Shelf Awareness for Monday, June 29, 2015

Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers: Roxy by Neal Shusterman and Jarrod Shusterman

St. Martin's Press: See, Solve, Scale: How Anyone Can Turn an Unsolved Problem Into a Breakthrough Success by Danny Warshay

Harper: Free Love by Tessa Hadley

Walker Books Us: Ferryman by Claire McFall

Shadow Mountain: The Slow March of Light by Heather B Moore

Berkley Books: Women who defied the odds. These are their stories. Enter giveaway!

Soho Crime: My Annihilation by Fuminori Nakamura, translated by Sam Bett

Shadow Mountain: Missing Okalee by Laura Ojeda Melchor

Editors' Note

Now We Are TEN!

Ten years ago today, we published our first edition of Shelf Awareness to a group of about 500 readers, mostly family and friends. We had no idea at the time what an incredible journey we were embarking on. We hoped only that our book industry friends would read the newsletter and like it and that someday it might make enough to pay for some wine.

Shelf Awareness founders John Mutter and Jenn Risko.

As we prepared to launch Shelf Awareness at the 2005 BEA, we talked with many friends in the business about our plans. Everyone was kind and supportive, but, as we came to realize later, many thought we were crazy. A direct quote from one of those early meetings was, "So let me get this straight. You're going to start a daily e-newsletter, like PW, which has been in business for a hundred years? You're going to focus mainly on the indies? And this newsletter is going to be free?"

We barely heard these concerns because we believed in what we were doing and believed we were filling a need. While at Publishers Weekly, in the '90s, John had started one of the first business e-mails at a time when there were no graphics and ads consisted only of text set off by strings of asterisks. The newsletter had an enthusiastic audience and thrived--until the suits at Reed Elsevier, which owned PW at the time, decided to put it behind a pay wall and effectively killed it.

When John was forced into involuntary retirement, immediately booksellers and others called and wrote saying they missed the newsletter. John and Jenn were industry friends, and when Jenn heard the news of his firing, she called. John said he dreamed of setting up a newsletter focused on booksellers and librarians. In an uncharacteristically shy voice, she said, "If you're really serious, I'm really interested."

In retrospect, maybe we were a bit crazy. We had no capital, no loans, no investors and, at the time, the industry was in turmoil. Amazon continued to take greater shares of the printed book market and was about to introduce the Kindle. The economy was overheated and would soon crash. Borders was slowly sinking. And our beloved indies were trying to hang on, but more stores were closing than opening, and many inside and outside the business began seeing bricks-and-mortar bookstores merely as "showrooms."

A decade later, it's amazing how things have changed. The printed book is here to stay. Indies have rebounded. We like to think we contributed to these changes by fulfilling our unofficial motto: providing a virtual community with the news and info that helps booksellers and librarians do their jobs better.

And somehow a decade has passed. Now we have two editions, the daily Pro for the industry and the twice-weekly Readers for consumers, with 34,000 and 350,000 subscribers, respectively. Last year, we sent 28 million individual e-mails. We now have more than 100 partner bookstores, who send co-branded editions of Shelf Awareness for Readers to their customers. (See the list here.) By our conservative estimates, last year we helped those partners sell more than 100,000 books.

We reach all kinds of people who love books: avid book readers, book reviewers, book bloggers, media reporters on the book business and many more in the U.S. and around the world. We've become partners with and a place of connection for publishers and booksellers and librarians. We've created new products to help spread the word about books and to sell books.

And we're amazed at the company we've created. We have 12 full-time employees and 50 freelancers. They range from booksellers and others who review books regularly to staff who have worked their hearts out. In the early days, many of them took chances working for us. Marilyn Dahl, head of book reviews, began by agreeing to review one mystery a month in exchange for free galleys and wine. Our CFO Richard Jobes started giving us invaluable business advice "for fun" and said dryly in May 2005 that "by Labor Day, you should know if this thing has a chance." Melissa Solberg and Kristin McConnell are our brilliant and tenacious sales team, who keep the revenue engine humming and hand hold our approximately 400 publisher advertisers a year. Robin Lenz begins her days before dawn making sure that the reams of copy are readable and pictures presentable and manages our social media. Ever-cheerful Jennifer M. Brown has created a thriving children's department from scratch. Robert Gray started nine years ago writing a weekly column and now is John's main backup and writes much of the news. Alex Mutter reports in-depth on a range of subjects, keeping us informed about conferences, books, authors, booksellers and innovative programs. Christopher Priest heads up our bookstore platform and has begun getting us some terrific media attention. Dave Wheeler keeps the Shelf review world moving. Kristianne Huntsberger ushers review galleys and ads through Shelfland.

And very soon, Neil Strandberg is joining us as director of technology and operations. All we can say about his appointment is this: If you're impressed with how far we've come, watch to see where we're going.

We want to thank so many people. Our employees. Our spouses and families, who put up with our long, erratic hours and trips--and have provided invaluable support. Our first readers, who gave us a shot and then told everyone else they knew to sign up. The first brave souls who bought ads when barely anyone knew who we were, and those who have consistently advertised for years. (One of our favorite e-mails ever from an advertiser said: "Until we can wake up every morning in bed with every single bookseller out there, we have to be in the Shelf.") And all of you who pursued dreams to own or work in a bookstore or a library or a publishing house.

We began as an upstart, as troublemakers of a kind, and we still aim to see things differently, so we especially want to honor the rebels who know that words and knowledge lead to deeds and who believed in books and the book business as we did, despite all the doom and gloom. All of us at the Shelf can't imagine a better group of crazies to be with and always to believe in. We gratefully offer you a million thank yous. Here's to many more years! --John Mutter and Jenn Risko

[Editor's note: You can send us birthday wishes by clicking on the comment button below. Or on social media: Please use our hashtag #Shelf10.]


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  • Lori Glazer June 29, 2015 08:13 AM

    Congratulations John, Jenn and Co. -- 10 years, wow! All your friends and fans at HMH are so happy for your success!

  • Carl Lennertz June 29, 2015 08:23 AM

    So so wonderful! You have changed how we hear about trends, and all in good and positive spirit. Hurrah! - Carl Lennertz

  • Dani McGrath June 29, 2015 08:24 AM

    To the next 10.. keep it up! Many thanks for all you (and your team) do !!!

  • Michael Walsh June 29, 2015 08:26 AM

    Congratulation on a decade of spins around the sun!!

  • Donna Paz Kaufman June 29, 2015 08:37 AM

    You are one of us entrepreneurs who listened when people said you were "crazy," yet created something valuable and enduring anyway. Thank you for pressing on, sharing the industry news, and bringing the stories to life to lead and inspire our work. Here's to the next decade!

  • Gee Gee Rosell June 29, 2015 08:40 AM

    So many thanks for helping this indie bookseller reach out to her customers, who expect only the best. You guys are the best! I rely on you. My customers rely on you. Looking forward to celebrating year 20 with you!

  • Joan Schulhafer June 29, 2015 08:41 AM

    Congratulations. Can't imagine keeping up without Shelf Awareness. Thanks!

  • Sam Droke-Dickinson June 29, 2015 08:48 AM

    Happy B'day bookish twin! We too opened our doors 10 years ago this week.. it's been a fun ride with you in our in-boxes every morning.. we look forward to many more! The Aaron's Books Family Lititz, PA

  • Alexander Aghabekyan June 29, 2015 08:48 AM

    My congratulations, dear BS. I am a small publisher from Armenia and a very old reader of your page. I could say that you are a kind of my guide in publishing. I read you daily and everyday I get something new to think about. Your view from the side of booksellers is very important for publishers. Wish you many years of success.

  • Candice Chaplin June 29, 2015 09:01 AM

    I love reading this newsletter, and I love the people who create it. Thanks for being! #Shelf10

  • Rita Maggio June 29, 2015 09:18 AM

    congratulations! and thank you for all that you do for the independent booksellers. I can't begin the day without checking Shelf Awareness. It's a treasure! Rita at BookTowne

  • Debra Dean June 29, 2015 09:23 AM

    Happy Birthday John and Jen! Shelf Awareness is my coffee in the morning. Long may you reign!

  • Jean Westcott June 29, 2015 09:25 AM

    Been a subscriber and fan from the beginning! A great mix of expert curation, reviews, in-depth insight and good humor.

  • Maryalice Gorman Richard Goldman June 29, 2015 09:26 AM

    Never thought you were crazy.....John is always a few steps ahead of the book industry! Many good wishes for a bright future and warm wishes of thanks for your years of keeping us all informed and often delighted! From Mary Alice and Richard the retired founders of Mystery Lovers Bookshop who cannot give up the shelf awareness habit!❤️

  • Matthew Lage June 29, 2015 09:32 AM

    My electronic morning cup of coffee, a service I take for granted. Thank you for your ten years, and here's hoping you'll be gracing my inbox for years to come. Matthew Lage, Iowa Book

  • Bob Diforio June 29, 2015 09:38 AM

    Happy Anniversary John and Jenn. What an amazing ride, with the best yet to come. Congratulations! Bob Diforio

  • Matt Baldacci June 29, 2015 09:44 AM

    Congratulations Jenn, John, Marilyn, and team! Thanks for being stubborn and making me "get" it. Thanks for contributing to making the industry better.

  • Art Carson June 29, 2015 09:51 AM

    Never a doubt Jenn and John. Never a doubt. Congratulations!

  • David Quinn June 29, 2015 09:53 AM

    Congratulations Jenn and John and all SA staff! Keep up the outstanding work. I look forward to the next 10 years, and many more! - David Quinn

  • Nora Rawlinson June 29, 2015 09:59 AM

    So proud to have been one of the First Five Hundred. Congrats to all of you from Here's to the next ten years.

  • Annie Philbrick June 29, 2015 10:11 AM

    Happy 10th birthday to everyone at Shelf from all of us at Bank Square Books!! You guys rock the book world.

  • Linda Walonen June 29, 2015 10:15 AM

    Happy Anniversary! I've been reading Shelf Awareness for most of your 10 years. Thank you for making me a better book seller. Linda Walonen Bay Books San Ramon, CA

  • Janice Prytz June 29, 2015 10:29 AM

    It feels as if I've been reading Shelf Awareness forever, and I love it. Congratulations on your first 10 years.

  • Patrick Ewing June 29, 2015 10:31 AM

    Happy Birthday and Congratulations! Patrick Ewing

  • Nancy Pate June 29, 2015 10:44 AM

    Happy birthday! Congrats on your sujccess, As a reviewer, blogger, reader and writer, I'd be lost without you. Nancy Pate

  • Bob Koen June 29, 2015 11:11 AM

    Happy Birthday Jenn and John. If only I could be 10 again.

  • Gary Todoroff June 29, 2015 11:26 AM

    Happy 10th Birthday John & Jenn! Can't imagine a day without Shelf Awareness. So gratified to see your success especially as you're two of my favorite people in our fabulous business. Congratulations!

  • Anne Kubek June 29, 2015 11:52 AM

    Happy Birthday and thanks for all you do!! Here's to many more!

  • Rebecca Lang June 29, 2015 11:53 AM

    Happy Birthday Shelf Awareness! The best newsletter and the best people to work with. Here's to many more!

  • cindy heidemann June 29, 2015 11:55 AM

    Happiest of anniversaries you Proponents of Literary Excellence! XO cindy

  • Judy Crosby June 29, 2015 12:02 PM

    Congratulations! Here's to 10 more!

  • Mary Grey James June 29, 2015 12:05 PM

    In addition to your invaluable support to libraries and independent bookstores, the timely coverage you give to literary organizations, such as the Women's National Book Association, is much appreciated. Thank you and congratulations! Mary Grey James, former national president of WNBA

  • Susan Avery June 29, 2015 12:39 PM

    Congratulations on your milestone. Although retired from the book business I am grateful to Shelf Awareness for helping me keep in touch with an industry that I loved to work in for 34 years.

  • linda carlson June 29, 2015 13:02 PM

    With congratulations and best wishes...especially because most of you are nearby neighbors here in Seattle! And yes, may you have at least 10 more terrific years.

  • Don Pape June 29, 2015 13:04 PM

    Happy Happy Birthday - and thank you for the great informative role you play. I read this scrolling all the way to the end!

  • Victoria Shoemaker June 29, 2015 13:39 PM

    Congratulations to all! You all weren't crazy back in 2005...I'd say enlightened really. May there be many many more anniversaries.

  • Braden Vinroe June 29, 2015 14:34 PM

    Happy birthday!

  • Lisa Burris June 29, 2015 15:21 PM

    Happy birthday! I first learned if Shelf Awareness at BEA many years ago, and I signed up immediately. You have made my job as a public librarian so much easier. Each day, I come to work, check my e-mail, and read your daily post. Catching up on the industry news is a great way to start my day, and I love being among the first to know industry news. Thanks for all you do, SA crew, and congratulations on your 10-year milestone.

  • Robert B. Wyatt June 29, 2015 15:35 PM

    There's little as much fun as a success story. Thanks for living it and telling us about it.

  • Margot Farris June 29, 2015 15:44 PM

    Happy Birthday Shelf Awareness! I love what you have created and it has helped me so much with my work. Here's to ten + more!

  • Susan Weis-Bohlen June 29, 2015 17:43 PM

    You were and are a beacon of light!! Thank you for all you do.

  • Anna Micklin June 29, 2015 19:16 PM

    Happy Birthday Shelf! What a great story.

  • Michael Jacobs June 29, 2015 19:30 PM

    Happy Birthday Jenn and John and Shelf! So proud of you and what you do. Enjoy!

  • Nancy Colalillo June 29, 2015 19:50 PM

    Happy Birthday! Have loved every minute of SA; much more enjoyable, reader-friendly and (and this is a compliment) homey than PW. Still love getting all the news eventho' I am no longer officially in the biz.

  • Linda M. Johnson June 29, 2015 21:08 PM

    Happy Birthday and Congratulations on the fruits of your labor. I look forward this e-mail probably more than any other I get.

  • Karen Ruelle June 29, 2015 22:13 PM

    Congratulations! What would we do without you?!

  • Susan Walker June 29, 2015 22:16 PM

    Happy 10th, John and Jenn, and congratulations on the outstanding success of Shelf Awareness!! John, I seem to recall that you wondered at our lunch together 10 years ago whether people would want to read this book industry online publication you were inventing. And being prescient, of course, I said YES!

  • Barbara Morrow June 30, 2015 07:17 AM

    John and Jenn - An invaluable accomplishment! Thank you so much for what you do for the independents! Barbara Morrow

  • BookPeople Price July 1, 2015 21:09 PM

    Love waking up with you guys every morning :) Thanks!

  • Anonymous June 29, 2015 22:49 PM

    Happy Happy Birthday from your pals at The King's English Bookshop!

  • Davina Witts June 29, 2015 08:20 AM

    Congratulations from all of us at BookBrowse :)

  • Samuel Dorrance June 29, 2015 10:11 AM

    Congratulations SA on ten remarkable years of perseverance, accomplishment and invaluable service to booksellers, publishers and readers! Sam Dorrance Potomac Books

  • Anonymous June 29, 2015 12:05 PM

    Happy Birthday, congratulations and a heartfelt thank you for all you've done for our industry. You and your team are amazing!!!! xoxoxox

  • Harry Kirchner June 29, 2015 15:31 PM

    Happy Birthday!! and may the shelf stand for another ten decades or more.

  • Jonah Zimiles June 29, 2015 08:22 AM

    Happy birthday to our friends at Shelf Awareness! We could not have survived and thrived here in Maplewood, New Jersey without you! Jonah Zimiles and the [words] Bookstore

  • Tom Clarkson June 29, 2015 09:52 AM

    Congratulations from one of those who DID NOT think you were crazy ... though perhaps I was a bit crazy myself ... I'm honored to have been an observer at the Creation!!!

  • Crestview Booksellers June 30, 2015 10:07 AM

    Only to the brave do rewards and lasting success come!

  • paula kelley June 30, 2015 10:56 AM

    Happy Birthday! The day does not start without a cup of coffee and Shelf Awareness! THANK YOU! Paula Kelley

  • Vicki Rider June 30, 2015 11:53 AM

    Happy Birthday to my favorite book newsletter! I'm a librarian and I read you every morning. I especially love the book-to-movie info (so I know what's coming up and can tell my patrons) and the ads for free ARCs. It's so gratifying to read about new bookstores opening up all the time. As you wrote, print IS NOT dead (and never will be, despite the naysayters)!! Yay! Thanks for such a quality publication. I look forward to 10 more years of my favorite thing--reading about books, bookstores and libraries! <3 <3 xxxxx

  • Ken White June 30, 2015 13:09 PM

    Congratulations John and Jenn and Team Awareness! I remember once when Shelf Awareness gave out badge holders (for an early Winter Institute?) with the Buddhistic Monkish Bookish logo on it. And in the hotel elevator some actual Tibetan monks came in. They looked intently and that badge and started grinning! It was a great moment, thank you!

  • Anais Strickland June 30, 2015 20:36 PM

    Happy Belated Birthday Shelf Awareness! I am so glad to be a subscriber to your newsletter. I've discovered so many great books in your newsletters.

G.P. Putnam's Sons: Love & Saffron: A Novel of Friendship, Food, and Love by Kim Fay


Obituary Note: Avin Mark Domnitz

Avin Mark Domnitz

We also have sad news to report today. Avin Mark Domnitz, CEO of the American Booksellers Association from 1997 to 2009, died on Saturday of cancer. He was 71.

Before becoming head the ABA, initially with the title executive director, Domnitz was president of the ABA and had been on the board for several terms. He was also co-owner of the Harry W. Schwartz Bookshops in Milwaukee, Wis., and a principal of Dickens Books, which became part of Schwartz. Before becoming a bookseller, he was a trial lawyer.

As president and then CEO, Domnitz led the ABA during a tumultuous, difficult period for independent booksellers, roughly coinciding with the spread of big box chains across the country, to the opening of Amazon as an online book retailer and then Amazon's launch of the Kindle, which lead to a huge jump for a time in sales of digital books. And as if that wasn't enough, the financial crisis and Great Recession that began in 2007 wreaked havoc on bookstores of all stripes.

Perhaps drawing on his career as trial lawyer, Domnitz was a vigorous and vigilant defender of indies and indie bookselling. His emphasis on the fundamentals of bookselling was evidenced by his training of many booksellers in the basics of business financials. (He was also one of the most financially knowledgeable booksellers we've ever known.) He was a mentor to many booksellers and always available for advice and help.

During his tenure, the association initiated a range of programs and actions that have helped indies survive--and thrive. It founded Book Sense and, which morphed into IndieBound and IndieCommerce; supported and developed shop local campaigns; sold the ABA's office campus in Tarrytown, N.Y.; filed several lawsuits intended to create a level playing field for all book retailers; began battling for sales tax fairness; renewed an emphasis on education for members; created the Winter Institute and the Booksellers' Relief Fund (which eventually became part of what's now the Book Industry Charitable Foundation or Binc); and more.

ABA CEO Oren Teicher, who was chief operating officer during the period Domnitz was CEO, reiterated comments he made only a month ago, at the ABA's Celebration of Bookselling at BEA, when the association honored Domnitz. "Avin's life in bookselling was characterized by his unstinting belief in the transformative power of books and by his passionate belief that the best educational tools possible would help ensure that indie bookstores would be empowered to continue to reinvent and reinvigorate their businesses. He was a very special bookseller, a superb teacher; and, an extraordinarily talented and committed man. He inspired a whole generation of booksellers as well as all of us who worked with him on the ABA staff.

"More than anyone else, Avin was responsible for the renaissance in indie bookselling that we are seeing today. He planted the seeds for today's resurgence; and, never ever lost faith. He will be dearly missed."

At the same event, Mitchell Kaplan of Books & Books, an ABA president during Domnitz's time as CEO, relayed a powerful message to booksellers from Domnitz (which was in effect a kind of eulogy) based on notes he took on his cell phone during a visit just before BEA. Kaplan read, quoting Domnitz: "You won the war. The reason you won the war is because you were right. You were gracious, you were tough and you were adamant. You were right and they were wrong. What's right wins out sometimes, and this time it certainly did. Through lawsuits, through market disruption, through the cry of the experts presaging the end of the book, right prevailed, and bookselling is the stronger for it. Everyone denigrated the book, but you didn't and ultimately that's why you won. It's about the book, about the book. And, I, in everything I tried to do, was motivated by the belief that you and the book would prevail."

Avin Mark Domnitz's funeral will be on Wednesday afternoon at 1 p.m. at Goodman-Bensman Funeral Home, 4750 N. Santa Monica Blvd., in Whitefish Bay, Wis. The family has asked that in lieu of flowers, memorial contributions be made to the ABA or a charity of your choice.

Mountains & Plains Independent Booksellers Association: We're throwing a bookselling party and you're invited!

Independent Bookshop Week 2015: #bookshopcrawl & More

Independent Bookshop Week in the U.K. and Ireland wrapped up its ninth year Saturday with the second annual #bookshopcrawl, which challenged booklovers to "pop out to your local bookshop(s)... and pick up a book. This year we're asking you to #giveabook--whether it's for your best friend, mum, colleague, fellow blogger, cousin, a stranger--anyone you like!"

#IBW2015 photo highlights were showcased on social media sites including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, as well as at the Bookseller, which noted: "The annual extravaganza of indie booksellers returned last week with a barrage of book-centric events, readings, publicity and costumes."

Newly appointed Children's Laureate Chris Riddell stopped by the Muswell Hill Children's Bookshop in London Saturday, where he met fans, signed books and even created an original drawing to mark the occasion.

Books Are My Bag collected dozens of pics from the IBW Bookshop Crawl.

In conjunction with #bookshopcrawl, publisher Verso Books sponsored a Verso Bag Crawl, teaming up "with five of our favorite independent, radical bookshops from around the country...  If you visit any one of the shops we're profiling this week (News From Nowhere, Housmans, Five Leaves, Bookmarks, Word Power) you could pick up a FREE new Verso tote bag filled with three of our bestselling titles!"

"In Praise of Mr. B's" was the headline for an IBW blog post by Coombe Cottages and Co., which praised Mr. B's Emporium of Reading Delights in Bath, and indies in general, for their "level of service, the intimate feeling of being with books, the personal recommendations, that feeling you get that you're in on a wonderful secret."

Bookshop apprentice Jasmine Denholm of Wenlock Books in Much Wenlock, Shropshire, won the Booksellers Association's national competition for the best shop window display of the books long-listed for the Desmond Elliott debut novel award. Denholm, who started her apprenticeship last year, said, "Working in the shop gave me a purpose when I felt the most useless that I've ever felt. Being given responsibility for real things (like social media, young adult fiction and communicating with William Brookes School) made me feel important, which in turn made me feel confident and proud of my achievements."

London Review Bookshop "asked some brilliant indie booksellers from around the country to tell us what makes them special--and what their customers are loving."

To honor IBW, the Men Who Stare at Books blog offered "7 great quotes about bookshops," including this one from Doris Lessing: "There is only one way to read, which is to browse in libraries and bookshops."

Chronicle Books: Inside Cat by Brendan Wenzel

Bookstore Closings: Moby Dickens; The Quest Bookshop

Moby Dickens Bookshop, Taos, N.Mex., will close July 3. On Friday, the new, rare and out-of-print bookseller made the announcement "with great sadness," adding that the "decision has not come lightly." In a letter to customers and friends, co-owners Jay and Carolyn Moore noted that the "combination of a challenged economic climate along with the overriding pressure and influence of Amazon in the market has created a situation that will not enable us to continue to operate. The cost of running a brick-and-mortar bookshop far exceeds the revenue generated by razor-thin book margins."

The Moores purchased Moby Dickens in 2013. The store was founded by the late Susan and Art Bachrach, "who relocated to Taos from the Washington, D.C., area in the early '80s and promptly opened the doors of Moby Dickens. The name was Art's idea," Taos News reported.


The Quest Bookshop, Charlottesville, Va., which "assisted the spiritual searches of Christians, pagans, heathens, Taoists, Buddhists, shamans, rebirthers and extra-terrestrial observers,"  closed June 20, the Daily Progress reported. Owner Kay Allison opened the store in 1978, after closing the Well, a Christian bookstore.

Allison had sought to sell the bookstore for several years, but said "no one wanted to take it over when it was available for sale and that's sad because I think Charlottesville will miss it.... I can't really tell you what I'm going to do because I don't know. I'm open to possibilities. You always have to be open to possibilities. But I've done this long enough. I want to see some friends and do some traveling and I think 84's a pretty good age to stop.... I'm going to miss it. It's been great, but I'm ready to move on."

Berkley Books: Good Rich People by Eliza Jane Brazier


Image of the Day: ALA Pride

photo: Tobin Anderson

A contingent from the American Library Association, which is currently holding its annual conference in San Francisco, marched in the Gay Pride parade yesterday, bearing posters of book covers that celebrated Gay Pride themes, including This Day in June by Gayle E. Pitman, Beyond Magenta by Susan Kuklin and Better Nate than Ever by Tim Federle.

Q&A: Tattered Cover's Joyce Meskis

Joyce Meskis

As Joyce Meskis begins the two-year process of transferring ownership of Denver's Tattered Cover Book Store to Len Vlahos and Kristen Gilligan, 5280: The Denver Magazine featured a q&a with her, including her thoughts on the transition. Some highlights:

How did you end up buying the then three-year-old Tattered Cover in Cherry Creek?
By 1974, I was a single mom of two young daughters. I was reading the book pages of the Sunday Denver Post and saw that the Tattered Cover had come up for sale. I did a back-of-the-envelope calculation, thought I could make it work, and made an offer. There was a better offer on the table, and I didn't hear back. My friend pushed me to inquire, and I found out the deal had fallen through. I borrowed the last few thousand dollars from my uncle, made another offer, and it was accepted.

Starting this month, you're beginning the two-year process of passing ownership of Tattered Cover to Len Vlahos and Kristen Gilligan, two book-industry professionals from New York. Why them?
I wanted it to be left to the right people. They are perfect for the Tattered Cover. These people are committed to the industry: Both have spent their careers in the book business and understand community. They know the blessings and curses. Often people have a dreamy feeling about owning a bookstore, and they don't realize how hard it is. You can practically do anything else instead of buying a bookstore and make more money with a lot less worry.

Bookstore Sandwich Board of the Day: The Booksmith

Madeline Gobbo of the Booksmith, San Francisco, Calif., illustrated the shop's sidewalk chalk board Friday to celebrate and thank the five Supreme Court justices who voted in favor of marriage equality. From Twitter: "oh, that? that's just RBG in a fighter jet. #lovewins @Madeline_Gobbo."

Call for Book Swag


Carl Lennertz writes:

"I'll soon have the full attention of 100 bright college grads looking to get into publishing--and I love to have on display outside the classroom all week galleys and any fun promo items you have. And yes, if you can spare them: T-shirts or totes. The latter become fun prizes on the last day. Some of you did this last year, and it was a BIG hit! If you have time this busy season, a tote bag of goodies sent to this address would be wonderful: Jennifer Conder, Publishing Institute, University of Denver Publishing, 2000 E. Asbury Ave, Denver, Colo. 80208 Attn: Carl Lennertz. 303-871-7690. Items need to arrive by Friday, July 24, so no need to FedEx them now. Hoping for a showing from every kind and size of publisher in the land."

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Mat Johnson on Fresh Air

This morning on the Today Show: Mamrie Hart, author of You Deserve a Drink: Boozy Misadventures and Tales of Debauchery (Plume, $16, 9780142181676).

Also on the Today Show: Daniel Silva, author of The English Spy (Harper, $27.99, 9780062320131).


Today on Fresh Air: Mat Johnson, author of Loving Day: A Novel (Spiegel & Grau, $26, 9780812993455).


Today on the View: Fareed Zakaria, author of In Defense of a Liberal Education (Norton, $23.95, 9780393247688).


Today on Tavis Smiley: Charlie Wilson, author of I Am Charlie Wilson (Atria, $25.99, 9781476790077).


Tonight on a repeat of the Tonight Show: Melissa Rivers, author of The Book of Joan: Tales of Mirth, Mischief, and Manipulation (Crown Archetype, $26, 9781101903827).


Tonight on a repeat of Late Night with Seth Meyers: Hanya Yanagihara, author of A Little Life: A Novel (Doubleday, $30, 9780385539258).

TV: To Live and Die in L.A.

WGN America has landed a drama series adaptation of To Live and Die in L.A., the 1985 MGM movie written and directed by William Friedkin, and based on the book by former U.S. Secret Service agent Gerald Petievich, reported. Friedkin, who is directing and executive producing, created the TV adaptation with Bobby Moresco (Crash), who is writing the script and will executive produce.

Books & Authors

Awards: Carnegie Medals; Society of Authors

The 2015 winners of the Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence in Fiction and Nonfiction are:

Fiction: Anthony Doerr, for All the Light We Cannot See (Scribner)
Nonfiction: Bryan Stevenson, for Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption (Spiegel & Grau)


The Society of Authors distributed £85,500 (about $134,630) to writers at the organization's annual Authors' Awards ceremony. Among the honorees, Ben Fergusson took the £10,000 (about $15,680) Betty Trask Prize for his debut novel The Spring of Kasper Meier; and Ben Macintyre won the £5,000 (about $7,840) Elizabeth Longford Prize for Historical Biography for A Spy Among Friends: Kim Philby and the Great Betrayal. You can see a complete list of SoA winners here

Book Review

Review: The Pawnbroker's Daughter: A Memoir

The Pawnbroker's Daughter: A Memoir by Maxine Kumin (W.W. Norton , $25.95 hardcover, 9780393246339, July 13, 2015)

pawnbrokers daughter kuminAuthor of five novels, eight prose collections and 18 books of poetry, including the Pulitzer Prize-winning Up Country, Maxine Kumin (1925-2014) explains how she became a feminist and poet in her short but succinct memoir, The Pawnbroker's Daughter. Her father, a Russian Jew, owned the largest pawnshop in Philadelphia in the 1930s and advertised his business on the free matchbooks given out with the sale of cigarette packs. Her mother was a proud German Jew, embarrassed by her husband's profession, and Kumin learned to tell people her father was a "broker" or "merchant," knowing the word would probably be interpreted as "stockbroker." Kumin was raised Jewish, but attended a Catholic kindergarten and had numerous pleasant interactions with the nuns who lived in a convent next door. She admits that she "was deeply touched by my early experience at convent school, but the final effect of my bifurcated religious education was quite simply to feed my skepticism."

While at Radcliffe College during World War II, she met her future husband, Victor, on a blind date; a soldier/scientist, he was sent to Los Alamos to work on the top-secret development of the atomic bomb. Kumin includes snippets from several of the 575 letters the couple exchanged during this time, which are full of passionate longings and desires.

Once the war was over, the couple bought a small farm in New Hampshire, and Kumin's poetry career took off. She tells of life on the farm, raising horses and taking in stray dogs, riding horseback through the countryside, winter snows unlike any she had experienced before, and shows how these details worked their way into the many volumes that she produced.

It is through her poetry that her brilliance shines and makes this memoir so worthy. She shows how her childhood and loves influenced her, but her thoughts on being an adult who lived and worked the land and witnessed the good and evil in the world as it unfolded around her are most memorable. Often readers wonder what inspires a poet to write the way she does; readers of The Pawnbroker's Daughter will see firsthand what made Maxine Kumin tick. --Lee E. Cart, freelance writer and book reviewer

Shelf Talker: Fans of Maxine Kumin's poetry will enjoy learning about her personal life and its influence on her writing.

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