Also published on this date: Wednesday, March 5, 2014: Maximum Shelf: The Good Spy

Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, March 5, 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

L.A. Times Festival of Books Becomes Amazon Affiliate

Yesterday when the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books unveiled its list of authors scheduled to appear at this year's event April 12-13, independent booksellers in the area were shocked to see "buy" buttons next to the author names that click through to Amazon. Although the e-tailer is not listed as a LATFOB sponsor or exhibitor, the Festival has quietly become an Amazon affiliate, earning a commission on book sales by the e-tailer originating from its website.

"I was alarmed to see the buy buttons and even more alarmed because so many local booksellers exhibit at the festival," said Mary Williams, events coordinator at Skylight Books. "The Festival of Books is a huge part of the L.A. book scene--but then, so is the L.A. bookselling community. We'd like to see the festival support us like we try to support the festival."

Historically, the L.A. Times Festival--with a program that features literary lions along with up-and-coming authors and draws 200,000 people over one weekend--has been like a second Christmas for participating independent stores. Even when Barnes & Noble was a major sponsor, the organizers of the festival made sure to spread the wealth of author signing book sales among all exhibiting booksellers.

Andrea Vuleta, executive director of the Southern California Independent Booksellers Association, said participating member stores are "disheartened" by the move.

In response, officials at the LATBF said, "The Los Angeles Times Festival of Books is proud to have worked with writers, publishers and booksellers of all kinds over the past 18 years. We look forward to continuing our tradition of celebrating the written word in all its forms, and connecting the Festival's large and diverse audience with the authors and books that they love to read, for years to come.

"Today we unveiled the 2014 Festival of Books website with new artwork and initial information about this year's event, which includes our current affiliate program with the Amazon marketplace. We will be adding to and updating the site with programming and additional e-commerce programs as we countdown to April 12 & 13."

"These kinds of decisions... are happening every day across the country," said Williams at Skylight. "This is the biggest book event of the year and it should be ours--Los Angeles's--not Amazon's." --Bridget Kinsella


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


Linda Matthews Retiring from Chicago Review Press, IPG

Effective today, Linda Matthews is retiring as acting director of Chicago Review Press and Independent Publishers Group. She was the fourth employee to join the press, when she started in 1975 as an editor. She later became publisher and director and in recent years focused in part on HR matters.

Curt Matthews, IPG's CEO and Matthews's husband, said in part in a company e-mail: "Linda was a truly gifted editor, the sort of editor who could transform a page of sloppy prose into something worth reading by making perhaps only three precise changes. Over her career she has edited hundreds of books."

She also has written several books: The Balancing Act: A Career and a Baby and Middling Folk: Three Seas, Three Centuries, One Scots-Irish Family. In retirement, she plans to write another, with the tentative title of Voices of the Loyal South, focused on the claims courts that considered financial compensation for people who had lived in Confederate territory during the Civil War, had suffered damage by Union troops and could show that they had never approved of secession.

Matthews commented: "This company has been one of the big engagements of my life.... It has been a very fine thing, being part of CRP, Inc." She said she looks forward to free time, new projects and outings with grandchildren.

Exactly a year ago, another longtime IPG executive, Mark Suchomel, abruptly left the company. He had been president for 15 years, and had joined Chicago Review Press in 1986. He founded and is now head of Legato Publishers Group, which is an affiliate of Perseus's Publishers Group West.


Binc Foundation: Helping Booksellers #MoreThanEver Donation Campaign


Times Publishing Correspondent Going West

New York Times publishing correspondent Julie Bosman is leaving the post to become Midwest correspondent for the paper, Capital New York reported.

Bosman has been in charge of the paper's publishing beat for the past four years. She joined the paper in 2002 as Maureen Dowd's news assistant and went on to cover the 2008 presidential race, education and metro news. For the past several decades, the Times has rotated reporters through the publishing post. No word yet on a replacement, who will likely come from somewhere else in the Times--and move on in a few years.


Page Street Kids: Beneath the Haunting Sea by Joanna Meyer


Binc Foundation Wants to Survey You

To gather information about overall awareness of the services it provides, improvements that can be made and ideas for additional ways to assist booksellers, the Book Industry Charitable (Binc) Foundation is launching an online survey for anyone working in the book industry. The survey should take about 10 minutes to complete and will remain open March 6-16. Participants will be eligible to win a grand prize of a $250 American Express gift card or one of 10 $25 American Express gift cards.

Binc's main mission is to provide assistance to bookstore employees in need arising from severe hardship and/or emergency circumstances. It also provides educational scholarships. Since it was begun in 1996, the organization has provided more than $5 million in charitable assistance. Support for the Foundation's programs and services come from all sectors of the book industry. Take the survey here.


Children's Institute Scholarship Recipients

The American Booksellers Association has named the 31 booksellers who will be attending this year's ABC Children's Institute on scholarship, Bookselling This Week reported. The awards cover the conference fee, a two-night stay at the host hotel and up to $400 in travel expenses. They are funded by Baker & Taylor, the event's lead sponsor; 21 publisher sponsors; and the Book Industry Charitable Foundation.

Senior program officer Joy Dallanegra-Sanger said, "Due to [sponsors'] generosity, 31 ABA members will be able to take part in a great educational program that will offer much that booksellers can take back and implement in the their stores to encourage reading among the children in their communities."


Obituary Notes: Justin Kaplan; Sherwin B. Nuland

Award-winning biographer Justin Kaplan, "who was later known as the editor of Bartlett's Familiar Quotations--a job akin to running the admissions committee of the most selective college in the world," died Sunday, the New York Times reported. He was 88. Kaplan's books included Mr. Clemens and Mark Twain, winner of a Pulitzer Prize as well as a National Book Award; and Walt Whitman: A Life, which also won a National Book Award.

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Dr. Sherwin B. Nuland, a surgeon and author whose National Book Award-winning 1994 book How We Die "sought to dispel the notion of death with dignity and fueled a national conversation about end-of-life decisions," died yesterday, the New York Times reported. He was 83.


Notes

Image of the Day: Beautiful Music

Staff members of Llewellyn Worldwide recently pitched in to apply stickers to Stonewall Award-winning Beautiful Music for Ugly Children by Kirstin Cronn-Mills, published by Llewellyn's Flux imprint in 2012. Beautiful Music for Ugly Children is the story of Gabe, a guy with big summer plans: he's got a job as a radio DJ and he wants to move up to Minneapolis after graduation. His only problem? The rest of the world has known him as Elizabeth for the last 18 years. Cronn-Mills, along with Fat Angie (Candlewick, 2013) author e.E. Charlton-Trujillo, will be honored with the Stonewall Mike Morgan and Larry Romans Children's and Young Adult Literature Award at ALA's annual conference on June 30 in Las Vegas, Nev.


Happy Mardi Gras!

To help you get into the spirit of the season, we direct your attention to the Facebook page for Octavia Books, New Orleans, La., where co-owner Tom Lowenburg has been sharing photos of parades in their neighborhood since the annual festivities launched over the weekend. In addition to a pic of Octavia Books' co-owner Judith Lafitte, the posts include "A beautiful day at the Thoth parade which rolled and marched by just 2 blocks from Octavia Books" and "Zulu rolling!"


Personnel Changes at Grand Central

Grand Central Publishing has made the following promotions:

Sonya Cheuse has been promoted to deputy director of publicity. She has been a fiction publicist and joined the company in 2012.
Caitlin Mulrooney-Lyski has been promoted to publicity manager. She joined the publicity department in 2012.
Marissa Sangiacomo has been promoted to publicist, Forever and Forever Yours. She joined the company in 2012 as publicity assistant.
Julie Paulauski has been promoted to associate publicist. Before joining the publicity department in 2012, she worked in Hachette Book Group communications.
Jane Lee has been promoted to online marketing associate from online marketing assistant.
Tony Forde has been promoted to associate publicist for Twelve.


Media and Movies

Media Heat: Valerie Martin on KCRW's Bookworm

This morning on Imus in the Morning: Galadrielle Allman, author of Please Be With Me: A Song for My Father, Duane Allman (Spiegel & Grau, $28, 9781400068944).

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Today on Fresh Air: Terry Golway, author of Machine Made: Tammany Hall and the Creation of Modern American Politics (Liveright, $27.95, 9780871403759).

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Tomorrow on KCRW's Bookworm: Valerie Martin, author of The Ghost of the Mary Celeste (Doubleday, $25.95, 9780385533508). As the show put it: "How does a history become a story? And how does a story become a ghost story? In The Ghost of the Mary Celeste, Valerie Martin discusses her fascination with the history of the ship Mary Celeste, found floating with no crew off the coast of Spain in 1872. Gradually this history is replaced by diaries and ship's logs. Arthur Conan Doyle even writes a fictional version. For Martin, the empty boat floating in the mist is an image of something from the afterlife passing into this life. She says she does not believe in ghosts--but she does believe in telling a truly haunting story."

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Tomorrow on NPR's Diane Rehm Show: Susan Minot, author of Thirty Girls (Knopf, $26.95, 9780307266385).

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Tomorrow on MSNBC's Ronan Farrow Daily: Amy Chua, co-author of The Triple Package: How Three Unlikely Traits Explain the Rise and Fall of Cultural Groups in America (Penguin Press, $27.95, 9781594205460).

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Tomorrow on Dr. Oz: Majid Fotuhi, co-author of Boost Your Brain: The New Art and Science Behind Enhanced Brain Performance (HarperOne, $25.99, 9780062199270).

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Tomorrow night on the Daily Show: Paul Taylor, author of The Next America: Boomers, Millennials, and the Looming Generational Showdown (PublicAffairs, $26.99, 9781610393508).


Movies: Paddington Trailer; The Deep Blue Good-By

The first teaser trailer has been released for Paddington, a movie starring Michael Bond's popular fictional bear, who has been featured in more than 20 children's books. Indiewire reported that even though the movie "may boast the names of Nicole Kidman, Sally Hawkins, Hugh Bonneville and Peter Capaldi, all of them play second fiddle to center of Paddington--the bear himself." Producer David Heyman (Harry Potter) and director Paul King (Bunny and the Bull, The Mighty Boosh) "are behind the feature film incarnation of the little brown bear."

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James Mangold "is negotiating to direct" The Deep Blue Good-By, based on the 1964 John D. MacDonald novel that launched the bestselling Travis McGee series, Deadline.com reported. With a script draft by Dennis Lehane, the project "has long been eyed by Fox as the launch of a star-driven franchise based on the beach bum McGee."



Books & Authors

Awards: OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature; BFDAs

A longlist featuring writers from five countries has been released for the $10,000 OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature, sponsored by One Caribbean Media. Winners in three categories will be announced March 30, with the overall winner named April 26. The longlisted titles are:

Poetry
Black Sand: New and Collected Poems by Edward Baugh
Pepper Seed by Malika Booker
Oracabessa by Lorna Goodison
The Butterfly Hotel by Roger Robinson

Fiction
As Flies to Whatless Boys by Robert Antoni
Claire of the Sea Light by Edwidge Danticat
Gloria by Kerry Young

Nonfiction
Coolie Woman: The Odyssey of Indenture by Gaiutra Bahadur
Caribbean Spaces: Escapes from Twilight Zones by Carole Boyce Davies
Writing Down the Vision: Essays and Prophecies by Kei Miller

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More Gold and Silver honorees have won Benjamin Franklin Digital Awards (BFDAs), launched last year by the Independent Book Publishers Association and awarded on a rolling basis. The BFDAs acknowledge "exceptional content, design, and use of technology" in e-books, enhanced e-books, the book as app and new technology/software.


Book Brahmin: Brigid Pasulka

photo: Margaret Pasulka

Brigid Pasulka is the author of A Long, Long Time Ago and Essentially True, which won the 2010 PEN/Hemingway Foundation Award and was a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers selection. Pasulka lives in Chicago with her husband and son and runs the writing center at a public high school. Her new novel is The Sun and Other Stars (Simon & Schuster, February 2014).

On your nightstand now: 

Bringing Up Bébé by Pamela Druckerman and Secrets of the Baby Whisperer by Tracy Hogg and Melinda Blau. Secrets of the Baby Whisperer saved my sanity the other day. Now, that's a powerful book.

Favorite book when you were a child:

It was a story: "Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle's Won't-Pick-Up-Toys Cure" by Betty MacDonald. I was a very messy kid but loved the idea of everything being put back in its place.

Your top five authors:

There are so many authors I love, but I tend to gravitate toward those who subtly build up details until you feel enfolded in a completely new world. And I also like a good streak of dark humor--Flannery O'Connor, Salman Rushdie, Louis de Bernières, Kurt Vonnegut, Aravind Adiga.... But again, this is impossible to narrow down to just five.

Book you've faked reading:

I'm a full-time high-school teacher, so it's painfully obvious to me when someone hasn't read a book, and it's kind of a pet peeve of mine. In my own life, I long ago realized that once I've finished with my own writing, reading for school, and reading to research whichever novel I'm writing, I can't keep up with what everyone else has read. So I never fake it. I find it very freeing to say, "No, I haven't read that," and when once in a while someone (rude) follows up with, "I can't believe you've never read that!" I just turn it into a joke. 

Book you're an evangelist for:

Dante's The Divine Comedy. There are so many people who only read the Inferno or only read a summary of the Inferno or only focus in on one small part out of context, and they come away thinking that Dante's all about punishment and retribution. But if you really commit to it and read through Purgatory and Paradise as well, you'll find that The Divine Comedy is about faith, hope, love and the utter inability of humans to accurately place judgment on one another.

Book you've bought for the cover:

Jonathan Safran Foer's Everything Is Illuminated. Nothing against Elijah Wood, but why would anyone buy [the film edition] over the wavy words? There have been many imitations of that cover since then, but none as striking.

Book that changed your life:

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. I only read it for the first time about five years ago. It's another book that people misunderstand as being about censorship, when in fact, it's about self-censorship--the way we water down our words and therefore our thoughts, our expectations to be constantly entertained and the plague of our ever-shortening attention spans. It's uncanny how Bradbury predicted our society 60 years ago, and it's really made me reevaluate the choices I make in my daily life and writing.

Favorite line from a book:

Well, it's so overused and it's not really from a book, but a Flaubert quote--"Be regular and orderly in your life... so that you may be violent and original in your work."--is the maxim that's most helped me integrate my writing life with my real life.

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

Anne Frank's diary. It's one of the few books I can reread, and I read it in each language as I learn it, sort of as a personal final exam. But I remember that the first time I read it, I cried--from the content, yes, but also because this beautiful voice had been lost before its time.


Book Review

Children's Review: Blue Iguana

Blue Iguana by Wendy Townsend (Namelos, dist. by Ingram, $18.95 hardcover, 196p., ages 10-up, 9781608981571, March 15, 2014)

Wendy Townsend (The Sundown Rule) convincingly portrays a high school student with a passion for all living things, who spends a life-changing summer caring for endangered blue iguanas on Grand Cayman Island.

Clarice, who narrates, cares so much for animals that she must leave her favorite teacher's biology class rather than dissect a frog. She practices what she preaches: she is vegan and will not wear leather goods. Clarice's younger brother, Joe, shares her love of animals, and when she decides to spend the summer at the Blue Iguana Recovery Program in the Cayman Islands, she leaves in his capable hands the various kittens she's rescued from the animal shelter where she volunteers. Clarice sees everything through a lens of the natural world. When she flies over Grand Cayman Island, it "looks sort of like a sperm whale with his tail up as if he is playing."

Readers learn about this unusual habitat right along with Clarice. She describes the rough karst terrain (soluble bedrock) as she accompanies two researchers attempting to find out where a blue iguana named GRG (Green-Red-Green, referring to her markings) has stashed her eggs; the sweltering heat inland; and the smell of the ocean on a windy day. Readers also learn about the lizards' diet (jackswitch, hibiscus petals, bananas), their life expectancy (blue iguanas can live to be more than 60 years old) and how many eggs they typically lay (roughly 10). The people Clarice meets on Grand Cayman Island open her up to the possibilities of field study and the balance between caring for animals and living in the world. Before her trip, it seemed impossible for Clarice to imagine being a marine biologist and eating fish, as is the case of one of her new friends, but she begins to see there's room to re-examine the strict rules that govern her world.

Townsend's descriptions of the humans' relationships to the blue iguanas allow readers to differentiate not only between the creatures' markings but also their personalities. Readers will grow to care as much for the blue iguanas as Clarice and the other volunteers do. When tragedy strikes the preserve, it may well feel as devastating to readers as it is for the volunteers. Some readers may be disappointed not to have the cause of the tragedy solved by book's end (it's based on an actual event that took place at Blue Iguana Recovery Program in 2008), but that's also a reality of life among wild creatures--there are not always answers to life's (and nature's) great mysteries. Give this absorbing read to any nature lover. --Jennifer M. Brown

Shelf Talker: High school junior Clarice loves animals but cannot abide any act of cruelty toward them and wonders if she can find a way to serve nature without heartbreak.


Deeper Understanding

University Book Store: Seattle's Biggest, Oldest Indie

University Book Store's main store

"I think it's important for us that people understand that we're an indie bookstore," said Pam Cady, the manager of the general book department of University Book Store in Seattle, Wash. "We've been here since 1900. We're the longest-standing indie in the Seattle area. People don't realize it sometimes, but we serve the broader community as much as we serve the University of Washington."

The store was founded 114 years ago by two UW students, who set up shop in a coat closet next to the university president's office. That first year, the students lost money, and two professors invested $50. That $50 (now worth around $1,400 when adjusted for inflation) constituted the only outside investment in the store's history, and the bookstore has been profitable ever since. In 1926, the store moved from an on-campus building to an old billiards hall on University Way. Although that location was supposed to be temporary, the flagship University Book Store remains on that spot. And there are now eight other UBS locations: several are on UW campuses, one is in downtown Seattle, and three are in locations completely separate from UW--Bellevue, Mill Creek and Renton--and look much like general trade stores with strong UW sections.

Unusually in the world of independent bookstores, UBS has operated as a trust since 1964, with the beneficiaries being the students, faculty and staff of the University of Washington. "Because they're our beneficiaries, they are our board of directors," explained Louise Little, the trust's CEO. The trust's board, comprised of five students (with an alternating arrangement of undergraduate and graduate students), four faculty members and one administrative trustee (who, for the past several years, has been from the university's library system), meets monthly and oversees the store's broader strategic direction. Perhaps the most visible task that the board has each year is deciding the rebate percentage that the beneficiaries will receive.

"Part of the provisions of the trust is that money not needed to reinvest in the store goes back to the beneficiaries in the form of merchandise rebates," said Little, adding that the rebate system was not unlike outdoor-equipment retailer REI's co-op program. Each year, UBS provides approximately $1 million in customer rebates, and has provided more than $28 million in rebates since 1930. "We're a for-profit corporation, like any corporation, but we operate a bit more like a nonprofit."

Patrick Rothfuss at UBS

Despite the board's importance in determining University Book Store's long-term goals, it largely leaves day-to-day operations alone. Managing inventory, stocking books, hiring staff, planning events, interacting with customers--the bread and butter of independent bookstores--rests on Pam Cady and those working for her. The general book department of University Book Store employs 53 booksellers across nine locations, with 35 of those booksellers at the flagship store on University Way.

Before UBS, Cady worked at a tiny, alternative bookstore in Long Beach, Calif., and before that was a manager at a B. Dalton Bookseller. Although UBS is larger, by orders of magnitude, than those two stores (the trade book department carries around 160,000 titles), Cady insists that the essence of bookselling is the same. "The tack for selling a book, for putting the right book in the right person's hands, doesn't change," she said.

UBS's Bellevue store

Being part of such a huge operation, though, certainly has its benefits; Cady cited the opportunity to collaborate and work with so many passionate booksellers as her job's biggest perk. "For me, it's way more fun working at a big indie," she said. "There's so much more collaboration, so many booksellers doing so many creative things." She pointed to the frequent book fairs that UBS runs as examples of her staff's enthusiasm and creativity. "And they have such passion, not only working for each other but also working for our customers."

Each year, University Book Store hosts 400 to 500 author events, with the lion's share held at the flagship store. The store's close affiliation with the University of Washington allows Cady to bring in speakers who might not frequently make it onto the bookstore circuit. UBS hosted Jimmy Carter a total of five times, and has also brought in Bill Clinton and Louis Armstrong. Some of the highlights of upcoming visits include Michio Kaku, Russell Simmons, Brandon Sanderson and Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor.

"We give back a lot to the UW community, to our students, staff and professors, through rebates and scholarships and discounts," said Cady. And although the full rebates are limited to members of the UW community, UBS also runs a Reader's Club program to extend some of those benefits to the broader community. "We give back a lot, and that's what we're here for--a service not just for the university but for the community at large." --Alex Mutter


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