Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, January 2, 2019


Freeform: Deadly Little Scandals (Debutantes, Book Two) by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Carolrhoda Books: Ella McKeen, Kickball Queen by Beth Mills

Little Brown Books For Young Readers: Ping by Ani Castillo

Other Press: Labyrinth by Burhan Sonmez

Little Brown and Company: Kingdomtide by Rye Curtis

Quotation of the Day

Indie Bookshops 'Only Survive if You Support Us'

"Also, if you're considering #NewYearsResolutions--how about pledging to support a local bookshop (in person or online)? Our towns would be sadder places without them & Bezos owns half the world already... We only survive if you support us. #IndiesRock #SupportLocal"

--Gutter Bookshop, Dublin, Ireland, in a New Year's Eve tweet

Abrams Books for Young Readers: Sofia Valdez, Future Prez (Questioneers) by Andrea Beaty, illustrated by David Roberts


News

Holiday Hum: A Busy Finish to the Holiday Season

The holiday season ended exceptionally well, according to booksellers around the country, who used many superlatives to describe sales. For example, Cindy Dach, co-owner of Changing Hands Bookstore in Tempe and Phoenix, Ariz., reported that while the holiday season started out a bit slower than normal, things picked up by the second week of December and eventually turned into one of the store's "busiest and strongest years to date." She added that Michelle Obama's Becoming was an "incredible seller," and other standouts included Whose Boat Is This Boat? by Donald Trump (compiled by the staff of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert); Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat by Samin Nosrat and Wendy MacNaughton; There There by Tommy Orange; and Educated by Tara Westover.

Dach had trouble getting some bestsellers back in stock, including The Overstory by Richard Powers and Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat, but Changing Hands booksellers were able to work around that by adding new shelf talkers that suggested "If You Liked X, You'll Love Y," which helped fill empty spaces on the bestseller wall as well as provide alternatives. Dach noted that her booksellers "were incredible this year, and they handsold alternatives constantly." In terms of sidelines, socks were once again huge sellers, along with tea towels and Melissa and Doug toys. The store's humorous mugs were a hit, and Changing Hands sold a lot of jewelry this year in particular.

Helped along by good weather in Denver, Colo., every Tattered Cover store was "jumping" throughout the holiday shopping season, said co-owner Len Vlahos. The Saturday before Christmas was, as usual, the busiest day of the year and Tattered Cover's small Union Station store had the "strongest sales in that store's history" during the holidays. Vlahos reported that Tattered Cover was up about 3% total over the 2017 holiday season and said that the store's bestsellers were "Michelle Obama's Becoming, Michelle Obama's Becoming and Michelle Obama's Becoming." More seriously, he added that Becoming was a "phenomenon unlike anything we've seen in recent years." Other big sellers included G'morning G'night by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Westover's Educated.

On the subject of sidelines, Vlahos said that "not surprisingly" socks did very, very well, and this year Tattered Cover ran a promotion: if customers bought a gift card of $35 or more, they got a store-branded mug, usually $13.95, for just $5. It helped customers increase the value of their gift cards and helped sell a lot of mugs, too. This was also the first holiday season for the Friends of Tattered Cover program, which costs members $20 per year to join and provides a variety of benefits, including a $15 gift card for every $200 spent and an invitation to an annual members-only party and sale. According to Vlahos, the program has "exceeded our expectations and was definitely a contributor to our successful holiday season." He hasn't crunched the numbers for December yet, but during Thanksgiving weekend, the average transaction for members was more than twice the average transaction for non-members. He and his staff have "every reason to believe that continued through December."

In Evanston, Ill., Bookends & Beginnings had its single best day in business ever on the Saturday before Christmas, with owner Nina Barrett reporting that the store was up a full 25% over its previous single day best. Barrett added that the energy in store has been fantastic, and although she's seen a few people taking pictures "for later," she has also had "scores" of customers tell her, "I looked it up on Amazon but I wanted to buy it from you." She also overheard a "very precocious and talkative" boy tell his mom, "This place is so much cooler than Barnes & Noble."

Newtonville Books in Newton, Mass., posted on Facebook that the weekend before Christmas was the "busiest weekend at the bookstore in the history of the world."

Old Firehouse Books in Fort Collins, Colo., experienced a Christmas Eve "Miracle on Walnut Street" when the store received an unexpected shipment from UPS that included 11 copies of Becoming.

And Literati Bookstore in Ann Arbor, Mich., thanked its customers for making Christmas weekend the "busiest weekend ever."


MPIBA Booksellers! Click now and sign up for your free holiday gift guides>


Report: McNally Jackson Flagship Store Not Moving

Hold everything! The flagship McNally Jackson Books location in SoHo in New York City won't be moving after all, according to Bowery Boogie, which broke the news last October that the store would move this year because of a rent increase.

Bowery Boogie's report this morning reads in part: "Word on the street is now that the bookstore is to remain at 52 Prince Street. Its home of fourteen years. Several readers relayed word last week that McNally Jackson won't be moving after all. An employee we spoke to at the store later confirmed."

Last fall, owner Sarah McNally confirmed that the landlord of the 5,700-square-foot Prince Street store planned to raise the rent to $850,000 from $360,000. She indicated that she was close to signing a lease on a comparable space nearby that the store would move to this year.

McNally opened the Prince Street store in 2004 as McNally Robinson, part of the Canadian chain that her parents founded. In 2008, the store became independent and was renamed McNally Jackson.

McNally Jackson has several other stores. Last year, a second McNally Jackson bookstore opened in Williamsburg in Brooklyn. McNally Jackson also has two Goods for the Study stores, one near the SoHo bookstore and the other in Greenwich Village. And last August, Hudson Group announced that it will open a bookstore with McNally Jackson in LaGuardia Airport's new Terminal B.


Amulet Books: In the Hall with the Knife: A Clue Mystery, Book One by Diana Peterfreund


Next Generation Taking Reins at Carmichael's Bookstore

Carmichael's Bookstore, Louisville, Ky., which marked its 40th anniversary last year, is changing ownership: founders Carol Besse and Michael Boggs are retiring, and the store will now be owned by their daughter, Miranda Blankenship, and their niece, Kelly Estep, Insider Louisville reported.

After meeting in college and working at Barbara's Bookstore in Chicago, Besse and Boggs, who had roots in Kentucky, moved to Louisville and opened Carmichael's in 1978. Through the years, they've witnessed the rise of mall store B. Dalton Bookseller and Waldenbooks, then Borders and Barnes & Noble superstores, then Amazon and e-books. "We've survived," Besse said. " 'Small is beautiful' has been our model."

Small, but Carmichael's has expanded significantly over time. Last year, it added 750 square feet to its general store at 1295 Bardstown Road, and in 2014, it opened a children's bookstore, Carmichael's Kids, at 1313 Bardstown Road. It also has a general store at 2720 Frankfort Ave., which it opened in 1999.

The new owners want to keep Carmichael's "true" to Besse and Boggs's vision, "but move into the 21st century on some level," Blankenship said. "There will be some adaptations we need to do to keep pushing forward, but we want to keep the heart and trueness of what they started."

Estep started working at the store as "a kid," dusting shelves, and then officially began at age 14. On the other hand, Blankenship was determined not to work in her parents' store. "I didn't want much to do with it, honestly," she told Insider Louisville. "So I didn't start working until I got back from college in 2004. So I was probably 21."

Besse and Boggs will continue to involved in some ways. "I'm sure we'll spend some time haunting the shelves," Boggs said. "I think retirement won't be playing golf. We're not golfers. We'll go in and say, 'Can I work a night shift?' "


Quirk Books: For Your Consideration: Dwayne "the Rock" Johnson by Tres Dean, For Your Consideration: Keanu Reeves by Larissa Zageris and Kitty Curran


Maryland's Greetings & Readings Closing

After 49 years in business, Greetings & Readings, Hunt Valley, Md., is closing January 20, WBAL reported. In a statement, owners Steven and Fran Baum, who are husband and wife, and Steve Spund and his wife, Amy Baum Spund, said, "This decision was exceptionally hard and not without much thought and prayer. We have explored every avenue and yet we faced the inevitable realization that the current retail environment is not sustainable."

President Steven Baum told WBAL that sales began to drop in 2008, during the recession, and that in 2018, they dropped 15%. The owners tried to find a buyer or merger partner, but without success.

Vice-president Steve Spund said that online competition was difficult and had been exacerbated by bad weather. "This year we have exceeded the all-time record for precipitation," he stated. "When the rain comes traffic disappears. Snow flurries make the shopping centers desolate except for the food stores. In past years, you could make up some of the drop off, but now when the weather is bad people just shop online."

Greetings & Readings opened in 1969 in Loch Raven Plaza, then moved in 2005 to a larger location at the Hunt Valley Towne Center.


Magination Press: My Singing Nana by Pat Mora, illustrated by Alyssa Bermudez


Obituary Note: Amos Oz

Amos Oz

Israeli author Amos Oz, "whose work captured the characters and landscapes of his young nation, and who matured into a leading moral voice and an insistent advocate for peace with the Palestinians," died December 28, the New York Times reported. He was 79. "Among a generation of native Israeli writers that included A.B. Yehoshua and David Grossman, Mr. Oz wrote richly in modern Hebrew. The revival of that ancient language was extolled by the founders of the state as a crucial element in forging a new Israeli identity."

Oz published more than a dozen novels, including My Michael and Black Box, as well as collections of short fiction, works of nonfiction and many essays. His work was translated into more than 35 languages. A Tale of Love and Darkness, Oz's acclaimed memoir, was first published in Hebrew in 2002 and became an international bestseller. His other books include Judas; Dear Zealots: Letters from a Divided Land; In the Land of Israel; Black Box; and Where the Jackals Howl & Other Stories.

Among his many honors were the Goethe Prize; the French Knight's Cross of the Légion d'Honneur; the Heinrich Heine Prize; and the Israel Prize. He was a perennial contender for the Nobel Prize in Literature.

Describing him as "one of the greatest authors" Israel has produced, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Oz "deftly and emotionally expressed important aspects of the Israeli experience.... Even though we had differences of opinion in many fields, I greatly appreciate his contributions to the Hebrew language and the renewal of Hebrew literature."

Friend and fellow author David Grossman told the Guardian that "there will not be another Amos Oz, there was only one like him. You can say this about every human being, of course, but there was something unique about Amos. Those who appreciated him--and not only appreciated but needed his clear, sharp voice--have lost someone who made their lives better. When a person like Amos--a man of such grandeur, and I don't say that easily--passes away, the world is diminished a little, it's narrowed down a little."

Bruce Nichols, senior v-p and publisher of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, which published Oz's Dear Zealots: Letters from a Divided Land on November 13, said, "We are devastated by the news of Amos Oz's passing. No writer possessed such moral clarity and compassion in equal measure. He spoke truth to power, but he never lost sight of the daily struggles of ordinary living in an extraordinary country."

Oz was buried Monday "at the central Israel kibbutz where he spent much of his formative years," the Times of Israel reported. His friend Mark Glazerman said Oz "knew the evil in mankind but believed fully in the good as well.... Amos felt very deeply invested in the fate of Israel and believed he had a calling and a responsibility to protect it. He was a compass and a conscience for many."

Actor and director Oded Kotler read a letter of condolence sent to the family by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who said Oz's "life was full of cultural and ideological contribution. He defended issues of rights and justice, called for peace and a dignified life [for all]."

Reuven Rivlin, president of Israel and a childhood friend, said he always felt a deep connection to Oz's writing: "When Amos writes about love and darkness, he writes about me. I am there in the small print. Because, Amos, I feel that not only did you write to me, but you really wrote about me. Because of your bravery, your gaze--the most internal and external that there could be. For me and for so many, you lit the streetlights to show the reality of our lives here."


Notes

Bookshop Chalkboard of the Day: Warwick's

Amanda Qassar, marketing coordinator at Warwick's in La Jolla, Calif., shared a photo of the bookshop's chalkboard, noting: "Business is brisk at Warwick's. Though snow is not a native part of our habitat, here, it makes for a good book pun. Some of our most popular titles are featured in this excellent chalk art by our new bookseller, L.J."


Books & Mortar: 'A Lot More than Just a Retail Space'

Jenny Kinne, the new owner of Books & Mortar bookstore in Grand Rapids, Mich., discussed "her transition from employee to shop owner as well as her goals for the store, thoughts on the uniqueness of independent bookstores and some of her favorite reads" with Grand Rapids magazine. Among our favorite responses from the q&a:

Looking ahead, how are you feeling about this new transition?
I was definitely nervous getting started since it's my first time owning my own business and I never thought that it would actually be something that I could do. I had to hit the ground running and I've been learning a lot. It's very impossible not to be excited in Books & Mortar. I mean it's just such a beautiful space and the fact that I can just spend my days around books and readers.... I'm just overwhelmed by all the excitement I feel about the future of owning this independent bookstore.

Can you tell us about some of the plans you have for the bookstore?
As far as things go right now, after taking over the store, everything has remained consistent. I haven't made too many changes other than bringing in some books and some inventory that I really love. I want to make sure that customers still feel completely at home in this place. [Former co-owners Christopher Roe and Jonathan Shotwell] did such a great job building it and I don't want to change too much right away. But my goal in the coming year is to try and work hard to make Books & Mortar more of a community center. I have a background in grassroots organizing so I would really love to see Books & Mortar be a place where people come and congregate, whether it's book clubs or political activist groups or nonprofit organizations or school groups.

What is the sense of community like at Books & Mortar?
If you were to walk into a larger bookstore, you probably aren't going to know the people that are there, but we know all of our customers. It's my mom and I and my cousin that all work in the store, so people get to know the whole Kinne family and we get to know them. It's really cool to be a part of this reading community, and we all share what we love about books and what we're struggling with and what we're going through in our personal lives. And it's a lot more than just a retail space.


Personnel Changes at Sourcebooks

Chris Bauerle has been promoted to v-p, director of sales and marketing at Sourcebooks. He was previously director of sales and marketing. He joined the company in 2008 as part of its acquisition of Cumberland House Publishing, where he was v-p of sales and marketing. Before that, he was v-p, mass market sales, at B&H Publishing Group.



Media and Movies

Media Heat: Shannon Huffman Polson on Today

Today:
Today Show: Shannon Huffman Polson, author of The Grit Project (Harvard Business Review Press, $28, 9781633697263).

Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon and Late Show with Stephen Colbert repeats: Michelle Obama, author of Becoming (Crown, $32.50, 9781524763138).


Fantasy Novel TV Adaptations to Look for in 2019

Noting that "there's a long road between a green light and a series actually making it to air," Vulture showcased "15 of the TV fantasy adaptations we confidently feel will be premiering in the near(ish) future, as opposed to a one-and-done press release that hasn't come to fruition after a few years' time. Hell, some of them even already have a premiere date. So here's what you should be keeping your eyes open for when 2019 rolls around--sorted, for your convenience, by how soon we're likely to see them."


Books & Authors

Awards: Bookish U.K. New Year's Honors List

Philip Pullman was knighted and Margaret Atwood was made a Companion of Honor for services to literature in the New Year's Honors list, the Bookseller reported. Julia Donaldson received a CBE for services to literature, while Chris Riddell was awarded an OBE for services to illustration and to charity. David Olusoga also received an OBE, for services to history and community integration.

Jessica Kingsley, founder of autism publisher Jessica Kingsley Publishers, now part of Hachette, received a British Empire Medal for services to people with autism.

Noting that he was "very surprised and honored" to be offered a knighthood, Pullman said, "I believe the profession of letters should be recognized as having a proper place in the life of the nation, along with science, and sport, and music, and scholarship, and many other human activities.... I'm immensely grateful to those who have worked so hard over many years to edit, publish, illustrate, and sell my books, and to the Society of Authors, which does so much for the profession of authorship. I'm most grateful of all to those who continue to read my books, and I hope they don't have to work as hard as those who edit them."

In addition, Neil MacInnes, president of Libraries Connected, received an OBE for services to public libraries; and a British Empire Medal was awarded to librarian Ian Anstice for services to the public libraries sector.


Reading with... Nikki Furrer

Nikki Furrer is the author of A Woman's Guide to Cannabis: Using Marijuana to Feel Better, Look Better, Sleep Better and Get High Like a Lady (Workman, December 25, 2018). Furrer is the founder/CEO of Fleur, a company that focuses on cannabis medicine for women. She is the former owner of Pudd'nhead Books, an independent bookstore in St. Louis, Mo.

On your nightstand now:

American Pop by Snowden Wright. I picked up the galley at a regional show, and I love it. I still haven't gotten to the new Tana French, The Witch Elm, and I'm excited to read Michelle Obama's book, Becoming. All of the "best of 2018" lists are coming out now, so my wish-list is about to explode. 

Favorite book when you were a child:

Beezus and Ramona. I learned a lot from Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret.

Your top five authors:

Margaret Atwood. Stephen King. J.K. Rowling. George R.R. Martin. Gillian Flynn/Megan Abbott/Sara Gran.

Book you've faked reading:

The Bible. Law school textbooks. Shakespeare. 

Book you're an evangelist for:

When I was a bookseller, I always had that one novel every season I couldn't stop talking about. It happened with Gone Girl and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and Room and countless others. Right now, I love Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat from Samin Nosrat.

Book you've bought for the cover:

I don't fall for covers, but I am obsessed with the way the paper feels in my hands. When they sent the first finished copy of my own book, I was so, so happy that the paper feels good when you hold it. But I am always a sucker for McSweeney's packaging.

Book you hid from your parents:

Flowers in the Attic. I shoplifted the entire series from the bookstore at the mall because I couldn't ask my mom to buy them for me.

Book that changed your life:

What an intense question. Ayn Rand made me a Democrat.

Favorite line from a book:

"The trouble was, I hated the idea of serving men in any way. I wanted to dictate my own thrilling letters." --Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar

"Everybody is identical in their secret unspoken belief that way deep down they are different from everyone else." --David Foster Wallace, Infinite Jest

"Don't let the bastards grind you down." --Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid's Tale

Five books you'll never part with:

GAME. OF. THRONES.

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

GAME. OF. THRONES.

Book that pairs well with marijuana:

Your short-term memory takes a well-deserved break when consuming cannabis, so it's difficult to remember what you've read. But coloring books and marijuana are a great combination.


Book Review

Children's Review: New Kid

New Kid by Jerry Craft (HarperCollins, $21.99 hardcover, 256p., ages 8-12, 9780062691200, February 5, 2019)

Twelve-year-old Jordan wanted to go to art school, but instead, his parents enroll the seventh grader in "one of the best schools in the entire state." Although his father expresses concern about Riverdale Academy Day's glaring lack of diversity, his mother insists that with Jordan's smarts, art school "would be such a waste." On Jordan's first day as the new kid, he's picked up outside his family's Washington Heights apartment by his RAD-assigned "guide," Liam--well, Liam's asleep in the back seat of his father's luxury SUV. At RAD, Jordan's the one who stands out amid chauffeur-delivered students, manicured lawns, fancy fields and "a lot of pink"--more accurately, "salmon"-colored clothing, a privileged fashion statement. Thankfully, despite Liam's somnolent first impression, he proves his guiding mettle and becomes a true friend.

Even with Liam's support, however, Jordan's RAD adjustment is a constant challenge: learning social hierarchies, avoiding gossips and bullies--and figuring out where he might belong on a campus with so few students of color. As difficult as navigating relationships with peers might be, teachers are an even greater provocation. Jordan's homeroom teacher can't distinguish one African American student from another, repeatedly using the wrong names; a white administrator mistakes the algebra teacher--a 14-year RAD faculty veteran--for a coach because both happen to be African American; the librarian can only suggest stereotypical titles to black students.

Art helps Jordan survive. His sketchbook is filled with daily experiences, his sensitive interpretations far more astute than his tween years would indicate. He shrewdly depicts his bus commute from Washington Heights to posh RAD as a code-switching exercise: he boards wearing a hoodie and sunglasses to "try to look tough"; by Inwood, he "can lose the hood," but won't dare smile; in Kingsbridge, he discards the shades and breaks out his sketchbook as "the public school kids get off"; by Riverdale, it's no hoodie, no shades, not even his sketchbook as the other passengers (including an arms-crossed policeman) overtly watch him. He's rightfully "exhausted" by the time he reaches RAD. Between way more homework than he's ever had before, playing sports he's never tried and making new friends while holding on to his neighborhood buddies, Jordan still manages to make his art, play plenty of video games and grow into being a "new kid."

Award-winning author/illustrator Jerry Craft, creator of the Mama's Boyz syndicated comic strip, confronts elitism, microaggression, racism, socioeconomic disparity and white privilege in a familiar middle-grade setting. Beyond Jordan's struggles, Craft also accentuates the many assumptions we all make about one another, regardless of background: "Try not to, you know, judge," Liam repeatedly asks of Jordan. Presented in predominantly full-color, richly saturated panels, Craft distinguishes Jordan's sketchbook entries in black-and-white pencil drawings, their stark simplicity underscoring their uncomplicated wisdom. Craft's messaging leans toward heavy-handed, but his preteen audiences will undoubtedly recognize and empathize with Craft's memorable cast. --Terry Hong, Smithsonian BookDragon

Shelf Talker: Although Jordan wants to go to art school, his parents send him to seventh grade at an elite private school instead.


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