Shelf Awareness for Friday, November 4, 2011
Sneak Peek: B&N's Nook Tablet
Barnes & Noble will launch its much-anticipated Nook Tablet November 16 for $249, according to Engadget, which acquired documents confirming the launch of a 7-inch screen device that "will end up being a dead-ringer for the Nook Color that already exists." The Nook Color's price will drop to $199 (with Hulu Plus) and the Nook Simple Touch to $99. Pre-orders begin November 7, with in-store demonstrations starting November 15.
Engadget noted the similarity of the Nook Tablet to the Nook Color, "even in functionality; in fact, B&N simply says that it offers 'everything the Nook Color [does] + the best in HD entertainment.' "
TechCrunch asked: "So, what exactly does the extra $50 net you? Well, double the amount of RAM, for one thing: the Nook Tablet pits 1GB against the Kindle Fire's 512. What's more, the Nook Tablet takes microSD cards, so media hoarders will be able to lug entire seasons of Doctor Who around on a whim. B&N also appears to have quite the media environment built up for their new tablet: a closer look at the leaked imaged confirms support for Netflix, Hulu Plus, and Pandora right out of the gate. In short, Amazon's going to have a real fight on their hands soon."
General Retail Sales: October Gains, Holiday Concerns
Slow growth in October's retail sales could be a troubling sign for the holiday shopping season, "suggesting that Americans were slowing down spending and hunting for discounts," the New York Times reported. Thomson Reuters said sales at stores it tracks rose 3.4%, which was below analysts' expectations of a 4.5% gain.
"I think it’s going to be a turbulent, tough holiday," said David Bassuk of AlixPartners. "We’ve got the consumer in a real value mode.... The retailers are optimistic as always, [but] unemployment remains tough, the stock market remains turbulent, housing prices are way down, the consumer confidence is at real lows."
The luxury goods segment of the retail market had positive, if still underperforming, results. Saks "posted one of its lowest same-store sales numbers for the year" with an increase of 1.8% (against expectations of 5.4%), and Nordstrom's 5.4% was "one of the biggest increases reported, although analysts had expected 6.4%," the Times noted. But SpendingPulse's Michael McNamara said other data showed "luxury momentum seems to be holding."
The Wall Street Journal reported that the National Retail Federation expects total retail spending for November and December to rise 2.8%, compared to a 5.2% increase in 2010. Shoppers are expected to spend 4.6% less this year on gifts, or an average of about $516.
Bookshop Santa Cruz Turns 45
Congratulations to Bookshop Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, Calif., which is celebrating its 45th anniversary this week. Today it is holding a 20% off sale for its Readers Club members and in the evening will have a birthday party featuring the Hot Damn String Band. Tomorrow the store is offering 20% for the general public.
The store is also holding a birthday trivia contest with 45 questions about store personalities and events. The person with the most correct answers wins a $150 gift certificate to Bookshop Santa Cruz.
Thanking the store's customers, Casey Coonerty Protti, Bookshop Santa Cruz's second-generation owner, said, "With all the challenges we've faced during the last 45 years, including earthquakes, competitors and the digital age, we've enjoyed every minute because we face down these challenges in a community as vital and supportive as Santa Cruz."
Water Street Bookstore: 20 Years & Counting
Water Street Bookstore, Exeter, N.H., is celebrating its 20th anniversary this month and is hosting on open house this evening that will be attended by Dan Brown, author of The Da Vinci Code, who will chat and sign copies of his books.
The Wire reported that "online markets and digital books threaten to debase the experience of reading to its most impersonal form, but [Water Street owner] Dan Chartrand's approach to his independent bookstore stands in the way."
"It's not my job to sell stuff. It's my job to build community," said Chartrand. "My job has evolved. It's about what we do together.... I've come to understand in the last five years, it's not just, 'Hey, buy this book,' it's 'Hey, talk about this.' That's what's changed for me." He also praised his downtown location as a key ingredient in his success: "People love the streetscape of Exeter and want to support the business there."
Following Up on Banned Books Week
Following Banned Books Week, the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, a sponsor, is asking booksellers to complete a brief survey online aiming to improve the event on the eve of its 30th anniversary next year.
"Most people have no idea that there are hundreds of challenges to books in schools and libraries every year," ABFFE president Chris Finan said. "We want to hear from booksellers to ensure that they have the tools they need to explain to their customers the importance of the fight for free speech."
Image of the Day: Ernie's All Growed Up
At the Kensington offices celebrating the publication of The Importance of Being Ernie: From My Three Sons to Mad Men, a Hollywood Survivor Tells All (Citadel): Barry Livingston with Kensington director of publicity Karen Auerbach.
Former Borders Booksellers 'Pop-Up' on NYC Streets
Aaron Shapiro, CEO of digital agency HUGE and author of Users Not Customers: Who Really Determines the Success of Your Business, hired several former Borders staff members to sell his book this week from mobile pop-up bookstores on the streets of New York, Adweek reported.
On his blog, Shapiro wrote: "When Borders began liquidating its 399 stores this summer, nearly 11,000 employees lost their jobs. Today a handful of these individuals took to the streets of New York City to sell books again--this time, their mission, to communicate to businesses that it’s time to adapt to the digital age or else risk the same fate as their former employer."
Shapiro, who also purchased a billboard to highlight his efforts, concluded: "Learn more by reading my book--a former Borders employee would be happy to sell it to you."
J.K. Rowling's Pottermore website, which had been planning to emerge from closed beta status in October, now features this message: "Pottermore is currently unavailable. We are making important updates to the site, which may take some time."
The Pottermore Insider blog offered an explanation: "Since we launched Pottermore, our one million Beta users have given us lots of amazing feedback, and we've been collecting their thoughts and comments so that we can make Pottermore the best experience it can be before it opens to everyone.
"After looking closely at all the information that we've gathered, we have decided to further extend the Beta period so we can improve Pottermore before giving more people access. This means the site will not be opening to new users in the immediate future, but please know that we will open registration as soon as we can."
BookBrowse.com Surveys Readers
BookBrowse.com recently completed its biennial survey of 3,400 readers, including members (20%), newsletter subscribers (60%) and "organic visitors" (20%). Respondents were predominantly female, most over 35 years old and with above average education (75% have a bachelors degree, 40% have a masters or higher). Some highlights from the survey:
- Respondents split equally between those who read e-books at least sometimes, and those who rarely or never do. Over two-thirds still read print frequently.
- About half of those who read electronically own a Kindle. Tablets are the next most popular, followed by the Nook.
- 90% buy at least one book each month, with 54% buying 3-plus, 27% buying 6-plus.
- Frequency of visits to bookstores online, and libraries both online and in person, remains unchanged versus 2009; but the percentage saying they visit a store in person less than once a month has risen 5% to 24% since 2007.
Talking About Books
- 67% recommend three or more books each month.
- More than 30% write reviews or blog, most for fun, some for a living.
- 8% are librarians or booksellers (and a further 8% volunteer in the library).
- Online book clubs are growing in popularity but in-person book clubs dominate.
- Two-thirds of book clubs plan their reading 2-3 months in advance or less.
- Overall, book clubs skew towards newer fiction but most read a wide range.
- Two-thirds wait for a less expensive format to become available.
- 85% say they read books by local authors at least occasionally.
- Very few book clubs feel they must have a reading guide, but most appreciate them.
- 65% regularly use social networking sites, ranging from 95% penetration among 18-34 year olds, to 37% for those aged over 75.
- Facebook dominates, followed by GoodReads. LibraryThing and Shelfari trail.
- Even though two-thirds use social networking, only 25% use it to keep up with websites. E-mail remains the preferred vehicle to stay in touch.
Book Trailer of the Day: The Limit
The Limit: Life and Death on the 1961 Grand Prix Circuit by Michael Cannell (Twelve), which crosses the starting line next Monday.
Media and Movies
Media Heat: Chris Matthews on NBC's Weekend Today
Tomorrow on NBC's Weekend Today: Chris Matthews, author of Jack Kennedy: Elusive Hero (Simon & Schuster, $27.50, 9781451635089). He is also on Meet the Press on Sunday.
Sunday on CBS's 60 Minutes: Jack Abramoff, author of Capitol Punishment: The Hard Truth About Washington Corruption From America's Most Notorious Lobbyist (WND Books, $25.95, 9781936488445).
Television: The Corrections
HBO "is proceeding to production" with the pilot of The Corrections, adapted from the bestselling novel by Jonathan Franzen, Deadline.com wrote. The Noah Baumbach/Scott Rudin project, which stars Chris Cooper and Diane Wiest, was co-written by Baumbach and Franzen, with Baumbach set to direct the pilot.
Movie in Development: The Likeness
Paramount Pictures has acquired Tana French's The Likeness. Deadline.com reported that the novel will be adapted by Stephanie Savage, who will produce the project with Fake Empire partner Josh Schwartz. The company also has the rights to French's In The Woods.
Books & Authors
NYT 10 Best Illustrated Children's Books of 2011
Yesterday the New York Times Book Review announced its list of the 10 Best Illustrated Children's Books of 2011, which will be featured in the November 13 issue. They are:
Along a Long Road by Frank Viva (Little, Brown)
A Ball for Daisy by Chris Raschka (Schwartz & Wade/Random House)
Brother Sun, Sister Moon: Saint Francis of Assisi's Canticle of the Creatures by Katherine Paterson, illustrated by Pamela Dalton (Chronicle)
Grandpa Green by Lane Smith (Roaring Brook/Macmillan)
Ice by Arthur Geisert (Enchanted Lion Books)
I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen (Candlewick)
Me... Jane by Patrick McDonnell (Little, Brown)
Migrant by Maxine Trottier, illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault (Groundwood)
A Nation's Hope: The Story of Boxing Legend Joe Louis by Matt de la Peña, illustrated by Kadir Nelson (Dial/Penguin)
A New Year's Reunion by Yu Li-Qiong, illustrated by Zhu Cheng-Liang (Candlewick)
The judges this year were Jeanne Lamb, coordinator, Youth Collections at the New York Public Library; Lucy Calkins, Richard Robinson Professor of Children's Literature at Teachers College, Columbia University; and Sophie Blackall, author and artist of 24 books for children, including Big Red Lollipop, one of last year's Best Illustrated books.
Awards: Red House Children's Book Shortlist
Finalists have been announced for the 2012 Red House Children's Book Award, the prize that "launched JK Rowling to fame and glory," according to the Guardian, which noted that the winning books are "chosen and voted for entirely by children." The winners will be named February 18 in London. The Red House shortlist includes:
Books for younger children
Rollo and Ruff and the Little Fluffy Bird by Mick Inkpen
Don't Worry Douglas! by David Melling
Peely Wally by Kali Stileman
Scruffy Bear and the Six White Mice by Chris Wormell
Books for younger readers
One Dog and His Boy by Eva Ibbotson
Sky Hawk by Gill Lewis
The Brilliant World of Tom Gates by Liz Pichon
Books for older readers
Grace by Morris Gleitzman
A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece by Annabel Pitcher
GBO Picks The Calligrapher's Secret
The German Book Office in New York has selected The Calligrapher's Secret by Rafik Schami, translated by Anthea Bell (Interlink Books, $20, 9781566568302), as its October Book of the Month.
GBO described the book this way: "In the narrow streets of the old city of Damascus, a rumor is circulating: Noura, the beautiful wife of the famous calligrapher Hamid Farsi, has escaped. Even as a young man, Hamid Farsi is acclaimed as a master of the art of calligraphy. But as time goes by, he sees that weaknesses in the Arabic language and its script limit its uses in the modern world. In a secret society, he works out schemes for radical reform, never guessing what risks he is running and how far the purists are willing to go to stop him.
"His beautiful wife, Noura, is ignorant of the great plans on her husband's mind. She knows only his cold, avaricious side and so it is no wonder she feels flattered by the attentions of his amusing, lively young apprentice. And so begins a passionate love story--the love of a Muslim woman and a Christian man."
Schami was born in Damascus, Syria, in 1946 and came to Germany in 1971 and is today "the most successful German-speaking Arabic writer," according to GBO. His best-known book is The Dark Side of Love. Bell has won many awards for her translations, most notably for Austerlitz by W.G. Sebald.
Book Brahmin: María Dueñas
María Dueñas, who has a a Ph.D. in English Philology, teaches at the University of Murcia in Spain. Her debut novel, The Time in Between (Atria, November 8, 2011), follows the story of a seamstress who becomes the most sought-after couturiere during the Spanish Civil War and World War II. It's a #1 bestseller in her native Spain.
On your nightstand now:
A book in Spanish, and another in English. I always combine my reading in two languages, as I continuously mix genders and times. I'm currently reading Mario Vargas Llosa's El sueño del celta and Patrick Dennis's Auntie Mame.
Favorite book when you were a child:
I loved British author Enid Blyton's series The Famous Five. I think I missed just two or three out of the 21 books based on the mysteries uncovered by five children and their dog, Tim.
Your top five authors:
Could it be 500? J.M. Coetzee and 499 writers more.
Book you've faked reading:
Book you're an evangelist for:
The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen. I read it in English before it was translated into Spanish. By the time the translation was published, I had already recommended it to dozens of people in Spain.
Book you've bought for the cover:
Collected Stories of Carson McCullers. It has a most beautiful cover, with an old black-and-white photograph.
Book that changed your life:
Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier. I was almost a kid when I read my father's copy; I felt like a real grown-up woman by reading what I then considered such sophisticated literature.
Favorite line from a book:
Gabriel Garcia Márquez's opening sentence in A Hundred Years of Solitude: "Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendía was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice."
Book you most want to read again for the first time:
Un mundo para Julius (A World for Julius) by Bryce Echenique. So tender, so ironic, so smart, so good....
Review: The Boy in the Suitcase
Boy in the Suitcase by Lene Kaaberbol, Agnete Friis, trans. by Lene Kaaberbol (Soho Crime, $24 hardcover, 9781569479810, November 8, 2011)
The opening page offers a glimpse of a naked three-year-old boy, drugged, faintly breathing and folded into a suitcase stuffed into a railway baggage locker in Copenhagen. In Lithuania, his mother has been found concussed and drunk at the foot of the stairs at her house--but she's not a drinker, and her maternal panic over the disappearance of her son is very real.
Having transferred funds to his bank to pay for the human cargo, the boy's kidnapper is delayed trying to fly back to Copenhagen. He has no choice but to make an emergency call to a trusted employee--a nurse--who, in turn, phones an old friend to ask for a favor, a favor that involves a locker in a train station.
That old friend is thin, boyish-looking Red Cross nurse Nina Borg, who gets the call shortly before her friend is found murdered in a near-deserted holiday cottage park. Nina is a medical volunteer helping illegal refugees, knowing well how merciless Denmark can be for "the broken human lives that wash up on its shores." It's risky work that frequently keeps her away from her own husband and two children. Like the very best human beings, Nina is torn between a family that needs her and her commitment to making the world a better place. The reader commits along with her.
Here's a thriller that actually thrills, where you care about the characters and the consequences are dreadful. The reader's heart is soon racing, so that you have to close the book periodically to calm down as all the pieces of the plot start coming together. The grim mystery of what exactly is happening to kidnapped children gets resolved two-thirds of the way through this relentlessly paced book, but that's only the frosting. This is a brilliant crime novel, first and foremost, and watching the lives of these imperfect, compromised people collide in a noir of dark realizations and desperate acts is compulsive reading.
Fantasy writer Kaaberbol and children's author Friis ingeniously keep yanking the rug out from under the reader, revealing new depths of deception and evil as the terrible truth surfaces. Their characters are complex (the kidnapper has given a kidney to try to save his adopted child's life), and their situations always ring true. The multiple plots expertly converge at a sinister house on a cliff in an intense, violent confrontation that brings all the complicated and desperate main characters face to face. The crime is revealed to have a very human motive, the mayhem of the denouement is never less than compassionate, the concluding scenes are utterly satisfying. The Boy in the Suitcase does it all exactly right. It's the kind of book you no sooner finish with tears in your eyes than you urge it upon your friends. --Nick DiMartino
Shelf-Talker: Red Cross nurse Nina Borg risks her life to rescue a kidnapped three-year-old boy in an intense but compassionate thriller.
Robert Gray: Books in the 21st Century--The Onion Timeline
The best satire tweaks reality just enough to make it yell "Ouch!" yet still manages to keep us in uncomfortably familiar territory. Few publications do this better than the Onion when it is on its game, and over the years the book world has come in for its share of well-deserved attention.
Decades from now, when biblio-archaeologists are examining the relics of our reading culture, they could do worse than consider the Onion's take on the turbulent early years of the 21st century. Here are a few highlights:
Celebrities writing children's books are all the rage. Offerings this year include Dennis Hopper's The Boy Who Was Out of His Freakin' Mind, Man.
Headline: "Man Reading Pynchon On Bus Takes Pains To Make Cover Visible"
Headline: "Nation's Teens Disappointed By Banned Books"
The film version of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone "turns children on to the magic of not reading," Hannah Foss of Dayton, Ohio, says. "My daughter Julia never liked to sit passively and stare at a screen, but this new movie has really locked the power of her imagination. She can't put her books away fast enough."
Jessica Kingley, author of Bitter Root, "expressed regret Monday that she had 'pretty much used up all the hardship' from her early life in her recent first novel, leaving her nothing to write about for her follow-up book."
In Minot, N.D., a meeting of the Book Buddies reading group "degenerated into a discussion of the upcoming Academy Awards."
Headline: "Barnes & Noble Staffers Mock Orson Scott Card Crowd From Back Of Room"
Pottermania strikes again. Why are so many people buying Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix? Some were "automatically sent book by Amazon after computers showed May 2001 purchase of Dragonriders of Pern," while others "just couldn't get into Atonement-mania."
Self-help for books. "In spite of the odds it faces in the ultra-competitive self-improvement segment of the publishing market, the forthcoming self-help book The Life-Changing Power of Perspective firmly believes that it can be a bestseller, the 179-page nonfiction paperback said Tuesday."
Headline: "Author Dismayed By Amazon Customers' Other Purchases"
Aspiring novelist Sandy Bellman "took the last step in her personal journey as a professional writer" by becoming a Barnes & Noble bookseller. She "is expected to sell her first novel, most likely Khaled Hosseini's The Kite Runner or James Patterson's Judge and Jury, shortly after beginning her training shift next Monday."
American Voices. Most large retailers will be pricing the new Harry Potter book at cost or less. Pam Knackert: "Even more damaging to bookstores is the fact that you can purchase Harry Potter books at most vending machines."
Spoiler alert. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is criticized because it "blatantly answers every looming question in the 10-year-long saga, even going so far as to divulge what happens to key characters 20 years into the future."
Dr. Seuss tells Hollywood to stop making movies based on his books:
And turn the last page as you drifted to sleep.
Instead you'll have boxed sets, shit movies, and... well,
You'll have plenty to watch while you're burning in hell.
American Voices. The Kindle DX is expected to change the way college textbooks are bought and sold. Jennifer Barkley: "If there's one thing I learned as an English major, it's the value of a great book whose pages you can touch and feel and tear out just to spite the next reader."
New features and improvements on the updated Kindle include streaming functionality that "allows user to read latest Nora Roberts novel in real-time as the author writes it."
American Voices. B&N releases Nook Color. Barry Kaplan: "It's only a matter of time before Oliver Twist is peppered with pop-up ads for gruel and waistcoats."
Longtime customer Stephanie Brear is furious about the closure of indie bookshop Shaker House Books: "I put so much time into supporting my quirky local bookshop, with its charming window displays and us-versus-the-world attitude, and for what? Countless hours wasted quietly browsing their shelves when I could have just ordered this shit for way cheaper online."
American Voices. E-books surpass hardcovers in Amazon sales. Mick Aveling: "Well, if you're reading a hardcover book, strangers try to start conversations with you. If you're reading off a Kindle, people just stare at your awesome Kindle."
Francine Massey, author of A Lighthouse Keeper, tells reporters at Word Mentality bookstore that "she does her absolute best for everyone who comes out to see her, whether it's just three people or a much larger crowd of nine people."
Those biblio-archaeologists may ultimately discover the beginning of the end in 1997, when the Onion ran this obituary note: "Béatrice Berceau, the planet's last literate person, died Monday, marking the end of an era. Berceau, widely renowned in her native France and around the world for her remarkable ability to decipher coded inscriptions of symbols printed on paper, was 98 years old."--Robert Gray (column archives available at Fresh Eyes Now)