Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, April 5, 2006

Delacorte Press: Six of Sorrow by Amanda Linsmeier

Shadow Mountain: To Love the Brooding Baron (Proper Romance Regency) by Jentry Flint

Soho Crime: Exposure (A Rita Todacheene Novel) by Ramona Emerson

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

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

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

Quotation of the Day

For Now, B&N Turns Page on E-Readers

"We have sold e-readers before and they haven't done particularly well."--Barnes & Noble spokeswoman Mary Ellen Keating in response to a query from the Associated Press about the Sony Reader, which will be sold through Sony and in some 200 Borders stores.

BINC: Do Good All Year - Click to Donate!


Notes: Nantucket Chain Store Measure Sails On

Wendy Morton Hudson of Nantucket Bookworks reports that at Monday night's Town Meeting, "the formula retail article proposed for downtown Nantucket went unchallenged." It now needs to be approved by the Massachusetts Attorney Journal, a move that its supporters are "guardedly optimistic" will occur.

The measure would keep large chain stores from opening (Shelf Awareness, March 17).

Speaking of big box retailers, Wal-Mart yesterday floated a plan to aid small businesses near at least 10 of the 50 stores it wants to open in struggling urban areas. Wal-Mart would provide training in how businesses can compete with Wal-Mart and offer competitors free advertising in its stores, among other eyebrow-raising measures.


In a timely story for National Poetry Month, today's New York Times trailed David Tucker around at his day job as assistant managing editor of the Metro section of the Newark, N.J., Star-Ledger. Tucker is also a poet and winner of the Katharine Bakeless Nason Prize for poetry, which includes publication by Houghton Mifflin. His Late for Work (Mariner, $12, 0618658688) has just appeared.

Tucker told the paper he learned to love language from his bulldozer-operator father, who liked to quote the Shakespeare he had learned in high school, and he decided to become a poet after taking a class with poet Donald Hall at the University of Michigan.


Consortium Book Sales & Distribution has appointed David Perkins academic marketing director. A 25-year book industry veteran, Perkins most recently was marketing director for the Bloomsbury Review. Earlier he held marketing, sales, advertising positions at several university presses. Perkins is also a published poet and a frequent book reviewer. His first job was owner of the Only Bookstore and the Only (Other) Bookstore in Denver, Colo.


In the Harvard Crimson, Louisa Solano reminisces about her life-long love affair with the Grolier Poetry Book Shop, which she is selling to Ifeanyi A. Menkiti, whom she called "the most perfect match."

When she first visited the store at age 15, she told the paper, she knew that someday she wanted to own the place. "When I told my mother that, she said, be careful what you wish for, you might get it."


That dinosaur book Tony Soprano perused in Sunday's episode of the Sopranos was DK Publishing's Dinosaur Encyclopedia. According to DK, publicity manager Rachel Kempster heard from many fans and colleagues and commented: "I'm just glad that the book didn't get whacked."


I Love a Mystery, which sells new and used mysteries, suspense and thrillers, has relocated, according to the Kansas City Star. Its new location, in larger space, is at 6114 Johnson Drive, Mission, Kan.

AuthorBuzz for the Week of 04.22.24

Bookseller Fensterman Becomes BEA Show Manager

Lance Fensterman, a bookseller and member of the ABA Booksellers Advisory Council, has been named show manager for BookExpo America, replacing Chris McCabe, who left the company in February. Fensterman begins officially on April 10 and reports to Courtney Muller, Reed Exhibitions group v-p, who in the late 1990s, during a successful tenure, was herself BEA show manager.

Fensterman was most recently store manager of R.J. Julia at Elm Street Books, New Canaan, Conn., which closed last month, and before that was general manager of Bound to Be Read Bookstore, St. Paul, Minn. Earlier Fensterman worked in hotel sales and marketing, co-founded a dot com business and founded North Perk Coffee House.

In a statement, he said, "A bookseller and entrepreneur at heart, I hope to bring a new perspective to the show. My proverbial office door and my mind will always be open to new ideas and innovation for the show."

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

Media and Movies

Media Heat: DeLay Commentators

Rep. Tom DeLay's announcement yesterday that he will resign from the House brought a lot of media requests for comment for Lou Dubose and Jan Reid, authors of DeLay: The Hammer Comes Down (PublicAffairs, 1586484079, $13.95), published in January. For example, Reid was interviewed on CBS Radio, and Dubose was on NPR's Talk of the Nation and Air America's Al Franken Show yesterday and will be on Air America's Mornings show today.


This morning the Today Show obeys Cesar Millan, star of the National Geographic Channel's Dog Whisperer show and author of Cesar's Way: The Natural, Everyday Guide to Understanding and Correcting Common Dog Problems (Crown, $24.95, 0307337332).


This morning Good Morning America warmly greets Liz Pryor, author of What Did I Do Wrong?: When Women Don't Tell Each Other the Friendship Is Over (Free Press, $19.95, 0743286316).


Today on the Early Show: Ronald Kessler, author of Laura Bush: An Intimate Portrait of America's First Lady (Doubleday, $26, 0385516215).


Today on the Diane Rehm Show: Derek Bok, author of Our Underachieving Colleges: A Candid Look at How Much Students Learn and Why They Should Be Learning More (Princeton University Press, $29.95, 0691125961).


Today on WNYC's Leonard Lopate Show: Sarah Waters whose new novel is The Night Watch (Riverhead, $25.95, 159448905X).

Also on the Lopate Show, Scottish writers Richard Holloway, author of Doubts and Loves: What Is Left of Christianity (Canongate, $14, 1841953822); Janice Galloway, author of Clara (S&S, $14, 0743238532); and A.L. Kennedy, author of Paradise (Vintage, $14, 1400079454) "compare notes," as the show puts it.


Tonight on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart: retired General Anthony C. Zinni, aka Tony Zinni, author of The Battle For Peace: A Frontline Vision of America's Power and Purpose (Palgrave Macmillan, $24.95, 1403971749).

Books & Authors

Attainment: New Books Next Week, Vol. 2

Appearing next Tuesday, April 11:

Suite Francaise
by Irene Nemirovsky (Knopf, $25, 1400044731). Part of an unfinished epic about life during and after the Nazi invasion of France by the Jewish Russian-born French writer who died at Auschwitz. The long unpublished manuscript has received glowing reviews.


Aruba: The Tragic Untold Story of Natalee Holloway and Corruption in Paradise by Dave Holloway (Nelson Current, $25.99, 1595550631). The father of the American student who disappeared last May in Aruba while on a high school graduation trip tells the frustrating story.


Encyclopedia Prehistorica: Sharks and Other Sea Monsters
by Robert Sabuda (Candlewick, $27.99, 076362229X). The latest from the pop-up master, likely to eat up the competition.

Book Review

Mandahla: Safety Gear for Small Animals Reviewed

Bill Burns is a Canadian artist who has created a traveling exhibition of scale model safety vests, work gloves, bulletproof vests, U.V. goggles and respirators to help animals escape from both natural history and degraded habitats. The text is scientifically based with serious intent, while also being absolutely hilarious. Over a million species of animal life are predicted to be extinct by 2050 due to habitat loss, so Burns and his crew have created prostheses ("They allow animals dignity and security, as well as the good looks needed for successful breeding"), rescue devices (the Frog Resuscitator) and items like work gloves for raccoons.
He realized his mission at a young age: "By the time I finished high school . . . the spectre of war, at least of the massive earth-destroying fireball type, seemed to have passed; nevertheless, I sensed danger . . . something was amiss. Animals were still in peril." At Simon Fraser University, "I was a tortured young man . . . I decided not to become a priest . . . my suffering did not abate: I was a killjoy." After the first Safety Gear exhibition in New York, events began to unfold and become more hopeful for Burns and cohorts: "Suffice it to say that they involved a wounded black-footed ferret, a cocktail of Gatorade and kitten kibble, an elk, a frozen pond, the director of a major arts centre in the Canadian Rockies, and a daring helicopter rescue." With essays by Burns and others, delicate drawings, and landscapes created with nature books and plastic animals, Safety Gear for Small Animals can be appreciated for both its message and wit, as well as its elegant production.--Marilyn Dahl

Deeper Understanding

John Daniel: 'The Company of Books'

[Editors' Note: John Daniel gave a particularly eloquent address, called "The Company of Books," on March 17, when his Rogue River Journal: A Winter Alone (Shoemaker & Hoard, $26, 1593760515), won a Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association prize. We repeat it here.]

As I was growing up in the suburbs of Washington, D.C., in the 1950s and early 60s, books were all around our house. Many kinds, from fine sets of Shakespeare and Francis Parkman, to early coffee-table books such as The Family of Man, to baseball books and the Freddy the Pig stories my brother and I loved, to the cheap paperback novels with lurid covers that my father liked for recreational reading. It was common to see both my parents reading, my father with his half-frame glasses in his maple rocker, my mother in the Morris chair or on the sofa. Neither of them, that I recall, read out loud very much to my brother and me. They did something better: they read books themselves, in our presence, allowing us to absorb their silent statement that to read was to do something valid and valuable.

But books to me were about more than reading. I liked to touch them, hold them, see them arrayed on shelves in the living room. Once, when I preferred to be alone--an old impulse of mine--I got rid of my best friend by feigning an avid interest in a volume of Macauley's History of England. The text did not engross me, but the book itself did. I liked the grainy paper, the feel of the rough fore-edges of the pages. I liked the hard gray covers, embossed with opulent lettering. I liked the substantial heft in my hands. And I loved the smell, both musty and fresh, that filled my nose when I buried it in the book's open spine. It was a smell like no other; it seemed as old and mysterious as England itself.

I still like to smell books, and I know I'm not alone. I suspect, in fact, that many in this room are book sniffers, closeted or out. A certain poet I knew, and some of you knew him too, once claimed that he could find his way around the Lewis & Clark College Library just by the smell of the books. "Books from Britain smell different from American books," William Stafford said. And he said, in his not-quite-kidding way, "Some people judge writing by how it sounds or looks. I judge it by how it smells. I want that total experience of language."

An earlier American, Henry David Thoreau, wrote in his journal one day in 1850, "A truly good book is something as wildly natural and primitive, mysterious and marvelous, ambrosial and fertile, as a fungus or lichen." He was referring to the ideas and spirit of a good book, the wild, uncivilized thinking that absorbs us in Lear or the Iliad, but the sensory gusto of his small ode entitles us to suspect, at least, that Thoreau was a book sniffer too.

I knew one man who went further. At Stanford in the 1980s I met the great Conrad scholar Ian Watt, now dead. An Englishman, Watt was one of the World War Two prisoners who built the bridge over the River Kwai. In the squalor and privation of the prison camp, he had managed to hang onto--appropriately enough--a copy of Dante's Inferno. Someone else had a store of tobacco. No one had a pipe or papers. Which would it be, then--the solace of one of the great achievements of the human imagination, or the comfort of an occasional smoke? Watt chose both. He memorized the Inferno, one page at a time, then tore the page from the book and ripped it into as many rolling papers as it would make. With his cohorts in slavery, he took the warmth of paper and ink into his lungs, and Dante Alighieri into his mind and heart.

Book. The word has heft and grain and smell in its own history. "Book" is directly related to "beech," the species of tree, with an original sense of beechwood sticks on which runes were carved. That early book must have been a versatile thing. Besides what edification and inspiration it might provide, it could be leaned on when one was tired, kindled to start a fire, or gripped hard to bang robbers on the head. (I needed such a book one night in my Rogue River solitude when I awoke dead certain that an intruder had entered the cabin. Fumbling in the dark at my bedside table, my hand found only a softcover Icelandic novel with which to defend myself.)

On balance, though, I'll take the modern book. Beechwood sticks might smell nice but would smell pretty much alike, whereas our books form a lovely array of olfactory delights, as various as single-malt whiskies. And anyway, that old wooden book was worthless for pressing flowers, resting a coffee mug on, or riffling with one's fingers for the pure pleasure.

No one knows what all goes into the making of a writer, but surely--along with the mother complex, the poor social skills, the exhibitionism parading behind modesty, the limitless ego, and the perverse unwillingness to work a real job--along with those factors and more, surely a love of the book as physical thing must play a part. A writer, I suspect, wants more than to write a book. He wants to be a book, and to some extent he is.

And what of you, dear booksellers? What are the secrets of your psyche? Surely it wasn't only the money and sheer glamour of the trade that attracted you. But what, then? Were you habitually naïve and optimistic as children? Did you actually imagine that you could spend your lives on this most impractical excursion from reality?

Perhaps it was this simple: you could not imagine a career without the close company of this lively, fragrant creature, the book. And perhaps it was this simple too: you formed a conviction that good books ought to have a public, that they can speak for themselves only if read, and that in order to be read they must first be spoken for, they must be spirited from the shelf to the hand of the reader by a friendly and knowledgeable advocate.

Thank you for being that advocate.

And thank you for selecting Rogue River Journal for this award, which does me great honor and gives me great happiness.    

AuthorBuzz: St. Martin's Press: The Rom-Commers by Katherine Center
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