Shelf Awareness for Thursday, November 17, 2022


Viking: I Have Some Questions for You by Rebecca Makkai

Tor Books: The First Bright Thing by J.R. Dawson

Island Press: The Good Garden: How to Nurture Pollinators, Soil, Native Wildlife, and Healthy Food--All in Your Own Backyard by Chris McLaughlin

Holiday House: For Lamb by Lesa Cline-Ransome

Zonderkidz: The Beginner's Bible: Timeless Children's Stories

Tordotcom: Witch King by Martha Wells

Editors' Note

A Tale of Two Sales Reports

Yesterday, the Census Bureau released September sales figures for U.S. businesses, including bookstores, and the Association of American Publishers issued publisher sales figures for August. The trends in these reports (see below) are strikingly different: bookstore sales are up 8.5% for the year, while publishers' sales slumped yet again and are down 5% for the year. The numbers seem to confirm what we've heard from a variety of people in the book business: that sales at independent bookstores are continuing at a healthy pace, while publishers have been hurt in large part because Amazon, in most cases their largest customer, has both cut back on orders and returned many books as it cuts costs and staff, halts warehouse expansion and reevaluates its operations. All a nice reminder of the importance of indie bookstores in the book world.


Blackstone Publishing: Émilienne by Pamela Binnings Ewen


News

National Book Awards Winners

The winners of the National Book Awards, presented last night in New York City, are:

Fiction: The Rabbit Hutch by Tess Gunty (Knopf/PRH). Gunty said in part, "I truly believe that attention is the most sacred resource that we have to spend on this planet. And books are perhaps one of the last places where we spend this resource freely and where it means the most. So everyone here tonight, thank you for everything you've done to put books out into the world and to promote justice. I think kindness wins. That's the point of this evening. Love wins."

Nonfiction: South to America: A Journey Below the Mason-Dixon to Understand the Soul of a Nation by Imani Perry (Ecco/HarperCollins). Perry said in part, "The artist and the intellectual is obligated to be truthful. I promise that I will continue to bear witness to the best of my ability. I write for my people. I write because we children of the lash-scarred, broke, choked, bullet ridden, desecrated are still here standing. I write for the field holler, the shout, the growl, the singer, the signer and the signified. I write for the sinned against and the sanctifying. I write for the ones who cleaned the toilets and tilled the soil and walked the picket lines, for the hungry, the caged, the disregarded, the holding on. I write for you. I write because I love sentences, and I love freedom more."

Poetry: Punks: New and Selected Poems by John Keene (The Song Cave). Keene said in part, "I want to dedicate this award to all the readers out there and to my ancestors, on whose shoulders I stand, ancestors by lineage and by association, including the several generations of writers, particularly the Black, gay, queer, and trans writers, especially those who we lost to HIV/AIDS in the 1980s and 1990s. I had the pleasure of meeting and hearing some of these writers. They were brilliant. They were fierce. They were original. They were daring. They were courageous. And their voices not only captured the world they were living in, but envisioned a better one. Let's return to their words and the words of so many vital writers and artists we may have forgotten."

Young People's Literature: All My Rage by Sabaa Tahir (Razorbill/PRH). Tahir said in part, "I am the first Muslim and Pakistani American woman to win this award in this category. So I must honor my Muslim sisters in too many places to count who are fighting for their lives, their autonomy, their bodies, and their right to live and tell their own stories without fear. Sisters, may you rise and may you be victorious against the oppressors.... Thank you to every librarian and educator, and bookseller who has put my book into the hands of a young person who needs it."

Translated Literature: Seven Empty Houses by Samanta Schweblin, trans. from the Spanish by Megan McDowell (Riverhead/PRH). Schweblin said in part, "There are so many moments in life when words can be very tricky and misleading and even harmful. And we need to be very careful about this. Then someone calls you from back home and says even if you have to dress up tonight, make sure you don't get cold. Keep warm, be happy, enjoy it. And then words become a gift and a privilege." She thanked the many people who've supported and helped her, including "my marvelous, amazing translator, the mega Megan."

McDowell said in part, "I'm not a person to whom words come easy. People often think that writers are people who have a way with words, but I think they're people who question words, who distrust them, and who demand more from them. Writers are people who struggle with words and so are translators. Any act of communication is an act of translation."


GLOW: Putnam: The Three of Us by Ore Agbaje-Williams


Zibby's Bookshop Coming to Santa Monica, Calif., Next Year

Zibby Bookshop's future home.

Early next year, writer, podcast host and publisher Zibby Owens will open a bookstore called Zibby's Bookshop in Santa Monica, Calif. 

The 823-square-foot store will reside at 1113 Montana Ave. and sell new books for children, teens and adults, with a strong focus on contemporary fiction and memoirs. Rather than shelve books in conventional categories by genre, Owens said, the store will curate titles by topic and interest. At the same time, Zibby's Bookshop will feature plenty of books recommended by other people, particularly authors; Owens said she looks forward to showcasing writers "and the books that they love."

In addition to Owens, the bookstore's founding team includes Diana Tramontano and Sherri Puzey. The trio has been working together for about two years and all three will handle buying for the bookstore.

Asked about plans for sidelines and nonbook items, Owens said there will be "very limited swag," with perhaps a small selection of things like candles. Otherwise, the focus will very much be on the books. The bookshop's event plans, meanwhile, include plenty of author meet-and-greets and fun things for book clubs.

The space, which previously belonged to a dry cleaner, is undergoing renovations. The floor is being replaced, the ceiling is getting bumped up and the bathroom is being redone, and Owens hopes to open the store in February or March, depending on when that work is completed.

The Zibby team: Diana Tramontano, Zibby Owens and Sherri Puzey.

Owens said she's wanted to open a bookstore "forever and ever," and it was the success of her podcast Moms Don't Have Time to Read Books, which she launched in 2018, that inspired all sorts of "book-adjacent activities." She's started a publishing company and magazine (Zibby's Books and Zibby Mag, respectively) and about six months ago started looking into opening a bookstore in the Santa Monica area. She considered everything from opening a traditional bricks-and-mortar store to starting a bookmobile or launching a pop-up shop.

She was actually leaning toward the pop-up option when she found the space on Montana Ave. and decided to sign a lease. Owens described the area as a "10-block strip of highly walkable, shoppable stores,'' with a great community of customers and business owners. She noted that there are clothing stores, spas and nail salons in the area, and the other business owners are "so excited" to have the bookstore coming in.

Owens added that though she decided to go the bricks-and-mortar route, that doesn't mean she's ruled out ever doing pop-up appearances or starting a bookmobile. "I'm hoping that this is just the beginning," she said.

Elaborating on the community reaction, Owens recalled that she shared a "little sketch of the store" on Instagram a while back and the "outpouring of excitement" was incredible. Working on Zibby's Bookshop, she continued, has made her think a lot about the role of bookstores.

"It's made it even more clear to me that having a bookstore join the community is not simply about the transactions," she remarked. "It's about bringing people together and all the other intangibles a bookstore can provide." --Alex Mutter


G.P. Putnam's Sons: Stars in an Italian Sky by Jill Santopolo


Bookstore Sales Rise 3.7% in September; Year to Date Up 8.5%

In September, bookstore sales rose 3.7%, to $860 million, compared to September 2021, according to preliminary Census Bureau estimates. By comparison to pre-pandemic times, bookstore sales in September were 0.9% higher than in September 2019. For the first three quarters of the year, sales have risen 8.5%, to $6.5 billion compared to the first nine months of 2021.

Total retail sales in September rose 10.8%, to $664.1 billion, compared to September 2021. For the year to date, total retail sales have climbed 10.2%, to $5,990 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."


AAP Sales: Down 9% in August; Down 5% for the Year

Total net book sales in August in the U.S. dropped 9%, to $1.361 billion, compared to August 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 year to date, total net book sales were down 5%, to $7.94 billion.

Continuing recent trends, almost every category fell during the month, with only downloaded audio and e-books rising. Trade sales as a whole fell 10.5%, to $744.3 million. Trade hardcover sales dropped 19.5%, to $238.4 million. Trade paperbacks fell 8.6%, to $277.4. Mass market sales were off 15.2%, to $15.1 million. Special bindings dropped 16.8%, to $17.5 million.

Sales by category in August 2022 compared to August 2021:

 

Notes

Bookish Winter Weather Advisory 

Several indie bookstores were sharing pics on social media this week as they spotted the first snowflakes of the season, including: 

White Whale Bookstore, Pittsburgh, Pa.: "First of the season."

Norwich Bookstore, Norwich, Vt.: "First snow of the season won't stop us selling books! We're here until 6 p.m. ready to recommend gifts for everyone on your list & for you too!"

Reads by the River Books and Gifts, Waterford, Wis.: "Seeing my little bookstore on the first snowfall of the season will never get old. And our Christmas displays have exploded inside and in the windows! It’s the perfect day for browsing. Stop in and see us."

The Squirrel and Acorn Bookshop, State College, Pa.: "The first snow of the season, and a good book to read, can't ask for anything better!"

The Book Nook, Ludlow, Vt.: "First shovel of the season (wet, heavy, nastiness)."

Bridgton Books, Bridgton, Maine: "The first fall of snow is not only an event, it is a magical event.  You go to bed in one kind of world and wake up in another quite different, and if this is not enchantment then where is to be found?" --J.B. Priestley


Personnel Changes at Bloomsbury; Catapult/Counterpoint/Soft Skull

Lex Higbee has been promoted to publicity manager of children's & YA titles from senior publicist at Bloomsbury US.

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Katie Qiaoling Mantele has been promoted to sales & marketing associate at Catapult, Counterpoint, & Soft Skull Press.



Media and Movies

Media Heat: Paul Feig on Rachael Ray

Tomorrow:
Rachael Ray: Paul Feig, author of Cocktail Time!: The Ultimate Guide to Grown-Up Fun (Morrow, $29.99, 9780063160699).


This Weekend on Book TV: The Miami Book Fair

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.

Saturday, November 19
9:30 a.m. David Kent, author of Lincoln: The Fire of Genius (Lyons Press, $29.95, 9781493063833). (Re-airs Saturday at 9:30 p.m.)

1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Coverage of the 2022 Miami Book Fair. Highlights include:

  • 1 p.m. Katy Tur, author of Rough Draft: A Memoir.
  • 2 p.m. A discussion on slavery and race in American history with Robert Samuels and Toluse Olorunnipa, authors of His Name was George Floyd, Kerri Greenidge, author of The Grimkes and Ellis Cose, author of Race and Reckoning.
  • 3 p.m. A discussion on international diplomacy and U.S. foreign policy with Philip Short, author of Putin: His Life and Times, Michael Beckley, author of Danger Zone: The Coming Conflict with China, and Meenakshi Ahamed, author of A Matter of Trust: India-U.S. Relations from Truman to Trump.

Sunday, November 20
8 a.m. Douglas Rushkoff, author of Survival of the Richest: Escape Fantasies of the Tech Billionaires (Norton, $26.95, 9780393881066). (Re-airs Sunday at 8 p.m.)

9 a.m. Mike Pence, author of So Help Me God (‎Simon & Schuster, $35, 9781982190330). (Re-airs Sunday at 9 p.m.)

10 a.m. Emily Flitter, author of The White Wall: How Big Finance Bankrupts Black America (Atria/One Signal, $28.99, 9781982183240). (Re-airs Sunday 10 p.m.)

2:05 p.m. Sarah Kendzior, author of They Knew: How a Culture of Conspiracy Keeps America Complacent (Flatiron, $29.99, 9781250210722).

5:30 p.m. Stacy Schiff, author of The Revolutionary: Samuel Adams (‎Little, Brown, $35, 9780316441117), at the Miami Book Fair.

6:30 p.m. Siddhartha Mukherjee, author of The Song of the Cell: An Exploration of Medicine and the New Human (Scribner, $32.50, 9781982117351), at the Miami Book Fair.


Books & Authors

Awards: Governor General's Literary, Polari Winners

The Canada Council for the Arts revealed the 2022 winners of the Governor General's Literary Awards. Each winner receives C$25,000 (about US$18,745), with the publisher receiving C$3,000 (about US$2,250) to promote the winning book; and finalists getting C$1,000 (about US$750) each. This year's winning titles are:

English-language 
Fiction: Pure Colour by Sheila Heti 
Poetry: Shadow Blight by Annick MacAskill
Drama: The Piano Teacher: A Healing Key by Dorothy Dittrich
Nonfiction: Aki-Wayn-Zih: A Person as Worthy as the Earth by Eli Baxter
Young people's literature/text: The Summer of Bitter and Sweet by Jen Ferguson
Young people's literature/illustrated books: The Sour Cherry Tree by Naseem Hrab & Nahid Kazemi
Translation (from French to English): History of the Jews in Quebec, translated by Judith Weisz Woodsworth from Histoire des Juifs du Québec by Pierre Anctil

French-language 
Fiction: Mille secrets mille dangers by Alain Farah 
Poetry: Enfants du lichen by Maya Cousineau Mollen
Drama: Le poids des fourmis by David Paquet
Nonfiction: La Voie romaine by Sylveline Bourio
Young people's literature/text: Cancer ascendant Autruche by Julie Champagne 
Young people's literature/illustrated books: Trèfle by Nadine Robert & Qin Leng
Translation (from English to French): Partie de chasse au petit gibier entre lâches au club de tir du coin, translated by Mélissa Verreault from Small Game Hunting at the Local Coward Gun Club by Megan Gail Coles

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The winners of the 2022 Polari Prizes, "the U.K.'s only awards celebrating literature exploring the LGBTQ+ experience," are:

Overall: C+nto & Othered Poems by Joelle Taylor
First Book: Deep Sniff by Adam Zmith
Inaugural Children's and YA: Nen and the Lonely Fisherman by Ian Eagleton and James Mayhew


Attainment: New Titles Out Next Week

Selected new titles appearing next Tuesday, November 22:

The Whittiers: A Novel by Danielle Steel (Delacorte, $28.99, 9781984821836) reunites six adult children after their parents die.

The Choice by Nora Roberts (St. Martin's Press, $29.99, 9781250272720) concludes the Dragon Heart Legacy fantasy trilogy.

A Christmas Memory by Richard Paul Evans (Gallery Books, $17.99, 9781982177447) follows a young man in 1967 whose family is beset by tragedy.

She and Her Cat: Stories by Makoto Shinkai and Naruki Nagakawa, trans. by Ginny Tapley Takemori (Atria, $24, 9781982165741) contains four interconnected stories about women and their cats.

Finale: Late Conversations with Stephen Sondheim by D.T. Max (Harper, $20.99, 9780063279810) uses interviews from an attempted New Yorker profile interrupted by Sondheim's death.

One Jump at a Time: My Story by Nathan Chen (Harper, $25.99, 9780063280526) is the memoir of an Olympic figure skater.

Pride of a Nation: A Celebration of the U.S. Women's National Soccer Team by Gwendolyn Oxenham, et al. (Ten Speed Press, $35, 9781984860842) chronicles four decades of the U.S. Women's National Soccer Team.

At Midnight: 15 Beloved Fairytales Reimagined edited by Dahlia Adler (Flatiron, $19.99, 9781250806024) is a YA collection of original and retold fairytales.

Caste (Young Adult Edition) by Isabel Wilkerson (Delacorte, $18.99, 9780593427941) is an adaptation of the adult book for young readers.

Paperbacks:
Leopard's Scar by Christine Feehan (Berkley, $8.99, 9780593439197).

Windswept & Interesting: My Autobiography by Billy Connolly (Two Roads, $17.99, 9781529318272).

Eyes of the Void by Adrian Tchaikovsky (Orbit, $17.99, 9780316705912).

Death Draws Five: A Wild Cards Novel by George R.R. Martin and John Jos. Miller (Tor, $18.99, 9781250227249).


IndieBound: Other Indie Favorites

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

Hardcover
White Horse: A Novel by Erika T. Wurth (Flatiron, $27.99, 9781250847652). "Such a great horror story about family, friendship, and facing your demons. After finishing this one, I have a strong desire to reread The Shining and blast some Megadeth. I'm excited to see what Erika T. Wurth writes next!" --John Cauley, The Doylestown & Lahaska Bookshops, Doylestown, Pa.

Gilded Mountain: A Novel by Kate Manning (Scribner, $28, 9781982160944). "An epic tale! Sylvie Pelletier is the daughter of a mine worker in early 1900s Colorado. She glimpses how the wealthy owners live and is changed forever. A full-bodied historical novel relatable to today's issues of wage inequality." --Paula Frank, The Toadstool Bookshop, Nashua, N.H.

Paperback
The Islands: Stories by Dionne Irving (Catapult, $16.95, 9781646220663). "The Jamaican diaspora is so diverse, far from the stereotypes of Bob Marley and marijuana. The Islands depict colonialism, migration, and the immigrant experience. For readers of Anthony Veasna So, Ye Chun, and Nicole Dennis-Benn." --Audrey Huang, Belmont Books, Belmont, Mass.

For Ages 4 to 8
The Talk by Alicia D. Williams, illus. by Briana Mukodiri Uchendu (Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy, $18.99, 9781534495296). "This is a talk I never needed to have with my children, but kids all over America need. EVERYONE should read this book so we can understand our prejudices, learn from them, and correct them. The illustrations bring a somber topic lightness." --Carolyn Roys, Anderson's Bookshops, Naperville, Ill.

For Ages 8 to 12: An Indies Introduce Title
Hazel Hill Is Gonna Win This One by Maggie Horne (Clarion, $16.99, 9780358664703). "Hazel Hill is Gonna Win This One deftly balances real social issues--sexuality, bullying, kids not being taken seriously by adults--with an enjoyable middle grade adventure about friendship and standing up for what's right." --Carol Schneck Varner, Schuler Books, Okemos, Mich.

For Teen Readers
Strike the Zither (Kingdom of Three #1) by Joan He (Roaring Brook Press, $18.99, 9781250258588). "I was totally enthralled with Strike the Zither! It's exciting and intriguing, full of fierce women who display their own brand of strength and intelligence. The twists and reveals made me gasp out loud. I can't wait for the next volume!" --Ann Branson, Beach Books, Seaside, Ore.

[Many thanks to IndieBound and the ABA!]


Book Review

Review: Your Hearts, Your Scars

Your Hearts, Your Scars by Adina Talve-Goodman, Sarika Talve-Goodman and Hannah Tinti, editors (Bellevue Literary Press, $17.99 paperback, 144p., 9781954276055, January 24, 2023)

Adina Talve-Goodman was the managing editor of One Story literary magazine in Brooklyn, N.Y. She grew up a daughter of rabbis in St. Louis and had a heart transplant at age 19, necessitated by one of several congenital conditions. In seven poignant interlocking essays, assembled posthumously by her sister and a colleague, Talve-Goodman ponders the precariousness of life for the chronically ill and disabled.

A version of the opening essay, "I Must Have Been that Man" won Bellevue Literary Review's Nonfiction Prize. Talve-Goodman remembers that, one day during college, she came across a disabled man who hung out near her favorite café and commented on her reading. His electric wheelchair had shorted in the rain and toppled; thanks to her new heart, she was strong enough to right the chair and try to help him up. Uncanny encounters recur in later essays: one in the second person, in which she's cornered by a man whose wife died of heart failure; another where she frets she's being ungrateful to her donor if she forgets to take her anti-rejection pills on time, but is reassured by meeting someone who had a heart transplant 14 years before.

Talve-Goodman voices concern about potential romantic partners' reactions to her medical history: "I had come so close to death that sometimes I worry the smell of it lingers on my body." A would-be suitor insists he doesn't mind her scars--but alas, she's still in love with her high school boyfriend, who haunts "Should You Hold Me Down (Go On, Take It)." The flashbacks to their relationship are intercut with a biopsy she's having on her new heart--an uncomfortable procedure that somehow becomes erotic when performed by a young resident. Memories are corporeal here: in fact, she reveals that she kept her old heart in an urn, bringing it out to pass around the table one Thanksgiving.

When she was diagnosed with a rare lymphoma caused by immunosuppressant drugs, Talve-Goodman was attending the Iowa Writers' Workshop. She died at age 31 in 2018. Sarika Talve-Goodman's introduction discusses Adina's legacy and the compiling of this book; Hannah Tinti's afterword details the fellowship that One Story awards in her honor, to an early-career writer from a marginalized group.

This bittersweet book is a potent reminder: life and health are fleeting, so it's important to celebrate every milestone and pinpoint the moments of human connection that provide meaning. --Rebecca Foster, freelance reviewer, proofreader and blogger at Bookish Beck

Shelf Talker: A posthumous collection gathers seven poignant autobiographical essays about living joyfully and looking for love in spite of chronic illness.


The Bestsellers

Libro.fm Bestsellers in 2022

The top 10 bestselling Libro.fm audiobooks at independent bookstore locations during 2022:

1. I'm Glad My Mom Died by Jennette McCurdy (Simon & Schuster Audio)
2. Book Lovers by Emily Henry (Penguin Random House Audio)
3. The Paris Apartment by Lucy Foleyia (HarperAudio)
4. Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus (Penguin Random House Audio)
5. Thank You for Listening by Julia Whelan (HarperAudio)
6. Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin (Penguin Random House Audio)
7. Nona the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir (Recorded Books)
8. The Maid by Nita Prose (Penguin Random House Audio)
9. How to Be Perfect by Michael Schur (Simon & Schuster Audio)
10. How High We Go in the Dark by Sequoia Nagamatsue (HarperAudio)


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