Shelf Awareness for Monday, October 15, 2018

Simon & Schuster: Fall Cooking With Simon Element

Tor Nightfire: Devils Kill Devils by Johnny Compton

Shadow Mountain: Highcliffe House (Proper Romance Regency) by Megan Walker

Simon & Schuster: Register for the Simon & Schuster Fall Preview!

Avid Reader Press / Simon & Schuster: The Ministry of Time Kaliane Bradley

Quotation of the Day

The Delight of 'Indulging in the Act of Participation'

"On a weekend where many of us were otherwise saturated with distressing news about our ever-divided country, Ross [Gay, author of The Book of Delights] inspired us with his poetic meditations on the wonder and magic of daily life.... Marlon James was also on the ticket that morning, and I'm way too big of a fan to pass up that opportunity. The fact that Laurie Halse Anderson and Leif Enger (both of whom I've had the good fortune of hearing speak before) were also going to be there certainly didn't hurt. But after more than 27 years of bookselling, you'd think I'd know that the meaning and power of the event comes not merely from the speakers but from sitting amongst my friends and colleagues of the book world and sharing in the powerful stories from the stage together. The delight I had that morning was indulging in the act of participation....

"I hope the fall season finds your stores well and that you find many reasons to delight in your staff, your customers, your author events, your school visits, your book fairs, and your reading pile."

--Robert Sindelar, ABA board president and managing partner of Third Place Books, with three stores in and near Seattle, Wash. (via Bookselling This Week)

BINC: Do Good All Year - Click to Donate!


Book Sales Off at W.H. Smith; Closing Six Shops

After a difficult year for its book business, W.H. Smith, the U.K. travel, stationery and book retailer with most shops in downtown areas, train stations and airports, plans to close six of its 607 downtown shops and end "non-core initiatives including its W.H. Smith Local convenience outlets, launched in 2013, and its 20-strong Cardmarket chain, once the leases expire," the Bookseller reported.

Overall sales were up 2%, to £1.262 billion (about $1.651 billion), and pretax profit fell 4%, to £134 million (about $175 million). But main street sales fell 3%, and profits also fell 3%, to £60 million (about $78.5 million).

Book sales during the year dropped 6% because of what W.H. Smith called a "challenging" holiday season marked by "the lack of a strong new publishing trend" to make up for the strong sales the previous two holiday seasons of color therapy titles--or therapy coloring books--and spoof humor books. The second half of the year was helped, however, by David Walliams's World's Worst Children 3 and Dan Brown's Origins.

By contrast, sales in travel, which accounts for more than half of the company's sales and two-thirds of its profits, rose 8%.

A spokesperson commented: "Over the year, W.H. Smith will be opening more stores than it is closing. Across the business we will continue to create jobs, employing more people next year than this year. We are not announcing the six stores we have earmarked for closure in today's statement as they will close at different times as and when their leases expire--the earliest of these will be in 2021."

Graphic Universe (Tm): Hotelitor: Luxury-Class Defense and Hospitality Unit by Josh Hicks

FBF18: Notes from the EIBF

During the European and International Booksellers Federation conference at the Frankfurt Book Fair last week, Fabian Paagman, EIBF co-president and general director of Paagman, a bookstore with locations in The Hague and Delft in the Netherlands, discussed how he and his sister turned around their 67-year-old family business. In the midst of the financial crisis in 2009, Paagman recalled, the government of the Netherlands decided that all school books would be free. At that time, school books made up around 40% of the store's turnover and around 90% of its profits.

Fabian Paagman

Over the next few years, Paagman compensated for that lost revenue by heavily reinvesting in the business. They built a children's bookstore seven years ago, opened a PostNL service desk inside their flagship store in the Hague, grew their events programs and expanded the store's hours. They bolstered their online sales business, created several business-to-business programs, and started a loyalty program for customers. In 2014, they opened in a new store in a location that had once belonged to Polare, the biggest book retailer in the Netherlands, which had gone bankrupt that same year, and earlier this year opened a new store in Delft.

Noting that convenience was key, Paagman called the restrooms the "most expensive square meters" in his stores. The restrooms were closed for three months earlier this year while the cafe was being renovated, and Paagman and his colleagues "saw and felt how heavily these restrooms were being used." He continued: "We put a lot, a lot, a lot of money in it, we're not charging anything for it, but we also think it is one of the key aspects and key attractions for our store."


Nora Bechler

Nora Bechler of the Börsenverein, the German book industry association, shared some sobering information about the German book market, which has lost 6.4 million book buyers over the last five years. German consumers, she said, are not only buying fewer books but also reading less in general, with many increasingly spending their time online and watching streaming video services. And while this trend is much more pronounced with younger people, it is evident across all age groups and with people from all sorts of backgrounds.

There was cause for hope, however. The Börsenverein study also found that many people reported feeling overwhelmed by the pace of daily life and the constant pressure to be active online and on social media, and want a way to unplug and "decelerate." Many people also had fond, nostalgic memories of books, though they said they felt they didn't have enough time to read anymore. The key, Bechler said, would be for publishers and booksellers to find ways to draw attention back to the book, make books more prevalent in the public discourse, and create the sort of community feeling around books that exists around certain television shows.


Meryl Halls and Nic Bottomley

Meryl Halls, managing director of the Booksellers Association of the U.K. and Ireland, and Nic Bottomley, president of the BA and co-owner of Mr. B's Emporium of Reading Delights in Bath, England, shared some news about what's in store for their association. In addition to newly created task forces focusing on diversity and inclusion, sustainability and environmental responsibility and professional development and best practices exchange, the BA is looking at ways it can help high street retail in the United Kingdom as a whole.

"The answer is in the high street and is in the physical, and it's in embracing that," Bottomley said, after alluding to the "worry show" of the German book market report. "You want to be digitally aware, but actually it's selling the bookseller, it's selling the physical person, the knowledge, the expertise, the geekery."

Halls also discussed a BA initiative of the past few years that has brought senior publishers out of their offices to work in independent bookshops as guest booksellers. "The booksellers get the publishers to open boxes and hoover and clean the shelves and open the front door," Halls said. "And a lot of them had epiphanies once they've been working in the bookstores." She went on to encourage "anyone from any country" to try a similar program--it's led to "a lot of changed relationships." --Alex Mutter

GLOW: Workman Publishing: Atlas Obscura: Wild Life: An Explorer's Guide to the World's Living Wonders by Cara Giaimo, Joshua Foer, and Atlas Obscura

Taiwan's Eslite Aiming to Expand into Japan

Eslite, the Taiwanese bookstore chain, is making its first foray into Japan, Taipei Times reported. The company, which has some 46 stores, including three in Hong Kong and one in China, is partnering with an as-yet-unnamed partner "to building a presence" in the country. It would be the company's first store in a non-Chinese speaking-market. Eslite is also considering expanding to Malaysia and other Southeast Asian countries.

Earlier this year, Eslite Spectrum chairwoman Mercy Wu said that the company had received interest from potential foreign partners about opening stores overseas. Wu said that the company might license its brand for overseas expansion, provide consulting services or open stores through partnerships.

Harpervia: Only Big Bumbum Matters Tomorrow by Damilare Kuku

AUPresses Prepares for University Press Week

The Association of University Presses (AUPresses) has chosen "#TurnItUP" as the theme for this year's University Press Week, which runs November 12-17. The theme was selected to celebrate and emphasize that university presses "find, publish, and amplify" subjects, authors, and stories that might otherwise be overlooked by general trade publishers.

The university press community will host online celebrations of this year's theme via a blog tour and a featured publication gallery, and industry supporters such as Ingram and Baker & Taylor also will mark the week online through special messages and marketing.

"In real life" celebrations will include a panel focusing on this year's theme at the Miami Book Fair and panels about university press publishing at Book Culture in New York City and MIT Bookstore in Cambridge, Mass.

AUPresses president Jennifer Crewe, who is associate provost and director, Columbia University Press, commented: "University presses play an important part in the publishing ecosystem, making public and disseminating information and ideas to which the general public may not otherwise be exposed. Trade publishers generally take on authors and books that make financial sense. But because UPs are mission-driven, we are able to engage more deeply with the public good of publishing, ensuring that seemingly esoteric subjects, counterintuitive ideas, and authors without social media followings are able to have their important ideas, research, and writing made available for public consumption."

AUPresses executive director Peter Berkery added: "University presses publish authors from around the world and right at home, writing on subjects that are broad, niche, and at every level of inquiry in between. Without university presses, many of these authors or subjects would not be heard in the marketplace of ideas. We're delighted to make this aspect of our work the focus of UP Week 2018."

Obituary Note: Mary Midgley

English philosopher Mary Midgley, "an important writer on ethics, the relations of humans and animals, our tendency to misconstrue science, and the role of myth and poetry," died October 10, the Guardian reported. She was 99. Midgley published numerous books and articles "in which she identified the limitations of only trying to understand things by breaking them down into smaller parts and losing sight of the many ways in which parts are dependent on the wholes in which they exist."

Her many books include What Is Philosophy For?; Wickedness; Are You an Illusion?; Owl of Minerva: A Memoir; The Solitary Self: Darwin and the Selfish Gene; Beast and Man; Evolution as a Religion; The Myths We Live By; and Science as Salvation.

"I keep thinking that I shall have no more to say--and then finding some wonderfully idiotic doctrine which I can contradict," she observed in a 2001 interview with the Guardian, which reported that Midgley's friends "noted with amusement that one of the targets she attacked with particular vigor was the regrettable liability of humans to fall into overly combative debate. And she could herself be guilty of unsympathetic interpretation of her opponents. But her major targets were the tempting muddles to which we are all prone, in particular when we do not keep in check our tendencies to simplify and exaggerate."


Image of the Day: The Ravenmaster

Christopher Skaife, Yeoman Warder of Her Majesty's Royal Palace and Fortress of the Tower of London, and author of The Ravenmaster: My Life with the Ravens at the Tower of London (Farrar, Straus and Giroux), poses with the team at Macmillan Audio. Skaife is the first active Ravenmaster to write a book while in service and was required to ask Her Majesty's permission to travel to the United States with his official uniform--without any ravens.

'Take 5' with Inklings Bookshop's Owner

"For 18 years, Yakima Valley bibliophiles have been able to satisfy their cravings at Inklings Bookshop" in Yakima, Wash., the Herald noted to introduce its "Take 5" series q&a with owner Susan Richmond. Among our favorite exchanges:

Why did you become a business owner?
I never had a hankering to be a business owner, but I did have a hankering to be surrounded by books and booksy people. Becoming a businesswoman was part of the deal and I've learned so much over the years. Having a business-minded husband has been my greatest strength. I am privileged to be part of an ever-changing industry that brings new surprises with every book order and I am so proud that our community wants to keep reading and growing too.

What is the most challenging thing about running a bookstore?
My challenge, like many business owners, is to remember to spend time on the important, not only the urgent. It is easy to be diverted from the big picture with the details of the day.

What was the strangest book anyone's asked you for?
As an independent bookseller, we believe in a customer's right to read anything they wish, so we try to reserve judgment on their choices. The strangest requests are usually those that the customer knows neither the title or author. Sometimes they only know the book had a blue cover. Surprisingly, on a regular basis, our booksellers can make an educated guess and come up with the book they are looking for.

Personnel Changes at Atria

At Atria:

Ariele Fredman has been promoted to associate director of publicity. She has been with Atria since 2010.

Alison Hinchcliffe has been promoted to associate publicist. She has been with Atria for two years.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Nicholas Sparks on Good Morning America

Good Morning America: Nicholas Sparks, author of Every Breath (Grand Central, $28, 9781538728529).

Fresh Air: Phoebe Robinson, author of Everything's Trash, But It's Okay (Plume, $26, 9780525534143). She will also appear tonight on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert.

Steve Harvey: Jonathan Scott and Drew Scott, authors of Builder Brothers: Big Plans (HarperCollins, $17.99, 9780062846624).

Ellen repeat: Ellie Kemper, author of My Squirrel Days (Scribner, $26, 9781501163340).

The Talk: Krista Smith, author of Don't Die in the Pew: The Mystery of Israel and the Deception of Eternal Security (2 Thrive, $14.99, 9780692166833).

The View: Ben Sasse, author of Them: Why We Hate Each Other--and How to Heal (St. Martin's Press, $28.99, 9781250193681).

Watch What Happens Live: Heather Dubrow, author of The Dubrow Diet: Interval Eating to Lose Weight and Feel Ageless (Ghost Mountain Books, $25.95, 9781939457714).

Good Morning America: Pete Souza, author of Shade: A Tale of Two Presidents (Little, Brown, $30, 9780316421829). He will also appear on the View.

Also on GMA: Maddie Johnson, author of How Tickles Saved Pickles: A True Story (Margaret K. McElderry, $17.99, 9781534436626).

CNN's New Day: Doris Kearns Goodwin, author of Leadership: In Turbulent Times (Simon & Schuster, $30, 9781476795928).

The View: Charlotte Pence, author of Where You Go: Life Lessons from My Father (Center Street, $26, 9781546076186).

Movies: Dirt Music

Principal photography has started in Western Australia on the film adaptation of Tim Winton's novel Dirt Music, directed by Gregor Jordan (Buffalo Soldiers) from Jack Thorne's screenplay, Deadline reported.

The cast includes Kelly Macdonald (No Country for Old Men), Garrett Hedlund (Mudbound), David Wenham (Lion), Julia Stone, Aaron Pederson (Mystery Road), Chris Haywood (Muriel's Wedding), George Mason (Home and Away) and Dan Wyllie (Animal Kingdom). Producers are Finola Dwyer and Amanda Posey (Brooklyn) of Wildgaze Films and Angie Fielder (Lion) and Polly Staniford (Berlin Syndrome) of Australian entity Aquarius Films.

Books & Authors

Awards: Gordon Burn WInner

Jesse Ball won the £5,000 (about $6,575) Gordon Burn Prize for Census, a fable inspired by his late brother, who had Down's syndrome, the Guardian reported. The prize recognizes "novels which dare to enter history and to interrogate the past and nonfiction brave enough to recast characters and historical events to create a new and vivid reality."

Gillian Wearing, one of the judges, described the experience of reading the "beautiful, moving" novel as "like walking through someone's surreal grieving mind as they attempt to make sense of existence."

Carol Gorner of the Gordon Burn Trust commented: "Gordon Burn cared deeply about writing style, and he also cared deeply that those people who aren't obvious subject matter should be written about. This strange and beautifully written book is perfectly matched to the aims of the prize."

Book Review

Review: The Feral Detective

The Feral Detective by Jonathan Lethem (Ecco, $26.99 hardcover, 336p., 9780062859068, November 6, 2018)

Jonathan Lethem (Lucky Alan; Motherless Brooklyn) turns the traditional private eye novel inside out. Still told in first person, The Feral Detective isn't narrated by the investigator, Charles Heist, but rather by his client, Phoebe Siegler.
Phoebe is struggling to deal with the results of the 2016 U.S. presidential election and abruptly leaves her job. With time on her hands, she agrees to fly from New York to Los Angeles in search of her friend's missing teenage daughter, Arabella. A social worker refers Phoebe to Heist, a PI who specializes in finding children. However, Phoebe isn't quite prepared for what she finds when she meets the detective with the strange nickname: "He resembled one of those pottery leaf-faces you find hanging on the sheds of wannabe-English gardens. His big nose and lips, his deep-cleft chin and philtrum, looked like ceramic or wood." In Heist's desk drawer is an ailing opossum named Jean and in the armoire a young girl named Melinda who "isn't much for moms and dads." Nevertheless, Phoebe persists and Heist agrees to make some inquiries about Arabella. What he discovers leads the pair to a world that's utterly foreign to Phoebe but only too familiar to Heist.
Accompanied by his three dogs, Heist takes Phoebe to a homeless community in a drainpipe, to the Buddhist Zendo on Baldy Mountain and to the Mojave Desert, where they encounter two groups living off the grid and in the midst of a violent conflict. Finding Arabella and returning all humans and canines safely back to civilization may be easier said than done.
Lethem crafts a complex plot with swift momentum as well as a meticulous sense of place throughout the novel. He envelops his readers in the sights, sounds and smells of The Feral Detective's environs. Here he describes the efforts to levee storm water from the drainpipe where the homeless community resides:
"A rotted couch had been placed in the center of the flow, to make a bulwark the water had to work under and around. Despite the sizable stones and chunks of shattered pavement that had been added at every breach, and the soaked clothes and rotting blankets, the tarps and tenting employed to cement between the stony stuff, the water did."
Here, the compound of the desert-dwellers:
"One instant we trudged pathless sands. The next, around a rise, we'd entered a maze of human signs. Small habitations littered a span of landscape: huts like the two we passed, a few teepees, yes, and also half-submerged, tin-roofed pit dwellings."
In his characters, Lethem creates endless depth. Phoebe's sarcasm functions as a defense mechanism in a world she's no longer able to comprehend. Heist, on the other hand, comprehends his world only too well and finds comfort in silence. An odd pairing who ultimately fit perfectly together. Dark, funny, brutal, honest, The Feral Detective delivers an engrossing mystery written with fortitude and beauty. --Jen Forbus, freelancer
Shelf Talker: An unusual detective agrees to help locate a missing teenage girl and finds himself and his client in the midst of a tribal war in the Mojave Desert.

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