Shelf Awareness for Monday, July 13, 2020

Holiday House: Ros Demir Is Not the One by Leyla Brittan

HarperAlley: I Shall Never Fall In Love by Hari Conner

W. W. Norton & Company to Sell and Distribute Yale University Press and Harvard University Press

Clarion Books: The Man Who Didn't Like Animals by Deborah Underwood, Illlustrated by LeUyen Pham

Holiday House: Bye Forever, I Guess by Jodi Meadows and Team Canteen 1: Rocky Road by Amalie Jahn

Wednesday Books: Dust by Alison Stine


International Update: Gardners Reopening Bertrams Warehouse; German Book Sales Rally

Gardners will reopen the Bertrams warehouse in Norwich after buying the assets of the shuttered company, which went into administration last month. The Bookseller reported that Gardners purchased the assets of Bertram Trading Limited, which includes the assets of Bertram Books, Bertrams Library Services, and Dawson Books--"including the physical building for five years on the lease and some machinery–though it has not bought the trading company and will not trade in Norwich as Bertrams using its name or brand."

The move would give Gardners "extra warehouse capacity in addition to the Eastbourne operation and allow it to continue to expand its range and stockholding," the Bookseller reported, adding that publishers were "still advised to petition the administrator for the payment of their debts; it is also as yet unclear how many of the staff made redundant will be taken on by Gardners, as it works to reopen the operation."

Nigel Wyman, head of business development at Gardners, commented: "We strongly believe this will further enhance the opportunity to work even closer with retailers and publishers to grow sales in all channels at home and abroad in these very changing and varied times.

"For our suppliers and customers there will be little visible operational change and all will continue to interact, communicate and order with their established Gardners contacts and departments from the Eastbourne operation as they do now.... We have been looking to expand for some time and ultimately, by having an additional warehouse in Norwich, this gives us the capacity, especially going into Q4."

Wyman added that the main driver behind the acquisition "was to enable us to support the industry over the coming six months and beyond and make sure we have the stock range and availability to support booksellers, whether they're an independent or an online seller or any type of bookseller really.... This is a positive message: it is to support that growth and to support the industry."


As part of the German government's €1 billion (about $1.13 billion) "Neustart Kultur" (New Start Culture) stimulus package, the Frankfurt Book Fair is receiving €4 million ($4.52 million), which will be used to enable as many exhibitors to take part in the fair, to be held October 14-18, as well as expand digital offerings to allow publishers to present books and participate in the fair virtually and expand use of the Frankfurt Rights digital platform. Fair organizers said they will use some of the money to reduce exhibitor booth fees 20%-50%, depending on booth size.

German Minister of State and Culture Commissioner Monika Grütters said, "The publishing and book industry has been greatly impacted by the corona crisis. I am therefore very pleased that the world's largest book fair will take place despite the difficult conditions--a development we want to support. In particular, small and midsized publishers, who contribute so much to Germany's incomparable literary diversity, will benefit from this funding. And by promoting the fair's digitalisation, we are helping ensure that the global trading in rights can take place despite the pandemic. Frankfurter Buchmesse is the hub of our multifaceted publishing landscape and vibrant book culture. I view our financial assistance as a signal of confidence to the entire industry."

Fair director Juergen Boos thanked Grütters for "her tireless efforts on behalf of the book and publishing industry. Frankfurter Buchmesse is committed to enabling international exchange and supporting the publishing and creative industries. During the pandemic, we want to make face-to-face meetings possible at the physical fair, while also giving our customers and community the opportunity to meet and conduct business digitally. We are very pleased that we can pass on this generous financial support to our customers."


At the height of the Covid-19 lockdown in Germany, from March 23 to April 19, when bookstores were closed in all German states except Berlin and Saxony-Anhalt, sales fell 65.7% compared to the same period in 2019, according to statistics in a report "The Book in Time of Corona: Perspectives on the Market," released by the Börsenverein, the German book trade association, last week and reported on by Publishing Perspectives.

Between March and May, the day with the highest sales was March 17, shortly before the store shutdown, when "people were still stocking up on books." When stores reopened, sales at bricks-and-mortar bookstores had fallen by 21.1% from January to mid-April, while sales across all channels were down 14.9%. Since the reopenings, the gap in sales has steadily declined so that by the end of June, for the first six months compared to the first half of 2019, they were down "only" 8.3% over all sales channels and down 13.9% for bookstores.

While many categories showed significant declines in sales--particularly travel, with sales down almost a third--sales of children's and YA books in the first half of 2020 rose 3.6%.

Börsenverein chair Karin Schmidt-Friderichs commented: "Although the coronavirus pandemic has hit the book industry hard economically, it has also released great energy. Staff in bookstores and publishing houses have effectively tackled the challenge, launching delivery services and online events with great creativity.

"The book trade also benefited from the fact that it has long been well positioned with its online shops. German bookstores and publishers are thus proving to be reliable partners for the supply of books."

A survey of publishers conducted at the beginning of June by the Börsenverein found that 28.2% said the pandemic has had no impact on their book programs. Among the other responondents, however, 53.1% said some titles are being postponed from this year to next; 35.6% said some titles are being cancelled; 33.9% said some spring 2020 titles have been postponed to the fall; 19.8% said they are buying fewer translations; 10.2% said some titles are being printed first digitally and later in print; and 9% said that some titles that had been planned to appear in print were being published only digitally.

Concerning these results, Schmidt-Friderichs said, "Many publishers have been forced to postpone or cancel new publications altogether due to the lack of marketing opportunities--a large proportion of these being titles by unknown authors and also niche titles. This sends out an alarm signal as it endangers the literary and cultural diversity of our society."

 Treasure Books, Inc.: There's Treasure Inside by Jon Collins-Black

Three Bookshop Owners/Authors Unite for Virtual Event

Three authors who also own bookstores are holding a virtual event called "Bookshop Authors Unite!" on Thursday, July 23, at 7 p.m. Eastern to support the Book Industry Charitable Foundation (Binc).

The authors are Jeff Kinney, owner of An Unlikely Story, Plainville, Mass., Ann Patchett, owner of Parnassus Books, Nashville, Tenn., and Peter H. Reynolds, owner of the Blue Bunny Bookstore, Dedham, Mass.

The three will share what "led each of them to take a leap of faith and invest in their own bookstores and how the stores have changed their lives and work." They'll also talk about the challenges of bookselling during the coronavirus pandemic and about the important work that Binc does supporting stores and booksellers in need. Jeff Kinney will moderate.

Staff members from all three bookstores have been working together to arrange the details and promote the event. Registration is open to the public through any one of the three bookstores' Facebook pages and websites. There is no charge to attend, but participants will be encouraged to make a donation to Binc. Other booksellers, industry professionals, educators and librarians, as well as fans of the authors, are encouraged to join the event.

Binc executive director Pamela French said, "We are incredibly grateful to these friends of Binc, Ann Patchett, Jeff Kinney, and Peter H. Reynolds, and all those organizing the Bookshop Authors Unite! conversation. We already know that it's sure to be an enlightening, funny and informative discussion. These bestselling authors are in a unique position to understand Binc's mission, being bookstore owners themselves. And we couldn't be more grateful for their continued and ongoing support of Binc and their dedication to our shared mission of helping booksellers and bookstores thrive."

Help a Bookseller, Change a Life: Give today to the Book Industry Charitable Foundation!

Bookstore Boot Camp to Take Place in Person and Virtually

Bookstore Boot Camp graduates in March 2020, with Mark Kaufman and Donna Paz Kaufman.

Owning a Bookstore: The Workshop Retreat, aka Bookstore Boot Camp, will take place August 16-18 on Amelia Island, Fla., both online and in person. The workshop is available via Zoom, and a limited number of participants may attend in person, since there is "ample space to safely maintain comfortable distances."

Co-sponsored by the American Booksellers Association, the workshop is offered twice a year and is facilitated by Donna Paz Kaufman and Mark Kaufman of the Bookstore Training Group of Paz & Associates along with a host of book industry professionals. The program takes place at Story & Song Bookstore Bistro.

Workshop registrants will learn best practices of successful booksellers--the nuts and bolts of daily operations--for managing a successful and sustainable independent bookstore. The workshop will include key topics such as store design, fixturing and merchandising; what a bookstore computerized management system should do to help run and operate the business; options for selecting the opening inventory, buying and inventory management; branding, publisher co-op, marketing and events, hiring and staff training, and more.

For details, click here or call 904-277-2664.

BAM Closing Hixson, Tenn., Store

Books-A-Million is closing its store in Hixson, Tenn., by the end of January, when its lease ends, the Chattanooga Times Free Press reported. A going-out-of-business sale has already begun.

BAM v-p of marketing Melanie Smith told the newspaper that sales were "good" at the location, but, "We review our real estate portfolio. It's an ongoing thing based on demand. We have to make tough decisions. This was one."

BAM has another Chattanooga-area store, in Cleveland, Tenn.

BAM opened at the strip center 25 years ago and was co-anchor with Toys 'R' Us, but Toys 'R' Us closed in 2015 and was replaced by a Bargain Hunt store.

Inner Traditions Launches Sacred Planet Books

Richard Grossinger

Inner Traditions International has launched Sacred Planet Books, which will be headed by Richard Grossinger, founder and former publisher of North Atlantic Books, who also has a Ph.D. in ecological anthropology and has written more than 30 books. Sacred Planet Books plans to publish titles on cosmology, alchemy, energy work, and consciousness studies while also emphasizing other urgent topics, including climate, permaculture, biological transmutation, viral transmission, meta-politics and modern astrology.

Sacred Planet Books's first titles, due out in October, are The Alchemy of Stones by crystal author Robert Simmons and The Corona Transmissions: Alternatives for Engaging with Covid-19--from the Physical to the Metaphysical, with contributions from Zoe and Rob Breszny, Sherri Mitchell, Matthew Wood, Anabel Lee, and Dr Gabriela Cousens.

Inner Traditions publisher Ehud Sperling called Richard Grossinger "a treasure. His depth of knowledge and commitment to the body, mind, spirit space is truly extraordinary. We are delighted to have Richard join the Inner Traditions editorial board and launch his curated list of books under the Sacred Planet banner."

Obituary Note: Marshall Taylor

Marshall Taylor, longtime owner and founder of the Aframerican Bookstore in Omaha, Neb., died on July 7 at age 83, the Omaha World-Herald reported.

After a career in the Air Force, Taylor and a business partner opened two hair and beauty supply shops. In one of the locations, Taylor created a small bookstore in the front that eventually took the name Aframerican Bookstore and was officially founded in 1990.

Taylor's future wife, Annlattea "Annette" Green-Taylor, worked as a nail technician and helped Taylor with the books. As the paper wrote, "They fell for each other and grew the book business, turning the old salon into a classroom where Taylor would teach history--the kind he said was left out of history books."

Green-Taylor said, "My husband always has been into books, into knowledge. You could tell because he was a walking encyclopedia. He always was a reader."

Besides books, the Aframerican Bookstore has also offered T-shirts, posters, art, shea butter lotion and "a cologne named for the first black president, Barack Obama."

The store has also been a community hub for "meetings and unofficial social work, healing and therapy," a place that Green-Taylor said has an atmosphere alive with the spirit of "ancestors."

The paper added, "Taylor did not shy away from difficult subjects and was passionate about African and African American history, the legacy of racism and unjust systems. But his approach was to educate. In his shop, a seeker could find in him a patient and hospitable host who drew a line on one subject--himself.

"He was private and wanted to keep the lens on the larger issues of the day when news reporters came calling. But he had dreamed about writing his own story in his own way."

Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the Taylors had to close the bookstore temporarily in March. It hasn't reopened but has benefited from widespread interest in anti-racist books, particularly after being on a black-owned business list. Taylor-Green plans to continue online operations until reopening the store "when she feels that it's safe."


Image of the Day: Then and Now

A year ago, The Golden Notebook Bookstore, Woodstock, N.Y., celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Woodstock Festival (above, left) with a banner on the side of the store featuring Henry Diltz's iconic photograph of Grace Slick from Michael Lang's Woodstock: 3 Days of Peace and Music.

Now, in the summer of 2020, the Golden Notebook has slightly redesigned the banner to encourage the wearing of masks in the fight against Covid-19 (above, right). Masks  are required in the bookstore and in most businesses in town.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Bruce Feiler on Good Morning America

The Talk: Elaine Welteroth, author of More Than Enough: Claiming Space for Who You Are (No Matter What They Say) (Penguin Books, $17, 9780525561613).

Good Morning America: Bruce Feiler, author of Life Is in the Transitions: Mastering Change at Any Age (Penguin Press, $28, 9781594206825).

Tonight Show: Colin Jost, author of A Very Punchable Face: A Memoir (Crown, $27, 9781101906323).

Movies: Never Caught

Provenance Films has optioned Erica Armstrong Dunbar's 2017 book Never Caught: The Washingtons' Relentless Pursuit of Their Runaway Slave, Ona Judge, a National Book Award Finalist in Nonfiction, for a feature film, Deadline reported. LaToya Morgan (The Walking Dead, Into the Badlands, Shameless) will adapt the screenplay.

Lisa Ellis, managing partner of Provenance Ventures, said Dunbar's "impeccably researched, masterfully written, and critically acclaimed work tells the true story of how one woman risked everything for her freedom from one of America's most famous founding fathers. At Provenance Films, we are drawn to thought-provoking stories that further the national and global conversations on race, gender, history, and perspective, and look to collaborate with poignant storytellers and creators who not only aim to beautifully portray these narratives on screen, but also provide untold truths to history, inclusive opportunities, and provide representation for others throughout every step of the creative process. Dunbar's book reminded me of how history has not been told in its entirety. We have truly assembled a powerful team with LaToya Morgan now onboard to further adapt this history for a cinematic audience which will continue to share Ona Judge's legacy for future generations on screen."

Books & Authors

Awards: Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Winner

Matthew Dooley's Flake became the first graphic novel to win the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize for Comic Fiction, "celebrating the novels that have really made people laugh in the past year." Dooley receives a jeroboam of Bollinger Special Cuvée, a case of Bollinger La Grande Année and a complete set of the Everyman's Library Wodehouse.

"Usually, the winner of the Wodehouse is also presented at the Hay festival with a pig named after their winning title," the Guardian noted, "but organizers said that 'with the current situation not allowing for a physical pig,' Dooley has drawn his own interpretation of what might have been."

Judge and publisher David Campbell said, "We had none of us, I think, expected a graphic novel to win, but we were all captivated by Flake." Judge Sindhu Vee called the book "a rare joy: a laugh out loud story with characters you want to meet again and again."

Noting that he was "surprised, overwhelmed and elated" by the news, Dooley said: "Flake was published on April 2, amidst a huge, bewildering global crisis. It's been a very strange experience. Winning the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse prize means it's just got stranger in the best possible way. Now, how on earth do you chill a bottle of champagne that big...?"

Book Review

Review: The Tunnel

The Tunnel by A.B. Yehoshua, trans. by Stuart Schoffman (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $24 hardcover, 336p., 9781328622631, August 4, 2020)

The Tunnel, a novel by venerable Israeli author A.B. Yehoshua (Friendly Fire; The Retrospective), is a gentle fable about aging, marital love and understanding between two peoples in conflict.

The story of Zvi Luria begins with an ominous medical report, as he approaches age 73, five years retired from his position as senior engineer with the Israel Roads Authority. Zvi's neurologist informs him that an MRI has revealed the beginning of frontal lobe atrophy, indicating mild degeneration--perhaps explaining his inability to recall first names, or embarrassing episodes like the time he picks up the wrong child at his grandson's Tel Aviv kindergarten. Zvi's wife, Dina, a prominent pediatrician, encourages him to seek out a part-time job with his former employer, hoping that may slow his cognitive decline.

Zvi lands a position as an unpaid assistant to Asael Maimoni, a young engineer whose father, now dying of cancer, once served as Zvi's legal adviser. Zvi then becomes involved in an unusual project--the construction of a secret army road across the massive Ramon Crater in Israel's Negev Desert. As part of the design, Asael proposes, to a skeptical Zvi, a tunnel. It will allow a Palestinian family, exiled from their village, to continue to reside atop a hill that also features archeological ruins dating from the third century B.C.E., a symbol of the "human predicament arising from two nations living in the same homeland."

The machinations that lead to the design of a "modest, homey tunnel," and bring Zvi and Asael to the project's end, are less interesting than is Yehoshua's wry portrait of a proud, accomplished man who's been given a glimpse of his destiny, but who nonetheless is determined to live out his remaining days in dignity and with purpose. His depiction of the Lurias' marriage of nearly 50 years is affectionate but unsentimental, and laced with humor--like the scene where Zvi almost ends up onstage during a performance of the opera Romeo and Juliet--grounded in the bemused tenderness that's a feature of any long-lasting relationship.

In a country that's riven by conflict, Yehoshua's depiction of the interactions between the Israeli civil servants and the Palestinian family at least hints at the possibility of reconciliation, if not full-fledged peace. "Don't dismiss fantasies that bring hope," Asael reminds his elder colleague. Zvi, a man who prided himself during his long career on not learning anything about the personal lives of his co-workers, also undergoes a sort of emotional transformation that's both realistic and touching. In Yehoshua's capable hands, what could have been a depressing account of decline instead becomes one that chooses optimism over despair. --Harvey Freedenberg, freelance reviewer

Shelf Talker: A.B. Yehoshua delivers a tenderhearted story of an aging Israeli engineer involved in an improbable road-building project as he fights against his failing memory.

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