Shelf Awareness for Thursday, December 15, 2016

Hampton Roads Publishing Company: Becoming Baba Yaga: Trickster, Feminist, and Witch of the Woods by Kris Spisak, Foreword by Gennarose Nethercott

Dial Press: Like Mother, Like Mother by Susan Rieger

Severn House: A Messy Murder (Main) (The Decluttering Mysteries #4) by Simon Brett

Forge: My Three Dogs by Bruce W Cameron

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

Chronicle Books: Taste in Music: Eating on Tour with Indie Musicians by Luke Pyenson and Alex Beeker


Bookstore Sales Slip 1% in October, Up 3.6% for the Year

October bookstore sales dipped 1%, to $774 million, compared to October 2015, according to preliminary estimates from the Census Bureau. This marked only the second time this year that bookstore sales have fallen compared to the same period in 2015--in July bookstore sales dropped 0.9% compared to July 2015--and seemed to confirm some book retailers' reports of a slowdown in sales during the election period.

For the year to date, bookstore sales have risen 3.6%, to $9.775 billion.

Total retail sales in October rose 2.1%, to $453.7 billion. For the year to date, total retail sales have risen 2.9%, to $4,495 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."

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B&N Closing Merritt Island, Fla., Store

Barnes & Noble is closing its location in Merritt Island, Fla., near Cape Canaveral, at the end of the year, Florida Today reported. The store, in Sabal Pointe Plaza, had been in business for about two decades.

B&N continues to operate a store in Melbourne, about 20 miles south.

GLOW: Sourcebooks Landmark: A Forty Year Kiss by Nickolas Butler

Steven Pace New Director of Trade Sales at Norton

Steven Pace

Effective January 2, Steven Pace, who has been sales director at Workman Publishing since 2004, is joining W.W. Norton as director of trade sales. He follows William F. Rusin, who joined Norton in 1971, has headed trade sales since 1980 and is now retiring.

Brendan Curry, v-p, trade sales and marketing, at Norton, commented: "There are few people who could step smoothly into the shoes of the exceptional Bill Rusin, but Steven Pace is superbly qualified to do so. With his background in all aspects of book sales at firms both large and small, his outstanding reputation for management and leadership, and his sterling relationships with independent, chain, specialty, and online booksellers, he is one of the most highly respected people in the industry. Importantly, he understands the independent, employee-owned spirit and practice of our operation and will move us forward seamlessly."

Pace began his career in 1988 as a bookseller at Chapter Two Bookstore in Charleston, S.C., then moved to Random House in 1994 as a regional field sales rep and eventually became trade sales director overseeing field sales groups selling adult lines in North America. In 2002, he moved to Baker & Taylor as v-p and sales director, managing the company's sales into retail accounts. Since 2004, he has been sales director at Workman, where he has overseen trade sales and managed a range of accounts for Workman and its publishers.

"I could not be more excited to join Norton, because the house exemplifies many of the best experiences I have enjoyed over the course of my career," Pace said. "The chance to work in an independent setting with a group of smart, well-read, and highly motivated colleagues on a diverse list of books of literary significance, and the value placed on each and every bookselling relationship, presents irresistible opportunities."

Craig Popelars New Associate Publisher at Algonquin

Craig Popelars

Craig Popelars has been named associate publisher for the Algonquin Books adult division, effective immediately. Popelars, who joined Algonquin 22 years ago, will continue to direct Algonquin's marketing and sales initiatives while taking on new management and leadership responsibilities, working with both the Chapel Hill and New York offices.

"It pleases me enormously to announce this promotion," said Elisabeth Scharlatt, Algonquin's publisher. "After so many years contributing to Algonquin's success--bringing creativity and imagination to the company and to many bestselling books--Craig's reach will extend even further toward the company's growth. I look forward to continuing our work together."

At ABA, Staff Changes and Promotions

The American Booksellers Association has announced a series of changes and promotions, effective January 1:

After 16 years with the ABA and 41 years in the industry, development officer Mark Nichols is retiring. (He'll continue working through the Winter Institute in January.) ABA CEO Oren Teicher praised "the incredible contributions Mark has made [that] will make him very hard to replace.... Mark has become a friend to all of us, and we will miss him a great deal."

Matthew Zoni, manager of the ABC Children's Group at ABA, is being promoted to director of development and publisher relations and will become a member of ABA's senior staff. He will take on some of Nichols's responsibilities as the primary contact for publishers for all ABA events, as well as supervise the White/Red Box mailings, the annual Celebration of Bookselling lunch, the Galley Room, and other functions. Teicher noted that Zoni has done "a stellar job with our children's programming these past years."

Peter Reynolds, project coordinator, will take on an expanded role as project manager and will have primary responsibility for the Indie Next Lists and the Indie Bestseller Lists, among other initiatives.

Linda Ford will continue as ABA design and production manager and will add several new responsibilities.

Gen de Botton, program and development coordinator, is being promoted to ABC group manager, taking on many of the functions previously handled by Zoni.

Unrelated to Nichols's departure, senior public policy analyst David Grogan is being promoted to director of public policy and advocacy, joining the association's senior staff.

In addition, the ABA has created a senior staff executive committee composed of chief financial officer Robyn DesHotel, senior program officer Joy Dallanegra-Sanger and chief strategy officer Dan Cullen, a committee to which all other ABA other officers and directors will report. The creation of the committee is aimed at "improving the association's current management structure and providing increased guidance for senior staff."

Obituary Notes: Nancy Mairs; E. R. Braithwaite

Nancy Mairs, "whose encounters with mental illness, disease and religious faith found expression in a series of trenchant, intensely personal essays and memoirs," died December 3, the New York Times reported. She was 73.

Her books include Voice Lessons: On Becoming a (Woman) Writer; Plaintext: Deciphering a Woman's Life; Waist-High in the World: A Life Among the Nondisabled; Ordinary Time: Cycles in Marriage, Faith and Renewal; Carnal Acts; and A Dynamic God: Living an Unconventional Catholic Faith.

"A lifetime of disease and suffering led her, almost inevitably, to write A Troubled Guest: Life and Death Stories (2001)," the Times noted. "Her interest, she wrote in one of the book's essays, 'A Necessary End,' lay in 'the role of affliction in perfecting human experience.' Viewed from a spiritual perspective, she added, it is 'simply an element in the human condition, to be neither courted nor combated. To refuse to suffer is to refuse fully to live.' "


E.R. Braithwaite, a Guyanese author, diplomat and former Royal Air Force pilot whose 1959 book To Sir, with Love, "a memoir of teaching in London's deprived East End, was adapted into a hit 1967 film starring Sidney Poitier," died December 12, the New York Times reported. He was 104. The book was "timely, arriving as a wave of migration from the West Indies and South Asia began to transform British society, and as Americans were grappling with persistent segregation."

Braithwaite became a diplomat and represented Guyana at the U.N. and in Venezuela. He wrote several books, "many about racism in countries like South Africa and the United States, where he lived much of his life," the Times noted. Those titles include Paid Servant: A Report About Welfare Work in London (1962); A Kind of Homecoming (1962); Choice of Straws (1965); Reluctant Neighbors; and Honorary White: A Visit to South Africa (1975).


Image of the Day: Mountain Vistas at McIntyre's Books

Photographer and author Tim Barnwell appeared recently at McIntyre's Books at Fearrington Village, Pittsboro, N.C., for a talk and book signing. Pictured above, on the right, with store manager Peter Mock, Barnwell is the author of five photography books, including Great Smoky Mountains Vistas: A Guide, with Mountain Peak Identifications, for What to See and Do In and Around the National Park and Blue Ridge Parkway Vistas, both from Numinous Editions.

John Grisham: '10 Reasons Why Books Make the Best Gifts'

In a letter to readers, author John Grisham suggested "10 reasons why books make the best gifts":

  1. Books are easier to wrap than footballs or fruit baskets.
  2. Books don't break.
  3. Once you finish with a book, it's not empty. In fact it's still full.
  4. No batteries or assembly needed.
  5. Books don't make annoying noises that alarm pets or grandparents.
  6. One size fits all.
  7. No ironing or washing or maintenance of any kind required.
  8. Books are non-perishable.
  9. There's a book for everyone, even Uncle Albert, who reads only post-modern detective westerns.
  10. Giving a book shows how well you know and how much you respect the recipient.

Hachette to Distribute Joe Books

Effective July 1, 2017, Hachette Book Group will sell and distribute all titles published by Joe Books in the U.S. and Canada.

Founded in 2014, Joe Books, Toronto, Ont., publishes books, graphic novels and comics. It has partnered with media companies such as the Walt Disney Company, Marvel Worldwide, DreamWorks Animation and Chooseco (Choose Your Own Adventure) to make books out of some of the largest media properties in the world, including Moana, Zootopia, Frozen, Inside Out, Trolls, Kung Fu Panda, Guardians of the Galaxy and Captain America. One of its most popular products is the Cinestory line, which creates media-tie-in comics using original scripts and high-definition screen captures. Joe Books also publishes collections and treasuries of previously published content, a new monthly comic line and original graphic novels based on live-action movies.

Todd McGarity, v-p of Hachette Client Services, said that Joe Books' "unique formats and access to premium licensed content is a combination in demand by both consumers and retailers, and we look forward to expanding their distribution."

Red Wheel/Weiser Adds Two Distribution Clients

Effective January 1, Red Wheel/Weiser will be the exclusive distributor for all print titles published by Cleis Press and Viva Editions.

Founded in 1980, Cleis Press specializes in sex, sexuality and gender books with a focus on LGBTQ, BDSM, romance and erotic writing for all sexual preferences and aims to change how people read and think about sexual behavior, culture and education. Started as a general trade imprint of Cleis, Viva Editions publishes books that inform, enlighten and entertain.

Cleis and Viva titles are currently distributed by Publishers Group West, which will accept returns through June 30, 2017.


Effective January 1, Red Wheel/Weiser will be exclusive print and digital distributor in North America for Aeon Books. Founded in 2004, Aeon Books publishes mind, mysticism and magic titles, both new and classics.

Aeon Books titles are currently distributed by Stylus Publishing, which will accept returns through March 31, 2017.

Red Wheel/Weiser president Michal Kerber commented: "We're very happy to welcome these publishers to our growing roster of distribution clients. Cleis Press has a great reputation and is a true leader in their field; Viva Editions complements our Conari Press titles very nicely and Aeon Books with their focus on the Western mystery tradition fits perfectly with our Weiser Books imprint."

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Dr. Anna Lembke on Fresh Air

Fresh Air: Dr. Anna Lembke, author of Drug Dealer, MD: How Doctors Were Duped, Patients Got Hooked, and Why It's So Hard to Stop (Johns Hopkins University Press, $19.95, 9781421421407).

This Weekend on Book TV: Thomas L. Friedman

Book TV airs on C-Span 2 this weekend from 8 a.m. Saturday to 8 a.m. Monday and focuses on political and historical books as well as the book industry. The following are highlights for this coming weekend. For more information, go to Book TV's website.

December 17
3:15 p.m. Thomas L. Friedman, author of Thank You for Being Late: An Optimist's Guide to Thriving in the Age of Accelerations (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $28, 9780374273538). (Re-airs Sunday at 10:45 p.m.)

4:30 p.m. John Simpson, author of The Word Detective: Searching for the Meaning of It All at the Oxford English Dictionary (Basic Books, $27.99, 9780465060696), at Politics & Prose Bookstore in Washington, D.C. (Re-airs Sunday at 6 a.m.)

5:30 p.m. Sandra Cisneros, author of A House of My Own: Stories from My Life (Vintage, $15, 9780345807175), at the Fall for the Book Festival in Fairfax, Va., which took place in September. (Re-airs Monday at 1:30 a.m.)

7 p.m. Jeremy Duda, author of If This Be Treason: The American Rogues and Rebels Who Walked the Line Between Dissent and Betrayal (Lyons Press, $26.95, 9781493024018), at Changing Hands Bookstore in Tempe, Ariz. (Re-airs Sunday at 7 a.m.)

7:45 p.m. H.W. Brands, author of The General vs. the President: MacArthur and Truman at the Brink of Nuclear War (Doubleday, $30, 9780385540575). (Re-airs Monday at 4 a.m.)

10 p.m. Jason Brennan, author of Against Democracy (Princeton University Press, $29.95, 9780691162607). (Re-airs Sunday at 9 p.m. and Monday at 12 a.m. and 3 a.m.)

December 18
1:30 a.m. Jonathan Zimmerman, author of Campus Politics: What Everyone Needs to Know (Oxford University Press, $16.95, 9780190627409). (Re-airs Sunday at 5 p.m.)

3 a.m. Thomas Lake, co-author of Unprecedented: The Election That Changed Everything (Melcher Media, $40, 9781595910967), at Politics & Prose Bookstore in Washington, D.C. (Re-airs Sunday at 6:30 p.m.)

7:30 p.m. Matthew Christopher, author and photographer of Abandoned America: Dismantling The Dream (Carpet Bombing Culture, $39.95, 9781908211422).

10 p.m. Margaret Creighton, author of The Electrifying Fall of Rainbow City: Spectacle and Assassination at the 1901 World's Fair (Norton, $28.95, 9780393247503).

Books & Authors

Awards: Irish Book of the Year

Mike McCormack won the Bord Gáis Energy Irish Book of the Year award for Solar Bones, a novel written in a single 223-page sentence. The winner was chosen by public vote from the list of category winners announced at the recent Bord Gáis Energy Irish Book Awards.

The prize organizers praised the novel as "a profound new work by one of Ireland's most important contemporary novelists.... Funny and strange, McCormack's ambitious and other-worldly novel plays with form and defies convention. A beautiful and haunting elegy, this story of order and chaos, love and loss captures how minor decisions ripple into waves and test our integrity every day."

Attainment: New Titles Out Next Week

Selected new titles appearing next Tuesday, December 20:

Take Back the Sky by Greg Bear (Orbit, $26, 9780316223973) concludes the military sci-fi War Dogs trilogy.

The Cat Sitter and the Canary by John Clement and Blaize Clement (Minotaur, $25.99, 9781250051172) is the 11th mystery with pet sitter Dixie Hemingway.

Batman Vol. 10: Epilogue by Scott Snyder and James Tynion IV, illustrated by Greg Capullo (DC Comics, $22.99, 9781401267735) concludes the latest run of Batman stories.

Super Turbo Saves the Day by Lee Kirby, illustrated by George O'Connor (Little Simon, $5.99, 9781481488846) is an early-reader series debut about a classroom hamster who is not what he seems.

Melt (Steel Brothers Saga) by Helen Hardt (Waterhouse Press, $15.99, 9781943893201).

A Monster Calls, based on the novel by Patrick Ness, opens December 23. Sigourney Weaver stars in this story of a boy with a terminally ill mother who meets a strange, possibly helpful tree monster. A movie tie-in edition (Candlewick, $9.99, 9780763692155) is available.

Silence, based on the novel by Shûsaku Endô, has a limited release on December 23, with a wide release on January 7, 2017. Martin Scorsese directs Adam Driver, Andrew Garfield and Liam Neeson as Jesuit priests in 17th-century Japan, when Christianity was banned. A movie tie-in edition (Picador Modern Classics, $16, 9781250082275) comes out January 10, 2017.

Julieta, based on three short stories by Alice Munro, opens December 21. This Spanish film follows a heartbroken middle-aged woman in Madrid. Julieta: Three Stories That Inspired the Movie was just published by Vintage ($11, 9780525434252) and includes a foreword by director Pedro Almodóvar.

IndieBound: Other Indie Favorites

From last week's Indie bestseller lists, available at, here are the recommended titles, which are also Indie Next Great Reads:

The History of Rock & Roll, Volume 1: 1920-1963 by Ed Ward (Flatiron Books, $35, 9781250071163). "This is a great, fun book by Ward, a correspondent for NPR's All Things Considered and one of the founders of the South by Southwest Conference and Festivals (SXSW). Covering the period of 1920 to 1963, almost every chapter in the book is devoted to a single year and the songs that were recorded and/or released during that year. This is a broad overview that substitutes breadth for depth but doesn't spare the entertainment factor. Ward's sweeping survey reads like the 400-plus page liner notes for a 1,000-song box set and, as a music nerd, that is one of the best compliments I can give!" --Joe Turner, BookPeople, Austin, Tex.

To Capture What We Cannot Keep: A Novel by Beatrice Colin (Flatiron Books, $25.99, 9781250071446). "Societal constraints and expectations of the time impede the love affair of Caitriona Wallace and Émile Nouguier from the moment they meet in a hot air balloon above the Champ de Mars in 1886. Émile's ailing mother is pressuring him to marry, start a family, and take over the family business even as he is facing both public and professional stress as co-designer of the Eiffel Tower. Cait is a young Scottish widow forced to work as a chaperone to a wealthy brother and sister. Cait's and Émile's paths cross and crisscross as Colin vividly captures the sights and sounds of La Belle Epoque in this quiet, atmospheric novel." --Jennifer Gwydir, Blue Willow Bookshop, Houston, Tex.

Moranifesto by Caitlin Moran (Harper Perennial, $15.99, 9780062433756). "Moran is a British journalist whose columns are known for covering a broad range of topics, from feminism and politics to fashion and TV. Some of those columns are reprinted in Moranifesto, a hilarious collection of opinion pieces that are Moran's personal manifesto for changing the world. The collection covers topics as diverse as the Syrian refugee crisis, cystitis, David Bowie, and why she no longer wears heels. As dissimilar as these themes may be, they are all tackled with the blunt humor for which Moran is known. Moranifesto is gloriously funny, feminist, and timely." --Agnes Galvin, Oblong Books & Music, Millerton, N.Y.

For Ages 4 to 8
Pug Man's 3 Wishes by Sebastian Meschenmoser (NorthSouth, $16.95, 9780735842618). "Grouchy Mr. Pug is having a terrible day, but when he is offered three wishes by an exuberant fairy, what he wishes for will have young readers giggling and older folks nodding in agreement. Meschenmoser, the author/illustrator of Mr. Squirrel and the Moon, again gives us his unique and hilarious take on human nature, and no one will be able to resist his wonderful pencil drawings, which so perfectly convey Pug Man's grumpiness." --Mary Alice Garber, Politics & Prose Bookstore and Coffeehouse, Washington, D.C.

For Ages 9 to 12
Journey's End by Rachel Hawkins (Putnam, $16.99, 9780399169601). "Southerner and amateur ghost hunter Nolie Stanhope isn't thrilled to be spending her summer vacation with her father in the Scottish village Journey's End. This changes when she becomes friends with Bel McKissick and discovers a mysterious fog bank called the Boundary. When Albert Etheridge, who disappeared in 1914, reappears in the fog with no memory of how he got there and other people start disappearing, it's up to Nolie and Bel to save the village. Journey's End is a fun, fast-paced story of mystery, history, and friendship." --Sami Thomason, Square Books, Oxford, Miss.

For Teen Readers
Trish Trash #1: Rollergirl of Mars by Jessica Abel (Papercutz, $14.99, 9781629916149). "This is everything I want in a graphic novel: a protagonist who is not willing to give up on her dreams, in a rollicking adventure in a science fiction world. This first book in a projected trilogy is highly relatable with enough action to keep the reader interested, but not overwhelmed. I can't wait to read more of Trish's adventures!" --Clarissa Hadge, Trident Booksellers & Café, Boston, Mass.

[Many thanks to IndieBound and the ABA!]

Book Review

Review: Transit

Transit by Rachel Cusk (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $26 hardcover, 272p., 9780374278625, January 17, 2017)

Following her 2015 novel, Outline--one that the New York Times' Dwight Garner called "poised and cerebral" with "little in the way of straightforward plot"--Rachel Cusk's Transit is the second in a trilogy and employs a similar style. It's a cool, deliberate book that relies on extended conversations and its narrator's sharp eye to explore themes like fact and fiction, fate and free will.

Transit moves its divorced English protagonist Faye from the sweltering Athens of Outline to autumnal London, where she's recently purchased a decaying flat she can barely afford in an upscale neighborhood. Plunging herself deeper into debt, she embarks on a costly renovation project whose disruption, along with the presence of her two adolescent sons, draws her into a bizarre conflict with the aged couple living below, "crouched malevolently in the psyche of the house like Beckett's Nagg and Nell in their dustbins." That sense of living in the discomfort of the in-between, realizing "how vulnerable you were when your house was being ripped apart," unsettles her.

Though the novel is mostly devoid of dramatic incident, save for a brief, explosive episode at a hair stylist's shop, Cusk places Faye in intriguing settings that allow verbally dexterous characters ample freedom to unburden themselves. One of the more striking occasions is a panel where a pair of authors who've moved like conjoined twins on the literary circuit expound on sharply contrasting accounts of their troubled childhoods. One of them, Julian, describes how writing his book had been "both a torment and a relief, like pulling a knife out of his own chest," while the Knausgaardian product of his counterpart, Louis, was "just the low-lying truth of his ordinary existence," a faint echo of Cusk's style.

The novel's final scene unfolds on a fog-shrouded night at a dinner party in the English countryside. There, amid the chaos of their unruly children, the participants engage each other, as the narrator teases out the host's view of fate, her own rejecting the idea of a powerlessness that "reduced other people to the moral status of characters and camouflaged their capacity to destroy." In both Outline and Transit, Rachel Cusk has gambled that there's an audience for a novel that emphasizes ideas over action and rests its claim to our attention on the consistent keenness of its insights into our human relationships. There's certainly enough of those qualities here to entice readers into discovering what awaits in the final volume of the trilogy. --Harvey Freedenberg, attorney and freelance reviewer

Shelf Talker: The second volume of a trilogy, Rachel Cusk's Transit follows the narrator back to London for more intriguing encounters.

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