Shelf Awareness for Thursday, August 16, 2012

Viking: The Bookshop: A History of the American Bookstore by Evan Friss

Pixel+ink: Missy and Mason 1: Missy Wants a Mammoth

Bramble: The Stars Are Dying: Special Edition (Nytefall Trilogy #1) by Chloe C Peñaranda

Blue Box Press: A Soul of Ash and Blood: A Blood and Ash Novel by Jennifer L Armentrout

Charlesbridge Publishing: The Perilous Performance at Milkweed Meadow by Elaine Dimopoulos, Illustrated by Doug Salati

Minotaur Books: The Dark Wives: A Vera Stanhope Novel (Vera Stanhope #11) by Ann Cleeves

Quotation of the Day

Author Proposes an 'Indie Bookstore Pledge'

"Bookstores are incubators. Books, music, food, conversation, debate all take place at independent bookstores. As a result bookstores make us more informed, engaged and enlightened. Bookstores provide the venues that will grow our brains and our awareness of the culture and ideas and art of others. Bookstores also incubate readers of books. The world needs more readers of books. So let's support those warm, well-lighted stores that allow our little chick selves to grow."

--Sarah Callender in a Writer Unboxed post headlined "Imagine Saving a Life: An Indie Bookstore Pledge."


BINC: Do Good All Year - Click to Donate!


John Sargent to Speak at NEIBA Fall Conference

John Sargent, CEO of Macmillan, will be the keynote speaker at the New England Independent Booksellers Association's Fall Conference in Providence R.I. His talk takes place on Wednesday, October 3, at 10:30 a.m., beginning the three-day conference.

NEIBA executive director Steve Fischer said that "the invitation was extended to John because of his courageous stand on e-book pricing and because of his progressive and unique vision for the future of publishing and bookselling."

GLOW: Milkweed Editions: Becoming Little Shell: Returning Home to the Landless Indians of Montana by Chris La Tray

reKiosk Offers Social E-commerce

The socially networked e-commerce site reKiosk recently began accepting beta users. Instead of one large central inventory, the site will recruit independent creators and publishers to create virtual "kiosks" from which they can sell their own wares. "We want people who can kick the tires a bit," explained co-founder Aziz Isham, "who can be tough on the platform so we can really test it." It's free to set up a kiosk, and to sell up to 15 items from it; after that, a service charge kicks in. Right now, reKiosk is focusing on MP3s and e-books--early participants include Grove/Atlantic and OR Books--and plans to expand into other digital media.

The site offers vendors approximately 95% of the list price for each sale, taking the rest as a transaction fee. It will also enable consumers to create their own kiosks, which they can "stock" with items they like that have been brought into the system by participating vendors; in such cases, the referring kiosk will receive a 25% commission, with 70% going to the original provider. Consumers will be able to search the site by kiosk, and find and follow people whose offerings dovetail with their own tastes. (That's where the social networking aspects come in.) Isham sees this as a powerful opportunity not just for creators and publishers, but for bloggers who aspire to a curatorial role and even for independent bookstores. ReKiosk is commited to selling DRM-free products, which may limit participation by some publishers.

Isham explicitly positions reKiosk's plans for a multi-vendor network, with an array of independent artists, distributors and curators, as an alternative to what he calls Amazon's monocultural approach. While the e-books at reKiosk don't come with mega-retailer discounts, Isham hopes that consumers will see the difference in price as an ethical choice, the same way they'd be willing to pay extra for, say, free trade coffee. "We need more people focusing on alternative distribution," he said. "The point is to find a way to make the midlist book viable again... to empower people to feel good about buying books and music again." --Ron Hogan


G.P. Putnam's Sons: Four Weekends and a Funeral by Ellie Palmer

NACS: National Student Day Recognizes Volunteerism

On October 4, the National Association of College Stores will sponsor its second annual National Student Day, which recognizes college students for their social responsibility. Last year's event was celebrated on 561 campuses throughout the U.S. and Canada.

Thus far, more than 1,500 college stores have registered to participate and will host an array of events, including giveaways, parties and contests. They include institutionally-owned stores as well as those run by Barnes & Noble College Booksellers, Follett Higher Education Group and Nebraska Book Co.

"For years, college students have been volunteering across their campus community and beyond," said NACS PR director Charles Schmidt. "From cleaning up a local park to serving as a Big Brother or Big Sister, they have taken time out of their hectic schedules to perform selfless acts without seeking recognition. We felt it was about time to applaud these students for their efforts, which is why we came up with National Student Day."
NACS is also sponsoring a nationwide contest that will reward students who demonstrate their volunteerism. Starting yesterday, students can submit their social responsibility story or video on the NACS website, where it will be voted on by their peers. Prizes include scholarships for the three most popular submissions and iPads for seven random submissions.

World Book Night: Working on Night #2

A new World Book Night U.S. steering committee has been meeting this summer to set strategy and priorities for the event's second year. Members are Molly Barton, global digital director, Penguin Group (and WBN Board member); Joan DeMayo, senior v-p, director of sales, Random House Children's Books; Mary Ghikas, senior associate executive director, American Library Association; Jonathan Karp, executive v-p and publisher, Simon & Schuster; Cathy Langer, lead buyer, Tattered Cover Bookstores; and Jan Lindstrom Valerio, national business development manager, marketing and events, Barnes & Noble.

At the same time, the media strategy subcommittee has begun setting publicity goals. The chairperson is Suzanne Herz, senior v-p, publishing, Doubleday, and members are: Sophie Cottrell, v-p, communications director, Hachette Book Group; Sandi Mendelson, CEO, Hilsinger-Mendelson East; Jeff Seroy, senior v-p, marketing and publicity, Farrar, Straus & Giroux; and Amy Cox Williams, director, PR and product marketing, Ingram Content Group.

Carl Lennertz, World Book Night U.S. executive director commented: "This is a very exciting time for World Book Night and I am so grateful for the support and guidance from such smart people. Year one in America was a resounding success in so many ways, thanks to all the volunteer book givers, booksellers, and librarians in every corner of the country. For 2013, we plan to do even more to elevate the discussion of books, reading, and giving before, on, and after April 23."

Obituary Note: Harry Harrison

Science fiction author and SFWA Grand Master Harry Harrison, whose novel Make Room! Make Room! was adapted into the film Soylent Green starring Charlton Heston, died yesterday, BBC News reported. He was 87.


San Francisco Bookstores

The Bold Italic surveys nine San Francisco bookstores and has some of the best photos of owners in their stores that we've ever seen. Although Adobe Books is going out of business, "it's not all doom-and-gloom," Bold Italic wrote. "A collection of entrepreneurial bookstore owners have discovered ways to weather the apocalypse, and some are even thriving in spite of it."


Schuler Books & Music Turning 30

Congratulations to Schuler Books & Music, Grand Rapids, Mich., which will celebrate its 30th anniversary on September 23. Since the first location opened in 1982 as a 7,000-square-foot, family-owned store with eight employees, the bookseller has grown to include five stores. Throughout September, Schuler will host celebratory events at all locations, featuring authors, music, giveaways and other festivities.

As part of an ongoing commitment to adapt quickly to changes in the industry, co-owners Bill and Cecile Fehsenfeld have over time expanded the book selection and begun selling e-books; added music and film sections; and opened full-service Chapbook Cafes in each shop. More recently, the flagship store installed an Espresso Book Machine and developed a new publishing imprint, the Chapbook Press. The Schuler's location in downtown Grand Rapids also has a beer and wine license.

Noting that during Schuler's three decades they have also hosted "an untold number" of events for new and established writers, the Fehsenfelds observed that "with the help of authors like these and our friends in the publishing industry, we have served as a bridge between the public and the literary world, shaping a strong, community-oriented, independent-minded business."

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Joanna Brooks on MSNBC's the Cycle

This morning on Imus in the Morning: Bill O'Reilly, co-author of Lincoln's Last Days: The Shocking Assassination That Changed America Forever (Holt, $19.99, 9780805096750).


This morning on MSNBC's Morning Joe: Hope Solo, author of Solo: A Memoir of Hope (Harper, $24.99, 9780062136749).

Also on Morning Joe: Kati Marton, author of Paris: A Love Story (Simon & Schuster, $24, 9781451691542).


Tomorrow morning on Fox & Friends: Pat Brown, author of How to Save Your Daughter's Life: Straight Talk for Parents from America's Top Criminal Profiler (HCI, $14.95, 9780757316692).


Tomorrow on MSNBC's the Cycle: Joanna Brooks, author of The Book of Mormon Girl: A Memoir of an American Faith (Free Press, $14, 9781451699685).


Tomorrow on NPR's Science Friday: Danica McKellar, author of Girls Get Curves: Geometry Takes Shape (Hudson Street, $28.95, 9781594630941).

Movie: Cosmopolis

Cosmopolis, based on Don DeLillo's novel of the same name (Picador, $15, 9781447219903), opens on Friday. Directed by David Cronenberg, the film stars Robert Pattinson, Paul Giamatti and Juliette Binoche.


This Weekend on Book TV: Twilight of the Elites

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, August 18

7 p.m. David Lampo presents his book A Fundamental Freedom: Why Republicans, Conservatives, and Libertarians Should Support Gay Rights (Rowman & Littlefield, 9781442215719). (Re-airs Sunday at 9:30 a.m.)

8:45 p.m. Kirsten Grind talks about her book The Lost Bank: The Story of Washington Mutual--The Biggest Bank Failure in American History (S&S, $27, 9781451617924). (Re-airs Sunday at 4:45 p.m.)

10 p.m. After Words. Linda Killian interviews John Fund and Hans Von Spakovsky, co-authors of Who's Counting?: How Fraudsters and Bureaucrats Put Your Vote at Risk (Encounter Books, $16.99, 9781594036187). (Re-airs Sunday at 9 p.m., Monday at 12 a.m. & 3 a.m.)

11 p.m. Christopher Hayes discusses his book Twilight of the Elites: America After Meritocracy (Crown, $26, 9780307720450).

Sunday, August 19

11 a.m. At an event hosted by Busboys and Poets, Washington, D.C., Eric Laursen talks about The People's Pension: The Struggle to Defend Social Security Since Reagan (AK Press, $27, 9781849351010). (Re-airs Monday at 2 a.m.)

1 p.m. George Gilder presents a new edition of his 1981 bestseller Wealth and Poverty: A New Edition for the Twenty-First Century (Regnery, $29.95, 9781596988095). (Re-airs Sunday at 8 p.m. and Monday at 1 a.m.)

1:30 p.m. Steve Forbes discusses his book Freedom Manifesto: Why Free Markets Are Moral and Big Government Isn't (Crown Business, $26, 9780307951571). (Re-airs Sunday at 8:30 p.m. and Monday at 1:30 a.m.)

Books & Authors

Awards: Thurber Prize for American Humor

Finalists have been named for the $5,000 Thurber Prize for American Humor, sponsored by the Thurber House and named for the legendary humorist and New Yorker contributor James Thurber. The winner will be announced October 1 in New York City at an event hosted by Randy Cohen, former Ethicist columnist for the New York Times Magazine and author of the upcoming book, Be Good: How to Navigate the Ethics of Everything.

The Thurber Prize shortlist:

Quite Enough of Calvin Trillin: Forty Years of Funny Stuff by Calvin Trillin
Starting from Happy by Patricia Marx
Pawnee: The Greatest Town in America by Nate DiMeo

Book Review

Review: Hostage

Hostage by Elie Wiesel, trans. by Catherine Temerson (Knopf, $25.95 hardcover, 9780307599582, August 21, 2012)

Elie Wiesel's Hostage is a chilling novel about a political kidnapping that allows its author to meditate on the power of memory and the peril posed by revolutionary fanaticism.

Set in mid-1970s New York, Hostage recounts the nightmare experience of Shaltiel Feigenberg, a "storyteller" who is seized by two terrorists--one Arab, the other Italian--while walking to his Brooklyn home. The young writer's claim to literary celebrity is modest, and there's no obvious reason he's been singled out. But his ordeal becomes more compelling when we learn he survived the Holocaust as a child in Galicia, hidden by a German count while his father was deported to Auschwitz and his mother died from an untreated medical condition.

Over the course of several days, Feigenberg is beaten and confronted repeatedly by his kidnappers. Ahmed is an abusive, fiery revolutionary, while Luigi, though equally fervent in his radical beliefs, prefers to engage in civilized conversation with his prisoner. "What unites us all," says Luigi, "is a faith in violence as the only way of influencing events."

Unsurprisingly, Wiesel's novel overflows with stories, the chief vehicle Feigenberg relies upon to maintain his sanity. Whether it's the parables of some of the Hasidic masters whose work Wiesel has helped popularize or his protagonist's accounts of the chess matches he played against the German count as a terrified boy, these tales prove, as the mystic One-Eyed Paritus, a recurring character in Wiesel's novels, puts it, "God created man and gave the storytellers the task of saying why."

In contrast to these vivid excavations of memory, the least compelling sections of Hostage are the periodic debates provoked by the terrorists' hatred for the state of Israel and Feigenberg's passionate rebuttal when it becomes clear he's being used as a bargaining chip to secure the release of three Palestinian prisoners. These arguments will sound overly familiar to anyone possessing even a modest familiarity with the Middle East's contemporary history. Wiesel is much more interesting when he reflects on the roots of political radicalism, subtly equating the fanaticism of Luigi and Ahmed with the misguided idealism that impelled Shaltiel's brother to abandon the family and emigrate to Stalinist Russia before repudiating it for life as an ultra-Orthodox Jew in Jerusalem.

Hostage is an effective summing up of many of the themes Wiesel has pondered in a long and distinguished literary career. "In the face of memory," Shaltiel Feigenberg observes, "joys and sorrows merge." That statement could serve as a fitting epigraph for this spare, provocative work. --Harvey Freedenberg

Shelf Talker: Elie Wiesel uses a political kidnapping to explore the themes of memory and the political fanaticism that inspires terrorism.


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