Shelf Awareness for Thursday, January 14, 2010


Nightfire: At Nightfire, Halloween is 24/7! A new imprint dedicated to horror!

Duke University Press: Point of Reckoning: The Fight for Racial Justice at Duke University by Theodore D Segal

Scribner Book Company: Red Island House by Andrea Lee

Shadow Mountain: The Gentleman and the Thief by Sarah M Eden

News

Notes: French Digital Book Exchange & E-Book Pricing Proposals

Hoping to resolve the disagreement between France and Google regarding online publication (Shelf Awareness, December 21, 2009), France proposed a digital book exchange. A report commissioned by the French Culture Ministry "said the proposed swap would be mutually beneficial, but unlike other comparable deals would not carry any exclusivity clauses in favor of Google," Reuters wrote.

The report also suggested that "French books would be referenced by Google Books, while the national platform would benefit from works already digitised by Google, especially those provided by foreign libraries." 

Culture Minister Frederic Mitterrand "praised the idea and said if Google was not interested, France could approach other private operators," Reuters reported.

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In a related development, five major French booksellers "called on publishing houses and the government for support in creating a new retail structure for electronic books to fend off Amazon, Google and Apple," according to Reuters.

The retailers, including PPR subsidiary Fnac and Virgin Megastore, "said France should have a national e-book platform run by publishers and retailers with a single point of purchase... [and] urged the French government to extend protective measures already in place for physical books to e-books, including a single-price mechanism to muzzle competition," Reuters wrote.

Hachette Livre sales director Francis Lang expressed skepticism: "Creating a governance structure where everyone is around the table but their interests are opposed is the best way for this not to go anywhere."

James McQuivey, an analyst with Forrester Research, suggested that this "will probably be uniquely French if it succeeds. Obviously it would be the combination of cultural preservation interests that tend to be unique to France."

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Education Media & Publishing Group, parent company of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, is restructuring its debt for the second time in a year, the Wall Street Journal reported. The company had restructured its $7 billion debt in August in a move that reduced the investment of its owners.

Education Media now reportedly has $6 billion in debt. With the current restructuring, the company hopes to reduce that debt by 60% and have $600,000 in working capital. The owners' share of the company likely will be reduced further.

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Next Tuesday Idlewild Books, New York, N.Y., is hosting author Simon Winchester, a geologist who will speak about the horrific and devastating earthquake in Haiti, Idlewild owner David Del Vecchio said.

In addition, Del Vecchio noted that one of his former colleagues "working in disaster relief at the United Nations will give an update on the humanitarian situation in Haiti, the most urgent needs going forward, and how we all can help. There will be a suggested donation of $10, and all proceeds from the sale of Simon's books and all the novels and non-fiction in our Haiti section will go to support relief efforts." Look for more details by the end of this week on Idlewild's website.

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Cool (well, freezing, really) idea of the day: Although the current trend in bookselling is toward ever more computerized inventory control systems, Boswell Book Company, Milwaukee, Wis., shared its unique customer tracking device, known as the Saltometer.

"When there's a heavy snowfall in Milwaukee, it means one thing: massive piles of salt on the sidewalks of our fair city," noted the Boswellians blog. "We here at Boswell welcome it, of course. Not only does it keep the sides of Downer Avenue clear for pedestrians (come on by and see us!), it allows us booksellers to use that most hallowed of marketing tools: the saltometer. What is the saltometer, you ask? It's a highly sophisticated system by which we can look at the white-lined footprints all over the store and see what sections are really the most popular. Sure, we know what books you're all buying, but what about the books you read while you linger in the store on a frosty evening? Yes, the saltometer is the bookseller's friend."

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Several booksellers shared their picks for the winter and spring season with USA Today, which featured an interactive books calendar showcasing upcoming titles through April.

"I'm really excited about The Postmistress," said Elaine Petrocelli of Book Passage, Corte Madera, Calif., of Sarah Blake's novel. "I think it could have the kind of following that The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society had." She also recommended Amy Bloom's Where the God of Love Hangs Out and Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni's One Amazing Thing, which she called "my favorite by her so far. It reminds me of Ann Patchett's Bel Canto."

Audrey Bullar of Joseph-Beth Booksellers, Cincinnati, Ohio, praised Wench by Dolen Perkins-Valdez, noting, "Almost every copy we had pre-ordered was spoken for by the time it came in." She "has high hopes for the 'rich in detail' Citizens of London: The Americans Who Stood With Britain During Its Darkest, Finest Hour by Lynne Olson," USA Today wrote.

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Obituary note: William J. Lederer, who co-wrote The Ugly American with Eugene Burdick, died December 5. He was 97. The New York Times reported that the family delayed reporting the news of his  death "while arrangements were made for a military funeral, among other reasons."

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Noting that in an industry where "publishers, retailers, prognosticators, device-makers and a world of geeks" are talking about e-books, Melville House Publishing observed that there is "only one character who never seems to get asked about the subject--authors."

To help rectify this, Melville House will host a discussion Wednesday, January 27 at 7 p.m. featuring Brooklyn writers Lev Grossman, John Wray, Myla Goldberg, Joshua Henkin, Heidi Julavits, Joe Meno, Sarah Manguso and Tao Lin. The event will launch "Publishing in the Age of Blah Blah Blah," a series of discussions on the literary e-future hosted by Melville House co-founder Dennis Loy Johnson.

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Barnes & Noble was ranked the number one company in Forrester Research's 2010 Customer Experience Index. The CxPi, which ranked 133 U.S. companies across 14 industries using feedback from more than 4,600 consumers, is based on consumer evaluations during November 2009 in three categories: meeting needs, being easy to work with and enjoyability. 

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Takin' it to the streets... or pages. Two French authors--Camille Laurens and Marie Darrieussecq--have new books out that draw upon a recent plagiarism quarrel. The Guardian reported that the feud began "in 2007 after Laurens accused Darrieussecq of 'psychological plagiarism' in her novel Tom est mort (Tom Is Dead). Darrieussecq's novel was about the accidental death of a four-year-old, related by his mother 10 years later; Laurens said it contained echoes of her 1995 memoir Phillippe, about the death of her own son."

Now Darrieussecq has published a study of writers accused of plagiarism, and a new novel by Laurens, Romance nerveuse (Nervous Romance), is "about an author who is dropped by her editor after accusing a rival of plagiarism, and then finds it difficult to continue writing."

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Sponsored by the city and regional literary groups, the inaugural Gaithersburg Book Festival will be held Saturday, May 15, in Gaithersburg, Md., on the grounds of City Hall. The schedule includes writing workshops, signings, a coffee house with poetry readings, musical entertainment, children's events and more. Organizers have lined up some authors, including Alice McDermott, but are looking for additional authors. For more information, go here.

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Book trailer of the day: The Women by T.C. Boyle (Penguin), the novel about Frank Lloyd Wright and some of his loves, which has just come out in paperback. (Incidentally trailer director Jamieson Fry is the boyfriend of Boyle's daughter, Kerrie.)

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Mystery author Matt Rees, who has lived in Jerusalem since 1966, chose his top-10 novels set in the Arab world for the Guardian, noting: "What we see of the Arab world comes from news reports of war and other madness. Literature would be a much more profound contact." 

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What will life be like in the year 2010? Daniel Sinker recalled one of his favorite childhood books, Geoffrey Hoyle's 2010: Living in the Future, which was published in 1972 and, as Boing Boing observed, imagines a far-off time when "we'll all do our work and schooling and library-book-reading on ingenious video screens that can connect to each other from anywhere around the globe.... Wait until you get to the part about 'a series of tubes.'"

 


Pamela Dorman Books: The Push by Ashley Audrain


Digital Book World's Optimistic Pecha Kucha

The Bowery Poetry Club was the setting for last night's NYC 7x20x21 (a variation on the pecha kucha presentation format in which each speaker gets 7 minutes, 20 slides, 21 seconds per slide) hosted by Digital Book World's Guy LeCharles Gonzalez and Ami Greko, and the topic was publishing optimism.

First up was Stephanie Anderson, manager of WORD in Brooklyn, N.Y. (and our Namastechnology columnist). Rather than indulging her "business school side" by focusing on goals for the store, she decided "to start a basketball league for book nerds." More than 100 people signed up, and she ended up running the league. After all the work involved, Anderson concluded that "what will save us is fun": the players bonded with each other and with WORD. And Anderson still ended up meeting all her goals: 100 new customers, press mentions more than doubled and so did food bank donations. In closing, she asked the audience to consider: "What would you do if you could spend 10% of your workday doing something fun?"

Ryan Chapman of Farrar, Straus & Giroux next asked, "Who's emulating the rogue advertising team on Mad Men? Jane Friedman's Open Road? Richard Nash's Cursor?" His pick: Quirk Books, which mashed up content to create the hugely successful Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.

Tor.com's Pablo Defendini predicted that books "will be around for a long time, as beautiful objects." And he urged "legacy publishers" to "embrace new technology" and "meet readers in a space they're already at."

Photographer Joshua Simpson showed striking images of MFA writing teachers and students, inspired by a Zoetrope story by Margo Rabb. "Photography's a medium that lets me get close in the way literature does," he said.

Visual artist Ward Sutton, Sutton Impact Studio, talked about how he came to do his popular visual book reviews, which are now posted at DrawntoRead.com

Last up was Debbie Stier, associate publisher HarperStudio, director digital publishing, HarperCollins, who began with, "I've spent 22 years in book publishing [slide of Titanic sinking].... But I started thinking about what else I might want to do with my life." Her epiphany: "What I love to do is creating the book." She wound up "recommitting to my job, my industry, the future of book publishing."

She closed with a thought that captured the mood of the evening: "I believe in the magic of the book, and I love what I do."  --Robin Lenz

 


GLOW: Hanover Square Press: The Jigsaw Man (Inspector Anjelica Henley Thriller) by Nadine Matheson


Image of the Day: Happy Birthday, University Book Store

At the invitation-only party last Sunday in Seattle, Wash., celebrating the University Book Store's 110th anniversary and the publication of 110/110, Stesha Brandon, manager of public relations and events, drew names of contributors to the book from a jar held by CEO Bryan Pearce. Many of the 110 authors who contributed 110-word pieces to the book were present--winners of the drawing read their contributions.

Photo: Paul Gjording




University of California Press: Beethoven, a Life (1st ed.) by Jan Caeyers, translated by Brent Annable


Media and Movies

Media Heat: The Rhythm of Success

Tomorrow morning on Morning Edition: Patti Smith, author of Just Kids (Ecco, $27, 9780066211312/006621131X).

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Tomorrow on the View: Emilio Estefan, author of The Rhythm of Success: How an Immigrant Produced His Own American Dream (Celebra, $24.95, 9780451226426/0451226429).

 


Berkley Books: Dangerous Women by Hope Adams


This Weekend on Book TV: Dark Days, Bright Nights

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 16

8 a.m. Secretary General of Amnesty International Irene Khan, author of The Unheard Truth: Poverty and Human Rights (Norton, $19.95, 9780393337006/0393337006), argues that improving human rights will also help to eradicate global poverty. (Re-airs Monday at 1 a.m.)

12 p.m. Peter Sis, author of The Wall: Growing Up Behind the Iron Curtain (FSG, $18, 9780374347017/0374347018), talks about his youth living in Prague, Czechoslovakia, and details his career as a film animator, artist and author/illustrator of children's books. (Re-airs Sunday at 10 p.m.)

2:15 p.m. Kenneth Weinstein, co-editor (with Paul Aligica) of The Essential Herman Kahn: In Defense of Thinking (Lexington Books, $75, 9780739128282/0739128280), discusses his book. (Re-airs Sunday at 7 a.m.)

4:30 p.m. Gene Dattel, author of Cotton and Race in the Making of America: The Human Costs of Economic Power (Ivan R. Dee, $28.95, 9781566637473/1566637473), presents a social and economic history of the role of cotton in the U.S. (Re-airs Sunday at 2 a.m.)

10 p.m. After Words. Kevin Merida interviews Peniel Joseph, author of Dark Days, Bright Nights: From Black Power to Barack Obama (Basic Civitas, $26, 9780465013661/046501366X). Joseph contends that the 1965 Voting Rights Act played a significant role in the ascendancy of black radical politics and assisted in paving the way for future African-American political leadership. (Re-airs Sunday at 9 p.m. and Monday at 12 a.m. and 3 a.m.)

Sunday, January 17

12 a.m. Edwin Black, author of The Transfer Agreement: The Dramatic Story of the Pact Between the Third Reich and Jewish Palestine (Dialog Press, $19, 9780914153139/0914153137), talks about an agreement in 1933 calling for the move of 55,000 Jews and $100 million to Palestine in exchange for calling off a planned economic boycott of Nazi Germany by Jewish organizations. (Re-airs Sunday at 9 a.m.)

10 a.m. Atul Gawande, author of The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right (Metropolitan, $24.50, 9780805091748/0805091742), praises the benefits of the simple checklist, showing how a surgery checklist, for example, has reduced complications in surgeries. 

 


Television: Temple Grandin

"Autism gave her a vision. She gave it a voice." That is the tag line for HBO's Temple Grandin, a movie based on the extraordinary life of the bestselling author, consultant to the livestock industry and Doctor of Animal Science at Colorado State University. See the trailer here.

Starring Claire Danes (My So-Called Life), the movie will premiere on HBO February 6. Temple Grandin is currently on a national tour for her most recent book, Animals Make Us Human: Creating the Best Life for Animals (Mariner, $15.95, 9780547248233/0547248237). 

 


Movies: Letter of the Law for Letters to Juliet

Summit Entertainment is battling over rights to its upcoming film Letters to Juliet, which is currently scheduled for a May release. It is based on the 2006 book Letters to Juliet: Celebrating Shakespeare's Greatest Heroine, the Magical City of Verona, and the Power of Love by Lise Friedman and Ceil Friedman (Stewart, Tabori and Chang, $24.95, 9781584795353/1584795352), which was optioned by Summit.

"The story shows how for the past 100 years, visitors to a Franciscan monastery in Verona have left letters to Juliet seeking love advice, and how a local group in Verona called the 'Club di Giulietta' has taken it upon itself to answer these letters," according to the Hollywood Reporter, which noted that Ergoarts, Inc., "claims it has rights to the story after making a licensing agreement with the Club di Giulietta and its leader. Since 2006, Ergoarts has pursued first the book authors, and then Summit, demanding that Letters to Juliet be stopped."

Summit is now asking a New York district court to declare that its film "doesn't violate copyright, privacy rights, publicity rights, trademark, contract, nor does it tortiously interfere with any contractual relationship between ErgoArts and the Club di Giulietta," THR wrote.

 


Books & Authors

Book Brahmin: Anthony Horowitz

British author Anthony Horowitz's childhood is the stuff of Dickens novels: his wealthy father, on the verge of bankruptcy, extracted the family fortune from Swiss banks, set up a new account under an alias, then died, leaving the family with no idea of the money's whereabouts. Clearly the seeds for riveting fiction were planted, as the Alex Rider series proves. The books have topped bestseller lists and have been translated into 28 languages. In Crocodile Tears, published last November by Philomel/Penguin, the eighth book starring the intrepid teenage hero, Alex takes on a criminal posing as a philanthropist who uses charitable donations as a means to an apocalyptic end (including black-tie card game fundraisers and exploding gel pens). If in ingenuity and spirit Alex Rider bears a resemblance to a certain 007, you'll soon see why....

On your nightstand now:

Under the Dome
by Stephen King. Lustrum by Robert Harris. Martin Chuzzlewit by Charles Dickens. Big fat reads for the Christmas vacation.

Favorite book when you were a child:

My reading life started with Hergé's adventures of Tintin. Then I moved on to Willard Price's Adventure series, which I simply devoured.

Your top five authors:

Charles Dickens, George Orwell, George Gissing, Ian Fleming, Stephen King

Book you've faked reading:

I claim to have read all of Dickens but actually have never got through Our Mutual Friend.

Book you're an evangelist for:

The Caine Mutiny
by Herman Wouk. A fantastic book for teenagers after they finish with YA literature, and one of the greatest books ever written about war.

Book you've bought for the cover:

Sorry. I've never bought a book for its cover.

Book that changed your life:

Goldfinger by Ian Fleming. Forty years later, it would inspire Alex Rider. Great cover, too, now I come to think of it.

Favorite line from a book:

"The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there." --opening of The Go-Between by L.P. Hartley

Favorite book on writing:

Adventures in the Screen Trade by William Goldman

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

The Lord of the Rings
. I tried it a second time and didn't enjoy it.

 

 



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