Shelf Awareness for Tuesday, March 30, 2021

William Morrow & Company: The Midnight Feast by Lucy Foley

Shadow Mountain: The Witch in the Woods: Volume 1 (Grimmworld) by Michaelbrent Collings

Hell's Hundred: Blood Like Mine by Stuart Neville

Delacorte Press: Last One to Die by Cynthia Murphy

Margaret Ferguson Books: Not a Smiley Guy by Polly Horvath, Illustrated by Boris Kulikov

Indiana University Press: The Grim Reader: A Pharmacist's Guide to Putting Your Characters in Peril by Miffie Seideman

St. Martin's Press: Lenny Marks Gets Away with Murder by Kerryn Mayne


HarperCollins Buying Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Trade Division

HarperCollins, which is owned by News Corp., is buying the trade division of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for $349 million in cash, a deal that's expected to be concluded within the next three months. Under the agreement, all HMH Books & Media employees will join HarperCollins. Both companies "will work closely to provide a smooth transition for employees, customers, authors and illustrators," they said.

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt had put the HMH Books & Media division up for sale last November and said yesterday that the divestiture will allow it "to focus singularly on K-12 education and accelerate growth momentum in digital sales, annual recurring revenue and free cash flow while paying down a significant portion of its debt."

Last year overall sales at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt fell 25.8%, to $1.031 billion, and the net loss more than doubled to $480 million, but trade division sales rose 6.5%, to $191.7 million.

For News Corp., the move "indicates" that the company "is looking to expand through select acquisitions after a period of slimming down through sales of noncore businesses," the Wall Street Journal, also owned by News Corp., wrote. "News Corp. is focusing investments on growth areas including books, digital real estate, and the Dow Jones unit, a person familiar with the situation said."

News Corp. CEO Robert Thomson said of the purchase: "Timeless writing is a timely source of revenue and the potential to create highly profitable audio and video works flourishes with each passing digital day."

For nearly two centuries, HMH Books & Media has published a range of novels, nonfiction, cookbooks and children's books, including titles by J.R.R. Tolkien, George Orwell and Philip Roth, the Best American series, the Peterson Field Guides, Martha Stewart titles, CliffsNotes, cookbook brands such as Instant Pot Miracle and the How to Cook Everything series, and cookbook titles by Jacques Pépin, Mark Bittman and Priya Krishna, as well as children's books and characters Curious George, Little Blue Truck, The Polar Express, Jumanji, and The Giver. The division also includes HMH Productions, which produces TV, film and interactive media, including Carmen Sandiego (an original Netflix series and film) and more.

The Journal added that HarperCollins expects "cost savings of more than $20 million annually within two years, including in manufacturing and distribution, out of the deal."

Harper: Our Kind of Game by Johanna Copeland

Chairman and CEO Nourry Leaves Hachette Livre

Arnaud Nourry

Chairman and CEO Arnaud Nourry has left Hachette Livre and will be succeeded by Pierre Leroy, the Bookseller reported. Parent company Lagardère said Nourry, who has held the posts since 2003, "decided to part ways with the group on an amicable basis."

Acting on the proposal of Lagardère chief Arnaud Lagardère, the board of directors of Hachette Livre appointed Leroy, co-managing partner of Lagardère SCA, as the new Hachette Livre chairman and CEO. He is also chairman of IMEC, the French institute for contemporary publishing archives, director of the Bibliothèque Nationale de France endowment fund, chairman of the jury of the Prix de la littérature arabe literary awards and a former member of the jury of the Médicis literary prize.

In other changes, Fabrice Bakhouche, co-managing partner and secretary general of the Lagardere group, has been appointed deputy CEO. Prior to joining Hachette Livre in 2017, he held various positions, including media and digital advisor to the French prime minister and chief of staff to the minister of culture and communication.

"I would like to thank Arnaud Nourry for his commitment and his remarkable work over all these years in developing Hachette Livre," Arnaud Lagardère said. "He played a decisive role in establishing Hachette Livre as a world leader in publishing. I'm very pleased to see Pierre Leroy take the helm of Lagardère Publishing. With the support of Fabrice Bakhouche and Hachette Livre's talented teams, I know that Pierre will successfully lead our ambitious plans to develop Hachette Livre. I'm also delighted to be able to continue to count on his support as co-managing partner and secretary general of Lagardère. His positioning at the apex of the group's executive management is extremely valuable."

The Bookseller noted that in an interview with French economic daily Les Echos earlier this month, Nourry "warned that he would not stand by and watch the publishing house being carved up by the shareholders of parent company Lagardère. Reports have suggested that chief Arnaud Lagardère, his ally LVMH chief Bernard Arnault and rival Vivendi chief Vincent Bolloré were negotiating to break up the group. Nourry also told Le Monde last week that he had no regrets at not having bid for Simon & Schuster." Speculation is that Lagardère may sell Hachette's overseas operations, 70% of its sales, to Vivendi and its Editis publishing division and focus on French publishing.

Chronicle Books: Life Wants You Dead: A Calm, Rational, and Totally Legit Guide to Scaring Yourself Safe by Evan Waite, Illustrated by Paula Searing

International: U.K. Indies Anticipate Reopening, Indian Bookshop Documentary

Five Leaves Bookshop in Nottingham just as the shutdown began a year ago.

Independent booksellers across England and Wales are eagerly anticipating April 12, when they are scheduled to be able to reopen under the current roadmap for lifting Covid-19 restrictions, the Bookseller reported.

"We know our members are hugely looking forward to being able to reopen their doors to book lovers again when restrictions lift in each U.K. nation," said Meryl Halls, managing director of the Booksellers Association. "This is of course just one step in the road to recovery, and the BA will be working hard to support booksellers as they welcome customers back instore, while continuing to sell books in more ways than ever before. We hope the entire publishing industry will likewise continue to show their support for the book world's frontline as they work to rebuild following this prolonged period of store closure."

Chris Taylor of St. Davids in Pembrokeshire, Wales, said: "Last August, when the lockdown came to an end, Wales was inundated with visitors. It's very difficult because we are in a holiday resort and I think the Welsh government got it slightly out of hand. It wasn't controlled enough, there were too many people here. But I think this time perhaps we'll be more fortunate from last time around. I believe the Welsh government will introduce rules and regulations [...] probably allowing two or three into the shop at a time."

Ross Bradshaw, owner and manager of Five Leaves Bookshop in Nottingham, noted: "We are pretty sure that quite a few of our regulars will continue to use the webshop for a while, and we will continue to offer free postage to those shielding, housebound or low paid until we are properly back to normal--which won't be on April 12."

Sally Pattle, manager of Far from the Madding Crowd in Linlithgow, Scotland, said she and her staff are "champing at the bit to get open again" when non-essential retail returns there on April 26. "By the time we are allowed to reopen... we'll have been in enforced closure for a total of 241 days over the past year: we are extremely ready to welcome back all of our amazing customers, and fervently hope this is the last time bookshops are made to close their doors ever again."


U.K. publishers are pledging their support to indies ahead of reopening with exclusive discounts, social media campaigns, bespoke editions and other initiatives, as well as using the #ChooseBookshops hashtag to share and repost content, the Bookseller reported, noting that last week, for example, Bloomsbury "said it would be working with the Booksellers Association in encouraging consumers to return to bookshops using the hashtag #ChooseBookshops.

"We will be championing our support for indies and our key DK authors and influencers will be encouraging readers to go and visit their local bookstores, post about it on their social channels and also take a bookshop selfie when they are out and about too," said DK CEO Carsten Coesfeld. "We will also be promoting it to our DK followers and subscribers, tagging them in our campaigns and working with independents, creating relevant point-of-sale material to make sure our readers reclaim their love for local."

Profile managing director Andrew Franklin observed: "Publishing is unimaginable without high street bookshops. We depend on them professionally. And I depend on them to buy my books. So we are doing everything we can to help them reopen."


Indian bookseller K.K.S. Murthy and his Select Bookshop in Bengaluru, "one of the city's oldest surviving book shops," are the focus of Adithyaa Sadashiv's short documentary film, The Selected Book. Sadashiv told the New Indian Express that it took him only a couple of informal meetings with Murthy to make the film.

"To be honest, I had not visited the store as much as I would have liked to before the shoot. And I had met Mr. Murthy only a couple of times during book fairs in the city," he said. "The bookshop is not very well-organized. You might even find cobwebs here but the place still holds warmth and welcomes bibliophiles. That was the vibe given by [founder] K.B.K. Rao, and now Mr. Murthy, who is currently 92 years old, is carrying it forward."


Wang's bookstore model (l.) and the real bookstore

Poet Isabella Wang "took her big love" for favorite indie bookstore Massy Books in Vancouver, B.C., Canada and turned it into a miniature. CBC reported that Wang created a scale model of the shop "down to the door, the seats and books on the shelves in miniature form."

Before the pandemic, she had attended poetry readings at Massy Books and other independent bookstores at least four or five times a week. "As a writer and poet myself, these are community spaces where I have a lot of good memories with friends," she said. "So many independent bookstores in our area [are] just really grassroots gathering place[s] for many poets and writers in the community." 

On Instagram, Massy Books posted: "Thank you @isabellawangbc. The care and precision of this Massy Books miniature perfectly captures our storefront!" --Robert Gray

GLOW: Tundra Books: We Are Definitely Human by X. Fang

Cerebral Kingdom Open for Business in Rochester, N.Y.

After opening last summer in the midst of the pandemic, Cerebral Kingdom in Rochester, N.Y., is finding its stride, the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle reported.

The bookstore, which is the only Black-owned bookstore in Rochester, opened on August 29. Husband and wife team Anthony King and Zakiya McAdams-King carry books for all ages that highlight Black history, culture and literature, along with local and African art. The owners also hope the store will to become a community hub and cultural space.

"Our goal is to inspire, enlighten, empower--and how else do you do that other than through information?" King told the Democrat & Chronicle. "It's very important that people understand who they are... I think our name embodies the principle that is very foundational and very important that we as a people need to get back to."

King and McAdams-King both worked at All Day Sunday, a well-known Black-owned business in Rochester, when they were younger. When it came to starting a business of their own, they first launched an online bookstore. After it performed well, they opened the bricks-and-mortar store.

"We already found a kind of following," McAdams-King said. "It's truly been a blessing. This bookstore is to empower, enlighten and inspire people, not only for Black folks but for everybody."

Harper: Sandwich by Catherine Newman

Comic-Con Sets Dates for November 'Special Edition' Convention

San Diego Comic Convention's Comic-Con Special Edition will be held as a three-day event over Thanksgiving weekend, November 26-28, at the San Diego Convention Center. "It is our hope that by Fall conditions will permit larger public gatherings," the organization said. Comic-Con Special Edition will be the first in-person convention produced by the organization since Comic-Con 2019.

"While we have been able to pivot from in-person gatherings to limited online events, the loss of revenue has had an acute impact on the organization as it has with many small businesses, necessitating reduced work schedules and reduction in pay for employees, among other issues," said David Glanzer, spokesperson for the nonprofit organization. "Hopefully this event will shore up our financial reserves and mark a slow return to larger in-person gatherings in 2022."

Details are still being finalized, badge cost, attendance capacity, and related information will be forthcoming.

CNBC reported that the "decision to place the in-person international convention over Thanksgiving weekend, an announcement it made late Saturday night, is facing harsh backlash from fans, talent and press."

Obituary Note: Budge Wilson

Canadian author Budge Wilson, who was best known as a children's author but wrote more than 30 books for all ages, died March 19, CBC News reported. She was 93. A mentor to many Nova Scotia writers, and good friend of fellow Canadian literary icon Margaret Laurence, Wilson was a member of the Order of Canada and Order of Nova Scotia.

"She isn't entirely gone," said Andrea Wilson, her daughter. "She's left a legacy through her writing, and through the people she's inspired."

Her books include The Leaving, an award-winning collection of short stories; The Best/Worst Christmas Present; Lorinda's Diary and Thirteen Never Changes. After Swissair, Wilson's first book of poetry, was about the Swissair crash of 1998, and children's author Jill MacLean said the collection was very important to Wilson, whose former home overlooked the waters where the plane went down.

One of her recent works, Before Green Gables, is a prequel to L.M. Montgomery's famous book series. The L.M. Montgomery Institute tweeted: "Today we remember our friend, Budge Wilson, who died last week. Wilson's novel, Before Green Gables, was a big part of the 2008 Biennial Conference, 100 Years of Anne.... She will be missed."

"The world shines brighter because of Budge's generosity of spirit and her child-like curiosity, both of which played a pivotal role in her writing," Carol McDougall, author and board member of the Canadian Children's Book Centre, told Quill & Quire. "She was a long-time friend of the CCBC, touring as a part of Canadian Children's Book Week in 1989, 1991, and 2002. One of Canada's greatest literary treasures, Budge's stories always captured the complexity of the human spirit.... A true pioneer for Canadian children's writers, she helped pave the way for other writers and put Canadian stories on the world stage."


Chalkboard: Browsers Bookshop

"We approve of all forms of lingering in the imagination with a good book, however brief or prolonged," Browsers Bookshop, Olympia, Wash., posted, sharing a photo of the shop's latest sidewalk chalkboard message, courtesy of Jhumpa Lahiri's In Other Words: "Books are the best means--private, discreet, reliable--of overcoming reality."

Personnel Changes at Insight Editions

Lara Starr has joined Insight Editions as a senior publicist and marketing strategist.

Mary Bisbee-Beek to Advise the Collective Book Studio

Mary Bisbee-Beek has become a publicity and foreign rights advisor for the Collective Book Studio but is not becoming a staff member, as we mistakenly wrote yesterday. She continues to work with a variety of clients through READ! A Unique Perspective and Publishing Sherpa.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Sharon Stone on the Kelly Clarkson Show

Today Show: Katherine Schwarzenegger Pratt, author of The Gift of Forgiveness: Inspiring Stories from Those Who Have Overcome the Unforgivable (Penguin Life, $14, 9781984878274).

NPR's Here & Now: Cal Newport, author of A World Without Email: Reimagining Work in an Age of Communication Overload (Portfolio, $27, 9780525536550).

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

Kelly Clarkson Show: Sharon Stone, author of The Beauty of Living Twice (Knopf, $27.95, 9780525656760).

Movies: The Good Nurse

Nnamdi Asomugha (Sylvie's Love) is joining Jessica Chastain and Eddie Redmayne in Netflix's The Good Nurse, based on the book by Charles Graeber and scripted by Krysty Wilson-Cairns (1917), Deadline reported. Danish writer-director Tobias Lindholm is making his English-language feature directing debut on film, which is being produced by Darren Aronofsky's Protozoa and FilmNation.

Lindholm is the regular writing partner of Thomas Vinterberg, including on hit movies The Hunt and 2021 Oscar nominee Another Round. He has also directed A War and A Hijacking. He most recently wrote and directed HBO Max mini-series the Investigation.

Deadline noted that the project "was among the most in-demand at last year's European Film Market where... Netflix swooped on global rights in a big deal."

Books & Authors

Awards: Jane Grigson Trust Winner; Arabic Fiction Shortlist

Gurdeep Loyal won the £2000 (about $2,760) Jane Grigson Trust Award, given to "a first-time writer of a book about food or drink which has been commissioned but not yet published," for Mother Tongue: Flavors of a Second Generation.

Chair of judges Geraldene Holt commented: "Judging for this year's award was thoughtful and opinionated and we are delighted to announce Gurdeep Loyal as this year's Jane Grigson Trust Award winner and look forward to reading Mother Tongue. The two other shortlisted books were extremely highly regarded by the judges and it was a very close decision. In Mother Tongue, Gurdeep Loyal celebrates the blending of global cuisines from his perspective as a second generation British Indian."


The shortlist for the 2021 International Prize for Arabic Fiction consists of:

The Eye of Hammurabi by Abdulatif Ould Abdullah (Algeria)
Notebooks of the Bookshop Keeper by Jalal Bargas (Jordan)
Calamity of the Nobility by Amira Ghenim (Tunisia)
The Bird Tattoo by Dunya Mikhail (Iraq)
File 42 by Abdelmajid Sebbata (Morocco)
Longing for the Woman Next Door by Habib Selmi (Tunisia)

Each of the six shortlisted authors will receive $10,000, and the winner, who will be announced May 25, receives an additional $50,000.

Book Review

Review: The Souvenir Museum: Stories

The Souvenir Museum: Stories by Elizabeth McCracken (Ecco, $26.99 hardcover, 256p., 9780062971289, April 13, 2021)

The 12 stories collected in Elizabeth McCracken's The Souvenir Museum are skillfully crafted miniatures that feature unfailingly ordinary characters whose lives she uses to illuminate truths about love, longing and the elusive search for connection.

Beginning with the collection's opener, "The Irish Wedding," five of these stories feature a character named Jack, originally Lenny (the reason for his name change is revealed in the story "A Splinter"). Jack is born to an English family living in the United States, the only family member born outside England, something that makes him "a sort of Englishman, sort of American," and a fact that seems to influence his identity fundamentally. Several of Jack's stories include his partner, Sadie, who "wanted love so badly the longing felt like organ failure," and says her name is short for "Sadness." Jack thinks of himself as someone who has a "cactus soul," one that "need[s] water, too, but it could wait."

"Two Sad Clowns" describes Jack and Sadie's first encounter, at a winter parade in Boston that ends with them walking a drunken man who looks like Samuel Beckett home to his apartment. In "Nothing, Darling, Only Darling, Darling," they spend their honeymoon on a houseboat moored in an Amsterdam canal across from the Anne Frank House, a tourist destination that stubbornly eludes their attempts at a visit. In what Sadie calls their "mixed marriage," their affinity for each other seems simultaneously unlikely and fated.

McCracken (Bowlaway; Thunderstruck) isn't content to remain in one spot, and her stories feature exotic locales like an uninhabited island off the Scottish coast in "Proof," where a father and son embark on a puffin-watching expedition two months after the death of their wife and mother that's as much about father-son dynamics as it is about the hunt for rare birds. In the collection's title story, Joanne and her LEGO- and history-loving son, Leo, travel to Denmark on a dubious mission to deliver her late father's watch to her former lover. Not all of McCrachen's settings are so remote, as in "Robinson Crusoe at the Waterpark," where two gay men take their four-year-old son to a Galveston, Tex., park, an event that allows one of them to come to terms with the idea of marriage.

The personal discoveries unearthed by characters like these may seem inconsequential, but they are anything but that. They're the stories of choices, turning points and epiphanies that are the stuff of life itself, and of indelible moments Elizabeth McCracken preserves in these unpretentious tales. --Harvey Freedenberg, freelance reviewer

Shelf Talker: In a dozen stories, Elizabeth McCracken excels at capturing the kinds of moments that often escape our notice.

The Bestsellers

Top-Selling Self-Published Titles

The bestselling self-published books last week as compiled by

1. Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert T. Kiyosaki with Sharon L. Lechter
2. Wild Irish Sage (The Mystic Cove Series Book 10) by Tricia O'Malley
3. LifeLines by Melissa Bernstein
4. From Blood and Ash by Jennifer L. Armentrout
5. The Games Lovers Play by Stephanie Laurens
6. The Brit by Jodi Ellen Malpas
7. Chasing Shadows by Brittney Sahin
8. Temptation by Ivy Smoak
9. Forever Never by Lucy Score
10. Flipping Keys by Cesar Piña

[Many thanks to!]

Powered by: Xtenit