Shelf Awareness for Monday, September 15, 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

Authors United Sending Protest Letter to Amazon Directors

Authors United, the group of more than 1,000 authors led by Douglas Preston that has protested Amazon's treatment of authors in its battle against Hachette, is sending a protest letter to the 10 members of the Amazon board of directors, appealing to them, "with hope and goodwill, to exercise your governance and put an end to the sanctioning of books, which are the very foundation of our culture and democracy."

Authors United members have until Wednesday to sign the letter, which then will be sent to the board, the New York Times said.

Amazon's sanctions against Hachette authors include refusing preorders, delaying shipments, reducing discounts and using pop-up windows to cover authors' pages and redirect users to non-Hachette books, and have led, the letter wrote, to significant drops in sales for many Hachette authors.

The letter emphasized the signers' diversity, and noted that many are not Hachette authors: "No group of authors as diverse or prominent as this has ever come together before in support of a single cause. We are literary novelists and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalists; thriller writers and debut and midlist authors. We are science fiction and travel writers; historians and newspaper reporters; textbook authors and biographers and mystery writers. We have written many of your children's favorite stories. Collectively, we have sold billions of books. Amazon's tactics have caused us profound anguish and outrage."

The letter continued: "We find it hard to believe that all members of the Amazon board approve of [the sanctions]. We would like to ask you a question: Do you as an Amazon director approve of this policy of sanctioning books?

"Efforts to impede or block the sale of books have a long and ugly history. Would you, personally, want to be associated with this? We feel strongly that such actions have no place in a common commercial dispute. Amazon has other negotiating tools at its disposal; it does not need to inflict harm on the very authors who helped it become one of the largest retailers in the world....

"We are certain that you, as an Amazon board member, prize books and freedom of expression as much as we do. Since its founding, Amazon has been a highly regarded and progressive brand. But if this is how Amazon continues to treat the literary community, how long will the company's fine reputation last? We appeal to you, with hope and goodwill, to exercise your governance and put an end to the sanctioning of books, which are the very foundation of our culture and democracy."

The board includes several venture capitalists, as well as Jamie Gorelick, a partner at Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr, the major Washington, D.C., law firm, and deputy attorney general during the Clinton administration.


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


Hachette Head to Attend SIBA Lunch for James Patterson

Michael Pietsch

In other Amazon-Hachette news, Hachette Book Group CEO Michael Pietsch will attend the "Thanksgiving for James Patterson" lunch this Saturday, September 20, during the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance Discovery Show in Norfolk, Va.

The lunch, SIBA said, was "originally conceived as a way to thank James Patterson for his support of independent bookstores over the past year with his 'Bookseller Pledge' to give $1 million in grants to independent stores in recognition of their unique and critical role in the book industry, the literary community, and to book lovers in general."

SIBA executive director Wanda Jewell said she invited Pietsch because "struggles between New York publishers and giant online retailers can seem very far away to the small town bookstore, but in the end, whether it is standing up for your business in a corporate boardroom or standing up for your shop at your local city council meeting, we are all passionate about the chance to bring new voices into print... we all love books and want the industry to stay vibrant and healthy."


Siglio Press: The Stampographer by Vincent Sardon


The Paper Peddler in Avalon, N.J., to Close

The Paper Peddler, Avalon, N.J., will close at the end of the month after 46 years in business. The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that "a changing demographic in a town where a trend toward fewer and fewer rental properties--and more vacation homes used exclusively by the owners--means a smaller weekly turnover of customers."

"So much of what we have always sold is just not what people want to buy anymore," said owner Craig Cunningham, adding that it is "the ephemera department that has taken the biggest hit."

The "heart and soul of the store had always been the book department," the Inquirer noted. Deborah Martinelli said the "hardest part of closing the store, for me, will be losing that daily contact with the customers... that hand-selling of a book. This summer has been a little like going to a daily funeral. Saying goodbye to everyone has been difficult for us."

Cunningham, who will be honored with a special proclamation Wednesday by the Avalon Borough Commission and Mayor Martin Pagliughi, said, "So many of my touchstones are being wiped away at this moment, so it's a situation that really breaks my heart."


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


Writer's Block Bookstore Opening in Winter Park, Fla.

"When I was back at school, I was taking sort of an aerial view of myself: others go to lunch and play tennis, I sit in a classroom reading," said Lauren Zimmerman, the owner of Writer's Block Bookstore, which is set to open in Winter Park, Fla., by early October. "That's just my nature, to be surrounded by books and learning."

Writer's Block Bookstore will be a 1,300-square-foot bookstore with a varied selection of books. Zimmerman has no prior experience as a bookseller or retailer, but she does have a diverse background that includes 12 years an interior designer and 20 years as an attorney. The store's inventory, she said, will reflect that background, with books on architecture, interior design and social work, in addition to extensive fiction, nonfiction and children's sections. Zimmerman doesn't plan to have a cafe or bar in the store, but will offer free wi-fi, comfy chairs throughout the shop and a selection of hot and cold tea.

"The goal is to be very community oriented," Zimmerman explained. "I just want people to walk in and feel immediately comfortable."

Her decision to open a bookstore came rather suddenly: some seven or eight months ago, while back at school in pursuit of a Master's degree in social work, Zimmerman heard an NPR segment about Parnassus Books in Nashville, Tenn.

"I listened to it and thought, I want to open up a bookstore," Zimmerman recalled. "I've always loved bookstores; when I go on vacations I visit the bookstores in all the big cities."

The fact that Orlando, of which Winter Park is an upscale suburb, had no independent bookstores made Zimmerman even more interested. She brought up the idea with her husband and other friends and family members, and got encouragement every step of the way. She began researching in earnest--she took a class on opening a bookstore with Paz & Associates and looked extensively at possible locations.

"That's also part of my nature," said Zimmerman. "It's the student in me--I won't jump into something before I've researched it to the nth degree."

She decided very quickly that the store would have to be in Winter Park, where Zimmerman has lived for the past 40 years and which she described as a beautiful, pedestrian-friendly community full of great restaurants and nice hotels.

"Winter Park is a destination," she said. "People come from Orlando to walk around and eat and see the town."

Lauren Zimmerman

Zimmerman plans to host frequent book clubs, author events and writing groups at the store, and her first author event will most likely be with Houston Gunn, a local high schooler who has written two books about personal finance and entrepreneurship. The first of those books, Schooled for Success: How I Plan to Graduate from High School a Millionaire, was endorsed by Donald Trump. Zimmerman hopes to bring Gunn in to speak to students, children in foster homes and at-risk youth.

She's looking to open in time for Winter Park's 41st annual Autumn Art Festival, a "community oriented sidewalk show" that will be held October 11 and 12 in Winter Park's Central Park. The store's grand-opening celebration would follow in early November. And although she won't be up and running for another month or so, Zimmerman will have the bookshop's doors open on September 18 for Winter Park's Sip, Shop & Stroll event.

"We won't be open for business, but we'll have some giveaways," said Zimmerman. The event will be a great opportunity for customers to drop by and see the store before it opens. And so far, all the feedback that she' gotten from community members has been great. "I've gotten over 700 likes on our Facebook page and haven't even opened yet, and I'm getting two or three calls a day from people interested in doing things with the store," Zimmerman gushed. "People are saying this is great, they're all really excited that there's going to be a bookstore here finally." --Alex Mutter


Freeform: The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton


In Dutch-Language Market, bol.com and Kobo Team Up

Kobo and bol.com, which bills itself as "the largest provider of e-books in the Netherlands and Belgium," have joined forces: as of today, all Kobo's e-readers and tablets are available on bol.com and e-books purchased on bol.com are accessible on Kobo devices. Together the companies are offering some two million digital books in Dutch.

An upcoming bol.com-Kobo app will allow users to read on any tablet or smartphone, and the companies said that over the next few months, they will "launch innovations to make digital reading even more user-friendly."

Launched in the Dutch-language market in 1999, bol.com has been selling digital products for five years and says it has 4.5 million customers in the Netherlands and Belgium. It is owned by Ahold. Kobo entered the market in 2012.


Obituary Note: Stuart Thorogood

Stuart Thorogood, "a man of many parts; an author and journalist who was also well known as a colorful and quirky Soho 'scenester,' " has died, the Guardian reported. He was 36. His works included the novels Outcast and Outside In, as well as a memoir, Drink Me.


Notes

Image of the Day: Literary Achievement at Parnassus

A busy day at Parnassus Books in Nashville, Tenn.: owner/founder Ann Patchett (r.) stopped by at the same time children's book author Peter Brown (Mr. Tiger Goes Wild) was in the back signing some stock and Katy Simpson Smith was at the store preparing for a discussion/signing for her debut novel, The Story of Land and Sea.

Last week, it was announced that Patchett is the winner of the 2014 Kenyon Review Award for Literary Achievement. The prize honors careers of extraordinary literary achievement, recognizing writers whose influence and importance have shaped the American literary landscape. Past winners include Carl Phillips, Margaret Atwood, Umberto Eco, Roger Angell and Louise Erdrich.


Happy 25th Birthday, DIESEL!

Congratulations to DIESEL: A Bookstore, which is marking the 25th anniversary of its first store, in Oakland, Calif., with a 25-Hour Celebration beginning Friday, September 26, at 3 p.m. and running (during business hours) until 6 p.m. on Sunday, September 28.

Friday events include libations, pie, a 15% sale on everything in the store and live bluegrass in the evening. On Saturday, in addition to a 15% sale on all children's books, there will be milk, cookies, origami and read-alouds from 10 a.m. to noon, face painting at 11 a.m., acoustic folk music at 3 p.m., and "our famous Literary Karaoke" at 7 p.m. Sunday starts with coffee & croissants with local authors at 11 a.m. and at 3 p.m. Siobhan Adcock discusses and signs her novel The Barter. Used books are 15% off all day.

During the party, DIESEL will promote its Indiegogo campaign, which aims to raise enough money for a new computer system and for major "sprucing up... from sofa to shelves, redecorating the kids department, refitting lights with environmentally-friendly bulbs and fixtures."

"We want to thank you and revel with you in the joyous survival of our local neighborhood bookstore. Please join us!," wrote John Evans, Alison Reid and "all DIESELfolk."


Square Books: 'Melting Pot of America's Contemporary Literature'

A story in the Swiss newspaper Le Temps (available in English through WorldCrunch.com) profiled Square Books, Oxford, Miss., and its owners Richard and Lisa Howorth. He's a former ABA president and former mayor of Oxford; she recently published a novel, Flying Shoes (Bloomsbury USA).

"It's a difficult environment," Richard said. "We've been feeling the recession since 2008." Yet Square Books has forged a place for itself in the hometown of William Faulkner by being "a melting pot of America's contemporary literature, a crossroads between the state capital of Jackson and the Mississippi Delta," the paper wrote. "Virtually all of the most important and successful writers in the United States--from Toni Morrison, Jim Harrison and Allen Ginsberg to Richard Ford, Barry Hannah and John Grisham--have visited Oxford's bookstore."

The store, Richard added, is "a place that reinforces the feeling of belonging to a community, that wants to be open to the world and culture."

"In 35 years, the Howorths have developed an emotional relationship with American authors who have converged in Oxford," the paper concluded. "Richard remembers having to pick up three of them from the police station after they got themselves arrested for misbehaving in the streets of the university town. Visiting writers often stay with the couple in their Victorian home, which Lisa has turned into a permanent literary salon. There, far from New York and Washington, they talk about the South, the North, bourbons and world affairs."


Wyoming Indies: Building Community

"Wyoming independent bookstore owners say a mix of the growing localism movement and bolstering their stores with new products has them seeing some light at the end of the tunnel after years of declining sales, and despite more challenges ahead," the Casper Star-Tribune wrote.

Vicki Burger of Wind City Books in Casper told the paper: "If you had asked me five years ago how things were going, I felt like one of the old monks in an old scriptorium must have felt when Gutenberg invented the printing press." But the store has strengthened ties to the community, for example, by serving as a ticket hub for fundraisers, with a "community window" to promote nonprofit events, and providing a venue for local authors to hold book signings and readings. She said younger customers are particularly receptive. "You would think (they) would be more inclined to buy online since they understand the technology... but they're not."

Storyteller in Thermopolis also focuses on the community. Since she purchased the store five years ago, Ellen Reed does such things as keep a list of her customers' favorite authors, and orders each writer's latest offering before her customers even have to ask. "They walk in, we know their drink," Reed said. "We have a Wyoming section of books full of local authors that we do wonderful with."

At CityNews in Cheyenne, book sales have increased in the last couple years, and the store sells coffee, greeting cards and small gift items, too. Manager Alan Warren is trying to counteract a general loss of a sense of community by offering Italian classes, hosting book clubs and holding a weekly canasta competition. Concerning canasta, he commented: "It looks complicated, but they feel comfortable, they're not rushed out the door, they spend time getting to know one another."


Personnel Changes at Little Pickle Press

Laura Mancuso has joined Little Pickle Press as v-p of sales & marketing. She was formerly special markets sales manager and a member of the Kids Task Force at Lonely Planet.


Media and Movies

Media Heat: Ken Follett on Edge of Eternity

This morning on CBS This Morning: Ken Follett, author Edge of Eternity: Book Three of The Century Trilogy (Dutton, $36, 9780525953098). He will also appear tomorrow morning on Morning Joe.

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This morning on the Today Show: Rebecca Alexander, co-author of Not Fade Away: A Memoir of Senses Lost and Found (Gotham, $27, 9781592408313). She will also appear tomorrow on NBC's Meredith Vieira Show.

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Today on NPR's Diane Rehm Show: Ian McEwan, author of The Children Act (Nan A. Talese, $25, 9780385539708).

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Today on ABC Radio's A Touch of Grey: H.D.S. Greenway, author of Foreign Correspondent: A Memoir (Simon & Schuster, $26, 9781476761329).

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Tonight on the Daily Show: Ken Burns, co-author of The Roosevelts: An Intimate History (Knopf, $60, 9780307700230).

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Tonight on CBS Entertainment Tonight: Mark Whitaker, author of Cosby: His Life and Times (Simon & Schuster, $29.99, 9781451697971). He will also appear tomorrow on Morning Joe, Inside Edition and MSNBC's Ronan Farrow Daily.

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Tomorrow on Fox News' the Kelly File: Douglas Brunt, author of The Means: A Novel (Touchstone, $26, 9781476772578). He will also appear on Fox Radio's Alan Colmes Show.

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Tomorrow morning on the Today Show: Don Joseph Goewey, author of The End of Stress: Four Steps to Rewire Your Brain (Beyond Words/Atria, $15, 9781582704913).

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Tomorrow night on Late Night with Seth Meyers: James Ellroy, author of Perfidia: A Novel (Knopf, $28.95, 9780307956996).

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Tomorrow night on CNN Tonight: Stephen Seager, author of Behind the Gates of Gomorrah: A Year with the Criminally Insane (Gallery Books, $26, 9781476774497).


Movies: The Imitation Game Wins TIFF Prize; Serena Trailer

The Imitation Game won the Grolsch People's Choice Award at the Toronto International Film Festival, "cementing its status as an Oscar-season front runner," the Los Angeles Times reported. The film, adapted from Alan Turing: The Enigma by Andrew Hodges, was directed by Morten Tyldum and stars Benedict Cumberbatch. Weinstein Co. will release The Imitation Game November 21, "and is expected to campaign heavily for award nominations for Cumberbatch, Tyldum and co-star Keira Knightley as well as the film as a whole," Deadline.com wrote.

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A trailer has been released for Serena, based on Ron Rash's novel and starring Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper. Indiewire reported that the film, directed by Danish filmmaker Susanne Bier (What We Lost in the Fire, After the Wedding), "will debut at the London Film Festival next month and will open in U.K. theaters October 24." Magnolia bought U.S. rights to the film, but no release date has been announced yet.


TV: Digital Fortress

Brian Grazer and Ron Howard's Imagine Entertainment (The Da Vinci Code, Angels & Demons) "is reteaming with bestselling author Dan Brown to adapt another one of his books, this time for the small screen," Deadline.com reported, noting that Digital Fortress "has landed at ABC with a put pilot commitment."



Books & Authors

Book Review

Review: The Betrayers

The Betrayers by David Bezmozgis (Little, Brown, $26 hardcover, 9780316284332, September 23, 2014)

In his afterword to this story about a discredited Israeli Minister of Trade's retreat to Crimea with his mistress, David Bezmozgis (whose first novel, The Free World, was shortlisted for the 2011 Scotiabank Giller Prize) recognizes the risks of setting a contemporary, politically layered fiction in countries in the news. While acknowledging that Crimea's recent annexation by Russia and the armed conflict between Israel and Gaza have made his novel's settings more broadly recognized, he also "felt frustrated that world events conspired to undermine my designs for the book." It's hard to invent events in a world that lives up to the expression "you can't make this stuff up." To Bezmozgis's credit, The Betrayers tells such a rich story of the Russian persecution of dissident Jews, the rabid Zionism of many Israeli immigrants and the complicated personal lives of those caught in history's maelstrom that it could be an enduring success regardless of the front-page news.

Baruch Kotler rose in Israeli politics as a dissident hero who survived 14 years in a Soviet Gulag and championed Jewish self-determination. But in his mid-60s, his public repudiation of the Prime Minister's decision to dismantle settlements in the West Bank leads to his political downfall and swift relocation to Yalta with his young mistress, Leora. With niggling ambivalence, he leaves behind Miriam, his wife of 40 years, his 18-year-old daughter, Dafna, and his son, Benzion, a young soldier in the Israeli army. Naïvely, he has hopes of a quiet life of love on the beaches of Crimea--until he discovers that the aging owner of his rental cottage is the same turncoat Russian Jew whose betrayal sent Kotler to the Gulag. Caught in an emotional cauldron of lust, vengeance and regret, Kotler is forced to examine his choices and attempt to do the right thing with regard to Leora, his family, his country and the former KGB informant--a decision made more difficult because of all the baggage he carries in his 60s compared to his unencumbered 20s. With resignation, he reflects that "we walk hand in hand with fate. We choose to follow it or pull against it... it is character that decides, and the trouble is, we don't decide our characters. We are born as we are."

Just as there is no easy answer to strife in Eastern Europe or the Middle East, there is no clear path forward for Kotler. Bezmozgis has engagingly captured all the historical and moral ambiguity hanging over the head of one man trying to sort out what's right in a world of wrongs. However, it is Kotler's wife, Miriam, who puts his situation in the context of a verse from Ecclesiastes: "For there is not a righteous man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not." The Betrayers is a powerful novel--both timely and timeless. --Bruce Jacobs, founding partner Watermark Books & Cafe, Wichita, Kans.

Shelf Talker: In his second novel, David Bezmozgis captures timeless moral questions of betrayal and loyalty in the timely context of Crimean and Israeli history and politics.


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