Shelf Awareness for Monday, April 23, 2018

Margaret K. McElderry Books: Vespertine by Margaret Rogerson

Henry Holt & Company: Mihi Ever After (Mihi Ever After #1) by Tae Keller, illustrated by Geraldine Rodríguez

Berkley Books: River Sing Me Home by Eleanor Shearer

Oxford University Press, USA: The World According to Proust by Joshua Landy

Chronicle Chroma: Bob Willoughby: A Cinematic Life by Bob Willoughby

Charlesbridge Publishing: Forever Cousins by Laurel Goodluck, illustrated by Jonathan Nelson

Tor Teen: The Luminaries by Susan Dennard


New Owners for Washington's Watermark Book Company

Watermark Book Company, Anacortes, Wash., has new owners: Brandy and Ben Bowen, whom longtime owner and co-founder Patti Pattee described in an announcement as "locals who feel as strongly as I do that we should have an independent bookstore in town. I am confident that they are the right people to take on the responsibility--and the challenge--of keeping Watermark at the heart of the Anacortes community.... The Bowens will bring fresh energy, ideas, and events to Watermark, and I am confident that it will flourish in their hands."

Pattee had put the store on the market a year ago. She and her late husband, Norman Sturdevant, founded Watermark Book Company in 1989 and ran it together until his death in 1999. Pattee remembered that difficult period: "Though I was bereft, I was able to keep the shop going with assistance from many able staff members. They are too numerous to name here, but particular mention goes to Barbara Hoenselaar and Vicki McNeil, who put up with me for years and assisted me with interesting sideline purchases. All Watermark employees, past and present, deserve acknowledgement for helping me to keep the store afloat through tough times, and for contributing to its ambiance and civility. I have been humbled and gratified to work with them. I also wish to thank the many wonderful publisher sales representatives and authors with whom I have worked over the years.

"Obviously I will miss the store and much that goes with being a bookseller. There's nothing like opening a box of new books, and don't get me started on the joys of selling a book to a customer I knew as a child who is now buying books for his children. (The value of stories lives on!) I will also miss you, the customers, as so many of you have become friends over the years. Books will continue to be a big part of my life and I look forward to having more time to read, garden, travel, and explore the forest lands."

Pattee will continue to work at the store through May to help with the transition.

Scribe Us: Our Members Be Unlimited: A Comic about Workers and Their Unions by Sam Wallman

Michigan's Bookman No Longer for Sale

The Bookman, Grand Haven, Mich., which was put up for sale in December, is no longer for sale. Co-owner Alexa McGuinness will continue as the sole owner. Her current co-owners--Sharon and Dick Tanis and Diane Steggerda--are retiring and will help McGuinness through a transition period.

In an announcement, the store said it "will continue to do what we've always done in regard to customer service. We will remain West Michigan's go-to source for books--both in and out of print--and book-related products. We will continue to involve ourselves in community events and offer events all our own."

At the same time, the Bookman asked customers to respond to a survey about, among other things, what sections and categories they'd like to have expanded; what other products and services they'd like in addition to what's currently offered; and what events or groups they'd like to see offered. Respondents will be entered into a drawing for a Bookman gift certificate.

The Bookman was founded in 1974 by Jim Dana, who later became the first executive director of the Great Lakes Independent Booksellers Association. In 2015, Sharon and Dick Tanis, Diane Steggerda and Alexa McGuinness bought the store from John and Judy Waanders.

Flyaway Books: The Coat by Séverine Vidal, illustrated by Louis Thomas

DartFrog Launches 'Direct to Shelf' Program for Indies

DartFrog Books, "the bookseller's solution to indie books," launched its Direct to Shelf Program earlier this month with the first shipment of books to partner stores. Founder Gordon McClellan, who noted that 20 indie bookstores were part of the launch, said the "next shipment of titles will arrive in stores on July 15. We anticipate the number of stores in the program to continue growing, as word gets out." On Facebook, Tubby & Coo's Mid-City Bookshop in New Orleans and the Conundrum in St. Francisville, La., highlighted their DartFrog sales floor displays.

"The program is designed to benefit independent bookstores, by providing them financial compensation and a steady flow of the best in self-published literature," McClellan noted. "It is also designed to benefit authors, who now know that when their book is selected by DartFrog, it is guaranteed to be placed in a specially branded 'DartFrog Approved' section of at least 20 bookstores." All DartFrog titles are available through Ingram.

Marina Aris, DartFrog's director of bookstore relations, described the Direct to Shelf Program as "a triple win for self-published authors, independent booksellers and Ingram."

McClellan explained that the company's name was chosen "simply because the dart frog has learned to thrive in an environment dominated by the Amazon. We distribute our books solely to independent bookstores because we believe them to be an absolutely essential part of the literary ecosystem, and aim to help them thrive in an Amazon dominated world. We do this by focusing on a market of writers (self-published) that is enormous and yet widely un-vetted. By creating the gateway through which self-published authors are vetted, and then partnering with bookstores to display the books that pass our evaluation, we aim to provide the best self-published authors with bookstore visibility, and the bookstores with a new source of income."

Noting that the company compensates partner bookstores when they refer an author to DartFrog (whether or not the book is selected), and pays bookstores a guaranteed stipend for being part of the Direct to Shelf program, McClellan said, "The result is a new financial stream for independent bookstores that does not depend on sales alone for cash flow."

PNBA Holiday Catalog 2022

Introducing The Great American Read

The Great American Read, an eight-part series hosted by TV personality and journalist Meredith Vieira, will introduce viewers to PBS's list of the country's 100 favorite novels, created in partnership with the polling service YouGov. After the initial two-hour episode on Tuesday, May 22--featuring celebrities, authors, "superfans" and "everyday Americans"--the multi-platform initiative will begin: throughout the summer, people can vote for their favorite novels on the PBS website and by using special voting hashtags on Twitter and Facebook. PBS will also work with booksellers, libraries and local stations to launch "the most expansive national celebration of books and reading aimed at engaging multi-generational readers across multiple platforms ever created." PBS has partnered on the series with Jane Root, founder of the global TV company Nutopia and former president of Discovery Channel US; the Anne Ray Foundation; and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

The Great American Read was introduced last Friday at the Morgan Library and Museum in New York City. "The stories are fiction, but the excitement is real," said Bill Gardner, PBS v-p of programming and development, who opened the event. "Starting next month, public television will create a place for Americans to discuss the novels that have shaped and inspired us." The real power of public television "is in communities," Gardner said, which is why PBS will be working with bookstores, libraries and local stations "to talk and laugh and discuss and debate."

Host Meredith Vieira (center) with Ming-Na Wen (left) and Diane Lane.

Meredith Vieira expressed her excitement about finally being able to reveal the list: "This has been so hard for me--for the past few weeks, I've known what's on the list. I have a really big mouth and I wasn't allowed to tell anybody. I'm so glad today has finally come!"

"The books run the gamut from pop culture novels... to beloved children's classics," she continued, and "from science fiction adventures to historic literature... from thrillers that keep us on the edge of our seats to complex personal journeys that raise challenging social issues. Each book has earned a special place in the hearts and minds of American readers."

The 100 titles were then announced by Vieira, American Booksellers Association CEO Oren Teicher and four celebrities featured in the series: Diane Lane, Ming-Na Wen, Chris Kluwe (Beautifully Unique Sparkleponies: On Myths, Morons, Free Speech, Football, and Assorted Absurdities) and Armistead Maupin (Tales of the City). A panel discussion with Vieira, Gardner, executive producer Jane Root and Jennifer Cook, director of communications at WUCF, followed.

"They asked me if I would be interested in getting the word out about the Great American Read," former football player and author Chris Kluwe said before the event, "and I said 'Of course!' The more we as a society can read, the more we can teach [our] kids to read.... And it's good to let adults know it's okay to read books and enjoy them." When asked if he had any particular favorite on the list, he named The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. "I also talked [in the show] about the Foundation series by Isaac Asimov," he added.

ABA's Oren Teicher and Meredith Vieira

Asked about her favorites, Meredith Vieira responded: "I love murder mysteries... so I gravitated immediately toward Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None. I've had the list for a while. I went back and reread [Christie's book] and I remembered why I love her so much as an author. I like a dead body. I don't know why that is."

Actress Ming-Na Wen said she became involved in the series because she was in The Joy Luck Club. It's therefore not a "big surprise," she said, that Amy Tan's book is "one of my all-time favorite novels. It had such an impact on my life, not just personally but professionally." She went on to say that parenting has made reading even more important to her: "I've always read to my kids and now they're avid readers. There's nothing better than seeing them wanting to open a book as opposed to streaming or... looking on their social media." Her favorite works of fiction? "I love any novel that speaks about female empowerment and the struggles women have."

The Great American Read series will feature other "familiar faces," including Gail King, Morgan Freeman, Seth Myers, Chelsea Clinton and Jenna Bush Hager. For more about The Great American Read, visit the website and see the full 100-book list here. Voting begins after the May 22 launch, and viewers are invited to vote once a day for their favorites. The series will resume in the fall with themed episodes, culminating with the finale in which "America's Best-Loved Novel" will be revealed. --Siân Gaetano, children's and YA editor, Shelf Awareness

Obituary Note: Sergio Pitol

Sergio Pitol, the Mexican author and translator "recognized for breaking barriers between genres" and "considered one of the great voices in contemporary Spanish literature," died April 12, the New York Times reported. He was 85. When Pitol received the Cervantes Prize in 2005, King Juan Carlos I of Spain said his works had "seduced us with the truth."

Pitol's short stories, essays and crime novels "merged fiction with memoir in an imaginative swirl of contemplation and reflection," the Times wrote. "He spoke seven languages, and his many translations brought the works of Jane Austen, Henry James and Joseph Conrad, as well as the Polish Nobel laureate Witold Gombrowicz, to Spanish-speaking readers."

Among his most acclaimed works is Trilogy of Memory--The Art of Flight (1996), The Journey (2000), and The Magician of Vienna (2005)--a "collection of essays that amount to a fictionalized autobiography, a product of both his broad travels and his dreams," the Times noted, adding that "Pitol reached a new readership when the trilogy was published in English in 2015."

"He didn't write the way that was expected from a Latin American writer, like García Márquez," author Margo Glantz said. "His work broke all those molds, and it is one of the reasons his literature was less read and translated to other languages."

Pitol became a mentor to a younger generation of Mexican writers, including Juan Villoro, who wrote in El País last week: "Sergio Pitol made a religion out of friendship. He reached out to others with an unusual gregariousness and fiercely believed in others."


Image of the Day: Comey in Chicago

The Chicago Humanities Festival and the Seminary Co-op Bookstore hosted James Comey at the Harris Theater as part his national tour for A Higher Loyalty (Flatiron Books). The former FBI director was interviewed by CHF's Alison Cuddy in front of a sold-out crowd of 1,500 people. (Photo courtesy David Kindler and the Chicago Humanities Festival)

Rep Jon Mayes Bids a 'Grand Southern Farewell'

Jon Mayes (r.) with Richard Howorth at Square Books, Oxford, Miss.

After 22 years as a bookseller and then 26 years as a rep, Jon Mayes, longtime Southern rep for PGW, Perseus and, most recently, Ingram, has decided, as he puts it, "to seek out new adventures in life."

Starting as a clerk at the legendary Pickwick Bookshops in Southern California in 1970, he rose to manage and open several stores in the chain as it morphed into B. Dalton Bookseller. Lured by Brentano's, he opened its store in La Jolla in 1978.

Longing to own his own store, he and his wife opened Butler & Mayes booksellers in 1980, also in La Jolla. A decade later, PGW hired him to take over its Southern territory. Mayes found his calling and has been with them ever since. Through three different owners, the PGW brand of book distribution has endured and thrived. "Working with the fine people at PGW has been an honor and a privilege," he said.

Mayes (r.) with Mark Kaufman and Donna Paz Kaufman at Story & Song, Fernandina Beach, Fla.

He has been capping his career with a three-week road trip with his wife, Linda-Marie Barrett, assistant executive director of SIBA, a trip he called it his "Grand Southern Farewell Tour." He visited many of his beloved bookstores and buyers for the last time. In a letter sent to his accounts, he wrote, in part:

"It's been an honor getting to know you all better through the years. A few of you lucky ones have had to put up with me for all 26 of them! I think I have seen almost every back road in the South on my travels trying to find shortcuts between appointments. Many were dead ends where I had to turn around, often in the middle of cotton fields in Mississippi. I've seen swamps, wild boars, and alligators blocking the road in Florida. Been driving in wind so fierce the rain was horizontal. I was the first rep to visit the New Orleans bookstores just after Katrina had devastated that beautiful city. I had to follow a snow plow to make my appointment at City Lights in Sylva, N.C., because the roads were barely drivable. Came upon the gravesite of Francis Marion in the middle of nowhere on my way to the Happy Bookseller in South Carolina. Barely outran a hurricane in Alabama driving to see the Alabama Booksmith. Stood on the banks of the Mississippi and watched the world drift by in Arkansas after seeing That Bookstore in Blytheville. I explored Davy Crockett's birth place while on my way to call on Union Ave. Books in Knoxville, Tenn. And also helped raise the best kids in the world in Lawrenceville, Ga.

"I have met and dined with so many wonderful authors, publishers, and booksellers that there are just too many to count. Met and married the woman of my dreams at the buying desk of Malaprop's in Asheville. Even got nominated for PW's Rep of the Year (didn't deserve it or make it but, hell, as they say, it was an honor to be nominated). Started a blog, AdvanceReadingCopy, that's been read more than 100,000 times by people all over the world (the Russians seem to like it a lot, for some reason). This video of some of you is a favorite of mine. I even got to sit all alone in the center of the Great Pyramid of Khufu in Egypt because of all the hotel and airline points saved up from all my travels (thank you PGW, Perseus and Ingram)....

"I cannot imagine though working with better people than those I've worked with at PGW, Perseus and finally Ingram.

"What a grand journey it's been. Thank you all so much for all your kindness, generosity and friendship; it's meant the world to me. People who write, produce and sell books are in a special and magical league of their own. I'm privileged to have been a part of it for so many years."

IPG Adds 10 New Clients

Independent Publishers Group has added 10 new clients:

Beginning May 1, IPG will distribute Shinola journals. Shinola, Detroit, Mich., produces hand-crafted products, including watches, jewelry and bound journals.

IPG's Trafalgar Square Publishing, which specializes in distributing U.K. and Australian publishers in the U.S., will represent some client publishers of SaltWay Global Ltd. in the U.S. and Canada, including Baker Street Press, Debrett's, Hawthorn Press and Perronet Press, beginning July 1.

Effective July 1, Trafalgar Square will distribute St. James's House, a new London publisher that is the official publisher for the Rolls-Royce Enthusiasts' Club, the Royal Air Force and the Royal Navy.

Effective this past March 1, Trafalgar Square is distributing Gilgamesh Publishing, which specializes in titles on the Middle East and Africa, ranging from large format photography books to illustrated reference, history, contemporary analysis and travel writing.

Effective this year, Trafalgar Square is distributing Lost the Plot, which was founded in 2016 by Alison and Martin Green and publishes books that "tackle topics that affect and engage the next generation of readers."

Effective July 1, IPG's Academic and Professional program will begin distributing books for Massey University Press, which was founded by Massey University of Auckland, New Zealand, in 2015 and publishes scholarly works in agricultural science, food research, veterinary science and practice, public health, creative arts, education, psychology, history, Māori Studies, military and strategic studies, social issues, social work and business.

Effective May 1, IPG's Academic and Professional program will begin distributing J. Ross Publishing, which specializes in professional and technical books and multimedia products in the fields of business, architecture, engineering and science.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Gregory Pardlo on Fresh Air

CBS This Morning: Ian Bremmer, author of Us vs. Them: The Failure of Globalism (Portfolio, $27, 9780525533184).

Fresh Air: Gregory Pardlo, author of Air Traffic: A Memoir of Ambition and Manhood in America (Knopf, $26.95, 9781524731762).

The Opposition with Jordan Klepper: Ross Douthat, author of To Change the Church: Pope Francis and the Future of Catholicism (Simon & Schuster, $26, 9781501146923).

Late Show with Stephen Colbert: Ali Wentworth, author of Go Ask Ali: Half-Baked Advice (and Free Lemonade) (Harper, $25.99, 9780062466013). She will also appear tomorrow on Good Morning America.

Today Show: Joanna Gaines, co-author of Magnolia Table: A Collection of Recipes for Gathering (Morrow, $29.99, 9780062820150).

Ellen: Jake Tapper, author of The Hellfire Club (Little, Brown, $27, 9780316472319).

The View: Candace Cameron Bure, author of Kind Is the New Classy: The Power of Living Graciously (Zondervan, $24.99, 9780310350026).

Also on the View: Andrew Morton, author of Meghan: A Hollywood Princess (Grand Central, $27, 9781538747353).

Daily Show: Jonah Goldberg, author of Suicide of the West: How the Rebirth of Tribalism, Populism, Nationalism, and Identity Politics Is Destroying American Democracy (Crown Forum, $28, 9781101904930).

Late Show with Stephen Colbert: Ronan Farrow, author of War on Peace: The End of Diplomacy and the Decline of American Influence (Norton, $27.95, 9780393652109). He will also appear on CBS This Morning.

Late Night with Seth Meyers: Sarah Kendzior, author of The View from Flyover Country: Dispatches from the Forgotten America (Flatiron, $12.99, 9781250189998).

Movies: Nancy Drew and the Hidden Staircase

Sophia Lillis (It) will play the title character in Nancy Drew and the Hidden Staircase, based on the popular book series. Deadline reported that the Warner Bros. project, which has Ellen DeGeneres, Jeff Kleeman and Chip Diggins on board to produce, is expected to begin filming soon. Wendy Williams will serve as executive producer.

The Hidden Staircase, initially released in 1930 as the second volume in the Nancy Drew series, was written by Mildred Wirt Benson under the pseudonym Carolyn Keene. WB made a film adaptation of the book in 1939.  

Books & Authors

Awards: Women's Prize for Fiction; Dr. Tony Ryan

The shortlist for the Women's Prize for Fiction, honoring "excellence, originality and accessibility in writing by women throughout the world," is:

The Idiot by Elif Batuman
The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock by Imogen Hermes Gowar
Sight by Jessie Greengrass
When I Hit You: Or, A Portrait of the Writer as a Young Wife by Meena Kandasamy
Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie
Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward


Lynda Sasscer Hill has won the $10,000 Dr. Tony Ryan Book Award, which recognizes "the best book-length work of any genre, with a Thoroughbred racing backdrop," for her mystery novel Flamingo Road (Minotaur Books). The book is the first of a series introducing undercover Thoroughbred Racing Protective Bureau agent Fia McKee. (The second volume in the series, The Dark Side of Town, was published last week.) The author is a former amateur steeplechase jockey who writes under the name Sasscer Hill and has bred, owned, and trained Thoroughbreds in Maryland for more than 30 years.

Lead judge Kay Coyte described Flamingo Road as "a can't-put-it-down book, with snappy dialogue and plenty of twists and turns... Sasscer Hill's evocative storytelling likely comes from her own racing background. But most impressive was her development of the book's unsavory characters, the crooks and charlatans, all of whom sparkle with sharp focus and the urgency of today's crime headlines... It had a great deal of heart and even some comic relief."

Book Review

Review: Tip of the Iceberg: My 3,000-Mile Journey Around Wild Alaska, the Last Great American Frontier

Tip of the Iceberg: My 3,000-Mile Journey Around Wild Alaska, the Last Great American Frontier by Mark Adams (Dutton, $28 hardcover, 336p., 9781101985106, May 15, 2018)

After several years editing magazines like Outside, GQ and National Geographic Adventure, Mark Adams decided that it was do-or-die time for him to take on some actual vagabond travel writing. He chose to re-create the discovery of Machu Picchu, recounted in his popular Turn Right at Machu Picchu (because, as he said in a GQ interview: "Machu Picchu, for travel magazines, is like Megan Fox on the cover of GQ.")

A little closer to home this time, his new history-cum-adventure takes him to Alaska to follow in the footsteps of John Muir et al. on the 1899 scientific expedition financed by railroad tycoon Edward H. Harriman. Tip of the Iceberg is both the amusing travelogue of a city dude rolling his first kayak and a sound history based on Muir's journals, Aleut artifacts, a little geography and geology, and ample quirky statistics.

The hero of Adams's tale is Alaska itself--"essentially a small continent: big enough to hold Texas, California, Montana... and still have room for all of New England, Hawaii, and a couple of metropolises." It is a state whose waterfront accounts for half the coastline of the whole United States. Its acquisition by the United States from Russia in 1867 was tagged "Seward's Folly," but Seward got a raw deal. As Adams demonstrates with wit and insight, it might better be called "Seward's Steal" if measured only in natural beauty.

As Adams makes his way up the Inside Passage a century after the Harriman expedition, he finds the same stunning geography as those early explorers, scientists and naturalists did--what Muir described as "a solitude of ice and snow and newborn rocks, dim, dreary, mysterious," concluding: "We have met with God." Where Muir found tiny Amerindian villages, Adams now sees small towns--including Juneau, where he observes the state capitol building that "might be mistaken for an elementary school... [and] a district courthouse that could pass for the world's largest Arby's."

The state's economy has always been boom-and-bust, in what Adams calls its three gold rushes: first it was stripped of game by fur traders, then came the Yukon gold rush itself and finally the Alaska pipeline tapped its vast oil reserve in Prudhoe Bay. But the latter is running dry. For a state where 90% of the tax revenue comes from oil companies, this is as big a problem as the warming climate that's raising the sea level and shrinking its permafrost. Alaska is running out of money and glaciers.

Fortunately, Adams doesn't wear his advocacy on his sleeve. He is more a raconteur than an activist, more a guide to history and topography than an interpreter of them. An easy-going conversationalist, he chats with a broad cross-section of Alaskans, including his Glacier Bay guide who runs off two threatening brown bears. The "sourdough" guide reminds Adams, "You can be in awe of the beauty, but you have to remember that things can go from 'Ooh, ahh!' to 'Oh, sh*t!' in an instant." That might be as good a summary of Alaska as any. --Bruce Jacobs, founding partner, Watermark Books & Cafe, Wichita, Kan.

Shelf Talker: A seasoned adventure travel writer and editor, Mark Adams re-creates an 1899 expedition to Alaska in his latest informative and entertaining history-cum-travelogue.

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