Also published on this date: Tuesday, January 31, 2012: Kids' Maximum Shelf: Penny and Her Song

Shelf Awareness for Monday, January 30, 2012

Harper: Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen

Harlequin: The Apple Orchard by Susan Wiggs

Ecco: Arts & Entertainment by Christopher Beha

Candlewick: Stella's Starliner by Rosemary Wells

Workman: Man Made Meals by Steven Raichlen

Balzer + Bray: Cat the Cat Board Book by Mo Willems

Little Brown: Those Who Wish Me Dead by Michael Koryta

Chuckanut Writers Conference

Henry Holt: D-Day by Rick Atkinson

 

News

Waterstones to Open Russian-Language Shop in London

Здравствуйте. Next month, Waterstones plans to open a Russian-language bookshop inside its flagship Piccadilly store in London. The Independent reported that Russian-speaking booksellers will be recruited to staff the venture, which is the "personal passion" of Alexander Mamut, the Russian billionaire whose A&NN Group bought the chain last year. 

The new shop, named Slova (Russian for "words"), will occupy the ground floor mezzanine level of the store and stock approximately 5,000 titles. Slova "is expected to become a meeting point for the more literary-minded Russians in the capital," the Independent wrote.

James Daunt, managing director of Waterstones, told the Bookseller: "For Russophiles and the large, vibrant Russian community in London, we aim to make Slova an irresistible literary and cultural destination. One won't be surprised at the source of the idea, given Waterstones' ownership."
 

Simon Pulse: Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld

Outwrite Had Debts of $500,000

Outwrite Bookstore & Coffeehouse, Atlanta, Ga., which closed for good last week, has total debts of more than $500,000, including four years of sales tax that was collected but not remitted to the state, according to its bankruptcy court filing, as reported by Georgia Voice.

Outwrite had losses of nearly $150,000 since 2009, losing $43,207 in 2009, $98,571 in 2010 and $10,000 in 2011. But the store made a $5,000 profit in the first few weeks of 2012.

Debts include $184,000 in unremitted sales taxes (with penalties and interests) and nearly $40,000 in back rent.

The store has more than $78,000 in assets, including its website, valued at $20,000, and $47,000 in inventory, including $30,000 in books.

Somewhat woefully, Georgia Voice noted that the filing indicated Outwrite owes Georgia Voice $690 for advertising.

Pocket Books: 75th Anniversary

The Times and Teicher on B&N and Indies, Respectively

In a lead business section story yesterday titled "The Bookstore's Last Stand," the New York Times profiled Barnes & Noble's effort to reinvent itself in the digital age and major publishers' belief that B&N's fate is crucial to the future of the book industry--as a bulwark against Amazon and as a place where readers discover books, even if they buy them elsewhere.

It's a vast subject and a portrait difficult to paint in only a few newspaper columns, but for all the detail, the effort strikes us as more of a sketch, one constrained by perceived wisdom.

A few minor quibbles before the major concern: the article seems to have missed that B. Dalton Bookseller was bought and eventually shut down by B&N; B&N's roots are in Len Riggio's campus bookstores, which bought the sole B&N store and took its name, not the other way around; being a public company, which in the past was so beneficial to B&N and the Riggio family, is now a hindrance to the company (one example: the recent John Malone-inspired proposal to spin off digital operations from B&N).

But the biggest problem with the article, starting with its title, is the thesis that the bricks-and-mortar bookstore is dying. The Times does note that B&N had the best holiday in years ("surprisingly robust"), but this is glanced over in the somewhat dated storyline that Amazon and e-books will sweep away all traditional elements of book publishing, including bookstores, the printed book and publishers. Books-A-Million, which expanded into a significant number of closed Borders locations, doesn't warrant a mention. And indies are only a sad footnote here: "Since 2002, the United States has lost roughly 500 independent bookstores--nearly one out of five." That's roughly 50 a year, and doesn't take into account either the "natural" closing of stores or the opening of new stores or the addition by existing stores of new locations. And, of course, you wouldn't know that for many indies, 2011 was their best year ever. Indies do have less than 10% of the market, but they are in a good position at the moment and have an influence far beyond that number.

Luckily, B&N CEO William Lynch sounds level-headed. He seemed to shrug off the company's low share price, stating, "Had we not launched devices and spent the money we invested in the Nook, investors and analysts would have said, 'Barnes & Noble is crazy, and they're going to go away.' " And the company has a hit in the Nook, which in a little over two years has claimed nearly 30% of the e-reader device market. Another Nook is on the way, and the company soon will begin selling it abroad.

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With serendipitous timing, only last week American Booksellers Association CEO Oren Teicher presented a case for indies at the Digital Book World conference in New York City.

"For many years now, I've been known to paraphrase Mark Twain and declare that the reports of the death of independent bookselling are premature, and until this year it was often to dubious audiences," he stated. "Not only are indie booksellers surviving in extraordinarily turbulent times, but many--believe it or not--are thriving, even recording record sales numbers for the fourth quarter of last year."

Much of his message was similar to that at the Winter Institute two weeks ago (Shelf Awareness, January 19, 2012), but among other news:

In 2011, there was an 80% increase in ABA member stores using the IndieCommerce platform--with 369 stores at the end of the year. (Some stores use other website platforms.)

In December, there was a 300% increase in the number of IndieCommerce stores with sales of more than $10,000, and the average gross sales per store rose 26%.

Sales of Google eBooks at IndieCommerce stores doubled in December compared to December 2010, and for the year sales of e-books were 5.2% of all IndieCommerce sales.

E-book bestsellers are the same as print bestsellers and this past year included, at #1, State of Wonder by Ann Patchett, The Tiger's Wife by Téa Obreht, The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides and Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson.

So far, most IndieCommerce customers are buying either print books or e-books: only 2% of the time does an e-book order include a print book.

IndieCommerce customers who buy e-books are 2.5 times more likely to come back to the store's website for further purchases.

 
After the ABA last year asked publishers to create "new ways of doing business that recognize the importance of indies as both a sales channel and an essential catalyst to sales in other channels," Teicher said, some publishers are working with certain bookstores on tests that include "consignment arrangements, extended dating for invoices, publisher rebates for sales of selected titles, trading co-op in return for title placement in stores or a broader representation of inventory, focused category promotion, new ways of bundling e-books and print books, and more."

Teicher added: "On behalf of authors, readers and our industry, we must be committed to sustaining the physical places where consumers can discover their next great read, no matter where they ultimately buy that title, and in whatever format... Despite all the tumult and change we are living through, books (and, more importantly, the way they change people's lives) are not going away."

Trinity University Press: Unchopping a Tree by W. S. Merwin

Notes

Image of the Day: E.L. Doctorow at the Strand

Last Wednesday, the Strand bookstore in New York City hosted E.L. Doctorow, whose new book is All the Time in the World: New and Selected Stories (Random House). He was interviewed by Liesl Schillinger, a reviewer for the New York Times Book Review.

 

Soho Press: Jack of Spies by David Downing

'High Art of Bookselling' at Politics & Prose

After their first holiday season as owners of Politics & Prose Bookstore, Washington, D.C., Lissa Muscatine and Bradley Graham--who bought the business last June--shared a few thoughts regarding their experiences thus far with Peter Osnos in the Atlantic, noting that what they found most heartening "is that the store continues to flourish even amid the uncertainties of the book industry... Our author events drew standing-room-only crowds, and the store was packed last month with holiday shoppers." Graham said overall sales were up over 2010, with sales particularly strong for new books.  

"Politics and Prose is a favorite bookstore among publishers and authors because of the spirit it has embodied and that its new owners seem to have made their guiding principle," Osnos wrote. "The customers streaming into the store, reaffirming its value as a significant local asset, apparently agree with that approach. Here's a probable first: GQ's just-released annual survey of the 50 Most Powerful People in Washington lists Lissa and Brad at number 50."
 

Pegasus: The Hidden Child by Camilla Läckberg

Cool Idea of the Day: Cookbook Workshop

As part of the Roger Smith Cookbook Conference next week in New York, a workshop called A Cookbook for the Year 2020: An Experimental Case Study will be held Thursday, February 9, 1-5 p.m., at which 50 participants will break into five working groups that will tackle the same case study of a culinary professional who wants to bring a cookbook to market. The hypothetical professional has a list of recipes and opportunity. "Does she release a hardcopy cookbook? An app? An ebook? Set up a website? Or some combination of all of those?" Each group will work through the editorial, marketing, sales, distribution and other decisions that have to go into bringing that content to market, and will then present their conclusions to the group. The groups will have leaders, who include Amanda Hesser from Food52, Molly O'Neill of One Big Table and Katie Workman of Cookstr.com. For registration information, click here.

 

UNC Press Director Retiring

Kate Douglas Torrey, the first woman to serve as director of the University of North Carolina Press in its 90-year history, will retire this summer after 23 years with the publishing house. She joined the press as editor-in-chief in 1989 and was named its sixth director in 1992.

 

Cool TV Show Appearance of the Day


Mary Bisbee-Beek, publicist, rights agent and more, has a new vocation to add to her resume: TV star. In the "Cool Wedding" episode of Portlandia (season 2, episode 3), she plays "Aunt Mary" (third from left, partly blocked, above), one of the friends and family who are divvied up when Spyke and Iris nearly separate after their wedding rehearsal goes awry.

Mary also appears in an upcoming scene in Women and Women First, Portlandia's hilariously dysfunctional feminist bookstore. As she described it: "It will be advertised as an episode with Penny Marshall as the guest and LaMarcus Aldridge, a Portland Trail Blazer, as Penny's boyfriend. It's the 10th anniversary of the store and they think they are doing very well, they might have sold... ummmm, maybe 1,000 books! Penny Marshall plays one of the original partners in the store who comes back to help them celebrate. She's broken away from the store because she is much more entrepreneurial and has now developed a sleepwear line called Night Sweats."

Book Trailer of the Day: Ritual America

Ritual America: Secret Brotherhoods and Their Influence on American Society: A Visual Guide by Adam Parfrey and Craig Heimbichner, foreword by Loren Coleman (Feral/Consortium).

 

Media and Movies

Media Heat: How Regis Got This Way

Today on Hannity: Scott Rasmussen, author of The People's Money: How Voters Will Balance the Budget and Eliminate the Federal Debt (Threshold Editions, $26, 9781451666106).

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Today on the View: Regis Philbin, author of How I Got This Way (It Books, $25.99, 9780062109750).

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Today on CBS' the Talk: Heather Bauer, author of Bread Is the Devil: Win the Weight Loss Battle by Taking Control of Your Diet Demons (St. Martin's Press, $24.99, 9781250000224).

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Tomorrow morning on the Today Show: Karen Tack, co-author of Cupcakes, Cookies & Pie, Oh, My! (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $17.95, 9780547662428).

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Tomorrow morning on Fox & Friends: Scott Rasmussen, author of The People's Money: How Voters Will Balance the Budget and Eliminate the Federal Debt (Threshold Editions, $26, 9781451666106). He will also appear on Imus in the Morning, the Willis Report and Fox Radio's Alan Colmes Show.

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Tomorrow on NPR's Diane Rehm Show: Adam Johnson, author of The Orphan Master's Son (Random House, $26, 9780812992793).

TV: Applebaum

CBS greenlighted a pilot episode of Applebaum, based on Ayelet Waldman's Mommy-Track Mysteries series. Deadline.com reported that Christopher Columbus will direct a script by Waldman, Jennifer Levin and Sherri Cooper.
 

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo Banned in India

Indian censors have banned David Fincher's movie adaptation of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson. The film was scheduled for a February 10 release, but the country's Central Board of Film Certification insisted that several scenes be cut and the director refused.

According to the Hollywood Reporter, the "scenes in question include two lovemaking scenes between the film's principal female lead Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara) and Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig); a lesbian scene featuring Lisbeth and a woman she meets at a bar; a scene where Lisbeth is raped and tortured. In a follow-up scene, she tortures her tormentor as a video of her being assaulted plays in the background."

Sony Pictures India said the "Censor Board has adjudged the film unsuitable for public viewing in its unaltered form and, while we are committed to maintaining and protecting the vision of the director, we will, as always, respect the guidelines set by the Board."
 

Books & Authors

Awards: Dilys Shortlist

The Independent Mystery Booksellers Association's nominees for this year's Dilys Award (which this year could be called the Minotaur Award), given annually to the mystery titles of the year that member booksellers most enjoyed selling, are:

When Elves Attack by Tim Dorsey (Morrow)
Wicked Autumn by G. M. Malliet (Minotaur)
Tag Man by Archer Mayor (Minotaur)
A Trick of the Light by Louise Penny (Minotaur)
Ghost Hero by S. J. Rozan (Minotaur)

The Dilys Award is named in honor of Dilys Winn, founder of the first specialty bookstore of mystery books in the United States. The award will be presented at the Left Coast Crime convention on March 31.

Book Review

Review: Gillespie and I

Gillespie and I by Jane Harris (Harper Perennial, $14.99 paperback, 9780062103208, January 2012)

Even for readers who think they've seen everything, Gillespie and I by Jane Harris (The Observations) is almost certain to be surprising. The novel's setting is Victorian-era Scotland, and its narrator, 35-year-old Harriet Baxter, is a nosy spinster with an interest in art--Scottish artist Ned Gillespie in particular. Harriet chronicles her friendship with the Gillespie family in a narrative that at first seems like the prim, tedious maunderings suited to a Victorian maiden aunt. By the end, however, Harriet's genteel prattling has constructed a nightmare that rivals anything by Stephen King.

Harriet's memoir alternates between the past and present, from the art world of 1880s Glasgow to her current circumstances living in Bloomsbury in 1933. In Glasgow, Harriet recalls a critical time for the Gillespie household, when tragedy is poised to strike and destroy the lives of Ned, his wife and their children. Meanwhile, back in the present, Harriet realizes that the tragedy so many decades distant might be waiting to pounce on her--right in her own home.

It is only by the end that the reader can see, with utter clarity, what this novel has been the entire time. Once the reader does know, the entire narrative is brought into focus, revealed as a masterwork of subtlety and penetrating psychological insight. As with an oil painting, the whole picture can coalesce only when viewed from a distance, and readers may feel compelled to reread the book for the details they missed the first time. There are rewards to doing this--the kind that creep down your spine like a trickle of ice water.

Harriet's narrative voice is multi-layered, the busybody old maid just a varnish on its surface. There are hints of Harriet's multiple dimensions, such as her avowed status as a "freethinker," her affinity for cigarettes and her envy of modern women who benefit from the freedom that was denied her in the 19th century. A contemporary reader may find these are Harriet's more likable qualities, in contrast to her prying demeanor and fussy old maidishness. But few hints will prepare most readers for what is to come. Don't be fooled by this novel's stuffy exterior: it is psychological horror at its most unnerving. --Ilana Teitelbaum

Shelf Talker: The author of the critically acclaimed The Observations returns with another Victorian offering--this one exploring the darker aspects of human nature.

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