Shelf Awareness for Monday, February 13, 2006


Sourcebooks Landmark: Long After We Are Gone by Terah Shelton Harris

Delacorte Press: Last One to Die by Cynthia Murphy

Margaret Ferguson Books: Not a Smiley Guy by Polly Horvath, Illustrated by Boris Kulikov

Indiana University Press: The Grim Reader: A Pharmacist's Guide to Putting Your Characters in Peril by Miffie Seideman

Hell's Hundred: Blood Like Mine by Stuart Neville

Spiegel & Grau: Tiananmen Square by Lai Wen

Tor Books: The Daughters' War (Blacktongue) by Christopher Buehlman

Quotation of the Day

Distribution: 'The Big Battleground'

"Publishers are fighting over distribution the way they used to fight over authors."--David Steinberger, CEO of Perseus, owner of CDS, in an article in today's New York Times about the appeal of distribution to publishers and the growth of comics.


Little, Brown Books for Young Readers: Roswell Johnson Saves the World! (Roswell Johnson #1) by Chris Colfer


Letters

To the Editor: Unfairness Claim Unfair

From Derek Stafford, owner of online bookseller LughnassadhBooks.com, in response to our observation last Friday that independent bricks-and-mortar booksellers are happy about B&N.com collecting sales tax in 38 states and Amazon.com's remarks to a House subcommittee indicating an openness to collecting sales tax:

I can appreciate that Main Street booksellers might be indignant about the underhanded way that large online booksellers like B&N.com and Amazon.com were trying to get out of collecting sales taxes in jurisdictions where they should have been collecting sales taxes. But the argument that legislation forcing online booksellers to collect sales taxes "evens the playing field" is pretty thin.

If we're going to "even the playing field," does that mean that Main Street stores are going to start charging their customers a door fee to approximate the shipping charges we online sellers have to charge?

Yes, you can argue that charging shipping is a regular part of doing business through remote sales, so we shouldn't complain about that. But it's not the kind of thing that helps a remote seller to persuade consumers to buy.

In other words, if Main Street booksellers are losing sales to online booksellers, it's not because consumers are trying to avoid sales taxes--not when the shipping on that online purchase costs them as much as five times more than the sales tax would have
.


Harper: Sandwich by Catherine Newman


News

Notes: Benchley Dies; Textbook Debate

Peter Benchley, best known for one word, died yesterday at his home in Princeton, N.J. He was 65 and suffered from pulmonary fibrosis.

Grandson of the humorist Robert Benchley and son of the novelist Nathaniel Benchley, he created a phenomenon in 1974 with his first novel, Jaws, which the next year became the basis for Steven Spielberg's blockbuster movie. He also wrote The Deep, The Island, Beast, Shark Trouble, Girl of the Sea of Cortez and other titles. After Jaws, he tried to atone for making a shark the villain by promoting marine conservation.

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Students will have a rare chance to talk about textbooks to industry representatives on Saturday morning during the CAMEX show and annual convention of the National Association of College Stores in Houston, March 3-7.

Debate teams from the University of Houston and Texas State University will argue for and against the statement: "Colleges and universities should begin phasing out the use of hard copy textbooks during the next five years." For pre-debate warmups, click here.

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The Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance (formerly SEBA) has finished the first step of its three-part process toward picking the 2006 SIBA Book Awards. Member booksellers have nominated more than 120 books in five categories--children's, cookbook, fiction, nonfiction and poetry--and will now choose three to six finalists in each category. The list of nominees is posted on SIBA's Web site.

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In other SIBA news, the alliance has added a "document library" to its Web site where member stores can find templates for co-op claim forms, letters to authors, worksheets, signage, media contacts and more. SIBA booksellers have donated the material and are expected to continue adding samples.

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Since becoming the first senior fellow for media at the Century Foundation last month, Peter Osnos, founder and editor-at-large of PublicAffairs, has begun a weekly commentary that's available on the foundation's Web site. One of the first columns, called "Homer, Hemingway, and the Palm Pilot: The Changing Business of Books," looks at the issue of how recent technological change will affect the book chain model that has predominated since the time of Gutenberg. He writes: "The challenge for writers and publishers, in particular, but also for booksellers and libraries, is to corral all these developments in a way that makes sense and begins to provide a business model for the future." Osnos, of course, is working on such a business model; the project is based at the University of North Carolina Press and has the cooperation of other non-profit publishers.

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The Book Standard is promoting the concept of book videos--trailers for books aimed at online viewers and cell phone users--and is holding a contest offering prizes to the best book videos made for three Bantam Dell Publishing Group titles appearing in April, May and June. The contest is open to film students at four schools. The storyboard and script design submission deadline is this Wednesday, February 15. For a trailer-like introduction, click here.

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Funny. P.J. O'Rourke, Henry Alford and Celia Rivenbark have been named judges for the 2006 Thurber Prize for American Humor, which is sponsored by the Thurber House, the center for writers and readers housed in the boyhood home of James Thurber in Columbus, Ohio. The award will be presented this year on November 6 at the New York City's Algonquin Hotel, another of Thurber's homes. Last year's winner was Jon Stewart and the writers of the Daily Show for America (The Book).

Submissions for humorous titles published in 2005 can be made to Thurber House in the categories of novel, short story collection and nonfiction. For more information, go to www.thurberhouse.org.


Spiegel & Grau: Tiananmen Square by Lai Wen


Seajay and Store Launch 'More Books for Women'

One of our favorite fellow bookselling journalists (and there aren't many of us!) is expanding her newsletter coverage.

Books to Watch Out For, which publishes two monthly book review newsletters online and in print, is teaming up with Women & Children First, the Chicago feminist bookstore, to launch its third newsletter, called More Books for Women. For "the inner feminist in us all," as publisher Carol Seajay put it, More Books for Women focuses on books with "a bent toward strong women characters, full gender and racial equality, and progressive politics and social change that smash sex-role stereotypes for both children and adults."

She added that the women of Women & Children First "spend all day, every day, finding the best books for women and making them easy to get. Their reading interests cover the waterfront--from edgy punk fiction to literary fiction, from politics and biography to world-changing books for kids and teens." The newsletter will also feature mystery reviews from Nan Cinnater, former owner of Now, Voyager bookstore in Provincetown, Mass., and a regular mystery book columnist.

Seajay was the publisher of the Feminist Bookstore News, a sterling publication for many years, and compiles Books to Watch Out For's Lesbian Edition newsletter. The Gay Men's Edition is compiled by Richard Labonte, former manager of A Different Light bookstores. The newsletters were founded in 2003, and each issue contains 25-30 book reviews and industry news.

Through June, Books to Watch Out For is offering a free trial subscription to the newsletters, which usually cost $30 a year online and $42 a year via mail with some discount for combinations. For more information, go to BTWOF's Web site.


Beltway Book Club: Worth the Price of Admission

Here's a lucrative book club idea--so long as you're the chairman of a House committee. From a Business Week feature called "Shakedown on K Street," which suggests that despite the Abramoff scandal, members of Congress continue to demand money from lobbyists:

"Lawmaker solicitations are legion and often quite creative. Take the case of House Financial Services Chairman Michael G. Oxley (R-Ohio) and his book club. Each month a junior member of Oxley's committee picks a book and distributes copies to financial lobbyists to read and discuss. The price of admission is a contribution to the featured member. The lobbyists get face time with Oxley, who largely controls the Washington agenda for their industries. Oxley, who is retiring after 2006, wins the loyalty of his low-ranking colleagues by helping them score contributions. But the sessions are hardly educational: Panel members' tastes run more to motivational screeds than to tomes on finance, attendees say. 'I've never read one of the books,' says a regular. 'Are you kidding me? Read? I went to law school.'

"Advancing literacy in the legal profession isn't the point. While Oxley has never personally pressured him to ante up, says another financial-services lobbyist, he feels compelled to attend. 'I feel like I have to give, even though I never otherwise would, because it's coming from Oxley,' the lobbyist says. Oxley aides did not return repeated calls for comment."



Media and Movies

Media Heat: Pre-Valentine Baby Business

Today on WNYC's Leonard Lopate Show:

  • Kiran Desai, who talks about her new, second novel, The Inheritance of Loss (Atlantic Monthly, $24, 0871139294).
  • Debora L. Spar whose brainchild is The Baby Business: How Money, Science, and Politics Drive the Commerce of Conception (Harvard Business School Press, $26.95, 1591396204), whose pub date is, of all days, Valentine's Day.

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Tonight astronaut Mike Mullane, whose new book is Riding Rockets: The Outrageous Tales of a Space Shuttle Astronaut (Scribner, $26, 0743276825), makes a landing on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart.


Books & Authors

Book Sense: May We Recommend

From last week's Book Sense bestseller lists, available at www.booksense.com, here are the recommended titles, which are also Book Sense Picks:

Hardcover

Striver's Row by Kevin Baker (HarperCollins, $26.95, 0060195835). "This riveting novel evokes the color and atmosphere of 1940s Harlem with a cast of characters that includes a young man later to become Malcolm X. As with the best historical novels, Baker beautifully recreates the era, from the seaminess of its dives to the religious and political turmoil of the wartime period. This book transcends the label 'historical fiction'--it is, simply, great literature."--Matthew Lage, Iowa Book, Iowa City, Iowa

She Got Up Off the Couch: And Other Heroic Acts from Mooreland, Indiana by Haven Kimmel (Free Press, $24, 0743284992). "Zippy is back and she's more charming than ever! The quirky Jarvis family of Mooreland, Indiana, is forever changed when Zippy's mom, Delonda, applies for college, buys an ancient VW Beetle, and drives away into her future. As poignant as it is funny, this book will delight you."--Molly Beck, Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, N.C.

Paperback

Washington's Crossing by David Hackett Fischer (Oxford, $17.95, 019518159X). "This is a fascinating account by one of our most respected historians of the Christmas night crossing of the Delaware River. A volume in Oxford University Press' Pivotal Moments in American History series, it won the Pulitzer Prize for history in 2005."--Carole Horne, Harvard Book Store, Cambridge, Mass.

Ages 9 to 12

Noisy Outlaws, Unfriendly Blobs, and Some Other Things That Aren't as Scary, Maybe, Depending on How You Feel About Lost Lands, Stray Cellphones, Creatures From the Sky, Parents Who Disappear in Peru, a Man Named Lars Farf, and One Other Story We Couldn't Quite Finish, So Maybe You Could Help Us Out by the editors of McSweeney's (McSweeney's, $22, 1932416358). "This book is like fruitcake-nutty, stuffed with fruity bits, and with a flavor that has to be tasted to be believed. A collection of stories that you'll never forget (even if you want to), it also features a challenge on the dust jacket for any aspiring writer."--Mara Lynn, Chapter One Book Store, Hamilton, Mont.

[Many thanks to Book Sense!]


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