Shelf Awareness for Monday, April 1, 2019

Basic Books: What We Owe the Future by William Macaskill

Citadel Press: Tiny Buddha's Inner Strength Journal: Creative Prompts and Challenges to Help You Get Through Anything by Lori Deschene

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers: The Baby-Changing Station by Rhett Miller, illustrated by Dan Santat

Candlewick Press (MA): The Patron Thief of Bread by Lindsay Eagar

Farrar, Straus and Giroux (Byr): Don't Look Back: A Memoir of War, Survival, and My Journey from Sudan to America by Achut Deng and Keely Hutton

Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers: A Wilderness of Stars by Shea Ernshaw

Mandala Publishing: The Journey: Big Panda and Tiny Dragon by James Norbury

Simon & Schuster: Defend Banned Books

For Fun

Patterson Donates $50,000 for Bookstore Cat Bonuses

James Patterson is partnering with the American Booksellers Association to give bonuses to independent bookstore cats. The bestselling author and indie supporter has pledged $50,000 as part of his Bookstore Cat Bonus Program, whose grant application asks one question: "Why does this bookstore cat deserve a bonus?"

Patterson will select the winners, who will receive bonuses ranging from $250 to $500. The 2019 campaign is open to all U.S. independent bookstore cats through May 30. Details on how booksellers can nominate their cats will be available soon. At press time, there was no word on comparable bonuses for bookstore dogs in the future.

"Over the years, I've heard from so many booksellers who've received holiday bonuses, and the question that's come up so many times has been: 'What about my cat?' " said Patterson. "These bonuses will allow bookstore cats to be treated to better food, blankets, medical assistance and toys--especially those little stuffed birds with dangling feathers. However the owners use the money, I'm humbled to know that I can make a difference in bookstore cats' lives. And I'm grateful to be able to acknowledge the important work they do."

ABA CEO Oren Teicher commented: "Once again, our friend James Patterson is stepping forward and providing extraordinary support for indie booksellers and their cats. His continued generosity has no parallel, and all of us connected to the ABA remain grateful and appreciative. The Patterson bonuses have made a real difference in the lives of hundreds and hundreds of booksellers, and now we are thrilled that our feline booksellers will get their chance for recognition." --Robert Gray

G.P. Putnam's Sons: Before I Do by Sophie Cousens

Amazon's New 'BezoSexting Line'

Amazon has launched a new program called WWJD--What Would Jeff Do--that aims to draw on and enhance a variety of products and services already offered by the company that have not, in many cases, "reached their fullest, most throbbing potential," as a release put it.

Accessed via voice assistant with the phrase "Alexa, disrupt my marriage," the program includes several manly parts:

  • Upgrades in delivery times and special handling for packages of impressive size and shape;
  • A new multibillionaires-only service called Amazon Prime Meet, featuring available mistresses rated four stars or higher by members;
  • The reintroduction of the Amazon Fire phone, featuring a new close-up photo enlargement capability;
  • A new section in the Amazon Marketplace for personals featuring selfies, with an adults-only "Richard pics" area;
  • A divorce/breakup negotiation program based on approaches used with publishers, including the "setting alimony and asset division rates at below cost" plan; the "existential delisting" option; and requiring all ex-spouses' and ex-girlfriends' personal and legal communications to go through a computerized call center in Asia;
  • A new security app called "Beware the Brother," which automatically beats off hacking and other attempts to probe the user's internal data.

Commenting as Lord Jeff, his Amazon Prime Meet handle, Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos called the new program "easy to grasp" and praised staff for whipping it out so quickly. --John Mutter

Disney-Hyperion: Drizzle, Dreams, and Lovestruck Things by Maya Prasad

Binc Offers New Assistance Program

Binc supporters will offer their expertise.
Binc has announced a new program offering that will help stores rebuild and recover after a zombie attack. Executive director Pam French noted, "While we haven't yet had any bookstores come to us needing recovery assistance after a zombie attack, we want to make sure it's available when needed in the future, so we've rushed this program through the pipeline. We are proud to announce today that bookstores that have sustained damage or needed to close due to zombies can now come to Binc for help."

Assistance funds can be used to clean and disinfect buildings, replace broken and damaged fixtures, board up windows and doors, and pay rent and utilities. Binc is also working with the ABA and the bookstore training group Paz & Associates to implement "What to Do in Case of Zombie Attack" training at Winter Institute and the regional fall shows. The training will help booksellers understand the threat and prepare their bookstores and staff for possible future attacks. If your bookstore needs disaster assistance (of any kind--not just for zombies), call Binc today, 866-733-9064.

G.P. Putnam's Sons: All I Want for Christmas by Maggie Knox

The Mueller Report: Full Cast Recording

Atlantic Records is making a foray into the audiobook realm with a full cast recording of The Mueller Report, featuring what the company described as "a stellar roster of voice actors," who will portray the leading characters in a dramatized version of the controversial report. No casting details have been announced yet for the project, which is expected to be released in August.

A spokesperson for Atlantic said the size of the cast will depend upon the volume of anticipated redactions in the nearly 400-page report. "In the audiobook business, I understand they distinguish between abridged and unabridged products," she observed. "This is a curious situation where the source material might be considered pre-abridged."

Attorney General William Barr is set to release a redacted version of special counsel Robert Mueller's report on the Russia investigation later this month. Several publishers, including Melville House, Skyhorse Publishing and Scribner, are planning to publish the text with additional expert analysis.

Since government studies are not copyrighted, Atlantic does not have to pay for the rights. The company's spokesperson would not comment on whether a music soundtrack, featuring some of the label's stars, might be part of the project, though an anonymous source said representatives of Bruno Mars, Cardi B, Ed Sheeran, Kelly Clarkson and Skrillex are in preliminary negotiations. --Robert Gray

Design Disaster: Tracking Spine-In Shelving Syndrome

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has accepted a plea by the book industry to try to identify the interior designer who came up with the idea of displaying books spine-in in bookcases. A CDC spokesperson acknowledged that, at first glance, the effort falls outside the Center's normal area of expertise, but stated that the concept is so insidious and has spread so widely that only an organization like the CDC has the skills to trace the disease back to Decorator Zero and make recommendations for remediation.

Book Industry Study Group executive director Brian O'Leary welcomed the CDC's involvement, saying, "For years, we've lobbied home interior designers and shows like HGTV to fill bookcases with books, not just tchotchkes and other non-print material. In the last several years, it seemed we were on the verge of success as books suddenly became a 'design element.' But imagine our chagrin when we saw that while books were finally being displayed in bookcases, they appeared only spine-in! There simply is no BISAC code for this kind of sacrilege!"

While supporting BISG's effort, several publishers have nonetheless launched publishing programs that aim to take advantage of the trend. One example is the new house Décor Books, which offers a variety of titleless titles in a range of sizes and shapes, some hardcover and some paperback. The pages have no text, greatly simplifying the printing process, and the spines are likewise blank. "It's so great not having to work with editorial on these," said the publisher, who has asked to remain as anonymous as his books. "We can lower our standards even more."

He added that the books have the advantage of being interchangeable with certain types of book to be offered by a new spinoff imprint that will include the upcoming multi-volume collection The Thought and Wisdom of Donald Trump. --John Mutter

Tech Innovations: Future to the Back

Two companies are making technological leaps forward (and backward), effective today.

Quirk Books is launching hBooks for the JEM reader, a device that allows readers to experience an author or their favorite character reading to them via a holograph. The size of the holograph can be customized to anywhere between five inches and five feet tall; wireless headphones are included; and there's an updated speaker system for classroom use.

The company notes that hBooks fans should also like some other Quirk products introduced in recent years: homer, the world's first book club digital assistant; litbit, the book reading tracker; and binder, the online book and reader match app.

And today is launching its Books on Tape program, "the bodacious way to read a book," as the company put it. The program includes "Radical Recommendations" from "super fly" booksellers and a selection of 20 introductory titles.

"Listening to books on tape is the bodacious way to read a book," said Nick Johnson, creative director of "Books on tape, or 'audiobooks' as the cool kids call them, are the fastest growing category in publishing and are reaching entirely new markets like: BMX riders, jazzercise enthusiasts, and video store clerks. Even better, they are portable and can be played on your Walkman or boombox so you can listen anytime, anywhere. Soon, we'll even be able to put books on LazerDiscs."

Super Sidelines Store Opens in Austin, Tex.


Billing itself as the "ultimate nonbook book retailer," NonBookPeople is opening today in Austin, Tex. "The idea is simple," said founder Steve Bercu, who headed BookPeople for many years before retiring in 2018. "We're going to offer every sideline ever offered by a bookstore." This includes a range of services and products based in large part, he continued, on research in the Shelf Awareness archives. "Something's gotta stick when it hits the wall."

Bercu--who said he had gotten bored with retirement--noted that "everyone's used to bookstores that sell arts and craftsy gifts, cards, stationery and the like--and especially socks, god yes, socks--but customers have shown they like an even broader range of things with their books. We aim to fulfill that need."

Bercu shows off the merchandise.

As a result, NonBookPeople will include a hair salon, a barber shop, a travel agency and luggage shop, an art gallery with art supplies, a combination beer bar/wine bar/package store, a café and restaurant, an electronics section, a knitting and weaving center, a drugstore, a post office branch, a kitchen and cooking demo spot, a yoga studio and a car wash. "Most of it's good to go, although we're still putting finishing touches on the car wash."

Unfortunately, because of space limitations the only book that is currently offered for sale is a self-published guide to the store. --John Mutter

The New Academy Launches 'Dead Author Nobel'

The New Academy Memorial Prize in Literature has been launched by the group of more than 100 Swedish writers, actors, journalists and other cultural figures who initially organized in 2018 in response to the Swedish Academy's decision not to award a Nobel Prize in Literature in the wake of a scandal.

Guadeloupean author Maryse Condé was honored in Stockholm last December with the New Academy Prize in Literature--also called the "Alternative Nobel"--after which the New Academy dissolved as originally planned. But last week the organization re-formed and announced the creation of the New Academy Memorial Prize in Literature.

Already dubbed by the Times of London as the "Dead Author Nobel," the prize will honor an esteemed writer who never won the Nobel Prize in Literature, which cannot be given posthumously. That long and distinguished list includes Leo Tolstoy, Anton Chekhov, Marcel Proust, Franz Kafka, Thomas Hardy, Henry James, Mark Twain, Virginia Woolf, James Joyce, D.H. Lawrence, and Philip Roth.

The New Academy is inviting Sweden's librarians to nominate authors from any country who, in addition to being dead, "have told the story of humans in the world." Once nominations have been received, the New Academy will launch a public vote, with the top four authors put before a jury for a final decision. --Robert Gray

BookBar's Newest Book Club Offering

BookBar, Denver, Colo., has announced a new book discussion group: Fight Book Club. As interest in martial arts, mixed martial arts and book clubs continues to grow across the country, BookBar owner Nicole Sullivan thinks this concept is a "no-brainer." She explained that book clubs often get pretty lively. "It just makes sense to provide a space where people can get out their book discussion frustrations in a physical but safe way, in a community environment."

BookBar aims to be the first independent bookstore to combine these two, at first glance, divergent pastimes. "We can't speak for the chain booksellers. We do have every reason to believe that Amazon brick-and-mortar stores, particularly their 4 Star locations, have been hosting Fight Book Clubs on a regular basis for some time. But as far as we know, no other indies are taking this on. Of course, it is impossible to know, since the first rule of fight book club is... you never talk about fight book club," explained manager Erin Mazza, with a wink.

"We understand that not all of our patrons feel the need to clock someone in the face if they claim that Sense & Sensibility is the best Jane Austen book when everyone knows it is Pride & Prejudice. EVERYONE KNOWS IT!!!! But some of our guests do appreciate having that option when the situation presents itself," added Abbey Paxton, the store's buyer. Clubs can reserve the space ahead of time but walk-ins are also welcome if the ring is available. BookBar staff will also be instructed to tap in any clubs who are becoming agitated over their monthly chosen book topic. Staff are trained to watch for signs of escalation: rising voices, red faces, wild gesticulations toward a book and frantic sketching of story arcs. In fact, that is how Sullivan came up with this idea. "We had a fight break out on the patio over Infinite Jest. It wasn't about the book, exactly. One club member strongly suggested that this title be their next pick for discussion. The rest of the club kinda lost it and before you knew it--it was literary mayhem. And I thought, hmmm... I see an opportunity here." Sullivan sees this as filling a need in the community: "There are not many places where you can go and just have it out over a book in this way."

The basement will retain the same look and feel as the bookstore and the regular menu will be served, but in shatterproof dishes. The coffee will be necessarily lukewarm. Clubs can have their meetings and bouts catered as well, just like upstairs. In addition to hosting Fight Book Clubs, BookBar will also host a monthly store meeting and bout called FightClub BookClub; sign up here. You can also visit ReadTribe to find another Fight Book Club or start your own! 


TV: Netflix to Film Encyclopaedia Britannica

In response to the popularity of other nostalgia-based programming aimed at millennial viewers, Netflix announced this week that it will adapt the now-defunct print edition of Encyclopaedia Britannica into a streaming series.

"It's hard to imagine a book series with a more lasting, profound cultural impact than Encyclopaedia Britannica," commented Netflix CEO Reed Hastings in an interview with Deadline Hollywood. "Everyone I've approached over the age of 30 has had an overwhelming response to this project--most of them groaning loudly and sharing youthful memories of being trapped in stuffy school libraries trying to half-ass assignments that were due the next day."

Once recognized as perhaps the most comprehensive, thorough, and indispensable set of encyclopedias on the market, Encyclopaedia Britannica, as re-imagined by Netflix, will, surprisingly, not be a documentary-style series. Instead, the narrative will follow the adventures of a misanthropic teenager obsessed with classic '80s films like Back to the Future, E.T. and The Last Starfighter. After encountering a "cursed" first edition of Britannica on a field trip to a local library, the show's protagonist embarks on an "epic" fantasy journey through the entire history of space, time, and human cultural evolution, which Hastings says will be contained within a single, five-episode first season.

Further details are spotty at this time, but Hastings assures Deadline that the show will include "lots of monsters and fighting and '80s-type special effects and stuff."

"We've learned that viewers between the ages of 30 and 45 will binge-watch, discuss, and post on social media about pretty much anything that's set in the 1980s and has supernatural beings in it," said Hastings. "Don't ask me why."

Encyclopaedia Britannica is currently slated for just one season with Netflix. If response from viewers is overwhelming, however, it's possible the show could be renewed for up to two additional seasons before being abruptly cancelled by Netflix and blocked from moving to other platforms, in order for Netflix to avoid honoring contractually mandated pay increases for its creative team. --Devon Ashby

Powered by: Xtenit