Also published on this date: Wednesday, January 15, 2014: Maximum Shelf: The Weight of Blood

Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, January 15, 2014


Penguin Press: Astral Weeks: A Secret History of 1968 by Ryan H. Walsh

Scribner Book Company: The Wolves of Winter by Tyrell Johnson

St. Martin's Press: After Anna by Lisa Scottoline

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

Quotation of the Day

Customer Service: 'Respect, Concentration & Inspiration'

"The founding principle of our business has been to help our customers personally to secure whatever books they want, whether in print or out-of-print, whether they remember the titles and authors or have only a vague hunch about them, or whether they simply are searching for something to read that they will enjoy. The members of our staff are widely knowledgeable about books, of course, but their success results from matching this knowledge to the often undefined wishes of the customers. Acts of clairvoyance must occur regularly for us to be successful! We believe our skill at stocking really good books in our limited space also makes it fun for customers who want to browse by themselves. They don't have to sort through stacks of publishers' promotional materials to find an interesting book. Customer service is the 'extra' we offer. It means focusing respect, concentration, and inspiration on every single customer--in person, on the phone, on the Internet or in our newsletters."

--John Doyle, co-owner of Crawford Doyle Booksellers in New York City, in an interview with OpEdNews

GLOW: Grove Atlantic: The Mercy Seat by Elizabeth H. Winthrop


News

Digital Book World 2014: Concentration, Diffusion

Publishers, industry analysts, consultants and start-ups convened at the Sheraton Hotel in New York, N.Y., yesterday for the first day of Digital Book World 2014 to discuss the business challenges posed by an ever-changing digital landscape, where, among other trends, e-book sales are leveling off and a hybrid approach to reading print and digital titles is taking hold among readers.

Mike Shatzkin

Mike Shatzkin, the CEO of the Idea Logical company, ruminated during his opening remarks on the differences between the state of the industry today and the state of the industry in 2010, when the first Digital Book World conference was held. Today, he said, publishers have to contend with a single dominant retailer in Amazon; one nationwide bricks-and-mortar retailer in Barnes & Noble; a single publishing house as big as the next four largest combined; and the proliferation of digital, direct-to-consumer self-publishing.

In an aside that drew scattered laughter, Shatzkin noted that "thanks to the Department of Justice," Amazon has managed to fend off the other e-reading devices that had begun to challenge the Kindle's market dominance. And although e-book sales growth is declining and the rate of change is slower, Shatzkin insisted that the disruption is not over: Amazon's share of book sales continues to grow, sales will continue to move online, the temptation for authors to forgo publishers entirely is increasing, and physical, retail shelf space is dwindling.

During a subsequent CEO roundtable, Carolyn Reidy, president and CEO of Simon & Schuster, pointed to the loss of physical retail space (due to the demise of Borders, struggles of Barnes & Noble and big-box retailers potentially moving away from carrying books) and the difficulties of digital discoverability as the biggest problems that traditional publishers are trying to solve.

"Although we're competing with all other media, that's always been a challenge," said Reidy. "The biggest thing is the need to strengthen where books are; the great danger is that some outlets might decide to not carry books anymore.

Despite these concerns, Simon & Schuster posted a record quarter, as noted by moderator Michael Cader of Publishers Lunch. The greatest area for growth for publishers, Reidy responded, was in international digital sales.

"We sold an e-book in over 200 countries last year. And we sold a copy of The Sun Also Rises in Antarctica," Reidy said, adding that increasing global penetration of e-books hasn't affected international print sales.

Jo Henry

Jonathan Nowell and Jo Henry, president and director of Nielsen Book, respectively, presented data on international e-book markets. Henry described the U.S. e-book market as mature, diverse, dominated by fiction and much less committed. Within the last year, Henry noted, more people have been buying e-books than reading e-books--the implication being that people are buying e-books simply because they've got the device. Most encouragingly for bricks-and-mortar stores, the data showed evidence of a "hybrid" market: more than half of all books bought by e-reader owners were print books. And discounting gift purchases and print books for children, e-reader owners still bought a "significant portion" of their books in print.

Henry ended her presentation on the U.S. book market by highlighting trends in teen reading. She reported a "shocking" rise in the percentage of teens who don't read for pleasure; as of fall 2013, 41% of teens said that they don't read for pleasure.

"This has implications for all of us as they become adult consumers," warned Henry. --Alex Mutter


Clarion Books: The Stone Girl's Story by Sarah Beth Durst


Shinker Leaving Gotham/Avery; Tart to Head Imprints

Shinker

Effective January 31, William Shinker is stepping down president and publisher of Penguin's Gotham Books and Avery imprints to do consulting. He is being succeeded by Brian Tart, who continues as president and publisher of the Dutton imprint.

Shinker started his career as a bookseller in Oswald's Paradise Bookshop (now Anderson's) in Naperville, Ill., and went on to executive marketing and publishing positions at Avon Books, Warner Books and HarperCollins. In 1996 at Random House, he founded Broadway Books, then in 2001 joined Penguin, where he founded Gotham Books.

In a memo to staff, Susan Petersen Kennedy, president of Penguin Group (USA), said, "Personally, I am sorry that Bill will be leaving. He was a worthy competitor in the past, a trusted colleague in the present, and I will continue to hold him in the highest regard in the future. He is passionate about books, and was never afraid to take risks on writers and books he believed in. His sense of humor, eclectic taste, and deep knowledge of books and publishing as a business: all of these traits and more have made Bill a wonderful addition to Penguin. (Also, he's taught many of us to be better golfers.)"

Tart

Under Brian Tart, who takes the helm February 3, Gotham will maintain its publication of 25 hardcover and 30 trade paperback titles a year, with a focus on its core categories of pop culture, practical inspiration and self-help, the importance (and quirks) of language, news-breaking sports, golf instruction as well as aspirational lifestyle and fashion.

Avery will continue to acquire and publish approximately 20 new titles a year in the health, fitness and wellness categories.

Kennedy said that Tart "has built Dutton into a truly unique home for writers: one that combines commercial sensibilities with focused, individual editorial and marketing author support, and he will now bring that dynamic to Gotham Books/Avery. Brian is disciplined in his acquisition strategies, innovative in his approach to digital marketing, and completely dedicated to his authors and their careers. In collaboration with his Gotham Books/Avery publishing team, and with the full support of Penguin Random House, I have no doubt he will continue Bill's work, and forge new creative partnerships with writers while continuing the Gotham and Avery brands."


Oxford University Press: Hate: Why We Should Resist It with Free Speech, Not Censorship by Nadine Strossen


Rizzoli Bookstore Faces Wrecking Ball Again

Rizzoli Bookstore in Manhattan is confronting the prospect of having to relocate 29 years after it "fled Fifth Avenue two steps ahead of the wrecking ball," and for a similar reason. The New York Times reported that the owners of the building at 31 West 57th Street that houses Rizzoli "recently gave the bookstore the bad news: They plan to demolish the six-story, 109-year-old building, as well as two small, adjoining buildings." (Office space above the store includes the U.S. headquarters of Quercus Publishing.)

Although the LeFrak real estate family and Vornado Realty Trust declined to comment, "one executive who has been briefed on the plans said the owners hoped to find Rizzoli a new home. The executive said the developers had not decided whether to build a commercial or residential tower," the Times wrote. Pam Sommers, a spokeswoman for Rizzoli New York, noted that the company is still gathering information.

"We're losing yet another literary landmark in Midtown," said Michael Signorelli, senior editor at Henry Holt. "Rizzoli has three magnificent floors of books."

Peg Breen, president of the New York Landmarks Conservancy, added: "It's sad if we also lose those three limestone mansions, which were converted to commercial uses decades ago. There will be very little left on 57th Street that shows how it used to be. I think bookstores in New York City need to be protected at all costs."


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


Beehive Books Is Closing

Beehive Books, Delaware, Ohio, will be closing at the end of the month. In an e-mail to customers, owner Linda Diamond expressed "deep regret" about the decision, but said she had "reached a point in my life where I would like to take a little more time for myself and my husband. With the health problems Joe has experienced during the last few months, my decision to close the bookstore has only been reinforced."

Diamond wrote that she "cannot give enough praise and thanks to each and every one of my wonderful staff. They are dedicated beyond belief"; and expressed her gratitude to customers "for a wonderful 6+ years. You are what has kept me going through it all. It has been so much fun to get to know you and to share time with you. Some of you visit daily and have become like family. I will miss you more than you will ever know. Your loyalty has been heartwarming."

Local merchants will miss a member of the downtown community that was "more than a competitor," LimaOhio.com reported.

"It's a big hole in Delaware. We need a bookstore in Delaware," said Fundamentals Parent-Teacher Bookstore owner Tami Furlong. "It's definitely a complement to downtown. Delaware will survive without them, but we're better with them. The more viable businesses we have, the stronger we are."

Main Street Delaware executive director Frances Jo Hamilton added that Beehive "became a meeting place, an auxiliary office, a family zone, a place where we all felt we belonged. In looking at what we have in Beehive, it is just a smaller version of the community that [Beehive's owners] have helped to create in our downtown.... [They] saw a need. They created an independent, local book store, and the end result was the creation of a center to our downtown."


S&S Launching Simon451 Imprint

This fall, Simon & Schuster will launch Simon451, an imprint dedicated to literary and commercial speculative fiction across categories such as science fiction, fantasy, dystopian, apocalyptic and the supernatural. Simon451 will publish in electronic and printed formats, with a focus on digital-first publishing and e-book originals. The imprint's name pays homage to Ray Bradbury's classic novel Fahrenheit 451, which S&S reissued in a 60th anniversary edition last year.

Simon51's editors plan to develop new authors and branded series, while introducing established authors to new audiences. The focus will be on the opportunity to move quickly between digital and print publication, taking advantage of opportunities as awareness builds for authors and series. Simon451 will also experiment with publishing serialized novels and original short stories, and will also re-issue classic backlist titles in e-book form.

Gillian Anderson

"Within the science fiction and fantasy genre, e-books and online communities are becoming the primary means of reading and discovery," said senior editor Sarah Knight. "With Simon451 we aim to give those readers what they want, when and how they want it."

The inaugural Simon451 list is launching in October 2014 with A Vision of Fire, the first volume of the EarthEnd Saga series by actress Gillian Anderson (The X-Files) and co-writer Jeff Rovin. The list also includes includes Ethan Reid's The Undying, a dystopian novel set in Paris.


Notes

Image of the Day: Oregon Celebrates William Stafford

 

The kickoff for a yearlong William Stafford Centennial celebration was held earlier this month. The award-winning poet moved to Oregon from his native Kansas in 1948 and settled with his family in Lake Oswego. He taught for more than 30 years at Lewis and Clark College, which now houses his archives. Stafford was Poetry Consultant to the Library of Congress (a post now called the U.S. Poet Laureate) in 1970 and served as poet laureate of Oregon for 14 years. He published more than 60 collections of poetry and prose.

Stafford is the featured author for the Oregon Reads program in 2014. Nearly 100 libraries have joined the effort. To kick off the celebration, the Lake Oswego Public Library gave away 800 copies of Stafford's Ask Me: 100 Essential Poems (Graywolf), edited by Stafford's son Kim Stafford (who took these photos).


GiveForward: Fundraising Effort for Merritt Books Owner

A fundraising effort has been launched at GiveForward for Scott Meyer, co-owner of Merritt Books, Millbrook, N.Y. He is battling cancer and this initiative was created to help with mounting medical bills. Noting that "there are few better friends to authors and book lovers than Scott Meyer," organizers of the fundraiser said that for years he "has tirelessly championed authors in the old-school tradition of hand-selling, promoting books on local radio shows and publications, sponsoring and stocking book-fairs throughout several counties, and organizing five annual Millbrook Literary Festivals. Owing to his inexhaustible enthusiasm and constant promotion of authors, he's been called the Tasmanian devil of booksellers....

"Now Scott and his wife Alison need our help.... The thought of how the family will pay for medical bills, living expenses and college costs while keeping Merritt Books open should be the last thing on their minds, as they focus on getting Scott through the next step, which is radiation treatment. We can help."


Bookseller Enjoying His 'Second Act'

"Every day, I love going to work, meeting new people and helping them find the perfect book for themselves or as a gift. There is just nothing more satisfying," said Bill Skees, owner of Well Read New & Used Books, Hawthorne, N.J. He was the subject of the Wall Street Journal's latest "Second Acts" feature, which "looks at paths people are taking in their 50s and beyond."

During his 30-year career as a computer engineer, Skees said he "always wanted to run a bookstore, and I decided to take the plunge before it was too late.... I imagined owning a bookstore in a small resort town in my retirement, but it was mostly a pipe dream. Then, one day I asked myself, 'Why wait?' "

Well Read New & Used Books opened in November 2010 "and Mr. Skees has been perched behind the counter ever since," the Journal wrote.

"Every day, I walk to work with my dog, turn on the lights, make a pot of coffee and start my day surrounded by books," he said. "It's such a huge change from being constantly on the computer."


Personnel Changes: The Experiment; S&S Children's

Anne Rumberger has joined the Experiment as publicity, marketing and sales manager. She was most recently publicity and marketing manager at Seven Stories Press.

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Sooji Kim has been promoted to assistant marketing manager from digital marketing coordinator at Simon & Schuster Children's Division. She began her career at S&S as an intern at Pocket Books in 2009. She then joined the associates program and was hired as a marketing assistant.



Media and Movies

TV: Literary Adaptations Real Estate Update

Cornwall's Jamaica Inn, the site made famous by Daphne du Maurier's novel, is on the market for £2 million (about $3.3 million). The Guardian reported that fans of the author who "have £2m to spare" now have the opportunity to own a property that inspired Du Maurier's tale of Cornish smugglers.

Perhaps not coincidentally, BBC One is currently filming an adaptation of Jamaica Inn, written by Emma Frost (The White Queen) and directed by Philippa Lowthorpe (Call the Midwife). The project, scheduled to air in the U.K. later this year, stars Jessica Brown Findlay (Downton Abbey), Matthew McNulty (The Paradise), Sean Harris (The Borgias), Ben Daniels (House of Cards), Joanne Whalley (The Borgias) and Shirley Henderson (The Crimson Petal and the White).

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To celebrate the upcoming DVD release of HBO's Game of Thrones season three, Kings Langley, a small town outside of London, will change its name to Kings Landing for a week in February. The Huffington Post reported that a producer for show "heard the town listed as a stop while waiting for a train at London's Euston station and was inspired to instigate the name change." Game of Thrones will be released on DVD February 18.


Movies: Mortdecai

Aubrey Plaza, Oliver Platt and Jeff Goldblum have been added to the Mortdecai cast that already included Johnny Depp, Ewan McGregor and Gwyneth Paltrow, Deadline.com reported. The film is based on Kyril Bonfiglioli’s three-novel anthology.


Books & Authors

Awards: T.S. Eliot Poetry Winner

After having been shortlisted four time previously, Sinéad Morrissey won the £15,000 (about US$24,663) T.S. Eliot Prize for her poetry collection, Parallax, the Bookseller reported. "Politically, historically and personally ambitious, expressed in beautifully turned language, her book is as many-angled and any-angled as its title suggests," said judge Ian Duhig of Morrissey, who is Belfast, Ireland's inaugural poet laureate.


Book Brahmin: Brian Payton

photo: Alison Rosa/Doug Rosa Photography

Brian Payton has written for the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune and the Boston Globe. His debut book was the novel Hail Mary Corner. His second book, Shadow of the Bear: Travels in Vanishing Wilderness, was chosen as a Barnes & Noble Book Club pick, a Pearl's Pick on NPR and a National Outdoor Book Awards Book of the Year, and was followed by The Ice Passage: a True Story of Ambition, Disaster, and Endurance in the Arctic Wilderness, longlisted for the 2010 National Award for Canadian Nonfiction. Payton's new book is The Wind Is Not a River (Ecco, January 7, 2014). He lives with his family in Vancouver, B.C.

On your nightstand now:

I alternate between fiction and nonfiction and often find myself in the midst of both at once. Right now, my wife is reading Unconditional Parenting by Alphie Kohn aloud to me, because we have two children under the age of two and I am unconditionally confused. I am reading The Sisters Brothers by Patrick DeWitt, for the wild, exuberant ride, and The Once and Future World by J.B. MacKinnon, for a deep look at the nature of nature and the possibilities of "rewilding" our world.

Favorite book when you were a child:

Honestly, I can't remember much of what I read as a child, beyond the Hardy Boys mysteries, ghostwritten by authors collectively known as "Franklin W. Dixon." Then, as now, I loved being read to. I remember being mesmerized by my stunningly beautiful third grade teacher, who read E.B. White's Charlotte's Web to the class. I was hooked on every word.

Your top five authors:

In no particular order: John Steinbeck, Ernest Hemingway, Graham Greene, Roddy Doyle and Ian McEwan.

Book you've faked reading:

I've never faked reading a book, aside from a few junior high school textbooks read by classmates who took excellent (and concise) notes. I don't skim. I will set a book aside rather than skim. That said, one summer in my 20s, I very publicly read Tolstoy's War and Peace while sun tanning, hoping to be seen reading this monumental work. I did not skim, but became completely lost (not in a good way) in the sweep of the Napoleon's Russian adventure. I was frequently and happily distracted by most anyone passing by. I got a great tan.

Book you're an evangelist for:

The Snow Leopard by Peter Matthiessen. An account of a search for elusive beasts, it is both a physical and existential adventure story that wrestles with our place in nature, the nature of love and loss, the meaning of time, the meaning of meaning. And Frank McCourt's Angela's Ashes, the only book I've read that truly made me laugh and cry out loud all in the space of a single page. Brilliant. Neither title needs any help from the likes of me.

Book you've bought for the cover:

None. However, I am convinced of the power of good design. I've been attracted to countless beautiful or intriguing covers only to discover beautiful or intriguing stories inside. I often discover for the cover, but buy for the words.

Book that changed your life:

I read Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath when I was 14, and it shook me to the core. I vividly remember savoring the final scene while on the road, curled up in the hatchback of our Ford Pinto (infamous for having its gas tank behind the bumper) because there were not enough seats for all us kids. By the time I reached the ending, I was sobbing loud enough to require explanation. I knew then that I had magic in my hands and wanted to become a magician.

Favorite line from a book:

"How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live." --Henry David Thoreau.

So many of my favorite lines come from the eminently quotable Thoreau--lines that have challenged and inspired me throughout the years.

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

The Grapes of Wrath.


Book Review

Children's Review: Nest

Nest by Jorey Hurley, illus. by Jorey Hurley (Paula Wiseman/Simon & Schuster, $16.99 hardcover, 40p., ages 3-7, 9781442489714, February 4, 2014)

With only 14 words in an astonishing picture-book debut, author and artist Jorey Hurley takes youngest children through the life cycle of a robin. On every spread, just one word appears, and Hurley uses each composition to place young readers' focus on the main event.

Opposite the title page, a bird carries a twig. The red of its breast identifies it as a robin, and also matches the book's title. That twig becomes part of the first full spread (with one word, "nest," also in red). Rendered in Photoshop, the illustrations evoke collage compositions, with the layering of the tiny twig strands to create the birds' home, and simple geometric shapes--the oval blue egg, the cozy circle of the nest, and yellow triangles for the parents' beaks.

One word on the next page, "warm," prompts youngsters to play detective. The placement of the word also helps unlock the mystery. "Warm" appears across from the mother robin that incubates the (now unseen) egg; raindrops fall all around the nest, but pink buds on the branches indicate it's a warm spring rain. Next, a peach-toned featherless bird bursts through the blue egg  ("hatch") as the parents look out at readers. Nothing else shows--no branches, no sky. The center attraction is the baby bird's emergence. In subsequent pages, the mother feeds the nestling a worm ("grow"), the offspring takes its first small leaps with speckled tangerine breast feathers that mark its maturity ("jump"), and soon the fledgling soars over the treetops ("fly").

Hurley shows the passage of the seasons through the family's summer "feast" on the fruit of their tree, the windy swirl of red, yellow and orange leaves ("blow"), and a family huddle beneath a light snowfall ("snuggle"). Hurley wisely keeps the focus on one family and one tree, but occasionally introduces other interlopers--a hummingbird sips at nectar, evidence of humans arrives via a kite ("surprise"). Hurley also introduces times of day: an owl flies by on a winter night ("sleep"), followed by a rosy sunrise ("awake"), with the birds' beaks open in song.

In addition to the scientific accuracy of Hurley's poignant compositions, her spare use of verbs open the way to a discussion of words that do double duty (as nouns--nest, feast, surprise--and even one that’s also an adjective--warm). In the closing spreads, a fourth robin alights on the tree, and the cycle begins again. A quiet masterpiece. --Jennifer M. Brown

Shelf Talker: In an astonishing picture-book debut, Jorey Hurley introduces youngest readers to a robin family, the four seasons and the cycle of life.


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