Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Arcade Publishing: Roar: American Master, the Oral Biography of Roger Orr

Tor Nightfire: The Spite House by Johnny Compton

Candlewick Press (MA): Build a House by Rhiannon Giddens, illustrated by Monica Mikai

Popular Book Company (Usa): Complete Curriculum Success Series, Math Success Series, English Success Series, 365 Fun Days

Yen on: Fox Tales by Tomihiko Morimi, translated by Winifred Bird

Berkley Books: The Mostly True Story of Tanner & Louise by Colleen Oakley

Dial Press: Sam by Allegra Goodman

Editors' Note

Happy Turkey Day!

In honor of Thanksgiving, we're taking a short break. We'll see you again Monday, November 28.

We wish you all safe travels and a happy holiday!

Harper: Stone Blind by Natalie Haynes

Quotation of the Day

Why It's a Great Time to Be a Reader

"The unquestioned winners... are consumers, because the prices of books have been driven down and the selection material now available is enormous.... Works of such venerable authors as William Styron and Leon Uris are reappearing in e-books for the first time. Books that were long out of print are being revived. Print-on-Demand (POD) machines like the Espresso are turning up in leading bookstores such as Denver's Tattered Cover, Manchester, Vermont's Northshire, and Washington's Politics and Prose.... What we can say with certainty is that the transformation of publishing currently under way has demonstrated the viability of books in the digital age."

Barefoot Books: Save 10%


Mitzi's Main Street Books Opens in Rapid City, S.D.

This weekend Mitzi's Main Street Books celebrates its grand opening in Rapid City, S.D. The store is inspirational in several ways: it's in the site of a former adult video shop in the heart of historic downtown, an area being transformed from one of urban blight; it fills in the a gap left by the closing of Borders; and it fulfills the dream of the late Mitzi Hillenbrand Lally, who bought the building, wanting to create a community bookstore. (Lally died in August at the age of 82.)

Lally's brother, Ray Hillenbrand, who owns Prairie Edge Trading Co. & Galleries, worked with the Bookstore Training Group of Paz & Associates to manage the store opening, design the store, select inventory, train staff, handle newsletter marketing and merchandising for the soft opening.

Mitzi's staff members (from l.): Brenda Beal, Mary Ackland, Kristy Creager and Tarah Jennings.

Brenda Beal, retail manager for Prairie Edge, is overseeing operations at Mitzi's Main Street Books and Tarah Jennings, a former general manager at Borders, is managing day-to-day operations.

Hillenbrand commented, "Mitzi would have really flipped over the look and feel of the bookstore," adding that he hopes customers who didn't know her will "feel her essence."

Mitzi’s Main Street Books is located at 510 Main Street, Rapid City, S.D. 57701; 605-721-2665. The store's website,, is under development.

G.P. Putnam's Sons: The Hunter by Jennifer Herrera

New Owner for New England Mobile Book Fair

The New England Mobile Book Fair, Newton, Mass., which has been owned by the Strymish family since its founding 54 years ago, has a new owner: Tom Lyons, who has had a career in the insurance industry and was most recently an independent management consultant. Lyons is already working in the 30,000-sq.-ft. store and will be there fulltime next month.

The store had been on the market for a year, and the announcement was made to staff this morning, who were described as "jubilant."

Lyons said that he wants the New England Mobile Book Fair to be "a cultural center for Newton and the surrounding area. I want it to be even easier to shop and more efficient to operate. And I want to introduce these changes in a way that is gradual and does not change the Book Fair’s inherent charm.

"We'll never lose our focus on what has made the Book Fair great for all these years," Lyons continued. "Great customer service, an unbeatable selection and employees who genuinely care about promoting reading and helping our shoppers find what they want are the bedrock of the Book Fair legacy. And, of course, there are the everyday discounts all customers receive!"

Jon Strymish, one of the owners of the Book Fair, commented: "Tom impressed each of us with his commitment and passion for the Book Fair, as well as his respect for my family's legacy."

Steve Fischer, executive director of the New England Independent Booksellers Association, noted that three important bookstores in the area had been sold in the last three years--Harvard Book Store, Wellesley Booksmith and New England Mobile Book Fair. "This is a good thing!"

BookNation in Indiana Closing Storefront

BookNation, Terre Haute, Ind., is closing its storefront location in January although it will continue as an online business, specializing in bulk sales to businesses, clubs and institutions, the Tribune-Star reported.

Founded by Todd Nation, the store celebrated its 20th anniversary in September. "We've had a good run, but it's not getting any easier to keep a bookshop open in today's world," Nation told the paper.

Nation, who owns and lives in the store's building, plans to lease the storefront and conduct his online business on the second floor. He started BookNation when he purchased the former Campbell's Book Shop from Ira and Peg Campbell in 1991.

Books-A-Million Sales Slide in Third Quarter

In the third quarter ended October 29, net sales at Books-A-Million fell 8.1%, to $94.4 million, and the net loss was $4 million, compared to a net loss of $1.7 million in the same period a year earlier. Sales at stores open at least a year fell 7.7%.

The company said that during the quarter it had "one-time costs of $3.8 million related to the closing of 21 underperforming locations and the opening of 41 new BAM stores scheduled to open in November." These costs consisted of "dead rent," pre-opening rent, warehousing costs, store opening and closing costs and additional travel. The company also had a net loss from discontinued operations for a portion of the stores closed during the quarter that were in markets where BAM would no longer operate. BAM now operates 251 stores.

Commenting on results, chairman and CEO Clyde B. Anderson said that "an improved publishing lineup and good performance from our general merchandise expansion were partially offset by the effects of the Borders liquidation sales in 15 of our markets."

In a conference call, president and COO Terry Finley said that book sales benefited from stronger new releases and "a little more success" from media-driven titles than earlier in the year. The company's "runaway bestseller" was The Help by Kathryn Stockett, which benefited greatly from the release during the summer of the film based on it. In nonfiction, the strongest sellers were Killing Lincoln co-written by Bill O'Reilly, Jacqueline Kennedy: Historic Conversations on Life with John F. Kennedy and Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson. Children's outperformed other book categories.

Finley expressed optimism about holiday sales, citing "great commercial fiction" from John Grisham, Stephen King and Michael Crichton and "wide-ranging offerings in nonfiction from Glenn Beck to Lady Gaga."

In addition, the Nook tablet went on sale in stores last week, and "early results are very encouraging."

Obituary Note: Anne McCaffrey

Anne McCaffrey, author of nearly 100 books, co-author of more than 30 and best known for the Dragonriders of Pern series, died on Monday at her home in Ireland. She was 85.

McCaffrey was the first woman to win a Hugo Award (in 1968) and the first woman to win a Nebula (in 1969). She was the daughter of an army colonel, was born in Cambridge, Mass., and grew up in Montclair, N.J. She was inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame in 2006.

Consumer Reports: Nook Touch a Touch Better Than Kindle

After testing the $99 versions of the Kindle and Nook--the new Kindle Touch and the updated Nook Simple Touch--Consumer Reports found that the Kindle is "a worthy performer" among dedicated readers with touch screens but the Nook's "refresh" has made "the top-ranked e-book reader in our ratings a little better."


Image of the Day: Cat Calls

At the Westchester Feline Club Cat Show in White Plains, N.Y., on Sunday, the authors of Cat Calls: Wonderful Stories and Practical Advice from a Veteran Cat Sitter, foreword by Jim Davis (Square One Publishers) signed copies of their new book. On the left, Susan Logan, editor of Cat Fancy magazine, and Jeanne Adlon, full-time cat sitter.

Photo: Karen Jones


Now in a Book: Indie Booksellers' Favorites

Coffee House Press is publishing Our Favorite Books, a compilation of 25 lists of independent booksellers' favorite titles that began this past summer when Micawber's Bookstore co-owner Hans Weyandt was asked by a customer for a list of his favorite 100 books. Weyandt asked other booksellers to contribute--et voilà (Shelf Awareness, September 1, 2011).

Bookselling This Week wrote that Our Favorite Books will appear next fall and include a short biography of each of the participating booksellers and "anecdotes relating to their lists or handselling in general." Proceeds from the sale of the book will benefit the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression.

Weyandt told BTW that he didn't want the book to be "just a reprint of these lists." Rather, "we want to know who they are as booksellers."

Jessica Deutsch, marketing and sales director for Coffee House Press, said, "We're very excited about doing a book with a bookseller. We thought this would be a fun way to support the stores and share the interesting stories they have."

Bookseller (and Baker) Wins Drabyak Fellowship

Emily Adams, buyer and book club coordinator at Third Place Books in Lake Forest Park, Wash., has won the second annual Joe Drabyak Frontline Fellowship, sponsored by Workman Publishing, which will allow her to attend the Winter Institute in January in New Orleans, Bookselling This Week wrote.

The fellowship honors the late Joe Drabyak, master bookseller at Chester County Book & Music Company, West Chester, Pa., and former president of the New Atlantic Independent Booksellers Association.

Random House rep David Glenn, who nominated Adams, told BTW that Adams "brings bookselling alive by providing shoppers with an experience they wouldn't otherwise have nearly anywhere else." She also sometimes mixes baking and bookselling skills. "Emily understands that it is often just not enough to tell a customer how great a book is; sometimes you have to show them. Preferably with a fork and something that has maybe just a little bit of frosting on it."

Craig Popelars, director of marketing for Algonquin, said that Adams always takes "a fresh, out-of-the-box approach to handselling books. If it's an Algonquin debut, an Artisan cookbook, or a Workman children's title that she is handselling, Emily promotes it with unrestrained zeal and creativity. She's a black belt bookseller of the highest order and we're incredibly grateful for everything she does to champion our books."

ABA Arrivals and Departures

Greg Galloway has joined the American Booksellers Association as marketing manager and designer. He will work closely with membership and marketing officer Meg Smith in developing new materials for the Booksellers DIY and other ABA marketing vehicles. He was formerly the owner and operator of WebSight Marketing, which focused on Internet and print marketing for a variety of regional businesses.

Paige Poe, the current marketing manager, is leaving to form her own web development and design business, effective December 2. She played a key role in the development of the IndieBound marketing materials and the Bookseller DIY, including the new poster and bookmark holiday designs.


Media and Movies

Media Heat: Mitch Albom Will Have a Little Faith

This morning on Imus in the Morning: Dr. Keith Ablow, author of Inside the Mind of Casey Anthony: A Psychological Portrait (St. Martin's, $25.99, 9781250009142).


Friday on a repeat of NPR's Diane Rehm Show: readers review Home by Marilynne Robinson (Picador, $14, 9780312428549).


Friday on a repeat of the Tavis Smiley Show: Michael Lewis, author of Boomerang: Travels in the New Third World (Norton, $25.95, 9780393081817).


Friday on the View: Mitch Albom, author of Have a Little Faith: A True Story (Hyperion, $13.99, 9781401310462). He is also on Good Morning America and the Dr. Phil Show on Friday.


Sunday on Face the Nation: Walter Isaacson, author of Steve Jobs (Simon & Schuster, $35, 9781451648539). He will also appear on CNN's Fareed Zakaria 360.


Sunday on 60 Minutes: Michael Bublé, author of Onstage, Offstage (Gallery, $27, 9781451674712).


Sunday on Charlie Rose: Joshua David, co-author of High Line: The Inside Story of New York City's Park in the Sky (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $29.95, 9780374532994).

TV: The Corrections; Doc

Ewan McGregor will play Chip in HBO's pilot of The Corrections, adapted from Jonathan Franzen's novel, wrote. McGregor joins a cast that includes Chris Cooper and Dianne Wiest in the Noah Baumbach/Scott Rudin project. 


Producer Akiva Goldsman's first project in a new development deal with HBO is an untitled western about Doc Holliday, inspired by Mary Doria Russell's novel Doc. reported that Ron Howard will direct the pilot from a script by Adam Cooper and Bill Collage (Accepted).

This Weekend on Book TV: The Time of Our Lives

Book TV airs on C-Span 2 this week from 8 a.m. Saturday to 8 a.m. Tuesday 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, November 26

9:30 a.m. Deepak Chopra and Leonard Mlodinow, authors of War of the Worldviews: Science vs. Spirituality (Harmony, $26, 9780307886880), debate whether science or religion form the best foundation for understanding the world. (Re-airs Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday, December 3, at 4 p.m.)

12 p.m. Tom Brokaw, author of The Time of Our Lives: A Conversation About America (Random House , $26, 9781400064588), presents his thoughts on the state of American society and politics. (Re-airs Sunday at 10 p.m. and Saturday, December 3, at 8 a.m.)

8:30 p.m. A panel discussion of Joseph Heller's Catch-22, featuring Christopher Buckley, Robert Gottlieb and Mike Nichols. (Re-airs Saturday at 8:30 p.m., Sunday at 3 p.m. and Saturday, December 3, at 12 p.m.)

10 p.m. After Words. Margaret Hoover interviews Clifton Truman Daniel, author of Dear Harry, Love Bess: Bess Truman's Letters to Harry Truman 1919-1943 (Truman State University Press, $24.95, 9781935503255). (Re-airs Sunday at 9 p.m., and Monday at 12 a.m. and 3 a.m.)

11 p.m. Howard Markel discusses his book An Anatomy of Addiction: Sigmund Freud, William Halsted, and the Miracle Drug Cocaine (Pantheon, $28.95, 9780375423307). (Re-airs Sunday at 7:30 a.m. and 4:45 p.m.)

Books & Authors

Awards: Literary Review's Bad Sex Finalists

Stephen King, Haruki Murakami, Sebastian Barry and Lee Child are among the contenders for the Literary Review's Bad Sex awards this year. The Guardian observed that the "first thing that arises out of the nominations for this year's bad sex awards--the excruciating writing highlighted by the Literary Review each year--is just how fecund their writers' imaginations are. If they have done half the things they have ascribed to their characters, their spectacles must have steamed up." The nominees also include David Guterson, Christos Tsiolkas and Chris Adrian, as well as two women--Jean Auel and Dori Ostermiller.

"In a year in which literary awards have come under fire for parochialism and dumbing down [we are] proud to uphold and recognize literary excellence from around the world," the Literary Review noted. "The purpose of the prize is to draw attention to the crude, tasteless, often perfunctory use of redundant passages of sexual description in the modern novel and to discourage it." The "winner" of this year's award will be named December 6 in London.

GBO Picks Adam and Evelyn

The German Book Office in New York has selected Adam and Evelyn by Ingo Schulze, translated by John E. Woods (Knopf) as its November Book of the Month.

GBO described the book this way: "It is 1989 in East Germany. Adam is a tailor and dressmaker living in his own Garden of Eden in East Germany, where he leads a life of dressing--and undressing--his appreciative clientele. Evelyn is a restless young waitress who, having just unexpectedly quit her job, returns home to find Adam with one of his customers. The snake having reared its ugly head, Evelyn packs her belongings and runs off to Hungary with friends.

"When Adam banishes himself from the safe confines of his home, his garden, and his livelihood in pursuit of Evelyn, this Fall of Man coincides with the beginnings of a much more contemporary Fall--a wobbling Hungary opening its borders to Austria, the wall in Berlin beginning to crack, and Adam and Evelyn swept out into the Western world on a human tide of eager refugees desperate to find new freedoms. Paradise Regained? Perhaps not..."

Schulze's first book, 33 Moments of Happiness, won the Alfred Döblin Prize and the Ernst Willner Prize for Literature. In 2007, he was awarded both the Leipzig Book Fair Prize and the Thuringia Literature Prize.

Winner of the Goethe-Medal, Woods has translated many of the works of Schulze, Arno Schmidt, Christoph Ransmayr and the major novels of Thomas Mann.

Book Review

Children's Review: A New Year's Reunion

A New Year's Reunion by Yu Li-Qiong, illus. by Zhu Cheng-Liang (Candlewick, $15.99 hardcover, 9780763658816, October 2011)

On the surface, this is a picture book about celebrating the Chinese New Year, but at its heart, it is a heartwarming story of homecoming, and about keeping a connection to home even when you're away from it.

A girl in pigtails appears next to her mother's dressing table, her eyes barely peering over the table's edge. The two rise early on this particular morning because Papa is coming home. The young narrator stands in the doorway with her white cat as her mother escorts Papa to meet her. The lucky color red dominates the spread with lanterns, decorations and a cargo of produce that an elderly gentleman carries by boat. "Papa builds big houses in faraway places. He comes home only once each year, during Chinese New Year," says narrator Maomao.

Author and artist, who both live in Ninjing, introduce the neighborhood, as Papa takes young Maomao with him to get a haircut. As they venture into the twilight streets, diamond-shaped patterns connect rows of windowpanes lighted from within as dark settles in. The next day, Papa takes Maomao up with him to fix the roof ("Mama never allows me up there alone"), and together they watch a serpentine dragon cross the bridge, gleaming in the sunlight. As Papa lifts Maomao up on his shoulders, they form a perfectly symmetrical father-daughter totem, her scarf picking up on the stripes in his sleeves.

The artist creates these large scenes as skillfully as more intimate close-ups that reveal life within their immediate neighborhood. Four square vignettes fill a page depicting Papa hard at work, as Maomao brings him a mug of warm refreshment. Maomao finds the "fortune coin" in her sticky rice ball, signifying good luck for the New Year. She builds a snowman and has a snowball fight with her friend Dachun in the courtyard. Just when Mamao thinks she's lost her fortune coin, she discovers it on her bedroom floor. But she finds an even better place for it: with Papa. "Next time you're back, we can bury it in the sticky rice ball again!" she says. "Daddy is very quiet. He nods and hugs me tight." The image of Maomao about to place the coin in his hand speaks volumes about the love they share. Gestural brushstrokes portray her head tilted downward, putting on a brave face, while Papa feels both pride in his daughter and sorrow at his parting. A love that will last the whole year through. --Jennifer M. Brown

Shelf Talker: A heartwarming story of homecoming, and about keeping a connection to home even when you're away from it.


Deeper Understanding

Robert Gray: Black Friday Demystified

I won't lie; my first Black Friday as a bookseller scared the hell out of me for a month before it arrived. In 1992, I was just a 42-year-old kid with a crazy dream. I'd been a bookseller for six months and believed nirvana had been attained. Like most rookies, I wanted nothing more from life at that point than to be in the stacks all day, talking with other book lovers about our mutual addiction. Who knew there was a catch?

Shortly after Halloween, however, as if inspired by the ghoulish holiday itself, my colleagues began to spin cautionary tales about the post-Thanksgiving blitz--the crowds, the noise, the complaints, the screaming kids and, sometimes, adults; the crush of bodies, the scattered heaps of browsed and discarded books. Zombies were still a couple of decades away from becoming fashionable, so I imagined an episode of The Twilight Zone as conceived by Stephen King.

"It's bad?" I asked.
"You don’t want to know," the veterans replied, exchanging mirrored glances of suppressed terror.

Prior to my incarnation as a bookseller, in those innocent days before YouTube and mobile phone cameras, BF had been nothing more than a vague concept to me, a headline I saw in the paper or a brief news report of lines outside department stores. I wasn't a shopper, so I had no reason to care--or be afraid--until then.

To allay my fears, I immersed myself in the intensive BF preparations, as walls of new books and key backlist titles piled higher in the backstock area (for those were the ancient times of backstock, a concept we can only imagine now).

I don't recall Thanksgiving Day 1992 because, no doubt, I was paralyzed with trepidation. The next morning, I arrived at the store early and we went through last-minute battle plans: register and lunch schedules, sales floor assignments, pep talks. Then it was time. We opened the doors and unleashed retail demons. As I recall it now, "overwhelming" is a fair description of what happened, but panic somehow blended nicely with adrenaline-laced professionalism to turn the day into an efficient, exhausting and profitable blur. Not scary, as it turned out, but... not quite un-scary either.

In subsequent years, BF would lose much of its anticipatory terror for me. As my responsibilities at the bookstore grew, I worried less about surviving the stampede and more about finding ways to increase the potential for even larger stampedes. I focused on the practical aspects like inventory and weather, and let human nature take its course.

Big-box stores and online options increasingly dominated the scene during the late 1990s and early 21st century, so BF gradually seemed to become less monumental--at best the second busiest day of the year after Christmas Eve, and sometimes not even the busiest day of Thanksgiving weekend.

I'm not a bookseller anymore, and still not much of a shopper, but I do harbor remnants of an odd, nightmarish nostalgia for my first BF. This time of year, I often wonder if the big day has lost its edge for other booksellers. There are so many alternatives now; the concept has been spun and twisted into all sorts of new shapes, sizes and goals. Here's a sampling:

Independent bookstores have Plaid Friday and Small Business Saturday.

Online sellers have Cyber Monday, but are also "offering an arsenal of mobile-only deals intended to pick off shoppers as they wait in line," the New York Times reported. There are, not surprisingly, apps for that.

The Occupy movement is weighing in this year with Occupy Black Friday and Reoccupy Main Street.

I've read about several smaller BF options, too. For example, knowing there would "be no Black Friday sales at Uptown's Borders this year," the Chicago Writers House Project created a pop-up bookstore in the empty building last week and hosted Chicago Book Expo, which featured the works of "more than 40 fiction and poetry presses," as well as readings, live performances and architectural walking tours. I like that.

In spite of the general demystification of bookseller BF, however, I'm sure when Friday morning arrives, I will recall, if only for a moment, that nervous frontline bookseller in 1992 who watched those doors creak open and the book-loving masses attack. Maybe I'll even hear the distant whisper of Rod Serling's voice: "Picture, if you will, an ordinary bookshop...."--Robert Gray (column archives available at Fresh Eyes Now)

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