Also published on this date: Friday, January 4, 2019: Maximum Shelf: Run Away

Shelf Awareness for Friday, January 4, 2019


HarperCollins: The Good Egg by Jory John, illustrated by Pete Oswald

Bloomsbury Publishing: The Storm Keeper's Island by Catherine Doyle

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers: How High the Moon by Karyn Parsons

Shadow Mountain: Healing Hearts (Proper Romance Western) by Sarah M. Eden

Doubleday Books: Southern Lady Code: Essays by Helen Ellis

Andrews McMeel Publishing: Lupin Leaps in: A Breaking Cat News Adventure by Georgia Dunn

Beacon Press: In Memoriam: Mary Oliver 1935 - 2019

Find Bloomsbury at Winter Institute in Albuquerque - Request an ARC!

Quotation of the Day

Indie Resolution: 'Become More Necessary to More People"

"My 2019 resolutions for my own business include continuing to improve our margins through higher-profit non-book items, taking smarter advantage of publisher offers, selling more paid memberships, and creatively programming paid workshops and classes in our spaces. My resolutions for the ABA board are to continue to focus on elevating the indie channel and to remind publishers why we are a necessary part of the current publishing ecosystem. I'm hoping that, along with ABA staff, we can find new ways to spread the indie message wider and stronger and become more necessary to more people."

--Christine Onorati, owner of WORD Bookstores in Brooklyn, N.Y., and Jersey City, N.J. Bookselling This Week compiled a list of New Year's resolutions from ABA board members. Check them out here.

Disney-Hyperion: Book Hog by Greg Pizzoli


News

Spark Books Opens in Aspinwall, Pa.

Spark Books, a 500-square-foot shop that features books for children "who are just learning their alphabet and extends up to those grabbing young adult titles," opened in October at 14 Brilliant Ave. in Aspinwall, Pa., the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported.

Originally from Maine, owner Adriene Rister attended the University of Pittsburgh's Graduate School of Public Health and sees her mission in both fields as bettering the community: "In a way, I like to think of this as part of public health. Research has shown that kids are dealing with depression and anxiety more and more. A bookstore should be a community hub, a place to gather around literacy and education, and a place to teach our kids about different worlds, about empathy, about different cultures. It's so important to get books into kids' hands, to open up worlds for them."

The bookstore's space is flexible, with movable center tables for events and activities. "I wanted this to be a multipurpose space," Rister said, adding that in launching a new bookstore she "took a big leap of faith. It was the marriage of the public health part of me with the book lover--what would that look like to provide another place for caregivers and kids to come and hang out. To have a safe place for all people to read and play. Literacy is so important, as is what we can teach our kids through books and learning to discuss new ideas."


Rick Riordan Present: Aru Shah and the Song of Death (Pandava #2) by Roshani Chokshi


Crystal Books and Gifts in Colo. to Close

Crystal Books and Gifts, Grand Junction, Colo., will close after 32 years in business because owner Cheryl Lucas is retiring. In the coming weeks, the store's inventory and fixtures will be sold and the business officially shuttered.

"Over three decades ago, my late husband, Jim Lucas, and I opened Crystal Books and Gifts with the quote from [Richard Bach's] Illusions: 'To bring anything into your life, imagine it's already there.' It has been a wonderful journey but it is time to re-imagine that quote for the next chapter in my life. I have chosen to retire to be able to spend more time with my new husband, grandchildren, their parents, family and friends. I appreciate all of you for your support and friendship for the past 32 years and I hope you will take a few moments to stop in so that I may personally say thank you."


Graywolf Press at Winter Institute 14 in Albuquerque - Click for more info


HugoBooks' Pop-Up in Amesbury, Mass., Fails Holiday Test

 

HugoBooks' Amesbury pop-up

HugoBooks has closed the pop-up bookshop that opened in Amesbury, Mass., just before Thanksgiving to test the potential for a permanent storefront in the town.

John Hugo, who also owns bookstores in Beverly, Marblehead and Andover, along with the Book Rack in Newburyport, told the Daily News: "We gave it a shot. It was kind of eye opening. I love the community, I love the people, the breweries and the restaurants. But there is just not enough walking traffic Monday through Thursday.... Amesbury is really very quiet. I wouldn't say dead but it is close to it."

Friday and Saturday were the best days for the pop-up, but sales dropped significantly on Sunday. "I know I could double the sales if I went full time, but I wasn't anywhere near where I wanted to be," Hugo said. "I was at 10% of what sales were doing at say, the Book Rack. So, even if I made the inventory 10 times bigger, I didn't have the people coming in.... The people that were coming in were great and buying, and that was great and the conversion rate was good when they would come in."


G.P. Putnam's Sons: Someone Knows by Lisa Scottoline


Shelf and PAMA Host Golden Vik Awards

For years, Shelf Awareness has presented our advertisers with the most-clicked-on ads and analyzed what qualities made them stand out. This year, we're going a step farther and honoring the folks who make great book advertising happen. With the Publishers Advertising & Marketing Association, this coming Tuesday, January 8, we're hosting the first Golden Vik Awards, honoring the best of the more than 4,000 ads that we ran last year. The event starts at 6 p.m. at Tanner Smith's Winona Room, 204 W. 55th St. in New York City. You do not have to be a PAMA member to attend the awards; you only have to care about great advertising and marketing. There are a few seats remaining, and we hope you can join us (and also learn why they are named the Golden Viks!). For tickets, click here.


Amazon to Open First Mississippi Fulfillment Center

Amazon plans to open its first fulfillment center in Mississippi. The 554,000-square-foot facility will be located in Marshall County, just southeast of Memphis, Tenn.

John Felton, Amazon's v-p of global customer fulfillment, said: "We appreciate the state and local elected leaders who have supported Amazon's entrance into Mississippi and we look forward to providing great job opportunities and an exceptional customer experience."

Governor Phil Bryant noted that "Amazon's presence demonstrates to industry leaders around the globe that Mississippi has what it takes for companies like Amazon to remain competitive and efficiently reach their consumers from our attractive location in the Southeast U.S."


Obituary Note: Brian Garfield

Brian Garfield, award-winning author, screenwriter and film producer, died December 29. He was 79. After publishing his first title, Range Justice, when he was 18, Garfield went on to write more than 70 books--westerns, mysteries and nonfiction. Nineteen films are based on his writings, including Death Wish. His violence-free and Edgar Award-winning novel Hopscotch was written in response to the vigilantism of Death Wish.

"Each book is like a different course in school," he said. "I really don't want to take the same course again and again. If the writer gets bored, heaven help the reader."

Garfield is the only person to have been president of both the Western Writers of America and the Mystery Writers of America. More than 20 million copies of his books were printed worldwide and translated into many foreign languages. His book The Thousand-Mile War: World War II in Alaska and the Aleutians was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in nonfiction.

In a tribute on its blog, Mysterious Press wrote: "We're very sad to share the news [about] author Brian Garfield... Brian was a fantastic writer and we were honored to publish an extensive portion of his backlist."


Notes

'How to Open an Independent Bookstore"

"What does it take to open a bookstore?" Forbes magazine "asked the owners of four recently opened independent bookstores about their path to becoming booksellers.... Is it as easy as simply loving books? (Spoiler alert: No.) Yet many are choosing to take the literary entrepreneurship leap, often as their first business endeavor."

"It was most important to be in the right spot," said Dan Brewster of Prologue Bookshop, Columbus, Ohio. "That was basically the only thing I couldn't adjust later if needed. Probably half of the year-long preparation process was spent on scouting locations, talking to landlords and real estate agents, and eventually negotiating and signing a lease."

Before opening on November 24, Ally Kirkpatrick of Old Town Books, Alexandria, Va., spent 10 months sketching out ideas, visiting other independent bookstores and "daydreaming about the shop to see if it was what I really wanted to pursue.... I joined the American Booksellers Association and started working with a designer on the website. I got the business plan and financials together with the help of a counselor at the Alexandria Small Business Development Center."

All of the new owners cited bookselling community peers as excellent resources for learning about the industry: "The strongest advice I've been given, by the most profitable and enduring bookstores across the country, is to buy a building," said Alsace Walentine of Tombolo Books, St. Petersburg, Fla. "The next best option is to find a philanthropic landlord who understands that to succeed, you need affordable rent. Negotiate for a percentage lease to give you some security and predictability and to ensure that your landlord has your best interests at heart."

Miranda Atkins of A Little Bookish, Ooltewah, Tenn., "emphasized that wanting to open a store isn't enough; you also have to make your potential customers want you in the community too. She urges others considering this path to ask what they can offer that will be unique to your shop," Forbes wrote.

"You want your customers to have a reason to come to you over a bigger, potentially cheaper resource," she said. "You'll need them to see the value in supporting a local business, and you'll need them to fall in love with your shop so that they will want to come back again and again."


National Book Network Adds Three Publishers

National Book Network is now distributing the following three publishers:

Common Deer Press, founded in 2016, which publishes middle-grade, young adult and adult literature in many genres.

Riverbend Publishing, Helena, Mont., founded in 2001 by Chris Cauble, which publishes regional history, natural history, guidebooks, memoirs, and photographic gift books and specializes in books about national parks and the Northern Rocky Mountains. It publishes six to eight titles per year and has a backlist of 100 titles.

Waterford Press, which for more than 25 years has published reference guides for wildlife identification, outdoor recreation, travel and safety, and survival skills covering all 50 states and a growing number of international destinations.


Personnel Changes at HMH; Dutton; Sourcebooks

At Houghton Mifflin Harcourt:

Samantha Simon has joined the company as associate marketing manager for Lifestyle.  She previously worked at Coaction Public Relations as digital content manager.

Anna Ravanelle has joined the company as publicity assistant for Books for Young Readers. She previously was an intern at the company.

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Emily Canders has been promoted to publicity manager at Dutton. She was previously senior publicist.

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Andrea Concaildi has joined Sourcebooks as marketing associate, e-commerce.



Media and Movies

Media Heat: Fresh Air Remembers Amos Oz

Today:
Fresh Air: The show remembers author Amos Oz, who died last week, and features excerpts from three interviews with him that originally aired in 1988, 1991 and 2004.


On Stage: The Notebook

The Notebook, the bestselling novel by Nicholas Sparks that was adapted into a 2004 movie, "is headed to Broadway as a musical, with playwright and This Is Us supervising producer Bekah Brunstetter writing the book and 'Girls Chase Boys' hit-maker Ingrid Michaelson handling music and lyrics," Deadline reported.

"I am thrilled to work with Bekah and Ingrid in order to make The Notebook a reality on Broadway," said Sparks. "They are amazingly talented, and obviously, the story is near and dear to my heart."

Kevin McCollum and Kurt Deutsch will produce in association with Sparks. Additional creative team members and a production timeline for the musical will be announced at a later date, Deadline noted.

"When I first heard about The Notebook potentially being turned into a musical, I was instantly drawn to the idea," said Brunstetter. "I was sent a few songs Ingrid had already written for it, and that week, I spent my drives to and from work car-listening, memorizing, imagining the story unfold with music, imagining how I might layer worlds, dramatize memory, and before I even knew that I had to write the book for this, it was already starting to happen in my head."

Michaelson commented: "I have loved the movie and the story for so many years now that the idea of turning it into a musical overwhelmed me.... I actually started writing that very night of the first meeting, before I even had the job! I cannot wait for the world to hear these characters come to life in a musical way."

In a joint statement, McCollum and Deutsch said the "creative process works best when the material finds the artist, and that's exactly what happened with Nicholas Sparks's novel, The Notebook. From day one, Ingrid and Bekah have had a clear vision for the show, and even at this early stage, it has proven to be an exceptionally exciting and fruitful collaboration."


Books & Authors

Reading with... Thomas Kohnstamm

photo: Lucien Knuteson

Thomas Kohnstamm's debut novel, the dark comedy Lake City, will be released by Counterpoint January 8, 2019. His memoir, Do Travel Writers Go to Hell?, was recently chosen as one of Outside magazine's favorite road books and is in development as a feature film at Vice. He lives in the same Seattle house he grew up in, only now with his wife and two children.

On your nightstand now:

I've just started reading The Intuitionist by Colson Whitehead for my book club. There are four of us in the book club: one in SF, one in Dallas, one in Panama and me in Seattle. We have drinks and talk about books on Google Hangouts--it's pretty great. I'm about to finish Ottessa Moshfegh's My Year of Rest and Relaxation. I appreciate the fact that she doesn't go too far out of her way to make the protagonist sympathetic. I am also reading Vacationland by John Hodgman. He is effortlessly hilarious about many often banal aspects of adulthood, including money and homeownership.

Favorite book when you were a child:

I grew up on Roald Dahl and MAD magazine.

Your top five authors:

This is a hard one for me, but here are some writers whom I really respect and come back to their work. Jonathan Evison. He's a universe away from MFA programs and being precious, over-descriptive or pretentious. His work makes a statement that good stories, even fiction, should be for everyone. Zadie Smith. She's less than a month older than me, which makes me feel bad about myself, but such is life. Junot Díaz, Gary Shteyngart and Jennifer Egan are other favorites.

Book you've faked reading:

I faked reading (or skimmed, at best) a bunch of books from middle school through grad school--like a reasonable percentage of them. I enjoy reading for pleasure but am not good at reading when someone assigns it to me.

Book you're an evangelist for:

I love J.M. Coetzee's clean writing style and have recommended Disgrace as a starting point to a number of friends. I'm also a fan of the publishing industry satire How I Became a Famous Novelist by Steve Hely. It's kind of an absurd proto-version of Less by Andrew Sean Greer (also highly recommended).

Book you've bought for the cover:

Vacationland by John Hodgman. The minimal cover design meets retro tourist poster vibe hooked me in some subconscious fashion.

Book you hid from your parents:

I collected the comic series Vigilante for a bit when I was about eight to 10 or so, and remember being so shocked by some of the gnarly sexual violence in a later issue that I hid it away from both my parents and myself.

Book that changed your life:

Ask the Dust by John Fante. That book, more than any other, convinced me to aspire to write novels. I've probably reread it more than any other book.

Favorite line from a book:

It's a popular choice but hard to beat for an opener: "Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendía was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice." --from One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez

Five books you'll never part with:

I have a bit of the collector gene. My office is crammed with Kenner Star Wars figures, Garbage Pail Kids, M.U.S.C.L.E. Things, VHS tapes, the Beastmaster posters, classic Adidas, you name it. And I like to keep every book that I've read cover-to-cover and enjoyed. Even seeing the spine of a book in my bookshelf can take me back to the point in life when I read it. After I die, someone is going to get stuck with a big yard sale.

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

There are a handful of books that I re-read for inspiration. But, in general, I am focused on getting to even 1% of the stuff that I want to read.

When you read:

One of the great curses and blessings of my life is that I have trouble going to sleep. I frequently feel like crap in the morning, but I also get quite a few hours of quiet time after the rest of my family is asleep--almost every night. My nightstand is out of control. In the earlier "nightstand" question, I think I mentioned about a 10th of the books and magazines and random newspaper sections on my nightstand and the surrounding floor. Fortunately, my wife is a heavy sleeper and doesn't mind if I keep my light on.


Book Review

Review: The Collected Schizophrenias: Essays

The Collected Schizophrenias: Essays by Esmé Weijun Wang (Graywolf Press, $16 paperback, 224p., 9781555978273, February 5, 2019)

Esmé Weijun Wang, author of the novel The Border of Paradise, was diagnosed with bipolar-type schizoaffective disorder in 2013. This diagnosis, which replaced her longtime diagnosis of bipolar disorder, explained the periodic symptoms of psychosis, such as hallucinations and delusions, that she first began experiencing years before as a student at Yale. Wang found some comfort in her diagnosis (it provided "a framework--a community, a lineage"). She also understood--from her own experience and from her years working as a lab researcher at Stanford--that its diagnostic criteria are inadequate in capturing the complexity, contradictions and the lived experience of schizoaffective disorder or another of "the schizophrenias."

"To read the DSM-5 definition of my felt experience is to be cast far from the horror of psychosis and unbridled mood; it shrink-wraps the bloody circumstance with objectivity until the words are colorless," Wang writes.

The Collected Schizophrenias is Wang's attempt to do what the DSM-5--the "clinical bible" of mental disorders--cannot. In 13 remarkably well-researched, intimately detailed essays, Wang guides readers on a tour of her own psychological and emotional terrain, grounded in the clinical and cultural context that has shaped it. 

The essays range from the investigative to the meditative to the confessional--most of them all three at once. She examines the connections between mental illness, creativity, spirituality and the occult without resorting to romanticizing or cliché. She discusses her ambivalence about using her style and education to differentiate herself from others with her diagnosis. She illuminates the failures of the higher education system and the medical establishment properly to care for mentally ill people, drawing on her own traumatic experiences of stigmatization and involuntary hospitalization. And she discusses her complex feelings about heredity, fertility and motherhood in "The Choice of Children," a particularly affecting essay about her experience as a counselor at a camp for children with bipolar disorder.

Though Wang writes from a highly educated, keenly analytical point of view, there is no academic distance or coldness between her and the page. In fact, some of the essays--like "Perdition Days," about her experience of a rare and terrifying delusion--are so vivid and intensely personal they are difficult to read.

Near the end of the collection, after recounting the frustrations of dealing with her compounding diagnoses of PTSD and Lyme disease, Wang says that she is mostly stable these days, though she doesn't think she'll ever be free of "the schizophrenias."

"They have been with me too long, I think, to be obliterated, unlike these more recent ailments, which feel like part of the wrong narrative, and make me wonder how many different types of sick girl I can be," she writes.

Wang's search for unity may be elusive. She is many different types of "sick girl," and there are many different "schizophrenias"--but her essay collection organizes the confusion, terror and complexity of her experience into an imperfectly cohesive, profoundly illuminating whole. --Hannah Calkins, writer and editor in Washington, D.C.

Shelf Talker: In 13 well-researched and moving essays, a deeply insightful and empathetic writer attempts to make sense of her diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder.


Deeper Understanding

Robert Gray: 'What are you optimistic about? Why?'

May we raise a toast to all you wonderful readers. May we shout our appreciation for the writers, those conjurors of words. And to the publishers, large and small, we are grateful for all your attention in bringing the finest and most enlightening of books for our reading pleasure. We are delighted to be your book purveyors and will continue to take part in the age-old alchemy of joining readers and books. To 2019! --Otto Book Store, Williamsport, Pa., in a New Year's Day Facebook post

At Sherman's Books

"What are you optimistic about? Why?"

These seem like excellent questions to begin any new year, especially when posed by a lifelong fatalist during turbulent times. In fact, I first saw them paired in 2007 as the "Edge Annual Question" (I know, two questions, but who's counting?). If you visited the Edge World Question Center then--and now, as it turns out--you found 160 responses from "a who's who of interesting and important world-class thinkers."

Among them was bestselling author Walter Isaacson, who deftly turned early 21st-century paranoia regarding the future of publishing into a mischievous, prescient fable: "I am very optimistic about print as a technology. Words on paper are a wonderful information storage, retrieval, distribution, and consumer product.... Imagine if we had been getting our information delivered digitally to our screens for the past 400 years. Then some modern Gutenberg had come up with a technology that was able to transfer these words and pictures onto pages that could be delivered to our doorstep, and we could take them to the backyard, the bath, or the bus. We would be thrilled with this technological leap forward, and we would predict that someday it might replace the Internet."

More than a decade later, a variation of this process is happening. For example, on Wednesday the Bookseller reported that the print market in the U.K. "has grown in value for a fourth year running, with 2018 showing a marginal volume increase too." This is consistent with statistics from other countries. "We are buying books--especially the kind with physical pages--and we’re doing so, increasingly, in well-loved indie bookstores," Quartz wrote last week.

At River Bend Bookshop

As a Shelf Awareness editor, I often--by no means always, of course. Pollyanna I ain't--get optimistic readings when I check on the book trade's vital signs daily.

This even includes actual signs, like those posted recently by Main Street Books, Mansfield, Ohio; A Great Good Place for Books, Oakland, Calif.; River Bend Bookshop, Glastonbury, Conn.; Solid State Books, Washington, D.C.; Sherman's Books & Stationery, Boothbay Harbor, Maine; and Run for Cover Bookstore & Café, San Diego, Calif.

I'm optimistic when I see that the Writer's Block Bookstore & Café, Anchorage, Alaska, celebrated the new year and its first anniversary with a Facebook post from January 4, 2018: "Before the books, the tables, the dishes, the art, the words, the people."

Holiday season sales floor rush humor from London's Kirkdale Bookshop also sparks optimism:

Haven't tidied away any of our Christmas cards. Slack.
Customer: "This will sound weird,"
Me: thinks "yeah, probably"
Customer: "but have you got any Christmas cards?"
Me: gestures "Yep, we just do it all year long"
Turned it round, see
Retail is detail

At Solid State Books

Monitoring the heartbeat of the world of books in media coverage has sparked increasing optimism lately as well. For example:

In her New Year's resolution shared with Bookselling This Week, Angela Maria Spring, ABA board member and owner of Duende District Books in Washington, D.C., said: "In 2019, I will continue to build Duende District locations and event programming with my new partner, Nicole Capó Martínez. Nicole will take over D.C. operations when I relocate to my home state of New Mexico in January, where I'll be launching our first pop-up collaborations in Albuquerque. This is the first step in expanding the Duende experience and model nationwide."

Tim Godfray, executive chairman of the Booksellers Association of the U.K. & Ireland, told the Bookseller: "An e-mail arrived from Pippa, our membership manager. I'm not at liberty to divulge the details, but we will have a positive story to tell on bookshops for the second year in a row. This is no mean feat, after so many years of decline, and it's a sign of the renewed confidence in the sector that new, energetic and creative people are entering it.... We believe the tide is continuing to turn in favor of printed books and bookshops."

Digital life got some bad press in a recent New York Times op-ed ("In Search of Lost Screen Time"), which reported that the "average reader, reading at a speed of 280 words per minute, would take approximately 71½ hours to read the 1.3 million words in Marcel Proust's In Search of Lost Time. With 1,460 hours repurposed from device usage, a reader would get through the books almost 20 times. With the $1,380 in device-free savings, you could spend the weekend in Illiers-Combray, the setting of Proust's first madeleine-soaked memories, and see if he got it right."

The National Retail Federation predicted that the "challenge for retailers in introducing more experiential elements is avoiding 'Instagrammable' gimmicks and keeping it authentic: Values like sustainability and transparency are becoming key product features. In a survey, nearly 60% of consumers said they would stop shopping one of their favorite brands or retailers if they found out the company's values didn't match their own." Indie booksellers weren't just ahead of that curve, they held the pen that started sketching it.

What am I optimistic about? Book people, and the world of words they create, share and fiercely protect. Why? Because I'm a book person, too.

--Robert Gray, contributing editor (Column archives at Fresh Eyes Now)

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