'Readers Identify with Authors, Not Amazon'
"It's logical that readers identify more with authors than with Amazon. Amazon is a service. You may like the service but you build a relationship with authors."
"It's logical that readers identify more with authors than with Amazon. Amazon is a service. You may like the service but you build a relationship with authors."
Sad news from New York City: Posman Books, which has had a 5,000-square-foot space in Grand Central Terminal for "15 wonderful years," must vacate the space by the end of the year because of the Terminal's plan "to upgrade and improve pedestrian circulation," Posman's Robert Fader said. He added, "We have been in discussions with Grand Central for several years, but they have been unable to find us a suitable location. Needless to say we are very sorry to be leaving."
The Posman Books location is under the proposed One Vanderbilt project, a 65-story office building that would tower over the Terminal; its owner is offering to pay for $210 million in Grand Central pedestrian passageway and subway platform improvements.
After the closing, Posman's location will be used temporarily by the Terminal for storage for new restaurants planned for Vanderbilt Hall.
Posman, which also has stores in the Chelsea Market and Rockefeller Center, is planning to open its new, 2,000-square-foot location in Brookfield Place (the former World Financial Center), next to the World Trade Center complex, in March 2015.
Posman's departure from Grand Central is another case of the negative effect New York City real estate prices and dynamics have on bricks-and-mortar bookstores. In April, Rizzoli Bookstore had to close its elegant shop on W. 57th St. because the building was being demolished for a new project; since then, Rizzoli has found new quarters on Broadway between 25th and 26th Streets. It plans to re-open in the spring.
Potterton Books, which in July closed its store in the D&D Building lobby at 979 Third Ave. (between 58th and 59th Streets), has re-opened on the fourth floor of the New York Design Centre, 200 Lexington Ave., between 32nd and 33rd Streets. The company specializes in design and decorative arts books; its headquarters is in North Yorkshire, England, and it also has a shop in Chelsea in London.
And just last week, Barnes & Noble, which has the only general bookstore in the Bronx, said it was closing that branch because of rising rent. But after community protests and the intercession of Bronx borough president Ruben Diaz Jr., the landlord agreed to extend B&N's lease for two years with no increase in rent.
|Owner Tony Russo prepares for his TV appearance at the newly re-opened Russo's Books.|
Russo's Books, which closed its bricks-and-mortar store at the Marketplace in Bakersfield, Calif., earlier this year, has found a new location at 1601 New Stine Road and "remains an active part of the Bakersfield community," KBAK News reported.
Even though "one of the biggest reasons for Russo's initial closing was the growing popularity of e-books," owner Tony Russo said that for some people, a print book can't be replaced: "They like to have their personal copy. They can write in the book and make notes in the book, and people like to have a little library in their home."
BookHampton's Charline Spector told the paper she plans to reopen before the holiday season and noted that the store is doing better financially since BookHampton asked customers in May to buy a book and save the store.
BookHampton also has stores in East Hampton and Southampton.
Dallas businessman Samuel Wyly, who put Explore Booksellers, Aspen, Colo., and its building up for sale this summer for $6.5 million, has "filed for bankruptcy protection as he and the estate of his brother face as much as $400 million in penalties after being found liable for hiding stock holdings overseas," the Aspen Times reported. Sam and Cheryl Wyly bought the bookstore and building for $4.4 million in 2007.
In September, a group that included Bill Stirling, husband of Explore's late founder and longtime owner Katherine Thalberg, ran an advertisement in support of continuing the bookstore, noting that the "group of locals, second home owners and visitors are trying to find a viable way to buy the property and save Explore."
The German union Verdi is calling for another strike against Amazon, this time at five of the retailer's nine warehouses in Germany, Reuters reported. Workers are scheduled to go on strike today through Wednesday at the Bad Hersfeld, Leipzig, Rheinberg and Graben warehouses, and Monday and Tuesday at Werne.
Verdi wants Amazon to raise pay for workers to match union pay at other warehouses in the country, while Amazon has argued that its staff are logistics workers, and receive better pay than other logistics workers in Germany.
At the Northern California Independent Booksellers Association trade show in South San Francisco last week, ABA CEO Oren Teicher thanked the group for ending the regional show season on "such a high note." Attendance was even with last year--110 bookstores--but the energy and enthusiasm at the two-day event was noticeably up.
This was the first year NCIBA adopted a Discovery theme, and in opening the show's first author lunch, Amy Thomas from Pegasus Books in Berkeley and Oakland said that the stellar lineup of speakers reflected the membership's strong partnership with publishers and reps and was indicative of the shared value of "helping each other with great discoveries."
|Joshua Davis signs his first galley ever for Christie Olson Day of Gallery Bookshop in Mendocino.|
In speaking about her new novel, The Children's Crusade (Scribner, Apr.), a multigenerational story set in the Bay Area, Ann Packer recalled driving around after 9/11 hearing that Americans were praying in churches, temples and mosques, and thinking, "I'm not." Is there a way to make a congregation that is not religious, she wondered. "This room is it."
Stewart O'Nan said that when he toured for his 2008 novel, Last Night at the Lobster, every journalist wanted to meet at Red Lobster, so his wife challenged him to come up with a more glamorous setting for his new book. He decided on the Golden Age of Hollywood: West of Sunset (Viking, Jan.) is set in 1937 Hollywood, and its main character is F. Scott Fitzgerald in his third and final stint there. With Zelda institutionalized back east and an elusive mistress in Los Angeles, O'Nan said, Fitzgerald was dead broke, living in a rented apartment and overshadowed by Hemingway's success. Yet, O'Nan did not see Fitzgerald's Hollywood experience as a failure, since that was when he rediscovered himself as a writer while working on The Last Tycoon, which he knew was good. "It's hard to admit," said O'Nan, "but, for a writer, that's all that matters."
The seeds for Orhan's Inheritance (Algonquin, Apr.) were planted, debut novelist Aline Ohanesian said, when her family's matriarch took her away from watching The Sound of Music to share the family's experience in the Armenian genocide. "It was the first and only time she spoke about her past," said Ohanesian. Orhan's Inheritance is about a young man ignorant of his family's past and an old woman who is haunted by hers.
In speaking about his nonfiction debut, Spare Parts: Four Undocumented Teenagers, One Ugly Robot, and the Battle for the American Dream (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, Dec.), Joshua Davis first explained how he fell into a job as a "real journalist" at Wired after his fourth place (out of four) win in an competition landed him on the National Arm Wrestling Team, sent to compete in Poland. Later, as a journalist bombarded with press releases, one stood out: about a group of Mexican kids, led by two teachers in Arizona, who used spare auto parts to beat MIT in a robotics competition. Though he's excited that Spare Parts has been made into a movie (due in January), Davis said the ending--with Marissa Tomei and Jamie Lee Curtis at the awards banquet--tells only half the tale. The second half of his book, Davis said, shows the challenges the four teens faced, which included deportation and one kid's dream of serving in the United States military.
|Handselling queen: A Great Good Place for Books' Kathleen Caldwell with author Jandy Nelson.|
In A Small Indiscretion (Random House, Jan.), Jan Ellison said, she wanted to mine that feeling when "you know your life is finally your own," but her debut novel turned out to be the story of a 40-year-old happily married mother when "exactly the opposite turns out to be true." Similarly, PEN/Faulkner finalist T. Geronimo Johnson--who has temporarily left the Bay Area to teach writing in Iowa--said he is "interested in characters who don't yet have the world figured out." In his new novel, Welcome to Braggsville (Morrow, Feb.), four Berkeley kids go to Georgia and happen upon a Civil War reenactment and "it does not go very well."
A literary agent who did not write "one word of fiction" until she was 40, Jandy Nelson opened the YA author's tea on Thursday by sharing her recent discovery via Twitter that Kathleen Caldwell, owner of A Great Good Place for Books in Oakland, had handsold 76 copies of I'll Give You the Sun in the first two weeks after it was published by Dial in September. The author of The Sky Is Everywhere said this new book, about twins--a painter and his increasingly superstitious sister--chose her. As for booksellers like Caldwell, Nelson said, "Thank you for whacking people over the head to read our stories."
|Frank Portman prepares to blow out the sound system at the YA Author Tea.|
Instead of reading from his new book, King Dork Approximately (Delacorte, Dec.), Frank Portman--who also fronts the punk band The Mr. T Experience--talked about the similarity between songwriting and writing from a teen perspective--before he blew out the sound system performing a song called "Cynthia with a Y."
Scholastic authors Raina Telgemeier (Sisters) and Kazu Kibuishi (Amulet #6: Escape from Lucien) shared the stage, although as graphic novelists, Telgemeier said, they prefer to have people look at their work rather than listen to them speak. She recalled that her father, a professor at San Francisco State University, took her to bookstores, where she fell in love with comics. "You make kids happy and you make my dad happy," she told the NCIBA booksellers. Kibuishi said he was three when his family moved to the U.S. from Japan, and he learned about America from Garfield and Mad magazine. Later, he discovered that Steinbeck and Hemingway painted with words, and when he realized he would not have to be the doctor or lawyer that was expected of the eldest Japanese son, Kibuishi said, he tried to create "literary amusement park rides," where a kid could "take an Amulet book out of their bag and fly."
Today's YA readers, unlike his teenage self or back in the 1950s, "when teenagers were getting invented," observed Scott Westerfeld, make writing a part of their reading experience. In his new novel, Afterworlds (Simon Pulse), his protagonist Darcy puts college on hold when her NaNoWriMo success lands her a book deal, placing her among a group of YA novelists that resembles the real group of novelists--John Green, Shannon Hale, Matt de la Pena and Holly Black, among them--with whom Westerfield has been meeting weekly in a New York bar since 2005. Afterworlds juxtaposes Darcy's paranormal romance novel with her experiences of getting it published. "In a way," said Westerfield, "it's my 600-page answer to the question, Where do you get your ideas?"
|Brunch speakers Rebecca Solnit, Sarah Thornton, Garth Stein, Melissa Cistaro and T. Jefferson Parker.|
On Friday, NCIBA president Calvin Crosby told attendees at the author brunch that they would get a chance to discover his Book Passage colleague, Melissa Cistaro--who emceed the event--as a debut author when Sourcebooks publishes her memoir, Pieces of My Mother, in May.
In speaking about A Sudden Light (Simon & Schuster), his new "spiritual ghost story" informed in part by dreams of his recently deceased father, Garth Stein shared that he once spent the night in the Arthur Conan Doyle room of the inn attached to A Book for All Seasons in Leavenworth, Wash. He listened to the occupant of the Roald Dahl room above him move furniture all night--only to discover upon checkout that he was the inn's sole guest. "So don't tell me there are no ghosts," he said. "I like to believe in the magic."
In 33 Artists in 3 Acts (Norton, Nov.), Sarah Thornton does not provide a single answer to the question of what makes an artist, but offers a fly-on-the-wall perspective of the lives and works of a variety of contemporary artists. The author of Seven Days in the Art World divides her new book into three parts: politics (where she contrasts Ai Weiwei and Jeff Koons, two master media manipulators); kinship (where she focuses on working artist couple Laurie Simmons and Carroll Dunham, before their daughter Lena hit superfame with Girls); and craft (where she juxtaposes commercial artist Damien Hirst with the more cerebral Andrea Fraser).
"Most of you know me as a mystery/thriller guy," said T. Jefferson Parker, who remembered fondly his first event at his local bookstore 30 years ago for his debut novel, Laguna Heat, set in his hometown of Laguna Beach. Since then, Parker has moved to a very different kind of Main Street USA town, on the outskirts of Camp Pendleton near San Diego. When a battalion of marines returned from Afghanistan having suffered the worst casualties and fatalities of the war, Parker said, he knew he wanted to tell a returning soldier's story, but had some doubts about writing a "literary novel." So he allowed himself to "moonlight as a literary novelist" while producing two more thrillers. The result is Full Measure, recently published by St. Martin's Press. "This is not 'the Great American Novel,' " said Parker, "but it is a good American novel and I'm proud of it."
The final NCIBA author speaker, Rebecca Solnit, called herself "the Octomom of American Letters," referring to her vast and varied backlist that reflects her self-proclaimed identity as an essayist who is obsessed with maps. Just that morning, Solnit noted, Lena Dunham had tweeted about Solnit's Men Explain Things to Me (Haymarket, May). Solnit's new book, The Encyclopedia of Trouble and Spaciousness (Trinity University Press, Oct.), contains her often-shared--and misquoted--essay about the Google buses and how they make San Francisco a bedroom community for Silicon Valley. "There's good news," said Solnit. "People still love books and we're still writing them. And you make it possible by selling them." --Bridget Kinsella
Bookshop Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, Calif., hosted Neil Patrick Harris last week, for one of his only nine appearances around the country for Choose Your Own Autobiography (Crown). The event was held at the historical Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium, which was packed with more than 1,875 fans--the store sold 1,970 books--who got to see Harris in conversation with his husband, David Burtka.
Standing row, l.-r.: bookseller Georgine Ballasone, events consultant Susan McCloskey, marketing director Stefanie Bernston, NPH and Burtka, Bookshop Santa Cruz owner Casey Coonerty Protti, events coordinator Julia Sinn, booksellers Andrea Aquino and Rachel Swan. In front: (left) head book buyer Melinda Powers; (r.) bookseller Kimberly Carroll.
Since opening last fall, Curious Iguana bookstore, Frederick, Md., "has donated more than $10,000 to international charities through its operations as a benefit corporation," Bookselling This Week reported, adding that customers visiting the bookshop "will see behind the store's counter a large world map with pins denoting the countries and regions where contributions have been sent, along with a list of nonprofits that have received donations."
"I think it's important for our customers to understand that part of the money they spend in our little bookstore in downtown Frederick is part of a bigger picture around the world," said Marlene England, co-owner with her husband, Tom. "I've talked to customers who say they will only buy books from us because they want to support an indie bookstore rather than a faceless corporation. I think they see it as added value--kind of the icing on the cake--that their purchase also supports a larger mission of helping people around the world."
Jenny Bicks (The Big C) is adapting Karen Russell's novel St. Lucy's Home for Girls Raised by Wolves for ABC. Channing Powell (The Walking Dead) will write the script "with Bicks on board to supervise. John Jacobs will also exec produce the drama," the Hollywood Reporter wrote
The Mark Gordon Company has sold half-hour family comedy Plus One to ABC. Deadline.com reported that the project is "loosely based" on author and journalist Christopher Noxon's upcoming debut novel, "a comedy about female breadwinners, male householders and the dynamics of a nontraditional Bay Area family." Noxon will write the adaptation, with Gordon and Andrea Shay executive producing.
This morning on Morning Joe: George Clinton, co-author of Brothas Be, Yo Like George, Ain't That Funkin' Kinda Hard on You?: A Memoir (Atria, $27, 9781476751078). He will also appear tomorrow on NPR's Morning Edition and MSNBC's Politics National with Al Sharpton.
Today on Fresh Air: Jill Lepore, author of The Secret History of Wonder Woman (Knopf, $29.95, 9780385354042).
Today on the Diane Rehm Show: Herbie Hancock, co-author of Herbie Hancock: Possibilities (Viking, $29.95, 9780670014712).
Today on Tavis Smiley: Norman Lear, author of Even This I Get to Experience (Penguin Press, $32.95, 9781594205729).
Tonight on the Late Show with David Letterman: Amy Poehler, author of Yes Please (Dey Street Books, $28.99, 9780062268341). She will also appear tomorrow on Live with Kelly and Michael and Late Night with Seth Meyers.
Tonight on Jimmy Kimmel Live: Billy Idol, author of Dancing with Myself (Touchstone, $28, 9781451628500).
Tonight on the Daily Show: Wendy Davis, author of Forgetting to Be Afraid: A Memoir (Blue Rider Press, $27.95, 9780399170577).
Tomorrow morning on Good Morning America: Sadie Robertson, co-author of Live Original: How the Duck Commander Teen Keeps It Real and Stays True to Her Values (Howard Books, $22.99, 9781476777801). She will also appear on Entertainment Tonight.
Also on Good Morning America: Tracy Pollan, co-author of The Pollan Family Table: The Best Recipes and Kitchen Wisdom for Delicious, Healthy Family Meals (Scribner, $30, 9781476746371).
Tomorrow morning on the Today Show: Tanya Holland, co-author of Brown Sugar Kitchen: New-Style, Down-Home Recipes from Sweet West Oakland (Chronicle Books, $29.95, 9781452122342).
Tomorrow on NPR's All Things Considered: Diane von Furstenberg, author of The Woman I Wanted to Be (Simon & Schuster, $26, 9781451651546).
Tomorrow on the Diane Rehm Show: David Rothkopf, author of National Insecurity: American Leadership in an Age of Fear (PublicAffairs, $29.99, 9781610393409).
Tomorrow on the Ellen Degeneres Show: Steve Harvey, author of Act Like a Success, Think Like a Success: Discovering Your Gift and the Way to Life's Riches (Amistad, $25.99, 9780062220325).
Tomorrow on Tavis Smiley: David Ritz, co-author (with Tavis Smiley) of Death of a King: The Real Story of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s Final Year (Little, Brown, $27, 9780316332767).
Tomorrow on Live with Kelly and Michael: Stanley Tucci, co-author of The Tucci Table: Cooking With Family and Friends (Gallery Books, $30, 9781476738567). He will also appear on the Chew.
Tomorrow night on Late Night with Seth Meyers: George R.R. Martin, co-author of The World of Ice & Fire: The Untold History of Westeros and the Game of Thrones (Bantam, $50, 9780553805444).
Tomorrow night on the Colbert Report: Michael Lewis, author of Liar's Poker (25th Anniversary Edition): Rising Through the Wreckage on Wall Street (Norton, $25.95, 9780393246100).
Amy Mason won £10,000 (US$16,090) Dundee International Book Prize, which honors "an unpublished novel on any theme and in any genre," for The Other Ida, the Bookseller reported. In addition to the cash award, the winner receives a publishing deal from Cargo Press.
Just Call Me Superhero by Alina Bronsky, trans. by Tim Mohr (Europa Editions, $16 trade paper, 9781609452292, November 4, 2014)
Teenager Marek's face was horribly disfigured in a much-publicized Rottweiler attack. He has joined a support group for young people with physical and mental impairments that meets in the meditation room of the Family Services Center in Berlin. There, he encounters the stunning and wheelchair-bound Janne, along with an 18-year-old drag queen, a handsome blind boy, a kid with progressive organ failure and another with a prosthetic leg, all under the guidance of the nervous counselor they call the guru, who intends to capture what happens among them in a documentary film.
Marek, formerly photogenic, was once the star of his young theater company, but now he's afraid to be a part of any group. He doesn't want to be touched physically or emotionally. He's an angry handful for his single mother, a lawyer, as he tries to readjust to society with a face that makes people gasp. When he falls in love with the seductive Janne, he has to learn to control his own vicious Rottweiler of jealousy.
This brave entourage of disabled misfits and their guru/filmmaker set off into the forest on a weeklong field trip to make their documentary at a three-story, state-of-the-art, handicapped-accessible villa. But their project is interrupted by reality: Marek's father, who ran off with the family's pregnant au pair, has fallen to his death in the Swiss mountains. The second half of the novel centers around his spectacular vodka-laced Ukrainian funeral, a complicated family collision with Marek's six-year-old half-brother and widowed young stepmother that completes Marek's return to life.
Russian-born writer Alina Bronsky (Broken Glass Park) has a gift for transforming an awkward moment into a jewel of revelation that makes her story rich in genuine character comedy. The plotting is deft and assured; a radical turn midway through the book still feels of a piece, with a cumulative emotional impact as Marek embraces the other, unknown part of his family and comes to terms with his hatred of dogs and loathing of his own disfigurement. Marek is Bronsky's centerpiece and an expertly manipulated narrator for both halves of the story. He leaves out just one little detail, and Bronsky cleverly waits until nearly the end before casually dropping her big surprise, which quietly changes everything. In this, her third novel, Bronsky is at her best. --Nick DiMartino, Nick's Picks, University Book Store, Seattle, Wash.
Shelf Talker: in this German story of finding one's place in the world, a disfigured teenager in Berlin joins a support group that's making a documentary.