Shelf Awareness for Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Ten Speed Press: Demystifying Disability: What to Know, What to Say, and How to Be an Ally by Emily Ladau - An approachable guide to being a thoughtful, informed ally to disabled people!

Etch/Clarion Books: The Heist Age, 2 (Dinomighty!) by Doug Paleo, illustrated by Aaron Blecha

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers: The Hawthorne Legacy (The Inheritance Games #2) by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers: Barb the Last Berzerker, 1 by Dan Abdo and Jason Patterson

Red Lightning Books: Centered: Autism, Basketball, and One Athlete's Dreams by Anthony Ianni and Rob Keast

Atheneum Books: Out of My Heart by Sharon M Draper


Myers New National Ambassador for Young People's Literature

Walter Dean Myers is being named today to a two-year term as the national ambassador for young people's literature, the third person to hold the post since it was created in 2008.

Myers described his conception of the position to the New York Times in this way: "I think that what we need to do is say reading is going to really affect your life. You take a black man who doesn't have a job, but you say to him, 'Look, you can make a difference in your child's life, just by reading to him for 30 minutes a day.' That's what I would like to do."

The Times called his appointment "a departure from his predecessors [Jon Scieszka and Katherine Paterson] and is likely to be seen as a bold statement. His books chronicle the lives of many urban teenagers, especially young, poor African-Americans. While his body of work includes poetry, nonfiction and the occasional cheerful picture book for children, its standout books offer themes aimed at young-adult readers: stories of teenagers in violent gangs, soldiers headed to Iraq and juvenile offenders imprisoned for their crimes. While many young-adult authors shy away from such risky subject material, Mr. Myers has used his books to confront the darkness and despair that fill so many children's lives."

Shelf Awareness children's editor Jennifer M. Brown, who was a member of the committee that selected Myers, told the Times, "With Walter's work, he's very responsible about conveying enough to give you a sense of the grittiness, but there's not a lot of graphic violence. With Walter's books, it's much more about the emotional impact of the violence that these kids grow up around. It's not a fantasy."

For more on Myers's latest book, We Are America, illustrated by his son, Christopher Myers, see our Maximum Shelf that was published on March 30 last year.

House of Anansi Press: Speed of Mercy by Christy-Ann Conlin

Holiday Hum: A Jolly Season at Many Indies

With a few exceptions, many independent booksellers had the best holiday season ever--or reported healthy gains in sales compared to the last three years. Among the major reasons for the tidings of joy were an increase in sales to former customers of Borders, whom some stores actively sought out; the buy local movement; and a range of strong titles.

At Bookshop Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, Calif., sales in the holiday period were up 24% over the same period last year, and Friday, December 23, was the store's "best single day in over a decade," owner Casey Coonerty Protti said. Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson--which sold more than 140 copies in the week before Christmas--was the closest to a blowout bestseller at the store, but sales were strong over a wide range of titles and genres. The only problem for the store this year, Protti indicated, was that some print runs apparently were smaller than usual, leading to shortages.

Sales at Bookshop Santa Cruz continued to be strong after Christmas and also rose online, beginning on cyber Monday.

Similarly, at BookTowne, Manasquan, N.J., sales this past December were significantly better than any December since the store opened almost five years ago. Owner Rita Maggio said that "the weather was cooperative, people walked Main Street and bought local." The strong end-of-the-year sales more than balanced out the dismal early quarter at the shore and led to a gain in sales at the store for the full year.

Boswell Book Company, Milwaukee, Wis., had double-digit increases, in part because of the closing of two area Borders stores, according to owner Daniel Goldin. The store's two biggest surprises were two fiction titles, The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach and Death Comes to Pemberley by P.D. James, whose sales were double the fiction bestsellers of the past two years. Other strong sellers included The Tiger's Wife by Tea Obreht, The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes, American Boy by Larry Watson and The Paris Wife by Paula McLain.

Paperback fiction sales were quiet in comparison, although Swamplandia by Karen Russell had a last-minute surge.

History and biography titles, led by Steve Jobs, The Swerve by Stephen Greenblatt and In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson, were strong. Trade paperback nonfiction titles, including The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot, Cleopatra by Stacy Schiff, The Hare with Amber Eyes by Edmund De Waal and The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson, sold at the levels comparable to fiction paperbacks.

In gift books, the store sold out its display of The Louvre and "a few copies" of The Art Museum. Cookbook sales were tepid, led by Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi. In the children's area, Boswell had "late surges" on Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site by Sherri Duskey Rinker and Tom Lichtenheld, I Want My Hat Back by J. Klassen, Mouse & Lion by Rand and Nancy Ekholm Burkert (who lived in Milwaukee many years ago) and Me... Jane by Patrick McDonnell. In addition to titles by Brian Selznick and Jeff Kinney, Boswell's posted strong sales for Wildwood by Colin Meloy. Bear Stays Up for Christmas by Karma Wilson and Jane Chapman was the store's bestselling board book.

Business rose at the Eagle Eye Book Shop, Decatur, Ga., mostly because of more customers "who had not shopped with us before," Doug Robinson reported. The store used e-mail coupons and catalogue coupons to help lure ex-Borders customers. The biggest surprise for Eagle Eye was the very busy Friday, December 23, when many last-minute shoppers came in.

Jan Hall, co-owner of Partners Village Store & Kitchen, Westport, Mass., said that the last two weeks of the year were "especially busy" and the store looks to be "nicely up" in a range of categories, including books, for the year after months of "ups and downs with little rhyme or reason." Sales are up ahead of last year, which set a record.

One discordant note: sales at the Book Frog, Rolling Hills Estates, Calif., which was opened last fall by two former Borders employees, were "not what we expected or hoped for," co-owner Rebecca Glenn reported. Opening just a few weeks before the holiday season began likely hurt the store, and "some of our disappointment probably stemmed from the inevitable comparison between a holiday season in a brand-new 2,700-square-foot store and our previous superstore holiday experiences." Glenn added that the owners' lack of experience as buyers forced them to play catch-up during the season.

Still, the Book Frog owners "learned a lot" and are jumping eagerly into the new year.

Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers: Barb the Last Berzerker, 1 by Dan Abdo and Jason Patterson

'Hopeful for a Reincarnation,' Bodhi Tree Closes

The beginning of a new year signaled the end for Bodhi Tree Bookstore, West Hollywood, Calif., which closed Saturday after 40 years in business. On the shop's website, co-owners Stan Madson and Phil Thompson noted that the "doors are closed and the shelves are empty but our spirit remains alive and vibrant." They "are continuing to talk to people interested in the Bodhi Tree Bookstore legacy. We are hopeful for a reincarnation of a physical store in a few months at a new location."

The Los Angeles Times reported that the co-owners "are in negotiations with a potential buyer of the Bodhi Tree name, its website and database." Madson conceded that they had seen the need to change the business for some years--including the addition of nonbook inventory and live-streaming capacity to expand the audience for Bodhi Tree speakers--but "he wasn't quite comfortable or interested in evolving."

"We're in some sense a little bit hidebound," he said.

Thompson noted that some customers have "have burst into tears" in reaction to the store's demise, while others shared stories of how Bodhi Tree became a life-altering place of refuge for them. "There's happiness and sorrow," he observed. "But with the book world undergoing such change, it feels O.K. to turn it over to newer and more creative minds."

A sale of the store last fall fell apart at the last minute. Madson and Thompson sold the store building several years ago.


Bloomsbury Continuum: Making Nice by Ferdinand Mount

RiverRun Moves with a Little Help from Its Friends

Last Thursday, more than 150 volunteers helped RiverRun Bookstore, Portsmouth, N.H., move out of its Congress Street location and into its new home. reported that the volunteers  "formed a human chain and passed box after box down the line that stretched hundreds of feet down the sidewalk toward the bookstore's new home on Fleet Street. Nearly two dozen volunteers wielding dollies also assisted by ferrying boxes across the street during the roughly 30 minute moving event."

The boxes are being stored in a vacant second floor office until owner Tom Holbrook reopens the bookstore in February in its new location and with additional financial backing.

Holbrook expressed pleasure with the outpouring of community support: "We had eight people sign up to put the books in boxes last night and 20 people actually showed up." 


Literary Locavores: Booksellers As Publishers

Saying that "rather than trimming their sails, a number of independent booksellers are taking a page from Amazon by producing titles themselves," highlighted several bookstore imprints. They include B&B Press, founded by Books & Books, with stores in South Florida, the Cayman Islands and Westhampton Beach, N.Y.; Burning Bush Press, an in-house press that Malaprop's, Asheville, N.C., has revived; and Hub City Books, part of the Hub City Writers Project in Spartanburg, S.C., which also opened a bookstore in 2010.

"The leap into publishing by indies can be seen as the literary equivalent of the locavore movement," Salon wrote. "It not only emphasizes local writers, and local subjects, but also asks residents to support a local business with their dollars."

Mitchell Kaplan of Books & Books explained the simple, effective dynamic: "If someone loves our bookstore, has been coming in for years, understands what we're trying to do, and you can put a great book in their hands that was published by our store, I mean, who's going to say no to that?"

Obituary Note: Simms Taback

Award-winning children's book author and illustrator Simms Taback died December 25, the Los Angeles Times reported. He was 79. Included among his best known works were his 1998 Caldecott Honor Book There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly and his Caldecott Medal-winning adaptation of the Yiddish folk song "Joseph Had a Little Overcoat." Taback was a founding president of the Illustrators Guild in New York City and a founding member and president of the New York Graphic Artists Guild.


Image of the Day: 50 Years of Gibson's Owners

Michael Herrmann, owner of Gibson's Bookstore, Concord, N.H., since 1995, called it a "Festivus miracle": on December 23, his two predecessors were in the store at the same time. Here from l.: Herrmann; Jeff Haight, owner from 1978 to 1994; and Bruce Luneau, owner from 1961 to 1978.


Odyssey Bookshop's 'Third Generation of Customers'

The Odyssey Bookshop, South Hadley, Mass., "offers everything you would expect from an indie store, and more," the Boston Globe wrote in a recent profile of the shop where "book lovers can peruse the shelves to their hearts' content while benefiting from suggestions by the knowledgeable staff."

Emily Crowe, assistant manager and buyer, said, "Everyone who works here, including the owners, spends time on the floor. As a bookseller, it’s important to get to know our customers."  

"We're working with our third generation of customers," added co-owner Joan Grenier. The Globe noted that the first incarnation of the store was started in the late 1950s by her father, Romeo Grenier, as "a pharmacy across from Mount Holyoke College. Unlike most drugstores, it included a bookstore that drew a literary crowd to its soda fountain booths. In 1963, Grenier moved the books to a separate location, and the Odyssey was born."

Matt Parkinson Promoted at Dark Horse

Matt Parkinson has been promoted to senior director of marketing at Dark Horse Comics, a new position. He was formerly director of online marketing and has been at the company for six years.


Media and Movies

Media Heat: Lisa Niemi Swayze's Worth Fighting For

This morning on Good Morning America: Lisa Niemi Swayze, author of Worth Fighting For: Love, Loss, and Moving Forward (Atria, $24, 9781439196359). She is also on Fox & Friends tomorrow morning.


Tonight on a repeat of the Daily Show: Anne Burrell, author of Cook Like a Rock Star: 125 Recipes, Lessons, and Culinary Secrets (Clarkson Potter, $27.99, 9780307886750).


Tonight on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon: Chris Gethard, author of A Bad Idea I'm About to Do: True Tales of Seriously Poor Judgment and Stunningly Awkward Adventure (Da Capo, $16, 9780306820304).


Tomorrow morning on the Today Show: Georgia Pellegrini, author of Girl Hunter: Revolutionizing the Way We Eat, One Hunt at a Time (Da Capo, $24, 9780738214665).


Tomorrow morning on Good Morning America: Bethenny Frankel, author of A Place of Yes: 10 Rules for Getting Everything You Want Out of Life (Touchstone, $16, 9781439186916).


Tomorrow on the View: Lisa Ling, co-author of Somewhere Inside: One Sister's Captivity in North Korea and the Other's Fight to Bring Her Home (Morrow, $15.99, 9780062000682).


Tomorrow night on the Colbert Report: John Heilemann, author of Game Change: Obama and the Clintons, McCain and Palin, and the Race of a Lifetime (Harper, $16.99, 9780061733642).

Movie Visuals: The Paperboy Poster

A "retro art" poster has been released for the film adaptation of Pete Dexter's novel The Paperboy, which is directed by Lee Daniels (Precious). The movie stars Zac Efron, Nicole Kidman, Matthew McConaughey and John Cusack. It is scheduled for a 2012 release, the Hollywood Reporter wrote.

Who’s Who in Stephen King's TV Adaptations

Inspired by A&E's recent miniseries based on Stephen King's novel Bag of Bones, Word & Film compiled a handy guide to the prolific author's TV adaptations, which "have been nearly as frequent and just as variable" as his book-to-film adaptations, "spinning memorable television 'events' out of anything-goes casting and huge (for TV) special-effects budgets."

Books & Authors

Awards: Galaxy Book of the Year; Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry

Caitlin Moran won the Galaxy Book of the Year award for her "semi-autobiographical tome" How to Be a Woman, BBC News reported. Moran bested 10 other Galaxy category winners (Shelf Awareness, November 8, 2011) in a public vote to take the overall prize.


Jo Shapcott was named the latest recipient of the Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry for her body of work, including Of Mutability, which won the Costa book of the year prize in 2011. She was chosen by a committee of "eminent men and women of letters" selected by British poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy, the Guardian reported.

Attainment: New Titles Out This Week

Selected new titles appearing today:

Tina's Mouth: An Existential Comic Diary by Keshni Kashyap and Mari Araki (Houghton Mifflin, $18.95, 9780618945191) is a coming-of-age story about an Indian teenage girl in Southern California.

Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi (HarperCollins, $17.99, 9780062072030) is post-apocalyptic dystopia novel for young adults.

American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History by Chris Kyle, Scott McEwen and Jim DeFelice (Morrow, $26.99, 9780062082350) chronicles the life and career of a distinguished Navy SEAL sniper.

Book Review

Review: Tribulations of the Shortcut Man

Tribulations of the Shortcut Man by P.G. Sturges (Scribner, $24 hardcover, 9781439194218, February 7, 2012)

Dick Henry is again cruising the streets and freeways of Los Angeles in his 1969 Cadillac Coupe de Ville convertible--the metropolis may look sunny and bright to gawking tourists, but it's the darkest shade of seedy to him. P.G. Sturges (The Shortcut Man) has brought back his wily antihero not only by popular demand but because Los Angeles is so inveterately bad that Dick Henry has mountains of work to do to keep his friends out of trouble. And if he has to take a few of shortcuts around the legally sanctioned methods to get the job done, then he's fine with that: he remains the Shortcut Man, and L.A. is a better place for his presence and highly flexible scruples.

This riotous installment involves a pole-dancer, an elderly real estate developer and the unrelenting forces for gentrification of ethnic neighborhoods. The gentrifiers are not above threatening longtime residents with violence if they don't get out fast enough, but they may have pushed around the wrong woman this time. Dick Henry is friends with some of the players in the escalating neighborhood conflict and the nemesis of others.

Los Angeles is a body-conscious town, and the Shortcut Man shares the town's obsession--hot bodies, dead bodies, even filthy bodies flood his field of vision. In some cases, he makes use of those hot bodies, but occasionally he takes a pass, for example when a former child star proposes a business deal while she deftly opens a button of her blouse, flashes some cleavage and asks, "You ever make a love to a movie star, Dick?" In the finest Elmore Leonard tradition, Sturges implies that in the "vast, trashy, depressing, sullen monstrosity that was Los Angeles," former child stars with coke habits and zero bank balances may top the list of the most evil and dangerous.

Troublemakers may be no match for the Shortcut Man, but Dick Henry's women don't come around to his way of thinking so easily. His current on-and-off girlfriend, the glorious, tempestuous Kiyoko--plus two former flames--keeps him on his toes as he learns the value of a really good art forger, a super-size walk-in freezer, fake gas company IDs and, of course, a classic Coupe de Ville convertible. --John McFarland

Shelf Talker: An exuberant, satisfyingly trashy neo-noir set in Los Angeles, where all that glitters is certainly not gold.


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