Shelf Awareness for Friday, October 9, 2009

Houghton Mifflin: The Red Address Book by Sofia Lundberg

St. Martin's Press: Cilka's Journey: A Novel by Heather Morris

Park Row: The Ventriloquists (Original) by E.R. Ramzipoor

Henry Holt & Company: Torpedoed: The True Story of the World War II Sinking of "the Children's Ship" by Deborah Heiligman

Other Press: Metropolitan Stories by Christine Coulson

Rick Riordan Presents: Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky (Tristan Strong #1) by Kwame Mbalia

imon & Schuster Books for Young Readers: Becoming Rbg: Ruth Bader Ginsburg's Journey to Justice by Debbie Levy, illustrated by Whitney Gardner

Workman Publishing: Atlas Obscura, 2nd Edition: An Explorer's Guide to the World's Hidden Wonders (Second Edition, Revised) by Joshua Foer, Ella Morton, Dylan Thuras

Sourcebooks Explore: Survivors of the Holocaust: True Stories of Six Extraordinary Children by Kath Shackleton, illustrated by Zane Wittingham

Editors' Note


The Red Book Readers

Concerning our story yesterday about The Red Book by Carl Jung, just published by Norton, Patrick Covington of Accent on Books, Asheville, N.C., wrote:

Among our customers are husband-and-wife Jungian analysts who trained at the Jung Institute in Switzerland, where they saw--and got to touch!--the "ur-book" that you mentioned. They have been giving a series of Jungian seminars at the store and, as a result, we actually have a sizable list of orders for The Red Book--in the very low double digits--a pretty unusual occurrence for us for a $195 book.


NCIBA & SCIBA: Holiday Catalog


Notes: B&N to Launch E-Reader in November?; E-Estimates Rise

Barnes & Noble plans to begin selling its own brand of e-book reader as soon as November, according to the Wall Street Journal. "The device is expected to feature a six-inch screen from digital-paper maker E-Ink Corp. with touch input and a virtual keyboard, like the one used on Apple Inc.'s iPhone," the paper wrote. "The Barnes & Noble device is expected to also use a wireless connection to download books from the online e-book store that the books retailer unveiled in July."

The Journal speculated that B&N "could leverage its retail presence to market the product in ways that online-only retailer Inc. can't do as easily." Competition has already begun: earlier this week Amazon lowered the price of its basic Kindle to $259.


Speaking of which . . .

Sarah Rotman Epps, a media analyst at Forrester Research, "says the firm is revising its outlook on e-book readers. They're predicting stronger holiday sales than had been previously forecast and for that trend to carry over into 2010," according to NPR, which noted that Epps said the company "expects 3 million such devices, like the Amazon Kindle and Sony's line of e-book readers, to be sold in 2009. The previous estimate had been 2 million. Forrester expects sales to double in 2010, reaching 10 million cumulative e-reader sales by end the of next year."


Sales at Barnes & Noble stores during the nine weeks ended October 3 fell 3% to $665 million, and sales at stores open at least a year fell 4.1% during the same period. By contrast, at B&, sales rose 8% to $91 million.

B&N, which is changing its fiscal year following the purchase of Barnes & Noble College, predicted that during the quarter ended October 31, sales at stores open at least a year will fall 1%-3%. For the full fiscal year, ending April 30, comp-store sales are expected to fall 2%-4%.

In the college division, sales during the nine weeks ended October 3 rose 2% to $770 million, and comp-store sales fell 0.7%.

B&N predicted that comp-store sales at the college stores during October will fall 1%-3% and comp-store sales from September 30 until the end of the fiscal year, April 30, will be be flat (between up 1% and down 1%). Because of new store management contracts, overall college sales are expected to rise 1%-3%.


More on yesterday's Nobel Prize for Literature winner, Herta Mueller.

First, there has been some confusion about her name. Mueller has an umlaut over the u, which when used in newsletters like Shelf Awareness, often causes gibberish to appear where the letter would when arriving in readers' e-mailboxes. So using standard transliteration, we've added an "e" after the "u" in honor of the sacred umlaut. Mueller's American publishers, however, have rendered her name Muller.

In any case, among her titles issued here that we've discovered:

  • From Northwestern University Press, The Land of Green Plums (Hydra Books), a trade paperback edition, winner of the 1998 International IMPAC Literary Award. The press is reportedly printing another 20,000 copies.
  • Also from Northwestern, Traveling on One Leg (Hydra Books), a hardcover published in 1998.
  • From Metropolitan, The Appointment (Picador) and a hardcover version of The Land of Green Plums, both scheduled for reprintings.
  • From the University of Nebraska Press: Nadirs, published in hardcover and paperback as part of the European Women Writers series in 1999.


Yesterday Brooke Astor's son, Anthony Marshall, was convicted of looting his mother's estate after a five-month-long trial that included testimony from celebrities such as Barbara Walters, Henry Kissinger and Louis Auchincloss and that painted a sad portrait of the last years of Astor's life. As a result, there is a flurry of activity for Meryl Gordon, author of Mrs. Astor Regrets: The Hidden Betrayals of a Family Beyond Reproach (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $28, 9780618893737/0618893733). Gordon is making appearances on All Things Considered, ABC World News and 20/20, and her story on the verdict will run in Vanity Fair's December issue.


In Bookselling This Week, Barbara Theroux of Fact & Fiction, Missoula, Mont., recounts the People to People Book Industry Tour that she led last month to Beijing and Xi'an, China. The group included nine booksellers from seven stores, who visited bookstores and met with booksellers, publishers, wholesalers and authors.

One of many interesting observations: "Presently, China does not have private publishing houses, but many publishing houses have learned the ropes of operating in a competitive market economy and have launched private 'cultural companies' to handle packaging, corporate development planning, marketing, and other facets of their business. Some of the larger bookstore chains also have 'cultural companies,' which seem to allow private funding or financial backing toward the expansion of businesses."


Bookselling This Week also profiled the Booksmith, Seneca, S.C., owned by Tricia and Alan Lightweis, which marks its 20th anniversary this week. The store will celebrate during the first two weeks of November with discounts and parties.


After a contest to name its new Espresso Book Machine, Harvard Book Store, Cambridge, Mass., has dubbed the POD device Paige M. Gutenborg. The store received more than 500 suggested names. Among titles Paige has printed so far: "a 1891 Spanish text on conquistadores, a congressional survey on steam engines, a 19th-century French songbook and a classic work on Italian architecture."


W Magazine offers a Q&A with Ivy Pochoda, whose first novel, The Art of Disappearing (St. Martin's), has just appeared. Pochoda herself wrote on the Huffington Post about the joy of having your literary baby born on the same day as the publication of the latest Dan Brown novel. Pochoda's father is Phil Pochoda, director of the University of Michigan Press.


In a Huntington Post post yesterday, Elaine Petrocelli, president of Book Passage, Corte Madera and San Francisco, Calif., told the story of how Book Passage's Sheryl Cotleur encouraged Bellevue Literary Press to do a special, very limited hardcover print run of Tinkers by Paul Harding (a paperback book) so that it could be made a Book Passage First Edition Club selection. Collectors, after all, prefer hardcovers.


Also on the Huffington Post, Steve Ross, former president of Collins, has posted "Can't We All Just Get Along?"--A Manifesto of Sorts, in which he asks why, "at a time when it is in the best interests of everyone who loves books to help the major houses endure, they're being scapegoated, demonized and ridiculed for trying to survive with the crippling business model they've been handicapped with for decades."

He added: "Why can't we start talking among ourselves about the forces we face--the burden of preproduction costs in the era of free or too-cheap e-books, the stranglehold of the returnable model, the hidden costs of the highest bidder auction marketplace, to name a few--and share best practices and exchange ideas for the salvation of the industry and the perpetuation of Big and Important Books during this epochal period of transition?"


With a bookish nod toward its northern neighbor, the Oregonian reported that "in the coastal town of Sidney on Canada's Vancouver Island, it's all about the books--thousands of them scattered throughout 12 stores. . . . Literary mania is a year-round preoccupation in this seaside town of 11,000 people, who live about 20 miles from Victoria, British Columbia's capital. Wherever you are, there's a store on the next block. There's one next door. There's even one underground."


In other Canadian book news, the Montreal Gazette reported that in Laval's new Indigo outlet, "large portions of the 22,000-square-foot superstore are devoted to gifts, stationery, toys and music. The children's department will feature interactive displays. And French books will represent about 40% of the titles, an unprecedented percentage for the Toronto-based chain."

"Retail in general is a business that needs constant innovation," said Indigo's CEO Heather Reisman. "Every time we build a store, we change it. I call it the book lover's cultural department store. In many ways, our stores have become a public place where people want to be and gather. We're continually innovating in the mix and presentation. Laval, for instance, will have an area just for teens. Teens are reading more than ever now, and that's an excellent sign."


Effective in November, Kaplan Logistics will handle order fulfillment for Albert Whitman & Company, publisher of children's books, including the Boxcar Children Mysteries series.


Starscape Books: Freeing Finch by Ginny Rorby

NAIBA Report: Part 1

In his president's report at the New Atlantic Independent Booksellers Association fall conference in Baltimore, Md., held earlier this week, Joe Drabyak of Chester County Book Company, West Chester, Pa., drew a parallel to Henry V addressing the troops before the Battle of Agincourt: " 'We few, we happy few, we band of brothers.' We've weathered as a band of brothers a hard year as booksellers and as publishers. We must counsel each other and build community together."

Still, the band seemed hopeful: there were 200 booksellers from 72 bookstores in attendance, which held from past years. The association has 142 bookstore members and 67 publisher members. Ads were slightly down for the NAIBA catalogue; however it now includes staff picks from regional booksellers with notations. One new project is NAIBA Notables, which Drabyak said is not intended to replace the Indie Next list but rather to highlight "special homegrown elements" of the region, especially local authors.

During the "Morning Show," Mark LaFramboise of Politics & Prose, Washington, D.C., Susan Weis of breathe books, Baltimore, Md., and Jonathan Welch of Talking Leaves, Buffalo, N.Y., who was "not John Mutter," as Welch pointed out during his introduction [Editor's note: lucky man!], gave an overview of the industry in 60 minutes--with special guests and commercial breaks. Super Bowl ad-caliber highlights included Helmuth Sales Rep of the Year Tim Hepp dressed as Satan to promote John Connolly's The Gates (S&S) and Joe Drabyak and Susan Weis demonstrating the "eat" in "Eat. Sleep. Read." with an authorless event to create chocolate espresso pound cake from Anne Byrn's The Cake Mix Doctor Returns (Workman). Drabyak said he tried to get Weis to dress up as a nurse; she said, "I didn't know it was for the show." Cake samples were consumed at the conclusion.

Special guest Kristen McLean, executive director of the Association of Booksellers for Children noted:

  • Children's books have grown almost every year since 2002, and are up 11% this year.
  • The only exception to that growth was in 2008, when children's paperback sales continued to rise.
  • Children's books and toys appear to be recession-proof; adults will cut back for themselves but not for their children.
  • Scroll Motion is about to roll out its first application for children's books for the iPod; early testing shows parents hope this will replace video games rather than actual books.
  • A 2005 Cambridge University study found that today's teens are light years beyond their pre-technology counterparts in terms of literacy and that technology has played a key role in building that literacy.

Special guest Chris Finan, president of the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, said:

  • There were 500 challenges to books in schools and libraries last year.
  • First amendment issues have come up in connection with book signings by controversial authors and with police who have subpoenas for bookstore customer information.
  • According to the Justice Act of 2009, the FBI can still demand records of book purchases without demonstrating evidence of criminal conduct. "We want to limit that to 'proven' terrorist conduct," Finan said.
  • Congress recently banned any depiction of animal cruelty, including photos or videos, "and if you sell it you can be fined," according to Finan. Currently there's no definition of what the law deems of "serious value." Does Hemingway's Death in the Afternoon qualify?
  • Finan urged booksellers to join ABFFE, which is separate from the ABA (membership is $50), and to use Banned Book Weeks as a way of "establishing a conversation with your customers and helping make them a reserve of support."

Sean Concannon from Parson Weems Publisher Services gave a bitingly good weather report: Hurricane Riggio was stalled by an Amazonian weather system originating in the Pacific Northwest. His advice, "Batten down the galleys, pump up the customer service . . . and beware of outmoded gadgetry." He also wished a happy birthday to, among others, Moravian Book Shop, celebrating 254 years; Otto Book Store at 132 years; and the Drama Bookshop at 92 years.

In a point-counterpoint debate on e-books, Mark LaFramboise introduced Jonathan Welch, "who predicts they're the end of the world," and Jenn Northington, manager at breathe books, who believes "they're not the end of the world." Northington argued that booksellers "can be a guide to the e-book world" and explain the differences between various e-readers and the Kindle. "Then you're already part of the discussion, so that when they're ready, you sell them the e-books," she reasoned. Welch said that everyone needs to remember "what gets lost in a world in which we go all-digital. Is there even a need for bookstores and publishers? The number of customers who have to have [e-books] is small. Amazon wants us to think it's bigger." Northington said she carries 10 books on her iPod: "As a book lover, what beats 10 books in your pocket?" "The feel of a book, the print on the paper, the experience of the bookshop, finding things you didn't know you were looking for," Welch responded. If you're worried about running out of reading material, he said, "Take Gravity's Rainbow." Northington countered, "We're not just selling books, we're a third place, a community hub, a place to talk, to be educated."--Jennifer M. Brown


Blue Rider Press:  One Day: The Extraordinary Story of an Ordinary 24 Hours in America by Gene Weingarten

Media and Movies

Media Heat: On Columbus Day, A Country Called Amreeka

Sunday on All Things Considered: Alton Brown, author of Good Eats: The Early Years (Stewart, Tabori & Chang, $37.50, 9781584797951/1584797959).


Monday morning on Good Morning America: Sanjay Gupta, author of Cheating Death: The Doctors and Medical Miracles that Are Saving Lives Against All Odds (Wellness Central, $24.99, 9780446508872/044650887X). He is also on the Colbert Report Monday night.


Monday morning on the Today Show: Richard Belzer, author of I Am Not a Psychic! (Simon & Schuster, $24, 9781416570899/1416570896).

Also on Today: Jim Cramer, author of Jim Cramer's Getting Back to Even (Simon & Schuster, $26, 9781439158012/1439158010).


Monday on NPR's On Point: Alia Malek, author of A Country Called Amreeka: Arab Roots, American Stories (Free Press, $25, 9781416589723/1416589724).


Monday on the Tavis Smiley Show: Vali Nasr, author of Forces of Fortune: The Rise of the New Muslim Middle Class and What It Will Mean for Our World (Free Press, $26, 9781416589686/1416589686).


Monday on Fox News's Glenn Beck Show: Vince Flynn, author of Pursuit of Honor (Atria, $27.99, 9781416595168/1416595163).


Monday on the Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson: Mitch Albom, author of Have a Little Faith: A True Story (Hyperion, $23.99, 9780786868728/0786868724).


imon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books: Max & Ruby and Twin Trouble (Max and Ruby Adventure) BY Rosemary Wells

Movie: The Boys Are Back

The Boys Are Back, a new movie starring dreamy Clive Owen and two swell kids, George MacKay and Nicholas McAnulty, just opened. It's a quiet, charming movie about a widower--a sportswriter in Australia--with two sons to raise. It should create demand for Simon Carr's memoir from Vintage ($14, 9780307476272/0307476278).--Marilyn Dahl


Books & Authors

Awards: Forward Poetry Prize; High Plains Book Awards

Don Paterson won the £10,000 (US$15,941) Forward prize for poetry with his collection Rain. In besting a distinguished shortlist, which included Peter Porter, Sharon Olds and Glyn Maxwell, he was praised by the judges for his "total mastery of his art," the Guardian reported.

"It was a close call," said judge David Harsent. "These are some extremely gifted poets and it was an atrociously strong shortlist. Had it been a poor season I suppose one could have said there were one or two stand-out books, but that simply was not the case here. Every book on the shortlist had to be thought about very carefully, and there was by no means a country mile victor."

The Striped World by Emma Jones earned the £5,000 award for best first collection, and the single poem prize went to Robin Robertson's "At Roane Head."


Louise Erdrich was honored with an emeritus award during the High Plains Book Awards banquet at Montana State University last weekend. Other winners included Leif Enger's So Brave, Young and Handsome (fiction), In Contemporary Rhythm: The Art of Ernest L. Blumenschein by Peter H. Hassrick and Elizabeth J. Cunningham (nonfiction), Margot Kahn's Horses That Buck (first book), Craig Arnold's Made Flesh (poetry) and Jennifer Graf Broneberg's Road Map to Holland (Zonta Award for best woman writer).

As the Billings Gazette noted, the High Plains Book Awards "were established by Parmly Billings Library trustees and recognize regional writers or literary works examining and reflecting life on the High Plains."


Shelf Starters: Snail

Snail by Peter Williams (University of Chicago Press, $19.95 paper, 9781861895288/1861895283, October 15, 2009)

Opening lines of books we want to read:

So attached was the author Patricia Highsmith to snails that they became her constant travelling companions. Secreted in a large handbag or, in the case of travel abroad, carefully positioned under each breast, they provided her with comfort and companionship in what she perceived to be a hostile world.

Theirs was an unusual relationship: one normally reserved for a dog or a cat. For most human beings just the mention of the word snail brings out a negative response; certainly not warmth or affection or a desire to share living space . . . Try looking at the shelves of any bookshop for a volume on snails that is complimentary to them and you will be disappointed. The language is often heated and full of military metaphors.

--Selected by Marilyn Dahl

Book Brahmin: Laura Anne Gilman

In 1994, when she was a young book editor, Laura Anne Gilman took the plunge into murky writing waters, submitting her first story to a professional market. A sale followed almost immediately. She didn't make another fiction sale for more than a year, which taught her humility and patience and the fine art of perseverance. In 2004, she made the move to full-time writer with the publication of her first novel, Staying Dead. Her latest novel is Flesh and Fire: Book One of the Vineart War, to be published by Pocket next Tuesday, October 13. She lives in New York City. Learn more about her at

On your nightstand now: 

Marco Polo: From Venice to Xanadu by Laurence Bergreen and Cherie Priest's Not Flesh nor Feathers. I like to alternate fiction and nonfiction to keep my brain limber. I admit, though, I tend to take a while reading the books on my nightstand. Usually by the time I fall into bed, my brain wants nothing more challenging than the Late Late Show. As a former history major, popular history (and sometimes UNpopular history) is like catnip.
Favorite book when you were a child: 

Taran Wanderer by Lloyd Alexander. I loved the entire series, but I took that one out of the library so many times the librarians must have thought I was fixated or obsessed. I have my own copy now, autographed by Alexander the year before his death. Still love it. There's something so stripped down but still complex about the story. Adult and YA writers alike should be required to read it.

Your top five authors: 

Randomly Peter Beagle, Graham Joyce, Nora Roberts, Dorothy Sayers, Isaac Bashevis Singer. All for totally different reasons, but it comes down to giving me a shiver of physical anticipation while I'm reading. I have a very physical reaction to good writing, so a writer who makes me want to put the book down and move--because I'm so energized by their language and storytelling--that's an author who stays on my shelf.

Book you've faked reading: 

Asimov's Foundation trilogy. I tend not to fake reading many books because life's too short to pretend to have read something you didn't, especially if there was a reason you stopped reading. "It bored me" is a legitimate reason not to keep reading. Life's too short to read/eat/watch something you don't enjoy. But man, Asimov. The Foundation trilogy. It's tough to admit you couldn't make it through that one, when you're working in the SF genre.  I may have to fall on my sword, now.

Book you're an evangelist for: 

A Fine and Private Place by Peter Beagle. I think that anyone and everyone in a relationship should read and reread that book a regular basis, just to remind yourself of how fragile and how precious our own delusions are.

Book you've bought for the cover: 

None. I may pick up a book because the cover intrigues, but I'm sold on the copy/page browse. If I love the cover, I might go looking for the art, though. The SF/F field has some exceptional artists who know how to balance good cover requirements with striking fine art.

Book that changed your life: 

Oh. So many changed my direction at the moment I read them, it's hard to choose . . . but maybe Have His Carcase by Dorothy L. Sayers. I was a teenager, recovering from mono, and was given the Sayers omnibus by my aunt, while I was stuck in bed. I don't think I'd ever read a mystery before, other than some Three Detectives/Nancy Drew/Hardy Boys when I was a kid, except to poke my nose into an Agatha Christie, and I hadn't been impressed. But I read these, and I discovered that it wasn't all timetables and lists and "As You Know, Joe" dialogue, but personalities and psychology. It wasn't just about who and when, but why. "Why" hooked me. Still does.

Favorite line from a book:

I'd be lying if I said I could narrow it down to five, much less one. It's probably something from Sayers, though.

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

Laurie King's The Beekeeper's Apprentice. I was working as an editor when the it came out and still remember the total and astonished joy I got out of discovering that book, the feeling of "oh no she didn't" turning into "oh, she did" and then "wow, she DID." I wanted badly for the company I worked for to pick up the paperback rights, but it didn't happen. 

Deeper Understanding

Robert Gray: Conversation in Trade Show World

I just ran the numbers. During the three-plus years that I've been writing for Shelf Awareness, the term "conversation" has appeared in 75 (or about half) of my columns. This means either I'm terminally redundant or the word really matters in our business. For obvious reasons, I lean toward the second option.

Between Thursday, September 24, and Sunday, October 4, I spent eight of the eleven days in conversation with booksellers, writers and publishers at the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance trade show in Greenville, S.C. and the Great Lakes Independent Booksellers Association show in Cleveland, Ohio.

Trade Show World is a suspended state of time and reality that I happen to love. It has its definite advantages over real life, including room service, daily housekeeping and hotel lobbies full of people who care deeply about books and aren't afraid to say so.

There are seemingly endless streams of conversations going on when you're living temporarily in Trade Show World. These include casual, person-to-person chats; public exchanges during panels, workshops and seminars; small group discussions at luncheons and dinners; and the serial chatting near book-laden display tables on the exhibition floor.

Most of these conversations are simultaneously private and public. I learn things that inform, and sometimes alter, my views about the book trade, but I consider them off the record and you won't see those quotes here. I'm not so much protecting sources as honoring the spirit of conversation by recognizing a borderline.

Wherever you are in Trade Show World, though, you're talking books. All books all the time. And, of course, you're listening. Being a good listener is arguably the more important skill.

So let me tell you a few of the things I heard while talking about, and listening to others talk about, the world of books during my recent pilgrimage to Trade Show World.

Technically, the longest conversation I had was with novelist Joseph Kanon (Stardust). On Friday, September 25, I attended a "Before We Were Authors" panel at SIBA, during which Joe said that when he worked in publishing, writers would often say, "I hear you work on the dark side." Later, at publishing parties after he began his career as a novelist, people joked, "You've gone over to the dark side."

So now we know a trade secret. Apparently we all inhabit the same side of the book planet. Maybe somebody should hit the light switch.

After Joe's panel, we talked briefly. I'd first met him in the 1990s when he read from Los Alamos at the bookstore where I worked. What made our recent conversation epic in length was that we were interrupted (duty called for both of us) and we didn't finish our chat until we saw one another again at a signing table in Cleveland a week later after GLiBA's Booksellers Banquet. Such are the mysterious ways of Trade Show World.

What else did I hear? Novelist Elizabeth Kostova (The Swan Thieves) acknowledged an enthusiastic greeting from booksellers at the SIBA Supper by saying, "I just feel we should applaud you."

During the "Taste of HarperCollins Breakfast," Ron Rash (Serena) compared SIBA to "a family reunion because I see so many people I know. I guess it's more like Heaven."

Belief was in the air at the GLiBA Book Awards luncheon. "I truly believe that if you get one book into the hand of a child, that will lead to another and another. It will open a wider world," said children's picture book winner Heather Henson, author of That Book Woman. And Pamela Todd, who received the children's chapter book award for her novel, The Blind Faith Hotel, observed: "I really believe that books can save us. You give a book to someone and it creates a chain reaction."

The keynote speaker at GLiBA's Authors Feast was Dan Chaon (Await Your Reply), who said that "one of the things we can draw upon as author and bookseller is that books are not products. Individual books are not interchangeable." Writing, he added, "is a small private discourse between a writer and a sympathetic reader. I think what you are doing is really adding to the good karma of the universe."

Or, as Becky Anderson Wilkins, co-owner of Anderson's Bookshop, Naperville, Ill., so eloquently observed in her acceptance speech after receiving GLiBA's Voice of the Heartland Award, "We fight for our businesses. We fight for each other. We fight for our communities. . . . I have learned so much from these books, but I have learned so much more from you." The conversation continues.--Robert Gray (column archives available at Fresh Eyes Now)


Powered by: Xtenit