Shelf Awareness for Thursday, April 19, 2012
Quotation of the Day
Pulitzer Suggestion: 'Take a Leaf Out of the Orange Prize's Book'
"Respectfully, I suggest that Pulitzer swallows a hefty slice of crow pie and takes home for careful study the Orange prize playbook. This U.K.-based, but globally significant award is not yet as ancient or distinguished as the Pulitzer, but the people who run Orange take a great deal of care--this year's shortlist is a model--to ensure that their nominations include six new fictions of distinction, by writers who are likely to show form over many years. Look at the list of Orange winners and you will see that, not only are there no duds, there are, among the runners-up, several writers who have already achieved greatness. Pulitzer, please take note."
E-Pricing Allegations: Apple Wants a Trial; Canadian Lawsuit
Apple wants to go to trial to defend itself against U.S. government allegations of colluding with publishers to fix e-book prices, Apple lawyer Daniel Floyd told U.S. District Judge Denise Cote yesterday. Reuters reported that publishers Macmillan and Penguin "took a similar stance in the first hearing in Manhattan federal court since the anti-trust division of the Department of Justice last week accused Apple and five publishers of colluding to break up Amazon.com's low-cost dominance of the digital book market."
"Our basic view is that we would like the case to be decided on the merits," said Floyd. "We believe that this is not an appropriate case against us and we would like to validate that." The judge scheduled the next hearing for June 22.
According to Reuters, Hachette and HarperCollins "settled with a group of U.S. states, agreeing to pay $51 million in restitution to consumers who bought e-books. Simon & Schuster is in negotiations with the states to join that settlement." Shepard Goldfein, a HarperCollins lawyer, told the judge that if "all 50 states were ultimately to settle, it would have an impact on a separate class action brought by consumers."
"There could be something left of the class, or nothing left of the class," Goldfein said.
Close on the heels of last week's U.S. Department of Justice lawsuit, a Vancouver law firm has filed a proposed class-action lawsuit in B.C. Supreme Court, alleging that Apple and a number of publishers engaged in a "conspiracy" to lessen competition and "fix, maintain, increase or control the prices of e-books." The Toronto Globe & Mail reported that it "is the most recent of at least five such suits filed recently in courts in Ontario, Quebec and B.C."
Targeted publishers for the Canadian actions include Hachette, HarperCollins, Macmillan, Penguin, Simon & Schuster and their Canadian subsidiaries.
"The U.S. case isn't going to cover Canadian consumers. So it's the same underlying facts, it's the same consumer protection agenda, but it is for different consumers in a different country," said lawyer Reidar Mogerman, who filed the suit last week on behalf of plaintiff Denise E. McCabe, "a non-practicing Kamloops lawyer who has purchased a 'significant' number of e-books," the Globe & Mail wrote.
'Time 100' Book Group: Patchett, Isaacson, James
Time magazine released its annual list of the "100 Most Influential People in the World," and while writers were less than dominant, some interesting selections did make the final Time 100 cut, including:
Ann Patchett: Of the decision to open Parnassus Books, Elizabeth Gilbert wrote: "Nashville is grateful, but the world watches carefully, wondering: Will this endeavor actually work? Can one determined soul really make a dent against the dehumanizing wall of humongous corporate progress? Don't worry; I already know how this story ends, because I know the author well. Trust me--Ann Patchett will see to it that the good guys win."
Walter Isaacson: "But what most separates Isaacson, 59, from would-be peers is his wisdom in choosing subjects whose individual talents have affected all our lives. We care, and so we read, and so we learn--first one lesson, then many.... Isaacson is a purveyor of knowledge, a supplier to addicts who seek a deeper understanding of all manner of things." wrote Madeleine Albright.
E.L. James: "Six months ago she was Erika Leonard, a mother of two who dabbled in saucy stories for the Web. Now she's E.L. James, publishing phenomenon, whose Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy has deeply stirred booksellers, Hollywood and, apparently, many, many mothers. Reading may never be the same."
Kirshbaum on Amazon Publishing: 'We're a Startup'
During a recent "Writers Speak Wednesdays" event at Stony Brook Southampton, Amazon New York publisher Larry Kirshbaum was interviewed by writer and former Random House editor Daniel Menaker. PaidContent's Laura Hazard Owen featured excerpts from their conversation and observed that "if you wanted to pull one thing out of here, I would note how many times he mentions physical bookstores." A few highlights from the interview:
"Despite the fact that Amazon is a very large company on the retail side, as you all know, we’re really a very small publisher," Kirshbaum said. "We're a startup. We only have about 20, 25 people. It's a very intimate group.... It's a small publisher. In a lot of ways, we are operating it as a small publishing house. We, of course, have this enormous publishing capability because of our websites and stores and our database and all that which we are trying to use to innovative ends to publish well.... I like to model it on the companies I worked for for many years, Warner and Little, Brown."
Calling the Kindle a "reader’s dream," he noted that "although I do still love bookstores and spend a lot of time--I love the Hampton bookstores, in fact--it's a real readers delight to be able to get a book inside of a minute and just start reading because you read a review or whatever."
Kirshbaum also contended the "big problem publishers have is this kind of auction fever that develops on brand-name authors where the price just goes very, very high and it is hard to earn back and make a profit. Our philosophy is going to be to publish across a broad spectrum and to do a lot of books that are discovery books, probably aren't going to have huge advances but we're going to put a lot of marketing money into it."
While acknowledging that there has been criticism of Amazon's methods in some circles, he said "the agents have by and large been extremely excited about the fact that we can publish in a different way. They love the idea of the database, that we can actually reach readers directly, that we can use--of course all of you who are, I'm sure, Amazon customers know the suggestible idea--if you like X, you'll like Y. We'll be the Y. We're going to show some really innovative marketing ideas to sell books in ways that they're not being sold right now."
Photo: WW Burford
Booksellers Embrace World Book Night, Part 2
The inaugural World Book Night in the U.S. takes place Monday, April 23. We checked in with booksellers to see how they're gearing up for the nationwide event, during which 25,000 volunteers are giving away 20 books each in their communities. A half a million specially printed copies of 30 different titles are being distributed as part of the organization's mission to spread a love of reading and books.
World Book Night was launched in the U.K. in 2011. April 23 commemorates three literary anniversaries: the birth and death of Shakespeare and the death of Miguel Cervantes. It has been designated World Book Day by UNESCO in the two scribes' honor.
When Terry Louchheim Gilman heard about World Book Day, she immediately knew she wanted to participate in some way. "It sounded absolutely magical to have an opportunity to give books away to light readers and to people who don't have access to books," said Gilman, managing partner of Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore.
Mysterious Galaxy's stores in San Diego and Redondo Beach, Calif., are both taking part in World Book Day. Each hosted a pre-launch gathering for givers earlier this week and on April 30 will hold Reflection Mixers for participants to shares stories about their experiences.
Several staffers are among the stores' assigned givers. Gilman plans to take copies of Orson Scott Card's Ender's Game to a bus depot across from the Redondo Beach store. "I look out at it from my office every afternoon when people are coming and going. It just seems like the perfect audience," she said.
Gilman also invited members of the media to be givers on World Book Night, among them Los Angeles Times book critic David L. Ulin. Mysterious Galaxy joined forces with [pages] a bookstore, located in Manhattan Beach, to promote the event with a dual press release. A goal of the media outreach, noted LeAnna Herrera, marketing and events manager at the Redondo Beach store, in an e-mail to givers "is to raise awareness about World Book Night so that more book lovers have the opportunity to participate in next year's event."
|WBN givers gather at Anderson's Bookshop in Naperville, Ill.|
Orson Scott Card is appearing at the wrap-up party in San Diego, talking about his works as well as World Book Night. (The 30 authors whose books are part of the initiative are forgoing royalties on the special edition copies.) Attending the Redondo Beach post-gathering is Cynthia Fox from Southern California radio station KLOS 95.5; on May 2 she'll be interviewing World Book Night givers on the show Spotlight on the Community. At both mixers, givers will have the opportunity to record their experiences on video or in a journal. Videos will be posted on the store's YouTube channel.
In the works at Riverwalk Books in Chelan, Wash., is a post-World Book Night event with an international twist. The store's 35 givers will swap stories with their counterparts at the Bookcase in Lowdham, England, via Skype. Riverwalk owner Libby Manthey and Jane Streeter, the Bookcase founder and president of the Booksellers Association of the U.K. and Ireland, came up with the idea after meeting at this year's Winter Institute, where they were on a panel together. (The only World Book Night selection being given away both Stateside and in the U.K. is The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.)
On World Book Night, Manthey plans to surprise customers at restaurants and taverns along Chelan's main street. Her title of choice is Maya Angelou's I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. A teen giver is dispensing copies of Ender's Game at track practice, while another plans to distribute a Spanish-language edition of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz among the town's Hispanic community.
Manthey has stirred up interest about World Book Night with area residents and out-of-towners. Canadian vacationers who stopped by the store expressed the wish that their country would take part. She spoke about the literary initiative to the city council and to school board members, one of whom in turn talked it up to her son; he's now a giver in another town. And earlier this month, the mayor made a special proclamation: April 23 has officially been declared World Book Night in Chelan. --Shannon McKenna Schmidt
top photo: boxes ready to go at Bookpeople
Portrait of a Bookstore Is Closing
Portrait of a Bookstore, Studio City, Calif., will close May 17. In a farewell letter to "treasured friends and customers" posted on the bookshop's website, owners Julie and Frank von Zerneck wrote: "After 26 glorious years, 14 of them spent happily inside Aroma café, Portrait of a Bookstore is gracefully retiring. How could we say goodbye after 26 years of such success? In the words of Orson Welles, 'If you want a happy ending, that depends, of course, on where you stop your story.' This is our happy ending."
Jacket Copy's Carolyn Kellogg noted that since 1998, "the bookstore has been housed inside the sprawling Aroma Café, a warren of cozy rooms and outdoor patios. Portrait of a Bookstore occupies a 900-square-foot room that feels both completely its own and connected to the cafe around it. In its small space, it has packed a great range of independent bestsellers, classics, jewelry, children's books, greeting cards, unique glassware and other gifts.... But it wasn't the stuff in the store that its staff emphasized when I visited it in 2011. 'There are people who've been coming here for 20 years,' bookstore manager Aida Chaldranyan said. 'People 16 or 18 now that we watched grow up--from Green Eggs and Ham to Life of Pi.' "
Naples, Fla., to Lose a Books-A-Million
The Naples Plaza Books-A-Million store, Naples, Fla., will close this Saturday, according to WINK News, which reported that the BAM location across from Coastland Mall "had a sign posted Wednesday notifying customers of the looming closure and encouraging them to shop at the store inside Mercato. Employees will work through the month to ship books to other stores." A member of the staff said the bookstore's lease had not been renewed.
Obituary Note: Pat Grant
Pat Grant, co-owner of Windows a bookshop, Monroe, La., which closed in 2008 after 16 years in business, died of pancreatic cancer. She was 74.
With her partner, Elisabeth Grant-Gibson, she co-hosted the Book Report, a weekly radio show that aired from 2006-2008 and, co-wrote a newspaper column called "Louisiana Bookshelf."
Grant-Gibson commented: "Pat Grant was the reader that every writer dreams of having. She read with thought, with care, with a willingness to give a book time to unfold and reveal its mysteries. A complex, well-written book was a deep joy for her."
Image of the Day: Stairshelves
This new staircase at the NDSU Bookstore at North Dakota State University, Fargo, N.D., was envisioned by a design class that used the book department as a project. Bookstore director Carol Miller said, "When it was finished, I couldn't believe how great it looked and how well they used the slant of the staircase."
Queen Anne Books: More Details on Ownership Change
Earlier this month, in a tweet from Queen Anne Books, Seattle, Wash., Patti McCall announced that her shop had been sold to Katharine Hershey. Yesterday, the Queen Anne View blog provided more details, noting that Hershey "plans a seamless transition with the intent of maintaining the store’s tradition of community involvement."
"This fulfills a lifelong dream I've had to own a bookstore, and most particularly to be a part of Queen Anne Books," she said. "This store is such an important part of the Queen Anne neighborhood. Clearly, bookstores and bookselling are in a time of huge transition. It is my goal to maintain our traditional bookselling model while embracing marketplace changes."
Hershey, who is an attorney and former King County Superior Court commissioner, "brings a passion for writing and reading to her new position. She is committed to enhancing the reading lives of children and young adults, and will continue Queen Anne Books' history of working closely with neighborhood schools and local literacy programs," Queen Anne View wrote.
A post on the bookstore's Facebook page yesterday announced: "This week is dedicated to awesome women who own bookstores--Thank You Patti and Welcome (our new owner) Katharine!"
Book Blurb Requests: The Price Guide
"You claim to be friends with a friend of mine, but that friend of mine hates you. (+$100)." In a New Yorker "Shouts and Murmurs" piece, Adam Mansbach tackled the thorny issue of book blurb requests with a "Dear Novelist" letter and "new, comprehensive pricing system." Even though his tongue is planted firmly in cheek (more or less), the list could still send a few shivers up the spines of many a blurb-hunting author.
Book Trailer of the Day: Hollywood Boulevard
Hollywood Boulevard by Janyce Stefan-Cole (Unbridled Books).
Media and Movies
Media Heat: Bill Clegg on NPR's Talk of the Nation
Today on NPR's Talk of the Nation: Bill Clegg, author of Ninety Days: A Memoir of Recovery (Little, Brown, $24.99, 9780316122528).
Tomorrow morning on the Today Show: Cynthia Sass, author of S.A.S.S. Yourself Slim: Conquer Cravings, Drop Pounds, and Lose Inches (HarperOne, $15.99, 9780061974656). She will also appear on Dateline.
Tomorrow on the View: Dr. Steven Lamm, co-author of No Guts, No Glory: Gut Solution--the Core of Your Total Wellness (Basic Health, $18.95, 9781591203049).
Tomorrow night on HBO's Real Time with Bill Maher: Ross Douthat, author of Bad Religion: How We Became a Nation of Heretics (Free Press, $26, 9781439178300).
Movie Visuals: Ender's Game Production Tumblr
The highly anticipated movie version of Orson Scott Card's novel Ender's Game won't be released until the fall of 2013, but fans can track the film's progress on the official Ender’s Game production Tumblr. The adaptation, which is directed by Gavin Hood, stars Abigail Breslin, Harrison Ford and Asa Butterfield.
This Weekend on Book TV: L.A. Times Festival of Books
Book TV airs on C-Span 2 this week from 8 a.m. Saturday to 8 a.m. Monday and focuses on political and historical books as well as the book industry. The following are highlights for this coming weekend. For more information, go to Book TV's website.
Saturday, April 21
9:15 a.m. At an event hosted by Rediscovered Books, Boise, Idaho, Scott Farris discusses his book Almost President: The Men Who Lost the Race but Changed the Nation (Lyons Press, $24.95, 9780762763788). (Re-airs Saturday at 11 p.m.)
12 p.m. At an event hosted by the Kansas City Public Library, Kansas City, Mo., Philip White talks about his book Our Supreme Task: How Winston Churchill's Iron Curtain Speech Defined the Cold War Alliance (PublicAffairs, $26.99, 9781610390590).
1:15 p.m. John T. Shaw presents his book Richard G. Lugar: Statesman of the Senate: Crafting Foreign Policy From Capitol Hill (Indiana University Press, $28, 9780253001931). (Re-airs Sunday at 10 p.m.)
2 p.m. Book TV offers live coverage of the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, featuring authors Adam Goodheart, Adam Hochschild, Andrew Nagorski, Hipolito Acosta, John Farrell, Jim Newton, Richard Reeves, Tracie McMillan, Joel Achenbach, Robert Scheer, Amy Wilentz, Benjamin Busch, Daniel Arnold, Deanne Stillman, Susan Suntree and Steven Ross. (Re-airs Sunday at 12 a.m.)
8 p.m. South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley discusses her memoir Can't Is Not an Option: My American Story (Sentinel, $27.95, 9781595230850). (Re-airs Sunday at 10:15 a.m. and Monday at 7 a.m.)
8:45 p.m. KQED Public Radio host Dave Iverson interviews Jon Gertner, author of The Idea Factory: Bell Labs and the Great Age of American Innovation (Penguin, $29.95, 9781594203282).
10 p.m. After Words. Los Angeles Times Supreme Court reporter David Savage interviews Dale Carpenter, author of Flagrant Conduct: How a Bedroom Arrest Decriminalized Gay Americans (Norton, $29.95, 9780393062083). (Re-airs Sunday at 9 p.m. and Monday at 12 a.m.)
Sunday, April 22
6 a.m. Guy Gugliotta, author of Freedom's Cap: The United States Capitol and the Coming of the Civil War (Hill and Wang, $35, 9780809046812), examines the creation of the Capitol building in Washington, D.C. (Re-airs Sunday at 8 p.m.)
9 a.m. Richard Epstein discusses his book Design for Liberty: Private Property, Public Administration and the Rule of Law (Harvard University Press, $29.95, 9780674061842). (Re-airs Sunday at 10:45 p.m.)
2 p.m. Book TV's live coverage of the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books continues, featuring authors Eric Alterman, Lori Andrews, Edward Humes, Kendra Pierre-Louis, Anna Sklar, Nancy Cohen, Lori Andrews, Annie Jacobsen, Michael Shermer, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Tom Hayden, Abe Peck and Robert Scheer. (Re-airs Monday at 1 a.m.)
Books & Authors
Awards: Canadian Library Association Children's Books
Kit Pearson won the Canadian Library Association's Book of the Year for Children award for her novel The Whole Truth, Quillblog reported. All Good Children by Catherine Austen received the CLA Young Adult Book Award and Matthew Forsythe won the Amelia Frances Howard-Gibbon Illustrator’s Award for My Name Is Elizabeth!, written by Annika Dunklee. The winners will be honored May 31 at the CLA national conference and trade show in Ottawa.
Review: Over Time: My Life as a Sportswriter
Over Time: My Life as a Sportswriter by Frank Deford (Atlantic Monthly Press, $25 hardcover, 9780802120151, May 1, 2012)
In a career that began with Sports Illustrated in 1962 and has continued in a diverse assortment of venues including NPR, HBO and the short-lived National Sports Daily, Frank Deford has had an unusual perspective on the evolution of the modern sports world. In Over Time, his candid, often self-deprecating memoir, he shares many of his high and low moments in the realm one of his writing idols, Jimmy Cannon, once called the "toy shop."
Deford's memoir has the flavor of a congenial evening spent hanging out at one of the Manhattan watering holes he frequented with his SI colleagues in the '60s and '70s. Interspersed with brief profiles of sports legends like his close friends Arthur Ashe and Billie Jean King, Wilt Chamberlain and sportswriting pioneers like Grantland Rice, are snippets of autobiography--from Deford's days growing up in Baltimore to his college years at Princeton (where he once took a course with Kingsley Amis) to his rise to prominence in the sportswriting business.
In most respects, Deford avoids lapsing into sentimentality about the "good old days" of sports journalism. But some of his stories--such as the drink tabs he'd pick up for prominent athletes on his expense account--seem quaint, to say the least. After covering the NBA in the '60s, Deford realized he'd rather be writing about sports personalities than about the games that soon would be ubiquitous on television. That decision launched him on an odyssey along the back roads of American sport, into the twilight world of roller derby and tractor pulls, in the process accumulating what he claims is the world's largest collection of hotel shampoo bottles. Deford also includes wry glimpses of his role as a participant in the Miller Lite ("Tastes Great! Less Filling!") ad campaign and of his trip with the SI swimsuit models.
He ruefully describes the 18 months he spent in 1990 and 1991 as editor of the ill-fated National Sports Daily, a role in which he helped burned through $150 million of the fortune of a genial Mexican billionaire trying to start a USA Today-like sports paper. In that failure, he sees a foreshadowing of the mortal wound the Internet has inflicted on the newspaper business. "We went out of business on our own before the Internet could do it to us," he writes.
As free of illusion as it is rich with wit and insight, Frank Deford's memoir reveals the life of a man whose talent is every bit the equal of the great athletes whose stories he's revealed to us. --Harvey Freedenberg, attorney and freelance reviewer
Shelf Talker: Eminent sportswriter Frank Deford offers a look back at his half century covering the games we find so compelling.