An article in Good E Reader asks Will People Buy Audiobooks and Ebooks from Walmart?

From the article:

“E-Book sales have been flat for past few years and print is still king. [6]87.2 million print books were sold last year, up from 674.1 million in 2016. The increase follows a 3.3% increase in 2016. Units have risen every year since 2013, and 2017 sales were up 10.8% from that year.

The digital audiobook and ebook industry desperately needs new sales channels to fuel growth. Amazon has dominated the US market for over a decade. Will Walmart be the golden goose that publishers have been waiting for?”

Last month, PW reported print sales were up to 687 million (confirming the missing 6 in the Good E Reader article), with increases in both hardcover and trade and retail outlets selling ever more and mass merchants less.

While this is what’s going on in private sales, our OverDrive usage continues to reach new highs. The dashboard for January shows circulation reaching almost 150k, and, even more exciting, an upswing in unique users to 23,662, over 20% higher than this time last year.  There seems to be a bump every January, probably reflecting new users taking advantage of holiday gift devices (?)  If deals like this Kobo Wal-Mart push and similar introduce more people in more areas to ebooks, will demand for ebooks rise from any source and overall format preferences change, or is there an inverse relationship and library use is rising in part because of customer resistance to direct purchases?  In these still early days there definitely seems to be a disconnect.



This title, due April 3rd from Random House, covers the perilous and courageously risky Apollo 8 mission, which was the first to travel to the moon and orbit it to gather information critical to the eventual moon landing the following summer. For readers born after these events, the blow by blow you are there writing style brings the times to life.  The biographical element borders on hero worship, but that also seems true to the period.  The inspiring success of a daring and improbable mission is set against a backdrop of recent NASA tragedy, Cold War politics, and disillusionment with war and unrest at home.  Comment to claim.

Kurson, Robert. Rocket Men: The Daring Odyssey of Apollo 8 and the Astronauts who Made Man’s First Journey to the Moon. Random House, April 3rd.

Rocket MenPublisher summary: The riveting inside story of three heroic astronauts who took on the challenge of mankind’s historic first mission to the Moon, from the New York Times bestselling author of Shadow Divers .

By August 1968, the American space program was in danger of failing in its two most important objectives: to land a man on the Moon by President Kennedy’s end-of-decade deadline, and to triumph over the Soviets in space. With its back against the wall, NASA made an almost unimaginable leap: It would scrap its usual methodical approach and risk everything on a sudden launch. With just four months to prepare–a fraction of the normal time required to plan a space mission–the agency committed to sending the first men in history to the Moon. And it would all happen at Christmas.

In a year of historic violence and discord–the Tet Offensive, the assassinations of Martin Luther King, Jr., and Robert Kennedy, the riots at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago–the Apollo 8 mission would be the boldest, riskiest test of America’s greatness under pressure. In this gripping insider account, Robert Kurson puts the focus on the three astronauts and their families: the commander, Frank Borman, a conflicted man on his final mission; idealistic Jim Lovell, who’d dreamed since boyhood of riding a rocket to the Moon; and Bill Anders, a young nuclear engineer and hotshot fighter pilot making his first space flight.

Drawn from hundreds of hours of one-on-one interviews with the astronauts, their loved ones, NASA personnel, and myriad experts, and filled with vivid and unforgettable detail, Rocket Men is the definitive account of one of America’s finest hours that reads like a real-life thriller. In these pages, Kurson reveals the epic dangers involved, and the singular bravery it took, for mankind to leave Earth for the first time–and arrive at a new world.

Library Journal Book Pulse

February 12, 2018

Neal Wyatt (she/her) is running a regular blog on Library Journal called Book Pulse, in the Reader’s Advisory section of the site, that covers newly published weekly titles, new NYT fiction and non-fiction bestsellers, and awards and media promotion.  It is easy to start a daily feed from the top of any posting.

Also I wanted to mention Tyrant by Stephen Greenblatt, Shakespearean scholar and author of the Swerve, which has circulated over 580 times.  In his new book, Greenblatt analyzes Shakespeare’s political messages coded into plays about other times and places, at a tense time when explicitly addressing them could get the offender maimed or executed.  While most of our print ARC’s are fiction, non-fiction ARC’s such as this one are also becoming increasingly available on Edelweiss, some for immediate download without having to wait for permissions. The site also has a new dashboard and convenient places to see what your colleagues are reading and “highly anticipating.”

Greenblatt, Stephen. Tyrant. Norton, May 5th.

TyrantSummary: As an aging, tenacious Elizabeth I clung to power, a talented playwright probed the social causes, the psychological roots, and the twisted consequences of tyranny. In exploring the psyche (and psychoses) of the likes of Richard III, Macbeth, Lear, Coriolanus, and the societies they rule over, Stephen Greenblatt illuminates the ways in which William Shakespeare delved into the lust for absolute power and the catastrophic consequences of its execution.Cherished institutions seem fragile, political classes are in disarray, economic misery fuels populist anger, people knowingly accept being lied to, partisan rancor dominates, spectacular indecency rules–these aspects of a society in crisis fascinated Shakespeare and shaped some of his most memorable plays. With uncanny insight, he shone a spotlight on the infantile psychology and unquenchable narcissistic appetites of demagogues–and the cynicism and opportunism of the various enablers and hangers-on who surround them–and imagined how they might be stopped. As Greenblatt shows, Shakespeare’s work, in this as in so many other ways, remains vitally relevant today.



I forgot Nancy gave this to me a while ago, before Le Guin passed away, but it might be of special interest now.  It comes out this July and I will put in for an order tonight. Comment to claim. It may take a few days.

Summary from Tin House Books website: 

“In a series of conversations with Between The Covers’s David Naimon, Ursula K. Le Guin discusses her fiction, nonfiction, and poetry―both her process and her philosophy―with all the wisdom, profundity, and rigour we expect from one of our great American writers.

When the New York Times called Ursula K. Le Guin, “America’s greatest living science fiction writer,” they just might have undersold her legacy. It’s hard to look at her vast body of work―novels and stories across multiple genres, poems, translations, essays, speeches, and criticism―and see anything but one of our greatest writers, period.

In a series of interviews with David Naimon (Between the Covers), Le Guin discusses craft, aesthetics, and philosophy in her fiction, poetry, and nonfiction respectively. The discussions provide ample advice and guidance for writers of every level, but also give Le Guin a chance to to sound off on some of her favorite subjects: the genre wars, the patriarchy, the natural world, and what, in her opinion, makes for great writing. With excerpts from her own work and those books that she’s looked to for inspiration and guidance, this volume will be a treat for Le Guin’s longtime readers and a perfect introduction for those first approaching her writing.”

One of the three Sno-Isle Strategic Priorities for 2017-2019 is: Increasing Kindergarten Readiness in Language and Literacy.

When children are not developmentally prepared for kindergarten, they begin their schooling at a disadvantage that follows them throughout their educational careers. This has become such an issue in Washington that Ross Hunter, Director of the Washington State Department of Early Learning (DEL) has set a statewide goal of 90% of Washington’s children to be ready for kindergarten by the year 2020.

I’ve been doing some academic reading on ways to prevent early reading failure and assist early readers in becoming fluent readers. Some of the methods from my reading include:

  • Children need to read books with controlled vocabulary (such as the books found in our Reader collection).
  • They need to be introduced to decoding words (using phonics books, which are also found in our Reader collection).
  • They need to be read to so that they hear and become familiar with more complex words than they can easily decode.
  • They need to read the books that they can read over and over to gain a fluency which helps them to understand what they are reading, not just sounding out the words.

(Check out the Sno-Isle Database: Academic Search Premier using the search term: Phonics and all sorts of interesting articles come up.)

I have been working hard in the selection of materials for our Reader collection, offering both tried-and-true old-favorite titles with many newer titles featuring characters from television shows and movies to entice our early reading customers and their caregivers.  When books are selected, more copies are being purchased, so you should see more books available on your shelves for browsing.

I have also been updating our phonics materials for the library system and you should be seeing many of our new phonics series coming into your community libraries.  We are phasing out the old single paperback titles that you have been keeping in your Reader collections for a very long time.  Most of these paperbacks are looking pretty ratty and have served their purpose for our young people. We are having the new phonics series bound together for ease of use, and for easier shelving and locating for our customers and staff alike.

The books purchased in the latest phonics order include: 6 different Bob Books sets by Bobby Lynn Maslen, as well as books featuring Batman, Fancy Nancy, My Little Pony, Pete the Cat, Sesame Street characters and Superman.

Phonics books

I plan to purchase more bound phonics sets later in the year, so be aware that more will be coming to support this important part of our library mission.

You might also like to look through the Reading Rockets website.  Reading Rockets is an education initiative of WETA which is the public broadcasting system in Washington DC.  They create and disseminate free, evidence-based information about reading through three major services: PBS television programs, online services, and professional development opportunities.

Upcoming non-fiction.

Allison Pataki has established herself as a fiction writer and happens to be the daughter of New York’s former governor George Pataki.  This is her new memoir about dealing with her young husband’s rare and unexpected ischemic stroke and recovery, all while delivering her first child and continuing her career.  Nancy asks if it’s another When Breath Becomes Air and it may have that potential.

Zadie Smith’s essay collection is heavy on UK politics in the beginning but then moves more toward philosophizing about technology and toward art, social, and literary criticism. I find her a humane, insightful and clever writer (one of my favorite lines: “Nigels [like Farage] come and go but Ruperts [i.e. Murdoch] are forever”).

Comment to claim.

Pataki, Allison.  Beauty in the Broken Places. Random House, May.

Beauty in the Broken Places

Publisher summary: 

A deeply moving memoir about two lives that were changed in the blink of an eye, and the love that helped them rewrite their future

Five months pregnant, on a flight to their “babymoon,” Allison Pataki turned to her husband when he asked if his eye looked strange, and watched him suddenly lose consciousness. After an emergency landing, she discovered that Dave–a healthy thirty-year-old athlete and surgical resident–had suffered a rare and life-threatening stroke. Next thing Allison knew, she was sitting alone in the ER in Fargo, North Dakota, waiting to hear if her husband would survive the night.

When Dave woke up, he could not carry memories from hour to hour, much less from one day to the next. Allison lost the Dave she knew and loved when he lost consciousness on the plane. Within a few months, she found herself caring for both a newborn and a sick husband, struggling with the fear of what was to come.

As a way to make sense of the pain and chaos of their new reality, Allison started to write daily letters to Dave. Not only would she work to make sense of the unfathomable experiences unfolding around her, but her letters would provide Dave with the memories he could not make on his own. She was writing to preserve their past, protect their present, and fight for their future. Those letters became the foundation for this beautiful, intimate memoir. And in the process, she fell in love with her husband all over again.

This is a manifesto for living, an ultimately uplifting story about the transformative power of faith and resilience. It’s a tale of a husband’s turbulent road to recovery, the shifting nature of marriage, and the struggle of loving through pain and finding joy in the broken places.

Smith, Zadie.  Feel Free: Essays.  Penguin, February.

Feel FreePublisher summary:

From Zadie Smith, one of the most beloved authors of her generation, a new collection of essays

Since she burst spectacularly into view with her debut novel almost two decades ago, Zadie Smith has established herself not just as one of the world’s preeminent fiction writers, but also a brilliant and singular essayist. She contributes regularly to The New Yorker and the New York Review of Books on a range of subjects, and each piece of hers is a literary event in its own right.

Arranged into five sections–In the World, In the Audience, In the Gallery, On the Bookshelf, and Feel Free–this new collection poses questions we immediately recognize. What is The Social Network–and Facebook itself–really about? “It’s a cruel portrait of us: 500 million sentient people entrapped in the recent careless thoughts of a Harvard sophomore.” Why do we love libraries? “Well-run libraries are filled with people because what a good library offers cannot be easily found elsewhere: an indoor public space in which you do not have to buy anything in order to stay.” What will we tell our granddaughters about our collective failure to address global warming? “So I might say to her, look: the thing you have to appreciate is that we’d just been through a century of relativism and deconstruction, in which we were informed that most of our fondest-held principles were either uncertain or simple wishful thinking, and in many areas of our lives we had already been asked to accept that nothing is essential and everything changes–and this had taken the fight out of us somewhat.”

Gathering in one place for the first time previously unpublished work, as well as already classic essays, such as, “Joy,” and, “Find Your Beach,” Feel Free offers a survey of important recent events in culture and politics, as well as Smith’s own life. Equally at home in the world of good books and bad politics, Brooklyn-born rappers and the work of Swiss novelists, she is by turns wry, heartfelt, indignant, and incisive–and never any less than perfect company. This is literary journalism at its zenith.


From Nancy’s magic sleeves, some goodies coming in March.  This is the fiction title, with three more non-fiction titles next week (frankly I’d like to review them myself).  This is already attracting holds.  Comment to claim. Thanks!

Hollinghurst, Alan.  The Sparsholt Affair. Knopf.

The Sparsholt Affair“A multi-generational story of fathers and sons during the second half of the twentieth century in England”– Provided by publisher.
“From the internationally acclaimed winner of the Man Booker Prize, a masterly new novel that spans seven transformative decades in England–from the 1940s to the present–as it plumbs the richly complex relationships of a remarkable family. In 1940, David Sparsholt arrives at Oxford to study engineering, though his sights are set on joining the Royal Air Force. Handsome, athletic, charismatic, he is unaware of his effect on others–especially on Evert Dax, the lonely son of a celebrated novelist who isdestined to become a writer himself. With the world at war, and the Blitz raging in London, Oxford nevertheless exists at a strange remove: a place of fleeting beauty–and secret liaisons. A friendship develops between these two young men that will have unexpected consequences as the novel unfolds. Alan Hollinghurst’s new novel explores the legacy of David Sparsholt across three generations, on friends and family alike; we experience through its characters changes in taste, morality, and private life ina sequence of vividly rendered episodes: a Sparsholt holiday in Cornwall; eccentric social gatherings at the Dax family home; the adventures of David’s son Johnny, a painter in 1970s London; the push and pull in a group of friends brought together by art,literature, and love. And evoking the increasing openness of gay life, The Sparsholt Affair becomes a meditation on human transience, even as it poignantly expresses the longing for permanence and continuity.”– Provided by publisher.