Shelf Awareness for Monday, December 14, 2015

Gallery/Scout Press: Island Rule: Stories by Katie M. Flynn

Minotaur Books: The Rumor Game by Thomas Mullen

Tordotcom: The Dead Cat Tail Assassins P. Djèlí Clark

Shadow Mountain: The Queen and the Knave (Proper Romance Victorian) by Sarah M. Eden

Andrews McMeel Publishing: The Wheel of the Year: An Illustrated Guide to Nature's Rhythms by Fiona Cook, illustrated by Jessica Roux

Quotation of the Day

'Make Your Own Rules'

"Running a retail store has many challenges: inventory control, overhead costs, employees, competition, etc. I'm no business guru by any means, but assuming you have a measure of business acumen and a proven product, those challenges can be met. The next level of success, however, comes from firstly enjoying what you do and then providing a level of service unattainable by your competitors. Throw away the corporate rule book of what you can or can't do in a workplace and make your own rules. If you can deliver a book at 8 p.m. in Squamish, do it."

--Dan Ellis, owner of Armchair Books in Whistler, B.C., in a q&a with the Whistler Question

Flatiron Books: The Bad Ones by Melissa Albert


Once Upon a Book Opens in Plattsburgh, N.Y.

Amanda McCarty (l.) and Lori Titherington-Raville (photo:

Once Upon a Book, which "aims to help parents share a love of reading with their children," is now open in an 800-square-foot space at 8 City Hall Place in downtown Plattsburgh, N.Y., the Press-Republican reported, adding that the location "required little renovation" and "retains the original walls--brick on the south side and stamped tin on the north side and ceiling. Hardwood floors add to the charm." Once Upon a Book focuses on titles for children and young adults, as well as sensory-development toys and tools designed for those with special needs.

"I've always loved children's bookstores," said Lori Titherington-Raville, co-owner of the shop with Amanda McCarty. "I wanted it to be cozy. When I come to work, I feel almost like I am at home."

Soho Crime: My Favorite Scar by Nicolás Ferraro, translated by Mallory Craig-Kuhn

Bookstore Sales Jump Again, Up 6.9% in October

October bookstore sales rose 6.9%, to $747 million, compared to October 2014, according to preliminary estimates from the Census Bureau. This was the second month in a row that sales rose nearly 7%. For the year to date, bookstore sales have gone up 1.2%, to $8.9 billion.

Total retail sales in October rose 1.8%, to $445 billion. For the year to date, total retail sales have risen 2.1%, to $4,361 billion.

Note: under Census Bureau definitions, the bookstore category consists of "establishments primarily engaged in retailing a general line of new books. These establishments may also sell stationery and related items, second-hand books, and magazines."

AuthorBuzz for the Week of 09.25.23

BAM Boom: Bookseller Once Again Privately Owned

It's official: Books-A-Million is once again a privately held company.

The deal, under which the Anderson family (who founded BAM), senior management and a few others bought the approximately 41.8% of the company they didn't own already, closed on Thursday. That followed the special shareholders meeting Tuesday at which two-thirds of those 41.8% shares were voted in favor of the measure.

As a result, the company's stock is no longer traded on the NASDAQ Global Select Market, and BAM no longer has registration and reporting obligations with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

In related moves, independent directors Ronald G. Bruno, Ronald J. Domanico and Edward W. Wilhelm--a former Borders executive--resigned from the board. (Wilhelm and Domanico made up the special committee of independent directors that evaluated the Anderson family offer and approved it.) At the same time, Terrance G. Finley, who continues as CEO and president of the company, and Joel R. Anderson joined the board. Clyde B. Anderson continues as executive chairman of the BAM board and as a director of the company, and Terrence C. Anderson continues on the board.

Calling the purchase price of $3.25 a share--which was 93% higher than the company's share price when the deal was first announced in January--"a fair value," Clyde B. Anderson said, "I am excited to lead the company into the next phase of its history. The transaction returns the company to private ownership in a way that allows us to focus on our customers, suppliers, employees, and the communities we serve."

A New Chapter for Key West Island Books

When the proprietor of Key West Island Books decided to close the store this past spring, intending to shutter the Florida island's last remaining bookshop, longtime employee Suzanne Orchard bought the business. "I can't live in a town that doesn't have a bookstore," she said. "Plus I didn't want to work anywhere else."

Orchard had worked for two different owners over the course of a decade and even ran the shop for a year and a half after the sudden death of Marshall Smith, who originally hired her. When the last owner confided his plans to sell and offered her the store, "it was the absolute worst time" for Orchard to consider buying it. Her husband, Paul, a chef, had been out of work with a broken leg, and finances were tight. But facing the liquidation of the store, a 40-year Key West fixture, she decided to take the leap--a decision that came with sacrifices. Paul sidelined his dream of opening his own restaurant so they could buy the bookstore.

Located a block off Duval Street, the city's main commercial thoroughfare, the store does brisk business with vacationers and cruise ship passengers and also has a strong following among residents.

The store is chock-full of new, used and rare books covering nearly every inch of space. National bestsellers are steadily popular with vacationers, in particular page-turners by James Patterson, Gillian Flynn and other thriller writers, and suitcase-friendly paperbacks sell much more abundantly than hardcovers. Since buying the store in May, Orchard has been focusing on increasing sales of books with a local connection, ones that customers won't find everywhere else.

"People can get books anywhere now. You can read a book on your phone. There is free stuff out there. There are so many ways to get books," said Orchard. "When tourists come in and want something different, I have a lot to show them."

Key West Island Books owner Suzanne Orchard with Jon McIntosh, island resident and illustrator of The Adventures of Angus and Edmond by Gunna Dickson.

Books on Key West history, traditions and lore are among the store's top sellers. A display near the entrance showcases titles like David L. Sloan's The Key West Key Lime Pie Cookbook, which combines recipes and anecdotes about the island's signature dessert, and Tutu: The (Almost) Hemingway Cat, a children's picture book. Another prominently placed display features books by Key West and South Florida authors, while a floor-to-ceiling wall section is devoted to the most famous writer ever to call Key West home: Ernest Hemingway. (Orchard's recommendation for those who have never cracked the spine on one of Papa's tales is The Old Man and the Sea.)

Two of the titles Orchard expects to sell well this holiday season are both mysteries set in Key West. Tom Corcoran's Crime Almost Pays features a pair of rookie investigators first introduced in The Quick Adiós, the most recent mystery in his Alex Rutledge series. With several years in between publications, customers have been clamoring for Corcoran's latest and turned out for signed copies when he appeared at the store last Friday.

Alibi for Evil by Michael Haskins is the latest in a series centering on Mick Murphy, a former journalist who crime-solves his way through Key West, stopping off at island landmarks like the Schooner Wharf Bar along the way. Haskins will be at Key West Island Books for a signing on December 18.

Around the time she took over the store, Orchard had the idea to move excess inventory by creating a display offering discounted titles priced at $6.98 each. She then decided to use it for a good cause. A friend had hosted a benefit for Orchard and her husband when he broke his leg, which inspired her to do something similar for two members of the community. For several weeks all proceeds from sales of the books in the display went to help those friends facing unexpected medical costs. It's something that Orchard, a 24-year Key West resident, will consider doing again in the future should there be a need.

The week between Christmas and New Year's is traditionally the store's busiest, due in part to annual visitors stocking up on local-interest titles published during the previous year. Orchard has had people e-mail and call her after they've returned home from a Key West visit to thank her for book recommendations. Some customers making repeat trips to the island no longer pack reading material and just show up at the store asking her to make selections for them.

Although nearly seven months have passed since Orchard officially took over Key West Island Books, "it was only recently that I walked through on the way out and said, 'Goodnight, my little store,' and realized that it's really mine," she recalled. "I had a lot of pride in it just when I worked here, and I felt like I treated it like it was my own. And now it actually is." --Shannon McKenna Schmidt


Image of the Day: Cash Mob Hits Women & Children First

Last Thursday, Chicago's Publishing Cocktails organized a cash mob at Women and Children First, which is marking its first full year under new owners Sarah Hollenbeck and Lynn Mooney

From 6-7 p.m., approximately 35 people shopped and chatted before heading across the street to Simon's Tavern. Attendees included authors, publishing folks, publishers' reps and other booksellers.

Store manager Jamie Thomas said, "It was such a huge success all around. I really enjoyed seeing all the people that I meet at events throughout the city in our store talking about our books. It was fun to feel more like a director of traffic, as we would show someone where a book was and they would then handsell it to a friend and I would say, 'I concur!'

"For that hour and a half, versus the period last year, we were up 320%! We did as much business in that hour as we do many full Thursdays during October. We doubled our total receipts from last year, so I think the cash mob really drove traffic for the entire day."

Co-owner Sarah Hollenbeck added, "It was a huge success. We saw many new faces in the store, but also had the chance to reconnect with plenty of old friends. Within the first 20 minutes, I was able to schedule a 'Mystery Night' with two local authors for this coming March! That is definitely the fastest and most efficient author event booking I've ever accomplished."

Publishing Cocktails is a roving get-together of Chicago bookselling and publishing pros organized by Keir Graff, editor of Booklist Online and an author, and Javier Ramirez, manager of the Book Table in Oak Park, Ill.

Indies Among Yelp's '50 Great Local Shops in the U.S.'

"When you're looking for a special gift, heading to a large box store doesn't feel quite right," Buzzfeed noted in showcasing "50 great local shops in the U.S. for finding the perfect holiday gift." User review and recommendations service Yelp "pulled data to rank the highest rated businesses in various shopping categories--including antiques, arts and crafts, clothing, books, pop-up shops, toy stores--that had at least 15% of their reviews mention the word 'gift,' " Buzzfeed wrote.

Among the indie booksellers included were Paper Skyscraper in Charlotte, N.C. ("carries much more than books."), Oxford Exchange in Tampa, Fla. ("a bookstore and meeting space"), Brookline Booksmith in Brookline, Mass. ("a cozy, independent local bookstore"), and Changing Hands Bookstore in Tempe and Phoenix, Ariz. ("Two of Changing Hands' bookstores made Yelp's list of the top 50 shops").

Cool Idea of the Day: The Book Pedlar

"Working with former bookstore owner of Clerkenwell Tales, based in London, England, we developed a mobile bookstore on a bicycle that would allow for great books to infiltrate the streets," the National Design Collective wrote in describing the genesis of the Book Pedlar. "We started our project with a Classic No. 33 Pashley cargo bicycle and a compressed one-month timeline from design and build. Our objectives were simple: to design something friendly and appealing that would attract people, allow customers to browse and explore content, as well as facilitate the selection and purchase portion of the retail cycle."

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Doris Kearns Goodwin on Colbert's Late Show

The Daily Show: Andy Cohen, author of The Andy Cohen Diaries: A Deep Look at a Shallow Year (St. Martin's Griffin, $15.99, 9781250078506).

The Late Show with Stephen Colbert: Doris Kearns Goodwin, author, most recently, of The Bully Pulpit: Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and the Golden Age of Journalism (Simon & Schuster, $22, 9781416547877).

TV: Now You See Her; Red Mars

CBS is developing Now You See Her, based on the book by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge. reported that Blue Bloods executive producer Siobhan Byrne O'Connor is writing the adaptation and executive producing with Patterson, Bill Haber, Bill Robinson and Leopoldo Gout. CBS TV Studios, where James Patterson Entertainment has a first-look deal, is the studio.


Spike TV has given a 10-episode straight-to-series order to Red Mars, based on Kim Stanley Robinson's bestselling science fiction trilogy. The show will premiere in January 2017. reported that the series "had been on fast-track development at Spike since the network took in the project last fall with HBO's Game of Thrones co-executive producer Vince Gerardis as executive producer and Robinson as consultant. Babylon 5 creator J. Michael Straczynski was then brought in to write and executive produce the adaptation."

"The heart and soul of Red Mars is about humanity," said Sharon Levy, Spike's executive v-p, original series. "This group of strangers must find a way to live together and survive under the most daunting conditions mankind has ever faced to become the first living generation of Martians."

Books & Authors

Awards: Jane Yolen Mid-List; Young Writer of the Year

The winners of the 2015 Jane Yolen Mid-List Author Award, sponsored by the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, are Karen Coombs, author of Woody Guthrie, America's Folk Singer; and Sallie Wolf, author/illustrator of The Robin Makes a Laughing Sound: A Birder's Journal.

The grant, which gives $3,000 to mid-list authors to honor their contribution and help raise awareness about their current works-in-progress, was created and is funded by children's book author Jane Yolen, who said she "wanted to give back to my peers and that's how the Mid-list Award was born. It's not a great deal of money, but it's a love note of recognition. SCBWI and I are saying, 'Please know that we love your books. We need your books. We remember your books. Don't quit. Write more.' "


British poet Sarah Howe won the Sunday Times/Peters Fraser + Dunlop Young Writer of the Year Award for Loop of Jade. Andrew Holgate, award judge and literary editor at the Sunday Times, said the decision was unanimous and described the debut collection as "a work of astonishing originality, depth and scope. Her luminous poetry explores her dual heritage (her father is English and her mother Chinese) and different eras of Chinese culture, juxtaposing these with her own personal experiences. She is a writer always conscious of language; these are poems that are sensuous, subtle, and full of immediacy and resonance."

Book Review

Review: And Again

And Again by Jessica Chiarella (Touchstone, $25.99 hardcover, 9781501116100, January 12, 2016)

While novels such as Kazuo Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go have taken a clone's-eye view of replicating human bodies for medical use, Jessica Chiarella's debut looks at an intriguing variation on the theme. If medical science could create new "blank slate" bodies for the sick and incapacitated, the story posits, what consequences would come with transferring into one?

In the near future, a medical study randomly selects four terminally ill patients as test subjects for the world's first full-body transplants. Hannah the artist and David the congressman both were near death from cancer. Connie the actress had an aggressive strain of AIDS. Paralyzed in a car crash, wife and mother Linda spent eight years unable to move any part of her body except her eyelids. In a revolutionary clinical trial, doctors implanted cross sections of their brains into new bodies, grown from versions of their DNA with the diseases deleted. Delivered from death's door back into the arms of their loved ones, everything is different--and yet, nothing has changed. Hannah thinks her fiancé, Sam, and older sister, Lucy, who once dated and remain close, have a secret about the last days of her illness. David thought a new body would free him from his bad habits, chiefly smoking and philandering, but finds himself itching for a cigarette and yearning for Hannah instead of his wife. Now that she has her physical beauty back, Connie feels alienated from the film industry that quit valuing her when she lost it. Linda returns to a lukewarm welcome from her children, who were babies when she had her accident, and immediate requests for more children from the husband she isn't sure she still loves. Leaning on each other with varying degrees of success, the four patients stumble into futures they never expected to have.

Readers looking for a hardcore sci-fi experience with plenty of technical detail should look elsewhere. Chiarella leaves aside practical explanations to focus on the moral and psychological ramifications of the transfer procedure, and makes the scientifically shaky assertion that the transfer patients can no longer perform familiar tasks such as knitting or painting because their new hands do not know how, even though that information would be in the brain.

Minor reservations aside, Chiarella provides a finely nuanced look at four people whose return to the living feels miraculous but provides no magical answers or happy endings in the long run. The body transfer serves easily as allegory for any major life change; we are called upon in life to remake ourselves at some point. Strength and resilience abound in this deeply felt debut. --Jaclyn Fulwood, blogger at Infinite Reads

Shelf Talker: Four terminally ill patients have their consciousnesses transferred into healthy duplicate bodies and must navigate the wreckage of their old lives.

Wicked Son: Adam Unrehearsed by Don Futterman
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