Shelf Awareness for Thursday, June 9, 2022

Mulholland Books: Big Time by Ben H. Winters

Peachtree Publishers: King & Kayla and the Case of the Downstairs Ghost (King & Kayla) by Dori Hillestad Butler, illustrated by Nancy Meyers

Doubleday Books: The Husbands by Holly Gramazio

Other Press (NY): Deliver Me by Malin Persson Giolito, translated by Rachel Willson-Broyles


Firebrand's Toolan to Retire; IBPA's Bole to Succeed Him

Fran Toolan

Fran Toolan, founder and longtime head of Firebrand Group, is retiring at the end of January 2023, and will be succeeded by Angela Bole, CEO of the Independent Book Publishers Association, who will leave IBPA on November 30 and start her new position at Firebrand February 1, 2023. Toolan will continue on the Firebrand Group board of directors.

Angela Bole

Toolan founded Firebrand as Quality Solutions in 1987. The company now includes Firebrand Technologies, which helps publishers track and manage titles from pre-acquisition through sales; NetGalley, which provides e-galleys and audio titles for reviewers and others; and Supadu, a provider of publisher e-commerce solutions in the U.S. and U.K. In February 2021, Firebrand was acquired by Media Do International (MD-i), the U.S. subsidiary of Japan's Media Do Co., Ltd, one of the largest e-book distribution companies in the world.

Toolan said, "With the support of MD-i, the Firebrand Group is growing and innovating at an unparalleled rate of speed. The opportunities in front of us are very exciting, and I'm equally excited that Angela will be here to guide us going forward."

Bole said, "Firebrand has been powering the publishing industry for over 30 years through quality software solutions and a dedicated and committed staff. Given all we've learned over the past few years, I hope to build upon what's already working to enable even more efficiencies for the companies Firebrand serves. I know this will be a team effort; I couldn't be more excited to join and lead the team."

Daihei Shiohama, CEO of MD-i, added: "Both here and in Japan, we are so excited to have Angela succeed Fran. We are determined to provide utmost support to Firebrand Group with Angela as new CEO. With the annual growth rate of close to 20% in Japan's digital publishing market where NFT, XR, and other diversified elements stimulate the publishing industry, we are convinced that Angela will lead the group to uplift the global publishing industry's expansion."

Bole joined IBPA as executive director in 2013 and was made CEO in 2016. Before that, she was deputy executive director of Book Industry Study Group, where she was also interim executive director. At BISG, she headed research into consumer attitudes toward e-book reading, oversaw initiatives supporting the industry's transition to ISBN-13, and developed best practices and other documentation for use of the ONIX and EPUB standards. She also served as treasurer of the International Digital Publishers Forum from 2011 to 2014.

IBPA has established a CEO Succession Task Force to oversee the search for a new CEO; the official application period for candidates should open July 1.

NYU: NYU Advanced Publishing Institute

Judy Manzo Retiring, Selling Book Ends in Winchester, Mass.

Judy Manzo, the owner of Book Ends in Winchester, Mass., has decided to retire from bookselling and is looking to sell the bookstore, which she has owned since 1992. 

"I feel ready, now, to pass the torch," Manzo wrote in a letter to customers announcing her decision. "To someone (or maybe to working partners) with the kind of energy and enthusiasm I had back in 1992, when I was eager to find meaningful work for myself. Building this community-centered business has been deeply fulfilling and satisfying. I strongly believe there is a whole new generation of meaning and opportunity for a new owner, a chance to build on the foundation that is here, and take Book Ends into an exciting future."

Manzo, who recently won the Winchester Chamber of Commerce Citizen of the Year award, noted that she won't retire right away. She'll continue to be "in and out of the store," and will be ready to "support and guide new ownership, too."

She has asked any interested parties to send a letter of interest via e-mail to Kate Whouley, who is assisting in the search.

Amistad Press: The Survivors of the Clotilda: The Lost Stories of the Last Captives of the American Slave Trade by Hannah Durkin

Rosa Hernandez Named Third Place Books Marketing Manager

Rosa Hernandez

Rosa Hernandez is the new marketing manager for Third Place Books in Lake Forest Park, Ravenna and Seward Park, Wash. For the past two and a half years Hernandez was the bookstore's social media manager; she currently serves on the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association Book Awards Committee as well as the American Booksellers Association Diversity, Equity and Inclusion committee.

"Rosa has done a truly incredible job with our social media," said Robert Sindelar, managing partner at Third Place Books. "She executes a brilliant balancing act of having important and relevant conversations with customers, authors and other industry professionals alike. I am thrilled to see her expand her creative energies in this new role."

As marketing manager, Hernandez will focus on reaching out to local businesses and organizations to "bring the Third Place Books experience to as many book lovers in the city as possible." She'll also work on creating a small team of booksellers to run and further expand the store's social media efforts.

Originally from New Jersey, Hernandez got her start in bookselling at Watchung Booksellers in Montclair, N.J., under the guidance of store owner Margot Sage-EL.

GLOW: Avid Reader Press: The Ministry of Time by Kaliane Bradley

Binc Launches 2022 #ReadLoveSupportBinc Challenge

Beginning June 10, the Book Industry Charitable Foundation, along with participating authors and creators, are celebrating independent bookstores and comic stores and their employees "who have risen to the challenges of the past several years to support their communities, and everyone can join in the fun." The #ReadLoveSupportBinc Challenge campaign's goal is to spread gratitude, awareness, and to support local bookstores and comic shops by raising $100,000 to ensure that every qualified need continues to be met.

"I couldn't be more excited to honor booksellers and bookstores by supporting their safety net--the Binc Foundation." said author Will Schwalbe. "Our bookstores are a national treasure and I'm thrilled to have this chance to join together with fellow authors and readers to let booksellers across the country know how much we appreciate all they do."

Binc executive director Pam French said: "Anyone who has found the perfect read, joined a book group, learned about a new author, or enjoyed a quiet moment in their local comic or bookshop can join the challenge and let them know how much they are loved."

A brief guide to the challenge, links and additional resources for posts are available on Binc's website, with images optimized for use on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Advocates can take a picture of their to-be-read pile, share on their social media, and tag @bincfoundation and #ReadLoveSupportBinc. The campaign can also be supported by making a gift at Binc's donation page.

Soho Crime: Ash Dark as Night (A Harry Ingram Mystery) by Gary Phillips

Rediscovered Books Offers Free Books in Response to Book Ban

At Rediscovered Books

Following the Nampa [Idaho] School District's decision to ban 22 books from its school libraries last month, Rediscovered Books, with stores in Boise and Caldwell, distributed free copies of those titles to students and other members of the community at an event Wednesday evening at Flying M Coffee Garage in Nampa.

Everyone could stop by and take home at least one free book, while Nampa students and teachers were allowed to take three books, provided they showed proof of identification. The Rediscovered Books team told 103.5 Kiss FM that "more than 1,250 books from the banned list were donated in just one week."

Rediscovered Books wrote on Twitter that they "refuse to take events like this lightly or quietly." In addition to the distribution at Flying M Coffee Garage, the bookstore created displays featuring the banned titles and denouncing censorship.

Books on the list included The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini, The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison, The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood, Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell and Looking for Alaska by John Green, among others. The purported reason for the bans was sexual and explicit content.

Obituary Note: Walter Abish

Walter Abish

Walter Abish, a Vienna-born American writer of experimental fiction "whose early life drew a parabola of hasty escapes from hostile forces in Nazi-era Austria and revolutionary China," died May 28, the New York Times reported. He was 90. 

"Though he has published relatively late and little," he "projects a distinctive presence in contemporary letters," John Updike wrote in a review of Abish's memoir, Double Vision: A Self-Portrait, in the New Yorker in 2004. 

Abish was in his early 40s when his first novel, Alphabetical Africa (1974), was published, "striking a provocative and iconoclastic tone. Its first and last chapters use only words beginning with the letter A, and intervening passages perform other linguistic contortions," the Times noted. 

He went on to publish three novels, three collections of short stories, a volume of poems and the memoir, though his "most acclaimed novel was How German Is It (1979), which explored the complex interplay between modern Germany, with its strong postwar economy and ordered society, and its roots in the Nazi era," the Times wrote. The book won a PEN/Faulkner prize for fiction in 1981. A final novel, Eclipse Fever, set mostly in Mexico City, appeared in 1993.

Among his other honors, Abish became a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1998. He was also a fellow of the Guggenheim and MacArthur foundations and of the National Endowment for the Arts. 


Image of the Day: Pages Hosts Polito

Pages Bookshop in Detroit, Mich., hosted Frank Anthony Polito to celebrate the release of his debut LGBT cozy mystery, Renovated to Death: A Partners in Crime Mystery (Kensington), starring a gay couple who solve crimes while renovating houses in suburban Detroit for their reality TV show. Pictured: Kelly Fordon, events manager at Pages Bookshop, and Polito.

Pride Month Display: Parnassus Books

"Happy #Pride y'all!" Parnassus Books, Nashville, Tenn., noted in sharing a photo of the store's floor display. "We have just a small selection of queer books here on our Pride Month display, so be sure to ask our lovely booksellers for more queer recs. And don't miss our limited edition Pride Month Barnabus stickers, available in-store and online!"

Hopkins to Distribute Indiana University Press

Hopkins Fulfillment Services will distribute and handle sales for Indiana University Press, effective November 1.

One of the largest public university presses, IU Press publishes more than 120 titles annually and has a backlist of more than 3,500 titles. Founded in 1950, it specializes in the humanities and social sciences, emphasizing scholarship but also publishing text, trade, and reference titles. Its major subject areas include African, Jewish and Holocaust, Middle East, Russian and East European, gender and sexuality, film and media, folklore and ethnomusicology, Indiana and the Midwest, Irish, music, paleontology, and philosophy.

IU Press associate director Dave Hulsey said, "John Hopkins University Press has been a longtime publishing friend of IU Press and we look forward to working with them on the distribution and sales of our books and products. As a publisher of both scholarly and trade books, we feel Hopkins offers us the expertise needed to reach the readers of our books and also offers support to the retailers/wholesalers to help them be successful."

Johns Hopkins University Press's executive director Barbara Kline Pope said about IUP, "We've enjoyed working with them as an Allbooks title database client, at Project MUSE, and as their journals fulfillment partner. Adding HFS to the mix means that they are taking full advantage of all of the publishing services options that we offer."

Reading Group Choices' Most Popular May Books

The two most popular books in May at Reading Group Choices were The Book Woman's Daughter by Kim Michele Richardson (Sourcebooks Landmark) and Birds of California by Katie Cotugno (Harper Perennial).

Personnel Changes at Tom Doherty Associates; Little Bee Books; Abrams

Emily Mlynek has joined the Tom Doherty Associates as director of marketing, TDA. She was formerly assistant director of marketing at G.P. Putnam's Sons. Earlier she worked in brand marketing at Random House Children's Books.


Alexis Lunsford has joined Little Bee Books as director of sales. She has 15 years of sales experience and has previously worked in the sales departments at HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster, Penguin, and Scholastic. She most recently oversaw the trade sales team selling to all accounts except for Amazon at Callisto.


At Abrams:

Anneliese "Anna" Merz has joined the company as associate publicist, Abrams Children's Books. She was formerly publicity assistant at Macmillan and before that held internships at Bloomsbury, Penguin Young Readers, and St. Martin's Press.

Jenna Lisanti has returned to the company as senior marketing manager, Children's Books. She has worked with Abrams as a children's marketing consultant since March 2021. Prior to that she was at Random House Children's Books, where she was senior marketing manager, and at HarperCollins Children's Books.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Bob Goff on Good Morning America

Good Morning America: Bob Goff, author of Undistracted: Capture Your Purpose. Rediscover Your Joy (Thomas Nelson, $26.99, 9781400226979).

The View: Jenny Mollen, author of City of Likes (NacelleBooks, $27.50, 9781737380115).

This Weekend on Book TV: The Gaithersburg Book Festival

Book TV airs on C-Span 2 this weekend from 8 a.m. Saturday to 8 a.m. Monday and focuses on political and historical books as well as the book industry. The following are highlights for this coming weekend. For more information, go to Book TV's website.

Sunday, June 12
8 a.m. Dick Armey, author of Leader (Outskirts Press, $42.95, 9781977245052). (Re-airs Sunday at 8 p.m.)

9 a.m. Reece Jones, author of White Borders: The History of Race and Immigration in the United States from Chinese Exclusion to the Border Wall (‎Beacon Press, $25.95, 9780807054062). (Re-airs Sunday at 9 p.m.)

10 a.m. Kellyanne Conway, author of Here's the Deal: A Memoir (Threshold Editions, $30, 9781982187347). (Re-airs Sunday at 10 p.m.)

2 p.m. to 7 p.m. Coverage of the Gaithersburg Book Festival in Gaithersburg, Md., which occurred on May 21. Highlights include:

  • 2 p.m. Michael Dobbs, author of King Richard: Nixon and Watergate--An American Tragedy (Knopf, $32.50, 9780385350099).
  • 2:47 p.m. Ira Shapiro, author of The Betrayal: How Mitch McConnell and the Senate Republicans Abandoned America (Rowman & Littlefield, $29.95, 9781538163979).
  • 3:34 p.m. Joshua Prager, author of The Family Roe: An American Story (Norton, $35, 9780393247718).
  • 4:19 p.m. Fiona Hill, author of There Is Nothing For You Here: Finding Opportunity in the Twenty-First Century (Mariner, $30, 9780358574316), and Rep. Adam Schiff, author of Midnight in Washington: How We Almost Lost Our Democracy and Still Could (Random House, $30, 9780593231524).
  • 5:13 p.m. Kristin Henning, author of The Rage of Innocence: How America Criminalizes Black Youth (‎Pantheon, $30, 9781524748906).
  • 6 p.m. M. Chris Fabricant, author of Junk Science and the American Criminal Justice System (Akashic Books, $29.95, 9781636140308).

Books & Authors

Awards: Reading the West Winners

The winners of the 32nd annual Reading the West Book Awards (see the awards presentation here), sponsored by the Mountains & Plains Independent Booksellers Association, are:

Fiction: Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr (Scribner)
Debut fiction: Damnation Spring by Ash Davidson (Scribner)
Poetry: Desert Apocrypha by Zach Lively (Casa Urraca Press)
Nonfiction: On Juneteenth by Annette Gordon-Reed (Liveright)
Memoir/Biography: Poet Warrior by Joy Harjo (Norton)
Eating the West: Earth Medicines by Felicia Cocotzin Ruiz (Roost Books)
Picture Book: Watercress by Andrea Wang, illustrated by Jason Chin (Neal Porter Books)
Young Readers: Ancestor Approved edited by Cynthia Leitich Smith (Heartdrum)
Young Adult: A Snake Falls to Earth by Darcie Little Badger (Levine Querido)

IndieBound: Other Indie Favorites

From last week's Indie bestseller lists, available at, here are the recommended titles, which are also Indie Next Great Reads:

Notes on Your Sudden Disappearance: A Novel by Alison Espach (Holt, $26.99, 9781250823144). "An insightful, moving, funny, and deeply relatable novel. Alison Espach masterfully brings to life a coming-of-age story in the midst of a terrible and sudden tragedy. This novel will stick with you and make you want to share it." --Keith Vient, Politics and Prose Bookstore, Washington, D.C.

Metropolis: A Novel by B.A. Shapiro (Algonquin, $27.95, 9781616209582). "Metropolis is a riveting read by a remarkable storyteller. Shapiro's cast of characters will keep you guessing. A tribute to old Boston and how people live--in wealth or poverty--and remain human and connected to one another. Well done!" --Annie Philbrick, Bank Square Books, Mystic, Conn.

Falling: A Novel by T.J. Newman (Avid Reader Press/Simon & Schuster, $17.99, 9781982177898). "Falling is an absolute masterclass in unique suspense fiction. From the first few lines, I could tell this was going to be a stunner, and boy, was I right. I'll be anxiously waiting for Newman to release her next novel!" --Shelby Roth, Naughty Dog Books, Nashville, Ind.

For Ages 4 to 8
A Mouthful of Minnows by John Hare (Greenwillow, $17.99, 9780063093225). "With sacrifice and heroism reinforced by adventure and storytelling, A Mouthful of Minnows develops Alfonso the turtle much like a child. An exciting story with great illustrations showing that the cream still rises to the top." --Robin Gross, Books on the Square, Providence, R.I.

For Ages 10 to 14
The Problem with Prophecies (The Celia Cleary Series #1) by Scott Reintgen (Aladdin, $17.99, 9781665903578). "This story is so fun and charming! I love Celia--she's spirited, stubborn, compassionate, and so easy to root for. The action is gripping, and the plot is exciting. I had tons of fun reading this, and I'm looking forward to the next book!" --Jenny Ancik, Best of Books, Edmond, Okla.

For Teen Readers
Sofi and the Bone Song by Adrienne Tooley (Margaret K. McElderry Books, $18.99, 9781534484368). "A musical fantasy, a magical mystery, a lyrical love story--Sofi and the Bone Song is a gorgeous, wintry novel that does it all. Readers who love soft, sweet coming-of-age stories with clever fantasy worldbuilding will find a home here." --Kiersten Frost, Brookline Booksmith, Brookline, Mass.

[Many thanks to IndieBound and the ABA!]

Book Review

Review: Stories from the Tenants Downstairs

Stories from the Tenants Downstairs by Sidik Fofana (Scribner, $26 hardcover, 224p., 9781982145811, August 16, 2022)

Stories from the Tenants Downstairs, Sidik Fofana's electric debut, consists of eight stories featuring eight residents of a low-income apartment building in Harlem where rents are rising and eviction notices are being posted by the score. These men and women struggle at the edge of making ends meet and cope by various means, including hard work, stiff upper lips, bluffing, bluster and despair.

Mimi runs a hair salon out of apartment 14D, spends beyond her means and dreams of a house in the suburbs with her son's father, Swan. Swan (6B) lives eight floors below, with his mother, marveling at the country's first Black president and wishing he could find his own way out of the hustle. Swan's mother, Ms. Dallas (6B), wrestles with her day job as a paraprofessional at the local public school, bemoaning the students' behavior, scorning the young do-gooder teachers and awaiting the school's looming closure. Two students from Ms. Dallas's school each feature in stories of their own. Kandese (3A) suffers losses upon losses, while her boyfriend, perennial follower Najee (24M), dreams of stardom but finds tragedy. Mimi's erstwhile assistant, Dary (12H), flirts with a darker line of work. Neisha (21J), a former aspiring Olympic gymnast, has quit college and returned home to the building, where she has to face a trauma that still haunts her. Old Mr. Murray (2E) just wants to play sidewalk chess in peace, but the old ladies of the Banneker Terrace Committee of Concern want to make him their cause.

These protagonists are all interconnected, whether they like it or not, by more than their address. Many have been lifelong residents of Banneker Terrace, and while some have fantasized about moving on, others wish only to stay in the home they know. Their stories take various points of view (first, second and third), mostly running to heavy vernacular and each brimming with voice, from Mimi's bravado to Najee's fumbled but earnest reporting: the seats on the 2 train are "faded... the scrapes on them wuz also scrapes on my heart." Fofana shows an ear for pacing and for evocative, frequently musical language. He expertly handles the structure of each story and of the collection as a whole, whose easy readability advances serious themes, including the challenges of poverty in its many iterations, gentrification, humor and hope and anguish.

This quickly shifting narrative introduces vibrant, appealing characters in brief but three-dimensional sketches, and paints a larger picture of existential efforts and persistence. Fofana's is a striking voice, and his protagonists will linger in readers' imaginations. --Julia Kastner, librarian and blogger at pagesofjulia

Shelf Talker: This linked collection portrays the human condition by way of the struggle to make rent in a Harlem high-rise, with a cast of memorable characters.

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