Shelf Awareness for Thursday, November 21, 2013

Little Brown and Company: An Orchestra of Minorities by Chigozie Obioma

Random House: The Dreamers by Karen Thompson Walker

Sourcebooks Jabberwocky: The Complete Cookbook for Young Chefs by America's Test Kitchen Kids

Beacon Press: Receive an extra discount on Man's Search for Meaning by Victor E. Frankl

Shadow Mountain: Squint by Chad Morris and Shelly Brown

Nosy Crow: Sing a Song of Seasons: A Nature Poem for Each Day of the Year, illustrated by Frann Preston-Gannon, selected by Fiona Waters

Quirk Books: The Princess and the Fangirl (Once Upon a Con #2) by Ashley Poston


Angelou Shines at National Book Awards

A visibly moved Mary Szybist, accepting the National Book Award for Poetry for her collection Incarnadine (Graywolf) Wednesday night, quoted the late Paul Connolly's belief that "it's not arguing well, but speaking differently that changes a culture" and paid tribute to her fellow nominees for finding their own different ways of speaking. And yet, though "poetry is the place where speaking differently is the most prevalent," the same recognition might be granted to the evening's other three winners: George Packer's The Unwinding (FSG) for Nonfiction, Cynthia Kadohata's The Thing About Luck (Atheneum) for Young People's Literature, and James McBride's The Good Lord Bird (Riverhead) for Fiction.

L.-r.: NBA winners George Packer, Cynthia Kadohata, Mary Szybist, James McBride

In his remarks, McBride recalled a moment in the spring of 2004 when E.L. Doctorow--who earlier in the evening had received the National Book Foundation's Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters--spoke out against the war in Iraq during a commencement speech and was booed by the graduating students; to his regret, McBride told the audience, he did nothing. He then cited one of the key figures in his novel, the 19th-century radical abolitionist John Brown, as a "great American," and added: "E.L. Doctorow, Toni Morrison, Maya Angelou... they're our John Browns."

Angelou, accepting the Literarian Award for Outstanding Service to the American Literary Community, was the star of the evening. Morrison introduced her longtime "sister-friend" with enthusiastic praise: "Suffering energized and strengthened her, and her creative impulse struck like bolts of lightning." Then, from her wheelchair, Angelou dazzled the crowd. "When it looked like it wouldn't stop raining," she sang joyfully, "God put a rainbow in the clouds," then added, "You are the rainbow in my clouds." At times, she was overwhelmed by the recognition, reflecting it back upon the audience for their awareness that "easy reading is damn hard writing." Looking back over her career, Angelou recalled, "For over 40 years, I have tried to tell the truth as I understand it... I haven't tried to tell everything I know, but I've tried to tell the truth." And, one might add, she has over the years found several ways to speak it differently. --Ron Hogan

KidsBuzz for the Week of 09.24.18

Bookstore Sales Up 6.3% in September

September bookstore sales rose 6.3%, to $1.3 billion, compared to September 2012, according to preliminary estimates from the Census Bureau. For the year to date, bookstore sales have fallen 1.5%, to $10.1 billion. So far this year, sales improved in January and March over 2012, but until September, were down every other month, in part because of high sales a year earlier of the Hunger Games and Fifty Shades of Grey trilogies.

Total retail sales in September rose 3.3%, to $403 billion, compared to the same period a year ago. For the year to date, total retail sales have risen 4.2% to $3,744 billion.

Note: under Census Bureau definitions, the bookstore category consists of "establishments primarily engaged in retailing a general line of new books. These establishments may also sell stationery and related items, second-hand books, and magazines."

Binc Foundation: Carla Gray Memorial Scholarship for Emerging Bookstore-Activists

Chapters World's Biggest Bookstore to Close

Chapters World's Biggest Bookstore will close in February because the downtown Toronto site is being sold to Lifetime Developments. David Cole, owner of the property and son of the late Jack Cole--who founded Cole Books in 1980--told the Star "the story that his father was adamant that the site would always house a bookstore is an urban legend."

Hints that the the 64,000-square-foot bookstore might be on the endangered list appeared back in June 2012, when reports surfaced that Indigo might not renew its lease, though the company denied it at the time and said it was trying to work out a deal with the landlord.

"You have to look at your portfolio on an ongoing basis, and we have a very large store at the Eaton Centre," said Drew McGowen, v-p of real estate and development for Indigo Books & Music, citing the end of the lease and prospect of higher rent. "This isn't us in a mode of shutting down stores. We will be going back out in the market and looking for some net new stores."

Describing the World's Biggest Bookstore as "a brash, quirky retailer that for a long time anchored Toronto’s retail landscape," the Star wrote that Indigo "had been leasing the site for about $1.5 million a year, or $24 per square foot." Indigo said it will attempt to find positions for some, though probably not all, of the store's 43 staff members, "many of them long-serving and deeply knowledgeable about books," the Star noted.

"That's really sad, I can't believe it," said Ben McNally, owner of McNally Books on Bay St., adding that for all bookstores, "Our biggest problem is Amazon. My business is pretty good because so many bookstores are going out of business. And I work like a maniac."

Enlighten Up: Divine Dog Wisdom Cards: A 62 Card Deck and Guidebook by Barb Horn and Randy Crutcher, illustrated by Teresa Shishim

'Bookshop of the Future': Foyles Offers First Glimpse

Earlier this year, U.K. bookseller Foyles hosted workshops at its flagship bookstore on Charing Cross Road in London aimed at envisioning a "bookshop of the future" as it prepared for a move to new premises at the former home of Central Saint Martins College next spring.

On its blog yesterday, Foyles unveiled photos of "the refurbishments-in-progress, including 'enormous six-meter windows either side of the entrance,' previously used to exhibit art installations," the Bookseller reported, adding: "The photos have also revealed a 'breathtaking assembly hall' in the making, which will house the children's department and the company has promised that 'natural light will be in abundance thanks to rows of large windows.' "

A Foyles spokesperson told the Bookseller that "everything is on track" for the project to be completed on schedule.

University of Minnesota Press: Laurentian Divide by Sarah Stonich

Holiday Hum: Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Indies First

With just over a week until Thanksgiving, the first night of Hanukkah and the start of the 2013 holiday season, booksellers from around the country shared their expectations for the end of the year with Shelf Awareness:

Carol Spurling, owner of Bookpeople of Moscow in Moscow, Idaho, reflected on the effect on holiday shoppers of the unusual convergence of Hanukkah and Thanksgiving: "I think it will result in more frantic customers who suddenly discover that they are already behind… but overall I don't expect it to reduce the total sales. Frantic customers spend more on impulse than calm ones and are quick to take our advice about what to buy. We have had more customer requests for our holiday merchandise to be brought out, earlier than we expected. We try to hold off until after Halloween but had to get the Hanukkah things out way early, naturally, and some holiday books too for the people who are really on the ball."

John Evans, co-owner of DIESEL: A Bookstore in Oakland, Larkspur, Malibu and Brentwood, Calif., pointed out some year-over-year trends: "Each of our communities behaves differently and reacts differently to economic and social patterns. Brentwood has been steadily increasing every year; Malibu and Oakland have been flat the last few years; and Larkspur is brand new, so it will be interesting to see how it goes this first year! The economics of the surrounding community affect the mood, traffic patterns, and habits of our customers and these affect sales, sometimes unpredictably."

Robert Sindelar, owner of Third Place Books in Seattle, Wash., discussed what books he expects to be huge: "For quirky gift books, Humans of New York by Brandon Stanton (St. Martin's) and Hyberbole and a Half by Allie Brosh (Touchstone) have already been flying out the door. Those will both have legs for the holidays. I'm always interested in what books from earlier in the year will come back and be big for the holiday. For us, clearly The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown (Viking), which has continued selling well for us since its release, will spike again this December."

Valerie Koehler, owner of Blue Willow Bookshop in Houston, Texas, and her staff have plans to push a range of titles: "We are expecting to sell Smithsonian's History of America in 101 Objects by Richard Kurin (Penguin Press), A Reader's Book of Days by Tom Nissley (Norton) and Vanished: The Sixty-Year Search for the Missing Men of World War II by Wil S. Hylton (Riverhead). For fiction, we are all excited about Burial Rites by Hannah Kent (Little, Brown) and Longbourn by Jo Baker (Knopf). For our great kid selling, it's all about Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan (Dial) and Ghost Hawk by Susan Cooper (Margaret K. McElderry Books).

Rita Maggio, owner of BookTowne in Manasquan, N.J., has special holiday events planned: "Each year we have an evening just for our best customers--those who use frequent buyer cards. That night we welcome them, stay open late, have holiday toasts and savory delights. And offer them 20% off anything in store. For Small Business Saturday, we're opening early. We'll have certain items on sale, holiday treats available in store and music outside. It's a nice, very nice atmosphere."


In the few months since Sherman Alexie first implored authors to spend Small Business Saturday handselling at their local bookstores, the Indies First movement has grown to include more than 400 bookstores and more than 900 authors, according to figures just released by the American Booksellers Association.

Some 125 stores will have three or more authors handselling on November 30; as of November 19, Harvard Book Store in Cambridge, Mass., Malaprop's Bookstore in Asheville, N.C., and University Bookstore in Seattle, Wash., are in the lead for most authors participating.

Among the major authors taking part are Garth Stein, Daniel Handler, Jon Scieszka, Adam Johnson, T.C. Boyle, Cheryl Strayed, Wally Lamb, Dave Barry, Richard Russo, Laurie Halse Anderson, Ridley Pearson, Curtis Sittenfeld and, of course, Sherman Alexie.

The ABA reports that Indies First has even managed to spread overseas, with Venezia: City of Readers! (a collective of writers and independent bookstores in Venice, Italy) planning its own local authors handselling initiative for November 30. --Alex Mutter

Greystone Books: The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate--Discoveries from a Secret World by Peter Wohlleben, translated by Jane Billinghurst


Image of the Day: Cookies for a Cause at Chronicle

Chronicle Books' staff responded to the devastation caused by Typhoon Haiyan by holding a bake sale in the lobby store of the company's San Francisco Headquarters.

By selling cookies, cakes, brownies, empanadas and other homemade treats, the effort raised $1,526, which the company matched for a total donation to the Philippines Red Cross of $3,052.

Chronicle has held bake sale fundraisers in response to several recent natural disasters, including Hurricane Sandy in 2012 and the earthquake and tsunami that devastated Japan in 2011.

Position Wanted: Bookstore Cat Submits Résumé

"I am Dr. Lazarus Pinkbottoms, and I've been a shop cat for about 10 years. I'm writing today to inquire about working as your bookstore cat." That is the opening to a feline résumé featured in Cleveland Scene (and "translated" by author Dan Wilbur).

(Melville already has a job, at Battlefields & Beyond bookstore.)

Noting that his prospective employer currently runs "a nouveau chic bookstore," Dr. Pinkbottoms offers a few helpful "tips on how to make your store better," based on his 10 years' experience in the book trade. These include: "First, I've noticed your store is cleaner than the previous owner's shop and I'd gladly take the reigns as cat dander and dirt provider.... Second, the lighting: it's too bright.... Third, the books are ordered too rationally." Dr. Pinkbottoms is "ready to transform your store into veritable chaos."

John Waters's Gift Advice: Buy Books from Indies

In an entertaining piece on John Waters's annual Christmas party ("I never disinvite people, and every year I invite new people.... So for a couple hours, it's a little too crowded."), the Baltimore Sun magazine noted: "Books make the best gift, says Waters, whose North Baltimore home is lined with stacks of books. Some of his favorite shops are Atomic Books, the Hampden store where for years his mail has been delivered, Normals in Waverly and Royal Books on 25th Street."

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Clint Hill on PBS's Charlie Rose

Tomorrow on PBS's Charlie Rose: Clint Hill, author of Five Days in November (Gallery, $30, 9781476731490). He will also appear on CNN's Piers Morgan Live and CBS's Evening News with Scott Pelley.


Tomorrow on CBS's the Talk: Hill Harper, author of Letters to an Incarcerated Brother (Gotham, $27.50, 9781592407248).


Tomorrow on Katie: Oliver Stone, co-author of The Untold History of the United States (Gallery, $19.99, 9781451613520).


Tomorrow on the Laura Ingraham Show: Ira Stoll, author of JFK, Conservative (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $27, 9780547585987). Stoll will also appear on Glenn Beck and CNBC's Kudlow Report.


Tomorrow on CNN's Crossfire: Scott Walker, author of Unintimidated: A Governor's Story and a Nation's Challenge (Sentinel, $28.95, 9781595231079). He will also appear on the Lead and the Dennis Miller Show.

TV: Olive Kitteridge

Bill Murray has joined the cast of HBO's miniseries Olive Kitteridge, based on Elizabeth Strout's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, reported. The book, adapted by Jane Anderson and directed by Lisa Cholodenko (The Kids Are All Right), stars Frances McDormand in the title role, with Murray playing Jack Kennison. The cast also includes Richard Jenkins, John Gallagher Jr., Rosemarie DeWitt, Zoe Kazan, Jesse Plemons and Cory Michael Smith.

This Weekend on Book TV: Miami Book Fair International

Book TV airs on C-Span 2 this weekend from 8 a.m. Saturday to 8 a.m. Monday and focuses on political and historical books as well as the book industry. The following are highlights for this coming weekend. For more information, go to Book TV's website.

Saturday, November 23
10 a.m. BookTV offers live coverage from the 30th annual Miami Book Fair International on the campus of Miami Dade College. Coverage includes events from Chapman Hall as well as interviews and national viewer phone calls with several authors. (Re-airs Sunday at 12 a.m.)

7 p.m. Nile Gardiner, co-author (with Stephen Thompson) of Margaret Thatcher on Leadership: Lessons for American Conservatives Today (Regnery, $27.95 9781621571643).

8 p.m. Book TV presents the 64th annual National Book Awards ceremony, hosted by Mika Brzezinski in New York City.

10 p.m. Craig Shirley, author of Rendezvous with Destiny, interviews Larry Sabato, author of The Kennedy Half-Century: The Presidency, Assassination, and Lasting Legacy of John F. Kennedy (Bloomsbury USA, $30, 9781620402801). (Re-airs Sunday at 6:30 p.m. & 9 p.m., and December 1 at 11 a.m.)  

11 p.m. David Horowitz, author of The Black Book of the American Left: The Collected Conservative Writings of David Horowitz (Encounter Books, $27.99, 9781594036941).

Sunday, November 24
8 a.m. Elizabeth Varon, author of Appomattox: Victory, Defeat, and Freedom at the End of the Civil War (Oxford University Press, $27.95, 9780199751716).

10:30 a.m. BookTV's live coverage from the 30th annual Miami Book Fair International continues. (Re-airs Monday at 12 a.m.)

7:30 p.m. Ian Buruma, author of Year Zero: A History of 1945 (Penguin Press, $29.95, 9781594204364).

10 p.m. Alan Greenspan, author of The Map and the Territory: Risk, Human Nature, and the Future of Forecasting (Penguin, $36, 9781594204814).

11 p.m. Jessica Alexander, author of Chasing Chaos: My Decade In and Out of Humanitarian Aid (Broadway Books, $15, 9780770436919).

Books & Authors

Attainment: New Titles Out Next Week

Selected new titles appearing next Monday and Tuesday, November 25 and 26:

Cross My Heart by James Patterson (Little, Brown, $29, 9780316210911) continues the Alex Cross series.

The Supreme Macaroni Company: A Novel by Adriana Trigiani (Harper, $25.99, 9780062136589) follows a newly married shoemaker.

Book Review

Review: The Yellow Eyes of Crocodiles

The Yellow Eyes of Crocodiles by Katherine Pancol, trans. by William Rodarmor and Helen Dickinson (Penguin, $16 trade paper, 9780143121558, December 31, 2013)

Katherine Pancol is one of the best-known writers in France, with millions of copies of her books available in 30 languages. With The Yellow Eyes of Crocodiles, English-speaking readers will have a chance to enjoy her sly Gallic humor as they escape into an enjoyably readable novel.

Joséphine is a scholar of medieval history. Her snarky 14-year-old, Hortense, constantly remarks on her lackluster appearance, her "loser" clothes and her humorless approach to life, while younger daughter Zoé is sweet, loving and a bit of a baby.

Joséphine's husband, Antoine, has been fired from his job and has not been diligent about finding a new one. When Jo finds out Tonio has been seeing his manicurist for more than his nails, she kicks him out--but that leaves her vulnerable to what happens next.

Jo's older sister, Iris, has it all: beautiful home, successful husband, a perfect son, furs, jewels and unlimited cash. Yet she feels her husband, Philippe, drifting away from her. At a party, motivated by a desire to seem interesting and engaged in Philippe's eyes, she tells one of his influential friends, a publisher, she is writing a book set in the 12th century. He demands to see it. What to do?

Of course, she cajoles Jo to write the book for her, promising her all the money if she will allow Iris to be the "author" for public consumption. Against her better judgment, Jo agrees. The book is published, and wild acclaim follows.

There is a trip or two to Mustique in the company of a woman and her son who just might be related to royalty. Jo and Iris's mother, a first-rate harridan, has a likable husband who cheats on her with a young woman who presents him with a son. Can he finesse his wife out of the picture with enough money?

And Tonio? He's gone to Kenya with his mistress to start a crocodile farm, expecting to strike it rich by pleasing his Chinese bosses. However, things are not quite what they seem.

While there are several plot lines left hanging and not a lot of surprises, Pancol--or her translators--has such a readable style you can't stop turning the pages. --Valerie Ryan

Shelf Talker: An enjoyable tale of two sisters, one of whom writes a book while the other takes credit for it--plus a cast of thousands, each with a great story.

Deeper Understanding

Community Bookstore: Serving More Communities

Officially, Ezra Goldstein and Stephanie Valdez have owned the Community Bookstore in Brooklyn, N.Y., for just under two years. But they've been running the shop for closer to five, and in that time, they've managed to pull the 42-year-old bookstore from the proverbial fire.

In 2007, Goldstein recounted, the store was in bad shape; closure was a very real possibility until a group of "angel investors" in the store's Park Slope neighborhood stepped forward and offered to invest in the store. At around the same time, Valdez and Goldstein, both friends of Community Bookstore's previous owner, stepped in to run the store.

"They thought it was their moral duty to keep the store around," said Valdez, of the community members who invested in the bookshop. Most remain loyal customers, though some have since moved from the neighborhood. Their role, the owners assure, is very, very informal.

Neither Valdez nor Goldstein had experience running a bookstore, although Valdez had worked as a bookseller at Borders. Her other work experience included several retail jobs and a position at a finance startup; Goldstein, meanwhile, had worked for 25 years as a freelance writer. They joined Community Bookstore, they said, because it was their local bookstore and a "vital institution."

"We sort of see ourselves as stewards," Valdez said. Added Goldstein: "We came in to make sure the store was still here."

Community Bookstore has changed significantly since Valdez and Goldstein took the helm. Among their first challenges as owners was figuring out what to do with the menagerie; the previous owner had kept two dogs, two cats, a bearded dragon, a bunny and two turtles in the shop. It got so bad that a former staff member had joked that his real job was zookeeper. Eventually, the bunny was adopted, the bearded dragon was taken in by a local school and the two dogs went to previous owner's mother. Community Bookstore now has just one cat, along with two turtles that live in a pond in the store's back courtyard.

During their first year as owners, they put all money made back into inventory. As the inventory grew, sales increased proportionally. Valdez and Goldstein have seen steady growth over the past three years and, since they took over, sales have nearly doubled.

"The neighborhood was hungry for a serious bookstore," said Goldstein. "It's a community of readers and writers. It's not unusual for customers to ask about which translations we prefer for Swann's Way or The Master and Margarita. We had a big discussion the other week about The Iliad; customers chimed in and gave their recommendations. It shows what kind of community we have."

The pair spent all of 2012 renovating Community Bookstore. They overhauled the interior, buying new furniture, putting in new flooring, getting rid of a 20-year-old carpet, scrapping what was left of an old kitchen and cafe and installing new shelving. The plan for 2013 was simple: focus on selling books. Then Terrace Books came up.

Leonora Stein, the owner of Babbo's Books in nearby Windsor Terrace, approached Valdez and Goldstein for help with finding a buyer for her used bookstore. Valdez and Goldstein visited, initially with no intention of buying, but found a situation not dissimilar to what they'd seen at Community Bookstore before taking over.

"Things were sort of cluttered and disorganized," recalled Valdez, who had just moved to Windsor Terrace. "We thought we could fix it up and organize things. And we couldn't consciously let it close. Especially not a used bookstore; with so many new bookstores flourishing in the past few years, many old used stores have died out. We did not want to let another go down."

Valdez and Goldstein bought the 400-square-foot store earlier this year, renaming it Terrace Books. Valdez's boyfriend runs the shop day to day ("It's a small store--kind of a one person job," Valdez said), while Goldstein ferries books between the two stores via bicycle. She added: "Next year, hopefully, we can just spend time selling books."

Compared to Community Bookstore, Terrace Books hosts smaller, less frequent, neighborhood-centric events. Community Bookstore, on the other hand, hosts an average of about three events per week at various venues. Most events are held in store, but three or four times per month, Community Bookstore hosts large off site events as part of the Brooklyn by the Book reading series.

Events coordinator Michele Filgate, Community Bookstore co-owner Ezra Goldstein, Eleanor Catton, Community Bookstore co-owner Stephanie Valdez. photo: bookseller Allison Devers

On November 4, in her only U.S. appearance, this year's Booker Prize-winner Eleanor Catton read from her novel The Luminaries (Little, Brown) to a packed house at Community Bookstore. Dub Pies, a Manhattan bakery specializing in Australian- and New Zealand-style meat pies, provided food. Last month, the store hosted Diane Ravitch, author of Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America's Public Schools (Knopf) at Congregation Beth Elohim, a neighborhood synagogue. Ravitch drew close to 900 people, outdoing both Donna Tartt and Michael Chabon. Valdez said, laughing: "People joked that we drew every teacher in Brooklyn."

The store's biggest event ever was the 40th anniversary party, held in 2011. Some 1,200 people gathered at a nearby church to celebrate the milestone and hear several local authors (and regular customers), including Nicole Krauss, Paul Auster and Jonathan Safran Foer, read from their favorite books published in the last 40 years. "We'd never done a huge event like that," said Goldstein. "We were thrilled and shocked by the turnout."

This December, Goldstein and Valdez will have owned the store for two years. Given the frantic holiday selling season, though, they'll be too busy for a big anniversary party. Their tradition now is to open a bottle of champagne behind the counter, make a toast, and get back to selling books. --Alex Mutter

The Bestsellers

Top-Selling Self-Published Titles

The bestselling self-published books last week as compiled by

1. The Elf on the Shelf by Carol V. Aebersold and Chanda B. Bell
2. Shifter Romance Boxed Set by Various
3. Dangerous Attraction Boxed Set by Various
4. Billionaire Bad Boys of Romance by Various
5. Infinite Possibilities by Lisa Renee Jones
6. Jake Undone by Penelope Ward
7. All the Pretty Lies by M. Leighton
8. The Atlantis Gene: A Thriller by A.G. Riddle
9. Unraveled Box Set: Billionaires, Bikers and Bad Boys by Various
10. Karma by Nikki Sex

[Many thanks to!]

KidsBuzz: HarperCollins: Henry & Eva and the Castle on the Cliff by Andrea Portes
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