Shelf Awareness for Tuesday, May 16, 2023

William Morrow & Company: The List by Yomi Adegoke

St. Martin's Press: The Last Outlaws: The Desperate Final Days of the Dalton Gang by Tom Clavin

Page Street Kids: Payden's Pronoun Party by Blue Jaryn, illustrated by Xochitl Cornejo

Annick Press: Dragging Mason County by Curtis Campbell

Flatiron Books: Where There Was Fire by John Manuel Arias

Peachtree Publishers: Buddy and Bea series by Jan Carr, illustrated by Kris Mukai

Tor Teen: The Hunting Moon (The Luminaries #2) by Susan Dennard


Arkana Books Arrives in Appleton, Wis.

Arkana Books, a new and used independent bookstore with a focus on underrepresented authors and stories, opened on April 29 in Appleton, Wis., the Lawrentian reported.

Owner George Dodge stocks a wide-ranging inventory spanning genres, including nonfiction, horror, science fiction, fantasy, romance, and YA. In all of those categories, Dodge has chosen to emphasize books by people of color, indigenous people, LGBTQ+ writers, and women. Dodge told the Lawrentian that they were inspired in part by the work of other indie bookstores in creating diverse and inclusive spaces.

The inventory is predominantly new, and Dodge plans eventually to start buying used books from the community once they get their bearings. Going forward, Dodge would also like to start hosting author events, book clubs and poetry nights, as well as raise funds for nonprofits like the Trevor Project and build a website for the bookstore.

Located at 800 S Lawe St., Suite 303, Arkana Books is not far from Lawrence University, and Dodge is open to hosting events and meetups for university students. "I'm happy to be involved. If there ever needed to be a space where Lawrence University students could come and hang out and talk about issues, have discussion panels, or anything, I want to have [that]... for anybody who needs it."

Further discussing their motivation for opening the store, Dodge noted that when shopping at places like Barnes & Noble, they could find titles by diverse authors, but such books were not often "obviously available" and usually "sprinkled in and hidden" among the wider inventory. Dodge added, "I want to change that."

Spiderline: An Ordinary Violence by Adriana Chartrand

Bookie's in Chicago Closing Homewood Store

Bookie's New and Used Books, Chicago, Ill., will close its second store, in Homewood, on May 11. The original Bookie's in the Beverly neighborhood at 10324 S. Western Ave. will remain open. Owner Keith Lewis shared the news in a recent Facebook post, noting that the decision had been made "for a multitude of reasons."

The Homewood store, which opened in 2018, was in danger of closing last September due to an "exorbitant rent increase," but was able to reopen in November at a new location, where Lewis partnered with the Rock Shop co-owner Laura Bruni to share the space. 

Lewis told the Homewood/Flossmoor Chronicle that even though he loves the space and went into the arrangement with high hopes, the businesses turned out to be incompatible. "An extreme difference in personality and business style made it impossible for this partnership to work," he said. "It was a very hard decision, but it is what's best for Bookie's and its employees." 

Noting the decision was difficult, Lewis said that he has no plans to try a third Homewood store, but did not rule out the possibility: "I'll never say never. It's disappointing to leave, but I will never completely close the door on Homewood." Lewis and Rich Wojcikowski, Bookie's Homewood manager, have looked at other locations but haven't found one that works.

G.P. Putnam's Sons: The Hike by Lucy Clarke

B&N Education Employees at Rutgers Store Vote to Join Union

Barnes & Noble Education employees at the Rutgers University store in New Brunswick, N.J., have voted to join the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union by a unanimous vote, Forbes reported. Last month a group of employees had informed management of their intentions and plan to submit a filing asking the U.S. National Labor Relations Board for an election. 

Rutgers B&N employees claimed they have "faced safety issues amid the rebound of the pandemic; workplace harassment; substandard pay for the industry below that of independent booksellers; unstable scheduling practices; a lack of structure when it comes to job duties and tasks, and favoritism by management," Forbes noted. These are issues they look to address at their first contract negotiations.

The RWDSU will represent approximately 70 workers at the store in contract negotiations, which will commence this year. The workers in the proposed bargaining units include booksellers, baristas, cashiers, and all non-supervisory employees at the store.

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.

Obituary Note: John Zubal

Bookseller John Zubal, founder of Zubal Books, which became one of the largest out-of-print book and back-issue periodicals companies in the U.S., died May 1. He was 83. Zubal began collecting books as a boy. His obituary noted that his fascination with the Tarzan series "spurred him to collect those, as well as other books, and then sell them at used bookshops on Cleveland's near West Side." 

Following graduation from Fordham University in 1961, Zubal earned a Master's degree in history at John Carroll University, but his "official" career began shortly after. While working as an instructor at Cuyahoga Community College, he continued to build his trade as an out-of-print bookseller, a side gig he ran with help from his wife and children from their Parma, Ohio, home. In the mid-1970s, he left teaching to commit fully to the book trade.

Originally called the Charterhouse of Parma, the business quickly outgrew its Parma roots and moved to various Cleveland warehouses until it found its final location in 1973 on West 25th St., where it was renamed John T. Zubal, Inc. and eventually became, as the obituary noted, "the largest out-of-print book and back-issue periodicals company in the United States, and, according to some, the world."

John Skrtic, chief of special projects and collections at the Cleveland Public Library, tweeted: "Was sad to learn of Clevelander scholar, historian and entrepreneur John Zubal's passing. He built one of the greatest book businesses in the country on the West Side of town. I enjoyed working with him over the years and will miss our meals together. Thinking of his family."


Image of the Day: Nosy Crow Celebrates

Children's publisher Nosy Crow celebrated its launch with an open house at its office in Lincoln, Mass., on Friday, May 12. The event was attended by families and book industry professionals, and featured games, food, and live music by debut picture book author Fred Small (Everything Possible).

Pictured: (l.-r.) marketing manager Ally Russell; editor Allison Hunter Hill; marketing associate Avery Cook; president John Mendelson.

Costco Picks: Happy Place

Alex Kanenwisher, book buyer at Costco, has selected Happy Place by Emily Henry (Berkley, $27, 9780593441275) as the pick for May. In Costco Connection, which goes to many of the warehouse club's members, Kanenwisher writes:

"Ever since Harriet and Wyn became an item in college, people have considered them the perfect couple. Except they're not. The two broke up nearly half a year ago, without telling their best friends.

"They and two other couples are at a Maine cottage where they've gone every summer for a decade. Harriet and Wyn can't bear to let their friends down with their personal news, so they opt to fake it for the week. How hard can that be?"

Personnel Changes at Hachette Book Group

Jeff Waxman has joined Hachette Book Group as a sales rep serving select indie bookstores in N.Y., Conn., and Pa. Previously, he was East Coast sales rep for Independent Publishers Group.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Samantha Irby on Fresh Air

Fresh Air: Samantha Irby, author of Quietly Hostile: Essays (Vintage, $17, 9780593315699).

CBS Mornings: Vashti Harrison, author of Big (Little, Brown, $19.99, 9780316353229).

Sherri Sherpherd Show: Andy Cohen, author of The Daddy Diaries: The Year I Grew Up (Holt, $29.99, 9781250890924).

On Stage: Nancy Drew and the Mystery at Spotlight Manor, the Musical

Nancy Drew and the Mystery at Spotlight Manor, a musical adaptation of the book series that has sold more than 100 million copies worldwide since it first appeared in 1930, is now in development, featuring music by Tony, Emmy, Grammy, and Oscar winner Alan Menken, lyrics by Tony nominee Nell Benjamin (Legally Blonde, Mean Girls), and a book by two-time Oscar winner Sarah Kernochan," Playbill reported. Three-time Tony winner and Pulitzer Prize recipient James Lapine will direct.

"After 175 Nancy Drew mysteries that span from her small town of River Heights to exotic locales around the world, the teen detective is about to tackle perhaps the most exotic locale of all to her: a musical theatre camp, Spotlight Manor," said Lapine. "Alan, Nell, Sarah and I have been having a ball letting Nancy and her pals take to the stage and sing for the first time."

Books & Authors

Awards: Dylan Thomas Winner; Indie Book Shortlists

God's Children Are Little Broken Things by Arinze Ifeakandu has won the £20,000 (about $24,900) 2023 Swansea University Dylan Thomas Prize, which honors "the best published literary work in the English language, written by an author aged 39 or under."

Chair of judges Di Speirs said: "We were unanimous in our praise and admiration for this exhilarating collection of nine stories. Arinze Ifeakandu's debut shines with maturity, the writing bold, refreshing and exacting but never afraid to linger and to allow characters and situations to develop and change, so that the longer stories are almost novels in themselves. Kaleidoscopic reflection of queer life and love in Nigeria, the constraints, the dangers and the humanity, this is a collection that we wanted to press into many readers' hands around the world and which left us excited to know what Arinze Ifeakandu will write next."


Shortlists in four categories have been selected for the 2023 Indie Book Awards and can be seen here. Winners will be announced on June 23 during Independent Bookshop Week, which is part of the Booksellers Association of the U.K. and Ireland's Books Are My Bag campaign. Winners and shortlisted titles will be promoted at indie bookshops in the U.K. and Ireland.

Book Review

Review: Sunshine Nails

Sunshine Nails by Mai Nguyen (Atria, $26.99 hardcover, 304p., 9781668010495, July 4, 2023)

Mai Nguyen's wickedly funny debut novel, Sunshine Nails, paints a layered, colorful portrait of a Vietnamese immigrant family working to save the titular nail salon--and their own relationships--from destruction when a flashy new competitor moves in.

Former refugees Debbie and Phil Tran have spent their adult lives working hard to keep their Toronto nail salon afloat. It's far from fancy, but between their devoted regulars and their efforts to keep costs down, they've managed to balance the books. Then right after their daughter, Jessica, moves back home from Los Angeles (smarting from a double-whammy setback in romance and career), a hip salon chain, Take Ten, sets up a location right across the street. Soon after, the Trans' landlord hits them with a big rent increase. Debbie and Phil do their best to fight the interlopers with the help of Jessica; their son, Dustin, who is wrestling with disillusionment about his job at Moodstr, a local start-up; and their niece, Thuy, who lives with them and works at the salon. But as they battle Take Ten's ruthless head of global expansion, Savannah, and her sleek publicity machine--not to mention the beautiful work done by her nail techs--the Trans start to wonder: Is it possible, or worthwhile, to destroy this new opponent? Or will the fight tear their family apart from the inside?

Nguyen deftly portrays the complex dynamics of this particular immigrant family: Debbie and Phil's fierce pride in the home they have built and the mingled love and embarrassment Jessica and Dustin feel for their parents. Thuy, whose parents sent her to live with Debbie and Phil so she could get an education, swings between resentment and loyalty toward her relatives; she's grateful to them but tired of being expected to work all the time. Nguyen's narrative focuses in turn on each of the five Trans, giving readers a window into each character's struggles: Phil's gambling problem and the guilt he carries from a past DUI; Jessica's shame at being forced to return home and watch her friends pursuing more glamorous careers; Dustin's frustration at being repeatedly passed over for promotion. Each of the characters will find themselves making some surprising choices in their quest to save the salon, and all of them discover that family loyalty--and their instinct for sabotage--runs deeper than they thought it might.

Sharp, witty, and warmhearted, Nguyen's debut tackles gentrification, small business ownership, prejudice in the workplace, and--most importantly--the depth of familial ties, and the power of a good manicure. --Katie Noah Gibson, blogger at Cakes, Tea and Dreams

Shelf Talker: Mai Nguyen's sharp, witty debut novel tells the story of a Vietnamese Canadian family determined to save their nail salon from a shiny new competitor.

The Bestsellers

Top-Selling Self-Published Titles

The bestselling self-published books last week as compiled by

1. The Stable Boy of Auschwitz by Henry Oster and Dexter Ford
2. Ward D by Freida McFadden
3. The Worst Wedding Date by Pippa Grant
4. The Inmate by Freida McFadden
5. Pucking Around by Emily Rath
6. Runaway Love by Melanie Harlow
7. The Perfect Marriage by Jeneva Rose
8. Accidental Attachment by Max Monroe
9. Things We Never Got Over by Lucy Score
10. Right Man, Right Time by Meghan Quinn

[Many thanks to!]

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