Shelf Awareness for Thursday, October 20, 2011

William Morrow & Company: Death of the Author by Nnedi Okorafor

St. Martin's Press: Disney High: The Untold Story of the Rise and Fall of Disney Channel's Tween Empire

Running Press Adult: Scam Goddess: Lessons from a Life of Cons, Grifts, and Schemes by Laci Mosley

Graphix: 39 Clues: One False Note (39 Clues Graphic Novel #2) by Gordon Korman, Illustrated by Hannah Templer

Running Press: Enter For a Chance to Win a Moonlit Explorer Pack!

Quill Tree Books: The Firelight Apprentice by Bree Paulsen


Kobo Launches Vox Tablet

Kobo has thrown its digital hat into low-priced Android tablet ring with the introduction of Kobo Vox, which will retail for $199.99, matching the price of Amazon's Kindle Fire. Kobo started taking orders yesterday in the U.S. and Canada for the 7-inch screen Vox, which will ship October 28, two weeks ahead of the Kindle Fire's release date.

Kobo's CEO Michael Serbinis called the Vox--which will be offered in Hot Pink, Lime Green, Ice Blue or Jet Black--"the reader for your connected life... where books can come alive in color and conversation."

TechCrunch noted that "to its credit, it has social features that are very desirable among social readers. You know, book clubs and such. If you and your friends have the wherewithal to put together a book club, this is definitely the platform to do it on. The Kobo Pulse integration lets you detect and join discussion of passages and pages as you read them, and the Vox is the first e-reader to get Facebook Ticker integration. 'Devin turned a page in The Aeneid--12 seconds ago.' " added that "in an attempt to differentiate itself from the Kindle Fire, Kobo is playing up the Vox’s openness. A lot. 'Kobo Vox--The Peoples’ Reader! (Vox populi, voice of the people),' the site proclaims. 'Based on Kobo’s founding principle... FREEDOM.' Users can 'read freely' (unlike Amazon, Kobo supports the open e-book format ePub, which can be read on any open e-reader) and access the open Android store--the Vox has 'unencumbered access to Android 2.3 so you are free to customize your experience to suit you best!' The Vox's Web browser is open and Android-based."

Zest Books: The Gender Binary Is a Big Lie: Infinite Identities around the World by Lee Wind

WebGL Bookcase: Google Meets Borges

With the launch of Google's WebGL Bookcase, it's hard not to recall the opening of the Jorge Luis Borges story, "The Library of Babel": "The universe (which others call the Library) is composed of an indefinite and perhaps infinite number of hexagonal galleries...."

TechNewsDaily wrote that Google "has reinvented the library as a 3-D helix available for browsing from any Internet-connected device. The 'infinite digital bookcase' holds more than 10,000 titles from Google Books."
The Official Google Blog noted that, "As digital designers, we often think about how to translate traditional media into a virtual space. Recently, we thought about the bookcase. What would it look like if it was designed to hold digital books?... Bookworms using a modern browser can try the WebGL Bookcase today. We recommend using Google Chrome and a fast computer with a powerful graphics card. Even with new hardware, this interface is experimental and may not work on some machines."

GLOW: Flatiron Books: Private Rites by Julia Armfield

Kindle Headed to Japan?

Amazon may be about to enter the Japanese e-book market, where "publishers have been reluctant to provide content to Amazon over concerns that the retailer will sell e-books at up to a discount of 90%, as in the U.S.," Reuters wrote, citing a report by Nikkei Business Daily that Amazon "is in final stages of negotiations with publishers like Shogakukan Inc, Shueisha Inc, Kodansha Ltd and Shinchosha Publishing Co.... Midsize publisher PHP Institute Inc. is expected to provide about 1,000 digitized titles to Amazon."

Nikkei estimated the Japanese e-book market at "only 65 billion yen ($846.9 million) in fiscal 2010, compared with about 2 trillion yen for printed books and magazines."

Alex Baker: Exceptional Design And Creative Services For The Publishing Industry

Obituary Note: Piri Thomas

Piri Thomas, poet, novelist and author of the 1967 memoir Down These Mean Streets, about growing up in Spanish Harlem, died on Monday at age 83.

The New York Times noted that the memoir became a bestseller and "a staple on high school and college reading lists … as Americans seemed to be awakening to the rough cultures that poverty and racism were breeding in cities."

The memoir also influenced other writers. Poet Martin Espada told the Times, "Because he became a writer, many of us became writers. Before Down These Mean Streets, we could not find a book by a Puerto Rican writer in the English language about the experience of that community, in that voice, with that tone and subject matter."


Cool Idea of the Day: Bookstore Billboards

Hub City Bookshop, Spartanburg, S.C., which was founded last year (Shelf Awareness, July 1, 2010), has launched a billboard campaign and will run 38 of these billboard messages for the next four months, into 2012. The bookstore is operated by the Hub City Writers project and stocks mostly new and some used titles.


Image of the Day: Peachy Win!

Congratulations to Joey DeSomma, winner of the Roald Dahl National Peachstakes, which celebrates the 50th anniversary of the publication of James and the Giant Peach. DeSomma and his father will go to London, where, among many other things, they will tour the Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre. DeSomma picked up a form for Penguin Young Readers' Peachstakes at BookTowne, Manasquan, N.J., and worked on his essay while on vacation. Here he is with BookTowne owner Rita Maggio.

Holiday Hum: Learned Owl

Who will be this year's Mark Twain? Shelf Awareness is checking in with booksellers to see what's flying off the shelves this fall, which page-turners they expect to top shoppers' gift-giving lists, and what their outlook is for the fast-approaching holiday season.

At the Learned Owl Book Shop in Hudson, Ohio, William J. Bennett's The Book of Man: Readings on the Path to Manhood and Bill O'Reilly and Martin Dugard's Killing Lincoln: The Shocking Assassination that Changed America Forever are selling well. "But, at the moment, other than kids' books, nothing is blowing out like the Autobiography of Mark Twain did last holiday season," noted owner Liz Murphy.

Young readers aren't waiting to unwrap Rick Riordan's The Son of Neptune, the second installment in the Heroes of Olympus series. The store sold 20 copies alone the day the book went on sale earlier this month. "I can't tell you how many moms came in saying their sons had the date marked on their calendars and were counting down," Murphy said.  

A Learned Owl favorite for art lovers and foodies of all ages is the "very funky" They Draw and Cook: 107 Recipes Illustrated by Artists from Around the World. Murphy is gifting two people on her Christmas list with copies of the colorful tome, which was inspired by a blog created by co-authors, designers and siblings Salli Swindell (a Hudson resident) and Nate Padavick.

A "beautifully packaged" title Murphy expects to be one of the store's "blow-out bestsellers" this season is The Louvre: All the Paintings. Endorsed by the legendary Paris museum, the slipcased book showcases for the first time all 3,022 paintings on display in its permanent collection.

Former Borders customers are now among the Learned Owl's clientele and are expected to increase foot traffic during the holidays. Murphy made a concerted effort to reach out to them, taking out newspaper ads in an area where there was once a Borders outpost. She suggested readers looking for a new bricks-and-mortar locale stop by the Learned Owl, offered to exchange defunct rewards cards for a 20%-coupon and mentioned a crucial asset not likely found at a chain store: the resident canine, Ruby. Said Murphy, "It was very successful and well worth the advertising money spent." --Shannon McKenna Schmidt

Photo by RPC Photo / Andree Niswander


If you'd like to share what's going on at your store, now or during the upcoming holiday season, drop Shannon a line.


Sanj Kharbanda on Digital Strategy

Digital Book World profiled Sanj Kharbanda, v-p of digital strategy at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Trade and Reference. Our favorite q&a:

Q: What advice would you give to someone just starting out in publishing?

A: This is one of the most exciting times to be in publishing. The industry has seen more changes in the last 18 months than it has seen in decades. But, if you can't handle moving cheese....

Also, Kharbanda said: "I see ourselves as storytellers and when we look at creating digital products, we always answer these questions before we proceed: Are we creating a better reader experience? Does this retain the author's original intent?"

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Madoff's Daughter-in-Law on 20/20

Tomorrow on ABC's 20/20: Stephanie Madoff Mack, author of The End of Normal (Blue Rider Press, $26.95, 9780399158162).


Tomorrow night on HBO's Real Time with Bill Maher: Thomas L. Friedman, co-author of That Used to Be Us: How America Fell Behind in the World It Invented and How We Can Come Back (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $28, 9780374288907).


Tomorrow on a PBS American Masters Documentary: Pearl Jam, co-authors of Pearl Jam Twenty (Simon & Schuster, $40, 9781439169216).

Movie: The Three Musketeers

The latest film adaptation of Alexandre Dumas' iconic The Three Musketeers opens tomorrow, October 21. Paul W.S. Anderson directs a cast including Milla Jovovich, Orlando Bloom and Christoph Waltz.


Movie Casting: Night Train to Lisbon

Vanessa Redgrave, Melanie Laurent and Bruno Ganz have been added to the cast of Night Train to Lisbon, director Bille August's adaptation of the novel by Pascal Mercier. They join an impressive cast that also includes Jeremy irons, Christopher Lee, Lena Olin, Martina Gedeck and Jack Huston. Variety reported that the movie will go into production next month and is scheduled to begin filming in March.

Hollywood Tracks Down Scandinavian Crime Writers

Is Jo Nesbo Hollywood's next Stieg Larsson? In a piece headlined "Scandinavian Crime Novels Hot In H'wood," reported that an American version of Nesbo's new TV series Occupied "is being talked about" and that "American actors and a U.S. director are also being considered for the eight-episode Norwegian TV series, which is awaiting a green light from state broadcaster NRK."

"People are saying Occupied has the potential to be a U.S. series," said Swedish producer Marianne Gray, adding that there is now greater interest for American companies to work with European production companies. wrote that the current strategy "is to identify bestselling crime novel series, and then convert them into high-end television drama, often giving them a theatrical outing first." According to Gray, "One American executive said to me, 'International is the new DVD.' "

In addition to Occupied, a U.S. version Nesbo’s novel Headhunters, which played at the BFI London Film Festival this week, "is being adapted by Summit Entertainment as a $30M-40M movie and is now out to writers," and Working Title is developing a film version of The Snowman. drew parallels not only with Larsson's Millennium trilogy, but also with the Swedish TV version of Henning Mankell's Kurt Wallander series, which the BBC remade starring Kenneth Branagh.

This Weekend on Book TV: Texas Book Festival

Book TV airs on C-Span 2 this week 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 website.

Saturday, October 22

8 a.m. Chuck Leavell, author of Growing a Better America (Mercer University Press, $24.95, 9780615434582), discusses the creation of the Mother Nature Network. (Re-airs Saturday at 11 p.m.)

11 a.m. Book TV offers live coverage of the Texas Book Festival in Austin, featuring event coverage, author interviews and a chance for viewers to call in and comment on the programs. (Re-airs Sunday at 12 a.m.)

7 p.m. Christopher Phillips, author of Constitution Cafe: Jefferson's Brew for a True Revolution (Norton, $24.95, 9780393064803), traveled across the country and spoke to Americans about re-framing the Constitution. 

8:15 p.m. David Horowitz, author of A Point in Time: The Search for Redemption in this Life and the Next (Regnery, $24.95, 9781596982901), presents his philosophy on life and mortality. (Re-airs Saturday at 8:15 p.m. and Sunday at 7 a.m. and 11 p.m.)

10 p.m. After Words. Matthew Bishop interviews Nicholas Wapshott, author of Keynes Hayek: The Clash That Defined Modern Economics (Norton, $27.95, 9780393077483), who discusses the virtues of the free-market versus government intervention in the economy. (Re-airs Sunday at 9 p.m., Monday at 12 a.m. and Sunday, October 30, at 12 p.m.)

Sunday, October 23

8 a.m. For an event hosted by the Strand Bookstore in New York City, Calvin Trillin talks about his book Quite Enough of Calvin Trillin: Forty Years of Funny Stuff (Random House, $27, 9781400069828). (Re-airs Sunday at 10 p.m.)

8:45 a.m. Anita Hill, author of Reimagining Equality: Stories of Gender, Race, and Finding Home (Beacon Press, $25.95, 9780807014370), examines housing issues in the U.S. (Re-airs Sunday at 7:45 p.m.)

12 p.m. Book TV continues its live coverage from the Texas Book Festival in Austin. (Re-airs Monday at 2 a.m.)

Books & Authors

Awards: Galaxy Shortlists

Finalists have been announced in 11 categories for this year's Galaxy National Book Awards, which honor the best new books of the year from U.K. authors or non-British nationals holding a British passport, or who have lived in Great Britain and Northern Ireland for more than two years.

The Bookseller featured all of the shortlisted titles, including the interesting competition in the Waterstone's U.K. Author of the Year category between Julian Barnes's A Sense of an Ending--winner of the Man Booker Prize this week--and Alan Hollinghurst, whose novel The Stranger's Child was conspicuously absent from the Booker shortlist. The other finalists in this category are Jamrach's Menagerie by Carol Birch, The Bees by Carol Ann Duffy, The House of Silk by Anthony Horowitz and The Long Song by Andrea Levy

Winners will be revealed November 4 in London.

Wire to Wire Is PNBA's Buzz Book

Wire to Wire by Scott Sparling (Tin House Books) won the BuzzBooks contest at the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association's annual trade show, held in Portland, Ore., over the weekend. It garnered the most votes by booksellers and librarians as the book whose "buzz they could not help but carry back to the library or store."

PNBA described the novel this way: "Wire to Wire assembles a cast of train-hopping, drug-dealing, glue-huffing lowlifes, in a stunning homage to one of our most popular enduring genres--the American crime novel.

"While riding a freight car through Detroit, Michael Slater suffers a near-fatal accident--a power line to the head. After a questionable recovery and a broken relationship, he abandons his new home in the Arizona desert and returns to Michigan where he discovers that the Pleasant Peninsula of his youth is none too pleasant."

Last year's BuzzBooks winner, the memoir River House by Sarahlee Lawrence (also published by Tin House Books), won a 2011 Pacific Northwest Book Award.

Book Review

Review: Letters from an Unknown Woman

Letters from an Unknown Woman by Gerard Woodward (Arcade, $24.95 Hardcover, 9781611453126, October 2011)

By any standard, Tory Pace is a bit of a drip. Woodward (August; I'll Go to Bed at Noon) apparently planned it that way so that the reader can enjoy her transformation and watch her interior life surface.

Tory is married to Donald, a man who is perhaps one of the most cruel, shameless males in contemporary literature. He goes off to fight in World War II; their children are evacuated to the country to be spared the London bombings; Tory's mother, Mrs. Head, moves in with her; and Tory goes to work in a gelatine factory.

After Tory leaves the factory for the day, she goes to work cleaning the women's public lavatory. There is no deep symbolism here about Tory needing to expiate for her sins--but she has them, to be sure. While Donald is a prisoner of war, Tory takes up with her boss at the factory and has a child by him. She and her mother concoct a story about Tory spending time with a friend in Leicester and finding the baby alive in the rubble after a night of bombing, so young Branson is folded into the family.

Donald writes to Tory from a POW camp and asks her to send him dirty letters, letters that explain in minute and exquisite detail every sexual escapade she can think of. A difficult proposition, given their sex life: "It was Donald who had done all the work, striving away above her in the darkness, as busy as a picador." Poor Tory goes from barber shop to library to bookstore in search of something racy. Then, after she starts the affair with her boss, George Farraway, the games begin. She writes long, erotic letters gleaned from George's observations and conversations when they are together.

Donald is delighted and keeps asking for more. He comes home with a gimpy leg, apparently unfit for much of anything but a trip to the corner bar. He is indifferent to their three children, unbelieving about where the fourth came from and finally runs afoul of the law when he is found to have a still in the house.

Through it all, Tory soldiers on, writing a strongly autobiographical book which she would love to see published, only to find that Donald has already published her letters. Things take a turn at this point and Tory finally comes into her own. --Valerie Ryan

Shelf Talker: While Donald Pace is a prisoner of war, he asks his wife, Tory, to send him erotic letters. Her efforts on his behalf take several surprising turns.


The Bestsellers

Top-Selling Titles in Florida Last Week

The following were the bestselling books at independent bookstores in Florida during the week ended Sunday, October 16:

1. Lost Memory of Skin by Russell Banks
2. Boomerang by Michael Lewis
3. The Best of Me by Nicholas Sparks
4. Cleopatra by Stacy Schiff
5. Shock Wave by John Sandford
6. The Tenth Parallel by Eliza Griswold
7. The Blasphemer by Nigel Farndale
8. Killing Lincoln by Bill O'Reilly and Martin Dugard
9. The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach
10. Secret Daughter by Shilpi Somaya Gowda

Reporting bookstores and their handselling favorites:

Books & Books, Coral Gables, Miami Beach, Bal Harbour: The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides
The Book Mark, Neptune Beach: Boomerang by Michael Lewis
Inkwood Books, Tampa
Vero Beach Book Center: Shock Wave by John Sandford

[Many thanks to the booksellers and Carl Lennertz!]

Top-Selling Titles in Chicagoland and Milwaukee Last Week

The following were the bestselling books at independent bookstores in the Chicago and Milwaukee areas during the week ended Sunday, October 16:

1. The Son of Neptune by Rick Riordan
2. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
3. The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides
4. The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman
5. The Paris Wife by Paula McLain
6. The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach
7. Red Summer by Cameron McWhirter
8. Eddie's War by Carol Fisher Saller
9. Liesl & Po by Lauren Oliver and Kei Acedera
10. Live, Love, and Decorate by Martyn Lawrence Bullard

The reporting bookstores and their handselling favorites:

Anderson's, Naperville and Downers Grove
Book Cellar, Lincoln Square
Book Stall at Chestnut Court, Winnetka: The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman
Book Table, Oak Park
Books & Co., Oconomowoc: American Boy by Larry Watson
Boswell Book Company, Milwaukee: In Other Worlds by Margaret Atwood
57th St. Books, Chicago: Benjamin Bear in Fuzzy Thinking by Philippe Coudray
Lake Forest Books: The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh
Next Chapter, Mequon
Read Between the Lynes, Woodstock
Seminary Co-op: Rich People Things by Chris Lehmann
Women and Children First, Chicago

[Many thanks to the booksellers and Carl Lennertz!]

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