Shelf Awareness for Thursday, September 24, 2009

Forge: Remembrance by Rita Woods

St. Martin's Press: Big Lies in a Small Town by Diane Chamberlain

Quirk Books: Forking Good: An Unofficial Cookbook for Fans of the Good Place by Valya Dudycz Lupescu and Stephen H Segal, illustrated by Dingding Hu

DC Zoom: Green Lantern: Legacy by Minh Le, illustrated by Andie Tong

Workman Publishing: Halloween Titles by Various - Click here for more information!


Notes: 'Storybook Season'; Nobel Odds (and Creative Spelling)

Because of a strong lineup of novels by well-known authors, this fall is shaping up as "a storybook season" for local indie bookstores, the Boston Globe said.

Jane Jacobs, buyer at Porter Square Books, Cambridge, Mass. "normally orders six to eight titles in quantities as great as a dozen copies apiece. And that's the upper end of what she expects to sell. This year she placed orders for two to three dozen copies of no fewer than 15 hardcover titles, one barometer of these A-list authors' collective drawing power," as the Globe put it. "I've been in business for 12 years, and I've never seen this many big-name authors publish in one season before," Jacobs said.

"It's the best fall we've seen in a long, long time for big [fiction] books," added Dana Brigham, co-owner of Brookline Booksmith.


Bookstore trailer of the day: Just Browsing, a documentary film about local independent bookstores in Buffalo, N.Y., including Talking Leaves Books. The film will be screened on Wednesday, September 30, at Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center, where filmmaker Yuichiro Yamada will discuss his work.


Yikes. Minnesota Daily reported that a man who allegedly stole two textbooks from the University of Minnesota Bookstore in Minneapolis was followed by security guards who caught up with him and wrestled with him atop a bluff over the Mississippi River. The man broke free but then slid over the edge of the bluff, eventually falling to the river's edge. He then tried to camouflage himself and hid in bushes, but police found him. He suffered a broken wrist and leg.

A deputy chief of the university police called the wrestle 'n' roll a message to thieves: "You don't want to have word spread amongst thieves that as long as they can make it out of the building they're fine, they're home free, so there should be a practice or a policy of trying to apprehend these individuals."


For Nobel Prize in Literature prognosticators, it's time to place your bets. The Complete Review's Literary Salon reported that Ladbrokes has posted odds, but cautioned that "the Ladbrokes folk really don't take this seriously. Among the misspelled author-names are: 'Luis Goytisola' (surely they mean Juan Goytisolo), 'Antoni Tabucchi,' 'Umberto Ecco,' The Kindly Ones author 'Jonathan Little,' and 'Michael Tournier.' And, as every year, Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o is listed under a name he hasn't published under in decades, James Ngugi." Top 10 betting favorites, "keeping Ladbrokes' (mis)spellings intact" include:

  • Amos Oz 4/1
  • Assia Djebar 5/1 
  • Luis Goytisola 6/1
  • Joyce Carol Oates 7/1
  • Philip Roth 7/1
  • Adonis 8/1
  • Antoni Tabucchi 9/1
  • Claudio Magris 9/1
  • Haruki Murakami 9/1
  • Thomas Pynchon 9/1


Effective January 1, Hachette Book Group will directly handle sales and distribution of Guinness World Records in the U.S. in all traditional trade channels.

Alistair Richards, managing director of Guinness World Records, commented: "Over the past eight years, Hachette has been a diligent partner in growing our business and we are looking forward to continuing this relationship for the years to come."

GP Putnam's Sons: Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid

July Results: Publisher Sales Rise 2%

In July, net sales of books rose 2% to $1.54 billion compared to July 2008 and were up 1.9% to $5.254 billion for the year to date, according to figures reported by 84 publishers to the Association of American Publishers.

Sales by categories:

  • E-books soared 213.5% to $16.2 million.
  • Professional and scholarly climbed 13.2% to $117.7 million.
  • Adult paperbacks jumped 9% to $124 million.
  • Adult hardcovers rose 6.9% to $88.7 million.
  • Children's/YA paperbacks rose 4.1% to $58.2 million.
  • Audiobooks grew 3.5% to $11.7 million.
  • Higher education rose 0.9% to $941.5 million.
  • University press paperbacks dropped 3.2% to $8.8 million.
  • Children's/YA hardcovers slipped 5.4% to $55.8 million.
  • Religious books dropped 9.3% to $42.4 million.
  • Adult mass markets fell 13.5% to $68.2 million.
  • University press hardcovers fell 15.1% to $5.2 million.
  • El-Hi dropped 32.2% to $675.9 million.



800-CEO-READ is now Porchlight - Click here to learn more!

Image of the Day: Author! Author!, Soon to Be Princeton Book Fest

Debbie Dadey and Brian Haig were just two of the authors signing their latest books at the first annual Author! Author! Book Festival held last Saturday in Princeton, N.J. Next year the show, sponsored by Chicklet Books, will be held September 25 and will be re-christened the Princeton Book Fest.


Cool Idea of the Day: Tarcher's Grand Act of Kindness

In an effort "to bring a little kindness (and a little cash)" to both consumers and booksellers and to promote The Power of Kindness: The Unexpected Benefits of Leading a Compassionate Life by psychotherapist and philosopher Piero Ferrucci, all 10 members of the Tarcher/Penguin staff will go to five bookstores in New York City during lunch hour on Wednesday, September 30, and hand out cash to book browsers--one dollar per person, "no coupons or strings attached." Tarcher hopes that the Kindness Cash initiative will lead readers to smile and pay that act of kindness forward.

Tarcher staff members, who will wear homemade Power of Kindness T-shirts. will hand out $200 at each of the following stores: Posman Books at Grand Central Terminal, McNally Jackson Booksellers, Borders on Park at 57th St., East West Living and St. Mark's Bookshop.

"When we saw how hard everyone was being hit by the economy this year, and particularly, our industry, we thought we would do something a little out of the box to help both booksellers and consumers," Tarcher/Penguin marketing manager Kevin Howell said.

Originally published in 2006, The Power of Kindness has "taken off through word of mouth over the last few years," according to the publisher. The Dalai Lama has called the title "a book after my own heart."


Anthology: New Bookstore Moving Forward with Old Scranton

Two weeks ago, the Book Buddies, sponsored by Bookazine and the New Atlantic Independent Booksellers Association, headed to Scranton, Pa., for their latest bookstore visit. The group of bookstore owners, employees and other book industry folks went to Anthology, a two-year-old new and used bookstore run by Andrea Talarico.

Anthology, with just under 3,000 square feet, is located on the second floor of a building that was the laundry facility for the Hotel Casey--in its day, a famous hotel in the Northeast. The building, in disrepair after years of non-use, was bought from the city and renovated by the owner, who later began renting it to Talarico (and her partner in an LLC who owns the downstairs business, a jewelry store and café).

"I just went to them with my business plan and said, 'You need a bookstore. Here's what I can do,'" Andrea told the group. Scranton, under the watchful eye of a three-term mayor who has been dedicated to rebuilding the city and who is very supportive of small businesses, lent Andrea the start-up money for her business after she presented what she envisioned for the store.

Talarico had worked for chain bookstores in the area for eight years, which inspired her to open her own bookstore. "There was no common space for people to gather, and I wanted to change that," she said. She did research, contacted the ABA, went to Paz & Associates' bookselling school and attended the Winter Institute before diving into the creation of the store. Now Anthology offers many events--improv nights, story hours, lectures on local history and, of course, author signings.

Most of the Book Buddies were surprised by what sells and what doesn't at Anthology. Talarico took out the political science, business and animal sections after she noticed few people were shopping them, but noted that poetry and philosophy are two of her strongest sections. Students, who love the selection of used books (and the ample seating in the store that complements the café downstairs), are a core part of Anthology's customer base. Local college students "come in and buy used philosophy books by the armload," she said. The other main group her store currently serves is young professionals, particularly women in their late 20s and early 30s.

The current mix of books at Anthology is approximately 85% used, 15% new. Talarico does not buy used books from customers, finding them instead primarily in bulk lots through events like estate sales. And though the selection of used books is outstanding--Jason Rice of Bookazine noted that "you can find some real gems here"--Talarico said she plans to keep the current selection while adjusting the ratio of new to used to 50-50. Her other two goals for the store are bigger signage, to make the placement of the store more evident, and acquiring and using an inventory system, which will be especially important as more new books come into the store.

Right now, Anthology's immediate focus is Scranton's first-ever book festival, which Talarico organized. The Pages & Places Book Fest will be held Saturday, October 3, and will host 30 authors and nine panels.

"Scranton has a forward-moving energy," Talarico told us, and it's clear that she, Anthology, and the book festival are all crucial parts of a town that is sprouting new businesses left and right. To keep an eye on this up-and-coming bookstore, become a fan on Facebook or follow it on Twitter. Or you can just visit them the old-fashioned way, in their beautiful store and see why the Book Buddies were so impressed by Anthology.--Stephanie Anderson

Media and Movies

Media Heat: LeBron James Continues Full Court Press

Tomorrow night on Larry King Live: Mackenzie Phillips, author of High on Arrival (Simon Spotlight, $25.99, 9781439153857/143915385X). She will also appear tomorrow tonight on Entertainment Tonight.


Tomorrow night on the Jay Leno Show: LeBron James, author with Buzz Bissinger of Shooting Stars (Penguin Press, $26.95, 9781594202322/159420232X). James is also on Jimmy Kimmel Live tomorrow tonight.


This Weekend on Book TV: National Book Festival

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, September 26

10 a.m.-5:15 p.m. C-Span features live coverage of the 2009 National Book Festival, held on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. More than 70 authors are participating. Details are available on the Library of Congress website. (Re-airs Saturday at 11 p.m.)

10 p.m. After Words. Chairman and executive director of Vets for Freedom Pete Hegseth interviews Kimberly Kagan, author of The Surge: A Military History (Encounter Books, $25.95, 9781594032493/1594032491). (Re-airs Sunday at 9 p.m. and Monday 12 a.m. and 3 a.m.)

Sunday, September 27

1 p.m. Rebiya Kadeer, author of Dragon Fighter: One Woman's Epic Struggle for Peace with China (Kales Press, $28.95, 9780979845611/0979845610), talks about the human rights challenges faced by Uyghurs in China. (Re-airs Sunday at 10 p.m.)

4 p.m. Jayne O'Donnell and Kit Yarrow, co-authors of Gen Buy: How Tweens, Teens and Twenty-Somethings Are Revolutionizing Retail (Jossey-Bass, $24.95, 9780470400913/0470400919), examine how members of "Generation Y," who shop 25%-40% more than the average consumer, have already changed marketing.

6 p.m. Hobson Woodward, author of A Brave Vessel: The True Tale of the Castaways who Rescued Jamestown and Inspired Shakespeare's The Tempest (Viking, $25.95, 9780670020966/0670020966), recounts the travels of William Strachey, an English poet who was bound for Jamestown in 1609 when his ship went off-course during a hurricane and landed in Bermuda. (Re-airs Monday at 7 a.m.)

8 p.m. Two members of the "Little Rock Nine" recall their participation in the integration of an Arkansas high school in 1957 and the years that followed. Carlotta Walls LaNier is the author of A Mighty Long Way: My Journey to Justice at Little Rock Central High School (One World/Ballantine, $26, 9780345511003/034551100X), and Terrence Roberts wrote Lessons from Little Rock (Butler Center for Arkansas Studies, $24.95, 9781935106111/1935106112). (Re-airs Monday at 6 a.m.)


Movies: The Host

Producers Nick Wechsler and Steve and Paula Mae Schwartz are using "their own money" to acquire screen rights to The Host, Stephenie Meyer's first adult novel, Variety reported. Andrew Niccol will write the script and direct.

Meyer "spurned several overtures for The Host," Variety continued. "The producers continued lobbying the author and her UTA reps with a significant offer, a strong vision for the project and a collaborative spirit. Meyer eventually said yes."

"We wanted Stephenie to be involved in the adaptation and have her endorse and be part of the creative decisions," Wechsler said.


Book Review

Mandahla: Spoon

Spoon by Robert Greer (Fulcrum Group, $24.95 Hardcover, 9781555916893, October 2009)

On the outskirts of Hardin, Mont., TJ Darley picks up a hitchhiker named Spoon, who's wearing a snow white cowboy hat with a Tom Mix block and no shoes. His explanation? "Shoes can be excess baggage when a man's in a hurry." A mile or so later he tells TJ that he's a part-black, part-Indian cowboy who'd just been fired from a ranch back down the road. He asks the young man if he has any idea where there might be a job for a first-class hand. TJ does, but his father is reluctant to hire anyone, although he can't keep the ranch going with just his son and his wife. This is familiar territory--the loner drifting into lives and making things right. In Robert Greer's confident hands, this story is told once again with quiet grace and a simple lyricism.

Arcus Witherspoon is a Vietnam vet working his way around the country, tracking down his family history and a claim to land his great-grandfather had owned. While Spoon has a purpose, TJ has no real sense of what he himself is chasing. He'd passed up a scholarship at the University of Montana in order to help at the ranch but knew he was hiding from life's necessary decisions.

Spoon is hired and soon becomes indispensable, but not without some friction as he settles in. TJ's mom observes that both her husband and Spoon are like wounded hawks scanning a cliff edge, looking for a perch but never quite locating a safe place to land. They find common ground as they work on the usual ranch problems--water rights, drought, sick animals, and now Acota, an energy company looking for coal, oil and gas, which had cheated ranchers out of their mineral rights and sometimes their land. The Darley ranch has thousands of acres of coal, and Acota is determined to break the alliance of ranchers opposed to the pillage, with violence if necessary.

Since the story is archetypal, there is little mystery as to the outcome, even with some tense moments and an explosive ending. But the journey is the point, and Spoon is not the only one to lead the way. TJ's mother, Marva, a New Yorker, now loves the ranch as much as TJ and his father, Bill, and is the moderate voice but with a fierce will. Bill, a Korean War vet, is stubborn, proud but quiet ("Braggin's not the kind of juice that ever fueled him.") and determined to keep his ranch intact. TJ says he's as stitched to the land as his father, and what a hard, beautiful place it is. "On wind-silent, ice-clear summer days, when the sky is gemstone blue and a few orphaned alabaster clouds hang motionless overhead, you can look from the western bluffs that border the fourteen thousand acres of my family's Willow Creek Ranch and see the Custer battlefield monument rising from the Bighorn riverbank in the northern distance."

Spoon rescues the Darleys' lives and way of life before he moves on, and the story of his time on their ranch and his wise (and sweet-talking) ways will linger. It starts in late summer, it ends the following autumn, and the sweetness and melancholy of the seasons perfectly complement this classic tale.--Marilyn Dahl

Shelf Talker: A classic tale of a drifter and the Montana ranch family he helps, told with wit and a Western elegance.

The Bestsellers

Top-Selling Titles in Chicagoland Last Week

The following were the bestselling titles at independent bookstores in the Chicago area during the week ended Sunday, September 20:

Hardcover Fiction

1. The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown
2. Homer & Langley by E.L. Doctorow
3. A Gate at the Stairs by Lorrie Moore
4. The White Queen by Philippa Gregory
5. The Help by Katherine Stockett

Hardcover Nonfiction

1. True Compass by Edward Kennedy
2. Strength in What Remains by Tracy Kidder
3. Zeitoun by Dave Eggers
4. Bad Mother by Ayelet Waldman
5. Lords of the Levee by John Coughlin

Paperback Fiction

1. Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout
2. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
3. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
4. The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery
5. Dragon House by John Shors

Paperback Nonfiction

1. My Life in France by Julia Child and Alex Prud'Homme
2. In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan
3. Freakonomics by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner
4. Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child, Louisette Bertholle and Simone Beck
5. When You Are Engulfed in Flames by David Sedaris


1. Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
2. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs by Judi Barrett
3. Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer
4. Me & My Animal Friends by Ralph Covert and Laurie Keller
5. Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

Reporting bookstores: Anderson's, Naperville and Downers Grove; Read Between the Lynes, Woodstock; the 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 booksellers and Carl Lennertz!]


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