Shelf Awareness for Friday, January 28, 2011


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

Flatiron Books: American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins

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

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

Scribner Book Company: Follow Me to Ground by Sue Rainsford

Minotaur Books: The Woman in the Mirror by Rebecca James

Quotation of the Day

An 'Idea of Paradise'

"In a good used bookstore, looking means buying. At least for me. Honestly, I have no idea what all this fuss is over e-books and Kindle: My idea of paradise is endless hours browsing in bookstores run by book buyers who know something about good literature and great presses. Heaven is losing hours carefully moving one pile of books aside to expose other rows of books, in search of the book I forgot I wanted, or never knew about before now, or never saw in such a good-looking font."

--Karen Lillis, writing in her Karen the Small Press Librarian blog about visiting three bookstores in Washington, D.C.: Fantom Comics in Union Station, Kramerbooks & Afterwords and Kulturas Books.

 


Berkley Books: Master Class by Christina Dalcher


News

Image of the Day: Sundance Swag

For the first time at the Sundance Film Festival, which ends on Sunday, books were available in the gifting suites courtesy of the Good Books Good Cause literacy campaign, founded by Media Muscle president Meryl L. Moss. A range of titles were featured, aiming to remind readers that "despite the technical maelstrom that surrounds us, books still light up our imagination--and for nearly a hundred years they have motivated filmmakers to produce some of the greatest movies of all time." Good Books Good Cause will donate money to Charter Oak Challenge Foundation, a Connecticut organization that bridges the academic achievement gap of at-risk students by funding relevant educational, after-school and community outreach programs. At Sundance, Kiptyn Locke of ABC's Bachelor Pad and The Bachelorette's Tenley Molzahn cozy up to You're Grounded Forever... But First Let's Go Shopping by Susan Shapiro Barash and The Emperor's Tomb by Steve Berry.

 


Scribner Book Company: Follow Me to Ground by Sue Rainsford


Borders Gets Tentative Commitment for New Credit

Borders Group appeared to win a stay of execution yesterday, although it still faces tremendous financing hurdles. The ailing retailer received a tentative commitment from GE Capital for $550 million in credit that will "provide Borders with the financial flexibility and an appropriate level of liquidity to move forward with its strategy to reposition its business model and the Borders brand," as the company put it.

But the credit is contingent on Borders securing $175 million of senior credit facility with other lenders as well as $125 million of junior debt financing with other lenders or "certain vendors"--that is, publishers, who surprisingly enough do not seem interested in taking on Borders debt instead of being paid.

The company warned that even though it is "doing everything possible to maintain its long-term and valued relationships with our vendors and publishers," it continues to "explore alternative avenues, including the possibility of an in-court restructuring," i.e., bankruptcy.

GE Capital is also requiring Borders to finalize a program to close underperforming stores; complete "supporting financing arrangements" with vendors, landlords and other financing parties; and more.

"This is an important step for Borders toward implementation of its comprehensive plan to reposition itself as a vibrant national retailer of books and other related products to the consumer," Borders Group president Mike Edwards said. "We strongly believe that, based on our business strategy, Borders will be able to transform its business to capitalize on the evolving reading marketplace and perform as a best-in-class destination and shopping experience for consumers."

Borders's plan for the future has five key parts, it said, including expanding and enhancing the Borders Rewards Plus program; "aggressively growing" Borders.com and e-book market share; expanding the retail mix, "including non-book offerings"; "aggressively" reducing costs "across the business, including costs in the supply chain network and store portfolio"; and making "strategic investments in IT to improve the customer experience."

Wall Street liked the news. In after-hours trading, Borders stock rose 36%, to $1.10.

The GE Capital senior secured credit facility would mature in 2014 and replace the company's existing revolving senior credit and term loan facilities.

Two publishers expressed deep reservations about Borders and its plan to have them take interest-bearing promissory notes instead of payment for their books. One told Reuters, "In order to accept the note, you have to believe that their strategy will work, but their strategy is to continue doing what they've been doing."

The other said, "They haven't shared a plan that makes their long-term future look more sustainable than of late. [The promissory note proposal] compromises our relationships with other customers. Also, we aren't bankers to our customers."

Borders's two largest shareholders--hedge fund owner William Ackman and Borders chairman and CEO Bennett LeBow--have not indicated any intent to invest more money in the company.

 


KidsBuzz for the Week of 10.21.19


Notes: Amazon's Fourth Quarter; Banned Books to Tunisia

In the fourth quarter ended December 31, net sales at Amazon.com rose 36%, to $12.95 billion, and net income rose 8%, to $416 million. Because the substantial increase was lower than analysts' expectations of more than $13 billion, Amazon's shares dropped 9.8% in after-hours trading to $166.29 a share, after having risen 5.2% to $184.45 during the day. As Sandeep Aggarwal, an analyst at Caris and Co., told the Wall Street Journal, "It's disappointing because we were expecting that investment spending will come down now, but it clearly hasn't."

Among the tidbits of news Amazon revealed, typically without solid numbers:

  • Kindle books have now "overtaken paperback books as the most popular format," even as paperback sales have continued to grow. Amazon is selling 115 Kindle books for every 100 paperbacks. The company had thought this point would not be reached until the second quarter of this year.
  • In the quarter, Amazon sold three times as many Kindle books as hardcovers.
  • The U.S. Kindle store has more than 810,000 e-books, 670,000 of which retail for $9.99 or less. The company also offers millions of free public-domain titles.
  • North American sales rose 45%, to $7.21 billion.
  • Media sales in North America rose 12.9%, to $2.37 billion.
  • International sales rose 26%, to $5.74 billion.
  • International media sales rose 11%, to $2.86 billion.

---

The inventory at Al Kitab Bookshop, "situated in the heart of Tunis, just across the street from the imposing gray interior ministry," was under strict censorship during the regime of recently deposed Tunisian president Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, the Irish Times reported.

Things have changed quickly. Books about Ben Ali, his wife Leila Trabelsi, political repression, Islamism and corruption in the regime are now available. Al Kitab's owner Selma Jabbes "is still awaiting delivery of its first order of banned books from Europe; those in the window were donated by readers and put on display 'to give an idea of how we suffered here,' " the Times wrote.

Jabbes said the shop was watched closely by authorities: "All the spies were here regularly. We sometimes had books taken even after they were authorized, and we had regular visits to check that we weren't hiding banned books."

---

So it's not Stephen Colbert. Anonymous, the author of O: A Presidential Novel, published this week by Simon & Schuster, is Mark Salter, a former speechwriter for Senator John McCain, Time magazine reported yesterday. Among other "in-plain-sight" clues, Time said, are that S&S publisher Jonathan Karp worked with Salter on several McCain books; Karp's descriptions of Anonymous match Salter; and Anonymous tells a story that only a high-level McCain campaigner would know.

Neither Salter nor S&S would comment, according to the New York Times.

---

Patti Smith's follow-up to her National Book Award-winning memoir, Just Kids, will be a mystery novel. The Guardian reported that she said, "For the last two years... I've been working on a detective story that starts at St Giles-in-the-Fields in London." The rocker cited Sherlock Holmes and Mickey Spillane as inspirations.

---

Book trailer of the day: The Book of Freaks by Jamie Iredell (Future Tense Books). This trailer was created by Bryan Coffelt and Brian Smith, two students at the Portland State University publishing program. The book is being published in March by Kevin Sempsell, who also works at Powell's Books and whose memoir, A Common Pornography, was published by Harper Perennial last year.

---

In a column for the Atlantic distributed by the Century Foundation, Peter Osnos, founder and editor-at-large of PublicAffairs, reminds us that Judge Denny Chin has yet to accept or reject the Google Book Settlement, reached more than two years. He wrote:

"Whatever the outcome, the original settlement and its revisions remain a landmark in the dizzying transformation of information from the traditional means of delivery of printed material to today's increasingly digital options. Why? Because Google originally argued that it had the right, which it declared was a public service, to digitize everything without regard to paying the content creators of copyrighted material. Once Google conceded that was not the case in the 2008 agreement, that particular contention was resolved.

"In certain respects, however, technology and commerce have overtaken the original dispute. Digitized books can be programmed so that they cannot be copied or printed more than once, which limits the notion of a free-for-all in which authors and publishers lose control of the material. Many books in the public domain (the vast majority of works that have been digitized) are increasingly available from a variety of sources, which reduces Google's omnipotence. Given the extraordinary growth in the use of e-book reading devices (which were barely a factor when the lawsuits against Google were originally filed), the interests of authors and publishers have shifted to getting a fair share of revenues rather than the prospect of receiving no revenues at all."

---

"What will the publishing industry look like after 10 more years of advancing technology?" SF Signal asked a few writers, editors, critics and publishers in the sci-fi industry. A sampling of their predictions:

"The chain stores are almost certainly toast, but the surviving independent stores will be able to compete as they always have--with a curatorial selection rather than an exhaustive one," author Nick Mamatas predicted. "If you live on the coasts or in a college town here in the U.S., you'll have nice, clean bookstores to go to. If you don't, you'll have a kiosk in a shopping mall with a POD machine and some sort of instant download station."

Lou Anders, editorial director of Prometheus Books' Pyr imprint, anticipates "a vast sea of drek (some of it incredibly popular) with a smaller number of truly magnificent works (some of it incredibly popular) and a wealth of 'good stories well told. I'm not being flippant. E-books don't spell the death of publishing, though we are in a watershed moment. In ten years, e-books will be the dominant form of book, and, of course, some books won't even have print editions. But it's always been about the content, not the delivery mechanism."

---

USA Today noted that 23 of the top 50 books on its bestseller list sold more digital versions than print, "the highest number yet this year."

---

If you missed Lewis Carroll's 178th birthday yesterday, you can still celebrate by checking out Flavorwire's "The Evolution of Alice in Wonderland: A Book Cover Odyssey," which looks back at more than 100 years of Alice covers.

---

Ariana Paliobagis, the new owner of Country Bookshelf, Bozeman, Mont. (Shelf Awareness, January 20, 2011), told Bookselling This Week about her plans for the store, where she has worked for five years as a bookseller. "The store is in beautiful shape; we have a great selection; and I have an incredible staff of really dedicated booksellers," Paliobagis said. Still she plans "to bring the store into the 21st century" by expanding its online presence. In the past two years, she had created a website, opened a Twitter account and started an e-mail list. Soon she aims to sell e-books via Google eBooks.

---

North Baltimore Patch has published a series of q&a interviews with six current and former bookstore owners in Baltimore: Rupert Wodolowski, owner of Normal's Books and Record; Benn Ray, co-owner of Atomic Books; Kate Khatib, co-owner of Red Emma; Kevin Johnson, owner of Royal Books; Stan Modjesky, owner of Book Miser, which closed in 2004; and Susan Weis-Bohlen, owner of breathe books.

Weis-Bohlen drew a nice distinction between chain and independent bookstores: "Small bookstores can change very quickly. When we see the tide rising or receding, we can act swiftly to make changes--reduce inventory, increase the mix of books and gifts, add more special events to draw people to us. Stores that react slowly to change are usually the ones that don't make it. We constantly have to have our eyes open, scanning the horizon, and knowing what people want and how to bring it to them."

---

Pets publisher TFH Publications and Discovery Communications have renewed for five years their co-branding publishing agreement, adding these two new products:
 
Animal Planet Complete Guide books on a specific pet topic. The first, Animal Planet Complete Guide to Dog Care, appears next month.
 
Dogs 101, a series of books based on the spirit of Animal Planet's successful TV show. Eight breed-specific Dogs 101 titles will be released in 2011, beginning in July.

 


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


WI6: PR and Social Media

As traditional media continues to transform, booksellers grapple with what publicity efforts work and are worth the effort, the focus of a panel discussion on social media at the Winter Institute last week. "The stuff that used to work just isn't working anymore," said Stephanie Anderson, manager of WORD, Brooklyn, N.Y. "It's not like traditional advertising and PR has great follow-through rates so what could it possibly hurt try another thing that might not work?"

By listening to what booksellers and publishers and people in the community about what information they value, Anderson suggested bookstores could create a social media presence that works for them.

"It's like an ongoing focus group," observed the panel moderator, ABA's Meg Smith.

"The counterintuitive thing about social media is that it tends to be slightly haphazard," said Jessica Stockton-Bagnulo, co-owner of Greenlight Bookstore in Brooklyn. "It's an organic thing, which means it's a lot messier."

Calling herself "the grandmother of media," Mary Gay Shipley of That Bookstore in Blytheville in Arkansas said she had recently hired a staffer to help the 35-year-old store navigate the social media landscape. Still, Shipley knows that any kind of PR message begins with two questions: "Who are you talking to? And what are you trying to do with this piece of information?"

Anderson agreed that social media is not only a haphazard medium, but also one that calls for authenticity. "The difference between PR and social media is that you have to really mean it," she said. "Press release language doesn't work; in fact, it is absolutely repellent." On Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr (which is gaining popularity), rules and best practices are still being worked out, Anderson and Stockton-Bagnulo said.

"It's not about the technology," said Stockton-Bagnulo, "it's really, really not. Just keep doing what you do." She said that the key to social media is building coverage in all sources--and no source, from a customer blogger to a traditional news venue, is too small. "It's part of the slow build," she said.

Stockton-Bagnulo knows first hand about the slow build: she started talking about and blogging about opening Greenlight years before it was a reality and the media--including the New York Times--came calling. The circle of buzz about the store "kept spreading," she added. "Of course, it helps if you're a ham." Also the media were poised to write about a positive bookstore story.

At WORD Anderson said she first started Tweeting and Facebook posting about the store because she wanted to know what other people in Greenpoint were interested in. When the media read about the store's matchmaking board and basketball league, they jumped on a couple of stories ready made through social media.

"Journalists are essentially lazy," she said. [Editor's note: Hey!] Bookstores that present stories instead of issuing press releases have a better chance of getting a journalist's attention, she continued. Social media helps build the buzz--even if there is no way to measure its immediate effect.

So how much time should a bookseller spend on social media? Anderson said the store's owner asks her that "on a regular basis." Getting started in social media takes a little time, Anderson admitted, but "it becomes like using your phone on a work day."

Stockton-Bagnulo measures her social media efforts in intervals of seconds. "It's not like a chunk of extended time," she said. Finding someone on staff (that may or may not be the manager or owner) who enjoys communicating through social media is key, the panelists agreed, because they will do it effectively and efficiently.

Anderson mentioned Green Apple Books in San Francisco, Calif., which is noted for its YouTube videos and online presence. Co-owner Pete Mulvihill, who attended the session, said the videos did not come out of some strategic plan. "We just let the Sunday night crew make a goofy video for the book of the month," he said. "When we do a book of the month video, we sell more copies than when we don't." Letting the store's personality come through, he said, was important.

Anderson suggested that booksellers already have a community that is invested in its success and should tap into the resources of customer bloggers and social media mavens to help spread the word of their stores. When it comes to PR, she said social media turns "the whole thing on its head."

At the end of the session, Smith said she wished she and the panelists had come up with 10 social media tips that work instead of suggesting booksellers try things and see what sticks, like throwing spaghetti against a wall. But perhaps that is a most apt metaphor in a medium that it still figuring itself out.--Bridget Kinsella

 


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


G.L.O.W. - Galley Love of the Week
Be the first to have an advance copy!
The Last Flight
by Julie Clark

In Julie Clark's propulsive debut, The Last Flight, Claire Cook has a seemingly fairy-tale life with her Kennedy-esque husband, Rory. In private, however, he's terrifyingly abusive. Claire intends to leave him by getting on a plane with a forged identity and disappearing, but Rory thwarts her plans, leaving her in desperation at the airport. Miraculously, a stranger named Eva--who's also on the run--suggests she and Claire swap identities and itineraries, but each woman then finds herself in situations possibly deadlier than the one she's running away from. "I was blown away by [how] Julie cleverly executed several twists," says Shana Drehs, Sourcebooks Landmark's editorial director. "And by female characters who are neither unreliable nor unstable, but smart, strong and fighting for what's theirs." --Elyse Dinh-McCrillis

(Sourcebooks Landmark, $26.99 hardcover, 9781728215723,
June 2, 2020)

CLICK TO ENTER


#ShelfGLOW
Shelf vetted, publisher supported

 


Media and Movies

Media Heat: The Black History of the White House

Today on the Tavis Smiley Show: Clarence Lusane, author of The Black History of the White House (City Lights Publishers, $19.95, 9780872865327).

---

Tomorrow on NPR's Chef Table: Grace Young, author of Stir-Frying to the Sky's Edge (Simon & Schuster, $35, 9781416580577).

 


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


New Photo from Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows: Part 2

What are they looking at? BuzzFeed showcased a new movie still from Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows: Part 2.

 


Television: The Mystery of Edwin Drood

Charles Dickens couldn't do it for reasons of mortality, but Gwyneth Hughes did. BBC News reported that Hughes completed Dickens's unfinished novel The Mystery of Edwin Drood, giving the work a new ending for the BBC Four drama that will be screened later this year.

Dickens died in 1870 before completing the story, but gave his friend and biographer John Forster a brief outline of the tale. The adaptation "forms part of a season of programs on TV and radio to celebrate the printed word for the BBC's Year Of Books," BBC News wrote.




Books & Authors

Awards: Oregon Book Awards Shortlists

Finalists for the 2010/11 Oregon Book Awards were were named this week. You can see the complete list of nominees here. The awards will be presented April 25, with Kurt Andersen, author and host of public radio's Studio 360, serving as master of ceremonies, the Oregonian reported

 


Book Brahmin: Barbara D'Amato

 

Barbara D'Amato is from Grand Rapids, Mich., and has lived in Chicago for many years. She's worked as an assistant tiger handler, a surgical orderly, a carpenter for stage magic illusions, legal researcher and taught mystery writing courses for Chicago police officers. D'Amato won the first Mary Higgins Clark Award, and has also won the Carl Sandburg Award for Fiction, the Anthony (the award of the Bouchercon World Mystery Convention) twice, the Agatha twice, the Macavit, and several other writing awards. Her latest book is Other Eyes (Forge, January 18, 2011).

 

On your nightstand now:

A Strange Affair by Peter Robinson. 

Favorite book when you were a child:

All of the Oz books, especially The Magic of Oz and The Royal Book of Oz. They are even more inventive than The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.

Your top five authors:

Agatha Christie, L. Frank Baum, Alistair MacLean, Ellery Queen and Charles Dickens. I've named five dead authors because I have dozens and dozens of favorite living crime writers and I wouldn't know how to leave any of them out.

Book you've faked reading:

Never happened. I guess I'm too compulsive.

Book you're an evangelist for:

The Choirboys by Joseph Wambaugh. Poignant and hilariously funny.

Book you've bought for the cover:

I haven't done that, either. But I read a little bit of the jacket copy--not too much, in case it gives away too much.

Book that changed your life:

Agatha Christie's Murder on the Orient Express. I was quite sick when I read it, and the puzzle took me away from how awful I felt. It was the first mystery I read, and they've been a big part of my life ever since.

Favorite line from a book:

" 'Shut up,' he explained."--from The Young Immigrunts by Ring Lardner.

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

Any of Agatha Christie's Poirot books.

 


Book Review

Book Review: Separate Beds

Separate Beds by Elizabeth Buchan (Viking Books, $26.95 Hardcover, 9780670022366, January 2011)

Tom and Annie Nicholson are presiding over the remains of their marriage, occupying separate bedrooms and separate lives. Five years previously, their eldest daughter, Mia, left the house, saying that she could "tolerate no longer the smugness, the insensitivity, the lifestyle," and wished to never see them again. Tom invited her to leave and never come back. She hasn't, and Annie has never forgiven Tom. Mia was operating under the influence of the scruffy Pete, every parent's nightmare boyfriend, but she still hasn't communicated or come home.

Mia's absence weighs heavily on her parents; her twin, Jake; and her sister, Emily--but that isn't all that's wrong in the family. Jake married Jocasta in a big hurry because she was pregnant. Now, with daughter Maisie a year old, Jocasta has had enough of mothering and informs Jake that she is leaving for Manhattan with Noah, a wealthy banker. Jake, devastated and broke, packs up Maisie and moves back home. Tom, a big gun at BBC World Service for years, loses his job; his mother Hermione's assets have dwindled to the point where she can no longer afford to stay in her assisted-living facility.

It's a perfect storm, set against the economic collapse in Great Britain. Jake is a fine furniture maker whose client base is gone; Tom is suddenly "redundant," and Emily has had to give up her authorial dreams to become a copywriter, and is lucky enough to find a job doing it. This leaves Annie, a hospital administrator, as the breadwinner for a housefull, jammed to the gunnels suddenly with a son, a granddaughter and a rather shrewish mother-in-law, in addition to herself, Tom and Emily. Tom gives up his room to his mother and moves back in with Annie.

The compromises, sacrifices and accommodations that these disparate people make are absolutely believable, as are the horrendous things they say to each other. They are all desperate in one way or another and finally begin to realize that there is some solace to be found--even before the new job is in the bag--in telling the truth. Annie unloads on Tom about his always putting work first; Emily says she was never the favored child because she wasn't a twin and Mia was the sparkling one; and Jake never felt his father's approval. Garden-variety stuff, but in Buchan's capable hands--remember Revenge of the Middle-Aged Woman and Consider the Lily--it all becomes a cathartic experience, as all hands help navigate these turgid waters of disappointment and discontent until--and if--the world gets back on its axis. And, finally, Mia is heard from again.--Valerie Ryan

Shelf Talker: Family, expectations, love lost and found again, making practical choices when exigency demands it--all are present in Buchan's portrait of current affairs in upper-middle-class England.

 


Deeper Understanding

Robert Gray: Bookstores Don't Have Friends; Booksellers Do

Tonight we are pleased to welcome (insert author's name here), who's been a friend of the bookstore for many years.

Here's a confession: When I was a bookseller, I invoked "friend of the bookstore" far too many times. It's one of those phrases we use during author introductions because it sounds so good, and is often followed by the visiting writer's generous expression of gratitude as well as--sometimes--a heartfelt paean to indie bookstores.

Long before Facebook devalued "friend," I struggled with the concept of bookstore friends. Frontline booksellers, book buyers, events coordinators or bookshop owners can claim friendship with authors, but bookstores--bricks, mortar, shelving, cash registers--have fans. It's about people, not semantics.
    
Bookstores don't read books. Booksellers do.

This week I'll tell you a friend-of-booksellers story. Since the Northshire Bookstore, Manchester Center, Vt., was the place where I said "friend of the bookstore" occasionally for more than a decade, it seems an appropriate setting for our tale. Now all we need are some characters, so let's cast Jon Clinch, author most recently of the excellent novel Kings of the Earth, as the writer, with Erik Barnum and Karen Frank as the booksellers.

Once upon a time (let's call it 2007), an ARC arrived at a bookshop, as often happens in the beginning of author-bookseller friendship stories.

Karen recalls that she "noticed a galley by a debut author with an intriguing cover and the snappy title of Finn [featuring Huckleberry Finn's 'Pap'] in the buying office. I have always been greedy for fiction by a new author and dove right in. I had never read anything like it. I was shocked and thrilled. After passing it on to fellow booksellers Nancy, Liz and Erik, we began to discuss the novel and agreed that we all needed to get behind this book. And we did, using individual shelf talkers, a group shelf talker (which has only been done twice) and our verbal powers of persuasion. Many readers who trusted us got behind Finn, too, choosing it for book groups and buying it for friends. The response was overwhelming."

The first time he visited Northshire "as a writer," Jon introduced himself to Karen. "I'd gotten word from Random House rep Michael Kindness that she admired Finn. That was a weird and uncomfortable moment, believe me. I'd just driven four hours with my in-laws in the car, on top of everything. My wife and I lived in Pennsylvania at the time, and we passed within a few miles of Manchester on our weekly commute to our place in Vermont. Northshire was an important landmark and a favorite stop for us. The shift in my relationship with the store--How is a writer supposed to act in a bookstore, anyhow? What's he supposed to expect? What do they expect of him?--seemed a little daunting. I should have known that it wouldn't turn out to be all that difficult.

"Karen introduced me around, and I'm willing to bet that one of the folks I met on that first day was Erik. Early on we started talking music. We're both guitar players, and we both adore the late John Hartford. That right there is enough to build a friendship on. We talked books, too, of course. We learned quickly that although our reading tastes intersect at a great many points, they're nowhere near identical. That's okay. It gives us something to laugh about--and it keeps Erik on his toes when he's making recommendations. Our relationship is sustained the way all good relationships are, really, by little stuff: eagerness to see each other more than anything else; that basic human connection."

Although Erik received a Finn ARC because Karen knew of his love for Mark Twain's work, he was initially a reluctant reader: "I'm normally not a fan of what she calls 'rewrit lit,' but she caught me when I was at a point where I hadn't found anything good to read in a while. I loved the book, and touted it to other booksellers who signed on to the Finn train."
 
Shortly after that, Erik and Jon met and learned of their mutual admiration for Hartford's music: "At one of his early visits, I happened to bring my guitar to the store to give a lesson after work," Erik says, "and he mentioned that he was a guitarist also. We wound up playing some tunes on the sales floor, swapping out the guitar as we each played tunes that we loved. He plays a unique and great rendition of Johnny Cash's 'Big River.' "
 
After writing Kings of the Earth, Jon sent a copy of the manuscript to Erik, who "was the first civilian other than my wife and my daughter to see Kings when it was finished."

Erik "realized it was something special and altogether different from Finn, a character-driven piece that just sang to me. I teased Jon that I loved Kings in spite of the fact that he wrote it, and the Clinch train moved out of the station again, in much the same way--ending in me hosting his Kings of the Earth event in the store."

Tonight we are pleased to welcome Jon Clinch, who has been a friend of Northshire booksellers for many years.

"Jon and Wendy Clinch had been (and still are) loyal customers of the Northshire and we were already on chatting terms about books," Karen observes. "After meeting and talking to Jon after the publication of Finn, absolutely nothing changed. He was still charming, eloquent and interested in everyone's reactions. Jon is one of the more delightful and sincere authors I have met in my 10 years as a bookseller and I will always remember Finn as a completely rewarding experience. In fact, it continues to be my great pleasure to recommend this marvelous novel."--Robert Gray (column archives available at Fresh Eyes Now)

 


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