Shelf Awareness for Friday, July 7, 2006
Quotation of the Day
General Retail Sales: June Runs Low on Gas
The International Council of Shopping Centers-UBS estimated that sales at its sample of 54 stores rose 2.6%, well below the 4.1% gain of the first five months of the year.
Company reports were mixed. Some lower-priced department stores posted better results than usual. Sales at luxury department stores grew at respectable levels. Costco did well, but Wal-Mart barely grew.
Some of the best-performing companies were AnnTaylor, whose comp-store sales rose 12.5%; Costco, up 6.9%; and Target, up 4.8%.
Among department stores, Saks's sales rose 4.7%; Penney's sales were up 4.3%; the Limited rose 3%; and Federated had a 1.7% gain.
One of the major poor performers was Wal-Mart, whose comp-store sales rose just 1.2%. The company noted that "the priority in spending by our customers is on food and consumables."
Notes: Stores Closing and Saved; Karl Pohrt Honored
The Book Broker, Colorado Springs, Colo., will close in February, when its lease ends and the building it is located in is sold, the Colorado Springs Business Journal reported.
Roy Jackson, who has owned the used and discount bookstore since 2001, told the Journal that he won't move. "It's just a hard business to be in right now. We've basically been doing all we can to fill in the holes for the last year."
Jackson noted that he was hurt by low used-book prices on the Internet as well as chain stores. He added that when the legendary Chinook Bookshop closed two years, rather than increasing traffic at the Book Broker, it led to fewer customers, since "people stopped coming downtown to shop for books."
Just as a liquidation sale was about to start at Sparta Books, Sparta, N.J., Kristen Cernek, a Sparta resident who with her husband owns Lake Mohawk Bagels, bought the store from Carol Viall, who had owned the store since 1985, according to the Morristown Daily Record.
"I was talking with some girlfriends," Cernek told the paper. "They said 'did you hear that Sparta Books is closing.' I went home and some wheels started turning and here I am." She added that her goal is "to keep the hometown feel. I want it to be the bookstore everybody knows and loves, but I also want to bring it up to speed and update it."
Congratulations to Karl Pohrt, owner of the Shaman Drum Bookshop, Ann Arbor, Mich., who had a professorship at the University of Michigan named after him. The professor who designated the honor wanted to recognize "Pohrt's role in fostering relationships between the local community and the university," as Bookselling This Week reported.
More on Ottakar's and Waterstone's "merger":
All Ottakar's stores will be rebranded Waterstone's, and HMV plans to close three Ottakar's administrative centers as well as "a handful of shops," according to Reuters. Ottakar's head office will be folded into Waterstone's.
The Boston Globe profiles Sanctuary Books and Music, which may be "New England's largest Christian bookstore" and opened recently in Needham, Mass. The store is part of the Jubilee Christian Church, which in 20 years has grown to 5,000 members and is "known for its entrepreneurial spirit--embracing the idea that Christians can, and should, prosper financially."
Store manager Mona Thompson, daughter-in-law of pastor Gilbert Thompson, told the paper, "We're introducing a brand here, something we want to take nationally."
The Monterey Herald profiles Pilgrim's Way, Carmel, Calif., "the last bookstore in Carmel."
In explaining the store's popularity, owner Paul Fridlund told the paper, "People are examining their core assumptions about the nature of things." As a result, bestselling titles and areas at the store are The Da Vinci Code, books about the government, manifesting and "the water thing," which the paper describes as "how water is molecularly changed by thoughts and emotions." Fridlund added that the 2004 movie What the Bleep Do We Know caused "the biggest spike in book sales" he had since taking over the store in 1991.
A group of seven Chicago crime fiction writers calling itself the Outfit has created a blog that makes its debut this coming Monday. At theoutfitcollective.com, Sara Paretsky, Barbara D'Amato, Kevin Guilfoile, Libby Fischer Hellmann, Michael Allen Dymmoch, Sean Chercover and Marcus Sakey will discuss everything from writing to Chicago to crime.
Party pic from last night! Celebrating the first anniversary of the purchase of Good Yarns Bookshop in Hastings-on-Hudson, N.Y., by Chris Kerr and Sean Concannon's Rivertown Books: (l. to r.) Jack Herr, president and CEO of BookStream; Amanda Lydon, manager of Good Yarns; and Shelf Awareness's own John Mutter. [Many thanks to rep-bookseller-photographer Chris Kerr!]
Media and Movies
On the Silver Screen Today: A Scanner Darkly
Media Heat: Sara Gruen on the Spoken Word
Today on Dateline: Paul Babiak, Ph.D., author of Snakes in Suits: When Psychopaths Go to Work (Regan Books, $26.95, 0060837721).
The Spoken Word, which will be aired on many public radio stations on Sunday evening at 8 p.m. (as well as some other times), features two authors:
- Francine du Plessix Gray, who will read from her latest book, Them: A Memoir of Parents (Penguin, $16, 0143037196), which won the 2005 National Book Critics Circle Award for Autobiography and is about growing up the daughter of famous parents.
- Sara Gruen, author of the handselling favorite Water for Elephants (Algonquin, $23.95, 1565124995).
For a listing of the radio stations playing the Spoken Word, click here.
Mandahla: Far From the Madding Gerund Reviewed
Far from the Madding Gerund: And Other Dispatches from Language Log by Mark Liberman (William James & Company, $22.00 Paperback, 9781590280553, May 2006)
Mark Liberman and Geoffrey K. Pullum are linguistics professors with a wicked sense of humor and founders of Language Log, a blog that provides linguistic commentary with attitude. They obviously have a passion for linguistics and believe others would love it, too, if only they knew what it's all about. Language Log was started with that in mind, and they discovered the joys of almost-instant feedback, "scholarship on methamphetamines. Publication for speed freaks," as opposed to the usual months-to-years it takes for professional articles to get vetted and published. They are especially interested in misguided usage criticism and state, "We may well [say] things that will get up many editors' and teachers' noses: irreverence does put some people's backs up. But we were powerless to resist: writing irreverently was more enjoyable than being sober and measured and cautious." In that vein, Liberman and Pullum take on the venerable Elements of Style, calling the authors "perennially clueless" and their book "stupid," wherein Strunk and White prohibit the use of adjectives and adverbs. They give "crappy usage advice" and are unable to follow their own rules. They "offer prejudiced announcements on a rather small number of topics, frequently unsupported, and unsupportable, by evidence." Another essay opens with "Oh, dear. I've made a copy editor irritable." This is not a collection for either the faint of heart or those who believe that the downfall of civilization began with the misuse of apostrophes (latte's, anyone?).
The essays and blog postings cover a range that include topics for almost every interest: "The coming death of whom"; "The pointless game of grammar Gotcha," where they nail pedantry that values "ignorant nitpicking [over] sensible attention to style and richness of prose composition"; the old "many Eskimo words for snow" tale; the word "fisking"; linguistic aspects of the Aubrey-Maturin novels; E.E. Cummings' gratuitous insult to grammarians in "since feeling is first" (the insult is contemptible, they aver--"we grammarians are in fact very sensual, sexy, and exciting people. When a grammarian kisses you, you stay kissed."); and an explanation of the spelling "Hmoob" for "Hmong" on ATM screens. Chapter Eight, "The sixteen first rules of fiction [and other writing tips]," has some dandy and unusual criticism of Dan Brown, and a piece on cell phone poems: "Since public cell phone talk is acoustic littering that degrades common spaces, [use] it as a source of linguistic examples and as a form of found poetry. When life hands you one loud side of an unwanted conversation . . . think of it as an impromptu poetry reading." It also contains "Jail copy editors for the right reasons" and "Omit stupid grammar teaching."
Opinionated, clever and intelligent, this assortment of pieces is entertaining and enlightening. In "Ray Charles, America, and the subjunctive," Pullum discusses the line "God shed His grace on thee," which Charles changes to "God done shed His grace on thee." He explains the misreading of "shed," but also celebrates Ray Charles and his stunning performance of "America the Beautiful": "His taste was impeccable; his soulfulness was real; his artistry was beyond belief." He concludes that Charles' performance should be treasured every Independence Day, forever.--Marilyn Dahl
The Book Sense/NAIBA List
1. Twelve Sharp by Janet Evanovich (St. Martin's, $26.95, 0312349483)
2. Digging to America by Anne Tyler (Knopf, $24.95, 0307263940)
3. Terrorist by John Updike (Knopf, $24.95, 0307264653)
4. Everyman by Philip Roth (Houghton Mifflin, $24, 061873516X)
5. Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky (Knopf, $25, 1400044731)
6. Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen (Algonquin, $23.95, 1565124995)
7. The Foreign Correspondent by Alan Furst (Random House, $24.95, 1400060192)
8. Beach Road by James Patterson and Peter de Jonge (Little, Brown, $27.95, 0316159786)
9. The Poe Shadow by Matthew Pearl (Random House, $24.95, 1400061032)
10. The Husband by Dean R. Koontz (Bantam, $27, 0553804790)
11. Blue Shoes and Happiness by Alexander McCall Smith (Pantheon, $21.95, 0375422722)
12. Blue Screen by Robert B. Parker (Putnam, $24.95, 0399153519)
13. At Risk by Patricia D. Cornwell (Putnam, $21.95, 0399153624)
14. The Whole World Over by Julia Glass (Pantheon, $25.95, 0375422749)
15. The Book of the Dead by Douglas J. Preston and Lincoln Child (Warner, $25.95, 0446576980)
1. The One Percent Doctrine by Ron Suskind (S&S, $27, 0743271092)
2. A Heckuva Job by Calvin Trillin (Random House, $12.95, 1400065569)
3. Marley & Me by John Grogan (Morrow, $21.95, 0060817089)
4. Wisdom of Our Fathers by Tim Russert (Random House, $22.95, 1400064805)
5. Mayflower by Nathaniel Philbrick (Viking, $29.95, 0670037605)
6. Godless by Ann H. Coulter (Crown Forum, $27.95, 1400054206)
7. Heat by Bill Buford (Knopf, $25.95, 1400041201)
8. The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan (Penguin Press, $26.95, 1594200823)
9. Cesar's Way by Cesar Millan and Melissa Jo Peltier (Harmony, $24.95, 0307337332)
10. The World Is Flat by Thomas L. Friedman (FSG, $30, 0374292795)
11. Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner (Morrow, $25.95, 006073132X)
12. Let Me Finish by Roger Angell (Harcourt, $25, 0151013500)
13. Uncommon Carriers by John McPhee (FSG, $24, 0374280398)
14. Dispatches From the Edge by Anderson Cooper (HarperCollins, $24.95, 0061132381)
15. Fun Home by Alison Bechdel (Houghton Mifflin, $19.95, 0618477942)
Trade Paperback Fiction
1. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini (Riverhead, $14, 1594480001)
2. The Devil Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger (Broadway, $13.95, 0767925955)
3. Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro (Vintage, $14, 1400078776)
4. Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See (Random House, $13.95, 0812968069)
5. History of Love by Nicole Krauss (Norton, $13.95, 0393328627)
6. March by Geraldine Brooks (Penguin, $14, 0143036661)
7. A Wedding in December by Anita Shreve (Back Bay, $14.95, 0316154512)
8. The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards (Penguin, $14, 0143037145)
9. Until I Find You by John Irving (Ballantine, $15.95, 0345479726)
10. My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult (Washington Square, $14, 0743454537)
11. Gilead by Marilynne Robinson (Picador, $14, 031242440X)
12. Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld (Random House, $13.95, 081297235X)
13. Saturday by Ian McEwan (Anchor, $14.95, 1400076196)
14. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon (Vintage, $12.95, 1400032717)
15. Beloved by Toni Morrison (Vintage, $13.95, 1400033411)
Trade Paperback Nonfiction
1. An Inconvenient Truth by Al Gore (Rodale, $21.95, 1594865671)
2. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote (Vintage, $14, 0679745580)
3. The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson (Vintage, $14.95, 0375725601)
4. The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell (Back Bay, $14.95, 0316346624)
5. The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls (Scribner, $14, 074324754X)
6. Eats, Shoots & Leaves by Lynne Truss (Gotham, $11, 1592402038)
7. Night by Elie Wiesel (FSG, $9, 0374500010)
8. Garlic and Sapphires by Ruth Reichl (Penguin, $15, 0143036610)
9. The Places in Between by Rory Stewart (Harvest, $14, 0156031566)
10. 1776 by David McCullough (S&S, $18, 0743226720)
11. The Thinking Fan's Guide to the World Cup edited by Matt Weiland and Sean Wilsey (HarperCollins, $14.95, 0061132268)
12. Zagat Survey: New York City Restaurants (Zagat, $13.95, 1570067457)
13. Confessions of an Economic Hit Man by John Perkins (Plume, $15, 0452287081)
14. People's History of the United States by Howard Zinn (HarperCollins, $18.95, 0060838655)
15. Collapse by Jared Diamond (Penguin, $17, 0143036556)
1. The Devil Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger (Anchor, $7.99, 0307275558)
2. The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown (Anchor, $7.99, 1400079179)
3. Angels and Demons by Dan Brown (Pocket, $9.99, 1416524797)
4. Blood From a Stone by Donna Leon (Penguin, $7.99, 014303698X)
5. Blue Smoke by Nora Roberts (Jove, $7.99, 0515141399)
6. 11 on Top by Janet Evanovich (St. Martin's, $7.99, 0312985347)
7. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger (Warner, $6.99, 0316769487)
8. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (Warner, $6.99, 0446310786)
9. 4th of July by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro (Warner, $9.99, 0446613363)
10. The Italian Secretary by Caleb Carr (St. Martin's, $7.99, 0312939132)
1. Oh, the Places You'll Go! by Dr.Seuss (Random House, $17, 0679805273)
2. Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown, illustrated by Clement Hurd (HarperCollins, $7.99, 0694003611)
3. Olivia Forms a Band by Ian Falconer (Atheneum, $17.95, 141692454X)
4. Hoot by Carl Hiaasen (Yearling, $6.50, 0440421705)
5. Lilly's Big Day by Kevin Henkes (Greenwillow, $16.99, 0060742364)
6. Junie B., First Grader: Aloha-ha-ha! by Barbara Park, illustrated by Denise Brunkus (Random House, $11.95, 0375834036)
7. The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo (Candlewick, $7.99, 0763625299)
8. The Third Summer of the Sisterhood by Ann Brashares (Delacorte, $8.95, 0553375938)
9. Eragon by Christopher Paolini (Knopf, $9.95, 0375826696)
10. Pirates by John Matthews (Atheneum, $19.95, 1416927344)
11. Heat by Mike Lupica (Philomel, $16.99, 0399243011)
12. Chasing Vermeer by Blue Balliett, illustrated by Brett Helquist (Scholastic, $2.99, 0439856221)
13. Pat the Bunny by Dorothy Kunhardt (Golden, $9.99, 0307120007)
14. Magyk (Septimus Heap, Book One) by Angie Sage (HarperTrophy, $7.99, 0060577339)
15. Only in Your Dreams (Gossip Girl #9) by Cecily Von Ziegesar (Little, Brown, $9.99, 0316011827))
[Many thanks to Book Sense and NAIBA!]