Shelf Awareness for Friday, September 30, 2016

Mariner Books: Everyone This Christmas Has a Secret: A Festive Mystery by Benjamin Stevenson

Grove Press: Brightly Shining by Ingvild Rishøi, Translated Caroline Waight

Running Press Adult: Scam Goddess: Lessons from a Life of Cons, Grifts, and Schemes by Laci Mosley

Broadleaf Books: Trespass: Portraits of Unhoused Life, Love, and Understanding by Kim Watson

Nancy Paulsen Books: Sync by Ellen Hopkins

Running Press Adult: Cat People by Hannah Hillam

Beaming Books: Must-Have Autumn Reads for Your Shelf!

Dial Press: Like Mother, Like Mother by Susan Rieger

Quotation of the Day

Mark Slouka to Indies: 'What You're Doing Is Essential'

"As writers we do many different gigs--talks, readings, the occasional speech. Some of those matter more than others. This one matters to me personally, as it does to the other writers in this room. It's not about whether you sell some copies of our books, though that would be most welcome. It's about what you, all of you, do just by doing what you do, selling books.... 

"Person by person, book by book, you help sustain values I would call democratic values, of wonder, argument, empathy, context, plurality and respect. You do this every single time you say to somebody 'Here's one I like. This one's pretty good. This one may bother you, trouble your dreams, but you should read it.' I'm guessing it's not always easy; that you have to constantly innovate and adapt and hustle to get books into readers' hands. There must be days when you wonder what the hell it is that you're doing; when you feel, as I do, sort of like a 21st century roof thatcher. But what you're doing is essential. And I'm so very grateful for it."

--Mark Slouka, author most recently of Nobody's Son: A Memoir, speaking at the author breakfast during NEIBA's fall conference last week

Peachtree Teen: Compound Fracture by Andrew Joseph White


AAP Sales: April Down 7%; Year to Date off 4.3%

In April, total net book sales fell 7%, to $729.6 million, compared to April 2015, and represented sales of 1,210 publishers and distributed clients as reported to the Association of American Publishers. For the first third of the year, total net book sales fell 4.3%, to $2.852 billion. 

In April, adult paperbacks and mass markets had sizeable gains of 24.7% and 23%, respectively, while adult hardcovers were down 6.6%. Children's/YA hardcovers and paperbacks both were up substantially, 24.2% and 16.2%, respectively. Downloaded audio slowed down slightly compared to many previous months, with sales up "only" 20.5%. E-books in all categories continued to drop.



Inner Traditions: Expand your collection with these must-have resource books!

Winsted Community Book Store Opens

Winsted Community Book Store, located at 414 Main Street in Winsted, Conn., held its ribbon-cutting ceremony Thursday, the Register-Citizen reported. Ralph Nader had discussed plans to create a nonprofit bookstore in the space earlier this month and ultimately decided to move forward with the idea, according to Charlene LaVoie of the Office of the Community Lawyer. 

"Ralph wanted to try it. He rented this space, and we've had events here over the last... two-and-a-half (years). He wanted to see if there was any interest in a bookstore in Winsted, so he said, 'let's get a group of volunteers together and see what happens," LaVoie noted. "So that's what we're doing. We're conducting a commercial experiment in bookselling."

Winsted Community Book Store stocks titles purchased by Nader over the years as well as works by local authors. "What we have here are books that really deserve to still be in circulation, and being read by people," LaVoie said. "They're brand-new books, and he's passionate about it, and been doing it for a while. And so, he wants to make them available to the public."

PRH's Dohle Joins PEN America Board

Marcus Dohle

Penguin Random House CEO Markus Dohle is one of five people named by PEN America to its board of trustees. Dohle was recognized as PEN America's Publisher Honoree "for his commitment to defending free expression and access to literature." Also joining the board are Lauren Embrey, president and CEO of the Embrey Family Foundation; Buzzfeed culture editor Saeed Jones; and authors Dinaw Mengestu (All Our Names) and Hanya Yanagihara (A Little Life).

"As threats to free expression multiply in every corner of the world--public libraries, university campuses, foreign news bureaus, social media algorithms, and beyond--it is crucial to PEN America to engage an ever-widening community from the worlds of publishing, journalism, activism, and philanthropy to protect this freedom for all," said Suzanne Nossel, the organization's executive director. "We are thrilled to add the visionary leadership of Markus, Lauren, Saeed, Dinaw, and Hanya to an already formidable board of trustees guiding PEN America's path forward."

Literati Bookstore Adds the Espresso Bar

Effective yesterday, the Espresso Bar officially became part of Literati Bookstore in Ann Arbor, Mich. Hilary and Mike Gustafson, co-owners of Literati, will now oversee operations and management of the Espresso Bar, which was owned by Sanford Bledsoe, and unify the once-separate businesses.

"Our goal is to unify the two businesses for a smoother building-wide operation," said Mike Gustafson. "What Sandy started with the Espresso Bar is truly special. On the customer side of things, not much will change. We're committed to keeping the story going, maintaining the Espresso Bar staff, and continuing the Espresso Bar's exemplary customer service model, quality product, and one-of-a-kind experience."

On Facebook yesterday, Literati posted: "Almost two years ago, we announced a partnership with the Espresso Bar. For that time, we operated as separate businesses sharing the same space. Today, we announce that the Espresso Bar will officially become part of Literati. We're excited for the future. We thank Sandy for everything he's done to make this a great community space, and we look forward to the next chapter."

Eagle Harbor Book Co. in Washington Bolsters Inventory, Events

Jane and Dave Danielson, who bought Eagle Harbor Book Company, Bainbridge Island, Wash., in June, have been making some changes, and one of the biggest has come from asking customers what they wanted. As the Danielsons wrote in a letter to customers earlier this month, "The main thing we learned was this: You want more books!"

As a result, the store is in the process of nearly doubling its selection of books, "with over 6,000 carefully selected additional books coming in." Among the areas in which customers said they wanted more selection, the store said, were "history, cooking, religion, writing, and women and gender studies, to name a few. We were reminded that the increasing diversity of our community and our world should be reflected throughout the store, particularly in the areas of poetry and art, but also literature and social sciences. In this election year, many of you would like to see more selections relating to civics and politics."

At the same time, the store is continuing its strong author events program, which benefits in part from the many writers who live on Bainbridge Island. This fall's events at Eagle Harbor Book Company include appearances by Alexander McCall Smith, actress Jane Alexander; Lynn Brunelle, whose Big Science for Little People: 52 Activities to Help You and Your Child Discover the Wonders of Science, has just been published by Roost Books (the book launch included science experiments!); David James Duncan, author of The River Why (Back Bay); and George Lakey, author of Viking Economics: How the Scandinavians Got It Right--And We Can, Too (Melville House).

Obituary Note: David Budbill

Vermont poet and playwright David Budbill, author of ten books of poems, seven plays, two novels, a collection of short stories, two picture books for children and the libretto for an opera, died September 25, the Burlington Free Press reported. He was 76. This year's Burlington Book Festival was dedicated to Budbill, whose books include While We've Still Got Feet; Moment to Moment: Poems of a Mountain Recluse; Tumbling Toward the End; Judevine: The Complete Poems, 1970-1990; Happy Life; and Broken Wing.

"We have just lost a great Vermont voice, and a voice for Vermonters," said poet Ellen McCulloch-Lovell, a friend of Budbill. "People who didn't know anything about the technicalities of writing poetry, read and enjoyed his poems.... They spoke to a whole variety of people."

Tom Slayton, former editor-in-chief of Vermont Life Magazine and a longtime friend, recalled: "I guess what I'll remember most is his vitality and his wonderful sense of humor. When I first met David he had just published The Chain Saw Dance. This was back in 1976, and it described life in rural Vermont in rather raw, rough terms, but with an undertone of gentle humor. In the 1990s his work kind of shifted and he began to write in the voice of an old Chinese sage, somehow transported onto a Wolcott hillside called Judevine Mountain. He had a high reverence for real work in the real world--work using your hands. And so he personally loved working in the woods, working in his garden, and playing the shakuhachi."

From Budbill's poem "A Long and Gracious Fall":

What else is there to do? Finally, for once, we are ready
for the snow. Ready now to come inside. Time now for
words and music, poems and shakuhachi. Time now
to light some incense, sit and stare at candlelight.


Image of the Day: Hamilton Unabridged

Last week, the Chicago Humanities Festival hosted "In Conversation with Lin-Manuel Miranda" at the Lyric Opera. The evening was a sell-out, with more than 3,600 people attending the night to hear Tribune theater critic Chris Jones interview Miranda, the creator and original star of the musical Hamilton, which opened in Chicago on September 27 and will run through October 2017.

Unabridged Books, as the partner of the Chicago Humanities Festival, was there selling signed copies of Hamilton: The Revolution by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jeremy McCarter, along with copies of Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow. When word spread that Unabridged was selling signed copies, the table was swarmed with hundreds of patrons hoping to get a copy. One of the highlights of the conversation was listening to Miranda freestyling while Chris Jones beatboxed. You can watch the performance here.

Pictured: Patrick Garnett and Ed Devereux, owners of Unabridged Books.

'Getting Lost in the Tattered Cover'

Tattered Cover Book Store, Denver, Colo., is "the kind of place where you can get the answers to everything, or just whisk yourself away to some far off place," Channel 2 Daybreak reported, adding that the bookseller "is one of Denver's most notable spots for bookworms and visitors alike, and it's unique to Colorado."

Incoming owner Len Vlahos, who with wife Kristen is in the process of taking over the Tattered Cover from longtime owner Joyce Meskis, said, "When Joyce designed these stores, she really designed them to feel like you're in your living room or a friend's living room. The seven locations across the city are "really the beating heart of Denver's literary scene.... Is there anything sort of more fun than getting lost in a bookstore for a couple hours?"

The Book on Books: Reading Group Choices 2017

Reading Group Choices 2017: Selections for Lively Book Discussions, the 23rd annual edition of the guide to book club picks, is now available from Reading Group Choices for $7.95 and can be purchased on its website.

The more than 60 recommended titles are in three sections: fiction, nonfiction and young adult. For each book, the guide offers bibliographic information as well as review excerpts, information about the author and conversation starters for book club discussions.

Titles featured in Reading Group Choices 2017 include God Help the Child by Toni Morrison, Grand Hotel by Vicki Baum, The Paris Architect by Charles Belfoure, Sleeping on Jupiter by Anuradha Roy, The Wangs vs. the World by Jade Chang, Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant?: A Memoir by Roz Chast and My Best Friend's Exorcism by Grady Hendrix.

Reading Group Choices includes a website, monthly e-newsletter and a biannual book club mailing. Reading Group Choices also organizes events at independent bookstores, book festivals and libraries around the country.

Personnel Changes at Workman; Riverhead Books

At Workman Publishing:

Kate Travers has been promoted to director, digital business and operations, and will oversee all e-commerce and merchandising efforts related to and, and act as the liaison to all divisions and distribution partners for merchandising and promotional opportunities.

Steven Whitener will move from the sales team to the digital team and become manager, digital operations & analytics.

Cialina Temena-Husemann has been promoted to assistant manager, web operations.

Allison Huggins has been promoted to international rights manager.


At Riverhead Books:

Claire McGinnis is now assistant director of publicity.

Liz Hohenadel is now senior publicity manager.

Book Trailer of the Day: Only Daughter

Only Daughter (Mira) by Anna Snoekstra has been optioned by Universal Studios, with a screenplay written by Erin Cressida Wilson (who wrote the screenplay for The Girl on the Train and is attached to Maestra).

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Nadia Bolz-Weber on Fresh Air

NPR's Morning Edition: Fredrik Backman, author of A Man Called Ove: A Novel (Washington Square Press, $16, 9781476738024).

Fresh Air: Nadia Bolz-Weber, author of Accidental Saints: Finding God in All the Wrong People (Convergent Books, $15, 9781601427564).

Movies: Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them

The full trailer has been released for the highly anticipated Harry Potter prequel Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, and "is likely to continue to ramp up the excitement," the Hollywood Reporter wrote. Directed by David Yates, the film stars Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston, Alison Sudol, Colin Farrell, Ezra Miller and Dan Fogler. J.K. Rowling wrote the screenplay for the first movie oif a planned trilogy. Fantastic Beasts hits theaters on November 18.

'Hollywood's 25 Most Powerful Authors'

"Count authors among the creator groups benefiting from the proliferation of new platforms and outlets in entertainment" according to the Hollywood Reporter, which showcased this year's 25 most influential authors in entertainment while noting that "11 new writers (from a millennial to a septuagenarian) make their debut on THR's ranking of the industry's most sought-after word nerds."

"The demand for creators and underlying material has never been stronger," said Howie Sanders, UTA partner and co-head of the book department, regarding the race to acquire the rights to books and magazine articles for film and TV.

Books & Authors

Awards: Richell for Emerging Writers

Tasmanian author Susie Greenhill won the A$10,000 (about US$7,675) Richell Prize for Emerging Writers for the manuscript of an "ecological love story" titled The Clinking. The award is a partnership between Guardian Australia, the Emerging Writers' Festival and Hachette Australia in memory of Matt Richell, the Hachette Australia CEO who died in a surfing accident in 2014. In addition to the cash award, Greenhill receives a mentorship and a publication option with Hachette.

Michaela McGuire, a prize judge and director of the Emerging Writers' Festival, described Greenhill's writing as "electric, and profoundly affecting."

Greenhill said: "I feel like there are a lot of voices that don't get heard adequately and right now one of those is the natural world.... It's a beautiful opportunity. I hope I can create something that would make [Matt Richell] proud. I am totally overwhelmed."

Reading with... Sonali Dev

photo: Vernice Dollar of Studio 16

Sonali Dev writes Bollywood-style love stories that let her explore issues faced by women around the world while still indulging her faith in a happily ever after. Dev's novels (including A Bollywood Affair) have been on Library Journal, NPR and Washington Post Best Books of the Year lists, among others. She won the American Library Association's award for best romance in 2014, is a RITA finalist, RT Reviewer Choice Award Nnominee and winner of the RT Seal of Excellence. Her third book, A Change of Heart, is published by Kensington (September 27, 2016).

On your nightstand now:

My nightstand is a perpetually teetering Jenga tower of books, so I'm going to have to skim the top: an ARC of Jodi Picoult's Small Great Things, an ARC of Susan Elizabeth Phillips's First Star I See Tonight, Amy Silverstein's Sick Girl, Michelle Moran's Rebel Queen, Amulya Malladi's A Breath of Fresh Air.

Favorite book when you were a child:

It's impossible to choose one book, because growing up in India my childhood was irreconcilably split between books by the British author Enid Blyton, with her pixies and fairies and boarding schools bursting with rebellion and adventure, and the comic book series Amar Chitra Katha that brought to life every historical and mythological Indian hero ever conceived.

Your top five authors:

Vikram Seth, Toni Morrison, Kristan Higgins, Jane Austen and the Marathi playwright and humorist PL Deshpande (if only his genius could be translated).

Book you've faked reading:

Tolstoy's War and Peace. It's my book of a million false starts. One of these days, victory will be mine.

Book you're an evangelist for:

The Bronze Horseman by Paullina Simons, a love story set during the siege of Leningrad in World War II. It's everything an epic love story should be, anchored in respect, viscerally connected and steadfast in the face of the kind of adversity that tests the very limits of courage. Add to that the sweeping and masterful storytelling, and you're sucked so deep into the world of the lovers that all contact with your own world feels like a violation.

Book you've bought for the cover:

A cookbook called Fifty Shades of Chicken. It features a trussed-up rotisserie chicken with its legs crossed (very suggestively, I might add). Who could resist that?

Book you hid from your parents:

The Other Side of Midnight by Sidney Sheldon. I wasn't yet 12 and it was the book that gave physical form to my, until then, nebulous concept of sex by actually bringing body parts into play (in entirely unexpected ways, at that). I was right to hide it from my parents; I doubt they would've appreciated the merits of such a premature lesson in sexual politics.

Book that changed your life:

Vikram Seth's A Suitable Boy. It was the first mainstream English-language book I read that had Indian protagonists who lived and acted like me. Not only was the prose so seamless and beautiful that I fell into the story body and soul, but for the young writer in me, finding a book in a store that was populated by the kinds of characters that inhabited my own stories turned an impossible dream possible in my mind.

Favorite line from a book:

"Until you've lost your reputation, you never realize what a burden it was or what freedom really is." --from Margaret Mitchell's Gone with the Wind.

I was in high school when I read the book, and the concept that society's opinion is a burden you do not have to carry was at once so radical and so freeing to me that it might have fundamentally altered the course of my life.

Five books you'll never part with:

A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry (for storytelling you can smell and taste and feel on your skin), My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult (for conflict explored all the way to its edges), The Master Butchers Singing Club by Louise Erdrich (for prose that feels like poetry), Beloved by Toni Morrison (for the genius of trapping pain in words) and Bridget Jones's Diary by Helen Fielding (for never failing to make me laugh at myself).

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

The Harry Potter series. For all that is lovely about these books, that delicious and prolonged unraveling of the story over seven books and 10 years was the best part. There was this community aspect to it, like a village reading around a bonfire. It pulled four generations of my family--from my elementary schooler to my grandmother--into a conversation that transcended age and culture. It brought together the world. Across the globe we stood in lines at midnight, becoming one in our impatience to see what happened next, hungry to share our joy and heartbreak over three children we claimed as ours no matter who we were. I want that again. Please.

Which literary character you relate to most:

I think I'm a little bit like each of Austen's heroines. Which is bizarre and ironic given that her heroines lived in a time when her country had enslaved mine while proliferating the theme of "East is East and West is West and never the twain shall meet." If I had to choose just one, I'd say Emma because I might be the slightest bit guilty of feeling like I know what's best for everyone, and I tend to favor the merits of intention over prudence.

Book Review

Review: Cabo de Gata

Cabo de Gata by Eugen Ruge, trans. by Anthea Bell (Graywolf Press, $14 trade paper, 120p., 9781555977573, November 1, 2016)

In this slim, unassuming novel, Eugen Ruge (In Times of Fading Light) experiments with form and style, setting a plot of quietly tortured self-exploration in an austere Spanish village. Cabo de Gata is almost minimalist in its events, but expert detail fills out a story larger than its circumstances. In Anthea Bell's translation from the German, the unnamed narrator's voice suits him perfectly.

In Berlin in the years just after the Wall came down, Ruge's narrator feels stuck. He has a good-enough if meaningless job; his ex-girlfriend calls only to ask him to help care for her daughter; he suspects the punks in the ground-floor apartment stole his bicycle. He sees the rest of his life rolling out in front of him in mind-numbing routine, doomed "like the undead" to empty repetition. And so he leaves.

Indecision about where to travel pleases rather than alarms him: he seeks the unknown, "for the sake of experiment," because he is also an aspiring novelist. He chiefly wants someplace quiet and warm, and so flees to Cabo de Gata, a town in Andalusia promised by the travel guides to offer "a breath of Africa." The nearly abandoned fishing village turns out surprisingly to be terribly cold, the inhabitants gruff and standoffish; his writing comes out bitter. He is a curious, contradictory character, perhaps not entirely reliable: he is not superstitious, he announces, and then proceeds to find signs in hermit crabs and his dead mother in a stray cat. Intermittently obsessive, he fills his days as much with invented tasks and rules as he does with writing the intended novel.

It may sound absurdist, but Ruge's quietly affecting story is more understated than it is bizarre. The narrator has his quirks, such as a fondness for humming "The Star-Spangled Banner" ("Jimi Hendrix taught it to me in his famous appearance at Woodstock"). But he is essentially involved in a search both existential and humdrum: where to go from here.

The narrator tells his story from a distance, from a much later time in which he hints that he has been very successful, and he pointedly chooses not to consult notes or check his facts ("I could Google it," he writes, but he doesn't). This meta-view offers another layer for the discerning reader to dissect. On the surface the odd story of a troubled man haunting a Spanish ghost town, Cabo de Gata also poses questions about life's directions and perspectives. --Julia Jenkins, librarian and blogger at pagesofjulia

Shelf Talker: This clever, stylish novel in translation follows a German man's quietly tortured self-exploration in an austere Spanish village.

Deeper Understanding

Robert Gray: 'In Conversation' at the NEIBA Fall Conference

I just ran the numbers. The word "conversation" has appeared in about 300 (more than half) of my columns, dating back to 2006. And here it is again, because that is precisely the word that came to mind often during last week's New England Independent Booksellers Association Fall Conference in Providence, R.I., where the atmosphere was a generous blend of conversation, energy and enthusiasm. And books, of course... lots of books.   

Zadie Smith and Christopher Castellani

It all launched Tuesday at an extraordinary keynote event, featuring Zadie Smith (Swing Time) "in conversation" with author Christopher Castellani, who began by saying, "We've already started our conversation, so you're just joining us."

Smith covered a wide range of topics, including the challenges of writing in first person ("It's quite curious the power that the 'I' has."); power dynamics ("Nobody thinks of themselves as an unimportant country or an unimportant person, but the world is structured in such a way that you're made to accept that role, or asked to accept it."); privilege ("There is no such thing as a perfectly right or authentic position to exist in.... I kind of work from the assumption that everyone is in some kind of existential pain."); cultural appropriation ("To me it's always a specific matter between an artist and a subject, between a reader and what they read. I can't generalize on the topic."); and the bond between authors and readers ("The relationship is fundamentally unfinished unless there is someone on the other side to talk about it with.... I do absolutely need readers.").

(l.-r.) Tom Wickersham (Brookline Booksmith), Zadie Smith, Karl Krueger (Penguin Random House), Carole Horne (Harvard Book Store), Christopher Castellani (Grub Street), and Ellen Jarrett (Porter Square Books)

Claire Benedict of Bear Pond Books in Montpelier, Vt., described the keynote as "the highlight of my NEIBA experience. Her thoughtful and compassionate discussion on everything from cultural appropriation to Facebook to Anthony Weiner was inspiring. I particularly appreciated what she said about cultural appropriation being more about aesthetic failure than ethical failure--I couldn't agree more. I now have a massive crush on Zadie and am smack dab in the middle of her gorgeous new novel."

Jan Hall of Partners Village Store, Westport, Mass., agreed: "I thoroughly enjoyed the conversation between Zadie Smith and Chris (another favorite author). Hearing her speak has added several other dimensions to reading Swing Time. I can now hear her voice, and respect more the story's time, place and characters. Zadie Smith is both elegant in visage, and eloquent in words."

The keynote, which NEIBA executive director Steve Fischer called an "extraordinary and a wonderful way to open the conference," proved to be an excellent launching pad for three days of panels, meetings, exhibits and celebrations, along with less formal yet equally important bouts of "talking books." Fischer noted that while the number of exhibitors at this year's conference was up 7% and authors (64) up 10%, bookseller attendance (400) was level with 2015, though we both agreed it felt like there were more booksellers.

"It has to be because the vibe was so positive and the enthusiasm for the authors and education was so apparent," Fischer said. I'll write in more detail next week about some of the education sessions I attended, since so much useful information was shared. This week's focus is on the events.

Andrea Beaty

As is often the case, authors celebrating booksellers was an ongoing theme. At the Children's Author & Illustrator Breakfast, Andrea Beaty (Ada Twist, Scientist), said, "You are the lifeblood of children's books.... The love you've shown for all my books has been breathtaking." She ended the presentation by reciting her "Ode to an Indie," which began "I want to say thanks to you indie booksellers/ Thank you book gals, and thank you book fellers," and concluded:

You are the heart of great kids lit.
Without your fine work we would lose much of it.
Not to get mushy, but I think it's true
That so many great books would be lost without you.

So thank you once more, yes thank you indeed,
For just the tonic this cranky world needs.
Your shops and your books soothe us like dogs with their bones,
And the best thing of all, you don't even need drones.

Fischer noted that he was "very happy with what we've done making the Awards Banquet such a festive evening of food and drink, authors and recognition of reps and bookstores." In addition to honoring Anne DeCourcey as this year's Gilman Award winner for outstanding rep, Norwich Bookstore for its Indie Spirit Award, and Elizabeth Strout as President's Award recipient, the banquet showcased the 2016 New England Book Awards winners and finalists.

In brief remarks, finalists Robin MacArthur (Half Wild: Stories) described indie bookstores as "holy places"; and Howard Frank Mosher (God's Kingdom) offered his thanks "for all you've done for clueless scribblers like me and for millions of readers throughout New England. Thank you so much for everything you've done for constitutional rights."

Sabaa Tahir

During the author breakfast on the final day, Sabaa Tahir (A Torch Against the Night) spoke of the range of people she writes for, adding: "You are the purveyors of such stories. Because it was someone very much like you who gave me my first story that, by extension, set me on this very crazy and twisty and weird path that has led me here in front of you. So, I want to say thank you for all that you do for readers, whether they're young or they're old."

And Min Jin Lee (Pachinko), whose first novel, Free Food for Millionaires, had been a BookSense #1 Pick a decade ago, summed it all up nicely: "If it had not been for independent booksellers, I would not be here today. I would not have a career."

"With 400 booksellers representing just over 100 stores we are firmly a retail booksellers conference," Fischer observed. "Our education is focused on bookseller education and the authors we choose are there so they can meet booksellers and booksellers can learn more about their books. The strong sales that most of our stores have been having for the past couple of years continued through the summer. Fall is teed up to be very strong which feeds in to a positive mood about the business in general. And wasn't it a relief to not harp on e-books and Amazon and to stick to our knitting and do what we've all been doing so well for so long--sell books!" The NEIBA conversation continues next week.

--Robert Gray, contributing editor (Column archives available at Fresh Eyes Now)

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