Also published on this date: Monday, February 9, 2015: Maximum Shelf: Dead Wake

Shelf Awareness for Monday, February 9, 2015


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

Shadow Mountain: Christmas Jars Collector's Edition by Jason F. Wright

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers: Malala's Magic Pencil by Malala Yousafzai, illustrated by Kerascoet

Katherine Tegen Books: The Truth as Told by Mason Buttle by Leslie Connor

Canterbury Classics: Compact Novel Journals

Katherine Tegen Books: Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson

News

Celebration: Winter Institute, Shelf Awareness Turn 10

Shelf Awareness founders Jenn Risko and John Mutter (with Chuck Robinson of Village Books)

Many hundreds of booksellers gathered last night at the Venue in Asheville, N.C., for a party to kick off the American Booksellers Association's Winter Institute. The event was sponsored by Shelf Awareness, and it was a dual celebration: this is both the 10th Winter Institute and the 10th birthday of Shelf Awareness. ABA's Oren Teicher welcomed booksellers to the conference, along with John Mutter and Jenn Risko of Shelf Awareness.


Freeform: The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton


BAM Forms Committee to Evaluate Anderson Offer

Books-A-Million's board of directors has appointed a special committee of independent directors to evaluate the offer made January 29 by executive chairman Clyde B. Anderson and his family to buy the 41.8% of BAM that they don't own for $2.75 a share.

The special committee, which consists of chair Edward W. Wilhelm and Ronald J. Domanico, have hired King & Spalding as legal counsel and will soon hire financial advisers. Wilhelm is executive v-p and CFO of the Finish Line, Inc., and worked for Borders Group from 1994 to 2009, ending as executive v-p and CFO. He joined the BAM board in 2013. Domanico is retired senior v-p and CFO of HD Supply and was appointed to the board last November.

When the Anderson family tried to buy the company in 2012, the special committee also hired King & Spalding as legal counsel.


Other Press: Bookselling Without Borders Scholarship


Lexington's Wild Fig Books to Close

Wild Fig Books, Lexington, Ken., which primarily sells used books as well as some new books, will close February 15 after more than three years in business. On Facebook, the bookseller noted that "it's been a great ride and we are grateful to all who have supported us or wished us well for our run of nearly 4 years! THANK YOU ALL!"

Ronald Davis, co-owner with Crystal Wilkinson, told the Herald-Leader the store is closing because it has been hurt by competition from the expansion of Half Price Books, but they "will probably open another business, he said, although it will have a different name and is likely to be more of a boutique, where books don't make up the majority of stock."


Ingram Publisher Services: Celebrating the 45th Anniversary of Dundurn Press


Reading Group Choices: New Owner, New Approaches

Since buying Reading Group Choices in April 2014, Mary Morgan has been making changes to the company, which produces an annual reading group book guide for librarians, bookstores and festivals. So far, Morgan has redesigned RGC's newsletter, added young adult titles to the newsletter and website, and worked with more independent presses for recommendations. In its 2016 print publication, RGC will, for the first time, devote a section to young adult titles and discussion questions. It will also create curated lists, with purchase programs tied to local bookstores, for reading groups who supply RGC with their reading preferences.

Mary Morgan and Charlie Mead, current and past owners of Reading Group Choices.

Perhaps most significantly, RGC has moved its book-buying partnership from Amazon to Powell's Books and IndieBound. A percentage of the profits from Powell's/IndieBound sales will be donated to a different literary organization each year, starting with Little Free Library.

RGC has expanded its participation in bookstore events and festivals, such as organizing a reading group and booth at the Brooklyn Book Festival last September. It will co-host a reading group event at Malaprop's Bookstore/Cafe in Asheville, N.C., during ABA's Winter Institute on Wednesday, February 11, from 10:30 a.m. to noon. Also in February, RGC will co-host reading groups at two Wisconsin bookstores: Mystery to Me in Madison and Arcadia Books in Spring Green. Among upcoming projects, RGC will be involved in the Children's Institute in Pasadena, Calif., in April; have booths at BEA in May and ALA in June; and will organize reading groups for this year's AJC Decatur Book Festival, the Texas Book Festival, the Miami Book Fair International and Printers Row Lit Fest.

Mary Morgan purchased RGC from Charlie Mead, who bought it, with the late Barbara Drummond Mead, from founders Donna Paz Kaufman and Mark Kaufman in 2005. Prior to taking the helm at RGC, Morgan worked at BookCourt bookstore in New York and in the editorial departments of GQ, Elle, Blueprint and Living & Weddings. She holds a B.A. in English with a concentration in Creative Writing from Indiana University and an M.F.A. from the University of Idaho.


Disney-Hyperion: Unearthed by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner


Tax Issue Stalls Amazon Data Centers in Oregon

Amazon, which currently operates four data centers in Oregon and has broken ground on a fifth, could build as many as 11 more "if the state addresses a thorny tax issue," the Oregonian reported, noting that the "issue, known as 'central assessment,' relates to how the state values telecommunications companies and utilities when it comes to levying property taxes." Under a 1973 law, which was initially intended to apply to microwave towers, the state values a company's "intangibles" as well as its physical property, including non-physical assets like a company's brand. Although law has not been applied to data centers, some companies are concerned that it could be.

Last week, Amazon state public policy manager Eileen Sullivan testified before Oregon's senate committee on finance and revenue, encouraging it to exempt data centers. "Eliminating the threat of central assessment will permit Amazon to continue to invest in Oregon," she said.

At a hearing scheduled for today, the senate will consider two bills: SB 570, which establishes a mechanism to cap or constrain central assessment; and SB 571, which would exempt data centers from central assessment.


Shelf Awareness Sign-up Giveaway: Lilac Lane by Sheryl Woods


Obituary Note: André Brink

André Brink, "a towering South African literary presence for decades whose work in English and Afrikaans fell afoul of apartheid-era censors," died Friday, the New York Times reported. He was 79. Brink's work "was often cited alongside that of Nadine Gordimer and J.M. Coetzee as an exemplar of South Africa's ability to transform the experience of harsh racial politics into literature with a global reach," the Times wrote. His books include A Dry White Season, Looking on Darkness, An Instant in the Wind, Rumors of Rain, A Chain of Voices and Before I Forget.


Notes

Megan Beatie Launches Book PR and Marketing Agency

Megan Beatie

Megan Beatie, who has worked at Goldberg McDuffie Communications for 17 years, most recently as v-p and director of publicity, is founding her own boutique book publicity and marketing agency, Megan Beatie Communications, based in Los Angeles.

The agency will focus on "a small number of projects so as to provide a personal and very customized approach to each book and author, while remaining flexible, nimble and quick to react," and it will design and executive media campaigns "from the ground up--and being actively engaged with authors and their publishers from the early pre-publication stages to long past publication date."

Beatie has publicity and marketing experience in a range of genres from literary fiction, mysteries and thrillers, young adult novels and children's picture books, to pop culture, health, relationships, lifestyle, memoir, religion and business books. She has run book campaigns for titles as diverse as Tennessee Williams by John Lahr and The End of Illness by Dr. David Agus, to My Horizontal Life by Chelsea Handler and He's Just Not That Into You by Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo. She's also promoted books by such authors as Neil Gaiman, Dr. Richard Besser, Denise Austin, Scott Adams, Alexandra Fuller and Cherie Blair.


Personnel Changes at Abrams

At Abrams:

  • Erin Hotchkiss has been promoted to director, marketing, adult trade.
  • Paul Colarusso has been promoted to senior marketing manager, adult trade.
  • Matthew Dinda has been promoted to trade sales representative.
  • Jordan Sapiro has been promoted to associate publicist, adult trade.
  • Erica LaSala has been promoted to senior manager, foreign & subsidiary rights.

 


Media and Movies

Media Heat: David Axelrod on the Daily Show

Today on Bloomberg Radio's Taking Stock: Bill Browder, author of Red Notice: A True Story of High Finance, Murder, and One Man's Fight for Justice (Simon & Schuster, $28, 9781476755717).

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Today on Tavis Smiley: Joyce Carol Oates, author of The Sacrifice: A Novel (Ecco, $26.99, 9780062332974).

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Tomorrow on Diane Rehm: Rep. John Lewis and Andrew Aydin, authors of March: Book Two (Top Shelf Productions, $19.95, 9781603094009).

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Tomorrow night on the Daily Show: David Axelrod, author of Believer: My Forty Years in Politics (Penguin Press, $35, 9781594205873).


Movies: Hunger Games Franchise Expanding

Is the Hunger Games film franchise destined to live beyond the books? Deadline.com reported that Lionsgate CEO Jon Feltheimer told analysts he is "actively looking at some development and thinking about prequel and sequel possibilities" after the last episode, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay--Part 2, is released in November. Feltheimer said the idea was boosted by the decision to have the film digitally remastered for IMAX 3D.

"Fans will now have the chance to see the film in any format they want, which is exciting," said director Francis Lawrence. "We recently saw the 3D version of Mockingjay--Part 1 before its release in China, and the new level of immersion was really fantastic."

In addition, on July 1 an exhibition with "high-tech interactive galleries, never before seen content, hundreds of costumes and props" will begin a six-month run at Discovery Times Square in New York City, and more exhibitions--and possibly a theme park attraction--may be in the works.

"We are in significant conversations with at least one theme park," Feltheimer said, adding that the smaller exhibitions offer "a lot of the upside. Once we built it once we can actually have one, two or three running at the same time.... It's kind of a no-brainer."



Books & Authors

Awards: Grammys; CWA Diamond Dagger

Among the many winners at last night's Grammy Awards were these book-related ones:

In the Best Spoken Word Album (Includes Poetry, Audio Books & Storytelling) category:

Diary of a Mad Diva by Joan Rivers (Penguin Audio)

In the children's album category:

I Am Malala: How One Girl Stood Up for Education and Changed the World (Malala Yousafzai), narrated by Neela Vaswani (Hachette Audio)

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Catherine Aird won the Crime Writers Association's Diamond Dagger award, which recognizes an author whose career is "marked by sustained excellence" and who has "made a significant contribution to crime fiction published in the English language, whether originally or in translation." She will be honored during the CWA Dagger Awards on June 30.

CWA chair Alison Joseph called Aird "an inspirational figure to other crime writers. Not only is her writing irresistible and wonderful, but she's also a great champion of other authors and of crime writing itself. That makes her the perfect choice to receive this year's Diamond Dagger."


Prince Charles Honors Dame Hilary Mantel

Call her Dame Hilary Mantel. The award-winning author was honored by the Prince of Wales for her services to literature during a ceremony at Buckingham Palace. The Guardian reported that while "conferring the honor of Dame Commander of the British Empire on Mantel on Friday, the prince revealed that he was enjoying the drama depicting the life of Henry VIII's adviser Thomas Cromwell."

Following her investiture, Mantel said, "We talked about the television series of Wolf Hall, which he's enjoying very much." Asked if she could imagine any similarity to her novel and Charles's household, she added: "I couldn't possibly comment on that. I think there may be an element of exaggeration there."

Regarding the final novel in her Cromwell trilogy, Mantel said, "I haven't got a finishing date yet because I've been very busy with the theater versions, and novels are unpredictable anyway. But it's going well and we're hoping in the course of time there might be a third play and maybe a TV series as well.

"I would certainly like to see if we could get people of the same caliber to work on it because, with both the theater and TV, we have been very lucky to have such an excellent team of people who share my values about drama and history, and just the most wonderful acting talent."


Book Review

Review: Green on Blue

Green on Blue by Elliot Ackerman (Scribner , $25 hardcover, 9781476778556, February 17, 2015)

In Green on Blue (a military expression describing a "friendly" attack), a debut novel, former Marine Elliot Ackerman tells the story of the ongoing war in Afghanistan from a point of view Americans aren't accustomed to, setting his tale in the rugged mountains and small villages of Afghanistan where conflict of one sort or another is an intrinsic part of the historical fabric of the country's largely Pashtun culture. Ackerman, a contributor to the New Yorker and the Atlantic, served multiple tours in both Iraq and Afghanistan. However, the only G.I. in his first novel is the Pashto-speaking officer known as Mr. Jack who appears in his big black HiLux truck to supply commandos with money, guns and Jim Beam.

The story is told by Aziz Iqtbal, a young Afghan whose parents are killed in a Haqqani raid on their village and who, five years later, watches his brother lose his legs in a Taliban mortar attack. Without money or family, Aziz is recruited by notorious warlord Commander Sabir with the promise that by joining his regiment Aziz can fulfill the Pashtunwali code of nang and badal (honor and revenge--Ackerman effectively uses these and other Pashto words without direct translation). The U.S. invasion is no surprise to Sabir. He understands the need for U.S. badal and is happy to take all the money and weapons that pour in. For young Aziz, however, the "war on terror" means nothing. He only wants to avenge his brother's suffering, maintain family honor and go to bed each night with a full stomach. But he soon learns that retribution and satisfaction are not so simple. The United States' money goes to Sabir, who shares it with his Taliban opponent. As Sabir reminds Aziz, the fighting can never stop, for then the money would stop: "What happens if our war ends?... The Americans will no longer need us. How do we survive then?"

Ackerman doesn't take sides. Rather, with Hemingway-like restraint, he describes how one young Afghan's struggle to live an honorable life succumbs to historical forces that turn him into a lifelong soldier. It doesn't matter if the enemy is Russia, the United States or another warlord across the valley. Aziz accepts his fate: "As I thought of all the ways one could be killed.... I couldn't think of a single way to die which wasn't a green on blue." --Bruce Jacobs, founding partner, Watermark Books & Cafe, Wichita, Kan.

Shelf Talker: Decorated Marine Elliot Ackerman, who had multiples tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, offers a poignant first novel about a war-orphaned young Afghan soldier.


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