Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Flatiron Books: The Last One at the Wedding by Jason Rekulak

Ace Books: Servant of Earth (The Shards of Magic) by Sarah Hawley

Ace Books: Toto by AJ Hackwith and The Village Library Demon-Hunting Society by CM Waggoner

Webtoon Unscrolled: Age Matters Volume Two by Enjelicious

St. Martin's Press:  How to Think Like Socrates: Ancient Philosophy as a Way of Life in the Modern World  by Donald J Robertson

Hanover Square Press: The Dallergut Dream Department Store (Original) by Miye Lee, Translated by Sandy Joosun Lee

Nosy Crow: Dungeon Runners: Hero Trial by Joe Todd-Stanton and Kieran Larwood

Andrews McMeel Publishing: A Haunted Road Atlas: Next Stop: More Chilling and Gruesome Tales from and That's Why We Drink by Christine Schiefer and Em Schulz


Incoming CBA President Now Outgoing President

Lee Trentadue, owner of Galiano Island Books, B.C., and the incoming president of the Canadian Booksellers Association, has stepped down, citing differences with fellow board members. Quillblog reported that Trentadue, who had been serving as CBA's v-p, said her decision "stemmed from the fact that the executive had not been meeting regularly enough, and she felt shut out of several important decisions."

"Basically, I felt for the last year and half that decisions were being made that I had no knowledge of," Trentadue observed. "As an executive of the board and the incoming president I thought that was untenable." She claimed she was "kept in the dark" about CBA's role in consultations with Google regarding its e-bookstore, which launched in Canada earlier this month. Quillblog noted that Trentadue "saw the Google eBookstore as an opportunity for booksellers here to get into the e-book game. She was disappointed when Google's Canadian retail partners were restricted to a conglomerate of campus bookstores and the Prairies-based chain McNally Robinson."

CBA president Mark Lefebvre told Quillblog that the board is scheduled to meet this week to discuss finding Trentadue’s successor.

Farrar, Straus and Giroux: Intermezzo by Sally Rooney

Bank Square Books: Down to Earth Mystic Bookstore

The week before last John Mutter of Shelf Awareness spent two days with New England Independent Booksellers Association executive director Steve Fischer visiting bookstores in Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts. It was a great little working vacation! Here's the first part of a multi-part series reporting on what we saw.

Bank Square Books, Mystic, Conn., catty-corner from the famous Mystic Diner, is nearly 20 years old--and continues to change and evolve. Owned by Annie Philbrick (below l.), who focuses on adult books and does adult title buying, and Patience Banister, who manages the business side, Bank Square Books recently revamped some major sections--in part because of advice given during a NEIBA peer review. (Philbrick is president of NEIBA.) The children's section is now in a discrete area in the back of the store, and cards, which are a popular sideline, have been moved farther back. In addition, shelving was shifted so that a large picture window in the back of the store is no longer blocked; the resulting glow of natural light caused many customers to ask if the store had expanded, Philbrick said.

Despite continuing road construction in downtown Mystic that has sometimes made getting to the store's front door difficult, Bank Square sales have been strong this fall and up 20% in November. The Thanksgiving holiday was a standout--with three days of sales higher than any other three-day period, and sales on Saturday and Sunday at Christmas Eve levels. (A holiday hiatus in construction helped.)

The store has seen more new customers, in part because of the closing of a Borders store in Waterford, 15 miles away, that has been replaced by a Books-A-Million. Bank Square Books talked with the Borders staff and asked them to tell customers about the store. Philbrick also contributed articles to local papers about the situation and Bank Square's ability to fill the breach. "It seems to have worked because we have people coming from all over southeastern Connecticut," Philbrick said, noting that only this week one person came in and said he had been to Books-A-Million but preferred Bank Square Books "even if he had to order his books."

Bank Square Books benefited from the Borders closure in a more concrete way: it bought some of the store's fixtures and has installed them around the store. Signage (see an example below) is charming and handmade.

Fiction takes up a lot of space in Bank Square Books, and sales have remained stable. While science fiction continues to sell, hardcover mystery has dropped. Philbrick speculated that e-reader users "don't want to pay $25" for such titles. Although travel book and map sales have been hurt at many stores because of the Internet, at Bank Square Books, both categories continue to sell well. Maps are particularly popular for international tourists.

The store also sells "a ton of local books," Philbrick said. Among them are titles by Flat Hammock Press, which is located in Mystic, and specializes in nautical nonfiction and coastal culture. A current bestseller is Colors of Mystic published by the Mystic River Historical Society featuring illustrations by Ashley Halsey, a native of the area who is a graphic designer at HarperCollins.

Among strong sidelines are Poetic Earth handmade leather journals; Watermark Bindery's handmade blank books; 3-D bookmarks; Buckyballs magnetic toys; Out of Print T-shirts that features a range of classic books; and Mighty Wallets, which are made out of Tyvek and are water resistant, adjustable and durable.

PM Press: P Is for Palestine: A Palestine Alphabet Book by Golbarg Bashi, Illustrated by Golrokh Nafisi

Author Readings 'No Longer a Reading'

The Wall Street Journal explores what makes the most effective author bookstore appearance.

After seeing too many authors begin to lose audiences as they read from their works, events powerhouse Rainy Day Books, Fairway, Kan., now hosts "only author events that feature a conversation or a minilecture, a PowerPoint presentation or perhaps a slide show, all followed by a question-and-answer session and--at most--the recitation of a paragraph or two from the book to illustrate a point." Rainy Day president Vivien Jennings commented: "I tell publicists 'it's no longer a reading.' "

Other stores, including R.J. Julia, Madison, Conn., McNally Jackson, New York City, the Tenement Museum Shop in New York City, and Boswell Book Co., Milwaukee, Wis., are also promoting conversations and q&a's rather than only readings.

Fahrenheit 451 E-Book: No Kindle Jokes, Please

Risking the inevitable media onslaught of burning--or, more accurately, noncombustible--metaphors, Simon & Schuster released the first e-book edition of Ray Bradbury's classic Fahrenheit 451 yesterday, USA Today reported. The novel has sold 10 million print copies and been translated into 33 languages. Simon & Schuster's Jonathan Karp called the digital venture a "wonderful opportunity" to bring the novel "to new generation of readers and in new formats."


Image of the Day: Occupy Amazon

Thanks to the talents of artist-in-residence Jon Stich, DIESEL bookstore, which has locations in Oakland, Malibu and Brentwood, Calif., has created "Occupy Amazon" buttons and coasters, which it has handed out at recent events.


NPR's Backseat Book Club Picks Breadcrumbs

The December pick for NPR's Backseat Book Club is Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu, published in September by Walden Pond Press ($16.99, 9780062015051). NPR described the book as "written in the form of a modern-day fairytale and appropriately set in the icy and enchanted Minnesota woods... a uniquely fantastical take on childhood growing pains."

As with the club's previous selections, listeners will have one month to read Breadcrumbs and throughout December, children are invited to submit thoughts, comments and questions about the book online or at As the month commences, All Things Considered and club host Michele Norris will lead an interactive discussion between Ursu and her readers.


More 'World's Great Bookshops'

The Huffington Post featured the "World's Great Bookshops" as chosen by Black Tomato, which said, "We love a good book, and we're definitely advocates for keeping traditional books alive and the bookshops in which they live. To inspire you to feel the same we've handpicked our favorite bookshops from around the globe. There are some truly magical bookstores out there, if you just know where to look."

World Book Night U.S. Sets Advisory Council

World Book Night U.S. has created its publishing and bookselling Advisory Council, which is acting as "my sounding board in several areas, especially regarding library and retail matters," executive director Carl Lennertz said. The council is also working to form a 25-person author and celebrity patron list. Its members are:

Elise Cannon, v-p, field sales, Perseus Book Group and Publishers Group West
Amanda Close, v-p, digital channel and marketing development, Random House
Sophie Cottrell, v-p, communications director, Hachette Book Group
Sarah DiFrancesco, director of community relations, Barnes & Noble
Carol Fitzgerald, president and CEO,
Matty Goldberg, v-p, sales and marketing, Perseus Books Group
Dosier Hammond, v-p, director of library sales and marketing, Norton
Ken Holland, v-p, director of field sales, Macmillan
Tina Jordan, v-p, Association of American Publishers
Florrie Kichler, president, Independent Book Publishers Association
Ruth Liebmann, v-p, director of account marketing, Random House
Scott Moyers, v-p and publisher, Penguin
Bruce Nichols, senior v-p, publisher, adult trade, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Mark Nichols, development officer, American Booksellers Association
Liz Perl, senior v-p, marketing, Simon & Schuster
Deb Seager, v-p, director of publicity, Grove/Atlantic
Geoff Shandler, editor in chief, v-p, Little, Brown
Katya Shannon, v-p, field and jobber sales, adult division, Penguin
Wendy Sheanin, director of marketing, adult publishing group, Simon & Schuster
Virginia Stanley, director of library marketing, HarperCollins
George Tattersfield, v-p, merchandising, Ingram Content Group
Karen Torres, v-p, trade sales marketing director/field sales director, Hachette
Jaci Updike, senior v-p, director of adult sales, Random House
Tracy van Straaten, v-p, publicity and education/library marketing, Scholastic
Jeanette Zwart, v-p, sales, HarperCollins

IPM Takes on Choc Lit

Effective January 1, Choc Lit will be represented in North America by International Publishers Marketing.

British publisher Choc Lit was founded in 2009 and specializes in commercial women's fiction. Its authors include Juliet Archer, Christina Courtenay, Margaret James, Jane Lovering, Sue Moorcroft, Christine Stovell and Kate Johnson.

"North America is a key market for our expansion," Choc Lit director Lyn Vernham said. "We already have a loyal following in the USA and constantly receive great reviews."

Jane Graf of IPM said, "The quality of the writing, as well as their high production values, and stunning covers will make Choc Lit stand out as a romantic fiction publisher. Their strong brand and great strapline 'Where heroes are like chocolate--irresistible!' are unique and a strong selling point."

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Richard Branson Arrives on Colbert

Tomorrow on KCRW's Bookworm: Jeffrey Eugenides, author of The Marriage Plot (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $28, 9780374203054). As the show put it: "In his new novel, characters fall in love, marry and quarrel just the way they do in the classic 'marriage' novels from Austen to James. But don't we, as readers, have to fall in love with the characters too? Jeffrey Eugenides describes this as the novel in which he learned to 'do' character, and he tells what he learned."


Tomorrow on NPR's Wait, Wait…Don't Tell Me: Susan Orlean, author of Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend (Simon & Schuster, $26.99, 9781439190135).


Tomorrow on the Ellen DeGeneres Show: Shea Vaughn, author of Shea Vaughn's Breakthrough: The 5 Living Principles to Defeat Stress, Look Great, and Find Total Well-Being (HCI, $16.95, 9780757315930).


Tomorrow night on the Colbert Report: Richard Branson, author of Screw Business As Usual (Portfolio, $26.95, 9781591844341).

Movie Projects: In the Garden of Beasts; London Fields

Universal optioned the movie rights to Erik Larson's In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler's Berlin for Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman to produce through their Playtone Company, with Hanks "eyeing the project as a potential starring vehicle," according to the Hollywood Reporter.

Larson's earlier book, The Devil and the White City, "is in development by Leonardo DiCaprio and his Appian Way shingle," THR noted.


Shekhar Kapur (Elizabeth) will direct London Fields, based on the novel by Martin Amis. The Hollywood Reporter noted that film rights for the book were jointly acquired in 2000 by Tartan Films and Muse Productions, which is headed by Chris Hanley (The Virgin Suicides; American Psycho). Hanley will serve as one of the the film's producers.  

"I am looking forward to this project because I have never directed a murder mystery before," said Kapur.

Books & Authors

Book Brahmin: Joseph Epstein

Joseph Epstein is the author of 22 books, among them Snobbery: The American Version; Friendship: An Expose; the bios Fred Astaire and Alexis de Tocqueville; plus 10 collections of essays and three of stories. He has written for the New Yorker, the Atlantic, Harper's, Commentary and many other magazines. His latest book is Gossip: The Untrivial Pursuit (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, November 29, 2011). He lives in Chicago, where he was born and has lived most of his life.

On your nightstand now:

Three books: The Stories of Sholem Aleichem, High Financier, a Niall Ferguson biography of the German banker Simon Warburg, and Steven Pressfield's Gates of Fire, a splendid historical novel about the Spartans' stand against the Persians at Thermopylae.

Favorite book when you were a child:

John R. Tunis's All-American.

Your top five authors:

Leon Tolstoy, Marcel Proust, Willa Cather, Max Beerbohm and George Santayana.

Book you've faked reading:

When young, these would have been too many to mention. I'm only now beginning to fill in my former fakeries. For a large notable example: I am currently on page 825 of 893 of the Penguin edition of The Brothers Karamazov.

Books you're an evangelist for:

Italo Svevo's Confessions of Zeno, Tomasi di Lampedusa's The Leopard, Arlene Croce's Dancing in the Dark.

Book you've bought for the cover:

The Bible. I say, that's a joke, son.

Book that changed your life:

All great books change my mind, some a little, others a good deal. Having to name one, I would choose Henry James's The Princess Casamassima, which convinced me how secondary, make that tertiary, is the role of politics in the life of a thoughtful man or woman.

Favorite line from a book:

"Knowledge that is acquired under compulsion obtains no hold over the mind." --Plato's The Republic

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

Proust's Remembrance of Things Past.

Surely you realize that you come off as an insufferable highbrow in your answers to these questions.

I do, and I fear that, when it comes to reading, I am an unrepentant one. I prefer to read only serious books, and I reserve my lighter pleasures for the movies and television. I have no wish, for example, to read a detective novel or a thriller, yet I love to watch both in the movies.


Book Review

Children's Review: Looking at Lincoln

Looking at Lincoln by Maira Kalman, illus. by Maira Kalman (Nancy Paulsen/Penguin, $17.99 hardcover, 32p., ages 5-up, 9780399240393, January 5, 2012)

Maira Kalman's (Next Stop Grand Central) gift for choosing the telling detail as a way into her narratives feels especially well suited to a picture-book biography of Abraham Lincoln.

She begins the book in a riot of pink, as a group of people, some walking dogs and all wearing hats, stroll through a park. The narrator is on her way to breakfast when she sees "a very tall man" who "reminded me of someone, but I could not think who." As she pays for her pancakes "with a Lincoln and two Washingtons," she realizes the man she had passed looked just like Abraham Lincoln. Thus begins her quest to learn more about our 16th president. The seeds of this project began with a blog Kalman did for the New York Times, and the crafting of the scenes she has selected, rendered in her signature gouache, make this a moving homage.

One funny illustration shows only Lincoln's legs airborne after he's been kicked in the head by a mule, while the mule looks defiantly out at readers. The scene serves as a transition between his boyhood as a dreamer and reader, and his calling as a man: "He slept for two days. Then he woke up and grew up and decided to be a lawyer." In parentheses, Kalman handwrites the phrase, "(He did like to argue.)" These handlettered phrases differentiate the narrator's reflections from the facts: "I wonder if Mary and Abraham had nicknames for each other. Did she call him Linky? Did he call her Little Plumpy?" she handwrites alongside a picture of the Lincoln family's dinner table.

This is not a comprehensive biography. Kalman mentions the deaths of three of the Lincolns' four sons only in the author's notes at the back. Instead, she zooms in on the kinds of quirky trivia that kids will devour: vanilla cake was Lincoln's favorite, and he always had an apple on his desk--though "he was often too busy thinking to eat"--and with his hat on, Lincoln was seven feet tall. But she also mentions milestone events, such as the president's meetings with Sojourner Truth and Frederick Douglass, as well as his Gettysburg Address.

The cumulative effect of the details Kalman selects delivers an emotional wallop of an ending. The bullet hole in the uniform of one of the first felled Union soldiers, the pistol that delivered the fatal bullet in Lincoln's assassination, the dark blue and gray spread of the riderless horse--the Union and Confederate colors united at last but at the cost of that absent rider. When the narrator escorts us past the capital's cherry trees in full blossom, to the foot of the Lincoln Memorial, and says, "You can look into his beautiful eyes. Just look," children will feel as though they're standing alongside her and that they, too, can see President Lincoln more clearly. A touching and personal tribute. --Jennifer M. Brown

Shelf Talker: Maira Kalman uses telling details--both funny and weighty--to build a moving portrait of Abraham Lincoln.

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