Shelf Awareness for Monday, January 30, 2006


Denene Millner Books/Simon & Schuster BFYR: Me & Mama by Cozbi A. Cabrera

Tor Books: Rhythm of War (Stormlight Archive, 4) by Brandon Sanderson

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers: The Inheritance Games by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Disney-Hyperion: The Mirror Broken Wish (Mirror #1) by Julie C. Dao

Basic Books: Dog-Eared: Poems about Humanity's Best Friend by Duncan Wu

Quotation of the Day

Smaller Fish in a Bigger Pond

"The reality is we live in a Wal-Mart ecosystem."--Bill Anderson, president and CEO of the CBA, speaking during CBA's Advance meeting last week with the AP (via the Southern Standard) about the difficulties faced by Christian booksellers. Although sales of Christian titles continue to grow, competition from general retailers and bookstore chains grows, too.


Berkley Books: The Ballad of Hattie Taylor by Susan Anderson


News

Abramoff Sells Remaining Store to Landlord

In another major move involving Tatnuck Bookseller, Larry Abramoff, who closed the main Worcester, Mass., Tatnuck store earlier this month (Shelf Awareness, January 4), has sold the remaining store, in Westborough, to a local businessman, Eugene S. Colangelo, according to the Worcester Telegram.

Colangelo is general partner of Colangelo Massachusetts Real Estate Trust, which leased the space in the Westborough Shopping Center to Tatnuck when it opened there in October 2004.

Colangelo told the paper he will continue to operate the 31,000-sq.-ft. store as Tatnuck Bookseller and will retain "all 20 employees." Encouragingly he said that he wanted the store to be "an entity that is beyond a retail store . . . a cultural center that will provide a venue for a wide variety of literary and cultural events." The "community is clamoring for a bookstore of this caliber," he continued. "It was a natural decision to keep the store running."

Abramoff is staying on as a consultant.


BINC: Book Auction to Benefit BINC - Click Here!


Grade for ABA's First Winter Institute: A+

The nearly 400 attendees at the Winter Institute held by the American Booksellers Association last Thursday and Friday in Long Beach, Calif., had nothing but praise for the event. The mood was relaxed but intense, and many remarked on how easy it was to talk shop and socialize. Several industry veterans went so far as to call it the best bookseller-oriented event they had ever attended.

Unlike the experience at BEA, there were few other distractions, and many booksellers enjoyed being the focus. One minor but telling example: at the Thursday lunch, publishers and media people were asked to wait a few minutes until booksellers found seats in the banquet hall. A bookseller commented on how nice it was to go to tables in the front of the room and not find all of them reserved for publishers.

The seminars, most of which were similar to ones presented at BEA, emphasized business principles, how to increase sales, and such current topics as buy local programs and what independents can learn from independent businesses in other industries. The popular What Are You Reading? lunch became a breakfast in Long Beach. A few authors were on hand to sign books at a cocktail party Thursday, and reps offered their picks of the lists. (Much of the cost of the event was subsidized by publishers and wholesalers.)

One of the most striking sessions was the Emerging Leaders late-evening meeting at which many people, young and old, discussed the difficulties younger booksellers encounter. Relatively low wages and a lack of room for advancement at many bookstores were familiar themes. But as expressed by passionate, articulate and intelligent booksellers, the problems took on a more personal, more powerful form. One particularly poignant moment came when a young buyer at a large independent said that at BEA and other gatherings, even her peers at comparable stores don't treat her with much respect. Of course, the problem of who will be "the next generation" of booksellers is all the more important nowadays because of the attractiveness of careers in other industries, particularly the Internet.

While there were many familiar booksellers at the Institute from across the country, a significant number (based on a show of hands) had never attended an ABA function or gone to BEA--and so the Institute accomplished one of its major objectives, which was to reach people who couldn't make it to BEA for financial or geographic reasons. In addition, more younger booksellers attended than at average bookseller events, and prospective booksellers from as far away as Chicago and Hawaii came, too.

There was no question that booksellers like the Winter Institute and want it to be repeated. (The registration of nearly 400 was more than double the 150 that ABA CEO Avin Domnitz said the organization had considered would be a "great amount.") Several ABA staff members said a Winter Institute would likely continue being held in a part of the country far from BEA's location that year. Ironically the ABA may be faced with an unforeseen challenge: how to keep a popular event from growing so big that it might lose its cozy, focused quality.

Kudos to ABA president Mitchell Kaplan for having the idea and to the ABA staff for pulling it off.

Shelf Awareness will run highlights from the Institute over the next few days, starting below with more information on John Rubin's Above the Treeline program.


University of California Press: Deviant Opera by Axel Englund


Notes: Snowed!; Store Changes; Textbook Bills

Cool idea of the day: Chester County Book & Music Co., West Chester, Pa., currently has a wintry window display under a banner reading "Snowed!" Decorated with bubble wrap ice and cotton snow, the display features titles that are, as bookseller Joe Drabyak put it, "a broad collection on cheats, scams, deceptions, misdirections and frauds. Believe me, between the Jayson Blair journalists, Fox News, Internet scams, ersatz memoirists and the Bush Administration, we were not lacking in feature materials."

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The owner of the Town Center in Corte Madera, Calif., has acknowledged that Barnes & Noble will open a 27,000-sq.-ft. store in the mall, in October, according to the Marin Independent Journal. When the store opens, the 10,000-sq.-ft B&N across Highway 101 will close. The Town Center is a block from Book Passage, which in the past weeks has argued strenuously against B&N's move (Shelf Awareness, January 25).

In that vein, Bill Petrocelli, co-owner of Book Passage, told the paper, "I don't think it's good for Marin County. This is a national chain that has been targeting independent stores for 20 years or more. They are aiming their sights at us."

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MacGuffin: The Graphic Novel Bookshop has opened in the Shoppes at Oyster Point in Newport News, Va., according to the Virginian Pilot. Owned by Sam Hobart, MacGuffin specializes in graphic novels, comics, alternative comics and manga as well as features a rotating display of prints.

MacGuffin is located at 340 Oyster Point Rd., Suite 103, Newport News, Va. 23602; 757-249-1481; macguffin@cox.net.

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The movie Nanny McPhee, starring Emma Thompson and based on the Nurse Matilda tales (Shelf Awareness, January 24), corralled a healthy $14.1 million in tickets over the weekend, making it the No. 2 movie in the U.S. for the period. The movie opened in the U.K. 15 weeks ago, and has grossed almost $36 million internationally.

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Complicating its proposed takeover of Ottakar's, HMV Group, owner of Waterstone's, has itself been approached as a takeover target, according to Bloomberg. The suitor is private equity fund Permira.

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NACS's CM Bulletin reviews a range of bills introduced in state legislatures--in Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Oklahoma, Virginia and Washington--to make college textbooks more affordable for students. Approaches include starting rental programs, waiving sales taxes and unbundling packages.

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Barnes & Noble College Booksellers, which manages bookstores on 23 Penn State campuses, has given $200,000 to the Penn State IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon (THON) that last year raised $4.1 million to fight pediatric cancer, Penn State Live reported.

THON typically attracts about 700 students for 48 continuous hours of no-sitting, no-sleeping dancing.

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Barbara O'Grady, a former chef, is in the process of buying Adventures for Kids, the Ventura, Calif., children's books, music and video store that Jody Fickes Shapiro has run for years. O'Grady has raised seed money from friends, and Shapiro and her husband are carrying a note. "Details are being hammered out," O'Grady told Shelf Awareness.

O'Grady has been working at the store since September, learning the business from Shapiro, who has offered to continue writing the store's newsletter. O'Grady noted that the store's customers, many of whom feel quite proprietary about it, were very happy that Adventures for Kids is not closing.

She added that there are some similarities between her old career and bookselling. As at the Winter Institute, she said, her old industry gatherings involved budgeting matters and people passionate about their profession. "And a lot of chefs are writers!"

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The Baltimore Sun shone on the Wise Willow, a children's toy and book shop near the capitol in Annapolis, Md. The store was opened in 2003 by Neely Kennedy, a former librarian, and Abby Brown, a former architect, who bring their small children to work with them.

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The Fort Myers, Fla., public library celebrates its 50th anniversary with plans to put up a new building in the next few years, according to the Fort Myers News-Press. The library has come a long way since its first incarnation in a donated home so small that "only a few people could fit inside at once."

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For a peek at the draft of the new strategic plan for the New England Booksellers Association and president Allan Schmid's introduction, click here.

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Black & White Books, the used bookstore in Reno, Nev., closed on Saturday, the Reno Gazette-Journal reported. Owners Roman and Wendy Hruska, who bought the 12-year-old store in 2001, are planning to go to business school and raise their young sons, respectively.


G.P. Putnam's Sons: This Time Next Year by Sophie Cousens


Spartan Spat: Competitor Arrested Leafleting Outside Store

For about an hour, the San Jose State University Police Department "detained two employees from Beat the Bookstore Tuesday for passing out commercial fliers and t-shirts in front of the Spartan Bookstore," the San Jose State University Spartan Daily reported. "Thomas Pack, an attorney and assistant manager of Beat the Bookstore, was arrested and later released. He was cited and released for solicitation on campus without authorization, and resisting and delaying a peace officer." Another store employee who also happens to be a staff member of the Spartan Daily was detained for handing out leaflets but was released without being charged.

Pack complained to the paper that before the police arrived, no one from the Spartan Bookstore notified him that he and the employee might be breaking the law. The bookstore said that the school has a "no solicitation policy for commercial purposes."

This Beat the Bookstore franchise opened last December.


Media and Movies

Media Heat: Weight Watchers, a Shakespearean Voice

Today the Today Show converses with Deborah Tannen about her new book, You're Wearing That?: Understanding Mothers and Daughters in Conversation (Random House, $24.95, 1400062586).

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The Early Show digs into the new Weight Watchers book, Weight Watchers Family Power: 5 Simple Rules for a Healthy-Weight Home (Wiley, $22.95, 0471771023).

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Today on the Leonard Lopate Show:

  • Julian Barnes discusses his new novel, Arthur and George (Knopf, $24.95, 030726310X).
  • Margo Jefferson talks about Jacko, the subject of her new book, On Michael Jackson (Pantheon, $20, 0375423265).
  • Andrew Wade, former head of voice for the Royal Shakespeare Company and a contributor to Sourcebooks's editions of Shakespeare's Othello ($14.95, 1402201028) and Romeo & Juliet ($14.95, 140220101X), voices his opinions.

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Today Gail Godwin, whose new book is Queen of the Underworld (Random, $24.95, 0345483189), grants an audience to Diane Rehm.

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Today on All Things Considered, Charles Fishman offers a special on The Wal-Mart Effect: How the World's Most Powerful Company Really Works (Penguin, $25.95, 1594200769).

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Today the Charlie Rose show welcomes a confident Donny Deutsch, host of the Big Idea with Donny Deutsch and author of Often Wrong, Never in Doubt (HarperCollins, $24.95, 006056718X).



Books & Authors

Fact Checking Fray; New Hook for Memoir-Like Fiction

Reluctantly we offer the "latest" million little pieces involving James Frey.

Continuing its steady reporting on the fray, the New York Times shifted focus to "two main characters in the drama," Kassie Evashevski and Sean McDonald, Frey's literary agent and editor, respectively, neither of whom has spoken publicly about the matter.

Morgan Entrekin of Grove/Atlantic summed up the questions of many this way: "I want to know, where is Kassie in this? What did she know and when did she know it? And how could Sean McDonald not have had questions about this book?"

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In the Times and in this morning's Wall Street Journal, many in the business affirmed that most publishers will not be able to fact check like some newspapers and magazines, although they will, of course, be more careful in the future--at least for a while.

In the Journal, Random House's Stuart Applebaum said that verifying facts in nonfiction books would be "a very daunting challenge regardless of the economics involved" but that first-time memoirists, especially "those with highly melodramatic, uncorroborated life narratives," will be given extra scrutiny.

Similarly Wendy Strothman, an agent and former Houghton Mifflin v-p, offered the Boston Globe what she called "the smell test." Her explanation: ''With everyone I have signed up for a memoir, I have a long conversation with them before taking them on, to see if I trust them."

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And now a book gets publicity for its author's integrity: today's Times features The Ruins of California by Martha Sherrill (Penguin Press), a novel about her father, Peter Sherrill, that began as a memoir--until she stumbled onto a secret that "reflected really well on him," she said. "But it was something that just couldn't ever be put in a book." And so she re-sold the book as a novel. (Amazingly Sherrill is paying back Random House the advance for her original nonfiction book proposal.)


Deeper Understanding

More Booksellers See Value Above the Treeline

Above the Treeline, the online "tool in managing inventory that has never existed before," as ABA CEO Avin Domnitz put it, was the hot, new thing at the Winter Institute for the many booksellers unfamiliar with it. Above the Treeline had nearly 100 ABA member stores signed up before the event; based on bookseller reaction, that number will grow substantially this week.

Before a large crowd, founder John Rubin said that Above the Treeline "leverages the collective power of independents," giving them the kind of information chain stores gather from their many hundreds of stores across the country.

Every day Above the Treeline collects sales information from stores' POS systems and puts it into a "more visual, easily readable format." The data, he continued, allows booksellers to assess "where they are strong and where they are weak and then take action."

Users can compare their store inventory to what's selling at other participating booksellers. The single-most important bit of information that Above the Treeline provides, Domnitz said, is "what's selling in other places that can sell in your store."

Also nine of the 11 largest U.S. publishers are involved in Above the Treeline. With a store's permission, a publisher can check its own inventory in that store (but not other publishers') and use that information to make sales suggestions to the stores. Domnitz called this a common dynamic in most industries, where manufacturers and retailers act as partners in managing the supply chain.

Above the Treeline also has about 175 CBA stores as members although their sales information is shared separately from that collected from ABA members. Rubin, the son of Roberta Rubin, owner of the Bookstall at Chestnut Court, Winnetka, Ill., founded the company four years ago. A few member stores at the Institute recommended the program highly; one even said it had the best customer service of any company she had ever worked with.

Just before the Winter Institute began, the ABA and Above the Treeline formally sealed a deal whereby the ABA and Above the Treeline will pay setup fees (usually around $1,500) for current and future ABA members, and Above the Treeline will offer up to a 10% discount on monthly fees, which range from $50 to $350, depending on store sales volume.


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