Shelf Awareness for Tuesday, April 28, 2020

 Kokila: Everything We Never Had by Randy Ribay

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

Severn House: A Messy Murder (Main) (The Decluttering Mysteries #4) by Simon Brett

Forge: My Three Dogs by Bruce W Cameron

Quotation of the Day

Indie Bookstores' Many Roles

"Today's independent bookstores aren't just places of commerce. They're destinations unto themselves. They have also taken on many of the roles that used to be reserved for civic and religious institutions. Bookstores are community gathering places, hubs for conversation between like-minded souls, lecture halls hosting inspiring and thought-provoking speeches, and vital lyceums for citizens to discuss the important issues of the day."

--Rachel Hirschhaut and Pauline Frommer, in the introduction to a story "25 Independent Bookstores We Love--and How to Support Them Now"

G.P. Putnam's Sons: The Restaurant of Lost Recipes (A Kamogawa Food Detectives Novel) by Hisashi Kashiwai, Translated by Jesse Kirkwood


AAP Sales: Up 3.1% in February

In what's probably the last month with positive sales figures for a while, in February total net book sales in the U.S. rose 3.1%, to $786.8 million, compared to February 2019, representing sales of 1,361 publishers and distributed clients as reported to the Association of American Publishers. For the year to date, total net book sales rose 3.5%, to $1.9 billion.

In February, total trade sales were up 2.7%, to $538 million, and paper formats accounted for $376 million, or 70%, of trade sales. Overall e-book sales fell 5.6%, to $83 million.

Sales by category in February 2020 compared to February 2019:

Harpervia: Only Here, Only Now by Tom Newlands

GLIBA, Center for the Art of Translation, Melville House Supporting Binc

 The Great Lakes Independent Booksellers Association is donating $5,000 to the #SaveIndieBookstores campaign, led by James Patterson, the American Booksellers Association, the Book Industry Charitable Foundation (Binc) and Reese Witherspoon's Book Club. Funds will go to independent bookstores.

Starting last week, author Rick Riordan and his wife, Becky, are matching every dollar raised for the #SaveIndieBookstores campaign up to $100,000. As of last Wednesday, the campaign had raised a total of $758,302, including Patterson's initial contribution of $500,000. The campaign runs through Thursday, April 30.


The Center for the Art of Translation and Two Lines Press are donating 50% of all contributions to their Spring 2020 fundraiser to Binc. The initial goal is to raise $30,000, with $15,000 going to independent booksellers. Any additional funds will continue to be split 50/50.

Michael Holtmann, executive director of the Center for the Art of Translation and publisher of Two Lines Press, said: "Without bookstores, our work is impossible. No matter how important the writer, no matter how artful the translation, no matter how insightful the reviews, without a community of booksellers promoting literary translation in their stores, through book sales and events, our work is incomplete. Put simply, financial support for bookstores is support for the Center and Two Lines Press."

The Center's fundraising campaign started yesterday and will run through Friday, May 15. Donations can be made to the Center for the Art of Translation.


Melville House has crash-published a book that it calls a "psychological toolkit" for dealing with the coronavirus, Coping with Coronavirus: How to Stay Calm and Protect Your Mental Health by psychiatrist Dr. Brendan Kelly. The publisher is donating all of its profits from the book to Binc, while the author is donating his royalties to medical charities assisting healthcare workers with the global response to coronavirus.

Available as an 88-page e-book for $1.99, Coping with Coronavirus offers advice and techniques for managing emotional and psychological stress and averting panic as well ways to deal with the unusual social demands of an unprecedented situation.

Dr. Brendan Kelly is professor of Psychiatry at Trinity College Dublin and consultant psychiatrist at Tallaght Hospital, Dublin. He has master's degrees in healthcare management, Buddhist studies and epidemiology and doctorates in medicine, history, governance and law.

"It's a good time to remember that books can be powerful tools to help us through difficult times, and everything about the book industry--making books, writing books, selling books--is essential," said Melville House publisher Dennis Johnson. "That's why we're honored to donate our profits from this beautiful book to charities supporting those in the book industry who are suffering right now, just as the brilliant author of this book is donating his royalties to healthcare workers fighting the virus."

International Update: NZ 'Bookselling Is Back,' Irish Postal Deal

Effective Tuesday, New Zealand is now at Alert Level 3, "which means contactless bookselling is back! Here is a list from the Coalition for Books NZ of local bookshops or you can visit our website and narrow down your search geographically.... #BookshopsAreBack," Booksellers NZ posted on Facebook.

"Get thee to a bookstore," ReadingRoom advised. "Hallelujah! You can get KFC, you can get pizza--and you can get books. We present a complete list of bookstores open for business in Level 3."

"Not all booksellers will be able to offer all services," said Dan Slevin, Booksellers NZ association manager. "But we haven't heard from anyone who won't be trading in some fashion. Even if a store doesn't have a website you can order from (very few now) they will take phone orders, and if they don't feel like they can do click and collect because of the store setup, they will post/courier/hand deliver."


The Australian book trade is grappling with a "huge shock" in the weeks since the Covid-19 crisis hit, with the country's writers, publishers and booksellers struggling "to keep their heads above water," the Guardian reported. Martin Hughes, CEO of Affirm Press, recalled initial reaction to the novel coronavirus: "Panic in the community, the business community and the publishing community. Everyone was looking for plan B."

Bianca Whiteley of Nielsen Book Australia said the country's book market has recorded a 7.1% decline in value sales in 2020 thus far, though unit sales were up slightly, at 1.5%. Children's books and adult fiction were strongest, while trade nonfiction has continued to slow.

The reasons "are multifaceted: the books industry relies on an ecosystem of bookstores, festivals, events and media interest to shift copies," the Guardian wrote. "Many bookstores have shut their physical premises since the lockdowns started, airports are closed, festivals cancelled. Manufacturing and supply have also been affected--early on in the crisis, shutdowns in China caused printing delays; more recently, increased burdens on freight and logistics networks are affecting stock management and distribution."

Australian author James Bradley, whose seventh novel, Ghost Species, was released this week, will not be on a typical usual book tour, though he "feels lucky that the themes of his book--the ethics of our schemes to fix a world falling apart from environmental crisis--resonate with the coronavirus crisis, but he acknowledges that many writers may be facing a profound sense of irrelevancy," the Guardian noted.

"At the moment I think it is difficult to have a conversation about anything other than coronavirus, and I think that does make promoting a book which is about other things more difficult," he said, adding that most of his worries are reserved for the sector in the medium to long term. "What's happened is a huge shock, which means that everything marginal collapses--and the problem is the entire publishing and arts sector is marginal. [The government] starved the arts sector for 20 years and now we're just not in any position to survive."

Affirm Press's Hughes is a little more optimistic: "We've been pulling together really well. And I think there'll always be a soft spot for people whose debuts, in particular, were affected by the coronavirus crisis."


Ireland's booksellers and An Post "have joined forces to help independent sellers' anti-Covid-19 efforts and to help unite the country around books and reading," RTÉ reported, noting that the postal service is making a special posting rate of €2.95 (about $3.19) per package available to indies for mailing book packages up to 10 kilograms (about 22 pounds) across Ireland.

"We are really aware of the challenges facing SMEs such as booksellers during this crisis and An Post's purpose is to work for the common good," said Garrett Bridgeman, managing director of An Post Mails and Parcel. "Books are always important, but with so many people confined to their home or local area, they're a wonderful boredom buster and a passport to good use of free time for readers of all ages."

John Keane, chairman of Bookselling Ireland, said the partnership shows what can be achieved by Irish businesses working together: "Booksellers, having been forced to close their doors during the crisis, are being greatly supported by An Post in dealing directly with readers and finding new customers during what is a very difficult time for the sector."


Posted yesterday on Facebook by Indian bookseller KoolSkool--The Book Store in Gurugram: "WE ARE OPEN!!!! It's so good to be back! We are following ALL safety protocols to ensure that we are able to get you and your children the books you need."

How Bookstores Are Coping: Planning Reopenings

Lisa Poole, owner of Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh, N.C., reported that her store has been closed to the public since March 27, when Governor Roy Cooper issued a stay-at-home order for the state. 

Prior to that, Quail Ridge Books had been doing curbside pickup and allowing customers in the store by appointment only. No more than four were allowed in at a time and they were told that they had to wash their hands before entering and maintain social distance while browsing. Although the appointment system worked well, Poole said, curbside pickup was not so successful, with customers tending to gather in groups at the store entrance instead of waiting in their cars. Once the order was issued, however, Poole and her team stopped curbside pickup and appointiment browsing and "went into high-gear shipping mode."

Poole said that, overall, the staff is hanging in there and helping each other out. Some are working part time from home, and there is a "solid crew working hard every day fulfilling online orders." She has several staff members over 60 or with medical conditions who have been told to not come into work. Working in an empty store and not hosting any events has been strange for everyone, Poole continued, but she is "happy they have a job to go to every day."

Poole applied for a PPP loan, but did not receive any assistance. She's hoping for better news in the next round, and in the meantime she and her team are scraping together enough to keep everyone on payroll.

Quail Ridge Books has not hosted any online events of its own, but the team has been promoting SIBA's Reader Meet Writer series. Next month Poole hopes to have her general manager speak at a virtual book club with Sue Monk Kidd.

Poole said there haven't really been any silver linings amid the pandemic, but she's proud to say that her staff is rallying, coming together and learning new skills. Her customers have also been doing good for others, including one man who ordered 50 jigsaw puzzles to distribute to his co-workers, and Poole has formed some new partnerships with other local businesses.


VaLinda Miller, owner of Turning Page Bookshop, Goose Creek, S.C., which opened last June, "knew her first year as a small business owner would be hard--but not this hard," CNN reported. Three weeks ago she was forced to close her doors after Governor McMaster issued a stay-at-home order for the state. Her business dropped by 80%, but the governor has since lifted the order, allowing "nonessential" businesses to open again.

"I think so many of us just want to go back to work," Miller said. "We've been home. We've done the best we could. But money is running out.... If it had gone one more week or just two more weeks, we really would have been in some serious trouble because my savings would have been depleted completely."

Navigating the reopening process in the time of Covid-19 will prove challenging as well. CNN reported that on her first day back in business, Miller had one customer. "I think I can weather this risk with being cautious, washing hands and wearing masks," she said.


Melissa Haffeman, owner of the Islander Bookshop, Kodiak, Alaska, noted that she would "take a cautious approach to reopening. Currently I am working with the SBA, reading through Kodiak EOC's and state guidance, and establishing a new business plan that will ensure that we are all safe as can be when the business reopens. Being in service to the community has always been paramount in the vision of the bookshop so some things need to change as town navigates the pandemic such as no more workshops, events, and gatherings at the shop for the foreseeable future.

"The good news is that I have been ordering more bookshelves and books. The spaces where people could sit and study are now being made into more bookshelves as the shop will expand the book offerings especially for kids. After a lot of careful consideration I think there is a way to turn our town's bookshop into a vibrant shop focused solely on books and local goods--with online ordering, pick up, delivery, and limited browsing hours. The soonest the doors will open is May 2, but that may fluctuate as information changes.

"Thank you to all of you who have ordered online, waited for books, for the smiles as I've seen as I delivered books to houses, for my husband who helps deliver, and for the great conversations about books I've had with folks who are looking for the next great read. Your support has enabled the shop to keep going."


Daniel Goldin, owner of Boswell Book Company, Milwaukee, Wis., joined Milwaukee magazine editor and publisher Carole Nicksin for a livestream lunch on Friday to talk about how the bookstore is adapting to the Covid-19 pandemic and offer a few book recommendations.

Goldin said the store has received an influx of online orders from throughout Wisconsin and beyond, while maintaining its personal, non-automated shipping process, adding: "We're still sending personal notes with every order, sometimes we add an extra book."

Sandcastle Tales Bookstore, Del Mar, Calif., for Sale

Sandcastle Tales Bookstore, the children's bookstore that opened last year in Del Mar, Calif., is for sale and will close this summer if no buyer is found.

Owner Alex Rhett said that the store has "brought a new light to our fabulous beach-side community in Del Mar. It had been so many years since another bookstore had been in the area. The day Sandcastle Tales appeared, we received an amazing welcome, with joy and heartfelt gratitude from our community as well as the many tourists who visit our community. As many people said, it was about time to have a dedicated, safe, welcoming, family space in our beach community that is passionate about books!"

Rhett said that the Covid-19 pandemic had affected her in multiple ways beyond the obvious of having to close the store and loss of the regular source of revenue. "There is just so much I can do as a mother, business owner, manager, home-learning teacher, and community helper," she said. "The current situation has overwhelmed my capacity and strength. My passion for books and care for our community are at a crossroads, and just like many other mothers, I need to prioritize my passion for family and my children over my book passion. It is with heavy heart that I share that unless a new buyer is found immediately, our bookstore will be forced to close its doors in less than three months."

The sale would be turn-key "with all my help transitioning it to a new owner." Rhett said she hopes to find a buyer "who will focus on the future success and growth of a fantastic bookstore. As I know the ins and outs, pros and cons, and have established many projects, I am totally willing to help continue to grow this project, but no longer full time. I would love to find someone as passionate and who can save this community treasure, this beach destination for tourists and local families, readers, and authors."

Rhett can be reached via e-mail.


Happy 30th Birthday, RJ Julia Booksellers!

Congratulations to RJ Julia Booksellers, which is celebrating its 30th birthday Thursday with a virtual party, sharing "favorite books of the past 30 years. We'll reminisce about the bookstore, then and now, and you'll get a chance to 'see' and hear from your favorite booksellers. We might even get messages from a few special guests!"

In this month's "Dear Reader" letter, RJ Julia founder Roxanne Coady wrote: "Well, I don't think anyone could have imagined our 30th birthday occurring in this environment, nor did it occur to me that after one 20-year happy career, my lark or dream would result in a second 30-year career! But here we are. In a peculiar way, this moment in time perfectly reveals what locally owned independent bookstores embody.

"As Kevin and I were about to open the doors in April 1990, giving birth to RJ Julia Booksellers and, just a few months later, our son Edward, I doubt we understood the full breadth of the journey we were about to begin. As we raise a child, we are very familiar with the notion of nature versus nurture.... We might not think about an entity like RJ Julia being 'birthed' and it too being subject to the debate of nature versus nurture. But as I sit at this juncture six weeks into a landscape shockingly altered by the pandemic, it is clear that the theory applies.

"Our nature forges and fuels how we function. Independent bookstores are born with hearts, with passion, and with an understanding that they are a necessary part of a history. That history began with the power of the very first words being written down. No, in fact, it goes further back--we are linked to the ancient communal tradition of storytelling.

"By creating a community space for storytelling, we have the ability to transform, entertain, distract, and most critically, to inspire dreams through stories. It is what brings us joy and purpose. It is our nature that defines us, drives us, and informs our actions. This is our responsibility and commitment.

"Of course, nature alone is not enough. The capacity to leverage our nature is where the nurturing comes in; we sure as hell have been nurtured!... Hard times expose weaknesses, fragile ties, and inequities, but they also reveal strength, connection, and humanity. That is why this crazy scary time is the perfect time to celebrate. This environment reveals the magical marriage of our nature and an abundance of nurture, which has created the 30-year-old RJ Julia Booksellers, a place, a space, which represents our best selves. Our nature was nurtured!... We will see you in the store and we will celebrate."

B&N's May Book Club Pick: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes

Barnes & Noble has chosen The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins as its May YA book club selection. The novel, to be published by Scholastic on May 19, will be the focus of a virtual book club night on B&N's Instagram account Friday, May 29, at 7 p.m. The book club edition includes a reader's group guide and q&a with Suzanne Collins and Scholastic publisher and editorial director David Levithan.

"You would have to live under a stone to have missed the triumphant storytelling of the original Hunger Games trilogy," said Barnes & Noble CEO James Daunt. "Suzanne Collins has given us now the prequel, a publishing event of a magnitude and excitement that really only a new Harry Potter could rival. Most of our bookstores offer curb-side pickup and we are certain to have long, appropriately distanced queues on publication day, and record online orders. This publication could not come at a better time for booksellers."

Hopkins Fulfillment Services to Distribute the University of Alberta Press

Hopkins Fulfillment Services will provide warehousing, fulfillment, and sales representation in the U.S. for the University of Alberta Press, effective June 1.

The University of Alberta Press publishes scholarly and creative books in a variety of fields, including Indigenous studies, critical race/gender/class studies, literary criticism, Canadian history, regional topics (Canadian West and North), urban studies, environmental studies, travel narratives, literary nonfiction, and poetry. Recent titles include Keetsahnak/Our Missing and Murdered Indigenous Sisters edited by Kim Anderson, Maria Campbell, and Christi Belcourt; Power Play: Professional Hockey and the Politics of Urban Development by Jay Scherer, David Mills, and Linda Sloan McCulloch; and An Autobiography of the Autobiography of Reading by Dionne Brand.

University of Alberta Press director Douglas Hildebrand said, "This arrangement will strengthen our position in the important U.S. market and make our titles more easily available to American retailers, wholesalers, and readers."

HFS director Davida Breier said, "With its focus on history, literature, and cultural studies, University of Alberta Press's strong list of respected publications will be right at home with HFS. We're very pleased to be working with this distinguished Canadian university press and look forward to bringing their books to new readers in the U.S."

Media and Movies

Movies: Becoming Book Tour Doc

A first look trailer has been released for Becoming, a new documentary about Michelle Obama's book tour to launch her 2018 memoir. Variety reported that the doc "offers a rare, up-close look at Michelle Obama's life, taking viewers behind-the-scenes as she embarks on a 34-city tour to promote her book. Both the memoir and the film are about highlighting the power of community to bridge divides and the spirit of connection that comes when people openly and honestly share their stories."

The film, which will be released on Netflix May 6, is from the Obamas' exclusive development pact with Netflix via their Higher Ground Productions banner, which they launched last year. It was directed by Nadia Hallgren (After Maria), with Katy Chevigny, Marilyn Ness and Lauren Cioffi producing.

Hallgren noted that she was approached by Higher Ground and was granted a 30-minute meeting with the former First Lady to decide whether she was the right fit to make Becoming: "She moves quickly and I had to learn to move with her--I filmed in tight, private spaces in a way that required the smallest possible footprint, but also allowed me to build a close relationship with her."

In a note, Michelle Obama wrote: "Those months I spent traveling--meeting and connecting with people in cities across the globe--drove home the idea that what we share in common is deep and real and can't be messed with. In groups large and small, young and old, unique and united, we came together and shared stories, filling those spaces with our joys, worries, and dreams. We processed the past and imagined a better future. In talking about the idea of 'becoming,' many of us dared to say our hopes out loud.

"I treasure the memories and that sense of connection now more than ever, as we struggle together to weather this pandemic, as we care for our loved ones, tend to our communities, and try to keep up with work and school while coping with huge amounts of loss, confusion, and uncertainty."

Media Heat: Alia Volz on Fresh Air

Fresh Air: Alia Volz, author of Home Baked: My Mom, Marijuana, and the Stoning of San Francisco (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $27, 9780358006091).

Books & Authors

Awards: Donner Prize Shortlist

The shortlist has been released for the 2019/2020 Donner Prize, which honors "excellence and innovation in public policy writing by Canadians." The winner, who will be announced at a gala awards presentation postponed until the fall due to the Covid-19 crisis, receives C$50,000 (about US$35,575), with each of the finalists getting C$7,500 (about US$5,335). This year's shortlisted titles are:

Empty Planet: The Shock of Global Population Decline by Darrell Bricker and John Ibbitson
Living with China: A Middle Power Finds Its Way by Wendy Dobson
Wealth of First Nations by Thomas Flanagan
Breakdown: The Pipeline Debate and the Threat to Canada's Future by Dennis McConaghy
The Tangled Garden: A Canadian Cultural Manifesto for the Digital Age by Richard Stursberg and Stephen Armstrong

Book Review

Review: All My Mother's Lovers

All My Mother's Lovers by Ilana Masad (Dutton, $27 hardcover, 336p., 9781524745974, May 26, 2020)

All My Mother's Lovers, Ilana Masad's debut novel, is an empathetic portrait of a difficult mother-daughter relationship intercut with grief, road trips and queer romance. The novel begins with 27-year-old Maggie Krause returning home after her mother's sudden death. Maggie's grief is complicated by long-held resentments: her mother's frequent absences and her seeming refusal to accept Maggie's queerness fractured their relationship. Maggie finds an excuse to escape the unbearable grief--and long, painful shiva--filling her childhood home when she discovers a series of letters her mother has left behind, addressed to men Maggie has never heard of. In one of a series of arguably selfish choices--Maggie is young, figuring herself out, and no saint--she decides to leave her grieving father and brother and deliver the letters in person, initiating a series of road trips to find out who these men are and what they meant to her mother.

All My Mother's Lovers is about rediscovering Maggie's mother, a contradictory, surprising woman who Maggie, as children often do, has inadvertently rendered into a two-dimensional figure. It is also about Maggie learning to shed habits of mind that have long held her back in forming relationships. Maggie's current relationship is undefined, hovering on the edge of a seriousness that Maggie has so far avoided or sabotaged: "This is what she usually considers too real. This is when she bails." But as Maggie discovers that her parent's marriage wasn't as simple and perfect as she had always believed, she tries to learn to trust her girlfriend instead of the incessant fears and self-doubt running through her head.

In a way, All My Mother's Lovers resembles a coming-of-age novel, inasmuch as learning to forgive and accept your parents--and the insecurities they've handed down--is a critical part of growing up. Maggie is a strong-willed young woman who throws herself into risky situations and says what's on her mind. Whether she wants to admit it or not, a lot of that comes from her mother. In interstitial chapters from her mother's perspective, readers learn how her mother pursued her own unorthodox happiness, and the sacrifices she made along the way. Meanwhile, Maggie charts her own course through grief in drunken adventures, confrontations and revelations. All My Mother's Lovers is a raw, emotional book about acceptance and the kind of complicated, messy love that sometimes takes years to comprehend. --Hank Stephenson, manuscript reader, the Sun magazine

Shelf Talker: All My Mother's Lovers takes readers on a series of emotional road trips with Maggie, a young queer woman trying to understand her absent, disapproving mother in the wake of her sudden death.

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