Shelf Awareness for Friday, April 15, 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


Image of the Day: Support in St. Louis


At a recent event at Left Bank Books, St. Louis, Mo., Jeanine Cummins, author of The Outside Boy (NAL), stands (c.) with a group of students and their teacher from Parkway South High School. The students read Cummins's first book, the memoir A Rip in Heaven, in class and were so inspired by the story of the murder of her cousins that they have petitioned the city of St. Louis to install a memorial for them on the Chain of Rocks Bridge.


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

AAP February Sales: E-Jump

Net book sales in February fell 10.6%, to $442.2 million, as reported by 84 publishers to the Association of American Publishers. For the year, net book sales have fallen 5%, to $1.25 billion.

Sales of e-books rose 202.3% to $90.3 million and represented 20.4% of total sales (even though just 16 publishers report e-book sales). This was a rebound of sorts for the category, whose growth rate in the last year has been huge--triple digit increases starting with ones--but had slowly declined from stratospheric highs--triple digit increases starting with twos. Another measure of e-book's major growth: in January, e-book sales were $69.9 million, which represented 8.7% of total sales.

The AAP attributed the gain primarily to buying by consumers who had received e-readers as gifts and noted that e-sales of backlist titles had grown: "Many publishers report that e-Book readers who enjoy a newly-released book will frequently buy an author's full backlist."

AAP CEO Tom Allen said that the February results show that people "have made e-books permanent additions to their lifestyle while maintaining interest in print format books."

In another significant change, the second strongest-selling category was downloadable audiobooks, which rose 36.7%, to $6.9 million, and have higher sales now than traditional audiobooks. The only other category whose sales rose in February was religious books.






$90.3 million


Downloadable audiobooks

 $6.9 million


Religious books

$48.9 million



$42.9 million


Univ. press paperback

 $3.2 million


Children's/YA hardcover

$32.4 million


Univ. press hardcovers

 $3.5 million


Adult paperback

$81.2 million


Children's/YA paperback

$26.1 million



 $5.9 million


Adult mass market

$29.3 million


Higher education

$24.9 million


Adult hardcover

$46.2 million



Texas Bookman Presents Texas Remainder Expo

Notes: Borders Revising Bonus Plan; Staples to Sell Nook

It's back to the drawing board for Borders. At a hearing yesterday, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Martin Glenn said a revised executive bonus plan still needs to change and "told lawyers to negotiate with the U.S. Trustee in the hall outside his courtroom," Bloomberg reported.

"If this business goes down the toilet bowl, there are a lot of full or part-time employees who face the prospect of going out of work," Glenn said.

Bruce Buechler, a lawyer for unsecured creditors, had told the judge that the bonus plan (Shelf Awareness, April 14, 2011) was revised yesterday so the five top executives "would receive $4.9 million at most if they return more than $95 million to unsecured creditors. They could get $1.8 million if $73 million is recovered," Bloomberg wrote.

"As we look at running a sales process--selling all the debtors' assets or infusing equity into the company instead of just a stand-alone plan, we need management not just to be there, but to be cheerleaders or affirmative spokespeople for the company," said Buechler.

Glenn suggested Borders should include a scenario where less than $73 million is recovered.

In a statement, company spokesman Jeremy Fielding said, "We look forward to meeting with the U.S. Trustee to demonstrate to them that this proposed program is in the best interest of Borders, its creditors and other stakeholders. Our objective is to create value to benefit the creditors and all of the company's stakeholders, so that Borders can exit Chapter 11 in short order."


Borders has begun filing lease cancellation requests on a number of properties in addition to the 226 superstores approved for closure by the bankruptcy court. reported the company "has filed 12 such requests in the last three weeks, and is seeking to cancel leases on more than 50 locations."


The April 12 deadline date has come and gone, but Amazon's Irving, Tex., distribution center remains open, the Austin American-Statesman reported. In February, Amazon responded with the closure threat after Texas assessed the online retailer $269 million in uncollected sales tax, interest and penalties for the four years running from December 2005 to December 2009 (Shelf Awareness, February 11, 2011).

As of Wednesday, the facility was still operating and "a hiring firm is interviewing to fill temporary jobs at the center," the Dallas Morning News reported, adding, "Apparently the Seattle-based company wasn’t ready to carry out its vow to vacate the facility by Tuesday." The American-Statesman noted that Amazon "confirmed Wednesday only that operations were winding down at the Irving center, and declined to give additional details."

In South Carolina, Amazon has instituted a hiring freeze for 11 management positions at the planned distribution center near Cayce "as legislative allies race to deliver the tax exemption that the online retailer wants," the State reported.

In a statement, Paul Misener, Amazon v-p for public policy, said, "We look forward to working with legislators to enable us to restart our hiring process."


Effective May 1, Staples will begin selling the Nook Color in all of its stores nationwide and at for $249.

"Staples is excited to bring this amazing product with its enhanced applications to our stores this Spring, which is just in time to celebrate Mother's Day and Father's Day with a gift of the newest technology," said Mark Mettler, senior v-p for consumer technology at Staples.


In the latest segment of its Houston by the Book series, the Houston Press profiled Brazos Bookstore and Jane Moser, who "manages the day-to-day operations, scheduling appearances, and--most importantly--buying the books. While she admits that it indeed is no picnic, it's a job that clearly brings her a good bit of joy."

In 2006, when previous owner Karl Kilian was ready to step aside, Moser, who had been a children's bookstore owner, was one of 25 Houstonians who "came together and formed an LLC and bought the store. I was one of the people who worked on the deal to get it together.... I had been a customer of this store for years, and knew the owners. So when it came up that they were trying to put a deal together, none of the people who bought it wanted to run it. They just wanted to save it."

Moser added, "Everybody loves the idea of a strong, independent bookstore in town. People like the idea, but now we're in a changing age, and people are going to have to support the sale of physical books as well, or we're going to lose these opportunities for meeting the authors, etc. That serendipitous experience of walking in a bookstore and seeing a book you didn't know you needed, or meeting an author you didn't know about before, or seeing another book by an author, or seeing a cover that just grabs you--those are things that just aren't yet possible online."


Christopher J. Zane will be the opening plenary speaker at the American Booksellers Association’s Day of Education at BookExpo America on Monday, May 23, Bookselling This Week wrote. Zane is a 29-year veteran of the retail bicycle industry who bought his first bike shop at age 16 and has built Zane’s Cycles into one of the largest retail bicycle stores in the nation. "His unique approach to marketing includes strategies that stress continual learning, the lifetime value of a customer, guerrilla marketing, and cost-controlled customer service," BTW reported.

As the morning plenary speaker, Zane will share insights on the lifetime value of one customer to a store’s bottom line, and discuss unique approaches to customer relationship marketing, understanding the psychology of today’s customer, and acquiring the tools to build lifetime relationships in the B2C and B2B markets.


On their BookBroads blog, Roberta Dyer and Sally McPherson of Broadway Books, Portland, Ore., have a "State of the Union at Broadway Books" post, in which they showcase "ten things that we’re doing" as well as "ten things that you can do" to help the bookshop weather changes in the industry.

"We live in interesting times," they wrote, adding, "Our little corner of the world (that is, publishing and bookselling and reading in general) is changing so fast that we all struggle to keep up. And because so many of you have asked us how these changes are affecting our business, we’d like to keep you up to date.

"Just like you, we are in this for the long haul. For nearly 20 years, we’ve been an active part of this community. With your support, we plan to be here for many years to come. We participate in the Northeast Broadway Business Association, which is committed to keeping our community vibrant and diverse, with lots of great locally owned shops, restaurants, and other services. We firmly believe that small neighborhood stores contribute to the quality of life in these transitional times. We hope that you agree."


"I was walking through Manhattan a while ago with my camera and I found myself taking photos of some of the spots that used to house my favorite bookstores," wrote Michael Maren in a poignant blog post headlined "My Favorite Bookstores, In Memoriam."


Salman Rushdie is in the process of selecting 10 "American classics" to be placed in guest rooms at the Standard Hotel in New York City during the PEN World Voices Festival, April 25 to May 1, the New York Post reported. The titles, which will be provided by Housing Works Bookstore Cafe, have not yet been confirmed.


Friends and employees of the Book Barn, Niantic, Conn., are mourning the death of Frank the cat, the bookstore's popular 12-pound, 15-year-old English tabby. "Flowers, empty cat food dishes, a packet of catnip and a very scratched-up wood panel are silent memorials to Frank left at the Book Barn," WGGB-TV reported.


Headline of the day: "Azkaban Nearing Capacity." Fortune reported that the Daily Prophet's media empire has a competitor in the world of wizardry. Magic Is Might "simulates a newspaper run by the Ministry of Magic under Voldemort's control" and "will condense the events in Deathly Hallows into four months, ending with the July 15 release of Warner Bros. Pictures' Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2. Readers are encouraged to join in by choosing between the Ministry and 'The Rebellion,' and fighting for their side through interactive contests, puzzles, and various methods of 'digital warfare.' "


Too true to be funny? The Onion cast its satiric gaze on author readings with an article headlined "Author Promoting Book Gives It Her All Whether It's Just 3 People Or A Crowd Of 9 People."


Glenn Taylor, author of The Marrowbone Marble Company, chose his top 10 books of the American South for the Guardian, observing that on his list "at least one may not be Southern, in some folks' estimation. Each is a book that has, at one time in my life, sustained me as a reader and a writer. These books will ride inside your blood vessels. They'll stick to your ribs."


Book trailer of the day: Shifty's War: The Authorized Biography of Sergeant Darrell "Shifty" Powers, the Legendary Sharpshooter from the Band of Brothers by Marcus Brotherton (Berkley).


Sean Concannon, who left Parson Weems Publisher Services in December, has joined Sonnet Media, a web development firm, as director of business development.

Concannon continues as executive director of NAIPR, an advisor to booksellers on the ABA's IndieCommerce solution and consultant. He may be reached at


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

Reading Road Trip: The Bookworks-A-GoGo-Mobile

Wendy Hudson, owner of Nantucket Bookworks, Nantucket, Mass., might not seem to be a likely subject for coverage in Boston Globe's Overdrive section, which offers  "driving insight & auto news from Boston's road maze." But her purchase last month of the "one-of-a-kind, signed-by-many-authors, bright orange Mini Cooper" from Penguin Putnam (Shelf Awareness, March 16, 2011), was deemed newsworthy for auto fans.

"We knew she really wanted the Mini," said Bookworks bookseller Suzanne Keller, "but she was like, 'Should I or shouldn't I?' We were all excited when she did."

"We're thrilled to be continuing what Penguin launched--promoting authors and books in such a dynamite way," said Hudson. "It will be great fun to keep adding autographs as the years roll on.... The Mini came with some silver Sharpies, and we intend to put them to good use. One of my goals is to figure out how we can put more signatures on the Mini's black roof in the future."

Hudson plans to to re-brand the Mini as the Bookworks-A-GoGo-Mobile, with the subtitle "Books by land, sea & cloud," the last word a reference to Google e-books.

"My vision is to have a lot of book images in a border around the body," she said. "I know it will turn a lot of heads and remind people that little bookstores are places that have a lot of fun and a lot of character."


Tor Books: One for My Enemy by Olivie Blake

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Paul Allen on 60 Minutes

This morning on the Today Show: Siddhartha Mukherjee, author of The Emperor of All Maladies (Scribner, $30, 9781439107959).


Tomorrow on Weekend Edition Saturday: Lisa Lutz and David Hayward, authors of Heads You Lose (Putnam, $24.95, 9780399157400).


On Weekend Edition Sunday: Dan Barry, author of Bottom of the 33rd: Hope, Redemption, and Baseball's Longest Game (Harper, $26.99, 9780062014481).


Sunday on 60 Minutes: Paul Allen, author of Idea Man: A Memoir by the Cofounder of Microsoft (Portfolio, $27.95, 9781591843825).


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

Television: Game of Thrones by the Numbers

In anticipation of Sunday's Game of Thrones premiere on HBO, the Hollywood Reporter offered an inside look at the numbers--"from the budget to the beheadings"--involved in bringing George R.R. Martin's fiction to the small screen in a big way. A few highlights:

$50 million-$60 million: The estimated budget for the series.
4.5 million-plus: Number of books in print in North America alone. (Once Dragons is published in July, that number will jump to more than 5 million.)
3,188: Number of pages in the U.S. hardbacks of Books 1-4. (Swords ran longest at 973 pages.)
250: Approximate number of extras used on the biggest day of production.
130: Number of helmets created for the series. (The wardrobe department consists of roughly 80 people, including the in-house costume design team who created the majority of the costumes.)
4: Number of beheadings in the pilot.
3: Number of beheadings before the opening credits.
Too many to count: Number of guys who look like Harry Potter's Hagrid.

Peter Jackson's Hobbit Video Tour

Director Peter Jackson gave a video tour of The Hobbit's sets in Wellington, New Zealand, in a 10-minute video posted on the film's Facebook page. Entertainment Weekly reported that Jackson "offers a glimpse of the movie's first days of production. A worldly Ian McKellen hangs around Bag End, sporting specs and a stylish cap, Martin Freeman makes himself at home, and Andy Serkis delights in being the first actor put to work. Then Howard Shore's score wells up, and it’s easy to fall back in love with this world."

"It is strange walking around here because I'm used to looking at a set like this on film and now we're walking back into it again. It's almost like you've stepped inside a movie," said Jackson. "I look forward to keeping you up to date as we go through the next... two or three years."


Books & Authors

Awards: SIBA Book Award Finalists

The Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance has determined the finalists for the 2011 Southern Indie Book Awards, which recognize "the books from last year that Southern Indie Booksellers especially loved, the ones they most enjoyed putting into the hands of their customers with the earnest, heartfelt and ever hopeful words 'You’ve got to read this.' " Winners will be announced in July and will be celebrated at SIBA's trade show in Charleston, S.C., September 17-19. Check out the shortlist here.


Book Brahmin: Wendy McClure


Wendy McClure has been writing about her obsessions both online and in print for nearly a decade. Her new book about one of her passions, The Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie, was just released by Riverhead (April 14, 2011).

In addition to her 2005 memoir, I'm Not the New Me, she is a columnist for BUST magazine and has contributed regularly to the New York Times Magazine. McClure holds an MFA from Iowa Writers' Workshop. She lives in Chicago, where she is a senior editor at the children's book publisher Albert Whitman & Company. She writes a Twitter feed in the voice of Laura Ingalls Wilder.


On your nightstand now:

A Skeptic's Guide to Writers' Houses by Anne Trubek and Anthropology of an American Girl by Hilary Thayer Hamann.

Favorite book when you were a child:

You mean besides the Little House books? Bridge to Terebithia by Katherine Paterson was one of the first books that made me really want to write--the first book where I could perceive the characters as both vividly real and meticulously created. I also made my parents read Dr. Seuss's Fox in Socks aloud to me until their faces went numb.

Your top five authors:

Charlotte Bronte, Kate Atkinson, Elizabeth Bishop, David Sedaris and, of course, Laura Ingalls Wilder.

Book you've faked reading:

A Confederacy of Dunces by William Kennedy O'Toole. I just haven't read it. I just nod.

Book you're an evangelist for:

Little Heathens: Hard Times and High Spirits on an Iowa Farm During the Great Depression by Mildred Armstrong Kalish. The title sounds downright joyless but inside it's an absolute kick. If you wish the Little House books had even more detailed descriptions of churning and soap-making, you will love this book. It's a lot more feminist than you might imagine, too. I've also been telling lots of people to read Confessions of a Prairie Bitch, about Alison Arngrim's career playing Nellie Oleson. It's easy to be dismissive of entertainment-industry memoirs, but Arngrim's is truly funny and worthwhile.

Book you've bought for the cover:

I did not have to buy You Had Me at Woof by Julie Klam because we have the same editor, but as soon as I saw that bug-eyed Boston terrier on the cover I knew that book NEEDED TO BE IN MY HOME.

Book that changed your life:

I have to admit a novel that I hated, Jemima J. by Jane Green, was life-changing. I'd taken exception to the way the protagonist--a fat girl--was portrayed, and it made me realize that I needed to be writing about my own issues with body image, which in turn led to a blog and then my first book, I'm Not the New Me. I'd said some really unkind things about Jemima J. online and later apologized to Green about them, because in a way that book was so galvanizing for me.

Favorite line from a book:

The last lines from Little House in the Big Woods: " is now. It can never be a long ago."

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

Jane Eyre. I read it when I was home with the chicken pox in fourth grade and while I loved it, there were obviously parts that I didn't get at that age, though my knowledge developed on subsequent re-readings. Wish I could be reading it fresh as an adult.


Book Review

Mandahla: Bad Dog

Bad Dog: A Love Story by Martin Kihn (Pantheon, $23.95 hardcover, 9780307379153, April 5, 2011)

I am a cat person, through and through. But I keep reading dog books. They are like mountaineering books--I love to read them, but I won't be strapping on crampons and ropes anytime soon. The dog book I'm currently passionate about is the latest entry in the I-was-an-alcoholic-but-a-dog-saved-my-life subgenre (see Drinking with Miss Dutchie, Shelf Awareness, March 18, 2011), which I picked up because of the Bernese mountain dog on the cover. I'm a sucker for Bernese, and Bad Dog more than lived up to my hopes.

Eight years ago, Martin Kihn and his wife, Gloria, adopted a Bernese puppy and named her Hola, Spanish for "hello," because she was so friendly. Overly so: "Walks were a haphazard dance of death as she lunged out at any passing Subway wrapper, unleashed Pomeranian or Crip." They had never had a dog, lived in an apartment in N.Y.C., and were spectacularly unprepared for her--a naturally dominant dog that "feels no pain, is as outgoing as Ethel Merman on Jolt and is orally fixated." At some point they gave up and decided the fact that she was housebroken and didn't bite was enough. But it wasn't. Hola gradually turned into "a beast." Nipping, growling, banging into Gloria and leaving bruises.

At the same time, Martin was drinking. A lot. He finally reached a point where he woke up one morning and said the first honest prayer of his life: "God, if Gloria and Hola are still here I will stop drinking." He sees a therapist, starts going to AA, gets a sponsor. But as he starts on his recovery, Gloria leaves after Hola bites her. Though Marty has stopped drinking, he still doesn't see her or Hola, and the pain they are both in. Martin despairs, but after crying himself out with Hola, he says, "There is a well-established law in the unwritten annals of canine-human psychology that it is impossible to maintain a conviction of universal despair for a significant length of time if you are in proximity to a Bernese mountain dog."

So the real transformation starts. But first, Martin trades his obsession with alcohol for an obsession with dog training. Five years into Hola's life, she and Martin head out to take the Canine Good Citizen Test, a seemingly simple 10-point test of obedience and basic training, like sitting and staying, or walking on a loose lead. But Hola is a legend in the canine obedience world: the only dog in her puppy obedience class to be invited to leave twice. What Martin discovers in his initial quest to really train Hola is that she is eminently trainable and extremely sensitive; the problem is Martin. Hola is completely tuned into him: she is hysterical because he is. Anxiety is what keeps him alive, and Hola is his radar detector. When an instructor tells him that Hola is upset and afraid, has a high flight drive and wants to run away, Martin thinks, "Ditto."

Finally, a breakthrough: Martin realizes that he needs to stop wishing his dog was something else, and to stop wishing he was someone else--"The first step of the first awakening." He learns how to communicate with Hola; he learns that dogs need a leader; he learns, as he has in AA, that following instructions can be liberating. He learns that leading Hola is a job and a gift to her, and a serious commitment for him.

You'll learn a lot about dogs and humility and devotion. You'll come to care about Martin and Gloria, and Martin's sponsor, Clark, and his cat, Ruby, which he gives to Martin (and Hola). And you will fall in love with Hola, with her "big smile she throws around like a stock of religious pamphlets," while you find out how she stops throwing herself (and Marty) around.

Martin Kihn is a very funny writer ("Ruby is kneading the sofa cushion at my head like there is a rush order for a dozen tiny pizzas."), and Bad Dog is laced with much tenderness and some heartbreak, and is an absolutely delightful book. --Marilyn Dahl

View the trailer for Bad Dog here.


Photo: Chae Kihn


Deeper Understanding

Robert Gray: Cool Idea of the Year--BOTNS Readers' Retreat

Sometimes I have an experience that gives me hope for the future of the book world. Last weekend, as I drove home from the Books on the Nightstand Retreat in Manchester, Vt., I felt... optimistic (not my natural state, as friends, colleagues and even enemies will attest). What happened to melt my cold professional heart? It will take at least two columns to explain, but I'll try.

The BOTNS retreat was conceived and brilliantly executed by Michael Kindness and Ann Kingman. In addition to being first rate sales reps, they have built a loyal following among readers in--and more importantly outside--the publishing industry with their Books on the Nightstand podcasts. They are also generous, informative and entertaining participants in the social networking world.

In addition to their hard work as organizers, a key reason the retreat turned out so well was its focus on Readers, with a capital R. More than 75 guests, representing 15 states (including California, Oregon, Washington and New Mexico) and three countries (U.S., Australia and Canada), made the trip to Manchester to talk books. They were allowed the time and the space--two inns and the Northshire Bookstore--to engage in casual but focused conversations about their reading lives with other readers, as well as with several authors and an editor.

"We started with the reader," said Ann. "Every plan we made, every idea we had, started with the reader in mind. We did this for them, not for the authors and not for the bookstore. I didn't realize this really until one of our guests said, 'It was a reader's retreat, not an author's retreat.' "

Attendees weren't charged a ticket price. They made their own travel and lodging arrangements, and all events were free. They came because they wanted to be there. Hope, who made the trip from Australia, told me over lunch Saturday that an online friendship she'd established with Ann made the decision to attend an easy one, despite the distance.

"Hope and I were both part of a knitting message board," Ann recalled, "and when I announced there that Michael and I had a new podcast, Hope downloaded our first episode and listened. She was also the first caller to our voicemail line. So when we decided to go forward with the retreat, I sent her a message with a special invitation. I never dreamed that she would actually be able to come, but everything worked out well, and I'm so glad. Many of us from this weekend will now count Hope as a friend."
The atmosphere was social, conversational, fun and yet primarily--as would happen among a crowd of readers--about books. High on the list of impressions that stayed with Ann after the retreat concluded Sunday were "watching readers make new friends with other readers; seeing them make breakfast plans, and knowing that they will continue their friendship electronically after the weekend; watching readers find a connection with an author as a result of an offhand conversation; hearing people talk about how they understand an author's book so much more now that they have shared a few moments with the author."

Michael observed that "part of the reason the whole weekend went so smoothly is that everyone was so nice. When you bring together a group of this size, there are likely to be a few folks who are just naturally cranky. Every single last one of the attendees was amazing and I count them all as friends now. At the end of the day on Saturday, I realized that my face hurt from smiling all day. I wasn't smiling because I had to be 'on,' I was smiling because I was having the time of my life."

Chris Morrow, general manager of the Northshire Bookstore, was pleased to see "the passion about books so vibrantly alive. It really showed the power of individuals talking to other people about books. It was proof, if any were needed, that people sell books. There are lessons to be learned about the links between online communities and real communities--about the strengths of each medium. It is clearly not an either/or scenario. Ann and Michael did a fabulous job organizing the weekend. Publishers would be wise to cultivate online communities and work with bookstores to transfer that energy into real life community and book sales."

And, he noted, "We did sell some books!"

In addition to sales from a full display of titles by guest authors in the bookshop, about 90 copies of Two Books I Can't Wait for You to Read sold. Before the retreat, each author and guest had been asked to recommend two favorite books. Michael created an electronic file, which was printed on the Northshire's Espresso Book Machine. Ann said that proceeds from sales would help offset other expenses they incurred. She also expressed gratitude to Other Press, which sent author John Milliken Thompson and editor Katie Henderson to the retreat, and Permanance Matters by Glatfelter, sponsor of Saturday night's cocktail party.

"All of our other authors paid their own travel expenses and gave of their own time--nobody came as part of a publisher's author tour," said Ann. "Our authors were already part of our BOTNS community and many asked to be included, for which we are honored."

Participating writers included Chris Bohjalian, Jon Clinch, Wendy Clinch, Matthew Dicks, Susan Gregg Gilmore, Steve Himmer, Ellen Meeropol and Elizabeth Stuckey-French.

"The authors were incredible," Michael said, "so engaging in the smaller sessions, entertaining at the big event and gracious with their time at the signing after. The audience at the Sunday morning session on the future of books and publishing was so interested in what goes on behind the scenes. Many were very knowledgeable about the difficulties facing the industry."

This week I've heard from several of those authors, who were just as enthusiastic about their experiences at the BOTNS retreat. I'll be sharing their thoughts with you soon.

I attend a lot of events; I was a bookseller for many years; I worry, occasionally, about becoming a little jaded. But, as I said at the beginning of this column, last weekend made me optimistic.

Ann believes "it's impossible for anyone who was part of this weekend to not be excited about the future of books and reading. It's becoming easier and easier to connect readers and authors, and to connect readers with readers, and when it happens, it can be magic. The retreat exceeded my wildest expectations."

I agree, which may be why I can't stop writing about it. Much more on the BOTNS retreat next time.--Robert Gray (column archives available at Fresh Eyes Now)

Photos by Patty Berg


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