Shelf Awareness for Friday, September 6, 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

General Retail Sales in August: 'Slightly Below Expectations'

August sales "came in slightly below expectations, which had been lowered in recent weeks thanks to a number of downbeat forecasts," the Wall Street Journal reported. For the month, Thomson Reuters said that sales at stores open at least a year increased 2.9%, compared to analysts' expectations for a 3.2% gain and 6.5% growth a year ago.

"Those retailers are facing several challenges as they move into the end of the back-to-school season and start to rev up for the all-important holiday period," the Journal wrote. "Mall traffic remains weak, promotional activity is still high, and apparel retailers in particular are facing difficult comparisons following last year's strong back-to-school season."


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


For Sale: Giovanni's Room in Philadelphia

photo: Scott A. Drake

Ed Hermance, owner of Giovanni's Room, plans to retire this winter after 37 years, "leaving both the nation's oldest LGBT bookstore and its building up for sale," Philadelphia Gay News reported, adding that he "is exploring options for keeping the business running under a new owner, but will have to sell to a different buyer if there is not sufficient support for continuing Giovanni's Room."

"I know it's possible for independent bookstores to thrive in the current environment," he said. "I don't know if someone has the resources and the passion to continue the store. If someone wanted to rent the space for a different kind of bookstore and no one wanted to continue Giovanni's Room, I'd be pleased to rent it to them, thinking that it would be in their interest to help all the people who have depended on us."

Hermance, who is handling the sale, added: "If a new owner is interested in buying the business but not the buildings, they could rent from me and move it to some place cheaper. Or, they could buy the business and the buildings. If somebody could do that, it might be the smart thing. The neighborhood is booming."

He also noted that whatever happens, the "value of the buildings, whether I am renting or selling them, is going to the Delaware Valley Legacy Fund. I feel like I would like them to have it. This property was bought and paid for by the LGBT community so it is important for me for that to give back to the community."


Trinity University Press: Arte Kids - Bilingual Board Books


ABA Children's Institute Set for April

The American Booksellers Association will present its second Children's Institute, hosted by the ABC Children's Group at ABA, April 7, 2014 in San Antonio, Tex. Open to ABC Group member booksellers, the one-day education program will precede the Texas Library Association's annual conference, Bookselling This Week reported, noting that the ABC Group "is working with TLA to find opportunities for collaboration."

The Children's Institute will feature an opening plenary, closing reception, children's rep picks luncheon, roundtables and educational programming, including sessions on:

  • Selling Picture Books in the Wake of Age Compression
  • How to Address Censorship in Schools
  • Diversity in Children's Literature
  • The Law of Attraction: How to Entice Publicists and Authors
  • Child Development & Literacy
  • How to Host a Successful Teacher Night

Thomas Nelson: Perennials by Julie Cantrell


B&N Princeton Marketfair Grand Opening Set

Barnes & Noble will complete its move from one end of the Marketfair mall in Princeton , N.J., to the other on September 18, when it plans to celebrate the grand opening of its new location, the Times of Trenton reported, adding that the new B&N "will be smaller than the current one and features a redesigned entrance."


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


Sourcebooks, Wattpad Partner for YA Fiction Writers

Publisher Sourcebooks and Wattpad, an online community for discovering and sharing stories, are partnering to create new opportunities across multiple publishing platforms for Wattpad writers and Sourcebooks authors.

Through the new partnership, Sourcebooks will edit and produce select Wattpad-branded editions of YA stories in print and e-book platforms under the Sourcebooks Fire imprint. Sourcebooks will also be a presenting prize sponsor for Wattpad's 2013 Watty Awards, which showcase the community's most popular content as voted by Wattpad's YA readers. In addition, several Sourcebooks writers, including CJ Lyons, Miranda Kenneally, Janet Gurtler and Zoraida Cordova, will make new stories available for free and engage with readers on Wattpad as part of their social media marketing strategies.


National Book Foundation Honoring Doctorow, Angelou

Doctorow photo: Francesca Magnani;
Angelou photo: Dwight Carter

The National Book Foundation is awarding its 2013 Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters to E.L. Doctorow and its 2013 Literarian Award for Outstanding Service to the American Literary Community to Dr. Maya Angelou. The awards will be presented during the National Book Awards Ceremony and Benefit Dinner Wednesday, November 20, in New York City.

Foundation executive director Harold Augenbraum called Doctorow "a master of historical fiction who has brought the events of the past to people all over the world in an extraordinary fashion. It is also a special opportunity to give tribute to a native New Yorker in his hometown." He added that Angelou's "body of work transcends the words on the page. She has been on the front lines of history and the fight for social justice and decade after decade remains a symbol of the redemptive power of literature in the contemporary world."


Notes

Literati Bookstore: 'We're So Lucky to Be Here'

photo by Doug Coombe

It's been an eventful year for Hilary and Michael Gustafson, who opened Literati Bookstore, Ann Arbor, Mich., in April and were married in June. The Michigan Daily checked in with the bookstore's owners and in an extensive interview introduced them to the newly arrived U. Michigan student body, many of whom could soon become loyal customers. Some highlights from the interview:

Hilary: "I have to remind myself that we're so lucky to be here and to be embraced by the community.... So just putting things in perspective as much as I can. It's so easy to get wound up in the everyday and get freaked out by all the deadlines and papers and bills. You gotta take a moment to just say, 'this is a really cool thing.' "

Michael: "Borders number one was 41,000 square feet. We are 2,600, which is just a fraction. So we hope that downtown Ann Arbor can support that."

Hilary: "We can't beat Borders, but at the same time, people talk to each other about what excites them, and I think the things that people get excited about will grow here, and we'll expand, and things'll grow."

Hilary: "Strangers coming together around books is exactly why we wanted to be here. To see it happen so immediately has been wonderful."

Michael: "In a perfect world, our profits would increase and we would buy this building.... In a perfect world we would live nearby and walk to the bookstore. And we would be here all day, and we would have full time employees. Oh yeah, this is the dream."


Pennie Picks Outside the Lines

Pennie Clark Ianniciello, Costco's book buyer, has chosen Outside the Lines by Amy Hatvany (Washington Square Press, $15, 9781451640540) as her pick of the month for August. In Costco Connection, which goes to many of the warehouse club's members, she wrote:

"Lately I've given some thought to the books I like and why. I realize that I'm drawn to family dramas. I didn't grow up in a troubled family, but most of us know--or can imagine--what it's like to have family members who can range from quirky to downright challenging. One author who successfully pulls readers into the family situations she creates is Amy Hatvany, author of Outside the Lines.

"After a failed suicide attempt, Eden's father leaves his family and communicates with his daughter only occasionally. When Eden decides to find him, her search leads her to wonder whether he wants to be found at all.

"This novel expresses beautifully what anyone who belongs to a family knows: There is a freedom and strength in making peace with the past."


Hector Martinez Joining Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Effective next Monday, Hector Martinez is joining Little, Brown Books for Young Readers as children's national account manager. He was formerly purchasing account rep for Follett Educational Services.


Media and Movies

Media Heat: A. Scott Berg on CBS Sunday Morning

Tomorrow morning on Weekend Today: Lori Duron, author of Raising My Rainbow: Adventures in Raising a Fabulous, Gender Creative Son (Broadway, $15, 9780770437725).

Also on Weekend Today: Amanda Lindhout, co-author of A House in the Sky: A Memoir (Scribner, $27, 9781451645606).

---

Sunday on CBS Sunday Morning: A. Scott Berg, author of Wilson (Putnam, $40, 9780399159213).


TV: Sherlock Season 3 Teaser

"Everyone should look at this footage from the new Sherlock," Buzzfeed advised, noting that aside from a short teaser released earlier this month, BBC One's "Original British Drama 2013: Trailer" is the "first the world has seen of series three. It doesn’t give much away, but we see Sherlock confronting John Watson after his return from the 'grave.' It also features Peter Capaldi," who will be the next Dr. Who. Other BBC shows highlighted in the trailer are Great Train Robbery, Quirke, What Remains, Ripper Street, By Any Means and Escape Artist. Stay tuned.



Books & Authors

Awards: Queensland Literary; Franklin Digital; BISG

Women authors dominated Australia's Queensland Literary Awards, winning 10 of the 11 categories, the Sydney Morning Herald reported, adding that the new prizes "replaced the Premier's Literary Awards in 2012, after the latter were cut by the Newman government." The complete list of winners is available here.

"Women's writing has always struggled to get the same coverage as men, to get the same space in review pages in newspapers," said Kristina Olsson, whose book Boy, Lost won the nonfiction category. "I think it's just people opening their eyes and realizing what we're doing, which is lots of good stuff."

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The newest winners of the Benjamin Franklin Digital Awards, sponsored by the Independent Book Publishers Association, are:

E-Books
Gold: Tony Northrup's DSLR Book: How to Create Stunning Digital Photography by Tony Northrup (Mason Press)
Silver: Betty White: The First 90 Years by Andrew E. Stoner (Blue River Press)
You Should Only Have to Get Rich Once: For Entrepreneurs by Russell E. Holcombe (Holcombe Financial)

Enhanced E-Books
Gold: Great Impressionist and Post-Impressionist Paintings: The Musée d'Orsay by Charles F. Stuckey (Artepublishing)
Silver: Tailwinds: Adventures of a Young Aviator by Dan Poynter (Para Publishing)
Twas the Night Before Christmas by Clement C. Moore (Grafton and Scratch Publishers)
The Startup Owner's Manual: The Step-by-Step Guide to Building a Great Company by Steve Blank and Bob Dorf (K & S Ranch)

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The Book Industry Study Group has announced a winner and shortlists for its first annual BISG Industry Awards, which will be presented at BISG's annual meeting September 27 in New York City.

Wendell Lotz, v-p, metadata, Ingram Book Group, has won the lifetime achievement award.

Friend of the Industry shortlist:

Tom Clarkson, distribution standards consultant, Cumberland Systems Review Group
Phil Madans, director of publishing standards and best practices, Hachette Book Group USA
Mike Shatzkin, founder and CEO, The Idea Logical Company
Fran Toolan, founder and "chief igniter," Firebrand Technologies

Industry Innovation Award shortlist:

BookNet Canada
Daisy Consortium
Edelweiss (Above the Treeline)
Kobo

The Valuable Committee Participant Award shortlist:

Dave Cramer, content workflow specialist, Hachette Book Group (Content Structure Committee)
Michael Olenick, business analyst, RR Bowker (Subject Codes Committee)
Tom Richardson, bibliographic manager, BookNet Canada (Metadata Committee)
Laurie Stark, v-p, publishing operations support, Penguin Random House (Identification Committee)

The shortlist for the Disruptor Award, recognizing "an individual and/or organization who fundamentally challenges what publishing is, and what it could be":

Mark Coker, founder, CEO and chief author advocate, Smashwords
Liza Daly, v-p, engineering, Safari Books Online
Allen Lau, CEO and co-founder, Wattpad
Dominique Raccah, publisher and CEO, Sourcebooks


IndieBound: Other Indie Favorites

From last week's Indie bestseller lists, available at IndieBound.org, here are the recommended titles, which are also Indie Next Great Reads:

Hardcovers
Babayaga: A Novel by Toby Barlow (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $27, 9780374107871). "Moving from ancient Russia to the dawn of the New World, stretching into an endless future, but mainly rushing madly around postwar Paris, Babayaga covers a lot of ground. Vengeful witches hunt, charm, and wage battle. Evil scientists hatch sinister plans. A dashing spy runs a crew of outcast mercenaries. A good-hearted police inspector stays on his case, even in the form of a flea! And hapless Will, ad man/CIA informant, is caught in the whirlwind, which just might be the best thing that's ever happened to him. Babayaga crackles with an electric energy driven by its hilariously inventive plot, clever prose, and outrageously eccentric cast of characters." --Sarah Hinckley, Hudson Booksellers, Marietta, Ga.

Shot All to Hell by Mark Lee Gardner (Morrow, $27.99, 9780061989476). "Gardner's Shot All to Hell is the riveting tale of the Old West's most brazen crime. Over 130 years have passed since the death of Jesse James, yet we remain fascinated by this enigmatic outlaw and his gang. By 1876, the James-Younger gang was both feared and famous. The gang's decision to rob the First National Bank in Northfield, Minnesota, would prove to be a disaster when the citizens rose up to defend their town. Gardner's account of the crime and its aftermath is thorough and enthralling, and his recreation of the robbery and the shootout that followed a two-week manhunt is edge-of-your-seat exciting. Gardner's passion for his subject and his vivid writing combine to make this the definitive book on the infamous crime." --Christopher Rose, Andover Bookstore, Andover, Mass.

Paperback
Ghostman: A Novel by Roger Hobbs (Vintage, $14.95, 9780307950499). "Jack, both brilliant and cunning, has made it to the top of the gangster ranks. Extremely wealthy, equipped with the most modern technological tools and constantly changing addresses and even his physical appearance, Jack is like a living ghost. Only a happy few know how to contact him. An old partner in crime to whom he is indebted calls on Jack to clean up the mess from a seemingly well-organized heist gone bad. Not trusting his former partner, hunted by an extremely dangerous mobster, and chased by the FBI, Jack needs all of his tricks to keep his ghost-like existence intact. Smart and captivating from beginning to end, a stellar debut!" -- Jean-Paul Adriaansen, Water Street Books, Exeter, N.H.

For Ages 9 to 12
An Army of Frogs: A Kulipari Novel by Trevor Pryce, illustrated by Sanford Greene (Amulet, $15.95, 9781419701726). "In this action-packed animal fantasy, an evil spider queen joins forces with the duplicitous leader of an army of scorpions to pierce the veil protecting the Amphibilands from the outside world. Darel, a young frog who dreams of being a great warrior, and his best friend, Gee, who has no such aspirations, discover the planned invasion. Before the frogs can sound the alert, Gee is captured by scorpion scouts. Should Darel try to save his friend or run for reinforcements?" --Ellen Klein, Hooray for Books!, Alexandria, Va.

[Many thanks to IndieBound and the ABA!]


Book Brahmin: Yona Zeldis McDonough

photo by Keith Price

Yona Zeldis McDonough is Brooklyn bred (though not born) and after studying at Vassar College and several years in Manhattan, she returned to Brooklyn (this time Park Slope), where she has lived with her husband, two children and a passel of small, yappy dogs for the last 20 years. She is the author of many children's books and five adult novels; the most recent, Two of a Kind (published this week by NAL), is set largely in her home borough. It's a second-chance-at-love story and also an interfaith romance story; one of the characters is Christian and the other Jewish. She has thought about that issue a lot, especially since she made one of those marriages herself. What do you keep? What can you give up? What about the kids?

On your nightstand now:

I'm a serial reader, with a handful of books open and waiting at any one time. I flit in and out of them like a drunken bee in a garden. Right now, I'm reading A Rose in the Heart (Edna O'Brien), What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank (Nathan Englander), My Antonia (Willa Cather), Tender Is the Night (F. Scott Fitzgerald) and The Mermaid Collector (Erika Marks). I hope to finish them all soon.

Favorite book when you were a child:

Only one? Not fair! In no particular order, my childhood faves were Anne of Green Gables (L.M. Montgomery), Understood Betsy (Dorothy Canfield Fisher), Ballet Shoes (Noel Streatfeild), A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (Betty Smith), A Little Princess (Frances Hodgson Burnett). I read all of these multiple times.

Your top five authors:

Three are named William: Blake, Shakespeare and Yeats. To these I would add Flannery O'Connor and Colette.

Book you've faked reading:

I read the first 200 pages of Marcel Proust's In Search of Lost Time and had to put it down. I found it airless to the point of suffocation and could not continue. I never claimed to have finished it but then again, I've never admitted that I have not. An older friend told me that no under the age of 60 could truly appreciate Proust. So maybe my time has not yet come.

Book you're an evangelist for:

The Bird Catcher by Laura Jacobs--a lush, gorgeously written book filled with the most stunning description of the artistic process I've ever read.

Book you've bought for the cover:

A copy of The Phantom Rickshaw and Other Ghost Stories by Rudyard Kipling that was published in 1898. The cover is a beautiful pumpkin color with embossed golden vines and red and white flowers.

Book that changed your life:

John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men. I first read this when I was about 11, and when I finished it, I burst into the most scalding tears I had ever cried over something that had not happened to me. Reading that novel taught me that literature had that power, and I have been seeking it--as both reader and writer--ever since.

Favorite lines from a book:

"I am thinking of aurochs and angels, the secret of durable pigments, prophetic sonnets, the refuge of art. And this is the only immortality you and I may share, my Lolita." --From Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov.

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

I was spellbound by the manic, propulsive energy in T.C. Boyle's Greasy Lake and Other Stories, and I would so love to experience that wild ride afresh.


Book Review

Review: The Dead Run

The Dead Run by Adam Mansbach (Harper Voyager, $25.99 hardcover, 9780062199652, September 24, 2013)

With a refreshing twist on Spanglish-laced Mexican-American border noir, Adam Mansbach's The Dead Run is peppered with Nahuatl names and Aztec mythology. His borderlands are crawling with crooked cops, religious fanatics, drug runners and rogue motorcycle gangs, but their lives aren't driven by the latest Zeta cartel atrocity so much as the god Tezcatlipoca's plan to unleash a "Virgin Army" and reclaim the continent from the Christian invaders and their upside down religion, where God died for man instead of the other way around.

The plot kicks off with an eerie meeting between American border smuggler Jesse Galvan and El Cucuy, a much feared and mysterious 500-year-old Aztec priest. They meet in the secret tunnels underneath Ojos Negros Prison where Galvan is serving time for a barroom bust on the wrong side of the border. Cucuy springs him and three lowlife fellow prisoners to shepherd a package across the border to Cucuy's son Aaron Seth, who runs a sham religious commune on the Texas side of the river. Not until too late does Galvan look inside and find the beating heart of a virgin. Aztec prophecy maintains the high priest can pass on his powers only to a son who ingests the living heart of a pure woman delivered by a Righteous Messenger. Galvan's got the heart to be the messenger--and if he doesn't deliver, Cucuy's son will kill Galvan's estranged daughter, Sherry, and consume her heart. Tough spot, no?

Galvan is a crude but big-hearted hero pushed into cross-border muling to pay the lawyer in a custody battle with his delusional born-again ex-wife over Sherry. He doesn't understand the bizarre Aztec mythology and has only a vague idea of what happens "if this Aaron Seth peckerwood eats his Happy Meal and turns into a god," but he knows evil when he sees it and loves his daughter--and that's enough.

Mansbach splashed a cannonball into the bestseller pool with his surprise Go the F**k to Sleep, and The Dead Run is equally irreverent and entertaining. It's a wild high-speed ride across centuries and cultures, over water and sand, through the mystical supernatural and the very real "missing women of Juarez" that, eventually, comes to an ambivalent happy ending. --Bruce Jacobs

Shelf Talker: Mansbach's second novel of 2013 (after Rage Is Back) is a high-speed thriller that draws upon border noir and Aztec mythology.


Deeper Understanding

Robert Gray: Synergy 'Creates a Special Sense of Place'

Whether the challenge is increasing sidelines inventory, adding on a complementary business or even opening a sister (or brother, your choice) store in another location, indie booksellers are always exploring ways to increase margins without sacrificing integrity.

Mark Kaufman and Donna Paz Kaufman run the Bookstore Training and Consulting Group of Paz & Associates. When Mark responded to a recent column, it sparked my curiosity regarding what prospective booksellers might understand about nonbook merchandising possibilities as they consider entering the book trade.

"Before we even read your piece in today's issue of Shelf Awareness, Donna and I were talking over breakfast about how interesting it might be to create a little side-business suggesting appropriate nonbook items that stores could merchandise alongside the book," Mark wrote. "It distresses us no end to hear some booksellers insist that they don't want to sell 'all that crap,' mostly because if you were just to depend on the slim margins available from selling books alone, you'd likely not last very long in business. What we embrace (and teach at our workshops) is that there are plenty of opportunities to offer customers a more interesting selection--and make more money at the same time--without having to add an entirely new business to the bookstore."

Long ago and far away (1993 at the ABA trade show in Miami), I attended one of Donna's workshops during Bookseller School. I wondered how much her advice about nonbook inventory for indie booksellers had changed since then.

"Even 20 years ago, there was room to launch a bookstore and financially do well without constant worry about cash flow," she recalled. "Retail bookselling today is more of a challenge, requires more creativity and demands many more skills than it used to. We encourage people to consider ways they'll be unique and how they'll become the 'go-to' place in their community for people who love to read. Why not add a little extra to bump up the average sale, especially when you see customers laugh and have a good time finding things in your store? Each combination will be unique, and there is a wide range of general merchandise categories, services, learning opportunities, and food and beverages to help create that special store."

She cited one of her favorite retail stores in Savannah, One Fish, Two Fish, "with a delicious selection of beautiful art, home decor, books, kitchen items, jewelry. You could buy a beautiful set of sheets there and you can find a collection of poetry and cookbooks displayed so you just have to go look (then buy). I just love it. What kind of store is it? It doesn't matter. It's the same with the fabulously successful Anthropologie stores. It's the synergy that creates a special sense of place."

As far as prospective booksellers are concerned, "everyone who comes to our training usually considers themselves readers and most have acknowledged a lifelong dream of owning a bookstore, but in years I haven't seen anyone who spoke of any concerns about carrying general merchandise (a term I prefer since 'sidelines' marginalizes the importance of other items)," she said. "When trainees learn the financial dynamics of a bookstore, it's crystal clear how valuable higher-margin merchandise is to the bottom line. To some, I think that's a real eye-opener. As trainers, we think it's the perfect prompt to help them think more creatively about what's in the store's selection that will appeal to people who like to read."

Noting that her early experience as a bookseller at Davis-Kidd "was a good place for me to learn about the importance of keeping an open mind," Donna observed that small stores of all types "have been hard pressed to compete in today's retail world, which is why we believe it makes sense to morph into more of a general store. 'The Merc' (Mercantile) has been a favorite place of mine in Ann Arbor and it's so much fun to visit because you never know what you'll find. On Amelia Island, we have lost our quality indie toy store, Hallmark store and wine bar and there's no shortage of artful items made by local artisans who are always looking for a place to show their items. While many specialty stores cannot survive on their own, a combination of merchandise can help a bookstore become an even stronger destination."

She added that when the big box chains "are selling cheap, imported goods, many hunger for unique, handmade, locally crafted, quality items. Booksellers don't have to sell out or feel compromised. It's smart retailing to keep the selection fresh and exciting, filling niches and seizing opportunities. It's time we focus on serving our target markets (people) instead of being focused purely on our product (books). We are so fortunate to have target markets that value education, have disposable income and understand the importance of local business to sustainable communities. We should be obsessed with catering to their intellectual, spiritual and aspirational needs. A dynamic and lively selection will help us remain interesting, relevant and profitable."

Her conclusion: "I think we're in an era where we are transcending categories and that is a very good thing for all retailers, especially indies." --Robert Gray, contributing editor


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