Shelf Awareness for Tuesday, March 31, 2015


Penguin Press: Winter by Karl Ove Knausgaard

Ecco Press: Varina by Charles Frazier

House of Anansi Press: The Break by Katherena Vermette

Algonquin Books: Dreadful Young Ladies and Other Stories by Kelly Barnhill

Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books: Small Walt by Elizabeth Verdick and Marc Rosenthal

News

BAM Fourth Quarter: Revenues, Net Income Rise

During the fourth quarter ended January 31, revenues at Books-A-Million rose 1.8%, to $160.8 million, and net income rose 55.7%, to $19 million. Sales at stores open at least a year rose 1.7%.

For the full year, revenues rose 0.8%, to $474.1 million. Net income was $3.5 million, compared to $7.6 million. Sales at stores open at least a year rose 0.4%.

CEO and president Terrance G. Finley commented: "We delivered strong results for the quarter by building on a successful holiday selling season. Our team maintained the holiday sales momentum to drive success in full-priced books, gifts and café. We are pleased with our profit improvement for the quarter and the year."

In a conference call with analysts (via SeekingAlpha), Finley gave more details, saying that "our core book business continued to benefit from improving consumer book industry trends and exceeded plan for the period in spite of what was arguably a less robust publishing line-up in the last year… we continue to capitalize on the opportunity to reduce the rate of decline in physical book sales and as a result saw several of our larger categories generate positive results for the quarter.

"Our kid's book area delivered the most material growth with comparable sales gains in nearly every kid's sub-category. Titles related to Disney's Frozen and the online gaming property Minecraft were especially strong, and sales in kid's general fiction and non-fiction grew as well.

"Sales in the graphic novel category also continue to grow nicely on the strength of the significant resurgence of interest in several Manga series. And movie tie-ins related to Laura Hillenbrand's Unbroken and Chris Kyle's American Sniper, teamed up with former President George Bush's biography of his father, 41, to drive appreciable sales increases in the biography category.

"And notably our adult fiction category which has been our highest book volume category and the one most seriously impacted by the decline in physical book sales actually delivered favorable comparisons for the period in spite of a modest new commercial fiction line-up for the holiday period."

He added that the company is looking forward to the publication this summer of Harper Lee's second novel, Go Set a Watchman, "a once-in-a-lifetime publishing event…. Pre-sales for the new book have already been strong and this surprising event should continue to generate excitement and opportunity throughout the world of bookselling."


Quirk Books: My Lady's Choosing: An Interactive Romance Novel by Kitty Curran and Larissa Zageris


Book Bin on Virginia's Eastern Shore for Sale

Mary Smolinski and Susan Tyler, owners of the Book Bin, Onley, Va., are putting the store up for sale.

The Book Bin, they said, is "an established business in a great location, positioned in a vibrant, fully occupied shopping plaza on the main highway connecting the Delmarva Peninsula with Maryland to the north and Virginia Beach to the south. Construction has begun on a new hospital located directly behind the plaza, which will serve the population of the two surrounding Virginia counties. Resilient through several years of tough economic times, the Book Bin is currently achieving a 20% increase in sales for this year.

"In addition to the general book sales of both adult and juvenile titles, the Book Bin offers a full service coffee bar (which just won Best Coffee on the Shore for the fifth year in a row), on-site printing for invitations and stationery, greeting cards, gift items, puzzles and toys. We also enjoy long and established relationships with institutional customers including the local community college, schools and county and state government entities."

The Book Bin is also "an unofficial 'ticketmaster' for the Eastern Shore's many cultural events."

The store opened in 1982, and Smolinski and Tyler bought it from the founders when they retired 10 years ago.


Trinity University Press: Arte Kids - Bilingual Board Books


Second Location for Moravian Book Shop?

Moravian Book Shop, Bethlehem, Pa. "is considering a second location in Allentown, not looking to move there entirely," Bethlehem community and economic development director Alicia Karner told the Express-Times. Rumors had been circulating in the community that the 270-year-old bookstore might be relocating.

"We've heard the rumors, as well, and are certainly disappointed with the prospect that our anchor tenant is considering opening a store in Allentown," Karner said. "The conversations the mayor has had with them is they're looking to expand."

Although he declined to say whether the bookstore is seriously considering a second location in Allentown, Richard Santee, president of the bookstore's board of directors, said, "As long as I am board president, I do not foresee the day the Moravian Book Shop will not be on Main Street. Our relationship with the Moravian Church and the Bethlehem community is strong."

Karner told the Express-Times that Moravian "has been courted for second locations in the past but never gave them serious consideration until Allentown could offer its Neighborhood Improvement Zone benefits, which can offer well-below market rents."


Thomas Nelson: Perennials by Julie Cantrell


Lynn Cully Returns to Kensington After 15-Year Hiatus

This is a heartwarming story for several reasons.

After a hiatus of 15 years to raise her five children, Lynn Cully is returning to work at Kensington Publishing Corp. as director of sales. In 1990, she started at Kensington as sales director and became publisher just before she left the workforce in 2000 to raise her children.

Cully comes from a family with deep publishing roots. Her husband is David Cully, president, retail markets and executive v-p of merchandising for Baker & Taylor. Her sister, Laurie Brown, is senior v-p, sales and marketing, at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

"We're thrilled Lynn is returning to Kensington," said president and CEO Steven Zacharius. "She's a joy to work with. She's upbeat, charming, smart, fun. I could go on, but she'll use these words to haunt me. She will be extensively involved in meeting with authors, agents and accounts and will be a key addition to the senior management team at Kensington."


Obituary Note: James C. McKinley

Writer and editor James C. McKinley, who wrote several books, and was the longtime editor of New Letters literary magazine, died Saturday, the Kansas City Star reported. He was 79. His books ranged from story collections to Assassination in America, a 1977 work for which he interviewed James Earl Ray, convicted assassin of Martin Luther King Jr.


Notes

Image of the Day: Bear Pond Re-Opening

After closing for two days to merge with Rivendell Books, Bear Pond Books in Montpelier, Vt., re-opened this week with a lot of help from local volunteers and Baker & Taylor rep Karen Corvello. The store also unveiled a new Chicken Coop Reading Nook (that's children's buyer Jane Knight inside), built using a grant from author James Patterson. It was constructed by local carpenter (and customer) Brian Clark.


Publisher Move of the Day: PRH Bonus

Markus Dohle

On the occasion today of Bertelsmann's announcement of fiscal year results--which include Penguin Random House's "strong performance in its first full year after the merger"--PRH CEO Markus Dohle wrote to staff, in part: "I strongly believe that every one of us should share in our success. In appreciation of your immense contributions to the progress of our merger and to our outstanding publishing performance, all active U.S. employees as of December 31 will be able to benefit from our collective achievements. Those colleagues not on a Penguin Random House bonus or commission plan in 2014 will be rewarded on April 17, 2015, with a special payment of $750. Additional details, including prorated awards for 2014 new hires, will be sent to all recipients...."


Bookstore of the Year: Books & Books

Mitchell Kaplan

Congratulations to Mitchell Kaplan and Books & Books, which has been named PW's Bookstore of the Year, and to Jennifer Sheridan of HarperCollins, Sales Rep of the Year.

Mitchell Kaplan is a man of many hats: he's an international bookseller, a publisher, an agent and a movie producer. In 1982, he founded Books & Books in Coral Gables, Fla.; the company now has six stores in Florida and affiliated stores in Westhampton Beach, N.Y., and the Cayman Islands.

He also was a founder of the Miami Book Fair International, one of the first consumer book festivals in the country and the model for the many that take place every year.

While president of the American Booksellers Association, Kaplan had the idea for the Winter Institute, which in 10 years has become one of the most successful book gatherings in the industry.

Among the many honors he's won, in 2011, he received the Literarian Award for Outstanding Service to the American Literary Community from the National Book Foundation.


Personnel Changes at Brown Books; Morrow; Little, Brown; DK

Tom Reale has been named chief operating office of Brown Books Publishing Group and the Agency at Brown Books. He is a former v-p for Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and has served in diverse roles for publishers, including Random House and HarperCollins.

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Molly Birckhead has been promoted to marketing director at William Morrow. She joined Morrow in 2012 as associate director of marketing from Harper One.

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At Little, Brown:

Carrie Neill has been promoted to publicity manager.

Sabrina Benun has been promoted to assistant marketing and publicity manager for James Patterson.

Shawn Sarles moves up to project director and analyst for James Patterson sales.

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At DK:

Kell Wilson has been promoted to marketing manager, licensing and children's, where she will continue to look after properties including Lego, Star Wars, and Disney, as well as work on school and library initiatives.

Kathleen Quinlan joins DK as assistant marketing manager, licensing and children's. She was most recently the events and marketing specialist at Media Source Inc.


Media and Movies

Media Heat: Sara Gruen on Diane Rehm

Tomorrow on Diane Rehm: Sara Gruen, author of At the Water's Edge: A Novel (Spiegel & Grau, $28, 9780385523233).

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Tomorrow on the Wendy Williams Show: Rosie Perez, author of Handbook for an Unpredictable Life: How I Survived Sister Renata and My Crazy Mother, and Still Came Out Smiling (Three Rivers Press, $16, 9780307952400).

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Thursday on Diane Rehm: Matthew Vines, author of God and the Gay Christian: The Biblical Case in Support of Same-Sex Relationships (Convergent Books, $22.99, 9781601425164).

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Thursday on Ellen: Kimberly Snyder, author of The Beauty Detox Power: Nourish Your Mind and Body for Weight Loss and Discover True Joy (Harlequin, $18.95, 9780373893188).


TV: The Casual Vacancy Trailer

A trailer has been released for HBO's miniseries/BBC adaptation of J.K. Rowling's novel The Casual Vacancy, Deadline.com reported. The project stars Michael Gambon, Keeley Hawes, Rory Kinnear, Monica Dolan, Julia McKenzie and Abigail Lawrie. Jonny Campbell directed from a script by Sarah Phelps. The series premieres April 29 and 30.


On Stage and TV: Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies

Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall series (2009's Wolf Hall and 2012's Bring Up the Bodies), the Man Booker-winning historical fiction about the political intrigues of Thomas Cromwell in Henry VIII's court, is coming to PBS and Broadway.

The BBC adaptation Wolf Hall will air on PBS Masterpiece Sundays at 10 p.m. from April 5 to May 10. Damian Lewis (of Homeland) stars as Henry VIII alongside Mark Rylance as Thomas Cromwell and Claire Foy as Anne Boleyn. Tie-in editions are available from Picador.

The Royal Shakespeare Company's two-part stage adaptation, Wolf Hall Parts One & Two, at the Winter Garden Theatre is in previews and officially opens April 9. Each part is a separate play, performed either on successive nights or both in one (long) day. Discounts are available for purchasing tickets for both plays at once.



Books & Authors

Awards: IACP; Walt Whitman; Orwell; Bookseller Book of the Year

The International Association of Culinary Professionals last week held its annual awards ceremony. Winners included Julia Child First Book Award: Heritage by Sean Brock (Artisan) and Cookbook of the Year: A New Napa Cuisine by Christopher Kostow (Ten Speed Press). See the full list here.

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Sjohnna McCray won the 2015 Walt Whitman Award, sponsored by the Academy of American Poets and designed to encourage the work of emerging poets. His manuscript, Rapture, will be published by Graywolf Press in 2016, and the Academy of American Poets will purchase and distribute thousands of copies of the book to its members. As winner, McCray receives $5,000, a six-week residency at the Civitella Ranieri Center in Umbria, Italy, and will be featured on Poets.org and in American Poets magazine.

Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Tracy K. Smith, who selected McCray, commented: "These poems are so beautifully crafted, so courageous in their truth-telling, and so full of what I like to think of as lyrical wisdom--the visceral revelations that only music, gesture and image, working together, can impart--that not only did they stop me in my tracks as a judge, but they changed me as a person. Sjohnna McCray's is an ecstatic and original voice, and he lends it to family, history, race and desire in ways that are healing and enlarging. Rapture announces a prodigious talent and a huge human heart."

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Longlists have been released for this year's Orwell Prize for political writing, which consists of three categories: a book, a journalist and a "prize for exposing Britain's social evils." Winners, who each receive £3,000 (about $4,470), will be announced May 21. Check out the complete Orwell Prize longlists here.

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Nominees have been announced for the Bookseller's inaugural Book of the Year award, which "recognizes the publishing as well as the books, with both author and publisher as recipients." The winner will be named May 11. The shortlisted titles are:

The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton (Picador, U.S. edition: Ecco)
H Is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald (Jonathan Cape, Grove Press)
Minecraft: The Official Construction Handbook (Egmont, Scholastic)
Awful Auntie by David Walliams (HarperCollins)
The Pointless Book by Alfie Deyes (Blink Publishing, Running Press)
Girl Online by Zoe Sugg (Penguin, Atria/Keywords)
Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, translated by Arthur Goldhammer (Harvard University Press/Belknap)
Persiana by Sabrina Ghayour (Mitchell Beazley, Interlink)
The Wake by Paul Kingsnorth (Unbound, Graywolf--Sept.)
Macavity: The Mystery Cat by T.S. Eliot, newly illustrated by Arthur Robins (Faber)

Philip Jones, editor of the Bookseller, said: "It takes an industry to create a book. For me, the standout books are a product of collaboration between those who write them and those who make them."


Book Review

Review: Ashes in My Mouth, Sand in My Shoes: Stories

Ashes in My Mouth, Sand in My Shoes: Stories by Per Petterson, trans. by Don Bartlett (Graywolf Press, $14 trade paper, 9781555977009, April 7, 2015)

American fans of Norwegian author Per Petterson's novels, like Out Stealing Horses and To Siberia, will be delighted that Graywolf Press has decided to publish the collection Ashes in My Mouth, Sand in My Shoes: Stories, the book that marked Petterson's literary debut in 1987. These spare, outwardly simple stories offer an early glimpse of the psychological acuity that's distinguished his entire body of work.

Ashes comprises 10 stories set in Oslo in the early 1960s, each portraying an episode in the life of young Arvid Jensen, the protagonist (as an adult) of Petterson's 2010 novel, I Curse the River of Time. Arvid lives in a row house with his parents--his father, a shoe factory worker turned toothbrush assembler; his mother, a Dane who cleans a music school at night; and an older sister.

If there's a theme to the collection, it's Arvid's loss of illusions, as in the affecting tale "Like a Tiger in a Cage," where he first senses the inevitability of time's passage, noticing that "it was time that had happened" when he compares a photograph of his mother before his birth to her appearance in the present. "Fatso" portrays an obnoxious neighbor who's the object of Arvid's taunts, but who becomes a figure of pathos in the story's final pages. "The Black Car," which deals with the unexpected death of Arvid's grandfather, is a complex meditation on the reality of generational succession.

But Petterson's stories are not without flashes of wit. "Today You Must Pray to God" recalls the Cuban missile crisis, when Arvid, already an atheist at age eight, "saw no reason to stay at school if there was going to be a nuclear war." In "People Are Not Animals," he reluctantly reconciles himself to the truth of human sexuality. That realization, Petterson wryly observes, "was a lot to take for someone who had just stopped believing in God."

As in his novels, Petterson's prose is uncluttered, evoking comparisons to Raymond Carver, to whom he's acknowledged his literary debt. Despite that, he's capable of flights of lyricism, as when he describes how Arvid could see a fjord "twinkling like a vast piece of silver foil in a thousand small glints between the many spruce trees" or how the voices of imprisoned women in "Call Me Ali Baba," "fluttered like scraps of paper on the shining autumn air." Though his novels inevitably are more complex, Ashes in My Mouth, Sand in My Shoes possesses all the qualities that make Per Petterson's larger works so impressive. --Harvey Freedenberg, attorney and freelance reviewer

Shelf Talker: These 10 brief stories about the life of a boy in 1960s Oslo mark the literary debut of Norwegian novelist Per Petterson.


Deeper Understanding

Stand Up Comics: The World, and Others

Stand Up Comics is a regular column by Adan Jimenez. These titles need no introduction: just read the column, then read some good comics!

Zen Pencils: Cartoon Quotes from Inspirational Folks by Gavin Aung Than (Andrews McMeel, $14.99, 9781449457952)
Gavin Aung Than used to be a corporate graphic designer, but it was a job he did not find very fulfilling. Whenever he could get a free moment, he would go online and read Wikipedia biographies of people he felt had more interesting lives. Those bios, and the things these people said, ultimately inspired Aung Than to leave his job and focus on cartooning full time. Zen Pencils was born from there.

It's easy to say Aung Than is simply taking others' words for his own use (and he has gotten in a bit of trouble over that, most notably with HarperCollins for using a Charles Bukowski quote), but there is clearly a transformative quality here. Aung Than uses the quotes to create little stories that perfectly illustrate these famous words. My personal favorite is the female wrestler's story that Aung Than couples with a Howard Thurman quote.

Aung Than has been turning inspirational quotes into comics since February 2012, quoting the likes of Theodore Roosevelt, Vincent Van Gogh, Timothy Leary, Bruce Lee, Taylor Mali, Stephen Fry and Neil deGrasse Tyson, among many others.

Handselling Opportunities: Folks who love to put quotes from famous people on their Facebook feeds and the people who Like those posts.


Henshin by Ken Niimura (Image Comics, $19.99, 9781632152428)
Featuring drunk salarymen, superheroes in hiding, expatriates, cats whose existence can be proven only by the poop they leave behind, gangsters and the author himself, Niimura's story collection ranges from the hilarious to the poignant to the absurd.

Most of the tales are clearly fictional (like the superhero family who are trying to hide their existence and really don't want to have to move again), but some are semi-autobiographical stories in which Niimura stars. They are mostly about his love of cats, and the odd ways in which a cat shows its love of him, but they are also about the writing process, and how it is both difficult and rewarding in equal measures.

My favorite story is the heartbreaking tale of two old men who have known each other since high school, one of whom is dying. It is told in just 27 pages, but the bond between them is never in doubt.

Handselling Opportunities: People who enjoys stories by a single author that run the gamut of genres and styles, and people who love cats.


Cochlea & Eustachia by Hans Rickheit (Fantagraphics, $19.99, 9781606998014)
This is a weird book. The setting and characters are indeterminately inhuman. Even the plot is indeterminate, at least for the first few readings.

Cochlea and Eustachia are two humanoid twin girls infesting the home of a mole-looking creature, who also happens to be a scientist. There's also a third girl running around who looks exactly like the twins, but they've never seen her before. She's causing mayhem wherever she goes, antagonizing the mole scientist. Since they all look alike, the mole scientist goes after whichever girl he sees first, who just happens to be the innocent Cochlea. What follows is death and destruction on a grand scale.

There are worlds within worlds in this book: inside the odd machinery and stuffed animals arrayed around the house and inside the girls themselves. Nothing is what it seems, and yet everything is drawn in a crisp, clean style that makes one think that all is normal, no matter how strange it looks.

Handselling Opportunities: Fans of Thomas Pynchon and William Burroughs, and any other books that don't seem to make a lot of sense the first time you read them.


The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage: The (Mostly) True Story of the First Computer by Sydney Padua (Pantheon, $28.95, 9780307908278)
Ada, Countess of Lovelace, daughter of Romantic poet Lord Byron, and polymath Charles Babbage theorized building the first computer in Victorian England. Alas, they never got past writing a paper and building a small model in real life. However, that didn't stop Sydney Padua from creating a pocket universe in which they succeed in building the Analytical Engine and then use it to fight crime, those "crimes" being economic collapses and syntax errors.

Padua's Lovelace and Babbage are hilarious and lovable. They are based on the real people, as evidenced by Padua's copious footnotes and endnotes, which are often as hilarious as the comics themselves. Her art of the engine's insides and outsides are likewise (mostly) based on Babbage's original notes and sketches, and look exactly how you might think a Victorian-era steam-powered computer would look.

If mathematics can have imaginary numbers that are incredibly important for certain types of equations, then literature can definitely have imaginary histories that are incredibly important to our understanding of the world.

Handselling Opportunities: Lovers of higher mathematics, steampunk and humor.


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