Shelf Awareness for Thursday, January 10, 2019

Margaret K. McElderry Books: Tender Beasts by Liselle Sambury

Scholastic Press: Heroes: A Novel of Pearl Harbor by Alan Gratz

Flatiron Books: Anita de Monte Laughs Last by Xochitl Gonzalez

Peachtree Publishers: King & Kayla and the Case of the Downstairs Ghost (King & Kayla) by Dori Hillestad Butler, illustrated by Nancy Meyers

Doubleday Books: The Husbands by Holly Gramazio

Quotation of the Day

Indies Are an 'Investment that Our Towns Should Be Making'

"But what I am is a former bookseller who now spends my days talking about what it takes to make our communities financially stronger. As someone who's been a student of cities for years--as well as someone who's spent a 13-hour day managing a signing line for Chuck Palahniuk--the longer I study, the more I believe that independent bookstores have a lot to teach us. They are a case study in the power of small, incrementally-built retail to anchor our local economies and social communities. And in my years since stepping out from behind the counter, I've come to believe something even more radical: if we want our places to be strong, third places like independent bookstores are exactly the kind of investment that our towns should be making. And we should be making them way more often."

--Kea Wilson, communications manager for Strong Towns, in a piece headlined "How a Local Bookstore Can Make Your Town Richer--In More Than One Way" (Wilson is a former bookseller who worked for Left Bank Books, St. Louis, Mo.)

Holiday House: The Five Impossible Tasks of Eden Smith by Tom Llewellyn; The Selkie's Daughter by Linda Crotta Brennan


IBD 2019 Catalog Revealed; On Sale January 15

The official catalog of exclusive items for Independent Bookstore Day 2019 has been revealed and will go live on Tuesday, January 15, on Edelweiss and the IBD website. Booksellers will have until Friday, February 1, to place orders.

Some of this year's exclusive adult items include a We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie utility pouch, a Charles Bukowski Uncensored vinyl album, enamel pins with the slogan Fight Evil, Read Books, a Susan Sontag-inspired graffiti stencil, literary tea towels and more. Children's items include an exclusive, signed IBD edition of Ada Twist and the Perilous Pants by Andrea Beaty, signed prints from author Maggie Stiefvater and a "mini-book" featuring two short stories by Wing of Fire author Tui T. Sutherland.

The fifth annual Independent Bookstore Day will be held on Saturday, April 27. More information can be found here, and booksellers attending Winter Institute in Albuquerque, N.Mex., later this month will be able to ask questions, place orders and share ideas at an IBD panel.

Amistad Press: The Survivors of the Clotilda: The Lost Stories of the Last Captives of the American Slave Trade by Hannah Durkin

Governor Snubs 'One Book, One Nebraska' Author

Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts has snubbed author Ted Genoways, whose book This Blessed Earth was chosen for the 2019 One Book, One Nebraska reading program. The Associated Press reported that the Republican governor, who refused to sign a proclamation honoring the author, admitted that he hasn't read the book, but "described Genoways as 'political activist' who has been critical of national leaders. Ricketts says he only wants to sign proclamations for those who seek to unite residents."

Genoways "has written critically about President Donald Trump, the Keystone XL pipeline and Nebraska's all-GOP congressional delegation, but says he has also questioned Obama administration policies," the AP wrote. This Blessed Earth chronicles a Nebraska farm family struggling to stay afloat in the midst of shifting trade policies and climate change. His 2014 book, The Chain, examined problems caused by major slaughterhouses.

"I think it's really disappointing and shocking that the governor would say he doesn't want the people of Nebraska to hear from a farm family that's been confronting major issues, and to hear their thoughts as they work through them and try to keep the farm in the family for the next generation," Genoways told the Omaha World-Herald.

Francie & Finch Bookshop in Lincoln shared a link to the AP article on its Facebook page, noting: "Hmmm... Please come to the shop this Saturday, 1/12 at 4 p.m. Ted Genoways will be here to discuss his book This Blessed Earth, the 2019 One Book One Nebraska selection." After the governor indicated he wouldn't sign a proclamation, the store ordered more copies of the book.

CFO Shift at Indigo Books & Music

Hugues Simard, CFO of Indigo Books & Music, is stepping down from his position, effective February 5. He will be replaced by Craig Loudon, currently executive v-p and chief supply chain officer.

Simard joined the company in 2017 and earlier held executive financial and strategy positions at Videotron and Quebecor Media. Loudon joined the company in 2014 and has held several positions in finance and supply chain management.

Indigo CEO Heather Reisman commented: "Hugues has been a valuable contributor and wonderful friend to the Indigo team during his tenure and we wish him well. We are at the same time extremely pleased to promote Craig into the role as CFO."

Feature: Booksellers Navigate Rising Rents, Part 4

Our series examining how independent bookstores around the country have navigated rising rents, lease negotiations and relationships with landlords continues throughout the week; see previous installments here.

John Evans and Alison Reid, owners of DIESEL, a bookstore in Brentwood, Calif., have had several locations throughout the Bay Area and Southern California over the years. Evans reported that out of the eight leases they've held, the best arrangements have come from situations where landlords sought them out in the hopes of bringing an independent bookstore into one of their properties. In particular, Evans pointed to the lease for the Oakland store (which they sold in 2017 to then-manager Brad Johnson and is now named East Bay Booksellers) as "ideal." It was a "straight percentage" of the store's revenue, plus a little bit for building maintenance.

With that sort of rental agreement, Evans said, "You're truly a partner with your landlord." In a good year, the landlord will make a lot more money, but in a bad year, the bookstore has to pay a lot less and has the flexibility to weather unexpected storms. Said Evans: "If they dig up the street, you're not caught with a high rent."

While Evans and Reid have had good relationships with landlords in Oakland, Larkspur and elsewhere, they've also had some decidedly negative experiences. In 1989, they opened a store in Emeryville, Calif., in a public market that Evans described as similar to Seattle's famous Pike Place Market. Evans explained that the public market, which was its own entity separate from the landlord but sublet spaces to vendors, had gone bankrupt around the time that he and Reid had signed their lease. They were not told, however, until after they had signed and occupied the space, which, Evans noted, was "fraud." They managed to stay for five years, and finally left in May 1994.

In Southern California, however, Evans and Reid experienced what he described as a "nightmare scenario" with their first Malibu store. For the first four years of the store's tenure, he recalled, their landlord was a major Los Angeles developer and property owner who, while not "benevolent," charged them a reasonable rent. Things began to unravel after that landlord sold the property to a "gigantic" hedge fund. Over the next few years, the property changed hands several more times, and in each of those cases, Evans said, the landlords were essentially "real estate speculators," with no ties to the community or interest in how their projects affected it.

"It seemed like their motivation was to grind anyone with a low lease out," said Evans. "They did just brutal, horrible things. And they were not who we signed the lease with." Evans and Reid endured four years of "legal and store hell," during which they were actually sued by their landlords over lease renewal, before finally closing the store in February 2011. In November of that year they reopened in a space in the Malibu Country Mart, but by December 2013 that store was up for sale.

"That was just a bad location," Evans said. Despite having a pretty good relationship with that landlord, they simply could not do the sort of business needed to pay the rent he wanted. "In his mind he was giving us a break. But by any other measure it was unsustainable."

When asked what advice he'd give to someone looking to open a bookstore or navigating lease negotiations for the first time, Evans recommended using ABACUS data and other "nuts and bolts" information to explain the bookselling business model to people like bankers and landlords who may have nothing but misconceptions about the business. And as they're explaining the reality of the situation, booksellers can also emphasize why they're valuable as anchor tenants and community builders

He also pointed to two important things to watch out for with leases themselves: one is making sure there's a way to get out of the lease, and the other is cost-of-living increases. Evans noted that often landlords will try to "throw in" a 3%-5% increase every year, but it "shouldn't be over 3%."

Asked if there were any last things he'd add about the subject, Evans replied: "Watch out for hedge funds." --Alex Mutter

Obituary Note: Rosalyn Terborg-Penn

Historian Rosalyn Terborg-Penn, "who helped bring to light the long-suppressed role of black women in the women's suffrage movement," died December 25, the New York Times reported. She was 77. Terborg-Penn was the author of seven books, most notably African American Women in the Struggle for the Vote, 1850-1920 (1998), "one of the first book-length examinations of black women in the suffrage movement, and it challenged the existing narrative that was dominated, and framed, by white activists like Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton."

"She committed the first decades of her career to the deep research that was required to pull back the curtain, dispel the myths and otherwise challenge the story about the history of women and the vote," said Martha S. Jones, a history professor at Johns Hopkins University.

While bringing to life this neglected aspect of American history, Terborg-Penn and a few others also established a new field of study. "These are people who literally created the field of African-American women's history, and Dr. Terborg-Penn's writing on suffrage was a critical part of that," Francille Rusan Wilson, national director of the Association of Black Women Historians, observed. Terborg-Penn was a founder of the association in 1979 and its first national director.

Shortly before her death, she attended a meeting of the Association of Black Women Historians, held in Los Angeles, to celebrate its 40th anniversary. "Generations of historians regard her as an important figure in their study and scholarship," said her daughter, Jeanna Penn. "They were so excited to see her. It was like Beyoncé had walked into the room."


Image of the Day: Golden Vik Winners

Tuesday night, Shelf Awareness and the Publishers Advertising & Marketing Association hosted the first annual Golden Vik Awards, honoring the best of the more than 4,000 ads that we ran last year. At the event, with their awards for advertising excellence (l. to r.): Judy Hottensen of Grove Atlantic (Most Clicked GLOW/Galley Love of the Week); Brianna Yamashita of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (Most Clicked Shelf Pro E-blast); Valerie Pierce of Sourcebooks (Most Clicked Shelf for Readers Ad); Shelf Awareness publisher Jenn Risko; Seth Morris of Crown (Most Clicked Consumer E-blast); and Erica Martirano of St. Martin's, standing in for Flatiron's Nancy Trypuc (Most Clicked Shelf Pro Ad).

St. Paul's Red Balloon Bookshop: 'We're Still Here'

In the wake of last week's news that Common Good Books, St. Paul, Minn., was being put up for sale, Holly Weinkauf, owner of the Red Balloon Book Shop, published a letter to the editor in the Pioneer Press reminding readers that her Grand Avenue business is still going strong, despite the uncertainty surrounding Common Good Books and recent closure of another Grand Avenue business, Sixth Chamber used bookshop.

"We read your article about the sale of Common Good Books, and we'd like to assuage any fears that Grand Avenue could be without an independent bookstore. We're still here," she wrote. "Red Balloon Bookshop is an independent bookstore that has been on Grand Avenue for 35 years. We expect to continue selling books, hosting events, and celebrating stories and reading with readers of all ages for many years to come! While we specialize in books and events for young readers and teens, we carry books for all ages, even grown-ups.

"Grand Avenue has always been, and still is, a wonderful place for indie bookstores. Common Good Books and Sixth Chamber have been great neighbors of ours for many years. We hope the right buyer comes along for Common Good Books. Happy reading!"

Personnel Changes at Ten Speed Press

Eleanor Thacher has been promoted to marketing and publicity associate at Ten Speed Press.

PRHPS to Distribute Crooked Lane Books

Penguin Random House Publisher Services will distribute Crooked Lane Books titles, effective September 1.

Founded in 2014, Crooked Lane Books specializes in crime fiction, publishing more than 70 original titles a year. Its mystery, thriller, and suspense novels include well-known authors and brands such as P.J. Tracy and the Sidney Sheldon Estate.

Media and Movies

Movies: Dune

Editor Joe Walker (Widows) will team up again with director Denis Villeneuve "on his passion project, Dune, a retelling of novelist Frank Herbert's sci-fi saga about power, politics, and religion," IndieWire reported. This is their fourth collaboration, following Sicario, Arrival and Blade Runner 2049.

Scheduled to begin shooting in Budapest in March, Dune stars Timothée Chalamet (Beautiful Boy, Call Me By Your Name), Rebecca Ferguson (Mission: Impossible--Fallout) and Dave Bautista (Blade Runner 2049).

"While I was deeply familiar with Arrival and Blade Runner before they were made, sitting next to Denis in the cutting room when he formulated them, on this one, I've rather enjoyed being kept in the dark," said Walker. "For me, there's great synaptic pleasure working within [Villeneuve's] worlds."

This Weekend on Book TV: Senator Kamala Harris

Book TV airs on C-Span 2 this weekend from 8 a.m. Saturday to 8 a.m. Monday and focuses on political and historical books as well as the book industry. The following are highlights for this coming weekend. For more information, go to Book TV's website.

Saturday, January 12
6:15 p.m. Tarleton Gillespie, author of Custodians of the Internet: Platforms, Content Moderation, and the Hidden Decisions That Shape Social Media (Yale University Press, $30, 9780300173130).

6:45 p.m. Senator Kamala Harris, author of The Truths We Hold: An American Journey (Penguin Press, $30, 9780525560715), at Politics & Prose in Washington, D.C. (Re-airs Sunday at 10 p.m.)

8 p.m. Jeremy N. Smith, author of Breaking and Entering: The Extraordinary Story of a Hacker Called 'Alien' (Eamon Dolan/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $28, 9780544903210).

9 p.m. Seth Blumenthal, author of Children of the Silent Majority: Young Voters and the Rise of the Republican Party, 1968-1980 (University Press of Kansas, $39.95, 9780700627011), at Politics & Prose.

10 p.m. Reniqua Allen, author of It Was All a Dream: A New Generation Confronts the Broken Promise to Black America (Bold Type Books, $28, 9781568585864). (Re-airs Sunday at 9 p.m. and Monday at 12 a.m. and 3 a.m.)

Sunday, January 13
11 p.m. Garrett Peck, author of The Great War in America: World War I and Its Aftermath (Pegasus, $29.95, 9781681778785), at Politics & Prose.

Books & Authors

Awards: PNBA; Story Prize

The winners of the 2019 Pacific Northwest Book Awards, sponsored by the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association, are:

  • A False Report: A True Story of Rape in America by T. Christian Miller and Ken Armstrong (Crown)
  • Washington Black by Esi Edugyan (Knopf)
  • Buzz: The Nature and Necessity of Bees by Thor Hanson (Basic Books)
  • Blood Water Paint by Joy McCullough (Dutton Books)
  • Rising Out of Hatred: The Awakening of a Former White Nationalist by Eli Saslow (Doubleday)
  • Libba: The Magnificent Musical Life of Elizabeth Cotton by Laura Veirs, illustrated by Tatyana Fazlalizadeh (Chronicle Books)


The finalists for the 15th annual Story Prize, honoring an outstanding collection of short fiction, are:

  • A Lucky Man by Jamel Brinkley (Graywolf Press)
  • Your Duck Is My Duck by Deborah Eisenberg (Ecco)
  • Florida by Lauren Groff (Riverhead Books)

The winner will be announced at the Story Prize's annual award event at the New School in New York City on Wednesday, March 6. That night, the finalists will read from and discuss their work with Story Prize director Larry Dark, after which founder Julie Lindsey will announce the winner and present that author with $20,000 and an engraved silver bowl. The runners-up will each receive $5,000. The Graduate Writing Program at the New School co-sponsors the event.

Dark and Lindsey selected the three finalists from 108 submissions. The three judges who will select this year's winner are author Jo Ann Beard; Washington Post book critic and feature writer Ron Charles; and Veronica Santiago Liu, founder and general coordinator of the collective that operates Word Up Community Bookshop/Librería Comunitaria in New York City and a member of the American Booksellers Association's Diversity Task Force. She was earlier a contributing editor at Seven Stories Press.

Reading Group Choices' Most Popular December Books

The two most popular books in December at Reading Group Choices were Milkman: A Novel by Anna Burns (Graywolf Press) and At the Wolf's Table: A Novel by Rosella Postorino, translated by Leah Janeczko (Flatiron Books).

Attainment: New Titles Out Next Week

Selected new titles appearing next Tuesday, January 15:

You Can't Go Wrong Doing Right: How a Child of Poverty Rose to the White House and Helped Change the World by Robert J. Brown (Convergent Books, $26, 9781524762780) is the memoir of the businessman and political advisor.

Company of One: Why Staying Small Is the Next Big Thing for Business by Paul Jarvis (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $26, 9781328972354) advocates deliberately small businesses.

The Banished Immortal: A Life of Li Bai (Li Po) by Ha Jin (Pantheon, $28, 9781524747411) is a biography of Tang Dynasty poet Li Bai (701-762), also known as Li Po.

Silence: A Social History of One of the Least Understood Elements of Our Lives by Jane Brox (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $27, 9780544702486) explores quiet and its history.

The Dreamers: A Novel by Karen Thompson Walker (Random House, $27, 9780812994162) finds a California college town beset by a mysterious sleeping sickness.

You Know You Want This: 'Cat Person' and Other Stories by Kristen Roupenian (Gallery/Scout Press, $24.99, 9781982101633) is a collection of short stories.

Hark by Sam Lipsyte (Simon & Schuster, $27, 9781501146060) is satire about an accidental self-help guru.

Last Woman Standing by Amy Gentry (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $25, 9780544962538) is a thriller about two women who team up to take on each other's tormentors.

96 Words for Love by Rachel Roy and Ava Dash (jimmy patterson, $17.95, 9780316477789) is a young adult contemporary retelling of an Indian legend.

The Duchess and Guy: A Rescue-to-Royalty Puppy Love Story by Nancy Furstinger, illus. by Julia Bereciartu (HMH Books for Young Readers, $17.99, 9780358023043) shares in picture book form the story of Meghan Markle's adopted beagle, Guy.

Adèle: A Novel by Leila Slimani (Penguin Books, $16, 9780143132189).

IndieBound: Other Indie Favorites

From last week's Indie bestseller lists, available at, here are the recommended titles, which are also Indie Next Great Reads:

Of Blood and Bone: Chronicles of the One, Book 2 by Nora Roberts (St. Martin's Press, $28.99, 9781250122995). "The time has come for an awakening, and it will not come without pain. The world has been brought down by a virus and it awaits redemption, which only the One can deliver. Fallon Swift is nearly 13 and will soon enter into a time of challenge like none other. She must learn to fight, to gain wisdom, and to understand her future. Will she become the woman she is meant to be before the world outside her farm closes in around her? Of Blood and Bone is both entertaining and insightful, so make yourself cozy, grab a cup of tea, and brace yourself for a good ride." --Linda Bond, Auntie's Bookstore, Spokane, Wash.

Insomnia by Marina Benjamin (Catapult, $18.95, 9781948226059). "I once signed up for a sleep therapy group that was strikingly similar to the one Benjamin attends for her own insomnia in her aptly named book. What was most unsettling was our sleep therapist's insistence that our individual struggles with sleep were neither as exceptional nor as debilitating as we insisted they were. Writing not just about her own experience but that of fellow insomniacs throughout history, Benjamin illustrates that insomnia gifts as much as it robs, and that insomniacs are, in the end, as protective of their sleeplessness as the snippets of rest they manage to steal. Having finished her book, I am happier to belong to this particular clan. To lie awake in solidarity." --Lillian Li, Literati Bookstore, Ann Arbor, Mich.

The Ice House: A Novel by Laura Lee Smith (Grove Press, $17, 9780802128645). "Laura Lee Smith continues to impress with her second novel, The Ice House. It's a lovely story full of heart and wry humor that manages to convey life in all its rich, messy, tragic wonder. Johnny MacKinnon has it good but seems to be on the verge of losing it all. The ice company he runs in Florida is in trouble with OSHA, and then he discovers that he may have a brain tumor. While he is supposed to be taking it easy as he waits to find out the diagnosis, Johnny decides he must try to mend his estranged relationship with his son in Scotland and with the granddaughter he's never met. The result is a touching, funny, heartbreaking ride you won't soon forget." --Cody Morrison, Square Books, Oxford, Miss.

For Ages 4 to 8
I'll Love You Till the Cows Come Home by Kathryn Cristaldi, illustrated by Kristyna Litten (HarperCollins, $17.99, 9780062574206). "'I will love you till the ants march in/ wearing tiny ant hats/ and tiny ant grins/ and birthday cake crumbs on their tiny ant chins./ I will love you till the ants march in.' This silly but deeply heartfelt riff on Guess How Much I Love You is a joyful depiction of steadfast love. It will quickly become your go-to gift for new parents and those you love most, no matter their age." --Sara Grochowski, McLean & Eakin Booksellers, Petoskey, Mich.

For Ages 9 to 12
Charlie Hernández & the League of Shadows by Ryan Calejo (Aladdin, $17.99, 9781534426580). "First and foremost, this is a really fun read. We follow Charlie Hernández during what is probably the worst part of his life: It has been two months since his parents disappeared and his house burned down. Needless to say, things are looking grim, but school has started and provided some sense of normalcy. But that is shattered when he begins growing feathers! And then, all of a sudden, figures and creatures from the stories his abuela always told him start showing up. This sincere and funny story has a lot of heart and deals with myths that are not often given the spotlight. With a personable protagonist and deft writing, Charlie Hernández is perfect for fans of Percy Jackson or the Spiderwick Chronicles, as well as those just wanting to hear a new and different voice in fiction." --Will Bason, BookPeople, Austin, Tex.

For Teen Readers
Four Three Two One by Courtney Stevens (HarperTeen, 9780062398543, $17.99). "Stevens has written an incredibly insightful story about how tragedy divides and connects. Each survivor harbors an internal conflict, including guilt, that they must face head-on. Each character is compelling in their own way as they struggle to come to terms with what happened the fateful day a teenager set off a bomb on their bus. A stunningly smart, terrifyingly realistic novel." --Lauren Nopenz Fairley, Curious Iguana, Frederick, Md.

Book Review

Review: Leading Men

Leading Men by Christopher Castellani (Viking, $27 hardcover, 368p., 9780525559054, February 12, 2019)

From the Italian Riviera of the 1950s, in all its earthy glamour, to the luxurious sanctuary of an aging film star's modern-day Manhattan apartment, Christopher Castellani's Leading Men transports readers across time, place and its characters' aching, flawed hearts.

The novel imagines the real-life relationship between mercurial American playwright Tennessee Williams and his longtime partner, Frank Merlo, an Italian American actor who died of lung cancer in 1963. It also imagines an entirely fictional friendship between Frank, Tennessee and Anja Bloom, a glacially beautiful Swedish actress of Castellani's invention. With grace and wit--and taking respectful liberty with historical truths--Castellani (All This Talk of Love) weaves together multiple timelines, settings and Frank and Anja's oscillating perspectives to tell a moving story of love, loss, memory and regret.

It all begins at a wild party thrown by Truman Capote in Portofino, Italy, in the summer of 1953. Frank, then a young man struggling to define himself against Tennessee's towering persona, is drawn to Anja, an aloof teenage beauty of mysterious origin. Their fateful, fast friendship leads to a summer of wine-soaked dinners, lazy swims and wild drives up and down the coast--as well as dramatic events that alter the courses of their lives.

The story of that summer is filtered through Frank--10 years later, as he dies a slow and lonely death in New York--and through present-day Anja, now in her 80s and living in lavish solitude. She has in her possession Tennessee Williams's last, unpublished play, a clumsy but poignant attempt to reconcile his grief and guilt over Frank's loss. When a new friend--the son of an acquaintance from the summer of '53--learns this, Anja is eventually compelled to reconcile her own grief and guilt.

Literature lovers will enjoy Castellani's rendering of Tennessee Williams and his contemporaries (though they may be skeptical of Castellani's somewhat implausible conjuring of Williams's final work). Nevertheless, Frank Merlo proves to be quietly but equally compelling. Moreover, Anja is such a fascinating, singular character--and her connection to Frank and Tennessee is so palpable and convincing--that readers may find themselves Googling her name to make sure she didn't exist after all. --Hannah Calkins, writer and editor in Washington, D.C.

Shelf Talker: Haunted by nostalgia, memory and regret, Leading Men is a transporting adventure that imagines the decades-long love story between Tennessee Williams, his partner and a Swedish film icon.  

The Bestsellers

Top-Selling Self-Published Titles

The bestselling self-published books last week as compiled by

1. Can't Hurt Me by David Goggins
2. Yours After Dark by Marie Force
3. Elusive Promise (Off the Grid: FBI Series Book 4) by Barbara Freethy
4. Hotshot Doc by R.S. Grey
5. His Package by Penelope Bloom
6. Still Not Yours by Nicole Snow
7. The Protector by R.S. Lively
8. Verity by Colleen Hoover
9. The Secret to Dating Your Best Friend's Sister by Meghan Quinn
10. Accidental Romeo by Nicole Snow

[Many thanks to!]

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