Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, May 9, 2018


Carolrhoda Books: The Manic Pixie Dream Boy Improvement Project by Lenore Appelhans

Grove Press: Solitary by Albert Woodfox

Tor Teen: Dark of the West (Glass Alliance #1) by Joanna Hathaway

Blizzard Entertainment: How to Reach 100 Million Fans!

News

MIT Press Bookstore Expanding to New Genres, New Community

In 2016, the MIT Press Bookstore moved from its long-time home on the Massachusetts Institute of Technology campus in Boston, Mass., to a new, larger space in a different Boston neighborhood. The move isn't permanent--the bookstore is scheduled to move back on campus to a newly renovated building on Kendall Square in 2022--but the bookstore has nevertheless taken the opportunity to expand not only its selection of books, with new genres as well as books for younger age groups, but also its events program.

The changes, explained MIT Press sales manager David Goldberg, go hand-in-hand with changes on the publishing side of the business: slowly but surely the press has been publishing a wider array of work, both nonfiction and fiction.

"It made sense for the bookstore to take on new categories and new disciplines," said Goldberg. "And we talked about expanding our publishing to make it as inter-generational as it is international."

One of the biggest changes made by the MIT Press Bookstore since the move to 301 Massachusetts Avenue has been the inclusion of a children's section. Goldberg said that by design, all of the bookstore's sections are meant to look different from what might be found in a general-interest independent bookstore, and the children's section is no exception. There are no fiction books to be found. Rather, the focus is on nonfiction, STEAM subjects, DIY projects and other things "really meant to broaden children's minds and imaginations."

"Development of a really unique children's book section is critical for us," remarked Goldberg.

MIT Press has handled distribution for a number of smaller imprints, including publishers like Zone Books and Semiotext(e), for years, and until very recently the only fiction carried in the MIT Press Bookstore was fiction published by its various distribution clients. Now, the store is branching out into carrying more fiction that is "relevant to the press and its customers." This also roughly coincides with MIT Press publishing its own science fiction for the first time. In addition to science fiction, the bookstore has a burgeoning selection of literature and poetry, much of that driven by staff members who have a personal interest in those subjects.

When it comes to the bookstore's expanding events program, Goldberg said that they are trying to "build a program that supports your books as a publisher and your community as a bookseller." He also noted that MIT Press is "very mindful of our neighbors at other bookstores," and often does book events with MIT authors at nearby indies like Harvard Book Store or Porter Square Books. The goal for events held at MIT Press Bookstore, he continued, is to make them seem like "the best graduate seminar or the best conference you ever attended," with a focus on vigorous q&as, panels and conversations.

Goldberg also pointed to the bookstore's Espresso Book Machine as something that the bookstore staff plan to use to a much greater extent. Ideally, he said, the Espresso could be used to publish books by community members as well as rediscovered MIT classics on demand. Recalled Goldberg: "My challenge to the store was to say, 'what's going to be our top-selling self-published book in store?' "

While many changes have come to the MIT Press Bookstore within the last two to three years, Goldberg stressed that it all really lies with manager John Jenkins, who has managed the store since the mid-1990s. It was in the '90s that the store first started selling titles not published by MIT Press, and he has guided the store since.

MIT Press has also become increasingly engaged with the American Booksellers Association as both a publisher and a bookstore. Last year the store hosted a New England Independent Booksellers Association event that brought New England indie booksellers to the store to meet MIT Press editors. Two bookstore staff members, including floor supervisor Jeremy Solomons, helped spearhead Boston Independent Bookstore Day, which was the store's best sales day of the year and brought in a large number of first-time customers.

And as much as the MIT Press Bookstore is learning from other indies, Goldberg says he hopes that ABA and NEIBA members will learn some things from them, particularly where it comes to displaying, promoting and selling nonfiction books on subjects like game studies, neuroscience and digital culture.

"I like to think of our store as not just an embassy for people interested in MIT and art and design," said Goldberg, "but also as a laboratory for how other bookstores can do an even better job connecting with and invigorating their customers." --Alex Mutter


Rare Bird Books, a Vireo Book: The Crown Lord by William Sirls


Lonely Planet CEO Departs, Company May Be for Sale

Lonely Planet CEO Daniel Houghton has left the travel publisher and its parent company, NC2, is considering selling Lonely Planet, the Bookseller reported, citing Skift, a travel website.

NC2 confirmed that Houghton had departed, "in order to take on a new CEO role at another digital company." It added: "We'd like to thank [Houghton] for everything he did at Lonely Planet over the last five years and it's a testament to his leadership and dedication that Lonely Planet is in the strong position it is today as one of the world's leading travel brands. The rest of Lonely Planet's leadership team remains in place and will be continuing with business as usual."

Daniel Houghton

NC2 did not, however, comment on whether NC2 wants to sell Lonely Planet.

NC2 bought Lonely Planet in 2013 from BBC Worldwide for £51.5 million (about $77.1 million at the time). With headquarters in Nashville, Tenn., NC2 is a digital media company owned by Brad Kelley, a businessman who made a fortune in tobacco and then turned to real estate and digital media. According to Skift, in the past five years Lonely Planet's print market share in travel has increased.

Lonely Planet was founded in 1973 by Tony and Maureen Wheeler.


Graywolf Press: Notes from No Man's Land: American Essays by Eula Biss


U.K.'s BA Hires Head of Campaigns, Last Piece of Reorganization

Emma Bradshaw

Effective July 16, Emma Bradshaw is joining the Booksellers Association of the U.K. and Ireland as head of campaigns, a new position, and will work on Books Are My Bag, Independent Bookshop Week, World Book Day, Academic Book Week and the BA Christmas Catalogue and more, the Bookseller reported.

The new role was created following the reorganization of the Booksellers Association earlier this year, when longtime CEO Tim Godfray became executive chair of the BA Group, a new position, and Meryl Halls, head of membership services, became managing director of the BA, also a new position.

Bradshaw has worked at Bloomsbury Children's Books for 10 years, most recently as senior publicity manager. She began her career in 2002 as a bookseller at Ottaker's before joining the publicity department at HarperCollins Children's Books in 2005.

Bradshaw commented: "Playing a part in ensuring the longevity of our thriving and individual high streets is incredibly important to me. We're very lucky to have so many knowledgeable and innovative booksellers in the U.K. and Ireland, many of whom I am fortunate enough to have worked with as a publicist. I can't wait to work with them more closely on the BA's range of wonderful campaigns."


GLOW: Henry Holt & Company: Trust Exercise by Susan Choi


East Bay Booksellers: An 'Experiment in Store Transition'

"Some people still come in and say 'thank you for saving the store,' but I didn't save anything," said Brad Johnson, owner of East Bay Booksellers in Oakland, Calif., laughing. On September 1, 2017, he officially took over the Oakland branch of DIESEL, a bookstore from original owners Alison Reid and John Evans, and renamed it East Bay Booksellers. "It wasn't a financial decision, it wasn't a matter of DIESEL being under threat," Johnson continued. "It was more of a proactive sort of thing. A kind of experiment in store transition."

That transition began in the summer of 2016, when Reid and Evans asked Johnson, who was the current manager and had been there for about four years, to stay behind after a staff meeting. They inquired if Johnson would be interested in purchasing the store from them. When he asked why they were thinking of him as a successor, Johnson recalled, they explained that it was his "identification" with the role of being a bookseller and the way he treated it as a vocation. "They just kind of liked my style," said Johnson. "Bookselling wasn't something I was ever looking to leave."

Story time with Brad Johnson

Once Johnson said he was interested, the big concern was obtaining funding. He, Evans and Reid agreed that they wanted to go about fundraising in such a way that as few people as possible thought the store was in trouble, and they decided that if, as time passed, it became clear that Johnson wasn't going to come up with the money, nothing would change and the store would continue as if nothing had happened. "It would be a blow to the ego," Johnson remarked, "but it would be fine."

But before Johnson formally began fundraising, he started additional training with Reid and Evans, almost as soon as he said he wanted to buy the store from them. He began participating in buying with the co-owners, meeting with more reps and spending time "digging into" profit-and-loss reports. DIESEL's event coordinator started checking in with Johnson more often and, as the months progressed, he started traveling to the DIESEL store in Brentwood to get a handle on the financial side of the business.

Johnson explained that nothing really proved to be a "complete shock" to him during this time, in large part because of Evans and Reid's philosophy that everybody in their stores does a little bit of everything. It wasn't as involved as being an owner, of course, but even when he was a frontline bookseller, "nothing was off limits in terms of what you wanted to do." It also helped immensely, Johnson added, that when they first started preparing, they didn't have a deadline for the transition.

"The best thing about how we went about this is that we had no deadline, until we actually created it for ourselves," he said. The ability to simply "grow into things," he continued, is a big reason why the transition was "so seamless."

In November 2016, Johnson, Reid and Evans held an event at DIESEL to announce the plans for the succession. The community meeting attracted about 60 people and, according to Johnson, felt "almost like a town hall." He, Evans and Reid spoke for a little while, making their plans known and trying to get the point across that this was not a "closure event" or a plea for help.

By January 2017, Johnson had formally begun fundraising, and compared to the previous six months or so, there was suddenly a deadline--"once the money was there, we had to catch up to this avalanche we created." In terms of financing, Johnson said he wanted to stick to a model like the one the owners of Greenlight Bookstore in Brooklyn, N.Y., have used for their two stores, which involved start-up loans from community members.

Over the next months, through a combination of community loans, traditional bank loans, a successful Kickstarter campaign and more, Johnson secured the funding. He noted that around 80% of the people who ended up giving loans had been present at the "town hall" meeting in November.

Johnson said that the largest change made since the transition--going from DIESEL to East Bay Booksellers--was more of a practical change than anything else. Had there been only a single DIESEL store, he explained, he likely would've kept the name. And as far as other changes he's made, most of them have been fairly minor, including some involving signage and other aesthetic tweaks. Looking ahead, he wants to bring more of his booksellers into the buying process and be "more aggressive" about getting other staff members to go through catalogues.

"I wanted any changes that happen to be pretty organic," he said. "I kind of intentionally didn't want to come in and do everything differently." --Alex Mutter


Bloomsbury: A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer


Obituary Note: Edwin G. Burrows

Edwin G. Burrows, "a Brooklyn College professor who shared the Pulitzer Prize for the magisterial narrative Gotham: A History of New York City to 1898," died May 4, the New York Times reported. He was 74. In addition to teaching at Brooklyn College for 41 years, Burrows was also the author of Forgotten Patriots: The Untold Story of American Prisoners During the Revolutionary War (2008) and The Finest Building in America: The New York Crystal Palace, 1853-1858 (2018).

In 1999, Burrows and Mike Wallace, a fellow professor at the City University of New York, won the Pulitzer Prize for history for Gotham, "which was instantly acclaimed a definitive, populist and novelistic account of the city's first three centuries," the Times noted.

"The history of the city provides a framework for grasping the whole of the American experience," Burrows said in a 2012 interview with the blog The Junto. "You really can't say that about any other place in the country.... Careerwise, New York City has given me so many fascinating subjects for historical research as well as an unequaled array of libraries and archives. The only downside is that colleagues in other fields get to travel to exotic places like Paris or Cairo. Me. I get to ride the subway."

"Ted fashioned a masterful synthesis of New York's colonial and revolutionary history, webbing together a generation's worth of economic, political, social and cultural studies, into an engaging and mellifluous narrative, hailed by scholars and citizens alike," said Wallace, who last year released his own sequel, Greater Gotham: A History of New York City from 1898 to 1919.


Melville House Publishing: Dead Men's Trousers by Irvine Welsh


Notes

Image of the Day: Binc Supports Comic Book Stores

The Binc board of directors met recently in Ann Arbor, Mich., and stopped in to visit comic book store Vault of Midnight. Binc is working to make sure comic booksellers know the organization supports them, too.

Pictured, left to right, are: (back) Lori Tucker-Sullivan, Mary Richards, Julia Cowlishaw, Annie Philbrick, Jen Reynolds, Matthew Gildea, Christie Roehl, Ken White, Chuck Robinson; (front) Kate McCune, Anne Kubek, Deb Leonard, Rockelle Henderson, Wanda Jewell. (photo:Kristen Freshley)


Eight Cousins Honored as Small Business Owner of the Year

Congratulations to Eight Cousins bookstore in Falmouth, Mass., which will be honored tomorrow by Cape Cod & the Islands SCORE as the Small Business Owner of the Year, the Cape Cod Times wrote. SCORE Association is a partner with the Small Business Administration that connects retired business professionals with small businesspeople.

Sara Hines, Eileen Miskell and Mary Fran Buckley bought Eight Cousins in 2015. Hines in particular worked closely with SCORE counselors during the process and talked about it at Winter Institute 2017, saying that the counselors help in a range of areas, including finance, expansion, marketing and corporate structure. Her counselors were invaluable, she said, in assisting with loan applications, making recommendations and helping her avoid useless effort. One counselor told her which bank was likely to consider the future owners' proposal, "so I tailored my proposal to her, which saved a lot of work for me."

She continues to meet with counselors, and told the Cape Cod Times, "I am just not going to stop going to them until they tell me I have to. It's a fantastic service."

Of course, she had occasion this year to use the counselors' advice for an unusual problem: in January, a flood from a broken pipe in the ceiling wrecked the store. Hines and her partners rebuilt the space and reopened last month.


Happy 20th Birthday, Village Booksmith!

Congratulations to the Village Booksmith, Baraboo, Wis., which celebrated its 20th anniversary yesterday. The News Republic reported that the downtown bookstore "is a marketplace of publications and ideas, dealing in bestsellers, magazines, rare books and divergent points of view."

"I like the philosophy that the store represents," said owner Rob Nelson. "That tends to bring in a diverse group of people that make it a fun place to be."

Annie Randall founded the Oak Street bookshop in 1998 and Nelson, who took over in January 2017 after Randall's death, "has carried on her vision of a store that doubles as a community center," the News Republic wrote, adding that "the store filled another niche after Book World closed on Third Street. Nelson has added new releases and magazines to accommodate customers."

"I think it's important for people to have access to that," Nelson said, adding that he is also "always on the lookout for more event opportunities. Having more opportunities for arts and culture benefits everybody."

Lacey Steffes, v-p of Downtown Baraboo Inc., described Village Booksmith as a "staple of the downtown." She credited founder Randall for using events to develop customers and create community two decades ago. "I think she was kind of ahead of her time. All the merchants are very grateful Rob has picked up the torch."


Media and Movies

Media Heat: Mayim Bialik on the Talk

Tomorrow:
Harry: JJ Johnson, author of Between Harlem and Heaven: Afro-Asian-American Cooking for Big Nights, Weeknights, and Every Day (Flatiron, $37.50, 9781250108715).

The Talk: Mayim Bialik, author of Boying Up: How to Be Brave, Bold and Brilliant (Philomel, $18.99, 9780525515975). She will also appear on Live with Kelly and Ryan.


TV: The Who Was? Show

The Who Was? Show, based on the New York Times bestselling biography series for children, will debut on Netflix May 11. Haley Tju, Adam Hochstetter, Kirrilee Berger star in the live-action comedy show that tells the stories of famous historical figures from across the globe through improv, sketches, impersonations, music videos and animated shorts.

The Who Was? book series--along with spin-offs Where Is? and What Was?--has more than 35 million copies in print worldwide. Francesco Sedita, president & publisher of Penguin Workshop, is an executive producer of the TV project.



Books & Authors

Awards: Rathbones Folio Winner; Wolff Translation Winner; Deborah Rogers Shortlist

Richard Lloyd Parry won the £20,000 (about $27,085) Rathbones Folio Prize, which honors "the best work of literature of the year, regardless of form," for Ghosts of the Tsunami: Death and Life in Japan's Disaster Zone.

The judges said: "From a shortlist of eight powerful, moving, important books, we have selected Ghosts of the Tsunami by Richard Lloyd Parry as our winner. It is a piece of heightened reportage about the 2011 Japanese earthquake and its devastating aftermaths, rendered as great literature. It is both harrowing and inspiring. Here is a book which not only interprets for a non-Japanese reader the subtleties and complexities of that nation's life, especially its family life and how it copes with grief, but also has the depth and reach to close the gaps between other nations, other cultures. Read it and you will be changed for the better."

---

Isabel Fargo Cole has won the $10,000 Helen & Kurt Wolff Translator's Prize for her translation of Old Rendering Plant by Wolfgang Hilbig (Two Lines Press).

The jury commented: "Hilbig, who grew up in the German Democratic Republic and later moved to the West, has his narrator reflect on dark childhood memories over one extended monologue. While the text itself is brief, the challenges of rendering this Rendering are daunting. Isabel Fargo Cole's superb translation rises to the myriad challenges with stylistic pyrotechnics: alliterations and assonances, wordplay of all kinds, and inventive phrasings that capture the text's lyrical and sensual qualities."

Born in the U.S. and living in Berlin, Isabel Fargo Cole is a writer and translator whose translations include Boys and Murderers by Hermann Ungar (Twisted Spoon Press, 2006), All the Roads Are Open by Annemarie Schwarzenbach (Seagull Books, 2011)and several books by Wolfgang Hilbig, including The Tidings of the Trees (Two Lines Press), which appears on June 12. In 2013, she received a PEN/Heim Translation Grant to translate Franz Fühmann's At the Burning Abyss, and her translation of Fühmann's The Jew Car was shortlisted for the Oxford-Weidenfeld Prize.

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A "varied and hugely interesting" shortlist has been released for the £10,000 (about $13,525) Deborah Rogers Writers' Award, which recognizes "a first-time writer whose work demonstrates literary talent but who needs support to complete their first book," the Bookseller reported. The winner will be announced May 16 in London This year's shortlisted authors are:

Dima Alzayat for Daughters of Manat & Other Stories
Deepa Anappara for Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line
Chris Connolly for The Speed of Light and How It Cannot Help Us


Reading with... L.L. Barkat

L.L. Barkat is the founder and managing editor of Tweetspeak Poetry. She has contributed articles on books, parenting and education to the Huffington Post, is a freelance writer for Edutopia and is the author of six books for adults, including Rumors of Water: Thoughts on Creativity & Writing. Her children's titles include A Is for Azure: The Alphabet in Colors and a learn-to-read series that features cute chickens. Barkat's poetry has appeared in VQR, The Best American Poetry and on NPR. Her new work for children, The Golden Dress (TS Poetry), is available May 15, 2018.

On your nightstand now:

Everything Neil Gaiman. (I'm late to the party. What began with The View from the Cheap Seats has led to a long string of titles. I'll let you know when I come to the end of them.)

Good Bones--poetry by Maggie Smith.

And, can we count titles that have been on my nightstand for a year? I tend to read in two distinct ways: book-in-a-day and book-in-an-endless-timeframe.

Two endless-timeframe books I love and am reading aloud to my adult daughters when the mood hits: Eric Weiner's The Geography of Genius, which explores the question of how the most creative societies have become the most creative societies and Aja Raden's Stoned: Jewelry, Obsession, and How Desire Shapes the World, which I think might be self-explanatory.

Favorite book when you were a child:

When I was quite young, Ant and Bee. How intrepid they were! And how I wished I could be on the ship with them--the ship that floated on a line-art sea.

After that, the Chronicles of Narnia. They were the first books I stayed up far too late to read.

Your top five authors:

So many angles from which to answer this. I'll choose authors who make me want to be a better writer:

  1. Rebecca Solnit for her way of organizing disparate material and making something fascinating of it.
  2. Laurie Klein, poet, for her absolute way with words.
  3. Neil Gaiman for his endless willingness to turn an idea on its head.
  4. Bill Bryson for his comic vision, even if it's just about a walk in the woods.
  5. Aja Raden for her ability to turn history and economics into stories that rival a Harlequin romance (but with better vocabulary and fewer bedroom scenes).

Book you've faked reading:

Hmmm. I don't believe I've ever faked reading a book. I know what I like, and I don't apologize for what I don't like. So, yes, I willingly told the world I could not slog through Moby-Dick, War and Peace and Tess of the d'Urbervilles.

Book you're an evangelist for:

Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain. I wish every school leader, teacher, parent and geriatric caregiver would read this book by John J. Ratey.

Book you've bought for the cover:

The Tin Forest by Helen Ward. It's a children's book about a visionary old man who lives near "a wide, windswept place, near nowhere and close to forgotten."

Book you hid from your parents:

Didn't hide anything that I recall. But? I read some of my mother's hidden books. One was Wuthering Heights. I couldn't figure out why it was hidden, then or now. Gothic passion?

Book that changed your life:

Jim Merkel's Radical Simplicity. Just the end bit, actually. He recommended a yearlong, daily foray to the same outdoor place. I took him up on the challenge and sat outside on a children's plastic, red sled for at least 15 minutes every day for the next 12 months. My daughter, who is now 20, recently told me, "Something happened that year. I didn't know what. But I knew you'd figured something out."

Favorite line from a book:

Thank you, Megan Willome, author of The Joy of Poetry. I will always quote you on this: "Poetry is my prescription for adversity."

Five books you'll never part with:

  1. The Artist's Way. I return to Julia Cameron's liberating work every spring, just when the earth is embarking on its own liberation project.
  2. The Essential Neruda. Editor Mark Eisner certainly named this one well.
  3. Adrienne Rich teaches us how to live in The Dream of a Common Language.
  4. I always love to return to Anna Akhmatova's work.
  5. There's something both heartbreaking and heart building about Mahmoud Darwish's The Butterfly's Burden, where you can find many deeply human lines. such as these from "We Were Missing a Present":

...Let's go as we are,
a free woman
and an old friend
let's go on two separate paths
let's go together,
and let's be kind...

Book you most want to read again for the first time:

Sigrid Undset taught me the singular power of the simple image, in her epic tale Kristin Lavransdatter, which follows one woman from childhood to death during medieval times in Norway. That's an experience worth repeating, if it were possible.


Book Review

Children's Review: Drawn Together

Drawn Together by Minh Lê, illus. by Dan Santat (Disney-Hyperion, $17.99 hardcover, 40p., ages 3-5, 9781484767603, June 5, 2018)

A glum Thai-American boy is dropped off at his grandfather's house for a visit. His grandfather is delighted to see him, and they greet each other with a bow. Grandpa has obviously prepared for this visit, making the boy a traditional American meal--hot dog and fries--while he enjoys noodle soup. They try to chat at lunch, but can't understand each other, and when they watch a TV show together, the uncomfortable silence grows more and more awkward. In spite of their efforts to connect, nothing can make up for the fact that the two do not speak the same language or share a culture. Their emotional distance is enhanced by the comic book-style panels, creating literal separations as the two sit across from each other at the table or next to each other on the couch. It's not until the boy slips away to draw that they finally find common ground: Grandpa likes to tell stories through pictures, too! "Right when I gave up on talking, my grandfather surprised me by revealing a world beyond words. And in a FLASH--we see each other for the first time."

Immediately, the thick-lined panels disappear, replaced by double-page spreads that bleed off the edges of the paper. As man and boy weave their illustrations together, "all the things [they] could never say come pouring out." The story the two tell is not just about the heroes and villains they draw, but about their connection, "a new world that even words can't describe." Their heroes, beneath armor and capes, look an awful lot like their respective illustrators, with the grandfather's black-and-white, ornately dressed, ancient warrior brandishing a beautiful calligraphy brush and the boy's contemporary, anime-style wizard waving a star-topped wand. The swirling, elaborate design develops, the different styles intertwining, until they have created one magnificent world... which is suddenly disrupted by a huge, scaly monster that threatens to tear it apart: "just when we're closer than ever, that old distance... comes ROARING BACK." But the dragon they confront--a terrifying creature that meshes the boy's colorful, contemporary style with the man's black-and-white, traditional style--is no match for their combined forces.

Minh Lê (Let Me Finish!, illustrated by Isabel Roxas) is a first-generation Vietnamese-American writer and a national early childhood policy expert. Dan Santat is the New York-born son of Thai parents and author and illustrator of the Caldecott Award-winning The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend as well as Sidekicks, After the Fall and others. Their partnership in Drawn Together is just as magical as the grandfather and grandson's eventual bond. Mostly wordless panels represent the frustration and confusion the two share at first, followed by vibrant mixed-media artwork as they bring their talent and imagination together, concluding in a now-comfortable silence.

Drawn Together is a testament to the strength of a shared love to overcome barriers of age, language and culture, and will leave readers, like Grandpa and his grandson, "happily... SPEECHLESS." --Emilie Coulter, freelance writer and editor

Shelf Talker: Separated by language, culture and age, a grandfather and his grandson nonetheless find a beautiful way to forge a bond made of paint, ink and paper in this touching picture book.


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