Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Chronicle Books: Poetry Comics by Grant Snider

Berkley Books: We Love the Nightlife by Rachel Koller Croft

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers: Waiting in the Wings by Julie Andrews and Emma Walton Hamilton, Illustrated by Eg Keller

Webtoon Unscrolled: Boyfriends. Volume Two: A Webtoon Unscrolled Graphic Novel by Refrainbow

Shadow Mountain: The Witch in the Woods: Volume 1 (Grimmworld) by Michaelbrent Collings

Hell's Hundred: Blood Like Mine by Stuart Neville

Delacorte Press: Last One to Die by Cynthia Murphy

Quotation of the Day

Bezos on the 'Long Form'

"I believe that reading deserves a dedicated device. For people who are readers, reading is important to them. And you don't want to read for three hours on a backlit LCD screen. It's great for short form. This is a really important point--that we humans co-evolve with our tools. We change the tools, and the tools change us, and that cycle repeats. For the last 20 years network-connected tools like smart phones, BlackBerrys, and desktop PCs connected to the Internet have been shifting us as a civilization toward short-form reading. I love my BlackBerry. It's great for reading e-mails. Same thing with my desktop computer. I'm very happy to read short articles, blog posts. But I don't want to read a 300-page book on my computer. And so what Kindle is doing is it's bringing the convenience of wireless connectivity to long form. I believe that we learn different things from long form than we learn from short form. Both are important. If you read The Remains of the Day, which is one of my favorite books, you can't help but come away and think, I just spent 10 hours living an alternate life and I learned something about life and about regret. You can't do that in a blog post." founder and CEO Jeff Bezos in a Q&A with Newsweek.

G.P. Putnam's Sons: Summer Romance by Annabel Monaghan


Notes: Sales Update; Another B&N Investor Doubles Stake

Shoppers were busy before and after the big Eastern snow storm.

Although general retail sales fell 12.6% last Saturday compared to the same day a year ago, sales from Friday through Sunday fell just 2.1%, according to ShopperTrak, as reported by the New York Times. The biggest decline--17.3%--was in the Northeast, but sales were also down in parts of the country with pleasant weather.

Saturday sales at shopping malls were down "in double digits," according to the International Council of Shopping Centers, which continues to predict a 1% rise in sales during November and December.


Another Barnes & Noble shareholder has been buying big in the bookseller, whose stock price closed yesterday at $19.03: during October and November, Aletheia Research & Management more than doubled its stake in B&N to 10.8%, according to Reuters, based on an Aletheia filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Aletheia was founded in 1997 by former Bear Stearns managing director Peter Eichler.

Last month Yacaipa Companies, controlled by Ronald Burkle, more than doubled its stake in B&N, to 18.3%, which prompted the company to adopt a poison pill provision that goes into effect when any person or group obtains a stake of 20% of the company without board approval (Shelf Awareness, November 17, 2009). B&N chairman Len Riggio remains the single-largest shareholder, with a 28% stake.


"Fewer than 20" Waldenbooks stores scheduled for closing early next year will be kept open, a Borders spokesperson told the Express Times in a story about the Walden in Palmer Park Mall, Easton, Pa., whose death sentence was commuted this week.

Borders announced last month plans to close about 200 Waldenbooks, Borders Express and Borders Outlet stores, which will leave it with about 130 mall-format stores (Shelf Awareness, November 5, 2009).


The Bookseller had more on the final days of Borders U.K., most of which closed yesterday. The remainder will have their last day of business today.


Booksellers who have been working for decades to make customer service a top priority may be amused to discover that high-end retailers like Lord & Taylor and Bergdorf Goodman are currently adopting some revolutionary sales techniques--i.e., customer service--to cope with the flagging economy.

"With signs that this holiday shopping season will not be much better than the last, retailers of all stripes are looking for new ways to make shopping more pleasant," the New York Times reported.

"As the business gets more challenging, customer service is one of the first places we're going to look to improve," said Brendan L. Hoffman, Lord & Taylor's CEO. "It's kind of like mom and apple pie."


Seattle has once again topped the list of America's most literate cities, but this year Washington, D.C., edged traditional literate city powerhouse Minneapolis as a surprise runner-up. The annual study by Jack Miller, president of Central Connecticut State University, "focuses on six indicators: newspaper circulation, number of bookstores, library resources, periodical publishing resources, educational attainment and Internet resources," USA Today reported.

America's most literate cities for 2009:

  1. Seattle
  2. Washington
  3. Minneapolis
  4. Pittsburgh
  5. Atlanta
  6. Portland, Ore.
  7. St. Paul
  8. Boston
  9. Cincinnati
  10. Denver

American Booksellers Association staffers continued a tradition of working a few days at member bookstores during the holiday season, which Bookselling This Week chronicled. Our favorite accompanying photo shows ABA COO Len Vlahos sweeping the floor in Mrs. Nelson's Toy & Book Shop, La Verne, Calif.

A nice side note from the story: the Book Stall at Chestnut Court, Winnetka, Ill., has sold more than 350 copies of Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese (Knopf), which was owner Roberta Rubin's pick of the year. (Reported by guest worker Oren Teicher, ABA's CEO.)


BTW also listed 10 bricks-and-mortar stores and one online store, all members of the ABA, that opened since the beginning of October.


The Ink, the blog of the University Press Club at Princeton University, recommended Glen Echo Books as a fun place to buy gifts in a town that is "a little too 'tasteful.' " Owned by Deb Hunter, bookstore empress, Glen Echo is "less a 'Used Book Store' than an 'Old Book Store'--the perfect place, as some random lady on Yelp notes, to buy 'gorgeous, mid-century editions of classic literature' on a budget. So if your friends have some favorite old-timey authors, go in and buy them a handsomely bound tome. It'll really class up their dorm room, and maybe provide some reading pleasure besides."


Opening with a quote from Cormac McCarthy's Blood Meridian--"Men are born for games.... Every child knows that play is nobler than work''--Forbes showcased its choices for best sports books of 2009, observing that great sportswriters "even get non-sports folks interested, which is no mean feat."


For aficionados of the grape, the Los Angeles Times offered wine book recommendations, noting that  2009 "was a very good year for the printed word in wine, and having sifted through several heavy tomes, here are a few to consider in your holiday gift giving."


University of Texas Press: Loose of Earth: A Memoir by Kathleen Dorothy Blackburn

Image of the Day: Snuggling with Santa

At Readers' Books, Sonoma, Calif., which advertises that books are "the gift you can open again and again," longtime bookseller Thea Reynolds joins Santa at the wheel for a little sleigh-riding, California style.


Harper: Our Kind of Game by Johanna Copeland

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Christmas Day Authors

Friday morning on the Today Show: Rick Warren, author of The Purpose of Christmas (Howard Books, $17.99, 9781416559009/1416559000).


Friday on the Diane Rehm Show, in repeat: Abraham Verghese, author of Cutting for Stone (Knopf, $26.95, 9780375414497/0375414495).


Friday on Tavis Smiley: Mitch Albom, author of Have a Little Faith (Hyperion, $23.99, 9780786868728/0786868724).


Friday night on the Jay Leno Show, in a repeat: Laura Bush and Jenna Bush Hager, authors of Read All About It! (HarperCollins, $18.89, 9780061560767/0061560766).


Chronicle Books: Life Wants You Dead: A Calm, Rational, and Totally Legit Guide to Scaring Yourself Safe by Evan Waite, Illustrated by Paula Searing

This Weekend on Book TV: Hope for Animals and Their World

Book TV airs on C-Span 2 this week from 8 a.m. Friday 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.

Friday, December 25

5 p.m. Harold Evans, author of My Paper Chase: True Stories of Vanished Times (Little, Brown, $27.99, 9780316031424/0316031429), chronicles his career as editor of the Times of London and later as president of Random House. (Re-airs Saturday at 5 a.m. and Sunday at 8 p.m.)

6 p.m. Stanley Weintraub, author of General Sherman's Christmas: Savannah 1864 (Smithsonian, $24.99, 9780061702983/0061702986), recounts the legendary Union general's capture of the Georgia city on December 22, 1864. (Re-airs Saturday at 6 a.m. and 11 p.m.)

Saturday, December 26

2 p.m. Hendrik Hertzberg, author of Obamanos: The Birth of a New Political Era (Penguin, $25.95, 9781594202360/1594202362), presents an account of the 2008 presidential campaign. (Re-airs Sunday at 5 a.m. and 6 p.m.)

4 p.m. George Nash, author of Reappraising the Right: The Past & Future of American Conservatism (Intercollegiate Studies Institute, $27.95, 9781935191650/1935191659), contends that American conservatism is alive and well. (Re-airs Saturday at 11 p.m. and Sunday at 1 p.m.)

7 p.m. Woody Holton discusses his biography, Abigail Adams (Free Press, $30, 9781416546801/1416546804). (Re-airs Monday at 5 a.m.)

10 p.m. After Words. John Nielsen, journalist in residence at the World Wildlife Fund, interviews Jane Goodall, author of Hope for Animals and Their World: How Endangered Species Are Being Rescued from the Brink (Grand Central, $27.99, 9780446581776/0446581771). (Re-airs Sunday at 9 p.m. and Monday at 12 a.m. and 3 a.m.)

Sunday, December 27

7 p.m. Notable Books of the Year. C-SPAN's Washington Journal highlights favorite nonfiction books published in 2009, as well as bestsellers and award winners. Viewers can also call in with their choices. (Re-airs Monday at 1 a.m.)


Television: Women Are Crazy, Men Are Stupid

ABC has greenlighted a comedy pilot based on Women Are Crazy, Men Are Stupid: The Simple Truth to a Complicated Relationship (Simon Spotlight Entertainment, $22.99, 9781416595052/1416595058) by Howard Morris and Jenny Lee, who will write the script, Variety reported.


Book Review

Children's Review: Bunny Days

Bunny Days by Tao Nyeu (Dial Books, $16.99 Hardcover, 9780803733305, January 2010)

Tao Nyeu wowed the children's book world with her debut picture book, Wonder Bear. While the plot in that book may have been a bit too abstract for the picture book crowd to appreciate fully, this trio of stories about a sextet of bunnies is pitch-perfect for the preschool set. From first page to last, everything about this intimate volume coheres; each selection showcases a limited palette and an assured bold outline that recall Dorothy Kunhardt. As the first tale, "Muddy Bunnies," opens, six sugar-white rabbits are "soaking up the sun" and communing with a frog on a patchwork landscape of carrot-orange and cornflower-blue rolling hills. Eagle-eye youngsters will note a mass of brown blobs that dot the road where Mr. Goat travels on his tractor. "Splash" goes the tractor. "What a mess!" reads the text above a now brown-and-white group of bunnies. "They need some help from Bear." Bear, as white as the bunnies, washes them in the "delicate cycle"; a full-bleed spread shows glimpses of cotton tails, ear tips and hind paws as the washer goes "swish swash." Then Bear hangs them on the clothesline to dry. Nyeu knows that preschoolers endow their stuffed animals with human traits, and she competently blends the real and imaginary.

In the second story, "Dusty Bunnies," the carrot-orange, lime-green and sepia-brown palette declare the autumn season as Mrs. Goat vacuums up the leaves that fall in her yard. When she accidentally vacuums up the six bunnies, "dozing deep underground," once again it's Bear to the rescue ("This looks like a job for the big fan"). Bear's gender is never identified: Bear knits and also knows how to repair Mrs. Goat's vacuum cleaner (and likely comes up with the brilliant and humorous solution for ensuring the bunnies' future safety from the vacuum's suction, too). A bird follows the bunnies through nearly every scene here, just as a frog did in the first story. It's a butterfly that figures prominently in the final selection, "Bunny Tails." While Mr. Goat watches the butterfly as he trims some hedges, he inadvertently clips a couple of tails off of the bunnies. (Bear's sewing machine does the magic this time.) In every picture, youngsters can find all six bunnies (sometimes only a cottontail is visible); the last spread depicts all of the characters (including frog, bird and butterfly) sharing tea and cake, alongside the tractor, vacuum cleaner and sewing machine. All three stories end with the line, "Everyone is happy." Youngest book lovers will be, too, and they'll beg for these bunny tales time and again.--Jennifer M. Brown


Deeper Understanding

Holiday Hum: December and Beyond at Aaron's Books

This season and the new year are busy times for Aaron's Books, Lititz, Pa., which opened in 2005 and a little more than a year ago began carrying new books.

Thanks in part to Twitter, in January Aaron's Books is launching a fund-raising program called Book Buying for a Cause; a portion of all sales on Tuesdays will be donated to local nonprofit organizations, a different one each month. The first to benefit will be the Lititz Rec Center, the Lancaster County Division of the American Heart Association, the Literacy Council of Lancaster Lebanon and the Susquehanna Sustainable Business Network. "It's important for us to be a part of the community, and this is one way to do it," said store owner Sam Droke-Dickinson.

The program was inspired by a similar one at Pufferbellies Toys & Books ( in Staunton, Va., which Droke-Dickinson learned about via Twitter. This was just one important way Droke-Dickinson is using Twitter ( Besides keeping in touch with fellow booksellers, on Twitter she communicates with customers, connects with authors--some of whom have since appeared at the store--and highlights other area businesses. She is also using it to promote Aaron's Books as a holiday shopping destination by announcing seasonal events, linking to the store's gift guide and even letting customers know there is a pot of hot tea awaiting them.

"Twitter has helped us reach people in the local community who might not have known we were around," said Droke-Dickinson, particularly those in neighboring towns like Lancaster City, which is several miles north of Lititz. Aaron's is the only general-interest bookstore in the county. "This is only our second holiday season having new books, and people now know they can come to us to do their shopping," Droke-Dickinson said.

So far this season popular gift choices are local-interest books like Ghosts of Hershey and Vicinity by Christopher E. Wolf and Lititz by Kathy Blankenbiller, part of Arcadia's Images of America series. Another is Lois Kathryn Herr's Dear Coach: Letters Home from World War II, a collection of missives sent to the author's father by students he coached at Elizabethtown College who went on to serve in the armed forces. The self-published Dear Coach is avaiable at only two stores: the college bookstore and Aaron's Books.

Four authors are in a tight race to be the bestselling scribe of the year at Aaron's Books: Lorna Barrett (the Booktown Mystery series), Susan Gregg Gilmore (Looking for Salvation at the Dairy Queen), A.S. King (The Dust of 100 Dogs) and Maryann McFadden (The Richest Season and So Happy Together). "They're all books we love, so it's easy to handsell them," Droke-Dickinson said. "It just depends on who walks in the door and what they buy in the next two weeks." She announced the news via Twitter, which then generated responses from the authors.

Also selling well at Aaron's Books are signed copies of a graphic novel for children, The Storm in the Barn by Matt Phelan, the tale of a boy in Dust Bowl America. Phelan was one of several authors who took part in the store's Kid-Lit Festival, November 13-15, which featured signings, panel discussions, a writing workshop and a book brunch. "People were buying stacks of books and getting them signed as gifts. That really kicked off the holiday shopping season for us," noted Droke-Dickinson. On Black Friday, Aaron's Books and about 20 other Lititz shops and eateries opened at 6 a.m. and offered discounts to early birds.

The Kid-Lit Festival is on the roster for next year, along with a multiday event for mystery authors in early May. An education series, "Living Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise in 2010," is scheduled to begin in January. Topics such as health and nutrition, sustainable living and stress relief will be covered for two months each, with speakers offering tips and advice during that time frame. First up is "Planning for Your Future" with a family lawyer, a CPA, an insurance expert and a financial planner, the latter of whom Droke-Dickinson met at a local Tweet-up.

That's not all that's on the agenda. After the holiday season, Droke-Dickinson and her co-owner and husband, Todd, will renovate the store for an early February relaunch.--Shannon McKenna Schmidt


The Bestsellers

U.K.'s Holiday Season Top 10: A Dan Brown Xmas

Dan Brown's The Lost Symbol has "broken the stranglehold that celebrity autobiographies have held over December book sales in recent years to take the Christmas number one slot," the Guardian reported.

"This year there is very definitely a much stronger end-of-year Christmas fiction market," said André Breedt of Nielsen BookScan. "The autobiography and biography market overall peaked in 2007... and ever since then it has been slowing down."

The U.K.'s 2009 Christmas season top 10 list:

  1. The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown
  2. Guinness World Records 2010
  3. Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer
  4. Twilight by Stephenie Meyer
  5. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
  6. Where's Stig? (TopGear)
  7. Handle with Care by Jodi Picoult
  8. Delia's Happy Christmas by Delia Smith
  9. Ooh! What a Lovely Pair by Ant McPartlin and Declan Donnelly
  10. My Shit Life So Far by Frankie Boyle


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