Shelf Awareness for Tuesday, July 12, 2022

Simon & Schuster: Fall Cooking With Simon Element

Tor Nightfire: Devils Kill Devils by Johnny Compton

Shadow Mountain: Highcliffe House (Proper Romance Regency) by Megan Walker

Simon & Schuster: Register for the Simon & Schuster Fall Preview!

Avid Reader Press / Simon & Schuster: The Ministry of Time Kaliane Bradley


AAP: April Sales Drop 12.6%, Trade Off 8.9%

Total net book sales in April in the U.S. fell 12.6%, to $788.3 million, compared to April 2021, representing sales of 1,367 publishers and distributed clients as reported to the Association of American Publishers. (Figures do not include pre-K-12, because of delays in data collection.) For the first third of the year, total net book sales were down 2.3%, to $3.78 billion.

Total trade book sales fell 12.6%, to $788.3 million. Trade hardcover sales fell 16.8%, to $232.4 million, paperbacks slipped 2.8%, to $251.9 million, mass market dropped 22%, to $14.1 million. Total e-book sales dropped 8.3%, to $84.3 million. Printed books accounted for 74.7% of all trade sales.

Only three categories had sales gains in the month, including downloadable audio, which usually has strong sales gains; religious mass market, whose sales were only $200,000; and children's special bindings, mainly board books.

Sales by category in April 2022 compared to April 2021:

BINC: Do Good All Year - Click to Donate!

Búho Pop-up Looking for Permanent Home in Brownsville, Tex.

Gilbert Hernandez at a recent Búho pop-up.

Following its debut as a pop-up bookstore this spring, Búho in Brownsville, Tex., is looking for a permanent home in which to open a new bookstore and cafe, Valley Central reported.

Owner Gilbert Hernandez launched Búho after realizing that Brownsville was one of the largest metropolitan areas in the U.S. without a general bookstore. The shop made its debut in March with an appearance at the Amigoland Convention Center's pop-up event, where Hernandez sold mainly children's books, thrillers, romance novels and business and self-help titles.

Hernandez plans to continue doing pop-up appearances while searching for a space, ideally in downtown Brownsville or in the Mitte Cultural District. Currently Búho sells used titles, but as the bookstore becomes more established Hernandez intends to become a new book vendor as well.

In a post on the store's website, Hernandez noted that he's heard plenty of excuses about why Brownsville can't sustain an indie bookstore, including that its residents are too uneducated, too poor and don't care about literature.

"To all that cynicism, I call bullsh-t," Hernandez wrote. "My time here after college has taught me that Brownsville has plenty of people who read like hell, read casually, and we’ve got lots of kids who do so, too. Not to mention that many of our neighbors are interested in picking up the reading habit if given the right book, author, or genre."

He told Valley Central that the Brownsville community has shown a lot of support for the store. "They are all rooting for this. They want to see this happen as much as I want to see it happen. So, it’s on me to make sure this happens for the city of Brownsville.”

Graphic Universe (Tm): Hotelitor: Luxury-Class Defense and Hospitality Unit by Josh Hicks

Detroit's 27th Letter Books Meets Fundraising Goal After Cyberscam

27th Letter Books, Detroit, Mich., which launched a GoFundMe campaign last month due to the effects of a recent cyber scam, has met its fundraising goal. WXYZ reported that "more than $35,000 was raised by community members, eager to save the store. Much of the generosity coming in small increments of $10 or $15.... What they received, blew them away."

"We were super thankful we reached that goal after 10 days, which was just so incredible," said co-owner Erin Pineda. "We had someone I remember come in the store and they were like I just started a new job and I don't have a ton of extra income to donate but can you share a flier and I'm going to put it up at a couple different community spots for you."

Detroit Police are currently investigating the case, and despite insurance, the store is liable for the scam, which involved books ordered with fraudulent credit cards. Still, the outpouring of support means the store will be able to keep its doors open. Pineda offered some advice for other small business owners: "Don't be afraid to ask for help and reach out to your communities. I don't think we could have been able to get through this without all of that support."

GLOW: Workman Publishing: Atlas Obscura: Wild Life: An Explorer's Guide to the World's Living Wonders by Cara Giaimo, Joshua Foer, and Atlas Obscura

Obituary Note: Marcia Willett

British author Marcia Willett, best known for her books set in the West Country, died on June 30. She was 76. The Bookseller reported that Willett was 50 years old when she launched her career as a novelist, "having previously worked as a ballet dancer and teacher. She published 31 novels under her own name and four under the pseudonym Willa Marsh. Her final short novel, Christmas at the Keep, delivered when she was already ill with cancer, will be published posthumously in October of this year."

Willett's books include the Chadwick Family Chronicles series, as well as A Week in Winter; Seven Days in Summer; Homecomings; Reflections; Facing the Music; Sisters Under the Skin; The Garden House; Memories of the Storm; Postcards from the Past; Indian Summer; Summer on the River; and The Songbird.

Her editor at Transworld, Francesca Best, said: "Not only was Marcia Willett a perceptive and intelligent writer, she was also a warm, kind and generous woman who always had a twinkle in her eye and we will miss her greatly. We are very proud to have published her wonderful writing over so many years and are grateful that she shared her talents with us. Our thoughts are with her family, and with her many friends and loyal readers around the world." 

Dinah Wiener, her literary agent, added: "Marcia was my best friend as well as a very special novelist and I am honoured to have represented her for over 30 years." 

In an obituary released by Transworld, the publisher noted: "Marcia was born in Somerset but spent many of her years as an author living in a beautiful and wild corner of Devon, a part of the world that inspired the settings of many of her books. She had devoted readers all over the world, and her books have been published in 16 countries. Many of her readers have traveled to the U.K. to visit the settings of her books in the West Country."

Harpervia: Only Big Bumbum Matters Tomorrow by Damilare Kuku


Personnel Changes at Legacy Lit/Grand Central

Tara Kennedy has joined Grand Central as publicity director of the Legacy Lit imprint. She was previously publicity director at Bloomsbury.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Rafael Agustin on Fresh Air

Fresh Air: Rafael Agustin, author of Illegally Yours: A Memoir (Grand Central, $29, 9781538705940).

CBS Mornings: Eve Rodsky, author of Find Your Unicorn Space: Reclaim Your Creative Life in a Too-Busy World (Putnam, $27, 9780593328019).

Drew Barrymore Show repeat: Jennifer Grey, author of Out of the Corner: A Memoir (Ballantine, $30, 9780593356708).

Tamron Hall repeat: Ginger Zee, author of A Little Closer to Home: How I Found the Calm After the Storm (Hyperion Avenue, $26, 9781368042000).

TV: Professor Goose Debunks Fairy Tales

Wildling Pictures (Mary Goes Round, David Bowie biopic Stardust), an independent production company in Toronto, "is moving into the kids programing space and has set a loose adaptation of book series Professor Goose Debunks Fairy Tales as its first project," Deadline reported.

The book series by Paulette Bourgeois, illustrated by Alex G. Griffiths, will be adapted by Jocelyn Geddie (Pinecone & Pony). Matt Code (Random Acts of Violence), Natalie Urquhart (Suits) and Julie Strifler (Easy Land) are executive producing and Urquhart will be presenting to networks at the upcoming Kidscreen Summit in Miami.

"As Wildling continues to grow, Professor Goose marks the initial step as we expand into television with such an exciting property," said Code.

Books & Authors

Awards: Ned Kelly Shortlists

Shortlists in the four categories of the 2022 Ned Kelly Awards have been announced and can be seen here, Books + Publishing reported. Sponsored by the Australian Crime Writers Association, the awards honor published works in the crime fiction and true crime writing in the categories of best crime fiction, debut crime fiction, true crime and international crime fiction. Winners will be named in August.

ACWA noted that in 2022, "it was particularly pleasing to see authors breaking away from some of the more common crime tropes, with a large variety of characters, settings and social diversity in this year's entries." 

Book Review

Review: Magnolia: Poems

Magnolia: Poems by Nina Mingya Powles (Tin House Books, $16.95 paperback, 104p., 9781953534217, August 16, 2022)

Magnolia, the lush first poetry collection of 39 pieces by essayist Nina Mingya Powles (Small Bodies of Water), crosses cultures and languages, searching for a home amidst a riot of colorful flora.

"Mulan" translates as magnolia, and Disney's take on the Chinese legend of Mulan, as well as the magnolia tree and its hue, are recurring references. For the mixed-race Powles, the film was an introduction to Asian representation: "The first movie I watched with a Chinese character in it was Mulan./ To help me practise, we watched it in Chinese but I understood none of the words."

Growing up, Powles felt she couldn't match Mulan's ideal of beauty, "a Disney princess.../ with straight hair/ thin waist/ hardly any breasts/ unlike me with my thick legs/ and too much hair that doesn't stay." A feeling of being neither one thing nor another--captured by the "almost" refrain in "City of forbidden shrines"--was compounded by the discomfort of being exoticized: "once a guy told me mixed girls are the most beautiful/ because they aren't really white/ but they aren't really Asian either."

Food and travel are enticing elements. "Breakfast in Shanghai" contains mouth-watering, alliterative descriptions: "Layers of silken tofu float in the shape of a lotus slowly opening under swirls of soy sauce." The city's impressions on 20th-century writers reveal its other angles: "Letter from Shanghai, 1938" incorporates lines from New Zealand poet Robin Hyde's travel memoir, while "Falling city" starts at novelist Eileen Chang's apartment and proceeds to examine her themes and characters.

Powles experiments with formats here: questions and answers in "Origin myths"; captions listing the colors in unseen photographs in "Two portraits of home"; and a fill-in-the-blanks exercise in "Conversational Chinese." Prose paragraphs alternate with stanzas. The visual vocabulary is sumptuous: "Maggie Cheung's blue cheongsam is patterned with pink peonies. Dark magenta, dark magnolia, a colour that is edible."

Chinese characters bridge the familiar and the tantalizing unknown. The struggle to express oneself in other languages is a thread running through the book, especially in "Mother tongue" and "Mixed girl's Hakka phrasebook." To the complicated question of where one belongs, flowers and colors sometimes provide a miraculous answer, as when the poet finds a kōwhai tree--a reminder of New Zealand, where she's from--in her new surroundings in London. "For a moment I do not breathe air, I breathe yellow, I breathe myself home." --Rebecca Foster, freelance reviewer, proofreader and blogger at Bookish Beck

Shelf Talker: The 39 poems in Nina Mingya Powles's sumptuous debut collection linger on food and colors as they reflect on the challenges of living between languages, cultures and races.

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