Shelf Awareness for Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Atlantic Monthly Press: Wilmington's Lie: The Murderous Coup of 1898 and the Rise of White Supremacy by David Zucchino

Flatiron Books: American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins

Canongate Books: The Art of Dying by Ambrose Parry and The Way of All Flesh by Ambrose Parry

Sfi Readerlink Dist: Sesame Street: The Monster at the End of This Book: An Interactive Adventure by Jon Stone, adapted by Autumn B Heath

Scribner Book Company: Follow Me to Ground by Sue Rainsford

Minotaur Books: The Woman in the Mirror by Rebecca James

Quotation of the Day

'First Line Flash Mobs'

"So, let’s create a few hundred Flash Mobs all over the country with people spontaneously reciting opening lines to their favorite books in a continual wave across the center of America’s shopping malls. We can even put them to music and include synchronized moves. Synchronization managed to make swimming seem more entertaining and people can do this without getting wet or nose plugs.

"We’ll call them First Line Flash Mobs and they can be all thriller with everyone in trench coats or all romance and participants can wear feather boas or tween novels with a crowd in prom attire. The first lines don’t have to come from classics or even bestsellers but from favorites. Bookstores can hand out coupons or even free books and libraries can sign up people for cards. It’s an idea with legs that might lead to more great adventures both in our imagination and the local food courts."

--Columnist Martha Randolph Carr in the New Bern, N.C. Sun Journal.


Berkley Books: Master Class by Christina Dalcher


'Keeping the Passion for Books on the Same Side'

Ashley Gordon of Mockingbird Publishing, Fairhope, Ala., writes in response to the letter yesterday from Lucy Kogler:

I am not one to normally comment publicly, considering there is quite enough opinion floating around the ether that mine really isn't needed, but when a friend is lambasted, and particularly about an issue that I am currently struggling with, I feel the need to speak up.

Brian O'Leary, first of all, is an intelligent and diligent advocate for the publishing community and has helped countless publishers find ways to do what they do better. He would never advocate for the homogeneity of literature. He works often for publishers of nonfiction and technical content, and in that light, his comments about the book being a product and using data gleaned from e-book readers about their owners' reading habits makes perfect sense. Many books published are products meant to impart information, to be used, and how successfully they accomplish that mission would be valuable for the publisher and ultimately valuable for the reader if it were put to good use.

However, these comments also have merit in regard to more creative works. For example, as a small, indie publisher, I'd love to know how much of the story collection I publish next year is read. Do readers go straight through or pick and choose over time? That would help me decide how to use e-books and free story giveaways as part of my marketing. Most, if not all, of us in publishing recognize that books are important creative endeavors and will continue to select our books with our hearts as often as our heads. It's why we are in this business, because we certainly aren't here for the big pay checks. But books are definitely a product, and we as an industry must figure out how to reconcile that concept with the one we cherish, that we are here for a higher artistic and cultural purpose, or we risk not being here for the very readers we want to engage.

And finally, as an industry I think we should be careful to distinguishing among the many types of books that we publish. It's a widely divergent community and we should be careful about any broad generalizations that all books and publishers must follow the same principles.

I'm encouraged by Lucy Kogler's passion for books and bookselling. I would like to find a way for all of us with that passion to be on the same side.


Scribner Book Company: Follow Me to Ground by Sue Rainsford


Image of the Day: Eat Sleep Read & Be Merry

Booksellers at Red Fox Books, Glen Falls, N.Y., modified IndieBound Eat, Sleep, Read posters, adding a "holiday" word to each, and featured them in the store's eight windows, Red Fox's main decorations for the season. Co-owner Susan Fox reported "a lot of good feedback." Here's our merry favorite.

KidsBuzz for the Week of 10.21.19

Notes: Online Holiday Spending Spree; Tokyopop Shop

Get out your virtual wallets. TechCrunch reported that $27.46 billion has been spent online this holiday season, a 12% percent increase over the same period last year, according to comScore, which also noted that for the week ending December 17, online spending reached $5.5 billion, an increase of 14%.

TechCrunch cited the influence of free shipping offered by more retailers as a primary factor, since "each of the past five weeks has seen free shipping on at least half of transactions, while that benchmark was reached only once during the 2009 season. For the five-day week ending with Free Shipping Day, the percentage of transactions with free shipping reached 52.7%, up 12% from last year." Purchases of handheld devices and laptop computers are driving this sales growth, comScore reported, with consumer electronics second and books/magazines third.

For bricks and mortar retailers, promotions and steep discounting were mentioned by the Wall Street Journal as the biggest contributors to "packed malls and long checkout lines... The last 10 days before Christmas account for 34% of overall holiday sales, says ShopperTrak, which expects holiday sales to rise 4% this year after declining the prior two."

"This past weekend was a great contributor, with steady traffic on both Saturday and Sunday," said ShopperTrak's Bill Martin.


Tokyopop, Baker & Taylor (and its TextStream POD service) and MashON have jointly launched the new Tokyopop Shop at The shop features manga merchandise and thousands of manga titles, including many that were previously out of print, such as Arm of Kannon, Gorgeous Carat and Liling-Po.

"We initially set out to build the Tokyopop Shop in order to provide our fans with a high-quality, price-competitive way to purchase our books online," Stu Levy, CEO and founder of Tokyopop, said. "It's an incredible bonus that we have partners who also have made it possible for us to offer print-to-order books and exclusive merchandise. We've always wanted to offer these features to our fanbase and now the technology is here for it."


You may think it's a little early in the game for an e-reader retrospective, but Fast Company has countered your skepticism with Journey of the E-Book, which illustrates how the "dream of reading books electronically dates back decades, and... the many forms that electronic reading might take are still gleams in a few visionary designers' eyes."


At its "What the Dickens?" event last weekend, Housing Works Bookstore Café in New York City hosted a three-hour rendition of A Christmas Carol with about 30 volunteer readers, including authors Mary Gaitskill and Jonathan Ames.

The Wall Street Journal reported that the event featured "a full house of hipsters and well-heeled holiday shoppers who ordered cocoa and red wine from baristas with Santa hats, and then settled in against their puffy coats for some good, old fashioned, infantilized storytelling."

Housing Works board member Alison Brower "welcomed the crowd, lifting a red bucket to encourage the audience to 'not be Scroogey' and give to the nonprofit, which serves homeless New Yorkers with HIV and AIDS," the Journal noted.


This week, Algonquin's Booksellers Rock! series focused on Clinton Book Shop, Clinton N.J.

"Clinton is a small community and knowing the names and faces of so many of our customers is one of the greatest joys for our staff," said owner Rob Dougherty. "Of course, our four-legged canine customers are favorites and they love the treats that we keep for them behind the counter. On occasion, I am even the recipient of a bottle of some very fine vodka."

If he weren't a bookseller, Dougherty "would return to working with those in need.  My graduate degree is in Human Services. Although at one time I thought I could never go into politics because of the skeletons in my closet, I may rethink that given the political climate these days. I have inhaled but I’ve never dabbled in witchcraft. Somewhere out there is a video of me mooning a motorcade (I’m the one the quarters were bouncing from). I don’t think these offenses would keep me from office."


The National Yiddish Book Center, Amherst, Mass., closed its bookstore and laid off four people this month in a move that reflects a strategic change in operations, according to the center's president, Aaron Lansky, who told the Daily Hampshire Gazette that the nonprofit "is shifting its emphasis from saving and restoring ancient Yiddish texts to educating people about those books." He called the bookstore unprofitable, and noted the organization is attempting to reallocate resources, shifting funding from administrative positions to educational ones.

"For 28 years we spent a lot of our energy on the sheer act of rescuing books. We've now collected over a million volumes and more important we have posted most of those titles online," Lansky observed. "The goal has not changed, but the tasks have become very different and we had to adjust to accommodate."

Two employees--v-p Nancy Sherman and program director Nora Gerard--are resigning. The positions cut include Lansky's personal assistant, a major gifts officer, the bookstore manager and a designer at the organization's magazine, Pakn Treger. Lansky said the center is looking to hire a Yiddish instructor, academic director and communications director.


Old Books on Front Street, Wilmington, N.C., which opened December 5, "just got so much cooler" with the debut of Sugar on Front St., an in-house bakery/coffee shop that "was not quite ready for prime time when Old Books had its grand opening," the Star News reported. Sugar on Front St. is owned by baker Samantha Smith, "who you might know from her work at Wilmington’s Great Harvest Bread Company."


"Why did my parents let me read It as a child and then take me to the circus?" Stephen King answered readers' questions about his new book Full Dark, No Stars, and more in an interview on Entertainment Weekly's Shelf Life blog.  


Getting rich for Christmas. Forbes featured its choices for best books on investing, observing that the most valuable "are those whose authors came up with a thesis about the markets early and then kept refining and updating their ideas during the incredible expansion of financial markets that has occurred since 1975."


Here's an alternative get rich scheme: author Cathal Morrow "plans to float himself on the London Stock Exchange. Having previously wangled sponsorship from a private equity company to fund a year without lying--he's writing up his exploits as the book Yes We Kant--Morrow is hopeful that patrons looking for a more unusual investment will back this latest project, Me Me Me Plc.," the Guardian reported.

"Rather than one company owning part of the intellectual property of a project, a lot of people will own a smaller part of me," said Morrow, who is offering a total of 30,000 shares in himself at £10 apiece. Since he can't legally sell the shares, investors are actually buying a signed photo of the author, with "free" shares tossed in as a bonus.

"I'm floating the value of me, that is the intellectual property of the story of my flotation on the stock exchange," he added. "If it goes viral, if we get book deals, and a big movie studio wades in with a big chunk of cash, then that could be worth a considerable amount. The more 'famous' I become, the greater the value of me."


The first installment of Flavorwire's new series, "where we sneak a look at the hypothetical iPods of some of literature’s most interesting characters," considers Holden Caulfield, who "would surely think pop music is completely phony, and probably wouldn’t be interested in anything anyone he knew liked, but he’s an asocial, introspective depressive, so we’re pretty sure he’d get a kick out of some of the same songs that got us through our teenage years--if he’d like anything at all, that is."


Gothamist featured photographs of Mark Twain's 70th birthday dinner at Delmonico's restaurant in New York City. The party was held December 5, 1905, with a guest list that included Mrs. Woodrow Wilson and Dorothy Canfield.


"First, poetry disappeared from the subway. Now prose is on the way out, too." The end of an era underground appears to be at hand, as "Train of Thought, the program that placed literary quotations from the likes of Kafka and Schopenhauer in the unlikely locale of a packed New York City subway car, is being removed, two years after it assumed the mantle of subterranean high culture from Poetry in Motion. In its stead is a new promotional campaign by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority that is intended to highlight recent improvements to the transit system. A spokesman for the authority said there was not enough space for both," the New York Times reported.


Earlier this fall, St. Martin’s Press launched, a site designed for authors to comment on military news, history, and relevant fiction. The goal for the website is "to foster a community that will engage the audience and provide a location rich in rational discourse and commentary, and find creative ways to support the military community."


Book trailer of the day: The Revenge of the Radioactive Lady by Elizabeth Stuckey-French (Doubleday), which will be published in early February.


G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers: The Best of Iggy by Annie Barrows, illustrated by Sam Ricks

Nashville Group Considers How to Replace Davis-Kidd

Mary Grey James, national president of the Women's National Book Association, reports on a meeting last night hosted by the Nashville Public Library to "ascertain what the community needs to do to replace the closing of the last major independent bookstore in Nashville," the Davis-Kidd Booksellers location in the Mall at Green Hills.

"More than 30 people attended, among them library director Donna Nicely, Tari Hughes, executive director of the Nashville Public Library Foundation, as well as authors Adam Ross (Mr. Peanut), Alice Randall (Wind Done Gone) and John Edgerton (Speak Now Against the Day).

"The first part of the meeting, led by Beth Alexander, president of the Nashville Public Library Foundation Board, was an itemization by those present of what is lost by not having an independent bookstore presence in a city the size of Nashville. Covering a blackboard, the list ranged from a forum for author appearances to community philanthropy and the 'randomness of discovering' books not carried by chains or those books not receiving marketing dollars from publishers.

"Several constructive ideas were introduced, including the possibility of forming a coop/community group to start a store from scratch (Greenlight Books in Brooklyn was the example). All agreed that, in spite of the library's partnership, 'retail is the vital blood' of a successful book community presence and that a relevant location, which speaks to today's evolving market, is essential. A followup meeting after the holidays is planned to address the concrete steps that need to be taken.

"The most poignant moment of the evening came at the end when Ms. Alexander asked Karen Davis for her thoughts. She shared that, even though she and Thelma Kidd sold the store to Joseph-Beth Booksellers years ago, she and Thelma kept a vested interest in that which bore their names. In that spirit, the two women have established the Davis-Kidd Booksellers Fund of the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee for the purpose of creating 'charitable resources available to support nonprofit programs in Middle Tennessee dedicated to instilling a love of learning and reading in our community.' To honor Davis-Kidd's memory and help its legacy live on (perhaps in an innovative, new venue), donations can be made online at or by mail to: The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee/Davis-Kidd Booksellers Fund, P.O. Box 440225, Nashville, Tenn. 37244."


G.P. Putnam's Sons: Firewatching by Russ Thomas

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Stephen Sondheim on KCRW's Bookworm

Tomorrow morning on the Today Show: Molly O'Neill, author of One Big Table (Simon & Schuster, $50, 9780743232708/0743232704).


Tomorrow on Fox & Friends: Christopher Andersen, author of William and Kate: The Love Story (Gallery, $26, 9781451621457/1451621450).


Tomorrow on NPR's Diane Rehm Show: readers review How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss (Random House, $15, 9780394800790/0394800796).


Tomorrow night in a repeat on the Colbert Report: Patti Smith, author of Just Kids (Ecco, $16, 9780060936228/0060936223).


Thursday on KCRW's Bookworm: Stephen Sondheim, author of Finishing the Hat: Collected Lyrics (1954-1981) with Attendant Comments, Principles, Heresies, Grudges, Whines and Anecdotes (Knopf, $39.95, 9780679439073/0679439072). As the show put it: "The great Stephen Sondheim has at last produced a collection of lyrics from the first half of his career along with insights into the art of song writing for the theater. In this conversation, he explains why a song that may be 'perfect' can be wrong for its dramatic moment in a show. This famous perfectionist reveals how much can go wrong." Sondheim will also be in a repeat on the Colbert Report Thursday.


Thursday on Tavis Smiley: Rebecca Skloot, author of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks (Crown, $26, 9781400052172/1400052173).

Also on Tavis Smiley: Isabel Wilkerson, author of The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration (Random House, $30, 9780679444329/0679444327).


Thursday on a repeat of NPR's Diane Rehm Show: Roger Rosenblatt, author of Making Toast (Ecco, $21.99, 9780061825934/006182593X).


Thursday night in a repeat on the Daily Show: Gordon Brown, author of Beyond the Crash: Overcoming the First Crisis of Globalization (Free Press, $26, 9781451624052/1451624050).


Friday on a repeat of NPR's Diane Rehm Show: Antonia Fraser, author of Must You Go?: My Life with Harold Pinter (Nan A. Talese, $28.95, 9780385532501/0385532504).


Saturday on NPR's Weekend All Things Considered: Noah Charney, author of Stealing the Mystic Lamb: The True Story of the World's Most Coveted Masterpiece (PublicAffairs, $27.95, 9781586488000/1586488007).


Grove Press, Black Cat: Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo

Television: Ticket Home & The Good Heart

Ridini Entertainment has optioned the rights to a pair of novels by James Michael Pratt: Ticket Home and The Good Heart. Variety reported that the same company produced another of Pratt's works, The Lost Valentine, in association with Hallmark Hall of Fame Productions, Paulist Productions and Atchity Entertainment International. Valentine, starring Jennifer Love Hewitt and Betty White, will air January 30 on CBS.

"I find James' novels refreshing, involving and, in these trying times, a reference to the true meaning of life and love," said producer Maryann Ridini Spencer, who will write and produce both projects, with Pratt co-writing The Good Heart.


The Social Network: An Adaptation Story

The New York Times chronicled the curious journey of The Social Network from Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg's life to Ben Mezrich's book, The Accidental Billionaires, to Aaron Sorkin's film script.

Mezrich "wrote his book, an eventual best seller, at the same time that Mr. Sorkin adapted it for his script, using a leaked 14-page book proposal as his starting point. More research into the story followed, though its relative veracity has been a point of contention, even in an era when most people are content to settle for truthiness. Neither the film nor the book had the cooperation of Mr. Zuckerberg. Mr. Mezrich did, however, speak with Mr. Zuckerberg's onetime friend and associate, Eduardo Saverin--played by Andrew Garfield in the film--about the events that led up to him becoming a reported $1 billion richer."

How did Saverin get involved? You can read the Times article for a detailed account, but "V.I.P. treatment, celebrity and a Las Vegas getaway helped."


Books & Authors

Steampunk Westerns: Flaming Zeppelins & The Buntline Special

The Buntline Special: A Weird West Tale by Mike Resnick (Pyr/Prometheus Books, $16 paperback, 9781616142490/1616142499, December 7, 2010)

Flaming Zeppelins: The Adventures of Ned the Seal by Joe R. Lansdale (Tachyon Publications/IPG, $14.99 paperback, 9781616960025/1616960027, October 25, 2010)

The gunfight at the O.K. Corral was a real-life historical event that swiftly became one of the iconic moments in the mythology of the western--for many audiences, it is an instantly recognizable drama, and its contours are well-known. How, then, to make the story fresh? Filmmakers can cast a new generation of actors, or execute the narrative in a new visual style, but literary variations are, for the most part, more subtle. Unless, that is, you take Mike Resnick's approach and turn the whole thing into a steampunk fantasy.

In the alternate 19th-century of The Buntline Special, Native American shaman leaders like Geronimo have managed to hold back the United States at the Mississippi, save for a few outposts like Tombstone. Thomas Edison has relocated here from Menlo Park, setting up shop with Ned Buntline (better known historically as a writer and self-promoter) to produce an array of technological marvels, from electric street lamps to mechanized animatronic prostitutes. The Earp brothers are hired to protect Edison from both the Clanton gang and the Indians; much of the novel unfolds from the perspective of their deathly ill comrade, Doc Holliday.

Resnick doesn't do that much to the actual story, just serves it up with some cosmetic twists: Bat Masterson is cursed by Geronimo and becomes a vampire; Johnny Ringo is a zombie; Doc and the Earps are outfitted with bulletproof armor (nicely displayed in J. Seamas Gallagher's interior illustrations). Though the stage is set for a sequel, this steampunk shootout is essentially a curious set-piece: the characters (Holliday especially) are entertaining, but there's still a sense that they're going through the motions.

The real-life personages that populate Joe R. Lansdale's Flaming Zeppelins, on the other hand, are much more looser and free-wheeling. In "Zeppelins West," the first of two novellas published in limited editions earlier this decade, Buffalo Bill Cody (his head kept alive in a jar until scientists can grow him a new body) takes his Wild West Show (including an anachronistic Ned Buntline) to Japan--with a secret, second agenda to liberate Frankenstein's monster from the Shogun. Though many are killed during the escape, Cody, Wild Bill Hickock, Annie Oakley and Sitting Bull are rescued by "Captain Bemo" of the "Naughty Lass," who takes them to the island of "Doctor Momo," whose half-man, half-animal creations deliver some of the story's funniest scenes (including a side-splitting encounter with Dracula).

This first adventure seemingly ends with everybody dead (or safe in another dimension), but Ned, a seal who has learned to read and write, shows up on Spain's Mediterranean coast at the beginning of "Flaming London," making friends with Mark Twain and Jules Verne just before the Martians from The War of the Worlds begin their invasion. Lansdale's bawdy characterizations preserve readers' impressions of the well-known historical and fictional characters while adding a layer of unpredictability lacking in Swanwick's tale, even though the core elements of Lansdale's yarns are as familiar as the OK Corral. Both novels are entertaining in their way, but one is a comfortable diversion while the other is a madcap excursion.--Ron Hogan

Shelf Talker: Readers who have been introduced to Americana steampunk by Cherie Priest's Boneshaker and Dreadnought might find similar pleasures in either of these books, with a slight edge to Lansdale for sheer weirdness.



Attainment: New Titles Appearing Next Week

Selected new titles appearing next Tuesday, December 28:

What the Night Knows: A Novel by Dean Koontz (Bantam, $28, 9780553807721/0553807722) opens old wounds for a homicide detective investigating the massacre of a family.

In Too Deep by Jayne Ann Krentz (Putnam, $25.95, 9780399157028/0399157026) follows a detective agency specialized in hunting psychic criminals.

Secrets to the Grave by Tami Hoag (Dutton, $26.95, 9780525951926/052595192X) chronicles the investigation of a particularly gruesome murder in a California town.

Bloody Valentine by Melissa de la Cruz (Hyperion, $14.99, 9781423134497/1423134494) is the next entry in the supernatural romance Blue Bloods series.

Dead Zero: A Bob Lee Swagger Novel
by Stephen Hunter (Simon & Schuster, $26, 9781439138656/1439138656) follows a veteran sniper assigned a questionable CIA mission in Afghanistan.

The Metropolis Case: A Novel by Matthew Gallaway (Crown, $25, 9780307463425/0307463427) switches between musicians in 19th century Paris and 1960s New York.

Star Wars: Red Harvest by Joe Schreiber (LucasBooks, $27, 9780345511171/0345511174) tells a new story set in the distant past of the Star Wars universe.

Sexy Forever: How to Fight Fat after Forty
by Suzanne Somers (Crown, $25.99, 9780307588517/0307588513) includes tips from the actress and singer--just in time for New Year's resolutions.

The Life You Want: Get Motivated, Lose Weight, and Be Happy by Bob Greene, Ann Kearney-Cooke, and Janis Jibrin (Simon & Schuster, $25, 9781416588368/1416588361) explores the science and psychology behind weight loss.

Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life
by Karen Armstrong (Knopf, $22.95, 9780307595591/0307595595) advocates steps to cultivate compassion for other people.

Love for No Reason: 7 Steps to Creating a Life of Unconditional Love
by Marci Shimoff (Free Press, $26, 9781439165027/1439165025) gives steps for achieving loving relationships.

Now in paperback

Ruthless Game by Christine Feehan (Jove, $7.99, 9780515149210/0515149217).

Diet Drama: Feed Your Body! Move Your Body! Love Your Body! by Nancy Redd (Gotham, $22.50, 9781592406029/1592406025).


Shelf Starter: In Ordinary Light: New and Selected Poems

Shelf Starter: In Ordinary Light


In Ordinary Light: New and Selected Poems by Darrell Bourque (University of Louisiana at Lafayette Press, $20 trade paper, 9781935754015/1935754017, November 16, 2010)

A poem from a collection we want to read:

At Dusk As We Prepare for the Leonids

The pond in the far pasture turns yellow
in this dwindling light, becomes the light
itself as everything slips quietly off. Mallows
lose their pink and red this time of day. Kites

have flown off to wherever it is that kites fly
to when night falls, and whatever it is the day
has hammered out is flattened. Whatever cry

pierced and blazed is mute--cicadas, cardinals, jays
have all gone quiet for the evening birds. A sigh
so faint we think it is the ghost of sound stays

the ghost of sound in trees. Whatever falls in light has fallen
and whatever it is that brightens in darkness slowly brightens.
Someone seeing us from a distance might think this a fallow
time, but in hours heavy metal will look like stars in flight.
--selected by Marilyn Dahl


KidsBuzz: Bloomsbury Children's Books:  Power of a Princess (More Than a Princess) by E.D. Baker
KidsBuzz: Windsong Press: The Shockhoe Slip Gang: A Mystery by Patricia Cecil Hass, illustrated by Laura Corson
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