Shelf Awareness for Thursday, August 30, 2012
Quotation of the Day
Indie Booksellers as Agents of Social Change
"But for me, part of why I'm in bookselling is actually about social change; I am interested in the creation and rebuilding of alternative, localized cultures, as well as more democratic, localized economic institutions. Independent bookstores are a pretty perfect intersection of those two things."
Kobo Is ABA's New E-Book, E-Reader Partner
In a new partnership with the American Booksellers Association, Kobo will replace Google eBooks as the e-book provider for many independent bookstores. The agreement goes beyond the one with Google, which covered only e-books: booksellers will be able to sell Kobo e-book readers and accessories, and Kobo, which has experience working with a range of booksellers around the world, will provide ABA participants with "training, in-store merchandising, marketing, sales, and logistics solutions." Google announced earlier this year that it was ending its e-book partnership with the ABA.
The Kobo-ABA partnership is open to all of ABA's nearly 2,000 member bookstores rather than just those who participate in IndieCommerce. Kobo expects to launch with the first 400 bookstores this fall. ABA members will share in the revenue on every sale.
Kobo offers some three million e-books, magazines and newspapers in its catalogue. Besides its e-reader, it offers free apps for Apple, BlackBerry, Android and Windows products. It has 10 million registered users in 190 countries and partnerships with a range of retailers, including Indigo Books & Music in Canada and W.H. Smith in the U.K. The company's headquarters are in Toronto.
ABA CEO Oren Teicher called the partnership "a competitive e-book retailing solution uniquely crafted to meet the needs of independent booksellers and their customers. Through this partnership with Kobo, indie bookstore customers will have access to a broad and diverse inventory of e-books. Today's readers want a first-class shopping experience, both in-store and online, and this new partnership allows indie booksellers to meet the ever-changing needs of shoppers in a dynamic marketplace."
Kobo CEO Mike Serbinis commented: "With this partnership, we are confident that independents will have a world class offering for their loyal customers and a voice in the digital transformation."
The Kobo-ABA partnership is non-exclusive, and Zola Books, which wanted to "replace" Google and has signed up at least 50 bookstores, and hopes to partner with the ABA, Digital Book World said.
Kobo, an anagram for book, was developed as Shortcovers by Indigo, which spun it off in 2009, retaining partial ownership. Other initial co-owners included Borders Group in the U.S., REDGroup Retail in Australia and Cheung Kong Holdings, a Hong Kong company.
Early this year, Rakuten, a Japanese Internet services company, bought Kobo from Indigo. In July Kobo expanded into Japan and will soon open in Italy in partnership with the Mondadori Group.
Consumers to Receive $69 Million in E-Book Case
The three publishers that settled with the Department of Justice and 49 states and five territories over alleged e-book agency model pricing collusion will pay $69 million to consumers as part of the settlement with the states, PaidContent, the Verge and others reported. Under the proposal, Hachette, HarperCollins and Simon & Schuster will compensate customers who bought e-books with agency pricing between April 1, 2010, and May 21, 2012. The court must approve the plan; payments begin 30 days after that approval.
Amazon Publishing & Ingram Ink E-Book Distribution Deal
Amazon Publishing has reached an agreement with Ingram to distribute its e-books through Ingram's digital distribution platform CoreSource. PaidContent reported that the publisher, which is based in New York City and headed by Larry Kirshbaum, "will make the e-books available to Amazon competitors like Barnes & Noble, Apple and Kobo--though, of course, those competitors won't be required to stock Amazon titles."
"We welcome Amazon Publishing's New York adult group to the growing list of publishers who use our service," said Phil Ollila, Ingram Content Group's chief content officer. Titles from Amazon's West Coast imprints are not included in the Ingram deal.
Three More U.K. Retailers to Sell B&N's Nook
Two days after announcing that its first retail partner in the U.K. is John Lewis, Barnes & Noble has added three more U.K. partners that will sell the Nook: Argos, a general retailer with some 750 stores in the U.K. and Ireland as well as major online and telephone catalogue operations; and two booksellers, Blackwell's, the country's main academic bookseller, with more than 40 stores and a flagship location in Oxford; and Foyles Bookshops, the iconic independent with six stores whose flagship store is on Charing Cross Road in London. Like John Lewis, the three new partners will begin selling the Nook Simple Touch and Nook Simple Touch with Glowlight in October. Between its four partners, Nooks will be available in some 800 stores in the U.K., B&N estimated.
Blackwell's managing director David Prescott said that Barnes & Noble's "bookselling expertise, academic heritage and market leading Nook reading devices made them the outstanding choice for Blackwell's customers.:
And Foyles CEO Sam Husain noted that the Nook was "born in and developed by a bookshop, so it is the ideal digital reading device to be sold by one."
Pub Date Moved Up for No Easy Day
Dutton has moved up the release date to September 4 (from the previously announced Sept. 11) for No Easy Day, the autobiographical account by Navy SEAL Matt Bissonnette of the raid that killed Osama bin Laden last year.
The Associated Press, which "purchased a copy of the book Tuesday," featured an early analysis of the content, which "contradicts previous accounts by administration officials, raising questions as to whether the terror mastermind presented a clear threat when SEALs first fired upon him."
Officials from the Pentagon and the CIA "are examining the manuscript for possible disclosure of classified information and could take legal action against the author," the AP noted, but Bissonnette said he did "not disclose confidential or sensitive information that would compromise national security in any way."
Although attempts had been made to keep the author's name a secret, it was revealed last week and the AP reported that "Jihadists on al-Qaida websites have posted purported photos of the author, calling for his murder."
Brazilian E-Book Market's 'Explosive' Growth
Brazilians are not waiting idly for Amazon to launch a Kindle Store there later this year. The Digital Reader reported that digital blog Revolucao eBook ran a series of posts recently on the state of the Portuguese language e-book market in Brazil and its "explosive growth" during the past six months, when "the number of available titles grew from 11,000 to 16,000.... Amazon is still lagging behind the general Portuguese language e-book market. They reportedly only offer 6,000 e-books in Portuguese in Brazil, and about 1,200 are public domain titles."
While local e-bookstores may not like it, "the true ignition of the Portuguese language e-book market will likely require Amazon and the media spectacle which will happen around the new Kindle Store," the Digital Reader observed. "As of spring 2012, 70% or more of Brazilians don't know what an e-book is nor what you'd do with it. After the Kindle Store launches in Brazil, I would expect that number to invert."
Image of the Day: Glacial Event in Montana
Last week, the Many Glacier Hotel in Glacier National Park, Mont., hosted a signing for Christine Barnes, author of the two-volume Great Lodges of the National Parks(Far Country Press). Here she is shown with two of her favorite companions, grandchildren Jackson and Audrey.
Young Bookseller Focus: Stacie Williams
Stacie Williams, 32, started her bookselling career in 2005 at Harry W. Schwartz in Milwaukee, Wis., and now works at Boswell's Books, also in Milwaukee, where she is in charge of author appearances and has been known to dress as a llama, fairy or reindeer to enhance events.
What kinds of things does Boswell's do to work with the community?
Reading is, arguably, one of the most powerful forces on the planet. Books, whatever form they have taken, are the bringers of change. When a couple gets engaged after a proposal left as a note in a book, when families bring their visiting relatives to the store, when a son buys a gift for his impossible-to-shop-for-father, when a woman comes in years later and thanks a bookseller for recommending a book that changed her life, these are the things we do to work with the community. We are the community.
Are your customers savvy about the difference between Amazon and independents?
Our regular customers are. We still get calls where people ask how much a book is and then say, "Oh, I'll just get it from Amazon, it's cheaper." When given the opportunity, we might say gently, "Well, Amazon doesn't support your local community, infrastructure, pay taxes or host author events." During each author event, we thank our customers for buying from us as that's how we're able to be here for them to make recommendations and bring in authors. It's not just that we want them to really make that connection for our sake, but that we really are grateful to our customers. Without them, we wouldn't be here.
Are you concerned publishers will go to virtual author appearances?
Not really. Skype events do occur, but it really has to be the right author and the right customer. Algonquin Books has a fantastic webcast series where authors interview other authors while audiences at home can ask questions online in live time, and hosts them in a physical bookstore space with a live audience. But the experience of engaging someone in an intimate way that makes a reader feel special simply can't be duplicated in a virtual environment.
Is there a category, subject or genre of literature that you especially like?
As one of my fellow booksellers put it: "dark and twisty." I find myself drawn to work that is prosaic, masculine and often violent but that touches on redemption. I'm interested in nuances of character, particularly how we are all capable of some very dark things but that we're also capable of great beauty and kindness. I want my heart broken, if not wholly obliterated, then haphazardly mended.
I like sentences and language to be crisp and crystalline and eloquent so that I am moved to read them aloud to anyone who will listen. In fact, this is how I sometimes can sell a book like Out Stealing Horses by Per Petterson, Outer Dark by Cormac McCarthy, Smonk by Tom Franklin Glaciers by Alexis Smith or The Things That Are by Amy Leach.
Do you blog, write, review?
I once had a reading blog called "Literati Illuminations" that managed to blossom for a few years. I was sidetracked to write for "The Inside Flap," the blog kept by the Downer Avenue Harry W. Schwartz store. This was followed by "The Boswellians," and now I've gotten ambitious and started "Stacie Reads." I've had some pieces published in a Traveler's Tales collection, Floating Through France; was writer-in-residence at Milwaukee's historic Pfister Hotel for six months; written guest pieces and interviews for cream city review and Fiction Writers Review, and do some sporadic creative writing of my own.
Jeff Waxman of 57th Street Books is a big fan of yours. What did you to do to get a discerning character like Jeff in your corner?
I mocked him. Mercilessly. Then convinced him and his fellow visiting Chicago book folk to visit a local bar that primarily serves spiked milkshakes, complete with topping of whipped cream and cookies, in an orange-lighted atmosphere with rat pack music over the speakers.
What do you do when you're not in the store?
For four of my Schwartz bookselling years, I spent my summers working at an all-girls sleep-away camp in Northern Wisconsin. I now paddle on a competitive dragon boat team and do indoor rock climbing. I like the outdoors and also spend a lot of time reading, going to concerts, seeing movies and walking my dog.
Let's talk dogs.
I'm that person who whips out photos of her dog at any opportune moment. One of my favorite books to handsell is a coffee table-sized paperback full of photos on the ways that dogs communicate, Canine Body Language by Brenda Aloff. My dog Vito, a four-year-old Siberian, has his own Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/vitopuppy.
The last question is from Lindsay McGuirk, our previous Young Bookseller interviewee: What's a particularly fond memory you have of an interaction with a customer?
A guy came in and asked for help finding a book for his rather complicated situation. His ex-girlfriend, now living in a remote part of the East Coast, had called him to let him know he was a father. His son was about to turn three, and she decided she wanted him in the child's life. She was also involved with someone who this guy didn't approve of, and he now felt that he should do whatever he could to win her back, and did I have any suggestions for a book that might help? I told him he didn't need one book, he needed three: one on fatherhood, another on building healthy relationships and a road atlas. A few years later I saw him in the coffee shop next door. It was very tempting to approach him and ask how things turned out, but then I saw that he was browsing a dating site on his laptop.
'Wily' NYC Indie Booksellers Share Fall Faves
New York's indie booksellers "are a wily bunch: they have pet favorites and old grudges and lost causes and weird projects," Capital New York wrote in a piece that solicited autumn reading recommendations from some of the city's notable indies, including Sarah McNally, owner of McNally Jackson Books; Amanda Bullock, events coordinator at Housing Works Bookstore Café; Jessica Bagnulo, co-owner of Greenlight Bookstore; Jenn Northington, event manager at WORD; and Emma Straub of BookCourt.
"When customers routinely approach the counter with requests for 'a good story' or 'something fun,' it's no mean skill to find them something that both satisfies those needs and gives the reader a whole lot more," Capital New York noted.
Book Trailer of the Day: Wilderness
Wilderness: A Novel by Lance Weller (Bloomsbury USA), a historical novel set during and after the Civil War in Virginia and the Pacific Northwest.
Media and Movies
Media Heat: Kathy Reichs on NPR's Science Friday
Tomorrow on NPR's Science Friday: Kathy Reichs, author of Bones Are Forever: A Novel (Scribner, $26.99, 9781439102435).
Tomorrow on a Comedy Central Special: Mike Birbiglia, author of Sleepwalk with Me: and Other Painfully True Stories (Simon & Schuster, $14, 9781476705767).
Tomorrow night on Nightline: Sara Connell, author of Bringing in Finn: An Extraordinary Surrogacy Story (Seal Press, $24, 9781580054102).
This Weekend on Book TV: Snow Storm in August
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, September 1
5 p.m. Jefferson Morley talks about his book Snow Storm in August: Washington City, Francis Scott Key, and the Forgotten Race Riot of 1835 (Nan A. Talese, $28.95, 9780385533379). (Re-airs Sunday at 10 p.m.)
7:45 p.m. Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) discusses his book Across That Bridge: Life Lessons and a Vision for Change (Hyperion, $22.99, 9781401324117). (Re-airs Sunday at 11 p.m.)
8:30 p.m. John Wohlstetter presents his book Sleepwalking with the Bomb (Discovery Institute Press, $24.95, 9781936599066).
10 p.m. After Words. Juan Williams interviews Donald Barlett and James Steele, authors of The Betrayal of the American Dream (PublicAffairs, $26.99, 9781586489694). (Re-airs Sunday at 9 p.m. and Monday at 3 a.m.)
11 p.m. Mallory Factor talks about his book Shadowbosses: Government Unions Control America and Rob Taxpayers Blind (Center Street, $24.99, 9781455522743). (Re-airs Sunday at 8 p.m.)
Sunday, September 2
12 p.m. In Depth. Michael Beschloss, author most recently (with Caroline Kennedy) of Jacqueline Kennedy: Historic Conversations on Life with John F. Kennedy (Hyperion, $60, 9781401324254), joins Book TV for a live interview. Viewers can participate in the discussion by calling in during the program or submitting questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter (@BookTV). (Re-airs Tuesday at 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.)
Books & Authors
Awards: PEN Literary
The PEN American Center announced the winners and runners up for the 2012 PEN Literary Awards. This year PEN will present 18 awards, fellowships, grants and prizes, including two awards offered for the first time ever: the PEN/Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction and the PEN/Steven Kroll Award for text in an illustrated picture book. Winners and runners-up will be honored at the PEN Literary Awards Ceremony on October 23 in New York City. See a complete list of winners and runners-up here. Highlights include:
PEN/Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction ($25,000): Good Kings Bad Kings by Susan Nussbaum
PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize ($25,000): Zazen by Vanessa Veselka (Red Lemonade)
PEN/Saul Bellow Award for Achievement in American Fiction ($25,000): E.L. Doctorow
PEN/E.O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award ($10,000): The Information: A History, a Theory, a Flood by James Gleick (Pantheon)
PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay ($5,000): Arguably by Christopher Hitchens (Twelve)
PEN/Jacqueline Bograd Weld Award for Biography ($5,000): Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman by Robert K. Massie (Random House)
PEN/ESPN Award for Literary Sports Writing ($5,000): Bottom of the 33rd: Hope, Redemption, and Baseball’s Longest Game by Dan Barry (Harper)
PEN/Steven Kroll Award Honoring the Author of an Illustrated Children's Book ($5,000): Never Forgotten by Patricia C. McKissack (Schwartz & Wade Books)
Review: This Is How You Lose Her
This Is How You Lose Her by Junot Diaz (Riverhead, $26.95 hardcover, 9781594487361, September 11, 2012)
In the short story collection This Is How You Lose Her, Junot Diaz (The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao) returns to familiar territory--an exploration of the trials, triumphs and cultural dissonance that can characterize the experience of the Dominican community in the United States. Many of the stories share a common narrator, Yunior, whose parents brought him to America from Santo Domingo as a child. With his sardonic tone and cutting observations, this Yunior is nearly a duplicate of the Yunior who narrates much of Oscar Wao; here, too, Yunior is ultimately undone by his philandering.
This Is How You Lose Her begins with the unraveling of Yunior's relationship with his fiancée, Magda, when she discovers that he's cheated on her with 50 other women. Desperately, Magda and Yunior circle one another, trying to preserve their relationship, and in Santo Domingo--their birthplace and beginning--they finally break apart. In Yunior's words, "And that's when I know it's over. As soon as you start thinking about the beginning, it's the end."
The later stories, the ones that backtrack through Yunior's life to his adolescence, and then back further to his childhood as an immigrant, gradually expose the roots of his compulsive infidelity. They are not, however, excused: at the very end, Yunior admits to himself that Magda was right to leave him; that the book most suited for him to write, to his pride and self-deprecation, is "The Cheater's Guide to Love."
Yunior's childhood and adolescence are riddled with traumas: an abusive father who abandons the family, the death of his brother from cancer, gnawing poverty. Yunior is, furthermore, not the recipient of the bulk of his mother's love, which she reserves for his brother, Rafa; his promiscuity may be an endless search for the parental love that eluded him. This idea is made concrete in "Miss Lora," in which the 16-year-old Yunior has a passionate affair with a middle-aged schoolteacher, and she takes on a role that oddly blends the erotic with the maternal: fixing him sandwiches, teaching him about sex and attending his school graduations.
Although only one story contains scenes in Santo Domingo, it remains a constant in the characters' awareness, lending them in some sense a double life. Diaz weaves together this aspect of the immigrant experience with the broken narrative of a search for love--a search that cannot end until the protagonist changes himself. --Ilana Teitelbaum
Shelf Talker: Junot Diaz follows up his Pulitzer-winning The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao with a story collection that returns to the Dominican immigrant community, exploring its complexities and pains.