Shelf Awareness for Friday, December 2, 2016

Flatiron Books: The Last One at the Wedding by Jason Rekulak

Ace Books: Servant of Earth (The Shards of Magic) by Sarah Hawley

Ace Books: Toto by AJ Hackwith and The Village Library Demon-Hunting Society by CM Waggoner

Webtoon Unscrolled: Age Matters Volume Two by Enjelicious

St. Martin's Press:  How to Think Like Socrates: Ancient Philosophy as a Way of Life in the Modern World  by Donald J Robertson

Hanover Square Press: The Dallergut Dream Department Store (Original) by Miye Lee, Translated by Sandy Joosun Lee

Nosy Crow: Dungeon Runners: Hero Trial by Joe Todd-Stanton and Kieran Larwood

Andrews McMeel Publishing: A Haunted Road Atlas: Next Stop: More Chilling and Gruesome Tales from and That's Why We Drink by Christine Schiefer and Em Schulz


New ILSR Report Examines Amazon's Negative Impact

The Institute for Local Self-Reliance has published Amazon's Stranglehold: How the Company's Tightening Grip is Stifling Competition, Eroding Jobs, and Threatening Communities, a new study that "provides in-depth details on how Amazon is monopolizing the economy, undermining job growth, and weakening communities--and what can be done to address the online retailer's dominance across a growing number of marketplaces," Bookselling This Week reported.

"We commend ILSR for this in-depth and very thorough examination of Amazon's growing dominance in the retail sector--and beyond--and of the widespread deleterious effects its business practices are having across a broad range of American society," said Oren Teicher, CEO of the American Booksellers Association. "Following up on the ABA and Civic Economics 'Empty Storefronts' study--which documented the severe losses in Main Street storefronts and jobs due to the massive shift of retail spending to Amazon--the ILSR report is further proof that the American public needs decisive action from all levels of government, including the new administration and Congress, to counter Amazon's market dominance and dubious practices, which are affecting the entire economy."

Authored by ILSR co-director Stacy Mitchell and Olivia LaVecchia, a researcher with ILSR's Community-Scaled Economy Initiative, the "Amazon Stranglehold" report reveals that the online retailer is now capturing nearly $1 in every $2 that Americans spend online. The company sells more books, toys, and, by next year, apparel and consumer electronics than any retailer online or off.

With Amazon Web Services currently providing cloud computing technology for much of the country (including Netflix and the CIA), and Amazon's warehouses and delivery stations in nearly every major U.S. city, the study points out that by "controlling... critical infrastructure, Amazon both competes with other companies and sets the terms by which these same rivals can reach the market."

"It's eroding opportunity and fueling inequality, and it's concentrating power in ways that endanger competition, community life, and democracy," the authors write. "And yet these consequences have gone largely unnoticed thanks to Amazon's remarkable invisibility and the way its tentacles have quietly extended their reach." The report provides a detailed examination as to why this is the case, drawing on interviews with manufacturers, retailers, labor organizers and others.

Policy solutions recommended include encouraging policymakers to "restore the broader range of goals that guided antitrust enforcement for much of the 20th century" and to divide Amazon into separate firms, as well as prevent it from using financial resources to capsize smaller competitors. They also urge lawmakers to update labor laws at the state and federal level to protect workers' rights in the digital economy, and suggest that local and state governments should cease providing subsidies to Amazon.

Farrar, Straus and Giroux: Intermezzo by Sally Rooney

Carpe Librum Books and Art Launches Crowdfunding Campaign

Melissa Eisenmeier of Parkville, Md., has launched a GoFundMe campaign to help turn her online bookselling business Carpe Librum into a bricks-and-mortar store in Baltimore, Md., in February or March of next year. Eisenmeier is looking to raise $5,000 through her crowdfunding campaign, and plans for the physical store to be around 1,500 square feet in size with an inventory of some 5,000 titles, both new and used.

"I decided to start my own bookstore because I love books, and it seemed normal for me," said Eisenmeier. Many members of her family, including her father, her aunt and three cousins, were all entrepreneurs with their own businesses, she explained. "I grew up hearing stories about their businesses."

Eisenmeier started her online business, which is currently run out of her home, this past January. At the moment, her inventory is about two-thirds used books and one-third new, and she sells books for all ages and in all genres. Eventually, she hopes to have an inventory split about evenly between used and new books, and will sell art from Maryland artists such as Tara Fly and Joanna Barnum. Among some of the rewards for her GoFundMe backers are "paw-tographed" pictures of "senior staff cat Stan Lee"; gift certificates; and goodie bags featuring coffee from a local roaster, gift cards and original cat art from a local artist. --Alex Mutter

PM Press: P Is for Palestine: A Palestine Alphabet Book by Golbarg Bashi, Illustrated by Golrokh Nafisi

2nd & Charles Opening in Highland, Ind.

In March, Books-A-Million is opening a 2nd & Charles store in the Highland Grove Shopping Center, in Highland, Ind., in northwest Indiana, according to the Times. Until 2011, the shopping center housed a Borders.

This will be the first 2nd & Charles in Indiana. There is a Books-A-Million in nearby Hobart.

Kobo to Sell E-books Through Fnac Spain

Rakuten Kobo has partnered with cultural and electronics chain Fnac to sell e-books and e-readers through Fnac's website and locations in Spain, the the Bookseller reported.

Kobo already has partnerships with Fnac's divisions in France and Portugal, and now Fnac Spain has a digital storefront featuring e-books in Spanish, Catalan, Basque and Galician, along with Kobo's world-wide catalogue consisting of millions of titles.

"We have enjoyed great success with Fnac in France and Portugal over the past few years, and are pleased to be expanding and welcoming Fnac Spain to the partnership," Jean-Marc Dupuis, managing director of Rakuten Kobo Europe, said. "Spain is an important market for us, and together with Fnac, we will continue to spread the love of reading to book lovers across the country."


Image of the Day: Lestat on Long Island

Turn of the Corkscrew, Books & Wine in Rockville Centre, N.Y., hosted a pub-day event Tuesday featuring Anne Rice discussing her new book, Prince Lestat and the Realms of Atlantis (Knopf), with her long-time editor, Victoria Wilson. In spite of the torrential rain, some 200 people showed for the event, held at the Madison Theatre at Molloy College, and Rice signed their books and posed for photos. Pictured: owners Carol Hoenig and Peggy Zieran (standing), with Anne Rice.

Happy 40th Birthday, Regulator Bookshop!

Congratulations to the Regulator Bookshop, Durham, N.C., which is celebrating its 40th anniversary this Saturday, December 3, from 10 a.m.-8 p.m., with $40 gift certificate raffles and an anniversary cake (at 1 p.m.). In addition, the store will display Regulator memorabilia on the downstairs wall and donate 10% of the day's sales to the Durham Literacy Center and Book Harvest. Early next year, the Regulator will have a big anniversary party at the Motorco Music Hall.

The Regulator's Tom Campbell wrote to the store's many fans: "We'd like to take a moment to thank everyone who has helped to sustain this place for four decades. Thank you, so very much, for your support of this special space for books, reading, friendship, and conversation. The Regulator has always been an on-going collaboration between those of us who run the store and our customers and community. It is quite literally true that without you, there would be no us. Books open pathways to wonder, to learning, to understanding, to empathy. To life. It has been our great privilege to share all of this with you, our wonderful customers and friends."

At Penguin YRG, Anson Retiring, Britt Promoted

Effective at the end of the year, Ginny Anson, v-p, director of manufacturing at Penguin Young Readers Group, is retiring. Penguin Young Readers president Jen Loja called Anson " a true and special force in our book world. Her impact has been enormous, both because of her work--and because of who she is, at her core, with her seldom-found ability to be at once forceful and warm, driven and approachable, tenacious yet empathetic... She is a constant for us: in the way that she insists on the highest quality from our vendors and her team; in how she solves problems with grace and humor; and in the way that she takes such immense pride in the books that we produce, and in her people who produce them for us." She also praised Anson for her sense of humor, saying, "She has a distinct ability to keep everyone on track and focused, but still have us laughing the entire time."

Anson began her publishing career in 1977 as a production assistant at then Dial/Delacorte and worked her way through a few other houses and production positions, before coming to Penguin Young Readers 31 years ago.

Nadine Britt will succeed Anson: effective December 15, she becomes v-p, executive director of production, Penguin Young Readers Group. Britt started her career at Crown, and has been at Penguin Young Readers for the past 25 years, working with Anson. Loja said that Britt "has contributed to the development of many different imprints and formats of ours, providing her with the wealth of production experience that she uses every day to lead her team to heights of creativity and innovation."

Personnel Changes at Chronicle Books

At Chronicle Books, Diane Levinson has been promoted to senior publicist, effective next Monday, December 5. She was formerly a part-time publicist for Chronicle's art list and also worked for Princeton Architectural Press, which, like Chronicle, is owned by the McEvoy Group. In her new role, she will be a full-time Chronicle employee, working on publicity for the art list and corporate publicity for the brand.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Craig Nelson, Michael Lewis on CBS Sunday Morning

CBS Sunday Morning: Michael Lewis, author of The Undoing Project: A Friendship That Changed Our Minds (Norton, $28.95, 9780393254594).

Also on CBS Sunday Morning: Craig Nelson, author of Pearl Harbor: From Infamy to Greatness (Scribner, $32, 9781451660494).

TV: Big Little Lies; The Alienist

A trailer has been released for Big Little Lies, the HBO limited series based on Liane Moriarty's novel, starring Nicole Kidman, Reese Witherspoon, Shailene Woodley, Laura Dern, Alexander Skarsgård, Adam Scott, James Tupper and Zoë Kravitz, Indiewire reported. Directed by Jean-Marc Vallée (Wild) and written by David E. Kelley, Big Little Lies premieres February 19, 2017.


Daniel Brühl (Rush, Inglorious Bastards) and Luke Evans (The Girl on the Train, The Hobbit trilogy) have been cast in the key roles of Dr. Laszlo Kreizler and John Moore for TNT's upcoming straight-to-series drama The Alienist, based on the bestselling novel by Caleb Carr, Deadline reported.

The project, which is scheduled to premiere in late 2017, will be directed and executive-produced by Jakob Verbruggen (Black Mirror) and is a co-production of Paramount Television and Turner's Studio T.  Cary Fukunaga (True Detective), Eric Roth (Forrest Gump), Hossein Amini (Drive) and Anonymous Content's Steve Golin and Rosalie Swedlin, who all serve as executive producers. Production will begin in early 2017 in Budapest, Hungary.

Books & Authors

Awards: WH Smith Book of the Year; Bad Sex in Fiction

The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena was named WH Smith's Book of the Year. The Bookseller reported that the British chain "selected the book from the year's bestsellers and from titles which it viewed to have 'ultimately taken the market by storm.' "

WH Smith praised it as "a real page turner" and "one of the most talked about thrillers of the year." Sandra Bradley, the company's head of fiction, said: "I am absolutely delighted that The Couple Next Door is the WH Smith Book of the Year for 2016. It's such a thrilling read--and our customers have loved it too."


Italian author, poet and translator Erri De Luca won the 2016 Literary Review Bad Sex in Fiction Award for The Day Before Happiness, the Bookseller reported. The judges said: "This adds a further accolade to De Luca’s already distinguished list of achievements. The winning entry is a reminder that, even in the wake of Brexit, Bad Sex knows no borders."

Reading with... Paul Buckley

photo: Ingsu Liu
Paul Buckley oversees a diverse group of designers and art directors creating book covers and branding for 15 imprints and countless authors at Penguin Random House. For the past two decades, his iconic design and singular art direction has been showcased on thousands of covers and jackets, garnering him hundreds of awards and frequent invitations to speak in the United States and abroad. His book, Classic Penguin: Cover to Cover (Penguin, July 26, 2016), showcases more than 10 years of stunning cover designs from Penguin Classics. Buckley lives in Brooklyn, N.Y., with his wife, Ingsu Liu.

On your nightstand now:

The manuscript for Ben Loory's amazing new book, Tales of Falling and Flying. I like to read books I'm designing covers for as I fall asleep, as that weird between states of consciousness area is fertile for imagery--often unusable, but every once in a while a gem of an idea will present itself--if I actually remember it the next morning.

Favorite book when you were a child:

Audubon's Field Guide to North American Reptiles and Amphibians. For much of my life, I was torn between wanting to be either a herpetologist or an illustrator. Eventually my journey led me into design and art direction. I still peer under every log and stone I have the strength to hoist. Last week my finds were a copperhead, a ringneck snake, four water snakes and one garter snake.

Your top five authors:

This is an impossible task, truly, so next week they might be different, but it seems that not unlike music, my tastes lean toward formative years of my youth in which I read everything I could find by Truman Capote, Kurt Vonnegut, and Stephen King. Then later when I arrived at Penguin, I became enthralled to be working with the likes of T.C. Boyle in real time and amazing authors like Mary Shelley within the Classics.

Book you've faked reading:

I've always loved reading and am pretty sure I've never had to fake having read anything. I have literally designed thousands of book covers and clearly I cannot have enjoyed every one of those books, but be it for school or for work, I do my best to read them. Especially with fiction, in the instances where I cannot find the time to read a certain title, I may art direct it with someone who has read it, but I'll not design the cover myself.

Book you're an evangelist for:

Anything by Sam Harris.

Book you've bought for the cover:

The Gone-Away World by Nick Harkaway, designed by the always amazing Jason Booher. It has pink and green flocking and is absolutely beautifully loud and distinctive. I was on an escalator going down and saw it on a table on the floor I was leaving and had to go back upstairs and grab it.

Book you hid from your parents:

What book would one hide from one's parents? Spells to Conjure Up Satan? I Fell in Love with My Dog? No, I've never felt the need to hide any book(s) from my parents.

Book that changed your life:

Siddhartha by Herman Hesse. I learned to stop wanting to be somewhere else.

Favorite line from a book:

"All movements go too far," from Bertrand Russell's Unpopular Essays.

Five books you'll never part with:

Grammar of Ornament by Owen Jones, 1877 edition.
Les élémens, ou Premières instructions de la Jeunesse by Étienne de Blégny, 1740 edition.
The Book of Genesis Illustrated by Robert Crumb.
Salty Sayings, illustrated by Henry R. Martin, 1959.
Every art book my father gave me as a child.

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

Any of Carlos Castaneda's books. They were hugely influential on me as a child, and now that I'm a jaded adult New Yorker, I wonder, were I to re-read them, if I'd just think "yeah, right..." or whether it would re-instill in me the sense of wonder it did when I was young and impressionable. My major takeaway from these books was to stop requiring firm answers for exactly how everything works and just enjoy the wonders of the world, almost in an agnostic way. Which possibly explains why I did not excel in science and math.

Why should we buy your book:

This book was conceived and put together not only to appeal to an art and design crowd--our covers excel in this area anyway, so it will sell well to that crowd regardless--but my intent has been to have content that would appeal to anyone who reads the New York Times Book Review or the Paris Review, McSweeney's, the New Yorker, or listens to NPR, etc. Basically anyone who appreciates literature and books. We go out of our way to have authors, designers and artists of every stripe discuss the process of creating covers, which trust me is not always pretty and diplomatic. We have everyone from James Franco (yup, James Franco) to Erica Jong discussing this fascinating yet never discussed publicly facet of creating these well loved books.

Book Review

Review: The Antiques

The Antiques by Kris D'Agostino (Scribner, $26 hardcover, 304p., 9781501138973, January 10, 2017)

The drama of momentous family gatherings is such a familiar trope that it could be its own fictional subgenre. When the family is a collection of oddballs, drunks and squabbling siblings, the drama often finds its way into film or onto stage--either as comedy like The Royal Tenenbaums or as dark spiteful misanthropy like August: Osage County. A film school dropout and one-time screenwriter, Kris D'Agostino (The Sleepy Hollow Family Almanac) writes with the scene-changing zip and dialogue-laden narrative of the movies. The Westfall family in The Antiques is headed by Ana and her dying husband, George, owners of an antique shop in a gentrifying upstate Hudson River village. Their oldest son, Josef, is a hotshot, sex-addicted entrepreneur in Manhattan, desperate to sell his precarious company to cover his debts, pay support to his ex-wife and teen daughters, and avoid having to take a job "back schlepping around some soul-draining hedge fund."

Charlotte ("Charlie") lives in Los Angeles with a disappointing adjunct film professor and their toddler son, Abbott ("Her special little guy. Her cracked, beautiful dumpling. Splattered all over the spectrum like a Jackson Pollock"). Charlie works as a handler for a Paris Hilton-like actress in a string of vampire movies--"Policing YouTube videos.... Making sure Melody always wore panties when she went out... fielding Melody's drunken texts and quelling emotional meltdowns."

The youngest Westfall, Armand ("Armie"), lives in his parents' basement and crafts wood furniture, moping after a sweet young woman from his mother's church, and according to Ana, barely subsisting "unmarried, unfocused, demoralized, penniless." The siblings rarely talk; George and Ana resignedly live with each other's idiosyncrasies; their dog, Shadow, is on his last legs; and a hurricane is bearing down on the East Coast and Manhattan. Should the storm destroy their store's inventory, all George has to leave his family is his prized "lesser Magritte" hanging over their fireplace--appraised once for insurance purposes at a half million dollars.

The Antiques takes place over one week as the hurricane strikes, George dies and the Westfall children return home to sort out how to honor the life of a man who was a distant and difficult father. Unlike Ana, George wanted nothing to do with a church funeral mass, traditional burial or wake. Liquor flows, the siblings argue, Abbott throws tantrums, movie star Melody is on the run from her abusive ex-husband, Josef's daughters go ga-ga over her, Shadow can barely wag his tail at it all, and the Magritte family jewel upends George's well-intended estate plans. The Antiques is an often funny, often poignant portrait of a quirky family on the skids--but as Ana reflects: "Nobody ever said, 'Here's your family. What do you think?' You just got them. Or you didn't get them." --Bruce Jacobs, founding partner, Watermark Books & Cafe, Wichita, Kan.

Shelf Talker: The Antiques is a funny, perceptive story about the surprisingly strong bonds holding together a disparate family who gather after the death of its patriarch.

Deeper Understanding

Robert Gray: If You Could Have Dinner With...

You've seen, heard or posed the question. The New York Times Book Review's "By the Book" series asks it this way: "You're organizing a literary dinner party. Which three writers, dead or alive, do you invite?"

I once considered the question in an essay, imagining a dinner in 19th century Concord with Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Bronson Alcott, Nathaniel Hawthorne and Margaret Fuller. But the fantasy came with a reality check: "Given my working-class heritage, though, I'd probably have been serving them soup."

Mark Twain's 70th birthday dinner at Delmonico's in New York City

This week, the birthday of another notable Concord resident sparked renewed consideration of literary dinner parties, and the stakes were raised dramatically when I discovered other potential guests lurking nearby.

Louisa May Alcott turned 184 and C.S. Lewis 118 on Tuesday, just a day before Samuel (Mark Twain) Clemens hit 181 years old and Jonathan Swift a spry 349.

They all still look good for their ages--books in print, myriad biographies and scholarly works available, and perennial international media coverage of their birthdays. If you're a dead author, who could ask for anything more?

I was propelled down this rabbit hole of dead author birthday awareness when Main Street Books, Mansfield, Ohio, shared a Facebook post from Books with a Past, Glenwood, Md., featuring a necklace and Alcott's words: "She is too fond of books and it has turned her brain." I knew it was time to send out the invitations and consider topics for discussion.

Louisa May Alcott
C.S. Lewis (photo: The Wade Center)

In a Guardian piece headlined "Louisa May Alcott: a practical utopian from a divided U.S.," Rafia Zakaria observed that while she "may have balked at or been baffled by many of the conventions of today's America--being the subject of a Google Doodle might have surprised her--the divisions of its politics dominated once again by race and inequality would not have surprised her. The postbellum U.S. into which Little Women was released had been racked by its disagreements over slavery, the southern half couching its support for slavery in the language of economic survival. This year's presidential election, coming more than 150 years after the end of the civil war, pivoted once again on the maintenance of white privilege, cast now in the coded vocabulary of lost manufacturing jobs."

And on Maria Popova's Brain Pickings blog, I found this conversation starter from Lewis:

Those of us who have been true readers all our life seldom fully realize the enormous extension of our being which we owe to authors. We realize it best when we talk with an unliterary friend. He may be full of goodness and good sense but he inhabits a tiny world. In it, we should be suffocated. The man who is contented to be only himself, and therefore less a self, is in prison. My own eyes are not enough for me, I will see through those of others.

Then I went to my own bookshelves for Mark Twain's RSVP and found it in the first volume of his autobiography:

I believe that the trade of the critic, in literature, music, and the drama, is the most degraded of all trades, and that it has no real value--certainly no large value.... However, let it go. It is the will of God that we must have critics, and missionaries, and Congressmen, and humorists, and we must bear the burden. Meantime, I seem to have been drifting into criticism myself. But that is nothing. At the worst, criticism is nothing more than a crime, and I am not unused to that.

The frosting on this conversational birthday cake was re-reading Jonathan Swift's wicked, brutally satiric essay "A Modest Proposal for Preventing the Children of Poor People in Ireland from Being a Burden to Their Parents or Country, and for Making Them Beneficial to the Public."

Is there room for one more guest?

Another November 29 birthday celebrant, the late Madeleine L'Engle (a mere 98 extended years old), said in a 1983 lecture at the Library of Congress:

We all practice some form of censorship. I practiced it simply by the books I had in the house when my children were little. If I am given a budget of $500 I will be practicing a form of censorship by the books I choose to buy with that limited amount of money, and the books I choose not to buy. But nobody said we were not allowed to have points of view. The exercise of personal taste is not the same thing as imposing personal opinion.

What a conversation this is going to be. Is there even room for me, sitting silently and in awe, at the table? Well, I did fall down a rabbit hole, after all, so: "The table was a large one, but the three were all crowded together at one corner of it: 'No room! No room!' they cried out when they saw Alice coming. 'There's PLENTY of room!' said Alice indignantly, and she sat down in a large arm-chair at one end of the table."

Let's get this literary birthday dinner party started.

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

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