Also published on this date: Wednesday, March 3, 2021: Maximum Shelf: Morningside Heights

Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Viking: The Bookshop: A History of the American Bookstore by Evan Friss

Pixel+ink: Missy and Mason 1: Missy Wants a Mammoth

Bramble: The Stars Are Dying: Special Edition (Nytefall Trilogy #1) by Chloe C Peñaranda

Blue Box Press: A Soul of Ash and Blood: A Blood and Ash Novel by Jennifer L Armentrout

Charlesbridge Publishing: The Perilous Performance at Milkweed Meadow by Elaine Dimopoulos, Illustrated by Doug Salati

Minotaur Books: The Dark Wives: A Vera Stanhope Novel (Vera Stanhope #11) by Ann Cleeves


Harvard Coop Closes for 'Major Renovation'

The Harvard Coop, Cambridge, Mass., is taking advantage of the pandemic-induced reduction of activity in Harvard Square to undergo a major renovation in one concerted effort. Harvard magazine reported that the construction, "which began in mid-December, was originally conceived in several stages to keep the store open even as the work proceeded. But given the intensity of the pandemic late last year, it made more sense to close the store and accelerate the project." Customers can still purchase books and merchandise online, or in person at the Palmer Street building.

"We're bringing it back to its bones," said Coop president Jerry Murphy.

The new project will address infrastructure, merchandising and a consolidation of the retailing now distributed between the main store and the Palmer Street annex--both Coop-owned properties--and the leased space facing Brattle Street. Overall book inventory will be reduced as the operations are consolidated, Murphy said, but core genres of books that are most important to Coop customers have been increased while fringe categories have been scaled back.

"The air conditioning, heating, and electricity is shared between our two buildings," he added. "We want to separate the buildings and upgrade all the equipment since it's very old."

The renovated bookselling areas in the main building "will include more space for customers to move around and practice social distancing successfully," Harvard magazine wrote, adding: "The renovation will also include installing touchless doors in the front and touchless transactions at the register: new retailing priorities in the Covid era."

Architecturally, the foyer will be restored. "We're going to re-do all the lights for the ceiling and install new terrazzo flooring," said facilities manager John Ciancio. "The chandeliers are being restored by Grand Light, a Connecticut company that specializes in fine lighting restoration. This is beautiful artisan woodwork and artwork here, so we want to bring it back."

"The Harvard libraries are doing away with darker wood, and you'll see that same thing here," Murphy added.

The lower level--where children's and young-adult books were displayed before the closure--will contain more Harvard merchandise, while half the main level and the whole of the upper floors will carry the books, with the third floor also including a permanent event space. The café has been permanently removed. Renovations are scheduled to be completed by early May.

"We used to be a department store for all of Cambridge," Ciancio observed. "But then the malls were built and the MBTA extended the Red Line, and that changed the dynamics within the Square.... Every graduating class has something they remember that isn't here anymore, but that's life." 

BINC: Do Good All Year - Click to Donate!

New Owners, Name for the Book Shoppe in Medina, N.Y.

The Book Shoppe, Medina, N.Y., has new owners. In a recent Facebook post, Gloria and Frederick Fierch, who had purchased the bookshop in 2019, wrote: "We are excited to announce that the Book Shoppe will be undergoing some changes this weekend! We are pleased to announce that Phil and Julie Berry will be taking over as new owners with a new name: The Author's Note! Please welcome them to Main St. Medina! Thank you for all of the support our customers have given us during our time here. You all know the value in shopping small and local and we are grateful for that and for the support, especially during a pandemic and shut down! We are happy to say that we are going back into retirement... for now!"

On the bookshop's website, bestselling author and Medina native Julie Berry confirmed the ownership change, and said Author's Note will be "a book-lover's bookstore that will connect Western New York readers in new ways with their favorite authors.... Exciting things are in store at Author's Note. We've got big plans for this little shop. We're thrilled to be your bookstore!"

Berry is the author of Lovely WarWishes and WellingtonsHappy Right Now; the 2017 Printz Honor and Los Angeles Times Book Prize shortlisted novel The Passion of Dolssa; the Carnegie and Edgar shortlisted All the Truth That's in Me; and the Odyssey Honor title The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place, among others. 

GLOW: Milkweed Editions: Becoming Little Shell: Returning Home to the Landless Indians of Montana by Chris La Tray

In-Person San Diego Comic-Con Postponed to 2022, Smaller Event Eyed for Fall

The San Diego Comic Convention, which had to cancel both of its in-person events in 2020, will postpone Comic-Con 2021 as an in-person gathering until 2022, and once again hold this year's celebration as the free online Comic-Con@Home, set for July 23-25. The organization had recently announced that its spring 2021 show, WonderCon in Anaheim, would be replaced by WonderCon@Home, a free online event set for March 26 and 27.

In a statement regarding the decision, organizers said: "It is the policy of the organization to continue to closely monitor information from local and national healthcare officials as it pertains to the Covid-19 pandemic. Never could we have imagined what the world experienced in 2020 and continues to experience today. While we are buoyed by the rollout of the vaccine and the growing number of individuals being inoculated, it appears that July will still be too early to safely hold an in-person event of the magnitude of Comic-Con."

Noting that "a smaller in-person event at a later time may be a safe alternative," San Diego Comic Convention said it is planning to present a three-day in-person convention in San Diego in November. Organizers are still working on specific details regarding attendance capacity, badge cost and related information, which will be forthcoming. 

G.P. Putnam's Sons: Four Weekends and a Funeral by Ellie Palmer

How Bookstores Are Coping: Tempo Building; Long-Term Focus

In Portland, Ore., Green Bean Books has been closed to browsing for nearly a year. Given that the store is less than 500 square feet, owner Jennifer Green explained, she and her team decided to err on the side of caution and remain closed for the time being. The store has been able to do all right with its new operational model, which relies on telephone and e-mail orders, contactless pick-up and free porch delivery within three miles.

The store has a covered deck, and when the weather permits the team regularly sets up a "whole heap" of books and sidelines on the porch as a kind of pop-up shop. They also set up a bookseller advice booth on the deck "just for fun." The store's interior is now a "mini fulfillment center," with only one or two booksellers working at a time to maintain social distancing. While Green and her team miss doing in-person events, the store has pivoted to doing virtual storytimes and school visits.

Green noted that prior to the pandemic, the store didn't have an online store at all, and online sales have "skyrocketed." Last year, in-store sales--which were really porch sales--were much lower than they were in 2019. Outside of the holidays, summers are usually the busiest time for the store, but summer 2020 was extremely sluggish. All told, the store actually came out slightly ahead in 2020 because of the immense increase in online sales. Green and her team are happy about those final numbers, but Green said they don't feel like they've been fulfilling their passion as booksellers, yet they've been working twice as hard.

The Green Bean Books team has been "completely blown away" by the love and support they received from their community. They've had the store's back throughout the entire pandemic, with some customers even offering to help deliver books and stopping by with treats like hot tea.

When asked about her outlook for 2021, Green said the year started out slow, but she can "already feel the tempo slowly building" and she is optimistic about this summer. She hopes to reopen once more people in the community get vaccinated, including her booksellers. As long as there is still a significant risk of transmission, though, she intends to keep operating in this hybrid model.


Drew and Erin Pineda

Andrew Pineda, co-owner of 27th Letter Books in Detroit, Mich., reported that prior to the pandemic, his store was operating mostly in a pop-up and event-based capacity, culminating in a two-month holiday shop during the 2019-2020 winter. After the pandemic began, 27th Letter switched to an online-only model for the majority of 2020, while Pineda and store co-owner Erin Pineda continue to look for a permanent bricks-and-mortar space.

Between the strong winter pop-up that lasted until the end of January 2020 and the surge in online sales, the store saw better sales in 2020 than in 2019. Pineda noted, however, that the store didn't make its debut until summer 2019, when they started vending at festivals.

One of the bright spots amid all of the difficulty, Pineda said, was that without a "hectic and fast-paced" pop-up schedule, they were able to "regroup and focus on longer-term strategic goals."

Looking ahead in 2021, Pineda plans to continue online sales while restructuring the business to be a longer-lasting, more equitable and community driven space while working toward securing a bricks-and-mortar location. At the moment, he added, events and pop-up opportunities are "too risky" to be worth it. --Alex Mutter

Applications Open for Binc's Higher Education Fund

Applications are open for the Book Industry Charitable Foundation's annual higher education scholarship program. Until April 15, booksellers, comics retailers and former Borders Group employees can apply for the scholarship, which can support their own higher education goals or those of dependents, spouses or partners.

Binc will award seven $3,500 scholarships to the dependents of bookstore and comic shop employees and one $5,000 Karl Pohrt Tribute Scholarship award to an indie bookstore or comic book shop employee who has overcome a learning adversity or is a nontraditional student. The program is administered by Scholarship America.

"We are proud to support booksellers and comic shop people investing in their families' futures through Binc's higher education scholarship program," said Binc executive director Pamela French. "After a difficult year, we are more than ever looking forward to helping students achieve their higher education goals and dreams. I encourage all booksellers and comic shop employees and owners with children, spouses, or partners who are pursuing higher education this year to apply for a scholarship."

The evaluation process for applicants will look at financial need, prior academic achievement and leadership capabilities (including participation in school and community activities) as well as work experience, a statement of career and educational goals and objectives, and unusual personal or family circumstances. More details are available here.

Since 2001, the Binc Foundation has supported the educational goals of more than 720 students, awarding $1.94 million in higher education scholarships. 


Casey Poma Named Director of E-Commerce at {pages} a bookstore

Casey Poma

Casey Poma has been named to the newly created position of director of e-commerce at {pages} a bookstore in Manhattan Beach, Calif. He has been a bookseller at {pages} for more than six years and been "integral to the inventory management process," the store said.

Owner Linda McLoughlin Figel, commented: "Nobody has a better sense of how to use the reports and data available to us than Casey. His willingness to dig in and help us make informed backlist and returns decisions has helped the store immeasurably."

Poma said he wants to make sure that every customer visiting the {pages} website has the best experience possible. "I want to maintain the same level of quality that a customer would have when they visit our physical store. I would like to see us use technology more effectively by using clear language and easy-to-follow instructions."

Bookseller Cat: Introducing Alice at Loganberry Books

Loganberry Books, Shaker Heights, Ohio, introduced "the newest Loganberry... Alice! (Don't worry Otis Fans; he's doing fine but is enjoying some home time these days). Alice (named after Alice in Wonderland) looks just like the White Rabbit running late for a very important date when she scampers through the aisles of books! She's not quite a year old, and kindly joined us via the wonderful foster org @laurensfostercats. She's affectionate and spunky and curious and we couldn't be more thrilled to have her. She's still part-time, so you might have to check back for her from time to time, but she'll be pleased to meet you soon, and is actively considering fan club applications."

Simon & Schuster to Distribute Leaders Press

Simon & Schuster will handle sales and distribution worldwide for Leaders Press, effective April 1.

Leaders Press specializes in publishing books by entrepreneurs and making them USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestsellers.

Personnel Changes at Hachette; Chronicle Books

In the sales department of Hachette Book Group:

Julie Hernandez is being promoted to executive director of wholesale sales.

Danielle Cantarella is being promoted to senior national account manager for Barnes & Noble.

Elizabeth Venere is being promoted to senior manager, account marketing.

Alyson Powers is being promoted to academic and account marketing manager.

Katrina Kruse is being promoted to senior sales representative.

Ali Cutrone is being promoted to executive director, online sales and GCP publisher liaison/

Shiauping Shih is being promoted to executive director, sales analytics.

Jill Reschop-Gonzalez is being promoted to director of sales, information and operations.

Rob Philpott is being promoted to senior director of marketing, Hachette Book Group, Canada.

Jennifer Gray is being promoted to senior sales manager, international.


At Chronicle Books:

Eva Zimmerman has been promoted to senior publicist, children's.

Eden Sugay has been promoted to sales & marketing manager.

Hannah Poor has been promoted to sales & marketing coordinator.

Media and Movies

Media Heat:

Tamron Hall repeat: Alexi Pappas, author of Bravey: Chasing Dreams, Befriending Pain, and Other Big Ideas (The Dial Press, $27, 9781984801128).

TV: The Girl Before; Shadow and Bone

David Oyelowo will co-star with Gugu Mbatha-Raw in The Girl Before, a four-episode limited series based on J.P. Delaney’s best-selling novel, from BBC One and 42, Deadline reported. The limited series will stream in the U.S. on HBO Max. Emmy-nominated Lisa Brühlmann (Killing EveServant) is the director. The project is being created, written and executive produced by Delaney, with Marissa Lestrade (White StorkDeep State 2) co-writing episodes of the series. 


The first trailer has been released for the Netflix series Shadow and Bone, a new TV adaptation of the Grishaverse series of fantasy novels by Leigh Bardugo, Entertainment Weekly reported. The author also executive produces the show.

The cast includes Jessie Mei Li, Ben Barnes, Archie Renaux, Freddy Carter, Amita Suman and Kit Young. Eric Heisserer is the showrunner of the eight-episode first season, with Lee Toland Krieger as director. Shadow and Bone premieres on Netflix April 23.

Books & Authors

Awards: BSFS Robert A. Heinlein Winner

Carolyn Janice Cherry, known to readers as C.J. Cherryh, won the 2021 Robert A. Heinlein Award for her "body of work, with emphasis on her detailed social science and commercial relationship-based stories set in the space station rich Alliance–Union universe."

Sponsored by the Baltimore Science Fiction Society, the award honors "outstanding published works in science fiction and technical writings that inspire the human exploration of space." It will be formally presented May 28 at opening ceremonies during Virtual Balticon 55, the Maryland regional science fiction convention.

The selection committee consists of science fiction writers and was founded by Dr. Yoji Kondo, a long-time friend of Robert and Virginia Heinlein. Members of the original committee were approved by Virginia Heinlein, who also authorized multiple awards in memory of her husband, including the Heinlein Prize, which is funded by Virginia Heinlein's estate, and a National Space Society award for volunteer projects.

Reading with... Patricia Engel

photo: Elliot Erick Jimenez

Patricia Engel is the author of Infinite Country, out March 2 from Avid Reader/Simon & Schuster. Her other books are The Veins of the Ocean, It's Not Love, It's Just Paris and Vida. She is an associate professor in the creative writing program at the University of Miami.

On your nightstand now:

I'm reading an advanced copy of The President and the Frog, the upcoming novel by Carolina De Robertis, which is staggering in its brilliance. I can't wait for this one to come out. Also in my stack are The Other Slavery: The Uncovered Story of Indian Enslavement in America by Andrés Reséndez; The Anthill by Julianne Pachico; Milk Blood Heat by Dantiel W. Moniz; Feline Philosophy: Cats and the Meaning of Life, which was a gift from a dear friend; and What's Mine and Yours by Naima Coster, which I recently finished and adored.

Favorite book when you were a child:

The poem "Margarita, está linda la mar (A Margarita Debayle)" by Rubén Darío, which my mother knew by heart and recited for us all the time. Also Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O'Brien.

Your top five authors:

Toni Morrison, Laura Restrepo, James Baldwin, Edwidge Danticat and Francisco Goldman.

Book you've faked reading:

The Awakening by Kate Chopin, in college, though the professor did not call on me for discussion that day, so I didn't really have to fake having read it. I just stayed quiet. I have always meant to go back and read it.

Book you're an evangelist for:

Memory by Philippe Grimbert. It's a devastating meditation on intergenerational trauma and healing by the son of Holocaust survivors in France.

Book you've bought for the cover:

I don't really do this--I tend to read a few paragraphs before deciding on a book. But if I did it would have been We Cast a Shadow by Maurice Carlos Ruffin, which has a gorgeous cover and is also an incredible story.

Book you hid from your parents:

Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller, which my mother discovered and confiscated, but I got another copy, so she gave up and let me keep it. The funny thing is I don't remember anything about that book now.

Book that changed your life:

The diaries of Anaïs Nin and Albert Camus were extremely important to my literary formation. I understood the power of intimate writing and how giving voice to your interiority can fuel your creative life for years to come.

Favorite line from a book:

"There are years that ask questions and years that answer." --Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God. I love this line, though I think some years, like 2020 and even what we've seen so far of 2021, do both.

Five books you'll never part with:

The Four-Chambered Heart by Anaïs Nin, The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison, The Life Before Us by Romain Gary, Giovanni's Room by James Baldwin and Delirium by Laura Restrepo.

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

I tend to re-read certain books because I learn new things from each encounter. If I could bottle the feeling of my first-read of just one book, it would be Rosario Tijeras by Jorge Franco, which I have read and given as a gift many times over.

Book that made me you decide to be a writer:

It was a single poem that reads like a novel: "The City in Which I Love You" by Li-Young Lee, from the collection of the same name. I read it when I was 16 and was so moved that I somehow found Mr. Lee's home address (this was before e-mail) and wrote him a letter telling him so, and confessing my desire to be a writer. He sent me back a very kind and encouraging handwritten note that I still have.

Book Review

Children's Review: The Curie Society

The Curie Society by Janet Harvey, Heather Einhorn, Adam Staffaroni, illus. by Sonia Liao (The MIT Press, $18.95 paperback, 168p., ages 10-up, 9780262539944, April 27, 2021)

In this exhilarating STEM-centered graphic novel for young adults, three diverse college freshmen are invited to join a secret group for female scientists--but they must complete a covert mission to prove they are worthy of membership.

Simone, an early admission student at Edmonds University, is excited to meet her roommates; unfortunately, she clashes with Taj, an MMORPG and robotics enthusiast, and with Maya, who is laser-focused on academics. Taj, belittled for being a girl who loves tech and can throw a punch, finds it difficult to open up, and Maya is discouraged from making friends by parents who want a Nobel Prize-winning daughter. When an invitation arrives for each of them, the three must work together to decode the message. It leads them to the headquarters of the Curie Society, a clandestine organization inspired by Marie Curie's own secret society aimed at fighting misogyny, and that supports women making breakthroughs in science. After weeks of exhausting drills and a failed initiation test (their teamwork was... lacking), the girls embark on an advanced training mission to intercept a black-market exchange and to redeem themselves. Simone, Taj and Maya suspect a shady reason for the heist, and must bridge their differences to stop what might be an operation so dangerous it could threaten humanity itself.

The Curie Society, written by Janet Harvey (Angel City) and created by Heather Einhorn and Adam Staffaroni (co-creators of the podcasts Daughters of DC and Lethal Lit: A Tig Torres Mystery), is a fun spy thriller that celebrates young female minds. While it showcases the girls' dedication to brilliance, it also highlights the pressures of imposter syndrome and forming relationships. College scenes and Curie Society research incorporate learning moments, and the book also presents mathematic and scientific riddles--determining variables in quadratic functions or how to neutralize chlorine gas--that can be solved by intrepid readers. Readers should also find great enjoyment in seeing the recruits geek out over historic female scientists as well as advancements in technology, biology and genetics. Sonia Liao's bright, bold art enlivens exciting combat; detailed attention to facial features adds insight to the characters' unspoken thoughts, and full-page panels boost inspiring and momentous scenes. With suspenseful espionage, nerdy humor and a group of dauntless, eager trailblazers fostering genuine friendships, The Curie Society is sure to fascinate curious minds. --Samantha Zaboski, freelance editor and reviewer

Shelf Talker: In this delightful STEM-themed YA graphic novel, three recruits to a secret society for female scientists must stop a black-market trade while navigating their first year of college.

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