Shelf Awareness for Friday, October 22, 2010

Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers: Roxy by Neal Shusterman and Jarrod Shusterman

Shadow Mountain: Missing Okalee by Laura Ojeda Melchor

Sharjah Publishing City Free Zone: Start your entrepreneurial journey with affordable packages, starting from $1,566

Candlewick Press: Mi Casa Is My Home by Laurenne Sala, illustrated by Zara González Hoang

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

Big Picture Press: Art of Protest: Creating, Discovering, and Activating Art for Your Revolution by De Nichols

Callaway Arts & Entertainment: The Beatles: Get Back by The Beatles, photographed by Linda McCartney

St. Martin's Press: The Christie Affair by Nina De Gramont


Image of the Day: Happy 75th, Milligan News!

Milligan News Company, San Jose, Calif., marked its 75th anniversary earlier this month with an open house for customers and their families at its warehouse/store. Pat Milligan, son of the founders, continues to be active in the business. Milligan News sold its magazine distribution operations to the News Group in 2005 to concentrate on the educational book business. At the open house, two authors signed books: Francisco Jimenez, author of Reaching Out, the sequel to Breaking Through and The Circuit, and Gennifer Choldenko, author of Al Capone Does My Shirts and Al Capone Shines My Shoes.



Berkley Books: Good Rich People by Eliza Jane Brazier

Notes: B&N's Court Loss; More E-Readers for Walmart

Barnes & Noble lost its bid to dismiss an investor lawsuit filed during August 2009 in Delaware Chancery Court by the Louisiana Municipal Police Employees Retirement System, which claimed the $596 million payment by B&N for Barnes & Noble College Booksellers--formerly separate companies--was "well beyond" a fair price, and that some board members were conflicted by long-term friendships with B&N chairman Leonard Riggio, who also owned B&N College and allegedly "used his influence" to facilitate the buyout, Reuters reported.

Judge Leo Strine Jr. said the process "gives off a very fishy smell."


Walmart has raised the e-reader marketplace competition stakes: it will sell Kobo's digital book readers in 2,500 U.S. stores beginning next week. Kobo CEO Michael Serbinis said he is "thrilled to see the Kobo Wireless eReader receiving mass distribution. This partnership further validates our promise and vision of making eReading available to everyone."

In addition, Walmart will start selling Barnes & Noble's Nook e-reading devices as early as this Sunday, October 24.  


Bookselling This Week interviewed several indie booksellers who discussed "how a café can benefit the entire bookstore, its effect on the bottom line, and whether--after tallying all the added responsibilities and costs--the booksellers still think adding a café was a good idea."

"It has dramatically broadened our local customer base, and has brought in tourists who come in for coffee, but stay to buy a book,” said Mary Wolf of Collected Works Bookstore & Coffeehouse, Santa Fe, N.M.

Sarah Bagby, owner of Watermark Books & Café, Wichita, Kan., said, "The café is an integral part of our business plan. We continually cross market. Someone called the store the real city hall. The café brings in hundreds of people, and they buy books and coffee.” Bagby also noted, however, "that adding a café is hard; the work load is very different than running a bookstore; and there are lots of ways to succeed... and fail. I could go on with many, many reasons why someone might not want to add a café, but I would not go back."

"We try to remember that the coffee shop’s primary purpose is to add value to the bookstore to increase the overall revenue, even on the days when it doesn’t turn a profit,” Wolf added.


Vero Beach Book Center, Vero Beach, Fla., celebrates its 35th anniversary this year, and Chad Leonard, whose parents, Tom and Linda, opened the shop in 1975 "with a staff of avid readers, hoping to cater to the residents of the seaside city," told Bookselling This Week "a combination of self-publicity and a full schedule of events has been key to keeping customers coming back."

"Word of mouth is always the best," he said, "and we've done a lot with our website recently, which keeps people informed, especially people outside of the area. Our e-mail list is definitely one of our best tools."


The It Gets Better Project, a viral video campaign intended to speak directly to gay youths who are subjected to bullying and homophobia, will be adapted as a book and published by Dutton. The New York Times reported that the book, a "collection of essays from celebrities and ordinary people who want to share their stories," is scheduled for publication next March. Dan Savage, who started the project, said he will contribute proceeds from the book to organizations supporting gay youth.


Former President George W. Bush talks about his upcoming book, Decision Points, in this video from Random House. Crown will publish the book November 9.


Obituary note: Author and screenwriter Robert Katz, who "incurred the wrath of the Vatican by accusing Pope Pius XII of failing to act to stave off a Nazi massacre of Italians in 1944," has died, the New York Times reported. He was 77.


NPR featured "Three Grisly Tales of Love And Death in Tinseltown," including The Day of the Locust by Nathanael West, The Loved One by Evelyn Waugh and The Exquisite Corpse: Surrealism and the Black Dahlia Murder by Mark Nelson and Sarah Hudson Bayliss.  


"Classic Kids Book Covers Then and Now" were showcased by Flavorwire, which was "thinking about some of our favorite childhood books’ recent cover design transformations."


Book trailer of the day: Anarchy Evolution: Faith, Science, and Bad Religion in a World Without God by Greg Graffin and Steve Olson (It Books). Graffin is lead singer of punk band Bad Religion.


Sterling will launch a new YA imprint called Splinter with the three-book Tiger Saga by Colleen Houck. The first title, Tiger’s Curse, will be published  January 11, 2011, in both hardcover and $9.99 e-book editions. The story features American 17-year-old Kelsey Hayes, who discovers an Indian prince trapped in the form of a white tiger, and only she can free him.

Sterling plans a 250,000-copy printing for Tiger’s Curse, which Houck self-published and which rose to the top spot on the Kindle children’s bestseller list for seven weeks. The other titles in the series will be Tiger’s Quest (June 1, 2011), and Tiger’s Voyage (November 1, 2011).

Splinter will kick off with a $250,000 Tiger marketing campaign with digital teaser chapters, book trailers, its parent company’s "More in Store" features at Barnes & Noble, and a dedicated interactive website with quizzes, music playlists, sweepstakes and exclusive "behind the scenes" material. Embedded codes on the books will permit anyone with a smartphone to access web-only features. The series has also been optioned for feature film development.


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

Amazon: Sales, Income Rise; Wall Street Still Unnerved

In the quarter ended September 30, net sales at rose 39%, to $7.56 billion, and net income rose 16%, to $231 million.

Results were slightly better than most analysts' predictions, but Amazon stock dropped 3.9% to $158.50 in after-hours trading. The Wall Street Journal speculated that two things might have investors worried: Amazon's prediction that operating income this quarter will be in a range of $360 million, or down 24%, to $560 million, up 18%, compared to the same period a year ago; and Amazon's operating expenses on such things as marketing and distribution rose 40% during the past quarter.

According to the AP, chief financial officer Tom Szkutak said in a conference call that costs rose because of 13 distribution centers Amazon has opened or will open this year. "The company's marketing spending also jumped, climbing 62% to $241 million," the AP noted. "Amazon, which generally focuses on advertising online, has been branching out by running commercials for the Kindle."

Among the facts that the company mentioned in its release on third-quarter results:

  • The new generation Kindle devices are the fastest-selling Kindles of all time and the bestselling products on and
  • In the U.S., there are more than 720,000 titles available for the Kindle. More than 590,000 of the books retail for $9.99 or less. Some 1.8 million titles that are out of copyright and published before 1923 are also available for Kindles.
  • North American sales rose 45%, to $4.13 billion. International sales rose 32%, to $3.43 billion.
  • Global sales of media--mainly books, music and movies--grew 14%, to $3.35 billion, much less than the growth rate of global electronics and other general merchandise, which climbed 68%, to $3.97 billion.
  • The company predicted net sales in the last three months of the year will rise between 26% and 40%-- $12 billion to $13.3 billion.



Berkley Books: Sadie on a Plate by Amanda Elliot

Powell’s Wins the Hunger Games

That's right. Suzanne Collins, author of the Hunger Games trilogy, is headed to Portland, Ore. Scholastic pronounced Powell's Books the winner of a store visit from the bestselling author based upon its in-store display contest to celebrate the publication of Mockingjay, the final book in the trilogy, which was released in August.

The centerpiece of the display was a 17-foot cornucopia that "really stood out," according to Rachel Coun, executive director of hardcover marketing, Scholastic Trade. Collins will visit Powell's main "City of Books" West Burnside location in Portland on Sunday, November 7.


Media and Movies

Media Heat: Hands on the Freedom Plow

This morning on the Today Show: Keith Richards, author of Life (Little, Brown, $29.99, 9780316034388/031603438X). The Rolling Stone also will appear on CBS Sunday Morning.


Saturday on C-Span2's Book TV at 1 p.m.: A panel discussion hosted by Busboys & Poets, Washington, D.C., featuring Judy Richardson, Betty Robinson and Jean Smith Young, co-editors of Hands on the Freedom Plow: Personal Accounts By Women In SNCC (University of Illinois Press, $34.95, 9780252035579/0252035577). (Re-airs Sunday at 8:30 a.m.)


On CBS Sunday Morning: David Eisenhower, author of Going Home to Glory: A Memoir of Life with Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1961-1969 (Simon & Schuster, $28, 9781439190906/1439190909).


On Sunday on NPR's Weekend Edition: Gary Golio and Javaka Steptoe, author and illustrator respectively of Jimi: Sounds Like a Rainbow: A Story of the Young Jimi Hendrix (Clarion/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $16.99, 9780618852796/0618852794).



Television: Too Big to Fail

Bill Pullman and Matthew Modine have been added to the cast of HBO's Too Big to Fail, based on Andrew Ross Sorkin's book Too Big to Fail: The Inside Story of How Wall Street and Washington Fought to Save the Financial System--and Themselves. reported that Pullman will play Jamie Dimon, chairman and CEO of J.P. Morgan Chase, while Modine will play John Thain, former chairman and CEO of Merrill Lynch. They join a "star studded ensemble" on the project (Shelf Awareness, October 13, 2010).


Movies: A Dog's Purpose

Dreamworks has acquired the film rights to A Dog's Purpose by W. Bruce Cameron and plans to turn it into a live-action movie. "I saw this as a movie virtually from the time the idea showed up whole cloth in my head," said Cameron, who hopes for "an uplifting movie, a movie about joy and purpose and redemption," USA Today wrote.


Books & Authors

Awards: Criticos Prize

David Malouf's Ransom won the Criticos Prize, awarded to the author of an original work in English inspired by Greece or Hellenic culture. Bookseller & Publisher reported that this is the first novel--and Malouf the first Australian author--to win the award. He was honored in Athens recently.

The Criticos shortlist included Logicomix by Apostolos K. Dixades and Christos Papadimitriou, Knossos and the Prophets of Modernism by Cathy Gere, Cavafy: Collected Poems, translated by Daniel Mendelsohn, and A Short Border Handbook by Gazmend Kapallani.


Shelf Starter: Missing You, Metropolis

Missing You, Metropolis by Gary Jackson (Graywolf Press, $15 trade paper, 9781555975722/1555975720, October 26, 2010)

A poem from a collection we really like. Jackson, winner of the 2009 Cave Canem Poetry Prize, writes about comic book worlds, racial isolation, Kansas--he's playful, serious, sophisticated. It's difficult to choose just one poem:


"Nightcrawler Buys a Woman a Drink"


You're staring, jaw-dropped at my tail. And yes,

it's a good twenty inches long and moves

like a serpent in heat. Touch it. I'm no devil, honey,

I don't got no souls, just the smoothest, bluest fur

you've ever seen. Don't mind my buddy here, he looks angry

all the time, and he's got eyes for the bottle of Jameson

and the short-haired blonde playing pool near the gorillas.

What to we do? Over a few drinks I could tell you about the time

we traveled to the blue side of the moon or when we fought

the Juggernaut right here in this bar. Yeah, the fangs are real.

Rub your finger over them, touch the deviled tongue.

Caress my fur with your skin, let me keep your body warm

in the dark. It's your night, honey. Show me a woman not afraid

of a mutant man. Let me mix into your bloodline.

--Selected by Marilyn Dahl


Book Brahmin: Erin Blakemore

Erin M. Blakemore learned to drool over Darcy and cry over Little Women growing up in suburban San Diego, Calif. These days, her inner heroine loves roller derby, running her own business and hiking in her adopted hometown of Boulder, Colo. The Heroine's Bookshelf: Life Lessons, from Jane Austen to Laura Ingalls Wilder (Harper, October 19, 2010) is her first book.


On your nightstand now:

Kristin Lavransdatter by Sigrid Undset. One of those "should-reads" that's turned into the book I push on others.

Favorite book when you were a child:

The entire Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder. I forced my mother to sew me period costumes and pressed my dog into service as an ox for my makeshift covered wagon.

Your top five authors:

In order of their appearance in my life: Charlotte Bronte, whom I read when I was far too small and whose steady words have far more to offer an adult me; Anne Frank, whose literary feats become more stunning over time; Margaret Mitchell, who put a flapper in hoop skirts; Wolfgang Borchert, a hellraiser with a hoarse voice; and Dorothy Parker, who went there.

Book you've faked reading:

To the Lighthouse. Could not deal.

Book you're an evangelist for:

Diana Vreeland's wild and completely unbelievable autobiography, D.V.

Book you've bought for the cover:

A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick. The cover's a pretty apt metaphor for the book, I'd say... pretty on the outside, sordid and lots of fun within.

Book that changed your life:

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. Impossible to quantify except by gasps of recognition as I rediscover it for the thousandth time.

Favorite line from a book:

 "They could not be forgotten, she thought, because now is now. It can never be a long time ago." --Laura Ingalls Wilder, Little House in the Big Woods

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

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith. I'm not sure any book has a clearer view of what it means to grow up.



Deeper Understanding

Robert Gray: Hearing Voices About Indie Publishing

Asking a complex, perhaps unanswerable question (as I did last week with "What is an independent publisher now?") was admittedly a mischievous attempt to elicit observations rather than conclusions. It wasn't even scientific; more like asking, "What is a planet now?" (I'm looking at you, Pluto). But several brave souls accepted the challenge anyway and we'll be hearing their voices for the next few weeks.

Florrie Kichler, owner of Patria Press and president of the Independent Book Publishers Association, offered a straightforward answer: "What sets an independent publisher apart is his/her commitment to publishing as a business. Along with that comes the dedication to publishing excellence, which includes creating and delivering to the reader professionally designed and edited products--whether one or thousands of titles; whether via POD, offset or digital; whether on an e-reader, iPad or smartphone.

"The beauty of independent publishing is that in the end, size really doesn't matter--nor does the technology used to produce the content nor does who the author is. What matters is the independent publisher's focus on his or her publishing business--that blend of sales, marketing, editorial, production and promotion that serves as the launching pad for publishing success."

After a recent MPIBA trade show panel--"Independent Publishers & Independent Booksellers, Can We Talk?"--that generated some heated conversation, Libby Cowles, community relations manager at Maria's Bookshop, Durango, Colo., came away thinking about self-published books in particular.

"As the gal who handles any and all requests from authors here at Maria's, I am very aware of the increase in requests to put self-published books on our shelves," said Libby, who also posted about this issue recently on the bookshop's blog. "Generally, we have carried local authors' work on a consignment basis when it's not available through distributors; this support of local authors feels like an important service to our community. However, as a store with limited shelf space, I'm beginning to wonder how we can say yes to each and every local, self-published author who comes in the door?"
Cowles cited as "an interesting idea" and one that might help readers and bookstores "sift through independently published books," but she still wonders "how do 'legitimate' small presses play into this? I've always thought of 'independent publishers' as small presses--you know, not the 'big guys' in New York. But the game has changed so much that now any author who has a box of books and a website can call him- or herself an 'independent publisher'--or, actually, you don't even need the box of books anymore, since we can POD. So... does creating a company name and a website make you a publisher? And if so, can that be okay somehow? I think there's a feeling out there that it somehow delegitimizes 'real' publishers. Doesn't it also increase our access to a variety of voices, opinions and ideas? How can we, as indie booksellers, maintain and protect our core value of getting the unheard-of gem into readers' hands, offering an alternative to the big box sanctioned bestsellers, without getting overwhelmed by the numbers of books out there?"
More good questions.

Fred Ramey, co-publisher of Unbridled Books, called the term "professionalism," as I had used it last week to define legitimate independent publishers, "problematic":

"When used by established publishers in the skirmish between self-publishing and independent publishing, I think the word may imply a sad defensiveness. (The source of that sadness, I think, is that--as you point out--these battles are occurring when we are all trying to figure out whether we can, or will be allowed to, fit within a new publishing world.) I so much appreciate the courageous publishers who enter the fray without worrying that worry--publishers like Two Dollar Radio and Archipelago and OR Books, and many independents established long ago--so much that I would rather discuss content. I appreciate these efforts as I admire new local journals (like Denver's Il-literate) and the very concept of samizdat novels--all efforts to bring writing to readers separate from the quick murky stream of corporate publishing, reviewing and bookselling. And as I've said stubbornly for a couple of years, I believe that soon it will matter again what one publishes more than how one publishes it. Quality will out.
"So 'professionalism' seems to me a potentially defensive term. It's as though we use the quality of the artifact bearing our colophon as an assertion that we matter. I'm tremendously proud of the professionalism with which the extraordinary people at Unbridled address the world of publishing--from the sometimes perfect beauty of the design and production, to the brilliance of the marketing, the clear structuring of the sales efforts, and the respectfulness with which we try to address the rest of Bookworld. I'm proud of the people who work with me, proud to work with them. I believe them all to be professional. And I believe our efforts in the realm of American fiction over these past six years have been significant. But the professional aspects of the collective effort at Unbridled Books are not the source of whatever significance we may have."

We'll hear more from Fred, as well as other voices in the book trade, next week. Halloween is approaching, so maybe exploring this issue by hearing voices is not such a bad way to celebrate during scary times.--Robert Gray (column archives available at Fresh Eyes Now)


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