Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, September 26, 2012


Harper: Only Killers and Thieves by Paul Howarth

Mira Books: Rosie Colored Glasses by Brianna Wolfson

Little Brown and Company: The Which Way Tree by Elizabeth Crook

Bloomsbury: Reign the Earth by A.C. Gaughen

Soho Crime: The Widows of Malabar Hill by Sujata Massey

Shadow Mountain: Christmas Jars Collector's Edition by Jason F. Wright

News

B&N News: New Tablets; New Video; New Nook Sellers

It's been a big news day for Barnes & Noble: over the past 24 hours, announcements have included the launch of new tablets, a video streaming service, agreements with more U.K. retailers to sell Nooks and the appointment of a new head of international Nook sales. The stories:

B&N is launching two high-definition color tablets: the 7" Nook HD and 9" Nook HD Plus, priced at $199 and $269, respectively. In the U.S., the devices are for sale online now and will be in stores in early November. In the U.K., the devices will be available to order in late October and will appear in stores in late November.

The Nook HD Plus is B&N's first nine-inch tablet and is significantly less expensive than the iPad, which starts at $499. "We think there's a space in the market below the iPad for a larger-format tablet that's half the price," B&N CEO William J. Lynch told the New York Times.

Initial reviews were positive. James McQuivey of Forrester Research told the Times: "These are better devices than what Amazon has announced, and they're comparably priced."

Among other features, the company said the Nook HD has "the world's highest resolution ever." The tablets are also relatively light and are geared, in particular, toward book reading and families, the company said. Also, unlike the Kindle, they have "no annoying ads," B&N noted.

Gigaom.com explored B&N's attempts to translate "all of the knowledge that makes our stores gathering places for people and allows people to discover things" into its e-readers, as B&N's Jim Mustich put it.

Among the results: Nook Channels, "curated collections of books that 'speak to a certain type of reading or a certain type of content.' Mustich says the company had the idea when he and B&N CEO William Lynch were in an elevator together and Lynch mentioned that he'd liked Ernest Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises and wanted to read other books like it. If you look up that title in other online bookstores, Mustich says, 'you get a high-school reading list, books like The Great Gatsby, when what you really want is James Salter.' The channels have titles like Digging into Murder, Jane Austen & Heirs and International Intrigue. Each contains 40 to 50 titles, most curated by Barnes & Noble booksellers. The channels will eventually include other types of content, too (like movies), and users will be able to improve recommendations by 'liking' or 'not liking' books that pop up in their stream."

Gigaom.com also noted B&N's emphasis on the devices' female- and family-friendly features. 

Because "the average American woman's hand is 172 millimeters," B&N designed the Nook HD "so that the average woman can easily hold it in one hand. This means the Nook HD is longer and skinnier than the Kindle Fire (both have the same size of screen but the Kindle Fire has a wider bezel)."

B&N also allows up to six accounts to share one device, and "adults creating profiles for children can set limits on what their kids can and can't do on the tablet. For example, they can ban shopping completely or allow 'kid-friendly' shopping, which allows children only to access 'safe' content from a preselected list."

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This fall, B&N is launching Nook Video, which will stream movies and TV shows from a range of studios, including Sony, Warner Bros., Disney, HBO, Viacom and Starz. The material can be watched on Nooks, TVs, tablets, smartphones as well as on a video app that will be released in the near future.

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Patrick Rouvillois is joining Barnes & Noble as v-p, managing director, international, a new position in which he is responsible for building the Nook outside the U.S. He is based in Luxembourg, where most of B&N's European operations have headquarters.

Rouvillois was formerly global CMO and head of eCommerce of Carrefour, which has 15,000 stores in 30 countries, and earlier was executive v-p of consumer marketing for Orange Group. Before that, he worked at Vivendi Universal Net and at the Boston Consulting Group.

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B&N is expanding distribution of the Nook in the U.K. by partnering with several more U.K. retailers beyond Blackwell's, Foyles, John Lewis and Argos, announced in the last month:

  • Dixons Retail, which will sell the Nook in its 600 Currys and PC World electronics stores in the U.K. Dixons Retail also operates another 700  stores elsewhere in Europe, and online.
  • Sainsbury's, which has more than 1,000 supermarkets. The Nook will be available in about 270 Sainsbury's outlets.
  • The supermarket chain Waitrose, which is owned by John Lewis. Waitrose will offer the Nook in "selected stores" among its 280 locations.

B&N estimates the Nook will be available in some 1,600 U.K. retail outlets by the holiday season.

 


Sourcebooks Jabberwocky: The Very Very Very Long Dog by Julia Patton


Digital Book World: Understanding the Audience

Small Demons isn't intended to be a recommendation engine, Richard Nash, the company's v-p of community and content, insisted during a panel discussion at Digital Book World's "Discoverability and Marketing" conference. Instead, he described it as "a Borgesian map of the universe," elaborating: "What I'd say we're interested in is creating as much serendipity as discovery." By cataloguing the cultural references--people, places and things--that occur in a growing library of books, then inviting people to learn which books mention the things they're curious about, Nash eventually hopes to be able to offer publishers "a remarkable psychographic of your audience" and the characters and brands that resonate with them.

Digital Book World editorial director Jeremy Greenfield with Patrick Brown of Goodreads and Richard Nash of Small Demons.

Understanding the audience was a significant theme of the two-day conference; in an early presentation, Bowker v-p Kelly Gallagher rejected the notion of the middle-aged housewife as archetypal book buyer as too simplistic: "Unless you really know who she is," Gallagher warned, "you're not going to get very far." It's not just about understanding customer psychology, though, but also exploiting it, as WildFire Marketing's Rob Eagar exhorted publishers to stop trying to sell books based on what they're "about" and start talking about "what's in it" for the consumer, while Charles Duhgg, the author of The Power of Habit, proposed a need for stronger "reward" cycles to get people hooked on reading.

Amazon's director of author and publisher relations, Jon Fine, talked up the benefits of his company's Author Central program and the benefits to publishers of allowing consumers to search inside the entire text of a book. Fine also announced that authors will now be able to integrate their Facebook page with their Amazon author page, boosting discoverability. Barnes & Noble digital marketing v-p Sasha Norkin's insight on marketing through the Nook could be summarized as encouraging publishers to submit "a great book with a great cover--something grabby" to B&N's promotional programs. Several other panels had very meaty tips, especially when it came to strengthening metadata, from how long a headline can be before it gets cut off in a Google listing (65 characters), or a breakdown in the differences in the volume of search queries for blockbuster titles versus sleeper hits, to a reminder that including ALT text in the meta tags for your online images will improve your search results.

Not all the information coming out of the conference was upbeat, however: Gallagher reported, for example, 21% of book consumers in a recent survey had said they'd bought fewer books in 2011 than the previous year. Even here, though, there were some glimmers of hope: 32% of book buyers were making their purchases in physical bookstores (265 at chains, 6% at indies), and 19% of book purchases were prompted by in-store displays. (And, he added, physical stores are better venues for generating impulse purchases; online consumers tend to come looking for specific titles and stop shopping once they've found them.) He also observed that 4% of book purchases come from recommendations by in-store staff. That might not seem like a lot, especially in the growing shadow of what Goodreads community manager Patrick Brown described as his site's "bubbling cauldron of word of mouth," but it's an excellent starting point. Local booksellers, after all, are in an excellent position to learn about their customers' individual reading profiles--and to know about the books that might fit their tastes. --Ron Hogan

 


Siglio Press: The Stampographer by Vincent Sardon


For YA, Poisoned Pen Adds Poisoned Pencil

Poisoned Pen Press, Scottsdale, Ariz., is launching a new imprint, the Poisoned Pencil, which will publish YA mysteries. Jessica Tribble will serve as publisher of the Poisoned Pencil. She was named publisher of Poisoned Pen last year and joined the press after a summer internship in 2004. Tribble said the press aims to publish YA mysteries that are "fast-paced and relevant to today's teens--books that adults will also want to read."

Veteran editor Ellen Larson will serve as editor of the Poisoned Pencil. She said she is "particularly keen" to receive submissions from young adult writers, adding, "Anything goes. As long as the protagonist is between the ages of 12 and 18, it's Young Adult. I'm excited to begin reviewing submissions, seeing what's out there, and building our list."

Poisoned Pen Press was founded in 1997 by Barbara Peters and Robert Rosenwald. Peters founded the Poisoned Pen bookstore in 1989.


PuddleDancer Press: Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life, 3rd Edition: Life-Changing Tools for Healthy Relationships by Marshall B. Rosenberg


Obituary Note: Tereska Torrès

Tereska Torrès, "a convent-educated French writer" of more than a dozen novels and several memoirs "who quite by accident wrote America's first lesbian pulp novel [Women's Barracks]," died last Thursday, the New York Times reported. She was 92.
 


Freeform: The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton


Notes

Image of the Day: MPIBA Meets in Denver

More than 400 people attended the Mountains & Plains Independent Booksellers Association trade show last weekend in Denver, Colo., which featured appearances by Kent Haruf, J.R. Moehringer, Jonathan Evison, Kevin Powers, Lisa Genova and many other authors. Here at the dinner banquet: (from l.) Andrea Avantaggio of Maria's Bookshop, Durango, Colo.; Gayle Shanks of Changing Hands Bookstore, Tempe, Ariz.; and banquet emcee Cathy Langer of the Tattered Cover, Denver.

 


Media and Movies

Media Heat: J.K. Rowling on Good Morning America

This morning on Good Morning America: J.K. Rowling, author of The Casual Vacancy (Little, Brown, $35, 9780316228534).

Also on GMA: the hosts of the Chew, authors of The Chew: Food. Life. Fun. (Hyperion, $19.99, 9781401311063).

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Today on NRP's Diane Rehm Show: Sheila Bair, author of Bull by the Horns: Fighting to Save Main Street from Wall Street and Wall Street from Itself (Free Press, $26.99, 9781451672480). She will also be on CNN's Starting Point tomorrow.

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Today on NPR's Fresh Air: J.P. Moehringer, author of Sutton (Hyperion, $27.99, 9781401323141).

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Tomorrow on Hannity: Christopher C. Horner, author of The Liberal War on Transparency: Confessions of a Freedom of Information "Criminal" (Threshold, $27, 9781451694888).

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Tomorrow on CNBC's Kudlow Report: Ann Coulter, author of Mugged: Racial Demagoguery from the Seventies to Obama (Sentinel, $26.95, 9781595230997).

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Tomorrow on KCRW's Bookworm: Junot Díaz, author of This Is How You Lose Her (Riverhead, $26.95, 9781594487361). As the show put it: "Our master of seductive street-slang discusses seduction and its relation to fiction. Can a writer seduce you? Does Junot Díaz feel guilt about his persuasive and tempting approach? Find out, as he describes what he calls 'the shock of representation.' "

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Tomorrow on Tavis Smiley: Penny Marshall, author of My Mother Was Nuts (New Harvest, $26, 9780547892627). She will also appear on CBS's the Talk.

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Tomorrow on NPR's Marketplace PM: Nate Silver, author of The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail-but Some Don't (Penguin Press, $27.95, 9781594204111).

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Tomorrow night on the Daily Show: Amar'e Stoudemire, author of STAT: Standing Tall and Talented #1: Home Court (Scholastic, $5.99, 9780545387590).


TV: The Strain

FX has ordered a pilot that will be co-written, directed and executive produced by Guillermo del Toro, who "is bringing his vampire novel trilogy The Strain to television as a drama series, which will be run by former Lost co-showrunner Carlton Cuse," Deadline.com. Co-writing the pilot script is Chuck Hogan (Prince Of Thieves), who also co-authored the books with del Toro.

"We started receiving offers for movies and TV rights after the publication of the first book but we didn't want do anything because we didn't want that train of thought to influence the way we were writing the books," del Toro said, adding: "Once the third book was published, we went back to every cable network that expressed interest, and we pitched the series. FX made the most sense, based on the level of commitment, passion and understanding of the concept of the book. They got behind the idea of making this a close-ended series; we wanted to follow the books closely and so it couldn't be open-ended, but rather three to five seasons max."
 



Books & Authors

Awards: Royal Society Winton Prize Shortlist

Finalists have been named for the £10,000 (US$16,226) Royal Society Winton Prize for Science Books. The winner will be announced November 26. The shortlisted titles are:

Moonwalking with Einstein by Joshua Foer
My Beautiful Genome by Lone Frank
The Information by James Gleick
The Hidden Reality by Brian Greene
The Better Angels of Our Nature by Steven Pinker
The Viral Storm by Nathan Wolfe
 


Book Brahmin: Marco Roth

Marco Roth was raised amid "the vanished liberal culture of Manhattan's Upper West Side." After studying comparative literature at Columbia and Yale, he helped found the magazine n+1 in 2004. A recipient of the 2011 Shattuck Prize for literary criticism, he lives in Philadelphia. His first book, the memoir The Scientists: A Family Romance, was recently published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux.

On your nightstand now:

On the glass-and-steel coffee table next to my mattress: Leonard Michaels's collected stories; Bernard Malmud's collected stories; John Clare's poems; The Basic Kafka, a vintage 1950s paperback of tiny trim size and crumbling pages; Faulkner's Light in August, in an edition of similar shape, age and condition; and the page proofs of n+1 issue 14, "Awkward Age." I spend a lot of time in bed.

Favorite book when you were a child:

Childhood reading has so many stages; do I really remember the taste of the pages of Rosie's Walk? That might have been my favorite book to chew on. Going through some old stuff, recently, I turned up this magnificently psychedelically illustrated edition of World Tales, a kind of Joseph Campbell inspired, 1970s, pan-folkloric anthology that had everything from classic Brothers Grimm to Sufi mystics. It was like Propp's Morphology of Folk Tales for kids. I also found my old collection of Asterix comics.

Your top five authors:

Let me narrow this down by listing five authors I turned to while writing my book, so a list of favorite "creative nonfiction memoirists" goes, in no particular order: Stendhal, J.R. Ackerley, Wordsworth, Henry Adams, Henry Green, Proust... um, that's six, I'll stop now.

Book you've faked reading:

Lots of them, at parties, because I nod a lot when people are talking and they sometimes think that I've read a book when I haven't, and by then it's too embarrassing to tell them I haven't, because they'd think I was trying to fake it the first time but was no good at it. So I nod a lot, and then go home and read the books if they sound interesting.

Book you're an evangelist for:

Not sure I'm comfortable in missionary modes, but I've recommended Iris Murdoch's The Sea, The Sea a lot, recently, and just lent out my copy of The Counterlife, by that other Roth guy.

Book you've bought for the cover:

Most recently, Kingsley Amis's pseudonymous James Bond novel, Colonel Sun (1968). The cover, by Tom Adams, is a Dali-like Bond fantasia featuring a mannishly-proportioned nude woman on the front, with a giant ear instead of a head, a disembodied eyeball where the sun should be. In the background there's a cockle-shaped bay and a city looming above it that could be Rio, and a melted pistol snakes its way along the back flap and over the spine. It's an epic cover for a silly book, but it made me wish more contemporary books had covers with original art instead of photographs. I still haven't read the book and am not sure I want to.

Book that changed your life:

You'll have to read my book to find that out.

Favorite line from a book:

All this question makes me think of, in a backwards-opposite-by-analogy way, is King Lear asking "Which of you shall we say does love us most?" Answering it ends really badly for everyone.

Book you most want to read again for the first time:

There are books that get better for me the more times I read them, like Proust's In Search of Lost Time, and other books that disappoint on rereading, so I'd have to pick one of those: I know I can never recapture the bliss of first reading Stendhal's Charterhouse of Parma, or the excitement of Bellow's Augie March or the mania of Herzog. There's just something about the wildness of the pace and the thrill of discovering that writing can work in those ways that won't come again.

What do you think about these author questionnaires?

On a scale of 1-10? They remind me that people write and read books because our most interesting and meaningful experiences can't be ranked, measured or condensed into a sentence.

 


Book Review

YA Review: Eve & Adam

Eve and Adam by Michael Grant, Katherine Applegate (Feiwel & Friends, $17.99 hardcover, 304p., ages 13-up, 9780312583514, October 2, 2012)

This compulsively readable science-fiction thriller from husband-and-wife team Michael Grant (BZRK; the Gone series) and Katherine Applegate (The One and Only Ivan) stars 11th-grader Eve Spiker, who's assigned an unusual task by her mother: to create the perfect male.

Eve has survived a run-in with a San Francisco trolley that would have crippled anyone else--anyone whose mother was not the brilliant mind behind Spiker Biopharmaceuticals. Terra (called "Terror" by her employees) Spiker and one of her gofers, Solo Plissken, whisk Eve away from the E.R. back to the Spiker labs. Eve has visited her mother's offices in the past, but never as a patient. Solo seems to be near whenever Eve needs anything, and even when she doesn't. He's the first to point out her lightning-quick recovery; within days, they peel back the bandages together to see skin with nary a scar. Eve begins to wonder what's really going on in the lab--and suspects Solo knows a lot more than he's admitting. As Solo admits to himself, "There's no better way to find out what's going on than by being a peon everyone ignores." But Eve does not ignore Solo, and she wonders if his knowledge explains his fierce resentment of her mother.

The authors cut back and forth between Eve's and Solo's first-person narrations, slowly uncovering, layer by layer, the work of the labs and the truth about the nature of the relationship between Eve's parents and Solo's parents. Each teen has his or her own preconceived notions, which cause them to put up blinders until they cannot escape the truth. Eve's best friend, Aislin, introduces a number of hairpin plot twists, including a mission to rescue her drug-dealer boyfriend, Maddox, from a gang to whom he owes thousands of dollars. When Solo helps the two friends sneak out of Spiker labs to help Maddox, Eve realizes she's made an ally. Or is Solo using Eve to get revenge on Terra Spiker?

Grant and Applegate investigate larger themes of what it means to play god without the "lab rat's" consent, and the moral dilemmas that accompany that responsibility. Humor and romance leaven the proceedings. Give this to fans of Nancy Farmer's The House of the Scorpion. --Jennifer M. Brown

Shelf Talker: A science-fiction thriller delves into what it means to be capable of genetically altering human beings, and the ethics that come into play.


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