Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Harper Perennial: The Paris Model by Alexandra Joel

Algonquin Young Readers: Skunk and Badger (Skunk and Badger 1) by Amy Timberlake, illustrated by Jon Klassen

Andrews McMeel Publishing: How to Draw a Reindeer and Other Christmas Creatures with Simple Shapes in 5 Steps by Lulu Mayo

Houghton Mifflin: No Place for Monsters by Kory Merritt

Quotation of the Day

Now Is the 'Most Exciting Period to Be a Reader'

"Amidst all the doom and gloom (Books are dying! Print is dead! The Kindle will destroy us all! Big Publishers want to kill your pets! ARMAGEDDON IS NIGH!!!), I just want to take a moment to proclaim that this is quite possibly the most exciting period to be a reader in my lifetime. Think about it: when was the last time books and publishing were as much a part of the daily conversation as they are now?... [I]n my thirty years on this planet, I cannot remember a time when so many people were discussing books themselves, the future of books, and what it all means for everyone involved. All in all books have a 'buzz' about them that I can't recall ever feeling. The future of publishing feels like an important discussion well outside the cul-de-sac of the industry itself, and there are more books and book-related discussions than I can remember in a long, long time."--Jason Pinter in the Huffington Post.


University of California Press: Smoke But No Fire: Convicting the Innocent of Crimes That Never Happened by Jessica S. Henry


Notes: Amazon's E-Book Market Share to Fall; iPad's Digital Locks

Credit Suisse Group analysts predict that Amazon's share of e-book sales will drop to 72% this year--from 90% in 2009--as competition from Apple's iPad and Google increases, Bloomberg reported, but Amazon "may boost digital book sales by 83% this year to $248 million from $135 million last year.... By 2015, those sales should reach $775 million for a market share of 35%."

"We envision a scenario where Apple, Amazon and Google eventually split the market," noted the analysts--Spencer Wang, Kenneth Sena and John Blackledge--who also anticipate that digital sales will represent about 3% of total book sales in 2010, and grow to 20% percent of the book market by 2015.


When Apple's iBook store launches next month, "many of its titles are expected to come with a set of handsome digital locks designed to deter piracy," according to the Los Angeles Times. "Veteran iTunes customers will recognize the locks as FairPlay, a digital rights management software."

The Times also wrote that "the majority of publishers are expected to embrace FairPlay, along with other copy protection software such as Adobe's Content Server 4, as a means to squelch incipient book piracy as the e-book market begins to take off."


"Closing Is No Bellwether: Indie Bookstores Holding Their Own" was the headline of a Hartford Courant article published in the wake of Sarah Bedell's announcement last week that she would be shutting down Bookworm bookshop, West Hartford, Conn. (Shelf Awareness, February 9, 2010).

"Books are more recession-proof than big-ticket items, and we ended up with a very good year and a very solid and strong January. The chains never bothered us," Bedell said. The Courant noted that news of the closing "has led to at least one offer she is considering, in what she says is a 'slight chance' the store will remain open."

The Courant also conducted an informal survey of other indie booksellers in the state who "reported an encouraging uptick in sales late last year and agree that embracing Internet marketing can augment their vital personal connection with customers."

Roxanne Coady, owner of R.J. Julia Booksellers, Madison, called her program Just the Right Book "our future. Going forward, that's our opportunity. If R.J. Julia loses ground, Just The Right Book underwrites it." She noted that selling digital downloads will also play a key role and said, "Our goal is to be the Harry and David of books."

A "very supportive community" and the "buy local" movement were cited by Fran Keilty, co-owner of the Hickory Stick Bookshop, Washington Depot, as keys to the shop's good year: "Every quarter, we improved, and we had a good last quarter. We expect 2010 to be better.... We're seen as an integral part of the community, and people yearn for community. I'm amazed at the number of people who have come in and said one of the reasons they purchased homes here was because there is a bookstore. Real estate agents say it, too."


Intrigued by the absence of wi-fi in a new café opened by Borderlands Books, San Francisco, Calif., the Rumpus asked owner Alan Beatts how he made that decision.

"The question of wireless was one that I considered for quite a long time," Beatts recalled. "Even up to the last month before we opened I was on the fence. But, during the process of writing our mission statement, I realized that our focus on creating a social space rather than a work-space and my desire to encourage people to interact with each other made the decision about wi-fi pretty clear. I've observed and been told many times about how the availability of wi-fi creates a space where people are wrapped up in their own, solitary world and not interacting with each other. That was not the kind of place I wanted to own or work in."

Goerings Book Store, Gainesville Fla., which had posted its own obituary last month on the shop's website, closed during the first week of February. "Most people would agree, at least until the last few years, a community such as Gainesville ought to be able to support a serious independent bookstore," co-owner Tom Rider told the Sun.

In the obituary, he wrote that it had "become obvious at this point that an independent trade book store like Goerings Book Store was no longer possible in the Gainesville market. But, hey, we survived for thirty-eight years by meeting adverse market situations and by having wonderful, loyal customers." Rider will maintain the Goerings website as a virtual bookstore and will continue to post book reviews and commentary.

"We share many of the same customers," said Anne Haisley, co-owner of Books Inc., Gainesville, which she and her husband have put up for sale. "The customers come here, and they moan about their loss, and they just beg us to not close, to stay here for them."


"I have been shocked and overwhelmed by the response and feel like it is now completely out of my control," Eric Wakefield, owner of Golden Bough Bookstore, Macon, Ga., told, which reported that since buying the bookshop two years ago, he has "made a home for the people who look to the outskirts of pop culture for their entertainment. Wakefield just needed a way to get those people into the bookstore. That's when he started offering free live music on Tuesday nights."


Burien Books, a 50-year-old Seattle institution, is on the market. Longtime owner Virginia Pearce died late last year and her nephew, Joe Wisen, is now looking for a buyer, the Highline Times reported.

"We are actively trying to sell it and if it doesn't sell quickly we will have to close it down," he said. "It has some value to it, in that everyone knows where it is."


The Electronic Frontier Foundation offered readers a checklist called "Digital Books and Your Rights," noting that "as new digital book tools and services roll out, we need to be able to evaluate not only the cool features they offer, but also whether they extend (or hamper) our rights and expectations. The over-arching question: Are digital books as good or better than physical books at protecting you and your rights as a reader?


If you've been wondering about the 250 most-borrowed books at libraries in the U.K. from July, 2008 to June, 2009, have we got a chart for you. The Guardian reported that the top three authors overall were Americans James Patterson, Nora Roberts and Danielle Steel. The top 10 books on the list:

  1. Sail by James Patterson
  2. No Time for Goodbye by Linwood Barclay    
  3. 7th Heaven by James Patterson with Maxine Paetro    
  4. You've Been Warned by James Patterson and Howard Roughan
  5. The Outcast by Sadie Jones    
  6. Nothing to Lose by Lee Child
  7. The Front by Patricia Cornwell    
  8. Hold Tight by Harlan Coben    
  9. The Appeal by John Grisham
  10. Friday Nights by Joanna Trollope      


Book trailer of the day: The Money Book for Freelancers, Part-Timers, and the Self-Employed: The Only Personal Finance Book for People with Not-So-Regular Jobs by Joseph D'Agnese and Denise Kiernan (Three Rivers Press).


Kevin Hamric has joined the News Group as v-p of book operations. He was formerly v-p of sales and marketing at Quayside Publishing Group and, earlier, was sales director at the Taunton Press


is partnering with Independent Publishers Group and IPG Digital to create accessible formats of the group's bestselling titles. ReadHowYouWant's conversion technology will repurpose the books into alternative formats, including large print, braille, e-books, synthesized audio MP3 and DAISY--a talking book format that produces audio along with the written text.


GLOW: Houghton Mifflin: How I Built This: The Unexpected Paths to Success from the World's Most Inspiring Entrepreneurs by Guy Raz

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Eating, Execution, Espionage

Today on NPR's Diane Rehm Show: Roger Rosenblatt, author of Making Toast (Ecco, $21.99, 9780061825934/006182593X).


Tomorrow morning on Good Morning America: Dr. Michael Roizen and Dr. Mehmet Oz, authors of You: On a Diet Revised Edition: The Owner's Manual for Waist Management (Free Press, $26.99, 9781439164969/1439164967).


Tomorrow on NPR's Diane Rehm Show: David R. Dow, author of The Autobiography of an Execution (Twelve, $24.99, 9780446562065/0446562068).


Tomorrow on KCRW's Bookworm: Javier Marias, author of Your Face Tomorrow: Poison, Shadow, and Farewell (Vol. 3) (New Directions, $24.95, 9780811218122/0811218120). As the show put it: "What if Henry James--the patron saint of convolution--could be resurrected? What if he wrote a novel of espionage so complex it became a trilogy? The great Spanish writer Javier Marías has stepped in and taken on the epic task. In this conversation about the concluding volume of Your Face Tomorrow, a hilarious and brilliant book, we follow some of its literary loops and whorls." This is part one of a two-part interview.

Atheneum Books for Young Readers: Tune It Out by Jamie Summer

Movies: Frankenstein Is Alive in the 21st Century

Producers Ralph Winter and Terry Botwick acquired the film rights to Dean Koontz's Frankenstein series. Variety reported that the "project places the doctor--a socially prominent and successful businessman--and his super-human original creation Deucalion in modern-day New Orleans." Winter and Botwick, who are hoping to launch a franchise, said, "These books have enough twists and turns to keep the public coming back to the theaters for many years to come."

Three titles in the Koontz series--Prodigal Son, City of Night and Dead and Alive--have been published. The fourth, Lost Souls, "will be released June 22, with the fifth and sixth books to follow in 2011 and 2012," Variety wrote. 


University Press of Kentucky: The Redshirt (University Press of Kentucky New Poetry & Prose) by Corey Sobel

Books & Authors

Awards: Lincoln Prize; BTBA Poetry & Fiction Finalists

Michael Burlingame won the $50,000 Lincoln Prize for his two-volume biography, Abraham Lincoln: A Life. The prize, which is sponsored by Gettysburg College and the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, will be awarded April 27 in New York City.

"Burlingame's massive biography of Abraham Lincoln is a landmark of American historical scholarship," Lehrman said. "Nothing surpasses Burlingame's comprehensive and detailed research into the entire life of Lincoln. His prose and arguments are always clear and straightforward, even if some judgments will be vigorously debated."

The shortlist for this year's Lincoln Prize included John Brown's War Against Slavery by Robert McGlone and A Dangerous Stir: Fear, Paranoia, and the Making of Reconstruction by Mark Wahlgren Summers.


Finalists for 2010 Best Translation Book Awards in fiction and poetry were named last night during a reception hosted by Idlewild Books in New York City. Winners in both categories will be announced March 10.

"This is definitely the most diverse and interesting group of finalists yet," said Chad W. Post, director of Three Percent. "Writers from all over the world are represented here, as are a range of large and small publishers. It's great to see such a healthy mix of more 'known' authors along with some new voices. I think both panels did a great job identifying the best of the best of international literature published last year. One could use these lists as a primer for learning about contemporary world lit."


Attainment: New Books Out Next Week

Selected new titles appearing next Tuesday, February 23:

Big Girl: A Novel
by Danielle Steel (Delacorte, $28, 9780385343183/0385343183) explores the life a girl who lives in the shadow her younger sister and is belittled by her parents.

The Infinities by John Banville (Knopf, $25.95, 9780307272799/0307272796) follows the antics of Greek deities as they interfere in the lives of a dying man and his children.

Reality Hunger: A Manifesto by David Shields (Knopf, $24.95, 9780307273536/0307273539) is a call for reflection on our artificial version of reality.

Spark: How Old-Fashioned Values Drive a Twenty-First-Century Corporation: Lessons from Lincoln Electric's Unique Guaranteed Employment Program by Frank Koller (PublicAffairs, $25.95, 9781586487959/1586487957) chronicles the history of a company that never lays off its employees.

The Man from Saigon: A Novel
by Marti Leimbach (Nan A. Talese, $25.95, 9780385529860/0385529864) is set in 1967 in Vietnam, where a war correspondent is captured by the Viet Cong.

Jerry West: The Life and Legend of a Basketball Icon by Roland Lazenby (ESPN, $28, 9780345510839/0345510836) is the biography of the basketball player featured on the NBA logo.


German Book Office Pick: Don Juan: His Own Version

For its February book pick, the German Book Office has chosen Don Juan: His Own Version by Peter Handke, which was released here earlier this month in a translation by Krishna Winston (FSG, $22, 9780374142315/0374142319).

The book is narrated by a lonely French innkeeper who listens to Don Juan tell of his conquests in the bedroom and the exotic places in which they took place. The tales are told sparely and conversationally. As the GBO noted: "Far from the assertive Casanova one has come to expect, Handke's Juan is a man resigned to his lot in life. He is a simple victim of fate: and good looks."

Peter Handke is the author of The Goalie's Anxiety at the Penalty Kick, A Sorrow Beyond Dreams, My Year in No-Man's Bay, On a Dark Night I Left My Silent House and Crossing the Sierra de Gredos, all published in the U.S. by FSG.

Krishna Winston is a professor of German language and literature at Wesleyan University and the 2001 recipient of the Helen and Kurt Wolff Translation Prize.

Book Brahmin: Monika Fagerholm

Monika Fagerholm was born in 1961 and belongs to the Swedish-speaking community in Finland. Her much-praised first novel, Wonderful Women by the Sea, became one of the most widely translated Scandinavian literary novels of the mid-'90s and was nominated for the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. In 1998, she published the cult novel Diva, which won the Swedish Literature Society Award. Her third novel, The American Girl, won the premier literary award in Sweden, the August Prize, as well as the Aniara Prize and the Gothenburg Post Award. In the U.S., it was published yesterday by Other Press.
On your nightstand now:
Absalom, Absalom! by William Faulkner. I adore William Faulkner, wouldn't be able to live (at least I don't think so) without William Faulkner.
Favorite book when you were a child:
Crictor by Tomi Ungerer. A book about a long, long colonial snake named Criktor, who was sent by an explorer in Africa to his elderly mother in a French village. It's about how the snake got into French habits and became a real cosmopolitan citizen, but also about the love between an adorable boa constrictor and an old woman. All the serious political undertones in the story, which of course I pick up on only now as I cherish this memory as an adult, don't make this book bad either. It's lovely, lovely.
Your top five authors:
It varies. I don't like "favorite book" lists. Books are life, experiences, not Masterpieces or Authors. That said, Light in August and almost everything by William Faulkner, Les Enfants Terribles by Cocteau, Living in the Maniototo by Janet Frame, short stories by Alice Munro, and the big, big one by David Foster Wallace, Infinite Jest.
Book you've faked reading:
Ulysses by James Joyce. I have started it numerous times. BUT I have read Finnegans Wake, one of my all-time favorites.
Book you're an evangelist for:
A Boy's Own Story by Edmund White.
Book you've bought for the cover:
I would buy a book with two women in yellow '60s cocktail dresses and big sunglasses flying on a carpet up in the sky, over land and rooftops... but I haven't found one with that cover yet.
Book that changed your life:
There are many. Crime and Punishment by Dostoevsky when I was in my 20s and dropped out of my psychology studies to start reading and writing. A Boy's Own Story by Edmund White and Blood and Guts in High School by Kathy Acker.
Favorite line from a book:
Oh, there a lots; right now it's "Between grief and nothing I'll take grief," from The Wild Palms by William Faulkner, and "It's not necessary to write and be right because writing and being right is creating more illusions: it's necessary to destroy and be wrong," by Kathy Acker.
Book you most want to read again for the first time:
Jean Stafford: A Biography by David Roberts or The Envoy from Mirror City by Janet Frame.

Book Review

Children's Review: Out of My Mind

Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper (Atheneum Books, $16.99 Hardcover, 9781416971702, March 2010)

What would you do if you could not make yourself known, if you had thoughts you could not speak? That is narrator Melody Brooks's plight: "By the time I was two, all my memories had words, and all my words had meanings. But only in my head," she writes. "I have never spoken one single word. I am almost eleven years old." This is her story, and also the story of a loving family and their devoted neighbor, who help Melody along on her path to say what she needs to say.

Sharon Draper (Copper Sun; Forged by Fire), who herself has a child with cerebral palsy--though she explicitly states that this is not her daughter's story--inhabits the brilliant, frustrated mind and unresponsive body of this child. This is the kind of book--like Terry Trueman's Stuck in Neutral or Harriet McBryde Johnson's Accidents of Nature--that makes readers aware of their own biases, and of what a great disservice those biases do to human beings whose outer trappings belie an extraordinary intelligence within. Draper's book is distinctive for the way she traces Melody's journey and her attempts to communicate from as far back as she can remember. In often poetic language, Melody describes how early on she "began to recognize noises and smells and tastes. The whump and whoosh of the furnace coming alive each morning. The tangy odor of heated dust as the house warmed up." The author smoothly structures the book in a way that builds suspense while also creating a fuller picture of Melody's daily life. One chapter discusses obstacles from the medical community. At age five, Mrs. Brooks takes Melody to a doctor who says that Melody is "severely brain-damaged and profoundly retarded." Mrs. Brooks defends Melody's intelligence to him ("She laughs at jokes... right at the punch line") and, in another chapter describing Melody's life at school, stands up to a teacher who also underestimates her daughter's mental acuity.

A turning point occurs during one of Melody's daily after-school stays with next-door neighbor Mrs. Violet Valencia ("Mrs. V"): she and six-year-old Melody happen upon a documentary about Stephen Hawking. "Melody, if you had to choose, which would you rather be able to do--walk or talk?" asks Mrs. V. "Talk. Talk. Talk," Melody answers, by repeatedly pointing at the word on her communication board. This begins Melody's quest to find the tools to express herself--first with word cards she makes with Mrs. V, then with phrases and, finally, with an electronic Medi-Talker. Melody takes charge of her own education and her means of communication. She thrives in her "inclusion classes" with the mainstream students academically, but is not accepted by them socially. Even the most compassionate classmate can fall to peer pressure, as Melody learns on the brink of her greatest achievement on the Whiz Kids quiz team. Melody sees clearly the challenges before her, and it is the source of her greatest heartbreak but also her greatest inspiration. It's impossible to close this book without thinking about the world differently.--Jennifer M. Brown


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