Shelf Awareness for Friday, September 16, 2011

Little Brown and Company: This Bird Has Flown by Susanna Hoffs

St. Martin's Press: Hello Stranger by Katherine Center

Dundurn Press: Chasing the Black Eagle by Bruce Geddes

W by Wattpad Books: Hazel Fine Sings Along by Katie Wicks

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

Quotation of the Day

Children's Author: 'Attention Spans Are--"

"Attention spans are changing. It's very noticeable. I am very aware that the kind of books I read in my childhood kids now won't be able to read. I was reading Kipling and P.G. Wodehouse and Shakespeare at the age of 11. The kind of description and detail I read I would not put in my books. I don't know how much you can fight that because you want children to read. So I pack in excitement and plot and illustrations and have a cliffhanger every chapter. Charles Dickens was doing cliffhangers way back when. But even with all the excitement you have to make children care about the characters."

Parallax Press: Radical Love: From Separation to Connection with the Earth, Each Other, and Ourselves by Satish Kumar


Image of the Day: Literary Slugfest at BookCourt

Last Sunday, BookCourt, Brooklyn, N.Y., hosted a reading that featured two author/boxers: (l.) Mischa Merz, author of The Sweetest Thing: A Boxer's Memoir (Seven Stories Press), and Binnie Klein, author of Blows to the Head: How Boxing Changed My Mind (SUNY Press). The pair read from the memoirs and then rumbled in the fiction section!


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

Borders Auctions Off Intellectual Property Assets

Yesterday's auction of Borders Group's intellectual property assets raised $15.8 million, according to Hilco Streambank, the part of liquidator Hilco Trading handling the auction.

Ten bidders, including Barnes & Noble and Berjaya Books (the company that owns and operates Borders stores in Malaysia), vied for assets that included trademarks; the Borders, Waldenbooks and Brentano's trade names; Internet domain names; and The bankruptcy court needs to approve the results; a hearing is set for next Tuesday.


"I cannot live without books." The quote from Thomas Jefferson's has long been a bookseller staple. You've seen it on mugs and T-shirts and tote bags, but it has never looked more poignant than in a photo Reddit user Jessers25 took in an empty Borders store. Entertainment Weekly called the shot "heartbreaking."


On a somewhat lighter note, the Awl compiled a list of the "33 Best Books Remaining on the Last Day of the Borders in the Time Warner Center."

Shelf Awareness Job Board: Click Here to Post Your Job

Google Settlement Talks Extended

The Google settlement talks are still alive after federal Judge Denny Chin "agreed to a court schedule that extends through the next year, with no trial date set," the Associated Press reported. In Manhattan yesterday, lawyers for authors, publishers and Google told the Chin they are still negotiating their New York copyright case.

Last spring Chin rejected a $125-million deal (Shelf Awareness, March 23, 2011), saying in his decision that the Amended Settlement Agreement "would give Google a significant advantage over competitors, rewarding it for engaging in wholesale copying of copyrighted works without permission, while releasing claims well beyond those presented in the case."
The Wall Street Journal reported that Google lawyer Daralyn J. Durie said the company has had "substantial" discussions with the Association of American Publishers and is continuing its negotiations with the Authors Guild.

Chin also "set a schedule for the parties to file motions for summary judgment, and possibly go to trial, if they don't reach a revised deal," the Journal noted. "This means we will be litigating this case another year at least," he said.
PaidContent noted that a significant development at the hearing occurred when an attorney for the publishers said "Google and his clients were nearing an independent settlement and that 'we’ve made enough progress so we won’t need a date.' "

Michael Boni, a lawyer for the Authors Guild, told the court the group was still in negotiations with Google but appeared less optimistic that a deal would be reached soon, according to paidContent. "The publishers are closer to a settlement than the authors are," he said after the hearing.

Michael Moore No Trouble for These Indies

Three northern Michigan independent bookstores are selling signed first editions of native son Michael Moore's new memoir, Here Comes Trouble: Stories from My Life. Bookselling This Week reported that on Moore's website and in his e-mails, the author lists Brilliant Books, Suttons Bay; McLean & Eakin Booksellers, Petoskey; and Saturn Booksellers, Gaylord, as sources. According to BTW,  these shops, "which also feature the signed first editions on their IndieCommerce websites, sold nearly 1,500 copies in one weekend."

"Michael Moore has been wonderful to us. It's been absolutely tremendous," said Peter Makin of Brilliant Books. "We've been getting orders from all of the country."

McLean & Eakin's co-owner Matt Norcross called the promotion "amazing" for the three stores. "We've also pledged $5 of each book purchase to the State Theatre in Traverse City, which is run by Michael and is an amazing asset to that community, so this is wonderful for the State Theatre as well."

Jill Miner, owner of Saturn Booksellers, called Moore a big supporter of the Northern Michigan economy and independent businesses. "He approached us and asked if we'd brainstorm a way to make this work as in the past he and his staff have been deluged with autographed copy requests from all over, and they aren't really equipped to deal with that in the way that we are."

Rent Hike Forcing Copperfield's Move

Copperfield's Books, which has eight stores in Sonoma and Napa counties in California, is seeking to move its used and rare bookstore in Sebastopol after the landlord wanted a 30% increase in rent after the store's current lease expires January 31, according to the Press Democrat.

The store has been in the 2,800-sq.-ft. location for 17 years. Co-owner Paul Jaffe said the store can't afford the rent hike and wants to move, but "there are no space that really are available right now in Sebastopol that meet our needs, so it does put us in a vulnerable situation."

Copperfield's original store, which sells new books, is also in Sebastopol but doesn't have enough space for the other store's stock.

N.C. Bookstore Gets New Location & Name

Curt (r.) and Debbie Finch, who have operated Emerald Isle Books & Toys, Emerald Isle, N.C., for 23 years, are closing that location and opening a new store, called North Hills Bookery, at North Hills shopping center on Six Forks Road in Raleigh. The Triangle Business Journal reported that the co-owners "are returning to their roots" and plan to open the new store next month.

According to the new shop's Facebook page, North Hills Bookery will be "a neighborhood gathering place for people who want to discover the stories that settle among our shelves full of books, toys, and odds and ends. Readers, dreamers, storytellers, bibliophiles come in. Children be ready to find a magical story and a friend to read it with. Parents and grandparents bring the little ones you love to create a memory. Tired from work, needing an escape; the North Hills Bookery will be full of places to retire from the hectic world into an adventure of printed words."

G.L.O.W. - Galley Love of the Week
Be the first to have an advance copy!
The Wisdom of Morrie:
Living and Aging Creatively and Joyfully
by Morrie Schwartz, edited by Rob Schwartz
GLOW: Blackstone Publishing: The Wisdom of Morrie: Living and Aging Creatively and Joyfully by Morrie Schwartz, edited by Rob Schwartz

Twenty-five years ago, Mitch Albom immortalized his former college professor in Tuesdays with Morrie, the blockbuster memoir that shared Morrie Schwartz's profound insights about life as he was dying of ALS. In The Wisdom of Morrie, Rob Schwartz, Morrie's son, resurrects his father's voice, sharing Morrie's philosophical wisdom and humor about the aging process--what can be an emboldening period filled with meaning and purpose. "This book is invaluable to anyone interested in improving their quality of life," says Rick Bleiweiss, head of new business development at Blackstone Publishing. "Readers who enjoy[ed] The Last Lecture and When Breath Becomes Air will expand their awareness and find new ideas and insights into living more fully." Schwartz's musings are timeless, and inspirational for readers of all ages. --Kathleen Gerard

(Blackstone Publishing, $25.99 hardcover, 9798200813452,
April 18, 2023)


Shelf vetted, publisher supported


Brooklyn Book Festival: Where Local Meets International

The sixth annual Brooklyn Book Festival, which takes place this Sunday, "remains centered in the same pocket of downtown Brooklyn. But its borders have spread far beyond," the New York Times reported.

"Even though the festival is set in Brooklyn and has a Brooklyn flavor, it's an international festival," said Johnny Temple, the publisher of Akashic Books and the chairman of the Brooklyn Literary Council. "We bring in authors from all over the world. It is not a Brooklyn-focused or Brooklyn-oriented festival."
Christine Onorati of Word bookstore noted that when it began, the festival "was definitely a much smaller scale. You felt it was very centered on what was happening in Brooklyn. Now it's like a celebration of books for everything, not just Brooklyn."

Author Emma Straub, who is also a bookseller at BookCourt, praised the local feeling of the event: "So many conferences take place in giant hotels. Everybody gets to go home at night because it's in Brooklyn."

Cool Idea of the Day: The Book Swap

The Guardian and Observer Book Swap, a project with the goal of "setting 15,000 titles free in the wild," will be launched this weekend in the U.K. The Guardian collected thousands of books from publishers and authors and is "distributing them around the country for free. Books will be left in public places where readers are liable to chance upon them, from stations and coffee shops to galleries and museums." The Book Swap launches a six-week Guardian and Observer Book Season.

The "swap" aspect of this effort also involves getting readers and writers to give away their own favorite reads. "After inserting a bookplate sticker (which will come free with the papers on Saturday and Sunday, or can be downloaded online) into the front of their book, and writing a message for the finder, readers can then leave the book somewhere it will be picked up by a new owner and upload the details of where they left it at or on Twitter (#guardianbookswap)," the Guardian wrote.

Hazelden Signs Up for Perseus Program

Effective January 1, Hazelden Publishing will be sold and distributed in the U.S. and Canada by Perseus Distribution. Perseus will also handle foreign rights for Hazelden.

Founded 55 years ago as the publishing arm of the addiction treatment organization, Hazelden Publishing focuses on recovery, inspiration and self-help titles. It has published more than 600 trade books; bestsellers include Twenty Four Hours a Day and Codependent No More by Melody Beattie.


Allison Verost Moving to Macmillan

Effective September 26, Allison Verost is joining Macmillan Children's Publishing Group as publicity director. She has been assistant director of publicity at HarperCollins Children's Books and earlier spent eight years in publicity at the Penguin Young Readers Group.


Media and Movies

Media Heat: Dick Cheney on Face the Nation

Sunday on Meet the Press: Jennifer Granholm, former Governor of Michigan and author of A Governor's Story: The Fight for Jobs and America's Economic Future (PublicAffairs, $27.99, 9781586489977).


Sunday on Face the Nation: Dick Cheney, author of In My Time: A Personal and Political Memoir (Threshold Editions, $35, 9781439176191).


Movie Trailer: We Bought a Zoo

A trailer has been released by 20th Century Fox for We Bought a Zoo, based on Benjamin Mee's book We Bought a Zoo: The Amazing True Story of a Young Family, a Broken Down Zoo, and the 200 Wild Animals that Changed Their Lives Forever, reported. The film, directed by Cameron Crowe and starring Matt Damon, Scarlett Johansson and Thomas Haden Church, is in theaters December 23.

Movie Trailer Parody: The Muppets with the Dragon Tattoo

A new trailer for Disney's The Muppets, which will be released November 23, is "taking a page from the quick cut teaser trailer done by director David Fincher for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo," reported.

Books & Authors

Awards: FT/Goldman Sachs Biz Book Shortlist; Boardman Tasker

Finalists have been named for the £30,000 (US$47,385) Financial Times and Goldman Sachs Business Book of the Year Award, which honors a book providing the most compelling and enjoyable insight into modern business issues. The winner will be announced in London November 3. This year's shortlisted titles are:

  • Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way to Fight Global Poverty by Abhijit V. Banerjee and Esther Duflo (PublicAffairs)
  • Exorbitant Privilege: The Rise and Fall of the Dollar by Barry Eichengreen (Oxford University Press)
  • Triumph of the City: How Our Greatest Invention Makes Us Richer, Smarter, Greener, Healthier and Happier by Edward L. Glaeser (Penguin)
  • Willful Blindness: Why We Ignore the Obvious at Our Peril by Margaret Heffernan (Walker)
  • Good Strategy, Bad Strategy: The Difference and Why It Matters by Richard Rumelt (Crown)
  • The Quest: Energy, Security, and the Remaking of the Modern World by Daniel Yergin (Penguin)


Finalists have been named for this year's £3,000 (US$4,731) Boardman Tasker Prize, which honors authors of literary works whose central theme is concerned with mountains. The 2011 shortlisted titles are:

  • Desert Towers by Steve "Crusher" Bartlett
  • Murder in the Hindu Kush by Tim Hannigan
  • Freedom Climbers by Bernadette McDonald
  • The Sound of Gravity by Joe Simpson
  • Shadow of the Matterhorn by Ian Smith

The winner will be announced in November during the Kendal Mountain Festival.

Book Brahmin: Bonnie Nadzam

Bonnie Nadzam was born in Cleveland, went to high school in suburban Chicago, and has moved ever westward since then. Her fiction and poetry have been published in the Kenyon Review, the Mississippi Review, Story Quarterly and others. She taught at Colorado College, where she served for two years as the Daehler Fellow in Creative Writing. She is married to her childhood love and lives with him in the Rocky Mountains. Lamb (Other Press, September 13, 2011) is her first novel.

On your nightstand now:

I would never read in bed or off a nightstand. I read outside in the rain, snow and wind. Right now I'm reading How to Build a Storm Shelter. Also this beautiful book, John Ashbery's translation of Arthur Rimbaud's The Illuminations.

Favorite book when you were a child:

Aesop's Fables. It had magnificent, terrifying illustrations. I was convinced by all of them. Still am.

Your top five authors:

Louis L'Amour, Miguel de Cervantes, the Brothers Grimm, Herman Melville--but they change a lot.

Book you've faked reading:

My high school calculus textbook. It sat on top of a file cabinet in my parents' garage for six months, but I kept going to class. I still feel foolish and sorry about it, because Mr. Crowl was a fine teacher and seemed really to care about our progress.

Book you're an evangelist for:

Moby Dick. The entire book, but particularly the chapter about the whiteness of the whale and the early scene in which Ishmael enters Peter Coffin's Spouter-Inn, with the "old-fashioned wainscots" and the "large oil-painting so thoroughly besmoked, and every way defaced, that in the unequal cross-lights by which you viewed it, it was only by diligent study and a series of systematic visits to it, and careful inquiry of the neighbors, that you could in any way arrive at an understanding of its purpose."

Book you've bought for the cover:

I like the heavy, blank, smooth covers--the ones that look oily and used and punished and slept on. Old, big, drab covers. Like this old Catholic prayer book I have, and very small, very old cloth-bound volume of Shakespeare's tragedies and histories. It's pink.

Book that changed your life:

It was called How to Change Your Life. It totally worked.

Favorite line from a book:

"...Road to hell paved with unbought stuffed dogs. Not my fault." --A very undaunted Bill in The Sun Also Rises.

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

Larry McMurtry's Lonesome Dove, but only until they reach Montana.


Book Review

Review: REAMDE

Reamde by Neal Stephenson (Morrow, $35 hardcover, 9780061977961, September 20, 2011)

There's a moment about a third of the way into Neal Stephenson's gargantuan new novel, REAMDE--we've been following Zula Forthrast, who's been kidnapped by Russian mobsters along with the boyfriend she'd just dumped because she found out he sold them a batch of stolen credit card numbers. The problem is, when Peter handed over the computer files with the credit card numbers, he accidentally infected the bagman's computer with a virus (named REAMDE, a deliberate misspelling of the common README file name). Once Zula and Peter figured out that the hackers who created the virus are in the city of Xiamen, the Russians smuggled them into China and forced them to help pinpoint the hackers' exact location. The confrontation is just about to take place, when Stephenson suddenly punches the literary equivalent of the nitro button, and this already engrossing technothriller is escalated into an even more amazing action extravaganza, with an almost literally jaw-dropping effect on the reader.

But wait: that recap left out all the equally fascinating plot threads about T'Rain, the massively multiplayer online role playing game founded by Zula's uncle Richard. T'Rain has a thriving economy based on trading virtual gold for real cash that the hackers are hoping to exploit, and it's also undergoing a massive cultural upheaval rooted in a dispute between the two bestselling fantasy authors Richard and his company retained to create the MMPORG's backstory. Granted, this sounds a bit confusing when you try to boil it down to 200 words, but Stephenson doesn't have any of those constraints. He can, and does, go into extremely detailed level, about everything from technical processes to the intricate choreography of a gunfight. It's not just about showing readers that Stephenson knows his stuff, but about a genuine effort to make sure that they get it, too, and can thus better appreciate its awesomeness.

Stephenson handles all these storylines with a narrative structure that resembles a Quentin Tarantino film, with every backtrack or digression serving a precise, clarifying purpose. The comparison is also apt given how many of the novel's characters seem to recognize that, by accident or choice, their lives have become an action movie, and how quickly they embrace its patterns (along with its dialogue). Although Stephenson does eventually ease off the throttle after the major plot twist hinted at above, by then he's already built up enough momentum to keep readers engaged for another 700 pages. Bracket out a long weekend for yourself; once you get started on REAMDE, you'll want to see it all the way through. --Ron Hogan

Shelf Talker: Neal Stephenson set the bar high for fictional virtual realities nearly 20 years ago with Snow Crash, and REAMDE raises it even higher.


Deeper Understanding

Robert Gray: It was the Best of Bookcase Times, It Was...

When Lisbeth Salander needs to furnish her new apartment in Stieg Larsson's The Girl Who Played with Fire, she drives to the IKEA store at Kungens Kurva, where she spends "three hours browsing through the merchandise, writing down the item numbers she needed." Apartment Therapy conveniently documented her purchases, including two Bonde bookcases.

I thought about Lisbeth's $13,000 shopping spree when panic hit the streets of BookWorld last week, triggered by an Economist article that began: "To see how profoundly the book business is changing, watch the shelves. Next month IKEA will introduce a new, deeper version of its ubiquitous 'Billy' bookcase. The flat-pack furniture giant is already promoting glass doors for its bookshelves. The firm reckons customers will increasingly use them for ornaments, tchotchkes and the odd coffee-table tome--anything, that is, except books that are actually read."

Within hours, the terror had spread via Twitter and Facebook, followed by media headlines that once again were trumpeting the end of book civilization as we know it. Here's a sampling:

IKEA Hates Books
IKEA Resizes Billy Bookshelf. Pundits Declare Death of Books
The End of Books: IKEA Is Changing Shelves to Reflect Changing Demand
IKEA Redesigns Classic Bookshelf, Foreshadows the Demise of Books
Has the Bookshelf Become a Dinosaur?

Over the weekend, reality began to intrude, as it sometimes--though not often enough--does in these situations. IKEA's PR manager Marty Marston told Reluctant Habits the Economist's story had been misleading: "We are not removing the original Billy. It’s interesting that everybody has jumped on this," she said, adding that a new Billy bookcase with shelving 15-inches deep will be joining the original 11-inch version. "Billy has gone through transformation since it started in 1979. This is just one additional transformation. And we’ll probably see some other ones." E-books were not a factor in the company's decision.

Anthropomorphic clarification was produced by Curbed, which quoted Billy itself: "Reading is one of the most enjoyable and smart things one can do with their time. And who knows better about reading than me, Billy Bookcase.... My shelves are deeper so I can house bigger books. Deeper books. And I can hold all those mementos and pictures to keep all those books company. And my original Billy size still remains. You can count on it. My endurance remains high. So please, no more talk about reading books and how they are on their way out."

Paranoia may strike deep and fast in the book heartland, but ultimately it will save neither the traditional book nor the traditional bookcase. A design change by IKEA is not an omen, even if many of the early reactions to Billy's evolution resembled medievalish predictions of a digital plague. Bookcases are furniture, not monuments.

Sitting here at my desk, I'm surprised to discover that I cannot count how many bookcases there are in our house right now. Of course I could wander the rooms and take an inventory, but it doesn't really matter. Simply put, there are a lot of bookcases here. Some are expensive and some inexpensive. Some are made of wood and some of steel. Some have deep shelves and some narrow. In the shadowy depths of the basement, there's probably even a CD/DVD shelving system, if you want to discuss storage ideas that had a painfully brief "shelf life."

And yes, on more than a few shelves there are even the dreaded "ornaments, tchotchkes and the odd coffee-table tome" that struck fear in heart of the Economist. As there should be in anybody's personal library.

In what I assume was a purely coincidental interior design piece on bookshelves in the Wall Street Journal last Saturday, Sara Ruffin Costello wrote: "A good bookshelf is the foundation.... My favorite look is a collected-over-time weave of hardbacks, sculpture, mementos, art and bookends--the bits and pieces of a curious and full life."

There are so many things to worry about in BookWorld, but shelving isn't a priority. Remember, as a fallback strategy there will always be the board-and-cinderblock option so many of us chose in our youth.

So we can all just exhale now. IKEA's place in our bookscape remains secure. Hell, it has even been known to perform extra duty as a simile. In her 2008 review of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, NPR's Maureen Corrigan noted that the author's "multi-pieced plot snaps together as neatly as an IKEA bookcase." --Robert Gray (column archives available at Fresh Eyes Now)

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