Shelf Awareness for Monday, January 29, 2007


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

Letters

It's a Library Memory Game, Too

Susie Neubauer, head of technical services at the Robbins Library, Arlington, Mass., writes:

I enjoyed Robert Gray's column [last Friday] about customers who don't have the title right.  Reference librarians deal with this every day, even every hour, just as bookstores do!

Just a moment ago, I was handed a "patron request card"--one of those cards our patrons fill out to ask us to order a book for them--and the author and title were Liesl Schillinger, Siberian field. No such title anywhere, but a little Googling helped me to find Schillinger's front-page review of Martin Amis's House of Meetings in the New York Times Book Review for January 14, where the author and title of the review--"Siberian Fields"--were set in type three times larger than the author and title of the actual book. . .


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


News

Notes: Oprah Picks Poitier; Store News; Paz Workshop

Oprah's latest book club pick is The Measure of a Man: A Spiritual Biography by Sidney Poitier (HarperSanFrancisco, $14.95, 9780061357909/0061357901), the actor and director's "second" autobiography, released in 2000. The title is also available in hardcover, large-print and audio editions. The unabridged audio (HarperSanFrancisco, $24.95, 9780061355431/0061355437) is read by Poitier.

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The Midwest Booksellers Association has launched a new bookstore events site, accessible at midwestbooksellers.org/events. The site will soon include banner ads, and Midwest Connections titles will always be featured.

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In a move that kept a store from closing this month, residents Joel and Christy Harris have bought Bonanza Books, Clayton, Calif., and renamed it Clayton Books, according to the Contra Costa Times. The new owners will celebrate the makeover on the weekend of February 10 and 11. The new and used bookstore is at 5433D Clayton Rd., Clayton, Calif. 94517; 925-673-3325; the Web site is claytonbookshop.com.

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The Christian Science Monitor surveys the state of independent bookselling, focusing on the stories of several new booksellers:

  • Christopher Tarr, owner of Broad Brook Books & Stuff, Broad Brook, Conn., who told the paper that he has always had a "veritable bookstore" in his house. "And this town needed something. So it seemed like the right thing to do."
  • Mary McHale, owner of Fox Tale Books, New Durham, N.H., who wants to give her town a heart. "Hopefully this will be a starting point," she said.
  • Julie Swayze, who opened Metropolis Books in downtown Los Angeles last month, "sees both arty loft-dwellers and homeless residents of the nearby Midnight Mission as part of her customer base."
  • Lisa Sharp, ower of Nightbird Books in Fayetteville, Ark., who said she would love to earn a small salary but if the store "can support itself and still be a contribution to the community that would be enough."
  • Adam Tobin, owner of Adam's Books, Brooklyn, N.Y., an MFA poetry graduate whose store has become his "literary project."

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Barbara Theroux, who founded Fact & Fiction, Missoula, Mont., in 1986, has put her store up for sale and plans to retire after it is sold, the Missoulian reported. She will "absolutely not" close the store, she told the paper. "I've taken it this far so I don't want to see that it fails. I want to see it continue to grow and change with new blood."

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The Ninth Street Bookstore in Columbia, Mo., owned by Crowley Distributing, is closing March 31, the Columbia Missourian reported. V-p Jerry Crowley blamed low sales, high rent and a lack of easy parking. The company has five other bookstores in Missouri.

Other stores in Columbia are scrambling. Acorn Books, a used bookstore, must vacate its building, which houses the Missouri Theatre and is being renovated. Owner Ken Green may relocate but has two other stores in Columbia and sells online.

Columbia Books moved last March to a spot with better visibility and parking, which has helped keep the store in business.

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Lumino Magazine writes up Quimby's Bookstore, Chicago, Ill., which has "something to please the inner rebel, deviant, or pseudo-intellectual snob in us all."

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Paz & Associates' Bookstore Training and Consulting Group will hold one of its bookstore workshops for prospective booksellers--Opening a Bookstore: The Business Essentials--March 19-23 in Amelia Island, Fla., which is near Jacksonville. Many new booksellers have considered these intensive workshops essential in the process of founding their stores. The workshop is co-sponsored by the American Booksellers Association.

The week-long program includes discussions of marketing competitive advantages, understanding financial dynamics, store design and merchandising, computerized management systems and selecting an opening inventory. Donna Paz Kaufman and Mark Kaufman are the facilitators. For more information, go to the "New Store" page at pazbookbiz.com or call 800-260-8605.

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Fans of President Bush please skip the following item.

The Los Angeles Times takes a few minutes to give an update on the Bush Countdown Clock that Bookshop Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, Calif., features in the store ($11.98) and online ($9.95) at nationalnightmare.com. In the past year, the store has sold some 30,000 units, about 82 a day or 3.4 an hour.

This has not been the first left-leaning promotion the store has engaged in. Many years ago, co-owner Neal Coonerty sold Richard Nixon's memoirs and Rush Limbaugh's The Way Things Ought to Be by weight for the price of baloney.


Trinity University Press: Arte Kids - Bilingual Board Books


PGW/AMS: How Some PGW Publishers Are Responding

The San Francisco Chronicle looks at the effect of AMS's bankruptcy on PGW publishers, particularly the many in the Bay Area. Among the reactions: Parallax Press is seeking to negotiate a longer payment schedule with its printer while New World Library, publisher of The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success by Deepak Chopra, "laid off one of its 17 employees, slashed nonessential marketing expenses like the use of outside publicists, and capped the size of the royalty advances it would offer authors for the foreseeable future."

Munro Magruder, associate publisher of New World, which is owed $1.7 million, told the paper, "We went into immediate capital preservation mode."

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In the latest news involving the sad case, the unsecured creditors' committee has asked the bankruptcy court to move to liquidate the company, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported. It is, however, supporting Perseus's bid to take on most or all of PGW's publishers.

The bankruptcy court has scheduled a hearing for Wednesday on whether to sell, partially sell or refinance the company, whose lawyers argue that it is viable but that unsecured creditors are undermining it by cutting off shipments to AMS and dealing with its warehouse club customers via other wholesalers.

RadioFreePGW is predicting an imminent bid from Levy Home Entertainment for AMS sans PGW. As we noted a week ago, Levy hired several former AMS executives and opened an office in San Diego perhaps as early as several months ago. RadioFreePGW lists the six, of whom it takes a dim view. It also notes that court testimony last week shows that AMS's CFO was negotiating debtor-in-possession financing as early as December 6, another indication that "this bankruptcy was planned and choreographed for weeks if not months before it happened."


Thomas Nelson: Perennials by Julie Cantrell


Media and Movies

Media Heat: Parties, Power, and Parenting Advice

This morning on the Early Show: Lisa Roberts on her new book, Antiques of the Future (Stewart, Tabori & Chang, $29.95, 9781584795544/1584795549).

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This morning the Today Show highlights Party Confidential by Lara Shriftman, Elizabeth Harrison, Lara Morgenson, and Jeff Vespa (Bulfinch, $29.99, 9780821257807/0821257803).

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Today the Rachael Ray Show is taken to task by Jo Frost, whose most recent advice tome is Ask Supernanny: What Every Parent Wants to Know (Hyperion, $14.95, 9781401308643/1401308643).

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Today on the Martha Stewart Show: Norman Mailer, author of The Castle in the Forest (Random House, $27.95, 9780394536491/0394536495).

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Today the Diane Rehm Show hears from Michael B. Oren about Power, Faith, and Fantasy: America in the Middle East: 1776 to the Present (Norton, $35, 9780393058260/0393058263).

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Today on Fox & Friends: Senator Chuck Schumer continues to stump for Positively American: Winning Back the Middle Class One Family at a Time (Rodale, $24.95, 9781594865725/1594865728). The senator is also scheduled to appear on NPR's Fresh Air.

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Tonight on Fox's Hannity & Colmes: Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, author of My Year Inside Radical Islam: A Memoir (Tarcher, $24.95, 9781585425518/1585425516).


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



Books & Authors

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

Love Is a Mix Tape: Life and Loss, One Song at a Time
by Rob Sheffield (Crown, $22.95, 9781400083022/1400083028). "This is Love Story updated for the '90s. The Year of Magical Thinking for the grunge set. Rob Sheffield's extended love letter to his dead wife is set to the soundtrack of the mix tapes they obsessively made for each other. I laughed, I cried, and if you have a heart, you will too."--Susan Taylor, Book House of Stuyvesant Plaza, Albany, N.Y.

Red River by Lalita Tademy (Warner, $24.99, 9780446578981/0446578983). "Lalita Tademy does a great job of telling the true story of the massacre of black men in Colfax, Louisiana, in 1873 and brings to life the story of three generations of African Americans who were affected by this horrific event."--Tiffany Dow, A Shade of Gray Bookstore, Indianapolis, Ind.

Paperback

Firmin: Adventures of a Metropolitan Lowlife by Sam Savage (Coffee House, $14.95, 9781566891813/1566891817). "This story of a literate rat born in a bookstore is the kind of novel that pulls readers in with its very premise--its absurdity and zaniness leaving me to wonder how in the world it could possibly be pulled off in a believable and meaningful way. Yet it happens. I loved the book more and more with each page."--Hans Weyandt, Micawber's Bookstore, Saint Paul, Minn.

For Children Up to Age 8

Dear Mr. Rosenwald by Carol Boston Weatherford, illustrated by R. Gregory Christie (Scholastic, $16.99, 9780439495226/0439495229). "This moving story is based on the Rosenwald schools, funded by Julius Rosenwald, for African-American children in the rural South. Told in a series of poems by an award-winning poet and illustrated by a Coretta Scott King Honor Medalist, this book shows the heart of a community, and what efforts people will make in order to bring their new school to reality. A testament to the difference one person can make in the lives of many."--Elisabeth Grant-Gibson, Windows A Bookshop, Monroe, La.

[Many thanks to Book Sense and the ABA!]


Carolyn Turgeon's Pulpwood Queens' Girlfriend Weekend

The weekend before last I traveled to Marshall, Tex., the small-town setting for this year's Pulpwood Queens' Girlfriend Weekend, an annual event held in East Texas since 2001. Members of the Pulpwood Queens--the largest meeting and discussion book club in the country, according to founder Kathy Patrick--come to meet with authors, buy books and jewelry, and don their most fabulous leopard print duds and rhinestone pins for the weekend's highlight, the Hair Ball.

I went to the event as a Pulpwood Queens author whose debut novel will be read by the club this April (Kathy selects the books that the "thousands" of members in the club's more than 100 chapters read each month), but I felt far more like a fan than an attraction. I was a fan of the nearly 60 authors present--I bought a bunch of books and ran around getting them signed when I probably should have been hawking my own--and a fan of the few hundred Pulpwood Queens who were there, women who gather once a month in each other's houses or at local restaurants and embrace Patrick's idea that reading is as fun as it is important.

At the Friday afternoon press conference, Kathy was unmistakable when she swept in: vivacious, larger than life, a fun-loving, tiara-wearing blonde Texas woman decked out in fake fur and rhinestones. She is also deeply passionate about books. Underlying all the fun and big hair is a serious commitment to spreading literacy, especially to readers who might otherwise never meet an author or gather around a table to talk about a book. Her enthusiasm is infectious: at one point she pulled me and Margaret Sartor aside and as she described Margaret's book American Pie, I honestly felt like I had to have at that book that very instant. I remember watching Oprah describe White Oleander--"liquid poetry!!"--and feeling the same way.

The weekend events started on Friday night, when everyone met up at the Marshall for a night of music and improvised skits, emceed by Phil Doran and featuring a hilarious sketch in which author River Jordan impersonated Kathy Patrick in a blonde wig, as host of the Okra Show. Saturday was an all-day author extravaganza, with a series of panels upstairs and downstairs. In between, long lines formed in the book room, where Barnes & Noble sold stacks of each author's books. I was on the "Authors Who Have Mastered the Art of Storytelling" panel, and, having never sat on a panel before, I was more than a little nervous. I quickly realized that this was as fun and low-pressure as it gets: we just talked about our books one by one, and how we came up with our ideas, and the audience was attentive and sweet (and sparkling). Afterwards, several women touched my arm or patted my shoulder as I walked by, to tell me how much they'd enjoyed it. The whole weekend was like that; the authors were all friendly and having a great time, as were the Pulpwood Queens themselves. And I met a ton of great authors: laid-back Montana writer Cindy Dyson, charming Louisianan Ronlyn Domingue, elegant, stately New Englander Mary McGarry Morris and Californian newcomer Amy Wallen, to name just a few.

The crazy (and hair) reached new heights at Saturday night's Hair Ball, where group after group of ladies arrived decked out in their finest and flashiest attire and posed under the PULPWOOD Hollywood-style sign on one wall. One sleek grey-haired woman wore a glittering silver gown, the picture of elegance. One group was dressed as Marilyn Monroe. Another woman went as Cher. Author Kathi Kamen Goldmark showed up in a wig with two white cones jutting from the top. A highlight was the Timber Man contest, where male authors like William Cobb, Ron Hogan and Robert Dalby got out and danced for the coveted prize. The three finalists, chosen by applause, had to sing to Kathy, and when J. Brooks Dann belted out "Lady," we all knew he had it in the bag. It was anything goes. I found myself dancing for hours and whooping it up Texas style. Lord knows what was caught on camera. When the party wound down at about midnight, a group of authors and I drove 15 miles to Jefferson to the one bar that was open until 2 a.m. We stayed till closing time, and a small group of us even danced to a live version of "Cocaine."

Sunday morning was a final brunch. Afterwards, I got the opportunity to drive out to Jefferson to Kathy's store, Beauty and the Book, the only hair salon/bookstore in the country (Kathy also does hair), which is in a quaint house with a fence and a front yard. There's a tree dripping with Mardis Gras beads and a bra or two in front, and a long Southern porch with three vintage hairdryers lined up in a row. When you walk inside, into a leopard-covered hallway, plastic vines hang down from the door frame leading into the main shop. The store itself is filled with books (many of them book club selections) and stuffed leopards and Marilyn Monroe prints and a castle-shaped birdcage and a fireplace with a mantle covered in sparkly things. Behind the front table is an elaborate throne. Just past this main room is a beauty parlor that's just as wild and full of wonders, each wall hanging or trinket attached to a story of its own.

I was sad to leave this crazy place and come back to New York. I even have fantasies of moving to Texas myself. I love Kathy's vision: that women should be glamorous and fabulous and extraordinary, and that books are as much a part of that as elaborate hairdos and rhinestones and best friends.--Carolyn Turgeon

Carolyn Turgeon's first novel, Rain Village, was published in November by Unbridled Books. She lives in New York. Here (on the right) she poses with the Pulpwood Queen herself, Kathy Patrick.


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