Shelf Awareness for Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Harper: Sorrow and Bliss by Meg Mason

St. Martin's Press: Just Work: Get Sh*t Done, Fast & Fair by Kim Scott

Haymarket Books: We Still Here: Pandemic, Policing, Protest and Possibility by Marc Lamont Hill, edited by Frank Barat

Shadow Mountain: Miracle Creek Christmas by Krista Jensen

Graydon House: The Chanel Sisters by Judithe Little

Grand Central Publishing: What's Mine and Yours by Naima Coster


Legato Publishers Group to Continue, Headed by Mark Suchomel

Legato Publishers Group, whose future had been put into question during the period when Ingram was going to buy Perseus Books Group's distribution operations, will continue as a separate client services division and as an affiliate of PGW, David Steinberger, president and CEO of Perseus, announced yesterday.

Mark Suchomel

Mark Suchomel will continue as the president of Legato and Jeff Tegge continues as v-p for sales.

Before the sale closed--and ultimately collapsed--Ingram had told Legato publishers that it planned to fold Legato into PGW and that Suchomel would not make the move.

"Mark and Jeff have delivered on their promise, not only to our company, but to our clients," Steinberger wrote to Perseus employees. "Over the past year we have built a successful business comprised of 24 outstanding independent publishers under the Legato brand. This is thanks to the hard work and dedication of both the Legato and PGW teams, as well as the Perseus sales force and many other Perseus employees. This success was highlighted in many recent conversations that we have had with our Legato clients and Perseus employees. Going forward, we will continue to explore and expand ways in which PGW and Legato can partner with each other to provide the best possible service to our Legato clients."

Steinberger added, "I want to thank both Mark Suchomel and [PGW president] Susan Reich for their leadership over the past year and in recent weeks. I also want to thank our clients for their insightful feedback, ideas and suggestions and for their spirit of partnership. I look forward to continued success for our clients and our company this year and beyond."

Suchomel commented: "I am grateful for the huge amount of support Legato received from the client publishers and for the confidence of the senior management at Perseus, most notably David Steinberger. We are happy to be able to turn our focus toward continued growth for our publishers and, together with PGW, build on the great results we have already achieved in such a short amount of time."

University of California Press: Epic Books Make Epic Gifts

Norwich Bookstore Celebrating 20th with Expansion

Celebrating its 20th year in business, the Norwich Bookstore, Norwich, Vt., showed it is still thriving, with the announcement of an expansion throughout the rest of the ground floor at its Main Street location. With the added space, the bookstore will have more room for book and merchandise displays as well as author events.  

Co-owner Penny McConnel said people have been the key to Norwich Bookstore's longevity: "We're selling books, but it's all about the people. Making connections with customers, whether it's a chat about a book or an inquiry concerning a family member, is what keeps customers coming back."

Booksellers are another key ingredient, according to co-owner Liza Bernard, who said customers regularly ask the staff, who are all voracious readers, for personal recommendations, and the booksellers discover those books that might not get reviewers' attention, but are literary gold.

Adaptability has also been critical to the bookshop's success. "You have to reinvent yourself every day, and we do that," McConnel noted. Bernard agreed: "We can be more nimble than a chain and we're in tune with our community."

The store will celebrate its birthday and expansion Saturday, September 20, as part of the community's annual Fall Fest in Norwich Square.

ECW Press: Van Halen Rising: How a Southern California Backyard Party Band Saved Heavy Metal by Greg Renoff

Mark Thwaite Joins Foyles as Head of Online

ReadySteadyBook founder Mark Thwaite has joined Foyles as head of online, with the responsibility of improving the company's "online offer, improving customer service, and increasing revenue," the Bookseller reported. He will work with Web editor Jonathan Ruppin.

Thwaite, who started his career at in the week of its launch in 1998, has been head of online at Quercus Books and a non-executive director with the poetry publisher Carcanet Press.

"Mark has unparalleled experience and an outstanding reputation in online book retail, so we couldn't have found a better person for the job," said Foyles CEO Sam Husain.

Thwaite noted that he is "tasked with making as good a book buying experience as the Foyles' customer deserves. It's a great website already but we have exciting plans to improve the customer experience and curate our selection in a much more attractive manner."

House of Anansi Press: Ridgerunner by Gil Adamson

U.K.'s GMB Union Calls for Removal of Amazon Lockers

The U.K.'s GMB union has called on Co-operative members "to help oust Amazon lockers from the mutual's grocery stores," the Guardian reported, noting that the union, which has been waging a campaign regarding labor conditions in Amazon's British warehouses, has "already raised the issue with the Co-op's chief executive Richard Pennycook and was now calling on members to throw out a 'cuckoo in the ethical nest.' " Amazon is putting lockers in 160 Co-op stores.

New World Library to Harness the Power of Eckhart Tolle

Eckhart Tolle

Eckhart Tolle, author of the classic The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment, is launching a new imprint with New World Library called Eckhart Tolle Editions. Tolle will work to identify and develop titles for the line, most of them written by other teachers and authors he has encountered over the last two decades of teaching. He will write a foreword for each title in the imprint and use his social media presence--more than 1.2 million Facebook fans, 345,000 Twitter followers and 120,000 YouTube subscribers--to promote them.

The new imprint's first two titles are Parenting with Presence by Susan Stiffelman and The Calm Center: Spiritual Reflections and Meditations by Steve Taylor, both of which will appear next spring.

"New World Library publisher Marc Allen told me he only publishes what he loves," Tolle said. "I told him that there were a lot of little-known works, both old and new, that I love--and the idea of an imprint was born, a chance to publish anything that I find inspiring and worthwhile."

New World Library is distributed by PGW.

Amazon Warehouses: Fifth for Calif.; Moving in Nev.

Amazon plans to open a fifth California fulfillment center, in Redlands. The 700,000-square-foot facility will join the company's other locations in San Bernardino, Moreno Valley, Patterson and Tracy.

Mike Roth, Amazon's v-p of North America operations, said, "We have found great talent in the state and we're excited to be growing quickly to serve our customers."

"My Council colleagues and I are very excited that Amazon has chosen the City of Redlands to locate their new fulfillment center. And we are looking forward to the hundreds of new local jobs it will create," said Redlands Mayor Pete Aguilar.


In Nevada, Amazon is relocating its warehouse from Fernley "to an industrial park north of Reno next year, a move that will shift hundreds of jobs from Lyon to Washoe County," the Associated Press (via the Las Vegas Review-Journal) reported. The Fernley location opened in 1999 and employs 600 to 900 employees year-round and as many as 4,000 during the holiday season.

Amazon spokeswoman Ashley Robinson said all employees will be offered the chance to transfer: "Amazon remains committed to its fulfillment center employees in Northern Nevada. We are excited for the investment we're making in this new building to fulfill customer orders."

Rob Hooper of the Northern Nevada Development Authority called the move "a huge blow" to Fernley, but said he's excited Amazon will be staying in northern Nevada: "It will provide many new opportunities."

Massachusetts Bookstore Field Trip, Part 5

Earlier this summer, Shelf Awareness editor-in-chief John Mutter went on a whirlwind bookstore tour in Massachusetts with New England Independent Booksellers Association executive director Steve Fischer. (See part one, part two, part three and part four.)

Located on a leafy section of Route 6A on Cape Cod, Titcomb's Bookshop in East Sandwich in some ways stood in contrast to most of the other stores Steve and I visited: it has been owned by the Titcomb family since it was founded in 1969 and is in the same location, which has been little changed since 1989, when two of the eight Titcomb children--Paul and Ted--"built all but the foundation" of the bookstore wing, said Vicki Titcomb, Paul and Ted's sister and now manager of the store.

Still, the store has changed over time. In the beginning, it specialized in used and rare titles but now sells new books as well. In an indication of their relative importance, new books are on main floor while used are in the barn-like upstairs. Toys, which are in the basement, represent 25% of the business. Children's is also a strong category.

When Steve and I stopped in, the store was bustling, and the family emphasis was obvious. Ralph and Nancy Titcomb, who founded the store, were there, working along with Vicki and one of her nieces. Including Vicki's grandmother, Edna Ericksen, who worked at Titcomb's into her 90s, four generations of the family have been involved in the store.

Customers who might as well have been family lingered, and the main floor had more the feel of a country general store than a bookstore. Even from the road, the store oozes cozy and family: the store is a wing of a comfortable older home that was built in 1790. There's also the welcoming--and famous--"iron man," a full-sized sculpture created in 1974 by Ted Titcomb, one of Vicki's brothers, while in college. The colonial figure is repainted every other year and is a landmark on Route 6A. (When "Ben" was run over by a motorist in 2010, Ted repaired him, much to the relief of locals.) It's also where the store takes pictures of visiting authors.

Titcomb's offers plenty of events, some of which are held at the Sandwich Public Library, with which the store sponsors Sandwich Reads Together. Titcomb's also has done some unusual promotions. This summer, for example, the store is "the sole source of signed Lemony Snicket books." The titles included are The Dark, File Under: 13 Suspicious Events and, from his All the Wrong Questions series, Who Could That Be at This Hour? and When Did You See Her Last? In addition, signed copies of Shouldn't You Be in School?, which will be published in September, are available for preordering. (All the titles are from Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, a Hachette imprint.) Readers can order signature-only or personally inscribed books from the bookshop or its website for later pick-up or delivery.

Lemony Snicket, aka Daniel Handler, who is spending much of the summer on Cape Cod, explained: "At a time when certain corporate booksellers are locking horns and wounding authors, it is swell to align myself this summer with Titcomb's, who have always been nice when I stop by unexpectedly, demand obscure poetry volumes, and use the bathroom without asking."

Vicky Titcomb commented: "We were thrilled to hear that Mr. Snicket made this offer to sign books while he is here on Cape Cod and we are very grateful for this opportunity.  We also understand that he will be serving margaritas when we visit him with books to be signed, so everyone on staff is most anxious to help out." She noted that the store is "proud to offer Hachette books. If they aren't in stock now, we can usually have them in just a few days."


Our next stop, Eight Cousins Bookstore, in Falmouth, also on Cape Cod, is, like Titcomb's Bookshop, well-known for a metal sculpture in front of the store. In Eight Cousins' case, it's an oversized bronze chair, called the Alphabet Chair or Alphabet Throne, which was installed in 2003. It's big enough, said longtime owner Carol Chittenden, that "an adult feels a little childlike in it and a parent and child can read in it." The chair has become a favorite place for photo ops with visiting authors.

Unlike Titcomb's--and more like the other stores we visited--Eight Cousins is making a major change. Carol, who founded Eight Cousins in 1986 with her mother, Betty Borg, has sold the store, effective this coming January, to three local women: Sara M. Hines, who manages the store's digital media, programming and on-site events; Mary Fran Buckley, who has worked at the store in a variety of areas, including finance, book clubs and adult fiction buying; and Eileen Miskell, who has a background in business management and serves on the board of Independent Bank, parent of Rockland Trust, and the Cape Cod Foundation. She is also co-owner, with her husband, of Wood Lumber Company in Falmouth.

Carol, who is as enthusiastic and full of energy as ever, proudly showed us around Eight Cousin's location on Main Street, where the store has been located for 22 years. The biggest change for her came after the closing in recent years of several general indies in the Falmouth area: once a children's-only store, Eight Cousins has added a full range of adult titles, many of which are in the front of the store.

The addition of adult titles has given the store the feeling of life aboard a ship, with books tucked into every corner. A one-time closet was made into a gift wrapping "kiosk," and dumps have been added to some of the aisles. "We're constantly scheming for ways to get more space," Carol said.

The store sells "tons of cards," and when we had arrived, it had begun emphasizing summer reading, in this case with a "mysteries light and dark" display and a summer-themed window display. "This is very, very important," Carol said.

It's hard to imagine Carol slowing down. She's been a dynamo and made a big impression on the industry. She's a co-founder of the New England Children's Booksellers Advisory Council, part of the New England Independent Booksellers Association, and her store has won many accolades. In 2002, Eight Cousins won the Women's National Book Association's Pannell Award, and in 2009 and 2014, Eight Cousins was cited by Yankee magazine as the Best Children's Bookstore in New England.

Still, Carol says that after she hands over the keys to the new owners at the end of the year, she plans to take January and February off. "I've always said I wanted to cut back to 35-40 hours a week from the 70 I've always done," she said, adding that although she's sad to give up the store, she's happy about the new owners. "It's like my baby has grown up and is going off to the best college," she said.

Carol, we'll miss you.


Image of the Day: Diversity and Prayer

Celeste Yacoboni is joined by Dr. Reverend Michael Beckwith, spiritual leader of the Agape International Spiritual Center in Culver City, Calif. Yacoboni is the creator and editor of How Do You Pray? Inspiring Responses from Religious Leaders, Spiritual Guides, Healers, Activists and Other Lovers of Humanity (Monkfish Book Publishing), which features 129 essays from leaders of diverse spiritual and religious traditions ranging from Buddhism to Islam to Christianity, as well as those who do not claim one or any particular walk of faith.

Understanding Racism: Left Bank Books Lists Titles

Located only a few miles from Ferguson, Mo., which has been engulfed in turmoil since the shooting of Michael Brown 10 days ago, Left Bank Books, St. Louis, has started compiling a list of books as well as a list of poems, articles and blog posts that "explore race, not only in St. Louis, but America as a whole."

The store commented: "We are a community bookstore that supports and loves our entire community, and we rely on our customers, friends and neighbors to keep this message of compassion strong. Please send your recommendations to or tweet them to @leftbankbooks, tagged #fergusonreads.

"Please buy these books locally or check them out at one of our local libraries. Keep our community strong."

Louise Erdrich Wins Dayton Literary Peace Prize

photo: Paul Emmel

Congratulations to Louise Erdrich, acclaimed author and owner of Birchbark Books & Native Arts, Minneapolis, Minn., for being named winner of Dayton Literary Peace Prize's Richard C. Holbrooke Distinguished Achievement Award. The Associated Press noted that the Dayton prizes "are meant to recognize literature's power to foster peace, social justice and global understanding, and the distinguished achievement award is given for body of work." She will receive the award November 9 in Dayton.

In a statement, Erdrich said she does not consider herself a "peaceful" writer, but "a troubled one, longing for peace."

Sharon Rab, founder and co-chairwoman of the Dayton Literary Peace Prize Foundation, said Erdrich's writings "show the United States shares a history of violence, discrimination and neglect with other countries clashing over culture, religion and ancient territorial claims," the AP wrote.

"Her work reminds us that we are not observers but participants in the national history of the ownership of land and the taking of territory," Rab added.

Erdrich observed that the prize "sends a strong political signal, more crucial than ever at this historical moment when we are seeing, day by day, the horrific violence children suffer in war."

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Dr. Sandeep Jauhar on Fresh Air

Today on Fresh Air: Dr. Sandeep Jauhar, author of Doctored: The Disillusionment of an American Physician (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $26, 9780374141394).


Tomorrow on Live with Kelly and Michael: "Science Bob" Pflugfelder, co-author of Nick and Tesla's Secret Agent Gadget Battle (Quirk Books, $12.95, 9781594746765).

TV: No Ordinary Time

Fox has put in development Doris Kearns Goodwin's Pulitzer Prize-winning book No Ordinary Time: Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt--The Home Front in World War II. reported that the 10-hour limited series will be directed by Stephen Frears (The Queen) and written by Paul Webb (Selma).

One of the executive producers is Hannah Pakula, widow of filmmaker Alan J. Pakula, who was working on a film adaptation of Goodwin's 1995 book when he was killed in a car accident in 1998. "It was nearly two decades ago that Alan Pakula acquired the rights to No Ordinary Time, shortly after the book was published, and it was the last project he was working on before his untimely death," Goodwin said. "He loved this project--this era, the people, the drama--as do I, and I am so glad that it will now be brought to life through his wife Hannah Pakula and this remarkable circle of talented people."

Books & Authors

Awards: Children's Book Council of Australia; Taste Canada

The winners of this year's Children's Book Council of Australia Book of the Year Awards "include a crowd-pleasing mix of established authors and newer names, and subject matter ranging from fantastical child-eating monsters in Victorian England to a simple factual insight into kookaburras. They're books likely to engage readers without sparking controversy or discord," the Sydney Morning Herald reported. Find a complete list of CBCA award winners and honor books here.


The shortlists for Taste Canada--The Food Writing Awards have been released, Quillblog reported. The winners will be named October 20 in Toronto.

Book Review

Review: The Children Act

The Children Act by Ian McEwan (Nan A. Talese/Doubleday, $25 hardcover, 9780385539708, September 9, 2014)

The title of Booker Award-winning author Ian McEwan's The Children Act refers to the 1989 British law providing for government intervention in situations where parental ability or conviction threaten to harm a child. It is a rich premise for a novel that wants to raise profound moral questions, and McEwan (Atonement) uses it to frame a character-driven story about the consequences of unspoken intentions--reminiscent of his novel On Chesil Beach.

At 59, Fiona May is at the height of her career. She's a highly respected judge specializing in family law, known for her sensitive and intelligent verdicts in cases complicated by religion. She is famous for a ruling in favor of separating conjoined infants who would otherwise both have died to ensure one would survive, against the wishes of the parents and the Catholic Church. Her decision haunts her despite the resulting acclaim. She has just seen the case of Adam, a lovely and gifted teenaged Jehovah's Witness, just shy of legal adulthood, who is dying of leukemia. For reasons of faith, Adam and his parents refuse the blood transfusions needed to save his life. Can Fiona overrule a boy's choice, which is based on his sincere belief? Can a teenager know what he really wants? Burdened by her own regrets, especially about her childlessness, she has withdrawn into the details of the case when her husband, Jack, shocks her with his threat to embark on an affair in reaction to their sterile marriage.

The story of Fiona's personal emergency intertwines with that of her pursuit of a just and humane legal decision. In crisis, she visits the hospitalized Adam to assess the clarity of his wishes. She mulls over the legal questions. She second-guesses her own reactions as she becomes emotionally involved in the case. She's drawn to Adam but unsettled by her reaction as he becomes increasingly devoted to her. Betrayed and angry with Jack, she changes the locks on her apartment and then criticizes herself for doing so.

The novel follows Fiona's reactions to her shifting world, punctuated by the emotions she cannot allow herself to express. The scenes between Fiona and Alex are especially affecting. They propel the story through the contrasting philosophical sections, which are marked by an intellectual detachment and address the sometimes tragic consequences of genuine religious beliefs and the morality of government intervention. McEwan seems less interested in exactly how Fiona will decide her case or whether her marriage will survive; instead, The Children Act derives its power from the character's infinitely varied and intimately observed emotional responses--encompassing anger, grief, hope, joy and fear--to love offered or withdrawn. --Jeanette Zwart, freelance writer and reviewer

Shelf Talker: A High Court judge responds to her husband's infidelity while considering a challenging legal case involving a teenaged boy who refuses medical treatment on religious grounds.

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