Shelf Awareness for Tuesday, July 26, 2011
Quotation of the Day
Image of the Day: Land of Plenty
Earlier this month, Yotam Ottolenghi, the London chef and author of Plenty: Vibrant Vegetable Recipes from London's Ottolenghi (Chronicle Books), visited California to dish up plenty. Here he appears with Ingrid Nystrom of Books Inc. in San Francisco.
Notes: BAM/Borders Deal Nixed; Apple Busts E-Reader Apps
Books-A-Million has ended its bid to buy 30 Borders stores it expressed interest in last Thursday, when Borders' liquidation plan was accepted by the court in its bankruptcy case. Books-A-Million said that the parties couldn't agree on terms and that going-out-of-business sales that started at the Borders stores had put the kibosh on the deal. BAM had said last week it wanted to buy the stores in their pre-sale state.
"We worked exhaustively in an effort to acquire these stores and reach an agreement with all of the parties whose consent was necessary," BAM chairman, president and CEO Clyde Anderson said in a statement. "Unfortunately we were unsuccessful."
BAM had been interested in buying 21 superstores and nine smaller format stores as well as securing an option to buy another five stores. The stores ranged across the country and would have expanded the chain's presence beyond the South and Midwest for the first time.
Based on its record this year, Books-A-Million may yet open in some of the locations--but on its own, after the Borders stores are closed. Only yesterday, for example, the owner of the Huntington Mall in Barboursville, W. Va., said that a BAM will open by the holiday season in the 19,000-sq.-ft. location of one of the 399 Borders stores that is now going out of business, according to the Herald-Dispatch.
"We're delighted that the arrangements were able to be expedited so that the space can be leased to another nationally acclaimed bookstore retailer before Christmas," Joe Johnston, general manager of the Huntington Mall, said. "The Borders store here was a successful store and Books-A-Million knows that, so they weren't hesitant at all to sign a lease for that space."
Kobo's announcement over the weekend that users of its iPhone/iPad app could no longer purchase books (Shelf Awareness, July 25, 2011) was just the beginning of the end for integrated e-bookstores as Apple "finally brought the hammer down on e-reader apps, enforcing its new in-app subscription rules that require app developers to strip out any links to external mechanisms for purchasing digital books or subscriptions," CNet reported. On Monday, Amazon and Barnes & Noble also "updated their iOS e-reader apps" so customers will have to purchase e-books on the companies' websites, then sync their libraries via the apps.
The Google Books app was missing from the iTunes store for a time yesterday, but returned after changes were made "that put it in line with Apple’s newly-enforced rules," Reuters noted.
ZDNet's Matthew Miller considered the long-term implications of Apple's move, wondering if "people will find it better to just go with something like a dedicated Nook, Kobo eReader, or Amazon Kindle eInk device. I know I have moved to reading more books on these dedicated devices and really only read on my smartphone or tablet if I don't have an ebook reader with me. For times when I want to sit and read for a couple of hours though these eInk readers are what I go to since the experience is so much better than an application on a mobile platform."
This morning, TechCrunch wrote that "yesterday's 'Everybody panic!' is today's 'Meh.' " B&N, Amazon, and Google Books have all taken pains to make it abundantly clear that you can only buy their e-books from the e-store 'through the Safari browser on their device or any computer' (to quote B&N) and have removed direct links to those stores from their Nook apps.... We now return you to your regularly scheduled Internet outrage."
On a weekend trip to the Hamptons, Book Bench's Macy Halford was delighted to find a "Hipster Lit" section at the BookHampton store in Sag Harbor: "I think this is a very good selection of hipster lit, though I can already hear the banshees howling that it's incomplete. Where is Eggers? Where’s D.F.W.? Where's Murakami? (Op! He’s on the shelf above, which I believe belonged to the plain old 'literature' section.) Where are Lydia Davis, Miranda July, and Vendela Vida? Why are there no female authors?"
Halford admitted that "all descriptions of hipsters are doomed to disappoint, because they will not be the hipsters you know. So a bookstore in the Hamptons can make suggestions about what literature it feels most embodies the movement without having to get it 'exactly right.' "
In an update, Halford noted that Kim Lombardini, BookHampton's marketing manager and one of the hipster section's curators, informed her "that they have an in-word for all the hipsters that come into the shop. They are, perfectly, 'Hampsters.' "
In the wake of the Borders liquidation, the Charlotte Observer focused on the fortunes of Park Road Books, the 4,000-sq.-ft. store owned by Sally Brewster and Frazer Dobson, who, the paper wrote, have "a business plan that includes frequent author readings, a knowledgeable staff and a dog, Yola, who serves as store greeter.... They have weathered the recession. They have outlasted competition from numerous chain stores. They recently signed a five-year lease."
After the launch of the Kindle and the financial meltdown, sales fell in 2008 and 2009. "Those were probably the scariest" times, Brewster told the paper. "I stopped looking at previous years' sales. What matters is if you have enough money to pay the bills."
According to the Observer, "Brewster reduced inventory, cut advertising, scaled back employee hours. She also beefed up the store's popular puzzle section. She ended some months in the red, but refused to lay off any of her 13 employees."
Late last year and early this year, Park Road got two big breaks: the Charlotte Joseph-Beth and a Borders, both within four miles of the store, closed. Sales have since risen 20% and are about $1 million a year.
Brewster, who bought the store in 1999, said her business plan is to offer what Amazon can't: smart book recommendations, a chance to meet authors, face-to-face customer service. "I'm optimistic," she said. "You just have to find reasons to be relevant."
The Observer spoke with one of our favorite publishers, the always entertaining Craig Popelars of Algonquin, who praised indies and Park Road for their handselling talents and their abilities to make a book. Speaking of Brewster, he said, "Sally's reach within the independent bookselling community is throughout the country."
Carrie Kania is leaving her position as publisher of Harper Perennial and Harper paperbacks to become an agent at Conville & Walsh in London. "Moving to London has been a life-long dream and HarperCollins has been wonderful, kind, generous and supportive of letting some kid try to make her dream come true," she told the New York Observer. "I've done Bright Lights, Big City so now I want to do Brideshead."
As a result of the move, Harper will realign the imprints, with Jonathan Burnham, senior v-p, publisher of the Harper Division, assuming responsibility for Harper Perennial and Liate Stehlik, senior v-p, publisher of William Morrow, Avon and HarperVoyager, taking on the Harper paperbacks list, which will be combined with the recently formed William Morrow Paperbacks imprint.
Shelf Awareness for Readers editor Bethanne Patrick and National Book Critics Circle president Eric Banks give recommendations for summer reading on Minnesota Public Radio.
And on We Grow Media, Dan Blank spoke with Bethanne about FridayReads, her 100,000 Twitter followers, books and authors and Shelf Awareness!
Designer Kyle Durrie is fighting back against the onrushing digital age by taking the joys of traditional letterpress printing to the streets in her "Type Truck." Fast Company reported that Durrie installed "a tiny printing press studio in the back of a van and is driving across the country with it, offering classes everywhere she stops."
"This project came about because two of my favorites things in life, road trips and printing, seemed to be getting in the way of one another," Durrie said. "I've traveled a fair amount with my partner's band, and I really love the way that he travels--arriving in a new town, exploring, meeting people, and sharing his music. It's such a no-brainer for musicians--you just load your gear in a van and hit the road. I started thinking that it wouldn't be so hard for me to do something similar with my printing."
Street-level literary criticism from the "Metropolitan Diary" section of the New York Times: "I was on my way to the local library near Battery Park City to return a book of short stories, and made several stops on my way--Century 21, Whole Foods and, of course, a Duane Reade--when I realized that somehow in one of the establishments, I had misplaced the book.
"The librarian informed me that if the book didn't turn up, it was going to cost me $25. I complained that I wouldn't mind so much if the stories and the writing hadn't been so awful. I made a pest of myself with the Duane Reade manager, who promised to keep an eye out for the book.
"Two weeks later, there at the drugstore's service desk was the book.
"A young woman had returned it several days before and told the manager not to bother reading it, as none of the stories were interesting."
What do authors read in the summer? The Daily Beast asked several writers, including Junot Diaz, Sherman Alexie, Kathryn Stockett and Anne Enright, to pick their "favorite summer read... ever."
Ten "creepy, sexy fairy tales that should be films" were recommended by io9, which noted that "the absolute last thing we need is yet another take on Beauty and the Beast. We also don't need a Sleeping Beauty or Snow White, and god forbid someone try again with Cinderella or Little Red Riding Hood."
Word & Film offered its choices for the 10 best books turned musicals.
I now pronounce you man and muggle. Buzzfeed showcased "photos from awesome Harry Potter-themed weddings."
McMurtry's Booked Up: 'Thrill of the Easter Egg Hunt'
Driving into the dusty town of Archer City in 115-degree north Texas heat is akin to a religious experience for lovers of Larry McMurtry's fiction--for the ranchers, shop owners and oil men of Archer County, it is perhaps less so. But those who devoured descriptions of "Thalia" or "Anarene" in McMurtrys The Last Picture Show, Texasville or Duane's Depressed will recognize the square, the theater and the iconic stoplight, which should, for all intents and purposes, be a stop sign since it's only a blinking red light.
Not described within McMurtry's fiction are four large buildings with simple signs bearing the name "Booked Up Inc." and numbered 1-4. Boasting a collection of more than 300,000 used books, Booked Up is an oasis for those who love books--old-fashioned printed books on all kinds of subjects. Patrons can find first editions of books by Nabokov, Naipul and Beatrix Potter as well as pamphlets detailing the minutiae of raising cattle, 19th century French fiction and an entire room dedicated to poetry.
In jeans and leather suspenders, McMurtry is often in the showroom reading the newspaper or in one of the warehouses organizing and pricing books. He cuts an austere figure. "I like the physical activity of playing with books," he said when asked why he created this massive collection. "If you don't like handling books, I don't know why you'd be in the business."
If anyone doubts that McMurtry is attached to books, consider that he has a personal collection of more than 26,000 books divided between a two-story carriage house and his main ranch house, too. He also loves bookstores, and notes with regret that 99% of all the bookstores he's visited in his life are now closed. McMurtry himself isn't a stranger to bookstore closings. The first "Booked Up" launched in D.C. (Georgetown), then reappeared in Dallas, Houston and Tucson. He ended up in Archer City for one reason only, he said: the low rent.
In the same way that McMurtry captures the disappearing pastoral lifestyle of the West, McMurtry has preserved an old style of bookselling: one can walk right from the Dairy Queen (past the Hellcat Carwash and the Dollar General) and into Booked Up #2, to find an advanced reader copy of an early Allen Ginsberg collection. To pay for it, one must take the book to Booked Up #1, which has the only cash register in all four buildings.
There are, in fact, no security measures whatsoever. This is made obvious by signs reading: "If you are unable to locate an employee in this building, please feel free to wander about yelling 'yoo-hoo' and peering into storage rooms until completely frustrated. Then proceed to building one where you will find patronizing employees busy at work or sitting around drinking coffee and laughing at you. Thank you."
Khristal Collins, an 18-year employee at Booked Up who started working at the store when she was in high school, told me that theft isn't a problem, which is not surprising. Booked Up patrons are a self-selecting crowd comprised of a few of the 1,834 citizens of Archer City looking for a quick read, international buyers, collectors from New York City and a few citizens of Wichita Falls (the closest city with a Starbucks). "People come from all over," McMurtry said. "We had our first Chinese customers come to look at our collection of Chinese Art & History Books."
Despite treasures spanning many different genres it is amazing that, for the most part, McMurtry inspects and prices most of the books himself. He relishes the process, he said, often flying across the country to inspect a collection that has come on the market. "That's the fun of being in the book business, the childish thrill of the Easter egg hunt."
The results are evident in the store's four warehouses of used books. Collectors can find hidden gems (like the signed copy of John Knowles's Indian Summer I found three years ago for $5), drastically discounted hardcover fiction as well as childhood favorites that are no longer in print. For the niche reader, Booked Up contains sections on such subjects as Birds, African American Studies, African Studies, Texana, the Occult and Western Pulp Fiction. For those who can visit, it's worth going to Archer City, where the heat has beaten progress into submission and the expansion of the universe has slowed to a crawl. Just fly to Dallas and drive about 140 miles northwest. If not, take the modern approach and check out some of the store's holdings online. --Paul Samuelson
Samuelson is a freelance writer and publicist working at Planned TV Arts in New York City. He recently moved there from Chicago, where he worked at Sourcebooks and helped launch the YA imprint Sourcebooks Fire.
Media and Movies
Media Heat: Robin Wright on NPR's Diane Rehm Show
Tomorrow morning on Good Morning America: Denise L. Herzing, author of Dolphin Diaries: My 25 Years with Spotted Dolphins in the Bahamas (St. Martin's Press, $26.99, 9780312608965).
Tomorrow morning on the Today Show: Denise Richards, author of The Real Girl Next Door (Gallery, $26, 9781451633214). She will appear on Access Hollywood Live and Fox & Friends, too.
Also on Today: Lourdes Castro, author of Latin Grilling: Recipes to Share, from Patagonian Asado to Yucatecan Barbecue and More (Ten Speed Press, $22, 9781607740049).
Tomorrow on NPR's Diane Rehm Show: Robin Wright, author of Rock the Casbah: Rage and Rebellion Across the Islamic World (Simon & Schuster, $26.99, 9781439103166).
Movie Casting: Fat Kid Rules the World
Billy Campbell (AMC's The Killing) will join the cast of Fat Kid Rules the World, the film adaptation of K.L. Going's YA novel that is currently shooting in Seattle, the Wrap reported. Directed by Matthew Lillard, the project stars Jacob Wysocki--as "an overweight, suicidal teen"--and Matt O'Leary (Cinema Verite, Brick). Michael Galvin and Peter Speakman wrote the screenplay.
Books & Authors
Awards: Australian Book Industry
Anh Do's memoir The Happiest Refugee was honored by the Australian Booksellers Association as book of the year, newcomer of the year and biography of the year (won jointly with Paul Kelly's How to Make Gravy) during the Australian Book Industry Awards ceremony over the weekend, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.
Other ABIA category winners included Chris Womersley's novel Bereft (literary fiction), Jessica Watson's True Spirit (general nonfiction), Kate Morton's The Distant Hours (general fiction), Julie Goodwin's Our Family Table (illustrated book), Alison Lester's Noni the Pony (younger children) and Gabrielle Lord's Conspiracy 365 (older readers).
Attainment: New Titles Out Next Week
Selected new titles appearing next Tuesday, August 2:
Sex on Six Legs: Lessons on Life, Love, and Language from the Insect World by Marlene Zuk (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $25, 9780151013739) explores the social world of bugs--and how it relates to human behavior.
The Hare with Amber Eyes: A Hidden Inheritance by Edmund De Waal (Picador, $16, 9780312569372) chronicles an artist's family history through a Japanese figurine called a netsuke.
Cold Vengeance by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child (Grand Central, $26.99, 9780446554985) is the latest mystery featuring Special Agent Pendergast.
Home Improvement: Undead Edition by Charlaine Harris and Toni L.P. Kelner (Ace, $26.95, 9780441020355) is a collection of paranormal short stories.
Angel in the Rubble: The Miraculous Rescue of 9/11's Last Survivor by Genelle Guzman-McMillan (Howard, $24, 9781451635201) tells the story of a woman who was buried under the rubble of the World Trade Center for 27 hours.
The Secrets of the FBI by Ronald Kessler (Crown, $26, 9780307719690) uncovers the history and espionage techniques of the federal agency.
The Second Messiah: A Thriller by Glenn Meade (Howard, $25, 9781451611847) follows an archeologist and a police inspector investigating a controversial Dead Sea scroll.
Paradise Lust: Searching for the Garden of Eden by Brook Wilensky-Lanford (Grove Press, $25, 9780802119803) investigates the many searches for the "real" location of the Garden of Eden.
Now in paperback:
The Hangman's Daughter by Oliver Potzsch, translated by Lee Chadeayne (Mariner Books, $18, 9780547745015).
I Curse the River of Time by Per Petterson (Picador, $15, 9780312429539).
IndieBound: Other Indie Favorites
From last week's Indie bestseller lists, available at IndieBound.org, here are the recommended titles, which are also Indie Next Great Reads:
Trespasser: A Novel by Paul Doiron (Minotaur, $24.99, 9780312558475). "Maine Game Warden Mike Bowditch is back on the job, following his introduction in Doiron's debut, The Poacher's Son, and once again he's tripping over bodies. He is called to the scene of an accident in which a car hit a deer, but when he arrives neither the deer nor the driver are there. He is convinced by a state patrolman to leave the matter to the state police, but the situation continues to haunt Bowditch. Where would a young woman go on a cold, snowy Maine night? Devastated when the truth is revealed, Bowditch risks all to finally bring a killer to justice. Doiron is an author to watch!" --Vicki Erwin, Main Street Books, St. Charles, Mo.
The Homecoming of Samuel Lake: A Novel by Jenny Wingfield (Random House, $25, 9780385344081). "Wingfield has the storyteller's gift, and she writes her debut tale of preacher-without-a-church Samuel Lake and his family with the assurance of a seasoned author. After the death of his father-in-law, John, Samuel moves his wife, Willadee, and their three children into his mother-in-law's house in rural Arkansas. John used to run Never Closes--a bar that stayed open all night--from the back porch of his house. Calla, his wife, runs Moses--a convenience store that is open all day--from the front porch. Inside the house between those two porches, an extraordinary family lives a life complete with love, lust, heartbreak, heroics, and miracles. A perfect book for the many fans of The Help." --Jill Miner, Saturn Booksellers, Gaylord, Mich.
The Reservoir: A Novel by John Milliken Thompson (Other Press, $15.95, 9781590514443). "I couldn't put this book down. Based on real events in 1885, this is the story of the murder of Lillie, who was eight months pregnant when she was found floating face up in Richmond, Virginia's drinking water reservoir. Was it an accident, suicide, or something more sinister? The author captures not only the feeling of the time, when many legal procedures were far different than today, but also the timeless questions of trust and whether we can ever really know the true motivations of others, even those closest to us." --Mary Kay Brunskill Cohen, Anderson's Bookshop, Naperville, Ill.
For Ages 9 to 12
The Absolute Value of Mike by Kathryn Erskine (Philomel, $16.99, 9780399255052). "This is a lovely tale of resilience and discovery. Mike is sent to stay with his great-aunt and uncle while his professor father goes to teach in Romania for the summer. Mike shortly finds himself the leader of a whirlwind campaign to help the local minister adopt a boy who seems hauntingly similar to himself, although he was orphaned on the other side of the world. In the process, Mike learns that appearances are rarely dependable, but that he can depend upon himself, and that a person's absolute value is measured in the people who care for you." --Elizabeth Anker, Alamosa Books, Albuquerque, N.M.
[Many thanks to IndieBound and the ABA!]
Book Review: Girls in White Dresses
Girls in White Dresses by Jennifer Close (Knopf, $24.95 hardcover, 9780307596857, August 9, 2011)
Though the title of Close's novel comes from that cloying song from The Sound of Music, these white dresses symbolize gowns worn as a string of young women take that important walk down the aisle. So is this just another fluffy piece of chick lit about 20-somethings finally finding love? Not with Close's wry wit and deadpan delivery, which make this debut novel a treat to read.
The brides and bridesmaids, all in their mid-20s, college grads on their own in Manhattan, are trying to make their way through the labyrinth of choices in business and romance, pets and takeout that modern life offers. This is not Our Hearts Were Young and Gay; rather, it is an original confection with echoes of The Girls' Guide to Hunting and Fishing and a dollop of Sex and the City.
Isabella, Mary and Lauren are the centerpieces of these 17 interrelated stories, with friends on the periphery: Ellen, who "dates ugly boys," and Abby, who has hippie parents who embarrass her.
Lauren spends a good deal of time insisting that she is not going to sleep with that sleazy bartender she's working for--but what's a girl to do when he's right there in front of her? Then she meets Mark, a weirdly okay guy, and he informs her that he will never live with another person. She has marriage on her mind, so how can that end well?
Isabella has a penchant for picking losers, until she meets Harrison, who is definitely a keeper. They aren't married, or even talking about it, when he is offered a job in Boston. Isabella agrees to go with him and in "Until the Worm Turns" there is a riff on packing up and moving that will make you laugh out loud.
Mary is the studious one, a lawyer who marries and quickly produces two children. Her story involves a horror of a mother-in-law, named Button, because her daddy thought she was cute as a button. What more do you need to know?
There is a huge amount of alcohol consumed in these stories; many, many tears over men, weddings, showers, white dresses, wretched bosses, pets, jobs, fear of downsizing. In fact, just about any occasion calls for booze and tears--or both. Through it all, you just know that somehow these thoroughly modern Millies are going to come out right where they want to be. --Valerie Ryan
Shelf Talker: A humorous take on 20-somethings in Manhattan coping with the rigors of dating, careers and all their friends' weddings.