Also published on this date: Wednesday, July 18, 2018: Maximum Shelf: The Library Book

Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Little Brown and Company: Wolf at the Table by Adam Rapp

Tor Nightfire: Ghost Station by S.A. Barnes

Severn River Publishing: Covert Action (Command and Control #5) by J.R. Olson and David Bruns

Scholastic Press: Heroes: A Novel of Pearl Harbor by Alan Gratz

Flatiron Books: Anita de Monte Laughs Last by Xochitl Gonzalez

Peachtree Publishers: King & Kayla and the Case of the Downstairs Ghost (King & Kayla) by Dori Hillestad Butler, illustrated by Nancy Meyers


Amazon's Prime Day Weathers Glitches, Strikes

Amazon's mega-hyped Prime Day, the annual Black-Friday-in-July scheme launched in 2015, weathered some early ordering glitches Monday afternoon on the company's website, where the problems "sent shoppers to social media to complain after their attempts to click on Prime Day deals returned only images of dogs with an apologetic message. The snags were an embarrassment for the tech company on the much-hyped shopping holiday it created," the Associated Press reported. Other chain retailers, including Target, Macy's and Kohl's, were also promoting special discounts this week to take advantage of the publicity.

Shortly after Prime Day began, Amazon tweeted: "Some customers are having difficulty shopping, and we're working to resolve this issue quickly. Many are shopping successfully--in the first hour of Prime Day in the U.S., customers have ordered more items compared to the first hour last year...."

"It wasn’t all a walk in the (dog) park, we had a ruff start--we know some customers were temporarily unable to make purchases," Amazon said in a statement.

Also detracting from Prime Day's momentum were reports of Amazon employees in Europe striking "to draw attention to their complaints against the company. Unions in Spain said most of the company's 2,000 permanent staff there were on a three-day strike on Tuesday," the AP wrote. Similar labor actions were planned in Germany, France, England, Poland and Italy. On Twitter yesterday, the online retailer posted what may, or may not, have been a thinly veiled message to the strikers: "The Amazonians in #Italy are working side-by-side with robots to pick, pack, and ship customer orders. This morning for #PrimeDay, the machines delivered a special surprise..."

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders addressed the company's labor issues in a Prime Day tweet: "Jeff Bezo's newly renovated home in Washington DC will have 25 bathrooms. Meanwhile, Amazon workers skip bathroom breaks in order to meet their grueling work targets. #CEOsvsWorkers."

Despite the negatives, however, "Prime Day sales in the U.S. so far are bigger than ever," an Amazon representative told CNN, which noted that "sales soared by 89% in the first 12 hours of Prime Day compared to the first 12 hours last year, according to Feedvisor, a software company that uses algorithm and machine learning to track e-commerce pricing. The number of orders were up 69% in the same period." For 2018, Prime Day was extended from 30 to 36 hours, so year-to-year comparisons are more challenging, with or without the technical glitches. But on its Prime Day live blog early Tuesday, Amazon wrote: "In the first ten hours Prime Day grew even faster, year-over-year, than the first ten hours last year."

"There is no doubt that [the glitches] will erode sales and deter some customers from buying," Neil Saunders, managing director of research firm GlobalData Retail, told the Washington Post (which is owned by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos). "The outage is especially problematic as many of Amazon's Prime deals are promoted for a set window of time--something that could cause a great deal of frustration for potential customers."

For many indie booksellers, Prime Day is just another challenge to face from a company that has been on the offensive against them for more than two decades.

Mary Ackland, retail manager at Mitzi's Books in Rapid City, S.D., told KEVN News the shop hasn't been affected by Amazon because locals and tourists keep them going: "I think we're lucky enough that we have a really good local clientele that are very loyal to us. When they shop for a book, they want to be able to come in and peruse the titles and hold the book in their hand and just look around."

James Conrad, co-owner of the Golden Notebook, Woodstock, N.Y., uses an "I Didn't Buy It on Amazon!" logo in his promotional materials, including the bookshop's sidewalk chalkboard sign. On Monday, he tweeted: "Why not reject one-click, corporatism today? Engage and support your local community with local dollars. Don't allow your local government/schools to lock-into Amazon on #subPrimeDay."

"Our customers are loyal to independent bookstores. They like the personal touch we give them. We care about what they read," said Jim Roumbos, co-owner of Miles Books, Highland, Ind., in an piece. Regarding Prime Day, he added: "All it really is is a sale. They take 5% off $100, and it's $5 off. I don't know why they get all that free advertising."

University of California Press: The Accidental Ecosystem: People and Wildlife in American Cities by Peter S. Alagona

New Owners Renovating, Refreshing Canterbury Book Store

Rebecca Bender and Jesse Traub, new owners of Canterbury Book Store in Escanaba, Mich., have been making changes to the nearly 50-year-old store since they purchased it this spring, the Daily Press reported.

Traub and Bender have reorganized the store's inventory, added a children's playroom and brought in new shelving purchased from a nearby, now-closed Book World. They are also remodeling the store, which includes renovating the store's ceiling and turning the second floor into a special events area. Once those renovations are finished, the owners plan to use that space for book clubs, board game nights and story time sessions.

Since taking over the store in April, Traub and Bender have gotten a better sense of what their customers prefer. Bender told the Daily Press that "adventure books, young adult fiction, paranormal romances and children's books" are some of the most popular genres.

"People have been very supportive, both with their encouragement and with buying books from us," Traub said.

Expansion, Name Change for Southland Books & Café in Tenn.

Southland Books and Cafe, Maryville, Tenn., will soon become Southland Books, Cafe and Bar as co-owners Lisa Misosky and Catherine Frye plan for a fall opening of a restaurant, bar and event space in the former location of Bluetick Brewery, the Daily Times reported.

"We're hoping to open by fall, maybe sooner, but we cannot give a firm date. Stuff just takes time," Frye said of the new space currently nicknamed The Bird and the Book, which will either be "a bar that has food or a restaurant that has beer.... We don't really know what it's going to be yet. We're just waiting to see what people respond to and what the community wants."

Noting that she has wanted a bar since she was 20 years old, Misosky added: "There's nothing like what we're creating in Knoxville or Maryville that I've seen."

Frye said the bookshop, which sells new and used titles, will still be a key ingredient in the business: "We want it to feel like a place that's comfortable for people to come and hang out... not that raucous, crazy bar situation, but with places to chill and talk to your friends and be able to actually hear the people you're there with. We want this to be a fixture in this town for a long time--we don't want it to go anywhere, so we're not trying to do this quick and fast. We're trying to do it where it's going to be here forever."

ABA Partners with Eventbrite on Ticket Sales

The American Booksellers Association is partnering with Eventbrite, an event technology service that allows users to manage ticket sales. Bookselling This Week reported that Eventbrite "allows event-holders to set up an event page in minutes, offer multiple ticket options, and learn more about their ticket-buying community with customized questions. In addition, event-goers can purchase tickets directly on stores' websites and social media pages."

As part of the new partnership agreement, ABA members will have access to a substantial Eventbrite discount and 24/7 customer support via e-mail and phone. ABA members will also receive a one-hour start-up session with an Eventbrite representative. Questions about this new partnership, which is available to all ABA member stores, should be directed to Phil Davies, director of IndieCommerce.

Obituary Note: Bruce Leigh

Bruce Leigh, a British writer and intellectual with a wide range of interests who worked in libraries and bookshops, has died, the Guardian reported. He was 75. Leigh worked for the bibliographic services division of Marylebone public libraries in London (1970-72), and then as assistant librarian at Kensington reference library. He spent 10 years as manager of the paperback department at the Karnac Books shop in Gloucester Road, central London (1975-85), and then moved to Waterstones in Charing Cross Road shop as an assistant buyer.

"It was as colleagues at Waterstones that we met, and he became a mentor for me, not just in books but in life," recalled his friend Fiona Mullen, who wrote that Leigh "had an interest from his early teens in Lawrence of Arabia, and, dissatisfied with popular interpretations of his life, sought to understand the man through the large and eclectic library that Lawrence left behind at Clouds Hill, his house in Dorset. The result, after 10 years of writing, was Bruce’s study, Lawrence: Warrior and Scholar (2014)."


Image of the Day: Indie Publishing at Books & Books

At its latest Summer Book Club Mixer, Books & Books, Coral Gables, Fla., hosted Michael Reynolds, editor-in-chief of Europa Editions, in conversation with Emily Cook, U.S. publishing representative for a number of indie presses, including Canongate, Scribe and Coach House Books. A packed house heard them talk about the history of Europa, all the new books they are excited about, and indie publishing in general. Totes and ARCS were given away and everyone enjoyed prosecco, cookies and delicious brownies. Pictured: (l.-r.) Chantel Acevedo (author, The Distant Marvels, published by Europa); Books & Books owner Mitchell Kaplan; inventory manager Joanna Clarke; events and marketing manager Cristina Nosti; Michael Reynolds; Emily Cook; buyer Gael LeLamer; Jonah Kaplan, Mitchell's son who is now running the Café at Books & Books; and online sales staff Aaron Curtis. 

A Conversation with Greedy Reads' Julia Fleischaker

Julia Fleischaker, who opened Greedy Reads bookstore in the Fells Point neighborhood of Baltimore, Md., earlier this year, was featured in a conversation with BmoreArt's Cara Ober. Among our favorite exchanges:

Julia Fleischaker

How many books do you own?
Who knows! A lot. Honestly, I haven't had time to unpack them since getting to Baltimore, so I could count the boxes?!?

We discussed the elegant beauty of book cover design in your shop and you said, "Cover designers are the unsung heroes of publishing." Can you talk more about this?
I do think covers are so often beautiful! I'm generally envious of people that have a good eye, or a great sense of color, or an impeccable sense of design, and cover designers certainly fit that bill. So, I definitely enjoy the aesthetic part of it and consider it art. But cover designers are also great readers! Check out the covers of some of your favorite books…you'll probably see that the designer was able to pull out themes from the book and incorporate them. At Melville House, where it was small enough that we all worked closely together, I realized that having early conversations with the designer helped me to read books more carefully and notice things I may have missed.

What do you think about Baltimore so far? What has surprised you? What are you most looking forward to doing here?
I am loving Baltimore! I really could not have asked for a better and more genuine welcome, from the neighborhood and the whole city. I'm totally enamored of my customers, and I love to see what they're buying. I have to say, they have great taste (according to me).

Probably the most surprising thing has been the sense of community, and the number of small businesses and independent artists that are making it work here. It's totally inspiring, and I love being able to stock the store with the work of local artists and makers. What I'm really looking forward to is finding the time to explore everything that is going on around the city. I read everyone else's event calendars and listings with a mix of envy and FOMO. I'm working on it.

Bookshop Chalkboard of the Day: Novel Memphis

"It's just #science. Come visit us today--it's nice and cool," Novel bookshop in Memphis, Tenn., posted on Instagram over the weekend, sharing a photo of the store's sidewalk chalkboard, which said: "Books may not have A/C, but they'll keep your mind off the heat."

NYPL Celebrates #WorldEmojiDay

Tuesday was World Emoji Day, and the New York Public Library celebrated "#WorldEmojiDay" appropriately enough, in bookish fashion on Twitter.

Personnel Changes at the American Psychological Association

Chi Wang has joined the American Psychological Association as books marketing manager for academic and professional publishing and APA Style. She was previously books marketing manager at the American Chemical Society.

Casemate to Distribute Gremese Editore

Effective immediately, Casemate Group is distributing English-language books from Italian publisher Gremese Editore with Casemate IPM focusing on North America and Casemate Art in the U.K., Europe and worldwide. In addition, Casemate Digital will provide digital distribution for Gremese's e-book catalogue, in all available languages.

Founded in 1978 and part of MGIP (Motovun Group of International Publishers), Gremese Editore is a leading publisher in performing arts, cinema, dance and theater and has expanded into literature, music, sport, anthologies, essays, illustrated books, manuals, and lifestyle guides. Its catalogue has nearly 4,000 titles. It plans to translate into English at least 10-12 new titles a year from its annual list of more than 60.

Casemate v-p of business development Simone Drinkwater commented: "Gremese's books are of the highest quality, renowned amongst film, dance, and theatre lovers the world over, with beautiful illustrations, expert research, and a real passion for the subject, with a growing reputation for every subject area they move into."

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Jeanine Pirro on the View

The View: Jeanine Pirro, author of Liars, Leakers, and Liberals: The Case Against the Anti-Trump Conspiracy (Center Street, $27, 9781546083429).

TV: Vampire Chronicles

Hulu has picked up Anne Rice's Vampire Chronicles TV series. The author and her son, Christopher Rice, will executive produce alongside Anonymous Content's David Kanter and Steve Golin. The project, which has been in the works since 2016, "will begin with the story told in The Vampire Lestat and be an entirely open-ended story that could span multiple seasons," TheWrap reported.

Paramount Television and Anonymous Content optioned the rights to 11 of Rice's Vampire Chronicles books for adaptation in 2017, one year after Rice began developing the project. Paramount TV president Amy Powell said at the time: "It is undeniable that Anne Rice has created the paradigm against which all vampire stories are measured. The rich and vast world she has created with the Vampire Chronicles is unmatched and sophisticated with '90s gothic undertones that will be perfectly suited to captivate audiences. The series is full of compelling characters led by Lestat, arguably one of the greatest original characters, literary or otherwise."

Books & Authors

Awards: Holbrooke Distinguished Achievement; Alternative Nobel

John Irving is this year's recipient of the Dayton Literary Peace Prize's Ambassador Richard C. Holbrooke Distinguished Achievement Award, which recognizes authors for their complete body of work. Irving will be presented with the award October 28 during the Dayton Literary Peace Prize Gala.

"John Irving's body of work creates worlds that allow the reader to explore the contradictions of twisted morality, the consequences of suspicions of the other, the absurdities of pride and ignorance, and the tragedy of a lack of sympathy and empathy for our fellow humans: characteristics that make peace unreachable," said Sharon Rab, founder and chair of the Dayton Literary Peace Prize Foundation. "Through books--especially Irving's books--readers learn to understand and identify with people who are different from themselves."

Irving commented: "Novels and stories invite people into a writer's worldview. For forty years and counting, I've written about sexual difference and sexual minorities--at times, when the prevailing literary culture labeled it bizarre or niche. I've written with the hope that the bigotry, hatred, and flat-out violence perpetrated on sexual minorities would become a relic of the past. In that sense I've written in protest--I've written protest novels. And yet, if I've written characters whose stories give them access to the breadth of human experience and emotion, I've done my job as a writer. Novels are my platform; if a prize helps bring attention to my subject matter, then I welcome it."


A longlist has been unveiled and voting has begun for the New Academy's international prize in literature, which was created in response to the Swedish Academy's decision not to award a Nobel Prize in Literature this year in the wake of a highly-publicized scandal. More than 100 Swedish writers, actors, journalists and other cultural figures formed the New Academy, which will hand out its own award this autumn, following the same timeline as the Nobel.

"Our ambition is to select a winning author who has given people stories about the humans of our world. The nomination period has ended and now it is up to the people of the world to participate in the selection for the final judging," the academy stated.

Votes may be cast here, and the voting closes on August 14. The votes will single out three authors, while a fourth author will enter the final judging based on the initial nomination round. The winner will be announced October 14 and presented at a formal event with a grand celebration December 10. The New Academy will be dissolved December 11.

Describing the longlist as "a wonderfully eclectic lineup of authors," the Guardian noted: "Perhaps the most striking detail of all is found not in the names, but the fine print. The New Academy is enforcing a gender quota on the shortlist stage, stipulating that it comprises two men and two women. How different this is to the Nobel, which counts among its 114 winners just 14 women."

Reading with... Jennifer Sattler

Jennifer Sattler is the award-winning author and illustrator of numerous children's books, including the new board books Dirty Birdies and Jungle Gym, as well as the picture book Sylvie, and the Pig Kahuna and the Chick 'n' Pug series. She lives in upstate New York, where she delights in embarrassing her children and having meaningful conversations with her dog. Her new book, Bully, was just published by Sleeping Bear.
On your nightstand now:
I always have a book going, but the problem is they start to blend into one giant novel--my memory is terrible, so they all mush together. Lately, though, I've read a few that really stuck out and I hated putting them down: Made for Love by Alissa Nutting, The Idiot by Elif Batuman, The Female Persuasion by Meg Wolitzer and The Nix by Nathan Hill.
Favorite book when you were a child:
Without a doubt it was anything by Dr. Seuss. If I had to pick a favorite of his, it would be Yertle the Turtle. When I was in middle school, I learned all the things that the grown-ups wouldn't tell me from Judy Blume... thank God for her!
Your top five authors:
That's a tough one. Since I write/illustrate children's books, I'll go with my favorite children's book authors: Sandra Boynton, Mo Willems, Peggy Rathmann, Emily Hughes and Quentin Blake.
Book you've faked reading:
I've gotta say, life is too short to fake read anything. That said, when I was in middle school, I'm sure I fake read a lot of things. I definitely fake read The Red Badge of Courage. It's amazing to me that educators still make kids read that book when the amount of incredible YA books out there that kids would love has never been higher.
Book you've bought for the cover:
I can tell you a book I picked up despite the cover: Made for Love (which I mentioned earlier). Every time I recommend it to people I say, "don't be thrown by the cover! It'll make sense after you read it."
Book you hid from your parents:
Forever... by Judy Blume. Didn't we all? I know the copy I had was passed around the whole sixth grade.
Book that changed your life:
Hippos Go Berserk! by Sandra Boynton
Favorite line from a book:
There's a part in Tina Fey's book Bossypants (which I not only read a couple of times, but bought a couple of times) in which, instead of trying to fit into impossible ideals, she takes a personal inventory of all of the healthy body parts she's grateful for. My favorite one is: "Droopy brown eyes designed to confuse predators into thinking I'm just on the verge of sleep and they should come back tomorrow to eat me."
Five books you'll never part with:
Ugh! These are hard questions. People make fun of how many books we have in the house because I cannot part with them. You want me to pick five? I've been asked to "reduce the amount of books I have" before. I won't do it!
Book you most want to read again for the first time:
That's the beauty of having a bad memory! I reread books all the time. All I remember is that I loved it and then I get to reread it and it's almost like reading it the first time. I've reread Geek Love by Katherine Dunn and Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris several (and I mean more than three) times.

Book Review

Children's Review: Memphis, Martin, and the Mountaintop: The Sanitation Strike of 1968

Memphis, Martin, and the Mountaintop: The Sanitation Strike of 1968 by Alice Faye Duncan, illus. by R. Gregory Christie (Calkins Creek, $17.95 hardcover, 40p., ages 9-12, 9781629797182, August 28, 2018)

When discussing Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with kids, it's tempting to focus on his best known and most uplifting campaigns, like the Montgomery bus boycott and the historic March on Washington. With Memphis, Martin, and the Mountaintop: The Sanitation Strike of 1968, Alice Faye Duncan, the author of several previous children's books, takes as her subject King's last campaign, and she makes clear that, while he didn't live to see its outcome, his work was not in vain.
Memphis, Martin, and the Mountaintop is narrated by a nine-year-old black girl named Lorraine Jackson, whose father is a sanitation worker. (According to Duncan's acknowledgments, she culled details of Lorraine's narrative from the childhood memories of Dr. Almella Starks-Umoja, a teacher.) In February 1968, Lorraine's dad returns to their Memphis home to report that two of his coworkers were killed by a malfunctioning garbage truck. The air has been thick with talk of a strike due to the overwhelmingly black sanitation crews' outrageously low wages and abysmal working conditions, and these senseless deaths spur action. When 1,300 Memphis sanitation workers strike on February 12, 1968, Lorraine's father is among them. She feels both pride in his activism--"My daddy marched... for better pay. He marched for decent treatment. My daddy marched for me"--and the corresponding financial pinch: their home loses power and phone service, and Lorraine can forget about pocket change for candy.
After organizations including the NAACP show support for the strike, so does Lorraine's mother: "In her right hand she carried her boycott sign. In her left, she held my hand." Spirits soar at news that Dr. King will be joining the struggle in Memphis, and Lorraine gets to take a day off from school to march with him. R. Gregory Christie, whose innumerable illustrator credits include Freedom in Congo Square, displays his unmistakable style: he sets elaborately tended faces and forms against less worked-over slabs of color; in his ennobling art, humanity is always paramount.
When the march turns violent, King leaves the city and promises to come back to lead a more peaceful protest; it's after his return that he's killed on April 4. But this doesn't end Lorraine's story. A memorial march takes place on April 8 to honor the fallen leader, and this time, they're accompanied by King's widow, Coretta Scott King. The strike concludes eight days later, when James Reynolds, President Johnson's labor official, helps negotiate a settlement between the workers and the Memphis City Council. King's death isn't the main story in Memphis, Martin, and the Mountaintop; it's a tragic part of an inspiring account in which a heroic campaign lost its leader but nevertheless marched on to victory. --Nell Beram, freelance writer and YA author
Shelf Talker: This fictionalized account of Memphis's sanitation strike of 1968, relayed by a child witness, makes Martin Luther King Jr.'s death a tragic part of the story but not its last word.

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