Indies Introduce Lunch Leaves Booksellers Buzzing

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The last lunch of this year’s Winter Institute left booksellers buzzing about the 20 debut titles — 10 children’s titles and 10 adult titles — featured in the American Booksellers Association’s Indies Introduce Debut Authors and New Voices Spring 2014 promotion.

Sixteen of the 18 booksellers on the Indies Introduce committees who chose the spring picks took the stage to discuss their favorites, and seven of the featured authors were in attendance.

Watermark Books owner Sarah Bagby, chair of the Adult Committee, thanked the panelists, and said that while it was a lot of work, “there’s nothing more fun than having a conference call with other booksellers to talk about books.”

Valerie Koehler, owner of Houston’s Blue Willow Bookshop and chair of the Children’s Committee, reminded Winter Institute participants that the panelists had provided their fellow booksellers with the tools to go back to their stores and sell books.

One of the titles introduced by Koehler was Marcia Wells’ children’s title, Eddie Red, Undercover: Mystery on Museum Mile (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books for Young Readers), which she called “a lot of fun, and very clean,” adding that it is a standout among books in its genre, since the main character’s parents are still alive — a quality that is not often found in children’s books — and yet, he is able to have exciting adventures.

Josh Cook of Cambridge’s Porter Square Books told booksellers that If Only You People Could Follow Directions by Jessica Hendry Nelson (PGW) is different from the many other memoirs about addiction and abuse. “What Nelson has done is turn a critical eye, an essayist eye, a Didion eye, a Hunter S. Thompson eye, on the events and formations of her life in a way reveals things beyond the basics and simple themes of addiction, recovery, recovery from your family, from your decisions,” Cook said. “And she does it in a way that you’re able to connect both to the things that you couldn’t possibly understand if you’ve never gone through that, and the things all humans are united by — in struggle, in triumph, in failure, and in decision-making.”

Kelly Estep from Carmichael’s Bookstore in Louisville, Kentucky, introduced James Scott’s The Kept (HarperCollins) and said that the debut title “reaches far into the idea of mothers, fathers, children, and identity.”

Scott, who was in the lunchtime audience, told booksellers: “I think everyone in this room knows that the best way to sell a book is, and will always be, to have someone put it in your hands and say ‘you have to read this.’ And it’s been such an honor and thrill to speak to some of you who have been doing that for my book already.”

Nancy Simpson Brice of Book Vault in Oskaloosa, Iowa, discussed Pigs Can’t Swim (Perseus), a memoir by Helen Peppe about growing up in rural Maine as the youngest of nine children. Of the author, Brice said “she has the purest, clearest voice I have read in a long time.”

About Shotgun Lovesongs by Nickolas Butler (Macmillan),Terry Gilman, co-owner of Mysterious Galaxy in Redondo Beach, California, said, “This is a book about love, friendship, and what it means to have a home to come back to.”

Butler told the audience about his experiences of visiting many different independent bookstores around the country and having the pleasure of seeing booksellers recommend the books they have enjoyed. “It was eye-opening to me, and it makes me especially grateful for your support of this book,” he said, adding that he knew booksellers put their “hearts in these endorsements.”

The UnAmericans (W.W. Norton), a collection of short stories by Molly Antopol, was introduced by Watermark’s Bagby, who said, “These stories redefine the trope of immigrants relocating to America for political reasons.

“The humanity and vulnerability of these characters … show how the universal dynamics of family legacy and romantic love are equally nurturing, distancing, tender, and messy.”

Antopol told booksellers at the lunch that being chosen for the Indies Introduce promotion “completely made my month. It means so much to me that the Indies Introduce panel and the ABA believed in these stories.”

Below is the full list of titles along with their publishing information and age levels. The terms of the promotion, as well as the bookseller-provided blurbs, are available on BookWeb. For booksellers who have signed up to participate in this spring’s Indies Introduce, promotional materials are available in the Designs and Downloads section of BookWeb. Interviews with many of the authors are available here, and more are being added each week. Booksellers are invited to use the interviews on their websites and in store newsletters and social media.

Booksellers who missed the deadline for the spring Indies Introduce promotion can still take advantage of the recommendations of their fellow booksellers to promote the books in-store and online.

All ABA members should watch for an announcement of the details and sign-up for the Summer/Fall 2014 Indies Introduce promotion to appear in BTW this April. There will also be an event featuring the Summer/Fall books at BookExpo America.

The Indies Introduce Debut Authors and New Voices Spring 2014 titles:

Badluck Way: A Year on the Ragged Edge of the West 
Andrews, Bryce   
Simon & Schuster/Atria  
Adult Fiction

A Death-Struck Year
Lucier, Makiia  
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books for Young Readers    
Eddie Red, Undercover: Mystery On Museum Mile     
Wells, Marcia    
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books for Young Readers
Middle Grade

Faces in the Crowd
Luiselli, Valeria     
Consortium/Coffee House Press
Adult Fiction

Far From You     
Sharpe, Tess     

Half Bad     
Green, Sally    

If Only You People Could Follow Directions
Nelson, Jessica Hendry    
Adult Nonfiction

The Kept
Scott, James 
Adult Fiction

Knightley & Son
Gavin, Rohan    
Middle Grade

Pigs Can’t Swim  
Peppe, Helen     
Perseus Book Group/Da Capo Press, A Merloyd Lawrence Book 
Adult Nonfiction

Point of Direction
Weaver, Rachel  
Consortium/IG Publishing    
Adult Fiction

Duncan, Alexandra
HarperCollins/Greenwillow Books

Smith, Lindsay
Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group/Roaring Brook Press

Shotgun Lovesongs
Butler, Nickolas       
Macmillan/St. Martin’s Press/Thomas Dunne Books
Adult Fiction

Steering Toward Normal 
Petruck, Rebecca   
Middle Grade

The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender
Walton, Leslye
Candlewick Press

Stringer: A Reporter’s Journey in the Congo
Sundaram, Anjan
Random House/Doubleday
Adult Nonfiction

The Vigilante Poets of Selwyn Academy
Hattemer, Kate
Random House Childrens Books/Knopf Books for Young Readers

The UnAmericans
Antopol, Molly
W.W. Norton
Adult Fiction
The Wives of Los Alamos: A Novel    
Nesbit, Tarashea    
Adult Fiction

Booksellers serving on the Spring 2014 Indies Introduce Debut Authors and New Voices Committees are:

Adult Committee

Children’s Committee