Shelf Awareness for Thursday, July 21, 2005

Yearling Books: When You Trap a Tiger by Tae Keller

Pantheon Books: Chain Gang All Stars by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah

Scholastic Press: The Guardian Test (Legends of Lotus Island #1) by Christina Soontornvat, illustrated by Kevin Hong

Tor Books: The First Bright Thing by J.R. Dawson


Harry's Magical Touch--In Most Cases

Harry Potter had some coattails but not at all bookstores contacted by Shelf Awareness yesterday. And discounting took some unusual twists.

At Politics & Prose, Washington, D.C., people waiting in the store at the Friday midnight party did some extra shopping, according to children's bookseller Morgan McMillian, and those who did often wound up buying adult titles. Since the midnight party, however, most customers who buy Harry Potter tend not to browse "because they've wanted to get home with the book," she said.


By contrast, Elisabeth Grant-Gibson, owner of Windows: A Bookshop in Monroe, La., sold many children's titles to Harry Potter fans, including copies of Walter the Farting Dog (the store's guerrilla marketing campaign for it includes posters in the bathroom), Artemis Fowl, Sorcery & Cecelia or the Enchanted Chocolate Pot, Spiderwick titles, several pocket-sized journals for children, paperbacks of the earlier Harry Potter books as well as "some good lit to adults." In addition, the store gave as door prizes Cirque du Freak books, "which got some attention going for those."


Anne Roman, spokesperson for Borders Group, which sold more than one million copies of the book over the weekend, said that the company's "experience with this book is similar to the last one, where the average Harry Potter buyer also bought at least one other item, most often an adult trade book."


Harry W. Schwartz Bookshops, Milwaukee, Wis., continues to see a Harry piggyback effect, according to general manager Mary McCarthy. For example, at the Brookfield store, which traditionally does the best with Harry, Tuesday sales were up $2,000 over normal. Harry Potter accounted for $838 of that amount; McCarthy believed the rest was attributable to Harry Potter customers.

McCarthy added that besides the fun of opening a new store in Bay View (Shelf Awareness, July 12) and all the publicity involving Harry Potter events, Schwartz benefited from its decision to sell this Harry Potter at a 30% discount rather than the 40% discount with Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. "We figured we'd make more money but maybe not sell as many copies," McCarthy continued. But through Tuesday, the stores have sold 1,500 more of Harry Potter VI compared to Harry Potter V. "We're happy campers," she added.


The King's English, Salt Lake City, Utah, isn't discounting Harry Potter at all. Co-owner Betsy Burton told a local TV station that despite the fierce price competition, the store sold out its initial shipment of 500 copies. She added that customers indicated they knew they could buy the book more cheaply elsewhere but wanted to support the store in part because "you introduced us to the book."

G.P. Putnam's Sons: The Only Game in Town by Lacie Waldon

Return to Sender: College Bookstore Closing P.O.

The OSU Bookstore, Corvallis, Ore., which has run the only postal substation on campus for more than 30 years, is balking at a new contract with the Postal Service that would require it to pay for new electronic equipment to weigh mail and calculate postage, the Corvallis Gazette-Times reported. As a result, the store, which said that the substation has run at a loss for years already, plans to close the service August 12.

GLOW: Putnam: The Three of Us by Ore Agbaje-Williams

New Title Almost as Hot as Tropic of Cancer

Robin's Bookstore owner Larry Robin had to dig back far--beyond even Harry Potter--to find a comparison for his Philadelphia bookstore's current bestseller, which has sold almost 500 copies in its first two weeks on sale: "I haven't seen a book sell that much since Tropic of Cancer," he said this week.

The book is Black Brothers, Inc.: The Violent Rise and Fall of the Philadelphia Black Mafia (Milo Books, $14.95). Distributed by Consortium, the book got a further boost at Robin's Tuesday night when its author, Sean Patrick Griffin, was, shall we say, mobbed by more than 100 people during an appearance. It's also benefited from several ads in the Philadelphia edition of Metro, the free newspaper handed out each morning around the city.

According to Griffin, a former Philadelphia police officer and now associate professor in the administration of justice at Penn State Abington, the Black Mafia, which began in Philadelphia's ghettos in the late 1960s, was a bloody, little-known crime group whose cover was Black Brothers Inc., an organization that appointed treasurers, "investigators" and enforcers. It became a force in drug dealing, loansharking, numbers racketeering, armed robbery and extortion--and carried out hits for Black Muslims, challenged the real Mafia and cowed at least one local gang.

The Black Mafia was responsible for more than 40 killings, the most chilling of which was the massacre of two adults and five children in Washington, D.C., in 1973, part of a feud between Muslim factions. A police crackdown in the mid-1980s shattered the Black Mafia's strength although its "youth" branch has emerged as a kind of Junior Black Mafia.

Interestingly the book was published by a U.K. publisher, Milo Books, presumably an ocean away from any vindictive, unsavory characters. Milo was founded in 1997 by two former journalists and specializes in publishing well-researched stories by investigative writers and reporters.

Robin said a major reason the book is selling so well is because Robin's is "the only bookstore around to have the book. We were the only bookstore to recognize the potential sale." The situation isn't that different from Tropic of Cancer, he continued. "Forty years ago, we were the Philadelphia test case for the book. While the city asked for an injunction against the sale of it, nobody else carried the book, and we sold 7,000 copies."

Can lightning strike as high as before? "I don't think we'll sell that many copies this time," he stated.

G.P. Putnam's Sons: Love & Other Scams by Philip Ellis

A Toast to Bar and Club Outreach Events!

A Seattle Weekly piece called "Mixing Books and Booze" judges the potency of poetry slams, a literary press confab and an Elliott Bay Book Co. party for Jonathan Safran Foer that were all held at bars, rock clubs or somewhat seedy performance spaces.

The consensus of one and all, perhaps reached toward the end of these evenings, was, sure, that these kinds of "outreach events" find new readers and that literature and alcohol go together nicely, very much thank you.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: John Tesh (and Wife)

Tomorrow the Early Show welcomes John Tesh, host of the John Tesh Radio Show, whose most recent book (with a CD included) is Beyond Red Rocks: Making Your Dreams a Reality (Tyndale House, $16.99, 0842365702). His wife, Connie Selleca, joins him.


Yesterday Fresh Air heard the good about the bad from Steven Johnson, author of Everything Bad Is Good For You: How Today's Popular Culture Is Actually Making Us Smarter (Riverhead, $23.95, 1573223077).

Books & Authors

Norton to Make 9/11 Report Donations

W.W. Norton will donate $600,000 from its profits on The 9/11 Commission Report, the $10 paperback that sold more than one million copies, in equal portions to three programs, according to today's New York Times. The recipients are the Center for Catastrophe Preparedness and Response at New York University; the International Center for Enterprise Preparedness, also at NYU; and the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, part of Johns Hopkins University.

Books by the Bay on the Way

The 10th annual Books by the Bay book festival will be held outdoors this coming Saturday at the Yerba Buena Gardens in San Francisco, Calif. The fair features eight author panels, signings, sales and the participation of 40 Northern California Independent Booksellers Association stores.

A featured speaker is Anne Lamott, who will read from her new book, Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith (Riverhead, $24.95, 1573222992).

Another highlight of the fair is an appearance by Gus Lee, whose China Boy (Plume, $14, 0452271584) is the first pick of the San Francisco One City, One Book program, which will take place in September and October. The novel is about a seven-year-old Chinese immigrant named Kai Ting who grows up in San Francisco's Panhandle in the 1950s.

Several authors making appearances come from the bookselling world:
  • Walter the Giant Storyteller aka Walter Mayes, co-author with Valerie Lewis of Valerie and Walter's Best Books For Children: A Lively, Opinionated Guide (HarperCollins, $17.95, 0060524677).
  • Betsy Burton, author of The King's English: Adventures of an Independent Bookseller (Gibbs Smith, 1586856871, $24.95).

Proceeds from the sale of books in the Signing Tent go to the Books by the Bay Literacy Grants fund, which provides financial support to what organizers call "under the radar" literacy groups and projects.

By the way, Books by the Bay came up with a great name for one of its panels: Breaking Out of the X-Box: Tuning Your Adolescent Into Reading.

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