Shelf Awareness for Friday, August 27, 2010


Workman Publishing: Paint by Sticker: Plants and Flowers: Create 12 Stunning Images One Sticker at a Time! by Workman Publishing

Sourcebooks Landmark: The Ways We Hide by Kristina McMorris

Simon & Schuster: Recording for the Simon & Schuster and Simon Kids Fall Preview 2022

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

Berkley Books: Once Upon a December by Amy E. Reichert; Lucy on the Wild Side by Kerry Rea; Where We End & Begin by Jane Igharo

Kensington Publishing Corporation: The Lost Girls of Willowbrook by Ellen Marie Wiseman

St. Martin's Press: Wild: The Life of Peter Beard: Photographer, Adventurer, Lover by Graham Boynton

Quotation of the Day

'Faster Lift on the Digital Side'

"[I'd Know You Anywhere by Laura Lippman] is the first book of ours of any consequence that has sold more e-books than hardcovers in the first week. What we're seeing now is that if a book gets a good review, it gets a faster lift on the digital side than it does on the physical side because people who have e-readers can buy and read it immediately."

--Frank Albanese, senior v-p at HarperCollins,
in a Wall Street Journal story about e-book sales, which now represent 8% of total revenue at some of the major publishers, up from 3%-5% a year ago.

 


Vintage: Morningside Heights by Joshua Henkin


News

Notes: Bookstore as Bridge; Cohen and Meade Honored

Emory University's new bookstore opened this week and offers more space for books, Emory gear and "dormitory material" and boasts a children's corner, a computer store specializing in Apple products and as well as "the largest on-campus Starbucks in the nation," according to the Emory Wheel, the student newspaper for the Atlanta, Ga., school.

Managed by Barnes & Noble, the bookstore is at the edge of the campus, which is intended to make it "a bridge from Emory to the rest of the community," Bruce Covey, senior director of technical services at Emory, told the paper. "It brings two communities together in a natural, organic way

The building is environmentally friendly.

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The New Atlantic Independent Booksellers Association is presenting Carla Cohen and Barbara Meade, owners of Politics and Prose, Washington, D.C., with its Legacy Award at its annual banquet, Wednesday, September 21, in Atlantic City, N.J., during NAIBA's fall conference.

NAIBA said in part that Cohen and Meade "have been widely recognized for building an independent book store of distinction. Politics and Prose, under their leadership, celebrates the reading of books and the dissemination of ideas without fear or favor....

"The bookstore is inextricably tied to the Washington community, reflecting the character of the community's interest in discussion and debate on everything political, both national and international and the community's far-ranging interests from art to cuisine, philosophy to history to a wide variety of fiction.

"The richness of the P&P experience lies also in its unique relationship with authors and publishers, conducting book groups and hosting author talks that facilitate relationships among books, the authors and their audiences. What could be more important to the concept of freedom and a true marketplace of ideas than a bookstore that challenges us to expand our knowledge through the introduction of new ideas, discussion and debate?"

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Former President George W. Bush will begin promoting his new book, Decision Points (Crown), on November 8 with a prime-time, hour-long interview on NBC with Matt Lauer, and "other media interviews and a book tour are in the works," according to the Wall Street Journal. Decision Points will be published November 9, a week after the midterm elections.

The book, the Journal wrote, discusses "14 major decisions by Mr. Bush during his life and White House tenure. Among them, according to several people who have seen the manuscript: backing the bailout of the nation's financial system, enacting billions of dollars in tax cuts, limiting the use of human embryonic stem cells, and building up troops in Iraq for the so-called surge."

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R.J. Julia Booksellers' books for troops program resulted in the Madison, Conn., store sending nine cartons of books worth nearly $2,000 to U.S. servicepeople in Afghanistan. The store noted, "We heard from many of you with relatives or friends over there, and donated books in their name. And lots of you sent thank you notes along with the books--thank you." The store plans to repeat the program "closer to the holidays."

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Book trailer of the day: Reckless by Cornelia Funke (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers), which will be published worldwide on September 14.

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In an article disseminated via both mass-produced newspaper technology and digitally, the Wall Street Journal investigated the world of print on demand in bookstores and as used by publishers and wholesalers. Interquest estimates the number of books printed digitally is about 4% but should grow to 15% by 2015.

Bookstores, the Journal wrote, "are finding a market for titles printed in small custom batches." One example is Oscar's Art Books in Vancouver, B.C., which has an Espresso Book Machine and has sold some 1,500 books printed on it since March. "Of course, the fun is being able to watch their book being made," Oscar's manager Barry Bechta said, adding that "people congregate around the machine to watch books print."

Xerox Corp., Eastman Kodak and others are making short run digital printers, which are in demand from publishers that want to improve inventory management. And Ingram's Lightning Source POD service is used by many accounts up and down the supply chain.

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Amazon's penchant for withholding Kindle sales numbers while touting the e-reader's sales was examined by PCWorld.com, which asked IDC mobile device analyst Susan Kevorkian for her take on the strategy.

"There are a variety of reasons," Kevorkian said. "Short term, Amazon's policy means that Kindle won't get directly, and quite possibly unfavorably, compared to iPad in terms of shipments as the iPad grows in popularity and cannibalizes the e-reader market."

Amazon's Kindle strategy, according to PCWorld.com, is to distribute digital content to a wide range of devices from multiple vendors and on multiple platforms. "This strategy has taken shape over the past several months with the launch of Kindle apps for a variety of devices that extend the Kindle experience well beyond the dedicated Kindle device," Kevorkian observed.

PCWorld.com suggested that "perhaps Kindle hardware sales stats aren't all that relevant, particularly since Amazon's e-book strategy appears to be working. Still, it'd be nice to see some numbers alongside those 'fastest-selling ever' claims."

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The main speakers at the Book Industry Study Group's annual meeting on Friday, September 24, in New York City include opening keynoter Maureen McMahon, president and publisher, Kaplan Publishing, whose talk is titled "BISG: Alternative Abbreviations," and closing keynoter David "Skip" Prichard, president and CEO of Ingram Content Group, who will talk about "Ensuring That 'the Book' Will Survive."

Among other speakers are Scott Lubeck, executive director of BISG, who will discuss "Improving the Ratio of Signal to Noise for an Industry in Transformation"; David Jolliffe, v-p, cross media publishing services, Pearson Canada, who will talk about "the Next Chapter in Educational Publishing"; and Kate Wilson, founder of Nosy Crow.

For more information, go to bisg.org.

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Tomorrow is International Read Comics in Public Day, the founders of which recommend that people "take to the streets. Be proud. If someone asks what you’re reading, say, 'a comic book' (the phrase 'graphic novel' is also acceptable, but let's face it, it sort of defeats the whole purpose). Heck, lend them a book, if you've got an extra--what better way to make a new friend and convert a new reader?"

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Australian bookseller Therese Holland, owner of McLeods Books, wrote about the "Chaotic Quirkiness" of her used bookshop on the Bookseller Blog: "Second hand bookshop owners do seem to have a reputation for being ill humored. As to why real second hand book shop owners are eccentric and crochety I blame the customers--and the books."

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Ian Stewart, author and "a serious and respectable mathematician," explained in the Guardian why he chooses to attend the Discworld convention at a Birmingham airport hotel "in the company of 800 committed sci-fi fans.... The answer is that I enjoy spending time in the company of the highly intelligent devotees of Sir Terry Pratchett's brand of humorous fantasy.... Terry's books tread the boundary where science fiction merges into fantasy. Only Terry would ask what the tooth fairy wants all those teeth for."

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Melanie Chang has been promoted to v-p and executive director of publicity at Little, Brown Books for Young Readers. She joined the company in 2007.
 
Effective September 1, Sara Zick is joining the Little, Brown Books for Young Readers publicity group as associate director, a new position. She was previously the publicity manager at the Penguin Young Readers Group.

 

 

 


Beaming Books: Sarah Rising by Ty Chapman, illustrated by Deann Wiley


Media and Movies

Media Heat: 101 Places Not to See Before You Die

This morning on Morning Edition: Catherine Price, author of 101 Places Not to See Before You Die (Harper, $13.99, 9780061787768/0061787760).

 


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Movies: Albert Brooks--Author and 'Badass'

Actor Albert Brooks is having what Deadline.com called "a seminal year." His debut science fiction novel, 2030: The Real Story of What Happens to America, is set to be published next spring by St. Martin's and he is taking "his first screen turn as a truly dangerous badass," joining the cast of Drive, a film adaptation of the novel by James Sallis. Nicolas Winding Refn is directing the project, which also stars Ryan Gosling, Carey Mulligan and Bryan Cranston.

Brooks spent "the better part of two years working on his debut novel," Deadline.com reported, noting that the "film crowd began calling Brooks's WME reps and manager Herb Nanas when the galleys made the publishing rounds. But Brooks has to first decide the best course for the book--he might write but not direct--before the novel is auctioned."

 

 



Books & Authors

Awards: World Fantasy Awards Finalists

Finalists have been named in multiple categories for this year's World Fantasy Awards, which will be presented at the World Fantasy Convention in Columbus, Ohio, October 28-31. You can find a complete list of nominees at Locus magazine. Shortlist highlights include:

Novel

Blood of Ambrose by James Enge
The Red Tree by Caitlín R. Kiernan
The City & The City by China Miéville
Finch by Jeff VanderMeer
In Great Waters by Kit Whitfield

Anthology

Poe, edited by Ellen Datlow
Songs of the Dying Earth: Stories in Honor of Jack Vance, edited by George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois
Exotic Gothic 3: Strange Visitations, edited by Danel Olson
Eclipse Three, edited by Jonathan Strahan
American Fantastic Tales: Terror and the Uncanny: From Poe to the Pulps/From the 1940s to Now, edited by Peter Straub
The Very Best of Fantasy & Science Fiction: Sixtieth Anniversary Anthology, edited by Gordon Van Gelder

Collection

We Never Talk About My Brother by Peter S. Beagle
Fugue State by Brian Evenson
There Once Lived a Woman Who Tried to Kill Her Neighbor's Baby: Scary Fairy Tales by Ludmilla Petrushevskaya
Northwest Passages by Barbara Roden
Everland and Other Stories by Paul Witcover
The Very Best of Gene Wolfe/The Best of Gene Wolfe by Gene Wolfe

Special Award--Professional

Peter & Nicky Crowther (for PS Publishing)
Ellen Datlow (for editing anthologies)
Hayao Miyazaki (for Ponyo)
Barbara and Christopher Roden (for Ash-Tree Press)
Jonathan Strahan (for editing anthologies)
Jacob and Rina Weisman (for Tachyon Publications)

Special Award--Non-professional

John Berlyne (for Powers: Secret Histories)
Neil Clarke, Cheryl Morgan and Sean Wallace (for Clarkesworld)
Susan Marie Groppi (for Strange Horizons)
John Klima (for Electric Velocipede)
Bob Colby, B. Diane Martin, David Shaw and Eric M. Van (for Readercon)
Ray Russell & Rosalie Parker (for Tartarus Press)

 


Shelf Starter: The Cailiffs of Baghdad, Georgia

The Cailiffs of Baghdad, Georgia by Mary Helen Stefaniak (Norton, $24.95, 9780393063103/0393063100, September 2010)

Opening lines of a book we want to read:

 

Miss Spivey, For and Against

Miss Grace Spivey arrived in Threestep, Georgia, in August of 1938. She stepped off the train wearing a pair of thick-soled boots suitable for hiking, a navy blue dress, and a little white tam that rode the waves of her red hair at a gravity-defying angle. August was a hellish month to step off the train in Georgia, although it was nothing, she said, compared to the 119 degrees that greeted her one time in Timbuktu, which, she assured us, was a real place in Africa. I believe her remark irritated some of the people gathered to welcome her on the burned grass alongside the tracks. When folks are sweating through their shorts, they don't like to hear that this is nothing compared to someplace else. Irritated or not, the majority of those present were inclined to see the arrival of the new schoolteacher in a positive light. Hard times were still upon us in 1938, but, like my momma says, "We weren't no poorer than we'd ever been, " and the citizens of Threestep were in the mood for a little excitement.

Miss Spivey looked like just the right person to give it to them.--Selected by Marilyn Dahl

 


Book Brahmin: Jessica Francis Kane

Jessica Francis Kane is the author of the story collection Bending Heaven. Her first novel, The Report, will be published by Graywolf Press in September 2010. Her stories have been broadcast on BBC Radio and have appeared in many publications, including McSweeney's, the Missouri Review, the Virginia Quarterly Review and the Michigan Quarterly Review. Her essays and humor pieces have be featured in McSweeney's, Internet Tendency and the Morning News, where she is a contributing writer. She lives in New York with her husband and their two children.

 

On your nightstand now:

The latest issues of Lapham's Quarterly and the VQR, which I increasingly treat as books that must be read beginning to end, not magazines to be perused. They Came Like Swallows by William Maxwell. The Nobodies Album by Carolyn Parkhurst. The author questionnaire that I need to fill out for Portobello Books, which is bringing out The Report in England next year. A beautiful blue and green notebook made for me by a friend who is an artist (in fact, she designed the illustrations that grace the inside covers of the Graywolf edition of my novel). And "The Book of Love," a present from my daughter, age 7. She wrote it herself, in crayon, and stapled the pages. Mostly it repeats over and over that she loves me, her father and her brother, so I'm pretty sure it's going to stay on my nightstand forever.

Favorite book when you were a child:

Arundel by Kenneth Roberts. It is a historical novel about the Continental Army's assault on British Quebec during the American Revolution. I adored the depiction of the grueling march through the Maine wilderness led by a heroic Benedict Arnold in his pre-traitor days. I did my very own reenactments in the Connecticut woods at my grandmother's house, circa 1981.

Your top five authors:

Favorite authors, favorite books--the very thought of choosing makes my mind go blank! But here goes: F. Scott Fitzgerald was probably the first, for showing me how sentences could be written. Penelope Fitzgerald for revealing how humor and pathos could be intertwined. Graham Greene for everything, really. The last two spots will have to be shared by George Eliot, Dickens, Chekov and Alice Munro, in no particular order. Sorry to break the rules.

Book you've faked reading:

The Mysteries of Udolpho by Ann Radcliffe. I faked it for a class in college, though I did ultimately finish it after graduation. It took me a long time, as I recall, though that was a good thing because I was working in publishing in New York and didn't have any money for other entertainments.

Book you're an evangelist for:

According to Queeney by Beryl Bainbridge. A novel about the last years of Samuel Johnson's life in which Bainbridge writes sentences Johnson could have written. I think it is a beautiful novel, so poignant in the way it handles time and reveals what the same event can mean to different people.

Book you've bought for the cover:

The Pink Fairy Book. There was a whole series of them, all different colors, but I only had the pink one.

Book that changed your life:

There was this big hardcover book of ghost stories in my parents' library when I was little. The jacket was bright yellow and I loved it. I didn't read the stories until many years later, but the reason the book changed my life is because it inspired a game I played. The game was that I had been given a homework assignment to write a story, and after much worry and procrastination (such verisimilitude!), what I pretended to turn in the next day was... the great yellow book of ghost stories! Binding, jacket, and all. I had a very optimistic sense of how long it takes to make a book, obviously (let alone write one), but I never got tired of playing that game. I guess in some sense I'm still not tired of it.

Where do you work?

Almost exclusively in libraries. A long time ago I suspected I would be susceptible to over-fetishizing the writer's desk, and so I decided it might be better not to have one. I think on the whole I've gotten more work done this way, though some days I wander in search of the right atmosphere (no eaters, no loud talkers). I do have a book of photographs of writers at their desks that my husband gave me (Eudora Welty is my favorite, the lift of her chin so defiant). So maybe one day I'll relent....

Favorite line from a book:

"Jim was born in a white house on a green corner."--from "The Jelly-Bean" by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Maybe it doesn't seem like much, but the transparency of this opened a whole world for me, that a sentence could be that simple and yet say so much.

Book you most want to read again for the first time:

Choices by Mary Lee Settle. I remember that after I finished it, I started my first-ever fan letter. I never sent it, though, and I really wish I had. She died a few years later.

 

 


Book Review

Book Review: The Golden Mean

The Golden Mean by Annabel Lyon (Knopf Publishing Group, $24.95 Hardcover, 9780307593993, September 2010)

Twenty-five years after he left, Aristotle returns to Pella, the capital of Macedon, on a diplomatic mission. He warns his young wife, Pythias, that Pella is very different from what she is used to but assures her they won't be staying long. Aristotle will keep some of his promises and break many others in the course of Annabel Lyon's richly imagined and engrossing novel of fourth-century B.C. Macedon and Greece.

When Aristotle delivers a proposal from Hermias of Atarneus to Philip II of Macedon, a friend from his youth, Philip responds with a proposal for him. He asks Aristotle to try his luck educating Philip's undisciplined sons, Arrhidaeus and Alexander. Aristotle accepts what he thinks will be a brief assignment, only to find it evolving into something more complex and long-term. Pythias, for her part, has endless hours to form withering opinions of Pella and the Macedonians. "They're rude, all of them. Their bodies stink. The women do slaves' work. Their wine is bad. The queen is insane," she harangues Aristotle, who replies simply, "They will rule the world."

Lyon hits all the notes, from elegant to funky, to immerse us in places so foreign and so distant in time: Aristotle's childhood in Stageira, Chalcis; his fraught teenage friendship with Philip in Pella; his studies with Plato in Athens; and his return to Pella as tutor to the future Alexander the Great. Against a flawlessly drawn world rife with plague and constant wars, she allows Aristotle to articulate his sly teaching methods and to confide his anxieties and insecurities, "whiplashing from the one condition to the next, from black melancholy to golden joy," in what we would label as some form of bipolar disorder.

At the center of Aristotle's story lies the relationship with his most famous student, from the time Alexander was a rambunctious, difficult 13-year-old to his assumption of Greatness. In Lyon's capable hands, the intense battle of wills between student and teacher, philosopher and ambitious warrior prince, is arresting and original. Alexander taunts his teacher: "All our years together, you've made your theories out of the accidents of your own life. You've built a whole philosophy around the virtue of being you." As payback, when Alexander requests one last lesson before he rides off to conquer the world, Aristotle replies, "I suppose it would be a waste of time to speak to you of moderation."

Throughout, Lyon depicts Aristotle as an astute, observant empiricist. His report on what others share with him, as well as his own musings and interpretations, make this a moving and illuminating historical novel that can stand proudly alongside the works of Mary Renault. --John McFarland

Shelf Talker: A moving and illuminating novel in which Aristotle tells all.

 

 


Deeper Understanding

Robert Gray: Opening the Door--A Not-So-Sentimental Education

During the early 1990s, a friend of mine spent a year working for an indie bookstore while seriously exploring the possibility of opening her own bookshop in New England. She had money, experience as a librarian and business acumen, but she ultimately walked away from the prospect. And that was during the pre-chain, pre-Amazon golden-ish age of independent bookselling.

Who stays and who walks away now? This was one of several questions I posed to Donna Paz Kaufman and Mark Kaufman--of Paz & Associates: The Bookstore Training & Consulting Group--who facilitate a workshop retreat, Opening a Bookstore: The Business Essentials, and partner with the American Booksellers Association to provide training for people interested in entering retail bookselling.

"For the past five or six years, the ABA has placed a great priority on education for booksellers, with content related to all aspects of the business," said the Kaufmans in an e-mail interview. "Our goal, on the other hand, is to reach prospective store owners early in the decision-making process, so that they're on the right track from the moment they open their doors rather than having to dig themselves out of a hole."

As I mentioned earlier in this series, I've noticed that many new bookstore owners seem better prepared for their entry into the business than their peers were a decade or more ago.

The Kaufmans agreed: "Before the advent of the 'information age,' we suspect that many booksellers opened stores with a Field of Dreams attitude--if you build it, they will come. With a great deal at stake, our trainees realize how much they don't know; they see the number of indie bookstores that have gone out of business and want to know why. They hope to avoid the same mistakes and preserve their hard-earned investment. Most have never owned or managed a retail store of any kind, let alone a retail bookstore, and see the importance of training for a new chapter in their career. They understand that you can easily buy anything you want online, and are aware that a retail bookstore needs to give customers a compelling reason to get out from behind the computer and come shop at the local bookstore."

The majority of their workshop attendees "are career-changers, having come to a point in their lives when questions like 'Is that all there is?' arise, and they're motivated to live out a dream before they run out of time. Every so often, we'll see 'emerging leaders' (the under-40 set), yet funding seems to be the greatest challenge here. One constant is the number of dreamers who get disillusioned when they find out the amount of time, effort, and money required. Retail is retail: the hours are long, your feet get tired, and there's very little margin for error."

The path from wild idea to actually opening that front door is more perilous than ever, and the "need to be better prepared is most evident when looking for funding sources, as lenders require more and more--collateral, credit history, experience, etc. There are even some landlords who expect sketches of a store design before they will approve a tenant. The chains provide a consistent look, but landlords of quality properties want to be assured an independently owned business will be just as serious about creating an attractive sense of place that will contribute to their development."

A hard road can sometimes be a hard sell. The Kaufmans noted that "over the past seven years, some 1,850 people have contacted us for information about opening a bookstore. Of that number, 1,025 took another step by minimally investing in their education. A bit more than 20% attended a workshop, and we estimate that 50%-60% of workshop graduates have gone on to open stores."

To foster more interest, they are using their blog "to promote the business opportunities that the media just doesn't see. We've also been in touch with the major newspapers and magazines to encourage them to tell the other side of the story. Opportunities do exist and several successful indie bookstores are now for sale, in search of new owners. These are businesses with an existing loyal customer base, revenue stream, and profits that are enriching the lives of people in their communities, employing residents and contributing to their local economies. Indie bookselling is part of the 'long tail.' "

One aspect of the process that hasn't changed is the questions prospective booksellers ask: How much will it cost? How long will it take? How much can I earn? Can my community support a bookstore?

"But more people now want some specifics about how they can make it work without losing sleep at night," according to the Kaufmans. "There is one question that comes up, especially after we focus on the financial dynamics of the business and the potential return on investment. We've had people ask, 'Why bother?' Our goal is to ensure that prospective booksellers make informed decisions based on understanding the risks, the potential rewards, and all that it takes to succeed.

"We do use 'formal education' to refer to retail training in bookselling," they added. "Our focus is not to repeat training someone can easily find elsewhere, like understanding how to write a business plan or the critical elements of marketing. Our training is specific to retail bookselling. We emphasize the realities of retail and the nuances of the book industry, combining the two and placing it in context of today's economy and consumer."--Robert Gray (column archives available at Fresh Eyes Now)

 


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