Shelf Awareness for Thursday, February 27, 2014


Penguin Books: The Dying Game by Asa Avdic

Sourcebooks Fire: Before I Let Go by Marieke Nijkamp

Tarcherperigee: Men & Dogs by Alice Chaygneaud-Dupuy and Marie-Eva Chopin / Rescued by Peter Zheutlin

Random House: An American Family: A Memoir of Hope and Sacrifice by Khizr Khan

Chicago Review Press: The Sunken Gold: A Story of World War I Espionage and the Greatest Treasure Salvage in History by Joseph A. Williams

Park Row Books: Hanna Who Fell from the Sky by Christopher Meades

Quotation of the Day

Indie Bookseller on the Future: 'I Will Be Grateful'

"As a bookseller for over 20 years, I am forced to think about and adapt as best I can to constant change. To extinction, however, one does not adapt: one succumbs. The question is, which is it to be? Bookshop proprietors have been worrying about their own demise since the first appearance of the newspaper. Movies and television and electronic games all presented new threats, while more recently it is the online world of virtual text, amusement, instant answers and distance socializing that some think has booksellers doomed. What is the future for books? Many hazard predictions and have ideas, but no one really knows. ...

"It could be that I am one of the last of a vanishing breed. If that's the way things turn out, I will be grateful to the end of my days for such a wonderful experience: my own bookstore, surrounded by books, meeting strangers, making friends, helping customers, and getting to know writers in this world we shared as the 20th century turned to the 21st on planet Earth."

--Pamela Grath, owner of Dog Ears Books, Northport, Mich., on her Books in Northport blog

G.P. Putnam's Sons: The Salt Line by Holly Goddard Jones


News

More on B&N: Digital Share 20%; Weather Dings Sales

Among highlights from Barnes & Noble's conference call with analysts yesterday, following the release of third-quarter results (Wall Street liked those results: yesterday B&N shares closed at $18.47, up 4.2%):

B&N has trimmed its Nook staff by 190 through attrition and layoffs, leaving it with 500 people, with more cuts possible. The company's Nook strategy is focused on turning around its sales decline in content. (One measure of that decline: the company's share of the e-book market has fallen to an estimated 20% from a range of 25%-27%.) With the support of partner Microsoft, B&N is building "an extensive international catalogue" in more than 30 countries, according to CEO Michael Huseby. It's also "actively testing" combined digital and physical book offerings. B&N wants to be able to offer "all formats" to customers. "Having a digital offering is vital to our mission and our relevance as booksellers," Huseby said.

At B&N's trade stores, holiday sales were helped by what Mitchell Klipper, CEO of the B&N Retail Group, called a "particularly rich" lineup of titles, including Things That Matter by Charles Krauthammer, Sycamore Row by John Grisham, David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell, Hard Luck by Jeff Kinney and--"leading the pack"--the Divergent series by Veronica Roth. The company's educational toys and games and gift businesses all continued to grow, with comp-store sales of educational toys and games up 12%.

Klipper also emphasized the effect of this winter's weather on B&N business, saying, "As a national retailer, we never hide behind weather, but this winter has been the exception. We've never had as many store closures as we did this winter season. It's impacted our stores from east to west and as far south as Atlanta." He added that the continuing bad weather has already "negatively impacted" sales this quarter, which started January 26.

Klipper painted an optimistic picture of B&N at a time when printed books are holding their own against digital titles. "Improving bookstore sales trends during fiscal year 2014 indicated that customers are reigniting their love affair with physical books, and they're coming back to our booksellers more often," he said. "This trend supports industry reports that suggest e-book growth has moderated and was essentially flat in 2013. As this trend continues, we believer we're well positioned to serve customers on whatever platform they choose to connect with us."

B&N closed 10 trade bookstores in the quarter. During the fiscal year so far, it has closed 15 stores and opened three.

G Asset Management's offer last week to buy the company or its Nook operations is "not a proposal worthy of further discussion or action by us," according to Huseby, who noted that G Asset apparently has just one employee, "extremely limited financial means" and no debt or equity financing to support a bid of more than $650 million for B&N.


KidsBuzz for the Week of 06.26.17


NYC's Van Alen Bookstore Project to End

Van Alen Books, which opened in 2011 "to the hurrahs of New York's architectural community, will be closing its doors this spring," the Architect's Newspaper reported.

Created by LOT-EK Architecture & Design for the storefront of the Van Alen Institute's building on West 22nd St., "the yellow space housed the city's last remaining bookstore dedicated to architecture and played host to an array of panels and events. In its place will come a new space, designed by Collective-LOK, signaling yet another era in the long history of this admired institution."

LOT-EK's Ada Tolla said, "When we began the project in 2010, we thought it represented a really interesting moment for Van Alen. The transition from their sixth floor offices to the street level was a reflection of their mission, which is very much focused on the public realm.... The idea, at both the square and the bookstore were to demonstrate that dedication to the street.

"It is a little bit sweet and sour for us. On one end, it showed us that this experiment worked, as it ended up staying a lot longer than expected. It was also very successful, and the coming change is a testament to that success because it showed Van Alen that they need to be on the ground, in the city."


Geek & Sundry: The Punch Escrow by Tal M. Klein


Resort-Town Indies' Resort-Town Retreat

Booksellers from the New Atlantic Independent Booksellers Association gathered this weekend in Manasquan, N.J., on the Jersey Shore, for a two-day seminar on issues that indies in resort-town locations face. Rita Maggio, owner of Manasquan indie BookTowne, closed her store on Sunday afternoon to host the first day of discussions. All told, there were 18 booksellers from indies in the Mid-Atlantic region, along with NAIBA president Margot Sage-EL, owner of Watchung Booksellers in Montclair, N.J.; NAIBA executive director Eileen Dengler; Kerrie Leonard, also of NAIBA; and Tim Hepp, sales manager at Simon & Schuster.

The talks were as wide-ranging as they were in-depth; topics included demographics and economic trends as they pertained to the book-buying population; managing cash flow both in and out of season; staffing; the differences between catering to year-round residents and seasonal visitors; the cost-effectiveness of frequent buyers and rewards programs; best practices for working with self-published authors; the benefits of hosting book clubs; selling e-books; how to advertise and plan events both in season and out of season; and effective ways to work with community businesses, among others.

Several of the stores in attendance bolster their staff in the summer, to accommodate the influx of visitors; for some shops, managing the summer booksellers can be difficult.

Attendees after dinner.

"A week or two before Labor Day, people start checking out," related Jack McKeown, president of Books & Books of Westhampton Beach, Westhampton Beach, N.Y. Like many stores in beach communities, the busiest months for Books & Books are those from Memorial Day to Labor Day. "The two weeks leading into Labor Day are so critical for business. We started a summer stay bonus, for staff who work through Labor Day. Everybody's eligible, even full-time staff. It's proved very effective."

"It is probably the most important decision you make regarding your store," said Maggio, also speaking about staffing. "For me, the staff member I hire must love books, and love people, and do the job the way I want it done. There has to be one message that comes across, no matter who is behind the counter. It cannot be night and day between who's working; we must all have the same message. We're very different in many ways, but what each person can bring to the store is critically important."

First-day discussions at BookTowne.

On Sunday night, the attendees crossed the street from BookTowne to Remington's, where they had dinner in the company of authors Marie Rutkoski (The Winner's Curse, First Second Books), Sarah Pekkanen (Catching Air, Atria) and Susan Coll, a bookseller at Politics & Prose in Washington, D.C., and author of The Stager (Farrar, Straus & Giroux). After dinner, visitors from out of town retired to the Normandy Inn in Spring Lake, and sessions resumed after breakfast there the next morning.

Mary Beth Pelley, who handles marketing and events for BookTowne, led off the discussion about events. A large portion of her job, she said, was to make sure that any visiting author had a fun, memorable experience at BookTowne and would then report back to publishers and other authors.

"Do whatever it takes; you need to make this trip worth it," insisted Pelley. "If you're in a small, sleepy town, you don't want to be overlooked. You have to make yourself memorable." --Alex Mutter

photos courtesy of BookTowne


Counterpoint: Gangster Nation by Tod Goldberg



Notes

Image of the Day: Wedding Bells at Parnassus

In her Notes from Ann column on the website for Parnassus Books, Nashville, Tenn., Ann Patchett wrote about the "surprise wedding" of Niki Castle, a longtime friend, events and marketing director at the store and "the person who decided I should write a book of essays, and badgered me and nagged me until I came up with This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage."

When Castle wanted to hold an engagement party in the store, Patchett agreed--so long as Castle and her fiancé, Andrew Coffman, got married at the party. She explained: "Many years ago I used to write for Bridal Guide, and the whole wedding industry is one I don't have warm feelings for. Weddings, though sometimes joyful, are also ridiculously expensive and filled with pressures and expectations and burdensome traditions. In short, they are often more work than they are fun. Niki and Andrew are fun people, and I wanted them to have a fun wedding."

The trio told only Brenda Wynn, "Nashville's beloved County Clerk who would perform the ceremony, and the brilliant Sharon Glassmeyer, who attended to all the details of the party so perfectly beautifully."

Then, last Saturday, Patchett continued, "after the store closed, Niki slipped into the back and put on a wedding dress her mother made, while Andrew was making a toast to a crowd of family and friends and booksellers. Five minutes later they were married. The guests cheered and clapped and cried. They were not only surprised, they were thrilled to have witnessed such happiness. We are so grateful to Niki and Andrew for letting us have that beautiful memory be part of the history of Parnassus."


Powell's Books: 'The ONE Thing You Must Do' in Oregon

"If you could only tell a visitor to do ONE thing in your whole state, what would it be?" asked the Huffington Post, which offered a bucket list for each of the 50 U.S. States, including this sage bit of advice for Oregon: "Get lost in Powell's City of Books. This bookstore in Portland claims it's the largest one in the world... and considering 1.6 acres of bookshelves and nine color-coded rooms, we're inclined to believe them."


Avid Bookshop: 'Favorite Local Business' Again

Congratulations to Janet Geddis and Avid Bookshop, Athens, Ga., which was voted Favorite Local Business for the second consecutive year by readers of Flagpole magazine, which wrote: "There's just something about a locally owned bookshop that gives a place a touch of class. It connects you to the town and to the world." Avid was also runner-up in the "Store to Buy a Gift for Her" and "Store to Buy a Gift for Her" categories.


Personnel Changes at Image Comics, Simon & Schuster

At Image Comics:

Jennifer de Guzman has been promoted to director of trade book sales. She was formerly PR & marketing director.

Kat Salazar is now director of PR & marketing. She was formerly PR & marketing coordinator.

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Effective March 3, Rio Cortez is joining the Simon & Schuster Children's Division as sales manager, children's, and will work primarily with the field, telemarketing and telesales groups. She has worked at Penguin Putnam for five years, most recently as assistant manager of sales planning and analysis.


Media and Movies

Movies: Solomon Northup's Descendants

Five generations from the family tree of Solomon Northup, author of the 12 Years a Slave, gathered in Los Angeles, New York and Washington, D.C., as part of the Hollywood Reporter's Oscars issue. Director Steve McQueen, whose film adaptation has garnered nine Oscar nominations, "surprised some of his biggest fans" during "an emotional photo shoot."

"Many in Northup's direct lineage have known about their ancestor's odyssey from an early age--he has been the subject of many a school project--and several return to his hometown of Saratoga Springs, N.Y., annually for the city's Solomon Northup Day, which just celebrated its 15th year," THR wrote.


Media Heat: Cameron Diaz's Body Book

This morning on Imus in the Morning: Mike Lupica, author of Game Changers Book 3: Heavy Hitters (Scholastic, $16.99, 9780545381840).

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Tomorrow on HLN's Jane Velez Mitchell and MSNBC's Reid Report with Joy Reid: Lisa Bloom, author of Suspicion Nation: The Inside Story of the Trayvon Martin Injustice and Why We Continue to Repeat It (Counterpoint, $25, 9781619023277).

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Tomorrow night on the Tonight Show: Cameron Diaz, author of The Body Book: The Law of Hunger, the Science of Strength, and Other Ways to Love Your Amazing Body (HarperWave, $25.99, 9780062252746).


This Weekend on Book TV: Peniel Joseph and Stokely

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, March 1
12 p.m. Book TV visits Salem, Ore., to interview several of the city's authors and tour its literary sites. (Re-airs Sunday at 9:30 a.m.)

7 p.m. Joshua Zeitz, author of Lincoln's Boys: John Hay, John Nicolay, and the War for Lincoln's Image (Viking, $29.95, 9780670025664). (Re-airs Sunday at 10 p.m.)

8 p.m. Doug Most, author of The Race Underground: Boston, New York, and the Incredible Rivalry that Built America's First Subway (St. Martin's, $27.99, 9780312591328), at Brookline Booksmith, Brookline, Mass.

9 p.m. Annie Jacobsen, author of Operation Paperclip: The Secret Intelligence Program That Brought Nazi Scientists to America (Little, Brown, $30, 9780316221047), at Book Passage, Corte Madera, Calif. (Re-airs Sunday at 4:15 p.m.)

10 p.m. After Words. Jane Hall interviews Gabriel Sherman, author of The Loudest Voice in the Room: How the Brilliant, Bombastic Roger Ailes Built Fox News--and Divided a Country (Random House, $28, 9780812992854). (Re-airs Sunday at 9 p.m. and Monday at 3 a.m.)

Sunday, March 2
12 a.m. Sean Strub, author of Body Counts: A Memoir of Politics, Sex, AIDS and Survival (Scribner, $30, 9781451661958), at Books Inc.'s Castro store, San Francisco.

3 p.m. Paul Kengor, author of 11 Principles of a Reagan Conservative (Beaufort Books, $16.95, 9780825306990). (Re-airs Sunday at 10:45 p.m.)

12 p.m. In Depth. Peniel Joseph, author of Stokely: A Life (Basic Civitas Books, $29.99, 9780465013630), joins Book TV for a live interview. Viewers can participate in the discussion by calling in during the program or submitting questions to booktv@c-span.org or via Twitter (@BookTV). (Re-airs Monday at 12 a.m.)

10 p.m. James Barrat, author of Our Final Invention: Artificial Intelligence and the End of the Human Era (Thomas Dunne, $26.99, 9780312622374), at the Annapolis Book Store, Annapolis, Md.


Books & Authors

Attainment: New Titles Out Next Week

Selected new titles appearing next Tuesday, March 4:

The Bright Continent: Breaking Rules and Making Change in Modern Africa by Dayo Olopade (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $26, 9780547678313) explores the optimistic state of economic development in Africa.

Redeployment by Phil Klay (Penguin Press, $26.95, 9781594204999) is a short story collection about the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Above by Isla Morley (Gallery, $24.99, 9781476731520) follows an abducted woman trapped in a survivalist's bunker.

Night in Shanghai by Nicole Mones (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $25, 9780547516172) follows an American jazz musician in pre-World War II Shanghai.

Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson (Tor, $28.99, 9780765326362) continues the Stormlight Archive fantasy series.

Natural Causes: A Detective Inspector McLean Novel by James Oswald (Mariner, $13.95, 9780544319486) is the U.S. debut of the popular U.K. series.


IndieBound: Other Indie Favorites

From last week's Indie bestseller lists, available at IndieBound.org, here are the recommended titles, which are also Indie Next Great Reads:

Hardcovers
Dept. of Speculation: A Novel by Jenny Offill (Knopf, $22.95, 9780385350815). "I found myself gasping at the sheer beauty and conciseness of Offill's sentences in this portrait of a marriage. Dept. of Speculation can be devoured quickly, or readers can linger in it over many sittings. Covering the topics of love, loneliness, grief, joy, fidelity, beauty, depression, mania, motherhood, and writing, the shifting points of view are subtle yet profound, and despite the darkness and sadness of the story, when I closed the book I was left more alert and attentive, and feeling more alive. Highly recommended!" --Janet Geddis, Avid Bookshop, Athens, Ga.

Orfeo: A Novel by Richard Powers (Norton, $26.95, 9780393240825). "Orfeo is the kind of novel that creeps slowly into a reader's consciousness and makes a home there. A beautiful, cerebral book that's as concerned with the past and how the decisions made by protagonist Peter Els shaped his personal philosophies and relationships and how music played a role in it all, as it is with the very real present and how Peter's hobbyist interest in DNA makes him an accidental bioterrorism threat. Orfeo is an intelligent and incredibly moving portrait of the role of art in both one man's life and society as a whole. Stunning!" --Lauren Wiser, Left Bank Books, St. Louis, Mo.

Paperback
Frances and Bernard: A Novel by Carlene Bauer (Mariner, $14.95, 9780544105171). "The main characters in this lovely gem of a novel are loosely based on Flannery O'Connor and Robert Lowell. The story is told entirely in the form of letters--not an easy feat, but Bauer makes it work beautifully. Frances and Bernard meet in the late 1950s at a writer's colony, and though they don't immediately click, Bernard sends Frances a letter that begins an intense philosophical, spiritual, and physical relationship. A true treat for readers!" --Cody Morrison, Square Books, Oxford, Miss.

For Ages 9 to 12
The Carpet People by Terry Pratchett (Clarion Books, $17.99, 9780544212473). "With all the charm of Pratchett's Tiffany Aching series, The Carpet People will be fascinating to his long-time fans and will garner new ones as well. Written when Pratchett was only 17, this humorous young adult novel grew out of his weekly column in a local newspaper. Illustrated by the author, The Carpet People tells the story of the Munrung tribe. Their village is destroyed by the Fray, which sets two Munrung brothers on a series of adventures in their tiny world. Enjoy this funny, slightly strange glimpse into the genius of Terry Pratchett!" --Michele Harvey, BookSmart, Morgan Hill, Calif.

[Many thanks to IndieBound and the ABA!]


Book Review

Review: Kinder Than Solitude

Kinder Than Solitude by Yiyun Li (Random House, $26 hardcover, 9781400068142, February 25, 2014)

Yiyun Li 's second novel, Kinder Than Solitude, reconstructs the intense friendship of three Beijing teenagers in the late 1980s and studies how their youthful--and ambiguously culpable--connection to the poisoning of a young woman still reverberates 20 years later. Boyang, the only member of the trio who resides in China as an adult, manages his development deals and love life with analytical dispassion while dutifully continuing to visit brain-damaged Shaoai; Moran and Ruyu attempt to quarantine themselves (separately) in American marriages and self-effacing careers. Narrated from the points of view of the three protagonists, Kinder Than Solitude executes a quadruple play: it's an attempted-murder mystery, a soft satire of modern mores across two cultures, a psychological exploration of tragedy's aftermath and, most trenchantly, a vivid re-creation of adolescent aspiration and claustrophobic social dynamics in the era of the Tiananmen Square protests.

Although masterfully composed, the first chapter is set two decades after the poisoning and introduces more names and relationships and heaviness--including the lonely cremation of Shaoai--than a reader can easily process from a cold start (its literary power is best appreciated upon return). Once the second chapter reverts to Ruyu's arrival at Beijing's train station at the age of 15, Kinder Than Solitude alternates productively between the teenage and the adult timelines. The novel's momentum accelerates as the teenage action nips closer and closer to the circumstantial clues surrounding the poisoning while, in the adults' timeline, their older selves destabilize in reaction to Shaoai's long-delayed death.

Kinder Than Solitude's only underrepresented ingredient is sex: for all their yearnings, the teens come across as extraordinarily chaste in deed and thought; as adults they remain resolutely mum about the distinctiveness of their sexual relationships. Even 37-year-old Boyang, a "diamond bachelor" whose romantic negotiations with striving young women from the provinces are rendered with impressive psychological intricacy, appears practically gelded on the page.

However, there's certainly no shortage of rote raunch in contemporary fiction and Li, the recipient of a 2010 MacArthur "genius" fellowship, offers a rarer pleasure: plentiful astute human characterization. Kinder Than Solitude teems with memorable individuals of all ages whose actions spring from their traits. Li also enhances the reader's surmising of responsibility for Shaoai's poisoning by subtly realigning sympathy and suspicion from one chapter to the next.

In one of the novel's many aphorisms, Li writes, "A secret that never heals makes a person, however close, a stranger, or worse, an intimate, an enemy." The secret that binds Boyang, Ruyu and Moran is presented with so much complex causality that even the reader experiences the contagion of implication. --Holloway McCandless, blogger at Litagogo: A Guide to Free Literary Podcasts

Shelf Talker: After the short stories of Gold Boy, Emerald Girl, Li returns to the novel to portray the indelibility of teenage experience and the loneliness that comes with secrets.


The Bestsellers

Top-Selling Self-Published Titles

The bestselling self-published books last week as compiled by IndieReader.com:

1. Give in to Me by K.M. Scott
2. The Ex Games by J.S. Cooper
3. The Ex Games 2 by J.S. Cooper
4. The Ex Games 3 by J.S. Cooper and Helen Cooper
5. Texas Heroes: Volume 1 by Jean Brashear
6. The Fat Woman Mystery by Sandra Noble
7. The Titan Series: Military Romance Box Set by Cristin Harber
8. Stripped (The Ferro Family) by H.M Ward
9. The Guestbook by Andrea Hurst
10. Mini Habits: Smaller Habits, Bigger Results by Stephen Guise

[Many thanks to IndieReader.com!]

Disney-Hyperion: Serafina and the Splintered Heart (Serafina # 3) by Robert Beatty
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