Shelf Awareness for Thursday, August 12, 2010
Quotation of the Day
Hamill on His New E-Book: 'Will There Be a Book Signing?'
"It's all personal taste. For me reading a book is what I like doing, curled up in a corner in a comfortable chair. But I don't have any moral superiority. I don't care, as long as people are reading.... Some things have occurred to me. Will there be a book signing?"
B&N Update: Burkle Settlement 'Close'; Mr. N.Y. & Mr. Hollywood
Barnes & Noble "is close to a deal" with Ron Burkle's Yucaipa Companies regarding "a potential settlement that would avoid a protracted fight over the board at the bookseller," the New York Times reported, citing anonymous sources and noting that included in the terms under discussion is an expansion of B&N's "nine-member board by up to three additional directors chosen by Mr. Burkle.... One of these directors would be Stephen Bollenbach, the former chief executive of Hilton Hotels, who would join the board committee overseeing the company's sale process."
Under the proposed deal, Burkle "would agree not to start a proxy fight," withdraw his lawsuit against B&N and "support the company's candidates for directors for this year and next. At some point, one of the incumbent directors would decline to stand for re-election, meaning that Barnes & Noble's board ultimately would have 11 members," according to the Times, which added that B&N "would also pay some of Yucaipa's legal fees." The settlement would not necessarily prohibit Yucaipa from making a bid for B&N.
Positing the theory that Len Riggio is Mr. New York and Ron Burkle is Mr. Hollywood, the New York Observer asked: "What could Mr. Burkle do better than Mr. Riggio and the current B&N crew? Mr. Riggio claimed Mr. Burkle wanted to combine the company with Borders, its struggling rival, but Mr. Burkle denies this. A smarter move might be to sell the company to Amazon, or at least do a deal where Amazon (Jeff Bezos and antitrust watchdogs permitting) takes over its fast-growing but loss-making BN.com. This would be similar to the deal Microsoft struck to take over Internet search for Yahoo, where Mr. Burkle recently left the board of directors. But it would undoubtedly be anathema to Mr. Riggio, digital being the future and all."
The Observer also noted, "In some ways, Mr. Riggio reminds me of Martha Stewart-hard-driving and self-serving, to be sure, but also someone who has built something distinctive and tangible and culture-shaping. If a Left Coast moneyman like Mr. Burkle wants to write the next chapter for Mr. Riggio's creation, he is going to have to pay up for it."
BusinessInsider.com offered words of caution for "Amazon Bulls" who might feel vindicated by B&N's struggles: "But what Amazon bulls should remember is that Amazon sells physical books, too--boatloads of them. It also sells physical CDs, DVDs, and video games. So if that third trend is real and physical media like books are toast, Amazon is going to take a major hit in the next few years."
The bottom line for BusinessInsider.com? "Although Amazon is much better positioned than Barnes & Noble to survive the demise of physical books, music, and video, it's still massively exposed. In fact, the move away from physical media is likely the single biggest risk factor for both the company and the stock."
Retail property owners are concerned they might be "in for another round of big-box closures" as B&N considers its "strategic alternatives." Retail Traffic reported that industry insiders are wondering if B&N "might have to slim down its base of 1,300 stores as a result of the changing book market. The consensus is that while the retailer will likely tweak its portfolio, it is unlikely to undertake massive store closings."
"The book business is challenging, but of the [players] out there, Barnes & Noble is probably the best positioned," said Ivan L. Friedman, president and CEO of RCS Real Estate Advisors. "I think there could be selective closings for both Barnes & Noble and Borders, but nothing like what happened with Circuit City and Linens 'n Things."
"I do think it makes sense to shrink the [store] fleet," added Craig Johnson, president of Customer Growth Partners. "But there is always going to be a role and a place for bookstores. Nobody particularly enjoyed having a proper CD, whereas there is a value in having a physical book. Some people simply prefer them."
Change is in the air. "As E-Books Gain, Barnes & Noble Tries to Stay Ahead" was the headline for a recent New York Times article that observed: "At the expansive Barnes & Noble store in Manhattan's Union Square, the changes sweeping the company and the industry are on full display. Shelves have been stripped bare to make room for toys and games, as a sign dangling from the ceiling cheerfully announces."
Notes: Changes for S&S; Layoffs at Borders Headquarters
GalleyCat added that under the new structure--which takes effect in 2011--Karp indicated that teams consisting of two editors, two publicists, and one marketing specialist will "propose, develop, and execute their own publicity and marketing plans, from the moment of acquisition through paperback publication."
Borders Group laid off more employees at its Ann Arbor, Mich., headquarters. AnnArbor.com reported that Borders "declined to specify the number of 'job eliminations' at the company's Phoenix Drive corporate headquarters, which had 650 workers before the cuts." Earlier this year, Borders laid off 88 headquarters employees (Shelf Awareness, January 29, 2010).
In a statement, Borders said, "As we aggressively work to restore the financial health of the company, we have reorganized core areas of our business to ensure that we have the necessary resources in place to support our strategic initiatives. As part of this process, we have made changes to our staffing levels so that the right people are in the right positions and that those positions are aligned with our strategic objectives."
Jonathan Franzen is the first living American novelist since Stephen King a decade ago to grace the cover of Time magazine. The New York Times Paper Cuts blog reported that Lev Grossman's profile of the author is in this week's issue, which hits newsstands Friday. Franzen's novel Freedom will be released August 31.
Redgroup Retail, parent of the Borders and Angus & Robertson chains in Australia and a company that accounts for more than a quarter of Australia's $1.5 billion (US$1.35 billion) book industry, "is mired in debt and slashing its range, leaving publishers anxious about the industry’s health," according to Crikey, which reported that Redgroup "has been forced to jack up prices, increase returns and extend trading terms with its suppliers, according to industry sources. The company told the New Zealand Stock Exchange in July it was likely to breach two of its banking covenants at the end of the month, with debts believed to be in the order of $50-75 million."
The Regulator Bookshop, Durham, N.C., featured "Five Things Jeff Bezos Doesn't Want You to Know About the Kindle" on its blog:
- You read slower on a Kindle.
- You almost certainly read stupider on a Kindle.
- The Kindle flunked out of Princeton.
- Amazon can play Big Brother with your books.
- Governments can play Big Brother with your books.
Regulator also has a great new video on the pleasures of reading when it's too hot to move.
Five must be the magic number this week. ReadWriteWeb suggested Five Ways That E-Books Are Better Than Paper Books:
- Social Highlighting
- Look-up of words
- Ability to Tweet & Facebook quotes
Giving equal time to the loyal opposition, ReadWriteWeb followed up a day later with Five Ways That Paper Books Are Better Than eBooks:
- Second-hand books
Talking with people who run small businesses along the Pacific coast, the Detroit Free Press asked how they're surviving tough economic times. Glenna Martin, owner of Periwinkle Station bookstore, Florence, Ore., said, "Survival depends, first, on location. I've got a perfect spot here on the main street. And, second, you've got to know your customers and what they want."
McSweeney's crack team of engineers recently "analyzed the most popular e-readers on the market in order to confer our annual 'Editor's Choice' Award" and, after considering a number of factors, concluded that "one e-reader stood out"--the newspaper.
Fairmont Gold hotel guests in the U.S. and Canada will have access to Kobo eReaders, featuring a library of Random House books. Upon returning the Kobo eReader, guests will receive a special offer for $2 off select Random House titles redeemable at kobobooks.com/randomhouse. The opportunity to use a Kobo eReader is a benefit of Fairmont President’s Club, the company's guest loyalty program.
"Travelers are a great fit for the Kobo offering and a group that is eager to engage in eReading," said Michael Serbinis, CEO of Kobo. "We know that travelers do not want to carry heavy books in their luggage, and vacations provide the perfect time to relax and catch up on reading. This partnership allows Kobo to expand our reach and offer our service to an important segment of our customer base."
While recommending three recently published books about the silent film era--Rudolph Valentino, The Silent Idol: His Life in Photographs by Donna L. Hill, The Sea Gull: The Chaplin Studio's Lost Film Starring Edna Purviance by Linda Wada and a new edition of the original English-language translation of The Diary of a Lost Girl by Margarete Böhme--on his Movie Crazy blog, critic Leonard Maltin also put in a plug for self-publishing:
"I sometimes decry the decline of professionalism in various disciplines--including publishing--but I can't think of a better argument for breaking down the barriers of traditional publishing than these three exceptional books, which I doubt any commercial house would have taken on. They may be labors of love but they also convey a commitment to both scholarship and the esthetics of the printed page.
The Diary of a Lost Girl was published by former longtime Booksmith (San Francisco) bookseller Thomas Gladysz, the director of the Louise Brooks Society. Gladysz also wrote the book's introduction.
Book trailer of the day: Everything I Know About Marketing I Learned from Google by Aaron Goldman (McGraw-Hill), which will be published August 30.
Effective August 31, Lucy Del Priore joins Macmillan Children's Publishing Group as director of school and library marketing for FSG Books for Young Readers, Feiwel and Friends, First Second, Henry Holt Books for Young Readers, Priddy Books, Roaring Brook Press and Square Fish.
Del Priore was director of school and library marketing at Penguin Young Readers Group for most of her career; she spent the past three years as a publishing consultant and freelancer. She has conducted research and worked on a variety of projects for companies including Random House, Little, Brown and Simon & Schuster, as well as with institutional wholesalers.
Jim Dana Leaving GLiBA for Peace Corps
Jim Dana, the first and thus far only executive director of the Great Lakes Independent Booksellers Association, will retire following this year's GLiBA Fall Trade Show, October 8 to 10. Realizing a longtime dream, Dana plans to serve as a Peace Corps education volunteer in Lesotho, which is surrounded by South Africa. He is scheduled to begin his new adventure November 2.
In an open letter to GLiBA members, Dana called his decision "a bittersweet circumstance for me. On the one hand, I'm excited about the new phase of life--an adventure, really--that I'm about to embark on. On the other, GLiBA and bookselling have been a huge part of my life. It's been full of great experiences and wonderful friends. I'll be sad to be leaving it behind."
The GLiBA executive director job opening has been posted to the association's website and is being circulated to the trade.
Last month, Susan Walker, executive director of the Midwest Booksellers Association, announced her retirement at the end of the year (Shelf Awareness, July 11, 2010). Coincidentally, Russ Lawrence--a former president of the American Booksellers Association--sold his share of Chapter One Book Store, Hamilton, Mont., last year to join the Peace Corps and work in Peru (Shelf Awareness, May 8, 2009).
Image of the Day: Beach Readers
Media and Movies
This Weekend on Book TV: The Icarus Syndrome
Book TV airs on C-Span 2 from 8 a.m. Saturday to 8 a.m. Monday and focuses on political and historical books as well as the book industry. The following are highlights for this coming weekend. For more information, go to Book TV's website.
Saturday, August 14
8:45 a.m. For an event hosted by Politics & Prose Bookstore, Washington, D.C., David Howard, author of Lost Rights: The Misadventures of a Stolen American Relic (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $26, 9780618826070/0618826076), follows the travels of one of the original fourteen copies of the Bill of Rights (Re-airs Saturday at 5 p.m. and Monday at 2:30 a.m.)
11:45 a.m. Rosemary Gibson talks about her book The Treatment Trap: How the Overuse of Medical Care Is Wrecking Your Health and What You Can Do About It (Ivan R. Dee, $24.95, 9781566638425/1566638429). (Re-airs Sunday at 6:15 p.m.)
8 p.m. For an event hosted by Harvard Book Store, Cambridge, Mass., Victor McElheny, author of Drawing the Map of Life: Inside the Human Genome Project (Basic Books, $28, 9780465043330/046504333X), looks at the history and impact of the Human Genome Project, which began 20 years ago. (Re-airs Sunday at 7 a.m. and Monday at 4 a.m.)
9 p.m. Claude Steele, author of Whistling Vivaldi: And Other Clues to How Stereotypes Affect Us (Norton, $25.95, 9780393062496/039306249X), presents his study of the effects of stereotypes on learning and testing and the state of education in the U.S. (Re-airs Sunday at 11 a.m. and Monday at 5 a.m.)
10 p.m. After Words. The Politico's Mike Allen interviews Peter Beinart, author of The Icarus Syndrome: A History of American Hubris (Harper, $27.99, 9780061456466/0061456462). Beinart discusses how each American generation's perception of war is shaped by the times in which they came of age. (Re-airs Sunday at 9 p.m., and Monday at 12 a.m. and 3 a.m., and Sunday, August 22, at 12 p.m.)
Sunday, August 15
8:45 a.m. "A New Cold War: Inside Nuclear Iran," a panel discussion with Reza Kahlili, author of A Time to Betray: The Astonishing Double Life of a CIA Agent Inside the Revolutionary Guards of Iran (Threshold Editions, $26, 9781439189030/143918903X); Michael Ledeen, author of Accomplice to Evil: Iran and the War against the West (Truman Talley Books, $24.99, 9780312570699/0312570694); and Melissa Boyle Mahle, author of Denial and Deception: An Insider’s View of the CIA (Nation Books, $15.95, 1560258276). (Re-airs Sunday at 7:30 p.m.)
Frances McDormand Books Big & Small Screens
Although better known as an award-winning actress, Frances McDormand is also having success as a producer. Deadline.com reported that McDormand "has set at HBO a potential series adaptation of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Elizabeth Strout novel Olive Kitteridge. Separately, she has attached Diane Lane to star in a Nicole Holofcener-scripted feature adaptation of Laura Lippman's crime novel Every Secret Thing."
While she will play the title character in Olive Kitteridge "if the pilot script Jane Anderson's writing becomes an HBO series, McDormand doesn't plan to appear on camera in Every Secret Thing," according to Deadline.com, which also noted that McDormand optioned the novel before it won the Pulitzer last year, and Anderson "is weaving Strout's storylines into a drama that has enough characters to allow McDormand to play the title role but still have time for her other acting obligations. Her acting deal's being worked out but she will be exec producer. Strout will be a consulting producer."
Movies: Au Revoir, Crazy European Chick
Paramount Pictures acquired film rights to Joe Schreiber's Au Revoir, Crazy European Chick, a novel "that sold last Friday to Houghton Mifflin Harcourt as a young adult title in a two-book deal," Deadline.com reported, adding that "this is a big break for the author, whose past novels and spec scripts were in the horror genre."
Books & Authors
The Chicago Manual of Style: Sweet Sixteen
How in heaven's name does one attempt to review the brand-new 16th edition of The Chicago Manual of Style (University of Chicago Press, Aug. 1, 2010)? Compare "the 3-em dash for an institutional name" from (or between?) the 15th and 16th editions? Or just browse, as one sometimes does in a dictionary: "SI units--form (10.55)"; "Greek word division--consecutive vowels (11.138)"; "serial commas (6.18)." Even Stephen Colbert cares about this stuff--as he said recently on the Colbert Report (titles of television programs: 8.185), he believes in the serial comma, as does the CMOS. (We got lost there trying to figure out where the parentheses [6.92] go in relation to the section numbers in relation to section names.)
Fortunately, Ellen Gibson, marketing manager, reference and regional, helped us make sense of the new 16th edition. She said, "The most interesting aspect of the growing sales and presence of The Chicago Manual of Style in the marketplace is that in this time of supposedly diminishing interest in careful punctuation and writing, we continue to sell tens of thousands of copies of the Manual each year, and our total sales of the 15th edition were near a quarter million copies. (We also have thousands of subscribers to our online edition of the Manual, which launched three years ago.)" Even more--CMOS has a Facebook page and a Twitter account (@ChicagoManual).
Gibson also cited Carol Saller's blog, The Subversive Copyeditor. Saller is the mind behind the Chicago Style Q&A (which has more than 30,000 subscribers). Her blog offers information on new rules and retired rules for the new edition, as well as an extended interview with the principal reviser, Russell Harper. Some excerpts:
Saller: So, Russell, tell me: when you were asked to revise CMOS for the 16th edition, did you have any fears or reservations, and if so, what were they, and did you get over them?
Harper: Well yes. My first fear was for my family. I knew the Manual well, and I knew what a revision would mean. (They survived.) Next, I worried for my safety. My third-floor office at the time—in the attic of a hundred-year-old house in Ithaca, New York—trembled and swayed whenever a city bus or fire truck passed by (about every twenty minutes). So I resolved to make daily backups of every stage of the manuscript to a variety of off-site servers, leaving passwords and instructions with a close and highly literate family member across the Atlantic.
Saller: One of the most interesting and satisfying aspects of the revision process was the way in which [issues were] broached and settled in passionate but civilized group e-mailings. Looking at my archive, I can see messages titled "I'm probably hallucinating," "Prissy distinctions," "Tearing my hair o'er Gruyère," and on one day, fifteen messages between you and [members of the copyediting team] with the subject heading "Consistency issue with (not) examples."
But I'm getting ahead of myself. I seem to recall that when you finished the first draft of the revision, you sent it to everyone on the CMOS Board of Advisors as well as the in-house team, who individually marked it up and sent it back to you. Somehow you read and responded to two dozen versions of the thing, all with no doubt conflicting suggestions.
Harper: And don't forget that you and the rest of the in-house team and the board reviewed and commented on my detailed proposal, well before any work started on the revision....There was a lot of animated debate (one editor said to me in the nicest way possible that she'd had the urge to slap me--something involving titles by Raymond Carver and the Beatles).
On her blog, Carol also features the major changes in CMOS. Here are three of the biggest (besides the familiar cover color):
1. The Manual's chapters were overdue for reorganization, so now there are three parts. Part I deals with publishing processes (manuscript prep, editing, proofing, figures and tables, permissions); part II with style and usage (punctuation, spelling, numbers, abbreviations, grammar); and part III with documentation (notes, bibliographies, indexing).
2. The original paragraph titles were not written with computer searching in mind; now, each is titled specifically--e.g., "Portuguese capitalization." Many paragraph titles were rewritten to be more helpful. Saller said that such subtle changes might not be noticed by reviewers, but regular users will note that it's easier to find things now.
3. CMOS 16 brings author-date documentation style into stylistic line with notes-bibliography style. In a 140-character Twitter challenge, she explained it this way: Spell out author names; headline-case titles; italicize book titles; put article titles in quotation marks.
If you work with words or love language, The Chicago Manual of Style is one book you definitely need on your shelf. (When does one use US as opposed to U.S.? How do you alphabetize Spanish and Japanese names?--the bane of bookstores). But, really, in addition to its usefulness, it just looks so cool and authoritative on a bookshelf. Instant gravitas (7.49).--Marilyn Dahl
Book Review: The Violin of Auschwitz
The Violin of Auschwitz by Maria Angels Anglada (Bantam, $20.00 Hardcover, 9780553807783, August 2010)
Though slim enough to qualify as a novella, Maria Àngels Anglada's The Violin of Auschwitz carries all the weight and power of a novel four times its size. Originally written in the author's native Catalan, this book has sold more than 100,000 copies in that language alone and with this English version, has been translated into two dozen others--a testament to the notion that less can often be a great deal more.
The story begins with Climent, a violinist in a well-known trio, who is performing with an orchestra in Krakow. Climent is struck by the beautiful sound produced by Regina, the orchestra's first violinist, and asks her about the provenance of her instrument, which she provides him via a sheaf of documents (both real and fictional). The novel then switches to the point of view of Daniel, a luthier (violin maker) imprisoned at Auschwitz in 1942. Though known only as a carpenter, Daniel attracts the attention of the Commander when he attempts to stop the beating of Bronislaw, a fellow prisoner and violinist who is not playing to the Commander's satisfaction. Daniel points out that the violin is cracked and needs to be repaired. Soon after, Daniel is ordered to create a violin for the Commander that will equal a Stradivarius in quality. If he manages to make such an instrument, Daniel's life (and Bronislaw's) may be spared a little longer. If not, he will be delivered to Rascher, the "doctor" conducting inhuman experiments on prisoners and with whom the Commander has made a devilish bet.
Daniel works on the violin every day, fighting debilitating hunger and crushing, constant fear. He is sustained by memories of his mother's cooking, scraps of information about loved ones who still survive (including his Aryan-in-appearance niece, Regina), and the transformative joy of creating the violin itself. When at last he finishes, Daniel has no idea whether or not his instrument will pass the test or win him his life.
Anglada provides just enough details of life in Auschwitz to create a thrumming sense of horror, but also manages to balance these extremely effectively with careful and beautifully rendered descriptions of Daniel's work, which, in turn, reflect the possibility of hope and beauty within so much darkness. The novel (based on a true story) is as well-crafted as Daniel's violin turns out to be, and lingers in the imagination long after the last page is turned.--Debra Ginsberg
Shelf Talker: A beautifully crafted and deeply moving novel of a violin maker imprisoned in Auschwitz whose life depends on creating a perfect instrument.