Also published on this date: Wednesday, January 7, 2015: Maximum Shelf: I Am Radar

Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Basic Books: What We Owe the Future by William Macaskill

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

Berkley Books: Pride and Protest by Nikki Payne; A Dash of Salt and Pepper by Kosoko Jackson; Astrid Parker Doesn't Fail by Ashley Herring Blake

Soho Crime: Cruz by Nicolás Ferraro, translated by Mallory N. Craig-Kuhn

Ace Books: Station Eternity (The Midsolar Murders) by Mur Lafferty


Mobile Booksellers Pop-Up in Berkeley & Austin

Perhaps it's a trend. Taking their books on the road, booksellers in Berkeley, Calif., and Austin, Tex., have chosen the mobile bookselling route.

Owner Gina Davidson is closing Bookish Bookstore in Berkeley, but plans to transform her business into a mobile bookshop specializing in pop-up events. Berkeleyside reported that Davidson "said the neighborhood was challenging. She tended to get 'coincidental' shoppers--those who were on the way to get pizza and stumbled on the store."

The idea to go mobile occurred to her in October when she had a successful pop-up store at Uncharted: The Berkeley Festival of Ideas. "Doing a pop-up event made me realize I was in the wrong location to make sales," she said.

In Austin, Sukyi and Patrick McMahon took advantage of a new mobile retailing ordinance passed by the city council last summer to open Fifth Dimension Books, "a science-fiction focused bookstore in a bus that is parked most of the time at 43rd and Duval streets in the Hyde Park neighborhood," the Business Journal reported.

"We're getting in on the ground floor, so we are going to mind all the rules and set a good example," said Sukyi McMahon. She and her husband found their 1987 vintage bookmobile on Craigslist. "We got it for $6,000. We had it shipped down here. It's such a hoot. People remember bookmobiles. Everyone has been so supportive. This hasn't been as daunting as I expected."

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

IDW Publishing Acquires Top Shelf Productions

IDW Publishing has acquired Top Shelf Productions, the independent publisher of graphic novels whose list includes March by Congressman John Lewis, Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell, Alan Moore's League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (with Kevin O'Neill) and From Hell (with Eddie Campbell).

Top Shelf will remain a distinct imprint within IDW, and co-founder Chris Staros will join the company as editor-in-chief, Top Shelf Productions. His business partner, Brett Warnock, is retiring from the world of comics to explore business opportunities through his newly launched food and nature blog. Leigh Walton will continue as Top Shelf's publicist and marketing director, Chris Ross as lead designer and digital director and Zac Boone as warehouse manager.

"The acquisition of Top Shelf is a milestone for IDW," said company CEO Ted Adams. "We looked a very long time for a company that would complement our own publishing line-up, and in Top Shelf we found the ideal match. The addition of Top Shelf's library further positions IDW's leadership role among the top powerhouses in comics.”

Staros commented: "Top Shelf and IDW complement each other perfectly. We both started around the same time, and when I would watch IDW over the years, as a fellow publisher, I'd see them making smart move after smart move. Now I'm extremely excited to combine their talents and resources with Top Shelf's award-winning literary approach to comics."

GLOW: Drawn & Quarterly: Ducks: Two Years in the Oil Sands by Kate Beaton

Kampmann Buys Spencer Hill Press

Spencer Hill Press, Contoocook, N.H., has been acquired by Kampmann & Company, the owners of Beaufort Books. Founded in 2010 to publish speculative fiction for YA readers by new authors, the press has expanded to include adult, new adult and middle grade fiction.

With the sale founder Kate Kaynak is stepping down as managing editor but will continue as an editor. Jessica Porteous is becoming the new managing editor; she has been an editor with Spencer Hill since 2012.

Spencer Hill plans to publish some 36 titles this year, including the launch of a new series by star author Jennifer L. Armentrout. Spencer Hill will continue to be distributed by Midpoint Trade Books. 

Blackstone Publishing: Beasts of the Earth by James Wade

Nonprofit Is Prospective Buyer of Aspen's Explore Booksellers

The Public Interest Network, "a consortium of national nonprofit organizations that fight for environmental, social justice and consumer protection causes," is the prospective buyer of Explore Booksellers in Aspen, Colo., the Aspen Times reported. The group recently offered $5 million for the business, prompting the buyer who was under contract to purchase Explore for $4.6 million to withdraw his offer. The proposed deal must be approved by a judge in the Texas bankruptcy case of Samuel Wyly. If approved, the sale is scheduled to close January 16.

Noting that the "story of Public Interest Network's possible purchase of the Aspen bookstore reads almost like a fairy tale," the Times wrote that "staff members of the groups within the network have visited Aspen to ski the week prior to Christmas week since 1984.... One constant characteristic over the 30 years has been the attendees' affinity for Explore and its bistro."

"We're always looking for things that are benign or positive to invest in," said board chairman Doug Phelps, adding that the survival of an independent bookstore is consistent with the organization's core mission, which is to share ideas that benefit humans. "Books and ideas are about as subversive as it gets."

Ingram COO Shawn Morin Named President, Too

Shawn Morin

Shawn Morin, who has been chief operating officer of Ingram Content Group since 2012, is now also president of the company, effective immediately.

Morin joined Ingram in 2009 as the chief information officer. Before that, he was CIO and v-p of information technology at Bass Pro Shops.  Earlier in his career, he was the lead engineer on the on-board flight software for NASA's Space Shuttle program.

"Shawn Morin has provided great leadership for our team at Ingram, especially over the past two years," CEO John Ingram said. "As much as we're a distribution business, we're also a technology business. Shawn is a businessman who is very knowledgeable and fluent in technology, which enables everything we do."

Morin said: "There could not be a more dynamic and exciting time to serve the book industry. Publishers, booksellers, libraries and schools have such important missions, and they face new challenges daily with the pace of technological change. I am proud of the job we do to assist them."

Waterstones to 'Open at Least a Dozen Stores in 2015'

Citing a 5% gain in physical book sales in December "as the company reaped the benefits of its store refurbishment program and a relinquishing of control to local store managers who could respond to the tastes of local communities," Waterstones' CEO James Daunt said the U.K. bookstore chain plans to open at least a dozen stores in 2015, the Financial Times reported.

Obituary Notes: Tomaž Šalamun; Penny Dann

Slovenian poet Tomaž Šalamun died December 27. He was 73. In a tribute, Christopher Merrill, who edited The Four Questions of Melancholy: New and Selected Poems of Tomaž Šalamun, wrote that the poet "was in fact a gift from the gods, a soft-spoken man blessed with the gentlest soul, and this gift, his poems, will keep on giving for a very long time. They will survive."


British children's book illustrator Penny Dann, whose work was featured in anthologies, early readers, fairytales, poetry collections and, most recently, in Peter Bently's Polly Parrot Picks a Pirate, died December 20, the Bookseller reported. She was 50.


Watermark's Sarah Bagby: 'Books Are an Intimate Product'

Sarah Bagby

"Books are an intimate product and people like to talk about what they read. There are also many people who want to experience the serendipity of discovery in a bricks and mortar store," Sarah Bagby, owner of Watermark Books and Café, told Wichita magazine in a "Person of Interest" feature.

Watermark continues to thrive, and Bagby "credits her staff along with experience and partnerships that she has cultivated over 25 years in the community. In a world of electronics, she says her success centers on keeping innovation and discipline as a part of her business model," Wichita wrote.

"Watermark Books and Café is a locally owned store that offers value to the community of Wichita and the state of Kansas," said Bagby. "Our relationships with partners in Wichita and the publishing community allow us to contribute to a robust literary culture in Wichita and beyond.... We are serious about our business and have to make sure we can keep expenses at a reasonable level and be able to sell books at a price that readers are willing to pay. We're in this business to contribute to local culture and promote something of value to all."

Bagby also recommended that women in the business world find a strong female mentor: "I have learned a lot from many women older than me with great ambition simply by soaking up advice they've given. To have someone to call on the phone for advice or just to talk is an important thing for all successful women."

Lexington's Wild Fig Bookstore: Burglary & Local Support

Two days after Christmas, thieves broke into the Wild Fig Bookstore, Lexington, Ken., stealing money and books from a business that "was already struggling to stay open," WTVQ reported.

"Our immediate thought was that we will have to close down to try and recover," said Ron Davis, who has owned the bookstore for four years. "I lack the words to be able to express the anger and shock I felt at first. This is our livelihood, this is what we do.... I was in tears when I came through."

But his neighbors have responded. "Surrounding businesses have joined together to help, including the Lexington Diner, which will donate a percentage of its sales to the bookstore," WTVQ noted.

Dudley's Bookshop Cafe in Bend, Ore., Reconfigures

"New literary fiction is the new star" at Dudley's BookShop Café, Bend, Ore., which has undergone some significant changes since Tom Beans became Rebecca Singer's business partner at the store that had previously focused on used books. The Bulletin reported that in the months since Beans came on board, "the little store has undergone a technical and philosophical reconfiguration."

"I was pretty much burned out till he came in," Singer said. "My get-up-and-go got up and went.... We needed somebody with real expertise."

"We're definitely not trying to be a general bookstore," said Beans, who ran a bookstore in California during the 1990s. Since Dudley's began ordering new books November 20, sales have jumped 300%.

"Sales of books over Christmas has been incredible," Singer noted. "We have a lot of competition, but no other coffee shops have books."

Personnel Changes at Other Press

At Other Press, Charlotte Kelly has been promoted to publicist. She was previously an associate publicist.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Patton Oswalt on Late Night with Seth Meyers

Tomorrow on Bloomberg Radio's Taking Stock: Nicholas Carlson, author of Marissa Mayer and the Fight to Save Yahoo! (Twelve, $30, 9781455556618).


Tomorrow night on Late Night with Seth Meyers: Patton Oswalt, author of Silver Screen Fiend: Learning About Life from an Addiction to Film (Scribner, $25, 9781451673210).

TV: Game of Thrones on IMAX

Game of Thrones "will invade movie theaters later this month on the big, big screen," the New York Times reported. The hit HBO program, based on George R.R. Martin's novels, will be the first TV series to appear on IMAX screens when it features an exclusive trailer for the upcoming fifth season along with the final two episodes of season four in 150 IMAX theaters nationwide January 23 to 29.

Books & Authors

Book Brahmin: Daniel José Older

photo: Kevin Kane

Daniel José Older has published a collection of short stories (Salsa Nocturna) and coedited an anthology of speculative fiction (Long Hidden). His first novel, Half-Resurrection Blues (Roc, January 6, 2015), begins an urban fantasy series, and Arthur A. Levine Books will publish his first YA novel, Shadowshaper, later this year. Read Older's thoughts on writing and dispatches from his decade-long career as a New York City paramedic and hear his music at

On your nightstand now:

I'm about to finish Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward. It's utterly divine, brutal, intimate, poetic, honest. I'm also reading Recurrence Plot (and Other Time Travel Tales) by Rasheedah Phillips, a haunting afrofuturist time-travel parable, and Up Jump the Boogie by John Murillo, because I always keep a book of poetry nearby, and John is a genius.

Favorite book when you were a child:

The first book I ever loved was Hippos Go Berserk! by Sandra Boynton. That's when I was tiny. Later on, it was Homer's Iliad and All The President's Men by Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein. Looking back, I think what got me was the messiness of these powerful beings. Both books reveal the deeply flawed, complicated humanity of gods and politicians, all in the midst of amazing storytelling. My mom used to take me to the public library to look at those old microfiche newspapers from the Watergate era, and her stories about that time made history come to life.

Your top five authors:

Junot Díaz made voice and narrative flow make sense to me in a whole new way. Octavia Butler transformed how literature of the fantastic talks about power and history, all the while telling amazing, engaging stories. I love Shakespeare for intricate plots, incredible characters and a balance of humor, depth and sorrow. James Baldwin made truth-telling an art form. And I love Arundhati Roy both for her novel The God of Small Things and her unflinching essays.

Book you've faked reading:

I had to read Tolstoy's Anna Karenina for school, and then I lost my Kindle so I was reading on the phone app. Whenever they started debating agriculture reform, I just skipped ahead until something actually happened.

Book you're an evangelist for:

Story by Robert McKee is simply one of the most brilliant and useful guides to writing I've ever read. It's for scriptwriters, but everything applies across the board. He gets into nitty-gritty mechanics and big-picture thematic questions. I tell everyone who wants to be a writer to read it.

Book you've bought for the cover:

Max Gladstone's Three Parts Dead: that surly, unimpressed glower beneath that fantastic 'fro; the shimmering tattooed arm with the shimmering blade; the rugged, gas-lit world around her that seems both very old and very new.

Book that changed your life:

Six Easy Pieces by Walter Mosley. I drank it during a single, breathless night. Mosley's cool flow and ease with language made me realize I could find a home in genre fiction. These interconnected shorts reminded me that it's possible to say something meaningful about the world and still tell a great story. Here, the mystery becomes about something much more than just solving the crime, it's about interrelated emotional arcs, community, survival.

Favorite line from a book:

"Ojalá podamos crear un lenguaje entrador y... hermoso... para saludar al crepúsculo." ("God willing, we can create a language brave and beautiful enough to greet the new dawn.") --Eduardo Galeano

Which character you most relate to:

Kirpal (Kip) Singh, the sapper from Michael Ondaatje's The English Patient, came to life in my mind in a way few characters do. The book guides us through his ever-complicated relationship to living in two worlds--deepening dimensions of love, discomfort, community, rage, identity--and meanwhile he's defusing bombs. I read it when I was a brand-new paramedic, learning the streets of New York and learning about myself at the same time.

Book you most want to read again for the first time:

Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson utterly blew my mind when I first read it. I must've been 12 or so. I was in Puerto Rico with my family, and I remember the experience of finishing it so clearly. It was so dynamic and clear in my mind: I just wanted to run--a completely physical reaction [to] words on a page.

Books that made you want to become a writer:

In my mid-20s, I read Junot Díaz's The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, Walter Mosley's Six Easy Pieces and Stephen King's On Writing. Those three books, plus the collective ferocity of Octavia Butler's entire bibliography, meant I pretty much had to write. It didn't even feel like a choice. Suddenly, the stories were there, waiting--demanding--to be told. And who was I to deny them?

B&N's Discover Great New Writers: The Spring 2015 List

Celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, Barnes & Noble's Discover Great New Writers program has set its Spring 2015 list, which consists of 18 titles. The selection committee is comprised of B&N booksellers who the company called "voracious readers who meet weekly throughout the year to look for compelling voices, extraordinary writing, and indelible stories from literary talents at the start of their careers."

Each of the spring titles will receive at least 12 weeks of promotion in stores, online and on Nook devices, beginning with the book's pub date. The 60 or so books chosen for the program during the year are eligible for the annual Discover Awards, which give $35,000 to six winners whose books will receive an additional year of promotion in stores, online and on Nook devices.

The spring 2015 list in order of pub date:

Vanessa and Her Sister by Priya Parmar (Ballantine, December 30). "Our favorite winter survival strategy: Curling up in a chair with a richly atmospheric historical novel like The Paris Wife, The Postmistress, Loving Frank--or Vanessa and Her Sister. This stunning novel artfully evokes the Bloomsbury era and explores Virginia Woolf's troubled family relations."
God Loves Haiti by Dimitry Elias Léger (Amistad, January 6). "This mesmerizing novel traces the fates of three lovers against the backdrop of the 2010 earthquake that devastated Haiti. Dimitry Elias Léger's incandescent prose and compelling characters remind us of Junot Diaz's tragicomic Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao.
Tesla: A Portrait with Masks by Vladimir Pistalo, translated by Bogdan Rakic and John Jeffries (Graywolf, January 6). "Capturing genius on the page demands a deft hand and an eye for telling detail. In his first novel published in the United States, an acclaimed Serbian writer recaptures the torments and triumphs of 'mad-genius' inventor Nikola Tesla and the advent of the electrical age."
Where the Dead Pause and the Japanese Say Goodbye by Marie Mutsuki Mockett (Norton, January 6). "Like Sonali Deraniyagala's indelible Wave or Will Schwalbe's The End of Your Life Book Club, Marie Mutsuki Mockett's unforgettable memoir is a marvelously unpretentious and compassionate look at the many different ways people grieve--and the myriad ways we survive it."
The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins (Riverhead, January 13). "There is a pile of clothing on the side of the train tracks. We’re still talking about the multiple unreliable narrators, cinematic pacing, and subtle twists of this electrifying psychological thriller that reminds us of Gone Girl."
Etta and Otto and Russell and James by Emma Hooper (Simon & Schuster, January 20). " 'I've gone. I've never seen the water, so I've gone there. Don't worry. I've left you the truck. I can walk. I will try to remember to come back.' This beautifully written novel of discovery--and rediscovery--begins when an elderly woman leaves home on a great adventure that reminds us of The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry."
Ghettoside: A Story of Murder in America by Jill Leovy (Spiegel & Grau, January 27). "Great narratives like Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katharine Boo, Five Days at Memorial by Sheri Fink, A Civil Action by Jonathan Harr, and Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand took our breath away the first time we read them. We felt the same way reading Jill Leovy's debut--a steely examination of American society that chronicles the commission, investigation, and aftermath of a single murder."
A Bad Character by Deepti Kapoor (Knopf, January 30). "Eerie and menacing, melancholy and provocative--evoking Marguerite Duras's modern classic The Lover--this debut pulls the readers into the dark depths of New Delhi and into the life of a rebellious and fragile young woman."
How to Be a Heroine: Or, What I've Learned from Reading Too Much by Samantha Ellis (Vintage, February 3). "In this stimulating 'biblio-memoir,' a compulsive reader reevaluates her worldview in light of the characters, books and writers she first encountered in her youth--from the March sisters of Little Women, Frances Hodgson Burnett's The Secret Garden, and Anne of Green Gables to Jane Austen, Charlotte Brontë and Sylvia Plath."
It's What I Do: A Photographer's Life of Love and War by Lynsey Addario (Penguin Press, February 9). "Lynsey Addario is a war photographer first and foremost--one who's a wildly talented writer as well. In her memoir she not only captures the immediacy and terror of combat and its aftermath, but also puts international conflicts into a greater global context."
Bettyville: A Memoir by George Hodgman (Viking, March 10). "More and more of us face caring for elderly parents, but only a rare few could tell this story with the aplomb and honesty of George Hodgman. A trenchant, elegant, insightful--and often very funny--memoir from a middle-aged ex-New Yorker caring for his elderly mother in their small Missouri hometown."

Rust: The Longest War by Jonathan Waldman (Simon & Schuster, March 10). "Death. Taxes. Rust. Certainties all. But maybe, just maybe, we might have the upper hand with--or at the very least, a better understanding of--the scourge that costs Americans $400 billion a year now that we have Jonathan Waldman's freewheeling, footloose quirky tour of the continuing fight against rust."
What Stands in a Storm: Three Days in the Worst Superstorm to Hit the South's Tornado Alley by Kim Cross (Atria, March 10). "The tornado event that hit Alabama's Tornado Alley on April 27, 2011, was something almost otherworldly. Kim Cross recreates one of the great tragedies to his the Southern United States, and her dramatic storytelling and characters portraits will resonate with readers everywhere."
Delicious Foods by James Hannaham (Little, Brown, March 17). "An audacious novel about poverty, grief, addiction and the bond between mother and son--told with a ferocious voice not unlike those of previous Discover selections Ruby by Cynthia Bond and Southern Cross the Dog by Bill Cheng."

The Poser by Jacob Rubin (Viking, March 17). "Like a movie by the Cohen Brothers, the familiar and the off-kilter collide in this delightfully comic novel. Our readers were charmed by this story of a masterful impersonator struggling to discover his own identity."
Night at the Fiestas: Stories by Kirstin Valdez Quade (Norton, March 23). "Original, diverse, and strikingly vivid--more miniature novel than short story, like Rebecca Lee's Bobcat and Other Stories or Alethea Black's I Knew You'd Be Lovely--the sublime stories in this collection establish their author as a major new talent."
The Lost Boys Symphony by Mark Andrew Ferguson (Little, Brown, March 24). "We can't stop thinking about the ripple effect people's choices have on the lives of those around them after reading this ambitious and eloquent debut novel in which genres bend and the past, present, and future coexist as a lovesick boy is kidnapped by time-travelling versions of himself."
The Porcelain Thief: Searching the Middle Kingdom for Buried China by Huan Hsu (Crown, March 24). "In this often screamingly funny debut, a Chinese-American man goes in search of his family's porcelain--lost in mainland China after the Communist takeover--and returns with an unforgettable portrait of a culture, a family, and himself."

Book Review

Children's Review: Echo

Echo by Pam Muñoz Ryan (Scholastic, $19.99 hardcover, 592p., ages 10-14, 9780439874021, February 24, 2015)

In this remarkable novel, Pam Muñoz Ryan (The Dreamer; Esperanza Rising) braids together three stories in which an unusual harmonica plays a part. She begins with a fairy tale: Otto loses track of time while reading a book during a hide-and-seek game. The book features three princesses left for dead by a king obsessed with begetting an heir, and the kind midwife who hides them. The princesses share with Otto the midwife's prophecy: "Your fate is not yet sealed./ Even in the darkest night, a star will shine,/ a bell will chime, a path will be revealed."

Readers will swiftly move through the novel's nearly 600 pages to find out how the prophecy comes to pass. The surprising twists and turns ratchet up the suspense, both within the individual stories and with the question of how the author will ultimately bring them together. The first of the three interlinked stories takes readers to 1933 Germany as Hitler begins his rise. Friedrich Schmidt, a 12-year-old with a wine-stain birthmark on his face, possesses a gift for conducting music that only he hears. But his sensitive ear also leads him to an enchanted harmonica that appears to play itself. Friedrich is flagged as an imperfection on Hitler's superior race--especially given his father's pro-Jewish sympathies, and he must flee.

The next stop is an orphanage in 1935 Philadelphia, where two brothers insist upon leaving together or not at all. Mrs. Sturbridge adopts them to fulfill the requirements of her father's will (and inherit the Dow fortune), at the urging of her lawyer and friend, Mr. Howard. When Mike Flannery learns that Mrs. Sturbridge is attempting to undo their adoption, he negotiates with her: if she'll keep his younger brother, Mike will depart with a traveling harmonica troupe.

The third story transports readers to 1942 California, where the government has rounded up Japanese-Americans and imprisoned them in camps. Ivy Maria Lopez moves from Fresno to Orange County when her father gets a job tending the land of an interned family, and readers learn along with Ivy about their white neighbors' racist treatment of Mexican-Americans.

Ryan, ever respectful of her readers' intelligence, gives them room to piece together the parallels and contrasts between the societies central to these stories. Music connects the three children and buoys them in communities torn by suspicion and cruelty. By framing the trio of interconnected stories within a fairy tale, Ryan tacitly lets readers believe they will survive--even though each closes with a cliffhanger--until the author completes her extraordinary epic tale. --Jennifer M. Brown, children's editor, Shelf Awareness

Shelf Talker: In this epic novel, Pam Muñoz Ryan braids together three individuals' stories, in which music sustains them through war, conspiracies and atrocities.

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