Shelf Awareness for Thursday, April 1, 2010


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

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

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers: Malala's Magic Pencil by Malala Yousafzai, illustrated by Kerascoet

Katherine Tegen Books: The Truth as Told by Mason Buttle by Leslie Connor

Canterbury Classics: Compact Novel Journals

Katherine Tegen Books: Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson

News

Brave New Book World: Adapting to the Coup d'Etat

Political and economic systems may come and go, but the book world has always shown a remarkable ability to adapt to change. The past two weeks, following passage of the health-care bill, are no exception.

"Everyone sees a myriad of opportunity," said one publisher who wished to remain anonymous. "Already houses have dropped inappropriate titles from this year's lists and signed up--often in multibook deals--exciting, previously overlooked authors, including Bill Ayers, Raul Castro, Dennis Kucinich, Idi Amin, Father Coughlin, Robert Mugabe, George Lincoln Rockwell, to name just a few. We're going to be learning a lot from the best minds of our new Nazi-Communist-socialist-African-atheist-Islamist regime."

Among changes in the landscape:

Post-apocalyptic fiction, which had gained dramatically in popularity the last few years, has been renamed "current events."

Led by media czar Bill Clinton, the national certification program for all authors and book reviewers has proceeded quickly and led to the wholesale changes, including the replacement of New York Times lead reviewer Michiko Kakutani by Chelsea Clinton, who, her dad said, is "a quick study" and should grow into the role nicely.

The newly opened New York branch of North Korea's Foreign Languages Publishing House and its ambitious debut list have already led the Big Six to become the Big Seven.

The Collected Works of President-for-Life Obama
will begin appearing with the fall season. The initial volume covers the first decade of his life and includes notes to his mother, letters to relatives and homework assignments. "We're so excited," said editor Sonny Mehta. "Even in Dearest Leader's earliest writings, we can see the seeds of Great Obamaism." Obama will also be co-author with Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Gauleiter Harry Reid of The Mod Squad: Yes, We Can and Yes, We Did! The trio will tour with Vice-Regent Joe Biden, whose new work is called A Big F**king Book, which he inadvertently wrote last week.

Random House and Macmillan, both of which are owned by German media companies, expressed approval about the changes. Markus Dohle of Bertelsmann, whose accent seems to have thickened in recent weeks, said, "Our company thrived during a similar historical period in the 20th century, and I anticipate repeated success in this era. There is, I believe, something in our superior genes responsible for this."

"I haven't checked yet, but my masters at Holtzbrinck must know a lot about this kind of thing," said Macmillan's John Sargent. He noted that Holtzbrinck's U.S. operations, which took the Macmillan name in 2007, are changing again, this time to von Holtzbrinck Gruppe, effective immediately.

La Martinière Groupe's Little, Brown and Grand Central publishing units have been annexed by Bertelsmann and Holtzbrinck and will be divided between them.

American Booksellers Association general secretary Oren Teicher confirmed rumors that the association has renamed its marketing program DependentBound and is working to create a national bookseller syndicate that will encompass all the previous competing components of book retailing. "Since the events of two weeks ago, we at the ABA have heeded the call by Dearest Leader to work together and avoid factionalism in thought and deed," Teicher said.

Teicher added that the changes have been well-received by many booksellers, who have noted, among other bits of good news, the many new holidays and occasions for gift-giving and tie-ins. For example, later this month, Hitler's Birthday, Lenin's Birthday and May Day will be celebrated during a 10-day period, following closely by Paternalism Day, the former Father's Day, and Birthing Unit Day, formerly Mother's Day.

Certain textbook publishers have already been sent to reeducation camps in Texas, where they are joining select school board members. Surviving textbook publishers have pointed to major opportunities, particularly for texts explaining the country's bright new reality as well as understanding the inherent flaws of such bygone concepts as the Constitution, elections and majority rule. They did, however, express concern after the Not So White House announced that Education and Indoctrination Minister Arne Duncan has begun importing school textbooks from Havana and Hanoi.

At least one publisher is not getting with the program. Regnery Publishing has renamed itself Armageddon Press, and Jed Lyons and other Regnery/NBN/Eagle Publishing staff members have gone underground. Armageddon's first title will be a primer of basic writings in response to the events of the past two months by leaders of the Republican Party, including Sarah Palin, John Boehner and Newt Gingrich, all of whom were granted political asylum in Myanmar last week. (Palin, whose titles have disappeared in the U.S., is planning a new book, this one about her new adopted country. "Gosh darn, we could have learned a few things from these guys in our day!" she said.)

Although sales may be difficult to achieve, Armageddon's business model is an interesting combination of old and new. Denied access to the traditional supply chain, Armageddon is setting up a network of operatives who will infiltrate the country and sell its books nonreturnable on a cash-only basis, "a new twist on guerrilla marketing," Lyons said in an encrypted e-mail.

 


Freeform: The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton


Apple Shines with iTie iNs

Seeking to build on the massive interest in its iPad, which goes on sale this Saturday, April 3, Apple is launching a wave of related digital and physical products. Created by the guys responsible for the iPad, the series of ancillary items will be rolled out monthly and includes:

The iDouche, cleaning accessories for the iPad.
The iCondom, a suite of protective covers, bags, holders and more for the iPad.
The iSuppository, an app for opening up slow data feeds.
The iSmell, an app designed to give public-domain e-books that distinctive used-book aroma that bibliophiles love.
The iDildo, for a change of pace.

 


Other Press: Bookselling Without Borders Scholarship


Borders' New Two-for-One Deal

Effective immediately, Borders Group has hired two new CEOs, who are replacing Michael J. Edwards. Edwards has served as interim CEO since January, when former CEO Ron Marshall left to head A&P. Marshall had been CEO since January 2009, when he replaced George Jones, who was CEO for two and a half years before that.

"It'll be easier to train two new CEOs at the same time rather than one after the other, as has been our experience," said Borders chairman Mick McGuire, who took his post in January 2009 and is a partner at hedge fund Pershing Square Capital Management, which has a controlling interest in Borders. "And we'll have two at work simultaneously until we have to make the inevitable changes."

The new CEOs are Dan Ackman and Ron Ackman, who are brothers. Dan Ackman formerly was a real estate agent with Ackman-Ziff Real Estate Group in New York City. Ron Ackman has held several positions with Pershing Square Capital Management, also in New York City.

"Despite their lack of experience in the grocery business, our new CEOs are well-suited to lead the company and make it the preeminent book-thing seller in the country," McGuire stated.

Bill Ackman, head of Pershing Square Capital Management, praised the choices, who are his brothers, saying that he has studied and envied archrival Barnes & Noble's longtime business model. "Until recently, B&N did very nicely," he noted. "But then a Wall Street finance guy with no knowledge or love of books and bookselling began meddling with the company, leading to questionable changes in management, all of which has created a unique opportunity for us."

Bill Ackman declined to comment on rumors that he had approached B&N vice chairman Steve Riggio about the Borders CEO position after Riggio resigned as B&N CEO.

In an exclusive interview with Shelf Awareness, Borders's new CEOs said that they were excited about their new positions.

Ron Ackman noted that there seemed to be a lot of opportunity in shopping centers, which currently have favorable rents and plenty of vacancies. "I remember there used to be lots of little bookstores at the mall," he said. "We might be able to do well there with scaled-down versions of our superstores."

For his part, Dan Ackman said the company would look into expansion abroad, particularly in English-speaking markets like the U.K., Australia and New Zealand, where the collapse of some book chains and consolidation among survivors has created gaps in the market.

 


Ingram Publisher Services: Celebrating the 45th Anniversary of Dundurn Press


Never-Ending Conference Becomes a Reality

A new conference focusing on industry issues begins next week in New York City. Called Online Viral and Electronic Retail Killer-Apps and International Literary Logrolling--for short, OVERKILL--the conference will run indefinitely.

Event director Steve Rosato, who said the idea came out of a BookExpo America brainstorming session late in the term of Lance Fensterman, indicated that the group will not meet on federal holidays and will break early on Fridays and weekends. "The rest of the time, however," he said, "we have a tight schedule because there's just no end to speculation about the future of books and publishing."

Although chiefly sponsored by Reed Exhibitions, the conference will run separately from BEA but work closely with the show.

Panel discussions include:

  • Social Media in the Next 60 Minutes: Predictions and Prognostications (held hourly).
  • Eternal Debate 1: E-Books vs. P-Books. (Will fill empty slots as needed.)
  • Vook, Nook, Kobo, Kindle: Can't Anyone Come up with a Decent Digital Book Name?
  • Eternal Debate 2: Can Consumers Be Made Aware of Publishing Imprints? (Will fill empty slots as needed.)
  • Standards Hell: ONIX, DRM, BISAC, DNR, ANSI/NISO, GTIN-14, WTF, ETC.
  • Eternal Debate 3: How Much Are Book Standards Slipping? (Will fill empty slots as needed.)
  • Less Than Zero: Evolution of the Publishers Sales Force
  • Eternal Debate 4: The Next Revolutionary E-Thing
  • Blogging/Twitter/Facebook 101: What!? You're Not Chronicling Every Moment of Your Day for the Rest of the World Yet!?


Regular keynote speakers include Bob Stein of the Voyager Company, author Seth Godin, Mike Shatzkin of the Idea Logical Company, Peter Brantley of the Internet Archive, Dominique Raccah of Sourcebooks and Michael Cader of Publishers Lunch. Shelf Awareness's own John Mutter has agreed to dust off a speech about CD-ROMs given in London in 1995 to deliver again but with all CD-ROM references replaced by references to the web and e-books. As time goes by, organizers indicated that just about anyone who's ever held a book or turned on a computer will be invited to speak about their experiences.

"We had, of course, planned to cut BEA down to two days of trade show and one day of education this year," Rosato said. "But late last year as we began preliminary discussion about the show, we found we had even more potential programming than ever, and Lance said, 'What the hey, guys! Let's extend the three days of BEA magic to the whole year!' And the rest, as they say, is future history."

OVERKILL is seeking to partner with other shows, fairs, conferences and meetings to create "a seamless web of web discussion," as Rosato put it. Among possible partners: Digital Book World; O'Reilly's Tools of Change Conference; BISG's Making Information Pay; the AAP Annual Meeting; December sales conferences; Carl Lennertz's lunch dates; outdoor smoking sessions with Ruth Liebmann. "We aim to be a kind of umbrella or tent to accommodate all prognostications, observations, wacky and snarky comments and more," Rosato said.

Organizers are working closely with media, including Shelf Awareness, Publishers Lunch, GalleyCat, Publishing Perspectives and Publishers Annual (the former PW). In addition, conference organizers are seeking to involve book bloggers, book tweeters, book-related listservs and anyone sending text messages and e-mail using the phrases "digital," "going forward" and "only time will tell."

OVERKILL will be held in a variety of venues in New York City, in what Rosato called "a kind of moveable feast." Sites include the Random House lunch room and conference rooms, the McGraw-Hill auditorium, the Javits Center, the New School and a range of bars. In warm weather, OVERKILL may meet al fresco in parks or, depending on attendance levels, on street corners.

Attendees will be able to sign up under several plans, including three-day, weekly and monthly tickets. For $999, attendees can purchase a ticket for life.

As social media becomes more popular, the long-term plan for OVERKILL is to become an event at which panelists will tweet their remarks to the audience instead of speaking them.


Disney-Hyperion: Unearthed by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner


Amazon Opens Northern Front

Following yesterday's decision by Canadian Heritage not to approve Amazon.com's request to open a warehouse in Canada, the e-tailer has apparently taken a series of drastic steps in retaliation. The company made no announcements; an alert Canadian was the first to note several anomalies and tweeted about them. Others investigated and noticed other aspects of the new approach. Among the points discovered so far:

Amazon is referring to Canada only as "the monopolist entity north of us."

Amazon is no longer shipping to customers in the monopolist entity north of us.

Amazon is no longer selling titles about or by authors from the monopolist entity north of us.

At the same time, Amazon has released the first book in its new publishing program--Best o' Bezos--entitled We Expected More from That Poophead Brian Harper. (The book, available for $9.99 via Kindle, already has a string of five-star reviews praising the e-tome's price.)

In the only semi-official company comment, on his blog, a member of the Amazon mail room said Amazon regretted being forced to take the actions and hoped that Canadians will quickly reconsider and submit to its will.

In a related note, Amazon has unveiled several new features in response to the turmoil caused earlier this year by some publishers' adoption of an agency plan for selling e-books. Key among the changes: all book titles listed on Amazon will have "bye" buttons next to the "buy" buttons, only one of which can be activated at a time.


Shelf Awareness Sign-up Giveaway: Lilac Lane by Sheryl Woods


Book Review

Children's Review: Rick Riordan'sThe Red Pyramid: The Kane Chronicles, Book One

The Kane Chronicles, The, Book One: Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan (Hyperion Books, $17.99 Hardcover, 9781423113386, May 2010)



This is no April Fools' joke: Rick Riordan will launch a new middle-grade series on May 4. For anyone who was afraid he couldn't top his Percy Jackson series or his initial title in the 39 Clues, fear no more. Riordan mined Greek myths for the lineage of his campers at Half-Blood. Now he drills into the depths of Egyptian history and lore for the page-turning Kane Chronicles. Fourteen-year-old Carter Kane (named for Howard Carter, who discovered King Tut's tomb) alternates his first-person narrative with that of his 12-year-old sister, Sadie. The novel begins with a warning that the book itself is a "transcript of a digital recording," and, Carter adds, "the story we're about to tell you isn't complete yet. How it ends will depend on you." The situation is a bit complicated: after the mysterious death of their anthropologist mother (next to Cleopatra's Needle in London) and a "big court battle," their father, "an Egyptologist," won custody of Carter, and Sadie went to live with their maternal grandparents, the Fausts. The book starts with a bang--literally. On Christmas Eve, Dr. Kane picks up his daughter in London, and takes his two children to the British Museum, where he blows up the Rosetta Stone; the explosion unleashes five gods, one of whom entombs him. Naturally, the children want to rescue their father.

Their mission leads to the best kind of detective work: decoding hieroglyphics; breaking into their father's library, where they find clues to their family tree; and discovering that Sadie's cat, Muffin, is no feline at all (she's actually Bast, goddess of cats). And might the amulet given to each of the Kane children be a clue to the strange powers they're developing? Riordan has a field day, tying the children's lineage to "the Blood of the Pharaohs," and imparting Egyptian history as he weaves his spellbinding tale. Plenty of humor keeps things light, as in Sadie's contemplation of papyrus, made from a river plant: "The stuff was so thick and rough, it made me wonder if the poor Egyptians had had to use toilet papyrus. If so, no wonder they walked sideways." Riordan also explores more serious themes. Their father is African-American, their mother was blonde and blue-eyed. Carter takes after his dad, and Sadie looks like her mom, which presents some interesting opportunities for a discussion of what defines a family, and the insidiousness of prejudice ("Doesn't matter how open-minded or polite people think they are, there's always that moment of confusion that flashes across their faces when they realize Sadie is part of our family," Carter observes. "I hate it, but over the years, I've come to expect it"). Their father's release of the quintet of gods sets off a whole chain of events, including... could his own children be hosts to the gods? Readers will be clamoring for the next installment.--Jennifer M. Brown

 


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