Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, March 9, 2016


Penguin Press: Feel Free: Essays by Zadie Smith

Graphix: Dog Man and Cat Kid (Dog Man #4) by Dav Pilkey

Ecco Press: Varina by Charles Frazier

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

News

New Owner for BookHampton in East Hampton

Carolyn Brody has purchased BookHampton in East Hampton, N.Y., from Charline Spektor, and has brought in Roxanne Coady, owner of R.J. Julia Booksellers in Madison, Conn., and her team to manage operations. Spektor sold her other location, in Southhampton, last fall to former employees Daniel Hirsch and Gregory Harris.

"BookHampton is a treasure trove, a rich environment for all the arts," said Brody. "I am thrilled to continue the wonderful legacy of this important bookstore and will be an active, hands-on owner. Independent bookstores are enjoying a resurgence and I want to contribute to that. As Ann Patchett said, 'bookstores are back.' And I couldn't ask for a more responsive audience and community." She added that plans call for BookHampton "to close for a short while for renovations and host a grand reopening for the season."

Coady noted that when Brody first contacted her about the prospect, "I was wildly enthusiastic. Carolyn brings strong skills and great passion, knowledge, and dedication to this bookstore. She's an exciting addition to the community of booksellers. I see extraordinary potential for BookHampton to become even more vibrant for readers and authors. And it feels like kismet to have the opportunity to be part of a store so similar to R.J. Julia."

A longtime East Hampton resident, Brody is a civic leader, advocate for the arts and the environment, and chairman emeritus of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. She is past chair of the National Building Museum, and was appointed by President Clinton to the Commission on Fine Arts. She has been a real estate consultant to the World Bank, a real estate investment banker at First Boston Corporation and an economic development consultant to a large New England bank, among other professional roles.

Publishers can contact Liz Bartek at lbartek@bookhampton.com regarding upcoming author events.


Shelf Awareness Sign-up Giveaway: The Land Beyond by Leon McCarron


DBW 2016: Barnes & Noble

At Digital Book World yesterday, Fred Argir, who joined Barnes & Noble as chief digital officer in July, discussed the company's digital initiatives, omnichannel marketing and Amazon's bricks-and-mortar bookstores.

Fred Argir

Argir described Amazon Books stores (one has opened in Seattle, Wash., and another will open in San Diego, Calif., this summer) as "small footprints," featuring electronics and books. By contrast, he said, "the Barnes & Noble experience is something very unique": larger box stores, with booksellers, places to get coffee and "have a family experience." He continued: "We have digital content, we have digital devices, we have a website, we have a mobile experience, we have a store. As of right now, we think that's the anchor that is paramount to the industry."

B&N has a variety of channels for reaching customers and fulfilling orders, he noted. Besides the standard model of shopping in stores or buying online and having books shipped directly to them from warehouses, customers can, for example, buy online and have books shipped from one of B&N's 640 stores when inventory runs out in a B&N warehouse. "In our case, you can think of 640 stores as essentially 640 distribution centers," he said. "It's great for customers," who often get shipments faster from nearby stores. Many times, B&N ships to its stores, where customers pick up orders. He added that it's important to have all those channels available on desktop and on mobile, which now accounts for more than 50% of online traffic.

And B&N aims to "enhance the in-store experience," helping customers to find books in-store via their phones. This also will help B&N's "great booksellers" engage with mobile users and offer publishers new opportunities to promote their books in B&N stores.

As for B&N.com, Argir said that the company had focused for several years on the "plumbing," or behind-the-scenes improvements that customers don't see, but is now is "looking at a complete redesign of the site." He said that people will notice major changes in "the flow of the site," including product pages, image sizes and content. --John Mutter


Trinity University Press: Arte Kids - Bilingual Board Books


DBW 2016: John Ingram Talks Transformation

"What Ingram's acquisition of Perseus's distribution business signals is the change of Ingram's center of gravity," said John Ingram, chairman and CEO of Ingram Content Group, at Digital Book World yesterday in New York City. Ingram was in conversation with Mike Shatzkin, founder and chief executive of the Idea Logical Company, about how Ingram Content Group has transformed over the years in response to the digital revolution.

John Ingram

The first topic of discussion was Ingram's purchase of Perseus's distribution business, announced last week. The most exciting thing about having Perseus's distribution operations, Ingram continued, "is their orientation more on sales and marketing." The acquisition gives Ingram enough scale, he said, that the company can now help publishers be more aggressive with marketing and discoverability in existing channels. As to why Ingram Publisher Services acquired Perseus's distribution operations, Ingram noted the changing realities in the business. With Amazon's increasing number of warehouses, the company doesn't "need people like us as much as they once did," while publishers have also gotten better at logistics and are "more aggressively going after direct business." Ingram said he could "howl at the moon and say that's not fair," but it was better for himself and his company to look for new opportunities.

Shatzkin noted that as of 2015, 56% of Ingram's gross profit comes from new business rather than book wholesaling, a transformation that began 20 years ago with the creation of Ingram's print-on-demand service, Lightning Print (now Lightning Source). Asked if starting Lightning was difficult, Ingram said that despite lacking a background in the printing business, it wasn't in and of itself particularly challenging. The difficulty came in 2000, with the Rocket eBook and Stephen King's digital exclusive novella Riding the Bullet. Adding the ability to do full e-book downloads through Lightning was extremely expensive, recalled Ingram, but he "didn't see how you couldn't do it, and just give up on what seemed like a very material part of the future." Digital did not take off at that time, which led to several difficult years. It wasn't until about 2005, Ingram added, that it became fairly clear that Lightning would be a success.

Asked about how incumbents in established businesses respond to entrepreneurship and innovation, Ingram acknowledged that there is "always a tension between control and innovation." Transformation, he said, is not just a slogan--"it is really about cultural change within an organization." Part of the cultural change that has gone on at Ingram, he continued, is a conscious effort to be willing to give up some control to take advantage of innovation. Looking to the future, Ingram said he would like to expand options in existing channels to the point where publishers would have more control over what happens in a given channel.

"We believe in win-win," said Ingram. "Our success comes with others being successful." --Alex Mutter


Thomas Nelson: Perennials by Julie Cantrell


BEA Event Director Rosato Stepping Down

Steve Rosato

Steve Rosato has left his position as event director for BookExpo America after 18 years and will be exploring a new venture within the publishing industry that will be announced at a later date. Brien McDonald, director, publisher & studio relations, will assume Rosato's duties "to insure a smooth transition and continuity in the weeks leading up to this year's Chicago event," BEA said.

"Steve has not just served BEA, the publishing, bookselling and librarian communities for nearly two decades but to many within those communities, Steve has defined BEA to them," said Lance Fensterman, who oversees ReedPOP and BEA and is a former BEA event director. "Through his service, knowledge, hard work and most of all his care, passion and good humor he has been the face of BookExpo America to so many, including myself and many others within Reed. It's with a heavy heart professionally and with great warmth personally we wish Steve the very best in his new adventure, and I am certain we are not alone on those well wishes."

American Booksellers Association CEO Oren Teicher commented: "I've had the pleasure of working with Steve Rosato for many, many years--dealing through all the myriad changes that have confronted the book business. Throughout it all, Steve's high degree of professionalism coupled with his commitment to always solving problems was paramount. Steve's become a good friend to me; to ABA; and, to hundreds of indie booksellers all across the country. We will miss him; but, wish him well."

Tina Jordan, v-p of the Association of American Publishers, added that the book industry "has been very fortunate to have him leading BEA for so many years. His knowledge and institutional understanding of the book community has benefited booksellers and publishers alike. He has worn BEA on his sleeve, and with that steadfast and unwavering 20-year commitment he has become a highly respected colleague and great friend to many. The news is bittersweet. While we are sad to see him go, we're thrilled that he will continue bringing his expertise to the book world in his new role."


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


Half Price Books Opens Store in Downers Grove, Ill.

Half Price Books recently opened a new location at 1328 Butterfield Road in Downers Grove, Ill., the Bugle reported. The chain now has 125 stores in 16 states across the U.S.

"The Chicago area is a wonderful place full of many great booklovers," said Kathy Doyle Thomas, the company's executive v-p and chief strategy officer. "We are thrilled to have our 10th store in the area in Downers Grove and are excited to be a part of this community."

Laurey Anicka, Chicago district manager for Half Price Books, said the company took a lot of things into consideration before opening the new location, including where existing customers are coming from, education and population density. "Downers Grove has everything we look for in a market, so we were thrilled when our development team found this great location for us."


Obituary Note: Marilyn Stokstad

Marilyn Stokstad, whose two-volume work Art History, published in 1995 and currently in its fifth edition, "arrived at a time when few, if any, major art-history textbooks included the work of female artists" and is now "one of the most widely used textbooks of its kind in classrooms across the world," died March 4, the Lawrence Journal-World reported. She was 87. Her "groundbreaking work helped shape a more comprehensive scholarship of art history, academics note--one that acknowledged and celebrated the women, people of color and non-Western artists often overlooked in traditional textbooks," the Journal-World noted. Stokstad taught at Kansas University from 1958 until her retirement as the Judith Harris Murphy Distinguished Professor of Art History in 2002.


Notes

Brewster Book Store: 'A Storybook Success'

"When John Landon talks about the long, successful run of the Brewster Book Store, he credits friends and, most especially, his late wife, Nancy," Cape Cod Times noted in its q&a with the owner of the Brewster, Mass., business, as well as manager Valerie Arroyo. Among our favorite exchanges:

What is the most important thing your business does?
John Landon: We provide books for the community and for people who come to the Cape for vacation. We have a fairly sizable inventory and we keep up with it. We also work a lot with the local schools and library. We sell traditional books and e-books and have book signings.
Valerie Arroyo: Over the years, there has been doom and gloom over Amazon, e-books and wondering if bookstores can be viable. We've managed to stay viable by doing what we do best, which is offering personalized customer service that people appreciate. We've become a summer destination for a lot of people. They come back every year.

How has the market changed since your business started?
VA: One of the changes is that people are much more aware of buying local. We feel blessed to be a part of this community. Another change is in children's books--anywhere from baby to young adult. They're better than they've ever been and we have so many more options now.... Book clubs have exploded in the last few years. We get a lot of business from those folks looking for recommendations and to make purchases.

What are your plans for your business' future?
JL: To continue the way it's going. The people who work at the bookstore are really good with customers and they really know the books. We want to continue to be a service to the public.

What's the best thing about having a business on Cape Cod?
VA: It's definitely our customers. We meet such a wide variety of people. Working here feels like being among friends and you're talking about books, which is always fun. It's not work at all.
JL: I love people and I talk to people from all over the world who come into the bookstore, though I'm not there much anymore. This is my first full year of retirement. But Nancy got her wish. She got her bookstore and it is a great bookstore.


Media and Movies

Media Heat: Alex Abramovich on Fresh Air

Today:
Fresh Air: Alex Abramovich, author of Bullies: A Friendship (Holt, $26, 9780805094282).

Tomorrow:
Fox Business's Mornings with Maria: Lawrence B. Lindsey, author of Conspiracies of the Ruling Class: How to Break Their Grip Forever (Simon & Schuster, $26, 9781501144233).

NPR's Here and Now: Bob Mehr, author of Trouble Boys: The True Story of the Replacements (Da Capo Press, $27.50, 9780306818790).

Wendy Williams: Lisa Nichols, co-author of Abundance Now: Amplify Your Life & Achieve Prosperity Today (Dey Street, $25.99, 9780062412201).

Daily Show: Padma Lakshmi, author of Love, Loss, and What We Ate: A Memoir (Ecco, $26.99, 9780062202611).


Movies: Blood's a Rover; Vengeance: A Love Story

The Mark Gordon Company will produce and finance a film adaptation of Blood's a Rover by James Ellroy. Deadline reported that a script has been written by Mark Fergus and Hawk Ostby (Children of Men, Iron Man), and the project "is being packaged to shoot at year's end."

"Ellroy's novels have become part of the American cultural narrative and have resonated worldwide for decades," said Gordon. "Blood's a Rover is no exception. Although set in the 1960s, the politically charged plot, morally conflicted protagonist and vibrant portrayal of Los Angeles remain very relevant today."

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Harold Becker "has left the director's chair" on Vengeance: A Love Story during pre-production and will be replaced by Nicolas Cage, who stars in the film and "has a long history with the producer/financier Michael Mendelsohn," Deadline reported, adding that the "sudden change comes as pre-production is already underway for a shoot to begin the first week of April in Atlanta."



Books & Authors

Awards: PEN/Faulkner; Lambda Literary; Spark; ForeWord

A shortlist has been unveiled for the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction. The winner, who receives $15,000, will be announced April 5, with the four finalists getting $5,000 each. All five authors will be honored May 14 during the 36th annual PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction ceremony at the Folger Shakespeare Library. The shortlisted authors are:

James Hannaham for Delicious Foods
Julie Iromuanya for Mr. and Mrs. Doctor
Viet Thanh Nguyen for The Sympathizer
Elizabeth Tallent for Mendocino Fire
Luis Alberto Urrea for The Water Museum

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Finalists for the 28th annual Lambda Literary Awards, which "celebrate achievement in lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) writing for books published in 2015," have been chosen in 25 categories, including the inaugural year for Transgender Poetry. The complete list of finalists can be viewed here. Pioneer and Trustee Award honorees will be announced in April, and winners June 6 at the Lambda Literary Awards ceremony in New York City.

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The Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators announced the winners of this year's Spark Award, which "recognizes excellence in a children's book published through a non-traditional publishing platform." The illustrated book winner is Beautiful Hands by Kathryn Otoshi, co-written by Bret Baumgarten. The book for older readers winner is The Storytellers by Elisa White Reyes. They receive the opportunity to attend a conference during their winning year, participate in the book signing at a conference, a press release, a Spark seal for their book and publicity through SCBWI social media networks.

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Finalists have been named for the 2015 INDIEFAB Book of the Year Awards, which are sponsored by ForeWord Reviews to "shine a light on a select group of indie publishers, university presses and self-published authors whose work stands out from the crowd." Winners will be announced in June during the American Library Association's annual conference in Orlando, Fla.


Book Brahmin: Cote Smith

photo: Mick Cottin

Cote Smith grew up in Leavenworth, Kans., and various army bases around the country and earned an MFA from the University of Kansas. His work has been featured in One Story and FiveChapters, and his debut novel, Hurt People, was just published in trade paperback by Farrar, Straus & Giroux.

On your nightstand now:

I just cleaned my nightstand. Previously there were several books I recently finished (Gutshot by Amelia Gray; A Manual for Cleaning Women by Lucia Berlin, Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff; Gold Fame Citrus by Claire Vaye Watkins); a clock whose batteries died at least three years ago, and a lot of cat and dog fur. Now there is slightly less fur, Sick in the Head by Judd Apatow, Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer and a Wii U Gamepad so I can play Super Metroid every night before bed.

Favorite book when you were a child:

I read all of R.L. Stine's Fear Street books. I have no idea if they are good, but they were scary, unapologetically violent and featured beautiful girls on the cover. They were campy horror movies for kids. There might be something wrong with me.

Your top five authors:

George Saunders, Amy Hempel, Dan Chaon, Jennifer Egan, Lauren Groff.

Book you've faked reading:

There are too many to count. So if you ask me if I've read a book and I say yes, then promptly change the subject to R.L. Stine or Super Metroid, I was most likely lying.

Book you're an evangelist for:

I like to think that the books that need evangelizing are the ones that aren't getting enough attention. For example, is anyone talking about Rebecca Lee's Bobcat and Other Stories? We should be.

Book you've bought for the cover:

Other than the Fear Street books mentioned earlier, I've never actually done this, but my wife, a veterinary technician, bought the paperback of Aryn Kyle's God of Animals because it had a horse on the cover. And I'm so glad she did, because I read it when she was finished and absolutely loved it.

Book you hid from your parents:

Are my mother's old Victoria's Secret catalogues considered books? What if I bound two or three of them together before stuffing them beneath my bed?

Book that changed your life:

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. I like to think that I was born an empathetic person, but really I just happened to read this book in eighth grade.

Favorite line from a book:

From Amy Hempel's short story "In the Cemetery Where Al Jolson is Buried":

"And when the baby died, the mother stood over the body, her wrinkled hands moving with animal grace, forming again and again the words: Baby, come hug, Baby, come hug, fluent now in the language of grief."

A perfect line from a perfect story.

Five books you'll never part with:

Reasons to Live by Amy Hempel
A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan
Virgil's Aeneid (the Pharr Latin edition)
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Cathedral by Raymond Carver

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

My first semester of graduate school, Deb Olin Unferth had us read Amy Hempel's Reasons to Live. I didn't have the writing experience or skills to truly appreciate how amazing that collection is, but I was still blown away.


Book Review

YA Review: Girl in the Blue Coat

Girl in the Blue Coat by Monica Hesse (Little, Brown, $17.99 hardcover, 320p., ages 12-up, 9780316260602, April 5, 2016)

Girl in the Blue Coat by Washington Post journalist Monica Hesse (Stray; Burn) is not only an intriguing missing persons case, it's a poignant, wonderfully crafted story of love and loss, courage and redemption. In 1943 Amsterdam, 18-year-old Hanneke Bakker--so blonde and green-eyed someone said she's "the girl Hitler is dreaming of to put on his Aryan posters"--trades in the Dutch black market to support her family.

Making deliveries on her secondhand bicycle, Hanneke finds and sells goods such as tea and cigarettes that are hard to come by now that the German Green Police occupy the city. Hanneke's heart has hardened since her boyfriend, Bas, died at the hands of the Nazis she encouraged him to fight, and she is missing her best friend, Elsbeth, who married into the Gestapo. So when elderly Mrs. Janssen begs her to find a missing Jewish girl named Mirjam Roodveldt, a 15-year-old she had been hiding in her pantry, Hanneke surprises herself by reluctantly agreeing to help: "That action is soft; I am practical. That action is hopeful; I am not," she thinks.

Once she commits to helping Mrs. Janssen, however, Hanneke becomes obsessed with finding clues about the girl in a blue coat "the color of the sky," who apparently disappeared into thin air. When she goes to the Jewish Lyceum to investigate where Mirjam went to school, Hanneke is confronted by memories of her own carefree days at school, a life which has since been "demolished, brick by brick." With that one dangerously high-profile act, she becomes an accidental member of the "huge and sprawling" world of the Dutch resistance, and slowly her worldview broadens. There's Judith who smuggles food to Jewish prisoners; Mina who finds homes for Jewish babies and secretly photographs the German occupation; and a surprising number of Hanneke's neighbors who harbor Jews in hidden rooms, all forming an intricate web of underground activity that becomes apparent the deeper Hanneke digs.

Although Judith is initially scornful of Hanneke for being concerned only about the welfare of Mirjam and not the greater cause, it is by following the trail of "a scared girl, one of many" that Hanneke is slowly able to make sense of the horror, and the heroism, abundant in this war. As she says, "But maybe because, in a country that has come to make no sense, in a world I cannot solve, this is a small piece that I can." Hanneke does solve this mystery, and finds a way to heal. And she will touch readers' hearts, too. --Lynn Becker, blogger and host of Book Talk, a monthly online discussion of children's books for SCBWI

Shelf Talker: In this fine YA novel, the search for one missing Jewish girl in German-occupied Amsterdam makes 18-year-old Hanneke an accidental member of the Dutch resistance.


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