Shelf Awareness for Monday, April 18, 2016

Sourcebooks Jabberwocky: Blue Baboon Finds Her Tune by Helen Docherty, illustrated by Thomas Docherty

Farrar, Straus and Giroux (Byr): Don't Look Back: A Memoir of War, Survival, and My Journey from Sudan to America by Achut Deng and Keely Hutton

Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers: A Wilderness of Stars by Shea Ernshaw

Mandala Publishing: The Journey: Big Panda and Tiny Dragon by James Norbury

Simon & Schuster: Defend Banned Books

Simon & Schuster: Defend Banned Books

Blackstone Publishing: River Woman, River Demon by Jennifer Givhan

Quotation of the Day

'Discover Quirky, Smart Stuff'

Nina Barrett

"What we are about is a place where you can discover stuff that is quirky, that is smart, stuff that everybody isn't reading.... We're counting on being eccentric and interesting. We don't want downtown Evanston to feel like a mall."

--Nina Barrett, owner of Bookends and Beginnings, Evanston, Ill., in a Daily Northwestern article about the store's event featuring Matt Cunningham, co-author of "Amazon and Empty Storefronts: The Fiscal and Land Use Impacts of Online Retail," the ABA-Civic Economics study introduced at the Winter Institute in January.


Orbit: Ruination: A League of Legends Novel by Anthony Reynolds


Bookstore Sales Jump in February, Sixth Gain in a Row

Bookstore sales in February rose 7.2%, to $732 million, compared to February 2015, according to preliminary estimates from the Census Bureau. This marked the sixth consecutive month that bookstore sales have risen, following a gain of 3.8% in January, a jump of 9.6% in December, rises of nearly 7% in September and October, and 7.5% in November.

For the year to date, bookstore sales have risen 4.8%, to $2.1 billion.

Total retail sales in February rose 6.9%, to $412.3 billion. For the year to date, total retail sales have risen 3.9%, to $812.5 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."

GLOW: Harper Celebrate: How Am I Doing?: 40 Conversations to Have with Yourself by Dr. Corey Yeager

Merritt Bookstore, Millbrook, N.Y., Reopens After Renovations

The newly renovated Merritt Bookstore.

The Merritt Bookstore, Millbrook, N.Y., reopened on Saturday in its permanent location after two months of renovations that included raising the ceilings, removing an office section and adding about 400 square feet of space, the Poughkeepsie Journal reported.

Owner Kira Wizner, who purchased the store last November, told the newspaper, "We really opened up the place and changed the lighting. We also built in some book shelves in addition to the ones that were already here." The store had a pop-up location during the renovations.

Merritt's Bookstore had been owned for more than 30 years by Scott Meyer, who died last year.

G.P. Putnam's Sons: All I Want for Christmas by Maggie Knox

Kickstarter Campaign for Stories in Brooklyn, N.Y.

Stories: A Children's Bookshop + Storytelling Lab, which is opening in Park Slope in Brooklyn, N.Y., this spring, has launched a Kickstarter campaign that has already raised more than $14,000 of its $25,000 goal. The campaign is running for 24 more days.

Maggie Pouncey and Matt Miller

Owners Maggie Pouncey and Matt Miller will sell books and art and writing supplies for children and teens and offer creative writing workshops for children. They plan to do something to celebrate Independent Bookstore Day on April 30 but warn that "our bookshop may not quite yet resemble one on that date!"

Stories is located at 458 Bergen Street, "a stone's throw from the bustle of the Barclays Center" but on "a quintessential tree-lined Brooklyn block, with many thriving small businesses."

Supplementing the owners' personal savings and a small business loan, proceeds from the Kickstarter campaign will go to helping pay for the costs of opening Stories. These include further developing "the look of Stories as well as our website"; finalizing architects' plans; finishing the buildout of the space; installing custom bookshelves; as well as help to "order our opening inventory, pay the rent, turn on the lights and hire our teachers and booksellers!"

Kepler's Honored with Sustainability Award

Sustainable San Mateo County recognized Kepler's Books, Menlo Park, Calif., with one of three 2016 Sustainability Awards "for its efforts in rebranding the 61-year-old institution as a community gathering space, as well as for sharing its successful business model with other independent bookstores around the nation and beyond," the Daily News reported.

Adrienne Etherton, Sustainable's executive director, said Kepler's is "addressing all of the different pieces of the puzzle. It's an organization that's in a tough industry... that really speaks to the economics, but you also have the social justice aspect with increasing wages. I also like the democratically run nature of Kepler's." Sustainable praised the store's nonprofit, Peninsula Arts & Letters, which "offers lectures, panel discussions, on-stage interviews and educational workshops with a goal of supporting lifelong learning and literacy"; and noted that CEO Praveen Madan shares his "open-source" business model with other bookstores.

Madan said he was "very pleasantly surprised" to learn Kepler's had won the award, adding that he receives inquiries from other bookstores "once or twice a month... about how the nonprofit model is working... I do sense that at the grassroots level, there's a fair amount of interest at finding new models." He added that the bookstore is "in a solid place and doing very well" in 2016, and he expects to "fully launch the nonprofit" by filing for tax-exempt status for Peninsula Arts & Letters and finalizing its board of directors this year, the Daily News wrote. 

Notes from London, Part 2

Less than two weeks after the Perseus sales closed--Hachette bought the company's publishing operations and Ingram bought its distribution business--there was a lot of interchange among the three stands at the London Book Fair last week. Staff mixed freely, some Perseus staffers wore Ingram badge holders, and everyone spoke positively about the sales.

One of our favorite moments was at a Perseus/Ingram booth party, seeing Ingram's John Ingram and Hachette's Michael Pietsch speaking tête-à-tête.


"Creating a beautiful space for customers to shop in is incredibly important," said Farah Taylor, the buyer and manager of Alef Bookstore in London. Alef, named for the first letter in the Arabic alphabet, sells books in English and Arabic and is part of a chain that has more than 30 locations in Egypt. Taylor spoke at a Booksellers Association seminar on creating beautiful bookshops.

"Even more paramount is how you lay out your store to encourage people to purchase," she continued. "You don't have to have every single genre. I think gone are the days of bookshops that contain every genre under the sun. When space is at a premium you have to think carefully about what will sell. Having a selection that caters to your market is key."

Libreria interior (photo: Selgas Cano)

At the same seminar, Sally Davies, the director of Libreria, a new bookshop in eastern London, said that she and her team display books thematically rather than by genre, with the one concession to convention being that one side of the store is all fiction and the other is all nonfiction. Part of the selling point, she explained, is the enhanced sense of discovery and serendipity.

"Amazon does do a good job at a particular thing, which is giving you what you already know you want," said Davies. Bookshops, however, can help customers discover "what you don't know you want." Online and on Amazon, she continued, users end up getting caught in annoying recursive loops and "end up burrowing down into [their] own set of interests" rather than expanding their boundaries.

Davies also said that while she and her staff adjust Libreria's inventory over time based on what the community wants, she is hesitant to become too data driven, because "you bring yourself into conformity with everything else."

And due to the store's unconventional layout, Davies added, it is imperative that booksellers know the stock inside and out.


"More and more, fathers are increasingly buying books as gifts for their sons," said Andre Breedt, international director of Nielsen Book Research, during a Booksellers Association seminar called Sourcing and Using Information to Help You Run a Better Bookshop.

"They still buy fewer books than mothers buy for their children, but they are buying more than they have in recent years," noted Breedt. When buying books, fathers tend to be impulse buyers. They also tend to buy game guides and other "debatably self-improving" titles for their sons.


Christine Gordon, event coordinator for Readings Books, Music and Film in Melbourne, Australia, said that after a decade of planning and running events, she can usually predict which events drive the most book sales. At off-site events, maybe one in 10 people will buy the book, while about one in three buy the book at an author event that's held in store. She said she imagined this is the case with off-site events because there may be some extra travel costs or logistical concerns. The major exception, she noted, is large off-site events where purchase of the book is required.

During the same session, which presented a number of case studies of book fairs and literary festivals, Gordon argued that bookstore events can sometimes have wide-reaching effects. A huge Harry Potter launch party 10 years ago, she recalled, bolstered Readings' business and helped drive out a Borders that had opened across the street. And in 2011, a panel about the under-representation of women in Australian publishing, book reviews and literary prizes held on International Women's Day led, two years later, to the creation of the Stella Prize, an annual literary award for Australian women writers.


"The more engaged the author is, the more likely the book is going to get funded," said John Mitchinson, the co-founder of the crowdfunding publishing platform Unbound, during a panel discussion at the London Book Fair on Tuesday, when asked what sorts of books generally do better with crowdfunding. "Broad, difficult, challenging literary novels," he added, typically have a harder time than books written by people who already have large followings.

The panel, entitled The Wisdom of the Crowds: Crowdfunding and Crowdsourcing, also featured Jan Kasprzycki-Rosikon, the managing director of Polish crowdsourcing company MillionYou, and Enrique Parilla, CEO of the Spanish crowdfunding platform Pentian. Angus Phillips, director of the Oxford International Centre for Publishing Studies, served as moderator.

Broadly speaking, said Parilla, "fiction and self-help are the genres that work best," but he has noticed that "the books that fund fastest are those with a very small audience." As an example, he pointed to a book on the history of classical marching bands in Spain that was funded in days. "There are only 180 people interested in that [subject]," joked Parilla, "but all 180 of them put money in that book."

Mitchinson later added that he was "very keen" on the potential for crowdfunding platforms to address issues of underrepresentation in the traditional publishing industry. "I see that as a massive opportunity for crowdfunding," said Mitchinson. --Alex Mutter and John Mutter

Obituary Notes: James Cross Giblin; John Ferrone

Children's nonfiction author James Cross Giblin, "whose books ranged from topics like cutlery and why we use it, windows and why we have them, and walls and why we need them to clear-eyed biographies," died April 10, the New York Times reported. He was 82. Giblin also was a legendary editor, beginning at Criterion Books in the late 1950s, and in the 1960s moving to Seabury Press, where he founded and became the publisher of the children's imprint Clarion Books, which was later acquired by what is now Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Giblin's Chimney Sweeps won the National Book Award. His many other books include How We Invented Knives, Forks, Spoons & Chopsticks, & the Table Manners to Go with Them; The Life and Death of Adolf Hitler; Good Brother, Bad Brother: The Story of Edwin Booth & John Wilkes Booth; The Rise & Fall of Senator Joe McCarthy; and When Plague Strikes: The Black Death, Smallpox, AIDS.


John Ferrone, an editor "who shepherded Alice Walker's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Color Purple into print, encouraged Anaïs Nin to publish her erotic fiction, and served as James Beard's dining and cooking companion and literary executor," died April 10, the New York Times reported. He was 91.

Ferrone spent more than 35 years in publishing in a variety of editorial roles, beginning at Dell before moving to Harcourt, Brace & World (later Harcourt Brace Jovanovich), where he remained until his retirement in 1990. The Times noted that he "acquired several out-of-print books by Virginia Woolf for publication by a Harcourt paperback imprint and was the American editor of the much-admired Virginia Woolf: A Biography, originally published in England, by her nephew Quentin Bell." He also edited The Collected Stories of Eudora Welty, which won the National Book Award for paperback fiction in 1983.


Image of the Day: Prospective Booksellers

During the workshop retreat Owning a Bookstore: The Business Essentials, facilitated by the Bookstore Training Group of Paz & Associates, co-sponsored by the American Booksellers Association, and held earlier this month, 12 book industry trainers shared best practices of bookstore retail management with prospective and existing booksellers from Maine to Washington. 
Pictured: (back row, left to right) Jay Jackson, Margaret Lane, Mary Patterson, Kim Elting, Ralph Peeples, Helen LaCroix; (middle row) Susan Spencer, Christine Janikowski, Cassie Clemans, Lynn Quintrell, Amanda Mosser, Becky Jackson, Tina Fricano; (front row) Pam Pescosolido, Beth Stroh, Debbie Cohen, Julia Spencer, Megan Bell, Josh Niesse; and in front, trainers Donna Paz Kaufman and Mark Kaufman.
The next Paz & Associates workshop is scheduled for August 23-26, in Franklin, Mass. An Unlikely Story, the striking new bookstore owned by bestselling author Jeff Kinney (Diary of a Wimpy Kid series), will serve as the host bookstore. For details, click here.

Bluebird Books, Hutchinson, Kan., Takes Flight

The Midwest Independent Booksellers Association visited Bluebird Books, Hutchinson, Kan., "a beautiful bookstore, cafe, and event space" founded in 2012 by Melanie Green.

MIBA called Green's branding "powerful. The store's iconic bluebird logo is featured everywhere, painted on the book-delivery bike, cut into the beveled edges of her metal bookcases, stenciled on the ceiling, laid into mosaics on the floor, and stickered onto the coffee bean bags, chocolates, and bookmarks.

"Melanie says, 'Based on feedback I received from [Paz & Associates], I knew that if I opened a store in Hutchinson, I would need to make it a destination.' To do so, Melanie let her creativity run free, stripping a built-up space that once housed a computer shop down to its former glory, revealing concrete floors, lead-paned windows, exposed bricks, and sun-drenched skylights. To all this, she added whimsical architectural details, eclectic furniture, and an excellent selection of new books and covetable sidelines."

Pages Bookshop, 'Store Front of the Day'

Congratulations to Pages Bookshop, Detroit, Mich., named Store Front of the Day by Victor Dover of Dover, Kohl & Partners Town Planning. The firm is working with the Congress for New Urbanism in the store's neighborhood. Founded last year, Pages is also the bookseller for the 24th annual CNU conference, which will be held in Detroit June 8-11.

Book Club Name of the Week: Drunkard's Walk

The Drunkard's Walk Book Club at the Annapolis Bookstore, Annapolis, Md., is named for "the concept in probability that references the random path a particle can take to a destination." This Thursday, the club will discuss Innocents Abroad by Mark Twain.

Personnel Changes at Little, Brown

At Little, Brown:

Alaina Mauro joins as publishing director, James Patterson. She was formerly a digital sales account manager in young readers at Penguin Random House and earlier was a special projects manager at Penguin Group USA.
Gabrielle Tyson joins as publicity & marketing assistant, James Patterson. She was most recently a publicity intern at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and previously was a program assistant at MassPoetry.
Claire Gibbs joins as publicity assistant.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Kate DiCamillo on All Things Considered

CBS This Morning: Faith Salie, author of Approval Junkie: Adventures in Caring Too Much (Crown Archetype, $27, 9780553419931).

Fresh Air: David Quammen, writer for National Geographic and author, most recently, of The Chimp and the River: How AIDS Emerged from an African Forest (Norton, $13.95, 9780393350845).

Diane Rehm: Michael VanRooyen, author of The World's Emergency Room: The Growing Threat to Doctors, Nurses, and Humanitarian Workers (St. Martin's Press, $25.99, 9781250072122).

All Things Considered: Kate DiCamillo, author of Raymie Nightingale (Candlewick, $16.99, 9780763681173).

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

CNBC's Power Lunch: Steve Case, author of The Third Wave: An Entrepreneur's Vision of the Future (Simon & Schuster, $26.95, 9781501132582).

SiriusXM's Opie Show: Ian Halperin, author of Kardashian Dynasty: The Controversial Rise of America's Royal Family (Gallery, $26, 9781501128882). He will also appear tomorrow on Entertainment Tonight.

O'Reilly Factor: Gerri Willis, author of Rich Is Not a Four-Letter Word: How to Survive Obamacare, Trump Wall Street, Kick-start Your Retirement, and Achieve Financial Success (Crown Forum, $26, 9781101903797).

Today Show: Christopher Andersen, author of Game of Crowns: Elizabeth, Camilla, Kate, and the Throne (Gallery, $28, 9781476743950).

Diane Rehm: Chris Anderson, author of TED Talks: The Official TED Guide to Public Speaking (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $28, 9780544634497).

The View: Nancy Jo Sales, author of American Girls: Social Media and the Secret Lives of Teenagers (Knopf, $26.95, 9780385353922).

Late Late Show with James Corden: Gwyneth Paltrow, author of It's All Easy: Delicious Weekday Recipes for the Super-Busy Home Cook (Grand Central, $35, 9781455584215).

Books & Authors

Awards: Tony Ryan; Oklahoma; Minnesota

Warriors on Horseback: The Inside Story of the Professional Jockey by John Carter has won the 2015 Dr. Tony Ryan Book Award, honoring horse racing-oriented literary works. The author receives $10,000.


The winners of the Oklahoma Book Awards, sponsored by the Oklahoma Center for the Book, are:

Fiction: The Long and Faraway Gone by Lou Berney (HarperCollins)
Nonfiction: The Mercy of the Sky by Holly Bailey (Viking)
Poetry: Places I Was Dreaming by Loren Graham (CavanKerry Press)
Young Adult: The Boy Who Carried Bricks by Alton Carter (RoadRunner Press)
Children: Bike on, Bear! by Cynthea Liu (Simon & Schuster)
Design: Making Friends Was My Business, book design by Laura Hyde (Müllerhaus Legacy)
Illustration/Photography: Ilittibaaimpa': Let's Eat Together! A Chickasaw Cookbook, photography by Sanford Mauldin, book and cover design by Corey Fetters (Chickasaw Press)

For a full list of finalists and other awards, click here.


The winners of the Minnesota Book Awards, sponsored by the Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library, are:

Novel & Short Story: There's Something I Want You to Do by Charles Baxter (Pantheon Books)
Genre Fiction: The Grave Soul by Ellen Hart (Minotaur Books)
Poetry: Beautiful Wall by Ray Gonzalez (BOA Editions)
General Nonfiction: No House to Call My Home: Love, Family and Other Transgressions by Ryan Berg (Nation Books)
Memoir & Creative Nonfiction: Water and What We Know: Following the Roots of a Northern Life by Karen Sabine (University of Minnesota Press)
Minnesota: Minnesota Modern: Architecture and Life at Midcentury by Larry Millett (University of Minnesota Press)
Children's Literature: Red: A Crayon's Story by Michael Hall (Greenwillow Books)
Young People's Literature: See No Color by Shannon Gibney (Carolrhoda Books)

Book Review

Review: Eleven Hours

Eleven Hours by Pamela Erens (Tin House, $15.95 paperback, 9781941040294, May 3, 2016)

With rigorous detail and moment-by-moment exposition, Pamela Erens drops readers into one of the most personal and specific experiences a woman can go through in her lifetime: labor. In shifting points of view, Eleven Hours documents the story of two women who forge a relationship based solely on the experience of childbirth. There's Lore, who arrives at the hospital with no partner and no friends to support her, but she has a carefully laid-out plan for what she will not allow during her labor: no fetal monitor, no IV and no epidural. Franckline, also pregnant, is the nurse assigned to monitor Lore throughout her labor. Since she was six years old, Franckline has watched and helped the women of her village in Haiti deliver their babies; she was called the Ti Matrone, the little midwife. Together, these two strangers form an intimate bond as Lore's labor progresses during a snowy day in New York City.

Readers learn the backgrounds of both women as Erens rapidly weaves their lives together, one story pulsing into the other, timed with the contractions Lore experiences. Lore was immersed in a love triangle and she is still struggling to recover. Franckline has lost one child and is fearful she'll lose the one she's carrying. Throughout the novel, Erens's research into and writing about childbirth is spot on. She describes Franckline watching the births of the village women:

"The deep groans of the squatting woman, the way her sisters and aunties and cousins would cluster around her, gripping her arms and steadying her hips, running with sweat all of them, the parched lips and the low humming songs; it was like the races the older boys and young men sometimes ran against each other, the strain of bodies pushed to their limits, the pain, the exhaustion, the glory in the finish, but better because more violent: the head crowning at the end, the blood mixed with the sparse hair, the last push and the last groan, the woman released at last, muttering, weeping, cradled by the arms of the sisters and aunties and cousins."

The tension builds and recedes, moving from a fast pace to an almost dreamlike one, as Lore's contractions increase in frequency and intensity. Erens's prose pushes readers toward a finish that is raw, vivid and vicious, the last pages a race toward birth, fear, wonder and reverence as both women accept their respective futures. --Lee E. Cart, freelance writer and book reviewer

Shelf Talker: Eleven Hours is an intimate portrayal of two women brought together through the act of childbirth.

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