Shelf Awareness for Tuesday, June 8, 2010


Basic Books: What We Owe the Future by William Macaskill

Blackstone Publishing: River Woman, River Demon by Jennifer Givhan

Sourcebooks Explore: Black Boy, Black Boy by Ali Kamanda and Jorge Redmond, illustrated by Ken Daley

Berkley Books: Pride and Protest by Nikki Payne; A Dash of Salt and Pepper by Kosoko Jackson; Astrid Parker Doesn't Fail by Ashley Herring Blake

Soho Crime: Cruz by Nicolás Ferraro, translated by Mallory N. Craig-Kuhn

Ace Books: Station Eternity (The Midsolar Murders) by Mur Lafferty

News

Image of the Day: Old Friends Visit Matterhorn

On Sunday at the Clinton Book Shop, Clinton, N.J., Karl Marlantes signed copies of Matterhorn, his bestselling novel about the Vietnam War. During a q&a, he was asked if real people inspired his characters. Marlantes answered by noting that the character Roscoe was based on an old childhood friend, who was at the event. The "real" Roscoe then pointed out that such literary immortality has its limits: his character was killed off on page 396. The store sold more than 60 copies of the book.

 


Disney-Hyperion: Drizzle, Dreams, and Lovestruck Things by Maya Prasad


Notes: iPhone 4's iDebut; Megan Fox's Lit Tat

The new iPhone 4, officially introduced yesterday, includes some 100 new features, including a camera on the front of the phone that can be used for video chats and web conferences, a gyroscope and a more powerful operating system. But most important for the book world, the fourth-generation Apple phone will include iBooks, which until now had been available only on the iPad.

According to TechFlash, iBooks, Apple's e-book reader and e-bookstore app, will soon be available on iPod Touch as well and include new features that synchronize notes and bookmarks between devices so that a person can start a book on an iPad, continue reading it on an iPhone and switch back. It also will be able to read PDFs.

Apple CEO Steve Jobs also told the Worldwide Developer Conference that more than five million books have been downloaded from iBooks in a little over two months since the iPad was introduced--about 2.5 books for each iPad sold--and "big publishers have told him Apple accounts for some 22% of the e-book market." Apparently this means that 22% of e-book sales of the six major houses that have agency agreements with Apple are via the iPad.

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Bookstore video of the day: The Invisible Bridge by Julie Orringer (Knopf), Green Apple Books' book of the month.

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Richard Davies of AbeBooks.com, who called yesterday's Vancouver Sun soccer books list "hopeless," offers his own top 25 football books as well as a selection of World Cup memorabilia for sale on the site.

He wrote in part: "I am drawn to sports books that offer a wider insight into people rather than just how happy or sad the major stars were feeling after scoring the winner/losing the big game. Barca: A People's Passion by Jimmy Burns blew me away with its description of Barcelona's cultural importance to the Catalans. Left Foot Forward by Garry Nelson is a terrific insight into life as an ordinary, not-all-famous professional footballer. Provided You Don't Kiss Me by Duncan Hamilton not only spills the bills on the madness of Brian Clough but also depicts the ups and downs of regional sports journalism. Imagine playing football under the rule of the Nazis in World War II? Read Dynamo by Andy Dougan. My Father and Other Working Class Heroes by Gary Imlach should be read by all football fans under the age of 20.

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In his weekly Daily Telegraph column yesterday (via the Bookseller), London mayor Boris Johnson urged Harry Potter fans to lobby Warner Bros and Universal, "and perhaps, even, to the great J.K. herself," for a Harry Potter theme park in London, apparently like the Harry Potter theme park opens this month in Orlando, Fla.

Johnson admits, "I deeply and bitterly resent that Orlando is about to become the official place of pilgrimage for every Harry Potter fan on earth."

His case: "Harry Potter is not American. He is British. Where is Diagon Alley, where they buy wands and stuff? It is in London, and if you want to get into the Ministry of Magic you disappear down a London telephone box. The train for Hogwarts goes from King's Cross, not Grand Central Station, and what is Harry Potter all about? It is about the ritual and intrigue and dorm-feast excitement of a British boarding school of a kind that you just don't find in America. Hogwarts is a place where children occasionally get cross with each other--not 'mad'--and where the situation is usually saved by a good old British sense of HUMOUR. WITH A U. RIGHT? NOT HUMOR. GOTTIT?...

"This Potter business has legs. It will run and run, and we must be utterly mad, as a country, to leave it to the Americans to make money from a great British invention."

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Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh, author of Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose--which was released by Business Plus yesterday--shared thoughts on his reading life with USA Today.
   
Hsieh, who prefers "reading books that combine research on human behavior with business results," noted that three of his favorites are Tribal Leadership: Leveraging Natural Groups to Build a Thriving Organization by Dave Logan, John King and Halee Fischer-Wright; Peak: How Great Companies Get Their Mojo from Maslow by Chip Conley; and Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom by Jonathan Haidt.

"I find it somewhat ironic that the Internet has caused me to read more physical books than I otherwise would," Hsieh observed.

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Obituary note: David Markson, "a revered postmodern author who rummaged relentlessly and humorously through art, history and reality itself," died last Friday, the Associated Press reported. He was 82.

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Actress Megan Fox's poetic tattoo ("Those who danced were thought to be quite insane by those who could not hear the music") seems to be a subject of curiosity for the Guardian, which asked readers if they knew the poet who wrote that line.

Some reader suggestions: "Welsh poet Dannie Abse, winner of last year's Wilfred Owen Poetry Award, e-mailed to suggest 'the 18th-century Jewish mystic Rabbi Nachman' was responsible. While 'Bob' cited a translation of Henri Bergson's Laughter. Literature student Simi Freund thinks it can be 'attributed to George Carlin, an American comedian who died in 2008.' "

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Ingram Publisher Services has added three new publishers:

Windsor Peak Press is the publisher of bestselling parenting and wedding titles by Denise and Alan Fields, including Bridal Bargains, Expecting 411, Baby Bargains, Baby 411 and Toddler 411.

Founded in 1995, ALARM Press is the publisher of ALARM magazine, a quarterly book-style publication that spotlights innovative underground musicians and artists and is popular among music fans and music industry people.

Schilt Publishing publishes high-quality documentary photography books and won POYi's 2010 Best Photography Book of the Year for The Rape of a Nation, a photographic documentary of the Congo war.

 


GLOW: Drawn & Quarterly: Ducks: Two Years in the Oil Sands by Kate Beaton


IPG Adds Art Stock Books

Chicago Review Press, the parent company of Independent Publishers Group, has acquired Art Stock Books, Stuttgart, Germany. The purchase is effective June 16, and all Art Stock Press marketing and operations will be integrated into IPG's headquarters in Chicago, Ill.

Founded in 2001, Art Stock Books distributes in the U.S. and Canada fine art, architecture and photography titles published by some 30 European houses, including Hirmer Verlag, L'Aventurine, Seeman Henschel, Wienand Verlag, Rakennustieto, Alinari 24 Ore, Reimer Verlag and Janssen Publishers.

Art Stock Books will remain a distinct brand with its own website, and its titles will be sold in its own catalogue separate from those of IPG and its other distribution arms, Trafalgar Square Publishing and Small Press United. Art Stock Books founder Cajo Liesenberg will stay on for several months as a consultant during the transition. Fulfillment and representation here has been handled by NBN and Continental Sales.

IPG president Mark Suchomel called Art Stock Books "a first-rate, niche art distributor" whose publishers "will immediately benefit from IPG's operational economies and our strong sales efforts in and outside the book trade."

He added that IPG's strength in specialty markets means that it can present Art Stock Books titles "to a wider range of accounts, such as garden shops and outdoor retailers while maintaining a thriving and important presence in the art world. We also anticipate some good growth as we add a few select publishers, which could now easily come from North America and Australia, as well as Europe."

IPG's Trafalgar Square Publishing arm, bought in 2006 by senior management of Chicago Review Press, operates on a similar model, distributing titles by such U.K. publishers as Aurum Press, Canongate UK, HarperCollins UK, Hodder & Stoughton, Headline, Orion Publishing, Random House UK and Simon & Schuster UK in the U.S.


Blackstone Publishing: Beasts of the Earth by James Wade


NAIBA Trunk Show: Time to Pack

The New Atlantic Independent Booksellers Association is holding its annual Trunk Show next Tuesday, June 15, 9 a.m.-4 p.m., at the Holiday Inn Carrier Circle in East Syracuse, N.Y. Booksellers from some 25 stores will hear frontlist presentations and visit with publisher reps to go over catalogues and place orders. Altogether about 75 booksellers and publishers are expected to attend.

This year's trunk show includes a moveable feast. At lunch three authors--Kevin O'Hara, author of A Lucky Irish Lad (Forge); Michael Perry, author of Coop: A Family, a Farm, and the Pursuit of One Good Egg (P.S.) (Harper); and Linda Pembroke Kaiser, author of Pulling Strings: The Legacy of Melville A. Clark (Syracuse University Press)--will make presentations and visit with booksellers, as well as be at their respective publishers' display tables during the day.

NAIBA executive director Eileen Dengler wrote: "If you haven't experienced a Trunk Show, it is the most convenient way to see 25 publishers in one day; to hear about upcoming releases and publicity plans; and to sit and chat with other hardworking booksellers and share ideas and get advice. Convenient, cheap and collegial sums it up."

RSVP to info@naiba.com or call 516-333-0681.

 


BEA: 2010 Survey of Book-Buying Behavior

Following up on a survey of readers that was the most-discussed presentation of the Winter Institute in San Jose, Calif. (Shelf Awareness, February 4, 2010), Jack McKeown, director of new business development for Verso Digital--and now a bookstore owner (Shelf Awareness, May 12, 2010)--presented findings at BEA based on the initial surveys as well as another conducted this spring. Some of  the data was "as fresh as three weeks ago," he said, and altogether the surveys polled 9,300 respondents.

The data reiterated much of what he emphasized earlier this year or showed some shifts, all of which continue to present opportunities to independent booksellers, McKeown stressed. One of major areas of importance has to do with independents capitalizing more on their "mindshare," that is, the preference of many book buyers for independent bookstores but their tendency to buy a significant number of books at chains and online retailers.


Fully 27.3% of avid book buyers--those who buy 10 or more books a year, who number an estimated 62.4 million Americans--say local independents are their first preference as places to buy books. Of all book buyers, 25.4% say indies are their first choice for buying books and 17.1% call indies second choice, meaning that 42.5% of all book buyers mention indies as top choices for book purchases.

Commenting on this gap between that "mind share" and indies' market share of 10%, McKeown said, "What's missing? Why aren't indies able to convert this preference into sales? If there is a more pressing question for the future of independent retailing, I don't know what it is."

Average buyers who prefer indies are split about evenly by gender. While 46% of them are 46 and older (somewhat expected), 37% are 18–34, which McKeown called "pretty astonishing. This is a very, very promising development." (Avid readers are overwhelmingly female.)

In the past year 36.2% of all book buyers visited an indie between three and nine times. McKeown said that a "real opportunity" exists for increasing the frequency of visits of this group beyond "just" trips to find gifts or around holiday times.

Pointing to data about age groups and store visits, he noted that "boomers and seniors aren't coming to indies enough," not as often as 18–24-year-olds (40% of this age group visit an indie five or more times a year, more often than every other age group).

In another critical phenomenon, more than 26% of independent bookstore customers browse at their favorite indies and then buy books they've discovered there online or at chain stores. Some 10% of indie customers do this "frequently," and that tendency is more pronounced among book buyers aged 18–34. More than a third of this age group have browsed at indies but purchased elsewhere within the past year. Such "sales leakage" could be costing indies more than $260 million in sales and 1.8% of market share, McKeown estimated.

The survey found three particular factors that would prompt readers to shop in indies more than they do now: discounted bestsellers, better selection and improved proximity. Indies should thus consider, he continued, doing some discounting as well as using e-mail and online marketing, which alleviate questions about the stores' distance and sometimes comparatively limited selection. In fact, 45.3% of respondents indicated that they are willing to provide e-mail addresses to receive information and material from stores; shoppers aged 18–34 were more disposed to do so than older respondents. McKeown pointed out that "12 million customers want to give you their e-mail addresses. If indies fail to realize this asset, someone else will."

Based on preferred hardcover discounts, McKeown estimated that a 15% bestseller discount would increase sales 4%. Women are more concerned about price than men, whereas men tend to want better selection.

E-Books

Since November, e-reader ownership by general readers has risen to 6.8% from 3%, and e-reader owners are buying more e-books per capita, which reflects more "mainstream" ownership of the devices rather than early adopters who tend not to read as many books on average, McKeown said.

E-reader owners continue to buy printed books as well as e-books. Fully 27.7% of surveyed e-reader owners predict they would buy 10 or more printed books in the next year, while 17.2% likely will buy five to nine printed books. McKeown commented: "This is not a mutually exclusive universe. Quite possibly we are seeing an increase of readership moving seamlessly between print and e-books."

The number of readers who are "not at all likely" to buy an e-reader grew since late last year to a majority, 52.2%, which suggests "limits to e-book penetration," McKeown said. "The e-book market may not be 60% of the book market in three years."

Printed books and e-books bundled together continue to be attractive to a significant group of readers. At least 42% of book buyers are at least somewhat likely to consider buying bundled books.--John Mutter

 


Media and Movies

Media Heat: Linda Greenlaw Sails Again

Today on Fresh Air: Linda Greenlaw, author of Seaworthy: A Swordboat Captain Returns to the Sea (Viking, $25.95, 9780670021925/067002192X).

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Today on Talk of the Nation: Anthony Bourdain, author of Medium Raw: A Bloody Valentine to the World of Food and the People Who Cook (Ecco, $26.99, 9780061718946/0061718947).

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Tomorrow morning on the Today Show: Heather McDonald, author of You'll Never Blue Ball in This Town Again: One Woman's Painfully Funny Quest to Give It Up (Touchstone, $15, 9781439176283/1439176280). She will also appear tomorrow on Access Hollywood.

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Tomorrow morning on Good Morning America: Dominique Browning, author of Slow Love: How I Lost My Job, Put on My Pajamas & Found Happiness (Atlas, $23, 9781934633311/1934633313).

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Tomorrow night on the Daily Show: Spencer Wells, author of Pandora's Seed: The Unforeseen Cost of Civilization (Random House, $26, 9781400062157/1400062152).

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Tomorrow night on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon: Craig Robinson, author of A Game of Character: A Family Journey from Chicago's Southside to the Ivy League and Beyond (Gotham, $26, 9781592405480/1592405487).


Movies: Tough Times for Literary Adaptations?

With adult dramas struggling at the box office, Variety asked if there is "any hope for that venerable subcategory, the literary-book-to-screen adaptation? Such books--with their focus on characterization and ideas rather than plot--have proven awards fodder for decades, in both book and film form.... But what was once a steady stream of bigscreen book adaptations has become a trickle. As one exec wryly notes, 'Clint Eastwood is single-handedly holding up the adult drama at the studio level.' "

Citing numbers gleaned from the Publishers Marketplace database, Variety reported that there were "205 Hollywood book deals between June 1, 2008 and June 1, 2009. That number declined to 190 over the same span in 2009-2010. The biggest drop was in literary fiction, from 30 in 2008-09 to just 17 in 2009-10." Exceptions to this decline were noted for action-thriller-suspense field, vampire and zombie books, comic books, chick lit and children's fantasy. YA books registered the strongest growth patterns.

The style and scope of these projects are also changing. "Studios are clearly not interested in anything that's considered small, and anything under a $50 million or $40 million budget is considered small," said Bill Contardi, a literary and dramatic rights agent with Brandt & Hochman. "Serious fiction is often considered 'not big enough,' and there are fewer buyers for this material now. Many producers have lost their deals and they don't have the ability to option material on their own. They really need a studio backing them, and the studios want all the elements laid out in advance. So producers now have to do a lot of preliminary development on a book-to-film project that they wouldn't have done before, before they can even get a studio to pay attention."

Added Jennifer Rudolph Walsh, head of worldwide literary for William Morris Endeavor: "The biggest change we've seen is the need to internally package our books before going out to buyers. We feel like we're an in-house production company, from the beginning of a book proposal or blog, to the point where we match up material with our writers, directors and other talent."

"The pressure now seems to be not just that the book is a bestseller, it has to be a mega-bestseller," observed Richard Curtis, president of Richard Curtis Associates. "The publishing and movie businesses are converging, and they both have the same thing in common: They're running scared."

Variety wrote that producer Paula Mazur attended BookExpo America "to meet with agents, publishers and authors along with her business partner, South Florida bookstore owner Mitchell Kaplan [Books and Books, Miami). The duo have The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, from authors Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows, in development at Fox 2000."

"We try to get a look at literary material as soon as the studios get it, and maybe earlier," said Mazur.

Could TV, ironically, become the salvation for books? "Cable seems to be a possibility, but really only for certain kinds of material, and it's usually nonfiction," said Contardi. "You hear what producers are looking for--they want books that lend themselves to TV series, which is casting the net wider than it used to be for just movies alone. But TV movies are much harder to set up than they used to be. In TV, there are very few places to go with young adult material, and in features, the buzzword is that the material has to be 'Harry Potter'-esque."

As Variety suggested, however, "don't bet against the prospect of a drama comeback at the cineplex."

"Nobody can predict what's going to happen," a New York literary agent concluded. "If you had asked a random assortment of Hollywood executives five years ago if the biggest film franchise at the beginning of this decade was going to be a franchise whose primary audience is teenage girls, they would have said you're being absolutely ridiculous."

 


Books & Authors

Awards: Sunday Times (South Africa) Literary Awards

Finalists for the 2010 Sunday Times (South Africa) Literary Awards include:

Nonfiction
Ways of Staying by Kevin Bloom
A Fork in the Road by Andre Brink
Begging to be Black by Antjie Krog
The Honour to Serve by James Ngculu
The Strange Alchemy of Life and Law by Albie Sachs

Fiction
Summertime by J.M. Coetzee
High Low In-between by Imraan Coovadia
Saracen at the Gate by Zinaid Meeran
The Book of the Dead by Kgebetli Moele
Small Moving Parts by Sally-Ann Murray

 


Attainment: New Titles Next Week

Selected new titles appearing next Tuesday, June 15:

Between a Heart and a Rock Place: A Memoir by Pat Benatar (Morrow, $25.99, 9780061953774/0061953776) tells the life story of a rock icon.

Spies of the Balkans: A Novel by Alan Furst (Random House, $26, 9781400066032/1400066034) is a World War II espionage thriller set in Greece.

Frankenstein: Lost Souls by Dean Koontz (Bantam, $27, 9780553808018/055380801X) is the latest thriller with mad scientist Victor Frankenstein.

Imperial Bedrooms by Bret Easton Ellis (Knopf, $24.95, 9780307266101/0307266109) is the sequel to Less Than Zero.

Uncharted Territory by Tori Spelling (Gallery, $25, 9781439187715/1439187711) chronicles the ongoing escapades of a former 90210 star.

Lowcountry Summer: A Plantation Novel by Dorothea Benton Frank (Morrow, $25.99, 9780061961175/0061961175) follows the antics of a dysfunctional Southern family.

That Perfect Someone by Johanna Lindsey (Gallery, $25.99, 9781439101070/1439101078) follows a pirate who returns to England from the Caribbean.

Stories: All-New Tales by Neil Gaiman and Al Sarrantonio (Morrow, $27.99, 9780061230929/0061230928) is a collection of short fantasy stories.

The Overton Window by Glenn Beck (Threshold Editions, $26, 9781439184301/1439184305) is a political thriller about a conspiracy to overthrow the U.S.

Whiplash by Catherine Coulter (Putnam, $26.95, 9780399156533/0399156534) is the author's 14th paranormal FBI thriller.

Hailey's War: A Novel by Jodi Compton (Shaye Areheart Books, $22.99, 9780307588050/030758805X) puts a San Francisco bike messenger in charge of escorting a woman to Mexico.

Blind Descent: The Quest to Discover the Deepest Place on Earth by James M. Tabor (Random House, $26, 9781400067671/1400067677) aims to find the deepest cave system in the world.


Now in paperback:

Zeitoun by Dave Eggers (Vintage, $15.95, 9780307387943/0307387941).

Gym, Tanning, Laundry: The Official Jersey Shore Quote Book
by MTV (MTV, $11.99, 9781439196823/1439196826).

 



Book Review

Book Review: The Secret Lives of Baba Segi's Wives

The Secret Lives of Baba Segi's Wives by Lola Shoneyin (William Morrow & Company, $23.99 Hardcover, 9780061946370, July 2010)



An educated wife means trouble.

The three wives of Baba Segi are managing their seven children just fine when he takes it into his head to marry again. To make matters worse, his fourth wife is a graduate from the university, an uppity young woman who knows too much for her own good. To make matters even worse yet, in two years she has not produced a child.

Baba Segi is a plump, flatulent, 42-year-old Nigerian polygamist, whose bladder control is not particularly good. Calm, intelligent, patient Bolanle has entered a household where she is not wanted, where the other wives will try anything to drive her out. And to everyone's amazement, Bolanle peacefully continues loving the other wives and their children, treating everyone in the household kindly, convinced that her love will win them over.

Author Lola Shoneyin was born in Idaban, Nigeria, where this story takes place, and she plunges you into a culture where a woman's worth is measured by her children. She creates situations straight out of classic farce, but plays them for their real-world values, so her comedy always has teeth and realistic, tragic consequences spring from light-hearted contrivances in the plot.

As the story circles around the four fascinating, feuding women, the reader constantly discovers new sides of them. Secrets emerge, surprises erupt and alliances shift from wife to wife, with Baba Segi often none the wiser. Baba Segi has only one real concern other than money: offspring. He needs children to make him happy. To find out what's wrong with Bolanle, he hauls her to the hospital to have her barrenness cured. In doing so, he opens a Pandora's box of deception and lies, including a dangerous secret that threatens the security of all his other wives.

Shoneyin handles the multiple points of view skillfully, each voice recognizably its own, and knows exactly where she's weaving her plot threads, so that the alternating voices have an actual narrative purpose. This frequently hilarious novel develops moral depth, and everything wraps realistically and satisfyingly, with some sadness, some loss and some hard lessons learned.--Nick DiMartino

Shelf Talker: A frequently hilarious novel, with moral depth, about a Nigerian polygamist, his three wives and seven children and the arrival of his fourth, and university-educated, wife.


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