Shelf Awareness for Thursday, April 30, 2009


Little Brown and Company: The Balcony by Jane Delury

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

Tarcherperigee: F You Very Much: Understanding the Culture of Rudeness--And What We Can Do about It by Danny Wallace

Katherine Tegen Books: Another Quest for Celeste (Nest for Celeste #2) by Henry Cole

Quotation of the Day

Buy Indie Day: Indies are 'Gasoline on the Word-of-Mouth Fire'

"But any writer who has been out peddling his work knows--and I think this is especially true in the mystery/suspense community--there is no greater friend than a passionate indie bookseller who loves your novel. They are gasoline on the word-of-mouth fire, and like almost every small business right now, they are hurting. So I'm going to ask everyone who reads this blog, if you have the time, to go to your favorite indie bookstore on May 1 and make a purchase."--Author Kevin Guilfoile on Buy Indie Day, an idea conceived by Joe Finder that has gained considerable momentum on Facebook and Twitter. The prime directive tomorrow is for people to buy one book (at least) at an independent bookstore near them and make a mass statement about the importance of indies.

 


Page Street Kids: Beneath the Haunting Sea by Joanna Meyer


News

Notes: President Reads Netherland; S&S Layoffs

"Watch the best-seller lists this week, kids," noted the New York Times Jacket Copy blog, predicting an aftereffect from President Obama's admission in this Sunday's Times Magazine that "he had become sick enough of briefing books to begin reading a novel in the evenings--Netherland by Joseph O’Neill." Jacket Copy speculated that perhaps "The Open Veins of Latin America wasn't the relaxing read he was looking for?"

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Rebound starting? We hear that Barnes & Noble recently had company-wide sales one day that topped sales on the same day a year ago.

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Sadly we've learned that Simon & Schuster has laid off several people in the sales department, "let go in response to the changing retail environment," as one executive put it.

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The Barnes & Noble in Brooklyn Center, Minn., isn't the only B&N closing because of a declining shopping center (Shelf Awareness, April 29, 2009). The company is also closing its store in the Montgomery Towne Center in Montgomery, Ala., a shopping center that had lost most of its major tenants in the past few years, according to the Montgomery Advertiser.

The store will close at the end of June.

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"Silicon Valley is still home to a decent selection of old-fashioned independent bookstores, some of which have been around more than 50 years," Metroactive reported in a cautionary piece that warned "these local literary gems, and their accompanying cultural and authors' events, could disappear without sustained community support."

Citing indie booksellers' adaptive skills in the face of challenges from the troubled economy, technology and increased consumer options, Metroactive showcased a number of bookstores that are "changing in order to survive" with new strategies like the shop local movement.

Government assistance, needless to say, isn't in the offing. "Independent businesses are bailed out last, if ever," said Clark Kepler, owner of Kepler's Books, Menlo Park.

"We are down right now," noted Cinda Meister, co-owner of BookSmart, Morgan Hill. "Customers that would come in and buy 10 books will now come in and buy one or two. . . . They know they can only spend a little bit of money, but they're going to choose where to spend that money. They're not going to spend it at a big box store--they're going to spend it local paint store, a local bookstore."

Valerie Lewis, owner of Hicklebee's, San Jose, stressed the importance of community: "Whenever we've called for the community to do anything, they're there."

This was not the case for Cathy Adkins, whose Willow Glen Books is scheduled to close since no buyer has been found. "If this were another year, I think there would be people more ready to take this kind of chance. But I think people rightfully are being kind of cautious and careful, more in recovery mode than adventure mode."

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Congratulations to Margot Sage-EL, owner of Watchung Booksellers, Montclair, N.J., who is being honored as a Muse of Montclair this Saturday and being recognized, with her staff, for "introducing their readers to new books, supporting local authors with readings, and working with the educational, religious and civic institutions in Montclair to further the cause of literacy and the exploration of new ideas."

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Yvonne vanCort's longtime "romantic fantasy about owning a small bookstore" came true in 2003 when she and husband Roy Solomon purchased the Village Bookstore, Pleasantville, N.Y., according to LoHud.com. The couple were recently honored with a Business Person of the Year award by the local Chamber of Commerce.

"You are surrounded by books all day; you are meeting and greeting customers, chatting with them, maybe reading a book or two on the job," said vanCort, who told LoHud.com that her life as a bookseller "has more or less lived up to her fantasy."

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Cool theatrical bookseller idea of the day: David Hsieh, who works for Elliott Bay Book Co., Seattle, Wash., is directing and producing the Pulitzer Prize-winning play Rabbit Hole by David Lindsay Abaire for the Repertory Actors Theatre (ReAct), "Seattle's multi-ethnic philanthropic theatre company." The play premieres tonight and will run through May 31.

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NBC17-TV reported on today's closing of Market Street Books, Chapel Hill, N.C., a nonprofit bookstore that only a few months ago was honored by the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Chamber of Commerce as its 2008 Business of the Year.

"We thought it might be a temporary thing and condfidence would come back but confidence has not returned," said executive director Michael Lyle.

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Boing Boing's Cory Doctorow recommended the Art of Penguin Science Fiction, "a beautiful thumbnail gallery of the covers of every (?) science fiction novel published by Penguin UK, starting with the 1935 edition of Butler's Erewhon. I grew up on these, and just seeing them there makes me want to tile my bathroom with them."

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Muggles can finally visit the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, which has magically appeared at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago, where, USA Today reported, "more than 200 props and costumes from the blockbuster movies re-create Hogwarts in an exhibition that . . . takes visitors from the Hogwarts Express train platform through the Gryffindor common room, classrooms, the Great Hall, the Forbidden Forest and Hagrid's hut. The tour is populated with creatures from the seven novels by J.K. Rowling and six Potter movies."

"Museums recognize that if popular culture can get kids excited to come to the museum and then we can expose them to 14 acres of science, that's a really good thing," said Anne Rashford, the museum's director of temporary exhibits. The article also offers a video tour of the exhibit.

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The Swedes did it. The Guardian reported that "Swedish crime fiction dominated book charts across Europe last year with the late Stieg Larsson joined by fellow novelists including Henning Mankell, Liza Marklund and Jens Lapidus in an impressive assault on the bestseller lists."

An analysis of the seven major European book markets "showed a remarkably diverse reading culture across Europe, with just 13 of the top 40 authors writing in English and 27 writing in other languages."

The lack of English-language bestsellers "was a very big surprise," said consultant Rüdiger Wischenbart, who compiled the data. "You would have expected it to be as high as 80%."

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David Levithan, a champion of YA literature, has been promoted to v-p and editorial director of Scholastic Trade Publishing. He was formerly executive editorial director, Scholastic Press Fiction. He is also the author of such titles as Boy Meets Boy and co-wrote with Rachel Cohn Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist, which was made into a major motion picture. Levithan started at Scholastic as an intern 16 years ago.

 


Soho Crime: My Name Is Nathan Lucius by Mark Winkler


Image of the Day: Flipping Sides for Flipping Out

We always knew Joe Drabyak was a great guy. But now we know he's also a great, um, babe. (See above, left.)

After Marshall Karp included Drabyak as a character in his new book, Flipping Out, Drabyak, a bookseller at Chester County Book & Music Co., West Chester, Pa., and president of the New Atlantic Independent Booksellers Association, promised to dress up as the character if Karp came to the store for a signing.

Recently Karp did appear at the store. No problem, except that the character is Jo Drabyak, a woman, who sadly doesn't live beyond Chapter 3.

Karp was smitten by Jo: on his website, he wrote, "I met the girl of my dreams at the Chester County Book and Music Company." For his/her part, a sultry Drabyak suggested captions for this photo of "Beautiful Russian Girls Want to Me You" or "JOprah's Book Club."


Ecco Press: Tangerine by Christine Mangan


Happy Birthday: Lerner Turns 50

Congratulations to Lerner Publishing Group, Minneapolis, Minn., for 50 years of independent publishing for children and young adults!

Started in 1959 by Harry Lerner with four titles geared to children biding time in doctors' waiting rooms, the publisher now has more than 4,000 titles in print with roughly 300 new books published annually for both the trade and institutional markets. In gratitude to educators, librarians, booksellers and industry professionals, the company will host receptions and autograph signings at upcoming trade shows, as well as host a gala at the Minneapolis Public Library during the International Reading Association's annual convention next month.
 
In a statement, president and publisher Adam Lerner, son of founder Harry Lerner, said, "As we celebrate 50 years in the publishing industry, we are not only looking back at our successful past, but we are also looking forward to the future." In addition to Lerner Books and Lerner Publications, the publisher's imprints include Carolrhoda Books, First Avenue Editions, Graphic Universe, Kar-Ben, Millbrook Press, Twenty-First Century Books and Edicones Lerner (Spanish-language editions of its top titles).

Founder Harry Lerner, chairman of Lerner Universal Corporation, said, "This is not only a momentous occasion for me and my family, but for all of the employees, authors, and illustrators." To see highlights of the company's half-century of publishing, visit Lerner's website.

 


Media and Movies

Media Heat: Animal Investigators

Tonight on Charlie Rose: Joshua Cooper Ramo, author of The Age of the Unthinkable: Why the New World Disorder Constantly Surprises Us And What We Can Do About It (Little, Brown, $25.99, 9780316118088/0316118087).

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Tomorrow morning on the Today Show:

  • Dani Klein Modisett, author of Afterbirth: Stories You Won't Read in a Parenting Magazine (St. Martin's, $23.95, 9780312567149/0312567146).
  • Carol Higgins Clark, author of Cursed (Scribner, $25, 9781416562177/1416562176).
  • Mary Higgins Clark, author of Just Take My Heart (Simon & Schuster, $25.95, 9781416570868/1416570861).
  • Dara Chadwick, author of You'd Be So Pretty If . . .: Teaching Our Daughters to Love Their Bodies--Even When We Don't Love Our Own (Da Capo Lifelong Books, $15.95, 9780738212586/073821258X).
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Tomorrow on NPR's Science Friday: Laurel Neme, author of Animal Investigators: How the World's First Wildlife Forensics Lab Is Solving Crimes and Saving Endangered Species (Scribner, $25, 9781416550563/1416550569).

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Tomorrow on the Tyra Banks Show: Tori Spelling, author of Mommywood (Simon Spotlight, $25, 9781416599104/141659910X).

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Tomorrow on Oprah: Michael F. Roizen and Mehmet C. Oz, authors of YOU: The Smart Patient: An Insider's Handbook for Getting the Best Treatment (Free Press, $14.95, 9780743293013/0743293010).

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Tomorrow night on 20/20: Kent Whitaker, author of Murder by Family: The Incredible True Story of a Son's Treachery and a Father's Forgiveness (Howard Books, $13.99, 9781439164600/1439164606).

 


Movies: Flanimals; Virginia d'Albert-Lake's Diary

A 3-D animated version of the Flanimals series of children's books by Ricky Gervais is headed to the big screen. According to Variety, Universal-based Illumination Entertainment will create the project, "Gervais will voice the lead character, and the script will be written by Matt Selman (The Simpsons)."

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Variety also reported that "indie shingles Calio Prods. and Sennet/Sheftell Entertainment will develop the story of Virginia d'Albert-Lake, the only American woman to fight with the French Resistance during WWII." The film will be adapted from An American Heroine in the French Resistance: The Diary and Memoir of Virginia d'Albert-Lake, edited by Judy Litoff.

 


This Weekend on Book TV: Losing Mum and Pup

Book TV airs on C-Span 2 this week 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, May 2

10:30 a.m. Andrew Lih, author of The Wikipedia Revolution: How a Bunch of Nobodies Created the World's Greatest Encyclopedia (Hyperion, $24.99, 9781401303716/1401303714), offers an inside look at the genesis of the ubiquitous reference website. (Re-airs Sunday at 12:30 a.m.; Sunday, May 24, at 4:30 p.m. and Monday, May 25, at 4:30 a.m.)

12:30 p.m. For an event hosted by A Capella Books Atlanta, Ga., David Williams, author of Bitterly Divided: The South's Inner Civil War (New Press, $27.95, (978159558108/15955810812), contends that throughout the Civil War the South fought an internal battle over secession. (Re-airs Sunday 2 a.m. and 11 p.m.)

5 p.m. For an event hosted by Politics & Prose bookstore, Washington, D.C., Patrick Tyler, author of A World of Trouble: The White House and the Middle East--from the Cold War to the War on Terror (FSG, $30, 9780374292898/0374292892), presents a history of American relations with the Middle East since the Eisenhower administration. (Re-airs Sunday at 10 a.m.)

8:30 p.m. Ronald Cotton, Jennifer Thompson-Cannino and Erin Torneo, co-authors of Picking Cotton: Our Memoir of Injustice and Redemption (St. Martin's, $25.95, 9780312376536/0312376537), recount the legal struggle to free an innocent man. (Re-airs Sunday at 6 a.m.)
     
10 p.m. After Words. Gerald Seib interviews Liaquat Ahamed, author of Lords of Finance: The Bankers Who Broke the World (Penguin, $32.95, 9781594201820/159420182X). Ahamed profiles the central bankers who contributed to the economic collapse that led to the Great Depression. (Re-airs Sunday at 9 p.m., Monday at 3 a.m., and Sunday, May 10, at 12 p.m.)

11 p.m. Jabari Asim, author of What Obama Means for Our Culture, Our Politics, Our Future (Morrow, $21.99, 9780061711336/0061711330), discusses the rise of the current president as the "proper alignment of irreversible cultural trends, substantial political developments and unstoppable market forces." (Re-airs Sunday at 7:30 a.m.)
     
Sunday, May 3

12 p.m. In Depth. Christopher Buckley, author most recently of the memoir, Losing Mum and Pup (Twelve, $24.99, 9780446540940/0446540943), 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, May 9, at 9 a.m.)

 



Book Review

Children's Review: The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate

The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly (Henry Holt & Company, $16.99 Hardcover, 9780805088410, May 2009)



Jacqueline Kelly, in this impressive debut, creates an 11-year-old narrator, Calpurnia Virginia ("Callie Vee") Tate, who meets with obstacles to her instinctive curiosity about the natural world. Through Callie Vee's eyes, the author deftly explores attitudes toward science and gender roles at the turn of the 20th century. Repulsed by cooking and knitting and other traditional female pursuits, Callie Vee thrives by the river bank, observing flora and fauna. But this will not prepare her to come out in society or find a husband suitable to her family's wealth. In the sweltering summer of 1899 in Fentress, Tex., Callie Vee ("spliced midway" between three older brothers and three younger ones) figures out that she can attract earthworms from deep within the parched earth if she dumps a bucket of water in the same spot twice a day for five days. She sells a dozen of them to her 13-year-old brother Lamar for a penny, and confesses her "method" to her oldest brother, Harry (age 17), her favorite. Harry encourages Callie Vee by giving her a pocket-size red leather notebook for recording her scientific observations. "You're a regular naturalist in the making," he tells her.
 
The heroine's observations about two "very different kinds of grasshoppers" lead her to approach her reclusive grandfather, an "old man [with] fierce tufty eyebrows . . . rather like a dragon's." When she poses the grasshopper question to her grandfather, he tells her he "suspect[s] that a smart young whip like you can figure it out" and to report back when she has. Undeterred, she hitches a ride with Harry into town and goes in search of a book she'd heard her minister and grandfather discussing, The Origin of the Species (and what the "unearthing [of dinosaurs] in Colorado . . . meant to the Book of Genesis"). Surely Mr. Charles Darwin's book would hold the answers. Though her trip is unsuccessful, Callie Vee figures out the answer through further study, shares her solution with her grandfather, and a tenuous connection forms between them. The strengthening of their bond forms the heart of this humorous, often poignant book. For Grandfather cares not that Callie Vee was born a girl; he sees her as a companion in a world full of astonishing curiosities. (In one standout exchange, Callie Vee observes, "It's funny . . . that girls have to be pretty. It's the boys that have to be pretty in Nature. Look at the cardinal. Look at the peacock. Why is it so different with us?" And Grandfather replies, "Because in Nature it is generally the female who chooses . . . Whereas your brother [Harry] gets to choose from the young ladies, so they have to do their best to catch his eye.") The tensions in the story arise from Callie Vee going against society's (and especially her mother's) expectations, and from Callie's interference with a courtship between Harry and a girl Callie deems unsuitable. Kelly wisely keeps the ending realistic--after all, Callie lives in a world that places restrictions on her--but readers will believe she can handle whatever challenges may come her way, especially with Grandfather at her side. Callie Vee invites readers to examine the world more closely, for both its natural beauty and for the limits we humans place upon it and each other.--Jennifer M. Brown

 


The Bestsellers

Chicagoland's Top Selling Titles Last Week

The bestselling titles at independent bookstores in and around Chicago during the week ended Sunday, April 26:

Hardcover Fiction
 
1. The Help by Katherine Stockett
2. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
3. Tea Time for the Traditionally Built by Alexander McCall Smith
4. Don't Cry by Mary Gaitskill
5. The Winner Stands Alone by Paulo Coelho
 
Paperback Fiction
 
1. Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout
2. The Commoner by Jonathan Burham Schwartz
3. Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri
4. The Shack by Willam P. Young
5. The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery
 
Paperback Nonfiction
 
1. Nudge by Richard Thaler
2. Blink by Malcolm Gladwell
3. Still Alice by Lisa Genova
4. Price of Privilege by Madeline Levine
 
Hardcover Nonfiction
 
1. Liberty and Tyranny by Mark Levin
2. Always Looking Up by Michael J. Fox
3. Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man by Steve Harvey
4. Dewey by Vicki Myron
5. Gringo by Chesa Boudin
 
Children's Books
 
1. Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer
2. Duck Rabbit by Amy Krouse Rosenthal
3. Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer
4. Nutshell Library by Maurice Sendak

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

[Many thanks to the booksellers and Carl Lennertz!]

 


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