Shelf Awareness for Sunday, April 1, 2018


Little Brown and Company: The World According to Fannie Davis: My Mother's Life in the Detroit Numbers by Bridgett M. Davis

Grove Press: The Heavens by Sandra Newman

Quirk Books: Giraffes on Horseback Salad: Salvador Dali, the Marx Brothers, and the Strangest Movie Never Made by Josh Frank, adapted with Tim Heidecker, illustrated by Manuela Pertega

Other Press: Wanderer by Sarah Léon, translated by John Cullen

Sourcebooks Jabberwocky: 8 Little Planets by Chris Ferrie, illustrated by Lizzy Doyle

Flatiron Books: Save Me from Dangerous Men (Nikki Griffin #1) by S.A. Lelchuk

Berkley Books: My Lovely Wife by Samantha Downing

For Fun

Amazon to Unveil Loss Prevention Drones at Book and Grocery Stores

Amazon's Jeff Bezos testing his new drone.

Later this year, Amazon will begin rolling out a fleet of loss prevention drones, equipped with short-range tasers and guided by a machine-learning algorithm, at its Amazon Books and Amazon Go locations, Shelf Awareness has learned. In addition to using advanced sensory technology and proprietary facial and gesture recognition software to detect suspicious behavior in real time, the algorithm will be capable of predicting which shoppers are most likely to commit unlawful behavior.

Codenamed "Eye of Bezos," the algorithm can create an "ethical matrix" of an individual using a combination of his or her Amazon shopping and search histories along with voice and visual data scraped from the ever-growing list of Alexa-enabled devices. The algorithm will then use the data to identify "high risk" individuals and put the drones on alert as soon as they enter an Amazon store. From there, sensors will monitor not only the individual's movements but also his or her heart rate, body temperature, perspiration and more, and should enough suspicious indicators be detected, the drones will automatically deploy from hidden docks located throughout the store.

Though the drones have yet to be implemented in Amazon's own stores, the company is reportedly already in talks with various private security forces and police departments around the world to supply the drones as part of a program called Amazon Justice. A possible name of Amazon Prime Suspect was rejected due to fears of brand confusion. --Alex Mutter


Rare Bird Books, A Vireo Book: Easy for You to Say by Stuttering John Melendez


BookExpo Re-Re-Renamed BookExpo America

BookExpo America is returning in 2019.

The show once known as the ABA was renamed BookExpo America in the 1990s but dropped "America" from its name in October 2016. Since then, BE has been severely criticized on social media. Among typical comments in the last year and a half: from @IvanBookMan, "Amerika's not Godunov 4 ur show?!" @GlocksRFun: "What r u ashamed of u commies" And @RealMeanDonald: "U shld drop Books not AMERICA!"

BookExpo event director Brien McDonald said that the return to BookExpo America has several advantages. For one, it's easier to refer to the show as "BEA" rather than "bee eee." Also, the more familiar name ties in with the show's current efforts to reinvent itself, leading to the show's new slogan: "Make BookExpo America Great Again."

McDonald indicated, however, that if Republicans lose control of Congress in November, the show might jettison "America" again. He had no comment when asked about related rumors: one insider has said that if the Democrats win the White House in 2020, BookExpo will drop even more parts of its name, including "k," "e," "p" and "o," leaving a sleek, post-modern "BooX." --John Mutter


Graywolf Press: Scribe by Alyson Hagy


Comey Announces Surprise Book

James Comey's book A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership won't be released for two more weeks, but the former FBI director has already announced he's working on a follow-up, and it's a little unexpected: a book of recipes collected from former members of the Trump administration. It's called Cooking with Chaos: Recipes for Disaster from the White House, and it's the first title from Macmillan's new imprint, Cooked Books.

Among the standouts:

Former White House communications director Hope Hicks contributes a recipe for sliders and fries à la McDonald's; she notes that she learned to keep these close at hand to help prevent the president from hangry tweeting.

Former chief strategist Steve Bannon shares a selfie with his favorite Deep State Smoothie (the actual ingredients are a deep-state secret, but the lumpy, mud-colored beverage looks... disgusting).

Former White House adviser Omarosa provides instructions for one of the desserts, Orange Fool, served at her White House bridal luncheon; as she explains: "I don't really know how to make it, but I delegated, and everyone seemed happy."

Newly former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who hails from Texas, offers a family favorite, Enchiladas de Compañia de Petroleo. He notes, "Growing up, our servants often cooked Mex food, and this is like that."

And Comey's own contribution, American Apple Pie: a classic recipe that "evokes a less unsettled time in America, approximately 437 days ago."

Comey told Shelf Awareness, "When I worked for the government, I'd often enjoy late-night potluck dinners with the White House staff. Since many members of the Trump administration have dispersed, I thought this would be a nice way to get the gang back together. I expect the next time we all see each other will be at the House [of Representatives] for POTUS's impeachment hearing. --Robin Lenz


Yale University Press: The Climate Casino: Risk, Uncertainty, and Economics for a Warming World by William D. Nordhaus


B&N, Uber to Partner on Handselling Venture UberReader

Uber + Barnes & Noble--what could possibly go wrong?

Barnes & Noble and Uber have announced the launch of UberReader, the first mobile app that matches bookloving ride-share customers with B&N bookseller/drivers "to talk about books the way readers do." Uber will now identify B&N drivers with an icon on its app.

B&N said the program allows its employees to earn additional income while using their bookselling skills to recommend titles to passengers. In addition to payment for the ride, participating drivers earn an as-yet-unspecified percentage of sales for every book ordered from B&N's UberReader app using a driver's individualized QR code.

Available for Android and iOS users, UberReader "blends technology with the B&N experience to deliver transportation as well as a new kind of digital browsing that offers a gateway for users to find new books and talk about the ones they love while on the go. Seamless connectivity to the mobile web allows purchase or sampling of new discoveries," the companies said. --Robert Gray


Soho Press: Insurrecto by Gina Apostol


United Airlines' Writers-in-Flight Program Canceled

J. Simon Karl

United Airlines, which has experienced numerous publicity setbacks in recent months that necessitated a series of public apologies, has now canceled its troubled Writers-in-Flight residency program. Launched two years ago, the project was dropped due to what the company termed "unforeseeable circumstances."

The five writers currently in the program "are in transit" and "accounted for," UA said in a statement, though details of their exact whereabouts were not immediately available. According to social media, several of the writers are in hiding on United planes, fearful of being dragged off.

Writers-in-Flight was inspired by similar programs in recent years, including the Amtrak Residencies as well as writers-in-residence at airport terminals, most notably Alain de Botton's 2009 stint at Terminal 5 in London's Heathrow Airport, which was chronicled in A Week at the Airport.

Unlike those efforts, however, Writers-in-Flight has been beset by challenges from the start, with participants occasionally stranded for days at airports nationwide (and, in at least two cases, internationally); repeatedly bumped from overbooked flights; and, in recent months, having articles about their less-than-thrilling airborne experiences rejected by Hemispheres, UA's in-flight magazine. One writer who had been living in the United Club at Philadelphia International Airport for a week was forcibly evicted by authorities earlier this year.

Last Thursday, mystery author J. Simon Karl broke his NDA by live-tweeting a serialized serial killer story-in-progress from a UA plane stranded for nearly five hours on the runway at O'Hare. UA subsequently issued an apology for Karl's use of passengers' real names and photos in his otherwise fictional portrayal of the serial killer murdering fellow passengers in a crowded plane stuck for hours on an airport runway. --Robert Gray


Hampton Roads Publishing Company: Cannabis: A Beginner's Guide to Growing Marijuana by Danny Danko


Amazon Fine Tunes Lord of the Rings

Following its purchase last November of global TV rights for J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, Amazon is planning some alterations in the beloved tale of Middle-earth. What some at Amazon Studios are calling "the new story orc" aims for a less "heroes vs. bad guys approach," one executive said. "Tolkien's treatment takes a traditional, legacy view: creatures are essentially either good or the other thing. A few 'good' characters have crises but recover. On the other hand, several--Gollum/Sméagol, who we may rename Donald, and Saruman--go over to the so-called darkness. That's considered a very big negative and in version 1.0, it's always the fault of a small household-friendly round object, almost but not quite as powerful and magical as the Amazon Echo."

Suggestions to add a bit of evil to the hobbits--perhaps Samwise Gamgee takes the ring from Frodo forever--have been rejected for now because Amazon fears damaging the franchise. Thus, the first season, which will be called LoRings, will concentrate on portraying familiar "bad guys" in a brighter light.

"We're envisioning a more forward-looking world," the Amazon exec said. "For example, Sauron will be a multi-faceted character with an intriguing, sympathetic back story. Instead of a simplistic, evil creature, he's more of a friendly disrupter of civilization." Insiders say the new, more benevolent Sauron will, in contrast to Tolkien's version, have a bodily form: he will be a 50ish, bald, almost childlike creature with large, all-seeing eyes, big ears and a hyena-like laugh. --John Mutter


Purrfect Audiobook of the Day: A Tail of Two Kitties

Today is the pub date for A Tail of Two Kitties, a free audiobook by Mr. Bigglesworth, read by a full clowder in the original Cat.

Publisher Libro.fm is pulling out all the stops for a title that has strong appeal to an underserved (and often, they insist, underfed) market. To celebrate "Audiobooks for Cats" day, Libro is offering videos, testimonies and heaps of social media support--including inviting people to take pictures of their cats listening to audiobooks and tagging them #felineindependence.

Here Libro.fm sets the tasty table: "Dr. Catette's release from the Bastille in Purris is the beginning of his reunion with his daughter Lucie in London. His imprisonment had taken him away from her before she had even been born, a tiny kitten without a father.

"Father and daughter must fight for a steady relationship through Lucie's marriage, her new husband, and encounters with the people responsible for throwing Dr. Catette into kitty jail. Through trials and dealings with Purrisian catnip dealers, the family must not only survive their own troubles but also the Great Cat Revolution sweeping across the French countryside."

Already a range of bipeds and quadrupeds are giving A Tail of Two Kitties many thumbs and paws up:

"The dulcet tones of Miss Kitty, Button Whiskerworth, and the other equally talented cast drew me into a fantastic world of tragedy and betrayal. Truly a book to relax with on a rainy day." --Squeekie, Cupboard Maker Books, Enola, Pa.

"We have long waited to be able to serve our cat customers as well as we do our human ones and now we finally can. We are excited to provide Libro.fm audiobooks in Cat for the discerning feline listener. Our Book of the Month for Cats selection for April is A Tail of Two Kitties. A classic by the standards of any species, cats will enjoy the high drama and gripping suspense of Dr. Catette's adventures and trials in Purris. You can even give it as a gift to any of your feline friends!" --Kelly Justice, Fountain Bookstore, Richmond, Va.

"Reminiscent of one of my favorite cat classics, The Aristocats, but much sadder. I highly approve." --Annika, Cupboard Maker Books, Enola, Pa.

"A Tail of Two Kitties is both an uplifting view of the changes our society is really trying to make and a serious commentary on what it's like to be a feline in today's world. Told in the voices of some of the most important cats of our time, A Tail of Two Kitties is a collection of true accounts and fantastical 'mewsings' that puts readers of the book and listeners of the audio book into an ethereal frame of mind, drawing them in to this amazing story. This is a book everyone needs. Your family will love it, your cats will love it, and your dog will certainly have a new appreciation for his feline neighbors." --Rob Hawthorn, Gallery Bookshop, Mendocino, Calif.

For more about A Tail of Two Kitties from Libro.fm, click here.


Movies: Text Me! Updates You've Got Mail

Filming is set to begin this summer on Text Me!, a remake of the 1998 hit movie You've Got Mail, which starred Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan as owners of an all-consuming bookstore chain and threatened small indie children's bookshop, respectively. Benedict Cumberbatch and Reese Witherspoon are in talks to play the lead roles.

Mitchell Kaplan, owner of Books & Books in Miami, Fla., is producing the film via the Mazur/Kaplan Company (The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, The Man Who Invented Christmas). He said an update of the iconic "bookstore movie" is long overdue, both from a bookseller's and filmmaker's perspective.

"You've Got Mail has become the go-to, cliché media reference every time there is news coverage of the independent bookstore business," Kaplan added. "It's time for a more contemporary version that reflects the world we live in, online and offline. Indie booksellers are so 21st century."

One Hollywood insider who has seen the script said that the "new" Fox Books, like AOL, is not the dominant force it was in the 1990s. The movie will feature the same Fox stores as in the original, with no changes in layout or decor--and even a lot of the same books for sale. The company will also be led by executives who have extensive experience running failing companies in non-book industries and are slowly ridding Fox of employees with bookselling experience. --Robert Gray


Awards: No Winner of Fred Rogers Be My Neighbor Prize

There will be no winner of the inaugural Fred Rogers Be My Neighbor Prize, which was created to honor the most uplifting and least controversial book of 2017. The panel of judges was unable to reach consensus regarding a longlist, culled from titles nominated in an online poll of children and adults nationwide. Organizers said the number of objections raised for each book considered made the chances of narrowing the field to a shortlist, and ultimately a winner, impossible.

"It just seems to be the wrong moment to launch a prize like this one, despite our best intentions," said the prize committee in a joint statement. "We plan to try again eventually, though perhaps we will wait until after 2020 to revive the effort." --Robert Gray



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