Shelf Awareness for Thursday, January 7, 2010

Workman Publishing: What a Blast!: Fart Games, Fart Puzzles, Fart Pranks, and More Farts! by Julie Winterbottom, illustrated by Clau Souza

Berkley Books: Once Upon a December by Amy E. Reichert; Lucy on the Wild Side by Kerry Rea; Where We End & Begin by Jane Igharo

Kensington Publishing Corporation: The Lost Girls of Willowbrook by Ellen Marie Wiseman

St. Martin's Press: Wild: The Life of Peter Beard: Photographer, Adventurer, Lover by Graham Boynton

Bloomsbury Publishing: Girlhood by Melissa Febos

Park Row: The Two Lives of Sara by Catherine Adel West


Notes: E-Apple and E-Google; B. Dalton RIP

The Wall Street Journal outlined threats to from Apple and Google. "Of the three, Amazon appears to be the most vulnerable to new competition, both because of the breadth of its business and e-commerce's increasing importance."

These threats include Apple's forthcoming e-reader and Google's plans for an e-book store to be called Google Editions. An interesting aspect of Google Editions: "Google plans to let independent bookstores sell e-books through the service, buttressing their ability to compete with Amazon."


The National Writers Union, the American Society of Journalists and Authors, and the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America have jointly written to Congress arguing against the amended Google Book Settlement--and particularly the provisions for authors to opt in or opt out--saying, "It isn't fair. There are millions of book authors in this country who could be locked into an agreement they don't understand and didn't ask for."

See the full letter on the Los Angeles Times's website.


The Minneapolis Star-Tribune offers a eulogy for B. Dalton Bookseller, which was born in Edina, Minn., nearly 44 years ago to Dayton Hudson Corp. and is closing down this month.

As the paper noted, "it was a different time. Bruce Dayton, chair of the board at Dayton Hudson Corp., told the Minneapolis Star in 1973 that the retailer got into the book business as a key growth opportunity."

There was no actual B. Dalton--the name was created because it sounded vaguely literary and British.

"In the early years," the Star-Tribune continued, "B. Dalton was known for its parquet floors, den-like furnishings and wide aisles--a look the company said gave it the 'open look of a contemporary college study hall or salon of learning.' "

It was also one of the first booksellers to use computers.

Once the second largest bookselling chain in the country--behind Waldenbooks--Dalton was bought by Barnes & Noble in 1986, instantly making the New York company a national book retailer.


Our friend Dave Weich, who until last year was director of marketing and development at, has started a blog. The first post: "Seth Godin on the End of Bookselling As We Know It," a response to Godin's comment that "Amazon and the Kindle have killed the bookstore."

Weich wrote in part: "Ebooks and Internet retail will continue to radically alter the landscape, but that won't prevent traditional stores from adapting. Undoubtedly, some will find a model that sustains them... and plenty of others will join Tower out of the game."


Effective June 1, sales and distribution of all Peterson's titles to the "traditional and non-traditional" trade around the world will be handled by Hachette Book Group. In a sign of the times, the parties noted that this includes "physical and e-books titles."

Peterson's publishes guides and information about colleges and universities, graduate and executive training programs, financial aid, test prep and careers. Bestselling titles include Green Jobs for a New Economy, Master the GRE, How to Get Money for College and The Real ACT Prep Guide.

Among other things, Hachette COO Kenneth Michaels said the company looks forward to supporting Peterson's "in their developing e-book strategy."

Peterson's, which is owned by Nelnet, is currently distributed by Simon & Schuster.


Effective February 1, Actar Publishing will sell and distribute Birkhäuser titles in the U.S. and Canada through its Actar-D subsidiary, which distributes architecture, graphic design and contemporary art titles from more than 80 publishers, museums and institutions around the world.

Actar recently bought Birkhäuser and its architecture and design lines from Springer Science+Business Media. Springer is retaining Birkhäuser's natural science lines. Birkhäuser will continue to operate in Basel, Switzerland, and be an Actar imprint. Birkhäuser was founded in 1879 and publishes almost 100 titles a year, mostly in English and German.


Lerner Publishing Group has purchased Darby Creek Publishing from Media Source, parent company of Junior Library Guild and The Horn Book. Lerner will operate Darby Creek as a Lerner imprint. It has distributed Darby Creek since 2003.

Established in 2002, Darby Creek, Columbus, Ohio, publishes K-12 fiction and nonfiction titles for schools, libraries and bookstores. Its authors include Lurlene McDaniel, David Lubar and Joseph Bruchac.

As a Lerner imprint, Darby Creek plans to launch Night Fall, a six-book series of horror fiction, and to expand in several genre fiction categories for young readers.


Beaming Books: Sarah Rising by Ty Chapman, illustrated by Deann Wiley

Club Club: Sam's Club Launches Book Club

Sam's Club, the Wal-mart warehouse club store, has began a national book club. The club's first selection is Saving CeeCee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman, a debut novel that is also the first book published under the new Pamela Dorman Books imprint at Viking.

Sam's Club is launching the club on Saturday at its Marietta, Ga., store, where Hoffman will make an appearance and sign copies of the book. The book goes on sale next Tuesday and will be featured at the 600 Sam's Clubs around the country.

The publisher called Saving CeeCee Honeycutt "a spirited Southern tale that explores the indomitable strengths of female relationships as a young girl loses one mother and finds many others in the storybook city of Savannah."


KidsBuzz for the Week of 05.16.22

Pennie Picks The Mercy of Thin Air


Pennie Clark Ianniciello, Costco's book buyer, has chosen The Mercy of Thin Air by Ronlyn Domingue (Washington Square Press, $14, 9780743278829/0743278828) as her pick of the month for January. In Costco Connection, which goes to many of the warehouse club's members, she wrote:

"First-time novelist Ronlyn Domingue isn't the only author to write a book about a character caught between this life and the next. But in The Mercy of Thin Air, Domingue is able to put her own touch on the topic, handling the subject with such skill that the story has haunted me since I read it.

"When Raziela Nolan dies in an accident, she leaves behind the love of her life. It is from a place between the two worlds that she narrates the story of her lost love and the young couple, Amy and Scott, whose house she haunts. She soon realizes she has a closer connection to the young lovers than she could have imagined."

Blackstone Publishing: Run Time by Catherine Ryan Howard

110/110: Gemini Rising

This week we're reprinting pieces from 110/110 (Shelf Awareness, January 4, 2010), the book that contains 110-word contributions from 110 authors, poets and graphic novelists on the occasion of the 110th anniversary of University Book Store, Seattle, Wash., which falls this Sunday, January 10. Our fourth excerpt is the piece by Tom Robbins, author of books such as Even Cowgirls Get the Blues, Jitterbug Perfume, Skinny Legs and All and B Is for Beer.

Gemini Rising

The world's only two-headed dog is barking at the moon tonight in Walla Walla. The dog's owner, who calls himself Jim Jim, settled in Walla Walla with his two-timing second wife, LuLu, after twice contracting--first in Pago Pago, then in Bora Bora--beri beri, a disease that caused him to double over with pain. The healing waters of Baden Baden eased his malady, but it was not until a doctor in Walla Walla advised Jim Jim to take two aspirin and call him in the morning that he fully recovered. Now he's content to watch his dog, Boutros Boutros-Collie, woof woof at the moon in Walla Walla.

Ace Books: The Witch and the Tsar by Olesya Salnikova Gilmore

G.L.O.W. - Galley Love of the Week
Be the first to have an advance copy!
The Two Lives of Sara
by Catherine Adel West

GLOW: Park Row: The Two Lives of Sara by Catherine Adel WestWhen Sara King arrives in Memphis in the 1960s, she's unmarried, pregnant and on the run from a harrowing past in Chicago. She finds respite at The Scarlet Poplar boarding house, where she'll help Mama Sugar cook mouthwatering Southern food and pursue a second chance for herself and her baby son. Laura Brown, senior editor at Park Row Books, recommends this to readers of Kaitlyn Greenidge's Libertie and Dawnie Walton's The Final Revival of Opal & Nev. "We're finally starting to see more historical fiction that doesn't center the white experience," Brown adds. Rich with research into segregation and the civil rights movement, this vibrant novel pairs a wrenching portrait of an unwed mother with a joyous celebration of African American culture in the South. --Rebecca Foster

(Park Row, $27.99 hardcover, 9780778333227, September 6, 2022)


Shelf vetted, publisher supported


Media and Movies

Media Heat: Happiness Project, Perfection

Tomorrow morning on Morning Joe: Ron Insana, author of How to Make a Fortune from the Biggest Bailout in U.S. History: A Guide to the 7 Greatest Bargains from Main Street to Wall Street (Avery, $26, 9781583333648/1583333649).


Tomorrow morning on the Today Show: Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun (Harper, $25.99, 9780061583254/0061583251).


Tomorrow on Fox & Friends: Denise Austin, author of Denise's Daily Dozen: The Easy, Everyday Program to Lose up to 12 Pounds in 2 Weeks (Center Street, $16.99, 9781599952444/1599952440).


Tomorrow on Oprah: Julie Metz, author of Perfection: A Memoir of Betrayal and Renewal (Voice, $23.99, 9781401322557/1401322557).


Tomorrow night on CBS Evening News: Steven Solomon, author of Water: The Epic Struggle for Wealth, Power, and Civilization (Harper, $27.99, 9780060548308/0060548304).


Tomorrow night on Last Call with Carson Daly: David Plouffe, author of The Audacity to Win: The Inside Story and Lessons of Barack Obama's Historic Victory (Viking, $27.95, 9780670021338/0670021334).



This Weekend on Book TV: In Fed We Trust

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, January 9

1:15 p.m. Dongping Han, author of The Unknown Cultural Revolution: Life and Change in a Chinese Village (Monthly Review Press, $16.95, 9781583671801/1583671803), argues that the revolution had many successes and discusses the influence of Mao's writings on those who participated. (Re-airs Sunday at 12:30 a.m.)

12 p.m. Jonathan Safran Foer, author of Eating Animals (Little, Brown, $25.99, 9780316069908/0316069906), and Frank Bruni, author of Born Round: The Secret History of a Full Time Eater (Penguin, $25.95, 9781594202315/1594202311), discuss the policies of factory farming and the politics of vegetarianism. (Re-airs Sunday at 2 a.m. and 4 p.m.)

5 p.m. Efraim Zuroff, director of the Israel Office of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, talks about his book Operation Last Chance: One Man's Quest to Bring Nazi Criminals to Justice (Palgrave Macmillan, $25, 9780230617308/0230617301). (Re-airs Monday at 1 a.m.)

10 p.m. After Words. Alice Rivlin interviews Wall Street Journal economics editor David Wessel, author of In Fed We Trust: Ben Bernanke's War on the Great Panic (Crown, $26.99, 9780307459688/0307459683). (Re-airs Sunday at 9 p.m. and Monday at 12 a.m. and 3 a.m.)

Sunday, January 10

7 a.m. Mark Denbeaux and Jonathan Hafetz, editors of The Guantanamo Lawyers: Inside a Prison Outside the Law (NYU Press, $32.95, 9780814737361/0814737366), discuss their collection of stories about the detainees as told by their attorneys. (Re-airs Sunday at 6:30p.m.)

5:15 p.m. Alia Malek, author of A Country Called Amreeka: Arab Roots, American Stories (Free Press, $25, 9781416589723/1416589724), presents personal stories of Arab immigrants in the U.S. against the backdrop of major events in U.S. history.

8 p.m. Byron Pitts, 60 Minutes commentator and author of Step Out on Nothing: How Faith and Family Helped Me Conquer Life's Challenges (St. Martin's, $24.99, 9780312577667/0312577664), chronicles his rise from a Baltimore inner-city neighborhood to a career in journalism.    


Books & Authors

MPIBA's Reading the West Picks

The Mountains and Plains Independent Booksellers Association has picked two titles for its upcoming Reading the West recommendations:


Then Came the Evening
by Brian Hart (Bloomsbury, $25, 9781608190140/1608190145).

Born in Idaho, Hart spent years working as a janitor, carpenter, welder and commercial fisherman before earning his M.F.A. from the Michener Center for Writers at the University of Texas at Austin. He is the winner of the 2006 Keene Prize, the largest student prize for literature at the University of Texas.

For February:

Ghosts of Wyoming: Stories by Alyson Hagy (Graywolf Press, $15, 9781555975487/1555975488).

Hagy was raised on a farm in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia and is the author of three previous collections of short fiction and two novels, Keeneland and Snow, Ashes. She lives and teaches in Laramie, Wyo.


Shelf Starters: Willie Mays

Willie Mays: The Life, the Legend by James S. Hirsch (Scribner, $30, 9781416547907, February 2010)

Opening lines of books we want to read:
On May 24, 1951, a young center fielder who had dazzled crowds in the minor leagues left Sioux City, Iowa, traveling light: a change of clothes and some toiletries, his glove, his spikes, and his two favorite 34-ounce Adirondack bats. The twenty-year-old Alabaman was driven to the airport in Omaha, Nebraska, where he bought a ticket from United Airlines for an all-night journey, landing in New York early the following day. He had been there once before, three years earlier, to play in the Polo Grounds with the Birmingham Black Barons. On that team the veterans had protected him, instructing the youngster on how to dress, act, and play ball; on how to represent his team, his city, and his race. But now, on a sunny morning at La Guardia Airport, Willie Mays slid into the back seat of a taxi and pressed his face against the window, alone. He had never seen so many people walk so fast in his life.--Selected by Marilyn Dahl

Deeper Understanding

Namastechnology: Bookstore Websites

Part one: A meditation on the whys before the hows

When my store's new IndieCommerce website went live before the holiday season, I shared the link to the site with friends and family and asked for feedback. It was all fairly positive, and people seemed excited to see us joining the 21st century. Then my sister responded.

"It's really nice, and I like the colors," she wrote. "But where do I buy the books?"
I scoffed. The whole POINT of the new website was to buy books, I muttered under my breath as I loaded the front page of the new site to send her a screenshot with big red circles around what she had missed. How could she be so--?
I paused. I looked. There was a tab for events, for book club, for staff picks. A search bar. A paragraph summing up the store. But the words "shop" and "buy" were nowhere to be found, even though we'd made a new website specifically to allow people to buy books from us online. She was right. We'd spent a month putting together a fairly good-looking website full of information that had almost no starting point for someone who wanted just to browse the world of books.
My embarrassment was quickly followed by confusion. Was that really what we wanted to do with our website? Didn't we want to keep the practice of browsing a strictly bricks-and-mortar affair? If we started uploading the contents of our front table to the front page of the site, would the new-book smell be the only thing left in our earthbound favor?
I began to think a lot about why and how I shop online. I rarely wander around the Internet looking for something to spend money on. Instead, my online purchases almost always happen as a result of a link in an e-mail or on a website I visit regularly for news or discussion. For true browsing, I still rely on in-person shopping. So by those standards, shouldn't our website seek to make the store as appealing as possible so that people will brave the great outdoors to come in?
Of course, the way I shop is not at all the way all people shop, but a few weeks ago, in a webinar, Patrick Brown of Vroman's, Pasadena, Calif., shared the observation that there are essentially two kinds of websites: those that are commerce-driven and those that are community-driven. While there are exceptions (Amazon is one of them), for the most part people rarely buy where they congregate to talk about politics or fine art or Lady Gaga's latest pair of shoes. Many community-driven websites have stores, but they don't keep the site alive; advertising dollars do.
Almost all bookstore websites are commerce-driven, WORD's included, and they are, at best, modest successes. Few people buy books from them because it takes about three mouse clicks to find the book cheaper elsewhere. (In the same webinar, Brown noted that the most successful items on his store's website can't be obtained elsewhere, such as T-shirts created by the store.) And because bookstore websites are almost completely focused on the commercial transaction (as well as fulfilling the basic needs of Web 1.0 and serving as giant online business cards with the address and hours of a store), they provide almost nothing of the experience of the actual bookstore.
Choosing between commerce and community is an unusual dilemma for independent booksellers because the combination of the two is the keystone of almost every indie in the country. In our stores, we are adept at creating a community of book lovers and serving the greater communities in which we're located--and finding in those communities enough commerce to keep a store open. So why are our websites so one-sided? Why are we content to provide store hours and a search bar? Is it because it's not possible to move the independent bookstore experience online? This seems unlikely, because much of the independent bookstore experience has, in fact, been replicated on various social media sites. Perhaps we could promote our website more in our store in the way we promote our store on our website?
There are a lot of lessons to be learned and ideas to be gleaned from how our customers currently experience independent bookstores online. For example, book blogger Boston Bibliophile made a commitment and stuck to it this past holiday season: she decided to buy her presents at independent bookstores and she made it easy for her family to do the same for her. She was then kind enough to blog about the entire process here. She and her husband had varying experiences with IndieBound shopping, and, unfortunately, with customer service in stores. Furthermore, her family, who she guided to buy books at independent bookstores by getting rid of her Amazon wish list and making one through IndieBound, found the process confusing and probably would not use it again.
The upshot, she wrote: "I'm committed enough to shopping indie that I'm willing to put up with a few snags but most people aren't, and if indies are going to make a go of online selling, they need to make sure their bricks-and-mortar resources are up to the task. Otherwise people just won't use them." Read the comments on the blog post to see how another dozen people feel about indies online, and you'll see that she's absolutely right.
Though it started as one, this is not a column about how to make your website better, necessarily--although in the near future I will share some of the practical advice my store has after a couple of months of wrestling with IndieCommerce. When you edit a book, you start by addressing the structural issues before you argue over comma placements. In the same vein, I think booksellers need to decide what we want from our websites before we try to learn more about HTML.
Not only do I think it's possible for us to make websites that create both sales and community, I believe it's necessary for us to do it, and it'll be easier to do it together. So, what do you think? Are you happy with your store's website? Do you think it reflects your store? Has implementing an e-commerce option on your site increased sales for the store, and if so, for what? What comments have customers shared with you about the site? E-mail and let me know.


The Bestsellers

Top Sellers at in December

The following were the bestselling books at last month:

1. The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest by Stieg Larsson
2. Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child
3. The Lovely Bones by Alice Seabold
4. Crafting and Executing Strategy by Arthur Thompson
5. 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey
6. The Road by Cormac McCarthy
7. Angels and Demons by Dan Brown
8. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
9. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
10. Night by Elie Wiesel

The following were the bestselling signed books at last month:

1. Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann
2. Last Night in Twisted River by John Irving
3. Open by Andre Agassi
4. Too Much Happiness by Alice Munro
5. The Man Who Loved Books Too Much by Allison Bartlett
6. U Is for Undertow by Sue Grafton
7. Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel
8. A Gate at the Stairs by Lorrie Morre
9. Where I'm Calling From by Raymond Carver
10. I, Alex Cross by James Patterson

[Many thanks to!]

KidsBuzz: Katherine Tegen Books: Case Closed #4: Danger on the Dig by Lauren Magaziner
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