Shelf Awareness for Tuesday, September 5, 2023

Simon & Schuster: Register for Fall Preview!

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

Soho Crime: Exposure (A Rita Todacheene Novel) by Ramona Emerson

Wednesday Books: When Haru Was Here by Dustin Thao


'No Labor Day': Union Stages One-Day Strike at Powell's Books

Yesterday union employees at Powell's Books, Portland, Ore., staged a one-day strike that they called the "Powell's Books No Labor Day Strike," which included picketing at the three Powell's stores--which all closed for the day because of the strike--and a rally at the flagship Powell's City of Books store at 1 p.m.

ILWU Local 5, which has represented Powell's staff since 2000, said that the strike, authorized last month by a 92% approval vote, was to protest the state of negotiations for a new contract. (The union has struck once before, in 2003.) Negotiations started early this year, and the most recent contract ran out on June 7. On Friday, the union filed unfair labor practices charges with the National Labor Relations Board against Powell's.

As the Oregonian noted, the union alleges Powell's has "refused to bargain in good faith over wages and benefits" and that the company has "repeatedly engaged in stalling tactics and has written proposals without meaningfully engaging with the union's proffers.... The union said the company proposed a new health care plan with a higher deductible and less coverage, and that workers pushed for higher wages in exchange."

Powell's said, "As a union workplace for 23 years, we are our union's biggest supporter. We deeply value our employees and respect their right to engage in protected union activity, which includes a strike. We understand it can be part of the bargaining process, and we will honor and respect it."

ILWU Local 5 prepared picket signs for yesterday's strike.

In announcing that its three stores would be closed yesterday because of "the lack of staffing necessary to open our locations," Powell's added that since January, it "has been working diligently to reach a fair, reasonable and sustainable contract with ILWU Local 5 as part of our regular cycle of renewal. Powell's has already agreed to the union's proposals on health insurance deductibles and out of pocket maximums for healthcare. Additionally, Powell's has offered a wage structure that increases the top wage for employees starting their career to $22.25 per hour at the beginning of the contract and to $24.25 per hour by the final year of the contract period in 2026, which impacts one of our largest groups of employees."

Union spokesperson Myka Dubay told the Oregonian that the top pay wage boost "only changes the maximum amount of what people starting out can make. In reality, 95% of the workers start at the bottom of the range, which is $16.25 per hour." Dubay added that the union wants the starting wage to be closer to $21.85 an hour, nearer to a livable wage for the area.

In anticipation of the strike, Powell's said, "Customers who would like to make a purchase on Monday, September 4 can do so at We also encourage the community to visit Guilder Cafe in their NE Portland location or consider gift card purchases, as they will be impacted by the closure."

By contrast, the union asked supporters not to shop at yesterday and to donate to the ILWU Local 5 Strike Fund and sign the union petition "letting Powell's leadership know you support workers' demands."

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

Grand Opening for Bookstore on the Square in Fort Collins, Colo.

Bookstore on the Square celebrated its grand opening last Saturday at 113 Linden Street in Old Town Fort Collins, Colo. Owner and author Megan Maulsby (pen name Meg Murray) launched her business as On the Road Bookstore, a traveling pop-up shop, in 2022, selling books at fairs, festivals, and local businesses in Northern Colorado. 

On Sunday, Maulsby posted on Instagram: "Thank you so much to all the lovely readers who came out for our Grand Opening celebration yesterday! And a special thank you to our neighbors and @benandjerrysfoco for our welcome gifts of a beautiful floral arrangement and an ice cream cake!! The ice cream cake was devoured before pictures could be taken."

AuthorBuzz for the Week of 04.22.24

New Owners at Spare Time Books, Paso Robles, Calif.

Carla Cary (l.) and Clio Bruns

Clio Bruns and Carla Cary have purchased Spare Time Books in Paso Robles, Calif., the Paso Robles Press reported.

Cary and Bruns, friends for some 13 years, officially took over in mid-April. They've spent the past few months learning the bookselling trade and renovating the used bookstore, which opened in the 1980s. The owners plan to start incorporating new books into the store's inventory as well as hosting both online and in-person events.

"We want this place to be so much more than a bookshop, but really a community space, and we want people to spend hours here if they want," Bruns told the Press.

When they first told the store's previous owner that they were interested in buying it, Bruns recalled, he was "very hesitant at first because he thought we were about 15 years old." But after getting to know Cary and Bruns, he decided they were the right people to take over the store.

Under the handle Book Shop Besties, the pair has a significant following online, especially on TikTok. Cary noted that their followers are very excited for them, and some are supporting the store by purchasing books online.

"I think a lot of people's dreams are to own a bookshop/coffee shop combo, you know, with the shop dogs," Cary added. "It just seems so magical and it's an honor that we get to carry that on for them and hopefully inspire them to do it themselves, too, because the country needs a lot more bookshops."

BINC: Do Good All Year - Click to Donate!

SIBA Board Changes

The Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance is adding two board members. Krystle Dandridge of RVA Book Bar in Richmond, Va., and Bunnie Hilliard of Brave + Kind Bookshop in Decatur, Ga., will start their three-year terms on January 1, 2024. 

They replace Jamie Rogers Southern, executive director of Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, N.C.; and Jamie Fiocco of Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill, N.C. As the outgoing board president, Southern will remain on the board as a non-voting member in an advisory capacity.

SIBA noted that Dandridge and Hilliard join the board "at an important time when the organization is evolving to better meet the needs of its members in the current economy and political climate. Among the projects the SIBA Board has been working on are updating SIBA's bylaws to reflect contemporary realities faced by SIBA member stores, refining the definition of a SIBA 'Core Member Bookstore' to recognize the growing diversity of business models in the SIBA region, and supporting innovative programs launched by SIBA such as the joint conference and programming with NAIBA, its sister organization to the north, under the New Voices New Rooms Partnership."

Obituary Note: Robert E. 'Bob' Abrams

Robert E. Abrams with children's books published by Abbeville Press. At right is a portrait of his father, Harry N. Abrams, by Norman Rockwell.

Robert E. "Bob" Abrams, the longtime art book publisher, died on August 28. He was 80.

Abram was co-founder and president of Abbeville Press, which he established in 1977 with his late father, Harry N. Abrams. As Abbeville Press recounted in its announcement of Abrams's death, "the elder Abrams had pioneered modern art book publishing at his eponymous firm, which he founded in 1949. With their new venture, Abbeville, Bob secured his family's publishing legacy. He had a profound sense of the significance, and the responsibility, of the publisher's vocation." Abrams once wrote: "Publishing is about deciding what content, 'speech,' is sufficiently meaningful to try to bring it to the attention of others. It is about trying to diminish ignorance and share the grace of human consciousness."

After his father's death in 1979, Abrams published a series of books that revealed "a taste for the monumental," Abbeville said. The Vatican Frescoes of Michelangelo, a two-volume limited edition issued in partnership with Kodansha in 1980, remains the best document of the Sistine Chapel prior to its restoration. Of particular pride to Bob was his private audience with Pope John Paul II, to whom he presented the book. Another striking title was a full-size facsimile of the original Double Elephant Folio edition of John James Audubon's Birds of America, published with the National Audubon Society in 1985. He also published A World History of Photography by Naomi Rosenblum (1985), then the most ambitious history of photography as an art form, and The Art of Florence by Glenn Andres, John Hunisak, and Richard Turner (1989), a two-volume synthesis of the extraordinary flourishing of painting, sculpture, and architecture from Giotto to Bronzino in Florence.

By the 1990s, Abbeville became one of the country's largest illustrated-book publishers, and Abrams continued to be personally involved with many Abbeville titles. Among his great interests was the Italian Renaissance, which had been a focus of his undergraduate studies at Harvard, and in its monographs on contemporary artists. (Like his father, Abrams was a passionate and eclectic art collector.)

Abbeville's children's list, developed with Abrams's wife, Cynthia Vance-Abrams, began with the How Artists See series by Colleen Carroll, which introduced children to art by inviting them to compare how different artists had depicted similar themes. The children's list has continued to grow with titles, including Sara Ball's Flip-o-saurus (2010) and its sequels, interactive excursions into paleontology and zoology, and World Soccer Legends (2014 onward), inspired by the enthusiasm that Abrams's son Nathaniel had for the sport.

The list sometimes expanded beyond illustrated books to reflect Abrams's many interests: a study of the national debt; a compendium of the lessons to be learned from the greatest coaches in various sports; and a series of novels about prewar Jewish life in Europe and the U.S. One title, The Expectant Father by Armin A. Brott and Jennifer Ash Rudick (1995), perhaps the first pregnancy guide for men, has sold more than 1.5 million copies.

There will be a celebration of Abrams's life on Friday, October 6, at 10 a.m. at Central Synagogue, 652 Lexington Avenue in New York City.


Cool Idea of the Day: Scrabble Letters for Displays

"This was my rainy day activity!" Búho Books, Brownsville, Tex., posted on Instagram recently. "I ordered 5 sets of Scrabble Letters and 40 racks from the game to make genre titles for the window display and for the bookshelves. That way, passersby can have a better idea of what’s in store for them, and our visitors can have an easier time finding a book of their choice! Note: I'm gonna need a bigger order of letters! This is still a work in progress."

[words] on Good Morning America

Scheduled for tomorrow on Good Morning America: a "Book Case" podcast report by Kate and Charlie Gibson that features [words] Bookstore's two locations, in Maplewood and in the LifeTown Center in Livingston, N.J., and store owners Ellen and Jonah Zimiles.

Artbook | D.A.P. Distributing Twin Palms Publishers

Artbook | D.A.P. is now the exclusive worldwide distributor for Twin Palms Publishers, the photography book publisher that was founded as Twelvetrees Press in 1983 by Jack Woody. Woody began, the publisher wrote, by "following his idiosyncratic taste and investing in high-quality production. Whether spotlighting the homoerotic work of George Platt Lynes or the horrific documentation of lynchings from America's all-too-recent past, Twin Palms has a four decades-long track record of publishing the 'unpublishable.' "

Now headed by president Kevin Messina, Twin Palms has on its winter list two new monographs. Garry Winogrand: Winogrand Color is a tribute to the early color work of the American photographer featuring a selection of the more than 45,000 color slides taken between the early 1950s and the late 1960s. Jim Mangan: The Crick is a documentation of the lives of boys who remain in Short Creek, the fundamentalist Mormon epicenter of Warren Jeffs infamy. Photographer Mangan follows the boys as they navigate their crumbling community and find refuge in the rugged terrain of the American West, reinventing themselves as modern-day cowboys.

Book Trailer (and Q&A) of the Day: Profiles in Ignorance

Profiles in Ignorance: How America's Politicians Got Dumb and Dumber by Andy Borowitz (Avid Reader Press), a trailer created by Alexandra Borowitz, the author's daughter, who answered a few questions about trailers and the book:

You created the original book trailer for Profiles in Ignorance last year. What was your approach to updating the trailer for the paperback?

I wanted to keep the same theme--basically, there's a "clown car" of idiots in our current government--while refreshing the video with people currently in the news to reflect the updated book. Unfortunately, Marjorie Taylor Greene is constantly finding new ways to annoy us, so I assume if there are any more trailers, she'll be in those, too.

How did you choose the images you used?

Boring answer, but I was limited to images in the public domain. But, in a way, I think that works. I find the funniest photo of George Santos to be his official government portrait because you know he's a massive clown, and it weirdly shows through the best in a conventional photo of him.

Authors and publishers sometimes find the task of creating a book trailer daunting. But you created each of these trailers in a day. Do you have a secret? Sorcery?

It helps that my dad had a good idea of what he wanted to do. My dad and I are obviously very close and I understand the vision he's going for, and he's very clear about the message he wants to send, so I consider it pretty easy to put something together.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Zadie Smith on Fresh Air

Good Morning America: Stephen King, author of Holly (Scribner, $30, 9781668016138).

Also on GMA:

Andrea Lytle Peet, author of Hope Fights Back: Fifty Marathons and a Life or Death Race Against ALS (Pegasus, $28.95, 9781639364770).
Dan Pelosi, author of Let's Eat: 101 Recipes to Fill Your Heart & Home (Union Square, $30, 9781454946397).
Juicy J, co-author of Chronicles of the Juice Man: A Memoir (Hanover Square Press, $29.99, 9781335005281).

Live with Kelly and Mark: Melissa Etheridge, author of Talking to My Angels (Harper Wave, $30, 9780063257450).

Fresh Air: Zadie Smith, author of The Fraud (Penguin Press, $29, 9780525558965).

CBS Mornings: Jake Gyllenhaal, co-author of The Secret Society of Aunts & Uncles (Feiwel & Friends, $18.99, 9781250776990). He will also appear on Live with Kelly and Mark.

Today Show: Lara Lee, author of A Splash of Soy: Everyday Food from Asia (Bloomsbury, $35, 9781639730438).

Movies: The Pigeon Tunnel

A trailer has been released for The Pigeon Tunnel, a documentary from Oscar-winning filmmaker Errol Morris about spy-turned-novelist David Cornwell (a.k.a. John le Carré), Deadline reported. The doc is premiering at the Telluride Film Festival before heading to the Toronto International Film Festival for its international premiere on September 11. It will debut October 20 on Apple TV+.

The film is adapted from le Carré's memoir The Pigeon Tunnel: Stories from My Life (2016). Two of Cornwell's sons--Simon and Stephen--serve as producers on the film. Deadline noted that "in a brief essay about the documentary, Simon, Stephen, and fellow brother Nicholas Cornwell describe the tête-à-tête between director and subject--or perhaps what should be called a tête-à-Interretron, a teleprompter-like device invented by the filmmaker that allows him to interact with an interviewee through a camera (the person being interviewed sees the interviewer's face, instead of the lens). The interview was filmed at Cornwell's country estate Wrotham Park in 2019, a year before the author's death at the age of 89."

"For David, the conversation with Errol was imagined as a definitive swan song," according to the essay. "David knew already that it would be his last significant interview, his chance to put his ultimate persona on the record. For years before he first met Errol, David would speak glowingly of The Fog of War [Morris's 2003 documentary], of the importance of Robert McNamara's final testament, and of Errol's ability to penetrate almost imperceptibly the heart of both the man and the matter. David wanted to make his own confession. But at the same time, perhaps he also wanted a last opportunity to sculpt his image and leave a reflective legacy that was every bit as carefully constructed as his fiction."

Books & Authors

Awards: Mark Twain American Voice Shortlist

The shortlist has been announced for the $25,000 2023 Mark Twain American Voice in Literature Award, which honors a work of fiction that "speaks with an 'American Voice' about American experiences, much like Twain's masterwork, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn." The winner of the award, which is given by the Mark Twain House and Museum and sponsored by David Baldacci and Bank of America, will be announced in October.

The shortlist:
Bliss Montage by Ling Ma
Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver
Mercy Street by Jennifer Haigh
Mother Country by Jacinda Townsend
Night of the Living Rez by Morgan Tally
The Hero of This Book by Elizabeth McCracken
The Kingdom of Sand by Andrew Holleran
The Rabbit Hutch by Tess Gunty
Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin
Trust by Hernan Diaz

Book Review

Review: Charlie Chaplin vs. America: When Art, Sex, and Politics Collided

Charlie Chaplin vs. America: When Art, Sex, and Politics Collided by Scott Eyman (Simon & Schuster, $29.99 hardcover, 432p., 9781982176358, October 31, 2023)

In Charlie Chaplin vs. America: When Art, Sex, and Politics Collided, Scott Eyman describes the Tramp, the filmmaker's bowler-hat-wearing, cane-carrying signature role, as "a well-meaning outsider at perpetual cross-purposes with his surroundings, doomed to isolation because of a basic imbalance in the relationship between an individual and conventional society." That's not a bad description of the Tramp's creator, as Eyman makes painfully clear in his layered and cautionary look at Chaplin, the most famous victim of mid-century America's Red Scare.

Chaplin (1889-1977) was born into poverty in London. In 1906, the teenager joined a comedy troupe that toured the United States, where he made his home after signing a contract with California's Keystone company in 1913. Chaplin proceeded to produce and star in movies that had broad appeal, but some members of the public took issue with his personal life. Although blood tests occasioned by a paternity suit that went to trial in 1944 proved that Chaplin wasn't the father of his sometime girlfriend Joan Berry's baby, he lost "in court and, far more damagingly, in the court of public opinion," Eyman writes.

The public's certainty of Chaplin's moral deviancy fueled an overzealous FBI already on the Communist-hunting warpath. The Bureau became convinced that Chaplin, who leaned left politically, was a Party member--an accusation that had all the validity of Joan Berry's paternity claim. Although Chaplin was never found guilty of a crime, the Department of Justice revoked his reentry permit in 1952, while he, his wife, and their children were abroad. The filmmaker resumed his career in Europe, but Eyman isn't gentle about the upshot: "Chaplin's forced exile destroyed him as an artist."

Eyman may be the foremost living biographer of Old Hollywood giants, having knocked out authoritative books on Cary Grant (Cary Grant: A Brilliant Disguise), the friendship between Henry Fonda and James Stewart (Hank & Jim), and more, and he has the finesse to shape Charlie Chaplin vs. America into a sympathetic portrait without overlooking his subject's moral squishiness. (Chaplin had a predilection for teenage girls who were barely legal, and sometimes they weren't quite that.) Eyman writes that Chaplin's is "the story of one of the earliest junctions between show business and politics," and it's certainly an early example of cancel culture--not an outcome one might have anticipated for Chaplin, given that, in Eyman's words, "the foundation of his work was the pain of abandonment seasoned by compassion and kindness." --Nell Beram, author and freelance writer

Shelf Talker: Without overlooking his subject's moral squishiness, Scott Eyman presents a sympathetic portrait of the filmmaker whose sexual and political liberalism got him in disfavor with the public and the FBI.

The Bestsellers

Top-Selling Self-Published Titles

The bestselling self-published books last week as compiled by

1. King of Pride by Ana Huang
2. Twisted Love by Ana Huang
3. Haunting Adeline by H.D. Carlton
4. Twisted Games by Ana Huang
5. King of Wrath by Ana Huang
6. Hooked by Emily McIntire
7. Can't Hurt Me by David Goggins
8. Pestilence by Laura Thalassa
9. Twisted Hate by Ana Huang
10. The Fine Print by Lauren Asher

[Many thanks to!]

AuthorBuzz: St. Martin's Press: The Rom-Commers by Katherine Center
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