Also published on this date: Wednesday, March 26, 2014: Maximum Shelf: The Plover

Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, March 26, 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

Quotation of the Day

'Changing the World One Book at a Time'

"Everyone at Penguin Random House, no matter where you work or what you do, shares the same motivation: We want to change the world--one book at a time. Our collective belief in the power that a book can have is what inspires us to keep on sparking conversations, challenging the status quo, surprising readers, and creating must-reads--in short, nourishing a passion for reading."

--Markus Dohle, Penguin Random House CEO, in a note to employees about Bertelsmann's fiscal year 2013 results, issued this morning. (Among highlights: Penguin Random House had 261 New York Times bestsellers in its first six months as a newly merged company, has nearly 12,000 employees and sold more than 100 million e-books worldwide.)

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


News

Check's in the E-Mail: Amazon Sends Agency Pricing Refunds

Many Amazon customers received a surprise in their e-mail inboxes yesterday as the company began distributing credits from the e-book agency pricing settlement between the Big Five U.S. publishers and a coalition of state attorneys general. Customers who purchased e-books between April 1, 2010 and May 21, 2012 are entitled to a credit of $3.17 for each New York Times bestseller and 73 cents for any other e-books.

"Good news!" the notice from Amazon began, noting that the recipient was entitled to a credit "for some of your past Kindle book purchases." The online retailer did not hesitate to name names: "The credit results from legal settlements reached with publishers Hachette, HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster, Macmillan, and Penguin in antitrust lawsuits filed by State Attorneys General and Class Plaintiffs about the price of eBooks."

Reactions were swift, ranging from elation (the Twitter hashtag #tweetyourAmazonbookcredit appeared almost immediately) to cynicism ("I'm sure glad that millions were spent so I could get $19.91," said one recipient in an e-mail) to snark: "The wheels of justice do, indeed, turn slowly," Good E-Reader's Mercy Pilkington observed. "Turtles stampeding through peanut butter kind of slowly.... While I'm not sure that consumers are supposed to disclose the amount of their credits, let's just say that if I were able to wrangle six other customers who received a credit similar to mine, we could pool our money and share a small latte at Starbucks."

At GigaOm, Jeff John Roberts peered into the future, noting that "rival Apple will likely underwrite an even bigger shopping spree for Amazon customers sometime.... For now, the biggest winner is Amazon, which already dominated the e-book market at the time of the price-fixing scheme in 2010.... The whole business is starting to look absurd, especially as Apple remains a marginal player at best in a world where Amazon is still dominant. While Apple deserves some of the blame, not least for its ongoing intransigence, it's also about time for the states and the Justice Department to find another target."


Binc Foundation: Helping Booksellers #MoreThanEver Donation Campaign


Hodder & Stoughton to Buy Quercus

Hodder & Stoughton, a division of the Hachette U.K. Group, has offered approximately £12.6 million (about US$20.8 million) to purchase Quercus Publishing, the U.K. indie publisher that launched its first U.S. list in September and was put up for sale in January. The Bookseller reported the offer is now subject to conditions, with the deal due to be completed in early May.

"My colleagues at Hodder and I greatly admire what has been achieved at Quercus in a relatively short time," said Tim Hely Hutchinson, CEO of Hachette U.K. and chairman of Hodder. "If our offer is successful, Quercus will become a distinct division within our company and will benefit from Hachette U.K. Group's funding resources and sales reach to secure a very bright future for the Quercus Group."

Quercus CEO Mark Smith commented: "Over the last 10 years we have built Quercus into a £20 million-plus revenue business, with divisions in both the U.K. and North America.... For the next phase of its development and to fulfill Quercus' potential, we believe that Hodder and Hachette U.K. is the right home for Quercus."


Page Street Kids: Beneath the Haunting Sea by Joanna Meyer


Amy Poehler Is Honorary Chairperson of World Book Night U.S.

Amy Poehler, actress, comedian, Saturday Night Live veteran and star of Parks and Recreation, has agreed to be the honorary chairperson for this year's World Book Night U.S., which will be held April 23.

"I grew up loving books," Poehler said. "In today's digital world, it's more important than ever to know how it feels to have a good book in your hands. I'm thrilled to be part of World Book Night. People who read are people who dream, and we connect through the stories we live and tell and read."

World Book Night U.S. executive director Carl Lennertz said: "This news is the icing, cherry and candles on the year three WBN cake. We've already announced a seven-author New York Public Library launch event, our highest percentage of free books going to teachers and students in underfunded schools, and a record number of participating librarians and booksellers, and Amy Poehler joining our cause is a happy, happy event. On behalf of our 25,000 volunteer givers and 500,000 book recipients this coming April 23, we say thank you."


Ira Silverberg Joins Open Road

Open Road Integrated Media has hired Ira Silverberg as its strategic advisor, author brands. He will join the company effective April 22 and focus on acquiring a wide range of authors and their backlist catalogues for Open Road to digitally publish and market. 

"Ira's broad range of experience has given him a deep understanding of all aspects of the publishing industry and he will make an incredible addition to Open Road," said co-founder and CEO Jane Friedman.

During his career, Silverberg has held numerous positions in publishing world, including literature director of the National Endowment for the Arts, editor-in-chief of Grove Press and publisher/founding co-editor of High Risk Books. He also owned a public relations company focused on independent literary presses and not-for-profit literary institutions, and spent 15 years as a literary agent.


This Just In: Manhattan Rents Are Too High

Rizzoli Bookstore is seeking new space in Manhattan.

As New York Times publishing correspondent Julie Bosman prepares to leave the city for the Midwest, she serves up some unsurprising news under the headline: "Literary City, Bookstore Desert: Surging Rents Force Booksellers From Manhattan." While building her case against Manhattan as a bookstore destination, Bosman noted Sarah McNally's longtime search for a potential second McNally Jackson location, on the Upper West Side, before opting for Williamsburg in Brooklyn.

Bosman devoted considerably less attention in the piece to the stores that remain in Manhattan and the recent indie bookselling renaissance in Queens and Brooklyn.


Obituary Note: Patrick McGovern

Patrick McGovern, founder of International Data Group (IDG), which "developed the popular 'For Dummies' series of instructional reference books, built an international market analysis arm and began organizing huge technology events," died last Wednesday, the New York Times reported. He was 76.


Notes

Image of the Day: Half the Sky

Author Jenny Bowen (back row, third from right) visited Pages, a Bookstore, in Manhattan Beach, Calif., to discuss her book Wish You Happy Forever: What China's Orphans Taught Me About Moving Mountains (HarperOne). Bowen is one of the few Westerners to run an NGO in China; her organization, Half the Sky, operates 52 children's centers in that country.


Pilgrim's Way Books Named 'Best of Monterey County'

Congratulations to Pilgrim's Way Community Bookstore & Secret Garden, Carmel, Calif., which was named "Best Bookstore--New" in Monterey Weekly's Best of Monterey County Readers Poll.

"This whole family-owned, community-centric shop is a garden, full of books for the flowering mind and flowers and plants and dreamcatchers and hidden pathways to help the senses blossom," the citation noted. "What started out 45 years ago as a specialty bookstore has evolved and expanded: It now carries the latest New York Times bestsellers, young adult and children's books, paperback novels, biographies, self-help and cookbooks, local interest, travel and adventure--plus T-shirts, music, greeting cards, plants, candles, wind chimes, thermometers, i.e., a lot. Customers who can't find parking can call ahead and when they drive by and their book is handed to them--which works as a microcosm of the personal hands-on attention that comes standard."


Different 'Type' of Fundraiser for Back Pages Books

Alex Green, owner of Back Pages Books and Back Pages Publishers, Waltham, Mass., "finds solace when poring over a letterpress, meticulously placing each individual letter into the machine--for hours on end--in order to print poems and select works of literature," Boston magazine reported in its feature on the bookseller's passion for letterpress and his "different 'type' of fundraiser."

Green has launched an Indiegogo campaign to raise funds for his own letterpress publishing studio, "which he wants to harbor inside Back Pages Books and open up to the public for lessons and classes," Boston wrote. Just a week into the campaign, more than $9,000 of the $17,500 goal has already been pledged.

"Waltham is sort of an awesome place to do this type of thing. It's a very supportive community," said Green. "The main focus is to actually have the press and to be able to start printing in the shop. I have a large list of projects that I would like to jump into. The way [having my own letterpress] would change things is immeasurable."


Personnel Changes at Random House

Kim Shannon has been named to the newly created position of v-p, director, adult retail sales, Random House. She was formerly v-p, sales director.

Adult retail sales at Penguin continue to be overseen by John Lawton and Norman Lidofsky.



Media and Movies

Media Heat: Yiyun Li on KCRW's Bookworm

Today on Fresh Air: Karen Russell, author of Sleep Donation: A Novella (Atavist Books, $3.99, available only as an e-book).

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Tomorrow morning on the Tom Joyner Morning Show: Jeff Pearlman, author of Showtime: Magic, Kareem, Riley, and the Los Angeles Lakers Dynasty of the 1980s (Gotham, $30, 9781592407552).

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Tomorrow morning on the Steve Harvey Morning Show: Russell Simmons, co-author of Success Through Stillness: Meditation Made Simple (Gotham, $20, 9781592408658).

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Tomorrow on the Queen Latifah Show: Robert J. Wagner, co-author of You Must Remember This: Life and Style in Hollywood's Golden Age (Viking, $27.95, 9780670026098).

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Tomorrow on KCRW's Bookworm: Yiyun Li, author of Kinder than Solitude (Random House, $26, 9781400068142). As the show put it: "Originally from Beijing, Yiyun Li moved to the United States as a young adult. She thought her life would unfold as a scientist but found herself turning to writing in English. Her cultural lineage is Chinese, but she found literary lineage in Irish writers like William Trevor and Elizabeth Bowen. Li's second novel, Kinder than Solitude, addresses emotional brutality as a subject of our time. Distrustful of love, her characters find themselves in a state of solitude, or alone-ness, that lacks solace."

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Tomorrow on NPR's Diane Rehm Show: Jane Fonda, author of Being a Teen: Everything Teen Girls & Boys Should Know About Relationships, Sex, Love, Health, Identity & More (Random House, $17, 9780812978612).

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Tomorrow on Tavis Smiley: Shyima Hall, co-author of Hidden Girl: The True Story of a Modern-Day Child Slave (Simon & Schuster, $17.99, 9781442481688).


Movies: Paper Towns; The Fault in Our Stars

Fox 2000, which brought an adaptation of the John Green's The Fault in Our Stars to the big screen, has put together a deal for his 2008 novel Paper Towns and "is working on bringing back together not only the producers and the screenwriters for another go but also one of the stars," Deadline.com reported. Paper Towns "will be built around" Nat Wolff, co-star--with Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort--of The Fault in Our Stars (which will be released June 6).

Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber will adapt the book and executive produce with Green. Deadline.com noted that Fox 200's Elizabeth Gabler and Erin Siminoff are behind the new project. "Obviously Green had a good experience at Fox 2000, where Gabler has always been author-friendly."

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Speaking of The Fault in Our Stars, a newly released featurette about director Josh Boone's film "provides a brief look at the actors making it happen. And if you want more, a batch of new stills from the movie has also arrived online to given folks a better look at this unconventional story," Indiewire noted.


Books & Authors

Awards: Astrid Lindgren Winner; Alfaguara Novel Prize

Swedish author Barbro Lindgren won the five million Swedish kronor (about US$778,440) Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award, which is given annually to one or more author, illustrator, story teller or reading promoter, regardless of language or nationality, in recognition of lifelong work or artistry rather than for an individual piece. Lindgren (no relation to Astrid) will be honored June 2 at a ceremony in Stockholm. Founded in 2002 by the Swedish government, the award's purpose is to honor Astrid Lindgren's memory and promote interest in children's and young adult literature around the world.

The jury's citation praised this year's winner, whose body of work includes picture books, poetry, plays, and books for young adults, for being "a literary pioneer. Using adventurous language and rich psychological nuance, she has re-invented not only the picture book for the very young but also the absurd prose story, the existential children's poem, and realistic fiction for young adults. With perfect pitch, she presents to us both playful shenanigans and moments of bright joy, and the inscrutable nature of life and the nearness of death."

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Colombian author Jorge Franco won Spain's $175,000 Alfaguara Novel Prize for El mundo de afuera, "which is loosely based on a kidnapping that rocked Medellin--the Andean nation's second city--in 1971," the Latin American Herald Tribune reported.


Book Brahmin: Denise Kiernan

Denise Kiernan started her writing career as an intern at the Village Voice and has been working as a writer and journalist for nearly 20 years. She is the author of popular history titles Stuff Every American Should Know, Signing Their Lives Away and Signing Their Rights Away. She was head writer for ABC's Who Wants to Be a Millionaire during its first season. Among other things, she was responsible for arranging the questions and briefing host Regis Philbin, which surely helped prepare her for "Book Brahmin." Her bestseller The Girls of Atomic City is now in paperback from Touchstone.

On your nightstand now:

This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage by the wonderful Ann Patchett. As someone who started out in journalism, I both admire her writing style and appreciate on a personal level her willingness to share the frustrations she experienced early in her career. Some of her stories take me back to my own days running around writing for magazines I'd never heard of, wondering how I'd ever make a living. Also on the nightstand: Breaking the Code, a play by Hugh Whitemore about British mathematician Alan Turing. The play was based on the book Alan Turing: The Enigma by Andrew Hodges, and there is also a movie. I love reading books that end up as plays and then get made for television or film. I like to take in all the versions and see how the content held up across the platforms. I'm particularly interested in this process right now as The Girls of Atomic City is being developed for television. Also always on my nightstand: A large, stuffed Curious George (see below).

Favorite book when you were a child:

From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg was and always will be a favorite book of mine. I loved the idea of hiding away somewhere that felt like a land of make-believe but that could be as nearby as a museum. What adventures lay right around the corner? I connected to the independence of it all, too--fishing money out of the fountains, dodging security guards. When I was much younger, I wore out Margret and H.A. Rey's Curious George Goes to the Hospital. That nutty little monkey really got me through a tough tonsillectomy. (Though I have to admit, I was quite disappointed that I did not have an equally goofy and revelatory encounter with the ether).

Your top five authors:

The pressure! The immediate regret after I turn this in! That said: William Faulkner, without a doubt. Margaret Atwood; her worlds always suck me in. Pat Conroy's style gets me every time, and he never sacrifices story in service of it. Jeanette Winterson never disappoints. Joan Didion has to be in there. Nora Ephron is a remarkable storyteller in so many different forms. Lately I've been into Lee Child. I've been a Tolkien nerd since I was a kid, compulsively dog-earing my tattered copy of The Hobbit. Okay, I went a little over....

Book you've faked reading:

I have certainly faked interest in books, but I have never faked reading a book. I have gone out of my way to dance around admitting publicly that I hadn't read a particular "important" book. Now is another one of those times.

Book you're an evangelist for:

Whatever my husband, author Joseph D'Agnese, has just published. His children's picture book, Blockhead: The Life of Fibonacci, is a brilliant and accessible story that seamlessly blends math, art and history in a way that is truly captivating and rescues a story that few people know.

Book you've bought for the cover:

While I have never bought a book for the cover, I have bought a wine for the label. Come to think of it, I would appreciate seeing more frogs on bicycles and vaudevillians with plungers attached to their heads on the covers of books.

Book that changed your life:

I recently placed my laptop on top of The Chicago Manual of Style. As a result, the ergonomics of my workstation have drastically improved and the setup has done wonders for my neck.

Favorite line from a book:

"A green hunting cap squeezed the top of the fleshy balloon of a head." This is the first line from John Kennedy Toole's A Confederacy of Dunces. Brilliant imagery to kick off what was of one of my all-time favorite reads.

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

I get so depressed when I think about all of the books I'm never going to get to in my lifetime that the idea of having the time to reread one seems impossible. Still, Brave New World by Aldous Huxley would surely be in the running.

Book readers are most surprised to discover you wrote:

It is interesting how readers often see you as writing in one particular genre. It's almost similar to an actor who gets typecast as a cop. It can be hard for readers to see you in a different role, writing a different sort of book. I've always admired writers who have the ability to change it up, which is perhaps why people like Nora Ephron and Joan Didion have always been faves of mine. Oddly enough, in my case, folks often think there is another Denise Kiernan who wrote The Money Book for Freelancers, Part-Timers, and the Self-Employed. I really can't understand why that seems so out of character. I have been a freelancer for most of my adult life and it has had a tremendous impact on how I work. It's like a survival story.


Book Review

YA Review: Deep Blue

Deep Blue: Waterfire Saga, Book One by Jennifer Donnelly (Disney Press, $17.99 hardcover, 336p., ages 12-up, 9781423133162, May 6, 2014)

Jennifer Donnelly's (A Northern Light) Waterfire Saga begins with a bang in the 41st century, as Serafina's royal household prepares for a rite of initiation: Serafina must prove she is a descendent of Merrow, and next in line for the throne.

The author creates an underwater wonderland filled with jewels and beautiful gowns as everyone prepares to attend this once-in-a-generation ceremony. "A mermaid's magic is in her voice," and Serafina will sing to prove her rightful place in the line stretching back to Merrow, the first to rule the Miromara. But hints of impending trouble cast a pall over the celebration. First, Serafina dreams of the mythic Iele, the river witches, and their attempt to contain a monster that's about to break out of its prison. Then there's Serafina's mother, current ruler of Miromara, who speaks of threats to their kingdom, and Uncle Vallerio's belief that Admiral Kolfinn and the Ondalina are behind the raids in nearby territories. And lastly, Serafina's betrothed, Mahdi, whom she thought truly loved her, has been spotted carousing with other mermaids.

Scarcely has 16-year-old Serafina proven herself as the true heir and before she has time to worry about whether her marriage will be loveless, assassins break into the palace, kill her father and pierce her mother in the chest with an arrow. Serafina and her best friend, Neela, a princess from a neighboring kingdom, escape, only to end up prisoners of Captain Traho, allegedly aligned with Kolfinn and the Ondalina. During their captivity, Serafina discovers that Neela has had the same dream, and realizes that there may be more truth than legend to the Iele. Three praedatori--mermen called "outlaws" by their families--rescue the two princesses; if outlaws can be heroes, they must question everything they've been taught.

Donnelly charts the two friends' growing belief in the dream as prophecy. They meet all kinds of colorful characters on their way to finding the other four "daughters" described in the river witches' chant: the creepy keeper of the world behind the mirror, a freshwater mermaid whom they call "a crazy lady with too many catfish," and others who make treasures of the things discarded by terragoggs (humans). The princesses soon discover that the terragoggs are far more complicated than they've been told. They are not solely enemies: some are out to save the seas. Donnelly leaves this story on a cliffhanger, but she introduces six captivating "daughters" who will lure readers back for the next installment in a planned four-book series. --Jennifer M. Brown

Shelf Talker: The author of A Northern Light explores the vibrant, at times turbulent life of the mermaids and mermen in the deep blue sea.


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