Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, March 2, 2011


Penguin Books: The Dying Game by Asa Avdic

Sourcebooks Fire: Before I Let Go by Marieke Nijkamp

Tarcherperigee: Men & Dogs by Alice Chaygneaud-Dupuy and Marie-Eva Chopin / Rescued by Peter Zheutlin

Random House: An American Family: A Memoir of Hope and Sacrifice by Khizr Khan

Chicago Review Press: The Sunken Gold: A Story of World War I Espionage and the Greatest Treasure Salvage in History by Joseph A. Williams

Park Row Books: Hanna Who Fell from the Sky by Christopher Meades

News

Image of the Day: 'Blog-selling'

Author and self-described book geek Joe D'Agnese yesterday was one of many customers picking up signed copies of Patrick Rothfuss's new book, The Wise Man's Fear (DAW), at Malaprop's, Asheville, N.C. They were some of the 3,000 copies of the book the author had signed at Penguin offices in New York that were distributed to nearly 50 bookstores around the country. Discovering from Rothfuss's blog that Malaprop's would have signed copies of the book, D'Agnese called and found out that he was just in time: the store sold some 50 copies in one day, all by phone. D'Agnese commented: "The industry should come up with a better term for this phenomenon. It's not hand-selling anymore. It's blog-selling. Or something."

 

 


G.P. Putnam's Sons: The Salt Line by Holly Goddard Jones


Amazon's Sales Tax Battle: Swimming Against the Current?

Will Amazon soon be collecting sales tax everywhere? Retail analyst David Strasser thinks so. He told Forbes: "There's a lot of momentum building. Jeff Bezos has built a company strategically around avoiding sales tax. But they're going to have to deal with this." Forbes noted that "the battle has entered a new stage as Amazon builds warehouse/fulfillment centers in more locations, states grow hungrier for revenue, and a rising sales tax rate (it now averages 9.64% nationwide) puts retailers who do collect tax at an ever bigger disadvantage."

"I think Amazon is starting to overplay their hand with what they're doing in Texas and Tennessee. I'm not an advocate for bricks and mortar retailers. But Amazon is gaming the system," said Strasser, who believes the backlash regarding fulfillment centers is significant "because both the competitive market place and Amazon's ambitions require it to continue building. As Best Buy and Wal-Mart get more efficient at distributing items purchased on the web, Amazon has to have warehouses nearer its customers, he says. He also points to a Wall Street Journal report last month that Amazon is considering selling fresh groceries, which would require even more of a local presence wherever that service is offered," Forbes wrote.

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South Carolina has joined Texas and Tennessee in questioning Amazon's tax breaks. The Associated Press (via the Washington Examiner) reported a planned distribution center "that became one of former Governor Mark Sanford's last big economic development deals has become a headache for Governor Nikki Haley, legislators and possibly South Carolina's economic development image."

"It's a tough situation," Haley said. "I've had to take on all these issues where I've had to check: What's the background on this? How did we get here? What happened?... I don't want us to be known as the state that doesn't keep our promises. But the second side of it is when I go and I push for economic development, I want to make sure that we're being fair to the companies that are coming in and to the companies that we already have in this state."

A law passed in 2005 that "made it clear big distribution centers didn't open out-of-state businesses to sales tax collections just because they shipped goods from South Carolina" expired last June. The state commerce department "promised Amazon that they would work to get the law back on the books--but with a new exception for Amazon. The company operates Createspace, a book publishing operation in North Charleston. Amazon wanted to make sure Createspace also did not have to collect sales taxes," the AP wrote.

Jill Hendrix, owner of Fiction Addiction, Greenville, and a SIBA board member, said, "We would like for that to be off the table completely."

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Amazon has thrown down the tax gauntlet in California, threatening to sever ties with affiliates if the state government passes legislation requiring the company to collect sales tax on items sold to residents. In a letter to California's Board of Equalization, Amazon said four bills introduced to the state legislature "are unconstitutional because they would ultimately require sellers with no physical presence in California to collect sales tax merely on the basis of contracts with California advertisers," the Wall Street Journal reported.

In a letter to State Board of Equalization member Senator George Runner, Paul Misener, Amazon's v-p for global public policy, wrote: "If any of these new tax collection schemes were adopted, Amazon would be compelled to end its advertising relationships with well over 10,000 California-based participants in the Amazon Associates Program." Misener also warned that "similar legislation in other states has, counterproductively, led to job and income losses and little, if any, new tax revenue."

Runner observed: "In no uncertain terms, Amazon has made it clear to me that the checks they send Californians will be cut off overnight if pending legislation aimed at regulating their operations becomes law."

 


KidsBuzz for the Week of 06.26.17


Notes: KidLit Celebrates Women's History Month

Cool idea of the day: KidLit celebrates Women's History Month every day in March with a children's book author or blogger. The Fourth Musketeer (Margo Tanenbaum, studying to be a children's librarian) and Shelf-Employed (Lisa Taylor, practicing public librarian on the Jersey Shore) are co-hosts of the event and members of the Kidlitosphere. Their line-up includes authors Sue Macy, Candace Fleming, Tonya Bolden, Anita Silvey and Tanya Lee Stone.

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Obituary Note: The Rev. Peter J. Gomes, a Harvard minister, theologian and author "who announced that he was gay a generation ago and became one of America’s most prominent spiritual voices against intolerance," died Monday, the New York Times reported. He was 68.

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The St. Louis Independent Bookstore Alliance, formed last month by the owners of Subterranean Books, Left Bank Books, Pudd'nhead Books and Main Street Books (Shelf Awareness, February 18, 2011), was front page news in yesterday's Post-Dispatch, which noted that the alliance "isn't a response to Borders' move, but simply evolved from an effort to support a smaller competitor: [Kelly] von Plonski's Subterranean."

"What a bookstore adds is quality and attractiveness to neighborhoods," said Kris Kleindienst, co-owner of Left Bank. "There are customers who would start crying if we said we were closing." Of her chosen career, she observed: "I may not have a retirement fund, but, oh, will I have the memories."

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The Chicago Tribune checked in with local independent booksellers in the wake of Borders bankruptcy, noting that "on Main Street in Glen Ellyn, in a small shop [The Bookstore] tucked between a yarn store and the alley, Jane Stroh and her staff are trying to write another chapter in the ongoing saga: How Independent Booksellers Survived Death Valley."

The secret? "You can't sit in your four walls and do nothing," said Becky Anderson, co-owner of Anderson's Bookshops. "Besides, that's boring. You've got to make it fun for yourself and fun for your customers."

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Revisiting Explore Booksellers four years after the business "was bought and preserved, as-is, by Texas billionaire and part-time Aspenite Sam Wyly," the Aspen Daily News recalled that "some worried it would lose its independent, liberal character." The bookstore, however, "has stayed largely the same, other than a remodel of its upstairs restaurant. And over those recent years, other local bookstores in Aspen and Basalt have folded, while Explore has survived. Its endurance in the face of an increasingly unsustainable book market is more the result of the Wyly’s generosity than a loyal, local customer base." 

"I wish the community would get more solidly behind the concept of buying local," said former general manager Lynda Schultz, who retired last week. "When Explore Booksellers was for sale, it was a headline in the paper just about every day. It was the uproar of the town. Everybody from the mayor on down was saying that if Explore goes away this community is going to suffer a huge loss. People were saying, 'If Explore goes away, I'm moving.' All this kind of stuff was happening, and yet I've continued to see a decline in support from the local population, as far as buying books. They forget. It's complacency."

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The Bookshelf, Medina, Ohio, hosted its grand re-opening recently after having been closed for seven weeks due to severe water damage from a leaking water heater on Christmas day, the Cleveland Sun News reported.

"It pretty much destroyed everything,” Linda Smalley, executive director of Project: LEARN, which runs both the Medina and Brunswick Bookshelf locations. "We have expanded the amount of space for retail. And we've cut down on office space. We've installed new shelves and made the space much more efficient."

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"Money" by the Flying Lizards, a "sloe-eyed anthem of hipster materialists everywhere," is on Flavorwire's literary mixtape for Jay Gatsby, who "is the epitome of both the wealthy example of the functionality of the American dream, and the nouveau riche upstart who will never find true acceptance into the world he so desperately longs for. Here are the songs we think Gatsby would woo, party, and get paid to."

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When children read to their "listening dogs," they don't have to be worried about four-legged criticism. The Guardian reported on a program in the U.K. that is modeled after America's Reading Education Assistance Dogs (READ).

"It helps with their self-esteem in reading out loud because he is non-judgmental," said Tony Nevett, owner of Danny, a greyhound that is encouraging primary school pupils to read. "He doesn't judge them and he doesn't laugh at them. He's just a tool--the children don't realize they are reading, which they might not have the confidence to do in class.... We've had some success stories, including a girl with Down's Syndrome who really took to the dog and improved her reading. When Danny goes to sleep I tell the children that he's dreaming about their story."

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"Remember the whole Crystal Antlers/Crystal Stilts/Crystal Castles thing? What about Wolf Eyes/Wolfmother/Wolf Parade/AIDS Wolf and Grizzly Bear/Bear Hands/Bear in Heaven?" Flavorwire suggested that tiger-titled books might be the latest trend.  

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Abnormal, accursed, antediluvian--Boing Boing showcased H.P. Lovecraft's favorite words as charted by CthulhuChick, who edited the e-book edition of Lovecraft's complete works.

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Book trailer of the day: Life After College: The Complete Guide to Getting What You Want by Jenny Blake (Running Press).

 


Geek & Sundry: The Punch Escrow by Tal M. Klein


New Prize: Independent Booksellers Choice Awards

In announcing the debut of the 2011 Independent Booksellers Choice awards, sponsor Melville House Publishing noted that the prize was created because "indie booksellers know books best. They are the people who guide readers past the flavor-of-the-moment titles to the hidden gems. No Amazon algorithm recommendation or Oprah book club pick can compete with your local bookseller when he or she says, 'You might not have heard of it, but this book is going to blow your mind.' "
 
To celebrate this partnership between indie booksellers and indie publishers, booksellers will vote for their favorite indie press books published in 2010, regardless of category. Five winners of the grand prize--featured displays in participating stores--will be named during the Book Expo America convention in May.
 
"It’s the ultimate shelf-talker," said Melville House publisher Dennis Johnson. "Rather than give a prize to an author or a publisher or a translator, we wanted to do something that really boosted the eco-system we live in. With any luck, we can get some deserving titles to sell a few more copies, which is good for the store, good for the publisher, and good for the authors and translators. It lets all of us not only keep doing what we do, but thrive."
 
"It’s a terrific idea," added Elaine Petrocelli, whose Book Passage bookstores in the San Francisco Bay area will be participating. She is pleased her entire staff "will have the pleasure of nominating books we love and giving recognition to great books from independent presses."
 
Other bookstores on board for the project include the Elliott Bay Book Company, Seattle, Wash.; Skylight Books, Los Angeles, Calif.; and St. Mark’s Bookshop, New York City. Only staff members of independent stores will be eligible to vote, though anyone is welcome to follow discussion about the nominees on the project’s website, booksellerschoiceaward.com. Ideas for a better name for the prize are being sought as well, since "Independent Booksellers Choice Award doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue."
 
Voting began yesterday. A longlist of 25 titles will be announced on April 1, followed by the shortlist a month later. Winners will be honored at a ceremony featuring "some surprise celebrity presenters" during BEA.
 
"The only drag is that our books won’t be eligible," said Johnson.

 


Counterpoint: Gangster Nation by Tod Goldberg


Media and Movies

Media Heat: W.S. Merwin on KCRW's Bookworm

This morning on Imus in the Morning: Frank Luntz, author of Win: The Key Principles to Take Your Business From Ordinary to Extraordinary (Hyperion, $25.99, 9781401323998).

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Tomorrow on the Today Show: Meredith Baxter, author of Untied: A Memoir of Family, Fame, and Floundering (Crown Archetype, $25, 9780307719300).

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Tomorrow on MSNBC's Morning Joe: Alan Arkin, author of An Improvised Life: A Memoir (Da Capo, $17, 9780306819667). He also appears tomorrow on the Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell and the Joy Behar Show.

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Tomorrow on KCRW's Bookworm: W.S. Merwin, author of The Shadow of Sirius (Copper Canyon, $16, 9781556593109).

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Tomorrow on NPR's Diane Rehm Show: Neil Bascomb, author of The New Cool: A Visionary Teacher, His FIRST Robotics Team, and the Ultimate Battle of Smarts (Crown, $25, 9780307588890).

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Tomorrow on the View: Joe Matthews, co-author of Bringing Adam Home: The Abduction that Changed America (Ecco, $24.99, 9780061983900). Also on the show are Adam's parents, John and Revé Walsh.

 


Television: How to Be a Gentleman

Rhys Darby (Flight of the Concords) has been cast in the CBS comedy pilot How to Be a Gentleman, which "revolves around a magazine that has changed ownership and centers on Alan (David Hornsby) who writes a column on how to be a gentleman--in all aspects of life. Darby will play Alan's brother-in-law," Deadline.com reported. Hornsby wrote the script, based on the book How to Be a Gentleman: A Timely Guide to Timeless Manners by John Bridges.

 


Movies: HP's Deathly Hallows, Part 2 Sets a Premiere Date

Warner Bros. has set July 7 for the world premiere of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2 at London's Trafalgar Square and Leicester Square. Variety reported that the "final Potter pic will be screened at Leicester Square's cinemas."

In a statement, Mayor of London Boris Johnson said, "As befits a great British triumph, I can think of no better venue than the iconic surroundings of Trafalgar Square in which to stage the most spectacular of send offs for this dramatic finale."

 



Books & Authors

Awards: Lionel Gelber Prize

Shelagh Grant became the first Canadian woman to win the $15,000 Lionel Gelber Prize for her book Polar Imperative: A History of Arctic Sovereignty in North America. The annual award honors an international nonfiction book "that seeks to deepen public debate on significant global issues." Grant will accept the prize at a ceremony and lecture in Toronto on March 29, Quillblog reported.

Jury chair Paul Cadario praised the book as "a comprehensive account of the interplay of politics, economics, institutions, and culture that few ever experienced first-hand."

 


Book Brahmin: Ward Just

Ward Just's latest novel, Rodin's Debutante, is available March 1, 2011, from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. His 16 previous novels include Exiles in the Garden; Forgetfulness; National Book Award finalist Echo House; A Dangerous Friend, winner of the Cooper Prize for fiction from the Society of American Historians; and An Unfinished Season, winner of the Chicago Tribune Heartland Award and a finalist for the 2005 Pulitzer Prize.

 

On your nightstand now:

A Happy Death by Albert Camus, Purgatorio by Dante Alighieri, and a two-week-old copy of the London Economist.

Favorite book when you were a child:

The Hardy Boys series by Franklin W. Dixon, wonderfully goodhearted yet exciting boys' stories. Some skullduggery and derring-do by boys a few years older than you are. Best thing about it, the parents are virtually absent, leaving the boys room to maneuver. Also, they drove fast cars.

Your top five authors:

Oddly enough, three of us were debating that very subject the other evening round about midnight well into a third bottle of Bordeaux. My own selections were Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Melville and W.G. Sebald. Much dispute concerning number 5. I myself swung to and fro among Phillip Roth, the early John le Carré and the short stories of Mavis Gallant.

Book you've faked reading:

Purgatorio by Dante.

Book you're an evangelist for:

The novels of Kent Haruf, a writer from the American Plains; his books are written in a wonderfully austere manner about people only barely hanging on. Also, A Very Long Engagement by the French novelist Sebastian Japrisot, a tremendously vivid story of a romance cut short by the First World War. It was made into a movie which, while not bad, does not approach the original.

Book you've bought for the cover:

Anais Nin's rompish bit of pornography called The Birds.

Book that changed your life:

When I was 13 years old, living on the north shore of Chicago, my mother gave me a copy of the just-published collected short stories of F. Scot Fitzgerald. It was a revelation. I think I never thanked her properly, but it was an inspired selection. A book just a bit above my head but not so far as to be unreachable.

Favorite line from a book:

There are so many of these. The last lines from Joyce's The Dead; the last few sentences from Gatsby; "Mother died today, or was it yesterday," from The Stranger, a reference--I always thought given the date of publication--to the death of Europe. Hemingway's "Isn't it pretty to think so?" from The Sun Also Rises. And of course: "For a long time, I went to bed early," or whatever translation of Proust you prefer, there being a dozen or more.

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

The Great Gatsby, hands down.

Your favorite place to write:

Paris, hands down, despite the very many distractions--long lunches, late nights, celebrated museums, street demonstrations, visiting firemen, the euro. Or, perhaps, because of all of these things--with the exception of the euro. 

 


Book Review

Children's Review: Strings Attached

Strings Attached by Judy Blundell (Scholastic Press, $17.99 Hardcover, 9780545221269, March 2011)

Set in the same era as her National Book Award–winning What I Saw and How I Lied, Blundell's latest riveting novel intertwines threads of romance, organized crime and murder with an aspiring actress's coming-of-age story. The story begins in October 1950, as 17-year-old narrator Kit Corrigan performs in a Broadway musical. She spies Nate Benedict in the audience, just before the end of the second act. This so unhinges Kit that she trips up a fellow chorus girl. Kit knows Mr. Benedict from her hometown, Providence, R.I., from which she fled just a few weeks before. There she was known as one of The Corrigan Three, a performing triplets act with her brother and sister. He was called "Nate the Nose Benedict" because of a fight that broke his nose in his youth. Nowadays, nobody messes with Nate. He's the attorney for New York gangster Frank Costello.

Their terse conversation after the show reveals that Nate's son, Billy, had wanted to marry Kit. Now Billy's about to ship out to Korea. Flashbacks fill in the scene of Kit and Billy's parting: he flew into a rage after witnessing a flirty exchange between Kit and a movie star with whom she'd once done summer stock. Billy's response was to smash the star's car, then enlist in the army. Now Nate, having tracked Kit to Manhattan, wants to set Kit up in an apartment he owns near the newly built U.N. building: "Take the key. No strings," he says. Except that, as Billy put it, Nate "runs his life on debts." Next, Nate "pull[s] strings" to get Kit an early audition at the Lido, where Sinatra and Ethel Merman performed. Then, when she wins a coveted spot as a Lido Doll, he asks her to keep tabs on some of Costello's men. Suddenly, the big city feels claustrophobic.

Blundell demonstrates the strict rules of the era--gangs defined by ethnic groups and economic class, and women limited to secretarial and teaching jobs. But she also instills in Kit and Billy the timeless feeling that love makes everything possible. Kit and Billy believe that they can pursue their dreams of marriage, alongside hers of a life in the theater, and his passion for photography. The author lets us know that Kit has what it takes as she approaches the Lido for her tryout, "The trick to auditions? You've got to not mind that they're bored, or that they're thinking about the last girl, or that they're dying for a smoke. You've got to think about your own joy." Kit also recognizes Billy as a fellow artist when, at age 12, she sees his photos for the first time: "If I could do that, I'd do it all the time," she tells him. She knows the traditional path would kill her dreams: "I'd seen too many girls go off in their white gowns and bouquets.... I'd seen them at twenty-two with two or three kids hanging on their skirts. I'd seen them disillusioned at thirty, not in love, not even satisfied, just trapped." Blundell transforms Kit's chastity into a feminist stance.

The author gets all the details right. Secondary characters spring to life, such as neighbor boy Hank Greeley, whose parents are under surveillance for "subversive activities," and Daisy Meadows, who "studied with Stella Adler [and] was part of a world [Kit] couldn't imagine--late nights in Greenwich Village jazz clubs, hard study with tough teachers, a tribe of actors searching for truth in a gesture." Subthemes take on greater reverberations with a second and third rereading, such as Nate's words to 12-year-old Kit during the intermission of Carousel, which she attends with her Aunt Delia, "I think the lesson of the play is that we can't always have what we want." The pace will keep the pages turning, but the ideas within them will keep readers thinking long after they've closed the covers.--Jennifer M. Brown

 


The Bestsellers

Top-Selling Titles on AbeBooks.com in February

The bestselling books on AbeBooks.com last month:

1. Jamie's 30-minute Meals by Jamie Oliver
2. The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren
3. Night by Elie Wiesel
4. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
5. The Secret Message of Jesus by Brian D. McLaren
6. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
7. The Girl with The Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
8. The Shack by William Young
9. The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest by Stieg Larsson
10. Women Who Love Too Much by Robin Norwood

The bestselling signed books last month:

1. Swamplandia! by Karen Russell
2. The Alchemist by Paolo Bacigalupi
3. West of Here by Jonathan Evison
4. Known and Unknown: A Memoir by Donald Rumsfeld
5. Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
6. Pat Nixon: The Untold Story by Julie Nixon Eisenhower
7. The Heroes by Joe Abercrombie
8. The Empty Family by Colm Tóibín
9. Decision Points by George W. Bush
10. The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

[Many thanks to AbeBooks.com!]

 


Disney-Hyperion: Serafina and the Splintered Heart (Serafina # 3) by Robert Beatty
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