Shelf Awareness for Monday, October 21, 2019


Simon Pulse: Of Curses and Kisses by Sandhya Menon

Workman Publishing: Click to see full Holiday Quick Pick catalog!

Bunim & Bannigan Ltd: David Lazar by Robert Kalich

Magination Press: Bee Heartful: Spread Loving-Kindness by Frank J Sileo, illustrated by Claire Keay

Dundurn Group: Never Forget: A Victor Lessard Thriller (A Victor Lessard Thriller #1) by Martin Michaud

Flatiron Books: Miss Austen by Gill Hornby

News

NAIBA: A Thriving Fall Conference

Members of the New Atlantic Independent Booksellers Association thrived in Cherry Hill, N.J., last week, even with the distractions of the Democratic debates and baseball's division playoffs. Eileen Dengler, NAIBA's executive director, reported that the conference drew 402 attendees, 213 of whom were booksellers representing 121 stores. Over the past two years, 28 new stores have opened in the region.

Jaquira Díaz (l.) signs copies of Ordinary Girls.

On Tuesday night, an array of authors spoke about their books. Among them was debut author Jaquira Díaz, whose memoir Ordinary Girls (Algonquin)--a November Indie Next pick--took 10 years to write and chronicles her years as a young woman of color who knew she was gay and felt rejected by her white Catholic mother and Puerto Rican and Miami Beach community. Also featured was National Book Award finalist Ibi Zoboi, who hopes young people of color who love science and science fiction will see themselves in the smart, curious heroine of her middle grade novel My Life as an Ice Cream Sandwich (Dutton).

Ibi Zoboi (right) signs copies of her National Book Award finalist My Life as an Ice Cream Sandwich.

Laura Zigman spoke about Separation Anxiety, coming from Ecco in March 2020, about a couple who can't afford to divorce, and Tom O'Donnell shared how, as an adult shortly after the election in 2016, he retreated into his adolescent comfort zone of Dungeons & Dragons and was inspired to write Homerooms & Hall Passes (just out from Balzer + Bray), a similar retreat from middle school for the characters in his novel. Cecile Richards, former president of Planned Parenthood and daughter of the late Texas governor Ann Richards, spoke about adapting her book Make Trouble (Margaret K. McElderry/S&S) for young readers and told a hilarious story of her first day of high school in a new town in Texas--her principal called her to his office to discuss a black armband she wore in protest of the Vietnam War. Principal: "Do your parents know you're wearing this?" Richards: "I'm pretty sure they do."

Adult Editors' Buzz Panel: (l.-r.) Riverhead's Sarah McGrath, LB's Jenn Garnett, moderator Hannah Oliver Depp (Loyalty Bookstore, Washington, D.C., and Silver Spring, Md.) and Norton's Matt Weiland.

At Wednesday's author breakfast, Susan Isaacs (It Takes One to Know One, just out from Atlantic Monthly Press), wowed the crowd by confessing she started with "the usual 25-page outline." Kaela Noel recounted how her debut novel for middle-graders, Coo (Greenwillow, March 2020), was inspired by observing a flock of pigeons taking off from an abandoned factory in Jersey City. Elisha Cooper recalled that while he was a Sendak fellow near Henderson Lake, he began sketching these headwaters of the Hudson River, and from his sketches, drawings emerged, and then the story of a solo female canoer, the star of his picture book River (Orchard). Emma Straub spoke of being a new mother and new bookseller (she's co-owner of Books Are Magic in Brooklyn, N.Y.), and the seeds of her novel All Adults Here (Penguin, May 2020), which is rooted in her experience of her child attending preschool at the same school she did. Susannah Cahalan thanked booksellers for not only championing her first book, Brain on Fire, but also for its tour, which led to her most recent book, The Great Pretender (out next month from Grand Central): a couple of neuroscientists approached her at a book signing and called her a "modern-day pseudo patient," which led to her investigation of a 1973 study that shattered public trust in the field of psychiatry, the subject of her new book.

Stephanie Steinberg (l.) and Rebecca Fitting

Roughly 150 booksellers attended the workshop "Managing Our Greatest Assets: Our Staff," led by Stephanie Steinberg, HR director at Hachette, and Rebecca Fitting, co-owner of Greenlight Bookstore, Brooklyn, N.Y., and incoming NAIBA vice-president. They discussed everything from what to ask potential new hires to how to handle dicey conversations with staff inherited after a bookstore change of ownership whose "joy" seems to be gone. Steinberg said that when interviewing job applicants, the "candidate should do 80% of the talking." Fitting advised reading Malcolm Gladwell's Talking to Strangers (Little, Brown) because, after all, "You're hiring a stranger." For new hires, Fitting recommends 30/60/90-day check-ins. For problems with long-term employees, Steinberg suggested going into the conversation with "I want this to work," but outlining what needs to change. "Always give them warning--it should never come as a surprise," Steinberg said. Fitting also talked about how to be an ally both to staff and customers; she suggested posting a "Code of Conduct" in the office and in the bookstore where customers can view it. A common point of reference helps to make everyone feel welcome, sets expectations for behavior in the store, and allows people to express to supervisors or staff when they feel unsafe.

The author buzz panels for both children's and adult titles were standing room only, and the exhibits floor was bustling the entire day.

(l.-r.) Award winners Casey Cep, Mary Beth Keane, Jennifer Egan; Melissa Grecco; Jarrod Annis, Jerry Craft, Heather Fox & Jonathan Stutzman.

The Wednesday night awards banquet was a celebration of books and authors. A highlight was Legacy Award winner and PEN America president Jennifer Egan, who spoke of books as a rallying point for people to come together--even during her teen years, she recalled, she and her mother "discussed books during brief periods of détente." Just looking at the bestseller lists, she points out, "attests that readers come in all stripes." Books ask us to "think deeply, question authority, and above all, to look at the world from points of view other than our own," she said. "A community of readers is a bulwark of democracy." Other winners included Casey Cep (Furious Hours, adult nonfiction Book of the Year); Mary Beth Keane (Ask Again, Yes; adult fiction Book of the Year); Chronicle's Melissa Grecco (Kristin Keith Sales Rep of the Year); Greenlight Bookstores' Jarrod Annis (Joe Drabyak Handseller of the Year); Jerry Craft (New Kid, middle-grade fiction Book of the Year); Heather Fox & Jonathan Stutzman (Llama Destroys the World; picture book Book of the Year); Jarrett Krosoczka (Hey Kiddo, Carla Cohen Free Speech Award); ABA CEO Oren Teicher (Legacy Award); and Elizabeth Acevedo (With the Fire on High, YA fiction Book of the Year).

(l.-r.) NAIBA president Bill Reilly; Elizabeth Wetmore (Valentine, Harper, April 2020); Jen Bryant (Feed Your Mind, Abrams, Nov.); and Leslie Jamison (Make It Scream, Make It Burn: Essays, Little, Brown)

At Thursday morning's annual meeting, NAIBA president Bill Reilly of the river's end bookstore in Oswego, N.Y., encouraged members to sign up for the waiting list for the sold-out Winter Institute (to be held in Baltimore, Md., January 21-24, 2020). Dan Cullen, ABA's senior strategy officer, said the highly anticipated Batch (the electronic invoicing system for booksellers and publishers first developed in the U.K.) will be discussed there--and ABA is in a "productive testing phase." While there's not much to report yet on the health care front, it continues to be a "clear focus," Cullen said. --Jennifer M. Brown

 


Quirk Books: Spark and the League of Ursus by Robert Repino


AAP Sales: Industry Down 8% in August; Children's/YA Up 7.9%

Total net book sales August 2019 in the U.S. fell 8%, to $1.952 billion, compared to August 2018, representing sales of 1,361 publishers and distributed clients as reported to the Association of American Publishers. For the first eight months of the year, total net book sales rose 3.6%, to $9.94 billion.

Among highlights, overall sales were dragged down in large part by drops in higher ed, down 24.7%, continuing to reflect lower student spending on college course material; and adult paperback and mass market, down 12% and 22.7%, respectively. In trade publishing, net revenue fell 3.6%, to $661.2 million, while children's/YA books rose 7.9%. For a change, the leading category was not downloaded audio, whose sales gains recently have been dropping to earth (up "only" 5.7% in August), but an unusual category: university press e-book, with sales up 25.1% (by contrast university press hardcover and paperback sales were down 23.6% and 15.7%, respectively), followed by an equally unusual category: children's board books, up 19.4%.

As for format, hardcovers sales were flat, and print books accounted 79.9% of trade title sales. Total e-book sales fell 7.5%, to $86.3 million.

Sales by category in August 2019 compared to August 2018:


Soho Teen: Me and Mr. Cigar by Gibby Haynes


Notes from Frankfurt, Part 1

The Frankfurt Book Fair attendee returning home with the most extra luggage other than books and manuscripts might well be Oren Teicher, who retires at the month as the CEO of the American Booksellers Association. At the dinner held by the European and International Booksellers Federation, he was honored and given three gifts--co-president Fabian Paagman, owner of Paagman Boekhandels, the Netherlands, explained that it is a custom in his country for gifts "to come in threes." Then at the EIBF conference the next day, he was honored yet again--and given another gift.

Many at the EIBF thanked Teicher for his support of the organization over the years and for doing so much to help strengthen ties among booksellers, bookstores and booksellers associations around the world. Perhaps most important, he was thanked for encouraging international booksellers to attend the ABA's Winter Institute; international attendees spoke of returning home energized and full of new ideas from American booksellers, and it's so popular and unusual that many attend as often as they can. The French booksellers association, Syndicat de la Librairie Française, even has its own version of the Winter Institute--Rencontres Nationales de la Librairie--held every other year in the summer, and cited the ABA's event as an inspiration.

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Kinokuniya's new store in Katy, Tex.

At the book fair, Hiroshi Sogo, director of Books Kinokuniya, described the bookselling company's approach around the world as one of steady, considered expansion. In the U.S., Kinokuniya recently opened a 5,140-sq.-ft. store in Portland, Ore., and a 4,000-sq.-ft. store in Katy, Tex. (the latter joins three other stores in Texas, in the Dallas suburbs of Plano and Carrollton, and one in Austin). Kinokuniya now has 14 bookstores in the U.S., and "business is growing very nicely, including the New York store," Sogo said. It's "possible" that the company will open more stores soon in the U.S., where, Sogo noted, "things happen quickly." The lead time to opening a store can be as short as four months, while in other parts of the world it can take up to four years.

Kinokuniya continues to open bookstores in Japan, where it has 70 outlets, and is opening a 26,900-sq.-ft. store in Abu Dhabi in March 2020 (it already has a store in nearby Dubai). It's also looking for opportunities in Malaysia and Australia, where it has stores in Kuala Lumpur and Sydney, respectively.

Summing up Kinokuniya's experience, Sogo said, "Physical bookstores are making a comeback." --John Mutter


New World Library: We Are the Luckiest: The Surprising Magic of a Sober Life by Laura McKowen


Armed Robbery at Doylestown Bookshop

A knife-wielding masked man charged into the Doylestown Bookshop in Doylestown, Pa., just before closing on Friday night and robbed the store of an undetermined amount of money, the Bucks Country Courier Times reported. No one was injured, and the store employee "handled the situation perfectly," according to owner Glenda Childs.

"In the 21 years I've been here, we've never seen anything like this," said Childs. "An incident like this reminds us all to be vigilant while still remaining a welcoming place to relax and read and connect with our community."

Manager Margaret McCampbell said the man demanded cash at the store's front register: "When she didn't move fast enough, he reached over and started grabbing the money and then threatened to take her. Then he ran out the back door, and this happened in less than five minutes.... It was Friday night and the town was bustling; this is a very safe area, but this reminds us to be careful and watchful."


Dutton Books: The Girl with the Louding Voice by Abi Dare


Amazon: Kindle Kids Debuts; New Facility in Ill.

Amazon has introduced Kindle Kids Edition, which the company touts as "a new reading experience designed just for kids--now young readers can leave the heavy books at home and carry a library full of books (plus a dictionary!) on one lightweight device." The device will sell for $109.99, and includes a "kid-friendly case" and one year of Amazon FreeTime Unlimited. A new Fire HD 10 Kids Edition has also been launched: a Fire HD 10 tablet with a year of Amazon FreeTime Unlimited and a kid-proof case for $199.99. Both devices are available for pre-order and start shipping October 30.

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Amazon plans to open a one million-square-foot fulfillment center in Channahon, Ill., about 50 miles southwest of Chicago.

"Illinois is a great place to do business and we are excited to continue our growth and investment in the state with our new fulfillment center in Channahon," said Alicia Boler Davis, Amazon's v-p of global customer fulfillment.

Describing the decision as a "significant jobs announcement," Governor J.B. Pritzker said, "Illinois is the transportation hub of the Midwest, and our workforce is among the best in the world. We welcome and celebrate this new fulfillment center and the economic growth it will create in these communities and in our state."


Notes

Image of the Day: Authors in PJs (with Dogs)

Last week, Valley Bookseller in Stillwater, Minn., hosted a Literature Lovers' Night Out event. Afterward, all the visiting authors returned to Pamela Klinger-Horn's home for a literary slumber party, complete with wine and dogs. Pictured: (back row) Meg Waite Clayton (The Last Train to London), Hank Phillippi Ryan (The Murder List), Linda LeGarde Grover (In the Night of Memory), (front row) Lynn Cullen (The Sisters of Summit Avenue), holding The Squirrel, Pamela Klinger-Horn, holding Tucker. photo: Tim Grover


Happy 60th Birthday, Moe's Books!

Congratulations to Moe's Books, Berkeley, Calif., which celebrated "60 amazing years as the Best Bookstore in the Known Universe" on October 12 with snacks, prizes, fortune cookies, a raffle and live music.

Founded by Moe Moskowitz and his wife, Barbara, the store is famous for selling used, rare and collectible books, and also sells some new books. As the Daily Californian noted, "In times when family-run bookstores are on the decline in favor of chains and online sellers, it's wonderful to see an independent and historical bookstore still thriving."


Personnel Changes at Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing

Shivani Annirood has joined Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing as associate publicist. She was most recently marketing & publicity assistant at Macmillan Children's Publishing Group.


Media and Movies

Media Heat: Julie Andrews on Colbert's Late Show

Today:
CBS This Morning: Newt Gingrich, author of Trump vs. China: Facing America's Greatest Threat (Center Street, $28, 9781546085072). He will also be on the View tomorrow.

Today Show: Ree Drummond, author of The Pioneer Woman Cooks: The New Frontier: 112 Fantastic Favorites for Everyday Eating (Morrow, $29.99, 9780062561374).

Fresh Air: Holly George-Warren, author of Janis: Her Life and Music (Simon & Schuster, $28.99, 9781476793108).

Watch What Happens Live: Rachael Ray, author of Rachael Ray 50: Memories and Meals from a Sweet and Savory Life: A Cookbook (Ballantine, $32, 9781984817990).

Late Show with Stephen Colbert: Julie Andrews, co-author of Home Work: A Memoir of My Hollywood Years (Hachette Books, $30, 9780316349253).

Tomorrow:
Good Morning America: Mark Hyman, author of Food: What the Heck Should I Cook?: More than 100 Delicious Recipes--Pegan, Vegan, Paleo, Gluten-free, Dairy-free, and More--For Lifelong Health (Little, Brown, $32, 9780316453134).

CBS This Morning: Bret Baier, co-author of Three Days at the Brink: FDR's Daring Gamble to Win World War II (Morrow, $28.99, 9780062905680).

Morning Joe: John Lithgow, author of Dumpty: The Age of Trump in Verse (Chronicle Prism, $19.95, 9781452182759). He will also appear on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert.

Watch What Happens Live: Gary Janetti, author of Do You Mind If I Cancel?: (Things That Still Annoy Me) (Flatiron Books, $27.99, 9781250225825).

Late Night with Seth Meyers: Alison Roman, author of Nothing Fancy: Unfussy Food for Having People Over (Clarkson Potter, $32.50, 9780451497017).

Daily Show repeat: Jacqueline Woodson, author of Red at the Bone: A Novel (Riverhead, $26, 9780525535270).


Movies: Opposite of Always

Screenwriter Randy McKinnon will adapt Justin A. Reynold's novel Opposite of Always for Paramount Players, Deadline reported. McKinnon wrote the Disney+ feature Safety; is a staff writer on the Netflix series Chambers; adapted the memoir Notes from a Young Black Chef by Kwame Onwuachi (with Joshua David Stein); and serves as co-producer on a forthcoming series for Apple Plus, from creator Simon Kinberg.

Producers on Opposite of Always include Marty Bowen, John Fischer and Isaac Klausner from Temple Hill, whose credits include The Fault in Our Stars, Twilight, Maze Runner and Love, Simon, Deadline wrote, adding that Paramount executives working on the project are Matt Dines and Gabby Canton.         



Books & Authors

Awards: T.S. Eliot Shortlist

The shortlist has been unveiled for the £25,000 (about $32,475) T.S. Eliot Prize, honoring "the best new collection of poetry published in the U.K. or Ireland." The winner will be announced January 13 in London. This year's shortlisted titles are:

After the Formalities by Anthony Anaxagorou
Vertigo & Ghost by Fiona Benson
Surge by Jay Bernard
The Mizzy by Paul Farley
Deaf Republic by Ilya Kaminsky
Arias by Sharon Olds
The Million-Petalled Flower of Being Here by Vidyan Ravinthiran
Erato by Deryn Rees-Jones
A Portable Paradise by Roger Robinson
The Caiplie Caves by Karen Solie


Book Review

Review: Parisian Lives: Samuel Beckett, Simone de Beauvoir, and Me

Parisian Lives: Samuel Beckett, Simone de Beauvoir, and Me: A Memoir by Deirdre Bair (Nan A. Talese/Doubleday, $29.95 hardcover, 368p., 9780385542456, November 12, 2019)

Parisian Lives: Samuel Beckett, Simone de Beauvoir, and Me: A Memoir is no argument for the biographer's life. There are the required years spent on research, the monetary and physical cost of schlepping around the globe to conduct it, the need to grit one's teeth while coddling an ill-tempered or taciturn interviewee and the fear of legal action from a testy subject or estate. And one still has to sit down and write the damned book.

Who would want such a career? For one, there's Deirdre Bair, the author of half a dozen biographies that include the 1981 National Book Award-winning Samuel Beckett: A Biography and 1990's bestselling Simone de Beauvoir: A Biography. It is readers' good fortune that things didn't go smoothly for Bair while writing these first two books; otherwise there would be no Parisian Lives, a fabulous hybrid (Bair dubs it a "bio-memoir") containing elements of journalism, autobiography and dish.

In the first half of Parisian Lives, Bair details the fairly torturous seven-year process of working on her biography of Beckett. She writes of collaborating with the Nobel Prize-winning playwright: she usually felt "like a marionette whose strings he was pulling, because I never knew where I stood with him." Bair devotes the second half of Parisian Lives to the decade that she spent on Simone de Beauvoir. Although Bair found the trailblazing French feminist an overall easier subject than Beckett--"My two-word phrase for my rapport with her was 'strictly business' "--Beauvoir caused her biographer considerable trouble by dying while the book was nearing completion.

When Samuel Beckett was published, some barbed reviews reflected what Bair came to realize was many male critics' discomfort with the notion of a female writer taking on a serious literary subject. (Fossilized thinking of this sort was a revelation to Bair, giving Parisian Lives yet another aspect: it chronicles her feminist awakening.) She spent almost two years recovering from her authorial ordeal, during which she vowed never again to undertake a biography. But when an editor who admired Samuel Beckett offered Bair a contract to write about anyone of her choosing....

In the diary that Bair kept at the time, she wrote of deciding to tackle Beauvoir's life, "I'm doing this one for me. I need to write this book." It turns out that she also wrote it for her lucky readers--of Simone de Beauvoir and of Parisian Lives. --Nell Beram, author and freelance writer

Shelf Talker: A formidable biographer of Samuel Beckett and Simone de Beauvoir describes the pleasures and pitfalls of writing about her iconic subjects.


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