Shelf Awareness for Tuesday, January 25, 2011


Overlook Press: Burnt Sugar by Avni Doshi

Grand Central Publishing: What's Mine and Yours by Naima Coster

Columbia Global Reports: The Socialist Awakening: What's Different Now about the Left by John B Judis

Mira Books: Her Dark Lies by J T Ellison

Shadow Mountain: Ming's Christmas Wishes by Susan L Gong, illustrated by Masahiro Tateishi

Quotation of the Day

Book Tech: 'Horse Breeders Did Not Invent the Motorcar'

"Technological change is discontinuous. The monks in their scriptoria did not invent the printing press, horse breeders did not invent the motorcar, and the music industry did not invent the iPod or launch iTunes. Early in the new century book publishers, confined within their history and outflanked by unencumbered digital innovators, missed yet another critical opportunity, seized once again by Amazon, this time to build their own universal digital catalog, serving e-book users directly and on their own terms while collecting the names, e-mail addresses, and preferences of their customers. This strategic error will have large consequences."

--Jason Epstein in his review of Merchants of Culture: The Publishing Business in the Twenty-First Century by John B. Thompson (Polity) in the New York Review of Books.

 


Britannica Books: Britannica All New Kids' Encyclopedia: What We Know & What We Don't by Britannica Group, edited by Christopher Lloyd


News

Image of the Day: #wiNotTweetup


Some Boston-area book people who missed the Winter Institute held a consolation meeting last Saturday at Porter Square Books in Cambridge. The #wiNotTweetup (not #winoTweetup, as several mistakenly believed) featured two people who had just returned from the Winter Institute: NEIBA's Nan Sorensen and HarperCollins rep Anne DeCourcey, who talked about meetings with legislators, the educational programs and rep picks. DeCourcey brought along Hannah Pittard, author of The Fates Will Find Their Way (Ecco), a February book that will find its way, judging from the buzz at WI6. Here from l.: Sarah Rettger, who blogs at Archimedes Forgets; Hannah Pittard; and Katherine Fergason. Others at the party were Kari Patch of Harvard Books, Jen Deaderick, Marie Cloutier and Dawn Rennert of @concordBookshop.



GLOW: Flatiron Press: Tokyo Ever After by Emiko Jean


Notes: Last Day for Borders' Calendar Business


Borders Group is selling its Day by Day Calendar business to Calendar Holdings, Austin, Texas, the Detroit News reported. Day by Day includes 420 seasonal kiosks and temporary stores. The move is intended to generate more cash for the ailing retailer.

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Congratulations to Words, Maplewood, N.J., which has won the small business award part of the Disability Matters Awards. The Disability Matters Awards honor companies that "are leading the way in terms of supporting people who either have a disability or who have a child or other dependent with special needs in the workplace though diversity, work life and/or human resource initiatives and in marketing to this segment of the population in the consumer space." The award will be presented during the Disability Matters conference April 6 and 7 in San Jose, Calif.

Words is owned by Jonah and Ellen Zimiles, who have an autistic child. In part, their bookstore is "dedicated to the families in Maplewood that have a member with a developmental disability, and strive to help Maplewood become a model community of inclusion through our treatment of disabled customers and employees, especially those with autism."

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Trailer of the day: "Going Digital, Staying Classic," which features Open Road authors Pat Conroy, Andre Dubus, Stanley Elkin, John Gardner, Josephine Hart, Susan Minot and William Styron talking about the craft of writing.

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A logical companion piece for the Guardian's 10 best moustaches in literature (Shelf Awareness, January 24, 2011) would have to be Flavorwire's hirsute observation that Herman Melville employed 25 different words to describe beards in two chapters of White Jacket.

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Reading product placement. The Kobo e-reader made a guest appearance on last week's episode of the NBC comedy series The Office. One of the characters resolves to read more this year and "is introduced to the Kobo on a trip to a bookstore. While his co-workers Dwight and Andy are trying to fulfill their resolution to pick up women, Daryl speaks to a bookstore clerk about the Kobo. Expressing his fear of e-readers (the show is set in the offices of a paper company), Daryl is quickly sold on the fact that the eReader can fit 10,000 books. He is seen later in the episode reading it at the roller rink," the Digital Reader wrote.  

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U.K. chain bookstore Waterstone's named its "first annual list of 11 debut novelists expected to achieve critical and commercial success," Reuters reported. You can find the complete list here.

"We aspire to make the Waterstone's 11 one of the first major fixtures of the literary calendar, annually introducing our squad of authors en masse to the media, and supporting their titles as they are published," said Dominic Myer, the company's managing director.

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Literary mixtape for Ender Wiggin. This week's beneficiary of Flavorwire's music suggestions for some of literature's most interesting characters "has a lot on his shoulders. He was bred to be a warrior, born in the hope that he might be a combination of his two older siblings, harvested for his considerable natural talents and drafted into to Battle School while still a small child.... We think Ender would have spent his nights listening to half spacey, sad little boy music, half stalwart warrior songs. After all, he's probably the most advanced 6-year-old of all time. Here are the songs we think he’d calculate, strategize and defy gravity to."

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In the Random House Publisher Services sales and marketing group:

Chuck Errig has been promoted to v-p, imprint sales director. He has been at Random House for 20 years, working in children's production and telephone sales and, most recently, leading the imprint team.

Lane Jantzen has been named v-p, sales director.

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At Morrow/Avon:

Pamela Spengler-Jaffee has been promoted to senior director of publicity. Since joining HarperCollins in 2003, she has headed mass market publicity and earlier worked in agency pr.

Danielle Bartlett has been promoted to associate director of publicity. She started at HarperCollins in 2005 and has focused on mystery and thriller titles. She earlier worked in agency pr.

 


BINC: Help a Bookseller, Save a Bookstore - Give to BINC


WI6: Focus on New Business Models

Two back-to-back sessions on forging new business models at Winter Institute last week, led by American Booksellers Association COO Len Vlahos, offered a variety of examples of new initiatives and businesses, some of them mentioned by booksellers in the audience. At the first session, panelists spoke of a range of programs that have helped business:

Annie Philbrick of Bank Square Books hosts an authors lunch series that draws customers from as far away as Boston into her Mystic, Conn., store.

Jane Streeter of the Bookcase in Nottinghamshire, England, spoke about two festivals run by a separate division of the store--one for books and one for book-related films--that draw thousands to the 2,000-population hamlet.

Nancy Simpson of the Book Vault in Oskaloosa, Iowa, talked about how seven indie merchants hold Diva Days and Diva Nights for consumers looking to share a pampering experience while visiting a variety of retailers. Simpson said she was inspired by shop local efforts spotlighted at past Winter Institutes. The Book Vault--which is housed in a converted bank building--has also begun renting its space for bridal showers and has fashioned a kitchen store-within-a-store.

As the session opened up, it turned out booksellers were doing all kinds of things to expand business, too. Brazos Bookstore in Houston, Texas, rents its space for private parties, mostly to alumni clubs, Jane Moser pointed out. "The bookstore is open for them," she said. "But they bring their own bartender and cleanup crew."

Chuck Robinson said that Village Books in Bellingham, Wash., is working on a marketing partnership with its local Apple computer dealer to build a kiosk in the bookstore to sell iPads.

Sarah Hedrick, owner of Iconoclast Books in Ketchum, Idaho, described how a group of retailers jointly took over a 1,500-sq.-ft. space in Haley in a co-op "of sorts" that allows them to have a presence closer to Sun Valley's ski slopes without having to run full-fledged stores there. For less than $300 per month rent, the seven retailers stock 125 square feet. Minus bookkeeping and other fees, Hedrick said it more than pays for itself. "I don't have to staff it," she said, "and I replace the books at night."

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The second new business model session could have been called a tale of two booksellers--or, frogs, perhaps. Vlahos likened Roxanne Coady of R.J. Julia Booksellers, Madison, Conn., who has 21 years experience and has been a powerhouse in the business, to a frog sitting in a pot that slowly boils. (But happily she did not stay there!) Casey Coonerty Protti, he pointed out, was more like the frog thrown into a boiling pot when her father, Neal Coonerty, founder of Bookshop Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, Calif., turned to his daughter to take over when he was elected to public office.

Four years ago Coady took an eight-week leave of absence--which she called a great luxury--to examine R.J. Julia's future. She sensed that the industry was in a state of "remediation." Coady took the time to meet with advisors--from publishers to B&N's Riggio brothers (who were very gracious, she said) to industry outsiders, including Ron Johnson of Target and Apple. Coady came away with three observations: people would be buying fewer books from booksellers like R.J. Julia, new formats were emerging that might leave booksellers out and adding a new store would not help the "operational efficiency" of her business.

"The only thing we know how to do is put the right book into the right hand," said Coady. "So, we started 'Just the Right Book,' a book subscription service." A year later, the store continues to refine the program.

One of her conclusions: booksellers (herself included) need to evaluate their strengths and weaknesses continually. "When we don't do that, we end up sideways," she said.

When Protti took over the family business, the Harvard M.B.A. got right to work. "I met with every staff member to find out what their jobs were and to hear their ideas," she said. Then she began to do market surveys to assess a customer baseline. (All while having two kids.)

Protti discovered that Amazon, and not the Borders down the street, was Bookshop Santa Cruz's biggest rival. To counter Amazon, the store offered Ingram's direct-to-home service; searched for hard-to-find books; clarified what its website could offer, like shipping to the store to avoid Amazon shipping fees; and offered personalized recommendations.

"I realized I had to do an educational campaign about Amazon as much as I did about Borders," said Protti. In the end, acting on the finding that the average book buyer purchases four of every 10 books at indies, she asked the store's customers to take a "One More Book Pledge." That is, to pledge to buy a "fifth book" with them, still "letting" them buy half their books at Amazon or other places.

Coady called this approach brilliant. "You can't make people feel bad about things," she said. "Amazon works for them." But, as both store owners know, their customers want them to stay in business--and should be receptive to a little education.--Bridget Kinsella

 


University of California Press: Beethoven, a Life (1st ed.) by Jan Caeyers, translated by Brent Annable


Media and Movies

Media Heat: The Promise

This morning on Imus in the Morning: Douglas G. Brinkley, author of The Quiet World: Saving Alaska's Wilderness Kingdom, 1879-1960 (Harper, $29.99, 9780062005960).

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Tomorrow on the Today Show: Joanne Chang, author of Flour: Spectacular Recipes from Boston's Flour Bakery + Café (Chronicle, $35, 9780811869447).

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Tomorrow on Rachael Ray: David Tutera, author of My Fair Wedding: Finding Your Vision . . . Through His Revisions! (Gallery, $25, 9781439195390).

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Tomorrow on NPR's Diane Rehm Show: Kenneth Slawenski, author of J. D. Salinger: A Life (Random House, $27, 9781400069514).

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Tomorrow on MSNBC's Last Word with Lawrence ODonnell: Jonathan Karp, executive v-p and publisher of Simon & Schuster, discusses O: A Presidential Novel by Anonymous (Simon & Schuster, $25.99, 9781451625967). '

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Tomorrow night on the Daily Show: Jonathan Alter, author of The Promise: President Obama, Year One (Simon & Schuster, $16, 9781439101209).

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Tomorrow night on the Colbert Report: Michael Waldman, author of My Fellow Americans: The Most Important Speeches of America's Presidents, from George Washington to Barack Obama (Sourcebooks MediaFusion, $39.99, 9781402243677).

 


University of California Press: The Mwindo Epic from the Banyanga (1st ed.) edited by Daniel Biebuyck and Kahombo C Mateene


The Twelfth Imam

Joel C. Rosenberg, author of The Twelfth Imam (Tyndale, $26.99, 9781414311630), will be a featured guest in Glenn Beck's documentary Rumors of Wars, which is being released online tomorrow and will be available only to premium subscribers of Fox News's glennbeck.com. The documentary is about the Iranian nuclear program. Rosenberg's novel posits that Iranians wanting to achieve the end of days and the return of the 12th Imam will drop nuclear weapons on Israel.

 


Movies: Girls Like Us; Hopkins as Hitchcock?

Sony has hired John Sayles to adapt Girls Like Us: Carole King, Joni Mitchell, Carly Simon--and the Journey of a Generation by Sheila Weller. According to the Hollywood Reporter, "first-time feature director Katie Jacobs, a producer and director on the Fox series House, is helming and producing the project, along with Lorenzo DiBonaventura, Amy Pascal and Elizabeth Cantillon."

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Anthony Hopkins is "in talks" with Montecito Picture Co. to play the Master of Suspense in a film version Stephen Rebello's book Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho. Sacha Gervasi (Anvil! The Story of Anvil) may direct the John McLaughlin (Black Swan) script, the Hollywood Reporter wrote.

 



Books & Authors

Awards: T.S. Eliot Prize

Nobel Prize laureate Derek Walcott has won the T.S. Eliot Prize for Poetry for his collection White Egrets. Reuters reported that Walcott bested a shortlist of 10 writers that included previous Eliot winner Seamus Heaney.

"This year's exceptionally strong and varied shortlist made it difficult to choose the winner, but the judges felt that Derek Walcott's White Egrets was a moving, risk-taking and technically flawless book by a great poet," said Anne Stevenson, chair of the judging panel.

The Guardian noted that "Valerie Eliot, widow of T.S. Eliot, awarded Walcott £15,000 (US$24,000) at a ceremony at the Wallace Collection, London." The shortlist also included Brian Turner, Sam Willetts, Simon Armitage, Fiona Sampson, Pascale Petit, Annie Freud, John Haynes and Brian Robertson.

 


Attainment: New Titles Appearing Next Week

Selected new titles appearing next Tuesday, February 1:

Deep Black: Death Wave by Stephen Coonts and William H. Keith (St. Martin's, $25.99, 9780312671136) follows NSA operatives trying to stop a terrorist plot to cause a cataclysmic landslide in the Canary Islands.

Fatal Error: A Novel by J.A. Jance (Touchstone, $25.99, 9781416563815) is the sixth mystery with journalist-turned-police officer Ali Reynolds.

Never Say Die: The Myth and Marketing of the New Old Age by Susan Jacoby (Pantheon, $27.95, 9780307377944) refutes the misconception of carefree old age usually perpetuated by sellers of "anti-aging" products.

In Fire Forged: Worlds of Honor V by David Weber (Baen, $26, 9781439134146) continues the science fiction Honor Harrington series.

Silverlicious by Victoria Kann (HarperCollins, $17.99, 9780061781230) continues the Pinkalicious children's book series.

Delirium by Lauren Oliver (HarperCollins, $17.99, 9780061726828) takes place in a dystopian near future where love is considered a disease and is erradicated by mandatory medical procedures.

The Evolution of Bruno Littlemore by Benjamin Hale (Twelve, $25.99, 9780446571579) is the fictional memoir of a literate chimpanzee.

In the Valley of the Shadow: On the Foundations of Religious Belief by James L. Kugel (Free Press, $26, 9781439130094) explores the emotional roots of religious faith as felt by the author--a Harvard professor diagnosed with an aggressive type of cancer.

Live and Let Love: Notes from Extraordinary Women on the Layers, the Laughter, and the Litter of Love
by Andrea Buchanan (Gallery, $24, 9781439191354) is a collection describing women facing various hardships.

Little Princes: One Man's Promise to Bring Home the Lost Children of Nepal by Conor Grennan (Morrow, $25.99, 9780061930058) is the story of a 29-year-old's transformative experience volunteering in a Kathmandu orphanage.

Prayers and Lies by Sherri Wood Emmons (Kensington, $15, 9780758253248) is a debut novel, a coming of age story set in the Coal River Valley of West Virginia.

 


Book Review

Book Review: The Visiting Suit: Stories from My Prison Life

The Visiting Suit: Stories from My Prison Life by Xiaoda Xiao (Two Dollar Radio, $16.50 Paperback, 9780982015179, November 2010)

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When he was a 20-year-old college student, Xiaoda Xiao (The Cave Man) was declared a counter-revolutionary for ripping a poster of Chairman Mao. Without a trial, he was sent to a prison on an island in Taihu Lake, where he labored in a stone quarry for seven years.

From the opening scene, where children throw trash on the arrested people in the central square, The Visiting Suit depicts a China locked into a passionate conformism, where speaking out is horrifically punished. Quietly, without sensationalism, Xiao depicts a brutal world where walking hand-in-hand with a woman prisoner or stealing a couple of watermelons can bring brutal repercussions, where an inmate can be executed for what he shouts out in his dreams.

Abused and mistreated by both the guards and the other prisoners, forced to endure self-condemnation in nightly thought-reform courses, Xiao labors daily, dynamiting rock in a quarry where there are monthly fatalities, and sleeps in a barracks where there are silent battles to the death in the lavatory at night. The prisoners around him come to life in quick sketches: the former veterinarian driven to castrate himself; the director of an opera company turned in by his own wife; the handsome former propagandist volunteering for a gastrectomy he doesn't need; the crippled doorkeeper who decides to commit suicide with the woman he loves. We meet the new No. 55, replacing the No. 55 killed in the quarry. He's a fallen officer once higher than the highest authority there in the prison, a proud, furious man who won't speak a word, refusing to accept that he is a prisoner now, with a number instead of a name.

Xiao endures the horrors of solitary confinement and slowly becomes one of the quarry's top workers; seven years later, he walks out of prison--on the day the radios announce the death of Chairman Mao.

According to his publisher, Xiao's books arrive in English, self-translated in the author's passionate attempt to make his work known outside of China. Allowing for a few slips (heroin for heroine, steel for steal) and juggling over 100 character names, these stark, unadorned stories have a simple immediacy, composed with natural, everyday language for only one purpose: to tell you exactly what it was like.--Nick DiMartino

 


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