Also published on this date: Tuesday, February 4, 2014: Maximum Shelf: Ruby

Shelf Awareness for Tuesday, February 4, 2014


HarperCollins: Dear Girl, by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Paris Rosenthal, illustrated by Holly Hatam

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

Tarcherperigee: F You Very Much: Understanding the Culture of Rudeness--And What We Can Do about It by Danny Wallace

News

Connecticut's Bank Street Book Nook Sold

photo: blog.ctnews.com

The Bank Street Book Nook, New Milford, Conn., is being sold to Vanessa Gronbach, who the Danbury News Times described as "a New Milford mother and attorney."

The paper said Gronbach will close the store February 16 to reorganize and reopen with a grand opening February 22. She plans to retain most of the staff and will restart children's story time, feature a Connecticut authors section and continue authors' readings and book signings.

Current owner Janet Olsen Ryan had said in December that she wanted to sell the store and would close it after January if she did not find a buyer. "I have other passions I want to pursue," she said. She is a former psychotherapist who may reopen her practice and will focus for now on her children. Ryan and her husband, Sean, have sold the building in which the store is located.

The Ryans bought the store seven years ago, when Blanche Bailey decided to sell the building and close her store, then called Baileywick Books. The Ryans initially were interested only in buying the building, but, as the paper wrote, the store's closing "tugged at Janet Ryan's heart and she agreed to take over the business."


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


New S&S Biz Book Site Features Titles by Range of Publishers

Simon & Schuster has launched 250 Words, a site covering business books from a range of publishers. 250 Words will feature original essays by authors; reviews and commentary about business books; interviews with business executives, entrepreneurs and thinkers; and book recommendations from business leaders. The centerpiece of the site will be a daily, original essay that will be available as a daily e-mail subscription. Some articles from 250 Words will be featured on Fortune.com. Sam McNerney, an independent writer, is editor of the site.

S&S president and CEO Carolyn K. Reidy said, "Business books have long had a strong and devoted readership, and we think that 250 Words can fill the need for a smart, highly curated site dedicated to the best in this thriving category. In establishing 250 Words as a publisher-agnostic site, we believe we can foster a community that will better serve authors and readers by bringing attention to the books that are of the most interest to them, regardless of the source."

Jonathan Karp, president of the Simon & Schuster Publishing Group, said, "Just as the New York Review of Books was initially backed by publishers, we hope 250 Words will become a valuable and influential source of commentary about business books. We want it to be a lively forum, with an independent editorial voice and sensibility, for people to write and discuss and argue about business books and the ideas and concepts in them."


Binc Foundation: Helping Booksellers #MoreThanEver Donation Campaign


WI9: Creating Compelling In-Store Displays

Before they trotted out their self-described bookstore "guinea pig," mother-daughter co-authors Joann and Arielle Eckstut talked about their new book, The Secret Language of Color: Science, History, Culture, Beauty of Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue and Violet (Black Dog & Leventhal). The authors were there to help booksellers learn to use color in their stores to attract customers.

"Humans can see 10 million colors," said Joann, who is the founder of the Roomworks interior design company. "Eighty percent of what the neocortex processes is color," Arielle added. "Our brains are processing color every second our eyes are open." Arielle and her husband, David Henry Sterry, co-wrote The Essential Guide to Getting Your Book Published. Through their work as the Book Doctors and their book, Arielle and David have helped aspiring authors feel empowered and less like publishing guinea pigs.

The "guinea pig" in this case was Jonah Zimiles, who--at the insistence of his wife--took over a bookstore in Maplewood, N.J., five years ago. Also at the insistence of his wife--and through her connections--Zimiles said the store got some free advice from one of the best branding firms in SoHo as they remade the store into [words]. That "free advice," he noted, turned out to be very expensive to carry out, but the Eckstuts said the strong color palette used throughout [words] came in handy as they worked with Zimiles on improving the visual space in his store.

Jamie Fiocco, Arielle Eckstut, Jonah Zimiles and Joann Eckstut.

Just a few weeks ago, Joann and Arielle took on the challenge of creating a display around food and cookbooks in three hours with a budget of less than $25. "We went to the dollar store," said Arielle. They brought back lots of colorful plates and utensils, painted the backdrop the same brown in the store logo, and pulled about 45 books from the inventory for an eye-popping "Eat Green" display.

"We recommend that you sit down once a month and plan a window," said Joann. "You all can do this."

For booksellers without enough floor space, Joann suggested "going vertical" by using the ceiling and higher wall space to create displays. Arielle recommended using blackboard paint--which comes in bright colors and not just black anymore--in such spots.

Panel moderator Jamie Fiocco from Flyleaf Books in Chapel Hill, N.C., said she likes to check out displays at other stores--not just bookstores. "Whole Foods does great displays," she said.

As the attendees shared ideas that worked in their stores, one bookseller suggested that ABA start a Pinterest thread to showcase display successes of its members. --Bridget Kinsella


Page Street Kids: Beneath the Haunting Sea by Joanna Meyer


WI9: Gifty Guidelines

When it comes to stocking sidelines, Monica Holmes from Hicklebee's in San Jose, Calif., advised booksellers at a Winter Institute 9 panel titled Gifts 101 to make choices about who you are as a store in what you buy. "Books are still our biggest feature and we are trying to keep it that way," she said.

Hicklebee's, which is celebrating its 35th anniversary this year, aims to keep sidelines at about 20% of sales, said Holmes. Jan Hall from Partners Village Store--which will soon celebrate 35 years in Westport, Mass.--has a 60/40 gift-to-book ratio. Even with a larger proportion of gift items, "I try to keep the bookstore looking like a bookstore," she said, noting that the gift and book items are largely kept separate at Partners but converge in the center of the store for displays that are often seasonal.

Linda Marie Barrett from Malaprop's Bookstore & Café shared how the store has increased its sidelines from 7% to about 30% over its 32-year history in Asheville, N.C. As for pricing, Barrett said she adheres to the "golden rule" she learned from Gayle Shanks from Changing Hands in Tempe, Ariz.: "Double the cost and add 20% to cover breakage and shrinkage."

Generally, at Malaprop's, said Barrett, the buying rule is if it looks like something the buyers might want, then they get it for the store.

Jan Hall, Linda Marie Barrett, Monica Holmes, Wendy Hudson

All the panelists said they attend gift shows and local craft fairs to buy gifts that help give their stores an identity. Hicklebee's is known for its "Born to Read" baby onesies; Partners customizes historical postcards with the store logo; and Malaprop's customizes the popular Yay! magnets with its logo.

Panel moderator Wendy Hudson, from Nantucket Bookworks, Nantucket, Mass., noted that her store does well with locally produced fair-trade items.

"We tell staff about the sidelines and give them talking points," said Barrett. Frontline booksellers feel better about selling Yay! magnets, knowing it is a family-owned business.

Hicklebee's hosts game nights--with a kids open mic and other attractions--that Holmes said not only gives Silicon Valley families a chance to have fun in the store but also teaches the staff to know and love the games, which they can then sell better. Holmes urged booksellers who want to try game nights to get customer RSVPs so that they know how to staff the events. Hicklebee's keeps a few games on the counter all the time to encourage playfulness and sales. The store always has a rack of party favors on hand as well.

At gift shows, Hall advised "flexible risk taking" in buying gift items. "Allow yourself to take some chances," she said. "And do a [sidelines] sale once or twice a year to at least get your money back."

As with any buying, panelists agreed that good relationships with reps are key. Reps know the merchandise of other retailers in an area and are great partners in stocking things that will work and sell.

Overall, the gift panel advised booksellers to be aware but wary of trendy sidelines and to listen to what their customers want for gifts in their stores. It might sound strange, but Hudson offered, "sometimes the less book-related, the better." --Bridget Kinsella


Notes

Image of the Day: Crowd Gathers for The Professor

Bailey and Hickam

Last Thursday, more than 300 people gathered at the Huntsville, Ala., Museum of Art for the launch of hometown attorney Robert Bailey's new legal thriller, The Professor (Osprey/Exhibit A). Bailey was introduced by Homer Hickam, author of Rocket Boys.

"I could not have dreamed this night any better!" Bailey wrote on his website, noting that 273 copies of his book sold at the event, with a portion of the proceeds donated to the Madison County Volunteer Lawyers Program. "The night was capped off by a brilliant introduction from Huntsville's own Homer Hickam.... Homer gave an elegant and dynamic speech, which kept the audience spellbound and was a very tough act to follow."




Super Bowl Winner: Portland's In Other Words

Some of the best commentary on this year's NFL Super Bowl came from In Other Words, Portland, Ore., the real-life model for Carrie Brownstein and Fred Armisen's Women & Women First Books on the popular IFC series Portlandia. In Other Words (@IOWBooks) was invited to live tweet the game on the show's Twitter account (@ifcportlandia). Just a few of the many highlights:

THEY'RE JOGGING ON TO THE FIELD! Have they been practicing this? I wonder if they have #SuperBowl prep sessions. #FeministBookstoreSaysWhat

pigskin. Is it vegan? is it kosher? Where did the pig grow up? I wanna see the farm. #FeministBookstoreSaysWhat #SuperBowl #portlandia

That #SuperBowl thing where they jump on each other? pile up? pile on? tackle pile? orgy? #FeministBookstoreSaysWhat #feminism #Portlandia

RETWEET if the sole reason you are watching the #SuperBowl is so you can tweet about sexist commercials. #feminism #Portlandia #NotBuyingIt

great time #superbowl tweeting from liberated @ifcportlandia acct. Its back in the hands of capitalists now: http://instagram.com/p/j7m_12FWqt/

After party? Anyone? @IOWbooks wants to go out. Where the parties at? And by "parties" of course we mean "feminist poetry slams".


The State of New Hampshire Bookselling

The Hippo surveyed the "upturn" in New Hampshire bookselling, citing Gibson's Bookstore's move to a larger location in Concord last summer; MainStreet BookEnds of Warner's new marketplace, art gallery and park amphitheater; RiverRun Bookstore's opening of a second store, in Kittery, Maine, and founding of Piscataqua Press; and Chris and Anna Miner's purchase of Morgan Hill Bookstore, New London, last year.

Michael Herrmann of Gibson's said, "I don't think it's a question of survival. The trick is to do an excellent job. The question should be, how do you make a really good bookstore that people want to come back to?"

Dan Chartrand, owner of Water Street Bookstore in Exeter, noted, "There are more stores opening. As we move toward the back end of the downtown, or rather, the beginning of the upturn, there's more financing for start-up stores."

Katharine Nevins of MainStreet BookEnds in Warner said of indies, "We're a fiercely independent bunch. We really take a lot of pride in running our businesses and helping the communities where we live. We give back to our community, and our community, in turn, supports us, keeps us here and really makes us what we are."


Media and Movies

Media Heat: Charlie Crist on Why The Party's Over

Tomorrow morning on Morning Joe: David B. Agus, author of A Short Guide to a Long Life (Simon & Schuster, $17.95, 9781476730950).

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Tomorrow on NPR's Diane Rehm Show: Geoff Dyer, author of The Contest of the Century: The New Era of Competition with China--and How America Can Win (Knopf, $26.95, 9780307960757).

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Tomorrow night on CNN's Piers Morgan Live: Charlie Crist, co-author of The Party's Over: How the Extreme Right Hijacked the GOP and I Became a Democrat (Dutton, $26.95, 9780525954415).

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Tomorrow night on CNN's Anderson Cooper 360: Su Meck, co-author of I Forgot to Remember: A Memoir of Amnesia (Simon & Schuster, $25, 9781451685817).


TV: Wolf Hall Casting

Damian Lewis (Homeland) is in talks to play King Henry VIII in the BBC/Masterpiece six-part miniseries adapted from Hilary Mantel's novels Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies. Deadline.com reported that the negotiations are complex and the "deal is not yet closed," but if it works out, Lewis would join a cast that includes Mark Rylance as Thomas Cromwell. Peter Kosminsky is directing a script by Peter Straughan (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy).


Movies: Scorsese Explores Silence, NYRB

Martin Scorsese's focus on bringing literature to the big screen continues with a pair of upcoming projects.

Liam Neeson will star in Silence, the long-awaited project based on the novel by Shusaku Endo. Deadline.com reported that production will begin in Taiwan later this year on the film, which has a script by Jay Cocks and Scorsese.

The director's untitled documentary (with David Tedeschi) about the New York Review of Books "has been added to the Berlin Film Festival's Berlinale Special line-up, where it will be shown as a work in progress, followed by a discussion with the filmmakers and key contributors," Variety reported.



Books & Authors

Awards: Pannell, B&N Great New Writers Nominees

Congratulations to the nominees for this year's WNBA Pannell Awards, which recognizes bookstores that "enhance their communities by bringing exceptional creativity to foster a love of reading in their young patrons." The nominees in the general bookstore category are:

Aaron's Books, Lititz, Pa.
Avid Bookshop, Athens, Ga.
Book Passage, Corte Madera, Calif.
Byrd's Books, Bethel, Conn.
Bookshop Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, Calif.
Changing Hands Bookstore, Tempe, Ariz.
Charis Books and More, Atlanta, Ga.
Community Book Center, New Orleans, La.
Devaney Doak & Garrett Booksellers, Farmington, Me.
Forest Books, Locust Valley, N.Y.
MainStreet BookEnds of Warner, Warner, N.H.
Maple St. Book Shop, New Orleans, La.
Newtonville Books, Newton Centre, Mass.
Octavia Books, New Orleans, La.
Page & Palette Bookstore, Fairhope, Ala.
Park Road Books, Charlotte, N.C.
Porter Square Books, Cambridge, Mass.
Riverwalk Books, Chelan, Wash.
University Bookstore, Seattle, Wash.
Vroman's Bookstore, Pasadena, Calif.
Watchung Booksellers, Montclair, N.J.
Watermark Books, Wichita, Kan.

In the children's specialty store category:

4 Kids Books & Toys, Zionsville, Ind.
Bank Street Bookstore, New York, N.Y.
Books & Cookies, Santa Monica, Calif.
Books of Wonder, New York, N.Y.
Children's Bookshop, Brookline, Mass.
Children's Book World, Los Angeles, Calif.
Hooray for Books!, Alexandria, Va.
The Voracious Reader, Larchmont, N.Y.

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Barnes & Noble has announced the six finalists for the 2013 Discover Great New Writers Awards. Winners in each category receive a $10,000 prize and a year of additional promotion from B&N. Second-place finalists receive $5,000, and third-place finalists $2,500. The finalists are:
 
Fiction:
We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo (Little, Brown)
Bobcat & Other Stories by Rebecca Lee (Algonquin Books)
A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra (Hogarth)

Nonfiction:
Wave by Sonali Deraniyagala (Knopf)
With or Without You by Domenica Ruta (Spiegel & Grau)
Son of a Gun by Justin St. Germain (Random House)

Winners will be announced on March 5.


Book Review

Book Review: Quesadillas

Quesadillas by Juan Pablo Villalobos, trans. by Rosalind Harvey (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $14 trade paper, 9780374533953, February 11, 2014)

It's a trick to use the f-word three times in a novel's first sentence and still be as charming and disarming as Juan Pablo Villalobos manages to be in the delightful Quesadillas. It's a swift, tight little family saga told by 13-year-old Oreo (short for Orestes) about his stubborn, hot-headed father and six brothers and sisters (Aristotle, Archilochus, Callimachus, Electra and the twins Pollux and Castor), all crammed into a tiny illegal house in 1987 on a hill in Mexico with a name that means "in the middle of f—ing nowhere." Soon, however, that rural hillside--where there are more cows than people and more priests than cows--will be transformed into the prosperous Olympus Heights, no matter whose dwelling is in the way.

Like Villalobos' first novel, Down the Rabbit Hole, Quesadillas is a child's skewed vision of life, but this time the story is much funnier, with an economic vision of Mexico from the bottom up that's alternately heartbreaking and hilarious, as when Oreo confesses to a priest, "Forgive me, Father, for being poor."

Propelling the family toward disaster is temperamental, foul-mouthed Father, who teaches citizenship at the local state school. Dinnertime in their crowded home is open warfare for the quesadillas, which vary in serving size and contents as the family's fortunes fluctuate. A huge, luxurious new home is constructed next to the family shoebox to accommodate three chubby blue-eyed people who smell nice and wear ironed clothes. The new Polish neighbor has become vastly wealthy by scientifically impregnating cows with high-quality bull sperm. When the five-year-old twins go missing, 15-year-old Aristotle becomes convinced they've been abducted by aliens and takes Oreo with him to burglarize the neighbor's pantry for supplies and then set out on a quest to rescue them. Blamed for the burglary, Oreo is forced to work on cattle insemination farms and plans revenge.

Riddled with hoaxes, scams and folk beliefs, laced with the proverbs of poverty ("God tightens the noose but doesn't strangle you"), Quesadillas is frequently laugh-out-loud funny. Populated by chanting revivalists and scheming con men, it's an effortless breeze of a black comedy, not lingering one word too long anywhere. For Villalobos, life is a festival of coincidences, and the novel concludes with all the threads of the story converging in a comic fantasy celebration of this family's colorful slide from very poor to even poorer yet. --Nick DiMartino

Shelf-Talker: A darkly comic story about a poor Mexican family in which two teenage brothers set off to find their missing twin siblings--possibly abducted by aliens.


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