One of the main attractions of Winter Institute is the chance for booksellers to get their hands on forthcoming books. Winter Institute 14 in Albuquerque, N.M., featured numerous opportunities for attendees to mingle with authors and have them sign copies of the their books, including several receptions, a formal “Indies Introduce” event, a showcase for New Mexican writers, and the wildly popular galley room, where hundreds of forthcoming books were piled up for the taking. Ingram offered discounted shipping for those who whose desire for galleys was bigger than their baggage allowance might allow.
PW surveyed booksellers, publishers and other attendees to find out which books they put in their carry-on to read on the plane ride home.
The two most-anticipated books didn’t yet have galleys: the still-to-be-written title from former President Barack Obama, which is expected from Penguin Random House's Crown division sometime in the next year or two; the second title was Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale sequel, The Testaments, which will be published in September by Nan A. Talese/Doubleday.
“I’m so looking forward to that one,” said Valerie Burkholder, co-owner of Epilogue Books in Rockford, Mich., referring to the Atwood. “It’s very timely, to say the least.”
Her husband Pat Burkholder, co-owner of Epilogue Books and a former middle-school teacher, gave a shout out to A Wolf Called Wander by Rosanne Parry, illustrated by Mónica Armiño (Greenwillow, May) and The Field Guide to Dumb Birds of North America by Matt Kracht (Chronicle, April). “It is so silly, that you can’t helped but be charmed by it,” said Burkholder of Dumb Birds. “And right now, everyone can use a bit more humor in their lives.”
On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong (Penguin Press, June) was a favorite of many booksellers and publishers, including Kris Kleindienst, co-owner of Left Bank Books, in St. Louis, Mo., and Paul Yamazaki, book buyer at City Lights in San Francisco. Yamazaki compared Vuong's writing to that of Lawrence Ferlinghetti.
"Of the books I’ve found so far, I’m most excited about Mostly Dead Things by Kristen Arnett from Tin House (June), one of my favorite presses these days,” said Danny Caine, owner of the Raven Bookstore in Lawrence, Kan.
Booksellers were talking up children’s books as well as adult, especially YA debut novels including Justin A. Reynolds’ Opposite of Always (HarperCollins/Tegen, Mar.) and Kip Wilson’s The White Rose (Versify, Apr.). But it was Maya Motayne’s fantasy novel Nocturna (HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray, May) that created the most buzz among the most booksellers. “It was interesting to hear how the author, who is Latina, wanted to create a fantasy world that paid tribute to her heritage,” said Katie Orphan, manager and buyer at The Last Bookstore in Los Angeles. “I did not expect to cry at the Indies Introduce panel. But there I was, crying. I think readers are excited to find books in which they can see themselves reflected back.” Anmyram Budner, a bookseller at Main Point Books in Wayne, Pa., told PW that Nocturna was hands down her favorite discovery of the show, because Motayne’s reading from it during the Indies Introduce session “demands that you read it to find out what happens.”
Ask Again, Yes (Scribner, June) by Mary Beth Keane was cited several times. ”[This is a] gorgeous family drama for fans of the books of J. Courtney Sullivan,” said Pamela Klinger-Horn, events coordinator at Excelsior Bay Books in Excelsior, Minn. Luisa Smith of the Book Passage in Corte Madera, Calif. also raved about the novel. "It seemed like much of the last seven days was spent in conversation about this incredible book,” she said. “The new week is just beginning and I already miss talking about it."
Kate Schlademan, owner of the Learned Owl in Hudson, Ohio, said that her book of the show was Courting Mr. Lincoln (Algonquin Books, April) by Louis Bayard. "I love it, it's great historical fiction, it's very engaging and I love learning about Mary Todd Lincoln.”
Deep River (Grove, July) by Karl Marlantes was cited by several booksellers as a title they are keen to read. “It has been more than a decade since Matterhorn was published,” noted Tom Blute, events manager of Interabang Books in Dallas, Tex., “and my customers are excited to read this one. I know I am.”
Adam Sonderberg, manager of Seminary Co-op in Chicago, cited Lucy Ellmann’s novel Ducks, Newburyport (Biblioasis, Sept.) as one title that stood out. “It's a 750-page novel that is written in a single sentence,” he said. “That is kind of breathtaking to think about.”
Sonderberg’s colleague Jeff Deutsch, director of Seminary Co-op Bookstores, recommends Rachel DeWoskin’s Banshee (Dottir, June). “She teaches at the University of Chicago, which is where we are located. I am really excited about it. It’s going to be a lot of fun to sell.”
This article has been updated.