Shelf Awareness for Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Scholastic Press: Beastly Beauty by Jennifer Donnelly

St. Martin's Essentials: Build Like a Woman: The Blueprint for Creating a Business and Life You Love by Kathleen Griffith

Margaret Ferguson Books: Not a Smiley Guy by Polly Horvath, Illustrated by Boris Kulikov

Bramble: Pen Pal Special Edition by J.T. Geissinger

Sourcebooks Landmark: Long After We Are Gone by Terah Shelton Harris

Soho Crime: Broiler by Eli Cranor

Berkley Books: We Love the Nightlife by Rachel Koller Croft


How Opal Tried to Salvage the Situation

Kaavya Viswanathan, the Harvard sophomore and author of How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild and Got a Life (Little, Brown, $21.95, 0316059889), "was very surprised and upset to learn that there are similarities" between her book and Sloppy Firsts and Second Helping, two novels by former Cosmopolitan editor Megan F. McCafferty, she said in a statement issued yesterday by Little, Brown.

"While the central stories of my book and hers are completely different, I wasn't aware of how much I may have internalized Ms. McCafferty's words," the statement continued. "I am a huge fan of her work and can honestly say that any phrasing similarities between her works and mine were completely unintentional and unconscious. My publisher and I plan to revise my novel for future printings to eliminate any inappropriate similarities.

"I sincerely apologize to Megan McCafferty and to any who feel they have been misled by these unintentional errors on my part."

Little, Brown publisher and senior v-p Michael Pietsch commented in a statement, "We consider this a serious matter and we are investigating it immediately.

"Kaavya Viswanathan is a decent, serious, and incredibly hard-working writer and student, and I am confident that we will learn that any similarities in phrasings were unintentional." (For the complete statements, see the Harvard Crimson Web site.)

According to today's New York Times, the "similarities" are more extensive than first reported in Saturday's Harvard Crimson. In an additional odd twist, the Times pointed out that Viswanathan shares the copyright to her novel with Alloy Entertainment, a book packaging company formerly called 17th Street Productions that was co-owned by Ann Brashares, author of the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. Viswanathan's agent, Jennifer Randolph Walsh of the William Morris Agency, who is also Brashares's agent, put Viswanathan in touch with Alloy Entertainment. Walsh says that the book's plot and writing was "1000%" Viswanathan's. If so, why does a book packager share the copyright?


In another apparent case of unintentional "similarities," today's New York Times reports that William H. Swanson, CEO of the Raytheon Co., has apologized for borrowing parts of a 1944 engineering text, The Unwritten Laws of Engineering by W.J. King, for his Swanson's Unwritten Rules of Management, a book that has been distributed for free by Raytheon. Swanson said he has added a rule: "Regarding the truisms of human behavior, there are no original rules."

University of California Press: May Contain Lies: How Stories, Statistics, and Studies Exploit Our Biases--And What We Can Do about It by Alex Edmans

Notes: College Store and Text Issues; The Works Reopens

The Brown Daily Herald explores the issues that have made the university consider outsourcing the Brown Bookstore, including improving the store and its service--and increasing its profitability and thus its financial contribution to the university, although an administrator told the paper that "increasing the financial gains was never the overriding factor behind our considerations."

An editorial in the paper urges the Bookstore Review Committee to delay a decision so that students and faculty, now distracted by "fast approaching" exams, can make their views known. The paper said that "this concern is especially pressing given that most--if not all--student mobilization on the issue has been in opposition to the committee's recommendation."


The Works, formerly Bookworks, in Pacific Grove, Calif., is reopening this coming Friday after a remodeling, according to the Monterey County Herald. New owners Robert and Leela Marcum have hired Pat Hanson, manager of the recently closed Thunderbird Bookshop, Carmel, to be manager of the Works.


A NACS's College Store magazine feature about Larry Portzline and bookstore tourism notes that his tours have included visits to the New York University and Georgetown University bookstores and emphasizes that such visits can help school-community relations and expose more potential customers to college stores.

For his part, Larry Portzline told the magazine, "One of the things I love about college stores is they have books that you're not going to find in a regular retail establishment. They're going to have very specific academic books, for example, that are geared specifically toward a college crowd, but a lot of readers want that kind of stuff and aren't necessarily going to find that in an independent bookstore or in one of the larger chains."


Today's Wall Street Journal offers an update on state and federal legislative attempts to curb textbook prices, noting that efforts so far, such as laws in Virginia and Washington, apply only to public universities. Some elements of those laws and proposed measures include avoiding unnecessary bundling or new editions of adequate texts; requiring professors to be aware of text prices; and increasing buyback options. Taking a different tack, a Connecticut legislator is pushing for increased student financial aid to pay for books and supplies.

AAP executive director for higher education Bruce Hildebrand told the paper that "it is very difficult to legislate how media will be prepared, designed and disseminated in a free-enterprise system." Anita Levy, a senior program officer at the American Association of University Professors, commented: "Faculty shouldn't be forced to negotiate with publishers to reduce the net price of textbooks."


In a related story, Sunday's New York Times caught up with e-textbooks, quoting the NACS Foundation Student Watch Campus Market Research series without mentioning it by name (the ungenerous reference is to a "college bookstore trade group"). The story paints a dim view of e-texts. For our money, based on conversations with students and comments by student debaters on the subject at CAMEX in Houston, economics are key. If e-texts are significantly cheaper than traditional textbooks, students will load up on them.


HMV Group, owner of Waterstone's and suitor of Ottakar's, responded to the announcement of a bid by Waterstone's founder Tim Waterstone and former Penguin head Anthony Forbes Watson to buy the company by saying, "We will always give proper consideration to any proposal that might enhance value for shareholders. However, we have yet to receive a formal proposal for the acquisition of Waterstone's."

In the meantime, HMV will go ahead with its plans to buy Ottakar's.

GLOW: becker&mayer! kids: The Juneteenth Cookbook: Recipes and Activities for Kids and Families to Celebrate by Alliah L. Agostini and Taffy Elrod, illus. by Sawyer Cloud

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Watergate Reunion

This morning the Today Show features that author-editor, Marlo Thomas, whose The Right Words at the Right Time, Volume 2, Your Turn! (Atria, $25, 0743497430), comes out today.

Also on the Today Show: Marti Leimbach is talking about her new book, Daniel Isn't Talking (Nan A. Talese, $22.95, 0385517513).


Today on the Early Show: Harlan Coben, whose new book is Promise Me (Dutton, $26.95, 0525949496).

Also on the Early Show: Caroline Righton, author of The Life Audit: A Step-By-Step Guide to Taking Stock, Gaining Control, and Creating the Life You Want (Broadway, $14.95, 0767923294).


Today Oprah focuses on "little geniuses," who include a few young authors:

  • Noah McCullough discusses his surprise bestseller, The Essential Book of Presidential Trivia (Random House, $9.95, 1400064821).
  • Adora Svitak, the eight-year-old writing whiz who promotes literacy and education, whose first book is Flying Fingers: Master the Tools of Learning Through the Joy of Writing (Action Publishing, $12.95, 1888045191).


Today on WAMU's Diane Rehm Show: Boris Akunin, author of The Death of Achilles (Random House, $12.95, 0812968808), the fourth novel by Grigory Chkhartishvili to feature agent Erast Petrovich Fandorin.


Tonight Larry King Live hosts John O'Connor, co-author with Mark Felt on his autobiography, A G-Man's Life: The FBI, Being 'Deep Throat,' and the Struggle for Honor in Washington (PublicAffairs, $26.95, 1586483773). Among the other guests: Bob Woodward, Carl Bernstein, Ben Bradlee, Felt's daughter Joan Felt and Nick Jones, his grandson. The segment also will air a taped interview with Felt, who is 92 and has dementia.


Tonight on the Charlie Rose Show, guest host Brian Ross of ABC News sheds some light on Efraim Halvey, former director of Israel's Mossad and author of Man in the Shadows: Inside the Middle East Crisis with a Man Who Led the Mossad (St. Martin's, $24.95, 031233771X).

G.P. Putnam's Sons: Assassins Anonymous by Rob Hart

Books & Authors

Attainment: New Books Next Week, Vol. 2

Except for the first title, which will be released on May Day, the following new nonfiction titles have laydown dates of Tuesday, May 2:

The Mighty and the Almighty: Reflections on America, God, and World Affairs by Madeleine Albright (HarperCollins, $25.95, 0060892579). Bill Clinton's Secretary of State ruminates on mixing politics and religion.


Stumbling on Happiness by Daniel Todd Gilbert (Knopf, $24.95, 1400042666). The Harvard psychology professor cheerfully tells how and why people have trouble finding happiness.


Burnt Toast: And Other Philosophies of Life by Teri Hatcher (Hyperion, $24.95, 1401302629). A Desperate Housewife tells about her journey in life.


Strange Piece of Paradise by Terri Jentz (FSG, $27, 0374134987). The screenwriter tries to come to terms with the horror that occurred in 1977 when she and a friend were attacked while camping during a cross country bicycle trip.


The Big Bam: The Life and Times of Babe Ruth by Leigh Montville (Doubleday, $26.95, 0385514379). A serenade to the Sultan of Swat.


Possible Side Effects by Augusten Burroughs (St. Martin's, $23.95, 0312315961). From the author of Running with Scissors and Magical Thinking, more autobiographical essays.


Desperate Networks: Starring Katie Couric, Les Moonves, Simon Cowell, Dan Rather, Jeff Zucker, Teri Hatcher, Conan O'Brien, Donald Trump and a Host of Other Movers and Shakers Who Changed the Face of Primetime TV by Bill Carter (Doubleday, $26.95, 0385514409). The New York Times TV reporter traces the major changes in recent years in network TV.

G.P. Putnam's Sons: Summer Romance by Annabel Monaghan

Deeper Understanding

Deb Hunter Builds a Mini-Empire

[Editors' note: the following is a two-part article. Part two will follow tomorrow.]

For the moment, Deb Hunter, known to her business associates as Top Banana, owns two bookstores, a gift shop and two warehouses, with more on the way.

"I started working for a book warehouse about eight years ago," Hunter said. "I was supposed to be a bookkeeper but ended up going right into sales because I was good at bringing in customers." Soon she realized there were more books than her then-boss was taking advantage of, and, as she put it, "I started getting ideas."

Aware that her hometown of Hillsborough, N.J., was lacking a bookstore, Hunter went into action, opening Chicklet Books in December 2004. "I had no experience running a bookstore," she commented. "I hired a manager, who really interviewed me more than I did her. I do the business end; she manages the store."

Chicklet Books is 1,300 square feet of hot pink, purple, apple green and turquoise. "The store has a boutique atmosphere and a light and easy mood," according to the Top Banana (which is what appears on Hunter's business card; she eschewed the more formal owner or CEO). "This store was set up for the soccer mom who needs to run in, pick up a book club title, maybe pick up something for the kids, and run out," she said. "She's in here fifteen, twenty minutes tops. We also do a lot of special ordering, which our customers really appreciate."

Currently remainders account for 70% of the inventory, and new books the rest. Hunter has made a customer-driven decision to shift that to 60% new, 40% remainders. She described Chicklet's bestsellers as "more or less the same as everyone else's, including all the Oprah books and book club reads. Like others, we promoted the Dummies books last month."

In March 2005, just three few months after opening Chicklet, Hunter lost her warehouse job. One day later, Hunter took the plunge and signed a lease on a warehouse of her own in Hillsborough. "I had two tractor-trailers of books coming," she said. "A friend from Kentucky came to help out, as did my three young adult children. We sorted books for two weeks straight."

The warehouse was dubbed Unique and Novel. The very colorful Web site calls it "the fun new place to purchase books!" It also says that Unique and Novel plans to "change the face of the remainder/book wholesale business." She is doing this in two ways, she said. "First, most people in remainders are older men, and I'm a young female. We're always laughing and smiling and provide customer service galore. We use a very personal approach." Second, she emphasized, "I'm there for the small stores. I require no minimum orders."

The friend from Kentucky decided the book business, at least Hunter-style, was in fact fun and encouraged Hunter to open a warehouse in Kentucky. She did, noting that doing business is much less expensive there than in New Jersey, and that many of her suppliers are in nearby Tennessee and Indiana. Her friend manages the warehouse, which is located in Erlanger. (Hunter makes monthly trips.) She counts among her current customers a wide range of remainder stores, chains and independents.

Next came Hunter's Princeton acquisition, Glen Echo Books, a 700-sq.-ft. store that she opened last October. Her two bookstores have entirely different feelings. Whereas Chicklet is full of purple, pink and green, the Princeton store is "more esoteric," in keeping with the mood of the community. It has a "somewhat funky, old world décor, sun flowers and Tuscany," Hunter said. The inventory is predominantly nonfiction--"very highbrow"--and includes a fair number of used books. Both stores have children's sections, though not surprisingly, Chicklet's is more predominant.

In addition to the bookstores and warehouses, Hunter also owns the Purple Door, a gift store across the parking lot from Chicklet Books that opened last August. And, she will open a new bookstore, Words, and coffee shop, Afterwords, in the "quaint tourist antiquing town" of Hardy, Ark., this May. Why Arkansas? "Some friends told me they needed a local bookstore and urged me to open one," said Hunter, who is one-third owner of the project. She noted that being in a tourist town will mean "a different buying strategy." Her hope is to develop a model that can be expanded to other tourist towns in the future.--Maria Heidkamp

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