Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Bloom Books: Queen of Myth and Monsters (Adrian X Isolde #2) by Scarlett St. Clair

Bloom Books: Queen of Myth and Monsters (Adrian X Isolde #2) by Scarlett St. Clair

Blue Box Press: A Light in the Flame: A Flesh and Fire Novel by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Irh Press: The Unknown Stigma Trilogy by Ryuho Okawa

Other Press (NY): The Rebel and the Thief by Jan-Philipp Sendker, translated by Imogen Taylor

Holiday House: Welcome to Feral (Frights from Feral) by Mark Fearing

Charlesbridge Publishing: Too-Small Tyson (Storytelling Math) by Janay Brown-Wood, illustrated by Anastasia Williams

Berkley Books: Stone Cold Fox by Rachel Koller Croft


AAP 2018 Sales: Total Down 0.4%; Trade Up 4.6%

Total net book sales in 2018 in the U.S. slipped 0.4%, to $14.5 billion, compared to 2017, representing sales of 1,374 publishers and distributed clients as reported to the Association of American Publishers.

Total trade sales rose 4.6%, to $7.8 billion. Trade hardcovers were up 6.9%, to $3.06 billion, trade paperbacks rose 2.2%, to $2.4 billion. In trade, the only major categories whose sales fell, were e-books, down 3.6%, to $1.01 billion, and mass market, down 6.9%, to $298 million. In trade audio, downloaded audio was a standout, up 37.1%, to $469.3 million, while physical audio dropped 21.5%, to $45.7 million.

All non-trade categories, with the exception of religion--where sales rose 4.5%, to $593.7 million--had down years. K-12 sales fell 4.6%, to $2.7 billion, while higher ed was down 7.2%, to $3.3 billion. Professional books were off 2.7%, to $565.6 million. University presses had the most difficult year, with overall sales down 9.5%, to $50.3 million.

Sales by category 2018 compared to 2017:

Minotaur Books: A World of Curiosities (Chief Inspector Gamache Novel #18) by Louise Penny

Larchmont, N.Y.'s Voracious Reader for Sale

The Voracious Reader, the Larchmont, N.Y., children's bookstore and adjoining teashop, are for sale. Francine Lucidon, who founded the store in 2007, said, "We'll be marking a number of big milestones, both for the store and personally, in the next few months, and the time seems very right to begin a new chapter. I would absolutely love to see the store continue--whether with one buyer or a group--and I would be happy to be available to help guide and connect the new owners as needed."

Lucidon made the announcement at a "Literary Westchester" gathering at the store last week that included authors, illustrators, editors, agents and other publishing people who live in Westchester County. "The store has always been about connecting, connecting kids with books, and authors with readers; connecting with community, and so it seemed fitting to get all these book people connected at one big celebration," Lucidon said. "Aside from the delightful children and families that I will miss seeing on a regular basis, I am so grateful to have gotten to know such talented and creative book people living right here in our own backyard!"

Interested parties can contact Lucidon via e-mail.

GLOW: Sourcebooks Landmark: Clytemnestra by Costanza Casati

The Book Catapult Gets a Little Help from Friends

Seth Marko and Jennifer Powell

Sometimes you need a little help from your friends. On January 27, Seth Marko, co-owner of the Book Catapult in San Diego, Calif., and West Coast sales rep for Ingram Publisher Services, underwent open heart surgery two days after experiencing chest pains during Winter Institute in Albuquerque, N.Mex., the San Diego Tribune reported. With his wife and business partner, Jennifer Powell, by his side and their only full-time employee, Vanessa Diaz, sidelined by the avian flu, the bookstore was forced to close temporarily.

That situation was quickly resolved, however, when the Book Catapult reopened January 30, "staffed by unpaid employees of other bookstores. Ever since, volunteers have been greeting customers, making recommendations, ringing up sales for a rival. Some have even provided childcare for the couple's three-year-old daughter," the Tribune wrote. In addition, IPS has assigned all of Marko's accounts to other sales reps while he is recovering.

"I'm just overwhelmed," said Powell, who runs the bookshop. "Everybody has helped us."

When Scott Ehrig-Burgess, manager of the Library Shop at the city's central library, learned of Marko's operation, he called Powell. "This is not something you need to worry about," he told her, referring to running a business. "Just make sure Seth gets better and be by his side."

Then he made some calls, and was soon joined by a long list of volunteer staffers, including Julie Slavinsky, director of events at Warwick's in La Jolla; Marianne Reiner, owner of Run for Cover in Ocean Beach; Tracy Rutherford, a former Warwick's employee; as well as John Evans and Alison Reid, owners of DIESEL in Brentwood.

"Technically we are competitors," Slavinsky said. "But it's such a close community. We're all people and we're all friends." Evans added: "He's an important part of Southern California book selling. He's just a great guy."

"We are fortunate," Powell said. "Both Seth's mom and my dad have been able to come here. That will enable me to get back to the store next week, maybe part time."

In a Facebook update late last week, Marko noted: "This page is almost always my voice, but this time I have a little more of a personal update to share with you. If you've been in the store over the last couple of weeks, you would not have seen me--and most likely not Jen or Vanessa either. But you would have met an impressive cavalcade of bookselling all-stars who have been filling in.... Thanks to an incredible network of friends and family, the Catapult has rolled on in mine and Jen's absence."

A GoFundMe campaign has been set up to help with some of the medical bills.

Barefoot Books: Save 10%

BookExpo: Children's Book & Author Breakfast Lineup Set

BookExpo's Children's Book & Author Breakfast, which will be held Friday, May 31, at the Javits Center in New York City, will be hosted by Jenna Bush Hager and Barbara Pierce Bush, daughters of former President George W. Bush and former First Lady Laura Bush. This November, they are releasing a picture book version of Sisters First, their 2017 memoir.

Joining them on stage will be Academy Award-winner Lupita Nyong'o (Marvel's Black Panther, 12 Years a Slave) to discuss her debut children's book, Sulwe; Tomi Adeyemi, who will talk about Children of Virtue and Vengeance, the second title in her Legacy of Orïsha trilogy; and Eoin Colfer, author of the Artemis Fowl series, who will discuss his upcoming spin-off novel, The Fowl Twins. In addition, Da Chen, author of Brothers and Colours of the Mountain, will preview his forthcoming work, Girl Under a Red Moon.

"The Children's Book & Author Breakfast draws a huge audience of book lovers looking to discover breakout talent in the world of children's and young adult literature and we are excited to welcome this year's outstanding panelists," said Jennifer Martin, event director of BookExpo. "With an array of unique perspectives and works across multiple genres, this year's speakers are sure to offer a morning of exciting and meaningful conversation, as all of their works examine a variety of traditionally underserved populations."

Ginger Fox: Free Freight and a Free Book Lovers Mug

Wi14: 'Do We Need to Talk?'

At times resembling group therapy, the Winter Institute panel entitled "Do We Need to Talk? Surviving the Political & Cultural Divide with Your Co-Workers" explored how booksellers can best deal with political and cultural differences that sometimes occur between staff members. The panel was moderated by Robert DelCampo, executive director of the Innovation Academy and a professor at the Anderson School of Management at the University of New Mexico.

Two pairs of panelists explored differences they had had when working together. The most striking involved Bradley Graham, co-owner of Politics & Prose, Washington, D.C., and Angela Maria Spring, owner of Duende District, Washington, D.C., and Albuquerque, N.Mex. Both are ABA board members, and Spring is a former P&P staff member.

The two focused on a book display that P&P created in 2016 in reaction to a series of police shootings of unarmed black men. The key issue was what the display would include and what its title would be. Spring and other staffers wanted to call it "Black Lives Matter."

Graham--who emphasized that as a bookstore owner, he gives staff members "a considerable degree of autonomy" but also likes to "be informed and give final approval to some things"--wanted to make it a more general display called "Race and Violence in America" with a broader selection of titles.

Spring called the moment "a really important incident in my career as a bookseller but also in my own personal identity." She emphasized that she always tried to be as professional as possible and had never before had a conflict like it with Graham. "I had a lot of intense feelings. I had never yelled at a boss before." (Graham quickly noted, "I had been yelled at before.")

"I regret the way I expressed myself," she continued. "I was very angry and very close to the topic." She also felt that, as a manager, she was failing the other people of color on the P&P floor staff.

For her, she said, it wasn't Graham's fault or any owner's fault. "I think as an industry as a whole, we're very white dominated in ownership but there's a lot of good intentions in wanting to bring in and make our stores more diverse and more welcome." But sometimes, she continued, owners have to "gut check themselves about what kind of store they really have."

After her argument with Graham, she went home and talked with her mother, who is a psychologist and from Panama, and who's "dealt with a lot." Spring had, she said, "questions of what kind of bookstore did I want, who did I want to be." In the end, even though she said she was "lucky to being working in a great bookstore," she decided she had to go out and create the kind of store she wanted. She founded Duende District, "a collaborative pop-up bookstore by and for people of color where all are welcome."

For Graham, the controversy was instructive, too. "As an owner," he said, "I learned a lot from these exchanges, and I'm very proud that we all at P&P, I think, ended up in a better place, that we're a better store these days because of our willingness to acknowledge that conflict and other conflicts, and we learned the importance of talking through these differences with each other when they arrive."

He also emphasized that indie booksellers often present themselves to the community "as meeting places and forums for discussion where people can come in and hash out their own differences, so my feeling is we should be able to talk about and work through our own internal conflicts."

The other pair on the panel was Lane Jacobson, Paulina Springs Books, Sisters, Ore., and Amanda Ibarra, Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill, N.C., who had worked together at Flyleaf. At the time that the #metoo movement was sweeping the country, they and other Flyleaf staff members had a discussion that stemmed from the Boston Review's decision to keep Junot Díaz as a fiction editor despite several allegations of verbal abuse. "This led to a somewhat tense discussion," Ibarra said, "as we tried to decide whether to keep his books or not." That discussion led to a series of individual conversations with a lot of disagreement.

Jacobson said, "We didn't have a big blowout thing," but as a manager at the time, he could have done better, he continued. "I had an open door policy, but that wasn't good enough. Part of being a good manager is proactively engaging staff about this stuff." Clear communication, he said, was really important, and while there might not be consensus about all issues, it's crucial that the staff doesn't just feel heard, "but are heard." --John Mutter

Obituary Note: Kathleen Fraser

Kathleen Fraser, poet, editor, essayist and professor of writing at San Francisco State University, died February 5. In a tribute, Nightboat Books, publisher of her titles movable TYYPE and the forthcoming Collected Poems, observed: "Known for her remarkable body of work--encompassing more than a dozen collections of poetry, seven collaborative artist's books, a volume of essays, and her landmark editorial work championing women writers--Kathleen Fraser made a unique, unparalleled contribution to American literature. She saw her work as 'making textures and structures of poetry in the tentative region of the untried.' "

Her books include What I Want; il cuore: the heart, Selected Poems, 1970-1995; Something (even human voices) in the foreground, a lake; New Shoes; and Discrete Categories Forced into Coupling.

Fraser absorbed aspects of the various schools of poetry but never wanted to be pigeonholed, Nightboat Books publisher Stephen Motika told the San Francisco Chronicle. "She was ageless, and so disinterested in being staid or settled. She was restless as a writer and thinker.... She had an amazing ear. She was a great lyric poet. She had poetry in her. She is a little hard to contain because her career is so varied. There are so many different modes. That is rare in American poetry."

Susan Gevirtz, a poet who is co-editing the final poetry collection with Motika, said Fraser was "just extremely grateful to us for taking the project on.... The most exciting thing about working on the collection is discovering work we had no idea existed."

Small Press Distribution wrote: "It is with great sadness that SPD heard about the recent parting of local poet, teacher and friend of SPD, Kathleen Fraser, whose work and teaching meant so much to so many. The Bay Area poetry scene has flourished in no small part because of her hard work."


Image of the Day: Authors & Scholars in Conversation

As part of its celebration of the store's first anniversary under new ownership, The Regulator bookshop in Durham, N.C., has launched a monthly poetry series as well as a Community & Scholars series that pairs authors with scholars in conversation with the local community. As part of the latter series, Regulator recently hosted David Blight, author of Frederick Douglas: Prophet of Freedom--the day after he won the Lincoln Prize--in conversation by UNC Professor of History Kathleen DuVal to a SRO crowd.  

Cool Valentine's Day Idea: Dessert for Lovers & Brokenhearted

North Light bookstore bar and cafe in Oakland "has two specials for Valentine'’s Day: one for lovers, and one for the 'blue, brokenhearted, bitter or blissfully alone,' " the San Francisco Chronicle reported. Author Daniel Handler, who is a friend of North Light co-owner Dan Stone, came up with the idea to combine books, drinks and desserts.

The "for lovers" menu option includes strawberry pie for two, two glasses of sparkling French rosé and a clothbound edition of Shakespeare's The Sonnets and A Lover's Complaint, as selected by California Poet Laureate Dana Gioia.

The "blue, brokenhearted, bitter or blissfully alone" option consists of a chocolate mousse (bitter chocolate, naturally), a Sazerac (a favorite cocktail of Handler's, made with bitters) and a copy of Handler's novel Why We Broke Up.

S&S to Distribute Health Communications, Inc.

Effective May 1, Simon & Schuster will handle sales, distribution and print and digital fulfillment for Health Communications Inc. (HCI) in the U.S. and worldwide.

Founded in 1977, HCI publishes books in the areas of inspiration, self-help, spirituality, relationship, recovery, healing, health and wellness, diet, teen issues, women's issues, and parenting. Its books include the Chicken Soup for the Soul series, A Child Called It and The Lost Boy by Dave Pelzer, The Sleepeasy Solution by Jennifer Waldburger and Jill Spivack, Hypnobirthing by Marie Morgan, Power of Focus, Success Principles for Teens and Success Affirmations by Jack Canfield, Healing the Shame That Binds You by John Bradshaw and Adult Children of Alcoholics by Janet Woititz.

Personnel Changes at Viking/Penguin

Kristina Fazzalaro has joined Viking/Penguin as a senior publicist. Most recently, she was a publicist at Hachette, working on PublicAffairs, Bold Type Books, and the Economist Books.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Pete Buttigieg on Colbert's Late Show

Morning Edition: David Hogg, co-author of #NeverAgain: A New Generation Draws the Line (Random House, $10, 9781984801838).

Daily Show: Chris Wilson, author of The Master Plan: My Journey from Life in Prison to a Life of Purpose (Putnam, $27, 9780735215580).

Late Show with Stephen Colbert: Pete Buttigieg, author of Shortest Way Home: One Mayor's Challenge and a Model for America's Future (Liveright, $27.95, 9781631494369).

Movies: The Last Human

Sony Pictures is "putting the finishing touches on a huge deal that brings the studio The Last Human," an upcoming children's book by Lee Bacon that will be published in October by Amulet Books, Deadline reported, adding that the project, to be directed and produced by Phil Lord & Christopher Miller, "had Universal, Warner Bros, Netflix, MGM/Annapurna, Paramount, New Regency and MRC all bidding.... It's easily going to be the biggest deal of the new year when it's all papered."

Lord and Miller teamed for the Oscar frontrunning animated feature Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. Deadline noted that Sony is "stepping up big time for a filmmaking team that is also a creative partner on the 21 Jump Street films and will be front and center in the inevitable sequel to Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse."

Books & Authors

Awards: RoNA Finalists

Finalists have been unveiled for the 2019 Romantic Novelists' Association Awards, which "celebrate the best in romantic fiction across six reader-judged categories, and two further awards." Winners will be announced March 4 in London. In addition, the Outstanding Achievement Award will be presented to "a writer who has made a truly exceptional contribution to the romantic genre." See the complete RoNA shortlist here.

Reading with... James Brabazon

photo: Hanna Jedrosz

James Brabazon is an author, journalist and documentary filmmaker who lives in the U.K. He has traveled to more than 70 countries, investigating, filming and directing in the world's most hostile environments. He is the author of The Break Line (Berkley, January 29, 2019) as well as All Fall Down and My Friend the Mercenary, a memoir recounting his experiences of the Liberian civil war and the Equatorial Guinea coup plot.

On your nightstand now:

The Violins of Saint-Jacques--Patrick Leigh Fermor's only novel. He gave me a copy ("something for the Istanbul bus journey") after I stayed with him at his house in Greece in 1991. It's a perfect picture of a world teetering on the edge of extinction--an allegory, perhaps, of the pre-War Europe he'd traveled through and written about and which, like the fictional island of Saint-Jacques, was destined to vanish forever.

Favorite book when you were a child:

Danny, the Champion of the World by Roald Dahl. I loved this book so much that I insisted my mum call me Danny! It's about a world where it's okay to break the law if there is a moral reason to do so--a strong motif in The Break Line.

Your top five authors:

This changes regularly! But today it's Joseph Conrad, Michael Ondaatje, Ernest Hemingway, Laurie Lee, John of Patmos.

Book you've faked reading:

Our Mutual Friend by Charles Dickens. It was a set text for my English Literature exam when I was 18. I could not stand Dickens and still can't. I read the crib notes. Dull. Dull. Dull.

Book you're an evangelist for:

In the Skin of a Lion by Michael Ondaatje. It is very hard to describe what this book means to me, because it feels like an experience that I have lived and not read and which I remember as fragments of a dream. A spellbinding prose-poem and gritty, magical ode to a lost generation of anonymous migrant workers who built Toronto in the 1930s, it's a masterpiece of changing perspectives, the transformation of identity and the revelation of whole lives lived on the ragged margins of society. It is the most perfect story I have ever read by one of the greatest living authors, and the one that has influenced most what and why I write.

Book you've bought for the cover:

The 2010 Penguin Modern Classics edition of John le Carré's The Spy Who Came in from the Cold.

Book you hid from your parents:

Paul Verlaine, Femmes et Hombres. Transgressive and viscerally sexual, Verlaine's poetry revealed another way of living. Trust me, aged 17, I could not WAIT to get to Paris.

Book that changed your life:

Heart of Darkness, a novella by Joseph Conrad. It's a stunning, horrific, relentlessly compelling and above all searingly truthful account of the moral bankruptcy of European imperialism in Africa--and one that has in turn been accused (falsely, in my estimation) of being racist itself. Based on Conrad's own personal experiences in the Congo, it expresses a profound outrage at man's inhumanity to man that is at once authentic and simultaneously entertaining, which is in itself brutal. Heart of Darkness neither cajoles nor sermonises: it draws you in and makes you an accomplice to the abomination. Its power lies in making the reader question their own assumptions and imperatives, which is at best uncomfortable and at worst devastating. It was the first book that made me cry. 

Favorite line from a book:

"Because we don't know when we will die, we get to think of life as an inexhaustible well. Yet everything happens only a certain number of times, and a very small number really. How many more times will you remember a certain afternoon of your childhood, an afternoon that is so deeply a part of your being that you can't even conceive of your life without it? Perhaps four, five times more, perhaps not even that. How many more times will you watch the full moon rise? Perhaps 20. And yet it all seems limitless." --Paul Bowles, The Sheltering Sky

Five books you'll never part with:

The Church Cat Abroad by Graham Oakley--my favourite book as a small child.

Mosquito Intruder by Dave McIntosh--41 seat-of-your-pants night raids over occupied Germany. My best friend gave it to me for my 11th birthday.

The Good News Bible, given to me when I left primary school, and signed by everyone in my class.

The Whitsun Weddings by Philip Larkin--covered in my pencil-scrawled notes from studying the poems at school.

The Sheltering Sky by Paul Bowles. I have a battered old Flamingo Modern Classic, published when Bowles was still living in Tangier. Neither the copy nor the edition is remarkable: but the book changed the way I thought about all literature.

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

Conrad's War by Andrew Davies. Along with Danny, the Champion of the World, this book taught me what a novel should be, and what it could do--namely, fire the imagination of the reader so vigorously that it leaves you caught between inspiration and exhaustion.

Best book you haven't read:

The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway. I'm holding out as long as I can before I read it. The thought that there won't be any more Hemingway novels to read is a prospect too bleak to consider.

Book Review

YA Review: Dreaming in Code: Ada Byron Lovelace, Computer Pioneer

Dreaming in Code: ADA Byron Lovelace, Computer Pioneer by Emily Arnold McCully (Candlewick, $19.99 hardcover, 176p., ages 12-up, 9780763693565, March 12, 2019)

Two centuries before computers became ubiquitous, a brilliant young British woman named Ada Lovelace imagined an "engine" that could process information much like today's computers do. The life of this forward-thinking scientist is brought to light for young readers in Emily Arnold McCully's fascinating biography, Dreaming in Code: Ada Byron Lovelace, Computer Pioneer.

Dreaming in Code progresses chronologically from Lovelace's birth in late 1815 (to a domineering mother and poet Lord Byron, the "titled, handsome, reckless, and irresistible" father whom she never knew) to her painful death from cancer in 1852. One of the most intriguing aspects of Lovelace's short life is the unusual way in which she was brought up. Although her controlling mother stinted on emotional nurturing, she did give Lovelace a far more rigorous education than most girls of her time were allowed. And "[d]espite the lack of affection or encouragement, Ada's intelligent, vivacious, curious, eager, and exploring nature was unimpaired." Lovelace, McCully writes, "had caught the spirit of the age, which was daring, inventive, and dazzled by the potential of technology."

As a young adult, Lovelace cultivated mentors. One of these scholarly relationships was with Charles Babbage, a quirky inventor, scientist and mathematician whom she met when she was 17 and he was 41. During their two-decades-long collaborative friendship, Babbage was developing and modifying engines designed to replace mental labor. Lovelace understood the workings of these machines in a way no one else did, even Babbage himself. In a "great leap of imagination," she grasped something fantastic about Babbage's "Analytical Engine": "Many persons," she wrote, "imagine that because the business of the engine is to give its results in numerical notation, the nature of its processes must consequently be arithmetical and numerical, rather than algebraical and analytical. This is an error. The engine can arrange and combine its numerical quantities exactly as if they were letters or any other general symbols." This concept, more than the invention itself, is what makes Babbage's engine a proto-computer, and what makes Lovelace a pioneer in the information age.

McCully is the Caldecott Medal-winning author/illustrator of Mirette on the High Wire as well as dozens of other children's books, including She Did It!: 21 Women Who Changed the Way We Think and Clara. Dreaming in Code is written with grace and intelligence, researched with care and peppered with historic photos and remarkable illustrations of 19th-century technology. It's sure to inspire a new generation of pioneers unwilling to let obstacles distract them from leading the way into the future. --Emilie Coulter, freelance writer and editor

Shelf Talker: Emily Arnold McCully's hugely enjoyable biography of Ada Byron Lovelace reveals how she overcame 19th-century societal norms and a highly dysfunctional family to set the information age in motion.

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