Shelf Awareness for Thursday, January 25, 2018

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


#Wi13: ABA Town Hall Focuses on Diversity, Business Models

Booksellers gathered Wednesday morning at Winter Institute 2018 in Memphis, Tenn., for a standing-room-only town hall session to discuss diversity and inclusion, succession plans, bookseller and publisher margins, and more.

Diversity Task Force and Inclusion
The session began with a report from the ABA's Diversity Task Force, formed after the town hall meeting at Winter Institute 12. Since its inception, the nine-person task force has gathered feedback from booksellers throughout the country and is preparing resources about diversity that will be posted "over the next few months" on the ABA's website; at the same time, more training sessions related to diversity and inclusion have been scheduled at spring seminars, Children's Institute and other events. The task force has also been working on a Facebook group for open discussion and the sharing of feedback and ideas, called the American Booksellers Association Diversity Task Force (the Facebook group is closed but is searchable, and booksellers can request an invite). The task force members encouraged any and all booksellers to participate.

ABA executive board members at yesterday's Town Hall meeting

Emmanuel Abreu of Word Up Community Bookshop/Librería Comunitaria in New York City, encouraged the ABA to find ways to expand its scholarship programs. "I want to come back," said Abreu, but doesn't want to "take resources from the little bookshop that could." He added that more scholarships would go a long way in making it a more inclusive room. Board member Jonathan Welch, co-owner of Talking Leaves Books in Buffalo, N.Y., asked for booksellers to "flood us" with creative ideas to increase scholarship funding, and Jamie Fiocco, ABA v-p and owner of Flyleaf Books in Chapel Hill, N.C., noted that the ABA has reached out to third parties to help with funding.

Booksellers, including Kristin Sandstrom of Apostle Islands Booksellers in Bayfield, Wis., and Amy Kesler of Ada's Technical Books and Café in Seattle, Wash., also called for the focus of the Diversity Task Force and its initiatives be expanded to include native peoples and native publishing, as well as people with mental illnesses and disabilities. Angela Maria Spring, owner of Duende District Bookstore in Washington, D.C., implored booksellers, as community members and community leaders, not only to extend a hand to immigrant communities but also to advocate and take action on their behalf. Susan Hans O'Connor, owner of Penguin Book Shop in Sewickley, Pa., meanwhile wondered "in the spirit of inclusiveness and diversity" whether for future Winter Institutes and other conferences the ABA could "reach out to people who are often invisible to us and bring them into our community."

'Structural Imbalance' in the Industry
A major point of discussion was the "structural imbalance" that exists between booksellers and publishers within the book business. Alison Reid, co-owner of Diesel, A Bookstore, with two stores in California, brought up the subject, saying she was "really nervous" about the "sustainability of independents" for a number of reasons, including the difficulty of paying rent, providing health care or paying staff a living wage while operating on the margins of a bookstore. Reid wondered whether some publisher profits could be shared with booksellers, in the form of things like better discounts, in order to make the business more sustainable, and asked how best booksellers can educate publishers as to the reality of bookstore economics.

Chris Morrow, ABA board member and owner of Northshire Bookstore in Manchester Center, Vt., and Saratoga Springs, N.Y., said that from his point of view "there is a structural imbalance in the industry" when large publishers are making 10%-15% profit and booksellers are expected to "do what we do" and "if we're lucky" make 2%-4%. He added that despite the "modest growth" indies have seen over the past five years, wages, rents and all manner of other expenses are going up, and the imbalance "needs to be addressed" in the next few years. To that end, he said that board members and ABA staff have gone over ABACUS numbers with some publishers and the discussion is ongoing.

Christine Onorati, board member and owner of WORD Bookstores in Brooklyn, N.Y., and Jersey City, N.J., added that this issue has been her "obsession" over the last few years, and though she does not have answers, she emphasized the importance of continuing the conversation with publishers and said that she brings it up whenever she meets with someone on the publishing side, whether that person is a field rep or a head of a publishing house. Onorati said that because she "can't assume" that people in the publishing world are communicating with each other, "I just talk to everyone."

Preorder Sales
Kira Wizner, owner of The Merritt Bookstore in Millbrook, N.Y., expressed concern over the increasing emphasis placed on book preorders, which seem overwhelmingly to benefit Amazon, and wondered whether independent booksellers could be more involved in that facet of the business. Robert Sindelar, ABA president and managing partner of Third Place Books in Seattle, Wash., replied that in fact publishers have also seen that gap and do want to get indies more involved in presales, but there are "lots of different opinions" on how best to do that. He noted that it will likely take more than just "one huge book this fall" to solve the problem, and rather it will take an "ongoing, sustained campaign" by the ABA and publishers, along with help from authors, to change consumer behavior.

Succession Plans
On the topic of older booksellers retiring and younger booksellers buying existing stores, Sindelar noted that within the past two years some publishers have created special programs for new bookstores or expanding bookstores that can be very helpful in terms of dating and discounts, and pointed to resources featured on Hannah Oliver Depp of WORD Bookstores pointed out that many young booksellers who otherwise would love to own bookstores are saddled with student debt, and that members of Indies Forward have been discussing methods of alternate funding. --Alex Mutter

BINC: Do Good All Year - Click to Donate!

#Wi13: Junot Díaz on 'Decolonizing the Shelves'

Junot Díaz

Valerie Koehler of Blue Willow Bookshop, Houston, Tex., introduced Wednesday's Wi13 Breakfast Keynote speaker, "beloved novelist" and Pulitzer Prize winner Junot Díaz. Islandborn (illustrated by Leo Espinosa, available from Penguin March 13), his debut picture book, is, in her words, "a celebration of creativity, diversity and our imagination's boundless ability to connect us."

The breakfast of nearly 1,000 booksellers and publishing representatives marked Díaz's first time speaking at the Winter Institute. "It's a great honor," he said, "to meet the people who made me possible." He began by giving a quick "genre of gratitudes" to the booksellers both present and not, to his publisher and to the bookstores he referred to as his own: Bunch of Grapes and Edgartown Books on Martha's Vineyard in Mass.; Harvard Book Store, Cambridge, Mass.; Trident Books, Boston; New York City's Three Lives & Company and Word Up Community Bookshop/Librería Comunitaria; and Singapore's BooksActually. "If it hadn't been for the curatorial devotion of independent bookstore sellers, my art would perish."

After expressing his gratitude, Díaz read prepared remarks. His speech was a deeply personal account of his childhood relationship with books and his inability to find himself in them. His family emigrated from the Dominican Republic to the United States in 1974, settling in Parlin, N.J., "on the bleeding edge of Bon Jovi-level whiteness." He explained that his family were the first Dominican people in the neighborhood and not welcomed: "The white supremacy... was all day every day for us immigrants of color where white folks could say anything to us without any kind of repercussion."

Having "arrived in the United States completely illiterate," Díaz said that, "if it hadn't been for the kindness of librarians," he probably wouldn't have found books. But he did. "Books became my shelter against the white world that sometimes felt like it was trying to destroy me." Yet, while the books saved, they also alienated him. As the world in which he lived told him his very existence was weird or wrong, his books either agreed with the greater world or acted as if he didn't exist at all: "what really killed, was the erasure. God almighty, the complete and utter erasure. How thoroughly kids like me did not exist in our books."

This desperate desire for representation in children's literature is what drew Díaz to writing for a young audience: children of color still "live out milder versions of what I endured in my childhood." He is working to "decolonize the shelves" and asked the audience to do the same. "Bookstore owners and librarians are on the front line. It's the smallest intervention that can sometimes create the most important, lasting change." He finished his speech to a standing ovation: "I wrote my children's book, Islandborn, because I believe there are things immigrants can teach that we all need to hear without which we will never understand this stolen land we inhabit."

You can watch his keynote here. --Siân Gaetano

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

#Wi13: Around the Show

The second full day of another exemplary Winter Institute 2018 featured a powerful talk at breakfast by Junot Díaz; a Town Hall meeting that focused on diversity, inclusion and sustainable business models for bookstores; a full range of engaging panels; and the Author Reception, which highlighted more than 100 authors and their new or upcoming books. One of the most-frequently asked questions of the meeting was answered at lunch: next year's Winter Institute will be held in Albuquerque, N.Mex.

People of color at yesterday's Town Hall meeting--where diversity and inclusiveness was a major topic--gathered afterward.

Kris Kleindienst (standing), co-owner of Left Bank Books in St. Louis, Mo., with Blain Roberts (l.) and Ethan J. Kytle, authors of Denmark Vesey's Garden: Slavery and Memory in the Cradle of the Confederacy (New Press) at last night's Author Reception.

YA author and COO of We Need Diverse Books Dhonielle Clayton (The Belles, Freeform/Disney) and YA & middle grade author Roshani Chokshi (Aru Shah and the End of Time, Rick Riordan/Disney) at the Author Reception.

"When Your Business Partner Is Also Your Life Partner," an Idea Exchange education session, featured a lively and informative group discussion led by three bookselling couples. Pictured: (l.-r.) Lissa Muscatine and Bradley Graham of Politics and Prose Bookstore, Washington, D.C.; Lynn Rosen and Evan Schwartz of Open Book Bookstore, Elkins Park, Pa.; and Mindy Ostrow and Bill Reilly of the river's end bookstore, Oswego, N.Y. (More coverage of the session coming next week.)

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

Fire and Fury: 1.7 Million Copies Sold

In the three weeks since its publication on January 5, Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House by Michael Wolff has sold 1.7 million copies in hardcover, digital and audio formats, publisher Holt said yesterday. After 22 printings, there are 1.5 hardcover copies in print.

The book is also selling well abroad. In the U.K. and Ireland, Fire and Fury is a bestseller, and in Germany, the U.K. English-language edition is No. 4 on Der Spiegel's bestseller list. (A German-language version will be released by Rowohlt in February.)

Obituary Note: Roberta Pressel

Roberta Pressel, a senior designer working on books for Roaring Brook Press and Farrar, Straus and Giroux for Young Readers, died on Monday after a long illness.

Macmillan noted that "among her many notable accomplishments here were Moonbird and The Boys Who Challenged Hitler by Phil Hoose, Randolph Caldecott by Leonard Marcus, Lost and Found and the Five Forms by Barbara McClintock, and many, many more." She was also "an excellent bookmaker, a tennis player, a competitive crossword puzzler and a devoted friend. We will miss her very much."

A service will be held tomorrow, Friday, January 26, at 11:30 a.m. at Temple Emanuel in Great Neck, N.Y., with a gathering after burial. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made either to Deaf West Theatre or the Helen Keller Center in Pressel's name.


Books of Wonder's Owner 'Takes His Business Uptown'

TimeOut New York showcased Peter Glassman, owner of Books of Wonder, who decided last fall "to take his business uptown with a new location on W. 84th Street.... Since then, he's been busy turning his second space into a literary hub for young ones in the community, much like the original store in Chelsea."

"I think it's more important than ever in our electronic world where we don't really touch, meet or interact with people's lives, and this gives people that wonderful opportunity to do that," Glassman said. "It's a place for people to meet, discuss and share their love of literature--discover new books, new voices and new ideas."

As he has done with his flagship store, Glassman "is hoping to work alongside schools in the spring and fall to create literary festivals where he closes down the shop for students and their families, brings in authors, and works alongside schools to bulk up their bookshelves. He is also collaborating with local organizations for exciting events but cannot reveal the details just yet," TimeOut noted.

"Children's books are so varied and there are so many titles that just a regular bookstore can carry such a tiny percentage of the titles and the staff has to know everything; they can't just be devoted to children's books," Glassman said. "I think it's important for kids to have a place to go to and say, 'This is for me.' "

Personnel Changes at St. Martin's Press

At St. Martin's Press:

Erica Martirano has been promoted to associate director of marketing.

Karen Masnica has been promoted to marketing manager.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Jenifer Lewis on the Talk

Wendy Williams: Damaris Phillips, author of Southern Girl Meets Vegetarian Boy: Down Home Classics for Vegetarians (and the Meat Eaters Who Love Them) (Abrams, $29.99, 9781419726699).

The Talk: Jenifer Lewis, author of The Mother of Black Hollywood: A Memoir (Amistad, $25.99, 9780062410405).

This Weekend on Book TV: Vicente Fox

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.

Saturday, January 27
1 p.m. Orly Lobel, author of You Don't Own Me: How Mattel v. MGA Entertainment Exposed Barbie's Dark Side (Norton, $27.95, 9780393254075).

2 p.m. A.J. Baime, author of The Accidental President: Harry S. Truman and the Four Months That Changed the World (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $30, 9780544617346).

6:15 p.m. Brian Clements, Alexandra Teague and Dean Rader, editors of Bullets into Bells: Poets & Citizens Respond to Gun Violence (Beacon Press, $15, 9780807025581). (Re-airs Monday at 4 a.m.)

7:40 p.m. Book TV takes a tour of Regnery Publishing. (Re-airs Sunday at 10 p.m.)

9 p.m. Gregory Boyle, author of Barking to the Choir: The Power of Radical Kinship (Simon & Schuster, $26, 9781476726151), at Vroman's Bookstore in Pasadena, Calif.

10 p.m. Kayleigh McEnany, author of The New American Revolution: The Making of a Populist Movement (Threshold Editions, $28, 9781501179686). (Re-airs Sunday at 9 p.m. and Monday at 12 a.m. and 3 a.m.)

11 p.m. Stephen Kotkin, author of Stalin: Waiting for Hitler, 1929-1941 (Penguin Press, $40, 9781594203800). (Re-airs Sunday at 10:50 a.m.)

Sunday, January 28
1:15 a.m. Vicente Fox, author of Let's Move On: Beyond Fear & False Prophets (Savio Republic, $25, 9781682615430). (Re-airs Sunday at 5:45 p.m.)

9:45 a.m. Michael Giorgione, author of Inside Camp David: The Private World of the Presidential Retreat (Little, Brown, $28, 9780316509619). (Re-airs Monday at 1 a.m.)

3:15 p.m. Peter Ginna, author of What Editors Do: The Art, Craft, and Business of Book Editing (University of Chicago Press, $25, 9780226299976), at Politics & Prose in Washington, D.C.

4:30 p.m. David Goldfield, author of The Gifted Generation: When Government Was Good (Bloomsbury, $35, 9781620400883).

7:45 p.m. Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, author of Loaded: A Disarming History of the Second Amendment (City Lights, $16.95, 9780872867239), at Politics & Prose in Washington, D.C.

Books & Authors

Awards: Bookbug Picture Book Winner

Chae Strathie and Nicola O'Byrne's Gorilla Loves Vanilla won this year's Scottish Book Trust Bookbug Picture Book Prize, which is voted for by children. More than 22,000 votes were cast in total.

"I would like to thank the teachers. I would like to thank librarians, mums and dads, the Scottish Book Trust, and of course all the other wonderful authors who were on the shortlist," Strathie said in an entertaining video. "It really means a lot to have won when there were such brilliant books on the list. And I think that's about it, yeah, and we've thanked everyone, yeah? Hang on a minute! Almost forgot the most important people and that's you! So I'd like to thank all of you, the children, who voted for Gorilla Loves Vanilla. Thousands of you voted, it was wonderful, so thank you very much for that."

Attainment: New Titles Out Next Week

Selected new titles appearing next Tuesday, January 30:

The Monk of Mokha by Dave Eggers (Knopf, $28.95, 9781101947319) follows a Yemeni American trapped in his war-torn homeland.

Still Me: A Novel by Jojo Moyes (Pamela Dorman, $27, 9780399562457) is the third novel with Louisa Clark, after Me Before You and After You.

The Winter Station by Jody Shields (Little, Brown, $27, 9780316385343) takes place in 1910 Manchuria, where a Russian doctor tries to contain a plague.

Traitor: A Thriller by Jonathan de Shalit (Atria/Emily Bestler, $27, 9781501170485) follows an Israeli mole leaking secrets to Russia.

Blood Sisters: A Novel by Jane Corry (Pamela Dorman, $26, 9780525522188) is a thriller about three girls united by a childhood accident.

This Is Not a Love Letter by Kim Purcell (Hyperion, $17.99, 9781484798348) follows a young woman's search for her missing boyfriend.

Rise and Kill First: The Secret History of Israel's Targeted Assassinations by Ronen Bergman (Random House, $35, 9781400069712) tracks Israel's assassination program.

Brave by Rose McGowan (HarperOne, $27.99, 9780062655981) is the memoir of the actress and activist.

Tiny and the Big Dig by Sherri Duskey Rinker, illustrated by Matt Myers (Scholastic Press, $16.99, 9780545904292) finds Tiny digging and digging to get that big bone in this picture book.

Jefferson's Daughters: Three Sisters, White and Black, in a Young America by Catherine Kerrison (Ballantine, $28, 9781101886243) is a biography of Thomas Jefferson's three daughters.

His Sinful Touch (The Mad Morelands) by Candace Camp (HQN, $7.99, 9780373789962).

The Legend of Korra Turf Wars: Part Two by Michael Dante DiMartino and Irene Koh (Dark Horse, $10.99, 9781506700403).

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 Chalk Man: A Novel by C.J. Tudor (Crown, $27, 9781524760984). "The Chalk Man by C.J. Tudor is an unusually gripping mystery reminiscent of Arthur Conan Doyle's story 'The Adventure of the Dancing Men.' It is amazingly well-written, and the pace does not let up, from the shocking beginning all the way through to the unsettling ending. This suspenseful page-turner is definitely a cut above and will keep you riveted. Highly recommended!" --Margo Conklin, Brown University Bookstore, Providence, R.I.

This Could Hurt: A Novel by Jillian Medoff (Harper, $26.99, 9780062660763). "Who knew that a novel about a faltering company's HR department could be so gripping and compassionate? Anyone who has worked in a company with other people will appreciate the resentments, friendships, and competitions that develop in a long-time team. Medoff does a great job of making the reader care about each and every character." --Susan Taylor, Book House of Stuyvesant Plaza, Albany N.Y.

Neon in Daylight: A Novel by Hermione Hoby (Catapult, $16.95, 9781936787753). "There are plenty of novels about hedonistic young people, washed-up alcoholic writers, or aimless academics struggling to find themselves. Few of them are written with the intelligence, freshness, honesty, style, observational eye, and command of language on display in Hermione Hoby's impressive debut, Neon in Daylight. As the lives of the three main characters (and a cat named Joni Mitchell) converge against the backdrop of a lonely, doomed, and dying downtown New York City, you'll find yourself missing your bus stop because you cannot put down this book." --Nadine Vassallo, Book Soup, West Hollywood, Calif.

For Ages 4 to 8
Edie Is Ever So Helpful by Sophy Henn (Philomel, $16.99, 9780399548062). "I always enjoy Sophy Henn's sweet characters and bright use of color. Like many kiddos, Edie is a little bit over the top sometimes. Kids and parents will recognize themselves in Edie Is Ever So Helpful and be delighted by the story!" --Johanna Albrecht, Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill, N.C.

For Ages 9 to 12: An Indies Introduce Title
Just Like Jackie by Lindsey Stoddard (HarperCollins, $16.99, 9780062652911). "Robinson loves her grandfather more than anything, even more than her three favorite things: baseball, fixing cars, and making maple syrup. Her grandfather is the only family she has, or so she believes, until a school project makes Robinson rethink what family really means. Robinson is a little girl with a giant spirit and personality who just wants to live up to her namesake, Jackie Robinson. This sweet story is a home run in my eyes." --Holly Alexander, The Book Stall at Chestnut Court, Winnetka, Ill.

For Teen Readers
Gunslinger Girl by Lyndsay Ely (Jimmy Patterson, $17.99, 9780316555104). "Serendipity Jones is the best marksman in her family, only because her mother is dead. While fleeing a forced marriage and an abusive father, she finds herself as the newest act in the Theatre Vespertine in the lawless border town of Cessation. With themes of climate change, dystopias, civil war, and the nature of justice, vengeance, and protection, Gunslinger Girl is a fabulous blend of Western and thriller. Pity has amazing gumption and I love how she questions her own principles as well as those around her--even in the face of destruction. With a glittering supporting cast of mobsters, politicians, and circus performers, Gunslinger Girl truly can't miss." --Jessica Hahl, Country Bookshelf, Bozeman, Mont.

[Many thanks to IndieBound and the ABA!]

Book Review

Review: Freshwater

Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi (Grove, $24 hardcover, 240p., 9780802127358, February 13, 2018)

Akwaeke Emezi's standout first novel, Freshwater, is a riveting and peculiar variation on coming of age. Ada is a Nigerian girl born into great power. Her name invokes the serpent deity of an ancient pantheon, and beckons an Igbo god collective to inhabit her form. "Before a christ-induced amnesia struck the humans, it was well known that the python was sacred." These ogbanje are the voices that narrate Ada's youth and blooming adulthood, holding their vessel captive to their whims and assuming control when necessary to protect her.

The girl's childhood is marked by an unstable home life and volatile parents that compound her inner torments. She immigrates to the United States for school, where she is introduced to an ongoing legacy of virulent racism. The cruelty she faces intensifies with betrayals and sexual assault, and in time the supernatural swirl inside her coalesces into one, then two, then more gods who take center stage.

Asughara seizes control of Ada's body as a vessel of erotic pleasure and manipulation, protecting her from the destructive cravings of men. Saint Vincent, on the other hand, acts as her cool and gentle, queerly masculine counterweight of desire for other women. Yshwa, however, and his biblical yearning for the vulnerability preached by missionary outsiders draws the ire of the others, especially Asughara. But even she cowers in fear at the foreboding elders who threaten to snatch them all back to the liminal world of their origin.

While Freshwater touches the many dark, complicated notes of a troubled adolescence, Emezi extrapolates their consequences into a deliriously metaphysical realm. Mental health, self-harm, abuse, heartbreak and isolation take on supernatural gravity, and mundane natural elements manifest with strong, sometimes harsh, physicality.

Ada is raped by a college boyfriend; "this boy with doe eyes... had released clouds into her" even after "there had been so many refusals... piled up like small red bricks." She tries to flee, but he seizes her. She screams until "the veils in her head, they tore, they ripped, they collapsed," and Asughara takes form for the first time in the marble room of Ada's mind. She becomes the girl's protector, although she is reckless with her power.

The poetics of Emezi's prose enhance the mythology she evokes. As enchanting as it is unsettling, Freshwater tickles all six senses. The chorus of voices narrating Ada's life achieves a remarkable balance between cruel machinations of cavalier deities and deep empathy for the distressed vessel they inhabit. But whether they are the source of Ada's problems or her buoy against them is one question that drives this refreshingly imaginative debut. "All water is connected," as the ogbanje say, and "all freshwater comes out of the mouth of a python." --Dave Wheeler, associate editor, Shelf Awareness

Shelf Talker: An ancient god collective guide and guard the young woman they inhabit throughout a treacherous coming of age in Akwaeke Emezi's dazzling debut novel.

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