Also published on this date: Wednesday, May 17, 2023: Maximum Shelf: Let Us Descend

Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, May 17, 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


Bookstore Sales Rise 10.8% in March; 2022 Sales Revised Downward by 7.2%

In March, bookstore sales rose 10.8%, to $593 million, compared to March 2022, according to preliminary Census Bureau estimates. By comparison to pre-pandemic times, bookstore sales in March were the same--$593 million--as in March 2019. For the year to date, bookstore sales rose 11.9%, to $2.07 billion compared to the first quarter of 2022.

Total retail sales in March rose 2.6%, to $697.2 billion, compared to March 2022. For the year to date, total retail sales climbed 5.2%, to 1,935 billion, compared to the first quarter of 2022.

In a striking move, the Census Bureau revised bookstore sales for 2022, lowering the total by $646 million, or 7.2%, to $8.347 billion. That amount is still a gain of 4.1% over 2021 total sales of $8.017 billion, but not a 6.2% jump, as was earlier reported. And while the old Census Bureau estimate of 2022 sales showed a 0.4% gain over the last full pre-pandemic year, 2019, the new Census Bureau numbers for 2022 sales show that sales in 2022 dropped 6.8% compared to 2019.

Note: under Census Bureau definitions, the bookstore category consists of "establishments primarily engaged in retailing new books." The Bureau also added this unusual caution concerning the effect of Covid-19: "The Census Bureau continues to monitor response and data quality and has determined that estimates in this release meet publication standards."

Spiderline: An Ordinary Violence by Adriana Chartrand

Denver's The Bookies Bookstore to Relocate

Bookies' current location.
The future home of Bookies.

The Bookies Bookstore, Denver, Colo., will be relocating later this year to 2085 S. Holly Street after 35 years in its E. Mississippi Ave. location. The Bookies' owners recently purchased the nearly 13,000-square-foot building.

The bookstore will occupy about 6,000 square feet of space on the first floor, with additional warehouse space for future expansion of the nonprofit BookGive, and indoor parking for the recently acquired fully electric bookmobile. BookBar Press will also be joining the Bookies in the new building as it rebrands and expands to offer a variety of author publishing services.

"We'll be expanding on the concept that Sue Lubeck created in her home basement over 50 years ago, providing educational titles and materials to Denver families," said owner Nicole Sullivan. "Our new location will allow us to offer more programming and services, truly creating an education destination, while integrating our nonprofit and small press into our daily store operations. We are all so excited for this next evolution of one of Denver's beloved literary institutions and look forward to continuing to serve Denver families and educators for years to come."

The Bookies will be holding a large sale in the months ahead of the move, and anticipate being in the new location in time for holiday sales season. The new space will offer the same inventory of books, games, toys, and educator supplies, as well as gathering spaces for events, storytimes, book clubs, and readers. A grand opening will be announced at a later date. 

The building has been home to Lehrer's Fireplace and Patio outlet and World Taekwondo College for more than 40 years. While Lehrer's is consolidating into its other two locations, the Tae Kwon Do studio will remain. 

On the bookstore's blog, Sullivan wrote, "A new location was at the top of my list of improvements for The Bookies when I took this on. Running a small business is increasingly difficult--bookstores even more so with our notoriously low margins--and owning your own property increases the chances that your business will keep the doors open longer. We began looking for a building for The Bookies soon after purchasing the business, knowing that it would be no small task to find the right space in the right location. We didn’t want to downsize too much or get very far from our current community and loyal customer base. We also didn’t want to ask staff to commute farther than what they’ve been used to for so many years.... 

"Anyone who knows me knows that I love preserving stories and history so it is fitting that this building, truly a labor of love, is passing into the hands of another decades-old business known to many of Denver’s families. What started as a roughly 3,000-square-foot space has expanded over the years to now include a back showroom, warehouse and a second floor. This stand-alone building on Holly and Evans has great visibility, lots of parking, and is easily accessible from anywhere in Denver."

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

Fighting Book Bans: A Roundup

As books are banned in thousands of schools, school libraries, and public libraries, bookstores and others are fighting back in a variety of inspiring ways: 

Noting that the majority of the wave of book bannings target "stories about people of color and members of the queer community" and that "unsurprisingly, Missouri is one of the states where book bans have been most prevalent," the Left Bank Books Foundation, St. Louis, Mo., has expanded its Literacy & Justice Project, which provides certain banned books free to anyone who requests them. Under the program, donations to the foundation have gone to provide hundreds of copies of the following titles to people across the country: The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison, All Boys Aren't Blue by George M. Johnson, Heavy by Kiese Laymon, Fun Home by Alison Bechdel, and Maus by Art Spiegelman. And now Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe has been added to the list.

Donations to the Literacy & Justice Project have also funded initiatives like stocking Little Libraries in local book deserts, providing books to hundreds of underserved students through River City Readers and the Angel Tree Fundraiser, and providing an expansive program of free author events.

Left Bank noted that a $20 donation allows it to send a copy of a banned book to anyone who wants it, while $100 donations allow it to sponsor a student for an entire school year." A $2,500 donation allows Left Bank to sponsor an entire classroom.


Open Road Integrated Media has launched Free Voices, a marketing service "to fight book bans and enable challenged works to be discovered and purchased by readers everywhere."

Free Voices is open to all publishers with books banned or targeted for banning at schools, libraries, or bookstores. Each title will be featured in marketing vehicles that will reach highly targeted segments of "power readers" that have been identified by Open Road's data science and machine-learning technology.

Titles already featured include Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews, "Hello," I Lied by M.E. Kerr, Always Running: Vida Loca: Gang Days in LA by Luis J. Rodriguez, The Color Purple by Alice Walker, Annie on My Mind by Nancy Garden, and Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Brown.

"We could not believe more strongly in the First Amendment and the right to free expression," said David Steinberger, CEO of Open Road and chair of the National Book Foundation. "With Free Voices, we are going to fight book bans with the same proven ORIM marketing technology that already drives discovery and sales increases for more than 40,000 titles from over 100 publishers."

A portion of all proceeds from Free Voices will be donated to the Freedom to Read Foundation.


The National Coalition Against Censorship plans "Let Me Speak," a celebration and annual benefit for free speech and its defenders November 13 in New York City. Author, producer, and rapper Raj Haldar will host. Free speech defender award recipients include John Sargent, former CEO of Macmillan, and Juno Dawson, author of among other titles, the often-banned This Book Is Gay. Benefit co-chairs include longtime First Amendment lawyer Floyd Abrams and Audrey Barsella, communications manager at Sourcebooks.

Robert Morris University Switching from B&N to Follett

With its contract with Barnes & Noble Education expiring, Robert Morris University in Pittsburgh, Pa., is switching to Follett Higher Education and prioritizing online book sales. 

Per the RMU Sentry, students will purchase books online through the RMU Book Bundle program while the campus bookstore will become a spirit wear, merchandise, and school supply store. In addition to providing the books for the Book Bundle program and managing the redesigned campus store, Follett will also hold pop-up stores at various events on campus and manage new spirit stores that will be created in the next months.

"We all very much appreciate Barnes & Noble's partnership over the years and we're grateful for everything that they did," said RMU chief brand officer Brian Edwards.

International Update: British Book Awards Celebrated; New Book on International Publishers Association

Congratulations to this year's winners of the British Book Awards, who were named Monday night at the Nibbies celebration in London, with more than 1,000 guests in attendance. The show was also streamed online with three regional parties taking place. In the Book of the Year category, Menopausing by Davina McCall and Dr. Naomi Potter won the Overall Book of the Year, while author Salman Rushdie received the British Book Award for Freedom to Publish, the Bookseller reported. Check out the complete list of BBA Trade and Book of the Year winners here.

Griffin Books in Penarth, Wales, was honored as Independent Bookshop of the Year, with the judges noting: "It is a complete all-rounder that does everything so well. The buying is imaginative and successful... and Griffin works so hard in and for its community." 

The Book Retailer of the Year award went to WH Smith Travel, its third win of the prize in eight years. In addition to posting positive year-on-year sales numbers, the company's resilience and fresh ideas were praised by the judges, who said: "It is an impressive bounce-back from a very difficult few years." 

Two winners were chosen for the Children's Bookseller award. Round Table Books, Brixton, the community interest company founded by publisher Knights Of, was lauded by the panel as "a truly amazing business with incredible passion and commitment." The store's relocation in 2022 led to a boost in sales while its commitment to major outreach work continued. And Waterstones was recognized for its social media savvy, in particular its creation of BookTokFest, as well as its work with new voices, boosted by its Children's Laureate, Book Prize, and Book of the Month and Year initiatives. "They break books in a way no one else does," the judges said.

Carolynn Bain

Individual Bookseller of the Year went to Carolynn Bain, who founded Afrori Books in Brighton in response to lack of representation in British children's books and fueled by anger at the murder of George Floyd. The store has developed a variety of book clubs and workshops, films and exhibitions with local cinemas and galleries, the new Brighton Book Festival, and a pay-it-forward initiative opens access to books and events. "Carolynn has done life-affirming and absolutely essential work," the judges said. "She saw a situation and was not just a voice: she acted."  

Accepting the award, Bain said: "I keep getting up every morning and shouting from the rooftops that Black authors are doing incredible work and they deserve the platform, they deserve the acknowledgement, they deserve the space in this industry and Black people deserve to see themselves represented in books. Until that changes, I'll keep getting up, I'll keep doing 70 hours a week, I'll keep being in the worst paid job I've ever had but the best job I've ever had. And I keep hoping that that change will come.... Thank you to every Black author that has trudged through mud, treacle, just everything to go against the odds and get a book published and get it on my shelf."


The International Publishers Association has released The Fifth Quarter Century: IPA 1996-2021 by IPA past president Hugo Setzer. The new book details the evolutions of the book sector in general and the association in particular over the past 25 years, anchoring them in major world events, and featuring reactions and comments from some of the key people involved. 

"It has been quite an experience to be an author rather than a publisher," said Setzer. "The IPA has been such an important part of my professional life and it is vital that our association has a written memory of some of our major milestones. Thanks to all those who contributed."

IPA secretary general José Borghino added: "Hugo has captured the essence of IPA beautifully in this book, giving you a feel for the evolving nature of the challenges faced by publishers around the world and celebrating the extraordinary people who give up their time to make our association what it is."

The book is a sequel to International Publishers Association: The First Century (1996) by another IPA president, Fernando Guedes. Setzer's work, which is available as a pdf on IPA's 125th anniversary website as well as in e-book format, is published by Conecta, an imprint of Penguin Random House. --Robert Gray


Image of the Day: Carr Launches at Poisoned Pen

Jack Carr launched his sixth Terminal List thriller, Only the Dead (Emily Bestler/Atria), at The Poisoned Pen in Scottsdale, Ariz., with two sold-out appearances. Carr has launched all the books in the series at the store. Pictured: Carr with owner Barbara Peters.

Happy 30th Birthday, Mysterious Galaxy!

Congratulations to Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore, San Diego, Calif., which on Saturday celebrated 30 years of "magic, martians, and mayhem, embracing the store's history while celebrating the future."

Festivities included author panels on the importance of independent bookstores and on genre fiction, a story time, games, "speeches, group picture, and CAKE!" The store is also offering 30th anniversary mugs, tote bags, T-shirts, and sweaters.

Bookshop Video: Happy Get Caught Reading Month!

"Happy Get Caught Reading month!" Birdie Books, Westerville, Ohio, posted on Instagram along with a cute celebration video. "May is Get Caught Reading month in celebration of reading books and raising awareness on the advantages of books and literature, so get out there and read! Just don't get caught...."

Lerner Publisher Services Adds Two Publishers

Lerner Publisher Services has announced two new distribution agreements:

Lerner will be the exclusive book distributor for Scallywag Press in all North American markets.

Launched in 2019, Scallywag Press, London, publishes books by authors and artists from around the world, using sturdy and sustainable materials to create entertaining books with distinctive illustrations and a focus on emotions, empathy, and kindness.

Scallywag Press's inaugural list with Lerner features three picture books, including Loud!, We Planted a Pumpkin, and Eye Spy, a new version of the childhood game I Spy with beautifully detailed illustrations by author/illustrator Ruth Brown.

Lerner will also distribute select library bound children's series and single titles to the school and public library market for Mayo Clinic Press Kids, Rochester, Minn., effective August 1.

Mayo Clinic Press Kids books aim to empower young readers to care for themselves and their communities. Lerner Publisher Services will launch two Mayo Clinic Press Kids series, Helping Paws Academy and Edge of Medicine, and one single title, Period.: The Quick Guide to Every Uterus, in Fall 2023. All content is developed in partnership with Mayo Clinic pediatric experts.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Matthew Dallek on Fresh Air

Fresh Air: Matthew Dallek, author of Birchers: How the John Birch Society Radicalized the American Right (Basic Books, $32, 9781541673564).

Late Night with Seth Meyers repeat: Minnie Driver, author of Managing Expectations: A Memoir in Essays (HarperOne, $27.99, 9780063115309).

Movies: Nemesis

Panamanian filmmaker Abner Benaim (Plaza Catedral) will direct a film adaptation of Nemesis, the final book by Philip Roth published prior to his death in 2018. Deadline described the novel as "set in the summer of 1944, examining the impact of a polio epidemic on a Newark, N.J. community and its children."

Peter Glanz (The Longest Week) adapted the screenplay. Pablo Larraín, Juan de Dios Larraín and Andrew Hevia will produce for Fabula, the production company behind Foreign Language Oscar winner A Fantastic Woman, the Kristen Stewart film Spencer, and the upcoming drama Maria starring Angelina Jolie. Additional producers include Fernando Loureiro (Frances Ha, Our Son) for Tigresa, and Benaim.

Guilherme Coelho (Orphans of Eldorado) exec produces, with Carlos García de Paredes (Resistance) serving as an associate producer. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is providing technical support for the film.

Books & Authors

Awards: Irma Black Award and Cook Prize

Bank Street's Center for Children's Literature has announced the 2023 Irma Black Award and Cook Prize. A jury of adult educators, librarians, and in the case of the Cook Prize, specialists in science, narrow the field of candidates, and then children vote for the winner and honor books. This year, a record 14,000 children, from the U.S., Canada, Europe, and Asia, voted.

The Irma Black Award is given to "an outstanding book for young children in which text and illustrations are inseparable, each enhancing and enlarging on the other to produce a singular whole."

The 2023 Irma Black Award Winner:
Bathe the Cat by Alice B. McGinty, illus. by David Roberts (Chronicle)

2023 Irma Black Honor Books
The World Belonged to Us by Jacqueline Woodson, illus. by Leo Espinosa (Penguin)
John's Turn by Mac Barnett, illus. by Kate Berube (Candlewick)
The Best Kind of Mooncake by Pearl AuYeung (Page Street Kids)

The Cook Prize honors the best science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) picture book for children aged 8-10.

The 2023 Cook Prize Gold Medalist
Anglerfish: The Seadevil of the Deep by Elaine M. Alexander, illus. by Fiona Fogg (Candlewick)

2023 Cook Prize Silver Medalists
Infinity: Figuring Out Forever by Sarah C. Campbell, photos by Sarah C. Campbell and Richard P. Campbell (Astra Young Readers)
The Mystery of the Monarchs by Barb Rosenstock, illus. by Erika Meza (Knopf)

In addition, Bank Street's CCL has announced their 2023 Best Children's Books of the Year; as well as a fully searchable database of all of Bank Street's Best Children's Books of the year from 2000 onward. 

Reading with… Sam Szabo

Sam Szabo is a cartoonist from the North Shore of Massachusetts, currently living in Chicago. She enjoys risograph printing, pro wrestling, and Phish concerts. Szabo's debut graphic novel, Enlightened Transsexual Comix (Silver Sprocket, May 17, 2023), follows the zany adventures of a magnificent cosmic being.

Handsell readers your book in 25 words or less:

I am channeling my hippie ancestors. The underground comix hippies and the gay liberation hippies. I'm telling the hippies about the Internet. They hate it.

On your nightstand now:

I just finished Alison Rumfitt's Tell Me I'm Worthless. It was kind of a thorny read, but I enjoyed it a lot. Next up is The City in the Middle of the Night by Charlie Jane Anders. I'm also working on Maybe the People Would Be the Times by Lucy Sante, a delicious book. And the latest poetry collection by Rhina Espaillat.

Favorite book when you were a child:

I was obsessed with Terry Pratchett's Discworld series when I was in middle school. Read like 30 of them in a row from fifth to sixth grade. Had all the computer games. I would actually make my own merch: the local photo developer did custom T-shirts, and I would bring in my favorite illustrations. My parents took me to a fan convention as my bar mitzvah present, and I got to meet Terry. He was very sweet and generous in person. We chopped it up about The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy minutiae. Cool guy!

Your top five authors:

Lynda Barry, Gene Wolfe, David Foster Wallace, Philip K. Dick, Gordon Lish.

Book you've faked reading:

Three or four Thomas Pynchon novels. He's a great writer; the fault is entirely mine. I stopped taking my ADHD meds last year. I've also been telling people I read the first four volumes of Karl Ove Knausgård's My Struggle, when in reality I tapped out halfway through volume three. I wasn't lying to anyone intentionally. I just couldn't remember what was going on with that book. What WAS going on with that book? It's all blurring together now. I know he was a child at one point. And there was a divorce? Maybe two divorces?

Book you're an evangelist for:

There's been such an incredible wave of trans lit these past few years. Future Feeling by Joss Lake is one that I think is particularly underrated. Such a funny, breezy, self-assured debut. It's surreal but has a very grounded emotional core. It doesn't sand down the edges of the trans experience, but it keeps a light touch throughout. I lend that one out a lot. I've also been preaching the good word about this new wave of up-and-coming trans cartoonists. Recent discoveries include Frances Cordelia Beaver, Hal Schrieve, Victoria Douglas, Ezra David Mattes--too many to enumerate here, really!

Book you've bought for the cover:

I got into underground comics when I was way too young, mostly because they were filed next to the Calvin and Hobbes anthologies in used bookstores. I'd always pick up the nastiest, freakiest stuff, because those tended to have the most eye-catching covers.

Last week, I bought a first edish of Gene Wolfe's The Fifth Head of Cerberus, even though I already owned it, just because I dug the cover art so much. I don't know who they had painting all those old Gene Wolfe covers, but they're so dope. I got the cover of The Shadow of the Torturer tattooed on my thigh.

Book you hid from your parents:

My parents would let me read whatever I wanted. Except that first paperback collection of headlines from the Onion. I learned how to swear from that book. Then I started cussing in front of my parents, so they confiscated it. I stole it back a couple weeks later. I think the same thing happened with one of Steve Purcell's Sam & Max comics. Both books were huge (bad) influences on me.

Book that changed your life:

I remember reading a collection of John Porcellino's King-Cat comics on the Megabus as a kid and just breaking down, loudly sobbing in public. It really opened my eyes to the full potential of memoir, of comics, of zines--the way he just beamed these memories directly into my skull with such clarity and tenderness. It overpowered me. I knew instantly that I wanted to do what JP was doing. The path unfurled in front of me. He made it look so easy! And yet, somehow, impossible!

Favorite line from a book:

"Darling, I now have a butter dish/ that is shaped like a cow"--Leonard Cohen, Book of Longing.

That's the entire poem. What a terrific poem it is. It echoes in my mind.

Five books you'll never part with:

Hold Me Gorilla Monsoon by Colette Arrand; Book of Longing by Leonard Cohen; Tales Designed to Thrizzle by Michael Kupperman; Nevada by Imogen Binnie; Gaylord Phoenix by Edie Fake.

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

Howard Cruse's whole bibliography, really. Stuck Rubber Baby changed my understanding of what a comic could be and what kind of stories a comic could tell. Sounds trite when I phrase it like that, but it's true. Stuck Rubber Baby walks a very delicate line between the personal and the political, between fiction and memoir. It came into my life when I was coming to terms with my own queer identity, and it made a very eloquent case for coming out and living authentically. That book blew my mind at a time when my mind needed to be blown. Cruse's Wendel comics also had a big impact on me. I wish there were more of them. I've reread Wendel so many times that I've had to take a tolerance break. I guess that's why I want to read it again for the first time. Man, I miss Howard.

Book Review

Children's Review: Mine!

Mine! by Candace Fleming, illus. by Eric Rohmann (Anne Schwartz Books, $18.99 hardcover, 40p., ages 3-7, 9780593181669, August 1, 2023)

There's a reason "mine" is usually among a toddler's first words: it's short, it's easy to pronounce, its meaning is a cinch to grasp, and saying it feels so good. In agreement would be the characters of Mine!, another winning picture book from Candace Fleming and Eric Rohmann (Giant Squid; Honeybee). At the story's heart is a disagreement over what's "mine." Put another way: Whose "Mine!" wins? By pulling back the curtain on unblinkered acquisitiveness, Mine! reveals the humorous side of the proprietary headbutting familiar to toddlers (and others).

The story begins peacefully enough: "In a tall, tall tree,/ at the tip-tippy top,/ hung a single red apple,/ just about to drop." Along comes Mouse, who has designs on the picturesque fruit: "'An apple,' squeaked she./ 'Mmm-mmm, how divine./ When it tumbles to the ground,/ it'll all be mine!'" Mouse waits it out under a fallen leaf, where she envisions holding the prize in her loving arms. The image appears in a thought balloon featuring an exclamation-pointed "MINE!"

It turns out Mouse isn't the only one who covets that apple. Each of four fellow critters--Hare, Fox, Deer, and Bear--fantasizes about getting hold of the juicy fruit. Bear's words could be anyone's: " 'Nummy nums,' growled he./ 'See that hanging there?/ My snack, my bite, my morsel./ No way I'm gonna share.' " Finally, while the animals are independently hiding, each harboring his or her own "MINE!" fantasy, the wind sends the apple to the ground. The five rivals race toward their conquest, converging in a cartoonish melee from which the apple manages to escape. On it rolls, ultimately ending up at the feet of an opossum who, upon inspecting the apple, introduces a different punctuation mark to the book's refrain: "MINE?" Once face-to-face with the apple's resident worm, the animal lands on a much more appetizing word: "OURS!"

Fleming's rhymes are bouncy and flouncy throughout, and capture the mouthwatering anticipation known to anyone who has ever been in a state of deferred gratification. Using a relief printmaking technique and employing a reined-in outdoorsy palette on stained paper, Rohmann creates roomy, clean-lined compositions; this works wonders to keep the feverish trials of each character distinct. A standout illustration is a split-screen image of Mouse, Hare, Fox, Deer, and Bear watching the apple falling in what looks like slow motion from the sky, literal manna from heaven. --Nell Beram, freelance writer and YA author

Shelf Talker: This picture book centered on five animals competing for the same juicy apple takes the sting out of the proprietary headbutting familiar to toddlers (and others).

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