Shelf Awareness for Thursday, July 22, 2021

Simon & Schuster: Fall Cooking With Simon Element

Tor Nightfire: Devils Kill Devils by Johnny Compton

Shadow Mountain: Highcliffe House (Proper Romance Regency) by Megan Walker

Simon & Schuster: Register for the Simon & Schuster Fall Preview!

Avid Reader Press / Simon & Schuster: The Ministry of Time Kaliane Bradley


Four Pines Bookstore Opens in Bemidji, Minn.

Gina Grinde, owner of Four Pines Bookstore in Bemidji, Minn., has seen an "overwhelming response" since opening the store on June 12, Lakeland News reported. Located in downtown Bemidji, the general-interest bookstore carries around 7,000 titles, with a strong emphasis on authors from the Bemidji area and throughout Minnesota.

Grinde noted that both she and her husband have backgrounds in business and are avid readers, but after Bemidji's only bookstore closed a few years ago, they had to buy their books out of town. They missed having a place nearby where they could "drop in and visit with everybody," and they felt there was a need in town.

The store, Grinde reported, has "been doing great so far," and they've already partnered with local businesses on things like their logos, bags and cups.

BINC: Do Good All Year - Click to Donate!

For Sale: Paperback Junction, Easton, Mass.

Owner Trisha Peterson has put Paperback Junction in Easton, Mass., up for sale. The 38-year-old bookstore carries around 10,000 new and used titles and has a particularly large children's section.

Peterson told Wicked Local that at 71 she feels it is time to retire, and she's looking for "someone who has always wanted to open a bookstore. Someone for whom owning a bookstore is a dream."

She reported that business has been very good, even with all the disruptions the pandemic caused, and when the store reopened to customers, "there was a long line at the door." Paperback Junction moved to a new location in 2018, which Peterson described as "even better" than the original.

Looking back at her career, Peterson said she has particularly enjoyed matching customers with new books and seeing children return to the store as adults to buy books for their own children. "There's never been a day I didn't love coming to work."

Peterson hopes to sell the store by January 2022 and is willing to stay on and help with the ownership transition.

Graphic Universe (Tm): Hotelitor: Luxury-Class Defense and Hospitality Unit by Josh Hicks

AAP: May Sales Rise 11.1%

Total net book sales in May in the U.S. rose 11.1%, to $1.06 billion, compared to May 2020, representing sales of 1,358 publishers and distributed clients as reported to the Association of American Publishers. May 2020 was the second full month reflecting lockdowns in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. For the year to date, total net sales rose 23.4%, to $5.12 billion.

Most trade categories had gains during May, with the segment as a whole up 7.9%, to $685.2 million. In terms of format, sales of hardcovers rose 18.7%, to $252.8 million; paperbacks rose 14.5%, to $229.9 million; mass market fell 15.1%, to $19.2 million; board books fell 4.8%, to $9 million; and e-books declined 23.4%, to $86.3 million.

Sales by category in May 2021 compared to May 2020:

GLOW: Workman Publishing: Atlas Obscura: Wild Life: An Explorer's Guide to the World's Living Wonders by Cara Giaimo, Joshua Foer, and Atlas Obscura

International Update: Canadian Audiobook Roundup, QBD Books a National Retail Awards Finalist

BookNet Canada offered a roundup of its recent research on the audiobooks category, taken from the latest studies Press Play: Audiobook Use in Canada 2020, Canadian Leisure & Reading Study 2020, Canadian Book Consumer Study 2020 and The State of Publishing in Canada 2019. Among the highlights: 

Audiobook sales in Canada increased 34% from 2018 to 2020.

Audiobook listeners comprise 37% of Canadians.... During the first COVID lockdown, 23% of Canadian readers were listening to more audiobooks than they previously did. 

In 2020, 24% of listeners listen daily or more than once a day, up from 7% in 2018.

Of those who engaged in reading activities on a weekly basis, 70% prefer audiobooks, 69% print books and 72% e-books.

The average Canadian audiobook listener listens to up to five audiobooks a year, with 62% listening while doing other things and 38% just listening. 

The majority of audiobook listeners use smartphones, a trend that has increased significantly--from only 17% in 2014 to 45% in 2016 to 67% in 2020. Other popular methods include computer (45% of listeners) or tablet (41%).

Downloading or streaming audiobooks for free was the most popular way (38%) for Canadian listeners to get their audiobooks in 2020, followed by purchasing (34%) from an online store and, tied for third at 31%, buying from a subscription service or borrowing from the public library.


Australian chain QBD Books is a finalist in the 2021 National Retail Awards in the Large Retailer of the Year category, Books + Publishing reported. QBD operates 81 stores, including two  Melbourne locations that opened in October 2020 and stores in Queensland and New South Wales that opened earlier this year.

"We are very excited to be named a finalist in the 2021 National Retail Awards," said CEO Nicholas Croydon. "This is a great honor following on from what has been a very challenging year for all retailers. We are also very proud of our dedicated and hard-working staff who worked tirelessly to provide service to customers during the pandemic."

The winner of the Large Retailer of the Year award will be announced August 27.


Dean Hoyle, chairman of U.K. discount retailer The Works, is stepping down from his position effective September 30, the Bookseller reported. He will be succeeded by Carolyn Bradley. Hoyle, founder of the Card Factory, has been involved with The Works for seven years, overseeing the opening of 200 new stores. The company operates more than 500 stores in the U.K. and Ireland.

"As we look to the future, [Hoyle] felt the time was right now to hand over the reins. He is still one of our biggest shareholders, I think he is our second biggest shareholder, and remains a supportive shareholder," said CEO Gavin Peck, adding that Bradley's appointment will be "a huge support" to him and the business, in particular her digital marketing and customer focus. 

Peck also observed that the chain is still "passionate" about books and making them affordable and convenient to buy, and that the company wants to work even closer with publishers in the future, the Bookseller wrote.


Bookseller moment: "Goodnight, goodnight from the coziest shop," Firefly & Fox Books in Simcoe, Ont., Canada, posted on Facebook earlier this week. --Robert Gray

Harpervia: Only Big Bumbum Matters Tomorrow by Damilare Kuku

Obituary Note: Joe McKinney

Joe McKinney

Joe McKinney, the prolific horror writer who won Bram Stoker Awards for his novels Flesh Eaters and Dog Days, died July 13, the San Antonio Current reported. He was 52.

McKinney published Dead City, his first novel, in 2006. In writing the book, which featured a San Antonio cop trying to survive the zombie apocalypse, McKinney drew from his experience as a sergeant with the San Antonio Police Department. Much of his work featured police procedural elements and was set in San Antonio.

Dead City was the first in a four-book series. McKinney went on to publish more than 20 books during his career and was nominated for the Bram Stoker Award six more times.

Lisa Morton, a six-time winner of the Bram Stoker Award who met McKinney in 2006, wrote that he was a "unique person, a helluva writer, and a fine friend," as well as "a cop who cried during fiction readings." They both served as Horror Writers Association (HWA) officers and trustees at various points and McKinney was "always a trusted voice of wisdom."

JG Faherty, a fellow horror writer and member of the HWA board, wrote that he was "terribly saddened to hear that a good friend and great writer," had died. "I will miss the chats we used to have every few months. He was always there to help me when I needed some factual assistance with police procedure, or to just bulls--t about things."


Rofhiwa Book Café's Artful Display Box

"A few weeks ago some of you may have noticed that one of our little display boxes disappeared for a few days," Rofhiwa Book Café, Durham, N.C. posted on Facebook. "It was in the capable care of @craigcutright for a little sprucing and it came back better than we could have imagined. What Craig created is nothing short of amazing, a mashup of Black authors and book covers:

  • Audre Lorde standing adjacent to a cover image of her book Zami: A New Spelling of My Name.
  • The eyes of James Baldwin (as pictured on the cover of I am Not Your Negro) combined with a cover image from Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe.
  • A portrait of Ralph Ellison beside a cover image of Richard Wright's Black Boy.

"We love this work. We love that it sits just below the children’s books. We love that we are in a community of artists and creators whose work resonates so deeply with our own. Thank you Craig!"

Tonight Show's 'Fallon Summer Reads' Picks The Plot by Jean Hanff Korelitz

On Tuesday, on the Tonight Show's "Fallon Summer Reads" segment, Jimmy Fallon announced that The Plot by Jean Hanff Korelitz (Celadon Books) has been selected as this summer's pick. Hundreds of thousands of viewers cast votes, and over the next weeks, Fallon will read the book and talk about it with readers on Twitter and Instagram (#FallonSummerReads). Korelitz will appear on the Tonight Show during the week of August 9.

In May, Shelf Awareness said, "This staggeringly good literary thriller is about a staggeringly good literary thriller written by a failed novelist who has stolen the book's plot from a deceased student."

Personnel Changes at Sourcebooks

Kay Birkner has been promoted to assistant publisher, associate director of publishing strategy for Sourcebooks Jabberwocky & Young Readers.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Ronald Brownstein on Fresh Air

Fresh Air: Ronald Brownstein, author of Rock Me on the Water: 1974, The Year Los Angeles Transformed Movies, Music, Television, and Politics (Harper, $29.99, 9780062899217).

Ellen repeat: Matthew McConaughey, author of Greenlights (Crown, $30, 9780593139134).

This Weekend on Book TV: Ban Ki-moon

Book TV airs on C-Span 2 this weekend from 8 a.m. Saturday to 8 a.m. Monday and focuses on political and historical books as well as the book industry. The following are highlights for this coming weekend. For more information, go to Book TV's website.

Saturday, July 24
9 a.m. Alaina Roberts, author of I've Been Here All the While: Black Freedom on Native Land (‎University of Pennsylvania Press, $34.95, 9780812253030). (Re-airs Saturday at 9 p.m.)

4:55 p.m. John Dickie, author of The Craft: How the Freemasons Made the Modern World (PublicAffairs, $32, 9781610398671). (Re-airs Sunday at 4:55 a.m.)

7 p.m. Bryan Burrough, Chris Tomlinson and Jason Stanford, authors of Forget the Alamo: The Rise and Fall of an American Myth (‎Penguin Press, $32, 9781984880093). (Re-airs Sunday at 7 a.m.)

Sunday, July 25
8 a.m. Brandon Fleming, author of Miseducated: A Memoir (‎Hachette Books, $28, 9780306925139). (Re-airs Sunday at 8 p.m.)

8:55 a.m. Yasmeen Abutaleb and Damian Paletta, authors of Nightmare Scenario: Inside the Trump Administration's Response to the Pandemic That Changed History (‎Harper, $30, 9780063066052). (Re-airs Sunday at 8:55 p.m.)

10 a.m. Wayne Phelps, author of On Killing Remotely: The Psychology of Killing with Drones (‎Little, Brown, $29, 9780316628297). (Re-airs Sunday at 10 p.m.)

4 p.m. Former U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, author of Resolved: Uniting Nations in a Divided World (Columbia University Press, $27.95, 9780231198721). (Re-airs Monday at 4 a.m.)

5:10 p.m. Michael O'Hanlon, author of The Art of War in an Age of Peace: U.S. Grand Strategy and Resolute Restraint (‎Yale University Press, $28, 9780300256772). (Re-airs Monday at 5:10 a.m.)

7:20 p.m. Carol Leonnig and Phil Rucker, authors of I Alone Can Fix It: Donald J. Trump's Catastrophic Final Year (Penguin Press, $30, 9780593298947).

7:50 p.m. Former NBA player Ekpe Udoh discusses his online book club.

Books & Authors

Awards: Ngaio Marsh Longlists

Longlists have been unveiled for the 2021 Ngaio Marsh Awards for New Zealand crime, mystery or thriller writing, Books + Publishing reported. The finalists for best novel, first novel and nonfiction book will be announced August 28 at the WORD Christchurch Festival, and winners named at a WORD Christchurch event in October. Check out this year's longlisted titles here.

Attainment: New Titles Out Next Week

Selected new titles appearing next Tuesday, July 27:

Fierce Little Thing: A Novel by Miranda Beverly-Whittemore (‎Flatiron, $27.99, 9781250779427) follows five adults forced to return to the rural commune where they lived as teenagers.

How to Find Your Way in the Dark by Derek B. Miller (Mariner, $26, 9780358269601) is a coming of age story that takes place in New England during the run-up to World War II.

Below the Edge of Darkness: A Memoir of Exploring Light and Life in the Deep Sea by Edith Widder (‎Random House, $28, 9780525509240) is the memoir of a marine biologist who studies bioluminescence.

Bad Sister by Charise Mericle Harper, illus. by Rory Lucey (First Second, $19.99, 9781250219060) is a middle-grade graphic novel about a girl who realizes she might just be a bad sister.

The Bad Seed Presents: The Good, the Bad, and the Spooky by Jory John, illus. by Pete Oswald (HarperFestival, $10.99, 9780062954541) features a Bad Seed who is determined to cancel Halloween because he can't find the perfect costume.

I Give It to You: A Novel by Valerie Martin (Vintage, $17, 9780593082119).

Safe in My Arms by Sara Shepard (‎Dutton, $17, 9781524746780).

The Man Ban by Nicola Marsh (Berkley, $16, 9780593198643).

IndieBound: Other Indie Favorites

From last week's Indie bestseller lists, available at, here are the recommended titles, which are also Indie Next Great Reads:

Songs in Ursa Major: A Novel by Emma Brodie (Knopf, $26.95, 9780593318621). "Songs in Ursa Major is the perfect summer book recommendation. It should be read with music right out of Laurel Canyon playing in the background." --Linda McLoughlin Figel, pages: a bookstore, Manhattan Beach, Calif.

The Forest of Vanishing Stars: A Novel by Kristin Harmel (Gallery, $28, 9781982158934). "A little girl is kidnapped from her parents and raised in the wilderness. As a young woman, she uses her skills to help Jewish refugees survive in the forests of Poland. From the first page, I didn't want to put the book down." --Jill Gregory, A Likely Story, Sykesville, Md.

The Way She Feels by Courtney Cook (Tin House, $18.95, 9781951142599). "This memoir is vital in that it humanizes one of the most commonly misunderstood and highly stigmatized mental illnesses--borderline personality disorder. The Way She Feels beautifully illustrates the incredible strength and perseverance it can take to cope with mental illness." --Mary Wahlmeier, Raven Book Store, Lawrence, Kan.

For Ages 4 to 8
Lala's Words: A Story of Planting Kindness by Gracey Zhang (Scholastic, $18.99, 9781338648232). "Little Lala helps the weeds in the vacant lot blossom into full, gorgeous plants just by talking to them and showing them a little love. This picture book is breathtaking, and Zhang's use of color really helps the story come alive. It's like a modern inverse of The Giving Tree." --Paul Swydan, The Silver Unicorn Bookstore, Acton, Mass.

For Ages 8-12
The Last Super Chef by Chris Negron (HarperCollins, $16.99, 9780062943132). "This book is the classic combination of underdog competitive story and child looking for a lost parent, that makes your heart warm. Absolutely adored all of the fun this book had and loved that it didn't shy away from teaching you things about cooking!" --Thomas Wilkerson, BookPeople, Austin, Tex.

For Teen Readers: An Indies Introduce Title
Don't Hate the Player by Alexis Nedd (Bloomsbury YA, $17.99, 9781547605026). "This nerdy romcom from a debut author will have you competing with friends for who can read it first. Have you ever been on the edge of your seat yelling at a book that is writing about a live streaming video game competition? I have now and highly recommend you do too!" --Nichole Cousins, The Yankee Bookshop, Woodstock, Vt.

[Many thanks to IndieBound and the ABA!]

Book Review

Review: Paradise: One Town's Struggle to Survive an American Wildfire

Paradise: One Town's Struggle to Survive an American Wildfire by Lizzie Johnson (Crown, $28 hardcover, 432p., 9780593136386, August 17, 2021)

For some five years, San Francisco Chronicle staff writer Lizzie Johnson devoted her professional life to covering wildfires, as part of the broader subject of climate change. Her first book, Paradise: One Town's Struggle to Survive an American Wildfire, is a terrifyingly intimate account of the Camp Fire that killed 85 people and laid waste to the rustic northern California town of Paradise, "a tinderbox nestled between two geological chimneys," instantly turning it into a vision of Hell.

Early on the morning of November 8, 2018, gale force winds dislodged a section of Pacific Gas & Electric electrical line from a poorly maintained 100-year-old transmission tower and deposited it onto the bone-dry grass of a region that had received 0.88 inches of rain in the preceding six months. With that, the deadly Camp Fire was born. The ravenous blaze spread at an almost incomprehensible speed, obliterating Paradise, home to some 26,500 people, in barely four hours, destroying 95% of its commercial buildings and 90% of its residences, 18,800 structures in all.

Paradise is a moment-by-moment chronicle of the fire, seen through the eyes of the town's terrified residents and the local and state officials who fought frantically to contain it and to reduce the unimaginable toll of life and property damage. Johnson's account is comprehensive and her descriptions of the inferno are vivid and immediate, like one of the "hundreds of flaming matchsticks" that "swirled over the furniture, fingering framed family photos like looters, then incinerating the entire place within minutes."

Johnson conducted more than 500 interviews and lived part-time in Paradise while reporting these events. Her extensive access to residents of the town is evident in dramatic stories like that of Rachelle Sanders, who gave birth to her son Lincoln less than 24 hours before the fire began, and who was rescued by a middle-aged biomedical technician with a heart arrhythmia she knew only as "David." Or Kevin McKay, a school bus driver who dodged flaming debris along the town's handful of traffic-clogged escape routes to pilot a bus containing 22 elementary school children to safety. 

For all the courage and heroism Johnson recounts, she clearly identifies her principal villain: PG&E. Though the company pleaded guilty to one count of unlawfully causing a fire and 84 counts of involuntary manslaughter, the maximum fine imposed amounted to about 20 cents for each of its customers. And as Johnson thoroughly explains, other culprits like climate change, flawed forestry management and haphazard development in the wildland-urban interface guarantee that the Camp Fire won't be the last or the worst catastrophic wildfire. --Harvey Freedenberg, freelance reviewer

Shelf Talker: A skilled reporter's vivid account of one small community's encounter with a deadly wildfire.

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