Shelf Awareness for Thursday, January 20, 2011

Simon & Schuster: The Lightning Bottles by Marissa Stapley

Minotaur Books: The Dark Wives: A Vera Stanhope Novel (Vera Stanhope #11) by Ann Cleeves

Soho Crime: Exposure (A Rita Todacheene Novel) by Ramona Emerson

Wednesday Books: When Haru Was Here by Dustin Thao

Tommy Nelson: Up Toward the Light by Granger Smith, Illustrated by Laura Watkins

Tor Nightfire: Devils Kill Devils by Johnny Compton


Image of the Day: Final Jeopardy

Here Stephen Baker, author of Final Jeopardy: Man vs. Machine and the Quest to Know Everything (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), poses with IBM's Watson, the computer that will soon battle humans Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter on Jeopardy! (That's Baker on the right.) The shows air February 14, 15 and 16; Final Jeopardy has a one-day laydown on February 17.

BINC: Do Good All Year - Click to Donate!

Notes: B&N Buying Staff Layoffs; Davis Kidd Booksellers Fund

In a move that both unsettled a business already shaken by the steady erosion of Borders Group and contrasted to the energetic, optimistic mood among independent booksellers at the Winter Institute, Barnes & Noble laid off much of its buying staff, including some of its best-known booksellers.
They included Bob Wietrack, v-p, merchandising, and Marcella Smith, director of small press and vendor relations. Other casualties were Dan Mayer, Lee Stern, Kim Corradini and David Hathaway and other buyers and assistant buyers.

Barnes & Noble's official comment was: "We made a small number of organizational changes this week that are designed to better align our resources with our business. Barnes & Noble is a growing company with both our revenues and new hires growing faster than they have in years."

Earlier this month, B&N called the holiday season its best ever, and although much of the gain came from sales of e-readers and e-books, the book operations are still a huge part of the company. The gutting of the buying department with the loss of many longtime, respected buyers who were key parts of the growth of B&N in the past 20 years, seems a drastic and short-sighted move.


Thelma Kidd and Karen Davis, founders and former owners of Davis-Kidd Booksellers, hope to keep the spirit of the business alive through the Davis Kidd Booksellers Fund. Partnering with the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee, the fund will provide grants to nonprofit organizations dedicated to literacy. Applications will soon be available, and grant winners will be announced in August, the Tennessean reported.

When the Davis-Kidd bookstore in Nashville was closed last month by parent company Joseph-Beth Booksellers, "so many people immediately began to express their sorrow and loss about the closing," Davis said. "We felt that as well, so we thought what can we do to put these feelings some place where there's action?... We had been a community partner since the beginning. We held book fairs. We invited authors in for book signings. We were not just a retail space. We extended into the community."

Ellen Lehman, president of the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee, said that, as in Davis-Kidd's heyday, the fund will continue to encourage book lovers and support the community.


Wilfrid Sheed, "the wittily satirical man of letters who drew upon his Anglo-American background to write bittersweet essays, criticism, memoirs and fiction about cultural life on both sides of the Atlantic," died Wednesday, the New York Times reported. He was 80.


Nearly two decades after Borders and Barnes & Noble invaded the Albany, N.Y., region, local indie booksellers are "not celebrating as Michigan-based Borders closes stores and sheds jobs in an apparent attempt to stave off bankruptcy. That's partly because the problems hurting Borders--online competition and the rise of e-books, in particular--are faced by all booksellers, big and small," the Times Union reported.

"It was devastation," recalled Susan Novotny, owner of the Book House of Stuyvesant Plaza and Market Block Books, when asked about the chain bookstores arrival on the scene in 1993. "There were literally 11 independent bookstores that went out of business." She added, "None of us can say that our sales are strong. But they're strong enough that we can see our way through."

Connie Brooks, co-owner of Battenkill Books, Cambridge, observed that troubles for Borders could harm the publishing companies that are owed money: "None of us want to see more publishers go away. And none of us want to see fewer authors able to bring their books to the market." Brooks expressed confidence for her shop's future: "We felt good about this community supporting a bookstore, and I'm happy to say that so far it's going well."


Is there a potential buyer for the Mystery Bookstore? Last week (Shelf Awareness, January 12, 2011), owners of the Los Angeles bookstore announced plans to close by the end of the month. But UCLA's Daily Bruin reported that co-owner Kirk Pasich said "a publisher has already made an offer to buy the Mystery Bookstore. However, Pasich said he would only sell it as long as the new owner agreed to keep it as a bookstore and maintain its character."


Ariana Paliobagis is the new owner of the Country Bookshelf, Bozeman, Mont. She purchased the bookstore in December from longtime owner Mary Jane DiSanti, the Daily Chronicle reported.

"I'm so excited," DiSanti said. "There's not a person in the world who would do a better job. She's going to keep it the same and make it better. She has exciting new ideas and energy, so much energy."

"It's my dream; it really is," added Paliobagis, who has worked as a bookseller at the shop for the past five years. "This is kind of like my kingdom I've been dreaming of since I was a child.... I've got the best staff in the world, and the most beautiful shop in the world."

DiSanti called the store her "fifth child. Imagine the confidence I have in Ariana to let her adopt my fifth child." She had considered selling in 2007 after some temporary health issues, but the recession ultimately became the deciding factor. "I loved every minute," she said. "There wasn't a day I wasn't excited about going to work. It's the books and the people, too.... Unless you've worked in a store, you don't know how much work it is. I've been thinking it's kind of time."


Karin Anna, owner of Looking Glass Bookstore, Portland, Ore., plans to close the 38-year-old bookshop in March if she can't find a buyer. The Oregonian noted that Anna "was no romantic neophyte when she bought the business, then downtown, in 2001. During the 1980s, she was a book buyer for large stores and saw how the industry was changing."

"But I still believed in the independent bookstore. I didn't anticipate all the technological changes," said Anna, who also cited the recession that forced customers to be more price-conscious. "I call it a perfect storm. It breaks my heart."

The Oregonian spoke with other indie booksellers in the area, including Will Peters, manager of Annie Bloom's Books, who said, "We've been in business 30 years. I started out before we had computerized inventory. The hardest part is getting customers into a physical store. A store has to have a good assortment of books. It's a tough climate now, but we're holding our own."


Educators, parents, publishers, librarians and book lovers are gathering in Montreal this week for Canada's second National Reading Summit "to develop schemes to encourage more reading--and to welcome the results of the book count, which will add together last week's sales figures covering an estimated 80% of the Canadian book market with the week's circulation figures from 19 urban library systems serving 11 million Canadians," the Toronto Globe & Mail reported, while posing the question: "So why are we so worried about the death of reading?"

"There is a kind of anxiety about the new replacing the old," suggested Jane Pyper, city librarian at the Toronto Public Library and one of the summit's organizers. "In the libraries we have this dialogue between formats, as activities that can support each other, but it is easier to tell a story of competition."

The goal of the Reading Summit is "to hammer out a series of concrete proposals in time for its third meeting in Vancouver in 2012, but its first solution is that, for both young and old, reading should be nothing but pleasure," the Globe & Mail wrote.


You've heard the speech; now read the book. Nation Books will publish the text of Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders's epic eight-and-a-half hour filibuster last month against the tax cut deal made between the White House and congressional Republicans. The Speech: A Historic Filibuster on Corporate Greed and the Decline of Our Middle Class, with an introduction by the senator, is set for release in mid-February. An e-book edition will be available by January 28.


Eva Gabrielsson may have plans to finish the late Stieg Larsson's fourth novel (Shelf Awareness, January 18, 2011), but Knopf's Paul Bogaards told Word & Film there "is no fourth book from Stieg Larsson on the horizon. Only the estate, controlled by his family (Joakim and Erland Larsson), can authorize publication of a fourth book, and they have no intention of doing so at the moment."

The door may be open a crack, however. Word & Film noted, "It's clear from the ambiguous language in Random House's statement (i.e. 'on the horizon' and 'at the moment') that the keepers of the Stieg flame have not ruled out coming to an agreement with Gabrielsson (who claims she possesses the laptop containing the unpublished manuscript). But, for the time being, that horizon is still too far off to see clearly."


Watch where you're walking... or reading. Inkstone Software has launched a new safety feature for its MegaReader iPhone app. Walk n'Read HUD uses the iPhone’s front facing camera to let you read books and documents on the move while staying aware of hazardous obstacles in your path.

Inkstone also offers a brief safety guide for people who regularly walk and read. Our favorite tip: "Before going out on the street, practice reading safely while strolling around your own home."


Big message in a few words: "Reading Means Resisting," an advertisement from Feltrinelli Publisher, was featured by Ads of the World.


To celebrate National Mentoring Month, Flavorwire paid tribute to 10 of "literature's most fruitful mentorships."


"Don't censor Huckleberry Finn... hearing there are bad words in it is the only reason teenagers do read it." The Huffington Post reported that on Friday's episode of his HBO show Real Time, Bill Maher "has some choice words for the publishers who want to omit offensive language from Mark Twain's classic."  


What, no Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance? NPR's Three Books series featured Jonathan Bastian's reading choices for his motorcycle road trip, including The Meadow by James Galvin, In Search of Small Gods by Jim Harrison and Hell's Angels by Hunter S. Thompson.

Book trailer of the day: Stuntman!: My Car-Crashing, Plane-Jumping, Bone-Breaking, Death-Defying Hollywood Life by Hal Needham (Little, Brown). Needham is a longtime stuntman in Hollywood and directed his friend and roommate Burt Reynolds in Smokey and the Bandit and Hooper. The book appears February 9.


Melville House Publishing has launched the Neversink Library, a new imprint that "champions books from around the world that have been overlooked, underappreciated, looked askance at, or foolishly ignored." Melville House is also inviting readers to suggest forgotten literary masterpieces.


Effective July 1, children's publisher Blue Apple Books will be sold and distributed worldwide by Random House Publisher Services. Bestselling Blue Apple titles include Alphabeasties, Bear in Underwear, Stella Is a Star and Doodles at Breakfast as well as licensed titles from Dwell Studio.

Blue Apple publisher Harriet Ziefert said, "I am thrilled to be going home to Random House, the publisher of my first four books, all of which are still in print after 20 years. Our publishing is built on collaboration and Random House offers a uniquely collaborative approach to sales not offered anywhere else."

Chronicle Books has been handling distribution for Blue Apple Books.


Effective immediately, Peter Costanzo, former director of online marketing for Perseus Books Group, has been named director of digital content at F+W Media. He will report to executive v-p, eMedia, Chad Phelps, who said, "In Peter’s new role, he will work closely with our development team, digital asset team, marketing department, and community leaders to further refine and implement our go-forward strategy regarding all enhanced e-books and apps released by F+W Media."
David Nussbaum, the publisher's chairman and CEO, added, "Peter's experience and innovative leadership in the e-book and enhanced e-book sector will quickly accelerate our growth in the digital book business."


Graphic Universe (Tm): Hotelitor: Luxury-Class Defense and Hospitality Unit by Josh Hicks

First Day of WI6: Capitol Hill and the SBA

Taking advantage of its presence in the nation's capital, the first full day of Winter Institute 6 focused on community issues and legislative matters. The morning and lunch programs helped prepare booksellers for meetings in the afternoon with staff at their senators' and representatives' offices.

ABA CEO Oren Teicher led a discussion on indie retail and activism that featured Jakob Wolf-Barnett, operations manager of Revolution Cycles, which has five stores in the capital area that specialize in bicycle "sales, service and sharing"; Rick Karp, president of Cole Hardware and a founder of the San Francisco Locally Owned Merchants Alliance; and Wendy Hudson, owner of Nantucket Bookworks, Nantucket, Mass.

Hudson became involved in community business issues after hearing inspiring indie "rock star idols" (several of whom were in attendance yesterday) at earlier ABA sessions. She started small: she wrote a local article about chain stores that led to a lot of media attention. That brought her to the attention of the chamber of commerce, where she discussed tax issues and worked on a committee. She advised booksellers who wanted to get involved to say "yes, yes, yes" to everything, and called herself "exhibit A." She said, "If I can do it, anyone can."

Karp became involved in community issues in the early 1980s when Home Depot first tried to open stores in San Francisco. He said the trick was to not be self-serving; by reaching out to pet shops and booksellers, etc., and presenting common small business concerns, he had an easier time connecting with supervisors and the mayor's office.

Eventually, Home Depot's "cousin" Lowe's made it into San Francisco, but the process was delayed for decades. In recent years Karp has worked with Hut Landon and the Northern California Independent Booksellers Association on a shop local campaign.

At Revolution Cycles, the motto is "get more butts onto bikes," Wolf-Barnett said. He likes to sponsor events like Ladies Night that bring people into the stores for fun--and then engage in such advocacy as circulating petitions for bike safety conditions and seeking out customers who would meet with officials.

Karp emphasized that no matter the size of the government agency--city to congressional level--by "going to that pond you are a big fish, because no one hardy ever shows up." Even on Capitol Hill, he said, "They appreciate that you show up."


PBS's Jim Lehrer started off his interview of Karen Mills, the administrator of the Small Business Administration by saying to booksellers, "We're all in this together in more ways than one." (Lehrer has written 20 novels and two memoirs and is a fan of indie bookstores.)

Lehrer asked the booksellers how many have used the SBA. Of the several hundred in attendance--many of whom were employees, not owners--50 to 75 hands went up.

"The SBA works very well on Main Street," said Mills, citing in particular its free Small Business Development Centers. "But we still have a job to do on our brand." So, she said, the SBA has focused on making information more accessible and less cumbersome. "We now turn around loans within five to eight days," she said. "That is, once they are complete." The SBA is also working to streamline its paperwork.

Lehrer said that one bookseller told him, "What we really need is a 'Tiny' Business Administration." He noted that everyone says they are for small business, but wondered if the SBA has the resources to back up the rhetoric.

Mills, who calls President Barack Obama "boss," said, "We're fortunate to have a leader who really cares--and he cares about your particular business. He reads."

"He even writes," interjected Lehrer.

It had been 10 years since any stand-alone small business legislation was passed, before the bipartisan effort this past fall, said Mills, and health care remains the main concern of small businesses. "I am already on the record of not being in favor of repealing the health care reform act," she added. "It's already working for small businesses [in forms of tax cuts]."

While booksellers appreciated Mills speaking to them and the fact that she was a small business owner before taking her post at the SBA, many still wondered how much the tax credits in the health care reform legislation would benefit them.

At the end of the session, Lehrer asked Mills what she is reading. She admitted usually to reading thrillers and said she counted David Baldacci and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (both fellow Mainers) among her favorite writers.--Bridget Kinsella


Shelf Awareness Job Board: Click Here to Post Your Job

Cool Idea of the Day: Be $ensible--A Gathering

This Saturday afternoon, Sam Weller's Bookstore, Salt Lake City, Utah, will host Be $ensible: A Gathering, an event at which participants can discuss topics of interest for the upcoming state legislative session. Speakers include Rod Decker of KUTV and Paul Rolly of the Salt Lake Tribune, with Patrick A. Shea moderating.

"In addition to legislative prognostication, the meeting will stress the need for a return to $ensibility in political discourse and governance," the bookstore's website observed. Be $ensible buttons will be distributed to help spread the message of sensibility beyond the gathering. Sam Weller’s is also offering a 10% discount to anyone wearing one of the buttons during the state legislative session, and is featuring a list of titles available for attendees to purchase at discount and donate to Bennion Elementary School's library during the event.

Be $ensible is conducting a contest throughout the 2011 Legislative session. Citizens can submit nominations to the Be $ensible website for "the most sensible and the least sensible legislative acts and statements, the best alternative, and for the best Pat Bagley cartoon which captures the 2011 session." Be $ensible will meet again at the bookstore for a post-session review on March 12, when awards will be presented.


G.L.O.W. - Galley Love of the Week
Be the first to have an advance copy!
Becoming Little Shell:
Returning Home to the Landless
Indians of Montana
by Chris La Tray
GLOW: Milkweed Editions: Becoming Little Shell: Returning Home to the Landless Indians of Montana by Chris La Tray

Growing up in the 1970s, Montana Poet Laureate Chris La Tray was dimly aware of his paternal Chippewa ancestry--but his father had always rejected Indigenous identity. A series of funerals prompted him to delve into his family's history and, ultimately, to enroll in the Little Shell Tribe and join its successful campaign for federal recognition. Alternating past and present, La Tray weaves his personal experience with the wider history of Métis peoples. His book is also a love letter to Indigenous literature and Montana's natural landscapes. Daniel Slager, publisher and CEO at Milkweed Editions, noting the "beautiful flowering of writing" from Indigenous communities, was delighted to publish this "singular" work that "braids Chris's story with the history of his people, all in his inimitable voice, which is both fierce and tender." --Rebecca Foster

(Milkweed Editions, $28 hardcover, 9781571313980, 
August 20, 2024)


Shelf vetted, publisher supported

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Ron Reagan, Jr. on 20/20

Today on Fox & Friends: Ken Taylor, the subject of the new book Our Man in Tehran: The True Story Behind the Secret Mission to Save Six Americans during the Iran Hostage Crisis and the Foreign Ambassador Who Worked with the CIA to Bring Them Home by Robert Wright (Other Press, $25.95, 9781590514139).


Tomorrow morning on the Today Show: Suzanne Somers, author of Sexy Forever: How to Fight Fat after Forty (Crown Archetype, $25.99, 9780307588517).


Tomorrow morning on Good Morning America: Elisabeth Hasselbeck, author of The G-Free Diet: A Gluten-Free Survival Guide (Center Street, $14.99, 9781599951898).


Tomorrow on the Rachael Ray Show: Bob Greene, author of The Life You Want: Get Motivated, Lose Weight, and Be Happy (Simon & Schuster, $25, 9781416588368).


Tomorrow on Tavis Smiley: Dr. Rubin "Hurricane" Carter, author of Eye of the Hurricane: My Path from Darkness to Freedom (Chicago Review Press, $26.95, 9781569765685).


Tomorrow night on 20/20: Ron Reagan, Jr., author of My Father at 100 (Viking, $25.95, 9780670022595).


This Weekend on Book TV: Blowing Smoke

Book TV airs on C-Span 2 from 8 a.m. Saturday to 8 a.m. Monday and focuses on political and historical books as well as the book industry. The following are highlights for this coming weekend. For more information, go to Book TV's website.

Saturday, January 22

10:15 a.m. Joseph Carens, author of Immigrants and the Right to Stay (MIT Press, $14.95, 9780262014830), argues that unauthorized immigrants who have lived in the U.S. for a sustained period of time should be granted the right to remain here. (Re-airs Sunday at 2:30 a.m.)

12:30 p.m. Edwin Black, author of The Farhud: Roots of the Arab-Nazi Alliance During the Holocaust (Dialog Press, $22.95, 9780914153146), looks at the violent dispossession of the Jews of Baghdad in 1941. (Re-airs Sunday at 8:30 a.m. and Monday at 5 a.m.)

2 p.m. Timothy Snyder, author of Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin (Basic Books, $29.95, 9780465002399), presents a history of the mass killings led by Hitler and Stalin.  (Re-airs Saturday at 7:45 p.m. and Monday at 1 a.m.)

3:30 p.m. A. J. Langguth, author of Driven West: Andrew Jackson and the Trail of Tears to the Civil War (S&S, $30, 9781416548591), recounts the forced removal during the 1830s of Indian tribes living in the Southeast. (Re-airs Sunday at 4 a.m.)

7 p.m. Jules Witcover talks about his biography Joe Biden: A Life of Trial and Redemption (Morrow, $27.99, 9780061791987). (Re-airs Sunday at 7:30 a.m.)

9 p.m. Michael Wolraich discusses his book Blowing Smoke: Why the Right Keeps Serving Up Whack-Job Fantasies About the Plot to Euthanize Grandma, Outlaw Christmas and Turn Junior into a Raging Homosexual (Da Capo Press, $25, 9780306819193). (Re-airs Sunday at 1:30 a.m. and 10 a.m., and Monday at 4 a.m.)

10 p.m. After Words. David Brooks interviews Bill Kristol, who wrote the foreword to The Neoconservative Persuasion: Selected Essays, 1942-2009 (Basic Books, $29.95, 9780465022236) by his late father Irving Kristol. (Re-airs Sunday at 9 p.m., and Monday at 12 a.m. and 3 a.m.)

Sunday, January 23
6:30 a.m. Wendell Potter, former head of corporate communications at CIGNA, discusses his book Deadly Spin: An Insurance Company Insider Speaks Out on How Corporate PR Is Killing Health Care and Deceiving Americans (Bloomsbury, $26, 9781608192816). (Re-airs Sunday at 6 p.m. and Monday at 2:15 a.m.)

2:30 p.m. Former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown talks about his book Beyond the Crash: Overcoming the First Crisis of Globalization (Free Press, $26, 9781451624052). (Re-airs Sunday at 10 p.m. and Monday at 6:30 a.m.)


Television: Diary of a Worm, Spider and Fly

HIT Entertainment is developing Diary of a Worm, Spider and Fly, an animated series based on the books Diary of a Worm, Diary of a Fly and Diary of a Spider, written by Doreen Cronin and illustrated by Harry Bliss--both of whom will serve as series consultants, Variety reported. HIT is the producer or rights-owner behind Barney, Bob the Builder, Thomas & Friends and Angelina Ballerina.

"From digging in the soil to the stage and screen," said Bliss. "Who would've thunk it?"

"I think what attracted us to (the books) is the humor in them," added Karen Barnes, HIT executive v-p of development and production. "While they're written for children, her writing is quite clever, and it's very childlike rather than childish. You really do feel like it's a kid writing in their diary about what's going on, and it's done in a very clever way."


Movies: Sex on the Moon

Several of the key players behind the success of The Social Network--including Scott Rudin, Michael De Luca, Kevin Spacey and Dana Brunetti--plan to work on the film version of Ben Mezrich's next book, Sex on the Moon: The Amazing Story Behind the Most Audacious Heist in History. According to the Hollywood Reporter, Sony acquired the rights to Sex on the Moon, which "centers on a rising NASA scientist, who in 2004 came up with the brilliant idea of stealing moon rocks and sell them on the Internet. The goal? To impress his girlfriend." 


Books & Authors

Awards: Edgar Nominees

The Mystery Writers of America has chosen its nominees for the 2011 Edgar Allan Poe Awards, honoring the best in mystery fiction, nonfiction, TV and film published or produced in 2010. View the full list of finalists here. The Edgar Awards will be presented to the winners at MWA's 65th banquet, April 28 in New York City.


Book Review

Book Review: Necessary Endings

Necessary Endings: The Employees, Businesses, and Relationships That All of Us Have to Give Up in Order to Move Forward by Henry Cloud (HarperBusiness, $25.99 Hardcover, 9780061777127, January 2011)

"Later is one of the most abused drugs we have available to us," declares psychologist Henry Cloud (Boundaries) in this manual for healthy growth in business enterprises. As a means to delay or prevent change, procrastination, Cloud tells us, can add fatally to our tendency to hope that tomorrow will be different/better than today and allow us to remain stuck in old, ineffective ways of doing things. Excuses like, "That's how we're made," don't stop Cloud from reminding us that "if you are doing something that is using you or your resources in a way that is depleting you or damaging you, you can't keep it going.... In short: you will run out." His wake-up call to overcome resistance to necessary change should be especially valuable in these challenging economic times.

Cloud identifies the need to constantly "prune" an organization, removing unwanted or superfluous elements so that the whole can thrive. At the same time, he admits, the process is often difficult. Businesses often wait until they find themselves in hopeless situations and, backed against a wall, must take immediate action or die; we know this as the Crisis Mode, and, truth be told, only a lucky few are at their best then. Or we can build in the idea of pruning as a normal part of managing a business--reframing the approach as being a necessary part of remaining a vital organization can help to reduce negative impacts. He certainly makes normalizing change seem the obvious choice over disruptive recurring crises, and lays out a plan for business leaders to follow.

Many choices may prove hard in such a plan, but leaders are hired to make the right ones and present them with authority. But what about the human cost, many ask. What allowances will be made for long-time loyal workers and old alliances? Cloud is sympathetic to that issue and addresses it straightforwardly; refreshingly, he also points out that, in planning for change, a leader must acknowledge that there are three basic types of employees: the wise, the foolish and the evil. It's about time someone said out loud that the same approach will not be effective in dealing with each of these three types. To achieve the overall goals of the company, Cloud offers  practical tips and notes the subtleties in working with each type; many will find his insights on this topic alone reason enough to read the book that also states boldly, "it is a good idea to know how much of your life or resources you want to spend on something before you lose them all."--John McFarland

Shelf Talker: A practical, sensible and accessible guide for introducing necessary changes into a business during these challenging economic times.


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