Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, February 25, 2009


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: Starbucks's Next Book Choice; Shortcovers Unveiled

As its next featured book, Starbucks has chosen Happens Every Day: An All-Too-True Story by Isabel Gillies, the actress who plays Kathy Stabler on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, the AP reported. The book, which will be published by Scribner on March 24, is a memoir that focuses on collapse of her first marriage.

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More on Shortcovers, the e-book service for smartphones and computers that Indigo, the Canadian bookselling chain, is launching tomorrow, as reported by the Globe and Mail:

  • The initial inventory is about 50,000 titles, priced from $4.99 to $19.99 (US$4.02 to US$16.11) and chapters will be available for 99 cents (80 US cents) each.
  • Some 200,000 sample chapters will be available for free.
  • Shortcovers will soon add magazines and newspapers for sale on a per-copy, per-issue or annual subscription basis.
  • The service is available in Canada and the U.S.
  • Fulfillment for traditional books through the service will be by Indigo in Canada and Barnes & Noble in the U.S.
  • After a month, Shortcovers will offer recommendations to users based on their reading habits.
  • The service is creating a forum where self-published and unpublished writers can submit a chapter from a novel, a short story or an article--and list them for free, with or without ads, or for 99 cents.

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Four Berean Christian bookstores in Illinois--in Peoria, Champaign, Bloomington and Decatur--are closing or have closed, and 13 outlet stores called Christian Publishers Warehouse in Illinois, Iowa and Missouri have been closed, according to the Peoria Journal Star.

Owner David Byrne commented: "The reason we came to this decision is two-fold, really. Our industry, Christian retailing, has been sliding the last few years, largely due to the rise of the Internet and growing competition from big box stores. And now, the bad economy is hurting us even more. . . . Our clientele said they could not bring themselves to spend the money to shop with us in these times."

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Several major general retailers whose results and stock valuations are higher than others are making investments at the same time that they're making familiar cuts, the New York Times reported.

Besides shedding 2% of its work force and "peripheral businesses," Home Depot has reduced inventory levels by $1 billion, but "its in-stock levels are at an all-time high--meaning that when customers come in looking for a nail gun or a roll of duct tape, they are likely to find it."

The hardware chain is also continuing merit pay increases and bonuses for its top sales staff. CFO Carol B. Tomé told the paper: "We believe if we take care of our associates, they'll take care of our customers."

For its part, Macy's has cut staff, its capital expenditure budget and the quarterly dividend, but it's also rolling out My Macy's, an initiative in which "the merchandise in stores would be tailored to appeal to customers in a particular region of the country."

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Stephen Fowler, owner of the Monkey's Paw bookshop, carries "books that fell between the cracks of history. Subjects you can't believe anyone would publish a book about." The Toronto Star profiled the city's "most unusual bookstore," which is based upon a "curatorial philosophy [that] originated from a man [Fowler] worked with at San Francisco's Albatross Books, who had devised a section called Floop, for books that couldn't possibly find a home anywhere else, that were too unique or too specific or too bizarre to be placed anywhere normal."

"Books have been totally superseded by digital," said Fowler. "A generation ago, books were not only the primary, but the only way we stored and transmitted culture. Books were culture. And they're not any more. They're these odd anachronisms. But that doesn't mean they don't contain all sorts of treasures. They're beautiful and interesting and they have fascinating content and startling stuff in them."

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"Are you now or have you ever been in a book group?" was one of nine questions the Deseret News asked men for its informal poll on the male attitude toward reading groups. Why don't more men join? Here's a theory: "Men realize that they are only allocated a certain number of spoken words in their lifetime, so being of a cautious nature, they choose not to waste words on book discussions."

Our comment on that theory: "May be." 

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Under a new agreement, Vintage Español, the U.S. Spanish-language publisher that is part of Random House, will co-publish some titles in the U.S. that originate with Random House Mondadori, which publishes in Spanish in Spain and Latin America. The co-publishing venture begins this fall. Vintage Español will publish some 15 new titles from Random House Mondadori each year.

As part of the co-publishing launch, Vintage Español will reissue about 50 of Random House Mondadori's bestselling backlist titles, which, among other things, will result in all the Spanish-language works of Gabriel García Márquez being published under one roof for the first time in North America.

Founded in 1994 and part of the Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, Vintage Español has a backlist of more than 100 titles, including works by Julia Alvarez, Sandra Cisneros, Laura Esquivel, Cristina García and Esmeralda Santiago.

As a result of the new venture, works by Dale Carnegie, Pablo Neruda, Federico García Lorca, Ken Follett, John Grisham, Cormac McCarthy and Mary Higgins Clark will be added to the Vintage Español list.

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Beginning with the spring 2010 list, Sterling Publishing will publish a broad range of books, including adult and children's titles and book-related products and kits, with the American Museum of Natural History. Under the three-year licensing deal, the Museum, in consultation with Sterling, which is owned by Barnes & Noble, will make the key editorial decisions. All books in the series will have the Museum's logo.

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The Publishers Association of the West's next conference and trade show will take place November 11-14 in Tucson, Ariz., and have the theme "pressing forward."

Todd Berger, PubWest president and director of publishing at the Grand Canyon Association, said, "The conference will cover everything from the nuts and bolts of editing and designing to the best ways to reach media-savvy readers and to stretch your marketing dollars for maximum profit." The conference will include the presentation of the 2009 Rittenhouse Award for outstanding contributions to book publishing in the West.

The association is seeking proposals for sessions and speakers; send them to executive director Kent Watson at kent@pubwest.org. For more information about the conference, trade show and PubWest, go to pubwest.org.

 


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


Image of the Day: Pier Pleasure

Last Wednesday, Joan Baez played at the book launch party for Santa Monica Pier: A Century on the Last Great Pleasure Pier by James Harris (Angel City Press). On the last great pleasure pier: (from l.) author James Harris, Joan Baez, and Baez's son Gabriel. Photo: Karen Maze.

 


Siglio Press: The Stampographer by Vincent Sardon


Kids' Day at Comic Con (Part II): What Are Kids Reading Now?

At Kids' Day at New York Comic Con on Sunday, February 8, a panel of comics creators and publishers explored the implications of the vacuum that's been left by a movement toward greater violence in classic comics characters. The Cartoon Network is too young for the junior high and high school crowd, but some of the more classic characters now operate in a "dark, bloody, scantily clad" world, according to Chris Ryan, a teacher who also writes for Archie comics.

Libraries have taken the place of the oldtime newsstand, Ryan said. With graphic novels sections that display more than 20 different titles (that are not wrapped up), libraries allow kids to peruse comics as they once did at the newsstands and decide what they'd like to collect. Librarians have become an important link for kids when they first start to explore comics on their way to becoming collectors.

Jim Salicrup, editor-in-chief of Papercutz, publishers of Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys manga comics, agreed, adding that libraries allow kids the chance to discover books or comics on their own, while in school they are often directed to read prescribed titles. "Structured teaching" is an obstacle to comics in the classroom, Ryan said, as well as the need to overcome the lingering bias that comics are "trash."
 
Panel host Alex Simmons, the creator and founder of Kids' Comic Con (a separate event held in April) and an author himself, jumped in, "Do not kill the joy! The child does not need to know that [comics] will help with reading." He added that in the 1960s, "if you read comics, it meant you couldn't read." But he said, the comics fans banded together. "We had our own book club and didn't know it."
 
Technology has had a twofold impact on kids and comics, said Janna Morishima, director of Diamond Kids Group. Technology has made kids more adept at literary skills (in addition to traditional book-reading) through text messaging and even the instructions in video games; and it's also shifted the tides in favor of comics creators because "it's easier to get your work out there." Though Morishima also pointed out that it's "perhaps harder to find." But once the readership is established, mainstream publishers may well follow. Kerry Milliron, brand manager at Random House Books for Kids, pointed out the case of Christopher Paulini's Eragon, which the teenage author famously sold from the back of the family station wagon to the tune of 5,000 copies before Random House signed on the book and it catapulted to the top of bestseller lists.
 
The comics/graphic novel genre has also grown enormously, said Matthew Holm, illustrator and co-creator of Babymouse (with his sister, author Jennifer L. Holm). When Babymouse was first published in 2004, he said, "There were no real kids' graphic novels." Simmons mentioned the success of Dav Pilkey's Captain Underpants, an early incarnation of the genre for kids, though parents were a bit resistant. "Adults get caught up in 'Is this a real book?' Kids don't care," Holm said.
 
Manga is very popular with girls, Morishima explained, largely because the creators of manga in Japan--authors, artists and editors--are all women, and therefore the titles feature strong female characters. Salicrup said that while the DC/Minx imprint was established to try to reach tween girls, the themes were too angst-ridden, and they wound up appealing more to men in their 20s than 11- and 12-year-old girls. And those are precisely the girls Jennifer Holm had in mind for Babymouse, says artist Matt Holm. "Jennifer was the only girl in a house of four boys, and she kept wondering, 'Why isn't there a good comic for girls?' We grew up reading comics and we've always wanted to write our own." Milliron said that Jennifer Holm's "legitimacy" (as author of the Newbery Honor book Our Only May Amelia) helped get Babymouse into the libraries. "We've sold as many copies in the library edition as we have in trade and paperback," Milliron said, and they're coming up on the 11th title in the series.
 
Asked by audience members what some of the panelists' favorite graphic novel titles were, Ryan recommended Mouse Guard by David Petersen; Holm suggested the Fogmound series by Susan Schade and Jon Buller; and Salicrup touted the Bone series by Jeff Smith. Morishima suggested several Web sites as resources: Good Comics for Kids on SLJ's Web site; the Bookreporter lists; No flying, no tights; and Diamond's own Bookshelf.
 
In answer to the question about the ever-increasing influx of titles now coming onto the graphic novels scene and how to determine what's best, Simmons suggested it boils down to two main questions, "Who's creating it? And are they thinking about what kids want?"
 
Simmons will be hosting the third annual Kids' Comic Con (which he founded) on April 25, at Bronx Community College, where young people are exposed to comics creators and encouraged to create their own comics. For more information, visit KidsComicCon.com.--Jennifer M. Brown

 


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


Media and Movies

Media Heat: The Forever War

Today on Fresh Air talking about the war in Afghanistan: New York Times reporter Dexter Filkins, author of The Forever War (Knopf, $25, 9780307266392/0307266397).

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Tomorrow morning on Good Morning America: Mark Gonsalves, author of Out of Captivity: Surviving 1,967 Days in the Colombian Jungle (Morrow, $26.99, 9780061769528/0061769525).

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Tomorrow on KCRW's Bookworm: Rae Armantrout, author of Versed (Wesleyan University Press, $22.95, 9780819568793/0819568791). As the show put it: "Rae Armantrout has been associated with the Language-centered poets of the eighties, a group often accused of overly cerebral poetry derived from theory. Now, her work is found in the most widely read magazines that publish poetry. Her work has not changed. What has happened is that time has revealed the hidden heart of her work--the fear of the void that causes her poems to vanish or explode."

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Tomorrow on Tavis Smiley: Thomas E. Ricks, author of The Gamble: General David Petraeus and the American Military Adventure in Iraq, 2006-2008 (Penguin Press, $27.95, 9781594201974/1594201978).

 


Freeform: The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton


Movies: Film Adaptation for Cornwell's Agincourt

Agincourt, Bernard Cornwell's latest novel, recently joined a growing list of book-to-film adaptations that have been optioned or are in development by Independent Films. Also currently in pre-production are Night Train, based on the novel by Martin Amis, with Steven Soderbergh as executive producer and featuring Sigourney Weaver and Michael Madsen; and Mr. Nice, based on Howard Marks's biography, directed by Bernard Rose and starring Rhys Ifans, Chloe Sevigny and David Thewlis.

 


Books & Authors


Book Review

Book Review: Waltz with Bashir

Waltz with Bashir: A Lebanon War Story by Ari Folman (Metropolitan Books, $18.00 Paperback, 9780805088922, February 2009)



Adapted from the Academy Award-nominated animated film, Waltz with Bashir stands by itself as a brilliant graphic memoir in its own right, just as thrilling, gorgeous, thought-provoking and humanitarian as the movie. Using the framework of the original storyboards but with stills from the final art of the film, frame for frame the book is a production of love, a moody masterpiece of art styles and narrative sophistication.

It's the true story of Ari Folman's attempt to regain lost memories. When a friend tells him about a recurring war nightmare, Folman realizes that he's forgotten his role in the 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon. He begins searching for fellow classmates who might remember what he did there.

His journey back into his own past leads him, one by one, to six other men haunted by memories, men who were once well-meaning young soldiers uncertain who they were fighting against, who they were shooting at or what city they'd landed in, but not daring to stop firing. The soldiers' stories within stories slowly lead Folman to remember what really happened, to memories he's kept buried for 20 years of the day the Israeli troops began to realize they were participating in a genocide.

Waltz with Bashir is a visually rich, harrowingly honest look at Folman's re-discovery of his traumatic past. It grapples not only with enforced military participation in evil and its psychological after-effects but also with memory and its devious betrayals.

Besides which, the book is simply gorgeous, a visual feast, every bit as full of impact as the film. All it lacks are the film's haunting musical score and the visceral impact of the film's opening 3-D sequence, the attack of the 26 dogs, certainly one of the most electrifying credit sequences in years. In all other respects, the excellent book and movie complement each other perfectly; you'll want to experience both.--Nick DiMartino

Shelf Talker: A brilliant graphic memoir, thought-provoking and humanitarian, by an Israeli who took part in the 1982 Lebanon invasion.

 


The Bestsellers

Chicagoland's Favorite Books Last Week

The following were the bestselling titles at independent bookstores in the Chicago area during the week ended Sunday, February 22:

Hardcover Fiction
 
1. The Women by T.C. Boyle
2. The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski
3. Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese
4. Heart and Soul by Maeve Binchy
5. Hotel on the Corner of Bitter & Sweet by Jamie Ford
 
Hardcover Nonfiction
 
1. Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell
2. Animals Make Us Human by Temple Grandin
3. Mighty Queens of Freeville by Amy Dickinson
4. Inaugural Address by Barack Obama
5. Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man by Steve Harvey
 
Paperback Fiction
 
1. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz
2. The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga
3. The Reader by Bernard Schlink
4. The Shack by William P. Young
5. American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld
 
Paperback Nonfiction
 
1. Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson
2. Sin in the the Second City by Karen Abbott
3. The Middle Place by Kelly Corrigan
4. The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson
5. Will to Whatevs by Eugene Mirman
 
Children's
 
1. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
2. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Last Straw by Jeff Kinney
3. Mama Voted for Obama by Jeremy Zilber
4. Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed by Mo Willems
5. The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo

 

Reporting stores: Anderson's, Naperville and Downers Grove; Read Between the Lynes, Woodstock; the Book Cellar, Lincoln Square; Lake Forest Books, Lake Forest; the Bookstall at Chestnut Court, Winnetka; Book Table, Oak Park; and 57th St. Books; Seminary Co-op; Unabridged Books; Women and Children First, Chicago

[Thanks to the booksellers and Carl Lennertz!]

 


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