Shelf Awareness for Thursday, February 29, 2024

Hampton Roads Publishing Company: Becoming Baba Yaga: Trickster, Feminist, and Witch of the Woods by Kris Spisak, Foreword by Gennarose Nethercott

Dial Press: Like Mother, Like Mother by Susan Rieger

Severn House: A Messy Murder (Main) (The Decluttering Mysteries #4) by Simon Brett

Forge: My Three Dogs by Bruce W Cameron

Running Press Adult: Scam Goddess: Lessons from a Life of Cons, Grifts, and Schemes by Laci Mosley

Chronicle Books: Taste in Music: Eating on Tour with Indie Musicians by Luke Pyenson and Alex Beeker


Honolulu's Bās Bookshop to Close

Bās Bookshop, Honolulu, Hawaii, will close March 16. In a letter to the shop's "book loving family & friends," co-owners Aly Ishikuni and Travis Sasaki announced their decision "with great sadness," expressing gratitude "for appreciating our curation and collection of design and culture focused titles since our opening in 2020. We hope Bās has been able to inspire and expand the minds of those who turned the pages of our books.

"We are so proud of everything that we've accomplished, and all of the incredible artists, brands, and musicians from Hawai'i and across the globe that we got to feature and support through our little shop on Nʻuanu Avenue. It has truly been an unforgettable experience.

"A BIG heartfelt thank you goes out to our previous and current employees (some of whom have been with us from the very beginning) for all of your dedication, time, and effort. Again, we cannot thank ALL of you enough who came and supported our little dream. We love you, our community, and our Chinatown friends/neighbors. We love everything that we built TOGETHER for the past three years."

Bās Bookshop will host a final First Friday event tomorrow, March 1. All books and shop fixtures are up for sale until March 16.

BINC: We want your feedback. Take the survey!

Registration Opening for Professional Bookseller School's Bookstore Finance Class

On Monday, March 4, at 1 p.m. Eastern, registration opens for the Professional Bookseller School's Bookstore Finances class. The class, which begins May 6, is designed to educate on the day-to-day and long-term finance-related needs of an independent bookstore, considering both high-level financial topics such as taxes and accounting and deep dives into financial reporting and strategy. A mix of webinars, handouts, and assignments will be used to guide the student toward creating financial systems and strategies for real-time applications. This course is geared to store owners and/or managers who handle finances on a day-to-day basis and is for educational purposes only, meaning no certification is earned for this course.

To register, click here.

GLOW: Sourcebooks Landmark: A Forty Year Kiss by Nickolas Butler

2023 Diversity Baseline Survey Results Published

Lee & Low Books, along with co-authors Laura M. Jiménez, Betsy Beckert, Rory Polera, and Jacke C. Dietiker, have published the results of the 2023 Diversity Baseline Survey, the first DBS survey in four years.

With regard to race, the survey found that 72.5% of publishing, review journal, and literary agency staff are White/Caucasian, which marks a steady change from the first survey in 2015 (79%) and the most recent survey in 2019 (76%). While this could reflect a change in hiring practices, among other factors, the authors cautioned that each iteration of the survey has had an increasingly large participant pool with "more and varied publishers participating."

The largest change in racial categories was the Biracial/Multiracial category, which rose to 8.4%. Other racial categories--which are all self-identified by responders--went "almost completely unchanged," save for what appears to be a statistically significant decrease in people identifying as Hispanic/Latino/Mexican. The results also pointed to an "alarming lack of representation" within the industry of people identifying as American Indian/Alaskan Native/First Nations/Native American, and as Middle Eastern.

With regard to gender, "cis women are still the dominant demographic at 71.3%," and overall, 91.9% of publishing staff identify as cis men or cis women. For sexual orientation, "about 68.7% of publishing staff identify as straight or heterosexual," which marked a "statistically significant negative change" compared to past surveys.

The full results, including breakdowns of data concerning disability, age, and location, can be found here.

B&N Launching New Stores in American Fork, Utah, Columbia, S.C., & Victor, N.Y.

Brandon Mull at B&N, American Fork, Utah.

Barnes & Noble opened a bookstore yesterday, February 28, in the Meadows at 773 Grassland Drive, American Fork, Utah. The new store, which officially launched with author Brandon Mull cutting the ribbon and signing copies of his books, includes a B&N Café.

"The more brick-and-mortar bookstores there are in the world, the better we build readers in all communities," B&N stated. "Browsing the shelves and receiving excellent recommendations from experienced booksellers will beat an algorithm every time. As we enter new areas, many of our new bookstores are smaller in size. Not so in American Fork, where we have the great pleasure of opening the grandest Barnes & Noble yet this year."

B&N will also open a bookstore on March 6 in the Shoppes at Woodhill at 6090 Garners Ferry Road, Columbia, S.C., near Target, between World Market and Party City. Author B.B. Alston is cutting the ribbon and signing copies of his books. 

"Barnes & Noble returns to Columbia after the shortest of departures when Richland Mall closed for demolition," said B&N. "We are especially pleased to retain a bricks-and-mortar bookstore in a community when, for the last twenty years, closure was almost certain to mean its permanent loss. Better still, we now open very beautiful bookstores and the new Columbia Barnes & Noble is both stunning and expansive."

On March 6, B&N is also opening a store in Victor, N.Y., at 805 Eastview Mall, just inside the front entrance. Author Jonathan Graziano will cut the ribbon and sign copies of his books at the opening ceremony. 

"Victor has been without a bricks-and-mortar bookstore since Borders closed in 2011," B&N noted. "We are very happy to restore to the people of Victor a bookstore of their own. All readers will feel at home in this beautiful new Barnes & Noble."

Obituary Note: Alan Brownjohn 

British writer Alan Brownjohn a "prolific and seemingly indefatigable poet and novelist," died February 23, the Guardian reported. He was 92. Best known as a poet--he received the Cholmondeley award in 1979--Brownjohn also wrote novels, winning the Author's Club prize for his first, The Way You Tell Them (1990), and two children's books, as well as collaborating on plays and working as a freelance writer and critic.

Brownjohn was poetry editor for the New Statesman from 1968 until 1974, and later poetry critic of the Sunday Times for more than 20 years. He served as chairman of the Poetry Society (1982-88) and worked on the Arts Council literature panel.

"In a long writing career Brownjohn was something of a rarity, arguably producing his very best work when already well into his 70s," the Guardian wrote. "Among an array of well-observed, various and spry collections, Ludbrooke & Others (2010) stands out as perhaps most successfully representing his blend of emotionally astute, rigorously downbeat and wittily rendered character dissection."

Brownjohn's early poetic life was bound up with the Group, a long-running workshop run by the poet and teacher Philip Hobsbaum, which fellow poets would attend to discuss and dissect each others' new work. They were chiefly guided by a spirit of close reading, based on the "new criticism" of Hobsbaum's Cambridge tutor F.R. Leavis. During Brownjohn's time as a member, his work was most visibly influenced by the Movement, another loose grouping of associated poets, including Philip Larkin and Kingsley Amis. Larkin remained an enduring influence for Brownjohn, who later published a critical study of him in 1975.

Brownjohn's other books include Nineteen Poems (1980), Collected Poems 1952–1983 (1983), The Old Flea-Pit (1987), The Observation Car (1990), The Way You Tell Them: A Yarn of the Nineties (1990), The Long Shadows (1997), A Funny Old Year (2001), Windows on the Moon (2009), and A Bottle and Other Poems (2015).

His life was, in many ways, "an exemplary version of the contemporary person of letters--a dutiful committee-man and champion of other writers, looking towards Europe and the wider literary world for inspiration and to shine a light on neglected figures, as well as ranging across various art-forms for material," the Guardian noted.  

In a 1983 interview, Brownjohn was asked what impression he would like people to take away from his poems. He replied: "I should like people to read my work and think it was like drinking lemonade, only to find a little later that it was strongly laced. I'd want it to go down like lemonade but to hit them like vodka."


Image of the Day: Politics & Prose's Union Market Relocation

Politics and Prose has relocated its branch at Union Market District in Washington, D.C., expanding into a 3,600-square-foot space that is situated among many shops and restaurants.

Personnel Changes at Simon & Schuster; Barefoot Books

Ali Cutrone, formerly executive director of online sales at Hachette Book Group, is joining Simon & Schuster as v-p, digital and online sales, effective March 12.


Suzanne Albert has joined Barefoot Books as v-p, global sales. She was most recently v-p of sales for Callisto Media and earlier was v-p of business development at Meredith Corp. and executive director of business development at Hachette.

Chalkboard: Bookery Manchester

Found outside Bookery Manchester, Manchester, N.H.: "Inside: Great books, awesome coffee, friendly people. Outside: I dunno... raptors probably... I wouldn't risk it..."

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Bradley Onishi on Fresh Air

Fresh Air: Bradley Onishi, author of Preparing for War: The Extremist History of White Christian Nationalism--and What Comes Next (Broadleaf Books, $28.99, 9781506482163).

Good Morning America: Zibby Owens, author of Blank: A Novel (Little A, $28.99, 9781662516696).

Also on GMA: Rex Chapman, co-author of It's Hard for Me to Live with Me: A Memoir (Simon & Schuster, $27.99, 9781982197773).

CBS Mornings: Sen. Bernie Sanders, author of It's OK to Be Angry About Capitalism (Crown, $20, 9780593238738).

Today Show: Laura Vitale, author of Laura in the Kitchen: Favorite Italian-American Recipes Made Easy (Clarkson Potter, $24.99, 9780804187138).

New Yorker Radio Hour with David Remnick: Kara Swisher, author of Burn Book: A Tech Love Story (Simon & Schuster, $30, 9781982163891).

This Weekend on Book TV: The Rancho Mirage Writers Festival

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, March 2
3:50 p.m. Jason Bohm, author of Washington's Marines: The Origins of the Corps and the American Revolution, 1775-1777 (Savas Beatie, $34.95, 9781611216264).

Sunday, March 3
8 a.m. Garrett M. Graff, author of UFO: The Inside Story of the US Government's Search for Alien Life Here--and Out There (Avid Reader Press, $32.50, 9781982196776). (Re-airs Sunday at 8 p.m.)

9:15 a.m. Leila Philip, author of Beaverland: How One Weird Rodent Made America (Twelve, $19.99, 9781538755204). (Re-airs Sunday at 9:15 p.m.)

10 a.m. Kara Swisher, author of Burn Book: A Tech Love Story (Simon & Schuster, $30, 9781982163891). (Re-airs Sunday at 10 p.m.)

2 p.m. to 7:25 p.m. Coverage of the 2024 Rancho Mirage Writers Festival in Rancho Mirage, Calif. Highlights include:

  • 2 p.m. David R. Gergen, author of Hearts Touched with Fire: How Great Leaders are Made.
  • 2:47 p.m. Adam Kinzinger, author of Renegade: Defending Democracy and Liberty in Our Divided Country.
  • 3:33 p.m. Sheila Johnson, author of Walk Through Fire: A Memoir of Love, Loss, and Triumph.
  • 4:18 p.m. Anne Applebaum, author of Twilight of Democracy: The Seductive Lure of Authoritarianism, and Ezra Klein, author of Why We're Polarized.
  • 5:04 p.m. Cassidy Hutchinson, author of Enough.
  • 6:34 p.m. Richard V. Reeves, author of Of Boys and Men: Why the Modern Male Is Struggling, Why It Matters, and What to Do about It.

7:30 p.m. An interview with Tony Lyons, president and publisher of Skyhorse Publishing.

Books & Authors

Awards: Bernstein Book Journalism Finalists

The New York Public Library has announced the five finalists for its $15,000 2024 Helen Bernstein Book Award for Excellence in Journalism, which honors "nonfiction books written by working journalists that raise awareness of current events or societal issues that impact readers."

The finalists:
Crossings: How Road Ecology Is Shaping the Future of our Planet by Ben Goldfarb (W. W. Norton)
How to Make a Killing: Blood, Death, and Dollars in American Medicine by Tom Mueller (W. W. Norton)
Some People Need Killing: A Memoir of Murder in My Country by Patricia Evangelista (Random House)
The Heat Will Kill You First: Life and Death on a Scorched Planet by Jeff Goodell (Little, Brown)
We Were Once a Family: A Story of Love, Death, and Child Removal in America by Roxanna Asgarian (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

Attainment: New Titles Out Next Week

Selected new titles appearing next Tuesday, March 5:

Never Too Late: A Novel by Danielle Steel (Delacorte Press, $29, 9780593498408) follows a rich widow and her adult daughters in New York City.

Big Time: A Novel by Ben H. Winters (Mulholland, $29, 9780316305778) is a sci-fi thriller set in a world where time can be harvested from people.

The Hunter: A Novel by Tana French (Viking, $32, 9780593493434) follows a Chicago cop relocating to the Irish countryside.

The New Couple in 5B: A Novel by Lisa Unger (Park Row, $28.99, 9780778333340) is a thriller about a New York couple who inherit a mysterious luxury apartment.

The Great Divide: A Novel by Cristina Henriquez (Ecco, $30, 9780063291324) follows a variety of characters during the construction of the Panama Canal.

Finlay Donovan Rolls the Dice: A Novel by Elle Cosimano (Minotaur, $28, 9781250846006) is book four in the Finlay Donovan humorous mystery series.

Finding Sophie: A Novel by Imran Mahmood (Ballantine Books, $28, 9780593723586) is the U.K. barrister's U.S. debut.

Hope Is a Rainbow by Hoda Kotb, illus. by Chloe Dominique (Flamingo/Penguin, $19.99, 9780593624128) is the Today show co-anchor's third illustrated book for children.

Penny Draws a Secret Adventure by Sara Shepard (Putnam, $14.99, 9780593616833) is the third book in the illustrated middle-grade series about a girl who doodles to deal with anxiety.

Radiant: The Life and Line of Keith Haring by Brad Gooch (Harper, $40, 9780062698261) is a biography of the 1980s New York artist.

3 Shades of Blue: Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Bill Evans, and the Lost Empire of Cool by James Kaplan (Penguin Press, $35, 9780525561002) explores jazz in 1959 America through three major artists.

The House of Hidden Meanings: A Memoir by RuPaul (Dey Street, $29.99, 9780063263901) is the memoir of the drag superstar.

In True Face: A Woman's Life in the CIA, Unmasked by Jonna Mendez (PublicAffairs, $30, 9781541703124) is the memoir of a female spy during the Cold War.

Waves in an Impossible Sea: How Everyday Life Emerges from the Cosmic Ocean by Matt Strassler (Basic Books, $32, 9781541603295) explores the physics of "empty" space.

Dusty Booze: In Search of Vintage Spirits by Aaron Goldfarb (Abrams, $27, 9781419766794) chronicles the world of old liquor and those who search for it.

Aftermarket Afterlife (InCryptid Book 13) by Seanan McGuire (DAW, $17, 9780756418618).

Swift and Saddled: A Rebel Blue Ranch Novel by Lyla Sage (Dial Press, $17.99, 9780593732434).

The Dawn and Its Light (The Night and Its Moon Book 4) by Piper CJ (Bloom Books, $18.99, 9781728270791).

Force of Nature: A Celebration of Girls and Women Raising Their Voices by Kate T. Parker (Workman, $19.99, 9781523505524).

Me vs. Brain: An Overthinker's Guide to Life by Hayley Morris (Union Square, $17.99, 9781454953821).

Speculations in Sin (A Below Stairs Mystery Book 7) by Jennifer Ashley (Berkley, $18, 9780593549919).

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:

The City of Stardust by Georgia Summers (Redhook, $29, 9780316561488). "Full of intrigue and mystery, The City of Stardust is a whimsical adult fantasy novel with intricate worldbuilding and beautiful, immersive writing. This book is perfect for the readers who love to get lost in a whole, different world." --Sara Canelon, Adventures by the Book, San Diego, Calif.

The Busy Body: A Novel by Kemper Donovan (A John Scognamiglio Book, $27, 9781496744531). "This crazy caper will keep you eagerly turning the pages until the mystery is solved. The funky cast of characters are all-too relatable and their exploits keep getting nuttier until the final reveal. This is a fun, truly entertaining read." --Sarah Badger, Bright Side Bookshop, Flagstaff, Ariz.

B.F.F.: A Memoir of Friendship Lost and Found by Christie Tate (Avid Reader Press, $17.99, 9781668009437). "Tate's honesty leaves me in awe of her. In B.F.F., she writes about her struggle to form and maintain close female friendships and the work she does to fix it. In this memoir, she brings the reader in to see all the darkest parts of herself." --Mallory Melton, BookPeople, Austin, Tex.

Ages 0+
Hippos Remain Calm by Sandra Boynton (Boynton Bookworks, $18.99, 9781665938532). "We can always use more Sandra Boynton and more of her Hippos, especially reading their Hippoetry! A great read-aloud with multiple tangents and distractions--and of course, music." --Carrie Koepke, Skylark Bookshop, Columbia, Mo.

Ages 8 to 12
The Doomsday Archives: The Wandering Hour by Zack Loran Clark and Nick Eliopulos (Zando Young Readers, $17.99, 9781638930303). "A fast-paced romp that's tense when appropriate, with a sprinkle of poetic reflections between spooks. What happens when you're called to adventure, but you don't want to? What if being a little weird is the best way to save the world?" --Ivy Stevens, Buffalo Street Books, Ithaca, N.Y.

Teen Readers: An Indies Introduce Title
That's Not My Name by Megan Lally (Sourcebooks Fire, $11.99, 9781728270111). "That's Not My Name is binge-worthy. 50 pages in, I knew I wouldn't be sleeping until I figured out who Mary Boone is! Incredible characters, intriguing twists, and bombshell revelations... you are not prepared for this--that's what makes it so great." --Molly Olivo, Child's Play, Washington, D.C.

[Many thanks to IndieBound and the ABA!]

Book Review

Review: Sipsworth

Sipsworth by Simon Van Booy (Godine, $26.95 hardcover, 240p., 9781567927948, May 7, 2024)

Simon Van Booy's Sipsworth is a delightfully funny, poignant, surprising novel about an octogenarian widow who has all but given up when she finds an unusual reason to reinvest in life. The story takes place over two weeks, in private spaces, and features events that on the surface appear small in scale, but have far-ranging consequences and meaning for its human and nonhuman protagonists, with whom readers cannot help but fall in love.

Helen Cartwright had lived abroad for six decades when she returned to the English village in which she was born and raised. Her beloved husband and cherished son have both died, and she now lives alone, sad, reclusive, in a pensioner's cottage. "Life for her was finished. She knew that and had accepted it. Each day was an impersonation of the one before with only a slight shuffle--as though even for death there is a queue."

"Then early one morning, something happens." Helen brings in a neighbor's rubbish, to go through it on her own time; something reminded her of her son. She has inadvertently also brought in a tenant: a mouse, which initially repulses her. On an inexplicable impulse, she begins to feed it, to keep it safe, and her choice to care for something beyond herself will lead her to leave the house, to interact with people (librarian, hardware storekeeper), and to the terrible realization that if she dies now, the mouse will starve in the enclosure she has designed. "For the first time in many years, against her better judgment," Helen is "not dying." Unexpectedly, the accidental company of the mouse she calls Sipsworth forces Helen to rediscover the world and a reason to live.

Helen begins by caring for Sipsworth in material ways (food, water, shelter) but winds up caring in broader ways. She talks to him, in remarkably confessional terms. They learn to trust one another. But it is not until a true emergency that the lessons of "a lost wish... granted" become clear. And it is only late in the book that a vital truth of Helen's own life is revealed.

Van Booy (Father's Day; The Presence of Absence; The Sadness of Beautiful Things) tells Helen's story in unadorned prose that however frequently offers lovely images and metaphor. Sipsworth features unassuming, deeply likable characters in an essentially quiet, simple tale. Sweet but not saccharine, tender, loving, and funny, this story of unlikely friendship and late-life new beginnings will charm any reader who has ever loved or lost. --Julia Kastner, librarian and blogger at pagesofjulia

Shelf Talker: A friendship between a widow and a mouse brings outward ripples of positivity in this surprising, compassionate comfort read.

Deeper Understanding

Among Friends: John Evans on the Growth of Lemuria Books

Among the many contributors to Among Friends: An Illustrated Oral History of American Book Publishing & Bookselling in the 20th Century, published last fall by Two Trees Press and distributed by Ingram Content Group, is John Evans, co-founder of Lemuria Books in Jackson, Miss. Here we reproduce his contribution, which focuses on the store's history and how, in its early days, its counterculture emphasis, its many first editions and rare books, its deep relationships with local and national writers and booksellers, helped it grow and differentiated it from chain store competition.

In 1975, newly married and naive, my wife, Mel, and I decided to create an alternative bookstore, named after the submerged and forgotten continent of Lemuria, that would foster a counterculture mentality in our community of Jackson, Mississippi. The store occupied a converted apartment on the backside of a small shopping complex. Our balcony faced a swamp, but the tiny Lemuria storefront was nestled between a ladies' dress shop and Poet's, the best music bar and restaurant in town.

Lemuria focused on art, quality fiction, psychology and the occult. Our selection grew out of the reference list in Ram Dass's Be Here Now, The Whole Earth Catalog and other catalogs like DeVorss and Co. and The Yes! Bookstore. We pooled $8,000 to buy our opening inventory and spent $2,000 to convert the apartment into a second-floor bookstore that felt more like someone's home. We built our own bookshelves and painted the space yellow.  

We were not selling many books so I began waiting tables in the bar next door and grew sprouts in our third-floor bathtub. During those first two years, we discovered new books and new readers. Soon, an Earth Shoes store, a vegetarian restaurant and other counterculture businesses opened around us. With Lemuria's poetry readings, wet T-shirt contests (!) hyped by the local radio station, live music and happy hours, the space grew into a happening scene.

In 1977, with savings of around $25,000, we moved the store to a high-end, open-air retail center designed to compete with the largest mall in Mississippi, which housed three national book chains. The move tripled our space to 1,200 square feet. I worked the store by myself the first Christmas, but by March 1978, I was so exhausted that I finally hired my first bookseller, Tom Gerald.

Tom and I became interested in developing a first-edition inventory as our main sideline, combining new and collectible books to make our inventory distinct and interesting. We added a glass-front bookcase and filled our tiny back room with first editions. I studied Bookman's Weekly at night and wrote other bookstores for their catalogs of rare books. As the complexity of our inventory increased, local authors began to take interest in our work.

The following year, Tom and I discovered a great young bookseller in 19-year-old Valerie Walley and created a system which remains the business model of Lemuria today. In 1980, Eudora Welty's Collected Stories came out, and we bought 500 copies and 50 limited editions. We then issued our first rare book catalog with a drawing by Tom of Miss Welty on the cover.

A few years later, Welty's One Writer's Beginnings, of which we bought 1,250 copies, was published by Harvard University Press, and our launch drove Miss Welty into mainstream readership, landing her on the New York Times bestseller list for more than a year. Meanwhile another mall with three more chain bookstores opened about ten minutes away. We were surrounded, but with the help of great writer friends and a growing group of readers, we persevered and began to outgrow our physical space.

Miss Welty introduced us to Walker Percy, Elizabeth Spencer, Reynolds Price and Richard Wilbur. Lawrence Ferlinghetti also visited Lemuria in our early days. The poet, master bookseller and publisher lent us his kind support, and later mailed us a piece of grass from Walt Whitman's grave which still hangs, framed, among Lemuria's bookshelves.

In 1980, I splurged on a print of the famous Ernest Hemingway photo by Yousuf Karsh, which hangs over our signing booth. We also issued an image of an Art Deco mermaid holding up a book from the ruins of Lemuria, which was still under water since we were not yet making a profit. After the next Christmas, with all the bills paid and money in the bank, we bought a print of the William Faulkner photograph by Henri Cartier-Bresson. It hangs next to Hemingway near a lovely photo of Eudora Welty given to us by the great rare bookseller Ralph Sipper of Joseph The Provider/Books in San Francisco.

Around 1984, I started designing a new Lemuria. I negotiated a short-term lease and aimed to move by spring 1988. We joined a partnership to build a three-story shopping hall across the interstate from our present parking lot, allowing me to show our customers exactly where we would be moving. It took three years to design and build Banner Hall. The new Lemuria was on the second floor in the back of the hall. We adapted a modern Art Deco style and designed a 600-square-foot children's store, which we named Oz, a 400-square-foot first editions room and a signing booth which would allow us to manage traffic flow while hosting big signings.

At last, we moved into our 3,500-square-foot bookstore and opened on April Fool's Day in 1988. Jim Harrison came to Jackson. We quickly sold more than 500 copies of his new novel, Dalva, and did a book signing. Miss Welty published Photographs a year later, selling 1,000 copies. Lemuria's friendship with Knopf grew as Sonny Mehta took an interest in our work and included Mississippi on many of his authors' tour schedules. We hosted the national opening for Donna Tartt's The Secret History, which sold 1,000 copies.

We settled into our new digs before the superstores came to town. Our first editions business grew as our collection grew, due to so many authors visiting and signing their new and earlier titles. All the while, our bond with our soul brother Richard Howorth of Square Books in Oxford, Mississippi, became stronger, turning the state into a literary mecca.

Around 1990, John Grisham teamed up with us as he was making his name nationally. His books got people in Mississippi reading like none before or since, and new readers visited Mississippi bookstores. As the superstores came to Jackson and the mall bookstores remained strong, John worked relentlessly to support our bookstore. Fueled by Grisham readers, Lemuria built up a local mystery following in the 1980s and '90s. The mystery genre grew our brand as a fiction bookstore.

We also established a signed monthly first editions subscription in 1993, with a reading by Willie Morris for his new book, New York Days, on the release date. That week, it was on the front page of the New York Times Book Review with an image of Willie, their first color author photo.

Those seven years of the First Editions Club showcased our brand and differentiated us from competing chain bookstores and the ever-growing Amazon. We computerized our inventory in 1995 and began laying the groundwork for an e-mail newsletter and website. With the First Editions Club as our masthead, we ventured into 2000 and beyond.

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