Shelf Awareness for Thursday, April 2, 2009


Penguin Press: Astral Weeks: A Secret History of 1968 by Ryan H. Walsh

Scribner Book Company: The Wolves of Winter by Tyrell Johnson

St. Martin's Press: After Anna by Lisa Scottoline

Little Brown and Company: The Recovering: Intoxication and Its Aftermath by Leslie Jamison

Houghton Mifflin: Playing Atari with Saddam Hussein: Based on a True Story by Jennifer Roy with Ali Fadhil

News

Notes: Teicher Is ABA's New CEO; Ayers Event Canceled

Oren Teicher will become chief executive officer of the American Booksellers Association, effective June 1. Teicher, the ABA's current COO, succeeds Avin Mark Domnitz, who announced his impending retirement in January.

In a statement, ABA President Gayle Shanks said the decision by the board of directors was made "after a full and thorough search," adding that Teicher's commitment to the ABA and independent bookstores is longstanding: "He was our associate executive director, director of government affairs, founding president of ABFFE and, for the past 12 years, has been our chief operating officer. . . . He has played an integral part in our IndieBound Local First initiatives, and he serves as an advisor to independent business alliance boards and other independent retail trade associations."

Details of Teicher's new contract will be disclosed to ABA members after they are finalized, the statement continued, noting "the board wants to assure the membership that the terms of the new CEO's contract will fit well within the norm for trade associations of our size. The hiring of a new CEO is an appropriate time to conduct a review of all of the association's programs and expenses, and the board has requested that Oren undertake that effort. To that end, I know that he will welcome your ideas and thoughts, so please feel free to contact him at oren@bookweb.org."

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Safety concerns and community reaction caused the recent cancellation of appearances by controversial educator and activist William Ayers at Naperville North High School and Anderson's Bookshop, Naperville, Ill., according to the Sun. The bookstore's decision "was one the business did not happily make. Anderson's also asserted that 'freedom of speech was threatened' by the community's reaction to the scheduled appearance of Ayers, a University of Chicago education professor who admitted to participating in domestic bombings as a way of protesting the Vietnam War."

A statement posted on the bookstore's website said, "Anderson's Bookshops host hundreds of authors and newsmakers each year and will continue to do so. The hysterical and ugly comments about the appearance multiplied each day and we feared our customers and staff might be in physical jeopardy if we held the scheduled program."

Anderson's also noted that it plans to "host a town meeting-type freedom of speech forum to provide an outlet for examining how respectful discourse can enrich our lives and our community."

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Tragedy struck Flintridge Bookstore and Coffeehouse, La Canada Flintridge, Calif., yesterday when a truck slammed into the bookstore, killing two people and injuring several others. The Associated Press reported that the truck, which left "several damaged and overturned vehicles strewn across the pavement" at the busy intersection and "was lodged inside the Flintridge Bookstore and Coffeehouse where one of the two people inside was hit by a piece of wood and received minor injuries."

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Last month, Clear Creek Books, Golden, Colo., was in danger of closing (Shelf Awareness, March 2, 2009), but Yourhub.com reported that "a community effort to step up and help owner Craig Morgan has lightened the load."

"The response has been amazing. I am feeling pretty good," said Morgan, who explained that a combination of individual loans and the possibility of offering memberships have given the business some breathing space.

"Membership is an attractive idea, because people get something back," Morgan added.

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The Louisville Courier-Journal showcased a pair of "local heroes"--Ear X-tacy music shop and Carmichael's Bookstore--as independent businesses that are also "two fixtures of the Louisville cultural scene which appear to be thriving despite the recession."

"We operate on such a shoestring, I think the economy just hasn't affected us as much directly," said Carol Besse, co-owner of Carmichael's. "And also the kind of store that we are, the fact that we're small, we're personal, we know our customers, they're pretty addicted to reading and they've continued to come to us."

Besse added that ABA's IndieBound program and buy local movement have also helped. "I think the success of the 'buy local' movement is really what contributed to our sales not declining this holiday season. I think people are starting the get that message, that shopping at a locally-owned business is a good thing for the community and is also ecologically responsible."

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Today's New York Times reported that as public libraries nationwide become increasingly popular destinations in a down economy, the role of librarians in the community has been altered substantially "to fill a void for more people, particularly job-seekers and those who have fallen on hard times."

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Happy birthday to the Association of American Publishers's Get Caught Reading campaign, which will celebrate its 10th anniversary in May by teaming with the National Basketball Association and Reach Out and Read to distribute thousands of posters featuring NBA and WNBA stars "caught reading" their favorite books at select NBA events and through Reach Out and Read pediatric centers in 50 states.

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On the lookout for the First Dog. USA Today reported that "the presidential puppy is about to arrive--and so are two new children's picture books about the next canine occupant of the White House." The piece highlighted April releases Which Puppy? by Kate Feiffer, illustrated by Jules Feiffer (S&S, $16.99, 9781416991472/1416991476) and and First Dog by J. Patrick Lewis and Beth Zappitello, illustrated by Tim Bowers (Sleeping Bear Press, $15.95, 9781585364671/1585364673).

 


GLOW: Grove Atlantic: The Mercy Seat by Elizabeth H. Winthrop


Borders Results: Sales, Earnings, Debt, Inventory, Costs Fall

At Borders Group, consolidated sales in the fourth quarter ended January 31 fell 12.9% to $1.1 billion. During the full year, sales fell 8.8% to $3.2 billion. Net income in the quarter fell 45.7% to $29.6 million while the net loss for the year grew 18.6% to $186.7 million.

Borders emphasized that it had cut debt, inventory and costs and would continue to do so this year. (Details below.) Wall Street appeared to like the news: yesterday on nearly double the usual trading volume, Borders shares rose 46% to close at 92 cents a share, their highest level since last November.

In the fourth quarter, sales at Borders superstores open at least a year fell 15.3% and fell 4.7% at the Waldenbooks Specialty Retail stores. Comp-store book sales at Borders were down 11.7% and nonbook products fell 21.1% in the quarter. For the full year, Borders same-store sales fell 10.8% and Waldenbooks fell 5.1%. For the full year, comp-store book sales at Borders fell 8.2% while nonbooks fell 16.1%.

Sales at Borders.com, which started operating in-house in May, were $26.4 million in the quarter and $45.7 million for the year.

During the fourth quarter, Borders opened one superstore and closed five. During the year, the company closed 84 Waldenbook division stores and 112 during the year, leaving 386 stores.

International sales, consisting mainly of Paperchase, were $43.2 million in the quarter and $136.7 million for the year.

The company highlighted that during the year it had reduced debt by $217.8 million to $336.2 million. During the year it also reduced its inventory investment to $915.2 million compared to $1.24 billion at the end of FY 2007, a 26.3% reduction. Borders plans to cut costs another $120 million this year.

In a statement, Borders CEO Ron Marshall said, "Our top priority is getting our financial house in order by continuing to reduce expenses, pay down debt and improve cash flow." The company is focused, he continued, "on driving sales through improved execution and by re-engaging with our customers. Borders is a strong brand with millions of loyal customers."

Marshall was not optimistic about the near future, saying, "We expect sales trends to continue to be negative throughout 2009 and will manage the business accordingly. We have planned only minimal capital expenditures and will continue to hold the line on our deeply reduced cost structure while remaining engaged with our vendors and others as we work to get the company on more firm financial footing. In addition, our efforts to drive the top line and improve margins will continue to intensify as we move forward."

According to the Wall Street Journal, "Marshall said that the chain intends to focus more of its energies on promoting specific titles, and cited two recent books that he said Borders has helped turn into national bestsellers, Jamie Ford's novel Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet and Kelly Corrigan's memoir, The Middle Place."

The AP wrote that "executives said Borders will continue to focus on improving its cash flow and profitability while trying to reassert itself as the bookseller for 'serious readers.' It also will beef up some underdeveloped product categories such as cooking and children's books and move away from unprofitable categories like music."

 


Clarion Books: The Stone Girl's Story by Sarah Beth Durst


Pennie Picks Long Lost by Harlan Coben

Pennie Clark Ianniciello, Costco's book buyer, has chosen Long Lost by Harlan Coben (Dutton, $27.95, 9780525951056/0525951059) as her pick of the month for April. In Costco Connection, which goes to many of the warehouse club's members, she wrote:

"Of the many things I could say about Harlan Coben and his string of bestsellers, what I most want to say is: He's an awfully nice guy. Maybe I shouldn't be surprised that an author who makes a living writing mysteries and detective novels is that nice. But he is, and I am secretly, pleasantly surprised. To top it off, he's also a great writer. His newest novel, . . . Long Lost, is no exception.

"Recurring character Myron Bolitar travels to France to help an old lover. An unexpected piece of evidence turns the case upside down, and soon the two are racing to stay ahead of Homeland Security, Interpol and the Mossad."

 


Oxford University Press: Hate: Why We Should Resist It with Free Speech, Not Censorship by Nadine Strossen


Media and Movies

Media Heat: I'd Trade My Husband for a Housekeeper

This morning on the Today Show: Trisha Ashworth and Amy Nobile, authors of I'd Trade My Husband for a Housekeeper: Loving Your Marriage After the Baby Carriage (Chronicle Books, $18.95, 9780811867351/0811867358).

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Today on the Diane Rehm Show: Jack Horner, author of How to Build a Dinosaur: Extinction Doesn't Have to Be Forever (Dutton, $25.95, 9780525951049/0525951040).

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Today on KCRW's Bookworm, three poets--Eamon Grennan, Major Jackson and Pattiann Rogers--celebrate Walt Whitman, read his and their work and "paint a raucous, friendly, informal portrait of the Good Gray Poet--America's greatest," as the show put it.

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Today on NPR's Fresh Air: Michelle Goldberg, author of The Means of Reproduction: Sex, Power, and the Future of the World (Penguin Press, $25.95, 9781594202087/1594202087).

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Today on the View: Mary Tyler Moore, author of Growing Up Again: Life, Loves, and Oh Yeah, Diabetes (St. Martin's, $24.95, 9780312376314/0312376316).

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Tonight on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart: Tom Zoellner, author of Uranium: War, Energy and the Rock That Shaped the World (Viking, $26.95, 9780670020645/0670020648).

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Tonight on the Late Show with David Letterman: Michael J. Fox, author of Always Looking Up: The Adventures of an Incurable Optimist (Hyperion, $25.99, 9781401303389/1401303382).

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Tomorrow morning on Good Morning America: Quinn Bradlee, author of A Different Life: Growing Up Learning Disabled and Other Adventures (PublicAffairs, $24.95, 9781586481896/1586481894).

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Tomorrow morning on the Today Show: Spencer Johnson, author of Peaks and Valleys: Making Good and Bad Times Work for You--At Work and in Life (Atria, $19.95, 9781439103258/1439103259).

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Tomorrow on NPR's All Things Considered: Leslie Morgan Steiner, author of Crazy Love (St. Martin's, $24.95, 9780312377458/0312377452). She will also appear this morning on the Today Show.

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Tomorrow on NPR's Living on Earth: Gordon Hempton, author of One Square Inch of Silence: One Man's Search for Natural Silence in a Noisy World (Free Press, $26, 9781416559085/1416559086).

 


William Morrow & Company: My Dear Hamilton: A Novel of Eliza Schuyler Hamilton by Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie


This Weekend on Book TV: Engaging the Muslim World

Book TV airs on C-Span 2 from 8 a.m. Saturday to 8 a.m. Monday and focuses on political and historical books as well as the book industry. The following are highlights for this coming weekend. For more information, go to Book TV's website.

Saturday, April 4

10 a.m. For an event hosted by Changing Hands Bookstore, Tempe, Ariz., Tom Zoellner, author of Uranium: War, Energy, and the Rock that Shaped the World (Viking, $26.95, 9780670020645/0670020648), presents a history of this ultrapowerful element. (Re-airs Sunday at 12 a.m. and 7:30 p.m.)

10:45 a.m. Juan Cole, author of Engaging the Muslim World (Palgrave Macmillan, $26.95, 9780230607545/0230607543), addresses some of the misconceptions he feels people have about the Muslim world. (Re-airs Saturday at 7 p.m. and Sunday at 7 a.m.)
     
6 p.m. Encore Booknotes. In a segment that first aired in 1991, Richard Brookhiser, author of The Way of the WASP: How it Made America and How it Can Save It, So to Speak, argues that the ethics of WASPs formed American character.

8:15 p.m. James Mann, author of The Rebellion of Ronald Reagan: A History of the End of the Cold War (Viking, $27.95, 9780670020546/0670020540), argues that the end of the Cold War was a complex series of events that were both in and out of Reagan's control. (Re-airs Sunday at 2:45 a.m. and 10:15 a.m.)
     
10 p.m. After Words. Congressional Representative Ron Paul interviews Ivan Eland, author of Recarving Rushmore: Ranking the Presidents on Peace, Prosperity, and Liberty (Independent Institute, $25, 9781598130225/1598130226). (Re-airs Sunday at 9 p.m., Monday at 3 a.m., Sunday, April 12, at 12 p.m. and Sunday, April 19, at 12 p.m.)

Sunday, April 5

8:15 a.m. From the 2009 Virginia Festival of the Book in Charlottesville, Va., John Grisham discusses his career as a novelist and research for his nonfiction book, The Innocent Man (Dell, $7.99, 9780440243830/0440243831). (Re-airs Sunday at 8:15 p.m.)

12 p.m. In Depth. Robert Higgs, senior fellow in political economy at the Independent Institute and author of many books, including Neither Liberty nor Safety: Fear, Ideology, and the Growth of Government (Independent Institute, $15.95, 9781598130126/1598130129), joins Book TV for a live interview. Viewers can participate in the discussion by calling in during the program or e-mailing questions to booktv@c-span.org. (Re-airs Monday at 12 a.m. and Saturday, April 11, at 9 a.m.)

 


Books & Authors

Awards: Geoffrey Faber Memorial; Independent Foreign Fiction

Nick Laird's poetry collection, On Purpose, won the £1,000 (US$1,444) Geoffrey Faber memorial prize, an annual award given to honor the founder of Faber & Faber, the Guardian reported.

Journalist Sam Leith, who was on the panel of judges, said Laird's book proves he is "among the very best of his generation of poets. He's a reading poet and a thinking poet. His work speaks of influences imaginatively digested, and a spry, unsentimental intelligence at large in the world. Laird is unfailingly surefooted in his rhythms, and writes with his eyes and ears wide open--it's a pleasure to read him."

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Two Colombian authors, Evelio Rosero and Juan Gabriel Vásquez, are among the six writers shortlisted for the £10,000 (US$14,439) Independent foreign fiction prize, the Guardian reported. The award acknowledges both novelist and translator, dividing the prize money equally between the two.

The Independent prize shortlist:

  • Voiceover by Céline Curiol, translated by Sam Richard from the French
  • Beijing Coma by Ma Jian, translated by Flora Drew from the Chinese
  • The Siege by Ismail Kadare, translated by David Bellos from the Albanian
  • The Armies by Evelio Rosero, translated by Anne McLean from the Spanish
  • The Informers by Juan Gabriel Vasquez, translated by Anne McLean from the Spanish
  • Friendly Fire by A B Yehoshua, translated by Stuart Schoffman from the Hebrew


Children's Review: Two Comics Titles

Adventures in Cartooning by James Sturm, Andrew Arnold and Alexis Frederick-Frost (First Second/Roaring Brook, $12.95, 9781596433694/1596433698, 128 pp., ages 8-up, April 2009)

The Eternal Smile by Gene Luen Yang, illustrated by Derek Kirk Kim (First Second/Roaring Brook, $16.95, 9781596431560/1596431563, 176 pp., ages 12-up, May 2009)

For anyone who loves comics, would like to make comics or wants to know what makes them work, these two titles, beautifully designed in paperback editions with French flaps, supply a great deal of insight. Adventures in Cartooning, disarming in its simplicity, at first appears to be aimed at the beginner. And certainly it has much to offer novices in terms of both textual and visual vocabulary and even baseline drawing instruction. But the book also suggests the many uses for comics, from entertainment to education. A princess who believes she "just can't draw well enough to make a comic!!!" inadvertently summons a Magic Cartooning Elf, who resembles a flying leprechaun and helps her build confidence through simple instruction. The elf explains the importance of panels (their size and pacing), speech balloons (as well as their content's type size and boldface) and the climactic plot twist; step-by-step drawing instructions appear at the end. Even seasoned comics readers may more fully appreciate the work of their favorite creators after reading this book.
 
Then, to see two pros in action, readers can turn to The Eternal Smile. A trio of comics tales explores the same theme: happiness cannot come from following the path that others have determined for us; true happiness comes from discovering and following one's own path. Longtime friends Yang (American Born Chinese), who wrote the comics, and Derek Kirk Kim (Same Difference and Other Stories), who illustrated, open with "Duncan's Kingdom," in earth tones that emphasize its medieval flavor. After the death of a King, the princess declares that whoever can kill her father's murderer will have her hand and rule the kingdom. Duncan takes on the task because he loves the princess, but he is haunted by a dream that, when he finally confronts it, reveals his true identity and forces him to make a moral choice. As the character's name in the title suggests, "Gran'pa Greenbax and the Eternal Smile," stars a money-hungry villain who's a frog. The palette effectively evokes classic Looney Tunes, a fitting backdrop for Gran'pa Greenbax's cathartic experience--which leads him to understand his true nature. And lastly, "Urgent Request," in an exquisitely drab yellow-and-black series of TV tube-shaped panels, follows Janet, a corporate member of the CommTech team. After she applies for a promotion at her computer company, she is ridiculed by her boss. Just when readers might think she's been taken in by an e-mail scam, Janet turns the tables. Each of these three comics acknowledge the human need for escape (in a clever twist within  "Duncan's Kingdom," comics themselves are the escape) but also ultimately to own and make decisions about one's reality. Taken together, this pair of books widens the scope of the way comics work and their infinite potential for creativity and for teaching us about ourselves.--Jennifer M. Brown

 



The Bestsellers

Top Titles on AbeBooks.com in March

The following were the bestselling titles on AbeBooks.com during March:

1. The Purpose-Driven Life by Rick Warren
2. Lord of the Flies by William Golding
3. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
4. The Road by Cormac McCarthy
5. Liberty and Tyranny by Mark Levin
6. Good to Great by James Collins
7. Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand
8. Night by Elie Wiesel
9. The Origin of Species by Charles Darwin
10. The Angel Experiment by James Patterson
 
The following were the bestselling signed titles on AbeBooks.com during March:

1. The Vagrants by Li Yiyun
2. Fool by Christopher Moore
3. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
4. Drood by Dan Simmons
5. Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned by Wells Tower
6. The Tourist by Olen Steinhauer
7. Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese
8. Tea Time for the Traditionally Built by Alexander McCall Smith
9. The Yiddish Policemen's Union by Michael Chabon
10. The Forever War by Dexter Filkins

[Many thanks to AbeBooks.com!]

 


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