Also published on this date: Wednesday, January 19, 2022: Maximum Shelf: Mrs. England

Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Papercutz: Children of the Phoenix Vol. 1: The Eye of the Storm by Oskar Källner, illustrated by Karl Johnsson

Shadow Mountain: Under the Java Moon: A Novel of World War II by Heather B. Moore

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers: So Let Them Burn by Kamilah Cole

Minotaur Books: The Rumor Game by Thomas Mullen

Tordotcom: The Dead Cat Tail Assassins P. Djèlí Clark

Shadow Mountain: The Queen and the Knave (Proper Romance Victorian) by Sarah M. Eden


Bookstore Sales Up 43% in November, Up 39.8% Year to Date

In November, bookstore sales jumped 43%, to $709 million, compared to November 2020, according to preliminary Census Bureau estimates. Last November was the eighth full month that reflected severe measures taken in the U.S. to combat the Covid-19 pandemic, which included widespread lockdowns. By comparison to pre-pandemic times, sales this past November rose 10.8% compared to November 2019.

For the first 11 months of 2021, bookstore sales are up 39.8%, to $7.8 billion.

Total retail sales in November rose 19.6%, to $650 billion. So far in 2021, total retail sales rose 19.6%, to $6.7 trillion.

Note: under Census Bureau definitions, the bookstore category consists of "establishments primarily engaged in retailing new books." The Bureau also added this unusual caution concerning the effect of Covid-19: "The Census Bureau continues to monitor response and data quality and has determined that estimates in this release meet publication standards."

Running Press Adult: You Are a Badass(r) (Ultimate Collector's Edition): How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life by Jen Sincero

Historic Building Expansion: New Orleans's Octavia Books Doubling in Size

Octavia Books, New Orleans, La., is in the midst of a renovation of its historic building that will more than double the size of the store and modernize the structure while maintaining its historical features. The renovation will also feature a speakeasy-style doorway between the bookstore and its neighboring café that has regular shelving and can pivot open when both businesses are open.

"It's exciting but not easy in an old building," Tom Lowenburg, who owns Octavia with his wife, Judith Lafitte, told Shelf Awareness. "It's a statement that we'll be here and continue to be doing something relevant for a long time in the future."

With the move, Octavia's retail space will grow to 4,500 square feet from 2,000, and the neighboring breakfast and lunch restaurant, Toast, will expand slightly, too. Octavia is creating two new interior doors into new space. (Most of the new space for both businesses had been occupied by a judo school and yoga school, which moved out in recent years.) While Octavia will reconfigure its current space somewhat--expanding its children's section, for example--it will "keep the current space's feel and extend it rather that replace it."

More than 100 years old, Octavia's building is a traditional commercial building on the corner, and when the renovation is complete, Octavia's main entrance will be on the corner. (It will keep its current entrance on the side.)

Construction started in August, and Lowenburg hopes it will be finished sometime this summer. For now, the sidewalk's fenced off, and there's a dumpster and storage unit outside. Octavia hopes to stay open throughout the construction, while Toast is temporarily closed.

Because the building is a historic structure and because the renovation's cost will be above a certain percentage of the building's value, everything has to be upgraded to city code. This has necessitated redoing plumbing, upgrading all electrical systems, redoing a grease trap, and redoing the driveway using permeable pavement. Among surprises was discovering a well or cistern under the basement and some kind of tank under the driveway that may have stored kerosene and required soil testing. All alterations have to be approved historically. "We're paying a lot of attention to what the building tells us," Lowenburg said. "The architect's sensitive to that."

New features include 60 solar panels, which contribute to the new building being "a very green building," Lowenburg said.

Octavia opened in 2000, and "it's time to make this move," Lowenburg said. "The end results will be fabulous."

Atria Books: Interesting Facts about Space by Emily Austin

Sourcebooks Partners with Ebony Magazine Publishing on New Venture

Sourcebooks is teaming up with Ebony Magazine Publishing, the publishing arm of the Ebony brand, for a partnership that will highlight the Ebony brand's 75-year history as a leading voice in areas of social justice, entertainment and African American culture. Plans are to publish four to eight adult fiction and nonfiction books a year.

Lavaille Lavette, president and publisher of Ebony Magazine Publishing, said, "This collaboration will celebrate a broad spectrum of Black voices through powerful fiction and nonfiction stories with authors who represent and speak to the full spectrum of our culture."

Dominique Raccah, Sourcebooks publisher and CEO, commented: "We are thrilled to be partnering with Ebony to showcase the extraordinary work of Black authors and celebrate Black stories. Books change lives, and Ebony Magazine Publishing will be life-changing for authors and readers alike."

Black Hollywood: Reimagining Iconic Movie Moments by photographer Carell Augustus (October 2022) will be the first adult nonfiction title published under the partnership. The foreword is written by Academy Award winner Forest Whitaker and the afterword by Niecy Nash.

"At the end of the day, Black Hollywood is a statement about representation," Carell said. "It's really important to me that Black people, especially Black kids, see themselves in ways that I hadn't when I was growing up. If you never see yourself somewhere, it's hard to imagine ever being in that place. So, this isn't a book just for Black people--it's a book for all people about Black people. About the dreams we were never told we could achieve. About the places we were never told we could go. And now, finally, about how we can get there."

Ebony Magazine Publishing's first adult fiction publication, slated for November 2022, is book one in the Martyr Maker crime thriller series by actor, producer, director, and author Eriq La Salle (known for his role as Dr. Peter Benton on E.R.). La Salle had self-published the first two books in the series (Laws of Depravity, Laws of Wrath) while the third title, Laws of Annihilation, will be a new book.

"Unfortunately, there has historically been a blatant underrepresentation of authors of color in the thriller/suspense genre," La Salle said. "The exciting collaboration between two well respected brands such as Ebony and Sourcebooks is a testament to their commitment to ushering in fresh voices and diverse perspectives. I am both honored and elated to have my thriller series selected to help launch this incredible endeavor of showcasing universally compelling stories that exist beyond race and gender."
Other planned adult fiction projects include the Millionaires Club series by romance author Sandra Kitt, who will become Ebony Magazine Publishing's flagship romance author, and Black States of America by D.E. Rogers. Future adult nonfiction projects include The Grift (February 2023) by journalist and radio host Clay Cane as well as Freda DeKnight's A Date with a Dish, described as "the definitive Black cookbook, featuring authentic regional recipes--classic and contemporary--from celebrities, influential chefs, and the African American community and celebrating the role Black cuisine has played throughout American history, as well as its cultural significance today."

Calendars will also be included in the publishing program, starting with the 2023 This Day in Black History wall and boxed calendars, publishing in August 2022. Publishing simultaneously with Black Hollywood is the 2023 Black Hollywood Wall Calendar: A Yearlong Exploration of Iconic Movie Moments Reimagined.

GLOW: Carolrhoda Books: Pangu's Shadow by Karen Bao

B&N Closing Saugus, Mass., Store

Barnes & Noble is closing its Saugus, Mass., store on January 23, the Boston Business Journal reported. Located in the Staples Plaza shopping center on Route 1, about 12 miles northeast of Boston, the store was in business for 25 years.

According to B&N, the store's landlord has not renewed the lease because it has plans to redevelop the shopping center; the landlord, Ares Management Corp., has told the Business Journal that that isn't accurate and it is instead working to bring a "national retail tenant" into that space.

While no details have been announced, B&N is scouting the Saugus area for a suitable space in which to reopen the store.

Flatiron Books: The Bad Ones by Melissa Albert

Binc Opens DPI Scholarship Application Process

The Book Industry Charitable Foundation, in collaboration with Sourcebooks and the Denver Publishing Institute, has opened the application process for a scholarship to attend DPI, the four-week-long summer program (July 10-August 5) at the University of Denver. Classes are taught by industry professionals who work for trade, university, textbook and independent publishers throughout the country.

The application process--administered through DPI--is open to booksellers who are currently employed (full- or part-time) at a bricks-and-mortar bookstore, with a tenure of at least 90 days, and are employed by the bookstore at the time of the program. The scholarship, worth up to $7,000, includes tuition, room and board, and up to $2,000 to cover travel and lost wages. Applications will be accepted through February 24.

"The Denver Publishing Institute is an integral part of our publishing community, and several Sourcebooks staffers are proud graduates of their incredible program," said Valerie Pierce, director of marketing, retail & creative services at Sourcebooks. "We are so thankful that Binc is continuing their lovely scholarship program with DPI, because we know it will provide future booksellers and publishing professionals important opportunities to gain knowledge, skillsets, and relationships."
Cassie Duncanson of Wellesley Books in Wellesley, Mass., the 2021 scholarship winner, said: "Receiving the Binc Scholarship for 2021 opened doors that I had long wished I could open. Everyone at DPI--from the students to faculty to the administration were so generous with their time, energy, and knowledge, and still are to this day. I gained insight into all aspects of publishing that I was previously only privy to from the bookseller's side. Being able to see how the whole ecosystem works was so valuable, not just as someone looking for a career in publishing, but also as someone who continues to work in bookstores. I am so excited for what my future holds in the book world, and it's all thanks to Binc, Sourcebooks, and DPI."

DPI director Jill Smith commented: "We are delighted to be able to join Binc and Sourcebooks to support another bookseller's attendance at the 2022 Denver Publishing Institute. Booksellers are vitally important to the publishing community because of their direct relationships with readers. Our goal is to help them grow in their careers, whether they continue to grow their roles in retail or move into different positions within book publishing."

Booksellers can find out more details and apply here.

Soho Crime: My Favorite Scar by Nicolás Ferraro, translated by Mallory Craig-Kuhn


Bookseller Moment: Exile in Bookville

Posted on Instagram recently by Exile in Bookville, Chicago, Ill.: "We had our biggest day since opening! We are surrounded by thousands of great works and yet there are no words to express our gratitude. We hope you know how much each and every one of you means to us. Exile exists because of you and we can't believe we get to talk books and music every day with you all. Thank you, thank you, thank you."

The Book Rack's John Hendricks on the 'Changing Nature of Bookselling'

John Hendricks, owner of the Book Rack in Cape Girardeau, Mo., spoke with the Southeast Missourian about the bookstore's legacy and being a bookseller in challenging times. He has run the business, which was started by his parents in 1977 as a used bookshop, since 1997.

"My late father, Jack Hendricks, had read somewhere about 'The Book Rack' in Memphis, so mom and dad drove down there and checked it out," eventually buying a franchise for Cape Girardeau, John Hendricks noted.

The original shop focused on what Hendricks described as "cheap, bargain basement-type books," but he soon developed a larger vision once he took over the store. "I went to every used bookstore I could in the Midwest and saw their best practices. I realized the stores were all essentially hobbies for their owners, but I wanted this to be my full-time moneymaking job--so I tried to figure out the best way to make that happen."

Computerizing his inventory was an important early step, Hendricks recalled. "Every used bookstore you ever went into, if you asked the guy at the counter for a James Patterson book, he'd more than likely reply, 'Well, I think they're over there.' A customer would go over to the shelf area at which the clerk pointed and would have to look and look and look for a single title among thousands of books. Effectively, a customer was on his own. That's not efficient in terms of making money because the customer showed up on a lunch break and has to get back to work. He wants to get in and out and doesn't have time to do extensive browsing. If he's doing a lot of looking, he isn't buying.... My vision was then and is now getting people to buy lots of books."

Around 2010, he began transitioning the store from a sole focus on used books to what he calls "used, new and rare" titles. "Walmart used to sell 10% of all the books available for sale in America but today (the retailer) has a much narrower focus, selling what I call 'greatest hits' books. I saw a market develop to sell new books that were more 'odds-and-ends.' "

Adjusting to the pandemic has been the most recent challenge. "During Covid, we would do curbside service and bring books out to their cars," Hendricks said, adding that the pandemic prompted him to increase his new book inventory. "People, I noticed, were migrating to us rather than automatically going to Barnes & Noble or Amazon because we actually know the books. We're not just order takers."

Personnel Changes at Random House

In the Random House digital department:

Daniel Christensen has been promoted to senior director, online content, strategy & optimization.

Hannah Frank has been promoted to associate manager, online copy optimization.

Heidi Lilly has been promoted to manager, metadata analytics.

Madeleine Kenney has been promoted to associate manager, metadata operations.

Susan Seeman has been promoted to senior manager, digital publishing.

Dannalie Diaz has been promoted to manager, digital operations.

Ryan Kearney has been promoted to associate manager, digital operations.

Shannon Mondesir has been promoted to associate, digital operations.

Book Trailer of the Day: There's a Unicorn in Your Book

There's a Unicorn in Your Book by Tom Fletcher, illustrated by Greg Abbott (Random House Books for Young Readers), part of the Who's in Your Book picture book series.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Lindsey Vonn on Tamron Hall

Tamron Hall: Lindsey Vonn, author of Rise: My Story (Dey Street, $28.99, 9780062889447).

Movies: Against the Ice

Netflix released a trailer and first-look photos for Against the Ice, adapted from Ejnar Mikkelsen's book Against the Ice: The Classic Arctic Survival Story. The film stars Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Game of Thrones) as Mikkelsen, "a real-life polar explorer who sets out to recover the bodies and records from the ill-fated Denmark Expedition. The 1909 quest in frozen Greenland turned into a perilous fight for survival," Entertainment Weekly reported. 

Directed by Peter Flinth, the project was co-adapted by Joe Derrick and Coster-Waldau. The cast also includes Charles Dance, Joe Cole (Peaky Blinders), Ed Speleers (Outlander) and Heida Reed.

"Everything about this expedition is not widely known. It's a great story that we can't wait for people to experience," Coster-Waldau said. Against the Ice debuts March 2 on Netflix.

Books & Authors

Awards: Moore for Human Rights Writing Winner; Jane Addams Winners

Rosalind Russell won the £1,000 (about $1,370) Moore Prize, presented annually by the Christopher G. Moore Foundation to honor excellence in human rights writing, for her narrative nonfiction work The End of Where We Begin

The 2021 jury unanimously agreed that The End of Where We Begin "met the criteria of the prize with extraordinary clarity, compassion and impact. Russell created a compelling portrait of three diverse individuals who escape South Sudan as civil war erupts. She exposes their loss of family, home and livelihood and their endless struggles to survive and live productive lives despite attack, injury, exile and trauma--made all the more difficult by the pandemic."


The Jane Addams Peace Association has announced the winners of the 2022 Jane Addams Children's Book Awards, which are given annually to "children's books of literary and aesthetic excellence that effectively engage children in thinking about peace, social justice, global community, and equity for all people."

Shirley Chisholm Dared: The Story of the First Black Woman in Congress, written by Alicia D. Williams and illustrated by April Harrison (Anne Schwartz Books), won in the Books for Younger Children category, while How to Find What You're Not Looking For by Veera Hiranandani (Kokila) won in the Books for Older Children category.

More information about the two winners and the four honor books can be found here.

Reading with... Bill Hayes

photo: Walter Kurtz

Bill Hayes is the author of How We Live Now, Insomniac City, The Anatomist and a collection of street photography, How New York Breaks Your Heart, among other books. Hayes is a recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship in nonfiction and is a frequent contributor to the New York Times. He has completed the screenplay for a film adaption of Insomniac City, currently in the works from Hopscotch Features, and he is also a co-editor of Oliver Sacks's posthumous books. Hayes's latest book is Sweat: A History of Exercise (Bloomsbury, January 18, 2022), a brisk and eclectic survey of fitness, from ancient arenas to modern gyms.

On your nightstand now:

Just finishing neurologist and author Suzanne O'Sullivan's The Sleeping Beauties--a fascinating and provocative series of case histories on psychosomatic and so-called "mass psychogenic" illnesses (such as Havana Syndrome). Next up is one of my favorite's latest: Rebecca Solnit's Orwell's Roses. I'm almost exclusively a nonfiction reader.

Favorite book when you were a child:

James and the Giant Peach--the ultimate run-away-from-home fantasy (inside a flying peach!) and just about every other book by Roald Dahl.

Your top five authors:

Joan Didion (especially for The White Album!), Edmund White (see below), Janet Malcolm (In the Freud Archives, if I had to pick just one), Sylvia Plath (Ariel--oh, Ariel!), Susan Sontag (AIDS and Its Metaphors).

Book you've faked reading:

Books plural: A collection of first editions of the work of Charles Darwin, my late partner Oliver Sacks's greatest hero and influence. They look beautiful all lined up on a shelf--and they remind me sweetly of Oliver, who knew them practically by heart--but I've never read them all.

Book you're an evangelist for:

Vivian Gornick's memoir about her relationship with her mother, Fierce Attachments--it's so compressed you feel like the book could explode in your hands--and it's so elegantly, simply structured.

Book you've bought for the cover:

Sheila Heti's How Should a Person Be? But equally for its title; it must be one of the most brilliant titles--ever.

Book you hid from your parents:

Patricia Nell Warren's The Front Runner, a 1974 novel about a gay relationship between two male athletes--rare at the time. I was 13. I remember hiding it under my mattress, in my underwear drawer (gee, not too obvious!) and rereading it several times.

Book that changed your life:

Edmund White's A Boy's Own Story (it felt like my story, as so many other gay men have said) and, equally, his amazing (albeit less well-known) cross-country travel memoir, States of Desire (1980), which captured gay male life in America just before AIDS hit--the book is a time capsule from a brief, shining, sexy, sliver of time.

Favorite line from a book:

"I will be her witness." The opening line to Didion's great novel A Book of Common Prayer. I say "great." Actually, I'm not sure it is one of her greatest books--I feel her nonfiction is far stronger than her fiction--but it's one hell of a great opening line--just on the verge of camp. Classic Didion.  

Five books you'll never part with:

All of Oliver's personal copies of his own books--some of which he used for readings--filled with his annotations, corrections, notes.

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

I devoured Heather Clark's brilliant recent biography of Sylvia Plath, Red Comet, a 1,000-plus-page book with the narrative drive of a thriller. I wept several times, reading that book, and gained a whole new understanding of Plath and her work. I might just read it again after finishing Rebecca's new book.

Book Review

Children's Review: Out on a Limb

Out on a Limb by Jordan Morris, illus. by Charlie Mylie (Abrams, $18.99 hardcover, 40p., ages 4-8, 9781419753657, February 15, 2022)

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times: doubtless this is the assessment of many a child who has gone through the pain-slash-excitement-slash-annoyance of breaking a bone and having to wear a cast. Debut author Jordan Morris and illustrator Charlie Mylie (Something for You; Anything with You) have built Out on a Limb, their divine feelings-front picture book, around one kid's experience with a temporary disability--and a permanently wonderful grandfather.
Lulu has a broken leg, which means lots of "special attention" plus a "sympathy trove" (games, books, cards). On the downside, because of her cast, she has to "think of new ways to do ordinary things" (take a bath, get to school). Lulu's frustration with her injury is gradually winning out over its novelty, so when her cast is finally removed after six weeks, she's surprised to feel something other than elation: "Shouldn't she be happy to get rid of that itchy, old cast?" Not only does she miss the spotlight the cast invites, but she's finding reentry into the ambulatory world, which is full of staircases to tumble down and playground climbing structures to fall off, a little scary: "She wanted to be Lulu with a yellow cast and she wanted her leg to be safe inside."
Morris leaves no feeling unturned in Out on a Limb, for which Mylie has created a pigtailed protagonist whose every emotion commands her face like a newspaper headline. Mylie introduces to his largely grayscale digitally tweaked graphite art a glowing yellow that highlights, among other objects of interest, Lulu's cast, the single compensatory rain boot she elects to wear once her cast is off and the envelope containing the letter that her perceptive grandfather mails to her. Scattered throughout the book are wordless panels showing the waylaid letter's circuitous journey: it goes from mailbox to post office floor to shoe bottom and on and on until, toward book’s end, it lands in the bird's nest from which Lulu retrieves it after screwing up her courage and climbing a tree. It's almost as if Grandpa planned it this way. "Some things just need a little extra time," he tells Lulu regarding the letter's delayed arrival, but of course he is talking about something else too. His letter makes all the difference in Lulu's emotional recovery, which, Out on a Limb reminds readers, can sometimes be more difficult than the physical piece. --Nell Beram, freelance writer and YA author
Shelf Talker: In this emotionally resounding picture book, a girl who has broken her leg finds herself feeling blue after her cast comes off and she must return to the ambulatory world.

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