Shelf Awareness for Monday, February 6, 2012

Basic Books: What We Owe the Future by William Macaskill

Citadel Press: Tiny Buddha's Inner Strength Journal: Creative Prompts and Challenges to Help You Get Through Anything by Lori Deschene

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers: The Baby-Changing Station by Rhett Miller, illustrated by Dan Santat

Candlewick Press (MA): The Patron Thief of Bread by Lindsay Eagar

Farrar, Straus and Giroux (Byr): Don't Look Back: A Memoir of War, Survival, and My Journey from Sudan to America by Achut Deng and Keely Hutton

Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers: A Wilderness of Stars by Shea Ernshaw

Mandala Publishing: The Journey: Big Panda and Tiny Dragon by James Norbury

Simon & Schuster: Defend Banned Books

Quotation of the Day


Other Press Edges Beacon Press in Super Bowl XLVI

The 21-17 Super Bowl win by the New York Giants over the New England Patriots last night [editor's note: yes!!!] also clinched a publishing industry win for Other Press, which had an unusual wager with Boston's Beacon Press. The stakes? Whichever publisher's home team lost the game would promote two of the other publisher's titles for a week online. And both presses would promote a giveaway of those two titles, with winners selected at random.
Minutes after the game ended, Beacon Press posted a congratulatory note on its Facebook page: "Looks like we owe some congratulations to Other Press on their Super Bowl wager win. We're looking forward to promoting their books for a week and we hope some of our fans find some new books to love! Now, who wants to talk about some hockey, basketball, or baseball?"
Other Press won with class, noting on Twitter under the hashtag #pubbowl: "Giants win! Thanks to our friends at @BeaconPressBks for making this such fun. We raise this nacho to you & your excellent books!"

Disney-Hyperion: Drizzle, Dreams, and Lovestruck Things by Maya Prasad

#Superbookbowl for the Win

There was another game going on last evening, too. It was the #Superbookbowl on Twitter, started by @MissLiberty, who kicked off with, "Garcia Marquez just sacked Vargas Llosa!" Others immediately chimed in. Some highlights of the game:

@peterdamien: Harper Lee had that brilliant pass in the first quarter, but has remained on the bench for the rest of the game so far.

@AdamBertocci: As a New Yorker, I _should_ support my home team, but I scanned and found a cheaper team on Amazon.

@MissLiberty: Man, George R.R. Martin takes a really long time before he throws the ball.

@allshiny: Looks like Kafka just gave up. He's lying on his back waving his legs in the air...

@CrownPublishing: Flag on the field--Stieg Larsson called for unnecessary roughness

@EmperorFranzen: @jenniferweiner and @jodipicoult are complaining about the coverage NBC is giving the male players. #yawn

@writer_not: Orwell asserts that all quarterbacks are equal, but some are more equal than others.

@MissLiberty: The Authors call a time out--Houellebecq is missing. Wait, hold on--they have located him. He was at the beer cart.

@EvilWylie: "This game is extremely loud and incredibly close." --commentator Jonathan Safran Foer

@jefe23: Book of Eli



G.P. Putnam's Sons: All I Want for Christmas by Maggie Knox

BAM, Indigo Join Amazon Publishing Ban

Books-A-Million and Indigo Books & Music will not carry Amazon Publishing titles in their stores, joining Barnes & Noble in what has now become a three-chain North American ban.

PaidContent reported that B&N's statement last week "appeared predicated on the notion that Amazon would not allow it to sell Nook versions of Amazon Publishing titles. Books-A-Million's motivation is, presumably, the same, though that's unclear. Both chains could change their policies if Amazon allows them to sell its titles as e-books."

Indigo v-p Janet Eger told the Toronto Globe & Mail "Amazon's actions are not in the long-term interests of the reading public or the publishing and book retailing industry, globally. Indigo founder and CEO Heather Reisman has congratulated Barnes & Noble for taking a leadership stance on the matter, and offers kudos."

Amazon and Sales Tax: $53M Due in Ariz.; Extension in Pa.

Arizona has billed Amazon $53 million for uncollected sales taxes. The Tucson Citizen reported that in a filing last week with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Amazon said that the state "issued the assessment covering untaxed transactions from March 1, 2006, through December 31, 2010. The bill includes tax and interest on behalf of the state and certain, unspecified cities. Arizona's sales tax, technically called a 'transaction-privilege' tax, carries a rate of 6.6%."

Amazon said in the filing that it plans to challenge the bill: "We believe that the assessment is without merit and intend to vigorously defend ourselves in this matter."


The Pennsylvania Department of Revenue granted a seven-month extension to Amazon and other online retailers, moving the date on which they will be required to collect sales tax on purchases made by residents from February 1 to September 1. The Revenue Department "estimates that in 2012, the state won't get $380 million in sales and use taxes that it would have been due in e-commerce sales in the state," the Pittsburgh Business Times reported.
"From a technical standpoint [for the e-commerce industry], the February 1 deadline wasn't practical," said spokeswoman Elizabeth Brassell, who added that the department accepted a delay that would still allow sales-tax collections to take effect before the busy holiday season later this year.

Blue Elephant Book Shop Closing

The Blue Elephant Book Shop, Decatur, Ga., is closing. On its website, the store wrote: "It is with enormous sadness that I write to you today to tell you that the book shop will be closing, probably in mid-March. Whether it is because of the economy, e-readers, on-line sales, my own misjudgments, or, as is most likely, all of the above is immaterial. The fact is we are not selling enough books to sustain the business.

"In our four years, we have taken great pleasure in our relationships with old friends and new and hope to continue that in other ways. We appreciate the support so many have given us. Until the doors close, we will continue to offer the same friendly service; and, as always, we're here to talk about books."

Obituary Notes: Robert B. Cohen, Una Mulzac

Robert B. Cohen, who built the Hudson County News Company from a small newspaper distribution company in northern New Jersey into Hudson News, the international airport, train and bus station newsstand and bookstore operator, died last Wednesday. He was 86.

The newsstand business started in the 1970s, when a newsstand Hudson supplied in Newark Airport went bankrupt and the Port Authority invited Cohen to take over the concession.

The first Hudson News kiosk opened at LaGuardia Airport and marked a change from the usual airport newsstands: they had a broad selection, were airy and displayed the entire covers of magazines.

Cohen's son James told the Associated Press (via the Wall Street Journal) that "instead of just a few dozen titles, because we were the distributor, we put up hundreds. We gave people a selection that they would not find anywhere else, titles even from foreign countries, from all over the world. It was all based on the not-so-scientific fact that people really like to read stuff when they go on a plane."

Hudson News has nearly 600 locations in the U.S. and some other countries. Hudson Booksellers, which took over some old Borders airport stores, has 66 stores.

Hudson News is now owned by Dufry, which operates duty-free shops around the world.


Una Mulzac, who owned Liberation Bookstore in Harlem in New York City for more than 40 years, died on January 21. She was 88.

The New York Times had a long obituary, noting that Liberation Bookstore was a fixture in the community. "Her bookstore, born at a time when Harlem was ravaged by crime and heroin, became a neighborhood landmark like the Apollo or Sylvia's restaurant and endured into the era of Starbucks and Old Navy. People came from all over Harlem and beyond to buy books there, whether by well-known authors like James Baldwin and Toni Morrison or by little-known conspiracy theorists."

Mulzac, the Times said, "seldom left the store during business hours except to protest war, racism and police brutality. Occasionally, she was arrested." By 2007, Mulzac's health and the state of the store had declined enough for her family to close the store, whose inventory they donated to Hue-Man Bookstore & Café.

The Times said that Mulzac's "driving ambition was to emulate her father, Hugh N. Mulzac, the first black person to command a ship in the United States merchant marine and a socialist whose political beliefs were investigated in 1960 by the House Committee on Un-American Activities."


Images of the Day: Book Telemarking

Last weekend, Misty Valley Books, Chester, Vt., hosted its 18th annual New Voices weekend. The featured authors were (from l.) Chris Boucher, author of How to Keep Your Volkswagen Alive (Melville House); Betty Shotton, author of Liftoff Leadership (Beaufort Books); Naomi Benaron, author of Running the Rift (Algonquin); Katharine Britton, author of Her Sister's Shadow (Penguin); and Paul Grossman, author of The Sleepwalkers (St. Martin's). Besides reading at the new Vermont Institute of Contemporary Arts and meeting the public at a reception and dinner at the Fullerton Inn, the quartet got a skiing lesson at Grafton Ponds.

Cool Idea of the Day: A Scent for a Book

While writing her upcoming suspense novel The Book of Lost Fragrances, M.J. Rose burned scented candles to keep her "thinking scent," as she put it. To thank Frederick Bouchardy, the perfumer at Joya Studios who had supplied the candles, she sent him an ARC of the book, an international tale of suspense with roots in ancient Egypt and Napoleonic France that will be published in March by Atria. Bouchardy liked the book so much that he paid it the highest honor a perfumer can: he created a perfume based on and named after the perfume that is key to the book.

Called Âmes Soeurs, the Scent of Soulmates, the fragrance will be sold in Henri Bendel in New York beginning next month, but a sample is available now for people who order the book online. The offer ends March 1 and is limited to the U.S. and Canada. Supplies are limited. For more about the offer, click here.

Booksellers who want to give samples to their customers to entice them into the world of the book should write to and give basic information about the store. They will receive several dozen samples, depending on supply.

Already there seems to be a sweet smell of success about this title from the author of The Reincarnationist and 10 other novels: The Book of Lost Fragrances is an Indie Next pick for March and has received glowing reviews from Library Journal and Publishers Weekly, which named it one of the 10 best mystery/thrillers for the spring.

Opening a Bookstore: Paz March Workshop

The next weekly workshop on "Owning a Bookstore: The Business Essentials," co-sponsored by the American Booksellers Association and facilitated by Donna Paz Kaufman and Mark Kaufman of the Bookstore Training Group of Paz & Associates, will take place March 19-23 on Amelia Island, Fla., near Jacksonville. As the organizers note, "There are now more opportunities than ever for an independent bookstore."

Subjects include strategies for making a profit in retail bookselling, best practices for driving sales, achieving efficiencies with a computerized management system, creating a magical sense of place with store design and merchandising, buying and managing inventory and much more. More than 12 trainers, including an ABA officer and a Small Business Administration loan officer, provide in-depth training.

ABA members are eligible for up to a $200 discount. For details, visit or call 800-260-8605.

Media and Movies

Movie Visuals: Being Flynn Photos; Hugo Featurette

Focus Features released photos from Being Flynn, director Paul Weitz's (About A Boy; In Good Company) movie based on Nick Flynn's memoir, and Indiewire noted that while "it's a drag that the title of the novel it's based off of--Another Bullshit Night in Suck City--couldn't stick for the big screen adaptation, things are looking good for Being Flynn." The project, which stars Paul Dano, Robert De Niro, Olivia Thirlby, Julianne Moore, Lili Taylor and Dale Dickey, opens March 2.


A new Hugo featurette, which includes commentary from the creative team and cast members as well as clips from the movie, was released by Paramount, reported. The Oscar-nominated movie is based on The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick.

Media Heat: The Science of Yoga

This morning on the Today Show: Taylor Armstrong, author of Hiding from Reality: My Story of Love, Loss, and Finding the Courage Within (Gallery, $25, 9781451677713). She will also appear on the View and Entertainment Tonight.


This morning on Imus in the Morning: Vince Flynn, author of Kill Shot (Emily Bestler Books/Atria, $27.99, 9781416595205). He will also appear today on Hannity and tomorrow on Fox & Friends, the Glenn Beck ShowSavage Nation and the Laura Ingraham Show.


Today on NPR's Diane Rehm Show: Eric Klinenberg, author of Going Solo: The Extraordinary Rise and Surprising Appeal of Living Alone (Penguin, $27.95, 9781594203220).


Today on NPR's On Point: Toby Lester, author of Da Vinci's Ghost: Genius, Obsession, and How Leonardo Created the World in His Own Image (Free Press, $26.99, 9781439189238).


Today on CBS's the Talk: Suze Orman, author of The Money Class: How to Stand in Your Truth and Create the Future You Deserve (Spiegel & Grau, $16, 9780812982138). She will also appear on the Rosie Show and tomorrow on Tavis Smiley.


Today on Tavis Smiley: Wael Ghonim, author of Revolution 2.0: The Power of the People Is Greater Than the People in Power (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $26, 9780547773988).


Tomorrow morning on Good Morning America: Ali Wentworth, author of Ali in Wonderland: And Other Tall Tales (Harper, $25.99, 9780061998577).


Tomorrow morning on Fox & Friends: Todd Starnes, author of Dispatches from Bitter America: A Gun Toting, Chicken Eating Son of a Baptist's Culture War Stories (B&H Books, $14.99, 9781433672750).


Tomorrow morning on the Today Show: Sarah Colonna, author of Life As I Blow It: Tales of Love, Life & Sex... Not Necessarily in That Order (Villard, $15, 9780345528377).


Tomorrow on NPR's Fresh Air: William J. Broad, author of The Science of Yoga: The Risks and the Rewards (Simon & Schuster, $26, 9781451641424).

Book Review

Review: The Healing

The Healing by Jonathan Odell (Doubleday, $26 hardcover, 9780385534673, February 21, 2012)

The pre-Civil War South is beautifully rendered in Jonathan Odell's The Healing, its sure sense of time and place enhanced by believably drawn characters and their stories. Master Ben Satterfield's plantation has been ravaged by cholera. He refused to have his daughter treated for a "slave disease," so she died, and his opium-addicted wife, Amanda, will make him pay for this omission for the rest of his life. On the day her daughter dies, she takes a newborn slave from its mother, names the girl Granada and, taking vengeance against Ben, keeps her as another pet (alongside a monkey named Daniel Webster). Granada is kept close at hand, dressed in the late daughter's clothes, as the Satterfields become laughingstocks to their friends.

His wife's mental state and another plague sweeping the plantation cause Master Ben to purchase--for the outrageous sum of $5,000--a woman named Polly Shine, reputed to be a healer. He gets much more than he bargained for. Polly is a force of nature. The moment she arrives, she singles out Granada to live with her in the "hospital" Ben has built, insisting that the young girl has "the gift." Granada doesn't want any part of Polly or her hospital, being perfectly happy to dress in silk, dine out of Aunt Sylvie's fine kitchen and enjoy special privileges. Her wishes are not considered; she becomes Polly's shadow, learning to keep still, watch and listen.

Granada, 70 years later, is Gran Gran, and begins recounting past history to calm an abandoned child who has been brought to her care. The power of story looms large as Gran Gran recalls the influence Polly had on the plantation and its white and black occupants. Polly understood freedom and knew that the plantation slaves had no idea of what it meant or how to achieve it. She does, indeed, heal bodies and souls; insists on improved housing and diet for the slaves; and assists at the births of more "stock" for Master Ben. That isn't all she does, though, and the way she accomplishes her ends is at once horrifying, compelling and too clever for words.

Jonathan Odell finds the right words, using the language of the day, its idiom and its music to great advantage in a compelling work that can stand up to The Help in the pantheon of Southern literature. --Valerie Ryan

Shelf Talker: A plantation owner purchases a reputed healer who unexpectedly influences generations of slaves and free people.


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