Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Flatiron Books: White Horse by Erika T. Wurth

Holiday House: Owl and Penguin (I Like to Read Comics) by Vikram Madan; Noodleheads Take it Easy by Tedd Arnold, Martha Hamilton, and Mitch Weiss

Blackstone Publishing: Ezra Exposed by Amy E. Feldman

Clavis: Fall Preview

Amulet Books: Marya Khan and the Incredible Henna Party (Marya Khan #1) by Saadia Faruqi, illustrated by Ani Bushry

Charlesbridge Publishing: Abuelita and I Make Flan by Adriana Hernández Bergstrom; Brand-New Bubbe by Sarah Aronson, illustrated by Ariel Landy

Shadow Mountain: To Capture His Heart (Proper Romance Victorian) by Nancy Campbell Allen

Quotation of the Day

B&N Closing in Manhattan: 'Evidence of Decline'

"If a saloon and bookstore can't make it on the Upper West Side, what better evidence do you need than that of the decline of artistic and free thought? If this is happening here, what must you see in the hinterlands of America?"

--Charles Mysak, a sidewalk bookseller on the Upper West Side of Manhattan talking about the closing of the Barnes & Noble at Lincoln Triangle in January with the New York Times.


University of California Press: Dictee (Second Edition, Reissue, Restored);  Exilee and Temps Morts: Selected Works (First Edition, Reissue) by Theresa Hak Kyung Cha


Waters @ WORD


Last Friday at a sold-out event featuring John Waters sponsored by WORD, Brooklyn, N.Y.: (from l.) Carolyn Kellogg, lead blogger for the Los Angeles Times's Jacket Copy, who interviewed Waters; WORD's Kelly Amabile; WORD manager Stephanie Anderson; Waters; WORD owner Christine Onorati; and Jenn Northington, the store's new event manager.


Blair: A Girlhood: Letter to My Transgender Daughter by Carolyn Hays

Bookstore Sales: 2.4% Drop in July

July bookstore sales slipped 2.4%, to $1.079 billion, compared to July 2009, according to preliminary estimates from the Census Bureau. For the year to date, total bookstore sales have dropped 0.7%, to $8.499 billion.

Total retail sales in July rose 5.4%, to $372.7 billion, compared to the same period a year ago. For the year, total retail sales were up 6.4%, to $2,492.3 billion.

Note: under Census Bureau definitions, bookstore sales are of new books and do not include "electronic home shopping, mail-order, or direct sale" or used book sales.


Graphic Mundi - Psu Press: Hakim's Odyssey by Fabien Toulme and Hanna Chute

Notes: Cohen Award; Judge Muzzled in New Jersey

The New Atlantic Independent Booksellers Association has founded the NAIBA Carla Cohen Free Speech Award, which honors the co-owner of Politics and Prose, Washington, D.C., and a past NAIBA president. The award will go to a children's book that helps children "question, imagine, and dream," as NAIBA acting president Lucy Kogler put it.

The first winner of the award is The Dreamer by Pam Munuz Ryan, illustrated by Peter Sis (Scholastic Press). Kogler called the book "an amazingly beautiful and necessary book about the great poet and activist Pablo Neruda." NAIBA is making a donation to the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression in their names.

Kogler added: "Independent bookstores are the places where freedom of speech and anti-censorship are integrated into everything we do. We are spaces where difference--of ideas, sexuality, spirit, politics, and philosophy--is embraced and not feared. Politics and Prose has been exactly this kind of place for the past 27 years. Independent bookstores are essential to their communities and hence to a truly democratic nation. The survival of our bookstores relies on children becoming informed and engaged in our midsts. Only through the nurturing of this future community will we ensure having a customer base on which to rely."


Nelson Johnson, a New Jersey Superior Court trial judge and the author of Boardwalk Empire: The Birth, High Times, and Corruption of Atlantic City, which inspired the HBO show of the same name that has its premiere this Sunday, September 19, cannot speak publicy until the state Superior Court determines whether or not he has violated the state code of conduct for judicial employees by "self-promoting," the Observer reported.

Johnson's publisher, Plexus Publishing, Mendham, N.J., told the Observer that the judge is making a counterargument to the committee. A final decision may be months away and comes, of course, just when the book is getting heightened interest.

Plexus has an HBO series tie-in edition with a foreword by Terence Winter, the show's lead writer who also worked on The Sopranos. Plexus editor-in-chief John B. Bryans told the Observer that despite the muzzling, the press is "hoping for a best seller in a couple of weeks."


Of Thee I Sing: A Letter to My Daughters, a children's book by President Obama, illustrated by Loren Long, will be published November 16 by Random House Children's Books. The president wrote the book before taking office, the New York Times noted.

The book is a tribute to "13 groundbreaking Americans and the ideals that have shaped our nation," including Georgia O'Keeffe, Jackie Robinson and George Washington.

Random will published 500,000 copies; proceeds will go to a scholarship fund for children of soldiers who are killed or injured.


Happy 120th Birthday, Agatha Christie! To celebrate, Google in the U.K. has transformed its logo into a tribute to the mystery author. Note the G's reference to mustachioed detective Hercule Poirot.


Cool idea of the day: Last week, at the height of the storm about a possible Koran-burning, Broadway Books, Portland, Ore., was approached by a local Presbyterian church that wanted to buy 100 copies of the Koran and give them to the first 100 people who wanted a copy. As Broadway owner Robert Dyer put it: "We jumped at the chance (and of course gave the church a hefty discount)."

She noted that "Even though the book burning has been called off, we are going ahead with the project.... As this is a freedom of speech as well as a freedom of religion issue, it hits us where we live."


Book trailer of the day (with lots of sound!): The Sounds of Star Wars by J.W. Rinzler (Chronicle).


With the imminent closing of the Borders in Aventura, Fla., Miami's NBC6 asked, "Are the big chains an endangered species?" while noting that all bookstores "are trying to adapt, turn a new page, by offering their own downloads for e-readers and setting up their own online retail operations."

"You can't put the brakes on technology, it's always gonna be here," said Mitchell Kaplan, owner of Books & Books. "It's a very precarious marketplace right now for all bookstores and for publishers as well."

He also questioned the viability of the big box store business model. "I think that like all of us have to do in business, they're gonna have to remake themselves, sort of figure out who exactly they are and what community they're serving."


Today, William Stout Architectural Books opens its first shop outside San Francisco at 1605 Solano Avenue in Berkeley. Berkeleyside reported that "Bill Stout says he chose Berkeley because of the bookstore's ongoing publishing collaboration with UC Berkeley, and because the Solano district is 'a more vibrant residential neighborhood than where we are now.' Stout is hoping to find customers for his books among UC Berkeley staff as well as Berkeley architecture enthusiasts." Matthew Swiezynski is the new store's manager.

Stout "concedes it could be seen as an odd decision to be opening an independent bookstore just as so many are being forced into closure. However, niche bookstores--be it food-focused like Omnivore Books in San Francisco or with a gardening specialty such as Mrs. Dalloway's in Berkeley--seem to stand a better chance than others," Berkeleyside wrote.


Little, Brown unveiled the dustjacket art for The Pale King, an unfinished novel by David Foster Wallace that it is scheduled to be published April 15, the New York Times reported. Karen Green, Wallace's widow, created the cover design for the book.

"Although David did not finish the novel, it is a surprisingly whole and satisfying reading experience that showcases his extraordinary imaginative talents and his mixing of comedy and deep sadness in scenes from daily life," said Michael Pietsch, publisher of Little, Brown and the editor of the novel.  


PC World's Tony Bradley questioned the marketing wisdom of Amazon's latest Kindle commercial (Shelf Awareness, September 14, 2010) attacking the iPad: "Amazon is responsible for the mainstream acceptance of the e-reader thanks to the Kindle, and it has a virtually insurmountable dominance of the market. Yet, Amazon seems to have some sort of Napoleon complex about the Apple iPad, as evidenced by its new marketing campaign."

Conceding that the Kindle campaign "is catchy" Bradley observed that "it is unnecessary and misguided. Amazon should stop Quixotically tilting at Apple windmills, and focus on its actual e-reader competitors. Better yet, Amazon should embrace the iPad and market the benefits of buying Kindle-format books that can be synced across and read from virtually any device."

PC Magazine's critique was a bit more sarcastic: "Amazon has an important message about the latest Kindle--it is the e-book reader of choice for pretty ladies in swimsuits everywhere. Apple iPads, meanwhile, are strictly for the sort of dudes who wear t-shirts while sitting beside the pool.... Oh, also the thing is cheaper than the kind of sunglasses that pretty poolside ladies buy. Also, you can read it in direct sunlight. But honestly, if you're going to spend more than $139 on pair of glasses, you can probably afford an iPad and a beach umbrella, right?"


Author Chuck Hogan recommended some of his favorite books and movies with Boston settings for the Globe.  

Ebony Magazine Publishing: Black Hollywood: Reimagining Iconic Movie Moments by Carell Augustus

Obituary Notes: David Thompson, Joan Steiner

David Thompson, a longtime bookseller and assistant manager at Murder by the Book, Houston, Texas, and founder and publisher of Busted Flush Press, died suddenly on Tuesday. He was 38 and just last month had sold Busted Flush to Tyrus Books and was continuing as head of it.

Busted Flush specialized in out-of-print and new hard-boiled crime books. Thompson founded Busted Flush in 2005 (Shelf Awareness, July 30, 2006).

Thompson worked at Murder by the Book for 21 years. Two years ago he married McKenna Jordan, whom he met at the store. Around the same time, she bought the store, technically becoming Thompson's boss.

On her blog, Confessions of an Idiosyncratic Mind, Sarah Weinman offers a heartfelt tribute and a long list of links to remembrances of David Thompson.


Joan Steiner, creator of the Look-Alikes books published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, died last Wednesday, September 8, after a long struggle with cancer.

Steiner won immediate acclaim for her first book, published in 1998, Alikes. She followed with five additional titles, each with unusual three-dimensional towns, houses and holiday scenes depicted and photographed. Look-Alikes was one of Time magazine's best children's books and also one of the New York Times Book Review's Notable Children's Books of 1998. Her final book, Look-Alikes Seek-and-Search Puzzles, will be published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers next spring. A memorial service will be held in the CE Building next to the Dutch Reformed Church, Route 9H in Claverack, N.Y., on Saturday, October 9, at 3 p.m.



Rick Richter Raises Ruckus

Ruckus Media Group has been launched to create high-def animated children's story apps for mobile media platforms, including the iPhone, iTouch, iPad and Android mobile devices. Apps will feature original material from bestselling children's authors and illustrators David Carter, Jon Sziescka and Rosemary Wells, as well as remastered Rabbit Ears Library titles with some added interactive features. The company plans to release more than 26 apps by the end of the year; 75 more are under contract.

Ruckus co-founders are CEO Rick Richter, former president and publisher of Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing, and COO Jim Young, who has had senior operating experience at NBC, Viacom, Dendrite International, WebMD and S&S.

The first apps for iPhone and iTouch (Android apps are planned for release later in the fall) will cost $3.99 each and will be available from the Apple App Store starting September 28; they include these Play-Read-and-Record-Along animated stories: Tom Thumb and the Knights of the Round Table, told by John Cleese, illustrated by Tim Gabor, music by Elvis Costello; The Velveteen Rabbit, told by Meryl Streep, illustrated by Dave Jorgenson, music by George Winston; Johnny Appleseed, told by Garrison Keillor, illustrated by Stan Olson, music by Mark O'Connor; Pecos Bill, told by Robin Williams, illustrated by Tim Raglin, music by Bobby McFerrin; and John Henry, told by Denzel Washington, illustrated by Barry Jackson, music by B.B. King.

Ruckus's creative team includes former S&S colleagues Rubin Pfeffer of East West Literacy Agency and Emma D. Dryden of drydenbks, plus Mark Sottnick and Doris Wilhousky, the original executive producers of Rabbit Ears, who will create new Rabbit Ears programming. Among board members are Jack Romanos, S&S ex-CEO and Richter's former boss, who will consult on on project development, strategy and marketing; and Dan Weiss, publisher at large, St. Martin's Press.--Jennifer M. Brown



Media and Movies

Media Heat: Both Ways Is the Only Way I Want It

Today on Fresh Air: Scott Spencer, author of Man in the Woods (Ecco, $24.99, 9780061466557/0061466557).


Tomorrow on KCRW's Bookworm: Maile Meloy, author of Both Ways Is the Only Way I Want It (Riverhead Books, $15, 9781594484650/1594484651). As the show put it: "Maile Meloy's stories go shooting off in such surprising and unpredictable directions that a reader might think, 'every which way is the only way she wants it.' In this interview, we discuss the interplay of improvisation and narrative control that allows Meloy to saddle the wild horse of her narrative."


Tomorrow on the View: Katherine Schwarzenegger, daughter of Arnold Schwarzenegger and author of Rock What You've Got: Secrets to Loving Your Inner and Outer Beauty from Someone Who's Been There and Back (Voice, $22.99, 9781401341435/1401341438). She is also on Good Morning America tomorrow.


Tomorrow night on Inside Edition: Cynthia and Nora Stewart, the mother and daughter whose story is the center of Framing Innocence: A Mother's Photographs, a Prosecutor's Zeal, and a Small Town's Response by Lynn Powell (New Press/Perseus dist., $25.95, 9781595585516/1595585516).


Tomorrow night on the Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson: Sloane Crosley, author of How Did You Get This Number (Riverhead, $25.95, 9781594487590/1594487596).


Movie: The Adjustment Bureau

The Adjustment Bureau, based on the short story "The Adjustment Team" by Philip K. Dick, opens this Friday, September 17. Playing a politician and ballerina respectively, Matt Damon and Emily Blunt star as a couple kept apart by mysterious forces. George Nolfi directs.

The story is included in The Early Work of Philip K. Dick Volume 1: The Variable Man and Other Stories (Prime Books, $28, 9781607012023/1607012022).


Books & Authors

Book Brahmin: Leonard Mlodinow

Leonard Mlodinow is a physicist at Caltech and the co-author with Stephen Hawking of The Grand Design (Bantam, September 7, 2010). He is the author of The Drunkard's Walk: How Randomness Rules Our Lives, as well as Feynman's Rainbow: A Search for Beauty in Physics and in Life and Euclid's Window: The Story of Geometry from Parallel Lines to Hyperspace. He also co-authored A Briefer History of Time with Stephen Hawking, and two children's books, The Last Dinosaur and Titanic Cat, with Mat Costello. In addition, he has written for TV series such as Star Trek: the Next Generation and McGyver.


On your nightstand now:

Strength in What Remains by Tracy Kidder, This Boy's Life by Tobias Wolff. Yes, shame on me, I often alternate between books....


Favorite book when you were a child:

Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein


Your top five authors:

Graham Greene, Raymond Carver, Bernard Malamud, Kurt Vonnegut, Charles Bukowski.


Book you've faked reading:

The Da Vinci Code. The opening seemed like a cross between a TV action show and a Sherlock Holmes parody. I couldn't get very far in it... but everyone was talking about it so I chimed in as if I had read it. There was enough to be sarcastic about in those few pages I had read that no one noticed.


Book you're an evangelist for:

Monsignor Quixote by Graham Greene.


Book you've bought for the cover:



Book that changed your life:

The Feynman Lectures on Physics by Richard Feynman.


Favorite line from a book:

"We think that grass is green, that stones are hard, and that snow is cold. But physics assures us that the greenness of grass, the hardness of stones, and the coldness of snow, are not the greenness, hardness, and coldness that we know in our own experience, but something very different."--from An Inquiry into Meaning and Truth by Bertrand Russell.

Russell is talking about physics, but I think being skeptical about superficial interpretations is important in all areas of life.


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

Any book by Greene, Carver, Malamud or Vonnegut, as I mention above. I've often lamented that I ran through all they'd written. With Bukowski, you've got to be a little more choosy.



Book Review

Children's Review: Dave the Potter: Artist, Poet, Slave

Dave the Potter: Artist, Poet, Slave by Laban Carrick Hill (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, $16.99 Hardcover, 9780316107310, September 2010)


This glorious collaboration between Laban Carrick Hill (Harlem Stomp!) and Bryan Collier (Martin's Big Words) demonstrates how one man's creativity and imagination transcends any attempt to chain him down. Through the language of metaphor, Hill introduces us to Dave the potter, who lived at the turn of the 19th century, and the South Carolina clay so integral to his art. "To us,/ it is just dirt,/ the ground we walk on," the book begins, as Collier's opening portrait depicts a man sifting "gritty grains" through his sizable hands, gazing at it as reverently as if it were gold dust. "But to Dave/ it was clay,/ the plain and basic stuff/ upon which he learned to/ form a life/ as a slave nearly/ two hundred years ago."

This opening contrast hints that there is much to discover beyond what we can see on the surface. "To us/ it is just a pot,/ round and tall/ .../ But to Dave,/ it was a pot/ large enough to store a season's grain harvest,/ to put up salted meat,/ to hold memories." At first glance, our eyes take in the shape of the pot, the texture of its outer surface, the echo of a rounded shape in the sky that resembles a rainbow. But on closer inspection, we see that the pot sits on a shore, surrounded by breaking waves, and a schooner sails on the horizon, ship's hold full of memories of the Middle Passage.

As Dave throws the clay, brought to him in wheelbarrows by others held captive, he demonstrates an enviable level of skill and focus. He works surrounded by Collier's images of Dave's pots--some rendered in watercolors, others with photo collage. The juxtaposition adds texture and contrast. A set of chains and shackles hangs from the studio ceiling in the upper left-hand corner; a phrase pops from the orange collage patchwork that comprises Dave's walls: "friends meeting," a reference to the abolitionist Quakers. The golden dust surrounding the potter's wheel creates a halo around the potter's figure. Collier then segues into a close-up four-panel sequence of Dave molding the pot from a lump of clay ("like a/ magician/ pulling/ a rabbit/ out of/ a hat").

Collier uses snippets of collage that emanate from the pot like feathers to chart the gradual shaping of the jar (its walls "rose up like a robin's/ puffed breast--"). As the jar grows too big for Dave to "wrap his strong arms around it," the collage illustration suggests that Dave embraces the world at large. The branches above him transform into a family tree, each face with eyes closed as if in prayer. Next, as Dave rolls the "long ropes/ of clay between/ his dry, caked palms," captives work the field behind him, in long rows that resemble the ropes of clay. Collier's illustrations show that Dave's craftsmanship transforms his sorrowful history into art that's useful and glorious. Dave invests each vessel with a passion that's evident in the finished pieces (seen in photos in an afterword). His craft grants him freedom.--Jennifer M. Brown


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