Shelf Awareness for Thursday, March 3, 2016

Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers: She Gets the Girl by Rachael Lippincott and Alyson Derrick

Grove Press: Reptile Memoirs by Silje Ulstein, translated by Alison McCullough

Beach Lane Books: The Great Zapfino by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Marla Frazee

Princeton University Press: Twelve Caesars: Images of Power from the Ancient World to the Modern (Bollingen #669) by Mary Beard

Berkley Books: Our Last Days in Barcelona by Chanel Cleeton

Henry Holt & Company: Sleepwalk by Dan Chaon

Wednesday Books: Together We Burn by Isabel Ibañez

Editors' Note


B&N Third Quarter: Sales Slip; Profit Doubles

In the quarter ended January 30, sales at Barnes & Noble fell 1.8%, to $1.4 billion, and net earnings on continuing operations rose 105.9%, to $80.3 million, or $1.04 a share, two cents below an average of analysts' estimates.

Retail sales, which include Barnes & Noble stores and, fell 1.2%, to $1.4 billion, mainly because of "lower online sales and store closures." Sales at stores open at least a year rose 0.2%. Core comp-store sales, excluding Nook products, rose 1.3%. Nook sales fell 33.3%, to $51.7 million, mainly because of "lower device and content sales." Nook losses declined as the company "continues to focus on cost rationalization efforts."

B&N CEO Ron Boire said that the comp-store core retail sales growth of 1.3% was "led by the continued strength of adult coloring books, as well as our Toys & Games, music and gift businesses."

B&N closed "the least amount of stores since fiscal 2000," he continued, and it will "introduce our new store concept later this year, with the opening of four new stores throughout fiscal 2017."

B& needs "significant work" to improve sales, Boire said, but, "we are encouraged by the site's improved performance during the quarter and are making investments to drive traffic and sales. I am also pleased with the progress that has been made to reduce Nook losses. We remain committed to providing a great digital reading experience to our customers, while exploring all opportunities to further reduce losses. Moving forward, our top priorities are growing bookstore and online sales, reducing Retail and Nook expenses and growing our membership base."

The company continues to predict that for fiscal year 2016, comp-store sales will be flat and that core comp-store sales excluding Nook products will rise 1%.

Chronicle Books: Have You Ever Seen a Flower? by Shawn Harris

AAP Sales: October Fall

In October, total net book sales fell 5.2%, to $958.6 million, representing sales of 1,205 publishers and distributed clients as reported to the Association of American Publishers. For the first 10 months of 2015, total net book sales were down 2.8%, to $12.8 billion.
For the first 10 months of the year, adult books were up 2.6% and children's/YA were down 5.3%. E-book sales were down 12.3% for the first 10 months of the year, dragged down by a children's e-book sales drop of 44.7% for the period.

Ingram Booklove: An Exclusive Rewards Program for Indie Booksellers

ABA Unveils New Localism Toolkit

Following up on New Localism, a major theme of Winter Institute 11, the American Booksellers Association has created an online resource for its members to help them make the case about the importance of localism and the terrible effect of Amazon and other online retailers on communities across the country.

Called the New Localism Toolkit, the resource includes FAQs and talking points about New Localism; consumer pieces that can be printed or used online; tips on speaking with the media and public officials; sample letters to send to officials; a sample press release; links to other relevant information and media coverage; links to the ABA's new Antitrust Action Kit; and more.

The toolkit will be featured at each of the nine ABA Spring Booksellers Forums as part of the new education session "Indie Bookstores and the New Localism: What You Can Do."

In a related effort, the ABA has also launched a consumer page, spotlightamazon, that provides additional resources for customers looking for more information about Amazon's growth and impact on communities. The page already features the Civic Economics study "Amazon & Empty Storefronts," which was presented at WI11 and details the huge cost alone in lost state and local sales tax and property taxes--estimated at over $1 billion in 2014 alone--that has resulted from Amazon's expansion.

Berkley Books: Harlem Sunset (A Harlem Renaissance Mystery) by Nekesa Afia

Robert A. Walton Named NACS CEO

Robert A. Walton

Robert A. Walton has been named the new CEO of the National Association of College Stores, effective July 1. He replaces the Brian E. Cartier, who has headed NACS for 18 years and announced his retirement in March 2015.

Since 2013, Walton has been v-p for finance and administration at Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, N.Y., where his responsibilities included the campus store. He was instrumental in revamping and relocating the store, which involved rehabbing a historical movie house next to the campus and adding a point-of-sale system that allowed the store to offer dynamic textbook pricing, which dramatically reduced Vassar student purchases from online booksellers. The 5,700-square-foot retail space is a showcase for Vassar and serves the Poughkeepsie community as well as the college.

Earlier, Walton was CEO of the Claremont University Consortium, the coop that shared institutional support services to the seven Claremont Colleges of Claremont, Calif.; chief financial and business officer for the College of Wooster, Wooster, Ohio; executive v-p and CFO of Innovative Interfaces, a supplier of information technology to universities and municipal governments; and CEO of CLSI, an information technology software, service and database company.

"Bob is a proven leader with business vision and broad experience in higher education management, IT, finances and strategic planning," said NACS board president Anthony Martin, director of the Houston Baptist University Bookstore in Houston, Texas. "His strong track record in coalition building and his deep understanding of the non-academic services and functions that support higher education institutions will be an incredible asset to NACS and its members as we continue to evolve the role of the campus store. Bob's knowledge of store operations, and his success running IT and library science companies will help guide our members as the industry transitions to digital learning content formats, such as courseware, open educational resources, and adaptive learning."

Walton commented: "Having served as a college business officer and executive with nine higher education institutions on both coasts, I know first-hand the vital role that the college store plays in both academic and student life, and in elevating the brand of the institution. I look forward to joining others in telling and promoting this important story."

For Sale: Seattle's Open Books Poetry Bookstore

Open Books: A Poem Emporium in Seattle, Wash., has been put on the market by co-owners John Marshall and Christine Deavel, a store that Seattle Review of Books yesterday called "an absolute treasure, and it's a necessary fixture in Seattle's literary scene." (Shelf Awareness highlighted the shop's communal events last year.)

In an e-mail to "Friends of Open Books," Marshall wrote: "It is with mixed feelings that I tell you I will retire from bookstore ownership sometime this year. This spring will mark the 21st anniversary of Open Books as a poetry-only bookstore, as well as mark the 29th anniversary of my owning Open Books, which started life as a small general bookstore with a large poetry selection. Christine and I have built what we could and now are running out of the initiative to maintain and improve it.

"What will happen to the bookstore? We don't know. We would like to have it carry on, so we will pursue selling the store--its stock, its name, and perhaps a reasonable lease, since Christine and I own the building. There is considerable evidence that independent bookstores are having a resurgence in this country and that the sales of actual books will not sink beneath the waves of the e-book, an unimaginably freakish future some people somehow imagined."

Noting the transition "need not happen quickly," Marshall wrote that "the decision was not based on economics or health. Open Books will remain open regular hours, we will continue to order books and hopefully you will continue shopping here. By continuing to shop here you can be a partner to the store's changing hands. We will seek new ownership for up to four months. If by the end of June new ownership does not appear possible, we will look towards other options."

Crossroads Books Hit with Surprise Eviction Notice

Crossroads Books, Watsonville, Calif., faces eviction from its Crossroads Shopping Center location at the end of the month. On Facebook Tuesday, Kelly Pleskunas, who has owned the bookshop since 2010, posted: "It is with a sad heart that we must tell you we were issued a 30 DAY eviction notice on Monday, February 29, 2016! It came as a complete surprise and shock to Crossroads Books, Trop-Aquarium, Wild Rose Artist's Supplies, Arcadia's Hair Salon, Jansen Music, Queen's Shoes, & possibly other tenants when we received registered letters informing us we have until March 31st to vacate the premises. Kaiser Permanente will be coming to Watsonville and using this location."

Pleskunas also said she "is beyond thankful to all our customers who have kept us open as 1 of the 2 full range bookstores in Santa Cruz County!" The bookshop plans to close March 19, but "will be diligently looking for another location to reopen in June."

The Register-Pajaronian noted that Pleskunas has weathered the challenges of economic recession, e-book growth and online ordering by providing community service to the city she loves.

"South County is important to me," she said. "The place deserves a bookstore.... I am not closing permanently. I will look for another space and try to resurrect, which is difficult for a small bookstore."

Pleskunas told the Santa Cruz Sentinel: "To expect these established businesses to be out in 30 days is absolutely heartless."

Amazon Adds First Texas Campus Pickup Point

Amazon plans to open Amazon@UT Austin, one of its staffed package pickup points, on the University of Texas at Austin campus this summer. The 2,509-square-foot space will be located in Gregory Gymnasium.

Since last year, Amazon has opened staffed pickup locations at Purdue University, University of Massachusetts Amherst and University of California, Berkeley, as well as in the college communities of University of California, Santa Barbara and University of Cincinnati. the online retailer also has confirmed agreements to open two more locations in 2016 with the University of Pennsylvania and the University of California, Davis.


Image of the Day: A Theme of Breakthroughs

Author Nancy L. Cohen (r.) and Librarian of Congress nominee Dr. Carla Hayden, CEO of the Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore, Md., at the Ivy Bookshop in Baltimore, celebrating Cohen's new book, Breakthrough: The Making of America's First Woman President (Counterpoint).


Houston's Katy Budget Books 'Withstood the Test of Time'

Katy Budget Books, Houston, Tex., "has withstood the test of time--staying open for more than 30 years while other independent bookstores closed," the Chronicle noted in a profile of owner Tamra Doré, who "stumbled onto Katy Budget Books in 1983 and two weeks later quit her accounting job to buy the business."

"You can't get better than dealing with books all day," said Doré, who was a CPA on a visit to a client in Katy when she first saw the bookshop. "Of course, I stopped into visit. I was book-crazy. I have been for all of my life." She told the owner: "You're doing what I've always dreamt of doing one day. If you ever decide you don't want to do it anymore, I would appreciate you giving me a call." Two weeks later, an offer came.

"The bookstore didn't even have a sign up," Doré recalled. "All they had was a bunch of books. It was a pretty big leap of faith. I quit a job making decent money to open a book store that grossed $4 a day." More than three decades later, she said, "It's wonderful. You can't get better than dealing with books all day."

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Jay Williams on Wendy Williams

The Chew: Laura Prepon, co-author of The Stash Plan: Your 21-Day Guide to Shed Weight, Feel Great, and Take Charge of Your Health (Touchstone, $26, 9781501123092).

Wendy Williams: Jay Williams, author of Life Is Not an Accident: A Memoir of Reinvention (Harper, $26.99, 9780062327987).

Trailer and Tie-In for New Roots

The first official trailer for the History Channel's new adaptation of Alex Haley's Roots is up on YouTube. The series will air in four parts over consecutive nights at 9 p.m., starting Monday, May 30, Memorial Day. It will also appear on A&E and Lifetime.

The cast includes Forest Whitaker, Anna Paquin, Laurence Fishburne, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Anika Noni Rose, Derek Luke, Tip "T.I." Harris, Mekhi Phifer, and Malachi Kirby as Kunta Kinte and Rege Jean Page as Chicken George. Questlove of The Roots serves as executive music producer. Each episode has a different director: Mario Van Peebles (Ali), Philip Noyce (Patriot Games), Thomas Carter (Coach Carter) and Bruce Beresford (Tender Mercies).

Da Capo will publish a tie-in edition of Alex Haley's book ($18.99, 9780306824852) on May 3.

This Weekend on Book TV: In Depth with Jane Mayer

Book TV airs on C-Span 2 this weekend from 8 a.m. Saturday to 8 a.m. Monday and focuses on political and historical books as well as the book industry. The following are highlights for this coming weekend. For more information, go to Book TV's website.

Saturday, March 5
7:30 p.m. Michael Doyle, author of The Question of Intervention: John Stuart Mill and the Responsibility to Protect (Yale University Press, $40, 9780300172638). (Re-airs Monday at 4 a.m.)

9 p.m. Sonia Shah, author of Pandemic: Tracking Contagions, from Cholera to Ebola and Beyond (Sarah Crichton Books, $26, 9780374122881), at Politics & Prose Bookstore in Washington, D.C. (Re-airs Sunday at 5:45 p.m.)

10 p.m. E.J. Dionne Jr., author of Why the Right Went Wrong: Conservatism From Goldwater to the Tea Party and Beyond (Simon & Schuster, $30, 9781476763798). (Re-airs Sunday at 9 p.m.)

11 p.m. John Steele Gordon, author of Washington's Monument: And the Fascinating History of the Obelisk (Bloomsbury, $27, 9781620406502), at Kramerbooks and Afterwords in Washington, D.C.

Sunday, March 6
12 p.m. Live In Depth q&a with Jane Mayer, author of Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right (Doubleday, $29.95, 9780385535595). (Re-airs Monday at 12 a.m. and 3 a.m.)

10 p.m. Ed Boland, author of The Battle for Room 314: My Year of Hope and Despair in a New York City High School (Grand Central, $26, 9781455560615), at Book Culture in New York City.

11 p.m. Daniel Oppenheimer, author of Exit Right: The People Who Left the Left and Reshaped the American Century (Simon & Schuster, $28, 9781416589709).

Books & Authors

Awards: Scottish Children's Book; B&N Discover

Winners were announced for the 2016 Scottish Children's Book Awards, the country's largest book prize for children's authors and illustrators, with each winner receiving £3,000 (about $4,220), the Guardian reported. The contest is voted for exclusively by children. This year's category winners are:

Bookbug Readers (age three to seven): Simon Puttock for Mouse's First Night at Moonlight School, illustrated by Ali Pye
Younger Readers (age eight to 11): Ross MacKenzie for The Nowhere Emporium
Older Readers (age 12-16): Danny Weston for The Piper


Mia Alvar's In the Country (Knopf/Vintage) and Jill Leovy's Ghettoside: A True Story of Murder in America (Spiegel & Grau) have won this year's Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers Awards. Each writer receives $30,000 and a full year of marketing and merchandising support from the bookseller.

Finishing in second place ($15,000 each) were Angela Flournoy's The Turner House (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) for fiction and George Hodgman's Bettyville (Viking) for nonfiction. Third-place awards of $7,500 went to Sophie McManus for The Unfortunates (Farrar, Straus and Giroux) for fiction and Amy Ellis Nutt for Becoming Nicole: The Transformation of an American Family (Random House) for nonfiction.

Attainment: New Titles Out Next Week

Selected new hardcover titles appearing next Tuesday, March 8:

The Waters of Eternal Youth by Donna Leon (Atlantic Monthly Press, $26, 9780802124807) is the 25th mystery featuring Commissario Guido Brunetti.

The Travelers: A Novel by Chris Pavone (Crown, $27, 9780385348485) is a thriller about a travel writer caught up in international espionage.

Clawback by J.A. Jance (Touchstone, $25.99, 9781501110726) continues the Ali Reynolds mystery series.

The Selected Letters of Laura Ingalls Wilder by William Anderson and Laura Ingalls Wilder (Harper, $26.99, 9780062419682) collects letters from the author of the Little House series.

Love, Loss, and What We Ate: A Memoir by Padma Lakshmi (Ecco, $26.99, 9780062202611) is the memoir of the TV chef and food writer.

Spill Simmer Falter Wither by Sara Baume (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $23, 9780544716193) is a debut novel about an outcast and his one-eyed dog.

When Women Win: EMILY's List and the Rise of Women in American Politics by Ellen R. Malcolm and Craig Unger (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $28, 9780544443310) explores the political organization dedicated to getting more women into elected office.

Conspiracies of the Ruling Class: How to Break Their Grip Forever by Lawrence B. Lindsey (Simon & Schuster, $26, 9781501144233) advocates less government power.

Sprint: How to Solve Big Problems and Test New Ideas in Just Five Days by Jake Knapp and John Zeratsky (Simon & Schuster, $28, 9781501121746) gives a process for quick decision making.

The Sellout by Paul Beatty (Picador, $16, 9871250083258).

The EveryGirl's Guide to Cooking by Maria Menounos (Zinc Ink, $22, 9780804177146).

The Young Messiah, based on the novel Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt by Anne Rice, opens March 11. A movie tie-in (Ballantine, $16, 9780399594779) is available.

IndieBound: Other Indie Favorites

From last week's Indie bestseller lists, available at, here are the recommended titles, which are also Indie Next Great Reads:

Sweetgirl: A Novel by Travis Mulhauser (Ecco, $26.99, 9780062400826). "When her addict mother goes missing, Percy James is determined to find her before a winter storm descends upon their rural Michigan town. When Percy arrives at the drug dealer's house, the smells and clutter don't surprise her, but the discovery of a screaming infant does. Percy grabs the child and sets out to find help for her, no matter what the cost. Determined to save this little girl, Percy takes risks she never thought she could assume, and through the journey she finds she can save herself as well. Fans of Ron Rash will fall in love with Percy in Mulhauser's debut!" --Teresa Steele, Old Firehouse Books, Fort Collins, Colo.

The Forgetting Time: A Novel by Sharon Guskin (Flatiron Books, $25.99, 9781250076427). "Psychologist Dr. Jerry Anderson is literally losing his mind--aphasia is taking away his memory and his ability to communicate--when he is introduced to the severe behavior problems of four-year-old Noah. From the few clues, it seems Noah has lived a previous life. Anderson fights to keep his lucidity long enough to complete this final investigation of his career, trying to make sense of this young boy while also attempting to make sense of his own life. A compelling, dynamic, and intriguing debut novel." --Allen Murphey, Joseph-Beth Booksellers, Cincinnati, Ohio

Get in Trouble: Stories by Kelly Link (Random House, $16, 9780812986495). "Short stories often get ignored in favor of longer works, but that's a mistake when an author is as talented as Kelly Link! Not only are her stories beautifully, exquisitely written, each one is as different from each other as they are from anything else on the bookshelves. She writes about the future, both near and far, and a present day that's stranger than anything I've ever known. But at the heart of all her stories are relatable characters who yearn for love and security. If you are in the mood for mystical, moody stories that you can finish in 20 minutes, but think about for hours, Get in Trouble is perfect!" --Lauren Peugh, Changing Hands Bookstore, Tempe, Ariz.

For Ages 4 to 8
The Plan by Alison Paul, illustrated by Barbara Lehman (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $17.99, 9780544283336). "It's hard to believe so much action can happen in a book only written with words that begin with the letter 'p,' but author Paul makes it so. There is a plan with a plane that involves planets. And don't forget your pants! This one is perfectly playful and 'peautiful' in every possible way!" --Jessilynn Norcross, McLean & Eakin Booksellers, Petoskey, Mich.

For Ages 9 to 12
The Adventures of Miss Petitfour by Anne Michaels, illustrated by Emma Block (Tundra Books, $17.99, 9781770495005). "I love these whimsical stories from Michaels and the lovely full-color illustrations from Block! Sweet and endearing with just the right touch of fanciful adventure, this is perfect for cat-lovers of all ages and especially those young readers with an interest in writing down their own adventures." --Johanna Albrecht, Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill, N.C.

For Teen Readers
Need by Joelle Charbonneau (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $17.99, 9780544416697). "What do you need? The students at Nottawa High School are asked this question when they join an exciting new social networking site created just for them. Some ask for phones. One asks for better grades. One asks for more winter break. Kaylee asks for a kidney for her brother. Little does she know that her request sets in motion a chain reaction that will have catastrophic consequences for her and her friends. Need will redefine how you look at social networking and have you asking, What do I really need? You need to read this book!" --Carolyn Roys, Anderson's Bookshop, Naperville, Ill.

[Many thanks to IndieBound and the ABA!]

Book Review

Review: The Summer Before the War

The Summer Before the War by Helen Simonson (Random House, $28 hardcover, 9780812993103, March 22, 2016)

In the summer of 1914, Beatrice Nash arrives in Rye, East Sussex, to take up a post as Latin teacher at the local grammar school. Sharply intelligent and fiercely independent, she has spent years as her professor father's assistant and amanuensis, enjoying more independence than many single women of her generation. But her father's death has left Beatrice at the mercy of vindictive relatives who control the income he left in trust for her, and she must balance her grief with the new necessity of earning her bread. Helen Simonson (Major Pettigrew's Last Stand) paints a lyrical, sensitive portrait of a young woman and a country on the brink of cataclysmic change in her second novel, The Summer Before the War.

Simonson draws her readers in with descriptions of Rye, a quiet country town teeming with local intrigue. Beatrice finds herself at the center of controversy almost immediately, since her appointment is the source of a spat among several town leaders. Under the wing of the formidable but kindhearted Agatha Kent, her staunchest supporter, Beatrice begins to find her way in Rye. She rents a modest cottage, takes in a young female refugee from Belgium, and begins tutoring three local boys in Latin, including "Snout," a proud, reserved Gypsy boy who shows great promise. Agatha's beloved nephews, Hugh and Daniel, quickly become Beatrice's friends. Sober, hardworking Hugh is on his way to becoming a respected London doctor, while charming, bohemian Daniel dreams of moving to Paris to found a literary journal. The outbreak of war on the Continent changes their plans dramatically, and Beatrice and the citizens of Rye struggle to make their way in a newly somber world.

As in Major Pettigrew, Simonson's skill is best displayed in her keen observations about daily life: witty aphorisms such as "Despair had a way of making tea taste bad," and subtly resonant truths, such as the fact that "lovely afternoons do not survive the chill of dusk." Such sentences, like the novel itself, work on multiple levels, but Simonson's compassion and humor keep her prose from feeling heavy-handed. Many of the characters, like Beatrice's grouchy landlady and the gossipy local society women, are comic figures, while others, like Hugh and Snout, are quietly heroic. All of them are vividly portrayed.

"It is the unexpected note that makes the poem," Daniel tells Hugh toward the end of the book. Simonson's novel is full of unexpected notes, which combine to form a harmonious, deeply moving and--yes--poetic whole. --Katie Noah Gibson, blogger at Cakes, Tea and Dreams

Shelf Talker: Helen Simonson's second novel paints a sensitive, witty, luminous portrait of England at the outbreak of World War I.

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