Shelf Awareness for Friday, July 23, 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

Quotation of the Day

Industry's Biggest Issue: 'Simple Lack of Readers'

"If the print revenue that publishers reap through backlist sales--or can expect via digital editions from recent or future publications--is drastically reduced or lost in whole, it could bring forth a seismic shift in the way the industry does business, and will drastically affect the bottom line of every publisher. My hope is that digital progress will encourage younger, more tech-savvy and perhaps reluctant readers to give books a shot. I still believe the biggest issue facing the industry is the simple lack of readers: too many adults read too little, not enough children grow a love of books from an early age. But these are larger picture concerns, ones without tangible solutions. The battle over digital rights will only grow over the next few years as authors, agents and publishers realize just how much is at stake."

--Jason Pinter in the Huffington Post

 

 


Berkley Books: Good Rich People by Eliza Jane Brazier


News

Notes: Publishers on Wylie's E-Book Deal; Nook for Android

In a blog post, Macmillan CEO John Sargent took a dim view of Andrew Wylie's Odyssey Editions, which will sell e-book editions of older titles by some of his agency's clientele through Amazon (Shelf Awareness, July 22, 2010).

Sargent expressed dissatisfaction with Wylie's decision "to give his list exclusively to a single retailer. A basic tenet of publishing is that our function is to reach as many readers as we can. We disseminate our books and the ideas within them as broadly as possible. I understand why Amazon wants an exclusive deal with Andrew. They have asked us too for exclusive product, as has every major retailer we deal with. This is smart retailing, and a great deal for Amazon. But it is an extraordinarily bad deal for writers, illustrators, publishers, other booksellers, and for anyone who believes that books should be as widely available as possible. This deal advantages Amazon, which already has the dominant share in this market.

"Independent booksellers across the country are making plans to launch their e-bookstores this Fall. Now they will not have these books available and Amazon will. These are the very folks who helped make many of these books bestsellers in the first place. And what of Barnes & Noble, Borders, Books-A-Million, and others? As they promote the frontlist books for which Andrew is the agent, they are not going to be able to sell his publishing backlist in digital form... while their competitor can?"

Sargent concluded "the exclusive-to-Kindle aspect of this deal has no strategic value at all for authors and publishers."

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Random House had a strong reaction, summed up by spokesman Stuart Applebaum in this statement: "The Wylie Agency's decision to sell e-books exclusively to Amazon for titles which are subject to active Random House agreements undermines our longstanding commitments to and investments in our authors, and it establishes this Agency as our direct competitor. Therefore, regrettably, Random House on a worldwide basis will not be entering into any new English-language business agreements with the Wylie Agency until this situation is resolved."
   
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Barnes & Noble has introduced a Nook app for Android smartphones and devices. B&N called Nook for Android the "first eReader software to feature Barnes & Noble's new Nook-centric branding, leveraging the strength of the company's Nook brand across its entire eReading offering. Nook for Android will soon be followed by an updated Nook for iPhone, Nook for iPad and others in the coming months."

"With Nook for Android, and the other renamed software to follow, customers can also easily recognize and have confidence in Barnes & Noble's Nook brand to provide them with a fun and easy-to-use eReading experience on any device of their choosing," said Douglas Gottlieb, v-p, digital products for B&N.

CNET observed that "what's interesting about the announcement is that Barnes & Noble has decided to move away from its BN branding and go with Nook as the name of choice for its digital reading platform.... By further embracing the Nook brand, Barnes & Noble appears to be pursuing a similar strategy to Amazon, which has labeled its e-reader apps with the Kindle brand while it continues to promote its standalone e-reader devices, the Kindle and Kindle DX."

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After hearing final arguments in Ron Burkle's lawsuit against Barnes & Noble, a Delaware judge said yesterday "the bookseller may have acted reasonably in adopting the poison pill last year after Burkle more than doubled his stake in the New York company," the Associated Press reported, adding that the judge said "he would try to issue a ruling quickly but gave no indication of how soon."

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Bluestockings in New York City "is a neighborhood hangout by design," Bookselling This Week reported in its profile of the bookshop with "a loyal following, drawing from its neighborhood on New York’s Lower East Side and beyond. With its nightly readings, fair trade café, comfortable couches, and 8,000 titles on women's and gender studies, sexualities, political theory, and activism, along with a fiction section that consists largely of titles written by women/LGBTQ/genderqueer authors, it has established itself as an indispensable New York cultural venue."

"We have space for people to sit and read and interact with each other," said co-owner Kimmie David. "We purposely don't have Wi-Fi so people can talk face-to-face instead of being heads-down at a computer."

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BTW also showcased Murder By the Book, Houston, Tex., which McKenna Jordan bought last year. In August, the bookstore will celebrate its 30th anniversary and Jordan, who said business is up 10% this year, is planning a series of events and a customer appreciation day.

"In the last year, we've dedicated more energy to developing young readers, tripling the stock in our children's section, hiring a full-time employee to oversee the section, and offering imports of children's books," she said. "We also now have two full-time employees who read primarily paranormal fiction, causing that section to explode."

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Honolulu creative collective Interisland Terminal is opening a pop-up bookstore for two weeks--beginning next Wednesday--to draw attention to the fact that "bookshops that don't start with a 'B' are no longer in existence. Aside from some smaller shops scattered here and there-–like Bookends, Native Books/Na Mea Hawaii and Revolution Books-–local booksellers fell victim to the big franchises," Honolulu Weekend reported.

Reed Space HNL, which will be located at the Waikiki Parc Hotel, is a concept that "came up because of concerns about our community as a civic group, mourning the loss of bookstores here," said Wei Fang, head of art and design curation for Interisland Terminal. "Independent bookstores in particular; the culture of being able to go in, and browse and look at a really thoughtfully curated selection; and the idea of discovery.... It's an important part of our creative process: being inspired by unexpected things that other people show you. It's what a really great bookstore can do and we haven't really seen any in Honolulu. They've all disappeared.”

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A list of recently discovered manuscripts, letters and journals written by Franz Kafka--including a handwritten short story--that have been the subject of a legal battle (Shelf Awareness, July 21, 2010), may soon be released. The New York Times reported that a District Family Court judge in Tel Aviv "ordered attorneys to prepare a detailed list of the contents of four boxes that had been stored in a Zurich bank."

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Starting next Monday, author Jane Smiley will join Life Goes Strong as a guest blogger, writing about her experiences and work; exploring family ties, romantic relationships, child-rearing and more for Family Goes Strong. The site will also be hosting a book giveaway of Smiley's latest novel, Private Life, as well as The Georges & The Jewels. Life Goes Strong is a new online boomer destination from NBC Digital Networks and Procter & Gamble Productions.

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Who says there's no money in books? A pair of elderly men, who'd been stealing books from large bookstores for more than two years, were caught by the police Wednesday. The Korea Times reported that the "men traveled abroad with money reaped from reselling the stolen books. Kim has accrued a long criminal record for stealing books over the course of some 30 years. He even bought a house with the money from the sale of the stolen books."

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GalleyCat featured the "Best Publisher Pages on Facebook" while conceding that the list is "a directory that barely scratches the surface of the publishing scene on Facebook."

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"The summer holidays are here again, and this year, as every year, the great, the good and the journalists have told us what they plan to pack in their suitcases," noted the Guardian, while wondering, "What are the rest of us taking on holiday this year?"


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


Amazon Second Quarter: Huge Gains but Below Expectations

 

Amazon.com's second-quarter results, announced yesterday, were sterling by most standards. In the quarter ended June 30, net sales rose 41%, to $6.57 billion, and net income rose 45%, to $207 million. But because earnings were lower than analysts' expectations--earnings amounted to 45 cents a share, compared to the 54 cents a share that had been expected--the company's stock fell 15.9%, to $100.99, in after-hours trading. Concerns about the costs of marketing, new hiring, new fulfillment centers and lower prices for the Kindle were at the heart of the problem.

"Amazon's report was quite good, expectations of margins were just too high," Jordan Rohan, an analyst at Stifel Nicolaus, told the Wall Street Journal. "Amazon is still gaining a tremendous amount of share, using a page out of Wal-Mart's playbook."

Operating income rose 40% as the company added 2,200 employees during the quarter and builds 13 new fulfillment centers this year. The company cut prices on the Kindle and has spent a substantial amount on advertising the Kindle, including on TV.

The company predicted that third-quarter net sales will be between $6.9 billion and $7.625 billion, which would represent gains in a range of 27%-40%. Operating income should be between $210 million and $310 million, or a range of down 16% to up 24%.

Among trends emphasized by Amazon:

In the last year, Amazon has had sales of more than $1 billion through mobile devices. "The leading mobile commerce device today is the smartphone, but we're excited by the potential of the new category of wireless tablet computers," CEO Jeff Bezos said. "Over time, tablet computers could become a meaningful additional driver for our business."

In the quarter, sales in North America, consisting of the U.S. and Canadian sites, were $3.59 billion, up 46%. Sales in the rest of the world rose less rapidly: sales of the U.K., German, Japanese, French and Chinese sites were $2.98 billion, up 35%.

Amazon sales rose most in the category of "electronics & other general merchandise," which grew 69% to $3.49 billion. By contrast, global media sales--books, movies, music and more--grew 18% to $2.87 billion. The Journal noted that the relatively low rate of growth for media was "due to slower sales in videogames and textbooks. Some analysts have worried the company isn't ramping up digital-media efforts fast enough to replace its older packaged media business."

The Journal's Heard on the Street column focused on the cost to Amazon of competition to the Kindle, noting that marketing costs during the quarter rose 5% to $211 million, attributed to "broad-scale advertising" for the Kindle that the company needs to do, "given Apple's marketing onslaught for the iPad.

"Why is Amazon is bothering?," the Journal continued. "CEO Jeff Bezos recently acknowledged only a small group of 'serious readers' likely would want a dedicated reader. He distinguished between the device and demand for e-books from the Kindle store, readable on a variety of devices.

"So far this strategy seems to be working. Amazon said this week that it now sells more Kindle books than hardcover books. The danger: If Apple runs away with the e-reader market, will it also displace Amazon in e-books?"



Berkley Books: Sadie on a Plate by Amanda Elliot


Friday Reads: Sharing on Twitter

One of the best things about Twitter is the sharing: your lunch, your opinions, your feelings for your co-workers... and your reading habits.

#FridayReads is a Twitter meme started a little over a year ago by critic and blogger Bethanne Patrick (aka @thebookmaven), host of The Book Studio on WETA-PBS. As things do on Twitter, #Fridayreads began slowly, increased to a couple hundred responses, and has steadily grown to its current level: nearly 800 responses last week. Patrick encourages participation by giving away books to lucky readers. Regular Fridayreaders include well-known authors--Susan Orlean, Martha McPhee, Jennifer Gilmore, Joe Hill, Elizabeth McCracken, Jason Pinter and more--booksellers, publishing Twitterati and plain old book lovers. A few weeks ago, @einaudieditore, an Italian Tweep, started spreading the word in Italy, and now #Fridayreads gets 20-30 tweets from that country each week. Help turn #Fridayreads into a global meme, perhaps even a Trending Topic--tell the Twitterverse what you're reading today.

 


Image of the Day: Home Is Where the Heartbeat Is


For her latest YA title, In a Heartbeat (Walker Books for Young Readers), Loretta Ellsworth returned to her hometown, Mason City, Iowa, and did a signing at the Book World location that recently opened. Here Ellsworth (l.) appears with Book World manager Alana Jara.



Media and Movies

Media Heat: Beverly Cleary on Morning Edition

Today on Morning Edition: Beverly Cleary. Today the movie Ramona and Beezus, based on her children's book series, opens.

 


Off-Broadway: Freckleface Strawberry

Freckleface Strawberry, the children's book series written by actress Julianne Moore (and illustrated by LeUyen Pham), "will play Off-Broadway's New World Stages starting in late summer," according to Playbill.com, which reported that previews are set to begin September 9, with plans calling for an October 3 opening. Adult actors will portray kids in the show.

The creative team for the musical includes composer-lyricist Gary Kupper, librettists Kupper and Rose Caiola, director Buddy Crutchfield and choreographer Gail Pennington Crutchfield. The show was conceived for the stage by Rose Caiola.

"Writing a children's book was always a dream," Moore said. "Seeing the story come to life on stage in a musical is more than I ever imagined."


Upcoming Film Makes Baseball Novel a Hit

Comparing a recent jump in sales to "a ballplayer who is suddenly hitting for power," USA Today reported that Ben Sherwood's novel Charlie St. Cloud has now climbed the bestseller charts from 31st place to 13th in anticipation of next week's release of a film adaptation starring Zac Efron.

The Death and Life of Charlie St. Cloud, the book's original title when it was published in 2004, "tells the story of two brothers and the bond forged by citizenship in Red Sox nation," though Sherwood's loyalties lie elsewhere: "I'm a Dodger fan. My wife is a Dodger fan. Our 5-year-old son is a die-hard fan of the Boys in Blue. Our 14-day-old son will be a Dodger fan, no doubt."

 


Movies: Jerry Garcia Before the Grateful Dead; Judy Moody

Amir Bar-Lev (The Tillman Story) will direct a Jerry Garcia "biopic produced by Eric Eisner and Bona Fide partners Albert Berger and Ron Yerxa (Little Miss Sunshine)," Variety reported. Topper Lilien has written a screenplay adapted from Robert Greenfield's Dark Star: An Oral Biography of Jerry Garcia, "about the Grateful Dead frontman's early life before joining the band that made him a household name."

"Topper Lilien's daring script does justice to Garcia and steadfastly resists cliche," Bar-Lev said.

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Australian actress Jordana Beatty has been cast in the title role for Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer, adapted from the children's book series by Megan McDonald. Variety wrote that John Schultz (Aliens in the Attic) will direct. The screenplay was written by McDonald and Kathy Waugh.

 



Books & Authors

Awards: Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year

R.J. Ellory's  A Simple Act of Violence won this year's Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award, besting a shortlist that included Ian Rankin, Peter James and Mark Billingham, the Bookseller.com reported. Ellory received £3,000 (US$4,623) as well as a handmade, engraved Theakstons Old Peculier beer barrel.

"I don’t think anyone not in my shoes can understand the definition of speechless," he said. "I am utterly speechless. This has really taken me aback. I feel acknowledged for doing something different. Thank you, I’m grateful beyond words."

 


Book Brahmin: Lisa Gardner

Lisa Gardner is a New York Times bestselling author of 12 novels, including The Neighbor, which which won the International Thriller Writers' Award for 2010 Best Hard Cover. Live to Tell, her latest D.D. Warren thriller, was published on July 13, 2010, by Bantam. She lives with her family in New England, where she is at work on her next D.D. Warren novel, which Bantam will publish in 2011. 

On your nightstand now:

You mean books, right, because who has only one book on their nightstand? I have The Book of Spies by Gayle Lynds. ARCs of two of my favorite authors: Broken by Karin Slaughter and Ice Cold by Tess Gerritsen (best part of being an author is receiving pre-pub ARCs!) Augusten Burroughs's A Wolf at the Table (loved Running with Scissors), and my comedic relief for those nights I really need a laugh in order not to cry, Just Let Me Lie Down by Kristin van Ogtrop, which I highly recommend for all working moms.
 
Favorite book when you were a child:

Anything by Erle Stanley Gardner. We also watched Perry Mason every day at noon on Channel 12. Even my grandmother, who refers to the TV as the "boob tube," loves Perry Mason.

Your top five authors:

Oooh, only five? I'm a genre slut, which makes that tough. In suspense I love Lee Child, Tess Gerritsen, Karin Slaughter and Joe Finder. The vampire books are my latest guilty pleasure, where I enjoy J.R. Ward, Kresley Cole and Charlaine Harris. Love Susan Wiggs, Kristin Hannah and Nora Roberts for women's fiction, while enjoying J.K. Rowling, Robert Jordan and Christopher Paolini in fantasy. Frankly, I also still read the Cheerios box most mornings. What does that say about me?

Book you've faked reading:

I think as I established above, I never fake it when it comes to reading.
 
Book you're an evangelist for:

Gates of Fire by Steven Pressfield. It explores the nature of courage while being an absolutely adrenaline-soaked, testosterone-pumped epic tale of the battle of Thermopylae. A must read!
 
Book you've bought for the cover:

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin, which I purchased for my daughter. The cover features a gorgeous red dragon against a sapphire blue sky.
 
Book that changed your life:

Don't remember the title, which is just as well. Basically, it was a not very well written book, which I threw down in disgust declaring, "Even I could write that!" The next day, I decided to give it try, and three years later sold my first novel.
 
Favorite line from a book:

Love the opening line of Lee Child's The Hard Way: "Jack Reacher ordered espresso, double, no peel, no cube, foam cup, no china, and before it arrived at his table, he saw a man's life change forever." It's a great opener for a thriller, while summarizing his series character, Jack Reacher, quite nicely. Reacher is the kind of man who takes his coffee seriously, and could find trouble before starting the morning cup.
 
Book you most want to read again for the first time:

The Passage
by Justin Cronin. I had the privilege of reading the ARC this spring and it totally blew me away. Part thriller, part post-apocalyptic fantasy, it's an 800-page epic already being compared to Stephen King's The Stand. The little girl in it still haunts me.

 


Book Review

Book Review: Broken

Broken by Karin Fossum (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH), $25.00 Hardcover, 9780151013661, August 2010)


 
Norwegian crime writer Karin Fossum, best known for her well-loved Inspector Sejer series, makes a striking departure with this metafictional novel about a crime writer and her relationship with the characters she creates. It's a clever concept, albeit one with the potential to become too clever or even self-indulgent. Fortunately, Fossum has--in spades--the skill and subtlety needed to pull this off. It is less clear whether or not her readers (or those looking for thrillers in the Larsson/Mankell vein) will respond to this quietly unsettling story.
 
The narrator of Broken, who may or may not be Fossum herself, is preparing to start a new novel--this one--which requires picking a protagonist from the long line of possibilities who stand in her driveway waiting for their turn. But one particularly anxious character can't wait any longer. He cuts the line and enters the author's house, demanding that she tell his story before she drops dead and leaves him unwritten. The author, who names him Alvar Eide, decides to take him on and begins to write his story.
 
Alvar's story is fairly simple: he is 42, works at an art gallery and lives alone in a small, neat apartment. His life is ordered and predictable, if solitary. Although he "prefers men," Alvar has never had a relationship--of any kind. Naturally, this kind of stasis can't last. The author introduces all kinds of upsets into Alvar's life to test him and, of course, to create tension in the narrative. The first arrives in the form of a painting of a broken bridge that Alvar falls in love with and wants to buy, though it will cost him every krone in his savings. More unsettling, a teenage heroin addict, Lindys, shows up at the gallery one day and Alvar, trying to be "a good person," gives her coffee. She returns again for more and soon after that she shows up unannounced at his apartment, asking for money, which Alvar gives her. And then, she comes back once more and Alvar's ordered life begins to fall apart.
 
Intercut with these events are scenes between the author and Alvar, who checks in with her regularly to question his development and vent his increasing anxiety. The author explains what she can of her process and encourages him to move forward. These interruptions take nothing away from Alvar's story, which is precise, detailed and perceptive. Fossum's short but powerful novel is a treat for all writers but will appeal to any reader willing to look just a bit beneath the surface.--Debra Ginsberg
 
Shelf Talker: A smart, unusual suspense story about an author and her character by Norwegian crime writer Karin Fossum.



Deeper Understanding

Robert Gray: Bookseller Forecast--Cloudy, but That Can Be Good

Forecasts for the book trade have always been cloudy, with at least a 50% chance of contradiction. For booksellers, however, weather is more than just a convenient metaphor; it is a tangible factor in their day-to-day business, well, climate.

What is good weather for bookselling? That depends upon what sort of shop you keep. For a New York City street vendor or a bookstore near the beach, sunny days beat the hell out of rainy ones.

Ideal bookselling weather undoubtedly varies from place to place. What, for example, is a prime weather day for a bookstore in Miami? In Austin? In Los Angeles? In Seattle? In Baltimore?

For Vermont, the best bookstore weather is often bad, depending upon the season. You watch forecasts carefully. If your bookstore is located in a tourist area, your calculations as a biblio-meteorologist must take into account a number of variables.

In winter, you hope for early week snowstorms to whet the appetite of out-of-state skiers. Ideally, those storms will abate by Friday, leaving good powder on the mountains and clear highways for easy driving.

During the summer, rainy weekends rule for visitors and locals alike. There are endless reasons to visit a bookstore on a drizzly Saturday, while a perfect summer day will send even the most dedicated readers outdoors.

Autumn is easy because foliage season and colder temperatures attract visitors who move fluidly from outside to inside. And when the leaves fall, you still have wind chill and the approaching holiday season to lure readers into your shop.

As for spring, all bets are off. Mark Twain said it best: "There is a sumptuous variety about the New England weather that compels the stranger's admiration--and regret.... But it gets through more business in spring than in any other season. In the spring I have counted one hundred and thirty-six different kinds of weather inside of four and twenty hours."

Civilians--aka non-booksellers--may not realize how important the weather is to bookstores. They might assume that since it's an indoor job, what's happening outside--short of a flood or tornado--can't possibly matter that much. It does matter, big time, in subtle ways that affect the bottom line, which doesn't care if the sun was shining last Saturday when sales were down 22% from last year.

Perhaps I should explain that I was inspired to consider this subject by the unusual number of entertaining weather references I noticed in bookstore e-mail newsletters recently. Here's just a sampling:

"It seems like it has been an unusually hot summer already, and at the GCB Blogs, we've been working on ways to stay cool in the rising July temperatures. One of our bloggers explores the merits of the patio bar on a hot summer day--in Austin, Texas--where she beats the heat with an impressive beer selection. If it's too sticky to sit outside (even with a nice cold one), curl up in front of the air conditioner with a good book."--Globe Corner Bookstore, Cambridge, Mass.

"As we approach the dog days of summer, here's something you can get enthused about: another Auntie's to love! You asked for it, and we're about to deliver a smaller version of our marvelous main store at River Park Square."--Auntie's Bookstore, Spokane, Wash.

"Before I begin, a quick update about how my life in receiving has been since you last heard from me. My friends from around the country often ask me how cold it is in Wisconsin. In particular when there is a heat wave wherever they live. It's as if they are trying to cool off vicariously through me. I have to try and patiently explain that Wisconsin does not snow throughout the year, and we are, in fact, rather hot here too. And then we inevitably get into an argument about how our 86 degrees with 70% humidity isn't as bad as their 90 degrees and 0% humidity. Sheesh. Long story short, it's really flipping hot in receiving, and it's only amplified when I have to keep moving boxes of The Passage around."--Boswell Book Company, Milwaukee, Wis.

And from the blog at the Galaxy Bookshop, Hardwick, Vt.: "After a couple of long, hot weeks, my brain feels something like butterscotch pudding, so even though I've read a number of wonderful books I'd like to review, I don't see that happening today."

What's the forecast for booksellers? Cloudy, to be sure, but sometimes a little bad weather can be good for business.--Robert Gray (column archives available at Fresh Eyes Now)



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