Also published on this date: Tuesday, June 19, 2012: Kids' Maximum Shelf: Seraphina

Shelf Awareness for Tuesday, June 19, 2012


Penguin Press: Astral Weeks: A Secret History of 1968 by Ryan H. Walsh

Scribner Book Company: The Wolves of Winter by Tyrell Johnson

St. Martin's Press: After Anna by Lisa Scottoline

Little Brown and Company: The Recovering: Intoxication and Its Aftermath by Leslie Jamison

Houghton Mifflin: Playing Atari with Saddam Hussein: Based on a True Story by Jennifer Roy with Ali Fadhil

News

B&N: Slight Fourth Quarter Gain Helps Trim Losses

In the fourth quarter ended April 28, revenues at Barnes & Noble rose 0.4%, to $1.4 billion, and the net loss was $57.7 million, a 3% improvement over the same period last year. For the full year, revenues rose 2%, to $7.1 billion, and the net loss was $68.9 million, a 7% improvement over the previous year.

The loss of $1.08 a share is slightly higher than analyst estimates of 93 cents a share, and sales were below estimates of $1.48 billion, which may lead to a decline in B&N stock today.

In the fourth quarter, sales at B&N bookstores open at least a year rose 4.5% and for the year rose 1.4%. B&N attributed the gains to "the liquidation of Borders' bookstores during fiscal 2012, increased sales of NOOK products, and a strong title lineup including the Hunger Games and Fifty Shades of Grey trilogies." Comp-store "core" bookstore sales, which exclude sales of Nook products, rose 6.9% in the quarter and 0.7% for the full year. BN.com sales declined in both the quarter and fiscal year.

For the quarter, bookstore sales rose 0.5%, to $1.05 billion; college revenues rose 5.7%, to $228 million; and Nook revenues fell 10.5%. to $164 million. For the year, bookstore sales fell 1.5%, to $4.9 billion; college revenues fell 1.9%, to $1.7 billion; and Nook revenues rose 34.3%, to $933 million.

Concerning Nook sales this year, B&N said that "device sales declined during the fourth quarter due to higher third-party channel partner returns, lower selling volume and lower average selling prices. In order to optimize the supply chain for new products, the company took back Nook Simple Touch inventory following the previously announced holiday sales shortfall."

Digital content sales--including digital books, digital newsstand and apps--increased 65% in the fourth quarter and 119% for the full year (to $483 million) on a comparable basis.

In comments, CEO William Lynch said, "We grew our business in 2012 while continuing to make the necessary investments for the future of the business." Noting the new partnership with Microsoft, the new Nook Simple Touch with GlowLight, and solid comp-store sales in the fourth quarter, he added, "As we look out to fiscal 2013, we feel the company is strategically well positioned to grow value for shareholders."


GLOW: Grove Atlantic: The Mercy Seat by Elizabeth H. Winthrop


Holtzbrinck Reorganization: Sargent to Command Global Trade

Georg von Holtzbrinck Publishing Group is dividing into three divisions: global trade, global science and education and media, the Bookseller reported. The company had been organized on geographic lines.

John Sargent, CEO of Macmillan in the U.S., will head the global trade division, which includes all the company's consumer book operations in the U.S., U.K., Germany and Australia. U.S. companies include Holt, St. Martin's Press and Farrar, Straus & Giroux.

Annette Thomas, currently CEO of Macmillan U.K., is becoming head of the global science and education group, which includes, among others, Palgrave Macmillan, Macmillan Education and Macmillan Higher Education.

In a statement, Holtzbrinck chairman Stefan von Holtzbrinck said, "The science, education and consumer publishing markets are experiencing significant changes, offering us many new opportunities. The reorganization will allow us to take even more advantage of the converging forces of digitization and globalization by providing us with increased focus and flexibility. There will be more opportunities for cooperation in exciting projects around the globe."


Clarion Books: The Stone Girl's Story by Sarah Beth Durst


Barbara's Opening in Boston Macy's--and More

In the next few weeks, Barbara's Bookstore will open a 300-sq.-ft. space in the Macy's in Downtown Crossing, Boston, Mass., and will soon roll out sections in "dozens" of Macy's, the Boston Herald reported.

Barbara's co-owner Don Barliant told the Herald: "We have a project with Macy's in which we are bringing books back to the department stores."

Barbara's Bookstore first opened on Wells Street in Old Town in Chicago in the 1960s, and has expanded in the Chicago area and the Northeast to include branches in railroad stations, airports, office towers and a hospital. Barbara's has had a branch in Macy's in downtown Chicago for almost nine years.

 


Oxford University Press: Hate: Why We Should Resist It with Free Speech, Not Censorship by Nadine Strossen


Rock Bottom Remainders Farewell Tour

The Rock Bottom Remainders, the author band that has raised an estimated $2 million for charity over the past 20 years, is disbanding after playing two concerts in Southern California this month, the Hollywood Reporter wrote.

The band, which has included Stephen King, Dave Barry, Amy Tan and Scott Turow, was organized by literary escort Kathi Kamen Goldmark, who died last month (Shelf Awareness, May 25, 2012). Barry commented: "We sort of felt this would be a good time to end it because it just isn't going to be the same without Kathi."

In a way the band is coming full circle: the Rock Bottom Remainders will play its last show this Saturday, June 23, at the ALA convention in Anaheim, the site of its first gig ever, at an old ABA show, in 1992.


Clinton-Bezos Kindle Press Conference Postponed

We'll all have to wait a little longer to learn more about the Kindle Mobile Learning Initiative.

Tomorrow's press conference at which Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Amazon.com CEO Jeff Bezos were to discuss the program has been postponed to an unspecified later date, paidcontent.org reported. A State Department spokesperson said that the postponement resulted from Clinton's travel plans.

As noted here yesterday, the Initiative intends to create "a global e-reader program that introduces aspects of U.S. society and culture directly to young people, students, and international audiences in new ways and expands English language learning opportunities worldwide."

Under a no-bid contract that is still in a "pilot program" phase, the State Department will pay $2.29 million to Amazon in the first year of the program for 2,500 Kindles, content, support and more. Over five years, the full cost of the program could be $16.5 million for 7,000 Kindles a year.


Obituary Note: Erica Kennedy

Erica Kennedy, the author of the 2004 bestseller Bling, "a satirical roman à clef about the world of hip hop," died last week at the age of 42.

When Bling was published, the New York Times wrote, it "captured the attention of the news media, partly for its portrayal of a world of flowing Cristal, powder blue Bentleys and platinum teeth, and partly for the fevered guessing game it engendered: Was its hip hop mogul based on Russell Simmons, a founder of Def Jam Recordings and a friend of Ms. Kennedy? Was its foul-tempered supermodel a thinly veiled Naomi Campbell?"

Kennedy's second novel, Feminista, was a reworking of The Taming of the Shrew.




Notes

Image of the Day: All Out for Team Cul de Sac

On June 12, One More Page, Arlington, Va., hosted a launch party and fundraiser for Team Cul de Sac: Cartoonists Draw the Line at Parkinson's (Andrews McMeel), which contains artwork from cartoonists and illustrators inspired by the comic strip Cul de Sac. Twenty cartoonist-contributors came to the party to sign books and celebrate with Richard Thompson, the cartoonist behind Cul de Sac (who has Parkinson's), and Chris Sparks, who leads the Team Cul de Sac fundraising efforts. A portion of the day's sales went to Team Cul de Sac, which is part of the Michael J. Fox Foundation. One More Page owner Eileen McGervey described the event this way: "There was cake, snacks, cartoonists/illustrators and fans everywhere, some queuing up to an hour early. The store was quite literally so packed that we had to move a big chair outside to make space. After the event wound down, the cartoonists stayed, visiting with each other and signing each other's books." She called the event "wonderful chaos because there was so much going on, but it was so fantastic."

 


Algonquin Book Club Reconvenes Tonight

Tonight at 7 p.m. is the next live webcast of the Algonquin Book Club, this episode entitled, "Are You There Judy? It's Me, Tayari," during which the legendary Judy Blume and Tayari Jones will discuss Tayari's novel Silver Sparrow. The event takes place at the Barnes & Noble on East 86th St. in New York City and will be broadcast on algonquin.com. Blume and Jones will take questions both from the store audience and viewers.

 


Media and Movies

Media Heat: Oliver Pötzsch on On Point

Today on ABC's the Revolution: Marshall Reid and Alexandra Reid, authors of Portion Size Me: A Kid-Driven Plan to a Healthier Family (Sourcebooks, $16.99, 9781402265822).

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Tomorrow morning on Good Morning America: Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi, author of Gorilla Beach (Gallery, $25, 9781451657081). She will also appear on the View.

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Tomorrow morning on CNN's Early Start: David Maraniss, author of Barack Obama: The Story (Simon & Schuster, $32.50, 9781439160404). He will also appear on Charlie Rose.

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Tomorrow on CNN's Starting Point: Don Winslow, author of The Kings of Cool: A Prequel to Savages (Simon & Schuster, $25, 9781451665321).

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Tomorrow on the Book Report with JJK: Norton Juster, author of The Phantom Tollbooth, illustrated by Jules Feiffer (Random House, $19.95, 9780394815008; $6.99, 9780394820378).

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Tomorrow on MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews: Manuel Roig-Franzia, author of The Rise of Marco Rubio (Simon & Schuster, $25, 9781451675450).

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Tomorrow on the View: Senator Marco Rubio, author of An American Son: A Memoir (Sentinel, $26.95, 9781595230942).

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Tomorrow on NPR's On Point: Oliver Pötzsch, author of The Dark Monk: A Hangman's Daughter Tale (Mariner, $18, 9780547807683).

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Tomorrow night on the Colbert Report: Daniel Klaidman, author of Kill or Capture: The War on Terror and the Soul of the Obama Presidency (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $28, 9780547547893).


Movie: Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, based on Seth Grahame-Smith's paranormal reimagining of American history, opens this coming Friday, June 22. Directed by Timur Bekmambetov, the movie stars Benjamin Walker as Lincoln, Mary Elizabeth Winstead as his wife and Alan Tudyk as Stephen Douglas. A movie tie-in is available from Grand Central ($14.99, 9781455510177).

 



Books & Authors

Awards: Walter Scott; David Gemmell

Sebastian Barry won the £25,000 (US$39,215) Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction for his novel On Canaan's Side, BBC News reported. The judges praised the book for its "wonderful writing, which, as Walter Scott did in his time, shifts perception on a period in history."

Barry said his first encounter with Scott "was unlocking a trunk, in my grandfather's attic, which contained the 'Waverley' novels. I felt as if I was excavating a tomb. I think that is an appropriate way to encounter a writer--as if you were literally retrieving him from the damp and history of your grandfather's life."

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The winners of this year's David Gemmell Awards for fantasy are:

Morningstar Award (best debut): Heir of Night by Helen Lowe
Legend Award (best novel): The Wise Man's Fear by Patrick Rothfuss
Ravenheart Award (best cover art): Raymond Swanland for Blood of Aenarion by William King
 


Attainment: New Titles Out Next Week

Selected new titles appearing next Tuesday, June 26:

Between the Lines by Jodi Picoult and Samantha van Leer (Simon Pulse, $19.99, 9781451635751) is a young adult romance about a storybook prince and a loner adolescent girl. Co-authored with Picoult's teenage daughter.

The Letter: My Journey Through Love, Loss, and Life by Marie Tillman (Grand Central, $23.99, 9780446571456) shares the life, grief, and gradual recovery process of the widow of Pat Tillman, the former NFL player who became an Army Ranger and died in Afghanistan.

The Boy Kings: A Journey into the Heart of the Social Network by Katherine Losse (Free Press, $26, 9781451668254) explores the young minds behind Facebook.

The Strange Fate of Kitty Easton by Elizabeth Speller (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $25, 9780547547527) is the second post-World War I historical mystery with architect Laurence Bartram.

The Age of Miracles: A Novel by Karen Thompson Walker (Random House, $26, 9780812992977) follows a young girl during the gradual, yet inevitably apocalyptic, slowing of the earth's rotation.

Shout Her Lovely Name by Natalie Serber (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $24, 9780547634524) is a debut collection of short stories about mothers and daughters.


Now in paperback:

Safe Haven by Nicholas Sparks (Grand Central, $7.99, 9780446547574).

Rules of Civility: A Novel by Amor Towles (Penguin, $16, 9780143121169).


Book Review

Review: A Hologram for the King

A Hologram for the King by Dave Eggers (McSweeney's Books, $25 hardcover, 9781936365746, June 19, 2012)

Dave Eggers's A Hologram for the King is a plunge into the contradictions of Saudi life--parking lots full of baboons, fake restaurants that appear just about to open, half-finished buildings with one floor luxuriously completed. It centers on Alan Clay, a broke, one-man consulting firm traveling to King Abdullah Economic City in Saudi Arabia as a representative of Reliant, the largest IT supplier in the world, to demonstrate a holographic teleconference system to 85-year-old King Abdullah himself. Alan is frustrated at every turn by broken promises and canceled meetings, while doubting his 54-year-old self (the rest of the IT team are all under 30) and worrying about an ominous lump on his neck.

When Alan accidentally sleeps in on the morning of his first royal appointment, he hires Yousef, a student driver, to rush him to the tent where he and his IT engineers await the no-show king. Yousef is the same age as Alan's daughter, with a wispy mustache and the stout frame of a penguin, who fears constantly that his ex-wife's new husband is trying to kill him. Yousef is a delightful comic creation, always knowing more than he's expected to know, able to spot the difference between jet lag and a hangover, full of opinions ("You fry anything, it tastes right"), always checking under the hood of the car, though he doesn't know exactly what a car bomb looks like ("How would I know? I watch the same TV shows as you"). The bonding between sad, blundering Alan and cheerful Yousef becomes the heart of the novel ("You keep thinking of reasons to see me, it's sweet").

The slight narrative is driven forward by the effortless clarity of Eggers's spare prose. Waiting for the king to appear proves to be like waiting for Godot, and the long stretches of inactivity transform the younger IT technicians into a ménage a trois while Alan begins a scary descent into alcoholism, outsourced and outbid, no longer necessary. It's heartbreaking stuff, the American tragedy in human form.

Unlike Eggers's more passionate works, such as What Is the What and Zeitoun, A Hologram for the King is a character study without a political agenda or even much of a plot--a mid-life crisis set in an exotic Middle Eastern setting, telling its own tale at its own pace, eluding easy categorization and genre expectations, as Alan Clay faces his own lack of achievement and his failures as a parent amid the contradictions and mysteries of Saudi culture. --Nick DiMartino

Shelf Talker: A middle-aged salesman finds himself in Saudi Arabia waiting to demonstrate a hologram to a king who never shows up in Dave Eggers's new international take on our times.

 


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