Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, September 2, 2009


Harper: Only Killers and Thieves by Paul Howarth

Mira Books: Rosie Colored Glasses by Brianna Wolfson

Little Brown and Company: The Which Way Tree by Elizabeth Crook

Bloomsbury: Reign the Earth by A.C. Gaughen

Soho Crime: The Widows of Malabar Hill by Sujata Massey

Shadow Mountain: Christmas Jars Collector's Edition by Jason F. Wright

Editors' Note

1,000 Issues and Counting

Sharp-eyed readers (and there are many of you!) will note that this is our 1,000th issue, a nice milestone after publishing Shelf Awareness for slightly more than four years and two months. We're moving on now to Volume 2, but will keep on counting each issue. It's a bit shocking to think we've put out 1,000 issues, but it continues to be a great ride. We're so glad to have your support and interest and glad to be able to help the industry in our way. Thank you all!

 


Sourcebooks Jabberwocky: The Very Very Very Long Dog by Julia Patton


News

Notes: General Retail Glass Half Empty/Full; Fact: World Almanac Sold

Although August back-to-school sales figures are reportedly disappointing, general retailers have one thing to look forward to this fall: monthly sales figures, which are compared to the same period a year earlier, will now look somewhat better because they will reflect the economic slide that started in retail last fall. Still, as the New York Times pointed out, "The numbers should not be interpreted to mean retailing has regained all the ground it lost during the most severe recession of modern times. Retailers are still billions of dollars below the high point of sales that they reached during the boom. While the economy has begun to show signs of improvement, a continuing reluctance to spend on the part of consumers could serve as a major drag on the recovery."

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Infobase Publishing has bought the World Almanac imprint from Weekly Reader Publishing Group. The unit's chief property, The World Almanac and Book of Facts, has sold more than 80 million copies. The imprint includes The World Almanac for Kids and The World Almanac Book of Records.

Infobase Publishing is an educational media company that owns Facts on File, Films for the Humanities & Sciences, Cambridge Educational, Chelsea House, Bloom's Literary Criticism and Ferguson Publishing, among others. Infobase is owned by private equity firm Veronis Suhler Stevenson.

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Good news from Green Apple Books, San Francisco, Calif. (our editor-in-chief's sister's favorite bookstore in the world): the 10-year buyout of founder Rich Savoy by the team of Kevin Ryan, Kevin Hunsanger and Pete Mulvihill has been completed, Mulvihill reported on the store's blog. In addition, the store has signed a 10-year lease on its two buildings.

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Congratulations to Osondu Booksellers, Waynesville, N.C., which celebrated its fifth birthday yesterday! The store is owned by Margaret Osondu.

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Editor's bookshelf. We want to put in a plug for an ARC we grabbed from the stream coming in the front door: Stardust by Joseph Kanon, which is coming out September 29 (Atria, $27.95, 9781439156148/143915614X). By the author of The Good German, Los Alamos, Alibi and The Prodigal Spy and the one-time head of Houghton Mifflin and E.P. Dutton, Stardust is set in 1945 in Los Angeles. It's about the movie business, the beginnings of the Red Scare, German emigres (Bertolt Brecht has a few lines, Thomas Mann keeps his distance), a murder mystery, the dreamworld of Hollywood and the dreamworld of real life. It's a great book with a great ending and has a noir feel that makes the most of its surreal setting. We can't wait for the movie!

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Black Fork Bookstore, Shelby, Ohio, is "a dream come true" for owner Sheryl Potts, who told the Mansfield News Journal that she "always pictured myself opening a little, hippie bookstore for as long as I can remember. I've been a huge reader all my life. I love books, so I've been collecting them for about 10 years."

The bookstore opened July 10 in a space that was heavily damaged by floods in 2007. "The reason we got it so cheap was because of how much of a mess it was," said Potts. "This is a place for people to come and be together. We want them to have fun, shop and be introduced to some culture in Shelby."

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"Books are whispers of the past heard well into the future," Keri Douglas observed in an Ode profile of Lydia Hakizimana, who opened Drakkar Ltd. bookstore in Kigali, Rwanda, three years ago.

Douglas noted that with "the return to academics for many Rwandans, Lydia has a created a welcome niche. However, though the genocide is over, the lingering result is a collective ambition for survival, success and deeper faith, which is reflected in Lydia's current recommended reading list":

  • Introduction to Financial Accounting by Charles T. Hongren
  • Macroeconomics by Blanchard, 2nd Edition, Study Guide and Tutorial
  • Marketing Management by Philip Kotler
  • Hannah by Paul-Loup Sulitzer
  • A Thousand Hills: Rwanda's Rebirth and the Man Who Dreamed It by Stephen Kinzer
  • Left to Tell: Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust by Immaculee Iligagiza

Hakizimana's dream "is to open libraries in schools and hospitals throughout Rwanda to share the joy of reading," Douglas added.

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Book trailer of the day: The Weight of Silence by Heather Gudenkauf.

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Novelist and legendary musician Nick Cave "is sprinkling a little rock 'n' roll glamour over publishing's latest front in the battle for readers, by releasing an iPhone version of his new novel, The Death of Bunny Munro," the Guardian reported.

"Bunny Munro was perfect for this kind of thing," said Cave. "Being a musician as well, I've been able to provide all sorts of other things to make it as interesting an experience as possible to read this book on the iPhone. . . . The strangest thing for me is that almost all musicians feel that we are chasing the tail of something beyond our grasp with music downloading and so on but, quite by accident, with the publishing of this book I'm suddenly involved with something that is taking the bull by the horns and that's quite exciting.

"I see the paper copy as the real book. I sat down and wrote a novel, and that was difficult enough in itself without considering what the music would be. However, as a songwriter, I do have a naturally musical way of writing and [the book] has lent itself well to being scored, musically. It is a unique situation where you can write a novel and make music to it as well; it can be a different way of taking in a piece of literature."

 

 


Siglio Press: The Stampographer by Vincent Sardon


Image of the Day: Ridge at Books & Greetings

On Monday, Books & Greetings, Northvale, N.J., hosted Tom Ridge, former Governor of Pennsylvania and the first Secretary of Homeland Security, at the first stop on Ridge's tour for his new book, The Test of Our Times. Some 85 people attended, and the store sold more than 100 copies. Ridge (in suit and tie) accepted a key to the town from the mayor of Northvale. To the right: Books & Greetings owner Kenny Sarfin.

 


PuddleDancer Press: Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life, 3rd Edition: Life-Changing Tools for Healthy Relationships by Marshall B. Rosenberg


Media and Movies

Media Heat: The Style Strategy

Tomorrow on the Diane Rehm Show: Nancy Rappaport, author of In Her Wake: A Child Psychiatrist Explores the Mystery of Her Mother's Suicide (Basic Books, $25.95, 9780465014507/046501450X).

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Tomorrow on Rachel Ray: Nina Garcia, author of The Style Strategy: A Less-Is-More Approach to Staying Chic and Shopping Smart (It Books, $21.99, 9780061834011/0061834017).

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Tomorrow on KCRW's Bookworm: Reif Larsen, author of The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet (Penguin Press, $27.95, 9781594202179/1594202176). As the show put it: "Reif Larsen's little T. S. Spivet, twelve-year-old genius cartographer, compulsively maps everything, so the novel reads like an instruction manual for seeing the world afresh. But what of Larsen, the young novelist? Is he an obsessive too?"

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Tomorrow on Tavis Smiley: George Foreman, author of Knockout Entrepreneur (Thomas Nelson, $22.99, 9780785222088/0785222081).

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Tomorrow on Bill Moyers' Journal: Jane Goodall, author of Hope for Animals and Their World: How Endangered Species Are Being Rescued from the Brink (Grand Central, $27.99, 9780446581776/0446581771).

 


Freeform: The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton


Television: Boardwalk Empire

HBO has has ordered 11 episodes of the Martin Scorsese-produced period drama, Boardwalk Empire. Variety reported that Steve Buscemi will star as 1920s Atlantic City bigwig Nucky Thompson. The cast also includes Michael Pitt, Kelly Macdonald, Michael Shannon, Shea Whigham, Dabney Coleman and Stephen Graham. Production is expected to begin this fall on the series, which is adapted from Nelson Johnson's book, Boardwalk Empire: The Birth, High Times, and Corruption of Atlantic City. Scorcese will direct the pilot, then remain on board as executive producer.

 



Books & Authors

Children's Book Review: Funny Business

Funny Business: Conversations with Writers of Comedy by Leonard S. Marcus (Candlewick, $19.99, 9780763632540/0763632546, 224 pp., ages 10-up, October 2009)

As he did with his The Wand in the Word: Conversations with Writers of Fantasy (available in paperback in October also from Candlewick, $14.99, 9780763645564/0763645567), master interviewer and renowned children's literature scholar Leonard S. Marcus selects 13 representative authors to delve deeply into a genre well-loved by young people. In The Wand in the Word, the focus was fantasy; here it is humor. Each interview offers--among other things--a window into what the writers were like as children, their first encounters with humor (whether making a joke themselves or recognizing someone else's pun) and their advice to young aspiring authors. Judy Blume used humor to broach challenging, and even previously taboo topics, such as sex, ridicule and divorce. One of Sharon Creech's first practical uses of humor was to divert her parents from an argument. Anne Fine, who grew up in Britain in the aftermath of World War II, says, "The pain of being aware of what is going on around you is often what galvanizes a person to wit and humor." As Christopher Paul Curtis puts it, referring to the days when he worked in the auto factory, "Humor is a survival tactic." That was certainly true for Carl Hiaasen, who skipped a grade and was physically smaller and socially "behind"; he used "a smart-ass sense of humor to disarm the situation" with bullies on the school bus. Hilary McKay goes for the laughter of recognition, by capturing the way people talk "with no frills, no comments on it yourself." And then there's Daniel Pinkwater: "I am not funny. I am just misunderstood."
 
Certain subthemes emerge among the various authors' profiles, such as Daniel Handler (aka Lemony Snicket) and Norton Juster's love of the Marx brothers, many of the authors' fondness for puns as well as Mad magazine and the way logical progressions play out in the writing of humor. Jon Scieszka, for instance, describes precisely how "humor is mathematical"; Louis Sachar says that one of his cards-playing friends thought that "the story of Holes unfolds with the logic of a bridge hand." And there is a wealth of guidance here for young writers, mostly about the fruits of revision. Christopher Paul Curtis, who says he may revise a chapter 78 times, advises that "revising is like working with smaller and smaller screwdrivers." Beverly Cleary, too, says, "I've decided I don't like to write but I love to revise." And readers will be uplifted by the inspiring story of Dick King-Smith, who was first published at age 56. Whether children are looking for writing tips or simply more information about their favorite authors, they are certain to savor this collection.--Jennifer M. Brown

 


Shelf Starter: The Curse of the Labrador Duck

The Curse of the Labrador Duck: My Obsessive Quest to the Edge of Extinction by Glen Chilton (Simon and Schuster, $25, 9781439102473/1439102473, September 8, 2009)

Opening lines of books we want to read:

From the introduction:


I was a nervous and obsessive child. They say that some children suck their thumbs while still in the womb; I spent those nine months chewing my fingernails. Ten minutes after I learned to tell time, I became a habitual clock watcher. I owned the biggest dictionary in the fifth grade. As a nervous and obsessive child, part of my job was to collect things. I collected NHL hockey cards and British postage stamps and Batman comics books and balsa wood gliders and buttons with funny sayings and, well, you get the idea.

From Chapter 1:

Here is some advice in case you ever decide to chuck your job in order to study birds. If you are going to be an ornithologist, choose a spot that is both exotic and remote. That way, even though you will be penniless, you can at least tell yourself that you are enjoying penury with a good view. As an ornithologist working in the wilder parts of the world, you will also have a reasonably good chance of dying in the jaws of a big scary animal, instead of in debtors' prison.

I forgot these rather simple words of wisdom about ten years ago when I set out to study the songs of Puget Sound White-crowned Sparrows.

--Selected by Marilyn Dahl


Book Brahmin: Kate DiCamillo

Starting with her first novel, Because of Winn-Dixie, which was a 2001 Newbery Honor Book, Kate DiCamillo and her work have won a range of awards, from E.B. White Read Aloud honor book in the Picture Book category (for Louise, the Adventures of a Chicken, illustrated by Harry Bliss) to the ALA's Theodor Seuss Geisel Honor (for Mercy Watson Goes for a Ride, illustrated by Chris Van Dusen) to National Book Award Finalist (for The Tiger Rising) to Newbery Medal (for The Tale of Despereaux, which, like Winn-Dixie, inspired a feature film). In September, DiCamillo will publish her fifth middle-grade novel, The Magician's Elephant (Candlewick), a fable that asks "What if?" What if an orphan boy named Peter was not completely alone in the world? What if a magician could conjure an elephant that would crash through the glass ceiling of the Bliffendorf Opera House? And, in the words of the small policeman, Leo Matienne, "What if everything was to be irrevocably, undeniably changed by the elephant's arrival?"

On your nightstand now:

Well, right now it's a particularly teetery pile. Let's see, there's Sebastian Barry's The Secret Scripture, Marissa Silver's The God of War, Rose Tremain's Music and Silence. Also, there's some nonfiction: Michael Chabon's Maps and Legends, Anthony Lane's Nobody's Perfect and Michael Dennis Brown's What the Poem Wants.

Favorite book when you were a child: 

I loved so many different books that it's impossible to pick just one. There were, though, books that I kept coming back to. One was William Pene du Bois's The Twenty-One Balloons. Another was a biography of George Washington Carver (I can't remember who wrote it) that I checked out every week from the library and didn't always return on time. There were a lot of overdue fines for that book. My mother got so exasperated paying the late fees that she offered to just buy the book. I remember the librarian saying, "You know it doesn't work that way, Betty."

Your top five authors: 

That's impossible, too. I can't do it. Okay. Um. Isak Dinesen, Rose Tremain, Alice Munro, Marilynne Robinson, Eudora Welty.

Book you've faked reading:

I have never read Ulysses; and while I haven't explicitly faked reading it, I have kind of hummed and smiled and nodded knowingly when people have discussed it.

Book you're an evangelist for:

Judith Thurman's biography, Isak Dinesen: The Life of a Storyteller. I read it every year, and every year I learn something more about storytelling, its limitations and its powers.

Book you've bought for the cover:

I am shameless when it comes to covers. I've bought more books for their covers than I could possibly say. Most recent cover that has entranced me: Jutta Richter's The Cat: Or, How I Lost Eternity.

Book that changed your life:

This is tough, but ultimately I would have to say Anne Tyler's The Accidental Tourist. I read a paragraph that ended with these words: "About your son, she seemed to be saying: Just put your hand here. I'm scarred, too. We're all scarred. You are not the only one." I was so moved, so undone, that I let myself form this outrageous thought: "I want to try and do this. I want to put words on paper that will make somebody else feel the way I feel right now." That book, those words, moved me to try; and the trying has changed my life, continues to change my life.

Favorite line from a book:

"Thus is the world peopled."--From Jane Gardam's novel Old Filth. Just typing the words makes me laugh out loud in wonder and delight.
 
Book you most want to read again for the first time:

Richard Russo's Nobody's Fool. I read it in one hungry gulp. I wish I had gone slower (more slowly?). I wish I had savored it. I loved every ding-danging minute of it.

If we asked you the same questions tomorrow, would you have different answers?  Different favorites? 

Yes.

Do you think that the stories can and do change lives?

Yes.

 


Deeper Understanding

Namastechnology: Adding Glue to the Social Network Mix

At the BEA Day of Education this year, one of the questions posed at the end of the social media panel was: "Two years ago, you told us we had to look into Myspace. Last year, it was Facebook. This year, it's Twitter. What's it going to be next year?"

Allow me to present a possible contender: Glue. Glue isn't just a possibility for the next level of social media; it also challenges us to re-think the way we're using social media.

Glue is a software that works with your web browser to connect you with the likes and recommendations of your friends regardless of which website you're on. As a way to see what friends are interested in, it's the reverse of what we're used to with current social media. For example, on Facebook, to see what your friends are reading, you have to look at their info page or status updates. With Glue, the software is organized around the books. (Or the movies, or the TV shows, but this isn't Screen Awareness.)

So, for example, if you were looking at a book on IndieBound, in addition to seeing all the normal information on the webpage, a bar would pop up on the bottom with more information: friends and other Glue users ("neighbors") who have also looked at that book, if they liked it, and their review if they've reviewed it. But what makes Glue unusual is that it will show you if they looked at it, liked it or reviewed it anywhere on the web that works with Glue's technology. So, whether you're looking at a book on IndieBound, Amazon, Wikipedia or a publisher's website, all that information is being gathered into one place--that bar at the bottom of your screen.

Fraser Kelton, v-p of business development at Glue, sums it up this way: "Glue is focused on creating a web-wide experience for people who love books, regardless of the site they visit."

When I first learned about Glue, I was wary of working with software that includes all book sites. After all, I don't think all book sites are created equal, and I'd be reluctant to have something on my bookstore's website that might send business to a competitor.

However, the more I've worked with Glue, the more I've felt that by being site-agnostic, Glue is doing independent bookstores and our websites a favor. This kind of software and these sorts of connections across the Internet are something that a massive corporation might have the money to create for itself, but that an independent bookseller isn't likely to be able to fund. On a deeper level, Glue is expanding the definition of what a book website is simply by making them all equally accessible. To the average web browser, looking for a book means looking at Amazon. By providing consistent evidence at the bottom of the screen that there are lots of places to learn about (and buy!) books, Glue becomes a sticky reminder that IndieBound exists, and that a publisher's website can be an even more valuable source of information than Wikipedia.

"A single website will never be the sole resource for individuals interested in books," says Fraser. "Even if the majority of people buy from a single online retailer, we read reviews on other sites, check out what our friends are reading on various book social networks, etc. Our book experience online spans multiple sites, and it's naive to think that an independent bookseller will ever be THE site for books. I'd love to see independent booksellers embrace this idea and focus on providing the best experience for the individual."

Glue is a different approach to social media in that it is media-focused rather than individual-focused. It's also a different approach because using it requires us to think about our place in the book industry and online differently. Right now, we're using Facebook and Twitter to talk about ourselves to people who seek us out or find us and want to hear from us. Our use of that social media is dependent on being found and being heard, and it certainly has worked to improve the position of independent booksellers among those who already support them. Unfortunately, that group is currently about 7% market share, according to PW a few weeks ago.

Glue has the potential to push beyond that group in a very non-invasive way. Simply by using it, by having it imbedded in our sites or even using it at home, we can become part of a larger book-loving web community that might slowly be remembering we're downtown and have downloaded the IndieBound iPhone app, but is still not thinking about independent booksellers being on the same playing field as Amazon.

Since a lot of us are re-thinking our visual web presence lately due to IndieBound's move to Drupal, now's a good time to re-think it philosophically as well. What is the website for? Is it possible to serve our existing community while reaching out to a new community, too? If so, what might we need to change or add to do so? I believe that adding Glue can be a low-impact way to start to include your bookstore in the large, vibrant, vocal, fantastic conversation about books that's happening on the web. How can you do that?

Start by going to the website and downloading it for your own computer. Use the Internet as you normally would for a few days and try it out.

If you want to use it on your site, "there are a few ways to get going with Glue," Fraser says. "If the bookstore has access to a web developer, then the easiest place to start is to integrate AB Meta into their webpage. It's a super simple format for annotating pages about books. By adding a few lines of AB Meta to your site you'll be plugged into the Glue network." And if that all seemed like so much Greek to you, e-mail: fraser@adaptiveblue.com

--Stephanie Anderson

Sick of hearing about social media? What other technology do you want to hear booksellers discussing? E-mail stephanie@wordbrooklyn.com. And if you'd like to hear more of Fraser Kelton's ideas for independent booksellers beyond Glue, read this blog post.

 


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