Shelf Awareness for Tuesday, February 7, 2023

Algonquin Young Readers: the Beautiful Game by Yamile Saied Méndez

Berkley Books: Books that will sweep you off your feet! Enter Giveaway!

Feiwel & Friends: The Flicker by HE Edgmon

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers: The Pumpkin Princess and the Forever Night by Steven Banbury

St. Martin's Griffin: Murdle: The School of Mystery: 50 Seriously Sinister Logic Puzzles by GT Karber


Buy Buttons on IndieBound Changing to

Effective March 1, the American Booksellers Association is changing all buy buttons on consumer-facing marketing platform--and affiliated sites to link to Currently, consumers wanting to buy a book on IndieBound must connect with a bookstore before they can purchase a book. The ABA and Bookshop aim to make the process simpler and more effective, since most stores have "few referral sales" from IndieBound.

"The shift to buttons will help eliminate consumer confusion, improve data for the indie channel, convert more consumers, generate more revenue for booksellers (thanks to a simpler purchase flow and higher conversion rate), and optimize the impact of for independent bookstores," the ABA said in a FAQ. "With a united front, the ecommerce market share for indies can grow significantly.

Bookshop founder and CEO Andy Hunter predicted the buy button change could "generate up to 10 times more revenue for booksellers compared to current revenue from IndieBound." He added that the change will build on sales momentum, noting that "overall, the combined online sales of independent bookstores have grown over 500% since 2019."

Bookshop touted its many strengths: some 78% of its more than two million customers switched from Amazon, and its conversion rate for bookstore pages is 12%, three times the national average for e-commerce sites. Bookshop buy buttons are used now by many book publishers, media, authors and book influencers, with all those sales benefiting indie bookstores. And since its launch, " has generated far more sales per visitor and profit, for local bookstores than IndieBound."

Hunter noted that the switch in buy buttons was planned originally for spring 2020, just after Bookshop launched, but was postponed because of the arrival of the pandemic. will continue to feature indie marketing, the Indie Next List and Kids Next List, the Indie Bestseller List and the Indie Store Finder. IndieBound is separate from the IndieCommerce and IndieLite platforms.

The ABA FAQ aimed to address fears expressed by some indie booksellers about using Bookshop. For example, as to whether Bookshop is "a competitor to my store's website," the FAQ replied, " is an umbrella that supports all physical independent bookstores.'s marketing, partnerships, and advocacy have greatly increased independent bookstores' share of the online channel, increasing the size of the pie. is additive."

The FAQ added that Bookshop "does national marketing and brings over 1,000 customers to their bookstore finder every day."

Booksellers who want customers to buy from their site will be able to make Bookshop's bookstore finder link to their own e-commerce site.

The FAQ noted that bookstore customers who buy from Bookshop will still be known to the stores. Bookstores will receive those customers' "information, including their email address, after they purchase on," the FAQ said. "You are welcome to send them an email encouraging them to shop on your site directly in the future."

Bookshop and the ABA emphasized the close ties between the two organizations. The ABA was involved in the founding of Bookshop and owns 3.5% of the organization. Bookshop's seven directors include three indie booksellers at all times, and Bookshop has an advisory board of 19 indie booksellers. Most important, since it went live three years ago, Bookshop has raised nearly $25 million for indie bookstores. (Percentages of sales go either directly to indie shops or into a pool that's distributed regularly.) The ABA FAQ called Bookshop "a key factor in the profitability of many stores in 2021. The average indie bookstore net operating profit was 1.5%, but proceeds contributed an additional 0.9% to net income before taxes."

In related news, will soon have distributed $25 million to independent bookstores. Hunter commented: "If you had asked me three years ago, when had just launched, if we had a chance to deliver $25 million in support to independent bookstores in just three years, I would not have thought it possible. But here we are. More than anything, it demonstrates the love and support readers have for their local bookstores. It also makes us wonder, how much more can we do in the next three years? We believe that with the right strategies, cooperation, and execution, independent bookstores can grow ecommerce revenue exponentially in the next five years--substantially improving the viability and margins of the bookselling business."

Blackstone Publishing: Rogue Community College: A Liberty House Novel by David R Slayton

Let's Play Books, Emmaus, Pa., Opening Second Location

Let's Play's store in Emmaus

Let's Play Books in Emmaus, Pa., is raising funds to help open a second location, in the West End Theatre District in Allentown, Pa., the Morning Call reported.

Owner Kirsten Hess and her team are looking to raise at least $20,000 by March 30 to purchase fixtures, additional technology, hardware and software, for the store, which is slated to open on Independent Bookstore Day (April 29). Should they hit their stretch goal of $30,000, the new location will be "fully stocked with a fabulous inventory."

Hess told the Morning Call that the new store will reside in a 1,700-square-foot space at Tilghman St. and Cedar Crest Blvd. in Allentown. There will be a dedicated parking lot and the building is handicap accessible. It will carry a similar product mix of new titles for all ages.

Rather than go the conventional route of starting a GoFundMe or other crowdfunding campaign, Hess decided to collect donations through the store's website and implement a reward system where customers can earn their money back plus a little extra. For example, a customer who donates $110 will receive $120 in store credit ($10 per month), and donations over a certain amount will also come with memberships to the store.

When Let's Play Books opened in 2013, it sold only children's books. In 2016, it moved two blocks into a three-story row house; the move allowed Hess to expand the store's inventory of books, stationery, gifts and toys.

Semicolon Bookstore, Chicago, Ill., Launches February Pop-up

Semicolon Bookstore launched a pop-up shop Saturday at the Kimpton Gray Hotel in Chicago, Ill., that will run through the end of the month, Block Club Chicago reported.

Officially called "Narrative: A Semicolon Concept at the Gray," the pop-up carries books written by women of color. Among the featured authors are writers like Audre Lorde and Jessamine Chan, and a grand opening celebration on Saturday included giveaways for the first 100 guests, champagne, cookies and more.

Semicolon owner Danielle Mullen explained that the idea was to make the space feel like being in a "literal dream." She told Block Club: "When you walk in, you get how life feels on a normal basis, and it's black and white like the inside of a book. As you move through the space, you enter what is more of a dreamlike space that represents the work of women of color."

The pop-up is open from noon to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, and all profits from the pop-up will go to Parenthesis, Semicolon's nonprofit.

For Sale: Codex Books in Quincy, Ill.

Codex Books, Quincy, Ill., has been put up for sale. On the bookstore's website, the current owners noted: "If you've ever wanted to own a bookstore, now is your chance! The owners have loved keeping a bookstore in Quincy, but have an increasing demand with their original business and no longer have time to maintain the store." Codex Books relocated last September from Broadway St. to the old Kirlin's Building downtown at 532 Maine St.

The sale includes all inventory, fixtures and equipment--the entire business. Codex offers new and used books, a bubble tea bar, food and drink café, online sales and various retail gift items. 

"This is the perfect business to pivot more toward retail or food if you so desire. Cut what you want and keep what you want," the owners noted, adding that they "would be happy to be available for consultation after the sale is finalized." The asking price is $175,000, but negotiation is encouraged. For more information, contact Codex Books by e-mail at or phone at 573-503-1388.

G.L.O.W. - Galley Love of the Week
Be the first to have an advance copy!
A Forty Year Kiss
by Nickolas Butler
GLOW: A Forty Year Kiss by Nickolas Butler

A Forty Year Kiss by Nickolas Butler is a passionate, emotionally complex love story that probes tender places within the heart and soul. When 60-somethings Charlie and Vivian--married then divorced in their 20s--reunite after four decades, they are swept up by the very best of what their romantic relationship once offered. "Anyone who has ever thought about what might have been will find this book fascinating," says Shana Drehs, senior editorial director at Sourcebooks Landmark. "The story is a brilliant exploration of a second chance at love, always realistic but never saccharine." As Charlie and Vivian build a bridge from past to present, their enduring love paving over potholes, Butler (Shotgun Lovesongs) raises questions about how life changes people--or does it?--and delivers another heartening, unforgettable novel. --Kathleen Gerard, blogger at Reading Between the Lines

(Sourcebooks Landmark, $27.99 Hardcover, 9781464221248, 
February 4, 2025)


Shelf vetted, publisher supported


Black History Month: Community Curated Shelf

"Our February Community Curated Shelf is full of wonderful titles by queer Black authors hand-picked by Black, Bold & Brilliant!" Under the Umbrella bookstore, Salt Lake City, Utah, posted on Instagram. "Their team emphasizes how important it is to highlight the contributions of queer Black folks during Black History Month, because they so often go unnoticed. So this shelf is a celebration of some of their favorites! Buy any book off their shelf and we'll donate 5% to their chosen recipient, Iowa House."

Janis Segress Joins Elliott Bay Book Company as General Manager

Janis Segress

Janis Segress is the new general manager of Elliott Bay Book Company, Seattle, Wash. She was a bookseller and head buyer at Eagle Harbor Books on Bainbridge Island, Wash., for seven years before moving to Queen Anne Book Company as co-owner/manager/buyer. She was most recently national account manager at Thrift Books.

Segress is filling the position vacated by former general manager Tracy Taylor, who is now co-owner, and who said, "We are beyond excited to have Janis's expertise and knowledge at Elliott Bay, especially as we enter into our 50th year. We know we will be positioned for success for our next 50."

Costco Picks: Something Wilder

Alex Kanenwisher, book buyer at Costco, has selected Something Wilder by Christina Lauren (‎Gallery Books, $17.99, 9781982173418) as the pick for February. In Costco Connection, which goes to many of the warehouse club's members, Kanenwisher writes:

"Because February is a month known for romance, I have a suggestion for a romp of a read: Something Wilder by the writing duo known as Christina Lauren.

"Lily Wilder is ready to lead a group on a treasure hunt, when a man she used to love walks back into her life. Let the adventure, laughs and healing begin.

"This book is a lot of fun to read. It's full of twists, turns and the kind of surprises I don't often encounter in a romance novel."

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Mark Pomerantz on Fresh Air

Fresh Air: Mark Pomerantz, author of People vs. Donald Trump: An Inside Account (Simon & Schuster, $29.99, 9781668022443).

Good Morning America: Melissa Urban, author of The Book of Boundaries: Set the Limits That Will Set You Free (Dial Press, $28, 9780593448700).

Rachael Ray: Bobby Flay, author of Sundays with Sophie: Flay Family Recipes for Any Day of the Week (Clarkson Potter, $35, 9780593232408).

TV: Maame

Jenna Bush Hager's Thousand Voices and Universal International Studios are developing Jessica George's debut novel, Maame, into a TV series, Deadline reported, adding that George will co-adapt with screenwriter Yemi Oyefuwa (Everything I Know About Love).

"When I first read Maame, Jessica's voice leapt off the page," Hager said. "Maddie is a character so singular and unique."

UIS president Beatrice Springborn added: "Jenna's eye for incredible stories and Jessica's moving debut novel [have] all the elements for a wonderful series."

Books & Authors

Awards: Rathbones Folio Shortlists

Shortlists have been announced for the 2023 Rathbones Folio Prize, which recognizes "works of literature in which the subjects being explored achieve their most perfect and thrilling expression." The winner in each of the three categories--fiction, nonfiction and poetry--receives a £2,000 (about $2,410) prize; the overall winner, receives an additional £30,000 ($36,160). To see the shortlisted titles, click here.

Book Review

Review: What Happened to Ruthy Ramirez

What Happened to Ruthy Ramirez by Claire Jimenez (Grand Central, $28 hardcover, 240p., 9781538725962, March 7, 2023)

Claire Jimenez's first novel, What Happened to Ruthy Ramirez, brings to life a close but troubled Puerto Rican family in Staten Island, N.Y., carrying on but rocked by loss. "The five of us seem normal for a while, up until Ruthy turns thirteen and disappears.... Draw my mother sixty-two pounds later. Give her diabetes. Kill my dad. Cut a hole in the middle of the timeline. Eliminate the canvas. Destroy any type of logic. There is no such thing now as a map." No one ever figured out what happened on the day Ruthy didn't come home from track practice on the S48 bus as expected.

More than a decade later, Nina, the baby, is "blessed with the brilliant luck of graduating [from college] into the 2008 recession," the first in her family to attend college but now returned home to live with her mother and work at the mall selling lingerie. Jessica, the eldest, lives with her boyfriend and their baby; she works as a patient care technician at the hospital, harried and tired but proud of her work. Their mother, Dolores, depends on her relationship with God and the church. What Happened to Ruthy Ramirez unfolds in alternating chapters, through the first-person perspectives of these four central characters: Nina, Jessica and Dolores in the late 2000s and the stormy, troubled 13-year-old Ruthy in 1996 when she disappeared. The latter is all attitude: You really want to know what happened to Ruthy Ramirez, she asks? Most people "think they got it all figured out, about who I am and what happened. Whatever, who cares? Not me, I promise you." She describes the day it happened, the schoolgirl dramas and fights, whose pain appears superficial only from the outside. Years later, her sisters and mother struggle with everyday life and with moving on--until the day Jessica believes she sees Ruthy's face on a sordid reality TV show: the woman shares the missing girl's beauty mark, her laugh, the toss of her head, a couple of key phrases. And the remaining Ramirez family is off on a mission to recover their lost member.

One of Jimenez's greatest achievements lies in the individual voices of her narrators, crackling with life, wit, humor, pain and personality. Jessica and Nina wrestle with the complicated love they feel for their family; Dolores rants in a well-meaning but frustrated one-sided conversation with her God; Ruthy oozes teenaged bravado and angst. Readers will be tugged by hope and despair alongside these true-to-life characters. In the end, What Happened to Ruthy Ramirez offers observations about race, class, family and the fate of missing girls beyond its title character. --Julia Kastner, librarian and blogger at pagesofjulia

Shelf Talker: This debut novel about a family still searching for a long-missing daughter and sister brims with voice, attitude and yearning.

The Bestsellers

Top-Selling Self-Published Titles

The bestselling self-published books last week as compiled by

1. Emotional Intelligence 2.0 by Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves
2. War Room/Dailyclout Pfizer Documents Analysis Volunteers Reports by Amy Kelly
3. Forever Paired by Kathleen Brooks
4. Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert T. Kiyosaki with Sharon L. Lechter
5. Final Offer by Lauren Asher
6. The Perfect Marriage by Jeneva Rose
7. A Long Time Coming by Meghan Quinn
8. Never Marry Your Brother's Best Friend by Lauren Landish
9. Things We Never Got Over by Lucy Score
10. Jasper Vale by Devney Perry

[Many thanks to!]

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