Shelf Awareness for Thursday, May 14, 2009
Notes: Buyer for Willow Glen Books; Kids Otter Read Day
The imminent demise of Willow Glen Books, San Jose, Calif., may have been greatly exaggerated after all. The Mercury News reported that just when owner Cathy Adkins "thought she was going to have to shutter her beloved Willow Glen Books, another sad victim of the rocky economy, a last-minute offer appeared."
"Yay! I'm so thankful that I don't have to turn out the lights and go home," said Adkins. "This is a great thing for me and a great thing for the community. Willow Glen would have a big hole in it without us."
Adkins was in the process of "selling off everything from the lighting fixtures to the bookshelves and sadly bidding farewell to her loyal customers. Then, in a plot twist worthy of Dickens, a buyer appeared. Roland A. Vierra, who runs a flooring business, now seems poised to save the day, pending completion of the sale later this week," according to the Mercury News.
"I have spent a lot of my life in this neighborhood and I just can't imagine Willow Glen without this store," said Vierra. "Willow Glen deserves an independent bookstore and San Jose needs one. This is it. . . . You're never going to get rich selling books, but this isn't about the money. It's always been a secret dream of mine to own a bookstore, so this is a golden opportunity."
Cool idea of the day: This Saturday, May 16, is Kids Otter Read Day Around the Bay, during which more than 50 authors and illustrators will share their creativity and love of children's literature at 12 independent bookstores. The free celebration is sponsored by the Northern California Children's Booksellers Association. In addition to fun and educational activities for all ages, four literacy grant winners will be announced after the event.
Participating bookstores include Laurel Bookstore, Oakland; Hicklebee's, San Jose; Books Inc. shops in Palo Alto, Alameda and in the Marina, San Francisco; The Storyteller, Lafayette; Clayton Books, Alameda; Cover to Cover, San Francisco; Towne Center Books, Pleasanton; Copperfield's, Napa; Linden Tree, Los Altos; and Book Passage, Corte Madera.
You can now add pigeon care to the long list of bookseller duties at John K. King Bookstore, Detroit, Mich. The Free Press reported that Pigy, who is "prettier than your usual Detroit street pigeon" and banded on both legs, "showed up a week ago, lame, in the parking lot of the big bookstore on West Lafayette just outside downtown. King and his staff have been nursing her since."
"Now I know why they call these things carrier pigeons," said King. "I've got to carry it all over the place."
Tough bookstore love in Singapore.
In the Straits Times, Loh Keng Fatt observed, "I have always wondered why bookshops operate on a model that literally allows customers the full run of the place--and with little prospects of many of them actually buying something. . . . Do you see folks at furniture stores sprawled on sofas or pulling out drawers with gusto to check out the cupboards?"
He suggested "levying an admission fee--to get the right type of people to come. . . . I think they should charge, say, a $2 admission charge.This would help the bookshops to earn some income and deter some freeloaders from showing up. But the fee would be refundable if you buy anything."
HarperCollins will publish a memoir by Alaska governor and former Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin. The Associated Press reported that the as-yet untitled book "comes out in Spring 2010--the year she is up for re-election."
"There's been so much written about and spoken about in the mainstream media and in the anonymous blogosphere world, that this will be a wonderful, refreshing chance for me to get to tell my story, that a lot of people have asked about, unfiltered," said Palin.
According to the AP, Palin's memoir "will be co-released by the HarperCollins imprint Harper and, for the Christian market, by the HarperCollins-owned Zondervan."
Sony U.K. will sponsor the Guardian Hay Festival this month, "aiming to steal a march on Amazon's Kindle in a battle of the e-book," according to the Guardian. The Sony Reader "will be the first consumer electronics sponsor of the 22-year-old festival. . . . Sony is aiming to win over the 120,000-plus visitors to the literary and arts festival."
Stairways to library heaven. The New Yorker's Book Bench blog linked to a Chronicle of Higher Education piece featuring beautiful photographs of winding library staircases.
Sales: Bookstore Sales Fall 1.3% in March
During March, bookstore sales fell 1.3% to $999 million--down for the second month in a row this year--according to preliminary estimates from the Census Bureau. For the year to date, bookstore sales dropped 4.1% to $4,242 billion.
Bookstore sales were much healthier than general retail sales this year. Total retail sales in March dropped 12% to $294.440 billion compared to the same period a year ago. For the year to date, total retail sales were down 11.6% to $841.857 billion.
Note: under Census Bureau definitions, bookstore sales are of new books and do not include "electronic home shopping, mail-order, or direct sale" or used book sales.
BEA: Picks of the Panels, Part 1
The CEO Panel at BookExpo America, which will be moderated by Tina Brown, co-founder and editor-in-chief of the Daily Beast, will consist of:
- Brian Murray, president and CEO of HarperCollins Publishers Worldwide
- Carolyn Reidy, president and CEO of Simon & Schuster
- John Sargent, president and CEO of Macmillan
- David Steinberger, president and CEO of Perseus Books Group
The panel meets Thursday, May 28, at 3 p.m. in Room 1E14 at the Javits Center. The editors' buzz panel follows at 4:15 in the same room.
Gary Vaynerchuk, the New Jersey wine dealer who has become a wine blogging phenomenon (Wine Library TV) and is publishing Crush It! with HarperStudio, will speak on the subject of social networking and branding via different channels on Saturday, May 30, at 2 p.m. in Room 1E14. The presentation is called Crush IT! Why Now Is the Time for Independent Booksellers to Cash in on Their Passion. All are welcome! No word on free samples.
In a "no holds barred (but extremely constructive conversation)" four booksellers and publishers will talk about "the worst mistakes each side thinks the other one is making." Participants are Carole Horne, general manager of the Harvard Bookstore, Cambridge, Mass., Praveen Madan, co-owner, Booksmith, San Francisco, Calif.; Bob Miller, publisher, HarperStudio; and Dominique Raccah, publisher of Sourcebooks. The panel is called Stupid Things Booksellers and Publishers Do; jousting takes place Saturday, May 30, 4-5 p.m.
Mike Shatzkin, founder and CEO of the Idea Logical Company, moderates a panel called D2T2: Digital Debut Tool Time, whose speakers include executives from "new and soon-to-be-mainstreamed web-based entities providing innovative digital services and tools to authors, publishers and readers":
- Peter Clifton, president and CEO, FiledBy
- Mark Coker, founder and CEO, Smashwords
- Tammy H. Nam, v-p, content and marketing, Scribd
D2T2 meets on Friday, May 29, from 9:30-10:30 a.m.
On the eve of BEA:
The final event in the 2009 spring season of the Beatrice at the Merc reading series, curated by Beatrice.com's Ron Hogan for the Mercantile Library Center for Fiction, will be held Wednesday, May 27, 6-8:30 p.m., at the Slipper Room at 167 Orchard St. BEA attendees are encouraged to come and meet debut novelists Rakesh Satyal, author of Blue Boy (Kensington), and Sarah Rainone, author of Love Will Tear Us Apart (Three Rivers Press), who will read excerpts of the novels. In addition, members of the Bushwick Book Club will perform original songs based on those books. (Hogan said, "Chances are pretty good Rakesh and Sarah will show off their own musical talents before the party's through!")
Free admission and cash bar; space is limited. RSVP at email@example.com.
Media and Movies
Media Heat: Our Wilderness
Today on the Diane Rehm Show: Doug Scott, policy director of the Campaign for America's Wilderness and author of Our Wilderness: America's Common Ground (Fulcrum Publishing, $19.95, 9781555916411/1555916414).
Today on Fox News' Glenn Beck: Robert Shiller and George Akerlof, authors of Animal Spirits: How Human Psychology Drives the Economy, and Why It Matters for Global Capitalism (Princeton University Press, $24.95, 9780691142333/0691142335).
Today on the View: Brooke Shields, author of It's the Best Day Ever, Dad! (HarperCollins, $17.99, 9780061724459/0061724459).
Tomorrow on the Rachael Ray Show: Neil Patrick Harris discusses The Bro Code by Barney Stinson (Fireside, $13, 9781439110003/143911000X).
Movies: Angels & Demons
Variety pondered the quintessential galactic and spiritual quandary: "Will Capt. Kirk and his shipmates have an angelic second weekend at the international box office, or be demonized?"
Angels & Demons, adapted from Dan Brown's bestselling novel, makes its American debut Friday, and Variety observed that box office predictions on this one are "a hard call. . . . In May 2007, The Da Vinci Code opened to $147 million at the foreign B.O., one of the biggest bows of all time. Angels hasn't generated the same sort of pre-release buzz that surrounded Da Vinci, which seemed to turn the most negative attention--from boos at the Cannes Film Festival to an angry Vatican--into box office glory."
This Weekend on Book TV: Money, Greed and God
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, May 16
8 a.m. Steve Milloy, author of Green Hell: How Environmentalists Plan to Control Your Life and What You Can Do to Stop Them (Regnery, $27.95, 9781596985858/1596985852), takes a critical look at the environmental movement. (Re-airs Saturday at 11:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.)
2:45 p.m. Richard Beeman, author of Plain, Honest Men: The Making of the American Constitution (Random House, $30, 9781400065707/1400065704), explores the contentious debate that took place in the shaping of this document and profiles the men who engaged in its writing. (Re-airs Sunday at 9:45 a.m. and 6:45 p.m.)
5 p.m. For an event hosted by the Capitol Area District Library, Lansing, Mich., Arnie Bernstein, author of Bath Massacre: America's First School Bombing (University of Michigan Press, $18.95, 9780472033461/0472033468), presents a history of the worst school attack in U.S. history in 1927. (Re-airs Sunday at 4 a.m., Monday at 1:30 a.m. and Monday, May 25, at 7 a.m.)
6 p.m. Encore Booknotes. For a program that first aired in 2001, Sandra Day O'Connor, author of Lazy B: Growing Up on a Cattle Ranch in the American Southwest (Random House, $14.95, 9780812966732/0812966732), recounted the cowboys, cattle drives and hardships of her youth and the values instilled by a self-reliant way of life.
8:30 p.m. David Horowitz, author of One-Party Classroom: How Radical Professors at America's Top Colleges Indoctrinate Students and Undermine Our Democracy (Crown Forum, $26.95, 9780307452559/0307452557), presents a somewhat scathing appraisal of the ideology of higher education. (Re-airs Sunday at 5 a.m. and Sunday, June 7, at 3 p.m.)
10 p.m. After Words. For an event hosted by City Lights Books, San Francisco, Calif., Ishmael Reed interviews Mark Rudd, author of Underground: My Life with SDS and the Weathermen (Morrow, $25.99, 9780061472756/0061472751). Rudd recounts his time as chairman of the Columbia chapter of SDS and as a member of the Weather Underground. (Re-airs Sunday at 9 p.m., Monday at 12 a.m. and 3 a.m., and Sunday, May 24, at 12 p.m.)
Sunday, May 17
1 p.m. Jay W. Richards, author of Money, Greed and God: Why Capitalism Is the Solution and Not the Problem (HarperOne, $24.99, 9780061375613/0061375616), contends there are eight myths about capitalism, which he intends to expose. (Re-airs Monday at 6 a.m., and Sunday, May 24, at 9 a.m. and 8 p.m.)
Books & Authors
Awards: Children's Choice Book Awards; Ondaatje Shortlist
Winners of the second annual Children's Choice Book Awards--a component of Children's Book Week and sponsored by the Children's Book Council and the CBC Foundation--are:
- Author of the Year: Stephenie Meyer for Breaking Dawn (Little, Brown)
- Illustrator of the Year: Jon J Muth for Zen Ties (Scholastic)
- Kindergarten-second grade: The Pigeon Wants a Puppy! by Mo Willems (Hyperion/Disney)
- Third-fourth grade: Spooky Cemeteries by Dinah Williams (Bearport)
- Fifth-sixth grade: Thirteen by Lauren Myracle (Dutton/Penguin)
- Teen: Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer (Little, Brown)
Children and teens nationwide cast more than 220,000 votes at bookstores, school libraries and at BookWeekOnline.com. The awards ceremony was held in New York and hosted by Jon Scieszka, National Ambassador for Young People's Literature.
A shortlist has been announced for the £10,000 (US$15,160) Ondaatje prize, "given to a literary work that 'evokes the spirit of a place,'" the Guardian reported. This year's judges said the finalists offer "compelling, individual voices, taut narrative and impressive research in six remarkable books from across a complete range of genres."
The shortlist includes novels Pollard by Laura Beatty and James Buchan's The Gate of Air; nonfiction works Sissinghurst: An Unfinished History by Adam Nicholson, The Blackest Streets: The Life and Death of a Victorian Slum by Sarah Wise and The Legend of Colton H. Bryant by Alexandra Fuller; and Ian McDonald's Selected Poems. The winner will be named May 18.
Children's Review: A Taste for Red
A Taste for Red by Lewis Harris (Clarion Books, $16.00 Hardcover, 9780547144627, June 2009)
In this funny, pleasingly creepy debut, Harris channels the outsider feeling intrinsic to the middle school experience for so many students. Narrator Stephanie Grimm hates her first name, so when she begins sixth grade as a new student at Sunny Hill Middle School, she calls herself instead Svetlana Grimm ("It's Romanian," she explains to her "horrible and fat" history teacher with "drooping jowls [that] quiver like Jell-O"). Svetlana's parents think of her new diet of exclusively red foods as "attention-seeking behavior" resulting from their move to California from Texas. But really it goes hand-in-hand with her preference for a hermit-like existence and sleeping under the bed rather than on it. Svetlana believes she is a vampire--even though she can go out in daylight and can even be photographed. She begins to question her identity, however, following several odd encounters with her science teacher, Ms. Sylvia Larch, who favors lessons on Pavlovian conditioning and decomposition. The woman reeks of rotting flesh and possesses the ability to plant thoughts in Svetlana's mind. In addition to author Harris's talent for mixing humor and fear, he also creates a self-reliant heroine ("being a vampire is a solitary business," she admits in the book's opening line). But then she meets next-door neighbor Lenora Bones. In the guise of a kindly elderly neighborhood eccentric, "the Bone Lady," as the kids refer to her, tutors Svetlana regarding her unique attributes, explaining that the girl is one of an elite "Circle of Red," guardians between the natural and unnatural world. The heroine never takes herself too seriously, yet she is confident enough to recognize the popular crowd for who they are--like blonde Sandy Cross and her "cloned Barbie doll" pals Marsha and Madison ("They clung to either side of Sandy Cross like parentheses"). After the three girls mysteriously disappear, the sixth-grader suspects Ms. Larch may be the culprit--and, in a deliciously ironic twist, only Svetlana can save them. With enough of a yuck- and suspense-quotient to appeal to boys and a smart, resourceful heroine whom girls can champion, this tale is just the ticket for readers not yet ready for Twilight.--Jennifer M. Brown
George Scialabba: Ode on the Death of a Bookstore
When stocks fall and portfolios wane,
‘Tis culture that first feels the pain.
No university, however great,
Can bear declining real estate.
Bookstores, newspapers, magazines,
Publishers--all quit the scene.
It’s only right that we should scatter--
It’s not as though we really matter.
Hedge funds, banks, insurance giants:
These are our government’s main clients.
Aircraft, bases, CIA:
We must go and these must stay.
No complaining, no begrudging;
It’s not for rabble to be judging.
Accept that we’re too small to bail.
Accept that they’re too big to fail.
More precious than this room of books
The bonuses of well-heeled crooks.
More vital than our culture’s riches
The net worth of those sons of bitches.
It’s necessary, though it’s sad.
If you don’t understand, too bad.
Greenwich and Wall Street must abide;
Meanwhile, farewell to Morningside!
George Scialabba, Boston Globe columnist and author of What Are Intellectuals Good For? appeared recently at one of one of the final events hosted by Morningside Bookshop, New York, N.Y., which is scheduled to close in June (Shelf Awareness, May 7, 2009).
Chicagoland's Topselling Titles Last Week
The following were the bestselling titles at independent bookstores in the Chicago area during the week ended Sunday, May 10:
1. Home Safe by Elizabeth Berg
2. The Women by T.C. Boyle
3. The Winner Stands Alone by Paulo Coelho
4. Sag Harbor by Colson Whitehead
5. Dark Places by Gillian Flynn
1. Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell
2. Bad Mother by Ayelet Waldman
3. The Hindus by Wendy Doniger
4. Lords of Finance by Liaquat Ahamed
5. 100 Essential Things You Didn't Know by John Barrow
1. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
2. Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout
3. Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri
4. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith
5. Loving Frank by Nancy Horan
1. In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan
2. Writing in an Age of Silence by Sara Paretsky
3. The Drunkard's Walk by Leonard Mlodinow
4. For the Thrill of It by Simon Baatz
5. How the States Got Their Shapes by Mark Stein
1. The Last Olympian by Rick Riordan
2. Twilight by Stephenie Meyer
3. Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer
4. New Moon by Stephenie Meyer
5. Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer
Reporting stores: Andersons, 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; Women and Children First, Chicago.
[Many thanks to the bookstores and Carl Lennertz!]