Also published on this date: Thursday, August 8, 2019: Dedicated Issue: HarperVia

Shelf Awareness for Thursday, August 8, 2019

Viking: The Bookshop: A History of the American Bookstore by Evan Friss

Pixel+ink: Missy and Mason 1: Missy Wants a Mammoth

Bramble: The Stars Are Dying: Special Edition (Nytefall Trilogy #1) by Chloe C Peñaranda

Blue Box Press: A Soul of Ash and Blood: A Blood and Ash Novel by Jennifer L Armentrout

Charlesbridge Publishing: The Perilous Performance at Milkweed Meadow by Elaine Dimopoulos, Illustrated by Doug Salati

Minotaur Books: The Dark Wives: A Vera Stanhope Novel (Vera Stanhope #11) by Ann Cleeves


Elliott Purchase of B&N Closes; Daunt Is New CEO

James Daunt

The acquisition of Barnes & Noble by Elliott Advisors for $683 million, including the assumption of debt, has closed, and B&N is now a privately held subsidiary of Elliott. James Daunt, managing director of Waterstones, which has been owned by Elliott since June 2018, has also become CEO of B&N, in effect replacing Len Riggio, who built B&N and was its longtime chairman.

Daunt commented: "This is a very good day for bookselling. Barnes & Noble is the greatest of all bookstore names and will now benefit from the support of an owner committed to physical bookselling. With investment and concentration on the core principles of good bookselling, the prospects for this extraordinary company are bright. I look forward very much to working with the booksellers at Barnes & Noble, being already indebted to Len Riggio for his wisdom and grateful for the welcome and professionalism of the executive team during the acquisition process."

Daunt will spend about 75% of his time in New York, telling the Bookseller: "The majority of my time will be over there, certainly to begin with, not least because that's where the heavy-lifting part of the job is." He added that purchase was good for U.K. bookselling. "A world that was just Amazon in the U.S. would be very alarming for us in the U.K."

Paul Best, portfolio manager and head of European private equity at Elliott, said, "Our investment in Barnes & Noble, following our acquisition of Waterstones just over a year ago, demonstrates our commitment to bookselling and to real bookstores. Barnes & Noble has an extraordinary heritage, one that we want to protect and grow. We look forward to working with James Daunt and the Barnes & Noble management team in this exciting endeavor."

Elliott's tender offer expired on Tuesday, at which point 82.15% of B&N's shares had been tendered. Payment was made yesterday.

BINC: Do Good All Year - Click to Donate!

Len Riggio: A Major and Mixed Legacy

Len Riggio

With the completion of the sale of Barnes & Noble to Elliott Advisors, the long bookselling career of Len Riggio, who helped change the face of bookselling in the last 50 years, has effectively come to an end. While a student, in the 1960s, Riggio started out as a bookseller in the New York University bookstore, opened a competing off-campus college store--SBX, Student Book Exchange--then expanded SBX in the New York City area. He entered trade bookselling in a major way in 1971, when he bought the Barnes & Noble store on Fifth Avenue and 18th Street. Soon he opened more B&N stores, also in the New York area, which featured discounted books, a rarity, and were promoted via radio and TV advertising, another rarity. Through its acquisition of Marboro Books, the company also had an extensive mail-order business, which provided a solid foundation for online bookselling.

Riggio became a national bookseller when, in 1987, B&N bought B. Dalton Bookseller, the chain of mall stores that numbered nearly 800 and was second only in size to Waldenbooks. In the following years, B&N bought the Bookstop and Doubleday bookstore chains.

At the end of the 1980s, Riggio began what perhaps is his greatest legacy in his career: creating the Barnes & Noble superstore and expanding it nationwide. The idea of a huge store of 25,000 square feet or more that stocked several hundred thousand titles, had a café, plenty of chairs for customers, with music, video and related sidelines, was new and popular--and aggressively pursued by B&N and competitors that included Borders, Basset and Crown, none of which are still in business. During this time, Riggio also increased his college bookstore management business, which became the second-largest, after Follett.

B&N's superstores, which totalled about 725 at their peak a decade ago (there are now about 625), revolutionized bookselling and led to the closing of many independent bookstores. For most of the 1990s, B&N, along with Borders, seemed to be the behemoth that would dominate bookselling for decades to come.

But, of course, in 1994, opened, initially as a bookstore only, and B&N was slow to appreciate the importance of online bookselling. While B&N eventually expanded its online presence with B&, Amazon grew at a exponential pace and now claims a much larger part of the market than B&N ever had.

The next blow to B&N came in 2007, when Amazon introduced the Kindle. The e-book devices were so popular initially that many industry gurus predicted print books wouldn't exist other than as curiosities by 2015. Two years after the Kindle's launch, B&N introduced the Nook, which had promising sales for a time, but lost steam and is now a major drag on the company financially.

B&N's new-concept store in Edina, Minn.

B&N was late or missed out on other major trends in book retailing after the turn of the century. Most B&N superstores date from the '90s and show their age, especially considering the many changes in general retail in the past 25 years. The company has scrambled to find the right formula for its stores in terms of size and inventory mix. The few "new concept" stores B&N have opened are usually smaller than the older ones, with about 15,000 square feet of space, with fewer books, upgraded cafes and sidelines that focus on educational and children's products. But the company has been slow to open more of these stores or renovate established ones.

Some observers have considered B&N's initial public offering in 1993 a mistake since it seemed to force the company to run operations in a way designed most of all to please institutional investors on Wall Street. Ever more executives at the company were recruited from outside the book industry, which usually meant they spent a lot of time learning the quirks of the book business before they could really begin work--but still sometimes didn't seem to master basic bookselling principles. And when sales declined in the past decade, the company often took standard business approaches, which included, for example, cutting costs by firing its most experienced booksellers and by firing many regional buyers, who often made individual stores more reflective of their areas.

Riggio was fiercely loyal to many people in the business and many employees, and B&N treated publisher and distributor reps well. He also has been a generous philanthropist, promoting the causes of literacy, education, and progressive politics. He helped people who lost their homes in Hurricane Katrina and made major donations to the Dia Center in Beacon, N.Y., New York University, the Langston Hughes Library, the Democratic Party and most recently, 100 incoming students at Kingsborough Community College in Brooklyn, N.Y., whose tuition he's paying. In 2017, he was Grand Marshall of the Columbus Day Parade in New York City (to which he invited more than 100 authors of Italian descent). He also won the Americanism Award from the Anti-Defamation League.

Riggio has loved to wheel and deal. He has bought and sold many companies, taking them public, then going private again or spinning them off and sometimes buying them back. Controlled by Riggio, B&N often bought and sold companies that Riggio owned. The list of such dealings includes B&, B&N Education, MBS Textbook Exchange, GameStop, Software, Etc., Babbage's, Babbage's Etc., Funco and NeoStar. Even this year, he was involved in several of the bids for B&N.

Personally we found Len to be amazingly mercurial. At one meeting, he would be the most charming, charismatic person, extolling literacy, arguing that every American should have easy access to books, that the book world should celebrate the opening of every bookstore "regardless of its pedigree." At the next meeting, he would be combative and suspicious--and argue over such things as whether or not B. Dalton Bookseller, with nearly 800 stores, was a chain. (He maintained that instead it was a "network of booksellers.")

In recent years, after the retirement of his brother Stephen as CEO in 2010, Riggio seemed to have trouble letting go of control of the company. B&N went through four CEOs in five years, and several of them--including Ron Boire and Demos Parneros--exited abruptly after Riggio decided they weren't worthy of the position. But now, with the sale to Elliott, James Daunt, managing director of Waterstones, also owned by Elliott, is the new CEO of B&N, hoping to work the same magic on B&N that he worked on Waterstones. At 78, Riggio is likely relieved that the company he built and nursed along is in good hands. Len, it's been an amazing ride and we wish you well! --John Mutter

GLOW: Milkweed Editions: Becoming Little Shell: Returning Home to the Landless Indians of Montana by Chris La Tray

Calif.'s Frugal Frigate Children's Bookstore Changes Hands


Erin Rivera has purchased The Frugal Frigate Children's Bookstore, located in downtown Redlands, Calif., from previous owner Gay Kolodzik, who has owned and operated the store since 2010. 

"First and foremost I want to assure all of our friends that the store is going to stay the magical place you've come to know and love throughout our 31-year history," Rivera wrote in a Facebook post announcing the purchase. "This is not a business opportunity for me. It's a calling and an absolute dream come true."

While Rivera has spent the last 20 or so years in the insurance industry, she is a Redlands local, and her first job was as a part-time bookseller at the Frugal Frigate, where she worked with the store's founder and original owner, Katherine Thomerson. Said Rivera: "I would walk over after school from Redlands High and I'm still convinced that this was the best first job ever."

Rivera has not announced any major changes to the store, and activities like storytime sessions will continue as scheduled. She said she was grateful to Kolodzik and her staff for "everything they have done over the past decade for the store, and I look forward to seeing you all soon."

The Frugal Frigate resides in a building that once served as the city's original carriage house and pony stable, and dates back to 1904. The name refers to an Emily Dickinson poem called "There Is No Frigate Like a Book."

G.P. Putnam's Sons: Four Weekends and a Funeral by Ellie Palmer

Obituary Note: Warren Johnson

Warren Johnson, whose nickname "Tubby" was familiar to fans of Tubby & Coo's Mid-City Book Shop in New Orleans, La., died August 3. He was 99. In 2016, two years after opening her bookstore, owner Candice Huber explained the genesis of the store's unusual name in a Bookselling This Week interview.

Tubby & Coo were her grandparents' childhood nicknames and the bookshop is located in the New Orleans neighborhood where they grew up across the street from each other. "Tubby is my grandfather and Coo was my grandmother," Huber said. "Tubby and Coo were what friends in their neighborhood called them when they were growing up. My grandpa was a little stocky, tubby kid, so everyone called him Tubby, and Coo is from when my grandmother was a baby. Everybody would coo at her--back in the day you would literally coo at babies. So the name Coo stuck with her pretty much her whole life."

In a post on the bookstore's Facebook page announcing her grandfather's death, Huber wrote: "Tubby was a beautiful storyteller with a great sense of humor.... He taught me to be kind, to accept those who are different from you, to help those in need, to honor, respect, and celebrate stories of all kinds, to always educate myself before making a decision, and to love everyone, all values I try to uphold in my store affairs. He'd always tell me 'take care of Tubby & Coo's now, and remember whose granddaughter you are!' Rest assured, I'll always and forever do both of those things."


Image of the Day: Megadeth's Ellefson Jams at Warwick's

Warwick's, La Jolla, Calif., hosted Megadeth bassist David Ellefson for a signing of his new book, More Life with Deth (Jawbone Press). San Diego band Woke Up Dead--A Tribute to Megadeth performed live outside the bookstore, and Ellefson joined them for several songs.

Happy 90th Birthday, Weller Book Works!


Congratulations to Weller Book Works in Salt Lake City, Utah, which is celebrating its 90th anniversary this month. 

On Saturday, August 17, the store will host a party from 4-6 p.m. featuring remarks by Tony Weller and Rocky Anderson as well as Brooke and Terry Tempest Williams. There will be live music, beverages, cake and hors d'oeuvres, along with an exclusive reusable tote bag designed for the anniversary party. Staff and customers will look back on the store's history, and look forward to its future.

Founded by Gustav Weller in August of 1929, just a few months before the stock market crash, Weller Book Works was originally called Zion's Bookstore. Throughout its history the store has survived the Great Depression, World War II and a major fire in 1971, not to mention the rise of big-box stores and discount chains, as well as online shopping.

Over the years it has been renamed multiple times, occupied several different storefronts and was owned by four generations of Wellers. In 2012, Sam Weller's Books became Weller Book Works and moved to its current location in Salt Lake City's Trolley Square.

Road Trip: Malaysian Indies to 'Ignite Your Reading Hobby'

"Go on a digital detox and pick up the classic pastime of thumbing through page-turners, at these humble indie bookstores that highlight alternative content," the Malaysia Tattler suggested in showcasing "7 independent bookstores to ignite your reading hobby."

Noting that "nothing beats a physical book in your hand," the Tattler wrote: "The feeling of leafing through a book and holding the weight of a good story is fondly associated as the crux of knowledge. Call us romantics or call us old-school, but print will never die as long as there's a story to tell--a belief these local independent bookstores firmly stand by. If you're a book lover or simply in search of a hobby that doesn't involve screen time, we highly recommend a visit to these quiet enclaves to pick up a book and immerse yourself in pages of diverse topics."

Personnel Changes at Knopf; Avid Reader Press

At Knopf:

Sarah New has joined Knopf as a publicist. She was formerly an associate publicist at Bloomsbury and earlier was an intern at Gibson Square Books in London. She has been a volunteer at Housing Works Bookstore since 2017.

Lucy Nalen has joined Knopf as a publicity assistant. She has had a public relations internship at Halston Heritage and a marketing and public relations internship at Mio.


Alexandra Primiani has joined Avid Reader Press as publicity manager. She was formerly associate director of publicity at Melville House and earlier worked in publicity at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and Riverhead Books.

Media and Movies

This Weekend on Book TV: Terry McAuliffe on Beyond Charlottesville

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, August 10
5:55 p.m. Warren Farrell, co-author of The Boy Crisis: Why Our Boys Are Struggling and What We Can Do About It (BenBella, $17.95, 9781948836135). (Re-airs Sunday at 7:55 a.m. and 10 p.m.)

6:35 p.m. Daniel Brook, author of The Accident of Color: A Story of Race in Reconstruction (Norton, $27.95, 9780393247442), at Blue Bicycle Books in Charleston, S.C.

8 p.m. Nadina LaSpina, author of Such a Pretty Girl: A Story of Struggle, Empowerment, and Disability Pride (New Village Press, $19.95, 9781613320990). (Re-airs Monday at 1 a.m.)

9 p.m. Kasey S. Pipes, author of After the Fall: The Remarkable Comeback of Richard Nixon (Regnery History, $29.99, 9781621572848). (Re-airs Sunday at 5 p.m.)

10 p.m. Terry McAuliffe, author of Beyond Charlottesville: Taking a Stand Against White Nationalism (Thomas Dunne, $24.99, 9781250245885). (Re-airs Sunday at 9 p.m. and Monday at 12 a.m. and 3 a.m.)

11 p.m. Robert Lawson, co-author of Socialism Sucks: Two Economists Drink Their Way Through the Unfree World (Regnery, $25.99, 9781621579458). (Re-airs Sunday at 8:20 p.m.)

11:40 p.m. Veronica Rueckert, author of Outspoken: Why Women's Voices Get Silenced and How to Set Them Free (HarperBusiness, $29.99, 9780062879349), at Boswell Book Company in Milwaukee, Wis. (Re-airs Sunday at 6 p.m.)

Sunday, August 11
12:45 a.m. Dan Hill, author of Two Cheers for Democracy: How Emotions Drive Leadership Style (Sensory Logic, $24.95, 9780999741627), at Next Chapter Booksellers in St. Paul, Minn.

1:45 p.m. Hyrum Lewis, author of There Is a God: How to Respond to Atheism in the Last Days (Cfi, $13.99, 9781462120413).

7:10 p.m. Dale Beran, author of It Came from Something Awful: How a Toxic Troll Army Accidentally Memed Donald Trump into Office (All Points Books, $28.99, 9781250189745).

10:40 p.m. David Epstein, author of Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World (Riverhead, $28, 9780735214484), at East City Bookshop in Washington, D.C.

Books & Authors

CWA Launches New Dagger Category for Crime Publishers

The Crime Writers' Association has launched a new category for its Dagger awards, Best Crime and Mystery Publisher of the Year, which recognizes "excellence and diversity in a crime publishing program." The Bookseller reported that factors to be considered will include developing careers, a focus on new authors, sustaining existing authors and the quality of promotional efforts. The CWA will also look at support for authors, proactive collaboration with the book trade (booksellers, agents, festivals) and general positivity of involvement with the crime and mystery writing field.

A shortlist for the Best Crime and Mystery Publisher of the Year will be announced later this summer, with the winner revealed October 24 at the annual Dagger awards ceremony.

"As part of the ongoing process of keeping the CWA in the forefront when it comes to crime writing and crime publishing, we felt this was an overdue category in our Daggers, and it becomes the first new Dagger to be created in well over a decade," said Maxim Jakubowski, honorary vice-chair of the CWA. "Publishing houses and imprints are very important to the genre and are instrumental in keeping crime, mystery and thriller writing at the forefront of the reading public's consciousness, and fully deserve the recognition."

Attainment: New Titles Out Next Week

Selected new titles appearing next Tuesday, August 13:

And How Are You, Dr. Sacks?: A Biographical Memoir of Oliver Sacks by Lawrence Weschler (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $28, 9780374236410) expands a previously unpublished New Yorker profile.

Consent: A Memoir of Unwanted Attention by Donna Freitas (Little, Brown, $28, 9780316450522) shares a stalking incident from the author's days as a graduate student.

The Bitterroots: A Novel by C.J. Box (Minotaur, $27.99, 9781250051059) continues the mystery series starring former sheriff's investigator Cassie Dewell.

Blood Truth by J.R. Ward (Gallery, $28, 9781501195037) is the fourth entry in the Black Dagger Legacy paranormal romance series.

Things You Save in a Fire: A Novel by Katherine Center (St. Martin's Press, $26.99, 9781250047328) follows a female firefighter who moves from Texas to Boston.

The Russia Account by Stephen Coonts (Regnery Fiction, $27.99, 9781621576600) is a thriller about a financial conspiracy connecting Russian and the U.S. government.

Grim Lovelies: Midnight Beauties by Megan Shepherd (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $17.99, 9781328811905) is the conclusion to the bestselling Grim Lovelies duology.

Voyages in the Underworld of Orpheus Black by Marcus Sedgwick and Julian Sedgwick, illustrated by Alexis Deacon (Walker Books US, $17.99, 9781536204377) is a YA graphic novel that mixes together World War II, science fiction and the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice.

The Warning by James Patterson and Robison Wells (Grand Central, $15.99, 9781538714966).

Where'd You Go, Bernadette, based on the novel by Maria Semple, opens August 16. Cate Blanchett stars as an overwhelmed mother who runs away to pursue her passions. A movie tie-in edition (Little, Brown, $7.99, 9780316415859) is available.

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:

The Need: A Novel by Helen Phillips (Simon & Schuster, $26, 9781982113162). "I firmly believe I will be hard-pressed to pick up a book in 2019 I love more than The Need, a genre-bending novel that explores motherhood and identity. Molly is the most authentic character I've had the pleasure of reading in quite some time, accompanied by baby Ben and lively Viv, the most fully realized fictional four-year-old ever. Is The Need a fever dream, a psychological thriller, a cosmic twist of fate unveiling a parallel world? The author leaves her readers to wonder while highlighting the dualities of domestic life. In gorgeous prose, Phillips shows how the mundane is often revealed to be just that, but sometimes that mundanity is sacred. A deeply immersive human story." --Hanna Yost, Northshire Bookstore, Manchester Center, Vt.

Hardcover: An Indies Introduce Title
The Lightest Object in the Universe: A Novel by Kimi Eisele (Algonquin, $26.95, 9781616207939). "Instead of focusing on what is dark and terrifying like most dystopian novels, love lights the way in The Lightest Object in the Universe. Following a cataclysmic event, Beatrix is working with her neighbors to rebuild their community, while former school principal Carson travels across the country on foot to reach the woman he knows is his soul mate. Their individual stories are trying yet hopeful and celebrate the best parts of humanity. Highly recommended for book clubs and fans of dystopian literature." --Beth Seufer Buss, Bookmarks, Winston-Salem, N.C.

The Ensemble: A Novel by Aja Gabel (Riverhead, $16, 9780735214774). "My goodness, I love the quartet of flawed and wonderful characters Aja Gabel brings to life. I felt the heartbreak and triumph each time the ensemble performed. The Ensemble captures everything from the relentless rehearsals to the particular hand injuries musicians worry over to the conflict within the group. Henry, Daniel, Jana, and Britt are each characters unto themselves, but together they create a fifth character: the quartet itself. An inventive novel about the lives of musicians and the world they inhabit, full of tension, ambition, confusion, and loyalty. The Ensemble is a remarkable achievement." --Sarah Bagby, Watermark Books, Wichita, Kan.

For Ages 4 to 8
How to Read a Book by Kwame Alexander, illustrated by Melissa Sweet (HarperCollins, $17.99, 9780062307811). "Once you've flipped through these pages, there is no going back. You're never going to forget it. The whimsy and wonder of each page of this book are astounding; Melissa Sweet has perfectly illustrated Kwame Alexander's lovely poem." --Cristina Russell, Books & Books, Coral Gables, Fla.

For Ages 9 to 12
Finding Orion by John David Anderson (Walden Pond Press, $16.99, 9780062643896). "Finding Orion is for anyone who thinks their family is crazy, and for anyone who has experienced the upheaval the loss of a loved one can create. This wonderfully funny and insightful story follows Rion and his family after the death of his dad's estranged father, Papa Kwirk. A singing clown comes to deliver the news to Rion's family, and that isn't the only odd thing to happen: Papa Kwirk's body turns up missing. As he searches for his missing grandfather, Rion learns about him and his own father at the same time. John David Anderson is a master storyteller. I've loved EVERYTHING he has written; I'm sure you will, too." --Cherilyn Perelli, Gibson's Bookstore, Concord, N.H.

For Teen Readers: An Indies Introduce Title
Kings, Queens, and In-Betweens by Tanya Boteju (Simon Pulse, $18.99, 9781534430655). "Nima may be awkward and a little lost in life, but she's funnier than she thinks and so endearing. You can't help but fall for her voice and feel for her situation. While she may think life is boring and want some changes, she doesn't quite bargain for all she gets. Filled with kings, queens, and in-betweens, this is the story of a girl searching for herself through family situations, friendships, and a possible new romance. Such a lovely story that really will captivate you and pull you in." --Candace Robinson, Vintage Books, Vancouver, Wash.

[Many thanks to IndieBound and the ABA!]

Book Review

Review: Homesick

Homesick by Jennifer Croft (Unnamed Press, $28 hardcover, 256p., 9781944700942, September 10, 2019)

Jennifer Croft's Homesick is a startling memoir, stylistically as well as in its content and in the unusual mind it reveals.

Amy and Zoe are very close. This is the defining feature of their young childhood and arguably beyond. The sisters grow up in Tulsa, Okla., where their mother worries over all the possible disasters in the world and their father teaches college. Then the younger sister, Zoe, has her first seizure, and their lives become dominated by seizures, hospitals, surgeries; the girls are both home-schooled from then on. A tutor, Sasha, comes in the afternoons to teach Zoe Ukrainian and Amy Russian--the girls' choices. Amy loves numbers and letters; she is entranced by the Cyrillic alphabet. Partly out of devotion to Sasha, she throws herself into this study with all her considerable will.

Zoe's health continues up and down, while Amy's academic achievements soar. She enters college at age 15, moving into the Honors House dorm, and this separation from her sister is both catastrophic and necessary. "Something new has begun to be erected between them, something like a wall, and on Zoe's side it must stay safe, and on Amy's side it can't. Amy is responsible for repelling her sister as her sister tries to scale this wall."

This memoir is told in a close third person from Amy's perspective--that of Croft's persona--and interspliced with photographs captioned by an ongoing direct address, apparently from Amy to Zoe in a later time. The snippets of text under these photographs offer meditations on words, clearly one of Amy's passions: "For dozens of centuries, the word leave meant stay.... And a scruple was at first a pebble you couldn't quite shake from your shoe." The words accompanying the photos form a separate narrative thread, so that the book can be read cover to cover, or as two discrete stories. Amy is a photographer from a young age, and her younger sister is her chief subject, in ways that Amy does not yet understand.

Disjointed, sometimes heavy with foreshadowing, lush with a love for words and language, the dual narrative of Amy and Zoe's intertwined lives and shared pain seems the right artistic choice for this twisting dual story. Among other threads or themes is the difficulty of translation, in its literal and more metaphoric meanings. "When you consider the plenitude of any word's experience you might think all words are untranslatable."

Homesick is astonishing in its emotional reach, its evocation of a child's discovery and a young adult's suffering and all the wonder of words. What is translatable is perfectly communicated here. --Julia Kastner, librarian and blogger at pagesofjulia

Shelf Talker: This stunning memoir with photos is a love letter from one sister to another, a celebration of language and a story of devotion and disaster.

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