Also published on this date: Wednesday, March 13, 2019: Maximum Shelf: A Nearly Normal Family

Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, March 13, 2019


Random House Graphic: Bug Boys by Laura Knetzger

Tor Books: Deal with the Devil: A Mercenary Librarians Novel by Kit Rocha

Wednesday Books: The Mall by Megan McCafferty

Houghton Mifflin: The Animals at Lockwood Manor by Jane Healey

News

Patterson, BA Launch Young Bookseller Award in U.K.

Author James Patterson has partnered with the Booksellers Association of the U.K. & Ireland to launch a Young Bookseller Special Achievement Award. The Bookseller reported that £500 (about $655) awards "will be given to booksellers aged 25 and under who have worked in a bookshop for at least 12 months." Candidates can be nominated by their managers or colleagues. Winners will be announced in July.

"I'm overwhelmed by the passion and energy of so many young booksellers," said Patterson. "I'm delighted to be launching James Patterson's Young Bookseller Special Achievement Award to recognize the talent of these young people, who will help to shape the future of the bookselling industry."

BA president Nic Bottomley commented: "We are thrilled by the creativity of young booksellers across U.K. and Ireland, and I am very proud to be BA president at a point when a bestselling author is making such an unequivocal statement of confidence in the bookselling industry--and proud of the young booksellers who are proving him right."


GLOW: Other Press: Serenade for Nadia by Zülfü Livaneli, translated by Brendan Freely


LBF 2019: Diving into the Audiobook Boom

Yesterday at the London Book Fair three audiobook publishers from the United States discussed the audiobook boom in the U.S.: Brad Rose, v-p of content strategy for Midwest Tape; Mary Beth Roche, president and publisher of Macmillan Audio; and Amanda D'Acierno, president and publisher of Penguin Random House Audio Publishing Group. Michele Cobb, executive director of the Audio Publishers Association, moderated the discussion.

Michelle Cobb

Cobb shared that over the past six years the audiobook industry has seen double-digit growth in both dollars and units sold, and, in 2017, for the first time ever, dollar growth outstripped unit growth. She added that according to "all indicators," growth has continued in 2018 and is carrying through to 2019.

D'Acierno reported that PRH published more than 1,400 audiobooks last year, and the publisher is slated to release about the same number of titles this year. The biggest changes they've had to make over the past few years is scaling up the front end of the business, which includes finding more voice actors and producers, and building more studios; she said PRH has recently built 15 new studios.

Roche, meanwhile, said that over the past two years Macmillan has doubled the number of audiobooks it has produced and noted that an "interesting development" has been the increased attention paid to audiobooks by both print publishers and authors. Audio is now often completely integrated into a title's marketing and production plan "right from acquisition," and is now never forgotten or overlooked.

Rose explained that as consumers increasingly expect to "find everything on audio," he and his colleagues have begun experimenting with different sorts of audio content, including more children's content and a partnership with Bloomberg to turn some of its reporting into short-form audio content. He noted that his company still offers quite a bit of content on CD, which mostly makes its way to libraries, and he said that he has recently seen serious demand for more foreign-language audiobooks.

On the subject of demographics, Cobb said that audiobook listeners are now trending younger, with around 54% of listeners between the ages of 18 and 44, compared to 10 years ago, when most listeners were older and female. Many listeners have come to audiobooks from podcasts, and around 44% of podcast listeners are 35 or younger. While discussing how listeners often move back and forth between podcasts and audiobooks, Cobb said the two formats are "gateway drugs" to each other.

Most audiobook listeners--around 70%--listen at home and generally don't engage in other activities while listening. For years, the audiobook industry assumed that audiobooks were primarily being consumed while the listener was multitasking, whether commuting to work or doing everyday chores at home. The results were so surprising, in fact, that both D'Acierno and Rose said that they initially didn't believe the data.

As a result, D'Acierno continued, PRH has expanded more of its audio marketing efforts to reflect the "me-time" and "private time" aspects of listening to audiobooks. And Rose noted that his company's audiobooks are most frequently listened to between 8 and 10 in the evening, which is the most popular and competitive time slot for all media, whether that be books, television, film or videogames. Given that, he said, it's "quite amazing" for audiobooks to see such strong growth year after year.

When asked about how publishers decide whether a certain title should be published as an audiobook, Roche reflected that the criteria has changed since the boom. About 10 years ago, publishers mostly based the decision on how many print copies of a book they expected to sell, reasoning that they'd get a certain proportion of those sales for the audiobook. Now, the main question is whether the content itself is well suited to being narrated, and Roche said that books that are made up mainly of charts, graphs, figures and recipes typically don't get turned into audiobooks.

On the subject of the proliferation of digital audiobook sellers, Cobb showed a slide displaying the logos of nearly 40 vendors, noting that it was not all-inclusive. D'Acierno called the phenomenon "incredible," likening it to a bookstore opening on every corner in the physical world. She said listeners tend to use multiple audiobook apps and when asked why, she explained that it is often about finding the best prices and deals. She added that as of now, there is relatively little exclusive audiobook content, and the landscape is not similar in that regard to streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hulu. --Alex Mutter


G.P. Putnam's Sons: A Tender Thing by Emily Neuberger


Sophy Thompson Named Thames & Hudson CEO

Sophy Thompson has been promoted to CEO and publisher at Thames & Hudson, effective April 12, following the departure of current chief Rolf Grisebach, the Bookseller reported. Thompson has been publishing director at the company since 2013, and prior to that worked in senior management at the Paris offices of Assouline and Skira Flammarion.

"We are delighted that someone so steeped in the business of high-quality illustrated publishing has agreed to take on this challenging new role," said T&H chairman Thomas Neurath.

Executive chairman Neil Palfreyman added: "Sophy came to us after many years' experience of publishing for an international market. During her time at Thames & Hudson she has skillfully overseen the development of an exciting and eclectic list of new titles while also demonstrating a deep understanding of the commercial aspects of our business. In every way, Sophy is the perfect candidate to lead Thames & Hudson in the years ahead."


G.P. Putnam's Sons: The Deep by Alma Katsu


F+W Media Files for Chapter 11

F+W Media, whose businesses include online education, print and digital books, magazines, subscription video sites, consumer and trade events, and e-commerce stores, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Forbes reported that the company, "facing near-term liquidity issues with only about $2.5 million in cash available and $105.2 million in outstanding debt," cited in various documents "a perfect storm of secular industry decline, poor investments, and even mismanagement."

F+W said it plans to sell its businesses while continuing to operate, in order to "maximize the value of their estates for the benefit of all their stakeholders." The company had $67.7 million in revenue in 2018 from its "communities," with the largest being the crafts community ($32.5 million), followed by the artists network ($8.7 million). F+W's book division, which publishes about 120 new books each year and has a backlist of 2,100 titles, had $22 million in sales in 2018.

In a declaration that accompanied the filing documents, CEO Gregory Osberg said the bankruptcy was caused by several factors, internal and external, most of them related to a shift toward e-commerce in 2008, Forbes wrote. 

"The company's decision to focus on e-commerce and deemphasize print and digital publishing accelerated the decline of the company's publishing business," Osberg noted, "and the resources spent on technology hurt the company's viability because the technology was flawed and customers often had issues with the websites."


March Indie Next List E-Newsletter Delivered

Last Thursday, the American Booksellers Association's e-newsletter edition of the Indie Next List for March was delivered to more than half a million of the country's best book readers. The newsletter was sent to customers of 139 independent bookstores, with a combined total of 541,747 subscribers.

The e-newsletter, powered by Shelf Awareness, features all of the month's Indie Next List titles, with bookseller quotes and "buy now" buttons that lead directly to the purchase page for the title on the sending store's website. The newsletter, which is branded with each store's logo, also includes an interview (from Bookselling This Week) with the author whose book was chosen by booksellers as the number-one Indie Next List pick for the month, in this case Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid (Ballantine Books).

For a sample of the March newsletter, see this one from Monkey See, Monkey Do, Clarence, N.Y.


Obituary Note: Dan Jenkins

Dan Jenkins

Dan Jenkins, "a sportswriter whose rollicking irreverence enlivened Sports Illustrated's pages for nearly 25 years and animated several novels, including Semi-Tough, a sendup of the steroidal appetites, attitudes and hype in pro football that became a classic of sports lit," died March 7, the New York Times reported. He was 90. Semi-Tough was ranked #7 on SI's 2002 list of the top 100 sports books of all time and was adapted into a 1978 movie starring Burt Reynolds as Billy Clyde Puckett.

Joining the magazine in 1962, Jenkins was one of a select group of writers, including Roy Blount Jr., Mark Kram and Frank Deford, recruited by managing editor André Laguerre, "who oversaw the magazine's emergence as a leader in literate, and occasionally literary, sports journalism as well as a powerhouse in the Time Inc. stable," the Times wrote, adding that his main beats were golf and college football, sports he grew up with in Fort Worth, Tex.

Jenkins's other books include His Ownself: A Semi-Memoir (2014), Dead Solid Perfect (1974), You Gotta Play Hurt (1991), and Baja Oklahoma (1981). The Times noted that none of his novels after the first had the same impact, "partly because the bawdy audacity that characterized Semi-Tough seemed less audacious in later books, and partly because the characters espousing the attitudes and employing the language favored by Billy Clyde and friends struck many readers as much less appealing as public attitudes changed," a "societal swivel" that Jenkins openly criticized.

In a tribute to her father, Sally Jenkins, a sports columnist for the Washington Post, wrote: "A new manuscript of a novel my father just finished is still open on his desk--he was working on it on his last day at home before he fell and broke his hip and the congestive heart failure had its final say, from all the bacon and cigarettes. The novel, titled The Reunion at Herb’s Café, tells readers where his major fictional characters ended up. (It will be published by TCU Press.) His most famous and true creation was Billy Clyde Puckett, a sort of composite of all the dashing NFLers he knew. I stood over the manuscript this morning in tears, then read a line and almost spit my coffee."


Notes

Image of the Day: Heller Comes to Lemuria

Lemuria Books, Jackson, Miss., hosted a signing by Peter Heller for his new novel, The River (Knopf). This is the third Heller title to be featured in Lemuria's First Editions Club. Here, Heller poses with Lemuria staffers: (l.-r.) Aimee Rankin, Lisa Newman, Heller, owner John Evans, Ellen Rodgers (deputy director, MS Book Festival), Hillary Taylor.

Happy 45th Birthday, Changing Hands Bookstore!

Congratulations to Changing Hands Bookstore, Tempe and Phoenix, Ariz., which is celebrating the 45th birthday of its Tempe store on Saturday, March 30, 1-3 p.m. At the Tempe store, Changing Hands will offer "Tarot readings, light refreshments, complimentary cake, a toast with the store's owners, activities for kids, and more!" At 1:45, there will a bubbly cider toast with owners and staff.

At the Phoenix store, customers can enjoy sweets and extended happy hour prices all day long at the First Draft Book Bar, which is celebrating its fifth anniversary.


Cleveland Indies 'Thrive as Places to Unplug'

Independent bookstores "are redefining their roles in the community, as not only places to buy books, but also to enjoy and encourage reading," the Plain Dealer reported in a piece showcasing several Cleveland area indies that "are thriving as community hot spots that help book lovers unplug from their electronic devices, discover new reads, and meet like-minded spirits."

"I think that the industry course-corrected after Borders closed," said Suzanne DeGaetano, co-owner of Mac's Backs Books on Coventry. "After Borders closed, customers who wanted to shop locally found the existing bookstores and began patronizing us.... The 'Buy Local' consumer culture is very strong in Northeast Ohio.... Our customers recognize the value of neighborhood business districts and do their best to support indie stores."

Lynn Quintrell, owner of Appletree Books in Cleveland Heights' Cedar Fairmount neighborhood, agreed: "The small business movement has been critical to our success.... I really try to feature local people, because people like to buy something produced locally."

Harriett Logan, owner of Loganberry Books in Shaker Heights, told the Plain Dealer that the public needs to rethink its assumptions about neighborhood bookstores because local indies are bustling. She also cited encouraging signs on the local bookstore scene: Besides Appletree Books, former employees have bought the Learned Owl Book Shop in Hudson and Fireside Book Shop in Chagrin Falls.


Personnel Changes at 57th Street Books

At 57th Street Books, Chicago, Ill.:

Clancy D'Isa

Clancey D'Isa has been promoted to manager after "nearly a year of serving as inventory manager, while helping to reify community engagement and customer and bookseller support," according to the company. Jeff Deutsch, director of Seminary Co-op Bookstores, cited D'Isa's "commitment to the community" on the South Side of Chicago, along with her "tremendous passion for books and bookstores... and generally buoyant leadership style" as qualities in rhythm with the store's recent decision to expand its children's department and events.

D'Isa succeeds Kevin Elliott, who will take on the newly created role of inventory manager for Seminary Co-op Bookstores.


Media and Movies

Media Heat: Jacob Tobia on the Daily Show

Today:
NPR's 1A: Adam Rutherford, author of Humanimal: How Homo Sapiens Became Nature's Most Paradoxical Creature: A New Evolutionary History (The Experiment, $25.95, 9781615195312).

Tomorrow:
Ellen: Tara Westover, author of Educated: A Memoir (Random House, $28, 9780399590504).

Daily Show: Jacob Tobia, author of Sissy: A Coming-of-Gender Story (Putnam, $26, 9780735218826).


TV: The Good Lord Bird

Showtime has officially ordered the limited series The Good Lord Bird, based on James McBride's 2013 novel, Deadline reported. Directed by Anthony Hemingway, the adaptation is being co-written by McBride, Ethan Hawke and Mark Richard (Fear The Walking Dead). All four are executive producing along with Jason Blum, Brian Taylor, Ryan Hawke, David Schiff, Jeremy Gold and Marci Wiseman.

Hawke "will play pivotal 19th-century abolitionist John Brown in the Blumhouse TV eight-parter," Deadline noted, adding that the limited series is expected to air in 2020.

"This is just the right time for The Good Lord Bird," said McBride. "I wrote it to show we Americans are Family--dysfunctional, screwy, funny, even dangerous to one another at times, but still family nonetheless."

Hawke commented: "The Good Lord Bird is one of my favorite books, told with wit, grace and wisdom by the great James McBride. Bringing this story to the screen has been a passion project of mine, and I am incredibly fortunate to have partners who are equally enthusiastic and are making it a reality--my wife and producing partner Ryan Hawke, and my longtime friends at Blumhouse. I'm looking forward to working for the first time with the talented folks at Showtime and Anthony Hemingway--both of whom have made some of the best television in the last couple years."

Hemingway noted that with "all that is going on culturally, socially and politically, the climate is ripe for material that is culturally relevant and provocative. Literature is truly transcendent and McBride blew our minds with The Good Lord Bird."



Books & Authors

Awards: American Academy of Arts & Letters Winners

The American Academy of Arts and Letters announced the 17 writers who will receive its 2019 awards in literature, which will be presented in May at the academy's annual ceremonial in New York City. The prizes, totaling $220,000, honor both established and emerging writers of fiction, nonfiction, drama, and poetry. This year's winners are:

Award of Merit ($25,000 to an outstanding person representing the short story): Lydia Millet
Arts and Letters Awards in Literature ($10,000 each): Robert Alter, Marilyn Chin, Chris Hedges, Siri Hustvedt, Matthew Lopez, John McManus, Eileen Myles & Lauren Lee
Benjamin Hadley Danks Award ($20,000 to a young playwright): Heidi Schreck
E. M. Forster Award ($20,000 to a young writer from the U.K. or Ireland for a stay in the U.S.): Sally Rooney
Sue Kaufman Prize for First Fiction ($5,000 for a work of first fiction published in 2018): Jane Delury for The Balcony
Addison M. Metcalf Award ($10,000 to a young writer of great promise): Aracelis Girmay
Rosenthal Family Foundation Award ($10,000 to a young writer of considerable literary talent for a work published in 2018): Tommy Orange for There There
John Updike Award ($20,000 to a writer whose work has demonstrated consistent excellence): D.A. Powell
Harold D. Vursell Memorial Award ($20,000 to a writer whose work merits recognition for the quality of its prose style): John Keene
E. B. White Award ($10,000 to a writer for achievement in children's literature): Katherine Paterson


Reading with... Sayantani DasGupta

photo: Chris X. Carroll

Sayantani DasGupta grew up hearing stories about brave princesses, bloodthirsty rakkhosh and flying pokkhiraj horses. A pediatrician by training, she teaches at Columbia University. When she's not writing or reading, DasGupta spends time watching cooking shows with her trilingual children and protecting her black Labrador Retriever Khushi from the many things that scare him, such as plastic bags. She is a team member of We Need Diverse books and can be found on Twitter. Game of Stars (Scholastic), her sequel to The Serpent's Secret, is out now.

On your nightstand now:

Pride and Prejudice, which is no surprise, because I'm a huge Jane Austen fan and it's always there. Her wit and detailed observations of social mores will never go out of style; but her family-centered contexts appeal to me as an immigrant daughter.

I also have a copy of Octavia E. Butler's Bloodchild and Other Stories, a collection of brilliant short stories I am teaching this semester in my race and speculative fiction class. Who gets to imagine themselves into the future? A question that drives so much of my own fantasy writing.

Besides that, there is a huge pile of kidlit and YA books including P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han, The Vanderbeekers and the Hidden Garden by Karina Yan Glaser and Above and Beyond: NASA's Journey to Tomorrow by Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich.

Favorite book when you were a child:

Toss-up between A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle and A Ring of Endless Light by Madeleine L'Engle. Her books taught me that science and story are deeply connected--a lesson that's stayed with me in my own professional work and writing.

Your top five authors:

I have so many favorites, but here are some I go back to again and again:

Jane Austen taught me to embrace my snark; Salman Rushdie taught me to embrace my Indian snark and not italicize or Otherize Desi words and contexts; Julia Alvarez inspired me to tell my immigrant daughter story, and not worry about leaving out the humor. I am also a fan-girl dork for the bard--particularly, predictably, his comedies. I'll see any Shakespeare play performed pretty much anytime, anywhere. And Jalal al-Din Rumi, preferably Coleman Barks's translations. There was a period where I would read my kids a Rumi poem every morning before sending them off to school.

Book you've faked reading:

Moby-Dick by Herman Melville. I'm embarrassed to say it, but I just couldn't. Man, whale, what?

Book you're an evangelist for:

Gitanjali by Rabindranath Tagore. As a Bengali, so much of my sensibility, even spirituality, was shaped by Tagore's poems and songs. If someone hasn't read Tagore, I always buy them a copy of Gitanjali.

Book you've bought for the cover:

I bought Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan years before the movie came out because of a combination of cover and title. It just goes to show you how important representation is. I think I saw the title and cover in an airport bookstore, impulse-bought without ever having heard of it and read it immediately. I'm pretty sure I laughed out loud during the whole flight.

Book you hid from your parents:

Forever by Judy Blume. A beat-up copy circulated around our elementary school.... In retrospect, I'm not entirely sure what I understood of it at the time, but, wow, did I pore over it.  

Book that changed your life:

Probably the first books I read as a teen by authors of color. To grow up as a brown-skinned immigrant daughter never having seen myself represented in books or media, and then to discover these works--The Color Purple by Alice Walker, The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison, Brown Girl, Brownstones by Paule Marshall, The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende, Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie--was life-altering. I felt suddenly awake and alive, aware that I was worthy of taking up space in the universe.

Favorite line from a book:

Any quote by Audre Lorde. I teach her genius work a lot and quote from her nonstop: "When I dare to be powerful, to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid." (from The Cancer Journals)

Five books you'll never part with:

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen for the reasons stated above!

Haroun and the Sea of Stories by Salman Rushdie. In my mind his best, and most underappreciated book. A beautiful fantasy about the power of stories.

Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez. His magical words and worlds!

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling. A work of simple genius, I never tire of re-reading it.

The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien for obvious fantasy-fan reasons.

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

Besides the ones I've already mentioned, probably Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë--I remember being swept away by all the darn longing in that novel. Romantic longing, yes, but the longing to be as well. I read it as a teen at a point when I, too, felt about to burst out of my skin with that Alexander Hamilton (as envisioned by Lin-Manuel Miranda) longing to leave a mark, be more, do more. I don't think anything can substitute for reading the right book at the right time in your life.

Genre of book that's most influenced you:

I read fantasy, write fantasy and even teach a lot of multicultural fantasy writing. But my parents are enormous mystery buffs, and both write mystery stories and novels in Bengali. So I was brought up on mystery stories from a very young age. When I was in medical school, my parents would often call me, asking for details regarding poisons or the like (for their books!). Although I didn't list them above, Agatha Christie and Dorothy Sayers stories are so familiar to me, they're like a part of my family.


Book Review

Children's Review: Gondra's Treasure

Gondra's Treasure by Linda Sue Park, illus. by Jennifer Black Reinhardt (Clarion, $17.99 hardcover, 40p., ages 4-8, 9780544546691, April 2, 2019)

Gondra is a dragon. Her "mom's family comes from the West" and her "dad's family is from the East"; Gondra "was born somewhere in the middle." In Linda Sue Park and Jennifer Black Reinhardt's second collaboration (Yaks Yak), young Gondra playfully explores the benefits of inheriting two very different cultural backgrounds.

This charming narrative unfolds in bantering dialogue among the three family members. Gondra's mother explains that "in the West, dragons breathe fire," while Dad says that "in the East, dragons breathe mist." When Gondra shares a baby photo of herself, she points to "a teeny tiny flame... coming from one nostril and a wisp of mist from the other." Young readers will understand perfectly that lucky Gondra reaps the benefits of both branches of her heritage--in particular, "mist is great for hide-and-seek" and fire comes in handy at a barbecue. The affection between Gondra's parents is always obvious as they cheerfully tease each other about their attributes: Dad thinks fire is dangerous; Mom thinks mist is "pretty boring" ("compared to fire," that is). Certainly, both adults agree that Gondra was "adorable... the most beautiful baby ever."

Gondra goes on to explain other ways her Eastern and Western roots merge. Both of her parents can fly, but "Mom has wings," while "Dad uses magic." If Gondra's wings grow and she inherits flying magic too, she'll "be the fastest in the family!" As for scales, Dad's are "mostly blue and green" and Mom's "side of the family has bronze scales." Gondra herself is "mostly bronze," but the end of her tail is starting to turn the bluish green of her "dear old dad." When Gondra starts talking historical habitat, readers learn that "Mom's ancestors lived in caves full of treasure," while Dad's "family lived in lakes or rivers," their only treasure "a magic pearl that [they] could hold in one claw."

Reinhardt inventively illustrates the various points of Gondra's narrative, perfectly expressing the enthusiasm and awkwardness of the not-quite-grown protagonist. The colorful ink and watercolors depict a cozy, if slightly zany, household, where mist causes rain to fall in the living room if Dad gets too excited. The character design may be somewhat silly but the dignity and grace of Gondra's dragon family is undeniable and, though they have their differences, the love they share is evident at every turn. An interesting author's note provides some historical information on dragons, but the focus of the story is clearly on Gondra's ancestry, and how she is the beautiful product of her mixed heritage. Her loving parents don't need caves full of treasure or a "magic pearl to control the weather" because "times change," and Gondra is "the best treasure ever." --Lynn Becker, blogger and host of Book Talk, a monthly online discussion of children's books for SCBWI

Shelf Talker: Gondra, daughter of an Eastern dragon and a Western dragon, muses about the attributes of her mixed heritage that make her unusual.


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