Shelf Awareness for Thursday, May 3, 2018


Sourcebooks Fire: The Similars by Rebecca Hanover

Forge: Redemption Point (Crimson Lake #2) by Candice Fox

Simon Pulse: Slayer by Kiersten White

HarperCollins: Turbo Racers: Trailblazer by Austin Aslan

Harper Paperbacks: Don't Wake Up by Liz Lawler

DK Publishing: Writers: Their Lives and Works by DK

Quotation of the Day

'Anyone Can Put Books Into a Box'

"We began Reading Bug Box to extend that local store experience to families and communities that don't have a local bookseller, and we put all our knowledge and passion into finding the right books for each child--appealing to a picky reader or an avid one, helping find books for children with learning disabilities, or providing titles that match to a child's interests or life situation. We listen to feedback and adjust our selections, we write personal notes of encouragement to readers, we create games--like Summer Reading Bingo--to encourage children to push their boundaries, and we care deeply about the experience of every child as they unbox their books. Those are the features of our service that make us unique, important and valuable--and they are the features that Amazon's service cannot compare to.

"Anyone can put books into a box and ship them--Amazon, probably better than most--but that's not what books and reading are all about."

--Lauren Savage, co-founder of the Reading Bug, San Carlos, Calif., in a q&a with GeekWire responding to Amazon's recent launch of Prime Book Box

Harper: Late in the Day by Tessa Hadley


News

Bloom Bindery in Middleton, Wis., Opening in June

Bloom Bindery, a cookie bakery, bookstore and coffeehouse, will open June 1 in Middleton, Wis., at the site of the former Bloom Bake Shop, which closed last December. According to the shop's Facebook page, owner Annemarie Maitri is "partnering with our friends at Mystery to Me Bookstore" in Madison whose owner, Joanne Berg, "will bring a curated selection of books that changes monthly, this will include bestsellers, classics, cookbooks and more for retail purchase. Guest author events, weekly story times and monthly book clubs will also be planned."

Maitri noted that the new business was "created from a desire to do even more good in our community. You see, with every cookie purchased, Bloom Bindery will support literacy initiatives in our local community through a percentage of the profits."

She told the Cap Times that a trip to Portland, Ore., after the bake shop closed, and a stop at Powell's Books, brought some clarity to her future plans: "I don't really covet things, but I covet books."


GLOW: Dial Press: Professor Chandra Follows His Bliss by Rajeev Balasubramanyam


New Investment Company Makes First Purchase: Arcadia Publishing

An investor group formed to acquire publishers has made its first purchase: Arcadia Publishing, which was founded in 1994 and specializes in local history and local interest titles.

David Steinberger, formerly CEO of Perseus Books--which he built into a major publisher and distributor mainly through acquisitions--and before that a senior executive at HarperCollins and a Booz Allen strategist, will serve as CEO. Longtime Arcadia CEO Richard Joseph will become senior adviser to Steinberger and an investor in the company.

The new company, called Lezen Acquisition, is owned by brother and sister Michael Lynton and Lili Lynton. (Lezen is Dutch for "to read," a tribute to the Netherlands, where they were raised.) Michael Lynton, chairman of Snap and previously CEO of Sony Entertainment and chairman and CEO of Penguin Group, will serve as Arcadia's non-executive chairman. Lili Lynton co-founded the Dinex Group, which operates 17 Daniel Boulud-branded restaurants, and Telebank, an Internet banking pioneer that was sold to E*Trade and now operates as E*Bank. The Lyntons have long been involved with books and established the J. Anthony Lukas Prize Project. (One of the Project's prizes is the Mark Lynton History Prize, honoring their father.)

David Steinberger

Founded in 1994, Arcadia, in Charleston, S.C., has a backlist of 14,000 books that includes the Images of America series, which  offers histories of hometowns across all 50 states. Arcadia's History Press imprint publishes other local and regional-themed series such as American Palate, which focuses on local food, beer and wine, and Haunted America, which retells stories of famous hauntings. Arcadia publishes 500 new titles of local interest and local history each year and sells its books through a diverse set of retailers.

"We see an overlooked opportunity to create value in the book industry by backing the right management team and building a unique publishing company through a series of targeted acquisitions," said Michael Lynton. "Today represents an important first step on this path."

Steinberger added: "This acquisition brings together all the elements you look for. We have an investor group with vision and resources, and in Arcadia we have a unique and powerful growth platform--the leading publisher of regional, local and hyper-local books."


G.P. Putnam's Sons: The Editor by Steven Rowley


Obituary Note: Steven Marcus

Steven Marcus, a Columbia College professor "who transformed literary criticism into a lens on history and society by revealing a subculture of Victorian pornography and psychoanalyzing characters in Charles Dickens's novels," died April 25, the New York Times reported. He was 89. In academia, "he was most admired as a teacher and mentor. Kate Millett began writing Sexual Politics, her 1970 feminist classic, as her doctoral dissertation under his guidance," the Times noted.

In literary circles, Marcus was respected and sometimes challenged, as an unconventional critic, the Times wrote. His books include Dickens: From Pickwick to Dombey (1965); The Other Victorians: A Study of Sexuality and Pornography in Mid-19th Century England (1966); Freud and the Culture of Psychoanalysis: Studies in the Transition from Victorian Humanism to Modernity (1984); and Representations: Essays on Literature and Society (1976).

Marcus had said that Lionel Trilling, under whom he studied and with whom he collaborated on editing an abridged version of Ernest Jones's three-volume biography of Sigmund Freud, as well as Jacques Barzun influenced him most by pointing him "in the direction I wanted to have in academic life."


G.P. Putnam's Sons: The Bookshop of the Broken Hearted by Robert Hillman


BISG's Annual Meeting, Part 2: Supply Chain and Beyond

The first part of our coverage of the Book Industry Study Group's annual meeting last Friday is here.

Dane Neller, CEO of Shakespeare & Co., New York City, and co-founder of On Demand Books, said for his store, the book supply chain is "great in some areas and is broken in others." For bestsellers and frontlist, it works, getting the books to the store when they're needed. But for many other titles, supply and demand often aren't matched: "Twenty times a day I have to tell a customer I don't have a book and can get it in two or three days." In today's world, where online ordering allows customers to expect instant gratification, that means "I've lost that customer."

Shakespeare & Co.'s Espresso Machine

Shakespeare & Co. has an Espresso Book Machine, but "format and file issues" and unavailability of many titles in digital form for POD has limited its use as a printer of frontlist. However, as "big box stores decline and indies grow, it's a big opportunity for having content POD in stores."

Neller emphasized that despite some supply chain problems, "we're very bullish on the retail market.... There's a renaissance going on in bookselling; it just has to be reengineered."

Joe Matthews, CEO of Independent Publishers Group, noted that IPG has a POD partner, and does POD with Ingram, Baker & Taylor and Amazon--and there are problems having print-ready PDFs work with all of them. He emphasized that publishers in general need to reconsider how they view the costs of printing, because the economics have changed as the backlist potential of titles has changed.

Steve Potash, CEO of Overdrive, which primarily supplies digital books to libraries and other institutions worldwide, outlined his company's enviably high-margin, no-returns business, noting that major growth right now is occurring in education and internationally. "Luckily, we're all dealing in the English language," he said. Potash put in a plug for libraries, which have suffered funding cuts in the U.S. and especially in the U.K. "We need to support libraries for our quality of life," he said.

Eric Green, cofounder of Bibliographic Data Services in the U.K., called consolidation a problem in some areas, noting that the country has just two general book wholesalers. In the library market, which once had 25-30 wholesalers, there are now "two and a half." Besides hurting his margins, this has led to a brain drain from the book business as "tremendously knowledgeable people inevitably lose their jobs and move on."

For IPG's Matthews, there are pros and cons to consolidation. "We used to have a much wider net of regional wholesalers and stores. I feel like we're one of the only ones left." He worries about infrastructure and economies of scale: trucks need to be filled up, for example. On the other hand, "there's less competition, so we get more business." At the same time, many publishers seeking economies of scale are outsourcing warehousing. A benefit of being smaller is being "more nimble, having fewer layers of management, being more reactive."

Metadata is a major concern of many BISG members. Kent Watson, executive director of Publishers Association of the West, noted that "there is no one place to go to fix information." He also observed that "we all want to find out more about our end customers."

Stephen Day, senior v-p, supply chain, global operations at Pearson, offered a general supply chain specialist's view of the eccentricities of the book world supply chain, saying that returns are "an unbelievable cost.... We shove inventory into the channel and get some chunk of it back not knowing why. It's unimaginable to me." He called for the industry as a whole to work solutions for the problems caused by having returns.

Watson said he doubted returns would go away, because "unfortunately it's how the business is built." Digital products have helped the returns situation somewhat, but at the same time another problem has recurred: a shortage of paper is proving costly and disruptive for some publishers.

Peter Balis, v-p, strategy, planning and development at Wiley, advised that blockchain is going to be "a critical piece of the supply chain.... It's coming up in places where you would not expect beyond cryto-currency." He also called for more retailers to be involved in BISG and its efforts, noting that "so much of our business is intermediated today that so many of our intermediaries are proxies for retailers."

Piracy and protection of copyright continue to be major problems for publishers, particularly those selling courseware abroad. Balis warned that there are "so many people in the value chain" abusing copyright. "The reality with DRM is that within 10 minutes [of releasing a product], someone has broken it, and it's all over BitTorrent sites." The matter is urgent because "if we don't properly pay authors royalty for the work they're doing, then we won't have content."

From the audience, Michael Healy, former BISG executive director ("I used to be the vicar of this parish") and now executive director of the Copyright Clearance Center, said that the "greatest threat to the future of the industry and not realizing its potential is the full-frontal assault on copyright." He called for the industry to come together and develop "an arsenal of copyright protection" that includes copyright education and the creation of easy-to-use licensing tools. --John Mutter


Notes

Image of the Day: Village Books, 'Center of Intellectual Life'

Washington State Governor Jay Inslee (left) was a guest of Village Books's Chuckanut Radio Hour last month. Picking up on the show's tongue-in-cheek humor, Inslee told announcer Rich Donnelly: "It is well recognized that the center of intellectual life in the United States is the Chuckanut Radio Hour." Watch the governor's interview, as well as a hilarious conversation between authors Jonathan Evison ("Lawn Boy") and Willy Vlautin ("Don't Skip Out on Me") on Village Books' Facebook page.


Bookstores by & for POC 'Finding Their Industry Niche'

"In their efforts to reclaim literature for people of color and underserved communities," small, independent bookstores are "finding their industry niche," the Washington Post reported in showcasing several indies in the D.C. area.

Angela Spring is the owner of Duende District, a pop-up bookstore that exclusively carries books written by and about people of color. Working out of MahoganyBooks recently, she told the Post: "We're a town full of people of color, full of people from all over, and I think a lot about how we can best serve these communities. There are very few spaces that are not just for white people, and as a person of color, you're taught that that's just the way it is. So with Duende District, I want people of color to come into a space like this--a gorgeous, welcoming, sensory space--and feel like, yes, this is all for you."

Mahogany Books

Owned by Derrick and Ramunda Young, MahoganyBooks "has a complementary mission: to provide books written for, by and about 'people of the African diaspora' to residents of Southeast Washington," the Post wrote. Derrick Young said: "The goal was always to open a brick-and-mortar book store, and once we got into that physical space, we wanted to be there for a long time. We wanted to have a community presence, something that would allow us to do events, that would be a cultural hub where people could really get into what we're trying to build."

As a pop-up store, Duende District "takes the idea of building and finding community a step further by occupying space in multiple neighborhoods throughout the Washington area," the Post wrote, noting that in Toli Moli, a South Asian bodega at Union Market, Spring's Duende District "has a shelf of books that center on the Asian diaspora: children's books, cookbooks, coffee-table reads."

Simone Jacobson, co-owner of Toli Moli, said, "It's a point of pride for me, especially the children's books, because when I was a child--my mom is from Burma and my dad is a white guy from Pittsburgh--the only book I had that even remotely resembled me or my family was a book about a Hawaiian princess. What is your sense of belonging if none of the characters you're exposed to in books, in media, in your everyday life reflect you?"

Over the past two years, D.C. "has experienced something of a bookstore renaissance," with new shops opening in most of the city's wards, including East City Bookshop on Capitol Hill; Solid State Books in the H Street corridor in Northeast Washington; and Walls of Books in Parkview. In addition, long-established Politics & Prose has opened one branch at the Wharf and will soon open another at Union Market.

Walls of Books co-owner said Pablo Sierra observed: "I think people of color, because we don't learn our own histories in the same way in school or in a lot of mainstream media, we have this hunger to understand ourselves and to understand what's going on, our histories, our place in the world."

Spring added: "Books are so important, and book culture is so important, but for so long in this country it has been the providence of white people--they were the gatekeepers. Think about all these communities here that are not white, affluent or centered around the federal government. That's the real city. That's who we're here for."


LSC Expands Services for Workman

Workman Publishing is expanding its relationship with LSC Communications, which was spun off from R.R. Donnelly & Sons in 2016. In addition to Workman continuing to have printing, warehousing, fulfillment and distribution services handled by LSC, it will also become part of LSC's digital content management platform Harvest and will use LSC's order-to-cash services, which include order and credit management, invoicing, cash application, dispute resolution, and sales and inventory analysis reporting.

Since 1973, LSC (originally through Banta/R.R. Donnelley) has been Workman's largest print vendor. In 1978, it also became Workman's warehousing and distribution partner.


Personnel Changes at Sourcebooks; Viking and Penguin Books

Kaitlyn Kennedy has joined Sourcebooks as director of marketing for Landmark. She was previously a publicity manager at HarperCollins.

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At Viking and Penguin Books:

Rebecca Marsh has been promoted to assistant director of publicity.
 
Chris Smith has been promoted to senior publicist.
 
Brianna Linden has been promoted to publicist.



Media and Movies

Media Heat: Louie Anderson on The Doctors

Today:
Hallmark Channel's Home & Family: Melissa Coleman, author of The Minimalist Kitchen: 100 Wholesome Recipes, Essential Tools, and Efficient Techniques (Oxmoor House, $29.99, 9780848755263).

Tomorrow:
The Doctors: Louie Anderson, author of Hey Mom: Stories for My Mother, But You Can Read Them Too (Touchstone, $26, 9781501189173).


This Weekend on Book TV: The Unbound Book Festival

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, May 5
12:45 p.m. George C. Daughan, author of Lexington and Concord: The Battle Heard Round the World (Norton, $27.95, 9780393245745). (Re-airs Sunday at 9:30 p.m.)

1:30 p.m. A discussion on the #MeToo movement with Jami Attenberg, author of All Grown Up (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $25, 9780544824249), Camille Dungy, author of Guidebook to Relative Strangers (Norton, $25.95, 9780393253757), Melissa Febos, author of Abandon Me (Bloomsbury, $17, 9781632866585), and Cathi Hanauer, author of The Bitch Is Back (Morrow, $15.99, 9780062389527), at the Unbound Book Festival in Columbia, Mo. (Re-airs Sunday at 12:45 a.m.)

2:43 p.m. A discussion on the First Amendment with Lucas Morel, author of Lincoln and Liberty (University Press of Kentucky, $40, 9780813151014), David Von Drehle, author of Rise to Greatness: Abraham Lincoln and America's Most Perilous Year (Picador, $22, 9781250037800), and Lee Wilkins, author of Media Ethics (McGraw-Hill, $97, 9780073526249), at the Unbound Book Festival. (Re-airs Sunday at 1:58 a.m.)

3:54 p.m. A discussion on writing historical fiction with Christina Baker Kline, author of A Piece of the World (Morrow, $16.99, 9780062356277), Therese Anne Fowler, author of A Well-Behaved Woman (St. Martin's Press, $27.99, 9781250095473), and Martin Seay, author of The Mirror Thief (Melville House, $17.99, 9781612195599), at the Unbound Book Festival. (Re-airs Sunday at 3:09 a.m.)

5:15 p.m. Brittany Cooper, author of Eloquent Rage: A Black Feminist Discovers Her Superpower (St. Martin's Press, $25.99, 9781250112576), at Red Emma's Bookstore Coffeehouse in Baltimore, Md.

9 p.m. Joseph Tartakovsky, author of The Lives of the Constitution: Ten Exceptional Minds that Shaped America's Supreme Law (Encounter, $25.99, 9781594039850). (Re-airs Sunday at 3:45 p.m.)

10 p.m. Chris Hughes, author of Fair Shot: Rethinking Inequality and How We Earn (St. Martin's Press, $19.99, 9781250196590). (Re-airs Sunday at 9 p.m. and Sunday at 3 a.m.)

Sunday, May 6
12 p.m. Live In-Depth q&a with David Baldacci, author, most recently, of The Fallen (Grand Central, $29, 9781538761397). (Re-airs Monday at 12 a.m.)

4:45 p.m. Jonathan Jarvis, author of The Future of Conservation in America: A Chart for Rough Water (University of Chicago Press, $14, 9780226542058).

6:15 p.m. Ronan Farrow, author of War on Peace: The End of Diplomacy and the Decline of American Influence (Norton, $27.95, 9780393652109).

10 p.m. Eileen McNamara, author of Eunice: The Kennedy Who Changed the World (Simon & Schuster, $28, 9781451642261), at Politics & Prose in Washington, D.C.

11 p.m. Michael Gazzaniga, author of The Consciousness Instinct: Unraveling the Mystery of How the Brain Makes the Mind (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $28, 9780374715502).


Books & Authors

Awards: Geoge Washington; Ruth Lilly Poetry; Christian Book; Arthur C. Clarke

Kevin J. Hayes has won the $50,000 George Washington Prize, recognizing the best new books about "the nation's founding era," for George Washington: A Life in Books (Oxford University Press).

The prize organizers, including George Washington's Mount Vernon, the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History and Washington College, called George Washington: A Life in Books "an intellectual biography of Washington that should permanently dispel popular misconceptions of America's leading Founding Father as a man of all action and no ideas. Washington scholars have long known that he owned an impressive library of more than 1,300 volumes. Hayes has gone further by meticulously paging through Washington's surviving books held at the Boston Athenaeum, the Washington Library at Mount Vernon, and other collections, as well as nearly 900 pages of Washington's notes on his reading, to create a portrait of him as a reader. By closely examining Washington's notes, Hayes has uncovered an intellectual curiosity that dozens of previous biographers have missed. As a young man, Washington read popular serials such as Gentleman's Magazine and The Spectator, which helps to bridge the long-imagined gap between him and his learned contemporaries like Franklin, Jefferson, and Adams."

Hayes will receive the award on May 23 at a gala at Mount Vernon.

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Martín Espada has won the $100,000 Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, which honors "a living U.S. poet for outstanding lifetime achievement." The award is sponsored and administered by the Poetry Foundation, publisher of Poetry magazine, and will be presented June 11 at a ceremony at the Poetry Foundation. Espada is, the Poetry Foundation said, the first Latino poet to win the award, which was founded in 1986.

Don Share, editor of Poetry magazine, said, "Martín Espada's work and life tell the real and lived story of America, in which the importance of poems and legal rights go hand in hand. A tenants' rights attorney before he became a celebrated and cherished poet, Espada's passions are as compelling and apt as his precisions--both now more timely than ever."

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Sponsored by the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association, the 2018 Christian Book Awards includes winners in 11 categories as well as Christian Book of the Year, which went to Jesus Always by Sarah Young (Thomas Nelson). The winners can be seen here.

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The shortlist for the 2018 Arthur C. Clarke Award, given to the best science fiction novel of the year, appears below. The winner will be announced on July 18 at the Foyles flagship bookshop in London and receive £2018 (about $2,740).

Sea of Rust by C. Robert Cargill
Dreams Before the Start of Time by Anne Charnock
American War by Omar El Akkad
Spaceman of Bohemia by Jaroslav Kalfař
Gather the Daughters by Jennie Melamed
Borne by Jeff VanderMeer


Attainment: New Titles Out Next Week

Selected new titles appearing next Tuesday, May 8:

Warlight: A Novel by Michael Ondaatje (Knopf, $26.95, 9780525521198) follows two teenagers left to live with a mysterious stranger in post-World War II London.

Trump/Russia: A Definitive History by Seth Hettena (Melville House, $27.99, 9781612197395) is a former Associated Press reporter's chronicle of Trump's decades-old ties with Russia.

From Cold War to Hot Peace: An American Ambassador in Putin's Russia by Michael McFaul (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $30, 9780544716247) is an account of U.S.-Russia relations from a former ambassador.

Paul Simon: The Life by Robert Hilburn (Simon & Schuster, $30, 9781501112126) is a biography of half of Simon & Garfunkel.

Our Towns: A 100,000-Mile Journey into the Heart of America by James Fallows and Deborah Fallows (Pantheon, $28.95, 9781101871843) chronicles a five-year trip to interview a range of Americans.

Tyrant: Shakespeare on Politics by Stephen Greenblatt (Norton, $21.95, 9780393635751) explores how the Bard depicts bad governance.

The High Tide Club: A Novel by Mary Kay Andrews (St. Martin's Press, $27.99, 9781250126061) follows a lawyer mysteriously summoned to the beachfront estate of an elderly heiress.

Our Kind of Cruelty: A Novel by Araminta Hall (MCD, $26, 9780374228194) is a psychological thriller about a stalker.

Lost Empress: A Novel by Sergio De La Pava (Pantheon, $29.95, 9781524747220) weaves together a cast of characters in professional sports and the criminal justice system.

Love and Luck by Jenna Evans Welch (Simon Pulse, $18.99, 9781534401006) finds teen siblings making amends as they take a road trip around Ireland.

The Girl and the Grove by Eric Smith (Flux, $11.99, 9781635830187) follows an adopted teen who hears voices calling her to a nearby park.

Paperback:
Sing, Unburied, Sing: A Novel by Jesmyn Ward (Scribner, $17, 9781501126079).


IndieBound: Other Indie Favorites

From last week's Indie bestseller lists, available at IndieBound.org, here are the recommended titles, which are also Indie Next Great Reads:

Hardcover
And Now We Have Everything: On Motherhood Before I Was Ready by Meaghan O'Connell (Little, Brown, $26, 9780316393843). "Times have changed, women have changed, and, naturally, the experience of young(ish) motherhood has changed as well. I often tell people that becoming a mother was equal parts wonderful and abysmally dark and get blank stares, but here it is: a tale like mine, articulated with clarity and wit! I'm excited to be able to recommend this honest and relatable account of modern pregnancy and motherhood." --Cristina Russell, Books & Books, Coral Gables, Fla.

Country Dark: A Novel by Chris Offutt (Grove Press, $24, 9780802127792). "Country Dark spans 1954 to 1971, opening with Tucker's return home from the Korean War, where he had special training in killing other men, to rural Kentucky near the Ohio border, where he takes up a job as a driver in a bootlegging operation. Tucker is devoted to his rural home life and to his young wife and children, and once their way of life is threatened, he understands he may have to employ his wartime skills to keep it together. Chris Offutt's new novel is almost impossible not to race through, but it also must be savored for its artful but unpretentious phrasing, and for its many surprises, which we won't talk about here." --Richard Howorth, Square Books, Oxford, Miss.

Paperback
Chemistry: A Novel by Weike Wang (Vintage, $16, 9780525432227). "The unnamed narrator of Wang's winning and insightful novel is working on her Ph.D. in synthetic organic chemistry, but the chemistry she really needs to learn is the one that makes relationships click. The prodigy daughter of high-achieving Chinese American parents, she's always strived to meet their demanding expectations. Then, suddenly, she just can't. Her lab work falters. She's unable to accept or decline her boyfriend's marriage proposal. But when she has a breakdown and loses in both academia and in love, she finally realizes how angry she is. Coming to terms with her past becomes her next project, and soon she can see her parents in a new light--and they aren't the fierce tiger couple they’d always seemed to be." --Laurie Greer, Politics & Prose Bookstore, Washington, D.C.

For Ages 4 to 8
All the Animals Where I Live by Philip C. Stead (Roaring Brook Press, $18.99, 9781626726567). "All the Animals Where I Live is a meditative, meandering picture book journey that exalts in the smallest details. Stead's welcoming voice and innovative illustrations are as delightful and gentle as ever." --Hannah DeCamp, Avid Bookshop, Athens, Ga.

For Ages 9 to 12: An Indies Introduce Title
Hurricane Child by Kheryn Callender (Scholastic Press, $17.99, 9781338129304). "Being a hurricane child myself, I instantly connected with Caroline and her bad luck. Caroline is used to being the outsider who can see ghosts, but she can't accept that her mom left her one day and never came back. When a new, charismatic girl who may see ghosts, too, starts at her school, Caroline desperately wants to befriend her. Soon the two are inseparable, and together they search for Caroline's mother. This wonderful, mystical tale takes the reader on a journey filled with grief and loss but also love, friendship, and hope." --Holly Alexander, Magic Tree Bookstore, Oak Park, Ill.

For Teen Readers
Orphan Monster Spy by Matt Killeen (Viking, $18.99, 9780451478733). "I opened this book at 9:00 a.m. and closed it at 4:15 p.m. after turning the last page. At times, I felt like my eyeballs just couldn't move as fast as I wanted to be reading. As much of a page-turner as this is, it also delivers a real sense of history and an empowered and empowering 15-year-old heroine who has suffered yet never gives in to fear or hopelessness. It's like Harry Potter meets James Bond in Nazi Germany, starring a Jewish orphan who just keeps kicking butt." --Nina Barrett, Bookends & Beginnings, Evanston, Ill.

[Many thanks to IndieBound and the ABA!]


Book Review

Review: Tesla: Inventor of the Modern

Tesla: Inventor of the Modern by Richard Munson (W.W. Norton, $26.95 hardcover, 320p., 9780393635447, May 22, 2018)

It's not unusual to find electrical engineers and inventors skewed to the fringe edge of the weirdness spectrum, but Nikola Tesla was in a class all his own, as represented in Richard Munson's illustrated biography, Tesla: Inventor of the Modern. He was a Croatian-born ethnic Serbian immigrant who stood six-foot-two, weighed 140 pounds, dressed to the nines, spoke eight languages, slept only three hours a day, memorized and wrote poetry, filed 300 patents and mesmerized Wall Street investor audiences with crackling Jedi-like light tubes arcing between eight-foot electrically charged plates. He was like an uber-nerd forerunner of Elon Musk--the charismatic entrepreneur who named his car company after Tesla. On the other hand, Tesla was also a celibate germaphobe, a superstitious numerologist and a lousy businessman who died broke at age 86, in the New Yorker Hotel.

More than just a biography of this strange genius, however, Munson's Tesla is a history of the nascent electric power industry and men like Thomas Edison, George Westinghouse and Guglielmo Marconi, who competed with Tesla to bring the miracle of electricity to the masses. Under license to Westinghouse, Tesla's "alternating current" generator converted the electricity market from Edison's "direct current" limited access system to the ubiquitous power grid in place today.

Thanks to Tesla's genius, the world had the infrastructure to build mass manufacturing operations, global communication networks and massive power plants. At his peak, he engineered the complete electrical system for Chicago's 1893 "White City" Columbian Exposition, and consulted on the design of the mammoth Niagara Falls generators. He erected towers in Colorado and on Long Island to experiment with wireless power transmission, and even built an "electro-mechanical oscillator" to transmit electricity through the earth's natural resonance--until the NYPD shut him down after his lab neighbors complained about earthquakes.

A Midwest businessman and energy wonk, Munson (From Edison to Enron) taps a variety of primary sources, industry trade literature and Tesla's autobiography, My Inventions, to flesh out this enigmatic inventor and contrarian thinker. Munson lets us peek into the drama and nuance of Tesla's world--from his early years with his domineering Orthodox Catholic priest father and literal "homemaker" mother, to the fancy Murray Hill salon dinners of socialites Katharine and Robert Johnson and ultimately to his lonely death in a cluttered Midtown hotel room. An inventor's inventor, Tesla never managed to leverage his genius into the wealth that Edison did. Rather than occupying prime real estate in the Smithsonian like Edison, Tesla's fame may ride into the future on the wheels of Musk's transformative Tesla automobile. --Bruce Jacobs, founding partner, Watermark Books & Cafe, Wichita, Kan.

Shelf Talker: Rich in historical and personal detail, Tesla tells the extraordinary story of the eccentric and enigmatic inventor whose genius transformed the global power industry.


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