Shelf Awareness for Tuesday, March 18, 2014


Little Brown and Company: The Balcony by Jane Delury

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

Katherine Tegen Books: Another Quest for Celeste (Nest for Celeste #2) by Henry Cole

News

Hastings Plans Merger/Sale, Law Firms Line Up to Sue

Although it sounds more like a takeover than a merger, Hastings Entertainment plans to merge with two companies owned by Joel Weinshanker, president and owner of National Entertainment Collectibles Association, which already owns 12% of Hastings's shares. Under the plan, Hastings shareholders will receive $3 per share and the company will merge with Draw Another Circle and become a wholly owned subsidiary of Hendrix Acquisition Corp., both of which are wholly owned by Weinshanker. National Entertainment Collectibles Association is a major supplier to Hastings of movie, book and video game merchandise and collectibles.

The company hopes to conclude the merger, which needs to be approved by two-thirds of shareholders, sometime during the second quarter, which begins May 1. National Entertainment Collectibles Association has agreed to vote its 12% in favor, and Hastings chairman and CEO John H. Marmaduke and related owners, who own 32% of Hastings stock, will also vote for the merger, representing altogether 44% of shareholders.

Marmaduke said that the company has had "a close and growing business relationship with Mr. Weinshanker over the last decade. Mr. Weinshanker, through his affiliation with the estates of Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley and Muhammad Ali, and his company's management of Graceland, is one of the leading drivers of the lifestyle industry, and we believe Hastings' business will continue to benefit from our relationship with him and NECA."

"Hastings will be the surviving corporation, so we'll continue to do business like we're doing today," Hastings CFO Dan Crow told the Amarillo Globe-News. "All we're doing is going private, and we have a new owner."

The $3-per-share share price was a premium of 57.1% over Hastings's closing share price last Friday and a premium of 61.3% over the average trading price of Hastings common shares for the last 30 trading days. The transaction is valued at approximately $21.4 million, and the Marmaduke group's block of stock would be worth about $6.85 million. Yesterday Hastings stock jumped 56% and closed at $2.98 a share.

Within hours of the announcement yesterday morning, at least six law firms announced "investigations" of the deal. One of the firms, Brodsky & Smith, said it would look into "possible breaches of fiduciary duty and other violations of state law by the board of directors of Hastings for not acting in the company's shareholders' best interests" because the merger plan "may undervalue the company as an analyst has set a $5.00 per share price target on Hastings stock and Hastings stock traded at $4.20 as recently as June 17, 2013."

Likewise, Tripp Levy criticized Hastings and National Entertainment Collectibles Association for "not engaging in a full and fair auction and process to sell the company so that shareholders received the maximum value for their shares." The firm also noted "the stock traded as high as $5.45 per share less than a year ago. Further, Hastings's book value alone is worth at least $7.57 per share (over 2.5 times what NECA is paying Hastings shareholders)."

Founded in 1968, Hastings Entertainment is a multimedia retailer that sells new and used books along with other products in 126 stores that average about 24,000 square feet of space, mostly in "medium-sized" markets. It also operates two Sun Adventure Sports stores and a Tradesmart store. The merger values each store at about $165,900.

In the third quarter ended October 31, total revenues at Hastings fell 6.6%, to $94.7 million, and the net loss was $6.2 million, compared to a net loss of $8 million in the third quarter the previous year. The company will report fourth quarter results next Monday, March 24.


Page Street Kids: Beneath the Haunting Sea by Joanna Meyer


Amazon Prime Price Rise Cost; Nook Press Expands

Amazon's plan to raise the price of Amazon Prime membership to $99 from $79 has resulted in a significant drop in consumer attitudes toward the e-retailer, according to CNBC, which cited a survey by Brands Keys after the announcement that showed Amazon's brand engagement and customer loyalty rating falling to 83% from 93%.

"Consumer expectations are always on the increase, and when it comes to online retail, they operate in a 'what-have-you-done-for-me-recently?' paradigm," Brand Keys founder and president Robert Passikoff said. "Price increases weren't what Prime Members were expecting."

He noted, too, that Amazon has ranked as the top online retailer since Brand Keys began measuring the category 16 years ago. Among Amazon Prime customers, it now is No. 3, behind eBay and Overstock.com.

The survey was conducted among 1,050 Amazon Prime members March 14-16.

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Barnes & Noble's Nook Media is expanding Nook Press, its self-publishing program, to authors and publishers in the U.K., France, Italy, Germany, Spain, the Netherlands and Belgium. As a result of the change, Nook Press is available in French, Italian, German, Spanish and Dutch, in addition to English. Authors and publishers will be paid in their local currency.


Soho Crime: My Name Is Nathan Lucius by Mark Winkler


U.K.'s Smiths News Becomes the Connect Group

Smiths News, parent company of U.K. book wholesaler Bertrams, will change its name to the Connect Group, effective April 22. Companies within the group will not alter their names or identities, but will consist of three divisions: Connect Books, combining Bertrams, Dawson Books, Wordery and other brands; Connect News and Media; and Connect Education and Care.


Ecco Press: Tangerine by Christine Mangan


ABFFE Co-Signs Letter Seeking CIA Report Release

The American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression and 33 other organizations have sent a letter to President Obama urging him to declassify and speed the release of a 6,000-page report on the Central Intelligence Agency program that detained suspected terrorists in secret prisons and subjected them to coercive interrogation techniques following the September 11 attacks. The Senate Intelligence Committee has been seeking to declassify its 6,000-page report, which is reportedly highly critical of the CIA. The CIA claims the report contains errors and has been blocking it.

"The public has a right to know the details of the detention and interrogation program," ABFFE president Chris Finan said. "It also needs assurance that Congress is not prevented from overseeing secret government programs that could threaten civil liberties."

The situation has been in the news lately: last week, Senator Dianne Feinstein (D.-Calif.) charged on the Senate floor that the CIA spied on Intelligence Committee staff members and removed documents from a committee computer. The CIA denies her changes and accused the committee of illegally obtaining a copy of its internal review of the interrogation program.


Obituary Notes: Demetria Togeas, Clarissa Dickson Wright

Demetria Togeas, manager of Vroman's Hastings Ranch store in Pasadena, Calif., died last Friday after a long battle with cancer.

Togeas worked for Vroman's since 2002 and was known, the store said, for "her wicked sense of humor, loving heart, and passion for books. She loved The Secret Garden, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Stitches: A Memoir and Crafting with Cat Hair. She leaves behind her son, Justin, her cat, Goggles, and a big bookseller family who will miss her dearly."

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Clarissa Dickson Wright, author of several books and half (with the late Jennifer Paterson) of the popular BBC TV cooking show duo Two Fat Ladies, died Saturday. She was 66. BBC News noted she had once managed the Books for Cooks shop in London's Notting Hill, then the Cooks Book Shop in Edinburgh. Her books included Spilling the Beans, Clarissa’s England: A Gamely Gallop Through English Counties and A History of English Food.


'What Does 2 Billion Book Sales Look Like?'

"We often hear that a book has sold '5 million copies' or even '20 million copies'... but what exactly would 20 million books look like of they were stacked end to end?" To answer that question, LoveReading U.K. created a fascinating chart that "compared the global sales of some of the planet's biggest authors."


G.L.O.W. - Galley Love of the Week
Be the first to have an advance copy!
The Mercy Seat
by Elizabeth H. Winthrop 

In Jim Crow-era Louisiana, a handful of townspeople contemplate the impending execution of 18-year-old Willie Jones. As they consider their own roles in the young black man's fate, some with regret, others with a certain sort of vicious pride, author Elizabeth H. Winthrop builds a taut, yet tender portrait of racism, justice and our legal system in The Mercy Seat. Winthrop’s skillful plaiting of multiple viewpoints into an aching, quietly powerful tale is both impressive and effective--you will see yourself in one or more of the characters, and it will make you uncomfortable. But you'll thank Winthrop for the opportunity, which might be the most wondrous work of The Mercy Seat in the end. This is Winthrop's break-out book. --Stefanie Hargreaves, editor, Shelf Awareness for Readers 

(Grove Press, $26.00 hardcover, 9780802128188, May 8, 2018)

CLICK HERE TO ENTER
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Notes

Image of the Day: Sonia Sotomayor on My Beloved World

photo: Joe Garvin

Last week, University Book Store, Seattle, Wash., welcomed Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor to a sold-out event at Town Hall Seattle promoting the paperback release of her book, My Beloved World (Vintage). In conversation with Seattle writer and former Clinton speechwriter Eric Liu (whose A Chinaman's Chance: One Family's Journey and the Chinese American Dream is due from PublicAffairs in July), Justice Sotomayor discussed themes of community, determination and self-reliance that are detailed in her book, a memoir that traces her life before her Supreme Court confirmation in 2009. It became clear over the course of the evening that, to her, self-reliance is not about doing things alone; forgetting how much people need others limits success. She instead suggested that a person must never be ashamed to say "I don't know," must work to reach the point of meeting luck and, finally, must ask, "What is it I'm doing to better my world?" --Dave Wheeler


Personnel Changes at DDC, Kensington Publishing

Sol Rosenberg has joined consulting company DDC to pursue new technology ventures, including a new publishing startup "currently in stealth mode." He previously spent four years building the retailer and educational platform provider Copia. He may be reached at sol@DynamicDC.com.

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At Kensington Publishing:

Vida Engstrand has been promoted to associate director of marketing and communications. She was formerly assistant director of publicity and joined the company in 2011.
Alex Nicolajsen has been promoted to associate director of social media and digital sales, a new position. She joined Kensington in 2008 and was previously the digital content and marketing manager.
Sakina Williams has been promoted to marketing manager, advertising and promotion. Williams joined Kensington in 2011 and was previously the associate marketing manager.
Ellen Chan has joined the company as the communications and marketing manager for Lyrical Press. She was formerly online marketing manager of Gallery and Pocket Books.


Media and Movies

Media Heat: Carl Hoffman on Fresh Air

This morning on Morning Joe: Ralph Reed, author of Awakening: How America Can Turn from Moral and Economic Destruction Back to Greatness (Worthy Publishing, $22.99, 9781617952876).

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Today on Fresh Air: Carl Hoffman, author of Savage Harvest: A Tale of Cannibals, Colonialism, and Michael Rockefeller's Tragic Quest for Primitive Art (Morrow, $26.99, 9780062116154).

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Tomorrow morning on the Today Show: Allison Pataki, author of The Traitor's Wife: A Novel (Howard, $14.99, 9781476738604).

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Tomorrow on Ellen: Arianna Huffington, author of Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder (Harmony, $26, 9780804140843).

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Tomorrow on Dr. Oz: Russell Simmons, author of Success Through Stillness: Meditation Made Simple (Gotham, $20, 9781592408658).

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Tomorrow on Al Jazeera America's Consider This: Susan Patton, author of Marry Smart: Advice for Finding the One (Gallery, $24.99, 9781476759708).

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Tomorrow on Tavis Smiley: Elizabeth Kolbert, author of The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History (Holt, $28, 9780805092998).


TV: Recovery Road

ABC Family has greenlighted a pilot episode for Recovery Road, based on Blake Nelson's popular YA novel, Deadline.com reported. The pilot was written by Bert V. Royal (Easy A) and Karen DiConcetto (Ruby & the Rockits). Executive producers are Beth Miller (12 Dates of Christmas, Revenge of the Bridesmaids) and Craig Piligian (Survivor, American Chopper) of Pilgrim Studios and Danielle VonZerneck (Left to Die).


Movies: Divergent; A Long Way Down

As Friday's release of Divergent nears, a new clip featuring star Shailene Woodley literally "out on the ledge" and 30 images were featured by the Hollywood Reporter.

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Pierce Brosnan "takes center stage" in the film adaptation of Nick Hornby's novel A Long Way Down, the Huffington Post reported. The Post featured a clip and noted that the film, which also stars Toni Collette, Aaron Paul, Imogen Poots, Sam Neill and Rosamund Pike, opens in U.K. cinemas March 21.



Books & Authors

Awards: Tufts Poetry Winners; Hans Christian Andersen Shortlist

Afaa Michael Weaver won Claremont Graduate University's $100,000 Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award for his collection The Government of Nature (University of Pittsburgh Press). In addition, Yona Harvey won the $10,000 Kate Tufts Discovery Award for Hemming the Water (Four Way Books). Both writers will be honored at an awards ceremony April 10.

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The International Board on Books for Young People has selected the shortlist of six authors and six illustrators for the Hans Christian Andersen Award, which is awarded biannually to an author and illustrator whose "complete works have made lasting contributions to children's literature." The winners will be announced next Monday, March 24, at the Bologna Children's Book Fair. The shortlists:

Authors: Ted van Lieshout (Netherlands), Houshang Moradi Kermani (Iran), Mirjam Pressler (Germany), Nahoko Uehashi (Japan), Renate Welsh (Austria) and Jacqueline Woodson (U.S).

Illustrators: Rotraut Susanne Berner (Germany), John Burningham (U.K.), Eva Lindström (Sweden), Roger Mello (Brazil), François Place (France) and Øyvind Torseter (Norway).


Book Review

Review: How About Never—Is Never Good for You?: My Life in Cartoons

How about Never--Is Never Good for You?: My Life in Cartoons by Bob Mankoff (Holt, $32.50 hardcover, 9780805095906, March 25, 2014)

You may be familiar with the New Yorker cartoon whose caption provides the title for Bob Mankoff's memoir, How About Never? Is Never Good For You? Mankoff, the magazine's cartoon editor since 1997, delivers a witty and informative behind-the-scenes look at contemporary American media's most prominent home for great cartooning. Anyone who turns to the cartoons as soon as they get a new issue will devour this delightful book with relish.

Mankoff's current post didn't exactly fall into his lap. Though he completed most of the course work for a Ph.D. in experimental psychology, his lifelong dream was to join the stable of New Yorker cartoonists. It took him 2,000 submissions until he landed his first acceptance in 1977, and it was another three years before then-editor Lee Lorenz recognized the "original and distinctive style" in Mankoff's painstakingly stippled drawings and suggested he be offered a contract. (He's published 900 cartoons since that first.)

As entertaining as Mankoff's own story is, however, the real fun of this book lies in the way he lifts the curtain to reveal the inner workings of the process that winnows some 1,000 cartoons submitted each week down to the roughly 17 that appear in each issue. Getting a cartoon into the New Yorker "is the equivalent of getting signed by the Yankees as a baseball player," Mankoff claims proudly, in a chapter that deconstructs the Seinfeld episode in which Elaine is determined to "crack the code" of a fictional cartoon (one Mankoff later made the subject of a caption contest).

The contest, a regular presence since 2005 and one of the magazine's most popular features, is the subject of another chapter, with helpful tips for aspiring contestants: "verbalize, conceptualize, topicalize, socialize and fantasize." There have been more than two million entries since the competition went weekly; the late Roger Ebert submitted 107 entries before he finally won.

Mankoff observes that New Yorker cartoons specialize in "benign humor, intended to intrigue or amuse but not to offend." What's evident from his account is that he presides over a group of talented artists and humorists who have mastered the tricky art of amusing the magazine's readers week in and week out and, if Mankoff has anything to say about it, will do so for years to come. --Harvey Freedenberg

Shelf Talker: The cartoon editor of the New Yorker offers an entertaining behind-the-scenes look at one of the magazine's most popular and enduring features.


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