Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, May 25, 2011
Image of the Day: BEA Star Power
The star power at the Children's Book and Author Breakfast wowed the audience yesterday morning: (from l.): emcee Julianne Moore (Freckleface Strawberry: Best Friends Forever, Bloomsbury), Brian Selznick (Wonderstruck, Scholastic), Sarah Dessen (What Happened to Goodbye?, Viking/Penguin), Kevin Henkes (Little White Rabbit; Junonia, Greenwillow/Harpercollins), Katherine Paterson, author and National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature.
BEA Bytes and Bits
"Why do all of us want to hear stories? Why do some of us want to tell them?" Actor John Lithgow read these words from his upcoming book, Drama: An Actor's Education (Harper) to a packed house yesterday at an Insight Stage Signature Event.
"I've chosen not to stand at a podium," he said. "I'll just sit here and chat." Holding an ARC of his book, Lithgow spoke about his life on stage and off. He also read selections from the new memoir and took questions, ending the pre-signing portion of the event with a passionate recommendation worthy of the best indie bookstore handseller: "I'm dying for you to read the book."
At another Insight Stage event, Bloomsbury USA publishing director George Gibson and Dava Sobel discussed their work together as editor and author on her book A More Perfect Heaven: How Copernicus Revolutionized the Cosmos, which will be published in September.
Sobel's intriguing approach was to chronicle the history of the Copernican Revolution with a dramatic twist--the narrative history bookends her play, And the Sun Stood Still, an imagined dialogue between German mathematician Georg Joachim Rheticus and Copernicus during their months together. Sobel described her process as "knitting a narrative history into a play and then out again. I knew from the beginning this could not be a history lesson or an astronomy discussion."
Unbridled Books has established a reputation as a publisher of fiction, including the novels of Emily St. John Mandel (pictured here with co-publisher Fred Ramey). In a change of pace, Unbridled's fall list includes four nonfiction titles.
"The list developed as more heavily nonfiction than before," said Ramey, "but we'll likely be swinging back to fiction in the spring. People have been interested in the nonfiction we're showing here, though." At the booth, ARCs of one of the upcoming nonfiction titles, The Mistress Contract, are tucked inside brown paper bags featuring an enticing bookseller cautionary note: "Maybe you should read this ARC before you sell the book to your neighbors."
BEA YA Editors Buzz (from l.): Erica Sussman, editor of The Carrier of the Mark by Leigh Fallon (Harper); Margret Raymo, editor of Au Revoir Crazy European Chick by Joe Schreiber (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt); Courtney Bongiolatti, editor of The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin (S&S); Susan Chang, editor of Down the Mysterly River by Bill Willingham (Tor/Macmillan); moderator Jack Martin, New York Public Library; Alvina Ling, editor of Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Turner (Little, Brown).
Let's hear it for the boys! Eoin Colfer, Mac Barnett, Matt de la Pena, Jack Gantos, Jarrett J. Krosoczka (in full Thriller attire), and Jon Scieszka (from l.) discussed their new anthology to keep boys in books, Guys Read: Thriller, edited by Scieszka.
Nancy Pearl of Book Lust fame meets Art Spiegelman of Maus fame at the Knopf Meet the Authors party on Tuesday night at Cognac. Here Spiegelman explains to Pearl how tough it was to approach the beginning of his new Meta Maus, and yet he finally cut into the material "like a surgeon with a knife."
Harry Belafonte, Jr., flanked by his wife Pamela, and AARP The Magazine books editor Allan Fallow at the Knopf Meet the Authors party on Tuesday at Cognac.
Walkin' in a Wimpy Wonderland at BEA to celebrate Jeff Kinney's winter-themed book number 6, due in November.
BEA: ABA's Teicher Calls for New Business Models
At the American Booksellers Association's annual meeting, CEO Oren Teicher dispensed with the usual CEO report reviewing the association's activities of the past year and instead gave a wide-ranging talk outlining how booksellers and publishers "can work more closely together in the common goal of selling more books" and maintaining bricks-and-mortar bookstores' role as "the essential showroom in ensuring the sales of a broad spectrum of titles," a browsing experience no one else can offer.
Teicher called for publishers and booksellers to come up with "new and innovative ways of doing business" together and modernizing a business model that is "is creaking--perhaps even groaning--under the strain of rapidly accelerating technological and social change." He pointed to some recent changes in how publishers and booksellers do business: the agency model for e-books adopted by the major publishers; successful consignment models reinvented "for the 21st century" that Chelsea Green and Assouline have engaged in with several bookstores; extended dating for invoices; forgoing returnability, particularly on backlist, for additional discount; and consideration of co-op policies that "might be restructured to take into account both the shrinking number of traditional media outlets and the proliferation of online and social media avenues for book promotion."
He suggested that change is in the interest of publishers at a time when online retailers (read: Amazon) are "expanding their business models to include author acquisition and publishing." He added, "The time has come for all of us in the industry to stand up to those who would treat books as nothing more than a loss-leader in their march to become the world's dominant supplier of everything."
In recent months, the ABA board has been talking with publishers in the spirit that "recognizes the common ground and goals we share." New business models "must result in an increase sell-through of titles, to allow booksellers to pay for books as they are sold, and to further minimize returns." ABA is not "looking for a handout," Teicher emphasized.
In the digital age, he continued, bricks-and-mortar stores are more influential than ever as book showrooms. Their efforts include "staff picks and news about author events on the bookstore's website; the store's status updates on Facebook; the Tweets from both the store and individual booksellers; e-mails about sales and suggested titles; visits to schools and libraries to talk about new titles with students and book club members; offsite book sales at meetings, seminars and events; and much more."
Stores are embracing the digital age in other ways, he said, and are now beginning to sell e-books. "It is imperative today for bricks-and-mortar stores to also operate state-of-the-art, fully functional, e-commerce enabled websites. The simple fact is that--to most consumers--if you don't exist online, you simply don't exist." At the same time, he stated, e-books will not lead to the end of printed books. "We remain convinced that the lion's share of books sold in our member stores for the foreseeable future will be sold in traditional book format. Nothing can replace the physical book. Television didn't put radio and the movies out of business, and e-books won't make print books extinct."
Despite all the challenges, Teicher said, "I could not be more confident that if all of us in this business--booksellers, publishers, wholesalers and authors--work together, we will meet the challenges we face--and we will create a business environment where everyone grows and prospers."--John Mutter
One of the most anticipated Insight Stage sessions at this year's BookExpo was the return of "7x20x21," a set of mini-presentations in which seven speakers were limited to 20 slides, each of was held on the screen for just 21 seconds. Ben Greenman quickly got the crowd laughing with samples from his Museum of Silly Charts tumblr, such as "How Long It Took Me to Draw and Color in Each of These Bars." Other presentations ranged from the silly--Misha Glouberman's "How to Ask a Good Question in a Q&A"--to the extended elevator pitch--Aaron Shapiro's "Users Not Customers," based on his forthcoming book--with some earnest manifestos thrown in, such as Rita Meade's reflections on libraries and Kevin Smokler's defiant celebration of book lovers: "Reading makes me a glutton for life.... I do not read to hide from the world. I read to learn how to embrace it."
Rachel Rosenfelt even offered an unexpected change-up; asked to discuss the recent VIDA survey on the paucity of women writers at every major literary book review venue, she instead talked about creating her own website, The New Inquiry, to address what she saw as a gap in the cultural conversation. "Forget the pie charts," she concluded. "The future of women in criticism is women founders of magazines." Finally, Colson Whitehead gave a satirical sales pitch for the "Litmode 100," a modular writing device that would enable users to produce works in any genre, using any voice. His slides weren't even connected to the content--instead, he showed picture after picture of cubes (from the Rubik's Cube to a melting ice cube to Ice Cube), followed by a few pictures of cubs (and Cubs).--Ron Hogan
BEA: Celebration of Bookselling & Author Awards
A high point of the Celebration of Bookselling & Author Awards luncheon came when Tom Angleberger took the stage to accept the E.B. White Read-Aloud Middle Reader Award for The Strange Case of Origami Yoda. He opened up a huge sheet of green paper and, with the help of Peter Brown (l.), whose Children Make Terrible Pets won the E.B. White Read-Aloud Picture Book Award, he demonstrated how to fold an Origami Yoda. (Emcee Steve Bercu of Bookpeople, Austin, Tex., and new v-p of ABA is on the right.) Many people in the audience folded along with small sheets of green paper left on every table.
Among comments by authors in attendance:
Saying he appreciated all booksellers had done to help sell Children Make Terrible Pets, Peter Brown offered to "return the favor" by directing his reader to indies. "I hope my books make people walk into your stores, buy my books, buy other books and wind up handing you piles of money."
David Levithan, co-author of YA Honor Book Will Grayson, Will Grayson, said that the YA book world was full of wonderful people--"the people I should have gone to high school with. If I had, life would be very different."
Readers "still needs physical books--to see them, hold them, touch them, then feel them," said Jennifer Donnelly, winner of the YA Indies Choice Award for Revolution. "It's an old-fashioned thing, but I still like to buy my books from human beings."
Susan Casey, whose Wave was an Adult Nonfiction Honor Book, said, "I don't think there's anything better than getting lost in a bookstore for hours.'
On behalf of Laura Hillenbrand, whose Unbroken won the Adult Nonfiction Indies Choice Award, Jennifer Hershey, her editor, read an appreciative statement from the ailing author, then added that Hershey's own young daughter is beginning to understand what kind of job Hershey has. When the two were in Words Bookstore, Maplewood, N.J., together recently, they saw a big display of Unbroken. Her daughter said, "Look, Mommy. There are the books you made!"
Karl Marlantes, winner of the Adult Debut Indies Choice Award for Matterhorn, called the book's "success a near-perfect illustration of how independent bookstores broke a novel out to get an enormous number of readers." He also praised the many indies who donated part of the proceeds from the sale of the book to veterans organizations, which he called "an incredible act of being part of the community."
Noting that "the writing life is lonely, especially for those of us who write slowly," said Chang-rae Lee, whose The Surrendered was an Adult Fiction Honor Book. "I get to come out every three or four years and go around the country and reconnect with friends and colleagues at your stores, and I cherish that."
Jennifer Egan, whose A Visit from the Goon Squad was an Adult Fiction Honor Book, said that on her tour for the book last summer, in contrast to some of the ailing big-box stores, "indies seemed livelier than ever." She praised booksellers' spunk, saying, "You guys are so wily and crafty and such tough fighters." Indies, she continued, are "physical places where physical books and physical people meet. It's kind of a radical idea!'
Emma Donoghue, who won the Adult Fiction Indies Choice Award for Room, said that booksellers made all the difference in spreading the word about her book, which on the surface is a difficult sell. After reading ARCs, they promoted it to customers, saying, "You don't think you want to read this, but you do." Those readers then went on to use the same line with their friends--and Room found an audience.
Kevin Henkes, who was nominated for the Engaging Author Award, thanked booksellers for "making it now official that I'm somehow engaging."
Voted Most Engaging Author, Laurie Halse Anderson, who noted, "I guess I'm no longer a shy person," praised booksellers. "When I'm in your stores, I'm home, I'm not standing in front of strangers," she said. "Thank you for running businesses that are the heart and soul of the communities of America."--John Mutter
Notes: B&N and Kobo's New E-Readers
Yesterday, Barnes & Noble unveiled the highly anticipated new version of its Nook e-reader device. The six-inch Nook Simple Touch Reader is an E-Ink-based touch-screen device with a $139 price tag. Marketwatch noted that the new device, which will be available next month, is intended to replace the original Nook reader and is "designed to go directly against the popular Amazon Kindle in terms of price and features."
B&N CEO William Lynch, who said the company now has more than 25% of the digital book market, observed that the latest Nook is not a direct competitor with the Nook Color: "These two markets both have exclusive growth. We expect a lot of growth from both. There are people who are interested in reading, but are turned off by keys and buttons."
Peter Wahlstrom, an analyst at Morningstar Investment Services, told Bloomberg that B&N is "going back and targeting the user that wants something simple and easy. They are trying to segment their customer audience between someone who will pay for a bare bones version and someone who will pay up for a tablet."
CNet asked the "big question," which is "whether this e-reader is better than the Kindle." Each device's strengths and limitations were weighed and the verdict was that "as an actual piece of hardware, the new Nook appears to be the superior device and if given the choice between the new Nook at $139 and the Kindle Wi-Fi at $139, the Nook looks to be the better buy. However, things get a little trickier when you talk about the Kindle With Special Offers at $114 and the new Nook at $139. It's only $25, but $25 makes a difference for some folks."
When asked if there might be a Nook With Special Offers in the company's future, Lynch said "his answer was no--or more specifically, there will be 'No ads on the Nook'--so don't count on a new, cheaper version of this device arriving this year," CNet wrote.
Kobo introduced a $130 Kobo eReader Touch Edition on Monday and lowered the price of its Kobo Wireless eReader from $140 to $100. PC World reported that with a list price of $99.99, the Wireless eReader "is actually the first e-reader whose everyday price bridges the mythical $100 barrier, even if only by a penny." The Kobo eReader Touch Edition, which is on pre-sale now at Borders and Walmart, will ship in early June (for in-store purchases), and worldwide in July.
A gallery of bookshelves. The Guardian showcased favorite photos thus far from the Flickr group it created so readers could "post snaps of your bookshelves."
Vladimir Putin's reading list. The New Yorker's Book Bench blog explored the "odd and extensive Q&A that Gayne C. Young, a high-school English teacher and contributor to Outdoor Life magazine, managed to get with Putin," who said, "I have always loved and avidly read the novels of Jack London, Jules Verne and Ernest Hemingway. The characters depicted in their books, who are brave and resourceful people embarking on exciting adventures, definitely shaped my inner self and nourished my love for the outdoors."
Pegasus Books's wonderful sock puppets regularly recommend books to customers of the Berkeley, Calif., store. The latest in the series was done by Pegasus employee Colin Johnson about Mr. Wonderful by Daniel Clowes, who posted the video blurb on his website. We're wondering how Shelf Awareness's Buddha Vik would do as a sock puppet.
Book trailer of the day: the Regency Rogues series by Stefanie Sloane (Ballantine), which makes its debut this week with The Devil in Disguise.
Media and Movies
Media Heat: Howard Jacobson on The Finkler Question
Tomorrow on KCRW's Bookworm: Howard Jacobson, author of The Finkler Question (Bloomsbury, $15, 9781608196111), the winner of this year's Booker Prize. As the show put it: "It's an amazing novel in that it's many things at once: hugely comic, melancholic, philosophical and paradoxical. If that were not enough, it explores two seemingly unrelated subjects: the relationship between men and women, and just what it is that makes someone a Jew. We talk about how Jacobson accomplishes all this in a novel in which the main characters are men and 'Judaism' is not referenced."
Tomorrow on the Charlie Rose Show: Eric Greitens, author of The Heart and the Fist: The Education of a Humanitarian, the Making of a Navy SEAL (Houghton Mifflin, $27, 9780547424859).
Tomorrow on a repeat of the Daily Show: Jon Ronson, author of The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry (Riverhead, $25.95, 9781594488016).
Mr. Popper's Penguins Trailer
Fox has released the official trailer of the movie version of Mr. Popper's Penguins by Richard & Florence Atwater. The adaptation, directed by Mark Waters, stars Jim Carrey, Carla Gugino and Angela Lansbury. It will be released June 17. A movie tie-in edition is available from Little, Brown Books for Young Readers ($6.99, 9780316186469).
Poster for Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part 1
Calling it "another shameless plug for Twi-hard traffic," Deadline.com featured the first theatrical teaser poster for the Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part 1, which Summit Entertainment will release November 18.
Books & Authors
Awards: Indie Booksellers Choice; RSL Ondaatje Prize
The first annual Indie Booksellers Choice Awards, co-sponsored by Melville House Publishing and Shelf Awareness, were presented Monday night at Housing Works Bookstore in New York City. An SRO crowd was on hand as comedian David Rees and New York Times book reporter Julie Bosman announced the five books from indie publishers that were selected by independent booksellers.
"The award grew out of my distaste for most literary prizes," said Dennis Johnson of Melville House. "The point is usually to laud some individual or book that doesn’t really need the stroking. We wanted to come up with something that would better support the ecosystem we live in. The IBCA is good for the author, good for the bookseller, and good for the publisher, and so it’s good for art and industry."
The winners, whose books will be showcased in special displays by participating indie booksellers nationwide, are:
The Instructions by Adam Levin (McSweeney’s)
The Singer's Gun by Emily St. John Mandel (Unbridled)
Matterhorn by Karl Marlantes (Grove/Atlantic)
Wingshooters by Nina Revoyr (Akashic)
Edmund de Waal's The Hare with Amber Eyes won the £10,000 (about $16,100) Royal Society of Literature Ondaatje Prize, which honors a distinguished work of fiction, nonfiction or poetry evoking the spirit of a place.
The judges were Don Paterson, Ali Smith and Sarah Waters. Smith praised the book as a "work whose lightness, when it comes to dealing with the weight of history, is almost miraculous," while Waters called it "a very worthy winner of this important literary prize--a stunning piece of writing, conjuring up one memorable location after another with economy and grace."
The 2011 Ondaatje Prize shortlist also included The Butterfly Isles by Patrick Barkham, In a Strange Room by Damon Galgut, Saraswati Park by Anjali Joseph, Landed by Tim Pears and Red Plentyby Francis Spufford.
Attainment: New Titles Out Next Week
Selected titles appearing next Tuesday, May 31:
Dreams of Joy by Lisa See (Random House, $26, 9781400067121) continues the story of Chinese-American sisters begun in Shanghai Girls.
Trader of Secrets by Steve Martini (Morrow, $26.99, 9780061930232) is the latest mystery thriller featuring defense attorney Paul Madriani.
Age of Greed: The Triumph of Finance and the Decline of America, 1970 to the Present by Jeffrey G. Madrick (Knopf, $30, 9781400041718) explores the negative impact on the American public caused by the lust among many in the elite for personal wealth.
Book Brahmins: Cara Eisenpress and Phoebe Lapine
Cara Eisenpress and Phoebe Lapine met in seventh grade at the Fieldston School in the Bronx, N.Y. They bonded over oatmeal chocolate chip cookies and have been cooking together ever since. They started the popular food/lifestyle blog Big Girls, Small Kitchen in November 2008. Their first cookbook is In the Small Kitchen: 100 Recipes from Our Year of Cooking in the Real World (Morrow, May 24, 2011).
Cara Eisenpress graduated from Harvard in 2007 with an honors degree in Literature. She has worked as a prep cook, on-campus caterer, travel writer and editor (for Let's Go guidebooks on Europe and the U.S.) and editorial assistant at Little, Brown. She lives in Brooklyn.
Phoebe Lapine holds a B.A. in Urban Studies from Brown University. She spent her summers working at Harper's Bazaar, Sony Pictures Entertainment, waiting tables in New York City and studying Chekhov with the director of the Moscow Art Theater. After college, Phoebe worked in global marketing at L'Oreal, developing women's fragrance brands for Ralph Lauren. She lives in Manhattan.
On your nightstand now:
Cara: On my actual nightstand, my iPad loaded with Longreads on Instapaper. On my kitchen table: One Big Table by Molly O'Neill.
Phoebe: A nerdy answer, but the truth nonetheless: an advance copy of Jane Was Here by Sarah Kernochan, who happens to be my mother. On my desk/kitchen counter: How to Roast a Lamb by Michael Psilakis (which I stole from Cara).
Favorite book when you were a child:
Cara: The Boxcar Children series.
Phoebe: Grimms' Fairy Tales. The editions were passed down from my great grandfather. They had a great smell.
Your top five authors:
Cara: W.G. Sebald, Ernest Hemingway, Javier Marias, Joan Didion, Yasunari Kawabata.
Phoebe: Alice Munro, Milan Kundera, Ian McEwan, Oscar Wilde, Ruth Reichl.
Book you've faked reading:
Cara: Ulysses. Only to my English TF, via the paper I wrote on it.
Phoebe: Alexis de Tocqueville's Democracy in America. I managed to make it a third of the way through though!
Book you're an evangelist for:
Cara: Bittersweet: Recipes and Tales from a Life in Chocolate by Alice Medrich. It's chocolate like you've never seen it before.
Phoebe: The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down by Anne Fadiman. I might as well have started my own college independent study around this book--I made everyone around me go out and buy it.
Book you've bought for the cover:
Cara: Vegetarian Suppers from Deborah Madison's Kitchen. Those stuffed peppers just hooked me.
Phoebe: The Naked Chef Takes Off by Jamie Oliver. I was 14, and thought Jamie was so dreamy.
Book that changed your life:
Cara: Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace.
Phoebe: Comfort Me with Apples by Ruth Reichl. It made me want to be a food writer, though I didn't realize it at the time.
Favorite line from a book:
We're not sure we can get beyond "Isn't it pretty to think so?"--Ernest Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises.
Book you most want to read again for the first time:
Cara: The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie.
Phoebe: Through the Looking-Glass by Lewis Carroll.
Children's Review: How I Stole Johnny Depp's Alien Girlfriend
How I Stole Johnny Depp's Alien Girlfriend by Gary Ghislain (Chronicle, $16.99 hardcover, 208p., ages 12-up, 9780811874601, June 2011)
What's not to love about a title like that? It gets at both the improbability and the insanity at the core of this comical debut novel narrated by 14-year-old David Gershwin. David is spending the summer with his "famous therapist" father (his parents are divorced) in the village of Cornouille, on the "very edge of Normandy," 100 miles from Paris. He immediately becomes intrigued with one of his father's patients, Zelda, who was caught stealing food from a market outside Paris. One policeman says of Zelda, "She's a demon, a tigress, THE DEVIL!" It took four guys to immobilize her. Zelda insists she's from Vahalal and has come to Earth to find her "chosen one" and bring him back to her planet. "She's pretty in a scary sort of way," according to David. "Like something you'd really like to touch but that will probably bite." Zelda wants to get to Paris because Zook ("what you Earthlings call God") told her that's where she'll find her chosen one. After Zelda knocks out David's father and escapes, he decides it's too dangerous for David to stay, and he sends the teen back to his mother's in Paris. Zelda stows away in his mother's trunk.
To Gary Ghislain's credit, he makes it seem possible that Zelda truly is from another planet. Or she might be schizophrenic (though the hero's father insists, "No one is ever crazy, David"). But then how to explain her superhuman strength and her talent for Space Splashing ("the ability to be at two points in space at the same time")? It gets even better: Zelda points out to David her chosen one on the Internet--none other than Johnny Depp. But the only way she can be sure is to "sample" his DNA. She demonstrates on David--a French kiss. It's his first; he's a goner.
The farfetched framework succeeds because all of Ghislain's rules adhere. Even when others enter the story--David's stepsister, other "aliens" from Zelda's planet, additional police officers--they, too, are awed by Zelda's capabilities and witness her Space Splashing. It's as if everyone comes under her spell. And once a bond forms between David and Zelda, the narrator's stakes are high. So we as the audience believe (at the very least) that he believes these things are happening around him and to him. You have to read it to believe how well this holds together. This is a funny, touching exploration of summer love at its best-- the geeky guy gets the irresistible object of his dreams who's completely out of his league, and no one in his "real life" would believe it. This book should be in the hands of every teen male reader, and female readers will find a superhero champion in Zelda.--Jennifer M. Brown