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Women’s Prize for Fiction Announces Final Six

The Bailey's Women's Prize for Fiction

They started with a longlist of 20 novels written by today’s brightest female authors, and now the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction judges have whittled down the list to only six. To our surprise, the critically acclaimed apocalyptic novel Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel did not make the cut, while the widely adored Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey was also knocked out of the running. Even still, it’s an impressive shortlist to say the least. Chair of judges, Shami Chakrabarti, says of the shortlist, “You’ve heard of fantasy football? Well, short-listing for the 2015 Baileys Prize was the fantasy book club of a lifetime.” Take a look at the shortlist here, and happy reading.

Outline by Rachel Cusk

The Bees by Laline Paull (find signed copies)

A God in Every Stone by Kamila Shamsie (find signed copies)

How to be Both by Ali Smith (find signed copies)

A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler (find signed copies)

The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters (find signed copies)

To Fall in Love with a Reader, Do This:

By now, you’ve likely seen the list of questions published in the New York Times in January 2015. The 36 questions, designed to accelerate intimacy between two strangers in an effort to bring on quick love, has made its rounds to most corners of the internet.

The Millions blog put out their own spin on it today – another 36-question list, all about books, with the more reasonable goal of igniting a great conversation about books.

Still, they make the point (and I agree) that after talking about books with someone for two hours, odds are good you’ll fall in love with them anyway. I’ve included the questions, below. Take them to your next party, and see what happens.

Part 1.
1. What was your favorite book as a child?

2. What’s the last really good book you read?

3. Do you prefer fiction or nonfiction? Why?

4. Do you finish every book that you start? If you don’t, how do you decide when to stop reading?

5. List your 10 favorite books in four minutes or less. Write it down because you’ll revisit it at the end.

6. Do you reread books? Which ones?

7. Do you read poetry? Why or why not?

8. Do you remember the first “grown-up” book you read?

9. Are there any authors whose work you have read completely?

10. How often do you read books that are more than 100 years old?

11. Is there a type (or types) of book you never read?

12. How do you choose what to read?

Part 2.
13. What’s more important to you: the way a book is written, or what the book is about?

14. What author, living or dead, would you most like to have dinner with?

15. If you could hang out with a literary character for the day, who would it be?

16. If you could be a literary character, who would it be?

17. Have you ever written a fan letter to an author?

18. Is there any book that, if I professed to love it, you would be turned off? Is there any book that would impress you in particular?

19. Is there a book you feel embarrassed about liking?

20. Are there books you feel proud of liking or having finished?

21. Have you ever lied about having read a book?

22. Do you keep track of the books you read?

23. How do you form opinions about what you read?

24. What authors do you think are overrated? Underrated?

Part 3.
25. Do you ever read self-help books?

26. What’s a book that shocked you?

27. If you could force every person you know to read one book, what would it be?

28. What book would you recommend to me in particular?

29. What books/authors have you been meaning to read for years? Why haven’t you read them yet?

30. What kind of book do you consider “a guilty pleasure?”

31. Has a book ever changed your mind about something?

32. If you were terminally ill, what book or books would you read?

33. Do you have any passages of poetry or prose committed to memory? Can you recite something to me?

34. If you could change anything about the way you read, what would it be?

35. Was there any time in your life when you felt as if a book guided you in a profound way?

36. Return to the list you made at the beginning. What titles, if any, would you change after our conversation?

ILAB’s Pop-up Rare Book Fairs set for World Book & Copyright Day on April 23

April 23 is UNESCO’s World Book and Copyright Day when literature and literacy is celebrated around the globe. This year, this special day will have a strong rare book flavor thanks to more than a dozen pop-up book fairs organized by the International League of Antiquarian Booksellers (ILAB).

Locations are still being added to the list but so far you will be able to visit pop-up book fairs in London, New York, Washington DC, Chicago, Seattle, Portland (Oregon), Sydney, Munich, Vienna, Budapest, Moscow, Tokyo, Milan, Zurich, Antwerp, Copenhagen, Amsterdam, and The Hague.

Support ILAB’s pop-up book fairs

There are also book fairs set to appear in smaller towns and cities such as Lund in Sweden, the Western Australian communities of Hamilton and Dunkeld, Haarlem and Groningen in the Netherlands, Lucca in Tuscany, and Konigstein in Germany.

What is most appealing about this initiative is that rare books are being brought to the people and displayed in places that are often quite different to traditional antiquarian bookshops.

For instance, the Dunkeld event is being held in an historic woolshed – a most appropriate venue considering sheep outnumber humans in this part of the world. In Groningen, an entire street – Folkingestraat – is being turned into a book fair for the day. This famous street includes about 50 shops and a beautiful synagogue.

The booksellers at each venue will be collecting financial donations on behalf to UNESCO’s South Sudan Literacy Project. A donation of $3 sends one book to a child in South Sudan, $15 US purchase a set of 12 school books for a classroom, and $500 provides 45 school book collections for a rural community.

On April 23, AbeBooks will join ILAB is promoting pictures, video and news from these events on our blogs and social media.

The list of venues goes on and on….

In Sydney, Australia, you will be able to see a Shakespeare First Folio at the pop-up fair at the State Library of New South Wales.

In Portland, Oregon, ILAB dealers Elisabeth Burdon, Nat Des Marais, Philip Pirages, and Charles Seluzicki will be offering books in a pub called Lucky Lab on Hawthorne Boulevard. Books and beer sounds like the ideal combination.

While in Munich, you can read and gamble at Kaufmanns Casino, which will host around15 antiquarian booksellers from Bavaria. In Konigstein, the auction house Reiss & Sohn is hosting a fair.

In Tokyo, a pop-up fair occurs at the World Antiquarian Book Plaza where 22 antiquarian booksellers from 11 countries share a common space.

In Russia, there will be free book appraisals from sellers at the Moscow State University of the Printing Arts.

In Zurich, there will be a pop-up fair at August Laube Rare Books on the bank of the River Limmat. In Italy, Lucca’s fair can be found in Corte del Biancone and in Milan at Biblioteca Chiesa Rossa. In Vienna, ILAB President Norbert Donhofer will host a fair on the roof terrace of his new shop on Taborstrasse 64/Top 18.

In Budapest, Hungarian booksellers will hold a pop-up fair at the Institute Cervantes. In Holland, you can see antiquarian booksellers and their books in Haarlem central station – catch your train, pick up a book.

In Antwerp’s harbor, you can browse books at Bibliotheek Permeke from Belgian booksellers. In London’s Middle Temple Library, there will be a pop-up fair close to Fleet Street, The Strand and Embankment.

Chicago’s fair can be found in the Cliff Dwellers Club which overlooks Lake Michigan. Lund’s book fair in Sweden is dedicated entirely to pop-up books.

Visit the ILAB site for details as more venues are still being added.

This page details the four methods in which you can make a donation to UNESCO’s literary project in South Sudan.

Amazon’s Top 10 Picks for April

Every month the Amazon Book Editors select the biggest and brightest books of the month, and we have to hand it to them – they know how to pick ’em.  Without fail, they anticipate the award-winners, the bestsellers, and the knock-out reads. In fact, I currently I have my nose in an Amazon pick from last September, The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters.  The novel is on the 2015 Bailey’s Women’s Prize for Fiction Longlist alongside several other past Amazon picks.

Here are Amazon’s top 10 picks for April, including the highly anticipated new novel from Toni Morrison and the brand new US edition of I Refuse by Per Petterson.  We’ve also included Amazon’s debut of the month. Needless to say, my ‘to-read’ list just got a whole lot longer.

1. Between You & Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen by Mary Norris

Amazon's Top Picks for April: Between You & Me by Mary Norris

2. The Harder They Come: A Novel by T.C. Boyle

Amazon's Top Picks for April:  The Harder They Come: A Novel by T.C. Boyle

3. Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in College Town by Jon Krakauer

Amazon's Top Picks for April: Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in College Town by Jon Krakauer

4. God Help the Child: A Novel by Toni Morrison

Amazon's Top Picks for April:God Help the Child: A Novel by Toni Morrison

5. The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen

Amazon's Top Picks for April: The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen

6. The Light of the World: A Memoir by Elizabeth Alexander

Amazon's Top Picks for April: The Light of the World: A Memoir by Elizabeth Alexander

7. So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson

Amazon's Top Picks for April: So You've Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson

8. I Refuse: A Novel by Per Petterson

Amazon's Top Picks for April: I Refuse: A Novel by Per Petterson

9. Dreamland: The True Tale of America’s Opiate Epidemic by Sam Quinones

Amazon's Top Picks for April: Dreamland: The True Tale of America's Opiate Epidemic by Sam Quinones

10. The Children’s Crusade: A Novel by Ann Packer

Amazon's Top Picks for April:  The Children's Crusade: A Novel by Ann Packer

Amazon’s Debut Novel of the Month: Orhan’s Inheritance by Aline Ohanesian

Amazon's Debut Novel of the Month:  Orhan's Inheritance by Aline Ohanesian


3rd Milan International Antiquarian Book Fair

For the third time, antiquarian book enthusiasts from booksellers to avid experts to curious would-be collectors all came together under one roof at the Palazzo Mezzanotte in Milan, for the Milan International Antiquarian Book Fair. The fair took place Friday – Sunday, March 27th-29th 2015. The event was put on by the Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association of Italy (ABAI) and supported by the International League of Antiquarian Booksellers (ILAB). An extremely varied, high-class and well-attended event, the fair showcased all manner of antique paper treasure, from incunabula, maps, illuminated manuscripts, priceless unique documents and much more. Members of our AbeBooks European team attended and thoroughly enjoyed. Here are some images from the event.














Cover of Harper Lee’s “Go Set a Watchman” Revealed

Lucky People Magazine had a very good day today – they get an exclusive first look at Harper Lee’s feverishly coveted and anticipated second novel, Go Set A Watchman. Despite recent flurries of controversy amid rumors of elder abuse, it appears the book is still set to be released for publication on July 14th, 2015.

Here is the newly-revealed cover of Go Set a Watchman, as seen side by side with its predecessor, To Kill a Mockingbird.


Ashura Cho^ – Demon SketchBook

Today’s amazing book find:

"Demon Sketchbook"

From the bookseller:

Entitled (roughly) “Demon Sketchbook”.

The Asuras of the title are the warrior gods of Indian religion, condemned to constant strife. The book is a deeply bitter and ironic look at the politics and social scene of the World War I era, not only in Japan itself, but around the world. As such it is an amazing slice of life during and after the world war from the unique perspective of a Japanese humanist given to Swiftian excess. The author (and illustrator), Ito Chuta, was an architect and gifted caricaturist. The printer/publisher was a bit of an ironist himself, as the closing note mentions that his “National Purity Publications” [“Kokusui Shuppansha”] did not quite embody the usual “National Purity” which was being bruited about. Obviously this work is a product of Taisho liberalism. Ten or so years earlier or later, it would have never reached the light of day in a less tolerant political atmosphere. There are 500 pages of plates, each is one-half color woodcut caricature and one-half wry commentary in a combination of letterpress and woodcut calligraphy. Well-printed and interesting, the full set of 500 plates in five volumes – with the original clasped cases – is quite a find, as one only occasionally finds even odd volumes.





Armchair Fiction: Making Vintage Pulp a Priority

We’d like to take a moment to introduce AbeBooks bookseller Armchair Fiction. It’s no secret we at AbeBooks love retro pulp fiction, whether it comes in the form of monsters, dames, or any other. So it stands to reason that we just love Armchair Fiction and their work. The Medford, Oregon-based bookseller exists to keep pulp alive and put it back into the hands of the fans by reprinting classic, nostalgic science-fiction and horror (and most recently, mystery) titles. Not only that, but they also recreate the original cover art, thus preserving the original look and feel of the book, making it much more affordable than an original collector’s copy, and having a lot of fun while doing it.


Armchair’s parent company, Sinister Cinema, has been in business since 1984 and specializes in DVDs of nostalgic films, again leaning towards genres such as sci-fi, mystery, horror and B-westerns. Fans’ enthusiasm for their products meant the next logical step was to branch out into paperback books. So in 2010, that’s what they did, and we’re so glad. So far, Armchair Fiction has put out over 250 books.

Read on for an interview with Greg Luce of Armchair Fiction.

AbeBooks: Why Armchair Fiction – how did you come up with the name?

Greg Luce: It’s funny, both the names Sinister Cinema and Armchair Fiction originate from the Portland, Oregon area, though I never lived in Portland. Sinister was named after an old TV show that aired back in the ’70s, while Armchair Fiction was named after my favorite bookstore in the Portland area: Armchair Books–a place that was loaded with old paperbacks and comic books! It was a book and comic collector’s dream come true.

Abe: How did you come up with your business model?

GL: Since Sinister Cinema was already in place, we simply added the Armchair line to our existing business. When I looked around the book scene in 2009 and 2010 I was surprised by how much nostalgic sci-fi was no longer available in the literary marketplace. I decided to target this genre, partly because it seemed the logical thing for a specialty house like us to do, and partly out of a love for this kind of fiction. I truly love making these old works available again.

Abe: What is unique and special about your business?

GL: Boy…I could write pages. Let’s just say that Armchair Fiction is a nostalgic sci-fi fan’s delight. A place to find many forgotten works without having to pay through the nose for an old battered original pulp magazine or paperback. Probably 50-60% of the stories we reprint haven’t been published in many years, often since first publication, so it’s almost like having new stuff for fans to read. The science fiction paperbacks and magazines of the ’30s, ’40s, and ’50 served as our inspiration.


Abe: Can you tell us about your passion for books?

GL: I’d always been a horror and sci-fi movie nut when I was a kid. Then one day my pal and neighbor came over with a couple of tattered Ace Science Fiction Doubles he’d picked up in an old second hand store downtown. I fell in love with them instantly and wanted more! The place he bought them from was called C and I Furniture in Pendleton, Oregon. It wasn’t really a furniture store, so much as just mountains of used secondhand junk. It was an amazing place and right when you walked in the main entrance there was a massive set of shelves filled with hundreds, perhaps thousands, of musty old paperback books. They sold for a nickel apiece–sometimes a dime. The place just reeked with that old paperback smell. I loved it. That’s where it all started for me. The Mars Monopoly by Jerry Sohl was the first Ace Double novel I ever read. It just blew the Hardy Boys out of the water. Sorry, Frank. Sorry, Joe. I’ve been reading sci-fi ever since.

Abe: What are some of your favorite books in your collection?

GL: There are a lot. One of my favorites is Milton Lesser’s Forty Days Have September. It’s a GREAT aliens-secretly-on-Earth tale. J. F. Bone’s Special Effect is one of the most unique science fiction short novels I’ve ever encountered. And I mustn’t forget our Horror and Sci-Fi “Gems” short story collections, which I absolutely love putting together. The Fiddler’s Fee by Robert Bloch is one of the best classic horror tales I’ve ever read. It’s in Horror Gems, Vol. Seven. We just started coming out with Mystery Doubles, as well. The Deadly Pick-Up by Milton Ozaki is paired with James Causey’s “Killer Take All!,” the latter of which is perhaps the most engrossing mystery tale I’ve read.

Abe: What is the weirdest book you’ve ever come across?

GL: If you like bizarre, really out of this world stuff there are always our Shaver Mystery collections by Richard S. Shaver. This stuff is really wild. Shaver’s stories, while written in fiction-form, are supposedly “true.” (choke, cough, gag!) Shaver claims that he discovered a vast network of underground caves filled with all kinds of unearthly creatures (he calls them “Deros” in his stories) who are basically waiting to take over the surface world again. They’re constantly bombarding us with dangerous “rays.” It turns out that the years Shaver claimed he was in the “caves” were actually years he spent in a mental institution. His editor and pal, Raymond A. Palmer, published just about everything Shaver sent to him at Amazing Stories and Fantastic Adventures back in the 1940s. While the stories initially boosted circulation, they caused such a stir that Palmer eventually had to leave Ziff-Davis Publications. We just released The Shaver Mystery, Book Six earlier this month. Shaver is truly the Edward D. Wood of the nostalgic science fiction scene.


Abe: Are your sales online only, or do you have a brick & mortar space as well?

We’re pretty much online only. Armchair and Sinister are both run out of a small facility, with two storeys filled with tons of books, videos, and 16mm film prints. Help! There are four of us running the whole show. My wife thinks I’m a little nutty, but she’s pleased with the results.

Abe: What are some of your own favorite books and writers?

Maggie, Armchair Fiction's yellow Lab

Maggie, Armchair Fiction’s yellow Lab in Residence

GL: There’s no question that one of my favorite authors is Robert Silverberg. When growing up I thought his The Planet Killers was one of the best things I’d ever read. It wasn’t anything too deep–just extremely well-written sci-fi intrigue. Andre Norton was another of my favorites. I loved her The Stars are Ours and The Last Planet. When it comes to horror there are many great authors, Robert Bloch, August Derleth, Algernon Blackwood (ever read The Willows? Wow!), Carl Jacobi etc. But let’s face it, the best horror short stories ever written are found in the works of Poe, H. P. Lovecraft, and in Stephen King’s first two short story collections, Night Shift and Skeleton Crew. Amazing stuff. I also love ragtime piano, the British Invasion (Dave Clark Five!), and the New York Yankees, too. Weird, Huh?

Riley, fuzzy mascot #2.

Riley, fuzzy mascot #2.

Abe: What else?
GL: Well….we don’t have a bookstore cat; but we do have a couple of very lovable bookstore dogs–a wonderful Yellow Lab named Maggie (above), and a cute little completely, totally, and utterly spoiled Havanese named Riley (right). I’m about to put together our annual Armchair/Sinister Catalog, which is due out in another month, and they love to lay at my feet while I’m working on it. There are no curses on any of our books that I know of, nor any of our movies for that matter; but sometimes when I think of how all-consuming this business is I think of the old line from Universal’s Frankenstein: “You have created a monster and it will destroy you!”

I can truly say that Armchair Fiction and Sinister Cinema are hobbies run amok. It’s a helluva lot of work, but it’s very rewarding. I’ve been very blessed.

Terry Pratchett 1948 – 2015

terry-pratchettThe man who gave us Discworld is gone.

Sir Terry Pratchett died today, at home, surrounded by family, of complications from end-stage early-onset Alzheimer’s Disease.

Throughout Pratchett’s lengthy career, he published over 70 books. He was by far best known for his Discworld books, a series of 40 bizarre and very funny fantasy novels set on the fictional “Discworld”, which is of course a flat disc placed on the backs of four elephants, who are standing atop the shell of a giant turtle. They’re like reading Tolkien, or at times even Aesop, if Tolkien and Aesop had wonderfully witty, nerdy, unapologetically groan-worthy senses of humour. The Discworld series garnered a fiercely dedicated group of fans, and has been translated into 37 languages to date.

One of Pratchett’s most successful non-Discworld books was his collaboration with Neil Gaiman called Good Omens, released in 1990. Pratchett’s cheerful zaniness and Gaiman’s dark, wry wit balanced perfectly to result in an extremely funny novel about witches, angels, the Beast, and children.

After Pratchett’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis in 2007, the author was shocked to learn how little money goes to Alzheimer’s research. He not only made a sizable donation himself, but also became a willingly vocal public champion of research into the disease. His efforts included a two-part documentary television special on the BBC about this experiences with Alzheimer’s, called Terry Pratchett: Living with Alzheimer’s. He made several other radio and television appearances to discuss the illness, as well.

As his condition deteriorated, Pratchett also stepped into the public eye to bring awareness to the right-to-die movement, whose mandate would grant the right, for terminally ill patients, to choose voluntary euthanasia to end their life.

In July 2014, Pratchett’s health forced him to miss a Discworld convention for the first time ever. He died today, March 12th, 2015. He was 66.

Ayelet Tsabari Wins 2015 Sami Rohr Prize

Canadian author Ayalet Tsabari

There’s been very exciting news for Ayelet Tsabari: it was recently announced that the Toronto-based author has won the 2015 Sami Rohr Prize. The prize began in 2006 and was conceived by the grandchildren of Jewish philanthropist Sami Rohr on his 80th birthday, to honor his appreciation for Jewish literature.

Administered by the Jewish Book Council, the Sami Rohr prize exists to help seek, promote and support excellent literature by Jewish authors. The annual award carries with it a prize of $100,000, making it one of the most monetarily significant prizes in the industry.

Tsabari, who published her first book, The Best Place on Earth (as of this writing, no copies of the book are available on the AbeBooks web site, likely as a result of the recent announcement – check back!) in March of 2013, is a Canadian author of Yemeni descent, born and raised in Israel. Her book of short stories skillfully explores themes of displacement, belonging, and culture clash, and makes us question the very notion of home. Many of her characters read as hermit crabs, carrying their homes along with them, too tentative to commit their roots to just one place, when our hearts long for so many different landscapes, and when so many environments can contribute to who we become.

I’m excited that Tsabari’s work has been recognized and celebrated in this way. And I’m mostly excited that it’s been funded, so perhaps we’ll get more of her words soon. |

Read and learn more about Tsabari at ayelettsabari.com.