Also published on this date: Monday December 18, 2023: Maximum Shelf: Belonging

Shelf Awareness for Monday, December 18, 2023

Crown Publishing Group (NY): Here One Moment Liane Moriarty

Minotaur Books: Betrayal at Blackthorn Park: A Mystery (Evelyne Redfern #2) by Julia Kelly

Tor Books: Blood of the Old Kings by Sung-Il Kim, Translated by Anton Hur

Del Rey Books: The Book of Elsewhere by Keeanu Reeves and China Miéville

St. Martin's Press: You'll Never Believe Me: A Life of Lies, Second Tries, and Other Stuff I Should Only Tell My Therapist by St. Martin's Press

Watkins Publishing: A Feminist's Guide to ADHD: How Women Can Thrive and Find Focus in a World Built for Men by Janina Maschke


Holiday Hum: Ups and Downs; Holiday Bestsellers

Naomi Chamblin, owner of Napa Bookmine in Napa and St. Helena, Calif., reported that the season began with a "very strong" Thanksgiving weekend. While the following week "fell off a bit," November ended strong for all three Bookmine locations. For December, things are a bit down for Bookmine's two "tourist-supported" locations, but the more local spot is up. The cafe, which is located in the largest of the locations, is "thriving with all the bookstore traffic."

Chamblin reported that Taylor Swift: A Little Golden Book Biography by Wendy Loggia and Elisa Chavarri continues to be a hit after being at the top all year. The Creative Act by Rick Rubin and Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus have proved to have "long selling lives"; other popular titles include Fourth Wing and Iron Flame, both by Rebecca Yarros, Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Sleigh by Mo Willems, and No Brainer by Jeff Kinney.

Asked whether anything has been difficult to keep in stock, Chamblin said that Liz Cheney's Oath and Honor has "a big waiting list." And while Iron Flame has been in high demand, the store has been able to stay ahead of it thanks to a "pretty large order."

The store's cash flow has been "pretty tight" after Bookmine's flagship location moved this summer, Chamblin noted, and because of that the store has been "going deep" on "true blue, always-a-hit" gifts like Jellycats, Blue Q, and Ooly. Next year Chamblin plans to experiment with new gift lines, draw in more customers through the cafe, and make the store's exterior presence more eye-catching. She added: "I feel this is a difficult time for many small business owners and I find comfort that we are all in this together."


In Washington, D.C., East City Bookshop saw a strong Small Business Saturday that was "about on par with last year," reported owner Laurie Gillman. Given the extra time between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year, Gillman thought there might be a bit of a lull after Thanksgiving. Instead, "things picked up really quickly," and the store has been steadily busy with "some really big spikes on Saturdays."

So far the store is up compared to last holiday season, with Gillman noting East City Bookshop hosted an after-hours "holiday soiree" on November 30 that "set a really good tone for the holiday season." Major sellers include The Wager by David Grann, The Heaven & Earth Grocery Store by James McBride, Tom Lake by Ann Patchett, Iron Flame, North Woods by Eleanor Catton, The Fraud by Zadie Smith, and Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver. Remarked Gillman: "I guess those aren't big surprises!"

The store has faced a few minor supply-chain issues, but nothing "really disruptive." North Woods was briefly unavailable, but the reprint happened quickly. There was also a problem with UPS deliveries, where three days' worth of shipments arrived all at once. The "biggest disruptive factor," however, has been bad weather, which has led to a lot of shoppers placing pick-up orders online rather than browsing in-store. --Alex Mutter

G.P. Putnam's Sons: Shame on You: How to Be a Woman in the Age of Mortification by Melissa Petro

Small Press Distribution Hit by Denial-of-Service Attack

Last Friday, Small Press Distribution suffered a denial-of-service attack. The attack shut down SPD's website, ordering system, and e-mail communications for most of the weekend. When SPD received notice of the attack, it immediately acted on the threat and worked to restore service as soon as possible. No customer data or private information was affected in the attack. SPD distributes nearly 400 smaller independent publishers that specialize in literary and activist publishing.

SPD is back up and running. Executive director Kent Watson said, "This attack comes at a very busy time as SPD continues to pick, pack, and ship books for hundreds of presses. Senseless acts like this harm independent publishers, booksellers, and readers."

Harpervia: The Alaska Sanders Affair by Joël Dicker, Translated by Robert Bononno

Chapter One Bookstore & More, Mendham, N.J., Debuting with Holiday Pop-Up

Chapter One in progress.

Prior to its official opening early next year, Chapter One Bookstore & More will make its debut in Mendham, N.J., with a holiday pop-up, reported.

Located at 84 East Main St., in a space previously occupied by a laundromat, Chapter One will be open this Wednesday through Sunday, December 20-24, before closing in advance of the store's grand opening, which owner Sophia Maoli has scheduled for January 3.

On the store's website, Maoli described Chapter One as a "cozy, neighborhood store where readers can browse for books and more."

International Update: Australian Book Market Down YTD; RISE Bookselling's Applications for Dublin Conference

This year the Australian book market has declined 3% overall through December 9, compared to the same period last year, according to Nielsen BookScan, which noted that 2022 had the highest recorded sales in BookScan records and this year's drop "could be a correction on performance," Books+Publishing reported.
"In the backdrop of the uncertainties of 2020, there was a surge in book sales, particularly in the latter part of the year, and 2021 saw a further uplift," said Nielsen BookData Australia general manager Bianca Whiteley, adding that "2022 set new records, highlighting the enduring appeal of books as a source of joy and inspiration, particularly resilient in challenging economic conditions. Although 2023 shows a modest adjustment, sales remain notably elevated compared to 'pre-pandemic' levels, emphasizing the enduring popularity of books." In terms of genre, adult fiction continues to grow, up 4% this year to date, which Nielsen said translates to an additional 230,000 units sold. 

Adult fiction is also "the star performing category across 2023" in Aotearoa New Zealand, according to Nielsen BookData NZ territory manager Nevena Nikolic, who said the category was up 2.5% compared to last year, "and within this broad category genre fiction, such as crime & thriller, has done particularly well."

In total, NZ$4.6 million (about US$2.9 million) was spent on printed books in New Zealand in the seven-day period ending December 9 across 33,300 unique ISBNs or book titles, up 7% on the average unique weekly sales of 31,000, "showing the support New Zealanders have for buying a wider range of books at Christmas time," said Nielsen.


RISE Bookselling has opened the application process for booksellers to join the 2024 Bookselling Ireland Conference. The European & Independent Booksellers Federation's Newsflash reported that a group of international booksellers will again have the opportunity to take part in the conference, which will be held in Dublin, February 26-27. Applications are due by January 7.

Organized by Bookselling Ireland & Publishing Ireland, the conference's program includes author speakers, practical bookselling sessions, a bookshop tour of the Irish capital, conference drink reception & dinner, and trade show featuring publishers and other trade exhibitors.


Holiday season bookseller moments:

The West Kirby Bookshop, West Kirby, England: "Christmas is in full swing at the bookshop! Our decorations are up, and a big thanks to everyone whose said the shop looks like their Nan's Christmas living room in the '80s... the exact nostalgic vibe we were going for. We're open until 6pm today and 11-4pm tomorrow, so stop by for a chat, plenty of Christmas book recommendations, and to marvel at our chintzy decorations. As always, a big thanks to for humoring our silly decoration ideas! See you all soon."

The American Book Center, the Hague, Netherlands: "Sinterklaas is in the country, and our booksellers in The Hague know what they'd like to receive in their shoe this year!"

Massolit Books & Café, Budapest, Hungary: "Christmas vibe at Massolit."

Dormouse Books, Belper, England: "Happy Small Business Saturday! It's cold outside but we have hot chocolate and books. Support your high street and vote for the world you want to live in."

Long Story Short, St. Georges, Bermuda: "Wintry weather or holiday travels mean having lots of books at your disposal."

Robinsons Bookshop, Glen Waverly, Australia: "Santa Claus, Mrs. Claus and their little helper are in town! Head to Robinsons The Glen where you may get the chance to meet Santa and his crew this Christmas!" --Robert Gray


Image of the Day: Caught in a Bad Fauxmance

The Ripped Bodice, Brooklyn, N.Y., hosted debut author Elle Gonzalez Rose (left) and Camryn Garrett (right) in conversation about Rose's YA novel, Caught in a Bad Fauxmance (Joy Revolution).

Personnel Changes at Park & Fine Literary and Media

At Park & Fine Literary and Media:

Yelena Gitlin Nesbit is joining Park & Fine as executive director, publicity & marketing, effective January 2. Nesbit was previously executive director, publicity at HarperCollins.

Danielle Barthel is joining Park & Fine as manager, creative development, effective January 16.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Kenan Thompson on Colbert's Late Show

The View repeat: Cassidy Hutchinson, author of Enough (Simon & Schuster, $30, 9781668028285).

Drew Barrymore Show repeat: Arthur C. Brooks, co-author of Build the Life You Want: The Art and Science of Getting Happier (Portfolio, $30, 9780593545409).

Late Show with Stephen Colbert: Kenan Thompson, author of When I Was Your Age: Life Lessons, Funny Stories & Questionable Parenting Advice from a Professional Clown (Harper, $30, 9780063348066).

The View repeat: Adam Kinzinger, author of Renegade: Defending Democracy and Liberty in Our Divided Country (The Open Field, $30, 9780593654163).

The Talk repeat: Anna Kloots, author of My Own Magic: A Reappearing Act (Harper Horizon, $28.99, 9780785255659).

Drew Barrymore Show repeat: Nicole Avant, author of Think You'll Be Happy: Moving Through Grief with Grit, Grace, and Gratitude (HarperOne, $28.99, 9780063304413).

TV: Otherland

Platige Image (The Witcher) and Mount Devil, together with The Wheel of Time's executive producer Mike Weber, are developing a TV series based on Otherland, the four-book series by Tad Williams, Deadline reported.  

"I believe Tad has written the definitive work on the conflict between the human experience and technological advancements," said Weber. "He depicts a not-so-distant future where the choice between living in the real or the virtual world becomes a choice between life or death. The prescient themes and fantastic characters give Otherland all the foundations of a next-level sci-fi drama series adaptation."

Books & Authors

Awards: Tony Lothian Prize

Andrew Kenrick won this year's £2,000 (about $2,535) Tony Lothian Prize, given for the best proposal by a first-time biographer, for Juba--From Roman Slave to African King. The award is administered by the Biographers' Club in London. 

Organizers wrote that "Juba was raised by Octavian (later Emperor Augustus), and given the Kingdom of Mauretania (modern-day Morocco and Algeria) to rule in the name of Rome. He did this with a liberal and civilizing hand. Juba was a famed antiquarian, travel writer and explorer; he discovered the Canary Islands, wrote histories of Arabia and Libya, and led diplomatic missions to fellow rulers."

The judges said that Kenrick "throws light on a corner of the ancient African-Roman world hitherto and regrettably shrouded in shadow," the Biographers' Club noted. "The judges thought that the story was marvelous and that Ancient Rome is very much of the moment."

The prize will have a new name beginning next year, following the death of Elizabeth, Duchess of Buccleuch, who had named it in honor of her mother (Antonella Kerr, Marchioness of Lothian). The duchess's widower, the Duke of Buccleuch, is continuing the sponsorship of what will be the Elizabeth Buccleuch Prize.

Book Review

Review: Grief Is for People

Grief Is for People by Sloane Crosley (MCD, $27 hardcover, 208p., 9780374609849, February 27, 2024)

Essayist and novelist Sloane Crosley's Grief Is for People is a bereavement memoir like no other. Heart-wrenching yet witty, it bears a distinctive structure and offers fascinating glimpses into the New York City publishing world.

Crosley's Manhattan apartment was burgled on June 27, 2019--exactly a month before the suicide of her best friend and former boss, Russell, at 52. Throughout the book, the whereabouts of her family jewelry is as much of a mystery as the reason for Russell's death, and investigating the stolen goods in parallel serves as a displacement activity for her. "Grief is for people, not things," she reminds herself, but her grandmother's amber necklace becomes a complex symbol of her synchronous losses.

The relationship with Russell had been almost father-daughter in nature: he was 12 years older and gay; a prankster, Old Hollywood obsessive, and hoarder who hit every flea market looking for antiques. The Connecticut home he kept with his partner was a retreat destination for Vintage Books employees in the early 2000s. "He is my favorite person, the one who somehow sees me both as I want to be seen and as I actually am," Crosley (Cult Classic) writes. While she was making the uneasy move from a publicist job to full-time writing, Russell was her biggest fan.

Ever the literary stylist, Crosley probes the ironies of her situation, and documents her own choices about framing this story. Four years earlier, she had published a novel about pilfered jewelry. In a meta moment, she chides herself for composing in the present tense, as if the future might still be changed. She draws on Elisabeth Kübler-Ross's five stages of grief for section headings, and one is broken down further into three "acts." The author's metaphors are always fresh and often funny: "the trauma humps my leg like a dog"; "We each have our lily pads of discontent."

As earnestly as Crosley searches for clues to Russell's mental state preceding his untimely death, she finds no definitive answers. Her only guess was that he feared "The illness of aging as a gay man. The threat of irrelevance, the loss of power, the expansion of indignities." She also ponders whether Russell's career in publicity started to go downhill with the James Frey fiasco. Ultimately, though, she paints suicide as unfathomable.

This sui generis memoir--sting operation meets stage tragedy--is a bittersweet treasure. --Rebecca Foster, freelance reviewer, proofreader and blogger at Bookish Beck

Shelf Talker: Sloane Crosley's out-of-the-ordinary bereavement memoir is a heartfelt and humorous tribute to her best friend as well as a reflection on the inner workings of grief.

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