Shelf Awareness for Monday, September 16, 2019

William Morrow & Company: The Midnight Feast by Lucy Foley

Shadow Mountain: The Witch in the Woods: Volume 1 (Grimmworld) by Michaelbrent Collings

Hell's Hundred: Blood Like Mine by Stuart Neville

Delacorte Press: Last One to Die by Cynthia Murphy

Margaret Ferguson Books: Not a Smiley Guy by Polly Horvath, Illustrated by Boris Kulikov

Indiana University Press: The Grim Reader: A Pharmacist's Guide to Putting Your Characters in Peril by Miffie Seideman

St. Martin's Press: Lenny Marks Gets Away with Murder by Kerryn Mayne


SIBA Celebrates in Spartanburg

The fall regionals season kicked off with a vibrant and busy Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance Fall Discovery show in Spartanburg, S.C., this past weekend. It was one of the best-attended shows ever for SIBA, with a total of 507 attendees--among them 210 booksellers representing 75 stores across the region, including 13 new stores.

The show was a love fest for executive director Wanda Jewell, who recently announced plans to retire after 30 years with the organization. Linda-Marie Barrett, assistant executive director, reassured members at the industry breakfast on Friday, "You can all show her the love, but no need for active weeping just yet--Wanda has agreed to stay with us until at least next June. The search for her replacement is getting underway, with Nanette Blandin [Nexus Institute principal] at the show to speak to members and other interested parties about their thoughts on what they hope to see in a new director."

Wanda Jewell on the show floor on Saturday.

The gratitude and love for Jewell continued throughout the show, with frequent tributes at the many panels and events, including a celebration with cake and a rollicking serenade by board members on the show floor on Saturday.

Her departure was also a topic at the annual meeting/town hall on Saturday, as the SIBA board of directors urged members to spread the word and help bring in prospects. Board member Shane Gottwals, Gottwals Books, whose flagship store is in Warner Robins, Ga., noted, "We don't expect the next executive director to be Wanda II; we want to find the best person for the job. If you, or someone you know, might be that person, we want to hear from you."

ABA CEO Oren Teicher spoke and answered questions at the town hall on topics ranging from his own imminent retirement to the implementation of Batch (coming in 2020), the organization's antitrust efforts in Washington and the expectations for (a planned online bookstore that will support indies).

Members raised concerns about Amazon's recent breaking of the embargo on Margaret Atwood's The Testaments, and several noted that local chain stores were receiving new titles before they were shipped to indies. Board member Kelly Justice, Fountain Bookstore, Richmond, Va., urged members to "document these occurrences and send the information to the ABA." Teicher added that it's "critical to have evidence of violations of laydown dates" and "we will provide this to authorities as further evidence of Amazon's predatory business practices."

"This is a bittersweet moment," Teicher said. "But there is nothing more exciting than seeing all these new faces. I have enormous optimism that this industry will continue to grow and thrive."

On Friday, SIBA offered a packed schedule of education sessions, including the SRO "Independent Bookstore Day: Celebrate with Success," "The Art of the Pitch: Handselling Books to Customers" and "Romancing the Indie Bookstore." The well-attended breakfasts, lunches and dinners showcased a range of authors and titles, but the standout was the Friday lunch featuring authors Julie Murphy (Dear Sweet Pea); Akilah Hughes (Obviously, Stories from My Timeline); Charlaine Harris (A Longer Fall); and Kimberly Jones and Gilly Segal (I'm Not Dying with You Tonight). The authors hit it off so well in the green room earlier that they decided to skip the usual individual speeches and just talk to each other--and to the audience. The result was a charming, entertaining, hilarious performance that, in a way, encapsulated the SIBA experience: love and support for each other.

Wiley Cash was the recipient of the 2019 Conroy Legacy Award. At breakfast on Friday, he was in conversation with Cassandra King Conroy (r.), emceed by SIBA board president Kimberly Daniel Taws (c.), Country Bookshop, N.C.
SIBA's First 180 Days author reception was one of many popular author events.
Exhibitors reported that the show floor was busy and productive both days.
Here to help: Norton's Meg Sherman, SIBA's Linda-Marie Barrett and Mountains & Plains Independent Booksellers Association executive director Heather Duncan (who was making a special guest appearance at SIBA).
Late-night Pajama Silent Reading Gathering (with milk and cookies), sponsored by Shelf Awareness. That's Wanda Jewell in her PJs and fuzzy slippers in the center.

Thank you to Wanda, and to the 35 hardworking SIBA team members who made SIBA 2019 happen! --Robin Lenz

Harper: Our Kind of Game by Johanna Copeland

Miss.'s Square Books Opens Fourth Store

On Saturday, in the midst of its 40th anniversary celebrations, Square Books, Oxford, Miss., launched its fourth store, Rare Square Books, featuring rare and antique books, the Oxford Eagle reported. The new store is in the space where Square Books was originally located, from its opening in 1979 until 1986.

Co-owner Richard Howorth told the newspaper he has had rare and antique books in his office or "off to the side" and wanted a central location. "I always kind of had this collection and sold them, but it was always a sideline," he said. "People would kind of look in my office but they wouldn't want to go in there because it was not very welcoming. I would always tell people, 'Come look at these and help yourself.' Then, this space became available....

"It's quite different from the other book business that I'm in," he continued. "Every item is unique. You're not buying 10 or 20 or 100 copies from the publisher and getting them all in a box one day and scanning them with the thing and getting them in the system and getting them on the floor. Every book has to be described and appraised and priced. That's not even thinking about doing a catalogue."

Beckett Howorth, Richard's son, will be the main person in charge of Rare Square Books, helped by longtime Square Books bookseller Cody Morrison. Beckett Howorth attended the Colorado Antiquarian Book Seminar at Colorado College in July to learn more about this part of the business and said, "It's more about books as a physical object than anything to do with literature. That was an interesting aspect for me. I've been selling literature my whole life and now it's a little different.... The fact that a book is more than the literature within it. It's got history. It's got a story to tell."

Chronicle Books: Life Wants You Dead: A Calm, Rational, and Totally Legit Guide to Scaring Yourself Safe by Evan Waite, Illustrated by Paula Searing

Bookstore Sales Down 5% in July

In July, bookstore sales fell 5%, to $646 million, according to preliminary estimates from the Census Bureau. For the first seven months of the year, bookstore sales have fallen 5%, to $5.23 billion.

By comparison, independent bookstores have done better than the Census Bureau average, which includes a range of retailers that sell books. Through August 14, slightly more than the seven-month period measured by the Census Bureau, sales at ABA member stores, as reported to the weekly bestseller lists, are down 0.5% compared to the same period in 2018. Compound annual growth among ABA member stores is 7.5% during the past five years.

Total retail sales in July rose 4.9%, to $533.1 billion. In the first seven months of the year, total retail sales rose 3.1%, to $3.5 trillion.

Note: under Census Bureau definitions, the bookstore category consists of "establishments primarily engaged in retailing new books."

GLOW: Tundra Books: We Are Definitely Human by X. Fang

IPG's Chicago Review Press Buys Amberjack Publishing

Independent Publishers Group's Chicago Review Press has bought Amberjack Publishing, which will become an imprint of Chicago Review Press and be headed by group publisher Cynthia Sherry. Chicago Review Press is retaining Amberjack staff members Cherrita Lee for editorial and Jana Good for marketing and publicity.

Amberjack Publishing, Eagle, Idaho, was founded in 2014 and publishes literature and nonfiction that is "vital and transformational to its readers." It has 63 titles in print, and another dozen titles will be released over the next year. In January, IPG began handling distribution for Amberjack.

Amberjack's adult literature spans a range of genres and includes I Am Yours by Reema Zaman, Fallen Mountains by Kimi Cunningham Grant and the recently published book on sexual empowerment for women, Girl Boner by August McLaughlin. Forthcoming fall titles include The Hanged Man and the Fortune Teller by Lucy Banks and There You Are by Mathea Morais. Amberjack's YA and middle grade titles include Eric Bower's Baron series and the Dewey Fairchild series, which both have new titles on the fall 2019 list. Notable YA titles include The Art of Escaping by Erin Callahan and Beau & Bett by Kathryn Berla.

Sherry commented: "I've been a great admirer of Amberjack's list starting with Girl Boner last year. I love their emphasis on telling women's stories in their own voices, whether it's fiction or nonfiction."

Harper: Sandwich by Catherine Newman

Matthew Gildea Joins Arcadia Publishing

Matthew Gildea

Matthew Gildea has joined Arcadia Publishing in the newly created position of business development manager. He was most recently book team business director at Joseph-Beth Booksellers and earlier held executive positions at Hastings Entertainment, Borders Group, and several independent bookstores, including Chapter Two, which was in Charleston, S.C., home of Arcadia. He is also v-p of the board of directors of the Binc Foundation.

The company said that "while at Joseph-Beth and throughout his career in the book trade Matthew has been a steady and thoughtful advocate for local-interest books. He has a deep and genuine interest in all things local, and he's eager to help us tell a wide range of retailers about the value of Arcadia's remarkable hyperlocal offering. Because he has extensive experience fueling growth at retail through the creative use of local book assortments he will be uniquely positioned to show accounts just how they can work with us to enhance localization efforts and lift sales."

Margaret Anastas to Launch Imprint for Viking Children's Books

Margaret Anastas

Effective next month, Margaret Anastas will be joining Viking Children's Books to launch a soon-to-be-named imprint dedicated to publishing picture books and picture-book franchises. Anastas will report to Ken Wright, president and publisher of Viking Children's Books and Philomel Books. 

"I have always admired Viking and Penguin Random House, and am thrilled to be able to join such a creative and dynamic team and to bring new voices to a beloved and iconic children's brand," said Anastas.

Prior to joining Viking Children's Books, Anastas was an editorial director at HarperCollins Children's Books for 17 years. There, she acquired picture-book franchises like Fancy Nancy and Pete the Cat, and individual titles like Not a Box by Antoinette Portis and Dear Girl by Amy K Rosenthal. Prior to joining HarperCollins, Anastas was editorial director for Grosset & Dunlap, a national accounts rep at William Morrow/HarperCollins and a children's book buyer for Barnes & Noble.

"I could not be more delighted to have Margaret join our team here at Penguin," said Jen Loja, president of Penguin Young Readers. "As publishers and parents, so many of us here have admired the books she creates, and it is an added treat to have Margaret return home to Penguin to work on many more terrific books for some of the youngest readers."

Obituary Note: Sandy Jaffe

Sandy Jaffe

Sandy Jaffe, founder of book wholesaler Booksource, died on September 12 of complications from heart disease, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported. He was 80.

Founded in 1974, Booksource was for many years one of the Midwest's major book wholesalers to bookstores, from local indies like the Library Ltd. and Left Bank Books to Barnes & Noble. But that shifted after the turn of the century. As the paper recounted, "Booksource sales reached $32 million by 2003, but that's when the book industry took a turn with Amazon in ascendance. Mr. Jaffe refocused the business on the education market, providing books to school classrooms and libraries. To do this, he at first absorbed a financial hit that involved layoffs, but by 2005 revenues were growing 25% a year. The company currently has 400 employees and is expecting sales this year of over $150 million."

Jaffe's children have been involved in the business. Donna, who is retired, oversaw the children's book and birthday card division, called Peaceable Kingdom. Gary is CEO; Neil is president.

In 2014, when Booksource turned 40, Jaffe wrote: "Our first core value is Do the Right Thing. When the last chapter is written for our enterprise, I hope that's how we will be remembered. We did the right thing for our community, for our customers, for our families and for each other."

At Shelf Awareness, Sandy is well-remembered: he was one of the smartest and nicest people in the book business, always friendly and cheerful, with great sense of humor, and he couldn't have been more helpful to industry reporters. We will miss him.


Image of the Day: Lunch at MIT

Boston-area booksellers--from Brookline Booksmith, Porter Square Books, Papercuts J.P. and MIT Press Bookstore--lunched earlier this month with members of MIT Press's editorial and marketing teams.

Personnel Changes at the National Book Foundation; Workman

Bev Rivero has joined the National Book Foundation as communications and marketing manager. She formerly worked at the New Press.


Kate Oksen has joined the Workman imprint as marketing assistant. Most recently, she was enrolled in the Columbia Publishing Course.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Robin Pogrebin, Kate Kelly on Fresh Air

CBS This Morning: Brian Grazer, author of Face to Face: The Art of Human Connection (Simon & Schuster, $25, 9781501147722).

Fresh Air: Robin Pogrebin and Kate Kelly, authors of The Education of Brett Kavanaugh: An Investigation (Portfolio, $29, 9780593084397).

Jimmy Kimmel Live: Malcolm Gladwell, author of Talking to Strangers: What We Should Know about the People We Don't Know (Little, Brown, $30, 9780316478526).

Daily Show: Sonia Sotomayor, author of Just Ask!: Be Different, Be Brave, Be You (Philomel, $17.99, 9780525514121).

Good Morning America: Diane Tavenner, author of Prepared: What Kids Need for a Fulfilled Life (Currency, $28, 9781984826060).

CBS This Morning: Jacqueline Woodson, author of Red at the Bone: A Novel (Riverhead, $26, 9780525535270).

TV: Americanah

Lupita Nyong'o and Danai Gurira's planned adaptation of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's bestselling novel Americanah has received a straight-to-series order at HBO Max, Variety reported. The project has been given the limited series a 10-episode order. Nyong'o will star, with Gurira writing the pilot and serving as showrunner.

"Americanah has been a passion project for me since I read Chimamanda's beautiful novel in 2013," Nyong'o said. "It's a tale that is simultaneously timely and timeless. HBO Max is the perfect partner to bring this profound and celebrated story to life, and I'm thrilled that Danai will bring to the project her intelligence, wit, and understanding of the stories and the worlds of Americanah."

Gurira commented: "Through Americanah, Chimamanda brought the African female voice into mainstream consciousness in an unprecedented way. It is intellectually incisive, indicting, yet full of humor, and riddled with humanity. She makes unheard voices familiar, universal and yet palpably specific. I am honored to bring her incredible novel to life on the screen. I'm thrilled to collaborate once again with Lupita who brings her astounding ability as a performer and producer shepherding this project, along with HBO MAX's unbridled enthusiasm to bring this groundbreaking narrative to the TV audience."

HBO Max head of original content Sarah Aubrey added that the novel "has sparked a cultural phenomenon and is revered by fans around the world. It has affected me deeply as one of the most moving, socially relevant and romantic stories of our time. With exceptional talent like Lupita and Danai in front of and behind the camera, this series will give viewers a uniquely heartfelt and unforgettable experience."

Books & Authors

Awards: Ngaio Marsh, Klaus Flugge Winners

The winners for the 2019 Ngaio Marsh Awards, honoring the best in New Zealand crime writing, are:

Novel: This Mortal Boy by Fiona Kidman
First Novel: Call Me Evie by JP Pomare
Nonfiction: The Short Life and Mysterious Death of Jane Furlong by Kelly Dennett


Jessica Love won the 2019 Klaus Flugge Prize, which recognizes "the most exciting and promising newcomer to children's picture book illustration," for Julian Is a Mermaid. Chair of the judges Julia Eccleshare said that "we had another extremely strong shortlist but the judges were unanimous in their decision to award the prize to Jessica Love. Julian Is a Mermaid reminds us that picture books can make us understand the world differently and better; that they are for everyone. It is a ground-breaking book and has the qualities that Klaus Flugge has always championed in his own publishing."

Judge Anthony Browne, a former Children's Laureate and award-winning illustrator, said the winning title "is an astonishingly beautiful book. It's amazing to realize this is Jessica Love's first attempt. She has quickly realized how picture books work--the understated words fit so brilliantly with the stunning illustrations, never getting in the way, never trying to do the same job. It's a perfect picture book."

Fellow judge Farrah Serroukh of the Centre for Literacy in Primary Education added: "The illustrations say things that it would be difficult for words alone to express. The layers of meaning that can be inferred through each spread are rich, sophisticated and plentiful. Quite simply, it is a stunningly beautiful, heart-warming debut."

Book Review

Review: The Jungle

The Jungle by Upton Sinclair, trans. by Ivanka Hahnenberger, illus. by Kristina Gehrmann (Ten Speed Press, $24.99 paperback, 384p., 9781984856487, July 2, 2019)

Despite the gruesome images depicting the workings of Chicago slaughterhouses and meatpacking factories in the late 19th century and into the early 20th century, Kristina Gehrmann's graphic adaptation is a surprisingly gentler, kinder read than Upton Sinclair's 1906 novel. Credited with inciting the public outcry that resulted in both the Federal Meat Inspection Act and the Pure Food and Drug Act, The Jungle significantly influenced how and what Americans eat today. In this adaptation--smoothly translated from Gehrmann's German by Ivanka Hahnenberger--the human and animal suffering remain undeniable, the working conditions utterly unacceptable, the living situations horrifically bleak. The original unrelenting brutality, however, seems relatively contained, and the body count is similarly lessened; that said, reading this latest edition remains a chilling experience.

In summer 1899, a multi-generational family arrives at Ellis Island from Lithuania, carrying the hope that dedicated hard work is all they need to find solid footing in the new world. A young couple, Jurgis Rudkus and his fiancée, Ona Lukoszaite, bind the group together, accompanied by various parents, an uncle, cousin and younger siblings. The clan settles in Chicago, where a friend from the old country who runs a delicatessen welcomes and feeds them, then points them to a run-down boarding house where they will initially live. Finding employment proves challenging, but not impossible; the high-risk, grueling work, however, exacts a high, even fatal, price.

Drawn into a house-purchasing scheme, the family moves into what was promised to be a new home. Ona works out the finances--every meager salary is mandatory for success--and, for a while, the family survives. But the contract they signed is anything but transparent, with undisclosed extra payments added monthly. When Ona must admit what she's been forced to do to support their growing family, Jurgis's reaction not only lands him in prison, but will prove to be the family's downfall.

Drawn in stark black and white with the occasional addition of red ink, Gehrmann's art is a spectacular, albeit disturbing, portal into Sinclair's history-making, policy-changing achievement. Those red enhancements are especially haunting; beyond the obvious devastation and carnage of meat-house slaughter, Gehrmann highlights small details to serve as warnings. Ona's bright scarf is most noticeable in the book's opening pages--an unmistakable hint that grave tragedy lies ahead, perhaps even a nod to Sinclair's original, in which Ona dies in childbirth (she's still alive in Gehrmann's ending). The next-door neighbor's facial mole, colored red, offers another haunting example; her doom-filled words to Jurgis, Ona and Ona's stepmother prove all too prescient. Each chapter's double-page introduction--a single narrative panel framed by fin-de-siècle print ads for everyday goods and services (silver spoons, plumbing repair, premium bacon)--provides contextual evidence of (manufacturing) progress marching on. While the products are publicly advertised for purchase, what happens behind those advertisements--literally--is the great American tragedy waiting to be exposed. --Terry Hong, Smithsonian BookDragon

Shelf Talker: German illustrator Kristina Gehrmann transforms Upton Sinclair's 1906 classic into an extraordinary visual rendering, reimagining an urgent exposé for modern readers.

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