Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Legacy Lit: Madness: Race and Insanity in a Jim Crow Asylum by Antonia Hylton

Berkley Books: Daughters of Shandong by Eve J. Chung

Berkley Books: Bergman Brothers series by Chloe Liese

Wednesday Books: Hope Ablaze by Sarah Mughal Rana

Little, Brown Ink: K Is in Trouble (a Graphic Novel) (K Is in Trouble #1) by Gary Clement

Fly Paper Products: Literary Gifts

William Morrow & Company: The Stone Home by Crystal Hana Kim


BEA: CEOs Speak Up

Comments from yesterday's Opening Plenary: CEOs on the Value of a Book

"A day of education is precisely what we need at this moment."--Jonathan Galassi, president and publisher of Farrar, Straus & Giroux.

"I'm not sure as many people will show up to hear me read as they would to watch Beyonce."--Scott Turow, author and incoming president of the Authors Guild, on how musicians' reliance on concerts to make up for a drop in music sales might not work for writers.

"More than 90% of our business still is in paper."--David Shanks, CEO, Penguin Group.

"One of the big six publishers told me that in five years 60% of all business will be e-books."--Esther Newberg, executive v-p, International Creative Management.

"No author will want to have books only online. Every author wants to give his mother a copy of his book."--Jonathan Galassi.

"Ironically the value of the book will be seen more when publishers enhance them."--Esther Newberg.

"Who has time for enhanced e-books? With links you could be there forever."--Jonathan Galassi.

"I can imagine that at the time of Gutenberg, people were saying, 'This thing will be a real time suck.' "--Bob Miller, group publisher, Workman.

"Digital can give you time and save you time."--Skip Prichard, president and CEO, Ingram Content Group.

"We need to be less focused on format and be more focused on content and meeting the needs of our customers. We should be format neutral."--Oren Teicher, CEO of the ABA.

"The future will move between devices."--Skip Prichard.

"The transcendent issue for all of us is piracy. Piracy killed off the record store business."--Scott Turow.

"Piracy didn't start with digital books. A printed book can be scanned in five minutes and disseminated."--Skip Prichard.

"There has to be a recognition on the part of the reading public that what they're buying is valuable."--Jonathan Galassi.

"We need to be sure books don't become a commodity."--Oren Teicher.

"I say it's never enough."--Esther Newberg, asked about fair author compensation in the digital age.

"How are you justifying not giving us 50% of e-book revenues?"--Esther Newberg.

"Why did publishers let the e-book be available at the same time as the hardcover?"--Scott Turow.

"Let's make more cookies, make more abundance. Let's help authors sell millions of copies of their books."--Bob Miller.

"There will be a niche market, but the vast majority of readers don't care."--Skip Prichard, discussing the importance of beautifully made printed books.

"We should figure out how to hear what our customers want."--Oren Teicher.

Atria Books: The Other Valley by Scott Alexander Howard

BEA Bytes & Bits

Following up on a survey of readers that was a highlight of the February Winter Institute, Jack McKeown, who in the meantime has become a bookseller, presented updated information and outlined some positive trends and major opportunities for independent booksellers. For one, the survey indicated that indies can attract the many readers who prefer indies but often shop elsewhere through some discounting as well as via e-mail marketing, which can make up for concerns about stores' distance and sometimes limited selection.

Among other findings: since November, e-reader ownership among readers has risen to 6.8% from 3%, and e-reader owners are buying more books, which reflects more "mainstream" ownership of the devices, McKeown said. E-reader owners continue to buy printed books as well as e-books, suggesting, "This is not a mutually exclusive universe." And the number of readers who are "not at all likely" to buy an e-reader grew to a majority, 52.2%.

More information about the survey results next week.


"We are always going to have print books. You can write that down, and I'll sign my name to it."--Michael Norris of Simba, speaking at the session "I'll Never Pay Over $9.99 for E-Books!" and Similar Lies.


Chuck Robinson, co-owner of Village Books, Bellingham, Wash., is at BEA this year in part in a new capacity: author. His chronicle of the store and his life in the book business, It Takes a Village Books: 30 Years of Building Community, One Book at a Time, is coming out in early June and is published by Chuckanut Editions on the store's Espresso Book Machine. Based on some reading of random sections, it looks like a good read. Who wouldn't like a book whose first sentence is "Hey! Let's open a bookstore."

As a panelist at the session on "The New Reality: Alternative Business Models for Independent Bookstores," Robinson spoke of his original decision to acquire an Espresso Book Machine: "We wanted to send our customers the message that this was a store that was going to move forward with the times."


Arantxa Mellado Bataller from Ediciona, moderator; Patricia Arancibia,; Larry Bennett, Baker & Taylor; and Jesus Badenes, Planeta, discussed "New Technologies in Spain and Europe" as part of the Global Market Forum on Tuesday morning.


At the panel on "Mobile Apps: A Publisher Roadmap": (l.-r.) Josh Koppel, co-founder of ScrollMotion; Dominique Raccah, Sourcebooks; Michael Cairns, moderator and co-founder of International Media Partners; Linda Gagnon, senior v-p, Baker & Taylor; and Peter Costanza, Perseus. Cairns provides the background for this discussion here.


The 2010 E.B. White Award Winners were announced last night at the ABC Not-a-Dinner and Mostly Silent Auction last night, held at the Edison Ballroom in Manhattan.

Picture Books category: Peter Brown for The Curious Garden (Little, Brown)
Older Readers category: Kate Messner for The Brilliant Fall of Gianna Z. (Walker)


Late addition to tomorrow's party lineup: Rizzoli Bookstore at 31 W. 57th Street invites BEA attendees to a '70s- and baseball-themed party for Dan Epstein, who will be signing copies of Big Hair and Plastic Grass: Baseball and America in the Swinging '70s (Thomas Dunne Books). Cracker Jacks will be served! Opening pitch at 5:30 on Thursday. Party lasts until 7.


Cupcake alert: as part of its launch of the reality-romance line True Vows, which matches romance novelists with real life stories, HCI is offering cupcakes at booth 3577 at 2 p.m. today. Also at the booth, romance novelists Julie Leto and Judith Arnold will sign ARCs of Hard to Hold and Meet Me in Manhattan. ARCs of Icing on the Cake will go with the cupcakes.


More on Perseus's 10x10 event that asks BEA attendees to pick the 10 most anticipated fall titles in general as well as the 10 hottest titles in 10 categories: attendees may vote on the website Results will be announced tomorrow at 4 p.m.

GLOW: Graphic Universe: Hotelitor: Luxury-Class Defense and Hospitality Unit by Josh Hicks

BEA: Editors' Buzz

For this year's BEA Editors' Buzz panel, moderator John Freeman, American editor of Granta, had only one rule for the participants shilling for their books in 10 minutes or less: no bland adjectives. Freeman kept the editors on track, perhaps most comically by not letting Twelve's Cary Goldstein skip over a three-page sex scene between a chimpanzee and a woman in Benjamin Hale's novel The Evolution of Bruno Littlemore.

While editors hope these will be the books indies will be handselling, booksellers hope to learn something about these titles that they can't get from a catalog description.

Algonquin's Chuck Adams said he was grabbed on page one by the voice in Jonathan Evison's novel West of Here, and was equally taken with how the author understood we are part of an entertainment business. "I see a lot of good writers, but I don't see a lot of good stories," said Adams, who has been acquirin books since 1969. "I think this is the best that I've ever, ever worked on."

West of Here is a parallel story about the founders of a town in 1890 Washington State and the 2006 residents who are "living all the mistakes their ancestors made." In the end, all the pieces from the parallel stories come together, as in a Robert Altman film, said Adams. The Algonquin editor already bought Evison's next novel, Fundamentals of Caregiving, and said he hopes to work with the author for the next 40 years.

FSG's Mitzi Angel spoke about how Ben Goldacre--whose Bad Science: Quacks, Hacks and Big Pharma Flacks is already a bestseller in the U.K.--is on a mission to expose bad science and help readers make sense of the complicated realities of science so that "we all might be able to understand it."

Angel said Goldacre is "brilliant" for taking everyone to task, from doctors (he himself is a physician), to homeopathic practitioners and journalists who perpetuate what can be dangerous consequences of bad science. After Goldacre was sued by a vitamin company that claimed it had a cure for AIDS, the publisher pulled that chapter in the U.K. edition, but restored it in the U.S. edition when the author won the case.

At Little, Brown, Judy Clain said, people are always hesitant to compare anything to The Lovely Bones, but Emma Donohue's Room managed to get under the collective skin of everyone inhouse in much the same way.

As five-year-old Jack tells of his simple life with "Ma" in a room they share, it gradually becomes clear that the mother was abducted when she was 19, and Jack is the product of that awful relationship. "Even though you want them to get out of this room you also love the place," explained Clain. As a blurb from Audrey Neffeneger (who knows neither the editor or author) says, "When it's over you look up and the world looks the same but you are somehow different."

As for that chimpanzee and woman in The Evolution of Bruno Littlemore, Cary Goldstein said, "It's not bestiality, it's love." The background: after writing two shelved first novels while working at a bakery early mornings and writing in a "state of pshychotic exhaustion" when time allowed, author Benjamin Hale was able to combine his lifelong passion inspired by Jane Goodall and an obsession with chimpanzees in Chicago's Lincoln Park Zoo to create this "fictionalized memoir narrated by the world's first talking chimpanzee."

In Siddartha Mukherjee's The Emperor of Maladies: A Biography of Cancer, Scribner's Nan Graham said the author started out writing a history but realized he was "not writing about something, but someone" and here presents a compelling biography of cancer that ranges from the Greco-Persian wars to contemporary people managing to live with cancer.

Graham called Mukherjee an "extraordinary man," who at 40, "knows his mice and also a great deal about history." Every reader, Graham said, comes up with new comparisons for the book, from The Noonday Demon to The Hot Zone. As Mukherjee goes through the evolution of the disease, Graham said, "you actually feel that you are making the leap" to understanding cancer throughout time.

When Ballantine's Susanna Porter took her turn to talk about the historic, romantic novel Juliet, she recalled how bookseller reaction to a buzz pick at a previous BEA helped make the historic, romantic novel Loving Frank a bestseller.

Written by Anne Fortier, Juliet is about a contemporary woman who discovers she is descended from the real-life inspiration for Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. Background: while growing up, the author and her mother escaped the "grey conformist Denmark" by vacationing in Verona--where Romeo and Juliet is set. As Verona became spoiled by tourists, mother and daughter ventured to Sienna, where, as it turns out, the real-life dueling families of the star-crossed lovers lived. Unfortunately, by the time Fortier was ready to write her novel, she had a job working in Washington, D.C., with only two-week American vacations. So she relied on her mother for some of the hands-on research in Sienna.

Juliet has already sold in 29 territories and is number six in the bestseller list in Germany. Guess it's up to the bookseller to see how Juliet--and all of this year's buzz books—fare as they are released into the American market.--Bridget Kinsella

G.P. Putnam's Sons: Come and Get It by Kiley Reid

Notes: Bezos on Kindle's Future; Bookstore Cats Framed

Amazon plans to focus upon two fronts--devices and being an e-book retailer--in its approach to digital reading, CEO Jeff Bezos said at the company's annual shareholders meeting yesterday. The Wall Street Journal reported Bezos also observed that "a reflective color screen for the Kindle e-reader was a ways off."

"There are always ways to do the job better if you are willing to focus in on one arena," Bezos said, adding that in the device business, Amazon "would focus on building a Kindle that appealed to serious readers, as opposed to devices like the iPad that try to serve several different purposes," the Journal wrote. He also said that "90% of households are not serious reading households."

As succinctly put it: "Jeff Bezos does not have iPad envy. Or if he does, he isn't sharing that with his company's investors."


At the Literary Bookpost, Salisbury, N.C., bookselling cats Goethe, Dickens and Oscar have been immortalized on canvas by artist and author Emily Eve Weinstein, who was visiting the town because of an exhibition at Waterworks Visual Arts Center.

"They give the store a lot of character," said owner Deal Safrit.

During a reception and signing at the bookstore, Weinstein painted "a picture of the Literary Bookpost's aisle with three black cats on the prowl. As she painted, she talked to guests about technique and shared stories of her art," the Salisbury Post reported.


Ed Mueller, owner of NJ Books, spoke with about changes he's witnessed since he began his career as a part-time bookseller after serving in the U.S. Army. "I took a part-time job for September," he said. "The guy liked the way I worked and kept me on. In a year and a half, I had decided I wanted to be in the business. During that era, which we call the Vietnam era, there was a lot of reading. People read a lot and were very actively reading and actively involved in politics. So it was a very stimulating atmosphere intellectually."


"From Allen Lane to Amazon." The Guardian featured a slideshow chronicling the story of 20th-century British publishing, "a century of triumph for the printed word."


Apple's iPad launches in Japan this week, and the Wall Street Journal reported that there "has been a lot of hand-wringing about what the iPad's arrival will mean for Japan's electronics sector. The device goes on sale Friday in Japan, along with eight other countries. And the articles range from fanboy love letters to Steve Jobs (one columnist said Mr. Jobs has a 'genuine sense of cool') to pondering what type of impact this could have on the insular Japanese publishing industry."


If you plan to do some light reading on your iPad while catching a New York Yankee game, you're out! Yahoo Sports followed up on a report that a fan had been turned away from attending a game at the stadium because "all iPads fall under the 'no laptops' rule in its existing security policy."


To test British readers' literary resolve as they enter a new "age of austerity," the Guardian offered a quiz to "test your knowledge of hard times in literature."


In India, the office of New Jyothi Publications was attacked by about a dozen people who objected to a children's book that included a picture of Muhammad. They "damaged furniture and computers and ransacked files and books, alleging the picture in the book insulted Islam and the Prophet," the Times of India reported. The picture appeared in a chapter on world religions that also included pictures of Buddha, Mahaveer, Jesus Christ and Shankaracharya. The publisher expressed regret that the picture had been used in the book and withdrew it.


Effective August 1, Getty Publications will be sold and distributed in the U.S. by the University of Chicago Press. Getty titles have been distributed by Oxford University Press.

Getty Publications distribution in Canada continues through Jaguar Book Group with representation by Canadian Manda. European distribution is through Orca Book Services with sales representation by the Roundhouse Group.

Getty publishes in art, photography, archeology, architecture, conservation and the humanities for general and specialized audiences.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: The Days of Our Lives

This morning on the Today Show: Ken Corday, author of The Days of Our Lives: The True Story of One Family's Dream and the Untold History of Days of our Lives (Sourcebooks, $24.99, 9781402242229/1402242220).


Tomorrow on the Wendy Williams Show: Danielle Staub, author of The Naked Truth: The Real Story Behind the Real Housewife of New Jersey--In Her Own Words (Gallery, $25, 9781439182895/1439182892). She also appears tomorrow on ABC News Now.


Tomorrow on KCRW's Bookworm: Ian McEwan, author of Solar (Nan A. Talese, $26.95, 9780385533416/0385533411). As the show put it: "Along the way in our conversation about bad morals and good intentions, Ian McEwan dabbles in the background subjects of his new novel--solar energy and the possibility of saving the planet."

Movies: Novelist's Rejection Slip to Hollywood

Victoria Hislop, author of The Island, rejected a £300,000 (US$428,939) offer by a U.S. film studio for the rights to her novel about a British woman tracing her ancestry to the island Spinalonga, off the coast of Crete.

Concerned about how the book "might be handled by Hollywood producers, and eager to give something back to the country in which it is set, Hislop instead opted for the Greek company Mega, which will turn her novel into a 26-part series, employing 300 local actors," the Independent reported.

"I was simply not happy with the approaches from America. I was worried what might happen to my story and my characters," said Hislop. "I feel much happier with some of my input [counting] and knowing that the Greeks, who took the book to their hearts, will care about making the series and keep loyally to the plot."


Books & Authors

Awards: Ondaatje Prize

Ian Thomson's The Dead Yard won the £10,000 (US$14,326) Ondaatje prize, which honors a book that best evokes the spirit of a place. The Guardian wrote that The Dead Yard "sees the author walking the streets of Jamaica, describing its poverty, gang rule and police brutality, meeting its people and exploring how the country has changed since its independence in 1962. 'You visitors are always getting it wrong,' he is told by one Jamaican. 'Either it's golden beaches or guns, guns, guns, guns. Is there nothing in between?' "

Thomson's book bested a shortlist that included The Plot by Madeleine Bunting, The Shadow of a Smile by Kachi A. Ozumba and In Other Rooms, Other Wonders by Daniyal Mueenuddin.


Book Brahmin: Katie Arnoldi

Katie Arnoldi is the author of the novels Chemical Pink, The Wentworths and, most recently, Point Dume (The Overlook Press, May 2010), which is about the death of surf culture, human trafficking, the Mexican drug cartel, illegal pot farms on public lands, environmental devastation and obsessive love. A fifth-generation Californian, she lives in Southern California with her husband, the painter Charles Arnoldi, and their two children.

On your nightstand now:

Across the Wire: Life and Hard Times on the Mexican Border
by Luis Alberto Urrea as research for my next novel. Urrea writes about the poverty and the families living in the Tijuana dump. Also I'm rereading Seven Types of Ambiguity by Elliot Perlman because it's so good.
Favorite book when you were a child:

I was extremely dyslexic as a child and had a very hard time learning to read. It was torture. Luckily, my mother read to me and I remember being very taken by The Wind in the Willows. Something about Mr. Toad really rang true. She also read a lot of Beatrix Potter, but Peter Rabbit, Hunca Munca and Jemima Puddle-Duck didn't appeal to me at all.

Your top five authors:

Harry Crews is one of my heroes. His people and the worlds he creates are just fantastic and some of his imagery stays with you for life--like it or not.

When I was a young writer, I tried to copy Joan Didion. Her observations and economy of language just blew me away. Play It as It Lays was a very important novel for me.

Mary Gaitskill, particularly Bad Behavior. I love how she wrote about sex without apology or embarrassment, and she has a great, dark sense of humor.
Margaret Atwood, who just keeps getting better.

And David Foster Wallace, who inspired me so much.

Book you've faked reading:

Ulysses. Both my kids read Ulysses in high school in their Great Books class. They loved it, but they are much smarter than I am.
Book you're an evangelist for:

CivilWarLand in Bad Decline by George Saunders. This collection of stories is absolutely brilliant.
Book you've bought for the cover:

Cruddy by Lynda Barry. It has a gritty cover that matches perfectly the language and darkness of this great novel.
Book that changed your life:

Geek Love made a big impression. Katherine Dunn has such a vivid and dark imagination, and she writes so well. That book opened a door and sort of gave me permission to write Chemical Pink.
Favorite line from a book:

"Hell is other people" --Sartre (just kidding)

"Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new." --Albert Einstein
Book you most want to read again for the first time:

The English Major by Jim Harrison. I think this is his best novel. I loved it and I've given it a gift to many people. I'm so inspired by writers who get better as they get older.


Book Review

Children's Review: Ling & Ting: Not Exactly the Same!

Ling & Ting: Not Exactly the Same! by Grace Lin (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, $14.99 Hardcover, 9780316024525, July 2010)

Just when we thought Grace Lin (Where the Mountain Meets the Moon) had stretched the limits of children's bookmaking to her fullest extent, she triumphantly tackles yet another challenging category: the beginning reader. Here she introduces identical twins Ling and Ting: "They have the same brown eyes. They have the same pink cheeks. They have the same happy smiles. People see them and they say, 'You two are exactly the same!'" But they are not "exactly the same," as Ling is quick to say, and Ting thinks to herself. The brief tales in this intelligently designed volume prove it. The clever first entry allows readers to tell the two apart easily. Ling sits calmly in the barber's chair, and the man cuts her bangs "in a smooth line." Restless Ting, however, causes the barber to clip a bit more creatively ("Ling and Ting are... not exactly the same. Now when people see them, they know it too"). Each succeeding tale reveals a little more about each of the girls' personalities. For instance, we learn that Ting is a tad forgetful (she can't remember the playing card she chose from the deck during Ling's magic trick). Some of the stories build on previous events: in a chapter about a trip to the library, Ting remembers her playing card from Ling's magic trick but forgets to check out a dog book for Ling. Other episodes offer insight into the girls' Chinese culture (as readers learn about dumplings and chopsticks). Each story spans six to eight pages, features an illustration on every page, and often ends with a wordless finale (like the twins approaching the library steps together). With a manageable vocabulary and chapter length, generous helpings of humor and two winning (and unique!) heroines, these half-dozen stories are sure to be a hit. Young readers will clamor for more adventures about these charming sisters.--Jennifer M. Brown

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