Shelf Awareness for Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Bloom Books: Queen of Myth and Monsters (Adrian X Isolde #2) by Scarlett St. Clair

Bloom Books: Queen of Myth and Monsters (Adrian X Isolde #2) by Scarlett St. Clair

Blue Box Press: A Light in the Flame: A Flesh and Fire Novel by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Irh Press: The Unknown Stigma Trilogy by Ryuho Okawa

Other Press (NY): The Rebel and the Thief by Jan-Philipp Sendker, translated by Imogen Taylor

Holiday House: Welcome to Feral (Frights from Feral) by Mark Fearing

Charlesbridge Publishing: Too-Small Tyson (Storytelling Math) by Janay Brown-Wood, illustrated by Anastasia Williams

Berkley Books: Stone Cold Fox by Rachel Koller Croft


Harvest Moon Books Opens in Albuquerque

Harvest Moon Books opened on Small Business Saturday at 3123 Central Ave NE in the historic Nob Hill neighborhood of Albuquerque, N.Mex. The Daily Lobo reported that the bookshop is "tucked in the corner of the newly opened Little Bear and Stuff Retail Collaborative" and "sells a variety of titles, both new and used, with a focus on people of color and indigenous and queer authors."

Robin Babb at Harvest Moon Books

"Honestly, at this point, it's been a lot of like, 'What do I want to read?' Which, I know at a certain point will probably become a bad idea," owner and writer Robin Babb said regarding her inventory choices. "I write about New Mexico a lot but have ended up writing quite a bit about indigenous issues, the pueblos and the Navajo Nation. And kind of just incidentally because of my interest, (I) ended up buying a lot of books by and about indigenous people."

Babb added that her goal "is, frankly, just to see if I can make the writing career plus the bookselling career work simultaneously. If I can do both of them at once, I would be glad.... No part of me wants to corner the market. The more [bookstores] the better. If you are considering opening a bookstore, I know it sounds crazy, but do it."

Although opening a bookstore had been on her mind for years, Babb had not found the time to pursue it, but the retail collaborative "makes it a lot easier." She noted that the collaborative gave her the opportunity to pursue a bookstore with relatively low financial risk, since all the vendors share expenses. "I think (the retail collaborative is) definitely being billed as a very new trendy thing, but it kind of resembles an old consignment store," Babb said. "It's basically the same thing. It's a lot of vendors selling out of one space together."

Babb told the Albuquerque Journal: "I know first-hand the ability of books to change lives.... I'm biased, but I think print media is having a bit of a resurgence. I think people are really interested in being able to hold things in their hands again."

Minotaur Books: A World of Curiosities (Chief Inspector Gamache Novel #18) by Louise Penny

Ellen Plumb's City Bookstore in Emporia, Kan., to Close

Ellen Plumb's City Bookstore in Emporia, Kan., which opened in 2016 and relocated across the street a year later, will close early next year. In an announcement posted on Facebook "with much sadness," owner Marcia Lawrence said the bookshop will close January 31, adding: "I am truly grateful for all you book lovers who have made the bookshop a comfortable, interesting, and safe 'third place.' Because I am unable to find an affordable and appropriate permanent location for the bookshop, it must close. I hope with all my heart that someone will step up to keep a bookstore in our town. Thank you from my heart for your patronage these past three-plus years."

GLOW: Sourcebooks Landmark: Clytemnestra by Costanza Casati

Charley Rejsek New BookPeople General Manager

Charley Rejsek

Charley Rejsek has been named general manager of BookPeople, Austin, Tex., effective next Monday, December 16.

Rejsek started as a bookseller at Barnes & Noble in 1998, rising to national business development manager before leaving the company in 2016. Since then, she has produced events across Texas for nonprofit news organization the Texas Tribune, and coordinated speaker book signings at the annual Texas Tribune Festival. She has also been involved with the Texas Book Festival since 2007 as a volunteer, serving on author selection committees, and as a staff member, coordinating volunteers and logistics.

Rejsek replaces Elizabeth Jordan, who in September announced that she was resigning as BookPeople CEO to become general manager of Nowhere Bookshop, the new store being opened by author Jenny Lawson in San Antonio.

Barefoot Books: Save 10%

Paul Bogaards to Head Publicity, Marketing at Knopf and Pantheon

Paul Bogaards

Congratulations to the always amusing and energetic Paul Bogaards, who has been promoted to deputy publisher, executive director of marketing and publicity, Knopf and Pantheon. He has been executive director of publicity, Knopf and Pantheon, and will now assume responsibility of overseeing marketing for Knopf and Pantheon while continuing to serve as group spokesperson and lead publicity liaison.

In an announcing his promotion, Tony Chirico, president, Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, commented in part: "There is no one more qualified or more accomplished to direct our marketing and publicity activities than Paul. A member of the Knopf publicity department for 30 years and its head since 1998, Paul has long played an invaluable role in the books we acquire and how we publish them. He is creative, decisive, and strategic, and leads our forward communications with a zeal and passion for authors and their books that has yielded enormous and lasting results... Paul's unrivaled skill in connecting books with readers has resulted in hundreds of bestsellers and scores of appreciative authors, including U.S. Presidents, Supreme Court Justices and British Prime Ministers; Nobel, Pulitzer, and National Book Award winners; million-copy-selling writers and debut novelists. He has brought our books to the attention of millions of readers and has taught several generations of publicists to do the same. Indeed, mentoring colleagues and recruiting talent remain two of his strongest attributes....

"Finally, and probably most important, Paul recognizes that the work we do on behalf of authors, agents, booksellers, and readers is constantly evolving. He is always assessing what works and what doesn't, and is constantly asking 'How can we help?' and 'What can we do better?' And after 30 years on the job, he does it all with brio, good humor, and a sense of mission and optimism."

Ginger Fox: Free Freight and a Free Book Lovers Mug

Holiday Hum: The Selling Season Begins

With Thanksgiving weekend in the rear-view mirror and Christmas and Hanukkah just under two weeks away, Shelf Awareness has asked booksellers around the country how the season is going so far.

Trope Tea gift box

At The Ripped Bodice in Los Angeles, Calif., the holiday season kicked off in a major way on Small Business Saturday, which co-owners Bea and Leah Koch typically use as a time to launch their holiday shop with sales both in-store and online. They reported that the store had a "tremendous weekend" in online sales, and they and their staff spent most of last week getting all of those orders shipped out. As for big sellers, the store created its own line of tea this year called Trope Tea and is selling gift boxes containing the tea, a matching candle and a book that fits with the given trope; the boxes have been hugely popular so far.

The co-owners added that they've recently brought in handmade, felted ornaments featuring famous women that are produced by craftswomen based in Central Asia and sold through Silk Road Bazaar. Those have been hits as well, with the store already selling out of its Ruth Bader Ginsberg and Harriet Tubman ornaments. They reported having no problems yet with getting titles back in stock and said they're still doing events, with a romance trivia competition and holiday shopping night scheduled for this week.

Cindy Dach, co-owner of Changing Hands Bookstores in Tempe and Phoenix, Ariz., said she and her colleagues have seen people starting their holiday shopping, and so far this year the dollar amount of purchases per customer has gone up. Dach and her team attribute this to there being one less week between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year than is typical, and she hopes that the higher sales amount per customer will ultimately make up for that lost week. At the same time, Dach said, they've noticed that while shoppers are buying books, much of their focus seems to be on gifts.

Several of the stores' big sellers have been surprises, such as The Body: A Guide for Occupants by Bill Bryson and The Yellow House by Sarah Broom, while other strong performers include Ben Lerner's The Topeka School; Classic Krakauer: Essays on Wilderness and Risk by Jon Krakauer; and The American Story: Conversations with Master Historians by David Rubenstein. Some of those, notably the Krakauer collection and The Topeka School, have been hard to get back in stock. On the children's side, Future President by Lori Alexander and Allison Black has been huge, as have Guts by Raina Telgemeier and Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Wrecking Ball by Jeff Kinney. Gifts and sidelines are doing well across all categories, with ornaments and socks particular standouts, and Dach pointed to Pudus socks and Thymes Frasier fir candles as lines that will probably sell out well before Christmas.

In St. Paul, Minn., Red Balloon Bookshop had an "awesome" first week of December, spurred in part by an annual holiday event called the Grand Meander that is organized by the store's local business association. Angela Whited, the store's events and marketing manager, explained that this was "great news," as Thanksgiving week and Indies First were "spectacularly bad" due to back-to-back snowstorms that dropped sleet and inches of snow. Whited said that a big stand-out or book of the season has yet to jump out, but monthly subscription boxes and gift cards are all selling very well. In terms of non-book and gift items, she added that Frostbeard candles, which are made locally and are new to the store, have been very popular.

When asked about possible delivery problems, Whited answered that filling special orders in a timely manner has been "trickier" this year due to the "more limited wholesaler options," but aside from that, deliveries have generally been arriving when expected. The store is also just about done with events for the year, though children's storytime sessions will continue until the week before Christmas. After that, Whited said, even the storytellers are needed for shelving, gift-wrapping and handselling.

And at the MIT Press Bookstore in Cambridge, Mass., store manager Clarissa Murphy explained that with the store located on campus and most of the customers students, faculty and tourists, things were actually very quiet around Thanksgiving, but with the break over and people back in town, the selling season has  started to pick up. The store's bestsellers in the past week include four MIT Press titles--Deep Learning by John D. Kelleher; Fire, Ice and Physics by Rebecca Thompson; Artist in the Machine by Arthur I. Miller; and Beyond the Valley by Ramesh Srinivasan--and Tree Finder: A Manual for Identification by May Theilgaard Watts (Wilderness Press).

Murphy added that the store doesn't many sidelines, but what they do have has been selling well, including Neuro Bloom enamel pins made by Shiny Apple Studio; cards and iron-on patches from Frog & Toad Press; cards, gift wrap and educational posters from Fairhope Graphics; and Field Notes journals. --Alex Mutter

Obituary Note: Michael Howard

Sir Michael Howard, who was "the most influential British military historian of his generation" and "left a mark on public and professional debate in Britain and internationally," died November 30, the Guardian reported. He was 97. Howard "enjoyed a unique combination of beliefs, skills and, as he freely admitted, luck. The unifying theme of all his work was the placing of military history and strategic thought in the broadest social and political context."

Describing him as "the epitome of respectability, even grandeur," the Guardian wrote that Howard was a Guards officer, member of the Athenaeum, regius professor, author of official histories of the Second World War, and recipient of honors including the Military Cross, a knighthood (1986), CH (2002) and OM (2005). "Yet he also had a non-conformist streak, reflected in his support throughout the cold war years for tempering nuclear deterrence with moderation and for practical measures of arms control. Nonconformism also infused other aspects of his life."

Howard's many books include The Franco-Prussian War (1961), The Coldstream Guards 1920-1946 (1951, co-authored with John Sparrow), Disengagement in Europe (1958); an authoritative translation of Carl von Clausewitz's On War (with Peter Paret, 1976), War in European History (1976), War and the Liberal Conscience (1978), The Lessons of History (1991) and Strategic Deception (1990), a volume of the official history of British Intelligence in World War II.

After his "retirement" in 1993, Howard "continued to be intellectually active," the Guardian noted. "He produced a short book, The Invention of Peace (2000), full of pithy scepticism about propositions that history had ended," as well as his memoir Captain Professor (2006), "a frank account of his full, productive and fortunate life."

December Indie Next List E-Newsletter Delivered

Last Thursday, the American Booksellers Association's e-newsletter edition of the Indie Next List for December was delivered to more than half a million of the country's best book readers. The newsletter was sent to customers of 150 independent bookstores, with a combined total of 625,047 subscribers.

The e-newsletter, powered by Shelf Awareness, features all of the month's Indie Next List titles, with bookseller quotes and "buy now" buttons that lead directly to the purchase page for the title on the sending store's website. The newsletter, which is branded with each store's logo, also includes an interview (from Bookselling This Week) with the author whose book was chosen by booksellers as the number-one Indie Next List pick for the month, in this case Wake, Siren: Ovid Resung by Nina MacLaughlin (FSG Originals).

For a sample of the December newsletter, see this one from WORD Bookstores, Brooklyn, N.Y., and Jersey City, N.J.


Image of the Day: JuleFest with Liberty Bay Books

Esteban the Magnificent--from The Day the Crayons Came Home by Drew Daywalt and Oliver Jeffers (Philomel)--was on hand to celebrate the annual JuleFest with Liberty Bay Books in Poulsbo, Wash. Esteban took photos with kids and handed out crayon ornaments.

Holiday Window Display: Page 158 Books

"We have a window decorating contest in our town," Page 158 Books, Wake Forest, N.C., noted in sharing a photo of its front window display. "Our talented employee Leeann Tedder worked magic to create this beautiful winter book theme!"

Personnel Changes at the New York Times Book Review

Three staff changes, including two promotions and a new hire, have been announced by New York Times Book Review editor Pamela Paul.

Tina Jordan, who joined the Review as a preview editor in 2018, will become the new deputy editor; and David Kelly, who has been with the Book Review since 1985, is taking on the new role of managing editor. Elisabeth Egan will be joining the publication as a preview editor after filling in for Gal Beckerman, who is on book leave.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Peter Bergen on Fresh Air

Fresh Air: Peter Bergen, author of Trump and His Generals: The Cost of Chaos (Penguin Press, $30, 9780525522416).

The Real: Michael Eric Dyson, author of Jay-Z: Made in America (St. Martin's Press, $25.99, 9781250230966).

The View: Lupita Nyong'o, author of Sulwe (Simon & Schuster, $17.99, 9781534425361). She will also appear on the Daily Show.

Late Show with Stephen Colbert: Samantha Power, author of The Education of an Idealist: A Memoir (Dey Street Books, $29.99, 9780062820693).

TV: The Pursuit of Love

Lily James (Downton Abbey, Baby Driver) will star in The Pursuit of Love, a BBC One adaptation of Nancy Mitford's classic novel, written and directed by Emily Mortimer. Deadline reported that a three-part series has been ordered from BBC Studios-backed Moonage Pictures and Open Book.

Mortimer is currently writing a reboot of the popular British legal drama Rumpole of the Bailey, based on the book series by her father, John Mortimer. Commissioned by Charlotte Moore, director of BBC Content, and Piers Wenger, controller of BBC Drama, The Pursuit of Love will be produced by Rhonda Smith.

Books & Authors

Awards: Portico Literature Shortlist

The shortlist has been unveiled for the £10,000 (about $13,160) Portico Prize for Literature, which recognizes "outstanding literature that best evokes the spirit of the North." The winner will be announced January 23 at a ceremony in Manchester. This year's shortlisted titles are:

Saltwater by Jessica Andrews
Ironopolis by Glen James Brown
The Mating Habits of Stags by Ray Robinson
Black Teeth and a Brilliant Smile by Adelle Stripe
The Boy with the Perpetual Nervousness by Graham Caveney
Under the Rock: The Poetry of a Place by Benjamin Myers

Book Review

Review: Track Changes

Track Changes by Sayed Kashua, trans. by Mitch Ginsburg (Grove, $26 hardcover, 224p., 9780802147899, January 14, 2020)

In the "track changes" function of a word processing program, the "all markup" option preserves all deletions, additions, rewrites for the life of the document--although the last editor ultimately chooses what to accept and reject in the final version. Palestinian Israeli Sayed Kashua, who lives in St. Louis, Mo., ingeniously, affectingly employs this function in his intriguing fourth novel of the same name, Track Changes, in which he uses an Arab Palestinian family-in-crisis to question and challenge the veracity of telling one's own stories. Matching Kashua's trilingual dexterity (he writes predominantly in Hebrew, additionally narrates in Arabic and English), Mitch Ginsburg returns for a second adept translation partnership, following Kashua's Second Person Singular, winner of the 2011 Bernstein Prize.

Kashua's unnamed narrator's life is complicated. He used to be a Jerusalem newspaper editor, but now he's living solo in an Illinois grad school dorm room, separated from his wife and their three children, although he seems to be the kids' primary caregiver. He's written 30 books, but none of them bear his name. He's authored other people's memoirs--with varying degrees of accuracy, embellishment, even all-out fiction--but he hasn't worked since his family escaped the growing violence in Israel two years ago, to follow an academic position offered to his wife.

Fourteen years have passed since he's seen his parents and siblings, but his estranged father finally sent him a Skype message two days ago from his hospital bed, calling him home to Tira in Palestine. The narrator left the village in disgrace on his wedding day, when his father whispered to him that "he would never know love and asked not to see him until the day he dies." Death is now imminent, and father and son have secrets to reveal, memories to bare, bonds hopefully to reconnect. At the crux of their cleaving is the narrator's less-than-a-page long, written-in-an-hour, published-in-a-student-journal, 15-year-old short story that demands final reckoning.

That Kashua's protagonist is a nameless "I" who shares considerable biographical overlaps--a Tira hometown, immigration timing and circumstances, career history, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign landing, psychotherapist wife, their teenage daughter and two younger sons--suggests, perhaps even implies, the so-called truth of Kashua's first-person fiction. Yet his character, whose job is to transcribe others' memories onto the page, repeatedly reveals his elisions from and additions to strangers' memoirs-for-hire, often inserting his own memories as their own, thereby erasing his life in scattered pieces. The narrator's confessions are hardly reliable, making every level of his storytelling suspect, which Kashua further visually underscores by "track changes"-style crossed-out text. For savvy, curious readers, that interplay of parsing fact and fiction proves to be a lively, interactive experience. --Terry Hong, Smithsonian BookDragon

Shelf Talker: Sayed Kashua's fourth novel, Track Changes, weaves together an Arab Palestinian family-in-crisis narrative with an ingenious exploration challenging the expectations of reliable storytelling.

The Bestsellers

Top-Selling Self-Published Titles

The bestselling self-published books last week as compiled by

1. The Elf on the Shelf by Carol V. Aebersold and Chanda B. Bell
2. The Unicorn Project by Gene Kim
3. Lethal Balance by Cherise Sinclair
4. Night's Reckoning by Elizabeth Hunter
5. Enemies by Tijan
6. In the Unlikely Event by L.J. Shen
7. The Lineup by Meghan Quinn
8. The Virgin Gift by Lauren Blakely
9. From Doctor to Patient by Diva Nagula
10. My Big Fat Fake Wedding by Lauren Landish

[Many thanks to!]

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