Shelf Awareness for Thursday, March 3, 2011
Quotation of the Day
Read Across America Day: Nurture 'Lifelong, Successful Readers'
"Hidden in the pages of books are extraordinary worlds and characters that can spark creativity and imagination, and unlock the potential that lies within each of our children. Reading is the foundation upon which all other learning is built, and on Read Across America Day, we reaffirm our commitment to supporting America's next generation of great readers.
"Cultivation of basic literacy skills can begin early and in the home. It is family who first instills the love of learning in our future leaders by engaging children in good reading habits and making reading a fun and interactive activity. Regardless of language or literacy level, every adult can inspire young people to appreciate the written word early in life. Parents and mentors can help build fundamental skills by reading aloud to children regularly, discussing the story, and encouraging children to ask questions on words or content they do not understand. By passing a passion for literature on to our sons and daughters, we prepare them to be lifelong, successful readers, and we provide them with an essential skill necessary for academic achievement."
Image of the Day: Meeting New Fans Through ARCs
Last week some 80 new fans met with Veronica Roth, whose debut title, Divergent, will be published in May by Katherine Tegen Books/HarperCollins Children's Books. Hosted by Anderson's Bookshop, Naperville, Ill., the event took place at the Anderson's Bookfair Company and featured conversation between author and audience--who had received and read ARCs in advance.
Notes: RH Titles in iBookstore; B&N Settles LawsuitMore than 15,000 Random House e-book titles are now available in Apple's iBookstore as a result of the publisher's decision to adopt the agency pricing model (Shelf Awareness, March 1, 2011). Yesterday, Apple CEO Steve Jobs opened his keynote speech unveiling the iPad 2 by talking about iBooks. He confirmed Random House's inclusion and said that more than 100 million e-books have been downloaded through the iBookstore since its April 2010 launch.
Barnes & Noble has settled a lawsuit brought in November 2009 by Spring Design, which charged that B&N illegally used key features of its Alex Reader in the Nook. Under the terms of the settlement, Spring Design will grant B&N a "non-exclusive, paid-up royalty free license for the entire portfolio of Spring Design patents and patent applications." The agreement resolves all claims brought by Spring Design, which will be dismissed with prejudice.
TechCrunch reported that the settlement "comes a few months after Barnes & Noble failed to dismiss Spring Design's lawsuit. Spring Design claimed the bookseller illegally copied its screen design for the Nook electronic book reader, accusing the company of misappropriating trade secrets, breach of contract and unfair competition.... In its complaint, Spring Design said it had shared the dual-display design of the device with Barnes & Noble when the companies held potential partnership talks back in 2009, prior to the launch of the Nook. The company said Barnes & Noble later incorporated features of the Alex Reader into Nook, breaching a nondisclosure agreement."
According to its website, Spring Design is phasing out the Alex Reader and "has refocused its resources to further advance the ReadMate technology to enable next generation products and services."
Ferrier Hodgson, administrator of bankrupt REDgroup Retail, owner of Borders, Angus & Robertson and Whitcoulls in Australia and New Zealand, is closing one Borders store and 37 A&R stores in the next three weeks and has laid off 321 staff members, according to Bookseller and Publisher Online.
REDgroup Retail has 27 Borders stores; the Borders store slated to close is in Rouse Hill, near Sydney. There are 164 A&R stores, 103 of which are company owned; all 37 stores that are closing are company owned. REDgroup online operations and retail stores in New Zealand were not affected by this round of closings.
An administrator said that the stores being closed are "the least viable of the 260 REDgroup retail outlets and needed to be closed in order to protect as best as possible the future of the business."
Question of the day: concerning yesterday's image of the day about how Patrick Rothfuss helped sell 3,000 signed copies of his new book, The Wise Man's Fear, on his blog, Steve Quinn, special sales rep at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, wrote:
"Isn't this sort of thing known as a 'flash sale?' We've been seeing a lot of flash sellers at recent trade shows and it sounds familiar."
Walmart is now making its own pitch for Amazon.com’s affiliates. Last month, Barnes & Noble courted affiliates who are caught in Amazon's sales tax battles (Shelf Awareness, February 15, 2011). The Wall Street Journal reported that yesterday Walmart.com said "that it 'welcomes Amazon and Overstock California affiliates,' or websites that direct traffic to the online retailers."
The Pilot profiled Kimberly Daniels, manager the Country Bookshop, Southern Pines, N.C., which the newspaper bought last November.
"I've always loved being in a bookshop," she said. "I think this is the best job in the world, because it never gets old. I spend the day having the most fascinating conversations. They can range from World War II to philosophy to the power of positive thinking."
Pilot publisher David Woronoff said that Daniels "brings energy and enthusiasm that I think will add significantly to the business. You couple that with her good judgment and passion for bookselling, and you've got a great fit."
The Book Cellar, Chicago, Ill., is "more than a bookseller." Medill Reports interviewed owner Susan Takacs, who acknowledged the competitive challenge represented by online retailers like Amazon.com, but "hopes to win over former Borders customers with her high level of customer service and unique offerings, which include wine and beer."
"It's kind of hard to make what you love your job. It's always a challenge," Takacs said, adding that her bookshop has "become a community meeting place. Some of the babies and the school-age children that were at our initial story time when we opened in 2004 are all grown up. This one boy that used to come here all the time is now a man, you know. He's out of high school and he's six-five. He used to come here when he was locked out of his house to use the phone and have a soda while he waited for his mom."
Fast Company blogger Shawn Graham explored his local Barnes & Noble store for the first time since Borders declared bankruptcy and shared his impressions in a post headlined "Will Barnes & Noble's New Retail Strategy Help Save the Day?"
After taking in the "fully staffed Nook station located no more than 10 feet inside the store" and numerous non-book options, his conclusion came in the form of another question: "Are the Nook, their new assortment of board games and childhood learning materials, and Starbucks coffee enough to keep Barnes & Noble afloat? Or will they join the ranks of other booksellers who weren't able to adapt to the changes that are continuing to sweep their industry? So far, I'd have to say the changes make a lot of sense."
The Afghan Women's Writing Project has introduced AWWP Presents, a global theatrical initiative that works with professional theater companies, school districts, university theater departments and other groups, including libraries, coffee houses, or any organization interested in bringing the writings and voices of AWWP's women artists to live audiences.
David McKie, author of Bright Particular Stars: A Gallery of Glorious British Eccentrics, chose his top 10 eccentrics in literature for the Guardian.
It's time to test your Harry Potter knowledge again, just to see if you still "know a snitch from a bludger and the difference between divination and defence against dark arts." The Guardian featured a new HP quiz.
Book trailer of the day: Heads You Lose by Lisa Lutz and David Hayward (Putnam), in which the authors--real-life exes--talk about why in the world they would write a mystery together, how brilliant or not the other is and more.
Hachette Book Group has hired Canadian Manda Group to provide sales service and marketing support for independent bookstores, library accounts and non-traditional accounts in Canada. Sales to independent and library accounts had been handled by H.B. Fenn, which filed for bankruptcy earlier this year (Shelf Awareness, February 4, 2011).
David Young, Hachette Book Group chairman and CEO, said, "Canadian Manda Group's excellent reputation in the Canadian marketplace, their Canadian roots, and their focus and passion make them an ideal company for us to work with. We're thrilled to team up with owners Nick Smith and Carey Low, and their experienced staff."
Canadian Manda is one of the largest commission rep groups in Canada.
World Book Day & Night: Alternative ViewsToday is World Book Day in the U.K. and Ireland, and Saturday will be World Book Night, during which 40,000 copies each of 25 books are distributed free by 20,000 volunteer givers. WBN is "an ambitious venture intended to spread a buzz about the joy of reading up and down the country. The event will be covered on BBC2, with a huge curtain-raiser in Trafalgar Square the night before, at which Margaret Atwood, John le Carré and other major writers will be reading," the Guardian reported.
While media coverage of the events has been generally enthusiastic (what's not to like about the idea of a nationwide reading promotion?), voices of concern have also been raised, notably by Vanessa Robertson, owner of Edinburgh Bookshop, who got the conversation started with three detailed posts on the State of Independents blog.
Author Nicola Morgan joined the discussion with a proposal for Our World Book Night: "One day between now and next Saturday (March 5th), let's each of us buy a book, preferably from an actual bookshop, or direct from a publisher. Any book. Write inside it: 'Given in the spirit of World Book Night, March 5th 2011 and bought from [insert name of shop]--please enjoy and tell people about it.' And give it to someone. Anyone. A friend or stranger, a library or school or doctor's surgery or anything. Then go home, and enjoy whatever you're reading yourself."
She summed up the advantages of Our World Book Night succinctly: "It's very simple and everyone wins: the bookshop, the recipient, the author, the publisher, the agent, even you, the giver, because you'll enjoy the frisson of pleasure that comes from giving. There are no losers. That's why I like it. And I'll be buying my book from the Edinburgh Bookshop."
In the Guardian, Stuart Evers agreed and even upped the ante, recommending a Local Bookshop Year: "Opinion over the giving away of thousands of books on World Book Night seems to be divided--but whatever side you fall on Morgan's proposition is too good to resist.... Bookshops get the much-needed sales, and we as readers get to choose something that we have sponsored rather than the publishers. It is the ideal time for those who love popping into a good book shop to get back into the buying habit."
Some authors have "raised doubts about the mass giveaway, arguing that it could impact negatively on independent booksellers struggling to survive in a particularly tough retail climate, while failing to reward authors properly for their work," the Guardian noted.
Novelist Susan Hill also backed Morgan's plan, saying, "One of my publishers has had to spend £40,000 on printing books to give away which is £40,000 he cannot now use to publish and promote new authors. This is a much better idea and I'm up for it."
On her blog yesterday, Morgan clarified her position by expressing full support for World Book Day because of its focus on children and literacy, and contending that she is not necessarily anti-World Book Night: "I think WBN is a great idea. I think the idea of any of us giving our own property away when we choose to is a great idea. I think that anything that encourages and inspires reading is a great idea. I think some great ideas have significant costs. I think sometimes those significant costs can be avoided. I think some great ideas are more complicated than they need to be, but hey, I don't have to deal with the complications."
Media and Movies
Media Heat: Dan Abrams on the View
This morning on the Today Show: Rahna Reiko Rizzuto, author of Hiroshima in the Morning (Feminist Press at CUNY, $16.95, 9781558616677).
Tomorrow on the View: Dan Abrams, author of Man Down: Proof Beyond a Reasonable Doubt That Women Are Better Cops, Drivers, Gamblers, Spies, World Leaders, Beer Tasters, Hedge Fund Managers, and Just About Everything Else (Abrams, $17.95, 9780810998292). He will also appear tomorrow on OWN's Gayle King.
This Weekend on Book TV: Reading Jackie
Book TV airs on C-Span 2 this weekend 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, March 5
9:15 a.m. Liel Leibovitz, author of Fortunate Sons: The 120 Chinese Boys Who Came to America, Went to School, and Revolutionized an Ancient Civilization (Norton, $26.95, 9780393070040), recounts the visit of boys from China's Qing Empire to America in 1872. (Re-airs Saturday at 9:15 p.m. and Sunday at 1:15 a.m.)
10 a.m. Scott Brown, U.S. Senator from Massachusetts and author of Against All Odds: My Life of Hardship, Fast Breaks, and Second Chances (Harper, $27.99, 9780062015549), recounts his personal and professional life. (Re-airs Saturday at 11 p.m. and Sunday at 7 p.m.)
5 p.m. William Kuhn, author Reading Jackie: Her Autobiography In Books (Nan A. Talese, $27.95, 9780385530996), recalls the publishing career of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, who worked as an editor for Doubleday and Viking. (Re-airs Sunday at 2 a.m. and 8 a.m.)
7 p.m. James Robbins, author of This Time We Win: Revisiting the Tet Offensive (Encounter Books, $25.95, 9781594032295), argues that the Tet Offensive was a failure for the North Vietnamese. (Re-airs Sunday at 3 p.m.)
8 p.m. Seth Mnookin, author of The Panic Virus: A True Story of Medicine, Science, and Fear (S&S, $26.99, 9781439158647), looks at the fraudulent 1998 study by British researcher Andrew Wakefield linking childhood vaccinations to autism. (Re-airs Sunday at 12 a.m. and 4 a.m.)
10 p.m. After Words. Journalist Juan Williams interviews Rubin Carter, author of Eye of the Hurricane: My Path from Darkness to Freedom (Lawrence Hill Books, $26.95, 9781569765685), about the 20 years he spent in prison and his work for the innocent since his 1985 release. (Re-airs Sunday at 9 p.m. and 11 p.m., and Monday at 3 a.m.)
Sunday, March 6
10:15 a.m. Richard Whitmire, author of The Bee Eater: Michelle Rhee Takes on the Nation's Worst School District (Jossey-Bass, $24.95, 9780470905296), chronicles the personal and professional life of the former Washington, D.C. school chancellor. (Re-airs Sunday at 8 p.m. and Monday at 7 a.m.)
12 p.m. In Depth. Pauline Maier, author most recently of Ratification: The People Debate the Constitution, 1787-1788 (S&S, $30, 9780684868547), joins Book TV for a live interview. Viewers can participate in the discussion by calling in during the program or submitting questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter (@BookTV). (Re-airs Monday at 12 a.m.)
New Water for Elephants Trailer Gets Amazon Premiere
"Going directly to book fans," 20th Century Fox will debut a new trailer for Water for Elephants exclusively on Amazon.com today, according to the Hollywood Reporter, which noted that the trailer will be posted at 5 p.m. PST. The film, adapted from Sara Gruen's bestselling novel, is scheduled to be released April 22.
Books & Authors
Awards: B&N Discover; Indies Choice; PEN/Faulkner Fiction
The winners of Barnes & Noble's 2010 Discover Awards are The Disappeared by Kim Echlin (Black Cat) for fiction and The Autobiography of an Execution by David R. Dow (Twelve) in the nonfiction category. Each writer was awarded a cash prize of $10,000, and a full year of marketing and merchandising support from the bookseller.
Second place honors and $5,000 went to Eric Puchner's Model Home (Scribner) for fiction and The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot (Crown) for nonfiction. Nic Pizzolatto's novel Galveston (Scribner) and Siddhartha Mukherjee's The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer (Scribner) took third place honors, each receiving $2,500. The awards were presented yesterday in New York City.
Finalists for the 2011 Indies Choice Book Awards will be voted upon by ABA members this month. Winners will be announced April 7 and honored May 24 during ABA's Celebration of Bookselling Author Awards Luncheon at BookExpo America in New York. As a result of the recent merger of the Association of Booksellers for Children and ABA, this year balloting includes the E.B. White Read-Aloud Awards.
The shortlist for the 2011 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction includes:
A Visit From The Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan (Knopf)
The Collected Stories of Deborah Eisenberg by Deborah Eisenberg (Picador)
Lord of Misrule by Jaimy Gordon (McPherson & Co.)
Model Home by Eric Puchner (Scribner)
Aliens in the Prime of Their Lives by Brad Watson (Norton).
The winner of the $15,000 first prize will be announced March 15, with the four finalists receiving $5,000 each. All five authors will be honored during the PEN/Faulkner Award ceremony at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C., on May 7.
Ellen Meeropol's Writing and Bookselling Odyssey
"I'm a literary late bloomer," Ellen Meeropol said. The new author, whose novel House Arrest appeared last month from Red Hen Press, was a nurse practitioner for many years, and although she thought about writing fiction, she did not begin until 2000, when she arranged a writing sabbatical on an island off the coast of Maine for her husband, who was writing a book. "I was spending two months there," she says, "and suddenly it struck me that this is my time."
Four years later, as she continued to write, Meeropol gave up her nurse practitioner career and began working at the Odyssey Bookshop, South Hadley, Mass. She and Odyssey co-owner Joan Grenier had been friends for many years. "I bought so many books there and sometimes wrote shelf talkers that we had a running joke about me working there," Meeropol said. For several years, Meeropol was the events coordinator, but when she wanted more time to write, she began working part time. Eventually she wanted to write full time and cut her hours even more. Yet she remains busy at the store as a book group coordinator, fiction workshop leader and organizer of the annual book group meeting. She reads ARCs for signed first editions, introduces authors sometimes and helps at offsite events. "I love the store and very much want to continue being a part of it," she said.
Working at the Odyssey helped Meeropol deal with some of the hard realities of the publishing business. After an agent shopped House Arrest to large publishers, who passed on it, she told Meeropol that the book was a small press book and Meeropol should seek a publisher on her own. "Certainly it was pretty discouraging for most of the time," Meeropol said. "But all it takes is one editor saying, 'This is pretty good and I want to publish it.' " Happily, Meeropol found that editor at Red Hen Press.
Her knowledge of the business has helped even more now that she is promoting House Arrest. About four years ago, when she was Odyssey's event coordinator, she spoke at a writers' conference from a bookseller's point of view about what authors should do and not do on tours. "Two months ago, I went back to look at my notes for that talk," she said. Laughing, she added, "It's not so easy to put into practice! But it is fun to think of them as notes to myself. Part of the fun of being an author is being a bookseller as well."
No surprise about where House Arrest's "wonderful" launch party was held last month: the Odyssey Bookshop. Meeropol is appearing, too, at other bookstores such as Broadside Bookshop, Northampton, Mass., the Bookstore, Lenox, Mass., and Boswell Book Company, Milwaukee, Wis. On March 22, she will make a joint appearance at Porter Square Books, Cambridge, Mass., with Randy Susan Meyers, author of The Murderer's Daughters. (The two books share similar themes.) She will also appear at several book fairs, including the Virginia Festival of the Book and the Maine Festival of the Book.
The best part of the experience of having her book published is the interaction with readers, Meeropol said. "Writing a book, I spend years and years with characters in my head and on the page, and it's hard to imagine them in anyone else's head. Now I'm getting comments and e-mails and hearing from people in person. It's such a thrill."
In House Arrest, home-care nurse Emily Klein is assigned to make weekly prenatal visits to Pippa Glenning, a young cult member under house arrest for the death of her daughter during a solstice ceremony. Reluctant, Emily is determined nonetheless to provide the best care, but soon she faces a dilemma: Pippa Glenning must dance for Isis at the winter solstice ceremony but if she is caught leaving the house she won't be able to keep her baby. She needs Emily's help, and Emily confronts a range of questions involving rules, justice and healing.
Meeropol has another novel that's being shopped around at the moment. "Here we go again!" she said. The book is tentatively called Her Sister's Tattoo and is about two sisters in 1968 who lead a demonstration against the Vietnam War. "Something bad happens and they become estranged from each other," she said. "It's the story of the intersection of their political beliefs and family loyalties."
Despite all that's going on with her two books, Meeropol is not resting: she's revising a third book. She explained: "I started late and have to make up for lost time!"--John Mutter
Book Review: Townie
Townie by Andre, III Dubus (W. W. Norton & Company, $25.95 Hardcover, 9780393064667, February 2011)
In highly regarded novels like House of Sand and Fog and The Garden of Last Days, Andre Dubus III has displayed considerable dexterity in marrying a literary sensibility to an ability to tell a powerful story. Now, in this energetic account of his early days and the birth of his writing career, Dubus applies those same talents to memoir.
The son of an esteemed, if less than financially successful short story writer, Dubus grew up blue-collar Massachusetts mill towns, on the banks of the Merrimack River, with its "faint smell of sewage and diesel and drying mud, of dead fish and creosote." Dubus's father left Andre, his three siblings and their mother for a 19-year-old student, consigning the family to a life of financial hardship.
Whether as a matter of self-preservation on the mean streets of his home towns or as a way of gaining a sense of self-worth, Dubus turned to obsessive bodybuilding and soon felt confident enough to engage in brutal fistfights on those streets or in the city's noisy, smoky bars. But these many brawls, painted here in bright, primary colors, were accompanied by a growing sense of hollowness and desperation.
Interspersing work as a gas station attendant, carpenter and bartender with studies at the Massachusetts college where his father taught creative writing and then the University of Texas, Dubus eventually abandons a Ph.D. program in Marxist social science after only four days. Impelled by an urge he doesn't grasp at first, he begins to scratch out short stories, as writing slowly fills the thirst for meaning he had attempted to slake through violence. His description of the joy he experiences after completing his first "overwritten, sentimental story" convinces him "that if I wanted to stay this awake and alive, if I wanted to stay me, I would have to keep writing."
Through several shared episodes of actual or near violence with his father and from their common passion for storytelling, Dubus eventually comes to terms with his father's legacy and begins to heal the ache that grew from the latter's departure and serial marriages. Their reconciliation--after the elder Dubus is crippled at the scene of a roadside accident just as his son embarks on a tour to celebrate the publication of his first novel--is sketched in tender, observant strokes, culminating in the memoir's emotional climax, the moving story of their final night together watching a televised boxing match.
The flash of a knife or a clumsy fall in Andre Dubus III's fighting days could have brought his life to a sudden, violent end. Not least for the passionate story told in this resonant memoir, we can be happy he survived.--Harvey Freedenberg
Shelf Talker: Novelist Andre Dubus III recalls in intense detail his youthful battles on the streets of dying Massachusetts mill towns and the birth of his writing career.
Top-Selling Titles in Chicagoland and Milwaukee
The following were the bestselling books at independent bookstores in and around Chicago and Milwaukee during the week ending Sunday, February 27:
1. The Paris Wife by Paula Denise McClain
2. Room by Emma Donoghue
3. The Union Quilters by Jenn Chiaverini
4. A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness
5. The Help by Kathryn Stockett
1. Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand
2. Known and Unknown by Donald Rumsfeld
3. Triumph of the City by Edward Glaeser
4. Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua
5. Cleopatra by Stacy Schiff
1. The Postmistress by Sarah Blake
2. The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman
3. Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese
4. Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson
5. A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrich
1. Nurtureshock by Po Bronson
2. Zeitoun by Dave Eggers
3. The Big Short by Michael Lewis
4. Just Kids by Patti Smith
5. The King's Speech by Mark Logue
1. I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore
2. Silverlicious by Victoria Kann
3. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
4. Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool
5. Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
Reporting bookstores: Anderson's, Naperville and Downers Grove; Read Between the Lynes, Woodstock; the Book Table, Oak Park; the Book Cellar, Lincoln Square; Lake Forest Books, Lake Forest; the Bookstall at Chestnut Court, Winnetka; Women and Children First, Chicago; Boswell Book Company, Milwaukee; and Next Chapter Bookshop, Meqoun, Wis.
[Many thanks to the booksellers and Carl Lennertz!]
Top-Selling Titles in Florida
The following were the bestselling titles at Florida independent bookstores during the week ending February 27:
1. Swamplandia by Karen Russell
2. The Postmistress by Sarah Blake
3. Night Vision by Randy Wayne White
4. Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand
5. Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese
6. Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson
7. Little Bee by Chris Cleave
8. Known and Unknown by Donald Rumsfeld
9. Cleopatra by Stacy Schiff
10. The Paris Wife by Paula McLain
Reporting bookstore: the Book Mark in Neptune Beach, Inkwood Books in Tampa, Vero Beach Book Center and Books & Books in Coral Gables/Miami.
[Many thanks to the booksellers and Carl Lennertz!]