Also published on this date: Shelf Awareness for Monday, June 29, 2020

Also published on this date: Monday, June 29, 2020: YA Maximum Shelf: We Are Not Free

Monday, June 29 Dedicated Issue: Shelf Awareness's 15th Anniversary

Penguin Random House: Happy 15 to indie bookselling's singular champion

Editors' Note

Shelf Awareness Turns 15!

In a time of worldwide pandemic, economic hardship and in recognition of the depths of racism in the country, there has been a lot of discussion at the Shelf about how to celebrate our 15th anniversary. But, in moments of strife, rituals help. We've spoken with many of our friends and colleagues in our bookverse over the past few months, and when asked what keeps them together, it is often ritualistic: a morning walk regardless of weather, a weekly Zoom/drink date, a quiet moment of meditation, a certain daily time to read an actual book. So, we proceed with the celebration below, with a look back to our favorite articles, books, and our telling numbers. We hope you enjoy it! Note that after the next article, there's a comment button that lets you send us birthday wishes. We love reading them, so we hope you do!  

American Booksellers Association: Happy 15th Anniversary Shelf Awareness!

Bookselling News

Celebrating in Times Like These

When we began the Shelf 15 years ago, we were told by many friends and colleagues that we were crazy. Independent bookstores were in yet another battle for their lives, after having steadily shrunk in number since the early 1990s, but we were resolute that our publication was for the indies. Money for advertising to our audience was scarce, and the competitors for those dollars were very well established. Even the vehicle itself, an "e-newsletter," was scoffed at, with folks saying they already got too much e-mail, it was an "old-fashioned way of doing it" and maybe it should be a blog, or someday, an app.

But because we believed in indie bookstores and knew what we wanted to do, we ignored the naysayers and skeptics (some of whom became our closest allies despite their misgivings) and went ahead anyway. Then, something magical happened: you began reading us, and recommending us. Publishers started buying ads. We both still have our framed Vik (our inspirational Buddha), holding the very first dollar we ever "spent" on ourselves. It was quite some time before we could even expense a bottle of wine.

The years passed, and we got to expense some wine and a few meals. We launched Shelf Awareness for Readers, which now goes out to 525,000 indie bookstore customers. We began helping the ABA deliver the Indie Next List, and now are helping CALIBA, PNBA and MPIBA deliver e-versions of their holiday catalogues and a new summer reading issue. We recently launched our Pre-Order E-blast, which goes out to more than 488,000 indie customers, helping stores bang the drum to their customers that they can pre-order with the best of them. So far, it's working: by the end of this year, through buy button clicks alone, it will help indies sell more than half a million dollars of books.

When you make a plan for a business, it's almost impossible to imagine what will it be in 15 years. In the early days, the only thing that you can really hope for in the distant future is that it's still alive and, if you're especially lucky, you still enjoy doing it.

But then, what if the world throws you the biggest, most unimaginable curveball ever? What do our businesses become during a global pandemic? Who are we in the face of continued systemic racial injustice in our country? Who do we become when we're faced with our own mortality and fear for our livelihoods at every turn? What role can our businesses play?

It is not an easy time, to say the least, but when was it ever? We might all have had a much easier time by pushing pharma or trying our hands at being a YouTube celebrity. But would we love it?

Over and over again, people have predicted the end of independent bookselling. First, the new phenomenon that would kill it was the mall chain stores, then the big box stores, then Amazon, then the e-book. In the early years of the Shelf, indies were often referred to as "showrooms for Amazon." We have been down for the count, more times, than perhaps any other industry. And then, every time, we have rallied. It is one of the most uplifting and fascinating things about our industry--and it continues even in this day.

This is NOT to say that we won't have loss. Because, although it is deeply troubling to say so: we will. We already know this, and have begun to see it a bit. We will lose stores, publishers, authors and, worst of all, loved ones. Some of the saddest stories we've heard over the past few months have been of friends who have lost loved ones, whose funerals they can't go to. 

There are bright notes. For one, indies' customers have begun to order much more from them online. Faced with the possible loss of a beloved neighborhood store, communities have rallied behind them, donated money and saved them. And indie booksellers have been remarkably innovative in coming up with new ways of selling books. Yet another bright note concerns what readers want: look at the New York Times nonfiction bestseller list and its unprecedented number of titles on anti-racism.

Of course, there's no way of knowing what the future holds, but indies have a secret weapon, shown again and again over the years, that is especially important now: resilience.

How do we build resilience? We do it through building connections, adopting coping skills, learning new things and adjusting how we think. We also do it by taking the very best care we can of ourselves.

Here's how the Shelf will help: we will continue to be the best community newspaper we can be, keeping everyone connected. We will continue to report on and highlight how everyone is doing business now. We will keep everyone informed about new ways to keep our businesses strong. We will continue to highlight BIPOC authors to our growing audiences, which so many of you have entrusted to us. We will continue to innovate, creating new products that help our indies and our publishers sell more books. And, most importantly, now more than ever: we will listen and ask how we can do even better. Have thoughts or ideas? Send them to our publisher, Jenn Risko.

In the meantime, hydrate. Prioritize sleep. If you lose your way, watch this video, Times Like These, to rally.

Heed Mary Oliver's words, which is what we try to do every day at the Shelf:

Instructions for living a life:
Pay attention.
Be astonished.
Tell about it.

We hope to remain your ritual daily read, and we thank you to the moon and back for letting us do something that, 15 years later, we still feel especially lucky and astonished about every single day.

And we want to thank our incredibly dedicated staff. If one of the hallmarks of a good company is being able to attract and keep talent, we've hit the jackpot: not only do they pull off a herculean amount of work every day, but they are people that we feel lucky to have and genuinely enjoy just being around.


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  • K Thompson November 25, 2020 11:06 AM

    I use your newsletter constantly in my work doing collection development for a public library. It helps me order those items that I know our patrons are going to need and want. Thank you for your good work.

  • Susannah Greenberg July 1, 2020 19:24 PM

    Congratulations! Happy 15th Birthday to Shelf-Awareness! You are a great gift to the Book World! -- From Susannah Greenberg, Susannah Greenberg Public Relations

  • Marina Cramer July 1, 2020 15:46 PM

    Is it only fifteen years ago you came into Watchung Booksellers and told us, in your quiet way, about your new venture? It seems like we've been saying, "I read it in Shelf Awareness," or "Shelf Awareness recommends" for much longer. Your newsletter is vital to booksellers, authors, and publishers, and readers. Thank you, and many more! Marina

  • Carol Price June 30, 2020 17:39 PM

    Happy Birthday!!! You all are just the best, and such an integral part of what we do. I feel privileged to have drunk some of that expensed wine!! Carol, BookPeople of Moscow

  • Katie Noah June 30, 2020 11:15 AM

    Happy birthday to the Shelf! I am so proud to be a part of it.

  • peter osnos June 30, 2020 10:03 AM

    I am not an indie bookseller, but knowing what is important to them makes me and I’m sure others better publishers. Congrats. Peter Osnos

  • Linda Williams June 30, 2020 08:51 AM


  • Alice Acheson June 29, 2020 23:06 PM

    Dear John, Jenn, and all at Shelf Awareness, Your numbers are impressive, but I wish I had recorded the impressions I receive after "introducing" new writers to Shelf Awareness. They have never seen such a publication "for booksellers" that includes so many tips, education, and appreciation of the profession for writers. You are the best, and I'll be saying that 15 years from now. Alice B. Acheson, Independent Book Marketing and Publishing Consultant

  • curt jarrell June 29, 2020 22:00 PM

    It's always an informative pleasure to read your 'Little Newsletter That Could' every week. Sending you a heartfelt thanks for all you do to help books, authors and booksellers. It's important work now more than ever.

  • Joan Raphael June 29, 2020 21:02 PM

    I had just started a dream job doing collection development and somehow discovered this newsletter. It gave me what I wanted: not merely information about titles I should order but the spirit of the industry and the attitudes of booksellers. I have been retired for 4 1/2 years now and still enjoy the insight I get from this newsletter. Looking forward to the next 15 years!

  • Cheryl McKeon June 29, 2020 19:29 PM

    Congratulations! As a bookseller, it's delightful to direct customers to Shelf, assuring them they'll be "in the know" once they sign up. As a reviewer for Shelf for Readers, I am so proud to claim my affiliation with you. Hooray for Shelf!

  • DeAnn Rossetti June 29, 2020 18:33 PM

    Happy birthday my beloved Shelf Awareness, the only enewsletter that I read every day and will ever need in my life! You guys/gals are the best! I couldn't have survived as a bibliophile without your consistently excellent reporting and book news, and I have been excerpting various obits and news tidbits for my book blog for a long time. As a retired journalist, I appreciate your lovely clean prose and reviews, and I am always impressed by your ability to get timely book/author news from around the world. Thank you for all you do, and here's to another 15 years, at least!

  • Caren beecher June 29, 2020 18:13 PM

    Wonderful fantastic 15 years and many more

  • Victoria Shoemaker June 29, 2020 17:31 PM

    Happy 15th! Shelf Awareness is the spark that starts my day!! Thank you and here's to many more.

  • Shahina Piyarali June 29, 2020 17:21 PM

    Congratulations Jenn and the phenomenal Shelf team!

  • Nancy Condon Bryan June 29, 2020 16:17 PM

    I echo Allyson's comments - I am a librarian as well and your Pro newsletter is an invaluable resource! Not only for the book recommendations but also for the insights into the publishing and bookselling worlds. I have learned so much from your newsletter over the years. Happy Birthday!

  • Wendy Lochner June 29, 2020 16:13 PM

    Congratulations! As an editor who is also a voracious reader (like all of us), I don’t know how I existed without Shelf Awareness. Number of books I bought on your recommendation: countless.

  • Tommie Plank June 29, 2020 15:31 PM

    Thank you so much for 15 amazing years of news. I look forward to my morning fix before opening the store. Keep on trucking!!! Happy Birthday.

  • Allyson Goodwin June 29, 2020 15:12 PM

    Happy Birthday! I have been a subscriber almost from the beginning. I read this for two reasons; one is as a children's librarian it helps keep me on the cutting edge for collection development. Two is as a reader myself I have found so many more titles to read...thank you most of all for the column "what I am reading"

  • brad simpson June 29, 2020 14:54 PM

    I've been reading SA for nearly a decade from the time I was with my old publisher until now with Blackstone. The informative content, passionately written articles, and wonderful variety of news & stories you offer readers daily has never wavered. Congrats on your 15th year - and here's to the next 15 years! Brad Simpson - Blackstone Publishing

  • Joan Schulhafer June 29, 2020 14:24 PM

    Congratulations! All your hard work and timely information have been welcomed for 15 years!

  • Mary Bisbee-Beek June 29, 2020 14:20 PM

    I can't remember how I used to start my day before Shelf Awareness but for 15 years it's always the first cup of coffee! You are all stars! Congratulations.

  • Carole Horne June 29, 2020 13:57 PM

    I want to brag that I thought it was a brilliant idea, filling a much-needed role, from the beginning. And how magnificently you've done it! You've created a singular way to connect the entire indie world with information we need. You have the only email that everybody reads every day. Congratulations and thanks.

  • Vicki Rider June 29, 2020 13:35 PM

    Happy 15th! I'm a librarian and love reading your newsletter. Keeps me up to date on book news, book award news, trends, and etc. I enjoy the author/publisher/etc. interviews and am a mad clicker for free ARCs! All the best, and thanks! <3

  • Loreli Stochaj June 29, 2020 12:24 PM

    Happy Birthday. I am not really sure how I stumbled upon Self Awareness but I cannot image how I would keep up to date and informed on all things book and book store related. I am an elementary school librarian. Someone asked me why I would self awareness if it was for book sellers. It is not. It is for anyone who reads, anyone who tries to get others to read, and anyone who thinks the TBR pile is never high enough. Congrats and Thank You.

  • lisa howorth June 29, 2020 12:21 PM

    Yay, SA! Congrats! Appreciate y'all and you lifeline to the hinterlands! Lisa Howorth

  • Shilah Gould June 29, 2020 11:48 AM

    Happy Birthday! Thanks so much for your entertaining and educating newsletters. I look forward to them every weekday, and rely on them to learn about new books. I like your author interviews, book reviews, ARC giveaways, Robert Gray's thoughts on life, and news from around the country and world. I'm sure I left something out, but I like everything you do. Thank you!

  • Sharon Nagel June 29, 2020 11:42 AM

    Congratulations on 15 years. I have been a faithful reader since 2008, as an indie bookseller, a grad student, and now a librarian. Your column makes me feel like I’m in the loop.

  • Mark Kaufman June 29, 2020 11:42 AM

    Supporting your vision for every one of those 15 years -- even longer! Here's to many more years to come. Should you ever get to Amelia Island, the wine is on the house! All best wishes for a well-deserved celebration.

  • Barbara Theroux June 29, 2020 11:26 AM

    Congratulations!! Shelf and Wi continue to bring the book industry together. Continue to give us energy. The memories live on and the future holds hope. Thank You

  • Terry Gilman June 29, 2020 11:21 AM

    Congratulations. And thanks for all you do!

  • Karen Ruelle June 29, 2020 11:21 AM

    Congratulations! And thank you for continuing to Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it.

  • Jennifer McCord June 29, 2020 11:14 AM

    Congrats to Shelf enjoy the daily column and information. Happy 15th to all of you.

  • Anonymous June 29, 2020 11:11 AM

    Happy 15th Shelf Awareness! We know we wouldn't be so dialed in if it wasn't for you!

  • Scott Manning June 29, 2020 10:52 AM

    Congratulations! What a remarkable accomplishment. And you've capped it off with some of the most insightful reporting out there on the pandemic and its impact on our industry. Thank you.

  • Eric Boss June 29, 2020 10:38 AM

    Congratulations! You are an important, and I might even say, a vital part of my day. It is much easier to keep track of what's happening with friends and colleagues as well as the entire industry via your daily journalism. Thanks and more power to you!

  • Maryelizabeth Yturralde June 29, 2020 10:34 AM

    Wow! Happy 15, Shelf! It seems like only yesterday -- and also forever ago -- that Shelf was being introduced to the book community. Here's to continued anniversaries!

  • Roberta Schwartz June 29, 2020 10:28 AM

    Dear Folks at Shelf Awareness, I am an Indie Bookstore customer and I love waking up to your emails during the week. You do a wonderful job giving me the news about the latest books, the state of the book industry, and the writers to watch. You are indeed the" best community newspaper you can be." Thanks and happy birthday. May you celebrate with vigor now and always!

  • Lisa Burris June 29, 2020 10:27 AM

    Among the rituals that have helped me during the pandemic is enjoying a morning cup of coffee and reading Shelf Awareness. Thank you for all that you do. Happy 15th birthday, and here's to many, many more!

  • Pepper Daniels June 29, 2020 10:24 AM

    Happy Birthday! May the year ahead be an amazing journey of sharing filled with wonder and memories.

  • David Raney June 29, 2020 10:23 AM

    Thank you so much for what you do. Yours is one of very few emails I never delete w/o reading, and it's a soul salve. I used to work in an indy store, and book lovers of all stripes are my tribe. Thanks for the regular reminder of an essential part of the good life.

  • Deb Lewis June 29, 2020 10:21 AM

    Happy birthday Shelf Awareness!

  • Laura Kalpakian June 29, 2020 10:19 AM

    Bravo! Thanks for yr contributions to the literary community! Here’s to many more years ahead!

  • Lenore Kester June 29, 2020 10:17 AM

    I closed my bookstore 5 years ago, but still love reading you every day. Congratulations!

Ingram: Happy 15th Anniversary Shelf Awareness!

The Shelf Awareness 15-Year Index

1. Number of subscribers for our first issue, 15 years ago today: 587.

2. Estimated number of subscribers who will see today's issue of Shelf Pro: 42,000.

3. Number of subscribers who read our consumer-facing publication, Shelf Awareness for Readers: 525,000.

4. Number of subscribers who received our newest baby, the Pre-Order E-blast: 488,540. 

5. Number of mornings that John Mutter has risen at 6 a.m. to send out Shelf Pro: Most of our 3,769 issues.

6. Number of nights Jenn Risko somehow thought it best to not sleep, but to stay up worrying/planning/brainstorming: More than she cares to admit. 

7. Numbers of employees and freelancers in the first year, aside from John and Jenn: 0

8. Number of current employees and freelancers today: 80

9. Total lifetime number of e-newsletters Shelf Awareness has sent: 486 million. (And now, we need a nap!)

10. Number of e-newsletters the Shelf has sent on behalf of the ABA, PNBA, CALIBA and MPIBA: 34.6 million.

11. Number of ads over the lifetime of the Shelf: More than 20,000 paid, and at least double that in gratis re-runs, 'cause we are GIVERS.

12. Estimated number of bottles of wine consumed: Okay, we did the math. Maybe a bit more than we want to reveal.

13. Number of mornings we sent the issue on auto-pilot because of aforementioned wine: Classified.

14. Number of mornings we worked to send the Shelf out with no power or Internet: 7.

15. Number of times the Shelf didn't go out: 0

16. Average number of folks every year who are fooled by our April Fool's issue: many more than will admit to it.

17. Most-cited "favorite first line of a novel" in our Reading With... interviews: "Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendía was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice." --Gabriel García Márquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude.

18.  Number of times we've heard how much our colleagues love and appreciate what we do: Countless.

19.  Number of times we get sick of hearing this: 0

20. Percentage of time we feel we can't thank our readers, advertisers and employees nearly enough: Pretty much all the time.

21. Number of years we want to keep doing this: Many, many more.

22. Percentage of time we miss seeing you IRL: All the time.

Andrews McMeel Publishing: 15 years of Shelf Awareness - Happy Anniversary!

Highlights of the Last 15 Years

In 15 years, we've posted nearly 50,000 individual stories and items in the Pro edition of Shelf Awareness, according to our server's reliable count. (And that doesn't include our many other publications, particularly Shelf Awareness for Readers, dedicated issues, Max Shelves and more!) The stories and items range from simple media listings and bestseller lists to news stories, in-depth analyses and commentary. After carefully reviewing all 50,000--well, maybe not--we've chosen standout items that highlight the people, books, bookstores and events of the last 15 turbulent years. We regret that we can't include everything, so please excuse any omissions.

Over the last decade and a half, we've had the honor of being able to interview a range of authors, who invariably are a mix of entertaining, challenging, candid, humorous, thoughtful and mind-bending.

Among the author interviews that stand out for us: Jill Alexander Essbaum, the poet who spoke with us in 2015 in connection with the publication of her first novel, Hausfrau; nonfiction author Bill Hayes, who talked with us in 2017 about Insomniac City, on his life in New York City with Oliver Sacks; a 2010 Max Shelf for Matterhorn by Karl Marlantes that included a playlist (!); in 2011, Christopher Buehlman on the publication of Those Across the River; Jesmyn Ward, just after she won the National Book Award in 2011 for her second novel, Salvage the Bones, and began to receive the attention she deserved; and Christopher Myers and Walter Dean Myers when in 2011 the father and son together published We Are America. And earlier this year, we featured amazing interviews with the Youth Media winners: Sibert winners Kevin Noble-Maillard and Juana Martinez-Neil and Printz winner A.S. King.

Some of our author interviews are part of a series that is now called Reading With... They ask authors to reply to a series of set questions and encourage them to add a question and answer of their own. One completely broke the mold: John Mutter's own Reading With... Other favorite Reading With... columns were in 2010, Jacqueline Woodson, a leader in the #KidLit4BlackLives effort who later became the Young People's Poet Laureate, National Ambassador for Young People's Literature and winner of multiple national and international awards; Héctor Tobar in 2011 just as his novel The Barbarian Nurseries was published. (In August, his next novel, The Last Great Road Bum, will be published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux.) And in 2009, we ran Reading With... columns featuring Iranian American author Gina B. Nahai; Chinese American author Jamie Ford; and, in 2011, Mexican American author Brando Skyhorse, and Pakistani American author Ayad Akhtar.

Of all our scoops over the years, perhaps the one we're most proud of was about what had been the top-secret opening of the first Amazon Books store, in Seattle, Wash., in November 2015. Almost all the major news sources writing about Amazon Books attributed the scoop to us, and that day our name was seen by an estimated 35 million people. This was followed by a tour of that store--including amusing details such as that when the doors opened with news cameras rolling, a handful of people waiting on line applauded, some of whom were Amazon employees.

Among landmarks in bookselling over the past 15 years was the collapse of Borders in 2011, which we documented in July when the closing announcement was made. We also had an analysis of the series of bad steps that had led to the closing of the once-dominant chain. (One good thing to come out of the bankruptcy was the in-house employee financial support group that morphed into the Book Industry Charitable Foundation (Binc), which has this year become even more important than ever.)

The saga of Barnes & Noble, which many feared would go the way of Borders, was nearly as dramatic, and took a big shift last year when Elliot Management bought the bookseller and named James Daunt, who is also managing director of Waterstones in the U.K., its CEO. The sale resulted in the retirement of Len Riggio, perhaps the single-most powerful force in U.S. bookselling from the 1970s through the '90s. We offered an appraisal of his mixed 50-year career.

Wi9 opening reception at Elliott Bay Book Company, Seattle.

The first Winter Institute, created by the American Booksellers Association, took place in January 2006, and we feel a kinship with the conference, which has become wildly popular and the single most-important bookseller event in North America. We had a good feeling about it from the beginning, as we expressed in our report on the first show, in Long Beach, Calif. "Grade for ABA's First Winter Institute: A+." In fact, we wrote our very first check as a business to sponsor badge holders, which many of you have collected over the years.

Over the years, Winter Institute programs have featured a range of excellent topics and speakers. Consider New York restaurateur Danny Meyer, who in 2008 expounded on the value of the Hospitality Quotient in setting businesses--and bookstores--apart from the competition. And Daniel Pink, who has spoken at three Winter Institutes over the years, most recently in 2018, when he praised booksellers as "people who care about the life of ideas; people who care about the integrity of the community; people who care about science; people who care about truth."

Winter Institute has also been the place where major issues and trends often are first raised or applied to the book world, like the Town Hall at Wi12 in 2017, just after the inauguration of President Trump, when many called for greater diversity and inclusion at the ABA, in bookselling and in publishing in general. At the same Winter Institute and in a similar vein, Roxane Gay said during her keynote that "everything we do is political as readers, as writers, as booksellers, as people."

And in 2019, Margaret Atwood discussed The Handmaid's Tale and The Testaments, observing that books are "one of the places people go when they feel under both political and psychological pressure. It is actually quite helpful to know that other people have been through similar things before, and have come out of them."

Jenn Risko, Oren Teicher and John Mutter, when Jenn and John won PubWest's Rittenhouse Award.

This year's Winter Institute in January (the last large in-person industry event for many of us) marked a major transition for the host ABA: the retirement of CEO Oren Teicher, who led a resurgence of indies over the previous decade (read our appreciation of all he did for independent bookselling as well as his perspective, early this year, on the accomplishments of and challenges faced by booksellers). At the same time, Wi15 marked the impending arrival of Allison Hill as Teicher's successor (read an interview with her here), whose first day came just as indies across the country were about to close their doors because of the pandemic. (We're glad to know she's doing a remarkable job under the most trying circumstances.)

Sadly, we've said goodbye to too many special and extraordinary people in the book world over the past 15 years. These include Rusty Drugan, executive director of the New England Independent Booksellers Association, who died in 2006 and had a most wonderful memorial service; bookman, jazzman and birdman Paul Kozlowski in 2014; beloved Carla Gray, shockingly on the eve of BookExpo in 2017; and, late last year, Knopf's Sonny Mehta. Most recently we remembered the delightful and supportive Carolyn Reidy, former president and CEO of Simon & Schuster.

And so many wonderful authors have left us, among them Studs Terkel in 2008, Maurice Sendak in 2012, and Toni Morrison last year.

One of our most enjoyable traditions (sadly tempered this unusual year) has been our April Fools' Day issues. We receive more direct comments on these than any other issues, many of which chronicle just when the reader has realized that everything in the issue is a joke. Most of our April Fools stories continue to make us laugh. Among our favorites:

2008: Perseus Book Group, whose warehouse in Jackson, Tenn., had major difficulties, is buying Ingram's wholesaling and distribution business. The item caused such consternation by readers who didn't notice the issue's date that Ingram's CEO and president at the time, Skip Prichard, new to the job, wound up sending his first company-wide e-mail explaining that the item was a joke.

2014: Barnes & Noble decides to change its name officially to Barnes & Nobles, reflecting the "common usage" of a majority of its customers.

2017: The Trump Prezident Library is already under construction.

2019: James Patterson donates $50,000 for bookstore cat bonuses.

For 14 years, Bob Gray has been contributing a weekly column that thoughtfully and philosophically explores bookselling and the world of books. He captures the mood and the zeitgeist, such as with his very first column, which appeared June 15, 2006, about bookstores' use of websites, which was so limited that in the column, he repeated the question, "Why do bookstores have websites?"

Among the many standout columns (about 700 altogether!) are "Reflections (Not Resolutions)," from New Year's 2013, outlining his approach to column writing, and "No Hotel ABA in Zoomlandia," from last month, marking the unthinkable: a cancelled BookExpo.

From the Well-Read Moose Bookstore & Café, Coeur d'Alene, Idaho

For the past three months, news coverage has been different from what we've ever experienced. Before this year, sometimes we had to search for news to have a respectable amount of stories in an issue, and if there was an in-depth event or series of events to write up, it was like covering a conference--intense for a short while, but then followed by a weekend when one could recoup.

But since March, there's been an ongoing wave of news to report on, as stores began to close, then scrambled to figure out how to stay in business without allowing customers inside, then deciding when and how to reopen--and we've covered how people have rallied to help bookstores financially and in other ways. Then came the murder of George Floyd and protests against racism that rocked the world. Again there has been a steady wave of news to report on, from how booksellers have been supporting the movement and fighting for social justice and Black Lives Matter to how bookstores--and the book business in general--are changing to be more diverse and inclusive in a range of ways, to highlighting anti-racist and other pertinent books.

Our coverage has included daily "how bookstores are coping" store profiles and international updates and more information on individual stores and booksellers. Of course, like everyone else, we've been doing this while sheltering in place and experiencing all the personal tension of being in the midst of a pandemic. We're all a bit exhausted, and we know you're drained, too--but we all need this information to understand what's happening and do our jobs better and live better. We promise to keep the reports coming.

Some of Our Favorite Reviews of the Past Decade

In honor of 15 years of Shelf Awareness, our reviews editors have chosen 30 of our favorite titles from the past decade, 2010-2019, in the categories of adult fiction, adult nonfiction and children's/YA.


A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman (Washington Square Press, $16 paperback, 9781476738024)
With the help of his neighborhood, a widower finds a new lease on life just when he's trying to end it all. This astounding, colorful debut inspires both laughter and tears: part love story, part crusade, all wonderful.

Good Morning, Midnight by Lily Brooks-Dalton (Random House, $17 paperback, 9780812988192)
This novel makes an excellent addition to the literary-dystopic canon, with its thoughtful approach to characters forced to reconsider what matters most in the face of possible human extinction.

Trust Exercise by Susan Choi (Holt, $15.99 paperback, 9781250231260)
In this complex examination of reality versus fantasy, Choi encourages readers to lay private memories next to the events of Trust Exercise, in order to compare the revelations of the plot with their own hard-earned insights into life. A truly innovative novel.

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr (Scribner, $17 paperback, 9781501173219)
In World War II France, a 16-year-old French girl who cannot see and an 18-year-old German soldier obsessed with radio communications share a strange, star-crossed history. Anthony Doerr's second novel celebrates--and also accomplishes--what only the finest art can: the power to create, reveal, and augment experience in all its horror and wonder, heartbreak and rapture.

Matterhorn by Karl Marlantes (Grove Press, $17 paperback, 9780802145314)
Set during the Vietnam War, Karl Marlantes's timeless tale of bravery, misery, stupidity and love is nothing short of a hero's journey, a quest for meaning.

There There by Tommy Orange (Vintage, $16 paperback, 9780525436140)
This powerful novel about urban Native Americans is underlain with a drumbeat of sadness and conflict but threaded with hope.

Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders (Random House, $17 paperback, 9780812985405)
George Saunders's first novel spins a gloriously imaginative portrait of human grief and the afterlife as Abraham Lincoln mourns the death of his son.

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles (Penguin, $17 paperback, 9780143110439)
In lushly evocative writing, this grand, sweeping story takes place entirely inside the walls of a luxury hotel in 1920s-1950s Moscow.

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead (Anchor, $16.95 paperback, 9780345804327)
The wildest, most thrillingly implausible part of The Underground Railroad is not the many-miles-long underground tunnels, but the persistence of hope in the face of senseless, persistent horror.

A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara (Anchor, $18 paperback, 9780804172707)
Hanya Yanagihara's potent second novel unearths secrets one man has kept meticulously since childhood as he gradually comes to trust a few special friends.


The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander (New Press, $18.99 paperback, 9781620971932)
This seminal book addresses the systemic racism of the U.S. justice system, drawing parallels between the Jim Crow laws of the late 19th and early 20th century and the War on Drugs that grew up after the collapse of Jim Crow in the 1960s.

The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics by Daniel James Brown (Penguin, $18 paperback, 9780143125471)
With nail-biting suspense, Brown establishes the rare, thrilling you are there quality that epitomizes the best in sportswriting, and captures the personalities, psychologies and stories of all the players.

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates (Spiegel & Grau, $10.99 paperback, 9780525510307) 
Structured as a letter to Coates's teenage son, this is a furious, successful stab at the heart of racial injustice in America.

Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End by Atul Gawande (Picador, $17 paperback, 9781250076229)
A surgeon offers a passionate argument for rethinking the medical profession's approach to the treatment of the elderly and terminally ill. Only a precious few books have the power to open our eyes while they move us to tears; Atul Gawande has produced such a work.

The Book of Delights by Ross Gay (Algonquin, $23.95 hardcover, 9781616207922)
Between his 42nd and 43rd birthdays, Ross Gay--a National Book Award finalist for poetry--decided to capture as many delights as possible, and spin them out into a series of "essayettes." The result is a kaleidoscopic collection of joy.

Citizen: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine (Graywolf, $20 paperback, 9781555976903)
Interjecting cultural criticism with poetry--or rather, injecting poetry with criticism--Rankine carefully and methodically begins to unravel the tightly wound spool of anti-black racism in the United States.

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot (Broadway Books, $17 paperback, 9781400052189)
Combining a fascinating medical story with an intense family drama, Rebecca Skloot's account of the famous HeLa cells is as compelling as many novels.

Just Kids by Patti Smith (Ecco, $16.99 paperback, 9780060936228)
Hall of Fame rocker and National Book Award winner Smith gives readers an eloquent glimmer of the gritty New York of the late 1960s and early 1970s, as well as her relationship with artist Robert Mapplethorpe.

Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson (Spiegel & Grau, $17 paperback, 9780812984965)
Bryan Stevenson, a lawyer working with inmates on death row, writes about his experience, and about the many ways it has prompted him to be merciful in his judgment of others.

Men We Reaped by Jesmyn Ward (Bloomsbury, $17 paperback, 9781608197651)
National Book Award winner Jesmyn Ward's memoir is a searing look at racism in the U.S. today--and a loving tribute to a lost brother and four friends.


The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo (HarperTeen, $12.99, 9780062662811)
Fifteen-year-old Xiomara wants to identify as a poet, but doesn't know how to blend it with her other identity as a well-developed daughter of strict Dominican-American immigrants.

The Crossover by Kwame Alexander (HMH Books for Young Readers, $8.99, 9780544935204)
Josh Bell, star scholar-athlete, tells his Newbery Medal-winning tale in poems, as a rift develops with his twin brother and he could well succumb to a downward spiral.

Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures by Kate DiCamillo, illus. by K.G. Campbell (Candlewick, $7.99, 9780763687649)

Newbery Medal author Kate DiCamillo tips her hat to the comic-book world in this winningly illustrated, slapstick-yet-soulful novel about a thoughtful squirrel superhero and the lonely girl who loves him.

I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen (Candlewick, $17.99, 9780763655983)
A droll morality tale for all ages starring a bear that tracks down his hat and takes his revenge.

Julián Is a Mermaid by Jessica Love (Candlewick, $16.99, 9780763690458)
With his grandmother's unconditional affirmation, Julián's daydreams become spectacular reality in Broadway actor Jessica Love's triumphant author/illustrator debut.

Wonder by R.J. Palacio (Knopf, $16.99, 9780375869020)
A courageous, intelligent and funny hero with a face that makes a lasting impact on everyone he meets. This extraordinary book will make you see the world differently.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas (Balzer + Bray, $18.99, 9780062498533)
This standout YA debut novel shares a heartbreaking teen perspective on Black Lives Matter and racial divides in contemporary American society.

Press Here by Hervé Tullet (Chronicle Books, $15.99, 9780811879545)
Even though you--and most children--know intellectually that it won't make a bit of difference, you can't help but "press here" when Hervé Tullet tells you to place your finger on the yellow dot that appears on the cover; and it doesn't stop there.

brown girl dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson (Nancy Paulsen/Penguin Random House, $10.99, 9780147515827)
This poetic memoir describes growing up in the 1960s and 1970s in the North and the South, and how these turbulent times shaped a young woman and a budding writer.

Boxers & Saints by Gene Luen Yang, colored by Lark Pien (First Second/Macmillan, $39.99, 9781596439245)
National Book Award finalist Gene Luen Yang takes an ingenious approach to the 19th-century Boxer Rebellion in China, through two protagonists, one a leader of the peasantry in Boxers, the other a newly converted Catholic in Saints.


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