Shelf Awareness for Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Mariner Books: Everyone This Christmas Has a Secret: A Festive Mystery by Benjamin Stevenson

Grove Press: Brightly Shining by Ingvild Rishøi, Translated Caroline Waight

Running Press Adult: Scam Goddess: Lessons from a Life of Cons, Grifts, and Schemes by Laci Mosley

Broadleaf Books: Trespass: Portraits of Unhoused Life, Love, and Understanding by Kim Watson

Nancy Paulsen Books: Sync by Ellen Hopkins

Running Press Adult: Cat People by Hannah Hillam

Beaming Books: Must-Have Autumn Reads for Your Shelf!

Dial Press: Like Mother, Like Mother by Susan Rieger


Notes: E-Price Maneuvers; 'Staggering Numbers'

Following the Amazon-Macmillan standoff and Apple's announcement about the impending iPad, "as publishers enter discussions with the Web giant Google about its plan to sell digital versions of new books direct to consumers, they have a little more leverage than just a few weeks ago--at least when it comes to determining how Google will pay publishers for those e-books and how much consumers will pay for them," the New York Times wrote.

Google's proposed terms for Google Editions have been less advantageous to publishers than the new agency plan that Macmillan will implement selling to Amazon. A key additional sticking point: Google's proposal to allow consumers, who would receive e-books on a range of devices of their choice, to print as well as cut and paste parts of the text. Google is reportedly backing down on these points.


The Financial Times offered another take on the Amazon-Macmillan dispute and the book industry's move into e-books.

"Legacy publishers still want bookstores to last as long as possible," Mike Shatzkin, CEO of the Idea Logical Company, said. "Their business model is built on their expertise in navigating that industry."

And Steve Haber, president of Sony's digital reading division, emphasized that a major shift for the industry is occurring, saying, "Once you go digital you don't go back."


Supply of Barnes & Noble's nook e-reader has caught up with demand. The device will be available in "the majority" of B&N stores beginning this week. When the company introduced the nook late last year, it ran out of devices and there were delays in fulfillment.

B&N is promoting the now-plentiful nook as "the perfect Valentine's Day gift for anyone who loves reading."


Postings for jobs at make sleuths at the New York Times believe that the company is going to add color screens and wi-fi to some future Kindle products and will not "back down from a fight with Apple and its iPad." Speculation is that Amazon will have separate devices--its current eInk black-and-white e-reader and a color e-reader or a color computer that reads books.


Yen Press is printing 350,000 copies of its graphic novel adaptation of Stephenie Meyer's Twilight and Dark Horse Comics will print 100,000 copies of Troublemaker!, a graphic novel by Janet Evanovich, which continues her Motor Mouth series--amounts that the New York Times called "staggering initial print runs for graphic novels."

Troublemaker! is geared both for Evanovich's current fans as well as graphic novel fans. "We thought it was a great opportunity to expand the readership of graphic novels," said Michael Martens, v-p for business development at Dark Horse.


How about a Bud Light and a nice book? Don't count on that combination gaining popularity any time soon after the airing of the beer company's Super Bowl ad "mocking book clubs, male readers, female readers, and book reading in general. The ad shows a couple fun-loving beer drinkers crashing a book club, playing with all sorts of stereotypes about American readers," as GalleyCat put it.


Sarah Bedell, owner of Bookworm, West Hartford, Conn., will close her shop, which "has been a fixture in town since 1973," by the end of the month, the Courant reported. Bedell "said concerns about her health, and not the faltering economy, prompted her recently to decide to retire after nearly 37 years in the business she said she still loves."


The Merced, Calif., Sun-Star profiled Nancy Smith, the owner of Second Time Around Used Books, which she acquired after original owner Jim Barnett died last summer.

"I've lived in Merced for 20 years, and it seemed like a good opportunity to buy the store," Smith said.


Book trailer of the day: The Bread of Angels: A Journey to Love and Faith by Stephanie Saldaña (Doubleday).


In the San Diego area, independent booksellers may be facing perilous times, "but the passion of their owners, along with unwavering optimism and the ability to adapt just might stave off extinction, reported.

"It may sound hopelessly idealistic, and maybe it is, but to me, a good bookstore is somewhere between a business and church," said Craig Maxwell, owner of Maxwell's House of Books, La Mesa. "It's not exactly place of worship, but it's not just a business either."


Peachtree Teen: Compound Fracture by Andrew Joseph White

Obituary Note: Fran Howell

Fran Howell, co-owner of the Raymar Book Company, died last Saturday. He was 85.

Howell founded Raymar with the late Stu Woodruff to create one of the major book wholesalers in the West. Raymar was bought by Ingram Book Company in 1976.

Ingram's Art Carson, who was a buyer for Raymar, commented: "Fran was a great mentor for me, and I will be forever thankful for not only the lessons he taught me about the book industry and how to buy books, but also for the example he set as a kind and compassionate human being."

Flowers for the memorial service, to be held tomorrow, Thursday, February 11, may be sent to Metcalf Mortuary, 288 West St. George Blvd, St. George, Utah 84770. Burial will be this Saturday, February 13, at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, Calif.


Inner Traditions: Expand your collection with these must-have resource books!

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Say Hey, Willie Mays on the Daily Show

Today on All Things Considered: Peter Hessler, author of Country Driving: A Journey Through China from Farm to Factory (Harper, $27.99, 9780061804090/0061804096).


Tomorrow morning on the Today Show: Jonathan Krohn, author of Defining Conservatism: The Principles That Will Bring Our Country Back (Vanguard Press, $19.95, 9781593156015/1593156014).

Also on Today: Adriana Trigiani, author of Brava, Valentine (Harper, $25.99, 9780061257070/0061257079).


Tomorrow on the View: Jackie Collins, author of Poor Little Bitch Girl (St. Martin's, $26.99, 9780312567453/0312567456).


Tomorrow night on the Daily Show: Willie Mays, subject of Willie Mays: The Life, The Legend by James S. Hirsch (Scribner, $30, 9781416547907/1416547908).


Tomorrow night on the Colbert Report: David Aaronovitch, author of Voodoo Histories: The Role of the Conspiracy Theory in Shaping Modern History (Riverhead, $26.95, 9781594488955/1594488959).

Movie on TV: The Edge of Never

A documentary featuring extreme skiers and based on The Edge of Never: A Skier's Story of Life, Death, and Dreams in the World's Most Dangerous Mountains by William Kerig (Stone Creek Publications, distributed by Independent Publishers Group, $15.95, 9780965633840/0965633845), had its Showtime premiere last Friday. To coincide with the Winter Olympics, the film will be reaired regularly on the channel through early March.

Kerig, who made the film and wrote the book, tells the story of Kye Petersen, a young extreme skier, as he skis the mountain in the French Alps where his father, renowed skier Trevor Petersen, was killed in an avalanche nine years earlier. A group of skier-mountaineers help to protect and guide Petersen as he attempts to finish his father’s final run.

Published in 2008, The Edge of Never was a 2008 Indie Next Notables selection, a Ben Franklin Award finalist and a Banff Mountain Book and Film Festival finalist in both book and film categories.

The Wolfman: Book & Film

For The Wolfman, which stars Benicio Del Toro, Anthony Hopkins, Emily Blunt and Hugo Weaving and opens this Friday, February 12, Tor Books is publishing The Wolfman by Jonathan Maberry, based on the movie's screenplay ($9.99, 9780765365163/0765365162).



Books & Authors

Literary Family Ties

Sascha Rothchild carried on a family tradition last month at Books & Books in Coral Gables, Fla., where she celebrated the publication of her memoir, How to Get Divorced by 30: My Misguided Attempt at a Starter Marriage (Plume, $15, 9780452295995/0452295998). Her father, John Rothchild, has appeared at the store numerous times over the years to promote his works, among them Up for Grabs: A Trip Through Time and Space in the Sunshine State.

"Books & Books is like home to me," said Sascha Rothchild, who grew up in Miami Beach and now lives in Los Angeles. "Having my first event there felt right and gave me this sensation of having come full circle, since I had been there so often listening to my father's book readings."

A feature about Rothchild in the Miami Herald helped draw a crowd of more than 100, including some surprise guests. Several of her former teachers showed up, as did the principal of her high school, who later thanked Rothchild for not mentioning the school by name when she read a passage from the book about her not-so-memorable years there.

In How to Get Divorced by 30, Rothchild recalls her walk down the aisle at 27 and the decision she made to end the union less than three years later. But there's more to her story than a short-lived marriage. "Although the book is titled How to Get Divorced by 30, it's very much a memoir of my life and doesn't just deal with my relationship with my ex-husband," Rothchild noted.

The event at Books & Books turned into a therapy session of sorts for some attendees. "The book is candid and fun, and I think that made people feel comfortable," Rothchild said. "They'd walk right up to me and say, 'I've been divorced two times' or 'My daughter is 29 and getting a divorce.' " A 20-something woman revealed that she was going to be reading the book for personal reasons: she wants a divorce and hadn't yet told her husband. "So many young people are getting divorced," Rothchild continued. "It's not necessarily a great trend, but it is happening, and I think it's good to deal with it in a positive way."

Rothchild is a film and TV writer, a guest blogger on and, and has been featured on NPR's This American Life. How to Get Divorced by 30 came about after she wrote a magazine article on the topic. When she later landed the book deal, she called her father and asked for advice. "I said, 'How am I going to write a book?' " she recalled. Dad's response? One page at a time. Rothchild also asked him for insight on whether to include certain personal details. "He told me the minute you're wondering if you should put something out there, that's the good stuff."--Shannon McKenna Schmidt


Awards: Charles Taylor Prize for Literary Nonfiction

Ian Brown, author of The Boy in the Moon: A Father’s Search for His Disabled Son, won Canada's $25,000 Charles Taylor Prize for Literary Nonfiction, which was awarded yesterday in Toronto, Quill & Quire reported.

Brown topped a shortlist that included Just Watch Me: The Life of Pierre Elliott Trudeau, 1968–2000 by John English, René Lévesque by Daniel Poliquin and The Uncrowned King: The Sensational Rise of William Randolph Hearst by Kenneth Whyte.


Attainment: Titles Appearing Next Week

Selected new titles appearing next Tuesday, February 16:

Dirtier Than Ever: A Novel by Vickie M. Stringer (Atria, $23.99, 9781439166116/1439166110) is the third novel with former prostitute and drug dealer Raven "Red" Gomez.

The Man from Beijing by Henning Mankell and Laurie Thompson (Knopf, $25.95, 9780307271860/0307271862) is a thriller about a murder in a remote Swedish village. Mankell is author of the Wallander series.

Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard by Chip Heath and Dan Heath (Broadway Business, $26, 9780385528757/0385528752) analyzes the process of making changes.

You Say More Than You Think: Use the New Body Language to Get What You Want!, the 7-day Plan by Janine Driver and Mariska van Aalst (Crown, $25, 9780307453976/0307453979) breaks down the meanings of different body language.

The Death of American Virtue: Clinton vs. Starr by Ken Gormley (Crown, $35, 9780307409447/0307409449) chronicles the impeachment trial of Bill Clinton.

Book Review

Book Review: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot (Crown Publishing Group (NY), $26.00 Hardcover, 9781400052172, February 2010)

In 1951, an African-American woman named Henrietta Lacks, raised by a tobacco sharecropper in a former slave cabin in rural Virginia, underwent an examination in the "colored-only" exam room at Baltimore's Johns Hopkins Hospital for what turned out to be the cervical cancer that would kill her in less than a year. During later treatment, and without her consent, her surgeon excised a dime-sized slice of cancerous tissue that would give birth to perhaps the most famous cells in medical history. The hardy, aggressive cells known as HeLa--some 20 metric tons of them cultured to date--have made their way into space and have spurred countless scientific advances, from polio vaccine to in vitro fertilization. In her first book, science journalist Rebecca Skloot uncovers their incredible story.

Skloot became fascinated by Henrietta Lacks's life when she learned of it in a biology class in 1988. Her greatest challenge in the 10 years of active research and writing it took her to produce this remarkable account lay in overcoming the intense suspicion and resentment of Henrietta's children (who did not learn of her singular role in scientific research until more than 20 years after her death), born of the belief that their mother had been cruelly exploited by the medical establishment.

To accompany her mastery of the scientific dimensions of the HeLa cells' epic life, Skloot brings to this telling an uncluttered, novelistic prose style and the gifts of a natural storyteller. What gives her account its depth and luster is her intense engagement with the Lacks family, in particular daughter Deborah, and her sympathetic portrayal of their struggle to come to terms with Henrietta's legacy. "The Lackses challenged everything I thought I knew about faith, science, journalism, and race," Skloot writes, and she succeeds in recounting their frequently painful circumstances revealingly, but without any hint of exploitation.

Skloot skillfully explores the thorny medical controversies implicated in Lacks's case, most notably the nature of informed consent required when patient tissue is used in medical research and whether patients should be compensated by those exploiting that tissue for commercial gain. Alongside these questions she probes disturbing issues of race and class that are, sadly, integral parts of the tale. 

It's worth pondering what a simple woman like Henrietta Lacks--who was buried in an unmarked grave in a town that's no longer on the map--would make of her own compelling afterlife. While it's hardly recompense for half a century of anguish, the Lacks family has attracted a worthy chronicler in Rebecca Skloot. It's a safe bet her gripping medical saga and family drama will find its way, deservedly, onto many critics' "Best of 2010" lists. --Harvey Freedenberg

Shelf Talker: Combining a fascinating medical story with an intense family drama, Rebecca Skloot's account of the famous HeLa cells is as compelling as many novels.

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