Shelf Awareness for Tuesday, March 19, 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

Oren Teicher Retiring as ABA CEO at End of Year

Oren Teicher

Oren Teicher is retiring as CEO of the American Booksellers Association at the end of the year, the association announced yesterday via Bookselling This Week. He has been CEO for 10 years and has worked for the ABA almost 30 years.

The ABA board has hired an outside search firm, Isaacson, Miller, and appointed a search committee to recommend the next CEO to the board. The board aims to select a new CEO by September 30.

"To say the least, this was not a decision I reached lightly, as I have cherished every single day over the last 30 years that I have worked at ABA," Teicher said. "But the time has come, and I firmly believe it's the right decision for me, and for ABA. There are also a number of important things still to get done, and I expect to continue working on those as vigorously as I can while I remain CEO."

"ABA has been immensely fortunate to have had Oren Teicher as our CEO these last 10 years," said Robert Sindelar, ABA president and managing director of Third Place Books, Seattle, Wash. "His tireless efforts working on behalf of our member stores have helped make significant changes to the independent bookstore business model, and the growth and success so many of our stores are experiencing are due to his vision and leadership. It's hard to imagine the current indie bookstore landscape without Oren being a key part of it. As tough as it will be to see Oren go, with membership numbers on the rise, our channel's net unit sales also on the rise, and our core work in education at Winter Institute, Children's Institute, the Spring Forums, and distance learning stronger than they have ever been, ABA is well positioned to engage in a transition of leadership."

Teicher joined the ABA in 1990 as associate executive director. He has since served as director of government affairs, founding president of the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, and chief operating officer. He succeeded Avin Mark Domnitz as CEO in June 2009.

The ABA search committee for a new CEO consists of Sindelar, ABA vice-president/secretary Jamie Fiocco of Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill, N.C.; board members Bradley Graham of Politics & Prose, Washington, D.C., Christine Onorati of WORD, Brooklyn, N.Y., and Jersey City, N.J., and Annie Philbrick of Bank Square Books, Mystic, Conn., and Savoy Bookshop & Café, Westerly, R.I.; as well as Gayle Shanks of Changing Hands Bookstore, Tempe and Phoenix, Ariz., and Len Vlahos of the Tattered Cover, Denver, Colo.

To start the search process, the committee is creating a job description, and Isaacson, Miller will begin conducting interviews with "a variety of association stakeholders to identify the challenges and opportunities ABA and the new CEO will face in the coming years." Sindelar said that the ABA's goal is to create a diverse pool of candidates for the job, and he noted that in 2018, half of Isaacson, Miller's executive placements were women, with a third from underrepresented groups.

Plans are for several committee meetings in the spring and summer and two rounds of in-person interviews with candidates in the late summer/early fall. The committee hopes to pick a new CEO by the end of the fiscal year, September 30.


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


Oren Teicher: An Appreciation

ABA CEO Oren Teicher at Elliott Bay Book Company in Seattle (photo: Mark Pearson/Libro.fm)

As Robert Sindelar touched on, since becoming ABA CEO in 2009, Oren Teicher has more than any other single person helped turn around the state of independent bookselling in the country. For most of the past decade, ABA membership has grown consistently from year to year, and by many other measures, indie bookstores are thriving: most indie bookstore owners who want to retire and sell their stores find buyers; many established stores have opened branches; a new generation of booksellers has joined the business; sales at most stores have risen steadily. In contrast to many other bricks-and-mortar retailers, booksellers have thrived, and much of this is attributable to Oren Teicher. He has been an advocate on a range of crucial issues for indie booksellers: the buy local movement, tax fairness, making the general media portrayal of indies accurate, improving business relationships with publishers. Within the ABA, he has made sure the association teaches and helps booksellers to operate their businesses more efficiently, to emphasize the qualities that distinguish them from the competition, to engage with each other. He has worked with a variety of allies in and outside the book world, in the U.S. and internationally, exchanging programs and ideas and spreading the word about the indie resurgence. He has made the Winter Institute and Children's Institute into two of the most important bookselling events of the year.

And he has a wonderful personal touch. One small example of his talents: as soon as he became CEO, he reached out to and met with booksellers who were dissatisfied with some ABA policies, addressing their concerns and bringing them back into the fold.

For him, education and learning have not been a one-way street: every holiday season, he has worked on the floor at an independent bookstore for several days, sharing the day-to-day experiences of members.

We will miss him and are glad he'll continue as CEO for the rest of the year. And we remember fondly his belief, spoken at the conclusion of many annual meeting reports, that "the best days of independent bookselling are ahead of us." Thank you, Oren, for that sentiment--and making that sentiment accurate. --John Mutter


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


The Open Book Debuts in Warrenton, Va.

The Open Book hosted a one-day soft opening and author event over the weekend, at 104 Main St. in the Old Town neighborhood of Warrenton, Va. The store is closing briefly this week, but will return Friday with a grand opening celebration and ribbon-cutting ceremony.

"Today was our soft opening," a post on the bookshop's Facebook page said: "We called it 'Bookstore Practice Day' because the warm community response tethered to the dream of being bookstore owners was almost more than our little hearts could take. Thank you community!"

Chris Granger, co-owner of the business with Cammie Fuller and Rachel Sirene, told Fauquier Now that in about six hours on Saturday, the bookshop sold 1,700 books. "We're overwhelmed by the response. Looking forward to next week.... It was steady all day and didn't really stop. There were a lot of people who bought seven or eight books."

The new bookshop "helps fill a void created when Borders closed in 2011 and BJ's Books shut down in 2014," Fauquier Now wrote, adding: "Bright and airy, the Open Book features a cozy corner for young readers, space for story times and room for author readings and other activities that promote reading and writing."

Noting that the positive reaction to the bookstore has thus far exceeded expectations, Sirene said, "There are so many people pushing for our success."

Fuller added: "I believe books can change people. I think they can change communities and the world. And I'm so excited, because the response that we've had from our community tells me that people are ready to get out there and read and talk about books. I hope that when you want to talk about a book, you have someone nearby to talk about it with. And if you don't, come and find me, because I'm ready."


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


Notes from London, Part 3

At the Quantum Conference during the London Book Fair, Bradley Metlock of Score Publishing shared some striking data from a recent study that attempted to find out how well the top five voice assistants on the market--Google Assistant, Amazon's Alexa, Microsoft's Cortana, Apple's Siri and Samsung's Bixby--handle book-related queries. In the study, each assistant was asked a series of questions about 10 books on the New York Times bestseller list.

According to Metlock, on average only 43% of book-related queries were successful. Google had the best rate, with 72.50% of queries answered successfully, while Siri was by far the worst, with only about 15% of queries successful. Alexa was around average, with a 44.17% success rate. Metlock observed that there are more than 3.5 million book-related queries made per day, and the high failure rate across most voice assistants results in some 1.9 million of those queries being not understood or recognized. About 2% of these total queries, or more than 70,000 per day, are attempts to purchase a book; more than 38,000 of those purchases fail. --Alex Mutter

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Joe Matthews (l.) and Steve Rosato

At a panel called "Accessing the U.S. Market: An Overview of the Retail, Distribution and Library Markets in the U.S.," Joe Matthews, CEO of Independent Publishers Group, and Steve Rosato, business development executive at Rakuten OverDrive, offered a range of advice to foreign publishers interested in entering the U.S. market--and a variety of interesting observations on the state of the book world in the U.S.

For IPG, the retail channel continues to grow in volume while the wholesale channel is down, and there are "increased opportunities" in the mass merchandise area "for the right titles," with much of that growth at Walmart, Sam's Club and Costco. (These accounts are "high-reward and high-risk," he stressed.) Matthews added that the retail religion and trade markets in the U.S.--traditionally divided into ABA and CBA bookstores--have been "converging." The specialty market is so important for book publishers that IPG exhibits at more than 50 gift shows and has six permanent showrooms. As downloadable audio continues to grow, IPG now recommends that its publishers produce their own audio editions of titles rather the license the titles.

While relatively flat, e-book sales continue to be an important segment of the market, and are linked with bricks-and-mortar stores. "Physical books drive digital sales through a showrooming effect," he continued. "We know that many purchases on Amazon are driven by an encounter with the physical book in a store."

Because so many titles are published in the U.S., "books disappear in the U.S. if there isn't something driving sales," Matthews said. "Publishers have to cut through the white noise." As a result, IPG is doing more and more marketing and publicity for publisher clients, especially those from abroad.

Matthews emphasized that foreign publishers' lists need to be heavily edited to focus on titles that will appeal to American consumers, adding, "For some reason, everyone [in the U.S.] wants an Ireland walking guide but they don't want to know about a London borough."

Rosato, whose company is the largest distributor of digital titles to libraries worldwide, noted that downloadable audio has been a big growth area for Rakuten OverDrive.

Unlike many countries that have central state libraries, libraries in the U.S. are usually run on a state or local level. And the numbers are enormous: "There are five times more library markets in the U.S. than independent bookstores," he said. "There are more libraries than either McDonald's or Starbucks."

Those libraries continue to be hugely important in the book industry, he continued. "Libraries do so much to advocate for reading and authors and are such a critical part of the ecosystem that supports print, retail and publishers. They do one-on-one recommendations. They have author events and community reading events. They curate lists in a very meaningful way and they interact one on one with readers." --John Mutter


Obituary Note: Bob Schmid

Robert "Bob" Frederick Schmid, a longtime Simon & Schuster sales rep in the mid-Atlantic region, died on February 28. He was 74.

After working at Remington's Books in Baltimore, Md., he joined the Pocket Books division of S&S in the early 1980s, selling mass market paperbacks. Among his major accounts was Crown Books. In the 1990s, after a sales group reorganization, he joined the trade division of S&S. His territory included the Baltimore and Washington markets, and in 2000, the territory was expanded to include Virginia and part of North Carolina. He retired from S&S for health reasons in 2007.

Schmid's life revolved around books from an early age. He attended the Great Books program at St. John's College in Annapolis, Md., and had an intense interest in the history of Baltimore, collecting books about the city and by Baltimore authors.

Colleagues remember his kindness, humor, knowledge and savvy management. Jean Westcott of Stylus Publishing and a longtime bookseller at Olsson's Books and Records wrote: "To me, Bob was incredibly generous in his efforts and honesty with his stores. He always was able to balance all of those who depended on his expertise and with good cheer."


Notes

Image of the Day: SHOUT at Schuler

Schuler Books, Grand Rapids and Lansing, Mich., hosted author Laurie Halse Anderson (SHOUT, Viking) at Grand Valley University's Eberhard Center. Some guests traveled from more than three hours to attend. Pictured (l.-r.) are Raquel, Samantha, Alana, Meghan and Rosie of Schuler Books with Laurie Halse Anderson (in black T-shirt).


'Six New Bookstores to Check Out Around in Philly'

"A theory: Amazon didn't pick Philly because our independent bookstore scene intimidated the hell out of them," Philadelphia magazine noted in showcasing "six (newish) shops worth scouting," including Uncle Bobbie's Coffee & Books ("would be our go-to cafe even if it didn't double as a lively bookstore"), Shakespeare & Co. ("this legendary brand has been buzzing since it opened"), A Novel Idea ("big focus on local talent at this months-old gem"), Reads & Company ("Robb Cadigan is bringing even more cool to Bridge Street with his new shop, set to open in April"), Narberth Bookshop ("hard to comprehend how so many great reads fit into this compact space"), and Ulises ("like something you'd find in the Village in the '80s or in Stockholm now").


Chalkboard of the Day: Boswell Book Company

Boswell Book Company in Milwaukee, Wis., shared a photo of its creative sidewalk chalkboard promoting, and inspired by, last night's event featuring Joseph Scapellato, author of The Made-Up Man.


Personnel Changes at Chronicle Books

Jennifer Jensen has joined Chronicle Books as associate director of marketing, Chronicle Prism. Previously she worked at HarperCollins.


Media and Movies

Media Heat: Frans de Waal on Fresh Air

Today:
Fresh Air: Frans de Waal, author of Mama's Last Hug: Animal Emotions and What They Tell Us about Ourselves (Norton, $27.95, 9780393635065).

Tomorrow:
Late Show with Stephen Colbert: Senator Doug Jones, author of Bending Toward Justice: The Birmingham Church Bombing that Changed the Course of Civil Rights (All Points Books, $29.99, 9781250201447).


Movies: The Talisman

"For three-and-a-half decades, fans have heard rumblings and rumors about a movie version of Stephen King and Peter Straub's fantasy epic The Talisman," Entertainment Weekly noted in reporting that despite "many dead ends and false hopes," the project may finally be in the works.

Amblin Partners has hired director Mike Barker (Outlander, The Handmaid's Tale) and will produce the film with the Kennedy/Marshall Company. They have been involved in the project for decades. Chris Sparling (Buried) is adapting the script.

The long journey to the screen began "when Steven Spielberg became mesmerized by an early copy of the work-in-progress by King, who was then most famous for The Shining and The Stand, and Straub, best known for his novel Ghost Story. He was so determined to adapt it that he got Universal Pictures to buy him the rights forever--not just an option to adapt, which would have expired after a few years," EW wrote.

Spielberg considered directing originally, then opted to produce, and about a decade ago, Amblin developed it as a six-hour TNT miniseries. "At that time it was just too rich for TNT's blood," Spielberg said. "Then I pulled it back and decided to try to reconfigure it once again as a feature film."

EW noted that King and Straub got used to the stop-and-start nature of the project. "Several times he came very close to making it, and there were a lot of discussions about that," King said.



Books & Authors

Awards: Wellcome Shortlist; Blue Peter Winners

The shortlist for the £30,000 ($39,820) Wellcome Book Prize, honoring a work of fiction or nonfiction that has "a central theme that engages with some aspect of medicine, health or illness," is:

Amateur: A True Story About What Makes a Man by Thomas Page McBee
Heart: A History by Sandeep Jauhar
Mind on Fire: A Memoir of Madness and Recovery by Arnold Thomas Fanning
Murmur by Will Eaves
My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh
The Trauma Cleaner: One Woman's Extraordinary Life in Death, Decay and Disaster by Sarah Krasnostein

The winner will be announced May 1.

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Winners were announced in two categories for this year's Blue Peter Book Awards, chosen by more than 300 schoolchildren across the U.K. to " honor amazing authors, imaginative illustrators and the best books for children." This year's winning titles are:

Best story: The Boy at the Back of the Class by Onjali Q Raúf
Best book with facts: The Colours of History by Clive Gifford, illustrated by Marc-Etienne Peintre

Blue Peter editor Matthew Peacock commented: "We've had a fantastically strong selection of titles for the Blue Peter Book Awards 2019 and it's great to see children from across the U.K. voting to decide the outcome. Congratulations go to Best Story Book winner Onjali Q Rauf for The Boy at the Back of the Class which is such an informative and poignant tale about a subject that is very important to many children today. I'm also incredibly pleased we are able to present Clive Gifford with the award for Best Book with Facts. The Colours of History is such an original take on a history book, linking colours to amazing facts."


Book Review

Review: What My Mother and I Don't Talk About

What My Mother and I Don't Talk about: Fifteen Writers Break the Silence by Michele Filgate, editor (Simon & Schuster, $26 hardcover, 288p., 9781982107345, April 30, 2019)

Literary Hub contributing editor Michele Filgate thought she was writing an essay about her stepfather's abuse, but it turned out she was really writing about the relationship with her mother that allowed such abuse to continue. After years of work, her essay was eventually published by Longreads under the title "What My Mother and I Don't Talk About." Readers and writers responded strongly, and Filgate's piece now leads this astonishing anthology.

What My Mother and I Don't Talk About: Fifteen Writers Break the Silence follows that essay with a breathtaking range of responses. Filgate writes, "Mothers are idealized as protectors: a person who is caring and giving and who builds a person up rather than knocking them down. But very few of us can say that our mothers check all of these boxes. In many ways, a mother is set up to fail." And while many of the essayists featured here reproach mothers who have hurt them, there are also apologies, confessions and unsolved mysteries. These essays bring many perspectives and deal in self-awareness, too.

In "Thesmophoria," Melissa Febos considers her close relationship with her psychotherapist mother by recalling myths, chiefly that of Persephone and Demeter. "We often love the things that abduct us." Brandon Taylor wrestles with the pain his mother has caused: "It's strange, really, that to grasp that which has hurt you, you must trust it not to hurt you when you let it inhabit you"--or when you write about it.

Alexander Chee hides the abuse he's suffered from his mother because of the tragedy they've endured together: "This is how we got each other through." Dylan Landis seeks to understand her mother better through an old apartment building, and a possible former lover. Amid the layered traumas of race, nation and gender, Kiese Laymon asks his mother: "Can we please get better at loving each other in America?" Carmen Maria Machado finds her own conflicted feelings about parenthood linked to her mother's harsh treatment. And André Aciman considers his deaf mother's language, separate from words, and what it taught him.

Leslie Jamison closes the anthology with an essay exploring her mother through the eyes of an outsider to the family unit: her mother's first husband's unpublished novel about their marriage. It is a fitting conclusion, with that surprise perspective and a careful, loving attention to the woman who came before the mother.

These collected essays are variously rich, tender, angry, despairing and clinical. The result, greater than the sum of parts, is part paean and part denunciation, intelligent, heartfelt and wise. What My Mother and I Don't Talk About is a shrewd, glinting collection of beauty and pain: a gift for mothers and their children. --Julia Kastner, librarian and blogger at pagesofjulia

Shelf Talker: Diverse writers answer the title's prompt with essays that are cutting, furious, delicate, generous and everything in between.


The Bestsellers

Top-Selling Self-Published Titles

The bestselling self-published books last week as compiled by IndieReader.com:

1. Keep It Classy by Lani Lynn Vale
2. Bad to the Bone (The Dogfather Book 5) by Roxanne St. Claire
3. Can't Hurt Me by David Goggins
4. Dangerous Choice (Off the Grid: FBI Series Book 5) by Barbara Freethy
5. Bennett Mafia by Tijan
6. Bayside Escape (Bayside Summers Book 4) by Melissa Foster
7. Only With You by Layla Hagen
8. The Final Reveal (A SEALs of Steel Novel Book 8) by Dale Mayer
9. Thick by Alexa Riley
10. Surprise Delivery by R.R. Banks

[Many thanks to IndieReader.com!]


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