Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Yearling Books: When You Trap a Tiger by Tae Keller

Pantheon Books: Chain Gang All Stars by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah

Scholastic Press: The Guardian Test (Legends of Lotus Island #1) by Christina Soontornvat, illustrated by Kevin Hong

Tor Books: The First Bright Thing by J.R. Dawson


Random House Consolidates Ballantine & Bantam Dell

Ballantine and Bantam Dell are being consolidated into a single publishing group within Random House. Libby McGuire--former senior v-p, publisher at Ballantine Books--has been promoted to senior v-p, publisher of the newly formed Ballantine Bantam Dell. Nita Taublib is stepping down as Bantam Dell’s executive v-p, publisher and editor-in-chief, and will leave the company.

McGuire will oversee hardcover and mass market publishing programs for the imprints Ballantine, Bantam, Del Rey/Spectra, Delacorte, Dell, ESPN Books, One World, Presidio and Villard. Trade paperback editions of these imprints will continue to be published under Jane von Mehren, senior v-p, publisher, trade paperbacks.
McGuire, who will report to Random House president and publisher Gina Centrello, named her senior management team: Jennifer Hershey, senior v-p, editorial director, Random House, has been promoted to senior v-p, editor-in-chief of Ballantine Bantam Dell. Scott Shannon adds the title of publisher, Ballantine Bantam Dell Mass Market to his current role as v-p, publisher, Del Rey/Spectra. Kim Hovey, v-p, associate publisher for Ballantine will become v-p, associate publisher for Ballantine Bantam Dell. Gina Wachtel, Bantam associate publisher, takes on the new role of associate publisher, Bantam Ballantine Dell Mass Market. 


G.P. Putnam's Sons: The Only Game in Town by Lacie Waldon

Notes: Amazon Warehouse Debate Continues; Nina Bourne Dies

In an editorial supporting the Canadian government's decision this week permitting Amazon to build a warehouse in the country (Shelf Awareness, April 13, 2010), the Globe & Mail observed that there "is little that is culturally distinctive about a warehouse; consequently, James Moore, the Minister of Canadian Heritage, was right to permit, an American-owned online bookseller, to establish a distribution centre in Canada.

"The bookstores that contribute most to Canadian literary culture are those that bear the marks of the sensibility of the proprietor in the selection of books on the shelves, and in face-to-face events such as book launches and authors' readings. In contrast, the strength of a large online bookseller such as Amazon is the ability to distribute as many titles as possible; in other words, to be non-selective."

But the CBC reported that Tory McNally of McNally Robinson Booksellers had expressed suspicion about the agreement through which Amazon "will invest more than $20 million, including $1.5 million for cultural events and awards and to promote Canadian-written books abroad."

"I wonder what that actually means in practice," she said. "I could say that all of the money I put into our personal website is doing the exact same thing because people in Sri Lanka can also buy books from us--but is that helping the Canadian cultural community?"


Obituary note: Nina Bourne, who worked as a publishing executive for Simon & Schuster and for Knopf, died last Friday. She was 93. The New York Times praised Bourne's talent for crafting "unfussy advertisements, peppered with understated but punchy copy, [which] helped propel Joseph Heller’s Catch-22, Kay Thompson’s Eloise books and Robert Caro’s Robert Moses biography The Power Broker to the top of the bestseller lists."

"She was the genius of book-publishing ads and acknowledged as such," said editor Robert Gottlieb, a longtime colleague and friend. "She was also a great publisher who read manuscripts, made editorial notes and devoted all her energy to telling the world how much we loved the book."


KALW News interviewed Beau Beausoleil, owner of the Great Overland Book Company, San Francisco, Calif., about his efforts to help Baghdad's book community through the Al-Mutanabbi Street Coalition, "a growing group of local writers, artists, poets, and printers, who create awareness about the bombing of Al-Mutanabbi Street through print." Three years ago, the legendary street filled with bookstores and outdoor book stalls experienced massive damage and loss of life as a result of a car bomb.


The Book Nook, Wilton Manors, Fla., celebrates its grand opening this Friday. South Florida Gay News reported that owner Alan Fisher's inspiration for the bookshop came while he was working at Gay Mart: "Shoppers frequently asked me, 'Where is the local bookstore?'  It was hard to tell them there was nothing local, and independently owned, where they could both learn information about the community and pick up a national best seller."


U.K. online retailer the Book Depository has launched an e-book store with "more than 340,000 e-books available for download," the reported.


Tor/Forge's blog showcased the Sacred Rock of Tor, which was used during the late 1980s to help reboot the publisher's single computer, an IBM PC AT with an amber monitor: "Towards the end of its life... it could only be rebooted by smartly hitting its CPU on the side with a particular rock. Several people shared the computer and each person had his or her own style of rock banging, and over time, the side of the CPU gradually bowed in due to repeated impacts. Claire Eddy still has the rock, kept in a high place of honor in her office."


Hyperion will publish a book of interviews historian Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. conducted with Jacqueline Kennedy that were recorded "just months after the death of President John F. Kennedy and intended for deposit in a future presidential library," the New York Times reported. Her daughter, Caroline, is editing the book. A September 2011 release is planned to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Kennedy presidency.


The Twilight effect. Sales of Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights have quadrupled during the past year due to the popularity of Stephenie Meyer's books and their film adaptations. The Telegraph reported that prior to the 2005 release of the first book in the series, the classic novel "sold 8,551 a year in Britain. However, the publishers HarperCollins reissued Wuthering Heights last year, with a cover inspired by the Twilight artwork and including the tag-line: 'Bella and Edward's favourite book.' Following this reissue, sales peaked at 2,634 in one week and totaled 34,023 during the year."


Book reviews are so old school. "Neuro lit crit" could become "the cutting edge of literary studies, a rapidly expanding field that is blending scientific processes with the study of literature and other forms of fiction," the Guardian reported.

Sometime later this year, a dozen students in New England "will be given a series of specially designed texts to read. Then they will be loaded into a hospital MRI machine and their brains scanned to map their neurological responses," the Guardian wrote.


NPR's What We're Reading list this week includes Beatrice and Virgil by Yann Martel, The Bridge: The Life and Rise of Barack Obama by David Remnick and Imperfect Birds by Anne Lamott


Book trailer of the day: Broke Is Beautiful by Laura Lee (Running Press).


Effective January 1, 2011, all worldwide English-language and e-book distribution for Soho Press will be handled by Random House Publisher Services. Soho has been distributed by Consortium since 2003 and earlier was distributed by FSG.

In a statement, Soho publisher Bronwen Hruska said, "Consortium has been an excellent distributor. During our time with Consortium, we grew significantly, thanks to Julie Schaper and the savvy Consortium staff. But looking to the future, I believe Random House Publisher Services is the right distributor to take us into the next phase of Soho's life. I was convinced by the excellent reputation of Random House and their aggressive approach towards getting books out there--a feat that's getting harder and harder in this economic climate."


GLOW: Putnam: The Three of Us by Ore Agbaje-Williams

Audiobook Promotion Gets a Test Drive

Carshare customers in cities across the country will soon have added entertainment during their drives--free audiobooks, courtesy of Random House Audio. The publisher is partnering with City CarShare in San Francisco and CarShare Vermont in Burlington, as well as organizations in Chicago; Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minn.; Denver and Boulder, Colo.; and Buffalo and Ithaca, N.Y.

Available for download at are free, full-length recordings of five titles: Fraud by David Rakoff; The Alibi Man by Tami Hoag; The Geometry of Sisters by Luanne Rice; Percy Jackson: The Demigod Files by Rick Riordan; and Mercy Watson to the Rescue by Kate DiCamillo. There are also audiobook recommendations for long and short drives; a 15% discount offer on orders for carshare members; and facts about the benefits of carsharing (e.g., one shared car replaces eight-plus individually owned cars). In addition, carshare vehicles will be stocked with CD mixes of audiobook clips from 14 adult and children's titles.

The promotion launches on Earth Day, April 22, and runs through the summer. All of the carshare groups Random House Audio is working with are nonprofits. Customers pay a membership fee to join the organizations. "When you're traveling and renting a car, there isn't much loyalty to a rental agency," said Random House Audio publicist Nicole Kuritsky. "You're typically going to go with the cheapest deal for that trip. But these carshares are very much involved in their local communities."

The carshare organizations regularly reach out to members via their websites, e-mail blasts, social media and in-car promotions, and they'll actively spread the word about the audiobook campaign. Random House Audio is also working with the organizations to tap into Twitter conversations about carshares, green transportation and audiobooks.

While researching carshares, Kuritsky (who has since joined a carshare organization in New York City) discovered a number of factors that made it an ideal partnership. The demographics of the organizations' members are similar to those of most audiobook users--educated, affluent, NPR listeners. The eco-friendly aspect of the carshare services was another draw. Audiobooks are "becoming more of a digital product, so it really goes hand in hand with the idea of no carbon footprint," said Kuritsky. "In the past few years we have definitely noticed that our retail download business is increasing." In 2009, digital sales accounted for 30% of Random House Audio's total gross sales, up from 20% in 2008. That number has jumped to 40% for the first quarter of 2010.

Random House Audio authors are helping to kick off the carshare campaign in several markets. The campaign was featured at an appearance by Kelly Corrigan earlier this month at the Tattered Cover in Denver and will be promoted at upcoming events with Elizabeth Berg in Chicago on April 28, Chris Bohjalian in Burlington on April 20, and Cory Doctorow in San Francisco in mid-May.--Shannon McKenna Schmidt


G.P. Putnam's Sons: Love & Other Scams by Philip Ellis

Media and Movies

Media Heat: The Secret Life of the Grown-up Brain

Today on the Diane Rehm Show: Sy Montgomery, author of Birdology: Adventures with a Pack of Hens, a Peck of Pigeons, Cantankerous Crows, Fierce Falcons, Hip Hop Parrots, Baby Hummingbirds, and One Murderously Big Living Dinosaur (Free Press, $25, 9781416569848/1416569847).


Today on Fresh Air: Barbara Strauch, author of The Secret Life of the Grown-up Brain: The Surprising Talents of the Middle-Aged Mind (Viking, $26.95, 9780670020713/0670020710).

Today on Talk of the Nation: Dana Sachs, author of The Life We Were Given: Operation Babylift, International Adoption, and the Children of War in Vietnam (Beacon Press, $25.95, 9780807042410/0807042412).


Tomorrow morning on Good Morning America: Annie Leonard, author of The Story of Stuff: How Our Obsession with Stuff Is Trashing the Planet, Our Communities, and Our Health--and a Vision for Change (Free Press, $26, 9781439125663/143912566X).


Tomorrow morning on Imus in the Morning: Mary Higgins Clark, author of The Shadow of Your Smile (Simon & Schuster, $25.99, 9781439172261/1439172269).

Also on Imus, Carol Higgins Clark, author of Wrecked (Scribner, $25, 9781439170250/1439170258).


Tomorrow morning on the Today Show: Bethenny Frankel, author of Naturally Thin: Unleash Your SkinnyGirl and Free Yourself from a Lifetime of Dieting (Fireside, $16, 9781416597988/1416597980).


Tomorrow on the Wendy Williams Show: Marlee Matlin, author of I'll Scream Later (Gallery, $15, 9781439171516/1439171513).


Tomorrow on KCRW's Bookworm: John Ashbery, author of Planisphere (Ecco, $24.99, 9780061915215/0061915211). As the show put it: "John Ashbery has made a dumbfounding statement: he is afraid that sometimes 'the language gets in the way of the music of a poem.' This is dumbfounding because what is there in poetry other than language? With this daunting statement in mind, we launch into the territory of the imponderable--the territory Ashbery knows best."

Television: Jamie Oliver on the 'Global Menu'

FremantleMedia Enterprises announced that British chef and bestselling cookbook author Jamie Oliver "is back on the global menu" now that Fox Latin America has purchased seven of the cook's TV titles, including Jamie at Home, Jamie's Kitchen and Jamie's Great Italian Escape," Variety reported, adding that in Denmark, FME "inked a three-year output deal with pubcaster Danish Broadcasting Corporation (DR) for almost 20 titles from the celebrity chef's catalog. The package features his new U.S. show Jamie's Revolution, plus Jamie's School Dinners and Jamie's American Road Trip."


Movie: Taking Flight

Fox has acquired feature film rights to "Taking Flight: The Hunt for a Young Outlaw," which is "based on a book proposal by Bob Friel, who profiled [Colton] Harris-Moore in the January edition of adventure magazine Outside," Variety reported, noting that teenager Harris-Moore has "stolen cars, boats and planes and taught himself how to fly in order to evade local police, Homeland Security and the FBI. He's still at large and has a massive Facebook following." 


Books & Authors

Awards: SIBA Finalists; Orange New Writers Shortlist

The Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance has determined the finalists for the 10th annual Southern Indie Book Awards. Winners will be announced in July and will be celebrated at SIBA's trade show in Daytona, Fla., September 24–26. Check out the shortlist here.


Finalists for the 2010 Orange Award for New Writers--honoring works of fiction written in English by a woman of any age or nationality and published as a book in the U.K.--are The Book of Fires by Jane Borodale, The Boy Next Door by Irene Sabatini and After the Fire, a Still Small Voice by Evie Wyld. The winner will be named June 9 at a ceremony in London.


Book Brahmin: Ed Lin

Ed Lin is the author of Waylaid (2002) and This Is a Bust (2007), both published by Kaya Press. The sequel to the latter, Snakes Can't Run, was published on March 30 by Minotaur. Lin, who is of Taiwanese and Chinese descent, holds degrees in mining engineering and journalism from Columbia University. He lives in New York with his wife, actress Cindy Cheung.

On your nightstand now:

Personal Days
by Ed Park and Selected Tales of the Han, Wei and Six Dynasties Periods, an anthology in English that I picked up in Beijing.
Favorite book when you were a child:

Grinny by Nicholas Fisk (a pen name). This book, a British sci-fi horror thing, scared the crap out of me when I was in third grade. After forgetting about it for years, one morning a few months ago, I suddenly woke up and exclaimed, "Grinny Granny!" I bought a copy and it still sent chills up my spine.

Your top five authors:

Charles Willeford, Chester Himes, Norbert Davis, Lois-Ann Yamanaka and Dashiell Hammett.

Book you've faked reading:

The Great Gatsby. I had tried my usual high-school strategy of reading the Cliffs Notes the night before. But whoever wrote this particular "study guide" was guided by evil to write it in a disjointed sort of way so that you could only follow if you had read the book. I flopped the pop quiz. Still soured by the experience, I haven't yet read the book.
Book you're an evangelist for:

Secret Origins of the Bible by Tim Callahan. It is fascinating how Callahan details the histories hidden in plain sight. Did you know that the story of Samson is likely the retelling of an ancient ritual of Shamash, the Mesopotamian sun deity?
Book you've bought for the cover:

The Ramayana, translation by Arshia Sattar. The Penguin Books India cover depicts gods and monkeys seated at a campfire while negotiating. Too cool.
Book that changed your life:

Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser. I haven't eaten a fast-food burger since. "There is shit in the meat."
Favorite line from a book:

"There is shit in the meat."
Book you most want to read again for the first time:

You can never go back and I would hate to lose everything I've had in the 20 years since, but The Palm-Wine Drinkard by Amos Tutuola really amazed me.

Some non-mainstream books that you've really liked:

Man Walking on Eggshells by Herbert Simmons, Roughhouse by Thaddeus Rutkowski and Atomik Aztex by Sesshu Foster.

Book Review

Children's Review: Picture the Dead

Picture the Dead by Adele Griffin (Sourcebooks Fire, $17.99 Hardcover, 9781402237126, May 2010)

Adele Griffin here combines the supernatural elements she explored in The Other Shepards and the war themes of Sons of Liberty to chilling and riveting effect. Sixteen-year-old narrator Jennie Lovell, in the space of five years, has lost both of her parents and her twin brother, Toby, who joined the army to become a Union scout. But he died on his sickbed before he ever got a chance to spy on the Rebs. After their parents' death, Jennie and Toby had gone to live with their mother's half-brother, Henry Pritchett, and his wife, Clara, in the elite Boston suburb of Brookline, Mass. Henry lets his wife run the show, and she's none too kind to Jennie, and not so happy about Jennie's engagement to their older son, Will. When their younger son, Quinn, returns, injured, from the war--and Will does not--Jennie's fate hangs in the balance.

Griffin smoothly weaves together the growing popularity of the Spiritualist movement (whose followers believed that people lived on after death and could be contacted through mediums) with breakthroughs in photography as Henry Pritchett pursues his desire to contact his dead son. Heinrich Geist, both a photographer and a medium, tells the family he can reunite them with Will through his "spirit photographs." Jennie has always been attuned to her brother, Toby, and receives messages from him ("He has brought me closer to the other side, and I know that I'm changed"), and she is certain that she feels Will's presence in Geist's studio--an experience she shares with no one. Other than the visits to Geist's studio, Jennie becomes increasingly confined to the Pritchett house. As she tends to Quinn's eye injury, changing his bandages and checking on him frequently, the two slowly become closer. At the same time, she begins having strange dreams about Will that lead her to find a locket that she had given him buried in the backyard; Quinn had led her to believe it had been lost at war. The author convincingly portrays a heroine with such an overwhelming sense of loss and need to connect that she overlooks the signs along the way that Quinn is hiding something from her. Lisa Brown's drawings, which evoke the period and also act as faux facsimiles of Jennie's scrapbook, elevate the suspense and contribute to this gripping novel's Daphne Du Maurier-like aura. --Jennifer M. Brown


Pulitzer Winner's True Attributes

In our item yesterday about the Pulitzer Prize winners, the judge's citation for poetry winner Versed by Rae Armantrout (Wesleyan University Press), didn't, well, scan correctly. It should have read: Versed is "a book striking for its wit and linguistic inventiveness, offering poems that are often little thought-bombs detonating in the mind long after the first reading."


The Bestsellers

Top-Selling Titles in Chicagoland Last Week

The following were the bestselling titles at independent bookstores in and around Chicago during the week ended Sunday, April 11:

Hardcover Fiction

1. The Last time I Saw You by Elizabeth Berg
2. Imperfect Birds by Anne Lamott
3. Solar by Ian McEwan
4. The Three Weissmans of Westport by Cathleen Schine
5. Matterhorn by Karl Marlantes

Hardcover Nonfiction

1. The Big Short by Michael Lewis
2. The Bridge by David Remnick
3. This Is Not the Story You Think It Is by Laura Munson
4. Women Food and God by Geneen Roth
5. Chelsea Chelsea Bang Bang by Chelsea Handler

Paperback Fiction

1. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
2. The Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson
3. A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick
4. Little Bee by Chris Cleave
5. The Wives of Henry Oades by Johanna Moran

Paperback Nonfiction

1. The Girls from Ames by Jeff Zaslow
2. The Lost City of Z by David Grann
3. Food Rules by Michael Pollan
4. You're a Horrible Person, but I Like You: The Believer Book of Advice by the Believer
5. The Value of Nothing by Rajeev Patel


1. Will Grayson Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan
2. Wimpy Kid Movie by Jeff Kinney
3. Wimpy Kid Diary by Jeff Kinney
4. Is It Night or Day by Fern Schumer Chapman
5. Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown

Reporting bookstores: Anderson's, Naperville and Downers Grove; Read Between the Lynes, Woodstock; the Book Table, Oak Park; the Book Cellar, Lincoln Square; Lake Forest Books, Lake Forest; the Bookstall at Chestnut Court, Winnetka; and 57th St. Books; Seminary Co-op; Women and Children First, Chicago.

[Many thanks to the booksellers and Carl Lennertz!]

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