Shelf Awareness for Tuesday, March 10, 2015


Penguin Press: Astral Weeks: A Secret History of 1968 by Ryan H. Walsh

Scribner Book Company: The Wolves of Winter by Tyrell Johnson

St. Martin's Press: After Anna by Lisa Scottoline

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

News

B&N 3rd Quarter: Store Sales Stabilize, Profit Below Expectations

At Barnes & Noble, in the third quarter ended January 31, consolidated revenue fell 1.7%, to $1.96 billion, and net income rose 14.1%, to $72.2 million. Earnings per share were 93 cents, up from last year's 86 cents a share, but fell below Wall Street expectations of more than $1 a share and as high as $1.48 a share.

Sales at B&N's retail segment, which includes Barnes & Noble bookstores and BN.com, fell 1%, to $1.4 billion in the quarter. The drop was primarily attributable to lower sales of Nook products. At stores open at least a year, sales fell 0.3%, and at those stores sales of non-Nook products--both books and non-books--rose 1.7%.

B&N CEO Michael P. Huseby attributed the gain in non-Nook sales to "the continued stabilization of the physical book business, as well as continued growth in non-book core categories such as Educational Toys & Games and Gifts."

Sales at B&N's College segment rose 7.2%, to $521 million, attributable in part to new store growth and a later shift in the fiscal calendar, which included an additional week of the spring back-to-school rush season. Sales at college stores open at least a year fell 1.4%.

Sales in the Nook division, which includes digital content, devices and accessories, fell 50.6%, to $78 million. Sales of devices and accessories fell 62.8%, to  $37 million, due to lower unit selling volume, while sales of digital content were off 29.3%, to $41 million, mainly because of the lower device unit sales volume.

CEO Huseby added: "While College continues to invest in its future, its top line sales grew through new school acquisitions and better than expected comparable sales trends. Nook's EBITDA loss was cut in half due to ongoing cost rationalization efforts. This performance across all businesses further supports our belief that now is the right time to separate the College business. The separation will allow each business to optimize their strategic opportunities, given their respective growth profiles, and specifically enable College to pursue opportunities in the growing educational services market."

Yesterday, B&N said that through B&N College, it is investing in Flashnotes, Inc., an online marketplace founded in 2010 and allows college students to buy and sell student-created, course-specific materials, including study guides, notes, flashcards, video tutorials and live video help. B&N will promote Flashnotes at its partner schools and on digital platforms.


GLOW: Grove Atlantic: The Mercy Seat by Elizabeth H. Winthrop


HarperCollins Expands Spanish-Language Publishing

Expanding its Spanish-language publishing operations, HarperCollins has created HarperCollins Español and HarperCollins Iberica. The two imprints are based in part on existing Spanish-language operations run by Harlequin, which HarperCollins bought last year, and HarperCollins Christian Publishing, which grew out of Thomas Nelson.

HarperCollins Español will be headed by senior v-p and publisher Larry Downs and will publish approximately 50 Spanish-language titles a year to the Americas. HarperCollins Iberica, led by managing director Luis Pugni, will publish approximately 30 titles for Spain and Portugal. Both lists will include regional authors as well as global HarperCollins authors.

At the same time, the company announced that it will publish in Spanish two Harper Lee titles: the forthcoming Go Set a Watchman (Ve y pon un centinela), for which it has worldwide Spanish rights in all formats, and To Kill a Mockingbird (Matar a un ruiseñor), for which it has worldwide Spanish print and audio rights. Go Set a Watchman will be published in English and Spanish in the U.S. on July 14. (The company has North American English-language rights to the book.) Spanish-language editions for other markets will follow later in the month.

The HarperCollins Español list will include American Sniper by Chris Kyle, One Minute Manager by Ken Blanchard, The Pursuit of Happyness by Chris Gardner, Journey Home by Jorge Posada, Business Brilliant by Lewis Schiff and Prayer Is Good Medicine by Larry Dossey. The list already features Spanish authors Ismael Cala, author of El secreto del bambú (The Secrets of the Bamboo), and Mario Escobar Golderos, author of Cancion de cuna de Auschwitz (Auschwitz Lullabies).

HarperCollins president and CEO Brian Murray called the creation of the two imprints "the natural next step in the evolution of our foreign language publishing program. There is tremendous opportunity in the Spanish-language market around the world. By using the existing teams, we are able to hit the ground running to further extend the reach of our authors."

Downs at HarperCollins Español commented: "We are thrilled to be able to use our existing structures to further grow in the Spanish-language market. By combining our expertise in the market with HarperCollins' rich content, and a focus on regional authors, we can create a successful publishing program."

Pugni noted that for more than 30 years, "Harlequin Iberica has been highly successful in the Spanish and Portuguese markets. Our experience in the region, combined with HarperCollins' editorial strength, will surely provide readers with the very best Spanish-language content."


Clarion Books: The Stone Girl's Story by Sarah Beth Durst


Indiana Sci-Fi and Fantasy Store Closing

Robots & Rogues, the new and used sci-fi and fantasy bookstore in Lafayette, Ind., is closing by the end of the month, according to the Lafayette Journal & Courier.

Owners Tricia Lewis and Kevin Flanagan, who founded the store in 2011, said that Robots & Rogues had done well in the beginning, leading them to expand into adjoining space in 2012. That doubled the store's size to 1,800 square feet. Unfortunately sales didn't increase enough to cover the higher rent--and allow the owners to take a salary.


Oxford University Press: Hate: Why We Should Resist It with Free Speech, Not Censorship by Nadine Strossen


Jon Colman Named New CBC Executive Director

Jon Colman

Jon Colman has joined the Children's Book Council and Every Child a Reader as executive director. He most recently served as president of the National Down Syndrome Society.

In a statement, Colman said, "I am thrilled to be joining the Children's Book Council and Every Child a Reader during this time of transformation and growth. I look forward to fortifying and expanding programming on both sides, and to bringing the joy of reading to young people nationwide through the many wonderful programs already in place." His responsibilities include the development and execution of educational programming for CBC members and national and local literacy-based community programming, as well as Children's Book Week, the Children's Choice Book Awards and the National Ambassador for Young People's Literature program.


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


Indies Look Forward to End of Long, Cold Winter, Part 1

Now that the temperatures are finally warming this week, we can talk about the cold. Part 1 of this series will focus on indies in New England; part 2 will look at indies throughout the country.

Independent booksellers around the country are looking forward to the end of a long winter that has seen record cold in the Northeast, nearly record-breaking snowfall in Boston and ice storms in the Southeast. Stores have had to cancel events, close early or not open at all on business days, and seen traffic slow dramatically.

"People are just in a bad mood," said Courtney Flynn, bookstore manager at Trident Booksellers & Cafe in Boston, Mass. So far this winter, the city has seen 105.7 inches of snow--just 1.9 inches shy of the all-time snowfall record of 107.6 inches, set in the winter of 1995/1996. "They don't want to shop. It's not a very joyous time."

Trident has had to remain closed several times this winter, and, especially in February, had to cancel many events. One week, Flynn had to cancel every event. And even when the store was open, she reported, sales were slow. But despite the closings and cancellations, things have not been as bad as Flynn and her colleagues initially expected. Trident's cafe side was down in February--they were forced to close a few times on weekends, and those are by far the cafe's busiest days--but the retail side of the store, which includes books, cards and gifts, was actually up last month.

"It's kind of miraculous. We don't know how that happened," said Flynn. She did guess, though, that sales of gifts and cards around Valentine's Day boosted the retail side.

Flynn and her colleagues are eagerly looking forward to spring. "I think when spring comes people are going to go crazy, in a good way," she said. "With even a glint of warmer weather this weekend I spent a ton of money. Hopefully that's not just me."

Snow and ice didn't stop Ugly Dog Books from opening.

At Ugly Dog Books in Attleboro, Mass., located between Providence, R.I., and Boston, sales were down almost 50% compared to February last year. Kim Ward, Ugly Dog's owner, reported that few people are coming into town to shop, and when they do, there is very little parking.

"There's so much snow and nowhere to put it," Ward said. "People drive out and drive through town."

In an effort to bring people in despite the snow and cold, Ward has been running impromptu, one-day-only sales that she announces via social media. She, too, had to cancel the majority of her events for the month of February, but has been able to reschedule some of them. One large event, Ward reported, was rescheduled for yesterday and was completely sold out in advance.

Despite this difficult season--Ward called this by far the worst winter she's seen in her four years of owning the store--she isn't sure if it's so bad that it could potentially bring down her sales for the year. Each of the past four years has been a year of growth for the store; she would be shocked, she said, if it does affect the entire year that much. Hopefully, she added, big events in the summer and later in the year will help offset the harsh winter. For now, though, she's simply "praying for spring."

"It's less than three weeks away," she said. "We're ready for it."

For Tom Holbrook of RiverRun Bookstore in Portsmouth, N.H., this past February was the worst sales month in the store's history. RiverRun was closed for two days during February, and had to close early on four other days. And there were many days on which the store was open but there was "hardly a soul around." All told, sales were down around 50% compared to February of 2014.

"It's sucked," said Holbrook bluntly. This has been the snowiest winter for Portsmouth since 1978; some four feet of snow has fallen. "People have water coming in through their walls. Nobody's mind is on shopping."

In an attempt to boost sales, Holbrook on March 1 sent an e-mail to his customers discussing how bad this winter has been, urging them to come in and support the store and providing a 15% off coupon for any single transaction. He had the idea to do so back in February, but he and his staff were "too busy shoveling and mopping" to put it into effect.

Holbrook, however, is "very optimistic that with the start of daylight saving time, and spring's arrival sooner rather than later," things will turn around for the store. He also isn't sure yet if a very bad February will be enough to keep him down for the year.

"Who knows," he said. "It's awfully early in the year. Last year we had scaffolding in front of our building for the entire summer--in some ways it's always one thing or another. In a way it's how it's always been. We just keep going."

At Gibson's Bookstore in Concord, N.H., owner Michael Herrmann and his staff had estimated that 2015 would be a year of growth for the store.

"The first couple of months of the year are never huge, but we're definitely starting from a disadvantage," Herrmann said. Concord, he continued, hasn't been hit quite as hard as some of the coastal cities in the region, but it is still a "pretty significant New England winter."

Like many other stores in the region, Gibson's was open for reduced hours on some days--although it never closed for a full day--and canceled many events, including author visits and story time sessions. So far Herrmann has been able to reschedule everything, but he did clarify that he generally doesn't schedule too many events for early in the year. He remarked: "It's just so easy to get clobbered."

For more 30 years, Gibson's has held a storewide sale in February, and this year was no exception. That helped bring in traffic despite the weather, as did other smaller sales and promotions. Adding double stamps on the store's frequent buyer card, Hermann reported, generated a particularly great response and brought a good amount of traffic through the door.

Herrmann has owned the store for 20 years, and this winter has been in the "top three" of the worst winters he can remember. Despite that, he maintains, he can't complain too much. "It's northern New England," he said. "We live where we live." --Alex Mutter


Notes

Image of the Day: Three Generations of Bookstore Owners

Third, fourth and fifth generations of Bennington Bookshop owners: (l.-r.) Jay Zwynenburg, Joan Zwynenburg, Rick Havlak, Ellen Havlak, Phil Lewis and Linda Foulsham.

To celebrate the newest owners of the Bennington Bookshop, Bennington, Vt., the store held an open house this past Saturday. Founded in 1928 by Ronald Sinclair, Bennington Bookshop was eventually bought by Jay and Joan Zwynenburg, who sold it in 1979 to Rick and Ellen Havlak, who moved the store to its current Main Street location. After 35 years, the Havlaks recently sold the store to Phil Lewis and Linda Foulsham.


Cool (and Tasty) Idea of the Day: Farm-to-Table Dinners

In a partnership with the Arsht Farmer's Market held every Monday from 4-8 p.m., the Cafe at Books & Books at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts in Miami, Fla., is offering "farm-to-table dinners" Mondays that feature produce from the farmer's market. Chef Allen Susser shops the market and then cooks up a three-course meal. The meals are served family style at 6:30 p.m.; local growers are on hand to visit tales and talk with guests.

In a segment about the meals on WSVN, Susser said that the meal costs $25 and makes for "a great beginning of the week."


'The Most Instagrammed Bathroom in Lexington'

When the Morris Book Shop, Lexington, Ken., moved four years ago, "We had only had one bathroom in the first store," said owner Wyn Morris. "Here we had two bathrooms. We had to decide: Men & Women? or Them & Us?" They chose the latter, and the rest is Instagram history, Books & Whatnot reported.

"This building was constructed in the '50s, and it's just a big cinderblock rectangle," Morris said. "We gutted it, but the bathrooms were already in place. They felt very institutional, with cinderblocks painted that industrial tan color. They were not warm at all. Vicki and Blake wanted to turn this cold prison bathroom into something warm." In addition to adding a mirror on the high ceiling, "we have the world's tiniest sink. They also painted bands of color on the wall that continue in the reflection as you look upward."

Now the Morris Book Shop's bathroom has become an attraction. "We have the most Instagrammed bathroom in Lexington," Morris noted.


Media and Movies

Media Heat: Eric Greitens, Author of Resilience

Tomorrow morning on the Today Show: Maria Kang, author of The No More Excuses Diet: 3 Days to Bust Any Excuse, 3 Weeks to Easy New Eating Habits, 3 Months to Total (Harmony, $26, 9780553419672).

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Tomorrow on NPR's the Takeaway: Eric Greitens, author of Resilience: Hard-Won Wisdom for Living a Better Life (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $26, 9780544323988). He will also appear on Fox Business's Your World with Neil Cavuto.



Books & Authors

Awards: Whiting; Baileys; Publishing Triangle; Australia Council

The 10 winners of the Whiting Awards, which give $50,000 each based on "early accomplishment" to "emerging writers of fiction, nonfiction, drama and poetry," are:

Anthony Carelli (poetry)
Leopoldine Core (fiction)
Aracelis Girmay (poetry)
Lucas Hnath (drama)
Jenny Johnson (poetry
Dan Josefson (fiction)
Elena Passarello (nonfiction)
Roger Reeves (poetry)
Azareen Van der Vliet Oloomi (fiction)
Anne Washburn (drama)

Presentations were made last week at the New-York Historical Society. The Whiting Awards are sponsored by the Whiting Foundation.

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The longlist for the 2015 Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction, which "celebrates excellence, originality and accessibility in writing by women in English from throughout the world," has been announced. The shortlist will be announced April 13 and the winner on June 3.

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The Publishing Triangle has announced the finalists for the Publishing Triangle Awards, which can be seen here, as well as said that Rigoberto González is the winner of the 2015 Bill Whitehead Award for Lifetime Achievement. The author of four books of poetry, most recently Unpeopled Eden, and 10 books of prose, González is contributing editor for Poets & Writers magazine, is on the executive board of directors of the National Book Critics Circle and is professor of English at Rutgers-Newark, the State University of New Jersey. He will be honored at the Publishing Triangle Awards ceremony, which will be held April 23 in New York City.

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Author Thomas Keneally was honored with an Australia Council award for lifetime achievement in literature, the Guardian reported. He was one of 10 Australians to be recognized by the council "for outstanding contributions to the arts landscape" in 2015.

Tony Grybowski, the Australia Council's CEO, said, "The 10 recipients are widely respected by their peers nationally and internationally, and these awards give us the opportunity to reflect on their considerable body of work and the impact they have had on the arts in Australia and overseas."


Book Review

Review: The Beauty

The Beauty: Poems by Jane Hirshfield (Knopf , $26 hardcover, 9780385351072, March 17, 2015)

The Beauty, Jane Hirshfield's (Come, Thief) eighth collection, reveals a poet at the height of her powers. With her signature use of deceptively simple images and language, she hints at the unspoken truths that lie just beyond our perspective while celebrating the everyday details and connections that make a life.

The opening poem, "Fado," is one of the collection's loveliest. A magician conjures a quarter from a girl's ear while in that "same half-stopped moment" a woman in a wheelchair in Portugal sings a fado at dawn. The quiet, beautiful descriptions belie the writer's wonder that two people oceans apart both live small miracles. The next 11 poems directly address personal, quotidian concerns, with titles like "My Skeleton" and "My Sandwich." The focus in these poems moves outward, from the specific to the universal. "My Memory" reads, in its entirety, "Like the small soaps and shampoos/ a traveler brings home/ then won't use,/ you, memory,/ almost weightless/ this morning inside me."

The collection as a whole reflects this outward movement. Later poems begin to lose the first-person voice. They describe an object or episode from a greater distance, without editorial. In "Anywhere You Look," Hirshfield writes "in the corner of a high rain gutter/ under the roof tiles/ new grasses' delicate seed heads/ what war, they say." The poems begin to acknowledge that the business of living profoundly connects us, whether it involves the common cold or grief, aging and loss.

And it is this range of concerns that helps makes The Beauty remarkable. Hirshfield's work has always been steeped in Zen Buddhism, fusing observed, sensory experience with mindful acceptance. Still, these poems acknowledge the struggle and the inevitability of regret. In "A Cottony Fate" she says "Long ago, someone/ told me: avoid or./ It troubles the mind/ as a held-out piece of meat disturbs a dog./ Now I too am sixty./ There was no other life." In her closing poem, she moves closer to acceptance: "I wanted my fate to be human..../ Yes, No, Or/ --a day, a life, slips through them..../ And the logic of shoes becomes at last simple."

While many of these poems are brief, they are masterpieces in miniature. Their images are simple but not obvious; they are offered without judgment. They also reward contemplation. Hirshfield asks her readers to wait for their own reactions, suggesting that those reactions matter because they open the door to the poem's meaning, and because they unite us all. --Jeanette Zwart, freelance writer and reviewer

Shelf Talker: Published alongside her essay collection Ten Windows: How Great Poems Transform the World (Knopf), Jane Hirshfield's On Beauty is a moving and accomplished collection by one of our finest poets.


The Bestsellers

Top Book Club Picks in February

The following were the most popular book club books during February based on votes from more than 120,000 book club readers from more than 39,000 book clubs registered at Bookmovement.com:

1. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
2. The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
3. The Rosie Project by Graeme Simison
4. Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline
5. Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
6. The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd
7. The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown
8. The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin
9. Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
10. The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty

Rising stars:
Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult
The Martian by Andy Weir

[Many thanks to Bookmovement.com!]


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