Also published on this date: Wednesday, April 27, 2016: Maximum Shelf: Britt-Marie Was Here

Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Little Brown and Company: Wolf at the Table by Adam Rapp

Tor Nightfire: Ghost Station by S.A. Barnes

Severn River Publishing: Covert Action (Command and Control #5) by J.R. Olson and David Bruns

Scholastic Press: Heroes: A Novel of Pearl Harbor by Alan Gratz

Flatiron Books: Anita de Monte Laughs Last by Xochitl Gonzalez

Peachtree Publishers: King & Kayla and the Case of the Downstairs Ghost (King & Kayla) by Dori Hillestad Butler, illustrated by Nancy Meyers


B&N Executive Chairman Leonard Riggio to Step Down

Len Riggio

Leonard Riggio "will step down as executive chairman of Barnes & Noble, following the company's annual meeting scheduled for September," the Wall Street Journal reported, adding that the man who built B&N into the nation's largest bookstore chain "said he played an active role last fall in the hiring of the company's current chief executive, Ronald Boire."

Paul Guenther, a board member since 2015, will serve as B&N's nonexecutive chairman, while Boire reports to the full board, the Journal wrote. Riggio, who resigned as CEO in 2002, will remain on the board. He is B&N's largest individual shareholder, with a 17.5% stake, and said he has no plans to sell or add to his stock holdings.

"I'm no longer going to be in charge. I'm done with that. I'm done with being top banana," said the 75-year-old Riggio, adding that he began pulling back in January. "I found peace with my decision," he said. "The whole identity crisis comes in. 'Who am I? How do I leave here?' All that stuff comes into your head after you spend so many years in one place."

Riggio began his bookselling career working in New York University's bookstore while a student. In 1965, he opened a competing college bookstore called SBX (Student Book Exchange) in Greenwich Village and operated several other area college stores. In 1971, he acquired B&N, then a single store on lower Fifth Avenue in Manhattan and opened some B&N stores in the New York metropolitan area. His next major purchase was in 1986, when he acquired B. Dalton Bookseller, which had 800 stores, mostly in shopping malls, and, with Waldenbooks, was one of the two dominant chains in the U.S. In the next few years, B&N became part of the book superstore wave that remade bookselling: it opened hundreds of superstores a year across the country, expanding in tandem with its biggest rival at the time, Borders. Riggio took B&N public in 1993, but continued to own and operate the college-bookstore group as a separate private business until 2009, when B&N bought it. In the last few years, B&N has cut back its superstores and now has some 640. It closed all the Dalton stores, and its foray into e-books, with the Nook, was healthy for a time, but the effort became a financial disaster. In 2015, the college group was spun off as an independent publicly traded company called Barnes & Noble Education.

University of California Press: The Accidental Ecosystem: People and Wildlife in American Cities by Peter S. Alagona

AAP Sales: 2015 Sales Slip, Paperbacks Up, E-Books Off

During 2015, total net book sales fell 2.6%, to $15.4 billion, representing sales of 1,205 publishers and distributed clients as reported to the Association of American Publishers. In December, total net book sales fell 2.3%, to $1.5 billion.

Downloadable audio was the fastest-growing category in 2015, with sales up 38.9%. The strongest print categories were all paperbacks: adult trade, children's/YA and religious paperbacks. By contrast, adult hardcovers slipped 0.5%. Children's board books also had strong sales, although children's/YA hardcovers were down 7.7%. Religious titles in both hardcover and paperback had sales gains. Sales of educational and scholarly publishers were off during the year. E-books were the worst-performing categories, with sales in adult, religious and children's/YA e-books off 9.5%, 11% and 43.3%, respectively.


Malaprop's Authors Event to Fight North Carolina's HB2

Malaprop's Bookstore/Café, Asheville, N.C., which has been in the forefront of the battle against North Carolina's new discriminatory law HB2, has organized a fundraiser for organizations fighting the law that will feature a group of authors and others. Called "Kill the Bill," the event is the first in the store's event series called Authors for Action, which pairs authors with nonprofits "to amplify a cause, raise the profile of change-makers, and create a space for the community to come together for good."

"Kill the Bill" will be held at the Asheville Community Theatre on Wednesday, May 18, the same day that author Sherman Alexie had been scheduled to appear at a Malaprop's event. (He cancelled his visit to protest the new law, which disappointed Malaprop's and other bookstores that have encouraged authors to come to the state to talk about their opposition to the law and to support bookstores and organizations who are fighting the law.)

The May 18 event begins with a $50 VIP cocktail party at 5 p.m. at Sovereign Remedies. The main event (tickets are $20) begins at 6:30 p.m. and will feature authors Sara Gruen, Charles Frazier, Wiley Cash, Joshilyn Jackson, Kim Michele Richardson, Mary Laura Philpott, Jamie Mason, Beth Revis, Jake Bible and others. The authors will all be given the same writing prompt and will share on stage their responses. Books will be sold in the lobby, and authors will sign after the show.

Proceeds from tickets will be divided between the ACLU of North Carolina, Campaign for Southern Equality, Tranzmission and Equality NC.

June Opening for New HugoBooks Store in Beverly, Mass.

Cabot Street Books in progress
(photo: David Le/

Cabot Street Books and Cards, the latest store in the HugoBooks family, will open in June at 272 Cabot St. in Beverly, Mass. Salem News reported that the new location was originally slated to open last summer, but "redeveloping the building has taken a lot longer than anticipated."

"The building was Band-Aided for years, and the big wall that we opened up--there were problems," said Frank Kaminski, the building's owner. "The contractor delayed. It's been a long winter, but we're in the final stretch. It probably should've been torn down, unfortunately, but I wanted to keep the character of the building." Kaminski expressed gratitude for the patience of Bob and John Hugo.

Mayor Michael Cahill expressed frustration with the delay, Salem News noted. "HugoBooks has been ready to be in there since last June," he said. "They're still trying to get in there as soon as they can."

On its Facebook page yesterday, the bookshop linked to the article and posted: "Some great news about Cabot Street Books and Cards!" HugoBooks also operates the Spirit of '76 bookstore in Marblehead, the Book Rack in Newburyport and the Andover Bookstore.

East City Bookshop Debuts in Washington, D.C.

East City Bookshop on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., had its soft opening Monday, The Hill Is Home reported in offering a "first look" at owner Laurie Gillman's new store, located at 645 Pennsylvania Avenue SE. A grand opening is scheduled for April 30, Independent Bookstore Day.

According to its website, East City Bookshop aims to become "a gathering place for book lovers of all ages, a place to talk about books, ideas, to learn something new or revisit something you once knew well. Providing top-notch customer service, author events, books clubs and more. We want to connect you with the books you want and need. And some that maybe you didn’t even know you wanted and needed."

Amazon: New Facilities Planned for Colorado, New Jersey

Amazon plans to open a sortation center at the Majestic Commercenter in Aurora, Colo., the Denver Post reported, noting that the online retailer's first facility in the state comes just months after Amazon began collecting sales tax on purchases by Colorado residents, which "fueled speculation that the company had established a business presence in the state."

"We are hiring for hundreds of associates for our new package sortation center in Aurora," Amazon spokeswoman Ashley S. Robinson confirmed, adding that while hiring has begun, no opening date was available yet.

"Aurora's location, workforce and business-friendly environment were key ingredients in attracting in the world's largest e-commerce retailer to our city," said Aurora's Economic Development Council president and CEO Wendy Mitchell.

Holly Shrewsbury, a spokeswoman for the state's Office of Economic Development and International Trade, confirmed that Amazon officials "engaged our office to talk about tax environment and real estate options," but added that the company did not receive any financial incentives to expand in Colorado.


Amazon is expanding its presence in New Jersey by opening two new fulfillment centers. The online retailer currently operates a fulfillment center in Carteret with more than 500 full-time employees, but the additional one will be 800,000 square feet and employ more than 1,500. A 600,000-square-foot fulfillment center in Florence will employ more than 500 full-timers when opened.

Akash Chauhan, Amazon's v-p of North America fulfillment operations, said the expansion "is directly tied to our increasing customer demand."


Image of the Day: Inspirational Capital Dames

Author and longtime ABC News and NPR political analyst Cokie Roberts (Capital Dames, Harper) entertained and inspired an audience of 200 people at Molloy College in Rockville Centre, N.Y. The event was organized by Turn of the Corkscrew Books & Wine, founded last fall by Carol Hoenig and Peggy Zieran; they've started a relationship with Molloy College's Madison Theater to host big off-site events.
Roberts, who had an op-ed in the New York Times earlier last week that decried U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew's decision to keep Alexander Hamilton on the $10 bill instead of a woman, as promised, spoke about the important contribution American women have made to creating our democracy and regaled the audience with stories about her own life in Washington, D.C.
Pictured: (l.-r.) Peggy Zieran, Cokie Roberts and Carol Hoenig

'The Oldest Libraries Around the World'

"It's no secret around here that we're a little bit obsessed with libraries--their collections, stunning designs and sometimes playful interiors," Flavorwire noted in taking "a trip around the world to highlight some of the oldest libraries in existence--repositories of ancient art and architecture, history and prized books. Here are ten of our favorites."

Personnel Changes at Abrams

At Abrams:

Paul Colarusso has been promoted from senior marketing manager to associate director, marketing, adult books. 

Kate Lesko has been promoted from marketing coordinator to associate marketing manager, adult books.

Book Trailer of the Day: Maestra

Maestra by L.S. Hilton (Putnam), an instructional video on how to dispose of a body as femme fatale protagonist Judith Rashleigh would, starring v-p, associate publisher Ben Lee as the victim.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Anderson Cooper and Gloria Vanderbilt

Watch What Happens Live: Anderson Cooper and Gloria Vanderbilt, authors of The Rainbow Comes and Goes: A Mother and Son on Life, Love, and Loss (Harper, $27.99, 9780062454942).

Scholastic to Publish Fantastic Beasts Screenplay

Scholastic will publish the screenplay of the film Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them in the U.S. and Canada on November 19, the day after the highly-anticipated film hits theaters. The movie, which marks J.K. Rowling's screenwriting debut, stars Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston, Ezra Miller, Colin Farrell, Ron Perlman and Jon Voight. The screenplay ($24.99, 9781338109061) will be published as a hardcover, while an e-book edition will be released by Pottermore simultaneously in collaboration with Scholastic in the U.S. and Canada and Little, Brown in the U.K.

"With any new writing from J.K. Rowling, we know that we are not only engaging her vast fan base, but are also building a new generation of readers," said Ellie Berger, president of Scholastic's U.S. trade division. "The much anticipated release of the Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them movie marks another magical and exciting moment for film lovers and readers everywhere, and we are absolutely delighted to publish J.K. Rowling's screenplay debut."

Books & Authors

Awards: Hugo; Arabic Fiction; Pushkin House Russian; Arthur Ellis Crime

Finalists for the 2016 Hugo Awards in 17 categories have been announced and can be seen here. Winners will be celebrated on August 20 at MidAmeriCon II in Kansas City, Mo.


Destinies: Concerto of the Holocaust and the Nakba by Rabai al-Madhoun has won the International Prize for Arabic Fiction. The author, whose book was published in Haifa by Maktabat Kul Shee, wins $50,000 and a guaranteed English translation.

Born in Palestinian and now a British citizen Al-Madhoun, lives and works in London as an editor for Al-Sharq Al-Awsat newspaper. His 2010 novel, The Lady from Tel Aviv, was shortlisted for the 2010 International Prize for Arabic Fiction. That book was subsequently published in English by Telegram Books in 2013 and won the English PEN Writers in Translation award.

Chair of the judges Amina Thiban commented: "In Destinies: Concerto of the Holocaust and the Nakba, Rabai al-Madhoun invents a new fictional form in order to address the Palestinian issue, with questions of identity underpinned by a very human perspective on the struggle. This tragic, polyphonic novel borrows the symbol of the concerto, with its different movements, to represent the multiplicity of destinies. Destinies can be considered the complete Palestinian novel, travelling back to a time before the nakba in order to throw light on current difficulties faced by the Palestinian diaspora and the sense of displacement felt by those left behind."


Dominic Lieven won the £5,000 (about $7,240) Pushkin House Russian Book Prize, which recognizes the "best nonfiction writing published in English," for Towards the Flame: Empire, War and the End of Tsarist Russia, the Bookseller reported. A second prize of £2,000 (about $2,915) for the best Russian book in translation went to Oleg Khlevniuk and his translator Nora Favorov for Stalin: New Biography of a Dictator.


Crime Writers of Canada announced the shortlists in eight categories for this year's Arthur Ellis Awards, which recognize excellence in Canadian crime writing. Winners will be named May 26 in Toronto.

Book Brahmin: Naomi Shihab Nye

photo: Michael Nye

Palestinian American Naomi Shihab Nye is a poet, essayist and novelist who was named a National Book Award finalist for 19 Varieties of Gazelle: Poems of the Middle East (Greenwillow). Among her many awards are the I.B. Lavan Award from the Academy of American Poets and four Pushcart Prizes, as well as numerous honors for her books for younger readers. She is also the editor of many poetry anthologies including The Space Between Our Footsteps: Poems and Paintings from the Middle East, and author of the novels Habibi and Going Going. Her latest children's novel is The Turtle of Oman, exploring themes of moving, the Middle East, family, nature, immigration and love. It will be available in paperback from Greenwillow Books on May 3, 2016. She lives in San Antonio, Tex.

On your nightstand now:

A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki. I started reading this on an international flight to Japan, could not have been a more perfect "launch on book" experience. Read it for 10 hours straight--still reading it.

The General's Son: Journal of an Israeli in Palestine by Miko Peled--such an advocate for justice!

Waiting by Kevin Henkes--such a comfort.

Factory Girls: From Village to City in a Changing China, by Leslie T. Chang--everyone I met or know in China told me to read this book.

A signed copy of Lit Up Inside, the lyrics of Van Morrison--this book stays on top.

Favorite books when you were a child:

Favorite Poems Old and New, edited by Helen Ferris. Still have tattered copy with the Rabindranath Tagore poem "Paper Boats" check-marked by my seven-year-old self.

The Important Book by Margaret Wise Brown. A book about making distinctions--what's really important about a spoon or a daisy? I argued with this book. I thought everything was important. I loved all Margaret Wise Brown's books, though, and found it terribly tragic that she had died right as I was being born. She was a personal friend to me through her books and to so many millions of others. My husband and I once had Garth Williams, who illustrated many of her books, to dinner at our house, and he told about receiving her last letter to him after her shocking, sudden death. He adored working with her. To meet someone who had actually known her was incredible.

Your top five authors:

William Stafford--hero poet since I was 16.

W. S. Merwin--hero poet since age 18. "This is a voice that could save us," I wrote in my edition of Naked Poetry, where I first found his work.

Ruth Stone--I loved her stark bravado, courage, enduring joy.

Edward Hirsch: the smartest poet I have ever known--his work sends me soaring, too.

Lucille Clifton: what a Great Spirit Lucille was and remains forever--read her work tomorrow if you have not already been reading it for years.

Books you've faked reading:

Books about the Alamo. (I live in San Antonio.) Sorry, I just can't get into it. I do like David Crockett's (rare) book My Philosophy, though.

I also didn't actually read all those math textbooks in high school.

Books you're an evangelist for:

The Way It Is by William Stafford--Graywolf Press published an iconic edition. Find it! I was so honored to write a tiny preface.

Every War Has Two Losers: William Stafford on Peace and War, edited by Kim Stafford

Waiting by Kevin Henkes

Walden by Henry David Thoreau--we need it more than ever. (It is no longer taught in many high schools.)

Book you've bought for the cover:

Please Come Back to Me by Jessica Treadway--this one is also on my bedside table.

Book you hid from your parents:

Uh, I don't remember the titles, exactly. Some of those Victorian-style sexy books. Where people were called only by initials. M.O. They flung themselves around on couches.

Book that changed your life:

The Dharma Bums by Jack Kerouac. I know this is fairly unoriginal, as so many people of many generations now have felt sparked by Kerouac's style and energy--his open heart and mind, his stream-of-wisdom-and-wackiness mode--but I became a Kerouac fanatic for years, read every single related book and review I could find. I became friends with his last wife, Stella Sampas, who kindly invited me to come visit her in Florida after I telephoned her on Jack's--and my--shared birthday. He will always be in my heart and I just wish he had lived longer, for everybody's sake, but at least he left us so many terrific books to feast on.

Favorite line from a book:

"I remember, I don't remember." --from "Battles in the Desert" by José Emilio Pacheco

Six books you'll never part with:

Anything by William Stafford, Robert Bly, Jane Hirshfield, Kevin Henkes, Kate DiCamillo, E.B. White.

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

Again for the First Time by Rosemary Catacalos.

Book Review

YA Review: Into the River

Into the River by Ted Dawe (Polis Books, $17.99 hardcover, 288p., ages 14-adult, 9781943818198, June 14, 2016)

Into the River, an unflinchingly frank YA novel by New Zealand author Ted Dawe and a prequel to Thunder Road, drew more international attention for being briefly banned in New Zealand than for winning the 2013 Margaret Mahy Award.

The story begins with two Maori boys from New Zealand's East Coast and an eel-fishing trip to the river. Thirteen-year-old Te Arepa Santos and his friend Wiremu are splashing about, laughing and joking, when they see a giant eel, probably a taniwha, or river monster, with "the vague slowness of a sleeper who had been woken." It's no wonder the eel's so big and old: the boys are rare trespassers on sacred waters that "pulsed with angry ghosts." Stories are important to Te Arepa's family, and his grandfather's accounts of his Spanish ancestor Diego Santos are of particular interest to him, pirate tales "of blood and trickery."

Te Arepa's own story heats up when he's offered a scholarship at Barwell's Collegiate, a prestigious boarding school in the city of Auckland, specifically for a brilliant poem he wrote about that river monster. The school represents a new life, but it's also a place full of people who don't care about him: "For the first time he felt completely alone." Te Arepa loves his lessons, especially Latin, but hates his first nickname, "Maori," said as an insult: "Maori tied him to all the things at school that were inferior or didn't work properly." He adopts a new nickname, "Devon," after Diego's ship. Name-calling is the least of Barwell's injustices; the school is a hotbed of ugly bullying and Te Arepa is one of many targets.

Te Arepa is changed by the experience. When he visits his rural home, he feels he's wearing a Te Arepa "costume," and even his dear friend Wiremu seems "a bit small town" to him, eventually even "dim-witted." He tells his grandfather he's weighted down by his name, his heritage, "nearly everything I am." He knows that as the only Maori at Barwell's, he has to be better than the best to compete. His grandfather tells him, "Be like Diego. Find a way." But mostly, "Devon" finds it increasingly difficult to belong anywhere.

Dawe, who has been a teacher for 40 years, mostly of students of Maori and Pasifika cultures, knows a thing or two about teens and New Zealand society. He begins Into the River with two boys fishing, but carries that thread through Devon's fast-tracked spiritual and intellectual journey to a larger, more painful life. Dawe understands the events in his novel are, as he notes, "often blunt, coarse, unfair, immoral, illegal, and shocking. But they are never gratuitous." There's awkward, urgent sex, sexual manipulation by young and old, profanity, every sort of offensive slur, violent bullying and drug use. Tragic, but not without humor, Into the River is a raw story that rings true.

Older teens will devour this fresh, engaging coming-of-age novel about personal identity and poisonous social inequality, the excitement and terror of adolescence, the nuances of friendship and freedom and much more. --Karin Snelson, children's & YA editor, Shelf Awareness

Shelf Talker: In Ted Dawe's riveting YA novel, briefly banned in New Zealand, a Maori boy goes to boarding school in Auckland.

The Bestsellers

Reading Group Choices 2015 Favorites

Reading Group Choices reading group members recently voted on their favorite reading group books from 2015:

Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline
Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin
The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman
The Paris Architect by Charles Belfoure
The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd
The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert
Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Euphoria by Lily King

Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand
The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown
Dead Wake by Erik Larson
Wild by Cheryl Strayed
Being Mortal by Atul Gawande
H Is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald
The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls
Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant? by Roz Chast
It Was Me All Along by Andie Mitchell
Pandora's DNA by Lizzie Stark
The Underground Girls of Kabul by Jenny Nordberg
They Poured Fire on Us from the Sky by Alephonsion Deng, Benson Deng and Benjamin Ajak

Young Adult:
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Wonder by R.J. Palacio
We Were Liars by Emily Lockhart
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
Hollow City by Ransom Riggs
The Hired Girl by Laura Amy Schlitz
The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton
The Thing about Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin
Egg & Spoon by Gregory Maguire
The Silenced by James DeVita

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