Shelf Awareness for Thursday, January 23, 2014

Feiwel & Friends: Heaven of Animals by Nancy Tillman

Swoon: A Little Something Different by Sandy Hall

Scholastic: Sisters by Raina Telgemeier

Harper: How to Build a Girl by Caitlin Moran

Harper Perennial: The Way Inn by Will Wiles

Tarcher: More Love Less Panic by Claude Knobler

Scholastic: Amulet by Kazu Kibuishi

Harper: Gutenberg's Apprentice by Alix Christie

Tarcher: Happy Sleeper by Heather Turgeon & Julie Wright

 

News

WI9: Making Better Decisions; the 'Bikini Model' of Indies First

Steve Bercu

In his opening address at the plenary breakfast on the first day of Winter Institute 9 in Seattle, Wash., American Booksellers Association president Steve Bercu proclaimed that after an "incredibly positive season for many of us," the media and general public were finally "recognizing the reality that indie bookselling is strong, vital and growing."

Bercu, owner of BookPeople in Austin, Tex., went on to acknowledge the "remarkable success" of Indies First Day, held November 30, which was the "result of a heartfelt challenge" issued by author Sherman Alexie, a longtime friend, ally and advocate of independent bookstores. Alexie came on stage to receive a huge round of applause and a blue, ABA T-shirt with the words "the absolutely true original part time Indie" on it.

"I'm happy to be the bikini model for Indies First," quipped Alexie, after showing off the T-shirt to the audience. The idea for Indies First, he said, came after he completely forgot about his plan to visit Seattle's Queen Anne Book Company to celebrate the store's reopening last March. Feeling terrible, he promised that he would soon visit the store and spend an entire day there. The owners of Queen Anne suggested that he volunteer as a bookseller for a day, and he enthusiastically agreed. In April, he spent a day at the store, and in early September penned the open letter that put Indies First on the radar of independent booksellers and authors nationwide.

Betsy Burton and Sherman Alexie

"Writers responded in a way that completely shocked me," said Alexie. Before leaving the stage, he thanked indies for "making [his] career." Prior to their efforts, he said, he was just a kid with a book of stories about reservation Indians.

Dan Heath, the morning's featured speaker and co-author of the book Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work, shared with indies excerpts from "humanity's questionable decision making track record," highlighting common pitfalls in the decision making processes of the average person. Among the traps into which people often fall, he asserted, were the tendency to simplify complex, multi-variable problems into binary dilemmas, and the unconscious habit of ignoring information that does not fit with preconceived notions.

Dan Heath

Heath offered suggestions on how to learn to minimize these mistakes, and he used two indie booksellers to illustrate good decision making. He commended Robert Sindelar, managing partner of Third Place Books in Lake Forest Park and Ravenna, Wash., on the way he handled poor cafe sales in the store's second location. Rather than minimize the problem to something overly simple (such as just hiring a different cafe manager or only changing the cafe's menu), Sindelar looked at a wider range of options and sought help from outside sources to turn things around. Likewise, Heath praised Jamie Fiocco, the owner of Flyleaf Books in Chapel Hill, N.C., for nimbly experimenting with a variety of social media promotions and eventually landing on a promotional method that worked wonders.

Taking a moment to deviate from his talk, Heath congratulated indies on "earning the trust of the book buying public." The power of indies, Heath proclaimed, was the power of a point of view.

"The value you provide comes from the fact that you live books, you know books," Heath said, recalling how his literary tastes and intellectual horizons have been expanded due to the work of indies nationwide. "You're the people who stretch us, the people who lead us. I just wanted to take a minute to thank all of you for providing that." --Alex Mutter

Putnam: The Golem of Hollywood by Jonathan Kellerman with Jesse Kellerman

WI9: First Kiwi Kobo Scholars Join in

Jenna Todd and Jared Raines

Among the large contingent of international booksellers attending WI9 are two New Zealand booksellers who are the first two winners of an annual Kobo scholarship to represent New Zealand booksellers at Winter Institutes. Jenna Todd, manager of Time Out Bookstore, Auckland, and Jared Raines, owner of Paper Plus Northlands, Christchurch, were chosen by a group including representatives from Kobo, Booksellers New Zealand, the ABA as well as a cultural officer at the U.S. Embassy in Wellington.

After Winter Institute ends on Friday, Todd and Raines are staying on in Seattle and will work for a week in Third Place Books and Elliott Bay Book Company, respectively. They will then report on their WI9 and bookselling experiences in the U.S. at the next Booksellers New Zealand conference in June in Auckland.

The program originated at the Frankfurt Book Fair in 2012, when Booksellers New Zealand CEO Lincoln Gould, who is also in Seattle, first spoke with Kobo about it. The program is open to New Zealand booksellers between 19 and 35 who have management and leadership positions in their stores and intend to stay in the business for some time.

On the first day of WI9, they were as involved and excited about the Winter Institute as the rest of the attendees. --John Mutter

Riverhead: The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters

WI9: Bookselling American Style

ABA's Oren Teicher welcomed international booksellers to a luncheon that featured a "dream team" of U.S. booksellers--four past and the current president of the trade association--for a casual but informative conversation on the state of bookselling.

Howorth, Kaplan, Anderson, Robinson, Bercu

Chuck Robinson, co-owner of Village Books in Bellingham, Wash., shared how the local movement in his community was the central piece people latched onto in a broader "sustainable connections" program. If you did an ad campaign and 10% of the people surveyed after were aware of it, you'd call it a success, Robinson said. A survey conducted after the local movement began in Bellingham had an awareness level of 53%. "Nearly half of the people said they changed their behavior because of that campaign," he added.

Robinson cited author Tom Peters, who responded to critics of the nine factors he wrote about in In Search of Excellence by amending the list to only two: stay close to the customer and innovate. At Village Books--which has been around for 34 years--Robinson said they have always tried to adhere to both, which in recent years has meant partnering with a local Apple merchant when ABA had an e-book arrangement with Google and changing that part of its store into a Kobo counter to adapt to the changing times. "We didn't want to be left out of that piece of the business," he said.

Richard Howorth, owner of Square Books in Oxford, Miss.--which is also more than 30 years old--observed that in this cyclical book business, the current bookstore environment was similar to when he and his colleagues started their stores: young people without much access to capital are investing their money and their lives in opening independent bookstores.

Mitchell Kaplan, who founded Books and Books in Coral Gables, Fla., noted that the idea of local was a bit more complex in his area--where most residents would root for the Jets over Miami in football. He explained how he had managed to extend Books and Books beyond his home city by opening stores--in Westhampton Beach, N.Y., and Grand Cayman--through partnership branding arrangements with others.

As a founder of the Miami Book Fair, Kaplan said he tried to emulate the ideal talked about in the book A Great Good Place at a time when no one thought of Miami as a cultural city. "The power of what literature can do is shown through things like the Miami Book Fair," he said. And, in the current climate, he believes a major issue in the industry is distribution, which is why Books and Books has been working directly with publishers to get books on consignment.

In 1875, Becky Anderson explained, her family started a drugstore and retail business that sold everything from books to wallpaper in Naperville, near Chicago, which was then a farming community. Her grandfather opened a paperback bookstore upstairs from the drug store in 1964, and eventually the book business took off and they renamed it Anderson's. Thirty years ago, Anderson's added a book fair business to the mix of how it served the community. "We think of it as an extension of the education business," she said. A few years ago, Anderson's opened a nearby gift store called Two Doors East.

Anderson said her business had its best year ever last year--which she attributed partly to the fact that even though booksellers in the U.S. are competitors, they share their success stories and help each other at events like Winter Institute.

Current ABA President Steve Bercu from Bookpeople in Austin, Tex.--which really sparked the local business movement with its catchy tagline "Keep Austin Weird"--said the conversation about shopping local "has to be endless." People forget and people move around, he explained.

A few years ago, Bookpeople started summer book camps for kids and now parents camp out overnight to register their kids for the limited number of spots. "We sold 800 places in four hours," he said. And those camp "graduates," he noted, grow up and proselytize for the store.

As the q&a conversation ranged from questions about publishers selling direct to e-books to convincing older booksellers that innovation is part of the business model of the future, Howorth summed it up best for bookstore owners here and abroad when he said: "Developing people is the most entrepreneurial thing you can do." --Bridget Kinsella

Current: The End of Absence by Michael Harris

Quercus Publishing Is Seeking a Buyer

Quercus Publishing, the U.K. indie publisher that launched its first U.S. list in September, "has put itself up for sale in what it has described as a 'challenging' and 'increasingly competitive' book market in the U.K.," the Guardian reported. The 10-year-old publisher, whose list included the late Stieg Larsson's Millennium trilogy, said it was expecting "a significant trading loss" for 2013. Quercus said it would be "in the best interests" of shareholders to seek a buyer.

Company CEO Mark Smith said it would be "business as usual" at the publisher while it looks for a buyer, and that "there won't be any effect on the publishing program.... We feel that with the resources a larger partner would bring to Quercus, we would be able to compete more effectively in an increasingly competitive market here in the U.K."

"Quercus always lived close to the edge, as many new companies and independents have to," said the Bookseller's editor Philip Jones. "It survived the post-Stieg downturn, and let's hope it can do so again--albeit perhaps in a corporate environment."

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Children's: Zac & Mia by AJ Betts

Amazon: 'Union-Free' in Central Europe; Allegations in U.S.

As Amazon expands its reach into central Europe with plans to build three warehouses in Poland and two in the Czech Republic, the online retailer "is hoping that unions do not follow" and create the labor unrest that occurred in Germany last year, the Financial Times beyondbrics blog reported.

"In terms of unions themselves, we don't see a need for that," said Tim Collins, director for Amazon's EU logistics operations. "Any friction that gets between us and our associates slows down innovation, slows down change, slows down improvements on the shop floor, and we don't see that as being good at all."

Marek Lewandowski, a spokesman for the Solidarity labor union in Poland, said it might not be smooth sailing for Amazon there: "It's up to the workers to organize themselves, but we're here to help. Amazon won't scare us off."

The five planned warehouses will employ 10,000 permanent workers, beyondbrics noted, adding that Amazon does not have a retail presence in either country, though "it does plan to open websites there in the future, so the warehouses are geared at the west European market."

"The existing thrust will be the growth of our core network today, which is primarily west. And going forward it will be in indigenous markets and to the east," said Collins.

---

Salon's Josh Eidelson wrote that in the wake of last week's defeat of a union organizing effort by a small group of Amazon workers in Middletown, Del., a union spokesperson blamed that result on a corporate campaign to make workers fear for their job and promised a much larger union campaign could be ahead at Amazon.

"Everything Amazon did had the underlying tone of fear," said International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers spokesperson John Carr, adding: "Every single day there was a new sort of rumor mill, or means of misportraying, misinformation--that we'll have to ship this work somewhere else, you name it."

Tor: Accidental Highway by Ben Tripp

R.J. Julia Wins Neil Gaiman Indie Bookstore Contest

R.J. Julia Booksellers, Madison, Conn., won the Neil Gaiman Indie Bookstore Contest by selling the most copies of his latest novel, The Ocean at the End of the Lane, in November and December 2013. Book Passage in Corte Madera, Calif., finished second, with Bookshop Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, Calif., a "very close" third. As winner, R.J. Julia receives a well-earned store visit by Gaiman.
 
In a letter about the contest she had sent to customers last year that was as much passionate handselling as get-out-the-vote-for-Gaiman, owner Roxanne Coady wrote: "If you forced me to tell you what it does, Ocean makes you think about how to retain the qualities of childhood--unconstrained by the heavy hand of adulthood--being iconoclastic, imaginative and without guile. It also reminded me that allowing the fear of failure to restrict your actions might, in fact, guarantee another form of failure altogether--preventing you from ever realizing your full potential in life.

"All that said, I urge you to read it. If we're able to generate enough enthusiasm and interest in his book, we might even be able to get Neil to come by our store... which would be phenomenal, of course." And it will be.

Notes

Image of the Day: Pulpwood Queens Girlfriend Weekend

photo: P.J. Williams

The 14th annual Pulpwood Queens Girlfriend Weekend in Jefferson, Tex., featured a resplendent gathering of book lovers, authors and even an Elvis impersonator or three to evoke this year's theme, "Viva Las Vegas, Baby!" Kathy L. Murphy (pictured front left next to author Jamie Ford), founder of Girlfriend Weekend as well as the Pulpwood Queens Book Club--which has more than 500 chapters nationwide--informed us that "every year I present my own personal Kat Award to those who help us promote literacy. This year it went regionally to Charm Magazine for giving me a Pulpwood Queen Book Review Page and Internationally to Shelf Awareness for helping us share our news on promoting authors, books, literacy and reading BIG TIME." Thank you, Kathy!

Happy Fifth Birthday, [words] Bookstore!

[Words] staffers, with owner Jonah Zimiles (center).

Congratulations to [words] Bookstore, Maplewood, N.J., which celebrated its fifth year in business last Saturday. Co-owners Jonah and Ellen Zimiles thanked members of the community who had gathered in the store for supporting their vision to be "not just your typical community," referring both to Maplewood's reputation for being exceptionally inclusive as well as the store's Vocational Training Program for individuals with autism. More than 60 people have participated in the program, and the owners cited this as the driving force behind the store's success. They also thanked the bookstore's staff--many of whom have been there throughout the store's five years--for their loyalty, hard work and excellent customer-service.  
 
The genesis of {words] happened in 2009, when the local independent bookstore was closing and Jonah was a recent MBA graduate who hoped to launch a job training program for youth with autism. Ellen noticed the soon-to-be-shuttered community bookstore, and proposed merging the community's need for a bookstore with its other need for a welcoming site for families with special needs children--fusing job training to individuals with autism into the two-part mission.

Off the Beaten Path Bookstore 'Greets You with Calm'

Mountain Town magazine described Off the Beaten Path Bookstore, Steamboat Springs, Colo., as "a lovely independent bookstore that greets you with calm, the newest literary releases and a coffee bar complete with adult beverages.... Books, lots of books grace their shelves; the latest fiction, biographies, kids books, cooking, do it yourself books and more. Grab some of their delicious baked goods, breakfast sandwiches, panini, salads or freshly made soups. Then settle in and relax.... More than a bookstore, Off the Beaten Path Bookstore is a hub for events and social gatherings."

Personnel Changes: S&S Children's; Putnam/Amy Einhorn Books

Veda Kumarjiguda has been named digital marketing coordinator for the Simon & Schuster Children's Division. She interned for S&S in summer 2011 for the children's digital marketing team and then joined the company's associates program, working first in publicity with the Simon & Schuster imprint and later with the digital group.

---

Kelly Welsh Rudolph has been promoted to assistant director of publicity for Putnam and Amy Einhorn Books. She joined Putnam and Amy Einhorn Books in 2012.

Book Trailer of the Day: Timmy Failure: Now Look What You've Done

Timmy Failure: Now Look What You've Done by Stephan Pastis (Candlewick), the sequel to Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Ann Patchett on Fresh Air

Today on Morning Joe: Antoinette Tuff, author of Prepared for a Purpose: The Inspiring True Story of How One Woman Saved an Atlanta School Under Siege (Bethany House, $24.99, 9780764212635).

---

Today on Fresh Air: Ann Patchett, author of This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage (Harper, $27.99, 9780062236678).

TV: Rosemary's Baby

Patrick J. Adams (Suits) will play the male lead opposite Zoe Saldana in NBC's four-hour miniseries Rosemary's Baby, an adaptation of the 1967 novel by Ira Levin, Deadline.com reported. Jason Isaacs (Awake) also stars in the project, which is directed by Agnieska Holland.

This Weekend on Book TV: Eric Jaffe

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, January 25
8 p.m. Hugh Hewitt, author of The Happiest Life: Seven Gifts, Seven Givers, and the Secret to Genuine Success (Thomas Nelson, $19.99, 9781595555786). (Re-airs Monday at 2 a.m. and 6:15 a.m.)

9 p.m. Eric Jaffe, author of A Curious Madness: An American Combat Psychiatrist, a Japanese War Crimes Suspect, and an Unsolved Mystery from World War II (Scribner, $30, 9781451612059), at the Corner Bookshop in New York City. (Re-airs Sunday at 4:30 p.m.)

10 p.m. After Words. New York Times national correspondent Tanzina Vega interviews Felipe Fernandez-Armesto, author of Our America: A Hispanic History of the United States (Norton, $27.95, 9780393239539). (Re-airs Sunday at 9 p.m. and Monday at 12 a.m. and 3 a.m.)

11 p.m. P.J. O'Rourke, author of The Baby Boom: How It Got That Way... And It Wasn't My Fault...And I'll Never Do It Again (Atlantic Monthly Press, $25, 9780802121974). (Re-airs Sunday at 2 p.m.)

Sunday, January 26
12 a.m. Rachel Shelden, author of Washington Brotherhood: Politics, Social Life, and the Coming of the Civil War (University of North Carolina Press, $34.95, 9781469610856), at Politics & Prose Bookstore, Washington, D.C. (Re-airs Sunday at 10 p.m.)

4 a.m. Fred Siegel, author of The Revolt Against the Masses: How Liberalism Has Undermined the Middle Class (Encounter Books, $23.99, 9781594036989). (Re-airs Sunday at 7:45 p.m.)

10:30 p.m. Larry Schweikart, author of A Patriot's History of the Modern World, Vol. II: From the Cold War to the Age of Entitlement, 1945-2012 (Sentinel, $38, 9781595231048), at Books & Co., Dayton, Ohio. 

Books & Authors

Attainment: New Titles Out Next Week

Selected new titles appearing next Tuesday, January 28:

Still Life with Bread Crumbs: A Novel by Anna Quindlen (Random House, $26, 9781400065752) is a love story about a photographer.

Red Rising by Pierce Brown (Del Rey, $25, 9780345539786) takes place in a dystopian future of color-coded castes.

The Pope and Mussolini: The Secret History of Pius XI and the Rise of Fascism in Europe by David I. Kertzer (Random House, $32, 9780812993462) explores the close ties between the Catholic Church and Fascism.

Book Review

Review: The Free

The Free by Willy Vlautin (Harper Perennial, $14.99 trade paper, 9780062276742, February 4, 2014)

Willy Vlautin's fourth novel, The Free, begins on a more hopeful note than previous works like Northline and Lean on Pete. That brief moment happens when 24-year-old Leroy Kervin wakes up in his group home and, for the first time since a roadside bomb in Iraq exploded next to him, looks at a pinup girl on a calendar and makes sense of it. "Suddenly he could think things through, he could put things together, where in past years he'd been unable to." Since the explosion, he has trouble talking, walking, handling his emotions--a constant series of frustrations.

This sudden clarity is welcome, but so suspect Leroy instantly wonders if it is really just an illusion--then decides to kill himself lest he fall back into fog and confusion. He succeeds only in injuring himself badly and is taken to a local hospital.

Freddie McCall, night man at the home, finds Leroy, blood everywhere, with a piece of wood sticking out of his chest. Freddie is a good soul; sympathetic and caring. His wife left him, taking his two beloved daughters to Las Vegas with her boyfriend. It's too far for Freddie to visit, but he calls his girls every night and tries to make conversation. The triumvirate of characters is completed by Pauline, a hospital nurse caring for Leroy. (Vlautin must have a special place in his heart for nurses; he has dedicated The Free to their patron saint, the 16th-century priest and caregiver Camillus de Lellis.) Pauline is alone in the world except for one girlfriend, her patients and her father, with whom she has a love-hate relationship.

These three wounded souls and their stories circle around each other and take on a poignancy that Vlautin creates, then maintains, masterfully. Leroy is in and out of consciousness and while unconscious, is in a dystopian world where he is charged with protecting his girlfriend, an impossible task. Freddie is near exhaustion from holding two jobs when his wife calls and tells him that he must pick up the girls--she doesn't want them back--and Pauline, after one date with a decent guy, decides to give him a chance--on her strict terms. How can these three cope with what their lives and times have handed them? --Valerie Ryan

Shelf Talker: A heartbreaking but hopeful tale of three people navigating personal, physical and psychological crises and trying to make sense of it all.

« prev issue | next issue »

Do you need to change your e-mail address or unsubscribe? Update your subscription

powered by: Xtenit