Shelf Awareness for Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Chronicle Books: Stella & Marigold by Annie Barrows, Illustrated by Sophie Blackall

Poisoned Pen Press: The Boyfriend by Frieda McFadden

St. Martin's Press: Disney High: The Untold Story of the Rise and Fall of Disney Channel's Tween Empire

Running Press Adult: Scam Goddess: Lessons from a Life of Cons, Grifts, and Schemes by Laci Mosley

Graphix: 39 Clues: One False Note (39 Clues Graphic Novel #2) by Gordon Korman, Illustrated by Hannah Templer

Quotation of the Day

No Fiction Pulitzer, but 'LOTS of Great Novels Last Year'

"The 2012 Pulitzer Prize for fiction goes to... nobody. Finalists were Karen Russell, Denis Johnson and David Foster Wallace, and the judges couldn't agree. Luckily, we read LOTS of great novels last year, so stop by if you need a good book recommendation."

--Facebook post yesterday by Green Apple Books & Music, San Francisco, Calif. (More on Pulitzer winners below).


Peachtree: The Littlest Yak: Home Is Where the Herd Is by Lu Fraser, Illustrated by Kate Hindley


Supreme Court to Consider 'Grey Market' Books Case

Describing it as a case that "will have big implications for publishers, retailers, and consumers," paidContent reported that the Supreme Court has agreed to hear an appeal by entrepreneur Supap Kirtsaeng, whose family in Thailand sent him textbooks to resell in the U.S. He reportedly sold $37,000 worth of John Wiley titles and the publisher sued him for copyright infringement in eight textbooks, winning $600,000 in damages.

Kirtsaeng argued that he is protected by the "first sale doctrine--a rule that lets copyright owners exercise their right only the first time an individual book or record is sold. The first sale rule is what allows used book and record stores to do business," paidContent noted, adding that while the doctrine has long been accepted for goods made here, overseas goods raise the question of whether the rule should apply when the first sale took place in another country.

The Wiley case "will shape brand owners' ability to maintain pricing power in the face of so-called 'grey market' goods from overseas," paidContent wrote. The Supreme Court is expected to hear the case this fall.

Booksellers Embrace World Book Night, Part 1

The inaugural World Book Night in the U.S. takes place Monday, April 23. We checked in with booksellers to see how they're gearing up for the nationwide event, during which 25,000 volunteers are giving away 20 books each in their communities. A half a million specially printed copies of 30 titles are being distributed as part of the organization's mission to spread a love of reading and books.

World Book Night was launched in the U.K. in 2011. April 23 commemorates three literary anniversaries: the birth and death of Shakespeare and the death of Miguel Cervantes. It has been designated World Book Day by UNESCO in the two scribes' honor.

An assortment of unopened boxes--adorned with the World Book Night logo and the words "Giver Box" and artfully arranged in a pyramid--has piqued customers' interest at Watermark Books & Café in Wichita, Kan. The prominently placed display "is creating a lot of dialogue in the store," owner Sarah Bagby said. "People are asking what they are."

Inside the boxes are some 2,000 books that will be distributed on April 23, as part of the first World Book Night in the U.S. Watermark Books is one of more than 2,200 bookstores and libraries serving as pickup points for givers to retrieve the tomes they'll be handing out.

Store staffers and other community members are planning to spread the love of reading at a variety of locales, including a VA hospital (The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot), a yogurt shop (Peace Like a River by Leif Enger) and in the parking lot of an aircraft manufacturing company during a shift change (The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri). Bagby chose Patti Smith's Just Kids and is giving away copies in a public plaza outside an arts center and a movie theater. She plans to be there to talk up the rocker's "inspiring" memoir at a time when classes at the arts center let out.

Every year during the holidays, Watermark Books partners with a private preschool to provide each of the underprivileged children it serves with a new hardcover book. Now it's their parents' turn to receive some reading material. Moms and dads will get Q Is for Quarry by Sue Grafton and Kindred by Octavia Butler when they drop off or pick up their kids. Among the other World Book Night participants are Wichita's finest. Police officers on beat patrols plan to give Michael Connelly's Blood Work to people along their routes as goodwill gestures.

Regular editions of the 30 World Book Night–designated titles are prominently placed at Watermark Books, and the increased visibility is translating into sales. Another store that also has seen an upsurge on those books is UConn Co-op in Storrs, Conn., where the selections are featured on a table display along with signage about World Book Night.

Givers are invited to a gathering tomorrow evening at UConn Co-op's cafe to mingle and chat about the places where they've decided to hand out Suzanne Collins's The Hunger Games, Kate DiCamillo's Because of Winn-Dixie, Robert Goolrick's A Reliable Wife, Barbara Kingsolver's The Poisonwood Bible and other page-turners. Folks at a VA hospital, a soup kitchen and a women and children's shelter are some of those who will be on the receiving end. So will residents of nearby Willimantic, an economically hard hit mill town where Suzy Staubach, the store's manager of general books, is handing out Sherman Alexie's The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian.

More than 750 bookstores and libraries are hosting pre-World Book Night gatherings. Blue Willow Bookshop in Houston, Tex., is teaming up with Houston Public Media at an off-site event tonight that is both a reception for givers and a celebration of literacy. Andrea White, former First Lady of Houston and the author of four sci-fi novels for young readers, is hosting the soirée, and news reporter Edel Howlin is moderating a panel of literacy experts from the Houston Public Libraries and other organizations.

At Unabridged Bookstore in Chicago, Ill., local writers Richard Fox, Bryan Gruley, Jacqueline Edelberg, Keir Graff, Anne Elizabeth Moore and Patrick Somerville are headlining a party this Friday, April 20, and will be reading from their favorite titles on the World Book Night list. Givers received personal invites to the get-together, which is open to the public.

Buyer Stefan Moorehead was inspired to have the store participate in World Book Night after hearing U.S. executive director Carl Lennertz give a presentation about the initiative at the ABA's Winter Institute. "He's so energetic," said Moorehead. "The more he talked about it and explained what it was about and everything that he was doing, it was like, wow. We definitely need to be a part of this."

Moorehead used Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr to promote World Book Night and sign on givers, who will be gifting people with Bel Canto and other titles. The second most popular choice among the store's givers is The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, edged out slightly by Dave Eggers's Zeitoun. --Shannon McKenna Schmidt

photo of boxes at Anderson's by


Ruckus Reader: E-Reading Platform for Kids

Yesterday, Ruckus Media launched the Ruckus Reader, an e-reading platform that "provides e-bookshelves within book apps that expose readers to additional book apps before and after engaging in reading," Digital Book World reported, adding: "What makes the Ruckus technology different is that once the user is inside one of the book apps, they are being exposed to other free and paid content that they can download with just a few taps--even content produced by rival brands."

According to Ruckus, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt is the first major children's book publisher to sign on to the new technology, though "several more such partnerships will be announced in the next 30-to-60 days."

"You're always a couple of taps away from our library in the ecosystem and that's where you can check out all the different branded content," said Ruckus CEO Jason Root.

DBW also noted that in "the more enhanced book apps (15 out of the 40 pieces of intellectual property that Ruckus is launching with), all of those taps and swipes are tracked and reports about reading comprehension and other educational metrics are sent to parents and teachers."

Obituary Note: Lewis Nordan

Lewis Nordan, "a Mississippi-born writer whose fiction conjures a dreamlike world that straddles the whisker-thin margin between a legend and a lie, but whose best-known novel [Wolf Whistle] was based on a historical murder of national import," died last weekend. He was 72.

"Nordan's cult following began with Algonquin's staff in 1991 when we published Buddy's first novel, Music of the Swamp," said Elisabeth Scharlatt, publisher, Algonquin Books. "The critical acclaim for his work has been very satisfying--and especially to see that work translated into other languages from Greek to Czech to German, French, and Norwegian. I'm happy to be able to ensure that new generations of readers will continue to discover him."

G.L.O.W. - Galley Love of the Week
Be the first to have an advance copy!
Seriously HAPPY:
10 life-changing philosophy lessons from Stoicism to Zen to supercharge your mindset
by Ben Aldridge
illus. by Michelle Brackenborough
GLOW: Holler: Seriously HAPPY: 10 Life-Changing Philosophy Lessons from Stoicism to Zen to Supercharge Your Mindset by Ben Aldridge

Mental health matters are unpacked through philosophy and quirky challenges in Ben Aldridge's uplifting first YA title, Seriously HAPPY, which mixes personal stories and synopses of teachings from OG philosophers. Alongside Aristotle and Socrates, Aldridge includes insights from lesser-known great minds like Bao Gu, a female Chinese Taoist physician, and Nigerian philosopher Orunmila, to show readers how to be confident, decisive, and resilient. Aldridge personally "employed Stoicism and other philosophies as key strategies in overcoming severe and debilitating anxiety and panic attacks as a young man," says Holler publisher Debbie Foy, adding that Aldridge's conversational tone makes the subject matter accessible and inviting to a young adult audience. "He is clear that everyone deserves happiness in their lives but what constitutes 'happiness' is different for all of us." --Rachel Werner

(Holler, $12.99 Hardcover, ages 12-up, 9780711297807, 
September 3, 2024)


Shelf vetted, publisher supported


Images of the Day: Siberia in London

At the London Book Fair, in the very last row of the convention center at Earl's Court, beyond even foreign publishers, Amazon Publishing has a spacious stand, where v-p and publisher Larry Kirshbaum (photo right, c.) is holding meetings.


The fair's market focus this year is China; at one of its stands, this calligrapher drew large crowds and, because of technological incompatibility, was one of the few attendees not feeling threatened by Amazon.



The Book Tour: 9 Authors & Publicists Weigh In

"Go to your basic reading and sit in the back row, where if you squint, you will see above the head of almost everyone involved--the writer(s)/reader(s), the audience, the publicist, the bookseller, the sales clerk(s) who set up the chairs and must wait around to take them down before heading out to an indie-rock show, the local reporter doing a trend piece on the decline of readings--a clump of thought bubbles bumping up against each other like trapped balloons, all imprinted with slight variations of the same theme, namely: 'Why are we here?' "

That said, the Awl asked nine writers and publicists to share their experiences and advice about book tours. Participants included authors Shane Jones, Laurie Weeks, Charles Yu, Tao Lin, Sheila McClear, Jon Michaud and Matthew Gallaway; publicists Lauren Cerand and Brian Ulicky; and event organizer Jennie Portnof.

A 'Quirky' Reason to Love Portland: Reading Frenzy

Among the Huffington Post's "six quirky reasons to fall in love with Portland" is Reading Frenzy: "As much as you gotta love Powell's City of Books, the largest independent bookstore in the world, Portland has an even quirkier bookstore just a block away from the 1.6-acre original. Started in 1994 in the office of an auto body shop, Reading Frenzy specializes in self-published and independent books, comics and graphic novels. It also offers workshops for aspiring artists and publishers, particularly in the anarchist and social commentary vein, as well as art openings, the first being Dishwasher Pete's collection of macaroni and cheese boxes, and its own Show & Tell Press."

Cool Idea of the Day: The Five Colleges Book Sale

Wired's GeekDad blog lauded "the mother of all book sales in the Northeast," the annual Five Colleges Book Sale at Lebanon High School in New Hampshire. Run by more than 300 volunteers and featuring up to 40,000 books, the sale generates proceeds that "go to scholarships for students in New Hampshire and Vermont who plan on attending one of five colleges: Mt. Holyoke, Simmons, Smith, Vassar, or Wellesley." This year's sale is scheduled for April 21 and 22. "Every year for the past several years we have made the two and a half hour trip, on Sunday for the half price sale, and come back loaded down with treasures."

Stylus Agent for FAO Publications

Stylus Publishing has become agent in North and South America for FAO Publications, part of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, which publishes more than 300 titles a year.


Media and Movies

Media Heat: Vanessa Williams on the View

Tomorrow on the View: Vanessa Williams, author of You Have No Idea: A Famous Daughter, Her No-nonsense Mother, and How They Survived Pageants, Hollywood, Love, Loss (and Each Other) (Gotham, $28, 9781592407071).


Tomorrow on NPR's Diane Rehm Show, readers review The Awakening by Kate Chopin.


Tomorrow on Access Hollywood Live: Tori Spelling, author of celebraTORI: Unleashing Your Inner Party Planner to Entertain Friends and Family (Gallery, $25.99, 9781451627909).


Tomorrow night on CNN's Piers Morgan Tonight: Ricki Lake, author of Never Say Never: Finding a Life That Fits (Atria, $25, 9781451627176).


Tomorrow night on a repeat of the Late Show with David Letterman: Gail Collins, author of William Henry Harrison (Times, $23, 9780805091182).

Movie Tie-Ins: HMH Inks Hobbit Book Deal

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt has acquired U.S. publishing rights from HarperCollins UK, through a licensing agreement with Warner Bros. Consumer Products, for tie-in books to Peter Jackson's upcoming films The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (opening December 14) and The Hobbit: There and Back Again (opening December 13, 2013).

The multi-book deal includes five titles to be released this November: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Visual Companion by Jude Fisher; The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Official Movie Guide by Brian Sibley; The World of the Hobbits; The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Almanac; and The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Photo Storybook.

On Stage: Stephen King's New Musical Premieres

Stephen King's first theatrical venture, a musical titled Ghost Brothers of Darkland County, held its world premiere last week at the Alliance Theatre in Atlanta, the Telegraph reported. The production, which features music and lyrics from John Mellencamp and musical direction by T Bone Burnett, runs through May 13.

"I wanted to try something that was a little bit risky and something that was outside my comfort zone," said King. "We are way out there. We are risking our necks on this. For this show, we wanted a place that was cosmopolitan but not out of touch with country roots, and Atlanta looked to me like the middle of the bullseye."

A Ghost Brothers of Darkland County album, produced by Burnett, will be released later this year, with tracks by Elvis Costello, Kris Kristofferson, Sheryl Crow, Taj Mahal and Rosanne Cash.

Books & Authors

Awards: Pulitzer Winners; Orange Prize Shortlist

For the first time since 1977, there was no fiction winner among the Pulitzer Prizes awarded yesterday in the letters and drama category. Fiction finalists were Train Dreams by Denis Johnson, Swamplandia! by Karen Russell and The Pale King by the late David Foster Wallace. The fiction jurors were chair Susan Larson, former book editor for the Times-Picayune; Maureen Corrigan, book critic for NPR's Fresh Air; and author Michael Cunningham. A majority of votes is required from the board--consisting of 18 voting members--but they could not agree on a winner.

Jordan Pavlin, the editor of Swamplandia! for Knopf, told the New York Times that when she first heard the novel was a finalist, "I was so thrilled for Karen. Then my second response was, what a shame, because the committee had it within their power to do something so wonderful for any one of those novelists. And they, for whatever reason, chose not to."

Farrar, Straus & Giroux publisher Jonathan Galassi said he was "shellshocked" by the news, but also delighted that Johnson had been recognized as a finalist: "You can tantalize yourself with thinking, what if he had won?"

Sig Gissler, the Pulitzer administrator, commented: "Whenever they make a decision, it's not meant to be a statement about fiction in general. It's just a statement that none was able to receive a majority.... Whenever you do not give a prize, you have disappointment, so we understand that. We're sorry for the disappointment. The three books were carefully considered and the process was what it was."

This year's Pulitzers went to:

Fiction: No award
General nonfiction: The Swerve: How the World Became Modern by Stephen Greenblatt (Norton)
History: Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by the late Manning Marable (Viking)
Biography: George F. Kennan: An American Life by John Lewis Gaddis (Penguin)
Drama: Water by the Spoonful by Quiara Alegría Hudes
Poetry: Life on Mars by Tracy K. Smith (Graywolf)


Finalists for the £30,000 (US$47,687) Orange Prize for Fiction, which "celebrates excellence, originality and accessibility in women’s writing from throughout the world," were named earlier today. The winner will be honored May 30 in London. This year's shortlist:

Half Blood Blues by Esi Edugyan
The Forgotten Waltz by Anne Enright
Painter of Silence by Georgina Harding     
The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
Foreign Bodies by Cynthia Ozick
State of Wonder by Ann Patchett

Book Review

Review: Temptation

Temptation by Douglas Kennedy (Atria, $16 paperback, 9781451602104, April 24, 2012)

As Douglas Kennedy's Temptation opens, David Armitage has been trying for years to break into the screenwriting game with no success. (In a nice touch, he's making his share of the family income by working at the West Hollywood indie Book Soup.) Then his agent calls to let him know a production company has bought his latest pilot script; before too long, it's picked up as a series and David is hired on as the executive story supervisor.

Kennedy fast-forwards through the obvious parts of David's meteoric rise, where he abandons the marriage that had been strained by his previous failures and takes up with a hot, young network executive, then slows the story down again as David receives an invitation from a reclusive billionaire to take a meeting at one of his island homes. Philip Fleck may have made his fortune in investing, but he's always wanted to make movies--in fact, he's notorious for writing and directing a godawful self-produced movie. Now he's got one of David's earliest scripts, and he's interested in filming it... if he can turn it into a 21st-century version of Pasolini's notoriously, deliberately obscene Salo.

At first glance, Temptation looks like a smart, snappy update of the Jackie Collins/Jacqueline Susann novel, with sleazy brokers who can quote Adam Smith by memory and illicit romances sparked by quotations from T.S. Eliot and Emily Dickinson. Poke at the glitzy surface details, though, and you'll begin to see a lean, mean noir thriller, as a gossip columnist's accusation of plagiarism snowballs into David losing his job, his girlfriend and even his Emmy. (Here, too, Kennedy strikes the erudite note, as one of David's unproduced plays is an updating of Tolstoy's "The Kreutzer Sonata.") It doesn't take too long to figure out that Fleck, with his obsessive interest in how human beings exert control and dominance over each other, is behind the systematic dismantling of David's life; motive doesn't even particularly figure into it, as a guy with $20 billion doesn't need reasons. The question is, how will David be able to push back against such a crushing force?

In some ways, including the first-person narration, David's existential crisis and the path he finds out of it echo Kennedy's debut novel, The Big Picture (1996). As Kennedy continues to tackle the theme of upended lives, Temptation demonstrates a literary confidence that lifts his stories above much of the competition. --Ron Hogan

Shelf Talker: Atria's reintroduction of Kennedy to American audiences continues with the release of this fast-paced, quirky psychological thriller from 2006.


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