Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Workman Publishing: Dinosaur: A Photicular Book, created by Dan Kainen, written by Kathy Wollard

Bantam: The Forbidden Door (Jane Hawk #4) by Dean Koontz

Little Simon: But Not the Armadillo / Here, George! / Merry Christmas, Little Pookie / I Love You, Little Pookie by Sandra Boynton

DC Comics: Wonder Woman: Earth One Vol. 2 by Grant Morrison, illustrated by Yanick Paquette

Simon Spotlight: Ready-To-Read Has It All ★Beloved Characters ★Exciting Nonfiction ★Award-winning Authors ★And More!

Arthur A. Levine Books: Dactyl Hill Squad by Daniel José Older

Workman Publishing: Born to Dance: Celebrating the Wonder of Childhood by Jordan Matter

Editors' Note

BEA Break, Sort Of

Soon after this issue is sent to you, we begin the pilgrimage to BookExpo America. We won't publish again until bright and early Monday morning, June 1, when our BEA coverage begins. (Don't miss Robert Gray's hilarious "preview" below.) Hope to see you at the show!


Flame Tree Press: The Sky Woman by J.D. Moyer


Notes: NAIBA Trunk Show; Twitter 'Strategy Session'

The New Atlantic Independent Booksellers Association is holding its annual trunk show for booksellers in central and upstate New York on Tuesday, June 16, in East Syracuse, N.Y. Publishers will display fall/winter lists, and some will give frontlist presentations. Booksellers should RSVP to NAIBA at or 516-333-0681.


In anticipation of Jeff Pulver's 140 Characters Conference (June 16-17), a "strategy session" has been scheduled for Monday, June 1, 6-8 p.m. at WORD Bookstore, Brooklyn, N.Y. The panel, titled "People Get Real: forward-thinking publishing experts discuss Twitter and how it is loved & feared in the industry and what this means for you," will feature Richard Nash, Ami Greko, Ryan Chapman and Colleen Lindsay.

Russ Marshalek, the event's organizer, noted that the session's goal "is to bring the at-times esoteric, eccentric and wonderful uses of social networking tool Twitter by those inside the book world to the attention of those outside of publishing. . . . the panel is seeking input on discussion topics and framing from those inside the publishing world (or just those with a love of books)."

For more information about the "Strategy Session" for the 140 Characters Conference, contact


Cool idea of the day: After the death of Silas, the longtime bookstore cat in residence at A Novel Idea, Lincoln, Neb., owner Cinnamon Dokken "decided to engage in a friendly fundraising competition to help them pick a new kitty," according to the Journal Star. Dokken asked customers to "make a donation to either the Cat House or the Capital Humane Society. After a month, the store would adopt a cat from the organization that received the most monetary support."

Ultimately, $3,200 was raised for the Cat House and $1,500 for the Humane Society; then Dokken had to make her choice. The Journal Star noted that "although the plan was to adopt one cat, Eddy and Padric so charmed store owners that they took both to their new book-filled home nearly two weeks ago."

"This town is amazing," said bookseller Carolyn Nolte. "They just pooled together the change from their pockets and just donated. . . . I know Silas was well-loved around the world, and this was a good way to honor him and a great way to call attention to all the cats that are needing homes."


Book: The Sequel update: Since we last checked in with Perseus Books Group about its collaborative effort to publish a book of first-line sequels in as many formats as possible during BookExpo (Shelf Awareness, April 27, 2009), the project has drawn nearly 600 entries as well as media attention, including an appearance by PublicAffairs vice-president Clive Priddle on WNYC's Brian Lehrer Show yesterday.

Submissions have come from all over the U.S., as well as England, the Philippines, Taiwan, Japan, Madagascar and New Zealand, according to PublicAffairs marketing manager Lindsay Goodman, who also shared some early trends.

Most popular authors:

  1. Jane Austen
  2. Charles Dickens
  3. George Orwell
  4. William Shakespeare
  5. F. Scott Fitzgerald
  6. Herman Melville
  7. Ayn Rand
  8. J.K. Rowling
  9. Franz Kafka
  10. Margaret Mitchell

Most popular works:

  1. Pride and Prejudice
  2. The Bible
  3. The Great Gatsby
  4. Moby-Dick
  5. 1984
  6. Harry Potter
  7. A Tale of Two Cities
  8. Metamorphosis
  9. Gone with the Wind
  10. Atlas Shrugged


NPR featured its Summer Books 2009 recommendations.


Diana Salvatore has been named publisher of Broadway Books, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group of Random House. Salvatore, who previously edited Ladies’ Home Journal, "fills a post vacated last month when Stacy Creamer joined the Touchstone Fireside imprint of Simon & Schuster as publisher," the New York Times reported


Disney-Hyperion: Incognito (Beatrice Zinker, Upside Down Thinker #2) by Shelley Johannes

Borders: Sales Fall 12.1%; Net Loss Less than Expected

At Borders Group, consolidated sales in the first quarter ended May 2 fell 12.1% to $641.5 million and the net loss was $86 million compared to $31.7 million in the same period a year earlier.

Excluding special non-operating, after tax charges of $70.1 million, the operating loss in the quarter was $15.9 million, which was below analysts' estimates of at least $29.4 million. Because the loss was lower than expected, Borders shares rose 12.8% to $2.90 a share in after-hours trading, according to Reuters.

Sales at Borders superstores open at least a year fell 13.5%. Total sales at Borders stores were $536.7 million, down 10.7%. During the quarter, Borders did not open or close any stores and continues to have 515.

Comp-store sales at Waldenbooks fell 5.5% and total sales fell 19.9% to $76.9 million, in large part because of the closing of 100 stores during the year. During the first quarter the company closed 11 Waldenbooks locations and now has 376.

The company noted that cash flow from operations improved by $19.5 million compared to last year, and debt was reduced by 44.9% to $325.9 million.

In a statement, Borders CEO Ron Marshall said, "We continued to strengthen the financial structure of the company by making further improvements to cash flow, debt and adjusted EBITDA. Make no mistake about it, we have much more work to do and will continue to maintain our financial discipline. At the same time, we know that we cannot save our way to prosperity. Our long-term success will come from doing a much better job of driving sales and that's where our focus is right now."

Borders revamped its executive team at the beginning of the year and is in the process of reforming its board.


In other Borders news, the company has appointed Scott Laverty chief information officer and named Paul Devitt director of e-commerce systems.

Laverty has more than 25 years of experience in information systems and retail, most recently as a partner for IBM and earlier as a senior manager with Deloitte Consulting, consultant at PricewaterhouseCoopers and senior manager at Ernst & Young.

Devitt was formerly senior manager of e-commerce technologies at Circuit City and earlier was a manager at Capital One.


Houghton Mifflin: The Goodnight Train Rolls On! by June Sobel, illustrated by Laura Huliska-Beith

Wholesale Change: B&T Goes into OverDrive; Ingram Reorganizes

Baker & Taylor has signed a longterm digital distribution and technology licensing agreement with OverDrive to provide customers with downloadable e-books, audiobooks, music, video and more.

In the next few months, Baker & Taylor will begin offering its Digital Media Library, powered by OverDrive, for library customers worldwide and will offer retailers digital media that their customers can download, transfer and play back on a variety of devices.

"We are executing on Baker & Taylor's strategic vision to be the industry leader in the distribution of bundled physical and digital media to our customers worldwide," B&T CEO Tom Morgan said.

B&T's executive v-p for global business development Bob Nelson stated, "Adding digital media to our current offerings allows our retailers and library customers to buy additional products and services in a more efficient process from one trusted source."

For his part, OverDrive CEO Steve Potash said, "The demand for digital media is exploding, and Baker & Taylor is in a prime position to give customers a bundled solution--digital content in multiple formats along with physical media. OverDrive technology will provide Baker & Taylor customers worldwide the ability to securely manage, protect and fulfill orders for premium digital media."


Ingram is merging its Ingram Digital unit with the Ingram Book Group and Lightning Source to create a new company called Ingram Content Group, which aims to provide "a full range of content services--the physical and the digital," as chairman John Ingram put it. Ingram Digital is a digital content distributor and supplier of content management, distribution and hosting solutions; Lightning Source is Ingram's print on demand unit; and Ingram Book Group is the company's book wholesaler--and oldest of the Ingam Content Group companies.

The Ingram Content Group will be headed by president and CEO David "Skip" Prichard, who joined Ingram two years ago as head of the Book Group.

John Ingram thanked Frank Daniels, chief commercial officer of Ingram Digital, who is leaving the company in July after having "agreed to stay on and help transition VitalSource, the market leader in higher education digital textbook technology, into the broader Ingram Digital business following its acquisition in 2006."

"We have been the innovator in distribution, print on demand, and now digital," John Ingram added, saying that more and more of Ingram's customers want "solutions without having to contact multiple people in our organization. So we're organizing to make that happen."


Shelf Awareness Giveaway: Berkley Books: Good Luck with That by Kristan Higgins

Pennie Picks Roadside Crosses

Pennie Clark Ianniciello, Costco's book buyer, has chosen Roadside Crosses by Jeffery Deaver (Simon & Schuster, $26.95, 9781416549994/1416549994) as her pick of the month for June. In Costco Connection, which goes to many of the warehouse club's members, she wrote:

"While I enjoy a good suspense novel, I find that I have a hard time reading them during a Pacific Northwest winter when sunny days are a rarity. Now that the days are longer and brighter, I gave Jeffery Deaver's latest a read and found it to be a fast-paced, gripping tale, with lots of twists and turns.

"A killer is targeting people and devising ways to kill them based on information he finds about them online. Even though it's summer, you'll want to be sure to keep the lights on and the doors locked. And consider yourself warned: This book may undermine your comfort zone with the Internet."


Image of the Day: Launching In Search of Iraq

Earlier this month in New York City at the home of the Consul General of Ireland Niall Burgess: (from l. to r.) Irish author Richard Downes celebrates the new U.S. edition of his book In Search of Iraq (Gemma Media) with Gemma Media publisher Trish O'Hare and Consul General Burgess.


G.L.O.W. - Galley Love of the Week
Be the first to have an advance copy!
The Heavens
by Sandra Newman

When Grove Press senior editor Peter Blackstock (The Sympathizer, Miss Burma, Freshwater) preempts a submission six days after receiving it, I tend to sit up and pay attention. In Sandra Newman's (In the Country of Ice Cream Star) transportive new novel, The Heavens, Ben meets Kate in New York, in 2000, and the two fall in love. But Kate's recurring dreams of Elizabethan England are becoming alarmingly realistic, and Ben wonders if she's losing her grip on reality. The reader's not sure of anything, other than that she never wants the book to end. Strange, stunningly clever and absolutely immersive, this book proves Blackstock's gut should be insured. --Stefanie Hargreaves, editor, Shelf Awareness for Readers

(Grove Press, $26 hardcover, 9780802129024, February 12, 2018)
Shelf vetted, publisher supported


Media and Movies

Media Heat: The Loop

Today on the Diane Rehm Show: Darryl Strawberry, author of Straw: Finding My Way (Ecco, $26.99, 9780061704208/0061704202).


Tomorrow morning on the Today Show: Charlie Todd and Alex Scordelis, authors of Causing a Scene: Extraordinary Pranks in Ordinary Places with Improv Everywhere (Morrow, $19.99, 9780061703638/006170363X).


Thursday morning on Good Morning America: P. C. Cast, author of Hunted (St. Martin's, $17.95, 9780312379827/031237982X).


Thursday on Writer's Roundtable: James Frey, author of Bright Shiny Morning (Harper Perennial, $15.99, 9780061573170/0061573175). Tune in via or


Thursday on KCRW's Bookworm: Jacques Roubaud, author of The Loop, translated by Jeff Fort (Dalkey Archive, $16.95, 9781564785466/1564785467). As the show put it: "Jacques Roubaud describes the mesh of image and memory that makes up his fascinating, newly translated, unclassifiable book. A member of the French group Oulipo, Roubaud is interested in structure, in this case the structure of memory itself, and the way memory can be shaped to make up what we call 'the story of our lives.' "


Thursday on the Dennis Miller Show: Doug Stanton, author of Horse Soldiers: The Extraordinary Story of a Band of U.S. Soldiers Who Rode to Victory in Afghanistan (Scribner, $28, 9781416580515/1416580514).


Thursday night on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart, in a repeat: Elizabeth Edwards, author of Resilience: Reflections on the Burdens and Gifts of Facing Life's Adversities (Broadway, $22.95, 9780767931366/076793136X).


Thursday night on the Colbert Report: Walter Kirn, in a repeat, author of Lost in the Meritocracy: The Undereducation of an Overachiever (Doubleday, $24.95, 9780385521284/0385521286).


Friday night on 20/20: Lisa R. Cohen, author of After Etan: The Missing Child Case that Held America Captive (Grand Central, $25.99, 9780446582513/0446582514).


Friday night on HBO's Real Time with Bill Maher: Karl Weber, author of Food Inc.: A Participant Guide: How Industrial Food Is Making Us Sicker, Fatter, and Poorer--And What You Can Do About It (PublicAffairs, $14.95, 9781586486945/1586486942).


On Saturday on Lifetime: the debut of a miniseries based on Maneater by Gigi Levangie Grazer (Pocket Star, $7.99, 9781416523345/1416523340).


This Weekend on Book TV: All BookExpo, Almost All the Time

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 30

8 a.m. From BookExpo America in New York City, a Book & Author Breakfast featuring Tracy Kidder, Jeannette Walls, Ben Mezrich and Craig Ferguson. (Re-airs Saturday at 4:30 p.m. and Sunday at 7:30 p.m.)
12 p.m. From BEA, the Book & Author Luncheon with Pat Conroy, Lorrie Moore, Daniel Pink and Ken Auletta. (Re-airs Sunday at 12 a.m. and 5:30 p.m.)
7 p.m. 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), presents an inside look at the first forensic lab for crimes against wildlife. (Re-airs Sunday at 2 a.m. and Monday at 6 a.m.)

8 p.m. From BEA, a "Discussion on the State of the Publishing Industry" with Chris Anderson, Lev Grossman, Steven Johnson and Tom Standage. (Re-airs Sunday at 6 a.m. and 3 p.m.)
9 p.m. From BEA, a "Publishing CEO Roundtable," moderated by Tina Brown and featuring Carolyn Reidy (S&S), David Steinberger (Perseus), John Sargent (Macmillan) and Brian Murray (HarperCollins).  (Re-airs Sunday at 7 a.m. and 2 p.m.)
10 p.m. Afterwords. Nancy MacLean interviews Bethany Moreton, author of To Serve God and Wal-Mart: The Making of Christian Free Enterprise (Harvard University Press, $27.95, 9780674033221/0674033221). Moreton argues that the financial success of Wal-Mart was the product of Christian networking. (Re-airs Sunday at 9 p.m., Monday at 12 a.m. and 3 a.m., and Sunday, June 7, at 11 a.m.)
Sunday, May 31

8 a.m. From BEA, a Book & Author Breakfast featuring Richard Russo, Gail Collins, Pete Dexter and Joe Scarborough. (Re-airs Sunday at 4 p.m.)


Books & Authors

Awards: Man Booker International Prize

Alice Munro won the third £60,000 (US$95,813) Man Booker International Prize, awarded every two years to a living author for a body of work that has contributed to an achievement in fiction on the world stage. Previous winners were Ismail Kadaré in 2005 and Chinua Achebe in 2007. Munro will be honored during an award ceremony on June 25 at Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland.

"Alice Munro is mostly known as a short story writer and yet she brings as much depth, wisdom and precision to every story as most novelists bring to a lifetime of novels," observed the judging panel. "To read Alice Munro is to learn something every time that you never thought of before."


Book Brahmin: Rachel DeWoskin

Rachel DeWoskin was educated at Columbia and Boston universities. In 1994, she moved to Beijing, where she worked in public relations before taking a starring role in a popular Chinese soap opera. Her first book, a memoir called Foreign Babes in Beijing, has been published in five languages and is currently being developed as a feature film by Paramount Pictures. Her fiction debut, Repeat After Me, an intercultural love story that spans decades and continents as it follows the unexpected romance between a young Chinese intellectual and an unhinged ESL teacher, was just published by Overlook Press. DeWoskin lives in New York with her husband and two children.

On your nightstand now:

Nabokov's Speak, Memory, Alison Bechdel's Fun Home and The Autobiography of Malcolm X. These are all books I'm teaching right now in my memoir class at New York University, so I'm joyfully re-reading them. And Yu Hua's new novel, Brothers, is also next to the bed, first on my end-of-the-semester list.

Favorite book when you were a child:

Charlotte's Web. My mom read that to me hundreds of times. I have a visceral memory of hearing it for what must have been the 200th time when I was a little kid on an overnight train across China. And although I couldn't have articulated this then, that book was America for me, was home--animals, ice cubes, fireworks, fairs. It was so familiar and comforting that it encompassed my entire country and culture. All the colors and words and feelings I knew best.
Your top five authors:

Elizabeth Bishop, Emily Dickinson, Leo Tolstoy, Vladimir Nabokov and Annie Proulx.

Book you've faked reading:

Oooh. I pretended to have read Moby Dick for 10 years until I finally read it (which took me approximately another 10 years).
Book you are an evangelist for:

Autobiography of Red
by Anne Carson. Let me propagandize/count the ways. It is the most original book I've read. It boils over with brilliance and slays me each time I re-read it, which I do at least twice a year since I include it on every syllabus I teach, no matter what the genre, semester, student population or school. Autobiography of Red is a shimmering everything--history, love story, poem, novel, essay, biography, autobiography--it's academic, romantic, political, wildly imaginative and heart shattering. My students weep, shout, sit stunned and silent, fight, analyze, memorize, imitate and then write their best work either about or because of it--consistently.
Book you've bought for the cover:

Jimmy Corrigan by Chris Ware. Have you seen that cover? It has as much work in it as most books manage in their 300 pages . . . not to mention that the story is epic, graphic and staggering.
Book that changed your life:

Angle of Repose. Wallace Stegner's writing let me understand time.
Favorite line from a book:

Probably Nabokov's "Fill up the page, Printer." (From Lolita.)

Book you most want to read again for the first time:

The Brothers Karamazov
. The first time I read that, I sat clutching it for hundreds of pages at a time until my eyes spiraled. I took irritating breaks to eat and sleep briefly before racing back in. Fun!


Book Review

Book Review: On Kindness

On Kindness by Adam Phillips (Farrar Straus Giroux, $20.00 Hardcover, 9780374226503, May 2009)

In this brief work, psychoanalyst Adam Phillips and historian Barbara Taylor offer a spirited argument in defense of the notion that ordinary kindness is sorely in need of elevation in the pantheon of modern virtues. While it's more a historical overview and psychological exploration of the concept of kindness than any sort of practical manual for those looking to inject more sympathy for others into their lives, thoughtful readers in the latter category will be enlightened and certainly not disappointed.

The first of the book's two main sections, and the most engaging, is entitled "A Short History of Kindness." In a lively survey that ranges from Rome's Stoics and Epicureans to Enlightenment thinkers like Hobbes, Hume and especially Rousseau, the authors deftly sketch the tension between the proponents of a mutually dependent society and those who champion the idea of blunt self-interest. They deliver us to the modern world where they conclude, with no small amount of regret, that "we are all Hobbesians, convinced that self-interest is our ruling principle."

The middle portion of the book--two chapters entitled "How Kind?" and "The Kindness Instinct"--parses the notion of kindness as seen through the prism of Freudian psychoanalysis. These chapters are peppered with pithy insights on the psychological evolution of kindness ("Our lives, from the beginning, depend upon kindness, and it is for this reason . . . that it terrorizes us."), along with an analysis of the odd symbiosis between kindness and hatred. There's lots of provocative stuff here, but also a risk that those unfamiliar with the work of Freud and his disciples at times may feel themselves at sea.

Phillips and Taylor recover in the concluding section, "Modern Kindness," where they stitch the threads of their arguments together. There they sharply question the values of the "enterprise culture" of the United States and their native Britain, with its "life of overwork, anxiety and culture, and isolation." They suggest, to counter that unhealthy way of life, an unabashedly practical form of kindness that at its root is no more complex than peeling away some of our carapace of self-absorption and in the process recognizing our common humanity.

Kindness does seem at odds with the modern admiration for independence and self-reliance. But in these fraught times, perhaps we need to reexamine that belief and recognize the merits of doling out an ample dose of it every day. Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel once wrote, "When I was young I admired clever people. Now that I am old I admire kind people." That thought, these authors suggest, is an estimable, perhaps even a vital, one.--Harvey Freedenberg

Shelf Talker: A psychoanalyst and a historian offer a perceptive discussion of the often-overlooked virtue of kindness and its potential to enrich our lives.


Deeper Understanding

Robert Gray: Seen & Heard at BEA 2009--The Preview Edition

As you walk through the airport concourse upon arrival, you can spot the "book people." Just as you think you're imagining this, you see another one coming your way. It turns out to be somebody you know. And when you look in the rest room mirror to check on your own post-flight status, a book person stares back at you bleary-eyed. You're not surprised. Or disappointed.

Waiting in the lengthy registration line at your hotel (hoping, as usual, to score an early check-in time), you recall thinking that this was going to be the year you opted for a room at a hotel that wasn't full of book show attendees, just so you could avoid the gridlock that is inevitable when every guest in the place is running on the same schedule for arrivals, departures, elevator use and taxi stalking.

At one of Thursday's educational programs, a panelist says, "If your business isn't (fill in the blank), you're falling behind the curve by missing a great opportunity that is not only crucial to your success, but maybe even your survival in the evolving marketplace."

You are forced to acknowledge that a) your company isn't (fill in the blank) yet and b) you have never heard of (fill in the blank) until this moment. You feel guilty, take notes and wonder when you'll ever find the time to (fill in the blank).

At every panel you attend, many people are staring down at their laps--as if in silent prayer--rather than at the panelists. If you are not one of those texting or tweeting, you may feel like you're missing something. Don't worry. As public officials are fond of saying during disasters, "There is no cause for alarm at this time." Just listen to the panelists. You'll be fine . . . at this time.

You know that an orderly mob always gathers on Friday morning for the official opening bell at BEA, so you strategically delay your arrival until the show has been going for 15 or 20 minutes. A three-day event is neither an Oklahoma Land Rush nor a blue light special. That's your theory.

Just as planned, by the time you arrive the early crowd has dispersed through the entry funnel, but already a few people, overburdened as pack mules, exit the show with their first load of biblioswag. Their shoulders droop beneath the weight of tote bags filled with ARCs and bookmarks and myriad freebies. For them, it is a blue light special moment.

You experience several embarrassing cases of badge dysfunction. The two most common manifestations are:

  • The Twist--a badge hanging around the neck of someone you know, but whose name escapes you, has flipped over and you must find a dozen ways during the conversation to project familiarity without actually naming names.
  • The Hip Check--too many people inexplicably pin their badges to a belt loop, which compels you to stare, however briefly, at their, shall we say, "mid-section region."

Somebody complains about the food options at a BEA Book & Author breakfast, as if food were remotely the point.

A person of indeterminate sex, height and weight, dressed in the colorful garb of an unfamiliar cartoon character of indeterminate species, approaches you and says, in a happy (if unintentionally creepy) voice, "Would you like to read a new book about me?"

You're in conversation with someone at an after-show party. Suddenly they look through you as if your head has become transparent. "I'll be right there," they yell cheerily. Then they politely end the conversation with you while appearing to resist saying, "Awright, move it along, show's over." Don't take this personally.

On Sunday morning, exhausted and footsore, you opt for room service. You wonder if you should tip, despite the 18% gratuity charge on the check. You tip anyway. Munching on a piece of cool, soggy toast, you sit on the edge of your bed, staring in awe at the stacks of ARCs you have accumulated in just two days. What were you thinking? You'll need another suitcase. Time to sort, prioritize and, regrettably, discard. The hotel staff will definitely get an advance look at this fall's list.

You wait in line in front of your hotel for a cab. NYC tip: walk a block away from your hotel in any direction, raise your arm and the cab will find you.

Soon, you won't be surrounded by all these book people and, quite suddenly, you will miss that feeling . . . until next year.--Robert Gray (column archives available at Fresh Eyes Now)


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