Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Holiday House: Ros Demir Is Not the One by Leyla Brittan

HarperAlley: I Shall Never Fall In Love by Hari Conner

W. W. Norton & Company to Sell and Distribute Yale University Press and Harvard University Press

Clarion Books: The Man Who Didn't Like Animals by Deborah Underwood, Illlustrated by LeUyen Pham

Holiday House: Bye Forever, I Guess by Jodi Meadows and Team Canteen 1: Rocky Road by Amalie Jahn

Wednesday Books: Dust by Alison Stine

Quotation of the Day

'Don't Shop at Amazon's New Chicago Store'

"I have a favor to ask: When Amazon opens its retail store in the Southport Corridor area of Lakeview later this year, please do not shop there.... Obviously, Chicago isn't going to become a ghost town, but we should be very aware of the cultural and community riches we have in our many independent book stores.

"The vitality of places like Women & Children First, Quimby's, Unabridged Bookstore, City Lit Books, RoscoeBooks and a dozen others I could name are part of what make Chicago a vibrant city. That vitality is also why I am not overly worried about an Amazon store colonizing Lakeview.

"Chicago is better than this.

"But we must be vigilant in the face of these threats and remind ourselves that the people who own and work in the local stores are our neighbors, are here to stay and are invested in ways a corporation could never match.

"We have seen how easy it is to let something meaningful slip through our fingers. Chicago's literary culture shouldn't be trusted to one man in Seattle."

--John Warner, the Chicago Tribune's "Biblioracle," in a recent column headlined "Don't shop at Amazon's new Chicago store"

 Treasure Books, Inc.: There's Treasure Inside by Jon Collins-Black


Pearson Wants to Sell Its PRH Stake

In announcing more bad financial news this morning, Pearson indicated for the first time that it wants to sell the 47% of Penguin Random House that it owns, and is sending partner Bertelsmann, which owns the other 53%, an "exit notice." In November, Pearson CEO John Fallon had said the company "will consider" selling its stake in 2017.

Bertelsmann responded this morning with a statement from CEO Thomas Rabe: "We are open to increasing our stake in Penguin Random House, provided the financial terms are fair," adding, "Strategically this would not only strengthen one of our most important content businesses, it would also once further strengthen our presence in the United States, our second largest market."

Under the 2012 merger agreement that created PRH, each company had to hold its stake for three years and each has the right of first refusal if the other wants to sell. Last year, according to the Guardian, Rabe said that Bertelsmann would be comfortable with 70%-75% ownership and said investors were interested in the remaining share.

Pearson CEO Coram Williams told analysts today that this is "the right time" to sell its stake in PRH because, the Bookseller quoted, "the impact of new e-book contractual terms negotiated under the new agency agreement was 'now clear.' "

Williams added that there is "no set price" for the sale and that the two companies will try to agree on a price or involve independent assessors. A sale is expected to take at least several months.

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Presidential Transition: Turning the Page

As Inauguration Day approaches, the book world--and booksellers in particular--bids adieu to the president that many are calling the "Reader-in-Chief" with a variety of tributes while preparing for a new administration that's less book-loving.

President Obama and his daughters shopped at Politics & Prose in 2014 (photo: Pete Souza/White House)

Politics & Prose, Washington, D.C., wrote that it's "grateful to a president who is also known as the 'Reader-in-Chief,' and a steadfast supporter of indies in D.C. We were excited to welcome Barack, Sasha and Malia Obama to our store on two Small Business Saturdays, in 2013 and 2014. In our city alone, the Obamas also visited Kramerbooks in 2011, One More Page Books in 2012, and Upshur Street Books in 2015.

"Even when he's not supporting independent bookstores, the president is an enthusiastic reader. The White House issues a reading list every summer, with recent years featuring various titles that also happen to be perennial P&P favorites, including 2016's The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead, and The Sixth Extinction by Elizabeth Kolbert in 2015.

"Happily, we're not saying farewell to the Obamas just yet, as they're staying right here in Washington, D.C. Mr. President, you and your family are always welcome to browse the shelves at Politics & Prose, and thank you."

As noted here already, P&P has organized a series of teach-ins, the first of which, on the subject of civil liberties, drew some 400 people to the store (with hundreds watching via Facebook Live) on Sunday, January 8. At 4 p.m. on Friday, Inauguration Day, the store is holding its second teach-in, which features Fatima Goss Graves, Jennifer Klein and Rebecca Traister discussing women's rights under the new administration.

And at 7 p.m. on Saturday, after the Women's March, Jessica Valenti, author of Sex Object: A Memoir, will appear.


[words], Maplewood, N.J., which opened on Inauguration Day in 2009, when President Obama's first term began, has put up a "Thank You, President & Mrs. Obama" window display of books by and about the Obamas. "Eight years later, our community and bookstore are thriving," owners Jonah and Ellen Zimiles wrote. "We salute you President and Mrs. Obama. Yes we did! #ThanksObama."


In the q&a period after his keynote speech yesterday at Digital Book World yesterday in New York City, Macmillan CEO John Sargent praised President Obama's reading habits but offered a major publisher's perspective, saying, "Although Mr. Obama is culturally on our side, it's not as if all his business practices were beneficial to the publishing world."

He mentioned the Justice Department's 2012 e-book agency model collusion case against five major publishers, which "helped increase the power of the digital side of the business." In addition, the administration, he said, spent "a huge amount of money to produce free materials for higher education that competed with existing educational publishers."

As for the new president, Sargent noted that Trump is not a reader, but that "many presidents are not readers." He emphasized that he would wait "and make no judgments until I see what his policies are."


Busboys and Poets is holding its Peace Ball: Voices of Hope and Resistance from 8 p.m.-1 a.m. on Thursday, January 19, at the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. The gathering aims "to celebrate the accomplishments and successes of the past four years and the vow to continue to be the change we want to see in the world." Tickets start at $200 and include food, open bar, live music and dancing. All exhibits to the museum will be open during the ball.


For its part, on Friday, Broadway Books, Portland, Ore., will mark Inauguration Day by distributing free copies--one per customer while supplies last--of We Should All Be Feminists, the book-essay by Chimamande Ngozi Adichie based on her TEDx talk and published by Anchor Books.

The store described the book this way: We Should All Be Feminists "encourages us all to embrace the importance of feminism, which she defines as believing in the social, political, and economic equality of the sexes. Yes, men and women are biologically different, she says, but socializing them differently only exaggerates those differences and doesn't allow them to develop their true selves."

Co-owner Sally McPherson said: "We wanted to kick off the new year by celebrating the power of women to do great things. As the owners of a bookstore founded by women, and still women-owned after almost 25 years, we appreciate strong women, and we rejoice in the men who respectfully support and stand alongside them."

The store picked Inauguration Day because, McPherson continued, "when we inaugurate a new president and bring in a new administration, it's a time of new beginnings and new challenges, a chance to reflect on where we are as a country, where we want to go, and how we want to get there. We found the words of this international voice to be particularly inspiring and wanted to share them with our customers."

Co-owner Kim Bissell added: "We believe that all our voices matter and hope to inspire our children to reach for their goals based on their desires and abilities and not their gender."


On Saturday, January 21, Laurie Gillman, owner of East City Bookshop, Washington, D.C., and Donna Paz Kaufman of Paz & Associates are organizing a book industry meet-up prior to the Women's March on Washington, to which book industry colleagues, including booksellers, publishers, editors, agents, authors, librarians, and friends and family, are invited. The group will meet by the Neptune Fountain at the front of the Jefferson Building of the Library of Congress at 10 a.m. The book industry meet-up has its own Facebook page.

At 5 p.m., after the march, East City Bookshop (at 645 Pennsylvania Avenue SE) invites participants to join a group of poets, readers and book professionals for hot tea and cocoa followed by a poetry performance featuring human rights activist, editor and poet Carolyn Forché, with poets Samantha Thornhill, Lauren Alleyne and Danielle Chapman. A discussion with the audience will follow. 


To allow its staff to attend the Women's March Los Angeles, Skylight Books will open late, at 2:30 p.m., on Saturday. In a note, the store wrote, "We're terribly sorry for any inconvenience this causes. We know that you, our wonderful customers, rely on us to be there when you need us, and Saturday mornings are usually a very busy time here at the store. But in this case, it was so important to our booksellers that they be able to participate in this historic, nationwide show of support for women's rights (and human rights) that we've decided, on this occasion, to allow all our staff the morning off."

For Sale: Lorelei Books in Vicksburg, Miss.

Laura and Troy Weeks, owners of Lorelei Books in Vicksburg, Miss., have decided to retire and are seeking new owners for their bookstore, which is located on Washington Street downtown. In a letter posted on Facebook recently, Laura wrote: "It's with mixed feelings that I tell you I will retire from bookstore ownership this year. I've owned and operated Lorelei Books for over ten years, building not only a successful business, but a relationship with the community--something I could never recreate or forget."

Noting that "we'd like to see the bookstore carried on" and citing the resurgence of indies nationwide, she added: "Because we own the building, we can offer the new owner a reasonable lease. So, we're open to serious inquiries about buying Lorelei Books. This transition was not based on economics or health. Lorelei Books continues to be a profitable business, downtown Vicksburg is more vibrant than ever, and Troy and I are both well. The bookstore will remain open regular hours; by continuing to shop here you can be a partner to the store's changing hands." If a buyer for the bookstore is not found, the store will close.

Weeks also expressed gratitude to "everyone who has supported my business over the years. You understand that this wasn't just about selling books. Not long ago, I stood outside and watched a homecoming parade roll past the bookstore. In one of the convertibles was a young lady who, as a seven-year-old, told me she wanted to someday work at Lorelei Books. She grew up in the bookstore and did indeed work here. Dreams realized--that's what this has been about, and you have been a part of it."

A Vicksburg Post editorial noted: "Lorelei Books has been an integral part of downtown Vicksburg. The Weekses have been involved in the community and have hosted booksignings and other events which have brought residents and tourists alike into the downtown area.... If you’ve ever thought about owning your own business, maybe now is the time. Perhaps it’s you who needs to seize the day."

Amazon to Open New Warehouse in Maryland

Amazon plans to open a 1.2 million-square-foot fulfillment center in North East, Md. The company currently operates two fulfillment and sortation centers in Baltimore. Akash Chauhan, v-p of North America operations, said the state "has an incredible workforce, and we are so happy to have this opportunity to expand in the state to serve customers."

"Creating jobs and growing Maryland's economy is a top priority of our administration," said Governor Larry Hogan, calling Amazon's continued investment in the state "a great example of companies that choose to locate and expand their business right here in Maryland--a testament to our state's growing economy."

Obituary Note: Babette Cole

English children's author and illustrator Babette Cole, who was best known for Princess Smartypants (1986), "a feminist retelling of a traditional fairy tale romance," died January 14, the Bookseller reported. She was 67. Her many books include Mummy Laid an Egg!, The Smelly Book and The Trouble With Mum.

Ron Johns, owner of several of bookshops--including the Falmouth Bookseller and the Padstow Bookseller--said Cole was a "delightful person" and a "comic genius." Johns, who was also her publisher at Mabecron Books (which released The Wild West Country Tale of James Rabbit and the Giggleberries in 2014), added: "In some ways she was as mad as a box of frogs but always very professional. She always submitted her artwork on time. She was completely irreverent and loved challenging authority."

Francesca Dow, managing director of Penguin Random House Children's, which published the original Princess Smartypants, told the Bookseller that Cole was an "irrepressible force in children's picture book publishing with her witty and anarchic stories and gave children and adults a way to talk about otherwise tricky subjects, through her brave, stereotype-defying humor. The children's book world will be a less colorful place without her."

Anne McNeil, senior publisher at Hodder Children's Books, which published Princess Smartypants and the Missing Princes and the upcoming Princess Smartypants and the Fairy Geek Mothers, said she was "shocked and saddened" by the news of Cole's death: "Her passion and talent as a children's book writer and illustrator will be much missed. She was, in particular, a real leader in developing a more open, humorous and child-friendly way to talking to children about the facts of life in accessible picture-book form. It's difficult to comprehend the loss of someone who was so quintessentially full of life. Our thoughts are with Babette's family and friends."

G.L.O.W. - Galley Love of the Week
Be the first to have an advance copy!
Private Rites
by Julia Armfield
GLOW: Flatiron Books: Private Rites by Julia Armfield

In Private Rites, Julia Armfield (Our Wives Under the Sea; salt slow) offers an atmospheric meditation on sisterhood and loss at the end of the world. Living in a bleak, water-inundated city where the rain rarely stops, Isla, Irene, and Agnes are shocked at the abrupt death of their father, who has left his house to only one of them. As they grapple with his last manipulation, they must grapple, too, with what it means to have relationships with each other beyond his reach. As Flatiron Books executive editor Caroline Bleeke notes, Armfield's novel may be about "difficult things," yet it "manages to be so funny, so loving, so brilliant, and so beautifully, singularly written." Private Rites is a testament to the light that can be found in each other, even in the darkest of times. --Alice Martin

(Flatiron, $27.99 Hardcover, 9781250344311, December 3, 2024)


Shelf vetted, publisher supported


Image of the Day: Winter (Institute) Survival Kit

The folks at Penguin Random House, mindful of the weather forecast for the upcoming Winter Institute in Minneapolis, provided WI Survival Kits for hundreds of booksellers. Modeling the kit's contents (a Little Golden Books beanie, a Penguin ice scraper and a Borzoi shot glass) are (l.-r.) Anne-Lise Spitzer, Knopf v-p and director of marketing; Barbara Marcus, president & publisher, Random House Children's Books; and Mallory Conder, sales coordinator, Penguin Random House.

Personnel Changes at St. Martin's

Laura Clark has been named associate publisher of nonfiction at St. Martin's Press, which she joined six years ago.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Cokie Roberts on the View

The View: Cokie Roberts, author of Ladies of Liberty: The Women Who Shaped Our Nation (HarperCollins, $17.99, 9780060780050).

Wendy Williams: Judy Joo, author of Korean Food Made Simple (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $30, 9780544663305).

TV: The Alienist

Dakota Fanning will co-star in TNT's highly anticipated adaptation of Caleb Carr's bestselling novel The Alienist, Variety reported, adding that the project is scheduled to debut later this year. The cast also includes Daniel Bruhl and Luke Evans. Production on the series, which is from Paramount TV and Turner's Studio, begins soon in Budapest. Variety noted that The Alienist "is TNT's biggest drama swing for the coming year."

Books & Authors

Awards: T.S. Eliot Poetry; SCBWI Spark

Jacob Polley won the £20,000 (about $24,745) T.S. Eliot Poetry Prize for Jackself, his collection of "loosely autobiographical poems [that] use the 'Jack' of nursery rhyme and local legend to tell the story of a childhood in rural Cumbria," the Guardian reported.

Chair of judges Ruth Padel described Jackself as "a firework of a book; inventive, exciting and outstanding in its imaginative range and depth of feeling.... Rather like Geoffrey Hill's Mercian Hymns, he is looking at a childhood though a very English mythology. He has taken a word out of Gerard Manley Hopkins--'Jackself'--as the starting point for a collection that is incredibly inventive and very moving.

"It's a sort of autobiography, set in a place called Lamanby, but it's really like Mervyn Peake's Gormenghast, where everything is strange. His mastery of phrase and rhythm and the control of line, combined with the hurts of childhood and his glee in inventive language, have taken his writing to a new level."


The Society of Children's Book Writers & Illustrators has announced winners of the 2017 Spark Award, which recognizes excellence in children's books published through non-traditional publishing platforms. The illustrated book winner is Soldier by Kara Van Kirk Levin, illustrated by Vlada Soshkina and Polina Doroshenko. The winning book for older readers is Through the Barricades by Denise Deegan. Levin and Deegan will be invited to take part in a book signing at an SCBWI conference this year, and will also receive free conference attendance, a Spark seal for their books, a press release and publicity through the SCBWI media networks.

Reading with... Steve Sheinkin

photo: Erica Miller

Steve Sheinkin is the award-winning author of fast-paced, cinematic nonfiction histories for young readers. The Port Chicago 50: Disaster, Mutiny, and the Fight for Civil Rights was a National Book Award finalist and received the 2014 Boston Globe/Horn Book Award for Nonfiction. The Notorious Benedict Arnold: A True Story of Adventure, Heroism & Treachery won both the Boston Globe/Horn Book Award and the YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults. Bomb: The Race to Build-and Steal-the World's Most Dangerous Weapon was a Newbery Honor Book, a National Book Award Finalist, and winner of the Sibert Award and YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults. Most Dangerous: Daniel Ellsberg and the Secret History of the Vietnam War was a National Book Award finalist and a YALSA Excellence in Nonfiction Award finalist. His most recent book, Undefeated: Jim Thorpe and the Carlisle Indian School Football Team, was released by Roaring Brook Press on January 17, 2017. Sheinkin lives in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., with his wife and two children.

On your nightstand now:

When the Sea Turned to Silver by Grace Lin and Ghost by Jason Reynolds. And there are always comics: Killing and Dying by Adrian Tomine and Sonny Liew's The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye.

Favorite book when you were a child:

The Mutiny on the Bounty trilogy. I still like it, but when I picked up the first book recently, I was stung by the description of merchants in port as "sharp-faced Jews." I guess a Jewish kid reading classics learns to block out that kind of crap. But this time it depressed me.

Your top five authors:

As everyone says, impossible. But today's answer: Dostoyevsky, Kafka, Patricia Highsmith, José Saramago, Laura Hillenbrand

Book you've faked reading:

Harry Potter. I read the first one in Spanish, for practice. But my Spanish isn't that great. I sort of know what happened. 

Book you're an evangelist for:

The Martin Beck series, 10 incredibly good police/crime novels by Swedish wife-and-husband team Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö.

Book you've bought for the cover:

My Friend Dahmer by Derf Backderf. It was the creepy name and disturbing cover illustration that got me. And realizing that the book really is about the artist's high school friend, Jeffrey Dahmer. It's become one of my all-time favorite comics.  

Book you hid from your parents:

The Bronx Zoo, Sparky Lyle's insider account of the wild and wacky 1978 Yankees. Most of the R-rated stuff went over my head, but I liked how Lyle kept pulling down his pants and sitting naked on other players' birthday cakes.

Book that changed your life:

Many have, at different times. But I'll say Sarah Vowell's Assassination Vacation. I'd seen writers juggle history and comedy and nonfiction before, but never so skillfully. A huge inspiration.

Favorite line from a book:

For my high school yearbook quote, I used a gag from a Woody Allen story called "My Speech to the Graduates." And I find the lines comforting in light of recent political events: "More than any other time in history, mankind faces a crossroads. One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness. The other, to total extinction. Let us pray we have the wisdom to choose correctly."

Five books you'll never part with:

South by Ernest Shackleton
Crime Stories and Other Writings by Dashiell Hammett
In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
Spook by Mary Roach
The Push Man and Other Stories by Yoshihiro Tatsumi

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

The Day of the Jackal by Frederick Forsyth. I thought about giving a more literate answer, but for me right now, there just couldn't be a more exciting book.

Children's Books: Say It with Animals

We know Valentine's Day is near when the picture books plastered with reddish pinkish hearts and kissy-huggy animals start to arrive. Here are some of our favorites, with promises that their charm and originality all transcend the high-pressure hype and cutesy trappings of February 14.

Before You by Rebecca Doughty (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $14.99, hardcover, 9780544463172, 32p., ages 4-7, December 27, 2016)
Before you, says the narrator, "I was a flower with no pot./ I was a polka with no dot." "I was a tail without a wag./ Just a bean without a bag." Rebecca Doughty captures the forlorn nature of each "before you" scenario with just the right amount of sadsack droopiness in her pleasingly spare, cartoonish artwork. The "tail without a wag," for example, is illustrated by a dull-eyed dog with her tongue hanging out, and an empty food dish. "I was a bowl without a fish" is illustrated, suspiciously, with an empty fish bowl and a cat pawing the side of the glass. When the much-anticipated "you" does arrive, the tune changes: "You put the fizz into the pop./ You put the flip into the flop." A fizzy adult-to-adult valentine.

XO, OX: A Love Story by Adam Rex, illus. by Scott Campbell (Neal Porter/Roaring Brook Press, $17.99, hardcover, 9781626722880, 40p., ages 4-8, January 3, 2017)
Ox is utterly enamored with the starlet Gazelle and finally musters the courage to write and tell her so: "Even when you are running from tigers you are like a ballerina who is running from tigers. I think that what I am trying to say is that I love you." Gazelle responds with a form letter and autographed photo, while staring into a hand mirror. Ox writes back again and again, until he finally gets under her skin by lovingly implying that she might have a fault or two. Is her main fault that she "could never, ever love an ox?" Or could she be persuaded? Scott Campbell's (Hug Machine) watercolor and colored pencil artwork is extraordinary. The quirky, endearing, suspender-sporting Ox contrasts splendidly with the glamorous, elongated Gazelle, who one day loves him back.

I Will Love You Anyway by Mick Inkpen, illus. by Chloë Inkpen (Aladdin, $17.99, hardcover, 9781481470995, 32p., ages 4-6, December 6, 2016) 
Mick Inkpen (the Kipper and Wiggly Pig series) packs a surprising emotional punch with this rhyming British import about unconditional love, and his daughter Chloë Inkpen's lively, expressive illustrations and the dramatic design do their part to tug the heartstrings as well. A bulging-eyed pug is no end of trouble. As he silently tells the redheaded boy he loves: "I steal your glove./ I steal your shoe./ I steal your socks./ They smell of you." The dog can't seem to behave, and the family's "Stops" and "Quits" are fruitless: "I cannot sit./ I cannot stay./ I cannot fetch.../ I run away." Eventually, the boy's parents can't stand it anymore: "I wag my tail./ (But I am bad.)/ You smile at me./ (But you are sad.)" He runs away for good this time. But the family comes after him. The dog makes no promises that he won't run away again, but it's a happy ending: "I don't do 'Sit!'/ I don't do 'Stay!'/ But I will love you anyway." Drop everything and read this wonderful book right now.

Love You Too by Alistair Heim, illus. by Alisa Coburn (Little Bee Books, $16.99, hardcover, 9781499801743, 32p., ages 4-8, December 6, 2016) 
A father pig and his beloved piglette spend an exuberant day together in this heartwarming call-and-response picture book with energetic, whimsical illustrations. Each page features father and daughter pig engaged in some fun activity (like making many, many pancakes), and there's always a directive ("When I say 'pancakes,' you say 'more.' ") This pattern continues as they ride bikes together, cavort on a tire swing, crunch watermelon at lunch and play hide-and-seek. Finally, the day winds down with bedtime and hugs: "When I say 'night-y,' you say 'night.' "  It's easy to imagine this book's joyful and affectionate call-and-response game echoing for decades and decades. "When I say, 'this one,' you say 'yes.' "

The Secret Life of Squirrels: A Love Story by Nancy Rose (Megan Tingley/Little, Brown, $16.99, hardcover, 9780316272636, 32p., ages 2-5, December 6, 2016) 
Canadian photographer Nancy Rose (Merry Christmas, Squirrels!) loves taking pictures of actual squirrels in silly situations. (No digital manipulation tricks--she creates miniature sets on her deck, hides peanuts inside them and waits for the squirrels' approach!) Here, she documents the pre-Valentine's Day activities of Mr. Peanuts, "a rather unusual squirrel" who feels lonely and would very much like to meet an equally unusual squirrel. A photo of him with a face full of tissues is accompanied by the text "Please don't cry, Mr. Peanuts!" One day, he meets Rosie in a bookstore, reading The Secret Life of Squirrels. They play hopscotch, jump from trees and "As the sun goes down, Mr. Peanuts realizes he's absolutely nuts about Rosie." He has a valentine at last. Odd, yes, but somehow just right for the squirrely occasion. --Karin Snelson, children's & YA editor, Shelf Awareness

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