Shelf Awareness for Friday, November 7, 2014


HarperCollins: Dear Girl, by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Paris Rosenthal, illustrated by Holly Hatam

Little Brown and Company: The Recovering: Intoxication and Its Aftermath by Leslie Jamison

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

News

B&N: One Store Saved, Another Closing

The Barnes & Noble bookstore in Harrisonburg, Va., which was slated to close in January, will remain open thanks to a grassroots campaign to save it and a new lease agreement. The store's manager told WHSV: "We are very happy to be able to continue to serve the community that has made us a part of their lives for 11 years now."

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B&N's store in Apple Valley, Minn., will close December 31, the Pioneer Press reported. Store manager Renee Waclaw said, "I have so enjoyed supporting the local community and will miss hosting the wonderful events that have been so enjoyable for us here at the store."


William Morrow & Company: My Dear Hamilton: A Novel of Eliza Schuyler Hamilton by Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie


General Retail Sales in October: Slight Gain in Quiet Month

October's retail sales offered "a preview of the quarterly reports from retailers that are due to begin rolling in next week," the Wall Street Journal reported, noting several companies "have already warned that their sales won't meet expectations." For the month, sales at stores open at least a year were up 2.5% at the eight retailers tracked by Thomson Reuters, matching analysts' estimate. Sales increased 3.7% for the same period last year.

Ken Perkins of Retail Metrics said October sales weren't as bad as feared, but he was surprised they weren't stronger, given recent signs of economic recovery. He added that "shoppers are increasingly driven by events such as back-to-school season and holidays, and October falls in between the two largest shopping seasons of the year," the Journal wrote.


Binc Foundation: Helping Booksellers #MoreThanEver Donation Campaign


Morrow to Publish Harlequin Nonfiction Titles

Nonfiction titles acquired by Harlequin for August 2015 and beyond will be published on the William Morrow list. News Corp. acquired Harlequin Enterprises from Torstar Corp. earlier this year and made it a division of HarperCollins.
 
As a result, the following changes have been made: Effective December 1, Deborah Brody joins Morrow as executive editor, reporting to Cassie Jones; and Cara Bedick becomes a senior editor at Morrow, reporting to Deborah Brody. Rebecca Hunt will be a senior editor at the Harper Design group effective November 10, reporting to Marta Schooler.


Page Street Kids: Beneath the Haunting Sea by Joanna Meyer


Scribd Adds Audiobooks to Its Offerings

Scribd, the document sharing site and digital book subscription service, has expanded its offerings with more than 30,000 audiobooks, including titles from Blackstone, HarperCollins, Naxos and Scholastic. The monthly subscription fee of $8.99 remains unchanged. Scribd is partnering with Findaway World's AudioEngine platform to power its audiobook section.

Trip Adler, co-founder and CEO of Scribd, said, "Audiobooks are more than a $1 billion a year industry and a natural extension of Scribd's existing content offering. This has been one of our most popular requests and we're excited to reach book lovers wherever they are and however they choose to read--or listen."

"We are thrilled to work with Scribd on an audiobook offering," added Chantal Restivo-Alessi, chief digital officer, HarperCollins. "Audio is a growing category and one that needs additional distribution channels. By making our audiobooks available through Scribd, we're opening up a much wider market for our authors' works."


Tomorrow Is Neighborhood Toy Store Day

On Neighborhood Toy Store Day tomorrow, members of the American Specialty Toy Retailing Association will celebrate "the joy of play and the importance of shopping locally with in-store parties and other festivities," Bookselling this Week reported, noting that among those taking part will be indie booksellers BookSmart, Morgan Hill, Calif., and Givens Books & Little Dickens, Lynchburg, Va.

"I think it is a great kickoff for the holiday season and our customers seem to really enjoy it," said BookSmart co-owner Brad Jones. "We have done this the last few years, and it is really fun and raises awareness of the store at a time when the rest of the media is focused on Black Friday and all the craziness that revolves around that. It really is a pleasure to be the anti-big-box store and do something that has real meaning."

Danny Givens, owner of Givens Books & Little Dickens, added: "I think this year could be really different for us and will serve to get real attention for us as a neighborhood store."


Neil Gaiman, Robie Harris Honored for NCAC's 40th Anniversary

John Hodgman, author and "Resident Expert" on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, emceed the 40th anniversary celebration of the National Coalition Against Censorship, held Monday night at Tribeca 360 in Manhattan, striking just the right notes of gravity and levity.

Hodgman highlighted some of the NCAC's work, such as defending Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse Five in 1974 and Chris Ofili's painting The Holy Virgin Mary--which incorporated elephant dung and was denounced by then-Mayor Rudy Giuliani--in 1999. "Last week, I covered myself in elephant dung at the Brooklyn Museum," Hodgman quipped. "NCAC was not there. I was arrested."

Judy Blume, Trumbull High School's Larissa Mark, Amanda Palmer, Neil Gaiman.
(l.-r.) Judy Blume, Trumbull High School's Larissa Mark, Amanda Palmer and Neil Gaiman.

Hodgman expressed great respect for the Trumbull [Conn.] High School Thespian Society, whose production of Rent was nearly banned by their administration. Four of the students performed two songs from the show they saved through their "Trumbull for Rent" petition and social media campaign. The NCAC honored Larissa Mark, who led the effort to save the musical, and she thanked everyone for their support, including the principal who originally cancelled the production, for "keeping an open mind."

NCAC executive director Joan Bertin explained that the organization was founded in response to the 1973 case of Miller v. California, prohibiting speech "characterized as obscene." She said that in 1974 there were 250 bills introduced in 37 states to restrict free speech, including the banning of Slaughterhouse Five and Deliverance in North Dakota. "Our voice is amplified by our ability to speak collectively," Bertin said.

Jerilynn Williams, director of the Montgomery County Memorial Library System in Texas, introduced award recipient Robie H. Harris, author of It's Perfectly Normal (Candlewick), which celebrates its 20th year in print. Williams went to bat for the book 12 years ago with her "Main Street Montgomery" campaign, writing news stories and editorials to defend the book, free speech and the First Amendment.

Robie Harris, Jerilynn Williams
Robie Harris with Jerilynn Williams

The NCAC recently defended Harris's book Who's in My Family? when it was removed from the national library in Singapore for its depiction of different kinds of families, including a gay couple. Two other children's books, And Tango Makes Three and White Swan Express, were reinstated but shelved in the adult section of the library. It was too late for Who's in My Family?, which had already been "pulped." Harris thanked the NCAC, her publisher Candlewick for standing by what she thought was "right for children to know," and the teachers and librarians who defend authors' works.

Up next was Neil Gaiman's wife with the "controversial middle name," as Hodgman introduced her: Amanda F--king Palmer. She sang a song about "her influences": "Judy Blume." "I don't remember the details of seventh grade. All I remember is lying and being afraid.... You'll be inside me forever, Judy Blume," Palmer sang.

Charles Brownstein, executive director of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, introduced Gaiman, who "served a 12-year sentence" on the CBLDF, according to the author. Gaiman said he met the people from Knockabout Comics in England at age 23, when they were having trouble importing Robert Crumb's works. He cited a customs law dating back to Victorian times, "meant for noxious plants; someone added 'all literature,' and they were now allowed to confiscate 'all noxious books.' " At 26, Gaiman contributed to Knockabout's Outrageous Tales from the Old Testament (1987), and found himself defending it against a member of Parliament. "Then I came to the U.S., where there were no customs laws," said Gaiman, "You have this wonderful, glittering, glorious thing called the First Amendment." --Jennifer M. Brown


Notes

Image of the Day: Happy 40th, Heyday!

Photo: Alain McLaughlin

Independent nonprofit California publisher Heyday celebrated its 40th anniversary with a gala event at the Berkeley Art Museum/Pacific Film Archive last weekend. Among the attendees at the sold-out event was author Maxine Hong Kingston, pictured here with Heyday publisher Malcolm Margolin and board chair Guy Lampord.


Cool Idea of the Day: Kew Gardens Pop-Up Bookstore

A pop-up bookstore is scheduled to appear in the Kew Gardens neighborhood of Queens, N.Y., November 13 at ThinkingCAP, offering works by local writers and other artists including novelist Sweta Vikram and poet Richard Newman, DNAinfo New York reported.

Emin

Publisher Deborah Emin, who also started a popular reading series in 2008 "because we had no bookstore in Kew Gardens," said her pop-up initiative was "a way to present the community with one thing bookstores can offer--readings by authors of their newest books. She also noted that the neighborhood has "both a vibrant reading community and a large writing community" and hopes the event will prove that "a full-scale bookstore would be viable here."


Personnel Changes at Regan Arts

Effective November 17, Emi Battaglia will join Regan Arts as director of marketing and publicity. She has been v-p, associate publisher and marketing director at Grand Central Publishing and earlier worked at Simon & Schuster, Goldberg McDuffie Communications, St. Martin's Press and New American Library.


Media and Movies

TV: The Perfectionists

The team behind ABC Family's drama series Pretty Little Liars will develop The Perfectionists, a new project for Alloy Entertainment based on the new YA book series by Pretty Little Liars author Sara Shepard. Deadline.com reported that The Perfectionists "is being executive produced by Marlene King, who developed PLL for television and serves as executive producer/co-showrunner on the series. She also will supervise the script."

The Lying Game, Shepard's second YA book series after Pretty Little Liars, was an ABC Family drama that ran for two seasons. She launched two new book series in 2014: The Heiresses, which has been in development at Bravo, and The Perfectionists.


Media Heat: Anjelica Huston on Fresh Air

Today on Fresh Air: Anjelica Huston, author of A Story Lately Told: Coming of Age in Ireland, London, and New York (Scribner, $25, 9781451656299).

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Sunday on 60 Minutes: Mark Owen, co-author of No Hero: The Evolution of a Navy SEAL (Dutton, $27.95, 9780525954521).



Books & Authors

Awards: International Dylan Thomas; CWA Dagger in the Library

Joshua Ferris won the £30,000 (US$47,514) International Dylan Thomas Prize, presented annually to the "best literary work in the English language, written by an author aged 39 or under," for his book To Rise Again at a Decent Hour, the Guardian reported. The winning title was praised by the judges as a "novel which encapsulates the frustration, energy and humor that goes into the making of New York."

Chair of judges Peter Florence commented: "People who can make comedy from human tragedy are rare and wonderful. It's an incredibly hard thing to do and takes a kind of genius to deliver it on the page."

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Finalists have been announced for the Crime Writers' Association Dagger in the Library award, sponsored by Dead Good to honor the body of work to date of an author who has published at least three books. The shortlisted authors are Sharon Bolton, Elly Griffiths, Mari Hannah, James Oswald and Mel Sherratt. The winner will be named in early December.


Book Brahmin: Lalita Tademy

photo: Chris Hardy

Lalita Tademy spent more than a decade running business units within large Silicon Valley companies. In 1998, she was named an African-American Innovator in the New Millennium at the Silicon Valley Tech Museum of Innovation. But her own interest in her family's roots, and the ongoing issues of racism and women's empowerment, plus her love of writing, led her to focus all of her energies on her second career: writing. Tademy's debut novel, Cane River, was Oprah's summer book pick in 2001 and was translated into 11 languages. Her second novel, Red River, was San Francisco's One City, One Book title in 2007. Her third novel is Citizens Creek (Atria, November 4, 2014), a fictionalized account of a family of Muscogee-speaking black Indians in the 1800s.

On your nightstand now:

The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd. I sometimes find it difficult to read novels that cover the same territory that I have (such as slavery), but I'm almost finished with this book and very glad I picked it up. And what's not to like about another Oprah author?

Favorite book when you were a child:

I don't really remember reading true children's books, although I started reading books before kindergarten. The book I loved in elementary or middle school was A Girl of the Limberlost by Gene Stratton-Porter, published in 1909. The primary character was a marginalized high-school girl in Indiana being raised by a mean widowed mother who didn't support her passion for an education. She was ridiculed for her unfashionable clothes, and I rooted so hard for this girl to prevail (spoiler alert: she ultimately did) that I exhausted myself each time I reread the book.

Your top five authors:

Barbara Kingsolver, Toni Morrison, Octavia E. Butler, Gloria Naylor and Larry McMurtry.

Book you've faked reading:

James Joyce's Ulysses. There is just no way that this book is or has ever been accessible for me, and I have to admit, I'm not the least bit ashamed of the fact. However, I have nodded politely in a group and said nothing when a discussion about Ulysses has ensued, and by not declaring, I guess this falls into the "fake it" category.

Book you're an evangelist for:

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. This novel wowed me, articulating so many nuances about race relations and human nature in unique and surprising ways that I have become obnoxious in my zeal for everyone to read it. I don't really identify with the main character, but her insights are so sharp and spot-on that the momentum of the novel never flagged for me.

Book you've bought for the cover:

Never.

Book that changed your life:

This is hardly an original choice, but Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird absolutely blew my mind when I was in high school in California. Our African-American family integrated into a white suburb there in the 1950s, and the town was extremely hostile to our presence. Atticus Finch gave me hope that not everyone in the country was narrow-minded and bent on our destruction. It is easy to go back now and criticize the sentimentality of the novel, but I viewed the world in a different way after reading this book. Isn't that the greatest possible thing a novel can do?

Favorite line from a book:

This quote must have appeared elsewhere first, and is embedded in country music songs, but I first ran into it reading Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry: "The older the violin, the sweeter the music." I loved those two friends and former Texas Rangers, Augustus and Captain Call, with their authenticity, bravery and wisdom [from] living life.

Which character you most relate to:

Is it cheating to name one of your own characters you've created? Philomene Daurat, in my book Cane River, is so determined and gutsy and single-minded when it comes to something she wants for herself or her family, I can relate to her drive.

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

Mama Day by Gloria Naylor. This novel of star-crossed lovers à la Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet recast with African-Americans in New York breaks my heart each time I read it, hoping for a different outcome each time.


Book Review

Review: All My Puny Sorrows

All My Puny Sorrows by Miriam Toews (McSweeney's, $24 hardcover, 9781940450278, November 2014)

If Miriam Toews (Swing Low) seems even more authoritative, more observant, more slyly hilarious and more in touch with the depth of human pain than usual in All My Puny Sorrows, readers may attribute it to personal experience. Quasi-autobiographical, the novel reflects Toews's relationship with her older sister, who committed suicide at age 51 in 2010.

Sisters Yolandi and Elfrieda grew up in a Mennonite community where the elders disapproved of the girls' independence and spirit, threatening to punish their father with a short excommunication for letting Elf have a piano. Eventually, Elf's playing became the catalyst both for her departure from the community and the informal ostracizing of her family.

Now that the sisters are grown, Yoli's life is a mess. With two divorces under her belt, teenaged offspring wreaking havoc on her maternal patience, and her Rodeo Rhonda teen fiction series on hold while she toils ineffectually at the more literary manuscript she carries around in a Safeway bag, Yoli can't get it together. By comparison, Elf's life looks perfect. She's a world-famous pianist, her husband adores her, and she's wealthy and glamorous. However, Elf keeps attempting suicide and landing in psychiatric facilities, while Yoli is the one determined to keep her alive: "She wanted to die and I wanted her to live and we were enemies who loved each other."

Yoli tries valiantly to shoulder her sisterly responsibilities, traveling the 2,000 miles from her home in Toronto to Elf's side in Winnipeg after each attempt, conferring with Elf's desperate husband, Nic, about treatment and providing emotional support to their mother (widowed a few years ago after her husband killed himself). When Elf asks Yoli to take her to Switzerland, where assisted suicide is legal, Yoli must decide just how far her responsibility extends, and in which direction: saving her sister's life and hoping for her recovery, or helping end her suffering.

Despite the grim subject matter, Toews's signature wit and gift for observation make for a quick pace; she breezily leaps from Yoli's childhood memories to her present-day conversations with her sister and back again, sometimes in the space of a page. Toews captures perfectly the conflict between a family wondering why their love isn't enough and the suicidal woman whose suffering cannot be helped by their care. In the midst of so much sorrow Toews still manages to illuminate moments of joy, hilarity and sheer emotion that will leave readers weak in the knees. Both a statement of personal grief and an important look at a controversial topic, Yoli and Elf's story will catch readers off guard and capture their hearts. --Jaclyn Fulwood, blogger at Infinite Reads

Shelf Talker: Canadian novelist Miriam Toews explores her own struggles with her older sister's suicide through a novel of two sisters, one determined to kill herself and the other determined to stop her.


Deeper Understanding

Robert Gray: Regional Education Panels--'Ideas that Work'

"This is the one time we all get to legally plagiarize and steal from our colleagues," said moderator Andy Nettle of Back of Beyond Books, Moab, Utah, in 2011 at the Mountains & Plains Independent Booksellers Association trade show, during an education session titled "Best Thing I Did this Year." I've attended several variations on this theme of sharing great bookseller ideas, retail and otherwise, over the years, and always come away from them impressed by the braided spirits of creativity and partnership they represent.

Jessilynn Norcross

"The object of this morning is to collectively share ideas. Some of the best ideas can come from the person sitting next to you," Jessilynn Norcross, co-owner of McLean & Eakin Booksellers, Petoskey, Mich., said last month to open the Heartland Fall Forum's education plenary session "Ideas That Work (and Those That Don't): "Bring one thing that worked for you as a bookseller over the past year and one thing that didn't and we'll share in our common missteps and success!"

She began the conversation by sharing her initial skepticism earlier this year when her husband and co-owner, Matt Norcross, was lobbying for the bookstore to sell vinyl records and turntables. "Finally, I said, 'How big was this investment going to be?' " she recalled. "It ended up completely taking off.... Our town currently doesn't have a music store. We identified a need." The bookstore is even getting into vinyl early Christmas spirit this week. She cited Baker & Taylor for vinyl and Deerpark Distributors for turntables as the bookstore's primary sources, adding that the margin is healthy in this category.

Many of the "ideas that worked" shared by booksellers involved online marketing. A quick poll of the audience found that more than half had an active Twitter account, a fact that would have seemed unlikely, if not downright startling, just a few years ago. Among the online ideas shared:

  • Text marketing for store event reminders.
  • Using a social media company (SnapRetail and Boutique Window were noted as options). One bookseller praised this alternative for "doing your social media for you because I don't have a social media person on staff."
  • Posting photos of booksellers with their staff picks and links to the authors' Facebook or Twitter pages (and don't forget to put those magic symbols # and @ to good use). 
  • Promoting through photos of local "celebrities." A bookstore posted a pic of their UPS delivery guy posing for a bookish mugshot during Banned Books Week.

Strategies for dealing with the never-cresting wave of ARCs sent to bookstores generated many suggestions, including the seasonally appropriate idea that booksellers could wrap ARCs during the holiday season (even better, wrap them in Indiebound flyers) and offer them to customers as gifts. Other suggestions:

  • Always "brand" the ARCs you're giving out with a self-inking store stamp.
  • When someone buys a title from the staff picks display, give them a wrapped ARC.
  • Develop ARC reading groups in local schools, or solicit reviews from students to showcase on social media.
  • Use ARCs on Blind Date With a Book displays as giveaways.

Speaking of Blind Date with a Book, Norcross observed that the promotion, which "a lot of stores started doing for Valentine's Day, has really been a big, big hit," quickly evolving into a year-round promotional option for many bookstores.

Jill Miner of Saturn Booksellers, Gaylord, Mich., noted that she has an official store typeface for all signage, and uses inexpensive picture frames to showcase "the important things we want to communicate. If it's not frameworthy, scraps of paper won't do."

Reading groups came up several times during the session. I particularly liked the idea of short-run, pop-up book clubs such as the Summer Reading Rainbow, which Left Bank Books, St. Louis, Mo., created around Rainbow Rowell's works last summer ("It's going to have a beginning, middle and end," said Left Bank's Jarek Steele.). And Nicola's Books, Ann Arbor, Mich., has hosted "Book in a Bar" and "Noir at the Bar" events. "It's a great way to find a niche that you're into and get a book club going," said Lynn Riehl. "The publisher is your partner in this and they want you to be successful."

At the end of this session, one question remained unanswered: What were the ideas that didn't work? Maybe it's a positive sign that success, rather than failure, was on everyone's minds at HFF. And maybe the best takeaway from this fall's regional bookseller shows would be that so many great ideas are working and, as Andy Nettle advised, available to "legally plagiarize." --Robert Gray, contributing editor (column archives available at Fresh Eyes Now)


The Bestsellers

Top-Selling Self-Published Titles

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

1. Stepbrother Dearest by Penelope Ward
2. Ruin (Ruin Series Book 2) by Deborah Bladon
3. Ruin (Ruin Series Book 1) by Deborah Bladon
4. Down and Out by Kelley R. Martin
5. Her Purrfect Match by Milly Taiden
6. Ten Christmas Brides by Various
7. Sweet Christmas Kisses: Fourteen Sweet Christmas Romances by Various
8. King of Me by Mimi Jean Pamfiloff
9. I Love How You Love Me by Bella Andre
10. The Cycle of Arawn: The Complete Epic Fantasy Trilogy by Edward W. Robertson

[Many thanks to IndieReader.com!]


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