Shelf Awareness for Monday, October 17, 2011


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

Scribner Book Company: The Wolves of Winter by Tyrell Johnson

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

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

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

News

AAP Sales for July: E-book Sales Slow Slightly

Net sales of books in July fell 5.2%, to $1.4 billion, according to 80 publishers reporting to the Association of American Publishers. For the first seven months of the year, net sales of books fell 6.2%, to $5.37 billion. E-book and downloadable audiobook sales again had the fastest gains, rising 105.3% and 26.7%, respectively.

The gain in e-books is smaller than it has been in each of the previous six months of the year, perhaps indicating a slight slowdown in the frenzied e-book buying of the many new owners of e-readers this year. (As usual, only some of the publishers--in July, just 17--reported e-book sales.) E-books represented 5.9% of total sales but 22.2% of general adult and children's/YA sales. For the first seven months of the year, e-book sales rose 152.8% to $560.5 million.

Adult paperbacks and mass market paperbacks again had some of the biggest losses in sales in the month, down 29.2% and 29%, while adult hardcovers staged a rebound, with sales rising 33.9%. (Vacation readers prefer either hardcovers or e-books?) Adult hardcovers are still down 17.8% for the year.

CATEGORY

SALES

% CHANGE

E-books

 $82.6 million

105.3%

Downloadable audiobooks

 $8.3 million

 26.7%

Adult hardcovers

 $91.2 million

 33.9%

 

 

 

Religious books

 $37 million

 -0.2%

Higher education

 $857.8 million

 -6%

Children's/YA hardcover

 $39.7 million

-11.9%

University press paperback

 $6.1 million

-18.7%

Children's/YA paperback

 $38.7 million

-22.6%

University press hardcover

 $4.5 million

-23.3%

Audiobooks

 $8.1 million

-25.5%

Adult paperback

 $77.5 million

-29.2%

Adult mass market

 $43.1 million

-29%

 


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


Bookstore Sales Up 11.8% in August

August bookstore sales jumped 11.8%, to $2.44 billion, compared to August 2010, according to preliminary estimates from the Census Bureau. For the year to date, bookstore sales have inched up 2.2%, to $10.474 billion.

Total retail sales in August rose 8.8%, to $402 billion, compared to the same period a year ago. For the year to date, total retail sales have risen 8%, to $3,062 billion.

So far this year, bookstore sales have been erratic, falling in January, but then rising from February through May, and falling in June and July before rebounding in August.

Note: under Census Bureau definitions, bookstore sales are of new books and do not include "electronic home shopping, mail-order, or direct sale" or used book sales.

 


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


New Bookstores: Book Shack; Grumpy Bookpeddler

The Book Shack, Erik Christensen's "new concept bookstore" in a former Borders location at the Independence Mall, Kingston, Mass., will be opening soon, the Wicked Local Kingston reported.

"We really want to bring a fun place to the community," he said, noting that the bookstore space will be used for poetry slams, comedy nights, radio shows and more, with a stage set up for this purpose. Christensen "wants to create a vibrant location that will be a destination for people seeking to be entertained while still keeping the bookstore a centerpiece of operations."

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Alan and Carol Wollard have opened the Grumpy Bookpeddler in Murfreesboro, Tenn., after relocating from Illinois.

"I've always been an avid reader," said Alan. "I always wanted to own a used bookstore.... We wanted to move to the South, and we wanted to be within an hour of a city that had both a (professional) football and hockey team. We also wanted some place that had cultural things to offer, such as a symphony."


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


Amazon's Publishing Gambit

Today's front page of the New York Times offers an updated look at the "striking acceleration" of Amazon's publishing program, which will release 122 books this fall in various formats, and announced last week that it had signed a reported $800,000 deal to publish a memoir by actress and director Penny Marshall.  

"Everyone's afraid of Amazon," said agent and e-book publisher Richard Curtis. "If you're a bookstore, Amazon has been in competition with you for some time. If you’re a publisher, one day you wake up and Amazon is competing with you too. And if you're an agent, Amazon may be stealing your lunch because it is offering authors the opportunity to publish directly and cut you out. It's an old strategy: divide and conquer."
 


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


Notes

Image of the Day: An Eye for Good Books

At the Great Lakes Independent Booksellers Association trade show, held over the weekend in Dearborn, Mich., Rhoda Wolff, general manager of Schuler Books & Music, Lansing, and author Christopher Moore tried on each other's glasses while discussing his forthcoming book, Sacre Bleu (Morrow, April 2012)
Photo: Carol Schneck
 

Oxford, Miss.: Where Literature & Game Day Coexist

During the past three decades, Oxford, Miss., "has become one of the South’s artiest and most literate college towns, a pint-size and much more navigable Austin, Tex.," Dwight Garner observed in his New York Times town, gown and shoulder pads profile of both Oxford and "a revived and increasingly modern" University of Mississippi, where traditional football Saturday's still begin with "tailgating in the Grove."
 
Garner has "slowly arrived at the opinion that it may be America’s best small city, at least for my needs, which include great bookstores, friendly dive bars and restaurants that do profound things with game birds, pulled pork, grits, delta catfish and oysters."

He noted that a key element of Oxford's modern renaissance began around 1979, with the opening of Richard and Lisa Howorth's Square Books and the arrival of Willie Morris from New York City to become writer-in-residence at Ole Miss.

"When I was in college, and while Faulkner was still alive, there wasn’t a single legitimate bookstore in Oxford," author Curtis Wilkie said. "There were a few spinning paperback racks. You could maybe buy a Mickey Spillane novel. That all changed when Square Books and Willie came to town."
 


Taylor Swift Donates 6,000 Books to Pa. Library

Country music star Taylor Swift teamed up with Scholastic to donate 6,000 volumes to the Reading, Pa., Public Library, near her hometown of Wyomissing. The volumes were divided equally among its main, northeast, northwest and southeast branches.

The Reading Eagle reported that library officials "learned of the donation in March during a call from Scholastic Books. They picked the books they wanted from the publisher: five copies each of 500 titles. Two copies of each title will be placed on the shelves, two others will be given as prizes and incentives for young patrons and the fifth will be kept in reserve."

Bronwen Gamble, library assistant director, said Swift's popularity may motivate more children and teens to read. A white star was placed on the spine of the donated books and a sticker inside acknowledges Swift's donation.

"She adds the coolness factor to reading," Gamble said.
 


Bookshop to Stay Open After All

Nancy Duniho, owner of the Corner-Stone Bookshop, Plattsburgh, N.Y., plans to keep her store open "for the foreseeable future" after discussing the possibility of selling with 15 potential buyers this fall, the Press Republican reported.

"I hadn't gotten anybody who seemed they were on the verge of buying it," she said, adding that the closure of a nearby Borders also affected her decision. "I had great encouragement from my clientele all summer long to stay open. They said they didn't want Plattsburgh to be without a bookstore."

Duniho has no timetable for how long she might stay open: "It's all very tenuous, just like life. When I go with the flow, I feel I'm doing what's right, what needs to be done."
 


Stieg Larsson's Journalism School Rejection Letter

A letter of rejection sent to Stieg Larsson ("applicant 493") from the Joint Committee of Colleges of Journalism in Stockholm will be sold at auction by Sotheby's in London December 15 "to help Expo, the anti-fascist, anti-discrimination organization and magazine he helped create," the Guardian reported.

The letter, which is expected to garner between £8,000 (US$12,449) and £12,000, is included with a one-off box set of his three novels.

"This is a letter saying 'you are not good enough to be a journalist' to a man who went on to create a supremely creative, crusading magazine which fought against the worsening tide of extreme right thinking and activity in Sweden," said Christopher MacLehose, who discovered and published the novels after Larsson's death. "He did things which no other Swedish journalist came anywhere near doing."

 


Media and Movies

Media Heat: Colson Whitehead on NPR's Fresh Air

This morning on Imus in the Morning: Siddhartha Mukherjee, author of The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer (Scribner, $18, 9781439170915).

---

Today on Tavis Smiley: Michael Lewis, author of Boomerang: Travels in the New Third World (Norton, $25.95, 9780393081817).

---

Today on the Ellen DeGeneres Show: Hilary Duff, author of Devoted (Simon & Schuster, $17.99, 9781442408555). She will also appear today on Chelsea Lately and E!'s Entertainment News.

---

Tonight on Entertainment Tonight: Kevin Sorbo, author of True Strength: My Journey from Hercules to Mere Mortal--and How Nearly Dying Saved My Life (Da Capo, $26, 9780306820366). He will also appear tonight on Hannity and tomorrow morning on Fox & Friends.

---

Tonight on the Daily Show: Ellen Schultz, author of Retirement Heist: How Companies Plunder and Profit from the Nest Eggs of American Workers (Portfolio, $26.95, 9781591843337).

---

Tonight on the Colbert Report: Harry Belafonte, author of My Song (Knopf, $30.50, 9780307272263).

---

Tomorrow on NPR's Fresh Air: Colson Whitehead, author of Zone One (Doubleday, $25.95, 9780385528078).

---

Tomorrow on Anderson Cooper 360: Herman Cain, author of This Is Herman Cain!: My Journey to the White House (Threshold, $25, 9781451666137).

---

Tomorrow night on the Daily Show: Calvin Trillin, author of Quite Enough of Calvin Trillin: Forty Years of Funny Stuff (Random House, $27, 9781400069828).

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Tomorrow night on the Colbert Report: Steven Pinker, author of The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined (Viking, $40, 9780670022953).


TV Movie: We Have Your Husband

We Have Your Husband, based on the book by Jayne Garcia Valseca with Mark Ebner (Berkley, $7.99, 9780425241783), premiers tonight on Lifetime. Teri Polo (Meet the Parents, Man Up) and Esai Morales (NYPD Blue) star in this true story of a woman whose husband is kidnapped by Mexican criminals.

 


Movie Release Dates: The Great Gatsby; Norwegian Wood

The Warner Bros. 3D film version of F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby will open December 25, 2012. Deadline.com reported that director Baz Luhrmann began filming his adaptation last month in Australia. The movie stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Tobey Maguire, Joel Edgerton, Carey Mulligan, Isla Fisher, Jason Clarke and Elizabeth Debicki.

---

Norwegian Wood, the film adaptation of Haruki Murakami's novel directed by Tran Ang Hung (Cyclo), will get its U.S. theatrical release by Red Flag in January "along with VOD while Soda will handle DVD releasing in mid-2012," Variety reported.
 


The Big Year: Story Behind a Birding Movie

NPR's Weekend Edition Sunday explored the story behind the story of The Big Year. The new film, based on Mark Obmascik's book The Big Year: A Tale of Man, Nature, and Fowl Obsession (movie tie-in edition: Free Press, $15, 9781451648607), opened over the weekend. It stars Steve Martin, Owen Wilson and Jack Black.

WKSU's Mark Urycki spoke with the author, as well as director David Frankel (The Devil Wears Prada, Marley & Me) and Greg Miller, one of the three men whose "big year," a 365-day marathon of birdwatching, was chronicled in the book and movie.
 



Books & Authors

Awards: German Peace Prize

Algerian writer Boualem Sansal was honored with the German Peace Prize, presented by the book industry at the Frankfurt Book Fair, "for his struggle for democracy in his homeland," the Associated Press reported. Previous winners of the Bookseller Association's annual prize include Orhan Pamuk, Vaclav Havel and Susan Sontag.

In his congratulatory remarks, German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said, "may his vision of a free and democratic society in Algeria become true."

Accepting the award, Sansal expressed his hope that it would encourage people in the region who are trying to liberate themselves from "vicious and archaic dictatorships."
 


Helping Main Street--and Bookstores--Succeed

Journalist Amy Cortese has written a slew of articles on intriguing topics like barefoot running and the turf wars of Prosecco makers. The subject she turned into her first book, Locavesting: The Revolution in Local Investing and How to Profit from It (Wiley, $22.95, 9780470911389), happened by chance after a sharp-eyed literary agent spotted an article she had written for the New York Times Magazine. Titled "Locavestors," a term Cortese coined to describe grassroots financial innovators, the piece featured the comeback of regional stock exchanges in the wake of the 2008 financial meltdown--and becomes ever more topical as the economy continues to sputter.

In Locavesting, Cortese explores the burgeoning "citizen finance" movement taking place across the country. "The book is a confluence of a lot of things I had been writing about--local food systems, sustainable business, entrepreneurship, and venture capital," she explained. "After the financial crisis hit, I started digging around and noticed that not only are people looking for alternatives, they're actually out there trying to create them."

Banking with local institutions, crowd-funding, cooperatives, investment clubs, direct public offerings and creating local stock exchanges are some of the ways residents are allocating resources to benefit local businesses--earning profits while helping to create stronger, more vibrant communities. As with "Buy Local" initiatives, which have shown that a 10% change in spending can have a big impact on a community, notes Cortese in Locavesting, so, too, can a similar shift in investment dollars.

Among the locavestors from coast to coast Cortese profiles in the book are nine police officers in Clare, Mich., who banded together to buy a beloved bakery. They changed its name to Cops & Doughnuts and turned the once-struggling enterprise into a regional sensation that has helped revitalize Clare's downtown. Another great example comes from the bookselling world: in Brooklyn, N.Y., where Cortese resides, Jessica Stockton Bagnulo and Rebecca Fitting opened Greenlight Bookstore in 2009, a venture funded partly by Fort Greene residents who saw a return on their investment after just a year. With community investing "you have a sense of connection, and that's what people wanted in that neighborhood," said Cortese.

Avid Bookshop owner Janet Geddis, who read Locavesting in a day, used Greenlight's model to help finance her store's bricks-and-mortar location in Athens, Ga., opening in mid-October. Ten "community lenders" gave loans in increments of $1,000, to be paid off within five years of the shop's opening. Geddis announced her plans in 2008, before the economy began its downward spiral. "It has been an adventurous but decidedly uphill battle ever since," she said. "I couldn't have put this store together with such success if it weren't for the local community."

Since Locavesting was published several months ago, Cortese has heard from an array of readers who are putting its ideas into practice, including financial advisors with clients looking for non-traditional investment opportunities and people involved in revitalizing or sustaining crucial retail districts in their towns. Main Street business owners and chamber of commerce members were among the attendees who turned out for Cortese's signing at BookTowne in Manasquan, N.J. Tonight, Copperfield's Books in Sebastopol, Calif., is co-hosting an event for Cortese with the Sonoma County GoLocal Cooperative, a network of locally-owned businesses, residents, non-profit organizations and government agencies.

More than 20 North Carolina residents are convening weekly this fall for a six-part Locavesting study group co-sponsored by Transition Hendersonville, a local chapter of an international movement focused on helping communities find more sustainable ways to live. After reading Cortese's book, Transition Hendersonville members Roger Bass and Karen Jackson decided to form the group. They put the word out to see if there was interest and were met with an enthusiastic response. "It seems people are ready for this idea," said Bass.

Several retirees, self-employed individuals, a college business professor and others have joined the study group. Members, whose investing know-how ranges from novice to fairly experienced, will be brainstorming ideas on how best to implement locavesting efforts in their area. As a first step toward supporting the local economy, participants were encouraged to buy the book from an indie retailer like Fountainhead Bookstore in Hendersonville.

Along with Greenlight Bookshop, Cortese spotlights two other bookstores in Locavesting. When financial difficulties threatened the future both of Brooklyn's Community Bookstore and Tsunami Books in Eugene, Ore., "bookworms in shining armor" rallied with moral and financial support. "As the dust settles around Borders, one thing that's becoming clear is people really want their independent bookstores," said Cortese. "They add to the quality of our lives and the character of our neighborhoods." --Shannon McKenna Schmidt


IndieBound: Other Indie Favorites

From last week's Indie bestseller lists, available at IndieBound.org, here are the recommended titles, which are also Indie Next Great Reads:

Hardcover

I Married You for Happiness: A Novel by Lily Tuck (Atlantic Monthly Press, $24, 9780802119919). "Lily Tuck's new novel is a gem. Sitting beside the body of her husband who has died unexpectedly while she was making dinner, Nina spends the whole night with his body, remembering their marriage of 43 years--the early years as well as the highlights, both the good and the difficult. Written with honesty by a woman who clearly understands relationships and all of the intimacies and secrets that go along with marriage, this is a novel to be savored." --Penny McConnel, Norwich Bookstore, Norwich, Vt.

The Orchard: A Memoir by Theresa Weir (Grand Central Publishing, $23.99, 9780446584692). "Weir's memoir is not only the story of her struggle as a troubled youth, but also of her acceptance into the hard life of a farmer's wife under an oppressive and controlling family matriarch. The Orchard is a love letter to her husband and to the life that they built together, as well as a love letter to nature and what nature will yield. It is also a tale of caution regarding the great harm that is done with pesticides and aggressive farming. Weir tells her story with grace, compassion, and unflinching honesty." --Calvin Crosby, Books Inc., Berkeley, Calif.

Paperback

The Cailiffs of Baghdad, Georgia: A Novel by Mary Helen Stefaniak (Norton, $15.95,  9780393341133). "Eleven year old Gladys Cailiff tells the story of the teacher that turned her small town upside down. In 1938, Grace Spivey came to town as a WPA-hired teacher. She believed in field trips, costumes, and reading aloud from The Thousand Nights and a Night. But the real trouble started when she decided to revive the annual town festival. Great storytelling is alive! The reader will delight in the characters (and the camels) in this tale of the Depression-era South." --Barbara Theroux, Fact & Fiction, Missoula, Mont.

For Teen Readers

Ashfall by Mike Mullin (Tanglewood, $16.95, 9781933718552). "When the Yellowstone supervolcano erupts and spreads ash for hundreds of miles around, Alex must journey from his home in Iowa to find his family in Illinois. The rules of civilization vanish, and Alex can only trust himself on his harrowing journey. At its heart, Ashfall is a coming-of-age tale--albeit one that will haunt you and make you want to enroll in a survivalist class immediately." --Cathy Berner, Blue Willow Bookshop, Houston, Tex.

[Many thanks to IndieBound and the ABA!]


Book Review

Book Review: Lions of the West

Lions of the West by Robert Morgan (Algonquin, $29.95 hardcover, 9781565126268, October 18, 2011)

Even if you don't know much about history, you've probably heard about the significant people and milestones of the American westward expansion: the Alamo, Santa Anna, the Oregon Trail, Lewis and Clark, mountain men. In Lions of the West, award-winning author Robert Morgan (Gap Creek; Boon) tells the story of the American march to the Pacific Ocean through the lives of nine men, including Thomas Jefferson and Johnny Appleseed.

Although Morgan devotes each chapter to a specific player, he emphasizes the connections between individuals and events by reintroducing them in different contexts. Some of the short biographies start with background information and some are interrupted by tangents, but Morgan ties it all together in an easy-to-read, attention-grabbing style. We're caught up in the excitement, adventure and danger of life in the early West.

Relying on primary sources and established research, Morgan puts aside the whitewash to tell a story that is "by turns tragedy and romance, horror and thrilling struggle." He succeeds in his goal "to create a living sense of the westward expansion" by keeping the focus of Lions of the West wide enough to discuss a variety of issues, such as Andrew Jackson's despicable treatment of the Creeks and Kit Carson's and John Frémont's odd codependency, as well as how David Crockett developed his marksmanship skills and why mules were the animals of choice for Indian scouts.

The best and the worst in American life can be seen in the winning of the West. The seemingly unclaimed lands promised opportunity, but the westward journey also created a sense of entitlement. As U.S. citizens moved onto the plains and beyond, they settled wherever there was good land or good game, without regard to national boundaries. Indeed, as Morgan notes, the federal government "only followed and made official what the vast movements of the rapidly growing population to the west had already made fact." Mexicans and Native Americans had decidedly different viewpoints.

It's fitting that Morgan closes with John Quincy Adams, one of the few people to have witnessed--firsthand or through his parents--the growth of the continental United States from the 13 colonies to the Mexican Cession. Just 14 months after Adams's death, gold was discovered at Sutter's Mill, leading to California statehood and rumblings of civil war. --Candace B. Levy, freelance editor blogging as Beth Fish Reads

Shelf Talker: History as it should be told: through colorful biographical sketches, Morgan presents the unvarnished story of the annexation and settling of the American West.

 


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