Shelf Awareness for Monday, April 16, 2012

Simon & Schuster: Fall Cooking With Simon Element

Ace Books: Dungeon Crawler Carl by Matt Dinniman

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers: The Millicent Quibb School of Etiquette for Young Ladies of Mad Science by Kate McKinnon

Annick Press: Bog Myrtle by Sid Sharp

Minotaur Books: Betrayal at Blackthorn Park: A Mystery (Evelyne Redfern #2) by Julia Kelly

Tor Books: Blood of the Old Kings by Sung-Il Kim, Translated by Anton Hur

Del Rey Books: The Book of Elsewhere by Keeanu Reeves and China Miéville

Quotation of the Day

Sales Reps 'Generate the Dialogues that Sell Books'

"There is a belief in Random House, not necessarily documented and perhaps impossible to document, that half of sales come from word of mouth. They are also convinced that their field force is a primary tool to generate the dialogues that sell books.... They encourage blogging and speaking engagements without corporate control of the messaging. In fact, they're quite comfortable if the books their reps talk about aren't all Random House books. This comes from their conviction that their community-building exercises won't be taken seriously if they're seen as shilling for their own stuff. On the other hand, they're sure their own stuff benefits the most.

"And they've invested in supply chain in general, seeing the connection between improving the tech in the reps' hands, the speed of shipment from the warehouse and the development of such capabilities as vendor-managed inventory as worth the effort even in an era when the number of bookstores is getting smaller."

--Mike Shatzkin, head of the Idea Logical Company, on his recent conversation with Jaci Updike, Random House v-p and director, adult sales, about a project the publisher calls "Rep 3.0."


G.P. Putnam's Sons: William by Mason Coile


Justice Department Suit: More Responses, Analyses

One of the most intriguing stories in the days after the Justice Department suit against Apple and five publishers was a CNET piece that maintained the suit "stretches the boundaries of antitrust law and is likely to end in defeat."

Noting that several long-running Justice Department antitrust suits ultimately were dropped--including those against IBM in 1982 and Microsoft in 2001--CNET wrote that Attorney General Holder's "version of events didn't accuse the publishers of agreeing on specific prices. If they agreed on anything, it was on a business model--namely, that the so-called 'agency model' that Apple's iBookstore offered was better than's wholesale model."

CNET continued: "Both Apple and the publishers benefit from a series of U.S. Supreme Court precedents since the 1970s, which the Justice Department would probably like to undo. In the 1979 BMI vs. CBS case, the court ruled that 'not all arrangements among actual or potential competitors that have an impact on price are per se violations.' And in a 2007 case, the court said that manufacturers can enforce minimum retail prices, which is one aspect of what publishers are accused of doing with e-books."

"Strengthening a new competitor against an incumbent hardly sounds like a terrible outcome for consumers," said Geoffrey Manne, who teaches antitrust law at the Lewis and Clark Law School and runs the International Center for Law and Economics. In a similar vein, the Consumer Electronics Association issued a statement saying, "Our ambiguous antitrust laws are now being used to take on a new market entrant of just over two years as if they have the market power to set prices."

One antitrust professor stated that the case against Apple is harder to make than against the publishers because Apple wasn't present at any publisher meetings--where no "smoking gun" has yet surfaced. Still, another professor stated that the publishers never should have met without a lawyer present.


In the New York Times, David Carr called the suit "the modern equivalent of taking on Standard Oil but breaking up Ed's Gas 'N' Groceries on Route 19 instead."


In a story with the title "The Justice Department Just Made Jeff Bezos Dictator-for-Life," the Atlantic posits, "For the next two years, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos will be free to dictate the price of eBooks across much of the publishing industry... Readers will pay less. That's the bright side. The settlement gives Amazon carte blanche to discount the eVersions of popular titles, much as it used to. Of course, that also happens to be the dark side. Because that control over price is going to reinforce the monopoly power of the world's largest online retailer... In the government's telling, their suit is about aging industry incumbents ganging up to undermine an innovative retailer whose consumer-friendly business model threatened their bottom lines.

The Atlantic continued: "If the Justice Department has demonstrated anything through this suit, it's the lawyers there care about what consumers pay. If Amazon eventually used its heft to raise prices, chances are a government attorney would come knocking. But competition isn't only about price. It's about pushing companies to improve their services, or the technology they offer. When it comes to books, it's about ensuring access to ideas. It's certainly about more than just dollars and cents."


Several regional booksellers associations added their comments in letters to their memberships.

New England Independent Booksellers Association president Annie Philbrick of Bank Square Books, Mystic, Conn., wrote, in part, that the association "salutes" Macmillan and Penguin for fighting the Department of Justice lawsuit. "This fight will be long and arduous, not to mention costly, yet, vital to maintain and foster the future of healthy publishing and bookselling. As independent booksellers, we should applaud both the publishers and Apple for standing their ground."

She described the suit as having "rototilled the publishing world's playing field to make it as uneven as possible in order to pave the way for a monopoly to exist.... The decision by the DOJ puts Amazon back on the top tier where they can manipulate the price of e-books, thereby monopolizing the e-book market. The agency model is one that offers consumers the prospect of an open and competitive market for e-books, 'breaking Amazon's monopolistic grip on the publishing industry' and creating a level playing field for everyone, from publishers to Barnes & Noble to our independent bookstores."

New Atlantic Independent Booksellers Association president Lucy Kogler of Talking Leaves, Buffalo, N.Y., discussed a letter about the suit to authors, illustrators and agents from Macmillan CEO John Sargent, writing, "We, independent booksellers and independent thinkers, applaud John Sargent for his bravery; for his intelligence in recognizing the larger issues of Amazon's monopolistic bullying (including a judiciary that recognizes corporations as people); for his honesty--admitting his agonizing over the issue two years ago; and for his solitary standing. He is not a bystander, nor just a witness, but an actor. History is made by such people."

Kogler also thanked "all who are writing letters to the DOJ, who understand the dire consequences of inaction at this moment and are acting to preserve freedom of choice and association."

Harpervia: The Alaska Sanders Affair by Joël Dicker, Translated by Robert Bononno

Pottermore: Virtual Gates Open, Muggles Flood In

The long wait is over for muggles worldwide. On Saturday morning at 8 a.m. BST, officially opened to the public after an extended closed beta testing period, with "the number of Potter fans flocking to the site to register exceeding expectations," the Bookseller reported.

Pottermore CEO Charlie Redmayne said the site had been steadily "on-boarding" fans since the early morning launch, a time chosen to keep initial traffic levels a bit lower: "Most people are still in bed at that time on a Saturday morning, the U.S. is asleep." Nevertheless, the "starting point has been extraordinary," he added.

Redmayne also expressed confidence the site could handle the high level of traffic: "This was a unique challenge: most websites build up users over time. But in the next 24 hours we will have millions of people signing on, and we need to be ready for that." Although the rates of activity were not "anywhere near a level that we are concerned about," he noted that they can stagger the number of users able to log-in if the site starts to become too busy. "We are setting caps, then testing, and then if it is all okay, we'll let more on, and keep growing. It is not just about people trying to get in, but how it is working for those already using the experience."

Audible's Buck-a-Book 'Honorarium' for Authors, Not Publishers, Amazon's digital audiobook company, is launching Audible Author Services, a program that will pay authors $1 per unit sold through, and iTunes from a $20 million fund, and encourage them to promote their work through social media, the Guardian reported. Publishers of the audiobooks will not receive any of these funds.

"We are willing to do this because I think it will grow our sales and the authors' sales," said Donald Katz, Audible's CEO. "The fact is people buy a Neil Gaiman, not a HarperCollins or a Simon & Schuster, so it is for us to connect with the writers and hopefully wake them up to what they can do. If it works, it can become a channel of membership and sales."

PaidContent suggested that Audible "may hope that authors will self-publish their audiobooks through Audible instead of through a traditional publisher. Audiobook rights in publishing contracts are negotiable, so an author does not have to give away those rights to a traditional publisher. Ultimately, of course, Amazon and Audible may hope that authors will simply self-publish their books--in all formats--through Amazon."

Changing Hands May Add Second Location

Changing Hands Bookstore, Tempe, Ariz., may open a second location in uptown Phoenix "if all goes as planned in the next 60 days," New Times reported. Co-owner and general manager Cindy Dach said, "We are extremely hopeful and excited about the possibility of having a second Changing Hands at that location. But at this point there is no way any one of us can say it's a for sure thing."

Last Friday, a Venue Projects offer was accepted by the owner of the building on Third Avenue and Camelback Road that was once a Beef Eaters restaurant, and "both sides now have 60 days for due diligence (i.e. inspections, making sure the numbers work, and that the location will work for the overall vision) before the deal is official," New Times wrote.

Dach added that if the all goes according to plan, Venue Projects will own the building and bring Changing Hands in as a retail partner.

Obituary Note: Joe Houlihan

Joe Houlihan, a past president of the American Booksellers Association and longtime owner of the first Morris Book Shop in Lexington, Ky., died last Wednesday, April 11.

Houlihan, owned and operated the Morris Book Shop from 1946 to 1978, when it closed. He was also v-p of Wallace's Bookstores, the former campus bookstore company, from 1976-1988. The Lexington Herald-Leader has a full obituary.

In 2008, Wyn Morris opened a new Morris Book Shop in Lexington, choosing the name in honor of the old store and out of kismet. (The founders of the old Morris Book Shop were not relatives.) There was another reason: his manager since opening has been Hap Houlihan, Joe Houlihan's great-nephew.

Morris wrote that Joe Houlihan "provided inspiration and encouragement to us as we re-established the Morris Book Shop in 2008. His are huge shoes to fill. He will be missed."


Image of the Day: Coaching Wisdom

Last Thursday, the Hammes Notre Dame Bookstore, South Bend, Ind., hosted an event for Mike Harrity, author of Coaching Wisdom (Sellers Publishing). In the book, Harrity, associate athletics director at the University of Notre Dame, offers a personal look at the motivational styles and winning leadership principles of such leaders as Tony Dungy, Don Shula, Brad Stevens, Lou Holtz, John Wooden, Scotty Bowman, Sue Enquist and others.

Regreturature: San Francisco Authors Dare to Share

Litquake, the "largest indie literary festival in the West" since 1999, and the Grotto, a community of artistic peers who came together in 1996, have grown up together. Recently, they combined forces to present an evening called "Regreturature," in which published writers read works they wrote much earlier in their careers--or before they had careers at all. The evening was one of the periodic events Litquake hosts throughout the year as fundraisers for its main, week-long series held in the fall.

Litquake cofounder Jack Boulware served as master of ceremonies, welcoming the sold-out crowd of about 250 to a Potrero Hill neighborhood meeting place that was equal parts gymnasium and dance hall (with a full bar, of course).

Boulware, author of Gimme Something Better:The Profound Progressive and Occasionally Pointless History of Bay Area Punk Rock from Dead Kennedys to Green Day (Penguin, 2009), dove in first, sharing some of his journal writings as a sophomore at the University of Oregon in 1980. "Will I ever join the mainstream of society?" the young Boulware pondered on the page. "Why does money create such a hassle?" After calling to task the "trendy predictables" on campus, the older Boulware commented: "Whoever wrote this would fucking hate me now."

Mary Roach, bestselling author of Stiff, Spook, Bonk and, most recently, Packing for Mars (Norton), said that her first paid job as a writer was working in public information for the ASPCA. Mostly she followed a script answering animal questions and wrote the occasional "Pet Tips" column for the San Francisco Examiner--sans byline, much to her chagrin at the time.

Taking the stage grasping a yellowed newspaper column, Roach read from "Guppy Love," a column that asked simply, "And why not guppies?" Sure, they are usually bought to feed other fish, she continued, but "their demands are few," Roach continued. With little effort, they'll produce "50 or so" offspring or "guplets"--a term Roach proudly got past her editor. And never mind that they eat their young, which is all part of the "guppy way of life." Drawing in on her 600-word limit, Roach wrapped things up quickly with: "Let's hear it for guppies."

Long before globetrotting writer and photographer Jeff Greenwald penned such books as Shopping for Buddhas and Snake Lake, he wrote poetry. His employer even published his first volume of verse, Amber Fortress: Family Pharmacy Poetry Series Vol. One. He said there were two things to note about the book: there was no Vol. Two, and he discovered a used copy in the bins at Green Apple Books signed, "To Mom and Dad with all my love, Jeff Greenwald."

Greenwald could hardly read his verse about "facing the ocean and the seals" without cracking himself up.

It was to be a common reaction among the Regreturature readers.

Julia Scott, a San Francisco journalist and broadcaster, recalled her young self's obsession with Tom Stoppard, which culminated in her sitting behind the playwright during a performance of one of this plays. Scott never got to speak to Stoppard, but she wrote in her journal: "It's enough to know that I am living in the same lifetime."

In the second half, Katie Crouch, author of Girls in Trucks and Men and Dogs, shared the journal writings of her nine-year-old self. Writing as if for a time capsule--convinced of her pending fame--young Crouch wrote about playing college with her best friend, unrequited love with a boy named Jake ("I will never love again") and envying a girl named Frances whose mother owned a cool clothing store and who had kissed lots of boys. "I only kissed one and he was related to me," she wrote.

Perhaps the greatest act of bravery that evening came when Heather Donahue, author of the memoir Growgirl (Gotham), star of The Blair Witch Project and guest star on It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, shared her "atomic hairdo" photo before reading a short story she wrote the story at 11. "Coping" tells the tragic tale of BFFs Cara and Kim; Cara dies accidentally and Kim falls in love with her therapist, Jordan. Eventually, Jordan and Kim start a teen counseling center and have a daughter--named Cara.

Which just goes to show that, at any age, a happy ending goes a long way. --Bridget Kinsella


Guinevere de la Mare Promoted at Chronicle

Guinevere de la Mare has been promoted to senior community manager in the marketing department at Chronicle Books. She was formerly the community manager and has built Chronicle's social media platforms and developed their voice and profile.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: A.J. Jacobs on NPR's On Point

This morning on the Today Show: Heather Armstrong, author of Dear Daughter: The Best of the Dear Leta Letters (Gallery, $13.99, 9781451661415).


Today on the O'Reilly Factor: Katie Pavlich, author of Fast and Furious: Barack Obama's Bloodiest Scandal and the Shameless Cover-Up (Regnery, $27.95, 9781596983212). She also appears tomorrow on Fox & Friends, Hannity and Lou Dobbs Tonight.


Today on CBS's the Talk: Tori Spelling, author of celebraTORI: Unleashing Your Inner Party Planner to Entertain Friends and Family (Gallery, $25.99, 9781451627909).


Today on MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews: Nancy Gibbs and Michael Duffy, authors of The Presidents Club: Inside the World's Most Exclusive Fraternity (Simon & Schuster, $32.50, 9781439127704).


Today on Tavis Smiley: Cornel West, co-author, along with Smiley himself, of The Rich and the Rest of Us: A Poverty Manifesto (SmileyBooks, $12, 9781401940638).


Today on NPR's On Point: A.J. Jacobs, author of Drop Dead Healthy: One Man's Humble Quest for Bodily Perfection (Simon & Schuster, $26, 9781416599074).


Tomorrow morning on Fox & Friends: Matthew Hutson, author of The 7 Laws of Magical Thinking: How Irrational Beliefs Keep Us Happy, Healthy, and Sane (Hudson Street Press, $25.95, 9781594630873).


Tomorrow morning on the Today Show: Ricki Lake, author of Never Say Never: Finding a Life That Fits (Atria, $25, 9781451627176). She will also appear on the View.


Tomorrow on Jim Bohannon: Kirk Lippold, author of Front Burner: Al Qaeda's Attack on the USS Cole (PublicAffairs, $27.99, 9781610391245).


Tomorrow on NPR's Diane Rehm Show: Leslie Maitland, author of Crossing the Borders of Time: A True Story of War, Exile, and Love Reclaimed (Other Press, $27.95, 9781590514962).


Tomorrow night on the Colbert Report: Jonah Lehrer, author of Imagine: How Creativity Works (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $26, 9780547386072)

Movies: Eye of the Storm; Lucky One; Moth Diaries

The Eye of the Storm, based on the novel by Nobel Prize laureate Patrick White, opens this Friday, April 20. Charlotte Rampling plays a rich Australian widow whose children (Geoffrey Rush and Judy Davis) wait for her to die. A movie tie-in edition is available from Picador ($16, 9780312595326).

The Lucky One, based on the novel by Nicholas Sparks, also opens April 20. Zac Efron stars as an Iraq War veteran searching for the mysterious woman (Taylor Schilling) who was his good luck charm during three combat tours. A tie-in is available from Grand Central ($7.99, 9781455508976).

The Moth Diaries, based on the YA novel by Rachel Klein, has a limited release on April 20. A troubled 16-year-old believes the new arrival at her all-girls boarding school is up to no good.

Together Again: Lehane & DiCaprio

Warner Bros. has "snapped up the rights" and plans to develop Live by Night, Dennis Lehane's upcoming novel (October release from Morrow) as a star vehicle for Leonardo DiCaprio, who previously appeared in a successful adaptation of Lehane's Shutter Island, Inidewire reported, noting that "a synopsis or logline is unavailable, but it's probably safe to say it will be dark and gritty and, if done right, worthy of awards attention when that time rolls around."

Books & Authors

Awards: Minn. Book Awards; Independent Foreign Fiction

Winners of the 2012 Minnesota Book Awards, a joint venture of Friends of the St. Paul Public Library, the St. Paul Public Library and the city of St. Paul, were honored Saturday, the Star Tribune reported. This year's recipients are:

Children's literature: BookSpeak! Poems About Books by Laura Purdie Salas (Clarion/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
General nonfiction: Fool Me Twice: Fighting the Assault on Science in America by Shawn Lawrence Otto (Rodale)
Genre fiction: Big Wheat by Richard A. Thompson (Poisoned Pen Press)
Memoir and creative nonfiction: A Song at Twilight: Of Alzheimer's and Love by Nancy Paddock (Blueroad Press)
Minnesota: Pioneer Modernists: Minnesota's First Generation of Women Artists by Julie L'Enfant (Afton Press)
Novel and short story: The Law of Miracles by Gregory Blake Smith (University of Massachusetts Press)
Poetry: Whorled by Ed Bok Lee (Coffee House Press)
Young people's literature: With or Without You by Brian Farrey (Simon Pulse/S&S)
Readers' choice award: The Tanglewood Terror by Kurtis Scaletta (Knopf)
Kay Sexton Award for outstanding contributions to Minnesota's literary community: Allan Kornblum, founder of Coffee House Press
Book Artist Award: Bridget O'Malley and Amanda Degener of Cave Paper
Hognander Minnesota History Award: Mary Lethert Wingerd for North Country: The Making of Minnesota (University of Minnesota Press)


Finalists have been named for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize, which honors modern writing in translation with a £10,000 (US$15,959) award that is shared equally by the author and translator. The winner will be announced May 14. This year's shortlisted titles are

Blooms of Darkness by Aharon Appelfeld, translated from the Hebrew by Jeffrey M. Green
Alice by Judith Hermann, translated from the German by Margot Bettauer Dembo
From the Mouth of the Whale by Sjón, translated from the Icelandic by Victoria Cribb 
The Prague Cemetery by Umberto Eco, translated from the Italian by Richard Dixon
New Finnish Grammar by Diego Marani, translated from the Italian by Judith Landry
Dream of Ding Village by Yan Lianke, translated from the Chinese by Cindy Carter

IndieBound: Other Indie Favorites

From last week's Indie bestseller lists, available at, here are the recommended titles, which are also Indie Next Great Reads:


The Coldest Night: A Novel of Love & War by Robert Olmstead (Algonquin, $23.95, 9781616200435). "In The Coldest Night, Olmstead tells the story of Henry Childs and his first love, his run from its failure into the brutality of the Korean War, and his scarred return home. Reading Olmstead is like eating a meal put together with a minimum number of ingredients that have lovingly been transformed into something amazing and truly satisfying. Olmstead is an author every lover of words should read, and this new novel is a great place to start." --Lisa Sharp, Nightbird Books, Fayetteville, Ark.

Dust to Dust: A Memoir by Benjamin Busch (Ecco, $26.99, 9780062014849). "In this powerful memoir, Busch muses on life both concrete and abstract. He traces his life--as a boy, a marine, a son, a father, an actor--through a prism of materials: stone, ash, water, blood, and bone. Each chapter is a different view into the same life, taking us deeper and deeper, letting us up to breathe, then pulling us back down to the heart of things. No matter if he's rebuilding a farmhouse in Michigan or training marines in North Carolina, Busch focuses completely on the moment and takes us there, and then connects us back to the wide world. A book to savor, to appreciate, and to be changed by." --Kate Reynolds, Colgate Bookstore, Hamilton, N.Y.


The Sleepy Hollow Family Almanac: A Novel by Kris D'Agostino (Algonquin, $13.95, 9781565129511). "Kris D'Agostino has penned a modern, dysfunctional family classic that tears away the melodrama that is found too often in the genre. The story of the Morettis' triumphs and tragedies is written with such a gritty, raw, visceral style, it leaves the reader shaken. Seldom does a book paint such a bleak picture of modern American home life while still, at its core, such a warm and caring heart and soul. Much like Calvin Moretti as the result of his trials and tribulations, this book will change you in ways you never expected." --Matt Falvey, Next Chapter Bookshop, Mequon, Wis.

For Teen Readers

The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielsen (Scholastic Press, $17.99, 9780545284134). "Led by the intimidating but brilliant Connor, four orphans are forced to compete for the essential role in a treasonous plot--that of impersonating the long-disappeared Prince Jaron of Carthya. Set in the Middle Ages, this tale invites readers to follow 15-year-old Sage, a defiant and witty orphan, through a twisted, dangerous, and all-consuming journey that, if unsuccessful, will result in his death. Full of suspense and dark humor, The False Prince is a compelling read. I look forward to Book Two." --Stephenie McCollum, Copperfield's Books, Santa Rosa, Calif.

[Many thanks to IndieBound and the ABA!]


Book Review

Review: Dirt

Dirt by David Vann (Harper, $25.99 hardcover, 9780062121035, April 24, 2012)

David Vann's debut, Caribou Island, was no literary accident. That beautifully dark novel was both a fully realized tale and a portent of things to come. Vann has experienced both suicide and murder in his immediate family and has said that writing saved him from the pervasive sense of doom that followed him for many years. It is clear he is still exploring vestiges of that darkness and his understanding of what it can do to families. The arrival of Dirt is testament to these truths.

In 1985, Galen lives with his mother, Suzie-Q, in a secluded house surrounded by walnut orchards in a suburb of Sacramento. His Aunt Helen, his mother's sister, and her daughter, Jennifer, visit many afternoons for tea and occasionally all four of them visit Grandma in a nearby nursing home. An idyll? Hardly. These four people are hermetically sealed in a family made so dysfunctional by lies, violence and abuse--physical and emotional--that even basic civility is lost to them.

Galen is 22 with no job, never went to college because he has been told that there is no money, bulimic, virginal and seeking transcendence in whatever new age mantra or practice is available. Jennifer is 17, precocious, a hateful, self-serving sexual tease who tortures the besotted Galen.

Grandma has been shipped off to a nursing home by Galen's mother because she is in the grip of dementia. Once a year, everyone goes to the family cabin near Lake Tahoe and Suzie-Q tries to re-create her Norman Rockwell illusions about family fun--down to Grandma's chicken and dumplings.

This time, it all goes wrong because an event takes place and a revelation is made that changes everyone in a way that cannot be undone. Once back home, Galen and his mother move toward an inevitable conclusion. Galen, crazed and out of control, tries to become one with the dirt, to become "a meditation on dirt." Naked, sweating and threatening, he digs and mounds dirt, wallows in it, making and remaking his world according to Siddhartha's meditation. He has finally internalized the fact that all that holds his family together is hatred and violence; there is no family. The ending will leave you wide-eyed.

Vann has written another sad and compelling account of that place where illusion overtakes reality and where there is no return from delusion laid bare. --Valerie Ryan

Shelf Talker: A young man dead-ended by circumstance and a vicious family loses everything in a single afternoon.


Powered by: Xtenit