Shelf Awareness for Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Mariner Books: Everyone This Christmas Has a Secret: A Festive Mystery by Benjamin Stevenson

Grove Press: Brightly Shining by Ingvild Rishøi, Translated Caroline Waight

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

Broadleaf Books: Trespass: Portraits of Unhoused Life, Love, and Understanding by Kim Watson

Nancy Paulsen Books: Sync by Ellen Hopkins

Running Press Adult: Cat People by Hannah Hillam

Beaming Books: Must-Have Autumn Reads for Your Shelf!

Dial Press: Like Mother, Like Mother by Susan Rieger


How Bookstores Are Coping: 'Book Peddlers'; 'Fighting Better Than Ever'; Store Repairs

In St. Petersburg, Fla., Tombolo Books closed its doors to the public on March 17 and started curbside pickup and "no-touch delivery." Owner Alsace Walentine reported that the store has two entrances, and at times there were people at both doors waiting for pickups. Initially, customers would call when they arrived at the store and a staff member would run their packages out to them. But as news became more dire, Walentine and her staff stopped handing packages to people and instead left them on a table to allow for six feet of space.

Due to a safer-at-home order issued by the county, Tombolo did curbside pickup for only eight days. Since then, it's been all delivery, with Walentine and her team preferring to deliver via bicycle whenever possible, as part of a service they've called Book Peddlers. On the same day they discontinued curbside pickup, they also announced a book recommendation hotline. Walentine added that she's received many messages from customers saying that the store is helping lift spirits while they're stuck at home.

On the subject of her staff, Walentine said she's been able to keep everyone on, and everyone seems to be feeling the "altruistic spirit of bookselling." Currently, only three booksellers are allowed in the store at any one time and the team is being strict about staying at least six feet apart, washing hands and cleaning surfaces regularly.

Walentine said her sales are down by about 30%, with about 20% of those losses due to postponed or canceled events. This week, Tombolo will launch a series of partnered book clubs that will be the store's first online events. Some of the partners for these book clubs include a yoga studio, the Museum of Fine Arts and more.


At Old Town Books in San Angelo, Tex., store owner Mary Ellen Hartje closed the store to browsing on April 1, with pickups, free delivery and mailing still available. Hartje reported that she and her team are starting to see more orders come in, and she's looking into how to set up their POS system, Square, for online sales. For the moment, sales are down by about 50%.

Hartje called her team amazing. The store is only four months old, she added, and "we have been winging it since day one, so winging it right now is not that much different for us." On the topic of online and virtual events, Hartje said she and her team livestream two storytime sessions each week and "never stop thinking of ways to connect with our customers." They've also tried running online sales and posting videos of staff book reviews on the store's social media.


Some indies are using the coronavirus-inflicted shutdown to make structural improvements. Maria's Bookshop, Durango. Colo., noted that the "floors are officially ready for their very first refinishing! We've been spending our quarantine hours packing up thousands of books for safe keeping while we give the shop some much-needed love and attention! It's pretty amazing to see how much life those books bring to the shop. We can't wait to get them back out and invite you all to see it!"

And Harvey's Tales, Geneva, Ill., noted that the "sun is shining and the sky is blue so before our next rainstorm it was time to replace our roof! Since we are closed for the shelter-in-place order, our local roofer, G. Klemm Roofing of Geneva, felt now was as good a time as any to do the work and are making sure their employees are safe during this time. When we see you next, HT will have a beautiful new roof thanks to G. Klemm Roofing!"


"Well, we have been mandated to close on Monday," VaLinda Miller, owner of Turning Page Bookshop, Goose Creek, S.C., posted on Facebook Saturday. "Stay home. Wash your hands frequently and sit in your favorite chair and read a good book (play with the kids too!). You can still support us. Call us, we deliver and mail. Support and let us know you still need us because we need you."

Miller, who opened Turning Page last year, told Shelf Awareness: "I opened with little debt (still had a few hanging from the old store) and the first few months started out great with more support then I ever had at the other store. Paid off lots of debt, close to my full and part time job (got to keep working to get the debt down) and I can walk to the store. Then, Barnes & Noble, Life Way Christian and Dreamalots used bookstore all closed. Wow!! all within 1 1/2 miles from my store. I could not believe this opportunity to increase my inventory in every genre.

"Now, Covid-19 is upon us and at some point I said, 'Really, not another setback, not just for me, but for all of the independent bookstores in the world.' Got Dog It!!! Give us a break!! I had already went through hell in a hand basket at the last bookstore, but this time, I'm gonna fight better than ever. You ain't seen nothing yet. Nobody or virus is gonna knock baby down, nobody!!!"


In a Facebook post Saturday, Jackson Hole Book Trader, Jackson, Wyo., observed: "There's one thing we know--one thing that was true yesterday and will be true tomorrow--the importance and comfort of books. We're adding to our inventory. Keeping up on new releases and maintaining a semblance of normalcy for the days we can open our doors again. For now the books are keeping each other company, as we all focus inward.

"Our top priority is the health of our team, our families, and our community. Our current status is tying up loose ends--getting those previously ordered books into your hands--and closing up shop.... We're shifting gears into our next phase--online purchasing and book mailings, continuing to do our best to get you some books. (Booksellers getting technical... we got this). Thank You! Thank you for your support, your patience, and your encouragement. Now it's time to stay home, stay healthy, and stay well read."

Peachtree Teen: Compound Fracture by Andrew Joseph White

BookCon's Saturday Virtual Read-a-Thon to Benefit Binc

BookCon has set the author line-up for a virtual Read-a-Thon aimed at benefiting bookstore workers affected by Covid-19. 

Scheduled for this Saturday, April 11, the Read-a-Thon will be streamed on BookCon's Facebook page from noon Eastern time to 8 p.m. that evening. Each of the more than 25 authors involved will do a 15-minute reading, and throughout the Read-a-Thon viewers will be invited to donate to the Book Industry Charitable Foundation (Binc).

Among the many authors taking part are Laurie Halse Anderson (Shout), Melissa de La Cruz (The Queen's Assassin), Marie Lu (The Kingdom of Back), Ransom Riggs (Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children) and Adam Silvera (Infinity Son).

"We give our warmest gratitude and thanks to all those at BookCon and ReedPop for hosting this innovative Read-a-Thon benefiting booksellers and bookstores," said Binc executive director Pam French. "At Binc, we have been amazed every single day over these last few harrowing weeks by the extraordinary ideas, energy and dedication this community shares for the wellbeing of booksellers, comics retailers, bookstores and comic shops. I extend my thanks and gratitude to every person who donates."

"BookCon was created from the desire to offer readers a place to meet and interact with their favorites alongside people who are as passionate about books as they are," said Jenny Martin, BookCon's event director. "Now more than ever, we are eager to provide that sense of community to our fans and are excited to debut our first round of virtual events."

The Read-a-Thon is part of BookCon's Virtual Book Tour series, which will continue throughout the spring with a variety of online author events. An event with music journalist Nelson George and Sarah Smarsh, author of the upcoming Dolly Parton biography She Come by It Natural, is scheduled for April 13. More events can be found here.

BookCon 2020 is slated for July 25-26 at the Javits Center in New York City.

Inner Traditions: Expand your collection with these must-have resource books!

Porter Square Books Named Bookstore of the Year

Congratulations to Porter Square Books, Cambridge, Mass., named PW's Bookstore of the Year, and Bob Barnett, national sales manager of the University of Texas Press, named PW's Rep of the Year.

Porter Square Books was bought in 2013 by Dina Mardell and David Sandberg, who two years ago, as part of a longterm succession plan, sold half of the store to nine managers, including Josh Cook and Dale Szczeblowski. In her nomination, Maureen Karb, head of Como Sales, said that Mardell and Sandberg "have consistently been at the cutting-edge of bookselling: from the store's Writer in Residence program to their adult book fairs. They have taken a store that was honestly pretty amazing from the beginning, and somehow made it even better."

In his nominating letter, Mitchell Kaplan, owner of Books & Books in south Florida and the Cayman Islands, said of Barnett, "I've not met anyone more knowledgeable, enthusiastic, and committed to the books and bookstores he or she represents and services. He truly understands the power of indie and university presses and has turned me on to some of our bestselling titles that I wouldn't have come across but for Bob knowing me and my store so well. Bob embodies just what a rep ought to be."

Obituary Note: Juan Giménez

Argentinean artist Juan Giménez, known for his work on Metal Hurlant and The Metabarons, died April 2 from the coronavirus. He was 76 years old. Giménez's early work appeared in Argentinean, Spanish and Italian comic books, "although his mainstream breakthrough came with his work for the Metal Hurlant and L'Eternauta anthologies in the 1980s, including his work on the Heavy Metal animated feature, for which he designed the 'Harry Canyon' segment," the Hollywood Reporter wrote. "Arguably his career peak arrived in the early 1990s, when he co-created the popular science fiction series The Metabarons with filmmaker and author Alejandro Jodorowsky, which ran through eight graphic novels before concluding in 2003."

"I closely collaborated with Juan Giménez for 10 years and together, we created The Metabarons saga," Jodorowsky said in a statement. "What facilitated my task as we offered him to work on the complex world of the Metabarons was that he already embodied the immortal No-Name, the last Metabaron. In my unconscious, Juan Giménez cannot die. He will continue on, drawing like the master warrior that he was."

Among his numerous honors, Giménez won the Yellow Kid Award for Best Foreign Artist at the 1990 Lucca International Comic Fair, as well as the Gaudia award at the Feria Internacional del Comics de Barcelone that same year.

"There are many artists who are adored by their fans, but only a select few are equally revered by their peers," said Mark Waid, publisher of Humanoids, which issued Metabarons. "Juan Giménez was the latter, able to give us not only epic moments of space opera but subtle and moving moments of humanity. Worldwide, the comics community mourns for him."

Humanoids CEO Fabrice Giger recalled: "It was the middle of a sunny day of 1991 in Paris. I remember clearly the sparks that suddenly appeared in Juan's eyes, while he was listening to Jodorowsky pitching him The Metabarons. I knew then that Alejandro had won him to the cause, but I didn't fully realize that their combined genius was about to produce the most formidable space opera ever told in comic-book form."

May Indie Next List E-Newsletter Delivered

Last Thursday, the American Booksellers Association's e-newsletter edition of the Indie Next List for May was delivered to more than half a million of the country's best book readers. The newsletter was sent to customers of 153 independent bookstores, with a combined total of 612,378 subscribers.

The e-newsletter, powered by Shelf Awareness, features all of the month's Indie Next List titles, with bookseller quotes and "buy now" buttons that lead directly to the purchase page for the title on the sending store's website. The newsletter, which is branded with each store's logo, also includes an interview (from Bookselling This Week) with the author whose book was chosen by booksellers as the number-one Indie Next List pick for the month, in this case The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel (Knopf).

For a sample of the May newsletter, see this one from Union Ave. Books, Knoxville, Tenn.


Image of the Day: Socially Distanced Signing

House of Books in Kent, Conn., hosted a socially distanced signing with local author Jerry Saltz for How to Be an Artist (Riverhead). The store's new general manager, Ben Rybeck (formerly of Brazos Bookstore in Houston and the Center for Fiction in Brooklyn, N.Y.), explained: "We have books shipped to him sanitized; he signs them gloved; boxes them up; and we ship everything out from the safety of home. All safe. A way to keep fans connected with the author and get a personalized book. And so far we've sold nearly 1,000 copies!"

Coronavirus-fighting Ideas: Poetry Month, Education Support

Although April is National Poetry Month, "due to circumstances beyond our control, we've had to change our plans for how best to celebrate," Next Page Books, Cedar Rapids, Iowa, noted in a Facebook post. "So, beginning tomorrow and continuing every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday through April, we will post a different poem in our storefront window for folks to read while out for their daily dose of fresh air. We ask for your cooperation with observing appropriate social distancing so, please, no crowding in front of the store. Oh! And feel free to share a favorite poem with us, too!"


Kona Stories Book Store, Kailua Kona, Hawaii, has launched an initiative called the Educational Support Drive. Co-owner Brenda McConnell noted that the genesis for the program came a little more than two weeks ago. When the mandate to close all non-essential businesses and shelter in place was about to go into effect, a couple donated $500 to the store to get educational materials into the hands of at-risk students who are now out of school for the foreseeable future.

"This inspired us to start a program which we are calling our Educational Support Drive," McConnell said. "Through our weekly newsletter, social media and a nice front page story in our local newspaper we have raised over $4,000 in a little over a week for school materials. I've reached out to our local transitional living housing complexes and non-profits we have worked with before for Christmas toy drives to ask for their help in disturbing these materials to the most at risk students. 

"These students are without books, teacher instruction and mostly without internet. I delivered my first boxes this week with overwhelming responses of gratitude. We are working directly with Workman and Scholastic, along with Bess Press, a local press which provides us early readers with local content.... [W]e have asked local radio to come do a story to keep the momentum going."


Newtonville Books, Newton, Mass., worked with the Newton Public Schools "to provide 240 gift bags for K-5 kids in the district who needed them--each gift bag included a wipe board, dry erase markers, a book and activity book, a Blackwing pencil, and some sort of other surprise--Eco-Kids USA play dough, card games from Gamewright, or some other cool thing we had in stock. These are strange days but it brought me such joy to put together these little packages. I hope the kids enjoy them!"


"It feels like a lifetime ago when I last wrote and, as expected, we continue to face a shifting landscape," Roxanne Coady, owner of RJ Julia Booksellers, Madison, Conn., wrote in her latest e-newsletter. "But here is something that is the same--your remarkable support and generosity that has endured for all 30 years of RJ Julia's existence. In response to our appeal for your help last week, we raised $35,000 for kids in New Haven. You cannot imagine our gratitude--what an amazing community!"

The bookstore is working with a team from New Haven public schools who are coordinating meal pick-up. "They are now feeding over 3,000 families!" Coady noted. "Publisher Penguin Random House will help us drop-ship orders by grade groups, which will make it easy for volunteers to coordinate the distribution. We are finalizing logistics and hope to have the first books distributed by the end of April. If we can raise enough money, we would like to distribute books for ten weeks--about 30,000 books." In addition, Senator Chris Murphy was at a Bridgeport Public School food distribution site last week and had seen Coady's previous letter. He sent an e-mail to his supporters, which raised $100,000 in one day for Books for Kids, to benefit families in Bridgeport.

Pennie Picks: The Yellow Bird Sings

Pennie Clark Ianniciello, Costco's book buyer, has chosen The Yellow Bird Sings by Jennifer Rosner (Flatiron, $25.99, 9781250179760) as her pick of the month for April. In Costco Connection, which goes to many of the warehouse club's members, she wrote:

"Anne Frank's story is familiar to most of us, but this month's book buyer's pick, Jennifer Rosner's The Yellow Bird Sings, was inspired by countless other children who had to remain quiet while in hiding.

"The story focuses on five-year-old Shira, a musical prodigy, who must refrain from making any sounds while hiding from the Nazis with her mother, Róza. Róza creates a make-believe world to shield her daughter from the horror of reality. When their hiding place becomes unsafe, Róza must make a heartbreaking decision."

IPG Adds Three Publishers

Independent Publishers Group has added three publishers to its academic and professional distribution program (A&P):

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), Washington, D.C., the main professional membership organization for obstetrician-gynecologists, which produces practice guidelines for providers and educational materials for patients. It also publishes professional resources for OBGYN doctors as well as some trade-friendly books on family issues. Effective April 1.

Demeter Press, Bradford, Ont., an independent feminist press that publishes peer-reviewed scholarly work, fiction, poetry and creative nonfiction on mothering, reproduction, sexuality and family. Effective April 1.

The Water Environment Federation, Alexandria, Va., which publishes books and resources that are help water quality professionals enhance their skills, further their technical knowledge and advance their careers. Effective May 1.

Personnel Changes at Penguin Young Readers; Little Bee Books

James Akinaka has been promoted to digital marketing coordinator at Penguin Young Readers.


Tristan Lueck has joined Little Bee Books as marketing & publicity assistant.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Sam Sifton on Fresh Air

Fresh Air: Sam Sifton, author of See You on Sunday: A Cookbook for Family and Friends (Random House, $35, 9781400069927).

Movies: Artemis Fowl

Disney has pulled its upcoming film Artemis Fowl, based on Eoin Colfer's fantasy novels, from theatrical release and will debut the movie exclusively on its Disney+ streaming service sometime this summer. The Wrap reported that the move "comes as all theatrical releases are being shuffled around and delayed--some by as long as a year--while movie theaters remain closed during the coronavirus pandemic."

Directed by Kenneth Branagh, the movie stars Ferdia Shaw, Colin Farrell, Josh Gad and Judi Dench also star. It had been scheduled for a May 29 release.

"With audiences largely unable to attend theatres in the current environment, we are thrilled to offer the premiere of Artemis Fowl on Disney+," said Ricky Strauss, president, content & marketing, Disney+. "Director Kenneth Branagh and his spectacular cast take viewers right into the vibrant, fantasy world of the beloved book, which fans have been waiting to see brought to life onscreen for years. It's great family entertainment that is the perfect addition to Disney+'s summer lineup."

Books & Authors

Awards: PEN/Faulkner Fiction Winner; Plutarch Finalists

Chloe Aridjis won the $15,000 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction for her novel Sea Monsters (Catapult). "In these extraordinary times, the written word has never been so important or healing," said Louis Bayard, PEN/Faulkner Awards committee chair. "Sea Monsters, along with our other four finalists, exemplifies the richness, artistry, and diversity of the American literary landscape." The other finalists will receive $5,000.

The judges commented: "Our strenuous advocacy for a first-ever long-list stemmed from our commitment to elevate the 10 exceptional books and their creators whose enormous talents belong in the often insular North American literary tradition. Each of our five finalists deserves the prize for the ways they opened new veins of investigation in terms of craft, theme, and voice. Each book moved and inspired us deeply and is a cause for celebration. It is a testament to the fairness of this process that we explored every possible reason to award the prize to each of these writers before choosing our winner: Sea Monsters by Chloe Aridjis. Set against spectacular Oaxacan landscapes and full of surrealist possibilities, Sea Monsters is a stunning exploration of the ways its brilliant teenage narrator's interior and exterior worlds are both fluid and in opposition. This dreamlike near-fable of equal parts philosophical and intellectual vigor is a book unlike any other; a true standout and a gift for these times in which we are all craving escape."


The finalists for the Plutarch Award, honoring the best biography of the year and sponsored by the Biographers International Organization, are:

All the Powers of Earth: The Political Life of Abraham Lincoln, 1856-1860 by Sidney Blumenthal (Simon & Schuster)
Sisters and Rebels: A Struggle for the Soul of America by Jacquelyn Dowd Hall (Norton)
Gods of the Upper Air: How a Circle of Renegade Anthropologists Reinvented Race, Sex, and Gender in the Twentieth Century by Charles King (Doubleday)
Our Man: Richard Holbrooke and the End of the American Century by George Packer (Knopf)
A Woman of No Importance: The Untold Story of the American Spy Who Helped Win World War II by Sonia Purnell (Viking)

The winner will be announced May 16.

Book Review

Review: All Adults Here

All Adults Here by Emma Straub (Riverhead, $27 hardcover, 368p., 9781594634697, May 4, 2020)

Unlike parents when it comes to their children, novel readers are allowed to have favorite characters. This will be an impossible task for many readers of All Adults Here, in which Emma Straub switches among the perspectives of eight characters who are all endearing in their disarmingly muddleheaded or abjectly truth-seeking ways.

The notion of parental love consumes Straub's characters, and the one with the longest tenure in the parenting game is Astrid Strick, a 68-year-old widow who, as All Adults Here begins, watches an empty school bus plow down Barbara Baker, a fixture in their Hudson Valley town of Clapham. Although Astrid didn't like Barbara--"not for a single day of their forty-year-acquaintance," Straub writes in her deliciously withering opener--the death forecloses Astrid's chance to resolve something with Barbara that happened decades earlier and concerned Astrid's eldest child, Elliot. Nevertheless, Astrid feels obliged to interpret Barbara's death as a prompt to forge a less steely persona, and she takes the opportunity of a family brunch to tell her kin that she has been in reciprocal love with a woman for the past several years.

Another secret keeper is Astrid's middle child, 38-year-old Porter, a dairy farmer who still lives in Clapham. About halfway through a pregnancy made possible by a sperm bank, Porter is leery of breaking the news to Astrid, who "did not invite intimacy the way that Porter had observed in other mothers." But Porter must concede that her mom's confession was like a cattle prod: "If Astrid Strick could find love again, against all odds and personality deficits, then maybe Porter could too." She looks up her high school boyfriend, whose marriage didn't stop her from sleeping with him in recent years, so why should it stop her now?

No better at leaving his adolescence behind is Astrid's youngest child, Nicky. Although, unlike his siblings, Nicky has gotten out of Clapham, his responsibility-avoidant pastimes include smoking lots of pot. When his 13-year-old daughter, Cecelia, gets in trouble at her Brooklyn school, Nicky and his wife hand her off to her grandmother Astrid, so that the girl can make a fresh start at Clapham Junior High. Cecelia has a different read: "Her parents needed a time-out from being parents."

Cecelia's late-summer arrival in Clapham, like Barbara's death, launches All Adults Here, some of whose fine moments are gasp-worthy, as when a character in one story line turns out to be a key player in another. Straub, the author of the novels Laura Lamont's Life in Pictures, The Vacationers and Modern Lovers, belongs in the company of Cathleen Schine, Tom Perrotta and other fiction writers who understand that the degree of humor that can be teased from family drama is often directly proportional to the extent of the family's misery. --Nell Beram, author and freelance writer

Shelf Talker: Straub's unhappy-family novel revolves around a sympathetic cluster of maturity-challenged adults and a teenager who is arguably the most grown-up among them.

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