Also published on this date: Monday, August 13, 2018: Maximum Shelf: Once Upon a River

Shelf Awareness for Monday, August 13, 2018


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

Grove Press: The Heavens by Sandra Newman

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

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

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

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

Berkley Books: My Lovely Wife by Samantha Downing

News

Len Riggio on B&N's Future: '5,000' Ideas

Len Riggio

In meetings this past month with publishers wary about Barnes & Noble's future and in interviews, company founder and executive chairman Len Riggio repeatedly expressed optimism and said he has plans for turning around the business but did not reveal many details, according to stories today in the New York Times and Friday in the Wall Street Journal.

Besides the company's steadily declining sales, publishers and others in the industry are concerned that after the abrupt firing of Demos Parneros on July 3, B&N will eventually have its fifth CEO in six years--and possibly another one from outside the industry who will need to spend some time to learn the quirks of the book business. Riggio in part brushed off concerns about the revolving door by pointing out that CEOs report to him, providing continuity. "In that regard, nothing has changed," he told the Journal.

Similarly, he told the Times, "I have a big stake in the business. I founded it and I've been here forever, so I think there's a lot of stability that comes with that. If we're without a leader, I'm it."

Under its two most recent CEOs, B&N experimented with several new concept stores, including one model with a full restaurant and bar and most recently a model of smaller stores of about 14,000 square feet. One publisher told the Journal that while Riggio said new stores would have a smaller footprint, he offered no plans to update existing stores. He did, however, say to the Times that he has "5,000" ideas for how to lure customers back to B&N.

Richard Schottenfeld, whose Schottenfeld Management investment management firm recently bought 5.7% of B&N stock, said, "There's a lot of low-lying fruit out there that they can harvest," according to the Times, and cited "the company's 'badly designed' website, the 'long overdue' debut of book clubs this spring and the company's 'out of whack' operating costs." He stressed that B&N should focus less on store openings and closings and more on converting browsers into paying customers. "It seems like you can get more dollars out of people if you just figure out what they want to buy from you."

Riggio also dismissed concerns that he is a micromanager who hasn't given B&N CEOs much room to operate, telling the Times, "I don't micromanage anything."

The Journal pointed out that publishers said Riggio had invited them to meet and that he was accompanied by chief merchandising officer Timothy Mantel, "who is on the rise at the company, the people said. He is one of three executives who report directly to Mr. Riggio and are running the company until a new CEO is hired."

Before being hired in February, Mantel was chief marketing officer at GNC Corp. and earlier held several executive positions at Target.

The Times also highlighted the diverging paths of B&N and independent booksellers. A graph showed the number of American Booksellers Association member stores rising to 2,470 locations in 2018 from 1,651 in 2009 while in the last decade, B&N closed roughly 150 stores and now operates 633.

Ryan Raffaelli, an assistant professor at Harvard Business School who has been studying the resurgence of indie bookstores, explained in part: "The indies decided that rather than trying to compete on price and inventory, we're going to provide our customers with a curated experience that's hypersensitive to the customers in that community. Barnes & Noble has struggled to figure out where they fit in the larger ecosystem, given that that continuum continues to spread further and further apart."


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


McGarity Promoted at Hachette Book Group

Todd McGarity

Todd McGarity has been promoted to v-p, business development, at Hachette Book Group. He joined the company nine years ago as v-p of client services and has more than doubled the size of the division, making Hachette, the company said, "the country's largest provider of third-party distribution services to independent publishers by volume."

In his new, larger role, McGarity will continue to manage and expand the client services business as well as head the acquisitions team. He has been a member of the acquisitions team for the past two years.


Graywolf Press: Scribe by Alyson Hagy


More Than 500 Rally for London's Bookmarks Bookshop

More than 500 people attended the "solidarity event" held on Saturday in support of London's Bookmarks Bookshop, a socialist bookshop, which had been attacked by a far-right group on August 4, the Bookseller reported.

The event took place in the store and a nearby church and included readings and speeches, "accompanied by the presence of trade unionists who brought banners, while a musician played the fiddle during breaks." Many authors, political leaders and others read or sent messages of support.

Bookmarks manager Dave Gilchrist said: "The response has been phenomenal. We've had online orders from Honolulu to Helsinki, and today's event surpassed all expectations. The real message of today was the need for unity to drive back the far right. Many speakers emphasised that it was a short step from attacking books to attacking people."

He added: "I think putting on the event has shown we're not isolated. But, more widely than that, it was not simply an attack on our shop but on ideas generally and reading, as well as on the labour and trade union movement which we as a socialist bookshop serve. We feel it has alerted people to the dangers of what's happening around Trump's ideas becoming more prevalent, Steven Bannon coming over and talking to Boris Johnson and then we get the burqa thing, the shift to the right in that respect. We can say we can respond to all that--people are willing to push back."


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


Prologue Prologue: Bookstore's First Pop-Up Shop on Sunday

Prologue Bookshop, which plans to open a bricks-and-mortar location in October in Columbus, Ohio, will have its first pop-up shop, on Sunday, August 19, 12-4 p.m., as part of Goods on Goodale, a shopping marketplace associated with the Goodale Park Music Series as presented by the Short North Civic Association. As owner Dan Brewster wrote to customers, "This is your first chance to see Prologue Bookshop in action and pick up a book for yourself or as a gift."

In the meantime, the renovation of Prologue's permanent space continues, with consulting from Paz & Associates.


Soho Press: Insurrecto by Gina Apostol


Run for Cover Books & Cafe Coming to San Diego

Marianne Reiner

"I had this idea of one day, I'm going to do this as a store," said Marianne Reiner, owner of Run for Cover Books & Cafe, on schedule to open in San Diego, Calif., later this year. Reiner, who grew up in France before moving to the U.S. around 20 years ago, has had a lifelong love of both books and baking.

"I took a long and circuitous road to get here," Reiner continued, "but I'm getting there."

Located in San Diego's Ocean Beach neighborhood, the 700-square-foot bookstore and cafe will sell new books for all ages, with a particular focus on children's and young adult literature. Reiner explained that in addition to having children of her own who are 10 and 13, the store will be within a mile or two of six elementary schools, a couple of middle schools and a high school. She noted: "the children around here love to read."

Due to limited space, the cafe will essentially be a single counter that serves tea, coffee and other drinks, along with an assortment of pastries and snacks. Despite the small size it will still have a three compartment sink and space for a refrigerator, an espresso machine, a drip coffee machine and more. And due to requirements of the San Diego health department, the counter will be on wheels, though Reiner has no real plans to make it mobile.

When she first began planning for the cafe, Reiner recalled, she intended to make all of the store's pastries and baked goods herself. She even started the process of getting a license in San Diego for "Cottage Food Operations," which would allow her to bake goods at home that she could sell at the store. But then, as the process continued, she realized that wasn't quite feasible.

"No way can I come home from a 14-hour day and bake for even longer," said Reiner, laughing. "I thought, I'm totally crazy."

For the time being, the baked goods and pastries will be sourced from a wholesale bakery with whom Reiner has established a good relationship, and she's also looking into sourcing things like vegan and gluten free options from other vendors. However, should it reach the point where Reiner doesn't need to spend quite so much time in store day-to-day, she would love to be able to step back and do more of the baking herself.

Given the limited size of the store, Reiner plans to make extensive use of the back courtyard, especially for events. In addition to traditional author events and signings, she looks forward to hosting poetry, trivia and music nights, storytime sessions for kids and book-themed birthday parties. Her plans for non-book items include calendars, bookmarks, journals and cards, along with book-related products made by local artists. In fact, she intends to have a different local artist featured each month, with space reserved for their work in store, and she'd like to host an opening reception for each of those artists.

Reiner is eyeing an opening date of October 1, but her building, which was built in the 1940s, needs electrical work and has to undergo some renovations. She might have to open the bookstore before the cafe, as her coffee cart requires a level of amps and voltage that the building currently can't handle. But regardless of when exactly the store opens, she plans to be open in time for the holidays and to "hit the holiday season hard."

Reiner reported that her community's response to her plans to open a bookstore have "been amazing," and she has some data to back that up. When she started seriously looking for a location, she created a survey that, with the help of friends and family, she managed to get in the hands of 400 people in the neighborhood who she didn't know personally. She found that interest was high, and ever since, "people have been extremely supportive and very welcoming."

Around four years ago, after Reiner's mother passed away, she decided to finally get serious about making her dream a reality. She said that her mother had always been a big part of her plans and loved the idea from the beginning. She recalled coming back from France and telling her husband, "Life is too short. I can't keep saying one day I will do this." --Alex Mutter


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


Obituary Note: V.S. Naipaul

V.S. Naipaul, the Nobel laureate "who documented the migrations of peoples, the unraveling of the British Empire, the ironies of exile and the clash between belief and unbelief in more than a dozen unsparing novels and as many works of nonfiction," died August 11, the New York Times reported. He was 85. Naipaul "was born of Indian ancestry in Trinidad, went to Oxford University on a scholarship and lived the rest of his life in England, where he forged one of the most illustrious literary careers of the last half-century," the Times noted, adding that he was an "often difficult man with a fierce temper."

He won the 1971 Booker Prize for In a Free State, and was knighted in 1990. His many books include A Bend in the River, A House for Mr. Biswas, The Middle Passage, The Mimic Men, The Enigma of Arrival, A Turn in the South, Half a Life, Miguel Street, and Among the Believers.

While Naipaul's supporters "hailed him as a towering intellect--delivering an original, scorching critique refreshingly devoid of political correctness: attacking the cruelty of Islam, the corruption of Africa and the self-inflicted misery he witnessed in the poorest parts of the globe," BBC News wrote that for "his numerous critics, Naipaul's writing was troubling and even bigoted. They recognized his literary gifts but saw him as a hater: an Uncle Tom who dealt in stereotypes, paraded his prejudices and bathed in loathing for the world from which he came."

In an editorial, the Guardian wrote that Naipaul "exemplified a very current preoccupation: whether an author's personality can be separated from his or her reputation as an artist.... Naipaul's legacy will never be entirely straightforward--which does not mean he should not be read, enjoyed, debated and critiqued."

On Twitter, several writers shared their own complicated perspectives on Naipaul's life and legacy. Salman Rushdie posted: "We disagreed all our lives, about politics, about literature, and I feel as sad as if I just lost a beloved older brother. RIP Vidia." Preti Taneja wrote: "I learned from his caste snobbery, his misogyny. I learned from his exacting style and from what he left out--women's lives and worlds. I learned that I had to critique what I was taught to revere. #InAFreeState and #IndiaAWoundedCivilisation changed my writing life." And Pico Iyer said Naipaul "is out of fashion today because he wrote what he felt, he kept cross-examining himself and he refused to stay within anyone's ideas of him. But no one gave more eloquent voice to the poignancy of crossing borders--and the possibilities--than he and Derek Walcott."

The "life of the greatest prose writer in the English language of the last 60 years has ended at the age of 85," Amit Chaudhuri observed in the Guardian: "Though many of us disagree fundamentally with his views, we are beholden to what Naipaul has given us: not as members of a particular ethnicity, group, or gender, but as people, whose experience of the world flows into the experience of writing."

In Naipaul's Guardian obituary, Kenneth Ramchand wrote: "He was a difficult man to get to know. His meaning for the island of his birth, and for the world after the centuries of empires and colonies, 'everything of value,' as he put it in his Nobel lecture, was in his books: 'I am the sum of my books.' In time, that will be seen as his most appropriate epitaph."


G.L.O.W. - Galley Love of the Week
Be the first to have an advance copy!
Professor Chandra Follows His Bliss
by Rajeev Balasubramanyam

According to Susan Kamil, Random House executive v-p and publisher, Professor Chandra Follows His Bliss is "for readers of A Man Called Ove or The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, novels where one feels the central character will never overcome their own emotional shortcomings or burdens, but, miraculously do." Curmudgeonly Cambridge professor of Economics P.R. Chandrasekhar does not, at first, appear capable of miracles, or even of changing his mind. But he is--and he does, thanks to a run-in with a bicyclist and a doctor's charge to follow his bliss. Author Rajeev Balasubramanyam wields considerable humor, the perfect antidote to our polarized and exhausting present, while crafting a tender and thoughtful tale. This is an absolute gem of a book. --Stefanie Hargreaves, editor, Shelf Awareness for Readers

(Dial Press, $27 hardcover, 9780525511380, March 26, 2019)

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Notes

Image of the Day: Hope Never Dies

Last Wednesday, the Book Passage in San Francisco hosted Andrew Shaffer (and an illustrious if stiff guest) on Shaffer's "Ridin' With Biden" Tour for Hope Never Dies, the first Obama Biden Mystery (Quirk Books). What Book Passage bookseller Cheryl McKeon called one of the most fun runups to the appearance included a card signed by many customers with birthday greetings to the former president, who turned 57 on August 4. Along for the ride (from l.): Nick Mitchell, Book Passage; Katherine Ralph, Book Passage; Sleuth-in-Chief; Andrew Shaffer; and Cheryl McKeon.


Books Kinokuniya's Grand Opening in Austin, Tex.

Congratulations to Books Kinokuniya, which is holding the grand opening of its Austin, Tex., store on Saturday and Sunday, August 18 and 19. The celebration will include musical performances, author events, live drawings and more. The store, the company's 12th in the U.S., had a soft opening in May. Like its U.S. counterparts, the Austin store offers both Japanese- and English-language books as well as many other products. Founded in Tokyo in 1927, Kinokuniya has nearly 100 stores worldwide.

The Austin store features what the company calls the "Kinokuniya Lab," which is "a new business model for our brick and mortar bookstore." In that area, the store is featuring products, services, businesses and activities of companies and local communities.


ISBN of the Day: 9781501111112

One of the more striking ISBNs we've seen recently is 9781501111112, which is for the paperback edition of Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth, which Scribner is publishing next week. All power to triple snake eyes.


Media and Movies

Media Heat: Omarosa Manigault Newman on Today, Morning Edition, Hardball, Daily Show

Today:
Today Show: Omarosa Manigault Newman, author of Unhinged: An Insider's Account of the Trump White House (Gallery, $28, 9781982109707). She will also appear today on NPR's Morning Edition and MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews and tomorrow on the Daily Show.

NPR's 1A: Arne Duncan, author of How Schools Work: An Inside Account of Failure and Success from One of the Nation's Longest-Serving Secretaries of Education (Simon & Schuster, $26.99, 9781501173059).

Also on 1A: Julie Schumacher, author of The Shakespeare Requirement: A Novel (Doubleday, $25.95, 9780385542340).

Tomorrow:
CBS This Morning: Michael Arceneaux, author of I Can't Date Jesus: Love, Sex, Family, Race, and Other Reasons I've Put My Faith in Beyoncé (Atria/37 INK, $17, 9781501178856).

NPR's All Things Considered: C.J. Chivers, author of The Fighters (Simon & Schuster, $28, 9781451676648).

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


TV: Pachinko

"Following a multiple-outlet bidding war," Apple has landed the rights to develop a TV series based on Min Jin Lee's novel Pachinko, the Hollywood Reporter wrote, adding that the "drama landed at Apple with a sizable script-to-series commitment." Soo Hugh (AMC's The Terror) will write the script as well as executive produce and serve as showrunner on the project. Lee will also be credited as an executive producer.

"History is the record of human imagination, will and decisions. I cannot imagine a greater team than the women and men of Apple, Media Res, William Morris Entertainment and the brilliant showrunner, Soo Hugh, to translate Pachinko, a novel of history, into a visual story for a global audience," Lee said. "I am honored by their faith and feel confident of their powerful and ground-breaking vision in making history anew."



Books & Authors

Awards: Toronto Book Shortlist

Five finalists have been named for the C$10,000 (about US$7,605) Toronto Book Awards, honoring books of literary merit that are evocative of the city. The winner will be announced October 10. This year's shortlisted titles are:

The Unpublished City, edited by Dionne Brand 
Brother by David Chariandy
That Time I Loved You by Carrianne Leung
My Conversations with Canadians by Lee Maracle
Floating City by Kerri Sakamoto


Book Review

Review: The Bus on Thursday

The Bus on Thursday by Shirley Barrett (MCD/Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $15 trade paper, 304p., 9780374110444, September 18, 2018)

Australian author Shirley Barrett (Rush, Oh!) takes readers on an arrestingly dark and hilarious journey to a bizarre small town in Australia and through a young woman's growing madness.
 
She survived breast cancer, but Eleanor Mellett is unprepared for life after the battle, an aggravating maze of humorless support groups, post-mastectomy dates with insensitive men and thoughtless comments from her friends. Needing an escape, Eleanor finds a job teaching primary school in the town of Talbingo, population 241--actually, 240, since the previous teacher, Miss Barker, skipped town in the middle of the night. Her disappearance made little sense considering her alleged devotion to her students, but Eleanor is in no position to look a gift horse in the mouth.
 
In a private blog, she chronicles her increasing bemusement at Talbingo, where she learns there is no cell signal "nor will there ever be BECAUSE LANDLINES WORK PERFECTLY FINE" according to her new boss. The barebones grocery store carries almost no produce but plenty of wine, which she turns to increasingly as her encounters with the townsfolk grow to include a run-in with a priest who tries to exorcise her, a teen student who ogles her and a volatile relationship with the local bad boy who may or may not have had an affair with Miss Barker. Beginning to suspect her predecessor may not have left town of her own free will, Eleanor also slides into drinking and outbursts of uncontrollable anger. Perhaps something is rotten in Talbingo, or perhaps the fault lies in Eleanor's own mind.
 
Written in Eleanor's snarky, seething voice, this warped gem will throw readers off-balance with its mix of horror and humor. Barrett escalates the sense of dread at a perfect pace but also leaves the reader constantly puzzling over which of Eleanor's experiences happened and which existed only in her mind. The classic horror setting of the isolated, dysfunctional town with its inept police force, distrust of outsiders, and lack of perspective on its own weirdness plays well against the narrator's own imbalance and paranoia.
 
With her irreverence, pluck and cringe-worthy mess ups, Eleanor often seems like a nonplussed chick-lit heroine who landed in the wrong genre, a deliciously successful gambit. In this way, Eleanor remains mostly sympathetic even as she deteriorates into behavior that includes the most insensitive explanation of suicide ever to darken a primary classroom. A raw exploration of grief and illness woven into a more traditional horror story, The Bus on Thursday will chill readers across the board. --Jaclyn Fulwood, blogger at Infinite Reads
 
Shelf Talker: Shirley Barrett blends horror and chick-lit conventions with dark humor for a slyly comic slice of dread sure to keep readers guessing.

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