Shelf Awareness for Monday, December 18, 2006


Harper: Only Killers and Thieves by Paul Howarth

Mira Books: Rosie Colored Glasses by Brianna Wolfson

Little Brown and Company: The Which Way Tree by Elizabeth Crook

Bloomsbury: Reign the Earth by A.C. Gaughen

Soho Crime: The Widows of Malabar Hill by Sujata Massey

Shadow Mountain: Christmas Jars Collector's Edition by Jason F. Wright

News

Notes: General Retail Sales So Far; Regan Redux

After a particularly frenzied Black Friday weekend, general retail sales have dropped "deeper than in previous years, with sales growth only about half the rate of last year," according to Spending Plus, a part of MasterCard, as quoted in today's Wall Street Journal. Still, there is plenty of time for procrastinators to make their move, several observers said. A Spending Plus executive predicted that overall holiday sales will be up 4%-6%, and ShopperTrak co-founder Bill Martin told the paper, "The season so far is fine. There's no need for panic at this point."

Online sales have been an unambiguous bright spot this holiday season. From November 1 through last Friday, total online sales rose 25% to $19.48 billion from the same period last year, according to comScore Networks. Moreover, the rate of growth rose during the period. (In past years, online sales tailed off in December because of time needed to ship products. Now online retailers are combating that phenomenon by offering free shipping and letting customers pick up purchases in stores.)

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Wow. No "pursuit of new opportunities" or "now is the right time for new challenges" . . . This was the full text of a release that was sent out Friday evening:

"Jane Friedman, President and CEO of HarperCollins Worldwide, today announced that Judith Regan’s employment with HarperCollins has been terminated effective immediately.

"The REGAN publishing program and staff will continue as part of the HarperCollins General Books Group."

On Saturday, the publisher added that the Regan Books imprint will continue operations "under the able leadership of Editorial Director, Cal Morgan, reporting to Michael Morrison, President and Group Publisher Harper/Morrow." Any changes in the name of the imprint and publication of unpublished books "will be addressed at the appropriate time."

Among the possible explanations for the firing, beyond the obvious O.J. fiasco, were comments Regan made Thursday about "backstabbers at HarperCollins" during an as-yet-unaired segment of her Sirius Radio show recounted by guest Ron Hogan of Media Bistro's Galley Cat. (The show should be broadcast this coming Wednesday.)

Then on Friday, in a conversation with a HarperCollins lawyer, Regan apparently made "comments that were deemed anti-Semitic," the New York Times reported. The slurs, the Times continued, were considered "the final straw after other episodes of what were deemed improper behavior."

Regan is apparently not taking that deeming lying down. According to the Wall Street Journal, she has hired "well-known Hollywood litigator Bert Fields," who told the paper. "They've chosen war and they will get exactly that."

For amusing comment on the prospect of Judith Regan publishing unleashed, read James Pinkerton on the Huffington Post.

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ISBN-10 is also being terminated, effective January 1, when the International Standard Book Number becomes a 13-digit number. For more information about the change, go to the Book Industry Study Group's Web site.

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On her blog, SIBA executive director Wanda Jewell recounts her Excellent Book Giving Back Adventure tour (Shelf Awareness, December 11, 2006), and lists the titles she bought for customers in the 10 stores she visited.



Sourcebooks Jabberwocky: The Very Very Very Long Dog by Julia Patton


Holiday Hum: Mysteries and More at Title Wave Books

At Title Wave Books in Anchorage, Alaska, it's not unusual to be standing in the checkout line next to local mystery scribes Sue Henry and Dana Stabenow--or perhaps the state's governor. "We're such a neighborhood community store even though we're really large," said co-owner Julie Drake of the 33,000 square foot location. "It's got a real hometown feel. But Alaska is kind of like one big small town anyway."

Drake stated that "sales are strong, but we can't pin it on any one specific thing. We don't seem to have a big national title selling this year." Rather it's regional books that are the frontrunners this holiday season, led by the success of the Double Musky Inn Cookbook: Alaska's Mountain Cajun Cuisine.

"It's our only five-star restaurant in the state," said Drake of the Double Musky Inn, and the cookbook is the first from restaurateurs Bob and Deanna Persons. Alaska Northwest Books was caught short and ran out of stock when the culinary tome was published in July. "When they reprinted, we bought every copy they had," Drake said. "It has been huge." The book is displayed in the store's Alaska section, and the store "pre-wrapped" copies in Christmas paper. "People love it because it's an instant gift," Drake commented.

Title Wave's array of local author appearances this month is aiding holiday sales; three events take place this week. Tomorrow night's theme is "Murderer's Row" and features Tom Brennan, author of Cold Crime: How Police Detectives Solved Alaska's Most Shocking Cases; Stan Jones, author of Shaman Pass: A Nathan Active Mystery; and Mike Doogan, a former Anchorage Daily News columnist and newly elected to the state House of Representatives, who has penned the mystery Lost Angel. (Title Wave is a sponsor of Bouchercon 2007, which will be held in Anchorage.) Also signing this week at Title Wave is poet Anne Coray, author of Bone Strings and Soon the Wind, and Cindy Dyson, author of the debut novel And She Was.

Gift cards are popular. The store offers Book Sense cards, but they're outsold by ones specific to the store. "We have them pre-loaded and ready to go so customers don't have to think of amounts," said Drake. "That way we don't have to actually process them at the registers."

A table display at the front of the store is boosting sales of staff picks, and employees have an added incentive to handsell their selections. Whoever sells the most of his or her pick receives two gift cards: one for use at Title Wave and another for the café located in the store, which is operated by Alaska coffee company Kaladi Brothers. Drake's pick is the 75th anniversary edition of Joy of Cooking. Other staff favorites include The Zombie Survival Guide, The Darwin Awards 4 and the collection Good Poems edited by Garrison Keillor.

Isabel Allende's novel Inés of My Soul is one of the national books selling steadily at Title Wave. Nonfiction titles include The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid by Bill Bryson, who "always does really well for us," said Drake. Other favorites are Thomas Friedman's The World Is Flat, America: Teacher's Edition by Jon Stewart and the Daily Show and titles from the Onion like the recently-published Homeland Insecurity: The Onion Complete News Archives, Volume 17. Drake expects the latter two titles to do even better the week between Christmas and New Year's when college kids are home on break and making use of gift certificates.

Sidelines "are really strong for us," said Drake, who owned a toy store before becoming a bookseller. Children's puzzles, games and growth charts are particularly popular, while the Spud Gun and the Marshmallow Shooter will be showing up as stocking stuffers for older kids (and grown-ups). The store has also sold thousands of calendars already.

Title Wave shoppers looking to take a break yesterday were treated to live music performed by a husband-and-wife duo, and last week customers were entertained by carolers and a flute choir. During December, the store continues its roster of weekly and monthly events such as book clubs, Scrabble and chess clubs, and a writer's group. "We do it because this can be a stressful time of year," said Drake, "and to have that sense of normalcy and quiet respite as a community gathering place is, I think, really important."

Fostering a sense of community is paying off is spades for Title Wave Books. "We've had a great season. Our sales are up over last year," Drake said. "Customers are being friendly--and no Grinches yet!"--Shannon McKenna


Siglio Press: The Stampographer by Vincent Sardon


Media and Movies

Media Heat: Winning Welch

Today on the View: Bryan Fogel and Sam Wolfson, authors of Jewtopia: The Chosen Book for the Chosen People (Warner, $24.99, 0446579548).

Also on the View: Martha Stewart shares tips from Martha Stewart's Homekeeping Handbook: The Essential Guide to Caring for Everything in Your Home (Clarkson Potter, $45, 0517577003).

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Today on the Megan Mullally Show: Ahmet Zappa talks about his children's book, The Monstrous Memoirs of a Mighty McFearless (Random House Books for Young Readers, $12.95, 037583287).

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Today the Diane Rehm Show talks with James M. Olson about Fair Play: The Moral Dilemmas of Spying (Potomac Books, $28.95, 1574889494).

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Tonight on the Colbert Report: Jack Welch on Winning: The Answers: Confronting 74 of the Toughest Questions in Business Today (Collins, $12.95, 0061241490), which he wrote with his wife, Suzy Welch.


PuddleDancer Press: Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life, 3rd Edition: Life-Changing Tools for Healthy Relationships by Marshall B. Rosenberg


Books & Authors

Image of the Day: Encyclopedia of North Carolina

Congratulations to William S. Powell, the 87-year-old editor of The Encyclopedia of North Carolina (University of North Carolina Press, $65, 0807830712), at the book's launch party at the North Carolina Museum of History. The book has already sold out its first printing of 15,000; a second printing will arrive early next year.

Freeform: The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton


Obituaries: Richard Carlson, Kate Fleming

Very sad news from the West Coast about two people in the industry:

Richard Carlson, the author of Don't Sweat the Small Stuff and 30 other motivational books, died Wednesday of cardiac arrest while on a flight from San Francisco to New York, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. He was 45 and was to have made several TV appearances to promote his new book, Don't Get Scrooged: How to Thrive in a World Full of Obnoxious, Incompetent, Arrogant and Downright Mean-Spirited People.

A psychotherapist, motivational speaker and stress consultant, Carlson became what the Chronicle called "one of the world's foremost happiness expert. . . . He didn't just tell people to be kind, patient and grateful, he showed them how to make those values a part of their daily lives.

"Don't answer the phone when you're rushing out the door, Carlson advised. Give yourself, and others, a second chance. Don't kill yourself over a mistake. Don't finish other people's sentences for them. Take a vacation, not a guilt trip. Your in box is not your life."

Patti Breitman, one of his former literary agents, told the paper: "He preached what the Buddha preached, but without the preaching. 'Don't take your thoughts too seriously.' He called it a thought attack. What you need to do is live in the present."

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Kate Fleming, the narrator of a range of audiobooks, died on Thursday, one of four people to perish in the storm that hit Seattle, Wash., the Seattle Times reported. She was 41 and drowned when a surge of water flooded into and trapped her in her basement office, where she and her business partner, Lyssa Browne, ran Cedar House Audio.

 


Book Sense: May We Recommend

From last week's Book Sense bestseller lists, available at booksense.com, here are the recommended titles, which are also Book Sense Picks:

Hardcover

The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly (Atria, $23, 0743298853). "David, a 12-year-old mourning the death of his mother, enters another world where every fairy tale lives. A world that encompasses many things we wish for: beauty, wonder, adventure, and redemption--as well as many of our fears: loss, danger, hopelessness. [The] incredible writing draws you into this story of stories, which is ultimately about hope."--Amy Loewy, Garden District Book Shop, New Orleans, La.

American Bloomsbury: Louisa May Alcott, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Margaret Fuller, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Henry David Thoreau: Their Lives, Their Loves, Their Work by Susan Cheever (S&S, $26, 0743264614). "This is a fascinating account of the enclave of literary genius that was mid-19th century Concord, Massachusetts. If we have forgotten why these authors are the beloved paragons of American Literature, Susan Cheever reminds us."--Pepper Parker, Vintage Books, Vancouver, Wash.

Paperback

Clay: The History and Evolution of Humankind's Relationship with Earth's Most Primal Element
by Suzanne Staubach (Berkley, $14, 0425212092). "Who would imagine that a book on dirt could be so interesting? Consider the potter's wheel as the first machine, which in its evolution has produced vessels for cooking and eating, tablets for recording the human story, bricks for walls and buildings, and endless other uses. You'll never look at a handful of mud in the same way again."--Fran Keilty, Hickory Stick Bookshop, Washington Depot, Conn. [Editor's note: the author is also known in the business as Suzy Staubach, the delightful manager of the general books division at the UConn Co-op in Storrs, Conn.]

For Babies and Preschoolers

ABC Sing-Along by Teddy Slater, illustrated by Lisa Chauncy Guida (Cartwheel, $12.99, 0439853575). "Featuring a different song for each letter of the alphabet, each sung to a popular tune, this is a great new book for preschool kids."--Julie Gaston, Butterfly Books, De Pere, Wis.

Not a Box by Antoinette Portis (HarperCollins, $12.99, 0061123226). "For every child who has ever eagerly confiscated a cardboard box and enjoyed some of the many things a box can be with a little touch of imagination."--Karlene Rearick, The Alphabet Garden, Cheshire, Conn.

[Many thanks to Book Sense and the ABA!]



The Bestsellers

The IMBA Bestsellers: November

The following are the November bestsellers at Independent Mystery Booksellers Association member stores:

Hardcover

1. Nature Girl by Carl Hiaasen
2. All Mortal Flesh by Julia Spencer-Fleming
3. Hundred Dollar Baby by Robert Parker
4. The Shape Shifter by Tony Hillerman
5. A Christmas Secret by Anne Perry
5. Wildfire by Nelson DeMille
7. Hollywood Station by Joseph Wambaugh
8. The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
9. The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly
9. L.A. Rex by William Beall

Paperback

1. High Heels Are Murder by Elaine Viets
2. Mrs. Malory and a Death in the Family by Hazel Holt
3. Bubbles All the Way by Sarah Strohmeyer
4. The Cleanup by Sean Doolittle
5. Slay Bells by Kate Kingsbury
6. Officer Down by Theresa Schwegel
6. Cooking Up Murder by Miranda Bliss
8. Who's Sorry Now? by Jill Churchill
9. Dolled Up for Murder by Deb Baker
10. Nail Biter by Sarah Graves

[Thanks to IMBA!]


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