Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, May 9, 2012
Capitola Book Café Starting Nonprofit, Fundraising
In the face of "the increasing challenges of online competition and the ongoing downturn in the economy," Capitola Book Café, Capitola, Calif., is restructuring its business in a way that several other independents, such as Kepler's in Menlo Park, Calif., have done recently.
Under the "hybrid" approach, the store's basic bookselling operation will remain a for-profit venture and will focus on "the business of selling books." Plans include, the store said, "streamlining the store's retail space, increasing its in-store book inventory, expanding its website offerings for e-books and direct-shipping of online orders, and refining its role as a cultural hub through the sale of unique products such as local art, antiques and handmade crafts."
At the same time, Capitola Book Café is creating a 501(c)(3) nonprofit called Books Belong that will manage and operate the store's events, education and outreach. Books Belong will be able to receive grants and donations from businesses and individuals.
Hoping to raise $285,000, the store is launching a six-week "Survive & Thrive" fundraising campaign that will run from May 20 through June 30. By raising that amount, the campaign aims to stabilize the store's "fiscal foundation (a result of the past five years' decline in sales), fund the transition to the new model (including development of the 501(c)(3)), and create a solid foundation from which to operate both entities going forward."
The campaign launches on May 20 with a "Survive & Thrive" kickoff party and fundraiser at the store that includes food, beer, wine, live bluegrass music by Windy Hill, and a silent auction that will feature donations and works that range from local artists and businesses to nationally known authors and publishers."
The store will offer a range of donation opportunities, including the "Books Belong Bookshelf Dedication" campaign, allowing customers "to honor their love of reading through permanent shelf plaques."
"This is an all or nothing effort," co-owner Wendy Mayer-Lochtefeld said. "We have a relationship with our community and were not prepared to give up without offering them an option for success. We believe this evolution creates a 21st century model for sustainability and growth in a neighborhood like ours. And we're going to need the community's help to make it happen."
Charlotte's BookMark Closing
The BookMark in Charlotte, N.C., is closing June 1, "weakened by a bad economy and a changing book industry," as the Charlotte Observer's Reading Life blog put it. Layoffs at the Bank of America, construction that diverted foot traffic and e-books were also culprits.
"Our sales are off half of what they used to be" in 2000, co-owner David Friese told the paper. "We've made a lot of friends and sold a lot of books. We're just not selling enough anymore."
Swift Books Moving to New Location
Swift Books, Orangeburg, S.C., will relocate to the Five Rivers Market at Chestnut Street and Ellis Avenue after nearly three years in a former Waldenbooks location at the Prince of Orange Mall. Edie Swift, who owns the shop with her husband Dean, told the Times & Democrat that the move would be more cost effective because rental or lease space at the mall is about three times higher than at the new location. The grand reopening is set for June 2.
"Everyone we told are excited about it," she said. "They have been to the Five Rivers Market and they are excited about it."
BAM Forms Committee to Evaluate Anderson Offer
Books-A-Million's board of directors has formed a special committee of two independent directors to evaluate the offer by chairman Clyde B. Anderson and his family to buy the company for $3.05 per share. The committee members, Albert C. Johnson and J. Barry Mason, have hired King & Spalding as legal counsel and are hiring financial advisors. Johnson is a CPA, financial consultant, a former Arthur Anderson partner and is an independent board member at Hibbett Sports; Mason is a former banker and a dean and business professor at the University of Alabama.
When the Anderson family bid was made, the offer was 20% higher than BAM's share price and valued the company at $48.8 million (Shelf Awareness, May 1, 2012). Since then, the stock has risen to the offer price and closed yesterday at $3.09. The Anderson family owns about 53% of the company.
In the days after the Anderson family offer, several law firms announced "investigations," citing concerns about whether the board is handling the proposal correctly and acting in the interests of all shareholders. Several shareholders have also complained about the offer.
Happy 20th Birthday, Broadway Books!
Sunday's 20th anniversary party for Broadway Books, Portland, Ore., featured champagne, sparkling water, cupcakes from the Helen Bernhard Bakery across the street, chocolate chips and congratulatory bouquets sent via Broadway Floral next door. The store also rented a photobooth, where celebrants took free photos with their favorite book or person. Here owners Sally McPherson (l.) and Roberta Dyer ham it up in the photobooth.
In honor of the store, author Brian Doyle offered the following tribute:
I was in my favorite independent bookstore in Oregon recently, pawing through the produce and surreptitiously looking to see if the proprietesses had left any unattended cookies, when I had A Roaring Epiphany. I realized that the store was a village green for ideas. A story-common. A crossroads for voices and songs and debates and memories. A chapel filled with ink. A pub without beer, mostly. I have seen dogs reading graphic novels there. I have seen people laugh and weep. I have seen people hug the proprietesses when said proprietesses found or suggested Exactly the Right Book for the left-handed Samoan-American boxing-maniac great-grandmother with a Sarah Palin tattoo on one bicep and Dave Eggers on the other. I have heard poets chant there. I have heard small children reading aloud, the coolest sound in the world. I have heard nutty essayists shouting and telling lewd stories with high glee and burble. I have seen a child buy a book and sit down on the floor and start reading it immediately. I have seen young people read their own work aloud for the first time in their whole blessed lives. I have seen the proprietors work twelve hours a day. They have worked awfully hard for inconsiderable coin for twenty years. They are story ambassadors. They are hope agents. They are imagineers and dream-merchants. They embrace technology and figure how to dance with it. They are word-shepherds and story-savers. They do brave crucial nutritious amazing necessary holy work. If no one savored and treasured and bought and sold and swapped and talked and argued about books in little cool energetic flavorful cheerful clean entertaining bookstores owned by the people who run them then we would starve for all sorts of lost books and stories and we would have only stories yelled at us from screens and stories sold to us by cold pollsters and that would be a reduction and dilution of the nation and species we are. If we did not have independent bookstores we would be even more herded prey to the most brilliant marketers among us than we are now and that would be a great shame. We do not publicly laud and shout our praise for the crucial work of independent booksellers as much as we should. But today I will. Today, after twenty years of Broadway Books, I take the rare chance of speaking for my fellow writers, and my fellow readers, and my fellow citizens, when I say hey, Broadway Books, thanks, and hey, cheerful brave proprietesses, thanks, for your hard work, and brave insistence on story, and witty generosity, and the cookies. Well done. Very well done. Is there any more beer?
Brian Doyle is a Portland author who has many times been allowed to chant, sing, shout, mutter, mumble, burble, stutter, shamble, amble, grumble, stammer, shout, whisper, guffaw, and giggle in the friendly confines of Broadway Books, in Portland, Ore., long may it wave.
Cash Mob of the Day: Phoenix Books
On Monday, a cash mob organized by Save Our Downtown descended on Phoenix Books, San Luis Obispo, Calif., the first action of its kind in the town. Allan Cooper, chairman of Save Our Downtown, said, Phoenix Books was selected because "we are concerned that bookstores are disappearing."
Book Trailer of the Day: Surfer Chick
Surfer Chick by Kristy Dempsey, illustrated by Henry Cole (Abrams Books for Young Readers).
Media and Movies
Media Heat: John Irving on Diane Rehm
This morning on MSNBC's Morning Joe: Paul Krugman, author of End This Depression Now! (Norton, $24.95, 9780393088779).
This morning on Imus in the Morning: Bill Bradley, author of We Can All Do Better (Vanguard, $24.99, 9781593157296).
Today on NPR's Diane Rehm Show: John Irving, author of In One Person: A Novel (Simon & Schuster, $28, 9781451664126).
Today on NPR's Fresh Air: Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, author of Moving the Mountain (Free Press, $24, 9781451656008).
Tomorrow morning on MSNBC's Morning Joe: Christopher Buckley, author of They Eat Puppies, Don't They? (Twelve/Hachette, $25.99, 9780446540971).
Tomorrow morning on Fox & Friends: Steve Guttenberg, author of The Guttenberg Bible (Thomas Dunne, $25.99, 9780312383459).
Tomorrow morning on Good Morning America: Robin and Lucimarian Roberts, authors of My Story, My Song--Mother-Daughter Reflections on Life and Faith (Upper Room, $18, 9780835811071).
Tomorrow on KCRW's Bookworm: Etgar Keret, author of Suddenly, A Knock on the Door, translated from the Hebrew by Nathan Englander, Miriam Schlesinger and Sondra Silverston (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $14, 9780374533335). As the show put it: "The Israeli writer's short, explosive and funny short stories voyage into the fantastic where a goldfish talks and a hit man is reincarnated as Winnie the Pooh. Etgar Keret says Israeli identity is not only ancient and traditional but also modern and chaotic. To capture its texture these stories are infused with current slang developed from ancient Hebrew and a polyglot of influences: Russian, Arabic and Yiddish."
Tomorrow on NPR's Talk of the Nation: Bernard Lewis, author of Notes on a Century: Reflections of a Middle East Historian (Viking, $28.95, 9780670023530).
Tomorrow night on the CBS Evening News: Will Allen, author of The Good Food Revolution: Growing Healthy Food, People, and Communities (Gotham, $26, 9781592407101).
Tomorrow night on the Daily Show: Robert Caro, author of The Passage of Power: The Years of Lyndon Johnson (Knopf, $35, 9780679405078).
Jeff Kinney on New Book Report with JJK
Jeff Kinney will be the very first guest on Sirious XM Radio's The Book Report with JJK, in honor of Children's Book Week. That's JJK as in Jarrett J. Krosoczka (Punk Farm; the Lunch Lady series). Anyone who's seen Krosoczka in action as emcee of the CBC Gala knows that he's the ideal choice for a radio show about children's books. But how did Mindy Thomas of Absolute Mindy fame discover the author-artist's hidden talent as a radio talk show host? Laryngitis.
When Mindy came down with laryngitis on the day Krosoczka was scheduled as a guest on her show, she coached him on how to interview the other guest, rather than cancel the broadcast. It went so well that she offered Krosoczka a twice-monthly spot on her program. The first will air tonight at 5:30 p.m. Eastern and will be rebroadcast over the weekend.
"It's great because I already know so many authors and consider them dear friends," said Krosoczka by phone, "and it's also a great way to meet new authors and make new friends." In addition to Kinney, Krosoczka has already taped an interview with author-artist Tony DiTerlizzi (the WondLa series) and Jeanne Birdsall (the Penderwicks series). Each interview will be five to 10 minutes long and "cheeky," Krosoczka said. Half of the interview will focus on the inspiration behind a particular book, what books the author read as a child, etc., and the other half will be an "pop quiz," with questions such as "Do you prefer Halloween or Thanksgiving?" Birdsall got a question that Krosoczka thought would stump her: "Who's your favorite Jonas brother?" But without missing a beat, she said, "Nick!" Other guests "in the can" thus far include Lisa Yee, Jef Czeka, Daniel Kirk and Mitali Perkins.
Krosoczka records the interviews on the go, then they're edited later. "They really sound as if they're out in the field and not like a pristine in-studio interview," he said. Rather than focus on an author or artist's latest book, the interviews will focus on the body of work, so they'll be "evergreen," Krosoczka said. "We can rerun them this weekend or in six months." Krosoczka introduces each episode with current book events, such as pointing children to BookWeekOnline for local Children's Book Week events, and mentioning local book festivals. He also designed a logo for the show himself, and commissioned a theme song from his friends in the band Recess Monkey.
Krosoczka pointed out that because the show airs at 5:30, it catches families on the drive home from after-school events. "People like us are on Twitter and Facebook, but we're connected to the gatekeepers," he explained. "The show is geared to kids 10 and under, and it's a chance to speak directly to our audience." --Jennifer M. Brown
Books & Authors
Awards: Elizabeth Longford Historical Biography
Frances Wilson won the £5,000 (US$8,098) Elizabeth Longford Prize for Historical Biography for her book How to Survive the Titanic or The Sinking of J. Bruce Ismay. She will be honored June 14 at the Society of Authors' annual awards party.
"The judges looked at a number of heavy-weight and absorbing historical biographies this year, but unanimously chose a book that brought something new to the genre," said chair of judges Roy Foster.
Attainment: New Titles Out Next Week
Selected new titles appearing next Tuesday, May 15:
The Chemistry of Tears by Peter Carey (Knopf, $26, 9780307592712) connects a modern museum curator with a long-dead inventor via a broken automaton.
Father's Day: A Journey into the Mind and Heart of My Extraordinary Son by Buzz Bissinger (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $26, 9780547816562) follows a father's cross-country road trip with his developmentally challenged son.
Dream New Dreams: Reimagining My Life After Loss by Jai Pausch (Crown Archetype, $24, 9780307888501) shares the struggles of the widow of Randy Pausch, author of The Last Lecture.
The Billy Bob Tapes: A Cave Full of Ghosts by Billy Bob Thornton and Kinky Friedman (Morrow, $26.99, 9780062101778) chronicles an actor's life and career.
On Par: The Everyday Golfer's Survival Guide by Bill Pennington (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $26, 9780547548449) is written by the author of the New York Times' On Par golf column.
The Undertow by Jo Baker (Knopf, $25.95, 9780307957092) follows four generations of a British family from World War I through the present.
Gorilla Beach by Nicole Polizzi (Gallery, $25, 9781451657081) is another book by Jersey Shore's "Snooki."
How Will You Measure Your Life? by Clayton M. Christensen, James Allworth and Karen Dillon (HarperBusiness, $25.99, 9780062102416) considers how career choices can create or hinder happiness.
Spoiled Rotten: How the Politics of Patronage Corrupted the Once Noble Democratic Party and Now Threatens the American Republic by Jay Cost (Broadside Books, $26.99, 9780062041159) equates government spending with political kickbacks.
The Blood of Heroes: The 13-Day Struggle for the Alamo--and the Sacrifice That Forged a Nation by James Donovan (Little, Brown, $29.99, 9780316053747) remembers an important precursor to the Mexican–American War.
Now in paperback:
Explosive Eighteen: A Stephanie Plum Novel by Janet Evanovich (Bantam, $8.99, 9780345527738).
TIME For Kids Almanac 2013 by the editors of Time for Kids Magazine (Time For Kids, $14.99, 9781603209212).
Shelter: A Novel by Frances Greenslade (Free Press, $15, 9781451661101).
Book Brahmin: Simon Mawer
Simon Mawer is the author of two works of nonfiction and nine novels, including Mendel's Dwarf, The Gospel of Judas, The Fall and The Glass Room, which was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 2009. His latest novel is Trapeze (Other Press, May 1, 2012). British by birth, Simon Mawer has lived and worked in Italy for more than 30 years. During much of that time he was a biology teacher as well as a writer.
On your nightstand now:
Night Falls on the City by Sarah Gainham, a book first published in the 1960s and about to be reissued in the U.K. 101, avenue Henri Martin by Régine Deforges, wonderfully trashy. I'm reading it for the French. Austerity Britain by David Kynaston. Gloom in postwar U.K. 'Twas ever thus....
Favorite book when you were a child:
I've no single favorite... and anyway, what age child? My favorite children's books, if I can count them as such, are the two Alice books; Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass. Of course, they are far more than children's books--any adult who has not read them is very seriously undereducated.
Your top five authors:
Evelyn Waugh, Vladimir Nabokov, John Updike, James Joyce, Graham Greene (I have not read Greene in ages but he was very important to me when I was young). I assume I'm not allowed to put Simon Mawer.
Book you've faked reading:
Ulysses by James Joyce, but it's no longer a fake--by way of my Kindle, I have now read it all, from cover to cover, sorry, end to end. What was it the attendant in the Louvre said to the little old lady who said she didn't like the Mona Lisa? "Madame, you are not judging the painting; the painting is judging you." Ulysses is that kind of work of art. It's almost a relief to discover that I found it wonderful.
Book you're an evangelist for:
Il giardino dei Finzi-Contini (The Garden of the Finzi-Continis) by Giorgio Bassani.
Book you've bought for the cover:
A cheap, trashy, economy edition of Moravia's Conjugal Love. It had a cheap, trashy painting of a cheap, trashy woman in cheap, trashy underwear sitting on an unmade bed. "Looks good," my girlfriend of the time said. It was, although she wasn't. I have the book still, but not the girlfriend.
Book that changed your life:
The Talisman by Walter Scott. When I was about nine we had a lesson called "Literature." Last thing on Friday. We sat at our desks while the teacher, Mr. Roper (known as Stringy) read a passage from a book. Then he went back to the beginning and dictated the passage for us to write down. It was like a mediaeval scriptorium. When I joined the class he was halfway through The Talisman. When I left it, he was still halfway through. It gave me a powerful sense of eternity--and made me realize there are better ways of teaching and better ways of getting to know books, and--pace fans of Walter Scott--better ways of writing them.
Favorite line from a book:
I recall poetry better than prose--obviously. But how about, "The sun shone, having no alternative, on the nothing new." (From Murphy by Samuel Beckett.) I don't think you get better than that. You've got everything from astrophysics to the human condition all wrapped up in 10 words.
Book you most want to read again for the first time:
The Garden of the Finzi-Continis.
Children's Review: The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore
The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore by William Joyce, Joe Bluhm , illus. by William Joyce and (Atheneum/S&S, $17.99 hardcover, 56p., ages 4-8, 9781442457027, June 19, 2012)
If you loved the Oscar-winning animated short that goes by the same title, you will take to heart the book on which the film is based. William Joyce exploits each medium to the fullest, offering moments unique to film and book while staying true to the love story of Mr. Morris Lessmore and his books.
Morris Lessmore's life "was a book of his own writing, one orderly page after another. He would open it every morning and write of his joys and sorrows, of all that he knew and everything that he hoped for." This serene opening scene shatters when a horrific storm carries Morris far from his home in the French Quarter of New Orleans, where he was contentedly writing on his wrought-iron terrace. After a twister sets him down in a black-and-white, pages-strewn terrain, he goes out in search of... what? He's not sure. A woman appears in vibrant color in the sky, pulled by "a festive squadron of flying books," and sends him down a volume with Humpty Dumpty featured in its pages. Soon the nursery rhyme hero leads Morris to a large building. An owl sculpture above the door welcomes him. Inside, light shines through the windows and door to reveal shelves upon shelves of books that flutter their pages, "as if each book were asking to be opened."
If you've seen the film, then you'll recognize some of these details. But the printed book allows you to scrutinize and appreciate them: a bust of Shakespeare over the interior door, a portrait of Mother Goose on the wall. The image of Morris with the stethoscope hints at the cinematic scene of Morris reading the book to revive it in the film, leading into a sequence of Morris cavorting, Gene Kelly–like, with dozens of two-legged books. The printed pages here depict the man running across the tops of capital letters, dangling from the hook of a "j" and pausing to read in a book's gutter. He concludes, "All stories matter," and begins to pass out books to his queued-up neighbors. As each receives his or her book, they undergo a metamorphosis from black-and-white sketches to full-color portraits. A sequence of scenes of the library with skies that evoke Maxfield Parrish chronicle the turning of the seasons. These lead up to the book's most moving moment: Morris Lessmore surrounded by his beloved books. "Morris Lessmore became stooped and crinkly. But the books never changed. Their stories stayed the same," and they care for him as he has cared for them.
Spare, elegant drawings hark back to Joyce's work in George Shrinks and Bently and Egg. They may be computer-rendered, but they reflect the artist's sure hand and an eye for just the right detail. The core of the story is the relationship between Morris and words--the words he writes and the words he reads. The straw-hatted hero stands in for all of us as readers, and the way the ink on the page pulses through us like the blood in our veins. And the way stories live on only when we share them. --Jennifer M. Brown
Shelf Talker: The love story of Morris Lessmore and his books, which inspired the Oscar-winning animated short, leaps to life in the pages of William Joyce's spare, elegant rendering.
A Tip of the Hat to Alex Shinder
Our apologies to 7th grader Alex Shinder (rather than Alex Schneider), who crafted the moving introduction to S.E. Hinton at the CBC Gala Monday night.
The Rumpus Legacy
What will we do without you?
You told us it was okay to be angry,
that our dinner would still be warm
after we got the rumpus out of our systems.
You gave us permission
to storm the night kitchen
With Ruth Krauss, you showed us a hole is to dig
and rugs are so dogs have napkins
and mud is to jump in and slide in and
And sometimes there is more to life
Than a round pillow upstairs
And a square pillow downstairs.
You loved Mozart and Melville
And Blake and Dickinson.
You didn't write for children.
You wrote, and someone said,
"That's for children."
You used FAO Schwarz's windows as bait
And caught Ursula Nordstrom.
You were generous to those you respected
And wasted no time with those you did not.
You were true to your vision
And you encouraged others to have theirs.
You had great mentors: Ursula and
Michael di Capua, Ruth Krauss
and Dave "Crockett" Johnson.
You loved what they taught you
And you loved teaching others.
The truth is you taught us all.
We are all changed by your vision.
And we will not do without you
Because you are within us.
We have only to look.
"This country has a horror
of anything below the surface," you said.
"To be an artist now
you have to question your motives.
What are you doing and
who is it for?"
You quoted Herman Melville:
"Artists have to take a dive.
And either you hit your head on a rock
and split your skull and die,
or that blow to the head is so inspiring
that you come back up
and do the best work you've ever done.
But you have to take the dive.
And you do not know what the results will be."
Thank you for taking the dive.
Over and over again.
"I have nothing now but praise
for my life,"
you said last fall on NPR.
"I'm not unhappy.
I cry a lot because I miss people.
They die and I can't stop them.
They leave me and I love them more."
May you be with those you love.
We have nothing now but praise
for your life.
And we miss you already.
--Jennifer M. Brown