Shelf Awareness for Thursday, February 18, 2010


Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers: Roxy by Neal Shusterman and Jarrod Shusterman

Shadow Mountain: Missing Okalee by Laura Ojeda Melchor

Sharjah Publishing City Free Zone: Start your entrepreneurial journey with affordable packages, starting from $1,566

Candlewick Press: Mi Casa Is My Home by Laurenne Sala, illustrated by Zara González Hoang

Mountains & Plains Independent Booksellers Association: We're throwing a bookselling party and you're invited!

Big Picture Press: Art of Protest: Creating, Discovering, and Activating Art for Your Revolution by De Nichols

Callaway Arts & Entertainment: The Beatles: Get Back by The Beatles, photographed by Linda McCartney

St. Martin's Press: The Christie Affair by Nina De Gramont

News

Notes: B&N's Board Stymies Burkle; Amazon's E-Book Win

Barnes & Noble's board of directors voted unanimously to reject Ronald Burkle's bid to raise his stake in the company to 37% (Shelf Awareness, February 2, 2010). In a letter to Burkle filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission Wednesday, "the board said it had adopted its shareholder-rights plan--which it can implement when an investor acquires more than 20% of the retailer's common stock--to 'protect our shareholders from actions that are inconsistent with their best interests,' " the Wall Street Journal reported.

The decision "sets the stage for a possible proxy battle," according to the Journal. Three directors on B&N's nine-member board are up for re-election this year: chairman Leonard Riggio, who owns 27.8% of the bookseller's common stock; Michael Del Giudice, an investment banker; and Lawrence Zilavy, v-p of B&N College Booksellers.

The board's letter to Burkle "also said that Barnes & Noble's directors, management and other executives currently own about 31% of the retailer's common stock, excluding options that can't be voted."

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In response to reports earlier this week that Amazon's share of the e-book market may be substantially diminished by competitors' gains (Shelf Awareness, February 17, 2010), Sarah Weinman suggested in Daily Finance that "the prediction may really be a cause for celebration--even for Amazon."

In citing predictions by Credit Suisse analysts of dramatic growth in the e-book market during the next decade and beyond, Weinman observed that "a huge percentage of a small overall figure still doesn't return as much money as a smaller percentage of a much larger figure.... even if it loses ground to Apple and other tech and book companies on the e-book front, the big picture--for Amazon, and for publishing--is surprisingly healthy."

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Market share isn't the only issue making e-book headlines. Today's New York Times reported that "as more details come to light of the actual negotiations between Apple and publishers, it appears that Apple left room to sell some of the most popular books at a discount."

In the agreements with the five major publishers that Steve Jobs cited during iPad's launch last month, "Apple inserted provisions requiring publishers to discount e-book prices on best sellers--so that $12.99-to-$14.99 range was merely a ceiling; prices for some titles could be lower, even as low as Amazon’s $9.99," the Times wrote.

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J.K. Rowling's name has been added to a lawsuit that alleges she stole ideas for Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire from a 1987 book, The Adventures of Willy the Wizard--No. 1 Livid Land by the late Adrian Jacobs. The Associated Press reported that Jacobs's estate "also claims that many other ideas from Willy the Wizard were copied into the Harry Potter books."

Although the lawsuit was filed last June against Bloomsbury Publishing, Rowling's name was added more recently when it was discovered that "the statute of limitations to sue her had not run out, as previously thought," the AP wrote.

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In the first of what will be a monthly series of columns for Huffington Post, David Del Vecchio of Idlewild Books, New York, N.Y., showcased fiction finalists for the Best Translated Book Award (Shelf Awareness, February 17, 2010) and discussed his role promoting interest in translated work as the owner of a bookstore dedicated to travel and international fiction.

"I can report that there is a strong market for world lit, even if big publishers and big chain stores have largely relinquished it to the smaller players," he observed. "Many of our customers are interested in foreign authors because they're planning a trip and want to read a novel set in their destination, but most of our customers just live or work in the neighborhood and are looking for a great read, and are excited to find books they don't see everywhere else."

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"I would love for this place to be a location. I would like it to be a destination," Jeffrey Hamilton--owner of Lied used bookstore, Vermillion, S.D.--told the Volante, University of South Dakota's student newspaper.

Hamilton, who took over the former Main Street Books in 2008, "has sought to build the bookstore, now titled Lied, the German word for 'song,' into a cultural center.... Hamilton said he hopes to incorporate coffee and pastries to help encourage community. He wants to put more tables and chairs in the front room, where people can stop in and grab coffee and a scone, and write a novel or some poetry. In the back room, he wants to have comfortable seating and couches, a place where people can go and discuss literature and art."

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Included among TimeOut New York's "10 things we love about Fulton Street" in Brooklyn: Greenlight Bookstore's NYC section, where you can "school yourself on the city you love." 

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For Presidents Day, the Daily Beast ranked the top 19 presidents who were also the most avid readers and book collectors: "We judge our presidents on their economic, military, and political accomplishments, but what of their reading? Is there perhaps a connection between the best-read presidents and those who sit near the top of rankings of the best presidents in history?"

Spoiler alert: Theodore Roosevelt was number one.

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Cool idea of the day: Beginning in March, some rail commuters in the U.K. will have an entertainment alternative to other people's cell phone conversations. First Capital Connect, which operates lines between London, Brighton, Bedford, Peterborough, Cambridge and King's Lynn, is introducing a new monthly book club, and will hand out chapter samplers 10 days each month at stations. The Guardian reported that Jonathan Kellerman's Evidence will be the debut read on the rails.

First Capital Connect "said it hoped the scheme would brighten journeys and help improve its service. It plans to offer a new title in the book club each month, but did not comment on whether Agatha Christie's Murder on the Orient Express, in which a man is stabbed to death in his sleep on a train, might be a future offer," the Guardian wrote.

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Book trailer of the day: Wild Child: And Other Stories by T.C. Boyle (Viking).

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On Boing Boing, Maggie Koerth-Baker featured Sherman Alexie reading his poem "Ode to My Sharona" (from ACRL Seattle 2009), "partly in honor of the death of The Knack lead singer Doug Fieger, partly to commemorate the greatest one-hit-wonder song to ever hypnotically compel every single person in a bar to shake their ass on the dance floor, but mostly because I am a giant Sherman Alexie fan girl."

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As part of its "Asylum drinks with writers" series, Asylum.com editor Anthony Layser chatted with author Joshua Ferris over a couple of pints.

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Who are you going to believe? Henry Sutton chose his top 10 unreliable narrators for the Guardian.

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What are you using to mark your place in the novel you're reading right now? AbeBooks cautioned readers to "be careful what you use as a bookmark. Thousands of dollars, a Christmas card signed by Frank Baum, a Mickey Mantle rookie baseball card, a marriage certificate from 1879, a baby's tooth, a diamond ring and a handwritten poem by Irish writer Katharine Tynan Hickson are just some of the stranger objects discovered inside books by AbeBooks.com booksellers."

 


Berkley Books: Good Rich People by Eliza Jane Brazier


Google Settlement Hearing: Is Today Judgment Day?

At 10 a.m. this morning, Judge Denny Chin, of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, will preside over the long-awaited Google settlement hearing, which "is shaping up to be a lengthy affair," according to the Wall Street Journal.

Judge Chin "has given 28 parties five minutes each to speak. Twenty-three of those–-including Microsoft, Amazon.com, AT&T and the French Republic–-are scheduled to speak in opposition.... Five, including Sony Electronics Inc. and the Center of Democracy & Technology, are expected to voice their support," the Journal reported.

Then the Justice Department, which recently criticized the deal (Shelf Awareness, February 5, 2010), will have an opportunity to voice its concerns, followed by representatives for Google, the Authors Guild and the Association of American Publishers.

While Judge Chin may not make a decision on the case today, "the event could be noteworthy for the questions he asks and some verbal fireworks," The Journal wrote.

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Cnet News
featured a "How did we get here?" timeline and agreed that few observers expect a decision from Judge Chin today, but "clues as to his final ruling could be evident from the line of questioning that he pursues."

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Open Book Alliance's Peter Brantley "suggested that Google should have dropped the scheme's approach of forcing authors to come forward if they object to its terms, rather than asking them to opt in if they want to take part," the Guardian reported.

"I think by the end of the day on Thursday, we will have some sense of how this action will be perceived by the court," he said. "I believe that the statements of the dissenting parties, and in particular the Department of Justice, are clear in reiterating that critical deformities exist in the proposal."

 


Paraclete Press: Mr. Nicholas: A Magical Christmas Tale by Christopher de Vinck


Media and Movies

Media Heat: Enemies of the People

Today on the Book Studio: Henning Mankell, author of The Man From Beijing (Knopf, $26, 9780307271860/0307271862).

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Tomorrow morning on MSNBC's Morning Joe: Kati Marton, author of Enemies of the People: My Family's Journey to America (Simon & Schuster, $26, 9781416586128/1416586121).

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Tomorrow on the Book Studio: Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project (Harper, $26, 9780061583254/0061583251).

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Tomorrow on the Tyra Banks Show: Steven Ward and JoAnn Ward, authors of Crash Course in Love (VH1, $17.99, 9781439177334/1439177333).

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Tomorrow night on the Jimmy Kimmel Show: Lauren Conrad, author of Sweet Little Lies: An L.A. Candy Novel (HarperCollins, $17.99, 9780061767609/0061767603).


Berkley Books: Sadie on a Plate by Amanda Elliot


This Weekend on Book TV: The Case for Books

Book TV airs on C-Span 2 this week 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, February 20

8 a.m. For an event hosted by the Harvard Book Store, Cambridge, Mass., Robert Darnton, author of The Case for Books: Past, Present, and Future (PublicAffairs, $23.95, 9781586488260/1586488260), recounts the creation of the bound book or codex and presents his thoughts on its future. (Re-airs Sunday at 7:45 p.m. and Monday at 1 a.m.)

10:30 a.m. Robin Sax, author of It Happens Every Day: Inside the World of a Sex Crimes D.A. (Prometheus Books, $26, 9781591027584/1591027586), suggests ways to combat crimes against children. (Re-airs Saturday at 11 p.m. and Monday at 5 a.m.)

11:30 a.m. Leonard Miller, author of Racing While Black: How an African-American Stock Car Team Made Its Mark on NASCAR (Seven Stories Press, $24.95, 9781583228968/1583228969), chronicles the first successful black team in a white-dominated sport. (Re-airs Sunday at 10 p.m.)

1:30 p.m. Michael Kranish, author of Flight From Monticello: Thomas Jefferson at War (Oxford University Press, $27.95, 9780195374629/0195374622), recounts the ideological and political maturation of Jefferson. (Re-airs Monday at 2:15 a.m.)

7 p.m. Joel Kotkin, author of The Next Hundred Million: America in 2050 (Penguin, $25.95, 9781594202445/1594202443), predicts there will be a resurgence of "heartland living" in a country that is far more "post-racial." (Re-airs Sunday at 2:30 p.m.)

9:15 p.m. For an event hosted by Book Revue, Huntington, N.Y., 14-year-old conservative pundit Jonathan Krohn talks about his book, Defining Conservatism: The Principles that Will Bring Our Country Back (Vanguard Press, $19.95, 9781593156015/1593156014). (Re-airs Sunday at 9:30 a.m. and Monday at 4 a.m.)

10 p.m. After Words. Greg Craig, the former White House counsel who served as Special Counsel for President Bill Clinton, interviews Ken Gormley, author of The Death of American Virtue: Clinton v. Starr (Crown, $35, 9780307409447/0307409449). (Re-airs Sunday at 9 p.m., and Monday at 12 a.m. and 3 a.m.)

Sunday, February 21

1:30 a.m. CNN commentator Leslie Sanchez, author of You've Come a Long Way, Maybe (Palgrave Macmillan, $25, 9780230618169/0230618162), discusses the role of women in American politics. (Re-airs Sunday at 10:30 a.m. and 6:30p .m.)

4 p.m. Friends of the late Howard Zinn gather at Busboys and Poets, Washington, D.C., to pay tribute to the historian and political activist.

 


Movies: The Monk

Vincent Cassel will star in a film adaptation of The Monk, an 18th-century gothic novel by Matthew Lewis depicting "the rise and tragic downfall of Capucin Ambrosio, a respected Spanish monk," Variety reported. The movie, directed by Dominik Moll, will also feature Deborah Francois, Sergi Lopez and Geraldine Chaplin. Filming is scheduled to begin by mid-April.

 


Books & Authors

Awards: Icelandic Literary Prize

Bankster, a novel by Gudmundur Óskarsson, and Jöklar á Íslandi (Glaciers in Iceland), a nonfiction work by Helgi Björnsson, received the Icelandic Literary Prize, the Iceland Review reported.

 



Book Review

Mandahla: The Information Officer

The Information Officer by Mark Mills (Random House (NY), $25.00 Hardcover, 9781400068180, February 2010)



London, May 1951: In a posh restaurant a stone's throw away from the Ritz, a man waits for his wife to join him for dinner. A waiter appears with a bottle of wine on ice; thinking his wife has ordered it, the man smiles, but when he sees the label, his face turns white.

Malta, May 1942: Major Max Chadwick summons a waiter to order coffee, and explains to his new assistant, Pemberton, his duties at the Information Office--manipulating the news to aid the British war effort by keeping Maltese spirits up. Not an easy job; in the last two months, the tiny island has been hit by twice the tonnage of bombs than fell on London in the worst 12 months of the Blitz. British airmen are the only ones capable of carrying the battle to the enemy, but regrettably they have few Spitfires, and the artillery banks have been rationed to 15 rounds per gun per day. The only hope is for more planes, but no one knows if and when they will arrive.

These two events, 11 years apart, are connected by something about to make Chadwick's job much more difficult: the discovery of a brutally murdered local woman, a sherry queen, as bar hostesses were called. He soon finds that this is the third murder of a young woman on the island, and if the murders become public knowledge, local support for the British could tip against them, since one clue points toward a British submarine officer. Further complicating Chadwick's life, the officer is the husband of Chadwick's lover.

The plot in Mills's novel has twists that keep the reader guessing and reassessing until the last page. There is a traitor on the island, a soulless man who has learned to manufacture emotions. The obvious murderer is the submariner, the dark horse is Elliott, a mysterious American liaison officer, and Max's other friends--Freddie, a British doctor, and Ralph, an injured British pilot--may also be involved.

Equally as interesting as the mystery is Mills's description of World War II Malta, an island whose history is "rich, romantic and violent." The Maltese, with "their wry humour, their rough savoir faire, and their burning faith," must flee every day and night to underground shelters, but "what good were soaring battlements against an enemy who assaulted you from the air with bombs? All you could do was cower and pray. The cowering had helped a little, saved a few lives, but the prayers had fallen on deaf ears." The tensions between the Maltese and the British are played out in subtle ways. The cocktail hours at a commander's house are spent without local help to pour the drinks, because "it wouldn't be good for relations if the Maltese staff were to witness the excesses of their brothers in suffering." And there's the almost unbearable stress of everyone knowing that Malta was a dumping ground for Britain's shabbiest aircraft and least promising pilots. "Heavy drinking was just about the fastest route to an early grave for a fighter pilot, but given the shortage of serviceable aircraft on the island, almost everyone present could guarantee they wouldn't be flying the following day." But all hands make more than the best of it, and the bravery of both the Maltese and the British are astounding. In The Information Officer, Mark Mills has written both a satisfying thriller and a testament to an important but little-known part of World War II.--Marilyn Dahl

Shelf Talker: A mystery set on Malta during World War II, with satisfying plot twists and rich descriptions of a fascinating island, people and period of history.


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