Shelf Awareness for Tuesday, June 4, 2013


Penguin Press: Feel Free: Essays by Zadie Smith

Graphix: Dog Man and Cat Kid (Dog Man #4) by Dav Pilkey

Ecco Press: Varina by Charles Frazier

Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books: Small Walt by Elizabeth Verdick and Marc Rosenthal

News

China Clears Penguin/Random House Merger

MOFCOM, the Chinese antitrust authority, has cleared the planned merger of Penguin Group and Random House without conditions. Regulatory authorities in the U.S., the European Union, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Canada have also given unconditional clearance for the merger.

Bertelsmann and Pearson said they are confident they can close the transaction in July. Penguin Random House will be 53% owned by Bertelsmann and 47% by Pearson.


Shelf Awareness Sign-up Giveaway: The Land Beyond by Leon McCarron


Sarah Smith New NYT Children's Books Editor

Sarah Harrison Smith will become the new children's editor at the New York Times, taking over from Pamela Paul, who was promoted recently to editor of the New York Times Book Review. Paul replaced Sam Tanenhaus, who stepped down after nine years in the position to become a writer-at-large.

Smith has served as an editor in the Metropolitan section and also worked as the managing editor of the New York Times Magazine. She is only the sixth children's book editor at the Times. Smith graduated from Oxford University and has a master's degree in English and comparative literature from Columbia University. In addition to the New York Times, she has reviewed for the New Yorker, Salon, the New Leader and the Boston Phoenix Literary Supplement.


Trinity University Press: Arte Kids - Bilingual Board Books


BEA: Future of E-books and E-reading

(l.-r.) Michael Tamblyn, Kobo; Michael Cader, Publishers Marketplace; Dominique Raccah, Sourcebooks; Jason Merkoski, Amazon futurist and author; and Andrew Savikas, Safari Books Online.

Sourcebooks founder and publisher Dominique Raccah, moderating the session on the future of electronic reading, got to the heart of things when she asked the panel: "What has been the biggest surprise in book publishing in the last three years?"

Jason Merkoski, a futurist and technology evangelist at Amazon who helped launch the first three Kindles, and author of Burning the Page: The eBook Revolution and the Future of Reading (Sourcebooks), said he noticed, when walking the BEA floor, that "print still seems very prominent."

"I think the growth and proliferation of e-content is masked by the fact that it is ethereal," offered panelist Andrew Savikas, CEO of Safari Books Online.

Michael Cader, founder of Publishers Marketplace, predicted that in the future people will be astonished to know that we lived in an era in which someone invented and people paid a lot of money for a device "just to read books."

Savikas predicted that how rights are managed in publishing might be one of the greatest areas of change. Cader boiled down the question to, "Who will get compensated and how?" He said he could foresee a day when his grandchildren will question a time when publishers acted like "venture capitalists," offering advances to authors.

When the first Kindle came on the market Savikas--then at O'Reilly Media--said he was most struck by his mother-in-law's initial reaction to it. By calling the Kindle a bookstore, "she recognized its real value and that the more profound shift had less to do with reading habits than with buying habits."

Cader admitted that what has surprised him most has been consumers' habit of stocking up on e-books. He said he would have thought consumers would not need books beyond the one they were reading on their device, "but the marketplace has proven otherwise."

Michael Tamblyn, chief content officer at Kobo, arrived to the panel late and did not have much time to add his voice to the discussion. But he did say that we "sit on the brink of complete ubiquity," when every book will be available everywhere, all the time. And, he said, he is also excited by the idea that human book retailers retain the ability to find that exact right next book for their customers. Such a book, he said, "if given at the right time, changes the way you read."

Cader said that the marketplace will settle issues of pricing and distribution, and that unlike other industries that did not have time to adapt to changes technology brought to them, the book business has allowed for that and will continue to do so. "I see a lot more innovation than I think gets recognized," he said.

Until what Merkoski called this "hybrid era" of simultaneous print and digital reading gets worked out, the topic of the future of reading is sure to remain a prominent part of the conversation. --Bridget Kinsella


Thomas Nelson: Perennials by Julie Cantrell


BEA: Evaluate Your Remainder Buying

At Changing Hands in Tempe, Ariz., said co-owner Gayle Shanks, remainders became part of the store's inventory in 1984--10 years after it opened. Now, as she's preparing to open a second location, remainders make up 15% of sales.

Gayle Shanks and Mary Magers

"Our philosophy is we think that great books are what we are all about," said Shanks, "and we include them in prices we all can afford." She added that Changing Hands offers a product mix that encourages its customers to "visit often and stay longer," and remainders help fulfill many aspects of the store's philosophy.

Mary Magers said that at Magers & Quinn in Minneapolis, remainders account for 50% of sales. The store, which sells new, used and collectible books, describes itself as "a bounty of the world's best books assembled by biblioholic booksellers." Mager said reminders are used to build inventory and to expand sections.

"I liken buying remainders to grocery shopping, as opposed to dress shopping," said Shanks, explaining that the former is all about "buying, buying, buying and not looking." But even if filling the shopping cart is the goal of remainder buying, she stressed it is not done without a plan.

Knowing where to shop helps, and CIROBE (the Chicago International Remainder and Book Overstock Expo) and GABBS (Great American Bargain Book Show) are the top two trade shows to attend, the speakers agreed.

Shanks said she walks the sales floor and gets a section-by-section sales report from the remainders buyer before she attends a bargain book-buying event. "If you can bring the frontlist buyer with you, it will go 10 times faster," Shanks said, "because they know immediately what is selling." Changing Hands tries to rotate its remainder stock four to five times per year, and while staff attends the trade show and peruses remainder catalogues on a regular basis, the store does not buy skids--that is, bulk remainders.

Magers & Quinn has gotten good at managing skids, having created a system for unloading the delivery and for overstock and for asking for a manifest of the skid from the vendor. Both stores make warehouse trips, and suggest booksellers make sure another book retailer has not been there the week before and cleaned out the inventory. They each buy about three pallets of books when they make warehouse trips.

One of the keys to Changing Hands' success in remainders, said Shanks, has come from entering these books into its point-of-sale system so that they can reorder titles that are selling well. The trick with remainders is that the books can go out of inventory fast, and that remainders are unreturnable.

But one area booksellers can and should manage when it comes to remainders is shipping costs. Compare shipping prices and don't forget to negotiate the prices, Shanks advised, since most overstock vendors have more inventory than they can sell. And despite what both Shanks and Magers had expected with the rise of electronic calendars, remaindered print calendars are still a hot item.

Once you get into the remainder buying habit, Magers added, it becomes addictive. --Bridget Kinsella


Quirk Books: My Lady's Choosing: An Interactive Romance Novel by Kitty Curran and Larissa Zageris


Robbie Robertson: Music Legend Shares His Icons at BEA

When you listen to Robbie Robertson--legendary guitarist, lyricist and one of the founding members of The Band--tell a story, you just know there are a million more where that came from. For example: "I've had the opportunity to sit with Chuck Berry and say okay, on Tuesday it was Teresa Brewer and Patti Page singing popular music. On Thursday, something happened and there you were and Little Richard and Fats Domino. Were you guys just waiting behind the curtain? How did rock & roll explode that quickly? What happened? And Chuck Berry said because the real father of rock and roll had taught us something we couldn’t wait to share with everybody, and that guy's name was Louis Jordan."

On Saturday at BEA, an enthusiastic Downtown Stage crowd heard Robertson share a few stories as he joined his son, Sebastian, and music journalist Alan Light for a conversation about Legends, Icons & Rebels: Music that Changed the World (Tundra Books/Random House of Canada, October), which the Robertsons wrote in collaboration with music managers Jim Guerinot and Jared Levine.

"It felt like it was amazing that nobody's already done this. It felt like it was long overdue," said Robbie, adding that he believes the book, aimed at 8- to 13-year-old readers (and their parents), "sets a taste factor in place." As young people enjoy the music of today, they can also get "a sense of where that lineage is."

The illustrated edition (with two CDs) features short profiles chronicling the personal stories and achievements of 27 legends whose innovations changed the landscape of music, including Ray Charles, Johnny Cash, Aretha Franklin, Chuck Berry, Bob Dylan and Carole King. Robertson also shares personal anecdotes about these artists and their influence on his own musical journey. "What they really have in common is their music is timeless," he said. "All of these artists pulled a rabbit out of their hat and changed music forever." 

Sebastian described the selection process, which took place during regular meetings at his father's studio, as intense but fun and somewhat nostalgic: "We'd come to the meeting place and everybody would say, 'We've got to have this person! Listen to this song!' It took us back to that point in our lives when your best friend came over with the new vinyl or cassette or CD, whatever it is in your life, and you go, 'Oh my God, man, you gotta check out this new song!' And we got to relive that; got to see the importance of that."

In response to a question about the potential bonding process between parents and their children over music, Robbie observed that it was a critically important factor in their decision to write the book. "This connection between a parent and a kid, and that we can do something that is so strong musically that the parent can be relieved of trying to feel like they're forcing this on the kid," he said, adding, "But if you could do it and make it so magical and so beautiful and so understandable that this is something that is a treasure in your life. And that you can carry this with you forever... Hopefully, we are making a beautiful connection between parents and their children." --Robert Gray


First Publishing Hackathon Winners

L.-r.: Judges Jennifer Rudolph Walsh, Doug Rushkoff, and Stephen Evans; winners Lisa Maione and Jason Pearson; judge Alexis Ohanian; winner Jill Axline; judge David Steinberger. (photo: Brad Balfour)

The winners of the first Publishing Hackathon, co-sponsored by BEA, were announced on Friday. Each of the six finalist teams had five minutes to present their solution for online book discovery to a panel of judges. The winning team, Evoke, presented an approach to discovering fiction through characters. Team member Jill Axline explained, "A lot of what it means to love a book has to do with your relationship with a character--that's at the core of what you describe when recommending a book to a friend. Evoke allows readers to find new characters based on ones they already know and love." Evoke's developers win $10,000 and a pitch meeting with Ari Emanuel, co-CEO of William Morris Endeavor.

Then one of the judges, Randi Zuckerberg, announced: "We've decided to 'hack the rules' a bit because it was so difficult to choose just one winner." The judges spontaneously awarded a second-place prize to team Captiv for their solution of mining Twitter posts to "bring you better book recommendations at the speed of life." Captiv's prize is $2,500, funded on the spot by William Morris Endeavor.

The Publishing Hackathon started on May 18-19; more than 200 participants formed 30 teams and worked 32 straight hours to come up with new approaches to online book discovery. Those 30 teams were narrowed down to six finalists who were invited to BEA.

The other finalists: BookCity: a way to find books set in the place you plan to travel to; Coverlist, a discovery solution focused on the joy of browsing jackets; KooBrowser, an approach to making better book recommendations based on browsing history; LibraryAtlas, a book discovery solution based on geolocation.

More info on the finalists and the Hackathon is available at publishinghackathon.com.


Obituary Note: William Demby

William Demby, "whose novels [including Beetlecreek and The Catacombs], written while he was an expatriate in Italy, challenged literary conventions and expectations of what a black writer should write about," died May 23, the New York Times reported. He was 90.


Notes

Cool Idea of the Day: Student Event Discount

For an appearance by Khaled Hosseini on June 12 at Wichita State University, co-host Watermark Books & Cafe, Wichita, Kan., has set aside a block of free tickets for high school and college students. (Otherwise tickets are the cost of Hosseini's new book, And the Mountains Echoed, which retails for $28.95.) Students who come to the store and show a current student ID receive two free tickets. And, as the store put it, there's "extra credit" available: students who buy the book get a $5 Watermark gift card.


Aurora Anaya-Cerda, Crowdfunding 'Champion of Change'

Congratulations to Aurora Anaya-Cerda, founder a year ago of La Casa Azul Bookstore, in East Harlem in New York City, who today will be honored by the White House as one of 12 people who are crowdfunding "Champions of Change," entrepreneurs who "exemplify the promise of crowdfunding to fuel the growth of startups, small businesses, and innovative projects across the nation."

Anaya-Cerda helped fund La Casa Azul Bookstore in part through crowdsourcing. The Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act, which President Obama signed last year and the SEC will implement, is designed to increase investment-based crowdfunding platforms.

To watch today's event live, go to whitehouse.gov/live at 2:30 p.m. Eastern.


Media and Movies

Media Heat: Doc Gooden Pitches His New Memoir

This morning on the Today Show: Dorothy Breininger, author of Stuff Your Face or Face Your Stuff: The Organized Approach to Lose Weight by Decluttering Your Life (HCI, $14.95, 9780757317378).

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This morning on MSNBC's Morning Joe: Doc Gooden, co-author of Doc: A Memoir (New Harvest, $27, 9780544027022).

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Tomorrow morning on Fox & Friends: Meredith Whitney, author of Fate of the States: The New Geography of American Prosperity (Portfolio, $27.95, 9781591845706).

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Tomorrow on Tavis Smiley: Phil Jackson, co-author of Eleven Rings: The Soul of Success (Penguin Press, $27.95, 9781594205118).

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Tomorrow on the View: Mark Weber, author of Tell My Sons: A Father's Last Letters (Ballantine, $25, 9780345549440).

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Tomorrow night on the Colbert Report: Jonathan Alter, author of The Center Holds: Obama and His Enemies (Simon & Schuster, $30, 9781451646078). He will also appear on MSNBC's Martin Bashir.


TV: The Shining Girls

MRC (House of Cards) and Leonardo DiCaprio's Appian Way production company will adapt The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes for television. The novel is being released today by Little, Brown's Mulholland Books imprint. According to the Hollywood Reporter, MRC has picked up the rights with Appian executive producing, which "marks a rare but splashy foray into TV for Appian, which previously made the environmental reality show Greensburg."



Books & Authors

Awards: Commonwealth Book; Frank O’Connor Short Story

U.K. author Lisa O'Donnell won the £10,000 (about US$15,193) Commonwealth Book Prize for her debut novel The Death of Bees, the Bookseller reported. Godfrey Smith, the prize's chair, praised her book for being "effortlessly fresh and original; it is fiction that provokes and shocks; it is innovative in its narrative style and told in a natural convincing voice." The £2,500 Commonwealth Short Story Prize was jointly awarded to Eliza Robertson (Canada) for "We Walked on Water" and Sharon Miller (Trinidad and Tobago) for "The Whale House."
 
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Finalists for the €25,000 (US$32,607) Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award are:  

Tea at the Midland and Other Stories by David Constantine
Siege 13 by Tamas Dobozy
Black Vodka by Deborah Levy
Black Dahlia & White Rose by Joyce Carol Oates
We're Flying by Peter Stamm
Battleborn by Claire Vaye Watkins

The winner will be announced in July and the author will receive the award at the Cork International Short Story Festival in September.


Book Review

Review: Memories of a Marriage

Memories of a Marriage by Louis Begley (Nan A. Talese/Doubleday, $25.95 hardcover, 9780385537469, July 9, 2013)

In 1950s Newport, R.I., well-born Lucy De Bourgh marries Thomas Snow, son of a local garage owner and his bookkeeper wife. Thomas is definitely from the wrong side of the tracks, a theme that Louis Begley explores thoroughly in Memories of a Marriage, an intensely intimate portrayal of a couple from several perspectives.

Philip narrates the story of Lucy and Thomas. He runs into her at the ballet one evening and recalls knowing her many years before--she was a hell-raiser, ready for anything and very free with her sexual favors. They agree to meet for dinner at her apartment, where Philip is treated to deli food and too much booze.

Early in their conversation, Lucy offers condolences to Philip for his wife's death; he reciprocates with condolences for her divorce and Thomas's subsequent accidental death. "What do you mean?" Lucy replies. "I couldn't have gone on living with that monster. You went on seeing him, of course, just like all the rest of my friends. Yup, everything he wanted fell into his lap, including that celebrity second wife, and he never acknowledged that he owed it all to me." The crux of the novel lies in that response.

Philip is puzzled by her bitterness and unfairness to Thomas, a good-looking, brilliant investment banker who became a "Wall Street pundit." Lucy, endlessly bringing up her ex's humble beginnings, conveniently forgets Thomas graduated from Harvard and then went on to the London School of Economics and Harvard Business School. She portrays him as mean-spirited, a sex maniac and an adulterer.

Philip becomes obsessed with the contradictions in the story, both as a friend of Lucy and Thomas--and more particularly as an author sussing out a good story. He seeks out Thomas's second wife, Jane, and several mutual friends to get their recollections of what happened before drawing his own conclusions. The picture that emerges is infinitely complex, leading Philip to understand how incompletely he knew the pair--or their marriage. The generally accepted story is that they never should have gotten married in the first place--but that does not explain everything. There is a predictable encounter at the end of the novel, but one that's absolutely perfect in the context of what has gone before. --Valerie Ryan

Shelf Talker: Begley, a stellar storyteller (About Schmidt; Wartime Lies), takes a deep plunge into the swamp a marriage can become.


Ooops

And the Judges Are...

We mistakenly listed the 2012 Boston Globe-Horn Book Award judges in yesterday's issue. The 2013 judges are: chair, Sarah Ellis, Horn Book reviewer, author and teacher at the Vermont College of Fine Arts (Vancouver, B.C.); Pamela Yosca, children's librarian and library consultant at MATCH Charter Public High School (Jamaica Plain, Mass.); Karen Kosko, retired school librarian (Cambridge, Mass.).


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