Shelf Awareness for Tuesday, June 16, 2020


Harper: A Crooked Tree by Una Mannion

Algonquin Books: Let's Get Back to the Party by Zak Salih

Simon & Schuster: Unicorns Are the Worst! by Alex Willan

Candlewick Press: In the Half Room by Carson Ellis

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers: Kondo & Kezumi Visit Giant Island by David Goodner, illustrated by Andrea Tsurumi

Candlewick Press: A Polar Bear in the Snow by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Shawn Harris

News

Books & Books Permanently Closing Miami Beach Location

Books & Books is permanently closing its store on Lincoln Road in Miami Beach, Fla., the Real Deal: South Florida Real Estate News reported.

"It's been really a wonderful 30 years of being there, having this kind of front row seat there watching Miami develop," owner Mitchell Kaplan commented. He added that high rents on the iconic street were behind the closing, a decision that was accelerated by the Covid-19 pandemic. "Rents are too high and they've been too high for a long time," he said. "Even some of the big box stores are going to find it very, very difficult to stay at the rent structures that are there now." Kaplan said he is optimistic about finding another location in Miami Beach.

Kaplan also told the Miami Herald that since Books & Books' Lincoln Road store opened in 1989, "We went from being on a really funky, wonderful street to a street that now is very inhospitable to most locally owned independent businesses. The rents just got too high, and the street isn't quirky enough to attract people from all over South Florida the way it once did....

"It's not like I'm abandoning Miami Beach," he continued. "I want to find another quirky street that will appreciate us, and I want to be a part of something that's growing the way we helped Lincoln Road grow."

For many years, the Lincoln Road Books & Books had a storefront on the street. About 10 years ago, it moved to a space with many rooms that was accessible through a courtyard. An outdoor café closed two years ago.

Books & Books has stores in Coral Gables, Bal Harbour, the Adrienne Arsht Center, the Miami International Airport, Pinecrest, Coconut Grove, Key West and the Cayman Islands.


Sourcebooks Explore: No Reading Allowed: The Worst Read-Aloud Book Ever by Raj Haldar and Chris Carpenter, illustrated by Bryce Gladfelter


Publishers and Binc Team Up to Support Indies

On September 1, Central Avenue Publishing will release Alone Together: Love, Grief, and Comfort During the Time of Covid-19, a collection of essays, poems and interviews that will benefit independent bookstores.

Created by journalist and author Jennifer Haupt, the collection features more than 75 contributors, including Kwame Alexander, Jean Kwok, Lidia Yuknavitch, Garth Stein and Luis Alberto Urrea. Net profits from sales of the collection will go to the Book Industry Charitable Foundation.

Alone Together is divided into four sections--Love, Grief, Comfort and Possibilities--and has an overarching theme of finding grace and humility in such a devastating time. Each section begins with at least one interview conducted by Haupt, who is the curator of the blog Psychology Today.

She started putting the book together in April, when she wrote on Facebook: "Putting this into the universe: I've been struggling with how to do something positive during this time of hardship for many. I don't have money but I DO have a strong community of compassionate writers and readers. So: I'm putting together a collection of interviews and essays on Love and Comfort During Covid-19. The net profits will go to the Book Industry Charitable Foundaiton to benefit the bookstore owners who have supported readers and writers and now need our help."

From there, she approached her publisher at Central Avenue, Michelle Halket, and after a few bestselling authors came on board, "the whole thing started snowballing." 

Alone Together will be distributed by Independent Publishers Group.

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With so many upcoming trade shows postponed or held virtually, a group of publishers including Workman Publishing, Abrams, Bloomsbury Publishing, Candlewick Press, Chronicle Books and Sourcebooks have teamed up with Binc to create Indie Shindig, a virtual event series aimed at helping indie bookstores discover new books "published by the independent-minded publishing community."

The event series will run June 22-September 28, with new events every Monday at 2 p.m. Eastern, except on Labor Day. Each event will have a theme, with the first being In Solidarity: Black Voices Matter. For every bookseller who attends each event, all participating publishers will split a $10 donation to Binc, with a cap of $15,000 total. 

The full Indie Shindig schedule can be found here, and interested booksellers can sign up here.


Soho Press: The Revolution According to Raymundo Mata by Gina Apostol


How Bookstores Are Coping: 'Overwhelmingly Positive Support'; Window Display QR Codes

DeShanta Hairston, owner of Books and Crannies in Martinsville, Va., said she had never imagined that her store would get nationwide attention, but ever since lists of Black-owned bookstores began circulating online some three weeks ago, she has seen orders come in from customers all over the country and received an outpouring of "overwhelmingly positive" support.

During the first week of protests following the murder of George Floyd, Hairston continued, she received so many orders that she lost count of the exact number, but it was at least 100 per day. She has fulfilled some of them herself and fulfilled a lot through Ingram's direct-to-home system, without which, she said, she would not have been able to handle all the orders.

Hairston reported that the volume of orders has started to wane some, but she did write on Twitter that she needed some time to catch up on orders. Customers replied saying they are still interested in buying books from her and that she should let them know when she was caught up. Said Hairston: "They're waiting on me to give the green light."

While she hasn't yet officially opened her store for browsing, Hairston is allowing customers who come by for pick-up to browse if they want to. Hairston and her one employee both wear masks when they work, and all customers are required to wear them.

She plans to reopen sometime next week, and is putting social distancing stickers on the floor, setting up a sneeze shield at the counter and making sure she has enough cleaning supplies. When asked how her community has responded to things like social distancing and wearing facemasks, Hairston said that it seems "pretty even," with some on board and others pushing back.

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In Maplewood, N.J., [words] Bookstore has reopened on a limited basis. For the time being, store owner Jonah Zimiles and his team won't allow customers into the bookstore, but they will serve customers through a service desk that they've set up in front of the store. Curbside pick-up and direct-to-home delivery will continue, and customers can also shop by scanning QR codes displayed in the store's windows.

The service desk will be up and running 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, with curbside pickup available 11 a.m to 5 p.m. the same days. Zimiles decided to set up the outside service desk to minimize risk to customers and staff, and staff members will maintain at least six feet of distance at all times. Booksellers will be wearing masks and require customers to wear masks, with only electronic payments accepted for now.

The next step will likely be allowing customers into the store on a limited basis, either by appointment shopping or by limiting the number of customers in store at a time.


University of Minnesota Press: My Life in the Purple Kingdom by Brownmark and Cynthia M Uhrich


Duckworth New Director of American University in Cairo Press

Michael Duckworth has been named director of the American University in Cairo Press (AUC Press), effective July 1. He succeeds Dr. Nigel Fletcher-Jones, who is retiring.

Duckworth has more than 30 years of publishing experience at presses at the University of Hong Kong, University of Hawaii, the University of Cincinnati, and the University of Washington. He will be based in AUC Press's Cairo office.

"I am confident that Michael will build upon AUC Press's successes and will continue to expand our readership worldwide," said Francis Ricciardone, president of the American University in Cairo.

With offices in Cairo and New York, AUC Press is distributed in North America by Ingram Academic, in the U.K. and worldwide by Bloomsbury--with the exception of Egypt, where AUC Press distributes itself. In addition to its publishing program, AUC Press operates six bookstores in Egypt.


Storey Publishing: Wake Up Grateful: The Transformative Practice of Taking Nothing for Granted by Kristi Nelson


Obituary Note: Denny O'Neil

Denny O'Neil, best known for writing and editing Batman comic books, died June 11. He was 81. The Beat reported that O'Neil was "one of the most influential writers in comics history, his work on Batman and Green Lantern/Green Arrow with Neal Adams among the high points of '70s superhero comics. These stories broke away from the mold of entertaining good vs evil yarns to tell stories with serious themes. Quaint as they seem now, stories about drug abuse and racism were new to comics then, and had a powerful influence on those who came after."

He began his career in comics in the early 1960s as Stan Lee's assistant at Marvel and was hired by DC Comics in 1968. In 1980, he briefly returned to Marvel, but went back to DC in 1986 and continued writing and editing Batman while also working on Green Arrow and The Question.

O'Neil's conception of Batman as "darker and more obsessive--a change from the dayglo pop of the Batman TV show"--has influenced "every version of the character since, from Frank Miller to Christopher Nolan," the Beat wrote. "At Marvel, Denny hired and mentored a young Frank Miller, giving him the reins to write and draw Daredevil. Later he returned to DC, editing the Bat-books from 1986-2000. After retirement, he pursued a busy career as a teacher, including teaching writing for the comics at the School of Visual Arts."

In a tribute, Bill Sienkiewicz, O'Neil's collaborator on Moon Knight, observed: "He was a kind man with an acerbic edge, a giving soul, wickedly funny, and an incredibly talented writer who penned some of the greatest comic stories ever told... He helped make me a better professional, and better artist and storyteller, a better person, and to take what I do very seriously as a responsibility."

Former DC Comics president Paul Levitz called O'Neil "a philosopher, searching for ways to make the world better... even exploring how a new religion might be necessary for a time when it was no longer about man mastering the Earth, but learning to live in harmony with it.... But most of all, and ever so relevant at a moment like this, he taught us that we could... no, we should... damn it, we must use our podiums as writers, editors and teachers to push the world to become a better, more just place."

DC Comics publisher Jim Lee tweeted that O'Neil was "one of visionary architects of DC Comics who helped revive Batman in the 1970's and remains my favorite Green Lantern writer to date. Through his editing and writing, Denny was one of the earliest writers whose work and focus on social issues pushed comics to wider respectability & acceptance as an artform. Through his work & mentorship, he influenced generations of writers & artists. I was so starstruck meeting Denny for the first time, but he was just the kindest. Our condolences to his family & many fans around the world."


Rick Riordan Presents: City of the Plague God by Sarwat Chadda


Notes

Image of the Day: Real Professional Booksellers

Third Street Books, McMinnville, Ore., wrote: "These Real Professional Booksellers are ready to help you! From behind plexiglass and wearing masks, and sometimes struggling to hear everyone, we are smiling and happy to see you!" The store is limiting the number of customers and has a sanitizing station at the door, and the staff is wearing masks and encouraging customers to do so as well.


Caution, Booksellers at Work

Posted yesterday by Third Place Books, Lake Forest Park, Wash.: "We went through some changes here at our Lake Forest Park store! We have prepared our store with numerous safety measures and we are finally open to the public. Mask is required as well as other guidelines. This just applies to our Lake Forest Park store but stay tuned for more details about our other locations! See you soon."


Cool idea of the Day: Bookshop Porch Birthday Party

"It's a porch party! (For two.)," High Five Books, Florence, Mass., noted in sharing a photo of its great solution to a customer's challenge: "A mom reached out to ask how to delight her mega-reader daughter here for her 13th birthday, so we curated a collection of books and art kits for the two of them to safely browse on our little lanai. Happy birthday Anna!"


Penguin Random House Publisher Services to Distribute Catapult Book Group

Effective January 2021, Penguin Random House Publisher Services will sell and distribute across all sales channels worldwide all frontlist and backlist titles for the Catapult Book Group, which includes Catapult, Counterpoint Press, and Soft Skull Press.

Catapult Book Group publishes American and international fiction and narrative nonfiction and offers a literary community for both established and emerging writers, which includes a National Magazine Award-winning digital magazine and writing classes taught by prominent writers. In 2016, Counterpoint Press and its imprint Soft Skull Press merged with Catapult. Together, the three imprints now have a deep list that includes many award-winning authors.

Andy Hunter, publisher of the Catapult Book Group (and CEO of Bookshop.org), said, "In just five years, the Catapult Book Group has built up an extraordinary foundation. Counterpoint has been publishing distinguished literary fiction and nonfiction for a quarter century, and Soft Skull has always been one of the most interesting, risk-taking independent presses in the U.S. Catapult's books, magazines, and classes have made a real impact by focusing our energy on elevating writers with important voices that deserve to be heard. I'm so proud of what our team has accomplished, and I'm thrilled to build upon this foundation with the support of the incredible people at PRHPS."

Jeff Abraham, president of Penguin Random House Publisher Services, said, "This is an all-star group of book people who are publishing some of the most striking and influential writers working today, and we're proud to be partnering with them to do so. Combining Catapult's fiercely independent approach with the supply chain might and sales force breadth of Penguin Random House, we expect to assist them to reach even more readers throughout the world on behalf of their authors."


Media and Movies

Media Heat: Diana Greene Foster on Fresh Air

Today:
CBS This Morning: Robert M. Gates, author of Exercise of Power: American Failures, Successes, and a New Path Forward in the Post-Cold War World (Knopf, $29.95, 9781524731885).

Fresh Air: Diana Greene Foster, author of The Turnaway Study: Ten Years, a Thousand Women, and the Consequences of Having--or Being Denied--an Abortion (Scribner, $27, 9781982141561).

Tomorrow:
Tonight Show: Robin DiAngelo, author of White Fragility: Why It's So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism (Beacon Press, $16, 9780807047415).


TV: This Is Going to Hurt

Ben Whishaw (A Very English Scandal) will star in the BBC and Sister's adaptation of Adam Kay's memoir This Is Going to Hurt, with AMC joining the project as a co-producer in the U.S. and Canada, Deadline reported.

"It's an honest, hilarious, heartbreaking look at the great [NHS] institution and the army of unsung heroes who work there under the most stressful conditions," Whishaw said. "The Covid-19 crisis has now shed even more light on their great work and underlines the necessity to support the NHS and its workers. I look forward to telling this story."

Kay is adapting his book and co-producing through Terrible Productions, while Lucy Forbes (The End of the F***cking World) will serve as lead director on the series.

Dan McDermott, president of original programming and co-president of AMC Studios, said: "As we continue to search for unique voices and uncover authentic and rarely seen worlds, we're proud to once again partner with the remarkable creative team at Sister on this timely series focusing a lens on the societal and cultural issues surrounding the healthcare system."



Books & Authors

Awards: Walter Scott Winner

Christine Dwyer Hickey won the Walter Scott Prize for her novel The Narrow Land. The award celebrates "quality, innovation and durability in the English language, and is open to books first published in the previous year in the U.K., Ireland or the Commonwealth." The winner receives £25,000 (about $31,330) and an original print by the renowned photographer and kinsman of Scott, Walter Dalkeith. Shortlisted authors each receive £1,500 (about $1,880).

The prize judges commented: "It's a risky business, portraying the marriage of two artists, particularly when both the marriage and the art have already been picked over by biographers and art historians. Christine Dwyer Hickey has embraced the risk and created a masterpiece. In The Narrow Land, she reaches into the guts of the marriage of Jo and Edward Hopper and into the heart of the creative impulse itself. And more, much more. Quietly, inexorably, and with pinpoint perception, our winner has brought to dramatic life not just the Hoppers' intimate eruptions but the tensions and complexities in those around them, from two young boys scarred by war to the transient summer crowd at Cape Cod, and though this forensic lens we glimpse the upheavals that were to shake all Americans in the post-war world. With the pull of a shifting sea, The Narrow Land drew the judges back again and again, each reading richer than the one before."


Book Review

Review: Bottled Goods

Bottled Goods by Sophie Van Llewyn (Harper Perennial, $15.99 paperback, 192p., 9780062979520, July 28, 2020)

Bottled Goods, Sophie van Llewyn's first novel, is a curious story of oppression set in 1970s Communist Romania, featuring a young woman pressing against the confines not only of culture and state but of family. Largely realistic, the narrative takes the odd, surprising turn toward magical realism, making the already strange world of heavily monitored government control feel stranger still.

Readers first meet Alina as a girl, then a young single woman, working as a translator and tour guide on the Romanian coast. It is here that she meets her future husband, a history student (later professor) named Liviu. While Alina comes from a background of privilege and property, lost when the Communists took power, Liviu comes from privation, which he does not let her forget. When they marry, "It was not a wedding, but a documentary about customs and traditions that she had been watching, trapped inside the bride's body." Trapped indeed in several ways, she goes to work as an elementary schoolteacher--which she dislikes--but life is tolerable until Liviu's brother defects to France. Then the Secret Services enter their lives and everything changes.

Luckily or unluckily, Alina has an aunt with connections to the government, to whom she turns for help. Aunt Theresa's assistance varies from intervention with the authorities to entanglements with fairies and strigoi (Romanian folk spirits). When Alina gets desperate, the fairies' form of help will upturn her life yet again.

The short chapters in Bottled Goods resemble pieces of flash fiction (van Llewyn's accustomed form). Some unfold in first-person narration, some in third person; some take the form of lists, postcards or how-tos. This formal variation puts readers slightly off-balance, as Alina is continually off-balance, trying to navigate the dizzying rules of her society and increasingly frustrating relationships with her husband and her mother, among others. Van Llewyn's prose, often simple and unadorned, has moments of lovely imagery: "The beach is a conglomerate of eyes glazing her as if she were an apple."

Though not always entirely likable, Alina is an insistent protagonist, pulling readers along relentlessly. The magical elements of her story play well off the mundane and the grotesque in everyday life, with surprisingly charming details throughout. Fluid in form, often stark in style and surrealistic in subject matter, Bottled Goods is a strange and compelling story about freedom of choice and those we choose to keep near to us. --Julia Kastner, librarian and blogger at pagesofjulia

Shelf Talker: An unusual story of 1970s Communist Romania with a thread of magical realism, told in flash-style snippets.


The Bestsellers

Top-Selling Self-Published Titles

The bestselling self-published books last week as compiled by IndieReader.com:

1. Blaze by Chelle Bliss
2. Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert T. Kiyosaki and Sharon L. Lechter
3. Forever (Betrothed #7) by Penelope Sky
4. Alaskan Refuge Christian Suspense Box Set by Alana Terry
5. Waking Up White, and Finding Myself in the Story of Race by Debby Irving
6. Lie (Betrothed #8) by Penelope Sky
7. Winter of Solace (The Executioner Knights Book 5) by Kathryn Le Veque
8. The Change Up by Meghan Quinn
9. Unreported Truths about COVID-19 and Lockdowns: Part 1 by Alex Berenson
10. Loner by Harloe Rae

[Many thanks to IndieReader.com!]


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