Shelf Awareness for Tuesday, December 15, 2020


Flatiron Books: White Horse by Erika T. Wurth

Holiday House: Owl and Penguin (I Like to Read Comics) by Vikram Madan; Noodleheads Take it Easy by Tedd Arnold, Martha Hamilton, and Mitch Weiss

Blackstone Publishing: Ezra Exposed by Amy E. Feldman

Clavis: Fall Preview

Amulet Books: Marya Khan and the Incredible Henna Party (Marya Khan #1) by Saadia Faruqi, illustrated by Ani Bushry

Charlesbridge Publishing: Abuelita and I Make Flan by Adriana Hernández Bergstrom; Brand-New Bubbe by Sarah Aronson, illustrated by Ariel Landy

Shadow Mountain: To Capture His Heart (Proper Romance Victorian) by Nancy Campbell Allen

Quotation of the Day

Buy Books & 'Be a Storybook Hero'

"Once upon a time, at the end of a harrowing year, a way to be a storybook hero presented itself to ordinary mortals in the midst of a dangerous shopping season: Buy books.

"Call your local bookshop--or check the store's website--and order books for everyone on your list. Then pick up your order curbside and head home with a feeling of peace and accomplishment, and the knowledge that you've helped to make the world a better place without endangering yourself or anyone else. Because the only way for bookstores to survive is for people to find a way to shop there, even as the coronavirus continues to surge."

--Author Margaret Renkl in a New York Times op-ed piece headlined "Books Are Really Easy to Wrap"

University of California Press: Dictee (Second Edition, Reissue, Restored);  Exilee and Temps Morts: Selected Works (First Edition, Reissue) by Theresa Hak Kyung Cha


News

AAP Sales: 7.3% Jump in October; Trade Up 2.4%

Reflecting another full month when much of the country was under stay-at-home orders or business was otherwise limited because of the Covid-19 pandemic, total net book sales in October in the U.S. rose 7.3%, to $1.215 billion, compared to October 2019, representing sales of 1,354 publishers and distributed clients as reported to the Association of American Publishers. It was the third rise in sales this year since February, following August's 0.3% gain and September's 14.6% jump. For the year to date, total net book sales were down 1%, to $12.4 billion.

Total trade sales rose 2.4%, to $960.6 million, in October and were up 6.9%, to $6.9 billion for the year to date. E-book sales jumped 20.4%, to $54 million, in October, and downloadable audio was up 14.3%, to $283.3 million.

Sales by category in October 2020 compared to October 2019:


Blair: A Girlhood: Letter to My Transgender Daughter by Carolyn Hays


Amid Covid Surge, More Bookstores Close Temporarily

As Covid-19 cases spike across the country, an increasing number of independent bookstores have had to close temporarily or adjust operations due to staff members testing positive for the coronavirus.

After learning last week that an employee tested positive for Covid-19, Trident Booksellers & Cafe in Boston, Mass., found out that other staff members who worked on December 2 and December 3 have tested positive for the virus. The store has been closed for the past week as the space undergoes a thorough cleaning and more booksellers and staff await test results.

In a message to customers explaining what's going on, Trident v-p and manager Courtney Flynn noted this has happened despite mask wearing, temperature taking, sneeze guards and a multitude of other precautions, and presents a very difficult problem "in the midst of an already challenging holiday season."

For the remainder of the holiday season, Trident is adjusting operations to help keep staff and customers better protected. Indoor dining will be closed for the foreseeable future, the team will set up bookseller workstations in the dining room to allow for better social distancing and overall capacity will be decreased. Store hours may also be adjusted going forward.

In Ithaca, N.Y., Odyssey Bookstore has had a staff member test positive for the coronavirus. That employee, who worked at the store Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday of last week, is in isolation and any close contacts are in quarantine. Owner Laura Larson has decided to close the store while awaiting further instructions from the health department. She hopes to reopen "as soon as we can do so safely--for you and for our staff."

E. Shaver, Bookseller in Savannah, Ga., has closed temporarily after a confirmed Covid-19 case at an attached tea shop. All bookstore staff members have been tested, and while the team is still waiting for some test results, everything has returned negative so far. Once the entire staff is cleared, the plan is to reopen for in-store browsing in a safe way. In the meantime, the shop has also been thoroughly cleaned.

Last week, Bank Square Books in Mystic, Conn., and its holiday pop-up Title IX closed temporarily after a staff member tested positive. Following professional deep cleanings and negative test results for the staff, Bank Square Books resumed its regular holiday hours on Sunday, while Title IX will reopen on December 17.


Graphic Mundi - Psu Press: Hakim's Odyssey by Fabien Toulme and Hanna Chute


Analog Books Opens in Lethbridge, Alberta

Analog Books has opened in Lethbridge, Alberta. Because of Covid-19 restrictions, the shop's debut was necessarily "to much less fanfare than originally planned," co-owner bookseller Scott Warris said. "We are pleased to welcome people after nearly a year of major renovations, preparations and delays. We are a family-owned store and will be offering a safe, comfortable community space for booklovers. It was designed to be easily converted into a space for book-related events once we are allowed to host them. Meanwhile, the response in the community has been overwhelming and we're looking forward to many years of serving it."

Launching an independent bookshop is always challenging, but the pandemic upped the ante considerably. The Lethbridge Herald reported that at the beginning of this year, Warris, his wife, Penny, daughter Willow and family cat Hugo "were on their way to start their dream of opening Analog Books Inc., leaving their life behind in the Crowsnest Pass to start from scratch in Lethbridge."

"About four years ago, we were spending more time in Lethbridge because we really liked Lethbridge, and with our daughter starting high school, we wanted her to start here and that is when we decided to open a bookstore in downtown," he said. "We have always loved bookstores and travelling, and we went into bookstores all around the world to see the different types and we liked the idea of a warm, comfortable, safe space which a lot of bookstores provide in their community and we thought that it would be nice to have in Lethbridge."

They closed on the retail space in March, just as the pandemic hit. "We ended up spending the whole summer renovating the building, and that was maybe an advantage that came out of the pandemic," Warris noted. "It gave us more time to focus on the details. We had originally hoped to open in September, but it was delayed and finally we came ready to go and got the details on how to operate with the new restrictions a few weeks ago."

He described the community's response thus far as "phenomenal," adding that extra staff was hired "almost immediately to help us out, along with our daughter helping us out. But the support and encouragement from the community has been great and we feel good that we were right, that there was a demand for a space like this in Lethbridge."


Ebony Magazine Publishing: Black Hollywood: Reimagining Iconic Movie Moments by Carell Augustus


Hanna Otero Named Publisher of Gibbs Smith's Trade Division

Hanna Otero

Hanna Otero has been named publisher for the trade division at Gibbs Smith Publisher. She joined the company in October as director of publishing and sales for the Flying Frog Division. Before that, she was publisher at Lonely Planet Kids and earlier worked for 15 years at Barnes & Noble in a variety of roles, including as the founder of the company's proprietary educational publishing imprint, FlashKids, and as editorial director of Sterling Children's Books.

Otero said, "I look forward to continuing to grow Flying Frog's catalog of accessible, affordable books for young readers, as well as developing the Gibbs Smith imprint in multiple categories. While this is an unprecedented time for publishing in many ways, I believe there's huge opportunity for smart, nimble businesses to forge new ground."

At the same time, Suzanne Gibbs Taylor is expanding her role of chief creative officer for all book and gift imprints. Taylor joined Gibbs Smith in 1998 as an editor and was named publisher in 2015. During her tenure, she expanded the company's home reference and cooking categories and also developed the BabyLit line of primers based on classic literature, the 101 Things cookbooks series, Pocket Guides, and a range of gift offerings. Most recently she led the creation and development of the new gift imprint, Spumoni Studio.

Taylor said, "We are excited to have Hanna expand her role and utilize her strength and experience in children's publishing. Her exceptional combination of creativity and sales acumen is a perfect match for Gibbs Smith and its unique offerings and business model. Booksellers can be assured that they can expect an even higher level of quality products. With Hanna and myself as the dynamic duo leading our remarkable team of creatives, we anticipate some amazing growth opportunities."


Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group's Marketing Department Restructured

The Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group's marketing department has been restructured so that each imprint will have its own dedicated marketing director and team, and each marketer will spearhead creative campaigns for their titles and authors, regardless of format. The imprint teams will be supported by the new Marketing Operations group, in charge of creative services; online optimization; consumer insights; inclusive outreach; backlist development; and platform growth.

In announcing the changes, Kristin L. Fassler, senior v-p, director, integrated marketing strategy, Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, said that the new departmental structure will augment the marketing staff's "marketing skills and help us reach the widest possible audience of readers. All of us recognize the utility of consumer insights and data when it comes to connecting to and engaging with readers. Our new structure will allow us to seize on this data and identify marketplace opportunities for our authors and their books, to pivot campaigns when necessary, to market in real time, to refine online optimization and title discovery, and to strengthen communities for our books and authors via our growing social platforms."

Among staff changes:

Lauren Weber has been promoted to director of marketing for Doubleday. She has been with Doubleday for eight years.

Jess Deitcher has been promoted to director of marketing for Vintage Anchor. She has been with Vintage Anchor for five years.

In the new marketing operations group:

Judy Jacoby is now v-p and director, creative marketing and advertising services. Jacoby is a longtime member of the Doubleday marketing team.

Laura Crisp has been promoted to executive director of marketing operations.

Jennifer Olsen has been promoted to senior director, metadata & copy.

Christine Hung is now executive director of audience development, joining from the Consumer Marketing & Development Group. Hung will lead a new team in charge of multicultural marketing, backlist growth, platform development and consumer insights.


Obituary Note: Anthony Veasna So

Anthony Veasna So
(photo: Chris Sackes)

Anthony Veasna So, whose debut book, Afterparties, will be published by Ecco in August, died on December 8 at age 28.

Afterparties has already received praise from Bryan Washington, Brit Bennett, George Saunders, Dana Spiotta and Mary Karr, among others. His story "Three Women of Chuck's Donuts" appeared in the New Yorker this past February, and other work has appeared or is forthcoming in n+1, Granta and ZYZZYVA. His comics have appeared in Hobart and Nashville Review. He was most recently at work on a novel about three Khmer-American cousins--a pansexual rapper, a comedian philosopher and a hot-headed illustrator.

So described himself, in the third person, as "a queer boy, a Khmer-American son of former refugees, a failed computer scientist, a grotesque parody of the model minority, and a graduate of Stanford University, where he studied Art Practice and English Literature. Born in Stockton, Calif., he was raised on brutal stories of the Khmer Rouge Genocide that often, somehow, ended on a joke, such as his dad's favorite bit that Pol Pot's communist regime prepared him to be a contestant on Survivor."

His editor at Ecco, Helen Atsma, v-p and editorial director, told the New York Times that So's "writing is blazingly funny but also deeply empathetic. Those traits don't come together that often. Funny can easily start to feel flip and empathy can feel maudlin, but Anthony was somehow able to make it work. It just felt astonishingly original to me. He had great insight into the human condition."

So received an MFA in Fiction from Syracuse University, where he was a University Fellow, and had received a PD Soros Fellowship, a Lambda Literary Fellowship, a Kundiman Fellowship, a Tin House Scholarship, a Show Us Your Spines Residency with the James C. Hormel LGBTQIA Center at the San Francisco Public Library, and the Joyce Carol Oates Award in Fiction. He also taught English Literature and Creative Writing at Syracuse University, the Young Writers' Workshop at Colgate University, the Urban School of San Francisco, Next Generation Scholars, the Center for Empowering Refugees and Immigrants, and Catapult. He dabbled, too, in standup comedy, in which he made too many jokes about eating too many Jack in the Box tacos.


Notes

D.C.'s Potter House Wins IPC Autumn Indie Playlist Contest

The winner of the Independent Publishers Caucus's Autumn Indie Playlist initiative is the Potter's House in the Adams Morgan district of Washington D.C., which receives $500 for its front-of-store display (above) with shelf talkers, Bookshop list and Instagram story recommendations. The Autumn Indie Playlist featured two exclusive events for booksellers and their patrons: Acts of Courage with Roxanne Gay and Okey Ndibe, moderated by Andy Tepper, and To Save the Environment with Aimee Nezhukumatathil and Andrew Krivak, moderated by Lauren LeBlanc.

IPC director Anna Thorn said, "Our thanks go out to all the wonderful bookstores who participated from across the country. It was a pleasure working with all of you for Indie Playlist, and we look forward to partnering again next year."

Europa Editions editor-in-chief and IPC Steering Committee member Michael Reynolds noted that "the D.C. indie bookstore scene is among the most vibrant in the country right now--despite everything! It's exciting that a D.C. store has won this edition of the IPC Indie Playlist initiative, yet one more example of indie press-indie bookstore synergy and proof that more independents add up to more independence."

The Indie Playlist in-store display and event months for 2021 are June, August and October. IPC co-founder and Seven Stories publisher Dan Simon said, "Indie booksellers have given Indie Playlist a good long second look and sent us great ideas we want to put into action next year, with a longer lead time and more events to help build awareness among readers of the selected books and the initiative itself." 



Media and Movies

Media Heat: Sophie Cousens on Good Morning America

Tomorrow:
Good Morning America: Sophie Cousens, author of This Time Next Year (Putnam, $16, 9780593191200).

The Talk: Matthew McConaughey, author of Greenlights (Crown, $30, 9780593139134).


TV: The Watch; Slow Horses

A trailer has been released for The Watch, a new BBC America series based on characters from Terry Pratchett's Discworld universe. Gizmodo reported that the project "follows the Ankh-Morpork's City Watch (originally from the book Guards! Guards!), who are a diverse, unlikely group of ragtag heroes who must come together to stop an evil plot that involves an unstoppable dragon."

The cast includes Richard Dormer, Lara Rossi, Adam Hugill, Marama Corlett, Jo Eaton-Kent and Wendell Pierce. The Watch hits BBC America January 3, with the first episode arriving a few days early (New Year's Eve) on AMC+ streaming.

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Olivia Cooke (Ready Player One) and Jonathan Pryce (The Two Popes) have joined the cast of the Apple TV+ spy drama Slow Horses, See-Saw Films' adaptation of Mick Herron's espionage novels, Deadline reported.

The project, which also stars Gary Oldman, Kristin Scott Thomas and Jack Lowden, is currently shooting in the U.K. following a delay due to the coronavirus. Slow Horses is adapted by Will Smith, with James Hawes (Black Mirror, Snowpiercer) directing the first six episodes.


Books & Authors

Awards: Morgan Literary Citizen; Every Child a Reader Winners

The Adam Morgan Literary Citizen Award, given by the Chicago Review of Books (and named after its founding editor) and dedicated to "shining a light on Chicago's literary scene," has been won by D.L. Mullen, founder of Semicolon, the bookstore-gallery hybrid that opened last year in Chicago's West Loop.

Mullen was cited this way: "Her support for readers, artists, students, poets, and writers is unparalleled. During the pandemic, that support has continued. Through their #ClearTheShelves initiative, which seeks to collect donations to give books and monetary donations to Chicago Public School students, Semicolon has sought to level the literary playing field while also growing Chicago's book-centered community."

Mullen accepted the award alongside recipients of the Review's Chirby awards for best books by Chicago writers and poets: Krista Franklin (Too Much Midnight, Haymarket Books), Mikki Kendall (Hood Feminism, Viking), and Michael Zapata (The Lost Book of Adana Moreau, Hanover Square Press).

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Every Child a Reader has announced the winners and honor books in the four categories of the 13th Annual Children's & Teen Choice Book Awards, which are chosen by kids and teens. The winners:
 
Kindergarten to 2nd Grade Book of the Year
Winner: The Good Egg by Jory John, illustrated by Pete Oswald (HarperCollins)
Honor: Babysitter From Another Planet written and illustrated by Stephen Savage (Holiday House/Neal Porter Books)

3rd-4th Grade Book of the Year
Winner: Undefeated by Kwame Alexander, illustrated by Kadir Nelson (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt/Versify)
Honor: Mr. Posey's New Glasses by Ted Kooser, illustrated by Daniel Duncan (Candlewick Press)

5th-6th Grade Book of the Year
Winner: Guts by Raina Telgemeier (Scholastic/Graphix)
Honor: Pandora's Legacy by Bones Leopard, illustrated by Kelly Matthews and Nichole Matthews (BOOM! Studios/KaBOOM!)

Teen Choice Book of the Year
Winner: Mirror, Mirror: A Twisted Tale by Jen Calonita (Disney Book Group/Hyperion)
Honor: Watch Us Rise by Renée Watson and Ellen Hagan (Bloomsbury YA)


Book Review

Review: The Other Mother

The Other Mother by Matthew Dicks (St. Martin's Press, $26.99 hardcover, 320p., 9781250103468, January 12, 2021)

Matthew Dicks (Twenty-One Truths About Love) captures the yearning and uncertainty of youth in this reflective coming-of-age story about a teenager who believes a stranger has replaced his mother.  

Fourteen-year-old Michael Parsons is drowning in secrets, like his crush on pretty, popular next-door neighbor Sarah, and the terrible thing another boy at school expects him to aid and abet. But the biggest secret, hidden in a yellow envelope under his mattress, belonged to his father. Even if he wanted to show it to his mother, she's gone. An impossibly identical imposter with the "same curly brown hair with a little streak of gray on the side.... Same blotchy freckle on the back of her left hand" has taken her place. Only Michael notices the change, and he knows no one will believe him. This other mother's appearance is too convincing. He can only muddle on as though life were normal, even though normalcy died with his father three years ago. Since then, Michael can't stop filling up and exploding with anger despite his guidance counselor's strategies, and he resents putting more effort into raising his younger siblings than his underemployed stepfather does. As he and Sarah embark on a friendship he never expected, Michael discovers the power of empathy and the solace of trusting others. When Sarah doesn't believe his imposter theory, Michael knows he has to find out what happened to his real mother before she's gone forever.

Based on a real condition that causes the sufferer to believe a loved one is an imposter, The Other Mother celebrates the healing magic of friendship and reclaiming one's agency. Told in Michael's wry, often anxious voice, this quietly triumphant feel-good novel addresses the burden of grief, the complications of family and the mysteries of first love. Dicks imbues his protagonist with a believable blend of cynicism and naivete. Michael is old enough to see the mistakes and hypocritical behavior of the adults around him but still young enough that their imperfections astonish him. Even as he and his mother find their way back to the closeness he longs for, he takes her renewed interest in him as further evidence she's a body double. Readers' hearts will ache for him as he flounders when learning to trust Sarah, only to soar as he finds the strength to stand up for himself and others. --Jaclyn Fulwood, blogger at Infinite Reads

Shelf Talker: Beset with secrets and stress, a teen believes an identical duplicate has replaced his mother in Dicks's tender coming-of-age story.


The Bestsellers

Top-Selling Self-Published Titles

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

1. Christmas at the Restaurant by Pamela M. Kelley
2. My Brother's Roommate by Kendall Ryan
3. Christmas Actually by Various
4. The Revenge Pact by Ilsa Madden-Mills
5. Make Me Yours by Melanie Harlow
6. Rejected by Jaymin Eve
7. The Mistletoe Kisser (Blue Moon Book 8) by Lucy Score
8. The Not-Outcast by Tijan
9. Surviving Hiroshima by Anthony Drago and Douglas Wellman
10. The Romantic Pact by Meghan Quinn

[Many thanks to IndieReader.com!]


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