Shelf Awareness for Monday, March 21, 2011

Little Brown and Company: A Line in the Sand by Kevin Powers

Berkley Books: Business or Pleasure by Rachel Lynn Solomon

Berkley Books: The First Ladies by Marie Benedict and Victoria Christopher Murray

Texas Bookman Presents Texas Remainder Expo

Minotaur Books: Deadlock: A Thriller (Dez Limerick Novel #2) by James Byrne

Ballantine Books: The Second Ending by Michelle Hoffman

Tor Books: One for My Enemy by Olivie Blake

Henry Holt & Company: Warrior Girl Unearthed by Angeline Boulley

Quotation of the Day

Publishing: 'Not Like Any Other Business'

"When people say publishing is a business--actually it's not quite a business. It's part gambling and part arts and crafts, with a business component. It's not like any other business, and that's why when standard businessmen go into publishing and think, 'Right, I'm going to clean this up, rationalize it and make it work like a real business,' two years later you find they're bald because they've torn out all their hair. And then you say to them, 'It's not like selling beer. It's not like selling a case of this and a case of that and doing a campaign that works for all of the beer.' You're selling one book--not even one author any more. Those days are gone, when you sold, let's say, 'Graham Greene' almost like a brand. You're selling one book, and each copy of that book has to be bought by one reader and each reading of that book is by one unique individual. It's very specific."

--Margaret Atwood in an interview with the Globe & Mail.


G.P. Putnam's Sons: Killing Me by Michelle Gagnon


E-Books, Bundling and 'App-Books'

Reacting to January AAP sales figures (Shelf Awareness, March 18, 2011), Peter Glassman, owner of Books of Wonder in New York City, encourages publishers to bundle e-books and books together and predicts that the "app-book" will overwhelm e-books:

I saw several posts online heralding that e-books had outsold mass market paperbacks and hardcovers, but that isn't true. If you add the adult, university press and children's/YA hardcovers together, they exceed e-books by more 20%--and that's not taking into account whatever portion of the nearly $100 million in religious and professional books sold were hardcovers. And if you add the four paperback segments together (adult trade, adult mass market, university press and all children's/YA) and compare it to e-books, you discover that paperback sales exceed e-book sales by a whopping 220%. Again, that doesn't include religious or professional paperback books.

Taking into account all printed book sales, e-books end up being a respectable 8.7% of the book market. However, this January we had record bad weather that kept people from bricks-and-mortar stores, which probably greatly reduced the number of gift cards redeemed, and these normally are a key strength of January store sales. So while e-books benefited in January from e-readers being given as holiday gifts, bookstore gift card purchases were severely inhibited. It will be interesting to see what happens when February, March and April sales are reported.

Meanwhile, I'm curious about when publishers are going to wake up and recognize what film studios realized a couple of years ago--the power of bundling physical product with a digital version. If movies can be sold on DVD with a digital download for a few extra dollars, why can't books? Seems to me that way book lovers could have their cake and eat it, too! And it would give bricks-and-mortar stores something to put on their shelves.

As for apps, I think we've barely seen the tip of that iceberg. The "app-book" (as I call it) is going to steamroller right over e-books as more and more developers realize what they can do and how they can transform the experience of reading into an event that takes full advantage of the digital platform. Of course, heaven help us if publishers think they're going to rule this world. The amount lost on CD-ROM will be nothing compared to that! The smart publishers will be looking for brilliant app developers to buy the sub-rights to their books and make the most of it rather than trying to create an industry from scratch. As Hollywood discovered long ago, collecting fees to let others create new products from yours is a sure fire way to add to the bottom line.

Texas Bookman Presents Texas Remainder Expo


Image of the Day: Blonde Bombshells (Not!)

Harlow in Hollywood: The Blonde Bombshell in the Glamour Capital, 1928-1937 by Darrell Rooney and Mark A. Vieira (Angel City Press) tells the story of Jean Harlow, the original Platinum Blonde, "an Art Deco artifact" whose 100th birthday would have been March 3. After the authors parked Harlow's vintage Packard in front of one of her former homes, they befriended the owners, who hosted the launch party for the book. At the party: Rooney (l.) and Vieira are flanked by movie maven Leonard Maltin.

Photo: Denise Koyama


Sourcebooks Young Readers: Global: One Fragile World. an Epic Fight for Survival. by Eoin Colfer and Andrew Donkin, illustrated by Giovanni Rigano

Notes: Dutch Flip for 'Flipback' Book

A new paperback format?

The "flipback" book, introduced in the Netherlands in 2009 and "all the rage" there, is being touted as the "new Kindle," smaller and lighter than an e-reader but made out of paper, according to the Guardian.

Flipback books are printed on extra-thin paper; the spine stays open easily; text is printed "parallel" to the spine so one reads the book longways; and the whole thing is small enough to fit in a pocket.

Hodder & Stoughton is publishing a series of 12 flipbacks in June that will cost £9.99 each.


The New York Times has an amusing account of the $30,000 "not the J.D. Salinger scholarship" in creative writing for freshmen at Ursinus College, Collegeville, Pa., where the late reclusive writer spent a semester in 1938. (When the J.D. Salinger Scholarship was announced in 2006, the writer's representatives objected to the college's use of his name.) Besides the money, a key attraction of the scholarship is that the recipient spends his or her first year in Salinger's old dorm room--a concept his lawyers couldn't block.

Some previous scholarship winners describe the room as small but expressed satisfaction at living in a room of such literary heritage. And one male student said cheerfully, "Girls are interested in seeing the inside of Salinger's room."

Some applicants admit that they haven't read Salinger, and even some scholarship winners would, if given the choice, rather sleep in rooms earlier occupied by, say, Dave Eggers, Cormac McCarthy or Bret Easton Ellis.


Several newspapers around the country looked at how independent bookstores are faring in the wake of the Borders Group bankruptcy and online and digital book competition:

In Colorado, local shops "sell intimacy as well as books," the Daily Camera reported in its profile of indie booksellers who "say they're surviving because of long-term, personal relationships. Loyal, regular customers continue to support their favorite local stores and booksellers are returning the favor, by supporting the local community."

Barbara Butterworth, owner of the Book Cellar, Louisville, said, "We're all about the personal and making it a personal experience for our customers."

Kathe Heinecken, owner of Barbed Wire Books, Longmont, agreed: "I try and make my bookstore a venue for all local events, books and objects. People are very loyal to their stores and because of this, I'm able to do things outside of used books."

Indie bookstores "have the potential to really step up and become a community center," added Becky Hancock, owner of Calico Books, Broomfield.

"There will always be a place for independent bookstores," predicted Jon Murray, who has owned Red Letter Second Hand Books, Boulder, for 25 years. "There will always be a place for independent bookstores," he says. "The independent bookstore will always be around because it's a place to go and see something you wouldn't see and couldn't imagine; you see things here that you never knew existed."

John Westerberg, owner of Yankee Peddler Bookshop in Rochester, N.Y., which recently celebrated its 40th anniversary, told the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle that his store appeals to people who have an affection for the printed word and an emotional attachment to books. "They're the kind of people who give a little pat to their books now and then," he said. "It's part of the romance of life. Do we want to get rid of that altogether? Can we live strictly electronically? I don't think so."

Lift Bridge Books in Brockport has felt competition from online retailers and e-books and is considering "setting up a space in the store where shoppers can access books for their e-readers," the paper said.

And the Star-Ledger looked at northern New Jersey bookstores (and features a large photograph of one of our favorite booksellers, Margot Sage-EL, owner of Watchung Booksellers in Montclair).

Sage-EL called e-books a big threat. "We have third graders asking parents for Kindle," she said. "And nobody turns down their kids for books." Still she noted that many customers who order books from the store online like to pick up their books in person. Sales were shaky a year ago but then picked up and have been "holding steady."

Alex Dawson, co-owner of the Raconteur in Metuchen, literally takes a showman's approach to bookselling, telling the Star-Ledger, "I like to indulge my impresario proclivities." His store has hosted "circus sideshow performers, arm-wrestling and beard-growing tournaments, jazz groups from Paris, radio serials and more--all free of charge," the paper noted.


Cool idea of the day: to celebrate National Library Week (April 11-16) Printed Page Bookshop, Denver, Colo., will give a free book to anyone who shows a library card. The store's 15 specialty dealers have all contributed books to the cause.


Book trailer of the day: What You See in the Dark by Manuel Muñoz (Algonquin). [Editor's note: you might want to see this in daylight since it's inspired by the storyboards for Psycho.]


Dara La Porte is leaving Politics and Prose in Washington D.C., where she has been manager of the children's and teens department for more than 11 years, to co-direct Literacy & Prose, a nonprofit she founded with Heidi Powell (also at P&P) to bring authors and illustrators into Title I schools and provide the students with signed books to take home. La Porte is a member of the ABA's Bookseller Advisory Council and NAIBA's children's programming committee, is a former treasurer of the Association of Booksellers for Children and is a member of the ABA/ABC transition committee. She may be reached at


Tor Books: One for My Enemy by Olivie Blake

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Star Jones Dishes on the Talk

This morning on NPR's Morning Edition: Peter Godwin, author of The Fear: Robert Mugabe and the Martyrdom of Zimbabwe (Little, Brown, $26.99, 9780316051736).


Today on CBS' the Talk: Star Jones, author of Satan's Sisters: A Novel Work of Fiction (Gallery, $24.99, 9781439193006). She is also on Access Hollywood Live tomorrow.


Today on NPR's Diane Rehm Show: Robert Lane Greene, author of You Are What You Speak: Grammar Grouches, Language Laws, and the Politics of Identity (Delacorte, $25, 9780553807875).


Today on the View: Dick Cavett, author of Talk Show: Confrontations, Pointed Commentary, and Off-Screen Secrets (Times Books, $25, 9780805091953).


Tonight on BBC Radio: Donald R. Prothero, author of Catastrophes!: Earthquakes, Tsunamis, Tornadoes, and Other Earth-Shattering Disasters (Johns Hopkins University Press, $30, 9780801896927).


Tonight on Charlie Rose: Lisa Abend, author of The Sorcerer's Apprentices: A Season in the Kitchen at Ferran Adrià's elBulli (Free Press, $26, 9781439175552).


Tonight on the Late Show with David Letterman: Michio Kaku, author of Physics of the Future: How Science Will Shape Human Destiny and Our Daily Lives by the Year 2100 (Doubleday, $28.95, 9780385530804).


Tonight on the Daily Show: Sarah Vowell, author of Unfamiliar Fishes (Riverhead, $25.95, 9781594487873).


Tomorrow morning on Good Morning America: Bethenny Frankel, author of A Place of Yes: 10 Rules for Getting Everything You Want Out of Life (Touchstone, $24.99, 9781439186909).


Tomorrow on CBS's the Talk: Lisa Ling, author of Somewhere Inside: One Sister's Captivity in North Korea and the Other's Fight to Bring Her Home (Morrow, $26.99, 0062000675).


Tomorrow on Fox News's Your World with Neil Cavuto: Wayne Rogers, author of Make Your Own Rules: A Renegade Guide to Unconventional Success (AMACOM, $23, 9780814416570).


Tomorrow night on ABC's Nightline: Dan Savage, author of It Gets Better: Coming Out, Overcoming Bullying, and Creating a Life Worth Living (Dutton, $21.95, 9780525952336).


G.P. Putnam's Sons: The Three of Us by Ore Agbaje-Williams

Sneak Peek: Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows, Part 2

Warner Bros. offered a sneak peek at Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, "with a teaser trailer and the franchise's stars talking about the series climax," reported. The movie will premiere July 7 in London before opening July 15.


Movies: Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules; Miral

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules, based on the book by Jeff Kinney (Amulet Books, $13.95, 9780810994737), opens this Friday, March 25. Zachary Gordon stars as the title character from this powerful children's series.


Miral, based on the novel by Rula Jebreal, opens March 25. Freida Pinto stars as a Palestinian girl orphaned after the 1948 Arab-Israeli war. Also includes Willem Dafoe, Alexander Siddig and Omar Metwally. Penguin published the movie tie-in edition ($15, 9780143116196).




Books & Authors

IndieBound: Other Indie Favorites

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

Hardcover Fiction

The Other Life by Ellen Meister (Putnam, $24.95, 9780399157134). "Quinn's artistic mother took her own life, leaving Quinn wondering why. To help her cope on this journey, Quinn has the ability to travel between two parallel worlds via hidden portals. One world is a safe, suburban life with her husband, Lewis, and their young son, Isaac, on Long Island, albeit a world filled with the reality of her mother's death. The other is a dramatic life in New York City with neurotic Eugene, a life in which her mother is still very much alive. The premise of these portals may seem strange, but Meister makes it work and does it very well."--Annie Philbrick, Bank Square Books, Mystic, Conn.

Hardcover Nonfiction

Deep Future: The Next 100,000 Years of Life on Earth by Curt Stager (Thomas Dunne Books, $25.99, 9780312614621). "Stager, a scientist who drills down into the earth and reads what the layers tell us about the history of the environment and climate change, uses that information to speculate on what the future might be like. The results are not as predictable as one might think. Neither the ardent environmentalists who see the end of life on the horizon, nor the naysayers who think the whole idea of climate change is bunk, will be vindicated. Stager doesn't so much think outside the box as reshape and extend the box and provide a useful additional perspective on a complicated and unavoidable issue."--Jonathon Welch, Talking Leaves, Buffalo, N.Y.


Whiter Than Snow by Sandra Dallas (St. Martin's Press, $24.99, 9780312600150). "Dallas has written another absorbing book filled with compelling characters. In 1920, an avalanche devastates a poor mining town high in the Colorado mountains. Nine children are trapped on their way home from school, and only four survive. Each child's family has a story. Was it chance or destiny that brought them to Swandyke from such different backgrounds? Don't miss this one!"--Laurie Krushenisky, MacDonald Book Shop, Estes Park, Colo.

For Teen Readers

Strings Attached by Judy Blundell (Scholastic Press, $17.99, 9780545221269). "Teen runaway Kit has a job as a chorus girl at a nightclub, but not much else. She is approached by her ex-boyfriend's father, who may or may not have Mafia ties, and he asks her to do him a little favor. In exchange, he'll set her up in an apartment and get her a better job. No strings attached ... right? This stylish and chilling story, which has everything going for it will keep teen readers hooked."--Jennifer Laughran, Oblong Books & Music, Rhinebeck, N.Y.

[Many thanks to IndieBound and the ABA!]


Book Review

Book Review: The Savage City

The Savage City: Race, Murder, and a Generation on the Edge by T English (William Morrow & Company, $27.99 Hardcover, 9780061824555, March 2011)

Two events frame this hard-hitting history of a decade that boosters of New York City would rather forget: the brutal killings of Janice Wylie and Emily Hoffert on August 28, 1963 (later dubbed by the tabloid press as "The Career Girls Murders"), and the December 1972 release of the final report of the Knapp Commission on police corruption in New York City. "From the time of the Career Girls Murders, the city had descended into a kind of urban madness; a tidal wave of injustice and insurrection, ambushes and assassinations, led some to believe that the city could not be saved," writes T.J. English (Harlem Nocturne), and he illustrates his claims of racism and police corruption through the experiences of George Whitmore, Dhoruba Bin Wahad and Bill Phillips.

Whitmore, a hapless, nearly blind teenager, started a casual conversation with a Brooklyn patrolman on an April day in 1964; before he knew it, he was typed by the police as "a wayward Negro boy you could pin crimes on and no one would ever know or care." He assumed that if he gave the police what they wanted, they'd let him leave the precinct house without further ado. He was instead charged with two crimes he did not commit; when Manhattan Detective Edward Bulger arrived on the scene, Whitmore was also charged with the naggingly unsolved Career Girls Murders. He was on the fast track to the electric chair--and he was innocent. Eventually, after the real killer was caught and confessed, "the entire system of criminal justice was implicated in the railroading of George Whitmore."

If George Whitmore was naive, respectful and passive in his encounters with law enforcement, Dhoruba Bin Wahad was his opposite number. Radicalized by the writings of Malcolm X and Eldridge Cleaver, he joined the Black Panthers and rose to become a highly visible symbol of the fight for black liberation and an end to police brutality. English spares no detail showing how dangerous and violent that fight became during the same years when Mayor Lindsay was proclaiming New York "Fun City."

Bill Phillips was, in contrast, a respected career officer with the New York Police Department. He did his job, looked good to casual observers and collected graft so efficiently that he was a role model for crooked cops. Being on the take led accidently to entrapment in a wiretap sting; Phillips then worked undercover for the Knapp Commission and sang the tune that "the NYPD's habit of physical abuse went hand in hand with its pattern of financial corruption." The system exacted its toll on Phillips, too--framed for homicide in (alleged) retaliation for the role he played in the Knapp Commission, he spent 33 years in prison.--John McFarland

Shelf Talker: A devastating, hard-hitting story of racism, violence and police corruption in New York City during the years when the metropolis wanted to be known as "Fun City."


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