In honor of Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, New Year's and the Winter Solstice, this is the last issue of Shelf Awareness Pro for the year. We'll see you again on Thursday, January 2, 2020!
In honor of Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, New Year's and the Winter Solstice, this is the last issue of Shelf Awareness Pro for the year. We'll see you again on Thursday, January 2, 2020!
"I just got my tour schedule which is on my Instagram as well; I think we're going to 19 different cities in January alone, and the trip will be filled with independent bookstores. I'm excited about Books Are Magic and Politics & Prose; I'm from Tucson, Arizona, so we're also going to Antigone. Indie bookstores have been such a huge part of promoting the book, and it's just really fun to meet the very capable people who are behind them. I'm so thrilled this is something that indie booksellers are excited about, and it makes me excited as well."
Former Briggs Carriage Bookstore co-owner Barbara Ebling and Phoenix Books owner Mike DeSanto "have teamed up with the help of a community advisory council to open The Bookstore," which made its debut December 4 on the first floor of the Briggs Carriage building at 8 Conant Square in Brandon, Vt., the Addison County Independent reported.
Ebling, whose bookstore closed in 2012 ("It was too big. The space was too big, and we were trying to do too much."), subsequently worked for Book & Leaf bookstore, which closed earlier this year after owners Steve and Melissa Errick put the building up for sale. It was there, however, that the idea was hatched last August for a new venture during a conversation with Steve Errick and local sculptor and writer B. Amore.
Although renting the Book & Leaf space proved to be too expensive, the idea "grew exponentially" when Amore suggested contacting DeSanto. "Without B., I would have been too shy. I wouldn't have done that," Ebling said. She and Amore envisioned a community-supported bookstore, and an advisory council was formed. The group held a planning meeting this fall and invited DeSanto. "He liked what he saw and what he heard," Ebling added. "He liked that I was involved and had experience. He's committed to keeping independent bookstores alive in Vermont."
DeSanto had a limited liability corporation, Ebling started her own and the two agreed to partner with an eye to a community-supported enterprise under the umbrella of Phoenix Books Brandon, operating the business as The Bookstore.
"I know a thing or two," Ebling said. "I don't know it all, but now I also have someone I can call and say, 'Mike, what do I do? Help!' and it's so valuable. He gives me perspective."
After months of searching for another retail space, advisory council member Kate Briggs, who owns the Briggs Carriage building, suggested her property and "drove a hard bargain, insisting on a rental price unheard of these days: $1 a month, for the first year," the Independent noted.
"Frankly, I'm doing this because it's incredibly good for the town," Briggs said. "I think when you drive through a town and you see an independent bookstore, you think 'This is a classy little town.' I think it makes a difference and will enhance the value of everything. The combination of Barbara and Mike, who knew what they were doing, who thought it could be done, then I certainly felt it could be done. And I really felt that rent was critical."
The group has established a Community Supported Bookstore Certificate Program, through which patrons buy a $500 certificate and get an equivalent credit on books bought at the store. They can redeem up to 10% per month and no more than $1,000 in a calendar year. They also get 20% off books and 10% off other merchandise for the life of the certificate.
"I think everybody is really excited about this," Briggs said, and Ebling added: "It's a nice tapestry that's weaving itself together."
DeSanto said he believes in The Bookstore venture: "I've been in the business for 25 years and there's very little I haven't had to cope with.... It's one thing for me to put in money, it's one thing for Barbara to put on money. The third leg of this is community support. By getting the community involved at the front end, it becomes much easier to move forward.... The future is just wide open and I wouldn't be doing this if it weren't for Barbara. She and I felt that if we make The Bookstore a success, it would be a reflection of Brandon's success in the future."
Gloria and Frederick Fierch are the new owners of the Book Shoppe in Medina, N.Y. The Daily News reported that they purchased the business on December 2 from Sue Phillips, who had owned the bookstore for 21 years.
"I just thought it was time to sell," Phillips said. "My husband (Roland) wants to retire next summer. I don't want to retire, but I guess it is retirement time. I guess it was a good time in my life to let it go.... I'm very grateful over the years that the community and customers have given the book shop. As an independent bookstore, we're kind of rare." She will stay at the bookstore through the month to help the transition.
Gloria Fierch said they bought the store because she wanted to come out of retirement: "It's such a happy place, such a fun place. It's almost like a hobby for me at work. Love the books, love the toys.... The reception from the public has been absolutely wonderful. People have been so complimentary and so happy that we're keeping up the bookshop."
PubWest's 2020 Jack D. Rittenhouse Award is going to Malcolm Margolin, author, publisher and founder and executive director of the California Institute for Community, Arts, and Nature.
"His love of books, his dedication to language and its preservation, and his reverence for the natural world and our mutually beloved state of California have made him a hero to me and every other Western publisher," said Colleen Dunn Bates, PubWest board president and publisher at Prospect Park Books. "I can think of no one more deserving of this honor."
Throughout his prolific career, Margolin wrote several books on California natural history, cultural history and Indian life, such as The Ohlone Way: Indian Life in the San Francisco-Monterey Bay Area; founded the independent nonprofit publisher Heyday (formerly Heyday Books); oversaw the creation of the magazines News from Native California and Bay Nature; and was deeply involved in a variety of cultural institutions like the Alliance for California Traditional Arts, the Inlandia Institute, the California Baksetweavers Association and Advocates for Indigenous California Language Survival. His next book, Deep Hanging Out: Wanderings and Wonderments in Native California, will be published by Heyday in 2021.
Margolin will accept the award during the PubWest 2020 conference, slated for February 20-22 in Portland, Ore.
Peterson's Publishing has acquired Barron's Educational Series (B.E.S.) Publishing, Inc., which includes more than 800 children's, lifestyle and hobby titles. Ingram's Two Rivers Distribution began selling and distributing the list globally, effective November 1.
"We are thrilled to add the B.E.S. backlist titles to our publishing program and we look forward to adding more great titles to the B.E.S. list in the days and years to come," said Mo Lam, CEO of Peterson's Publishing.
Nick Parker, director, Two Rivers Distribution, said B.E.S. has "a fantastic children's list with an incredible history, and we look forward to bringing their books to market and expanding their reach globally."
Bloomsbury has acquired Oberon Books in a £1.2 million (about $1.6 million) deal, the Bookseller reported, adding that the theater publisher will now operate from Bloomsbury's academic & professional division. Oberon was founded in 1985 by James Hogan and has a backlist of more than 1,500 titles.
"We are delighted to become owners of the prestigious Oberon list," said Jonathan Glasspool, managing director of the academic & professional division. "The Oberon program aligns very well with our existing publishing within Methuen Drama. The Oberon list strengthens our offerings in contemporary theater. With the combined lists of Oberon, Methuen Drama and the Arden Shakespeare, Bloomsbury is looking forward to developing and diversifying its position as the world's leading international publisher in drama and the performing arts."
Hogan commented: "After 32 years it's time to ensure that Oberon and its authors achieve a secure, lively home in the future. I'm truly delighted that Bloomsbury, the leader in drama publishing, is taking over to carry on the good work."
Historian William S. McFeely, "who won a Pulitzer Prize for his biography of Ulysses S. Grant but was also well known for advancing the field of black history," died December 11, the New York Times reported. He was 89.
McFeely also wrote an acclaimed biography of Frederick Douglass as well as Yankee Stepfather: General O.O. Howard and the Freedmen (1968). "These books and other writings established Professor McFeely as a leading interpreter of Reconstruction, the pivotal period after the Civil War," the Times noted.
Grant: A Biography won the 1982 Pulitzer Prize for biography or autobiography and the 1982 Francis Parkman Prize. Frederick Douglass was honored with the 1991 Lincoln Prize. His other titles include Proximity to Death; Portrait: The Life of Thomas Eakins; and Sapelo's People: A Long Walk into Freedom.
"Via his books on Howard, Douglass and Grant, McFeely played a major role in the re-evaluation of Reconstruction--seeing it not as an era of misgovernment and corruption as previous scholars too often did, but as a key moment, despite its flaws, in the ongoing struggle for racial justice in this country," said author Eric Foner.
Drew Gilpin Faust, historian and former president of Harvard University, said McFeely's "prizewinning books, and especially his magnificent biographies, have made the past vivid for scholars and general readers alike."
McFeely taught at Yale until 1970, "helping to establish the university's Department of African American Studies and teaching a core course on African-American history," observed Henry Louis Gates Jr., who was in his class. "Professor McFeely's riveting lectures brought to life in the most vivid way a world about which most of us had been unaware, a world of black achievement, sacrifice, resistance and attainment, facts and stories that had been edited out of standard American history textbooks."
Gates added: "Inevitably, during question period, someone would stand up and rudely ask how a white man like him could dare to teach a black history class. Invariably, he responded, unfazed, that the person was absolutely right, that a black person should be hired, and would be hired one day, soon. But in the meantime, we should study our lecture notes and do next week's reading for the class! I think even the most militant among us respected him enormously for the courage of that response."
Many indie bookstores are sending holiday season messages to their patrons via chalkboards this year, including:
The Village Bookstore, Pleasantville, N.Y.: "My favorite winter sport is reading."
Bards Alley, Vienna, Va.: "Season's readings from us to you."
Main Street Books, Mansfield, Ohio: "Is procrastination really a problem if you do get everything done on time? (You still have a few days.)"
Second Star to the Right Books, Denver, Colo.: "Books: THE PERFECT GIFT--We Promise!*.... *We are not responsible for any resulting urges to read at dinner, in the car, in the bath, and instead of sleeping when you’re supposed to."
Roundabout Books, Bend, Ore.: " 'Christmas is a togethery sort of holiday,' said Pooh. 'That's my favorite kind,' said Piglet"
Books A Plenty, Tauranga, New Zealand: "Ho... Ho... Hope it's a book!"
Jessica Breen is joining Basic Books as marketing director, effective January 6. She is currently digital marketing strategist at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
Fresh Air repeat: Jack Goldsmith, author of In Hoffa's Shadow: A Stepfather, a Disappearance in Detroit, and My Search for the Truth (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $28, 9780374175658).
Tuesday, December 24:
Morning Joe: KK Ottesen, author of Activist: Portraits of Courage (Chronicle Books, $35, 9781452182773).
Greta Gerwig's Little Women, "which she wrote and directed for Sony Pictures, is one of the great film achievements of the year," Variety reported, adding that to "give her film an epic scope--which it has--Gerwig drew from Louisa May Alcott's classic novel, Alcott's life and letters, and her own (seamlessly incorporated) original material."
The first scene depicts Jo (Saoirse Ronan) meeting with a publisher. "As a woman in the mid-19th Century--one who doesn’t want to marry, only wants to be a writer, and to seek control over her writing--Jo is going to struggle. Gerwig films Jo writing like she’s filming a fight scene: Because she is," Variety noted. "The March sisters--Florence Pugh (Amy), Eliza Scanlen (Beth) and Meg (Emma Watson)--are learning how to be. Putting on plays, squabbling and then coming back together, and growing into adulthood requires a lot of talking. In the screenplay, Gerwig uses side-by-side dialogue to show how these overlapping conversations are conducted, so you can actually hear them on the page. In years to come, this film will be considered a classic. So let's just call it that now. Read the full screenplay here."
Titles from 18 countries and 11 languages are among the record 20 winners of English PEN’s translation awards, including the first translation from the Georgian as well as first translations into English of novels by women from Libya and the Central African Republic. Books are selected for PEN Translates awards "on the basis of outstanding literary quality, the strength of the publishing project and their contribution to U.K. bibliodiversity." See the complete list of winners here.
"The movement of words and ideas across borders has never felt so urgent," said Will Forrester, translation and international manager at English PEN. "These awards go to 20 vital, exceptional works of international literature, and mark extraordinary breadth and quality--with titles from across Africa, the Americas, Asia and Europe, and from small and large publishers alike. English PEN is delighted to support these books, and to continue our unwavering commitment to internationalism, the free movement of words, and literary diversity."
Daniel Hahn, chair of the PEN Translates selection panel, commented: "English PEN has long argued for the broadest possible internationalism in our publishing world--not as a niche interest or a luxury, but as a cultural necessity. With each round, this our fifteenth, PEN Translates receives an ever-greater number of more competitive, more promising, more diverse submissions, from terrific publishers of all sizes who, even in a risk-averse business, continue to look out at the world with ambition. These twenty titles add to the bibliodiversity that U.K. readers can enjoy in twenty quite different ways. Each selected title is a work of translated literature English PEN is proud to be associated with, and I'm delighted we're able to help them into the market. Like many other curious readers, I'll be awaiting them eagerly."
Europa Editions UK, the Royal Society of Literature and Swindon's Prime Theatre have been awarded grants from the Mo Siewcharran Fund "to take on interns from BAME backgrounds," the Bookseller reported. The grants cover placements of up to six months for young candidates passionate about publishing or the theater. The fund was established in memory of former Nielsen Books director Siewcharran by her husband, John Seaton, "in order to encourage young people from disadvantaged backgrounds to pursue a career in the arts."
The fund will support a publishing traineeship with Europa Editions UK. Director Daniela Petracco said: "At Europa Editions we believe passionately that to remain relevant, publishing must become more inclusive. We are delighted to work with Creative Access--whose vision and dedication have been and are instrumental in opening up the publishing industry to young people from under-represented backgrounds."
At the RSL, the grant will create a communications and administrative assistant internship. Director Molly Rosenberg said the organization is "committed to encouraging, promoting and engaging readers and writers of all backgrounds and experiences, particularly those who have historically not found their voices represented in British literature."
|photo: Sarah Dorio|
Colleen Oakley's novels Before I Go and Close Enough to Touch have been named best books by People magazine, Us Weekly, Library Journal and Real Simple, and both were longlisted for the Pat Conroy Southern Book Prize. Oakley was formerly editor-in-chief of Women's Health & Fitness and senior editor of Marie Claire, and her articles and essays have been featured in the New York Times, Ladies' Home Journal, Women's Health, Redbook, Parade, Marie Claire and Martha Stewart Weddings. She lives in Atlanta, Ga., with her husband, four kids and the world's biggest lapdog, Bailey. You Were There Too (Berkley, January 7, 2020) is her third novel.
On your nightstand now:
I'm in the middle of The Giver of Stars by JoJo Moyes. I got to meet her when she came to Atlanta for her tour and I fangirled. Hard. I also have a quite a stack of arcs to blurb, including The Antidote to Everything by Kimmery Martin, and on the very top, which I'll read next, is Things We Didn't Talk About When I Was a Girl by Jeannie Vanasco. I read an excerpt online and was hooked.
Favorite book when you were a child:
From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg. That title! How could you not love that book based on the title alone? Also, I was a total rule-follower as a young kid--I remedied that in high school--and I was in slack-jawed awe of Claudia's rebellious independence.
Your top five authors:
Ann Patchett, Ian McEwan, Jojo Moyes, Curtis Sittenfeld, Steve Martin.
Book you've faked reading:
Does a painfully long poem count? Beowulf. I'm still not convinced anyone has actually read it, or understands it, including the teachers. That was a dark semester in my high school career.
Book you're an evangelist for:
Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple. I got to read an advanced copy when I was a reviewer, and it's the only book I ever recommended for a starred review. I made sure every one of my friends had a copy as soon as it came out. It's clear I'm the reason it did so well, though I've never gotten my due credit. I still think it's one of the most genius-ly (is that a word?) funny books I've ever read.
Book you've bought for the cover:
Becoming by Michelle Obama. Seeing her kind, glowing face makes me feel like everything is going to be okay. Though I wish it was back in the White House.
Book you hid from your parents:
Fifteen by Beverly Cleary. I wanted to read it when I was 10. My mom typically let me read what I wanted to, but she suggested I wait until I was a little older for that one. I did not.
Book that changed your life:
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini. I can't really explain why, but I do remember finishing it on a plane and clutching it to my chest and just feeling changed in some profound way. Like I understood humanity differently.
Favorite line from a book:
"He is fifteen and ten and five. He is an instant. He is flying back to her. He is hers again. She feels the weight of him in her chest as he comes into her arms. He is her son, her beloved child, and she takes him back." This is a paragraph from Commonwealth by Ann Patchett, and when I read it, I felt it so deeply, that I had to close the book for a minute and just sit with it. And I remember thinking that if I ever wrote a paragraph as perfect as this one, I would quit writing. (I also may or may not be crying right now, as I read the lines again).
Five books you'll never part with:
Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston, East of Eden by John Steinbeck, On Writing by Stephen King, This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage by Ann Patchett and My Father's Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett.
Book you most want to read again for the first time:
The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger. I've read it so many times, my book is literally coming apart at the seams. But nothing ever beats the first time.
The Girl with the Louding Voice by Abi Daré (Dutton, $26 hardcover, 384p., 9781524746025, February 4, 2020)
With her debut novel, The Girl with the Louding Voice, Abi Daré introduces Adunni, an unforgettable 14-year-old from the Nigerian village of Ikata, and her dream of becoming a teacher.
"This morning, Papa call me inside the parlor," narrator Adunni begins. She kneels down, placing her hand behind her back to address him. "Sah?... You call me?" Thus, Nigerian-born author Daré sets up the power dynamics that play out through the entire novel, between father and daughter, husband and wife, and in society at large.
Adunni's recently deceased mother had supported the family by frying 100 puff-puffs daily to sell in the Ikati market. "Your schooling is your voice, child," Mama would tell her, and Adunni wants "a louding voice." But Papa cannot pay the community rent now, and sells his daughter to Morufu, the taxi driver, whose two other wives have not yet borne him a son.
Adunni's kindness and empathy toward others, in the face of such injustices, return to her, but it takes time. Morufu's first wife beats Adunni, but second wife Khadija befriends her. Khadija is pregnant; if this baby is not a boy, Morufu will kick her out. Adunni accompanies Khadija, she believes, to get medical help when the baby seems to be coming early. Instead, Adunni discovers en route that they are going to the village where the true father of Khadija's baby lives--a man who purportedly sires only sons. But Khadija dies of complications and Adunni fears she will be charged with murder, so she flees to the bustling city of Lagos to work for Big Madam, a wealthy woman who has made a fortune selling fabrics to the rich.
Through Adunni's perspective, Daré demonstrates how social strata matters little for women in Nigerian society. Big Madam, despite her abusive treatment of Adunni, gains readers' empathy as Adunni notes the woman's treatment by her husband. When Big Daddy leers at (and later attempts to rape) Adunni, she observes, "How is Morufu and Big Daddy different from each other? One can speak good English and the other doesn't speak good English, but both of them have the same terrible sickness of the mind." Adunni's lifeline is her discovery of The Book of Nigerian Facts in the library. She begins to put her experience into a larger context; readers watch the heroine's mind expand with each morsel of knowledge. Only Kofi, Big Madam's Ghanaian chef, shows Adunni respect. Kofi tells her about a scholarship for female domestic workers, and Adunni's fire ignites once more.
Through Adunni's narration, Daré introduces readers to the full scope of the young woman's widening world. The narrator's attempts to make the unknown familiar often come across like metaphors in poetry. Readers leave Adunni knowing that she has the intellectual resources and the guts to face whatever challenges she must in order to attain her goals. --Jennifer M. Brown, senior editor, Shelf Awareness
Shelf Talker: A winning young narrator pursues her dream of education and leaves her small village for the bustling city of Lagos in Nigerian-born author Abi Daré's debut novel.
"When Charles Dickens made his second visit to this country, three years ago, there was a stir among the booksellers, and the clash of enterprise was altogether stunning for a few months." --Louisville Courier-Journal, December 23, 1870
Dickens is on my mind, as is natural this time of year, though perhaps more so because I just read Jon Clinch's brilliant novel Marley (Atria), which breathes intriguing, and deliciously unsettling, life into fiction's iconic business partner from hell. Also on my recommended reads list this season is Christmas in Austin by Benjamin Markovits (Faber), which felt like going home for the holidays as an honorary member of the fictional, fascinating and functionally dysfunctional Essinger family, whom I first encountered with reading pleasure in A Weekend in New York.
I would have had great fun handselling those two titles over the next few days if I were still a bookseller. For those who are actually on the sales floor, the final countdown to Christmas Eve is intensifying. With this morning's bell tolling just five more days, the annual questions press: Will customers keep coming in? Will the weather hold? Will those last-minute shipments make it in time? Will the booksellers stay healthy and on their game? Were enough copies of (insert any title here) ordered?
It's the most wonderful(ly intense) time of the year. As it ever was.
"The long-awaited busy season is upon us, and bookmakers and booksellers are made happy and reviewers sad," the American Booksellers Guide reported in its October 1, 1874 edition. "True, the predictions of those who prophesied a season of unexampled activity have not yet been fulfilled; but business has been steady and fair, and the books, by Christmas, will make a favorable showing."
The New York Tribune's December 22, 1893 edition reported that the "real rush of Christmas shoppers began yesterday, and, as is usual at every Christmastide, the publishing houses and bookstores were favorite gathering places for these holiday shoppers. Much has already been said in these columns concerning the Christmas publications and the efforts made by all the publishers to make the display this year a true picture of the high development that the art of book-making has reached."
On December 24, 1928 the Irish Times noted: "It is Christmas Eve, and the swing-doors of the book-shop are continually opening to admire all sorts and conditions of men, from the ardent booklover who will linger lovingly over rich bindings and tooled backs, to the humble artisan who drops in to pick up a book on carpentry--'not more than a couple of bob'.... There are the 'regulars,' who come almost at the last moment, know what they want, get it, and depart; and the casuals, who, having exhausted all ideas of what to give some friend for Christmas, have decided at the eleventh hour that 'a book might do.' Indeed, gentle reader, what better gift can one bestow that will ensure 'A Happy Christmas?' "
Lloyd Wendt, co-author of Bet a Million!, once offered a note of appreciation in a Chicago Daily Tribune column headlined "Benevolent Thoughts for Booksellers" (December 5, 1948): "In these Yule days of peace, good will, and general benevolence, my thoughts turn naturally to the folks who write out the sales slip at bookstores. All year long, without any expectation of appreciation or hope of gratitude, they have been contributing to the livelihood of people who find themselves in my situation as a writer of books. It seems that at Christmas time, when we all take stock of our blessings, the writing craft ought to say, 'thank you'....
"To find an authentic bookseller, it is necessary to go into a store or shop where books actually are sold. There, among tiers of titles, from leather-bound quartos and browning chapbooks to the most seductive dust jackets of the latest historical novel, you'll see him, quiet, well-mannered, self-effacing, wonderfully savvy. He'll serve you well....Perhaps he'll delicately draw your interest to a title that's a favorite of his. Better get it; he knows what he's doing.... Probably the bookseller stays quietly in his shop because he likes books and likes to put them into the hands of deserving readers. For this he'll win no literary awards, grace no cocktail parties, sign no Hollywood contracts, collect no royalties. I wish him, most heartily, a merry Christmas."
On Christmas Day a year later, the Washington Post noted that although booksellers have personal book wish lists, "few of these Christmas wishes will probably be realized today, for as one bookseller sadly said, 'No one ever gives us books. People don't know what we have and haven't at home, and therefore are afraid to give us books.' So, if your bookseller blossoms out in a red necktie or heliotrope nylons, don't hold it against him or her--they just didn't find books under the Christmas tree."
Here's hoping you find plenty of books under your tree. Enjoy the holidays. See you next year.