Shelf Awareness for Tuesday, February 21, 2023

Viking: The Bookshop: A History of the American Bookstore by Evan Friss

Pixel+ink: Missy and Mason 1: Missy Wants a Mammoth

Bramble: The Stars Are Dying: Special Edition (Nytefall Trilogy #1) by Chloe C Peñaranda

Blue Box Press: A Soul of Ash and Blood: A Blood and Ash Novel by Jennifer L Armentrout

Charlesbridge Publishing: The Perilous Performance at Milkweed Meadow by Elaine Dimopoulos, Illustrated by Doug Salati

Minotaur Books: The Dark Wives: A Vera Stanhope Novel (Vera Stanhope #11) by Ann Cleeves


Welcome to Winter Institute!

ABA's Winter Institute is taking place in Seattle, Wash., this week, On Sunday night Shelf Awareness welcomed booksellers with a party at Elliott Bay Book Company. Pictured: (from left) co-owners Joey Burgess and Tracy Taylor (not pictured: co-owner Murf Hall) with Shelf Awareness publisher Jenn Risko and editor-in-chief John Mutter.

The ABA hosted the opening reception last night, sponsored by W. W. Norton & Company, which is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year. Pictured: (l.) ABA CEO Allison Hill and Norton chairman and president Julia Reidhead.

Hill said in part, "Norton has always been a publisher that we can count on to publish great authors and great books that stand the test of time. Norton has always been a publisher that independent bookstores could count on to help booksellers sell those books through innovative programs and supportive terms and amazing sales reps.... Norton has always been a publisher to inspire us to do great things."

Reidhead said she and the company's field sales force were at Winter Institute to celebrate the company's centenary with independent booksellers and "to thank you for helping us reach this milestone. We could not have done it without you... You know that reading adds pleasure and nuance to life. You know that reading is vital to a civil society. You sell books with skill. We share these values." She added that the company looks forward to partnering with indies "for our next hundred years."

As part of the Independent Publishers Caucus sessions on Monday, four events experts at three venerable indie bookstores gave a hopeful and enthusiastic talk about events and planning. "The reason we have events is not just to see your author, but to have customers buy the author’s book, two pairs of socks, and some books for their grandkids," noted Spencer Ruchti, events manager, Third Place Books, Seattle. Pictured: Moderator Jisu Kim, senior marketing and sales manager, The Feminist Press; Elliot bat Tzedek, events manager, Main Point Books, Wayne, Pa.; events coordinator Kait Heacock and Rick Simonson, Elliott Bay Book Company, Seattle; Spencer Ruchti. (photo: Matt Baldacci)

At the Independent Publishers Caucus, three reviewers based in Seattle spoke about book reviews, book festivals and other opportunities for publicists and independent publishers in Seattle. As Shelf Awareness reviewer Shahina Piyareli noted, "A great way to get your books reviewed--not just in Seattle but nationally--is to submit them to Shelf Awareness." From left: moderator Ruth Weiner, publisher, Triangle Square Press and publicity director, Seven Stories Press; Sarah Neilson, the Seattle Times; Shahina Piyarali; Paul Constant, the Seattle Times. (photo: Matt Baldacci)

BINC: Do Good All Year - Click to Donate!

Tattered Cover's CEO Spearman Takes Leave of Absence to Focus on Denver Mayoral Campaign

Kwame Spearman

Kwame Spearman, CEO of the Tattered Cover Book Store, Denver, Colo., will take a leave of absence from his position at the bookstore to focus on his mayoral election campaign, which he announced last month.

In an e-mail letter to "Tattered Cover Friends," Spearman explained his decision: "As some of you may have heard, earlier this year, I began my journey to become Denver's Mayor. As a Denver native and the CEO of our organization, I've become deeply concerned that businesses like Tattered Cover and employees who work for businesses like Tattered Cover will soon be unable to live in our neighborhoods. Our local economy is the lifeblood of our city's culture and authenticity. And if elected Mayor of Denver, I hope to preserve it.

"Accordingly, though, I need to spend all of my efforts and capacity to win this race. I also want to ensure that Tattered Cover has present leadership that can continue to grow our business into the community organization that our cities and state need. Subsequently, I am taking a leave of absence to focus on the race." 

Margie Keenan, Tattered Cover's CFO, will assume Spearman's day-to-day responsibilities and is working with the board of directors and other members of the executive team to ensure a smooth transition.  

"I want to thank you all for the support and love that you have shown since I joined Tattered Cover," Spearman wrote. "Your warmth and dedication to our business is what keeps Tattered Cover thriving. This note is surely not a goodbye. But I did want to keep our community up to date with my plans. Looking forward to continuing the dialogue."

GLOW: Milkweed Editions: Becoming Little Shell: Returning Home to the Landless Indians of Montana by Chris La Tray

B&N Launches 'Premium Membership' Program

Barnes & Noble has launched a "Premium Membership" program that costs $39.99 per year and features "offers, perks, and exclusives," as well as "everyday discounts and many more benefits," the company noted. The Wall Street Journal reported that in asking customers to pay an annual fee for a range of perks, the bookstore chain is following some of its competitors, including Amazon and Walmart, "whose respective Prime and Walmart+ programs offer no-minimum free shipping, among other benefits."

B&N is also launching a free, lower-tier membership program that allows members to earn a virtual stamp for every $10 spent in a purchase (10 stamps = $5 reward). 

Noting that both new programs "will give Barnes & Noble the opportunity to learn more about its customers--from what they read to when and how often they buy--so that it can pitch them more effectively," WSJ wrote that the offerings are loosely modeled after a membership program at Waterstones, which is also owned by Elliott Management.

"If you don't have a free program, the vast majority of your customers are blank to you," said James Daunt, CEO of B&N and Watestones, adding that with such a program, "you can learn what they are buying, and then promote to them and engage them." 

Daunt added that the new paid-membership program would replace a previous one, which offered discounts for purchases made inside B&N's physical stores--as well as free shipping for most online orders--and cost $25 a year. He estimated that at least three-quarters of the 5.5 million people currently paying $25 annually would sign up for the new $40-a-year program, and that number will be bolstered by new customers attracted to the Premium Membership.

G.P. Putnam's Sons: Four Weekends and a Funeral by Ellie Palmer

Astoria Bookshop, Queens, N.Y., Moving to Larger Space

Astoria Bookshop's current home.

Astoria Bookshop in Queens, N.Y., will move to a larger space later this year. 

Store owner Lexi Beach has signed a lease for a new storefront that is about 40% larger than the store's original location. It is a little less than a mile away, with Beach noting that it's "one subway stop closer to Manhattan and one street over." 

Beach explained that the new space's larger size was the "main impetus for the move," as the shop has "simply outgrown the space we're in." Sales have grown steadily over the past two years, and Beach and her team need more shelf space to carry a wide range of titles as well as more room to handle mail-order operations. The new location will also have a small back patio, which will give the store some expanded options for events and allow Beach to "do a little container gardening."

She added that she's been thinking about ways to expand since fall 2019 and started looking for a new storefront in earnest last summer. Beach is not exactly sure when she'll open in the new space, but is aiming for "mid-May at the latest."

Obituary Note: John Chandler

John Chandler

Legendary bookseller John Chandler, who operated a used and rare bookstore in Chicago for more than 40 years, died November 14, 2022. Born, raised and educated in Michigan, he moved to Chicago more than 50 years ago. 

In the early 1970s, Chandler opened a secondhand bookshop in Lakeview's North Southport, and a few years later moved the store to its iconic location at North and Wellington, renaming it Bookman's Corner ("Books: used, rare, well done" was stenciled on the window.) 

Chandler "was one of the last old-time used- booksellers: a familiar face at library and estate sales, house calls, second hand and charity shops, and he was even known to dumpster dive at other bookstores," his obituary noted. "His store was a book-hunter's paradise: bursting bookshelves (some of the bookcases dangerously leaned against the shop's windows), stacks of books crammed the almost impenetrable aisles, and John squeezed into his desk by the register, holding court and regaling customers with endless bibliophile banter. He had a wry sense of humor, a quick wit, and was one of the uncanniest purveyors of hilarious non-sequiturs. Despite various health issues and dependency on a cane, he operated his shop until shortly before his passing."

Chandler's customers delighted in his bookshop's various handwritten signs: "Effective immediately: no more two-bit deals"; "One dollar charge per book for why I'm not buying it"; and "a photo of an unpopular local antiquarian dealer with an X across his face, strategically placed on the door to the shop restroom," according to the obituary. "He was truly one of a kind. He will be missed, but his memory will live on in the affectionate anecdotes of his colleagues and customers."


Image of the Day: Lunch with Murphy & Dubus

Norton hosted a media luncheon at the David Burke Tavern in Manhattan for (l.) Finn Murphy (Rocky Mountain High, June 2023) and (r.) Andre Dubus III (Such Kindness, June 2023). The authors are wearing custom trucker hats created to promote Murphy's book.

Happy 10th Birthday, Queen Anne Book Company!

Congratulations to Queen Anne Book Company, Seattle, Wash., which will celebrate its 10th anniversary with a weekend long celebration March 4-5. Festivities will include gifts and giveaways, bags of sweet treats for all who stop by, photo opportunities, a Happy Birthday Wall of Wishes from customers, and the donation of 10% of the weekend's proceeds to the Queen Anne Helpline and Mary's Place, two organizations that provide essential services to children and families.

"This is our moment to thank the Queen Anne community for its extraordinary commitment to its neighborhood bookstore," owners Krijn and Judy de Jonge said.

In 2013, the de Jonges, longtime Queen Anne residents, joined with indie bookstore professional Janis Segress, who recently became general manager of Elliott Bay Book Company, to do what at that time seemed risky--open a bookstore to replace Queen Anne Books, the shop that had been shuttered four months earlier. Four veteran booksellers from the former shop returned to work their bookselling magic.

"The past 10 years are marked by the loyal support of this neighborhood," said Judy de Jonge. "Community is our watchword, first and foremost. We support our local schools, our neighborhood literacy programs, we host author events with local writers, and we are here day in and day out helping our customers find their next best book."

Queen Anne Book Company's staff includes children's book buyer Tegan Tigani, who is on the board of the American Booksellers Association and has been nominated to be president for a two-year term, starting in May.

Good Morning America, Reese Book Club Picks

River Sing Me Home by Eleanor Shearer (Berkley Books, $27, 9780593548042) is the Good Morning America Book Club pick for February. GMA wrote, "The book follows a mother in the early 1800s, Rachel, and her powerful journey across the Caribbean to find her stolen children in the aftermath of slavery. It offers a look at the ambiguities of British emancipation which left slaves tied to their masters for many years.

"Are any of Rachel's five children still alive? This question burns as the mother discovers what happened to each of her children, their differing experiences illuminating a little-understood time of Caribbean history."


The Reese Book Club pick for February is The House of Eve by Sadeqa Johnson (Simon & Schuster, $27.99, 9781982197360). Reese said the book "transports readers to 1950s D.C. and Philadelphia in this epic story about love, ambition, motherhood, race, and class as two Black women's lives intersect while trying to overcome their circumstances. What sacrifices are you willing to make to achieve your dreams?"

Personnel Changes at Scholastic; Macmillan

At Scholastic:

MacKenzie Kurtzner has joined the company as proprietary planner, sales planning. Previously she was a custom publishing coordinator for Penguin Random House.

Daisy Glasgow has joined the company as associate marketing manager, young adult. Previously she was marketing & publicity coordinator at W. W. Norton Young Readers.


At Macmillan:

Madison Dye has been promoted to inside sales representative.

Dylan Hamilton has been promoted to field sales representative.

Gwyneth Bechunas has joined the company as sales assistant.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Dr. Farzon A. Nahvi on Fresh Air

CBS Mornings: Dr. Lisa Damour, author of The Emotional Lives of Teenagers: Raising Connected, Capable, and Compassionate Adolescents (Ballantine, $28, 9780593500019). She will also appear today on NPR's Morning Edition and tomorrow on MSNBC's Katy Tur.

Today Show: Jessica George, author of Maame: A Novel (St. Martin's Press, $27.99, 9781250282521).

Tamron Hall: Justin Baldoni, author of Boys Will Be Human: A Get-Real Gut-Check Guide to Becoming the Strongest, Kindest, Bravest Person You Can Be (HarperCollins, $14.99, 9780063067189).

Kelly Clarkson Show: Bozoma Saint John, author of The Urgent Life: My Story of Love, Loss, and Survival (Viking, $29, 9780593300176). She will also appear tomorrow on Tamron Hall.

The View: Sen. Bernie Sanders, co-author of It's OK to Be Angry About Capitalism (Crown, $28, 9780593238714).

Fresh Air: Dr. Farzon A. Nahvi, author of Code Gray: Death, Life, and Uncertainty in the ER (Simon & Schuster, $27.99, 9781982160296).

CBS Mornings: Heather McGhee, author of The Sum of Us (Adapted for Young Readers): How Racism Hurts Everyone (Delacorte, $17.99, 9780593562628).

Also on CBS Mornings: Anne Glenconner, author of Whatever Next?: Lessons from an Unexpected Life (Hachette Books, $29, 9780306828706).

Jennifer Hudson Show: Sandy Yawn, author of Be the Calm or Be the Storm: Leadership Lessons from a Woman at the Helm (Hay House Business, $24.99, 9781401967680).

Tamron Hall: Robin Arzón, author of Strong Baby (Little, Brown, $18.99, 9780316493826).

Movie: Sontag

Kristen Stewart will play Susan Sontag in the tentatively titled Sontag, based on Ben Moser's Pulitzer Prize-winning biography Sontag: Her Life, Screen Daily reported. The film is directed by Kirsten Johnson (Cameraperson, Dick Johnson Is Dead), who is co-writing with Lisa Kron. The project is backed by Brouhaha Entertainment.

Stewart is president of the international jury at the 73rd Berlin International Film Festival, which is taking place now and where filming will begin before moving on to shoot in California, New York, Paris and Sarajevo.

"We're using Berlin as a moment to kick off the project and do documentary footage of Kristen as the head of the jury and talking to her about how she's going to become Sontag," said Brouhaha Entertainment co-founder Gabrielle Tana. "It will be a drama, but with a documentary aspect to it. Kirsten has a wonderful approach to storytelling, and this is reflective of that, so she will use documentary in it."

Books & Authors

Awards: Klaus Flugge Longlist

The longlist for the 2023 Klaus Flugge Prize, celebrating "outstanding newcomers to picture book illustration," has been announced and can be seen here. The shortlist will be revealed on May 17 and the winner in September.

Book Review

Review: Dust Child

Dust Child by Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai (Algonquin Books, $28 hardcover, 352p., 9781643752754, March 14, 2023)

Vietnamese poet, nonfiction writer and translator Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai's first novel in English, The Mountains Sing, was an internationally lauded bestseller. Her sophomore title, Dust Child, which began as her Ph.D. thesis, is an emotional story that follows families from opposite sides of the globe, traumatized by war and its aftereffects. Nguyễn precedes her fiction with facts: "During the Việt Nam War, tens of thousands of children were born into relationships between American soldiers and Vietnamese women. Tragic circumstances separated most of these Amerasian children from their fathers, and later, their mothers. Many have not found each other again."

Nguyễn introduces 18-year-old Trang and 17-year-old Quỳnh, sisters struggling to repay their parents' staggering debt to violent moneylenders in 1969. When a childhood friend returns to their village with stories of high-paying Sài Gòn office work, both sisters follow her to the city. They join her at the Hollywood Bar, catering to U.S. servicemen. To live through war comes at a high price.

Arriving in Hồ Chí Minh City in 2016 are veteran Dan and his wife, Linda. Being engaged to Linda when he served in Việt Nam didn't prevent him from loving, impregnating and deserting local bar girl Kim. Knowing nothing about Kim, Linda has convinced Dan that returning to now-peaceful Việt Nam will help him face his never-ending terrors. The couple meet Phong, whose father was a Black American soldier and whose immigration application through the Amerasian Homecoming Act was again denied. In hearing about Phong's life, tragic as it's been as a mixed-race orphan--a "dust child"--with an obvious "enemy" father, Dan hopes he might learn more about his own abandoned child. Surprising revelations are guaranteed.

Nguyễn moves the narrative smoothly over 50 years. Writing in English is "an attempt to decolonize literature in English about Vietnam," she says in a statement on her author website. Her careful storytelling challenges "Hollywood movies and novels written by those Westerners who continue to see our country only as a place of war and the Vietnamese as people who don't need to speak--or, when we do, sound simple, naïve, cruel, or opportunistic." Through compelling multilayered fiction, Nguyễn intimately humanizes war's victims, regardless of nationalities. Nguyễn also demands linguistic accuracy, long elided in English. "I always stripped diacritical marks from Vietnamese names and words, to make things look and sound easier," Dan confesses in a letter. "My Vietnamese teacher highlighted the importance of Vietnamese tonal marks to me. He pointed out that by writing Tài's name as Tai, I called him 'Ear' rather than 'Talented.' " Nguyễn deftly wields her own polyglot talents to reclaim lives too long overlooked. --Terry Hong, BookDragon

Shelf Talker: Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai turns her Ph.D. thesis into her sophomore novel in English, highlighting the extended families of Việt Nam War survivors.

The Bestsellers

Top-Selling Self-Published Titles

The bestselling self-published books last week as compiled by

1. Brokering Billions by Bonneau Ansley
2. Under the Naga Tail by Mae Bunseng Taing and James Taking
3. Finding Ashlyn by Susan Stoker
4. Emotional Intelligence 2.0 by Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves
5. The Perfect Marriage by Jeneva Rose
6. Hail Mary by Kandi Steiner
7. The Temporary Wife by Catharina Maura
8. Powerless by Elsie Silver
9. Things We Never Got Over by Lucy Score
10. Final Offer by Lauren Asher

[Many thanks to!]

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