Shelf Awareness for Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Workman Publishing: Cat Jokes vs. Dog Jokes/Dog Jokes vs. Cat Jokes: A Read-From-Both-Sides Comic Book by David Lewman and John McNamee

Poisoned Pen Press: Death Comes to Marlow (The Marlow Murder Club #2) by Robert Thorogood

Amulet Books: Aaron Slater and the Sneaky Snake (the Questioneers Book #6) by Andrea Beaty, illustrated by David Roberts

Candlewick Press (MA): Judy Moody series by Megan McDonald

Orchard Books: When Things Aren't Going Right, Go Left by Marc Colagiovanni, illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds

Chronicle Books: Is It Hot in Here (or Am I Suffering for All Eternity for the Sins I Committed on Earth)? by Zach Zimmerman

Berkley Books: How to Sell a Haunted House by Grady Hendrix


B&N Opening New Concept Store in Woodbury, Minn.

B&N's new-concept store in Edina, Minn.

Barnes & Noble plans to open a new concept store in Woodbury, Minn., a St. Paul suburb, in May 2019, according to the Pioneer Press.

The new, 21,000-square-foot store, which will include a café, will be in CityPlace, and is currently under construction. When the store opens, the existing B&N in Woodbury, on Valley Creek Road, will close. That store opened in 1992, early in the wave of chain superstore openings.

Forge: Raw Dog: The Naked Truth about Hot Dogs by Jamie Loftus

Suilebhan Named PEN/Faulkner Foundation's Executive Director

Gwydion Suilebhan

Gwydion Suilebhan has been named the executive director of the PEN/Faulkner Foundation. A writer and arts advocate who is currently director of brand and marketing for Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, he will join the PEN/Faulkner staff effective January 15.

"Gwydion is an inspiring leader with an extensive track record of innovation," said Tracy B. McGillivary, president of the board of directors. "He has devoted his entire career to advocating for writers of all ages, and his passion and curiosity are absolutely infectious. His deep understanding of the challenges facing writers in the 21st century, as well as his passion for answering those challenges, thrilled us."

Suilebhan commented: "To lead the PEN/Faulkner Foundation--an organization that's deeply committed to the beautiful notion of writers both celebrating and educating other writers--is a profound and meaningful opportunity for me. I cannot wait to build on four decades of literary history, both national and local, and to ensure that the PEN/Faulkner mission stays relevant and vital."

Zibby Books: Super Bloom by Megan Tady

Publishing Partnership: Chronicle Books, LEGO Group Interlock

Chronicle Books has begun a partnership with the LEGO Group to publish titles inspired by LEGO toys, bricks and minifigures. The first seven titles will appear in spring 2020 and include, besides books, puzzles, postcards, journals, erasers and more. Future projects will include humor titles, a behind-the-scenes look at the LEGO House, The Art of the LEGO Minifigure, and the introduction of new formats. Chronicle has publishing partnerships with, among others, Disney-Pixar, Lucasfilm, HBO, DC Comics, Star Trek, Pantone and Marimekko.

Sarah Malarkey, executive editorial director of Chronicle Books, called LEGO "an internationally beloved brand that shares our values of quality, creativity, and play. Both companies have generations of fans and a real affinity for one another. Together, we will make a publishing program that helps people express and share their LEGO love in many different formats."

Robin Pearson, LEGO publishing director, said, "We are delighted to welcome Chronicle Books into a select group of publishing partners who work closely with the LEGO Group to create books that delight and inspire fans around the world. Chronicle Books' unique sense of humor and style will allow us to explore original and innovative publishing formats that celebrate LEGO in all its facets, from inspirational studies of LEGO creativity to hilarious memes and jokes featuring iconic LEGO bricks and minifigures."

River Dog Book Co. Debuts in Beaver Dam, Wis.

River Dog Book Co., a bookstore and planned bookmobile in Beaver Dam, Wis., has made its debut as a bookstore without a storefront. At present, owner BrocheAroe Fabian sells new and used books, along with e-books and audiobooks, through the store's website and hosts a variety of events, book clubs and pop-ups around Beaver Dam.

"I want to be focused on engaging the community," explained Fabian, who has worked at bookstores around the country over the past 12 years. "I don't want people to think of it as a transactional relationship only--I want to disrupt what people think of as a bookstore."

Although Fabian moved to Beaver Dam only in October, she started running River Dog events in late summer, with the launch of the Armchair Travel Bookclub. The book club, which is open to anyone, anywhere in the world, reads a new book every two months and meets either virtually through Facebook or in person, depending on location, to discuss the title. So far, the club has three "chapters," in North Carolina, Minnesota and New York. In January, Fabian plans to launch a mystery and YA-for-adults book club in Beaver Dam, possibly followed by a romance book club in February.

River Dog's downtown window display

Fabian has started working with the local library and, as part of the #IndiesGiveBack promotion, began distributing copies of Ghost by Jason Reynolds to local middle school students on November 24. On January 19, Fabian and Beaver Dam's youth services librarian will host a discussion group at the library. Fabian hosts roughly one pop-up event per month, and most recently, she participated in downtown Beaver Dam's window-display contest, setting up an Olive the Other Reindeer-themed holiday display.

Fabian's decision to open a store in Beaver Dam came about in an unusual way. In November 2017, the town's mayor, who was elected on a platform of revitalizing Beaver Dam's ailing downtown, reached out to the Midwest Independent Booksellers Association about bringing in an indie bookstore to serve as an anchor for the downtown. At the time, Fabian and her partner were already looking to make their next move, and after visiting Beaver Dam earlier in the year, they decided to take the plunge.

River Dog pop-up store

Since her arrival in Beaver Dam, Fabian has been constantly looking for organizations to partner with, including senior centers, hospitals, schools and libraries, the local humane society and even prisons.

"How can I partner with anyone, anywhere?" Fabian mused. In some ways, she said, not having a bricks-and-mortar location actually helps her mission, because otherwise she worried that her sole focus would be on trying to drive people into the store. "Obviously I have to make money at the end of the day. But if that's my sole purpose, then I feel like I've failed the community."

When asked about how the Beaver Dam community has responded to her plans, Fabian answered that the reaction has been "split between overwhelmingly positive, and a little confused." People are extremely enthusiastic, she explained, but don't quite know what she means when she says things like bookmobile or pop-up. The downtown holiday display, she added, is another way of "helping people understand how to interact with what's open."

The gradual roll-out of River Dog Book Co. is part of a flexible, scalable business plan that Fabian has been working on for some time. At various times over the years, while working as a bookseller in Massachusetts and again in Oregon, Fabian began seriously considering opening a store of her own, but couldn't get the financials to work. In recent years, Fabian has taken inspiration from some of the less traditional business models used by booksellers like Angela Maria Spring of Duende District Bookstore and Deborah Cohen of the bookmobile The Story House, and modified her plans.

Fabian is currently in the hunt for a bookmobile, with her dream being a big, beautiful trolley and her second choice a large bus. Her two major requirements, she said, are that the vehicle can be made ADA-accessible and that she won't have to replace the transmission in the first three months. She's looked at a few so far, but hasn't found anything quite right yet. Fabian added that she's always been so drawn to the idea of a bookmobile because it allows her to reach people wherever they are, whether they live in book deserts, are homebound or live in senior centers or hospitals.

Once the bookmobile is out and about, Fabian plans to divide the inventory roughly in half between a set selection of books, including some of her favorites as well as titles on the MIBA bestseller list or Indie Next List, and a rotating selection curated to whatever organization she's partnering with or event at which she's set up. Her selection at a school book fair, she said, is going to look at lot different from what she takes to a senior center, which will also look different from what she might bring to a gardening club meeting. And regardless of where she's set up, she'll always have a wide range of price points and a mix of new and used.

"I'm all about accessibility," she said. --Alex Mutter

December Indie Next List E-Newsletter Delivered

Last Thursday, the American Booksellers Association's e-newsletter edition of the Indie Next List for December was delivered to more than half a million of the country's best book readers. The newsletter was sent to customers of 135 independent bookstores, with a combined total of 519,643 subscribers.

The e-newsletter, powered by Shelf Awareness, features all of the month's Indie Next List titles, with bookseller quotes and "buy now" buttons that lead directly to the purchase page for the title on the sending store's website. The newsletter, which is branded with each store's logo, also includes an interview (from Bookselling This Week) with the author whose book was chosen by booksellers as the number-one Indie Next List pick for the month, in this case My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite (Doubleday).

For a sample of the December newsletter, see this one from Carmichael's Bookstore, Louisville, Ky.


Bookshop Chalkboard of the Day: Inkwood N.J.

Inkwood Books, Haddonfield, N.J., shared pics of its sidewalk chalkboard on Facebook, noting: "Just a few of the many reasons to buy books as gifts. You pick your reasons, we'll help you pick the perfect books!" Inkwood's reasons that "Books Make Great Gifts" are:

  • Your cat won't chew through the charger cord
  • Never out of season or style
  • Send passive-aggressive political messages to your in-laws
  • No clamshell packaging to rip through
  • Cheaper than a video game
  • Good for you: low fat, low sugar, gluten-free, vegan!

Murder on the Beach Owner: 'Now We Sell Entertainment'

Joanne Sinchuk, who founded Murder on the Beach, Delray Beach, Fla., in 1996, told the Palm Beach Post that "for her the most challenging aspect of owning an independent bookstore is keeping up with how the business has changed over the past 20 years."

"We used to sell books, now we sell entertainment," she said. "Author signings are a major source of income. Internet sales are 30% of our business and independently published authors are selling as well as the traditional New York published authors."

In 2007, she sold the bookstore to BookSmart Enterprises, but is still the manager and involved with the organization of literary events. The Post noted that having a niche bookstore "may seem limiting in its ability to please readers who cater to different genres besides mysteries and thrillers. But Sinchuk doesn't see this as an obstacle."

"The chain stores may have breadth of inventory, but we have depth," she said. "If you love mystery, suspense and thrillers, you come here. Our booksellers are very knowledgeable and can make recommendations based on what you like to read."

Personnel Changes at Sourcebooks

At Sourcebooks:

Mallory Hyde has joined the company as marketing specialist for children's books.

Jaclyn Puccini has joined the company in the newly created role of social media specialist for Sourcebooks Fire.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Gisele Bündchen on Ellen, Late Late Show

Ellen: Gisele Bündchen, author of Lessons: My Path to a Meaningful Life (Avery, $28, 9780525538646). She will also appear on the Late Late Show with James Corden.

Late Night with Seth Meyers: Ina Garten, author of Cook Like a Pro: Recipes and Tips for Home Cooks (Clarkson Potter, $35, 9780804187046).

Also on Late Night: Anthony Atamanuik, co-author of American Tantrum: The Donald J. Trump Presidential Archives (Morrow, $24.99, 9780062851888).

Jimmy Kimmel Live: Matty Matheson, author of Matty Matheson: A Cookbook (Abrams, $35, 9781419732454).

TV: A Series of Unfortunate Events, Season 3

Netflix released a trailer for the final season of A Series of Unfortunate Events, "which promises to tackle all of Violet (Malina Weissman), Klaus (Louis Hynes), and Sunny (Presley Smith) burning questions about their parents' deaths and the secret organization V.F.D. (like, why is the sugar bowl so important?!). Of course, those answers won't come without a few hurdles and surprises," Entertainment Weekly reported. The series returns January 1.

The third season, which adapts the last four books of Lemony Snicket's series, "sees the Baudelaires travel to the top of a mountaintop, underwater in a submarine, and the cleverly named Hotel Denouement all while evading being captured by Count Olaf (Neil Patrick Harris)," EW noted. They are also crossing paths with Kit Snicket (Allison Williams), New Girl's Max Greenfield, Jerome Squalor (Tony Hale), Vice Principal Nero (Roger Bart), as well as "the man who has been chronicling this tale of woe, Lemony Snicket."

Season 3 will be "the most emotional season yet," said executive producer Barry Sonnenfel. "It's got a lot of action, and the kids have become much more proactive and less victims."

Books & Authors

Awards: John Leonard; IPNE Book

The National Book Critics Circle has announced finalists for this year's John Leonard Prize for a first book in any genre. A panel of member-volunteers will read the finalists and select a winner, to be announced in January. The prize will be presented March 14 at the NBCC Awards Ceremony in New York City. The 2018 finalists are:

Friday Black by Nana Kwami Adjei-Brenyah (Mariner)
A Lucky Man by Jamel Brinkley (Graywolf Press)
The Line Becomes a River: Dispatches from the Border by Francisco Cantú (Riverhead)
Asymmetry: A Novel by Lisa Halliday (S&S)
The Incendiaries by R.O. Kwon (Riverhead)
There There by Tommy Orange (Knopf)
Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover (Random House)


Winners of this year's Independent Publishers of New England Book Awards were announced at the IPNE Fall Conference in Portsmouth, N.H.:

Book of the year: I Know It In My Heart: Walking through Grief with a Child by Mary E. Plouffe (She Writes Press)
Informational nonfiction: Saving Our Lives, Volume Two: Essays to Release the Writer in YOU by D. Margaret Hoffman (Davanti & Vine Press)
Narrative nonfiction: Out in Blue Fields: A Year at Hokum Rock Blueberry Farm by Janice Riley and Stephen Spear (Schiffer Publishing)
Literary fiction: Villa Del Sol by Martha Reynolds
Genre fiction: Moonlight Helmsman: Robert Small's Amazing Escape by Richard Maule
YA: Soul Sister by Mariellen Christine Langworthy (Stillwater River Publications)
Children's: Tabitha Fink and the Patchwork Pirates by Rick Felty (Dreamschooner Press)
Coffee table & art books: Stars & Lights: Darkest of Dark Nights by David Zapatka
Design: The Legend of Dragon Lake by Maung Nyeu (Our Golden Hour)

Milkweed Editions Unveils Changes for Poetry Prize

The name of the Lindquist & Vennum Prize for Poetry is changing to the Ballard Spahr Prize for Poetry and the prize is adding Michigan to the list of eligible states of residence for entrants, Milkweed Editions has announced. The name change reflects the merger of the Lindquist & Vennum law firm with Ballard Spahr at the beginning of the year.

The Ballard Spahr Prize for Poetry, which supports outstanding poets from the upper Midwest and brings their work to a national stage, awards $10,000 and publication by Milkweed to a poet at any stage in their career residing in Minnesota, Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin, or Michigan. Selected from a small number of finalists by an independent judge, the prizewinning poet will also receive a standard royalty contract, national distribution, and a comprehensive marketing and publicity campaign. The 2019 judge is poet, essayist and literary translator Khaled Mattawa.

"This meaningful prize recognizes artistic excellence and rewards poets publicly and lucratively, and we are grateful for the vision and commitment of the Ballard Spahr Foundation to carry this prize forward in partnership with Milkweed," said Daniel Slager, publisher and CEO of Milkweed Editions.

Pete Michaud, managing partner of Ballard Spahr's Minneapolis office, commented: "Recognizing the unifying power of language while also celebrating the unique voice of the Midwest is a fitting way to commemorate Lindquist's merger with Ballard Spahr."

Book Review

Review: Hark

Hark by Sam Lipsyte (Simon & Schuster, $27 hardcover, 304p., 9781501146060, January 15, 2019)

Teeming with its share of dubious gurus and generating nearly $10 billion in annual revenue in the United States, the self-help industry offers an inviting target for mockery. It seems inevitable, then, that a satirist with the gifts of Sam Lipsyte (The Ask) would take on the challenge. Hark, his fourth novel, is the irreverent story of a reluctant apostle and his motley band of acolytes. They make efforts to spread the gospel of a pseudo-mindfulness technique that's about as substantial as a wisp of wind.

Hark Morner is a young comic who's found a profitable gig at corporate team-building events, where he's billed as an "expert in some esoteric practice--knife yoga, reverse hypnosis." He calls his concept "mental archery," inspired by a toy bow he found sticking out of a garbage can. In Hark's mind, the sole purpose of this half-cooked stew of pseudo-psychological teaching is to improve its practitioners' focus. But, in truth, there are "no ideas in mental archery, or no complex ones, just poses, mini-wisdoms, historical nuggets of dubious accuracy. Pearlescent shoals of the stuff."

He's surrounded by a small but loyal brain trust, including Fraz Penzig and his wife, Tovah, general-purpose advisers burdened by their domestic concerns. Kate Rumpler is mental archery's primary funding source, and Teal Baker-Cassini is an ex-convict who's there to provide a semblance of intellectual heft to Hark's hilariously meandering presentations--several of which Lipsyte offers in all their head-scratching inanity. The defining personality trait of all of these characters seems to be free-floating anxiety, as they do their best to promote Hark's program without being entirely sure what it is they are selling.

Hark is relatively light on action, deriving most of its appeal from Lipsyte's darkly comic sensibility, edgy dialogue and the ferocious exaggeration of its premise. But in its final third, the novel takes a decidedly more serious turn, as mental archery migrates from the corporate world to the larger culture and the plot gains some welcome momentum. After a Woodstock-like event featuring Hark turns tragic, moneyed interests focus on commercializing the movement, even as it assumes quasi-religious overtones. Fraz and the others must decide whether they're willing to continue on this bumpy ride.

There's not much that's gentle about Sam Lipsyte's touch, but readers who enjoy fiction that delivers social commentary with a palpable sting will find themselves at home here. --Harvey Freedenberg, freelance reviewer

Shelf Talker: A sendup of the self-help movement for those who take their comedy black.

The Bestsellers

Top-Selling Self-Published Titles

The bestselling self-published books last week as compiled by

1. The Elf on the Shelf by Carol V. Aebersold and Chanda B. Bell
2. Guinness World Records 2019 by Guinness World Records 2019
3. Love With Me by Kristen Proby
4. Until Cobi (Until Him/Her Book 7) by Aurora Rose Reynolds
5. All Things Merry and Bright by Various
6. Verity by Colleen Hoover
7. Hotshot Doc by R.S. Grey
8. Just Pretend by R.R. Banks
9. Marriage Mistake by R.S. Lively
10. Angie's Gladiator by Ruby Dixon

[Many thanks to!]

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