Shelf Awareness for Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Disney Hyperion: Our Shouts Echo by Jade Adia

Groundwood Books: Who We Are in Real Life by Victoria Koops

St. Martin's Press: Cabinet of Curiosities: A Historical Tour of the Unbelievable, the Unsettling, and the Bizarre by Aaron Mahnke, With Harry Marks

Agate Bolden: 54 Miles by Leonard Pitts Jr.

Berkley Books: Books that will sweep you off your feet! Enter Giveaway!

Feiwel & Friends: The Flicker by HE Edgmon


London Book Fair: More Cancellations, but Show Will Go On

The show will go on.

In its "action plan" to fight the spread of the coronavirus, the U.K. government has chosen not to ban large gatherings, as has been done in France, Italy and other countries. As a result, London Book Fair organizers are still planning to hold the event next week. LBF director Jacks Thomas told the Bookseller that if the government's position changes, "we will, too," adding that "these are unprecedented, uncharted waters. It's a very fluid situation and you are trying to balance absolutely everything." She said that on one hand, "34 international pavilions... are planning on being here," but acknowleged a range of cancellations and that some members of the LBF advisory board want Reed Exhibitions to cancel the show.

The most recent of the cancellations include all of Hachette Livre, even Hachette UK, Canongate and more U.S. publishers. Several agents reported "heavy numbers of cancellations," the Bookseller wrote, first from East Asia, Italy and the U.S., but now also from European countries. In related news, the Leipzig Book Fair, which was scheduled for March 12-15, has been cancelled.

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New NYC Bookstore Opens in Players Theatre

Bravo's Book Nook, a new bookstore focused on theatre, music, children's books, and Greenwich Village history, has opened in the Players Theatre in the Village, in New York City. The bookstore is in the theater's lobby and has regular hours of Mon.-Sat., 12-7 p.m., and Sun., 10 a.m.-5 p.m. It will host author events in its Off-Broadway theater spaces.

Founded by Michael Sgouros of the Players Theatre and Brenda Bell of Literally Alive Theatre, the bookstore has hired Jory Southurst as manager. Southurst had worked at Book Culture on Columbus the past three years and became general manager last year, a position he held until the store closed in January.

Bravo's Book Nook stocks some 1,000 new and used books; Southurst said he hopes to triple that number during the next few months.

The Players Theatre is at 115 MacDougal Street and includes two theaters, four rehearsal studios, an office suite for arts organizations and Café Wha?.

Papercuts JP Up and Running in New Space

Papercuts JP in Jamaica Plain, Mass., has officially opened in a new, larger space, WBUR reported.

The bookstore moved from a roughly 400-square-foot space to one that is nearly three times as large. Located about a quarter of a mile away from its original home, the store's new space is ADA accessible, has plenty of windows and natural light, and is equipped with solar panels.

Owner Kate Layte plans to make use of the additional space by expanding every section of her inventory, especially children's, and increasing event offerings. She hopes to start a drag queen story hour, a book club and to begin hosting events with local community organizations.

"I want to do all sorts of fun things to engage the community and to really make this a space where we can discover books, read them, share ideas and all that good stuff that bookstores can bring," Layte told WBUR. "This is a community that loves to read and loves books."

The bookstore's new space previously belonged to a hair salon, and Layte has kept some of the head mannequins on the shelves, as well as two salon chairs, which are located in the children's section.

During the store's first two weeks in the new space, Layte added, Papercuts' sales were already up compared to the same time last year.

Paducah Books Facing Closure

Paducah Books in Paducah, Ky., will likely close this summer, the Paducah Sun reported.

Last month, store owner Chris Armstrong announced on social media that he'll be closing the store later this year unless he can find a buyer. He told the Sun that since the store opened in August 2016, it has "never really made money," though for much of its run it at least "paid for itself." But over the past six months or so, he continued, "sales just went off a cliff pretty much."

Paducah Vinyl, a pop-up record shop that operates out of Armstrong's space, will also be closing. Armstrong plans to keep the store open through the spring in hopes of finding a buyer. If that search is unsuccessful, he'll close in the summer.

"I do think that Paducah can still support an independent bookstore and that's why I opened it," Armstrong said. "I'm hoping we can sell the business so that we can keep a bookstore in Paducah."

Steve Rubin Joining S&S as Consulting Publisher

Steve Rubin, who stepped down earlier this year as chairman of Henry Holt, is joining Simon & Schuster as a consulting publisher, acquiring fiction and nonfiction all of the adult publishing imprints at S&S.

Rubin joined Bantam Books in 1984 after a career in journalism and as a freelance culture writer and editor. In 1990, he was named president and publisher of Doubleday, where he remained until 2009, interrupted by a three-year stint in London as chairman of Transworld Publishers. In 2009, he became president and publisher of Holt.

Among authors he has published are Rick Atkinson, Margaret Atwood, Paul Auster, Dan Brown, Tina Brown, Sebastian Faulks, John Grisham, Ian McEwan, Hilary Mantel, Bill O'Reilly, and Michael Wolff.

Jonathan Karp, president and publisher of adult publishing at S&S, to whom Rubin will report, commented: "Steve has an extraordinary eye for talent and keen judgment as a publisher on both sides of the Atlantic. He'll be a valuable adviser and a rainmaker. If anyone can produce a literary monsoon, it's Steve."

Rubin said, "Jon and I have had a mutual admiration society since we met more than two decades ago. The opportunity to discover and champion notable authors, the great joy of my career, and publish them with Simon & Schuster is a dream come true. The amazing breadth and depth of the company's publishing programs, fiction and nonfiction, is mouthwatering for an acquisitive person like myself."

Staff Changes at Porchlight Book Company

Sally Haldorson

Sally Haldorson, a 21-year veteran of Porchlight Book Company, formerly 800-CEO-READ, has been named managing director. In this new position, Haldorson will continue to focus on the daily management of the organization, including staffing and workplace culture, and will expand her duties to encompass organizational strategy and leadership development. She will continue to report to owner, president & CEO Rebecca Schwartz.

Ryan Schleicher, previously special sales director, has been promoted to the newly created position of operations director, facilitating the integration of the sales, customer service, custom projects and warehouse departments. After first joining the company in 1999, Schleicher has served the company periodically over 20 years in many roles, beginning as a bookseller at the Harry W. Schwartz bookshops and later launching the company's corporate sales program and inBubbleWrap marketing initiative. After serving as marketing and promotions director at a local public radio station, he returned to the company to focus on Porchlight's corporate client relationships and special sales.

Additionally, Emily Porter is moving from customer service into the sales department as a sales specialist. Andrew Koenig is moving from sales to custom projects. Porchlight is also welcoming two new hires: Terry Tayler as custom projects coordinator and Dan Brouchard as customer service specialist.


Image of the Day: How to Be a Pirate

Books Are Magic in Brooklyn, N.Y., hosted Isaac Fitzgerald and illustrator Brigette Barrager for the launch of their picture book, How to Be a Pirate (Bloomsbury). Fitzgerald is known for his adult books; this is his debut children's title.

Sales & Marketing Tribute to Sonny Mehta

John Hughes and Carl Lennertz are hosting a sales & marketing tribute to the late Sonny Mehta on Wednesday, March 18, at 6 p.m. at a pub in Midtown Manhattan. Anyone interesting in joining them should RSVP to John or Carl. When they settle on a location, they will let attendees know.

Cool Idea of the Day: Golden Notebook Sale Supports LGBTQ Community Center

Customers lined up to pet store dog Delta during Golden Notebook's sale.

The Golden Notebook bookstore in Woodstock, N.Y., held a sale on Saturday, February 29, benefiting the Hudson Valley LGBTQ Community Center. The store donated 20% of the day's sales to the community center and, according to store co-owner James Conrad the Golden Notebook saw a 30%-50% increase in business for the day.

The idea for the sale, Conrad explained, came during the holidays, when he and his colleagues were discussing whether store sales actually worked for independent bookstores. A publisher happened to browsing the store at the time and overheard, before mentioning that indies do better with sales when a percentage is donated to a cause.

"And our Saturday sale definitely proved that to be true, with people coming from far away or calling in orders just to be a part of donating to the LGBTQ Center," Conrad said.

Looking ahead, the Golden Notebook plans to hold two of these kinds of sales each year and raise money for a different community organization or charity each time. While the details haven't been worked out yet, Conrad expects this year's fall sale to benefit an organization related to voting rights or other issues tied to the election.

Winter Sidewalk Chalkboard: the river's end bookstore

"Says it all," the river's end bookstore, Oswego, N.Y., posted on Facebook recently, along with photos of its sidewalk chalkboard, which featured on one side a re-creation of the cover from Cold Snap by Eileen Spinelli, illustrated by Marjorie Priceman; and on the other some sage winter advice: "Warm up with a good book!"

Personnel Changes at Scholastic; Grand Central

At Scholastic Trade Publishing:

Savannah D'Amico has returned to Scholastic as national account manager, Barnes & Noble. She was most recently children's field and educational sales manager at Hachette.

Betsy Politi has been promoted to national accounts manager, proprietary projects. She was previously national accounts manager.

Victoria Velez has joined Scholastic as marketing & publicity assistant. She was previously a publicity intern at Wunderkind PR.


At Grand Central Publishing:

Kamrun Nesa has been promoted to publicist.

Alli Rosenthal has been promoted to associate publicist.
Tiffany (Sanchez) Porcelli has been promoted to marketing manager.

Alana Spendley has been promoted to marketing associate.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Roman Dial on Fresh Air

Fresh Air: Roman Dial, author of The Adventurer's Son: A Memoir (Morrow, $28.99, 9780062876607).

Good Morning America: Rocco DiSpirito, author of Rocco's Keto Comfort Food Diet: Eat the Foods You Miss and Still Lose Up to a Pound a Day (Rodale Books, $27.99, 9781984825216).

Daily Show: Judith Heumann, co-author of Being Heumann: An Unrepentant Memoir of a Disability Rights Activist (Beacon Press, $25.95, 9780807019290).

Movies: Artemis Fowl

A new trailer has been released for Artemis Fowl, based on the bestselling books by Eoin Colfer. Entertainment Weekly reported that the film "follows the 12-year-old boy genius, Artemis Fowl (Ferdia Shaw), as he finds himself in a war against a hidden world of fairies while on a search for his missing father."

Directed by Kenneth Branagh, the movie's cast includes Colin Farrell as Artemis Fowl Sr., Judi Dench (Commander Root), Tamara Smart, Josh McGuire, Nikesh Patel, Adrian Scarborough, Nonso Anozie, Lara McDonnell and Josh Gad. Artemis Fowl is scheduled to hit theaters May 29.

Books & Authors

Awards: Audie Winners; Rathbones Folio Finalists

The winners of the Audie Awards, sponsored by the Audio Publishers Association, were announced last night at the APA's 25th annual Audies Gala. The Audiobook of the Year was The Only Plane in the Sky: An Oral History of 9/11 by Garrett M. Graff, narrated by a 45-person cast with Holter Graham (Simon & Schuster Audio). See winners and finalists in all 24 categories here. Shelf Awareness will have more on the Audie winners next week.


Finalists have been named for the £30,000 (about $39,170) Rathbones Folio Prize, which "is borderless and open to all genres... which means it reflects a greater diversity and variety of voices present in our literary culture and society as a whole." The winner will be announced March 23 in London. This year's list features an American, Iranian-American, Irish and Mexican authors, along with four British writers; and includes three novels and three works of nonfiction as well as a poetry and a short story collection. The shortlisted titles are:

Guest House for Young Widows by Azadeh Moaveni
The Topeka School by Ben Lerner
Vertigo & Ghost by Fiona Benson
Victory by James Lasdun
On Chapel Sands by Laura Cumming
Constellations by Sinead Gleeson
Lost Children Archive by Valeria Luiselli
Grand Union by Zadie Smith

Book Review

Review: The Other Madisons: The Lost History of a President's Black Family

The Other Madisons: The Lost History of a President's Black Family by Bettye Kearse (Houghton Mifflin, $28 hardcover, 272p., 9781328604392, March 24, 2020)

Bettye Kearse grew up hearing a line of advice that had been handed down in her family through generations: "Always remember--you're a Madison. You come from African slaves and a president." In The Other Madisons: The Lost History of a President's Black Family, she works to explore this statement and its implications for her life.

West African griots (masculine) and griottes (feminine) have, for many centuries, been caretakers of the oral traditions of their families and communities. It is a role that is passed down and serves an important function in, for example, enslaved families, where literacy was illegal and "even their pockets were not their own." Bettye's mother was the seventh griotte in her family, tracing back to a girl who was kidnapped from what is now Ghana and renamed Mandy on the shore of Virginia, where she would be treated as a possession of James Madison, Sr., and bear him a daughter. As this book opens, Bettye's mother delivers to her the box of records and memorabilia that generations of "Other Madisons" have compiled. This spurs the author on her own path to become a griotte, to retell the story of her family.

The Other Madisons includes a family tree documenting Kearse's links back to Mandy and to the Maddisons (with two Ds), then Madison, Sr., whose son James Madison, Jr. would be a U.S. president. Her family has long felt proud of the Madison name, but for Kearse, the connection is a reminder of rape.

Kearse's research, and that of the griots who came before her, is impressive. In search of deep truths, she travels from her home in Boston to Ghana, Nigeria, Portugal, New York City and Madison's plantation in Virginia, walking in her ancestors' footprints and grasping ever more deeply the magnitude of the tragedy of slavery. While there is surprisingly solid evidence (slave records being notoriously poor) to support much of the lineage back to Mandy, Kearse is unable to prove a genetic link to James Madison. She accepts this, but it doesn't change her sense of the relationship. For a family that relies on the griotte's oral history to know its own past, the oral history's confirmation of the Madison connection is enough.

The Other Madisons, as a thorough history of one family, may offer answers for other descendants of enslaved people as well. It is part personal quest, as Kearse works to understand and reconcile her own origins, and a carefully researched and documented correction to the American historical record. --Julia Kastner, librarian and blogger at pagesofjulia

Shelf Talker: A descendant of enslaved Africans and a president tells her family's story with pain and dignity.

Deeper Understanding

Bookstore Vagabond Visits Loyalty Bookstores

The following is the latest report from Anna Thorn, the veteran bookseller who, as Bookstore Vagabond, is currently touring indie bookstores across the country, interviewing owners, buyers, booksellers and customers about their experiences and successes. Read more about Bookstore Vagabond and indie bookstores in all their variety here.

Hannah Oliver Depp

The bookstore scene in Washington, D.C., has gone through a renaissance over the past five years. This has included the arrival of East City Bookshop, Mahogany Books, Solid State Books, Lost City Books, (new owners for) Capitol Hill Books and our newest addition, Loyalty Bookstores in Petworth in the District and Silver Spring, Md. I sat down with the owner of Loyalty, Hannah Oliver Depp, at Petworth Citizen, next door to Loyalty One in Petworth. Over a glass of wine, we talked about starting two bookstores in one year, how to create safe spaces, romance novels and, of course, Loyalty.

Both the Petworth and Silver Spring locations are cozy neighborhood stores. They're made cozier with vintage furniture, tablecloths, lamps and plenty of shelf talkers. They have display tables piled high with timely titles--indie fiction, cultural and feminist studies, progressive political books. It's a selection tailor-made for the engaged, thoughtful citizen. The Petworth store, which opened two years ago this month, recently moved in with Willow, a gift shop down the street. The stores share a similar aesthetic and carefully curated vibe, and both owners are pleased with the pairing so far. The larger Silver Spring location, which opened in October 2019, has just undergone a minor makeover to enlarge its kids' section and to make room for more titles.

Indie bookstores are always personal, but to me Hannah seems especially present in her stores, perhaps because we've known each other since our first days in bookselling. I watched her become a career bookseller at Politics and Prose and then at WORD Bookstores in Brooklyn, N.Y., and Jersey City, N.J. I saw her dedicate herself to the industry--and once Hannah dedicates herself to something, she is all in. Hence Loyalty.

The name of the store has a host of meanings for Hannah. In the first place, she says, it's simply "a lovely word that rolls off your tongue" and a "pretty word aesthetically." It's a declaration of loyalty to the written word, "to an ideal that is not fiscally the smartest thing." It's an homage to C.S. Lewis, one of her formative authors. "Also, my favorite song is "Loyalty" by Kendrick Lamar. So if you combine that and C.S. Lewis, I feel like that's a pretty good summary of who I am," she  says with a laugh.

But Hannah expresses Loyalty's primary significance in one sentence: "It is my single guiding principle forever and always."

It is the guiding principle of the stores as well. They're spaces that exist to be loyal to the communities they serve. The bookstores' communities are, naturally, their neighborhoods, but also less tangible communities, such as diverse and marginalized groups, the romance community (which she calls one of "the most welcoming, supportive and responsive"), and the amazing booksellers who work in the stores. When I ask her about her favorite part of her job, she tells me that it's creating a safe space. "We mess up a lot, every day," she reflects, "but if the net is that someone feels safe to work for me, then I did my job."

Hannah wants to spread this ethos. From the beginning, she has conceived of Loyalty Bookstores in terms of many of individual creations, each tailored to its location. "I love the idea of going from town to town and partnering with people from each town and making something special." Since she first started planning and plotting the stores, she's "had the fantasy of being the type of owner who would build something and then turn it over to somebody else." She's off to a running start with these first two creations, which she seems to have forged through sheer force of will (and a superhuman amount of work).

We finished the last of our wine and wrapped up our conversation around 10 p.m. In classic bookstore-owner fashion, Hannah stretched and told me, "Well, now I have to go place a bunch of orders." That's dedication.

The Bestsellers

Top-Selling Self-Published Titles

The bestselling self-published books last week as compiled by

1. Dominik by Sawyer Bennett
2. Perfect Chaos by Jodi Ellen Malpas
3. Inappropriate by Vi Keeland
4. Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert T. Kiyosaki with Sharon L. Lechter
5. A Woman of True Honor (True Gentlemen Book 8) by Grace Burrowes
6. Can't Hurt Me by David Goggins
7. Wild at Heart by K.A. Tucker
8. Just One Year by Penelope Ward
9. Emotional Intelligence 2.0 by Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves
10. Hold You Close by Corinne Michaels and Melanie Harlow

[Many thanks to!]

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