Shelf Awareness for Friday, November 17, 2017


Little Brown and Company: Circe by Madeline Miller

St. Martin's Press: After Anna by Lisa Scottoline

Little Brown and Company: The Recovering: Intoxication and Its Aftermath by Leslie Jamison

Houghton Mifflin: Playing Atari with Saddam Hussein: Based on a True Story by Jennifer Roy with Ali Fadhil

News

Takeover 'Proposal' Causes B&N Stock to Jump--for a Time

Yesterday featured another unrealistic announcement of a bid to buy Barnes & Noble that perhaps intentionally caused the bookseller's stock price to jump for a while.

In the morning, the Wall Street Journal reported that "activist investor" Sandell Asset Management Corp. had proposed taking B&N private for $9 a share--valuing the deal at $750 million--with the help of $500 million in debt financing and the cooperation of chairman Len Riggio, who would roll the minimum 18% of the company that he owns into a new private company controlled by Sandell, which currently owns just 2.75% of B&N. Immediately the company's stock price rose from below $7 a share to as high as $7.85.

But by mid-afternoon, B&N released a statement saying it doesn't consider the Sandell proposal "as bona fide in that Sandell is the beneficial owner of 1 million common Barnes & Noble shares worth approximately $7 million, Mr. Riggio has no intention of rolling his shares into such a transaction, and the company believes a debt financing of $500 million is highly unlikely." It added that it would have no further comment on the proposal.

B&N shares then descended from their high for the day but still closed up 7.6%, at $7.10 a share, on six times the normal trading volume.


Clarion Books: The Stone Girl's Story by Sarah Beth Durst


Former Publisher Julia Fleischaker Opening a Bookstore in Baltimore

Julia Fleischaker, former director of marketing and publicity at Melville House and publicity director at Penguin Group, is opening a bookstore in the Fells Point neighborhood of Baltimore, Md., in early 2018. Called Greedy Reads, the 500-square-foot store will focus on new releases, both fiction and nonfiction, including children's and YA, a rotating selection of backlist titles, as well as carry gifts and a small inventory of magazines.

Fleischaker, who is a native of Maryland and a graduate of the University of Maryland, said, "Baltimore has such a vibrancy and spirit about it. The people living here are creative, engaged, and active in their communities, and it feels like a great fit for my store. I'm thrilled to be joining the ranks of the wonderful booksellers already in the city, including Atomic Books, Red Emma's and the Ivy, and to be bringing the absolutely charming Fells Point area a bookstore of its own."

Julia Fleischaker

Greedy Reads plans a full calendar of events, monthly book club picks, and a number of subscription options. Fleischaker said, "I've spent my career matchmaking books and readers, and I'm excited to keep doing that with Greedy Reads."

Fleischaker began her publishing career at Penguin, where she was an assistant to the legendary Phyllis Grann. She went on to work as a publicist for John Hodgman, Gary Shteyngart, ZZ Packer, Daniel Pink, Ricky Martin, Joan Rivers and Rita Moreno, among others. At Melville House, she managed campaigns for debut novelists, including Rachel Cantor, Martin Seay and Kate Hamer, and for the release of public documents, including The Senate Intelligence Committee Report on Torture. She also worked on campaigns for authors David Cay Johnston, Jessa Crispin, David Peace, Philip Hoare, Chris Lehmann and Sady Doyle.

Greedy Reads will be located at 1744 Aliceanna Street, Baltimore, Md. 21231. Fleischaker, who said she is eager to talk with publicists and sales reps, can be reached here.


Oxford University Press: Hate: Why We Should Resist It with Free Speech, Not Censorship by Nadine Strossen


Future Owners of N.C.'s Regulator Launch Crowdfunding Campaign

Elliot Berger and Wander Lorentz de Haas, who have bought the Regulator Bookshop, Durham, N.C., and will assume ownership on March 1, 2018, have begun an Indiegogo campaign that aims to raise $63,300 in order to upgrade and purchase inventory and a point of sale system; upgrade fixtures, signage and wall space; remodel the front counter and checkout area; make renovations to the office, shipping and receiving area; and cover fees associated with the purchase.

Called the Regulator Sustainability Fund, the campaign has already raised more than $14,000 and offers a range of perks, including the naming of a bookcase for the donor and a year or two of 20% discounts.


GLOW: Grove Atlantic: The Mercy Seat by Elizabeth H. Winthrop


HugoBooks Testing Bookstore Waters in Rockport with Holiday Pop-Up

Massachusetts' HugoBooks, which includes the Andover Bookstore in Andover, the Book Rack in Newburyport, Cabot Street Books & Cards in Beverly, and Spirit of 76 Bookstore and Cardshop in Marblehead, is opening Rockport Books, a holiday pop-up store designed to test the market in Rockport, where longtime bookstore Toad Hall recently closed. "If the bookstore can do comparable sales to our other locations for the holidays, we would love to become a permanent year-round store," HugoBooks wrote.

Rockport Books will launch tomorrow, November 18, and be open every day 10 a.m.-6 p.m. until Christmas at least. The store will focus on "hot bestsellers, holiday catalog titles, kids' books and gifts and cards," and do special orders daily.

The store will be at 1A Main Street in the heart of downtown Rockport.


William Morrow & Company: My Dear Hamilton: A Novel of Eliza Schuyler Hamilton by Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie


Gunshot Fired at Gottwals Books in Warner Robins, Ga.

Shattered window at Gottwal's in Warner Robins, Ga.

Warner Robins, Ga., police are investigating a shooting incident that occurred Monday at the original Gottwals Books location on Russell Parkway. Someone fired a shot into store right after it had closed, the bullet shattering the front window and stopping "within ten feet of where our employees were standing," owner and CEO Shane Gottwals told 13WAMZ, calling the incident "a random act of stupidity.... This was our first location. We started on one side and expanded two times since then. We've seen basically no real crime at any of our locations."

On Facebook Tuesday, Gottwals wrote: "We have the best customers on the planet... you’ve sent many messages of love regarding the incident at our Warner Robins, Ga., store last night. This was NOT an attempted robbery; it was NOT targeted at our employees specifically; it WAS an act of stupidity.... We are open for business as if everything is normal... because it is. We will only allow this thug (or thugs) to take a pane of glass from us. They aren’t getting anything else.

"I wanted to post these photos for our customers who care so much about Gottwals Books. You deserve to be aware of what happened. WRPD is still investigating to determine who did this. We blame no one except the perpetrator(s). We are positioned between law enforcement offices (on Carl Vinson) and a gun shop 4 spaces down. This is, and has always been, a safe shopping center.... Goes to show... these guys would profit much more by pulling out a book instead of pulling out a pistol."


Obituary Note: Antonio Carluccio

Antonio Carluccio, the Italian chef and restaurateur "considered by many to be the godfather of Italian gastronomy in the U.K.," died November 8, the Guardian reported. He was 80. A "colorful and well-loved character familiar to British food lovers for his dozens of cookery books and appearances on television," Carlucci wrote 22 books and starred in TV programs including Antonio Carluccio's Italian Feast and the BBC2 series Two Greedy Italians, alongside the chef Gennaro Contaldo.

In 1981, he opened the Neal Street restaurant in London's Covent Garden, which launched the career of Jamie Oliver before it closed in 2007. In an Instagram post expressing "great sadness" at the news of his mentor's death, Oliver wrote: "He was my first London Boss at the Neal Street restaurant 25 years ago which was an institution and Mecca of wild mushrooms where I had the pleasure of working for him. He was such a charismatic charming don of all things Italian! Always hanging out the front door of the restaurant with a big fat cigar a glass of something splendid and his amazing fuzzy white hair."

Carluccio's books include 100 Pasta Recipes (My Kitchen Table); Two Greedy Italians Eat Italy (with Gennaro Contaldo); VegetablesCarluccio's Complete Italian Food; Antonio Carluccio's Simple Cooking; and Pasta: The Essential New Collection from the Master of Italian Cookery.

He was appointed commendatore by the Italian government in 1998; received an OBE from the Queen in 2007 for services to the catering industry, and in 2012 received the AA Hospitality Lifetime Achievement award, given to people who have made significant contributions to their industry.


Notes

Happy Birthday, Main Street Books!

Congratulations to Main Street Books, Hattiesburg, Miss., which celebrated its 15th anniversary Wednesday with discounts and, "in celebration of our state’s 200th birthday... a special Bicentennial glass bottle Coke for every Mississippi purchase made! This is the perfect time to come get all of your holiday gifts at a discounted price!"

On Facebook, co-owners Diane and Jerry Shepherd wrote: "We just want to say THANK YOU from the bottom of our hearts for all of our wonderful customers making 15 years possible for Main Street Books. We love all of you and we are looking forward to many more years on Main Street!"


Personnel Changes at Penguin Random House Audio

At Penguin Random House Audio:

Jennifer Rubins is promoted to associate director, creative marketing.

Taraneh Djangi is promoted to senior manager, creative marketing.

Victoria Tomao is promoted to associate director, marketing strategy.

Robert Guzman is promoted to senior manager, marketing strategy.

Dennis Tyrrell is promoted to associate director, digital products.

Nicole Morano is promoted to publicity manager.


JKS Communications Launches Digital Marketing Branch

Book publicity firm JKS Communications is launching a digital marketing division, DigiBooks, which will focus on social media, book industry and other digital advertising management, along with consultation, e-mail newsletter growth and design.

Headed by Sydney Mathieu, JKS publicist and director of digital marketing, and author S.B. Alexander, the new division will develop advertising from both the perspective of the author and industry, according to JKS.

"The digital marketing division at JKS is formalizing our commitment to a sector of professional book promotion that has been growing in prominence for several years and for which we were early innovators," said company president Marissa DeCuir. "Mathieu and Alexander bring a width and depth of experience in a sector that requires an understanding of the latest trends in algorithms and nuances for online promotion."


Media and Movies

TV: Dietland

Adam Rothenberg (Ripper) will play the male lead opposite Joy Nash and Julianna Margulies in Dietland, AMC's 10-episode straight-to-series darkly comedic drama based on Sarai Walker's novel, Deadline reported. From Marti Noxon (UnReal), Skydance TV and AMC Studios, the project also stars Rowena King, Tramell Tillman, Robin Weigert (Big Little Lies) and Will Seefried (The Deuce). Dietland will premiere in 2018.



Books & Authors

Awards: Cundill; Goldsmiths; WH Smith Books of the Year

British historian Daniel Beer won the $75,000 Cundill Prize in Historical Literature, administered by McGill University in Montreal, for The House of the Dead: Siberian Exile Under the Tsars (Knopf).

Chair of the jury Margaret MacMillan said Beer "has done extraordinary research, using underappreciated and unexamined sources, to show what exile meant to generations of Russians and other nationalities within the Russian Empire. He gives a moving and heart-rending account of what happened to these people, most of whom never returned from Siberia. The House of the Dead is a haunting and important contribution to Russian history, and a hugely deserving winner of the 2017 Cundill History Prize."

Juror Amanda Foreman praised his "universality of approach that is both innovative and important. He tells the story of an immense tragedy, spanning hundreds of years. The House of the Dead uses a huge canvas, but Beer is able to bring out individual stories and a real sense of what it means to be human. This book is a triumph."

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Nicola Barker won the £10,000 (about $13,200) Goldsmiths Prize, which recognizes "a book that is deemed genuinely novel and which embodies the spirit of invention that characterizes the genre at its best," for H(a)ppy. Barker is the first English novelist to win the prize.

Chair of Judges Naomi Wood said H(a)ppy is "a structural marvel to hold in the mind and in the hands. Line by line, color by color, this dystopic utopia is an ingenious closed loop of mass surveillance, technology, and personality-modifying psychopharmaceuticals. H(a)ppy is a fabulous demonstration of what the Goldsmiths Prize champions: innovation of form that only ever enriches the story. In Barker's 3D-sculpture of a novel, H(a)ppy makes the case for the novel as a physical form and an object of art."

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Gail Honeyman's Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine and Henry Fraser's The Little Big Things have been named the 2017 WH Smith Fiction and Nonfiction Book of the Year respectively, the Bookseller reported. The winning titles will be featured in all of the bookstore chain's downtown stores.

Sue Scholes, WH Smith fiction buyer, commented: "I am absolutely delighted that Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine is the WH Smith Fiction Book of the Year for 2017. I absolutely loved it, and so did everyone else who I know who has read it. It's a very deserving winner."

Dave Swillman, WH Smith nonfiction trading controller, said The Little Big Thing is "truly inspirational--a book to read, love and recommend to everyone! I'm not alone in thinking this is a just title for such an award."


Book Review

Review: The Years, Months, Days

The Years, Months, Days: Two Novellas by Yan Lianke, trans. by Carlos Rojas (Black Cat/Grove, $16 paperback, 155p., 9780802126658, December 5, 2017)

The Years, Months, Days contains two novellas by Yan Lianke, translated from the Chinese by Carlos Rojas. The title story, featuring just two characters, opens: "In the year of the great drought, time was baked to ash; and if you tried to grab the sun, it would stick to your palm like charcoal." All the other residents of a tiny mountain village have fled, but an old man known only as the Elder does not think he'd survive the trip. He stays behind, with a blind dog for companion, to tend a single stalk of corn, in the hopes that when the villagers return, the kernels he nurtures will restart their community. In this stark tale, he speaks to the corn and the dog and his departed neighbors, alternately cursing and hopeful, and does battle with rats, wolves and the sun itself. As the food and water available to man and dog dwindle, every day becomes a fight for life.

The second novella, "Marrow," is also about a grim struggle for existence. The father of four disabled children, out of guilt for his heredity, kills himself, leaving his wife to raise them alone. His ghost remains to accompany his wife and converse with her, in a twist that could be magical or merely her fantasy. When their children grow up, she works to find them marriages and homes of their own, despite their problems and the ill will of the villagers. Finally she discovers that there is a cure for their poor health and bad luck--but it involves the bones of direct relatives. When only her youngest is left at home, she devises a way to reinterpret his disturbing appetites for the better.

The common themes of these bleak stories are clear: hunger, solitude, the searing strain of existence. In a brief, insightful translator's note, Rojas observes that Lianke's work often transforms such abstract needs into literal ones. Indeed, the author's descriptions are synesthetic: smells "roll noisily"; gazes produce a "crackling sound"; and a wolf's roar is purplish-red. In a spare but artful style, Lianke presents the sun's rays as physical realities, which have measurable mass and can be cut or shattered. His characters inhabit a bleak, harsh world. In bitterly hard circumstances, they show courage and ingenuity, defiance and grace. His renderings of real-world desolations are imaginative and wondrous; these austere fables are minimal, but beautifully composed. The Years, Months, Days is for readers who appreciate grim lessons, magical realism and lovely, lyric prose. --Julia Kastner, librarian and blogger at pagesofjulia

Shelf Talker: Two novellas translated from the Chinese offer plucky characters in terrible situations, simply but poetically portrayed.


Deeper Understanding

Robert Gray: #WorkinPublishing Week in the U.K.

If you're reading this, you probably 1) love books, and 2) decided at some point in your life you'd like to find a way to transform that love into a profession. There are myriad ways in which the dream can be realized, of course, though the route is often circuitous... on a good day. 

No GPS exists to plot your journey into the not-so-fantasyland of writers, booksellers, librarians, editors, publicists and the like. You can, however, drive anywhere, even in the dark, if you have good headlights.

Shining lights just down the road is, I think, what's happening this week in U.K. where the Publisher's Association has been hosting its third annual Work in Publishing initiative "to demonstrate the broad array of jobs available in the publishing industry," the Bookseller noted. The PA partners with online apprenticeships guide Not Going to Uni, graduate jobs website Milkround, Creative Access, the Bookseller, Inspired Selection, Atwood Tate, bookcareers.com and the Society of Young Publishers on activities designed to promote career options in the trade.

I've been intrigued by many things I read this week (Warning: all #WorkinPublishing links are potential digital rabbit holes for anyone interested in this topic), including:

Quarto's "profiles of its young people from various backgrounds, including how they got into publishing." 

Advice on "Getting Started: Working Outside of London" from Jennie Collinson, head of sales at Liverpool University Press: "So my advice to anyone considering a career in publishing and has resigned themselves to moving south--don't automatically think there is one path to follow. There's an easier one for sure, but there are rewarding opportunities to be found if you are willing to be patient, work hard and are not afraid of a long commute!"

Quercus editor Emily Yau's answer to a question from the Bookseller: "The best advice I can give is the same for pretty much anyone with at least a toe in the publishing world, and that is to read often and widely. Skills can be learnt and refined along the way, but you can't teach someone to have the right instincts or the right market knowledge. Being passionate about the genres in which you work is a lot more than simply saying 'I am passionate about reading' on your CV. It's about being able to say which authors and publishers you admire, why this is and then being able to identify where this stems from and how you can use that knowledge in your own work. Of course, publishing can be very subjective at times, but if you are well versed in your area you will always have something to offer--something I would stress even more to younger people starting out: forty-something-senior-professionals will invariably have differing worldviews to a twenty-something-intern, and both perspectives are equally as valid."

Five top tips for working in publishing from Cambridge University Press‏'s academic marketing & operations director: 1) Learn about the industry, 2) Understand customers and their changing needs, 3) Get involved in industry events and initiatives, 4) Think digital, 5) Be flexible.

The Building Inclusivity in Publishing conference (#inclusivityconf17), run by the PA and London Book Fair, chaired by the BBC's Razia Iqbal: ".@SharLovegrove touched on a very important point there. It doesn't make sense that an industry whose primary purpose is to invent different stories and have us experience different perspectives, still struggles with creating inclusive workforce's and content." (@KatKrusch)

Sweet Cherry Publishing's Amy Wong, editorial & production assistant: "Remember that doing a publishing internship isn't the only way of gaining relevant experience--for example, running a student society or working in retail can teach you valuable skills as well."

Stephanie Cox, assistant copy editor at Trigger Press, in a Twitter q&a session: "Check, check, and check your application again. Don't call Trigger Press 'Trigger Publishing' in your cover letter, for example. Make sure you definitely want the job you're after. It will be apparent in your application if you don't. Network like crazy."

Answer to a Society of Young Publishers #SypChat question (How did you learn about the different roles in publishing and which one would be best for you?): "Turned up at @EdNapierPublish w/ my red pen after having to choose between it and the creative writing masters, blissfully unaware of the eight bazillion roles that I was about to find out about until I received a smile and instructions to present on a marketing campaign #sypchat." (@sj_mooney)

And, finally, this: "In honour of #Workinpublishing week, thought I would share my first step on my career ladder working with #books..." (Maria Vassilopoulos‏, whose day job is in sales at @BL_Publishing). In a blog post headlined "Christmas Temp paying the gas bill," she wrote something that will resonate with many of us: "So sometimes taking a leap of faith in the right direction is worth it. That is the actual no-frills way that I got a job in a bookshop, not because I had thought of all the amazing things about working in one, but mostly because I needed to pay the gas bill. Otherwise, I may have looked at the offer in front of me and thought that I was too good for it. I am very glad that I went with my heart rather than my head."

#BeenThereDoneThat. #Wouldn'tChangeaThing

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

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