Shelf Awareness for Friday, May 16, 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

News

Tomorrow Is Indies First Storytime Day

Tomorrow is the inaugural Indies First Storytime Day, an initiative spearheaded by Kate DiCamillo that will be celebrated at independent bookstores nationwide in conjunction with Children's Book Week.

Check out this Indies First Storytime Day map to see where authors and illustrators are appearing at local independent bookstores as a story hour reader volunteer. You can follow the action tomorrow through social media at hashtags #‎IndiesFirst and #‎StorytimeDay.

DiCamillo will be reading at Chapter2Books, Hudson, Wis. On its Facebook page Wednesday, the bookstore wrote: "We just had a young person in who can't wait to tell Kate DiCamillo on Saturday how much Kate's books have meant to her. PLEASE consider bringing the young people you know to meet Kate at one p.m., Saturday 17th. You probably know a superfan too. This is going to be a wonderful opportunity."


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


Amazon vs. Hachette: Delays, Protest & Analysis Continue

As the Amazon/Hachette delayed shipment dustup enters its second week, more voices have joined the tense discussion, ranging from a number of people calling for more coverage of the affair by the Amazon-owned Washington Post to protesting agents. Author James Patterson weighed in as well, expressing concern for the long-term effects. 

Politico noted that the Post "is drawing attention from media critics who question whether the paper's new owner Jeff Bezos is influencing coverage of his company," though no one is accusing the newspaper directly of foul play. Post executive editor Martin Baron cited time pressure and low staffing for the delay, adding: "Having now become aware of the subject, we're looking into it. We don't discuss what we might publish or when. But, as always, coverage decisions are based on available resources and our own independent editorial judgment." He also said Bezos has no influence on coverage decisions at the Post.

At almost the same time, the newspaper's Wonkblog offered a piece headlined "Just like big cable, Amazon wants to charge more for access to its pipes." After recapping details from last Saturday's New York Times article, Wonkblog noted: "Amazon, which didn't respond to a request for clarification from the Washington Post, is by no means unique in employing this tactic," comparing the online retailer's strategies to other multi-brand retailers like Wal-Mart and Whole Foods before asking: "So, what to make of this? It depends on how you want to think about Amazon as a middleman."

A letter sent to Amazon from the Association of Authors' Representatives, which was signed by president Gail Hochman and obtained by Publisher Weekly, stated "in the strongest possible terms that the AAR deplores any attempt by any party that would seek to injure and punish innocent authors--and their innocent readers--in order to pursue its position in a business dispute. We believe that such actions are analogous to hostage-taking to extort concessions, and are just as indefensible.... This is a brutal and manipulative tactic, ironically from a company that proclaims its goal to fully satisfy the reading needs and desires of its customers and to be a champion of authors."

In a post on his Facebook page, James Patterson, one of the authors affected by the Amazon vs. Hachette controversy, addressed the current face-off, then looked to the future:

"More important--much more important--is the evolution/revolution that's occurring now in publishing. Small bookstores are being shuttered, book chains are going out of business, libraries are suffering enormous budget cuts, and every publisher--and the people who work at these publishing houses--is feeling a great deal of pain and stress. Ultimately, inevitably, the quality of American literature will suffer.

"If the world of books is going to change to e-books, so be it. But I think it's essential that someone steps up and takes responsibility for the future of American literature and the part it plays in our culture. Right now, bookstores, libraries, authors, and books themselves are caught in the cross fire of an economic war. If this is the new American way, then maybe it has to be changed--by law, if necessary--immediately, if not sooner."


Siglio Press: The Stampographer by Vincent Sardon


PRH Creates Consumer Marketing Group

Penguin Random House has created the Consumer Marketing Development and Operations Group, which will both support the U.S. publishing groups' marketing efforts for titles, authors and categories and marketing innovations as well as lead development of full-scale company-wide corporate digital programs, platforms and partnerships.

Amanda Close
(photo: Michael Lionstar)

U.S. president and COO Madeline McIntosh commented: "By approaching marketing development this way, both from within publishing and from a broader corporate standpoint, we will be able to most effectively expand our consumer-focused capabilities, and deliver value for our publishers, authors, booksellers, and readers."

Senior v-p and director Amanda Close will head the new group. For the past four years, she has led the company's digital marketing and channel development team, overseeing the expansion and management of corporate digital platforms, partnerships and capabilities.

Her team includes Suzie Sisoler, v-p, director, consumer acquisition and engagement; Christine McNamara, v-p, director, content and partnerships; Jinny Kwon, v-p, director, consumer design and development; and Chelsea Vaughn, v-p, director, marketing operations.


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


ABFFE Seeks Volunteers for Children's Book Art Auction

The American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression and the ABC Children's Group at the American Booksellers Association are seeking volunteers from the bookselling and publishing world to help during the Children's Book Art Auction & Reception at BookExpo America May 28 from 5 to 7:30 p.m. Volunteers, who will receive free admission to the auction and be given time to share the refreshments, are needed throughout the day for setting up the art, checking people in, distributing programs, selling raffle tickets and cleaning up. Contact auction manager Inessa Spencer at inessa@abffe.org for more information.


Freeform: The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton


Obituary Note: Mary Stewart

English author Mary Stewart, the "bestselling pioneer of romantic-suspense novels" who "made the archetype of the determined, intelligent heroine her own, thrusting her into daring adventures from which she would emerge intact and happily romantically involved," died May 10, the Guardian reported. She was 97. Among Stewart's most popular works was her Merlin trilogy: The Crystal Cave, The Hollow Hills and The Last Enchantment.


Notes

Image of the Day: The Black Power Mixtape

Actor Danny Glover and former Black Panther Kathleen Cleaver in Democracy Now!'s studio, following the taping of their interview last week about The Black Power Mixtape: 1967-1975 (Haymarket). The book is based on the film with the same name, which Glover produced and Cleaver appears in.


Cross-Promotion: Chipotle's 'Cultivating Thought' Author Series

Chipotle Mexican Grill has launched a "Cultivating Thought" author series, featuring original essays by thought-leaders, authors, actors and comedians on its restaurant packaging. Jonathan Safran Foer is curating the series, which offers stories that "are meant to entertain customers while exposing them to some of the most creative and influential people of our time," the company said.

"We live in a world in which there is shrinking space for literature and writing, and less time than ever for quiet reflection," Foer observed. "The idea of expanding the space and time, of creating a small pocket of thoughtfulness right in the middle of the busy day, was inspiring to me--particularly given the size and diversity of the audience, which is America itself."

Mark Crumpacker, chief marketing and development officer at Chipotle, said the new packaging "allows customers to connect with a great selection of entertaining and thought-provoking authors they may not otherwise have encountered."

In addition to Foer, contributors to the "Cultivating Thought" series include Judd Apatow, Sheri Fink, Malcolm Gladwell, Bill Hader, Michael Lewis, Toni Morrison, Steve Pinker, George Saunders and Sarah Silverman.

Satirists couldn't resist the temptation to strike early and often regarding the new campaign: Slate featured "Cormac McCarthy's rejected contribution to the Chipotle cups project," and Bookish listed " 'Gulp,' 'Hannibal,' and more stories we don't want to read on our Chipotle cups." Noting that "other fast food joints will inevitably make a grab for the business," MobyLives offered "guidelines for submissions to other fast food chains."


Perseus Academic to Distribute UP, Scholarly Presses

The Perseus Books Group is forming Perseus Academic, a client services division dedicated to university presses and other scholarly publishers that will be headed by Sabrina McCarthy, president, Perseus Distribution Client Services.

Perseus Academic will launch in May 2015 with two new clients, Princeton University Press and University of California Press. In addition, Columbia University Press, now distributed by Perseus Distribution, will move to Perseus Academic.

David Steinberger, president and CEO of the Perseus Books Group commented: "University press leaders have been telling us that their marketplace is undergoing transformational change, and that the time is right for a service specifically designed to provide better economies of scale, cutting edge digital capabilities and other resources critical for future success."

Following the move to Perseus, Princeton University Press and University of California Press will close California Princeton Fulfillment Services Inc., an independent, jointly owned book fulfillment and distribution operation in Ewing, N.J., in spring 2015.


Personnel Changes at Kramerbooks, DK Publishing

Effective May 26, Sarah Baline will join Kramerbooks & Afterwords Cafe in Washington, D.C., in the newly created role of events director. She was previously events coordinator at Politics & Prose Bookstore. She can be reached at sarah.kramerbooks@gmail.com.

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Jennifer Bastien has joined DK Publishing as associate publicist. She was formerly marketing and editorial associate at Prospect Park Books.


Media and Movies

Media Heat: Mike Piazza on Fresh Air

Today on Fresh Air: Mike Piazza, co-author of Long Shot (Simon & Schuster, $16.95, 9781439150238).

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Tonight on PBS, American Masters airs Plimpton! Starring George Plimpton as Himself, a documentary about the journalist, Paris Review co-founder, amateur sportsman, actor and author of Paper Lion: Confessions of a Last-String Quarterback, among other books.

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Tomorrow on Fox & Friends: Joe De Sena, author of Spartan Up!: A Take-No-Prisoners Guide to Overcoming Obstacles and Achieving Peak Performance in Life (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $24, 9780544286177).

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Tomorrow on NPR's Weekend All Things Considered: Nathan Deuel, author of Friday Was the Bomb: Five Years in the Middle East (Dzanc, $14.95, 9781938604904).

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Sunday on CBS Sunday Morning: Michael Gross, author of House of Outrageous Fortune: Fifteen Central Park West, the World's Most Powerful Address (Atria, $28, 9781451666199).

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Sunday on Meet the Press: Ben Carson, co-author of One Nation: What We Can All Do to Save America's Future (Sentinel, $25.95, 9781595231123).

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Sunday on OWN's Super Soul Sunday: Shefali Tsabary, author of The Conscious Parent: Transforming Ourselves, Empowering Our Children (Namaste Publishing, $19.95, 9781897238455).


Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2.1

Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts, the feature attraction for Diagon Alley, opening at Universal Studios Florida later this summer, "isn't just a thrill ride... It's really Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2.1," the Huffington Post reported, adding that "the cast from the Harry Potter movies all really enjoyed returning to the Wizarding World and getting the chance to reprise the roles that they'd played over the course of this eight-part film series."

"I actually got to direct those scenes for this new Universal Orlando attraction in December of 2012," said Thierry Coup, senior v-p of Universal Creative. "And it was obvious that the cast members who came back to be part of the Gringotts shoot really enjoyed the opportunity to revisit these characters. I mean, these performers had spent so many years working together on that acclaimed series of films. So it was clear that they really appreciated this opportunity to revisit the world of Harry Potter. Getting the chance to portray these iconic characters one more time."

Coup added that J.K. Rowling "actually gave us a lot of creative leeway when it came to Escape from Gringotts. You see, the story that we wanted to tell with this Universal Orlando attraction kind of ran concurrently with the events which occurred during Deathly Hallows. You see, our guests just happen to be at Gringotts Wizarding Bank opening a new account on the exact same day that Harry, Ron and Hermione are trying to break into Bellatrix Lestrange's vault to retrieve a horcrux."



Books & Authors

Awards: Maxwell E. Perkins; Chautauqua

Literary agent Nicole Aragi, of Aragi, Inc., has won the Center for Fiction's 2014 Maxwell E. Perkins Award for Distinguished Achievement in the Field of Fiction, which "recognizes an editor, publisher or agent who over the course of his or her career has discovered, nurtured, and championed writers of fiction in the United States." The award will be presented at the Center's Annual Benefit and Awards Dinner in New York City on December 9.

Aragi was born in Libya, raised in Lebanon and later moved to England. She owned a small independent bookstore in London for eight years before moving to the U.S., where she worked for Gloria Loomis of Watkins Loomis as an assistant. In 2002, she founded Aragi Inc., where she has represented an impressive list of clients, including Junot Díaz, Edwidge Danticat, Julie Otsuka, Nathan Englander, Denis Johnson, Colson Whitehead, Anne Carson, Hannah Tinti, Claire Vaye Watkins Chris Ware, Rajesh Parameswaran, Jonathan Safran Foer, Aleksandar Hemon, Rebecca Makkai and Brady Udall.

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The Chautauqua Institution announced that Elizabeth Scarboro's My Foreign Cities (Liveright) won this year's Chautauqua Prize, which "celebrates a book of fiction or literary/narrative nonfiction that provides a richly rewarding reading experience and honors the author for a significant contribution to the literary arts." Scarboro receives $7,500 and all travel and expenses for a one-week summer residency at Chautauqua, the not-for-profit educational and cultural center in southwestern New York state.


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
The Sea Inside by Philip Hoare (Melville House, $27.99, 9781612193595). "Part poetic introspective, part elegy, laced with a slow sense of wonder, Hoare's new book is a uniquely refreshing work. In some ways it is a memoir; in others a naturalistic account of travel and contemplation. The result, however, is neither autobiography nor another volume in environmentalist polyphony, but the genuine and comfortably deliberate thoughts of a man who, in our age, still looks to the sea and its myriad life forms with the wonder of an explorer of old. It is bracing to discover a voice that conjures the magic of nature without the heavy hand of dogma." --Brian Boecki, Between the Covers, Harbor Springs, Mich.

All the Birds, Singing: A Novel by Evie Wyld (Pantheon, $24.95, 9780307907769). "What is Jake Whyte fleeing from? That's the central question in this dark, compelling novel written by one of Granta's Best Young British Novelists. The story, which goes back and forth in time, starts with Jake on a windswept British island trying to figure out who--or what--is picking off her sheep. Jake is a loner, but why? How did she get the scars on her back? Why is she estranged from her family in Australia? With each new chapter the reader learns what has driven Jake to this lonely existence. Wyld's writing is atmospheric, wild, and scary, but there is a sense of redemption in the end." --Carin Pratt, Norwich Bookstore, Norwich, Vt.

Paperback
The Cold Song by Linn Ullmann, translated by Barbara J. Haveland (Other Press, $15.95, 9781590516676). "Elegant and incisive, The Cold Song exposes a complex family drama that revolves around the day a beautiful young woman goes missing. When she is found murdered, her family members must sort out their suspicions of one another and question their own degrees of responsibility for her death. This novel is a startling meditation on loss, how we deal with it, how it echoes through generations, and how our mistakes cause us to lose the ones we love." --Jenny Patiño Cervantes, City Lit Books, Chicago, Ill.

For Ages 9 to 12
Eddie Red, Undercover: Mystery on Museum Mile by Marcia Wells (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books for Young Readers, $16.99, 9780544238336). "Readers are going to love fast-paced, funny, and action-packed Eddie Red, Undercover. Eddie has a photographic memory, which the NYPD would desperately like to use to catch crooks. Wells tells the story in flashback, and readers are ready to learn how all of the pieces fall into place. Kids will relate to the horrible embarrassment that parents inflict on their children every day. I laughed out loud, and I know readers will as well." --Valerie Koehler, Blue Willow Bookshop, Houston, Texas

[Many thanks to IndieBound and the ABA!]


Book Brahmin: Bill Syken

Bill Syken, a former editor and reporter with Sports Illustrated, has edited and written several titles for SI Books, including Baseball's Greatest and Packers: Green, Gold and Glory. SI's latest release, Any Given Number: Who Wore It Best, from 00 to 99 (Time Home Entertainment, May 6, 2014), debates the best athlete to wear every uniform number. Syken's novel Night of the Punter will be published by Thomas Dunne Books in 2015. He resides in Philadelphia, Pa.

On your nightstand now:

The Wet and the Dry by Lawrence Osborne. The last couple years I've been reading travel books, which I never used to do, and a favorite has been Osborne's Bangkok Days. The Wet and the Dry, which is about drinking in Muslim countries (and also about just plain drinking), is enjoyable, though it has some valleys to go along with its peaks. But I am happy to support Osborne's boozy wanderings, if only so I can continue to enjoy them vicariously. I intend to read his novel The Ballad of a Small Player this summer.

Favorite book when you were a child:

The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas and Cruel Shoes by Steve Martin. I believe I read Cruel Shoes for the first time when I was at school, during a "silent reading" period, and I struggled mightily not to laugh. At a younger age, I was a big fan of John Dennis Fitzgerald's Great Brain books, and also the Encyclopedia Brown series by Donald J. Sobol. The first nonfiction books I loved were both sports veil-lifters, and classics: Jim Bouton's Ball Four and David Halberstam's The Breaks of the Game.

Your top five authors:

In alphabetical order: Miguel de Cervantes, Patricia Highsmith, Thomas Pynchon, Philip Roth, Jennifer Weiner. In full disclosure, I live with one of these authors. Hint: it's not Cervantes.

Book you've faked reading:

I've faked reading the novels of actor Gabriel Byrne, which is particularly pernicious because I don't believe he's written any. But in general I would not actually lie about this sort of thing. I freely admit to not having read anything by William Faulkner, Junot Díaz and many, many others. With so many great books, I don't know why I would be expected to have read them all. My favorite book that I read last summer, A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry, was an Oprah book club pick in 2001, you know what I mean?

Book you're an evangelist for:

The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down by Anne Fadiman. I only bought this book because a woman in a bookstore--not a clerk, a complete stranger--talked me into it, and I'm glad she did. In an ideal world, every nonfiction book would be reported this thoroughly and patiently, and written this well.

Book you've bought for the cover:

If we're talking about the cover image, none. But I'm susceptible to being swayed by blurbs. The most recent example would be Colin Thubron's Shadow of the Silk Road, which was touted as a Washington Post Best Book of the Year and had testimonials both credible and intriguing. I bought it, and I discovered an author I intend to read more of. You can tell this travelogue was written in the previous decade because he simply mentions the food that he eats without going on and on about it.

Book that changed your life:

This fall I read Daniel Kahneman's Thinking, Fast and Slow, which is about how people make decisions and form opinions. I usually don't read books like this--I have no interest in, say, the works of Malcolm Gladwell--but Kahneman's book changed my perceptions about a great many things, from marketing to how people tell stories.

Favorite line from a book:

For something quippish, I recently liked "They wanted to raise a future Jeopardy! contestant instead of a future Jeopardy! clue" from Mo' Meta Blues, the memoir by Ahmir "Questlove" Jackson and Ben Greenman. Also, in Amos Oz's A Perfect Peace I liked it when a character said, "A man is only a man--and even that only rarely." If I were able to choose a full passage rather than a line, I would go with Orhan Pamuk's brief but magnificent chapter about his grandmother, in his memoir Istanbul. She governed her family while rarely getting out of bed, with the help of a carefully angled dressing-table mirror and a servant. I read the entire chapter out loud to my lady friend, after which she had a new role model.

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

I'd like another shot at Kate Atkinson's Jackson Brodie books and Peter Straub's Blue Rose trilogy. And this time, I'd like to read the books in their proper sequence. In both cases, I accidentally read the books out of order and I wouldn't mind a second go-around to get things right.


Book Review

Review: A Replacement Life

A Replacement Life by Boris Fishman (Harper, $25.99 hardcover, 9780062287878, June 3, 2014)

One happy byproduct of the Jewish exodus from the Soviet Union was the arrival in the West of fine writers like Gary Shteyngart, Lara Vapnyar and David Bezmozgis. In his first novel, A Replacement Life, Boris Fishman, who left Minsk for the U.S. in 1988, stakes a strong claim to be included someday in that impressive company.

Soviet immigrant and Upper East Side resident Slava Gelman is a junior staffer at a New Yorker clone. While he struggles to crack the code that will land him a spot as bylined reporter, he's consigned to writing anonymous humor pieces that poke fun at the gaffes he unearths while combing small-town newspapers. His life veers off in a wholly unexpected direction when, after the death of Slava's grandmother, his grandfather enlists his talents. Yevgeny wants his grandson to draft applications for him and a coterie of elderly Jews to receive reparations from the German government for time in "ghettos, forced labor, concentration camps."

There's only one problem with Slava's new assignment as a "curator of suffering": the elaborate accounts he crafts are works of imagination, not recollection, most notably when he transmutes his grandmother's harrowing escape from the Minsk ghetto into his grandfather's story, even though Yevgeny's actual flight involved travel to Uzbekistan, where he patiently waited out the end of the war. Under pressure to satisfy the demands of his clients and to meet a looming deadline, as he "turned lies into facts, words into money, silence into knowledge at last," Slava becomes increasingly agitated over the consequences he faces if his fabrications are discovered.

Fishman invests Slava's moral quandary with realism and pathos, while resolving it in a way that's simultaneously unpredictable and satisfying. He possesses a keen understanding of both the strivings of ambitious young New Yorkers like Slava and his kindhearted girlfriend, Ariana, and life in the "swamp broth of Soviet Brooklyn," a place seething with tribal loyalties and rivalries that transferred intact to the New World. And as much as A Replacement Life is about the inability to escape the pull of family and culture while struggling to fashion a golden new life out of the dross of the old one, it's also a wistful recognition of the elusiveness and malleability of facts, making the case that "to write a good story, the facts had to become the story's instruments." Like his protagonist, Fishman manages to keep all these plates spinning, finally bringing them to a clean stop with impressive style. --Harvey Freedenberg

Shelf Talker: The line between fact and fiction blurs when the protagonist of Boris Fishman's debut novel begins writing reparations claims for Soviet Holocaust survivors.


Deeper Understanding

Robert Gray: On Booksellers, Celebrities & Celebrity Authors

As another BookExpo America approaches, my thoughts have turned to celebrities. Not author celebrities, but celebrity celebrities (who, for BEA purposes, often mean celebrity authors). This year's BEA Book & Author Breakfasts include a generous helping of speakers whom you might be forgiven for considering celebrities first and authors second, including Neil Patrick Harris, Anjelica Huston, Jason Segel, Alan Cumming, Martin Short and Lena Dunham.

I'm not complaining, having watched booksellers, myself included, stalk celebrities in our own quiet way for a long time, including a pair of occasions when I witnessed Oprah Winfrey being engulfed by an adoring, bookish entourage. The first occurred in 1993 at the ABA convention in Miami, where I happened to attend a lush, downtown rooftop garden launch party for Oprah's soon-to-be-canceled memoir. Shielded by bodyguards, she moved across the floor within what was quite literally the eye of a party storm as the book crowd swirled around her.

photo: outcrybookreview.com

And in Chicago eight years later, the scene was repeated when she attended a BEA Author Breakfast where her friend Quincy Jones was speaking. Afterward, she left for a quick tour of the trade show. Her passage through the corridors from banquet room to convention floor became a procession, with Oprah leading and booksellers trailing in her wake.

On their home turf, most booksellers are generally more circumspect. The first unwritten rule at the bookstore where I worked for many years was that if you spotted a celebrity in the stacks, you left them alone and respected their anonymity unless they broke the ice first. The second rule was that it didn't count as a genuine sighting without credit card name confirmation.

Auntie's Bookstore, Spokane, Wash., sums up the "celebrity browsing" dynamic nicely: "Over the years, we've learned to expect a bit of celebrity here at Auntie's, and not just our own! Many community figures, actors, singers, artists and other performers are also avid readers. We don't stalk our visitors while they're here, but once in a while we feel comfortable requesting that we be allowed to take a photo."

I've noticed recently that the gossip media tends to be inordinately thrilled when it catches celebrities in bookstores:

"Taylor Swift shops at McNally Jackson, will save book publishing."
"Amber Heard celebrates birthday with Johnny Depp, couple visit a bookstore."
"Ellen Page strolls arm in arm with rumored girlfriend... Together, they hit up several neighborhood spots, including the McNally Jackson bookstore."
"She's one literary lady: Geri Halliwell wears grey trouser suit to visit a book store in North London
"Selma Blair cruises to the bookstore in carnival capri pants to pocket some great summertime reads."

Julianne Moore, BEA 2013

Generally, indie booksellers are content to practice a bookish version of catch-and-release when it comes to celebrity sightings. It's not that we don't care. No one could deny the buzz that sweeps through a bookshop when a celeb is on premises, so we're not completely jaded when it comes to celebrity encounters.

I remember a great conversation I had several years ago at BEA in Chicago during a Farrar, Straus & Giroux dinner with Paul Yamazaki, head book buyer at City Lights, San Francisco, Calif., and Billy Corgan, the Smashing Pumpkins lead singer who was about to publish a collection of poems. We discussed books and places to eat; just three dudes talking poetry and the best bratwurst vendors on the streets of Chicago.

John Stockton at BEA 2013

I'll even confess that last year at BEA, I made two special, somewhat star-struck pilgrimages to hover briefly around the signing tables of National Basketball Association legends Kareem Abdul Jabbar and John Stockton.

My all-time favorite celebrity-turned-author moment involved Bill Murray's appearance at a BEA Author Breakfast panel in Los Angeles 15 years ago for his book A Cinderella Story. After confessing that he "became a writer back in 1999. I had approximately, uh, the rest of the month to finish it," he offered a little Murrayish retail perspective for the indie booksellers in attendance: "I've never gone to the Internet and sat down and read anything, but I've never gone to the Internet and shoplifted, either."

Ultimately, I can only hope my strategy for dealing with celebrities in the book world falls well short of stalker territory and more in line with that sense we often get while on vacation of not wanting to be mistaken for a tourist. Pretend like you belong and it's all part of your everyday routine. Maybe you'll at least fool yourself. --Robert Gray, contributing editor


The Bestsellers

Top-Selling Self-Published Titles

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

1. Alpha by Jasinda Wilder
2. Smart Money Smart Kids by Dave Ramsey and Rachel Cruze
3. A Sweet Life by Various
4. Bender (the Core Four) by Stacy Borel
5. The Fixed Trilogy by Laurelin Paige
6. The Proposition 4 by H.M. Ward
7. The Resistance by S.L. Scott
8. Dark and Deadly by Various
9. A Place Called Home Trilogy Boxed Set by Patricia McLinn
10. Rule's Obsession by Lynda Chance

[Many thanks to IndieReader.com!]


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