Shelf Awareness for Monday, April 11, 2016

Simon & Schuster: Fall Cooking With Simon Element

Tor Nightfire: Devils Kill Devils by Johnny Compton

Shadow Mountain: Highcliffe House (Proper Romance Regency) by Megan Walker

Simon & Schuster: Register for the Simon & Schuster Fall Preview!

Avid Reader Press / Simon & Schuster: The Ministry of Time Kaliane Bradley


Regulator to Authors: Come Help Fight HB2

In an open letter building on last Friday's letter from Linda-Marie Barrett of Malaprop's Bookstore/Cafe asking that authors not boycott North Carolina because of its new discriminatory law, HB2, Tom Campbell, co-owner of the Regulator Bookshop, Durham, N.C., suggests a program whereby some proceeds from author appearances in North Carolina indies could go to efforts to fight the law and for equal treatment generally. (And he hopes that Sherman Alexie and Bruce Springsteen will reconsider their decisions to cancel events in the state!)

Tom Campbell

We have not (yet) had any authors cancel their appearances at the Regulator because of HB2. But I understand that many people may be reluctant to come to North Carolina now, lest their visit be interpreted as supporting this discriminatory law. Yet it would be sad indeed if one of the effects of this legislation was to diminish the number and strength of voices speaking out here for openness, inclusion, fairness and non-discrimination.

I'd like to suggest that it would be better to come here, speak the truth, and support those of us in North Carolina who are fighting against these bigoted, unjust social policies. It occurs to me that one way to further that end is to offer major authors the opportunity to designate their events with us as special "Liberty and Justice" events. A portion of the author's and bookstore's proceeds from "Liberty and Justice" events will be donated to the North Carolina ACLU and the North Carolina Justice Center, two organizations that are fighting HB2 and that have long been fighting for equal treatment for everyone, under the law.


We ask other independent bookstores in our state to join us in this effort and sponsor their own "Liberty and Justice" events, all across the state.

So to authors (and rock stars) we say: Don't let the North Carolina Legislature scare you away. Come on down here and get in their face! Help fire up the troops, here on the ground. Be a thorn in their side, not a silent, empty space.

Sherman and Bruce, I hope you guys hear this. You have long been major heroes of mine, and it would be a thrill to hear that you are coming back to North Carolina; coming after HB2 and its ill-spawned ilk.

BINC: Do Good All Year - Click to Donate!


Nourry: 'Books Successfully Ridden First Digital Wave'

Speaking yesterday at the International Publishers Association Congress in London, Arnaud Nourry, chairman and CEO of Hachette Livre, parent company of the Hachette Book Group, struck an optimistic tone about the book industry, noting that Hachette was born in 1826 and parts of it date back even earlier. Perhaps only the wine and food industries are led by companies older than Hachette, he said.

Arnaud Nourry

"The process of making wine remains basically the same since the Romans started producing it: the search for a soil, a climate and grapes, and the technique of transforming grape juice into a sophisticated beverage have remained unchanged," he continued. The book business is similar in many ways: "The search for a text, a meeting between the creator and a publisher, and then the hard work of transforming the raw material into a readable project and object haven't changed much, either."

But, he went on, "Nobody is asking questions about the future of wine, so why can't we stop agonizing about the future of books?"

Books, he said, have "proven, again and again, their staying power in the face of the social, economic and technological transformations that have affected the world since books were invented more than 500 years ago and particularly in the last 10 years." He added that the "only other unsurpassed human artifact I can think of that goes back further than the book is the wheel. Or perhaps the spoon. Is anyone organizing conventions about the future of spoons and wheels?"

In the modern digital age, books are all the more important, he continued, because they "are not about communicating." Nourry explained: books' "indifference to the reactions they produce is precisely what makes them so precious in an online world where no statement or opinion goes unchallenged. E-mails and tweets, no matter how personal or viral when sent and read, are very quickly forgotten, driven into oblivion by a new fad or a new wave of controversy."

By contrast, books can "linger in a reader's mind for decades" and can be relied on in a way few other works can be.

Nourry noted the widespread predictions of the demise of the printed book made "as recently as five years ago," and said that e-books now account for about 10% of overall Hachette sales and 20%-25% of sales in the U.S. and U.K. That percentage is shrinking because of the leveling out of the base of e-reading devices; the end of the heavy discounting period, which he called "the e-books bubble"; and "the lack of high enough perceived added value for readers beyond the price point."

He said he believed the book industry is the only media industry to have "successfully ridden the first digital wave." As for future digital change, he predicted that "the best is yet to come," particularly in digital education, where publishers are "best positioned" to move that business forward. In print on demand, too, book publishing hasn't reached its full potential.

Still, Nourry noted "serious clouds on the horizon," particularly the European Commission's "senseless attack on copyright." If it offers "vast exceptions" to copyright law to "libraries, for education, for fair use," then the European Commission could dramatically hurt publishers and make for a major change in threats.

"We all have some problems with Amazon," he said, "but all things considered, I would say that Google is the player the most likely to pose a clear and present danger to our industry. By now, the millions of books they have scanned without our consent make up the world's largest virtual library. If the European Commission caves in to the demands of their proxies, what's to stop them from defining themselves as a library and making all those books available for free on a non-profit basis?"

Nourry also expressed concern about new IPA member China, "where some disturbing developments have been taking place recently," apparently referring in part to the kidnapping last year of five Hong Kong publisher-booksellers who published and sold books critical of the Chinese government and Communist Party.

He concluded, "Books have always been at the forefront of the battle for freedom, democracy and progress, and throughout history, many governments has been tempted to suppress or exploit them. Which is why we publishers must, more than ever, make sure our voice is being heard, for we do not speak only for our industry. We speak for authors and their work, and that huge responsibility is what sets the business of publishing apart from all there is and makes it so special." --John Mutter

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

The Book Shelf in Winona, Minn., to Close

The Book Shelf, Winona, Minn., will close April 21. In his announcement, owner Chris Livingston wrote: "It has been a wonderful experience being your independent bookseller for the past 14 years, and I wish it were possible to continue to be. We wouldn't have made it this far without the endearing support of our diehard customers, and I cannot tell you how important you have all been to me and my family.

"I don't know what is in store for me next, but whatever it is, it will pale in comparison to the wonderful job I have had 'slinging' books to all of you.... Mari and I would like you to know how dear you have all been to us since we opened our doors in our space on Huff Street. You've been there watching our kids grow up in the store, and helped us make the big move downtown. You've been there with us through tough economic times, and shared our love of books. Here's to all of you, and may you always have a great book waiting for you."

Livingston told the Winona Daily News that since he announced the decision last Thursday, a steady stream of loyal customers had come to the store to express their sympathy. "It's been about as emotional a last 48 hours as I've ever had in my life," he said, adding that the decision to close didn't come easily, but his business had been suffering for some time. "Keeping the business afloat these last couple of years has been very difficult. The load on my family was just too much."

He also praised the avid community that grew around the store: "I knew their families, I knew the names of their kids. It is a much more personal interaction, and when you do a good job, you pick the right book, you often end up with a bond.... That was the hardest thing for me, when I was trying to decide what to do. Right up until the end, I was trying to figure out how to save it."

GLOW: Workman Publishing: Atlas Obscura: Wild Life: An Explorer's Guide to the World's Living Wonders by Cara Giaimo, Joshua Foer, and Atlas Obscura

Allan Gurganus on his 'North Carolina State of Mind'

Allan Gurganus

In a New York Times op-ed piece Saturday headlined "My North Carolina State of Mind," author Allan Gurganus wrote that "last month our Republican Legislature rolled back the autonomy of all the state's town councils, all gay-and-trans rights" with the passage of the HB2 law. "So it's been tough to love our beloved North Carolina these past few weeks. Then something made it even harder: Nancy Olson died.

"We lost Nancy, our state's best-loved independent bookseller, on Easter Sunday, and buried her at a crowded funeral on Thursday. The subtraction would be painful at any time. But now especially, we feel this sudden vacuum.... Her store had the cheer of a maintained bulletin board. Nancy presided, salon hostess, den mother. Her white hair she kept in bangs. Nancy Olson was a Unitarian Universalist Grace Paley. Her laugh created other laughs. She sensed when to demonstrate, when to smile, when to try both. Nancy retained even her most far-right customers, hoping they'd 'get over themselves' and come around. She and Jim guarded a space where the very outsiders our legislators seek to scare from public toilets always felt valued, welcomed....

Nancy Olson

"Nancy also practiced the art of 'hand selling.' This was a political act, and unlike the gender-inspecting of all public bathroom users, it proved a generative one. Nancy didn't just point her reader to a shelf; no, she set the perfect volume into that customer's very mitt. Nancy's hand selling often involved intervention: Taking a bad book out of a customer's clutch, replacing it with something better, with a work more ambitious, spiritual, more beautifully wrought.... If she were alive, we'd be asking what we always asked her: 'Nancy? What should we read now? Quick, Nancy: Given the opposition, what should we do next?'

"Nancy's death seems like another legislative mistake. We need more such forthright guides to books and life. In a world turned cyanide cynical, belief grows more precious, more powerfully colorful. Where are people whose clarion ethics so shape their taste? 'Good' in both cases. How singular and pivotal one book dealer can be in a North Carolina that now seems run for and by Charlotte's D+ mediocrities. Where are 10,000 other folks willing to come out and say: 'Respect is better than hate. Love always outranks enemy making. And this book, unlike that lazy escapist junk you picked first, is a great book. Read it. Then come back and I swear I'll send you to 40 more this good or better. Trust me? You can trust me.'

"If only."

Harpervia: Only Big Bumbum Matters Tomorrow by Damilare Kuku

Hachette, Kadokawa Create Yen Press Joint Venture

Hachette Book Group and Kadokawa Corporation, a major Japanese publisher, are creating a new venture that will join Hachette's Yen Press imprint with Kadokawa. Kadokawa will own 51% of the joint venture and Hachette 49%. The agreement is expected to close by the end of the month, at which time Yen Press will become Yen Press LLC.

Founded in 2006, Yen Press specializes in manga and light novels, and publishes a range of titles, including English translations of Japanese titles, manga adaptations of novels by Hachette authors like James Patterson and Stephenie Meyer, and original manga developed at Yen Press. The joint venture is expected to combine Hachette's strengths in manga publishing, distribution, sales and marketing and enable Yen Press and Kadokawa to maximize book publishing and anime distribution (through Kadokawa's expertise in the anime marketplace), while also seeking to expand e-book distribution.

Hachette CEO Michael Pietsch said the new partnership "will further strengthen our Yen Press brand, and allow us to leverage Kadokawa's superb reputation in both manga and light novel genres, as well as their digital distribution and anime platforms." He added that Yen will continue to be headed by Kurt Hassler, "who has built the publishing program to where it is today"; he will be promoted from publisher of the imprint to managing director and publisher of the new venture.

Hassler noted that Yen and Kadokawa have worked together since the imprint's founding and said, "I can't think of another instance in the manga field in this market where leading publishers from Japan and the U.S. have pooled their resources in a true joint venture of this nature, and with the demand for manga and light novels already exploding, the possibilities seem endless."

Masaki Matsubara, representative director and president of Kadokawa, said his company "considers the North American market as the most important international market for the company alongside the Greater China market and Southeast Asia where we have existing business presence, and are therefore profoundly pleased to have the opportunity to begin a joint venture partnership with a company of HBG's stature."

Obituary Notes: William L. O'Neill; E.M. Nathanson

William L. O'Neill, an "admired and provocative 20th-century historian who examined America's political radicals and its not always wise behavior in war," died March 29, the New York Times reported. He was 80. His dozen books include The Last Romantic: A Life of Max Eastman, Coming Apart: An Informal History of America in the 1960s, The New Left: A History, and A Democracy at War: America's Fight at Home & Abroad in World War II.


E.M. Nathanson, whose bestselling 1965 novel The Dirty Dozen "became the basis of one of the most enduring, if preposterous, World War II movies to come out of Hollywood," died April 5, the New York Times reported. He was 88. His other books include A Dirty Distant War, The Latecomers, It Gave Everybody Something to Do (with Louise Thoresen), Knight's Cross (with Aaron Bank) and Lovers and Schemers.


Image of the Day: Alida Brill at Bluestockings

Last week, at the New York City launch of her new book, Dear Princess Grace, Dear Betty: The Memoir of a Romantic Feminist (Schaffner Press), at Bluestockings, Alida Brill (l.) was joined by author and activist Robin Morgan.

'Romantic Small Town with a Thrilling Literary Touch'

"Road-trip-worthy" Boonsboro, Md., has "small-town flair" worthy of a spring drive "to a town that's also the base for a best-selling romance and thriller author who has put down roots, including an elegant inn for literary lovers," the Washington Post Magazine noted in a feature on author Nora Roberts, her husband, Bruce Wilder, and son Dan Aufdem-Brinke, who "are prominent business owners in Boonsboro. They employ some 100 people in a population of 3,460. The family's businesses include a craft brew pub, an arts and crafts gallery and the crown jewel, the Inn BoonsBoro."

Wilder operates Turn the Page Bookstore, which "features an excellent collection of Civil War-related books, novels by Roberts, as well as under her pen name J.D. Robb, and organic coffee drinks. Several book signings with Roberts and other nationally known writers are held each year and draw hundreds to the area."

Bookstore Display of the Day: British Mystery Invasion

Nice coincidental timing: on the eve of the London Book Fair, Poisoned Pen Press's British Library Crime Classics from the Golden Age of British crime fiction land at Warwick's, La Jolla, Calif.

Book Trailer of the Day: Death Is Stupid

Death Is Stupid by Anastasia Higginbotham (The Feminist Press at CUNY), the second book in the Ordinary Terrible Things series.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Hamilton on CBS This Morning

CBS This Morning: Julie Lythcott-Haims, author of How to Raise an Adult: Break Free of the Overparenting Trap and Prepare Your Kid for Success (Holt, $27, 9781627791779).

Fresh Air: Charles Bock, author of Alice & Oliver: A Novel (Random House, $28, 9781400068388).

Diane Rehm: David Kessler, author of Capture: Unraveling the Mystery of Mental Suffering (Harper Wave, $27.99, 9780062388513).

Tavis: Michael Waldman, author of The Fight to Vote (Simon & Schuster, $28, 9781501116483).

Dr. Oz: Jennifer Arnold and Bill Klein, authors of Think Big: Overcoming Obstacles with Optimism (Howard, $26, 9781501139277). They will also appear tomorrow on Live with Kelly and Michael.

PBS Newshour: Lesley Stahl, author of Becoming Grandma: The Joys and Science of the New Grandparenting (Blue Rider, $27, 9780399168154).

Late Show with Stephen Colbert repeat: Shirley MacLaine, author of Above the Line: My Wild Oats Adventure (Atria, $24, 9781501136412).

Today Show: Toni Tennille, co-author of Toni Tennille: A Memoir (Taylor Trade, $21.95, 9781630761745).

CBS This Morning: Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jeremy McCarter, authors of Hamilton: The Revolution (Grand Central, $40, 9781455539741).

Tavis: Amy Goodman, co-author of Democracy Now!: Twenty Years Covering the Movements Changing America (Simon & Schuster, $26, 9781501123580).

Diane Rehm: Michael Puett and Christine Gross-Loh, authors of The Path: What Chinese Philosophers Can Teach Us About the Good Life (Simon & Schuster, $24.99, 9781476777832).

The Real: Jon Cryer, author of So That Happened: A Memoir (NAL, $27.95, 9780451472359).

Meredith Vieira: Bethenny Frankel, author of I Suck at Relationships So You Don't Have to: 10 Rules for Not Screwing Up Your Happily Ever After (Touchstone, $16, 9781451667424).

Live with Kelly and Michael: Gwyneth Paltrow, author of It's All Easy: Delicious Weekday Recipes for the Super-Busy Home Cook (Grand Central, $35, 9781455584215).

Movies: The Corporation; Queen of Katwe

Paramount "has prevailed in a seven figure deal to develop a movie out of The Corporation: An Epic Story of the Cuban American Underworld" by T.J. English, Deadline reported, noting that the deal was sold based on a 100-page proposal for the book, which will be published in winter 2017 by Morrow. Benicio Del Toro is attached to star, while David Matthews, a writer on the HBO series Vinyl, will adapt.


Disney "has given the Lupita Nyong'o chess drama Queen of Katwe an awards-season release date with a limited launch on September 23, followed by a September 30 expansion," Variety reported. The film adaptation of The Queen of Katwe: A Story of Life, Chess and One Extraordinary Girl's Dream of Becoming a Grandmaster by Tim Crothers is directed by Mira Nair (Monsoon Wedding) from a screenplay by William Wheeler (The Hoax). The cast also includes David Oyelowo and Madina Nalwanga.

Books & Authors

Awards: Jackson Poetry; Pat Conroy Southern Book

Will Alexander won the $50,000 Jackson Poetry Prize, presented by Poets & Writers magazine annually to "an American poet of exceptional talent who deserves wider recognition." The judges noted that Alexander's work "seems shaped according to Arthur Rimbaud's insistence that 'the poet makes himself a seer by a long, prodigious, and rational disordering of all the senses.' In Alexander disordering the senses involves an intimacy that perceives the textures of the natural world, and an openness that perceives the vastness of the cosmos.... It is tempting to label Alexander a surrealist or experimentalist, but he is truly a singular voice. Ultimately, his poetry is rooted in a belief in the transformative powers of language."


The Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance has determined finalists for the 2016 Pat Conroy Southern Book Prize (formerly known as the SIBA Book Award). Finalists, which were chosen by southern independent booksellers from a longlist ballot, will be sent to juried panels of booksellers who will choose winners in each category. They will be announced July 4, "Independents Day." Check out the Pat Conroy Southern Book Prize shortlist here.

Book Review

Review: Zero K

Zero K by Don DeLillo (Scribner, $27 hardcover, 9781501135392, May 3, 2016)

In novels like Underworld and White Noise, Don DeLillo has served as a kind of literary sentinel, on the lookout for intelligence to carry back from the borderlands of our civilization. Zero K, his 17th novel--a serious reflection on the subject of cryonics--is an equally unsettling dispatch from that shadowy zone.

The prospect of immortality has always tantalized the human mind. It plays out here at an installation called the Convergence, located in a remote area of Kyrgyzstan, where billionaire financier Ross Lockhart has helped underwrite the creation of an elaborate scientific complex devoted to preserving the dying and someday resurrecting them. His second wife, Artis, an anthropologist, soon will die of complications of multiple sclerosis and is scheduled to undergo the cryopreservation procedure.

Ross invites his son, Jeffrey, a skeptic drifting through his 30s, to witness what the latter comes to believe is "science awash in irrepressible fantasy." When Jeffrey learns that Ross may be planning his own premature departure, the discovery dredges up painful memories of his father's abandonment and his mother's death. In conversations with prophet-like characters he knows only as the Monk and Ben-Ezra, Jeffrey comes to understand the philosophical underpinnings of the Convergence. The "elements of planetary woe" these enigmatic men describe are reinforced by apocalyptic scenes of war, fires and floods projected on screens throughout the facility.

The notion of supercooling ailing bodies, intending to bring them back in a distant future when cures may exist for their terminal illnesses, exudes an aura of presumption tinged with absurdity, but DeLillo makes it feel plausible. In a world afflicted by terrorism, looming environmental catastrophe and technological change that's accelerating at an almost incomprehensible pace, there must be people who would choose an exit on their own terms, with the vague hope of returning to something better, over awaiting extinction amid what they believe is chaos. Ross, for one, dreams that he will "reawaken to a new perception of the world," and that he will be "reborn into a deeper and truer reality," leaving us to wonder, with Jeffrey: "Were these people deranged or were they in the forefront of a new consciousness?"

"The defining element of life is that it ends," observes one of the principals of the Convergence. In this intriguing novel, Don DeLillo trains his intense and singular vision on a future where people with the imagination and resources to achieve it may succeed in rewriting that definition. --Harvey Freedenberg, attorney and freelance reviewer

Shelf Talker: Don DeLillo explores the world of cryonics.

The Bestsellers

Top Book Club Picks in March

The following were the most popular book club books during February based on votes from more than 120,000 book club readers from more than 39,000 book clubs registered at

1. The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
2. A Man Called Ove: A Novel by Fredrik Backman
3. All the Light We Cannot See: A Novel by Anthony Doerr
4. Circling the Sun: A Novel by Paula McLain
5. The Lake House: A Novel by Kate Morton
6. The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry: A Novel by Gabrielle Zevin
7. The Life We Bury by Allen Eskens
8. The Girl on the Train: A Novel by Paula Hawkins
9. Ordinary Grace: A Novel by William Kent Krueger
10. At the Water's Edge: A Novel by Sara Gruen

Rising Stars:
The Swans of Fifth Avenue: A Novel by Melanie Benjamin
My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante

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