Shelf Awareness for Tuesday, February 19, 2019

University of Texas Press: Grief Is a Sneaky Bitch: An Uncensored Guide to Navigating Loss by Lisa Keefauver

Berkley Books: Hair-raising horror to sink your teeth into!

Berkley Books: The Hitchcock Hotel by Stephanie Wrobel

Queen Mab Media: Get Our Brand Toolkit

Ballantine Books: Gather Me: A Memoir in Praise of the Books That Saved Me by Glory Edim

Ace Books: Rewitched by Lucy Jane Wood

Graywolf Press: We're Alone: Essays by Edwidge Danticat

St. Martin's Press: Runaway Train: Or, the Story of My Life So Far by Erin Roberts with Sam Kashner


Bookstore Sales Jump 10% in November

November bookstore sales jumped 10%, to $729 million, compared to November 2017, according to preliminary estimates from the Census Bureau. (Data for November was delayed because of the federal government shutdown in December and January.)

For the year to date, bookstore sales are up 0.8%, to $9.058 billion, compared to the first 11 months of 2017. Many months in 2018 had strong gains, including February, March, June, July, October and November. The slight gain for 2018 so far is largely attributable to January results, when bookstore sales fell 8.6%.

Total retail sales in November rose 4.9%, to $524.5 billion. For the year to date, total retail sales have risen 5.4%, to $5,467 billion.

Note: under Census Bureau definitions, the bookstore category consists of "establishments primarily engaged in retailing new books."

BINC: Click to Apply to the Macmillan Booksellers Professional Development Scholarships

N.J.'s Booktowne Changes Hands

Rita Maggio

Rita Maggio, who founded Booktowne, Manasquan, N.J., in 2007, is handing over the reins of the store to staffer Peter Albertelli, effective March 1.

In an announcement, Maggio called it "a glorious 12 years" and said she is making the move "with a touch of sadness, a heart filled with gratitude and a mind exploding with beautiful memories." She thanked her family, both current and former staff members--"the best people"--and the "great community... I love that you love BookTowne."

This coming Saturday, February 23, Booktowne will hold "a special celebration" at which Maggio intends to share treats and memories with customers. And from 4 to 6 p.m., people can "join me and Peter to toast the new beginnings."

Maggio said she has no firm plans but will likely work part-time at the store and become more active politically "in whatever form that takes."

More than a dozen years ago, after retiring from a career in education, Maggio decided to fulfill a dream and open a bookstore. "I have always believed every town should have their own community bookstore, a place filled with good books, the type that get people to feel, to think, discuss, laugh and enjoy," she wrote. She earned our unstinting admiration for going about her bookselling education in a methodical, smart way, working for a time at Watchung Booksellers in Montclair, attending industry events, and touring bookstores and meeting with booksellers. Don't miss this video celebrating Booktowne's first 12 years.

Watkins Publishing: Fall Into Folklore! ARCS Available On Request

New B.C. Children's Bookstore Launches IndieGoGo Campaign

Melissa Bourdon-King plans to open a children's bookstore called Once Upon a Bookstore in Kelowna, B.C., in July. The lease is signed and construction is underway.

Bourdon-King has launched an IndieGoGo campaign, seeking to raise C$32,000 (about US$24,160) to help cover part of her total investment of about C$140,000 (US$105,700). Half of the total investment will going toward inventory and the remainder to "construction costs, renovating, purchasing furniture and fixtures, legal fees, city and building permits, hardware, software, insurance costs, and prepaid expenses like having a telephone and internet service."

Bourdon-King has more than a dozen years of bookselling experience. She worked for 13 years at Mabel's Fables Bookstore in Toronto before moving to British Columbia for a new job, and last year she attended a Paz & Associates "booksellers boot camp."

Once Upon a Bookstore aims, it said on its IndieGoGo page, to be "an event space for the community. It will connect local, Canadian and international authors and illustrators with Okanagan readers. It will unite new moms and dads with classes, support systems and safe spaces. It will welcome families of all shapes, sizes, varieties and cultures to feel safe and find their stories on our shelves. It will encourage creativity in all forms through workshops, classes, and discussion groups. It will listen to new ideas and be a base point to launch those new ideas, for young and old. It will give back to the local community through supporting literacy efforts, school groups, and community-minded organizations. In short, Once Upon a Bookstore will grow and evolve based on what its community--you--needs it to be."

Luis Cabrera Named Lonely Planet CEO

Lonely Planet has appointed Luis Cabrera president and CEO "and revealed a new strategy which will 'reinvigorate' its digital properties and launch ventures such as festivals, tours and a membership program," the Bookseller reported. Cabrera was previously president and CEO of BCG Digital Ventures. He succeeds Daniel Houghton, who left the company last May.

Lonely Planet noted that diversification will be a top priority for Cabrera, through new partnerships and acquisitions, along with leveraging new digital technologies.

"In a world where clutter, lack of personalization and tourist traps sadly define travel experiences, we have an amazing opportunity to continue to be relevant and to empower travelers," he said. "This strategy will organically lead us to think bigger and reinvigorate our digital properties and programs like our Pathfinders influencers, and to launch new ventures like festivals, tours, and even a membership program.

"We have a brand that really means something to people. We must be brave and bold to push ourselves into new areas and connect in a meaningful way with our audience. Thinking of Lonely Planet as a platform completely changes the way brands and advertisers can partner with our brand."

Obituary Note: Andrea Levy

Author Andrea Levy, who "gained wide recognition as a writer with the publication of her fourth novel, Small Island, in 2004," died February 14, the Guardian reported. She was 62. Small Island won the Orange Prize, Whitbread Prize, Commonwealth Literature Prize, and was later voted the Best of the Best Orange Prize novels. It was adapted into a 2009 BBC TV series, and this May the National Theatre is scheduled to mount a stage version.

Levy's previous novels "had gathered a smaller circle of admirers who had a particular interest in the experience of Caribbean immigrants in Britain," the Guardian noted. Those works include Every Light in the House Burnin'; Never Far from Nowhere; and Fruit of the Lemon. Her 2010 novel The Long Song was awarded the Walter Scott Prize for historical fiction and shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize.

Jane Morpeth, Levy's longtime editor, told the Bookseller: "I was incredibly honored to call her my friend. As her editor for Small Island, The Long Song and Six Stories and an Essay, I was so proud to watch her win prizes, be read by millions of people and reshape the literary world around her.... Her legacy is unique and her voice will be heard for generations to come. I miss her."

Mari Evans, managing director of Headline, noted that Levy's "extraordinary writing is woven into the fabric of Headline's publishing history and will continue to infuse the spirit of our future publishing. Her novels have perhaps never been more relevant or important in their questioning of identity and belonging. May we continue to learn the lessons so elegantly laid out by one of the greatest novelists of her generation."

Kate Mosse, co-founder of the Women's Prize, said: "Believing in the profound ability of fiction to change hearts and minds, Andrea brought to that process the same fierce intelligence, joy of language, wry wit, clarity of thought and uncompromising humanity that characterizes her writing.... she was a brilliant, principled, inspirational writer--one of the most important literary voices of our time."

In a tribute to Levy, friend and writer Gary Younge observed: "It always felt to me as though Andrea became more driven the closer she came to the end. Keen to broaden the British historical gaze beyond its borders, particularly to the Caribbean, she became increasingly frustrated with the limited and limiting imaginations of media gatekeepers when it came to the Caribbean and slavery. Resolving to use the currency she had now gained to expand our historical literacy, she pushed at every meeting and every level for a fuller, more rounded, more inclusive version of our national story. Britain has lost a great author. I have lost a dear friend."


Image of the Day: Albright in Ann Arbor

Nicola's Books, Ann Arbor, Mich., hosted nearly 1,300 people at the Michigan Theater for an event featuring former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright in conversation with University of Michigan professor Dr. Juan Cole. Pictured: (l.-r.) booksellers Ieva Bates and Ezra Brooks Planck, general manager Meagen Kucaj, Albright, event coordinator Samantha Hendricks and marketing coordinator Alana Haley.

Wedding at Sonoma's Readers' Books

This past Sunday, Rosie Lee, bookseller and children's literature buyer at Readers' Books in Sonoma, Calif., exchanged wedding vows with her longtime sweetheart, Ryan Parks. Owner Andy Weinberger not only closed the store for the happy event, but was the ceremony's officiant as well. Family, friends and the bride's Readers' Books "family" of fellow staffers were in attendance.

Cool Idea of the Day: Kids Trade Recyclables for Books

Italian bookseller Michele Gentile, founder of the Ex Libris Cafe bookshop in Polla, a small town near Salerno, "wants to encourage kids to read while doing something for the environment" so he is offering free books to schoolchildren who bring him one plastic bottle and one aluminum can to recycle, CNN reported.

"My goal is to spread the passion and love for books among those people in Italy who do not usually read while at the time helping the environment," he said. "I hope the initiative becomes so viral that it affects the whole country.... It will be revolutionary, not only for the planet but also for the education of children and their job prospects."

The books donated for the initiative are the so-called "pending" or "suspended" books ("libri sospesi" in Italian), which derives from the "suspended coffee," a Neapolitan tradition of purchasing two coffees: one for yourself and the second one as an anonymous gift for the next customer in need who walks into the bar. Gentile had created a similar initiative through which Ex Libris customers buy a book and leave the second one "suspended" for whomever needs it.

"Yesterday alone, I donated 60 suspended books," Gentile said. "Imagine if this becomes a small game: Every child in the world swaps a plastic bottle and a can for books. I know it's just a dream, but why not do it?"

Personnel Changes at Johns Hopkins University Press

At Johns Hopkins University Press:

Davida Breier is being promoted to director, Hopkins Fulfillment Services and Hopkins Sales Partners.

Terrence Melvin is being promoted to customer service and operations manager, Hopkins Fulfillment Services.

Heidi Vincent has been hired as business development and sales manager, Hopkins Sales Partners. Most recently, she was v-p of marketing for books at National Geographic.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Andrew McCabe on Fresh Air

Good Morning America: Samin Nosrat, author of Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat: Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking (Simon & Schuster, $37.50, 9781476753836).

Wendy Williams: Taylor Dayne, co-author of Tell It to My Heart: How I Lost My S#*T, Conquered My Fear, and Found My Voice (Wyatt-MacKenzie Publishing, $28.95, 9781948018302).

Fresh Air: Andrew McCabe, author of The Threat: How the FBI Protects America in the Age of Terror and Trump (St. Martin's Press, $29.99, 9781250207579). He will also appear today on the View, the Late Show with Stephen Colbert and the Today Show.

Daily Show: Senator Kamala Harris, author of The Truths We Hold: An American Journey (Penguin Press, $30, 9780525560715).

TV: Devil in the White City

Hulu is developing a series based on Erik Larson's bestselling book The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic and Madness at the Fair That Changed America, according to Variety. Leonardo DiCaprio and Martin Scorsese will executive produce the project along with Stacey Sher, Rick Yorn, Emma Koskoff and Jennifer Davisson. Paramount Television is producing.

Describing the project as "the latest chapter in the long development history of the book," Variety wrote that DiCaprio "acquired the rights nearly a decade ago with plans to adapt it as a film in which he would star as Holmes. Scorsese came onboard to direct in 2015 with Billy Ray set to write the script. It was first put in development in Hollywood by Tom Cruise and Paula Wagner through their Cruise/Wagner banner via the shingle's deal with Paramount, but the option lapsed in 2004. Paramount reacquired the film rights in 2007 and set it up with producers Michael Shamberg and Sher."

Books & Authors

Awards: Green Earth Book Longlist; CrimeMaster

The longlist for the 2019 Green Earth Book Awards, sponsored by the Nature Generation to honor "children's and young adult literature that best convey the message of environmental stewardship," has been announced and can be seen here.


The Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance is awarding its CrimeMaster Award for Distinguished Achievement to Lisa Gardner. The award will be presented by Tess Gerritsen on May 1 in Portland, at the beginning of the Maine Crime Wave conference.

MWPA wrote about Gardner, in part: "Storied crime author Lisa Gardner writes award-winning novels that are addictive. Thankfully for us, there are more than 30 of them, with some 22 million copies in print. That's more copies than the entire population of New England, where she and her family live. Around the globe, critics admire her and readers hail her psychological suspense, irresistible characters, vivid writing, and twisted plots."

Book Review

Review: The Absent Hand: Reimagining Our American Landscape

The Absent Hand: Reimagining Our American Landscape by Suzannah Lessard (Counterpoint, $26 hardcover, 320p., 9781640092211, March 12, 2019)

Suzannah Lessard (The Architect of Desire) offers a broad cultural examination of place in The Absent Hand: Reimagining Our American Landscape. The result is a work of great scope that's grounded by an interest in landscapes, the forces that shape them and how they in turn reshape us. Lessard chases big mysteries. "Always behind my readings of landscapes are the questions, Where are we...? and What is our relationship to our surroundings now?"

Lessard begins with a close description of "the village" where she lives near Albany, N.Y. She then travels outward, to visit a nearby friend and consider suburbophobia, and therefore the history of the suburbs--as foil to the city, as military defense concept, as commercial center, as "edge city." Having considered terms like sprawl, metropolitan area, edgeless or stealth city and more, Lessard uses "atopia" to refer to landscapes "where contemporary development, directly expressing contemporary times, was unrestrained." She is also quite interested in "online" as a place, from its origins in Cold War strategy through the option it provides as escape from real places.

Lessard is at her best when handling the ways place and people interact (Disney's attempt to build a history theme park just south of Washington, D.C.), and on shakier ground when handling larger issues (market forces versus governmental powers). One of her finest chapters considers a mall in King of Prussia, Pa., and the tensions and challenges facing shopping malls across the country.

As Lessard shows, Cold War policy, the Depression, the legacy of slavery, racist housing policies, nuclear armament and more have all played roles in the development of the suburb and the contemporary landscape. Mixed in with these references, Lessard often cites works of art--Van Gogh, Shakespeare, Han vases--as means to understand place.

Lessard can speak from a place of economic comfort that may grate some readers, but the value of her decades of research is undeniable. The Absent Hand is often dense, as Lessard draws upon centuries of human history to make her arguments. In this ambitious work, place is examined, deconstructed and incrementally illuminated, even as our landscape changes anew. --Julia Kastner, librarian and blogger at pagesofjulia

Shelf Talker: This broad social-historical consideration of American landscapes will satisfy and challenge the most serious reader.

The Bestsellers

Top-Selling Self-Published Titles

The bestselling self-published books last week as compiled by

1. Waiting for Willa by Kristen Proby
2. Can't Hurt Me by David Goggins
3. Illicit: A Contemporary Romance Collection by Various
4. Licensed to Lie by Sidney Powell
5. We Shouldn't by Vi Keeland
6. SEAL Love's Legacy by Sharon Hamilton
7. Jager by Dale Mayer
8. Emotional Intelligence 2.0 by Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves
9. Murder, Curlers, and Canes by Arlene McFarlane
10. Charming as Puck by Pippa Grant

[Many thanks to!]

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