Shelf Awareness for Friday, February 4, 2011


Harper: The House of Brides by Jane Cockram

HarperCollins: Throwback by Peter Lerangis

Houghton Mifflin: Wild Game: My Mother, Her Lover, and Me by Adrienne Brodeur

DC Comics: Heroes in Crisis by Tom King, art by Clay Mann

John Scognamiglio Books: The Long Flight Home by Alan Hlad

Harper Paperbacks: The Starlet and the Spy by Ji-min Lee

News

Image of the Day: Totally Hip


The Totally Hip Video Book Reviewer, Ron Charles (aka fiction editor of the Washington Post Book World), enjoys a laugh with his self-described "huge fan" Carrie Callaghan, a writer in town for this year's Associated Writing Programs conference in Washington, D.C. Charles and Callaghan were both guests at a party hosted at the Cosmos Club for One Story magazine, featuring novelist Hannah Tinti.

photo credit: Julie Barer



Oneworld Publications: Boys Will Be Boys: Power, Patriarchy and Toxic Masculinity by Clementine Ford


Notes: In January Surprise, General Retail Sales Up 4.2%


Sales at general retailers in January exceeded forecasts. At stores open at least a year, sales rose 4.2% compared to January 2010, according to a survey by Thomson Reuters of 28 retailers. The gain occurred despite bad weather, particularly in the Northeast and Southeast, that many companies said affected sales.

Wall Street analysts and research companies were encouraged but noted deep discounting by some retailers. Ken Perkins of Retail Metrics told the New York Times, "The fact that it was not a downer is encouraging, but it does not mean it could be a gangbuster year by any means."

The Wall Street Journal wrote worriedly about challenges ahead. Its scenario for 2011: "Skyrocketing raw-materials prices crimp profit margins while higher prices for food and gasoline siphon off discretionary dollars and can sap consumer confidence."

Department store sales rose 2%, helped, the Times said, because many of the stores are "attracting younger consumers through social media promotions and by stocking better brands." Nordstrom comp-store sales rose 4.8% and Sakes rose 4.8%.

Discount chains rose 5.2%, led by Costco, which showed a 9% same-store sales rise.

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H.B. Fenn, Canada's largest book distributor and owner since 2004 of Key Porter, has filed for bankruptcy, Quill & Quire reported. In its filing, the company said that it has "encountered significant financial challenges due to the loss of distribution lines, shrinking margins and the significant shift to e-books, all of which have significantly reduced the Company's revenues."

The company distributed some 90 publishers and imprints. Quill & Quire said that H.B. Fenn "suffered a major setback two years ago when its largest sales and distribution client, Hachette Book Group, opened a Toronto publicity and marketing office and took over sales for major national accounts including Indigo, Costco, and wholesalers North 49 and BookExpress. (H.B. Fenn continued to handle sales for Hachette’s independent and library accounts.) Hachette also moved fulfillment from Canada to its Indiana warehouse."

In January, Key Porter Books ceased publishing (Shelf Awareness, January 7, 2011)

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Becky Anderson of Anderson's Bookshops, Naperville and Downers Grove, Ill., and Steve Bercu of Bookpeople, Austin, Texas, have been nominated to be president and vice-president/secretary, respectively, of the American Booksellers Association for a term beginning at the annual meeting at BEA in New York in May, Bookselling This Week reported.

The board also nominated John Evans of DIESEL Bookstores in Malibu, Brentwood and Oakland, Calif., and Matt Norcross of McLean & Eakin Booksellers in Petosky, Mich., to join the board, serving three-year terms. It nominated Ken White of San Francisco State University Bookstore in San Francisco, Calif., for a second three-year term. In June 2012, ABA president Michael Tucker of Books Inc. in California and Dan Chartrand of Water Street Bookstore in Exeter, N.H., will leave the board.

ABA members will vote on nominations and others may be nominated by members. But based on results going back several decades, the nominations will be approved by ABA members. So we offer tentative congratulations to all the nominated board members!

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After "40 years really, really good years," as co-owner Kelly Treiber put it, the Muses Bookstore, Morganton, N.C., plans to close in March, according to the News Herald. Treiber and co-owner Shirley Sprinkle attributed the closing to several factors, most importantly "the growing popularity of e-readers." Other factors included online retailers; big box stores; and the financial crisis in 2008, when the store's business with schools declined.

Sprinkle said her favorite experience was the Harry Potter phenomenon.

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Here's a bookstore we're ready to visit today: Battery Park Book Exchange, Asheville, N.C., which recently moved into "a labyrinthine place, straight out of an Omar Khayyam fantasy," as Mountain Express described it. "The floors are covered in oriental carpets, the walls drenched in rich, warm colors. Mazes of tall bookshelves, filled with volumes on every subject, frame tiny lamp-lit coves, perfect for hiding away with a glass of wine and a rare find."

Besides the 60,000 used books, there's a wine bar and coffee bar--awaiting an espresso machine. The store is owned by Thomas Wright. Manager Emily Krainik said that the oddly configured space is "very conducive to a bookstore, but not conducive to a lot of other things."

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Subterranean Books, St. Louis, Mo., has said it has "five months to turn our sales around or else we're out of business September 1," when the store's lease is up. According to the Riverfront Times, owner Kelly von Plonski asked for a rent reduction but did not succeed. She has also considered relocating but hasn't found a suitable site with lower rents. The store has started a survey of customers that can be seen on its Facebook page.

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Cool idea of a cold, snowy winter: to celebrate the spirit of Snow Play by Birgitta Ralston, its publisher, Artisan Books, is sponsoring a Bookstore Snowfall Totals Contest. The store that claims the most snowfall between last December 1 and February 18 wins a pizza and beer party.

The invitation reads in part: "What bookstore can claim the largest snowfall this season? Maria's Bookshop in Durango? Iconoclast Books in Ketchum? Fact & Fiction in Missoula? Talking Leaves in Buffalo? Or Books & Books in Coral Gables?"

Coral Gables? Well, maybe if Mitchell Kaplan can count the Westhampton Beach, N.Y., store.

E-mail snowflake totals and meteorological proof to Craig Popelars at craig@workman.com by February 28.

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The bookstore of the week of the Jacket Copy blog on the Los Angeles Times site is Book'em Mysteries, South Pasadena, Calif., which has been owned by Mary Riley and Barry Martin for more than 20 years. The pair wanted to "retire into something," Riley said, and considered opening a restaurant and a clothing shop before settling on Book'em. The store is more for readers than collectors.

In two decades, Book'em Mysteries' neighborhood has changed from "a quiet street of antiques shops to a neighborhood that bustles with people drawn to the Gold Line metro stop, the new cupcake shop, the Mix n Munch Cereal and Grilled Cheese Cafe and a weekly farmers market."

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The Bristol Patch profiled Sue Woodman, who in 2005 left a 30-year career in the tech business to buy A Novel Idea in Bristol, R.I.

"People have this idea that when you own a bookstore, you get to sit around and read all day," Woodman said. "It couldn't be further from the truth. I work just as harder now as I did then. It's just a different type of work, and more importantly, work that I like to do."

Woodman needed a little time to adapt to life outside the corporate world: her first few months at A Novel Idea, she wore business suits. Then she had a novel idea: she didn't have to dress up everyday anymore.

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An amusing unofficial companion title to Donald Rumsfeld's memoir, Known and Unknown, which appears on Tuesday from Sentinel, is Pieces of Intelligence: The Existential Poetry of Donald H. Rumsfeld, compiled and edited by Hart Seely, which originally appeared in 2003 and is being reissued Tuesday by Free Press. The hardcover, which was originally $12.99, is now priced at $9.99, and the e-book version is $8.99.

One example of the former Secretary of Defense's unintentional poetry, from a verbatim transcript of a 2002 Pentagon press briefing, that is echoed in the title of his memoir:

As we know,
There are known knowns.
There are things we know we know.
We also know
There are known unknowns.
That is to say
We know there are some things
We do not know.
But there are also unknown unknowns,
The ones we don't know
We don't know.

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Warren Cassell, retired owner of Just Books in Greenwich, Conn., recently turned 80 but still can't stay away from the book business. He has become heavily involved in a non-partisan, volunteer organization, Operationpaperback.org. This group is dedicated to providing gently used paperbacks at no cost to our troops in Afghanistan and Iraq. In addition, Operation Paperback is providing reading material for stateside families of troops deployed overseas as well as to VA hospitals. Cassell said that a huge challenge for the organization is in the area of children's books donations. "We have already sent free books to over 900 families and we still have another 300 on a waiting list." Children's books for all ages, paper or cloth in good or new condition would be welcome from booksellers, publishers, packagers and wholesalers. Their donations would be shipped to one destination and operationpaperback.org volunteers would then send the books to individual families requesting them. For more information, contact: warren@operationpaperback.org.

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Book trailer of the day: Bringing Adam Home: The Abduction that Changed America by Les Standiford and Joe Matthews (Ecco), which will appear March 1.

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Obituary note: Writer and publisher Donald Carroll, who "will be best remembered for introducing the Liverpool poets Roger McGough, Brian Patten and Adrian Henri to the world; for persuading Quentin Crisp to write The Naked Civil Servant (1968); and for being very funny," has died, the Guardian reported. He was 70.

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"Did Charles Dickens like jam, Dad?" Buzzfeed featured a video exploring the funny, if unlikely, potential for getting kids to read the classics with tasty editions like Dickens' Fruit Corners. It's a book... and it's jam.

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If you've been waiting for a "sofa equipped with bookshelf," then French-Moroccan designer Younes Duret has created just the piece for you. Modern Residential Design featured the Ransa, which "has a vault that can be made as a place to put books or magazines."

 

 


Soho Press: Opioid, Indiana by Brian Allen Carr


Egyptology 3: The Muslim Brotherhood; Copeland's Beat

Saqi Books, with offices in San Francisco, London and Beirut and distributed in the U.S. by Consortium, offers two more books that pertain to the events in Egypt.

The Muslim Brotherhood: The Burden of Tradition by Alison Pargeter, published last December in hardcover, is a history of the secretive but extremely influential Egyptian group that was founded in 1928.

Brothers in Arms: The Story of al-Qa'ida and the Arab Jihadists by Camille Tawil, which will be published in April in trade paper, explores how the failure of jihadi movements in Egypt, Libya and Algeria in the 1990s and the War on Terror have brought militant Islamic groups increasingly under the influence of Osama bin Laden.

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The New York Times has a "reading list for the Egypt crisis" that includes a range of fiction and nonfiction--as well as The Game Player by Miles Copeland Jr., the late CIA officer who was stationed in the Middle East, claimed to have helped keep Nasser from slipping into the Soviet orbit and is the father of Stewart Copeland, drummer for the Police. The autobiography was published in 1989.


 


Publishers! Last call for the One California Holiday Catalog Campaign! Learn more>


Media and Movies

Media Heat: Hannah Pittard on Weekend Edition

This morning on Good Morning America: Andrea Buchanan, author of Live and Let Love (Gallery, $24, 9781439191354).

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Today on the Ellen DeGeneres Show: Bethenny Frankel, author of A Place of Yes (Touchstone, $24.99, 9781439186909).

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Today on the Glen Beck Show: Joel C. Rosenberg, author of Inside the Revolution: How the Followers of Jihad, Jefferson, and Jesus Are Battling to Dominate the Middle East and Transform the World (Tyndale House, $24.99, 9781414319315), which comes out in paperback March 1.

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Saturday on NPR's Weekend Edition: Hannah Pittard, author of The Fates Will Find Their Way (Ecco, $22.99, 9780061996054).

 


G.P. Putnam's Sons: Fair Play: A Game-Changing Solution for When You Have Too Much to Do (and More Life to Live) by Eve Rodsky


Movies: First Photos from On the Road

The Daily What showcased an early photo from the film adaptation of Jack Kerouac's On the Road, which is directed by Walter Salles, produced by Francis Ford Coppola and stars Sam Riley (Sal Paradise), Kristen Stewart (Mary Lou) and Garrett Hedlund (Dean Moriarty). More photos can be found here.

 

 


Ecco Press: Sontag: Her Life and Work by Benjamin Moser


Television: Syfy's Treasure Island Cast

Elijah Wood, Donald Sutherland and Eddie Izzard will star in the Syfy network's two-part TV movie version of Treasure Island, adapted from the classic novel by Robert Louis Stevenson. According to the Hollywood Reporter, Izzard will play Long John Silver, with Wood as Ben Gunn and Sutherland as Flint. Toby Regbo, Phillip Glenister, Rupert Penry-Jones, David Harewood and Keith Allen are also in the cast. The project is shooting in Puerto Rico and Ireland, and will premiere in early 2012.

 

 


Harry Potter & the BAFTA Achievement Award

The British Academy of Film and Television Arts will present a special award for "outstanding British contribution to cinema" to the Harry Potter movie franchise during the Orange British Academy Film Awards on February 13. Author J.K. Rowling and producer David Heyman will accept the prize, the Hollywood Reporter wrote.

"As this great British film success story draws to a close with this year's eagerly anticipated final installment, it's fitting that BAFTA honors the Harry Potter films and their contribution to the British film industry," said Finola Dwyer, BAFTA film committee chair.

Heyman added that he will accept the honor "on behalf of the over 2,000 people who worked in front of and behind the camera on each of the Harry Potter films.... And thank you to Jo Rowling for entrusting us to bring her magnificent books to the screen."

 


Books & Authors

Awards: PROSE Winners

The winners of the 2010 American Publishers Awards for Professional and Scholarly Excellence (the PROSE Awards), sponsored by the AAP's Professional and Scholarly Publishing Division, were announced yesterday and can be found at proseawards.com. In addition, the 2010 R.R. Hawkins Award, given for "the most outstanding professional, reference or scholarly work among the year's award winners," went to Yale University Press for Atlas of the Transatlantic Slave Trade by David Eltis and David Richardson. The judges called the book "an extraordinary picture of the extent and inhumanity of one of the largest forced migrations in history."

 


Book Brahmin: Sean Beaudoin


Sean Beaudoin is the author of Going Nowhere Faster, Fade to Blue and the just-released You Killed Wesley Payne (Little, Brown, Feb. 1, 2011). His stories and articles have appeared in many publications, including the San Francisco Chronicle, the Onion, Glimmer Train and Spirit--the inflight magazine of Southwest Airlines. His columns can be regularly found at The Nervous Breakdown. Watch the stylishly animated You Killed Wesley Payne book trailer.

On your nightstand now:

Mr. Peanut by Adam Ross, The Collected Stories by Lydia Davis, Totally Killer by Greg Olear and The Thousand Autumns of Jacob De Zoet by David Mitchell.

Favorite book when you were a child:

Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls, The Sirens of Titan by Kurt Vonnegut, Dune by Frank Herbert and The Basketball Diaries by Jim Carroll.

Your top five authors:

Evelyn Waugh, Stephen Wright, Vladimir Nabokov, Dostoyevsky and Iceberg Slim.

Book you've faked reading:

Great Expectations for an assignment. Ten years later I un-faked it.

Book you're an evangelist for:

Beneath the Underdog by Charles Mingus.

Book you've bought for the cover:

Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead. Big white volume, black text only. That about says it all, doesn't it? It's also a hilarious and wistfully nostalgic remembrance of the '70s era National Lampoon.

Book that changed your life:

Sneaking a copy of The World According to Garp from my father's secret "hiding place" behind a massive annotated Shakespeare and surreptitiously reading it a few pages at a time definitely changed my outlook on the possibilities of seventh grade.

Favorite line from a book:

"That may be," Nora said. "But it's all pretty unsatisfactory."--Final line of The Thin Man.

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

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson.

 

 



Book Review

Book Review: An Exclusive Love

An Exclusive Love by Johanna Adorjan (W. W. Norton & Company, $24.95 Hardcover, 9780393080018, January 2011)

 

Sixteen years before Johanna Adorján began putting together this book, in October 1991, on a Sunday in a suburb of Copenhagen, the author's Hungarian grandparents, both in their 70s, carried out a pact they had been preparing for months. Lying down beside each other in bed, they followed a careful plan taken from the American bestseller about assisted suicide, Final Exit, and took sleeping pills and an overdose of painkillers.

In An Exclusive Love, her debut, Adorján re-creates that day, pondering the act of choosing to die together, guessing how her grandparents must have felt on the last day of their lives.

On the surface, Vera and Pista were successful survivors of the violence that ripped through their homeland during the war, escaping from the Russian invasion of Hungary by fleeing to Denmark. Reviving her own memories, looking for clues, questioning her grandparents' surviving friends and neighbors, peering at blurry black-and-white photographs, Adorján struggles to penetrate a troubled time when only the lucky survived, trying to understand what no one wants to talk about.

With this book, Adorján is reaching out toward grandparents who died when she was 20, in a touching act of sympathetic imagination, piecing together the jigsaw puzzle of their ruptured lives during the war, revisiting the locales of old photographs. In the process, the author discovers that her grandfather was Jewish and a survivor of a concentration camp, a heritage that had always been kept secret from her.

Adorján is an outsider from her grandparents and struggles to understand herself, too. In her search for her roots at one point she is even convinced to try dating a Jewish man via the online dating service J-Date. But moments of humor are few. The subject is necessarily a sad one, but the memoir is never saccharine or sentimental. It's dominated by the vigorous, overpowering figure of Vera, the grandmother constantly posing with cigarette in hand as though happy and in control, but convinced that no one loves her except her husband, and determined to accompany him into death as she witnesses him physically beginning to fail.

Composed with emotional restraint and a constant respect for the unknown in other people's lives, An Exclusive Love is a portrait of a good marriage in its twilight, of two people lucky enough to have found each other, loved each other and survived the war. Having escaped death, they chose to encounter it on their own terms, together, hand in hand.--Nick DiMartino

Shelf Talker: An exploration by a Danish author of her Hungarian grandparents' lives as World War II survivors, and their suicides in their 70s. In reconstructing the last day of their lives, Johanna Adorján has written a sad but tender story.

 


Deeper Understanding

Robert Gray: Memory & the 'Smell of Books'

"Do you know that books smell like nutmeg or some spice from a foreign land? I loved to smell them when I was a boy. Lord, there were a lot of lovely books once, before we let them go."--from Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451

It is almost impossible to find an article about the e-books versus print books debate that does not include at least one person citing the importance of the "smell of books" as a primary reason for resisting the digital world's siren song.

If you're an addicted e-book reader who still misses l'odeur des livres, you might choose to compensate for that olfactory void with a can of Smell of Books, "a revolutionary new aerosol e-book enhancer.... Now you can finally enjoy reading e-books without giving up the smell you love so much."

But that is probably not an answer to the real question: Why do we care so much about that smell?

I've been a book person most of my life, yet only recently have I paid much attention to this particular issue. Sure, I loved the smell of those ancient, often untouched volumes that lined the dark wood shelves of our tiny village library when I was a kid. I even love the musty scent of the wares in used and antiquarian bookshops, which dredge up literary dust with every turned page, triggering my allergies. And when I open a newly acquired hardcover, there is something exquisite about that first waft of ink and paper that I cannot replicate with an iPad app... yet.

Addiction, indeed.

Sometimes the reason we smell books is practical. At a used bookstore run by the Friends of the Library, Montgomery County, Md., business manager James Ludlum uses his nose to determine what they will sell: "We get things that are in such poor condition and that you don't want them inside the place because they smell. We can tell the difference between a garage smell and attic smell and a basement smell."

Sometimes the reason is artistic. Artist Rachael Morrison has been smelling books at New York's Museum of Modern Art library and keeping a ledger in which she describes the unique scent of each volume. She daydreams of someone in the future finding her notebook: "Assuming all text has gone digital at that point, I wonder if he or she will think it’s strange or even gross that books once had a smell. What will my notebook smell like?"

Morrison is attempting to capture the ephemeral with her project: "Smelling books is really nostalgic for me--I am often reminded of my grandparents’ homes, or libraries where I used to go when I was a child."

I suspect we're all a little Proustian in that way; it's a madeleine moment for most of us, as old as books and readers.

In 1853, a fan of Harper's magazine wrote to tell the editor how the scent of a new issue served as his own memory catalyst:

There is a peculiar smell about some new books to me; and there is nothing that touches Memory with me like that, unless it is the scale of taste in an apple, or other kinds of fruit. I have come across some apples and pears in the city sometimes, that have taken me back forty years, when I had to live in the country, and pick the same kind up off the ground in the orchard, when there had been a high wind to blow them down. But the smell of the fresh leaves of your book took me back, in memory, further than almost anything else that I remember.

Old Noah Webster's Spelling-book was my first acquisition; with its coarse, blue paper, and white-yellow sheep-skin back, and the strong, or "new-book odor," which pervaded its leaves, when pressed open. This, together with the Third Part and the American Preceptor, was our first literary treasure; and a faint, wandering smell, or rudiment of smell, that floated up to my nostrils as I opened your Magazine, brought back to me the manner in which we procured them; how we cut with sickles the grass, when it was ripe, that grew in the corners of the crooked, zig-zag fences; and having bound it up in bundles, put it in the barn; and when we had gained the necessary leisure, threshed it out, winnowed the seed in an old fanning-mill, and then sold it for "grass-seed;" and how, also, we parted the fresh bark from hemlock-logs in the swamp, piled it up to dry, and then sold it to a neighboring tanner; both of which operations enabled us to "lay in" our school-books, as afore-said, and, likewise, to purchase a copy of Pilgrim's Progress, and--strange juxtaposition--Roderick Random. All this came into my head, and it is now out of it.


That's a classic "smell of books" story. A century and a half later, you can imagine the smell of the new print, the freshly cut grass... and the old, old books.--Robert Gray (column archives available at Fresh Eyes Now)

 


The Bestsellers

Top-Selling Titles on AbeBooks.com in January

The following were the bestselling books on AbeBooks.com during January:

1. Give Me Liberty! An American History by Eric Foner
2. Who Moved My Cheese? by Spencer Johnson
3. Night by Elie Wiesel
4. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
5. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
6. Nothing but the Truth by Avi
7. Gardner's Art Through the Ages: Ancient, Medieval and Non-European Art by Helen Gardner
8. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
9. The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren
10. The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest by Stieg Larsson
 
The following were the bestselling signed books on AbeBooks.com during January:

1. The Empty Family by Colm Toibin
2. Freedom by Jonathan Franzen
3. Legend of a Suicide by David Vann
4. A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan
5. Nemesis by Philip Roth
6. Matterhorn by Karl Marlantes
7. Caribou Island by David Vann
8. Decision Points by George W. Bush
9. Colonel Roosevelt by Edmund Morris
10. Lord of Misrule by Jaimy Gordon
 
[Many thanks to AbeBooks.com!]

 


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