Also published on this date: Monday, August 10 Dedicated Issue: Sharjah International Book Fair 2021--40th Edition

Shelf Awareness for Monday, August 9, 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


ABA CEO Allison Hill's Letter to Members

Allison Hill, CEO of the American Booksellers Association, has sent the following letter to bookseller members:

I wanted to share an update following my July 14 email about the incidents surrounding Blackout and Irreversible Damage and what we've been doing the past few weeks in response.

We began with an investigation of the incidents and an audit of all ABA procedures and programs, and we listened to more than 100 members--those both directly and indirectly impacted--to help inform our plan as we move forward. I'd like to thank members of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee; the ABC Advisory Council; the Booksellers Advisory Council; the ABA Board; and ABA staff, as well as the many individual booksellers and bookstore owners who engaged with us and helped us with these efforts.

Here is what we know:

Blackout: A staff person was filling in on creating the bestseller list while the staff person typically responsible was on vacation. Rather than pull the cover image by ISBN as they had been trained to do, they pulled the image by the title, Blackout, and didn't realize they had pulled the wrong cover image--same title, different book. They did not check the cover image against the title and author listed. They were not familiar with Candace Owens' face, so they did not recognize her on the cover of the wrong book. A second employee, new to copyediting, was charged with proofreading the bestseller list before it went out but they didn't check to ensure that the correct cover image was used. It was a terrible mistake with terrible racist implications. However, based on our investigation and the demonstrated diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) commitment of these individuals, we have no reason to believe the action was malicious in intention.

The employees are very apologetic and very committed to vigilance going forward. They have been held accountable and have agreed to training, both on procedures as well as on DEI, and we have added layers of checks and balances to this process.

Irreversible Damage and ABA's Box Mailings: The box mailing has been an effective mailing service for publishers, ABA, and booksellers. Publishers pay ABA to include titles in the box, and ABA sends it to eligible bookstores. Until now, no one has ever reviewed or screened the titles submitted by publishers. It has been a pay-to-play program.

Bookstores that report sales and submit Indie Next List nominations are eligible to receive the boxes. The policy to not review or screen titles submitted is in line with many members' preference to not have ABA decide what books they have access to, preferring to review books themselves to determine what they read, buy, sell, and promote. (We've heard from members--those impacted both directly and indirectly--over the past three weeks who still feel that way despite being horrified by this book.)

Ironically, ABA is paid by the publishers for this mailing service but ultimately loses money on this program; we consider it a service to members. Regardless of all of this, when we included this book in the box, we violated our commitment to equity and inclusion and we caused harm.

We will wait to institute a new permanent box mailing policy until the Board reviews the ends policies at its August meeting. We can then interpret the ends policies and implement new processes surrounding box mailings if applicable. In the meantime, the September box mailing books will be screened and flagged by a team of staff members who are charged with bringing titles to senior staff's attention that meet the United Nations' criteria for hate speech--"any kind of communication in speech, writing, or behaviour that attacks or uses pejorative or discriminatory language with reference to a person or a group on the basis of who they are"--and thus violate ABA's commitment to equity and inclusion.

For now, we will begin implementing checks and balances, including conveying our expectation to publishers that books submitted for the mailing adhere to our equity and inclusion policy. Beginning in November, transparency will include a note in all boxes that describes how the box mailing works. This information will also be available on BookWeb.

ABA has done significant DEI work these past 18 months. Yet we also caused significant harm with these recent incidents. That these two things can coexist is difficult to understand, but it demonstrates how layered DEI work is and how vigilant we have to be. We've discovered cracks in what we believed was a solid foundation on which we built our work. We are determined to address those cracks, build more checks and balances, and institutionalize our efforts.

We've spent the last few weeks building a plan with those goals in mind and are taking the following steps forward.

Planned improvements:

  • Conduct an in-house audit of all ABA systems and programs (in progress), reviewing everything through a DEI lens and ensuring that strong checks and balances are in place;
  • Publish a new page on BookWeb that offers information about all ABA programs and services to ensure full transparency to membership (September);
  • Create a new Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Access Membership Manager position that is responsible for outreach to and support of marginalized members, as well as West Coast members in general. (Membership team members have responsibilities in addition to supporting specific regions.) The job listing will be posted next week. This position will support BIPOC, LGBTQIA+, Two-Spirit, and Disabled members; conduct outreach to ABA members and non-ABA members of those communities; convey the needs of marginalized members to ABA staff; communicate educational programming ideas to support these communities; participate on ABA's DEI Committee; and help review scholarship nominations for ABA conferences;
  • Add a new Copyeditor position (job listing will be posted next week) responsible for copyediting and proofreading all content and communication for members, reviewing for conscious language and an awareness of equity and inclusion issues;
  • Initiate a beta Advance Access program (a galley-on-demand program) for marginalized voices--waiving the promotional fee and subsidizing shipping costs for small presses (in development). This will hopefully get more galleys by BIPOC, LGBTQIA+, Two-Spirit, and Disabled individuals into booksellers' hands and create a flywheel effect: As publishers see the demand and the subsequent sales of these books, the hope is that they will print more of these galleys for wider distribution and publish more of these authors in general;
  • Beginning in October, hold a quarterly LGBTQIA+ forum between members and ABA staff for booksellers and bookstore owners in the LGBTQIA+ community to have the opportunity to communicate concerns and express their needs (similar to the already existing quarterly BIPOC forum);
  • Add an annual session on Queer history and activism to ABA's staff equity training calendar (slated for fall);
  • Purchase 100 copies of Blackout for its authors, Dhonielle Clayton, Tiffany D. Jackson, Nic Stone, Angie Thomas, Ashley Woodfolk, and Nicola Yoon--600 copies total--to distribute as they wish (in process);
  • Donate $5,000 to the Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund (in process). This organization, suggested by members impacted by the recent incident, provides legal support for name changes, advocacy for health insurance coverage for the needs of trans individuals, and pursues legal cases seeking to expand transgender civil rights.

Again, thank you for your engagement and ideas. We believe that these steps will build on the progress that's already being made, reduce the risk of incidents happening again, and institutionalize DEI work for the association. Our commitment is strong and we're dedicating resources necessary for improvement. We know it will take time to rebuild trust within our community. We hope our progress will be evident as we show receipts going forward.

ABA is continuing all of our support of independent bookstores. We know that our primary responsibility is to help your stores survive and thrive and our main focus continues to be on education, advocacy, ecommerce, and resources for all of you. We are currently putting the final touches on Children's Institute, planning Winter Institute, working on an ABA strategic plan, moving forward with IndieCommerce improvements, lobbying for antitrust regulation, and looking at ways to more effectively communicate with all of you and get you what you need. We appreciate your support as we move forward.

Harper: Our Kind of Game by Johanna Copeland

IPC's September Indie Playlists

The theme for the September Indie Playlist book promotion, an initiative created by the Independent Publishers Caucus to support independent bookstores across the country, has been announced: Dazzling Debuts. The Dazzling Debut playlist includes 16 titles from IPC members and can be seen here.

IPC is running a display contest tied to the September Indie Playlists that includes displays in-store, online and/or on social media. Indie booksellers can win $500 (to be split between the store and the bookseller who created the display) by taking pictures of their Indie Playlists displays. Sign up here. In addition, the first five stores to sign up to participate in the contest will receive $50 in co-op, and "participating presses will shout you out on their socials!"

East bay Booksellers' Pride display

IPC also congratulated the winner of the June display contest, East Bay Booksellers in Oakland, Calif., and praised its "lush, beautifully decorated" central display that had many shelf talkers. IPC director Anna Thorn commented: "Thank you so much to everyone who participated. We loved looking through all the gorgeous Pride displays and were thrilled to see them stocked with so many wonderful indie press titles!"

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

Mango Publishing Acquires Woo! Jr. Kids Activities

Mango Publishing, Miami, Fla., has acquired Woo! Jr. Kids Activities, which publishes educational activity books, and will make Woo! Jr. part of Mango's children's imprint DragonFruit. 

Woo! Jr. CEO and editor in chief Wendy Piersall will continue to lead the brand, with plans to publish six to 12 books per year. Piersall will also become director of business development at Mango. Woo! Jr. is slated to release 11 titles through DragonFruit in 2021. The acquisition includes Woo! Jr.'s backlist of 19 titles and has grown out of a partnership between Mango and Woo! Jr. that began earlier in the pandemic.

Chris McKenney, founder and CEO of Mango Publishing, said: "Our missions and values are very similar--we both put a premium on education, diversity, and activism. As we started to work together, it became clear that Wendy's SEO experience would enhance our predictive analytics. We're thrilled that Wendy will be Mango's first director of business development, where she will impact the entire Mango group. She'll also be able to help our team with other evolving publisher partnerships and acquisitions."

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

Nominations Open for BIPOC Bookseller Award

Nominations are open for the Duende-Word BIPOC Bookseller Award, an annual award honoring three BIPOC booksellers who lead and support their communities. 

In its second year, the BIPOC Bookseller Award is a collaboration between Duende District Bookstore and The Word, a nonprofit organization working to build an inclusive publishing community. Awards will be given in three categories--Activism, Innovation and Leadership--and each award will come with a $1,000 prize (up from $700 in the award's inaugural year).

"To uplift and highlight BIPOC booksellers' contributions, influence, and perseverance under oppressive, often erased, conditions within the book industry is at the core of Duende District's mission and we are proud to enter our second year of offering these awards, in partnership with The Word Is For Diversity," said Angela María Spring, owner of Duende District. "We hope all indie bookstore owners and managers take this time to honor their BIPOC employees and nominate, nominate, nominate! We are also profoundly grateful to those who have generously donated to keep these awards financially viable."

Viniyanka Prasad, executive director and founder of The Word, said: “In 2021, we saw another year of much chaos and pain. BIPOC booksellers have played a vital role in providing knowledge, camaraderie, vision, and truth. As BIPOC booksellers continue to pull on all the hats that are needed, we must continue to make space to celebrate all of their facets.”

Nominations will be open until August 22. More information can be found here.

Harper: Sandwich by Catherine Newman

Obituary Note: Nach Waxman

Nach Waxman

Nach Waxman, founder in 1983 of Kitchen Arts & Letters, the New York City bookstore "where foodies flock," as the New York Times put it, died August 4. He was 84.

Waxman "combined his seasoning in anthropology and nonfiction editing to found a Manhattan bookstore that became a global mecca for chefs, cooks, culinary academics, epicurean writers and just about anyone who enjoyed eating as much as he did," the Times continued.

The store was "a go-to source for all kinds of culinary history and customs, as well as for recipes that he insisted should be sources of creative inspiration rather than rigid paint-by-numbers templates. Faced with a dining challenge, customers knew whom to call."

Waxman called Kitchen Arts & Letters "a repository of books that are not only what you can't get elsewhere, but beyond what you knew existed." He added, "It isn't just a cookbook store. You can find books on the microbiology of cheese manufacturing, the role of gastronomy in Molière's plays. You can find books on kitchen antiques, contemporary agriculture, biotechnology."

Waxman received a B.A. in anthropology from Cornell University, then pursued graduate studies at the University of Chicago and at Harvard, where he enrolled in a doctoral program in South Asian anthropology. Before finishing, he became a book editor, working for 20 years at Macmillan, Harper & Row and Crown before opening Kitchen Arts & Letters.

Waxman also became well known in foodie circles for his recipe for brisket that was included in The New Basics by Sheila Lukins and Julee Rosso. "I probably get as many calls and correspondence about that recipe as about anything I've ever done," Waxman said.

Last year, the store raised more than $100,000 through a GoFundMe campaign after suffering major losses in revenue because of Covid-19.

"Within the past decade, Waxman stopped coming into the store each day and shifted to 'semi-retirement'--which, to him, meant a constant search for rare or out-of-print books to add to the store," Patch observed. Matt Sartwell, who began working in the store as a bookseller in 1991, is co-owner and will keep the store open.


Vt.'s Bridgeside Books Issues 1,000 Paper Cranes Challenge

Last week, Bridgeside Books, Waterbury, Vt., posted: "In honor of World Peace Day on September 21st, we are challenging the Waterbury community to fold 1,000 paper cranes. If we succeed, we will send them to the Hiroshima Peace Park in Japan. 

"One of the most memorable books I read as a child was Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes, a fictionalized account of a real 12-year-old Japanese girl who folded more than 1,000 cranes before dying of leukemia from the atomic bomb. In Japanese legend, doing so grants a wish, Sadako wished to get well. 

"A statue of Sadako holding a crane stands in the Peace Park and has become a symbol of peace. Packets of cut paper are available for free starting tomorrow, and we also have real origami paper packets to buy. There are many YouTube tutorials or I can show (my fourth grade class folded 1,000, and I still remember!) You can drop off your cranes back at the bookstore." 

Reading Group Choices' Most Popular July Books

The two most popular books in July at Reading Group Choices were The War Nurse by Tracey Enerson Wood (Sourcebooks Landmark) and A Woman of Intelligence by Karin Tanabe (St. Martin's Press).

Personnel Changes at Candlewick;

At Candlewick Press:

Jamie Tan has been promoted to publicity manager.

Dana Eger has been promoted to school and library marketing associate.


Alyssa Neumann has joined as product operations manager. She was formerly editor, journals at Cambridge University Press.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Cecily Strong on Fresh Air

Fresh Air: Cecily Strong, author of This Will All Be Over Soon: A Memoir (‎Simon & Schuster, $28, ‎9781982168315). She will also appear tomorrow on Good Morning America.

Late Late Show with James Corden repeat: Sharon Stone, author of The Beauty of Living Twice (Knopf, $27.95, 9780525656760).

Late Show with Stephen Colbert: Stephen King, author of Billy Summers (Scribner, $30, 9781982173616).

Kelly Clarkson Show repeat: Justin Baldoni, author of Man Enough: Undefining My Masculinity (HarperOne, $28.99, 9780063055599).

The Talk: Mena Suvari, author of The Great Peace: A Memoir (Hachette Books, $28, 9780306874529).

Watch What Happens Live: Dorinda Medley, author of Make It Nice (Gallery Books, $28, ‎9781982168322).

Late Show with Stephen Colbert: Brian Stelter, author of Hoax: Donald Trump, Fox News, and the Dangerous Distortion of Truth (Atria/One Signal, $18, 9781982142452).

TV: Y: The Last Man

A trailer has been released for Y: The Last Man, an adaptation of the post-apocalyptic science fiction comic book series by Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra. IndieWire reported that all episodes of season one, which premieres September 13 on FX on Hulu, "will be directed by women and the production has a significant number of female department heads, including both DPs, the production designer, costume designer, casting director, editors, stunt coordinator and more."

The series stars Diane Lane, Ashley Romans, Diana Bang, Olivia Thirlby, Juliana Canfield, Marin Ireland, Amber Tamblyn, Paul Gross and Elliot Fletcher. Louise Friedberg and Eliza Clark serve as director and writer on the first two episodes, respectively. Clark is also the showrunner and an executive producer, along with Nina Jacobson and Brad Simpson of Color Force, Mari Jo Winkler-Ioffreda, Louise Friedberg, Brian K. Vaughan and Melina Matsoukas. Nellie Reed is producer.

Books & Authors

Awards: National Biography Shortlist

The State Library of New South Wales has released a shortlist for the A$25,000 (about US$18,365) National Biography Award, which celebrates excellence in biography, autobiography and memoir writing to promote public interest in the genre. The winner will be named August 26. In addition, the A$5,000 (about US$3,670) Michael Crouch Award will be presented for a first published biography by an Australian writer. This year's shortlisted authors, each of whom receives A$2,000 (about US$1,470), are:

The Lotus Eaters by Emily Clements
One Bright Moon by Andrew Kwong
Max by Alex Miller
Truganini: Journey Through the Apocalypse by Cassandra Pybus
Tell Me Why by Archie Roach
Penny Wong: Passion and Principle by Margaret Simons

Book Review

Review: L.A. Weather

L.A. Weather by María Amparo Escandón (Flatiron Books, $27.99 hardcover, 336p., 9781250802569, September 7, 2021)

L.A. Weather is a lovely, compelling and occasionally brutal novel by María Amparo Escandón (Esperanza's Box of Saints) about a family on the brink of disaster, in a city similarly on edge. Captivating, sympathetic, funny characters and never-ending surprises (that even those involved compare to a telenovela) form a world for readers to get lost in.

Patriarch Oscar Alvarado has become a shell of his formerly assertive self; his wife, Keila, a sculptor, is losing patience. Their daughters are Claudia, an author and television chef; Olivia, an architect and mother of twin girls; and social-media maven Patricia. The Alvarados are a close-knit family of successful, high-powered professionals, bridging Oscar's Catholicism, Keila's Judaism and their shared Mexican-American heritage in Los Angeles, a vibrant city beautifully evoked by Escandón's loving descriptions of food, traffic and culture.

In L.A. Weather's opening pages, a horrifying accident befalls Olivia's daughters (parents beware), prompting various responses to trauma and launching the story directly into the Alvarados' family dynamic and cascading failures. Oscar's obsession with drought and wildfire may at first seem random, if not nonsensical, but it reflects a secret he's been keeping from his family, and serves as symbol for their shared concerns. When Keila announces she wants to divorce him, their daughters protest vehemently, although it is soon their own respective marriages that threaten to catch fire. The city crackles with heat as one crisis or shenanigan after another ensues.

"[The] family's stories were never neatly wrapped up at the end of the year. They just went on, and it felt good, this continuum." The novel is defined by time, however: Escandón chronicles events from January through December of 2016. Her story is a feat of both plot and character. Each member of the extended Alvarado clan is intriguing and flawed but deserving of empathy; even when they make questionable decisions, they are both convincing and entertaining. Climate change serves as a clever way to monitor the metaphoric fire risk to a family that loves fiercely but stumbles in the execution of that love. L.A. is richly portrayed: "the wildland-urban interface, that zone where nature and city cohabited (or collided?), where your surveillance camera could spot a mountain lion roaming in your backyard while you slept.... [Oscar] could not stop thinking that it was this unashamed human encroachment into nature that was causing so much destruction." This is a story of people, place and connection. Absorbing, moving, comic and tragic, L.A. Weather will capture readers and never let them go. --Julia Kastner, librarian and blogger at pagesofjulia

Shelf Talker: In a novel alternating between fun and heartbreak, a prosperous, big-hearted, messy family struggles to weather literal and metaphoric disaster in 2016 Los Angeles.

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