Shelf Awareness for Friday, February 26, 2010


Little Brown and Company: The Balcony by Jane Delury

Houghton Mifflin: Playing Atari with Saddam Hussein: Based on a True Story by Jennifer Roy with Ali Fadhil

Tarcherperigee: F You Very Much: Understanding the Culture of Rudeness--And What We Can Do about It by Danny Wallace

Katherine Tegen Books: Another Quest for Celeste (Nest for Celeste #2) by Henry Cole

News

Notes: The Inkwell Bookstore's Secret Move; E-fairness Update

Kathleen Thut, co-owner of the Inkwell Bookstore, Falmouth, Mass., told the Bulletin that her shop will celebrate its fifth anniversary this summer in a new Main Street location, which will be announced as soon as the lease agreement is finalized. "The store staff started packing up earlier this week, and the store is now open for special order pick-ups only. Although the task of moving is daunting, Thut said it is also exciting," the Bulletin wrote.

"One of our biggest problems has always been a lack of parking," she said. "We want to accommodate our customers' needs and will be better equipped to do so in our new space. We offer a wide array of author events, book clubs, and art shows and we will be doing even more events now that we’ll have the appropriate parking."

"We're happy about all the things we can continue to provide as an indie bookstore. It's a new beginning for us," she added.

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Bookselling this Week featured updates on e-fairness legislation efforts in several states and reported that "a broad and diverse coalition" is supporting the cause in California, including the ABA, NCIBA,  SCIBA, Christian Booksellers Association, California Retailers Association, Barnes & Noble and Wal-Mart.

"The fact that a broad coalition of retailers and associations has come together for e-fairness makes very clear how important sales tax equity is for the economic health of retail businesses, both large and small," said ABA CEO Oren Teicher.

In Virginia, e-fairness legislation was voted down by the House of Delegates a week after it had passed in the Senate (Shelf Awareness, February 19, 2010), but BTW noted that "it was expected that e-fairness language would be included in the Virginia budget, so ABA continues to ask its member bookstores to contact their legislators in support of e-fairness."

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John Grisham is writing a series for kids featuring "a precocious amateur lawyer," the New York Times reported. The debut title, Theodore Boone: Kid Lawyer, will be published in May by Penguin Young Readers Group, "a move that takes him away from his long-time publisher, the Doubleday imprint of Random House.... Doubleday will still publish Mr. Grisham's forthcoming legal thriller for adults, an untitled work that will be released in October," the Times wrote.

"Children's publishing is totally different from adults," said David Gernert, Grisham's agent, adding that the author "felt that it would be a good idea to explore the world of children's publishing and talk to a couple of different people."

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A pair of Washington State bookstores--Eagle Harbor Book Company, Bainbridge, and Vintage Books, Vancouver--are celebrating birthdays this year. Bookselling this Week reported that both "are looking back on their history while preparing for a vibrant future."

"I'm keeping it going for the next owners. It's a responsibility to the community," said Morley Horder, owner of Eagle Harbor Book Company, which will be 40 years old tomorrow.

Vintage Books is 35 this year, and owner Becky Milner said, "It's still fun to come to work every day.... I tell my husband I'm going to do it till I'm 95."

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John Makinson, chairman and CEO of the Penguin Group, spoke with the Daily Mail about the publishing industry's present and future, observing that the "transition from physical to digital is a momentous moment for the industry. The decisions that we take now on behalf of authors will determine the future of publishing."

Makinson expressed doubts about the prevailing theory that the book industry may be headed down the road the music industry has been traveling for a decade.

"The success of the independent stores suggests that people do have a particular affinity with the product," he said. "Music shops do not have the same charisma. The CD format and DVDs are very impersonal, they’re polythene-wrapped and functional things that you don’t want to collect." On the other hand, he noted that moves like Apple's introduction of the iPad could play a role in "introducing a large new audience to the reading of electronic books."

Makinson also expressed optimism regarding the future of indie bookstores, despite the many challenges they face: "The book market is the only one I know where the consumer will knowingly pay more for exactly the same thing to support a local business."

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Obituary note: Ed Thomas, owner of Book Carnival, Orange, Calif., died Tuesday. He was 77. The Orange County Register featured a moving tribute, recalling that until recent months when he began spending less time in the store, "Thomas was almost always behind the counter, open book in hand (he read the way other people breathe) surrounded by stacks of the just-finished and the about-to-begin. If you wanted something he'd gladly put down his book to help you, though if he liked it, and thought you might, he'd try to sell that one to you, too."

His daughter, Cindy Cary, said there will be a "celebration of his life soon. Naturally, it will be at Book Carnival. This was his church." In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to St. Jude's Children's Hospital by calling 800-873-6983 and then using the tribute number 25678092.

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Book (cover) trailer of the day: The Journal Keeper: A Memoir by Phyllis Theroux (Atlantic Monthly Press).

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Conceding that the effort may pose no threat to the popularity of beer pong on college campuses, the Los Angeles Times Jacket Copy blog reported that the Antiquarian Booksellers' Association of America, the Fellowship of American Bibliophilic Societies, the Center for the Book and the Rare Books and Special Collections Division at the Library of Congress are joining forces in hope of interesting more students into the field of rare book collecting with a National Collegiate Book Collecting Contest.

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Batman vs. Superman. Just days after a 1938 Superman comic book set a new record by selling for $1 million (Shelf Awareness, February 25, 2010), a 1939 copy of Detective Comics No. 27--in which Batman debuts--sold at auction for $1,075,500, the Washington Post reported.
   
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"What is the point of dustjackets?" asked Peter Robins on the Guardian's Books Blog. Having noticed more jacketless titles being being published recently, he observed that "the jacket remains an unnecessary and vulnerable encumbrance. That, at least, is how it has always seemed to me--and some in the book trade appear to be reaching the same conclusion."

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In his paean to bookshelves, Kevin Hartnett wrote in the Millions: "What other vessel is able to hold with such precision, intricacy, and economy, all the facets of your life: that you bake bread, vacationed in China, fetishize Melville, aspire to read Shakespeare, have coped with loss and still tote around a copy of The Missing Piece as a totem of your childhood.... To the extent that bookshelves persist, it will be in self-conscious form, as display cases filled with only the books we valued enough to acquire and preserve in hard copy. The more interesting story, however, the open-ended, undirected progression of a life defined by books will surely be lost to a digital world in which there is no such thing as time at all."

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Shelf Awareness children's editor Jennifer M. Brown is working with Readeo's CEO and founder Coby Neuenschwander to launch the new service, which promotes shared reading over the Internet.
 
Readeo allows two people who are separated geographically (such as a grandparent and grandchild or a military parent and his or her child) to share books together in real time while connected in a BookChat (in which they can see each other via a video connection). On the screen, they see the same digitized picture book and turn the pages together.

Readeo is launching with well-known titles from four publishing partners: Blue Apple Books, Candlewick Press, Chronicle Books, and Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing. In her role as editor on the site, Brown works with Readeo's publishing partners to select the titles she believes best enhance the read-aloud experience.

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Effective March 15, Kathleen Schmidt will join Shreve Williams Public Relations as director of publicity and digital media, part of a move by Shreve Williams to expand its services to include multi-platform digital media campaigns for authors and publishers. Schmidt has been v-p, director of publicity, at Atria Books since 2006. Earlier she was director of publicity for Dutton and Gotham Books and began her career at Carol Publishing.

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Random House has announced changes in its digital leadership structure. The team will report directly to Madeline McIntosh, president, sales, operations and digital, who rejoined Random House in December after a stint with Amazon in Europe.

"Madeline is announcing the formation of new teams that will be fully dedicated to digital-content development, digital sales development, and online marketing," said chairman and CEO Markus Dohle.

The new roles and departments include:

  • Nina von Moltke, v-p, digital publishing development
  • Amanda Close, v-p, digital sales and business development
  • Pete McCarthy, v-p, online and digital marketing  

Continuing in their current roles are Andrew Weber, senior v-p, director, operations and technology; Joan DeMayo, senior v-p, director, children's sales; and Jaci Updike, senior v-p, director, adult sales.

 


Page Street Kids: Beneath the Haunting Sea by Joanna Meyer


Image of the Day: Trash Talk?

Annabelle Gurwitch and Jeff Kahn, husband/wife authors of You Say Tomato, I Say Shut Up: A Love Story (Crown), at a signing at the Borders store on Columbus Circle in New York City Tuesday night.

 

 

 


Soho Crime: My Name Is Nathan Lucius by Mark Winkler


G.L.O.W. - Galley Love of the Week
Be the first to have an advance copy!
The Mercy Seat
by Elizabeth H. Winthrop 

In Jim Crow-era Louisiana, a handful of townspeople contemplate the impending execution of 18-year-old Willie Jones. As they consider their own roles in the young black man's fate, some with regret, others with a certain sort of vicious pride, author Elizabeth H. Winthrop builds a taut, yet tender portrait of racism, justice and our legal system in The Mercy Seat. Winthrop’s skillful plaiting of multiple viewpoints into an aching, quietly powerful tale is both impressive and effective--you will see yourself in one or more of the characters, and it will make you uncomfortable. But you'll thank Winthrop for the opportunity, which might be the most wondrous work of The Mercy Seat in the end. This is Winthrop's break-out book. --Stefanie Hargreaves, editor, Shelf Awareness for Readers 

(Grove Press, $26.00 hardcover, 9780802128188, May 8, 2018)

CLICK HERE TO ENTER
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Media and Movies

Media Heat: The Animal Manifesto

This morning on the Early Show, for a segment about the SeaWorld incident in which the orca Tilly killed his trainer: Dr. Marc Bekoff, author of The Animal Manifesto: Six Reasons for Expanding Our Compassion Footprint (New World Library, $14.95, 9781577316497/1577316495).

 


Ecco Press: Tangerine by Christine Mangan


Movies: The Rite; The Little Prince in 3D

Anthony Hopkins will star in The Rite, a supernatural thriller adapted from Matt Baglio's book The Rite: The Making of a Modern Exorcist. Mikael Hafstrom is directing the movie, the Hollywood Reporter wrote.

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French producers Aton Soumache and Dimitri Rassam have secured the rights to make a 3D animated film adaptation of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry's The Little Prince. They reached an agreement with the author's family for the €45 million (US$60.8 million) movie, Variety reported. Production is scheduled to begin in early 2011.

"I'm a fan of Aton and Dimitri's past films, notably Renaissance and The Children of Timpelbach," said Saint-Exupéry's great-nephew Olivier d'Agay, who will advise the producers. "I'm confident they have the necessary experience and creativity to give The Little Prince the modern treatment it deserves."

 


Podcast: Open Season

No lights, no camera, but plenty of action. The Wall Street Journal visited the set an audio adaptation of Vermont author Archer Mayor's first mystery novel, Open Season--the latest production from Fred Greenhalgh's FinalRune Productions.

"What amazes me is that audio drama just won't go away," said Sue Zizza, a sound-effects artist and one of the director's mentors. "It's so primal in us. No matter how much we ignore it, there are still people out there like Fred."

The inspiration for Open Season came from Martin Cohn, a public relations man who approached Mayor about adapting one of his 20 Joe Gunther mysteries, which are set in Vermont, into an audio drama. Greenhalgh was hired to produce a pilot. According to the Journal, the "script, the theater, the actors, the sound man and the lasagna are setting Mr. Cohn and Mr. Mayor back $1,500." 

 


Books & Authors

Shelf Starters: The Infinities

The Infinities by John Banville (Knopf, $25.95, 9780307272799/0307272796, February 23, 2010)

Opening lines of books we want to read:

Of the things we fashioned for them that they might be comforted, dawn is the one that works. When darkness sifts from the air like fine soft soot and light spreads slowly out of the east then all but the most wretched of humankind rally. It is a spectacle we immortals enjoy, this minor daily resurrection, often we will gather at the ramparts of the clouds and gaze down upon them, our little ones, as they bestir themselves to welcome the new day. What a silence falls upon us then, the sad silence or our envy. Many of them sleep on, of course, careless of our cousin Aurora's charming matutinal trick, but there are always the insomniacs, the restless ill, the lovelorn tossing on their solitary beds, or just the early-risers, the busy ones, with their knee-bends and their cold showers and their fussy little cups of black ambrosia. Yes, all who witness it greet the dawn with joy, more or less, except of course the condemned man, for who first light will be the last on earth. --Selected by Marilyn Dahl



Book Brahmin: Anna Lawrence Pietroni

Anna Lawrence Pietroni was born and brought up on the edge of the Black Country, near Birmingham, England. She studied English Literature at Oxford and was training to be a prison warden when she began writing her first novel, Ruby's Spoon (published by Spiegel & Grau on February 16, 2010).

On your nightstand now:

I've just started Neel Mukherjee's beautiful debut novel, A Life Apart. It's delicate, compelling and already breaking my heart. I'm really enjoying Sarah Bakewell's How to Live: A Life of Montaigne in One Question and Twenty Attempts at an Answer. Jackie Kay's short story collection, Wish I Was Here--I'm trying to ration myself but I can't seem to read just one story. They're fresh and funny and full of compassion, and I have to gobble down five in a row. I'm reading Jim Crace's The Gift of Stones really, really slowly. It's more like poetry than prose. It's extremely evocative, totally compelling and I want to make it last as long as I can.
 
Favorite book when you were a child:

My absolute favorite was Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh. I adored Harriet with all her bravery and tactless incompetence. I carried a spiralbound notebook round with me for a while and crouched down by parked cars trying to spot Interesting Things, but I never developed a spy route, or dressed up as an onion in a pageant.

Your top five authors:

I have lots of top threes. Top three repeatedly read: Sara Paretsky, for the V.I. Warshawski novels; Cynthia Voigt, for Homecoming; Margaret Mahy, for The Changeover. Top three late-20th-century dazzling prose writers: Michael Ondaatje (for In the Skin of a Lion), Annie Proulx (for The Shipping News), Anne Michaels (for Fugitive Pieces). Top three writers of compelling tales: Sarah Waters, C.J. Sansom, Barbara Kingsolver (for The Poisonwood Bible in particular).

Book you've faked reading:

I'd only read half of Middlemarch when I had to write an essay on George Eliot for my tutor in my first term at Oxford. This wasn't wise, because I had one-to-one tutorials: we had to read our essays out loud and then go into intellectual combat with the tutor. To my relief, he liked the essay and complimented me for not retelling the story. I've felt shifty about it ever since.
 
Book you're an evangelist for:

Holes by Louis Sachar. It's perfectly formed and it makes me feel good.
 
Book you've bought for the cover:

The Neverending Story by Michael Ende, when I was 16. It was a beautiful hardback with an elaborate jacket like medieval tapestry. The font inside was set in green or red, depending on whether Balthazar Bux was reading "The Neverending Story" or had become absorbed into the story within the narrative. I bought it for £2 from a tiny second-hand bookshop in my hometown. I still treasure it.

Book that changed your life:

The Yonderley Boy by Brian Morse. He was my class teacher around the time his first children's book was published. I was eight, and I loved that year: we did creative writing every day and he wrote juicy new words up on the blackboard for us to incorporate into our writing. The book itself was set in the Clent Hills very near where we lived, and it changed my life because it made me realize that writers were real people and that this might just be something I could aspire to do when I grew up.

Favorite line from a book:

Current favourite: "They were a gloomy suite of rooms, in a lowering pile of building up a yard, where it had so little business to be, that one could scarcely help fancying it must have run there when it was a young house, playing at hide-and-seek with other houses, and forgotten the way out again." --A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens.

Book you most want to read again for the first time:

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
by C.S. Lewis, not because of the story itself, but because of the way it made me feel. I got it from the school library when I was eight, in a paperback with Pauline Baynes's delicate illustration on the front cover. The opening pages, when Lucy and Eustace get drawn into Narnia through the picture of a ship at sea, made me breathless. I was astonished. I felt as if I'd been pulled into the sea, too, and I hadn't known books could do that. I've read it a couple of times since but I get tripped up by the conservative commentary in the text and I know I can never be surprised by the story again.

 



Deeper Understanding

Robert Gray: Launching Flyleaf Books, Part 2

In last week's column, Jamie Fiocco shared some of her early impressions as co-owner of three-month-old Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill, N.C. This time we'll hear from her partners in business and bookselling, Sarah Carr and Land Arnold.

Describing her experience since the bookshop's November opening, Sarah asked, "Can I say roller coaster? It has certainly had its highs and lows. Opening, the holiday rush, our grand opening event, were all fantastically exciting and invigorating. Temper that with occasional bouts of terror. I've been a small business owner previously, so I am not surprised at the amount of time and energy it takes to tackle the 'business' end of things, i.e., accounting, but thanks to Jamie all of that is going smoothly."

The word community gets a lot of attention in the bookselling world, and all three owners embrace the concept enthusiastically.

"I cannot say enough about the community support we've received," Sarah noted. "Customers have literally grabbed my hand to thank us for opening an independent bookstore. What this really says to me is that independent bookstores can really be considered to be part of a good civic infrastructure, just as libraries are. Local media were also very instrumental in spreading the early word and have continued to do stories on us. Industry support has been strong. Our sales reps were key to our opening on time with the stock we needed."

Land added that "word-of-mouth has been our best advertising--from friends and family, of course, but also from book lovers in the community. Friends tell friends, neighbors tell neighbors--a local hair stylist wanted some bookmarks to let some of her clients know about us. Social networking exists outside of the internet."

Under the category of "best laid plans," I asked whether the size of certain category sections in the bookshop had to be adjusted as they transitioned from the conception stage to the daily reality of customer demands.
 
"After placing our initial orders, I was a little worried that I focused too much on the kind of books I like," Land observed, "too much literary fiction, too many books in translation, too many cool covers. But they’ve been selling, those midlist authors on their fifth book who have never got a sniff at the bestseller list, but deserve to be read. But that’s our niche, giving Padgett Powell as much or more shelf space as Stephen King."

There were "no huge surprises, but still pleasant ones," Jamie added, "big demand for poetry, Spanish-language literature, cooking (this section was already big), eastern philosophy and used books in general."
 
As children's department buyer, Sarah hasn't made any section adjustments yet, since "it's playing out pretty much as I expected, but with a bump in interest in bilingual books and perhaps less of a YA audience than I had hoped for."

Appropriately enough, the books lining Flyleaf's shelves were cited by Sarah as her most pleasant surprise thus far: "From my viewpoint, I am extremely proud of our inventory selection. All three of us literally hand-picked almost everything in the store and we really never were caught short or lacking in too much. I was very pleased to have most of what our customers were looking for and have gotten very positive feedback on what a great selection we have."

Land gave high marks to "our patient and knowledgeable staff, especially our first two hires, Anna and Mike. It’s hard to open a store; it must be excruciating to watch it happen. They aren’t yet seasoned booksellers, but they are eager, intelligent and personable and know about a lot of things I don’t. What more can you ask?"

Having attended ABA's Winter Institute earlier in the month for the first time as an owner, he recalled that the "biggest difference was that this time I looked around at all the veteran bookstore owners and asked myself a few questions: How do I get our store as iconic as theirs? Is it still possible? What innovative ways are they facing the future? What am I bringing to the table?"

In summing up Flyleaf's brief history, Land's personal reaction may be representative of his colleagues' impressions as well: "I’m pretty dense at times, so it takes some time for reality to impress upon me. It happened in stages. When I first saw our cash wrap half-finished in a wood shop nearby, my heart leapt. When our logo was finalized, my heart leapt again. After the carpet and paint and bookshelves were installed, I had another moment. But not until a late night after one of our first days, when I walked through the dark store, with some books finally on the shelves, did all the elements come together to make me realize what I had had a part in creating."--Robert Gray (column archives available at Fresh Eyes Now)

 


The Bestsellers

Unrequired Reading: College Campus Bestsellers

January's top 10 bestsellers, as reported by college bookstores to the Chronicle of Higher Education:

  1. The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
  2. Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner
  3. Nightlight: A Parody by the staff of the Harvard Lampoon
  4. The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown
  5. Are You There, Vodka? It's Me, Chelsea by Chelsea Handler
  6. Food Rules: An Eater's Manual by Michael Pollan
  7. Dear John by Nicholas Sparks
  8. Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer
  9. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith
  10. Game Change: Obama and the Clintons, McCain and Palin, and the Race of a Lifetime by John Heilemann and Mark Halperin

 


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