Shelf Awareness for Thursday, January 6, 2011


Penguin Press: Astral Weeks: A Secret History of 1968 by Ryan H. Walsh

Scribner Book Company: The Wolves of Winter by Tyrell Johnson

St. Martin's Press: After Anna by Lisa Scottoline

Little Brown and Company: The Recovering: Intoxication and Its Aftermath by Leslie Jamison

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

Quotation of the Day

'Wandering Haphazardly Through a Great Bookstore'

"Nothing will ever replace the experience of wandering haphazardly through a great bookstore, no matter how many algorithms are developed to find matches for our tastes. That's because not only is there no accounting for taste, there is no predicting it either."

--Dominique Browning, author of Slow Love: How I Lost My Job, Put On My Pajamas & Found Happiness, on her blog Slow Love Life.

 


GLOW: Grove Atlantic: The Mercy Seat by Elizabeth H. Winthrop


News

Notes: B&N Stock Upgrade; 'Book Solutions' for Decorators

Even though the body isn't even near cold, Barnes & Noble is already benefiting from the struggles of Borders: yesterday Credit Suisse upgraded B&N shares to "neutral" from "underperform," saying that B&N could pick up about 18% of Borders's sales, or about $400 million, if Borders closes, Reuters reported.

Analyst Gary Balter said that about 70% of the companies' stores overlap.

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Amazon tech updates: Kindle is now available for Windows Phone 7, joining a list of compatible platforms that includes computer desktops, iPad, iPod Touch, iPhone, BlackBerry, Android-based devices and Amazon's own e-reader, PC Magazine reported. Amazon also announced it will develop Kindle apps for Android- and Windows-based LCD tablets.

TechCrunch examined Amazon's new application marketplace, which is expected to debut later this year, and the Amazon Appstore Developer Portal: "Amazon has launched the developer-facing part of the store, inviting devs to submit their applications so that they're ready when the app store is ready for its consumer debut later this year.... In some senses, this is the Android equivalent of Apple's App Store--even more so than Google's official Android Market."

The Wall Street Journal observed that the "move brings Amazon into direct competition with Google's own existing app store--but with what Amazon hopes will prove to be two important distinctions: recommendations and price."

"We've spent years developing an e-commerce platform that helps customers find products that are right for them from a massive selection," said Aaron Rubenson, Amazon's category leader for mobile services. "We are excited to bring those capabilities to mobile apps."

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U.K. music and books retailer HMV Group will close 20 Waterstone's bookshops and 40 HMV music branches during the next 12 months in response to declining sales. BBC News noted the company's Christmas sales "were down 10%, and it warned profits would be at the lower end of forecasts. HMV blamed bad weather and 'challenging trading conditions.' "

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At this week's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Sharp announced that its Galapagos tablet, currently being sold in Japan, will be introduced to the U.S. market during the second half of 2011. The Los Angeles Times reported "the tablets will connect to a Galapagos e-bookstore where consumers can buy books, magazines and newspapers as well as music, movies, TV shows and other apps.... The U.S. model will probably have a few features the Japanese model lacks."

"The U.S. market product will most likely have cameras on the front and the back, for video chats, photos, video, things like that," said Bob Scaglione, Sharp's chief marketing officer.

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The New York Times profiled Juniper Books owner Thatcher Wine, "a former Internet entrepreneur who now creates custom book collections and decorative 'book solutions,' as he puts it, in his Boulder, Colo., warehouse."

Wine's clients have specific ideas about biblio-décor: One "wanted literary classics mixed with art books for a silver-inflected art library. So Mr. Wine chose works by Kate Chopin, Jane Austen and Robert Browning and wrapped them in matte silver paper, to match the silver hardware in the room."

Another client "asked to wrap about 2,000 books in blank white paper, without titles, to provide a 'textural accent' to the space. He chose mass-market hardcovers that flood the used book outlets--titles by John Grisham and Danielle Steel, or biographies of Michael Jackson, he said--because they are cheap, clean and a nice, generous size."

The Times also took note of other players in the trade. Jenny McKibben, "who runs the book-by-the-foot business at the Strand (which now accounts for 5% of the store's sales, she said) takes mostly phone and Internet orders.... In the custom book business, you might call Mr. Wine a designer label and the Strand, ready-to-wear (prices there start at $10 a foot and range up to $400 for antique leather). The Maryland-based Wonder Book, then, with its 54,000-square-foot warehouse, represents the mass market. Chuck Roberts, its amiable owner, said he gets requests from developers, set designers, decorators needing 1,000 books for a holiday deadline, even wedding planners."

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Amazon temporarily removed Thomas Hertog's Kindle books--Wealth Hazards and The Day the Kindle Died--from its website in the wake of media coverage regarding the author's claim that he had successfully manipulated sales rankings for Wealth Hazards and hit "the number one bestseller spot in its category on Amazon simply by posting fake reviews, voting on them favorably and downloading copies of the Kindle e-book." The books have since been restored to the site, but without their reviews and rankings.

Hertog said it took "about 45 days" to maneuver his book to the number one spot in personal finance. "Not once was a review or vote rejected by Amazon," he observed. According to the Guardian, Hertog's conclusion was that "Amazon's bestseller rankings are 'inaccurate,' 'contrived' and 'misleading' to customers [and] his findings meant 'the Kindle experience is dead.' "

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Barnes & Noble has introduced a Nook kids for iPad application. CNET News said the app "is designed for children, but it's really targeted toward parents with kids."  
 
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Noting that "Great Bookstores Remain Downtown," the Santa Barbara Independent made a case "for the remaining depth of the Santa Barbara literary scene. The closing of Borders and Barnes & Noble does not represent the end of the downtown bookstores. Rather, it offers the opportunity to uncover some old Santa Barbara treasures."

Those treasures include the Book Den, Thrasher Books, Lost Horizon Books, Chaucer's Books and the Paperback Exchange. "While the community took its turn in romps with the commercial chains, these local bookstores have waited patiently, as forgotten secrets of our lady, Sta. Barbara. Let us take this opportunity to rediscover the depth of this city before she becomes covered in designer clothing and loses her literary soul," the Independent wrote.

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Stately Raven Bookstore, Findlay, Ohio, will close by the end of the month. Mike Cole, who has operated the bookshop since 2007, told FOX Toledo News: "We bought it, refurbished it, and renovated it. We needed to have a big enough store to become a destination for people to come here, to offset the lack of discount we had as an independent seller.... There are just too many other economic pressures and competitive elements going on in the book selling business."

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From the archives: Entertainment Weekly's Shelf Life blog featured a video clip of a J.K. Rowling interview from the late 1990s. Rowling is seen in a Scottish café, "snuggled with a coffee in a corner table, writing the book that would become Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. She also gives herself a pat on the back for selling a whopping 30,000 copies so far (i.e., 0.0075 percent of her current sales tally) and offers some candid thoughts about her first taste of success: 'It really scared me. I was halfway through the second book and I became blocked and panic stricken. I became very self conscious about what I was writing. But I did get over that. It took about a month to relax again and force myself to believe I was just writing for me again.' "

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Flavorwire revisited "Our Most Beloved Childhood Authors" and observed: "Although we’ve grown into busier schedules and wider literary tastes as adults, nothing beats the familiar comfort of a beloved childhood author. Here’s a look back at some of the seminal writers who defined our early reading careers, and an update on what they’ve been doing in the meantime."

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The Book Case blog showcased its choices for best book jackets of 2010.

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Obituary note: Children's author Dick King-Smith, whose book The Sheep-Pig was adapted into the hit film Babe, has died, the Guardian reported. He was 88.

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Brianna Yamashita has been promoted to publicity and marketing director for Tarcher/Penguin. Before joining Tarcher in October 2008, she was publicity manager at Workman and PR manager at Dorchester and earlier worked at Publishers Weekly, where we first met her and became a fan!

At Tarcher, she launched and produces Tarcher Talks, revamped tarcherbooks.com, expanded Tarcher's social media presence and was in charge of several new marketing initiatives, including national TV advertising via Google.

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Emily Grandstaff has returned to the University of Virginia Press as marketing and publicity manager, where she was a publicist from 2004 to 2007. More recently she was senior publicist at HarperOne. She may be reached at egrandstaff@virginia.edu.

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Book trailer of the day: Precious and Fragile Things by Megan Hart (Mira Books).

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A big-hearted romance fan, USA Today book critic Deirdre Donahue is now an official commenter on Avon Romance's blog. She quickly joined the discussion, calling Whisper Falls by Toni Blake an "enemy of productivity--my highest prize," a concept we know all too well.

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BookMasters Distribution Services has added two publishers:

Design Media Publishing, a new publisher in Hong Kong, supported by Liaoning Science and Technology Publishing House in China. Design Media publishes 60-100 titles annually, specializing in architecture, interior design, landscape and graphic design.

Islandport Press, Yarmouth, Maine, which publishes books and other media about Maine and New England, children's books, humor, history, cooking, fiction and more. Its author/illustrators include Dahlov Ipcar, a Maine resident who illustrated one of the earliest works of Margaret Wise Brown, the author of Good Night Moon. The press is reprinting the works of Mary Ellen Chase, a master of regional fiction. 

In addition, the AtlasBooks division has added:

Razor Media Group, Houston, Texas, a new company that will publish books and other information products on Internet commerce, beginning with Get Rich Click!: The Ultimate Guide for Anyone or Any Business to Make Money on the Internet by Marc Ostrofsky. Razor Media is headed by Ostrofsky, an Internet guru and entrepreneur who has also built and sold companies in the pre-paid phone card industry, created eTickets.com, CuffLinks.com, Summercamps.com and Blinds.com and sold the domain name Business.com for $7.5 million.

 


Clarion Books: The Stone Girl's Story by Sarah Beth Durst


Post-Holiday Hum: Brisk December Sales and an Eventful 2011

We checked in with some of the stores we profiled during the holiday season to find out how they fared and to hear about some of the things they have going on in 2011. This is our second report.

Two books and a game led the way to slightly higher holiday sales at Mysterious Galaxy in San Diego, Calif. The bestselling trio included Jim Butcher's Side Jobs: Stories from the Dresden Files, the YA fantasy tale Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl and Crossword Cubes: The Crossword Dice Game.

Customers seemed upbeat, buying books as well as a substantial amount of gift certificates and sidelines like boxed cards and T-shirts that were brought in for the holidays this year. "The store was decorated better than ever, and that always puts everybody in a festive spirit," said manager Bunny Hand. For a December soirée, Hand used silver tinsel to spell out "Peace, Love, Books," the IndieBound slogan, hanging the letters from the ceiling as a mobile.

January is busier than the holiday season at Mysterious Galaxy. "We hit the ground running, and it keeps going," Hand said. 2011 kicked off with a New Year's Day sale during which shoppers could redeem discount coupons they had received between Black Friday and the end of December. The day's tally was even with last year's total.

Among the authors appearing at the store this month are Kathy Reichs, whose most recent page turner is the YA novel Virals, and T. Jefferson Parker for the launch event of The Border Lords. An event with Orson Scott Card (The Lost Gate and Pathfinder) scheduled for this week was cancelled after the writer suffered a mild stroke on January 1.

Tomorrow evening at the store some American Library Association midwinter meeting attendees will mingle with representatives from the Southern California chapter of the Mystery Writers of America, among them Timothy Hallinan (The Queen of Patpong) and Hank Phillippi Ryan (Drive Time). Later in the month, two Mysterious Galaxy staffers will host an "eBook Education Event" to clue customers in on e-books available via the store's website.

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Holiday sales were up 3% at Mechanicsburg Mystery Bookshop in Mechanicsburg, Pa., and customers kept on shopping after December 25. "For the first time, we actually had great sales between Christmas and New Years--especially on New Year's Eve, which has never happened before," said store owner Debbie Beamer.

Book purchases were, for the most part, "a mixed bag," noted Beamer. An exception was the popular title The Gospel of Matthias Kent by Mike Silvestri, which several customers described as "powerful." Gift certificate sales were up 25%. 

Beamer is optimistic about a prosperous 2011 and has some creative, ambitious plans. In March, the bookshop is teaming up with a historic local inn to host a mystery-themed evening of dinner, dancing and a program done in the style of an old-time radio show titled "Lust, Lies and Homicide." The following month the event "Death Victorian Style" will feature speakers talking about funeral practices, body snatching, funeral jewelry and other intriguing topics.

On September 24, the store is hosting an amateur sleuth's extravaganza--the "As You Like It Mystery Conference" with panel discussions, signings and workshops for readers and writers. Taking center stage will be Anthony and Agatha Award-nominated Rosemary Harris (Slugfest) and some 15 other authors.--Shannon McKenna Schmidt

 


Oxford University Press: Hate: Why We Should Resist It with Free Speech, Not Censorship by Nadine Strossen


Pennie Picks Pictures of You

Pennie Clark Ianniciello, Costco's book buyer, has chosen Pictures of You by Caroline Leavitt (Algonquin, $13.95, 9781565126312) as her pick of the month for January. In Costco Connection, which goes to many of the warehouse club's members, she wrote:

"I've been known to occasionally fall for a science-fiction book, but overall I prefer what I read to be a reflection of the world as we know it, rather than a vision of a world yet to come. If you, too, look for richly developed characters who move fluidly through a well-paced plot, then Caroline Leavitt's Pictures of You is an ideal read.

"The story begins with two women running away from home. When their cars collide on a foggy highway, one is killed. The survivor, trying to heal herself, sets out to help the husband and child left behind by the deceased. Once their lives intersect, the unlikely trio fumble through questions of forgiveness, love, truth and what really matters.

"You may not love all of the characters who inhabit these pages, but you won't be let down if you decide to follow them on their journeys."

 


William Morrow & Company: My Dear Hamilton: A Novel of Eliza Schuyler Hamilton by Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie


Media and Movies

This Weekend on Book TV: The Price of Everything

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, January 8

8 a.m. Dan Porat, author of The Boy: A Holocaust Story (Hill and Wang, $26, 9780809030712), examines the iconic photograph, taken in the spring of 1943, of an anonymous boy in the Warsaw ghetto. (Re-airs Saturday at 5 p.m.)

12 p.m. Robert Kaplan discusses his book Monsoon: The Indian Ocean and the Future of American Power (Random House, $28, 9781400067466). (Re-airs Sunday at 7:15 p.m.)

2:45 p.m. Isabel Wilkerson, author of The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration (Random House, $30, 9780679444329), chronicles the migration north of approximately six million African Americans from 1915 to 1970.  (Re-airs Monday at 6:15 a.m.)

8 p.m. Kwame Anthony Appiah, author of The Honor Code: How Moral Revolutions Happen (Norton, $25.95, 9780393071627), argues that "moral revolutions" succeed when traditions come into dispute with the idea of honor. (Re-airs Sunday at 10 a.m. and Monday at 1 a.m.)

9:15 p.m. Thomas Daly, author of Rage Company: A Marine's Baptism By Fire (Wiley, $25.95, 9780470444306), talks about his experiences during first six months of the surge in Iraq. (Re-airs Sunday at 11:15 a.m. and Monday at 2:15 a.m.)

10 p.m. After Words. Daniel Gross interviews Eduardo Porter, author of The Price of Everything: Solving the Mystery of Why We Pay What We Do (Portfolio, $27.95, 9781591843627). (Re-airs Sunday at 9 p.m., and Monday at 12 a.m. and 3 a.m.)

Sunday, January 9

12:15 a.m. Roger Hodge, author of The Mendacity of Hope: Barack Obama and the Betrayal of American Liberalism (Harper, $25.99, 9780062011268), argues that the president has maintained the status quo in Washington. (Re-airs Sunday at 2 p.m. and Monday at 5 a.m.)

1:30 a.m. June Breton Fisher, granddaughter of the co-founder of Goldman Sachs, discusses her book When Money Was in Fashion: Henry Goldman, Goldman Sachs, and the Founding of Wall Street (Palgrave Macmillan, $27, 9780230617506). (Re-airs Sunday at 8:30 p.m. and Monday at 7:30 a.m.)

3 a.m. Frank Dikotter, author of Mao's Great Famine: The History of China's Most Devastating Catastrophe, 1958-1962 (Walker, $30, 9780802777683), takes a new look at Mao's Great Leap Forward. (Re-airs Sunday at 10 p.m.)

 


Television: Muscle

HBO is developing Muscle, a comedy from co-writer/director Derek Cianfrance (Blue Valentine) based on Sam Fussell's memoir Muscle: Confessions of an Unlikely Bodybuilder. Deadline.com reported that Cianfrance and Fussell will co-write the script and co-executive produce, with Cianfrance directing.

 


Movies: The Monster of Florence

Fox 2000 acquired film rights to The Monster of Florence by Douglas Preston and Mario Spezi. George Clooney will star in an adaptation written by Chris McQuarrie and Nathan Alexander. Clooney and Grant Heslov are producing with Dan Jinks and Bruce Cohen.

According to the Hollywood Reporter, in 2008, "soon after the book's publication that summer, Tom Cruise optioned rights to the project for United Artists, which he was running at the time. Cruise, who would produce and potentially star, set McQuarrie to adapt and produce. When UA stalled amid MGM's restructuring problems, the project went into turnaround. McQuarrie, Jinks and Cohen then took the property to Clooney and Heslov's Smoke House Prods."

 



Books & Authors

Awards: Goodreads Choice; Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry

Voters selected Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins as their favorite book of 2010 in this year's Goodreads Choice Awards. More than 157,000 votes were cast for 460 nominees and thousands of write-in candidates. See all the Goodreads Choice category winners here.

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Gillian Clarke, the national poet of Wales, won the Queen's gold medal for poetry, one of Britain's most prestigious awards. Clarke was honored for her body of work as well as her recent collection, A Recipe for Water, the Guardian reported.

"Gillian Clarke has been such an important figure in our country's literary landscape, and her new work is so fresh, so relevant, that it's lovely to see her writing at the height of her powers," said British poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy. "

 


Book Review

Book Review: Widow

In 18 stories, Latiolais writes of many things, but always in the same unmistakable, intelligent voice, and always mining another well of grief or memory. She grieves the loss of many things, chief among them her husband, who committed suicide. We do not find that out until the last story, called "Damned Spot," the name of their much-beloved bull terrier.

We do know that she is a widow in the first story, "Widow." When filling out a medical questionnaire, where one is given only the choices of being either married or single, "she writes in the word widow. It's not that she's being unreasonable about the questionnaire; rather, it's an attempt to give them some sense of her actual physical state. She has been surprised by grief, its constancy, its immediacy, its unrelenting physical pain."

Not all the stories are autobiographical, but all explore the boundless territory of memory and grief. In "The Long Table," an aunt is amusing children at a wedding party by making dough animals. " 'Make a giraffe,' " they begged... and the aunt, her eyes trying to smile above cheeks lifeless with the exhaustion of her failing marriage, said no, she didn't really have any sense of how to make a giraffe; he had taught her only the lion and the lioness." She goes on to make a giraffe and then a snake, "a beautiful snake," she said with determination, " a beautiful snake with scales like rose petals." She will persevere and learn new ways--alone.

There is a vital, vibrant thread of eroticism throughout many of the stories; these women are not without longing, real physical longing that they can name, quantify and revel in remembering. Latiolais's stories has that felicitous quality of writing in an elliptical fashion so that we do not end where we began. The stories start at their center and then meander around and curve inward to the deepest redoubt of the heart. She is a no-holds-barred writer, moving us to laugh out loud and to unexpected tears.

"Gut" is one of the stories that has a laugh on every page. Latiolais doesn't do schtick; this is the real McCoy. Abby meets Herb at a knife store while buying an oyster knife. What ensues is love and marriage and exotic travel abroad to affirm Herb's thesis. "Herb's primary inquiry has been how the human digestive system shrank and the human brain subsequently grew... once our colon got downsized, our brain could upsize." Believe me when I tell you that this is very funny stuff.

Every story in this collection is uniquely enjoyable on its own terms. While all the stories are different, what unites them is Latiolais's brilliant use of language, wit, her placement of real people in real situations and a limitless compassion and understanding of human pain and joy. --Valerie Ryan

Shelf Talker: Michelle Latiolais has written a group of 18 stories unifed by her deep understanding of the pain of loss and the joy that memories can bring.

 


The Bestsellers

Top-Selling Titles on AbeBooks.com in December

The bestselling books on AbeBooks.com during December 2010:

1. Mark Twain's Own Autobiography by Mark Twain
2. True Grit by Charles Portis
3. The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
4. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
5. The Little Book of Twitter by Tim Collins
6. The Shack by William P. Young
7. The Hare with Amber Eyes by Edmund De Waal
8. The Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson
9. The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest by Stieg Larsson
10. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

The bestselling signed books on AbeBooks.com during December 2010:
 
1. America by Heart by Sarah Palin
2. Decision Points by George W. Bush
3. Freedom by Jonathan Franzen
4. Decoded by Jay Z
5. Dead or Alive by Tom Clancy
6. Lord of Misrule by Jaimy Gordon
7. Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk by David Sedaris
8. The Thousand Autumns of Jacob DeZoet by David Mitchell
9. Colonel Roosevelt by Edmund Morris  
10. Cleopatra by Stacy Schiff

[Many thanks to AbeBooks.com!]

 


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