Shelf Awareness for Thursday, August 29, 2019

Simon & Schuster: A Death at the Party by Amy Stuart

Scholastic Press: The Guardian Test (Legends of Lotus Island #1) by Christina Soontornvat, illustrated by Kevin Hong

Tor Books: The First Bright Thing by J.R. Dawson

Island Press: The Good Garden: How to Nurture Pollinators, Soil, Native Wildlife, and Healthy Food--All in Your Own Backyard by Chris McLaughlin

Holiday House: For Lamb by Lesa Cline-Ransome


AAP Sales First Half of 2019: Total Up 6.9%; Trade Up 3.8%

Total net book sales for the first half of 2019 in the U.S. rose 6.9%, to $5.987 billion, compared to January-June 2018, representing sales of 1,360 publishers and distributed clients as reported to the Association of American Publishers. In June, total net book sales rose 12.1%, to $1.4 billion.

In the first six months of the year, total trade net revenue rose 3.8%, to $3.453 billion, with the biggest increase coming, as usual, from downloaded audio, which rose 33.8%, to $278.6 million. Children's/YA also had a strong six months, with sales rising 7.4%, to $918.8 million.

In trade books, net revenue for printed books, including hardcover, paperback, mass market and board books, grew 2.5%, to $2.5 billion. Paper formats accounted for 72.1% of all reported sales during the first six months of 2019.

In non-trade areas, K-12 materials had the best sales of the six-month period, rising 31.4%, to $1.3 billion. Professional books inched up 1.1%, to $273.9 million, and higher ed was down 5.3%, to $918.3 million.

Sales by category in the first six months of 2019 compared to the first six months of 2018:

G.P. Putnam's Sons: Love & Other Scams by Philip Ellis

Authors Guild Backs AAP's Lawsuit Against Audible

The Authors Guild issued a statement in support of a lawsuit filed by the Association of American Publishers and seven of its publisher members against Audible in response to the Amazon division's announcement of a planned feature called "Audible Captions," which would transcribe and display the text of narrated performances.

Mary Rasenberger, executive director of the Authors Guild, said the organization "strongly supports" the lawsuit and "shares AAP's outrage over Audible's refusal to accept fairly negotiated terms or to negotiate with publishers. As we previously stated, 'the Captions program appears to be outright, willful copyright infringement, and it will inevitably lead to fewer ebook sales and lower royalties for authors for both their traditionally published and self-published books.' "

Authors Guild president Doug Preston commented: "My contract is crystal clear that the only rights conveyed to Audible are for voice recording and playback. The rights to reproduce text in any way are specifically withheld. I can't believe that Audible has so little respect for authors, contractual promises, and copyright that it thinks it can just help itself to rights it doesn't have, by fiat. There is a simple English word to describe this: and that is theft."

Board member Lee Child added: "I'm all in favor of anything that brings more stories to more people with more convenience, but I would much prefer a distributor knocked politely on the front door, rather than breaking in the back door."

G.P. Putnam's Sons: Stars in an Italian Sky by Jill Santopolo

Arcadia Publishing Acquires Wildsam

Arcadia Publishing, which publishes some 500 books per year about local histories of places around the United States, has acquired Wildsam, publisher of the Wildsam Field Guides. Following the transaction, Wildsam founder and editor in chief Taylor Bruce will continue to lead the company.

Arcadia is perhaps best known for its Images of America series, as well as the food series American Palate and supernatural-themed series Haunted America. Wildsam, meanwhile, has a catalogue of 14 field guides covering places like Austin, Tex., Nashville, Tenn., and Detroit, Mich., with more field guides scheduled to be published this fall.

"The moment we picked up our first Wildsam Field Guide, we were sold," said David Steinberger, president and CEO of Arcadia. "This is a product that is fundamentally authentic--it is exactly what today's travelers and readers are looking for."

"Arcadia's hyper-local distribution power and deep connection to American stories are unrivaled," said Bruce. "Arcadia is absolutely the ideal partner to take Wildsam to the next level as the elite travel publisher in America."

In May 2018, Steinberger, along with Snap Inc. chairman Michael Lynton and business executive Lili Lynton, purchased Arcadia. Since then, Arcadia has also acquired Pelican Press, started an Arcadia Children's Books division and brought in Walter Isaacson as a senior advisor and editor-at-large. Following the acquisition, Wildsam will begin building up its editorial team and increasing the number of titles that it publishes.

Obituary Note: Sarah Bird

Sarah Bird

Sarah Bird, longtime co-owner of the Griffon Games and Bookstore in downtown South Bend, Ind., died August 25. She was 71. The Tribune reported that "there are some businesses that offer more than just what they sell on the surface. Restaurants can remind us of our mother's cooking, clothing stores can hold memories of Christmas shopping and business owners can provide a personal experience where customers become family. The latter was true for Sarah Bird." The Griffon celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2017.

For staff member Penny Booher, Bird was more than just a boss. She was a close friend, mentor and hero, "always smiling and worrying about others' well being over her own," the Tribune wrote. "And Penny knew how important the store was to Sarah. That's why, soon after Sarah's death, Penny manned the counter at the second oldest game store in the country for customers and gamers alike."

"I think I love this store as much as she does," Booher said. "Every time you walk in, there are memories of her.... She wanted to make sure everything was lined up and the store is neat and clean. We'll be keeping the store up and keeping it the way she wanted it and keeping her memory alive by gaming."

Bird and her husband, Ken Peczkowski, opened the Griffon as a used bookstore more than four decades ago along Michigan Street downtown. Selling games "was just a way to offer a unique experience for customers to come in," the Tribune noted. Eventually the game section expanded and when the business moved to its current location at 121 W. Colfax Ave., the second floor became a dedicated game room.

Booher said that Bird "loved seeing more women playing games especially (Dungeons and Dragons) and running D&D games. Before it was just for the boys and it's not anymore. In fact, there are more and more women coming to the game room on Friday night, which would thrill her to no end."

On a closed Facebook group called "Fans of the Griffon Bookstore," a customer wrote: "Sarah's light hasn't gone out; it continues to shine in the lives of all the others she's touched over the years, leaving the world a brighter place even with her passing."

Sidelines Snapshot: Putty, Puppets, Games and Plush

At Main Point Books in Wayne, Pa., owner Cathy Fiebach has had a lot of success recently with a variety of kid-oriented sidelines such as Crazy Aaron's Thinking Putty and Melissa & Doug toys. She reported having trouble keeping Melissa & Doug's Water Wow toys in stock, as many parents buy them for their children while they wait for their tables at nearby restaurants, and Peter Pauper's "Hug a..." kits, such as its Hug a Hedgehog Kit, have also been very popular. Fiebach added that her store has done well with some relatively recent additions such as nightshirts from Relevant Products and reading glasses from Franklin Eyewear.

From Positively Green

Concerning locally or regionally made sidelines, Fiebach said her store carries postcards, coloring books and bookmarks made by a local artist named David Fox, all of which do very well. As for perennial favorites, Fiebach said her store does very well with socks, and while Blue Q socks are particular standouts, she's also brought in Ozone and Funatic socks. Greeting cards are also a huge part of the store's nonbook offerings, and Fiebach said her two most successful lines are Shannon Martin and Compendium's Positively Green. And looking ahead to the holidays, Fiebach said anything that acts as a stocking stuffer does well, such as Running Press's "little box of..." series.

Display at 4 Kids featuring backpacks, clips and other supplies.

In Zionsville, Ind., 4 Kids Books & Toys is in the midst of back-to-school shopping, and owner Cynthia Compton said backpack clips are hugely popular this year. While Compton is selling a variety of the clips, the ChattySnaps line is a particular standout. Kids and adults can snap individual buttons onto the clips in order to personalize them. Other strong sellers at the moment include Crazy Aaron's Thinking Putty, which has also gotten into the backpack clip game. Compton also reported a resurgence in the popularity of board and card games for her store. Pairzi, made by the makers of the game Tenzi, is particularly popular at the moment, and Rubiks Race by University Games is also performing well.

From Douglas Cuddle Toy

In the category of "cool stuff to fidget with," Compton pointed to Shashibo Cubes from Fun in Motion Toys and Magnetic Balls from Speks as popular items, while in plush, she said Douglas Cuddle Toy's Rainbow Fuzzles have done well. When asked whether she's seen any price increases due to tariffs, Compton said several of her manufacturers announced increases early in the summer, but most seem to have adopted a "wait and see" approach. At the same time, though, she said she's gotten the sense that other retailers might be ordering a bit more slowly than normal, due to worries about tariffs, which leads her to worry about product availability during the holiday season. To that end, Compton said she'll rent offsite storage space earlier than usual this year and "take in product a little sooner."

from Jellycat

July Poling, sidelines buyer at Red Balloon Bookshop in St. Paul, Minn., reported that JellyCat toys are often among the store's best performing sidelines, along with toys and accessories from Streamline, art supplies from Ooly and especially puppets from Folkmanis. Poling added that Red Balloon also sells "so much" from Out of Print, particularly its T-shirts and onesies. In terms of new additions, Poling said the store has had tons of success lately with candles from Frostbeard Studio, which is in the Twin Cities. On the subject of other local sidelines, Poling explained that they have several lines of cards made by local artists and illustrators. Most of the store's cards, in fact, come from relatively small suppliers, with Peaceable Kingdom perhaps being the largest.

When asked about any other non-book items that she considers to be perennial favorites, Poling pointed to Kids Preferred, which makes a variety of licensed toys featuring brands like Disney, Peter Rabbit and Care Bears, as well as MerryMakers dolls. Poling also mentioned the company The Winding Road, which sells handmade goods from artisans around the world. She noted, too, that while most of Red Balloon's sidelines are meant for children, there are some adult items, such as mugs, some Chronicle games and the Sad Shop greeting card line. --Alex Mutter


Image of the Day: CBD at B&B

Last Sunday evening, Books & Books, Coral Gables, Fla., hosted a special CBD Edition of its popular Farm-to-Table dinners. Tickets for the five-course, plant-based, CBD-infused menu were available with wine-pairing option for true relaxation and relief, and a CBD sponsor and cannabis doctor were available to answer questions about the benefits of CBD. The dinner was the brainchild of Jonah Kaplan, owner Mitchell Kaplan's (above, left) son, who runs the café, and the meal was prepared by James Beard Award-winning chef Allen Susser, who is culinary director for Books & Books' three café locations.

'8 of the Coolest Indie Bookstores in the U.S.'

"Bookworms, assemble! We're taking a look at some of the most fabulous independent bookstores in the United States," the Manual reported. "Though they run the gamut from cozy and cluttered to spacious and bright, they do happen to have one very important thing in common: They're all well worth a visit."

Among the bookshops highlighted were Greenlight Bookstore in Brooklyn ("a gem of a shop with big street-facing windows and a wide selection of new and old reads"), Unabridged Bookstore in Chicago ("acting both as a time capsule and a lighthouse for generations of readers), Taylor Books in Charleston, W.Va. ("a rustic haven for bibliophiles"), Left Bank Books in St. Louis ("puts a focus on amplifying diverse voices, which is a big plus in our opinion"), Dickson Street Books in Fayetteville, Ark. ("delivers good reads with a hefty dose of southern charm") and the Last Bookstore in Los Angeles ("think Bohemian meets Victorian parlor meets bookstore of your dreams").

Personnel Changes at Atria

Isabel DaSilva has been promoted to associate marketing manager at Atria Books. Before joining Atria last year, she worked in marketing for two years at Touchstone.

Media and Movies

This Weekend on Book TV: The National Book Festival

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 31
10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Live coverage of the 19th annual National Book Festival in Washington, D.C. (Re-airs Sunday at 12 a.m.) Highlights include:
  • 10 a.m. David Epstein, author of Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World (Riverhead, $28, 9780735214484).
  • 10:45 a.m. Open phones with Elaine Weiss, author of The Woman's Hour: The Great Fight to Win the Vote (Penguin Books, $18, 9780143128991).
  • 11:30 a.m. Ruth Bader Ginsburg, co-author of My Own Words (Simon & Schuster, $18, 978501145254).
  • 1:15 p.m. Open phones with David Treuer, author of The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee: Native America from 1890 to the Present (Riverhead, $28, 9781594633157).
  • 1:40 p.m. Open phones with Sharon Robinson, author of Child of the Dream: A Memoir of 1963 (Scholastic, $16.99, 9781338282801).
  • 2:30 p.m. David Brooks, author of The Second Mountain: The Quest for a Moral Life (Random House, $28, 9780812993264).
  • 4:30 p.m. Open phones with Rick Atkinson, author of The British Are Coming: The War for America, Lexington to Princeton, 1775-1777 (Holt, $40, 9781627790437).
  • 5 p.m. Thomas Malone, author of Superminds: The Surprising Power of People and Computers Thinking Together (Little, Brown, $28, 978316349130).
  • 5:30 p.m. David McCullough, author of The Pioneers: The Heroic Story of the Settlers Who Brought the American Ideal West (Simon & Schuster, $30, 9781501168680).
8:50 p.m. Andrew McCarthy, author of Ball of Collusion: The Plot to Rig an Election and Destroy a Presidency (Encounter, $35.99, 9781641770255).

10 p.m. Ben Howe, author of The Immoral Majority: Why Evangelicals Chose Political Power Over Christian Values (Broadside, $26.99, 9780062797117). (Re-airs Sunday at 9 p.m. and Monday at 12 a.m. and 3 a.m.)

10:50 p.m. William Hyland, author of George Mason: The Founding Father Who Gave Us the Bill of Rights (Regnery History, $29.99, 9781621579267). (Re-airs Sunday at 7 p.m.)

Sunday, September 1
12 p.m. Live In-Depth q&a with Joanne Freeman, author of The Field of Blood: Violence in Congress and the Road to Civil War (Picador, $20, 9781250234582). (Re-airs Sunday at 10 p.m.)

4 p.m. Robert Lawson and Benjamin Powell, authors of Socialism Sucks: Two Economists Drink Their Way Through the Unfree World (Regnery, $25.99, 9781621579458).

6:40 p.m. Tom Clavin, author of Wild Bill: The True Story of the American Frontier's First Gunfighter (St. Martin's Press, $29.99, 9781250173799).

Books & Authors

Awards: Midwest Booksellers Choice; Dayton Literary Peace

Winners have been announced for the Midwest Booksellers Choice Awards, sponsored by the Midwest Independent Booksellers Association. The authors will be honored October 2 during the book awards celebration at the Heartland Fall Forum in Cleveland, Ohio. This year's winning titles are:

Fiction: The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai (Penguin)
Nonfiction: Heartland: A Memoir of Working Hard and Being Broke in the Richest Country on Earth by Sarah Smarsh (Scribner)
Poetry: New Poets of Native Nations by Heid E. Erdrich (Graywolf Press)
YA & Middle Grade: Darius the Great Is Not Okay by Adib Khorram (Dial/Penguin)
Children's Picture Book: Hush Hush, Forest by Mary Casanova, illustrated by Nick Wroblewski (University of Minnesota Press)


Shortlists have been unveiled for the Dayton Literary Peace Prize. A winner and runner-up in both the fiction and nonfiction categories will be announced on September 17. Winners receive a $10,000 honorarium and runners-up $2,500. N. Scott Momaday will also be honored with the Ambassador Richard C. Holbrooke Distinguished Achievement Award. The complete list of finalists can be found here.

"At a time when the Dayton community and the nation are still reeling from the August 7 mass shooting, this year's finalists offer moving examples of people who have forged a path to peace and reconciliation through even the most violent and unjust situations," said Sharon Rab, chair of the Dayton Literary Peace Prize Foundation. "These books remind us that, as the planet grows ever more interconnected, violence can have far-reaching repercussions--but so can peace, and every individual effort toward healing, whatever the circumstances, can go a long way toward making the world a better place."

Attainment: New Titles Out Next Week

Selected new titles appearing next Tuesday, September 3:

Quichotte: A Novel by Salman Rushdie (Random House, $28, 9780593132982) follows a mediocre thriller author who writes a modern retelling of Don Quixote.

The Secrets We Kept: A Novel by Lara Prescott (Knopf, $26.95, 9780525656159) fictionalizes the attempt to smuggle Doctor Zhivago out of the Soviet Union.

Dr. Seuss's Horse Museum by Dr. Seuss, illustrated by Andrew Joyner (Random House, $18.99, 9780399559129) is a new Dr. Seuss book based on sketches and a manuscript discovered in 2013.

Dark Illusion by Christine Feehan (Berkley, $27, 9781984803467) is the 33rd entry in the Carpathian fantasy series.

American Royals by Katharine McGee (Random House, $18.99, 9781984830173) invites readers to contemplate what a contemporary American monarchy would look like.

Seeing Around Corners: How to Spot Inflection Points in Business Before They Happen by Rita McGrath (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $28, 9780358022336) gives advice on recognizing economic paradigm shifts.

How To: Absurd Scientific Advice for Common Real-World Problems by Randall Munroe (Riverhead, $28, 9780525537090) is a humorous guide to doing simple tasks in complicated ways.

The Economists' Hour: False Prophets, Free Markets, and the Fracture of Society by Binyamin Appelbaum (Little, Brown, $30, 9780316512329) chronicles the impacts of American economists on political policy.

Loki: Where Mischief Lies by Mackenzi Lee, illustrated by Stephanie Hans (Marvel Press, $17.99, 9781368022262) is the first in a series of three YA novels about the teen years of Marvel antiheroes.

Blue: The Color of Noise by Steve Aoki and Daniel Paisner (St. Martin's Press, $27.99, 9781250111678) is the memoir of a DJ/ music producer.

It Chapter Two, the conclusion to the two-part adaptation of It by Stephen King, opens September 6. A tie-in edition (Scribner, $19.99, 9781982127794) 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:

Hollow Kingdom: A Novel by Kira Jane Buxton (Grand Central, $27, 9781538745823). "We need more heroes like S.T.--a foul-mouthed, idealistic, moral crow with unquenchable courage--and his sidekick, a befuddled bloodhound. Kira Jane Buxton speaks crow, gull, dog, housecat, and owl with such fluency and poetry that I could not put this book down. Her vision of the zombie apocalypse is a strange and wonderful journey I want to take again and again. I really can't think of another current novel that conveys such humor, joy, sorrow, and hope so beautifully. Thank you for restoring my faith that this world may live on." --Dena Kurt, River Lights Bookstore, Dubuque, Iowa

Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead: A Novel by Olga Tokarczuk, translated by Antonia Lloyd-Jones (Riverhead, $27, 9780525541332). "Janina is an eccentric middle-aged woman who translates William Blake, studies astrology, and is acutely attuned to the wilderness around her in rural Poland. When hunters and poachers begin to be gruesomely murdered, Janina informs the police that the animals are responsible. As the bodies mount, so does her involvement with the mystery, although her status as a crank and possible madwoman ensures that she's ignored. This is an extraordinary and disturbing tale--a mystery that becomes more complex as the story continues, accompanied by Janina's often witty observations on man, nature, justice, and identity. The ending of this hard-to-categorize novel, a finalist for the 2019 Man Booker International Prize, will knock the breath out of you. Don't miss this excellent translated work from an award-winning writer!" --Cindy Pauldine, the river's end bookstore, Oswego, N.Y.

The Wedding Party: A Novel by Jasmine Guillory (Berkley, $15, 9781984802194). "Maddie hates Theo's snooty attitude. Theo hates Maddie's snide comments. Alexa is their best friend, and they're both in her wedding party. Neither knows how they're going to deal with each other's presence in the months to come, but as things might, their resentment turns to lust, and possibly something more. There's one main rule: Alexa must never find out about their secret trysts. Playful, sexy, and sweet, The Wedding Party is another romantic bullseye hit from Guillory." --Andrew King, University Book Store, Seattle, Wash.

For Ages 4 to 8
Bunny in the Middle by Anika A. Denise, illustrated by Christopher Denise (Holt, $17.99, 9781250120366). "I want to give this book a hug! While the focus is on being a middle child, this utterly charming picture book is a celebration of sibling bonds and simply the sweetest story of the season. Oh, and the illustrations of the bunny siblings, all cozy reading in bed--does it get any better than that?" --Kathleen Carey, Book House of Stuyvesant Plaza, Albany, N.Y.

For Ages 9 to 12
Scouts by Shannon Greenland (Jimmy Patterson, $16.99, 9780316524780). "This adventure and friendship story will pull you along happily on the journey of Annie and her posse of friends called the Scouts. Are friendships forever or can they be finite due to outgrowing shared experiences? Debut author Greenland carefully navigates this question as seventh grade looms large on the horizon. Annie and her buddies get lost in caves, almost drown, and get down and dirty in the mud and worms while a strange meteor shower-sprinkling of silver dust leads to a wham-bang climax." --Maureen Palacios, Once Upon a Time, Montrose, Calif.

For Teen Readers: An Indies Introduce Title
The Merciful Crow by Margaret Owen (Holt, $18.99, 9781250191922). "In a world dominated by a strict caste system, the Crows struggle to get by, take care of their own, and survive the rampant prejudices of society. Within the first few pages, I was completely caught up in this fully realized world and compelling story where we follow Fie, a daring Crow full of fire and fury, as she tries to carve out a place for herself and her people against all odds. I loved the strong characters, endowed with real fears, desires, and relationships, and the heart-wrenching realities of their world, which often echoed the injustices and inequalities of ours." --Shoshana Smith, Flashlight Books, Walnut Creek, Calif.

[Many thanks to IndieBound and the ABA!]

Book Review

Review: Frankissstein: A Love Story

Frankissstein by Jeanette Winterson (Grove Press, $27 hardcover, 352p., 9780802129499, October 1, 2019)

This fiendishly brilliant romp across time from Whitbread Prize-winner Jeanette Winterson (Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit, The Gap of Time) is the rollicking, philosophical novel of human rights, gender constructs, artificial intelligence and sexbots the world didn't realize it needed.

During a rain-soaked holiday at Lake Geneva in 1816, young Mary Shelley, her husband, Percy, their friend Lord Byron, Byron's lover Claire, and physician Polidori huddle indoors, struggling to stave off boredom with alcohol and conversation. A debate over the nature of the human soul results in Byron challenging all assembled to write tales of the supernatural. Mary pens the seminal sci-fi/horror novel Frankenstein, but her story does not end with its writing. Winterson follows Mary as she watches her husband, peers and children die during her youth while modernization changes her world and devastates the working class. "What is the point of progress if it benefits the few while the many suffer?" Mary wonders, drawing a parallel for the reader between the mechanical looms of Regency England and today's automation boom. 

In an interwoven narrative set in Brexit Britain, transgender doctor Ry Shelley falls under the spell of AI expert, genius and "high-functioning madman" Victor Stein, who eroticizes Ry's "doubleness." Stein envisions a world in which "humans will be like decayed gentry" while AI and human minds uploaded to robotic bodies take over as the dominant species, and he sees Ry's physical modifications as emblematic of that future. To that end, he pursues ethically questionable research in secret, with Ry lifting body parts from the cryogenics facility where he works to supply his lover's laboratory. While Victor sets his cap at upgrading humanity, Ry also keeps bumping into up-and-coming sexbot manufacturer Ron Lord, whose decidedly lower aim is to capitalize on men's basest desires. 

Winterson's wit crackles in nimble dialogue and imminently quotable assessments of human nature as Mary and Ry face absurd and heartbreaking truths. Lamenting the human cost of automation during the Industrial Revolution, Mary realizes people are "forever wrecking the good we have for the little we have not" or, as Stein puts it later, "Humans: so many good ideas. So many failed ideals." Clearly cognizant that weighty, cynical themes can weigh down a narrative, Winterson takes full comedic advantage of the sexbots, including lengthy sales pitches, awkward moments and elaborate business plans built around Ron's so-called girls. Wise, bittersweet and cackle-inducing, Frankissstein looks in wonder and weariness at the cyclical nature of progress, the ways in which our bodies both define and limit us and love's insistence on complicating all of the above. As the famous film line says, it's alive. --Jaclyn Fulwood, blogger at Infinite Reads

Shelf Talker: Whitbread Prize-winner Winterson draws a direct line from Mary Shelley to a trans doctor bedeviled by his mad scientist lover, the march of progress and the occasional sexbot in this funny, incisive triumph.

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