Shelf Awareness for Friday, January 8, 2016

Simon & Schuster: The Lightning Bottles by Marissa Stapley

Minotaur Books: The Dark Wives: A Vera Stanhope Novel (Vera Stanhope #11) by Ann Cleeves

Soho Crime: Exposure (A Rita Todacheene Novel) by Ramona Emerson

Wednesday Books: When Haru Was Here by Dustin Thao

Tommy Nelson: Up Toward the Light by Granger Smith, Illustrated by Laura Watkins

Tor Nightfire: Devils Kill Devils by Johnny Compton


B&N Holiday Season: Core Comp Store Sales Up 1.6%

During the nine-week holiday period ended January 2, retail sales at Barnes & Noble fell 0.8%, to $1.1 billion, mainly because of lower online sales and store closures. However, core sales at stores open at least a year, excluding Nook products, rose 1.6%, for the second consecutive holiday increase. (Those sales rose 1.7% a year ago.) Including Nook sales, comp-store sales at the end of the year rose 0.6%.

Nook sales fell 25.8%, to $41.2 million. Digital content sales were $21.3 million, and device and accessory sales were $19.9 million.

"We are pleased with the performance of our bookstores during the holiday period," B&N CEO Ron Boire said. "We were also encouraged by the improved performance of during December, as the site remained stable and traffic improved through the holiday period. As we look ahead, we see further opportunities to improve the experience and increase conversion on"

B&N continues to expect that fiscal 2016 core comp sales will rise 1%, while full comp store sales will be flat.

BINC: Do Good All Year - Click to Donate!

General Retail Sales in December: Up, but Not 'Holly Jolly'

"Holiday retail sales were not particularly holly jolly, as retailers beat estimates, but posted sluggish results," Alpha Now reported. For the month of December, sales at stores open at least a year (excluding drugstores) increased 0.8% at the eight retailers tracked by Thomson Reuters, compared with analysts' projection of 0% growth and a 2.8% gain in 2015.

Graphic Universe (Tm): Hotelitor: Luxury-Class Defense and Hospitality Unit by Josh Hicks

Expansion Plans for Powell's Books

Powell's Books is signing a lease that will expand its presence on Hawthorne Boulevard in Portland, Ore., connecting the two existing locations: Powell's Books on Hawthorne Boulevard and Powell's Books for Home and Garden. The additional space at 3735 SE Hawthorne, formerly occupied by Pastaworks, increases the bookseller's combined retail footprint to more than 23,000 square feet.
According to Powell's, the renovations would integrate the three locations into one, improving customer experience and focusing on the uniqueness of the Hawthorne locations. The combined space will also offer a larger children's section and author events area. Both stores will remain open during the expansion, with the work is scheduled for completion by October 2016.
"We are extremely grateful for the opportunity to deepen our commitment to the Hawthorne neighborhood and the east side of Portland," said Powell's CEO Miriam Sontz. "The strong support from Portlanders and Hawthorne-area residents has made this investment in the future possible."

This is the second big makeover for Powell's in two years. In 2014, Powell's did an extensive renovation of its flagship Burnside store that included a new entrance, a new roof, energy-efficient windows, fresh exterior paint, additional skylights and new lighting.

Shelf Awareness Job Board: Click Here to Post Your Job

Industry Protests Disappearance of Hong Kong Booksellers

In a joint statement issued yesterday, the American Booksellers Association, the Association of American Publishers, the Authors Guild, PEN American Center and the European and International Booksellers Federation expressed "extreme concern" about the disappearance of five employees of a Hong Kong publishing company, Mighty Current, and its bookstore, the Causeway Bay Bookstore.

Lee Bo, the latest bookseller to go missing

According to reports, four of the employees disappeared in October, including the bookstore manager. A fifth employee, Lee Bo, went missing last week. Mighty Current is well-known for publishing books critical of the Chinese leadership. Mighty Current books are sold by the thousands at the Hong Kong airport and other locations, including the company bookstore in Hong Kong's Causeway Bay neighborhood. They are particularly popular with tourists from mainland China, where such books are banned.

Many believe that the publisher/booksellers have been taken into custody by the Chinese government, which is neither confirming or denying that the men are in China. Several of the men have called relatives from China.

The statement urges the Chinese government "to explain the disappearance of the Hong Kong booksellers. If they are in custody, we call for their immediate release." They also call for the U.S. government "to investigate the circumstances of these disappearances and to assist in the release of the men."

The group noted that when China regained control of Hong Kong from Great Britain in 1997, it promised to protect freedom of the press for 50 years. "The summary abduction of men who are engaged in the publication and sale of books would be a very serious violation of press freedom and would have a profoundly chilling effect on free speech in Hong Kong."

Bramble Bookstore in Viroqua, Wis., to Close

Bramble Bookstore, Viroqua, Wis., will be closing at the end of the month. On Facebook yesterday, Cheryl Allen, who purchased the store in 2014, wrote: "Unfortunately, due to a continuing 5-year decline in sales, Bramble Bookstore will be closing in its location in Viroqua on Saturday, January 31st. With summer sales down by over $10K from the previous year, we just have not been able to recover to be able to meet operating and inventory expenses going forward....

"On behalf of all four previous owners, I would like to thank our valued customers and supporters. This was not the desired outcome, but the financial burdens were insurmountable without consistent sales volume."

WH Smith Seeking New Headquarters

British bookstore chain WH Smith "is looking to stay in Swindon" and the city "will work with the company to find it a new headquarters," the Advertiser reported, noting that borough council chiefs "say they are delighted" by the decision. The company is looking to move away from its current headquarters on Greenbridge Road, where the "offices have been described as no longer fit for purpose and in a state of disrepair."

A spokesman for WH Smith said: "We can confirm that we are currently in discussion with Swindon Borough Council regarding the possibility of relocating our head office to a building that is more suitable for our needs. If our application to the council is successful we are committed to staying within Swindon. Due to the very early stage of our discussions we are unable to comment any further."

G.L.O.W. - Galley Love of the Week
Be the first to have an advance copy!
Becoming Little Shell:
Returning Home to the Landless
Indians of Montana
by Chris La Tray
GLOW: Milkweed Editions: Becoming Little Shell: Returning Home to the Landless Indians of Montana by Chris La Tray

Growing up in the 1970s, Montana Poet Laureate Chris La Tray was dimly aware of his paternal Chippewa ancestry--but his father had always rejected Indigenous identity. A series of funerals prompted him to delve into his family's history and, ultimately, to enroll in the Little Shell Tribe and join its successful campaign for federal recognition. Alternating past and present, La Tray weaves his personal experience with the wider history of Métis peoples. His book is also a love letter to Indigenous literature and Montana's natural landscapes. Daniel Slager, publisher and CEO at Milkweed Editions, noting the "beautiful flowering of writing" from Indigenous communities, was delighted to publish this "singular" work that "braids Chris's story with the history of his people, all in his inimitable voice, which is both fierce and tender." --Rebecca Foster

(Milkweed Editions, $28 hardcover, 9781571313980, 
August 20, 2024)


Shelf vetted, publisher supported


Emma Watson's 'Feminist Book Club'

Emma Watson with bell hooks.

Actress and activist Emma Watson's bookish credentials include playing Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter movies, as well as starring in film adaptions of Stephen Chbosky's The Perks of Being a Wallflower and the upcoming The Circle by Dave Eggers. Yesterday on Twitter, she announced that she hopes to launch a feminist book club called "Our Shared Self."

The name was suggested by a fan after Watson put out a call for ideas on Twitter: "I want to start a feminist book club but so far have only brainstormed 'Feminist Book Club' and 'Emma Watson Book Club.' " She then tweeted: "I am almost certain there is a more inspiring name out there.... Does anyone have any thoughts ?! #Emma'sBookClub."

Among those intrigued by the idea was U.S. women's soccer team star Abby Wambach: "Ok ladies... What shall we start reading? I think @EmWatson should decide since she came up with the brilliant idea!"

Watson offered a suggestion: "@GloriaSteinem just released a new memoir? Thought it seemed like a good place 2begin? #MyLifeOnTheRoad." She then concluded with: "Thank you to everyone who came up with ideas and suggestions. That was VERY cool of you all. More info coming soon... Xxx."

The Stacks Among '16 Must-Visit Spots in New Orleans'

The Stacks, an art bookstore featuring international publications that opened last fall, made Architectural Digest's list of "16 must-visit spots in New Orleans." AD noted that "French transplant Émilie Lamy saw a void in New Orleans--a city filled with interesting bookshops but still missing one that specialized in art and design. The Stacks is Lamy's independent bookstore based in the Contemporary Arts Center. There, she's curated a selection of 1,000 international publications on architecture, art, design, photography and more."

Decompressing from Bookseller Holiday 'Hyper-Awareness'

From an e-newsletter sent out yesterday by Brookline Booksmith, Brookline, Mass., where the "booksellers--a week into the new year, a couple of weeks after the holiday marathon--are undergoing the process of freeing ourselves from that particular December state of hyper-awareness which allowed us to simultaneously search for a good book for a twelve-year-old who's into architecture and horses, juggle two phone calls (one line is asking if we carry those snarky birds refrigerator magnets, the other needs tickets for an event in late January), bring a fresh armful of paper bags to the front register, and notice that the Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Aziz Ansari books are running low on the table, gotta get more of those when I head downstairs to giftwrap this book I found for your architecture/horse kid.... Decompression, folks."

'Passing the Inadvertent Faith in Humanity Test'

"The Christmas season is over, but we can't let go of that cheery holiday feeling without telling one last story of peace on earth and good will toward humankind," Island Books, Mercer Island, Wash., observed on the Message in a Bottle blog. There it shared a tale that began in November when "Cindy, our display maven, came up with a nifty way to highlight our 2016 calendars (still a few of those left for procrastinators, by the way). She strung a clothesline across the store and pinned a bunch of the prettiest ones to it. In the small spaces between the bigger items she hung some toys and other gifts, and in the last narrow spot she pinned a single dollar bill. Kind of a visual pun on 'money laundering' for the keenly observant, she thought." Read more here.

Personnel Changes at Hachette, Chronicle

At Hachette Book Group:

Nicole Dewey has been promoted to v-p, associate publisher, at Little, Brown. She has been v-p, director of publicity and will continue to manage Little, Brown's publicity department while also overseeing social media and public relations. She joined the company in 2010 after holding senior publicity positions at Holt and Doubleday.

Michelle Aielli has been promoted to associate publisher of Hachette Books. She has been executive director of publicity for Hachette Books and Black Dog & Leventhal for a little over a year and before that was longtime director of publicity for Little, Brown. Earlier, she held publicity positions at Basic Books, Ballantine and Morrow/HarperCollins.


Jane Manning Hyatt has joined Chronicle Books as executive director of sales. She was most recently v-p of higher education at Teachscape.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Simon Read on Winston Churchill's Reporting

CBS This Morning: David B. Agus, M.D., author of The Lucky Years: How to Thrive in the Brave New World of Health (Simon & Schuster, $27, 9781476712109). He will also appear on Fox & Friends.

Jim Bohannon Show: Simon Read, author of Winston Churchill Reporting: Adventures of a Young War Correspondent (Da Capo Press, $26.99, ISBN 9780306823817).

TV: Florida Roadkill; Behind the Mask

Sonar Entertainment plans to develop Florida Roadkill, a TV series based on Tim Dorsey's Serge Storms novels, reported. Evan Endicott and Josh Stoddard will write the adaptation and executive produce. Jennifer Eatz, Danny Davids and Neil Canton (The Shannara Chronicles), who control rights to the book, also are executive producing. Dorsey's 19th novel, Coconut Cowboy, will be released by Morrow January 26.


Simon Cowell's Syco Entertainment will develop a TV series based on Behind the Mask: Enter a World Where Women Make--and Break--the Rules, a memoir by Killing Kittens sex club founder Emma Sayle, reported. Sayle is a co-executive producer, and writer Tim Prager is consulting producer on the project.

Books & Authors

Awards: Pacific Northwest Winners

The winners of the 2016 Pacific Northwest Book Awards, sponsored by the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association, are:

Call Me Home by Megan Kruse (Hawthorne Books)
Children & Other Wild Animals by Brian Doyle (Oregon State University Press)
The Game of Love and Death by Martha Brockenbrough (Arthur A. Levine Books)
The Triumph of Seeds: How Grains, Nuts, Kernels, Pulses, and Pips Conquered the Plant Kingdom and Shaped Human History by Thor Hanson (Basic Books)
Undermajordomo Minor by Patrick deWitt (Ecco Press)
Unicorn on a Roll: Another Phoebe and Her Unicorn Adventure by Dana Simpson (Andrews McMeel)

Book Brahmin: Lisa Nichols

photo: Zyaire Porter

Lisa Nichols is the author of No Matter What! and the recurring motivational speaking coach on The Steve Harvey Show and the Today show. She is founder and CEO of the personal and business development training company Motivating the Masses. Nichols co-authored Jack Canfield's Chicken Soup for the African American Soul, as well as Chicken Soup for the African American Woman's Soul. A featured teacher in the self-help movie The Secret, Nichols teaches, coaches and lives a collection of life principles, beliefs and habits that inspire people to live better, fuller, richer lives. Her latest book, Abundance Now, was published by Dey Street Books (January 5, 2016).

On your nightstand now:

The 4 Disciplines of Execution by Chris McChesney, Sean Covey and Jim Huling and Scaling Up by Verne Harnish. I am working on myself as a business leader and interested in all things leadership. I recently engaged a new business coach, and he said that I had to have these books in my life, so I'm diving in headfirst. Thus far, they are amazing.

Favorite book when you were a child:

Everything Dr. Seuss! As a young child, I was a member of the Dr. Seuss book club and every Wednesday and Saturday, my dad would brush my hair and braid my hair while I read him book after book from Dr. Seuss's collection. Green Eggs and Ham still makes me smile when I read it to my nieces and nephews, and I actually think that I am more excited than they are.

Your top five authors:

Stephen Covey, for his prolific exploration of human potential and for the exercises in his book that led to my hunger for learning more and growing more of my mind and my possibility. He was the catalyst to my journey to success.

Howard Schultz--I actually developed a CEO crush on Howard Schultz after seeing him on Super Soul Sunday with Oprah Winfrey. His dedication to leading with integrity, spiritual awareness and authenticity moved me to tears while watching his interview. I immediately wanted to learn from him and model his conviction for doing good business by doing right by people.

Eve Hogan has been part of my library for years and I have given her book Intellectual Foreplay to at least 15 people, and have referred it to no less than 300 people. She has a very real and simple way of writing about how we find and stay in love. Her teachings are palatable and digestible, leaving me to feel like I can implement them now versus needing time to prep for the launch of loving greater and deeper.

Phil Jackson was my hero on the courts until I read his book, then he became my hero in life. His willingness to lead alone blows my mind. The way he clearly illustrates the ridicule and negative feedback that he received from his unorthodox techniques in leadership, and how he not only navigated through that but also led his team to understand the power of being different and standing in unison in the face of opposition, absolutely blows my mind each time I read his book Eleven Rings (which I've read four times).

Dr. Seuss because he opened my eyes to the world of reading and graciously made it exciting and engaging for me. As an African American child in a low-middle income household, reading was not mandated but encouraged. Dr. Seuss made it fun!

Book you've faked reading:

Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki. Everyone in my community had talked so much about it, and I am sure that it's a great book, I just never got around to it. Everyone assumed that I must have already read it so I faked like I did. Sorry, Robert!

Book you're an evangelist for:

Intellectual Foreplay by Eve Hogan. This is a book that has been a blessing in my life. Through the process that she provides in getting to know someone intellectually before advancing the relationship, I have been able, as a single woman, to have far more meaningful engagements in my relationships as I get to know someone. Since the book navigates you to move past the surface conversation to a more meaningful one, it allowed me to see some real foundational areas in my life that are non-negotiable and in many cases has helped me to steer the relationship in a direction that feels the best for both of us.

Book you've bought for the cover:

Don't Sweat the Small Stuff and It's All Small Stuff by Richard Carlson. I absolutely LOVE LOVE LOVE this title. It says so much in just one statement. Genius!

Book you hid from your parents:

All of my steamy novels written by Zane.

Book that changed your life:

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey. I was 25 years old when this book came into my life and disrupted everything as I knew it. Covey, through his book, instructed me to do an exercise that had me envision my funeral three years from the day that I was reading the book. He had me imagine what four speakers at the funeral would say about me. What kind of friend was I, what kind of daughter, sister, neighbor or co-worker was I? How did I contribute to the lives of others? How would I be remembered? This completely frightened and inspired me at the same time. I immediately began to live the story that I wanted to be said about my life. I begin to "consciously" write my eulogy through my life decisions. Life-changing to say the least.

Favorite line from a book:

"Despite the unfairness of life I have freedoms and options for which my ancestors labored and died trying to provide for me. I will let nothing hold me back." --Reposition Yourself by T.D. Jakes

Five books you'll never part with:

Intellectual Foreplay by Eve Hogan; The Audacity of Hope by Barack Obama; Onward by Howard Schultz; Eleven Rings by Phil Jackson; Reposition Yourself by T.D. Jakes

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

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey. Now 25 years later from when I first read it, I'd love to see how many concepts that were then foreign to me are now in my DNA, as well as learn new lessons that I missed the first time around.

Being in Balance by Dr. Wayne W. Dyer (for obvious reasons). I get so excited about the work that I am so blessed to do that balance in my life seems to always be the challenge. I'd love to find my personal version of balance and learn to live there as often as possible.

Book Review

Review: River of Ink

River of Ink by Paul M.M. Cooper (Bloomsbury USA, $26 hardcover, 9781632860705, January 26, 2016)

The stylus is mightier than the sword in Paul M.M. Cooper's adventurous first novel, River of Ink, set in 13th-century Sri Lanka, where the price of life is compliance with a murderous dictator.

Asanka started life as a lowly village boy but rose to the lap of luxury when King Parakrama chose him as the royal poet. Living at court, he enjoys rich food and noble company. His affair with palace servant girl Sarasi, whom he is teaching to write, has turned the wife he married before his rise in position into a bitter adversary, but he easily escapes to the palace when he tires of her berating. Then comes Magha, prince of Kalinga, with his conquering army. Asanka's beloved king is brutally murdered before his eyes, the regal queen imprisoned, all loyal members of the nobility slaughtered. Asanka expects to die as well, but the cruel Magha happens to believe in the power of poetry. Rather than kill Asanka, he commissions him to translate a holy poem from its native Sanskrit into Tamil, the language of the Sri Lankan peasants. Out of fear and a desire to protect Sarasi, Asanka agrees, but the mixture of horror and disgust he feels for the tyrant king leaks into his translation and causes him unconsciously to turn the poem's villain into a copycat of Magha. When his words become a covert rallying cry in the local villages, Asanka finds himself torn between accepting the role of revolutionary symbol and saving his own life.

The elegance of Eastern palaces, the lush flora of Sri Lanka, even the hot stink of war elephants become vivid in Cooper's hands. Identifying with unlikely, reluctant hero Asanka comes easily as Cooper uses him to convey the sense of terror and powerlessness any ordinary man would feel under the thumb of a capricious killer. While his strong sense of self-preservation and lack of heroic impulse aren't the stuff of inspiring deeds, Asanka's steadfast love for Sarasi balances his lesser qualities with human tenderness. Distributed occasionally throughout the narrative, short chapters in the voices of characters from the Shishupala Vadha and Mahabharata help familiarize readers with Krishna, Shishupal and other heroes and villains of Asanka's culture. Both an homage to classical Indian literature and a demonstration of the strength of allegory, Cooper's suspenseful South Asian adventure shows the best and worst of the human heart. --Jaclyn Fulwood, blogger at Infinite Reads

Shelf Talker: Thirteenth-century Sri Lanka springs to life in the story of a royal poet ordered to translate an epic poem for a cruel usurper.

Deeper Understanding

Robert Gray: Reading & Resolutions & Predictions! Oh My!

As we all know, resolutions and predictions are New Year's traditions with a dubious track record. Remember when you resolved that 2015 would be the year you finally read Ulysses or War & Peace or Moby Dick? How'd that work out? Remember the guy who predicted in 2002 that vinyl albums and turntables would one day make a comeback as profitable sidelines for indie bookstores? No, I don't either.

And yet, we're always ready to give hope and forecasting another shot. Can't help ourselves, really. I've been collecting some great recent examples:

Village Books, Bellingham, Wash., hosted "our always popular Resolutions Mini Workshops... with inspirational options good for everyone."

Noting that "now is the time to make a commitment to your 2016 reading life," Sarah Bagby of Watermark Books & Cafe, Wichita, Kans., wrote she had "asked a sampling of the bookstore and cafe staff for their goals for reading in 2016. Everyone had one and no two were the same. Mine is to read a set number of pages per day, and have reading glasses in my reach at all times.... Happy New Reading Year!"

Catherine Weller of Weller Book Works, Salt Lake City, Utah, shared the bookstore's goals for the new year: "We'll continue to work on finding wonderful books--be they new, used, or rare--to share with our customers. All of us booksellers will strive to read even more.... For your new year we hope you'll consider reading more, loving more, and laughing more. We also hope you'll continue to support locally-owned businesses like ours, so Salt Lake City will continue to be populated by unique, vibrant shops run by your friends and neighbors."

"I have never been good at achieving my New Year's resolutions," observed Gwenyfar Rohler of Old Books on Front St., Wilmington, N.C. "I work at them, and chip away, but usually I make longer-term commitments than one year can contain.... Somehow it took until now to understand the heart of what this has been about all along. I thought it was about jobs; turns out it was about connections, and putting people, family and community first--ahead of expectations, ahead of big business, ahead of preconceptions."

In the Spectator, Laura Freeman recalled that "last year, I made a New Year's resolution to give up my appalling Amazon habit. What with one-click ordering it had become fantasy shopping, clicking on Penguins as if they were penny sweets. I was spending hundreds of unthinking pounds--and never visiting the bookshops I claimed to cherish. And I have stuck to it. With only one shameful lapse, I have bought my books in bookshops. What a joy it has been."

Several authors shared their reading resolutions with the Guardian, including Ted Dawe: "There is one thing I plan to do differently this year. I am sending galley proofs of my new novel to teen readers (15 of them) to get feed back and critique. I want to get a sense of what they like or don't get before I complete my final publication copy."

The Huffington Post's Jillian Capewell advised how to make non-intimidating reading resolutions, including: "If you live near even a mid-sized city with a library or bookstore, chances are there's an author visiting you soon. While visits from huge names even your mom will recognize (David Sedaris, Elizabeth Gilbert, etc.) are few and far between, there are plenty of authors with more modest followings that hold readings for recently released books. Research one who sounds intriguing and make yourself go--at worst, you got out of the house, and at best, you've found a new book to take home (and an author you can say you saw way back when)."

Digital Book World featured "10 predictions for 2016":

  • Continued regrowth of print sales.
  • Increased focus on export sales.
  • Amazon spending some time under the radar.
  • The middle to continue to diminish with more consolidation.
  • Picking up a Penguin; keep an eye on Pearson.
  • Increasing Chinese influence.
  • Publishers taking advantage of licensing opportunities.
  • New English language partnerships.
  • Book fair evolution and the emergence of the micro-fair.
  • Struggle for subscription but steady digital sales.

Carolyn Kellogg considered "6 book trends for 2016" in the Los Angeles Times:

  • Books are back. Print books, that is.
  • The Star Wars effect
  • If you can't read George R.R. Martin, join him.
  • Long-form nonfiction is in peril.
  • Independent presses bring the vanguard.
  • It's a big, diverse world.

We'll be keeping score because predictions sometimes fade to obscurity in retrospect: "It wasn't too long ago that pundits were saying that printed books and bookshops were on the way out," Tim Godfray, CEO of the U.K.'s Booksellers Association, told the Bookseller recently. "This is now absolutely not the case. It has been really heartening to see booksellers showing such entrepreneurship and creativity in extremely challenging trading conditions."

For New Year's perspective, however, Emöke B'Racz of Malaprop's Bookstore, Asheville, N.C., summed it up best: "I may seem like I've already plunged headfirst into next year, but I have not even faced the fact that 2015 will be passing into 2016 imminently. I wish that we all may keep our hearts open, joyful and peaceful to meet the challenges of everyday life as it unfolds for every one of us. As we say in Budapest: B.U.É.K !!!!" --Robert Gray, contributing editor (column archives available at Fresh Eyes Now)

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