Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, October 20, 2021

University of Texas Press: Grief Is a Sneaky Bitch: An Uncensored Guide to Navigating Loss by Lisa Keefauver

Berkley Books: Hair-raising horror to sink your teeth into!

Berkley Books: The Hitchcock Hotel by Stephanie Wrobel

Queen Mab Media: Get Our Brand Toolkit

Ballantine Books: Gather Me: A Memoir in Praise of the Books That Saved Me by Glory Edim

Ace Books: Rewitched by Lucy Jane Wood

Graywolf Press: We're Alone: Essays by Edwidge Danticat

St. Martin's Press: Runaway Train: Or, the Story of My Life So Far by Erin Roberts with Sam Kashner


Ownership Change for Downtown Book & Toy, Jefferson City, Mo.

Bookseller Beth Elliott has purchased Downtown Book & Toy in Jefferson City, Mo., from the store's retiring owners, the News Tribune reported.

Prior to purchasing Downtown Book & Toy, Elliott was the manager of Downtown Books II at Capital Mall in Jefferson City, which closed in August. She then reached out to the Cowleys, the owners of Downtown Book & Toy, knowing that they were planning to retire.

"I could not let local bookselling go away from Jefferson City," Elliott told News Tribune. "This is an institution, and I wanted to keep it here."

Going forward, Elliott plans to expand the store's hours as well as its book selection. There will be more books about Jefferson City and by local authors, as well as manga, Spanish-language books and urban fiction, all of which proved popular at Downtown Books II. At the same time she will continue to curate the store's inventory based on customer feedback.

"We're really willing to work with people," Elliott said. "We just need to know what people want."

Elliot is also looking to add some gently used books and vinyl records, and she wants to add toys that can't easily be found at major retailers. "This is our chance to feature smaller businesses in a smaller business."

BINC: Click to Apply to the Macmillan Booksellers Professional Development Scholarships

Reimagining Bookstores Ends on a High Note

The two-day Reimagining Bookstores virtual event ended on a high note yesterday, with many participants praising the event and the exchange of ideas and hoping for followups that could include similar gatherings twice a year.

Jeff Deutsch, director of the Seminary Co-op Bookstore and 57th Street Books, Chicago, Ill., spoke for many when he remarked "how incredible it is to be in this community with everyone. We are all so busy all the time and to hold everyone together for six hours to imagine and envision and dream together, knowing how practical so many of us are, I think we'll actually be able to change just a little bit the trajectory of the industry. I'm grateful for that, and one of the things I'm leaving with is a sense of hope for that possibility."

Jeff Deutsch

For his part, Steve Piersanti of Barrett-Koehler Publishers, said that "at the risk of being overly optimistic, it's possible that this event is one of a number of indications of maybe the beginning or that we're into a new golden age of independent bookstores in terms of coming up with many new models, many new ways of connecting, offering new ways of reaching out to people.... This event shows that there's a deep, broad range of imagination and ideas and passion and connections that may be propelling that."

Praveen Madan

Praveen Madan, CEO of Kepler's Books & Magazines, Menlo Park, Calif., the main organizer of the conference, had opened the second day's program by thanking participants for their "energizing conversations" on Monday and reviewed the purpose of the gathering: how to "reimagine bookstores to deepen literacy, strengthen our communities, and pay a decent living wages to our employees."

He offered several "provocations" to consider during yesterday's meetings. One involved asking for help. "I've failed and learned that it's okay to ask for help," he explained. "It's actually more than okay--it's a critical leadership skill to know when to ask for help, how to ask for help, who to ask for help." He called it especially hard for men to ask for help. "I'm still learning how to do it, and I'm better at it than I was 10 years ago." He said bookstores "can get better at asking for help, and are going to have to get better at asking for help in the future we're imagining here."

Bookstores that embrace a general model of the bookstore as "a social cause," as centers of community life, as organizations that can ask for help "will do better in the future." In the same way, bookstores also need to embrace new business and legal business models like nonprofits, hybrids and cooperatives.

As for living wages, which Madan described as "the issue that keeps me up at night," the situation is so bad at most bookstores that it "can only be described as institutionalized poverty. We can do better. We must do better."

Bookstores also must "stop believing that someone will be coming to our rescue," whether publishers, government, the American Booksellers Association, he added. It's important for people "to self-organize around what really matters to them." At the end of the conference, he continued, "let's walk away with what we are ready to do ourselves. There's tremendous energy and talent here to help ourselves and to help each other."

Watkins Publishing: Fall Into Folklore! ARCS Available On Request

IPG Acquires United Independent Distributors  

UID COO Mark Chaloner (l.) and IPG CEO Joe Matthews

Independent Publishers Group has acquired United Independent Distributors, which is based in the U.K. The acquisition, which IPG said expands its "core business of providing publisher services to high quality independent publishers from around the world," includes Eurospan, the sales and marketing agency for international academic and professional publishers, and the distribution centers Marston, Orca and Turpin.

"This historic merger provides exciting new opportunities to expand the global reach of independent publishers on both sides of the Atlantic and creates an unrivaled menu of services to drive sales," said IPG CEO Joe Matthews. "I could not imagine a better way to celebrate IPG's 50-year anniversary."

IPG noted that the timing of the transaction coincides with the opening of a new state-of-the-art warehouse facility in southeastern England, where distribution centers will be consolidated. Eurospan will retain its central London headquarters. 

"This exciting new partnership enables the combined UID companies to step up to the next level and will provide a truly global reach to all our publishing clients," said Mark Chaloner, UID COO.

Binc Launches 2021 Online Holiday Gift Guide

The Book Industry Charitable Foundation launched its 2021 Holiday Gift Guide, featuring an assortment of gifts, including exclusive offerings from 30 indie bookstores and comic shops across the U.S. and many other items that give back to Binc. The gift guide also offers exclusive archival prints, T-shirts and hats designed by authors and others, and the 2021 Washington State Book Award winner Alone Together, edited by Jennifer Haupt.

Pam French, Binc's executive director, said, "We know how important the holiday shopping season is to you and your store. We want to help drive people to independent bookstores and comic shops this year for their holiday shopping." 

She added: "We are still in a very precarious moment with Covid variants and uncertain supply-chain issues during the most important sales season for stores. The gift guide is our way of helping stores expand their sales while reminding everyone to shop early and shop indie this holiday season."

Obituary Note: Evelyn Beilenson

Evelyn Loeb Beilenson, former publisher of Peter Pauper Press, died October 4. She was 83. Born in Paris just before WWII, she was the daughter of Morris and Johanna Loeb, who had moved to France from Germany in 1934. Held in separate detention camps in France when war broke out, the family eventually reunited and traveled overland to Spain and Portugal. They obtained papers and emigrated to New York City in 1941.

Evelyn Loeb grew up to emulate her father, an entrepreneur and business owner. In the 1970s, she co-founded a successful interior design company, but within a decade moved on to help her attorney husband, Nick Beilenson, resurrect his family's publishing company, Peter Pauper Press--which had been started in 1928--after his parents' deaths. 

The Beilensons transformed the company from a struggling small book publisher into a multimillion-dollar business. At Peter Pauper Press, Evelyn Beilenson also wrote or compiled more than 60 books, including Simple American Cooking, Wit and Wisdom of Famous American Women, and the children's picture book, The Zoo Is Closed Today

A publisher for almost three decades, she once wrote: "In the midst of our busy lives, we must find the magic that makes our souls soar."

G.L.O.W. - Galley Love of the Week
Be the first to have an advance copy!
Remember You Will Die
by Eden Robins
GLOW: Sourcebooks Landmark: Remember You Will Die by Eden Robins

Despite the title, Eden Robins's Remember You Will Die is a joyously enlivening masterpiece. Only dead people inhabit the pages of this novel, their stories revealed predominantly through obituaries ranging from deeply soulful to hilariously delightful. As Christa Désir, editorial director for Bloom Books at Sourcebooks, promises, it's "a book about life and art and loss and being human and messy." By 2102, the singularity has long happened, and an AI called Peregrine learns that her 17-year-old daughter, Poppy, is dead. Unraveling this requires a three-century excavation of relationships, cultures, science, history, and brilliantly sourced etymology. Désir predicts "a cult classic" that readers will want to "immediately pick back up... to find more Easter eggs and clues." Eden Robins could have the singular bestseller of the year. --Terry Hong

(Sourcebooks Landmark, $16.99 paperback, 9781728256030, 
October 22, 2024)


Shelf vetted, publisher supported


Image of the Day: Midnight in Washington in Sacramento

Capital Books in downtown Sacramento, Calif., hosted Congressman Adam Schiff for his first bookstore event for Midnight in Washington (Random House). The bookstore held the event at the historic Crest Theater next door. Schiff was interviewed by Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg for about an hour, followed by a meet and greet at the bookstore for those who purchased premium seating. Pictured: Congressman Schiff flanked by Capital Books owners Heidi and Ross Rojeck.

Personnel Changes at HarperCollins

Megan Looney has been promoted to marketing manager for Harper Perennial and Harper Paperbacks at HarperCollins.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Lidia Bastianich on the Today Show

Today Show: Lidia Bastianich, co-author of Lidia's a Pot, a Pan, and a Bowl: Simple Recipes for Perfect Meals: A Cookbook (Knopf, $29.95, 9780525657408).

Fresh Air remembers the late Gary Paulsen.

Bloomberg TV: Senator Joe Lieberman, author of The Centrist Solution: How We Made Government Work and Can Make It Work Again (Diversion, $28.99, 9781635769043).

Jimmy Kimmel Live repeat: Phoebe Robinson, author of Please Don't Sit on My Bed in Your Outside Clothes: Essays (Tiny Reparations Books, $27, 9780593184905).

TV: Good Omens Season 2

Good Omens creator Neil Gaiman "has revealed the sweet tribute to author Sir Terry Pratchett on set of season 2, writing that his late friend is there 'in spirit,' " Metro reported, noting that as filming is taking place, Gaiman "shared a behind-the-scenes snap on social media of a chair set up on set in Terry's honor, with his multicolored scarf draped over the back and his hat perched on the armrest."

Michael Sheen and David Tennant reprise their roles in season 2 of the series, which is based on the 1990 novel co-written by Gaiman and Pratchett, who died in 2015.

"Terry is here in spirit and hat and scarf. When we shoot in the bookshop we will hang them in there but for now they are here on his chair. #GoodOmens2," Gaiman tweeted. The scarf and hat also appeared in the first season of the show.

Books & Authors

Planeta Prize-winning Female Author Turns Out to Be Three Men

Carmen Mola, a female novelist whose historical thriller, The Beast, recently won Spain's €1 million (about $1.16 million) Planeta Prize, has been revealed to be a pen name for three men. The Bookseller reported that while Mola "was known to be a pseudonym, supposedly for a professor and mother to maintain her anonymity, it came as a surprise for audiences when three men ascended the podium to claim the award."
Jorge Díaz, Agustín Martínez and Antonio Mercero are actually established Spanish TV scriptwriters in their 40s and 50s. Upon winning the award, Díaz said: "Carmen Mola is not, like all the lies we've been telling, a university professor.... We are three friends who one day four years ago decided to combine our talent to tell a story."

In a further twist, the prize's organizers said there was a "pseudonym behind a pseudonym." The Bookseller wrote that The Beast "was submitted under the pen-name Sergio López, which was then revealed to be Mola, and subsequently unveiled as Díaz, Martínez and Mercero. The prize is awarded to an unpublished manuscript, which, as part of the terms, must be produced by Planeta Group's publishing house."

Reading with... Joseph O'Connor

photo: Urszula Soltys

Joseph O'Connor is the author of 18 books, including the novels Cowboys and Indians (Whitbread Prize shortlist), Redemption Falls, Ghost Light (Los Angeles Times Book of the Year shortlist; Dublin One City One Book choice 2011) and The Thrill of It All, two collections of short stories, True Believers and Where Have You Been?, a number of plays, film scripts and adaptations, six nonfiction books and hundreds of radio diaries. His novel Star of the Sea has sold more than a million copies. In 2011, O'Connor won the Irish PEN Award for Outstanding Achievement in Literature. His novel Shadowplay (Europa Editions paperback, Nov. 9, 2021) is a historical and gothic romp through the golden age of West End theater in a London shaken by the crimes of Jack the Ripper. It won the Eason Irish Novel of the Year Award and was shortlisted for five other prizes across France, Ireland and the U.K., including the Costa Novel Award 2020.

On your nightstand now:

The End of the World Is a Cul-de-Sac, a breathtaking collection of short stories by the Irish writer Louise Kennedy. The Situation and the Story by Vivian Gornick, whose work I love. The brilliant novel Foregone by Russell Banks. This Hostel Life by Melatu Uche Okorie. Then, Craft in the Real World by Matthew Salesses, a fascinating book that offers alternatives to how creative writing is usually taught.

Favorite book when you were a child:

So many, but I come back to Great Expectations. I don't think I will get over the beauty of its closing lines: "I took her hand in mine, and we went out of the ruined place; and, as the morning mists had risen long ago when I first left the forge, so the evening mists were rising now, and in all the broad expanse of tranquil light they showed to me, I saw no shadow of another parting from her." I mean, wow. Game over. Goodnight.

Your top five authors:

It varies, but Peter Carey, Toni Morrison and F. Scott Fitzgerald are always in my top five. At the moment, the English novelist Elizabeth Taylor is there also, as is the poet Denise Levertov, whose poem "A Map of the Western Part of the County of Essex in England" always fills me with awed admiration.

Book you've faked reading:

In 1985, my university tutor, the fine writer Seamus Deane, suggested I read Wise Blood by Flannery O'Connor. I didn't. At our next meeting, Seamus asked me what I had thought of it. I replied that I had admired Flannery O'Connor's style but found his storytelling a little complicated, which is the kind of thing you can get away with saying about almost any book ever published. Seamus permitted the conversation to continue for a minute or two before quietly pointing out that Flannery O'Connor was a woman. Since that mortifying moment, I have never faked reading a book.

Book you're an evangelist for:

I absolutely adore the work of Lydia Davis who, as well as being a writer of astonishing power, is a hugely accomplished translator. Her version of The Way by Swann's, volume one of Proust's masterpiece, À la recherche du temps perdu, will be relished by any lover of storytelling and language. A sumptuous, beautiful, stupendous achievement.

Book you've bought for the cover:

I don't remember ever buying a book for its cover but, as a teenager, I did buy the Patti Smith album Horses and the Muddy Waters album At Newport 1960 for their covers. Two magnificent records from great American storytellers.

Book you hid from your parents:

My parents didn't mind what anyone read; indeed their own large collection of books included banned titles by Edna O'Brien and others.

Book that changed your life:

When I was 17, my first girlfriend gave me a copy of The Catcher in the Rye. It's the book that made me want to be a writer. I still reread it every few years, like going on pilgrimage.

Favorite line from a book:

"Every life is many days, day after day. We walk through ourselves, meeting robbers, ghosts, giants, old men, young men, wives, widows, brothers-in-love, but always meeting ourselves." From James Joyce's Ulysses.

Five books you'll never part with:

A few years ago, my wife gave me a beautiful first edition of Francis James Child's The English and Scottish Popular Ballads. It's in five volumes and I wouldn't part with any of them.

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

Bram Stoker's Dracula is a novel I've been reading and returning to since I was 13. (Stoker is the central character of my own novel Shadowplay.) I never read it without noticing something new and absolutely wonderful, but the first time was unforgettable and life-changing.

The most important thing you've learned over the years as a writer:

My job is to provide the sheet music. It's the reader who sings the song.

Book Review

Children's Review: Killers of the Flower Moon

Killers of the Flower Moon: Adapted for Young Readers: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann (Crown Books for Young Readers, $18.99 hardcover, 336p., ages 10-17, 9780593377345, November 16, 2021)

New Yorker writer David Grann has skillfully adapted his chilling nonfiction bestseller Killers of the Flower Moon for young readers. Grann examines this ghastly episode of U.S. history in an authentic, accessible style that will hook teens with the intrigue of fiction while simultaneously enlightening them with the facts.

Two stories converge as Grann adeptly lays out the details of a series of gruesome murders committed against members of the Osage Nation in the 1920s. He focuses on the family of Mollie Burkhart: her older sister was shot to death, her mother died suspiciously not long after and Mollie's younger sister was killed in a bombing. When it became clear the murders were connected and continuing, the Bureau of Investigation was called in to take over the case. Tom White, a former Texas Ranger, led the investigation team in Oklahoma, while J. Edgar Hoover used one of the bureau's first major homicide cases to secure his position as the director of what would become the FBI.

Grann spotlights the gross mistreatment of this segment of Indigenous people--members of the Osage tribe were the "wealthiest people per capita in the world" in the 1920s, and white politicians took advantage of them. "Over the tribe's strong objections, many Osage... were deemed 'incompetent,' and were forced to have a local white guardian overseeing and authorizing all of their spending." Not only were these adults treated as less than full citizens, in many cases the guardians--often chosen as political quid pro quos--were stealing their money. Grann also reveals Hoover's dispassionate, egocentric approach toward the case: he saw it as a means to his permanent appointment as director of the FBI, not the resolution to this horrific Reign of Terror. Hoover never mentioned the FBI investigation team "by name as he promoted the case. They did not quite fit the image he wanted for the bureau.... Plus, Hoover never wanted his men to overshadow him."

There is no shortage of jaw-dropping information in Killers of the Flower Moon. Grann entices younger readers with a mystery worthy of fiction, grips them with a thriller and always respects them as the final link in the story circle. In the preface, Osage tribal member Dennis McAuliffe Jr. says, "Every time this history is learned, justice is served, and the victims... are honored." Grann has ensured that justice will indeed be served many times over. --Jen Forbus, freelancer

Shelf Talker: Journalist David Grann masterfully adapts his work about the Osage tribe murders--a National Book Award finalist--to provide young readers with an accessible look at this horrific part of U.S. history.

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