Shelf Awareness for Monday, March 5, 2012


One World: We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy Ta-Nehisi Coates

Beach Lane Books: The Antlered Ship by Dashka Slater, illustrated by The Fan Brothers

Houghton Mifflin: Lights, Camera, Cook! (Next Best Junior Chef #1) by Charise Mericle Harper

Soho Press: Solar Bones by Mike McCormack

Greenwillow Books: Calling My Name by Liara Tamani

News

E-Book Reading: Tablets Bring New Focus to Distractions

Tablets have led to changes in how people read books, the New York Times reported today.

[Check Times headlines now.]

Citing Google, Netflix, Twitter and e-mail that "lurks tantalizingly within reach," the paper said that the lure of other applications "can fragment the reading experience, or stop it in its tracks."

[Check e-mail and Twitter now.]

One Kindle Fire user compared the experience with "trying to cook when there are little children around. A child might do something silly and you've got to stop cooking and fix the problem and then return to cooking."

[Go to epicurious.com.]

A college senior with a Kindle Fire noted that she is finding it difficult to finish books and was able to focus on one title only when she was on a plane with no Internet access.

[Check United.com to see if it's working.]

In part because of the distraction phenomenon, as well as their relatively low cost, dedicated e-reading devices should continue to be popular, although the long-term trend is for multifunctional devices to replace dedicated devices, such as with smartphones combining cameras, GPS and Palm Pilot functions.

[Google Palm Pilot and stylus.]

But some observers say that people who have tablets and aren't big readers may begin to read more e-books. Conversely, heavy readers may plow on despite the distractions. One "voracious reader" with a tablet who has bought more books than ever--and not finished more books than ever--told the Times that she noticed a change in her reading habits: "Recently I gravitate to books that make me forget I have a world of entertainment at my fingertips. If the book's not good enough to do that, I guess my time is better spent."

[Google "age-old attraction of reading."]


National Science Teachers Association: When the Sun Goes Dark by Andrew Fraknoi and Dennis Schatz


Amazon Publishing: No More Digital Exclusives?

Publisher and author James Atlas will edit a series of biographies for Amazon called Amazon Lives, the first of which will appear in June 2013, the New York Times reported. Atlas will sign up at least 12 titles, and has acquired several already. The books will range from 25,000 to 40,000 words and will be released as Kindle e-books and in hardcover by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, which has distributed selected print versions of Amazon titles to non-Amazon outlets.

But in a major change for Amazon, Amazon Lives titles will be available as e-books outside the Kindle universe. Amazon's previous policy of making its own titles e-exclusives has led Barnes & Noble and many independent bookstores not to carry print versions of Amazon titles. (See one example below.)

Asked by the Times about going to the dark side by signing with Amazon, Atlas replied, "I don't feel too dark myself--I feel very light and unburdened. They're going to accomplish what is getting harder and harder to accomplish, and that is effective marketing and distribution. I think they're going to be very aggressive about promoting them. In this climate with retail bookstores threatened, just to get your books out there has been frustrating. I know that Amazon itself has very benign intentions here." Atlas & Co. is no longer acquiring books.

According to paidcontent.org, Amazon has not yet indicated whether all of its books will now be available to other retailers as e-books.

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A YA novel set in Alaska by an Alaskan author whose "books have always been well received" in the Anchorage Barnes & Noble, as the community relations manager told the Anchorage Daily News, is the unintended victim of the battle between Amazon and other retailers over the e-tail giant's publishing program.

My Name Is Not Easy by Debby Dahl Edwardson is no longer being sold in B&N because its publisher, Marshall Cavendish, was bought by Amazon late last year.

Edwardson called the disappearance of her book from B&N shelves "the latest in a series of sad moves that keeps books from readers and punishes individual writers for decisions they had no say over."

B&N chief merchandising officer Jaime Carey commented: "Our decision is based on Amazon's continued push for exclusivity with publishers, agents and the authors they represent. These exclusives have prohibited us from offering certain e-books to our customers."



DK: 100 First Words - Download Your Free Activity Kit


Facebook Timeline Is Good News for Goodreads

Facebook's recent introduction of its new Timeline profile has proven to be good news for the bookish social networking site Goodreads. VentureBeat reported that since Facebook "opened up new kinds of Timeline activity for Facebook-connected apps, those apps have seen huge growth.... Books are one of the more obvious sociological symbols we have, and Goodreads allows you to splash those symbols all over your Facebook Timeline, now more easily and expressively than ever before."

Goodreads founder Otis Chandler said there have been nearly 6.5 million actions published to Facebook since the app's Timeline launch: "We hoped for it, but we didn't know it would be to this extent. A year ago, we had three-something million users, and today, we have seven million. Last year, we doubled headcount and revenue and books added." While Goodreads launched on Facebook Platform in 2007, Chandler noted that Timeline has increased interest significantly compared to "old-school" boxes or wall tabs.

"I've read studies that of Americans who read, around 10% read avidly, and another 10% read regularly," he said. "So if 20% of Americans read fairly often, and there's 310 million Americans, that puts our market at 62 million people... Given that Facebook has most of the world population on it now, there's a huge potential for us to grow."
 


Poisoned Pen Press: The Countess of Prague by Stephen Weeks


Jersey Bookstores Curate, Hold Events, Hang On

"Shop owners say they have had to become experts on the reading habits of their customers and pack their calendars with events designed to draw crowds," the Star-Ledger wrote about several bookstores in northern New Jersey.

Watchung Booksellers, Montclair, is benefiting from the return of some customers who have become disenchanted with their e-readers. "They're tired of reading on a screen," owner Margot Sage-EL said. "One woman came to me and said, 'I've never read so much since I've gotten an e-reader, but I haven't finished a single book.' " Many Watchung customers read e-books while commuting on the train or bus but like printed books for home reading.

Mendham Books in Mendham has benefited from a range of major author events--125 last year--such as an appearance by New York Jets coach Rex Ryan. "If you want to shake hands with Rex, take a picture and get him to sign your copy, those are some of the things that don't translate to the ethereal world of digital content," said co-owner Tom Williams.

The store also sells thousands of autographed books online around the world.

Opening in 2004, Sages Pages in Madison moved to large space in 2008, just as the economy--and sales--crashed. The situation has stabilized, but owner Lillian Trujillo struck a pessimistic note. "We're steady now and just make our bills, but even if the economy gets better, the industry is still declining," she said.

Despite having recently closed his used bookstore, the Raconteur in Metuchen, Alex Dawson sounded optimistic, saying, "People thought digital film would be terrible for the movie industry, but it didn't really work out that way. So I think even for people who love books, things like the Kindle and Nook will have some appeal."


Soho Press: The Hippopotamus by Stephen Fry - Now a major motion picture


Atlanta's Indies 'In for a Good Fight'

Despite the closing of Outwrite Bookstore and Coffeehouse earlier this year and impending loss of Blue Elephant Book Shop later this month, independent bookstore owners in the Atlanta region "are taking varied approaches to staying afloat. They are both abandoning traditional business practices and combining them with new demands of the era. They are digging in and leaping forward. They're in for a good fight," Atlanta INtown reported.

A Cappella Books moved to a smaller, less expensive location, and owner Frank Reiss said, "We have a bit less room, but everything else is still the same. We're kind of off the beaten path and there's not as much foot traffic. So we're prepared to focus on other things, too." Among those "other things" is a strong online business and partnering with local organizations to host author events.

"We're flexible in how we see ourselves," Reiss added. "We're willing to adapt so we can stay. I realize I might have to go out and get a real job one day. But if enough people have an affection for what books represent, we can still serve a purpose. We'll do it as long as we can."

Jeff McCord of Bound to Be Read Books said his shop is "hanging in there, but it's getting increasingly difficult." The promotions he's actively involved with include World Book Night on April 23, when he plans to hand out books at bars in the village. "I just want people to read. So now I'm giving books away."

Serving "a special but broad clientele" is the key for Dave Shallenberger of Little Shop of Stories children's bookstore: "A lot of it is that books are an interactive experience with kids and their parents. I think it's hard to share that with an e-reader. [Reading to a child] is just better in book form."

"If you like bookstores, make sure you walk into them," Alex Nunan of the Book Nook succinctly observed.  

And Marlene Zeiler, owner of Tall Tales Book Shop, said indie bookstores will not disappear: "There's always some crazy bookseller who's ready to open a bookstore."

 


No Failure to Launch: 20SomethingReads.com

TheBookReportNetwork.com has launched 20SomethingReads.com, a book website for readers in their 20s, the seventh addition to its network of editorial sites. 20SomethingReads.com offers readers, writers, booksellers, librarians and bibliophiles in their 20s suggestions of what to read, allows them to share their impressions of the books they're reading and lets them make suggestions. Material includes reviews; features; interviews; blogs; contests; a series that counts down to the release of The Hunger Games; authors', booksellers' and librarians' reading suggestions; articles highlighting independent bookstores in the different parts of the country, beginning with New York City; and more.

Carol Fitzgerald, president of TheBookReportNetwork.com, said the company created the site "because we saw a gap in the marketplace. This audience was being overlooked with targeted marketing and we thought that they would respond to a website curated specifically toward their reading habits."


Notes

Image of the Day: Neurotic Community Event

The Community Bookstore in Park Slope, Brooklyn, N.Y., hosted the first bookstore event for The Neurotic Parent's Guide to College Admissions (Prospect Park Media), published last week. Attendees took a fake, humorous SAT, and author J.D. Rothman read excerpts from the book. Here (from l.): Rothman and store owners Ezra Goldstein and Stephanie Valdez. In front: store cat Tiny, who is likely neurotic about a few things but not SATs.


Circa 1960: Leon Uris, Bookseller

A 1960 photo of novelist Leon Uris at the opening of his Exodus Book and Record Shop, Sherman Oaks, Calif., was featured in L.A. Observed by Kevin Roderick, who is currently "extracting photographs from the Los Angeles Public Library's collection of 3,000 pictures from the morgues of the old Valley Times and Hollywood Citizen-News newspapers."

Uris is shown cutting the ribbon, "helped in ceremonies by pretty 'Miss Bookworm,' Susan Davis."

 


Cool Bookstore Conversationalist of the Day: Stephen King

Stephen King was the star of an event on Saturday hosted by Water Street Bookstore, Exeter, N.H., part of a program sponsored by Algonquin, in which well-known authors interview lesser-known authors. In this case, King interviewed Lauren Grodstein, author of A Friend of the Family (Algonquin), a novel about a father in suburban New Jersey who tries to save his son from a troubled romance with a family friend's daughter.

According to Seacoastonline, King described A Friend of the Family as "a literary novel that has a real suspenseful framework to it. Every page that you turn, the pages get a little bit heavier because you are afraid of what's going to happen."

photo: Ioanna Raptis/iraptis@seacoastonline.com

 



Media and Movies

Hunger Games: Clip; Song; Tour Frenzy; Author Review

A new clip from The Hunger Games showcases Katniss's "skill with a bow, along with her unique approach to public relations," Wired magazine reported, noting that Jennifer Lawrence "has done her homework: her shooting form is excellent--she is completely believable as an archer. Like any good athlete, there is an economy of movement; no flashy gestures or dramatic release; she draws the bow deliberately and quickly, lines up the shot, and releases smoothly." The movie opens March 23.

---

Listen to Arcade Fire's "Abraham's Daughter," which is on The Hunger Games soundtrack. "Our whole approach was to get into the world and try to create something that serves the story and the film," Winn Butler, the band's frontman, told Entertainment Weekly. "There's something in the story of Abraham and Isaac that I think resonates with the themes in the film, like sacrificing children. So we made a weird, apocryphal, alternate-universe version of that, where it's as if Abraham had a daughter--kind of a metaphor for Katniss."

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Fans of The Hunger Games "came out in droves to meet the stars" and could  "barely contain their excitement" during the weekend's U.S. Mall Tour kick-off at Westfield Century City in Los Angeles, the Hollywood Reporter noted.

---

The first official review of the movie is in and it comes from the source: Suzanne Collins, author of The Hunger Games. She posted a letter to readers on Facebook about her initial impressions of the film adaptation. "I'm really happy with how it turned out," Collins wrote. "I feel like the book and the film are individual yet complementary pieces that enhance one another.... Director Gary Ross has created an adaptation that is faithful in both narrative and theme, but he's also brought a rich and powerful vision of Panem, its brutality and excesses, to the film as well. His world building's fantastic, whether it be the Seam or the Capitol. It's amazing to see things that are suggested in the book fully developed and so brilliantly realized through the artistry of the designers.

"And, my God, the actors. The cast, led by the extraordinary Jennifer Lawrence, is absolutely wonderful across the board. It's such a pleasure to see how they've embodied the characters and brought them to life."
 


Media Heat: Lilly Ledbetter Gets Equal Time for Equal Pay Book

This morning on Good Morning America: Mayim Bialik, author of Beyond the Sling: A Real-Life Guide to Raising Confident, Loving Children the Attachment Parenting Way (Touchstone, $23.99, 9781451618006). She will also appear on Nightline today and on the View tomorrow.

Also on GMA: Lilly Ledbetter, co-author of Grace and Grit: My Fight for Equal Pay and Fairness at Goodyear and Beyond (Crown Archetype, $25, 9780307887924). Ledbetter will also be on MSNBC's Rachel Maddow Show.

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This morning on Fox & Friends: Philip White, author of Our Supreme Task: How Winston Churchill's Iron Curtain Speech Defined the Cold War Alliance (PublicAffairs, $26.99, 9781610390590).

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Today on CBS' the Talk: David B. Agus, author of The End of Illness (Free Press, $26, 9781451610178).

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Today on MSNBC's Dylan Ratigan Show: Peter H. Diamandis and Steven Kotler, co-authors of Abundance: The Future Is Better Than You Think (Free Press, $26.99, 9781451614213).

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Today on the Charlie Rose Show: Richard J. Davidson, author of The Emotional Life of Your Brain: How Its Unique Patterns Affect the Way You Think, Feel, and Live--and How You Can Change Them (Hudson Street, $25.95, 9781594630897).

Also on Charlie Rose: Masha Gessen, author of The Man Without a Face: The Unlikely Rise of Vladimir Putin (Riverhead, $27.95, 9781594488429).

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Tomorrow morning on the Today Show: Kristi Yamaguchi, author of It's a Big World, Little Pig! (Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, $16.99, 9781402266447).

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Tomorrow on the Martha Stewart Show: Stephanie Izard, author of Girl in the Kitchen: How a Top Chef Cooks, Thinks, Shops, Eats and Drinks (Chronicle Books, $29.95, 9780811874472).

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Tomorrow on CNBC's Squawk Box: Noam Scheiber, author of The Escape Artists: How Obama's Team Fumbled the Recovery (Simon & Schuster, $28, 9781439172407).

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Tomorrow on Tavis Smiley: Russ Feingold, author of While America Sleeps: A Wake-up Call for the Post-9/11 Era (Crown, $26, 9780307952523).

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Tomorrow on NPR's Fresh Air: Elaine Pagels, author of Revelations: Visions, Prophecy, and Politics in the Book of Revelation (Viking, $27.95, 9780670023349). She will also appear on Charlie Rose and the Bob Edwards Show.

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Tomorrow night on the Colbert Report: Jonathan Safran Foer, editor of New American Haggadah (Little, Brown, $29.99, 9780316069861).


Books & Authors

Awards: Kobzar Literary

Shandi Mitchell won the biennial $25,000 Kobzar Literary Award, which honors books with a Canadian-Ukrainian theme, for her Under This Unbroken Sky, the National Post reported. Mitchell received $20,000, with $5,000 going to her publisher, Penguin Canada.

The judges praised the book as a "compelling and poignant narrative that honors the ancestry of many Canadian Ukrainians who worked for a better life during the depression era." Under This Unbroken Sky previously won the 2010 Commonwealth Writers' Prize (Caribbean and Canada) for best first book.
 


Book Review

Review: The Vanishers

The Vanishers by Heidi Julavits (Doubleday, $26.95 hardcover, 9780385523813, March 13, 2012)

Women with psychic powers take center stage in The Vanishers, a paranormal thriller by Heidi Julavits (The Uses of Enchantment) that turns on rivalry between women and the often fraught relationship between mothers and daughters.

Julia Severn's powerful psychic gifts bring her to the Workshop, which is similar in purpose to Hogwarts but has the feel of a small liberal arts college. Academic politics at the Workshop are vicious, and students are under pressure to excel or be crushed beneath the wheels of an uncaring bureaucracy. It is there that Julia meets her idol, the beautiful Madame Ackermann, a teacher of the psychic arts whose power and charisma make her the obsession of all the students. But when Julia ends up on the wrong side of Madame Ackermann, she awakens one morning to discover that her health is falling apart--that she is in fact under "psychic attack."

With nothing to lose, Julia plunges into the convoluted world of psychic intrigue in an attempt to uncover the reason for Madame Ackermann's vendetta--and find a way to stop it. Julia soon discovers that the solution to the mystery is dangerously close to home, as it concerns her own mother, who committed suicide when Julia was a baby. Julia's journey takes her across Europe and deep into the past, where she witnesses the betrayal and violence in which her mother was embroiled before Julia was ever born.

Bristling with wicked humor and sharp-edged irony, The Vanishers explores the ways in which the dead can haunt the living and the often painful persistence of memory. It is also ultimately a novel about identity: Julia is vulnerable to attack because she has never known her mother, and therefore never truly known herself. Psychic powers enable Julia to travel into the past, allowing her to take a literal (rather than simply metaphorical) look at the events that preceded her birth. The insights she gleans are crucial to understanding her own origins, as well as her father's torment.

This novel addresses head-on the nearly universal fear of discovering the worst about one's parents. What if your mother was involved in murder, political anarchy or--perhaps most unsettling of all--warped pornography? Julia faces the worst, so that the reader can, vicariously, experience the realization of these fears and their implications for one's psyche. By necessity, Julia is not the same person at the conclusion of The Vanishers as she is at its start. --Ilana Teitelbaum

Shelf Talker: A wickedly funny, dark suspense novel by the author of The Uses of Enchantment.

 


The Bestsellers

Top-Selling Titles on AbeBooks.com in February

The bestselling signed books on AbeBooks.com during February:

1. The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey
2. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
3. Who Moved My Cheese? by Spencer Johnson
4. The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren
5. Lord of the Flies by William Golding
6. Night by Elie Wiesel
7. Four to Score by Janet Evanovich
8. Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
9. The Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson
10. The Richest Man in Babylon by George S. Clason

The bestselling signed books on AbeBooks.com during February:

1. Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
2. What We Talk about When We Talk about Anne Frank by Nathan Englander
3. Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson
4. The Help by Kathryn Stockett
5. Raylan by Elmore Leonard
6. Taken by Robert Crais
7. Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo
8. Waiting for Sunrise by William Boyd
9. Riding Rap by Elmore Leonard
10. The Orphan Master's Son by Adam Jonson

[Many thanks to AbeBooks.com!]


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