Shelf Awareness for Monday, April 15, 2013

Workman Publishing: Ejaculate Responsibly: A Whole New Way to Think about Abortion by Gabrielle Stanley Blair

Simon & Schuster: Defend Banned Books

Simon & Schuster: Defend Banned Books

Blackstone Publishing: River Woman, River Demon by Jennifer Givhan

Sourcebooks Explore: Black Boy, Black Boy by Ali Kamanda and Jorge Redmond, illustrated by Ken Daley

Quotation of the Day

Happy Pulitzer Prize Day: Counting on a Fiction Winner

"We're counting on a Pulitzer win this year because of all the literary awards, I feel like the Pulitzer sells the most books. Which is why it was so disappointing last year that there wasn't one at all."

--Michele Filgate, events coordinator at the Community Bookstore, Brooklyn, N.Y., in a New York Times piece anticipating today's announcement of this year's Pulitzer Prize winners. Last year, no Pulitzer for fiction was awarded for the first time in 35 years.

G.P. Putnam's Sons: All I Want for Christmas by Maggie Knox


West Va. Passes 'Amazon Sales Tax' Plan

After a unanimous vote Saturday in the state Senate, the West Virginia legislature "has signed off on a plan to pursue more sales taxes from online retailers" by granting final passage of a proposal from Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, reported the Associated Press (via the Charleston Daily Mail). The bill, which passed the House 85-12 April 1, requires out-of-state retailers to apply West Virginia sales tax if they or a subsidiary have a physical presence in the state. Amazon has a customer service center in Huntington.

Disney-Hyperion: Drizzle, Dreams, and Lovestruck Things by Maya Prasad

NCIBA Spring Event: Prizes & Surprises (Including Amy Tan)

Amy Tan hadn't talked about her forthcoming novel, The Valley of Amazement (Ecco, November)--not even with her husband--she said, when she dropped by the Northern California Independent Booksellers Association's Spring meeting the weekend before last.

Like most writers, she hopes the book is literary, she said. But since independent booksellers have always been better at describing her books--going back to when they made The Joy Luck Club a bestseller--she'd try to explain what her first book in eight years is, and is not. The Valley of Amazement is set in a courtesan's house in Shanghai at the turn of the 20th Century, and it does include lots of sex.

"But I don't want people to think I am doing a rip-off--The Fifty Shades of Tan," she said. "It just so happens it has sex." Considering her previous work, even Tan's writer's group was convinced she could not write about sex. And while Tan joked that she did call on her experience as a dominatrix/singer with the Rock Bottom Remainders for The Valley of Amazement, she insisted, "It's based on research."

That research led Tan to details such as the brand names for female and male aphrodisiacs, "Gates Wide Open" and "Happiness in the Pavilion," respectively. While steeped in history, Tan said, she would hate to call The Valley of Amazement a "historical novel," because "then people want the nitty-gritty." But the book is filled with facts and details about courtesan life from the period and shows that courtesans were responsible for bringing many aspects of Western culture to Shanghai. At the time, "one in 100 women" were in the courtesan business in China, "business people who did what they did to survive," Tan said.

The book's characters include the daughter of members of the Free Thinker movement in San Francisco who follows a painter back to Shanghai, where she discovers "he's not a nice guy," and then falls in with other men, until a pandemic breaks out.

Tan said she likes to think The Valley of Amazement is literary because she included Walt Whitman poems and composed really bad poetry for a character who "fancies himself a poet."

Tan said she would also hate people to think the book is autobiographical, although her family might be horrified to learn that her grandmother--a quiet, old-fashioned woman--may have been a courtesan. When she recognized her grandmother's face in less conservatively posed photos from the family archive--photos that she once thought depicted another person--Tan said she realized that whatever her ancestor was, she was a woman who influenced her mother, "who certainly was not old-fashioned and quiet." (Ever since The Joy Luck Club, for better or worse, Tan said, people tend to think she was influenced by her mother.)

"So that's what the book is not about," said Tan. "I leave it for you to say."


(l.-r.): Diesel owners John Evans and Alison Reid; NCIBA executive director Hut Landon; Janel Feierabend, Book Passage.

At the event, NCIBA also handed out its annual bookselling awards. Diesel, A Bookstore owners Alison Reid and John Evans accepted the outstanding event award for the transformation of its Oakland location into Brokeland Records, the fictional store in Michael Chabon's Telegraph Avenue. (At last year's NCIBA spring meeting, Chabon shared a sneak peak.) Accepting the handselling award, Janel Feierabend from Book Passage, Corte Madera and San Francisco, said, "It is not just one person--it takes a village, it takes the whole store, it takes the NCIBA, and it takes the ABA to get the books into the booksellers' hands."

Christie Olson Day

In presenting the Debi Echlin Community Bookstore award, outgoing NCIBA president Michael Barnard, owner of Rakestraw Books, Danville, described the 2013 recipient, Christie Olson Day of Gallery Bookshop, Mendocino, as "a tireless person who is always at her store," working to make it a true community center with such elements as Book Angels, Benefit Shopping Nights, student intern programs and local-author events.

Given Diesel's award for its temporary makeover as Chabon's Telegraph Avenue, perhaps Tan's talk about The Valley of Amazement might inspire a bookseller to transform a store into a turn-of-the-century Shanghai courtesan's home. --Bridget Kinsella

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ALA's 'Most Challenged Books List'

Fifty Shades of Grey made headlines this morning with its fourth-place finish on the American Library Association's annual Top Ten List of Frequently Challenged Books, but it was Dav Pilkey's Captain Underpants series that topped the list. The ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom reported that in 2012 it received 464 reports on attempts to remove or restrict materials from school curricula and library bookshelves, an increase from 326 the previous year. The new list was included in the ALA's State of America's Libraries Report 2013.

"One reason we think the number went up in 2012 is that we made challenges easier to report by including a portal on our Web page," said Barbara M. Jones, director of the OIF.

The most challenged books last year were:

  1. Captain Underpants (series) by Dav Pilkey
  2. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
  3. Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
  4. Fifty Shades of Grey by E. L. James
  5. And Tango Makes Three by Peter Parnell & Justin Richardson
  6. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
  7. Looking for Alaska by John Green
  8. Scary Stories (series) by Alvin Schwartz
  9. The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls
  10. Beloved by Toni Morrison

BookBar Will Serve a 'Curated Inventory' in Denver

BookBar ("A book shop for wine lovers. A wine bar for book shoppers.") will open soon in Denver, Colo., featuring "a menu of wine, beer, tea, coffee, hors d'oeuvres, and desserts to be served alongside an inventory of thousands of handpicked titles," Bookselling This Week reported.

"It's so important to find a model that's sustainable in this technological world," said owner Nicole Sullivan. "You have to search for what you can offer that online and box retailers can't. The thing they can't offer, and will never be able to offer, is an experience. They can't talk with people face to face, share a glass of wine, host events, or have a sense of community. We focus on the experience aspect."

Citing inspiration and information she received from other booksellers at the ABA Winter Institute and a recent Booksellers Forum in Boulder, Sullivan observed: "I want to offer a well-curated space, where books are very obviously hand-picked, and thoughtfully hand-picked, not the bestsellers you find at Target. We want to offer everything that Amazon does--offer all the convenience while giving people the option to keep their money local."

BookBar's location in an area featuring art galleries and a "creative vibe," as well as substantial foot traffic, is Sullivan's dream site: "It makes all the sense in the world for a bookstore. I think often books get overlooked as an art form and a bookstore has a huge place in an art district. This has to work because it's so perfect."

Grolier Poetry Bookshop: 85, Going on 100

"If this store can get into its second century," said Ifeanyi Menkiti, poet, philosophy professor and owner of the Grolier Poetry Bookshop in Cambridge, Mass., "then my job is done."

Menkiti, who is 73 and Nigerian-born, bought the Grolier in 2006, after the store, one of handful of poetry-only bookstores in the U.S., had had several years of financial trouble and longtime owner Louisa Solano began to have health problems. Unwilling to see a part of history lost, Menkiti purchased the store, though he knew nothing about operating a business or selling books. The experience, in his words, has been both a "labor of love" and "baptism by fire."

The Grolier celebrated its 85th anniversary last September, and to help ensure that it continues long after his retirement, Menkiti created the Grolier Poetry Foundation, a nonprofit organization that will eventually step in and run the store. At present, the foundation is still very much in a fledgling state.

"The idea is not for the foundation to take over in one moment, but to gradually take over, to do it carefully and slowly and to do it right," Menkiti said. "Get the wrong people, and a hundred years of history could go down the drain."

Under Menkiti, the Grolier Poetry Bookshop has added a publishing imprint, Grolier Poetry Press, which has published five books. Three of those poetry collections were written by the winners of the annual Grolier Discovery Award, beginning with Keith O'Shaughnessy's Incommunicado in 2011, followed by Spring Berman's All Time Acceptable in 2012 and Some Far Country by Patridge Boswell, published this spring. Grolier Poetry Press has also run the Established Poets Series since 2012, which so far consists of So Spoke Penelope by Tino Villanueva and Dark Energy by Frederick Feirstein.

The reception to these books, reported Menkiti, has been very good. O'Shaughnessy's book will soon go back to press for a second printing, and he expects Villanueva's and Feirstein's books will do the same by the end of the year. The current plan is for Grolier Poetry Press to publish two books of poetry per year, although Menkiti said he would be amenable to publishing perhaps another book by an established poet, if means allowed.

The Grolier also sponsors readings and cultural events with poets from as far afield as eastern Europe and Myanmar. Menkiti hopes that as the foundation grows and gradually takes more control, it can expand the Grolier's cultural and educational events in a more systematic and organized manner.

"There is something about poetry," mused Menkiti. "The spirit of poetry will never, never go away.... People will always want it to read it, want to hear it. The interest in poetry is there, but the question is, how do you leverage that to support the business side of selling books?"

Becoming a nonprofit should help insulate the shop from the vicissitudes of an industry still in the midst of a profound transition, and Menkiti believes that the publishing imprint can maintain the store's vitality and cultural mission.

"We all have different pathways to poetry," said Menkiti. His began with the poems of Ezra Pound, which he first encountered while studying in Nigeria, then under British rule. Menkiti attended Pomona College in California on a scholarship and wrote his undergraduate thesis on Pound's work. He was given the English department's highest award and a prize of $100.

"The best prize in English went to an African guy," Menkiti recalled. "They never did that back then. And [the faculty] never second-guessed themselves. It took courage and integrity. Since then I've associated honor and integrity with poetry." --Alex Mutter

G.L.O.W. - Galley Love of the Week
Be the first to have an advance copy!

How Am I Doing?
40 Conversations to Have with Yourself

by Dr. Corey Yeager

GLOW: Harper Celebrate: How Am I Doing?: 40 Conversations to Have with Yourself by Dr. Corey YeagerWho is the most important person in your life? What determines your joy? What mistakes have you learned from the most? Corey Yeager--a psychotherapist who works with the Detroit Pistons basketball franchise--poses 40 self-reflective questions to facilitate positive personal change. His inviting, empathetic approach came to prominence via the Apple TV series The Me You Can't See, produced by Oprah and Prince Harry. Dr. Yeager draws from his own life story to dispel mental health stigmas and help others gain greater personal clarity. Danielle Peterson, senior acquisition editor at Harper Celebrate, says, "The format of How Am I Doing? makes it a stand-out in the mental health genre--an excellent choice for someone looking for high-density wisdom in small, bite-sized doses." Yeager's winning insights deliver a slam-dunk of empowered inspiration bound to elicit tremendous personal reward. --Kathleen Gerard

(Harper Celebrate, $22.99 hardcover, 9781400236763, 
October 18, 2022)


Shelf vetted, publisher supported



Image of the Day: Fountainhead Bookstore Stirs Up Trouble

Last week, Fountainhead Bookstore, Hendersonville, N.C., hosted a launch party for Miss Julia Stirs Up Trouble by Ann B. Ross (Viking), who lives in Hendersonville. Besides a signing, the event featured a "Miss Julia Taste of Hendersonville Recipe Contest." (The book includes recipes from characters in the series.) Fountainhead owner Valerie Welbourn said, "It was like watching an episode of Chopped on the Food Channel. I didn't envy the hard choices the judges had to make." Winners were Debby Farris for her Salmon Deviled Eggs and Kris Scott for her Lemon Kissed Cookies. The judges were: (from l.) Diane Sheiry of Waverly Inn, Hendersonville Mayor Barbara Volk, Raphael Soldati and chef and cookbook author Laurie Bakke.

Booksellers Helping Booksellers

"There's a nice bookshop in Hudson, Wisconsin, called Chapter2Books.... And all 842 square feet of it is struggling," wrote Wendy Welch, co-owner of Tales of the Lonesome Pine bookshop, Big Stone Gap, Va., on her store blog Saturday in a post headlined "A Bookstore in Wisconsin/Minnesota Needs Our Help." Welch is also the author of The Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap (St. Martin's).

Chapter2Books co-owner Sue Roegge said that while she understands people think Amazon is cheaper, "Cheap is not cheap. Cheap books = no indies no story hour for the babies at the shop = no support for local authors = no writing groups = no forum for national authors to come to town = no special, hand picked books, just bestsellers you can find anywhere -= no one to personally make a connection with your reluctant reader = no indie store participating in chamber and town events, etc. etc. etc. Is that download on Amazon really worth it?"

Roegge called the bookstore "our prayer to the universe," noting that her husband, Brian, "spent 30 years in banking, and then we got to do this. We advise customers and listen to their needs and all the things you talk about in your book, Wendy, and yet, now.... I'm mad, I'm sad, I'm frustrated, I'm devastated, I'm heartbroken, I'm terrified."

From Virginia, Welch asked: "Can we afford to lose another small town store--a BOOKstore--folks? Do we really want another one to bite the dust?" She called on readers to share information about Chapter2Bookstore "to boost morale--and spread the word that they're standing, ready, to serve booklovers along the St. Croix River."


Bookseller helping bookseller update: Hurricane Sandy devastated Bank Square Books, Mystic, Conn., last fall, and in an effort to provide some assistance with recovery efforts, R.J. Julia Booksellers, Madison, Conn., enlisted "Scout," its Espresso Book Machine, to publish The Independent Bookstore-Why It Matters. To date, 73 copies have sold, with 100% of the proceeds going to Bank Square Books.

"Because we know first-hand how important independent booksellers are to the community they serve, we asked our readers why they cherish their local bookstore and how reading has changed their lives," R.J. Julia noted. "The touching responses we received--both creative and sentimental in nature--moved us and were compiled into a special book."

Bookseller Video of the Day: Green Apple's 35th

"The New Hire," the 35th bookseller video produced by Green Apple Books, San Francisco, Calif., made its world premiere on the Los Angeles Review of Books' Tumblr this weekend. The always entertaining creative team noted that "the combination of our irreverence and DIY aesthetic really conveyed what Green Apple was all about. We like to have fun. Our staff is willing to look silly. And, of course, we love spreading the word about great books."

Jessica Roth Promoted at Touchstone

Jessica Roth has been promoted to publicity manager at Touchstone. She was previously a senior publicist.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Maya Angelou on Diane Rehm

This morning on CBS This Morning: Kay Bailey Hutchison, author of Unflinching Courage: Pioneering Women Who Shaped Texas (Harper, $27.99, 9780062130693).


This morning on Fox & Friends: Mike Dow, author of Diet Rehab: 28 Days To Finally Stop Craving the Foods That Make You Fat (Avery, $16, 9781583335048). He will also appear on the Wendy Williams Show.


Today on NPR's Fresh Air: Charles Graeber, author of The Good Nurse: A True Story of Medicine, Madness, and Murder (Twelve, $26.99, 9780446505291).


Today on NPR's Diane Rehm Show: Maya Angelou, author of Mom & Me & Mom (Random House, $22, 9781400066117).


Today on Ellen: Hilary Duff, author of True: An Elixir Novel (Simon & Schuster, $17.99, 9781442408579).


Today on MSNBC's the Cycle: Mark Geragos, co-author of Mistrial: An Inside Look at How the Criminal Justice System Works... and Sometimes Doesn't (Gotham, $27, 9781592407729).


Today on NPR's On Point: Mark Mazzetti, author of The Way of the Knife: The CIA, a Secret Army, and a War at the Ends of the Earth (Penguin Press, $29.95, 9781594204807). He will also appear on PBS Newshour.


Today on Hannity: Jayson Lusk, author of The Food Police: A Well-Fed Manifesto About the Politics of Your Plate (Crown Forum, $24, 9780307987037).


Tomorrow morning on the Today Show: Sherry Gore, author of Simply Delicious Amish Cooking (Zondervan, $16.99, 9780310335542).


Tomorrow morning on CBS This Morning: William McDonough, co-author of The Upcycle: Beyond Sustainability--Designing for Abundance (North Point Press, $24, 9780865477483).


Tomorrow on Live with Kelly and Michael: Caroline Kennedy, editor of Poems to Learn by Heart (Disney Press, $19.99, 9781423108054). She will also appear on the Colbert Report.


Tomorrow on Fox Radio's Kilmeade and Friends: Tim S. Grover, co-author of Relentless: From Good to Great to Unstoppable (Scribner, $26, 9781476710938).


Tomorrow on NPR's Diane Rehm Show: Cass R. Sunstein, author of Simpler: The Future of Government (Simon & Schuster, $26, 9781476726595).


Tomorrow on the View: Vanessa Williams, co-author of You Have No Idea: A Famous Daughter, Her No-nonsense Mother, and How They Survived Pageants, Hollywood, Love, Loss (and Each Other) (Gotham, $18, 9781592407590).

Also on the View: Daphne Oz, author of Relish: An Adventure in Food, Style, and Everyday Fun (Morrow, $27.50, 9780062196866).


Tomorrow on Tavis Smiley: Paul Anka, author of My Way: An Autobiography (St. Martin's Press, $29.99, 9780312381042).


Tomorrow on Access Hollywood: Nia Vardalos, author of Instant Mom (HarperOne, $26.99, 9780062231833).


Tomorrow night on the Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson: Philip Kerr, author of A Man Without Breath (Marian Wood/Putnam, $26.95, 9780399160790).

TV: Conquistadors; The Whale

FX is developing Conquistadors, adapted from Kim MacQuarrie's book The Last Days of the Incas, reported, adding that the project is being written by executive producer Nicholas Osborne.


The BBC has begun filming The Whale, a 90-minute drama "with a new perspective on Moby Dick," Page Views reported, noting that this version "will be told through the eyes of the youngest member aboard the Essex, 14-year-old Thomas Nickerson." Charles Furness will portray Nickerson and Jonas Armstrong will play first mate Owen Chase, "whose written account of the Essex's sinking is widely believed to have been the inspiration behind Melville's Moby Dick."

Books & Authors

Awards: Minnesota Book Awards

Winners of the 25th annual Minnesota Book Awards, a a project of the Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library, in consortium with the Saint Paul Public Library and the City of Saint Paul. This year's recipients are:
Children's literature: It’s a Tiger! by David LaRochelle (Chronicle)
General nonfiction: Rez Life: An Indian's Journey Through Reservation Life by David Treuer (Atlantic Monthly Press)
Genre fiction: Curse of the Jade Lily by David Housewright (Minotaur Books)
Memoir/creative nonfiction: Turn Here Sweet Corn: Organic Farming Works by Atina Diffley (University of Minnesota Press)
Minnesota nonfiction: Mni Sota Makoce: The Land of the Dakota by Gwen Westerman and Bruce White (Minnesota Historical Society Press)
Novel/short story: The Round House by Louise Erdrich (Harper)
Poetry: Odessa by Patricia Kirkpatrick (Milkweed Editions)
Young people's literature: Nothing Special by Geoff Herbach (Sourcebooks Fire)
Book Artist Award: Jana Pullman
Kay Sexton Award: Robert Hedin

IndieBound: Other Indie Favorites

From last week's Indie bestseller lists, available at, here are the recommended titles, which are also Indie Next Great Reads:

The Book of My Lives by Aleksander Hemon (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $25, 9780374115739). "Fans of Hemon's fiction will recognize some of the characters and places depicted in this collection of essays, as well as Hemon's distinctive wit and dark humor. From his mischievous childhood in Bosnia, the early hints of ethnic tensions, and the full-blown civil war that sent his family into exile, to his difficult adjustment to life in Chicago, his failed first marriage, his happy second one, and the devastating illness of his baby daughter, Hemon's essays are frank and powerful." --Laurie Greer, Politics & Prose Books and Coffee Shop, Washington, D.C.

Love Water Memory: A Novel by Jennie Shortridge (Gallery Books, $24.99, 9781451684834). "By the end of page one of Love Water Memory, readers will both care about Lucie and want to know why she is standing in frigid San Francisco Bay in an Armani suit. Shortridge's novel moves like a thriller, as, along with Lucie, we discover what led to her flight from her fiancé, Grady, and her high-powered career. In the hands of a less accomplished author, the plot could have become maudlin. Here, it's credible; Grady is loving but flawed and Lucie is not always likable, but they fight for understanding and happiness. Readers will be cheering for them all the way." --Cheryl Krocker McKeon, Book Passage, San Francisco, Calif.

Alif the Unseen: A Novel by G. Willow Wilson (Grove Press, $16, 9780802121226). "Alif is an Arab-Indian computer hacker who gets into deep trouble when he tries to erase himself from the web. His troubles only increase when he receives an ancient text--written by the mythological Jinn--that may be the key to unlocking a whole new way of programming. This smartly written, action-packed thriller is reminiscent of the early works of Neal Stephenson and William Gibson. Unpredictable to the very end--I could not put it down!" --James Wilson, Octavia Books, New Orleans, La.

For Ages 9 to 12
Destiny, Rewritten by Kathryn Fitzmaurice (Katherine Tegen Books, $16.99, 9780061625015). "Being named after a famous 19th-century poet sure puts pressure on a kid, especially when her mother is an English professor. Given that, Emily Elizabeth Davis wonders about destiny and fate. Can any of us really choose our own path, or do we follow a determined plan instead? Big questions are woven into this terrific story filled with likable and memorable characters. There is a frantic search for a missing book that keeps readers guessing and much more to keep them thinking, even after the final pages are turned." --Christopher Rose, Andover Bookstore, Andover, Mass.

[Many thanks to IndieBound and the ABA!]

Book Review

Review: The River of No Return

The River of No Return by Bee Ridgway (Dutton, $27.95 hardcover, 9780525953869, April 23, 2013)

Bryn Mawr English professor Bee Ridgway kicks off her career as a novelist with The River of No Return--a passionate, thought-provoking and consistently fun debut that's best described as a Regency romance wrapped in a spy novel covered in science fiction. Sound like overkill? We assure you, her formula works.

Wounded and dying on a Napoleonic battlefield, Marquess Nicholas Falcott accidentally leaps through time to the year 2003 and lands in the lap of luxury as a beneficiary of a shadow organization known as the Guild. In exchange for all the wealth and 21st-century amenities he could want, Nick must take an assumed name and agree never to return to his native England. While plenty of cash, a new life in Vermont as a cheesemaker and a string of dalliances may sound appealing, this easy lifestyle doesn't make up for the fact that Nick will never see his home, his family or the winsome, dark-eyed Julia ever again. The Guild swears time-jumpers cannot go back--until their need for his former identity forces them to reveal not only that Nick can go back to 1815, he must.

In 1815, Julia Percy's grandfather dies, leaving her at the mercy of her cruel, deranged cousin, the inheritor of her grandfather's earldom. Julia knew her grandfather somehow had the power to control time. Now her cousin insists she divulge secrets about her grandfather's ability and help him find "the Talisman." Although he grows ever more desperate and violent, Julia simply does not have the answers he seeks--until the Marquess of Falcott returns, seemingly from the dead, and turns her world upside-down.

The relationship between sexy, worldly Nick and beautiful, innocent Julia grows more electric by the page, but Ridgway's clever vision of time travel--and a hefty infusion of espionage--shatter the bodice-ripper mold. Her clear grasp of the history and culture of Regency England shines in every period detail and the portrayals of secondary characters whose personalities and reputations are formed and bound by the society of that time.

While some plot elements wrap up neatly, questions about time travel and the future of the very universe loom unresolved in the story's conclusion. Readers might find themselves wishing time travel were truly possible, if only so they could leap ahead and read the sequel immediately. --Jaclyn Fulwood

Shelf Talker: In this genre-bending romance, Regency lovers Nick and Julia must cope with time travel and the machinations of a shadowy organization known as the Guild.

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