Shelf Awareness for Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Chronicle Books: Stella & Marigold by Annie Barrows, Illustrated by Sophie Blackall

Poisoned Pen Press: The Boyfriend by Frieda McFadden

St. Martin's Press: Disney High: The Untold Story of the Rise and Fall of Disney Channel's Tween Empire

Running Press Adult: Scam Goddess: Lessons from a Life of Cons, Grifts, and Schemes by Laci Mosley

Graphix: 39 Clues: One False Note (39 Clues Graphic Novel #2) by Gordon Korman, Illustrated by Hannah Templer


Arkansas's Nightbird Books Closing

Nightbird Books, Fayetteville, Ark., which opened in 2006, is closing on February 29, the store announced on Facebook. On its last day, 1-4 p.m., Nightbird will host "a chance for a final goodbye to our customers and former booksellers."

Founder and owner Lisa Sharp said, in part, "I've loved every minute of owning a bookstore in this community and I hope we have contributed something to you as well... Again, thank you for all the support, kindness, and love over the last 14 years. It has been much appreciated."

KNWA noted that the store had to move in 2014 within its building to "a smaller area tucked behind the clothing store" that had opened in the bookstore's original space.

Fayetteville is home to the University of Arkansas.

Peachtree: The Littlest Yak: Home Is Where the Herd Is by Lu Fraser, Illustrated by Kate Hindley

Bookstore Sales Down 7.6% in December, 5.7% for 2019

In December, bookstore sales fell 7.6%, to $1.174 billion, according to preliminary estimates from the Census Bureau. For the full year, bookstore sales fell 5.7%, to $9.999 billion.

By comparison, independent bookstores have done better than the Census Bureau average, which includes a range of retailers that sell books. Through December 18, sales at ABA member stores, as reported to the weekly bestseller lists, were down 0.03% compared to the same period in 2018. Compound annual growth among ABA member stores is 7.5% during the past five years.

Total retail sales in December rose 5.7%, to $595.5 billion. For the full year, total retail sales rose 3.6%, to $6.2 trillion.

The drop in bookstore sales last year was partly attributable to the lack of major trade titles with the strength of Michelle Obama's Becoming. In 2018, bookstore sales jumped 9.2% in December and sales for the full year rose 1.7%.

Note: under Census Bureau definitions, the bookstore category consists of "establishments primarily engaged in retailing new books."

Today: Frontline's Amazon Empire; On Point's Indie Bookstores

Tonight PBS Frontline airs the two-hour documentary Amazon Empire: The Rise and Reign of Jeff Bezos. As the show puts it: "Jeff Bezos is not only one of the richest men in the world, he has built a business empire that is without precedent in the history of American capitalism. His power to shape everything from the future of work to the future of commerce to the future of technology is unrivaled. As politicians and regulators around the world start to consider the global impact of Amazon--and how to rein in Bezos' power--Frontline investigates how he executed a plan to build one of the most influential economic and cultural forces in the world."

Strikingly, a review in the Washington Post, owned by Bezos, called the documentary "well-reported, rather alarming," adding that it "smartly and effectively builds toward a disturbing conclusion--that Amazon is in sore need of some corrective regulation from a government that seems, at best, indifferent to intervening and, at worst, submissively technocratic."

The Post noted that in talking with a range of former employees, "From the corporate level down to a handful of warehouse employees who gave up trying to outpace the algorithm that compelled them to work harder and faster, those who no longer work for Amazon offer plenty to worry about, anecdotally, when it comes to the company's zealous fixation on the customer and its tendency to work around legal or ethical obstacles.

"As with most symptoms of monopoly, sheer size is the issue. A mere announcement from the company can seismically disrupt whole business sectors.

Our favorite quote is from New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who made this comment after Amazon decided not to open part of its HQ2 in the city, when there were objections about wages, labor rights and grants and tax breaks. "In what world are there no critics?" he said. "Well, yeah, in an autocratic, totalitarian world maybe they're not allowed--and maybe that's the world Jeff Bezos, somewhere in his mind, thinks he is entitled to."

One Post criticism: "What Amazon Empire lacks (besides an interview with and direct responses from Bezos himself) is a wider reflection on the consumer's complicity in all this. Are we really so tech-besotted that anything goes? No one forced us to hand over all our personal data and install Amazon's listening devices or surveillance cameras in our homes--we just did, because we, too, want the future to be cool. We rationalize our immediate need for its delivered products against environmental impact or any other effect, be it physical or psychological."

While Bezos hasn't commented on Amazon Empire, in his tradition of making a big distracting announcement as criticism of Amazon has grown, he said yesterday that through the newly created Bezos Earth Fund, he will give $10 billion in grants to scientists, activists and nongovernmental organizations to fight climate change--an issue that a vocal group of Amazon employees has wanted Amazon and Bezos to do more about.


And today at 11 a.m., WBUR's On Point airs "Indie Bookstores, Once on the Verge of Disappearing, Are Making a Comeback." The show features Ryan Raffaelli, assistant professor of business administration at Harvard Business School, who has been studying indie bookstores and gave a keynote at Winter Institute last month, and Jamie Fiocco, president of the American Booksellers Association and owner and general manager of Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill, N.C.

BookExpo: Children's Book & Author Breakfast Lineup

The lineup for BookExpo's Children's Book & Author Breakfast, scheduled for Friday, May 29, has been announced. Author Judy Blume will host the breakfast, where she'll moderate the discussion and celebrate the 50th anniversary of Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret with a look at how the novel influenced her own life and those of generations of young readers.

Joining Blume will be Misty Copeland, the first African American female principal dancer at the American Ballet Theater, who will discuss her Bunheads picture book series; award-winning actress, director, producer and activist Natalie Portman, who will introduce Natalie Portman's Fables, which retells three classic fairy tales; Raj Haldar (stage name Lushlife), author of P Is for Pterodacytl, who will talk about his upcoming book No Reading Allowed, which teaches children about homophones, homonyms and tricky punctuation; Marie Lu, author of the Legend series, who will introduce her new dystopian novel Skyhunter; and Kwame Mbalia, who will present Strong Destroys the World, the second volume in the trilogy that started with his bestselling Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky.

"The Children's Book & Author Breakfast showcases the diversity of genres, book types, authors and publishers within the world of children's and young adult literature," said Jennifer Martin, event director of BookExpo. "We're extraordinarily thrilled to have such a varied group of authors who will bring such unique and different perspectives to our show. We know all our attendees will walk away with valuable insights about how these books, and ones like them, can help their own bookstores, libraries and retail shops."

The lineup for BookExpo's Adult Book & Author Breakfast was announced last week.

Obituary Note: A.E. Hotchner

A.E. Hotchner

A.E. Hotchner, a "well-traveled author, playwright and gadabout whose street smarts and famous pals led to a loving, but litigated memoir of Ernest Hemingway, business adventures with Paul Newman and a book about his Depression-era childhood that became a Steven Soderbergh film," died February 15, the Associated Press reported. He was 102. Hotchner "read, wrote and hustled himself out of poverty and went on to publish more than a dozen books, befriend countless celebrities and see his play, The White House, performed at the real White House for President Bill Clinton."

In his 90s, Hotchner wrote a book of essays about aging, O.J. in the Morning, G&T at Night; and at 100, he published a detective novel, The Amazing Adventures of Aaron Broom. At 101, he adapted Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea for the stage. His other books include King of the Hill (1972), adapted 20 years later into the Soderbergh film; The Day I Fired Alan Ladd, and Other World War II Adventures (2002); and The Man Who Lived at the Ritz (1981).

After World War II, Hotchner became an editor at Cosmopolitan, and eventually "lucked his way into literary history" when the magazine sent him to Cuba to track down Hemingway, who Cosmo wanted to write an article about the "Future of Literature." The assignment "began a friendship that lasted until Hemingway's suicide, in 1961," the AP noted, adding: "From Spain to Idaho, they hunted, drank and attended bullfights. They lived through Hemingway's inspiring highs and fatal lows," later chronicled in Hotchner's best known book, Papa Hemingway (1966), which has been translated into more than 25 languages.

Hotchner often served as Hemingway's agent, helping to edit The Dangerous Summer and coming up with the title for the posthumous release of A Moveable Feast. His TV adaptation of Hemingway's story "The Battler" led to a fortuitous meeting with Newman, the production's star, after which the two "became friends, pranksters, fishing buddies, neighbors and business partners," the Times wrote.

Newman would later approach Hotchner to help out with an idea to sell homemade salad dressing at some local shops. "That was just a joke," Hotchner told the AP in 2005. "It was something on the fly. 'Let's put up $40,000 and we'll be businessmen.' " The rest is history. After Newman's death, Hotchner wrote Paul and Me.

G.L.O.W. - Galley Love of the Week
Be the first to have an advance copy!
Seriously HAPPY:
10 life-changing philosophy lessons from Stoicism to Zen to supercharge your mindset
by Ben Aldridge
illus. by Michelle Brackenborough
GLOW: Holler: Seriously HAPPY: 10 Life-Changing Philosophy Lessons from Stoicism to Zen to Supercharge Your Mindset by Ben Aldridge

Mental health matters are unpacked through philosophy and quirky challenges in Ben Aldridge's uplifting first YA title, Seriously HAPPY, which mixes personal stories and synopses of teachings from OG philosophers. Alongside Aristotle and Socrates, Aldridge includes insights from lesser-known great minds like Bao Gu, a female Chinese Taoist physician, and Nigerian philosopher Orunmila, to show readers how to be confident, decisive, and resilient. Aldridge personally "employed Stoicism and other philosophies as key strategies in overcoming severe and debilitating anxiety and panic attacks as a young man," says Holler publisher Debbie Foy, adding that Aldridge's conversational tone makes the subject matter accessible and inviting to a young adult audience. "He is clear that everyone deserves happiness in their lives but what constitutes 'happiness' is different for all of us." --Rachel Werner

(Holler, $12.99 Hardcover, ages 12-up, 9780711297807, 
September 3, 2024)


Shelf vetted, publisher supported


Image of the Day: Thomas Cook at Prairie Lights

Prairie Lights Bookstore, Iowa City, Iowa, hosted author Thomas Cook for a reading from Clubfoot: The Quest for a Better Life for Millions of Children (Ice Cube Press). Pictured: Cook (l.) with publisher Steve Semken and Prairie Lights events coordinator Kathleen Johnson.

Odyssey Bookshop 'Defies the Odds'

From the big-box stores of the late 1990s to the rise of Amazon in the 2000s, Odyssey Bookshop in South Hadley, Mass., has defied the odds and weathered the many storms that have threatened independent bookstores during that time, MassLive wrote.

Joan Grenier, Odyssey Bookshop's owner, told MassLive that while she's "gone through some very difficult times when we almost went out of business," she's managed to stay afloat through a combination of community support, events and a carefully curated inventory. The bookstore now has an events calendar that includes more than 125 events per year, a Signed First Edition Club with more than 265 paying members and a variety of other book groups.

Grenier also attributed her success to the fact that independent booksellers are "a collegial group of people who help each other out as much as possible," and she said she learned a lot about the business by simply picking up the phone and calling booksellers around the country.

Looking ahead, Grenier said she was optimistic about the future of not only her own store, which is having a good year and was up in 2019, but bookselling as a whole. She said: "There is a new generation of booksellers who want to make this a career, and that is exciting to me."

Chalkboard: Burke's Book Store

Burke's Book Store, Memphis, Tenn., shared a photo of its latest chalkboard art creation, featuring a pair of feline readers hungrily poring over a copy of Trout Fishing in America.

Personnel Changes at Simon & Schuster

At the Simon & Schuster indie team:

Megan Manning has been promoted to telesales account manager, covering the Pacific Northwest. She joined S&S in 2018 as sales assistant.

Ruby Smith is joining the team as sales assistant, effective February 24. She is a bookseller at Three Lives & Company in New York City and has previously held positions at Felony & Mayhem Press as a marketing assistant and at the Paris Review as a reader.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Matthew Cherry on the Real

CBS This Morning: Gordon Corera, author of Russians Among Us: Sleeper Cells, Ghost Stories, and the Hunt for Putin's Spies (Morrow, $32.50, 9780062889416).

Also on CBS This Morning: Susan Fowler, author of Whistleblower: My Journey to Silicon Valley and Fight for Justice at Uber (Viking, $28, 9780525560128).

Tamron Hall: Dan Peres, author of As Needed for Pain: A Memoir of Addiction (Harper, $28.99, 9780062693464).

The Real: Matthew Cherry, author of Hair Love (Kokila/Penguin, $17.99, 9780525553366).

Good Morning America: Tomi Adeyemi, author of Children of Virtue and Vengeance (Holt, $19.99, 9781250170996).

Also on GMA: Jason Reynolds, author of Look Both Ways: A Tale Told in Ten Blocks (Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy, $7.99, 9781481438285).

Movies: All Quiet on the Western Front

Edward Berger (Patrick Melrose, Jack, Deutschland '83) will direct a film adaptation of Erich Maria Remarque's classic novel All Quiet on the Western Front. Variety reported that Rocket Science and Amusement Park have acquired the rights to the book and Daniel Bruehl will be part of the ensemble cast as well as executive produce. Rocket Science is handling worldwide sales.

"It is a physical, visceral and very modern film that has never been told from my country's perspective, it has never been made into a German-language film," Berger said. "We now have the chance to make an anti-war film that will truly touch our audience."

The film will be produced by Malte Grunert (The Aftermath, Land of Mine, A Most Wanted Man) of Amusement Park, and Daniel Dreifuss (Sergio, No). Grunert said that All Quiet on the Western Front, which was previously adapted into the 1930 film, "to this day is indeed the definitive novel about war and the utter senselessness of it. War knows no heroes. One hundred years after its publication All Quiet on the Western Front has retained all its impact and power. In the hands of Edward, it will be a very meaningful and contemporary take on the story, a powerful film and an impressive cinematic experience."

Books & Authors

Awards: PROSE Finalists

The Association of American Publishers has unveiled finalists for the 2020 Professional and Scholarly Excellence (PROSE) Awards honoring scholarly works published in 2019. To see the 157 finalists across 49 subject categories, click here.

The subject category winners will compete for five awards--excellence in biological and life sciences, humanities, physical sciences and mathematics, reference works, and social sciences. The winners of those awards will compete for the top prize of the PROSE awards, the R.R. Hawkins Award.

Book Review

Review: The Power Worshippers: Inside the Dangerous Rise of Religious Nationalism

The Power Worshippers: Inside the Dangerous Rise of Religious Nationalism by Katherine Stewart (Bloomsbury, $28 hardcover, 352p., 9781635573435, March 3, 2020)

In December 2019, the venerable evangelical publication Christianity Today caused a furor with an editorial denouncing the "grossly immoral character" of President Donald Trump and calling for his removal from office. The break was noteworthy because of the critical, if not decisive, support evangelical Christians provided Trump in the 2016 election.

But as journalist Katherine Stewart makes clear in The Power Worshippers: Inside the Dangerous Rise of Religious Nationalism, that enthusiasm had little to do with personal affection for Donald Trump or a favorable judgment of his character. Instead, the project of what she calls "Christian nationalism" is to "replace our foundational democratic principles and institutions with a state grounded on a particular version of Christianity," one that "also happens to serve the interests of its plutocratic funders and allied political leaders." Whether it's appointing judges who share this ideology on issues like abortion or the separation of church and state, or promoting the efforts of Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos to dismantle the American public school system, Trump plays an essential, but far from leading, role.

Stewart has visited a slice of this territory before in her book The Good News Club: The Christian Right's Stealth Assault on America's Children. The Power Worshippers is a more comprehensive, if still compact, journey through the labyrinth of interlocking organizations and personalities that form the ecosystem of a movement that embraces "identity-based authoritarian rule over pluralistic, democratic processes," and seeks to transform the U.S. to serve that vision. Some of the principal actors in this effort, among them Tony Perkins, the media-savvy president of the Family Research Council, may be well-known to even casual observers of the Christian Right's activities. Others, like Bill Dallas, a convicted embezzler who helped found the organization United in Purpose that's engaged in a massive data mining project to boost evangelical voter turnout, almost certainly are not.

Stewart also meticulously details the efforts of writers influenced by the "Christian Reconstructionist" works of R.J. Rushdoony to revise American history to create a false narrative of the country's founding as a Christian nation. And though the subject has been treated in greater depth in books like Jane Mayer's Dark Money and Nancy Maclean's Democracy in Chains, Stewart doesn't omit the crucial role of wealthy economic libertarians, including the Koch brothers and the Mercer family, whose generous funding fuels the engine of this movement.

Striving to end The Power Worshippers on an upbeat note, Stewart argues that Americans opposed to the establishment of a Christian theocracy "just need to reclaim the genuine religious freedom that our founders established and that most of our citizens cherish." But as she leaves no doubt in her disturbing book, it's a battle that will be fought against well-financed, determined and formidable opposition, and one whose outcome is far from certain. --Harvey Freedenberg, freelance reviewer

Shelf Talker: A journalist who has spent a decade covering the activities of the Christian Right painstakingly exposes the movement's effort to undermine the United States' pluralistic democracy.

The Bestsellers

Top-Selling Self-Published Titles

The bestselling self-published books last week as compiled by

1. Irresistible by R.L. Mathewson
2. Australia: A Romance Anthology by Various
3. Long Lost (Masters and Mercenaries: The Forgotten Book 4) by Lexi Blake
4. Can't Hurt Me by David Goggins
5. Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert T. Kiyosaki with Sharon L. Lechter
6. The Imposter's Inheritance (Glass and Steele Book 9) by C.J. Archer
7. Inappropriate by Vi Keeland
8. You're the One by Layla Hagen
9. Age of Deception (The Firebird Chronicles Book 2) by T.A. White
10. The Dare by Lauren Landish

[Many thanks to!]

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