Shelf Awareness for Thursday, May 5, 2011


Tor Nightfire: Dead Silence by S A Barnes

Shadow Mountain: The Slow March of Light by Heather B Moore

Berkley Books: Women who defied the odds. These are their stories. Enter giveaway!

Soho Crime: My Annihilation by Fuminori Nakamura, translated by Sam Bett

Shadow Mountain: Missing Okalee by Laura Ojeda Melchor

Sharjah Publishing City Free Zone: Start your entrepreneurial journey with affordable packages, starting from $1,566

Candlewick Press: Mi Casa Is My Home by Laurenne Sala, illustrated by Zara González Hoang

News

Image of the Day: Guys' Club

Not only are there men in this book club, but they're all men. Sponsored by the Friends of the Avon Public Library, Avon, Conn., the book club recently read The Profession by Steven Pressfield (Crown) and then had an hour-and-a-half chat with the author via Skype. Pressfield answered questions, told stories and discussed his book, which is set in 2032 following a third Iran-Iraq war--all the more relevant after the death of Osama bin Laden and the revolutions sweeping the Arab world.

 


Chronicle Books: Inside Cat by Brendan Wenzel


Notes: Borders CEO Speaks; Joseph-Beth's 'New Beginning'

"All I can tell you is that we are here fighting to the end," Borders CEO Mike Edwards told AnnArbor.com in an extensive interview where he acknowledged the myriad challenges to be faced while expressing hope the chain can emerge from court protection as a viable company. "We know we have a business plan that works, but it requires a lot of support to get it there, and our publishers are going to make or break our ability to transform this company at the end of the day."

He also addressed a perceived disconnect with the Ann Arbor community: "When the company was founded here by the Borders brothers, it was a very different environment. Very connected to the cause, very connected to downtown. When it became a multi-billion-dollar global brand, I don't think the thinking was about Ann Arbor anymore. The thinking was, we're running this big company that was based in Michigan....

"No one running a company really wants to screw it up. Like we show up for work every day and say, how do we run this company into the ground? There's been so much turnover at the company over the last four or five years. And a lot of those people still live in Ann Arbor. They don't have warm and loving feelings about an employer that laid them off. And that's understandable. Personally, I love downtown Ann Arbor. I live downtown. I would like to be located down there. It's the right environment for us. But at the end of the day, all the decisions we're making now are economic based and how do we best keep the company surviving in a very turbulent industry."

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Joseph-Beth Booksellers said yesterday that it has "successfully transitioned out of Chapter 11 bankruptcy, ending a nearly six-month reorganization process which led to a new entity assuming daily operations of the Joseph-Beth stores located in Lexington, Cleveland and Cincinnati," LEX 18 reported.

"Today marks a new beginning for our company," said Mark Wilson, Joseph-Beth's president and CEO. "I would like to thank our hard-working associates for their dedication during this process. Without their efforts we would not be making this announcement today. I would also like to thank our customers, vendors, and community partners, whose support enabled us to be in the position we are in today, a stronger, more driven organization. On behalf of everyone here at Joseph-Beth, we look forward to working together to move this company forward." LEX 18 added that the company has invited "customers, friends and community partners to celebrate at Joseph-Beth on Sunday, May 22, during its Customer Appreciation Day."

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What's in a name? Yesterday, the Keep Davis-Kidd Nashville Open Facebook page posted: "More news to come, but an independent bookstore for Nashville is in the works. In the meantime, please help us decide on a name. Open for suggestions also!"

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Barnes & Noble may unveil a new e-book reader later this month, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, which "says simply that the company, in the meeting, 'indicated it expects to make an announcement on May 24, 2011, regarding the launch of a new eReader device,' " MarketWatch reported.

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Hear hear.

On May 23, just as BookExpo America begins, the Authors Guild will honor Terry Gross, host of NPR's Fresh Air, for her "extraordinary service to the American literary community by bringing well-informed conversations with thousands of authors to Fresh Air's vast audience." At the annual Authors Guild dinner, celebrating writers and writing, Gross will receive the Authors Guild Award for Distinguished Service to the Literary Community. John Lithgow will serve as emcee at the dinner, which will be held at the Edison Ballroom in New York City.

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Scott Macdonald has been appointed president and CEO of Zondervan. He had been appointed interim president in March. He joined the company last December as acting general manager of Zondervan's the City unit. Earlier he was president of Lemstone Christian Stores and worked at several technology companies.

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Tenants and business owners at Brooks House in downtown Brattleboro, Vt., are still assessing their long-term prospects after a six-alarm fire last month that caused severe damage to the historic building, which also housed the Book Cellar bookstore (Shelf Awareness, April 19, 2011).

Manager Ana McDaniel told the Commons that "we can't just plop down anywhere. We need a storefront location, and there just isn't much available." McDaniel cited the bookstore's "loyal following"--in person and online--as a key to survival now, adding that many of the store's regular customers have pledged continued support.

Owner Lisa Sullivan, who was on vacation when the fire struck, also owns Bartleby’s Books in Wilmington. "It's the silver lining [in] this disaster," McDaniel observed. "But the loss of business [overall] has been dramatic. The business of selling books in a bricks-and-mortar store is challenging, to say the least. I don't think we could get up and move to a shopping center and expect our following to come with us." McDaniel added that she plans to focus even more on the online side of the business during this transition period.

Despite all the setbacks, the Commons noted that tomorrow the Book Cellar will still host a previously scheduled book signing for Rick Riordan, author of The Kane Chronicles, Book Two: The Throne of Fire, "in the River Garden, a location that was generously offered as an alternative venue."

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How easy is it to order Google eBooks from an indie bookstore? Even Sparky the Sock can find just the right "Goooooogly Books," as the latest video treat from Green Apple Books, San Francisco, Calif., demonstrates.

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We now present photographic evidence of the "Snooki moment," when Jersey Shore icon and sometime author (or at least an unreasonable facsimile in the form of spray-tanned Jon Scieszka) appeared onstage during awards presentations at Monday night's gala kicking off Children's Book Week (Shelf Awareness, May 3, 2011). 



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While Neil Gaiman's fans are legion, they do not include certain Minnesota House Republicans. The Star Tribune reported that when Rep. Dean Urdahl "introduced a new version of a Legacy amendment funding bill that would remove specific money recommendations for the state's influential public radio network and other cultural organizations and said they would instead compete for grants," House Majority Leader Matt Dean complained specifically about a payment of Legacy money last year to Gaiman for a speaking appearance. Dean said that Gaiman, "who I hate," was a "pencil-necked little weasel who stole $45,000 from the state of Minnesota."

Gaiman quickly took up the gauntlet on Twitter and then on his blog. In addition to calling out Dean for saying "the kind of thing that you expect to hear at school from fourteen-year old bullies," Gaiman admitted, "I like 'pencil-necked weasel.' It has 'pencil' in it. Pencils are good things. You can draw or write things with pencils. I think it's what you call someone when you're worried that using a long word like 'intellectual' may have too many syllables. It's not something that people who have serious, important things to say call other people."

But being labeled a "thief" was another matter: "I don't like being called a thief. I'm pretty sure that I know what thieves are and do.... I do not know whether this man is calling me 'a thief' because:

A) I charged more than he's comfortable with for a talk, or
B) People happily pay me a lot of money to come and give talks, or
C) He thinks I gave the talk wearing a stripy sweater to an audience of people who were there at gunpoint and afterwards took their wallets, or
D) He's against the principles of the Free Market, and feels that governments should regulate how much people are paid to talk in public.

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Book trailer of the day: Demon Fish: Travels Through the Hidden World of Sharks by Juliet Eilperin (Pantheon).



GLOW: Flatiron Books: Four Treasures of the Sky by Jenny Tinghui Zhang


Amazon: New Warehouse; NACS Lawsuit; Romance Imprint

Amazon plans to open a new 500,000-square-foot distribution center in Sumner, Wash., this summer. The warehouse, which is already built, will employ several hundred people full time, plus hundreds of temporary workers during the holiday-shopping season.

"Not only do people in Sumner and eastern Pierce County need jobs, but they need quality jobs close to home from good employers," said Sumner Mayor Dave Enslow. "Amazon fits that bill beautifully."

Unlike the company's recent confrontations with South Carolina and Texas, online sales tax issues shouldn't be a problem this time because Amazon already collects sales taxes on purchases by Washington residents, the Seattle Times noted.

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Amazon sued the National Association of College Stores yesterday in federal court in Seattle, "declaring that its advertised discounts of 30% on new college textbooks and 90% on used ones aren't false or misleading," Bloomberg reported. NACS had filed a complaint about Amazon's pricing in March with the Better Business Bureau in New York, according to the filing by Amazon that "seeks an order that its textbook price claims don't violate the Lanham Act, which prohibits false advertising and trademark infringement."

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Amazon Publishing will launch its newest imprint, Montlake Romance, with Connie Brockway's The Other Guy's Bride, scheduled for release this fall. The imprint, which takes its name from the central Seattle neighborhood of Montlake, will publish romantic suspense and contemporary and historic romance novels, as well as fantasy and paranormal.

"Romance is one of our biggest and fastest growing categories, particularly among Kindle customers, so we can't wait to make The Other Guy's Bride and other compelling titles available to romance fans around the world," said Jeff Belle, v-p, Amazon Publishing. "We also know our customers enjoy genre fiction of all kinds, so we are busy building publishing businesses that will focus on additional genres as well."

 


Berkley Books: Good Rich People by Eliza Jane Brazier


PAMA: 'Discoverability Is Key'

The Publishers Advertising and Marketing Association held a lunchtime panel discussion on "E-Books and Emerging Marketing Opportunities" Wednesday afternoon, with about 75 members gathering in a conference room in Random House's office building. All the panelists agreed that "discoverability" was key for success in the e-book market, and, as mundane as it may sound, using the right keywords in e-book product descriptions may be one of the best marketing tools publishers can deploy. Giving e-books away might help in the short term, but it doesn't necessarily drive business. "There's no way to say this without sounding Big Brothery," said Liz Scheier, the editorial director of digital content at Barnes and Noble, "but we can see that when people download a lot of free books, they're just banking them. They're not ever opened or read."

"If you already have an established brand," added branding and content strategist Charlie Schroder, "free is really not necessary." For emerging brands, however, "there's so much free or relatively low-cost content across the board -- even if you're doing free, it needs to be tied to a marketing strategy, it needs to be tied to a discoverability strategy. It's not a standalone strategy." Andrew Littel, strategic partner manager at Google, noted that while the free section of Google Books received a lot of traffic, the company was hesitant to rely too much on free promotions, and was focused much more strongly on building relationships with publishers that would lead to a greater number of backlist titles surfacing during searches.

Scheier also emphasized that the first question publishers should ask themselves when contemplating enhanced e-books is not "what enhanced content can we add to this book?" but "is this a book that needs enhanced content?" In many cases, she argued, especially for fiction, the answer might be no. "A bad video does you absolutely no good," Schroder concurred. "Bad animation does you no good. A stupid game is just a stupid game."

Some of the early questioning was based on the premise that e-book sales ought ultimately to drive print sales, until Scheier finally exclaimed that this wasn't a huge concern for her: "I just want people reading," she said. "I don't care how. I don't care what device." Meanwhile, Littell described an example he'd seen of independent booksellers using their physical storefront to market digital books, by putting shelf talkers with scannable codes next to select titles in the store. "There's a lot more to do [in the independent market] and a lot more to explore," he said. Sometimes, though, you need to rely on factors beyond your control. "The single best thing within the app store system is getting noticed by Apple," Schroder observed. "So if your best friend is Steve Jobs, you're golden."--Ron Hogan

Top row: Liz Scheier, PAMA president David Nudo; bottom row: Andrew Littell, Charlie Schroder, Vook business development manager Margaret Harrison.



Berkley Books: Sadie on a Plate by Amanda Elliot


Lonely Planet on BEA: 24 Hours in New York

It's the truth: New York really is the city that never sleeps. Although you could spend a lifetime here and still not see everything, even with 24 hours to spare you can still pack a lot in, according to Lonely Planet staffer and New York native Ali Lemer.

Morning

Put on your walking shoes and start out early on the Upper West Side with a take-out breakfast from Zabar's, an old-world delicatessen that's a New York institution. Grab a bagel with cream cheese and lox and head east to the intriguing, esoteric American Museum of Natural History, which is housed in a massive 19th-century Beaux Arts building off Central Park West. Join the ever-present herds of local schoolchildren gazing up in awe at the gigantic blue whale (it's a model) suspended from the ceiling of the Ocean Life hall, and take a quick gander at the dinosaur fossils upstairs before you leave.

Those with an astronomical bent can head next door to space out at the Rose Center for Earth & Space (a combined-visit ticket is available); otherwise keep your feet firmly on this planet with a stroll through the urban oasis of Central Park. Head south from the museum to Strawberry Fields, the flower-strewn mosaic memorial to John Lennon that's found in the park opposite his former residence, the Dakota; there may even be an impromptu Beatles jam session for you to join in.

Continue south down the paths of Central Park, past the sunbather-filled 15 acres of Sheep Meadow, to Columbus Circle, where you can do a bit of window-shopping at the Time Warner Center, which has upscale shops of every stripe, as well an enormous Whole Foods Market on the lower level. Grab an inexpensive lunch at Whole Food's cafe (and then treat yourself to a truffle at Godiva Chocolatier on the ground floor). The center is also home to Jazz at Lincoln Center, which offers top-notch jazz against a glass-wall backdrop with amazing views over Midtown; while you're there, stop in and buy some tickets for the late show that night.

Afternoon

Walking south on Broadway will take you through the Theater District to the neon jungle of Times Square, down to Herald Square, home of world-famous department store Macy's, and on to Madison Square Park, where New York's iconic triangular 1902 skyscraper, the Flatiron Building, stands guard just to the south. A few blocks further down Broadway, you can duck into ABC Carpet & Home to browse their six floors of decorative housewares, and then continue on to Union Square, which hosts a year-round Greenmarket every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, with tent stalls bursting with fresh fruit and vegetables, baked goods, cheese, meats and flowers.

Grab a snack from the Greenmarket and have a browse in some of the shops around the square: Filene's Basement for discount designer clothes; Forbidden Planet for sci-fi toys and comics; Footlight Records for musical-theatre vinyl; and the legendary Strand Book Store, where you can find almost any book under the sun in its labyrinth of shelves.

Evening

By now it's late afternoon, so take the 4, 5 or 6 subway from Union Square down to the Brooklyn Bridge/City Hall stop; forget about a visit with Hizzoner (New Yorkese for the mayor) and instead take a walk across the Brooklyn Bridge, one of the great wonders of New York since its completion in 1883. If you just can't get enough of those unforgettable views of the Manhattan skyline twinkling against the dusk, you can keep an eye on it over dinner at the River Cafe, located right on the water underneath the great span. Or else try one of the other (less expensive) local eateries, such as Grimaldi's for pizza or Bubby's for burgers and fried chicken.

After dinner, take the A or C train at High St. back to the 59th St/Columbus Circle stop for that jazz show, or else take a nighttime stroll through the stately townhouses of Brooklyn Heights to end up at the Brooklyn Promenade, a long stretch of riverside pavement that will allow you even more time with that mesmerizing Manhattan view.

 


Media and Movies

Media Heat: Steven Tyler on the Tonight Show

Today on NPR's Diane Rehm Show: Dr. Randy Christensen, author of Ask Me Why I Hurt: The Kids Nobody Wants and the Doctor Who Treats Them (Broadway, $24.99, 9780307718990).

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Tomorrow on the Tonight Show: Steven Tyler, author of Does the Noise in My Head Bother You?: A Rock 'n' Roll Memoir (Ecco, $27.99, 9780061767890).

 


TV Series: South Riding, Part 2

This Sunday the second of three 60-minute episodes of South Riding, based on the novel by Winifred Holtby, airs on PBS's Masterpiece. The last and final one airs on Sunday, May 15. The tie-in edition of South Riding is from BBC Books ($14.95, 9781849902038), distributed here by Trafalgar Square.

 


This Weekend on Book TV: Johnny Appleseed

Book TV airs on C-Span 2 this weekend from 8 a.m. Saturday to 8 a.m. Monday and focuses on political and historical books as well as the book industry. The following are highlights for this coming weekend. For more information, go to Book TV's website.

Saturday, May 7

1:15 p.m. Howard Means, author of Johnny Appleseed: The Man, the Myth, the American Story (S&S, $26, 9781439178256), recounts the life of the often mythologized John Chapman. (Re-airs Sunday at 1:15 a.m. and 10 p.m.)

2 p.m. For an event hosted by Politics & Prose Bookstore, Washington, D.C., Francis Fukuyama, author of The Origins of Political Order: From Prehuman Times to the French Revolution (FSG, $35, 9780374227340), explores the origins of government. (Re-airs Saturday at 11 p.m. and Monday at 7 a.m.)

7 p.m. Maya Soetoro-Ng, President Obama's sister, talks about her children's book Ladder to the Moon (Candlewick, $16.99, 9780763645700). (Re-airs Sunday at 3 a.m.)

8 p.m. The Colby Military Writers' Symposium presents "An Uncertain Future in Afghanistan: Assessing the Conflict Ten Years On," a panel on the Afghanistan War featuring Christopher Coppola, Karl Marlantes, Donna McAleer and Doug Stanton. (Re-airs Sunday at 7 a.m.)

10 p.m. After Words. Armstrong Williams interviews Andrew Breitbart, author of Righteous Indignation: Excuse Me While I Save the World! (Grand Central, $27.99, 9780446572828). Breitbart chronicles his transformation from default liberal to a self-described conservative cultural warrior. (Re-airs Sunday at 9 p.m. and Monday at 12 a.m. and 3 a.m.)

Sunday, May 8

9 a.m. For an event hosted by City Lights Bookstore, San Francisco, Calif., Ha-Joon Chang discusses his book 23 Things They Don't Tell You About Capitalism (Bloomsbury Press, $25, 9781608191666). (Re-airs Sunday at 7:30 p.m.)

1 p.m. David Goldfield, author of America Aflame: How the Civil War Created a Nation (Bloomsbury Press, $35, 9781596917026), examines the role that religion played leading up to the start of the Civil War. (Re-airs Sunday at 10:45 p.m.)

5:15 p.m. Fred Burton, author of Chasing Shadows: A Special Agent's Lifelong Hunt to Bring a Cold War Assassin to Justice (Palgrave Macmillan, $26, 9780230620551), talks about the hunt for the killer of Israeli assistant air attache Josef Alon in 1973. (Re-airs Monday at 2:15 a.m.)

 


Books & Authors

Shelf Starter: An Accidental Sportswriter

An Accidental Sportswriter: A Memoir by Robert Lipsyte (Ecco, $25.99 hardcover, 9780061769139, May 3, 2011)

Opening lines from a book we want to read:

I lined up a summer job in 1957 as helper on a city water truck that would cruise Manhattan filling troughs for the dwindling number of working horses in the city. I had just graduated from Columbia and was headed to Claremont College in California, which was as far from the borough of Queens as I could imagine myself. I had sent a dorm deposit. Once out there, I would fulfill my destiny as a novelist, either starving on the beach because my fiction was too avant-garde or luxuriating by the side of my pool because I had sold out. Both scenarios involved dangerous women. I was an English major.

But I needed a summer job to raise cash for the trip. When the water truck job fell through... I bought my first copy of The New York Times. I'd heard the paper had good classified ads and quickly found one for "editorial assistant" at the Times itself.

The personnel people at the Times were pleasant enough when I showed up at West Forty-third Street that June morning, but patronizing. These jobs are extremely coveted, they said, because you assist New York Times reporters and editors. You get to share their air. It sounded as though I were applying to be a squire for King Arthur's Knights of the Round Table. --selected by Marilyn Dahl

 



Book Review

Book Review: Warm Bodies

Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion (Atria, $24 hardcover, 9781439192313, May 2011)

R is one of many zombies who have taken up residence in the airport of a large American city; sometimes, when the power flickers on, he rides the escalators for fun, but usually there isn't much to do but shuffle aimlessly until it's time to go wander into town and find some humans to feed on. Although R may not be able to speak more than a few syllables at a time, and can't remember his whole name, he has a very active interior life--as evidenced by his eloquent narration--and his existential frustration only intensifies after he eats the brains of one of the Living and begins to fall in love with his victim's girlfriend, Julie. And though she's repulsed at first, Julie soon realizes that R isn't like the other zombies... or the other men she knows, either. "You're so quiet," she marvels early in their blossoming relationship. "You just sit there and listen."

Isaac Marion owes an obvious debt to William Shakespeare (R & Julie, anyone?) but Warm Bodies doesn't belabor the point. You could read the entire novel without realizing what M, the name of R's wise-cracking zombie friend, stands for, and R's efforts to reunite with Julie after their initial separation are so absorbing you almost forget there's a symbolic significance to the balcony scene. (And, ultimately, there's the fact that the ending has been changed to create a more hopeful, optimistic tone.) If Marion leans too hard on any particular crutch, it's the idea that zombies and humans aren't really so different; the "education" scenes designed to show the similarities of their societies are especially heavy-handed. On the other hand, it does lead to the spectacle of zombies fleeing from the undead skeletons that want to destroy them, and that's awfully entertaining.

Marion peppers Warm Bodies with comic touches, like the way the Dead consider "corpse" to be a loaded, derogatory term, but the novel's main theme is completely earnest: just as R is dead on the outside but vibrantly alive on the inside, the young man whose memories flow through him had begun to allow his dreams to die, and equilibrium needs to be restored (not just for the two of them, but for everyone). The story's zombie apocalypse ultimately isn't all that dark or even very scary, but it makes for an entertainingly twisted backdrop for Marion's upbeat message.--Ron Hogan

Shelf Talker: Marion's self-published story "I Am a Zombie Filled with Love" and its subsequent expansion into Warm Bodies led to a film deal even before he sold the book to Atria (and several foreign publishers).

 


The Bestsellers

Top-Selling Titles on AbeBooks.com in April

The bestselling books on AbeBooks.com in April were:

1. How to Read Literature Like a Professor by Thomas C. Foster
2. Water For Elephants by Sara Gruen
3. Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand
4. How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie
5. The Lincoln Lawyer by Michael Connelly
6. A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan
7. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
8. The Anatomy of Persuasion by Norbert Auberchon
9. The Seasons Sewn by Ann Whitford Paul
10. The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman
 
The bestselling signed books on AbeBooks.com in April were:

1. The Good Book: A Secular Bible by A.C. Grayling
2. The Tiger's Wife by Tea Obreht
3. Super Sid: The Story of a Great All Black by Bob Howitt
4. Bossypants by Tina Fey
5. The Wise Man's Fear by Patrick Rothfuss
6. A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness
7. The Emperor of All Maladies by Siddhartha Mukherjee
8. Emerald City by Jennifer Egan
9. A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan
10. Washington Life by Ron Chernow

[Many thanks to AbeBooks.com!]

 


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