Shelf Awareness for Monday, October 22, 2012

Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers: Perfectly Pegasus by Jessie Sima

Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers: Perfectly Pegasus by Jessie Sima

Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers: Perfectly Pegasus by Jessie Sima

Take a Storytime Adventure into the World of Jessie Sima

Quotation of the Day

Joe Queenan on Books: 'Perfect the Way They Are'

"The world is changing, but I am not changing with it. There is no e-reader or Kindle in my future. My philosophy is simple: Certain things are perfect the way they are. The sky, the Pacific Ocean, procreation and the Goldberg Variations all fit this bill, and so do books. Books are sublimely visceral, emotionally evocative objects that constitute a perfect delivery system.

"Electronic books are ideal for people who value the information contained in them, or who have vision problems, or who have clutter issues, or who don't want other people to see that they are reading books about parallel universes where nine-eyed sea serpents and blind marsupials join forces with deaf Valkyries to rescue high-strung albino virgins from the clutches of hermaphrodite centaurs, but they are useless for people engaged in an intense, lifelong love affair with books. Books that we can touch; books that we can smell; books that we can depend on. Books that make us believe, for however short a time, that we shall all live happily ever after."

--Joe Queenan in a Wall Street Journal essay headlined "My 6,128 Favorite Books," which was adapted from One for the Books (Viking, Oct. 25)


Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers: Perfectly Pegasus by Jessie Sima


SCIBA Sails On

There's nothing like a haunted venue to spice up a trade show, and this past weekend the Southern California Independent Booksellers Association took over the historic, glamorously art deco (and a bit dingy) Queen Mary in Long Beach for its annual daylong table-top exhibit and author's feast.

Scary stories were in keeping with the mood of the show--although, thankfully, they were not scary bookselling stories, since, as the American Bookselling Association's Oren Teicher noted, sales at independent bookstores have been up about 12% this year.

Children's author Adam Gidwitz (In a Glass Grimmly, Dutton) kicked off the lunch session by sharing the real Grimm Brothers version of Cinderella. As the Grimms wrote it, he said, the beautiful (yes, beautiful) stepsisters cut off parts of their own feet to fit into the golden shoe Cinderella left behind. And instead of a fairy godmother, there is a hazel tree housing two talking doves who rat out the conniving stepsisters just in time to save the prince from choosing the wrong bride.

Lunch speakers (l.-r.) Matthew Reinhart; emcee Jennifer Worick, author of Things I Want to Punch in the Face (Prospect Park Books); Adam Gidwitz; Amity Gaige; Lemony Snicket, aka Daniel Handler; Attica Locke.

Amity Gaige talked about how, for her novel Schroder (Twelve, February 2013), she took a troubling plot twist from a newspaper clipping about the man who called himself Clark Rockefeller, who said upon his arrest that he did not regret anything, even kidnapping his daughter, because they got to travel together. "Some people think he's a monster," Gaige said of her protagonist, Eric Schroder. "Others say they can relate to him."

Later, Daniel Handler, standing in for Lemony Snicket, had a newspaper column of his own to share in which that great American philosopher Dear Abby advised a mother who had made the bad choice of holding her newborn son in one hand and her cordless phone in the other, leading to a series of unfortunate events. The first of four volumes in series of books about the young Snicket, just released by Little, Brown, is titled Who Can That Be at This Hour?

The other lunch speakers were Matthew Reinhart, who recounted how he created Star Wars: A Galactic Pop-up Adventure (Orchard/Scholastic) by hand, and Attica Locke, who had to face her own racial issues while working on her novel The Cutting Season (Dennis Lehane/Harper). In 2004, Locke said, she attended a wedding on a one-time Southern plantation that became the setting for her new novel and she found herself relating more to the white owner than she did to the slaves who once occupied the quarters that had since been replaced by a bed & breakfast. "All of this stirred up with me in this novel," she said.

Among the scary stories that came up at the rep picks session in the afternoon was one of Amy Comito's favorites from Penguin: Your House Is On Fire, Your Children All Gone by Stefan Kiesbye. "It's the scariest book I have read since The Shining." Tom Benton, the other Penguin rep sharing his picks at the session for adult books, talked about Mary Coin by Marisa Silver, in which she explores how life changed for both photographer Dorothea Lange and the subject of her Depression-era photo of a Native American mother, which became the iconic image of American poverty. Penguin's Blue Rider Press imprint will publish Mary Coin in March 2013.

The scary read Norton's Jot Murphy talked about was Spillover: Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic by David Quammen, which is about the tipping points when animal diseases cross over to humans. Karen Torres, from Hachette, mentioned the new Tom Wolfe Back to Blood as well as The Yellow Birds by Kevin Powers, a debut novel Wolfe called "The All Quiet on the Western Front for the Iraq War."

Simon & Schuster's Cheri Hickman focused on what she called a "landmark" book, Far from the Tree by Andrew Solomon (November). Hickman thinks Solomon will shine a much-needed spotlight on the topic of genetic differences between parents and children, as he did on depression in his bestselling The Noonday Demon. "You guys are so busy," she told the booksellers, "just pick one chapter and e-mail me what you think. This is the most readable book."

At the Authors Feast, Beverly Fisher from Ingram Content Group won the annual SCIBA Publisher Representative award, and she named the stunning five-volume set Modernist Cuisine at Home by Nathan Myhrvold with Maxime Bilet (The Cooking Lab) as one of her picks of the list.

The rest of the SCIBA Awards:

  • Children's picture book: I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen (Candlewick)
  • Children's novel: Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick (Scholastic)
  • Glenn Goldman Award for art, architecture and photography: Pacific Standard Time: Los Angeles Art 1945-1980, edited by Rebecca Peabody, Andrew Perchuk, Glenn Phillips, Rani Singh and Lucy Bradnock (Getty Publications)
  • Adult nonfiction: A People's Guide to Los Angeles by Laura Pulido (University of California Press)
  • T. Jefferson Parker Award for mystery: Kings of Cool by Don Winslow (S&S)
  • Adult fiction: The Barbarian Nurseries by Hector Tobar (Picador).

"This means a lot," said Winslow, "because Southern California is the spiritual home for the modern crime novel and independent booksellers are the spiritual home of Southern California."

Tobar called his award "karmic" because he and his wife have spent a lot of time and money in SCIBA bookstores buying books for themselves and three young readers they are raising in the dual cultures of Los Angeles and Latin America. "People like me--sons of immigrants--have the world open up for them because of what you do," he told the booksellers. And there was nothing scary about that. --Bridget Kinsella

photo courtesy of Prospect Park Books

Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers: Not Quite Narwhal by Jessie Sima

Amazon: New Warehouses; Shopping in Brazil; 'Author Rank'

Amazon recently hosted a grand opening for its new "mega warehouse" warehouse in San Bernardino, Calif.. The facility "covers almost a million square feet of warehouse space at the former Norton Air Force base," KPCC public radio reported, adding that part of the facility is still under construction and expected to be operational by early next year, "when the company plans to hold yet another opening day party."

Another Amazon fulfillment center has opened in Middletown, Del. The new $90-million, 1.2-million-square-foot facility employs 330 people, with additional help expected for the holiday season, the News Journal reported, noting that the first item shipped was the CD American Idol Season 11 Highlights by Phillip Phillips to a customer in Wisconsin.


Amazon is "in talks" to buy Brazilian bookseller Saraiva SA Livreiros Editores, which "publishes books and sells them on the Internet and through a store chain," Bloomberg reported, citing "a person with direct knowledge of the matter."

ZDNet observed that Saraiva "is a perfect pitch for Amazon to go for--even if it's not entirely clear what Amazon wants out of the potential acquisition. It's a near-identical clone of Amazon's front-facing online retail business, and resembles a similar business model to the retail giant five years ago. While Saraiva doesn't have a cloud infrastructure or e-book-to-tablet back-end service, what the Brazilian giant has is customers and corporate dominance, and a way in to a lucrative market."


As if authors didn't have enough reasons already to up the angst quotient in their lives, Amazon has added "Amazon Author Rank," a new feature listing the top 100 "most popular authors. Updated hourly."

photo: Rick Sforza/San Bernardino Sun


Canadian Booksellers Association in New Alliance with RCC

Faced with an uncertain financial future, the Canadian Booksellers Association has entered into a new alliance with the independent division of Retail Council of Canada.

"This new partnership with RCC, through its independent arm MyStore, is the smart move and the right move," said CBA president Mark Lefebvre. "Canada's independent book industry will be stronger than ever before, the membership of booksellers will now represent the largest group of booksellers in Canada.  We can get back to doing what we do best: fighting for members and working with publisher partners, rather than worrying about the state of operations."

Referring to a "management alliance" CBA entered with RCC in 2009, Christopher Smith, CBA v-p, observed: "If it was not for RCC, CBA would have ceased operations two years ago. Becoming a division of RCC will mean continued access to benefit programs for members, the possibility of better and more positive messaging to the Canadian public and their elected representatives, and access to the wealth of resources, knowledge and expertise available at RCC."

Under the terms of the new alliance, the CBA will have representation and a voice on the MyStore board, as well as a booksellers committee with representation from across the country.

New Look for Left Bank Books

Left Bank Books, St., Louis, Mo., has a new look, courtesy of the Bookstore Training Group of Paz & Associates, which celebrated its 20th anniversary with a "bookstore make-over" contest. The changes included making the store's stairwell more visible; painting several tables that were in storage; adding light fixtures for more visual interest; relocating the children's section to its own space; and transforming the lower level of the store into "The Underground"--a dedicated space for young adults. In addition, by repurposing furniture; rearranging and consolidating fixtures; applying several gallons of paint; adding a few decorative touches, new section signs and shelf labels; and improving product placement, each section was given a spotlight--all on a budget of $2,000.

Longtime Left Bank owner Kris Kleindienst and her partner, Jarek Steele, entered the makeover contest because they wanted the store's layout to be more customer friendly and easy to manage, to create better merchandising opportunities and to give the interior a fresh new look. A major goal was encouraging customers to go downstairs, where the store had several nonfiction categories, as well as thousands of used books. (Ergo, the custom wrought-iron railing that replaced a bookcase and half-wall--see before and after, above.)

The Paz & Associates team--owners Donna Paz and Mark Kaufman, bookstore architect Liz Dion, design specialist Rob Berlin and Franklin Fixture manufacturer Ted Baylis--chose Left Bank Books as the winner in part because they saw they could make a difference and because Paz & Associates felt the store was deserving of the prize, would commit the necessary labor to implement the team's recommendations and would apply makeover lessons to other areas of the store.

At the beginning of the makeover, the Paz & Associates team noted that Left Bank Books had too many fixtures, spinner racks and cardboard displays; some unusual architectural elements; a staircase that was difficult to see and use; and all-white walls and ceilings.

The team identified four main priorities: creating what it called a "wow!" first impression upon entering the store, adding color to the walls to draw customers further into the store, designating several focal point displays and cutting the clutter by combining categories without reducing inventory.

Kleindienst raved about the results, saying that with Paz & Associates' help, "We were able to finally achieve a beautifully thought out, relevant, unique and gorgeous new feel to our store without sacrificing our identity."

Paz & Associates offers free consultations for bookstore makeovers; call 800-260-8605 for information.

Queen Anne Books for Sale--Again

Katharine Hershey, who bought Queen Anne Books, Seattle, Wash., in April, has put the store up for sale. An attorney and former King County Superior Court commissioner, she wrote to customers, "This has not been an easy or hastily made decision, and I thank all of you for your loyalty and your commitment to Queen Anne Books during the period of time that I have been a part of the store." She added that she will be "leaving Queen Anne Books as of the end of November."

In April, Hershey said that the purchase of the store fulfilled "a lifelong dream I've had to own a bookstore, and most particularly to be a part of Queen Anne Books."

Queen Anne Books was founded in 1988 and had been owned the last 14 years by Patti McCall (and part of that time by Cindy Mitchell). Last year, the store won the WNBA's Pannell Award in the general bookstore category. Earlier this year, McCall said that the store's lease was up this month, with a five-year option.

Hershey may be reached at 206-283-5624 or

Karwoski Joins BAM as H.R. V-P

Mary Jane Karwoski has joined Books-A-Million as v-p of human resources. She will be responsible for overseeing employee relations, compensation, benefits, training and development and recruiting. Prior to joining BAM, Karwoski worked for Blockbuster as a regional director of operations and with Borders Group as director of human resources and regional sales director.


Image of the Day: Degas--Or Not?

In honor of The Art Forger by B.A. Shapiro (Algonquin), which is being published tomorrow, Porter Square Books, Cambridge, Mass., put up a display that features a Degas. A reproduction? An original? A forgery? Here booksellers Jennifer Johnston and Ellen Jarrett pose with the masterwork.


Village Voice: BookCourt Best NYC Bookstore

BookCourt in Brooklyn, N.Y., has been named best bookstore in the Village Voice's annual Best of New York feature. "Wander through the spacious bookstore, with dads pushing babies in strollers and shoppers lounging on a sofa under the skylight, and you'd never guess this place started out at a cozy 600 square feet when it opened in 1981," the Voice noted. "After Henry Zook and Mary Gannett purchased the flower shop next door in 1996 and converted the greenhouse in back into an event space in 2008, the shop now offers its well-edited selection of books and magazines in more than five times the room."

Seattle's Book-It Repertory Theatre Receives Grant

Book-It Repertory Theatre, an artists' collective founded 24 years ago in Seattle to adapt short stories for performance, will receive a three-year grant totaling $340,000 from Paul G. Allen and Jody Allen for educational performances and programs. The Seattle Times reported that the "gift (the largest in Book-It's history) will allow the company to expand its educational work beyond the Puget Sound area."

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Laurie Rubin on NPR's Diane Rehm Show

This morning on Imus in the Morning: Douglas Brunt, author of Ghosts of Manhattan: A Novel (Touchstone, $24, 9781451672596).


This morning on Fox & Friends: Peter Criss, author of Makeup to Breakup: My Life In and Out of Kiss (Scribner, $26, 9781451620825).


Today on Katie: Terri Orbuch, author of Finding Love Again: 6 Simple Steps to a New and Happy Relationship (Sourcebooks, $14.99, 9781402265679).


Today on NPR's Diane Rehm Show: Laurie Rubin, author of Do You Dream in Color?: Insights from a Girl Without Sight (Seven Stories Press, $18.95, 9781609804244).


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


Today on NPR's On Point: Timothy Egan, author of Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher: The Epic Life and Immortal Photographs of Edward Curtis (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $28, 9780618969029).


Tonight on the Daily Show: D.L. Hughely, author of I Want You to Shut the F#*k Up: How the Audacity of Dopes Is Ruining America (Crown Archetype, $25, 9780307986238).


Tomorrow morning on the Today Show: Thomas Keller, co-author of Bouchon Bakery (Artisan, $50, 9781579654351).


Tomorrow on Katie: Rod Stewart, author of Rod: The Autobiography (Crown, $27, 9780307987303).


Tomorrow on the Ellen DeGeneres Show: Victoria Jackson and Ali Guthy, authors of Saving Each Other: A Mother-Daughter Love Story (Vanguard, $25.99, 9781593157333).


Tomorrow on the Dr. Oz Show: David B. Agus, author of The End of Illness (Free Press, $15.99, 9781451610192). He will also appear on Nightline.

Also on Nightline: Eben Alexander, author of Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon's Journey into the Afterlife (Simon & Schuster, $15.99, 9781451695199).


Tomorrow night on the Colbert Report: John Grisham, author of The Racketeer (Doubleday, $28.95, 9780385535144).

Epic Movie Cameos: Stephen Colbert in The Hobbit

Stephen Colbert will make a cameo appearance in one of the final two films in Peter Jackson's Hobbit trilogy, according to the Hollywood Reporter, which added that the host of Comedy Central's Colbert Report "is a huge J.R.R. Tolkien and Lord of the Rings fan who reads Elvish."

In the November issue of Playboy magazine, Colbert admitted that Jackson "invited me to the set last year. I flew out and watched them shoot some scenes and went to some locations. I saw a 25-minute cut, and it was amazing. Jackson knows I'm a big fan of the films."

THR noted that when asked "if he was hired as an extra, Colbert smiled; and in response to the question, 'Are you telling us you're in the Hobbit movie?' he responded, with another smile, 'Could be.' " The first, Colbert-less, movie in the trilogy, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, opens December 14.

Books & Authors

Attainment: New Titles Out Next Week

Selected new titles appearing next Tuesday, October 30:

The Sins of the Mother: A Novel by Danielle Steel (Delacorte, $28, 9780385343206) explores the family of a successful but neglectful businesswoman.

The Untold History of the United States by Oliver Stone and Peter Kuznick (Gallery, $30, 9781451613513) is the companion to Showtime's documentary series.

The Christmas Kid: And Other Brooklyn Stories by Pete Hamill (Little, Brown, $25.99, 9780316232739) contains short stories set in Brooklyn throughout the 20th century.

The Liberator: One World War II Soldier's 500-Day Odyssey from the Beaches of Sicily to the Gates of Dachau by Alex Kershaw (Crown, $28, 9780307887993) follows a single soldier through multiple campaigns during World War II.

Bruce by Peter Ames Carlin (Touchstone, $28, 9781439191828) is a biography of Bruce Springsteen.

Iced: A Dani O'Malley Novel by Karen Marie Moning (Delacorte, $27, 9780385344401) continues the Fever paranormal fantasy series.

Power Play by Patrick Robinson (Vanguard, $25.99, 9781593157319) follows a Navy SEAL averting a near-future nuclear war.

Round About the Earth: Circumnavigation from Magellan to Orbit by Joyce E. Chaplin (Simon & Schuster, $35, 9781416596196) chronicles the history of global travel.

Book Review

Book Review: Mama Leone

Mama Leone by Miljenko Jergovic, trans. by David Williams and (Archipelago Books, $16 paperback, 9781935744320, October 30, 2012)

Miljenko Jergovic is no sooner born in Mama Leone than he's raising philosophical issues about God's existence. With surreal, self-reflective twists, the Croatian author's chain of linked stories delights in a child's misinterpretation of the world. From little Miljenko's conclusion that a suckling roast is a cooked naughty baby to his fear of pooping out his soul, Jergovic's perfectly child-size skewed vision of life is constantly in play.

Miljenko is shuttled back and forth between Drvenik and Sarajevo, between mother and father and between his parents and his larger-than-life beloved grandparents (not to mention various eccentric aunties). He's a precocious mischief-maker, prone to leaping to conclusions, disappointed when his mother can't read his letter of nonsense squiggles, scared when his uncle tosses him in the air that he'll get stuck on the ceiling like the saints. When he's not releasing live crabs into the silverware drawer, he's playfully putting a pistol to his mother's temple.

Startling, irrepressibly droll, Mama Leone is brimming over with character-rich moments, like the story of the German prisoner who falls in love with--and marries--his female partisan guard. Jergovic's narrative voice bubbles with childlike invention. "The river stunk like a million people had forgotten to flush a million toilets," he writes; or "I love the llama because he spits at his visitors. Running away from his spit is the best time you can have in the whole zoo."

The second half of Mama Leone offers sadder tales about Bosnians living in exile in other countries, separated from their loved ones by the war--old women deteriorating in unfamiliar cities; a married woman trying to start over in a wheelchair; a man in a tram station with no papers, no money and nowhere to sleep. The final tale, however, is one of Jergovic's best, the story of Lotar, the strongest man in Bosnia, and his intemperate, consuming love for the woman who could break every man's heart but one.

What does the title have to do with all this? "Mama Leone" is a famous Italian pop song that may have something to do with the stories--although not even the author is sure. Elliptical and frequently poignant, packed with swiftly sketched vignettes of Croatian life, Mama Leone is constantly surprising and always compassionate in its portrayal of the victims and survivors of Jergovic's war-torn homeland. --Nick DiMartino

Shelf Talker: A delightful chain of linked Croatian childhood memories told with a child's comic misunderstanding, followed by sad, independent tales of displaced Bosnian survivors.


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