Shelf Awareness for Friday, December 2, 2011

Simon & Schuster: Fall Cooking With Simon Element

Tor Nightfire: Devils Kill Devils by Johnny Compton

Shadow Mountain: Highcliffe House (Proper Romance Regency) by Megan Walker

Simon & Schuster: Register for the Simon & Schuster Fall Preview!

Avid Reader Press / Simon & Schuster: The Ministry of Time Kaliane Bradley

Quotation of the Day

Future of Print Books: 'You’ll Be Neck Deep in Them'

"Will the e-book kill off the print book? Every time I hear that question, I think about the 'paperless office.' Back in the '80s, the rise of word processors and e-mail convinced a lot of people that paper would vanish. Why print anything when you could simply squirt documents around electronically?

"We all know how that turned out.... When you make something easier to do, people do more of it. Now that every office worker has access to a computer and a printer, every office worker can design and distribute elaborate multicolor birthday flyers and spiral-bound presentations.

" 'Print-on-demand' publishing is about to do the same thing to books. It'll keep them alive--by allowing them to be much weirder.... So don’t worry about the fate of print books. Heck, you'll be neck deep in them."


BINC: Do Good All Year - Click to Donate!


General Retail Sales: November Up, Questions Remain

Although Black Friday reports were generally upbeat, many questions about the holiday shopping season remained unanswered by November's retail sales figures, including how much retailers' profit margins were affected by holiday weekend discounting. Thomson Reuters said sales at stores it tracks rose 3.1%, though this number did not include the Sunday after Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday results.

The Wall Street Journal noted that the holiday shopping season "is going to be a mixed bag for U.S. merchants." For luxury retailers, however, November offered better news. Saks reported a 9.3% rise (6.1% was predicted) and Nordstrom was up 5.6%, a slight gain over the 5% jump analysts had expected.

"Retailers pulled out all stops to attract shoppers and by all accounts they bought a lot, especially for themselves," said Ken Perkins, president of Retail Metrics. "But will they have anything left to spend on gifts in the coming weeks?"

The New York Times reported that "several stores that relied heavily on Black Friday momentum, including Target, Kohl's and J.C. Penney, did worse than analysts had expected." For example, Target was up 1.8% versus a 2.8% prediction. Macy's was an exception to the trend, coming in with a 4.8% gain, ahead of a projected 3.9%.

Craig Johnson of Customer Growth Partners blamed Wal-Mart, noting that Target and Kohl's opened at midnight on Thanksgiving, but Wal-Mart was "more extreme, leaving most of its stores open all day Thanksgiving and starting its holiday discounts at 10 p.m. that night," the Times wrote. Johnson said the tactic "crushed" comparable sales of Wal-Mart's most direct competitors: "Next time around, expect a lot more midnight, if not 10 p.m., Thanksgiving openings."

Graphic Universe (Tm): Hotelitor: Luxury-Class Defense and Hospitality Unit by Josh Hicks

AAP Sales for September: Slight Gain, but Mass Markets Dive

Net sales of books in September rose 0.4% to $1.116 billion as reported by 80 publishers to the Association of American Publishers. The star category again was e-books, whose sales rose 100.9% to $80.3 million. While doubling, the rate of growth was lower than in most previous months.

The biggest category to decline--by far--was mass markets, whose sales fell 54.3% to $31 million.

Net sales for the year to date have fallen 3.6% to $8.171 billion.

Sales by category:





 $80.3 million



 $66.2 million


Higher education

 $459.7 million


Children's/YA hardcovers

 $78.5 million


Downloaded audiobooks

 $7.9 million





Adult paperbacks

 $111.6 million



 $10.4 million


Religious books

 $64 million


University press hardcovers

 $4.4 million


University press paperbacks

 $5.3 million


Children's/YA paperbacks

 $44.7 million


Adult hardcovers

 $148.3 million


Adult mass markets

 $31 million














GLOW: Workman Publishing: Atlas Obscura: Wild Life: An Explorer's Guide to the World's Living Wonders by Cara Giaimo, Joshua Foer, and Atlas Obscura

Pennsylvania to Enforce Online Sales Tax Collection

The Pennsylvania Department of Revenue posted a Sales and Use Tax Bulletin on its website yesterday stating that it will soon begin enforcing sales tax collection "by any remote retailer, including catalogue and online retailers" with a physical presence in the state, the Central Penn Business Journal reported. Amazon has two warehouses in Cumberland County and another in York County.

The bulletin also mentioned "remote seller's affiliates, agents and/or independent contractors provide service(s) within the Commonwealth (including, but not limited to storage, delivery, marketing or soliciting sales) that benefit, support and/or complement the remote seller'’s business activity."

Revenue Secretary Dan Meuser said remote retailers will have a 60-day grace period to determine if they have a physical nexus in Pennsylvania, after which they will be required to obtain a retail license and begin collecting sales taxes.

"We feel we've taken a reasonable approach here," he said, adding that Governor Tom Corbett wanted to move forward with the initiative to treat all businesses fairly, but was not interested in creating new tax law to resolve such issues.

Harpervia: Only Big Bumbum Matters Tomorrow by Damilare Kuku

Amazon International: Kindles for Spain & Italy; Welsh Warehouse

Amazon has launched Spanish and Italian Kindle Stores and is offering its e-reader on and for €99 (about $133). The company also announced that independent authors and publishers can now use Kindle Direct Publishing to make their books available in Spain and Italy.

The Spanish Kindle Store includes more than 22,000 Spanish-language e-books; the Italian Kindle Store has more than 16,000 Italian-language titles.


Describing the visual effect as "lots of boxes and little people," Buzzfeed featured several impressive photographs of an Amazon fulfillment center in Swansea, Wales, "one of the largest Amazon warehouses in the world."

Common Good Books on the Move

Garrison Keillor's Common Good Books, which has been located in the Cathedral Hill neighborhood of St. Paul, Minn., since it opened in 2006, will relocate and "join the Macalester College Bookstore in the Lampert Building, just north of the corner of Grand and Snelling," the Mac Weekly reported. The new store is scheduled to open next April, "following four months and about $1.2 million in renovations to the main-floor space."

"It will give people at Macalester a chance to walk into an establishment where you can just walk around and look at things, you don't really need to buy anything," Keillor said. "You can kind of lean up against a table and page through the first few pages of a book. It's a wonderful thing to handle books and to be curious about what is being written about."

Macalester has not hosted a trade bookstore since 2004, when the college terminated the lease of Ruminator Books, formerly known as the legendary Hungry Mind Bookstore.

"I really loved that bookstore," Keillor said. "You had this feeling when you walked in, that these books on the tables had been chosen by somebody who loves books. Their sensibility might not be just the same as yours but somebody chose these because they loved them."

Martin Schmutterer, Common Good's manager, noted that the shop "has found a large and loyal clientele, and we hope they'll like the new store. The new space is larger and more convenient, and we'll partner with Macalester for more literary events."

Obituary Note: Christa Wolf

Christa Wolf, the author of Divided Heaven, A Model Childhood, Cassandra and The Quest for Christa T., among other works, died yesterday in Berlin. She was 82.

Wolf was considered one of the preeminent living authors of Germany and was both admired for addressing the history and legacies of Germany in the 20th century and severely criticized for living in East Germany, being a member of the ruling Socialist Unity Party and for a brief time being an informal informant to the East German secret police. (No matter that the Stasi found her unhelpful and put her under surveillance for 30 years.)

Wolf "explored the weight of history on ordinary individuals, especially and controversially including her own struggles with the legacy of Nazism and life in a Communist society," the New York Times said. "She wrote about characters, largely women, whose daily lives were deeply colored by the political systems that governed them."

As one indication of her popularity in the two Germanys and reunited Germany, Wolf was in 1963 the winner of the Heinrich Mann Prize, then East Germany's highest literary award, and last year, the Thomas Mann Prize for literature.



Image of the Day: Bitchin' Good Book Event

On Wednesday night at the Booksellers at Laurelwood, Memphis, Tenn., Hillary Jordan spoke and signed copies of When She Woke (Algonquin). Here she appears with the Bluff City Bitches Book Club: (from l.) Allison Daniell, bookseller Ashley Dacus, Hillary Jordan, Raina Burditt, Mollie Baker and Andrea Orians.


'Take Your Child to a Bookstore' Tomorrow

We'd like to remind you that tomorrow is the second annual Take Your Child to a Bookstore Day (Shelf Awareness, November 22, 2011), which will be celebrated by nearly 150 stores in 35 states, along with retailers in Canada, England and Australia.

For example, Mysterious Galaxy, San Diego, Calif., is featuring "display of select titles from the 'ABC Best Books for Children' catalogues. We will also be reading from some of our favorite books for young people, and have some fun treats and give-aways for parents and young readers!"

IndieBound's Mobile Reading App

Customers who purchase e-books through independent booksellers now have a mobile option with the launch of IndieBound Reader for Android, which was developed by Bluefire Productions. The app, currently offered for devices using the Android operating system, will soon be available for iOS devices as well. It can be downloaded from the Android Market or

"With the release of IndieBound Reader, independent bookstores are taking another major step forward as players on the digital stage," said Matt Supko, technology director for the American Booksellers Association. "A year after the launch of Google eBooks, indies have become a vital and fast-growing part of the e-book market, thanks to their creativity, marketing savvy, and knack for matching the customer with the best book for them-print or digital. The IndieBound Reader app gives independent bookstores a home on the most popular mobile devices, making it easier than ever for customers to shop local when they shop digital."

Novelist 'Adopts' Aaron's Books

Inspired by Lisa Tucker's "adoption" of Towne Book Center & Café, Collegeville, Pa. (Shelf Awareness, August 4, 2011), author Susan Gregg Gilmore (The Improper Life of Bezellia Grove; Looking for Salvation at the Dairy Queen) has embarked upon a long distance adoption of Aaron's Books, Lititz, Pa.

Co-owner Sam Droke-Dickinson noted that as "part of her plan to support us from a distance, she has created a three-day writing workshop/retreat, which we'll host at the end of January." Gilmore will team with her former Random House editor Kate Kennedy to present the inaugural Lititz Mid-Winter Writers’ Retreat, which will take place January 30 to February 1, 2012. Aaron's is partnering with the Lititz House Bed & Breakfast for lodging, and a local cafe for some off-site meals.

"I'm thrilled Kate Kennedy is joining us, but I sure would love people to know how wonderful the relationship between an indie owner and reader/writer can be," Gilmore observed. "Sam and Todd and their son, Aaron, have become family. We're bound by books, not blood--possibly a calmer, but no less entertaining relationship! They supported me from the very beginning. They supported Ringgold when the tornadoes hit. And, most importantly, they support their own community every single day. They are my indie heroes--see I can gush on and on about them--so easy to do."


Media and Movies

Media Heat: Susan Orlean on the Today Show

This morning on the Today Show: Susan Orlean, author of Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend (Simon & Schuster, $26.99, 9781439190135).


This morning on Imus in the Morning: Barry Fixler, author of Semper Cool: One Marine's Fond Memories of Vietnam (Exalt Press, $25.95, 9780982518403).


Movie Trailer: War Horse

Noting that "Disney has its work cut out for it turning Steven Spielberg’s old style WWI film War Horse into a holiday family hit," reported that the studio has taken an interesting turn with its latest trailer, "using the high caliber cast of actors to inject a little salesmanship into the film." Adapted from Michael Morpurgo's book, War Horse opens December 25.

Books & Authors

Awards: Grammy Nominees; Guardian First Book; Royal Society Young People's Book

Grammy nominations in the category of Best Spoken Word Album (Includes Poetry, Audio Books & Story Telling) are:

Bossypants by Tina Fey (Hachette Audio)
Fab Fan Memories by the Beatles Bond (Various Artists) (WannaBeats Records)
Hamlet by William Shakespeare, narrated by Dan Donohue and Various Artists--the Oregon Shakespeare Festival (Blackstone Audio)
If You Ask Me (And of Course You Won't) by Betty White (Penguin Audio)
The Mark of Zorro by Val Kilmer and Cast (Blackstone Audio)

Note: in the past year the children's spoken word category has been merged into best children's album. Nominations this year for best children's album apparently don't contain any works based on books.

Grammy winners will be announced on February 12.


Siddhartha Mukherjee's The Emperor of All Maladies won the £10,000 (US$11,671) Guardian First Book Award. The only nonfiction title on the shortlist, the book was praised as "a compelling, accessible book, packed full of facts and anecdotes that you know you will remember and which you immediately want to pass on to someone else."


The creators of How the World Works won the £10,000 Royal Society Young People's Book Prize. Author Christine Dorion, illustrator Beverley Young and designer/paper engineer Andy Mansfield were honored for their book, which the shortlisting panel had said "uses stunning pop-ups and other mechanisms to explain the science of the Earth--covering everything from the hydrological cycle to plate tectonics."

Book Brahmin: Nancy Jensen

Nancy Jensen's first book, Window, a collection of stories and essays, was published by Fleur-de-Lis Press in 2009, and her work has appeared in numerous literary journals. Jensen shares her home with eight rescued cats and her dog Gordy, her partner on a pet therapy team with Pawsibilities Unleashed of Kentucky. When she isn't writing or enjoying the company of her furred family, she teaches at Eastern Kentucky University. Her first novel, The Sisters (St. Martin's Press, November 8, 2011), a family saga that begins in Kentucky in the 1920s, is an Indie Next Great Reads pick for December.

On your nightstand now:

In three corners of my nightstand there are stacks of books--some I've read before, like The Ice Storm by Rick Moody, The Color Purple by Alice Walker, The Reader by Bernhard Schlink, Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro and The Sweet Hereafter by Russell Banks, but which I'm now reading again as candidates for a course I'm teaching called "From Page to Screen." There's a stack of just-bought books that I'm waiting to find time to read, including The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides, The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes, The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach and Blue Nights by Joan Didion. In another stack are books mostly recommended by friends, books I've nibbled at but haven't yet dined on, including Pictures of You by Caroline Leavitt and The Help by Kathryn Stockett. And in the fourth corner? Okay, this is a little embarrassing. The fourth corner is occupied by my own book The Sisters because I'm still not over the thrill of being able to reach out and touch it in the night as proof I'm not dreaming.

Favorite book when you were a child:

Black Beauty by Anna Sewell and all the Black Stallion novels. Horses, horses, horses, horses--even though I'd never been on one. All the stories I wrote in elementary school were about little girls being surprised with the gift of a horse. It wasn't until I was thoroughly grown up, when a friend took me to a local barn because I'd said I wanted to learn to ride, that I really realized how terrifyingly big and powerful they are. Much safer on the page.

Your top five authors:

Can I just say George Bernard Shaw times five? (With apologies to him about including George, a name he detested.) Sometimes I just open any one of the plays, choose a long speech at random, read it for the pure beauty of its rhythms and then read it again for the perfection of its reason. I follow this by reading the answering speech by a character with the opposite viewpoint, who also speaks in beautifully rhythmic reason.

Book you've faked reading:

Moby Dick. I've tried, I really have, but I just can't get past the first few chapters. I've watched every film version ever made, hoping to be convinced I was missing something astonishing that would drive me back to the book, but it hasn't worked. Once I got through my graduate program, I realized faking reading Moby Dick wasn't going to be hard anymore, because when you carry the stamp of "an educated person" with the correct qualifying letters after your name, people just assume you've read it. So now the white whale in the room has been acknowledged and I will stop worrying about it--at least until someone asks me a specific question.

Book you're an evangelist for:

Somewhere along the way I stopped evangelizing for books I love, perhaps partly because I realize that people have such sharply different tastes and partly because I realize that I love certain books deeply because they just happened to arrive in my lap at exactly the right time. So I don't collar people. Still, it secretly breaks my heart when I hear someone hasn't loved--or even liked--Marilynne Robinson's Housekeeping, Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried or George Eliot's Middlemarch.

Book you've bought for the cover:

The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards, because who can help wanting to know what's going on with that ghostly little baby dress?

Book that changed your life:

That has to be Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. After five years of trying to be a happy housewife who was secretly trying to be a writer, I started college at 22. Portrait was on the syllabus for my first literature class, and even though I was about as far as humanly possible from being a Jesuit Irish schoolboy at the turn of the 20th century, everything Stephen Dedalus felt was something I had felt.

Favorite line from a book:

"Now that my ladder's gone,/ I must lie down where all ladders start/ In the foul rag and bone shop of the heart." W.B. Yeats, "The Circus Animals' Desertion." I love this line because it describes exactly what I have to re-teach myself whenever it's time to begin writing something new.

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

Black Beauty--because I've only just realized, in writing this, that it was this book that made me a lover of literature, not just a lover of stories.


Book Review

Review: The World We Found

The World We Found by Thrity Umrigar (Harper, $25.99 hardcover, 9780061938344, January 3, 2012)

Thrity Umrigar (The Space Between Us) has written a compelling story of four women, friends since 1970s university days in Bombay. Their lives have taken very different paths but, despite time and distance, their connection to one another is strong. Thirty years ago, they were filled with revolutionary fervor, hoping to be part of the creation of a New India. The everyday demands of work and family have derailed them as zealots, but have not erased their memories of those heady days and their devotion to each other.

Now, devastating news comes from Armaiti in America to Laleh, still in Bombay. Armaiti is very ill and longs to see the three dear friends she left behind when she married Richard. Laleh gets in touch with Kavita immediately; Nishta is harder to find. Laleh's husband, Adish, was a friend to all the girls, who referred to him as "Mr. Fixit." They admired his easygoing, competent manner, and his help in organizing this trip will become more necessary than ever.

Laleh, always a worrier, blames herself, unreasonably, for Armaiti's illness. Years before, during a protest march, Armaiti suffered a concussion, which Laleh believes she could have prevented, and she thinks it is the cause of Armaiti's terminal illness. Laleh was lured away from the protest by Adish, who lied about her family needing her; while she was sorry to leave, she was secretly glad for an excuse to be safe--this made it easy for her to forgive Adish.

Kavita's 30-year secret is that she has been in love with Armaiti forever. Her current relationship with Ingrid is a happy one--but nothing like her hidden passion for Armaiti. She is, of course, eager to see her again. Plans are made to go to America--but where is Nishta? Laleh calls on her mother and realizes that she and her daughter are estranged, due to Nishta's marriage to a Muslim, Iqbal.

When Laleh finds Nishta, she realizes that her old friend has been changed dramatically by her marriage because Iqbal has become a devout Muslim. Nishta is a prisoner in her home, subject to her mother-in-law and to the strict Islamic ways. How can she get away from Iqbal to visit Armaiti? If she does get away, will she ever return? Her friends and Mr. Fixit conspire to get her to the airport as they rediscover their revolutionary zeal. --Valerie Ryan

Shelf Talker: Three old friends in India are called by a fourth, gravely ill in America, and they must find a way to visit her while there is time.


Deeper Understanding

Robert Gray: Home Is Where the Author Event Is

The traditional "author reading tour" has been attracting bad press for several years now, most recently in the Wall Street Journal, which noted that "what was once reflexive has been rethought by independent bookstores around the country."

As a former bookseller who has seen--and, yes, often endured--countless author readings, I'm as big a fan of creative event alternatives as anyone on the planet, particularly when they factor indies into the mix. Thus, today's story:

Earlier this fall, novelist Katharine Weber told me about a party she had attended to celebrate the publication of John Burnham Schwartz's latest novel, Northwest Corner. Author Dani Shapiro and her husband, filmmaker Michael Marens, hosted the bookish gathering at their Bethlehem, Conn., home.   

"He had read at the nearby Hickory Stick Bookshop that afternoon," Weber recalled. "I couldn't get to the reading, and asked Dani if I should phone Fran Keilty at the store to buy a copy of the book which someone could carry along to her house for me, and Dani told me that Fran would be selling books at the party, no worries."

Keilty said Hickory Stick does four or five such events each year, either host- or author-generated: "We really like author parties as it gives a wonderful opportunity for writer and audience to engage in a much more intimate setting than a traditional booksigning provides."

Walking the fine line between friend and merchant could be unsettling, but Keilty said, "When we do it, for the most part we know the people, so it doesn't feel that uncomfortable. It's a lovely experience. In all cases where we've done it, the major motivation is to honor their friend, the author. It's all about the author."

This wasn't a first for Shapiro: "Last year, when our friend Martha McPhee published her lovely novel Dear Money, it occurred to me that it would be great to celebrate her and at the same time bring people to the Hickory Stick, which is a bookstore I love and very much want to support. Back then, Fran suggested selling books at the party, and I was still very much in the 'old school' mindset of thinking that selling books at book parties was... somehow pushy or tacky. I have so changed my tune about that! This time, for John, when Fran suggested selling books at the party, I was delighted--and honestly it sold a whole bunch more books. I've seen, on my own extended book tour for Devotion, which has lasted almost 19 months now, that so many of the best events have happened in people's homes, or backyards, or in other venues like restaurants or country clubs... with booksellers present, selling books.

"John is a dear friend of ours, and so the idea of throwing a book party for him was the most natural thing in the world. We live in an area that has a literary history, and its fair share of writers and artists, many of whom turned out for the event, and then a whole bunch of our friends and neighbors who are avid readers."

Attendance at Shapiro's "little book party" was a pleasant surprise for Schwartz, who added, "That's Dani for you; she's made a very dynamic and interesting social life for her family in the country. I was just the happy recipient. I have a number of good friends in the area, even a couple of relatives; and Dani knows the lovely owners of the local bookstore quite well, so having them sell books at the house during the party--something which might feel rather awkward at another occasion--felt perfectly comfortable and right. I'm sure that in this particular case the sense of celebration was heightened by the fact that so many writers and artists live in the area, and the abundance of good wine and food certainly helped too. The evening felt remarkably joyous and warm."

Shapiro hopes to continue hosting these events once or twice a year for writer friends: "I just told Meredith Maran, who has a novel [A Theory of Small Earthquakes] coming out in February, that we'd make arrangements with the Hickory Stick and throw her a similar party when she comes to the east coast on her book tour. I feel strongly that we writers should be supporting each other in whatever ways we can. Besides, most writers like a good party!"

Weber noted that during the Schwartz event, "as we watched Fran selling books on the dining table (she also had some of John's backlist in paper), Dani and I chatted about how we both used to think selling books at a book party, especially in someone's home, was tacky. But now? It seems like a very good and necessary thing to do. Because in addition to supporting a fellow author, this is what we can do to support an independent bookseller like Fran and Hickory Stick. It would be a great trend to start, authors hosting events for fellow authors at which independent booksellers are invited to sell books."--Robert Gray (column archives available at Fresh Eyes Now)

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