Shelf Awareness for Thursday, July 29, 2010


Del Rey Books: The Art of Prophecy by Wesley Chu

Jy: Enemies (Berrybrook Middle School #5) by Svetlana Chmakova

Entangled Publishing: Stealing Infinity by Alyson Noël

St. Martin's Press: The Matchmaker's Gift by Lynda Cohen Loigman

Legendary Comics YA: Enola Holmes: Mycroft's Dangerous Game by Nancy Springer, illustrated by Giorgia Sposito

Sourcebooks: Helltown: The Untold Story of a Serial Killer on Cape Cod by Casey Sherman

Soho Crime: Lady Joker, Volume 2 by Kaoru Takamura, translated by Allison Markin Powell and Marie Iida

Bantam: All Good People Here by Ashley Flowers

Quotation of the Day

'In Defense of Amazon'

"A reader like me, who remembers the era of great independent bookstores (I pause for a moment to mourn Gotham Book Mart in New York and Louie's Bookstore Café in Baltimore) and had the joy of having books hand-selected for me at the bookstore I used to frequent across from the TNR offices (Olsson's, also gone)--really, I might as well try to defend Pol Pot. Watching the difficulties that the book business has suffered over the last decade--steadily declining sales, decreasing advances, the generally faltering reputation of literary fiction as a cultural force worth reckoning with--it is impossible not to feel the hand of Amazon at work: if not as a direct cause, then certainly as a factor....

"But Amazon is a quintessential capitalist enterprise, and it cannot be faulted for exploiting the free-market system that, for better or worse, we have embraced. It offers people things they want to buy at prices they want to pay, and in so doing, it puts out of business other enterprises that are not able to match its terms. Other than continuing to make sure that Amazon's practices fall within the bounds of what regulation we have--particularly antitrust laws--there's not much to be done.... I'm not ashamed to admit that I buy books from Amazon when it's convenient, as well as from Barnes and Noble, independent bookstores, people on the street, or whoever else happens to have what I'm looking for. And to Jeff Bezos and everyone else who brings books to the world I say: thank you."

--Ruth Franklin, a senior editor at the New Republic, in an article headlined:
"The READ: In Defense of Amazon"

 


Entangled Publishing: Stealing Infinity by Alyson Noël


News

Notes: E-Reader Price War Escalates; ABA on Wylie Deal

Increasing the pressure on e-reader prices, Amazon plans to introduce a less expensive Kindle next month. The Wall Street Journal reported that CEO Jeff Bezos is "laying out a strategy to go 'mass market' with an inexpensive gadget designed to do just one thing: sell digital books from Amazon."

The new version will feature "a screen with increased gray-scale contrast, a battery that lasts for a month, and a slightly smaller size. It will come in two flavors: one with Wi-Fi and 3G Internet connections selling for $189, the other with Wi-Fi only for $139," the Journal wrote, adding that the new models will begin shipping August 27.
 
"We developed this device for serious readers. At these price points, it may be much broader than that," said Bezos. "People will buy them for their kids. People won't share Kindles any more."

Engadget "had a chance to play with the device for a short while during a meeting with the company, and we can report that the Kindle is still very much the reading device you know and love (or hate... depending on your preferences). The build quality and materials used did seem slightly more polished than the previous version, and we really liked the new, more subtle rocker. We can also attest to screen refreshes and overall navigation feeling noticeably more responsive and snappy compared with the previous generation. Amazon was showing off a jacket accessory which will be made available at launch that includes a small, pull-out light for late-night reading sessions."

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Bezos offered a glimpse into the near future for e-book sales during an interview with USA Today: "I predict we will surpass paperback sales sometime in the next nine to 12 months. Sometime after that, we'll surpass the combination of paperback and hardcover. It stuns me. People forget that Kindle is only 33 months old."

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On August 27 Amazon will launch a Kindle store in the United Kingdom. The Bookseller.com reported that although the Kindle has been available internationally since last October, "up until now book buyers have had to buy books in U.S. dollars from Amazon.com, severely limiting the impact of the device in the U.K. Amazon is promising to have 400,000 Kindle editions in the store at the 'lowest prices,' but it has not divulged what the cost of bestsellers will be in the U.K.--something that will be a key concern to British publishers."

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Andrew Wylie's Odyssey Editions deal with Amazon has provoked strong responses from the book trade, including the following statement in Bookselling This Week from Oren Teicher, CEO of the American Booksellers Association:

"The issues sparked by evolving business models in the rapidly developing world of digital publishing are multifaceted and, at times, complex. However, from the perspective of independent booksellers one important reality is unchanged: Diminishing the availability of titles and narrowing the options for readers can only harm our society in the long run. That the Wylie agency has sought to distribute these works through a single retailer is bad for the book industry and bad for consumers. Books--in whatever format--are crucibles of ideas and unique expression, and we should be doing all that we can to expand, not constrict, readers' access to them."

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A "minor fire" at the Tempest Book Shop, Waitsfield, Vt., "was reportedly set overnight on Monday and caused about $500 worth of damage. However investigators stopped short of calling it arson. They say it appears the blaze was set in a plastic garbage can near the front door," WCAX News reported.

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If the endless e-book debate in the media is driving you to drink, Stephanie Anderson--Bookavore blogger and manager of WORD, Brooklyn, N.Y.--suggested a creative way to channel all that frustration into an "e-books article drinking game" while confessing that "I think this is the only way I can read another one of these."

A sampling:

"Will e-books wipe out/kill/decimate/pulverize/HULKSMASH/angry verb real books?"--one drink

Any discussion of book world after 2020--one drink

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The Little Read Book, Wauwatosa, Wis., is celebrating its 25th anniversary this month, and owner Linda Burg told WauwatosaNow.com that "for 25 years for the most part I've had a place that I love to get up and go to every day."

Like most indies, Burg has weathered competition from chains as well as the Internet: "I would keep an eye on them, but we were different. We couldn't offer the kind of sales they did, but customers couldn't find the kind of help that we provided."

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This year marks the 60th anniversary for Kennedy Book Store, Lexington, Ky., where "the same family that opened the doors in 1950 still oversees every aspect of the store's operations today," Business Lexington reported.

Asked what his "survival tactics" have been in the current economy, owner Joe Kennedy said, "Continue to do the right thing. Treat people like family and exercise good business practices. Stay with the basic premise, which for us is more used books. It's not just Lexington anymore. With online, it's worldwide."---

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Two publishing industry veterans have been elected to the board of the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression. Roberta Rubin, owner of the Book Stall at Chestnut Court, Winetka, Ill.; and Patricia Johnson, executive v-p and editorial director at Knopf, Pantheon and Schocken Books, were elected to three-year terms, Bookselling This Week reported.

Outgoing ABFFE board members are Bonnie Ammer, formerly of Random House--who served on the board for six years--and Betsy Burton of the King’s English Bookshop, Salt Lake City, Utah, who was a board member for several years and is now serving on the ABA board.---

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In an article headlined "The Amazonian Gorilla" and published by Inside Higher Ed, Scott McLemee observed that his "ambivalence about Amazon seems a lot easier to manage now that the Golden Age of Impulse Buying is over. In 2007, at least half of my book-buying was a matter of snap decisions abetted by Visa. But the economic upheaval since then has broken me of this habit, and friends report much the same."

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MobyLives showcased British artist James Hopkins, who "uses shelves and the things you put on them (like books! actual books!) to create his art. Try doing that with an e-book!"

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The New York Times examined some of the new multimedia books being released and noted that while the jury is still out on what to call them (with "amplified" and "enhanced" among the names currently in vogue), all "go beyond the simple black-and-white e-book that digitally mirrors its ink-and-paper predecessor. The new multimedia books use video that is integrated with text, and they are best read--and watched--on an iPad, the tablet device that has created vast possibilities for book publishers."

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Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing has launched Loser/Queen, an online serial YA novel by Jodi Lynn Anderson, in partnership with LivingSocial and sponsored by JC Penney.

Teens can read the first few chapters and vote on both the course of the story and the book's cover art. New chapters and invitations to vote will occur each Monday through September 13, when Loser/Queen will be available online from beginning to end for only one more week. After September 20, teens will have to wait for the paperback and e-book editions, which will be released December 21.

"It was a chance to create something really new... the interactive elements, getting the chance to involve readers in deciding on where the story will go," said Anderson. "It's been an exciting, creative process."

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Congratulations to Dominique Raccah, publisher and CEO of Sourcebooks, who has won the 2010 Woman of Vision Award, which honors "groundbreaking, inspirational women who have made a difference in Chicago's business community" and is sponsored by the Chicago law firm of Arnstein & Lehr.

Raccah will be presented with the award at a luncheon on August 5 in Chicago. Award presenter Cynde Hirschtick Munzer lauded Raccah for "having built her own publishing house from the ground up. Dominique's risk taking, fierce determination and independent vision have grown Sourcebooks into the largest woman-owned trade book publisher in America."

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Clare Peeters has been promoted to v-p, corporate strategy and business development, at Perseus Books. She has been v-p, business operations, and joined the company in 2004.

 

 


GLOW: Park Row: The Two Lives of Sara by Catherine Adel West


Michael Pietsch on Digital Mysteries

This past weekend, at the 17th annual Book Passage Mystery Writers Conference, Michael Pietsch, publisher of Little, Brown, helped demystify the publishing process for the 119 attendees and shared how he was reading on his summer vacation.

"I read on the iPad, iPhone, Sony Reader and a book," he said. Staff at Little, Brown use Sony Readers to read everything from manuscripts to catalogue copy. Long gone are the days of submitting manila envelopes, he assured the aspiring mystery writers.

"E-books are kind of great, and kind of terrifying," Pietsch said as he held up his Sony Reader. "I hate this screen. It's like reading on an Etch-a-Sketch that had the knobs fall off." Yet he assured the attendees that all of the devices would improve, and he said that what he liked best about e-books is the instant availability that feeds into the consumer's impulse to buy.

"But there is nothing online like having books in the front of a bookstore all face out," he continued. "An ecosystem without independent booksellers would be an extremely damaged ecosystem." Still, he added, writers should want publishers to sell books every way they can.

Pietsch gave the attendees a brief, entertaining lesson in editorial and acquisitions meetings and into how publishers calculate author advances--still the riskiest part of the equation. "The big challenge for a publisher is not finding great books; it's finding books that can stand out," he said.

In that regard, Pietsch sees the Internet as the best thing that ever happened to publishing, by accelerating word-of-mouth buzz "30-fold."

"Good news travels faster than it ever did," Pietsch continued. "And books catch fire faster than ever." One example: the publication in 2005 of Elizabeth Kostova's The Historian. He credits the company's electronic marketing campaign with getting the book onto the New York Times bestseller list in its first week in publication. "That was the first time a first novel did that," said Pietsch.

When Pietsch started at Scribner in 1978, he said, he especially enjoyed working on suspense fiction. Over the years, Pietsch has edited and published James Patterson, George Pelecanos and Michael Connelly. This year, Little, Brown launched a new suspense fiction imprint, Mulholland Books, which brings the press full circle, back to Raymond Chandler. And now, like all genre fiction, suspense fiction does well in e-form.

During the q&a an attendee asked if celebrity books are being published at the expense of fiction. "The things people want from books hasn't changed," Pietsch answered. "They want to lose weight, make money and get right with God."

He concluded by saying that assertions that publishing is a "dying" business are "completely belied by the facts." He described publishing as "a healthy business looking for talented writers.

"The most exciting words in the business are 'first novel,' " Pietsch said. No doubt, music to these aspiring novelists' ears.--Bridget Kinsella

 


MPIBA: Last Chance: The Great Summer Reading Guide


Vampire Academy Goes Graphic

Earlier this week at Comic Con, Richelle Mead, author of the Vampire Academy series, announced that in summer 2011, she will launch graphic novel adaptations of the books--published by Razorbill, an imprint of Penguin Young Readers Group. The novels will be illustrated in full color by Emma Vieceli and adapted by Leigh Dragoon, with Mead overseeing all aspects of the graphic novel editions. The original series will conclude on December 7, 2010, with the sixth and final installment, Last Sacrifice.

 

 


Media and Movies

Media Heat: The Summer Kitchen

Tomorrow on Oprah, in a rerun: Julie Metz, author of Perfection: A Memoir of Betrayal and Renewal (Voice, $14.99, 9781401341350/1401341357).

Also on Oprah: Karen Weinreb, author of The Summer Kitchen (St. Martin's, $14.99, 9780312640545/0312640544).

 


This Weekend on Book TV: Circle of Greed

Book TV airs on C-Span 2 from 8 a.m. Saturday to 8 a.m. Monday and focuses on political and historical books as well as the book industry. The following are highlights for this coming weekend. For more information, go to Book TV's website.

Saturday, July 31

8 a.m. Stephen Kiernan, author of Authentic Patriotism: Restoring America's Founding Ideals through Selfless Action (St. Martin's, $25.99, 9780312379117/0312379110), presents vignettes of people who are taking action in their communities. (Re-airs Saturday at 5 p.m.)

9 a.m. Erik Conway and Naomi Oreskes discuss their book Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming (Bloomsbury Press, $27, 9781596916104/1596916109). (Re-airs Sunday at 2 a.m. and Monday at 7 a.m.)

10 a.m. Cait Murphy, author of Scoundrels in Law: The Trials of Howe and Hummel, Lawyers to the Gangsters, Cops, Starlets, and Rakes Who Made the Gilded Age (Smithsonian, $26.99, 9780061714283/0061714283), presents a history of the law firm that played a significant role in the courtrooms of post-Civil War New York City. (Re-airs Saturday at 3:15 p.m. and Sunday at 4:15 a.m.)

11 a.m. Stephen Kinzer, author of Reset: Iran, Turkey, and America's Future (Times Books, $26, 9780805091274/0805091270), argues for strengthening our relationship with Turkey and Iran. (Re-airs Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 6 a.m.)

12:30 p.m. Sasha Polakow-Suransky, author of The Unspoken Alliance: Israel's Secret Relationship with Apartheid South Africa (Pantheon, $27.95, 9780375425462/0375425462), looks at a secret military partnership that began following the 1967 Six-Day War. (Re-airs Saturday at 11 p.m. and Monday at 4 a.m.)

4 p.m. William Hogeland, author of Declaration: The Nine Tumultuous Weeks When America Became Independent, May 1 to July 4, 1776 (S&S, $26, 9781416584094/1416584099), recalls the nine weeks leading up to the American Declaration of Independence. (Re-airs Sunday at 8 p.m.)

10 p.m. After Words. Paul Clement interviews Carl Cannon, co-author with Patrick Dillon of Circle of Greed: The Spectacular Rise and Fall of the Lawyer Who Brought Corporate America to Its Knees (Broadway, $28, 9780767929943/0767929942). Cannon recounts the story of William Lerach, who sued many members of the Fortune 500 list before engaging in criminal behavior himself. (Re-airs Sunday at 6 p.m. and 9 p.m., and Monday at 3 a.m.)

Sunday, August 1

10 a.m. Clay Shirky, author of Cognitive Surplus: Creativity and Generosity in a Connected Age (Penguin, $25.95, 9781594202537/1594202532), contends that following World War II, Americans had a newfound wealth of intellect and leisure time, "cognitive surplus" that was wasted on the consumption of television. (Re-airs Sunday at 7 p.m.)

12 p.m. In Depth. Consumer activist Ralph Nader, author or co-author of more than 20 books, joins Book TV for a live interview. Viewers can participate in the discussion by calling in during the program or submitting questions to booktv@c-span.org or via Twitter (@BookTV). (Re-airs Monday at 12 a.m.)

3 p.m. Laura Ingraham, author of The Obama Diaries (Threshold Editions, $25, 9781439197516/1439197512), argues against many of President Obama's political and social initiatives. (Re-airs Sunday at 10 p.m.)

4 p.m. Matt Gallagher, author of Kaboom: Embracing the Suck in a Savage Little War (Da Capo Press, $24.95, 9780306818806/0306818809), talks about his experiences in Iraq and the blog he wrote while there. (Re-airs Sunday at 11 p.m.)

 


Movies: Seven Days in Utopia; Film Cameos for Berlitz, Insight

Robert Duvall and Lucas Black will star in Seven Days in Utopia, adapted from David L. Cook's Golf's Sacred Journey: Seven Days at the Links of Utopia. Variety reported that the cast also includes Deborah Ann Woll (True Blood), Brian Geraghty (The Hurt Locker) and Melissa Leo (Frozen River). Matthew Dean Russell is directing from a script he wrote with Cook and Rob Levine. Production begins today in Texas.

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Eat Pray Love seems destined to be a cross-promotion and product placement dream project. Product tie-ins are ubiquitous (Shelf Awareness, July 28, 2020), and the publishing industry is represented with product placements of Berlitz and Insight Guide books seen throughout the film. For example, look for a Berlitz Italian Compact Dictionary and Insight Guide Bali in these trailers.

USA Today reported that sales of Gilbert's memoir are spiking again as the film release date nears, rising to number two on the latest bestseller list. Gilbert told USA Today that "Julia Roberts completely commands the movie, making the story her own--which is exactly how it should be. I wrote her a letter a few years ago, after the movie deal was signed, encouraging her to have at it, to hold nothing back, to do whatever she liked with the story... but most of all to make it her own."

 



Books & Authors

Pennie Picks Mennonite in a Little Black Dress

Pennie Clark Ianniciello, Costco's book buyer, has chosen Mennonite in a Little Black Dress by Rhoda Janzen (Holt, $14, 9780805092257/0805092250) as her pick of the month for August. In Costco Connection, which goes to many of the warehouse club's members, she wrote:

"It's a common adage that you can't go home again, but Rhoda Janzen does just that in her memoir, Mennonite in a Little Black Dress.

"Shortly after Janzen turns 43, her husband leaves her--for a man--and a car accident leaves her seriously injured. Those two events lead her to her parents' home--and the Mennonite community in which she was reared. Janzen broaches her circumstances, and the subsequent return to what now seems like a foreign culture, with insight and wit (and a few traditional recipes for good measure).

"Particularly endearing is Janzen's relationship with her mother, who offers support no matter what. Having had a mom who doubled as a personal cheerleader, I know that no matter where you call home, as long as your mom's around, it's a pretty good place to be."

 


Shelf Starter: The Fallen Sky

The Fallen Sky: An Intimate History of Shooting Stars by Christopher Cokinos (Tarcher, $16.95 trade paper, 9781585428328/1585428329, August 5, 2010)

 

Opening lines of a book we want to read:

 

 

On any clear night, under a dark enough sky, we can see shooting stars. We wish upon them, even if we don't quite know what they are--of course they're not really stars--and even if we don't know where they come from or what they might tell us about the universe. It’s as if we’re eager to pin our chances on something strange and sudden, something beautiful beyond our ken. Across cultures and time, we have written ourselves into the sky. We create constellations, transforming the random spatter of stars into shapes and stories. We name planets after gods. And we associate meteors and meteorites--the light of dust or rocks burning passage through the air, and the stones, after such fire, that fall to Earth--with the most elemental aspects of our lives: good luck, ill fortune, and even death. --selected by Marilyn Dahl

 

 

 


Book Review

Book Review: Proust's Overcoat

Proust's Overcoat: The True Story of One Man's Passion for All Things Proust by Lorenza Foschini (Ecco Press, $19.99 Hardcover, 9780061965678, August 2010)

 

In contrast to the exhaustive portraits of Marcel Proust provided in the major biographies, Lorenza Foschini reveals the writer, the man and his complicated life by examining the fate of the manuscripts, furniture and other personal items Proust left upon his death in 1922. She also raises the specter of what could happen to a famous writer's literary and personal legacy when his estate falls into the wrong hands.

During his lifetime, Proust invested his possessions with meaning and guarded them obsessively. After inheriting furniture from his parents, he insisted on keeping the bulky old pieces in his apartment until his dying day (aside from items he donated to Albert Le Cuziat for use in his male brothel, of course). When he died, all his belongings passed to his younger brother Robert, a physician with little interest in literary matters or his brother's life. Marcel Proust's last prized possessions basically went into hiding in a doctor's attic.

Foschini happened to learn in the course of an interview with Piero Tosi, a costume designer who had worked on developing a film of In Search of Lost Time in the 1960s, that someone in Paris had collected a trove of items that had belonged to Proust. She was intrigued, and set off in search of the surviving Proustiana. Lovers of Proust will thrill to the stories in this slim and stylish book of what had been saved (his entire bedroom is now installed at Musee Carnavalet, the museum of the history of Paris) but will shudder at what was lost and discarded. After Robert Proust died in 1934, for example, his widow, Marthe, went on a rampage to "destroy any and all traces of her brother-in-law." Out went all Proust's love letters, as well as personal papers she viewed as damaging the family name; she then gave the remainder of Marcel's possessions to a secondhand dealer named Monsieur Werner.

In 1935, Jacques Guérin, a collector of books and manuscripts (he also headed a successful perfume company), stumbled across a Proust manuscript page in a rare book store. He tracked down Werner and began to purchase everything he could wheedle out of him and the widow, single-handedly saving what was left of Proust's estate. He was such a good customer that Werner did not charge him for the last thing he handed over: a fur-lined gray wool overcoat. Werner regarded the coat as a worthless old rag; to Guérin, the coat in which Proust was often photographed and which he used as a coverlet when he worked in bed at night on his masterpiece was a priceless treasure from his hero's wardrobe.--John McFarland

Shelf Talker: Readers pondering what manner of person created the masterpiece In Search of Lost Time will gobble up this tale of family tensions, revenge and collecting as they reflect on a literary legacy that was almost lost.

 


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