Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, June 5, 2019

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

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

Berkley Books: The Hitchcock Hotel by Stephanie Wrobel

Queen Mab Media: Get Our Brand Toolkit

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

Ace Books: Rewitched by Lucy Jane Wood

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

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


BookExpo 2019: The Power of Retail

"The reason that we're interested in bricks-and-mortar stores is because they create A) experience, B) impulse and C) gifting at a completely different level than our online partners create it," said Dominique Raccah, publisher and CEO of Sourcebooks, last week at a BookExpo panel entitled The Power of Retail: Making Books, Authors and Building Community.

Also on the panel were Oren Teicher, CEO of the American Booksellers Association; Dennis E. Abboud, president and CEO of Readerlink; Tim Mantel, chief merchandising officer, Barnes & Noble; and Madeline McIntosh, CEO of Penguin Random House U.S. Lynn Neary, arts correspondent for NPR, moderated the discussion.

(l.-r.) Mantel, Raccah, Abboud, McIntosh, Teicher (photo: BookExpo)

"What stores can do, and what so many of our members are able to do, is more than just sell books," said Teicher, commenting on the ability of independent bookstores in particular to offer personal shopping experiences and to create connections within a community. He reported that in the ABA's view, indies have "barely scratched the surface" of taking maximum advantage of that. On the subject of the localism movement, Teicher noted that while it does resonate with many consumers, particularly millennials, it does not resonate with everybody.

Mantel reported that according to B&N's own consumer insight work, the vast majority of the chain's customers come in with only a single book in mind. "But we certainly sell more than one book per transaction," continued Mantel. "So we know the environment we're creating is one in which people enjoy shopping, and they are discovering new content while they're in our stores." He added that for B&N stores to be successful, they absolutely have to know their local community and be given enough flexibility to cater to its tastes.

For Abboud, whose company specializes in providing books to retailers like Wal-Mart, Target and grocery and drug store chains, "books aren't particularly a destination item in the types of retailers that we serve." Some 77% of all book purchases in those channels are made on impulse, and he noted that though these stores can sometimes be many times larger than even the largest chain bookstores, they typically carry only 100 to 2,000 titles. As a result, inventories are heavily curated and "very data-driven."

When asked about the ways in which publishers and retailers have worked together to promote books, McIntosh answered that publishers generally used to see their role "as just delivering the books to your [retailers'] front doors," with the rest being up to retailers. But now, McIntosh continued, PRH sees itself as "in partnership all the way through the sales process." Some of the most important parts of that partnership are "still very meat and potatoes," such as "having extraordinary sales reps," while others are more data-driven and involve things like creating customized marketing campaigns for particular titles. She noted, too, that Penguin Random House "still invests huge amounts of money and our authors' time in author tours," and, pointing to books like those written by Celeste Ng and Amor Towles, forging personal relationships with booksellers can pay dividends.

On the subject of the relationship between national chains and independent booksellers, Teicher acknowledged that the two do have a "rather checkered past," but argued that consumers having more places to access books is "good for all of us." He pointed out too that in many cases, indies' best customers also shop in B&N, and vice versa. Mantel agreed that the more physical bookstores there are, the "better off we all are," and explained that while chains like B&N can "propel" authors to the next level, they "absolutely benefit" from indies rallying around debut authors.

Within the mass market channel, Abboud shared, the airport business is up about 2%-3%. He attributed some of that growth to airport bookstores stocking more varied and sophisticated titles than they perhaps would have in the past, in part because they've found that airport travelers are typically more affluent. While discussing airport stores, McIntosh added that along with independent bookstores, airports are "early heroes," and many recent, successful titles first "bubble up" in those two channels.

Asked about the future of physical book retailers, the panelists were optimistic. Raccah pointed out that "making an author" is still something that happens in physical stores, and added that in all the data she's seen, the most surprising result has been that YA remains a category that is about 75% physical. McIntosh said that according to PRH's own research, what millennial parents value is an in-person, trusted shopping experience, and they recognize the value in a physical objects.

At the same time, Mantel said, B&N is particularly encouraged about Gen Z, the demographic group younger than millennials, who are typically "way more inclined" to shop in a physical environment. And Teicher noted that compared to Western Europe, the U.S. is actually significantly "under-bookstored." He said: "We're absolutely confident that there is an opportunity for the physical book market--for the physical bookstore business--to grow." --Alex Mutter

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

Grand Opening Set for Bonjour Books DC

Bonjour Books DC will host a fête d'inauguration (grand opening celebration) June 8 in its new location at 3758 Howard Ave., Kensington, Md. The bookshop, which has relocated from a pop-up store in the back of Kensington Row Bookshop to a full storefront, carries "a large selection of new and used French-language titles for all ages, resources for French students, unique gifts, and much more! We also supply local French book fairs and events, and now supply French books to schools across the United States."

Owned and operated by Jennifer Fulton, Bonjour Books DC's grand opening will feature a ribbon-cutting with executive director of the French-American Chamber of Commerce Denis Chazelle and Kensington Mayor Tracey Furman, Bethesda magazine reported. French author and Kensington resident Carle Geneix will present her book, La Mille et Deuxieme Nuit (The Thousand and Second Night), following the ribbon-cutting.

When Fulton announced plans for the relocation in March, she wrote: "Part of the challenge in growing a retail store is visibility. Many people drive and walk by without ever knowing we exist. Recently what feels like the 100th person said to me 'I've been living in the area for years and never knew you were here.' So when a location on Howard Avenue became available just a few doors down, I decided to take the plunge.... Thank you so much for all your support for Bonjour Books DC--we can't wait to welcome you to our new store!"

Denis Chazelle, French American Chamber of Commerce DC executive director, commented:  "We are thrilled at the opening of our member, Bonjour Books DC. This unique destination will benefit anyone seeking French resources and connections in the DC area."

Watkins Publishing: Fall Into Folklore! ARCS Available On Request

Binc Names Higher Education Scholarship Recipients

The Book Industry Charitable Foundation has named the eight recipients who will receive a total of $29,500 in scholarships as part of the organization's 2019 Higher Education Scholarship Program. They were selected from 51 applicants, representing booksellers, dependents of booksellers and former Borders Books employees. See the complete list of winners here.

Seven $3,500 scholarships were awarded to dependents of booksellers and one $5,000 Karl Pohrt Memorial Scholarship was granted to a current independent bookstore employee who has overcome learning adversity or is a non‐traditional student.

Colin Blumer was one of the recipients. "We were thrilled to learn of Colin's scholarship," said Susanne Blumer, owner of Sassafras on Sutton, Black Mountain, N.C. "Binc was one of the first to call me when the roof of my bookstore collapsed last December, and now they are helping us with our son's college. We love Binc and we love this industry."

The Binc Higher Education scholarships can be used for tuition, fees, books, supplies, and room and board. Since 2001, the foundation has supported the educational goals of more than 700 booksellers, granting more than $2 million in awards.

"For 18 years Binc has helped ease the cost of a college education for booksellers' families," said executive director Pam French. "Reading about the scholarship winners and their educational goals is always inspiring. A big congratulations to all of the students!"

Aussie Booksellers of the Year Finalists Named

Finalists have been unveiled for the 2019 Australian Booksellers Association booksellers of the year awards, Books + Publishing reported. Winners will be announced in Melbourne on June 23 during this year's ABA Conference. Last year, Chris Redfern of Avenue Bookstore in Melbourne was bookseller of the year and Tim Jarvis from Fullers Bookshop in Hobart young bookseller of the year. This year's shortlist includes:

Bookseller of the year
Desiree Boardman (Readings Hawthorn)
Suzie Bull (Farrells Bookshop)
Sarina Gale (The Sun Bookshop)
John Mitchell (The Bookroom Collective)
Linda Tassone (Jeffreys Books)

Young bookseller of the year
Kate Adams (Better Read Than Dead)
Eadie Allen (The Sun Bookshop)
Michael Earp (The Little Bookroom)
Aisling Lawless (Dymocks Joondalup)
Simon McDonald (Potts Point Bookshop)


Image of the Day: Pride Month Window Display at Unabridged

Ed Devereux, owner of Chicago's Unabridged Bookstore, wearing a t-shirt promoting Ocean Vuong's new book, On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous (Penguin Press), stands in front of the store's gay pride window display.

Purple Crow Books: 'Chock Full of Great Reads'

Hillsborough, N.C., "might fly under the radar in comparison to its bigger neighbors, Durham and Chapel Hill, but its history and charm set it apart," Our State wrote in a feature on the town that "has rightly been called a museum without walls." Among the local must-visit stops showcased was Purple Crow Books.

"Hillsborough has been called 'one of the most literary communities in the state,' and nowhere is the passion for reading more evident than at Purple Crow Books," Our State noted. "Sharon Wheeler opened the bookstore in 2009 and has hosted notable national and regional authors, including Hillsborough resident Frances Mayes, author of the bestselling book Under the Tuscan Sun. The small shop is chock full of great reads. Tip: The bookstore specializes in local authors. Check out the local authors section for copies of signed books from notables like Jill McCorkle, David Payne and Annie Dillard."

'Sweet & Slightly Awkward Moment' at Tattered Cover

Singer, songwriter, musician, author and performance artist Amanda Palmer, who is married to Neil Gaiman, tweeted Sunday from Tattered Cover Book Store, Denver Colo.: "that sweet & slightly awkward moment when you are at the check-out counter of a bookstore in denver and are confronted with a basket of these and you say 'is this what i think it is' and one of the clerks blushes and says 'er yes that is your husband'. many of him. hi neils." And: "ps no i did not buy one too weird."

Personnel Changes at little bee books

Jordan Mondell has joined little bee books as marketing and publicity assistant. She has been an intern at Folio Literary Management and Harvey Klinger Literary Agency.

Media and Movies

TV: The Angel of Darkness

Melanie Field (Heathers) has been cast as a series regular in TNT's The Angel of Darkness, a limited series based on the sequel to Caleb Carr's bestselling novel The Alienist. In addition, newcomer Rosy McEwen is set for a recurring role in the new series, which also features returning lead cast members from The Alienist Daniel Brühl, Luke Evans and Dakota Fanning. Frank Pugliese (House of Cards) will serve as showrunner.

The Alienist "was a top 10 cable drama, having reached more than 50 million people across multiple platforms," Deadline wrote, adding that it earned six Emmy nominations, including Outstanding Limited Series.

Movies: Lucky

Karen Moncrieff (The Dead Girl, 13 Reasons Why) has adapted and will direct a film version of Alice Sebold's memoir Lucky, Deadline reported. Still Alice's James Brown is producing, with Lisa Wolofsky of Skywolf Media and Nadine de Barros through Fortitude financing and exec producing. Currently in pre-production and casting, the movie has an anticipated fall start date.

"Karen's work on Lucky achieves what every great adaptation should, staying true to Alice's memoir while imbuing it with the cinematic tension of a nail-biting thriller," said Brown.

Moncrieff added: "I'm excited to tell this unflinching, true story of a fierce rape survivor and her battle to become the person and writer she always intended to be. Alice's courage, wit, and willingness to remake her shocking personal trauma into moving and redemptive art are incredibly inspiring to me."

Books & Authors

Crankstart Launches Booker Prize Sponsorship

Effective June 1, Crankstart has officially taken over as sponsor of the Booker Prize, ending 18 years of support by the Man Group, the Bookseller reported. As part of the change, the prizes are now named the Booker and the International Booker Prize.

A charitable foundation run by Silicon Valley venture capitalist Sir Michael Moritz and his wife, Harriet Heyman, Crankstart was announced as the prize's new sponsor in a five-year deal earlier this year.

The prizes have a new website domain and social media handle, @thebookerprizes. The Booker Prize Foundation has also refreshed the awards' branding and logo. This year's Booker Prize longlist will be announced July 24, the shortlist on September 3 and the winner on October 14.

Awards: Lambda Literary; Neukom

Winners have been announced for the Lambda Literary Awards (the "Lammys"), which have, for more than 30 years, "identified and honored the best lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender books." See the complete list of category winners and finalists on Lambda Literary's website.

Along with the 25 book award winners, Alexander Chee received Lambda's Trustee Award "for his immeasurable contributions to culture as a novelist, essayist, activist, and teacher; Masha Gessen received the Visionary Award "for their work advancing public awareness around the global threat of totalitarianism"; and Barbara Smith received the Publishing Professional Award "for a lifetime of work that has profoundly shaped our collective understanding of the interconnections between race, class and gender."


The winners of the inaugural Neukom Institute Literary Arts Awards in Speculative Fiction are:

Debut: Peng Shepherd for The Book of M (Morrow)
Open Category: Audrey Schulman for Theory of Bastards (Europa Editions)

Dan Rockmore, director of the Neukom Institute for Computational Science at Dartmouth College, said, "The speculative fiction genre just seems to get more and more interesting. These works demonstrate how the setting of an imagined future can be used to explore and expose universal questions of human nature."

Each winner receives a $5,000 honorarium and will participate in an event at Dartmouth College that will include a panel on speculative fiction.

Reading with... Lena Andersson

photo: Ulla Montan

Lena Andersson is a novelist, essayist and a columnist for Dagens Nyheter, Sweden's largest morning paper. She writes about politics, society, culture, religion and other topics. Willful Disregard, her English-language debut, was her fifth novel and winner of the 2013 August Prize, Sweden's highest literary honor. Her new novel, Acts of Infidelity (Other Press, April 23, 2019), dissects the experience of "the other woman" to deliver a story that feels like peeking into the mind of your best--and most infuriating--friend.

On your nightstand now:

"The Statesman" by Plato (also known under the title "Politicus"). Last week it was "The Sophist" by the same author, next week "Timaeus," and so on. I read 10 pages of Plato every day. I do it to understand human thinking and our times, and times recently past. In the last century, philosophy of Plato's kind has been deemed obsolete, in the vain hope that it can be replaced by science, empiricism and deconstruction. All this leaves us with is just our existential void and confusion about the human condition.

On my nightstand is also Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations. The perpetual, and perpetually idle, hostility among intellectuals and particularly members of the cultural sphere towards the market and the free economy is a source of dismay and wonder. I read Smith for his thoroughness in explaining every minute detail of what economics are, almost presenting it as part of the human brain structure. Furthermore, I read him for his undaunted appreciation of liberty and morals, and for the satisfaction of encountering an author who, like Plato, considers certain human behavior to be innately and inevitably present in us, i.e., part of our nature.

Favorite book when you were a child:

The Real Elvis by Swedish author Maria Gripe, a less known but equally brilliant contemporary of Astrid Lindgren. I was a child in the '70s and The Real Elvis (Den riktiga Elvis) is a psychological study of a child named after his mother's idol, Elvis Presley. Because of this, he struggles with his identity and his sense of being second-rate, not nearly as important to his mother as Elvis Presley.

Your top five authors:

Plato, for immortally depicting the human mind.

Mary Shelley, for the massive intelligence and sensibility of creating Frankenstein.

Charlotte Brontë, for laying bare the human heart in Jane Eyre.

Georges Simenon, for his insights into human behavior and his stylistic skills in conveying it effortlessly.

Alexandre Dumas for giving the world The Count of Monte Cristo.

Book you've faked reading:

When people send me books that I haven't asked for and then have the bad taste to ask what I thought of it, it might be necessary to avoid the whole truth. But there is no reason to fake having read books to appear more erudite or with-it.  

Book you're an evangelist for:

Doctor Fischer of Geneva by Graham Greene. I read it on a long flight between South Korea and Stockholm and couldn't put the novel down. This happens rarely even with books I cherish. The flight felt short and by the time we landed I had finished the book in one sitting. Graham Greene is, of course, a true master of realistic writing, as is J.M. Coetzee, whose Youth I am also an evangelist for.

Book you've bought for the cover:

Out of Africa by Karen Blixen, an edition with a photograph of Meryl Streep and Robert Redford.

Book you hid from your parents:

I can't remember ever being ashamed of reading.

Book that changed your life:

Out of Africa by Karen Blixen, due to its leading to the Sydney Pollack film in 1985, which changed my life. To put it mildly, it sparked a passionate interest for a few years in the life and career of Robert Redford, which in turn made me explore the English language and the parts of American politics and American literature that were in any manner connected to his films.

A completely different book that did not change my life as such but certainly my thinking, is Anarchy, State and Utopia by Robert Nozick.

Favorite line from a book:

"Success is counted sweetest by those who never succeed/ To comprehend a nectar requires sorest need," by Emily Dickinson (quoted from memory).

Five books you'll never part with:

Most of my physical books I don't part with.

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

My relations with books are more cerebral than emotional. I don't ever read for pleasure only, there is always a friction, a resistance. Hence, the overwhelming passion that this question implies is overshadowed by other concerns.

Book Review

YA Review: Wilder Girls

Wilder Girls by Rory Power (Delacorte Press, $18.99 hardcover, 368p., ages 14-up, 9780525645580, July 9, 2019)

It's been a year and a half since a mysterious illness called the Tox forced the navy to quarantine the island off the coast of Maine where the Raxter School for Girls is located. Per the declaration, "subjects [are] to remain on school grounds at all times, for safety and to preserve conditions of initial contagion." Only the Boat Shift--a group of Raxter girls chosen specifically for their strength, survival acumen and intelligence--is allowed out. Boat Shift ventures onto the island to pick up the weekly supply of rations and clothes left by the navy, which drops a pallet rather than come in contact with the afflicted. The Tox turns people into "sick, strange" victims with "things bursting out of [them], bits missing, and pieces sloughing off." Those infected face "flare-ups" that leave "their bodies too wrecked to keep breathing." Sometimes, it even manifests as "violence like a fever," turning the "girls against themselves."

Sixteen-year-old best friends Hetty, Byatt and Reese are, like all their classmates, simply trying to survive as they wait for the CDC's promised cure--the cure that will fix Reese's "left hand with its sharp, scaled fingers," Byatt's "serrated ridge of bone down her back" and Hetty's dead eye with "lid fused shut, [and] something growing underneath." When Byatt has a flare-up and is taken to the infirmary, Hetty tries to visit, though it's against the rules. But Byatt isn't in the infirmary--she isn't anywhere. Hetty decides to break quarantine to find her friend, and sneaks off school grounds, but what she faces there is far worse than the Tox.

Rory Power's debut novel, Wilder Girls, is an ode to empowering women and a testament to the strength of female bonds. Power never paints the teenagers as weak females waiting to be rescued, but makes them people trying to survive. She doesn't pit the girls against each other, either--all of them have the Tox, which means everyone is on equal footing. Power also places great emphasis on female relationships. Ever since Hetty met Byatt, the two have been inseparable: "She knew who she was and who I should be," Hetty thinks of Byatt, "and she fit right into all the places in me I couldn't fill." The bond they have is so powerful that after only three years of knowing each other, Hetty loves "Byatt more than anything, more than [herself]," and would do anything for her.  

Wilder Girls may be a tough read, with its scenes of self-mutilation, graphic violence, unsolicited medical treatment and suicide; and the setting is eerie, a place where "the wilderness reaches inside" both the girls and the world around them, "seeping into the earth," mutating all living things. But Power's themes of feminism and survival make this novel far more than just an unsettling horror story. --Lana Barnes, freelance reviewer and proofreader

Shelf Talker: This powerful debut novel about a strange disease at an all-girls boarding school explores female empowerment, friendship and survival with tenacity and brilliance.


TV Series Rewind

Tuesday's media news note on the TV adaptation of Rebecca Stott's In the Days of Rain contained two errors from the Deadline article we linked to. The book is a memoir, not a novel. And while Van der Valk is a British TV crime drama series produced by Thames Television for ITV, the detective protagonist in Nicolas Freeling's novels is Dutch.

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