Shelf Awareness for Friday, December 10, 2021

William Morrow & Company: Death of the Author by Nnedi Okorafor

St. Martin's Press: Disney High: The Untold Story of the Rise and Fall of Disney Channel's Tween Empire

Running Press Adult: Scam Goddess: Lessons from a Life of Cons, Grifts, and Schemes by Laci Mosley

Graphix: 39 Clues: One False Note (39 Clues Graphic Novel #2) by Gordon Korman, Illustrated by Hannah Templer

Running Press: Enter For a Chance to Win a Moonlit Explorer Pack!

Quill Tree Books: The Firelight Apprentice by Bree Paulsen

Quotation of the Day

'No Christmas Without Books'

"The bookselling, publishing and printing sectors stand united in emphasizing the essential value of books, especially during the festive season. Books are sources of culture and creativity, and bookshops play a central role in promoting reading and in building fairer and more inclusive communities. This holiday season, visit your local bookshop: there is no gift quite like a book."

--Jean-Luc Treutenaere, co-president of the European & International Booksellers Federation, commenting on a joint statement, titled "No Christmas Without Books," that was issued yesterday by the EIBF, the Federation of European Publishers, and Intergraf

Zest Books: The Gender Binary Is a Big Lie: Infinite Identities around the World by Lee Wind


Ribbon Cutting, Grand Opening for A Seat at the Table Books in Elk Grove, Calif.

A Seat at the Table Books, which launched two years ago as an online bookstore with occasional pop-up appearances, is hosting its grand opening celebration as a bricks-and-mortar location Saturday at 9257 Laguna Springs Drive in Elk Grove, Calif. ABC10 reported that the bookstore "looks to bring the community together to 'uplift the oppressed and smash the kyriarchy through the power of books, coffee, and community.' " 

The store had a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Wednesday. Co-owner and founder Emily Autenrieth said: "After two years of planning and preparation, cutting our ribbon to symbolize that we are here and we are permanently in the community is pretty exciting." 

She added: "We provide a community space where people can learn about each other, can pick up a new book that speaks to them, can find solace and refuge in something that takes them out of the current world. Which is always valuable, but especially now, but also with us as our mission to smash the kyriarchy, which is an intersectional term for patriarchy, and give everyone a seat at the table." She also expressed hope the store helps customers build connections and allows them to be their true selves.

On the shop's website, co-owner Ryan Autenrieth notes: "I love that we are creating a safe and inclusive space that represents the full diversity of Elk Grove and Sacramento County. We are creating a bookstore, cafe, and community space to celebrate all identities and to enjoy some great coffee and books within a caring community environment!"

Emily Autenrieth observes: "Everyone deserves a seat at the table! I love that at our bookstore/cafe, we have an amazing team working together to transform our community, to give everyone a safe space to be who they are, and create the kind of community we need in Elk Grove. This business is everything to Ryan and me. We call it our third child!"

GLOW: Flatiron Books: Private Rites by Julia Armfield

Daydream Believer Books & Gifts Open in Lake Mills, Wis.


Daydream Believer Books & Gifts opened in Lake Mills, Wis., on Black Friday, the Watertown Daily Times reported. Starting a year ago, owner Jean Lynch, staged some pop-ups to gauge the town's interest in a bookstore and was highly encouraged. In the spring, she took possession of retail space that had been a pottery store and began converting the site into a bookstore.

Lynch is currently renovating the back of the store to create a children's and YA section and add more seating for younger customers. The store also has a small bakery and coffee area. It will eventually have an online presence, and Lynch plans to host book clubs, story times and guest speakers.

"I wanted to create a cozy atmosphere that feels like an extension of the customer's living room," Lynch said. "Read a book and have a cup of tea or meet a friend."

Lynch called herself "a voracious reader. I started reading as a little girl and never stopped." She is a family attorney solo practitioner with an office near the store, the paper reported, and has five part-time employees who operate the store when she is working at her other profession.

Alex Baker: Exceptional Design And Creative Services For The Publishing Industry

Golden Owl Bookshop on the Move in Reno, Nev.

Golden Owl Bookshop, a bookmobile that sells titles for children and adults, has found success since first hitting the road in Reno, Nev., six months ago. Owner Alex McClelland told the Nevada Independent that she sells more adult titles than children's titles, with self-help books and business books being the standouts.

McClelland's nine-year-old son, Broden, inspired her to open a bookstore when he asked if Reno had any mobile bookstores like one he'd learned about in school. At the time McClelland was a stay-at-home mom, and she thought, "Let's go for it," and started researching the bookselling business. McClelland briefly considered opening a bricks-and-mortar store in addition to a book truck, but "real estate right now is insane."

Gold Owl Bookshop debuted in May, and McClelland said it met with success almost immediately. "I've only had a couple of days where it really wasn't worth my time to be out there. It's actually been [a] hugely pleasant surprise because people want physical books. They don't want to be reading on a screen all the time."

McClelland uses a wi-fi hotspot and digital register for payments and keeps the inventory from bouncing around too much in transit with a system of bungee cords. She noted that because her store is mobile, she can bring books to parts of Reno that have no bookstores of their own.

Holiday Hum: Supply-Chain Issues; Surpassing 2019; 'Full Holiday Swing'

In Ames, Iowa, Dog Eared Books has seen steadily growing sales since about November 1, with co-owner Amanda Lepper reporting that "people starting showing up in a different fashion" at that point. The biggest change has been in weekly daytime business, which Lepper said she found surprising. The store, which opened on March 8, had a good Small Business Saturday turnout but a "huge sales total" on Black Friday. She noted that she and co-owner Ellyn Grimm never pushed the shop-early message particularly strongly, but they would mention potential supply-chain issues when customers placed special orders.

When it came to preparing for the season and potential supply chain problems, Grimm and Lepper kept an eye on what sold well all year, which titles were already hard to keep in stock, and how quickly different publishers shipped things. They were able to "order really deep" on the titles that just kept selling, on staff favorites and on books that were seeing an uptick even if they weren't staff favorites. They filled the store's basement with "books and books" and, while ordering so heavily did make them a bit nervous, "we know the books we're ordering will sell eventually."

On the topic of supply-chain issues, Lepper said that for certain publishers and for Ingram it has indeed been as bad as expected, although some publishers, including Penguin, Scholastic and Simon & Schuster, are still "coming through." Despite how deeply the store ordered on many titles, they are still running out of some, such as The Dawn of Everything by David Graeber and David Wengrow and The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood, which "took off."

Asked whether the news of the Omicron variant has affected in-store shopping, Lepper noted that "we started in the pandemic, so we don't know any different." That said, after school began in the fall, the store once again started asking customers to wear masks while shopping. For the most part customers are happy to comply, and there are only a very few who ask the staff to bring their purchases out to their car. She added that the team will reexamine its mask requirement in mid-January, once the rush slows down.


Maureen Palacios, owner of Once Upon a Time Bookstore in Montrose, Calif., reported that the store has been extremely busy compared to 2020 and the numbers "are well over pre-pandemic levels of 2019." Sales over Thanksgiving weekend were up 37% over 2020 and almost 27% over 2019. Palacios and her staff were "delighted to see so many loyal customers and new ones," and were "pleasantly surprised and overjoyed with love from our customers," especially one who brought in custom cookies.

Palacios said her store is facing supply issues primarily with sidelines like puppets, plush toys and puzzles. While the puzzles are "doing okay," the plush and puppets "can't be reordered fast enough" and the out-of-stock issues have started to become "problematic." Once Upon a Time ordered up on big titles, which are selling in droves, but the perennial issues of shipping damages and delayed shipping from certain publishers have reared their heads. It's created the team's favorite phase: "preparing to ship."

Online sales haven't gone away entirely, Palacios added, but it is more manageable this year than last December's "absolute craziness." Omicron news seems not to have put a dent in in-person shopping, and mask wearing continues to be an issue. "It doesn't shock us like it used to, though, and our responses are now less emotional."


(photo: Emma Nichols)

For Norwich Bookstore in Norwich, Vt., the holiday rush started early, co-owners Sam Kaas and Emma Nichols reported. The store had a "really strong November," and though they didn't host any special events for Indies First/Small Business Saturday, things were still bustling. They had a few large events the following week, and this past week "we've just been in full holiday swing."

Nichols and Kaas purchased Norwich Bookstore earlier this year. To prepare for this holiday season, they consulted the store's historicals and considered their own experiences in past holiday seasons. They ended up ordering key titles in higher quantities than normal, and bought copies of Colson Whitehead's Harlem Shuffle and Amor Towles's The Lincoln Highway in cartons. They also bought a lot of frontlist and backlist staff picks and "made bets" on titles like Paul McCartney's The Lyrics, most of which have paid off. Like many of their peers, they've tried to focus their messaging on backlist favorites rather than what they can't acquire.

For a handful of publishers, Norwich Bookstore has already sent the last orders they expect to receive before Christmas, which "feels insane." For the publishers the store is having the most trouble with, Kaas pointed out, most of them had huge delays and shortages well before the holidays. Other publishers and distributors, however, seem to still be shipping with "reasonable reliability, for now." Kaas said he's been pleasantly surprised by a few hot titles that were reprinted when he didn't expect to see more until 2022. Overall, while things aren't quite as bad as Kaas and Nichols feared, they're still "definitely the worst they've ever been."

On the subject of the Omicron variant, Kaas said things are still very busy in-store, and although web order traffic has gone up in the past couple of weeks, it's hard to attribute any of that to Omicron. The community has a high vaccination rate, mask wearing is commonplace and there is an attitude of "careful pragmatism." --Alex Mutter

Arleta Little Named Executive Director at Loft Literary Center

Arleta Little

Arleta Little has been named the new executive director of the Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis, Minn., succeeding Britt Udesen, who served six years as the organization's most recent executive director and ended her tenure last May. Managing director Beth Schoeppler will continue serving as interim director on a part-time basis until Little begins full-time in March 2022.

Little joins the Loft after serving as an arts & culture program officer and the director of artist fellowships at the McKnight Foundation. Prior to her time at McKnight, she was the executive director of the Givens Foundation for African American Literature and worked for more than 15 years as an organizational development consultant providing strategic planning, program evaluation and grant writing services to Minnesota organizations. She is a poet and writer. 

After a comprehensive national search process, the board said it had chosen Little "based on her leadership experience and advocacy for the literary arts, her track record advancing racial equity and justice, her strategic and skillful approach to organizational development, and her integrity in forging partnerships."

"We were introduced to extraordinary candidates throughout the search process--and we couldn't be more thrilled to choose Arleta," said Eric Roberts, lead for the Loft's search committee. "She has incredible community connections, a fierce commitment to local writers and artists, and a strong vision for taking the Loft into its next chapter."

Board chair Mike Meyer commented: "The Loft is committed to doing the deep work of becoming an antiracist organization and leader in Minnesota and the country--Arleta is the strong and compassionate leader to get us there. Her strategic vision, which includes strengthening our programming and connecting with new communities, is crucial to acting on that promise."


Image of the Day: Mystic Honor for Annie Philbrick

Annie Philbrick, owner of Bank Square Books in Mystic, Conn., Savoy Bookshop & Cafè in Westerly, R.I., and Title IX: A Bookstore, in New London, Conn., recently received a Ballast Award from the Greater Mystic Chamber of Commerce. The 15 over 50 Ballast Awards acknowledges business icons over 50 years of age who have remained steadfast, making Mystic their own for 15 years or more. Pictured: Philbrick with her husband, Ben, at the awards ceremony.

Personnel Changes at Macmillan; Sourcebooks

At Macmillan:

Kayla Burson has joined Macmillan trade sales on the special markets team as senior specialist markets manager, e-commerce.

Shavon Bilis has moved from Macmillan trade sales to the client services team and promoted to client account manager.

D'Kela Duncan has joined the Macmillan children's sales team as sales assistant for mass merch/clubs accounts. '

Margo McCoy has joined Macmillan trade sales as a sales assistant for the merch, wholesale, academic, library teams.

Michelle Timmins has joined Macmillan trade sales in the merchandise sales division as a sales assistant.

Ashley Herzig has moved from Macmillan trade sales to become Amazon sales assistant.


Stephanie Levasseur has been promoted to national sales manager for gift and specialty at Sourcebooks.

Book Trailer of the Day: My Friend/Mi Amigo Series

The My Friend/Mi Amigo series, whose first two titles are Let's Be Friends/Seamos Amigos and We Play Soccer/Jugamos al Fútbol, both by René Colato Laínez, illustrated by Nomar Perez (Holiday House).

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey on the Today Show

Today Show: Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey, authors of Chasing the Truth: A Young Journalist's Guide to Investigative Reporting (Philomel Books, $17.99, 9780593326992).

TV: Ripley

Actor and musician Eliot Sumner (No Time to Die) will play a recurring role opposite Andrew Scott and Johnny Flynn in Ripley, Showtime's series based on Patricia Highsmith's quintet of Tom Ripley novels, Deadline reported. Dakota Fanning also stars.

Steven Zaillian (The Night Of) will write and direct the first season of Ripley. The series is co-produced by Showtime and Endemol Shine North America in association with Entertainment 360 and Filmrights. Executive producers are Zaillian, Garrett Basch, Guymon Casady, Ben Forkner, Sharon Levy, Philipp Keel and Charlie Corwin. Scott will serve as a producer on the series.

Books & Authors

Awards: Patrick White Winner

Poet Adam Aitken won the 2021 Patrick White Literary Award, honoring an author who has "made a significant but inadequately recognized contribution to Australian literature." Established by Patrick White with the proceeds of his 1973 Nobel Prize in Literature, the award is worth A$15,000 (about US$10,690). 

Aitken is the author of several books of poetry, including Archipelago, shortlisted in 2018 for the Kenneth Slessor Prize and the Prime Minister's Literary Award for poetry, and the 2016 autobiography 100 Letters Home, which was longlisted for the 2017 ALS Gold Medal. His forthcoming collection Revenants will be published in February.

He told the Age that winning the prize "makes me feel a lot more confident. After my first book was published in 1985, I didn't write for 10 years afterwards; I couldn't repeat the momentum.... I am very grateful to my comrades and colleagues who have devoted their lives to poetry. And I hope it keeps the people who pick up my work and publish the poems going."

Reading with… Kyle Lucia Wu

photo: Sylvie Rosokoff

Kyle Lucia Wu is the programs & communications director at Kundiman, a nonprofit dedicated to nurturing Asian American literature, and she teaches creative writing at Fordham University, the New School and Catapult. Wu has received the Asian American Writers' Workshop Margins fellowship and residencies from the Byrdcliffe Colony, the Millay Colony, Plympton's Writing Downtown Residency and the Kimmel Harding Nelson Center. Her first novel is Win Me Something (Tin House, November 2, 2021), a coming-of-age story about what it means to grow up in a "blended" but fractured family, and how what is left unsaid, unheard and unfelt can shape us in unexpected ways.

On your nightstand now:

Nakano Thrift Shop by Hiromi Kawakami; I'm fresh off reading the soothing, spellbinding Strange Weather in Tokyo and excited for her forthcoming collection, People from My Neighborhood. I love reading fiction in translation for many reasons but partly because it shows a freedom from the restriction of Western plot structures.

Favorite book when you were a child:

The Search for Delicious by Natalie Babbitt, which is about a 12-year-old boy sent to poll the kingdom for the true definition of "delicious." No one can agree and war threatens to break out because of it. As a child, I must have loved the clarity in which everyone declared their own definitions, and the realization that you can unite people without homogenizing them.

Your top five authors:

James Baldwin
Ruth Ozeki
T Kira Madden
Patricia Smith
Tiana Clark

Book you've faked reading:

Moby-Dick by Herman Melville. Though after reading Anthony Veasna So's Afterparties, where Moby Dick plays a part in the story "Human Development," I keep wanting to start reading it for real.

Book you're an evangelist for:

Ghost Forest by Pik-Shuen Fung, a piercing, spare, beautifully observed meditation on grief, inheritance and family. I cry every time I read it, as if it's my first time encountering it, and it's taught me so much about how to engage the reader using space, trust and absence on the page.

Book you've bought for the cover:

Recently, Nightbitch by Rachel Yoder, which paid off extremely well, as it was fantastic.

Book you hid from your parents:

I never had to hide a book from my parents, but they may have raised an eyebrow at how many times I read Please Kill Me, the oral history of the punk movement by Gillian McCain and Legs McNeil.

Book that changed your life:

Sour Heart by Jenny Zhang was revelatory to me in its rendering of Chinese American girlhood--tender, grotesque, earnest and obscene.

Favorite line from a book:

"I'm bleeding, I'm not just making conversation." --Richard Siken, Crush

Five books you'll never part with:

Jesus' Son by Denis Johnson
Rose by Li-Young Lee
Long Live the Tribe of Fatherless Girls by T Kira Madden
Giovanni's Room by James Baldwin
Living for Change by Grace Lee Boggs

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

The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin, which is a book I've read and taught countless times and know very well. But sometimes knowing a book so well means it's impossible to reread it without all your past selves ricocheting around. It was so electrifying to read it for the first time; I wonder what it would be like to confront that clarity and conviction anew.

Book Review

Review: How to Find Your Way Home

How to Find Your Way Home by Katy Regan (Berkley, $17 paperback, 336p., 9780451490377, February 15, 2022)

The snags, sorrows, secrets and estrangements of familial connections are ripe themes explored in the fiction of British author Katy Regan. In How to Find Your Way Home, she astutely--and with great empathy for her characters and their predicaments--plumbs the depths of one family torn apart by a simple moment in time that upends lives and fates.

This deeply moving story of siblings Stephen and Emily Nelson is set on Canvey Island in Essex, England. The first scene, set in 1987, lays the literary groundwork: Stephen, as a child, eagerly awaits the happy homecoming of newborn Emily. It is clear that brother and sister are bonded from the start, and sensitive Stephen will spend his life looking out for--and remaining extremely protective of--his baby sister.

The tender innocence of this opening chapter is shattered when Regan pushes the timeline forward to 2018: Stephen and Emily are now adults in their 30s and have been estranged for 15 years. Revealing the separation--filling in the gaps that uprooted and unsettled both of their lives--becomes the focus of the story.

Stephen is a 35-year-old homeless man who served prison time. He lives on the streets. Despite being a drifter, he is a gentle, old soul who continues a passion imbued from childhood: bird watching, a pastime that holds life-changing significance that ties him to his sister. Emily--well-off and living a cushy life but always feeling as if something is missing--works in a facility that aids and counsels the homeless. For years, she had been on the lookout for her missing big brother. Might she have finally found him? And if so, can they build a bridge back to each other?

This moving, tender-hearted story traverses a course of almost 30 years and slowly unravels what went wrong and why, and what exactly drove a wedge between these two loving siblings in their teenaged years that kept them apart.

Regan is a meticulous, graceful writer whose insight on the human condition makes for a completely absorbing story. As in her other novels (Little Big Love), she presents a full, well-balanced picture--tragic, yet buoyed by hope--of the far-reaching influences of family dysfunction. Love, sacrifice and loyalty--along with chilling betrayals and rejections--are strong undercurrents that ultimately shape and mold blood ties and destinies forever. --Kathleen Gerard, blogger at Reading Between the Lines

Shelf Talker: This absorbing novel explores the lives of siblings, estranged for 15 years, who grapple with each other and their unsettled lives.

Deeper Understanding

Robert Gray: #BooksforChristmas: A Brief World Tour

Yesterday, in a joint statement (No Christmas Without Books) with Intergraf and the Federation of European Publishers, the European & International Booksellers Federation noted that the holiday season "represents an important part of the yearly revenues for many businesses, printers, publishers and booksellers included." 

Sales data aside, it's also always been fun and exhausting, in a singularly intense way, to work in a bookshop this time of year. While Covid Grinch and Supply Chain Scrooge have complicated things terribly, here's hoping the holiday season adrenaline rush is still there for frontline booksellers.

Maybe it's just nostalgia. I haven't been on the sales floor in a long time, yet I still feel the intensity building. And lately I've found myself compensating by collecting holiday season social media posts from bookshops around the world, just to get in the spirit.

Since this is the giving time of year, I'll share a sampling from my brief but lively little tour, beginning with a wonderful video on the website of the incomparable Livraria Lello in Porto, Portugal. From there, we travel (in alphabetical order by country because the connecting flights would be impossible to figure out) to:

The Sun Bookshop, Yarraville: "In line with festive tradition we are running our annual WIN THE WINDOW competition extravaganza. Win everything in our Christmas window (excluding shelving and glass) and become the proud owner of 2021's top titles!!"

Luddites Books & Wine, Antwerp: "The most wonderful time of the year is nearly upon us! To help you in the quest for the perfect present or Christmas card, some of our favorite cartoonists created a Christmas Box filled with the best cards a person could hope to send or receive."

Livraria Cultura, São Paulo: "A new Culture is emerging! This Christmas, our gift will be a brand new store! A bookshop with lots of news and full of amazing experiences."

Librairie Gallimard, Montreal: "It's Christmas at the library!! A big thank you to Barbara Ottevaere, ceramic artist, for this delicate and poetic showcase in which they nest, as fragments of our lives spent together, her little women and these little men... To allow you to find serenity your gifts for you and your loved ones, we are opening more starting this week!

Cayman Islands
Next Chapter, Grand Cayman: "Our beautiful Christmas decor and Christmas cards."

Bog & idé (multiple stores): "CHRISTMAS GIFT HITS FOR THE BOOK LOVERS. What books do others buy as Christmas presents for those they care about? You will find the answer here!"

Tales on Moon Lane, Ramsgate: "Huge thanks to Children's illustrator and author Yuval Zommer @yuvalzommer for visiting us this week to create the most magical, festive and colorful aurora borealis (northern lights) Christmas window we could have possibly imagined."

Shakespeare and Company, Paris: "Our bundles make the perfect Christmas gifts for the book worm in your life. We have some special Christmas ones up but check out the link in our bio or story to see the full selection."

Dussmann das KulturKaufhaus, Berlin: "Thank you! Thank you! Thanks! Thank you! Thank you! The motto of our Christmas campaign our colleague and DruckManufaktur-leader Elisabeth also picked up on her workshop space in the art book department--and the result can really be seen! The words of the mobiles were printed in wooden letters on our vintage printing press, the star is a stamp carved and hand printed by Elisabeth."

Eklektos Books, Elounda, Crete: "Ho Ho Ho!"

KoolSkool--The Book Store, Gurugram: " 'Tis the season to be jolly! We're making this joyous time special with a touch of bookish magic through our curated range of Christmas books... get ready to fill your socks with books!"

Philip's Bookshop, Mallow: "We are delighted to feature in this fabulous video made by Cork County Council highlighting the importance of shopping local this Christmas."

Moderna--Le Librerie San Donà, Veneto: "[Y]ou can feel the Christmas atmosphere in the air!"

Sangster's Book Store, Kingston: "Educational Gifting is A Must This Christmas! No doubt about it kids learn faster once they are having fun."

Soma Nami, Nairobi: "It's a good day as any to remind you that we are your plug for all your bookish gifts this season! And we'll let you in on a lil' open secret--book lovers love book gifts. If it comes in a box with amazing goodies inside, it's a home run for you my friend!!" 

Librairie les insolites Tanger, Tangier: "Art, books, notebooks, music (good, preferably), gift ideas, a shining tree, good mood = cocktail the insolities! Welcome you all!"

Boekhandel Van Piere, Eindhoven: "Een tip van Sinterklaas." 

New Zealand
Wardini Books, Havelock North: "Little pixie Catt has bust out the jingling advent box because.... it's 1st December! Featured today, books for readers of about 9 or 10 plus by our very own Gareth Ward!"

Massolit Books & Cafe, Kraków: "Here is our offer for Xmas."

Cărturești Carusel, Bucharest: "The Cartoon Fair awaits you this year with sweet ginger smell, Winter Cocktail flavor and with images from the Far Land of Santa."

Golden Hare Books, Edinburgh: "Oh, the weather outside is frightful.... But guess what? Our fire truly is delightful, and so is the rest of the shop!... See you soon."

Woods in the Books: "Season's Readings!"

The Bookshop, Marbella: "It's that time of year. We are here to help you chose the perfect Christmas gift and we can wrap it and send it for you. Drop into the store or order online."

Editions La Joie de lire, Geneva: "Enjoy the joys of Advent with La Joie de lire! Until December 25, discover every day an animal from our catalog. Will you be able to recognize what story it belongs to?"

Nhà Sách Hải An, Ho Chi Minh City: "Christmas... is the most loved and awaited holiday season of the year. It's an opportunity for the whole family to gather together. It is to give each other love, peace and the sweetest, warmest gifts."

The Mold Bookshop, Mold: "Books make the perfect Christmas gift."

--Robert Gray, contributing editor

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