Shelf Awareness for Tuesday, January 27, 2015
New Gallery Imprint: Scout Signs Clegg for First Title
Simon & Schuster's Gallery Books has launched Scout Press, which is devoted to publishing literary fiction. "We will publish ambitious, conversation-starting novelists who are pushing the boundaries of contemporary fiction while also creating books that will stand the test of time," said Gallery publisher Jennifer Bergstrom.
Scout's first three titles are debut novels: Did You Ever Have a Family by Bill Clegg, the literary agent and memoirist, which will be published September 15; In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware, fall 2015; and Tuesday Nights in 1980 by Molly Prentiss, spring 2016.
Clegg, whose memoirs are Portrait of an Addict as a Young Man and Ninety Days, has also written for the New York Times, New York, Lapham's Quarterly, the Guardian and Harper's Bazaar, among others. In a Times article about his book today, Bergstrom said his novel was the impetus for the imprint--after Clegg's own agent, Jennifer Rudolph Walsh of William Morris Endeavor, submitted the manuscript. "I thought, I need a new place to publish this, because Gallery is not literary," she told the paper. "Bill's book made us rethink everything."
The Times described Did You Ever Have a Family as a story set in Connecticut that "unfolds from multiple perspectives as characters deal with the aftermath of a deadly explosion. Mr. Clegg said the plot grew partly out of conversations he had with his brother, a carpenter who was in heating and plumbing school in Maine and described freakish accidents where a gas leak would blow up a house. As he began shaping the plot, Mr. Clegg was also interested in exploring themes of forgiveness and how people move on after a life-altering tragedy, after his crack addiction caused so much destruction in his life."
Cathy Langer, lead book buyer for Tattered Cover in Denver, Colo., told the Times "she recently tore into a galley of the book, nine months ahead of its release date. 'I knew who Bill Clegg was and was intrigued by the idea of his writing a novel,' she said. 'By Page 1, you're drawn in.' "
No E-Deal: Tesco Closing blinkbox After Waterstones Passes
Waterstones has ended negotiations with supermarket chain Tesco to purchase e-books service blinkbox Books after "a satisfactory deal could not be reached," the Bookseller reported. A spokesperson for Tesco said the company has decided to close blinkbox Books next month: "We've learnt a lot since launching the service and while we saw encouraging levels of take up, we believe that we can do more for our customers by focusing on our core business." Tesco bought the e-book platform in 2012, and the service went live for customers in March 2014.
Even Amazon Bows Before 'Snowpocalypse'
Yesterday afternoon, as blizzard forecasts dominated the news (unlike some footballs, they turned out to be overly inflated), Bloomberg reported that "New Yorkers who plan to let Amazon.com's one-hour delivery service bring them their every need during the blizzard should start thinking about a Plan B." Amazon spokeswoman Kelly Cheeseman said the online retailer would "be operating on a limited schedule" due to the storm.
Obituary Note: Paul Khauli
Paul Khauli, managing director of Levant Group distributors, died January 16, the Bookseller reported. He was 67. Avicenna Partnership's Bill Kennedy said, "His colleagues in Levant Group together with so many of his friends and acquaintances in the industry wonder how and why such energy, commitment, enthusiasm, professionalism and passion can be taken from us all so prematurely."
Booklynn #3: The Open Book Bookstore Is Open!
I hope you all had a busy and successful holiday season! You haven't heard from me for a while, and I have been quite busy as well. I'd love to fill you in on what's been happening in the ongoing story of creating our new indie Open Book bookstore.
When last I wrote, I mentioned that we were planning to launch a crowdfunding campaign. I specifically said that I was planning to use Kickstarter. Well, a few of you let me know (one person in quite strong terms!) that Kickstarter was NOT a good idea. I didn't quite connect the dots at first and realize that Kickstarter uses Amazon to process its payments. So, a Kickstarter campaign for an indie bookstore? Apparently not such a logical idea. (I will note that Kickstarter recently announced that it is switching to a different payment processor, something called Stripe, which actually looks like a competitor to Square, which we use. But as my friend Scott likes to say: "Too late, Lex Luther!")
Instead, we selected Indiegogo, which seemed to have the right upstart indie attitude (and which uses PayPal for payments. Did Amazon buy them yet?). Another appeal of Indiegogo is that you can select a flexible funding option, which means that if you don't make your goal, you pay a higher fee (9% vs. 4%) but can still get whatever money you raise. On Kickstarter, if you don't make your goal, you get nothing and all the donations are refunded. Sad.
|Open Book interior|
Creating the crowdfunding campaign took much longer than we expected. I totally underestimated what's involved in doing this, from making the video (kudos to my husband and bookstore partner, Evan, who taught himself iMovie and did a masterful job) to writing the copy for the page to determining what the rewards will be.
In the end, I'm very pleased with the result. I hope you'll take a look and learn a bit more about who we are and our backgrounds. Here's the link.
I'm thrilled to say we met our goal in 12 days! We started with an initial goal of $5,000, which we explained we would use as follows:
- Build up our inventory
- Purchase additional shelving
- Implement a point-of-sale system that includes printing receipts, a cash drawer and perhaps a barcode scanner
- Join the regional and national bookselling associations and local business merchant group, securing our role in the community
- Promote and advertise the store in the region
- Set up an effective online presence
Once we met the first goal, we set what they call a stretch goal of $8,000, explaining that we would use the additional funds for more inventory and for working capital for things like advertising and marketing.
In the end, we raised $8,790, for which we are profoundly grateful to our friends, our families, our neighbors and many publishing colleagues. (I'm talking about you, Bruce Shaw and Adam Salomone of Harvard Common Press, and you, Angela Bole, David Phethean, Doug Gordon, Andrew Brenneman, Fauzia Burke, Bo & Carol Sacks, Linda Ruth, Margaret Biblis and Judith Appelbaum--you are all amazing!)
We're using most of the money to build our inventory. Even with our very small space (roughly 300 square feet), we really want to have as many books as we can afford and fit. And we are constantly surprised by how much this costs to do, although it won't be news to any of you!
The weekend before last was our official Grand Opening. Friday evening after closing we held a private wine and cheese party for all of our donors who are in the area to thank them, and Saturday we had cake and snacks for all our customers. And now, the real work begins.
More concerted marketing and outreach, as well as event planning, are our next big steps. But little by little, people are finding us, and they seem very pleased to see us in the neighborhood. We have been the (grateful) recipients of a lot of "we want to buy local" support and energy. And our carefully curated collection has also been well-received. A woman came into our bookstore the other day, spent a few minutes looking at our fiction selection, turned to me, and said: "This feels like a list of everything I want to read." What could be better than that?
Another day, a friend of mine came in with her husband and two children, and spent a long time looking at all the books: adult fiction and nonfiction, local authors, and our wide selection of books for children of all ages. She then told me, "When I came in here and saw how small it was compared to Barnes & Noble, I didn't know what to expect. But now I get it. You only have good books. There's no crap." I laughed in appreciation and told her teasingly: "that can be our new slogan: we don't have crap!"
Image of the Day: Famed Feline
|photo: Josh Norem, Furrtographer|
To celebrate The Grumpy Guide to Life: Observations from Grumpy Cat, Grumpy Cat and Chronicle Books challenged fans to the #GrumpyTownUSA contest. As a result, famed feline author Grumpy Cat visited Berkeley, Calif., last week to join in the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Humane Society's new Mobile Adoption Center.
Writers Remember Bookseller Stuart Gersen
In the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance's Peavey newsletter (via the Portland Press Herald), Maine authors remembered Stuart Gersen, co-owner of Longfellow Books, Portland, who died last week. One of the many poignant (and humorous) notes was this from Monica Wood: "My first experience of Stuart happened maybe 15 years ago. He'd just read me for the first time. When I walked into the store, he raised those ridiculously long arms of his, came toward me, and enfolded me in a bear hug. As a Portland writer, I've been living inside that hug ever since."
Innisfree Poetry Bookstore & Café 'Aims to Be an Island'
"This place is different. It aims to be an island," the Boulder Daily Camera noted in its profile of Innisfree Poetry Bookstore & Café, where "thoughts and emotions join words that find their rhythm, both silently on the shelves and sometimes loudly on stage."
When co-founders Brian Buckley and Kate Hunter decided to open a niche bookstore, they faced a range of responses: "Some said, 'We're rooting for you.' Some smirked and said, 'Good luck,' especially on the Hill, where things come and go," said Buckley.
The formula worked, he added: "For a small town, it's amazing what goes on in the poetry realm. There were amazing things going on anyway, and we'd like to think we added another little ripple supporting the art of poetry.... The store is an attempt to honor the art of poetry, the muse, the teachers and parents who delivered poetry so wisely, and the way in which Kate and I met."
Trafalgar Square Adds Scholastic Australia
Effective July 1, Scholastic Australia will be distributed in the U.S. and Canada by Trafalgar Square Publishing, the Independent Publishers Group subsidiary that specializes in distribution of U.K. publishers in the U.S.
Scholastic Australia is part of Scholastic Inc.
Personnel Changes at Putnam
In the Putnam marketing department:
Carrie Swetonic, director of marketing for Dutton, is becoming director of marketing for Putnam & Dutton. Before joining Dutton in 2007, she was a marketing manager at St. Martin's Press.
Ashley Pattison McClay is becoming director of marketing for Putnam. She has been with Penguin since 2010, most recently as associate director of marketing for Plume and Hudson Street. Prior to that, she worked at Holt.
Anna Romig is becoming marketing coordinator for Putnam. She started her career with Putnam and Riverhead marketing in 2013.
Book Trailer of the Day: The Black Widow
The Black Widow, a new thriller by Wendy Corsi Staub (Harper).
Media and Movies
Media Heat: Robert L. Grenier, Author of 88 Days to Kandahar
Tomorrow on MSNBC's the Cycle: Robert L. Grenier, author of 88 Days to Kandahar: A CIA Diary (Simon & Schuster, $28, 9781476712079). He will also appear on Al Jazeera America's Consider This.
Tomorrow on the Diane Rehm Show: readers review Still Alice by Lisa Genova (Gallery, $16, 9781501106422).
Tomorrow night on the Tonight Show: Martin Short, author of I Must Say: My Life As a Humble Comedy Legend (Harper, $26.99, 9780062309525).
'Books on Film' Discussion Series
For the fifth year, TIFF Bell Lightbox, the year-round home of the Toronto International Film Festival (which is held annually in September), is hosting Books on Film, a discussion series hosted by Eleanor Wachtel (of CBC's Writers & Company) that features authors, filmmakers and critics discussing "the art of adaptation and the sometimes challenging passage from page to screen." After a screening of each film, Wachtel and her guests engage in a half-hour conversation, followed by a short q&a with the audience.
This year's line-up, which runs March through June, features such guests as Kazuo Ishiguro (The Remains of the Day) and Irvine Welsh (Trainspotting). The series is a programming partnership with Penguin Random House.
TV: The Clan of the Cave Bear
Millie Brady (Pride and Prejudice & Zombies) has been cast as the lead in Lifetime's pilot episode of The Clan of the Cave Bear, based on the novel by Jean M. Auel, Deadline.com reported. The pilot is written by Linda Woolverton (Maleficent), with Ron Howard, Brian Grazer & Allison Shearmur, Francie Calfo, Woolverton and Auel executive producing.
Books & Authors
Awards: Sami Rohr Finalists
The finalists for the $100,000 Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature, which recognizes "the unique role of contemporary writers in the transmission and examination of the Jewish experience," are:
Panic in a Suitcase: A Novel by Yelena Akhtiorskaya
The UnAmericans: Stories by Molly Antopol
The Lion Seeker: A Novel by Kenneth Bonert
A Replacement Life: A Novel by Boris Fishman
The Best Place on Earth: Stories by Ayelet Tsabari
Review: Mama Koko and the Hundred Gunmen
Mama Koko and the Hundred Gunmen: An Ordinary Family's Extraordinary Tale of Love, Loss, and Survival in Congo by Lisa J. Shannon (PublicAffairs, $24.99 hardcover, 9781610394451, February 3, 2015)
In Mama Koko and the Hundred Gunmen, Lisa Shannon, author of A Thousand Sisters and founder of Run for Congo Women, returns to the troubled land of Congo to document the continuing horrors unfolding in this African nation. She and Francisca Thelin, a Congolese woman who had moved to the United States with her American husband and two children, traveled to Thelin's home town of Dungu to see if any of Thelin's family members were still alive after the dreaded militia, the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), led by Joseph Kony, a self-proclaimed prophet who ruled the region, terrorized and killed men, women and children indiscriminately. As Shannon writes, "We were wading into a deeper crocodile swamp than we knew, of course. We couldn't see then what our prodding might unravel. Or the fact that by the time our story reached its end, so many of the people central to our time in Dungu would be dead."
The story unfolds in bits and pieces as Shannon interweaves personal accounts taken from long interviews with Thelin's family conducted in Mama Koko's backyard yapu--"a large open-air hut made of palm leaves and adobe, furnished with traditional woven lounge chairs and wooden coffee tables"--with her own reflections on the tense and dangerous situations in which they found themselves. Some relatives were eager to share their stories of brutal kidnappings, rape and vicious abuse, and of fleeing into the night with nothing but the few clothes they wore to escape the brutality of the LRA. Others had to be drawn out or waited impatiently to speak, only to break down once their pain and fears were released.
In places, the narrative is dramatic, fast-paced and difficult to read because of the detailed descriptions of the inhumaneness and violence of the LRA. But these sections are juxtaposed against small details that bring the ordinary lives of the Congolese people to life. Shannon immerses the reader in the food, the clothing and culture as Thelin's relatives and neighbors move through the rotation of the seasons, collecting coffee, rice, millet and other foods, or preparing the yearly supply of termite oil, considered a delicacy, in the years before the LRA came.
For those unfamiliar with Congolese history, in an appendix, Shannon provides a useful synopsis of the LRA and Kony, listed by the International Criminal Court as "The World's Most Wanted Man." Mama Koko and the Hundred Gunmen is an eye-opening account of the atrocities still being conducted in Congo and a beautiful story of an extended family holding on to its pride and connections despite the horrible odds. --Lee E. Cart, freelance writer and book reviewer
Shelf Talker: A vivid account of the atrocities endured by one Congolese family when Joseph Kony's militia terrorized their village.
Top-Selling Self-Published Titles
The bestselling self-published books last week as compiled by IndieReader.com:
1. The 20/20 Diet by Phil McGraw
2. Corps Security by Harper Sloan
3. One Night Stand by J.S. and Helen Cooper
4. Reasonable Doubt Full Series by Whitney G.
5. The Pact by Karina Halle
6. Never Never by Colleen Hoover and Tarryn Fisher
7. Raveling You (Unraveling You Book 2) by Jessica Sorensen
8. Uncover Me (Men of Inked Book 4) by Chelle Bliss
9. Ghost-in-Law Boxset by Jana DeLeon
10. Cowboys Last All Night by Various
[Many thanks to IndieReader.com!]