Shelf Awareness for Thursday, June 21, 2012

Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers: Roxy by Neal Shusterman and Jarrod Shusterman

St. Martin's Press: See, Solve, Scale: How Anyone Can Turn an Unsolved Problem Into a Breakthrough Success by Danny Warshay

Harper: Free Love by Tessa Hadley

Walker Books Us: Ferryman by Claire McFall

Shadow Mountain: The Slow March of Light by Heather B Moore

Berkley Books: Women who defied the odds. These are their stories. Enter giveaway!

Soho Crime: My Annihilation by Fuminori Nakamura, translated by Sam Bett

Shadow Mountain: Missing Okalee by Laura Ojeda Melchor


Acorn Books to Sprout in Dover, Del.

In another case of former Atlantic Books employees setting up shop in the wake of the mid-Atlantic chain's collapse late last year, Ginny Jewell and Marie Shane, former general manager and assistant manager at the Atlantic Books store in Dover, Del., are opening Acorn Books in August, according to the Dover News Journal.

"The day we were told [of the closing] by our bosses, we knew had to start making plans," Shane told the paper. "We had been dreaming about this for years."

The pair have moved quickly. Jewell traded severance pay for shelving, inventory and the store's POS system. They also obtained the names of more than 2,000 Atlantic customers. And they have set up funding, including "$20,000 from a silent partner, a $40,000 line of credit from Dover Federal Credit Union, a $24,000 fixed loan and $16,000 in participatory funds from the Delaware Economic Development Office."

Jewell and Shane believe that if they can do 40% of the business that Atlantic Books did, they will be successful. (Atlantic had a 16,000-sq.-ft. store in Dover; Acorn Books will be between 6,000 and 8,000 square feet.)

The new store will sell new and used books and have a coffee bar. The closest general store is 50 miles away.

The other stores opened by former Atlantic Books staffers and/or in former Atlantic Book sites are Cape Atlantic Book Company, Cape May, N.J., and Stone Harbor Book Shop, Stone Harbor, N.J. (Shelf Awareness, May 21, 2012).

photo: Gary Emeigh/News Journal


G.P. Putnam's Sons: Love & Saffron: A Novel of Friendship, Food, and Love by Kim Fay

French Bookstore Miracle: Fixed Prices and Financial Help

Although it begins with the inaccurate statement that U.S. independent bookstores are in a mode of "crash and burn," the New York Times praises France for its strong network of 2,500 bookstores for a population of 62 million, helped in large part by a fixed price law that applies to books and e-books and allows a maximum discount of 5%.

While fixed prices for books have helped independent booksellers in other markets, like Germany, France also has a government program and a private program funded mainly by publishers to make grants and loans to booksellers. In the case of L'Usage du Monde, a bookstore in Paris that celebrates its first anniversary in August, such help was essential. "We couldn't have opened our bookstore without the subsidies we received," co-owner Katia Perou said. "And we couldn't survive now without fixed prices."

The contrast to the Anglophone world is apparent in Paris: the English-language bookstore Village Voice is closing in July because of "the deep discounting of Amazon and sellers of e-books," the Times wrote.

Mountains & Plains Independent Booksellers Association: We're throwing a bookselling party and you're invited!

For Rent: World's Biggest Bookstore

The World's Biggest Bookstore, the iconic Toronto bookshop, "is, alas, not long for this world," according to Yonge Street, which reported that store owner Indigo Books and Music will not renew the current lease on the building, which runs out at the end of 2013.

But in a conflicting report, OpenFile quoted Indigo's v-p of public relations, Janet Eger, as saying that Indigo is not giving up on the space.

Owned by the Cole family, the 64,000-square-foot structure was converted from a bowling alley into a bookstore in 1980 by the late Jack Cole, who co-founded Coles Books with his brother, Carl. (The Coles had earlier founded Coles Bookstores, which after several ownership changes, became Indigo's small-format mall store chain.) The Torontoist linked to a 2010 story about the mammoth shop's opening day more than three decades ago.

Stuart Smith, a v-p at CBRE Commercial Real Estate Services, said the Coles would like to rent to a single tenant: "It's the rarity of an envelope of this size in an area this far downtown that makes it so unusual." He also said that Indigo is seeking a rent reduction if it renews the lease.


Chronicle Books: Inside Cat by Brendan Wenzel

E-Book Lending: Penguin Pilot Program Proceeds

In August, Penguin Group is beginning a pilot program with New York City libraries and 3M to make Penguin e-books available for lending, the New York Times reported. If the program is deemed a success, it could be expanded to other public libraries. The e-versions of new titles will be available later than the print editions of those titles.

Late last year, the publisher stopped making new e-book titles available to libraries, and early this year it stopped offering new e-books through OverDrive, the main supplier of e-books to libraries.

The issue of e-book lending at libraries is so difficult for some publishers that Macmillan and Simon & Schuster have never allowed e-book lending.

Berkley Books: Good Rich People by Eliza Jane Brazier


Image of the Day: Waiting for Good News

It's been a long year and a half of construction in downtown Mystic, Conn., for the Mystic Streetscape Project, which--whenever it's finished--will replace sidewalks, bury utility lines and install new streetlights. The slow construction has affected business at many stores, including Bank Square Books, Mystic, Conn., whose co-owner, Annie Philbrick, noted that the work is supposed to be done by June 30 but the contractor recently asked for an extension. The town rejected an extension, and road paving was supposed to take place at 5 a.m. this morning. "We have been very patient but our nerves are a little frayed," Philbrick added. "We scowl at the workers."


Closing Time for 'Evanston Mainstay' Bookman's Alley

WTTW's Chicago Tonight program featured a tribute to Bookman's Alley, the "Evanston mainstay" that owner Roger Carlson will soon be closing after three decades in business. Carlson cited declining sales and recent health issues as primary reasons for his decision.

When he first opened, Carlson said his goal was to create a used bookstore that didn't have the "same atmosphere as a soup kitchen." To that end, "the decorations--the top hats, the model ships, the presidential busts--are almost as important as the books. Toy airplanes are perched atop bookshelves, across the hall from a 19th century printing press," Chicago Tonight noted.

"I was dressing the set, if you think of my shop as a presentation," he said. "There are many fine used bookshops, but they tend to be pretty much devoted to displaying the books."

Although he anticipates having more reading time once the store closes, he said that for now "the good-byes are taking up the time I would have spent reading."

Jeff Bezos: Countdown to...?

Financing a project to build a 200-foot-tall 10,000 Year Clock "deep inside a mountain on his West Texas property, not far from his rocket-launch site" is just one of many high-priced extracurricular activities Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is involved with, including an airbag for cellphones.

The Wall Street Journal noted that "some of history's greatest innovators have been among its most idiosyncratic, and Mr. Bezos shows signs of fitting that mold. He is the latest businessman to use his fortune to fund ambitious and what some might consider far-fetched plans."

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Stephen Colbert (And So Can You!)

Tomorrow morning on Live with Kelly: Stephen Colbert, author of I Am a Pole (And So Can You!) (Grand Central, $15.99, 9781455523429).


Tomorrow on CBS's the Talk: Tory Johnson, author of Spark & Hustle: Launch and Grow Your Small Business Now (Berkley, $15, 9780425247464).


Movie Trailers: Anna Karenina; Breaking Dawn Part 2

Focus Features released a trailer for Anna Karenina, starring Keira Knightley in the title role and directed by Joe Wright. noted that the film, which will be released here in November, has "definitely got the look of Atonement, the last Knightley-Wright tie-up that earned an Oscar Best Picture nomination in 2008... But it seems more sweep-y, which the classic Russian novel certainly deserves." The cast also features Aaron Johnson, Jude Law, Matthew Macfadyen, Kelly Macdonald, Ruth Wilson, Olivia Williams and Emily Watson.


After wishing Edward Cullen a happy birthday (he turned 111 yesterday), featured the new teaser trailer for The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2. The film opens November 16.

This Weekend on Book TV: Mrs. Kennedy And Me

Book TV airs on C-Span 2 this week from 8 a.m. Saturday to 8 a.m. Monday and focuses on political and historical books as well as the book industry. The following are highlights for this coming weekend. For more information, go to Book TV's website.

Saturday, June 23
9 a.m. Former Secret Service agent Clint Hill, author of Mrs. Kennedy and Me (Gallery Books, $26, 9781451648447), recounts the four years he was assigned to protect First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy. (Re-airs Sunday at 11:15 p.m.)

9:45 a.m. Steven Jaffe discusses his book New York at War: Four Centuries of Combat, Fear, and Intrigue in Gotham (Basic Books , $29.99, 9780465036424). (Re-airs Sunday at 7 p.m.)

1 p.m. Timothy Gay presents his book Assignment to Hell: The War Against Nazi Germany with Correspondents Walter Cronkite, Andy Rooney, A.J. Liebling, Homer Bigar, and Hal Boyle (NAL, $26.95, 9780451236883). (Re-airs Sunday at 10 p.m.)

5:15 p.m. At an event hosted by Politics and Prose Bookstore, Washington, D.C., Eleanor Clift and Matthew Spieler talk about their book, Selecting a President (Thomas Dunne, $19.99, 9781250004499). (Re-airs Sunday at 9 a.m.)

8:15 p.m. Book TV covers a book party for retired Air Force Colonel Lee Ellis, author of Leading with Honor: Leadership Lessons from the Hanoi Hotel (Freedom Star Media, $22.99, 9780983879305). (Re-airs Sunday at 5:15 p.m.)

9 p.m. At an event hosted by Tattered Cover Bookstore, Denver, Colo., Henry Crumpton presents his book The Art of Intelligence: Lessons from a Life in the CIA's Clandestine Service (Penguin, $27.95, 9781594203343). (Re-airs Sunday at 9:45 a.m., July 4 at 6 p.m. and July 5 at 6 a.m.)

10 p.m. After Words. Major Garrett interviews Katie Pavlich, author of Fast and Furious: Barack Obama's Bloodiest Scandal and Its Shameless Cover-Up (Regnery, $27.95, 9781596983212). (Re-airs Sunday at 9 p.m. and Monday at 12 a.m. & 4 a.m.)

11 p.m. Dambisa Moyo talks about her book Winner Take All: China's Race for Resources and What It Means for the World (Basic Books, $26.99, 9780465028283). (Re-airs Monday at 1:45 a.m.)

Sunday, June 24
3:15 a.m. Paul Chappell discusses his book Peaceful Revolution: How We Can Create the Future Needed for Humanity's Survival (Easton Studio Press, $15.95, 9781935212768). (Re-airs Monday at 4 a.m.)

Books & Authors

Handselling Favorite: Nancy Olson's Novel Choice

A Death at the White Camellia Orphanage by Marly Youmans "is one of those books that grabs you from the beginning," said Nancy Olson, owner of Quail Ridge Books & Music, Raleigh, N.C. "It's powerfully moving."

Published in March by Mercer University Press, the book is also one of Olson's favorite handsells of the year. The book is displayed at the front of the store and has been featured repeatedly in the Quail Mail newsletter, which is sent to 4,000 readers. As of yesterday, the store had sold 62 copies of the $24 book.

Olson also has been reaching out to booksellers at other stores to tell them about the novel. She likened it to Charles Frazier's Cold Mountain for its quiet yet powerful storyline and "beautiful depiction of people." She also talked up A Death at the White Camellia Orphanage to colleagues at BookExpo America earlier this month just as she has been doing with Quail Ridge clientele.

In this tale, Pip Tatnall's younger brother, Otto, is murdered at the White Camellia Orphanage in Georgia, and a disillusioned Pip strikes out on his own. He rides the rails across Depression-era America, running from his past and searching for a future.

Like Pip, Youmans has traveled the U.S. extensively and lived in many locales. After she was born in Aiken, S.C., her parents moved repeatedly, living in Louisiana, Kansas, Delaware and North Carolina. A constant in Youmans's childhood were summers spent at a farm near Lexsy, Ga., where her grandfather sharecropped. She used the house there and its environs as the model for the White Camellia Orphanage.

Youmans does not usually incorporate autobiographical elements into her writing, which includes novels, poetry and young adult tales, but A Death at the White Camellia Orphanage is an exception. Some aspects of the story are loosely drawn from her family's history. Her grandfather's favorite sibling was a half-brother with whom he was raised after the death of the boy's mother, a black neighbor. Their relationship, as well as the mixed-race heritage, is reflected in the storyline through the characters Pip and Otto.

In addition, Youmans's father ran away from home numerous times to ride the rails. Although she had only scant information about her father's past and that of his family, the details she did know sparked her imagination. "They worked together to make a new story," she explained. "It's the gaps that interest a writer. You bridge those gaps with a story."

As an adult, Youmans continued to have a nomadic existence for a time, residing in Virginia, Rhode Island, the Carolinas, and elsewhere, until she put down roots in Cooperstown, N.Y., 13 years ago. "It's the longest I've ever lived anywhere," said Youmans. "I've never lived in a place long enough to see babies grow up and middle aged people become elderly, and all that's very interesting and touching."

Youmans keeps connected to her southern heritage by visiting North Carolina, where her mother resides, several times a year. She has done readings at a range of stores in the state, including Quail Ridge Books & Music, one of her biggest boosters. And the store will continue to boost it.

"Every person I've talked into buying this book came back with glowing reviews," Nancy Olson said. "I'm going to keep selling it until everybody I know reads it." --Shannon McKenna Schmidt

Book Review

Review: Too Much Magic: Wishful Thinking, Technology, and the Fate of the Nation

Too Much Magic: Wishful Thinking, Technology, and the Fate of the Nation by James Howard Kunstler (Atlantic Monthly Press, $25 hardcover, 9780802120304, July 3, 2012)

Whether your comfort beverage of choice is herbal tea or single malt Scotch, you'd be well advised to lay in a large store before settling down with James Howard Kunstler's disturbing portrait of the U.S.'s impending decline, Too Much Magic.

In this sequel to his 2005 The Long Emergency (and a pair of post-apocalyptic novels), Kunstler takes Americans to task for a "techno grandiosity" that feeds "ongoing fantasies about a technological rescue from the very predicaments already spawned by the misuse of technology." Whether it's turning to shale oil and gas as solutions to the problem of peak oil or shooting particles into the atmosphere to combat global warming, Kunstler methodically skewers what he asserts is the misguided thinking of people like Ray Kurzweil (The Singularity Is Near) who reassure us we can somehow craft benign, inexpensive fixes that will permit us to continue in a lifestyle roughly resembling the one we enjoy today.

One of Kunstler's chief villains is suburban sprawl, built on cheap gasoline and (in the case of the Sun Belt) cheap air conditioning. When those common features of modern life disappear, he predicts, whole swaths of the country will revert to a pastoral past. The skyscrapers at the core of our major cities aren't likely to fare much better; he even envisions the end of commercial aviation as we know it.

Apart from his conviction that broad scale technological solutions simply are not feasible--many require ample supplies of fossil fuels to sustain them, for one thing--Kunstler colorfully expresses his lack of confidence in the nation's failed political and business leadership. Describing the two-party system as giving off an "odor of necrosis," he's equally critical of Democratic policies ("a complete merging of corporate rapine with government assistance") and Republican ideology's "persistent ethnocentrism, xenophobia, institutionalized ignorance, paranoia and parochialism." The rise of an economy built on manipulating financial instruments instead of making things offers yet further evidence of our societal breakdown.

Kunstler maintains that we're currently engaged in a "futile campaign to sustain the unsustainable," and he doesn't paint an especially clear picture of how we might face the looming deprivations beyond inevitable conflict over dwindling resources and the struggle to develop small-scale, locally oriented ways of coping with our diminished circumstances. Unlike many futurists, however, he doesn't lodge his predictions in some far-off time. According to Too Much Magic, we're already living in the midst of the collapse he so confidently predicts, and if it plays out as quickly and dramatically as he describes, it will not be a pleasant spectacle to watch. --Harvey Freedenberg

Shelf Talker: Futurist James Howard Kunstler offers a disturbing picture of the decline of American society, as our current lifestyle collapses in upon itself.


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