevere
4. Maverick by Karina Halle
5. Lady Osbaldestone's Christmas Goose by Stephanie Laurens
6. In Too Deep by Jordan Marie
7. Dangerous Desires by Various
8. Other Worlds by Various
9. You Do Something to Me by Bella Andre
10. The Surprise by Alice Ward

[Many thanks to IndieReader.com!]


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