Shelf Awareness for Friday, October 3, 2014


Little Brown and Company: The Balcony by Jane Delury

Houghton Mifflin: Playing Atari with Saddam Hussein: Based on a True Story by Jennifer Roy with Ali Fadhil

Tarcherperigee: F You Very Much: Understanding the Culture of Rudeness--And What We Can Do about It by Danny Wallace

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

News

Skyhorse and Perseus Buying Good Books Assets

Skyhorse Publishing and Perseus Books Group have teamed up to buy the assets of Good Books, the Intercourse, Pa., publisher that filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in December. Under the transaction, Skyhorse, which won the bankruptcy auction for all Good Books assets, has sold Good Books' Mayo Clinic line to Perseus, which distributes Skyhorse. The Mayo Clinic books will be published by Perseus's Da Capo Lifelong imprint, which already is the publisher of The Mayo Clinic Guide to Stress-Free Living and the upcoming Mayo Clinic Handbook for Happiness.

Skyhorse is keeping all other Good Books assets, including the Fix-It and Forget-It series, the Amish and Mennonite fiction books, as well as health, gift and other lifestyle titles.

"The logistics of this deal were very challenging, and there were many twists and turns, but we found a way to bring the various groups together to make this work for all parties," said Tony Lyons, president and publisher of Skyhorse. "We are honored to take over Good Books from its brilliant founders, Merle and Phyllis Good."


Page Street Kids: Beneath the Haunting Sea by Joanna Meyer


Egmont USA for Sale

Egmont Publishing group is selling its publishing operations in the U.S. as part of what it termed "an overall strategic focus on market leading positions." Recently merged Egmont Publishing, employing 2,400 people in 30 countries, plans to engage in books and magazine businesses only where the company can hold a leading market position. As a result, it will sell Egmont USA and exit the "standalone position" in the U.S. market.  

"Since 2009, and starting from scratch, Egmont USA has built a children's fiction and young adult fiction list, and it has a strong plan for the future under the excellent leadership of managing director and publisher Andrea Cascardi," said Rob McMenemy, CEO of Egmont Publishing International. "The company has a highly talented and experienced team, a readymade fiction list and a growing backlist. This makes it an attractive proposition for a children's publisher looking for scale or a publisher looking to develop a children's book business."

Egmont has hired Broadwater & Associates, a New York investment banking firm specializing in publishing and other media and information businesses, to handle the sale.


Soho Crime: My Name Is Nathan Lucius by Mark Winkler


HarperCollins Giving Authors Extra 10% Royalty on Online Sales

HarperCollins has launched a program giving its authors an additional 10% net royalty on all sales of their titles--e-book and print books--sold through the HarperCollins website, hc.com, which was relaunched in July and can sell titles directly to consumers.

HarperCollins suggested that authors add a buy button linking to hc.com on their sites, integrate the hc.com shopping cart directly to their sites and use social media to direct consumers to purchase products from hc.com.

"While our first priority is to sell books through as many different retail channels as possible, we are pleased to provide this platform for our authors who want to sell directly," said HarperCollins president and CEO Brian Murray. "Our authors can also be certain that their books will always be available to consumers through HarperCollins, even if they are difficult to find or experiencing shipping delays elsewhere. Since we view this program as both a service to our authors and a partnership with them, those who participate will receive additional earnings."

The e-commerce program will start in the U.S. and expand to other HarperCollins divisions over the coming months. Royalties will be paid through the royalty system and will appear on an author's royalty statement.

Some observers saw the move as competitive against Amazon in general, and particularly if the e-tailer ever treats HarperCollins books the way it is treating Hachette titles now. Some authors and agents complained that the extra royalty should more properly be called a referral fee or commission, and one author said authors are being "put in the middle" between the publisher and bookstores--and at the same time, not sharing equitably in direct-sale savings.


Ecco Press: Tangerine by Christine Mangan


And the Wi10 T-Shirt Design Contest Winner Is...

Larry Law of Anderson's Bookshop, Naperville, Ill., won the $150 grand prize in the American Booksellers Association's 2015 Winter Institute T-shirt design contest. Bookselling This Week reported that his design, which features "landmarks and other symbols from a decade of Winter Institute host cities," will appear on T-shirts for volunteers and select guests at Winter Institute 2015 in Asheville, N.C., February 8 to 11. A limited number of T-shirts will also be sold at the event.

Other contest finalists were Carolyn Anbar of Watchung Booksellers, Montclair, N.J.; Chad Kuntz of Auntie's Bookstore, Spokane, Wash.; and Shelly Walston, Watermark Books & Café, Wichita, Kan.


Perseus Forms Academic Advisory Board

Perseus Books Group has formed an academic advisory board to work with its recently launched Perseus Academic distribution division. The group will meet regularly to discuss the trends and challenges facing university presses, analyze the current and future state of academic and scholarly publications and review the implications of these results for Perseus Academic's service offering.

Board members include Peter Dougherty, director of Princeton University Press; Alison Mudditt, director of University of California Press; Jennifer Crewe, director of Columbia University Press; Jim Jordan, former director of Columbia University Press and Johns Hopkins University Press; Bill Newlin, publisher of Avalon Publishing Group, including Westview Press; and Lara Heimert, publisher of Basic Books.

"It is a time of extraordinary change in the world of academic and scholarly publishing," said David Steinberger, president and CEO of Perseus. "We are gratified to be partnering with leaders in this field to support the continued success and growth of academic publishing programs."


Amazon Warehouses: Kansas Closure; Florida Opening

Amazon plans to close a 15-year-old warehouse in Coffeyville, Kan., in February, the AP reported. Coffeyville Chamber of Commerce executive director Stacia Meek said that Amazon told her that "the closure is part of a move to have its distribution centers closer to the bulk of its customers," the AP said.

Coffeyville is about 70 miles north of Tulsa.

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Amazon's second fulfillment center in Florida, a one-million-square-foot facility in Hillsborough County, is now open, 10News reported, adding that the "new Ruskin center shipped its first item, a Disney Frozen doll, on Sept. 24 to a customer in New York." The Lakeland warehouse opened in August.


Kim Weiss Shares Sunrise, Sunset

sunrise sunset book coverAfter 20 years of working at Health Communications Inc., the publisher of Chicken Soup for the Soul and other inspirational titles, Kim Weiss has found herself on the other side of the author/publisher fence for the first time. Her first book, Sunrise, Sunset: 52 Weeks of Awe and Gratitude, a collection of her photographs paired with inspirational quotes from other writers, will be published by HCI in late October.

"It was an unexpected occurrence," remarked Weiss. "It was a hobby that turned into a book."

Weiss lives in Boynton Beach, Fla., in a building overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, and is high enough up to have a view of the sunset to the west. "I live in a beautiful place; I have an amazing view and am truly in awe," she said. "I've caught myself actually gasping."

Kim Weiss
Kim Weiss

She began taking photos of the view as a hobby, and eventually shared them with family and posted them on Facebook. People kept liking them, Weiss recalled, and before long were urging her to put them all in a book. Her boyfriend also started writing little haikus to go along with her photos, and she started to see the potential for creating a "cute little book" of photos. Instead of pairing them with haikus, though, she decided to reach out to a variety of inspirational writers and leaders for material.

Weiss sent out short, three-part questionnaires to potential contributors, some of whom she had worked with before and others whom she simply admired. Contributors were supposed to choose one out of the three questions to answer. "Most of them returned it with one answer," Weiss recounted. "But the Type A people answered all three and then I had to pick for them."

From there, Weiss collaborated with her editor and the book's art director to pair the photos with passages and then put them in sequence. She stressed that although she was very pleased with all of the book's entries, her favorite passage was M.J. Rose's, which opens the book. "I love them all," she said. "But M.J. Rose is the first entry in the book for a reason."

The book's official publication date is October 28; Weiss will soft-launch the book on October 25 at the Peoria Women's Lifestyle Show in Peoria, Ill. From there, she has an extensive promotional tour laid out, including an official launch at Books & Books, appearances at Bookstore 1 in Sarasota, Fla., and visits to Barnes & Noble stores in Pittsburgh, Pa., Boca Raton, Fla., and Santa Monica, Calif.

A significant portion of the proceeds of Sunrise, Sunset, will be donated to the charity AVDA, Aid to Victims of Domestic Abuse. HCI had a charity connected with each book in the Chicken Soup for the Soul series, and Weiss felt that was the perfect thing to do with her book.

"Giving back is part of the fabric of HCI," Weiss explained. "In this case, the owner and his wife (of HCI) are involved here locally with AVDA, so it seemed the right thing to do."

When asked what it felt like to be an author after 20 years in publishing, Weiss had one immediate answer: "Weird." Then she added, "It's oddly wonderful." --Alex Mutter


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

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

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

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Notes

Image of the Day: Kids Support the Crayons

Towne Center Books, Pleasanton, Calif., celebrated The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt, illustrated by Oliver Jeffers (Penguin), with cool crayon activities, including this Crayon Protest. The kids made picket signs to support the crayons and marched down the block chanting "Crayons!" The bookstore reports that "Heads turned, and we totally spread the word. We support the Crayons!"


Happy 10th Birthday, Mrs. Dalloway's!

Congratulations to Mrs. Dalloway's Literary Garden & Arts bookstore, Berkeley, Calif., which is celebrating its 10th anniversary this month. Co-owners Marion Abbott and Ann Leyhe originally met in 1975, then reunited in 1984 when "they had common interests in books, publishing careers, children and homes in the neighborhood," the Contra Costa Times wrote. Their business is "a hybrid of literature, garden items and the owner's dedication to authors' back titles, not just current bestsellers, which gives the store what Abbott calls 'street cred.' "

"Ann has a beautiful, acute eye," Abbott said. "She's responsible for how inviting the store is and people come here for her gardening advice, not just for books."

Leyhe observed that "Marion's brilliance has many layers, but among them is an enthusiasm for finding exactly the right book for someone. She's great in the business world: she knows how the book world works." Leyhe attributes the store's survival to correcting " 'a million little small things' daily. Never resting on their laurels, never saying, 'now we understand everything,' has been key to withstanding the publishing world's slippery slope," the Contra Costa Times noted.

Mrs. Dalloway's will officially celebrate its birthday October 18-19 with a sale and flowers for customers, and the first 25 customers each day will also receive a limited-edition letterpress broadside, designed by Berkeley artist Gregoire Vion and featuring a quotation from the store's namesake Virginia Woolf novel.


Personnel Changes at Penguin Random House

At Penguin Random House sales special markets:
 
Lisa Vitelli has been appointed v-p, premium sales.
Christine Dillon has been promoted to v-p, director, proprietary and diversified sales.
Amy Zenn has been appointed v-p, imprint sales.


Media and Movies

Media Heat: Billy Idol on CBS Sunday Morning

Today on Fresh Air: Jeff Guinn, author of Manson: The Life and Times of Charles Manson (Simon & Schuster, $17, 9781451645170).

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Sunday on CBS Sunday Morning: Billy Idol, author of Dancing with Myself (Touchstone, $28, 9781451628500).


TV: The Astronaut Wives Club

Yvonne Strahovski (24: Live Another Day, Chuck) will play one of the leads in ABC's 10-episode drama series The Astronaut Wives Club, adapted by Stephanie Savage from Lily Koppel's book and directed by Lone Scherfig, according to the Hollywood Reporter. The cast also includes Odette Annable, JoAnna Garcia Swisher, Dominique McElligott, Desmond Harrington and Bret Harrison. The project was originally set to air last summer, but was pushed back to mid-season.


Movies: Twilight Shorts Competition; The Imitation Game

Stephenie Meyer "is passing the baton to aspiring filmmakers to put their spin on the franchise," Indiewire reported. Lionsgate has launched "The Storytellers--New Creative Voices of the Twilight Saga," which the company described as a "multiphase contest" that will eventually see five female filmmakers direct shorts based on characters from the series.

A panel that includes Meyer, Kristen Stewart, Kate Winslet, Octavia Spencer, Jennifer Lee, Catherine Hardwicke, Julie Bowen and Cathy Schulman "will select and help mentor the budding directors, with the final shorts premiering on Facebook," Indiewire wrote, adding that the winning directors will also receive a cash prize and "vaguely described 'career opportunities.' "

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A new trailer has been released for The Imitation Game, based on the book Alan Turing: The Enigma by Andrew Hodges, Indiewire reported. The film, which stars Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightley, Matthew Goode, Mark Strong, Charles Dance, Allen Leech, Matthew Beard and Rory Kinnear, opens November 14 in the U.K. and November 21 in the U.S.



Books & Authors

Awards: Goldsmiths; Writers' Trust of Canada

A shortlist has been released for the £10,000 (about US$16,150) Goldsmiths Prize, which celebrates fiction "that opens up new possibilities for the novel form." The winner will be announced November 12. This year's shortlisted titles are:

Outline by Rachel Cusk
The Absent Therapist by Will Eaves
J by Howard Jacobson
The Wake by Paul Kingsnorth
In the Light of What We Know by Zia Haider Rahman
How to Be Both by Ali Smith

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Writers' Trust of Canada unveiled finalists for the Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize, recognizing authors of the year's best novel or short story collection. The winner will be named November 4. This year's shortlisted titles are:

Pastoral by André Alexis
The Confabulist by Steven Galloway
All Saints by K.D. Miller
Girl Runner by Carrie Snyder
All My Puny Sorrows by Miriam Toews

Three finalists were also announced for the Writers' Trust/McClelland & Stewart Journey Prize, "recognizing new and developing writers for the best short story first published in a Canadian literary journal during the previous year."


Book Brahmin: Andrew Grant

 

photo: Carrie Schechter

Born in Birmingham, England, in 1968, Andrew Grant studied English literature and drama at the University of Sheffield, then set up and ran a small independent theater company that showcased a range of original material to local, regional and national audiences. Following a critically successful but financially challenging appearance at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Grant moved into the telecommunications industry as a "temporary" solution to a short-term cash crisis. He escaped corporate life 15 years later and published the David Trevellyan series of novels (Even, Die Twice and More Harm Than Good). Run (Ballantine Books, October 7, 2014) is a stand-alone thriller. Grant is married to novelist Tasha Alexander and lives in Chicago, Ill.

On your nightstand now:

Why We Build by Rowan Moore; Mies van der Rohe by Franz Schulze and Edward Windhorst; The Sinner by Tess Gerritsen; Hanging Hill by Mo Hayder; and The Railway Man by Eric Lomax.

Favorite book when you were a child:

Watership Down by Richard Adams, the book I've reread more times than any other. My original copy from 1978 is still on my shelves, jammed between Douglas Adams and Isaac Asimov, coverless, and faded almost to the point of illegibility. Once I overcame my disappointment at the lack of the sunken ship that the title seemed to promise, I found it had everything I could possibly want from a story: a great cast of characters (okay--rabbits), a healthy disregard for established authority, courage, danger, camaraderie, self-sacrifice, cunning, refusal to surrender regardless of the consequences (an essential ingredient for anyone with Irish blood) and the heroes' ultimate triumph against overwhelming odds.

Your top five authors:

A tough question to answer. If pressed, I'd say the five authors who have had the greatest impact on me personally and professionally would be Arnold Lobel, Alistair MacLean, George Orwell, William Shakespeare and Samuel Beckett.

Book you've faked reading:

None. I learned to read quite early, and when I started school in Birmingham, I quickly worked my way through nearly all the books in the (rather small) class library. When I was six, my family moved to a town much closer to London, and on my first day at my new school the teacher asked which of the books in that class's library I'd read. My answer: none. Her conclusion: that I was illiterate. Unable to conceive the possibility that a school 150 miles away may have had a different selection of books on its shelves--and unwilling to listen to my explanation--she tried to banish me to the year group below. Her attempt was unsuccessful, but it left me with a lifelong aversion to people who judge you based on what you haven't read, rather than what you have.

Book you're an evangelist for:

The Miernik Dossier by Charles McCarry. I've always been fascinated by different ways of telling stories, and the way McCarry weaves an intricate, multilayered tale through a set of "documents" rather than a traditional narrative is nothing short of brilliant.

Book you've bought for the cover:

I bought John Dies at the End by David Wong for the title. Does that count?

Book that changed your life:

Ice Station Zebra by Alistair MacLean. This is the book that marked my growing-up as a reader, and the one that's more responsible than any other for me wanting to become a thriller writer myself. One of my most prized possessions is a first edition that my wife bought me a couple of years ago, but I first read it in 1978 or '79, thanks to the grade-school teacher I had at the time. One day he caught me with a book under my desk--probably Watership Down--which I was using to distract myself from the mind-numbingly dull projects he used to waste the class's time with, and the sight of it set him off on a bizarre rant: "You think you're a good reader, do you, Grant? Well let me tell you: You're not. Not if that's all you can manage. That book's for babies. You're not a good reader unless you can go to any bookcase, anywhere, pick up any book, and read it without thinking." Read without thinking? A strange concept, you might say. But I wasn't concerned about that, back then because his words had struck me as a challenge. So that night I approached my father's bookshelves and took down the first book my hand fell upon. Somewhat nervously I looked at the title. "Sweet!" I thought, feeling relieved. "There are stations on the ice? And they have zebras at them? This is going to be fun!" And it was.

Favorite line from a book:

"All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others." From George Orwell's Animal Farm. Even at a young age, I tended to view the world through the contradictory lenses of hopeless naivety and miserable cynicism, so this book--which so elegantly demonstrates how the best of intentions can lead to the worst of outcomes--made me feel like I wasn't totally out of touch with human nature after all.

Which character you most relate to:

Bernard Samson in the Game, Set & Match, Hook, Line & Sinker and Faith, Hope & Charity trilogies by Len Deighton.

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

Red Dragon by Thomas Harris. Near the beginning of the book, Harris unveils a perplexing crime scene through the eyes of FBI profiler Will Graham, and the moment it becomes clear why the killer arranged things the way he did literally sent a shiver down my spine.


Book Review

Review: Crooked River

Crooked River by Valerie Geary (Morrow, $25.99 hardcover, 9780062326591, October 14, 2014)

Sam McAlister, the 15-year-old narrator of story writer Valerie Geary's first novel, has her hands full. Her mother recently died of a heart attack on July 4 and her 10-year-old sister Ollie, obsessed with Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and shadowed by the ghost of their mother, refuses to talk. After disappearing from their suburban family life in Eugene, Ore., for two years, their father, Bear, now lives in a teepee and keeps bees along the Crooked River outside rural Terrebonne. With few options, Sam and Ollie move in with Bear, and almost immediately discover a woman's brutally beaten corpse snagged in a tree branch hanging over a river eddy.

When the local deputy sheriff puts together enough evidence to lock up the odd and reclusive Bear for the murder, Sam's bad summer takes a serious turn for the terrible. It's hard enough being a teenager with a "regular" family, but now she has to take care of herself and Ollie and try to prove Bear's not a murderer. In exasperation, she laments that "adults were supposed to fix things, not make them worse."

Geary alternately tells her story in Sam's tomboy teen voice and through Ollie's silent observations and channeling of the ghosts she describes as "shimmering... like heat rising off pavement... the shiny, light parts people leave behind when they die." Crooked River is as much a coming-of-age novel as it is a well-paced mystery. Metaphorically punctuated with strategic quotations from Alice and nuggets of bee lore, it is also a story of family--in whatever shape it may come.

The mystery, however, drives the narrative. Despite the deputy's admonishment that she not be "a Nancy Drew," Sam methodically uncovers clues suggesting her father's innocence; the victim was a reporter on assignment, hoping to profile the town's other recluse, a formerly famous artist secretly at work on a sculpture to reclaim his reputation. But Sam's nosy poking around also reveals secrets about her father and the cause of his two-year disappearance from their lives.

When vandals destroy Bear's beehives, Sam takes a lesson from the bees: "Those who survived the violence... needed to go and find a better place, a new hive where they could start over." And when Sam's efforts on her father's behalf are finally rewarded, she finds comfort in her new understanding that "love is a wide-eyed believer in second chances and impossibles." Geary takes teenage Sam through a looking-glass and then pulls her back with an adult's sense of loyalty and compassion--a journey equally worthwhile for all of us. --Bruce Jacobs, founding partner Watermark Books & Cafe, Wichita, Kan.

Shelf Talker: In Geary's first novel, two young sisters solve a murder mystery and in the process discover the challenges of adulthood and the essence of family.


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