Shelf Awareness for Tuesday, January 21, 2020


Harper: A Crooked Tree by Una Mannion

Algonquin Books: Let's Get Back to the Party by Zak Salih

Simon & Schuster: Unicorns Are the Worst! by Alex Willan

Candlewick Press: In the Half Room by Carson Ellis

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers: Kondo & Kezumi Visit Giant Island by David Goodner, illustrated by Andrea Tsurumi

Candlewick Press: A Polar Bear in the Snow by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Shawn Harris

News

Wi15 Begins in Baltimore!

Many hundreds of booksellers, publishers, authors and other began arriving in Baltimore, Md., yesterday for Winter Institute 2020, which officially opens tonight with the welcome reception, co-sponsored by Shelf Awareness. Last night, festivities started with many informal dinners and rounds of drinks, and most notably with a reception for the 70-plus international guests hosted by the ABA and ABA board at Westminster Hall, a former church that is the burial place of Edgar Allan Poe.

Allison Hill

At the reception, Allison Hill, who becomes ABA CEO March 1, made what she called the first of many remarks on behalf of the ABA, welcoming the international booksellers and leading a toast.

Today's events include an antitrust symposium on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.; tours of the Penguin Random House warehouse in Westminster, Md.; bookstore tours; an IndieCommerce Institute; a Paz & Associates Workshop on opening a bookstore; a meeting of the Independent Publishers Caucus; and other seminars.


Sourcebooks Explore: No Reading Allowed: The Worst Read-Aloud Book Ever by Raj Haldar and Chris Carpenter, illustrated by Bryce Gladfelter


Harriett's Bookshop Opens in Philadelphia

Jeannine A. Cook opened Harriett's Bookshop earlier this month at 258 E. Girard Ave. in the Fishtown neighborhood of Philadelphia, Pa. Billy Penn reported that "so far, it's been a hit. Half the opening stock sold out within two weeks, Cook said, and neighbors have been supportive both IRL and online." The bookstore will host its official grand opening February 1.

Cook's journey toward achieving her lifelong dream of owning a bookstore was unexpectedly delayed three years ago after she signed a lease for a space at 7th and Girard and began investing in renovations--and then the building burned down.

Devastated, she returned to teaching, "but then a friend forwarded an e-mail from almost a decade ago. In the message, Cook had spoken of her love for writing, and promised she'd open a bookstore one day," Billy Penn noted. 

"I was like, 'Oh my gosh, I'm not following my dreams,' " Cook said. "Look how long I've been crying the same tune."

She found a vacant storefront on Fishtown's bustling Girard Avenue corridor and a landlord who was willing to take a chance on an independent bricks-and-mortar retailer. The bookshop's early success has been "the opposite of what some told Cook to expect from the area, which has gained a reputation as a gentrifying enclave of well-off, majority white residents," Billy Penn wrote.

"One of my mentors was just like, 'Girl, you are so crazy. You know you can't open a bookshop in Fishtown. You're Black,' " Cook recalled. "And I was like, 'You know who else been told that? Harriet Tubman.' "

Harriett's Bookshop focuses on books that are written by women or address gender. Each month, Cook plans to feature a local woman artist, and curate the window book display to match how the art makes her feel. She is also planning of events, community partnerships and programs that serve women and kids, and wants to clear out the second room of the shop and craft a reading area for kids. Another goal is to hire some people who were previously incarcerated, hearkening back to her past life as a teacher, Billy Penn wrote.

Cook noted that she is glad to have proven wrong conventional wisdom about the neighborhood: "Fishtown has been very receptive."

She told KYW Newsradio: "When the world is saying it's necessary, then when is a better time. It's just now is the time to have a bookshop that is women centric, celebrating activists, authors and artists.... We get to go where others are afraid to go. We can't call ourselves Harrietts and be scared. And the reception has been amazing."


Soho Press: The Revolution According to Raymundo Mata by Gina Apostol


B&N CEO James Daunt to Give Opening Keynote at IBPA Publishing University

In what may be his first public talk in the U.S. as CEO of Barnes & Noble, James Daunt will deliver the opening keynote at the Independent Book Publishers Association's Publishing University 2020, which will be held April 3-4 in Redondo Beach, Calif.
James Daunt

"I couldn't be more thrilled that Mr. Daunt has agreed to join the incredibly passionate membership at IBPA Publishing University this April," said IBPA CEO Angela Bole. "As an industry, we need Barnes & Noble to remain a healthy part of the supply chain. If it can also be a force for better connecting indie publishers to their local market, all the better."

In addition to being CEO of B&N, which has 627 stores, Daunt is managing director of Waterstones, which has 293 locations in the U.K., Ireland, the Netherlands and Belgium, and owns Foyles. He is also the founder and owner of Daunt Books, which has nine shops, most of which are in London.

IBPA Publishing University 2020 takes place at the Crowne Plaza Redondo Beach and Marina Hotel and includes education and a  celebration of the 32nd annual IBPA Benjamin Franklin Award winners. For more information about IBPA and the Publishing University, click here.

Daunt will also be delivering the keynote at the Book Industry Study Group's annual meeting on April 24 in New York City.


University of Minnesota Press: My Life in the Purple Kingdom by Brownmark and Cynthia M Uhrich


Indie Bookstore Coming to Hanford, Calif.

My Eyes Y Corazon boutique is relocating from Visalia, Calif., to 300 N. Irwin St. in downtown Hanford and adding a full service bookstore. The Sentinel reported that the move marks "a new chapter for book lovers in Kings County as downtown Hanford will get its first bookstore in nearly a decade."

"We need a bookstore. We don't have anything like that in the area," said My Corazon owner and author Janie Isidoro, who added that the shop was doing well in Visalia for nearly a year, when the building was sold and she was informed the business would have to change locations. She saw the change in ownership as an opportunity not only to move to Hanford, but to expand.

A resident of Hanford, Isidoro had always wanted to open a dedicated bookstore in the area and when it was time to move her clothing, craft and housewares boutique, she considered the idea of integrating a large inventory of books into the shop.

"I really felt that if I don't plunge headfirst into what I really want to do, I might not get another chance to do it," said Isidoro, who will stock books by independent and local authors, including her own work, as well as bestsellers. She also plans to host book signings, readings and other events.

"My family is very kiddie. We're kids at heart, so I really want to host events for children," she added.

To raise funds for new inventory and other costs associated with moving the business, My Corazon is offering sponsorship packages that run from $1-$500. The shop will open in February and host a grand opening sometime after.


Storey Publishing: Wake Up Grateful: The Transformative Practice of Taking Nothing for Granted by Kristi Nelson


Sourcebooks Changes Indie Co-op to Rebate Model

Sourcebooks has changed its independent bookstore co-op model to a rebate program. Under the new Books Change Lives Indie Co-op Program, indies can receive a rebate on the total number of books ordered in the form of a quarterly credit to their account. The retail rebate is 4% on net sales and will be based on sales from the previous year.

Booksellers will have to provide proof that their store supported a Sourcebooks title in one of several ways throughout the quarter--examples include an event, a newsletter review, a social media post--and have a quick account review with a Sourcebooks employee or their sales representative. Previously, the Sourcebooks co‐op program assigned a dollar value to specific activities and the bookstore would have to create a new claim for each activity.

Sourcebooks CEO and publisher Dominique Raccah commented: "Our mission that guides everything that we do is Books Change Lives, and that is a mission that indie booksellers live every single day. We know how busy they are and have developed our Books Change Lives Indie Co‐op Program to better serve them and allow them to receive more money on a quarterly basis."

Valerie Pierce, director of retail marketing and creative services, added: "We are highly committed to finding new ways to help our indie bookstore partners create success, and after careful deliberation with our sales representatives and internal staff, we realized there was more we could do. The revamped program came out of a desire to continue to create success with our partners, and we’re excited about future opportunities to work together."

The company said it's planning "more programmatic initiatives aimed at supporting indie booksellers throughout 2020 to ensure books are getting into the hands of readers who need them."

For more information about the indie co‐op program, contact Margaret Coffee via e-mail.


Rick Riordan Presents: City of the Plague God by Sarwat Chadda


Update: ABA CEO Egan on Australian Bushfire Relief Efforts

As bushfires continue to plague Australia, Robbie Egan, CEO of the Australian Booksellers Association, updated members on the current situation in a letter published last week in the organization's e-newsletter.

"I spoke with John Mitchell from the Book Room Collective (Byron Bay) earlier this week about the impact bushfires have had on bookshops," Egan wrote. "John was exploring ways he could offer assistance to bookshops that have been affected by the unprecedented fire activity this summer. We discussed the potential for the industry to help itself--we know how important bookshops are in communities and want them to survive and thrive. John has decided to pledge a percentage of sales from Australia Day to be directed to bookshops in need. Joining John in doing this is Jay Lansdowne from Constant Reader, and Suzy Wilson from Riverbend Books."

Noting that the ABA is aware many booksellers are already helping and giving in myriad ways, he added: "I also ask those of you affected by the fires to let me know your stories (Robbie.Egan@aba.org.au). I will collate your experiences as told to me and make it available to those who decide to pledge funds so they can give directly. I can anonymize your story if that is your wish. We know from reports that even when roads and communities have opened up, the tourists have stayed away. The scope of this is so hard to comprehend and we hope to assist in facilitating assistance within our own community."

The ongoing tragedy has opened up a discussion at the ABA about its capacity to help, "and the potential for us to start a charitable trust or foundation to help our community when in need, and to further support literacy as a goal in improving lives, and underpinning the important role bookshops play in our communities," Egan observed.


Obituary Note: Christopher Tolkien

Christopher Tolkien, the son of J.R.R. Tolkien, "who guarded his legacy and brought forth monumental posthumous works, like The Silmarillion," died January 15, the New York Times reported. He was 95. After his father died in 1973, Tolkien "worked to keep alive the world he had created in The Hobbit (1937) and The Lord of the Rings (1949).... In all, he edited or oversaw the publication of two dozen editions of his father's works, many of which became international bestsellers."

In addition to being his father's literary executor, Tolkien spent four years organizing and compiling the myths and legends his father was creating to accompany The Lord of the Rings, eventually publishing them in 1977 as The Silmarillion. He is also credited with creating the 1954 map of Middle-earth, a copy of which is now held by the British Library.

Corey Olsen, a Tolkien expert, said, "This opened up a wealth and depth of Tolkien's imaginative world that was breathtaking." In 1996, Christopher Tolkien produced the 12-volume The History of Middle-earth, a compilation of drafts, fragments, rewrites, marginal notes and other writings culled from 70 boxes of unpublished material, which "showed that virtually everything he had published had come from his father's hand."

Thomas Shippey, a British professor who has been writing and lecturing on Tolkien for 50 years, said, "Without Christopher, we would have very little knowledge of how Tolkien created his mythology and his own legendarium."

HarperCollins UK CEO Charlie Redmayne told the Bookseller: "Christopher was a devoted curator of his father's work and the timeless and ongoing popularity of the world that J.R.R. Tolkien created is a fitting testimony to the decades he spent bringing Middle-earth to generations of readers. The most charming of men, and a true gentleman, it was an honor and privilege to know and work with him and our thoughts are with his family at this time."

Tolkien Society chair Shaun Gunner observed: "We have lost a titan and he will be sorely missed."


Notes

Image of the Day: Learning to Love Change

Author Joe Jackman and Heather Reisman, founder and CEO of Indigo Books and Music, took questions from the audience at the launch party for The Reinventionist Mindset: Learning to Love Change, and the Human How of Doing It Brilliantly (Page Two) at the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto. Photo: Pedro Marques/@ipedro


Cool Idea of the Day, #WI15: Bookseller Trading Cards

At Winter Institute, Biblioasis is honoring some bookseller all-stars with packs of trading cards (complete with stats, and gum!). The first set of cards features Stephen Sparks, Point Reyes Books; Lori Feathers, Interabang Books; Cristina Rodriguez, Deep Vellum; James Crossley, Madison Books; Hilary and Mike Gustafson, Literati Bookstore; Josh Cook, Porter Square Books; Matt Kelliher, SubText Books; Caitlin Luce Baker, Island Books; and Janet Jones, Source Booksellers. Collect 'em all!

'Fight Evil, Read Lots, Build Community'

"To me, independent bookstores have been one of the major antidotes to corporate greed and digital soullessness. They stand for community at a time when communities are an endangered species," Ed Siegel said in a recent commentary on WBUR Boston radio headlined "Fight Evil, Read Lots, Build Community and Support Your Local Book Store."

Siegel was recounting an incident on Christmas Eve involving his last-minute gift certificate purchase at Porter Square Books in Cambridge, the subsequent loss of the certificate and his desperate return to the bookstore for a replacement, as well as a Dickensian happy ending.

"I spoke to a woman named Dina, who turned out to be co-owner Dina Mardell," Siegel said. "She explained that the official cards had tracking numbers on them, but the paper cards didn't and she couldn't void it. As my heart sank she added, 'But I'm going to trust you and issue you another one and if you find the old one, I hope that you'll rip it up.'

"I couldn't believe it. Trust?... But the experience is more than a feel-good Christmas story. To me, independent bookstores have been one of the major antidotes to corporate greed and digital soullessness. They stand for community at a time when communities are an endangered species....

"I think that my new ritual will be heading over to Porter Square Books, 15 minutes from my house, grabbing a sandwich and a cup of coffee at Café Zing and, more than likely, buying a book. And the next time I get down on myself and the world, hopefully, I'll remember Dina saying, 'I'm going to trust you.' "


Personnel Changes at Catapult/Counterpoint/Soft Skull

Jennifer Abel Kovitz has left her position as associate publisher and v-p, sales and marketing, at Catapult/Counterpoint Press/Soft Skull Press. For consulting or training queries, she may be contacted via e-mail.


Media and Movies

Media Heat: Philip Rucker, Carol Leonnig on Late Night with Seth Meyers

Today:
Good Morning America: Candace Cameron Bure, author of Grow, Candace, Grow (Zonderkidz, $17.99, 9780310762836).

Watch What Happens Live: June Diane Raphael, co-author of Represent: The Woman's Guide to Running for Office and Changing the World (Workman, $19.95, 9781523502974).

Tomorrow:
Late Night with Seth Meyers: Philip Rucker and Carol Leonnig, authors of A Very Stable Genius: Donald J. Trump's Testing of America (Penguin Press, $30, 9781984877499).

Daily Show: Kim Ghattas, author of Black Wave: Saudi Arabia, Iran, and the Forty-Year Rivalry That Unraveled Culture, Religion, and Collective Memory in the Middle East (Holt, $30, 9781250131201).

TV: Normal People

Hulu has released a teaser trailer for Normal People, adapted from the bestselling novel by Sally Rooney, who co-wrote the scripts with Alice Birch and Mark O'Rowe, IndieWire reported. The series, which stars Daisy Edgar-Jones and Paul Mescal, will premiere this spring on Hulu.

"I felt, writing the book, that both characters were a projection of my point of view," Rooney said. "They both embody aspects of my own psychology.... The challenge of adapting this for the screen is that they both have introspective qualities."

Oscar-nominated Room director Lenny Abrahamson helmed the first six of 12 episodes, with Hettie MacDonald directing the second half.

"You meet somebody on the street and you talk to them for 30 seconds, and you get a sense of who they are," Abrahamson said. "It's extraordinary how many nonverbal [indicators] exist in that arena.... What the novel gives you is this essence, so what you're trying to do as a [filmmaker] is recreate that essence in a new medium."



Books & Authors

Booker Prize Foundation Chair Kennedy Stepping Down

The Booker Prize Foundation chair Helena Kennedy will step down from her position at the end of February after five years. Her successor will be announced shortly. In 2019, Kennedy was appointed director of the International Bar Association's Human Rights Institute, "a role which looks likely to occupy much of her time in the future," the foundation said, adding that "Helena leaves the prize deeply embedded in the global literary firmament and ready for a new era."

"I have loved my long involvement with the Booker Prize which gave me the opportunity to indulge my passion for books, but no one should be on a board for too long," Kennedy said. "As the new director of the International Bar Association's Institute of Human Rights I have a lot on my plate but I will remain closely connected with the prize as it embraces new challenges."

Ben Okri, fellow trustee, writer and poet, commented: "For the last five years Helena Kennedy has served as the chair of the Booker Prize Foundation with distinction, with vision, and with her customary generosity of spirit. She has brought her formidable spirit and humanity to the task of leadership and leaves the Foundation poised for the new chapter of its work.

"The Booker Prizes remain among the foremost literary prizes in the world, a global phenomenon, and their stability over the last five years owes much to the guidance of Helena Kennedy, whose strength and clarity will be missed."


Book Review

Review: Something that May Shock and Discredit You

Something That May Shock and Discredit You by Daniel Mallory Ortberg (Atria, $26 hardcover, 256p., 9781982105211, February 11, 2020)

It can be difficult to pinpoint exactly what makes Something that May Shock and Discredit You hang together so spectacularly. The razor wit? The self-effacing candor? The oddball moments of cultural redux? The truth is that Daniel Mallory Ortberg (now known as Danny Lavery), author of The Merry Spinster and Texts from Jane Eyre, has a discerning and oracular ability to illuminate personal experience through media touchstones--not least of which is the Bible.

"It's easy enough to sell out an evangelical Christian childhood," he writes in the opening essay of a book that falls somewhere between collected works and wholesale memoir. In this first essay, he is in the early stages of his gender transition and, while wrestling with such a challenging existential question, reaches for the image of a demon whispering the possibility of manhood into his ear. "One of the many advantages of a religious childhood is the variety of metaphors made available to describe untranslatable inner experiences," he says, and readers, regardless of spiritual discipline, will be glad such variety is at Ortberg's disposal. But rest assured, he has plenty of originals to dispense as well, like when he writes of the Rapture as "being swept up by the Raisin Bran scoop of heaven."

All this within the first four pages, because Ortberg is just warming up before delving openly into his transmasculine experience with unrivaled panache. "Captain James T. Kirk Is a Beautiful Lesbian, and I'm Not Sure Exactly How to Explain That," admits one chapter title, although Ortberg shows a valiant, hilarious effort at doing just that. And later, "Sir Gawain Just Wants to Leave Castle Make-Out" envisions "a sort of Benny Hill-style montage of hot-potato sexual tension" in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight as a lens for experiencing romantic advances in the midst of bodily dissociation. Ortberg gracefully slips between the memoirist's lucid personal narrative and the essayist's more topical ruminations.

Passage after passage sees him refining a riveting intertextual portrait of his life and transness fit for the pages of an illuminated manuscript. Biblical stories of transformation, transfiguration and renaming become equal to the T4T energy ("couples, usually fictional, mostly heterosexual, that somehow manage to emblematize a particular trans-on-trans dynamic") between Gomez and Morticia Addams. The New Year's resolutions of a humblebragging Marcus Aurelius files in right next to an earnest meditation on the act of communion prompted by a rather unappetizing meal at Evelyn Waugh's house after World War II. Discarding any distinction between high and low cultures, Ortberg's Something that May Shock and Discredit You most certainly astonishes and amazes--it may even be transformative. --Dave Wheeler, associate editor, Shelf Awareness

Shelf Talker: Sidesplitting essays on the transmasculine experience try on numerous lenses from pop culture and Christian stories of transformation, transfiguration and renaming.


The Bestsellers

Top-Selling Self-Published Titles

The bestselling self-published books last week as compiled by IndieReader.com:

1. Come Back for Me by Corinne Michaels
2. Lover by Penelope Sky
3. Just Kidding by Lani Lynn Vale
4. Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert T. Kiyosaki with Sharon L. Lechter
5. One Hour Marketing by Herman Pool
6. Smoke and Mirrors (Sloane Monroe Book 8) by Cheryl Bradshaw
7. A SEAL's Struggle by Cora Seton
8. Twice as Sexy by Carly Phillips
9. Code Name: Heist (Jameson Force Security Book 3) by Sawyer Bennett
10. Protecting What's Mine by Lucy Score

[Many thanks to IndieReader.com!]

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