Shelf Awareness for Friday, October 19, 2012
Random House Early Holiday Gift for Indies: Two-Day Transit
Citing popular demand from independent booksellers, Random House is repeating its two-day transit program this holiday season for all frontlist and backlist titles in all formats at all imprints. Beginning November 1, orders from indies received in Random House's system by 3 p.m. EST will ship no later than the following business day, with a transit time of no more than two days "from dock to door." The program runs through the end of the year and the post-holiday restock season, until March 1, 2013.
"We believe strongly in the future of the physical book and the physical bookstore," Random House COO Madeline McIntosh said. "These booksellers do a great job of connecting our books and authors to their local communities, and we want to give them extra support at this important time of year."
Random House director of account marketing Ruth Liebmann commented: "Faster shipping and fulfillment means less worry for our accounts about inventory levels, less time on a backroom computer figuring out where and when to order stock, and more time on the selling floor." She cited a range of popular titles that will benefit, including new hardcovers from John Grisham, Alice Munro and Ina Garten, a new paperback from Christopher Paolini, and Thomas Jefferson by Jon Meacham.
CBS This Morning Launches Book Club with Team of RivalsCBS This Morning has launched CBS This Morning Reads, a book club whose first selection is Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin, the basis for Lincoln, the Steven Spielberg movie featuring Daniel Day-Lewis that opens on November 16.
During the next month, excerpts, web extras, reading guides and interactive features concerning Team of Rivals will be released online. Then on November 15, Goodwin will be interviewed on CBS This Morning by co-hosts Charlie Rose, Norah O'Donnell and Gayle King.
Noting that Team of Rivals is published by CBS subsidiary Simon & Schuster, CBS This Morning said that as CBS This Morning Reads expands, it "may incorporate additional publishers," perhaps making the venture a team of rivals.
Incidentally, director Spielberg will talk about Lincoln on 60 Minutes this Sunday.
Wired: Amazon has 'Barely Started to Exploit' Its Data
"In a digital economy where some of the Internet's biggest companies and the country's richest people have built their fortunes on the ability to more precisely target ads, one company sits on a trove of data it has barely started to exploit. In Internet advertising-speak, visitors to Amazon.com are further down the purchasing funnel than visitors to Google or Facebook," wrote Marcus Wohlsen in a Wired magazine article headlined "Amazon's Next Big Business Is Selling You."
Wohlsen noted that the online retailer had "kept its advertising ambitions mostly to itself" until Lisa Utzschneider, Amazon v-p of of global sales, recently "made a standing-room-only appearance at Advertising Week."
According to Ad Age, Utzschneider "pulled the wraps off 'Amazon Media Group,' a world of owned sites, devices and a third-party network that can use Amazon's trove of purchase and browsing data." In a subsequent interview, she described the company's advertising business as "two worlds, one world is an Amazon with ads and lower prices. Another world is an Amazon with no ads and higher prices. Which one would we choose?”
But "ads have the potential to do even more for Amazon's bottom line," Wohlsen observed, since its sites are viewed by more than 100 million people in the U.S. every month, ranking the company sixth on the most-visited list behind Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, Facebook and AOL, according to Comscore. While the Web business models for those companies depends on advertising, Amazon's does not.
Wohlsen suggested Amazon "seems uniquely positioned to alter the terms of the online advertising business depending on how aggressively it pursues its opportunity. If advertisers still can't know what someone's bought on Amazon, they may soon find the next most valuable thing to know is what they've sought."
Man Group Withdraws Sponsorship of Asian Literary Prize
Just a day after basking in the glow of this year's Booker Prize celebration, Man Group announced it will withdraw sponsorship of the Asian Literary Prize after the next award is presented in March, 2013, the Bookseller reported. A longlist for the final Man Asian Literary Prize will be released December 4.
The prize's executive director, David Parker, said the organization is "beginning talks with potential sponsors" and thanked Man Group for its "steady support that has enabled the prize, in five short years, to achieve more than any of us would have dreamed possible."
Man Group CEO Peter Clarke said the company is "committed to supporting the prize organizers in finding a new sponsor to ensure the continued development of this leading literary prize."
Freethy Is B&N's First Million Nook Books Author
Barbara Freethy has sold one million Nook Books through PubIt, Barnes & Noble's self-publishing option. The author of Summer Secrets and When Wishes Collide has published 17 of her backlist titles and three original e-books on the platform.
Book Bag Chic: Louis Vuitton Opens Literary Salon in Paris
Yesterday, Louis Vuitton opened a temporary literary salon and gallery in Paris with the theme L'Ecriture est un Voyage. "Art is on the walls, books are for sale and literary conversations are on the calendar," Jacket Copy reported, adding that the location, which features an exhibition of Ed Ruscha's "On the Road" art works, will remain open through December 31.
Located in a neighborhood "with a long literary history," the space, previously occupied in part by historic Paris bookstore La Hune, "will become part of an expanded Louis Vuitton boutique" once its literary salon days are over, though Jacket Copy offered a measure of reassurance: "Never fear; La Hune has survived. It has moved to a corner a block away. The nearby bookstore will come in handy; some guests at the Louis Vuitton literary salon may be looking for books about something other than travel."
Image of the Day: R.L. Stine
On Wednesday night, Clinton Book Shop, Clinton, N.J., hosted an event for R.L. Stine and his first adult novel, Red Rain. Many Goosebumps fans showed, including these two charming creatures who posed with the author.
(For a chance to win a copy of Red Rain, click here.)
Parnassus Voted Best Bookstore in Nashville
Congratulations to Parnassus Books, Nashville, Tenn., voted the Best Bookstore in Nashville by Nashville Scene writers and readers. McKay Used Books and BookMan/BookWoman came in second and third place, respectively.
The magazine wrote about Parnassus: "You are what you read, and the late 2010 closing of bookstore Davis-Kidd left a void in many of our hearts--and our bookshelves. Fortunately, local author Ann Patchett came to our rescue with the November 2011 opening of Parnassus Books. Located in the same zip code, but in a cozier, more intimate space, Parnassus offers prime real estate to local authors, promotes book clubs and community events, and boasts a lovingly curated children's section that will instantly transport you back to the days when you broke your bedtime curfew and read under the covers with a flashlight."
Parnassus was also picked as the Best Story Hour in Nashville (writers' choice), and Ann Patchett was voted the Best Local Author (readers' poll), followed by Alice Randall and Kimberly Novosel.
Davis-Kidd Booksellers came in second place in the Best Places You Wish Had Never Gone Out of Business category.
Indie Publisher TV Spot of the Day: How to Sharpen Pencils
Melville House has created a 30-second TV spot for How to Sharpen Pencils by David Rees, featuring voice-over by Kurt Braunohler, host of IFC's new comedy game show Bunk; New Yorker copy editor Mary Norris; and Rees, as himself. The film was shot and produced in association with Transformer Films's Eric Nadler and Tichafa Tongogara.
Melville House noted that "thanks to the magic of GoogleTV," the ad will begin airing on late-night TV programming in early November during re-runs of Saturday Night Live, The Soup, Conan, the Daily Show with Jon Stewart, the Colbert Report, Futurama, South Park and Adult Swim.
Book Trailer of the Day: We Killed
We Killed: The Rise of Women in American Comedy by Yael Kohen (Sarah Crichton Books/FSG), a video for this oral history that features clips of many legendary comediennes.
Media and Movies
Media Heat: Wall Street, Main Street and Plutocrats
This morning on Fox & Friends, Karen Handel, author of Planned Bullyhood: The Truth Behind the Headlines about the Planned Parenthood Funding Battle with Susan G. Komen for the Cure (Howard, $24.99, 9781451697940).
Tomorrow on CNN's Your Money: 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).
Tomorrow on MSNBC's Up with Chris Hayes: Chrystia Freeland, author of Plutocrats: The Rise of the New Global Super-Rich and the Fall of Everyone Else (Penguin Press, $27.95, 9781594204098).
Sunday on OWN's Super Soul Sunday: Gary Zukav, author of The Seat of the Soul (Free Press, $14, 9780671695071).
Sunday on 60 Minutes: Greg Smith, author of Why I Left Goldman Sachs: A Wall Street Story (Grand Central, $27.99, 9781455527472).
On Stage: Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies
Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies, Hilary Mantel's Man Booker Prize-winning novels, are being adapted for the stage by Mike Poulton. The Telegraph reported "the two productions are under consideration by the Royal Shakespeare Company and the intention is to stage the two plays over the same season.... A BBC Two costume drama based on the books is also in the works."
"I went to a first reading last week," Mantel said. "There's still a great deal of work to do but what we're hoping for is two plays--a Wolf Hall play and a Bring Up the Bodies play--which, if you liked, you could see on consecutive evenings."
While Mantel noted that the RSC is "not committed but certainly interested," she added that a spokesman for the company said the plays were "on our list of considerations."
Books & Authors
Awards: CWA Daggers; Dylan Thomas; DSC for South Asian Literature
Winners of the last three Crime Writers' Association Dagger award categories were named yesterday at the Specsavers Crime Thriller Awards in London. The winners are:
Gold Dagger: The Rage by Gene Kerrigan
Ian Fleming Steel Dagger: A Foreign Country by Charles Cumming
John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger: A Land More Kind than Home by Wiley Cash
Finalists have been announced for the £30,000 (US$48,138) Dylan Thomas Prize, sponsored by the University of Wales and open to any published author in the English language under the age of 30. The winner will be announced November 9. This year's shortlisted Dylan Thomas Prize books are:
The Spider King's Daughter by Chibundu Onuzo
The White Shadow by Andrea Eames
Seating Arrangements by Maggie Shipstead
The Doll Princess by Tom Benn
Once You Break a Knuckle by D.W. Wilson
A 16-book longlist has been released for the $50,000 DSC Prize for South Asian Literature, featuring four debut novels, two works in translation from Hindi and authors and translators from across India, Australia, the U.K., Pakistan and Bangladesh. A shortlist will be released November 20, and the winner declared at the DSC Jaipur Literature Festival in January. You can find the complete DSC Prize for South Asian Literature longlist here.
Book Brahmin: Don Bajema
Don Bajema is the author of Winged Shoes and a Shield (City Lights, October 16, 2012), which collects stories from Reach and Boy in the Air, published in 1996 by Henry Rollins's imprint 2.13.61. Bajema toured the spoken-word circuit in the '90s with Rollins, Lydia Lunch and the late Jim Carroll and Hubert Selby, performing at hundreds of clubs, theaters and universities worldwide. As an actor, Bajema first appeared on stage in the West Coast premiere of Sam Shepard's Curse of the Starving Class. Earlier Bajema was a track and field athlete who competed in the 1972 U.S. Olympic trials. Now living in New York City, Bajema will help celebrate City Lights Publishers at Greenlight Bookstore in Brooklyn on November 14.
On your nightstand now:
Will in the World by Stephen Greenblatt. Very few things get me up from a chair as when I read an account of anecdotal history and the details of lives and times that have faded away into a world that we can't access in any other manner than through an author's research. When I run across the details of a forgotten time, linked to the present as all time is, I go nuts. I get up from the chair and walk around the room, pulling my fingers through my hair, looking for someone to relate one of those many gems like Mr. Greenblatt abundantly provides in his account of Elizabethan England: the excitement of the theater, the bear-baiting roar outside, the audience wandering in from watching a public execution. No police, no protection, just this teeming stew not far removed from magic. And then of course there's Shakespeare, a shadowy figure standing in the wings.
Favorite book when you were a child:
Fourth grade, bored into a state of hypnosis in the suburban landscape of San Diego, Calif. The beach, the border, the mountains and deserts still out of reach for a boy of 10, but soon, very soon. So, in steps Mark Twain, cigar smoke, ready-laugh spiced with a wry sarcasm, knowing somehow just the telling of the truth was an act of rebellion. And Huckleberry Finn walks down our block, lawn birds firing mists in the hot evenings, and we go into canyons at midnight, walking side by side along deer trails talking about that necessary freedom, that urge to break out, to ride a raft right through Andy Williams's "Moon River" until I was sure it was all. The Little League, the kids down the block, the sadness of the veterans' post-World War II lives, our barefooted recklessness on the way to school linked with Huck and Jim and his terrifying father, and those greasy cards strewn on the floor with his body. And I was still a child when Holden Caulfield leaned through the door of J.D. Salinger's study with his baseball cap on backward. Eudora Welty inspired me, also O. Henry.
Your top five authors:
This is impossible. Okay, I love Tennessee Williams's tragic insights. Cormac McCarthy has knocked me on my ass a few times. E.L. Doctorow has a hypnotic element. I have read Greil Marcus extensively; Mystery Train ignited something in me and his The Old, Weird America is as comforting as the Bible is for many others. Sam Shepard's work is like spending time with long-gone friends, deceased from mishap, or ground down from the grains in the hourglass. I have to pause here to say out loud the many names I am obliged to omit. But generous spirits all, I trust forgiveness.
Book you've faked reading:
Faked reading? Faked reading? What? Faked reading. I am not the guy who fakes having read something. Luckily I've never had to endure the formalities associated with Ivory Tower Literature, never had to write papers, or discuss with erudite types anything that would make me feel I had to "catch up," "impress" or excuse myself.
Book you're an evangelist for:
Straight from the heart, The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.... often listed and considered "adolescent literature"--absolutely not. No way, no how, (and what is "adolescent literature" anyway?) My daughter, Epi, read it and then told me I was going to read it, and she proceeded to read it out loud to me two springs ago. Mr. Zusak writes so brilliantly, with such heart and ease and insight you just have to stop and admire as you go. He manages the neat trick of using his narrator, which is Death by the way, giving his account of a young woman caught within the Third Reich on a street that translates to "heaven." Zusak tells you the fate of so many of his main characters chapters ahead of time, and when the time comes, there you are sobbing anyway. Or I was. I'm bringing the book to prop on the stage beside me at my upcoming events, as I did years ago with Howard Zinn's A People's History of the United States. The Book Thief is every bit as powerful and significant as is Golding's Lord of the Flies. And every page I open to read I can hear my daughter's voice.
Book you've bought for the cover:
Bought albums for their covers, I remember a Tijuana Brass cover once, whipped cream motif. No books.
Book that changed your life:
Three, I'll be brief. Griel Marcus's Mystery Train. Sam Shepard's plays and short story collections. Jim Carroll's The Basketball Diaries. These combined to cause me to think my stories might be legitimate, and brought me to writing them.
Favorite line from a book:
"Eddie got happy and started ravin', jerked out his razor but he wasn't shavin,' " from Griel Marcus's Mystery Train. Not for the violence, or for the wrongheadedness of it all. But for the Americana, the vibrant desperate Saturday night release and adamance inherit in our culture, the necessary wildness in us all that is constantly muted and toned down, taking us from baying hounds of lust, and life force and urge to little lap dogs of safety and consensus and political correctness.
Book you most want to read again for the first time:
Tom Wolfe's The Pump House Gang, which was about surfer kids I knew, and the kid I was back in those days. Reading those accounts at a time in my life, early 20s, was pretty profound for me.
And Wolfe's The Purple Decades confirmed things I suspected had tremendous value, but had not been able to put into words.
If you could encourage any beginning writer, what would you say?
I'd say that there is absolute legitimacy in their experience, that in the mundane, in the everyday, in the silent struggle of family and culture and the need for expression (which is an ultimate freedom) every one of us has that right and that opportunity. We do not have to have ridden the bull, dived into the foxhole, lost a great love to have something of tremendous value to impart, and that to be a part of that tradition of storytelling is an incredible honor and a very friendly and accepting gathering. Yeah, writers are frequently eccentric and competitive and petty and jealous, but all in all, I'd say, "Get in there, overall it's a great party."
Review: One for the Books
One for the Books by Joe Queenan (Viking, $24.95 hardcover, 9780670025824, October 2012)
As anyone familiar with the work of Joe Queenan would expect, One for the Books might just be one of the most sarcastic book about books ever written. What may come as a surprise to fans of Red Lobster, White Trash and the Blue Lagoon and other Queenan titles, though, is that the habitually acerbic cultural critic has a huge soft spot for books, one he displays abundantly in this memoir of his passionate reading life.
"There's nothing I would rather do than read books," Queenan confesses. The attachment began as a source of refuge in the rugged early years he described in his previous memoir Closing Time, growing up with an alcoholic father whose sole redeeming quality, in Queenan's eyes, was that he, too, was a reader. He estimates he's read somewhere between 6,000 and 7,000 books over the years, conceding that, alongside the classics, "the mysteries, the beach reading, and the out-of-out trash really puff up the numbers."
Though he's a committed book buyer (no Kindle for him), libraries have been the source of some of Queenan's most entertaining reading adventures. There was the year he spent reading books he pulled haphazardly from the shelves, and the year he devoted to reading an entire short book every day. Queenan also reveals some quirks, like his determination to hang on to every book he has purchased as an adult and his refusal to accept reading tips from strangers (or most friends, for that matter). He admits he's addicted to starting books, though not so committed to finishing them; Middlemarch is his great white whale, a book he "first took a crack at in 1978" and has yet to conquer.
One for the Books is crammed with Queenan's favorite titles (a reading list at the end would have been a helpful addition), and though he recommends books to read on a plane (Ian McEwan) and a train (Jonathan Franzen), he concedes he's "never found anyone who's fun to read on a bus." Even at his most caustic, Queenan defines himself as a true book lover. "Every life, even the best ones, ends in sadness," he writes. "Books hold out hope that things may end otherwise." That's a sentiment every avid reader will appreciate. --Harvey Freedenberg
Shelf Talker: Queenan's entertaining memoir of his expansive reading life is both a caustic and affectionate look at his passion for books.
Robert Gray: Bookish Lives & the Power of Absence
There is a marked trail of books that you can see clearly when you look over your shoulder, and a pair of recent deaths has reminded me once again how important that well-read path can be.
A college friend, with whom I'd had only minimal contact through letters and then e-mails over the past 40 years, died suddenly October 2 of natural causes in Ottawa. He was 64. I didn't know about it until a couple of days ago, when his daughter found me in the traditional 21st-century manner--scanning Facebook for matching names until the right one appeared.
When we were in college, my friend and I used to have long conversations about the ideal bookshop we wanted to run someday. That our store was conjured from dreams became clear many years later when I started working full-time as a frontline bookseller.
Several days before I learned of his passing, I happened to recall those conversations in a quiet moment as I was working at my desk. I don't believe in ghosts, but the timing of that recollection was, in its way, almost empirical evidence. Our Borgesian bookshop is apparently still open.
Then there's Alex Karras, a former All-Pro defensive tackle for the Detroit Lions who died October 10 at the age of 77. His death touched a different nerve and an earlier book memory. I was in high school when I read George Plimpton's Paper Lion, a humorous account of his brief research stint in 1963 as "last-string quarterback" for the Lions during their summer training camp.
Paper Lion was one of my earliest "bridge books." Although I was a good student in high school and college, I was also an athlete and bridging the gap between those disparate worlds became increasingly complicated in the late '60s and early '70s. Reading helped.
In my memory, Karras was the real star of Plimpton's narrative, not just for his athletic ability, but also for his intelligence, sense of humor and, well, presence. He was a wise-ass and a storyteller (two of my favorite attributes), specializing in tales of his own reincarnations: "General Washington was beautiful. I was at Valley Forge, you know, real cold...."
Rereading Paper Lion (a 45th-anniversary edition from Lyons Press) this week for the first time in nearly half a century, I was surprised to discover--or be reminded--that Karras hadn't even been in training camp that year. He was under indefinite suspension by the NFL for "placing a series of small bets during the season," as Plimpton delicately put it.
Yet Karras still manages to be the centerpiece of the book. Plimpton never misses a chance to sneak in anecdotes about him, and the final third of Paper Lion is practically handed over to flash-forward accounts of time spent with Karras later. Absence somehow becomes a kind of presence.
As Plimpton observed, "His presence had not only been missed on the field but also in the social life of the training camp--particularly in the dining room, where he put on his skits and monologues.... He had an absolute flow of free association, and his fantasies seemed to spring forth, never set pieces, but spontaneous and extemporized."
So Paper Lion became a trail marker on my book path, though I'm not the only one. In an introduction to the 1993 edition, Plimpton wrote: "The most heart-warming reaction to Paper Lion over the years has been the reaction of high school and grade school teachers who have spoken to me to say that they often assigned the book to students with little interest in literature who were subsequently turned on to reading."
When it went out of print for a time, Plimpton received letters from many teachers who mourned the absence of a book that offered certain students "the affirmation that there could be a strong aesthetic link between what they loved foremost, far more than classroom work--football, say--and reading about it in something other than the sports magazines and the newspapers."
These are not Shelf Awareness obituary notes in the usual sense of the term. They're just memories of a bookstore and a book, and the power of absence.--Robert Gray, contributing editor (column archives available at Fresh Eyes Now).