Shelf Awareness for Thursday, May 2, 2019

Random House Worlds: Damsel by Evelyn Skye

St. Martin's Press: The Girls of Summer by Katie Bishop

Soho Crime: The Rope Artist by Fuminori Nakamura, transl. by Sam Bett

Flatiron Books: Once Upon a Prime: The Wondrous Connections Between Mathematics and Literature by Sarah Hart

Grand Central Publishing: Goodbye Earl: A Revenge Novel by Leesa Cross-Smith

Texas Bookman Presents Texas Remainder Expo

Steve Madden Ltd: The Cobbler: How I Disrupted an Industry, Fell from Grace, and Came Back Stronger Than Ever by Steve Madden and Jodi Lipper

St. Martin's Griffin: The Bookshop by the Bay by Pamela M. Kelley


Baker & Taylor Dropping Bookstores; Indies Unhappy

Baker & Taylor has made it official: it is leaving the wholesale retail book market. The move was hinted at when it became public late last year that the company was in talks to sell its retail operations to Ingram and then in the departure over the last few months of key retail staff members. B&T will focus on its traditional core business of servicing libraries, as well as publisher services.

In the announcement yesterday, B&T and parent company Follett said that "over the coming weeks," B&T will "wind down our activities and related services selling books wholesale to retailers," aiming to complete the process by July 15. (B&T will, however, continue to service college bookstores managed by Follett Higher Education.)


As part of the move, B&T is closing its warehouses in Somerville, N.J., and Reno, Nev., by the end of the year. The company's office in Somerville will stay open.

B&T and Follett called the decision to exit the wholesale retail business "not an easy one. The retail market has become an increasingly difficult market in which to operate. Operating costs have continued to rise which, compounded with customers' expectations for same or next-day delivery, has put strong pressure on the supply chain and operating profit. The leadership at Baker & Taylor and Follett studied options that might help our retail performance and ultimately determined that the best course for Baker & Taylor would be to devote our resources to our public library and publisher services businesses."

In a letter to publishers, the companies said, "By focusing on our core competency as the leading, innovative supplier to public libraries, we know our future will be a bright one. We are excited to partner with you as we improve literacy and learning in the communities we serve around the county and globe."

B&T added that it is adjusting "algorithms to focus on the fulfillment of the library business and allow stock to sell down. Stock transfers between facilities will also occur when necessary. Any remaining stock will be returned to our publishers."

B&T's move has caused great consternation among indie booksellers. Oren Teicher, CEO of the American Booksellers Association, commented: "The competitive wholesale environment has played an important role in the resurgence of indie bookstores over the past several years in the United States. Baker & Taylor's decision to no longer serve the trade market is very bad news for indie booksellers and, in the long run, will not be good for consumers. ABA intends to work as closely as we can with other industry partners to ensure that indie bookstores can continue to access inventory in as cost-effective and rapid a manner as possible to allow member stores to continue to serve their customers. However, there's no way to sugarcoat it--today's news is not good."

Bookseller comments haven't been sugarcoated, either. On Twitter, for example, Hannah Oliver Depp, owner of Loyalty Bookstore, Washington, D.C., called the change "a f*cking tragedy for our industry. Having one major wholesaler is the loss of competitive pricing and swift customer service that indies depend on to stay ahead."

Subtext Books, St. Paul, Minn., wrote on Twitter: "This is truly terrible news for our industry. Limiting wholesale distribution to one company is bad for the ecosystem of literacy, and bad economics. Immediately, this means that our mid-week special orders will likely not show up on Friday, but on Monday instead."

And Paul Swydan, owner of the Silver Unicorn Bookstore, West Acton, Mass., wrote on Twitter, "It means I will make less money when I fill special orders for customers, because Baker & Taylor's sole competition offers a much lower discount." He added,  "In the larger sense, it's another example of how Amazon is crippling this country in their mostly unchecked quest to monopolize any business they choose to focus on."

Blackstone Publishing: What Remains by Wendy Walker

Cengage and McGraw-Hill to Merge

Cengage and McGraw-Hill, two of the largest academic publishers remaining, have agreed to a merger on equal terms that is expected to close by early 2020, the companies announced yesterday.

Led by current Cengage CEO Michael E. Hansen, the combined company will be named McGraw Hill and feature more than 44,000 titles. Aside from Hansen, the combined company's leadership team has not been announced, but will likely be made up of members of both McGraw-Hill and Cengage. McGraw-Hill's current president and CEO Nana Banerjee will continue to lead that company through the transition.

"The new company will offer a broad range of best-in-class content--delivered through digital platforms at an affordable price," said Hansen. "Together, we will usher in an era in which all students can afford the quality learning materials needed to succeed--regardless of their socioeconomic status or the institution they attend. Additionally, the combined company will have robust financial strength to invest in next-generation products, technology and services that create superior experiences and value for millions of students."

Headquartered in Boston, Mass., Cengage serves the K-12, library and workforce training markets and is known for its higher education digital subscription service Cengage Unlimited. McGraw-Hill, based in New York City, has offices around the world and offers its array of learning materials in more than 75 languages.

Banerjee said: "For more than a century, our goal has been to unlock the potential of each learner and improve lives through education. Combining our two companies and our complementary offerings will enable us to continue innovating. In this way we can continue to empower students and educators around the world with a wide choice of affordable, engaging course materials and advanced digital platforms to help them succeed throughout a lifetime of learning."

GLOW: Flatiron Books: Bad Summer People by Emma Rosenblum

ABA Election Results: Jamie Fiocco Is President-Elect

American Booksellers Association members have voted to elect Jamie Fiocco of Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill, N.C., for a two-year term as ABA president, and Bradley Graham of Politics and Prose, Washington, D.C., to a two-year term as ABA vice-president/secretary. Graham was also elected to a three-year term on the board; he had been serving the unexpired period of what would have been current ABA president Robert Sindelar's term as a board director.

Jamie Fiocco

In other election results, Jenny Cohen of Waucoma Bookstore, Hood River, Ore.; Kris Kleindienst of Left Bank Books, St. Louis, Mo., and Chris Morrow of Northshire Bookstore in Manchester Center, Vt., and Saratoga Springs, N.Y., were elected to three-year terms. For Kleindienst and Morrow these are their second three-year terms.

Leaving the board are president Robert Sindelar of Third Place Books, Seattle, Wash., and Annie Philbrick of Bank Square Books, Mystic, Conn., and Savoy Bookshop & Café, Westerly, R.I.

The changes in the board will take place at meetings during BookExpo in New York City May 29-31.

William Morrow & Company: The God of Good Looks by Breanne Mc Ivor

Obituary Note: Richard Todd

Richard Todd, an editor and writer whose "ability to be at once astute and reassuring... made him not only a celebrated writer--penning the 2008 book The Thing Itself: On the Search for Authenticity and articles for publications such as the New York Times and the Atlantic Monthly--but also a beloved editor," died April 21, the Daily Hampshire Gazette reported. He was 78.

Todd guided the careers of numerous writers, including his longtime collaborator Tracy Kidder, who met him in 1973 when Todd was an editor at the Atlantic Monthly and Kidder "a young writer hoping to land a spot in the magazine," according to the Gazette. Kidder said that Todd became "the most important person in my professional life," as well as a close friend. The two collaborated in 2013 on Good Prose: The Art of Nonfiction.

"I was almost tempted this morning to call him to ask how I should deal with his death," Kidder said. "It sounds bizarre, but it's true. It's a big hole in the world for me, and for many others."

Journalist and author Adrian Nicole LeBlanc (Random Family: Love, Drugs, Trouble, and Coming of Age in the Bronx) said Todd was a remarkably patient editor who "truly understood the need for messy first and second and third drafts.... He never made you feel like you weren't a good writer. He just assumed everything about the confused draft to be an ordinary part of the process, and that was such a kind of profound giver of confidence."

Todd eventually left the Atlantic to establish his own imprint at Houghton Mifflin, where he edited Kidder, LeBlanc, Ann Patchett, James Conaway, Anthony Lake, Darcy Frey, Jonathan Hale, Alan Lelchuk and Adrian Nicole, among others.

As Todd was dying, he "was surrounded by two of his great loves in life, according to his daughters--family and words, read to him by his loved ones. Among other selections, his youngest of three daughters, Nell, read him lines from Moby Dick," the Gazette noted, adding that Todd was an editor until the end. While reading to her father, Nell said she didn't pronounce the word "vexatious" correctly, and "some of his last, clearest words were 'it's vexatious.' "

G.P. Putnam's Sons: The Celebrants by Steven Rowley


Image of the Day: Death on the Menu at Copperfish

Copperfish Books, Punta Gorda, Fla., hosted Lucy Burdette, author of Death on the Menu, the latest in the Key West food critic mystery series (Crooked Lane Books). Pictured: store owner Cathy Graham, Burdette, owner Serena Wyckoff and bookseller Jean Lewis.

BookPeople of Moscow: A 'Main Street Staple'

Describing BookPeople of Moscow as a "Main Street staple" that "offers more than books to the community," the University of Idaho's Argonaut student newspaper showcased the local indie, and owner Carol Price, who purchased the bookshop in 2011 with business partner Steffen Werner.

"In the beginning, when we first had the store, was the time when independent bookstores were still having more of a hard time than they're having now," Price said. "In the last eight years, there's been a resurgence of independent bookstores around the country and as part of that trend, people really began to understand that concept of shopping local and why that's important."

Visiting author Pete Fromm, whose latest book is A Job You Mostly Won't Know How to Do, said Price "reads really widely and really well. When you go in there, she gets to know you and your tastes and she fits you with books that you probably never would have otherwise read.... I'm not quite sure how she does it. It's a fairly small town and every time I'm there she just packs the store with people and gets them fired up, which can be super hard to do, not just to get people in but to have (people who have) already read the books so the discussions are fun. It's a rare talent to have."

Chalkboard of the Day: Anderson’s Bookshop

"Young adventurers might be hesitant to explore outdoors in today's cold, damp weather, but they can enjoy an exciting adventure indoors during our weekly story time," Anderson's Bookshop, Naperville, Ill., noted in sharing a photo of the store's sidewalk chalkboard.

Cool IBD Leftovers Idea at Turn of the Corkscrew

Posted on Facebook yesterday by Turn of the Corkscrew Books & Wine, Rockville Centre, N.Y.: "We're sorry if you weren't able to stop by for independent bookstore day and missed all the activities, authors and amazing balloon creations, not to mention our ever-popular blind date with a book. Pssst, the thing is, we were expecting you and prepared stacks of those 'blind dates' and decided to keep the fun going since we have many left. So, here's the deal, with any regular-priced book purchase, you get to select a free book. Here's the hitch, it's hidden in a paper bag but with a hint of what it could be on the outside. Come in for the fun and help show that everyday is independent bookstore day!"

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Moby on Real Time with Bill Maher

Dr. Oz: John E. Douglas, co-author of The Killer Across the Table: Unlocking the Secrets of Serial Killers and Predators with the FBI's Original Mindhunter (Dey Street, $26.99, 9780062910639).

HBO's Real Time with Bill Maher: Moby, author of Then It Fell Apart (Faber & Faber, $24.95, 9780571348893).

This Weekend on Book TV: In-Depth with Kathleen Hall Jamieson

Book TV airs on C-Span 2 this weekend from 8 a.m. Saturday to 8 a.m. Monday and focuses on political and historical books as well as the book industry. The following are highlights for this coming weekend. For more information, go to Book TV's website.

Saturday, May 4
4:10 p.m. Matt Farwell, author of American Cipher: Bowe Bergdahl and the U.S. Tragedy in Afghanistan (Penguin Press, $28, 9780735221048), at Magic City Books in Tulsa, Okla.

5:55 p.m. Rick Reilly, author of Commander in Cheat: How Golf Explains Trump (Hachette Books, $28, 9780316528085), at Solid State Books in Washington, D.C.

6:50 p.m. Tyler Cowen, author of Big Business: A Love Letter to an American Anti-Hero (St. Martin's Press, $28.99, 9781250110541), at Politics & Prose in Washington, D.C.

7:50 p.m. Valerie Jarrett, author of Finding My Voice: My Journey to the West Wing and the Path Forward (Viking, $30, 9780525558132).

9:15 p.m. Sonia Purnell, author of A Woman of No Importance: The Untold Story of the American Spy Who Helped Win World War II (Viking, $28, 9780735225299), at Politics and Prose in Washington, D.C. (Re-airs Monday at 2:15 a.m.)

10 p.m. Jennifer Eberhardt, author of Biased: Uncovering the Hidden Prejudice That Shapes What We See, Think, and Do (Viking, $28, 9780735224933). (Re-airs Sunday at 9 p.m. and Monday at 12 a.m. and 3 a.m.)

Sunday, May 5
12 p.m. Live In-Depth q&a with Kathleen Hall Jamieson, author of Cyberwar: How Russian Hackers and Trolls Helped Elect a President: What We Don't, Can't, and Do Know (Oxford University Press, $24.95, 9780190915810). (Re-airs Sunday at 10 p.m.)

6:25 p.m. Michael Tanner, author of The Inclusive Economy: How to Bring Wealth to America's Poor (Cato Institute, $24.95, 9781948647014).

Books & Authors

Awards: Helen & Kurt Wolff Translation, Christian Book Winners

Damion Searls, translator of Anniversaries by Uwe Johnson (New York Review of Books), has won the 2019 Helen & Kurt Wolff Translator's Prize, awarded in honor of "an outstanding literary translation from German into English published in the U.S. the previous year." Searls will receive the $10,000 award at a prize ceremony at the Goethe-Institut New York on May 23.

The jury stated, in part, "This multi-volume novel, which poses daunting translation challenges, chronicles a year (August 1967-August 1968) in the life of Gesine Cresspahl, a woman who left her small town in East Germany for New York's Upper West Side with her young daughter, and overlays her daily struggles with painful memories of the past and the alarming news of the present world in a daily-recorded, year-long montage. Searls's translation of this monumental work--which has been compared to the writings of Joyce, Faulkner, and Balzac--is the first complete edition of this novel in English. His sparkling translation captures the dizzying swirl of events, from the quotidian to the earth-shattering, with meticulous, acoustically spellbinding prose, and makes for riveting reading throughout its nearly 1,700 pages."


The Evangelical Christian Publishers Association has announced the winners of the 2019 Christian Book Awards in 12 categories. To see them all, click here.

The 2019 Christian Book of the Year is Embraced: 100 Devotions to Know God Is Holding You Close by Lysa Terkeurst (Thomas Nelson). The Embraced devotional was a finalist in the Devotion & Gift category and is based on her bestselling book Embraced.

Attainment: New Titles Out Next Week

Selected new titles appearing next Tuesday, May 7:

The Big Kahuna by Janet Evanovich and Peter Evanovich (Putnam, $28, 9780525536642) is the 6th mystery with FBI Agent Kate O'Hare and con man Nicholas Fox.

The Pioneers: The Heroic Story of the Settlers Who Brought the American Ideal West by David McCullough (Simon & Schuster, $30, 9781501168680) chronicles the settling of the Northwest Territory.

Things My Son Needs to Know about the World by Fredrik Backman (Atria, $24, 9781501196867) is a collection of essays about fatherhood.

Furious Hours: Murder, Fraud, and the Last Trial of Harper Lee by Casey Cep (Knopf, $26.95, 9781101947869) recounts the case of an Alabama serial killer and Harper Lee's attempt to write a book about it.

Our Man: Richard Holbrooke and the End of the American Century by George Packer (Knopf, $30, 9780307958020) is a biography of the late American diplomat.

The Paris Diversion: A Novel by Chris Pavone (Crown, $27, 9781524761509) involves what at first seems to be a huge terror attack in Paris.

Sunset Beach: A Novel by Mary Kay Andrews (St. Martin's Press, $28.99, 9781250126108) is a mystery/romance about a woman inheriting an old beach house.

The Seven or Eight Deaths of Stella Fortuna: A Novel by Juliet Grames (Ecco, $27.99, 9780062862822) tells an intergenerational story of Italian immigrants.

The Farm: A Novel by Joanne Ramos (Random House, $27, 9781984853752) takes place in an isolated luxury retreat where surrogates make babies for other people.

Finale by Stephanie Garber (Flatiron, $19.99, 9781250157669) is the third and final book in the bestselling Caraval series.

Her Royal Highness by Rachel Hawkins (Delacorte, $18.99, 9781524738266) is a companion YA romance to Prince Charming in which a young woman falls in love with a Scottish princess.

Earn It!: Know Your Value and Grow Your Career, in Your 20s and Beyond by Mika Brzezinski and Daniela Pierre-Bravo (Hachette, $16.99, 9781602865914) gives career advice from an MSNBC host and producer.

There There by Tommy Orange (Vintage, $16, 9780525436140).

State of the Union: A Marriage in Ten Parts by Nick Hornby (Riverhead, $15, 9780593087343).

The Mars Room: A Novel by Rachel Kushner (Scribner, $17, 9781476756585).

IndieBound: Other Indie Favorites

From last week's Indie bestseller lists, available at, here are the recommended titles, which are also Indie Next Great Reads:

Hardcover: An Indies Introduce Title

Lot: Stories by Bryan Washington (Riverhead, $25, 9780525533672). "This is such a phenomenal book by a writer who should be on everyone's radar for 2019. Washington has a detailed and poignant style that reveals the tender soul within all of his characters. None of the characters that we meet in Lot are strangers--they are our mothers, brothers, lovers, and friends. Washington pulls them all together through interlocking stories, taking us in between the cracks and revealing how these characters feel and what drives them (and what doesn't). This series of stories, told with no agenda, explores sexual awakening and identification, gentrification and its victims, and the power of family to both save us and fail us." --Allie Bangerter, hello hello books, Rockland, Me.


The Girl He Used to Know: A Novel by Tracey Garvis Graves (St. Martin's Press, $26.99, 9781250200358). "The Girl He Used to Know is a charming, engaging, and uplifting love story told from the perspective of Annika, who from childhood has struggled to fit in, and Jonathan, who is facing his own life challenges. I found myself rooting for these two characters throughout the novel, from their initial introduction at a college chess club meeting to experiencing the inescapable horror of the 9/11 attacks. This book is a must-read in that it celebrates differences in a realistic and believable way." --Jann Griffiths, BookSmart, Morgan Hill, Calif.


Wade in the Water: Poems by Tracy K. Smith (Graywolf Press, $16, 9781555978365). "In Wade in the Water, Smith masterfully makes herself into a medium through which the voices of other (forgotten) people can become poetry. 'I Will Tell You the Truth About This…' is a haunting and beautiful poem written using the letters and statements of African-Americans who enlisted as soldiers in the Civil War. Here, Smith is simultaneously the declarer and the creator of a space wherein others may be given room to declare. It is this balancing act that brings out the heart and beauty of Wade in the Water. The impersonal is made intimate, the world is made individual, and through it all, Smith guides us with true poetic sense. Wade in the Water is a necessary, beautiful book!" --Eli Sorich, Magers & Quinn Booksellers, Minneapolis, Minn.

For Ages 4 to 8

Bruno, the Standing Cat by Nadine Robert, illustrated by Jean Jullien (Random House, $17.99, 9780525647140). "Bruno, the Standing Cat is the book you need! Having a tough day? Read Bruno! Having a great day? Read Bruno! Not a cat person? Doesn't matter, I'm not either, read Bruno! One of the funniest, cleverest, wittiest, fun-to-read-aloud new picture books this spring. You need Bruno!" --Kathleen Carey, Book House of Stuyvesant Plaza, Albany, N.Y.

For Ages 9 to 12

Sweeping Up the Heart by Kevin Henkes (Greenwillow, $16.99, 9780062852540). " 'Poor Amelia Albright,' Mrs. O'Brien says every day and has for the last 10 years, ever since Amelia's mother died of cancer. Henkes' Amelia is a 12-year-old artist whose new artist friend, Casey, is also dealing with grief as his parents go through a divorce. Together, the two young artists help each other journey through loneliness, loyalty, death, and family crises. After reading Sweeping Up the Heart, readers will fully understand why Henkes has received two Newbery Honors and they will want to read more of his timeless and classic stories." --Karen Briggs, The Booknook, East Talwas, Mich.

For Teen Readers

Bloodleaf by Crystal Smith (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $18.99, 9781328496300). "I adored this dark fantasy take on 'The Goose Girl.' The characters are beautifully imagined, and witnessing Aurelia's transformation from willful princess into selfless heroine was incredible. Smith's system of blood magic is a fascinating and original idea. Bloodleaf is about one girl's quest to save a kingdom, but more than that, it's about loyalty to oneself and others and the strength that comes from it." --Sami Thomason, Square Books, Oxford, Miss.

[Many thanks to IndieBound and the ABA!]

Book Review

Review: Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World

Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World by David Epstein (Riverhead, $28 hardcover, 352p., 9780735214484, May 28, 2019)

In the 21st-century world of 24/7 cable news and the Internet, there's no opinion lacking a highly credentialed expert to advance it. David Epstein's well-researched, lively Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World sounds a note of caution when it comes to the credulous acceptance of these oracular pronouncements. Instead, Epstein makes a persuasive case for the "advantages of breadth and delayed specialization" in shaping better leaders and problem solvers in a complex world.

Epstein (The Sports Gene: Inside the Science of Extraordinary Athletic Performance) distinguishes between "kind" learning environments (like golf or chess, where intensive, repetitive practice yields immediate feedback and ultimately can lead to mastery) and "wicked" ones (like medicine or firefighting, where problems shift shape, and experience, paradoxically, often "will reinforce the exact wrong lessons." He then argues that the pressure toward hyper-specialization in many fields is counterproductive and, at times, even dangerous.

Using his own life as a starting point (he detoured from a career in environmental science to work as an investigative journalist for Pro Publica and write for Sports Illustrated), Epstein also offers a plethora of examples to support his thesis that "modern life requires range, making connections across far-flung domains and ideas." To nurture the talents of people best able to achieve that goal, he advocates passionately against early specialization and for the idea of "match quality." It's a term he borrows from the discipline of economics, where it's used to describe the congruence "between the work someone does and who they are." As he explains, the search for that match is the defining characteristic in the lives of successful late starters like Vincent Van Gogh or 102-year-old Frances Hesselbein, who took her first professional job at age 54 and now heads a leadership institute that bears her name, after retiring from her much-admired tenure as CEO of the Girl Scouts of America.

Epstein presents a host of fascinating case studies, both cautionary and inspiring, to illustrate the limitations of narrowly specialized expertise. The space shuttle Challenger disaster in January 1986 demonstrates the flaws of a quantitative culture that discarded the warnings of engineers who couldn't support their fears of a catastrophic accident with hard data. A brief biography of Gunpei Yokoi, the "tinkerer" responsible for creating products like the Nintendo Game Boy by "putting cheap, simple technology to use in ways no one else considered" is nothing short of astonishing. And a chapter on how and why expert predictions miss the mark should induce caution the next time a financial wizard predicts a stock market boom or bust. But Range by no means is a brief for ignorance or for the validation of ill-informed guesswork. Rather, Epstein offers an exhilarating vision of how smart, curious people can more skillfully apply their best thinking to change and improve the world. --Harvey Freedenberg, freelance reviewer

Shelf Talker: Journalist David Epstein makes the case for breadth over depth when it comes to training people to solve complex problems.

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