Shelf Awareness for Friday, April 20, 2012
Quotation of the Day
Bus Trip: Booksellers & Readers 'Make the Wheels Go Round'
"We're all so different.... But what we share is a passion for writing, reading, and for the purpose we’re on this bus--to spend time with readers and booksellers. They feed us. They sustain us. And they inspire us. It's the booksellers and readers that make the wheels go round....
"And from the passions we are encountering on our road trip, we're sure when these storms pass writers and readers will still be standing. And the glue that binds them to each other, booksellers, will still be standing too. And that's the one view we are getting to see from the bus tour."
where she chronicled the recent Atria's Great Mystery Bus Tour she took with authors Liza Marklund, John Connolly and William Kent Krueger. For the past week, they traveled to 12 cities, appearing at 10 indie bookstores and two Barnes & Noble locations.
Three Cups of Tea Readers Want a Refund
At a federal court hearing Wednesday in Great Falls, Mont., author Greg Mortenson and his publisher sought dismissal of a lawsuit that "aims to obtain class-action relief for book-buyers allegedly defrauded by purported fabrications" in Three Cups of Tea and Stones into Schools. The suit was filed by a number of people in California and Montana--including two Montana state legislators--"who said they were inspired by Mortenson's lectures and decided to buy his book," the Los Angeles Times reported. U.S. District Judge Sam E. Haddon said he would render a decision later.
According to the Times, the class-action case "is potentially crucial for book publishers, the defendants argue, because if it succeeds--which is by no means certain--it could mean that publishers would be liable to defend lawsuits and reimburse readers every time a memoir turned out to have an inflated recollection of events."
Attorneys for Penguin Group, which published Three Cups of Tea in 2006, contended that "if a publisher were required to guarantee or ensure the truth and accuracy of everything an author says, the costs of publishing books would be prohibitive."
In another brief, the defendants argued that the courts are not an appropriate place to debate the accuracy of memoirs: "If the plaintiffs disagree with the books' contents, they can debate it in their homes, their schools, their communities; write articles about it; blog about it; or tell others not to buy the books. Plaintiffs should not be allowed to create a world where authors are exposed to the debilitating expense of class-action litigation just because someone believes a book contains inaccuracies."
Earlier this month, in a settlement with Montana's attorney general, Mortenson agreed to pay the Central Asia Institute $1 million in restitution for travel and book-related expenses he failed to reimburse the organization over several years.
The Most 'E-Literate' Cities in the U.S.
Is Lexington, Ky., the most e-literate city in America? In the Atlantic, Rohin Dhar, co-founder of Priceonomics, a sale and resale database start-up, wrote that when "you dig into the data about where Kindles are actually bought and sold, the most 'cosmopolitan' cities in America are soundly beaten by mid-sized cities in the Midwest and South."
Analyzing its database of eight million electronics for sale by city, Priceonomics "examined how prevalent the Amazon Kindle was by city to rank how popular e-reading was across the nation (we also examined Nook sales, which didn't change the results)." According to the research, Lexington topped the e-literate city list, just ahead of Ann Arbor, Mich., and Anchorage, Alaska. Dhar offered a few observations on the findings:
- Major metropolitan cities like San Francisco, Seattle, Miami, Chicago and L.A. get crushed in these rankings.
- College towns like Lexington, Madison and Ann Arbor fare the best in Kindle ownership.
- Fresno, Calif. is the most digitally illiterate city in America. We are very disappointed in you. Same goes for Las Vegas and San Diego where a commitment to reading books on electronic devices is noticeably absent.
- We couldn't help but notice that the Kindle was least popular in places with the best weather.
Hudson Booksellers Reopens in Chicago's Ogilvie Center
Earlier this week, Hudson Booksellers opened a revamped shop on the first floor of Chicago's Ogilvie Transportation Center in what had previously been a Waldenbooks. The space "has served as a bookstore for almost as long as Ogilvie has existed," the Chicago Journal reported, noting that "even when Borders shut down most of its Chicago branches, the location remained open, surviving all the way until the company's final liquidation."
"A lot of people are coming in, saying they’ve been waiting since January," said store manager Josh Stevens, "and that they are glad the store finally opened." Hudson Group had opened the shop last October, using the original Waldenbooks fixtures, but closed in January for renovations to match the company's other locations.
Image of the day: Triangle Winners
|Paul Russell, Sarah Van Arsdale, Frances Goldin, Publisher Triangle treasurer Trent Duffy, Lara Fergus|
Introducing Frances Goldin as the recipient of the Publishing Triangle Leadership Award at this year's Triangle Awards ceremony at Manhattan's New School, Michael Denneny described the 87-year-old literary agent as "an exotic bird of paradise in the wren-filled world of corporate publishing" and "a mashup of Auntie Mame and Rosa Luxembourg." Though she was honored in part for her role as an early champion for gay and lesbian literature, her history of political and cultural activism has a much broader, more comprehensive streak, as typified by her urging the audience, soon after accepting the prize, to do something about "the disgusting lack of people of color in our industry." When the cheers died down, she followed up with an invitation to join her "and about 500 or 600 other people" at an Occupy movement protest next week.
In accepting the Bill Whitehead Award for Lifetime Achievement, graphic novelist Alison Bechdel allowed that it was "a very great honor, if perhaps a trifle immature," and spoke frankly about how the success of Fun Home enabled her to weather the changes that had taken place in gay and lesbian publishing in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
Lara Fergus, winner of the Edmund White Award for Debut Fiction for her novel My Sister Chaos (Spinifex Press), thanked the Publishing Triangle for granting eligibility to non-American authors such as herself, as "there's not enough lesbians in Australia. That's not just a personal frustration," she quipped, "it's a demographic reality" making lesbian-centric literary awards much less viable there.
And, in presenting the Ferro-Grumley Award for LGBT Fiction to Paul Russell for The Unreal Life of Sergey Nabokov, co-judge Sarah Van Arsdale singled the book out as "a major novel that deserved to be published by a major house," but which had been served incredibly well by independent Cleis Press. Russell concurred, stating that after a long time in corporate publishing, "never have I felt myself in such competent, professional hands as I have at Cleis."
Cool Idea of the Day: SinC Thanks Booksellers and Librarians
Sisters in Crime is holding a "Booksellers and Librarians Solve Mysteries Every Day" event tomorrow to express the organization's appreciation for their support.
"In honor of the 25th anniversary of the founding of Sisters in Crime, we are very pleased to be able to thank some of the people who work the hardest on the front lines of publishing by rolling up our sleeves and working beside them," said Frankie Y. Bailey, SinC's president.
Tomorrow's celebration launches a pilot program to bring a select group of SinC member authors into a number of bookstores and libraries across the U.S., where they will work as volunteers from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
"We know that, in their efforts to help readers find the right books at the right time, booksellers and librarians solve countless mysteries every day," said SinC board member Jim Huang, coordinator of the event and a former indie bookstore owner. "This is our opportunity to thank them in a tangible way--and to find out what the publishing world is like from their perspective."
Check here for a list of participating authors, bookstores, and libraries. In addition to the in-store and in-library volunteer project, SinC's 3,000-plus members plan to support the "Solving Mysteries Day" event tomorrow by visiting libraries and bookstores to personally thank booksellers and librarians.
A Celebration of Diana Wynne Jones
Fantasy author Diana Wynne Jones, who died a year ago, will be honored at a memorial in the U.K. on Sunday. A Tumblr has been set up for authors, librarians, teachers and fans to share their thoughts about the author. There's a schedule of participants, including Neil Gaiman and Megan Whalen Turner. On Twitter, the hashtag is #dwj2012.
Two of Wynne Jones's editors, Virginia Duncan, v-p and publisher of Greenwillow Books, and Sharyn November, senior editor of Viking Children's Books and editorial director of Firebird, share some of their favorite memories of her in today's issue of Shelf Awareness for Readers.
Time Machine Moment: Comic-Con 1980
Buzzfeed showcased photos from Comic-Con in 1980, noting that Star Wars was clearly the hot topic at the time.
Promotions at HarperCollins, Chronicle, Viking Penguin, Abrams
At HarperCollins, Tina Andreadis has been promoted to v-p, senior executive director of publicity for Harper, Ecco, Amistad, Harper Perennial, Harper paperbacks, Harper Audio, It Books and Harper Design. She was formerly v-p and director of publicity and joined the company in 2005.
Todd Mullins has been named national accounts manager in special markets at Chronicle Books. Most recently he was v-p of sales at Hero Arts.
At Viking Penguin:
- Meghan Fallon has been promoted to publicist. She joined the department in 2008 as an assistant and was promoted to associate publicist in 2011.
- Rebecca Lang has been promoted to associate publicist. She joined the company in 2010 after an internship at Penguin Press and after working in the publicity department at Holt.
- Elaine Broeder has been promoted to associate publicist. She joined the company in 2010 as Maureen Donnelly's assistant.
In the Young Readers division of Abrams Books:
- Laura Mihalick has been promoted to assistant marketing and publicity manager. She was formerly marketing and publicity associate.
- Mary Ann Zissimos has been promoted to senior publicist from publicist.
- Morgan Dubin has joined the publicity and marketing department as an assistant.
Book Trailer of the Day: Nocturnal
Nocturnal: A Novel by Scott Sigler (Crown).
Media and Movies
Media Heat: Eric Alterman on Moyers & Company
Tomorrow on NPR's Weekend Edition: Philip Delves Broughton, author of The Art of the Sale: Learning from the Masters About the Business of Life (Penguin, $27.95, 9781594203329).
Sunday on NPR's Weekend Edition: Meg Jay, author of The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter--and How to Make the Most of Them Now (Twelve/Hachette, $22.99, 9780446561761).
Sunday on Moyers & Company: Eric Alterman, co-author of The Cause: The Fight for American Liberalism from Franklin Roosevelt to Barack Obama (Viking, $32.95, 9780670023431).
Movie Visuals: Cosmopolis Trailer
A full trailer has been released for David Cronenberg's Cosmopolis, adapted from Don DeLillo's novel. The movie, which will be at the Cannes Film Festival and hit French theaters May 23, "offers the most promising non-Twilight role for Robert Pattinson yet as the billionaire Eric Packer who has one helluva day in his limousine," Indiewire reported, adding that Cronenberg "is in full form here, even going back to his psycho-sexual roots in what looks like something out of a Terry Gilliam film inspired by an LSD trip." The cast also includes Juliette Binoche, Paul Giamatti, Sarah Gadon and Jay Baruchel.
Books & Authors
Awards: PubWest Book Design; Orion Shortlist
The Publishers Association of the West has announced the winners of the PubWest Book Design Awards, recognizing excellent design and outstanding production quality of books from independent publishers in 23 different categories, as well as giving a special award for Judges’ Choice. To see them, go to pubwest.org. Winners will be honored at PubWest's national publishing conference October 25-27 in Keystone, Colorado.
Finalists have been announced for the Orion Book Award, which recognizes a work of fiction or nonfiction that "addresses the human relationship with the natural world in a fresh, thought-provoking, and engaging manner." The winner will be named May 3. This year's Orion shortlist:
Oil on Water by Helon Habila (Norton)
Fire Season by Philip Connors (Ecco)
Swamplandia! by Karen Russell (Vintage)
The View from Lazy Point by Carl Safina (Picador)
Raising Elijah by Sandra Steingraber (Da Capo)
Shelf Sample: Pity the Beautiful
[Editors' note: in honor of National Poetry Month, we offer here a short excerpt from a new poetry title.]
Pity the Beautiful: Poems by Dana Gioia (Graywolf Press, $15 trade paper, 9781555976132, May 8, 2012)
Now you'd be three,
I said to myself,
seeing a child born
the same summer as you.
Now you'd be six,
or seven, or ten.
I watched you grow
in foreign bodies.
Leaping into a pool, all laughter,
or frowning over a keyboard,
but mostly just standing,
taller each time.
How splendid your most
mundane action seemed
in these joyful proxies.
I often held back tears.
Now you are twenty-one.
Finally, it makes sense
that you have moved away
Into your own afterlife.
Book Brahmin: Sarah Pekkanen
Sarah Pekkanen is the author of three novels. Her latest, These Girls, was published by Atria Books on April 10, 2012, and Library Journal called it a "smart novel by a rising star in women's fiction." A former journalist, Pekkanen lives in Maryland with her husband, three sons and rescue Lab.
On your nightstand now:
Lone Wolf by Jodi Picoult. Long ago, I interviewed Jodi and she mentioned that with three young kids, she wrote whenever she could snatch a bit of time, including in pick-up lanes at preschool. She inspired me so deeply--and now I have three young kids, and am writing in pick-up lanes at my son's preschool.
Favorite book when you were a child:
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. My grandmother gave me a beautiful hardback copy for Christmas when I was eight or nine, and I still cherish it.
Your top five authors:
My smart, sassy and all-around-wonderful high school classmate Laura Hillenbrand; Jennifer Weiner (whose novels made me think, "I want to write something like this!"--and now I've signed with her editor); Truman Capote; Mildred Wirt Benson, also known as Carolyn Keene (for giving me so many happy hours lost in Nancy Drew books when I was a girl); and J.K. Rowling, for sparking a deep love of reading in my sons.
Book you've faked reading:
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens, but I didn't mean to fake it--I forgot I hadn't read it.
Book you're an evangelist for:
I try to promote other authors on social media when I've read and enjoyed their books, so it constantly changes.
Book you've bought for the cover:
Open by Andre Agassi. Something about his eyes implied he'd keep the inherent promise of his title (and he did).
Book that changed your life:
In Cold Blood by Truman Capote, which showed that it's possible to write nonfiction that's as gripping as the best fiction. I tried to remember this lesson when I worked as a journalist for the Baltimore Sun and wrote narratives on everything from the Columbine school shootings to a night I spent in a seemingly haunted house.
Favorite line from a book:
"In my family, caprice always triumphed over logic, opinion slaughtered fact." --from Close Relations by Susan Isaacs.
Book you most want to read again for the first time:
It would have to be Bridget Jones's Diary by Helen Fielding if I was grumpy or sad, because it would be impossible to stay in a bad mood.
Review: Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk
Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk by Ben Fountain (Ecco Press, $25.99 hardcover, 9780060885595, May 1, 2012)
Ben Fountain (the story collection Brief Encounters with Che Guevara) has written a truly wondrous debut novel in Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk. On the face of it, this is the story of Bravo Squad, eight brave survivors of a horrendous firefight with Iraqi insurgents who are being celebrated at Texas Stadium on Thanksgiving Day as the Dallas Cowboys take the field. That is only part of the tale, though. They are feted, trotted around like prize winners at a county fair, made part of the halftime show and projected on the Jumbotron--then dropped when their marginal utility has been served.
One subplot covers an agent's attempts to get Bravo a movie contract, at $100,000 for each of them. It's an unimaginable amount of money for these kids (all but one of them poor) and they believe that the agent, Albert, can work his magic on their behalf. Another set piece is Bravo's visit to the owner's and high rollers' boxes--a glimpse of Valhalla for young men who have known nothing but privation, fear, bugs, mud and field rations for months. The panoply of riches on display, from cashmere-coated scions to silky blonde women, with huge tables of food and booze nearby and incessant bonhomie and jingoistic blather are all heady stuff for 19-year-old Billy Lynn and his comrades.
Billy is the centerpiece of the novel. The steady thrum that beats through every page is his realization that he will be back in Iraq in 36 hours.
We see everything through the lens of his experience, at the center of which is the loss of his good friend, Shroom, in the firefight. Shroom knew everything; now he is gone and Billy is on his own.
Fountain has drawn an indelible portrait of kids who have enlisted because they didn't have any better idea or been sent to war by a judge as an alternative to jail. They found themselves in circumstances they could never have imagined and are now facing a return to the very real prospect of being killed. This interlude of hand-shaking, back-slapping congratulations, Texas-big and full of bluster, is mostly for their hosts, not for them.
Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk is a sad, true story about what adventure wars do to us, all of us. If it doesn't bring you to your knees, read it again. --Valerie Ryan
Shelf Talker: After surviving a Iraqi firefight, Bravo Squad faces an overwhelming celebration on the home front.
Robert Gray: Thinking Out Loud About Poetry at BEA
Sometimes you just find yourself thinking out loud, even if the "voice" manifests as words on a screen. Here's a question that has been rattling around my brain recently: What if BookExpo had an official poet-in-residence next year?
That notion was sparked by an e-mail I received a couple of weeks ago from Leslie Reiner, co-owner of Inkwood Books, Tampa, Fla., regarding a column about poetry readers. "I really wish ABA and BookExpo could get the poet laureate each year to do the bookseller equivalent of a benediction at a breakfast," she noted. "Wouldn't that be wonderful? Appropriate? Even essential? Let's start a movement."
I was intrigued by the idea and asked her to elaborate. "I love poetry, and for years we have tried to celebrate Poetry Month by giving a discount if a customer can recite a published poem, no songs or nursery rhymes or limericks allowed, to our sales staff at checkout," she said. "It is almost always delightful (won't go into the exception), and sparks conversation that otherwise would never have happened."
Although bookstore poetry sections tend to be diminutive, Reiner suggested that trade show and conference organizers might still "try to feature it more (who am I kidding... feature it at all!) at our gatherings. Booksellers are so often delighted and inspired by the writers who speak at breakfasts or keynotes, and I feel having a poet read a poem or two at BookExpo or the ABA Winter Institute would be a great way to bring new readers to poetry and educate us all as well."
She also recommended extending an invitation to the U.S. poet laureate (currently Philip Levine), who "would be a natural choice, and the recent ones (Billy Collins, Ted Kooser, Kay Ryan come immediately to mind) have done so much to encourage wider readerships with annotated anthologies and other programs. It would be great to have our nation's top poet say hello to us all in verse, and I am sure publishers would be behind this. In particular I fantasize the audience to be one of the large gatherings, where the topic may not be poetry, but the poet can start the event... like an invocation of sorts."
Reiner added that she loves what DIESEL bookstore "is doing on their website, and I am sure others would have great suggestions. But most importantly I would love to have all booksellers, especially those who may not read poetry, hear the poet. Separate panels of poetry related interests would be fine, but my dream is to have the poet laureate address us all."
Whenever I think about the magical combination of poetry, bookseller and publisher, San Francisco's legendary City Lights is the first place that comes to mind, so I asked Paul Yamazaki for his thoughts on the idea. "Poetry is notably absent from BookExpo," he agreed. "I recall that Jack Shoemaker hosted a breakfast at 7:30 a.m. for Gary Snyder in Chicago that must have been interesting, but there is very little that I can recollect. A greater awareness/celebration of poetry is an idea that I would warmly support. A 'benediction' at breakfast is something I would be a little leery of. First it is breakfast and secondly I always think of a 'benediction' that requires distilled spirits. Being in New York, with the resources of St. Marks Poetry Project, Nuyorican Poets Cafe, Poets House, etc., there are a wealth of poets and organizations to collaborate with."
If New York is the city where poetry never sleeps, an official BEA poet-in-residence might just lend an air of, well, poetic justice to the show after all these years.
I have seen poetry as the center of conference attention--and even business conversation--before and it can be a beautiful thing. During a "Shameless Book Promotion" panel at the 2010 AWP Conference & Bookfair in Denver, I heard poet Todd Boss say, "I want my poetry to reach a popular audience. I find it troublesome that I should be forced to admit such a thing as if it were shameful." At the Bookfair, people were eagerly buying poetry collections from Tattered Cover's display table. Later, I watched Gary Snyder mesmerize 600-plus people in the Colorado Convention Center, telling us: "Fortunately, my poetry is not that complicated. You don't need to be an architect to walk into a building." And speaking of buildings, he also joked, "This is one big hall. I came by earlier to see the room and couldn't see the end of it."
Imagine a poet center stage at the Javits Center's "big hall." I do like it, but I'm really just thinking out loud.--Robert Gray, contributing editor (column archives available at Fresh Eyes Now)