Shelf Awareness for Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Harper: Going Zero by Anthony McCarten

Yen Press: I Want to Be a Wall, Vol. 2 by Honami Shirono, translated by Emma Schumacker

Wednesday Books: Girls Like Girls by Hayley Kiyoko

Berkley Books: Mrs. Nash's Ashes by Sarah Adler

Berkley Books: Meet Me at the Lake by Carley Fortune

Pantheon Books: Chain Gang All Stars by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah


In Praise of The Chambers Dictionary

On the occasion of the closing of publisher Chambers Harrap, Scotland native Robin Dunn, director of the St. John's College Bookstore, Annapolis, Md., wrote:

In my more tender years, there must have been at least three dozen sizable publishers in Edinburgh (and more in Glasgow, not least the pre-Harper/Murdoch Collins). There was much wailing and anguish when Chambers lost its independence (even if it was to the French rather than to "the neighbours.") Now this. As was famously said at the time of the loss of the country's political independence in 1707, it's "the end o’ a lang sang."

Fortunately, the abyss left by the departed has been shrinking, thanks notably to Canongate (founded in 1973) and Mainstream (1978).

The Chambers Dictionary is the bestselling English-language dictionary at SJC Bookstore. If you suspect nationalist-inspired handselling, by the way, you'd be wrong. It's because the word got out long ago that it's simply THE best. Why? Well, I could spout off about comprehensiveness, layout, presentation of examples and pronunciation and so forth. In all those respects it's excellent--but the biggest reason is that (so to speak) it converses with English as an entire family, rather than selecting just one of its members to interview. Thus, Chambers offers standard "British" English--which mostly means English English--cheek by jowl with U.S., Australian, Caribbean, Scots, Canadian, South African, New Zealand, Irish and other variations of usage and spelling. Such versatility makes it uniquely useful among dictionaries.

Weiser Books: Mexican Sorcery: A Practical Guide to Brujeria de Rancho by Laura Davila


Notes: B&N Nook Knocked; Authors Group Publishing E-Only

Spring Design has sued Barnes & Noble, alleging that B&N's Nook e-reader copies features of an e-book that Spring Design developed and showed to B&N, Venture Beat reported. The suit cites in particular the dual screens both e-readers have--one black-and-white for reading books and the other in color for shopping for books.


Book View Press, which was launched by Book View Café, a group of 27 authors who include Ursula Le Guin, is publishing its first book, Rocket Boy and the Geek Girls, a sci-fi anthology title, the Bookseller reported. Like all Book View Press titles, the debut book will be published only in e-book format. The Press will publish titles only by Cafe members.

"The e-publishing infrastructure is now firmly in place," said project manager Sarah Zettel. "BVC authors have both content and the experience to take full advantage of it."


Book apps now top game apps as the most popular category downloaded to iPhones. Flurry, an analytics firm, has published "a report which shows that games were the number one category of apps downloaded on the iPhone every month from August 2008 until August 2009," the Telegraph reported. "However, in the last four months, book apps have exceeded the popularity of games apps--with one out of every five new apps launching in October having been a book. In September, games apps were overtaken by book apps for the first time."


Book trailer of the day: Hard Work: A Life On and Off the Court by Roy Williams with Tim Crothers (Algonquin).


A different kind of annual best books list: from the U.K., Bookmunch offers the first 10 of the 50 books "you'll want to read in 2010."


"With a bustling tech space and more book stores per capita than any other city nationwide, Seattle has become known as both a geek town and a book town," wrote Monica Guzman on the Seattle Post Intelligencer's Big Blog, where she offered reasons "why tech can save Seattle's book stores."

In the wake of this weekend's announcement that Bailey Coy Books will close (Shelf Awareness, November 2, 2009), Guzman suggested that "while local support can help the indie bookstores, it can't save them. Seattleites love both literature and technology. As far as they're concerned, e-readers like the Kindle give them both. Unless indie book stores up their tech appeal, more of them will fall, along with Seattle's treasured No. 1 bookstore-per-capita ranking."


Obituary note: Robert Dike Blair, a former bookseller, died last Saturday. He worked for the Doubleday Book Shop chain and became manager of the Detroit store until 1949, when he founded the Vermont Book Shop in Middlebury, Vt. Under the Vermont Books imprint, he became a publisher, too, and wrote Books and Bedlam. One longtime customer, Robert Frost, said that Blair could read his mind and knew just what book he had come for.

A board member of the American Booksellers Association, Blair sold Vermont Book Shop in 1993 to Laura and John Scott. It is now owned by Becky and Chris Dayton.


Effective today, Lisa Gallagher, formerly senior v-p and publisher of William Morrow, has joined Sanford J. Greenburger Associates as a literary agent.

Gallagher plans to concentrate on author advocacy and active publisher partnerships, saying, "I want to apply my extensive marketing experience to help bring writers and their work to the widest possible audience across various media and formats."

Before joining Morrow in 2000, Gallagher moved to New York to open the U.S. office of Bloomsbury Publishing, where she had worked in London for several years.

She may be reached at and 212-206-5667.


Effective December 1, Madeline McIntosh is returning to Random House in the new position of president, sales, operations and digital. She will also join the Random House international executive board.

For the past year, McIntosh has been's director of Kindle content acquisition for Europe and has been living in Luxembourg. Before that, she worked at Random House and Bantam Doubleday Dell for 14 years, most recently as publisher of the Audio Publishing Division and earlier in various sales positions, including senior v-p, director, adult sales.


Angie Lee has been promoted to v-p of marketing at Harper. She joined the company in 2005 as a senior marketing director for Collins and since February has been working on various titles at HarperCollins. Earlier she was a marketing director at Teach for America and worked at News America Marketing.


Soho Press: Black Dove by Colin McAdam

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Bird and Magic on the Tonight Show

Tomorrow morning on Good Morning America: Steve Harvey, author of Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man: What Men Really Think About Love, Relationships, Intimacy, and Commitment (Amistad, $23.99, 9780061728976/0061728977).

Also on GMA: Brooke Desserich and Keith Desserich, authors of Notes Left Behind (Morrow, $19.99, 9780061886393/0061886394).


On tomorrow morning's Fox and Friends: Joel Osteen, author of It's Your Time: Activate Your Faith, Achieve Your Dreams, and Increase in God's Favor (Free Press, $25, 9781439100110/143910011X). He will also appear on CNN's Campbell Brown, American Morning and the View tomorrow.


Tomorrow on the Early Show: Sandra Brown, author of Rainwater (Simon & Schuster, $23.99, 9781439172773/1439172773).


On NPR's On Point tomorrow: Toby Lester, author of The Fourth Part of the World: The Race to the Ends of the Earth, and the Epic Story of the Map That Gave America Its Name (Free Press, $30, 9781416535317/1416535314).


Tomorrow on Ellen: Jonathan Safran Foer, author of Eating Animals (Little, Brown, $25.99, 9780316069908/0316069906).


Tomorrow on the Diane Rehm Show: Barbara Kingsolver, author of The Lacuna (Harper, $26.99, 9780060852573/0060852577).

Also on Diane Rehm: Jim Rosapepe, co-author of Dracula Is Dead: How Romanians Survived Communism, Ended It, and Emerged Since 1989 as the New Italy (Bancroft Press, $25.95, 9781890862657/1890862657).


Tomorrow on E!'s Chelsea Lately and True Hollywood Story: Valerie Bertinelli, author of Finding It: And Satisfying My Hunger for Life Without Opening the Fridge (Free Press, $26, 9781439141632/1439141630).


Tomorrow on the Campbell Brown Show: Lee Eisenberg, author of Shoptimism: Why the American Consumer Will Keep on Buying No Matter What (Free Press, $26, 9780743296250/0743296257).


Tomorrow night on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart: Al Gore, author of Our Choice: A Plan to Solve the Climate Crisis (Rodale, $26.99, 9781594867347/1594867348). The former Vice President is also on the View tomorrow morning.


Tomorrow night on the Colbert Report: Harold Evans, author of My Paper Chase: True Stories of Vanished Times (Little, Brown, $27.99, 9780316031424/0316031429).


Tomorrow night on the Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien: Larry Bird and Earvin "Magic" Johnson, authors of When the Game Was Ours (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $26, 9780547225470/0547225474).


Tomorrow on the Late, Late Show with Craig Ferguson: Stephen Fry, author of Stephen Fry in America: Fifty States and the Man Who Set Out to See Them All (Morrow, $34.99, 9780061456381/0061456381).

Arcade Publishing: A Mysterious Country: The Grace and Fragility of American Democracy by Normal Mailer, edited by Michael J. Lennon and John Buffalo Mailer

Movies: In the Neighborhood

Red Om Films, Julia Roberts' production company, has acquired film rights to In the Neighborhood by Peter Lovenheim, which is scheduled to be published next April by Perigee. Variety reported that the book "starts with Lovenheim's realization of a lack of community in his suburban hometown. In an effort to get to know his neighbors better, he asks if he can come to their homes for sleepovers. His goal: to facilitate something more than the feeling of strangers living with strangers in modern suburbia." Roberts is currently shooting Eat, Pray, Love.


G.P. Putnam's Sons: The Only Game in Town by Lacie Waldon

Books & Authors

Awards: World Fantasy, Prix Goncourt Winners

Winners of the 2009 World Fantasy Awards:

  • Life Achievement: Ellen Asher and Jane Yolen
  • Novel: The Shadow Year by Jeffrey Ford (Morrow) and Tender Morsels by Margo Lanagan (Knopf)
  • Novella: "If Angels Fight" by Richard Bowes (F&SF, Feb. 2008)
  • Short Story: "26 Monkeys, also the Abyss" by Kij Johnson (Asimov's, July 2008)
  • Anthology: Paper Cities: An Anthology of Urban Fantasy, edited by Ekaterina Sedia (Senses Five Press)
  • Collection: The Drowned Life by Jeffrey Ford (HarperPerennial)
  • Artist: Shaun Tan
  • Special Award--Professional: Kelly Link and Gavin J. Grant (for Small Beer Press and Big Mouth House)
  • Special Award--Non-professional: Michael J. Walsh (for Howard Waldrop collections from Old Earth Books)

Marie NDiaye has won the Prix Goncourt for her Trois Femmes Puissantes (Three Powerful Women) and is the first woman in a decade and the first black woman to win the French literary prize, the New York Times reported. The novelist and playwright told Agence France-Presse that she did not see symbolism in her victory. "I have never thought of it in those terms: 'black woman' and 'Goncourt.' I find it impossible to see things that way." NDiaye grew up in France and did not travel to Africa until she was in her 20s.

Shelf Starters: Yours Ever

Yours Ever: People and Their Letters by Thomas Mallon (Pantheon, $26.95, 9780679444268/0679444262, November 10, 2009)


Opening lines of books we want to read:

It embarrasses me to admit that I began writing this book when a first-class stamp cost twenty-nine cents. Well, here we are, the price a third again as much and I a third again as old, and my excuses no better than what one usually offers when finally answering a letter that's been under the paperweight for ages longer than one ever meant it to be.

But a person can't adequately procrastinate without at least one semi-valid rationalization, and so here's mine: if this book had come out, as it was supposed to, around 1997, it would have appeared just as e-mail was reaching Everyman and beginning to kill, or revive (there are both schools of thought), the practice and art of letter writing. Whichever the case, the book would have come ashore just as a sea change was making the waters even more interesting.

--Selected by Marilyn Dahl

Deeper Understanding

Namastechnology: Holidays

If the regional shows are over, that means it's time for the holidays. Already? Yep.

There are, of course, a million things that we and our stores do to get ready for the holidays, but in addition to bulk-ordering gift wrap and trying to figure where in hell to put all the 2010 calendars, here are two technology-oriented suggestions that will, with any luck, increase sales for the holidays and beyond.

The first is to make better use of IndieBound wish lists. For people who can't get enough books--namely us, and our customers--there are few pleasures like imagining the perfect library. Unfortunately, many book people don't receive books as holiday gifts because it's impossible to know what to buy them. I solved this problem last year by making an IndieBound wish list; I was rewarded with neat little stacks in that beautiful trade paperback shape under the tree.

Start with your own. You undoubtedly see plenty of books every day that you wish you owned and have to force yourself not to buy. I'm here to tell you that putting them back on the shelf is a lot easier if you add them to your Indiebound wish list at the same time. If you don't already have a list, this is one of the easiest things you can do with a computer; go here to start.

The other part of the wish list, though, is making sure people know about it. So e-mail it to friends and family when they ask what you want this year, put a link in your e-mail signature, your e-newsletter and on the website (check out our holiday wishlists!) and mention it whenever you can.

Most important: make it easy for people to buy the books. The wish list lets you indicate your favorite stores. Resist the urge to put your own up top (after all, it's not much of a surprise if you process your own Christmas present). Instead, add the stores that are closest to the folks doing the buying. For example, my family lives in central New York State, Doylestown, Pa., and North Carolina. So I listed the river's end, Doylestown Books and Quail Ridge, and told my family that they could make any present they give me even better by buying it at an independent bookstore. You can see how this looks by checking out my wish list. There are 1,350 bookstore members of the ABA. Can you imagine the impact if just one person from each store across the country convinced their families to do the same?

The second suggestion relates to this somewhat alarming statistic: one in five people recently surveyed will be requesting an e-reader for a gift this holiday season. That is much higher than I would have guessed. How many of those people are your regular customers? And how many of those customers know they can buy e-books from your website, but only if they DON'T buy a Kindle?

At the store I work for, we'll be preparing for this by hanging in-store signs, posting information on our website, and writing an article for our newsletter about WORD and e-books. For a great example of how an independent bookstore addressed e-readers and e-books with their customers, check out this article from a recent Politics & Prose newsletter. Barbara Meade and Carla Cohen, in their customary note to customers at the top of the newsletter, wrote a fantastic piece on how Politics & Prose is  now selling e-books, and what they're planning. "We find ourselves on this e-book voyage (whether by train or rocket ship) and we are observing with you both how the platforms develop and how the publishers respond," they write.  (The responses from customers are not to be missed, either, and can be read here.)

As you can see from that newsletter, it is possible to talk about e-books with a sense of humor, while being honest with your customers about your reservations and your desire to serve them in whichever way is best for them. Here, for example, is the poster we'll be hanging in WORD:

This reads: "Thinking about an e-reader this holiday season but worried that means you'll never visit your favorite indie bookstore again?

"Don't be silly! Having an e-reader doesn't mean you can't still love WORD! And WORD will still love you, too, because though you only see physical books on our shelves, you can buy e-books on our website.

"Confused by all the choices? Just like you'd ask our staff for a book recommendation, please ask us for more information on e-readers and e-books. We'd love to help!"
As you can see from the responses to Politics & Prose, this is a conversation that customers are happy to have with you, and there's no better time than now, before people customarily make their big technological purchases for the year.

What other things are you doing to get your store ready for the holidays technologically? Noting your extended store hours on the website? Mentioning your free gift wrap prominently on the home page? Working on a holiday gift suggestion newsletter to use up the rest of that newsletter co-op? E-mail your suggestions to Anderson, manager of WORD bookstore, Brooklyn, N.Y.


The Bestsellers

Top-Selling Titles at in October

The 10 bestselling titles at in October:

  1. Johnny Got His Gun by Dalton Trumbo
  2. A Hell of a Woman by Jim Thompson
  3. The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov
  4. Crafting and Executing Strategy by Arthur Thompson
  5. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
  6. A Separate Peace by John Knowles
  7. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
  8. The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest by Stieg Larsson
  9. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
  10. The Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson

The 10 bestseling signed books at in October:

  1. Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel
  2. Return to the Hundred Acre Wood by David Benedictus
  3. The Children’s Book by A.S. Byatt
  4. Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann
  5. The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
  6. Last Night in Twisted River by John Irving
  7. In Other Rooms, Other Wonders by Daniyal Mueenuddin
  8. Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger
  9. The Man Who Loved Books Too Much by Allison Hoover Bartlet
  10. Manhood for Amateurs by Michael Chabon

[Many thanks to!]


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