Also published on this date: Monday, September 20 Dedicated Issue: Spring Fiction from Simon & Schuster

Shelf Awareness for Monday, September 20, 2021

Algonquin Young Readers: the Beautiful Game by Yamile Saied Méndez

Berkley Books: Books that will sweep you off your feet! Enter Giveaway!

Feiwel & Friends: The Flicker by HE Edgmon

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers: The Pumpkin Princess and the Forever Night by Steven Banbury

St. Martin's Griffin: Murdle: The School of Mystery: 50 Seriously Sinister Logic Puzzles by GT Karber

Quotation of the Day

Bookshop to Customers: Thank You for Being Our Friend

"I just wanted to take a moment to say thank you to all of our customers. You have been our friend these last 18 months of the pandemic. You stayed with us through the mask mandate and the summer of no masks and now back to masks again. You keep coming back and supporting us. Thank you!

"You were our friend when our roof fell in right before our first Christmas season and during the next three months when we were closed. You sent kind words and said you would be there when we reopened. And you were! Thank you. 

"You've been our friend through our expansion upstairs and now our expansion to a new town. You love what we do and tell us so. You make it a joy to serve you. Thank you! You buy local. You cheer us on. You compliment us and treat us with kindness. Thank you! It is a tremendous thing to have you as a friend of Sassafras. We will continue to work hard to honor your friendship and support."

--Susanne Blumer, co-owner of Sassafras on Sutton, Black Mountain, N.C., in a Facebook post


Blackstone Publishing: Rogue Community College: A Liberty House Novel by David R Slayton


Winter Institute Registration Opens Today; Columbus Store Tour

Registration for the ABA's 17th annual Winter Institute, to be held February 13-16 in Cincinnati, Ohio, opens today at 1 p.m. Eastern. Booksellers must be logged in to to register. In past years, the show has often sold out within hours.

The event fee is $225 per bookseller, with a maximum of three booksellers from any ABA member store. Beginning October 6, registrants will be able to make a reservation for the Winter Institute's hotel block at a group rate of $129 plus tax per night.

Booksellers will also be able to register for Paz & Associates' Introduction to Retail Bookselling workshop. The workshop is open to all booksellers but also limited to three booksellers per ABA member company. Admission to Winter Institute is optional but guaranteed; the $225 Winter Institute registration fee applies.

Winter Institute attendees must be fully vaccinated. Registration is limited to booksellers in North America. Registrants are advised not to make flight or other travel reservations until November, in case the in-person event is cancelled.


In a related event, five bookstores in Columbus, Ohio, about an hour and a half drive north of Cincinnati, are hosting a tour of their stores and literary highlights, which will take place on Saturday, February 12, the day before Winter Institute begins.

The tour will feature events in the afternoon and evening at each of the participating bookstores--The Book Loft, Cover-to-Cover Children's Books, Gramercy Books, Prologue Bookshop and Two Dollar Radio Headquarters--and will include appearances by Columbus authors Hanif Abdurraqib, Saeed Jones and Maggie Smith, among others. There will also be pit stops for a meal and at Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams. A full schedule is forthcoming.

A free shuttle bus will be provided, though participants will be able to make their own arrangements and join events at bookstores.

Gary Lovely, manager of Prologue Bookshop in the Short North Arts District, said, "We couldn't be any more excited at the opportunity to give our bookselling friends and the publishing community as a whole a small taste of what makes the Columbus literary community so special."

Linda Kass, founder and owner of Gramercy Books, added: "We are thrilled to welcome booksellers across the country to Central Ohio, where they can explore our readers' favorite literary spots and meet acclaimed Columbus-based authors."

'Reimagining Bookstores' Meeting Set for October

Praveen Madan

Praveen Madan, CEO of Kepler's Books & Magazines, Menlo Park, Calif., is organizing a national, virtual meeting with the theme "Reimagining Bookstores." There will be two three-hour sessions spread out over two days, Monday and Tuesday, October 18 and 19.

As the invitation puts it: "Imagine bookstores with new ways to engage their communities, easy access to funding and new business models. Now imagine these bookstores having strategies to increase readership, attract and retain high-caliber staff, and provide meaningful careers paying meaningful wages. Through these bookstores our communities deepen literacy, increase civic engagement, and become stronger.

"If you can imagine this scenario, then it is time to embrace bookstores as a social cause. It is time to invest in bookstores so they have the means to strengthen and reinvent themselves. We seek to launch a movement to encourage a new wave of investments in bookstores similar to the investments that have historically been made in public libraries, museums, public radio and television, and non-profit journalism and literacy organizations.

"To create this transformational change, we need you!

"We invite you to dream and collaborate together--to reimagine and transform America's bookstores into next-generation community bookstores, to help literary entrepreneurs open new bookstores in book deserts, and to help bookstores strengthen their place in the hearts of their communities as thriving centers for ideas and conversations.

The sessions will use the principles of Open Space, a format "geared to inspiring stimulating conversations, exciting innovations, new thinking, and unusual collaborations. You will set the agenda based on what you care about and the questions you have. Zoom's breakout rooms create spaces for small group conversations to develop ideas and connect with each other. You and other participants can explore different groups and topics throughout the event."

"Reimagining Bookstores" is co-hosted by the Avid Bookshop, Athens, Ga.; Bookmarks, Winston-Salem, N.C.; BookSmart, Morgan Hill, Calif.; Booksmith, San Francisco, Calif.; Buffalo Street Books, Buffalo, N.Y.; Cavalier House Books, Denham Springs, La.; Kepler's Books, Menlo Park, Calif.; Seminary Co-op Bookstores, Chicago, Ill.; Third Place Books, Seattle, Wash.; Tubby & Coo's, New Orleans, La.; and Word Up Community Bookshop/Librería Comunitaria, New York, N.Y.

For more information, click here.

Friendly City Books in Columbus, Miss., Damaged by Car

Friendly City Books, Columbus, Miss., was damaged Friday when a man suffering a medical episode crashed his vehicle through the entrance, "doing extensive damage to the property but no injuries to the driver or occupants of the store," the Dispatch reported. 

"It came through the main entrance at an angle and went into the children's area," said owner Emily Liner, adding that there were no customers inside at the time of the accident. She was in a back room, and two employees were in the building. 

"Chris Chain, who did the renovation of the building before we opened, showed up within 15 minutes with his crew. They're working on it right now," said Liner. "The good news is that it doesn't appear there was any major structural damage. We'll just have to go day-by-day and see when we can open up again."

On Facebook, Friendly City Books posted: "We're not sure how long it'll take before we can rebuild and reopen, but we sure are planning on it. For now, we assume we'll be closed for a few weeks and we'll take it day by day. The biggest thing you can do to help us right now is purchase books through our online store at Those orders ship directly from the warehouse to you, and they provide us a percentage of the sales. We will also be listing items from the store on Facebook in the coming weeks until we are back in action.

"What happened today was an accident that's the unfortunate result of the traffic on 5th Street. I've witnessed a lot of near misses since we opened, especially at the intersection with Main Street. If there's something we take away from this, I ask that everyone drive with care downtown. We are so lucky this didn't end up worse. We've seen the best of Columbus emerge in the face of this.... We're OK. We'll be back. Love, FCB."

Our Indie Pre-Order E-Blast: Cloud Cuckoo Land(s) Most Interest

On the last Wednesday in August, Shelf Awareness sent our monthly pre-order e-blast to almost 850,000 of the country's best book readers. The e-blast went to 846,082 customers of 178 participating independent bookstores.

The mailing features eight upcoming titles selected by Shelf Awareness editors and a sponsored title. Customers can buy these books via "pre-order" buttons that lead directly to the purchase page for the title on each sending store's website. A key feature is that bookstore partners can easily change title selections to best reflect the tastes of their customers and can customize the mailing with links, images and promotional copy of their own.

The pre-order e-blasts are sent the last Wednesday of each month; the next will go out on Wednesday, September 29. Stores interested in learning more can visit our program registration page or contact our partner program team via e-mail.

For a sample of August's pre-order e-blast, see this one from Books Around the Corner, Gresham, Ore.

We noticed a striking statistic after last month's mailing: the long-awaited Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr (Scribner) received almost three times the amount of clicks than our previous most-clicked on title. Clearly, there is huge interest in Cloud Cuckoo Land from indie bookstore customers, which goes on sale September 28, a week from tomorrow. Take a look at your stock and make sure you have enough!

G.L.O.W. - Galley Love of the Week
Be the first to have an advance copy!
A Forty Year Kiss
by Nickolas Butler
GLOW: A Forty Year Kiss by Nickolas Butler

A Forty Year Kiss by Nickolas Butler is a passionate, emotionally complex love story that probes tender places within the heart and soul. When 60-somethings Charlie and Vivian--married then divorced in their 20s--reunite after four decades, they are swept up by the very best of what their romantic relationship once offered. "Anyone who has ever thought about what might have been will find this book fascinating," says Shana Drehs, senior editorial director at Sourcebooks Landmark. "The story is a brilliant exploration of a second chance at love, always realistic but never saccharine." As Charlie and Vivian build a bridge from past to present, their enduring love paving over potholes, Butler (Shotgun Lovesongs) raises questions about how life changes people--or does it?--and delivers another heartening, unforgettable novel. --Kathleen Gerard, blogger at Reading Between the Lines

(Sourcebooks Landmark, $27.99 Hardcover, 9781464221248, 
February 4, 2025)


Shelf vetted, publisher supported


Image of the Day: Octavia Books, Post-Ida


Octavia Books in New Orleans, La., hosted its first post-Hurricane Ida event, for author Laura T. Murphy, a New Orleans native, whose new book is Freedomville: The Story of a 21st-Century Slave Revolt, just published by Columbia Global Reports. Pictured: Murphy with Octavia Books co-owner Tom Lowenburg.

Happy 20th Birthday, Oblong Books & Music in Rhinebeck, N.Y.!

Congratulations to Oblong Books & Music, whose Rhinebeck, N.Y., store is 20 years old. Oblong, which also has a store in Millerton, N.Y., that was founded in 1975, will likely hold a celebration in October.

As Dick Hermans, who owns Oblong with his daughter, Suzanna, recalled in part in a letter to customers and friends, "We had our eye on opening a store in Rhinebeck for about 20 years. Rhinebeck is the jewel of northern Dutchess County, about 100 miles north of Manhattan. Our Millerton store was doing well enough to support the expansion, though my partner of 25 years was retiring from the business and made that final on the day I signed a lease for a Rhinebeck store.

"Opening right after 9/11 certainly put a damper on celebrating. The best we could do was organize a 'fill the space with words' event soon after featuring some of our notable Millerton clientele, including actors Edward Herrmann and Jill Clayburgh. Their thoughtful presentations made us cry and anointed our store with wisdom and emotion.

"Twenty years on, our 'new' store continues to grow and build on a connection with our community that every bookstore depends upon.

"In 1975, I could not have imagined the arc that Oblong Books has traveled over these years. Thank you to everyone who has stepped over our threshold, to every author whose books we have sold, and to every person who has worked for us. It has been a wonderful ride for me and I am happily still deeply involved in the mystic process that makes small business successful.

"The journey of discovery continues...."

New Voices, New Rooms Reveals VIndie Awards Finalists

Finalists have been revealed for the 2021 VIndie Awards, a celebration of bookstore videos that will be presented during New Voices, New Rooms: Opening Doors Fall Conference (September 27-October 1), hosted jointly by the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance and the New Atlantic Independent Booksellers Association. Check out the VIndies Finalists here. Winners will be announced September 30 at a ceremony emceed by Michael Triebwasser of Politics & Prose, Washington, D.C.

A panel of judges drawn from book industry partners in publishing, bookselling and media reviewed more than 50 bookstore videos from two dozen independent bookstores, selecting 16 finalists in the categories of Drama, Comedy, Animation and Covid-Related. In addition, publisher/bookstore hybrid the Historic New Orleans Collection is receiving special honors for its video We Are the Holy Ones, a favorite of all the judges.

"From sock puppets to soy candles, store cats to sea shanties, pajamas to pop quizzes, the VIndies videos are a testament to the resilience, spirit, humor, and grace under pressure of independent booksellers," New Voices, New Rooms noted. "Comments from the judges ranged from the enthusiastic, 'I loved the voice, the editing, the whole vibe,' to the emotional, 'Poignant and sad, but sweet... this made me cry,' to the delighted, 'This kills me. This is brilliant.' "

PRHPS Expands Sales and Distribution of IDW Publishing

IDW Publishing, which publishes comic books, graphic novels and art books, and Penguin Random House Publisher Services have expanded their distribution agreement so that effective June 1, 2022, PRHPS will sell and distribute exclusively worldwide IDW's new and backlist comic book periodicals, trade collections, and graphic novels to the direct market comic shops. PRHPS already sells and distributes IDW trade-book frontlist and backlist to bookstores.

Among IDW titles and series are Locke & Key by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodríguez; Hasbro's Transformers, G.I. Joe, and My Little Pony; Paramount/CBS's Star Trek; Nickelodeon's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles; SEGA's Sonic the Hedgehog; Lucasfilm's Star Wars; Stan Sakai's Usagi Yojimbo; The Beauty of Horror by Alan Robert; Wynonna Earp by Beau Smith; and more. In addition, IDW's Top Shelf Productions imprint has published such trade titles as George Takei's They Called Us Enemy; the March trilogy by Congressman John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell; and Surfside Girls by Kim Dwinell.

IDW publisher Nachie Marsham commented: "IDW succeeds when the direct market succeeds. No matter how amazing our comics and graphic novels may be, it's the retailers that are connecting readers with our stories. Because of that, I couldn't be more excited about our future with Penguin Random House and I have the utmost confidence that every store, no matter the size, will see the benefits of the high levels of care and service that PRHPS brings."

Jeff Abraham, president of Penguin Random House Publisher Services, said, "IDW have been wonderful partners these past five years, and it's been thrilling to see the evolution of its publishing program and to support the phenomenal growth of their graphic novels into the book trade. With PRHPS's expansion in the direct market, we see this as a natural extension of that partnership and look forward to putting the expertise of PRH's supply chain, customer knowledgeability and sales know-how, and solutions-centered customer service to help bring IDW comics and graphic novels to even more fans throughout the world."

Media and Movies

Primetime Emmy Winners by the Book

At last night's Emmy Awards celebration, book-related winners were in short supply, though The Queen's Gambit managed to pick up a pair of trophies. Bookish Emmys in major categories went to:

The Queen's Gambit, based on the novel by Walter Tevis: Outstanding limited or anthology series; Scott Frank (director for a limited or anthology series or movie)

Halston, adapted from the book Simply Halston by Steven Gaines: Ewan McGregor (lead actor in a limited or anthology series or movie)

Hamilton, inspired by Ron Chernow's biography Alexander Hamilton: Outstanding variety special (pre-recorded)

Media Heat: Bob Woodward, Robert Costa on GMA, Colbert's Late Show

CBS This Morning: Anderson Cooper, co-author of Vanderbilt: The Rise and Fall of an American Dynasty (‎Harper, $30, 9780062964618).

Also on CBS This Morning: Scott Gottlieb, author of Uncontrolled Spread: Why COVID-19 Crushed Us and How We Can Defeat the Next Pandemic (Harper, $28.99, 9780063080010).

Good Morning America: Bob Woodward and Robert Costa, authors of Peril (Simon & Schuster, $30, 9781982182915). They will also be on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert tomorrow.

The View: Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson, author of Hustle Harder, Hustle Smarter (Amistad, $17.99, 9780062953810).

CBS This Morning: Megan Madison and Jessica Ralli, authors of Our Skin: A First Conversation About Race (Rise x Penguin Workshop, $14.99, 9780593519394).

Today Show: Amanda Gorman, author of Change Sings: A Children's Anthem (Viking, $18.99, 9780593203224). She will also appear on the Tonight Show and Tamron Hall.

Drew Barrymore Show: Carmelo Anthony, co-author of Where Tomorrows Aren't Promised: A Memoir of Survival and Hope (Gallery, $28, 9781982160593).

Also on Drew Barrymore: Antoni Porowski, author of Antoni: Let's Do Dinner (Mariner, $30, 9780358395324).

Books & Authors

Awards: BIPOC Bookseller, Wilbur Smith Adventure Writing Winners

The winners of the second annual Duende District and The Word's BIPOC Bookseller Awards have been announced. Each receives $1,000 and will be honored during #MarginsBookstores Month.

Activism Award: Denise Chavez, Casa Camino Real Bookstore, Las Cruces, N.Mex.
Innovation Award: Dartricia Rollins, Charis Books and More in Decatur, Ga.
Leadership Award: Michelle Malonzo, Changing Hands Bookstore in Tempe and Phoenix, Ariz.


The Wilbur & Niso Smith Foundation named Rachel Joyce's novel Miss Benson's Beetle the winner of this year's £10,000 (about $13,840) Wilbur Smith Adventure Writing Prize. "The novels competing this year have been a beacon in challenging times, all of them portraying human strength," said Niso Smith. "Miss Benson's Beetle is a joyously humorous and deeply moving novel, which serves as a vital reminder that it's always possible to make your life what you want it to be. Rachel's yarn is truly magical and a life-affirming adventure. Congratulations!"

Book Review

Review: Oh William!

Oh William! by Elizabeth Strout (Random House, $27 hardcover, 256p., 9780812989434, October 19, 2021)

Pulitzer Prize winner Elizabeth Strout has the remarkable ability to engage audiences immediately with just a few opening sentences. Her marvelous eighth novel, Oh William!, is no different, made even more inviting by being the third in her Amgash series, which began with My Name Is Lucy Barton (2016), followed by Anything Is Possible (2017). Of course, reading all three in chronological order promises gratifying insights--Strout's fans will delightedly recognize obvious wink-winks linking previous novels (Pam Carlson from The Burgess Boys; the town of Shirley Falls, Maine)--but, as with all of Strout's work, each title is satisfying on its own.

"I would like to say a few things about my first husband, William," Lucy Barton begins. He's 71 now, and "been through some very sad events." Lucy herself is 63, a lauded novelist still living in New York City, recently widowed following the death of her second husband, David. Here, though, she spotlights William, to whom she was married for almost 20 years; they have two daughters. In the decades since their divorce, they've remained remarkably close. Despite Lucy's devotion to beloved David, William is ever-present: "William is the only person I ever felt safe with. He is the only home I ever had."

William, too, continues to rely emotionally on Lucy. He's lately battling night terrors that involve his late mother, Catherine. In life, Catherine was especially close to both William and Lucy; her premature death happened during their marriage, making Lucy the only partner of William's who Catherine knew. He can't share that past with his third wife, Estelle, 22 years younger, although she seems perfectly accepting of Lucy's presence in their lives. But then Estelle abandons William, taking their 10-year-old daughter, leaving William again to turn to Lucy for support. When William finally takes advantage of Estelle's last Christmas gift--a subscription to an ancestry website that he initially disdained--what he discovers is so shocking that, once more, he must rely on Lucy to make sense of what he's learned. Lucy's involvement also enables overdue, rewarding insights of her own.

Strout peppers her writing with folksy phrases--"...I guess is what I mean," " what I'm saying"--imbuing Lucy with a guileless naiveté. But Strout is as sharp as ever--as, no doubt, is Lucy. For all her artless posturing, Lucy's raw, razor-sharp observations about identity and relationships--the adjustments and adaptations necessary for lasting sustainability--propel Strout's narrative toward deeply empathic self-awareness. Along the way, Strout reveals yet another superb story. Her vast audiences will (again) be enthralled. --Terry Hong, Smithsonian BookDragon

Shelf Talker: Elizabeth Strout's glorious eighth title is the third in a series starring novelist Lucy Barton who, at 63, remains a remarkably empathic observer of human relationships.

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