Shelf Awareness for Monday, February 24, 2014


Harper: Only Killers and Thieves by Paul Howarth

Mira Books: Rosie Colored Glasses by Brianna Wolfson

Little Brown and Company: The Which Way Tree by Elizabeth Crook

Bloomsbury: Reign the Earth by A.C. Gaughen

Soho Crime: The Widows of Malabar Hill by Sujata Massey

Shadow Mountain: Christmas Jars Collector's Edition by Jason F. Wright

News

G Asset Management Makes Another B&N Offer

On Friday, G Asset Management, which has made several offers to buy parts of Barnes & Noble, made another overture, saying it wanted to buy 51% of the company for $22 a share or buy 51% of Nook operations for $5 a share. The offer caused B&N stock to rise initially about 10%, but because of doubts about the relatively unknown G Asset's funding and seriousness, B&N's price fell and closed on Friday at $17.69, up 5.4%.

Under the offer, B&N would be valued at about $1.3 billion. G Asset said that in November it had made an offer for B&N for $20 a share, which neither it nor the company made public. In February 2012, G Asset indicated that it had bought a 5% stake in B&N. The next month it offered to buy 51% of B&N's college bookstore division, a move that went nowhere.

Besides financial roadblocks for G Asset, B&N has several major shareholders whose agreement would be required. Chairman Len Riggio owns an estimated third of the company, and Liberty Media owns 16.6%. In addition, Microsoft and Pearson own significant stakes in the Nook division.

Last year, Riggio ended a possible purchase of B&N's bookstore operations, and the company has cut back its Nook division and no longer talks about spinning off either the bookstore or Nook divisions.


Sourcebooks Jabberwocky: The Very Very Very Long Dog by Julia Patton


WBN U.S.: Audios of Many Picks for Givers

World Book Night U.S. has entered a partnership with the Audio Publishers Association to give free audiobook downloads to the 25,000 WBN volunteer givers, including bookseller and librarian givers. Under the program, givers will be able to receive up to three audiobook downloads via APA member Audiobooks.com, and about two-thirds of WBN's 35 titles this year will be available. The downloads will be offered in March.

WBN U.S. executive director Carl Lennertz commented, "Our givers are VERY passionate book people, and many have set a goal for themselves of reading all the WBN picks this year! This will help them reach that goal--and to widen the dialogue about these great books with book recipients on April 23. Thank you, APA, Audiobooks.com, all the participating publishers, and, of course, our amazing givers."

Anthony Goff, v-p at Hachette Audio and an APA board member, said: "We are so happy that the caring and generous WBN givers can avail themselves of some great listening."


Siglio Press: The Stampographer by Vincent Sardon


Toronto's Cookbook Store to Close

After 31 years in business, the Cookbook Store in Toronto is closing. Quillblog reported that in October, owner Josh Josephson and manager Alison Fryer had said the bookstore's Yonge Street building was being sold and they were considering "a number of options to relocate the store."

In a statement last week, however, they announced: "We have considered new locations but after much searching it has not proven feasible at this time." Josephson and Fryer also cited the "devastating impact on our sales" from local road and utilities construction, extreme weather, online competition and the sale of the building for condominium development.


PuddleDancer Press: Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life, 3rd Edition: Life-Changing Tools for Healthy Relationships by Marshall B. Rosenberg


Obituary Notes: Ali Gunn, Rosalind Paige Cole

Literary agent Ali Gunn, who worked at Curtis Brown for a number of years before leaving to set up her own company, Gunn Media, died last Thursday, the Bookseller reported.

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Rosalind Paige Cole, a longtime literary agent, died on February 20 of cancer. She was 88.

In a career spanning six five decades, Roz Cole represented many well-known authors, actors, artists and celebrities, including Andy Warhol (The Philosophy of Andy Warhol), Errol Flynn (My Wicked, Wicked Ways), Olivia de Havilland, Brendan Behan (Confessions of an Irish Rebel), Jolie Gabor, Doris Lily, George Rodrigue (Blue Dog), Charlie Chaplin, Jr., George Sanders and Sybil Leek.

She was the author of many books, including The Waldorf Astoria Cookbook, The Dog That Lived at the Waldorf, Of Soda Bread and Guinness, Europe the Second Time Around and All Around the Town.

She also founded and produced the magazine Cookbook Digest, was an artist who had seven one-woman exhibitions and was a horse breeder and owner.

At 22, she signed with MGM Records, which billed her as "Singing Star Rosalind Paige." She toured the country performing in nightclubs, appeared on television and made records. She married her manager, Carlton Cole, who was 25 years her senior and died in 1959.

Cole lived for many years with her mother, literary agent Ethel Paige, in the Algonquin Hotel, before moving into the Waldorf-Astoria in 1961. There she became the longest residing guest at 53 years.

A memorial service will be held in June.


Freeform: The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton


Notes

Image of the Day: Peter Temple and 'Crime in the City'

On a recent trip to Melbourne, Australia, NPR's Linda Wertheimer interviewed author Peter Temple in the Napier pub in Fitzroy, a setting in Temple's Jack Irish mystery series. The interview will air this summer on Morning Edition as part of NPR's "Crime in the City" series.

It's a busy time for Temple. As of next month, with the re-release by Text Publishing of Temple's fourth Jack Irish thriller, White Dog, all of his books will be in print in the U.S. Temple's standalone, Shooting Star, was published by Text this month. A Jack Irish television series, starring Guy Pearce, is currently streaming on Acorn TV.


Fiction Addiction's 'Trust Fall' Title Revealed

Last week, our Cool Idea of the Day showcased "Trust Fall," a promotion conceived by Jill Hendrix, owner of Fiction Addiction, Greenville, S.C. In January, she had sent an e-mail to customers sharing her enthusiasm for an unnamed, upcoming debut novel as well as her concern that readers might not be inclined to pick it up because of the title or cover. To encourage them to read a bit outside their comfort zones, she created a "Trust Fall" offer in which they could order the book before pub date with a money-back guarantee "if you read it but don't love it as much as we have."  

Now we can reveal the Trust Fall title: The Martian by Andy Weir (Crown), which is currently ranked high on both the IndieBound and New York Times bestseller lists. At Fiction Addiction, "So far we've netted 62 copies of The Martian, most of which were done through the Trust Fall promotion," said Hendrix. "We've had one return by one of my older female customers who is also a minister's wife. I was expecting that return and possibly one other from the moment the customers purchased."

She added that most of the feedback has been very positive. In addition to comments mentioned here last week, others included: "I hated it cuz it had me up until 2 a.m. last night! You were right that I never would have picked this up on my own." And: "I'm telling everyone at work about this book!"

Hendrix also noted that "62 copies is a lot for us if we're not hosting an author event. In comparison I've sold 70 copies of The Death of Santini by Pat Conroy and 28 copies of The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert and those have been over the course of five months. I think I'm going to survey the participants at the end of March and see whether there would be any interest in this as an ongoing idea... perhaps the Trust Fall Bookclub."


Baring It All for the Freedom to Read

A group of French publishers and booksellers stripped and posed for a discreetly indiscreet photograph "in a pointed protest towards the leader of the country's conservative UMP party, Jean-François Copé," who had publicly criticized the children's book Everybody Get Naked recently, the Local reported, adding that the attack was part of an ultraconservative effort to compel public libraries to remove "children's books the extremists viewed as promoting gender theory or the idea one's sex is flexible and not determined by birth."


90-Year-Old Filipina Bookseller's 'Fierce Dedication'

In 1942, Socorro Ramos and her husband, Jose, opened a small bookstall in an old section of downtown Manila. "Who opens a bookstore during a war?" asked Mitch Albom in a Detroit Free Press profile of the 90-year-old bookseller whose "fierce dedication to the book business is reflective of an attitude in the Philippines that writers so appreciate: a deep love of stories and words. The literacy rate here is over 95%, despite roughly a quarter of the population living below the poverty line."

After their street was nearly destroyed by fire in 1945, they opened another bookstall, Albom wrote. Three years later, a typhoon destroyed that structure and all the merchandise, so they rebuilt once again and "threw all their time and money into a new building, She called it the National Book Store because, she says, 'I saw the name on the cash register, "National," and I thought, 'That is nice.' "

The National Book Store is now the largest book and stationery chain in the Philippines and Ramos "still runs the show, coming into the office every day," Albom wrote.

"She still signs all the checks," said her grandson Miguel, who is the company's marketing director. "She still makes the big decisions. And if she wants something, it doesn't matter what anyone says--not the board, not anybody--she gets it."


Media and Movies

Media Heat: Debbie Stier (and Son) on the Today Show

This morning on the Today Show: Mayim Bialik, author of Mayim's Vegan Table: More than 100 Great-Tasting and Healthy Recipes from My Family to Yours (Da Capo, $21.99, 9780738217048).

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Today on Fresh Air: Julia Angwin, author of Dragnet Nation: A Quest for Privacy, Security, and Freedom in a World of Relentless Surveillance (Times Books, $28, 9780805098075).

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Today on NPR's Diane Rehm Show: Doug Most, author of The Race Underground: Boston, New York, and the Incredible Rivalry That Built America's First Subway (St. Martin's Press, $27.99, 9780312591328).

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Today on CNBC's Kudlow Report: Zachary Karabell, author of The Leading Indicators: A Short History of the Numbers That Rule Our World (Simon & Schuster, $27, 9781451651201).

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Tonight on the Daily Show: Hooman Majd, author of The Ministry of Guidance Invites You to Not Stay: An American Family in Iran (Doubleday, $26.95, 9780385535328).

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Tomorrow morning on the Today Show: Debbie Stier, publicist, marketer, editor and publisher extraordinaire and author of The Perfect Score Project: Uncovering the Secrets of the SAT (Harmony, $25, 9780307956675).

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Tomorrow on NPR's Diane Rehm Show: Su Meck, co-author of I Forgot to Remember: A Memoir of Amnesia (Simon & Schuster, $25, 9781451685817).

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Tomorrow night on the Daily Show: Michio Kaku, author of The Future of the Mind: The Scientific Quest to Understand, Enhance, and Empower the Mind (Doubleday, $28.95, 9780385530828).


Movies: Motherless Brooklyn

Edward Norton will star in and direct his own adaptation of Jonathan Lethem's Motherless Brooklyn. Deadline.com reported that while the book "is contemporary, Norton has set the story in New York in 1954, a time of great change in the city." RatPac Entertainment (Brett Ratner and James Packer) is financing the movie for a late 2014 production start in New York.

"We all know Edward Norton is one of the most compelling actors of our generation, but I also know he's an exceptional writer and filmmaker," said Ratner, who directed the actor in the 2002 adaptation of the Thomas Harris's Red Dragon. "Edward's script has melded elements of Jonathan Lethem's terrific novel with an original story that at once feels classic and entirely fresh. And with Edward playing Lionel Essrog, the brilliant private detective with Tourette's Syndrome, this will be a tour de force performance."



Books & Authors

Awards: Red House Children's Book; Sheridan Morley

The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey won the Red House Children's Book Award, the Guardian reported. The prize, run by the Federation of Children's Book Groups, is voted for by young readers from a shortlist drawn up by children's book groups across the U.K. This year more than 53,000 votes were cast.  

Yancey's book garnered the overall prize after being chosen the best work in the "older readers" category. Other category winners were Atticus Claw Breaks the Law by Jennifer Gray (younger readers) and Superworm by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler (younger children).

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Finalists have been named for the £2,000 (about US$3,330) Sheridan Morley Prize for Theatre Biography, which honors "the best biography, autobiography or diary in theatre or show business published in the preceding calendar year," the Bookseller reported. The winner will be announced March 5 in London. This year's shortlisted titles are Stage Blood by Michael Blakemore, The Rules of Acting by Michael Simkins and Olivier by Philip Ziegler.


Book Review

Review: A Garden of Marvels

A Garden of Marvels: How We Discovered That Flowers Have Sex, Leaves Eat Air, and Other Secrets of Plants by Ruth Kassinger (Morrow, $25.99 hardcover, 9780062048998, February 25, 2014)

Ruth Kassinger (Paradise Under Glass) was frustrated by the kinds of mishaps with which many amateur gardeners are familiar: failures to thrive, unexplained deaths, mysterious midseason droopings. So she did what any reasonable science writer would do: research. How do plants really work? In hunting for a simple, layperson's guide to botany, however, she came up short. Particularly in seeking "the story of the first discoverers of the basic facts of plant life"--that is, a history of botany--she could find only scholarly texts for which "Botany 101 is definitely a prerequisite." From these frustrations was born the masterful, engaging A Garden of Marvels.

Kassinger's greatest strength is unquestionably her quirky, conversational tone. She begins with a murder mystery (spoiler: the victim is a kumquat tree) and from these delightful opening lines, even the most science-averse reader will be hooked. While A Garden of Marvels does contain the odd gardening tip, it is more concerned with Kassinger's travels: she visits farms, conservatories and laboratories around the nation, encountering diverse and eccentric characters she describes with humor and skill.

Her research into human history is likewise revealing: she points out that religious and societal philosophies caused our ignorance of and lack of interest in botany until very recently, and highlights those few pioneering minds whose experiments, observations and strange machineries caught us up. Darwin gets a chapter, and is accompanied by myriad little-known early scientists, all brought to life by Kassinger's enthusiasm. A handful of relevant illustrations by Eva Ruhl assist along the way.

Kassinger is properly amazed at the science she discovers in nature, as well as the men ("and they were all men") in history who broke ground with their scientific studies. For some readers, though, she may be a trifle overenthusiastic about the possibilities of genetic modifications of plant life and dismissive of concerns regarding these technologies--although the genetic possibilities in the simple garden petunia are positively mind-boggling.

Topics like plant sex, the history of scientific exploration and the fundamentals of genomics are all equally accessible in Kassinger's capable hands. That she makes botany so approachable is a feat; that she makes it downright enthralling is almost as miraculous as an adorable photosynthesizing sea slug. --Julia Jenkins

Shelf Talker: A charmingly accessible history of botany, full of the strange and wondrous, for readers intimidated by science.


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