Shelf Awareness for Friday, September 16, 2022


Bloom Books: Queen of Myth and Monsters (Adrian X Isolde #2) by Scarlett St. Clair

Bloom Books: Queen of Myth and Monsters (Adrian X Isolde #2) by Scarlett St. Clair

Blue Box Press: A Light in the Flame: A Flesh and Fire Novel by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Irh Press: The Unknown Stigma Trilogy by Ryuho Okawa

Other Press (NY): The Rebel and the Thief by Jan-Philipp Sendker, translated by Imogen Taylor

Holiday House: Welcome to Feral (Frights from Feral) by Mark Fearing

Charlesbridge Publishing: Too-Small Tyson (Storytelling Math) by Janay Brown-Wood, illustrated by Anastasia Williams

Berkley Books: Stone Cold Fox by Rachel Koller Croft

Quotation of the Day

'Let's Be Motivated by a Love of Books and What They Can Represent'

"I think telling our story is so important, as is building coalitions. Of course, be in regular touch with lawmakers about the impact that Amazon and lax antitrust enforcement has on your business. But I think my biggest hope is that bookstores can be a shining example of the right way to do things, in contrast to Amazon's wrongs. Let's be motivated by a love of books and what they can represent. Let's work to make sure our workers earn a living wage. That their jobs are safe and comfortable. That our workers have an empowered voice in their company as a whole. That we're building communities, not tearing them down like Amazon does."

--Danny Caine, owner of the Raven Book Store, Lawrence, Kan., and author of How to Resist Amazon and Why, in a q&a with Bookselling This Week

Minotaur Books: A World of Curiosities (Chief Inspector Gamache Novel #18) by Louise Penny


News

Bookstore Sales Slip 3.3% in July; Year to Date Up 10.3%

In July, bookstore sales fell 3.3%, to $646 million, compared to July 2021, according to preliminary Census Bureau estimates. By comparison to pre-pandemic times, bookstore sales in July were 11.4% higher than in July 2019. For the first seven months of the year, sales have risen 10.3%, to $4.5 billion compared to the first seven months of 2021.

Total retail sales in July rose 8.5%, to $690.6 million, compared to July 2021. For the year to date, total retail sales have climbed 10.2%, to $4.6 billion.

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."


GLOW: Sourcebooks Landmark: Clytemnestra by Costanza Casati


The Dancing Elephant Opens in Lake Worth Beach, Fla.

The Dancing Elephant, which sells new and used books, opened recently in Lake Worth Beach, Fla., the Palm Beach Post reported. The 1,500-square-foot space at 801 Lake Ave. was previously inhabited by the Book Cellar, which closed in March 2020.

"People are thrilled. Some days it's completely packed in here," said owner Shane Logan, adding that the store generated $25,000 in sales in less than a month from books and other merchandise like crystals, tarot cards and candles. "We've completely blown past what we thought we'd be doing. People come in here and say, 'Oh my God, I hope you'll make it.' I tell them, 'We'll be fine.' " Logan's partners in the business are girlfriend Ava Zywczyk and brother Conor.

The birth of the Dancing Elephant also resulted from the closing of Rainbow Bridge, a New Age bookstore that operated for decades in nearby West Palm Beach. The Post noted that Logan "was a longtime customer of Rainbow Bridge and became close to its owner, Tamas Burger. When the Palm Coast Plaza, the bookstore's home for a quarter-century, was sold this year, forcing Burger to move, he approached Logan."

"I thought it had a lot of opportunity, but maybe in a better location with new energy brought into it," said Logan, who purchased the other store's inventory, including thousands of books, many of them leaning toward the subjects of mysticism, the occult and spirituality. Although these account for much of the Dancing Elephant's stock, there are smaller sections on a variety of topics, and more than 90% of the books are new.

He added that his fascination with books and reading began as a child: "We were the family that, after dinner, it wasn't the park or the pool or watching TV. It was going to the bookstore. Reading was mandatory. Reading wasn't an option. Reading was a passion. Everybody read."


Barefoot Books: Save 10%


Voice of the Heartland: Left Bank Books' Kris Kleindienst

Kris Kleindienst

The boards of the Great Lakes Independent Booksellers Association and the Midwest Independent Booksellers Association are presenting Kris Kleindienst, owner of Left Bank Books in St. Louis, Mo., with the 2022 Voice of the Heartland award, given in recognition of individuals and organizations who "uphold the value of independent bookselling and have made a significant contribution to bookselling in the Midwest." The award will be presented to Kleindienst during Heartland Fall Forum in St. Louis on October 12.

The boards said, "For decades Kris has been a leader and advocate for the bookselling community. She has served on regional and national bookselling boards and has been a mentor to future generations of booksellers. Kris is a champion of her local community while being a progressive voice of the underrepresented and historically marginalized communities."

Emily Hall Schroen of Main Street Books, St. Charles, Mo., said in part, "Kris is incredibly deserving of the Voice of the Heartland award. Left Bank Books has been a pillar of St. Louis and the Midwest for over half a century, and Kris is its passionate and forward-thinking leader. She has always been kind and encouraging to me, especially when I was a brand-new bookstore owner nearly a decade ago. She is the reason I am a member of the MIBA board and I aspire to emulate her as a boss, a bookseller, and a business owner. Kris is generous with her time and knowledge and is truly invested in the future of bookselling. She has carried her store through recessions, pandemics, floods, and protests, keeping her neighborhood and her city awash in books all the while."

Johanna Hynes, field sales manager for IPS, PGW, Two Rivers, Ingram Academic, said in part, "Long steered by Kris's activist roots and passionate voice, Left Bank is a vibrant cultural center for St. Louis, and one of the best damn bookstores in the country. With an art section rivaling most museum shops these days, an impressive poetry section, and an entire wall filled with bookseller recommendations, Kris has guided Left Bank to a place of prominence in American arts & letters. Hers was the first store I knew of to create a Black Lives Matter window and reading list, and through the years, I have relied on Kris's voice as one that of vision and insight. Personally, a sales appointment with Kris is equal parts sitting at the foot of a guru and visiting with a friend. She is so invested in her customers and knows her community so well that when she says 'I'll stack it' or 'I have to skip it' I know that this is an informed position.... Hers is a singular, sparkling voice that has helped shape bookselling in this region. We are lucky to count her as our own."

And Shane P. Mullen, event coordinator at Left Bank Books, said, "In the past year plus, Kris has been such an influence on the bookselling community. She has managed to keep our bookstore open through the pandemic, overcoming catastrophic flooding to the store, and recovering from personal health issues. While serving on the board of American Booksellers Association, Kris was a voice for progressive bookstores while fighting book banning in our local community and across the U.S. Our mission has always been about championing underrepresented voices. Kris has encouraged that mission throughout the bookselling community. In Kris's long career as a bookseller, she has helped shape the industry for other independent bookstores fighting for a place in the world."


Ginger Fox: Free Freight and a Free Book Lovers Mug


Powell's Books Outpost Still Going Strong in Condon, Ore. (Pop. 760)

"Against all odds," Condon, Ore.--population 760--is home to a little-known outpost of Powell's Books, the Oregonian noted in its profile of Powell's Books at Condon Local, a retail store that features a coffee shop, soda fountain and, in the back, a small bookshop.

Michael Powell, founder of the Portland bookstore, launched the Condon outlet in 1993. "People do a double take, and then they come back and say, 'Is it true? Is it real?' " he said. "Yep. That's us."

For 34 years, the business, owned by Darla Seale, was known as Country Flowers. "The idea of being in Condon appealed to me," Powell added, "but mainly it was Darla's personality that made it happen."

Her floral business gradually expanded to "sell an assortment of knickknacks, kitchenware, clothing and greeting cards. Seale also added a soda fountain and deli counter. Hers was the first cafe in the county to get an espresso machine," the Oregonian noted. 

Powell discovered the store around that time after purchasing vacation property in the neighboring community of Spray and becoming one of Seale's regular customers. Then the idea of a Powell's Books outlet came up.

"It just seemed like a good idea at the time," Powell recalled. "I got to know Darla. It didn't take her very long to say, 'How would you feel about putting some kind of a book presence here?' " In the early years, Powell's sent someone to restock the books. Later, Seale would bring a vanload back herself when she visited Portland.

Both businesses have changed. Powell retired and his daughter, Emily Powell, is now owner and president of the company. Earlier this year, Seale sold Country Flowers to Jeremy Kirby, who had managed the business for more than two years before purchasing it in April and renaming it the Condon Local. The Powell's Books outlet remains a big draw, and he plans to move the books to a more prominent location at the front of the store.

"When people find it, they're usually pleasantly surprised," Kirby said. "They spend a bunch of time going through books. They get coffee and food and make a day out of it. And usually, they fall in love with Condon."


Pattis Family Foundation Global Cities Book Award Created

The Chicago Council on Global Affairs and the Pattis Family Foundation have created the Pattis Family Foundation Global Cities Book Award, which will celebrate "the role cities play in addressing critical global challenges."

The first award will be presented in June 2023 with a prize of $25,000. The winning book will "deepen our understanding of issues affecting urban areas, carry substantial policy implications, and aim to improve our collective knowledge of actors, communities, and institutions that significantly shape global cities," organizers said. Books must be an original work of nonfiction, explore the dynamics and influence of global cities, and be accessible for the educated reader, as well as applicable to policymakers and academics.

Ivo Daalder, president of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, said, "As the world continues to rapidly urbanize, it's crucial that policymakers consider cities as central actors that shape world affairs. With this new award, we aim to bring cities, our centers of innovation, culture, and commerce, to the forefront of discussions on international policymaking."

Mark R. Pattis commented, "Elevating exemplary books about urban policies in a global context spotlights key insights pertaining to the complex challenges facing the world today."

Lisa Pattis added, "For our second in a series of book awards [after the Pattis Family Foundation Chicago Book Award], the Pattis Family Foundation is delighted to partner with the Chicago Council on Global Affairs and its Center on Global Cities. We believe the Council is uniquely positioned to expand our awareness of the incredible influence that cities bring to the world stage."

The Council will be accepting submissions until December 31. More information about the award can be found here.


Notes

Image of the Day: Murder in Westminster

Authors (l.-r.) Denny S. Bryce, Carmen Tanner Slaughter and Vanessa Riley visited FoxTale Book Shoppe in Woodstock, Ga., for an event on September 12. Riley discussed Murder in Westminster (Kensington), the first book in the Lady Worthing Mysteries series, with Bryce (In the Face of the Sun; Kensington), and Slaughter served as moderator.


Happy 30th Birthday, Books on the Square!

Congratulations to Books on the Square, Providence, R.I., which is celebrating its 30th anniversary tomorrow, September 17, 10 a.m.-8 p.m., with a day of special discounts, raffles, giveaways, blind date with a book, games, and treats for kids and grownups alike.

Books on the Square offers a casual, dog-friendly setting with personal service and numerous events, and values community and education. Jennifer Kandarian, store manager for 18 years, and the staff have kept the store thriving through changing times in the book industry.

"We've made so many friends over the years--customers, authors and publishers--and every one of these people has influenced the bookstore in their own special way," Kandarian said. "Books on the Square is a special and unique place because everything about the store has been influenced by our community. As an independent bookstore, we have the ability to grow and change along with the wants and needs of our neighborhood. We have a curated selection and have become a go-to spot for things a little out of the ordinary as well as the latest releases. Books on the Square is proud and humble that our amazing community has made it possible to continue doing what we love."

In 2007, Merc and Rod Clifton bought the store, which had been started by Sarah Zacks in 1992.


B&T Publisher Services Distributing Brain Tree Games

Baker & Taylor Publisher Services is providing full-service sales and distribution for Brain Tree Games in the U.S.

Brain Tree Games is a leading jigsaw puzzle manufacturer that specializes in 500- and 1000-piece premium puzzles for adults and children, aiming for high quality at affordable prices. The company has more than 80 puzzles, including themed puzzles about America, family, Christmas, animals, famous places, pop culture, and landscapes. It features droplet technology and can include extras like zipper bags, sorting trays, and box stands.


Personnel Changes at Grove Atlantic; University of Pittsburgh Press

Natalie Church has been promoted to director of marketing at Grove Atlantic.

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Kelly Thomas has been promoted to advertising and social media manager at the University of Pittsburgh Press.



Media and Movies

Media Heat: Cynt Marshall on Weekend Spotlight, After Words

Tomorrow:
PBS's Weekend Spotlight: Cynt Marshall, author of You've Been Chosen: Thriving Through the Unexpected (Ballantine, $28, 9780593359419). She will also be on C-SPAN's After Words.


TV: Straight Man

Diedrich Bader (American Housewife), Sara Amini (Future Man), Cedric Yarbrough (Carol's Second Act) and Suzanne Cryer (Silicon Valley) will be series regulars opposite Bob Odenkirk, Mireille Enos and Olivia Scott Welch in Straight Man, AMC's series adaptation of Richard Russo's novel, Deadline reported. 

Former The Killing writer-producer Aaron Zelman and The Office alum Paul Lieberstein adapted Straight Man and are co-showrunners. The project is being exec produced by Zelman and Lieberstein with Odenkirk, Peter Farrelly (who directs), Russo, Naomi Odenkirk and Marc Provissiero. Sony Pictures' Television TriStar TV and Mark Johnson's Gran Via are producing.


Books & Authors

National Book Awards Longlists

The National Book Foundation has been releasing longlists this week for the 2022 National Book Awards, including Young People's Literature, Translated Literature, Poetry and Nonfiction category contenders, with the Fiction longlist to be announced today. Finalists in all categories will be revealed October 4 and winners named live at the NBA Ceremony on November 16. 


Awards: Klaus Flugge Winner

Joseph Namara Hollis won the £5,000 (about $5,965) Klaus Flugge Prize, which recognizes "most exciting and promising newcomer to children's picture book illustration," for Pierre's New Hair. 

Judge Emily Gravett said: "Pierre's New Hair is like a breath of fresh air. It made me laugh out loud. What impressed me was the way that Joseph was able to conjure up a whole world for his characters to inhabit. It was our winner because we loved how every aspect of the book fitted together perfectly to make this a quirky fun book to read."

Hollis added: "Winning the Klaus Flugge Prize is invigorating.... To know my work has touched the judges is fulfilling, it has reinforced my belief--keep doing what you love most." 

Chair of the judges Julia Eccleshare commented: "Once again, this year's shortlist was very strong and we will follow the careers of all the shortlisted illustrators with huge interest. Congratulations to Joseph for Pierre's New Hair which is original and a joy to look at. While very funny, it also slips in a message about valuing what's really important--friends, joy, art."


Reading with… Joe Trohman

photo: Elliot Ingham

Joe Trohman was born in Hollywood, Fla., and grew up in Ohio before moving to the suburbs of Chicago. He is the cofounder and lead guitarist of the two-time Grammy-nominated, multiplatinum band Fall Out Boy. Outside of his career in music, Trohman writes for television and is currently developing an animated series with Brian Posehn. None of This Rocks (Hachette, September 13, 2022) chronicles a turbulent life, told in Trohman's unmistakable voice with a sense of humor in the face of the tragic and the absurd.

Handsell readers your book in about 25 words or less:

Love memoirs? Hate egomaniacal indulgence? None of This Rocks is an antirockstar memoir! Instead of sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll, it's depression, depression, anxiety! Also, jokes!

On your nightstand now:

The Comedians by Kliph Nesteroff.

Favorite book when you were a child:

I read through The Lord of The Rings multiple times. I wasn't popular growing up.

Your top five authors:

Stephen King, J.R.R. Tolkien, Alan Moore, Clive Barker, Philip K. Dick.

Book you've faked reading:

I've "read" Infinite Jest--and by read, I made it to page 75. If you have trouble falling asleep, I highly recommend this one.

Book you're an evangelist for:

Joe Hill's NOS4A2. First, I love me some Joes! Second, it's such a vivid and unique read. If I had infinite copies, I'd give one to every person I know.

Book you've bought for the cover:

When You Are Engulfed in Flames by David Sedaris. I used to have a thing for skulls. Yuck. Not the book (it's great), just my youthful "dark" aesthetic. The worst!

Book you hid from your parents:

I had a volume of The Complete Crumb Comics. The cover donned an adult dressed as an infant with massive, exposed boobs. I did not want my parents to assume I had a thing for giant, large-breasted babies.

Book that changed your life:

A Wrinkle in Time was one of the first sci-fi/fantasy novels I remember losing myself within. I'm still gone!

Favorite line from a book:

"You were not put on this Earth just to get in touch with God" --from A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess. As a budding atheist, this line weirdly spoke to me.

Five books you'll never part with:

Night by Elie Wiesel
Hocus Pocus by Kurt Vonnegut
Exodus by Leon Uris
I Am Legend by Richard Matheson
The Twilight Zone Companion by Marc Scott Zicree

All were given to me by special people at important moments in my life.

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

I recently reread a book I'd been meaning to: The Hobbit. I read it to my daughter. This one turned me into a cave-dwelling dork, a Gollum of sorts. I wanted to rediscover how it hooked me into perpetual nerd-dom.

Are you supremely afraid to share your first book with the world, considering it's incredibly personal and revealing to a fault:

YES!


Book Review

Review: Art Is Life: Icons and Iconoclasts, Visionaries and Vigilantes, and Flashes of Hope in the Night

Art Is Life: Icons and Iconoclasts, Visionaries and Vigilantes, and Flashes of Hope in the Night by Jerry Saltz (Riverhead, $30 hardcover, 368p., 9780593086490, November 1, 2022)

Pulitzer Prize-winner Jerry Saltz (How to Be an Artist), senior art critic for New York magazine, likes to speak in superlatives. Jeff Koons's Puppy is "the greatest control-freak sculpture ever created." Jasper Johns's Flag is "the most iconic, transgressive object/amulet in late-twentieth-century American art." Here's one about Saltz, inspired by the caliber of his writing and observations in Art Is Life: Icons and Iconoclasts, Visionaries and Vigilantes, and Flashes of Hope in the Night: he's the best art critic working today.

The book's 80-odd essays span 1999 to 2021. Surely two decades of rigorous engagement with art should guarantee an abundance of insight from any critic, but there's no one quite like Saltz. There are his whammo openers ("Two weeks ago, the Death Star that has hovered over the art world for the last two years finally fired its lasers"). There's his peppery-salty wit ("For nearly ten years, starting in the late nineties, art and money had sex in public. Lots of it. And really publicly"). There are his cross-genre comparisons placing fine art in a larger--some purists would say cruder--cultural context ("Hopper is the Leonard Cohen, Roy Orbison, and Bruce Springsteen of painting, an only-the-lonely artist of ordinary life").

Also distinguishing Saltz is the personal aspect he brings to many assignments. As he explains, "I want critics to be as radically vulnerable in their work as I know artists are in theirs." This remark comes from the book's heartbreaker of an opener, "My Life as a Failed Artist," in which Saltz charts his woebegone younger-days attempt to make it as a visual artist. His hard-won humility reveals itself in his willingness publicly to revise his opinions, as of Cindy Sherman: his judgment was reversed "one evening in January 1990... when I saw Sherman explode her own formula." And does the reader detect a slight curdling of Saltz's affection for frequent Art Is Life touchstone Jeff Koons toward book's end?

Saltz's most rebellious act may be his determination to write accessibly in a field that tends toward easily satirizable impenetrability. His approach has always been fuss-free: as he writes of starting out as a critic, "I knew I wanted to write about art that I was seeing in the present and didn't want to have to read all those books that all those critics were always referencing." Who needs "all those books" now that there's Art Is Life? --Nell Beram, author and freelance writer

Shelf Talker: Art Is Life presents two decades of rigorous engagement with art by sui generis Pulitzer Prize-winning critic Jerry Saltz.


Deeper Understanding

Robert Gray: Silent Book Club Meeting in Life's Quiet Car

Do you hear that? Of course not. It's a Silent Book Club meeting somewhere in the world. I wish I was there. 

Why have I been thinking about Silent Book Club? Blame Pearl's Books, Fayetteville, Ark. When I was preparing for last Friday's column about, among other things, National Read a Book Day, I spotted a Facebook post from the bookseller:

Silent Book Club at Pearl's

"How did we celebrate National Read a Book Day? At Silent Book Club, of course! A big thank you to everyone who joined us--we'll be here til 8 p.m., so there's still time to grab your current read, or whatever's on the top of your TBR stack, and stop by." 

I live a pretty quiet life, both personally and professionally. Based upon years of unscientific observation, I also know our business has a substantial number of people who could be described--and would probably describe themselves--as "quiet." So would many of their customers. A lifetime spent reading books can do that, but the concept of Silent Book Club is next level. I've never attended one, but even the notices I happen upon draw me toward the quiet space on offer: 

Wesleyan RJ Julia Bookstore, Middletown, Conn.: "Do you love to read, love to meet other book-loving people, and love free coffee? Join us at the Wesleyan RJ Julia Silent Book Club! This book club is BYOB--Bring Your Own Book. Every kind of reader is welcome and there are no book requirements. Enjoy an hour of companionable silence and reading, with mingling before and/or after the reading period. Ssshhhh!!"

Wardah Books, Singapore: "The Silent Book Club is a commitment to devote an hour on Sunday morning to silent reading. There is a small social element; readers are encouraged to introduce themselves and share what they are reading at the start of the session, but you can choose to remain silent. All books and readers are welcome. Please bring your own book."

Adobe Books & Arts Co-op, San Francisco, Calif.: "Silent Book Club @ Adobe Books is a chance for people who love books to be in community. Bring whatever book you are reading and join us. Grab a spot on our comfy couches or in a quiet nook. We start at 5:30 with some brief intros/announcements and share the names of the titles we are reading. And then we quietly read in each other's company for about an hour."

Silent Book Club founders Laura Gluhanich and Guinevere de la Mare on a pilgrimage to Talk Story Bookstore in Kauai, Hawaaii, "the westernmost bookstore in the U.S."

I love the mystery, perhaps even the fantasy, of a silent book club. The concept stuck with me this week, enhanced as well by something that happened just before Tuesday's UEFA Champions League soccer match between Liverpool and the Dutch team Ajax. I had the game on while working, and heard the PA announcer at Liverpool's Anfield Stadium call for a moment of silence to mark the death of Queen Elizabeth II. 

As might be expected, soccer fans are rubbish at being silent. So I wondered how this quite reasonable request would be handled. After all, this is Anfield, where they've been booing the national anthem for almost half a century. Asking more than 50,000 fans to keep their mouths shut for a few seconds? Best of luck with that. Miraculously, however, a very brief moment of silence was achieved, if punctuated with isolated, probably obscene, shouts that were countered by a wave of mass shushing worthy of a typecast librarians' convention. 

Requesting a moment of relative quiet might have had a better chance of success. Having spent much of my life in a "quiet car" state of mind (and yes, passenger train quiet cars can often be noisier than Anfield's moment of silence), I do know that silence is a grail.  

One of my favorite novels about quiet is Irish author Rónán Hession's Leonard and Hungry Paul (Melville House), which explores the close friendship between two gentle men in their 30s living deceptively "ordinary" lives ("Their conversations combined the yin of Leonard's love of facts with the yang of Hungry Paul's chaotic curiosity.") in a manner that is alternately funny, heartwrenching, smart and, well, inspiring... in a quiet way, naturally. 

Are they misfits, or is the rest of the world just out of step? I'd say the latter, but I'm prejudiced. "The two friends then settled into one of the long pauses that characterized their comfort in each other's company," Hession writes. "They could sit quietly for extended periods without the need to hurry back to whatever it was they were doing, allowing the silence to melt away in its own time."

When I consider the Silent Book Club concept, I picture Leonard and Hungry Paul. Not just their connection to one another, but perhaps even more to the place where this novel gently guides its readers. That the word quiet weaves through the story like a soft gold thread, holding the seams in place, is no coincidence ("there was something special about the way that quiet people just seemed to find each other in life").

The final chapter of Leonard and Hungry Paul is titled "Quiet Club" for reasons I highly recommend you read the book to discover. "Leonard was of course in attendance and had been happy to help out," Hession writes. "It had been his idea to have tea and biscuits afterwards, taking it a step further by asking in the shop for the quietest biscuits they had, which were Jaffa Cakes obviously." Can I go to the next Quiet Club meeting, please? --Robert Gray


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