Shelf Awareness for Monday, August 19, 2013


HarperCollins: Dear Girl, by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Paris Rosenthal, illustrated by Holly Hatam

Little Brown and Company: The Recovering: Intoxication and Its Aftermath by Leslie Jamison

Houghton Mifflin: Playing Atari with Saddam Hussein: Based on a True Story by Jennifer Roy with Ali Fadhil

Tarcherperigee: F You Very Much: Understanding the Culture of Rudeness--And What We Can Do about It by Danny Wallace

Quotation of the Day

Indie Focus: To Continue Providing 'Unparalleled Experience'

"While indie booksellers, too, were stunned by the Justice Department's assault on a legal pricing model for e-books that was resulting in greater consumer choice and lower prices, our focus will be to continue providing readers and book buyers an unparalleled experience for browsing and discovering their next great read. Research bears out that the percentage of those who discover new titles in a physical bookstore far outstrips that of those who learned about a new book online. Algorithms are still a pale substitute for a bookseller's insight, knowledge and passion.

"Our neighborhood bookstores are where customers come to experience firsthand a deeper connection with authors, great writing and their own community."
--Steve Bercu, co-owner of BookPeople, Austin, Tex., and ABA president, in "Sunday Dialogue: Tumult in the Book World," an Opinion feature in yesterday's New York Times.


William Morrow & Company: My Dear Hamilton: A Novel of Eliza Schuyler Hamilton by Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie


News

Hastings's Second Quarter: Missing 50 Shades of Grey

At Hastings Entertainment, total revenues in the second quarter ended July 31 fell 7.9%, to $95.8 million, and the net loss increased 20.6%, to $4.1 million.

Total revenue at stores open at least a year fell 6.2%. At the end of the quarter, the company had eight fewer superstores than it did a year earlier. Hastings currently has 129 superstores, averaging 24,000 square feet, in medium-sized markets and three concept stores.

CEO and chairman John H. Marmaduke said that revenues at the multimedia retailer have been hurt "by the popularity of digital delivery, rental kiosks and subscription based services, as well as the longevity of the current video game console life-cycle." In addition, book sales had the biggest drop in Hastings's categories, falling on a comp-store basis 14.9%. This was attributable to "a relatively weak new release schedule" and a fall in trade paperback sales. Furthermore, "the decline in sales of the Fifty Shades trilogy, when compared to the second quarter of fiscal 2012, accounted for over half of our decline in book revenues."

To revive sales, Hastings has been introducing new product categories, including consumer electronics, music electronics and accessories, hobby, recreation and lifestyle, vinyl and tablets. Most of these products are part of the company's electronics categories, whose comp-store sales rose 17.2% in the quarter. Most of the other products are in the trends department, whose sales were up 10.7%. The movie and Hardback Café departments also had sales gains. Besides books, consumables, music and games all had sales drops.


Binc Foundation: Helping Booksellers #MoreThanEver Donation Campaign


Phoenix Books, San Francisco, for Sale

Phoenix Books, San Francisco, Calif., is for sale. Owner Kate Rosenberger, who owns three other bookstores in San Francisco--Dog Eared Books, Red Hill Books and Alley Cat--described the 1,500-square-foot store as "a Noe Valley cultural institution for nearly 30 years." The store stocks new, used and remaindered books, with a strong emphasis on children's titles and recent releases, along with cards and stationery, much of it created by local artisans. The store also hosts book clubs, reading series and a kids' story hour.

Located across from Whole Foods on the busiest stretch of 24th Street, Phoenix Books has a loyal following in the community, Rosenberger said. "We know a lot of our customers by name. They come to Phoenix Books not just to buy books, but to talk about them with their friends and neighbors."

The store is located in a classic San Francisco Victorian building and includes a full-size basement and the use of a large backyard.

Phoenix Books has four experienced, knowledgeable, and enthusiastic employees. "I only hire bibliophiles," Rosenberger said. "They must be real readers who appreciate both good writing and the book as a physical object. One of the reasons we've been able to thrive in the digital age is that we don't recommend books based on an algorithm like the online stores, but offer personalized customer service. The human element is key."

Rosenberger hopes to find a new owner who shares her "passion for good books and her love of Noe Valley." For more information, contact Rosenberger at phoenixbooks4sale@gmail.com.


Page Street Kids: Beneath the Haunting Sea by Joanna Meyer


Quebec Government Considers Book Price Regulation

The Parti Quebecois government "is floating a plan to regulate the price of books in order to save small bookstores," CTV News reported, adding that one scenario under consideration "would see all books in Quebec, whether sold in an independent store, online, in a large chain or as an e-book... sold for approximately the same price.... The province may propose a ban on new books being sold for more than a 10% discount." Culture Minister Maka Kotto is launching a parliamentary commission on the matter, with hearings to begin today.

The union of Quebec writers (UNEQ) supports regulation, contending that "smaller bookstores are 'guardians of diversity' that offer more than just bestsellers," CTV wrote, noting that the market share for indie booksellers in the province had dropped from 35% in 2006 to 28% in 2010.

Among those opposed to regulation is Vincent Geloso, who will testify at the commission Wednesday. An economics lecturer at HEC Montreal and associate researcher with the Montreal Economic Institute, Geloso told the National Post: "This one strikes me as one of the most insane policies we've ever discussed--ever.... Prices going up, people will consume less. If you look in other countries, if you hike prices by 1%, people reduce their consumption of books by more than 1%."

Pascal Chamaillard, president of the association of exclusive distributors of books in French (ADELF), disagreed. "Without regulation, the book trade in Quebec will eventually fall into the hands of an oligopoly consisting of three or four multinational companies."

Other supporters include the Booksellers Association of Quebec (AQL), the Union of Writers and a campaign by French-language book distributors called Nos Livres à Juste Prix (Our Books at a Fair Price).

Not all indie booksellers are on board, however. Guy Dubois, owner of La Maison Anglaise, Quebec City, called the move a Band-Aid solution: "Everyone will find a way around this. You cannot control what is happening on the Internet. You can buy books from anywhere in the world, so even if you put laws here, it won't stand."

The commission is expected to run until the end of September, when recommendations will be provided to Minister Kotto and a report presented to the Quebec National Assembly.


Amazon Opens Kentucky Customer Service Center

Amazon has opened its new 80,000-square-foot customer service support center in Winchester, Ky., "the first of its kind in the Bluegrass state, creating more than 550 full-time jobs and hundreds of seasonal jobs," LEX-18 reported. Last year, the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority offered $10.25 million in business incentives to an Amazon subsidiary, AMZN.wacs Inc., if it opened a $20 million support center in the town. The agency also approved a $250,000 economic development grant agreement for the project.

"It's an exciting day for Winchester, for Clark county, and really it's an exciting day for the entire Commonwealth of Kentucky," said Governor Steve Beshear. "The multi-million-dollar investment in Winchester will help Amazon provide customer service and technical support." The new facility makes Amazon the fifth largest employer in the state's industrial sector.

In a nod perhaps to criticism nationally and internationally in recent years of the company's working conditions, Amazon senior site leader Alex Krueger noted that the facility features "walking trails, a quiet room, a game room with Ping-Pong, pool and Xbox."


Bookless on the Vineyard: Presidential Indie Watch Ends

AP photo

Perhaps he ordered his beach reads from Amazon this year.

The First Family's summer vacation on Martha's Vineyard ended yesterday without the now traditional book-buying trip to Bunch of Grapes Bookstore. Whether that decision had anything to do with the widespread criticism President Obama received for his speech last month at an Amazon warehouse isn't known.

The Associated Press (via Philly.com) speculated Thursday that the late arrival of daughters Malia and Sasha from summer camp might have been a factor: "One sign of the daughters' absence was that Obama had yet to drop by the Bunch of Grapes Bookstore in Vineyard Haven, where he typically takes them on their full first day of vacation to pick up summer reading."

Bloomberg noted that the president "mostly limited his outings to restaurants and golf. He's so far forgone some of the traditional stops made by the family, including dropping in on the Bunch of Grapes Bookstore in Vineyard Haven to pick up summer reading as well as stops at local ice cream parlors."


Notes

Image of the Day: Reading at the Interurban

On Friday, Shelf Awareness took over the iconic Waiting for the Interurban statue in Seattle's Fremont neighborhood. Residents, commuters and visitors were welcome to take some of the hundreds of new fiction and nonfiction titles we placed at the location.

"We wanted to do something fun that promotes reading. One of our major focuses is helping people discover books," said Jenn Risko, publisher of Shelf Awareness. The books were ARCs, selected by Shelf Awareness's book review editor, Marilyn Dahl. "We hope by offering a wide variety of free books, anyone can find something they’ll enjoy. For us, that's the beauty of reading--discovering a new book or a new author," Dahl said.

photo: Maynard Garritty


What's the WORD? Jersey City Is 'Cool'

"The PATH train is like the train to Hogwarts," said Kip Jacobson in a Sunday New York Times piece headlined "New Yorkers Discover Jersey City." Mayor Steven Fulop is "looking to portray Jersey City as a cool place to be." 

Among the newcomers is Brooklyn's WORD bookstore, which plans to open a second location next month. Owner Christine Onorati said that a recent Chuck Klosterman event, which drew 250 people, was encouraging: "The neighborhood is so receptive. People who live there are so desperate for retail, because they love not having to leave Jersey City."


Cool Idea of the Day: Lopez Bookshop's Daily Lit Question

Two years ago, when sisters Linda Brower and Karen Barringer discovered that the bookstore on Lopez Island, Wash., was for sale, they took the leap to purchase it and to move there with their families.

Sisters/booksellers Karen Barringer (left) and Linda Brower.

Locals and tourists feared the Lopez Bookshop would close when veteran bookseller Phyllis Potter put it up for sale. Brower and Barringer credit Potter and the local library for nurturing the love of books in this small community in the San Juan archipelago. "We've had some wonderful and interesting discussions about writers, writing, and the value of books in our lives," Brower said. "It's so rewarding to know that our customers, whether children or adults, still appreciate books and how they open up a world of wonders."

Barringer, who previously owned a bookstore near Seattle, and Brower, a former elementary school educator, continued Potter's tradition of carrying books for all ages as well as featuring local authors. New programs include a Bonus Book Card, discounts for book groups and the addition of used books to the inventory. The biggest attention-getter, however, is the chalkboard beside the shop's front door that lists a literary question each day. "It's a great conversation starter," Barringer said, "and it's fun to see customers' excitement when they get a candy treat for answering the question correctly." Once inside the shop, another blackboard behind the counter offers inspiring words from authors.

Among recent questions:

Home of Mrs. Dashwood and her three daughters in Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility?

a. Chatsworth House
b. Barton Cottage
c. Thornfield Hall

In William Steig's book Amos & Boris, Amos is a                and Boris is a             ?

a. Bear, dog
b. Cat, turtle
c. Mouse, whale

"I'm an idealist. I don't know where I'm going, but I'm on my way."

a. Robert Frost
b. Langston Hughes
c. Carl Sandburg

--Iris Graville, an author and publisher who lives on Lopez Island



Media and Movies

Media Heat: Amanda Ripley on NPR's Diane Rehm Show

Today on NPR's Fresh Air: Scott Anderson, author of Lawrence in Arabia: War, Deceit, Imperial Folly and the Making of the Modern Middle East (Doubleday, $28.95, 9780385532921).

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Today on NPR's Diane Rehm Show: Amanda Ripley, author of The Smartest Kids in the World: And How They Got That Way (Simon & Schuster, $28, 9781451654424).

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Today on NPR's Marketplace: Boris Kachka, author of Hothouse: The Art of Survival and the Survival of Art at America's Most Celebrated Publishing House, Farrar, Straus, and Giroux (Simon & Schuster, $28, 9781451691894).

Also on Marketplace: David Ewalt, author of Of Dice and Men: The Story of Dungeons & Dragons and The People Who Play It (Scribner, $26, 9781451640502).

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Today on ABC Radio's John Batchelor Show: Daniel James Brown, author of The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics (Viking, $28.95, 9780670025817).

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Tonight on a repeat of Late Night with Jimmy Fallon: Buddy Guy, co-author of When I Left Home: My Story (Da Capo, $15.99, 9780306821790).

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Tomorrow morning on MSNBC's Morning Joe: Emily Oster, author of Expecting Better: Why the Conventional Pregnancy Wisdom Is Wrong--and What You Really Need to Know (Penguin Press, $26.95, 9781594204753).

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Tomorrow on NPR's All Things Considered: Lolis Eric Elie, author of Treme: Stories and Recipes from the Heart of New Orleans (Chronicle, $29.95, 9781452109695).

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Tomorrow on 700 Club: Ricky Skaggs, author of Kentucky Traveler: My Life in Music (It, $25.99, 9780061917332).


Books & Authors

Awards: NAIBA's Books of the Year

The New Atlantic Independent Booksellers Association's books of the year are:

Fiction: This Is How You Lose Her by Junot Diaz (Penguin)
Nonfiction: Far from the Tree: Parents, Children and the Search for Identity by Andrew Soloman (Scribner)
Children's Literature and YA: Every Day by David Levithan (Knopf)
Middle Readers: Secret of a Fortune Wookiee: An Origami Yoda Book by Tom Angleberger (Amulet)
Picture Book: Dragons Love Tacos by Adam Rubin (Dial)

The awards will be given out at a banquet in Somerset, N.J., on Tuesday, October 1, during NAIBA's fall conference.


Book Review

Review: Rivers

Rivers by Michael Farris Smith (Simon & Schuster, $25 hardcover, 9781451699425, September 10, 2013)

What if the devastation of Hurricane Katrina were not a one-time anomaly of ferocious weather, a crumbling infrastructure and an ineffective, incompetent national recovery response, but the first of endless waves of destructive coastal weather? What if the impact of climate change were not centuries away, but right now? Native Mississippian Michael Farris Smith (The Hands of Strangers: A Novella) considers these not so far-fetched scenarios in Rivers, a rain-soaked dystopian novel of an American Gulf Coast awash with broken bridges, pummeled buildings and lawless renegades scavenging the remains of casinos and suburbs for the currency of modern anarchy: gasoline, AWD trucks and guns.

If this sounds a lot like Cormac McCarthy's The Road, it is... but where McCarthy envisions a post-apocalyptic parched landscape with illusory salvation at the end of a journey to the sea, Smith's realistic landscape is full of water and wind where escape means traveling away from the sea. His survivors scrounge below The Line, a national emergency boundary 90 miles inland from the Gulf. A small band of them are reluctantly led by Cohen, a carpenter haunted by the death of his wife and unborn daughter in an earlier storm evacuation. Circumstances throw him in with a teenaged New Orleans Creole girl, a young father and his son, and various women escaped from a snake-handling zealot determined to repopulate the world with his offspring. With guns, a broke-down Jeep and a stash of $100 bills recovered from a buried casino vault, Cohen takes his rag-tag group through a gauntlet of relentless rain, washed-out highways and even-better-armed bandits.

The satisfaction of Rivers comes from Smith's finesse in creating a realistic thriller within the fiction genre of cataclysm. His scenes are as real as 24-hour Weather Channel videos. Cohen is a complex character who takes charge when he needs to while never forgetting his personal losses. He sees things as they are: "There was betrayal and hope and fear and love and hurt and yesterday and today and tomorrow twisting around in his head like a bed of snakes striking against one another for supremacy." Smith's creation of The Line is an inspired metaphor for a world divided between the haves and have nots. Above The Line is some semblance of law and order, our good old world of fast food and normal life. Below The Line, you're on your own. As Aggie, the snake-handling zealot says in a moment of clarity: "The Line is a problem for all of us.... It's the symbol of hate.... The Line don't do nothing but point fingers.... It tells us some people are alright. Some people ain't." A fitting symbol of Smith's cataclysmic future is a hunched-over old man wearing a sign that says THE END IS NEAR--"but NEAR had been crossed out, and written underneath was HERE and all the words were streaked." Storm-battered as Rivers is, its words are never streaked, but instead, clear as a ray of sunshine. --Bruce Jacobs

Shelf Talker: A debut novel about a Gulf Coast carpenter bearing his own burdens as he helps others bear theirs after a devastating climactic change.


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