Shelf Awareness for Friday, July 24, 2020


Workman Publishing: So Embarrassing: Awkward Moments and How to Get Through Them by Charise Mericle Harper

Candlewick Press: Evelyn del Rey Is Moving Away by Meg Medina, illustrated by Sonia Sanchez

Scholastic Press: Illegal: A Disappeared Novel, Volume 2 by Francisco X. Stork

Tor Books: Rhythm of War (Stormlight Archive, 4) by Brandon Sanderson

Disney-Hyperion: The Mirror Broken Wish (Mirror #1) by Julie C. Dao

Quotation of the Day

'Reckoning with Institutional Racism in Bookselling'

"I hope every non-Black-owned bookstore owner is also reading the same books that are currently bringing in desperately needed income. The Black Lives Matter civil rights movement, ongoing for years, has laid bare the gaping, bloody wound of US racist capitalism and bookstores are not exempt. If white bookstore owners want to be real allies for their communities and for whatever BIPOC employees they have, they'll need to come to terms with their active participation in creating racist spaces, and dismantle the white supremacy they have continued to uphold.

"It's possible the bookstore industry might, finally, be ready to begin this process of dismantling its institutional racism and work toward creating a new narrative for the future. While I continue, perhaps foolishly, to hope for this, I will also continue to dedicate myself to creating literary spaces where my people don't have to rely on those who have always left us behind."

--Angela Maria Spring, owner of Duende District bookstores and an ABA board member, in a LitHub essay, "It's Past Time for the Bookselling Industry to Reckon with Its Institutional Racism"

University of California Press: A People's Guide to the San Francisco Bay Area, Volume 3 by Rachel Brahinsky, Alexander Tarr, Bruce Rinehart


News

Bookish to Open Second Location in Fort Smith, Ark.

Bookish's original location

Bookish: An Indie Shop for Folks Who Read will open a second location in Fort Smith, Ark., at 70 S. 7th Street in the Bakery District. Bookish at the Bakery "will offer customers the ability to relax on the patio with the newest title by their favorite author while sipping a latte from the Fort Smith Coffee Co. There will also be cozy indoor seating for the cold or rainy days," the bookstore noted.

"As a community bookstore, we align perfectly with the vision of the Bakery District," said owner Sara Putman. "We love to sell books, but building community is what makes it work. Our Brunwick Place shop is cozy and quaint, and we love it, but if you've ever been to a sold out author signing you know that it can get a little too cozy. This new location gives us opportunities for growth, and we are very excited about that."

The Bookish flagship store is also expanding its children's area with additional books and programming to encourage youth literacy and help Rivery Valley parents raise lifelong readers. "Bookish has always believed in the role of community bookshops to be an educational hub for the community, and this expansion will certainly allow us to do that," Putman noted.


Milkweed Editions: The Shame by Makenna Goodman


IBD: More Merch; Town Hall Scheduled for August 10

Independent Bookstore Day-branded face masks and mugs are now available, Bookselling This Week reported. With IBD scheduled for August 29, booksellers should place their orders no later than July 29 to ensure that they arrive in time for the event.

In other IBD news, a virtual town hall is scheduled for Monday, August 10, during which IBD program director Samantha Schoech will lead a discussion on best practices, new ideas and how to make the most of the event during the present circumstances. All independent booksellers are welcome to attend, and they can RSVP here.


University of California Press: The Koreas: The Birth of Two Nations Divided by Theodore Jun Yoo


NPD: U.S. E-Book Sales Sparked by Covid Lockdown

E-book sales in the U.S. declined by 5% year-over-year, with 55 million units sold through April 2020, but unit sales in April--the first full month of Covid-19 quarantine--rose by 31% compared to March 2020, according to the NPD Group. All major categories experienced e-book growth in April, compared to the previous month, with adult fiction posting the largest unit gain of 1.8 million units. Reflecting a similar trend, traditionally published e-book sales volume, tracked by NPD PubTrack Digital, declined 6% in the first half of the year, while April 2020 sales were up 31% compared to March, with 4.2 million more units.

"With brick-and-mortar retail bookstores shut down in the U.S. this spring, the e-book format became more popular during the Covid-19 crisis," said Kristen McLean, books industry analyst for NPD. "They're easy to purchase, can be read instantly after being downloaded, and eliminate any concerns over infection or availability."

Sales growth for adult e-books was led by general fiction, which rose 23% percent in April compared to March, according to NPD BookScan. Other e-book categories experiencing strong growth in the same period included romance (22%), adult nonfiction (37%), biography/memoir (40%) and cooking (96%).

Children's e-books declined 12% over the first half of the year, with 5.1 million units sold, though children's fiction grew 78% in April over the previous month and children's nonfiction was up 39%. General fiction had the highest unit growth in April, up 72%, while YA e-book sales grew 10% over 2019. This was driven largely by a double-digit increase in fiction sales, with the science fiction category marking the highest unit-sales gain.


Berkley Books: The Ballad of Hattie Taylor by Susan Anderson


FEP Report: Coronavirus Impact on European Book Market

The Federation of European Publishers's new report, Consequences of the Covid-19 Crisis on the Book Market, offers an analysis of how the book trade has been affected by the pandemic, using information submitted primarily by FEP members during the months of the emergency. FEP president Rudy Vanschoonbeek described the report as "an interim stock-taking exercise which we expect to renew at the end of the year. We hope that in the meanwhile trade will have picked up and that we will be bearers of better news."

Sales in brick-and-mortar bookstores dropped between 75% and 95% in most countries where a lockdown was in place, according to the report. Retail sales in Austria in the second half of March were down 74%, and down 50% in Belgium for the whole month. In France, level 1 bookshops (larger stores and culture superstores) saw a 50% reduction in March sales, and German bookstores lost more than 30% of sales. By the end of March, for the lockdown period, booksellers' sales in Italy had declined 75%, while sales were down 78% in Portugal, 80% in Spain and 85% in Romania.

The report noted that "if anyone was doubting it, the importance of the bookshop sales channel became clear in the impact the closures had on the overall publishers' turnover. Overall sales were down 66% in France between mid-March and mid-April and one of the largest publishing groups recorded a -90% in sales in early April. In Italy, close to one third of publishers estimated a loss of more than 70% of their turnover for March. The whole value chain expected losses of €500 million [about $580 million] per month in Germany, and €200 million [$232.2 million] per month in Spain. The loss of the main channel, plus the restrictions to movement and activities, meant for many publishers a massive reduction in the level of work, and in numerous cases a total cessation."

By April, sales in level 1 bookshops in France were down 96%, and 89% for level 2 bookshops (smaller local bookstores). Retail bookselling lost 47% in value in Germany, while in Italy, by mid-month, sales in bookstores were down 85% on average since the beginning of the lockdown. In Spain and Slovenia, sales dropped nearly 90%. In early May, U.K. booksellers were making on average 18% of their normal sales.

Booksellers who were able to pivot quickly to alternative customer service options (online sales, curbside pickup, free delivery) did better, but in none of the countries where bookstores had to close did online or digital sales compensate fully for the loss of sales in physical bookshops. Even as bookstores began to reopen in many countries during April and May, a "huge damage had been done," according to the report, which said that "physical bookstores suffered a lot everywhere, and so did many small publishers, niche ones often, those which rely the most on bookshop sales."

The FEP report concluded that several "elements of fragility have been introduced or aggravated by the crisis: in all countries, alongside authors, bookshops have suffered the most, and for many of them the future remains uncertain. At the same time, the emergency confirmed the importance of brick-and-mortar bookshop sales for the sector, and its reliance on a healthy and diverse network of retailers.... Targeted support measures would greatly help to address the fragility of the value chain and to prop up the sector's resilience, thus enhancing the chances for a swift and widespread recovery." --Robert Gray


How Bookstores Are Coping: Appointment Shopping, Signage

In Columbia, Mo., Skylark Bookshop is operating by appointment only, reported owner Alex George. Customers are required to wear masks and the store is taking a variety of other precautions, including "quarantining" all books handled by customers for 72 hours. George said the appointments have been very well received, and, apart from those appointments, the store remains closed to customers. 

Technically, Skylark could fully reopen to customers, but George and his team are "taking our cues from our staff and their level of comfort," and currently they feel comfortable about being able to control the environment with such limited numbers of shoppers. The store is still doing curbside pick-up and shipping. George noted that there was a five week stretch in the spring during which the store could not do curbside pick-up and instead did "a ton" of home deliveries. Deliveries were fun, George added, but "exhausting after a long day in the shop."

Skylark Bookshop has adopted a range of safety measures in addition to having everyone wear masks. Staff members are social distancing inside the store as much as possible, and they all have their own pens, telephones and other items to avoid contamination. They are also frequently wiping down surfaces and washing their hands.

For the most part, George continued, Columbia is behind the mask ordinance. There is of course some resistance, which is often disproportionately loud, but most people understand "that the collective good should prevail." And one of the advantages of being open by appointment only is that they have not had to deal with anyone refusing to wear a mask.

The county had an early and quite strict lockdown, which, George said, helped keep numbers down until recently. There are three universities nearby, including the University of Missouri, and students are still due back next month. Said George: "I can't say I'm especially optimistic that things will end well."

On the subject of the widespread protests that began in late May, George said Columbia as a community "went out in force to protest," as did many of the Skylark staff as individuals. And while police advised him to be wary for a couple of days, everything was peaceful.

---

Skylight Books in Los Angeles, Calif., has reopened for browsing. General manager Mary Williams said the store is allowing a limited number of customers in at a time, and there is signage posted at the door and throughout the shop to remind customers to keep their distance. There are physical barriers around the register and other workstations, including plexiglass sneeze guards, relocated fixtures and even a shower curtain.

Skylight has an arts-focused annex located two doors down the block, and Williams reported that they've decided to keep that closed to the public. Though the situation isn't perfect, setting aside the annex as workstation and fulfillment space has been the best way to ensure that staff members can work safely while giving customers enough space to browse safely in the main store.

Williams and her team have moved a selection of books from the art annex to the main store, but they are still losing sales by having the annex closed. She noted that in-store and phone sales make up about half of the store's business right now, with online orders constituting the other half. Foot traffic is obviously not back to pre-pandemic levels, but it does seem like a higher percentage of people who come in end up buying something, or several things. And with masks required across the state, Williams added, resistance has not been an issue. --Alex Mutter


Notes

Image of the Day: Socially Distant Hieroglyphics at Quail Ridge Books

Jill McCorkle signed copies of her novel Hieroglyphics (Algonquin, July 28) at Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh, N.C., socially distant from floor manager Ginger Kautz. The autographing occurred before the store opened, and Kautz says they were smiling under their masks.

Rock Bottom Remainders Support Binc with 'Don't Stand by Me'

Today at 9 a.m. Eastern the Rock Bottom Remainders are releasing their music video "Don't Stand by Me," featuring their version of Ben E. King's classic song "Stand by Me," with lyrics adapted by Dave Barry and members of the band.

The Remainders are encouraging fans to make a donation to the Binc Foundation to support booksellers. The first 50 donations of $750 or more will receive a limited-edition lithograph of the Rock Bottom Remainders created by Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist David Horsey and signed by all members of the band. You can view the music video on the Rock Bottom Remainders Facebook page or here.

"The Remainders, like all authors, love independent bookstores and booksellers, and wanted to use our musical talents to help them," said Barry. "Unfortunately, we don't have any musical talents. But we hope this video will help anyway."

"Binc is thrilled to be connected with such incredible authors and this legendary literary band," said Binc executive director Pamela French. "We can't begin to thank you all enough for choosing to help booksellers and bookstores through this unprecedented time by recording and sharing a new song with all your fans, the book industry, and the whole world. Since March 12, Binc has provided grants to over 2,100 individuals and stores with over $2.5 million in emergency aid. The band's support will allow Binc to help even more booksellers."


Bookseller Twilight Zone Moment: Literati Bookstore

Posted on Facebook this week by Literati Bookstore, Ann Arbor, Mich.: "Since we closed to the public four months ago (!), in the flurry and franticness, much of the store hasn't been updated for browsing, seemingly forever frozen in time. Like these magazines I noticed yesterday. It was eerie to see this random week in March preserved, like a scene from the Twilight Zone. And it makes me wonder what the headlines will be four months from today."


Video: The Resilience of Next Page Books

Next Page Books in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, was featured on KGAN's Pay It Forward series. Co-owner Bart Carithers recalled how the bookshop's resilience was tested after he first heard that the Covid-19 pandemic was hitting Iowa this spring.

"I was out for a walk one night when a friend texted me that the governor announced that retail stores were closing," Carithers said. "For the first time in my life, I almost had a panic attack."

KGAN noted that "from the panic came a plan. Despite not being able to have customers in his store, Carithers could still offer curbside service--and even delivery, driving books to people's homes in his own car."

"There are a lot of neighborhoods in Cedar Rapids I never knew existed, so I've learned this town--even though I grew up here," he said. Although Next Page reopened in late June, it is continuing the delivery service. "Some folks still aren't ready to leave home.... There's no telling what's gonna happen next, but for the time being, I'm doing okay."



Media and Movies

TV: Revelations

The CW network has put in development Revelations (working title), a one-hour drama based on Stephen King's short story "The Revelations of 'Becka Paulson," Deadline reported, adding that the project is from writer Maisie Culver (Last Man Standing), Katie Lovejoy (Dead Inside) and Warner Bros. TV.


Books & Authors

Awards: New England Finalists

Finalists of the 2020 New England Book Awards, sponsored by the New England Independent Booksellers Association, are:

Fiction:
Afterlife by Julia Alvarez (Algonquin Books)
Enter the Aardvark by Jessica Anthony (Little, Brown)
Writers & Lovers by Lily King (Grove Press)
Riot Baby by Tochi Onyebuchi (Tor.com)
Passage West by Rishi Reddi (Ecco)

Nonfiction:
Curry & Kimchi by Unmi Abkin and Roger Taylor (Storey Publishing)
Education of an Idealist by Samantha Power (Dey Street)
This Land Is Their Land by David J. Silverman (Bloomsbury Publishing)
Sigh, Gone by Phuc Tran (Flatiron Books)
Undocumented Americans by Karla Cornejo Villavicencio (One World)

Poetry:
Love and I by Fanny Howe (Graywolf Press)
The Absurd Man: Poems by Major Jackson (Norton)
Dwellers in the House of the Lord by Wesley McNair (David R. Godine, Publisher)
After the Body by Cleopatra Mathis (Sarabande Books)
Geode by Susan Barba (Black Sparrow Press)

Children's:
Saturday by Oge Mora (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers)
Tiny Feet Between the Mountains by Hanna Cha (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers)
Be You! by Peter Reynolds (Orchard Books)
A Whale of a Mistake by Ioana Hobai (Page Street Kids)
Uncle Bobby's Wedding written by Sarah S. Brannen and illustrated by Lucia Soto (little bee books)

Middle Grade:
From the Desk of Zoe Washington by Janae Marks (Katherine Tegen Books)
Chirp by Kate Messner (Bloomsbury Children's Books)
Black Brother, Black Brother by Jewell Parker Rhodes (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers)
Show Me a Sign by Ann Clare LeZotte (Scholastic)
Keep It Together, Keiko Carter by Debbi Michiko Florence (Scholastic)

Young Adult:
The Last True Poets of the Sea by Julia Drake (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers)
Jane Anonymous by Laurie Faria Stolarz (Wednesday Books)
Burn Our Bodies Down by Rory Power (Delacorte Press)
Don't Ask Me Where I'm From by Jennifer de Leon (Atheneum Books for Young Readers/Caitlin Dlouhy Books)
Elatsoe by Darcie Little Badger (Levine Querido)


Reading with... Ellison Cooper

photo: Michael Soo

Ellison Cooper has a Ph.D. in anthropology from UCLA, with a background in archeology, cultural neuroscience, ancient religion, colonialism, and human rights. She has conducted fieldwork in Central America, West Africa, Micronesia, and Western Europe. She has worked as a murder investigator in Washington, D.C., and is a certified K9 Search and Rescue Federal Disaster Worker. She lives in the Bay Area with her husband and son. Cooper is the author of CagedBuried and Cut to the Bone (Minotaur, July 14, 2020).

On your nightstand now: 

They All Fall Down by Rachel Howzell Hall and the short story anthology Both Sides edited by Gabino Iglesias.

Favorite book when you were a child:

This is a tie between two books. First, A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle. I was a total wild-child and Meg's adventures really spoke to me. Her power came from her difference and that was a message I loved. Second, The House with a Clock in its Walls by John Bellairs. There is something very sweet and dark about his writing. It is full of humor and warmth and, in some places, it's actually quite scary. Bellairs was my gateway to more adult horror like King and Poe. Honorable mention to the Three Investigators series.

Your top five authors:

Of all time? This is an impossible question! This list doesn't make any sense but here're the names that popped to mind first: Jorge Luis Borges, James Rollins, Lisa Gardner, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Zora Neale Hurston, Kathy Reichs, Jeffery Deaver... there are too many to keep to five.

Book you've faked reading:

I love Russian fiction (for many years I actually thought I might become a Russian Lit major until I realized I would have to learn to speak Russian), but I have literally tried to read Anna Karenina 20 times and I just can't make it through the damn thing. I'm sorry, Leo.

Book you're an evangelist for:

Labyrinths by Borges. These short stories capture everything I love about the form and are a sort of dry magical realism that gives me the warm fuzzies.

My favorite story is "Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius," a mystery/sci-fi thing of beauty that basically brings into question the way that reality is (or isn't) manifest and what role human consciousness plays in the creation of our reality. There is a magic mirror, an ever-changing encyclopedia, a fantasy world and a linguistic/philosophical treatise, all in one relatively short piece of fiction. This is exactly the kind of short story I would write if I were a raging, magical genius.

Book you've bought for the cover:

Chuck Wendig's Blackbirds.

Book you hid from your parents:

Fortunately, I had the kind of parent that never required hiding a book. If it had words on a page, I was allowed to read it. (Instead, ask me about my failed plot to somehow hide a TV under my bed....) 

Book that changed your life:

Lisa Gardner's Live to Tell. Obviously, it is a top-notch thriller but, for some reason I don't entirely understand, after I finished reading this book, I said to myself, "I want to try and write a thriller too!" That was the first time I really contemplated what it would take to become a writer.

Favorite line from a book:

"How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world." --Anne Frank

Five books you'll never part with:

The Complete Poems of Carl Sandburg; So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo; Emile Durkheim's Elementary Forms of Religious Life; my illustrated first-edition copy of Museum of Antiquity by Yaggy and Haines; and Of Wonders and Wise Men by Terry Rugeley (about the Caste War in the Yucatan).

Book you most want to read again for the first time:

The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov. With a host of unforgettable characters (including Behemoth, a hard-drinking devilish black cat), this book is raucous, disconcerting, hysterical, genuinely moving and creepy--sometimes all at once. It reminds me of the wave of noirish, urban fantasy coming out lately, a gritty and dark wild ride, but also exploring some intense and beautiful topics such as the search for truth and intellectual courage.


Book Review

Review: The Happily Ever After: A Memoir of an Unlikely Romance Novelist

The Happily Ever After: A Memoir of an Unlikely Romance Novelist by Avi Steinberg (Nan A. Talese/Doubleday, $26.95 hardcover, 272p., 9780385540254, August 11, 2020)

Following a divorce, Avi Steinberg (Running the Books; The Lost Book of Mormon) enters the realm of the romance novel, hoping to learn how to write a few commercially successful books and, perhaps more importantly, to solve his own real-life romantic challenges. In his quest, Steinberg hangs out with readers, authors, publishers and cover model CJ Hollenbach (so much more than "Ohio's Response to Fabio"), attends conferences, joins a writing group and eventually lands a multibook contract under the pen name Dana Becker. These adventures he documents in The Happily Ever After: A Memoir of an Unlikely Romance Novelist.

Part personal memoir, part travelogue and part social and literary criticism, The Happily Ever After questions the societal tendency to look down on romance novels (and to apologize for reading them), examines romance's domination of the commercial book market, reconsiders classics and the author's own life through a romance lens, and explores the numerous subgenres of this much-loved and much-reviled field. Steinberg makes observations about gender roles and identities not only within romance novels but throughout American society. "The sentimental tropes of romance are so deeply embedded in our culture, we take them for granted," making his comments relevant for everyone.

Entering as a romance newbie, Steinberg learns (and outlines for readers) the rules of the genre, including the necessity for "an emotionally satisfying and optimistic ending," or Happily Ever After (HEA, in Romancelandia parlance). He concludes that "romance is America's national literature: not because it is universally read or admired but because it is universally obsessed over," and that Scheherazade was a romance author--bound to the whims of her audience, delivering rapidly and on demand.

Appropriately, Steinberg's memoir has a generally upbeat cast, even during low points and through the narrator's struggles with sincere emotions ("you go for a laugh when you could say something real," one of his writing groupmates tells him; he calls himself "a depressed person who is an optimist at heart"). Also appropriately, the book concludes with the author's own romance and bona fide HEA.

By no means is this memoir just for fans of the romance genre, although those readers will of course be tickled by his appreciative study. Steinberg's personal story will suit any reader curious about the book industry, or who simply appreciates quirky personalities. Aspiring writers may find tips and tricks of special interest, but this is no how-to; rather, it's an endearingly candid exploration of books, subculture and love itself. --Julia Kastner, librarian and blogger at pagesofjulia

Shelf Talker: A romantically challenged writer treats the romance novel as career aspiration and life coach, with endearing and revealing results.


Deeper Understanding

Robert Gray: 'It Still Goes Back to Doing What You Stand For'

"I want to start off with full disclosure," said writer and editor Anitra Budd to introduce Tuesday's Heartland Summer Education series Zoom event, Being an Ally in Your Community. "When moderating this panel was brought to me, the very first terrified thought I had was, I don't want to be in a situation where I see a row of faces looking at me all saying, 'So, Anitra, racism, how do we solve it? Let's talk.' I don't want that for me. I don't want that for anyone. I don't want that for any of our wonderful panelists here. I don't have all the answers. They don't have all the answers, so if you came here looking for the answer--capital A--just know that it's not coming."

Anitra Budd

Presented by the Great Lakes Independent Booksellers Association and the Midwest Independent Booksellers Association, the education session featured panelists Janet Webster Jones and Alyson Turner of Source Booksellers in Detroit, Mich., Kathy Burnette of Brain Lair Books in South Bend, Ind., and Angela Schwesnedl of Moon Palace Books in Minneapolis, Minn.

The engaging discussion ranged across many aspects of the current disruption to "business as usual" engendered by the Covid-19 pandemic and nationwide protest movement. Of course, an hour's worth of incisive dialogue (check out the session video here) can't be summarized in a few hundred words, but this sampling offers a compelling glimpse at the pivotal role indie booksellers are playing in their communities right now.

Moon Palace's Schwesnedl said she tries to "remember that whatever I do or figure out, I leave room to make mistakes. And it hasn't always been the same for me as a business owner from when we started to where we are now. But one of the things I really try and do is always think about access to power, and who's got that access and what can I do to sort of change who has that access."

Alyson Turner and Janet Webster Jones

Source Booksellers' Jones observed: "I really think about the store as well-embedded into the community and the community participants are all the people who ever come to the store, who reach out to us, who we reach out to. I think that our practice has been that we are an open book, open store, open mind, and that we are in touch with people of all varieties and ideas about life."

Highlighting several initiatives Brain Lair Books has developed, Burnette stressed that "my community needs to read about more people. They need to have a more global outlook. I'm in the middle of Indiana. People don't wear masks around us. They believe it's a hoax or political thing. And I want to counter that.... So, when they come in the store, they know what to expect. What's on the walls, what's on the shelves and what we're going to talk about. Having a mission just kind of informs the people and yourself this is what I stand for and this is what I believe in."

Angela Schwesnedl

Moon Palace is "a general-interest neighborhood bookstore and if we look like we're leftist or that we're community run or that we're mission driven, it's because my neighborhood and my community are that way and our store reflects that," said Schwesnedl, who also noted "how proud I am of my community and the protests. As hard as it is for a lot of people, it was a really beautiful experience for me to look out and see so many of my customers changing the world; for me to be able to say, 'I know what kind of poetry they read,' and feel so proud. I'd love for people to have that warm feeling for each other that I've got for them, the neighborhood."

"Freedom is a constant struggle," Source Booksellers' Turner said. "You need new information. Freedom is the ability to make plans for yourself, and so that's something that we do every day. Everything that we read or learn should be towards that goal.... And I think just to have the same joy in bookselling for all topics, really, including sensitive ones."

Kathy Burnette

For Burnette, "it still goes back to doing what you stand for. Why did you open your bookstore? What are you trying to do with your bookstore? How are you trying to contribute? That tells you what you need to do.... I think if you don't feel qualified to talk about race, you just need to educate yourself. You're bookseller anyway, right? The only way you sell books as an independent bookstore is you read the books or know somebody who's read the books. You have to have a knowledge of the books."

Jones added: "I think that the store will tell you what to do and the customers will tell you what to do.... It's very important to think action. We book people tend to be thinkers, thinkers, thinkers.... We've got to take action on behalf of our books, on behalf of our community, on behalf of people that come to us and those we reach out to."

Burnette expressed optimism that bookselling "is going to be stronger. For people who were able to pivot when they had to close their stores and go online or when the protests happened outside their window, if you were able to survive and actually kind of thrive during this time, I think it bodes well. And we are becoming more specific, looking at different books, what you're putting out there.... That's what booksellers need to bring to the table. It's not just 'here's this book for you,' but let's talk about some ideas of what we do with this book in our community after we've read it."

--Robert Gray, editor

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