Shelf Awareness for Friday, October 14, 2011

Viking: The Bookshop: A History of the American Bookstore by Evan Friss

Pixel+ink: Missy and Mason 1: Missy Wants a Mammoth

Bramble: The Stars Are Dying: Special Edition (Nytefall Trilogy #1) by Chloe C Peñaranda

Blue Box Press: A Soul of Ash and Blood: A Blood and Ash Novel by Jennifer L Armentrout

Charlesbridge Publishing: The Perilous Performance at Milkweed Meadow by Elaine Dimopoulos, Illustrated by Doug Salati

Minotaur Books: The Dark Wives: A Vera Stanhope Novel (Vera Stanhope #11) by Ann Cleeves


Hachette Lays Off 11 in Sales and Marketing

Hachette Group has let go 11 people in sales and marketing, according to several people familiar with the situation. The departed include at least three people in the field--Norm Kraus, Marty Conroy and Carol Lovercio--one in international sales and several in New York City headquarters.


BINC: Do Good All Year - Click to Donate!

ABA's Sales Tax Fairness Advocacy Day

Next month, the American Booksellers Association will hold a Sales Tax Fairness Advocacy Day in Washington, D.C., inviting independent association executives and independent business advocacy groups and their members to join them in advocating on behalf of a national sales tax fairness solution. Bookselling This Week reported that on November 2, "attendees will gather on Capitol Hill at 8 a.m. for a morning meeting after which they will meet with their lawmakers to discuss their support for a federal sales tax fairness solution."

"Due to recent events in California and Tennessee, where publicly stated that they will use a sales tax moratorium to lobby Congress on behalf of a federal solution, a spotlight has been shone on the issue of sales tax equity on the federal level," said ABA CEO Oren Teicher. "Bricks-and-mortar retailers have worked at an unfair competitive advantage for far too long. We need to drive home the point now that the government should not be in the business of picking and choosing favorites. States should be enforcing their sales tax laws fairly to require remote retailers to collect and remit sales tax to the state. The time for sales tax fairness is now."

For more information on the advocacy event, please contact David Grogan, ABA senior public policy analyst, by October 17 at

GLOW: Milkweed Editions: Becoming Little Shell: Returning Home to the Landless Indians of Montana by Chris La Tray

Dept. of iRumors: An 'iPad Mini' Next Year?

Is Apple looking to build a low-cost iPad to douse the Kindle Fire's momentum? AppleInsider reported that Ticonderoga Securities analyst Brian White "has been touring China and Taiwan and meeting with component suppliers, where he has heard rumblings of a so-called 'iPad mini' arriving next year. The 'mini' name doesn't necessarily refer to the size of the device, he said, but a lower entry-level price."

"We believe this lower priced iPad could be priced in the mid-to-high-$200 range," White observed in a note to investors. "We expect this will be followed by a much more powerful, feature rich standard-priced iPad 3 in (the second quarter of 2012)." AppleInsider wrote that the timing of Apple's presumed release date for the "iPad mini" would be about the same time that Amazon is expected to introduce a larger, more powerful touchscreen tablet.

CNet noted that "the tablet market is changing. Apple may have to change along with it. Smaller 7-inch and 8.9-inch tablets from Samsung, HTC, RIM and others are prevalent now. And if the Kindle Fire approaches the iPad in sales--which analysts say is possible--that would make smaller, cheaper tablets a category that rivals the 10-inch iPad in popularity."

But Fast Company was not convinced and offered its own prediction: "Aware that it's facing increasing competition in the core iPad market, Apple will ace it with the iPad 3 as a mid-to-premium price device. Also aware that strong sales of the Fire mean consumers do want a cheaper device that delivers good performance, Apple will keep perhaps just one size of iPad 2 on sale (perhaps the 16GB Wi-Fi edition, entirely untouched inside) and drop the price to something crazy--like $350 or perhaps $299. This will still let them make a small profit on every one, as well as incremental profits from ongoing spends in the App Store by consumers. Apple won't compete directly with the 'cheap' but technologically inferior Fire, instead tempting customers to spend just a few dollars more on the 'real deal' that has a bigger screen and can play games--and lets you write novels on it too, should you want to release your inner Paula Fox/Paul Auster."

G.P. Putnam's Sons: Four Weekends and a Funeral by Ellie Palmer

Banned Books Week Virtual Read-Out a Success

More than 650 videos of people reading their favorite banned books were posted on YouTube as part of the Banned Books Virtual Read-Out during last month's celebration of Banned Books Week, and the three-week auction of children’s art by the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression was also deemed a great success, with more than $37,000 raised, Bookselling This Week reported.  

"I spent a lot of my time this year staring at YouTube and eBay and hitting the refresh button as the number of videos and bids climbed. It was very exciting," said ABFFE president Chris Finan.

Bookstores contributed more than 90 videos featuring staff members and customers. Celebrities and authors contributed as well. The videos can be viewed on ABFFE's YouTube channel.


Image of the Day: Good Eats, Good Event

The Book Stall at Chestnut Court, Winnetka, Ill., recently hosted an event for Alton Brown, host of Good Eats on the Food Network, for his new book Good Eats 3: The Later Years (Stewart, Tabori & Chang). He drew a packed house--more than 500 people--and the store sold 287 copies of the book.

Blizzard Conditions: Wimpy Kid Cabin Fever Tour

The Wimpy Kid Rolling Blizzard tour will roll out in a traveling snowstorm of excitement on November 15, which is also the launch date for The Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Cabin Fever. Along with Jeff Kinney himself, the Wimpy Kid snow truck will deliver snow--to be made on-site at each event--while dispensing winter-weather refreshments, Wimpy Kid games and more. The truck is set to visit one state for every one million copies being printed--six states, six million total. With this sixth book in the series, the total number of copies in print will exceed 58 million.

The scheduled stops for the Wimpy Kid Rolling Blizzard tour are Barnes & Noble, Cherry Hill, N.J., on November 15; Politics & Prose, Washington D.C., on November 16; bbgb books, Richmond, Va., on November 17; Park Road Books, Charlotte, N.C., on November 18; Little Shop of Stories, Decatur, Ga., on November 19; and the final stop will be at the Miami Book Festival on Sunday, November 20. Free tickets are limited in number, while supplies last, and distribution is being handled by each store.

Supporting Indies: A 'Counter-Cultural Effort'

In "Ode to the Bookstore," the Daily Beast's John Avlon wrote that "if you care about the unique character of your community, if you believe in rewarding the rugged independence of small businesses, then your local independent bookstore deserves your support, now more than ever. This is an admittedly counter-cultural effort--but that is part of its appeal and sense of purpose."

Avlon recommended a number of his favorite indies coast to coast, but noted that "beloved as all these might be, you don’t need a crystal ball to see that independent bookstores are going to have to at least adjust their business model to remain relevant in the face of new technology."

He cited Mitch Kaplan's Books & Books stores in the Miami area as the "best model I’ve seen" because they "are now built around cafes and outdoor courtyards, where friends meet for coffee in the morning or a drink after work. Local musicians play and nationally known authors read, as free concerts open to the public. It is an expanded version of the old coffeehouse model--beer and wine is served along with good food--and buying a book becomes a backdrop, an essential organic part of the overall experience."

Avlon also showcased "a gallery of some of the great and iconic independent bookstores across the United States. Seek them out. Support and appreciate them. Rally round their flag because they make your city or town a better place to live by keeping the soul of the great good place alive."

Kathy Patrick: 'Oprah of the Piney Woods'

Calling her the "Oprah of the Piney Woods," the Houston Press featured an extensive interview and profile of Kathy Patrick, the dynamic indie bookseller who owns Beauty and the Book, Jefferson, Tex.; is founder of the Pulpwood Queens book club (with 515 chapters internationally); author of The Pulpwood Queen's Tiara-Wearing, Book-Sharing Guide to Life; organizer of the annual Girlfriend Weekend; and a popular speaker at dozens of book festivals. In her spare time, she's working on a second book--and possibly a play--and "has been approached about a reality TV show." And that's not all.

"I've had to reinvent myself so many times," she said, offering up a favorite quote: "So when life hands you a lemon, forget lemonade, make margaritas." Of her combination bookstore and beauty salon, Patrick observed: "We don't gossip in my shop. We talk books, we talk film, we talk culture. I'll be 55 this month. I don't have time for negativity.... I think I am wired a little bit different than most. I never dreamed this would ever happen. But that's what happened.... When I'm gone I want this to be what remains of me, exactly like this. I want this to become a museum like the Eudora Welty House. I want people to say 'This is her shop, these are her books. Look, there's still a lock of hair on the ground.' "

Coming Soon: PubWest Conference

The full agenda has been announced for the 2011 PubWest Conference, which will be held November 3-5 in Henderson, Nev. The theme of this year's conference is "Beating the Odds: Making Money Making Books," with keynotes by Len Riggio, CEO of Barnes & Noble; Tyson Cornell of Rare Bird Lit; and Kevin Smokler, author of the forthcoming essay collection Practical Classics.

PubWest sessions will include intensives on Digital Publishing and Creating EPubs with Adobe InDesign CS5.5; Exploration and Discussion of the Chicago Manual of Style's New 16th Edition with Alice Levine; Evaluating the Effectiveness of Social Marketing; Optimizing Digital Production Workflows; Improving Your Publishing Company’s Profitability; Product Line Branding and Permissions; "Green" Publishing, Faceoff Between Traditional and New Social Media; Enhanced E-Books, Metadata and Discoverability, as well as interactive roundtables held by industry professionals.

For more information and to register, go to

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Make the Bread, Buy the Butter

Tonight on Extra and Access Hollywood: Hilary Duff, author of Devoted (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, $17.99, 9781442408555).


On NPR's Marketplace this weekend: Jennifer Reese, author of Make the Bread, Buy the Butter: What You Should and Shouldn't Cook from Scratch--Over 120 Recipes for the Best Homemade Foods (Free Press, $24, 9781451605877).


Sunday on CBS's 60 Minutes: Steven Naifeh, co-author of Van Gogh: The Life (Random House, $40, 9780375507489).

Scary Sneak Peek: Stephen King’s Bag of Bones

A&E Network released the first teaser for its upcoming series Stephen King's Bag of Bones, a two-night, four-hour mini-series starring Pierce Brosnan. reported that the teaser will debut during the second season premiere of AMC's The Walking Dead on Sunday. Bag of Bones, directed by Mick Garris, also stars Annabeth Gish and Melissa George.

Movie Trailer: Albert Nobbs

A new trailer has been released for Albert Nobbs, the film adaptation of a short story by Irish novelist George Moore. The movie, which is directed by Rodrigo Garcia, stars Glenn Close in the title role as an Englishwoman disguised as a man so she can be a hotel butler in 19th-century Ireland.

Books & Authors

Awards: PEN/Pinter Prizes

Roberto Saviano won the 2011 PEN/Pinter International Writer of Courage Award. David Hare made the announcement in accepting the PEN/Pinter prize, which is awarded annually to a British writer or a writer resident in Britain of outstanding literary merit who, in the words of Harold Pinter's Nobel speech, casts an "unflinching, unswerving" gaze upon the world, and shows a "fierce intellectual determination... to define the real truth of our lives and our societies."

The prize is shared with an imprisoned writer of courage selected by English PEN's Writers in Prison Committee in association with the winner. This half of the prize is awarded to someone who has been persecuted for speaking out about their beliefs.

Italian writer Saviano's work exposed the organized crime of the Neopolitan mafia, which led to his living in hiding under 24 hour police protection.  

In his speech, Hare said, "Roberto Saviano took on the Neapolitan mafia, first in the novel Gomorrah and then in the film made from it. He did so at great risk to his own safety. My hope in sharing my prize with him is that a measure of recognition from PEN may, in however small a way, make his life easier. Saviano has said that when reporting is combined with imagination then literature 'speaks to the reader. It invades his space.' I could not agree more."

The Literature Prize: A Booker Alternative?

Although many feel the book prize field is already overcrowded, there is apparently room for one more: the new Literature Prize will be awarded annually to the best novel written in the English language and published in the U.K., "with the writer's country of origin not a factor," the Bookseller reported.

The Literature Prize advisory board said the award "will offer readers a selection of novels that, in the view of these expert judges, are unsurpassed in their quality and ambition.... For many years this brief was fulfilled by the Booker (latterly the Man Booker) Prize. But as numerous statements by that prize's administrator and this year's judges illustrate, it now prioritizes a notion of 'readability' over artistic achievement."

The Guardian's Robert McCrum called the Literature Prize "a passionate, and pointed, rebuke" of the Man Booker prize organizers, adding "my guess is that the top people at the Man Group, who care passionately about new writing, and understand the cultural politics of books, will use the urgent and persuasive challenge of the Literature prize to make some long-overdue reforms, and also to effect some key personnel changes. Jonathan Taylor is deluded. There is no genuine 'transparency.' The prize he chairs has been a gentleman's club for far too long, with all the well-documented limitations of clubland London."

Book Brahmin: Gregory G. Allen

Gregory G. Allen is the author of the novel Well with My Soul (ASD Publishing, October 2011) and Proud Pants: An Unconventional Memoir (ASD Publishing, July 2011). He has had stories and poetry published in many anthologies, and has been an actor, director, writer and producer. He's served as book writer and/or composer/lyricist for more than 10 shows, and his musical River Divine won Best Score from TheatreWeek magazine. He currently manages an arts center at Bloomfield College in New Jersey.

On your nightstand now:

My iPad is loaded with several books, but I'm reading In Leah's Wake by Terri Giuliano Long.

Favorite book when you were a child:

The Boxcar Children series by Gertrude Chandler Warner... oh yes, and Superfudge by Judy Blume

Your top five authors:

That is really a hard one as I have some new authors I've come in contact with that I now love, and so many across many, many genres... but if I had to go back prior to the past six months--I will go with John Irving, Augusten Burroughs, Richard Matheson, Armistead Maupin, Tennessee Williams (my female author friends are going to hate me for that list... sorry).

Book you've faked reading:

Les Misérables by Victor Hugo in high school... and then I moved to New York and fell in love with the musical when I saw it onstage. 

Book you're an evangelist for:

Running with Scissors by Augusten Burroughs. I told everyone to buy this book after it came out. It made me want to be a novelist and not only a playwright/composer.

Book you've bought for the cover:

Attack of the Theater People by Marc Acito (a friend told me about Marc and when I saw the cover--it just cracked me up).

Book that changed your life:

Bid Time Return by Richard Matheson. I loved the movie Somewhere in Time and in the late '80s searched high and low for that book and finally located a used copy. It made me realize how different source material can be (and I even started my first adult musical that I wrote based on that book). It propelled me hard into writing musical theatre and put me on a different course from acting.

Favorite line from a book:

" 'HOW CAN YOU BE HAPPY IF YOU SPEND ALL YOUR TIME THINKING ABOUT DOING IT?' " Owen asked. --from A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving. (The fact he had Owen's tiny voice typed all in caps in that book was genius... plus that one line speaks volumes.)

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

Tales of the City by Armistead Maupin. I read it so many years ago, I'd like to go back now as a man in my 40s and read it again with fresh eyes.


Book Review

Review: Bin Laden's Bald Spot

Bin Laden's Bald Spot: & Other Stories by Brian Doyle (Red Hen Press, $16.95 trade paper, 9781597099158, October 2011)

In typical Brian Doyle (Mink River) juggernaut style, these stories invite you to clamber aboard and enjoy the ride. In the title story we learn that Bin Laden has (had) a bald spot shaped just like Iceland, including the Vestfjarda Peninsula to the west. His barber imparts this information along with a description of going to the "cave complex every Wednesday for haircuts," and watching Bin Laden, obsessed with his regular video appearances, get ready for his next performance. Properly crumpled jacket, crewcut under turban, without "a single humor neuron in his body." Later in the book, in "Pinching Bernie," he takes on Bernard Francis Cardinal Law. While Archbishop of Boston, Law "kept shuffling the rapists around from job to job and denying everything while they were raping kids in sacristies and chapels and hospital rooms and classrooms and basements and cellars and billiard rooms and rectories... and once even in a convent." Doyle has his way with these two criminals, clearly reminding the reader how despicable they are.

In "The Boyfriends Bus," nine former boyfriends and the husband of a happily married woman get together for an outing. They all get hammered and let the reminiscences flow. It will make you laugh out loud. In "Do You Think We Should Pull Over," we hear about Pete, who drove his Impala through a car wash with the top down. There follows a history lesson on cars and drivers, "but the fact is that there are facts, which is what we are talking about here, and then there is the nutty stuff, which is why God invented talk radio."

All 25 stories are filled with great voices, great moments and odd happenings: the man who was born on a Greyhound bus and eventually bought the company; Joseph Kennedy, telling all to a golf course bartender just minutes before the stroke that rendered him speechless; a man who takes up running to try to forget that his wife is having an affair and discovers that all the other runners on the street are also cuckolds. This is vintage Doyle, and it doesn't get much better. --Valerie Ryan

Shelf Talker: Twenty-five stories from the febrile imagination of Brian Doyle, unique and memorable.


Deeper Understanding

Robert Gray: Indie Booksellers Go Off Script

When I asked about POS scripts for independent bookstores recently, I anticipated the answers would lean toward the scriptless end of the spectrum. This proved to be not only true, but essentially unanimous, as current and former indie booksellers expressed their disdain for a scripted retail experience. At the same time, however, most admitted that some guidelines must be established when training staff to avoid the chance of someone going into a full-tilt Bernard Black off-script rant while serving customers.

The POS script column triggered some harrowing memories for a couple of former chain booksellers. Unfortunately, I shattered the pleasant recollections of Todd Stocke, v-p, editorial director at Sourcebooks: "Good heavens, Robert, I had been remembering everything about my old bookselling days as cozy, warm experiences. Filled with joy, laughter, creative banter. Turns out I’d been suppressing memories of having to sell that infernal B. Dalton discount card (shudder)."

Ilyssa Wesche, advertising sales rep for Baker & Taylor, was a Borders bookseller "for several years (many years ago) and also at plenty of other retail stores, just like all of my English major brethren. I never minded the POS script as much as I did the phone script--anything beyond 'Thank you for calling X, how may I help you?' seemed like forced telemarketing. At one time, Borders had a phone script that went on for over a minute--that coincided with the original shift in management. Hmmm."

Indie bookseller Sarah Pishko, owner of Prince Books, Norfolk, Va., had no doubts regarding the topic: "I don't like 'scripts.' Each of my employees do their own thing. They must be friendly and appreciative of the customer, but I want them to display their own personality."

She added that she has been lucky in not having to train new staff for more than a year, "so memory fades. I think I just have them watch me a few times, or watch someone else. If something strikes me as inappropriate, I'd just tell them. But I discourage clerks from discussing what the customer is purchasing, like when someone brings up Fodor's Tahiti, and they get asked, 'When are you going?' However, at present, my folks are experienced enough to know when to talk about the book purchase and when not to."

"No scripts here, presumably a decision by the owners," Carol Schneck, replenishment buyer at Schuler Books and Music, Okemos, Mich., assured us. "We're meant to greet the customer, ask if they found everything they wanted, and thank them at the end of the transaction, but there's no set language for doing so. Personally, I detest scripts; they're dehumanizing. Even the necessary questions you ask over and over (Would you like a bag? Do you want your receipt with you or in the bag?) can be tedious, and I'd always try to avoid making them sound mechanical by varying the wording (that way, I once got to say, 'Would you like your zombie in a bag?') One of our former staff, an actor, would always ask if the customer would enjoy having a bag. I thought that was great and I still use it occasionally. I especially hate shopping at stores where they expect you to give them personal information at the register. Any time I'm asked for a ZIP code, I tell them a different one. 94112 is a favorite."

Diane Van Tassell, owner of Bay Books New Used and Rare, San Ramon, Calif., said, "I have to admit that I am more concerned that every person who walks in our door is greeted. This is not done in most shops and I think that this is about the most important thing to developing your store as a friendly place to shop. When I walk into most bookstores (and I do go around and visit other indies), I am usually completely ignored. They don't even seem to notice that I am there. A warm welcome or even a smile would do wonders toward making customers feel like they are valued.   
"The person at the register has the job of greeting everyone--no matter how busy they are--as well as ringing up sales. I would like them to upsell and talk about events, etc., but I am happy if they are engaging the customer in conversation about whatever."
To script or not to script? That is not the question. Van Tassell offered a scriptless alternative: "Selling a friendly atmosphere is really more important to us than getting e-mail addresses or upselling books."--Robert Gray (column archives available at Fresh Eyes Now)

The Bestsellers

Indie Bestsellers: Baseball Edition

With the Major League Baseball post-season now underway, Bookselling This Week presented a top-selling baseball titles list based on sales in independent bookstores nationwide for the eight-week period ending October 9.

  1. Moneyball by Michael Lewis
  2. The Baseball Codes: Beanballs, Sign Stealing, and Bench-Clearing Brawls--The Unwritten Rules of America’s Pastime by Jason Turbow & Michael Duca
  3. Flip Flop Fly Ball by Craig Robinson
  4. A Band of Misfits: Tales of the 2010 San Francisco Giants by Andrew Baggarly
  5. Stan Musial: An American Life by George Vecsey
  6. The Captain: The Journey of Derek Jeter by Ian O’Connor
  7. The Baseball: Stunts, Scandals, and Secrets Beneath the Stitches by Zack Hample
  8. Bottom of the 33rd: Hope, Redemption, and Baseball’s Longest Game by Dan Barry
  9. This Is Our Time!: The 2010 San Francisco Giants World Series Champions by Chris Haft and Eric Alan
  10. Baseball in the Garden of Eden: The Secret History of the Early Game by John Thorn
  11. Willie Mays: The Life, the Legend by James S. Hirsch
  12. Take Me Out to the Ballpark: An Illustrated Tour of Baseball Parks Past and Present by Josh Leventhal
  13. The Last Boy: Mickey Mantle and the End of America’s Childhood by Jane Leavy
  14. 56: Joe Dimaggio and the Last Magic Number in Sports by Kostya Kennedy
  15. Clubhouse Confidential: A Yankee Bat Boy’s Insider Tale of Wild Nights, Gambling, and Good Times With Modern Baseball’s Greatest Team by Luis Castillo
  16. Worth the Wait by Brian Murphy
  17. Baseball Americana: Treasures From the Library of Congress by Harry Katz
  18. Great Baseball Feats, Facts & Firsts by David Nemec
  19. Giant Surprise: San Francisco’s 2010 World Champions
  20. The Big Show: Charles M. Conlon’s Golden Age Baseball Photographs by Neal McCabe
  21. Knuckler: My Life With Baseball’s Most Confounding Pitch by Tim Wakefield
  22. Fenway Park: The Centennial--100 Years of Red Sox Baseball by Saul Wisnia
  23. The Game From Where I Stand by Doug Glanville
  24. 21: The Story of Roberto Clemente by Wilfred Santiago
  25. Fenway 1912: The Birth of a Ballpark, a Championship Season, and Fenway’s Remarkable First Year by Glenn Stout


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