Shores Beyond Shores, a memoir about the Holocaust written by Irene Hasenberg Butter, an 88-year-old retired professor of public health at the University of Michigan, may never have been published if it had not been for the Clinton Foundation. Originally published last year by White River Press, a hybrid publisher in Amherst, Mass., U.K.-based Can of Worms Enterprises is publishing it this fall under its new TSB imprint.
While TSB released the book on September 15 in the U.S., it won’t be available in the U.K. until November 9.
According to the author, while Butter spoke for more than 35 years to Michigan school children about how she, her mother, and her brother survived incarceration in Bergen-Belsen, the same camp in which her friend, Anne Frank, was imprisoned during World War II, she never considered publishing her life story. She only began writing down her memories about five years ago at her daughter’s urging. But then Butter was asked to speak at a Clinton Foundation event at the Clinton Presidential Center in Little Rock, Ark., and was asked to bring along copies of her book.
“I had to confess that I hadn’t found a publisher,” she recalled, describing how she then contacted White River Press, which promised publication in four months -- just in time to make copies available during the January 31, 2018 event in Arkansas at which Butter spoke. She reports that “several hundred books” were sold that night. Approximately 5,000 copies of the White River Press edition were sold in total by the time Can of Worms bought the global rights at the London Book Fair this past spring.
Shores Beyond Shores launched in the U.S. with a conversation between Butter and Andrew Solomon at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York City on September 15. The U.K. pub date is being timed to coincide with the 81st anniversary of Kristallnacht (November 9-10, 1938), when Nazis in Butter’s German homeland torched synagogues, vandalized Jewish homes, schools, and businesses and murdered about 100 Jews.
Can of Worms publisher Tobias Steed said that the two different publishing schedules were a marketing strategy designed to boost sales in Europe for the book, which will be released with a 5,000 copy print run, although Steed expects to go into a second print run before November's release date in the U.K., as most, if not all, of the first print run has been sent to its U.S. distributor, Two Rivers Distribution in New York..
Steed’s strategy seems to be working so far: Not only was Shores Beyond Shores reviewed in The Bookseller, it was named Editor’s Choice in the biography and memoirs category.
“I am pleased that I didn’t have time to write and publish this book earlier,” Butter noted, “It’s so much more relevant today. The world can't afford us to be bystanders in the face of oppression and hate. Given my age, I am glad to be here to participate in getting it out into the world."
Adds Steed, ”Irene’s memoir is an important tool to ensure that ‘Never a Bystander’ be. Our publishing her words is the least we can do to cast light into the darkest shadows of hatred.”.
The imprint under which this book is being released was incorrectly identified in an earlier version of this story and has been updated.