Shelf Awareness for Thursday, September 16, 2010

Tor Nightfire: Echo by Thomas Olde Heuvelt

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

Soho Crime: My Annihilation by Fuminori Nakamura, translated by Sam Bett

Candlewick Press: Hello, Little Fish!: A Mirror Book by Lucy Cousins

Merriam-Webster Kids: Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day: 366 Elevating Utterances to Stretch Your Cranium and Tickle Your Humerus by Merriam-Webster

Quotation of the Day

Education of a Bookseller

"When I think about how inexperienced I was when we started, I just shake my head and am grateful that we've made it this far. It has been quite an education, but we've learned from our mistakes and we are having fun as we go, which is the important thing."

--Erica Caldwell, owner of Present Tense, Batavia, N.Y., in a Daily News story about the bookstore's fifth anniversary.

Berkley Books: Sadie on a Plate by Amanda Elliot


Notes: Overhaul Pub Schedule Overhauled; Bookstore Changes

Because of the intense, pre-midterm elections debate about bailouts and other emergency steps taken during the financial crisis two years ago, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt is pushing up the pub date for Overhaul: An Insider's Account of the Obama Administration's Emergency Rescue of the Auto Industry by Steven Rattner.

The book will now appear this coming Monday, September 20, and much publicity for it has been moved up, too. Rattner will appear on CBS Sunday Morning this coming Sunday. On Monday, he will be on NPR's All Things Considered and CNBC's Power Lunch. On Wednesday, he'll be on Morning Joe. A week later, Wednesday, September 29, he is a guest on the Colbert Report. In addition, the Wall Street Journal is in the middle of running a two-part excerpt from Overhaul. Part two runs this Saturday.

Rattner will maintain many of his big events and appearances in 10 cities that were scheduled when the book's pub date was October 14.

A former journalist and a private equity executive, Rattner was head of the Presidential Task Force on the Auto Industry, whose main accomplishments were keeping General Motors and Chrysler alive. GM is planning an IPO later this fall.


Blio, the e-reader software created by K-NFB Reading Technology for which Baker & Taylor is supplying e-content, will be available for download beginning September 28 at For now, Blio works on Windows-based devices; apps for Apple and Android operating systems will follow soon. In the coming months, Blio will roll out worldwide through device manufacturers, mobile carriers and educational institutions, with digital media storefronts. Retailers will be able to sell titles through the e-book reader and have the reader branded with its name.

Among other features, through XPS format, Blio offers e-books that look like a book's printed format. Blio also supports ePub format. Blio operates through text-to-speech technology, which allows readers to use books hands-free.

Blio was first demonstrated last fall at the Frankfurt Book Fair (Shelf Awareness, October 14, 2009).


Bank of America/Merrill Lynch analyst Alan Rifkin yesterday downgraded Barnes & Noble stock to "underperform" from "neutral," citing a range of factors, Barron's Tech Trader Daily blog reported.

Rifkin wrote that B&N will find it "increasingly difficult to complete in the e-reader market, as it becomes more commoditized amid a continued drop in prices." Moreover, B&N is competing with Amazon and Apple, "both of which have well-diversified portfolios of profitable businesses to support digital initiatives and marketing budgets that cannot be matched" by B&N.

Rifkin also cited continuing softness in the retail business, a deteriorating balance sheet and weakening cash flow as well as the bruising proxy fight with Ron Burkle.

In related news, Glass Lewis & Co., which advises shareholders on how to vote their proxies, is recommending B&N shareholders vote for B&N's slate and against Ron Burkle's proposal to change the company's poison pill provisions, according to the AP.

In a statement responding to Glass Lewis, Burkle's Yucaipa Companies said, "We would hope they would reconsider and provide us an opportunity to present them with the facts. We continue to believe that shareholders want a change and a check on Barnes & Noble self-dealing with their chairman."


Fire Petal Books, which sells new and used books for children and young adults, has opened in Centerville, Utah, the Standard-Examiner reported. Michelle Witte owns the 1,400-sq.-ft. store, which among other things is offering writing classes and retreats. A retreat for young writers next week features discussions with Boston literary agent Lauren MacLeod, two nights' lodging at a cabin near Bear Lake, meals, a 10-page critique and individual time with MacLeod.


Bindings Bookstore is opening in Albion, N.Y., and will sell a range of new and used titles, according to the Daily News. Owners Carolyn and Jason Ricker are also offering educational games, puzzle books, cards, journal books and daily planners. He works for Claims Recovery Financial Services and she is a former grade school teacher.

Bindings' grand opening will be in mid-October.

The store is located at 28 West Bank St., Albion, N.Y. 14411; 585-283-4498.


Cornerstone Books, Salem, Mass., is for sale. Owner Gilbert Pili spoke with the Salem News because "We do have a lot of folks who are kind of asking questions... One person basically thought we were moving because of the construction going on, but we're not moving." A&J King Artisan Bakers is involved in the construction as it expands into part of the bookstore.

Pili "has run the store for five years almost long-distance. He has worked in Boston in the financial industry and has not been able to be a full-time, on-site owner," the News wrote.

"I'm not able to get up there as frequently as I would like to be and as I need to be to run the store properly," Pili noted. "We've got a great staff that does a great job, and the store runs well, but I think you need that kind of attention from the owner... to really see everything that needs to be done. I would love to find someone who is much more local and can be there more frequently than I can."


Unique Books, Bayonne, N.J., is scheduled to close in early October. Owner Leonard Janes told the Hudson Reporter that he "doesn't know whether he will continue his lifelong dream to operate a bookstore, but he knows that he won't be operating one in Bayonne.... Economic hard times, high rent, changes in school curriculum, and other factors have made it impossible for him to keep the store open, he said."

"People just stopped taking an interest in reading," Janes observed. "Of 62,000 people in Bayonne, we have had 3,368 regular customers over seven years. Some people came in here later and said they weren't aware that we were here. I asked them where they've been."


For the fourth year in a row, the Women's National Book Association is celebrating October as national reading group month and is organizing programs around the country and supporting events held by traditional and online book clubs and at bookstores and libraries.

WNBA national president Mary Grey James said that the association "proudly endorses this national celebration of reading groups at a time when there is much talk about the 'decline of the book' and 'reading at risk.' "

WNBA's nine chapters are hosting events, including the signature breakfast and booksigning that takes place Saturday, October 9, at the Nashville Public Library Downtown, co-sponsored by the Library and Davis-Kidd Booksellers and part of the Southern Festival of Books.

For more information--including programs hosted by partner N.J. Library Association--go to, and Facebook and Twitter.


Vroman's Bookstore blog featured a photo of "London’s Smallest Bookstore (Stop Me and Buy One), located near the Millennium Bridge."


HarperCollins has reached an agreement with the estate of Agatha Christie to become the author's exclusive worldwide English language publisher, the reported, noting that "Penguin and St. Martin's Press had been publishing Christie in the U.S. Collins has published Agatha Christie since The Murder of Roger Ackroyd was first published in 1926."

Victoria Barnsley, CEO and publisher, HarperCollins U.K. and International, said, "Agatha Christie has now become a global brand, embodying a certain quintessentially British style. In this the 120th year since her birth, in a rapidly changing world, we are keen to publish her work in all formats, everywhere in the globe, to consolidate her position as the world's most popular author."


Boing Boing showcased an enormous library desk made of books at TU Delft architecture bibliotheek.


Book trailers of the day: Dust by Joan Frances Turner (Ace Books). For a taste of the author's take on zombies, check out Brains for Breakfast, Friends' Brains and Parents Who Eat Brains.


Laura Dawson has joined Firebrand Technologies as content chief and head of the content services group. Dawson has been an independent consultant, blogs at LJNDawson and is co-chair of the Book Industry Study Group's identification and rights committees.

She replaces Daniel Lee, who is joining the Bard Graduate Center in New York as managing editor.

Fran Toolan, chief igniter of Firebrand, said that Dawson "understands perfectly our commitment to a unified approach to managing content and metadata, internally and throughout the publishing supply chain."

Firebrand offers a variety of digital services to the industry, including NetGalley and Ecommerce Solutions. The content services group helps publishers manage, store, convert and distribute content.


Mountains & Plains Independent Booksellers Association: We're throwing a bookselling party and you're invited!

New No. 1 at Twelve


Susan Lehman has been named the publisher and editor-in-chief of Twelve, a position formerly held by founder Jonathan Karp, who left in June to become publisher of Simon & Schuster.

Lehman has had a variety of jobs--the New York Times called her "a communications executive, editor and lawyer... a media strategist, writer and editor, immersed in magazines, law, television and newspapers." She was an editor at Riverhead Books in 2003 and 2004.

She is stepping down as director of communications and strategy at the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University School of Law. Among earlier positions, she was senior editor at Talk magazine, New York editor at, a columnist at the New York Observer and co-author of Edward Hayes's Mouthpiece: A Life in--and Sometimes Just Outside--the Law, published by Broadway Books in January.

"Clearly I don't have the institutional publishing experience that many people in town do," Lehman told the Times. "But Twelve is an imprint that should be run by someone who is alive to the pleasure of books, and I'm certainly that." She added that she has "really catholic tastes. I read all over the place. I really like good gardening books. Literary nonfiction is what I would gravitate to first, but I read a lot of fiction, classic and modern."

Grand Central executive v-p and publisher Jamie Raab commented, "I actually said to someone, 'This is the most unusual resume.' I really wanted someone who wasn't predictable." Raab also indicated she sought someone with a large network of friends and contacts "who could cast a wide net when seeking new authors."

As the Grand Central imprint best known for publishing no more than one title a month makes a transition, it will not publish from May through August next year.



Berkley Books: 30 Things I Love about Myself by Radhika Sanghani

Obituary: Sam Herman

Sam Herman, who was a sales rep for 45 years and represented Workman since its foundation, died Tuesday. He had been in ICU for more than a month, suffering from several ailments, including a sepsis infection.

Herman's wife, Adele, joined him as a sales rep after their children were grown. In 2006, the pair won NAIBA's William Helmuth Award. At the time, Carla Cohen of Politics & Prose wrote this about Sam: "We always look forward to his visits with us. He represents Workman with such heartfelt concern that we always want to order as many books as will fit into the store. We adore it when he and Adele visit together, a rare but to-be-sought event. She is as light and humorous as Sam is earnest. What a power couple!" Sam and Adele just celebrated their 49th wedding anniversary.

Yesterday Steven Pace at Workman told NAIBA, "Sam and Adele are family to Workman. Our hearts are just broken. It is a very sad day for us, and we all want to be there for Adele right now."

The Herman family is receiving visitors this evening at 105 Magnolia Place, North Wales, Pa. 19454. The beginning of Yom Kippur will prevent any further visits. A celebration of his life will take place in the coming weeks.


Image of the Day: Vidler on the Roof

"Mr. Vidler on the Roof," atop Vidler's Five and Dime in East Aurora, N.Y., holds a copy of the The Scariest Dream Ever in honor of the Storybook Window Walk, which takes place this Saturday. A wide range of businesses in the historic upstate village are showcasing the children's picture book by Maria T. DiVencenzo (Winterlake Press) with activities including crafts and contests for kids, food, sidewalk chalk murals, character readings, book signings and more. More information here or on The Scariest Dream Ever and Storybook Window Walk pages on Facebook.

G.L.O.W. - Galley Love of the Week
Be the first to have an advance copy!
Four Treasures of the Sky
by Jenny Tinghui Zhang

GLOW: Flatiron Books: Four Treasures of the Sky by Jenny Tinghui ZhangDaiyu, named after a tragic heroine, is the young protagonist of Jenny Tinghui Zhang's stunning debut novel, Four Treasures of the Sky, a work of historical fiction set in the 1880s. Daiyu happily follows a stranger when he promises her a full belly, but instead of feeding her noodles, he smuggles her from China to California, where she begins a dizzying journey that fuses folklore and history with a masterful eloquence. "There's still a strong bias toward thinking of the lone cowboy as the quintessential symbol of the West," says Flatiron senior editor Caroline Bleeke, who quickly fought to preempt the book after reading an early manuscript. "But that elides the experiences of everyone else, particularly women and POC." A book to sit alongside Yaa Gyasi's Homecoming and Anna North's Outlawed, this is a powerful tale of reclamation, spun with soul by a remarkable new talent. --Lauren Puckett

(Flatiron Books, $27.99 hardcover, 9781250811783, April 5, 2022)


Shelf vetted, publisher supported


Media and Movies

Media Heat: Arianna Huffington on Third World America

Tomorrow morning on the Today Show: Jean Chatzky, author of Not Your Parents' Money Book (S&S Books for Young Readers, $12.99, 9781416994725/1416994726).


Tomorrow morning on NPR's Morning Edition: Hooman Majd, author of The Ayatollahs' Democracy: An Iranian Challenge (Norton, $26.95, 9780393072594/0393072592).


Tomorrow night on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno: Arianna Stassinopoulos Huffington, author of Third World America: How Our Politicians Are Abandoning the Middle Class and Betraying the American Dream (Crown, $23.99, 9780307719829/0307719820).


Tomorrow night on the Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson: Tim Gunn, author of Gunn's Golden Rules: Life's Little Lessons for Making It Work (Gallery, $23.99, 9781439176566/1439176566).


This Weekend on Book TV: Tony Blair; Tea Party Kaffeeklatsch

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, September 18

6 p.m. Encore Booknotes. In a segment that first aired in 1998, the late Molly Ivins talked about her book You Got to Dance with Them What Brung You: Politics in the Clinton Years (Vintage, $13, 9780679754879/0679754873).

7 p.m. A debate, "How Atheism Poisons Everything," between Christopher Hitchens, author of Hitch-22: A Memoir (Twelve, $26.99, 9780446540339/0446540331), and David Berlinski, author of The Devil's Delusion: Atheism and its Scientific Pretensions (Basic Books, $15.95, 9780465019373/0465019374). (Re-airs Sunday at 8 a.m. and 10 p.m.)

9 p.m. Tony Blair, author of A Journey: My Political Life (Knopf, $35, 9780307269836/0307269833), discusses his book with former U.S. President Bill Clinton at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia. (Re-airs Sunday at 10 a.m and Monday at 2 a.m.)

10 p.m. After Words. Former Attorney General Michael Mukasey interviews Gabriel Schoenfeld, author of Necessary Secrets: National Security, the Media, and the Rule of Law (Norton, $27.95, 9780393076486/0393076482). Schoenfeld examines the recurring conflict between the First Amendment and national security. (Re-airs Sunday at 9 p.m., Monday at 12 a.m. and 3 a.m.)

Sunday, September 19

12 a.m. Philippa Strum, author of Mendez v. Westminster: School Desegregation and Mexican-American Rights (University Press of Kansas, $16.95, 9780700617197/0700617191), talks about the first school segregation case to be successfully challenged in federal court. (Re-airs Sunday at 9 a.m. and 6 p.m.)

7:30 p.m. A panel discussion about the Tea Party. Panelists include Dick Armey, author of Give Us Liberty: A Tea Party Manifesto (Morrow, $19.99, 9780062015877/0062015877), Kate Zernike, author of Boiling Mad: Inside Tea Party America (Times Books, $25, 9780805093483/0805093486), and Jill Lepore, author of The Whites of Their Eyes: The Tea Party's Revolution and the Battle Over American History (Princeton University Press, $19.95, 9780691150277/0691150273). (Re-airs Monday at 6:30 a.m. and Sunday, September 26, at 4 p.m.)


Books & Authors

Awards: Janet Heidinger Kafka Prize Winner; NBA Medals

Isla Morley has won the Janet Heidinger Kafka Prize, honoring outstanding women in literary fiction, for her debut novel, Come Sunday, published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux and now in paperback from Picador.

The Susan B. Anthony Institute for Gender and Women’s Studies and the Department of English at the University of Rochester, which sponsor the award, called Come Sunday "a spellbinding drama about a woman breaking free of seemingly insurmountable grief when her three-year-old daughter is killed in a car accident and what it takes to revive hope when all seems lost."

Morley was born in South Africa and lives now in Los Angeles, Calif.


The National Book Foundation, presenter of the National Book Awards, will award its 2010 Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters to Tom Wolfe in recognition of his outstanding achievements as "a journalist, author, and one of the founders of the New Journalism literary movement."

The Foundation also will give the Literarian Award for Outstanding Service to the American Literary Community to Joan Ganz Cooney, a founder of Sesame Workshop (formerly known as Children's Television Workshop) and Sesame Street.

Foundation executive director Harold Augenbraum said that "the work of both Wolfe and Cooney led to enormous changes in our view of the world and took established media in new directions."

The National Book Awards will be held Wednesday, November 17, in New York.



Best of the South: Fall Okra Picks

The following are this fall's Okra picks, "great Southern books, fresh off the vine," chosen by Southern Independent Bookseller Alliance members:


A Perfect Love Song by Patti Callahan Henry (Vanguard Press, October).
Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin (Morrow, October)
I Still Dream About You by Fannie Flagg (Random House, November)
Love, Charleston by Beth Webb Hart (Thomas Nelson, September)
My Only Sunshine by Lou Dischler (Hub City, October)
Virals by Kathy Reichs (Razorbill/Penguin, November)
Zora and Me by Victoria Bond (Candlewick Press, October)
The Typist by Michael Knight (Atlantic Monthly Press, August)


Carry the Rock
by Jay Jennings (Rodale, September)
Greek Revival by Patricia Moore-Pastides (University of South Carolina Press, October)
My Reading Life by Pat Conroy (Nan A. Talese, November)
Southern Plate by Christy Jordan (Morrow, October)
They Came to Nashville by Marshall Chapman (Vanderbilt University Press, October)



Shelf Starter: Reading Between the Wines

Reading Between the Wines by Terry Theise (University of California Press, $24.95, 9780520265332/0520265335, September 9, 2010)


Opening lines of a book we want to read:


I owe my life in wine to two people: Hugh Johnson and Rod Stewart.

Rod came first. It was a Faces concert at the late, lamented Fillmore East on Second Avenue in New York City. Somehow I'd scored a front-row seat. Faces concerts in those days were like big drunken ramshackle rehearsals, with lots of boozy bonhomie. Rod would swig from a bottle of Mateus Rosé, and on one occasion he passed it down to some twitching rocker in the front row, who took a greasy hit and passed it along. Then it got to me. First sip of wine. I hated it. Passed the bottle to the next guy. Finally the last hippie handed the bottle back to Rod, who pantomimed being seriously pissed off to find it empty.

Metamessage to me: wine is cool, rock stars drink it. I want to be a rock star. This was crucial information. I had to at least pretend to like wine.


Later, in Germany on a hiatus from college, after trying more wine and discovering Riesling, Theise found Hugh Johnson's massive wine atlas, and read, "...every mouthful a cause for rejoicing and wonder."

Rejoicing and wonder? All right, I can see rejoicing; I mean, after all, there's a moment of rejoicing in the first bite of a perfect cheeseburger if you're alert to it. But wonder? Was there more to this wine thing than I'd imagined? Was wine an object of beauty?--selected by Marilyn Dahl



Book Review

Book Review: Yellow Dirt

Yellow Dirt: An American Story of a Poisoned Land and a People Betrayed by Judy Pasternak (Free Press, $26.00 Hardcover, 9781416594826, September 2010)

Judy Pasternak expands her prize-winning Los Angeles Times series of articles on uranium mining on Navajo land to powerful effect in this important and unsettling investigative report. Presented in historical context and free of polemics, her book is both an indictment of past mining and workplace-safety practices and a grave warning regarding future disruptions of fragile ecologies.

Returned to their original land (reduced in size, of course) after being forcibly relocated in 1864 and 1865, the Navajos had a longtime policy against mining on their reservation. When they reversed that policy around 1940, the tribe earned money from mineral rights leases and, later, negotiated to have first choice to work in mines on their land. To an outside observer of the time, the Navajos had been savvier than most: they were living on their original land, they had retained the mineral rights to that land, and they were earning money from working in the mines. To anyone who knew that those miners were excavating ore that also contained uranium, however, the story was far from rosy.

Since the 1920s, at least in Europe, a connection had been made between radioactivity in mines yielding heavy metals and lung cancer in miners. Whether or not that connection was widely known or credited in U.S. uranium-mining circles, nobody warned the Navajos of the risks or proposed mitigating measures; even within the Public Health Service, chemists who raised concerns were ignored. Reading the sentence, "Though Duncan Holaday had pointedly noted that cancer was certain to hit the miners, he'd also said that it could take ten years or more to show up," tells us how little those appointed as guardians of the Navajos did to protect their interests.

Disturbing questions about who knew what when and who was accountable proliferate throughout Pasternak's investigation. Bureaucratic buck-passing was standard operating procedure; budget constraints were repeatedly invoked to justify taking no action. In the end, the Navajos were left hanging out there on their own: they had no idea what they had been exposed to and what was coming; most shamefully, nobody told them about the dangers lurking in the slag piles left behind when mandated clean-up efforts were not completed. Their land had been rendered an open-air dump for radioactive waste. Cancer incidence soared.

Pasternak's meticulous reporting on mining operations, the urgency to mine more faster because of national security issues, the health studies carried out on tribal members (without explaining to them the reasons or implications) and the ecological disaster wreaked on Navajo land is compelling as it is disturbing. All the more telling is that it was not until October 2007 that Congressman Henry Waxman held hearings on the issue at which he declared, "It is hard to review this record and not feel ashamed."--John McFarland

Shelf Talker: An important and unsettling study that is both an indictment of past mining and workplace-safety practices and a grave warning for future disruptions of fragile ecologies.


The Bestsellers

Top-Selling Titles Last Week in Chicagoland

The following were the bestselling books at independent bookstores in and around Chicago during the week ended Sunday, September 12:

Hardcover Fiction

1. Freedom by Jonathan Franzen
2. The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest by Stieg Larsson
3. Room by Emma Donoghue
4. Super Sad True Love Story by Gary Shteyngart
5. Body Work by Sara Paretsky

Hardcover Nonfiction

1. Let's Take the Long Way Home by Gail Caldwell
2. Packing for Mars: the Curious Life of Science in the Void by Mary Roach
3. Grand Design by Stephen Hawking
4. Third World America by Arianna Huffington
5. A Journey by Tony Blair

Paperback Fiction

1. Await Your Reply by Dan Chaon
2. Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese
3. The Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson
4. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
5. The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver

Paperback Nonfiction

1. Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
2. Open by Andre Agassi
3. Zeitoun by Dave Eggers
4. The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson
5. Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer


1. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
2. Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
3. My Mommy Hung the Moon by Jamie Lee Curtis
4. The 39 Clues by Margaret Haddix
5. City Dog, Country Frog by Mo Willems

Reporting bookstores: Anderson's, Naperville and Downers Grove; Read Between the Lynes, Woodstock; the Book Table, Oak Park; the Book Cellar, Lincoln Square; Lake Forest Books, Lake Forest; the Bookstall at Chestnut Court, Winnetka; and 57th St. Books; Seminary Co-op; Women and Children First, Chicago.

[Many thanks to the booksllers and Carl Lennertz!]

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