Shelf Awareness for Tuesday, April 1, 2014


Harper: Only Killers and Thieves by Paul Howarth

Mira Books: Rosie Colored Glasses by Brianna Wolfson

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

Bloomsbury: Reign the Earth by A.C. Gaughen

Soho Crime: The Widows of Malabar Hill by Sujata Massey

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

For Fun

Jeter Publishing Bolsters Editorial Team, Signs Johnny Damon

In a move with serious implications for both the publishing industry at large and the publishing softball league, Jeter Publishing has signed former baseball star and two-time World Series champion Johnny Damon to a three-year deal as assistant editor.

"Bringing Johnny on board adds an invaluable editorial voice to the Jeter Publishing team," said Adam Rothberg, senior v-p and director of corporate communications at Simon & Schuster, speaking on behalf of the imprint, founded last year by New York Yankees star Derek Jeter, who is retiring from baseball at the end of the current season. Noting that the Damon has a career triple-slash line of .284/.352/.433, he added, "Johnny, like Derek, plans to be deeply involved with every book we publish. Pending a physical, he'll report to our Manhattan offices early next week."

Jeter Publishing's acquisition of Damon has set off a hiring frenzy among rival publishers. Macmillan is close to bringing in Cy Young winner Tom Glavine as a public relations manager with a deal of up to four years, according to a source with knowledge of the discussions. Hachette and retired catcher Jorge Posada are talking: the signing would provide Hachette with a new, passionate member of its sales and marketing team--as well as some much-needed power in the heart of its line-up. Talks have reportedly stalled between HarperCollins and left-handed pitcher Randy Johnson--at issue are Johnson's history of back injuries and his InDesign acumen. HarperCollins, meanwhile, has also reportedly begun courting right-handed pitcher Roger Clemens.

Penguin Random House, however, has been conspicuously quiet. When asked to comment, CEO Markus Dohle admitted that "baseball isn't really my thing," but noted that the company is developing a significant contender for the nascent international publishing soccer league. Dohle has already begun evaluating "the wealth of talent" added to Penguin Random House by the purchase last month of the adult trade operations of Santillana Ediciones Generales, which has offices in Spain, Portugal and Latin America. "People think the Penguin Random House merger is about publishing," he said. "But with our operations in Germany, Britain, Spain and Brazil, we may be a football powerhouse for generations."

Medium- and small-sized publishers have grown increasingly exasperated with the sports spending spree. "We can't compete with those salaries," Melville House publisher Dennis Johnson commented. "It's just not a level playing field anymore." --Alex Mutter


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


B&N Changing Name to Barnes & Nobles

Taking a cue from Waterstones, the U.K. bookstore chain that dropped the apostrophe from its name for "practical" reasons two years ago, Barnes & Noble has officially changed its corporate name to Barnes & Nobles, adding the "s" primarily in reaction to "common usage" among the vast majority of its patrons.

"Our customers have spoken, and what they've said is 'Barnes & Nobles,' " a company spokesperson explained. "In fact, they've been saying it for years and we believe it is time to respond to the longtime trend. Our employees are trained not to correct them, but ultimately we decided the writing was on the wall. When you think about it, we are a chain with many stores, so the plural option is not illogical." --Robert Gray


Siglio Press: The Stampographer by Vincent Sardon


Last Day of BookCon to Feature BEA, Trade-Oriented Show

Because of editing errors, ReedPOP's announcement last week about a new national book show contained several misstatements. Following is a corrected version of that story. Shelf Awareness apologizes for the confusion.

ReedPOP, the Reed Exhibitions producer of pop culture events, is launching BookExpo America, a one-day trade-oriented show that will take place on the final day of BookCon at the Javits Center in late May.

BEA, as it's being called, will feature a small show floor on the lower level of the Javits Center and will offer a range of seminars, programs and book signings. It will draw in part on the presence and expertise of BookCon's many self-publishers and bloggers. BEA badgeholders will not have access to BookCon, although BookCon attendees are welcome to attend BEA events.

photo: Ron Hogan

BookCon show director Lance Fensterman emphasized that the new "show-within-the-show" is a remake: BEA has roots in a onetime national convention that for years drew tens of thousands of book industry people, many from parts of the business that have faded in importance as authors and readers increasingly communicate directly with each other and no longer need agents, publishers, distributors, wholesalers and booksellers.

"People in the book industry reminisce fondly about the old BEA show, which was often held in the same venue," Fensterman said. "In recent years at BookCon, we've noticed some old publishers gathering in the food court and talking about old times. We at BookCon have decided to give them a stage, as it were."

Fensterman added that the new BEA show-within-a-show will be a suitable place for "slow-moving titles that don't have a connection to pop culture. Poetry and most fiction without drawings comes to mind. Also historical books dealing with eras and events before November 2013."

Asked to comment about rumors that he had been involved with the old BEA, Fensterman spun in the air, saying, "BEA show director?! Wowzers! What a coincidence! It must have been another Lance Fensterman. This Lance Fensterman is the King of Pop... Culture." --John Mutter


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


Pew Report: More Americans Not Reading Anything

In a clarification of survey results released in January reporting that more Americans are reading e-books, but few have completely replaced print with digital editions, the Pew Research Center issued new data yesterday indicating that a substantial number of participants in the nationally representative sampling of Americans (age 18 and older) had misunderstood the nature of the study and now admitted they did not read any books last year.

The original survey had reported that in 2013, 76% of American adults said they read a book in some format, with the "typical American adult" reading or listening to five books. According to the revised numbers, however, 38% of those respondents have conceded they lied because they were under the impression that prizes would be awarded and they wanted to give "the right answer" to increase their odds of winning. --Robert Gray


Freeform: The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton


Obama to Self-Publish Presidential Memoir

Attorney General Eric Holder's press conference last week celebrating the disbursement of rebates to e-book buyers--the result of settlements by five publishers in the agency model collusion suit--was overshadowed by President Obama's off-the-cuff remark that he will spend most of the rest of his second term writing a presidential memoir and will self-publish it.

The Attorney General, in fact, displayed some annoyance as reporters crowded around the president just as Holder was introducing three consumers who were going to share how they would spend their credits of $1.12, $.59 and $2.09, respectively. "It's a proud day for America when the Justice Department can spend millions of taxpayer dollars to make five publishers cough up millions in fines and legal fees to make books a little cheaper for readers," Holder was going to say, according to prepared remarks.

For his part, Obama, in an obviously reflective mood, said, "Let's be realistic. I'm going to get clobbered in the midterms. And the Republican drumbeat about me has gone on so long that even I'm beginning to believe it. Maureen Dowd's columns don't help either. I'm pathetic and this presidency is over. I really don't have much of anything to do until my term ends. Heck, I don't even have to train Hillary, since she knows her way around the White House better than I do. The silver lining is that I'll have plenty of time to devote to writing my story, whatever it is."

Obama said the book, tentatively titled The Audacity of Hopelessness, will be a Kindle Exclusive. "My pal and senior Justice Department advisor Jeff Bezos has convinced me that this is the publishing paradigm of the 21st century. Also I get to support some of the people that I met in the Amazon warehouse in Tennessee last summer, assuming they haven't become crippled or starved to death in the meantime."

The president will be a bit of a guinea pig for Amazon, he added. He will be one of the first authors to use the company's new Rite-It-Urself™ program. --John Mutter


DOJ: Beware Bookstores & Booze

Spotty Dog Books & Ale (photo: alloveralbany.com)

Now that the agency model collusion case against Apple and five publishers is winding down, the U.S. Department of Justice appears to be focusing its attention on a new front in its ongoing battle against bricks-and-mortar bookstores. In a statement released Friday, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) said it is "aware" of the growing trend among independent bookstores to sell alcoholic beverages onsite, and that even though the establishments investigated thus far have been fully licensed and in compliance with all state and federal regulations, "the situation definitely bears monitoring."

"We are not here to legislate and this is not the Prohibition era," said an ATF spokesperson. "We simply want to increase the public's awareness of escalating alcohol consumption on the premises of businesses that have traditionally trafficked in book-related merchandise. Since this has never been an issue for Amazon or other online retailers, the bureau's focus at this time is limited to physical bookstores."

The ATF noted that "booksellers of interest" serving alcohol include the BookBar, Denver, Colo.; Books & Brews, Indianapolis, Ind.; Scuppernong Books, Greensboro, N.C.; Atomic Books' Eightbar, Baltimore, Md.; Politics & Prose, Washington, D.C.; Joe's Place, Greenville, S.C.; the Wild Detectives, Dallas, Tex.; Trident Booksellers & Café, Boston, Mass., among others. The ATF called its list "just the tip of the iceberg." --Robert Gray


Sherman Alexie's New Author Challenge: Indie Forehead Tattoos

As part of his new "Put Up or Shut Up, Go Big or Go Home" campaign, author and Indies First movement creator Sherman Alexie has challenged authors to show their love and support for their local bookstores by tattooing those stores' names directly on their foreheads.

"I've been in this Indie game longer than anyone," declared Alexie in a profanity-laden post on the American Booksellers Association's website. "Repping these Indies since day one, even before Indies First. But then here comes Ann Patchett, starting a bookstore, and James Patterson, making it rain, and Kate DiCamillo, all acting like I'm out of the game. You think you love indies? Well, it's time to put up or shut up, to go big or go home."

Joy Dallanegra-Sanger of the ABA called Alexie's challenge "a bit unusual," but said that the ABA would nevertheless throw its support behind a campaign that could so visibly raise awareness of independent bookstores. The organization's suggestion that authors might use temporary tattoos was, however, dismissed by Alexie as "some weak s**t."

As of press time, Alexie has reportedly already tattooed the names of several Seattle-area indies on his forehead, face and throat. --Alex Mutter


Jeff Kinney, WHO Aim to Eradicate 'Cheese Touch'

Children's author Jeff Kinney, creator of the popular Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, is dedicating himself to wiping out an illness he himself created: the Cheese Touch.

Introduced in the first Diary of a Wimpy Kid book in 2007, the Cheese Touch spread like wildfire through school playgrounds, cafeterias, gymnasiums and classrooms. It is estimated to have afflicted 200 million children all over the world, although exact figures are hard to confirm. Educators are at a loss for how to counter the fast-moving virus.

The Center for Disease Control has determined that a new case of the Cheese Touch is transmitted every 13 seconds, and that it's among the most contagious diseases on record. Children age six to 12 seem especially susceptible. Curiously, the Cheese Touch seems to affect nonreaders in disproportionately larger numbers, in contrast to their more literate peers.

Currently, the most common way for the Cheese Touch to be passed between humans is from the carrier's fingertip to an area of the victim's exposed skin. But scientists are concerned that the disease might make the jump from humans to birds or humans to mosquitoes, which would greatly accelerate the virus's reach. The World Health Organization fears that the Cheese Touch might one day go airborne.

Jeff Kinney has vowed to do his part by educating kids about the dangers of passing the Cheese Touch to their peers, and has been visiting schools all over the world with this message. "The Cheese Touch is no laughing matter," Kinney said. "It was careless of me to introduce it in my books, and now I'm dedicating my life to eradicating it."

Kinney's publisher, Harry N. Abrams, is under pressure from the Dairy Council to destroy all existing copies of the first book in the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series. "The negative impact of the Cheese Touch on the dairy industry can't be overstated," said Leyden Limburger. "We believe Kinney's books have poisoned people's perceptions toward a whole class of foods."

While taking responsibility for unleashing the Cheese Touch on the world, Kinney reminds people that Cheese Touch prevention is relatively easy. "All you need to do to is cross your fingers, and you won't catch it," Kinney said. "It's right there in the book. But I guess some people just don't read." --Jeff Kinney


Daylight Savings Casts Shadow on World Book Night U.S.

The extra hour of daylight added late last month is expected to have a major impact on the upcoming World Book Night as many people are indicating that they plan to sneak out during the day to distribute their WBN books.

Lennertz attempts to adjust time.

"Hello! World Book NIGHT!," said exasperated WBN U.S. executive director Carl Lennertz. "I get they're excited, but the extra hour of daylight is just exacerbating a bad situation. I already don't have a budget for T-shirts for the givers; now I have to bring in UN monitors? Sheesh."

When asked why this issue was never addressed in the adaptation of the U.K.'s plan for the U.S., Lennertz added: "Well, the sun never shines over there, does it?"

For next year, plans are in the works to bring on Red Bull as a sponsor and change the program's name to World Book Midnight. "Everyone's up watching Fallon now, so we'll ask givers to tap on windows of homes where they can see a TV on," Lennertz said. "I'm confident that will be well-received." --Carl Lennertz


TV: The Agent

The Agent, which comes from Next Entertainment and Telepictures Productions (The Bachelor, The Bachelorette), is slated to debut on ABC in September, with reality TV powerhouse Mike Fleiss set as executive producer, Variety reported. The series revolves around an internationally known literary agent, who begins the season with a pool of emerging authors (about 24), all of whom want the agent to represent their work. The agent eliminates candidates weekly at a compelling "rejection ceremony" in a lush, candle-lit mansion library, where the advancing authors are each handed a quill pen to signify their ongoing connection to the agent until, ultimately, only a single writer remains and becomes "The Client."

Participants will travel to classic literary destinations (San Francisco, London, Paris, New York City, etc.), where they will read from their work at public gatherings; engage in "heated, passionate exchanges" during workshopping sessions; attend lavish book launch parties for celebrity authors; take part in author photo shoots with world class photographers and much more, Variety wrote. In addition, they will each have numerous opportunities for "private time" in one-to-one sessions with the agent.

"This might seem like a bit of a departure for us, but the changing nature of the book business made the decision kind of a no-brainer," said Fleiss. "The schematics are not that different from what we've been working with. The increasing importance of an author's 'look' for both television and social media can't be overestimated. The fact that this is a 'co-ed' variation on our traditional theme, with men and women competing against each other for an agent's attention, should make for a smart, provocative, intriguing and attractive project." --Robert Gray


Awards: Red Bull Oddest Title Hatchet Job Prize

Organizers of Omnivore's Hatchet Job of the Year--which is given annually to the writer "of the angriest, funniest, most trenchant book review"--and the Diagram Prize for Oddest Book Title of the Year have partnered to launch the £10,000 (about US$16,620) Red Bull Oddest Title Hatchet Job Prize. In addition to the cash award, Red Bull will be supplying an unlimited amount of its energy-enhancing product line to the competitors.

The new competition will pit shortlisted Hatchet Job reviewers against one another in a live televised event on BBC 1's The One Show, where they will be challenged to critique the Oddest Title winner "with extreme prejudice." A BBC spokesman said this event is part of the network's recently announced agenda to dramatically increase coverage of books. --Robert Gray


Amazon Seeks New Rep in Capital

From the Amazon job board:

Effective January 2017. (Early posting due to extended vetting period and unusually complicated final decision-making process, involving millions of people. Company hopes to streamline process by the next posting for this position in four years.)

Job specifics: Based in Washington, D.C. Reports to CEO Bezos. Highly competitive benefits package, including security detail, centrally located manse, own jet. Travel: monthly trips to Seattle HQ, some foreign travel, occasional visits to company distribution centers. Main duty: continue merger of company with established governmental entities. Direct reports include Attorney General, Washington Post publisher, CIA director, Vice President of the United States. --John Mutter



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