Shelf Awareness for Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Viking: The Bookshop: A History of the American Bookstore by Evan Friss

Pixel+ink: Missy and Mason 1: Missy Wants a Mammoth

Bramble: The Stars Are Dying: Special Edition (Nytefall Trilogy #1) by Chloe C Peñaranda

Blue Box Press: A Soul of Ash and Blood: A Blood and Ash Novel by Jennifer L Armentrout

Charlesbridge Publishing: The Perilous Performance at Milkweed Meadow by Elaine Dimopoulos, Illustrated by Doug Salati

Minotaur Books: The Dark Wives: A Vera Stanhope Novel (Vera Stanhope #11) by Ann Cleeves


Kepler's in Transition

Clark Kepler, longtime owner of Kepler's Books & Magazines, Menlo Park, Calif., founded by his father in 1955, is apparently retiring in the near future, and Kepler's will be restructured, "perhaps as a nonprofit," according to the Almanac News.

In the last month intense discussions have been held by investors and supporters--some of whom helped the store reopen in 2005 after its brief closure--employees and others about "Kepler's potential future as a nonprofit event space/for-profit bookstore hybrid."

In the past seven years Kepler estimated that the store has sold two million books, held 3,000 author events, collected $3 million in sales tax and donated $200,000 to schools and nonprofits. Still, it is barely breaking even.

Kepler told the paper that "after 32 years, I realize I'm not the force to make the necessary changes," and so he sought out Praveen Madan and his wife, Christin Evans, who have owned the Booksmith in San Francisco since 2007, for advice and involvement.

Kepler, the Almanac News wrote, "sounds invigorated by the thought of finding new ways to express his passion for locally owned businesses through channels such as Hometown Peninsula, which he co-founded."

BINC: Do Good All Year - Click to Donate!

Amazon Agrees to Collect Sales Tax in Indiana

Amazon and Indiana have reached an agreement under which the online retailer will begin collecting sales tax on Internet purchases on January 1, 2014, or "90 days from any federal online sales tax legislation that may pass before that time," Reuters reported. The state estimates "uncollected online sales taxes total $75 million a year and, of that, revenue from sales tax remittal by Amazon would be about $20 million to $25 million a year."

In a statement released yesterday, Governor Mitch Daniels said the "only complete answer to this problem is a federal solution that treats all retailers and all states the same. But for now, Amazon has helped us address the largest single piece of the shortfall and we appreciate the company working with us to find a solution."

An Amazon spokeswoman reiterated the company's strong support for federal legislation on the Internet sales tax issue.

GLOW: Milkweed Editions: Becoming Little Shell: Returning Home to the Landless Indians of Montana by Chris La Tray

Barbara's Closes University of Illinois Branch

Barbara's Bookstore, which has 13 locations, has closed its store on the University of Illinois's Chicago campus, the Chicago Tribune reported.

Barbara's co-owner Don Barliant told the paper that the store "never got the traffic that we hoped." Last year, Barbara's closed its longtime store in suburban Oak Park.

The book retailer has opened in a variety of spots that are unusual for most independent book retailers, including O'Hare International Airport, where it has six locations; one in Boston's South Station; and a shop in Macy's--and books in various Macy's nonbook departments.

G.P. Putnam's Sons: Four Weekends and a Funeral by Ellie Palmer

Obituary Note: Dr. Milburn Calhoun

Dr. Milburn Calhoun, a practicing physician and publisher and president of Pelican Publishing Company, Gretna, La., died on Saturday after a lengthy illness. He was 81.

In a tribute, the company wrote, in part: "A lifelong bibliophile, he was a recognized expert on rare books. He founded Bayou Books, an old, rare, and out-of-print book dealer specializing in Louisiana and Southern subjects, and in 1961, he opened a Gretna bookstore by the same name. In 1970, he and family members acquired Pelican Publishing Company, a small New Orleans book publishing company that they relocated to Gretna. Publishing standouts include the blockbuster success of motivational titles such as Zig Ziglar's See You at the Top and the publication of Cajun Night Before Christmas. In addition to spawning Pelican's wildly successful series of more than 30 Night Before Christmas titles and products, the publication of Cajun Night Before Christmas marked the beginning of Pelican's children's book division, which is now the company's largest niche. Other areas of specialty include cookbooks, architecture titles, the Best Editorial Cartoons of the Year Series, works on Southern history and culture, Civil War scholarship, black studies, and books covering every aspect of life in Louisiana."

"We were not a people of means," Dr. Calhoun said once, describing the challenge of purchasing a bankrupt publishing house, "so we did it the old-fashioned way. We published important books that other publishers were not publishing and a large part of the population wanted."


Image of the Day: LAPD and Rice Turn a Page

In an unusual honor, last night Los Angeles Police Department chief Charlie Beck hosted a launch party for Connie Rice, civil rights attorney, activist and second cousin of former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, whose new book is Power Concedes Nothing: One Woman's Quest for Social Justice in America, from the Courtroom to the Kill Zones (Scribner). Through the NAACP's Legal Defense Fun, Rice has sued the LAPD, but nowadays she and the department have a more amicable relationship, particularly in understanding and dealing with gang violence.


Beauty & the Book: Best Bookstore in Texas's UES

Congratulations to Beauty & the Book, Jefferson, Texas, named by County Line magazine the best bookstore of the upper east side of Texas in 2011. County Line wrote: "Billed as the only hair salon/bookstore in the country, it's a magnet of sorts for visiting authors--more than 500 authors and other celebrities have visited the store. It's also the home base for the more than 300 Pulpwood Queen Book Clubs. The bookstore features local and regional books, children's books, beauty and girlfriend books, official Pulpwood Queen and Timber Guy Book Club selections, and owner Kathy Patrick's own book, The Pulpwood Queens' Tiara Wearing, Book Sharing Guide to Life."


For Sale: World's Most Expensive Book

A rare edition of John James Audubon's Birds of America, one of only 120 complete sets in existence, is expected to sell for $10 million during an auction at Christie's in New York City later this month. The Guardian reported that the "new set was bought by the fourth Duke of Portland at some point after 1838 and is in 'excellent' condition."

Richard Davies of AbeBooks said that even though the estimated value of the set is "sky high... [it] is in excellent condition [and] if the record does fall, then no one should be overly surprised because a rare book like this is recession-proof."

Diamond Distributing Valiant

Diamond Comic Distributors has been named exclusive worldwide distributor of comic books and graphic novels for Valiant Entertainment. The agreement includes worldwide distribution rights to the comic book specialty market and to the book market through Diamond Book Distributors.

Valiant comic books feature characters such as X-O Manowar, Bloodshot and Harbinger, among others. The company is launching several new monthly comic book series and later in the year will launch new trade paperbacks and hardcovers.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Jodi Kantor on The Obamas

Tomorrow morning on NPR's Morning Edition: Jodi Kantor, author of The Obamas (Little, Brown, $29.99, 9780316098755).


Tomorrow night on the Late Show with David Letterman: Alan Zweibel, co-author of Lunatics (Putnam, $25.95, 9780399158698).


Tomorrow night on the Daily Show: Senator Jim DeMint, author of Now or Never: Saving America from Economic Collapse (Center Street, $24.99, 9781455511846).


TV: AMC's Comic Book Men Trailers

Comic Book Resources featured a pair of trailers for Kevin Smith's new AMC series Comic Book Men, which premieres February 12. Set in Smith's comic book store Jay and Silent Bob's Secret Stash, Red Bank, N.J., Comic Book Men "shows the exploits of store workers Walter Flanagan, Bryan Johnson, Ming Chen and Mike Zapcic in a geeky version of Pawn Stars that has filmed segments with Smith and Jason Mewes recording podcasts as book ends to the episodes."

Book Review

Review: The Fault in Our Stars

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green (Dutton, $17.99 Hardcover, 336p., ages 14-up, 9780525478812, January 10, 2012)

John Green (Paper Towns; Will Grayson, Will Grayson, with David Levithan) has a gift for creating memorable heroes with intelligence and humor. In his latest novel, he imagines a trio of friends in "the heart of Jesus" in an Indianapolis Episcopal church who connect through a support group of kids in various stages of suffering or recovering from cancer.

This past summer, Green's more than one million Twitter followers and half a million YouTube subscribers helped launch his as-yet-unpublished manuscript to the #1 position on Amazon. They were right to believe in him. This accomplished novel explores life and death, love and loss, and the fullness of experience when one knows it is finite.

Sixteen-year-old Hazel Grace Lancaster, who narrates, was originally diagnosed with thyroid cancer, but now has "mets" in her lungs. She sports a cannula in her nostrils connected to an oxygen tank she wheels around all day, and at night hooks up to a large rectangular oxygen concentrator she's named Philip. Hazel, who was essentially pressured by her parents to attend this support group, finds its one redeeming quality to be Isaac, who has already lost one eye to cancer, and a recurrence has placed his second eye "in mortal peril." One day, a "hot guy" named Augusts Waters comes to the group at Isaac's request. He is in remission after a bout with osteosarcoma that cost him a leg.

The novel overflows with wonderfully funny and poignant moments. Because these young people have had a brush with death, they don't waste time. Augustus tells Hazel she's beautiful; she reminds him of "a millennial Natalie Portman." Then he invites her to his home to see Portman in V for Vendetta. And she goes. Hazel slows things down, suggests they wait to get together again until they've each read the other's favorite book. His is the novelization of a video game; hers is An Imperial Affliction, and she thinks of its author as a friend, so profoundly does he tap into her experience. Their shared literature becomes woven into their common experience. Then Gus takes Hazel on a quest that braids together literature, romance and self-discovery.

Cancer in a child affects the entire family, and Green shows us exactly how. Hazel worries that her parents' lives will be empty when she dies; Gus's parents try to cut tensions with "Encouragements" embroidered on throw pillows. But everything eventually gets aired, sometimes gracefully, sometimes hurtfully. Hazel tries to resist her feelings for Gus because she doesn't want to be a "grenade.... At some point I'm going to blow up and I would like to minimize the casualties," she tells her parents. Green proves through his characters that lasting love requires the risk of losing it. This is not a morbid book. Hazel and Gus invite us to laugh and live life to the fullest for as long as we can. --Jennifer M. Brown

Shelf Talker: John Green's best book to date stars a trio of teens diagnosed with cancer who fill their lives with love and laughter.


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