Shelf Awareness for Monday, January 10, 2011

Bloom Books: Queen of Myth and Monsters (Adrian X Isolde #2) by Scarlett St. Clair

Bloom Books: Queen of Myth and Monsters (Adrian X Isolde #2) by Scarlett St. Clair

Blue Box Press: A Light in the Flame: A Flesh and Fire Novel by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Irh Press: The Unknown Stigma Trilogy by Ryuho Okawa

Other Press (NY): The Rebel and the Thief by Jan-Philipp Sendker, translated by Imogen Taylor

Holiday House: Welcome to Feral (Frights from Feral) by Mark Fearing

Charlesbridge Publishing: Too-Small Tyson (Storytelling Math) by Janay Brown-Wood, illustrated by Anastasia Williams

Berkley Books: Stone Cold Fox by Rachel Koller Croft

Quotation of the Day

'The Point of Fun'

"It's about open-mic nights and book signings and it's about having fun. What stinks is that in the last couple of years, people have had the fun sucked right out of them. That's something that's cool about local economies--you can do something like this, make things work and have fun. If it's not fun, what's the point? People feel good when they come in places like this or Aurum or other places downtown when it's a positive experience, which is the key to everything."

--Jonathan Tonge, owner of Dog Ear Books, Athens, Ga., in a business story in the Athens Banner-Herald.



Minotaur Books: A World of Curiosities (Chief Inspector Gamache Novel #18) by Louise Penny


Image of the Day: Oswalt Takes Brooklyn

On Saturday, more than 200 fans came to the Warsaw in Brooklyn, N.Y., where WORD hosted an event for Patton Oswalt. The comic and author read from his book, Zombie Spaceship Wasteland (Scribner), took questions and signed. WORD owner Christine Onorati, in the foreground at left, oversees Oswalt's sitdown routine.

Photo: Vinnie Onorati


GLOW: Sourcebooks Landmark: Clytemnestra by Costanza Casati

Notes: Borders Watch; Cool Indie Changes

Borders Group, which has slowed payments to some suppliers and is negotiating with suppliers about changing terms, has been "in discussions" with Wall Street firms that specialize in financial restructuring plans as well as bankruptcies, including Jefferies & Co., according to the Wall Street Journal.

One Wall Street source said that "Borders doesn't currently have plans to bring aboard bankruptcy and restructuring lawyers... and doesn't contemplate filing for bankruptcy at this time."

The company is also talking with GE Capital about new debt that would replace the revolving credit line of $970 million that GE Capital, Bank of America and others gave Borders last year.

"We are seeking to restructure our finances and are not in a liquidity crisis," a Borders spokesperson told the paper.

On Friday, Borders stock rose 6.9% to 92 cents a share on the news.


Read Booksellers, which opened in Danville, Calif., in November 2009, has been sold to Larry and Patricia Cobabe, owners of G.R. Doodlebug, the toy and gift store next door, the Oakland Tribune reported.

"We're pretty excited about this," Larry Cobabe told the paper. "It's going to remain a bookstore, as it's been since the beginning. We're opening a wall between the stores soon and the bookstore will actually be a little bigger than it is now. Our goal is to have the work done in January but it's dependent on the drawings and the permits."

The bookstore staff has stayed and programming has continued uninterrupted.


For the past month, customers attempting to enter indie bookstore DIESEL, Malibu, Calif., have had to use a variety of entrances, thanks to renovation work at the Cross Creek shopping center. But Los Angeles Observed noted that "on a recent weekday, DIESEL was humming, filled with browsers and buyers, people who still read books, not in pixels but in print."


Brett Wickard, owner of Bull Moose music shops, "is defying logic" by "going after book buyers who are seeking the low prices they can get on the Web but who want to support a local merchant and enjoy the bookstore experience," the Associated Press (via the Reading Eagle) reported.

Bull Moose has 10 music stores in Maine and New Hampshire, with annual revenues between $15 million and $25 million. The AP noted that "Bull Moose--which originally started as Bull Moose Music but dropped the last word after branching out--first added books in a big way in February when it expanded its store in Bangor and created 3,000 square feet devoted to the printed page. Sales there were so good that Wickard decided to expand into books in Scarborough, his largest store."

Wickard anticipates that book sales will account for 20% of the Scarborough store's revenues in 2011, and is exploring the possibility of adding books at his other stores. "Running a business is a lot like running in front of a steamroller," he said. "If you don't keep running, you'll get run over."


The Huffington Post featured a wine country tour of California's Santa Ynez Valley, which the "movie Sideways put... on the map." Among the highlights was a stop at the Book Loft in Solvang, which was first settled by Danes and continues to have a Danish theme: "Where else would I find an entire section devoted to Viking literature? I easily lose all track of modern time in this combo coffee house, Hans Christian Andersen Museum, and bookshop."


Developer Craig Ustler told the Orlando Sentinel that the spirit of former indie bookstore Urban Think!--which closed last year--will live on as Urban ReThink, scheduled to open next month. The Urban Think! Foundation's nonprofit center "will be a place for 'co-working'--a term coined for providing common office space rented out by independent professionals, often creative or technical types, who ordinarily would work at home or meet clients at Starbucks," the Sentinel reported.

"The model of selling books has just changed," Ustler said. "We needed to get the books out of the way.''


Doggone cool idea of the day: this coming Saturday, Vroman's Bookstore, Pasadena, Calif., and the Pasadena Humane Society are sponsoring their third pet adoption fair. Vroman's is offering gift items for pets at a 20% discount and is holding a raffle for a free copy of Adopting Pets for Dummies. The Humane Society will feature dogs and cats ready for adoption. Soda sales proceeds will go to the Humane Society.


In the Downers Grove Patch, Kim Lovejoy-Voss offered a first-hand account of pitching her book idea at the Pitchapalooza held last week at the Anderson's Bookshop in Downers Grove, Ill. One of several Pitchapaloozas for Workman's The Essential Guide to Getting Your Book Published: How to Write It, Sell It and Market It... Successfully! by Arielle Eckstut and David Henry Sterry (Shelf Awareness, November 9, 2010), the Anderson's event also featured the following local publishing people on the judging panel: Dominique Raccah, president and publisher of Sourcebooks, Joe Durepos, senior acquisition editor at Loyola Press in Chicago, and Wendy McClure, senior editor at Albert Whitman and Co.

At Anderson's, 25 people won the opportunity to pitch their idea. Lovejoy-Voss wrote: "Well, I didn't bomb. I carefully read my pitch, heard a little laughter at certain parts and then waited for the criticism to start. To my surprise, they actually liked what I had to say and how I presented my story, asked if it was based on my experiences and then said, although the presentation went well, my ending fell a little flat. Having worked with editors who have critiqued and changed my newspaper stories for over 30 years that was criticism I could live with.


The Daily Beast offers "the 21 books that you won't want to miss in 2011."


In the Huffington Post, Melanie Benjamin reflected on author tours, especially the difference between the one she put together herself several years ago and the one she starts on today for Alice I Have Been, the subject of a Shelf Awareness Maximum Shelf issue on October 26, 2009, and now out in paperback:

"There's a world of difference. Of course, there is. And when you're fortunate enough to have written a book that people have actually heard of, well--there's an entire universe of difference.

"My publisher, smartly, builds my bookstore appearances around ticketed events; literary foundations, museums, with lecture series who invite me to appear. These events come with some ready-made publicity, as well as ready-made audiences.

"I've also learned to listen to my publisher. When a bookstore contacts me personally about an appearance, I pass the request on to my publicist. Only once did I ignore her advice and do an event anyway.

"Only the janitor showed up."


Book trailer of the day: The Emerald Atlas by John Stephens (Random House).


Barefoot Books: Save 10%

The Chains: Something to Lose

Far from being overjoyed, Gayle Shanks, co-owner of Changing Hands Bookstore, Tempe, Ariz., is concerned about a possible closing of Borders, which has three stores in the Phoenix area. "I think my biggest concern, really, is what it means for the publishing world and ultimately what it means for diversity and finding a marketplace that will be diminished," Shanks told the East Valley Tribune. "We will have fewer authors finding publishers for their books. We'll find fewer books being published and that might in fact mean that only huge, commercially viable authors will find their books going to market."

Amazon would likely take part of the market, she said, but "that's just the bestsellers and one level below. Unless you know exactly what you want to read, it takes the adventure and the curiosity factor out of what's involved with finding a new author."

She attributed Borders's problems to overbuilding and not keeping up with industry trends.


In a eulogy for the Borders flagship store on Michigan Avenue in Chicago that is closing this month (Shelf Awareness, February 27, 2009), Mary Schmich wrote in the Chicago Tribune, "Here's what I think is the real news--the city's premier shopping street will be without any bookstore for the first time in decades.... I can't help but feel that Chicago's top street without a bookstore is like a bookshelf without a book."


In the New York Post, Kyle Smith has a somewhat edgier remembrance of bookselling on New York City's Upper West Side following the closing last week of the Lincoln Triangle Barnes & Noble (and provides an example of just the kind of customer that helped lead to the store's closing):

"It was a multistory bookplex that, for 15 years, was an excellent place to read, browse, flirt, attend readings--and never actually buy anything, since everything it offered was much cheaper and could be delivered free via Which didn't even have to charge sales tax until recently.

"The B&N was essentially the Upper West Side's grooviest public library.

"In the You've Got Mail era, there were five huge book/music stores between West 66th and West 86th streets. Now there's only one--the doomed B&N at 82nd and Broadway, where tumbleweeds roll across the gigantic second floor. You could leave cash in the dictionary aisle and it would be as safe as it is in the mattress.

"The majority of the prime space on the ground floor is given over to a display for the e-book reader the Nook (motto: "Someday we'll be almost as good as the iPad!"). It's like walking into a fire station and seeing an engine has been replaced with a display of Molotov cocktails."

He concluded:

"Bookstores (and music stores) provided something special and New Yorky, their former density giving soul-sustaining reassurance that you were at the center of the creative community--people who care about art and ideas more than shoes. Every time one of them disappears, a part of what makes this city special dies."


Ginger Fox: Free Freight and a Free Book Lovers Mug

Jim Tenney Remembered

Olsson's Books and Records alumna Jean R. Westcott, senior marketing and PR manager, at International Publishers Marketing, offers this remembrance of Jim Tenney, who died last Thursday in his 70s after a long illness.

Jim Tenney first owned the Saville Bookshop in Washington, D.C., and then joined forces with John Olsson, who had started a small chain of record stores, to add the book sections that eventually would make the venture into Olsson's Books and Records.
Jim was revered and feared among sales reps. He had great taste, a good eye and often served as the appointment you made first to see what was really in your list.
As a mentor, Jim helped to train buyers who are sprinkled throughout the book world today. Guy Brussat of the World Bank Infoshop; John Sherer, publisher of Basic Books; Joe Murphy, the Los Angeles rep for Norton; and many others. It took a while before Jim would invest his attention in a new hire, but once he did you knew you were a better bookseller.
Old school and irascible, Jim also was a man who enjoyed life. He had many friends, a set of sons who he delighted in and the admiration of many.
We'll miss him.


Media and Movies

Movie: The Green Hornet

The Green Hornet, starring Seth Rogan, Jay Chou, Cameron Diaz and Christoph Waltz, opens this Friday, January 14. Based on the 1930s radio program, the film follows the son of a recently deceased media mogul and his clever sidekick Cato as they battle the Los Angeles criminal underworld. An official prelude to the film, The Green Hornet: Parallel Lives (Dynamite Entertainment, $19.99, 9781606901489/1606901486), is now available.


Television: Premiere Dates for Game of Thrones & Mildred Pierce

HBO has set premiere dates for a pair of book-to-screen adaptations. According to the Hollywood Reporter, Game of Thrones, based on George R.R. Martin's series A Song of Ice and Fire, will debut April 17. The initial episode of Mildred Pierce, adapted from the novel by James M. Cain, will air March 27.


Media Heat: Mira Bartók and The Memory Palace

This morning on the Today Show: James Beckerman, author of The Flex Diet: Design-Your-Own Weight Loss Plan (Touchstone, $24.99, 9781439155691).

Also on Today: Johnny Weir, author of Welcome to My World (Gallery, $26, 9781451610284). Tomorrow Weir is on Howard Stern.


This morning on Good Morning America: Michael F. Roizen and Mehmet Oz, authors of YOU: Having a Baby: The Owner's Manual to a Happy and Healthy Pregnancy (Free Press, $14.99, 9781416572374).


This morning on MSNBC's Morning Joe: Jonathan Alter, author of The Promise: President Obama, Year One (Simon & Schuster, $16, 9781439101209). He is also on Imus in the Morning tomorrow morning.


Today on a repeat of Oprah: Terry McMillan, author of Getting to Happy (Viking, $27.95, 9780670022045).


Today on NPR's Fresh Air: Mira Bartók, author of The Memory Palace (Free Press, $25, 9781439183311).


Today on the View: Father Alberto Cutie, author of Dilemma: A Priest's Struggle with Faith and Love (Celebra, $25.95, 9780451232014).


Today on CBS' the Talk: Peter Walsh, author of Lighten Up: Love What You Have, Have What You Need, Be Happier with Less (Free Press, $26, 9781439155141).


Today on CNN's Anderson Cooper 360: Peter Bergen, author of The Longest War: The Enduring Conflict between America and Al-Qaeda (Free Press, $28, 9780743278935). Tomorrow he will be on Wolf Blitzer's Situation Room.


Today on NPR's the Takeaway: Ruth Davis Konigsberg, author of The Truth About Grief: The Myth of Its Five Stages and the New Science of Loss (Simon & Schuster, $26, 9781439148334).


Tonight on the Late Show with David Letterman: Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi, author of A Shore Thing (Gallery, $24, 9781451623741), who will read the top 10 list. Tomorrow morning she appears on the Today Show. She will not be on Wolf Blitzer's Situation Room.


Tonight on the Daily Show: Denis Leary, author of Suck on This Year: LYFAO @ 140 Characters or Less (Viking, $18, 9780670022892).


Tonight on the Colbert Report: Fen Montaigne, author of Fraser's Penguins: A Journey to the Future in Antarctica (Holt, $26, 9780805079425).


Tonight on the Late, Late Show with Craig Ferguson: Roseanne Barr, author of Roseannearchy: Dispatches from the Nut Farm (Gallery, $26, 9781439154823). Tomorrow she'll be on CBS's the Talk.


Tomorrow on the View: former Governor Tim Pawlenty, author of Courage to Stand: An American Story (Tyndale House, $26.99, 9781414345727).


Tomorrow on his own show, Glenn Beck discusses his book co-authored with Keith Ablow, The 7: Seven Wonders That Will Change Your Life (Threshold Editions, $24.99, 9781451625516).


Books & Authors

Awards: Story Prize Finalists; PNBA Winners

The finalists for the Story Prize, an annual award for books of short fiction, chosen from among 85 submissions, are:

Memory Wall by Anthony Doerr (Scribner)
Gold Boy, Emerald Girl by Yiyun Li (Random House)
Death Is Not an Option by Suzanne Rivecca (Norton)

At the Story Prize's annual event, to be held this year on Wednesday, March 2, at 7:30 p.m. at the New School's Tishman Auditorium in New York City, the three finalists will read selections from their work, after which Story Prize director Larry Dark will interview each writer. At the end of the event, Story Prize founder Julie Lindsey will announce the winner and present that author with $20,000 and an engraved silver bowl. The two runners-up will each receive $5,000.

Lindsey and Dark selected the finalists. The three independent judges who will determine the winner are:

Marie du Vaure, frontlist buyer at Copperfield's in Northern California since last September, who was head buyer at Vroman's, Pasadena, Calif., for eight years and earlier worked at several other independent bookstores in the Los Angeles area.

John Freeman, editor of Granta, book critic, author of The Tyranny of E-mail and former president of the National Book Critics Circle.

Author Jayne Anne Phillips, whose works include the short story collections Black Tickets and Fast Lanes. She is currently director of the MFA Program at Rutgers-Newark.


A committee of independent bookstore members of the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association have chosen four books from the shortlist as the winners of the 2011 Pacific Northwest Book Awards. The committee also gave a lifetime achievement award to Nancy Pearl for her Book Lust series (Sasquatch Books). The winners:

The Lonely Polygamist: A Novel by Brady Udall (Norton)
Matterhorn: A Novel of the Vietnam War by Karl Marlantes (Atlantic Monthly/El León Literary Arts)
Memory Wall by Anthony Doerr (Scribner)
River House: A Memoir by Sarahlee Lawrence (Tin House Books)


IndieBound: Other Indie Favorites

From last week's Indie bestseller lists, available at, here are the recommended titles, which are also Indie Next Great Reads:


The Radleys: A Novel by Matt Haig (Free Press, $25, 9781439194010). "The Radleys have secrets like other families, and one in particular that will rip your throat out. Matt Haig puts a wicked British twist on suburban family drama. Wry and racy, with the right fire in the blood to keep you turning pages late into the night, The Radleys is a story about a family tearing things apart. Come closer, there's something you need to see here!"--Geoffrey Jennings, Rainy Day Books, Fairway, Kan.

Toward the Setting Sun: John Ross, the Cherokees and the Trail of Tears by Brian Hicks (Atlantic Monthly Press, $26, 9780802119636). "Few have heard of John Ross, yet he is surely one of the 19th century's greatest heroes. In the face of a systematic and aggressive campaign to take Cherokee land, Ross defended his people with both ferocity and dignity. The taking of native lands, particularly the forced and deadly migration of the Cherokee people, is a tragic chapter in our nation's story. Brian Hicks is a skilled writer and historian and this work is enlightening, powerful, and highly recommended."--Christopher Rose, Andover Bookstore, Andover, Mass.


The Year of the Hare: A Novel by Arto Paasilinna (Penguin, $14, 9780143117926). "A modern day fable from one of Finland's most famous and popular authors, this books tells the story of a journalist and a hare. While on an assignment, Kaarlo Vatanen hits a hare with his car and breaks its leg. Rather than drive on, Vatanen rescues the hare and subsequently abandons his job, his wife, and all his possessions. Thus begins an adventure told in a funny, sweet, and loving parable of animal companions, rural life, and the rejection of modern consumer society."--Ellen Burns, Books on the Common, Ridgefield, Conn.

For Teen Readers

Five Flavors of Dumb by Antony John (Dial Books for Young Readers, $16.99, 9780803734333). "Is it possible for a functionally deaf girl to successfully manage a band whose music she can't hear? Piper has lived in the background most of her life until an unexpected moment of cockiness leads her to offer to get Dumb--a mediocre high school band--a paying job within one month. This turns her world upside down, threatening--and promising--to change everything. It is impossible not to root for both Piper and Dumb in this absolutely wonderful novel!"--Melissa Posten, Pudd'nHead Books, Webster Groves, Mo.

[Many thanks to IndieBound and the ABA!]


Book Review

Book Review: Being Polite to Hitler

Being Polite to Hitler by Robb Forman Dew (Little Brown and Company, $24.99 Hardcover, 9780316889506, January 2011)

Robb Forman Dew, winner of the National Book Award for Dale Loves Sophie to Death, is a wizard at elevating the mundane elements of everyday life to illuminate life itself. This is the third book in a trilogy, following The Evidence Against Her and The Truth of the Matter. The centerpiece of the trilogy is Agnes Scofield.

Set in the quintessential American small town of Washburn, Ohio, in 1953, Agnes's story is not an exciting one, but it turns out to be capable of surprising her. She has been widowed for many years, teaching to support her family and growing weary of it. One evening at a party, she slumps over on a sofa and her life is changed forever. There is nothing seriously wrong with her, but it is decided that she should not go back to the classroom--a blessed relief for Agnes. There is some talk about not being able to afford to quit working, but that somehow dithers away and she is, indeed, at home for the duration.

Her four children are all grown and in various stages of career-dom and, with their spouses, are more or less attentive to Agnes. Out of the blue, Agnes's old friend, Sam Holloway, proposes to her and, much to her surprise, she accepts. This marriage broadens her horizon considerably. Sam is a wealthy man and they are soon remodeling the Scofield home, going back and forth to Maine and making a life together that includes all the same people, but now they are a couple. Sam is whispered about as a homosexual; that word is mentioned once and never again. Dew does not enlighten the reader as to Sam and Agnes's domestic arrangements, a sensibility of the mid-'50s. She maintains the context perfectly.

While it may seem that, as in the show Seinfeld, nothing happens, of course that is not true. Agnes has a son who drinks too much and whose wife seeks refuge in the family home. Agnes returns from Maine to find her and her two daughters ensconced too frequently, but of course says nothing. Sputnik goes up in 1957 and "in just three days, America's idea of its place in the world had shifted; the country was thrust from the postwar era straight into the space age." All of Washburn watches the skies for a glimpse.

And the title? In keeping with her sense of time and place, Dew writes: "being polite to Hitler was the way the world worked. It was... what held society together, how people got through every single day.... Everyone he knew... held fast to propriety in the face of chaos, desperate etiquette in the face of despair and terror." What goes on underwater often does not show on the surface.--Valerie Ryan

Shelf Talker: A perfect rendition of life in small-town Ohio in the mid-'50s, showcasing a large family with a doughty matriarch who finds a new life with an old friend.


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