Shelf Awareness for Friday, June 17, 2011

Random House Worlds: Damsel by Evelyn Skye

St. Martin's Press: The Girls of Summer by Katie Bishop

Soho Crime: The Rope Artist by Fuminori Nakamura, transl. by Sam Bett

Flatiron Books: Once Upon a Prime: The Wondrous Connections Between Mathematics and Literature by Sarah Hart

Grand Central Publishing: Goodbye Earl: A Revenge Novel by Leesa Cross-Smith

Texas Bookman Presents Texas Remainder Expo

Steve Madden Ltd: The Cobbler: How I Disrupted an Industry, Fell from Grace, and Came Back Stronger Than Ever by Steve Madden and Jodi Lipper

St. Martin's Griffin: The Bookshop by the Bay by Pamela M. Kelley

Quotation of the Day

Happy Father's Day

"Through his example he has shown me that what you fear is your biggest failure, 200 pages later leads to your greatest joy; that an event on page 151 that seems terribly important, may end up being but a minor footnote by the end of the book; that the other characters--your friends, your family--are just as important to shaping the overall story as you are. And that ultimately, it is the tone, the language, the characterization--in other words, our attitude and demeanor, our day-to-day ordinary actions and exchanges, the constant choices we make about how to be with ourselves and how to be with others--that determine whether a story is ultimately forgettable, or whether, as in his case, it is memorable, inspiring, and meaningful."

--Allison Hill, president and COO of Vroman's Bookstore and Book Soup in southern California, in the Huffington Post about her father, who is a passionate reader and who, when he taught her about books, "was teaching me about life."


Blackstone Publishing: What Remains by Wendy Walker


Image of the Day: Lucky Duck

On Wednesday, Mary Kay Andrews, whose new book, Summer Rental (St. Martin's Press), is set in Nags Head, N.C., was flying from Boston, Mass., to Norfolk, Va., for signings that day at Island Bookstore, which has locations in Duck and Corolla, just up the Outer Banks from Nags Head. At Washington's National Airport, her connecting flight was at first delayed and then cancelled. Andrews then took a cab to Baltimore-Washington International Airport, where she was able to catch a flight. When she arrived in Norfolk (five hours late), Island Bookstore owner Bill Rickman and manager Meaghan Beasley sped her to Duck, where a large crowd awaited her. An hour into her signing, she heard from her editor that Summer Rental makes its debut at #5 on this weekend's New York Times bestseller list, leading her to call the Outer Banks and Island Bookstore her good-luck charm.


GLOW: Flatiron Books: Bad Summer People by Emma Rosenblum

Notes: Google Affiliate Network; Kindle's E-Book Spam

Yesterday Google officially launched its eBooks affiliate program, through which retailers, bloggers, book publishers and other website owners in the U.S. "can link to Google eBooks on their sites for any of the hundreds of thousands of titles available for sale, earning a commission for referring sales to the Google eBookstore," wrote Pratip Banerji, Google Books team product manager, on the Inside Google Books blog. A beta version of the affiliates program was introduced last December with Goodreads. Potential affiliates must join the Google AdSense program and be approved, then join the Google Affiliate Network program and be approved, before signing up as a Google eBooks affiliate.

ZDNet noted that Google "would seem to be a bit late to the affiliate game, but the e-book effort comes as Amazon has been cutting affiliates as states push the e-tailer to collect taxes."


Publisher J.T. Colby and Co. has filed a lawsuit against Apple in U.S. Southern District Court for New York, claiming that Apple's use of the term "iBook"is a trademark violation. CNet News reported that the publisher "claims the trademark was acquired in 2006 and 2007 along with various assets of Byron Preiss, who had published more than 1,000 books under the 'ibooks' brand starting in 1999."


A flood of e-book spam "that is far from being book worthy" is clogging the online bookstore of the Kindle e-reader, with thousands of e-books "being published through Amazon's self-publishing system each month," Reuters reported, adding: "Many are not written in the traditional sense. Instead, they are built using something known as Private Label Rights, or PLR content, which is information that can be bought very cheaply online then reformatted into a digital book."

Internet marketing specialist Paul Wolfe said one popular tactic involves copying an e-book that has started selling well and republishing it with new titles and covers to appeal to a slightly different demographic, Reuters wrote.

"It's getting to be a more widespread problem," said Susan Daffron, president of Logical Expressions. "Once a few spammers find a new outlet like this, hoards of them follow. Amazon will definitely have to do more quality control, unless they want the integrity of their products to drop."

Forrester Research's James McQuivey noted that Amazon is curating submissions to its new Kindle Singles business "after seeing how quickly the self-published side degenerated."


This may be a moot point if Borders Group's bankruptcy lenders and the unsecured creditors' committee agree to changes in Borders' bankruptcy financing terms--on Wednesday Borders said an agreement on the matter is imminent (Shelf Awareness, June 16, 2011)--but landlords of two of the 51 stores Borders said it reluctantly had to begin closing (since reduced to 40) have stated in bankruptcy court papers that they have already granted extensions for Borders to accept or reject leases. The stores are the Downtown Crossing store in Boston, Mass.--what Borders calls its New England flagship--and the Borders superstore in Key West, Fla. In both cases, the landlords agreed in April to extensions until January 12, 2012, making a closing for this reason unnecessary.


Sam Weller's Books, Salt Lake City, Utah, has found its new home. More than two years after announcing plans to leave the downtown location it has occupied since 1961, the bookstore "will be moving to a 10,000-square-foot space once housing the Trolley Square Theatres on the shopping center's southwest corner," the Tribune reported. Owners Catherine and Tony Weller have signed a lease with Trolley Square, and estimate the relocation will be completed this fall.

"Though we will leave our Main Street home of 50 years with a certain sadness, we are excited to embrace the possibilities of designing a new millennial bookstore," they said in a statement. "We have considered our bookselling heritage, the evolving book industry and the effects of computers and digitization in conceiving of our future bookstore."


The American Booksellers Association and indie booksellers offered enthusiastic reviews of last week's 25 e-books for 25 cents promotion, held in partnership with publisher Unbridled Books. Bookselling This Week reported that during the three-day promotion, 145 indie bookstores sold 15,807 Unbridled e-books, with Emily St. John Mandel's The Singer's Gun topping the bestseller list.

"ABA considers the Unbridled promotion to be an unparalleled success," said Len Vlahos, ABA COO. "While we recognize that selling books for a quarter is not only unsustainable, but is fraught with other issues, this experiment did demonstrate that consumers are interested in buying e-books from independent bookstores. Our challenge now is to find compelling reasons to continue to attract consumers to our stores websites, and we're confident we can help our members do that. We're grateful to Unbridled for taking the initiative in creating this promotion, and for their continued dedication to the indie bookstore channel."

Kelly Justice, owner of Fountain Bookstore, Richmond, Va., said, "I think it really raised awareness of the fact that we provide e-books. There are not enough ways for me to express how much I love Unbridled. I just love their creativity and willingness to work with indie bookstores. They are gutsy and willing to try anything, and this was a brilliant idea on their part. It really allowed us to showcase an imprint that we don't do as regularly as we should."


Last March in her store's newsletter, Jacqie Hasan, owner of Old Firehouse Books, Fort Collins, Colo., sounded an alarm to her community that the shop was having a "lean spring" and asked customers to consider buying just one more book per month. The appeal has been successful, with April sales up 8%, Bookselling This Week reported.

"I'd encourage bookstore owners to be honest with their customers," said Hasan, who carefully considered her tone in all communications with patrons. "We don't have to be cynically negative or make customers feel guilty. I've run into angry owners ranting at me in the past at other small businesses, and it honestly makes me uncomfortable as a customer. Your customers are the reason that you're in business, and it's better to tap that resource early, rather than explain later why you are closing your store."


Poets & Writers magazine recommended 33 Twitter feeds to follow for "engaging, entertaining tweets that will keep you updated on all things literary." We're happy and grateful to note that the list includes @ShelfAwareness as well as Shelf Awareness editor and inventor of #fridayreads, Bethanne Patrick, aka @thebookmaven.


Approximately 200 cabs in Cairo have joined the "Taxi of Knowledge" initiative, which was launched by Alef Bookstores "as a way to make reading a daily habit among Egyptians from the middle class," Al-Masry Al-Youm reported. Alef lends taxi drivers five books at a time to place in their cars for free perusal. They can be exchanged for other titles at any time.

More than 10,000 books have been donated to the project. Taxi driver Mohamed Saber said, "So far it's been a fantastic idea. It has allowed me to engage in discussions with my passengers that aren't necessarily personal but carry meaning. At night I am also able to read the books myself and share them with my family."


For last-minute Father's Day gift shoppers, NPR's Three Books series turned to Jim Axelrod, who offered his choices under the headline "Papa Don't Preach: 3 Dads Who Are Out of Reach."


The Daily Beast showcased Kathie Lee Gifford's favorite books, noting that when she’s not busy on TV, the Today Show host "is an avid reader and writer."


The Huffington Post featured a photo slide show called "Bloomsday 2011: Bloomsday Around the World."


Publishers are invited to send any cool promo materials they'd like to show off at the Denver Publishing Institute this summer to Carl Lennertz, who's teaching marketing for a week in late July. The materials will be displayed on tables for the week for students. Send items to Carl at HarperCollins, 10 E. 53rd St., 16th Floor, New York, N.Y. 10022.


Book trailer of the day, just in time to get fired up for July 4th: The Practical Pyromaniac: Build Fire Tornadoes, One-Candlepower Engines, Great Balls of Fire, and More Incendiary Devices by William Gurstelle (Chicago Review Press). Pyros should also check out Gurstelle's "fire tornado" and the "flame tube."


Leah Wasielewski has been promoted to senior director of marketing for Harper, Harper Business and Broadside Books. Before joining Harper last year as marketing director, she worked 10 years in the book publicity and marketing, most recently as senior publishing manager, marketing specialist at Simon & Schuster.


William Morrow & Company: The God of Good Looks by Breanne Mc Ivor

Cool Idea of the Day: Unforgettable Yarns

Last night the Andover Bookstore, Andover, Mass., held a grand opening celebration for Unforgettable Yarns, its new 500-sq.-ft. in-store shop that sells yarn, knitting supplies and books.

The first stitches in the Unforgettable Yarns story began last winter, when Andover Bookstore manager Jen Salamone began teaching knitting classes at the store. "I found that I had to send people so far away to get decent yarn," she said. "How silly that we didn't have a place nearby, especially with such a large number of knitters in the area." She did some research, found out that the community was enthusiastic about a possible knitting store, and proposed the idea to Bob Hugo, owner of HugoBooks, which owns the Andover Bookstore. Et voila!


G.P. Putnam's Sons: The Celebrants by Steven Rowley

Media and Movies

Media Heat: The Reading Promise on NPR's Weekend Edition

Sunday on NPR's Weekend Edition: Alice Ozma, author of The Reading Promise: My Father and the Books We Shared (Grand Central, $24.99, 9780446583770).


Sunday on CBS' Sunday Morning: Jeffry S. Life, author of The Life Plan: How Any Man Can Achieve Lasting Health, Great Sex, and a Stronger, Leaner Body (Atria, $26, 9781439194584).

Television: The Viagra Diaries

Goldie Hawn will star in an HBO series being developed by Sex and the City creator and executive producer Darren Star and based on The Viagra Diaries by Barbara Rose Brooker. reported that Star "is writing the script and is executive producing the project with Hawn, Aaron Kaplan and Wendy, Peter and Alan Riche."

Movie Trailers: Final Potter Preview; Moneyball

Here it is: the final trailer for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2. The movie, the last adventure in the series, opens July 15 (but you already knew that!)

--- featured a trailer for Moneyball, adapted from the bestselling book Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game by Michael Lewis. The movie stars Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill, Robin Wright and Philip Seymour Hoffman.


Movies: Safe Haven; Labor Day

Relativity Media announced that Lasse Hallstrom will direct the film adaptation of Safe Haven by Nicholas Sparks. The Wrap reported that Hallstrom, who also helmed Sparks's Dear John, "has directed a raft of adaptations, including My Life as a Dog, The Cider House Rules, The Shipping News and Chocolat." Safe Haven will go into production this year.


Kate Winslet is in negotiations to join Josh Brolin in the movie version of Labor Day by Joyce Maynard, "the latest Jason Reitman project that will shoot next year," the Hollywood Reporter wrote.


Books & Authors

Awards: BBC Samuel Johnson Prize Shortlist

Finalists for the £20,000 (US$32,252) BBC Samuel Johnson Prize for Nonfiction are:

Mao's Great Famine by Frank Dikötter
Caravaggio by Andrew Graham Dixon
Liberty's Exiles by Maya Jasanoff
The Rational Optimist by Matt Ridley
Bismarck: A Life by Jonathan Steinberg
Reprobates by John Stubbs

Ben Macintyre, chair of the judges, called the shortlist  "a tribute to the breadth and depth of nonfiction writing, a reflection of a remarkable publishing year in which more books have been considered for the prize than ever before." This year's winner will be announced July 6.


Book Brahmins: John Wiley, Jr., and Ellen F. Brown

Ellen F. Brown is a freelance writer from Richmond, Va. Her first book, Margaret Mitchell's Gone with the Wind: A Bestseller's Odyssey from Atlanta to Hollywood, co-authored with John Wiley, Jr., offers a behind-the-scenes look at one of the most popular and controversial novels in publishing history. It was published by Taylor Trade in February 2011.

Co-author John Wiley, Jr., has been a GWTW fan since first reading Margaret Mitchell's book at age 10. He has assembled one of the largest collections of Mitchell and GWTW memorabilia in private hands and has published a quarterly newsletter, The Scarlett Letter, for fans and collectors, for more than 20 years. By day, he is manager of employee communications at a major utility company.


On your nightstand now:

Wiley: The Civil War: A Narrative by Shelby Foote. What better time to read this than during the sesquicentennial year? All My Life by Susan Lucci--a fun read. Liberty Bible Commentary New Testament. A couple of years ago, I scratched another item off my "bucket list": I finally read the entire Bible through in a year. I decided to follow up with a commentary on the New Testament. And I'm sort of embarrassed to admit this, but I have a copy of my own book on my nightstand. As a first-time author, I'm still thrilled enough to want to look at it occasionally.

Brown: Elizabeth Taylor: A Passion for Life by Joseph Papa, Planting Dandelions: Field Notes from a Semi-Domesticated Life by Kyran Pittman and Life and Death in Shanghai by Nien Chang.


Favorite book when you were a child:

Wiley: Curious George Rides a Bike. As I got older, I couldn't get enough of the Hardy Boys and Happy Hollisters mystery series.

Brown: It's a toss-up between the Little House books and the Nancy Drew mysteries. Both taught me that smart girls have the most fun.

Your top five authors:

Wiley: Margaret Mitchell, of course! Leon Uris, a master storyteller on a grand scale, although under-appreciated today. John Grisham, a most readable author, from the suspense to some of his later forays outside the legal thriller genre. Rick Bragg, a writer whose words and phrases give you goosebumps... and almost make you cry because you know you can never write as well as he does. David Thomson, biographer extraordinaire of Hollywood lives and legends.

Brown: I can't play favorites with authors. There are too many good ones, and I hate the thought of ranking them in any way. But I will say there's a special place in my heart for Willa Cather, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Nella Larsen, Nevil Shute and Oscar Wilde.


Book you've faked reading:

Wiley: I've never really done this. I'm too afraid of getting found out and unmasked!

Brown: I couldn't get through the first chapter of Moby Dick. I've never actually faked reading it, but I've probably nodded knowingly on occasion when it's come up in conversation.


Book you're an evangelist for:

Wiley: All Over but the Shoutin' by Rick Bragg. I laughed and cried while reading this incredible tribute to his mother, and I called friends to read sections out loud.

Brown: Other than Gone with the Wind, which I think is tremendously underrated by many people, I have been obsessed lately with Audrey Niffenegger's The Night Bookmobile. I first read it while on a family car trip and frightened my husband and children by bursting into tears at the last page. It's a gem of a book about loving to read.


Book you've bought for the cover:

Wiley: Hearst's San Simeon: The Gardens and the Land. I am still enthralled from my first visit to the Hearst Castle several years ago, and the dust jacket (and photo cover) of this book offer only a hint of the breathtaking photographs inside.

Brown: Many, many books designed by Chip Kidd.


Book that changed your life:

Wiley: It's the obvious choice in my case--Gone with the Wind. Not only have I co-written my first book, but many of my best friends have come into my life because of Margaret Mitchell's story.

Brown: Truman Capote's In Cold Blood made me want to be a writer but also terrified me that I'd never be good enough.


Favorite line from a book:

Wiley: Once again, it's Gone with the Wind. (Is this an obsession, or what?) Seriously, the older I get, the more meaning I find in Scarlett's vow that "Tomorrow is another day." With the dawn of each new day, we really do get a second chance, and a third and a fourth.

Brown: The final paragraph of Willa Cather's My Antonia is lovely. I especially like: "The feelings of that night were so near that I could reach out and touch them with my hand. I had the sense of coming home to myself, and of having found out what a little circle man's experience is."


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

Wiley: Misery by Stephen King. It was the first book I literally did not put down until I had read the entire thing. I was exhausted, but almost too creeped out to try to sleep. As an aspiring author at the time, I certainly hoped any book I might write would inspire loyal fans... but not like Annie Wilkes!

Brown: Independent People by Halldór Laxness. Although I took a lot from the book when I read it in my early 20s, I wish I could have the experience of discovering it again now that I have a few more years under my belt.


Book Review

Book Review: The Gap Year

The Gap Year by Sarah Bird (Knopf, $25.95 hardcover, 9780307592798, July 5, 2011)

A gap year is the time taken off after completion of secondary education and before beginning higher education. Time-honored in practice, a gap year can be tricky, especially if the only one expecting a gap year is the student.

Such is the case in this trenchant mother-daughter saga. Cam Lightsey is buying dust ruffles and extra pillows for daughter Aubrey to take to college, while Aubrey has no intention of going, but there is more to the story. Martin, Cam's ex and Aubrey's father, left home when Aubrey was a toddler to join a religious cult filled with celebrities. The cult demanded no contact with nonbelievers, so Cam has raised Aubrey on her own, all the while torching for Martin. 

Free-spirited Cam made the sacrifice to move to the 'burbs so Aubrey could get a better education. But she doesn't fit; she is definitely not one of the ladies who lunch. Cam is a lactation consultant, and loves her work, while the suburban mamas in her ken would rather not talk about it, thank you.

Aubrey has always been a good kid--grinding out good grades, staying out of trouble--and she's just about had it with that program. She is sick of being a band geek, wearing a really stupid hat and waiting, waiting for something like real life to begin. On a stupefyingly hot day, while at band practice, she faints on her way to get a drink and is revived by the quarterback hero--and throws up all over him. He is Tyler Moldenhauer, complete with bad teeth and a mysterious past, living in the coach's garage and, for some reason, he's interested in Aubrey. So begins her real life. Then, Aubrey's father contacts her on Facebook and that real life kicks into high gear.

Told in alternating chapters by Cam and Aubrey, the story takes in Aubrey's entire senior year. Cam grows more and more desperate for reconnection with her daughter, while Aubrey is spending all her free time with Tyler. Bird (The Boyfriend School) does a masterful job of telling us just enough about Tyler, Cam's worries, Aubrey's discovery of her self and her father to keep us wondering how it will all turn out. Martin, the wild card, returns; Aubrey disappears on the day she is supposed to leave for college--and the game's afoot, leading to a surprising conclusion. --Valerie Ryan

Shelf Talker: A trenchant mother-daughter saga, with conflict about college attendance, a boyfriend, an absent father and a mother's desire to raise her child right.


Deeper Understanding

Robert Gray: Who Will Handsell Digital Audiobooks?

Handselling audiobooks has its own distinctive pleasures for booksellers, not the least of which is the chance to evangelize about a book you love as well as a narrator whose voice does the story justice. One of my favorite examples is Vladimir Nabokov's novel Lolita, read by Jeremy Irons. After its release in the late 1990s, the audiobook quickly became a staff favorite and perennial bestseller at the bookstore where I worked, and remained so from the time of its early incarnation as boxed cassettes through the age of CDs.

But what about now? Who's handselling the digital edition of Lolita?

The future of audiobooks for indie bookstores is a cloudy one. In many ways, it is cloudier than that of e-books, which now at least have a viable option with Google.

It's not that indies aren't trying to work with what they've got. On the blog for Odyssey Books, South Hadley, Mass., Emily Crowe noted that she "lives for audiobooks" and offered "a few solid recommendations for GREAT audio performances that you can take to the bank. Check 'em out of your local library or pop in to your nearest brick & mortar bookstore to pick 'em up."

I share Emily's enthusiasm, and know from personal experience how easy it is to get a customer excited about a great audiobook. "You must listen to this" can be just as convincing as "You must read this" in a handselling conversation. But I also worry that indies could be eliminated from the retail audio equation as more and more customers walk or drive around with sophisticated audiobook downloading devices (smartphones, iPads, etc.) tucked discreetly in their pockets and purses.
"Our members have been reaching out to us more about digital audiobooks in the past six months," said Matt Supko, technology director for the American Booksellers Association. "We are still focused on e-books--improving the customer experience and helping our members be competitive in that digital space--but the interest in digital audio is definitely there and we are beginning to explore how we might add them for our IndieCommerce users."

Matt Norcross, owner of McLean & Eakin Booksellers, Petoskey, Mich., is a member of ABA's digital task force. For him, the importance of audiobooks is personal as well as professional: "I think I feel so strongly about digital audio because I'm dyslexic. Growing up I didn't have an instinctual love of reading; it was a very difficult and arduous thing for me. It wasn't until I was given the complete unabridged audio of the Chronicles of Narnia as a fourth grader that I began to understand reading could be for pleasure. I literally wore those tapes out while reading along the entire way."

Parents have spoken to him "with worry in their eyes about how their child is struggling with reading, and I always let them know what worked for me as a kid. And yes, there are many times I send a parent out of the store with not just a book but also the unabridged audio of that book."

Ultimately, it's this personal commitment that adds value to the exchange for both bookseller and customer. "At the end of the day, this is why I feel audiobooks are so important, but publishers need to know that if they aren't going to make a digital format available for me to sell, then all that passion I feel for audiobooks is going to be lost to them," he said.  

Norcross also observed that during the evolution of audiobooks from "from vinyl (yes, I remember children's books on vinyl) to cassette to CD, the previous format has gone extinct. You'll be hard-pressed to find a store with cassette audiobooks on their shelves. We're currently in transition to digital audiobooks, and in my opinion the only thing standing in the way is the fact that car manufacturers still put CD players in their cars. Once this stops, I believe the days of CD audiobooks will be numbered. I don't want to scramble to find a solution at that time; I want a solution now. Booksellers and publishers will need to work together to solve this problem, but thankfully both sides are more eager than ever to accomplish this."

I'd love to hear from other indie booksellers regarding the current state of audiobooks, as well as their hopes/expectations/fears for the future. And then there's that nagging question to consider: Who will handsell digital audiobooks?--Robert Gray (column archives available at Fresh Eyes Now)

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