Shelf Awareness for Thursday, February 23, 2006

Scholastic Press: Beastly Beauty by Jennifer Donnelly

St. Martin's Essentials: Build Like a Woman: The Blueprint for Creating a Business and Life You Love by Kathleen Griffith

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

Bramble: Pen Pal Special Edition by J.T. Geissinger

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

Soho Crime: Broiler by Eli Cranor

Berkley Books: We Love the Nightlife by Rachel Koller Croft

Quotation of the Day

Digital Books Around the Corner?

"Every other form of media has gone digital--music, newspapers, movies. We're the only industry that hasn't lived up to the pace of technology. A revolution is around the corner."--Literary agent Joni Evans as quoted in a Business Week article on e-books, er, digital books.

University of California Press: May Contain Lies: How Stories, Statistics, and Studies Exploit Our Biases--And What We Can Do about It by Alex Edmans


Fulcrum Swings Further to Indie Service

Fulcrum Publishing has taken another step in its year-long effort to revamp its sales and marketing efforts and to support and improve relations with independent booksellers: the Golden, Colo., publisher has hired Margaret Shaheen, who has been manager of Tattered Cover's Highlands Ranch store since its opening in late 2004.

With the working title of independent bookseller relationship manager, Shaheen will be dedicated to "building relationships, getting the word out and putting a lot of effort into making sure that we're doing the right thing as a publisher to make sure booksellers are growing and being successful," Fulcrum v-p Mike Dyer told Shelf Awareness. She will go to booksellers shows, visit stores and do "the traditional sales reppy things but with the slant of trying to support the independent bookseller in selling more books, getting better turns and being vibrant," Dyer continued. "We want to be an advocate for booksellers and not just a vendor."

A key part of Shaheen's job will be overseeing the company's retail merchandising specialists, the first of which Fulcrum hired last year. The specialists work in the field offering "service after the sale," as Dyer put it. They visit bookstores, hold clinics, talk about frontlist and authors, provide selling tips, hand out galleys and perhaps most important from Dyer's point of view, get feedback from store employees on everything from titles to terms. By the end of the year, Fulcrum would like to have four or five specialists. The two current ones are in Denver and the New York area; the others, Dyer said, would be based in major markets such as the Pacific Northwest, the Bay Area in California, Chicago and Atlanta.

Calling the emphasis on selling to independent bookstores "a no brainer," Dyer said bookstores are the "best market" for the company's longterm growth and more reliable than "flash-in-the-pan" corporate or special sales. Although some publishers have been negative about independents, "there are so many bookstores out there," he continued. "If you can't sell books to bookstores, something is fundamentally wrong with the business." As part of the effort, last year, the company stopped using outside reps and began doing all sales in-house. It has also "radically changed" terms, increased margins for booksellers and made it easier for bookstores to order and return books.

Shaheen starts March 6 and will work from Fulcrum's headquarters. She may be reached at or 800-992-2908, ext. 211.

GLOW: becker&mayer! kids: The Juneteenth Cookbook: Recipes and Activities for Kids and Families to Celebrate by Alliah L. Agostini and Taffy Elrod, illus. by Sawyer Cloud

Notes: Remembering Bob Sheldon; Xbox in the Library

Cool idea of the day: Politics & Prose, Washington, D.C., has begun selling recordings of its author talks on CD. The CDs cost $7.50 and can be picked up in the store or sent for an extra $4. Among the first batch of offerings: appearances by Taylor Branch, George McGovern, Julian Barnes and Michael Eric Dyson. The store's extensive author program is often broadcast by C-Span 2's Book TV; viewers from around the country frequently come by the store when visiting the capital.


The mayor of Chapel Hill, N.C., read a proclamation declaring Tuesday Bob Sheldon Day and some 50 people commemorated the 15th anniversary of the shooting death of the founder of Internationalist Books, the Herald-Sun reported. Although it was difficult for a time, friends of Sheldon have kept the store open, and this year it celebrates its 25th birthday.


It's enough to draw our teenage boys.

The new 14,000-sq.-ft. movies and music section room at the Main Library of the Charlotte & Mecklenburg County system in North Carolina features thousands of DVDs, videos and CDs as well an e-mail station and tables and chairs, according to the Charlotte Observer. In the near future, the room will also offer coffee and pastries, lunchtime programs and most miraculously Xbox games.

G.P. Putnam's Sons: Assassins Anonymous by Rob Hart

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Bartlett Blasts Bush; Witt on Passion

Today the Early Show leads with Karenna Gore Schiff, whose new book is Lighting the Way: Nine Women Who Changed Modern America (Miramax-Weinstein, $25.95, 1401352189).

Also on the Early Show, former Olympian Katarina Witt, author of Only With Passion: Figure Skating's Most Winning Champion on Competition and Life (PublicAffairs, $23.50, 1586482742).


Today WAMU's Diane Rehm Show is drawn into the orbit of Susan Foster, author of Women Under the Influence (Johns Hopkins University Press, $20, 0801882281). Also, Anna Deavere Smith discusses her new book, Letters to a Young Artist: Straight-up Advice on Making a Life in the Arts-For Actors, Performers, Writers, and Artists of Every Kind (Anchor, $13, 1400032385).


Today on WNYC's Leonard Lopate Show:

  • Deborah Eisenberg talks about her new collection of short stories, Twilight of the Superheroes (FSG, $23, 0374299412).
  • Chemist and French TV personality Herve This offers samples from his delectable new title, Molecular Gastronomy: Exploring the Science of Flavor (Arts and Traditions of the Table: Perspectives on Culinary History) (Columbia University Press, $29.95, 023113312X).

Today on KCRW's Bookworm: John Lahr, author of Honky Tonk Parade: The New Yorker Profiles (Overlook, $27.95, 1585677035). As the show describes it: "The theater critic for the New Yorker explains the autobiographical origins of his profiles. His father was the great clown Bert Lahr--but the cowardly lion tended toward silence at home. Lahr follows his subjects from stage to living room in order to understand the strange impulse to perform."


Roll 'em! Roger Ebert has a busy day today with appearances on the Today Show, the Daily Show with Jon Stewart, the Howard Stern Show and Live with Regis and Kelly to promote his new book, The Great Movies II (Broadway, $29.95, 0767919505).


Last night Charlie Rose talked with Richard Reeves, author of President Reagan: The Triumph of Imagination (S&S, $30, 0743230221), and Tony Judt, author of Postwar: A History of Europe Since 1945 (Penguin Press, $39.95, 1594200653).


Yesterday Fresh Air heard some strong criticism of President Bush from an unusual source: Bruce Bartlett, columnist and former director of the Joint Economic Committee of Congress who worked for President Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. Bartlett's new book is Imposter: How George W. Bush Bankrupted America and Betrayed the Reagan Legacy (Doubleday, $26, 0385518277).


Yesterday on NPR's Talk of the Nation:
  • Sarah Dunant read from and talked about her new novel, In the Company of the Courtesan (Random House, $23.95, 1400063817).
  • Neil Chethik, author of Voicemale: What Husbands Really Think About Their Marriages, Their Wives, Sex, Housework, and Commitment (S&S, $23, 074325872X), talked about stereotypes about husbands.

G.P. Putnam's Sons: Summer Romance by Annabel Monaghan

Book TV: Views from the Reagan, Bush I Administrations

Book TV airs on C-Span 2 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 Web site.

Saturday, February 25

12 p.m. Public Lives. Michael Rosenthal gives a report on his new book, Nicholas Miraculous: The Amazing Career of the Redoubtable Dr. Nicholas Murray Butler (FSG, $35, 0374299943), about the longtime president of Columbia University and president of the Carnegie Endowment for Peace.

1 p.m. History on Book TV. In Louis Johnson and the Arming of America: The Roosevelt and Truman Years (Indiana University Press, $35, 0253346266), David Roll and Keith McFarland profile the second U.S. Secretary of Defense, who resigned in 1950 after the "Revolt of the Admirals" and who was a founder of the Steptoe & Johnson law firm, where Roll is a partner. The event took place at the firm's Los Angeles office.

7 p.m. Encore Booknotes. In a segment first aired in 1995, Marlin Fitzwater, press secretary to Presidents Reagan and Bush from 1983 to 1993, took questions about his memoir, Call the Briefing! Bush & Reagan, Sam & Helen: A Decade with Presidents and the Press (Crown).

8 p.m. After Words. James Pinkerton, a fellow at the New America Foundation and a contributor to Newsday and the Fox News Channel who worked for Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, interviews Bruce Bartlett, whose new book (see above) is Imposter: How George W. Bush Bankrupted America and Betrayed the Reagan Legacy (Doubleday, $26, 0385518277). (Re-airs Sunday at 6 p.m. and 9 p.m.)

Book Review

Mandahla: The Messenger of Magnolia Street Reviewed

Messenger of Magnolia Street by River Jordan (HarperOne, $22.95 Hardcover, 9780060841768, January 2006)

"God is walking through Shibboleth, rummaging through the pockets of his memory, the distant past and the near future." The tale of this small southern town, "keeper of the eternal key," is told by the Recorder, an angel who writes down all that ever was, is now, or is yet to come. Its story was meant to unfold in a certain way, but now a dark mist hovers above the ground as the people sleep, with "secret stealth and things that move along wishing to be left alone." The fate of Shibboleth will presently be determined by the actions of three now-grown childhood friends, brothers Nehemiah and Billy Trust and Trice, a girl found in a well at birth.
Nehemiah is living in Washington, D.C., and Billy and Trice have gone, at her urging, to bring him back. She has visions, and realizes that something is being stolen from the town, something that is "everything worth keeping." They travel from Shibboleth in Old Blue, Billy's pick-up. "Old Blue was God's idea. He relishes a good ride in the back of a pickup, and the wind doesn't bother him a bit." Is there doubt that Nehemiah will return, that he will take on the responsibility that has been given to him? It doesn't matter, because the journey is the point.
The center of the furtive darkness that worries Trice seems to be near the springs outside of town, where the friends used to hang out and explore the surrounding caves. When Nehemiah and Billy go to the springs, they encounter this sinister mist, which sucks their breath away; however, they are miraculously protected by the many years of prayers their late mother layered over them. Eventually they have to confront the evil, and when they finally act, they are aided by the strength and faith of the townspeople. As the three battle their unseen foe, redemption and grace are healing others in Shibboleth, "weaving songs in the keys of forgive and forgiven."
River Jordan's writing is lush and entrancing, with gently comic turns of phrase. ("I'm not the only one swimming in the river of strange.") Mysterious re-occurrences of a red fox, chiming clocks and gold dust on a mother's quilt add to the fantastical atmosphere. Charming and eccentric characters are book-ended by Aunt Kate, provider of cornbread and blackberry jelly, and Butch, a former Marine who realizes the value of prayer at a crucial moment: "Only prayer can bring him out alive . . . He prays like a poet. Call it inspired. Call it desperation." This is a lovely, graceful book.--Marilyn Dahl

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