Shelf Awareness for Monday, November 27, 2017

Viking: The Bookshop: A History of the American Bookstore by Evan Friss

Pixel+ink: Missy and Mason 1: Missy Wants a Mammoth

Bramble: The Stars Are Dying: Special Edition (Nytefall Trilogy #1) by Chloe C Peñaranda

Blue Box Press: A Soul of Ash and Blood: A Blood and Ash Novel by Jennifer L Armentrout

Charlesbridge Publishing: The Perilous Performance at Milkweed Meadow by Elaine Dimopoulos, Illustrated by Doug Salati

Minotaur Books: The Dark Wives: A Vera Stanhope Novel (Vera Stanhope #11) by Ann Cleeves


Indies First/SBS: Celebrating Independents and Community

On Saturday, hundreds of booksellers across the country took part in Indies First and Small Business Saturday, organizing all kinds of in-store activities, offering a range of deals, hosting parties and engaging in the staple of Indies First since the event was founded by Sherman Alexie in 2013: having authors work in their favorite indies as booksellers. The American Booksellers Association sponsors Indies Next, and American Express is the driving force behind Small Business Saturday.

Several booksellers who plan to open permanent bookstores took Indies First and Small Business Saturday as an opportunity to open pop-up and kiosk stores.

Donna Paz Kaufman and Mark Kaufman of Paz & Associates, who have trained many new and veteran booksellers and plan to open a bookstore in their hometown of Fernandina Beach, Fla., set up a pop-up shop for their Story & Song Bookstore Bistro on Saturday. On her blog, Donna called Small Business Saturday "the perfect opportunity to remind people of your start-up and the importance of small business to the local economy." The pop-up shop "allows you to learn from customers and begin learning store operations."

The Saturday experience was worthwhile, she continued, because they learned more about their customers and what books and other products they're interested in, and they dealt with some nuts-and-bolts problems, including a receipt printer that "decided to take the day off" and an electronic order that was duplicated, that helped strengthen troubleshooting and stress management skills.

"From marketing to operations," she concluded, "it's all good learning."

Over the long weekend, in Washington, D.C., Angela Maria Spring opened two permanent Duende District "stores within stores," one in MahoganyBooks, in the Anacostia Arts Center, and the other in Toli Moli, a new Burmese bodega in Union Market. She's also doing a holiday pop-up with A Creative DC in Brookland, an area in Northeast Washington that she called "first on my list for a stand-alone Duende" bricks-and-mortar location.

Tom Lowenburg, co-owner of Octavia Books, New Orleans, La., was quoted in a USA Today article about Small Business Saturday, saying that the event "really does do something to connect with our community.... It's not about manipulating people, or putting them in an uncomfortable situation, but creating a genuine shopping experience that comes from the kinds of relationships we already have with our customers."

As part of the Indies First/Small Business Saturday festivities at Octavia, nine authors served as booksellers: Susan Larson, Anne Gisleson, Michael Tisserand, Ben Sandmel, Katherine Clark, Ladee Hubbard, Tom McDermott, Christopher Schaberg and Claudia Gray.

In Phoenix, Ariz., Mayor Greg Stanton stopped by Changing Hands Bookstore to show his support for Small Business Saturday. At the store's Tempe location, customers who bought a Natural Life mug received a free succulent, potting soil and a gift bag. Other events at the stores included storytime, signings, pictures with Santa and presentations of the hottest books and toys by the stores' kid's team and gift department. Changing Hands donated a portion of Saturday's sales to three local charities: Be a Leader Foundation, HandsOn Greater Phoenix and Teach for America--Phoenix.

A mountain of tote bags awaited customers at Book Passage, San Francisco.

In a similar vein, Women & Children First, Chicago, Ill., donated a portion of Saturday's profits to the Chicago Women's Health Center. In addition, Bossy Chicago donated $1 to the YWCA for each customer who shopped at the store on Saturday and showed off her purchase using the hashtag #buywomenowned. In the store, Women & Children First provided free coffee and gave away totes to customers who spent more than $50.

Dawn Rennert of the Concord Bookshop, Concord, Mass., nominated Josh Funk, author most recently of Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast, for "road tripper of the day." On Saturday, Funk visited 14 bookstores in and near Boston and tweeted a variety of pictures from his travels.

For Indies First, offered a 50% discount to consumers. director of marketing Stephanie Ballien noted "many online conversations about supporting local bookstores throughout the year" and that "while nothing will beat the shopping experience of talking with a real bookseller at a bricks-and-mortar bookstore, online shopping through still has a face. On Cyber Monday, we have a #cybersmall campaign with the theme 'online shopping still has a face.' "

BINC: Do Good All Year - Click to Donate!

#IndiesFirst/SBS: Good Cheer from Coast to Coast

Indies First and Small Business Saturday celebrations included a range of events, gatherings and fortuitous meetings: #IndiesFirst spokesperson Jason Reynolds with booksellers at One More Page Books, Arlington, Va.

Sarah Bagby (bottom left, holding the cake) and the crew at Watermark Books, Wichita, Kan., celebrated the store's 40th anniversary on Saturday. They invited customers to gather at the store at noon wearing Watermark gear, for cake and "a family photo."

Dee and Chuck Robinson, founders of Village Books and Paper Dreams in Bellingham and Lynden, Wash., stopped by Liberty Bay Books in Poulsbo to visit with owner Suzanne Droppert (left)

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel (c.) and his father shopped at their local bookstore, Unabridged Books, on Saturday; here they're with owner Ed Devereux (r.). Unabridged had its most successful Small Business Saturday since the program began in 2010, and one of the bookstore's busiest days in 37 years of business, selling more than 1,000 books.

Booksellers at BookBar, Denver, showing their holiday spirit.

GLOW: Milkweed Editions: Becoming Little Shell: Returning Home to the Landless Indians of Montana by Chris La Tray

On Giving Tuesday, Binc #MoreThanEver

In conjunction with Giving Tuesday, which takes place tomorrow, the Book Industry Charitable Foundation (Binc) is launching its #MoreThanEver year-end campaign, a name reflecting the organization's increased activity this year because of so many natural disasters, as well as "the growing awareness of how Binc can help booksellers through emergencies." That help includes disaster relief, homelessness prevention and more. The campaign continues through the end of the year.

Tomorrow the campaign begins with a series of Facebook fundraisers that seek to earn a share of $2 million in matching funds being offered by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The Binc board and a founding member of the foundation are also offering to match donations from individuals and stores up to a total of $8,000.

Binc executive director Pamela French said, "We know people have a wide variety of wonderful charities vying for their support on #GivingTuesday. We are incredibly grateful to our supporters who are using their voice on Facebook to strengthen the bookselling community. Just a few minutes to set up a fundraising post can make a world of difference to a bookseller in need."

In addition, on Giving Tuesday, Ingram Publisher Services is donating more than $10,000 to Binc on behalf of its publishing clients with Publishers Group West, Consortium, Two Rivers Distribution, Ingram Academic and Ingram Publisher Services.

Mark Ouimet, v-p and general manager for IPS, PGW and Consortium, commented: "Known as the 'bookseller's safety net,' Binc truly makes an impact to help the book industry, and has helped boost the morale of our community. We believe the best way to thank our publishers for an amazing year is by honoring them in the most positive way possible with a donation in their honor to Binc."

And Sabrina McCarthy, v-p and general manager of Two Rivers, Ingram Academic and International Sales, said, "During this charitable season, we encourage our publishing cohorts to direct their attention to those working on the frontlines of selling books. This year was particularly hard for many bookstores and booksellers due to unpredictable circumstances like natural disasters and severe medical issues."

The Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance is also supporting Binc, matching SIBA member contributions tomorrow up to $1,000. SIBA is inviting stores to donate a percentage of their in-store and online Okra Pick book sales tomorrow to Binc. SIBA will support stores using the hashtag #GivingTuesday2Binc in social media, aiming to drive traffic to participating store websites for Okra Pick purchases.

G.P. Putnam's Sons: Four Weekends and a Funeral by Ellie Palmer

Author Marc Lamont Hill Opens Bookstore in Philadelphia

Author and social commentator Marc Lamont Hill (Nobody: Casualties of America's War on the Vulnerable, from Ferguson to Flint and Beyond) can now add bookseller to the list of his accomplishments. Today he opens Uncle Bobbie's Coffee & Books at 5445 Germantown Ave. in Philadelphia's Germantown neighborhood. The Tribune reported that "the business is named in honor of his late uncle, Bobbie Lee Hill, a veteran who fought in World War II. During his youth, Hill visited his uncle's home in North Philadelphia where he was exposed to books by African-American authors and Black Enterprise and Jet magazines."

"His house was the first place I went where I heard a critical analysis of the world," said Hill. "It was the first place that kind of opened up to me the idea of literacy being an expression of who we are as Black people."

Hill "also credits Black owned bookstores with helping to further his educational horizons," the Tribune wrote, noting that he often shopped at local bookstores like Black and Noble in North Philadelphia, Hakim's Bookstore and Gift Shop in West Philadelphia and the now closed Basic Black Books.

Marc Lamont Hill

"Black bookstores were where I developed a sense of identity," said Hill, who is a professor of media studies and urban education at Temple University. "It's where I discovered the world. It's where I got a different curriculum than what school gave me. So for me, I thought it was important to pay that forward and to build something for the community in the same vein. My life is better because I had those places and I want to create them for the next generation.... People are looking for places to have community. They are looking for places to engage ideas. They are looking for places to feel connected and that is what we are doing."

The Philadelphia Inquirer described Uncle Bobbie's Coffee & Books as "a sunny, homey spot filled with chairs and couches that make you want to pluck a book from a shelf and curl up."

Obituary Note: Mary Adelman

Mary Adelman, "whose Manhattan typewriter-repair shop tended to machines with shift-lock keys that would do neither and carriages that would not return--and to the people who pounded away on them," died November 22, the New York Times reported. She was 89.

For decades, her Upper West Side shop, Osner Business Machines, "was an emergency room for typists with bent keys, problematic platens and ruined ribbons," caring for the typewriters of numerous well-known writers, including Isaac Bashevis Singer, David Mamet, Erich Maria Remarque, Nora Ephron, Gene Shalit and Philip Roth. The Times noted that Joseph Heller "had a Smith-Corona with keys that flew off (they were soldered back on). The novelist David Handler was so grateful for Mrs. Adelman's assistance that he made her a character in a mystery, The Girl Who Ran Off With Daddy."

Author Walter Wager said the shop "was almost a local pub for writers in the community, a mini-Algonquin.... She was the serene, courteous, efficient, get-it-done aunt."


Image of the Day: The Man Who Invented Christmas Premiere

The Man Who Invented Christmas, based on the book by Les Standiford, premiered last Monday, November 20, at Florida's Coral Gables Art Cinema, across the street from Books & Books, whose owner, Mitchell Kaplan, is an executive producer of the film and is co-owner of Mazur/Kaplan Company, the production company that brings books to the screen. The event was attended by friends, family and colleagues, including the director. One surprise guest was Penguin Random House CEO Markus Dohle, who happened to be in Miami and decided to pop in and check out the screening. The movie, about how Charles Dickens wrote and published A Christmas Carol in just six weeks and starring Dan Stevens and Christopher Plummer, is getting great reviews. Pictured here: Kaplan and Dohle celebrating at the post-film reception at Books & Books. Dohle is wearing a T-shirt from the film featuring a Dickens quote: "No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another." 

'22 Reasons We're Thankful for Independent Bookstores'

In anticipation of Indies First/Small Business Saturday, members of the Buzzfeed Community  were asked "to tell us what they love about their local independent bookstores." The resulting list includes "some of our favorite examples of how independent bookstores are so much more than stores--how they're community centers, cultural hubs, and home away from home."

Personnel Changes at Algonquin

Debra Linn, who joined Algonquin Books five years ago, has been promoted to director of digital marketing. She is based in the Chapel Hill office.

Jodie Cohen has been named director of marketing for Algonquin Young Readers. She formerly worked for nearly 10 years at Penguin Random House, where she created and executed both retail and institutional marketing programs for Listening Library. Before that, she worked in marketing at Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers. She will be based in the New York office.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Esther Perel on the Daily Show

Dr. Oz: Mandy Harvey, author of Sensing the Rhythm: Finding My Voice in a World Without Sound (Howard, $24, 9781501172250).

Harry repeat: Oprah Winfrey, author of Food, Health, and Happiness: 115 On-Point Recipes for Great Meals and a Better Life (Flatiron Books, $35, 9781250126535).

Daily Show: Esther Perel, author of The State of Affairs: Rethinking Infidelity (Harper, $26.99, 9780062322586).

Late Late Show with James Corden repeat: Gabrielle Union, author of We're Going to Need More Wine: Stories That Are Funny, Complicated, and True (Dey Street, $26.99, 9780062693983).

The View: Kelly Clarkson, author of River Rose and the Magical Christmas (HarperCollins, $19.99, 9780062697646).

The Real: DeVon Franklin, co-author of The Hollywood Commandments: A Spiritual Guide to Secular Success (HarperOne, $25.99, 9780062684257).

TV: Patrick Melrose

A "first-look image" was released from the Sky Atlantic and Showtime TV adaptation of Edward St. Aubyn's Patrick Melrose novels (Mothers MilkNever MindBad NewsAt LastSome Hope), showing Benedict Cumberbatch "as the aristocratic playboy... cigarette in hand and sunglasses on," Deadline reported. The limited series will be produced by Two Cities Television in association with Cumberbatch's SunnyMarch.

The five-part drama, written by One Day author David Nicholls, is set in the south of France in the 1960s, New York in the 1980s and Britain in the early 2000s. Each episode will be based on one St. Aubyn novel. The project also stars Hugo Weaving, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Anna Madeley, Allison Williams and Blythe Danner as Nancy.

Books & Authors

Awards: Baillie Gifford Nonfiction; Bad Sex in Fiction

David France won the £30,000 (about $40,015) Baillie Gifford Prize for Nonfiction for How to Survive a Plague. Chair of the judges Peter Bazalgette commented: "In our winner we were looking for something that is incredibly well written, enjoyable and also important. How to Survive a Plague is all of these things and also works on three levels: it's the personal story of a gay man, the history of the prejudice that gay men faced during the AIDS epidemic and the worldwide scientific story of the search for a treatment for AIDS."

Sarah Whitley, partner of Baillie Gifford and chair of its sponsorship committee, praised How to Survive a Plague as "a book that combines a very important piece of social history, unforgettable to those of us who were young adults in the early 1980s, describes collective action in the face of official intransigence and also outlines the ultimate achievement of controlling a modern plague."


Seven books have made the shortlist for this year's Bad Sex in Fiction Award, presented annually by the Literary Review to "an author who has produced an outstandingly bad scene of sexual description in an otherwise good novel." The "winner" will be announced on November 30. The Guardian helpfully featured "the contenders in quotes." Although the Literary Review said at the time of the shortlist announcement, "nominations continue to come in," the 2017 finalists are:

The Seventh Function of Language by Laurent Binet
The Destroyers by Christopher Bollen
Mother of Darkness by Venetia Welby
As a God Might Be by Neil Griffiths
The Future Won't Be Long by Jarett Kobek
War Cry by Wilbur Smith (with David Churchill)
Here Comes Trouble by Simon Wroe

"Many people also nominated Vince Cables novel Open Arms for consideration," the Literary Review noted. "However, Open Arms does not qualify simply because its author is a Member of Parliament."

The magazine's Frank Brinkley told the Guardian he had noticed an improvement in the sex scenes in this year's fiction: "There's plenty of sex around (such as in Patrick Ness) but a lot of it is quite good. Maybe we are having an effect--definitely literary fiction's changing and the 'Oh sod it, I'll put in a sex scene' attitude that prompted the creation of the award has pretty much fallen by the wayside. Maybe publishers aren't pushing for it in the way that 'sex sells' was used as a prompt 15 years ago, either. All to the good."

Book Review

Review: Dandelions

Dandelions by Yasunari Kawabata, trans. by Michael Emmerich (New Directions, $14.95 paperback, 128p., 9780811224093, December 12, 2017)

Yasunari Kawabata (Beauty and Sadness) was the first Japanese writer to win the Nobel Prize for Literature. Dandelions, whose prevalent themes are madness and suicide, was left unfinished when he committed suicide in the spring of 1972. In the small town of Ikuta in early spring, the yellow flowers are proliferating along the river bank and creating a wild and somehow unaccountable luminosity of color. This metaphor crops up in the lives of young lovers Ineko and Kuno. Ineko is committed to a mental hospital in the town after suffering from "body blindness," a condition in which she loses sight of physical objects in her periphery, including her lover's body during sex. Later on, it's revealed that mysterious images, like rainbows of bubbles, replace her impressions of physical objects. Like the dandelions around town, these images evoke the resplendent impermanence of life, something that emotionally tortures Kawabata's characters.

Much of the novel revolves around the relationship between Kuno and Ineko's widowed mother, simply referred to as "Mother." The two spend a night together in a rundown inn after leaving Ineko in the hospital. Ineko's painful story is revealed through their dialogue and flashbacks: her father was a military officer in World War II who wanted to kill himself after Japan's humiliating defeat. He was saved by a mysterious girl--likened to a sprite--and later fell to his death while horseback riding along the ocean. Ineko witnessed his death and internalized the trauma. Both she and her mother feel guilt for the accident and ponder the workings of fate that led to it. The night in the inn, Mother and Kuno argue about who or what is ultimately responsible for the past. Kawabata builds an interesting sexual tension between them. Missing her husband--and the way she was defined by him--Mother covets Kuno's amorous obsession with her own daughter.

The novel ends prematurely, yet thematically, and still feels like a whole, worthwhile experience; Kawabata packs so much conflict and intrigue into his characters. Emmerich's English translation renders the novelist's prose style as poetic, with a strain of magical realism. Kuno is sure he sees an impossibly white rat by the river. Mother swears a little boy she meets is a fairy. Patients at the hospital ring an old temple bell, filling the town with an eerie sound: "the long, lingering hum of the bell seemed always on the verge of fading into nothing, but never did." It's hard to know if Dandelions is better or worse off for its incompletion. As it stands, the novel is a deeply absorbing meditation on love, madness and the sinuous designs of fate. --Scott Neuffer, writer, poet, editor of trampset

Shelf Talker: Nobel Laureate Yasunari Kawabata's unfinished novel ruminates on the beauty and sadness of human love.

Powered by: Xtenit