Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Margaret K. McElderry Books: Vespertine by Margaret Rogerson

Henry Holt & Company: Mihi Ever After (Mihi Ever After #1) by Tae Keller, illustrated by Geraldine Rodríguez

Berkley Books: River Sing Me Home by Eleanor Shearer

Oxford University Press, USA: The World According to Proust by Joshua Landy

Chronicle Chroma: Bob Willoughby: A Cinematic Life by Bob Willoughby

Charlesbridge Publishing: Forever Cousins by Laurel Goodluck, illustrated by Jonathan Nelson

Tor Teen: The Luminaries by Susan Dennard

Quotation of the Day

A 'Talented & Determined Bunch' of New Indie Booksellers

"What accounts for an upsurge in confidence among independent booksellers? In part, it's because of an increase in sales in many of these stores within the last quarter.... But another big reason for optimism is the influx of new stores and new owners into the business, bringing a spark of energy and new ideas. While we still cringe as older stores close their doors, many have taken heart from the talented and determined bunch of booksellers that are now coming into the business.... What these new booksellers see is that in a world awash with unfiltered data and anonymous opinions, readers have an increasing need for a face-to-face, honest relationship with a knowledgeable bookseller who might actually know who they are and what they like to read."

--Bill Petrocelli, co-owner of Book Passage, Corte Madera, Calif., in the Huffington Post


Scribe Us: Our Members Be Unlimited: A Comic about Workers and Their Unions by Sam Wallman


Amazon's Fourth Quarter: Sales Up 'Only' 35%, Stock Drops 9%

Although revenues increased by 35% to $17.4 billion in the fourth quarter ending December 31, Wall Street had expected at least $1 billion more. As a result--and despite net income of $177 million, down 45% but higher than expected--the e-tailer's stock fell 9%, to $177, in after-hours trading yesterday. Investors were spooked, too, by the company's prediction that in the current quarter revenues will be between $12 billion and $13.4 billion, an increase of 22%-36%, but below analysts' consensus of $13.42 billion.

The New York Times noted other reasons for investors' concern about Amazon: a sense that some Internet stocks' phenomenal growth rate will slow, as may be happening with Google; video game sales were "lackluster"; floods in Thailand created supply problems; and "maybe there was a bit of a backlash."

Concerning the backlash, the paper cited Amazon's price-checking app deal in December and noted, "Booksellers, who have long felt themselves in the retailer's cross hairs, were particularly offended. A tentative 'buy local' movement sprang up."

Analysts weighed in with different takes on the company. "With the valuation Amazon is carrying, you got to perform," Colin Gillis of BGC Financial told the Times. "You've got to be like Apple--smash through the numbers people are afraid even to whisper. Instead, they're only making slightly over a penny on every dollar in revenue. That's pathetic in any industry."

On the other hand, Scott Devitt of Morgan Stanley, commented: "The long-term story is very much intact." That story is the company's consistent strategy of emphasizing growth rather than earnings.

In the last year, Amazon has invested heavily in new warehouses, and the number of employees grew 67%, to 56,200 full- and part-time workers. Operating expenses during the year grew 38%, to $17.2 billion.

Flyaway Books: The Coat by Séverine Vidal, illustrated by Louis Thomas

No Amazon Imprints for B&N's Stores

Yesterday, Barnes & Noble announced it will not sell titles published by Amazon's imprints in its bricks-and-mortar stores, but will continue to sell them online. The New York Times reported that the decision "signals clearly that Barnes & Noble has no intention of helping its largest competitor sell books."

"Our decision is based on Amazon's continued push for exclusivity with publishers, agents and the authors they represent," said Jaime Carey, B&N's chief merchandising officer. "These exclusives have prohibited us from offering certain e-books to our customers. Their actions have undermined the industry as a whole and have prevented millions of customers from having access to content. It's clear to us that Amazon has proven they would not be a good publishing partner to Barnes & Noble as they continue to pull content off the market for their own self interest. We don't get many requests for Amazon titles, but If customers wish to buy Amazon titles from us, we will make them available only online at"

PNBA Holiday Catalog 2022

World Book Night Extends Book Giver Deadline

By popular demand, World Book Night in the U.S. is extending the book giver sign up deadline to Monday, February 6, at midnight EST.

Executive director Carl Lennertz said, "We could launch with the givers we have now; every state, city and town are covered extremely well, and the quality of the applications continues to be extraordinarily high." But the more, the merrier.

He added, "I can't express how thoughtful, touching, and generous the book giver applications--and their ideas on where they are going to go in the community--have been."

Current applications are being reviewed and approved, and those book givers will receive an e-mail by the end of the week.

Lennertz emphasized that the extension has nothing to do with "our Super Bowl commercial featuring Craig Popelars playing the ukulele."


RiverRun Bookstore Sets Reopening Date

RiverRun Bookstore will reopen February 10 at its new location at 142 Fleet St. in Portsmouth, N.H., owner Tom Holbrook said on Twitter yesterday.

"I cannot wait!" Holbrook wrote recently on RiverRun's blog. "The new store will be ridiculously beautiful. The folks at The Ben Franklin Block are pulling out the stops to give the space a stylish, historic feel. Yes, the store will be smaller, but it will be cozy, and filled to the brim with the best books we can find."

At the end of December, more than 150 volunteers formed a human chain to assist RiverRun as it vacated its previous location.

Prize Partnership: ABA & Center for Fiction

The American Booksellers Association and the Center for Fiction will partner to promote the seven novels shortlisted for the Center's annual $10,000 Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize. The ABA will select 450 bookstores focused on literary fiction to receive tabletop displays, posters and shelf talkers for the novels. In addition, 50 booksellers will be asked to be first-tier readers for the prize.

"We are honored that a group of ABA-member independent booksellers from throughout the country will serve as first-tier readers for this year's prize, and look forward to working with the Center to develop materials to be used by our member stores to celebrate and feature the books of the finalists for this very worthy award," said ABA CEO Oren Teicher.

Noreen Tomassi, executive director of the Center for Fiction, commented: "We believe that there are no better readers than the people who continue against all seeming odds to own and operate independent bookstores. We are thrilled that we will be working with ABA, an organization we admire so much, to include these booksellers as readers and to feature the shortlisted books at more than 450 stores all across the country."

The award was established in 2005 as the John Sargent, Sr. First Novel Prize, and has been underwritten since 2010 by Center for Fiction board member and writer Nancy Dunnan, who named it in honor of her journalist father, Ray W. Flaherty. In addition to the winner's monetary award, the other shortlisted authors receive $1,000 each. The shortlist will be announced in late summer and the winner named at the Center for Fiction's annual benefit and awards dinner in early December.

Obituary Note: Sam Vaughan

Sam Vaughan, a longtime editor and publisher at Random House and Doubleday, died Monday, the Associated Press reported. He was 83.

"Sam was a giant, a fabulous man, a great leader, and a remarkable and very creative editor," said Kate Medina, Random House executive v-p. "He was magic on the page and in person. His elegance and wonderful humor, his dedication to excellence, his grace in all situations inspired people."


Image of the Day: Chapel Hill's Broadway Baby

Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill, N.C., recently hosted an event for Alan Shapiro, poet and memoirist, whose first novel, Broadway Baby, has been published by Algonquin Books. With Shapiro is author Lee Smith.


Pennie Picks The Snow Child

Pennie Clark Ianniciello, Costco's book buyer, has chosen The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey (Reagan Arthur, $24.99, 9780316175678) as her pick of the month for February. In Costco Connection, which goes to many of the warehouse club's members, she wrote:

"Years ago a friend took me to a quiet spot near Alaska's Mendenhall Glacier that, to this day, I can only describe as a fairyland. I can't count the times the shimmery purple-blue light of that place popped into my mind as I read Eowyn Ivey's The Snow Child. Ivey has found a lovely balance between the harsh realities of life in 1920s Alaska and the lush dreaminess of a fairy tale.

"When a young girl shows up at the cabin of a middle-aged couple, she brings with her an element of magic but also serves to fill the very real void of the children they never had. Arriving with the snow and leaving in the spring, the girl, Faina, is more at ease hunting and roaming snowy hillsides than playing the part of a normal child. Even so, the trio become a family.

"This debut novel serves as a grand reminder of the beauty of winter--and the power of a single wish."


Students Get Indie Bookstore Lesson

Several professors at the University of Georgia are teaching a lesson in the importance of shopping locally by "encouraging students to support local bookstores--and the numbers show it may be working," the Red & Black student newspaper reported, adding that Chris Cuomo, a women's studies and philosophy professor, ordered all of the required readings for this semester's classes at Avid Bookshop, "and she has requested her students to commit to buying at least one of them there."

"I feel like professors have a certain amount of power because we assign these books and students spend a lot of money on their books, and we can help direct these resources toward local businesses rather than to some of the more obvious venues," said Cuomo.

One of her students, Ashley Finch, said she had not known about Avid's existence prior to the professor's recommendation: "I am so glad that our books were there because otherwise, I still might not know about it. I really like the atmosphere of Avid, and I will definitely be going back.”

Avid's owner, Janet Geddis, is happy to welcome them: "What's been really cool is there have been a lot of students who come in who didn't know about this store in particular or they have never been to any bookstore other than a huge chain before. So it's been neat to kind of expose undergrads to this whole other type of bookstore.... It's really, really hard to change your habits. But it's been nice for people to come in, recognize that I'm a UGA alumna, I started this business from scratch and we're completely involved with the UGA and Athens community."

Store photo: Kristy Densmore

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Robert Harris on NPR's Morning Edition

Today on NPR's Fresh Air: Baratunde Thurston, author of How to Be Black (Harper, $24.99, 9780062003218).


Tomorrow morning on NPR's Morning Edition: Robert Harris, author of The Fear Index (Knopf, $25.95, 9780307957931).


Tomorrow on KCRW's Bookworm: Steve Erickson, author of These Dreams of You (Europa Editions, $16, 9781609450632). As the show put it: "Steve Erickson is a great novelist, born and living in Los Angeles. These Dreams of You is set not only in Los Angeles but also in Addis Ababa, Paris, London and Berlin. It's a novel that seeks to find a haven in the midst of our economic despair and our fears of global catastrophe. If the job of a great novel is to render a spiritual picture of its times, this is the novel you should be reading."


Tomorrow on NPR's Diane Rehm Show: John Horgan, author of The End of War (McSweeney's, $22, 9781936365364).

Movies: The Woman in Black and Big Miracle

The Woman in Black, based on the novel by Susan Hill, opens this Friday, February 3. Daniel Radcliffe stars as a lawyer whose latest assignment sends him to a remote village haunted by an angry ghost. A movie tie-in edition is available from Vintage ($14, 9780307745316).


Big Miracle, based on Freeing the Whales by Tom Rose, also opens this Friday. John Krasinski, Drew Barrymore and Ted Danson star in a true story of an international effort to save three whales trapped under the Arctic ice in 1988. St. Martin's Griffin has re-released the book as a tie-in edition with the film's title ($14.99, 9780312625191).

Books & Authors

Awards: DSC Prize for South Asian Literature

Shehan Karunatilaka, a Sri Lankan author who lives in Singapore, won the $50,000 DSC Prize for South Asian Literature for his novel Chinaman. Chair of judges Ira Pande said the jury's choice was unanimous: "The winning title is a brilliant narration of all that is both great and sad about South Asia and in that sense it brings a world to the reader that needs to be seen outside this region. No longer are novelists who write of violence, breakdown of communities and the old way of life able to speak the whole truth about our world.

"The speech rhythms of smaller towns and indigent characters, so seldom seen and heard, are brought alive by a writer who handles character and speech with consummate ease. That world has long needed a suitable metaphor and he has discovered it: Cricket. Set in Sri Lanka, as an epic search for a lost player, Chinaman by Shehan Karunatilake is both a portrait of a lost way of life and a glimpse into the future this vast and vivid region is fated to occupy."

Book Brahmin: Nelle Davy

Nelle Davy's debut novel, The Legacy of Eden (Mira, January 24, 2012), is about three generations of an Iowa farm family ruled by a scheming matriarch. Davy was raised in London in an Anglo-Caribbean family. She attended the University of Warwick, where she studied English Literature with Creative Writing, and then got her master's in Creative Writing at Trinity College, Dublin. She has worked in publishing since then, and is married and still lives in London.

On your nightstand now:

So many books--Jeffrey Eugenides's The Marriage Plot, Jeanette Winterson's Why Be Happy When You Could be Normal, F. Scott Fitzgerald's Tender Is the Night; Josephine Hart's Damage and Sue Monk Kidd's The Secret Life of Bees, to name a few.

Favorite book when you were a child:

Matilda by Roald Dahl. I felt she was me and I waited my whole life to find a Miss Honey, which I did of sorts in my high school English teacher.

Your top five authors:

So, so hard--it feels like choosing children. Daphne Du Maurier, Charlotte Bronte, Tolstoy, Jeffrey Eugenides, Emile Zola.

Book you've faked reading:

Anything by Martin Amis after The Rachel Papers, though I adore Kingsley Amis.

Book you're an evangelist for:

The Secret History. It upsets me to hear any criticism of it. The writing is everything I wish I could exhibit and I am still trying.

Book you've bought for the cover:

The Shadow of the Wind. It was the gold foil, it just reached out at me.

Book that changed your life:

Matilda. It didn't change my life, but it reminded me that words can be powerful, and the world inside books can help us understand the world outside.

Favorite line from a book:

It isn't from a book but a play: "Put a paper lantern over the light." It's from A Streetcar Named Desire. It sums up for me the pain and hope of life, the cruelty as well as the mercy. In life, sometimes it feels like all we can do to is try to shield ourselves, and some people's lanterns are stronger than others'. 

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

Rebecca, Jane Eyre or I Capture the Castle. I wanted to cry when I finished them because I would never be able to read them with the same sense of wonder again.


Book Review

Children's Review: Chomp

Chomp by Carl Hiaasen (Knopf, $16.99 hardcover, 304p., ages 10-up, 9780375868429, March 27, 2012)

This may well be Carl Hiaasen's (Hoot) best book for young people yet. He combines the humor of the backstage workings of a reality show with weightier themes, such as how the young hero's family contends with an economically challenged Florida.

Wahoo Cray's father, Mickey, named the boy for professional wrestler and former Dolphins linebacker Wahoo McDaniel. Wahoo has been the man of the house ever since Mickey, a professional animal wrangler, received a concussion from a frozen iguana that fell from a palm tree during a Florida hard freeze. Wahoo's mother heads to China for two months to teach Mandarin Chinese to businessmen and help pay the family's mortgage while her husband recovers. Meanwhile, Wahoo cleans Alice the alligator's pond and feeds Gary and Gail, their Galápagos tortoises, among other duties. Then Wahoo answers a call from Derek Badger, star of Expedition Survival!, a reality show in which Badger faces fierce animals and venomous snakes in the wilderness. Badger wants to wrestle Alice plus one of the Cray's pythons. Wahoo accepts the $1,000-a-day job.

At least half the fun of the novel derives from the clash between Mickey Cray, a true nature lover, and showboater supreme Badger (whom Mickey often calls "Beaver") while Wahoo tries to smooth things over so they can collect their much-needed cash. After Badger nearly drowns "riding" Alice, doing everything Mickey told him not to do ("Nothing upset his father more than the mistreatment of an animal," Wahoo observes), things get really out of hand when Badger decides he wants to wrestle wild (untamed) creatures in the Everglades and to bring Mickey and Wahoo along. When Mickey discovers one of Wahoo's classmates, Tuna, is being threatened by her alcoholic father, they invite Tuna to come with them, too. The author ratchets up the suspense when Tuna's father tracks them down and behaves as unpredictably as the dangerous animals in the wild.

Hiaasen keeps many balls in the air, then brings them all in for a safe and wholly entertaining landing. He renders his portrayals of the adults as fully as he does the children. While there's plenty of humor at Badger's expense, even the narcissistic reality show host reveals some redeeming qualities--as do the opportunistic store owner in the town where they shoot their episode and the captain of a boat for hire.

Hiaasen's intimate knowledge of Florida coupled with his strong characterizations of both young people and adults have become his trademark. With his compassion for the state's hard-hit citizens and his awe of its natural wonders, he may have outdone himself with this exceptional novel. Readers will wish for more from the memorable Cray family. --Jennifer M. Brown

Shelf TalkerA magnetic father-son team gets drafted for an out-of-control nature reality show episode in Florida in Hiaasen's best book for young people yet.


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