Shelf Awareness for Friday, January 7, 2011


Walker Books: Malamander (Legends of Eerie-On-Sea) by Thomas Taylor, illustrated by Tom Booth

Little Brown and Company: Kingdomtide by Rye Curtis

Sharjah Book Authority Publishers Conference October 27th-29th --Register Now!

Candlewick Press: Judy Moody, Book Quiz Whiz (Judy Moody #15) by Megan McDonald, illustrated by Peter H Reynolds

Bloomsbury Publishing: 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World by Elif Shafak

Workman Publishing: Guitar: The World's Most Seductive Instrument by David Schiller

Quotation of the Day

Voracious Reader Returns to the Print Fold

"Late in the day on Tuesday, a couple came into the store. After browsing a bit, the wife approached the desk. Her husband, she explained, is a voracious reader. So, she got him a Kindle for Christmas. He tried it and didn't like it. So, she returned the Kindle and was at Battenkill Books to apply the same amount of money to a gift certificate for her husband. It made my day!"

--Connie Brooks, owner of Battenkill Books, Cambridge, N.Y.

 


Magination Press: My Singing Nana by Pat Mora, illustrated by Alyssa Bermudez


News

Image of the Day: OED's New Look

Jessica Chesnutt, an online product specialist for Oxford University Press, demonstrated a substantially redesigned version of the Oxford English Dictionary during a reception at the OUP's Manhattan office Wednesday night. The new OED.com has the full contents of the dictionary's working database as well as the contents of 2009's Historical Thesaurus of the OED, with improved search functionality that includes the ability to search for words by category, and promises of updates every three months. "It's not a new version of the OED," chief editor John Simpson told the assembled crowd. "It's a supercharged version: OED 2.0." The dictionary is accessible only to registered users; subscriptions are available for both institutions and individuals, with the latter priced at $29.95/month or $295/year. --Ron Hogan

 


University of Pittsburgh Press: The Firebird: The Elusive Fate of Russian Democracy (First Edition, Pitt Russian and Eastern European Studies Series)


Notes: Students Like Printed Textbooks; B&N's Happy Holidays

Nearly 75% of college students prefer printed textbooks over e-textbooks, citing "a fondness for print's look and feel, as well as its permanence and ability to be resold," according to a Book Industry Study Group research survey called Student Attitudes Toward Content in Higher Education.

Among other findings in the survey, which is ongoing and powered by Bowker's PubTrack:

About 12% of the respondents--"mostly males, and often MBA-seeking or distance learners"--prefer e-texts to printed texts because of their "lower cost, convenience and portability" as well as online supplemental materials, particularly online quizzes.

60% of respondents place high value on core textbooks--whether printed or electronic--and 65% continue to purchase them at the college bookstore.

20% said they purchase textbooks from Amazon.com.

11% prefer renting a textbook.

More than 40% of respondents bought a textbook from a pirate website or know others who have. In addition, many respondents have copied friends' textbooks.

Students prefer print study guides, campus learning management systems like Blackboard and WebCT and diagnostic self tests much more than they like online tutoring, audio study guides and "clickers" used in classrooms by teachers.

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Not that it would ever want to highlight the contrast between its fortunes and those of another national book retailer, but Barnes & Noble made public information about its happy holiday sales for the second time in a week.

On Monday B&N said that sales at stores open at least a year rose 9.7% in the quarter ended December 31 and that B&N bookstores had their best sales day in company history on December 23.

Yesterday, the company said that overall store sales rose 8.2%, to $1.1 billion, and that the comp-store jump was the stores' best performance in more than a decade. In December comp-store sales were even better than for the quarter, rising 12.8%.

The company attributed the gains to the Nook--"the company sold virtually its entire inventory of Nook Color and E Ink devices during the holiday season"--and "physical book" sales, especially hardcover books, which were better than expected. Sales in the toys and games department rose 48% during the holidays.

Also, sales at Barnes & Noble.com rose 78%, compared to last year's holiday selling season. Total sales in the quarter at Barnes & Noble.com were $228.5 million, a 67% gain.

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Never mind. The 24,000-sq.-ft. Books-A-Million in downtown Houston, Texas, that was about to close because of low sales at the Houston Pavilions and the general area will not close after all. Local real estate website Swamplot, which reported the original closing earlier this week (Shelf Awareness, January 5, 2011), said that the development's owners had extended BAM "an even sweeter deal" than the recently lowered $3,000 monthly rent.

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Blio, the e-reader software that uses color and sophisticated audio, is being incorporated into a range of Dell devices as part of Dell's new Stage user interface. Blio is already standard on Dell's Inspiron Duo tablet.

More than one million books are available to Blio users through the BookStage storefront, which is also loaded onto all new Dells and can be downloaded to existing Dells.

Tom Morgan, CEO of Baker & Taylor, which has partnered with K-NFB Reading Technology on Blio, said that the Dell arrangements "underscores the significant growth of our network for digital media distribution and gives our publishers an incredible channel in which to market and sell their e-book content."

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Karen Mills, head of the U.S. Small Business Administration, spoke with Bookselling This Week about some of the steps the SBA has taken to help small businesses over the last two years, the challenges facing Main Street businesses today, SBA's new loan initiatives and online resources and more.

"It has been a tough couple of years for small business," said Mills. "At the SBA, we've been working very hard to make sure that Main Street small businesses such as booksellers have the capital they need not just to keep their doors open, but to grow and create jobs in these tough times."

Mills will be interviewed by PBS NewsHour's Jim Lehrer at the opening event of ABA's Winter Institute later this month.

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Brand Bookshop, Glendale, Calif., "the kind of used bookstore that's built for a long afternoon of browsing," is Jacket Copy's bookstore of the week. Jerome Joseph, the 82-year-old owner who opened the shop in 1985, "can still be found in the store five days a week.... Brand Bookshop has a kind of personality, a little esoteric, a little goofy. Among the ordered shelves there are hidden surprises, books that have been arranged to tell a story. For example, in the category of literary biography, Neil Gaiman's pose on the cover of The Faces of Fantasy has been displayed to echo the photograph on the cover of a biography of Oscar Wilde."

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A new selection of bookstore cats was showcased by Mental Floss, which noted that "books and cats go together as well as peanut butter and jelly."

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USA Today featured bookseller recommendations in its Winter Books Preview, noting that "books by celebrities, from Janet Jackson to Tina Fey, and by literary celebrities, including Joyce Carol Oates and the late David Foster Wallace, highlight the new season in publishing. Booksellers, from stores large and small, tout a variety of titles from big-name authors and those yet to emerge."

Participating booksellers included Geoffrey Jennings of Rainy Day Books, Fairway, Kan., Cathy Langer of the Tattered Cover, Denver, Colo., Patricia Bostelman of Barnes & Noble, Kathryn Popoff of Borders and Tom Nissley of Amazon.

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Carol Besse and Michael Boggs, co-owners of Carmichael's Bookstore, are among this year's winners of the Louisville Historical League's annual awards for contributions to Louisville history, the Courier-Journal reported. They will be honored for their support of local history books January 16 at Frazier International History Museum.

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Today's Wall Street Journal profiled Kamy Wicoff, founder of SheWrites.com and co-founder of the New York Salon of Women Writers. Wicoff recently donated $20,000 to Girls Write Now, an organization that pairs high school girls from underprivileged New York City schools with professional writers for yearlong mentorships.

"Writing is about more than publishing, it's about having a voice and learning the power of telling your own story," Wicoff said. "Giving voice to people that haven't had it is really transformative both for that individual and for the whole society."

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The Twitter hashtag #LessAmbitiousBooks generated a long list of suggestions, both worthy and unworthy (in the best possible way). The Huffington Post showcased some favorites, including A Tale of Two Villages and Lady Chatterly's Facebook Friend.

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Author Cornelius Medvei contends that children's books "would be lost without animal characters, but the beastly perspective on human life has much to offer grown-ups." With that in mind, Medvei chose his top 10 talking animals in literature for the Guardian.

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Book trailer of the day: Dead Zero: A Bob Lee Swagger Novel by Stephen Hunter (Simon & Schuster).

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Canadian publishing house Key Porter Books has ceased operations, the Toronto Star reported. Author Mark Bourrie told the Star that the major outlet for works of Canadian nonfiction, with 100 titles per year, "is gone, they're out of business." He was informed by an e-mail from Harold Fenn, head of H.B. Fenn--which bought controlling interest in Key Porter in 2004--that his book, The Fog of War, scheduled for a January 25 release, is "on hold." Key Porter had laid off 11 of its 17 employees in September and shifted operations from Toronto to H.B. Fenn's corporate offices in Bolton, Ont.

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Effective March 1, Getty Publications will be distributed in Canada by the Chicago Distribution Center. The Manda Group will continue to provide sales representation. Getty has been distributed in Canada by Jaguar Book Group.

 


H1: Ignited: Triggered by Mark Waid and Kwanza Osajyefo, illustrated by Phil Briones


General Retail Sales in December: Gain Is Less than Expected

General retail sales last month were up, but did not meet expectations as the "holiday shopping season finished weaker than it started for store chains ranging from Target Corp. to Gap Inc., thwarting hopes that leading retailers would raise profit forecasts from strong sales," the Wall Street Journal reported.

Sales at stores open at least a year rose 3.1% in December, as measured by Thomson Reuters, which was less than the 3.4% jump analysts had predicted.
 
The Journal noted that while snow on the East Coast and rain on the West Coast "appeared to take a late-month toll, retail economists and experts said the real culprit behind the weaker December sales was an avalanche of aggressive promotions in November. Those deals enticed consumers to shop earlier than usual and raised unrealistic expectations about consumer spending for the remainder of the year."

"There was a lot of hype and expectation after November that we were out of the water, and we are not," said David Bassuk of AlixPartners. "Promotions still rule the day right now and they are so deep that they are affecting profitability."

Online sales were up 12% to a record $32.6 billion, according to comScore.

The International Council of Shopping Centers said that during "the November-December holiday period, same-store sales rose 3.8%, which was the biggest holiday increase since 2006," the New York Times wrote.

SpendingPulse's Michael McNamara offered an upbeat analysis of the holiday season, noting that many categories are now above 2007 levels in terms of dollars spent: "This is the longest sustained period of improvement, from a consumer-spending standpoint, that we’ve seen since the recession. It’s really strong growth across a number of retail categories."

 


Berkley Books: Tom Brown's Guide to Healing the Earth by Tom Brown and Randy Walker


Twain and the N-Word: 'An Axe to Break the Frozen Sea'

NewSouth's upcoming one-volume edition of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer replaces the word "nigger" with "slave" and "injun" with "Indian." The intention of the editor and publisher is to broaden Twain's audience by removing the two offensive words that in and of themselves keep some from reading these classic works and keep schools from teaching them. The move has engendered a torrent of commentary, and the SIBA list surv has been particularly busy. In one very thoughtful response, Frazer Dobson, Como Sales, spoke for many booksellers when he wrote:

 

First, I want to make it clear that I mean no disrespect to Randall Williams and Suzanne La Rosa of NewSouth, whom I know personally, nor Professor Gribben of Auburn University at Montgomery, whom I have never met. I should also note that The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is public domain and that anyone is free to publish and alter the text as they like. I can understand that Huck's prolific use of the N-word makes people uncomfortable, which has led to it becoming the fourth most banned book in schools.

My main point: the use of the N word is SUPPOSED to make the reader uncomfortable. It's well-known and obvious that Mark Twain was appalled by racism and slavery, and I suspect he knew exactly the implications of his word choice. Huck is an ignorant character, and his voice is the voice of his environment. So are Bob Ewell from To Kill a Mockingbird and Jason Compson in The Sound and the Fury, and dozens if not hundreds of other characters from across the canon of Southern literature.

Slavery and racism are the original sins of the United States and especially the South. I grew up in Montgomery, Alabama, in the 1980s, and though you'd think we'd have learned better by then, I heard white people using the N word nearly every single day. We cannot ignore the existence of the word any more than we can ignore the existence of racism, and I worry that by, you will pardon the pun, whitewashing history, we are doing ourselves a great disservice. And I believe this is the unintended consequence of this well-intentioned attempt to make Twain's masterpiece more palatable to students. Would any of us do this to To Kill a Mockingbird? Invisible Man? The works of Faulkner and Flannery O'Connor? Our greatest authors did not use the N-word lightly, and it was (and, regrettably, still is) part of our lives growing up Southerners. And a big part of growing up is being made uncomfortable. That's how you learn right from wrong.

I don't like the word. Never have. Many of my white classmates tossed it around with no real clue to its meaning, but if my mom had ever heard me say it, well, the results wouldn't have been pretty. When I read the word in a novel, it still makes me flinch. I knew what it meant early on in life, and I knew that people that used it frequently were generally not people I wanted to be around. But I fear that simply pretending the word doesn't exist does us no favors as readers or thinkers, that it attempts to hide the ugliness of an ugly part of our world that still exists, all to make us comfortable. But comfort is not what I look for in a book. I think Kafka said it best (and thanks to Robert Segedy for turning me on to this quote some years ago): "A book must be the axe for the frozen sea inside of us."

 


Book Vault Cooks Up Nutrition Series

Customers who made New Year's resolutions to shape up this year can take part in nutrition classes at the Book Vault in Oskaloosa, Iowa. The four-part weekly series, which begins tomorrow, features recipes, advice on healthier eating and suggestions for cooking and meal-planning.

The classes are led by Jamilee McQuivey, a fitness and nutrition expert and co-author of the health-conscious cookbook Three Plates at the Table. The cost is $50 for all four classes or $15 for single sessions.

Classes take place in the Book Vault's kitchen, which is fitted out "just like a kitchen in your home," said manager April Gorski. Along with an oven, dishwasher, microwave, refrigerator and gas cooktop, a pivoting counter with a mirror above it allows all attendees to see the food prep.

The store regularly hosts food-themed events such as Cooking with Books, a cooking demonstration with visiting authors and local chefs, and the Cookbook Book Club. The kitchen also serves as the backdrop for a local TV show, Cooking at the Vault with Ruthi Rogers.

For those who would like to work off the calories, the Book Vault offers yoga and zumba (Latin-inspired dance fitness) classes year round.--Shannon McKenna Schmidt

 


Media and Movies

Media Heat: Roseanne Barr on the Early Show

Tonight on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon: Patton Oswalt, author of Zombie Spaceship Wasteland (Scribner, $24, 9781439149089).

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On the Saturday Early Show: Roseanne Barr, author of Roseannearchy: Dispatches from the Nut Farm (Gallery, $26, 9781439154823).

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Sunday on Fox & Friends: Sue Shifrin-Cassidy, Linda Blum Huntington and Eva Adrienne Anderson, authors of The Lifeboard (Chronicle, $22.95, 9780811876384). David Cassidy will also appear.

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On Sunday, PBS-TV's Nature will premier the documentary Elsa's Legacy: The Born Free Story. The film explores one of the most iconic wildlife stories in history---Joy and George Adamson's adoption and rehabilitation of an orphaned lion cub. Joy Adamson's book about that experience was adapted into the Academy Award-winning film Born Free. Virginia McKenna, who played Joy Adamson in the film, went on to write her own book about the life-changing experience of starring in Born Free and founded the Born Free Foundation, which is devoted to wildlife conservation. McKenna's The Life in My Years was just published in paperback in December by Theatre Communications Group (Oberon, $26.95, 9781849430357).

 


Movies: Cosmopolis

Robert Pattinson will star in David Cronenberg's adaptation of Don DeLillo's novel Cosmopolis, "stepping into the shoes that were to be worn by Colin Farrell," according to the Hollywood Reporter, which added that Paul Giamatti and Marion Cotillard are also in the cast for the film, which is scheduled to begin shooting in mid-May in Toronto.

 



Books & Authors

Awards: Shaughnessy Cohen Shortlist

Finalists for the Writers' Trust of Canada's $25,000 Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing are The Madman and the Butcher: The Sensational Wars of Sam Hughes and General Arthur Currie by Tim Cook, Polar Imperative: A History of Arctic Sovereignty in North America by Shelagh D. Grant, Harperland: The Politics of Control by Lawrence Martin, The Ghosts of Europe: Journeys Through Central Europe's Troubled Past and Uncertain Future by Anna Porter and Arrival City: The Final Migration and Our Next World by Doug Saunders.

Quillblog noted the annual award recognizes a nonfiction book that has the "potential to shape or influence Canadian political life." The winner will be announced February 16.

 


Book Brahmin: Aminatta Forna

Aminatta Forna was born in Glasgow and raised in Sierra Leone and the United Kingdom. She is the award-winning author of The Memory of Love, Ancestor Stones and The Devil that Danced on the Water. Her new novel, The Memory of Love (Atlantic Monthly, January 4, 2011), is a story about friendship, war and obsessive love. It has been selected as one of the Best Books of the Year by the Sunday Telegraph, the Financial Times and the Times (U.K.).

 

On your nightstand now:

I keep books I am reading in different places. In my handbag is Granta's latest edition; David Sedaris next to the bath; Hector Abad's Oblivion by the bed.

Favorite book when you were a child:

White Fang by Jack London. I borrowed it from the British Council Library in Freetown and read and re-read the story of a wolf in the snowscapes of North America in a 40° C African heat. Recently I bought it for my godson and found I could remember whole passages.

Your top five authors:

Michael Ondaatje, Margaret Atwood, Ngugi wa Thiongo, Pat Barker, Josip Novakovich.

Ondaatje for structure, he is a real writer's writer. Atwood for vision. Pat Barker for powerful realism. Ngugi wa Tiongo for language and imagination. Novakovich for humour, even when writing about war.

Book you've faked reading:

I read law at university and often feel poorly read compared to English literature graduates of whom I seem to know a large number. I have never read Dickens, something I once tried to correct, but failed in the face of the enormity of the task. Same goes for Jane Austen. I bought all her books last year and discovered I preferred the miniseries.

Book you're an evangelist for:

Quite a few actually. Too much great writing doesn't get its due, especially if it is in translation. Last year it was Laura Escoba's The Rabbit House, about a summer in a safe-house during the Argentinean Dirty War. This year Hector Abad's Oblivion--finally translated into English.

Book you've bought for the cover:

I haven't but if I did it would be The God of Small Things. I only noticed the poignancy of the cover when I was some way into the book. Apparently Arundhati Roy photographed it herself. If you haven't read it, go and buy it and you'll see what I am talking about. If you have, go and take another look.

Book that changed your life:

Life and Times of Michael K by J.M. Coetzee, which won the Booker Prize in 1983. It was writing with a purpose that went beyond entertainment. Political writing is very unfashionable these days and most writers will go out of their way to claim they are merely storytellers, but writing out of South Africa at that time--Coetzee, Gordimer, Alan Paton, André Brink--wore its heart on its sleeve and it was magnificent.

Favorite line from a book:

"They say when trouble comes close ranks, and so the white people did."--Jean Rhys, Wide Sargasso Sea. Everything the book is about.

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

The Life of Pi by Yann Martel. Because you have to believe in magic.

Book you wish you had written:

The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje.

 


Book Review

Book Review: Dream of Ding Village

Dream of Ding Village by Yan Lianke (Grove Press, $24.00 Hardcover, 9780802119322, January 2011)

Based on a true epidemic of AIDS blood-contamination in China, this fascinating, chilling novel is narrated by a dead 12-year-old boy, buried behind the brick wall of the elementary school. He's the murdered son of Ding Hui, the first and richest of the blood merchants and primary destroyer of the village.

When the government offers good money for blood, in the rush to wealth the villagers enthusiastically give too much too often, become anemic, need blood transfusions and become part of the rampant spreading of AIDS. As the story opens, in this village of 800 people on the East Henan plain, 40 have died this year from what they call "the fever," and they're beginning to die faster and faster.

Based on three years of research into the real-life scandal, Yan's tale sounds like pretty grim going. Instead, the novel is gripping, swift, heartfelt, occasionally exhilarating and often surprising, due in large part to the book's two big aces: the charming, naïve narrative voice of the dead boy and the dynamic, larger-than-life figure of grandpa, the central character and the only morally grounded citizen of Ding Village.

When the sick gather in the elementary school where the boy is buried to live out their last days communally, grandpa becomes their leader and spokesperson. His benign reign over this makeshift hospice for the sick lasts the first half of the book, until he is overthrown by two younger men who institute corruption, unreasonable laws and an era of bullying. Grandpa is blessed with the power of clairvoyant dreams and some sequences in the book occur twice, first as a dream in italics and then again in real life. He's the only one who dares to confront his powerful, corrupt son, Ding Hui, and they clash in a startling, violent fight to the death in the village center.

The story's many incidental characters, infected and not, take turns coming to the fore in a last, desperate reaching for love and power. Unforgettable scenes abound. A dying village singer gives his final public performance. A husband tries to give the disease to his wife to prevent her from remarrying after his death. Married villagers abandoned by their spouses turn to each other for solace in their last days alive. The entire village chops down trees in a frenzy to make their own coffins, competing to see who will have the largest and most elaborate gravestones. As much about human greed as about a devastating disease, the cautionary tale builds toward a climactic wedding scene, surely one of the strangest in literature, in which both bride and bridegroom are deceased.

Like Albert Camus' The Plague, the novel works on more than one level, not only as a commentary on the growth of modern China but opening outward into an existential parable about what human beings think is important in this short, short life. All of us are living in Ding Village, infected with death and waiting out our days. In these lives, with a heightened awareness of death, every second counts, every bit of happiness matters. As they should in our own.--Nick DiMartino

Shelf Talker: A novel based on a actual epidemic of AIDS blood-contamination in China, narrated by a dead boy, is both a commentary on modern China and a gripping parable about what we consider important in our lives.

 


Deeper Understanding

Robert Gray: Marble Bookends & Infinite Reading

As you begin 2011, anxious as well as excited about the future of books, I'll offer just a bit of advice for the new year: Consider infinity and relax.

We don't read enough (according to our own unforgiving standards) and we never will. If you decided, starting tomorrow, to read a book every day for the next 10 years, you would consume 3,650 books (leap years, I know, but I'm rounding off). You probably wouldn't have time to do anything else, however, so by 2021 you'd have lost your job, your home, your family, etc. Even your library and bookstore might get sick of you after a while.

Each year, tens of thousands of print books and book-like substances are released upon a dazed and overwhelmed reading public. The digital revolution will soon make even those numbers seem quaint. As I anticipate a new year of more books and more reading options, perhaps it's not surprising that I find myself taking solace in thoughts about the epic life span of a useful object found in homes and bookstores and libraries worldwide--the humble bookend.

You can't keep up, so rather than worrying incessantly about unread books and the electronic biblio-deluge, consider... infinity. For the purpose of scientific and philosophical experimentation, let's agree to represent infinity as a set of polished marble bookends. They are real, but you can think of them as a metaphor if it helps.

My bookends work well, but I'm not really testing their full capabilities since they usually hold no more than a dozen titles, all precious to me if not necessarily to anyone else.

It is the potential bookends represent that matters here. These marble reading tools exist because of geological metamorphosis during the late Cambrian or early Ordovician eras, as well as more recent quarrying, cutting, carving and polishing. They are fully equipped to withstand pressure, friction and abrasion. They are easy to operate--place on a flat surface and insert books. Repeat as necessary.

Theoretically, all of the books ever printed would fit between a single set of marble bookends. Of course this infinite collection would require really great bookends. But marble can endure 17,000 pounds per square inch of pressure. How many books is that? Clearly, my imagination trumps my scientific knowledge. You can blame early exposure to Jorge Luis Borges's "The Library of Babel."

Gravity is an issue as well.

"Indeed, gravity, the force that makes bookends work, is the very definition of verticality," writes Henry Petroski in The Book on the Bookshelf. "Yet it is the equally definitive horizontal force, caused by bearing down of the bookend's weight, that creates the force which resists sliding. Contrary to the conventional wisdom, the simplest machine is not the wedge but the block.... When called upon, bookends--many of which are really nothing but sculpted blocks--develop a horizontal push to shore up books that want to fall. Friction is the secret, of course."

Words to live by for 2011.

Much attention has been given to the creation of an all-encompassing digital library. My bookends represent an alternative, if imaginary, concept--a limitless collection of books that I've read or not read or reread, with some space left over for books I'll buy in the future to read or not read. Too many books to count, all lined up neatly, stretching toward infinity, yet nestled firmly between a pair of delicately carved marble bookends.

Why bookends?

For me, they are an enduring symbol of the reading life--not altars exactly, but maybe fortress walls or temple columns in miniature. Marble bookends are older than we are. Holding up a few books is just a small favor they do to pass geologic time. Archaeologists may or may not uncover books and smashed e-readers in the future ruins of our era, but they will definitely find marble bookends.
    
Which brings me back to the book world of 2011.
    
In his book The Eyes of the Heart: A Memoir of the Lost and Found, Frederick Buechner considers his personal library and a particular title that, "like a great many other books I own, I have never read. ('Why on earth would I want to do that?' a friend of mine answered when somebody asked him once if he had read all his.)."

Why indeed? My New Year's gift to you is a virtual set of marble bookends, which hold between them all the books in the world. Read what you want to this year, when you can. The bookends will hold your place until you're ready for more. And there will be more.--Robert Gray (column archives available at Fresh Eyes Now)

 


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