Shelf Awareness for Monday, January 22, 2018

Hanover Square Press: Before the Coffee Gets Cold series by Toshikazu Kawaguchi

Del Rey Books: The Book of Elsewhere by Keeanu Reeves and China Miéville

St. Martin's Press: You'll Never Believe Me: A Life of Lies, Second Tries, and Other Stuff I Should Only Tell My Therapist by St. Martin's Press

Watkins Publishing: A Feminist's Guide to ADHD: How Women Can Thrive and Find Focus in a World Built for Men by Janina Maschke

Soho Teen: Only for the Holidays by Abiola Bello

W. W. Norton & Company: Still Life by Katherine Packert Burke

Shadow Mountain: A Kingdom to Claim by Sian Ann Bessey


Disasters: Faherty Fire; Eight Cousins Update

Faherty & Associates, the rep group that covers the West, Alaska and Hawaii, suffered from a major electrical fire January 17 in its headquarters in Portland, Ore., a fire in which "everything was damaged or consumed by either fire, heat, or smoke," according to Faherty's Richard McNeace.

"This is an especially unfortunate time for this calamity, as we were just about to start seeing our first accounts for the spring lists," he added. "Faherty is doing everything--everything--that we can, as quickly as we can. All of our files were backed up on Carbonite. We can capture those. Anything received before last Wednesday, we saw, and we have been combing back through to make sure that we didn't miss anything in the aftermath. We have had phones, faxes, and e-mail rerouted to our home offices."

The group is receiving regular mail at the post office but has asked publishers to suspend temporarily shipments via UPS or FedEx. Faherty is leasing new offices and expects to move into them by mid-February and have an even better central office fully operational before March. Catalogue mailings for appointments will be coming directly from the field reps; buyers won't receive the usual Faherty box. For more information, contact Richard McNeace via e-mail or at 323-273-7763.


Eight Cousins bookstore, Falmouth, Mass., is "working on moving the damaged books out of our space so that the landlord can start repairs to the building," the store said in a post updating its situation last Friday. "We are temporarily setting up an office space, aka 'The Fort,' in another location for the next few months."

On January 9, co-owner Sara Hines came in to open up and found that water from the apartment above the store had caused the ceiling to collapse and damaged most of the store. Eight Cousins hopes to reopen this spring.

Eight Cousins has also begun selling books on its website. "Orders placed online will be shipped to you," it said. "This process will not be quick; please don't expect overnight delivery!"

The store is sending out gift cards ordered by supporters. "Your generosity and faith in our book store is overwhelming and heartbreaking (in a good way). We are working diligently on sending out gift cards. It is taking us a bit of time to catch up. Please don't worry if you do not receive yours right away. We are sending them out in batches."

W. W. Norton & Company: Still Life by Katherine Packert Burke

Wi13: A Winter Institute Welcome

Starting today, we'll have extensive coverage of the American Booksellers Association's Winter Institute 2018, held this year in Memphis, Tenn., which begins officially this evening with a welcome reception (co-sponsored by Shelf Awareness!) and runs through Thursday. As usual, our coverage will extend for the next several weeks since there's just so much going on. Many of us from Shelf Awareness will be at Wi13, and we hope to see you there!

Like the dozen prior Winter Institutes, this one promises to be engaging, informative and energizing. Among speakers are writers Junot Díaz and Gary Shteyngart; actor, producer and designer Sarah Jessica Parker, who now also has her own book imprint, SJP for Hogarth; Pamela Parker, editor of the New York Times Book Review and in charge of the newspaper's book coverage; author Daniel Pink, who is making his third appearance at a Winter Institute; and futurist Amy Webb.

Sessions cover everything from the nuts and bolts of bookselling to hiring for diversity and inclusion; selling diverse books; the experience of running a bookstore with one's life partner; and bookstore succession planning.

Members of the Dutch contingent at last night's international reception.

Among the early festivities was a reception last night for international guests at the National Civil Rights Museum (at the site of the Lorraine Hotel, where Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in 1968). Today there are field trips to, among other places, Turnrow Books in Greenwood, Miss., and to Oxford, Miss., to see Square Books and William Faulkner's home; a Paz & Associates daylong workshop for prospective booksellers; an in-depth seminar on bookstore finance; and the IndieCommerce Institute.

With Beale Street blues, rich barbecue, some striking bookstores, a manageable downtown, mild weather (knock on wood), the National Civil Rights Museum and Graceland, Memphis promises to be an appealing site for Wi13.


Bookseller attendance will be up slightly, to 685, and, as happened last year, a significant number are first timers, especially from established stores whose owners and managers are staying home in order to allow more staff members to experience Winter Institute.

Oren Teicher welcoming international guests last night.

For the first time ever, the Winter Institute is being held at a convention center and will involve six "official" hotels instead of one or two. "As we get bigger," ABA CEO Oren Teicher explained, "it's hard finding a single hotel with enough rooms and meeting space."

Diversity in general, in the book business, in bookstores and at the ABA was a major topic at last year's Winter Institute, and promises to be again this year. The topic will be a focus of the ABA Town Hall meeting.

The ABA has been very busy addressing the matter, Teicher said. After last year's Town Hall, the board created a task force on diversity, which will report to membership at this year's Town Hall. Among other activities, the task force helped recruit more Winter Institute panelists from diverse backgrounds. The ABA also expanded the Booksellers Advisory Council to make it more diverse and thereby helped create "a future generation of leaders for future nominating committees to choose from," Teicher noted.

The ABA held diversity workshops at the regional booksellers association spring meetings, and had full-day diversity workshops at two fall regional shows. It offered diversity programming at the Children's Institute and a session about hiring more diverse staff at BookExpo. The nominating committee made "a full-court press" to find more diverse nominees for the board.

The ABA also offered diversity scholarships to attend the Winter Institute. And it's continuing efforts to help stores open in underserved areas.

"The ABA and the board listened and have tried to address the matter," Teicher added. "We've contributed to the changing dialogue in the book business, and we're firmly committed to continuing to do it. I'm pretty proud of all the stuff we've been able to do, and I know there's a lot more we can and should do."


Happily indie booksellers are gathering after another solid year, with sales at indies up 2.6% in 2017 and a compound annual growth rate in sales of 5.4% over the last five years, according to the ABA. And the number of books sold in the indie channel during the week leading up to last Christmas was the highest since NPD/BookScan began collecting that type of data.

Teicher attributed the sales growth in part to publishers who have instituted programs involving rapid replenishment, coop revisions, extended dating, etc., and support of such programs as Indies First and Indie Bookstore Day. "For the second year in a row, the cost of goods has gone down" for most booksellers. He also praised booksellers for managing their businesses more efficiently and profitably. Booksellers' ability to reinvent themselves and "the billion and one creative things stores do," including offering events, non-book items, trips and more, have made a huge difference, he emphasized.

Winter Institute is where booksellers learn about and share so many of those big and little ideas. Happy Winter Institute!

GLOW: Sourcebooks Landmark: Remember You Will Die by Eden Robins

At HarperCollins: Morrison Leaving; Burnham, Stehlik Promoted

At HarperCollins, Michael Morrison, president and publisher, U.S. General Books Group, is leaving at the end of the month after 19 years with the company. With his departure, Jonathan Burnham and Liate Stehlik will be promoted to president and publisher of their groups.

"After 35 years of going to a Manhattan skyscraper every day, I thought it was about time I experienced a different life," Morrison. He joined HarperCollins in 1999 as v-p, associate publisher. He also served as executive v-p, publisher of Morrow/Avon and president and group publisher of the HarperMorrow division. Earlier he held a variety of positions at Bantam Doubleday Dell, Simon & Schuster and Random House. At Random House, he was sales director of the Knopf/Vintage Group and headed RandomHouseAudio.

HarperCollins president and CEO Brian Murray praised Morrison for having "run an extremely successful publishing division in the most challenging and competitive segments of trade, during the most tumultuous period of digital evolution. Under his guidance, the division published books that won hundreds of literary prizes, sold millions of copies, and impacted our culture in numerous ways. Michael has been a positive force for authors and employees at HarperCollins throughout his tenure. We are grateful for all his contributions and wish him well in his future endeavors."

Jonathan Burnham will be promoted to president and publisher, Harper, overseeing Harper, Harper Paperbacks, Harper Perennial, Harper Business, Harper Design, Harper Wave, Broadside Books, Amistad and Ecco.

Liate Stehlik will be promoted to president and publisher, William Morrow/Avon, overseeing William Morrow, Avon, Dey Street, Harper Voyager and Custom House.

Calling Burnham and Stehlik "extremely talented executives and strong publishers," Murray added: "As our strategy has shifted towards greater global growth and as we have expanded our trade publishing program across 24 countries and 17 languages, it's imperative that our management organization, roles and responsibilities align with our overall approach. This new structure will allow us to better serve our authors and achieve our publishing and business objectives."

Bookselling Without Borders Opens Scholarship Applications

Applications open today for the Bookselling Without Borders international book fair scholarship for U.S. booksellers "interested in diverse and international literature, in fostering relationships with the international bookselling community, and in traveling to some of the world's great literary cities." Booksellers may apply by visiting the website anytime before February 28. Scholarship recipients will be announced in March.

The program, now in its third year, will send booksellers on all-expenses-paid trips to some the world's main book fairs, including the Turin Book Fair, the Frankfurt Book Fair and the Guadalajara International Book Fair. Bookselling Without Borders is run through a partnership of independent publishers Catapult, Europa Editions, Graywolf, the New Press, Other Press, Princeton University Press and Rutgers University Press.

In addition to the seven partner publishers, it is supported by Ingram Content Group, as well as by more than 250 individuals who contributed more than $30,000 through a Kickstarter campaign in 2017.

PRH's Anne-Lise Spitzer Now a Literary Agent

Anne-Lise Spitzer

Anne-Lise Spitzer, formerly v-p and director of marketing at Knopf, Pantheon and Schocken Books, has joined the Philip G. Spitzer Literary Agency as executive v-p and literary agent.

"It has long been a dream of mine to work with my father," Spitzer said. "This move will allow me not only to do that but to continue to champion books and authors I love--the reason for being in this business."

With headquarters in East Hampton, N.Y., the agency represents authors such as Michael Connelly, James Lee Burke, Alafair Burke, Andre Dubus, Andre Dubus III, Tom Allen, Kent Anderson, Ken Bruen, Kirk Russell, Jonathon King, Gordon McAlpine, Juris Jurjevics and Eric Rickstad.

National Book Foundation Adds Three Board Members

The National Book Foundation has elected three new members to its board of directors:

Lucia Ferreira, co-head of global development and impact investing practices of Russell Reynolds Associates, an executive search firm where she has worked since 1996. She specializes in board and senior executive assignments for domestic and international nonprofit organizations with a focus on economic development, social justice, education and the environment. She earlier worked in the corporate finance department of Smith Barney, Harris Upham & Co.

Michael Lynton, chairman of the board of Snap, Inc., parent company of Snapchat. He was CEO of Sony Entertainment from 2012 to 2017 and was chairman and CEO of Sony Pictures Entertainment beginning in 2004. Earlier he worked for Time Warner and was CEO of AOL Europe, president of AOL International and president of Time Warner International. Before that, he was chairman and CEO of Penguin Group and oversaw the acquisition of Putnam. He is currently on the boards of IEX, Ares Management, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Tate and the Rand Corporation and is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the Harvard Board of Overseers.

Michelle Weiner, head of the books department at Creative Artists Agency. She began her career as an attorney at Hamrick and Evans and joined CAA in 2006. Among the authors she represents are Jeffrey Eugenides, Michael Cunningham, Matthew Denman, Hillary Jordan and Nathan Hill.

NBF executive director Lisa Lucas welcomed the three new board members and said, "Here at the Foundation, we fully believe that books are not for any one demographic, but for everyone. The wide-ranging expertise of these new members is invaluable to us as we work toward a world of expanded access to literature and a robust culture of reading."


'Bookstore Employees Reveal Their Wildest Stories'

"From an outsider's perspective, booksellers may appear to have the perfect job," former bookseller Lindsay Mack wrote for an Insider's piece in which "10 bookstore employees reveal their wildest stories--and it proves truth is stranger than fiction." Among the highlights:

"Customers expect us to have every book ever printed and know what they are based on the cover's color."

"It's fine to say, 'If you like this type of book you might really enjoy X author.' However it's important to remember people have different tastes when it comes to reading and even if it is objectively a bad book they might have a reason for wanting to read it. Making a customer feel talked down to or disapproved of for their purchase goes against most stores' policy of making customers happy and want to return."

"If we don't CURRENTLY sell it, you can't return it. My favorite return attempt was a moldy, yellowed Bee-Gees coloring book that had been scribbled in. Mind you, this was in the '90s."

"A customer put her gum in the middle of a new book and put the book back on the shelf. I think that is this year's worst customer of the year for my bookstore."

Personnel Changes at Cameron + Company

Angela Engel has joined Cameron + Company as director of business development. Earlier in her career she was senior sales manager at Chronicle Books and held sales positions at Ten Speed Press, Paperblanks and PGW (which handles distribution for Cameron's Roundtree Press imprint). More recently she has worked with lifestyle, home and baby companies, including Oilo, DwellStudio and Newport Cottages.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Steven Levitsky, Daniel Ziblatt on Fresh Air

Fresh Air: Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt, authors of How Democracies Die (Crown, $26, 9781524762933).

Daily Show: Michael Wolff, author of Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House (Holt, $30, 9781250158062).

Wendy Williams: Daymond John, co-author of Rise and Grind: Outperform, Outwork, and Outhustle Your Way to a More Successful and Rewarding Life (Currency, $27, 9780804189958).

Harry: Lisa Lillien, author of Hungry Girl Clean & Hungry OBSESSED! (St. Martin's Griffin, $21.99, 9781250087256).

Ellen: Hoda Kotb, author of I've Loved You Since Forever (HarperCollins, $18.99, 9780062841742).

Daily Show: Jason Reynolds, author of Long Way Down (Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy, $17.99, 9781481438254).

TV: The Looming Tower

A trailer has been released for Hulu's new drama The Looming Tower, based on Lawrence Wright's Pulitzer Prize-winning book The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11. Deadline reported that the limited series from Legendary Television stars Jeff Daniels "as John O'Neill, the determined, at times bull-headed chief of the New York FBI's Counter-Terrorism unit. He is rightly convinced that the U.S. has been targeted for attack by Al-Qaeda but faces deliberately insufficient cooperation from other organs of the federal government, particularly from his counterpart at the frequently antagonistic CIA."

The cast also includes Tahar Rahim, Wrenn Schmidt, Bill Camp, Louis Cancelmi, Virginia Kull, Ella Rae Peck, Sullivan Jones, Michael Stuhlbarg and Peter Sarsgaard. Premiering February 28 on Hulu, The Looming Tower is executive produced by showrunner Dan Futterman, Alex Gibney, Lawrence Wright, Craig Zisk and Adam Rapp.

Books & Authors

Awards: Hans Christian Andersen Shortlist

Shortlists have been released for the 2018 Hans Christian Andersen Awards, sponsored by the International Board on Books for Young People. The awards "recognize lifelong achievement and are given to an author and an illustrator whose complete works have made an important, lasting contribution to children's literature." The two winners will be announced March 26 at the IBBY press conference during the Bologna International Children's Book Fair.

The shortlisted authors are Marie-Aude Murail (France), Farhad Hassanzadeh (Iran), Eiko Kadono (Japan), Joy Cowley (New Zealand) and Ulf Stark (Sweden).

The shortlisted illustrators are Pablo Bernasconi (Argentina), Linda Wolfsgruber (Austria), Xiong Liang (China), Iwona Chmielewska (Poland), Igor Oleynikov (Russia) and Albertine (Switzerland).

SIBA's Winter Okra Picks: 'Bumper Crop of 18 Delicious Reads'

The Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance has announced its Winter Okra Picks, "a bumper crop of 18 delicious reads" of new books chosen by Southern indie booksellers each season as the upcoming Southern titles they are most looking forward to handselling:

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones (Algonquin Books)
Daily Writing Resilience by Bryan Robinson (Llewellyn Publications)
Daisy Cakes Bakes by Kim Nelson (Clarkson Potter)
Dreaming in Chocolate by Susan Bishop Crispell (St. Martin's Griffin)
Fire Sermon by Jamie Quatro (Grove)
Gods of Howl Mountain by Taylor Brown (St. Martin's)
I Was Anastasia by Ariel Lawhon (Doubleday)
Marabel and the Book of Fate by Tracy Barrett (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers)
Promise by Minrose Gwin (Morrow)
Robicheaux by James Lee Burke (Simon & Schuster)
Steal Away Home by Billy Coffey (Thomas Nelson)
The Afterlives by Thomas Pierce (Riverhead Books)
The Hush by John Hart (St. Martin's Press)
The Past Is Never by Tiffany Quay Tyson (Skyhorse)
The Problim Children by Natalie Lloyd (Katherine Tegen Books)
The Road to Bittersweet by Donna Everhart (Kensington)
Under a Cloudless Sky by Chris Fabry (Tyndale House)
Whiskey & Ribbons by Leesa Cross-Smith (Hub City Press)

Book Review

Review: I Am, I Am, I Am: Seventeen Brushes with Death

I Am, I Am, I Am: Seventeen Brushes with Death by Maggie O'Farrell (Knopf, $25.95 hardcover, 304p., 9780525520221, February 6, 2018)

If you need a frank reminder of life's sometimes terrifying fortuity, look no further than Maggie O'Farrell's chill-inducing memoir, I Am, I Am, I Am. As its subtitle suggests, the 17 essays that compose the book recount in precise, unwavering prose the too-close encounters with death O'Farrell and her loved ones have experienced in her 45 years. Whether it's an ominous exchange with a man who might be sizing her up as a murder victim or the lifelong effects of a debilitating illness, O'Farrell's brisk stories slip effortlessly over the borderline that separates life from death and back again.

Adopting a non-chronological structure, O'Farrell (2010 Costa Novel Award winner for The Hand That First Held Mine) entitles each essay with a body part or system. The pieces call to mind the HBO series Six Feet Under, every episode of which begins with a different kind of death. In similar fashion, after reading the first essay, "Neck"--describing O'Farrell's chance meeting on a hike around a mountain lake with a man who later raped and strangled another young woman on the same path--one approaches the ensuing pieces with a sense of apprehension, if not outright dread.

O'Farrell goes on to relate more than one near-drowning, a confrontation with a machete-wielding robber in Chile and a life-threatening bout of dehydration caused by an amoebic parasite in China. The longest essay, "Cerebellum," is a painfully observant account of O'Farrell's bout of encephalitis in 1980, at age eight, what she calls "the hinge on which my childhood swung." The physical aftermath of the illness has made her life "a series of cover-ups, smoke-screens and sleights of hand."

One of the preoccupations of O'Farrell's book is childbirth. In her case that included an emergency Caesarean section for her first child and a second pregnancy that ended in a "missed miscarriage," where the fetus dies but is not expelled. These traumas culminate in the book's final essay, "Daughter," which begins on Palm Sunday in the Italian countryside, as she and her husband frantically seek aid for their daughter, who's experiencing an episode of anaphylaxis. From there the piece slips effortlessly into a description of O'Farrell's difficulty conceiving after her miscarriage, moves on to offer a nightmarish portrait of her daughter's chronic eczema and then brings to a heart-pounding close the incident that began the story. Apart from its compelling subject matter, it's a masterly demonstration of narrative pacing.

O'Farrell's lucid prose is equal to the gravity of her concerns: "We are, all of us, wandering about in a state of oblivion, borrowing our time, seizing our days, escaping our fates, slipping through loopholes, unaware of when the axe may fall," she writes. That's a near-perfect summary of the content of this sobering yet life-affirming book, and a persuasive argument for heeding the message to savor every moment of life that is its powerful subtext. --Harvey Freedenberg, freelance reviewer

Shelf Talker: In a collection of striking essays, novelist Maggie O'Farrell describes the too-close encounters with death she and her loved ones have experienced.

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