Also published on this date: Wednesday, June 30, 2021: Maximum Shelf: Dear Highlights

Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, June 30, 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


N.C.'s Epilogue Books Chocolate Brews Expanding

Epilogue Books Chocolate Brews, Chapel Hill, N.C., which opened in November 2019 in a 3,600-square-foot location, is expanding into the space next door and adding 2,200 square feet. Triangle Business Journal reported that co-owners Jaime and Miranda Sanchez "did not anticipate Covid-19 would disrupt their book cafe business five months after opening. They also did not expect the opportunity for expansion would come this soon."

The spaces will be connected, but with different names to distinguish the concepts. Epilogue will continue to be the cafe and new book space, while Prologue will house used, rare and collectible books alongside additional cafe seating, Triangle Business Journal wrote. Prologue will also feature a private room that can be rented for events, classes and office hours for university professors.

"We're making a bet on the community that supported us during the pandemic. We're investing more in them and in us," Jaime Sanchez said, adding that one reason the expansion is feasible is because book sales increased during the pandemic, rising from 20% of revenue to about 40%, due in part to a jump in online sales.

Sanchez is optimistic revenue will continue to grow and exceed pre-Covid totals due to the expansion and formation of additional revenue streams. "Pre-pandemic, we were just chasing the growth," he said. "During the pandemic, we were able to stop and assess what made us great and capitalized our build on that."

Even as the owners' expansion dreams are progressing in Chapel Hill, Sanchez suggested the next potential step could be opening a location in Durham.

BINC: Do Good All Year - Click to Donate!

ALA Annual Keynote: Barack Obama's 'A Promised Land'

On Tuesday afternoon, the 2021 ALA annual conference closed with a keynote conversation between former President Barack Obama and Lonnie G. Bunch III, the 14th secretary of the Smithsonian and first African American appointed to the role. Obama last spoke to the ALA conference in Chicago in 2005; yesterday, he and Bunch discussed Obama's memoir A Promised Land (Crown).

Julius Jefferson, outgoing president of ALA, opened the event by announcing new positions--such as division presidents and the executive board--and passing the "presidential gavel" to Patricia "Patty" Wong, the first Asian American president of ALA. Turning his introduction to Obama, Jefferson said, "Later this year, he will become one of our own as the ground breaks on the... Obama Presidential Center in Chicago's Jackson Park. It will house a new 5,000-square-foot Chicago Public Library branch."

"To know that I now have a possible title as a librarian," Obama said at the beginning of his conversation with Bunch, "is a capstone to the career." He thanked Bunch and all the librarians watching, because libraries are "citadels of knowledge and empathy and they've been extraordinarily important in my life." Bunch started by asking the former president why he chose the title A Promised Land. Obama said he felt that that book chronicles the story of a young man's identity that leads him to try to weave his own story with the broader American story. The "American experiment," he said, "tells a story of both something new and something that has the possibility of heralding progress for humanity but also is still burdened by all the past that we inherit--the past of slavery, the past of Jim Crow, the past of economic stratification.... That is all part of our past, as are the glories."

How then, Bunch asked, does Obama deal with "the implacable weight of the past?" Obama said it's good to know how we got to where we are, to figure out where we're going: "We don't have to presume racism has the same sharp edge as it did 50 years ago to acknowledge and recognize that all that accumulated discrimination is reflected in our social and institutional arrangements today." Bunch noted that Obama is "somebody who has forever been linked to hope." What, Bunch asked, gives him hope? "Young people give me hope," Obama answered. "They are as sophisticated, as thoughtful, as idealistic as any generation I think we've ever seen. They are biased in the direction of inclusion. They find it hard to imagine a time when people were discriminated against.... They fundamentally understand issues... in ways that, at [that] age, I did not. They make me feel optimistic." Additionally, their generation isn't "cynical about the need for change and their ability to act in the world. They are cynical about our existing institutions."

Bunch used that comment as a launching point for his next question: "Part of the task of restoring America is not only to reaffirm some core values... it's also empowering these young people... [and figuring out] what these new institutions look like.... Are you optimistic about the strength of our civic institutions?" January 6 was a turning point for the former president: "The guardrails I thought were in place around many of our democratic institutions really depend on the two parties agreeing to those ground rules. That one of them doesn't seem as committed to them as previous generations, that worries me." He went on to say that a central question is "how do we get back to a place where all of us as citizens at least agree on certain baseline facts and certain core principles?" Museums, libraries, journalism, Obama said, are responsible in part "to give all of us some common baseline... by which we then sort out our differences. And I think that is not as strong as it has been in the past.... We're going to have work to do in rebuilding that unifying story of America. I think, if I learned one thing during my presidency, it's the power of stories. Since we're talking to a bunch of librarians, I want to let them know that what they do is more important than ever."

When Bunch asked Obama his thoughts on where the country "should be," Obama pointed out, "You and I are testaments to the fact that genuine progress has been made." However, "the fact that you have a handful of successful African Americans does not suggest somehow that racism's been eradicated.... In our lifetimes, things are different. That's indisputable. And different better. What is true is that our country never did the kind of full accounting that would allow for changes in institutions that would make up for that difficult past." But Obama remains optimistic. "I think that the extraordinary protests that occurred after George Floyd and the fact that they were not just Black folks... that signifies a recognition and sophistication that gives me hope. How," he asked, "do you build on that and institutionalize it and turn it into concrete actions?" Obama finished the conversation with a hopeful message for anyone: "Whatever you do is not going to be everything, but if it moves the boulder up the hill, then it's useful." --Siân Gaetano, children's and YA editor, Shelf Awareness

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

International Update: 'Modest' 2020 Sales Dip for French Publishers, Ridout New IPG Chair

Sales for French book publishers fell by a "modest" 2.3% last year to around €2.7 billion (about $3.2 billion), a result indicating that books have an “exceptional resilience," Syndicat National de l'Edition noted after its annual general meeting on June 24, the Bookseller reported.

"Bookshops' closure for three-and-a-half months, because of the pandemic, could have been a disaster for our sector," said SNE president Vincent Montagne. "But the exceptional rebound in the summer and at the end of 2020 demonstrated the French people's unfailing support for books and bookshops."

French President Emmanuel Macron recently announced that reading will be the next year-long "great national cause," starting this summer. The Bookseller noted that "the 'great national cause' label was created in 1977. The theme changes each year, and has ranged from discrimination to AIDS."  


Amanda Ridout

Amanda Ridout, founder of Boldwood Books, has been named the new chair of the Independent Publishers Guild. She succeeds Martin Casimir, formerly of Maths--No Problem! and Bloomsbury. Ridout is succeeded as vice-chair by Phil Turner, co-founder and managing director of Meze Publishing. 

Ridout commented: "I am excited to be taking over as chair at a time when, alongside the continuing challenges of a post-pandemic world, there are many opportunities for independent publishers to reset their agendas and create a new and better normal. The IPG will be with its members every step of the way in building the new future together."


Indian bookseller Rakesh Kumar Singh, owner of Harmony--The Bookshop in Varanasi is keeping faith in the return of customers once the pandemic ends, reported, adding that during the first Covid-19 lockdown last year, "Singh said that he couldn't even return to open the shop or stockroom to check on the books. There was no sale during this period. By the second wave, however, he was prepared to continue distribution."

"I had established all these online channels pre-pandemic, including our website for online orders in India and abroad," he recalled. "I have since been active during the second lockdown in supplying books around Varanasi and India. I have been subsidizing the shipping process within Varanasi, too, and some readers have come to collect the books from outside the bookshop."

Despite finding ways to stay in business during the pandemic, Singh said he misses the community feeling most: "It's not just about selling, but also about learning from my customers. It's never possible online. Online sale is a faceless, strange interaction--very soulless in a way. Only the true Banarasis are still here. But I'm sure they'll all be back.... There are so many who have told me that their heart is in Banaras, even if the body is in the West!" --Robert Gray

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

Janis Segress Leaving Seattle's Queen Anne Book Company

Janis Segress

Janis Segress is leaving Queen Anne Book Company, Seattle, Wash., to become national vendor manager at Thrift Books, effective July 2. In 2013, Segress, Judy de Jonge and de Jonge's husband, Krijn de Jonge, opened the bookstore as a successor to Queen Anne Books, which had been closed for half a year. Earlier, Segress had been head buyer at Eagle Harbor Book Company on Bainbridge Island for seven years.

In a letter to book friends, Segress, who has been manager as well as co-owner of Queen Anne Book Company, said the catalyst for the move was "a very good offer," leading to a "decision [that] was not made easily.

"You all know that my heart and soul is in QABC, with my family here, my customers, and my community. It is also with each you, book friends whom I have worked with and come to know over the years. You all know that we indie booksellers are here because of our passion for books and core belief of their intrinsic value to the world at large, not the money.

"The past year was a good time to reflect on life realities and I realized it was time for me to provide for myself in a different way. The stability that financial peace will bring is a necessity at this point in my life; not getting any younger!...

"I am honored to have been able to actualize my life goal of building my own bookstore ground up and managing it daily. I have relished and taken joy in every minute, the easy and hard ones, of the past eight years. QABC is what it is because of my amazing business partners Judy and Krijn and our incredibly talented team. I am leaving my dream in extremely capable and compassionate hands."

She noted that staff at Queen Anne Book Company, as of July, are:

Owners Judy de Jonge and Krijn de Jonge;
Wendee Wieking, manager and sidelines buyer;
Tegan Tigani, children's buyer and interim adult buyerl
Ellen McLaren, who is in training to take over as adult buyer;
booksellers James Davidson, Erin Malone, Rachel Pearson (the store is in the process of hiring two part-time booksellers).

S&S's Gallery Books Group Launches 13A

Simon & Schuster's Gallery Books Group is creating an imprint, 13A, dedicated to publishing "renowned, relevant, Black voices in culture and politics." 13A will be headed by Charles M. Suitt, who Jennifer Bergstrom, senior v-p and publisher of Gallery Books Group, described as "a born book publisher--he has great taste, great connections, and great enthusiasm. We are delighted to have him back at Simon & Schuster."

13A, which refers to the constitutional amendment that abolished slavery, will begin releasing books in July with a revised edition of Patti LaBelle's cookbook LaBelle Cuisine. Next year it will begin publishing original works, including a book of autobiographical essays by ESPN on-air personality Stephen A. Smith; a cookbook from chef Aisha "Pinky" Cole (aka the Slutty Vegan); and a memoir by former basketball star Allen Iverson.

Suitt called 13A "a home for authors who have achieved success in multiple arenas, often preceded by a journey on the road less traveled. Our list is populated by books with stories that matter, that are meant to inspire, and I hope, encourage readers to aspire to follow their dreams."

Suitt has had a career in entertainment and producing. Among other ventures, he has been an executive at Universal, founded Foundry Media Group, co-founded Patti's Good Life Inc. (which specializes in Patti Labelle's sweet potato pie) and is a principal of Maduro Venture Partners.

In 2008, Charles partnered with Simon & Schuster to co-found Karen Hunter Publishing. Its bestsellers included Janet Jackson's True You; Patti LaBelle's Recipes for the Good Life; Congressman Keith Ellison's My Country, Tis of Thee; Kris Jenner's Kris Jenner... and All Things Kardashian; and E. Lynn Harris's Mama Dearest.

Hakim’s Bookstore Selected for ESPN's #ChampionBlackBusinesses Initiative

Hakim's Bookstore, Philadelphia, Pa., is one of four businesses selected to participate in this year's #ChampionBlackBusinesses initiative. Following CBB's debut in 2020, ESPN, in collaboration with The Undefeated, the NBA and ABC, is returning with the initiative to "elevate Black-owned businesses and their stories and cement the importance their imprint has on their communities across ESPN platforms during Conference Finals and beyond."

Hakim's is a family-owned book and gift store "founded by Dawud Hakim in the late 1950s to educate his community about the heritage, culture and contributions of African Americans." Also selected to participate in CBB were Lomar Farms in Palisades, N.Y.; Ride On! Bike Shop in Los Angeles, Calif.; and the Cookie Society in Dallas, Tex. 

Also returning is ESPN's partnership with the ABC program Shark Tank, where the Sharks will review the business portfolios in a one-on-one mentor session and make recommendations. ESPN is working with women- and Black-owned marketing agency JOY Collective for the initiative.

"We are so proud to be able to bring this initiative back and continue to champion the Black community," said Emeka Ofodile, v-p of sports marketing, ESPN. "The NBA Playoffs are not only a time to celebrate athletes fighting for a championship, but a great opportunity to share the stories of Black-owned businesses who are fighting to impact their communities every day."

To create sustainable community impact, The Undefeated's Music for the Movement is providing in-kind and financial support of $40,000. V-p and editor-in-chief Raina Kelley said: "This year's involvement with the #ChampionBlackBusinesses initiative is an opportunity to push awareness to the next level. The collaborative effort between all of us plus fan engagement will make it a success."


Image of the Day: Laguna Beach Books Honored

Laguna Beach Books, Laguna Beach, Calif., and its owner, Jane Hanauer, received a Certificate of Recognition from the California State Assembly, the June 2021 Business Spotlight for the 74th Assembly District in the city of Laguna Beach. Pictured: (l.-r.) city manager Shohreh Dupuis, Chamber of Commerce ambassador Annette Malinowski, assembly member Cottie Petrie-Norris, Laguna Beach Books owner Jane Hanauer, Mayor Bob Whalen and Mayor Pro Tem Sue Kempf. 

Chuck Robinson: Building Community Was Our 'Mission'

Dee and Chuck Robinson

"The mission of our store was to build community," said Chuck Robinson, co-founder of Village Books and Paper Dreams in Bellingham, Wash., in a profile published recently in Whatcom Talk.

In 1980 he and his wife, Dee Robinson, opened Village Books, with Paper Dreams following two years later. After a number of moves and expansions, the businesses were combined in 2004. In 2015 they opened a second Village Books location in Lynden, Wash. The Robinsons retired in 2017, after nearly 40 years in the book business, and sold the store to Paul Hanson, Kelly Evert and Sarah Hutton.

Robinson continued: "That's what it was all along and that's why we were thrilled with the people who bought the store, with Paul and Kelly and Sarah, they see that as their mission as well."

Personnel Changes at Bloomsbury Children's

Phoebe Dyer has been promoted to assistant marketing manager at Bloomsbury Children's. She was previously marketing associate.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Chelsea Wald on Fresh Air

Fresh Air: Chelsea Wald, author of Pipe Dreams: The Urgent Global Quest to Transform the Toilet (Avid Reader Press, $27, 9781982116217).

Late Night with Seth Meyers repeat: Jake Tapper, author of The Devil May Dance: A Novel (Little, Brown, $28, 9780316530231).

On Stage: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child will reopen November 16 at the Lyric Theatre on Broadway in an altered form. Playbill reported that when the production returns from its Covid-19 hiatus, "it will be presented as one show instead of in two parts. Playwright Jack Thorne and director John Tiffany, who conceived the story with original series author J.K. Rowling, say they have been at work on the condensed version as theatres remained dark."

In addition, performances at the Curran in San Francisco will begin January 11, 2022, with the Canadian premiere at the Ed Mirvish Theatre in Toronto next May.

Producers Sonia Friedman and Colin Callender said: "Given the challenges of remounting and running a two-part show in the U.S. on the scale of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, and the commercial challenges faced by the theatre and tourism industries emerging from the global shutdowns, we are excited to be able to move forward with a new version of the play that allows audiences to enjoy the complete Cursed Child adventure in one sitting eight times a week." 

Books & Authors

Awards: Griffin Poetry Winners

Valzhyna Mort's Music for the Dead and Resurrected, and Canisia Lubrin's The Dyzgraphxst were the international and Canadian category winners respectively of the 2021 Griffin Poetry Prize. They each receive C$65,000 (about US$52,850), with the other finalists awarded C$10,000 (about US$8,130).

Reading with... Jessamyn Stanley

photo: Cornell Watson

Jessamyn Stanley is an internationally acclaimed voice in wellness, known for her insights on 21st-century yoga and intersectional identity. She is the founder of The Underbelly, a streaming wellness app and community, co-host of the podcast Dear Jessamyn and co-founder of We Go High, a North Carolina-based cannabis justice initiative. She is a regular contributor to SELF magazine and has been featured in the New York Times, Vogue and Sports Illustrated. She is the author of Every Body Yoga: Let Go of Fear. Get on the Mat. Love Your Body. Her latest book is the essay collection Yoke: My Yoga of Self-Acceptance (Workman, June 22, 2021).

On your nightstand now: 

No Jim Crow Church: The Origins of South Carolina's Bahá'í Community by Louis Venters

I was drawn to read No Jim Crow Church because I am a third-generation Bahá'í and a descendent of South Carolina's Bahá'í community, and being able to look at my family's history has felt very important to me, to see a snapshot of my family through time. I've had a lot of conflict with my Bahá'í upbringing, and learning about my heritage has been deeply healing. 

Favorite book when you were a child:

Anything from The Baby-Sitters Club 

Your top five authors:

Jeffrey Eugenides
Marjane Satrapi
Jhumpa Lahiri
Maya Angelou
Anne Lamott

Book you've faked reading:

The Metamorphosis, but then again--I used to say anything to get laid.

Book you're an evangelist for:

Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides 

Jeffrey Eugenides does such an incredible job of showcasing humanity and the power of the blood that we all carry within us. 

Book you've bought for the cover:

Making Faces by Kevyn Aucoin.

Book you hid from your parents:

Wifey by Judy Blume. This was actually my mom's book--I took it without permission and read it. I found it is SCANDALOUS! I read it because it's Judy Blume, and I masturbated to it for years and took it with me to boarding school. But if they knew I was reading it, they would know why, so I had to hide it.

Book that changed your life:

The Odyssey by Homer. I have to be honest with you. I only read two or three of the books I was supposed to read during my freshman year of high school, and I pretty much read Sparknotes for everything else. This one, I read cover to cover. So powerful and so relevant, even though it's old as f**k.

Five books you'll never part with:

The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz.
The Fifth Agreement by Don Jose Ruiz, Don Miguel Ruiz and Janet Mills.
Light on Life: The Yoga Journey to Wholeness, Inner Peace, and Ultimate Freedom by B.K.S. Iyengar. He wrote a lot of books during his lifetime, and it is really interesting to read this one after having read his earlier books. His understanding of yoga and what it means to practice evolved so much throughout his life. I am grateful he took the time to record his practice because it is so relatable. I find it to be invaluable as I move through my own life.
The Seat of the Soul by Gary Zukav.
The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron.

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

Sula by Toni Morrison. I read this my sophomore year of high school, and I loved it so much, but I don't remember what I loved about it, I just really remember connecting to the characters. I was so young, and so many of the themes would hit me very differently now.

A book that inspired you as a writer: 

Reading stories by other Black women about the way they see the world has been very influential for me, and one of first books that gave me that experience was Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston.

Book Review

Children's Review: Obie Is Man Enough

Obie Is Man Enough by Schuyler Bailar (Crown Books for Young Readers, $16.99 hardcover, 352p., ages 10-up, 9780593379462, September 7, 2021)

Schuyler Bailar's powerful middle-grade debut highlights the triumphs and struggles of an adolescent transgender competitive swimmer.

After Korean American Zechariah-Obadiah "Obie" Chang begins identifying as a boy, he endures transphobic epithets hurled by his coach, abandonment by his two best friends and both physical and verbal assaults in the boys' bathroom. Traumatized but proud of himself and fueled by his passion for swimming, he joins a new team and learns to face school without his old friends.

Obie frequently updates two private lists: "People who believe I'm man enough" and "People who don't." While his parents and brother remain staunch believers in his maleness, the inhabitants of both lists shift, paralleling the conflicts in the narrative and hinting at Obie's allies and changing relationships. Despite joining a new team, Obie continues to be bullied when he encounters his old coach and teammates at swim meets. When a family member dies, though, Obie discovers that his new cis male teammates support him and they swiftly become allies. Obie's myriad mentors include his Halmoni (grandmother), brother Jae-sung, beloved English teacher Mrs. Salmani, and a handful of others who gently guide him toward embracing all facets of his identity while they validate and reinforce his manhood. Jae-sung gives Obie a pep talk before his first date; Halmoni, touchingly, explains to Obie that men never used to cook, but times change. "Men can cook, too," she says, "So, I teach you." Bailar thoughtfully crafts each of the mentor relationships with humor and grace, using each person to help broaden Obie into a well-rounded character.

Bailar, the first trans athlete to compete in any sport on an NCAA Division One men's team, includes a message and content warning to trans readers, a letter to cisgender readers, a glossary of LGBTQ+ terms and mental health resources. He encapsulates the mind of a seventh-grader by punctuating the traditional narration with Obie's text conversations with peers. Additionally, Obie's journal realistically encompasses thoughtful processing, anxiety about trying on "male" swimsuits or visiting the boys' restroom and sweet wonderings about his crush. For example, when his crush remarks that Obie is different from other boys she's been with, he breathes a sigh of relief when he realizes she means "good different. Not trans different." Bailar also dovetails the book's narrative with an evolving personal essay about how Obie's Korean heritage has shaped the young man he is growing to be. It mirrors the setbacks, growth and ultimate successes Obie experiences. --Kieran Slattery, freelance reviewer, teacher, co-creator of Gender Inclusive Classrooms

Shelf Talker: This heartfelt middle-grade novel follows a Korean American transmasculine swimmer committed to thriving in his cultural and gender identities.

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