Also published on this date: Monday May 13, 2024: Maximum Shelf: A Song to Drown Rivers

Also published on this date: February 26, 2024 Dedicated Issue: Simon & Schuster Celebrates Its 100th Anniversary

Shelf Awareness for [date:convertDateFormat('EEEE, MMMM d, yyyy', $issuedate)]

Feiwel & Friends: Kisses, Codes, and Conspiracies by Abigail Hing Wen

Watkins Publishing: A Feminist's Guide to ADHD: How Women Can Thrive and Find Focus in a World Built for Men by Janina Maschke

Soho Teen: Only for the Holidays by Abiola Bello

W. W. Norton & Company: Still Life by Katherine Packert Burke

Shadow Mountain: A Kingdom to Claim by Sian Ann Bessey

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers: Immortal Dark (Deluxe Limited Edition) by Tigest Girma

Bramble: Swordcrossed by Freya Marske


Amazon Results: Stock Slides 15% After Low Holiday Sales Forecast

In the third quarter ended September 30, net sales at Amazon rose 14.7%, to $127.1 billion while net income fell 9%, to $2.9 billion. The strong dollar hurt Amazon: if unfavorable exchange rates were omitted, Amazon's net sales would have increased 19% in the third quarter. Still, it was Amazon's first profitable quarter of the year.

In the biggest news from yesterday's quarterly report, the company estimated that net sales in the fourth quarter--the holiday season--would grow only 2%-8%, between $140 billion and $148 billion, compared to the fourth quarter of 2021. This figure was significantly below analysts' estimates of about $155 billion, and the news disappointed Wall Street: in after-hours trading, Amazon stock has fallen 15%, to about $95 a share. The company also estimated operating profit at between zero and $4 billion.

In the third quarter, North American sales rose 20%, to $78.8 billion, while international sales fell 5%, to $27.7 billion (but were up 12%, excluding very unfavorable foreign exchange rates). Sales at Amazon Web Services, the highly profitable cloud service division, rose 27%, to $20.5 billion.

As the Wall Street Journal noted, "Amazon and other tech titans that have flourished through the pandemic have been reporting slowdowns this year as more people get out and do less shopping, working and entertaining themselves online. At the same time, many tech companies have been hit by a slowdown in advertising and growing concerns about inflation and the health of the economy, with fears of a recession looming."

After opening many more warehouses and adding staff after the pandemic started, Amazon has stopped opening new warehouses and cut back on hiring.

Amazon CEO Andy Jassy said the company is "encouraged by the steady progress we're making on lowering costs in our stores fulfillment network, and have a set of initiatives that we're methodically working through that we believe will yield a stronger cost structure for the business moving forward. There is obviously a lot happening in the macroeconomic environment, and we'll balance our investments to be more streamlined without compromising our key long-term, strategic bets. What won't change is our maniacal focus on the customer experience, and we feel confident that we're ready to deliver a great experience for customers this holiday shopping season."

W. W. Norton & Company: Still Life by Katherine Packert Burke

Rainy Day Books, Fairway, Kan., Sold to New Ownership Group

Vivien Jennings and Roger Doeren

Rainy Day Books in Fairway, Kan., has been sold to an ownership group consisting of "entrepreneurs, business leaders and longtime Rainy Day Books customers," the Kansas City Business Journal reported.

The group includes the founders of Made in Kansas City, who will oversee bookstore operations, and the new owners intend to "pursue bigger author events, cross-marketing, a presence at the Kansas City International Airport and expanded hours." At some point they will also look at opening new Rainy Day Books locations.

"We view your local bookstore as the pinnacle of retail," said Tyler Enders, co-founder of Made in Kansas City and member of the ownership group. "Any company that has been around for 47 years clearly has good business acumen, but also is very flexible. They've had to adapt and have really nurtured relationships with their customers.... It's a storied, iconic institution.”

Earlier this year, store president and founder Vivien Jennings and chief operating officer Roger Doeren decided to put the store up for sale, with Jennings's son Geoffrey Jennings guiding the process.

In the spring Jennings and Doeren wrote, "It is time for transition, so that new owners can build on our reputation and legacy of literacy," noting that 2020 and 2021 were "very challenging" for themselves and the store. They reinvented and reinvested in the business, and "endured with the support from the community and beyond." With the world opening back up, "the pace and hospitality of the author events we produce requires greater stamina than we have at ages 77 and 70." It was time "for someone new to be the face and voice of Rainy Day Books."

Jennings said she doesn't plan to step away entirely from the bookstore just yet. She will continue to make book recommendations and plan author events while spending more time with friends and family, particularly her grandchildren. Doeren, meanwhile, will "continue helping on the tech side," while Geoffrey Jennings will stay onboard as a buyer and events organizer, noting that "stopping cold turkey" didn't feel right.

"It's not the signal of an end of an era," Vivien Jennings told the Journal. "It's actually an extension of what we've been doing for 47 years. We want to continue the importance of literacy and what that can mean to a community. I think Tyler and Made in Kansas City will also take that forward."

Author, journalist and longtime Rainy Day Books customer David Von Drehle was instrumental in bringing the ownership group together. He initially pitched the idea of investing in the bookstore to his book club, while also telling Jennings and Doeren that he could help with forming an investor group if the need arose.

That group also includes Karen Ball, Von Drehle's wife; Leigh and Tyler Nottberg, who is the CEO of U.S. Engineering; art collectors Christy and Bill Gautreaux; and a member of the Kansas City Royals ownership group. Tyler Enders noted that all of them are Rainy Day Books customers.

"Made in Kansas City is basically giving Rainy Day Books a much bigger microphone, and they're going to be able to do that very quickly," Geoffrey Jennings said. "The store needs to grow. We're at an inflection point."

Notes from Frankfurt: The International View from Ingram

At the Publishing Perspectives' Cost of Doing Business in 2022 panel last week at the Frankfurt Book Fair, moderated by Erin Cox, David Taylor, senior v-p, content acquisition, international at Ingram Content Group, provided a broad view of international business from Ingram's point of view (noting that it's a wholesaler, distributor and POD company with operations in most parts of the world).

Business pressures that include general inflation as well as rising paper, labor, freight and energy costs are "everywhere," he said. Rising interest rates even make the cost of money more expensive. Paper availability is also a problem, since many paper mills have converted from making paper to making cardboard to address "the explosion of people buying things online" and companies' need for boxes to ship those products. Finding employees is also difficult. And while print books cost more to make and ship, customers' disposable income is shrinking. He added that in nearly 40 years in the book trade, he's "never seen a situation like this in terms of the economies around the globe."

David Taylor

Not surprisingly considering the many cost pressures, the retail price of books is slowly inching up and publishers are cutting back on print runs, Taylor said. In the last several years, "we saw a real boom in print on demand." POD helps cut shipping costs. (He mentioned an Australian publisher that years ago printed books in China, had them shipped to a warehouse in the U.K., and then shipped to Australia.) In general, for many publishers, POD has done away with the old model of "guess how many copies to print," and if it's too many or too few, publishers would wind up pulping books or running out of copies when they were most needed. Now instead of "print a book and and then sell it," publishers can "sell it, and then print." The focus on having a "virtual inventory" allows them to have less capital tied up in stock. The approach also boosts sustainability.

POD allows there to be "many millions of books that don't physically exist until someone wants to buy it." He noted, too, that POD technology continues to improve so that it's nearly impossible to tell the difference between most POD books and traditionally published books. Soon, he added, POD will become good enough to encompass "coffee-table books, both hardback and paperback."

During the pandemic there was "great growth in consumer direct fulfillment" by publishers as well from bricks-and-mortar bookstores. (He praised indies for being "nimble and imaginative.") Market share attributable to online ordering was "turbocharged" in nearly every market. Since the worse days of the pandemic, the percentage of online sales has dropped from its heights but is still above where it was before the pandemic. In Asia, online sales rose "and have not dropped back down," nearly catching up with levels in North America and Europe. He noted, too, that indie bookstores in countries with fixed prices for books can compete better with online competitors.

British sales to Europe have suffered from Brexit, which he sarcastically called "a stroke of genius by our politicians." That damaged "a lot of business," he said. "It's almost disappeared." These days, he continued, "Anyone in the supply chain has to manage their cost base really, really effectively."

Still, despite the strong headwinds, he emphasized that the book trade is "resilient. In times of boom, books don't go through the roof, and in times of depression, they don't drop through the floor." Moreover, he said, "The trade is full of creative and smart people."

He concluded, "It's a really good time to be a publisher and it's a really good time to be a bookseller. More and more books being published, the barriers to entry for publishing have shrunk hugely. There are more publishers around. There are more booksellers around. More Internet bookselling around.... There's quite a bright future for the book trade." --John Mutter

Stories Like Me Opening Physical Store in Pittsburgh, Pa.

Getting ready to open at Stories Like Me.

Stories Like Me, a children's bookstore with a diverse and inclusive mission, is opening a bricks-and-mortar store in Pittsburgh, Pa., Next Pittsburgh reported.

Located in Pittsburgh's Greenfield neighborhood, in a building that was once a doctor's office, Stories Like Me carries books for children and teens with an emphasis on representation. Store owner Helen Campbell, who founded the bookstore as an online shop in 2018, expects to open for business either today or Friday.

Campbell noted that when visiting a conventional bookstore, finding books with representation can seem a "bit like a treasure hunt," but the point of Stories Like Me is that every title is inclusive in some way. There is disability and neurodiverse representation as well as books by Black authors, Indigenous authors and Asian & Pacific Islander authors, along with LGBTQ titles.

Prior to opening the bricks-and-mortar store, Campbell did pop-up appearances around Greenfield, and reported that people would often tear up when they saw the book selection. "They are seeing reflections of themselves in the books that we carry--sometimes for the first time as adults. Lots of folks tell us that they wish they had seen books like ours when they were younger."

Campbell noted that when it came time to look for a physical location, she kept "finding these beautiful places in nice neighborhoods" for rent that were not accessible. With the help of Bridgeway Capital, Campbell was instead able to buy a building and make sure it was accessible.

"Our mission is that all kids should be able to see themselves in a story," she told Next Pittsburgh. "All kids means all kids."

New Voices New Rooms to Be In-Person Conference for 2023

New Voices New Rooms, the virtual event platform created by the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance and the New Atlantic Independent Booksellers Association is going live in 2023 for a joint, in-person conference, and is moving from the Fall schedule to early August to coincide with holiday-season buying for bookstores. 

"The shift to early August supports our bookstores by moving it away from peak hurricane, football, school, and community festival season," said SIBA executive director Linda-Marie Barrett. 

The NVNR conference will be hosted in northern Virginia and take advantage of venues outside the hotel for meetings and events. The two associations noted that buying from publishers and vendors will be more focused and purposeful and will not be structured as a typical exhibit hall. Education will take place on days one and three, with day two devoted to book and merchandise preview and buying.

"We want to create an event that will be memorable as well as productive for all our booksellers," said Eileen Dengler, executive director of NAIBA. "We want to add whimsy to the work to be done at the conference."

Barrett added, "Making this event meaningful to our booksellers is our number one priority. We'd love them to leave thinking, 'Wow! That was an amazing experience.' Our teams are working together to create a truly innovative gathering that will help stores improve their businesses in big and small ways."

Memorial Service for Mark Laframboise

Mark Laframboise

More info about the memorial service for the late Mark Laframboise, longtime book buyer at Politics & Prose, Washington, D.C.: the service will take place in the main Connecticut Avenue store on Saturday, November 5, at 7 p.m. People who plan to attend in person are requested to register here so the store can keep track of the crowd. P&P will also livestream the service on its YouTube channel here.


Image of the Day: Literature Lovers' Night Out

On Wednesday, Valley Bookseller, Stillwater, Minn., hosted the final Literature Lovers' Night Out program of the 2022 season at the festively decorated Zephyr Theater. Pictured: (l.-r., front) Maren Ellingboe King (Fresh Midwest Cookbook), Pamela Klinger-Horn, host of Literature Lovers' Night Out, Allen Eskens (Forsaken Country); (2nd row) Kristina McMorris (The Ways We Hide), Laurie Lico Albanese (Hester); (3rd row) Valley Bookseller staffers Dellzie Hodler, Julie Korsgren, Jill Tammen and manager Gretchen West; (top) Bones the Bookseller.

Bookstore Art: Second Flight Books

Second Flight Books, Lafayette, Ind., posted on Facebook yesterday: "Today, Justin Suarez @aerosolkingdom was back in town to dedicate the two murals he did over the summer in Lafayette, so of course we were there, along with Mayor Roswarski and @theartsfed. Also, the owl mural he painted on our building is looking gorgeous alongside the Fall colors!"

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Mario Vargas Llosa on Christiane Amanpour

Christiane Amanpour: Mario Vargas Llosa, Nobel Prize laureate and author of Fonchito and the Moon (Kales Press/Norton dist., $20.95, 9798985955804).

On Stage: Walking with Ghosts

Actor and author Gabriel Byrne has brought Walking with Ghosts, a solo show adapted from his memoir, to Broadway, with a 75-performance run that began October 18 at the Music Box Theatre leading to an October 27 opening night. Ahead of its official opening, director Lonny Price and Byrne spoke with Playbill about what to expect from the show. 

Books & Authors

Awards: Kirkus Winners; Waterstones Book of the Year Shortlist

The winners of the 2022 Kirkus Prize, sponsored by Kirkus Reviews and including a $50,000 award for each winner, are:

Fiction: Trust by Hernan Diaz (Riverhead). Judges said the book stands out for the way Diaz "uses multiple perspectives and forms to push the boundaries of what a novel can do. What seems to begin as an homage to novels of the Roaring '20s unfolds with each successive layer into a complex story of power, love, and the nature of truth. Trust is a true literary delight."

Nonfiction: In Sensorium: Notes for My People by Tanaïs (Harper). Judges praised the book for its "daring, inventiveness, vision, and lyrical eloquence. Using the framework of fragrance and scent, the author's work confronts aspects of our society related to women, gender, and people of color. Seductive, vital, and incomparable, this is a reading experience that endures."

Young Readers' Literature: Himawari House by Harmony Becker (First Second/Macmillan). Judges lauded the book for its "remarkable mastery of graphic novel conventions and its perceptive exploration of emotionally resonant, evergreen themes relating to family, friendship, and identity. The book's brilliance lies both in the authentic cultural specificity that grounds it and Becker's creative presentation that welcomes all readers in."


A shortlist has been released for the 2022 Waterstones Book of the Year that includes 10 titles nominated by the bookstore chain's booksellers. The winner, chosen by a Waterstones panel, will be named December 1. This year's shortlisted titles are: 

The Escape Artist by Jonathan Freedland
Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus
Otherlands by Thomas Halliday
The Story of Art Without Men by Katy Hessel 
Babel by R.F. Kuang 
Cooking by Jeremy Lee
The Marriage Portrait by Maggie O'Farrell
Heartstopper Volume 1 by Alice Oseman 
The Golden Mole by Katherine Rundell, illustrated by Talya Baldwin
Skandar and the Unicorn Thief by A.F. Steadman

Waterstones COO Kate Skipper said: "Our booksellers have nominated a phenomenal shortlist for this year's Waterstones Book of the Year, capturing the essence of an exceptional year of publishing. It's a selection remarkable for its depth, full of books that in turn enrapture, divert and entertain the reader. Our booksellers have championed these titles throughout the year, putting them into the hands of readers across the country. I can't wait to see which one will be crowned the winner." 

Reading with… Jonathan Coe

photo: Josefina Melo

Jonathan Coe was born in Birmingham, England, in 1961. His first novel published in the U.S. was The Winshaw Legacy (1995). Since then, he has alternated writing political, satirical novels with more personal fiction. His books mix comedy, melancholy and political engagement. Mr. Wilder and Me (Europa Editions, September 27, 2022), his 13th novel, is at once a tender coming-of-age story and an intimate portrait of one of cinema’s most intriguing figures.

Handsell readers your book in 25 words or less:

A loving homage to Billy Wilder, focused on his later years, which has been brewing inside my head for almost four decades now.

On your nightstand now:

Two new novels, one by Ian McEwan (Lessons) and one by James Kelman (God's Teeth and Other Phenomena). Very different writers, very different books. Pretty disorienting reading them side by side.

Favorite book when you were a child:

Jennings Goes to School by Anthony Buckeridge. Almost unknown in the United States, the British writer Buckeridge was immensely popular in Europe in the 1960s. His series of books featuring the schoolboy characters Jennings and Darbishire are classic stories of English public boarding school life. But they are also sparkling comedies, featuring verbal humour and digressions into absurdity, which are almost worthy of Wodehouse. I adored his books as a child, and they were a major influence on my own style.

Your top five authors:

Henry Fielding: I fell in love with his work when my English teacher at school mistakenly told us that Joseph Andrews was going to be an exam set text and made us all read it over the holidays. When we came back to school next term, he sheepishly told us that it should have been Emma by Jane Austen instead. Everyone else was furious, but I was delighted to have been introduced to a writer of such humour and generosity of spirit.

Rosamond Lehmann: I am fascinated by her small body of work, novels that are all great love stories but also much more than that. Perfect evocations of their era, rich in texture and visual description and progressively more anguished in their confrontation of great issues, such as the inexorable passing of time and the fragility of memory.

B.S. Johnson: A working-class, experimental novelist from London in the 1960s. Twenty years ago I wrote a long biography of Johnson, partly to cure myself of my obsession with him, but that didn't work: I remain captivated and engrossed by his wry, angry, funny, humane attempts to write only from personal experience and to memorialise his own life on the page. His novel The Unfortunates (27 chapters presented unbound in a box, to be shuffled and read in any order the reader chooses) is a masterpiece.

Alasdair Gray: The greatest of modern Scottish novelists. Like B.S. Johnson, he combines humour, political engagement and experimentalism, often on an epic scale and never in a way that is difficult to read. Start with Lanark or 1982, Janine.

Flann O'Brien: The novelistic pseudonym of Brian O'Nolan, to my mind the funniest writer of all time. Certainly one of the most inventive and most intelligent. His brilliant career began with At Swim-Two-Birds and The Poor Mouth and then came to a halt when The Third Policeman, his absurdist classic, was rejected by his publisher. One of the 20th-century publishing world's stupidest and most disastrous decisions. After that, O'Nolan took to drink and to comic journalism--for which he also had a genius. But those first three novels are his towering achievement.

Book you've faked reading:

I'm not aware of ever having done this. What would be the point? Who would you be faking for? If you're not enjoying a book, throw it.

Book you're an evangelist for:

The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin by David Nobbs. A tragicomic 1970s satire on suburban conformity. Think Monty Python meets John Updike.

Book you've bought for the cover:

I don't think I've ever bought a book just for the cover, but I remember being scandalized by the cover for the novelization of Billy Wilder's Private Life of Sherlock Holmes in the '70s. It juxtaposed Holmes with a semi-naked woman, which deeply offended my youthful puritan sensibilities.

Book you hid from your parents:

Ulysses by James Joyce for two reasons: my father was prejudiced against all things Irish, and my mother thought it was a dirty book.

Book that changed your life:

Catch-22 by Joseph Heller, which made me understand that a book could be serious and hilarious at the same time.

Favorite line from a book:

From Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels, the King of Brobdingnag's verdict on humankind: "I cannot but conclude the Bulk of your Natives, to be the most pernicious Race of little odious Vermin that Nature ever suffered to crawl upon the Surface of the Earth." Harsh--but fair.

Five books you'll never part with:

Journey Down Sunset Boulevard by Neil Sinyard and Adrian Turner. One of the earliest and best critical books about Billy Wilder. Would probably be hard to find a replacement now if I lost my copy.

The Pilgrimage novels by Dorothy Richardson. I love the way my green-spined paperback Virago edition, circa 1980s, of this 13-volume novel sequence looks on my bookshelf.

The Wonderful Travels by Jules Verne. A lovely, one-volume translation of Around the World in Eighty Days, Five Weeks in a Balloon and Journey to the Centre of the Earth, which I treasure not just for the text and illustrations but the inscription to my grandfather, Frank, who won it as a school prize in 1908.

The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro. My prized first edition of one of the finest British novels of the last 50 years.

Understanding Jonathan Coe by Merritt Moseley. A book-length study of my novels, which I hope one day to find the courage to read--to see if it helps me to understand myself at all.

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

It's by no means my favourite anymore, but I would love to somehow recapture the pristine excitement of diving into Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings novels at the age of 11. Or maybe just be 11 again.

Book Review

Review: Gunk Baby

Gunk Baby by Jamie Marina Lau (Astra House, $17 paperback, 352p., 9781662601453, December 13, 2022)

Melbourne author Jamie Marina Lau was the same age as her 24-year-old protagonist when Gunk Baby, her second novel, was published in Australia in 2021. Following the success of Lau's 2018 debut, Pink Mountain on Locust Island, which was shortlisted for Australia's Stella Prize, Gunk Baby arrives Stateside with numerous Australian and British lauds already attached. The novel may be a foreign import, but its diverse cast of malaise-ridden, mostly 20-something young adults navigating the consumer-targeted geographies of shopping centers and aspirational, exclusive residential enclaves will feel all too familiar to North American readers.

Peripatetic Leen lives with Doms and Vic; Leen met the former while unknowingly sharing an ex-boyfriend, the latter is Doms's current partner. Leen is more stay-for-free squatter than roommate since Doms's invitation of "it'll be fun shifted into the boredom and dissatisfaction of our current state." Still, cohabitation remains helpful for Leen, who's opening an alternative wellness studio at the local mall, offering ear cleaning (reminiscent of her mother's childhood ministrations), massages (gleaned from half of an unfinished training course) and, later, cupping (relying on video tutorials). Vic works in the mall's pharmacy, which gives Leen the opportunity to meet Vic's enigmatic co-worker Jean Paul and the pharmacy owner's teenage son Huy.

During her studio's open house, Leen impulsively hires Farah as her receptionist, after hearing Farah's disgruntled complaints about her job at the popular lifestyle store K.A.G., located just down the escalator. K.A.G. is also where Leen's future lover Luis is employed, albeit on an upwardly mobile career track. While working to keep the studio functioning, Leen finds herself recruited by Jean Paul into a vaguely anti-establishment underground network. With little forethought or resistance, she becomes the de facto delivery/getaway driver for Jean Paul and Huy's "Resisting Acts"--which initially resemble minor pranks but eventually expand to become explosive disasters.

Lau delivers an astute narrative threaded with pithy quotes from Robert Green's 48 Laws of Power, and erudite references to Heidegger, Sartre, Nietzsche. She also fills her fiction with quotidian details--global brands, wellness obsessions, app-controlled smart homes, multiplying addictions, cultural appropriation and exotification--almost as if creating both an exposé of and warning to a society on the verge of failing its young adults. Lau herself is of that very generation, making her sharp, shrewd observations about discontent and disconnect more immediately caustic, as well as--ironically--more reliably empathetic. --Terry Hong, Smithsonian BookDragon

Shelf Talker: A sly, ingenious Australian import highlighting disconnected, discontented 20-somethings should find ample resonance with U.S. audiences.

Deeper Understanding

Robert Gray: Happy Boo(kish) Halloween, Scary Readers!

Readers can be scary, too. Take Count Dracula, in his library, sharing his love of reading with a guest, Jonathan Harker (via Bram Stoker):

"I am glad you found your way in here, for I am sure there is much that will interest you. These companions--and he laid his hand on some of the books--have been good friends to me, and for some years past, ever since I had the idea of going to London, have given me many, many hours pleasure. Through them I have come to know your great England; and to know her is to love her. I long to go through the crowded streets of your mighty London, to be in the midst of the whirl and rush of humanity, to share its life, its change, its death, and all that makes it what it is. But alas! as yet I only know your tongue through books." 

I've known the Count since I was a kid, but this Halloween season I was frightened by something I had never seen before. Remember Charlton Heston (I know, that's scary enough) at the end of the movie Soylent Green, screaming, "Soylent Green is people!"? Well, a few days ago on Facebook, my eyes were scarred forever when they saw an Instagram post featuring Paul Simic's Pumpkin Spice Soylent Green shirts.

But let's talk business. WalletHub reported that total spending on Halloween-related expenses is projected to reach $10.6 billion this year. Of that, $3.6 Billion will go to costumes and $3.1 billion to candy. Notably, the Bureau of Labor's inflation data shows that the cost of candy has surged more than 13.1% in the U.S. since last September. 

Wait, that's scary, too. Let's return to safer Halloween territory: ghosts, witches and skeletons. My social media feed has been haunted for a couple of weeks now by indie bookstore posts anticipating the big night Monday, including a "sign o' the times" from Wicked Good Books, located in what is arguably Halloween's U.S. capital, Salem, Mass. 

Speaking of signs, sidewalk chalkboards have also been scary reads this month outside indie bookstores like the Bookworm, Bernardsville, N.J.; Read Between the Lynes, Woodstock, Ill.; Curious Iguana, Frederick, Md.; Naughty Dog Books, Nashville, Ind., and many more.

And here are some more Halloween indie bookstore treats: 

Afterwords Books, Edwardsville, Ill.: "Books > candy (although we have candy, too). Stop by your little local indie bookstore for all things HALLOWEEN."

Charm City Books, Baltimore, Md.: "Spooky seazn is upon us and Ruthie May wants you to get a limited edition spooky tote made here at the shop! They come in orange and white, and if you get one any time this month you can bring it back Halloween Weekend Oct 29th-Oct 31st and everything you fit inside it is 20% off! There aren't many left so make sure you snag one so you can get that 20%! *also observe Dominique's excellent modeling if you swipe left*."

Burke's Book Store, Memphis, Tenn.: "Our Halloween 'Witch's Hut' window is up, designed and constructed by Chloe Mesler."

Auburn Oil Co. Booksellers, Auburn, Ala.: "When your friends match your energy!"

Whitelam Books, Reading, Mass.: "We can't get enough of Kat and Tim's retelling of a classic in gourd form, The Pumpkin of Dorian Gray. This pumpkin has been up to some questionable stuff, clearly! Come check out our amazing pumpkin window today during Downtown Trick or Treat." 

McLean & Eakin Booksellers, Petoskey, Mich.: "Must be the season of the WITCH! We're playing the song on repeat here in the store in honor of spooky season. Get all your witch themed books today before Halloween is upon us."

Books Around the Corner, Gresham, Ore.: "Want to know your bookseller even more?! Your Halloween Queen is now officially a pumpkinhead. After a spooky event out I was able to have a mini pumpkin photo shoot. A full one and a ghost one eventually will happen. Remember Halloween is a state of mind and it lives in my heart all year and I try to bring it to yours year round."

Beausoleil Books, Lafayette La.: "Come join us TONIGHT for a Halloween edition of Bad Poetry Night!... There will be an open mic for all your ghoulish, ghastly, and ghost-filled poems so bring something to read (whether written by you or Mr. Edgar Allan Poe, it matters not)."

Writer's Block Bookstore, Winter Park, Fla.: "Our beautiful Winter Garden Halloween display!!! Stop by to see the witchy wonderland in person."

M. Judson Booksellers, Greenville, N.C.: "Don't freak out, but we've got scary books for grown people too. Bone chilling stories to keep you up at night, haunting tales that'll stay with you long after reading. ⁠Our booksellers can put together a stack of creepy classics and new favorites before you can say BOO. "

Arts & Letters Bookstore, Granbury, Tex.: "Just had a great pop up performance by the characters of THE SLEEPY HOLLOW EXPERIENCE... so much talent!" 

Speaking of Sleepy Hollow, let's conclude this literary seance by calling upon the ghost of Ichabod Crane, Washington Irving's doomed schoolmaster. After Crane's unfortunate encounter with the Headless Horseman, the executor of his estate, Hans Van Ripper, "examined the bundle which contained all his worldly effects.... As to the books and furniture of the schoolhouse, they belonged to the community, excepting Cotton Mather's History of Witchcraft, a New England Almanac and a book of dreams and fortune-telling.... These magic books and the poetic scrawl were forthwith consigned to the flames by Hans Van Ripper; who, from that time forward, determined to send his children no more to school, observing that he never knew any good come of this same reading and writing." 

Happy Boo(kish) Halloween, scary readers!! 

--Robert Gray, contributing editor

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