Shelf Awareness for Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Inkyard Press: Ring of Solomon by Aden Polydoros

Chronicle Prism: Men in Blazers Present Gods of Soccer: The Pantheon of the 100 Greatest Soccer Players (According to Us) by Roger Bennett, Michael Davies, and Miranda Davis; illustrated by Nate Kitch

Neal Porter Books: I Don't Care by Julie Fogliano, illustrated by Molly Idle and Juana Martinez-Neal

Tor Nightfire: The Spite House by Johnny Compton

Candlewick Press (MA): Build a House by Rhiannon Giddens, illustrated by Monica Mikai

Popular Book Company (Usa): Complete Curriculum Success Series, Math Success Series, English Success Series, 365 Fun Days

Yen on: Fox Tales by Tomihiko Morimi, translated by Winifred Bird


Markus Dohle: 'The Best Time in Publishing Since Gutenberg'

"Print wins," said Markus Dohle, CEO of Penguin Random House, referring to the race between e-books, audiobooks and books one can hold in one's hands. Dohle spoke yesterday with organizational psychologist and author Adam Grant (Think Again, Viking) in a conversation hosted by Penguin Random House and Publishers Weekly to kick off the U.S. Book Show.

Adam Grant (l.) and Markus Dohle

Dohle listed six reasons why this is "the best time in publishing since Gutenberg": 1) the global book market, with a revenue pool that was up double digits in the U.S. and around the world in 2020 and thus far in 2021; 2) robust business models; 3) healthy coexistence between print and digital (a ratio of 80/20); 4) the "addressable audience" is growing, with population up 3%-4% and literacy rates rising; 5) children's books are the fastest-growing category for the past 25 years, since the publication of Harry Potter, creating more and more new readers; and 6) with the popularity of audiobooks, "we gain reading and listening minutes," Dohle said.

Grant, a strong sparring partner, said that Dohle would be better off reducing his six points to two, so as not to appear to be persuading the audience, and asserted that with the sheer size of Penguin Random House--and in the process of acquiring Simon & Schuster--the company is in a position to be optimistic. But Dohle argued that PRH has just 20% of the market share in the countries in which it operates and that smaller publishers are outperforming the larger ones, over the past 10 years.

Dohle said that Amazon accounts for 50% of PRH's U.S. business and 40% of its global business. PRH is "channel agnostic," Dohle said. "We don't want to tell our readers where to buy books." Yet PRH "doubled down on physical product," investing $100 million in efficiency and speed of distribution, to lower inventory and return rates and improve profitability of physical retail. "Bookstores are essential for physical book discovery," said Dohle. "Indies are willing to give new voices a chance and to build them over time." In their support, PRH has just extended payment terms for bookstores again to give them more financial flexibility and help their cash flow. Dohle quoted Grant back to him, citing the subtitle of his book Give and Take: Why Helping Others Drives Our Success (Viking)--"If you support all your constituencies, then you thrive, too."

When Grant asked about why he as a consumer had to buy the book and the audiobook and the e-book of the same title, with no discount, Dohle said publishers have not yet figured out how to bundle in a way that makes certain "we sustain, protect and support the authors' income." He added that's why PRH does not participate in all-access subscription models right now, either. Dohle ended with a quote from Margaret Atwood: "You're never going to kill storytelling, because it's built into the human plan. We come with it." --Jennifer M. Brown

Tiny Reparations Books: Gone Like Yesterday by Janelle M. Williams

MDRN Tribe Bookshop Debuts in Killeen, Tex.

MDRN Tribe, an independent bookshop and distribution company "specializing in observing, preserving and celebrating culture through books, film, art, and healing," has opened at 2710 S. Clear Creek Rd., Suite 109, Killeen, Tex. The company, owned by Maeva Gutierrez, has operated as an online business for two years.

"Modern Tribe Bookshop offers all genres of books," Gutierrez told the Killeen Daily Herald. From military and veteran studies, sci-fi thrillers, novels, cultural and feminist studies, young adult, picture books, educational workbooks, urban fiction and historical. We are also a plant shop so we carry a variety of easy maintenance house and desk plants. In addition to the books and plants, we offer metaphysical goodies like crystals and sage and a number of collaborative events and workshops that celebrate literacy, community, culture and the creative arts."

She added: "I love having a bookstore because I love books and community. Nothing brings people together or rocks the boat of thought like new ideas, perspectives and intellectual conversations which can all be created over books.

Noting that she is overwhelmed and very appreciative of the support she has received from Killeen and the surrounding community, Gutierrez said, "The goal for Modern Tribe Bookshop moving forward is to continue growing in community and to inspire a love for literacy, humanity, culture and the creative arts."

GLOW: Disney-Hyperion: Simon Sort of Says by Erin Bow

Community Center, Bookstore in Development for Chicago's Burst Into Books

Burst Into Books, a nonprofit promoting youth literacy and creativity, plans to open "a space for the youth" of Roseland and the Far South Side this fall that will include a bookstore, Block Club Chicago reported.

The organization is renovating the first floor of a building at 11001 S. Michigan Ave. in Roseland into a community center, which will host programs, as well as an onsite bookstore "with reading material geared towards kids of color from birth through 12th grade. The store will also sell educational resources for parents and teachers," Block Club Chicago wrote.

Although some adult literature will be for sale, founder Jurema Gorham noted that "this is a space for the youth. When the kids walk in... they'll say, 'This was created for me.' "

Renovations to the building received a $250,000 boost from the city's Neighborhood Opportunity Fund early this year. Gorham observed: "The more that you have people buying in their communities, you can really reimagine what that space looks like. My goal is this is one of many buildings we're able to get ourselves, or help other people to get property in Roseland as well."

Organizing a range of programs amid a global pandemic has kept Gorham busy, but she relishes the challenge the past year posed, adding that Burst Into Books plans to "use this summer to do more connecting with the community, so come the fall--alright, we're ready to go high speed into academics. Talking to schools and families, this year was a discouraging time. They're really over school, over online [learning], over all of that.... The push has been, 'How do we get families and kids excited about learning again?' "

Harper: Stone Blind by Natalie Haynes

How Bookstores Are Coping: 'Not Quite as Chaotic'; Customers 'Ready to Shop' Again

Third Place Books, Seward Park

At Third Place Books in Lake Forest Park, Ravenna and Seward Park, Wash., things aren't exactly normal, but they are "relatively predictable" and "not quite as chaotic" as they once were, managing partner Robert Sindelar reported.

In terms of operations, things have largely remained unchanged in 2021, he continued. The stores have maintained capacity at around 25%, even though they technically could increase capacity up to 50% per state guidelines; masks are still required; and both in-store and online business remain strong.

There has been "very little major disruption" so far this year, but Sindelar did note that after the CDC issued its updated mask guidelines, there were a few "significant encounters" involving people who felt entitled to enter the stores without a mask. There weren't many of those, though, and they have not continued. While it does seem that staff have to remind people to put their masks on a bit more, people are generally very apologetic and quickly don their masks.

Lake Forest Park

Asked when the stores might start to increase capacity or loosen mask restrictions, Sindelar answered that Third Place Books has just had the first of three major staff meetings--one at each store--to discuss those exact topics. The biggest deciding factors will be staff safety and comfort level, and he said capacity will probably change long before anything changes regarding masks. "I feel like we're going to keep mask requirements in store for quite a while."


He did acknowledge, however, that there is a bit of a balancing act there regarding customer expectations. If at some point down the line all the other businesses in the area have fully reopened and Third Place Books is the only one left with a line outside and a greeter, customer patience could decrease. That could lead to more unpleasant encounters with customers, and "we don't want to set ourselves up for that."

On the subject of resuming in-person author events, Sindelar said it is a "watch and see" situation. There are a number of factors to consider, the biggest being whether authors want to start getting on planes and staying in hotels again. Even though events are a big part of the business, they're not the bookstore's "primary directive." Sindelar and his team will probably look to nearby movie theaters and music venues as a guide.

Another thing to consider about returning to in-person events, he added, is "how much do we stay virtual." Thanks to virtual events, Third Place Books reached lots of new customers, and the team doesn't want that to go away.


Jennifer Morrow, owner of Bards Alley in Vienna, Va., reported that things probably won't be completely "pre-Covid normal for a while yet," as the store continues to operate at limited capacity. One great return to normalcy, however, has been increased store traffic in recent weeks. More people are getting vaccinated, she continued, and they are ready to shop in person again.

She and her team are seeing "grandparents with their grandchildren, new moms who are only now out with their not-so newborns, friends and couples reuniting," and book club members are even talking about meeting in person again. "This is what feels normal."

All told, Bards Alley fared "pretty well" in 2020, with Morrow praising the way the team adapted to changing circumstances and took breaks when needed. Book sales have been on the rise and greeting card sales have "soared," but the biggest loss has been to Bards Alley's small cafe. That was shut down entirely, though the team did create a "picnic on the patio" package featuring wine, snacks and shopping incentives.

Morrow said she's really enjoyed working with other small businesses in town. They shared ideas and resources every time the guidelines changed, and early on in the pandemic they partnered with a neighborhing bike shop for bike deliveries.

Asked about author events, Morrow said the store has started inviting authors to do patio signings. The team is also exploring ways to use green spaces around the community, such as the Town Green and its bandstand. At some point during the summer, she and her team will take time to "refresh and re-evaluate" things at the store. This year has been a "blur" so far, and they don't want to rush ahead or "lose any of the best practices we've established." Looking further ahead, to the fall and winter, Morrow added that she is very excited to start seeing others in the book business in person again. --Alex Mutter

BINC: Carla Gray Memorial Scholarship

Obituary Note: Phyllis Mandel

Phyllis Mandel

Phyllis Mandel, retired facilities leader for Bantam, Bantam Doubleday Dell and Random House, died on May 20. She had turned 75 the day before.

Penguin Random House called her as "a trailblazing distribution and facilities leader" who "helped shape and transform our facilities' pipeline into the centerpiece of trade publishing's leading supply chain."

Mandel began her 40-year publishing career in New York City in 1966 as a one-person order-processing/telemarketing department for Select Magazines, the national wholesaler distributor for Bantam Books, managing its book inventory with index and then key punch cards. In 1979, she began 12 years in sales administration and inventory at Bantam and BDD. Mandel relocated to Illinois in 1991 to assume leadership of the Des Plaines distribution center. Seven years later, she moved to Westminster, Md., to run the newly combined distribution and fulfillment operations of the just-merged Random House, Inc.

"She was a nurturing mentor and guiding force to many of the company's and the industry's current operations leaders, among them Annette Danek, Nihar Malaviya, Andrew Weber, Robin Sutton, John Bohman, and a next-generation of Westminster and Crawfordsville managers," PRH said.

"Mandel was a large presence, professionally and personally, often underestimated and disrespected early in her tenure because she was a formidable woman boss in the 'man's world' of facilities operations. But most who misread her initially came to admire her tough and tender dimensions, encyclopedic knowledgeability and team-building skill sets, fierce loyalty to her staff and fairness to vendor partners, and above all her unshakeable commitment to our authors, colleagues, and accounts."

When Mandel retired in 2006, a company memo observed that "Under her guidance, our Westminster and Crawfordsville facilities have achieved a level of achievement and efficiency that was unimaginable in the pre-Mandel era. In her time, she has overseen the distribution of over three billion of our books, helping to ensure the livelihoods of our booksellers and the reading enjoyment of our book buyer."

In lieu of flowers or for those wishing to make a donation in Mandel's memory, please consider the following organizations, which were among many that she generously supported: WeCan, Chatham Children's Fund and Mass Audubon.


Image of the Day: Celebrating 10 Years at Arcadia Books

Arcadia Books, Spring Green, Wis., celebrated its 10th birthday on May 20. In lieu of a big celebration in the store, Arcadia asked customers and authors to submit favorite memories and pictures that will be compiled into a virtual guestbook. Children's buyer and co-manager Nancy Baenen said, "While 2020 alone seemed to go on for ten years, we are amazed at how quickly we hit the decade mark. And even though we're all vaccinated, we decided to wear our masks to remind us of this crazy time and how grateful we are to our incredibly loyal and supportive customers." Pictured: (standing, l.-r.) Caitlyn de Araujo, Nancy Baenen, Todd Miller, Natalie Iausly and (seated) propietor James Bohnen, holding some of their favorite books of the past decade.

Two Rivers to Distribute Zando

Ingram's Two Rivers Distribution will handle global sales and distribution for Zando, beginning in January 2022.

Zando was founded last fall by Molly Stern, previously senior v-p and publisher of Crown Publishers, Hogarth and Archetype, in partnership with Sister, and works with a influential public figures, platforms and institutions to publish titles with the goal of sparking "meaningful cultural conversations" and reaching "a devoted new audience of readers."

Stern commented: "We aim to help readers discover books across the whole landscape of formats and retailers. With their world class distribution network and services, Two Rivers was a natural choice. We're excited to partner with a fellow independent minded organization on bringing our books to life in nimble and creative ways."

Sabrina McCarthy, v-p and general manager, Two Rivers Distribution, said, "Molly Stern has had an immeasurable impact on the publishing landscape, having edited and published many of the most influential books of our time. As she embarks on her journey as an independent publisher, we are honored that she has partnered with us to bring this new program to readers across the world."

Personnel Changes at Simon & Schuster

Caitlin Morrow has joined the Simon & Schuster special markets sales team as assistant manager.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Michelle Williams on the Kelly Clarkson Show

Kelly Clarkson Show: Michelle Williams, author of Checking In: How Getting Real About Depression Saved My Life--and Can Save Yours (Thomas Nelson, $26.99, 9781400223336). She will also appear on the Real.

Daily Show repeat: Ian Manuel, author of My Time Will Come: A Memoir of Crime, Punishment, Hope, and Redemption (Pantheon, $25.95, 9781524748524).

Movies: Wonka

Timothée Chalamet (Call Me by Your Name, Lady Bird), will star in Warner Bros. and the Roald Dahl Story Co.'s Wonka, based on characters created by Roald Dahl. Deadline reported that "the story will focus on a young Willy Wonka and his adventures prior to opening the world's most famous chocolate factory.... Wonka will mark the first time Chalamet gets to show off his singing and dancing skills with several musical numbers set to appear in the film. He's been the top choice for some time but scheduling was a hurdle that had to be overcome as training for those numbers is included in the prep for this film."

Paul King will direct from the screenplay he wrote with Simon Farnaby (with prior writers including Simon Rich, Simon Stephenson, Jeff Nathanson and Steven Levenson). "This marks the third time WB has taken on the Wonka story," Deadline noted, citing previous adaptations of Dahl's classic novel Charlie and the Chocolate Factory in 1971 and 2005.

Books & Authors

Awards: RSL Encore, Republic of Consciousness Winners

Caoilinn Hughes won the £10,000 (about $13,890) Royal Society of Literature Encore Award, celebrating outstanding achievements in second novels, for The Wild Laughter

The judges praised the winning work as "a grand feat of comic ingenuity, mischievous and insightful, and full of resonance for the way we live now. The voice of Caoilinn's doomed narrator, Doharty 'Hart' Black, is so original and vibrant, with a very particular poetic vernacular. This is a story of modern Ireland, set in the crash post Celtic Tiger, but it also feels timeless in many ways, with Biblical myth simmering under the surface. The Wild Laughter is a real page-turner, in spite of its literary heart, and a joy to read. We all look forward to reading more from Caoilinn Hughes in the years to come."


Jacaranda Books won the 2021 Republic of Consciousness Prize for small rpesses for Lote by Shola von Reinhold. This year's £20,000 (about $27,775) prize pool is shared by 10 small presses: £3,000 (about $4,165) to each of the five shortlisted titles, and £1,000 (about $1,390) each to five longlisted books.

The winning title was praised by judging panel members Eley Williams, who said Lote "offers rapturous encounters with dynamics of art, history and desire--all written with wit, pomp and dazzling style. A joy"; John Mitchinson, who called the book "a dazzling novel, an audacious contribution to the current cultural moment that gleams with original ideas and scholarship"; and Guy Gunarat, who said the "at once seriously funny novel rich with intrigue and suspense."

Book Review

Review: Suburban Dicks

Suburban Dicks by Fabian Nicieza (Putnam, $27 hardcover, 400p., 9780593191262, June 22, 2021)

Sure, modern crime fiction has an abundance of idiosyncratic female detectives, but how many of them show up at the murder site in a minivan transporting four children, one of whom urinates all over the crime scene? So begins Fabian Nicieza's ceaselessly funny debut novel, Suburban Dicks, in which characters' wisecracks cushion a painful reckoning with the prejudices running amok in a New Jersey town.

Queens girl-turned-suburbanite Andrea Stern, who is ostentatiously pregnant with her fifth child, isn't looking for drama the morning she rushes into a West Windsor, N.J., gas station; she's looking for a bathroom for her youngest child. Unlike the incompetent cops on the scene, Andrea determines that the killer tried to make the murder of gas station attendant Satkunananthan Sasmal look like a random shooting. Andrea is no stranger to crime solving: she made a name for herself helping the FBI crack a high-profile murder case in New York City, and she was planning to attend a graduate program with the bureau's Behavioral Analysis Unit when she got pregnant with her first child. Since then, Andrea, a self-described "employee of a breeding factory," has deduced that "suburban bliss" is as oxymoronic as "happy marriage."

The fatal shooting of Sasmal, an immigrant from India, is West Windsor's first murder in more than 30 years, but the town's Asian community has been feeling victimized for ages, as Andrea learns when she starts sniffing around, often with at least one child in tow. Also wanting a piece of the action is Kenny Lee, a Chinese American West Windsor resident and reporter for the Princeton Post. Like his childhood crush object Andrea, Kenny has had something of a career setback: "a Pulitzer at twenty-two, disgraced by twenty-seven, irrelevant at twenty-nine." Andrea wants justice; Kenny wants a Netflix series devoted to his work on the Sasmal story. To have a shot at achieving these goals, each needs the other, and not only, as in Andrea's case, for occasional babysitting.

Suburban Dicks is a well-oiled mystery, throughout which stereotypes fly from the mouths and pollute the minds of even well-meaning characters trying to get to the bottom of Sasmal's murder and the decades-old crime it points to. Nicieza, co-creator of Marvel's Deadpool, has set out to expose prejudice in all its hairy, shattering guises, and in so doing, he never fails to find a laugh where it hurts. --Nell Beram, author and freelance writer

Shelf Talker: This incessantly funny debut crime novel centers on an odd-couple pair who are investigating the murder of an Indian immigrant in their New Jersey town.

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. Love as a Business Strategy by Mohammad F. Anwar and Frank E. Danna
3. Swagger by Leslie Ehm
4. Frightfully Fortune (Miss Fortune Mysteries Book 20) by Jana DeLeon
5. From Blood and Ash by Jennifer L. Armentrout
6. The Crown of Gilded Bones by Jennifer L. Armentrout
7. Alpha's Vow (Shifter Ops series Book 2) by Renee Rose and Lee Savino
8. Dirty Martini by Lilian Hart
9. Blaze by Janie Crouch
10. Off the Record by Kristen Proby

[Many thanks to!]

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