Also published on this date: Wednesday, February 5, 2020: Maximum Shelf: Migrations

Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Crown Publishing Group (NY): Here One Moment Liane Moriarty

Minotaur Books: Betrayal at Blackthorn Park: A Mystery (Evelyne Redfern #2) by Julia Kelly

Tor Books: Blood of the Old Kings by Sung-Il Kim, Translated by Anton Hur

Del Rey Books: The Book of Elsewhere by Keeanu Reeves and China Miéville

St. Martin's Press: You'll Never Believe Me: A Life of Lies, Second Tries, and Other Stuff I Should Only Tell My Therapist by St. Martin's Press

Watkins Publishing: A Feminist's Guide to ADHD: How Women Can Thrive and Find Focus in a World Built for Men by Janina Maschke

Quotation of the Day

'Perhaps... My Own Book Was Inspired While Shelving'

"Working at BookPeople in Austin from 2009-2016 was the best job, because I got to be surrounded by books and passionate readers and I had time to think. Spending a lot of time in a bookstore makes it clear what subjects have gotten a lot of attention, and what gaps remain to be filled, what connections have yet to be made. The memoir section was right next to the biography section at BookPeople, so perhaps my desire to bring those two genres together in my own book was inspired while shelving."

--Jenn Shapland, author of My Autobiography of Carson McCullers (Tin House Books), a Winter Spring 2020 Indies Introduce adult debut and a February Indie Next List pick, in a Bookselling This Week q&a

G.P. Putnam's Sons: Shame on You: How to Be a Woman in the Age of Mortification by Melissa Petro


AAP Sales: November Net Sales Plummet 23.9%

Total net book sales November 2019 in the U.S. fell 23.9%, to $964.6 million, compared to November 2018, representing sales of 1,361 publishers and distributed clients as reported to the Association of American Publishers. For the first 11 months of the year, total net book sales rose 0.9%, to $13.5 billion.

The AAP attributed the losses in November to "unusually high revenue totals for the month of November 2018." And in fact, net trade sales in November 2018 did rise 15.3% over November 2017, a striking jump, which came in large part because of big gains in trade sales. In November 2018, when Becoming by Michelle Obama was released, adult hardcover sales were up 36.3%, and children's/YA categories were all up between 13.2% and 23.3%.

By contrast, in November 2019 the only categories with positive results were downloaded audio, up 24.1%, and university press e-books and paperbacks, up 2.2% and 1.6%, respectively.

Although K-12 was off 2.7%, the AAP noted that it is up 24.7%, to $3.1 million, for the first 11 months of 2019. Children's/YA is also up 5.2%, to $2 billion, for the year to date. Trade revenues overall for the first 11 months were off 0.8%, to $7.2 billion.

Sales by category in November 2019 compared to November 2018:

Harpervia: The Alaska Sanders Affair by Joël Dicker, Translated by Robert Bononno

Sassafras on Sutton Expands

Sassafras on Sutton in Black Mountain, N.C., has expanded. The bookstore, which opened in February 2018, now includes a second floor.

In a Facebook post announcing the expansion, co-owner and children's author Susanne Blumer said the children's section will move upstairs, allowing for more books, toys, games, puzzles and "art supplies for big and little creatives." At the same time, Blumer plans to expand the store's Christian section and will broaden the selection of fiction and nonfiction titles, which will all remain downstairs. A staircase has been built that connects the floors, and there will be a new entrance through an adjacent courtyard.

Blumer noted that construction on the upstairs space is ongoing, and she hopes to open at the end of March or in early April. The store will celebrate both its two-year anniversary and the expansion at the same time, and she urged customers to watch out for the official grand opening announcement.

"Without you I would not be able to make this happen," said Blumer, who owns the store with her husband, Cole Blumer. "Cole and I are thrilled about our expansion and hope you all will be too!"

In December 2018, Sassafras on Sutton's building, which originally served as the town's livery stable, suffered substantial damage from a major snowstorm that dumped record amounts of snow throughout that part of North Carolina. The store was able to reopen in early March 2019, with a "Blow the Roof Off" reopening event.

The Mysterious Press Moves to Penzler Publishers

Otto Penzler has taken sole ownership of the Mysterious Press and added it to his publishing company, Penzler Publishers. For the past nine years, the Mysterious Press, founded by Penzler in 1975,  has been an imprint at Grove Atlantic, which will publish 10 books under the imprint in 2020.

Beginning in 2021, the Mysterious Press will be distributed by Norton, which also distributes two other imprints of Penzler Publishers: American Mystery Classics, which is issuing hardcover and trade paperbacks of Golden Age detective novels; and Scarlet, which will release its first list of psychological/domestic suspense in the fall.

"Working with Morgan Entrekin at Grove Atlantic has been one of the singular pleasures of my career," said Penzler. "He has been enormously supportive and generous throughout our years of working together. There is no greater gentleman in the world of publishing than he is, and I am honored to have his friendship."

Entrekin commented: "Otto is the world's greatest expert on crime fiction, and it has been exciting to publish such wonderful authors both established and new together over the last nine years. I am sorry to see him go but I understand his desire to combine all his imprints and I wish him continued success."

Charles Perry, currently the publisher of, has also been named publisher of Penzler Publishers and will be in charge of all three imprints. Luisa Smith of Book Passage in Corte Madera, Calif., will become editor-in-chief of Scarlet. Jane Friedman, former CEO of HarperCollins and founder of Open Road Integrated Media, and Nat Sobel of Sobel-Weber Associates, are acting as consultants for Penzler Publishers.

Phaidon Acquires the Monacelli Press

Phaidon has acquired the Monacelli Press, which publishes illustrated books on architecture, design, and the arts. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed. Under Phaidon, the Monacelli Press will continue as a separate imprint and brand, and all staff will relocate to Phaidon's office in New York City. The Monacelli Press was founded in 1994 by Gianfranco Monacelli. In 2015, Monacelli launched Monacelli Studio, an applied arts imprint focused on art instruction, photography technique and crafts.

"The Monacelli Press's portfolio is an exciting opportunity to accelerate our growth and expand into new categories where they have excelled for the past 25 years," said Phaidon CEO Keith Fox. "The acquisition reinforces our commitment to publish the most distinguished authors and create highly designed and edited books that inspire generations of readers."

Gianfranco Monacelli comnmented: "I am delighted that Phaidon will be the new owner of the Monacelli Press. After 25 years of publishing influential books that have challenged the conventions of traditional publishing, I cannot think of a better company than Phaidon to carry on our program of provocative and essential titles, and to take the press to the next level."

Wi15: Board Games for the Win

With the board games industry enjoying a years-long surge in popularity, a panel convened at Winter Institute 15 last week in Baltimore, Md., to discuss the hobby games market and ways in which booksellers can sell and market board games successfully.

Panelists were Todd Dickinson, co-owner of Aaron's Books in Lititz, Pa.; David Prescott, CEO of the British bookseller Blackwell's; and Milton Griepp, founder and CEO of ICv2, an online trade magazine that covers geek culture. John Stacy, executive director of the Game Manufacturers Association, moderated the discussion.

Griepp offered an overview of the hobby games market, reporting that the industry has seen "10 uninterrupted years of steady growth," with the sector accounting for $1.5 billion in retail sales in 2018. He noted that hobby games, which include everything from collectible card games such as Magic the Gathering to roleplaying games like Dungeons & Dragons, as well as board games like Catan and Pandemic and card games like Codenames and Cards Against Humanity, are bigger than the comics and graphic novels sector by about 50%.

Dickinson began stocking board games and roleplaying games at his store just a few years ago, and now has a dedicated board game section with play tables and a case of demo games for people to try out. He said that it was "always a challenge" to keep certain games in stock and restocking games in general can be a "guessing game." There are around five or six large wholesalers instead of one major wholesaler, and some games, including some of the most popular titles like Catan and Ticket to Ride, are only available directly from the publisher. He said that while he can forecast book sales fairly accurately from week to week and month to month, games can be much harder to predict.

Many of his store's gaming sessions are devoted to Dungeons & Dragons. The store hosts five ongoing groups and runs a few one-shot campaigns (stories that are finished in a single play session rather than several) per month. When people register for something like a one-shot, he continued, he sends them a list of expectations about behavior. He said he's only had to ask one person to leave, and that was due to their overbearing playstyle and not because of any sort of harassment or inappropriate behavior. Some of his most popular board game events are how-to-play sessions, where staff members teach customers how to play a few specific games, and he added that the board game audience is more diverse than one might expect--for a recent how-to-play session, the audience was about 70% women.

Prescott reported that Blackwell's started carrying board games around six years ago, and it was all because of one bookseller named Charlotte, who was partcularly passionate about them. She convinced her manager to start stocking a few, and since then it has grown and grown, becoming a major part of Blackwell's business. Prescott explained that Blackwell's high street shops host board game nights where customers can come, bring their own food and alcohol and play games. He advised any bookseller hosting that kind of event to be "very clear on when game night is going to finish," because many enthusiasts would happily play until two or three in the morning. In Blackwell's campus shops, meanwhile, board game events are generally held on Wednesday afternoons, which are traditionally free afternoons at U.K. universities.

Blackwell's board game events have become so popular that the company actually offers a subscription service for them, where customers can get into every game night held per year. Stores sometimes have to turn people away now, and as a result players are showing up earlier and earlier. Prescott agreed that the board game audience is a very diverse one, adding that a couple actually got engaged at a Blackwell's game night, but said it takes time for the community to broaden. He warned booksellers not to be disheartened when they hold their first board game night and "eight guys in Rush t-shirts sign up." --Alex Mutter

Obituary Note: Alice Mayhew

Alice Mayhew

Legendary editor Alice Mayhew, v-p and editorial director of Simon & Schuster, died February 4. She was 87. Mayhew's first job in publishing was writing reviews for Commonweal. She then held editorial positions at Harper & Row and Random House before joining Simon & Schuster in 1971. In her nearly 50 years with the company, she "established herself as a true mainstay of our publishing efforts, editing a distinguished list of writers in history, biography, journalism, politics, contemporary affairs and popular culture," S&S president and CEO Carolyn K. Reidy said in a statement.

Reidy noted that Mayhew's "long and illustrious list of authors reads like a who's who of the best and the bestselling in nonfiction over the past five decades." Four authors published by her--Taylor Branch, Doris Kearns Goodwin, Diane McWhorter and Garry Wills--were awarded the Pulitzer Prize, and many others received prestigious honors and recognitions. Works like Our Bodies, Ourselves from the Boston Women's Health Book Collective became lasting cultural touchstones. She was also the editor of All the President's Men by Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward.

"Those of us who worked with Alice, and I have had the pleasure for nearly 30 years, knew her to be sharp, direct and astute," Reidy observed. "[S]he could be tough, but her passion, enthusiasm and wisdom were always expressed in the service of bringing out the best work possible from her authors, and then assuring that they received the best possible publication they could expect to receive."

Noting that S&S publisher Jonathan Karp said Mayhew "had the grit of TR and the wit of FDR," Reidy added: "Needless to say she was highly opinionated, and we were the beneficiaries of her unique insights, which served to make all of us better at what we do. Not least, her office was a training ground for innumerable assistants who went on to great accomplishments and careers in book publishing and related fields."

Reidy also said that Mayhew's loyalty to her authors "was so absolute that despite her extraordinary record in publishing and the many offers she received over the years, she repeatedly refused to participate in any form of publicity or recognition for her achievements, never wavering in her conviction that the spotlight should always remain entirely focused on her authors. It is no wonder, then, that her dedication and commitment were frequently returned in the form of author-editor relationships that lasted decades and entire careers.

"Whether she was sharing some good news about one of her books, or her always fascinating observations about the political events of the day (politics being her other full-time passion), Alice remained until the very end an exemplar of what an editor could and should be. It is difficult to imagine Simon & Schuster without Alice and her unrelenting energy: her contribution to our company and our culture has been immense, and she will be deeply missed both here and in the larger literary community."


Image of the Day: Klein and Coates

Greenlight Bookstore, Brooklyn, N.Y., hosted Ezra Klein (r.), author of Why We're Polarized (Avid Reader/S&S), in conversation with Ta-Nehisi Coates, author of Between the World and Me and We Were Eight Years in Power, at St. Joseph's College. (photo: Morgan Hoit)

Chicago to Distribute University of British Columbia Press

The University of Chicago Press is now handling marketing and distribution of University of British Columbia Press titles in the U.S.

Founded in 1971, UBC Press, Vancouver, B.C., publishes books "integral to Canada's cultural, political, and social fabric." It has some 900 titles in print and releases 65-70 new works a year in the areas of Canadian history, political science, the environment, Indigenous history and current issues, Asian Studies, legal trends, law and society, social policy, gender and sexuality studies, education, natural resources, communications, disability studies historical geography, immigration, multiculturalism, and transnationalism.

Personnel Changes at Macmillan; Scholastic

At Macmillan's field sales group:

Katie Hartman has joined the company as field sales account manager for Oregon, Washington, and Utah. She started her career in special sales at Macmillan before moving to HarperCollins in 2016 to work on its special markets team.

Daniela Plunkett has joined the company as Edelweiss manager. She formerly worked in telephone sales with Pacific Northwest accounts at Simon & Schuster.

Kara Warschausky has been named associate marketing manager. She has worked at Macmillan since 2016 as marketing coordinator in the international sales department.


At Scholastic Trade Publishing:

Shannon Pender has been promoted to marketing associate, young adult. She was previously marketing coordinator.
Caroline Noll has been promoted to sales coordinator, national accounts. She was previously sales assistant.

Sydney Niegos has joined the company as field sales assistant. She was most recently an intern in the Scholastic publicity department and previously worked in film and television production for Pacific 2.1 Productions, Duke Productions, and 7 Film and Television Productions.
Melanie Wann has joined Scholastic as sales assistant. She was previously a bookseller at Barnes & Noble.
Carlee Maurier has joined Scholastic as sales assistant, educational sales. She was previously a bookseller at Barnes & Noble.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Rea on Ray

Rachael Ray repeat: Andrew Rea, author of Binging with Babish: 100 Recipes Recreated from Your Favorite Movies and TV Shows (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $30, 9781328589897).

Late Night with Seth Meyers: Paul Yoon, author of Run Me to Earth (Simon & Schuster, $26, 9781501154041).

TV: Karen Pirie; The Lincoln Lawyer

ITV is adapting Val McDermid's Inspector Karen Pirie book series and has ordered three, two-hour drama episodes based on The Distant Echo, the first novel in the series, Deadline reported. Karen Pirie is from Harlots writer Emer Kenny and Bodyguard producer World Productions.

"From the moment I read that Karen Pirie orders a Bacardi Breezer as her after-work drink (other brands of alco-pop are available) I knew that she was the detective for me," said Kenny. "Val is the queen of crime for good reason and I'm honored to be bringing her creation to a TV audience, especially for ITV which has been home to some of my favorite detective shows, from Broadchurch to Prime Suspect. Of course, I'm delighted to be working with World Productions again, who really know their way around a crime drama."

McDermid added: "I'm sure this adaptation will bring Karen many new fans as well as delighting her existing ones. Karen and the Historic Cases Unit are in very safe hands."


Kiele Sanchez (Kingdom) has been cast as a female lead in the CBS drama The Lincoln Lawyer, based on Michael Connelly's series of bestselling novels. Deadline reported that Sanchez "is the first actor cast as the search continues for the lead role of Mickey Haller, played in the 2011 feature adaptation by Matthew McConaughey." David E. Kelley is set to write and executive produce the project.

Books & Authors

Awards: Arabic Fiction, RoNA Finalists

The shortlisted titles for the 13th International Prize for Arabic Fiction (with the author's country of origin) are:

The Spartan Court by Abdelouahab Aissaoui (Algeria)
The Russian Quarter by Khalil Alrez (Syria)
The King of India by Jabbour Douaihy (Lebanon)
Firewood of Sarajevo by Said Khatibi (Algeria)
The Tank by Alia Mamdouh (Iraq)
Fardeqan: The Detention of the Great Sheikh by Youssef Ziedan (Egypt)

Each of the shortlisted authors will receive $10,000. The winner of the $50,000 prize will be announced at a ceremony in Abu Dhabi on April 14 on the eve of the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair.


Finalists have been unveiled for the 2020 Romantic Novelists' Association Awards, which recognize excellence in the genre of romantic fiction across nine categories. Winners will be announced March 2 in London. In addition, the Outstanding Achievement Award will be presented to Milly Johnson "in recognition of her extraordinary contribution to the field of romantic fiction." See the complete RoNA shortlist here.

Reading with... Karma Brown

photo: Jenna Davis

Karma Brown is an award-winning journalist and bestselling author (The Choices We Make). Her latest novel, Recipe for a Perfect Wife, was recently published by Dutton.

On your nightstand now:

I have two: Untangled by Lisa Damour and Five Wives by Joan Thomas. Untangled is nonfiction and is about "guiding teenage girls through the seven transitions into adulthood." Since I have an 11-year-old daughter at home, my family physician wrote me a "prescription" for this book as a must-read. Five Wives is set in the Ecuadorian rain forest, and is about five women left behind in 1956, when their missionary husbands are killed--and it's based on real-life events. Ann Patchett's State of Wonder is one of my favorite books, and this has similar vibe.

Favorite book when you were a child:

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl. I was mesmerized--and still am--by the magic and creativity of that book.

Your top five authors:

It is so hard to choose! But a few authors who have written unforgettable book(s) for me are: John Irving, Ann Patchett, Lauren Groff, Stephen King and Meg Wolitzer.

Book you've faked reading:

Paradise Lost by John Milton. It was required reading in one of my university classes, and I hated every tedious minute of it (and fake-read about half).

Book you're an evangelist for:

We All Love the Beautiful Girls by Joanne Proulx. It's a haunting and evocative story about the unraveling and shattering of a family after one fateful night. It blew me away, and I tell everyone about it.

Book you've bought for the cover:

Hausfrau by Jill Alexander Essbaum (the hardcover version--gorgeous)

Book you hid from your parents:

Judy Blume's Wifey, when I was about 10 years old. I would read it at the library in the small town where I grew up while my mom shopped.

Book that changed your life:

Probably reading Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt. I was young when I read it, and had never before considered things like eternal life--and why you may, or may not, want to live forever. It was exciting and scary to imagine, and to this day that remains one of my most memorable books.

Favorite line from a book:

For me, this line from Katherine Applegate's The One and Only Ivan, is perfection: "I like colorful tales with black beginnings and stormy middles and cloudless blue-sky endings. But any story will do." Perfection.

Five books you'll never part with:

Any of my Lauren Groff books; my childhood copy of Richard Scarry's Best Storybook Ever; A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving that I hid a four-leaf clover inside; my dedicated copy of Taylor Jenkins Reid's Daisy Jones & The Six; a copy of Richard Wagamese's Embers, which my mom gifted to me and is the most beautiful, heart-filled book.

Book you most want to read again for the first time:

The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger. That book broke my heart, but regardless, I would read it again and again.

Book Review

Children's Review: Rita and Ralph's Rotten Day

Rita and Ralph's Rotten Day by Carmen Agra Deedy, illus. by Pete Oswald (Scholastic Press, $17.99 hardcover, 48p., ages 4-8, 9781338216387, March 3, 2020)

Saying sorry can be difficult, but it's worth every awkward, teeth-gritting effort, as two friends discover in Carmen Agra Deedy and Pete Oswald's gratifying, on-point picture book. Rita and Ralph's Rotten Day is a terrific read-aloud, especially when accompanied by the gestures of the children's hand game Mr. Wiggle and Mr. Waggle (instructions included), which inspired the author in the writing of the book.

Every day, best friends Rita and Ralph travel "down the hill, and up the hill, and down the hill, and up the hill" to meet under the apple tree between their houses. It's all zombie tag and daisy chains, until one fateful day when an ill-conceived game of Sticks and Stones results in a head bump. "This was bad. Really bad. So they ran away...." Rita is mad. Ralph is sorry he hurt Rita. He wants to apologize. But by the time he makes the long, tiring walk to Rita's house ("down the hill, and up the hill, and..."), he's a "smidge grumpy" and somehow his apology doesn't quite come across as genuine. And when Rita walks to Ralph's house ("down the hill..."), feeling sorry about her response, she can't manage an apology either. It's not until the rotten day ends and a new day dawns that the friends figure out how to come together in peace again: "Because best friends always find a way... to meet in the middle."

Rita and Ralph's tiff, told with a sweet freshness, is a timeless, engaging tale with which any young reader is likely to identify. Their friendship is the real thing, evidenced by their joy in meeting each day. Oswald's gouache and digital rendering of the pals depicts them joyously airborne as they high-five, and the landscape format of the book shows the distances to which they'll go to spend time together. The travel between their houses is particularly fun, with the repeating text mimicking the hilly landscape, a dotted line leading from Rita's cozy-looking bungalow and Ralph's charming pink house to the apple tree. (Watch for Ralph's roving cat and Rita's playful pooch, who keep showing up in unexpected places.)

Cuban-born Deedy is the author of 14 Cows for America, The Rooster Who Would Not Be Quiet! and the Pura Belpré-honored Martina the Beautiful Cockroach, among many other much-loved books. Fine-arts painter, animator, author and illustrator Oswald's previous works include The Bad Seed and The Good Egg (both by Jory John). Rita and Ralph's Rotten Day is their first team effort. We hope it's not their last. --Emilie Coulter, freelance writer and editor

Shelf Talker: Best friends learn that asking for--and accepting--forgiveness is an up-and-down process in this delightful picture book inspired by the children's hand game Mr. Wiggle and Mr. Waggle.

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