Shelf Awareness for Friday, August 28, 2015

Random House Studio: Remember by Joy Harjo, illustrated by Michaela Goade

Oxford University Press, USA: Spring Reads

Chronicle Books: Tap! Tap! Tap!: Dance! Dance! Dance! by Hervé Tullet

Minotaur Books: The Golden Gate by Amy Chua

Charlesbridge Publishing: Glitter Everywhere by Chris Barton, illustrated by Chaaya Prabhat


B&N to Close Last Store in Queens, N.Y.

The Bayside Barnes & Noble store at 23-80 Bell Blvd. in Queens, N.Y., "might close down soon, as the bookstore chain said it was not able to reach an agreement with the landlord over its lease," DNAinfo reported, adding that yesterday's announcement "comes on the heels" of news that the company's Forest Hills location will close in January. B&N shuttered its store on Union Turnpike in Fresh Meadows last year.

"Despite our best efforts to secure lease extensions at both our Forest Hills and Bayside Barnes & Noble locations, the respective property owners decided to lease to other tenants," said David Deason, v-p of development at B&N. "When our lease came back up for renewal the property owner notified us that they chose a tenant who was willing to pay rents far in excess of what we were willing to pay.... The Queens community is extremely important to us and as a result we are aggressively looking at new locations and expect to have a new store there in the future."

Candlewick Press (MA): Have You Seen My Invisible Dinosaur? by Helen Yoon

BAM Second Quarter: Sales Slip; Net Loss Doubles

In the second quarter ended August 1, revenue at Books-A-Million fell 0.4%, to $107.9 million, and the net loss was $5.8 million, nearly double the net loss of $3 million in the same period a year ago. Sales at stores open at least a year fell 0.3%.

BAM CEO and president Terrance G. Finley commented: "While we benefitted late in the quarter from the phenomenal success of Harper Lee's Go Set a Watchman and E.L. James' Grey, we were not able to fully offset the significant prior year media driven sales of John Green's Fault in Our Stars, Veronica Roth's Divergent series and Todd Burpo's Heaven Is for Real. Again, this quarter we saw strong performances in our cafés and in our general merchandise departments."

In a conference call (via with analysts yesterday, Finley added that other strong adult fiction titles included The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins and The Martian by Andy Weir.

He said, too, that adult coloring books "drove large increases in the art and new age categories," and in biography, strong titles included The Wright Brothers by David McCullough and "multiple titles from YouTube personalities like Joey Graceffa, Shane Dawson and Connor Franta." Manga contributed to "significant growth" in sales of graphic novels.

All areas of children's books did well, and "the release of the never before published Dr. Seuss' title, What Pet Should I Get, bought an additional excitement to the beginning readers section."

Finley called the fall lineup "solid, with an abundance of great new commercial fiction from the likes of John Grisham, Sue Grafton, Lee Child and many more and I am sure Bill O'Reilly's September non-fiction release Killing Reagan will have a long run at the top of our bestseller list."

Zibby Books: Super Bloom by Megan Tady

The Booksellers' Second Location Set for Dayton Debut

The Booksellers, Cincinnati, Ohio, is opening a second location in Dayton "the week after Labor Day, pending a few final permitting details," the Business Journal reported. The new shop, which is owned by Neil Van Uum, will occupy a 12,000-square-foot space in the five-story office building under construction at Austin Landing.

"It's tighter, but it's still a bookstore," said Van Uum, who was co-founder of Joseph Beth Booksellers. "We put more thought when building this, with a keener eye on creating a community of book lovers. We attract book lovers and we want to give it that book lover feel.... There's a real desire to create a place where people can feel comfortable. We pay more attention to detail."

GLOW: Avid Reader Press: My Name Is Iris by Brando Skyhorse

Athens Book Center: Closing Delayed, New Store Planned

The Athens Book Center, Athens, Ohio, which announced last month it would close August 31 in order to make room for a new tenant, will remain open a bit longer and retains hope that a new store can be established in another location, the Post reported.

"The gym, Synapse, was set to move in September 1. Their funding situation changed and didn't come through," said bookseller Susan Lee-Meeder, adding that Athens Book Center will now be able to stay open until mid- to late-September.

The Post noted that while the bookshop's "closing date has been postponed, talks to establish a new bookstore have already begun.... The potential bookstore will not be affiliated with the Athens Book Center and will not take its name."

"We know the community wants a new bookstore. We are trying to make it happen," said Lee-Meeder, adding that the goals would include expanding the children's section, being in a different, smaller building and being more of a cultural center for the town. "In a bookstore there is a lot of sharing and a lot of conversation. Athens would be a pinnacle place for ideas with the university and its diverse population and demographic.... I think it is the perfect place for a community bookstore."

Battenkill Books Expanding Children's' Section

In an e-mail newsletter yesterday, Battenkill Books, Cambridge, N.Y., offered an update on the store's expansion: "We are making good progress on our children's room expansion. Sheetrock is up in the new space and on Monday we will be breaking through the wall between the main store and the new store. Consequently, we will be closed on Monday, August 31st to minimize the noise and dust."

In early August, Battenkill Books' owner Connie Brooks shared photos on Facebook of the project-in-progress, noting: "It's so very exciting for us--we are still tentatively hoping for a Fall grand opening but no promises!"

West Coast Booksellers Deal with Wildfires

"Dangerous wildfires continue to blaze through the Northwest U.S., making national news headlines and leading to evacuations of towns" within the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association and Northern California Independent Booksellers Association regions, Bookselling This Week reported.


One evacuated Washington town is Chelan, the location of Riverwalk Books, where owner Libby Manthey reported that area residents had been permitted to return to their homes on Monday, August 17, but August 15 and 16 "coincided with the busiest weekend of the summer season--it's like losing the two days before Christmas. But the store will be fine, and we will be fine. We're just feeling very sad over the loss of the three firefighters and for so many who lost their homes and their livelihoods."

The town of Winthrop, Wash., home to Trail's End Bookstore, was also evacuated, and the store was forced to close from August 20 to August 23. Now reopened, Trail's End "plans to donate proceeds from coffee sales at its espresso bar to vetted fire relief funds, and it has set out a donation jar for customers."

Thom Chambliss, executive director of PNBA, reminded booksellers affected by the fires that the Book Industry Charitable Foundation offers assistance to booksellers and their families who have emergency needs caused by disasters, BTW wrote. "We would encourage any of our stores to turn to [Binc] in natural disaster cases."

Indigo Spirit Store Opening in Downtown Vancouver

Canadian chain Indigo Books and Music will open a 5,000-square-foot Indigo Spirit store in downtown Vancouver at 816 Granville St. by mid-November, just a few months after the June closing of its flagship 50,000-square-foot Chapters location at Robson and Howe streets, "a decision the company attributed to rising rent," the Province reported.

"We at Indigo are thrilled to be back in downtown Vancouver, offering both our new and existing customers the best in books, gifts and paper, in perfect time for holiday gift giving," said founder and CEO Heather Reisman. The company also noted that it "is still passionately looking for a large format store in the downtown Vancouver area."


Image of the Day: Picturing Octavia Books

photo by Mary Ellen Mark

Iconic photographer Mary Ellen Mark's "last assignment" was a commission to shoot photographs for Picture This: New Orleans, a CNN Money project marking the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina's devastating impact on the city. The extraordinary photos, which were taken just a few weeks before she died in May, include this striking one of Octavia Books owners Tom Lowenburg and Judith Lafitte bookending their dog, Pippin.

"We were humbled to look into her lens that looked into us," Lowenburg recalled.

An exhibition of Picture This: New Orleans, is running through September 27 on Governors Island in New York City.

Beijing: 'Adult Coloring-In Capital of the World'

The "global craze for adult versions of children's favorites" has fueled a huge demand for coloring books, the Guardian reported, noting that Laurence King Publishing announced at this week's Beijing International Book Fair that Johanna Basford's adult coloring book Secret Garden has sold 6.8 million copies around the world, including three million in China, 1.1 million in Brazil, 650,421 in the U.S., 500,000 in South Korea and 477,658 in the U.K. to date. The publisher dubbed Beijing the "adult coloring-in capital of the world."

Personnel Changes at Abrams, Scholastic

In the Abrams children's marketing and publicity department:

Patricia McNamara has joined the department as digital and social media marketing associate. She was most recently a senior editor with Girls' Life Magazine and

Caitlin Miller has joined the department as associate publicist. She was most recently a publicity assistant at Penguin Young Readers.


In the Scholastic Trade publishing division:

Beth Noble has been promoted to marketing manager. She was previously associate marketing manager.

Lauren Festa has been promoted to assistant marketing manager. She was previously marketing coordinator.

Book Trailer of the Day: World Gone Water

World Gone Water (Roundabout Press) by Jaime Clarke, co-owner of Newtonville Books, Newton Centre, Mass. The trailer is narrated by Thora Birch, and features a cast of dozens, including Frederick Barthelme, Andre Dubus, Brock Clarke, Gary Shteyngart, Celeste Ng and Moon Unit Zappa.

Media and Movies

'Lyle, Lyle': Bernard Waber Art Exhibit Opens in Philadelphia

Bernard Waber, author of the Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile series and many other children's books, is the subject of an exhibition that opened yesterday at the National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia, Pa. The exhibition, entitled "Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile and Friends: The Art of Bernard Wagner," runs until November 1 and includes more than 90 original illustrations, sketches, art supplies and other items. On October 25, the museum will host a panel discussion between Leonard Marcus, the exhibit's curator; Patrick Rodgers, curator at the Rosenbach of the Free Library of Philadelphia; and illustrator Paulis Waber, Bernard Waber's daughter.

Waber, who died in May 2013 at the age of 91, was born in Philadelphia in 1921. Over the course of his career he wrote 33 children's books, which have gone on to sell more than 1.75 million copies. His best-known books were those in the Lyle series, which began in 1962 with the publication of The House on East 88th Street.

Media Heat: Gary Rivlin Discusses Katrina, After the Flood

Tomorrow on MSNBC's Weekends with Alex Witt: Gary Rivlin, author of Katrina: After the Flood (Simon & Schuster, $27, 9781451692228). Rivlin will also appear on CBS Sunday Morning.


Sunday on CBS Sunday Morning: Dick Cheney, co-author of Exceptional: Why the World Needs a Powerful America (Threshold Editions, $28, 9781501115417)

Movies: Escaping North Korea; Emperor

Daniel Dae Kim (Lost, Hawaii Five-O) and his CBS production company 3AD are partnering with Sriram Das' Das Films (November Man) to develop Mike Kim's book Escaping North Korea: Defiance and Hope in the World's Most Repressive Country, as a feature film, reported. Rosalind Ross (Matador) is writing the adaptation.


Lionsgate's Summit Entertainment "has found its next franchise hero: Julius Caesar," reported, noting that the company "has signed on with White Horse Pictures to co-produce Emperor, the first in what could be a trilogy of films" based on Conn Iggulden's The Gates of Rome and The Field of Swords. "The fact-based tale has the kind of sexuality, political intrigue, battles and thirst for power evident in a series like HBO's Game Of Thrones. It is high priority for Lionsgate/Summit, and they will search for a director straight away," wrote.

Books & Authors

Book Brahmin: Kristan Higgins

Kristan Higgins is the author of more than a dozen novels and winner of two Romance Writers of America RITA Awards. Her books have been translated into more than 20 languages. Higgins loves animals, children (even teenagers), the New York Yankees and dessert. Along with her heroic firefighter husband and two snarky and entertaining children, Higgins lives in her hometown in Connecticut. Her new novel is If You Only Knew (Harlequin, August 25, 2015).

On your nightstand now:

The Best Medicine by Tracy Brogan. She's so funny and honest. Also, The Wonder of All Things by Jason Mott, which is magical and disturbing and beautiful all at once.

Favorite book when you were a child:

Oh, boy--I read constantly, so this will be tough to pick just a few. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis; Mandy by Julie Andrews Edwards; the Old Mother West Wind stories by Thornton Burgess; Little Women by Louisa May Alcott; Happy Birthday to You by Dr. Seuss.

Your top five authors:

Always an unfair question, since it varies according to the day, the weather, how much coffee I've had, but here are a few no-fails for me: Elinor Lipman, Robyn Carr, Liane Moriarty, Dr. Seuss and Jonathan Tropper.

Book you've faked reading:

The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen.

Book you're an evangelist for:

The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty. The range and depth of emotion in this story, the pace of it, the tragedy--it's a flippin' masterpiece.

Book you've bought for the cover:

Good Grief by Lolly Winston. How can one resist bunny slippers? One cannot.

Book that changed your life:

Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell. I read it for the first time when I was 13, and when I was finished, I read it again... 12 times in a row. I loved Scarlett's ability to do what needed to be done. I hated Scarlett because she was so narrow-minded and selfish. That book swallowed me whole.

Favorite line from a book:

"If you live to be a hundred, I want to live to be a hundred minus one day so I never have to live without you." (A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh). There it is in one sentence: true love. Doesn't matter that it's between two stuffed animals; it's one of the simplest and most profound statements of devotion I've ever read.

Which character you most relate to:

Oh heck, it depends on the day. On my good days, Scout from To Kill a Mockingbird. I like her moral indignation, her energy, her optimism and humor. On my bad days, Oscar the Grouch from Sesame Street.

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

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. To meet America's greatest literary hero again for the first time--yes, please.

Book Review

Review: Good Night, Mr. Wodehouse

Good Night, Mr. Wodehouse by Faith Sullivan (Milkweed Editions, $26 hardcover, 9781571311115, September 15, 2015)

Faith Sullivan visits Harvester, Minn., for the fifth time, in Good Night, Mr. Wodehouse with the story of Nell Stillman. Nell has lived a seemingly quiet life in Harvester: teaching third grade, raising her son alone after her husband's death, caring for friends and neighbors and reading voraciously--especially P.G. Wodehouse. But like so many "ordinary" lives, Nell's story contains hidden depths and rich layers of love, loss and wisdom.

Sullivan (The Cape Ann; Gardenias) begins with Nell's obituary, which Nell wrote herself many years before her death. From there, the story shifts back in time to portray Nell as a young widow, a single mother, a conscientious teacher and a stalwart friend. Her life unfolds alongside many of the 20th century's sweeping changes: electric lighting, World War I, telephones, the Great Depression. Though the outward facts of Nell's life--her apartment above the local butcher shop, her teaching career--remain mostly the same, her inner life is transformed by the novels she reads and loves.

"A book could be a mirror helping one to understand oneself, accept oneself--maybe even one's more refractory parts," Nell muses. Later, she adds, "Life could toss your sanity about like a glass ball; books were a cushion." The novels of Austen, Hardy, Dickens and others give Nell the strength and courage to face unexpected trials, such as her complicated romance with congressman John Flynn, and her son Hilly's struggles with shell shock when he returns from France after World War I. But Nell's great literary love, discovered via Love Among the Chickens, is P.G. Wodehouse. As she struggles with loneliness, financial worries and advancing age, Nell clings to Wodehouse and his cheerfully ordered world. Sullivan even allows Nell to meet Wodehouse in a few dream sequences, which blend seamlessly into the narration.

Harvester is full of memorable characters, including the gracious Lundeen family, who take Nell under their collective wing during her early widowhood and remain her lifelong friends. Hilly, Nell's son, is a sensitive and thoughtful young man, and even minor characters like Nell's crotchety Aunt Martha are well drawn. But Nell herself--sensitive, intelligent and warm--is the star of this novel, though she tends to shun the spotlight.

"She was a home girl, warmed by the glow of lamplight, a stove boiling water for tea," Nell muses. "To be unsophisticated was no crime if you weren't narrow, and she hoped that her reading kept her from that." Sullivan's canvas may be small, but her message is universal: books--including this one--have the power to amuse, console and transform lives. --Katie Noah Gibson, blogger at Cakes, Tea and Dreams

Shelf Talker: Faith Sullivan's fifth Harvester novel follows the extraordinary life of Nell Stillman, third-grade teacher and lover of literature, who harbors a special affection for P.G. Wodehouse.

Deeper Understanding

Robert Gray: Art Meets Commerce on Sidewalk Chalkboards

"The humble and ubiquitous chalkboard placed outside coffee shops, cafes, bars, restaurants or boutiques has slowly grown from a mere way to advertise that night's specials or happy hours to a kind of showcase of wit," the New York Times noted yesterday in a piece headlined "Sidewalk Blackboards Offer Some Chalk 'n' Chew."

They forgot to mention bookstores, but we know better. This summer, Shelf Awareness has occasionally featured a "Bookstore Chalkboard of the Day," highlighting booksellers who creatively occupy the sidewalks outside their stores with humor, puns, quotations, advice and bits of "shop local" wisdom. This strategy isn't new, however. Here are a few highlights from recent history:

2011: A power outage at Book Passage, Corte Madera, Calif., compelled the booksellers to "put a chalkboard out front proclaiming, 'Open Until Sundown!' "

2013: With power long restored, Book Passage created a "striking sign" promoting an appearance by legendary tattoo artist Ed Hardy.

At the Lopez Bookshop, Lopez Island, Wash., "the biggest attention-getter was a chalkboard beside the shop's front door that listed a literary question each day." Co-owner Karen Barringer told us: "It's a great conversation starter, and it's fun to see customers' excitement when they get a candy treat for answering the question correctly."

2014: The Owl & Turtle Bookshop, Camden, Maine, issued a retail storm warning July 4 via the store's sidewalk chalkboard, which noted: "Working hypothesis: Putting this chalkboard out on the sidewalk causes rain (We're 50% sure)."

"A simple message on our sidewalk chalkboard is shared (and re-shared, and shared some more) by bookstores and libraries across the country on Facebook last summer, one very warm day," Harvard Bookstore, Cambridge, Mass., recalled in its year-end highlights.

2015: Many bookstores have an artist in residence. In June, we featured the work of Madeline Gobbo of the Booksmith, San Francisco, Calif., who "illustrated the shop's sidewalk chalk board Friday to celebrate and thank the five Supreme Court justices who voted in favor of marriage equality."

These are just the tip of the chalky iceberg, of course. Buzzfeed has showcased "15 hilarious bookstore chalkboards" while asking the eternal question: "Who knew the sidewalk could be such a weird and witty place?"

There are, inevitably, dissenters. Last May, Slate's Heather Schwedel took on the chalkboard musings of bars, coffee shops, and boutiques: "Long after the printing press rendered town criers obsolete, that other ancient form of information dissemination, the sidewalk sandwich board, quietly persists.... But perhaps you too have lately noticed a certain creep away from the practical toward a softer sell: jokes, puns, quotations, drawings, and other creative expressions of branding. Too often, the results are cringeworthy."

And in June, Boston City Councilor Michael Flaherty pushed for a review of city regulations: "I think sandwich-board signs are an effective tool to encourage new business and attract pedestrians and highlight specials. But if I go out with an 8-by-10 board on my sidewalk, and then you have a little rinky-dink board next to mine, we need absolute rules for that."

The sidewalk chalkboard cannot be stopped by a little negativity, however. Chalk and slate are ancient tools; sidewalk sandwich boards date back at least to the 19th century.

In the Atlantic three years ago, Charles R. Wolfe noted that the "sandwich board" was making a comeback. "As a lawyer interested in the 'on the ground impact' of policy and regulation, I find implementation more interesting and dynamic than the actual permit criteria," he wrote. "With a return to a neighborhood base built around multi-modal street life, the images here show sandwich boards as both fascinating symptoms and emblems of the changing city.... Perhaps because of business necessity and the simple, homespun nature of sandwich boards, users assume flexible placement of such signage is appropriate."

Wolfe proposed five criteria for the viability of sandwich boards:

  1. Homespun simplicity sells.
  2. Artisans need work and small businesses need affordable ways to shine.
  3. Well done signs bring character to neighborhood.
  4. Sandwich boards can supplement permitted facade signage and increase the prominence of a small business.
  5. Perhaps most important, like other forms of pop-up urbanism, removal is an option.

In yesterday's New York Times piece, artist Tyler Patty considered the "learning curve" involved with working in chalk on a blackboard: "It's inverted, so you have to think about light in a different way--you're putting on light instead of shadow. I'm drawn to it because of that."

Art meets commerce... at downtown independent businesses. What's not to like? --Robert Gray, contributing editor (column archives available at Fresh Eyes Now)

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