Shelf Awareness for Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Simon & Schuster: Fall Cooking With Simon Element

Ace Books: Dungeon Crawler Carl by Matt Dinniman

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers: The Millicent Quibb School of Etiquette for Young Ladies of Mad Science by Kate McKinnon

Annick Press: Bog Myrtle by Sid Sharp

Minotaur Books: Betrayal at Blackthorn Park: A Mystery (Evelyne Redfern #2) by Julia Kelly

Tor Books: Blood of the Old Kings by Sung-Il Kim, Translated by Anton Hur

Del Rey Books: The Book of Elsewhere by Keeanu Reeves and China Miéville

Quotation of the Day

'It's Been a Hell of a Year'

"Mistakes have been made, big lessons have been learned, times have changed, and it is on all of us leaders, managers, and business owners to embark on this new post-Covid reality with a more kind, just, equitable, comfortable, safe, and supportive work environment. The work and the learning continue because, if nothing else, we've all learned the hard way this year about what really matters and why....

"It's been a year. It’s been a hell of a year. But we will get to see you soon. We cannot thank all of you enough who have stood by us and supported us this year. Thank you for your patience while we've been closed and huge thanks for buying so many books from a small business that didn't come even a little bit close to doubling our profits during a pandemic like AMAZON did. And all the thanks in the universe to the staff, past and present, who have taught me so much through patience, tough love, and plenty of repetition. I owe this business to you."

--Nicole Sullivan, owner of the BookBar, Denver, Colo., in a blog post headlined "It's Been a Year

G.P. Putnam's Sons: William by Mason Coile


Well Red, Auburn, Ala., Finds Footing Amid Pandemic

Well Red, a bookstore, coffee shop and wine bar that opened last June in Auburn, Ala., is finding its footing during the pandemic, the Auburn Plainsman reported.

Owners Richard and Crystal Tomasello sell fiction and nonfiction books across a wide variety of genres, along with baked goods, wine and coffee sourced from a rotation of small coffee roasters. Well Red has both indoor and outdoor seating, and with classes still being taught online, it's become a popular destination for students.

The shop sells pastries baked by Well Red's pastry chef Hannah Miles, and the Tomasellos host frequent wine tastings in the evening. For each tasting the Well Red team chooses five wines to feature, and typically 40-50 customers stop by over the course of a tasting, which usually run from 5:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Well Red also hosts book signings with local authors.

"It has been difficult having to abide by all of the guidelines," Richard Tomasello told the Plainsman, "but all-in-all, we are happy with the business."

The owners were inspired to open a combination bookstore and coffee shop by Battery Park Book Exchange in Asheville, N.C.

Harpervia: The Alaska Sanders Affair by Joël Dicker, Translated by Robert Bononno

MPIBA's Bookseller Summer Camp Returning

Bookseller Summer Camp, a virtual conference full of camp-themed author events, education sessions, networking and more, is returning for another year. Organized by the Mountains & Plains Independent Booksellers Association, the summer camp will run from July 12-16 and July 19-23.

MPIBA is currently putting together the schedule and is encouraging publishers to pitch their authors for everything from book presentations and moderated discussions to keynote addresses. Pitches will be accepted until Friday, April 30.

International Update: Canadian Book Consumer Survey, Italy Deems Books 'Essential'

Booknet Canada is releasing the results of its Canadian Book Consumer survey in a three-part blog series, the first of which focused on Canadians who bought at least one book in March, June, September or December 2020. Among the highlights:  

About 75% of purchases were print books, while digital books made up about 25%. Paperback purchases accounted for about half of book purchases and hardcovers 25%, with paperbacks trending slightly down from 2018 to 2020, while hardcovers were mostly flat. Audiobook purchases hovered between 2% and 8%, trending slightly upwards over the last few years.

At the end of 2019, online purchases had been trending slightly downward, but that altered in March 2020 as pandemic-induced restrictions affected demand. At the end of 2020 in December, online purchases rose to 65%, a 24% increase from the fourth quarter in 2019. Overall in 2020, 65% of purchases were made online (website or app), and 29% of purchases were bought in person.

In 2020, 50% of purchases were made via an online retailer, 23% at a bookstore, 12% from a general retailer or grocery store and 7% from both mobile apps and e-book/audiobook stores. About three-quarters of Canadians bought where they did because of the price (74%). They also bought because the book(s) were in stock or available immediately (71%) or it was a convenient place to shop (69%).

Slightly more than half of buyers bought their books at full price (55%), while 28% bought a discounted book. The rest used a coupon or bought the book as part of a multi-buy deal or subscription.


Almost Corner Bookshop in Rome

Italy has classified books as "essential," meaning bookshops can remain open even as half the country has been placed in a maximum-level Covid-19 red zone, "in what is effectively a return to the lockdown days of this time last year," Wanted in Rome reported.

ALI Confcommercio, Italy's booksellers association, welcomed the recognition of books as "essential goods, WiR noted, adding that opening is optional for booksellers and the usual anti-covid rules apply, with customers filling in their self-declaration form accordingly. Bookstores located inside shopping malls are also allowed to open, and bookdealers can continue making home deliveries.

The Almost Corner Bookshop in Rome posted on Facebook: "Well, here we go again, from Monday we will be back in lockdown, but there is some good news, the Almost Corner Bookshop will be open. So if you need an excuse to get out the house come visit us, stock up for the coming weeks and if you don't want to go out we will be happy to deliver."


Livraria Ler Devagar

Portuguese bookseller Livraria Ler Devagar (Read Slowly Bookstore) in Lisbon "was among the few businesses allowed to reopen on Monday as the government slowly eases a lockdown imposed in mid-January to control what was then the world's worst coronavirus surge," Reuters reported. Owner Jose Pinho's bookshop, "in an old factory-turned-creative hub, one of the city's coolest spots, is popular among tourists but they were nowhere to be seen and the streets were nearly deserted."

"There's a belief that never leaves me: this will end," he said. "The problem is how long it will take and under what conditions we are going to live until then. That's the big drama."

Ler Devagar's revenues dropped 52% in 2020, but thus far this year business has gotten even worse, down 88% from last January through March.

"It could become a tragedy if we are not able to make it and have to shut," Pinho said "What motivates us is to think that... it won't be another year." --Robert Gray

Charco Press to Publish Some Titles in Spanish

Beginning this fall, Charco Press, with headquarters in Edinburgh, Scotland, will offer simultaneous English- and Spanish-language editions of some of its award-winning titles exclusively in the U.S. and Canada. The change is to make available "original language contemporary Latin American literature, and further cementing the idea that the charco (or puddle, in English) between markets doesn't represent a separation between literatures."

The program begins in October with the publication of Fernanda Trías's The Rooftop / La Azotea, followed in November by Karla Suárez's Havana Year Zero / Habana año cero. Future titles scheduled for simultaneous bilingual publication include Luis Sagasti's A Musical Offering / Una ofrenda musical, and work from Booker International finalist Gabriela Cabezón Cámara. Both Spanish- and English-language editions will be distributed by Consortium Book Sales & Distribution.

Carolina Orloff, co-founder and editorial director of Charco Press, said, "This single step advances two of Charco's core visions: firstly to make the voices of our incredible authors accessible to as many readers as we are able, and secondly to knock down barriers between languages and societies. Publishing our authors in both English and Spanish in North America acknowledges the demographics of the region, and allows us to reach more readers, in the language they prefer to read."

Obituary Note: Naomi Rosenblum

Naomi Rosenblum, "who wrote about the history of photography and helped elevate it as an art form," died February 19, the New York Times reported. She was 96. Rosenblum's books included "seminal works that helped bring scholarship and recognition to photography as a creative art form after practitioners, notably Alfred Stieglitz, had revolutionized the field by defying the conventions of subject matter and composition--creating images in the rain and snow, for example, or of a pattern that the sea cut in the sand."

Rosenblum's major contribution was A World History of Photography (published in 1984 by Abbeville Press; fifth edition in 2019), which "provided a true global perspective," and remains a standard text in the field; while her other major work, A History of Women Photographers (published in 1994 by Abbeville Press; third edition in 2010), "traced their accomplishments from the mid-1800s through the late 20th century," the Times wrote.

In addition to her notable university teaching career, Rosenblum lectured around the world and received numerous honors, including appointment as a Getty scholar in residence in Los Angeles. She was also involved in curating several major exhibitions, including the first comprehensive, large-scale exhibition of women’s photography as fine art, which opened at the New York Public Library in 1996 and traveled across the U.S.


Image of the Day: Garden District Hosts In-Person Event for Walter Isaacson

On Saturday, Garden District Book Shop, New Orleans, La., held an in-person event for Walter Isaacson and his new book, The Code Breaker: Jennifer Doudna, Gene Editing, and the Future of the Human Race (Simon & Schuster). The sold-out event was hosted by Katherine and Tony Gelderman, parents of Carroll Gelderman, who, with Barkley Rafferty and Christopher Tidmore, is a new co-owner of Garden District Book Shop.

Personnel Changes at Bank Square Books, Savoy Bookshop & Café, Title IX

At Bank Square Books, Mystic, Conn., Savoy Bookshop & Café, Westerly, R.I., and Title IX, New London, Conn.:

Kelsy April, the children's book buyer and store manager at Savoy Bookshop & Café, has been promoted to general manager of all three bookstores.

With April's promotion, Mariana Calderon has been named the new manager for Savoy Bookshop & Café and will join the bookstore in June.

Douglas Riggs has been named store manager at Bank Square Books and will start in April. He succeeds Kate Larson, who is returning to Bremerton, Wash., and will stay in bookselling.

S&S to Distribute AHOY Comics

Simon & Schuster is now distributing AHOY Comics in bookstores. Diamond will continue to distribute AHOY's titles into comic shops.

Founded in 2018, AHOY Comics, Syracuse, N.Y., publishes titles featuring comic book stories, poetry, prose fiction and cartoons.

Publisher Hart Seely said, "We can't wait to foist our stable of oddball titles onto the unsuspecting masses and introduce a whole new audience of folks to Dragonfly and Dragonflyman, Jesus and Sunstar, and the staggeringly drunken Edgar Allan Poe."

The company added that editor-in-chief Tom Peyer is "committed to comics with a (dark) sense of humor with titles like the religious satires Second Coming and High Heaven, the superhero parodies The Wrong Earth and Hashtag: Danger, the sci-fi spoof Captain Ginger, the time travel tales Planet of the Nerds and Bronze Age Boogie, and the humor/horror anthology series Edgar Allan Poe's Snifter of Blood."

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Kevin Roose on Fresh Air

Fresh Air: Kevin Roose, author of Futureproof: 9 Rules for Humans in the Age of Automation (Random House, $27, 9780593133347).

Good Morning America: Don Lemon, author of This Is the Fire: What I Say to My Friends About Racism (Little, Brown, $28, 9780316257572).

Also on GMA: Jonathan Karl, author of Front Row at the Trump Show (Dutton, $18, 9781524745639). He will appear on the View, too.

Oscar Nominations by the Book

The nominees have been revealed for the 93rd Academy Awards, including several movies based on books or with book connections. On April 25, the Oscars will be televised live on ABC and worldwide in more than 225 countries and territories. Bookish standouts among the nominees include:

Nomadland, based on Jessica Bruder's Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century: best picture; director (Chloé Zhao); actress (Frances Mcdormand); cinematography (Joshua James Richards); adapted screenplay (Chloé Zhao); editing (Chloé Zhao)

The Father, based on the play Le Père/The Father: A Tragic Farce by Florian Zeller, translated into English by Christopher Hampton: best picture; actor (Anthony Hopkins); supporting actress (Olivia Colman); adapted screenplay (Christopher Hampton & Florian Zeller); editing (Yorgos Lamprinos); production design

Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, based on the play by August Wilson: actor (Chadwick Boseman); actress (Viola Davis); costume design (Ann Roth); makeup & hairstyling; production design

Hillbilly Elegy, based on J.D. Vance's Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis: supporting actress (Glenn Close); makeup & hairstyling

News of the World, adapted from the novel by Paulette Jiles: cinematography (Dariusz Wolski); original score (James Newton Howard); production design; sound

The White Tiger, based on the novel by Aravind Adiga: adapted screenplay (Ramin Bahrani)

The United States vs. Billie Holiday, based on the book Chasing the Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs by Johann Hari: actress (Andra Day)

One Night in Miami, based on the play by Kemp Powers: supporting actor (Leslie Odom, Jr.); adapted screenplay (Kemp Powers)

Midnight Sky, adapted from Lily Brooks-Dalton's book Good Morning, Midnight: visual effects

Emma, based on Jane Austen's novel: costume design; makeup & hairstyling

The One and Only Ivan, based on the book by Katherine Applegate: visual effects

Mulan, suggested by the narrative poem "The Ballad of Mulan": costume design 

Pinocchio, inspired by the classic children's tale: costume design; makeup & hairstyling

Books & Authors

Awards: Lambda Literary Finalists; SCBWI Spark Winners

Finalists have been named in the 24 categories of the 33rd Annual Lambda Literary Awards and can be seen here. Finalists and winners will be celebrated in a virtual award ceremony on Tuesday, June 1, which will feature a performance by Meshell Ndegeocello. Other special guests include Torrey Peters and Alan Hollinghurst. The event is open to the public, with a suggested donation of $25. Proceeds benefit Lambda Literary's educational programs for LGBTQ young people and emerging writers. To reserve space at the virtual award ceremony, click here.


The Society of Children's Book Writers & Illustrators has announced winners of the Spark Award, which recognizes excellence in children's books published through an independent or non-traditional route. The Spark winners received $1,000, with both winning and honor book writers getting free tuition to an upcoming SCBWI conference, the opportunity to feature their book in the conference bookstore, and the chance to teach a digital workshop about their road to publication. This year's SCBWI Spark titles are:

Illustrated book: Mama's Waves by Chandra Ghosh Ippen, illustrated by Erich Ippen Jr.
Honor: My Friend, written and illustrated by Estrela Lourenco

Book for older readers: Sometimes Brave by Trista Wilson
Honor: I Wish My Words Tasted Better by Kris Abel-Helwig

Book Review

Review: Libertie

Libertie by Kaitlyn Greenidge (Algonquin, $26.95 hardcover, 336p., 9781616207014, March 30, 2021)

Kaitlyn Greenidge wowed the literary world with her disturbingly delightful debut novel, We Love You, Charlie Freeman; her follow-up, Libertie, shows no hints of sophomore slump. Inspired by Susan Smith McKinney Steward, New York's first Black female doctor (and the third U.S. Black woman to earn her medical degree), Greenidge alchemizes history into a gorgeously affecting story of a powerful mother, her headstrong daughter and the complex challenges they must deal with as Black women before and beyond the Civil War.

The titular Libertie is the freeborn daughter of Dr. Sampson, a woman so powerful that Libertie introduces her with a riveting opening sentence: "I saw my mother raise a man from the dead." Libertie recognizes her mother's "magic" when coffins are delivered to Brooklyn and enslaved escapees rise into freedom. At "eleven, nearly twelve," Libertie begs to help, to learn, to fulfill Mama's dream of having "a horse and carriage together, with 'Dr. Sampson and Daughter' written in gold on the side." But as Libertie matures, she recognizes that her dark skin and her mother's lighter one mean very different lives, that degrees of color are inextricably linked to both privilege and oppression. As Mama attends to more white women during Reconstruction--even as they dismiss Libertie's darker, assisting hands--Libertie's sense of betrayal solidifies into polarizing resentment.

Mama announces she "cannot teach [Libertie] anymore" and sends her to Ohio's Cunningham College, where Mama's revered reputation still reigns. But medicine is not Libertie's passion; she's drawn to music and poetry, eventually failing at anatomy, biology, chemistry. Her escape from Mama's control is ironically found back in their Brooklyn home, where young Dr. Emmanuel Chase is living in Libertie's room and working beside Mama; his "high yellow" Blackness resembles Mama's lightness. Libertie marries Emmanuel and emigrates with him to his family home in Haiti, a promised land of equity and acceptance that proves anything but.

Greenidge prominently, achingly makes the evolving mother/daughter bond her narrative focus, but what gives her 19th-century fiction evergreen urgency is her arresting examination of the degrees of freedom and their surprising consequences, the degrading subtleties of colorism within blatant racism, the enabling of gender inequity--and even abuse--by those oppressed, the individual's less-than-guaranteed right to claim agency. And yet, Libertie prevails. Greenidge writes with an effortless flow, her prose enhanced with songs, chants and verses that remind readers how words have other functions beyond straightforward storytelling. As her characters grow into self-awareness, readers, too, are granted the illuminating gift of bearing witness. --Terry Hong, Smithsonian BookDragon

Shelf Talker: Inspired by the life of New York's first Black female doctor, Kaitlyn Greenidge's sophomore title superbly examines the mother/daughter bond through a 19th-century lens rife with race and privilege.

The Bestsellers

Top-Selling Self-Published Titles

The bestselling self-published books last week as compiled by

1. Billionaire Unexpected: Jax by J.S. Scott
2. Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert T. Kiyosaki with Sharon L. Lechter
3. Unhackable by Kary Oberbrunner
4. Dotted Lines by Devney Perry
5. Marriage and Murder by Penny Reid
6. Forever Never by Lucy Score
7. Call Me Crazy by Melanie Harlow
8. Wild Hunt by Linsey Hall
9. Stud (Four Bears Construction Book 5) by K.M. Neuhold
10. Drop Dead Gorgeous by Lauren Landish

[Many thanks to!]

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