Shelf Awareness for Thursday, April 20, 2023

Holiday House: Ros Demir Is Not the One by Leyla Brittan

HarperAlley: I Shall Never Fall In Love by Hari Conner

W. W. Norton & Company to Sell and Distribute Yale University Press and Harvard University Press

Clarion Books: The Man Who Didn't Like Animals by Deborah Underwood, Illlustrated by LeUyen Pham

Holiday House: Bye Forever, I Guess by Jodi Meadows and Team Canteen 1: Rocky Road by Amalie Jahn

Wednesday Books: Dust by Alison Stine


LBF2023: Publishing's Global Outlook

On Tuesday morning at the London Book Fair, the heads of the Association of American Publishers, the International Publishers Association and the U.K. Publishers Association convened to discuss the outlook of the global publishing industry. Philip Jones, editor-in-chief of the Bookseller, moderated the discussion.

Maria A. Pallante, president and CEO of the AAP, reported that in the U.S., sales have dipped a bit compared to the pandemic peak, but in most cases not dramatically. Audiobooks, which "really took off," earlier in the pandemic, have seen hardly any dip and are "still really doing well." Generally speaking, "print is still king," making up more than 75% of the market, and about 50% of print books "move over the Internet." Reflecting on the incredible surge in sales that occurred during the pandemic, Pallante doubted it was solely caused by people being stuck at home. "Really serious things were happening," including the push for racial justice in the U.S., and "everybody turned to books."

IPA president Karine Pansa said there were two broad groups of countries around the world. Those in the first group are countries where there is a tradition of and support for literacy, there is established infrastructure for publishing, and there is some level of government support. Publishers in that group are doing relatively well, while those in the second group, which lacks some or many of those qualities, are "still struggling." In many countries, she continued, 2021 was a "really good" year, while 2022 was "more difficult."

Nigel Newton, head of Bloomsbury U.K. and president of the Publishers Association, suggested that when looking at places where the market has turned down, the question should be, "why isn't it more down?" Though there have been some dips since earlier in the pandemic, compared to 2019, most everybody is "still really well up." And as the head of a publisher that operates in many countries, he pointed out that every market has its own unique conditions. India, for example, is "outperforming some of the rest of the world" in terms of growth, while Australia had "its own reactions to the lockdowns."

With the general consensus seeming to be that publishing emerged from the pandemic "pretty much in good shape," Jones wondered what was next for the industry.

Pallante advised publishers not to "rest in place" and pointed to attempts to weaken copyright laws and devalue the book as the largest threats facing the industry. She urged attendees to not let the book industry get turned "into a commodity in service" of other industries, particularly tech. A lot of the policy stress in the U.S. is about "making things available for free really fast," which she said puts author rights and exclusive rights in danger.

Pansa added that copyright and freedom of expression are the "two pillars" of the IPA, and there are "many areas" around the world where "copyright is in danger." In particular, the educational book market is more threatened in that regard. She discussed the importance of showing consumers the importance of publishers and their ability to create curated content, which "not anyone can do."

Asked during the panel's q&a portion about AI, Pallante called it both a challenge and opportunity. Publishers will have access to AI-driven tools that can help in almost all factors of the business, but there is the risk that companies outside the industry will try to use innovations in AI to "overtake" publishing. Initially, she said, it was "very concerning" seeing governments "racing" to create exceptions and give tech companies "carte blanche" to use things protected by copyright. The U.K. has already done a great job against that, she said, while in the U.S. things are "going slowly," with the Getty Images case—essentially whether it is fair use to scrape copyrighted images for use in AI—poised to be a "big test" for the courts. The industry will also need to continue to remind government that "art comes from humans" and human creativity has to be protected.

Newton, meanwhile, said he was of two minds about AI. On one hand, AI-driven tools have the potential to create a "huge competitive edge" for the publishers who get it right. AI could help with marketing, academic research, peer review, and the supply chain, and publishers should "embrace it" and be "front of queue." On the other hand, he remarked, "I think it really may kill us all." --Alex Mutter

 Treasure Books, Inc.: There's Treasure Inside by Jon Collins-Black

New Owner for Valley Bookstore in Jackson, Wyo.

Amy Ryan is the new owner of Valley Bookstore in downtown Jackson, Wyo. The Jackson Hole News & Guide reported that Ryan, who was born and raised in the town, "is now a member of a few exclusive groups of people. Not just bookstore owners who also happen to be published authors, but also people who seem to love their job completely." She purchased the bookstore from Wendy Dodson, who opened Hummingbird Books in Chestnut Hill, Mass., last year.

"I feel like I'm about the luckiest woman in the world. I have no complaints," said Ryan, who has also published six novels. She credited the chance to buy her hometown's longest-standing bookstore to her father, Donovan Ryan. He was a climber in the 1960s, who made some "smart business choices" before the small town became a big deal. 

Amy Ryan

A lifelong reader, Ryan studied anthropology and Spanish at the University of Wyoming, English literature at University of Vermont and writing at the New School in New York City. She has worked in Barnes & Noble, and intermittently for previous Valley Bookstore owners Wendy Dodson and Steve Ashley. The business was founded in 1949 and was located for most of its 74 years in Gaslight Alley before Dodson moved it in 2020 across from Persephone Bakery on East Broadway.

"Despite her constant contact with the book market, Ryan never really considered herself a business person," the News & Guide noted, adding that Ryan "almost didn't tell Dodson one day that she wanted her job. But, eventually, she did. And within a year Dodson was opening another bookstore in her hometown of Boston. The shot was Ryan's to take."

"I might learn this is a bad idea, but there are a few mid-list novels that I think are really just beautiful and wonderful and I want to keep them going," she said, noting that she also wants to give the community what they crave, including more YA and science fiction books, as well as a strong inventory in adventure and ecology, genres that do particularly well locally.

"The kids in Jackson are massive readers," she said.

Help a Bookseller, Change a Life: Give today to the Book Industry Charitable Foundation!

Paper Places Bookshop, Jasper, Ala., to Relocate, Add Coffee House

Paper Places' current home.

Paper Places Bookshop, Jasper, Ala., will be relocating from its current 4th Ave. location to a new space on the corner of 19th St. and 3rd Ave. this summer, almost tripling the number of books in its inventory and adding The Blend Coffee House, the Daily Mountain Eagle reported. 

Last month, the bookstore's owners, Josh and Crystal Odom, shared some early plans on social media for the move "to a much bigger and better location," noting: "Some of you may have seen some construction going on at the yellow building on the corner of 19th St and 3rd Ave beside Warehouse 319. This will be our new location. This new space will be about 4 times bigger and right in the heart of Main Street!"

The Odoms also expressed excitement at starting a collaboration with The Blend Coffee House, "bringing them back to Jasper and opening an entire coffee shop inside the bookstore. Nothing goes better than Books and Coffee!... None of this would be possible without the unbelievable support from everyone in our community over this past year of being open. Thank you so much to everyone who has supported and done business with us. We hope this continues and we hope more and more of you will come see us!"

International Update: Busby Named English PEN President; Reading Habits in Finland

Margaret Busby

Margaret Busby has been appointed president of English PEN, succeeding author and human rights lawyer Philippe Sands. Born in Ghana and educated in the U.K., Busby became Britain's youngest and first Black woman publisher when she co-founded Allison & Busby in the late 1960s. An editor, writer, broadcaster, and critic, she has also judged numerous literary prizes, including the Booker. She edited Daughters of Africa: An International Anthology of Words and Writing by Women of African Descent (1992) and New Daughters of Africa (2019), which also initiated a scholarship for African women at SOAS University of London.

"I am delighted to take on the role of President of English PEN, an organization supported by a vital community of writers and readers who, together, champion and celebrate courage in literature in all forms," Busby said. "It is an honor to join forces with the 100-year-old PEN movement, to play a part in continuing its legacy of promoting and advancing freedom of expression. Together with our colleagues in the global network of PEN centres and English PEN members, I look forward to helping enable the full potential of literature worldwide, with equality of opportunity for all. Freedom to write. Freedom to read."

Noting that it "has been a privilege and an honor to serve" as English PEN president for the past five years, Sands praised the "fantastic team, and the worldwide PEN movement, part of the vital effort to protect and promote freedom of expression for all writers and readers, more important than ever in our times. I am thrilled and delighted to pass the baton to editor and writer Margaret Busby, a remarkable, inspiring and distinguished figure who has transformed literature in the U.K., and will surely be a fabulous president."

Chair of trustees Ruth Borthwick commented: "Margaret Busby has always stood up for writers. For over fifty years she has blazed a trail as a publishing pioneer who has changed the landscape in British publishing. Her ability to spot talent that others deny and her persistence to see it recognized have shaped her life's work. Her humanity touches everyone who meets her. I can think of no better person to be our new president."


The 'Finland reads 2023' survey, which was carried out by the Finnish Booksellers Association and the Finnish Publishers Association, examined the reading habits of Finnish people. The European & International Booksellers Federation's Newsflash reported that, according to the survey's findings, Finland "is a nation of avid readers: 86% of respondents stated that they had read a book in the last four weeks. The average time the respondents spend reading is 5.36 hours per week. The survey also shows the growing popularity of audiobooks, with 21% of respondents reporting that they subscribe to an audiobook streaming service, marking an increase of 17% in the last two years. At the same time, three out of four Finns stated that they had bought physical books, either for themselves or as gifts, in the past year."


Masking up Down Under: Australian indie the Leaf Bookshop in Ashburton shared a precautionary message from the building: "Hi I'm The Leaf Bookshop, I refuse to accept that infections and reinfections are inevitable. I monitor CO2, ventilate my insides, run HEPA filters and give out free masks to protect our customers and staff. Stay safe everyone. #CovidIsNotOver." --Robert Gray


Image of the Day: Baldacci's Book Launch

Story & Song Center for Arts & Culture, Fernandina Beach, Fla., hosted David Baldacci on the release date for his latest stand-alone thriller, Simply Lies (Grand Central). Baldacci was in conversation with Story & Song co-founder Mark Kaufman. More than 125 fans--some of whom had read every book Baldacci has written--attended the event.

Storefront Window Display: Powell's Books

"#LoveIsBlind reunion? You're all talking about the blind date with a poet window at Powell's on Hawthorne right?" Powell's Books, Portland, Ore., asked in sharing photos of the shop's storefront window display, featuring a chalkboard message: "Love is blind, but poets are cute. Celebrate National Poetry Month by going on a blind date with a (poetry) book." 

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Neil DeGrasse Tyson on Drew Barrymore

Drew Barrymore Show: Neil DeGrasse Tyson, author of Starry Messenger: Cosmic Perspectives on Civilization (Holt, $28.99, 9781250861504).

TV: All the Light We Cannot See

Netflix had released a teaser trailer for All The Light We Cannot See, based on Anthony Doerr's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel. Shawn Levy (The Adam Project, Deadpool 3) directed all four episodes of the limited series, which will premiere November 2. Steven Knight, creator of Peaky Blinders, adapted the book for TV.

The cast includes Louis Hofmann (Dark), Mark Ruffalo (The Adam Project, The Avengers films), Lars Eidinger (Babylon Berlin, Irma Vep), Hugh Laurie (Tehran, Catch-22), and Marion Bailey (The Crown, Endeavour). The series introduces actresses Aria Mia Loberti as Marie-Laure LeBlanc and Nell Sutton as Young Marie-Laure.

Shawn Levy, Dan Levine, and Josh Barry of 21 Laps Entertainment serve as executive producers on the series. Knight also serves as an executive producer. Joe Strechay (See, The OA) serves as associate producer, blindness and accessibility consultant.

This Weekend on Book TV: The Los Angeles Times Festival of Books

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, April 22
10:40 a.m. Diana Parsell, author of Eliza Scidmore: The Trailblazing Journalist Behind Washington's Cherry Trees (Oxford University Press, $31.78, 9780198869429).

1:25 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Live coverage of the 2023 Los Angeles Times Festival of Books at the University of Southern California. Highlights include:

  • 1:25 p.m. A discussion on America's history of racial division with James Kirchick, author of Secret City, Kelly Hernandez, author of Bad Mexicans, Edward Larson, author of American Inheritance, and Donald Yacovone, author of Teaching White Supremacy.
  • 3 p.m. A discussion on major figures of the 20th century with Hugh Eakin, author of Picasso's War, Beverly Gage, author of G-Man, Jennifer Homans, author of Mr. B, and David Maraniss, author of Path Lit By Lightning.
  • 4:30 p.m. A discussion on American law enforcement with Justin Brooks, author of You Might Go to Prison, Even Though You're Innocent, Kristin Henning, author of The Rage of Innocence, Toluse Olorunnipa, author of His Name is George Floyd, and Joanna Schwartz, author of Shielded.
  • 6 p.m. A discussion on the legacy of slavery with Kerri Greenidge, author of The Grimkes, Rachel Webster, author of Benjamin Banneker and Us, Kidada Williams, author of I Saw Death Coming, and Ilyon Woo, author of Master Slave, Husband Wife.
  • 7:30 p.m. A discussion on civil rights with Margaret Burnham, author of By Hands Now Known, Daniel Black, author of Black on Black, and Mark Whitaker, author of Saying it Loud.

Sunday, April 23
8 a.m. Mehdi Hasan, author of Win Every Argument: The Art of Debating, Persuading, and Public Speaking (Holt, $27.99, 9781250853479). (Re-airs Sunday at 8 p.m.)

10 a.m. Adam Benforado, author of A Minor Revolution: How Prioritizing Kids Benefits Us All (Crown, $28.99, 9781984823045). (Re-airs Sunday at 10 p.m.)

11 a.m. Ernest Owens, author of The Case for Cancel Culture: How This Democratic Tool Works to Liberate Us All (St. Martin's Press, $26.99, 9781250280930). (Re-airs Sunday at 11 p.m.)

1:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. Live coverage of the 2023 Los Angeles Times Festival of Books. Highlights include:

  • 1:30 p.m. A discussion on narrative journalism with Nicholas Dawidoff, author of The Other Side of Prospect, Erika Hayasaki, author of Somewhere Sisters, Kirk Wallace Johnson, author of The Fishermen and the Dragon, and Ali Winston, author of The Riders Come Out at Night.
  • 3 p.m. A discussion on book bans with George Johnson, author of All Boys Aren't Blue, and Angie Thomas, author of The Hate U Give.
  • 4:30 p.m. A discussion on American capitalism with William Cohan, author of Power Failure, Rick Wartzman, author of Still Broke, and Erik Conway and Naomi Oreskes, authors of The Big Myth.
  • 6 p.m. A discussion on gun violence in America with Ryan Busse, author of Gunfight, Jennifer Carlson, author of Merchants of the Right, and Mark Follman, author of Trigger Points.

Books & Authors

Awards: Commonwealth Short Story Shortlists

Commonwealth Foundation Creatives has released the shortlist for the 2023 Commonwealth Short Story Prize. This year's shortlist was chosen by the international judging panel from more than 6,600 submissions. Regional winners, who each receive £2,500 (about $3,110), will be revealed May 17, and the overall winner, who receives £5,000 (about $6,220), will be named June 27. See the complete list of finalists here.

Chair of the judges, Pakistani writer and translator Bilal Tanweer, said: "This year’s shortlist is a concert of voices from across the Commonwealth, showcasing the richness of its writing traditions, histories, and perspectives. These stories brim with the energy and urgency of the present moment--read them to experience the beat and pulse of contemporary storytelling."

Attainment: New Titles Out Next Week

Selected new titles appearing next Tuesday, April 25:

Red Team Blues by Cory Doctorow (Tor, $27.99, 9781250865847) is a technothriller about cryptocurrency.

In the Lives of Puppets by TJ Klune (Tor, $28.99, 9781250217448) is a fantasy adventure inspired by Pinocchio.

The Body by the Sea by Jean-Luc Bannalec (Minotaur, $27.99, 9781250840974) is the eighth Brittany Mystery with Commissaire Georges Dupin.

Breakneck by Marc Cameron (Kensington, $27, 9781496737618) is the fifth thriller with deputy U.S. Marshal Arliss Cutter.

Don't Tell Anybody the Secrets I Told You: A Memoir by Lucinda Williams (Crown, $28.99, 9780593136492) records the life of the singer/songwriter.

The Ugly History of Beautiful Things: Essays on Desire and Consumption by Katy Kelleher (Simon & Schuster, $27.99, 9781982179359) addresses items like makeup, flowers, perfume and silk.

Generations: The Real Differences Between Gen Z, Millennials, Gen X, Boomers, and Silents--and What They Mean for America's Future by Jean M. Twenge (Atria, $32.50, 9781982181611) explores the differences between generations of Americans.

Fire on the Levee: The Murder of Henry Glover and the Search for Justice after Hurricane Katrina by Jared Fishman (Hanover Square Press, $29.99, 9781335429261) uncovers one of the murders committed by police in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

This Delicious Death by Kayla Cottingham (Sourcebooks Fire, $11.99, 9781728236445) is a YA novel in which four ex-zombie best friends discover their hunger for flesh has been reawakened.

Grandad's Pride by Harry Woodgate (Little Bee, $18.99, 9781499814613) is a stand-alone follow up picture book to Grandad's Camper, in which Grandad and Milly start a pride parade.

Rising Tiger by Brad Thor (Pocket, $10.99, 9781982182168).

Lessons from the Covid War: An Investigative Report by Covid Crisis Group (PublicAffairs, $18.99, 9781541703803).

The Escape Artist: The Man Who Broke Out of Auschwitz to Warn the World by Jonathan Freedland (Harper, $19.99, 9780063112360).

Vigil Harbor: A Novel by Julia Glass (Anchor, $18, 9781101873588).

Adriatic: A Concert of Civilizations at the End of the Modern Age by Robert D. Kaplan (Random House, $18.99, 9780399591051).

IndieBound: Other Indie Favorites

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

Hardcover: An Indies Introduce Title
Wandering Souls: A Novel by Cecile Pin (Holt, $26.99, 9781250863461). "A slim novel, but there is so much here that I just love--beautiful language, devastating subject, and exquisite structure--there is something urgent about the way Pin tells this story. She's created something special!" --Julie Slavinsky, Warwick's, La Jolla, Calif.

The Angel Maker: A Novel by Alex North (Celadon, $28.99, 9781250757869). "What a suspenseful read! I was obsessed with The Whisper Man and this new book held up. I can't wait to show this to our customers who love suspense and horror." --Jessica Jones, Browseabout Books, Rehoboth Beach, Del.

The Cartographers: A Novel by Peng Shepherd (Morrow, $19.99, 9780062910707). "A can't-put-it-down immersive magical mystery that kept me up late to read. Anyone with an affinity for antique maps, the New York Public Library, and twisty-turny reveals will dig this. Highly entertaining with a superb cast of characters." --Cheri Anderson, The Bookloft, Great Barrington, Mass.

For Ages 4 to 8
The Fantastic Bureau of Imagination by Brad and Kristi Montague (Dial, $18.99, 9780593323472). "The Department of Dreams, The Cave of Untold Stories, The Planetarium of Possibility, these are all divisions of the FBI. Yep--The Fantastic Bureau of Imagination. Whoosh down the whoosh-scilator and dive into fun and imagination." --Angie Tally, The Country Bookshop, Southern Pines, N.C.

For Ages 8 to 12
Hanging with Vampires: A Totally Factual Field Guide to the Supernatural by Insha Fitzpatrick, illus. by Lilla Bölecz (Quirk, $14.99, 9781683693413). "Fitzpatrick covers everything from the origins of the vampire myth, to historical context, to the vampire in modern culture. Filled with interesting, bite-sized pieces of information, it's the perfect companion for a middle grader." --R. Aimee Chipman, The Bluestocking Bookshop, Holland, Mich.

For Teen Readers
Seven Faceless Saints by M.K. Lobb (Little, Brown, $19.99, 9780316386883). "A book fantasy fans will love. In a world where those favored by the Saints exploit those who aren't, two former lovers team up to solve a series of inexplicable murders and discover sinister secrets about their city--and about each other." --Bridey Morris, R.J. Julia Booksellers, Madison, Conn.

[Many thanks to IndieBound and the ABA!]

Book Review

Review: Impossible People: A Completely Average Recovery Story

Impossible People: A Completely Average Recovery Story by Julia Wertz (Black Dog & Leventhal, $30 hardcover, 320p., 9780762468256, May 9, 2023)

Cartoonist Julia Wertz (Drinking at the Movies) makes comics that defy expectations, and with Impossible People, she offers a graphic memoir that tackles addiction, but with none of the expected dramatic highs and lows. The book opens boldly with a single panel depicting Wertz stranded after crashing a rental car in Puerto Rico and the simple phrase: "What the fuck." As the narrative flashes back to four years earlier, readers might assume they know what's going on--a drunk Wertz crashes her car, and realizes she has a problem. But in the comic, as in life, it's not that simple.

The flashback rewinds to a doctor's visit where 26-year-old Wertz admits to drinking two bottles of wine a night and the doctor replies, "You need to quit drinking so you're not dead by 30." For some, that would be the dramatic low they need to take steps toward sobriety, but the path is not always so linear. Moving through the next four years, Wertz perfectly captures the oscillation between wanting to quit drinking and being unable to, a dance familiar to many who struggle with addiction. She knows she has a problem, but she's not as bad as her brother, who regularly overdoses before seeking treatment and getting sober. By contrast, she has a quiet and dull life, even if it is one dominated by a need to drink to the point of blacking out every night.

Despite these difficult elements, Impossible People is decidedly funny. Conversations with her brother (now clean) punctuate the book and are simultaneously encouraging and hilarious. So are Wertz's attempts to date or simply interact with other humans (her brother asks, "Why are you hiding inside your clothes?" when she awkwardly tries to make herself attractive to a stranger at the airport). The book is also uncommonly beautiful. Wertz proved her skill at architectural drawing in Tenements, Towers & Trash, and here she uses meticulously observed and finely crafted city scenes as a backdrop to her story. The contrast between the deceptively simple panels focused on dialogue or relationships and the heavily detailed storefronts and streetscapes is incredibly effective, helping readers to see, as Wertz does, the beauty of "little scenes of everyday life."

Calling her story "completely average," Wertz has created a book that will speak to readers universally, regardless of their relationship with alcoholism and sobriety. But for those who have experience with addiction and recovery, this book is a remarkable act of generosity and community that could actually save lives. --Sara Beth West, freelance reviewer and librarian

Shelf Talker: Impossible People's humor and honesty will appeal to readers universally, but for those in addiction and recovery circles, it is an act of generosity that might actually save lives.

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