Shelf Awareness for Tuesday, August 20, 2013


Penguin Press: Autumn by Karl Ove Knausgaard

Carolrhoda Books: Camp So-And-So by Mary McCoy

Candlewick Press: Where's Waldo? 30th Anniversary Edition by Martin Handford

Berkley Books: Merely a Marriage by Jo Beverley

Margaret K. McElderry Books: Hey, Boy by Benjamin Strouse, illustrated by Jennifer Phelan

Counterpoint: The Widow Nash by Jamie Harrison

St. Martin's Press: Emma in the Night by Wendy Walker

News

B&N: Riggio 'Suspends' Purchase; Sales, Profits Down

The biggest news in Barnes & Noble's first-quarter report, issued this morning, is that chairman Len Riggio has "suspended" his attempt to buy the company's retail business, which was announced in February. In an amended SEC filing, Riggio stated: "While I reserve the right to pursue an offer in the future, I believe it is in the company's best interests to focus on the business at hand. Right now our priority should be to serve the more than 10 million customers who own Nook devices, to concentrate on building our retail business, and to accelerate the sale of Nook products in our stores, and in the marketplace."

In the quarter, ended July 27, consolidated revenue fell 8.5%, to $1.3 billion, and the consolidated net loss was $87 million, more than double the net loss of $39.8 million in the same period a year ago.

The net loss of $1.56 a share was 7 cents better than analysts' average estimates. The company's revenue also beat estimates. Still, in early trading, B&N stock was down more than 10%, likely because of the suspension of Riggio's effort to buy the retail division.

The company's retail operations, consisting of B&N superstores and B&N.com, had sales of $1 billion, down 9.9%, a decrease "attributable to a comparable store sales decrease of 9.1% for the quarter, store closures and lower online sales," B&N said. "First quarter comparable bookstore sales decreased, reflecting lower NOOK device unit volume and a title lineup last year that included unusually strong sales from the Hunger Games and Fifty Shades of Grey trilogies." Excluding Nook products, sales were down 7.2% at stores open at least a year. Excluding the two popular trilogies, comparable bookstore sales were down 2.9%.

B&N's college revenues rose 2.4%, to $226 million, reflecting new store growth. Sales at college stores open at least a year fell 1.2%, attributed to "the retail selling price of new or used textbooks when rented, rather than solely the rental fees received and amortized over the rental period."

Sales of Nook products, including digital content, fell 20.2%, to $153 million. Nook devices and accessories sales fell 23.1%, to $84 million, and digital content fell 15.8%, to $69 million. Excluding the Hunger Games and Fifty Shades of Grey, digital content sales were down 6.9%.

Echoing chairman Len Riggio, Michael P. Huseby, president of B&N Inc. and CEO of Nook Media, said that the company's "top priority in our operating strategy is to increase all categories of our content revenue. We are working on innovative ways to sell content to our existing customers and are exploring new markets we can serve successfully."


G.P. Putnam's Sons: Hum If You Don't Know the Words by Bianca Marais


B&N and S&S Settle Dispute

Yesterday Barnes & Noble and Simon & Schuster announced that they had settled the dispute that since the beginning of the year had limited the number of S&S titles stocked by B&N and cut S&S author appearances. In a short joint statement, the companies said only that they had settled their "outstanding business issues" and they "look forward to promoting great books by Simon & Schuster authors."

The Wall Street Journal described the issues as including "which of them would bear the burden of e-book discounting and in-store promotional costs."

B&N's brownout of S&S titles led to great consternation on the part of authors with titles appearing this year.


Phaidon Press: Generation Wealth by Lauren Greenfield


Porter Square Books Sold to Local Couple

Porter Square Books, Cambridge, Mass., which was put up for sale in March, has been sold to David Sandberg and Dina Mardell, who have lived in Cambridge since 1990 and met in a bookstore in the late 1980s. According to Boston Business Journal, Sandberg is an attorney who recently left a job at Google and has a background in literature, and Mardell has a background in education with a focus on early literacy. Both have been customers of Porter Square Books since its founding in 2004 and are involved in many local nonprofits, most relating to education or the arts.

With the change in ownership, former co-owner and personnel manager Jane Dawson is retiring, while two other co-owners, Carol Stoltz, who heads the children's department, and buyer Jane Jacobs, will stay on but plan to retire eventually. Former co-owner and manager Dale Szczeblowski is also staying on.

Sandberg said: "We are sorry Jane [Dawson] won't be with us for longer, but she has obviously earned a well-deserved retirement. In the weeks ahead we will learn as much from her as possible. Then we'll have the luxury of working with Carol, Jane Jacobs and Dale, as well as the rest of this amazing staff, for a long time to come. We have so much to learn from these talented and successful booksellers."

Stoltz said that the former owners believe the new owners will "support the store far into the future, which was our primary goal. Running a bookstore is not easy, and we will do everything we can to help them along."

Mardell told the Boston Business Journal that she and Sandberg want the transition to be "seamless" and are not planning any changes. A kickoff celebration is planned for October 13.

She also commented in general about the sale: "Every time we browse a good indie bookstore, I pick up a book I had never heard of. Sometimes it's the title, other times a recommendation of the staff. This is an experience that absolutely cannot be duplicated online. That's why we believe in independent bookstores and are so excited to build on the excellent foundation at Porter Square Books."


DC Comics: Mother Panic Vol. 1: Work in Progress (Young Animal) by Jody Houser. illustrated by Tommy Lee Edwards


Bookstore/Wine Bar Coming to Greensboro

Brian Lampkin, who "has worked in and operated bookstores his entire life, from Seattle to Buffalo," and business partner Greg Grieve plan to open Scuppernong Books in downtown Greensboro, N.C. this December, the Business Journal reported. The 3,200-square-foot first-floor bookshop at 304 S. Elm St. will also feature a coffee and wine bar "integrated in among the stacks, and the store will also have a community meeting space available."

The store name comes from the scuppernong grape, the North Carolina state fruit with origins dating back to the Lost Colony of Roanoke Island.

"What people were missing from the big stores, the Barnes & Nobles and the Borders, is the sense of place, that it belongs to them," Lampkin said. "We want people to feel that this belongs to their community, and that they belong here."


Sterling Children's Books: Mango Delight by Fracaswell Hyman, illustrated by Frank Morrison


Today Show Launching Monthly Book Club

This morning the Today Show is introducing a monthly book club whose first pick is The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon (Bloomsbury), the New York Times wrote, calling it "a happy development for a publishing industry frustrated by years of shrinking television time devoted to authors."

Today Show book club selections will be made every four to five weeks by show producers and co-hosts. Titles will include fiction and nonfiction, new releases and classics. Discussion groups and excerpts will be featured online.

"The show has been a home for authors over the years, but many of the books featured on air are typically books that relate to the news in some fashion," David Drake, deputy publisher of the Crown Publishing Group, told the Times. "A book club is going to give an opportunity for books that don't normally get exposure."

The book club is already boosting sales. Bloomsbury spokeswoman Sara Mercurio said that orders from retailers for The Bone Season roughly doubled when they were told the fantasy novel was the Today club's first selection.


Crooked Lane Books: Lies She Told by Cate Holahan


Overstock to Match Amazon Book Pricing 'Permanently'

Overstock.com, which launched a campaign for several weeks in July and early this month to undersell Amazon by 10% on the 360,000 book titles it carries, will match Amazon's prices on books permanently, the Wall Street Journal reported.

A firm hired by Overstock will check Amazon book prices daily. Overstock also will give 15% rebates (good for future purchases) on book purchases to members of its loyalty club.

In an ominous note, Overstock CEO Patrick Byrne told the paper: "We think with the rise in sales volume, we can extract better pricing from publishers [at wholesale]. Publishers do want to see more competition for Amazon."

Byrne added that the earlier anti-Amazon promotion cost Overstock $11,000 in daily revenue from books. That promotion led to discounts at both companies of as much as 60% on many current, bestselling titles.


Textbook Case: Amazon Rentals Can't Cross State Lines?

Students renting textbooks through Warehouse Deals, an Amazon subsidiary, "may be unknowingly agreeing to an unusual condition: They are not permitted to cross state borders with their books," Inside Higher Ed reported, citing a the Textbook Rental Terms and Conditions page on Amazon.com, which says: "You may not move the textbook out of the state to which it was originally shipped. If you wish to move the textbook out of that state, you must first purchase the textbook."

Noting that this could be "another reflection of the extreme lengths to which the company continues to go in order to avoid collecting state sales taxes," Inside Higher Ed questioned whether the rule was enforceable and asked: "But could Amazon's use restriction and other complicated rental conditions cause problems for students or lead potential textbook renters to take their business elsewhere?"

Officials from Chegg and Rafter, two major competitors in the online textbook market, "said their companies do not have any policy that prevents students from bringing rental books from one state to another," Inside Higher Ed noted.


Notes

Manga Artists Pay Tribute to Tokyo Publisher's Building

More than 20 manga artists from across Japan gathered recently to pay tribute with their art to a nine-story building that housed publisher Shogakukan for almost half a century in Tokyo. The Japan Daily Press reported that the structure "will soon be demolished to give way for a new and better earthquake-proof structure." The artists drew characters on the walls of what had come to be called "Oba-Q-building," from the hit manga Obake no Q-taro by Fujiko Fujio.

"Even those artists who knew each other only by name started to bond as they worked together on the drawings," said Naoko Yamauchi, an editor of Big Comic Spirits. "It was moving to see them show their artistic spirit," The new Shogakukan building will be completed by early 2016.


Cool Idea of the Day: Advance Access Book Club

"Would you love to discover the next new book that everyone is talking about?" asks Harleysville Books, Harleysville, Pa., to promote its Advance Access Book Club, which "introduces avid readers to books that are not yet on sale." Each month, the 10 club members will select an ARC to read, then meet to discuss the books read, share the new stories and offer reviews.

Advance Access Book club members "will not be able to keep the books they read during the book club," the bookstore cautions, but they "will receive exclusive coupons from Harleysville Books that may be used to purchase any of the books discussed during the program."


Personnel Changes at Simon & Schuster Children's Division

At Simon & Schuster's Children's Division:

  • Anna McKean has been promoted from publicity manager to associate director of publicity for Aladdin, Pulse, Beach Lane, Paula Wiseman and S&S Children's Novelty and Licensed Publishing. She was hired in 2008 as a senior publicist.
  • Katy Hershberger has joined the publicity department as an associate director of publicity for SSBFYR, McElderry and Atheneum. She was formerly director of publicity at Bloomsbury children's publicity department.
  • Jillian Vandall has joined the publicity department as an associate publicist for SSBFYR, McElderry and Atheneum. She was formerly a publicity assistant for Gallery Books and earlier worked for CBS News.

 



Media and Movies

Media Heat: Nate Anderson on Fresh Air

Today on NPR's Fresh Air: Nate Anderson, author of The Internet Police: How Crime Went Online, and the Cops Followed (Norton, $26.95, 9780393062984).

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Today on the Diane Rehm Show: Ruthann Robson, author of Dressing Constitutionally: Hierarchy, Sexuality, and Democracy from Our Hairstyles to Our Shoes (Cambridge University Press, $32.99, 9780521140041).

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Tomorrow on NPR's Diane Rehm Show, readers review The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark (Harper Perennial, $13.99, 9780061711299).

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Tomorrow on Katie: Judge Judy Sheindlin, author of What Would Judy Say?: A Grown-Up Guide to Living Together with Benefits (CreateSpace, $7.95, 9781483931678).

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Tomorrow on NPR's On Point: Congressman John Lewis, co-author of March Book One (Top Shelf Productions, $14.95, 9781603093002).

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Tomorrow on a repeat of Tavis Smiley: Carol Burnett, author of Carrie and Me: A Mother-Daughter Love Story (Simon & Schuster, $24.99, 9781476706412).

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Tomorrow on a repeat of the Dr. Oz Show: Andrew Weil, author of True Food: Seasonal, Sustainable, Simple, Pure (Little, Brown, $29.99, 9780316129411).

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Tomorrow on PBS's Newshour: Mark Leibovich, author of This Town: Two Parties and a Funeral-Plus, Plenty of Valet Parking!-in America's Gilded Capital (Blue Rider, $27.95, 9780399161308).

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Tomorrow night on a repeat of Conan: Jim Gaffigan, author of Dad Is Fat (Crown Archetype, $25, 9780385349055).


Werner Herzog: 'Only by Reading Can You Gain the World'

Film director Werner Herzog wants people to read more. In Switzerland for a retrospective of his works and to receive a lifetime achievement award at the Locarno Film Festival, Herzog told the Hollywood Reporter that "people cannot read.... If we look closely, no. Most are illiterates, even though they know how to combine letters and make phrases and so on. I say: Consuming the Internet, TV and even cinema makes you lose the world. Only by reading can you gain the world."


Books & Authors

Awards: Thurber Prize for American Humor; Toronto Book

Finalists have been named for the $5,000 Thurber Prize for American Humor, sponsored by the Thurber House and named for the legendary humorist and New Yorker contributor James Thurber. The winner will be announced September 30 in New York City.

The Thurber Prize shortlist:

  • Hope, A Tragedy by Shalom Auslander (Riverhead)  
  • Lunatics by Dave Barry and Alan Zweibel (Putnam)  
  • Dan Gets a Mini-Van by Dan Zevin (Scribner)


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Finalists have been named for the $15,000 Toronto Book Awards, which honor books of "literary or artistic merit that are evocative of Toronto." The winner will be announced October 9, Quillblog reported. This year's shortlisted titles are:

  • Intolerable: A Memoir of Extremes by Kamal Al-Solaylee
  • Full Frontal T.O. by Shawn Micallef (text) and Pattrick Cummins (photographs)
  • Viewing Tom Thomson, A Minority Report by Kevin Irie
  • Giant by Aga Maksimowska
  • Everybody Has Everything by Katrina Onstad

Book Review

Review: Claire of the Sea Light

Claire of the Sea Light by Edwidge Danticat (Knopf, $25.95 hardcover, 9780307271792, August 27, 2013)

Edwidge Danticat's Claire of the Sea Light, which began as a short story in the 2010 anthology Haiti Noir, succeeds magnificently as a novel, a love letter to Haiti and an exceptionally clear-eyed look at its sorrows and failures. It builds on themes and structure from previous works such as Krik? Krak! but always feels fresh and vivid.

At the novel's heart is Claire Limyè Lanmè, a child raised in the impoverished town of Villa Rose by her father, Nozias, an illiterate fisherman, after her mother died in childbirth. It is the morning of her seventh birthday. Nozias has often wondered whether he should give Claire away, unable to imagine providing a future for her. He has asked Gaëlle Cadet Lavaud, who had been kind to his wife and who has lost her own husband and daughter, to take the child. Gaëlle has refused in the past; today, as the village men comb the beach in search of a fisherman lost at sea, she agrees--but then Claire disappears.

The novel unspools from here, looping back through each of Claire's previous birthdays to tell the story of someone who died that day and who they left behind, however close or unsubstantial their connection to Claire and Nozias. Characters on the periphery of one story take center stage later with a story of their own, where Claire briefly appears. With this indirect, looping and overlapping approach, we begin to piece together what happened both over the course of a single day and through the years. In this way, Danticat shows how the past infuses the present, how lives overlap, unknowable but essential.

Danticat combines an indirect style with asides, Creole vernacular and a vivid portrayal of a beautiful but haunted place, giving her narrative a mythic feel. She seems aware that she is writing for both a Haitian and general audience, weaving in explanatory context alongside Creole fragments. The people in Claire of the Sea Light react to Haiti's corruption and its history of violence with fatalist acceptance, angry resistance or opportunism; the nation's troubled history casts as much of a shadow over the novel as Claire's disappearance. We mourn each death that occurs on Claire's birthday--as Danticat reminds us, despair and hope are inseparable. Sometimes, as is the case with the story of Bernard Dorien, the narrative seems laced with rage at the blind eyes of violence and of justice.

This is a stunning, complex and compassionate novel, and ultimately a hopeful one. --Jeanette Zwart

Shelf Talker: A dazzling, evanescent and intricate novel from Danticat, a National Book Award finalist several times over and author of the Oprah Book Club selection Breath, Eyes, Memory.


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