Shelf Awareness for Thursday, May 16, 2024


Blackstone Publishing: An Honorable Assassin (Nick Mason Novels #3) by Steve Hamilton

Clarion Books: The Man Who Didn't Like Animals by Deborah Underwood, Illlustrated by LeUyen Pham

Holiday House: Bye Forever, I Guess by Jodi Meadows and Team Canteen 1: Rocky Road by Amalie Jahn

Wednesday Books: Dust by Alison Stine

Running Press Kids: The Junior Witch's Handbook, The Junior Astrologer's Handbook, and The Junior Tarot Reader's Handbook by Nikki Van De Car

Scholastic Press: Ruin Road by Lamar Giles

News

AAP Sales: Up 0.2% in First Quarter

Total net book sales in the first quarter of 2024 in the U.S. rose 0.2%, to $2.995 billion, compared to the first quarter of 2023, representing sales of 1,277 publishers and distributed clients as reported to the Association of American Publishers.

Trade sales fell 2.8%, to $2.1 billion, in the quarter, with hardcovers down 4.9%, to $733.2 million, paperbacks off 3.4%, to $756.1 million, and mass market down 25.7%, to $31 million. E-book sales slipped 1.5%, to $255.6 million. Digital audio sales again stood out, with sales up 15.3%, to $243.6 million.

Sales by category in January-March 2024 compared to January-March 2023:


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Circana April Recap

Circana Books has released its April 2024 monthly books recap, which describes a 4% decrease in U.S. book market volume compared to April 2023. Circana attributes some of that decline to Easter's timing, which was in March this year, and notes that adult fiction and YA have "shown impressive resilience, outperforming last April."

Adult fiction saw its third consecutive month of growth. The romance and fantasy genres make up seven of April's top 10 adult bestsellers, with notable new releases from Emily Henry and Leigh Bardugo appearing on the list. Children's books, meanwhile, saw a dip in April.

Year-to-date, the market's overall decline has been improved to -2% from -3%.


Abrams Buys Taunton Books

Abrams has acquired Taunton Books, which publishes popular books on homebuilding, woodworking, gardening, crafts, food, and more, from Active Interest Media. Formerly known as Taunton Press, the publisher was bought by Active Interest Media last year.

Abrams president and CEO Mary McAveney said that the acquisition "strengthens Abrams' commitment to providing exceptional content for creative individuals across all skill levels. Taunton Books has developed direct sales channels that have nurtured relationships with highly engaged communities of passionate makers. We look forward to continuing the Taunton Books legacy of excellence."

Taunton Books titles reach more than 14 million DIY and maker enthusiasts directly in the U.S., Canada, and international markets through Taunton's magazines, TV series, and podcasts.

Taunton titles should complement Abrams' existing publishing program in food, craft, and gardening, such as Junior's Dessert Cookbook: 75 Recipes for Cheesecakes, Pies, Cookies, Cakes, and More; Container Gardening: 250 Design Ideas & Step-by-Step Techniques; Curvy Girl Crochet: 25 Patterns that Fit and Flatter; and several craft books by textile designer Kaffe Fassett, who is a current Abrams author. In addition, Abrams will now publish popular woodworking and homebuilding titles like Identifying Wood: Accurate Results with Simple Tools, Habitat for Humanity How to Build a House, and Farmhouse: Reimagining the Classic American Icon.


Tiger Book Shop in Hays, Kan., to Close

Tiger Book Shop, the off-campus bookstore at Fort Hays State University in Hays, Kan., will close May 15. The bookstore "served more than a dozen generations of Tigers, but the building's roots date back as far as 40 years under different ownership," Hays Post reported. It is currently hosting a final liquidation sale.

Store manager Jerome Conner, who has led the shop for 17 years, said the Tiger Book Shop had tried to adapt to the evolving landscape of school textbooks: "A lot of the industry went to textbook rentals. We went along with that and gave cheaper options to students so they didn't have to pay as much upfront."

The decline in business was ongoing due to a shift in buying habits, further amplified during the pandemic. "When Covid hit, everything went online with the campus," he said. "It made it more tricky to let students know we were here, and we never really bounced back since then.... We may be one of the last off-campus bookstores in the state of Kansas."


B&N Moving Tysons, Va., Store

Barnes & Noble is moving its store within the Tysons Corner Center mall in Tysons, Va., FFX Now reported.

On May 5, B&N shut down its existing space in the Tysons mall, which spanned 30,000 square feet across two levels and had been in operation since 2005. It will be moving into a 17,000-square-foot, single-level space in the same mall that previously housed an Arhaus furniture store. B&N expects the new, smaller space to be open by late spring or early summer 2025.


Notes

Image of the Day: NEIBA Spring Forum Keynote with Lois Lowry

At the opening keynote of the New England Independent Booksellers Association's Spring Forum this week in Manchester, N.H., Betsy Groban (l.), whose first children's book, published last week, is Pizza for Pia (Simon Spotlight), interviewed Lois Lowry, author of The Giver, whose latest book is Tree. Table. Book. (Clarion Books). The two friends shared many amusing stories about Lowry's life and career with a hall full of New England booksellers.


IPG Adds Nine Publishers

Independent Publishers Group has added nine new publishers, all former Small Press Distribution Clients, to its sales and distribution programs.

The publishers are: Black Lawrence Press; Blackwater Press; Bull City Press; Chax Press; Grid Books; Marsh Hawk Press; Ronsdale Press; Roof Books; and Sinister Wisdom. IPG will begin distributing the new clients on July 1 and plans to help them offset some expenses by aiding with consolidation and shipping of inventory from both Ingram and PSC.


Personnel Changes at Columbia Global Reports, Page One Media

Camille McDuffie, who has been publisher of Columbia Global Reports since the nonfiction imprint's founding in 2014, will retire in June. McDuffie began her publishing career in the publicity department at Viking Press, then joined Lynn Goldberg Communications, where, when she became president, the company was renamed Goldberg McDuffie Communications.

Jaime Leifer will succeed McDuffie. She comes to Columbia Global Reports from the Basic Books Group at Hachette, where she most recently was the associate publisher for Basic Books, Seal Press, PublicAffairs, and Bold Type Books. She started at PublicAffairs two decades ago as a publicity assistant, and later spent two years at the New Yorker, then returned to PublicAffairs as publicity director and was named associate publisher in 2014.

---

Gene Taft has joined Page One Media as senior publicity and communications strategist.

He is a 30-year veteran of the book publishing industry. He began his career at Columbia University Press, then worked for Simon & Schuster, Penguin, and the Overlook Press before becoming v-p, assistant publisher and director of publicity at PublicAffairs. He then founded GTPR, a marketing and public relations firm that he ran for 10 years. He was also the publicity manager at Johns Hopkins University Press and most recently, managed Loyalty Books in Washington, D.C., and Silver Spring, Md. He has also served for 15 years on the Gaithersburg (Maryland) Book Festival's organizing committee.


Media and Movies

Media Heat: Carvell Wallace on Fresh Air

Today:
Fresh Air: Carvell Wallace, author of Another Word for Love: A Memoir (MCD, $28, 9780374237820).


This Weekend on Book TV: The San Antonio Book 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.

Sunday, May 19
8 a.m. Brian Kilmeade, author of Teddy and Booker T.: How Two American Icons Blazed a Path for Racial Equality (Sentinel, $30, 9780593543825). (Re-airs Sunday at 8 p.m.)

9:10 a.m. Valerie Bauman, author of Inconceivable: Super Sperm Donors, Off-the-Grid Insemination, and Unconventional Family Planning (‎Union Square, $27.99, 9781454951438). (Re-airs Sunday at 9:10 p.m.)

10 a.m. Jim Wallis, author of The False White Gospel: Rejecting Christian Nationalism, Reclaiming True Faith, and Refounding Democracy (St. Martin's Essentials, $30, 9781250291899). (Re-airs Sunday at 10 p.m.)

2 to 7 p.m. Coverage of the 2024 San Antonio Book Festival, which took place last month in San Antonio, Tex. Highlights include:

  • 2 p.m. Matthew Bowman, author of The Abduction of Betty and Barney Hill: Alien Encounters, Civil Rights, and the New Age in America (Yale University Press, $30, 9780300251388).
  • 2:42 p.m. Joe Holley, author of Power: How the Electric Co-op Movement Energized the Lone Star State (Texas A&M University Press, $34.99, 9781648431562).
  • 3:21 p.m. Gary Paul Nabhan, author of Agave Spirits: The Past, Present, and Future of Mezcals (Norton, $17.99, 9781324076100).
  • 4:05 p.m. Ana Raquel Minian, author of In the Shadow of Liberty: The Invisible History of Immigrant Detention in the United States (Viking, $32, 9780593654255).
  • 4:48 p.m. Megan Kimble, author of City Limits: Infrastructure, Inequality, and the Future of America's Highways (Crown, $30, 9780593443781).
  • 5:32 p.m. Jesús Jesse Esparza, author of Raza Schools: The Fight for Latino Educational Autonomy in a West Texas Borderlands Town (University of Oklahoma Press, $95, 9780806192710).
  • 6:15 p.m. Cary Clack, author of More Finish Lines to Cross: Notes on Race, Redemption, and Hope (Maverick Books, $22.95, 9781595342713).


Books & Authors

Awards: RSL Ondaatje Winner

Fassbinder: Thousands of Mirrors by Ian Penman (Semiotex(t)e) has won the £10,000 (about $12,660) 2024 Royal Society of Literature Ondaatje Prize, given to "a distinguished work of fiction, non-fiction or poetry evoking the spirit of a place."

Chair of judges Xiaolu Guo said, "This is the only book I have read twice this year. Truly it is thousands of mirrors in terms of the thoughts, images and references running through this reflective and wonderfully interior work. The world of European cinema, especially Fassbinder's film seen through Ian Penman's eyes, has transported me to a tantalizing place called post-war Europe. The book brings me back to my youth and my film school years in the east and west, and it reminds me of how powerful images have shaped our very understanding of love and life."


Attainment: New Titles Out Next Week

Selected new titles appearing next Tuesday, May 21:

You Like It Darker: Stories by Stephen King (Scribner, $30, 9781668037713) contains 12 new and collected short horror stories.

Mind Games: A Novel by Nora Roberts (St. Martin's Press, $30, 9781250289698) follows a woman with psychic powers connecting her to a killer.

Lies and Weddings: A Novel by Kevin Kwan (Doubleday, $29, 9780385546294) is the latest from the author of Crazy Rich Asians.

Butcher: A Novel by Joyce Carol Oates (Knopf, $30, 9780593537770) is historical fiction about a cruel nineteenth century women's asylum.

One Perfect Couple by Ruth Ware (Gallery/Scout Press, $29.99, 9781668025598) is a thriller about five couples on a reality TV show stranded on an island with a murderer.

Tom Clancy Act of Defiance by Brian Andrews and Jeffrey Wilson (Putnam, $32, 9780593422878) is the 24th thriller with Jack Ryan.

What a Fool Believes: A Memoir by Michael McDonald with Paul Reiser (Dey Street, $32, 9780063357563) is a memoir by a member of the Doobie Brothers and Steely Dan.

In My Time of Dying: How I Came Face to Face with the Idea of an Afterlife by Sebastian Junger (Simon & Schuster, $27.99, 9781668050835) chronicles the near death experience of the author, director and war journalist.

Joyful Recollections of Trauma by Paul Scheer (HarperOne, $29.99, 9780063293717) is the memoir of the comedic actor.

American Civil Wars: A Continental History, 1850-1873 by Alan Taylor (Norton, $39.99, 9781324035282) explores a pivotal two decades in Canada, the U.S., and Mexico.

Prince and Purple Rain: 40 Years by Andrea Swensson with a foreword by Maya Rudolph (Motorbooks, $50, 9780760386491) celebrates the 1984 album Purple Rain with essays, photos, and more.

The Rainbow Parade by Shane Jordan and Rick Hendrix, illus. by Jieting Chen (Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, $18.99, 9781464224188) is a prideful picture book about LGBTQIA+ identities and allies.

The Plant Rescuer by Matthew Rivera (Neal Porter/Holiday House, $18.99, 9780823454990) features a boy from a long line of gardeners taking care of his very first plant.

Old Time Hawkey's Recipes from the Cedar Swamp by Old Time Hawkey (DK, $32, 9780744093902) contains 100 rustic recipes.

Paperbacks:
Here Today: Oklahoma's Ghost Towns, Vanishing Towns, and Towns Persisting against the Odds by Jeffrey B. Schmidt (University of Oklahoma Press, $24.95, 9780806193724).

The Medicine Woman of Galveston by Amanda Skenandore (Kensington, $17.95, 9781496741684).

Savor It: A Novel by Tarah DeWitt (St. Martin's Griffin, $18, 9781250329424).

Just Go: A Globe-Trotting Guide to Travel Like an Expert, Connect Like a Local, and Live the Adventure of a Lifetime by Drew Binsky (BenBella, $21.95, 9781637742693).

Cow Hug Therapy: How the Animals at the Gentle Barn Taught Me about Life, Death, and Everything in Between by Ellie Laks (New World Library, $19.95, 9781608688685).

Murder at the Spelling Bee by Lee Hollis (Kensington Cozies, $8.99, 9781496736550).


IndieBound: Other Indie Favorites

From last week's Indie bestseller lists, available at IndieBound.org, here are the recommended titles, which are also Indie Next Great Reads:

Hardcover
888 Love and the Divine Burden of Numbers: A Novel by Abraham Chang (Flatiron, $29.99, 9781250910783). "Young recalls the first five loves of his life while making his way through his sophomore year of college with his sixth love, Erena. The book is warm and loving, peppered with '80s and '90s pop culture references and so many possibilities." --Paul Swydan, The Silver Unicorn Bookstore, Acton, Mass.

A Magical Girl Retires: A Novel by Park Seolyeon, trans. by Anton Hur (HarperVia, $21.99, 9780063373266). "A quixotic blend of fantasy and reality. Magical girls are real, but so too are credit card debt, COVID-19, and mass unemployment. This strangely nostalgic, deceptively simple novel taps into both the dreams and anxieties of millenials." --Shay Shortt, Brick & Mortar Books, Redmond, Wash.

Paperback: An Indies Introduce Title
A Letter to the Luminous Deep by Sylvie Cathrall (Orbit, $18.99, 9780316565530). "Sylvie Cathrall wraps cozy aquatic academia, strange abyssal mysteries, and deeply endearing characters into one delightful epistolary novel that is sure to reel you in! A fun and cozy science fiction/fantasy that pulls at your heartstrings!" --Oli Schmitz, Boswell Book Company, Milwaukee, Wis.

Ages 3 to 7
Roy Is Not a Dog by Esmé Shapiro and Daniel Newell Kaufman (Tundra Books, $18.99, 9780735265967). "This quirky children's book is totally charming--and the answer to 'is Roy a dog?' made me laugh out loud! Weasel strongly suspects that the mysterious person who lives at the end of the lane is a dog and puts his best detective skills to the test." --Kate Storhoff, Bookmarks, Winston-Salem, N.C.

Ages 8 to 12
Timid: A Graphic Novel by Jonathan Todd (Graphix, $12.99, 9781338305708). "Remember trying to make friends in a new school? Take that and add a huge culture shift from Florida to Massachusetts. Cecil's internal monologue will feel very familiar to shy kids. I absolutely love how he stands up for his love of making art." --Kristin Richland, Phoenix Books, Burlington, Vt.

Teen Readers
The Vanishing Station by Anna Ellickson (Amulet Books, $19.99, 9781419764226). "Ruby knows that ever since her mother died, her father has changed. As the book opens, Ruby follows her father in an attempt to find out what is really going on, only to discover a magical underworld full of secrets, art and trains. An outstanding debut!" --Shannon Alden, Literati Bookstore, Ann Arbor, Mich.

[Many thanks to IndieBound and the ABA!]


Book Review

Review: Nicked

Nicked by M.T. Anderson (Pantheon, $28 hardcover, 240p., 9780593701607, July 23, 2024)

The cleverness of this page-turner begins with its title, Nicked. It triples as the book's central action, the object of the theft, and the humble monk whose dream sets the chain of events in motion.

National Book Award-winning author M.T. Anderson (Feed; The Assassination of Brangwain Spurge), making his adult debut, sets the stage with eerily modern elements for this 11th-century tale set in Italy and based on true events. Invaders and a pox are rapidly spreading throughout the land, making some people gravely ill, and the rest fearful of going out. This is certainly the case in Bari, where Nicephorus serves in the Benedictine monastery: "In an age of sickness; in a time of rage; in an epoch when tyrants take their seats beneath the white domes of capitals." Bari "sat at the heel of Italy, the crossroads of the Mediterranean," a stop for many soldiers, sailors, and traders.

As the novel opens, the Archbishop of Bari has instructed Nicephorus and his brothers to pray to St. Nicholas for healing and guidance. Nicephorus has a dream: "In the dream, the saint told me we cannot wait," he tells the abbot of his monastery. "We must leave our nest." The abbot conveniently interprets the dream as the saint's wish to have his remains moved from Myra, where St. Nicholas had served as bishop, to Bari. Thousands of pilgrims visit the saint, bringing wealth to the village. The saint's body "weeps an ichor" with healing properties that the abbot could use to cure the pox.

Nicephorus, who "had an irritatingly pure and generous heart," thinks the abbot's made quite a leap of logic. He goes about his day and wheels an invalid to the wharf, where a "dog-headed man on a ship" has been spotted. With the cynocephale, called Reprobus, is a Tartar, boasting of having retrieved "a phial of the seed of Adam" from the East. He is Tyun, the "saint hunter." Tyun's boasting contrasts comically with Nicephorus's compulsion for truth-telling. Soon the two form an unlikely alliance as part of the Norman-led team that attempts to reach Myra and pilfer the saint's bones before the Venetians can. (Bari offered to pay Tyun twice what the Venetians promised him.)

Anderson humorously exploits the polar-opposite qualities of Tyun and Nicephorus, as well as the blind spots of power-hungry leaders. A young, prideful Venetian prince jockeys for position with the "heavily chiseled Norman" who leads Bari's charge. The author flirts with blasphemy--Tyun's speculations about the source of St. Nick's healing "ooze" ("I suspect the sarcophagus has a cock.... A spigot"), the sisters' indulgence in sins of the flesh at the nunnery where Tyun and Nicephorus take refuge, and Nicephorus's growing attraction to Tyun.

But alongside the humor and tension, Anderson plumbs questions of what constitutes as faith, and the circularity of human history: "[T]he victory feast of one creature, he knew well, was always the corpse of another," reflects Reprobus. The tale ends with a delectable twist and a tantalizing possibility of further relic hunts. --Jennifer M. Brown, reviewer

Shelf Talker: NBA-winning author M.T. Anderson's humorous, suspenseful adult debut, inspired by an actual 11th-century heist of St. Nicholas's remains, deftly demonstrates the circularity of human history.


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