Shelf Awareness for Tuesday, June 2, 2009
Notes: E-Ink Deal E-Inked; SIBA's Dishes Up Okra Picks
Prime View International, the Taiwanese company that makes the Kindle, the Sony Reader and other e-readers, has bought E Ink Corp., the Cambridge, Mass., company that provides the digital-ink technology used in those readers, the Wall Street Journal reported. Prime View is E Ink's largest customer.
E Ink has "a major lead in the market for low-power screens, but competition is likely to increase," the Journal wrote. "The technology--which requires less battery power than the backlit screens used on most hand-held devices--is also used for signs in retail stores that can be changed electronically and grocery shelf labels that can change prices as produce ripens."
The companies estimated that sales of e-book readers will grow to 20 million units in 2012 from 1.1 million units last year.
E Ink CEO Russ Wilcox indicated that the company's decision to sell to Prime View came about in part because of difficulties raising money in public markets. The company's first quarter revenue "more than doubled to $18 million, making it ready to raise money for expansion."
The Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance is the latest regional booksellers association to institute a formal book promotion program, in this case, the wonderfully named Okra Picks.
Member stores will have 12 titles a season to handsell that "should be Southern in nature but can cover any genre, not just fiction," SIBA said. The first 12 Okra Picks will be for the fall and will be displayed at the SIBA annual trade show, in Greenville, S.C., September 25-27. SIBA will actively promote the titles to consumers and booksellers.
SIBA member booksellers may make nominations for the first Okra Picks now. For more information, see SIBA's website.
Somewhere on the shelves at Sam Weller's Zion Bookstore, Salt Lake
City, Utah, "there must be a book that tells about a bookseller who,
thoroughly battered by tough economics and a world in technological
flux, reinvents himself and helps save the industry?" suggested the Deseret News before concluding, "No, wait, that story is yet to be written."
In welcoming readers "to Tony Weller's world," the News reported that "today Sam Weller's is 37,000 square feet and three stories of bookstore awesomeness, with creaky floorboards, well-worn carpet, nooks, crannies, reading chairs, a place to buy coffee, muslin-wearing sales clerks, rare books tucked away in a sanctuary and places where Stegner and L'Amour once sat and signed their books." But the "We're Moving" signs out front "reflect the cold, hard fact that Sam Weller's, in many ways, has morphed into what it once was: an antique shop."
"We are experiencing pretty severe financial duress," said Weller, adding that "three serious buyers" are currently looking at his building. Weller hopes "downsize and revolutionize," according to the News.
"In the 1860s, the new invention of the camera, most people believed, meant the death of painters," he said. "Suddenly, people realized cameras could take a picture of the king and do it far better and far cheaper. Painters were doomed. But they weren't. Out of that we got impressionism, expressionism, surrealism and all sorts of other forms of amazing artistic expression. Painters didn't do what they had been doing, they did new things they never would have gone to if the camera hadn't given them the opportunity."
A Gathering Grove, Everett, Wash., was profiled by the Daily Herald, which observed that owners Steve Kropf and Shannon Bath "opened the store last July with the intent of creating a space for people of all religions."
"I just want people to walk in here and open their minds a little more, open their hearts," said Bath.
Kropf added, "It's the people who choose to shop at small, locally owned businesses who have kept the store afloat so far."
"The people who come in are the people who are aware of small business," he said. "If you're just looking for a cheap book, you'll go to Amazon."
Effective July 1, Jonathan Brent becomes director of the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research. He is editorial director of Yale University Press, where he has worked since 1991. He will continue at the Press as editor at large, and will commission and develop five or so books a year, most in his American Icon and Annals of Communism projects. He also continues as director of the Digital Stalin Archive.
BEA: Notes from the Floor
Grand Central Publishing gave away 1,000 ARCs of Pete Dexter's Spooner (September) on the first day of the show alone. Another favorite was Leila Meacham's debut novel, Roses (January); attendees were more than willing to tote around the sizeable 624-page galley.
A Simon & Schuster staffer Tweeted about the publisher's signings and giveaways, which drew people to the booth to pick up galleys of The Anthologist by Nicholson Baker (September) and other titles. The Glass Castle memoirist Jeannette Walls promoted Half Broke Horses: A True-Life Novel (October), while Jennifer Weiner fans received the news that her latest novel, Best Friends Forever, has been moved up to July for summer reading.
Two long-awaited books stirred interest. Dorothea Benton Frank's Return to Sullivan's Island (Morrow/June) is the sequel to her debut novel, Sullivan's Island, published nearly a decade ago. Six years after The Time Traveler's Wife appeared, Audrey Niffenegger returns with Her Fearful Symmetry (Scribner/September), the story of American twin sisters who inherit their aunt's apartment near Highgate Cemetery in London.
Shannon Hale worked double time for Bloomsbury USA, promoting both the young adult novel Forest Born (September) and a page-turner for grown-ups, The Actor and the Housewife (June).
The adorable cover (a cat perched atop a dog's head) and title for Why Dogs Are Better than Cats by Bradley Trevor Greive and photographer Rachel Hale (Andrews McMeel/October) stopped pet lovers in their tracks. Feline owners (which include several Shelf Awareness staff) should rest assured that the humorous pictorial tome is simply "pro-dog, not anti-cat." On its fall list Andrews McMeel is also serving Cake Wrecks: When Professional Cakes Go Hilariously Wrong by Jen Yates (September). The book of confectionary calamities is based on the author's website CakeWrecks.com.
Although Mitch Albom was not in attendance, readers queued up to receive signed advance reading copies of Have a Little Faith: The True Story of a Last Request (September), his first nonfiction book since Tuesdays with Morrie. It was one of Hyperion's scheduled giveaways, as was a guide promoting And Another Thing . . . by Eoin Colfer (October). The Artemis Fowl author was tapped by the late Douglas Adams's widow to write the next installment in the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series. The guides, which include a history of the series and a letter from Colfer, were also distributed at Comic-Con.
Show-goers in need of a sugar fix indulged in cherry pie and apple pie courtesy of ILR/Cornell University Press. The desserts aimed to draw attention to Counter Culture: The American Coffee Shop Waitress (September), a pictorial tome and ode to the women who help make diners and coffee shops neighborhood institutions. Author Candacy Taylor is an award-winning photographer and former waitress.
In another the food-aided marketing effort, Micki Sannar promoted her signing by roving the convention center and handing out cookies (chocolate or lemon, which this reporter can attest are both delicious) made from recipes in her recently-published cookbook, Olive Oil Desserts: Delicious and Healthy Heart Smart Baking (Mikko Publishing). The enticement worked--there was a long line at her signing later in the day.
It's a landmark year in the history of BEA's host city--2009 is the 400th anniversary of Henry Hudson's arrival along the river bearing his name. In conjunction with the Museum of the City of New York, Running Press is producing New York 400 (September). The full-color tome is a "birthday card to New York," said associate publisher Craig Herman. The company is marking another milestone with Barbie: All Dolled Up (September), a celebration of 50 years of the beloved toy. The book has a 50,000-copy first printing and will be promoted by Neiman Marcus, Toys R Us and other retailers, along with the shopping mecca Mall of America.
A poster featuring the bright pink jacket of I Sold Andy Warhol (Too Soon) (The Other Press/September) was hard to miss. Author and art dealer Richard Polsky was on hand in the publisher's booth to talk about the book, a behind-the-scenes foray into the art world and the sequel to his memoir, I Bought Andy Warhol.
Pat Conroy couldn't make it to BEA because of health reasons, but that didn't stop people from lining up at the Random House booth to receive a copy of his forthcoming novel, South of Broad (Nan A. Talese/August).
Chronicle Books's Audrey Hepburn: International Cover Girl by Scott Brizel (November) showcases magazine covers on which the screen legend and fashion icon appeared. Another retro icon was also garnering interest: Pictorial Webster's by John M. Carrera (July), which features more than 1,500 engravings that originally graced the pages of Webster's dictionaries in the 19th century.
Last week's announcement about Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor spurred interest in Newmarket Press's The Latina Guide to Health by Dr. Jane Delgado (January). The paperback original will be published simultaneously in Spanish and English and is the company's first Spanish-language title. How Shall I Tell the Dog?: And Other Final Musings by the late British humorist Miles Kington (July) is Newmarket's first Indie Next List Great Reads selection. Attracting the attention of passersby was Lisa Grunberger's Yiddish Yoga (August)--along with bagels and cream cheese--the story of a recently widowed Jewish grandmother who accepts as a gift a year's worth of yoga lessons, which have surprising results.
Cranioklepty: Grave Robbing and the Search for Genius by Colin Dickey (September) represents new territory for Unbridled Books--the publisher's first nonfiction title that's not a memoir. Two fiction works of note are Mattox Roesch's Alaska-set debut, Sometimes We're Always Real Same-Same (September), and Masha Hamilton's fourth novel, 31 Hours (September), the story of a mother who has little more than a day to reach her 21-year-old son before he embarks on a suicide bombing.
For tech-savvy tourists, DK Eyewitness Travel launched its Top 10 guides for iPhone and iPod touch users. The 10 digital guides--which include Las Vegas, Los Angeles and London, with more in the works--are available at the Apple App Store and retail for a recession-friendly $7.99.
HarperCollins' Symtio cards offering electronic galleys were well-received by the tech-savvy and those willing to experiment with the digital (and environmentally friendly) format. Along with a description of the book and an author bio, the glossy, color cards--an effective promotional item on their own--include instructions on how to download ePub and PDF files onto Sony Readers, iPhones, Windows or Mac computers and other devices. Offerings included The Book of the Shepherd by the Scribe, aka Joann Davis (Harper Studio/October), and More of This World or Maybe Another (Harper Perennial/October), a collection of stories by New Orleans carpenter Barb Johnson. Director Guillermo del Toro's novel The Strain (Morrow/HarperAudio), the first in a vampire trilogy and on sale today, is available as an MP3 narrated by actor Ron Perlman. In true Hollywood fashion, there is a trailer for the book featuring actors performing a scene from the story.--Shannon McKenna Schmidt
Image of the Day: Innocents Abroad?
Missed at BEA, Jean Matthews and Russ Lawrence, who are giving up their shares in Chapter One Bookstore, Hamilton, Mont., have been busy preparing for their Peace Corps adventure in Peru (Shelf Awareness, May 8, 2009), for which they leave tomorrow. Ten days ago they took time for an event with a Mark Twain impersonator, Michael Delaney, in honor of Who Is Mark Twain? (HarperStudio.) Mark Twain used material from the book and answered questions in character.
BEA Panel: Reaching Boomer Book Buyers Online
Wired and Receptive panel moderator Carol Orsborn, senior strategist for VibrantNation, an online destination and social networking site for women 50 and older, opened her remarks to "a roomful of boomers" by noting the convergence of three forces: the publishing industry's "moment of deep introspection," the new media's "blurring of communication boundaries" and the fast-growing number of Americans age 50 and older. "Print books are here to stay," Orsborn continued, but the industry cannot deny or ignore the impact of online retailing, e-books or other new media trends. Stereotypes of behind-the-times boomers are wrong, she said, noting, "Boomers, especially boomer women 55-plus, [are] the fastest growing segment of Facebook."
Steve Riley, VibrantNation's founder and CEO, said women who visit his website for the "peer-to-peer information exchange" are "doing all the same things younger people are doing online" and are part of the first generation of people whose social networks increase rather than decrease as they age. "They're wired, they're networked, and they're buying books," he stated.
David Singleton, AARP's director of publications planning and promotion, supported Riley's statements, saying half of the 24 million readers of AARP the Magazine cite books as a top interest and visit the magazine's book pages in large numbers.
Ellen Archer, Hyperion president and publisher, touted the publisher's 2007 launch of Voice, an imprint targeting women in midlife, saying "this is the group of people who are making buying and executive decisions." She urged the industry to embrace and harness the digital marketplace by reaching boomers on all "digital platforms."
Steve O'Keefe, executive director of Patron Saint Productions, said he's been teaching and developing online marketing campaigns since the 1990s, focusing on children's books which, it was noted, are bought largely by grandparents and others ages 50 and older.
Asked to tell the SRO audience "what they most need to know," Riley said boomers must be reached through "every channel," including traditional print media as well as vertical (general membership) and horizontal (specialized users) websites. Singleton noted the popularity of AARP and PW's collaborative "Books for Grownups" bimonthly feature on his magazine 's site (tagline: What Our Generation Wants to Read) and the overwhelming response to the new online memoir writing group hosted by Abigail Thomas, author of Thinking About Memoir (AARP/Sterling). The organization's "multi-channel approach" to book marketing includes in-print, online, television, radio, podcasts and five one-minute author clips sent to three million members through the AARP Webletter, he said. "Boomers really do care about books."
Hyperion's Archer told publishers it's "time to break every single rule" when it comes to online book marketing and cited the counterintuitive success of The Last Lecture, which sold more than 4.5 million copies because/even though author Randy Pausch's last lecture was available in its entirety on YouTube. "The digital arena created this enormous demand for the book," she said.
O'Keefe of Patron Saint Productions also emphasized the tremendous cost-saving advantage of online marketing, citing his "guerrilla" method of teaching authors to deliver video presentations on multiple Internet channels and urging authors and publishers to use Skype so long as privacy setting precautions are taken. He continued: "Think about ways you can teach your authors to deliver a 45-minute or one-hour program on Skype," which can be delivered to classrooms and other venues.
O'Keefe drew laughs from the crowd when he described his 82-year-old mother--an Internet neophyte--Skypeing her way through the winter holidays.
VibrantNation's Riley reminded publishers that author videos can be made with a Flip camera, adding, "The tools that connect family and friends are the tools that are being adopted by boomers." AARP's Singleton observed, "With very little money and people who are really authentic, you can go a long way."
Although boomers express a continued attachment to the tactile experience of the physical book, Archer said "people are interested in both" e-books and the print work.
Instant demand and the steady proliferation of e-books will continue to challenge publishers' distribution models, the panelists agreed. "Book publishers will have to figure out how to get books into distributors and retail outlets more quickly," Singleton said.
Responding to a final audience question about Twitter, Riley said, "Twitter is a phenomenal marketing tool right now" and is "great for building personality" as well as "a great way to link people to your content." Like a tweet that goes over 140 characters, the Twitter discussion was cut short because panel time was up.--Laurie Lico Albanese
Media and Movies
Media Heat: The Mind-Beauty Connection
Tomorrow morning on the Today Show: Amy Wechsler, author of The Mind-Beauty Connection: 9 Days to Less Stress, Gorgeous Skin, and a Whole New You (Free Press, $16, 9781416562580/1416562583).
Tomorrow morning on Good Morning America: Paula Froelich, author of Mercury in Retrograde (Atria, $24, 9781416598930/1416598936).
Tomorrow on the Diane Rehm Show: Neil White, author of In the Sanctuary of Outcasts (Morrow, $25.99, 9780061351600/0061351601).
Tomorrow night on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart: Michael Lewis, author of Home Game: An Accidental Guide to Fatherhood (Norton, $23.95, 9780393069013/039306901X).
Movies: Polanski's The Ghost; Spielberg's Tintin
Director Roman Polanski recently wrapped shooting on the adaptation of Robert Harris's bestselling novel, The Ghost, starring Ewan McGregor, Pierce Brosnan, Kim Cattrall and Olivia Williams. Variety reported that while the story is set primarily on Martha's Vineyard, the actual locations were "on the German islands of Sylt in the North Sea and Usedom in the Baltic Sea, with interiors filmed at Babelsberg."
"In view of the ongoing debate over torture and enhanced interrogation techniques under the Bush administration, the film is sure to spark a firestorm of controversy," Variety wrote. "In Harris' novel, the British prime minister, played by Brosnan in the film, bears a striking resemblance to Tony Blair . . . Critics see The Ghost as an indictment of the war in Iraq and, specifically, of Blair and his unshakeable support of Bush's policies."
"Inevitably it will be a topic, but that's not what we're looking for," Polanski said.
Steven Spielberg's The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn will open in U.S. theaters December 23, 2011, "long after bowing internationally," according to Variety. Paramount Pictures and Sony Pictures Entertainment "will release Tintin in 3-D, a move that had been mulled for several months. Insiders said the dailies convinced them that 3-D would offer the best rendition."
Variety suggested that the earlier international release date "signals the two studios' belief that the property, which has been translated into 70 languages, shows stronger potential overseas than domestically. Not surprisingly, the film's cast skews international with Brit Jamie Bell starring as the intrepid young reporter. Daniel Craig, Andy Serkis, Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Gad Elmaleh, Toby Jones and Mackenzie Crook round out the cast."
Books & Authors
Awards: CBHL Literature; ForeWord; Wodehouse Prize
The winners of the Council on Botanical and Horticultural Libraries' annual literature awards, given to both the author and publisher of a work that makes a significant contribution to the literature of botany or horticulture, are:
- General interest: Fruits and Plains: The Horticultural Transformation of America by Philip J. Pauly (Harvard University Press)
- Technical category: Genera Palmarum: the Evolution and Classification of Palms by John Dransfield, Natalie W. Uhl, Conny B. Asmussen, William J. Baker, Madeline M. Harley, and Carl E. Lewis (Kew Publishing)
- Special recognition: TL-2, more formally known as Taxonomic Literature: a Selective Guide to Botanical Publications and Collections with Dates, Commentaries and Types, second edition (IDC Publishers)
At BEA, ForeWord magazine presented the 220 Book of the Year Award winners in 61 categories, "the best independently published books from 2008," which were selected by a panel of librarians and booksellers. To see the full list, click here.
The two Editor's Choice Prize winners, which come with a $1,500 cash prize, were:
- Fiction: HomeSpun by Nilita Vachani (Other Press)
- Nonfiction: American Earth: Environmental Writing Since Thoreau, edited by Bill McKibben (Library of America)
The University of Nebraska Press was named Independent Publisher of the Year and cited for "outstanding works of translation, regional fiction, poetry, and memoir" as well as "travel, sports, story, and scholarly books."
Geoff Dyer wins the pig . . . sort of. Dyer's novel, Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi, was named winner of the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse prize for comic fiction at the Guardian Hay festival, "where Dyer received the traditional prize of vintage champagne and a set of Wodehouse novels, as well as the honour of a locally-bred Gloucestershire Old Spot pig being named after his winning novel," the Guardian reported. "Restrictions on animal movements meant that for the second year running, the winner wasn't able to meet the newly christened pig."
"Geoff Dyer is a naturally funny writer," said James Naughtie, one of the judges. "It's a curious book in a way--it has two locations, one in Venice and the second in India. It's a book of two halves and it actually becomes a rather serious book--at least it takes on the serious subject of our spiritual journey in the world. But the whole spirit of the book is naturally comic and what is quite clear about Dyer is that he's got a real feel for the absurd. That's why we thought the should win this year."
Book Review: Fordlandia
Fordlandia: The Rise and Fall of Henry Ford's Forgotten Jungle City by Greg Grandin (Metropolitan Books, $27.50 Hardcover, 9780805082364, June 2009)
Henry Ford dreamed big as a matter of course, and in 1928 he decided to find and develop the ideal location to revive commercial-level rubber production in the depths of the Amazon rain forest. Greg Grandin tells the fascinating tale of Ford's campaign to transplant modern industrial methods that had succeeded for him in Detroit to the site he had selected along the Tapajós River, a branch of the Amazon. Brazil, of course, welcomed its illustrious benefactor with open arms (and, in many cases, open palms). But financial largesse and benevolent attitudes can mask less selfless motives in a donor's agenda. After all, latex was the sole component for his industry that Ford didn't control, and he had plans for changing that with his Brazilian venture.
As part of his jungle dream, Ford also planned to build a town, Fordlandia, that would showcase all the virtues of the American 19th century small-town life of his youth. Imagining Brazilian plantation workers thriving under his personal ideal of high wages and healthy, moral living, he "built Cape Cod-style shingled houses for his Brazilian workers and urged them to tend flower and vegetable gardens, and eat whole wheat bread and unpolished rice." Ballroom dancing and golf were leisure activities that he promoted. Nobody had the temerity to ask, "In the middle of the Amazon rain forest? Are you deranged?"
Even if people had challenged him, Ford was so fixated on his idea that he probably would have ignored them. The Amazon (or, rather, his idea of the Amazon) represented a fresh start in an environment he considered uncorrupted by all that he saw blighting the American commercial landscape (like unions). Ford believed his will, capital and expertise could mold the world and was either ignorant of, or dismissed, "the emotions of nationalism and deaf to the grievances of history."
For starters, humidity, rainfall, dense forest and bugs proved to be severe challenges for managers used to less extreme conditions in the American Upper Midwest. Fretting endlessly over finding a factory whistle that would not rust in the jungle, they remained dangerously clueless about the culture they had invaded. As one local priest astutely observed, the Ford men "never really figured out what country they were in." The inevitable came in December 1930, when a manager changed the way food was served to workers: he may have considered the change trivial, but the workers rioted and reduced Fordlandia to rubble. Today the site of Ford's dream town is a ghost city, decayed and overgrown, along the still-wild Tapajós.--John McFarland
Shelf Talker: Fordlandia is a fascinating object lesson about development projects initiated by uncomprehending financiers and a sobering tale of misguided charitable impulses.