Despite a number of distractions—heavy downpours that made getting to evening events difficult, the size of the exhibit floor, pending tariffs on books imported from China, and Baker & Taylor’s exit from the retailing wholesale market—the 2019 edition of BookExpo settled down to talk about books due out this fall and winter. And, according to booksellers interviewed by PW, there is quite a lot to be excited about in the upcoming season.
Indie booksellers were raving about what Paul Yamazaki, adult book buyer at City Lights Books in San Francisco, described as a “rich season” of releases, with plenty of offerings in both fiction and nonfiction to please even the most discerning reader. Literary fiction with plots that could have been ripped from the headlines is especially hot this year, and one novel in particular is resonating with most of the booksellers PW queried: American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins (Flatiron), the tale of a Mexican bookseller and her young son’s attempt to flee to the U.S. to escape a vengeful drug lord. Store owner Jonah Zimiles of Words Bookstore in Maplewood, N.J., called American Dirt “a stunningly powerful novel.”
Other novels with topical themes that booksellers are anticipating include Margaret Atwood’s The Testaments (Doubleday/Talese), the sequel to her 1985 classic, The Handmaid’s Tale. Luisa Smith, buying director at Book Passage in the Bay Area, said that “this is the book booksellers are most excited about.” Smith was also buzzing about Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson (Riverhead), which she called “Woodson at her most brilliant.”