Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Algonquin Young Readers: the Beautiful Game by Yamile Saied Méndez

Berkley Books: Books that will sweep you off your feet! Enter Giveaway!

Feiwel & Friends: The Flicker by HE Edgmon

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers: The Pumpkin Princess and the Forever Night by Steven Banbury

St. Martin's Griffin: Murdle: The School of Mystery: 50 Seriously Sinister Logic Puzzles by GT Karber


Pushkin Press Acquires Steerforth Press

British publisher Pushkin Press has acquired Steerforth Press and sister company
Hanover Publisher Services, which will be merged into Steerforth Press and Services, effective in July. Chip Fleischer, co-founder of Steerforth, remains a senior editor and will be acquiring six to eight new titles per year, as the business continues to invest in Steerforth's nonfiction publishing.

The enhanced Steerforth Press and Services team now includes Zandra Rose as associate manager for marketing and publicity. A new publicist, focusing on campaigns for Steerforth and Pushkin titles publishing in North America, will be appointed shortly. 

"We've worked with the Steerforth and HPS team for nearly 10 years, with great success, and our North American sales have continued to increase every year," said Pushkin Press publisher Adam Freudenheim. "It was therefore a natural step to acquire Steerforth and HPS when the opportunity arose. Chip is a terrific editor of nonfiction, and I'm delighted he's agreed to stay on in this capacity to grow and develop the Steerforth list. Pushkin's publishing has gone from strength to strength in recent years, across all our imprints, making it the perfect moment to focus more effort and energy here in this market, particularly on marketing and publicity; and both Pushkin and Steerforth share a longstanding appreciation for independent bookstores and booksellers. I'm hugely excited--as are all my colleagues--about this development and the closer transatlantic collaboration this entails."

Fleischer commented: "The Steerforth and Pushkin teams have worked together for almost a decade. From the standpoint of a strategic business partnership, the mix of assets, relationships, expertise, and editorial programs could not be a more perfect fit. On a personal note, I'm eager to realize my dream of concentrating my time and attention on acquiring and editing manuscripts; it's the work that brings me the most joy and where I feel I add the most value. My colleagues, the partners with whom I co-founded Steerforth, and I are thrilled that Adam Freudenheim is now Steerforth's new publisher, and we look forward to the next 30 years."

As Steerforth Press and Services, the team will continue to work with Archipelago Books and Campfire Graphic Novels as distribution clients with Penguin Random House Publisher Services.

Blackstone Publishing: Rogue Community College: A Liberty House Novel by David R Slayton

Bloomsbury Buying Rowman & Littlefield's Academic Business

Bloomsbury Publishing is buying the Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group's academic publishing business for $83 million, Bloomsbury's largest acquisition and "making Bloomsbury a leading U.S. academic publisher," the company said. The deal does not include Rowman & Littlefield's trade distributor National Book Network, the Globe Pequot lists (with the exception of the Applause and Backbeat imprints), the trade publishing arm, Sundance-Newbridge, and the K-8 education business.

In 2023, Rowman & Littlefield's academic business had revenues of $36 million with before-tax profit of $6 million.

Bloomsbury said that "the combined business" will publish some 97,000 titles, "creating a significant platform for further growth, cementing Bloomsbury's strong market position in core subject areas and strengthening areas where the company is building a presence such as business and psychology. The acquisition will enable us to focus the combined Bloomsbury Academic business on deeper global market penetration, subject area expansion and continued innovation in digital scholarship and learning."

In addition, the purchase will "accelerate" Bloomsbury Digital Resources as the company "applies its proven ability to create digital growth to Rowman & Littlefield's market leading titles, expanding BDR products and driving innovation."

Bloomsbury's academic division focuses on the arts, humanities and social sciences, law, business and management, and study skills. It includes Fairchild Books, Hart Publishing, I.B. Tauris, Methuen Drama, The Arden Shakespeare, T&T Clark and Zed Books. In 2021, Bloomsbury acquired Red Globe Press from Macmillan Education Limited as well as ABC-CLIO.

Bloomsbury chief executive Nigel Newton called the purchase "a game-changer for Bloomsbury. Rowman & Littlefield is one of the few independent U.S. academic publishers of such scale, and it is great that our discussions with [Rowman & Littlefield head] Jed Lyons have led to this acquisition. Their 40,000 academic titles added to ours will make us a significant U.S. academic publisher, growing Bloomsbury's academic and digital publishing presence in North America, opening new markets and publishing areas to Bloomsbury, and is a key milestone in the delivery of our long-term growth strategy."

Noting that Rowman & Littlefield is marking its 75th anniversary this year, president and CEO Jed Lyons, said, "When Nigel Newton approached me and described his vision for how our academic businesses would complement Bloomsbury's academic business, it soon became clear that there is a compelling fit. The superb publishing team that runs the Rowman & Littlefield academic business will find a welcoming home at Bloomsbury and our authors will benefit from the global reach of Bloomsbury's."

Bloomsbury US president Sabrina McCarthy commented, "The acquisition of the academic imprints of Rowman & Littlefield solidifies Bloomsbury Academic's position in the U.S. and globally as an important publisher. We are thrilled to welcome over 115 new colleagues to the team. Their academic expertise, impressive list of authors and strong backlist will help to grow the Bloomsbury Digital Resources portfolio and title offering in any format to academic readers across the globe.

"Our academic division stands for excellence and originality in scholarship, learning and professional practice. Rowman & Littlefield, along with our most recent acquisition of ABC-Clio, ensures we are an ambitious force to address  the changing market opportunity from K-12 schools to higher education and beyond. It cements Bloomsbury's overall presence in the U.S. as a major independent publisher."

Shareholders Vote to Take Indigo Books & Music Private

At a special meeting held on Monday, Indigo Books & Music shareholders approved a C$2.50 (US$1.83) per share offer from Trilogy Retail Holdings and Trilogy Investments, which already held a 56% stake in the Canadian retailer. In February, Indigo had received a proposal to privatize the company from Trilogy, which is owned by Indigo's controlling shareholder Gerald Schwartz, who sits on the board of directors and is the spouse of Indigo founder and CEO Heather Reisman. After stepping back as CEO in the fall of 2022, Reisman returned to the position last September following the sudden resignation of Peter Ruis.

At the meeting this week, the resolution was approved by 95.09% of the votes cast by company shareholders, and 82.49% of the votes cast by minority shareholders. Indigo is scheduled to seek a final order from the Ontario Superior Court of Justice approving the transaction tomorrow. In addition to receipt of the final order, the completion of the deal is subject to the satisfaction or waiver of other customary conditions. Assuming the remaining conditions are satisfied, it is expected that the arrangement will be effective on or about May 31.

"We are pleased with the result of today's vote and look forward to continuing our work on Indigo's transformation strategy," said Reisman. "We remain deeply committed to our customers and to all our stakeholders as we work together to inspire reading and enrich the lives of booklovers across the country."

Following completion of the deal, the common shares of Indigo will be delisted from the Toronto Stock Exchange. Trilogy also intends to have Indigo to apply to cease to be a reporting issuer under applicable Canadian securities laws, and to otherwise terminate Indigo's public reporting requirements.

"The privatization allows Indigo to avoid some scrutiny as it works to bring profitability and growth back to Canada's biggest bookstore," CBC News reported, adding that Trilogy "now faces a hefty amount of work. Indigo is still recovering from a cyber attack that downed its website for a lengthy period last year, a series of quarterly losses leading up to a January layoff, and a succession of changes that saw four of 10 board members depart last year with one claiming mistreatment and 'a loss of confidence in board leadership.' "

Narrative Opens in Somerville, Mass.

Narrative, a new and used bookstore with an emphasis on stories by and about people of color, opened over the weekend in Somerville, Mass., reported.

Owner Mila Hossain opened the shop, which is located at 387 Highland Ave. in Davis Square, to customers for the first time on Sunday. Opening day saw a line of customers waiting to enter the store, and Hossain "almost completely sold out" of her opening inventory, noted. Hossain later wrote on Instagram: "It was so overwhelming to see how much you all believed in Narrative and what I'm trying to do through it."

She held her first in-store author event on Monday, featuring mother and daughter team Dr. Shan Woo Liu and Kaili Liu Gormley, authors of Masked Hero: The Story of Wu Lien-teh. Author events with Sahaj Kaur Kohli (But What Will People Say) and Diana Rojas (Litany of Saints) are also scheduled for the store's first week.

Hossain plans to host regular author events and "create a space for people where they can come and find connection somehow and feel a little bit less lonely and feel a little bit more joy." The inventory will feature "representation everywhere," with books by people of color that are "for everyone."

At 11 years old, Hossain and her family emigrated from Bangladesh to the U.S. Books were a source of comfort while she adjusted to her new home, and she has remained an avid reader ever since. In the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, Hossain found a mental health community on Instagram called Brown Girl Therapy that helped her realize her dream of opening a bookstore. The group's founder, Sahaj Kaur Kohli, will be one of the store's first visiting authors.

Hossain told that after moving from Denver to Somerville, "this is the most at home I think I've ever really felt. A big part of that is when we first moved here we were just kind of walking around exploring and... we heard so many different people speaking so many different languages."

Ralph Woodward Remembered

We thank Beth Martin of Northeast Publishers Reps for sharing these recollections about her father, Ralph Woodward, a legend in the publishing industry and in his beloved New England:

Ralph Woodward

It's with great sadness to inform you that my father, Ralph Woodward, died peacefully on May 20.

After graduating from Princeton in 1951, he knew he wanted to work in publishing. He got his first job at the New York Journal American, a daily newspaper owned by William Randolph Hearst. He was the "errand boy" for the editor and lasted six months or so. He then got a position at George P. Putnam's and Sons where he first learned all about the publishing business. He became the jack of all trades, writing copy, selling, and organizing things. This lasted two years until he got his big break at Doubleday: he began his journey as a sales rep traveling the Southeast, where he met my mother, Betty Southgate, at a Nashville bookstore, of course! They married, and he continued as a road warrior.

A colleague at Knopf recommended him to Pat Knopf, and he then became part of their publishing family selling in the Midwest. Two years later, he was appointed the advertising manager for the firm. If you remember John Updike's first bestselling novel, Rabbit Run, Ralph wrote the ad for the announcement in the New York Times. This is one of his personal favorite achievements. 

He then went to Meredith Press, which at the time was a new publishing house, where he began as sales manager and ultimately became managing director.  After that, he moved to Boston and worked for Little, Brown. He began as the general manager of the children's book division and was responsible for introducing the initial and immensely successful Sesame Street Books derived from the classic TV show. He went on to be the marketing director for all Little, Brown adult and children's books, supervising the advertising, promotion and sales of many noted authors.

In 1974, he decided to become an independent commission rep, forming New England Books & Arts and later, Consolino and Woodward. He was able to gather 40-plus publishers and began his last journey in life as a New England rep until he retired in 1996. He was very active with the New England Booksellers Association, serving on its board, and organized its very first trade show. He was also a founder of the National Association of Independent Publishers Representatives (NAIPR).

I know that many folks had the pleasure of him coming to your bookstores with those canvas bags full of samples, a tradition that I now carry on for him.

He spent the last few years at Heritage House in Framingham, Mass., where he became one of its beloved residents. He also got a lot of pleasure introducing the residents to a weekly poker night. He told me he felt a bit guilty taking everyone's money but that didn't stop him! He loved opera, classical music, reading the classics, chess, chorus and was tapped to be the MC at many events.

Asked if he had a favorite quote or words to live by, he answered: "Simplicity of Life, Self-Reliance and Directness of Purpose."

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Minute Man ARC or visit your local independent bookstore.

Here is a link if you'd like to send stories or messages. I know he loved the business and all the great independent booksellers he called on.

G.L.O.W. - Galley Love of the Week
Be the first to have an advance copy!
A Forty Year Kiss
by Nickolas Butler
GLOW: A Forty Year Kiss by Nickolas Butler

A Forty Year Kiss by Nickolas Butler is a passionate, emotionally complex love story that probes tender places within the heart and soul. When 60-somethings Charlie and Vivian--married then divorced in their 20s--reunite after four decades, they are swept up by the very best of what their romantic relationship once offered. "Anyone who has ever thought about what might have been will find this book fascinating," says Shana Drehs, senior editorial director at Sourcebooks Landmark. "The story is a brilliant exploration of a second chance at love, always realistic but never saccharine." As Charlie and Vivian build a bridge from past to present, their enduring love paving over potholes, Butler (Shotgun Lovesongs) raises questions about how life changes people--or does it?--and delivers another heartening, unforgettable novel. --Kathleen Gerard, blogger at Reading Between the Lines

(Sourcebooks Landmark, $27.99 Hardcover, 9781464221248, 
February 4, 2025)


Shelf vetted, publisher supported


Image of the Day: Brazos Bookstore Hosts Vaishani Patel

Brazos Bookstore in Houston, Tex., hosted Vaishani Patel (r.) in conversation with Chitra Divakaruni for the launch of Patel's novel Goddess of the River (Redhook) during Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month.

IPG Adds Six Publishers

IPG has added six new publishers to its sales and distribution programs:

GracePoint Publishing, Colorado Springs, Colo., which specializes in supporting leaders, teachers, coaches, and creatives to get words on paper and thoughts out to their audience. (Worldwide, effective September 1.)

Upriver Press, Colorado Springs, Colo.--"the younger sibling of Endeavor Literary Press"--which publishes scholarly nonfiction exploring issues in economics, art, science, history, political science, technology, and current affairs. Its titles, including The Resilient Society and Disrupting Racism, bring scholarly research to broader audiences. (Worldwide, effective July 1.)

Belle Point Press, Fort Smith, Ark., a regional press celebrating the literary culture and community of the American Mid-South. Belle Pointe publishes poetry, fiction, and nonfiction titles across genres. Belle Pointe has three frontlist titles to release later this year, including Hungry and the Haunted by American Book Award winner Rilla Askew. (Worldwide, effective July 1.)

New India Publishing Agency (NIPA), New Delhi, India, which publishes a variety of educational and informational texts in the science and technology fields. (Distributed by Eurospan, IPG's academic and professional division, worldwide excluding India, effective July 1.)

Emmaus Academic, the academic publishing arm of the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology, which publishes scholarship that integrates scriptural, patristic, and medieval traditions with modern approaches to cut across the boundaries of contemporary academic disciplines. (Distributed by Eurospan, IPG's academic and professional division, worldwide excluding North America and Oceania, effective July 1.)

Curtis Press, which publishes thought-provoking texts on science and satire. (Distributed by Eurospan, IPG's academic and professional division, worldwide, excluding the U.K. and North America, was effective May 1.)

Personnel Changes at Simon & Schuster Canada

Dan French has been named v-p, marketing and communications, for Simon & Schuster Canada, effective June 17. He has been associate director of marketing and publicity of Penguin Random House Canada.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Brittney Griner on the View

Good Morning America: Sunny Hostin, author of Summer on Sag Harbor: A Novel (Morrow, $30, 9780062994219). She will also appear on Live with Kelly and Mark.

Today Show: Constance Wu, author of Making a Scene (Scribner, $18.99, 9781982188559).

The View: Brittney Griner, author of Coming Home (Knopf, $30, 9780593801345).

TV: The String Diaries, Vampirates, Geek Girl

Steve Lightfoot is developing a TV adaptation of The String Diaries by Stephen Lloyd Jones with producer RubyRock Pictures and Sony Studios. Deadline reported that RubyRock's Zoë Rocha revealed the early-stage project along with an adaptation of Justin Somper's Vampirates book series, while providing details on Netflix's upcoming project based on Geek Girl by Holly Smale.

Lightfoot, who was the showrunner for Apple TV+'s Shantaram and Netflix's The Punisher, is currently writing the pilot for The String Diaries, a project that is part of RubyRock's strategy to adapt novels that may have "slipped the cracks five to 10 years ago" in what is an intensely competitive book market, Rocha said, adding: "Everything is going on pre-empts and is so beyond our price bracket but there is so much content out there that slips through. [Slightly older novels] are a really good place to look."

RubyRock is currently is working with Capricornia Content and Australia's Princess Pictures on an adaptation of the Vampirates novels, with the producers seeking a showrunner. 

More immediately, RubyRock said Netflix's Geek Girl has been made with Canada's Nelvana Studios and Aircraft Pictures and will launch on May 30. Starring Emily Carey and Sarah Parish, the project was co-adapted by Smale and is being made in a "bubble of its own," according to Rocha, who hopes to replicate a "fraction of the success" of Netflix YA hit Heartstopper.

"When [Netflix] made Heartstopper they had the pure intent of saying, 'This is a thing we are doing in our bubble' and then it caught the zeitgeist," she said. "We wanted that same feeling of creating something in a little bubble of its own and then seeing what happens."

Books & Authors

Awards: Prix Voltaire Shortlist

The International Publishers Association has released the shortlist for the Prix Voltaire, which honors "exceptional courage in upholding the freedom to publish... without which many forms of freedom of expression would be impossible." The laureate, who receives CHF10,000 (about $10,950), will be named in December at the International Publishers Congress in Guadalajara, Mexico. This year's shortlist includes:

Osman Kavala, co-founder of Ana Publishing and İletişim Publishing (Turkey)
Dušan Gojkov, Balkan Literary Herald (Serbia)
Aslambek Ezhaev, Ummah Publishing (Russia) 
Andrej Januskevic, Andrej Januskevic Publishing (Belarus)
Samir Mansour, Samir Mansour Bookshop for Printing and Publishing (Palestine) 

"These five publishers have demonstrated remarkable resilience and should serve as an inspiration to all of us. They remind us why what we do is so important," said IPA president Karine Pansa.

Reading with... Betty Corrello

Betty Corrello is a writer, comedian, and proud Philadelphian. Her greatest passion is writing stories where opposites attract, but love is chosen. Summertime Punchline (Avon Books, May 21, 2024), her first novel, is a second-chance romance in which an up-and-coming comedian unwillingly returns to her hometown for the summer and sparks unexpectedly fly between her and the boy who broke her heart 10 summers before.

Handsell readers your book in 25 words or less:

I'm going to steal the blurb Sarah Adler did for Summertime Punchline because she nailed it!

"Humor, heat, and steam collide in this charming story about how people and places change and grow whether we're there to witness it or not."

On your nightstand now:

I have a monstrous stack of romances on my nightstand right now. It's both terrifying and spectacular. Trouble by Lex Croucher on top of At First Spite by Olivia Dade on top of The Wall of Winnipeg and Me by Mariana Zapata on top of Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen. Just hits on hits on hits. And what am I doing with my time? Nothing important!

Every night I apologize to them, and every morning I kiss them goodbye before putting on my big red nose and clown makeup.

Favorite book when you were a child:

I was absolutely devoted to the Dear America series as a child. A fanatic! The more harrowing the story, the faster I lapped it up. I particularly loved A Coal Miner's Bride by Susan Campbell Bartoletti, which was probably the first romance I ever read. Nothing like a 13-year-old getting, essentially, human trafficked to uh... make you believe in love.

I also adored A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith. Everything about it spoke to me and made me want to be a writer.

Your top five authors:

This is such a hard question to answer. I did my best!

Zora Neale Hurston
Elena Ferrante
David Sedaris
Elif Batuman
Charlaine Harris

Book you've faked reading:

So many. I'm constantly pretending I've read more Kurt Vonnegut than I actually have. I don't think I've ever finished an entire book of his. But I really seem like the type of millennial woman that would be rabid for Kurt and believe me--I'd love that! But the guy refused to write paranormal romance! And that's usually what I'm in the mood for.

Book you're an evangelist for:

Subdivision by J. Robert Lennon. Everyone needs to know about this book. It's so, so good and always what I prescribe when someone tells me they're in a reading slump. It's unlike anything I've ever read before. You know those TikTok slideshows of AI-generated liminal spaces? This is the book version of that, while also being very funny and perfectly gut-wrenching.

Book you've bought for the cover:

Priestdaddy by Patricia Lockwood. Perfect name, perfect cover, perfect book.

Book you hid from your parents:

None, I was a perfect angel* and never broke any rules. *does fanfiction count?

Book that changed your life:

French Exit by Patrick deWitt. I reference it like it's the Holy Bible. My copy is so dog-eared, so underlined. It's a master class in comedic novel writing. The tone, pacing, punchlines. Chef's kiss.

Favorite line from a book:

Here are two lines that are tattooed across my brain:

"Love is like the sea. It's a moving thing, but still and all, it takes its shape from the shore it meets, and it's different with every shore." --Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God

"It is an impressively arrogant move to conclude that just because you don't like something, it is empirically not good. I don't like Chinese food, but I don't write articles trying to prove it doesn't exist." --Tina Fey, Bossypants

Five books you'll never part with:

  1. My annotated copy of Their Eyes Were Watching God from high school. It's a personal treasure. Sometimes we'd be prompted to underline a passage and at the time my brain was still too soft to understand the full extent of what was going on. But now I get it, and I feel like I have a piece of English class rigor with me that I can reference whenever I want.
  2. How to Eataly, an enormous encyclopedic cookbook on everything Italian cuisine.
  3. My childhood copy of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. Every time I reread it as a kid, I'd sign the inside cover.
  4. My annotated copy of Beach Read by Emily Henry
  5. On Writing by Stephen King

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

French Exit by Patrick deWitt

Books you're reading right now:

Physically reading: This Could Be Us by Kennedy Ryan
Listening to: Mixed Signals by B.K. Borison

Book Review

YA Review: Under the Surface

Under the Surface by Diana Urban (Putnam Books for Young Readers, $19.99 hardcover, 368p., ages 12-up, 9780593625088, August 13, 2024)

Under the Surface is a beautifully executed, subterranean adventure-gone-wrong, with a satisfying romantic angle and enough drama to keep the narrative hurtling forward.

Seventeen-year-old Ruby is in Paris with her class, on "the best trip in the history of forever." With the help of close friends Sean (who makes Ruby's blood go "warm and tingly") and Val (lover of "daredevil antics"), Ruby is on the hunt for eye-popping locations to film for her YouTube channel. When Val sneaks off alone to a party suggested by a French "hottie," Ruby is worried something might happen to her best friend. Despite her "tangled mess" of blonde hair and "jet-lagged" bloodshot eyes, Ruby slips away to bring Val back. She's caught sneaking out, though, by valedictorian Olivia as well as salutatorian and bestie-turned-nemesis Selena, who get pulled into the unfolding misadventure.

The girls find Val and hottie Julien about to head off to a party in the catacombs, and Ruby can't resist capturing this little-seen locale for YouTube. Most of the place is off-limits to the public, but Julien swears he's a "cataphile" who knows his way around; the group heads down a secret entrance into the intricate web of tunnels that house "the skeletal remains of six million long-dead Parisians." Their guide leads them through dark and narrow passageways until they reach a shaft--a shortcut to the party, apparently. But the ladder breaks when Selena climbs down, and the others take a different route to reach her. When they finally arrive, the "only sign of Selena is her blood." The group gets lost as they head back aboveground for help, and are chased by phantom whisperings, booming drums, and mysterious people in skull masks wielding knives. Meanwhile, at street level, Sean has discovered Ruby and Val are missing and desperately chases down any lead he can find.

Diana Urban (These Deadly Games) has found in Paris's catacombs the perfect setting for a creepy thriller. She expertly amps up the tension as her characters become increasingly desperate, and her use of Ruby's and Sean's first-person narratives places readers inside the action both above and below the streets of Paris. The nightmarish adventure plays out against a backdrop of high school intrigue, including the (possibly) budding romance of Ruby and Sean, shifting loyalties, romantic mishaps, and betrayal. But despite their differences, characters must work together to save themselves, even as the stakes turn deadly. This well-rounded, gripping survival story has as many twists and turns as the catacombs themselves. --Lynn Becker, reviewer, blogger, and children's book author

Shelf Talker: Under the Surface is a beautifully executed, subterranean adventure-gone-wrong set in Paris, with plenty of drama and a budding romance.

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