Shelf Awareness for Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Chronicle Books: Stella & Marigold by Annie Barrows, Illustrated by Sophie Blackall

Poisoned Pen Press: The Boyfriend by Frieda McFadden

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


Sandbar Books Comes to the Florida Keys

After moving to the Florida Keys in November 2020, Becky Washam and her husband, Michael, realized there was a glaring absence in the community. In early 2020 Hooked on Books in Islamorada, Fla., closed, leaving residents in that part of the Florida Keys with the choice of driving 90 miles to Key West or to the mainland if they wanted to visit an independent bookstore. 

"It left a hole in our community," said Washam, who has an entrepreneurial background and had always wanted to open a retail store of her own. Once she saw how much the community wanted and needed a bookstore, she decided to take the plunge and open one of her own.

Sandbar Books officially opened on March 12. The 1,700-square-foot store has about 1,400 square feet of selling space and carries new titles for children, teens and adults. Books of all genres are represented, with a particular emphasis on children's books as well as books about the Florida Keys and by local authors. Washam added that nonfiction books about the history of the Keys and fiction set in the area are very popular with both locals and tourists.

Roughly 35% of the store's inventory consists of nonbook items, with greeting cards being an especially strong area. Stickers also sell well, and Washam said children's games and toys, particularly STEM-focused toys, have "gone over really well." She noted that there aren't really any places on the Keys that carry games and toys like that except for perhaps Family Dollar.

Washam said she's very proud of the store's design and layout, which she likened to a "race track format" that guides shoppers from one section to another. All of the store's display tables were painted by local artists and there is a local artist's mural on the walls. The interior is meant to evoke the Florida Keys and provide a "good sense of place."

Asked about any food or drink component, Washam explained that her store is located in the same shopping center as a Dunkin' Donuts, and the terms of her lease preclude her from serving food and drink. That said, she would eventually like to open a second Sandbar Books location in Marathon, which is about an hour away, and that store would have coffee as well as beer and wine.

Sandbar Books held its first official author event last Friday, when a second-grade class came in to hear from a local children's author. The store has also started hosting storytime sessions for children, which will take place on Saturday mornings every other weekend. The next storytime is scheduled for Independent Bookstore Day, and Washam will try doing a Facebook Live event for the first time. In June, the store will host its first book launch, for Treasure Tracks, the debut novel from S.A. Rodriguez.

Washam said she's especially excited for the four new book clubs that the store is rolling out. There will be a general book club where members agree on their next read, along with a "Learners Are Earners" book club, focused on small businesses and entrepreneurship. Sandbar Books is also starting a tween book club and a teen book club, and Washam is looking forward to having something to offer local kids. "We're in a vacation area, but you can't be on the water all the time."

Washam reported that the community has been really supportive of her store, and it has rather unexpectedly become the "talk of the town." Every day people come in to say "thank you so much for opening this bookstore, we so needed it." --Alex Mutter

Peachtree: The Littlest Yak: Home Is Where the Herd Is by Lu Fraser, Illustrated by Kate Hindley

Greedy Reads, Baltimore, Md., Launching Book Festival

Next month, Greedy Reads in Baltimore, Md., will host the inaugural Lost Weekend festival. The three-day literary, arts and community festival will run from Friday, May 13, to Sunday, May 15, and will take place in and around the bookstore's Remington location.

Festival highlights include the launch of D. Watkins's new memoir, Black Boy Smile; Hernan Diaz, author of the new novel Trust, in conversation with novelist Barbara Bourland; Grace Lavery, author of Please Miss, in conversation with Rahne Alexander; a journalism panel featuring Brandon Soderberg, Dharna Noor and Lisa Snowden; and the debut of R. Eric Thomas's new YA novel Kings of B'more.

Julia Fleischaker, owner of Greedy Reads, said she's been "blown away by the literary community I found here," since opening her store four years ago. "This weekend is really a celebration of that community. Of course, with Covid-19, in-person literary events mostly disappeared. Part of our mission with the Lost Weekend is to help reignite that spark of excitement that happens when our book loving community is able to gather together.”

Admission to the Lost Weekend is free, with events operating on a first-come, first-served basis. The full schedule can be viewed here.

Northern Vermont University Ends Follett Parnership, Closing Physical Bookstore

Northern Vermont University in Johnson and Lyndon is changing bookstore providers, replacing Follett with eCampus, which will be active in time for the summer 2022 semester for NVU. The physical bookstore on the Johnson campus will be closed. 

Dean of administration Roy Brock said: "I think we were looking for a better solution across both campuses that really gave us the option to help both save money for the students, but to also integrate a better customer service system so that we can address issues and concerns in a faster manner. We had found there were some customer service and just general outreach issues we were having when students would have issues or faculty would have issues when they placed orders for books, and when they would come in, and finally our timelines. We just knew there was probably a better solution out there for us than the one we currently had."

In an e-mail sent to the entire campus, Brock wrote: "With this switch comes news that I know will be disappointing, the closure of the brick and mortar store on the Johnson campus. In its place will be NVU swag cabinets on both campuses where items can be scanned, paid for, and shipped. Additionally, a full-service 24/7 online bookstore will be launched."

International Update: PA Releases Publishing in 2021 Summary; LBF Attendance Numbers Down

"The popularity of books in all formats remained and total publishing income recovered to pre-pandemic levels, reaching its highest ever overall level. This is testament to the enduring appeal of publishing products," according to the Publishers Association's summary Publishing in 2021, which features statistical snapshots of the industry across sectors, formats and markets.

U.K. publisher sales rose 5%, to £6.7 billion (about $8.5 billion), in 2021, a new high for the industry. Sales income rose 7%, to £2.7 billion (about $3.4 billion), with total export sales income gaining 2%, to £3.8 billion (about $4.8 billion).

"2021 was another tremendous year for U.K. publishing," said PA CEO Stephen Lotinga. "Our outstanding authors provided readers with the entertainment and comfort they so badly needed as the pandemic continued. It's been particularly interesting to see TikTok communities driving new interest in books--particularly of fiction and young adult titles.

"While the industry has done well during the pandemic, we have also seen further consolidation of sales on a single digital market platform. Such a lack of competition cannot benefit readers in the long-term and that is why it is more important than ever that the government meets its commitment to bring forward new powers to properly regulate the tech giants in the forthcoming Queen's speech."


The number of exhibitors and visitors at this year's London Book Fair was down an estimated 10,000 compared to typical pre-pandemic attendance, the Bookseller wrote, citing the LBF website, which "states that the in-person event typically welcomes more than 25,000 publishing professionals to London for the week of the fair, suggesting a reduction of 10,000 people this year."

LBF organizers said: "After three challenging years apart, we were delighted to welcome 15,000 members of the global publishing community to Olympia for the in-person return of the London Book Fair. With senior publishers and industry leaders from more than 100 countries visiting the Fair to do business, share experiences and network, it was a joy to see LBF doing what it does best--powering the incredible work of publishing around the world."


A new report from the Association of German Station Booksellers "shows that the consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic continue to negatively impact the railway station book trade, with larger bookshops particularly affected," the European & International Booksellers Federation's Newsflash reported. According to the report, in 2021 the bookshops' turnover was €165 million (about $177 million), €5 million (about $5.3 million) less than in the previous year. In 2019, the sales turnover was €280 million (about $300 million). The association emphasized that the industry can be stabilized only with the help of Deutsche Bahn and publishers. 


Swedish publisher Bonnier "is looking to change the paperback pricing strategy," EIBF's Newsflash reported. "The current system, consisting of pre-printed price groups that determine the recommended price of a title, is outdated and needs to be more flexible, according to Bonnier's sales director. However, the change of the pricing system will go hand in hand with rising prices. Bonnier's announcement has generated some strong reactions across the book trade." 


Cool idea of the day, posted on Instagram from James Herriot country by North Yorkshire bookseller the Stripey Badger in Grassington: "Look! We have an All Creatures Great and Small room, with photographs, souvenirs, books and cards. Together with #Grassington souvenirs you'll find the perfect gift."

Obituary Note: Barbara Plumb

Barbara Plumb

Barbara Plumb, who opened the Amazing Alonzo Bookstore in Duluth, Minn., in 1982 and ran it "with the help of her many friends and family for 40 years," making "many long lasting friendships and appreciated everyone who shopped there," died April 5, the News Tribune reported. She was 78.

In a tribute, columnist Kathleen Murphy described Plumb as "one of our most steadfast silent warriors," noting that the longtime bookseller's "spirit and presence will be sorely missed, but she will remain with us through the store, which the family tells me will continue to operate.

"For those of you who have not yet visited the store, allow me to paint you a picture. The Amazing Alonso is a secondhand bookstore found in an unassuming little building on Superior Street in the Endion neighborhood. You can buy used books for a fraction of the original cover price, with an even greater discount given if you've earned credits through donating your own used books to the store. Its bookcases are tightly packed in that cozy way used bookstores should be, with the odd chair hidden in corners and used-book smell permeating everything. It is gloriously old-school."

The Amazing Alonzo has been in the same Endion neighborhood building since it opened, making it "the oldest continuously operating independent bookstore in the Twin Ports," Murphy noted. "A writer for the Duluth Budgeteer once dubbed the Amazing Alonso 'the Cheers of paperback exchanges,' likening the store and its proprietor to a familiar hometown bar where everyone knows your name. I have to say, I have never heard a more apt descriptor....

"In my mind, the years had not changed Barb. She was the type of person who made anyone who walked into her store feel valued and honored as a person, rather than just a customer. Sometimes, I feel we don't notice these silent warriors often enough. The Amazing Alonso is a great bookstore, but its proprietor is what made it into a community gathering spot, a place where people went to not only find a good book but to visit with a friend and a confidant. A place people felt welcomed. So welcomed that people came from all over the Midwest to visit because they'd heard about the place from a friend and they just had to check it out. Barb was the very definition of a silent community warrior, one who serves others simply by living her life."

G.L.O.W. - Galley Love of the Week
Be the first to have an advance copy!
Seriously HAPPY:
10 life-changing philosophy lessons from Stoicism to Zen to supercharge your mindset
by Ben Aldridge
illus. by Michelle Brackenborough
GLOW: Holler: Seriously HAPPY: 10 Life-Changing Philosophy Lessons from Stoicism to Zen to Supercharge Your Mindset by Ben Aldridge

Mental health matters are unpacked through philosophy and quirky challenges in Ben Aldridge's uplifting first YA title, Seriously HAPPY, which mixes personal stories and synopses of teachings from OG philosophers. Alongside Aristotle and Socrates, Aldridge includes insights from lesser-known great minds like Bao Gu, a female Chinese Taoist physician, and Nigerian philosopher Orunmila, to show readers how to be confident, decisive, and resilient. Aldridge personally "employed Stoicism and other philosophies as key strategies in overcoming severe and debilitating anxiety and panic attacks as a young man," says Holler publisher Debbie Foy, adding that Aldridge's conversational tone makes the subject matter accessible and inviting to a young adult audience. "He is clear that everyone deserves happiness in their lives but what constitutes 'happiness' is different for all of us." --Rachel Werner

(Holler, $12.99 Hardcover, ages 12-up, 9780711297807, 
September 3, 2024)


Shelf vetted, publisher supported


Image of the Day: The VP Visits P&P

On Saturday, April 16, Vice President Kamala Harris and Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff visited Politics & Prose's Connecticut Avenue location and shopped for books. Pictured: P&P COO Carolyn Godavitarne (l.) with Harris and Emhoff.

Gibbs Smith Distributing F. Ferguson Books

Gibbs Smith has begun distributing F. Ferguson titles worldwide and is taking orders for all backlist and future titles. This agreement takes effect May 1.

Founded by Fabian E. Ferguson, F. Ferguson Books specializes in children's books that are "created with more Black lead characters to build aspirations, stir the imagination and inspire our children."

Personnel Changes at Abrams

At Abrams:

Gabby Fisher has been promoted to associate director, publicity.

Natasha Martin has been promoted to associate director, publicity.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Zain E. Asher on Fresh Air

Fresh Air: Zain E. Asher, author of Where the Children Take Us: How One Family Achieved the Unimaginable (Amistad, $27.99, 9780063048836).

Tamron Hall: Karena Dawn, author of The Big Silence: A Daughter's Memoir of Mental Illness and Healing (Flashpoint, $28.95, 9781954854499).

Kelly Clarkson Show: Michelle Zauner, author of Crying in H Mart (Picador, $16.50, 9781529033793).

TV: The Every

Dave Eggers' novel The Every, "a dystopian story about an Amazon-esque company," is set for a TV adaptation with HBO, Deadline reported. The book, which was published last year by McSweeney's, is being adapted as a half-hour comedy series by Veep co-exec producer Rachel Axler, who started her career on The Daily Show and has written for Parks and Recreation, How I Met Your Mother and Dickinson. She will write and exec produce. Eggers and David Miner will also exec produce.

"In this equally terrifying and hilarious cautionary tale, Dave Eggers shows us the increasing cost of the frictionless life that technology enables," said Amy Gravitt, executive v-p, HBO Programming. "As he writes, 'Nothing described herein actually happened, though much of it likely will,' and what better starting point for an HBO comedy script?"

GBH/PBS's Poetry in America Marathon

In celebration of National Poetry Month, the WORLD Channel will feature Season 3 of the public television series Poetry in America in a marathon format nationwide tomorrow, Wednesday, April 27, and Thursday, April 28. All eight episodes of Season 3 and four episodes from Season 2 will run over the two days, 2-5 p.m. Eastern.

The episodes focus on American poems that guests read and discuss with Elisa New, the series creator, host and director, who is the director of the Center for Public Humanities at Arizona State University and the Powell M. Cabot Professor of American Literature at Harvard. Co-executive producer for Poetry in America is Brigid Sullivan. Poetry in America is produced by Verse Video Education of Boston in association with GBH, and presented by GBH to PBS stations nationwide.

New commented: "The poems I've chosen for this season deliver us into so many different moments and worlds. From the antebellum south to the farthest reaches of our galaxy, from the Arizona desert to Robert Frost's green Vermont and the thriving Cuban neighborhoods of Miami--Poetry in America allows viewers to see and hear, absorb the vibes, and connect with a diverse array of American voices."

Books & Authors

Awards: Commonwealth Short Story Shortlists

Commonwealth Writers released the shortlist for the 2022 Commonwealth Short Story Prize. This year's shortlist was chosen by the international judging panel from more than 6,700 entries from 52 Commonwealth countries, and includes, for the first time, stories from St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Papua New Guinea, Gibraltar and Eswatini. Five regional winners will be revealed May 23 and the overall winner named June 21. You can see the complete list of finalists here.

Book Review

Review: Raising Raffi: The First Five Years

Raising Raffi: The First Five Years by Keith Gessen (Viking, $27 hardcover, 256p., 9780593300442, June 7, 2022)

Novelist and critic Keith Gessen (A Terrible Country) would be the first to admit he didn't set out to write a book of parenting advice, but young parents reading the nine frank but warmhearted essays that compose Raising Raffi: The First Five Years will be happy he did, not least for the collection's reassuring message: you are not alone.

Gessen, who's married to the novelist Emily Gould and lives in Brooklyn, began writing these pieces when his son, Raphael, was three years old. He admits he "felt ridiculous about it at times," but ultimately "came to think there was some value in recording my own groping toward knowledge in this most important of human endeavors, a kind of record of a primitive consciousness making its way toward the light." That statement is characteristic of the refreshingly self-deprecating tone of Gessen's writing as he navigates Raffi's early years, beginning with the perils of a home birth his wife deeply desired and he thought was "crazy," and continuing through milestones that include one of the most fraught for many New York City parents--the selection of their child's first school.

One unwelcome event was the arrival of the coronavirus in March 2020. "King Germ" describes the Gessen family's experience during New York City's initial lockdown. When the pandemic struck, finding Gessen on sabbatical and Emily about to release a new novel, they were living in a 900-square-foot apartment, but they later migrated to a large house vacated by friends. Even in his relatively privileged circumstances, "the pressure the lockdown put on our marriage was intense," and he concedes that four-and-a-half-year-old Raffi's efforts on Zoom amounted to little more than "attempted schoolwork." While he acknowledges he someday may appreciate the bright side of those dark months, "right now it just feels like a scar across our lives."

Among the book's most engaging chapters are "Love and Anger," in which Gessen chronicles his struggles to discipline Raffi during the year the boy acted like a "three-year-old terrorist," and "Say It in Russian," where he describes his efforts to teach Raffi his native language. (Gessen was born in Moscow and came to the United States at age six in 1981.) In several of these essays, Gessen consults experts and immerses himself in parenting literature, coming away from these sources as perplexed as when he started. That puzzlement also surfaces in the collection's final essay, "Bear Dad," where he weighs the merits of parenting styles from different cultures and concludes, straightforwardly but optimistically, "Development will occur!"

Anyone who's experienced the joys and challenges of parenting will find themselves savoring Keith Gessen's piquant observations on fatherhood. And if they pick up a useful tip or two from his hard-earned experience, that wouldn't be surprising either. --Harvey Freedenberg, freelance reviewer

Shelf Talker: Keith Gessen shares heartfelt personal stories and lessons learned from his first five years of fatherhood.

The Bestsellers

Top-Selling Self-Published Titles

The bestselling self-published books last week as compiled by

1. Ten Trends to Seduce Your Bestfriend by Penny Reid
2. Only One Forever by Natasha Madison
3. Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert T. Kiyosaki with Sharon L. Lechter
4. The Best Version of You by Josh Coats
5. The Authority Playbook by Dillon Kivo
6. Sweet Obsession by Various
7. The Locked Door by Freida McFadden
8. One Bossy Proposal by Nicole Snow
9. Things We Never Got Over by Lucy Score
10. Those Three Little Words by Meghan Quinn

[Many thanks to!]

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