Shelf Awareness for Friday, July 29, 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

Editors' Note

Harry Potter and the Midnight Release Parties

Best of luck to the many booksellers who are hosting midnight release parties tomorrow for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Parts I and II! We'll have extensive coverage, starting in Monday's issue, so if you're not too exhausted, on Sunday please send a note and pictures to news@shelf-awareness.com about how your party went and we'll try to include it in our reporting.


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


News

Second Quarter: Cloud Shines on Amazon

In the quarter ended June 3, net sales at Amazon rose 31.1%, to $30.4 billion, and net income jumped 831.6%, to $857 million, or $1.78 a share. This was the third consecutive quarter in which Amazon, which long has earned little money, has shown a record profit, and its fifth quarter in a row with a profit. The results were above analysts' estimates of net sales of $29.55 billion and earnings per share of $1.11, according to Thomson Reuters. As a result, the company's stratospheric stock price rose another 1.5%, to $764 a share, in after-market trading last night and this morning.

"They're starting to really prove out their profitability," Mark Mahaney, an RBC Capital Markets analyst told the New York Times.

Much of the higher profit is attributable to Amazon Web Services, the company's cloud services, whose operating income rose to $718 million on sales of $2.9 billion. By comparison, North American retail operations had similar operating income of $702 million, but on much larger sales of $17.7 billion. (International's sales grew 30.1%, to $9.8 billion, but had a net loss of $135 million.)

Still, retail sales in North America continued to grow, up 28.1% in North America, attributable in part to the popularity of Amazon Prime and ever-increasing consumer shopping online. As the Wall Street Journal observed, "In retailing, Amazon's power is spilling over the confines of the online world. The company overtook Wal-Mart Stores Inc. by market value a year ago and is pushing into brick-and-mortar outlets with a bookstore in its hometown of Seattle and several others planned across the U.S. The retailer is a major focal point for brands and manufacturers betting that consumers are willing to buy more staples online."

Amazon predicted that in the third quarter, net sales will be between $31 billion and $33.5 billion, up 22%-32% compared with the same period in 2015.


Trinity University Press: Arte Kids - Bilingual Board Books


Ian Doherty Is NAIBA's Helmuth Sales Rep of the Year

Congratulations to Ian Doherty, who was voted by members of the New Atlantic Independent Booksellers Associations as the 2016 William Helmuth Sales Rep of the Year. He will be honored at the NAIBA Fall Conference Awards Banquet on Sunday, October 16, in Baltimore, Md.

NAIBA wrote: "Ian comes from a book background. He attributes his love of books to his father, Terence Doherty, a long time rep for Simon & Schuster. Ian started his own book career and education at Koen Book Distributors in New Jersey, which was an important wholesaler to the mid-Atlantic stores. 'I then started as a sales representative with Ballantine Books for 10 wonderful years,' Ian recalled. 'They moved me to Atlanta, Ga., to service the independent stores of five southern states in 1985. I worked there for one year when the sales position for the Mid-Atlantic region opened up and was given the chance to move back to the area I know best. I moved to William Morrow for four years before my current position at HarperCollins. I just celebrated my 20th year here.' "

Among his fans: Toby Cox, owner of Three Lives & Co., New York, N.Y., wrote: "Ian is a terrific sales rep--fun, passionate, fully engaged--and one I depend on and appreciate for all his help and expertise. We are both big English football fans, he roots for Chelsea and I root for Man U... always a lot of good natured teasing between us during his sales calls."

Susan Kehoe, general manager at Browseabout Shops in Rehoboth Beach, Del.: "The best thing about Ian Doherty is not his obvious passion for his publisher, nor his endless enthusiasm about his books and authors. It's his absolute dedication to independent bookstores that sets him above and beyond his peers. That, and the donuts..."
 
Rebecca Fitting, co-owner of Greenlight Bookstore, in Brooklyn, N.Y.: "I've always believed that the rep's job is a balancing act of representing the publisher's interests, while also advocating for accounts, and Ian navigates this role so well. We are lucky we have him in our corner and HarperCollins is lucky they have him in theirs."


Thomas Nelson: Perennials by Julie Cantrell


Art & Gift Shop in Hilton Head Expands Book Offerings

By Hand, Ink, a calligraphy art and gift store in Hilton Head, S.C., "expanded its book offerings from just three shelves to much more when the store moved to a larger space within its current shopping center location," Bookselling This Week reported. In November 2015, owner Bobbi Hahn opened her shop in a 192-square-foot retail space on the ground floor of the Sea Pines Shopping Center with an inventory that included just "a couple hundred books spread over three shelves."

This May, By Hand, Ink relocated to a new 502-square-foot space next door that has a better layout and more room for books. "It's really nice because the space has got a nice flow to it and there's one long wall, which I tell people was screaming for bookshelves," Hahn said.

The shop now features "five full-sized bookshelves and two half-sized bookshelves, and Hahn said she would like to bring in even more books to further transform the shop," BTW wrote, adding that "her goal is to make her store a destination for people seeking good reads, whether it's fiction, nonfiction, books by Southern writers, books about South Carolina or Civil War history, or books about the area.... Her book collection also focuses on new releases, mostly by female authors, as well as books written by local authors."


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


WNBA Names New Executive Officers

The Women's National Book Association has announced its new executive officers for 2016-2018, noting that this committee "will be leading the organization into the future as we celebrate our 100th year in October of 2017. The new executive officers are Jane Kinney Dennin (president), Rachelle Yousuf (co-vice president), Sarah "Bebe" Brechner (co-vice president), Michelle Putnik (recording secretary) and Nicole Pilo (treasurer).

Valerie Tomaselli, former WNBA national and NYC president, moves from the executive committee to continue as the centennial planning committee chair. Carin Siegfried, immediate past president, will move to chair the fundraising efforts for the Centennial.


Obituary Note: Steve Smith

Steve Smith

Steve Smith, former president and CEO of John Wiley, died July 10, the Bookseller reported. He was 61. Smith joined Wiley in 1992 as v-p for Wiley Asia, and was made president and CEO in 2011. Before joining Wiley, he was president of Simon & Schuster's U.K. academic and professional group. Smith took early retirement in June of last year to focus on his health.

"Steve fought bravely against cancer, never allowing the disease to dampen his natural spirit, energy and vitality," said Wiley president and CEO Mark Allin. "Steve was diagnosed at the very beginning of his tenure as CEO but worked with passion and commitment to make Wiley stronger for the future. He was a mentor to many of us, a leader for all of us and an inspiration to each of us."


Notes

Image of the Day: Rushdie at Rain Taxi

Salman Rushdie appeared as part of the Rain Taxi Reading Series this week to celebrate the publication of his novel Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights in paperback (Random House); the sold-out event was held at Macalester College in St. Paul.  

Pictured here enjoying a moment before the performance are Rain Taxi executive director Eric Lorberer, Rushdie and his fellow Booker Prize winner Marlon James. Photo: Pamela Klinger-Horn


On Tour: RH Children's Books' The Story Stop

Random House Children's Books has launched The Story Stop, a bookstore on wheels designed to promote reading initiatives throughout the year and offer consumers a chance to meet their favorite authors, illustrators and characters at a variety of venues and family-focused events. At each stop, the publisher will partner with a local retailer to sell books. This weekend at the Ohio State Fair in Columbus, the Story Stop is kicking off its first official tour in celebration of the Chapter Book Champions Challenge. Then it hits the road in late July and August to engage young readers and parents across the country.

"The Story Stop offers an innovative way to connect directly with our young readers and their parents at both traditional retail venues and more family-focused events from stops at state fairs in Ohio and New York to the Brooklyn Cyclones stadium," said Kerri Benvenuto, v-p, marketing, licensed & proprietary brands. "We look forward to taking the bus on the road for this inaugural tour and growing the program in the future to feature and promote more of our varied publishing for young readers to young adults."

The Story Stop will offer additional tours throughout the fall and into 2017, including Dr. Seuss's Grinch-mas and the Grow Your Heart 3 Sizes tour, a traveling art exhibit in honor of 75 years of Little Golden Books, and a celebration of the 25th anniversary of Magic Tree House.


S&S to Distribute Ryland, Peters & Small

Effective August 1, Simon & Schuster will handle distribution in North America of new and backlist publishing for Ryland, Peters & Small, including its CICO Books line. Effective January 1, S&S will handle the company's trade sales in the U.S.

Founded in 1995, Ryland, Peters & Small, with headquarters in London, publishes lifestyle books in categories that include interior design, gardening, gastronomy, arts & crafts, children's crafts and activities, mind, body & spirit, as well as specialty gift items.

Ryland, Peters & Small president David Peters commented: "We are a boutique lifestyle publisher whose aim it is to inspire and delight everyone who picks up one of our beautifully designed and illustrated books. Working with Simon & Schuster, we look forward to sharing our message and strengthening our sales and distribution channels in the North American market."

Steve Black, v-p, client services, Simon & Schuster, said, "Ryland, Peters & Small is well-known for recruiting some of the very best talent for their premier and aesthetically pleasing books. They have an unparalleled knack for serving niche markets--with outstanding sales as a testament to their expertise."



Media and Movies

Movies: Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children

A new behind-the-scenes featurette has been released for Tim Burton's film adaptation of Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs, Entertainment Weekly reported, noting that in the short "actors and producers talk about the themes of the movie, while footage showcases the characters' 'pecularities'--breathing underwater, flying, invisibility. Think of it like X-Men by way of Edward Scissorhands."

"I like Ransom's book, I like the fact that he made a story out of these old photographs," Burton says in the featurette. "It just felt very compelling and mysterious... There's something that's quite poetic and beautiful about this whole world." The film hits theaters September 30.


Books & Authors

Awards: Polari First Book; Ned Kelly

Finalists have been unveiled for the Polari First Book Prize, awarded annually to a writer whose first book explores the LGBT experience, whether in poetry, prose, fiction or nonfiction, the Bookseller reported. The winner will be announced October 7 in London. This year's Polari shortlisted titles are:

Physical by Andrew McMillan
Blood Relatives by Stevan Alcock
Sugar and Snails by Anne Goodwin
Trans by Juliet Jacques
Different for Girls by Jacquie Lawrence
The Good Son by Paul McVeigh

---

The Australian Crime Writers Association has announced the 2016 shortlists in three categories (fiction, first fiction and true crime) for the Ned Kelly Awards, which are chosen by judging panels made up of booksellers, book industry luminaries, readers, critics, reviewers and commentators. The winners will be unveiled August 28 in Melbourne. You can view the complete Ned Kelly shortlists here.


Reading with... Joanna Cannon

photo: Philippa Gedge

Joanna Cannon is a psychiatrist with a degree from Leicester Medical School. She lives in England's Peak District with her family and her dog. The Trouble with Goats and Sheep (Scribner, July 12, 2016) is her first novel.

On your nightstand now:

I have a new book to read tonight, so I haven't yet started it, but on my bedside table is a proof of The Museum of You by Carys Bray. I absolutely loved Carys's first book, A Song for Issy Bradley, and I'm really looking forward to this one. One of the (many) amazing things about being an author is that you're sent so many advance copies of wonderful novels!

Favorite book when you were a child:

I had many favourite books as a child, but the one I took out of the library every week, without fail was Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. As an only child, I loved reading about siblings and sisters, and Little Women will always hold a special place in my heart.

Your top five authors:

Goodness me, this is a tough one! I tend to love books, rather than particular authors, but five of my most-read writers would have to be Ruth Rendell, Stephen King, Alan Bennett, Alice Hoffman and Oliver Sacks. At first glance, it's quite a mixed bag, but they all write about seemingly ordinary people who turn out to be not quite as ordinary as we might imagine.

Book you've faked reading:

I've not done that in a long time, but for many years, I pretended I'd read Pride and Prejudice. I just couldn't face the shocked reaction it seemed to produce when I admitted to it. Now I shout it from the rooftops. I have tried and given up four times. I think I've earned the right to be honest!

Book you're an evangelist for:

If I love a book, I like to tell the whole world, but one of my more regular evangelisms involves Things We Have in Common by Tasha Kavanagh. It has the most perfect unreliable narrator, and one of the best last lines in a book I have ever read.

Book you've bought for the cover:

I don't think I've ever done this. I'm definitely more of a word person than a visual person. I really don't mind what a cover looks like, and I know pretty much from the first paragraph whether I'm going to buy the book or not!

Book you hid from your parents:

Again, I don't remember doing this. My parents were completely non-judgemental, and they were happy as long as I was reading something I enjoyed.

Book that changed your life:

I think Talking Heads by Alan Bennett was the one piece of writing that truly changed my life. Up to that point, I had no idea about the power of words and their ability to change someone's perspective. I was only 10 or 11 at the time, and his writing completely blew me away. I knew then that if I could harness even a small amount of the power he has, I would be very happy with myself.

Favorite line from a book:

There are so many, I couldn't possibly choose, but I recently read a wonderful line from Harriet Lane's Alys, Always: "my mother, glazed with fear and hairspray."

From just five words, I know exactly who that woman is. Perfect storytelling.

Five books you'll never part with:

There's only one book I wouldn't part with, and that's a copy of A Christmas Carol, which my grandfather gave to me when I was six. I love all the books I own very dearly, but I hold on to the words in my mind, rather than wanting to hold on to any tangible form of them. My grandfather's book, though, has huge sentimental value for me.

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

This would have to be Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K. Jerome. I remember the first time I read it, I had to continually put the book down because I was laughing so much. To think it was written at the end of the 1800s is quite extraordinary!


Book Review

Review: A Gentleman in Moscow

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles (Viking, $27 hardcover, 480p., 9780670026197, September 6, 2016)

Amor Towles's first novel, Rules of Civility, won readers' hearts with its strong sense of time and place, fully realized characters and richly evocative voice. A Gentleman in Moscow repeats the feat with those qualities and more.

In 1922, Count Alexander Ilyich Rostov ("recipient of the Order of Saint Andrew, member of the Jockey Club, Master of the Hunt") appears before a Bolshevik tribunal, accused of "succumbing irrevocably to the corruptions of his class." He responds with quips, and is sentenced to house arrest in the luxury hotel where he has lived for the last four years. "Make no mistake: should you ever set foot outside of the Metropol again, you will be shot."

This stylish and cultured protagonist has already lost his family and their estate. Now two armed guards move him from his suite into a monastic room of one hundred square feet. The bulk of his fine furniture, which will not fit in his new lodgings, becomes the property of the People. Remarkably good-natured, Rostov makes the best of his circumstances. He has all he needs in the Metropol: two restaurants, a barber, a seamstress and impeccably mannered staff who know him well. His worst enemy, perhaps, will be boredom--or a waiter who is particularly committed to the revolutionary cause. To brighten Rostov's days, a fellow resident, "the young girl with the penchant for yellow," befriends him. And then the hotel opens for him into a world as broad and rewarding as the one he wishes for his new friend--but ultimately as limiting as well.

The charming, complex Rostov is joined by colorful hotel employees (especially a talented chef and maître d') and visitors, including a lovely actress, a dear friend from his youth and an assortment of Western journalists and businessmen. It is the charm of this expansive, lushly detailed novel that such a rich cast and such diverting and occasionally devastating events can populate the closed space of the Metropol, over a span of 32 years. A Gentleman in Moscow is filled with literary and cultural references--Chekhov, Tolstoy, Tchaikovsky, Humphrey Bogart--and with tastes, smells, humor, love and loyalty. Towles indulges in sentimentality to just the right degree. Readers who enjoy a generous, absorbing story, vibrant characters and immersive time and place will fall in love with this saucy novel. And by the time A Gentleman in Moscow closes in 1954, those readers will be sorry to lose the new friend they've found in Rostov. --Julia Jenkins, librarian and blogger at pagesofjulia

Shelf Talker: This grand, sweeping story takes place entirely inside the walls of a luxury hotel in 1920s-1950s Moscow, in lushly evocative writing from the author of Rules of Civility.


Deeper Understanding

Robert Gray: 'The Idea that Somebody Is Telling Me a Story'

I've been worried about audiobooks for many years, though I'm starting to worry less, thanks to the option of purchasing digital versions through my local independent bookstore and Libro.fm. Many booksellers nationwide are on board with the service, including Blue Willow Bookshop in Houston, San Francisco's Green Apple Books, Boston's Papercuts J.P and Village Books in Bellingham, Wash. It may not be a game-changing sales tool, but it's still an opportunity to show customers you're a full-service bookshop.

And that makes me happy. At the retail level, I've observed firsthand the curious evolutionary path of audiobooks, from those bulky boxes of expensive unabridged cassettes in the mid-1990s to more affordable cassettes, then CDs and digital, followed by the inevitable gobbling up of the market by Amazon's purchase of Audible.com in 2008.

Maybe I started worrying most then, though audiobooks themselves have been doing just fine. This week's AAP February sales report showed sales of $21.5 million (a 44.4% increase over 2015) for downloaded audio, compared to 2.1 million (a 36.3% decrease) for physical audiobooks. Earlier this year, the Audio Publishers Association's annual sales survey results estimated that audiobook sales in 2015 totaled more than $1.77 billion, up 20.7% over 2014. Unit sales were also up 24.1%.

As I mentioned earlier, my worries have diminished a bit with the Libro.fm option. I've always loved the sound of books. When people read aloud, I instinctively close my eyes and listen (unless I'm driving). Close listening is akin to close reading for me. One human being shares a story with another. The allure might have something to do with childhood memories of my mother reading the Oz books to us. Perhaps it is a far more ancient rite, since we were telling each other stories thousands of years before Gutenberg.

Now I can go back to worrying about the classic dilemma all audiobook listeners face: Who is reading to me? I'm very particular about the person whispering in my ear. A brilliant reader can sometimes redeem a mediocre book, but the wrong reader always breaks the spell of a good book.

Michael Kortya, Maggie Stiefvater, Terry McMillan & John Scalzi at the APA Author Tea during BookExpo America

At Book Expo America in Chicago this year, there was a great discussion about the voices behind the books during the APA Author Tea featuring Michael Kortya, Maggie Stiefvater, Terry McMillan and John Scalzi.

"You won't have to listen to my voice very long to understand just how deep my appreciation for a good audiobook reader is," Kortya said, praising the work of Robert Petkoff. "When I go on tour for readings, I have an idea of how a book sounds in my head.... I'll listen to Robert and just steal the way he approaches it as his sense of rhythm is just spectacular, and I can say in all honesty he has propped up some really wooden sentences for me.... If there's one thing that's not talked about enough, it's the idea of voice and rhythm and pacing. We read with our eyes, yes, but it's an auditory experience. And I would venture to guess that the actual sound on the page is immensely important."

"I love listening to other people's audiobooks," said McMillan. "I have a lot of respect for audiobooks because it's a very intimate experience that you have as a listener with the characters in a book.... There's a warmth that happens. It's almost as if that person is talking to you directly. You get to see it, feel it and hear it all at the same time. When you read a book, you have to imagine it and both are powerful.... Over the years, I have really come to appreciate the beauty of sound. "

Stiefvater praised actor Will Paton, who agreed to work on her audiobook because he loved The Raven Boys. "And so I like to think that when you listen to the Raven Cycle, you hear Will Patton having a great time reading it," she said. "And that's what really makes a good audiobook is when the reader is fully engaged."

Scalzi noted that "as the writer, you have to get used to the idea that your baby, the book that you created, that you hear inside your head--you hear the rhythms, you hear where you put the stops, and where you put the emphasis, and where you put the meaning--is read by somebody else.... When they read your book, it becomes a singular experience inside their own head, so with the narrator, particularly a good narrator, they take a book that you thought you knew better than anyone else because you wrote it and then they find things in it that you didn't know were there."

But Terri McMillan said it best: "I love the idea that somebody is telling me a story." --Robert Gray, contributing editor (column archives available at Fresh Eyes Now)


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