Shelf Awareness for Thursday, March 24, 2011
Quotation of the Day
Book Industry 'Needs to Understand the Data Being Generated'
"The book business is now changing more rapidly than any other form of physical media. At this cusp, the industry needs to understand the data being generated, as well as consumed, by customers. In the past year, 25% of those surveyed said they'd read both e-books and print books. Five percent read more e-books than print books.... Readers tend toward a favorite author, category, personal recommendations, or flap text. Thirty percent of books are still discovered in the brick-and-mortar bookstore, but many then purchase in e-book format. The discovery model for publishers on e-readers is shifting; people buy a narrower set of books, because they have no idea what’s out there. They need a new way to discover books, but brick-and-mortar stores are still the best advertising.... The challenge now for booksellers is to merge the dot-com website, mobile devices, and brick-and-mortar stores for a seamless experience."
Image of the Day: Tiger Blood?
In response to DIESEL's "tiger display" (Shelf Awareness, March 22, 2011), 57th Street Books, Chicago, Ill.--with a little help from strategically-placed Post-it notes--presented "All Things Tigers, The Warmth of Other Tigers, Apollo's Tigers, Body Tiger, All the Tigers are Here, The Tiger's Wife, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, Moonwalking with a Tiger, Never Say Tigers...."
Notes: B&N Sale May Be a Bust; Joseph-Beth Alters Plans
Barnes & Noble "is likely to end its months-long search for a buyer without a sale of the company," Bloomberg reported. Five people with knowledge of the bidding process said that "private-equity firms and strategic bidders have backed away from the auction.... Interest from at least seven potential buyers waned after the first round of bidding."
Joseph-Beth Booksellers has abandoned a plan to close its Fredericksburg, Va., store (Shelf Awareness, March 18, 2011) and will place the bookshop up for auction along with the company's other four stores in Lexington, Ky.; Cincinnati, Ohio; and Memphis, Tenn., as well as its health and wellness store in Cleveland, Ohio. On Tuesday, attorneys for Joseph–Beth withdrew a request to immediately close the Village at Towne Centre location. A federal bankruptcy court judge had been scheduled to consider that request yesterday, the Free Lance-Star reported.
When Joseph-Beth filed for bankruptcy protection last November, the company's goal was to reach agreement with its creditors, close underperforming locations and emerge intact, but company president Neil Van Uum told the Lexington Herald-Leader, "We obviously aren't where we wanted to be. We went into this thing feeling pretty good about getting a plan of reorganization together. As things go, we were not able to come into agreement with and between our creditors."
The future of the company "now points to an auction to be held no later than April 27," the Herald-Leader wrote. While Van Uum expects bids from liquidating companies, he also expressed his intentions to buy the company and continue the "25-year relationship we've established in Lexington with all our partners and customers.... I'm committed to the stores going on." The bid deadline is April 19.
Now that Amazon has its own appstore (Shelf Awareness, March 23, 2011), TechCrunch's M.G. Siegler suggested that the time has come for Amazon to market its own Android devices. Having experimented with the new Appstore for Android, Siegler sees "the brilliance of the maneuver. In many ways, Amazon just came out of nowhere and beat Google at their own game--on their own devices. At the same time, some of the processes involved in Amazon’s Appstore are laughable. And they point to a very obvious fact: Amazon needs to build their own Android devices. Pronto."
Predicting that that Amazon could lead the way to cheaper tablets, Fortune wrote that the company "already has a media ecosystem with movies, music and TV shows. It also has a lot of credit card numbers and has demonstrated its ability to build an Android One-Click App Store which is in a lot of ways better than Google's own. Oh, and it sells a few e-books on this device called a Kindle. Why not make an Android Kindle (Kindroid?) that ties it all together?"
Effective April 1, Tedford G. Marlow will replace Joel Silver as president of Canadian chain retailer Indigo Books & Music. Quillblog reported that Silver will be appointed to the company's board of directors and lead Trilogy Growth, a partnership with Trilogy Retail Enterprises, Indigo's majority shareholder. Marlow, a current Indigo board member, most recently served nine years as the global president for Urban Outfitters. and has held senior positions at Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue and Limited, Inc.
In other changes, Kay Brekken, senior v-p of finance, will be promoted to CFO, also effective April 1. She succeeds outgoing CFO and COO Jim McGill, who will continue as Indigo's COO until July.
A pair of BBC series--Faulks on Fiction and My Life in Books--have boosted book sales by almost £500,000 (US$812,480), according to Nielsen BookScan data. The Bookseller reported that "sales of the books featured in Sebastian Faulks's four-part series on 'the brilliance of the British novel and its characters' have jumped by 55% since the beginning of February--leading to approximately 26,000 (£170,000) extra sales through U.K. bookshop tills. In addition, the official tie-in to the TV series, published by BBC Books, has sold 6,600 copies, taking £100,000." Books recommended by celebrities on Anne Robinson's My Life in Books series during the past four weeks increased by 20%, an extra 26,000 copies, or £210,000."
The Village Voice noticed an A+ "Literary Inspection Grade" that Three Lives & Co. bookshop in Greenwich Village awarded itself and proudly displayed. The clever knock-off of the restaurant-rating letter grades doled out by New York City's Department of Health "is well-deserved," the Voice added.
The Up Center, a regional organization that helps families in need and people with disabilities, has opened a bricks-and-mortar bookstore in Norfolk, Va. The Virginian-Pilot reported that Up Center Books, which opened yesterday at 1011 W. 25th St., "provides job training for homeless and extremely low-income adults who typically have trouble getting employment, aiming to help them move on to get jobs elsewhere." Since 2004, the Up Center had been running an online retail operation, called Spotlight Books, selling donated used books.
In honor of the legendary actress who died yesterday, Jacket Copy featured a "list of 16 books about Elizabeth Taylor, the big picture," and NPR's Rachel Syme recommended three books "I think are most worth reading if you want to remember her talent, beauty, and drive."
Noting that "the cooking population inevitably looks forward to that next outstanding cookbook that will truly inspire just as we await the next Great American Novel," Foodily suggested that some of the "reverend titles that belong to Victorian novels and Modernist tragedies were really meant to be cookbook titles." The proof is in the literary pudding, as shown by Foodily's The Cookbook that Never Was and The Cookbook that Never Was, Part II.
In retrospect, this one seems inevitable. Modern Residential Design featured Belgian designer Corentin Dombrecht's Cat Library, a modular bookcase that is "as much for cats as it is for human users." The feline friendly bookcase comes in "three modular parts made of birch plywood boxes that stack into a gridded storage system with a little staircase rising diagonally. The cool thing is that it can be set up backwards or forwards to conceal or reveal the paw-sized steps."
Here's a dilemma many of us can identify with: On the National Post's Afterword blog, Mark Medley confessed his addiction to book hoarding, noting that "the problem, in my opinion, is not the number of books I own, but that I am unable to get rid of any of them. I own some terrible, terrible books--you wouldn't believe how many crap books get published in this country--but cannot, for the life of me, part with a single one. I am a book hoarder, which, in my line of work, is a troublesome problem to have. I had already acquired a (fairly) impressive collection of books before embarking on a career in arts journalism, a career that goes hand-in-hand with free books."
Braving dangerous territory, Flavorwire dared to select 10 movies that were better than the book, noting the commonly held belief "that film adaptations of novels are always inferior to the original isn't always borne out by the facts."
Book trailer of the day: The Four Purposes of Life: Finding Meaning and Direction in a Changing World by Dan Millman (H.J. Kramer/New World Library), his first work of new teachings in 12 years.
Media and Movies
Media Heat: Sweet Valley Confidential
Saturday on NPR's All Things Considered: Francine Pascal, author of Sweet Valley Confidential: Ten Years Later (St. Martin's Press, $21.99, 9780312667573).
Sunday on CBS's Sunday Morning: Del Quentin Wilber, author of Rawhide Down: The Near Assassination of Ronald Reagan (Holt, $27, 9780805093469).
This Weekend on Book TV: International Politics & Zombies
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 26
Throughout the weekend, Book TV will feature interviews and panels from the 2011 Virginia Festival of the Book, held March 16-20 in Charlottesville.
8 a.m. In an event hosted by Politics and Prose Bookstore, Washington, D.C., Izzeldin Abuelaish, author of I Shall Not Hate: A Gaza Doctor's Journey on the Road to Peace and Human Dignity (Walker & Co., $24, 9780802779175), argues for an end to the bloodshed between Israelis and Palestinians. (Re-airs Sunday at 10 p.m.)
11 a.m. Douglas Waller, author of Wild Bill Donovan: The Spymaster Who Created the OSS and Modern American Espionage (Free Press, $30, 9781416567448), recounts the life of the man considered by many the father of the CIA. (Re-airs Saturday at 7 p.m. and Sunday at 6 a.m.)
9 p.m. Del Quentin Wilber, author of Rawhide Down: The Near Assassination of Ronald Reagan (Henry Holt, $27, 9780805093469), details the Secret Service and White House response to the attempted assassination. (Re-airs Sunday at 10 a.m.)
10 p.m. After Words. Jerry DiColo interviews Leah McGrath Goodman, author of The Asylum: The Renegades Who Hijacked the World's Oil Market (Morrow, $27.99, 9780061766275). Goodman presents an inside look at the New York Mercantile Exchange. (Re-airs Sunday at 9 p.m. and Monday at 12 a.m.)
Sunday, March 27
7 a.m. Brian Greene, author of The Hidden Reality: Parallel Universes and the Deep Laws of the Cosmos (Knopf, $29.95, 9780307265630), talks about the possibility of there being multiple universes and explains how this would change our understanding of reality. (Re-airs Sunday at 7 p.m.)
9:30 a.m. Daniel Drezner, author of Theories of International Politics and Zombies (Princeton University Press, $14.95, 9780691147833), examines the way different theories of international relations hold up when Zompies are the enemy. (Re-airs Sunday at 8:30 p.m.)
Television: Eating with the Enemy
James Gandolfini (The Sopranos) is set to play another Jersey guy--Bobby Egan. Deadline.com reported that HBO Films has acquired the book Eating with the Enemy: How I Waged Peace with North Korea from my BBQ Shack in Hackensack by Egan and Kurt Pitzer. The project is a co-production between Tribeca Productions and Gandolfini’s Atta Boy Productions.
Books & Authors
Awards: Warwick Prize; Best Translated Book Finalists
Peter Forbes won of the £50,000 (US$81,248) Warwick Prize for Writing for his book Dazzled and Deceived: Mimicry and Camouflage. The biennial prize from the University of Warwick "is an international cross-disciplinary award open to any genre or form of writing."
Michael Rosen, chair of the judging panel, said Dazzled and Deceived "was singled out for a number of reasons. It’s a book about scientific concepts; it’s a book about art and it’s actually an exciting read because Forbes does what all good storytellers do--he reveals and conceals in equal measure. It is also a book of massive surprises. How does he bring the surrealists into this? I was delighted to revisit my old friends the melanin moths who were the standby of A-Level and first year university teaching about evolution. At one moment I thought the whole story was going down the pan. Would my education be in ruins? But no, Forbes pulled the moths from the fire!"
The Warwick Prize shortlist also included The Wasted Vigil by Nadeem Aslam, The Memory of Love by Aminatta Forna, The Literature Police: Apartheid Censorship and its Cultural Consequences by Peter D McDonald, What Color is the Sacred by Michael Taussig and White Egrets by Derek Walcott.
---Three Percent, the University of Rochester's translation website, has chosen the poetry and fiction finalists for the 2011 Best Translated Book Awards. To see them, click here. The winners will be announced on Friday, April 29, as part of the PEN World Voices Festival.
Book Brahmin: Edward Hoagland
Best known for his essays on travel and nature, Edward Hoagland has written more than 20 books, both fiction and nonfiction, and his newest one, Sex and the River Styx (Chelsea Green, February 2011), focuses on aging. He worked at the Barnum & Bailey Circus while attending Harvard in the early 1950s and later traveled the world writing for Harper's, National Geographic and other magazines. He received two Guggenheim Fellowships, and in 1982 was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters. In 2005, he retired from a teaching position at Bennington College in Vermont. A native New Yorker, he divides his time between Vermont and Martha's Vineyard.
On your nightstand now:
Here on Earth by Tim Flannery, The View from Lazy Point by Carl Safina and Algonquian Spirit, edited by Brian Swann.
Favorite book when you were a child:
Chanco: A U.S. Army Homing Pigeon--which I inscribed in 1942 as "the greatest book in the world"--by Helen Orr Watson and, later, Kipling's The Jungle Book. Although the pair of homing pigeons my father bought me flew away, I was thrilled, 50 years later, to be roared at by a real-life Shere Khan on a forest trail in Tamil Nadu.
Your top five authors:
Tolstoy, Shakespeare, Homer, Dickens, Cervantes.
Book you've faked reading:
Remembrance of Things Past. I haven't actually faked it, just been closed-mouthed about not having undertaken it.
Book you're an evangelist for:
Those by friends like Geoffrey Wolff, David Markson and Gretel Ehrlich, and Thomas Mann's Confessions of Felix Krull, Turgenev's A Sportsman's Notebook, Lawrence Millman's Our Like Will Not Be There Again, Henderson the Rain King and Seize the Day by Saul Bellow. And Bernal Diaz's, Benvenuto Cellini's and James Baldwin's memoirs.
Book you've bought for the cover:
Bernard Malamud, for his kind and delicious name.
Book that changed your life:
Faulkner, collectively, because at first I wanted to be a novelist. In 1968, at 35, I invented the essay form for myself, later reading Montaigne and George Orwell.
Favorite line from a book:
"Call me Ishmael."
Book you most want to read again for the first time:
Writers that have been particularly generous to you:
John Berryman, Archibald MacLeish, Philip Roth, Alfred Casey.
Book Review: Emily, Alone
Emily, Alone by Stewart O'Nan (Viking Books, $25.95 Hardcover, 9780670022359, March 2011)
First met in O'Nan's Wish You Were Here, 80-year-old Emily Maxwell, Henry's widow for almost seven years, is used to being alone. She enjoys a comfortable friendship with her ancient Springer spaniel, Rufus, and parses out her days in circumscribed ways that suit her. On Tuesdays, she has breakfast at a local restaurant with her sister-in-law, Arlene; on Wednesdays, Betty, the cleaning lady, comes to the house. Betty also cleans for Arlene, so she often acts as interlocutor, interpreter and benign tale-bearer between the two women. Arlene, terrible driver that she is, has been designated driver for the duo's Tuesday morning forays because Emily hasn't driven for many years. One morning, Arlene has a slight stroke in the restaurant, and that event changes the status quo.
Emily has been content to listen to her favorite classical music radio program, work on a crossword puzzle, eat when and what she pleases and take a brief nap in Henry's chair if she feels like it. Now, she finds herself called upon to wait on Arlene. She doesn't begrudge Arlene her time; it's simply an unexpected alteration. This change sets in motion several others.
Henry's car is an enormous Oldsmobile, so, after due consideration, Emily buys a more suitable car, one that gets better gas mileage and is easier to handle. With that purchase, Emily is no longer hostage to Arlene's schedule. She can get to the library and the grocery store on her own, even go places occasionally without Arlene. Her world opens up, but some things don't change. She marks the passing year by visits from her children at Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas--and the very special week spent every summer at Chautauqua. She still cannot love her daughter-in-law; is still disappointed in her daughter, Margaret, a recovering alcoholic; and her grown grandchildren still can't manage to send thank-you notes in a timely fashion, if at all.
Woven through her everyday life are Emily's reflections on herself and the world around her: she knows that she likes to have her own way and pouts if she doesn't get it; puzzles over why her neighbor stands on her porch at 3 a.m., stark naked in the light of the moon (but she would never ask); finds fault with the Garden Show and the Art Museum exhibit-- and knows that she is simply flailing her own important air; no one else is paying attention.
For all of this, O'Nan presents the reader with a portrait that transcends the merely mundane, as Emily recalls happy times with family and friends, many of whom are now gone, and anticipates her own mortality with an enviable serenity.--Valerie Ryan
Shelf Talker: At 80, Emily Maxwell muses about her life, the loss of good friends, the joys and disappointments brought about by her children and grandchildren, and contemplates her own mortality. Never morbid, Emily's insouciance and self-knowledge make enjoyable reading.
Top-Selling Titles in Florida Last Week
The following were the bestselling titles at independent bookstores in Florida during the week ended Sunday, March 20:
1. The Paris Wife by Paula McLain
2. Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese
3. Swamplandia! by Karen Russell
4. Bringing Adam Home by Les Standiford and Joe Matthews
5. Love You More by Lisa Gardner
6. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
7. The Girl Who Fell from the Sky by Heidi W. Durrow
8. The Tiger's Wife by Tea Obreht
9. Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson
10. The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman
Reporting bookstores and their handselling favorites:
Inkwood Books, Tampa: The Surrender by Chang Rae Lee
Book Mark, Neptune Beach: The Revenge of the Radioactive Lady by Elizabeth Stuckey-French
Books & Books, Coral Gables, Miami Beach, Bal Harbour: I Shall Not Hate by Izzeldin Abuelaish
Vero Beach Book Center: Love You More by Lisa Gardner
[Many thanks to the booksellers and Carl Lennertz!]
Top-Selling Titles in Chicagoland and Milwaukee Last Week
The following were the bestselling books at independent bookstores in the Chicago and Milwaukee areas during the week ended Sunday, March 20:
1. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
2. The Tiger's Wife by Tea Obreht
5. The Paris Wife by Paula McClain
6. The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman
6. Open City by Teju Cole
7. Just Kids by Patti Smith
7. The Postmistress by Sarah Blake
9. The Wise Man's Fear by Patrick Rothfuss
10. Operation Family Secrets by Frank Calabrese, Jr.
10. Sing You Home by Jodi Picoult
Reporting bookstores and their handselling favorites:
Boswell Book Company, Milwaukee: The Bedwetter by Sarah Silverman
Books & Co., Oconomowoc: Open City by Teju Cole
Anderson's, Naperville and Downers Grove: Wither by Lauren Destefano
Book Stall at Chestnut Court, Winnetka: Three Stages of Amazement by Carol Edgarian
Book Table, Oak Park: Operation Family Secrets by Frank Calabrese, Jr.
Book Cellar, Lincoln Square: Blood, Bones and Butter by Gabrielle Hamilton
57th St. Books, Chicago: Helvetica and the NYC Subway System by Paul Shaw
Lake Forest Books: Rodin's Debutante by Ward Just
Next Chapter, Mequon
Read Between the Lynes, Woodstock
Seminary Co-op, Chicago: Iphigenia in Forest Hills by Janet Malcolm
Women and Children First, Chicago: Annabel by Kathleen Winter
[Many thanks to the booksellers and Carl Lennertz!]