Shelf Awareness for Monday, April 10, 2023

Union Square Kids: The Door That Had Never Been Opened Before by Mrs. and Mr. MacLeod

Shadow Mountain: The Queen and the Knave (Proper Romance Victorian) by Sarah M. Eden

Andrews McMeel Publishing: The Wheel of the Year: An Illustrated Guide to Nature's Rhythms by Fiona Cook, illustrated by Jessica Roux

Tor Nightfire: What Feasts at Night (Sworn Soldier #2) by T. Kingfisher

Amulet Books: Nightbane (the Lightlark Saga Book 2) by Alex Aster


B&N Education Employees at Rutgers Store Unionizing

Barnes & Noble Education employees at the Rutgers University store in New Brunswick, N.J., are looking to unionize, BNN Bloomberg reported.

Late last week, a group of about 70 employees informed management of their intentions and plan to submit a filing asking the U.S. National Labor Relations Board for an election. They hope to join the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, and they are seeking better pay, job security, and an end to "erratic and insufficient" work hours.

The unionization push began late last year, with B&N Education employee Elizabeth des Ranleau, who is part of the organizing committee, telling Bloomberg that things came together quickly. "We mostly employ students, and we have a bunch of students that are pro-union." She added: "They can't just replace us all."

B&N Education, a separate company from Barnes & Noble, operates more than 750 physical bookstores and hundreds more online stores. The Rutgers University store would be the first to unionize.

Flatiron Books: Anita de Monte Laughs Last by Xochitl Gonzalez

Kobo Expands Subscription Offering to U.S., U.K.; Launches Elipsa 2E E-reader

Rakuten Kobo has announced the U.S. and U.K. launches of Kobo Plus, the subscription plan offering unlimited access to more than 1.3 million e-books and more than 100,000 audiobooks for a monthly fee. 

"Kobo Plus has become one of our most popular offerings in the Netherlands, Canada, Portugal, Australia, Italy, and France, and it's our pleasure and privilege to be expanding the subscription service in the U.S. and U.K., so that readers can enjoy reading and listening without boundaries," said Bart Robers, director, audiobooks and global subscriptions, Rakuten Kobo.

Customers can access Kobo Plus via the Kobo Books app for iOS or Android and directly on Kobo e-readers. Three plan options are offered: Kobo Plus Read: unlimited e-books for $7.99 per month; Kobo Plus Listen: unlimited audiobooks for $7.99 per month; and Kobo Plus Read & Listen: unlimited e-books and audiobooks for $9.99 per month.

The company has also introduced the Kobo Elipsa 2E e-reader, featuring a 10.3" glare-free E Ink touchscreen, ComfortLight PRO and improved Kobo Stylus 2. The device retails for $399.99. Pre-orders are being accepted, and the device will be available in stores and online as of April 19.

Rakuten Kobo CEO Michael Tamblyn described the Kobo Elipsa 2E with upgraded Kobo Stylus 2 as "the latest step in our journey to make reading lives better, bridging gaps between print and digital books, and offering an unparalleled reading experience. We understand that, for many of our valued customers, reading is more than words on a page. It is about engaging with ideas. Marking up, highlighting, capturing inspiration in infinite notebooks of almost magical capability using a versatile, intuitively-designed stylus--these are essential for capturing the thoughts and ideas that reading inspires."

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Casemate Launches Brookline Books Imprint

Casemate Group has launched Brookline Books, an imprint "dedicated to publishing the rich history of southeast Pennsylvania and the greater Delaware Valley area." Brookline plans to publish five to seven books a year.

The imprint's commissioning editor is Jennifer Green, who joined Casemate in January 2022, is director of education for the Chester County History Center, and has a Master's in American History from West Chester University of Pennsylvania. Green is the author of Brookline Books' initial titles, Dark History of Penn's Woods and Dark History of Penn's Woods, Volume 2.

Other titles include the YA nonfiction title Charley by Brendan Lyons, the story of the youngest soldier to die during the American Civil War (August); Clarissa Dillon and Deborah Peterson's A. Cook's Perspective (September), a study of 18th-century cookbooks and the drama surrounding them; Mystery and Marvel by John H. Hepp IV (September 2023), on Philadelphia's 1876 Centennial Exposition; former NBC10 news anchor Timothy Lake's The Bergdoll Boys (September), a history of the notorious Bergdoll family; and The Darby School of Art by Mark W. Sullivan (November).

Casemate president David Farnsworth commented: "Brookline expands upon Casemate's dedication to publishing quality history, and we're proud to provide history lovers with stories that come from our own backyard. We've been working closely with local historians to shed light on Pennsylvanians' stories, which we believe are long-overdue for spotlight and broader interest."

Obituary Note: Mimi Sheraton

Mimi Sheraton

Mimi Sheraton, the food writer and restaurant critic "who chronicled culinary scenes in New York and around the world with a discriminating palate and deft prose that captured the nuances of haute cuisine and plumbed the mysteries of chicken soup," died April 6, the New York Times reported. She was 97. In addition to her work for the Times and several magazines, Sheraton wrote 16 books, including restaurant guides, cookbooks, a memoir, and "a farewell of sorts," 1,000 Foods to Eat Before You Die (2015). She calculated in 2013 that she had eaten 21,170 restaurant meals professionally in 49 countries.

Sheraton was the first woman to review restaurants for the Times (1976-1983), which noted that she "pioneered reviewing-in-disguise, dining in wigs and tinted glasses and using aliases for reservations, mostly in high-end places where people would have otherwise known her from repeat visits and lavished their attentions on her."

"The longer I reviewed restaurants, the more I became convinced that the unknown customer has a completely different experience from either a valued patron or a recognized food critic," she wrote in Eating My Words: An Appetite for Life (2004). "For all practical purposes, they might as well be in different restaurants."

Sheraton also reviewed foods served in schools, hospitals, and prisons, and consulted with those institutions to improve their menus. Her frequent trips abroad prompted her to write about the cuisines of Germany, France, Italy, China, Russia, and Vietnam, and on markets and specialty foods. For her book The Bialy Eaters: The Story of a Bread and a Lost World (2000), she "scoured Europe, Israel and Argentina for authentic versions of the Jewish round breads sprinkled with onions and spices," the Times wrote.

Her other books include The Seducer's Cookbook (1963), The German Cookbook (1965), Is Salami and Eggs Better Than Sex? (with Alan King, 1985), The Whole World Loves Chicken Soup: Recipes and Lore to Comfort Body and Soul (1995), and The New York Times Jewish Cookbook (2002 with Linda Amster).

Workman Publishing tweeted: "We are devastated to share another loss this week--the legendary writer, food critic, and author of 1,000 Foods to Eat Before You Die, Mimi Sheraton. Mimi was a pioneer, shattering glass ceilings throughout her storied career. She was the first female food and restaurant critic for the New York Times, traveled the world reviewing food, and consulted with hospitals, schools, and prisons to improve their menus. Sharp-witted, funny, and with a palate that appreciated food in all forms from haute cuisine to street food carts, Mimi was a brilliant writer and a titan. We will miss her dearly."


Image of the Day: The Language of Trees Under the Trees

McNally Jackson, New York City, and Tin House Books launched The Language of Trees: A Rewilding of Literature and Landscape by Katie Holten under the trees at Elizabeth Street Garden in downtown Manhattan. The event also featured contributors to the book William Corwin, Nicole Davi, Amy Harmon, and E.J. McAdams, moderated by Georgia Silvera Seamans.

Personnel Changes at Dutton; Sourcebooks

Sarah Thegeby has been promoted to publicity manager at Dutton.


Cana Clark has been promoted to marketing associate at Sourcebooks.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Rep. Katie Porter on CBS Mornings, Colbert's Late Show

CBS Mornings: Rep. Katie Porter, author of I Swear: Politics Is Messier Than My Minivan (Crown, $28, 9780593443989). She will also be on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert tomorrow.

Also on CBS Mornings: Michael Gardner and Ava Gardner, authors of Daddy Dressed Me (Aladdin, $18.99, 9781665921954).

Dr. Phil: Dr. John Whyte, author of Take Control of Your Heart Disease Risk (Harper Horizon, $28.99, 9780785240693).

Good Morning America: Kristin Cavallari, author of Truly Simple: 140 Healthy Recipes for Weekday Cooking (Rodale, $29.99, 9780593578780).

Today Show: Laura Dave, author of The Last Thing He Told Me: A Novel (Marysue Rucci, $17.99, 9781501171352).

Movies: The Rule of Three

Screen Gems has acquired The Rule of Three, "an upcoming horror novel by Sam Ripley, a pseudonym for a well-established author," Deadline reported. Temple Hill's Marty Bowen and Wyck Godfrey (Smile) will produce the film, and are looking for writers to adapt "even as the novel's publishing plans formulate. Simon & Schuster UK will publish the book in June, and Emily Bestler at Simon & Schuster U.S. just pre-empted U.S. rights in a six-figure deal." Ripley is said to be a bestselling British author whose works have sold more than a million copies globally. 

Books & Authors

Awards: Christian Book Finalists

Finalists have been named in 12 categories for the 2023 Christian Book Awards, sponsored by the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association. Winners will be announced on May 9 at the ECPA Awards Celebration in Nashville, Tenn. The 72 finalists can be seen here.

Reading with... Eirinie Carson

Eirinie Carson is a Black British writer, born to a Jamaican father and Scottish-ish mother and raised in South East London. Her work is published in the Sonora Review and she is a frequent contributor to Mother magazine. A member of the San Francisco Writers Grotto, Carson writes about motherhood, grief, and relationships. Carson lives in Northern California with her musician husband and their one dog and two daughters. The Dead Are Gods (Melville House, April 11) is her first book, a memoir that explores grief, Blackness, and recovery after the death of a dear friend.

Handsell readers your book in 25 words or less:

A book that will break you and then put you back together about Black sisterhood, platonic love and grief. Bittersweet and important and unconventional.

On your nightstand now:

A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan

Favorite book when you were a child:

The Brown Fairy Book by Andrew Lang. It was a compilation of fairytale folk stories from different cultures and the book we read had intricate, Victorian-era, hand-painted illustrations. It was full of wayward princes being lured away from their virginal brides by water dwelling nymph-witches, equal parts thrilling and terrifying.

Your top five authors:

James Baldwin, Zadie Smith, Jane Austen, Chinua Achebe, Toni Morrison

Book you've faked reading:

Does everyone say War and Peace? Because it's War and Peace. And Ulysses.

Book you're an evangelist for:

Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado. Friend and writer KC Chiucarello first gave me their copy of this book and I read it until we had to part and then I went promptly to the nearest bookstore, which, at that moment, was Crow Bookshop in Burlington, Vermont, and bought my own. I have, and will, send copies of this book to friends without warning.

Book you've bought for the cover:

Best of Friends by Kamila Shamsie.

Book you hid from your parents:

The Joy of Sex. It was actually from my mother's bookshelf and I stole it for purely scientific reasons.

Book that changed your life:

Jane: A Murder by Maggie Nelson. I read this in the middle of an early draft of The Dead Are Gods, at a point where I was feeling particularly unsure of where it was going. It is such a beautiful, raw, personal, and unusual tribute to Nelson's aunt, who was murdered in 1969 before Nelson ever met her. A mix of her aunt Jane's diaries, and Nelson's own writing, it was a blueprint for an unconventional book about grief.

Favorite line from a book:

"In spite of everything I love you, and will go on loving you--on my knees, with my shoulders drawn back, showing my heels to the headsman and straining my goose neck--even then. And afterwards--perhaps most of all afterwards--I shall love you, and one day we shall have a real, all-embracing explanation, and then perhaps we shall somehow fit together, you and I... we shall connect the points... and you and I shall form that unique design for which I yearn." -- from Invitation to a Beheading, Vladimir  Nabokov

Five books you'll never part with:

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath. My grandfather had a second edition of this book that he gave me years ago. It needs to be rebound but it's a gem in my burgeoning library.

Dancer from the Dance by Andrew Holleran. My dear friend William, who I met at a gym in the Castro in San Francisco, gave me a copy of this book after we had a pretty raunchy conversation about 1970s bathhouse culture in the Bay Area. It is a really gorgeous book that captures the era of being out and gay pre-AIDs, and portrays queer love in such a real way. Plus, there's disco.

Another Country by James Baldwin. Larissa gave me a copy of this when I was about 19 and it is one of those I read over and over at least once a year.

The Master and the Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov, which is funny in the way only Russians can be funny.

The Year of Magical Thinking, Joan Didion--the first book on loss I read after Larissa's death.

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

A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James.

Book you'd most like to write:

Probably the one I am working on now--a satirical thriller about a post-partum mother who decides to kill her husband. (Non-biographical this time, I swear.) Horror is such a fun genre to write after pouring my heart out for The Dead Are Gods, and there is no better source for horror fodder than the post-partum period.

Book Review

Review: For the Culture: The Power Behind What We Buy, What We Do, and Who We Want to Be

For the Culture: The Power Behind What We Buy, What We Do, and Who We Want to Be by Marcus Collins (PublicAffairs, $29 hardcover, 304p., 9781541700963, May 2, 2023)

Whether you're trying to sell a product, elect a political candidate or promote a cause, if you want to succeed, it's all about getting to the heart of your audience's worldview. That's the principal message of scholar and marketing veteran Marcus Collins's fascinating and fun For the Culture: The Power Behind What We Buy, What We Do, and Who We Want to Be.

Collins, who holds a Ph.D. in marketing, is a marketing professor at the University of Michigan's Ross School of Business and head of strategy at Wieden+Kennedy, a prominent advertising agency that includes Nike on its list of blue-chip clients. He skillfully marries academic theory and a wealth of practical experience to explain why efforts at persuasion rooted in brand features or value propositions ultimately are destined to fail. Instead, he argues, for anyone interested in motivating others to action, "no vehicle is more powerful than culture when it comes to influencing human behavior."

For Collins, culture is a "realized meaning-making system that is anchored in our identity (who we are) and made up of three elements: how we see the world, our shared way of life, and the creation of shared expression." These elements manifest themselves in entities he calls "congregations" (he frequently invokes religious imagery and makes a strong case for doing that) and their component units he calls "tribes," which are the aggregations of people that form the critical networks of influence that persuaders must tap into to succeed.

To advance his claims, Collins summons an impressive selection of examples from the marketing world, many of them from his own career. "Audiences buy products. Congregations buy products as evidence of their beliefs," he writes. As proof, he points to the success of Nike, Patagonia, and Apple; they have found the secret to generating intense loyalty in highly competitive product categories by appealing, above all, to how their customers think about themselves and not simply touting what they believe are the superior features of their goods. Collins's own work as director of digital strategy for Beyoncé; on projects like the campaign that countered local opposition to the relocation of the NBA's Nets franchise to Brooklyn; and on the successful Budweiser Made in America Festival (a music festival held on Labor Day on Ben Franklin Parkway in Philadelphia) lend credibility to his ideas.

Collins ends each of his chapters with a brief, helpful coda he entitles "From Know-Why to Know-How," offering specific action steps for implementing his theories. For the Culture concludes on a cautionary note, with Collins pointing out that the strategies he advocates are value-neutral and thus can be employed to sell sneakers or recruit members to a terror network like ISIS. This eye-opening book arms readers with a wealth of knowledge about how we make important choices and how to mobilize others using innovative tactics and tools. --Harvey Freedenberg, freelance reviewer

Shelf Talker: Marketing professor and advertising agency veteran Marcus Collins shares valuable insights on culture's power to move people to action.

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