Shelf Awareness for Friday, June 3, 2016


HarperCollins: On a Magical Do-Nothing Day by Beatrice Alemagna

Johns Hopkins University Ptess: Playboys and Mayfair Men by Angus McLaren / A Year of Writing Dangerously by Keith Gandal

Atlantic Monthly Press: The Prague Sonata by Bradford Morrow

Balzer & Bray/Harperteen: I Love You Like a Pig by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Greg Pizzoli

Quotation of the Day

'In Bookselling, a Modicum of Inefficiency Is in Order'

"If we were to seek counsel from consultants, they would advise on 'efficiencies' and 'best practices'. If we adopted them, we would only carry titles that sell well on the principle that a book must earn its spot on the shelf--its 'real estate'--by 'turning over' or selling multiple times a year. This is good business, and a model that will lead to a strong bottom line....

"To this end, allow me to quote Jonathan Lear, esteemed philosopher, director of the Neubauer Collegium and longtime Seminary Co-op member. 'Of one thing I am certain: as soon as a committee insists that the Seminary Coop adhere to "best practices" we are at most one generation away from the institution's demise. "Best practices" is the third to the last thing the Seminary Coop says before giving up the ghost to Amazon.com. If the Seminary Co-op is to survive into a new generation, if it is to flourish, it will, among other things, have to have many books on its shelves that no "best practice" would ever allow.'

"Inefficiency has its place. In raising children, in most artistic endeavors, and in bookselling, a modicum of inefficiency is in order."

--Jeff Deutsch, director of Seminary Co-op Bookstores in Chicago, in a letter this week to members and friends titled "The Future of the Co-op: A Call to Action." The response was "extraordinary."

AuthorBuzz: Indie Bookstore Readers


News

Deep Vellum Bookstore Seeks Business Partner

Will Evans

Deep Vellum Publishing founder Will Evans is looking for a business partner to run Deep Vellum Books, the indie bookstore he launched last December but has recently had to scale back, the Dallas Morning News reported. Yesterday, Evans posted a notice on his Facebook page saying that he is "looking to step back from Deep Vellum Books and am looking for a partner to step in and take over the day to day operations and to take it to the next level. If that person is you, hit me up. If nothing comes up, I'll close the bookstore in the next week after a fire sale to sell as much stock as possible."

Noting that he came to this decision "only because I've finally stretched myself too thin," Evans cited being a father, running the publishing house and "starting up a new venture I'll be able to share so soon" as primary reasons. Regarding the bookstore, he wrote: "The money in the store is good. The space is amazing. The landlords get it fundamentally (which is so rare, and so beautiful). I just need a partner, the store needs a Javi to my Paco, you Dallas The Wild Detectives homies know what I mean. Let's carry on the magic!"

Evans told the Morning News he is not "looking for a store manager, and I don't need employees. I'm looking for a partner," ideally someone who would handle the day-to-day responsibilities as well as to invest money in the store, though if they wanted to only be an investor, he could hire someone to "take it to the next level."


Zondervan: To Wager Her Heart (Belle Meade Plantation) by Tamera Alexander


Binc Awards $109,000 in Higher Ed Scholarships

The Binc Foundation has announced its 2016 Higher Education Scholarship winners. The program is awarding 27 scholarships, totaling $109,000, to eligible current bookstore employees/owners and their dependents, as well as former Borders Group employees and their dependents. There are two $10,000 scholarships, 24 $3,500 scholarships and one $5,000 Karl Pohrt Memorial Scholarship, which is granted to an independent bookstore employee candidate who has overcome learning adversity or is a non-traditional student. The scholarships can be used for tuition, fees, books, supplies and room and board, and can be used over consecutive years if the student is not able to use the entire award for the 2015-2016 academic year.

Since 2001, the Foundation has granted more than $1.8 million in educational awards to more than 600 booksellers.


Kepler's New Partnerships for Its GiftLit Service

Kepler's Books, Menlo Park, Calif., has set up new partnerships for its GiftLit subscription service, with Books for Kids, the national children's literacy organization, and Fierce Reads, the young adult website of Macmillan Children's Group Publishers.

Kepler's bought GiftLit last year and has converted it into an official Kepler's service that "makes it easy for customers to gift high-quality books from curated collections for readers of all ages and interests." Under the program, gift recipients receive one book per month through a three-, six- or 12-month subscription. Each book is gift-wrapped and accompanied by a personal note from the giver. Book collections are designed for readers of all ages and types--from a Dr. Seuss collection for toddlers to a collection of coffee-table books for "the reader who has everything." During the 2015 holiday season, GiftLit shipped twice as many books as it did during the 2014 holiday season, Kepler's said. GiftLit is on track to repeat that growth in 2016.

Books for Kids, part of the Books for Kids Foundation that promotes literacy among low-income and at-risk preschool-aged children, creates libraries, donates books and has programs to develop critical early literacy skills for young children. With Kepler's, it is creating a One-for-One initiative with four GiftLit collections, selected by Books for Kids. When customers buy a collection, Kepler's donates 10% of the subscription box price and one book for every book purchased to an at-risk child through Books for Kids.

"GiftLit is helping us invest in children who need our help," said Amanda Hirsh, executive director of Books for Kids. "When GiftLit promotes and sells our curated collections, it also increases awareness of our program among a wider audience of readers who can identify with our mission. It's a win-win for all of us."

With Fierce Reads, which promotes new books for young adults, conducts nationwide authors' tours and sponsors special events, Kepler's is offering subscription boxes based on the group's hottest titles.

Kepler's CEO Praveen Madan commented, "These partnerships validate the importance of innovation to the bookstore industry. Kepler's GiftLit service has tapped into an exciting consumer trend of subscription box services. We're watching consumers embrace subscription boxes for the quality products and convenience they offer. Our curated book collections and ability to carry any book currently in print sets Kepler's GiftLit service apart."


Former Nielsen Book Head Nowell Joins Trillium Partners

Jonathan Nowell

Jonathan Nowell, who at the beginning of this year stepped down as CEO and president of Nielsen Book, has joined Trillium Partners. As a senior advisor, he will consult with corporations and "financial sponsors on mergers, acquisitions, disposals, joint ventures and minority investments, as well as accessing the private equity and debt markets to support acquisition and development strategies."

"Having observed and participated actively in the evolution of the publishing industry for over three decades, I can see significant further scope for M&A activity and the potential for new business models to make their mark," Nowell said. "I am thrilled to take on this role at Trillium, which will give me the chance to team up with one of the most experienced and well regarded corporate finance advisory firms in my space."

Nowell has held senior positions at Nielsen for more than 20 years and earlier was a publisher at Reed Information Services and a publishing director of EMAP. While at Nielsen, he led the development of BookScan and acquired Book Data and Bowker's Research and Commerce assets.

Philip Mastriforte, co-founder of Trillium, said that Nowell's "in-depth knowledge of the publishing industry, international network of C-suite contacts and outstanding corporate development track record, will provide additional insights to our clients and will further strengthen Trillium's expertise in one of our core sectors."


David Miller Is New President of Island Press

David Miller

David Miller has been named president of Island Press, a nonprofit publisher focused on environmental issues. He succeeds Charles Savitt, who is stepping down after more than 30 years at the helm of the group he took over in 1984. Miller had been senior v-p and publisher at the company.

"As we enter our next chapter, David's vision, strategy and wealth of knowledge in both traditional and digital publishing combined with the organization's strong ties to thought leaders are exactly what Island Press needs," Savitt said, adding: "I want Island Press to be here for another thirty years, experimenting, taking risks and finding new ways to communicate ideas that can make a difference."


Obituary Note: Peter Owen

Peter Owen

Peter Owen, who founded Peter Owen Publishers in 1951 and published a distinguished list of writers--including Hermann Hesse, Shusaku Endo, Jean Cocteau, Yukio Mishima and Tarjei Vesaas in the English language--died May 31. He was 89. Owen was honored with an OBE in 2014 for services to literature.

In a tribute on the publisher's website, colleague and friend James Nye wrote: "Throughout his career he remained determined to publish high-quality literature, while being unafraid to innovate; his publishing house pioneered books on gay rights, was an early champion of women’s issues and writing, and produced books on politics, social issues, drug culture and ecology many years before specialist publishers in these areas came into existence. Many of the modern classics Peter premiered 50 or more years ago are still in print and selling steadily today....

"Peter’s great skill in backing authors of enduring appeal underlies much of the company’s success. He was a pioneer of quality world literature in translation, counter-cultural writing and specialist non-fiction. Throughout his life he made many enduring friendships--and occasional enmities--with the authors he published, and had a wealth of colorful anecdotes about his encounters with them and many other notable people he met along the way."



Notes

Image of the Day: Our Pristine Mind

Bay Area Tibetan Buddhist meditation master Orgyen Chowang launched his first book, Our Pristine Mind: A Practical Guide to Unconditional Happiness (Shambhala Publications), at a private event at the San Francisco home of Norah and Norman Stone, pictured here with the author. In the book, Chowang introduces a style of meditation relatively unknown in the Western world called Pristine Mind meditation, a practice that "reveals our true mind in its innate perfection, offering an experience so profound that it has the ability to transform every aspect of life." Chowang's first public event is a book talk and signing at Book Passage in Corte Madera, on Saturday, June 11.  


Bookstore Chalkboard of the Day: Avid Bookshop

From the Facebook page of Avid Bookshop, Athens, Ga.:

"Perhaps you've been 'meaning to drop by' for awhile. We hereby invite you to make today the day--we are excited to say hi! Even if you can just dip in for a moment, get a feel for the shop and then come back another day when you have time to browse."


Personnel Changes at Penguin; Ten Speed Press

Allison Dobson has been promoted to the newly created position of senior v-p, director, strategy and finance, Penguin Publishing Group. Previously, she was the Group's v-p, director, business development and strategy.

---

Windy Dorresteyn has joined Ten Speed Press in the newly created role of director of marketing strategy.


Media and Movies

Media Heat: Sarah Hepola on Fresh Air

Today:
NPR's Science Friday: Liz Lee Heinecke, author of Outdoor Science Lab for Kids: 52 Family-Friendly Experiments for the Yard, Garden, Playground, and Park (Quarry Books, $24.99, 9781631591150).

Fresh Air: Sarah Hepola, author of Blackout: Remembering the Things I Drank to Forget (Grand Central, $15.99, 9781455554584).


TV: Purity; The Fundamentals of Caring

Daniel Craig will star in and executive produce Purity, Showtime's limited series based on the novel by Jonathan Franzen. The Hollywood Reporter wrote that the project was "picked up with a 20-episode order after fielding multiple bidders." Todd Field will write, direct and executive produce. Scott Rudin, Eli Bush, Franzen and David Hare are also executive producers. Hare and Franzen also will be writers for the series, while Field is directing all of the episodes. Purity will air over two years on Showtime, with production set to begin in 2017.

---

A trailer is out for The Fundamentals of Caring, director Rob Burnett's adaptation of the novel by Jonathan Evision. Deadline reported that Netflix, "which snapped up the title's SVOD rights for an estimated $7 million, is premiering the drama on June 24." The film stars Paul Rudd, Craig Roberts, Selena Gomez, Jennifer Ehle, Megan Ferguson and Frederick Weller.


Books & Authors

Awards: Boston Globe-Horn Book Winners

Winners were announced for this year's Boston Globe-Horn Book Awards, which recognize titles that are published in the U.S. but may be written or illustrated by citizens of any country. The awards will be presented September 30 during a ceremony at Simmons College. The 2016 winning and honored books are:

Nonfiction
Winner: Most Dangerous: Daniel Ellsberg and the Secret History of the Vietnam War by Steve Sheinkin (Roaring Brook Press/Macmillan)
Honor books: Symphony for the City of the Dead: Dmitri Shostakovich and the Siege of Leningrad by M. T. Anderson (Candlewick); and Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer, Spirit of the Civil Rights Movement by Carole Boston Weatherford, illustrated by Ekua Holmes (Candlewick)

Fiction
Winner: The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge (Amulet Books/Abrams)
Honor books: The Hired Girl by Laura Amy Schlitz (Candlewick); and Goodbye Stranger by Rebecca Stead (Wendy Lamb Books/PRH)

Picture books
Winner: Jazz Day: The Making of a Famous Photograph by Roxane Orgill, illustrated by Francis Vallejo (Candlewick)
Honor books: Thunder Boy Jr. by Sherman Alexie, illustrated by Yuyi Morales (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers); One Day, the End: Short, Very Short, ShorterthanEver Stories by Rebecca Kai Dotlich, illustrated by Fred Koehler (Boyds Mills Press)


Book Brahmin: Paula Whyman

photo: Curt Richter

Paula Whyman's debut linked story collection, You May See a Stranger, is published by TriQuarterly Books/Northwestern University Press (May 15, 2016). Her stories have appeared in journals including McSweeney's QuarterlyVirginia Quarterly ReviewPloughshares and The Hudson Review. Whyman is a member of the MacDowell Colony Fellows Executive Committee. A music theater piece, "Transfigured Night," based on a story in her debut collection, is in development with composer Scott Wheeler.

On your nightstand now:

I read many books at once. Right now I'm alternating among these:

The Good Soldier by Ford Madox Ford (rereading); Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates; The State We're In by Ann Beattie; Half an Inch of Water by Percival Everett; and The Visiting Privilege by Joy Williams

On the soon-to-be-read pile: Some Hope, the third book in the Patrick Melrose series by Edward St. Aubyn, and Random Family by Adrian Nicole LeBlanc.

Favorite book when you were a child:

Miss Twiggley's Tree by Dorothea Warren Fox, about a painfully shy woman who lives in a tree with two bears and a dog. She's so shy, she sends the dog into town to do the grocery shopping. After a flood occurs, she must save the townspeople by inviting them to stay temporarily in her tree. She's forced to get past her discomfort. For a socially anxious child, this was an inspiring example. The illustrations are fabulously witty. I've never met anyone among my contemporaries who remembers reading this book. I daydream that somewhere there's a small, secret fan club that meets, appropriately, in a tree house, where you can play chess with bears. "They shed on the sofa, she said, but who cares?"

Your top five authors:

Impossible to choose only five, but I'll try: Philip Roth, Lorrie Moore, Virginia Woolf, George Eliot, Gabriel García Márquez.

Book you've faked reading:

I wrote a paper on Moby-Dick in high school after reading only the first 80 pages. I got a C. I have since read the entire book. I swear. I appreciated it a lot more in graduate school, when I was surprised to discover that there are funny parts. As for a book I've pretended to have read as an adult? I used to nod my head as if I knew what happened halfway through Infinite Jest. I've read the first 50 pages. I readily admit my ignorance and await the flurry of appalled protests. I do, however, love David Foster Wallace's essays and short stories.

Book you're an evangelist for:

In nonfiction, Song of the Dodo by David Quammen, about island biogeography and its applicability to the discussion of extinctions everywhere. It turns out that you don't have to be on an island per se to be living on an island, if you happen to be a species whose habitat has been artificially restricted, say, by the activities of man. It was published in 1996. I don't believe its message is dated.

In fiction, I encourage everyone to read Moon Tiger by Penelope Lively. It won the Booker in 1987, but I know relatively few people who've read it. It is narrated by an elderly popular historian who is trying to explain her own colorful life history. The book's structure is more weblike than chronological, which appeals to me. As the narrator says, "Chronology irritates me. There is no chronology inside my head."

Book you've bought for the cover:

I hope someone buys my book for the cover. I can't recall ever doing that. On the other hand, it's possible I've decided not to pick up a book because of the cover. I don't like shiny things.

Book you hid from your parents:

The one I wrote. Jig is up now, though.

I never had to hide a book from my parents. They were always thrilled that I was reading and slightly oblivious as to the content. I'm pretty sure they thought Flowers in the Attic was about gardening.

Book that changed your life:

I think I read something that changes my life every few years, but perhaps the first one was the series The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis. I wanted so much for it to be true that anytime I saw a wardrobe, I'd climb inside it and feel around the back, but I'd only get tangled up in coats. In fact, this happened just last week at a party; a little embarrassing. Books, I realized, could convince you of the existence of an alternate reality. How cool is that?

Favorite line from a book:

"Too many conflicting emotional interests are involved for life ever to be wholly acceptable, and possibly it is the work of the storyteller to rearrange things so that they conform to this end. In any case, in talking about the past we lie with every breath we draw." --William Maxwell, So Long, See You Tomorrow

Five books you'll never part with:

My heavily annotated grad school copy of The Waves by Virginia Woolf.

A Saturday Night Live script book from 1977.

Signed, personalized copies of Grace Paley's Collected Stories and James Salter's Dusk and Other Stories.

And Miss Twiggley, obviously.

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

To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf. It might have been the first novel of hers that I read. (I'd read some of her famous essays before I read her fiction.) It was a revelation to me--the structure, the voice, the language. And the interlude--"Time Passes," the telegraphing of the future. I didn't know you could mark time that way in a novel.

What you would do if you did not write fiction:

I would be a conservation biologist. In other words, another frustrating profession with a high rate of failure and a low rate of financial reward, in which one must take comfort in the small successes; however, even those small successes seem to have the potential for a greater impact than, say, giving people something to read while they fall asleep at night. But perhaps conservation biology, being a job that I imagine leads to sleepless nights, could benefit from the relief offered by fiction, too.


Book Review

Review: I Am No One

I Am No One by Patrick Flanery (Tim Duggan Books, $27 hardcover, 9781101905852, July 5, 2016)

Hardly the first novel to tackle the paranoia of a regular guy caught in the snares of an omnipresent, prying state, Patrick Flanery's I Am No One is the most up-to-date. Like it or not, the world of I Am No One is the one we have today--Edward Snowden and Julian Assange, the Panama Papers, ubiquitous drone and CCTV surveillance, cyber-warfare and court injunctions to unlock private mobile phones. Jeremy O'Keefe is a white, upper middle-class everyman: a divorced New York University history professor in his 50s with a daughter, Meredith, who owns a successful Chelsea gallery and is married to a wealthy media executive. After failing to get tenure at Columbia, and just days after 9/11, Jeremy left to spend 10 years teaching at Oxford and acquired dual British/U.S. citizenship. Now returned to New York to be near Meredith and closer to his mother in Rhinebeck, he has a university apartment and lives a quiet life of take-out, teaching and old movies.

But Jeremy soon becomes increasingly paranoid when a series of unmarked boxes are left with his doorman. They contain detailed transcripts of a decade of his e-mail, web searches, phone calls, bank records, credit card statements and tax returns, and surveillance-like photos of his travels and gatherings with family, Oxford students and colleagues, and lovers. He is convinced that he is being tracked, that a stranger is following him, that the law is after him. When he finally reveals his fears to his daughter, he pleads: "But I'm no one." She replies: "We are all no one until we do something to turn ourselves into someone... you can blink and end up in jail." 

Flanery is an American writer living in London; his first novel, Absolution, was shortlisted for numerous U.K. awards. Similarly, I Am No One is narrated by a protagonist with a hidden past and a present bent by ruminative self-analysis. As Jeremy searches memories of his Oxford years, he gradually reveals a relationship with a Franco-Egyptian student who may or may not have been involved in her family's ties to Egyptian atrocities and terrorism. Did this put him on somebody's watch list? Or was it something he e-mailed in an unguarded moment? He naively didn't see this world where our governments "are watching us on our own behalf," and we happily "look at satellite images of our neighbors' own backyards and roof terraces." Through Jeremy's blend of the real with the paranoid, I Am No One leads us into the labyrinth of surveillance we have come to accept. An ordinary man with no particular national, institutional or personal axes to grind, Jeremy tells his story with the frank innocence of someone who just wants "to be left alone, to be forgotten, to be a nonentity." Flanery's finely crafted novel suggests that this kind of privacy is from a time now gone. It's hard to be "no one" today. --Bruce Jacobs, founding partner, Watermark Books & Cafe, Wichita, Kan.

Shelf Talker: Flanery's impressive novel of paranoia and surveillance is a neo-thriller falling somewhere between Kafka's The Trial and Auster's New York Trilogy.

Deeper Understanding

Robert Gray: The Hay Festival Is a 'Woodstock of the Mind'

Former U.S. president Bill Clinton famously described the Hay Festival as "the Woodstock of the mind." Held this year from May 26 through June 5 in the legendary Welsh "town of books" Hay-on-Wye, the annual festival was founded "around a kitchen table in 1987 and continues to attract the most exciting writers, filmmakers, comedians, politicians and musicians to inspire, delight and entertain," as the organizers put it. A staggering 700 events take place over 11 days.

I've never been, though I'd love to go someday. Each year, I mollify my Hay Festival longings a bit by reading about all the great stuff I'm missing. It is beyond reassuring, however, to see how many British media outlets create dedicated coverage sections, and the organizers do an excellent job of chronicling their festival through social media (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram).

photo: Sam Hardwick

What's happening at Hay this year? Lots. Here are just a few highlights thus far:

Shop local Hay: "The book industry and festival industry are all about ideas ultimately, right. Many of the small businesses in town really buy into that. If there's a conventional way of doing things or a more exciting way, they will typically opt for the second," Andrew Williams, chair of the Hay Chamber of Commerce, told the Guardian.

Running with the Hay: "And we're off! Favorite day of the year. Primary School kids from 84 schools across Wales and 20 from the West Midlands making Hay with joy and delight. THIS is the best way to start a festival--RUNNING to the RSC."

Bookshop archeology: "When you walk into a bookshop, have you ever wondered what the titles, authors and collections that you see say about us?" asked archeologist Keith Ray. "I recently ventured into my local bookshop in Hereford and found 27 books on the Roman Empire, seven on the Vikings, and to my surprise, zero on early Wales. The reason, I think, is that a lot of what we understand about the origins of our society is taken for granted. I think we are good at forgetting our history as much as we are remembering it."

Talking About Shakespeare: To commemorate the 400th anniversary of the Bard's death, Hay is featuring Talking About Shakespeare, a series of short films in which "the world's leading actors and academics, playwrights and directors, poets and novelists give insight into Shakespeare's contemporary resonance and his understanding of our human hearts."

Marlon James & Irvine Welsh: " 'The one thing we're not going to be talking about is your past in crime,' announced Marlon James, Man Booker 2015 prizewinner. He was speaking to Irvine Welsh, author of The Blade Artist, the latest excursion into the lives of the infamous Trainspotting boys.' '...Or my future,' Welsh replied. 'I stopped shoplifting when I realized I can't do it in my forties.' 'We're being terrible examples right now,' said James."

Cumberbatch at Hay: "Everyone needs some solitude, I like to be able to read for a good chunk of time, really lose myself in the book," said Benedict Cumberbatch, who was also spotted by the Daily Mirror cutting "an altogether different figure as he blended into the crowds at the Hay Festival on Saturday."

Which character are you? "Mid-week at Hay Festival! We ask which literary character are you?"

Hay party!!: "All the photos from the seventh annual GQ Hay Festival dinner in association with Land Rover."

Quixotic moment: "Cervantes' Don Quixote 'makes us ask questions about what reading really is and how someone perceives the world,' said Ben Okri in conversation with Yuri Herrera and Marcos Giralt Torrente."

Have a cuppa? Val and David Morgans "host an open garden at their home in Hay-on-Wye during the Hay Festival, which draws around a quarter of a million people to the town, to raise funds for the Parkinson's U.K. charity."

Unofficial U.S. presidential poll: "Only five or six people in the Hay audience thought Trump would win."

Travel & storytelling... & chocolate: "The more I travel, the more people I meet, the more stories I collect," Joanna Harris, whose books include the international bestseller Chocolat, said. "This funny little book about chocolate, catapulted me into a world of places with stories to tell.... Stories are all about overcoming struggles, defeating external and internal obstacles."

Hay Festival Bookshop

Hay Festival bookseller: "The Festival Bookshop is at the heart of everything Hay Festival represents; a place where visitors from all over the country come with a shared passion for literature and a love of the written narrative. Expanding this year by 20% in size, the Festival Bookshop has previously reached full capacity, brimming with people and queues stretching into the Festival village green."

Magic places: Anne Brichto, who co-owns three bookshops in Hay and coordinates publication of the town's bookshop map, told the Guardian: "It's like Oxford Street: you need more than one clothes shop to attract crowds. Hay only works because there's so many of us.... We're finding that young people really connect with images of real books and old books in particular, especially leather bindings, the classic Penguin and decorative cloth. It's totally different from buying online. 'Make the place magic and the books choose you,' is what I say."

Or, as the wise Liz Lemon said more than once (if not specifically about the Hay Festival), "I want to go to there." --Robert Gray, contributing editor (Column archives available at Fresh Eyes Now)


Powered by: Xtenit