Also published on this date: Wednesday, March 20, 2013: Maximum Shelf: The Execution of Noa P. Singleton

Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Sourcebooks: Magician's Fire by Simon Nicholson

Disney: Zodiac by Stan Lee

Viking Children's: Althea & Oliver by Cristina Moracho

Balzer + Bray: Louise Loves Art by Kelly Light

Harper: Us by David Nicholls

Harper: Man V Nature by Diane Cook

 

News

Supreme Court Overturns Wiley 'First Sale Doctrine' Ruling

Nearly a year after agreeing to hear an appeal regarding a lower court decision that awarded John Wiley & Sons $600,000 in damages in a copyright infringement case, the Supreme Court rejected the publisher's interpretation of a rule known as the "first sale doctrine," which prevents copyright owners from exerting rights over a product once it has been purchased legally, paidContent reported. Wiley had sued Supap Kirtsaeng, whose family in Thailand sent him textbooks to resell in the U.S., including a reported $37,000 worth of Wiley titles.

Noting that the 6-3 decision "has major implications for used good merchants across the country," paidContent wrote that the ruling "is likely to be a relief for used booksellers and others who feared that geographical limits on first sale would harm their business."

Writing for the majority, Justice Stephen Breyer rejected Wiley's argument that the phrase "lawfully made under this title" imposed a geographic limitation, noting: "In contrast, the geographical interpretation bristles with linguistic difficulties.... Reliance on the 'first sale' doctrine is also deeply embedded in the practices of booksellers, libraries, museums, and retailers, who have long relied on its protection. And the fact that harm has proved limited so far may simply reflect the reluctance of copyright holders to assert geographically based resale rights. Thus, the practical problems described by petitioner and his amici are too serious, extensive, and likely to come about to be dismissed as insignificant--particularly in light of the ever-growing importance of foreign trade to America."

Riverhead: How We Got To Now by Steven Johnson

Persepolis Ban in Chicago Boosts Graphic Novel's Sales

A display at the Book Cellar, Chicago.

Following the Chicago Public Schools' ban last week on Marjane Satrapi's Persepolis for "graphic language and images," the graphic novel and its two sequels saw a dramatic spike in sales over the weekend in the Windy City, DNAinfo.com reports.

Last Friday, the CEO of the public school system, Barbara Byrd-Bennett, ordered that the series be removed from the seventh grade curriculum, and announced that CPS would also be "reconsidering its [Persepolis] use for 8th through 10th graders." The decision met with immediate backlash from First Amendment activists, booksellers, Chicago residents and educators.

"The book is highly regarded by educators and has been taught successfully in schools in Chicago and around the country," said Joan Bertin, executive director of the National Coalition Against Censorship. "In our view, the decision is both pedagogically unsound and constitutionally suspect."

NCAC sent a letter sent a letter to the Chicago Board of Education condemning the move and stating, in part, "The title character of Satrapi's book is herself the age of junior high school students, and her description of her real-life experiences might well have special relevance to them. The vast majority of Chicago middle school students are surely aware of the reality of violence and its devastating effects on people of all ages. Most have witnessed it on the news, if not in their own neighborhoods." The letter was co-signed by the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, the Association of American Publishers, the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, PEN America Center and the National Council of Teachers of English.

Many Chicago-area bookstores, including the Book Cellar in Lincoln Square, Quimby's in Wicker Park and Women & Children First in Andersonville, told DNAinfo that they were sold out by the end of the weekend.

"Whatever we had, we sold," said Suzy Takacs, owner of the Book Cellar. "It just didn't occur to me that [the controversy] would result in sales of the book. It's not new."

"It's a great graphic novel. I also think it's an important book," said John Khosropour, a bookseller at Unabridged Bookstore in Lakeview. "Whenever something gets banned, we kind of like to push it more."

Despite the sales spike, Lynn Mooney of Women & Children First, saw nothing to be thrilled about in regards to the censorship. "There's no joy knowing this is going on in our city. It's embarrassing."

Henry Holt: The Book of Three by Lloyd Alexander

Amazon and CIA in Cloudy Deal

Amazon and the Central Intelligence Agency have agreed to a cloud computing contract worth up to $600 million over 10 years, Federal Computer Week reported, citing sources who said Amazon Web Services will assist the CIA in building "a private cloud infrastructure that helps the agency keep up with emerging technologies like big data in a cost-effective manner not possible under the CIA's previous cloud efforts."

"As a general rule, the CIA does not publicly disclose details of our contracts, the identities of our contractors, the contract values, or the scope of work," a CIA spokesperson said, but FCW noted that in recent speaking engagements, agency officials "have hinted at significant upcoming changes to the way the agency procures software, how it uses big-data analytics and the ways in which it incorporates commercial-sector innovation." 

GigaOm observed that "Amazon's biggest and oldest data center farm, US-East, is in Ashburn, Va., and it is reportedly expanding its presence there with another huge data center farm. The CIA is based about 20 miles away in Langley, Va."

Harlequin: The Good Girl by Mary Kubica

Black Balloon Launches Horatio Nelson Prize

New York City small press Black Balloon Publishing has launched the Horatio Nelson Fiction Prize, an award for completed, unpublished manuscripts no less than 50,000 words. The winner will receive $5,000 and a book deal with Black Balloon.

Black Balloon Publishing, self-proclaimed champion of "the weird, the unwieldy, and the unclassifiable," named the prize after Admiral Lord Horatio Nelson, who died at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805, for his "relentless creativity and perseverance against all odds." Titles previously published by Black Balloon Publishing include Maverick Jetpants in the City of Quality by Bill Peters and Our Man in Iraq by Robert Perisic.

Writers over the age of 18 are eligible for the contest, and may submit a novel or short story collection written in English to Black Balloon Publishing after April 1. The contest has no submission fee. More detailed instructions can be found here.

Shelf Awareness: Richelle Mead

Grant Hill: That New Bookstore Owner in Blytheville

"The short answer is that I wanted to work in a little bookstore," said Grant Hill, the new owner of That Bookstore in Blytheville, Ark., when asked what drew him to buying an indie bookstore.

This time last year, Hill was considering moving to New Orleans or Savannah, in order to "work in a little bookstore, and be poor," when he heard that That Bookstore was for sale. Knowing that the store would likely close for good if the former owner, Mary Gay Shipley, could not find a buyer, Hill reached out to her. Initially, he had no intentions of purchasing the store--he simply wanted to see it stay in business.

Grant Hill with Mary Gay Shipley.
(Photo by Luke Jones/Arkansas Business.com)

"The store has been around forever, it's an icon," explained Hill, who grew up in Mountain Home, about 140 miles from Blytheville. "So I talked to Mary Gay about what it would take to keep the store in business. I was doing some research to help her out and find buyers, and then I realized it was more doable than I had initially thought."

Hill described having more than a few sleepless nights while trying to secure funding for his purchase. He considered everything from crowdfunding to micro-loans, and wound up receiving a grant from Blytheville's Main Street foundation and a loan from the town's Chamber of Commerce, in addition to assistance from Southern Bancorp. Considering that he is only 22 and had no credit record, Hill acknowledged that he must have looked like a pretty big risk on paper. "They didn't want to lose this business.... They were willing to stick their necks out for the greater good."

The building was signed over in mid-November, and Hill officially took the reins on January 1. Shipley continues to come to the store, "out of the kindness of her heart," to help Hill with the transition. And Hill, who has no previous experience in the book industry, has certainly had much to get used to.

"Almost everything has been harder than I've expected, and I expected it to be hard," said Hill. He described the process of switching over all of the store's relevant accounts as being a particularly big hassle. "In terms of paperwork, it would have been easier to have closed the store and start from scratch than hand things over."

Hill has been living in That Bookstore's attic since he purchased the store. According to Hill, never leaving the store can get a little maddening, but it works for now.

Not everything about the transition, however, has proven difficult: Hill called the warm reception he's received from the Blytheville community remarkable. Getting support and help, especially from Blytheville's other main street businesses, has been easier than he ever imagined. "Considering my age and that I'm not from here, I thought it might take awhile. But everyone has been very welcoming."

As he gets increasingly settled in, Hill plans to make some gradual, yet significant, changes. At some point in the future, he wants to add a coffee-shop element to the store. Many Blytheville residents have expressed interest in the idea, according to Hill. "There isn't any kind of coffee shop or place to hang out [in Blytheville]. There used to be a Starbucks, but it closed after about six months. The big thing I'm moving toward is having some space dedicated to that." --Alex Mutter

Obituary Note: Dan deLellis

Daniel J. "Dan" deLellis, who was the book director for the Harvard Coop in Cambridge, Mass., for 38 years, a past president of the New England Independent Booksellers Association and member of the American Booksellers Association's board of directors, died last Sunday. He was 76.

Notes

Image of the Day: A 'Reading Without a Reading'


Last week, Common Good Books, St. Paul, Minn., hosted an event for Terry Tempest Williams (When Women Were Birds: Fifty-four Variations on Voice) that included aspects of a "reading without reading," as the bookshop described it. In the photo, the author and her husband, Brooke, share a quiet moment with one of her fans.

Quiet and silence were an essential part of the evening's theme. "Silence introduced in a society that worships noise is like the Moon exposing the night," Williams writes in When Women Were Birds. "Behind darkness is our fear. Within silence our voice dwells. What is required from both is that we be still. We focus. We listen. We see and we hear. The unexpected emerges."

The night began with a performance of her poem "Wild Mercy," set to music by Steve Heitzeg for soprano, Yupik frame drum and two Beluga whale jawbones. The instruments were from the Arctic and included two Beluga whale jawbones from a stranded whale, which were on loan from the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration and the National Marine Fisheries Service.

Midway through the event, musicians returned to the stage to perform composer John Cage's 4'33", which instructs the performer not to play during the entire length of the piece.

'Mixed-Use' Gone Wild: Water Slides in Public Libraries?

"Would More People Use the Public Library if It Had a Water Slide?" was the headline for an Atlantic Cities piece by John Metcalfe, in which he used the results of a survey conducted in 2010 by Poland's National Library to determine the reading habits of the Polish citizenry (56% had not read a book in the past year; 46% had not read anything longer than three pages in the previous month) to ask if it might be "the library's fault for not attracting these individuals, what with its classically stodgy, hermetic-cage-for-learning design."

Specifically, Metcalfe showcased the theories of Polish architect Hugon Kowalski, who "conceived of a new kind of library that he hopes will one day be built in Mosina, a town just south of Poznań. On its first floor, it's all bibliotheca.... But then it gets weird: In the middle of the library is a glass column full of water and flailing human bodies. Go up one level and you're suddenly in the middle of a vast swimming facility, complete with a snaking water slide that takes whooping swimmers on a ride inside and outside of the building." Several renderings of the "poolbrary" from Kowalski's portfolio were also featured.

Ingram Publisher Services Adds Three Publishers

Ingram Publisher Services has added three new publisher clients:

The Mother Company, founded in 2010, which offers DVDs, downloads, books, apps, dolls and music based on social and emotional learning to help parents raise children well. Its best known for its Ruby's Studio line. IPS is handling U.S. sales and distribution.

Mandevilla Press, launched by Bob Diforio of D4EO Literary Agency last fall, which publishes frontlist and backlist titles represented by D4EO, including early works by Robert K. Tanenbaum and Jon Land as well as fiction and nonfiction titles by new authors. Mandevilla Press will use offset and on-demand printing from Lightning Source for titles. Ingram is providing sales and distribution in the U.S. and Canada.    

LSAC, which administers the Law School Admission Test and provides software and information for admission offices and applicants, conducts educational conferences, sponsors and publishes research, funds diversity and other outreach grant programs and publishes LSAT preparation books and law school guides. Ingram is handling distribution for LSAC's LSAT preparation books in the U.S. and Canada.

Book Trailer of the Day: Bike Snob Abroad

Bike Snob Abroad: Strange Customs, Incredible Fiets, and the Quest for Cycling Paradise by BikeSnobNYC, aka Eben Weiss (Chronicle Books).

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Jess Walter on Bookworm

This morning on Imus in the Morning: Lanny J. Davis, author of Crisis Tales: Five Rules for Coping with Crises in Business, Politics, and Life (Threshold, $27, 9781451679281).

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Today on NPR's Fresh Air: Shereen El Feki, author of Sex and the Citadel: Intimate Life in a Changing Arab World (Pantheon, $28.95, 9780307377395).

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Tomorrow on KCRW's Bookworm: Jess Walter, author of We Live in Water (Harper Perennial, $14.99, 9780061926624). As the show put it: "How did Jess Walter make the leap between his romantic novel, Beautiful Ruins, and the end-of-the-world sadness of his stories in We Live in Water? Walter is a shape-shifting trickster. Now, he settles down to tell intimate stories about his hometown, Spokane, Washington."

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Tomorrow on NPR's Diane Rehm Show: Jeff Chu, author of Does Jesus Really Love Me?: A Gay Christian's Pilgrimage in Search of God in America (Harper, $26.99, 9780062049735).

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Tomorrow on NPR's On Point: Douglas Rushkoff, author of Present Shock: When Everything Happens Now (Current/Penguin, $26.95, 9781591844761).

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Tomorrow night on Access Hollywood: Sue Hitzmann, author of The MELT Method (HarperOne, $25.99, 9780062065353).

Movie Casting: The Fault in Our Stars; Six Years; Child 44; This Is Where I Leave You

Shailene Woodley (The Descendants) has been offered the role of Hazel Grace Lancaster in the movie version of John Green's The Fault in Our Stars, Entertainment Weekly reported. The book will be adapted by (500) Days of Summer and The Spectacular Now writers Scott Neustadter and Michael Weber.

"During our exhaustive search to find Hazel Grace Lancaster, I saw some stunning auditions by today's finest young actresses," said director Josh Boone. "Over 250 girls read for the part, but it wasn't until Shailene stepped in front of the camera that I truly saw Hazel for the first time. It was like lightning striking. I can't wait for the rest of the world to see what I have."

The book's author agreed: "I am absolutely thrilled that Shailene will be playing Hazel in The Fault in Our Stars. It means a lot to me that she is a fan of the book, and I know from our conversations that she has a profound understanding of Hazel. Watching her audition, I felt like Hazel Grace Lancaster was talking to me. It was eerie--and very exciting."

Woodley is also set to star as Tris in the film version of Veronica Roth's YA novel Divergent.

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Hugh Jackman (Les Miserables) will star in a film adaptation of Harlan Coben's new novel Six Years, according to the Hollywood Reporter. Paramount is developing the project, "which does not yet have a screenwriter or director attached."

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Swedish actor Joel Kinnaman (The Killing) has joined Tom Hardy and Noomi Rapace in the cast of Child 44, based on from Tom Rob Smith's novel, Indiewire reported. The movie, adapted by Richard Price (The Wire, Clockers), will be produced by Ridley Scott and directed by Daniel Espinosa (Safe House).

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Rose Byrne (Damages, Bridesmaids) "is in negotiations for Warner Bros.'s This Is Where I Leave You, based on Jonathan Tropper's novel and directed by Shawn Levy, Indiewire reported. She joins a cast that currently includes Jason Bateman, Tina Fey, Adam Driver, Kathryn Hahn and Jane Fonda.

Books & Authors

Awards: PEN/Faulkner Fiction; Tony Ryan Horse Racing Lit

Benjamin Alire Sáenz won the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction for his short story collection Everything Begins and Ends at the Kentucky Club (Cinco Puntos Press). He will be honored May 4 during the annual PEN/Faulkner award ceremony at the Folger Shakespeare Library, where he and the other finalists will read.

"In Everything Begins & Ends at the Kentucky Club, his twentieth published book, Benjamin Alire Sáenz shows how decades working at your craft gives birth to might and mastery," said A.J. Verdelle, one of the judges. "He presents a rendering of reality that is lush, tender, expansive, inclusive and profound. The author takes stunning care with language--English, Spanish, and the languages of sunlight, daylight, dimlight, night light--twisting and tumbling with the whispered language of the human heart. Sáenz also devotes impressive attention to rendering communities on the borders of the United States and Mexico, on the boundaries of sensual and sexual expression, on the edge of despair, and on the cusp of redemption."

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Semi-finalists have been named for the $10,000 Dr. Tony Ryan Book Award, which showcases the best of horse racing literature, the Daily Racing Form reported. The winner will be announced April 10. This year's shortlisted titles are:

Flying Change: A Year of Racing and Family and Steeplechasing by Patrick Smithwick (Chesapeake Publishing)
Kentucky Derby Dreams: The Making of Thoroughbred Champions by Susan Nusser (Thomas Dunne Books)
My Year of the Racehorse by Kevin Chong (Greystone Books)
Racing From Death by Sasscer Hill (Wildside Press)
The Garrett Gomez Story: A Jockey's Journey Through Addiction and Salvation by Rudolph Alvarado, with Garrett Keith Gomez (Caballo Press of Ann Arbor)
The Kentucky Derby: How the Run for the Roses Became America's Premier Sporting Event by James C. Nicholson (The University Press of Kentucky)
When Racing Was Racing: A Century of Horse Racing by Adam Powley (Haynes Publishing)

Book Brahmin: Ruth Ozeki

photo: Kris Krug

Filmmaker-turned-novelist-turned-Zen-Buddhist-priest Ruth Ozeki has always had a hard time choosing. She was born and raised in New Haven, Conn., by an American anthropologist father and a Japanese linguist mother. In college, she decided to major in psychology and then switched to a double major in English Literature and Asian Studies. She moved to Japan to do graduate work in classical Japanese literature, while studying Noh drama and working as a bar hostess. She got a certificate in ikebana flower arrangement and then returned to New York to work as an art director on low-budget horror movies. Eventually she started making her own films, until she ran out of money and started writing novels--My Year of Meats (1998) and All Over Creation (2003)--and then was ordained as a Zen Buddhist priest. Her new novel is A Tale for the Time Being (Viking Penguin, March 12, 2013). A dual U.S. and Canadian citizen, she splits her time between British Columbia and New York City. Questionnaires like this, which require her to make choices, drive her nuts.

On your nightstand now:

I always have a rather large pile. I just finished reading The Raw Shark Texts by Steven Hall, which I'm not ready to put back on the shelf yet because I enjoyed it so much. I'm rereading Shakespeare's The Tempest because it never fails to inspire me to see the beauty in this storm-tossed isle where I live. Training in Compassion: Zen Teachings on the Practice of Lojong, by Norman Fischer, I'm using as a text for a kind of Zen-style lectio divina. The Street of Crocodiles by Bruno Schultz is the next book on my list, recommended by my husband, who loved it, but in the meantime, I'm reading Mark Haddon's A Spot of Bother.

Favorite book when you were a child:

This is so random, but what pops to mind are Charlotte's Web by E.B. White, Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh, The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry and A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle. But now that I think about it, the very first book I remember loving was The Five Chinese Brothers by Claire Huchet and illustrated by Kurt Wiese. It's a picture book about, well, five Chinese brothers who looked exactly alike, only each brother had a special power. One brother could swallow the sea, one had an iron neck, one could stretch his legs out really long, one could not be burned by fire, and one could hold his breath forever. These superpowers eventually saved the brothers from being executed, when one of them was falsely accused of murder. The book apparently provoked a lot of controversy and was criticized for promoting ethnic stereotypes (slanty eyes, yellow skin, indistinguishable Asians), but I didn't mind. If slanty eyes and yellow skin meant you could swallow the sea or get an iron neck and not be beheaded, that seemed fine to me, and I remember spending a lot of time trying to figure out which superpower I wanted to cultivate.

Your top five authors:

Way too hard. I'm changing the question:

Top five authors born between 966 and 1899:

Murasaki Shikubu, William Shakespeare, Jane Austen, William Faulkner, Jorge Luis Borges.

Top five six authors born after 1900 whom I've read in the past year:

David Mitchell, Kurt Vonnegut, Karen Joy Fowler, Steven Hall, Jane Hamilton, Haruki Murakami

Book you've faked reading:

People assume that I've read Proust's In Search of Lost Time, when in fact I've only read Swann's Way. One of these days I will finish all seven volumes and will no longer have to squirm and correct this assumption.

Book you're an evangelist for:

Karen Joy Fowler's We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, which will be published in May, 2013. This book is utterly amazing, one of those books that I feel pretty sure was written just for me. Of course, I didn't actually know Karen at the time she was writing it just for me, but that doesn't change my conviction.

Book you've bought for the cover:

None that I can recall.

Book that changed your life:

The Riverside Shakespeare.

Favorite line from a book:

"I affirm that the Library is interminable." --From The Library of Babel, by Jorge Luis Borges.

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

Grendel by John Gardner.

Book Review

YA Review: Dark Triumph

Dark Triumph by Robin LaFevers (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $17.99 hardcover, 400p., ages 14-up, 9780547628387, April 2, 2013)

The gripping launch title in Robin LaFevers's His Fair Assassin series, Grave Mercy, focused on the training of the assassin nuns and inner workings of the Breton court. In the second book, Dark Triumph, Sybella takes readers deep into the dark heart of the enemy. It, too, will keep readers' lamp light burning into the wee hours.

Like Ismae (narrator of Grave Mercy), Sybella was sired by Mortain, but she was raised in the household of the lecherous and greedy d'Albret. The abbess sends Sybella into the enemy's lair when she orders her back to the man who's had nearly as many wives as Henry VIII, with just as lusty an appetite for women and blood.

LaFevers starts this follow-up precisely where the first book left off, with Sybella standing on the North tower and warning Ismae of a trap that's been set for the duchess and her soldiers. While there, Sybella witnesses "a great big ox of a man," the last of the duchess's soldiers, fall in battle. That man is Beast, a legendary warrior met in the first book. The abbess sends a message to Sybella with orders to determine if Beast is alive and, if so, to free him and return him to the duchess in Rennes. Rather than kill him, d'Albret plans to make an example of Beast, to send him back to the duchess drawn and quartered.  In the course of freeing Beast from his jail cell and transporting him, Sybella discovers that she and Beast are connected not only by their obsession with justice but also by their pasts.

Readers learn more of the plans of the French and their treatment of the Bretons, and about the charbonnerie--tiny exiled folk who extract coal from the ground and live in the forests. When Sybella and Ismae reunite, they compare notes and find that they share a mistrust of the abbess. Sybella at one point refers to herself as "a lamb sacrificed for the elevation of the convent." Themes of incest and more graphic violence come to the fore, but they are not gratuitous. LaFevers explores the desperation that can grow out of a household consumed with violence. These complexities echo Sybella's growing awareness that her powers to heal are as strong as her skills as an assassin, and her ability to love is as fierce as her propensity for hatred. Sybella, who was so bent on avenging d'Albret's many transgressions, realizes there may be a greater purpose to her life than simply exacting revenge. --Jennifer M. Brown

Shelf Talker: The 15th-century tale of France's efforts to take control of Brittany continues through the perspective of Sybella, ordered to return as a spy to the household of d'Albret, where she was raised.

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