Shelf Awareness for Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Other Press (NY): Playing Under the Piano: From Downton to Darkest Peru by Hugh Bonneville

Shadow Mountain: Delicious Gatherings: Recipes to Celebrate Together by Tara Teaspoon

Berkley Books: The Last Russian Doll by Kristen Loesch

Charlesbridge Publishing: Too-Small Tyson (Storytelling Math) by Janay Brown-Wood, illustrated by Anastasia Williams

MIT Press: Rethinking Gender: An Illustrated Exploration by Louie Läuger

Spiegel & Grau: Brave Hearted: The Women of the American West by Katie Hickman

Austin Macauley: Lasseter's Truth by John Somerset

St. Martin's Press: Weyward by Emilia Hart


Live from New York: It's J.K. Rowling

J.K. Rowling is making her sole U.S. public appearance on behalf of The Casual Vacancy tonight in New York City. The event will be held at Jazz at Lincoln Center's Frederick P. Rose Hall and features a conversation with Ann Patchett as well as a q&a session.

Rowling's appearance has also been made available exclusively to booksellers in the U.S. and Canada for public screenings via live webcast. Many bookstores have scheduled events using the webcast as the centerpiece.
Last night, Rowling was the guest on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart. Check out the interview here. Spoiler alert: She did give away the ending of The Casual Vacancy, saying, "Dumbledore comes back!"

CamCat Publishing: The Darker the Skies (Earth United) by Bryan Prosek

Bookstore Sales Slip 0.8% in August

August bookstore sales fell 0.8%, to $2.382 billion, compared to August 2011, according to preliminary estimates from the Census Bureau. For the year to date, bookstore sales have risen 0.3%, to $10.339 billion.

In January, bookstore sales were even with the same period in the previous year, while in February and March, bookstore sales dropped 4% and 3.8%, respectively, then rebounded in April by 3.8%, in May by 5.7%, in June by 3.8% and in July by 1.2%. August marks the first drop in bookstore sales since March.

Total retail sales in August rose 5.9%, to $422.7 billion, compared to August 2011. For the year to date, total retail sales have risen 5.9%, to $3,208.8 billion.

Note: under Census Bureau definitions, bookstore sales are of new books and do not include "electronic home shopping, mail-order, or direct sale" or used book sales.

Barefoot Books: Save 10%

Amazon Responds to Paperwhite Critics, Axes DX 'Quietly'

Amazon has responded directly to a rash of consumer complaints "about spotty screen illumination, lack of storage and missing speech-to-text" on its new Paperwhite e-reader, Digital Trends reported.

In a statement on the company's website headlined "We want you to know...," the online retailer noted that, under "certain lighting conditions, the illumination at the bottom of the screen from the built-in light is not perfectly even." Showing examples of how the screen should look, Amazon called the variations "normal and are located primarily in the margin where text is not present."

While some previous Kindle models had 4 GB of storage, Amazon said that the Paperwhite's 2 GB "allows you to hold up to 1,100 books locally on your device. In addition, your entire Kindle library is stored for free in the Amazon cloud, and you can easily move books from the cloud onto your device." Not offering audio or Text-to-Speech on the Paperwhite "makes the device smaller and lighter than it would otherwise be."


In other digital reader news, the Kindle DX "is no longer available for purchase from Amazon; it's only being sold used through third party merchants," the eBook Reader blog reported, adding that on the company's website, "there's no mention of the Kindle DX coming back in stock, and it has been removed from the Kindle family box and all the Kindle comparison tables at Amazon--certainly not the sign of a simple stock shortage."

Candlewick Press (MA): The Real Dada Mother Goose: A Treasury of Complete Nonsense by Jon Scieszka, illustrated by Julia Rothman

NCIBA Part Two: The Old, the New and the Buzz

It might seem odd that Hut Landon, executive director of the Northern California Independent Booksellers Association, opened the membership meeting at the group's annual trade show, held last week in South San Francisco, by announcing he had bought a book from Amazon--but so he did. Landon said he not only bought a book from Amazon, he paid sales tax on it--the point of the exercise--to commemorate the end of a long battle to require the e-tailer to collect California sales taxes.

"I had wanted to buy a copy of Jeff Bezos Is a Short, Bald Idiot or Amazon the Bully," said Landon, naming fictitious titles he'd wished Al Franken might have written, but he settled instead for buying Local Dollars, Local Sense: How to Shift Your Money from Wall Street to Main Street and Achieve Real Prosperity--A Community Resilience Guide by Michael Shuman (Chelsea Green), for which he paid $1.31 in tax.

Dan Cullen spoke for the American Booksellers Association when he expressed "galaxies of gratitude" for NCIBA's 12-year effort to get California to require Amazon collect sales tax. "As goes California, so goes the nation," Cullen said, adding that after the election the ABA would focus its efforts on getting bills passed in the Senate and House to continue the Amazon tax campaign.

In the old/new news category, this NCIBA show marked an exit for Carol Seajay (at left in photo), who is leaving her part-time administrative position with the association to pursue an independent bookkeeping business, and an introduction to Elsa Eder (right), who is taking over Seajay's post. Eder comes to NCIBA with a background in independent film and video companies.

NCIBA also announced it will move its awards for books and booksellers to its spring meeting and plans for a pilot program with Goodreads. Landon explained that booksellers who want to participate will be asked to display the award-winning Goodreads books in 22 categories in their stores in December. "The more [bookstores involved] the merrier," said Landon. "In return [Goodreads] will promote the hell out of it." Goodreads has 10 million members, with hundreds of thousands in Northern California to be targeted in the pilot program.

At the University and Small Press rep session, Cynthia Frank from Cypress House got the ball rolling by naming Understanding Each Other After 9-11: What Everyone Should Know About the Religions of the World by Kirk Heriot (Lost Coast Press, May) as her pick in the "Food for Thought" category. For Chronicle Books, Anna-Lisa Sandstrum picked Be Good: How to Navigate the Ethics of Everything by former New York Times Ethics columnist Randy Cohen; the book claims, she said, that the average person tells two lies per day. From the rep group Book Travelers West, Phoebe Gaston picked The Art of Procrastination by John Perry (Workman).

Craig Popelars with Eureka Books owner/author Amy Stewart, who served up drinks from her The Drunken Botanist (Algonquin, 2013), getting everyone in the mood for book buzz.

Columbia University Press rep Will Gawronski noted that China's Terracotta Warriors by Liu Yang (University of Washington) is timed for the final U.S. exhibit at the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco before it returns to Beijing. While pitching The Richard Burton Diaries (Yale University), rep Patricia Nelson said the actor's omnivorous reading habits interested her most. "He writes about reading Octavio Paz while Liz is reading The Godfather and calling it trash, but couldn't put it down," said Nelson.

Among the children's indie press picks, Ingram's Julia Cowlishaw shared the word-on-a-page versions of Pride and Prejudice and Moby Dick, in the Cozy Classics series published by Simply Read Books. Bob Ditter from Ditter/Imprint Group West picked Squeak, Rumple, Whomp! Whomp! Whomp! by Wynton Marsalis (Candlewick)--"absolutely the coolest individual you will ever meet"--for the "Book I Want Everyone to Read" category.

On the children's/YA panel, Scholastic rep Roz Hilden practically had everyone in tears when she shared the book she wanted everyone to read: Skinny by Donna Conner. In it, a teen takes extreme measures to lose weight, wanting really to shed an internal voice named "Skinny" that says terrible things to her. Random House rep Dandy Conway talked about Every Day by David Levithan, which goes to the heart of identity as the main character wakes up daily in a new body--male, female, gay, straight, etc. Another book about identity was PGW's Susan McConnell's pick, Up Above and Down Below by Paloma Valdivia, from Owl Books, a publisher known more for nonfiction. In Good News, Bad News by Jeff Mack, said Chronicle's Sandstrum, there's a scene in which the pessimistic mouse finally loses it in the face of his friend the rabbit's optimism. Jim Hankey from Harper wanted everyone to read Dodger, Terry Pratchett's take on the Artful Dodger. Abrams rep Andy Weiner said he liked the strong female character in The Peculiars by Maureen Doyle McQuerry. And rounding out the kids' rep picks, S&S's Kelly Stidham wanted everyone to read The Fantastic Flying Books of Morris Lessmore by William Joyce, to get ready for a new movie based on the author's work.

Ten reps from the larger houses had their chance to pitch booksellers before the very popular author reception on Friday. And while all 10 of the reps went the extra mile for their chosen titles, Wendy Pearl's assertion about The Unchangeable Spots of Leopards by Kristopher Jansma (Viking, March 2013), a debut novel she compared to The Kite Runner and City of Thieves, stood out. "If this does not become an NCIBA bestseller and an Indie Next pick," Pearl declared, "I will eat this galley." That sure sounds like a new kind of book pitch. --Bridget Kinsella

[Note: in yesterday's reporting on NCIBA, we incorrectly referred to the publisher of 'Who Could That Be at This Hour?' (All the Wrong Questions) by Lemony Snicket. No question it's Little, Brown Books for Young Readers.]


Parallax Press: Call Me by My True Names: The Collected Poems by Thich Nhat Hanh

W.H. Smith CEO to Step Down

After a decade as CEO of British bookstore chain W.H. Smith, Kate Swann plans to leave the company June 30, 2013. Steve Clarke, managing director of the High Street division, will take over July 1, Reuters reported, adding that Swann "is credited for turning around the business, streamlining operations and initiating buyback programs that have made W.H. Smith a darling of investors and analysts."

Johnny Depp's New Publishing Imprint

Actor Johnny Depp is partnering with HarperCollins to start an imprint, Infinitum Nihil (translation: "Nothing is forever."), that will seek "authentic, outspoken and visionary ideas and voices," the Associated Press (via the Washington Post) reported. Depp's imprint shares its name with his production company.

"I pledge, on behalf of Infinitum Nihil, that we will do our best to deliver publications worthy of peoples' time, of peoples' concern, publications that might ordinarily never have breached the parapet," Depp said. "For this dream realized, we would like to salute HarperCollins for their faith in us and look forward to a long and fruitful relationship together."

One of Infinitum Nihil's inaugural projects is The Unraveled Tales of Bob Dylan by Douglas Brinkley, scheduled for a 2015 release. In addition, Dylan and Brinkley are collaborating on the editing and publication of Woody Guthrie's novel House of Earth, which was completed by the legendary musician in 1947 but only recently discovered, the AP wrote. That book will be published early next year.

G.L.O.W. - Galley Love of the Week
Be the first to have an advance copy!
The Survivalists
by Kashana Cauley
GLOW: Soft Skull: The Survivalists by Kashana Cauley

Aretha is a young Black lawyer whose single-minded dream of corporate success is challenged when she finds herself falling for Aaron, a doomsday prepper and illegal gun-stockpiler. While one dream unravels for her, an entirely new world unfurls--with darkly humorous explorations of race, privilege and friendship. With The Survivalists, Kashana Cauley, a former The Daily Show writer, makes her sparkling literary debut. Mensah Demary, editor-in-chief at Soft Skull, says there was "absolute, full-throated support and excitement from the minute the acquisition was announced internally," because of Cauley's observant, edgy writing and the important questions she raises about how to survive in 21st-century America as a Black woman. With a sharp sense of humor and insightful storytelling, Kashana Cauley has written a bold novel that will entertain and captivate. --Grace Rajendran

(Soft Skull, $27 hardcover, 9781593767273, January 10, 2023)


Shelf vetted, publisher supported


Lyon Books Best Bookstore in Chico

Congratulations to Lyon Books & Learning Center, Chico, Calif., voted best bookstore in Chico by News Review readers. "This vibrant independent book shop is loved by Chicoans for its great selection of new and used books (including a great used children's book section!), magazines, cards and interesting novelty-gift items. Its focus on local--local authors, local musicians' CDs, local greeting-card artists--is dedicated and refreshing. Periodic book signings and presentations by local and more widely known writers round out Lyon’s compelling offerings."

Barnes & Noble came in No. 2, and The Bookstore was No. 3.

Cool Idea of the Day: A Bookish 'Ladies Night Fashion Show'

Shelly Plumb's Harleysville Books, Harleysville, Pa., recently co-hosted a "Ladies Night Fashion Show" with Your Best Image, a neighboring boutique, to raise funds for Susan G. Komen for the Cure. "Customers of both stores--who were also breast cancer patients or survivors--modeled outfits provided by the boutique with books in hand selected by Plumb," Bookselling This Week reported.

"The women that came out had a great time," said Plumb. "They supported their friends and had a fun night out for a good cause. It was most definitely successful, and we do hope to do this again." A similar event is planned for February, and Plumb "hopes to raise money for another women-focused organization, such as a local women's shelter," BTW noted.

Emma Thompson on Reading Peter Rabbit: 'Take It Slow'

"Take it slow, much slower than you think. Give them plenty of time to look at the pictures and sort of extrapolate from the pictures," Oscar-winning actress and author Emma Thompson told NPR's Renee Montagne in an interview on Morning Edition yesterday, where she talked about her new book The Further Tale of Peter Rabbit.
We loved her answer to the question of how the publisher, Frederick Warne & Co., approached her about writing a new Peter Rabbit book: "It wasn't a formal letter as such," she said. "It wasn't a 'Dear Ms. Thompson, would you consider blah' from the publishers. It was a little box with two half-eaten radishes in it and a letter from Peter Rabbit. And the child part of me, I think, actually believed it had come from Peter Rabbit himself. And that got past my defenses and my fear for long enough for me to say, 'OK, well, I'll have a go.' "

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Bill O'Reily on Katie

This morning on Imus in the Morning: Mark Bowden, author of The Finish: The Killing of Osama Bin Laden (Atlantic Monthly Press, $26, 9780802120342). He is also on MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews tomorrow.


Today on NPR's Fresh Air: Jack Bishop and Bridget Lancaster, among the authors of The Science of Good Cooking (Cook's Illustrated, $40, 9781933615981).


Tomorrow on Current's Viewpoint with Elliot Spitzer: Antonio Mendez, co-author of Argo: How the CIA and Hollywood Pulled Off the Most Audacious Rescue in History (Viking, $26.95, 9780670026227).

Also on Viewpoint: Chrystia Freeland, author of Plutocrats: The Rise of the New Global Super-Rich and the Fall of Everyone Else (Penguin Press, $27.95, 9781594204098).


Tomorrow on Katie: Bill O'Reilly, co-author of Killing Kennedy: The End of Camelot (Holt, $28, 9780805096668).


Tomorrow night on the Daily Show: Nate Silver, author of The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail--But Some Don't (Penguin Press, $27.95, 9781594204111).

Movie Visuals: 50 Count 'Em 50 Cloud Atlas Pics

Cloud Atlas, the film adaptation of David Mitchell's novel, opens Friday, and Warner Bros. "has dropped a virtual atlas load (we're so clever) of new images that take you into every nook and cranny of the movie without any regard for spoilers or saving some surprises for the cinema," Indiewire reported.

Books & Authors

Attainment: New Titles Out Next Week

Selected new titles appearing next Monday and Tuesday, October 22 and 23:

'Who Could That Be at This Hour?' (All the Wrong Questions) by Lemony Snicket, illustrated by Seth (Little, Brown, $15.99, 9780316123082) is the first volume in a tetralogy.

Back to Blood: A Novel by Tom Wolfe (Little, Brown, $30, 9780316036313) chronicles an eccentric cast of Miami characters.

The Racketeer by John Grisham (Doubleday, $28.95, 9780385535144) follows a jailed former lawyer with information about a judge's murder.

Why I Left Goldman Sachs: A Wall Street Story by Greg Smith (Grand Central, $27.99, 9781455527472) expands on an explosive March New York Times Op-Ed piece revealing a toxic culture inside Goldman Sachs.

The Onion Book of Known Knowledge: A Definitive Encyclopaedia of Existing Information by the Onion (Little, Brown, $29.99, 9780316133265) is the latest comedic compendium from America's most fake news source.

Cézanne: A Life by Alex Danchev (Pantheon, $40, 9780307377074) is a portrait of the French painter.

The Selvage: Poems by Linda Gregerson (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $23, 9780547750095) is her first collection since Magnetic North.

Now in paperback:

Lone Wolf: A Novel by Jodi Picoult (Emily Bestler/Atria, $16, 9781439102756).

Reflected in You: A Crossfire Novel by Sylvia Day (Berkley, $15, 9780425263914).

Book Review

Review: The Stockholm Octavo

The Stockholm Octavo by Karen Engelmann (Ecco, $26.99 hardcover, 9780061995347, October 23, 2012)

The Stockholm Octavo, Karen Engelmann's impressive debut, is as marvelously and intricately constructed as the mysterious form of divination it's named for. As a young bachelor searches for his fate in the rococo ballrooms and shadowy taverns of Sweden's Gustavian age, Engelmann weaves in a fastidiously researched (and thrillingly written) story where regimes are toppled by the delicate flutter of a lady's fan and destinies revealed with the turn of a card.

Engelmann's narrator is man-about-town Emil Larsson, a contented bachelor and skilled gambler with a well-ranking bureaucratic job in the final decade of the 18th century, as fashionable Stockholm--called the "Town"--begins to feel the rumbles of revolution from distant France. "I have pieced the story together from fragments of memory--most with a tendency to flatter the memoirist," Emil warns in his preface. He supplements these "fragments" with information gathered from various sources, which he lists at the beginning of each chapter.

It all begins when Mrs. Sofia Sparrow, fortune-teller and proprietress of the exclusive gaming house where Emil spends much of his time, lays for him an octavo--a spread of eight cards, each representing a person destined to help bring about an event that will lead to transformation and rebirth for the seeker. "Think of it as destiny, partnering with free will," Mrs. Sparrow explains. Her vision for Emil, the resolution of the transformative event at the heart of his octavo, is simple: love and connection. If Emil can find his Eight, his good fortune will be realized.

But as Emil searches, conspirators threaten to end King Gustav III's golden reign and plunge Sweden into chaos. Emil's Eight--friends and traitors alike--are indelibly tied to the fate of the kingdom. Among them are an icy, conniving baroness, a French fan maker and his kind wife, a beautiful and ambitious war widow, a cross-dressing calligrapher and a shrewd runaway girl. As Emil identifies them one by one, and the Octavo's deeper powers are revealed, it becomes clear that there is far more at stake than his own happiness.

Emil is a good (if not entirely reliable) storyteller, but we must credit Engelmann for the rich prose, sensuous descriptions and the vivid, disparate characters that populate the novel. A true pleasure from beginning to satisfying end, The Stockholm Octavo will delight not only historical fiction fans but also readers with a taste for political intrigue--aided by the mysterious powers of cartomancy. --Hannah Calkins

Shelf Talker: Conspiracy brews underneath the chandeliers and across the gaming tables of 18th-century Stockholm, in a debut novel alight with color and magic.

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