Shelf Awareness for Friday, April 26, 2013

Margaret K. McElderry Books: Vespertine by Margaret Rogerson

Henry Holt & Company: Mihi Ever After (Mihi Ever After #1) by Tae Keller, illustrated by Geraldine Rodríguez

Berkley Books: River Sing Me Home by Eleanor Shearer

Oxford University Press, USA: The World According to Proust by Joshua Landy

Chronicle Chroma: Bob Willoughby: A Cinematic Life by Bob Willoughby

Charlesbridge Publishing: Forever Cousins by Laurel Goodluck, illustrated by Jonathan Nelson

Tor Teen: The Luminaries by Susan Dennard

Quotation of the Day

Poetry & Feminist Bookstores: 'Time to Own It'

"The story of poetry in feminist bookstores turns out to include not just Rich and Lorde, but Olds and Ostriker, Paredez and Bashir, even Young and Kooser. If you are a poet, chances are you owe at least some of your audience--and probably some of your education too--to a feminist bookstore. Time to own it."

--Lisa L. Moore in her Los Angeles Review of Books essay "The Dream of a Common Bookstore"  

Scribe Us: Our Members Be Unlimited: A Comic about Workers and Their Unions by Sam Wallman


Amazon's First Quarter: Sales Rise, Income Falls

In the first quarter ended March 31, Amazon's net sales rose 22%, to $16.07 billion, and net income fell 37%, to $82 million. The sales gain was $90 million less than analysts' expectations, but earnings were double expectations.

The company predicted that net sales in the second quarter will grow 13%-26% to between $14.5 billion and $16.2 billion.

Sales in the media category, which includes books, rose 7% in the quarter, compared to a gain of 22% in the same quarter a year ago. (Stronger foreign exchange rates were partly responsible for the poor comparison.) Media accounted for 31% of overall sales, down from 36% in the same quarter a year ago. Excluding the effect of foreign exchange rates, international media grew 7% and North American media grew 14%.

Flyaway Books: The Coat by Séverine Vidal, illustrated by Louis Thomas

Miriam Sontz Named Powell's CEO

Powell's Books, Portland Ore., has promoted COO Miriam Sontz to the position of CEO. She replaces Emily Powell, who has been serving as CEO since 2010 and now plans to step fully into her role as owner.  

"In Miriam's 28 years at Powell's she has held many roles--from Beaverton store manager to co-CEO," Powell noted in a memo to employees. "Powell's owes much of its arc through life to Miriam--to her persistent, loving dedication to Powell's, to bookselling, and to integrity. Those of you who work with Miriam will also know that she is a truly remarkable leader and mentor. I am grateful for her many contributions and thrilled that she will now take the reins as Powell's CEO."

Sontz expressed excitement about her new role and the company's future: "I look forward to steering Powell's Books forward through our ever-changing book industry. We are well-positioned to continue efficiencies around operations so we can focus on our customers. Highlighting and expanding the unique experience people have when shopping at Powell's is our top priority."

Powell's Books remains a family-owned business, with Emily as the third-generation owner of the company, which was founded by her grandfather Walter and managed for decades by her father, Michael.

PNBA Holiday Catalog 2022

BEA: Global Market Forum to Focus on Mexico

BookExpo America's Global Market Forum, which honors countries from around the world by providing educational panels and cultural exchange opportunities, will focus this year on Mexico, which had a book market worth 10,084 million pesos ($830 million) in 2011 and has grown 2.7% in volume and 13.2% in value since 2010. In recent years, the Global Market Forum has hosted Russia (2012), Italy (2011) and Spain (2010).

Programs on Wednesday, May 29, will highlight Mexican publishing and business opportunities for professionals from both countries. Discussions will offer an overview of the Mexican publishing and book market; introduce main players as well as new innovative editorial ventures; analyze Mexican government action to foster reading and books, children's books as well as digital; and explore ways to overcome the current restrictions in the mutual exchange in books.

Obituary Note: Greg Euson

Greg Euson, whose career in publishing spanned almost 40 years and included working for Random House, Houghton Mifflin, NTC Contemporary and McGraw-Hill, died last week. He was 61. Euson retired from McGraw-Hill last year.


Image of the Day: 'Funnest Book Event Ever!'

An author event that the King's English Bookshop, Salt Lake City, had originally planned for Jonathan Evison and the paperback edition of The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving was supposed to be held at the Kennecott Copper Mine, one of the places some of his characters visit but that Evison had never seen.

"Then came the seismic collapse at the mine and the closure of the visitors center and any tourist access!" recalled Jenny Lyons, the bookstore's marketing manager. "So we revised our fundamentals of the author reading, kept the rental bus and Jonnny and his loyal readers headed out to Copperton, a unique company town built by Kennecott (Utah Copper), east of the open-pit mine in Bingham Canyon.

"Evision read from the book on the road, and fellow travelers ate, drank and were merry. Everyone loved him, of course, and for the finale, we found the Ode to Bookselling on someone's phone and Evison read it as the sky turned pink and the (almost) full moon rose above the Wasatch mountains. Unforgettable."

On his Facebook page, Evison later posted: "Hands down, funnest book event ever!"

Buzz for a Good Cause

At the Adult Spelling Bee produced by the Literacy Coalition of Central Texas on Tuesday night, the Kirkus Reviews/Texas Book Festival team took second place. "We lost on the word 'aglet,' " admitted Kirkus features editor Clay Smith, pictured here with Lois Kim (l.), newly named executive director of the Texas Book Festival and novelist Amanda Eyre Ward (center).  

Smith added, "And I will never forget what a stupid little aglet is from now on." The trio did take first prize for best costume (the beekeepers, l. to r.: Kim, Ward and Smith); "We apologize for making Amanda look like the Queen of the Ewoks," Smith said. The event raised nearly $80,000 for the Literacy Coalition of Central Texas.

Sherman Alexie: Bookseller for a Day

This Saturday, author Sherman Alexie is visiting Queen Anne Book Company, Seattle, Wash., where he will be "selling and signing copies of his books, doing spontaneous readings, recommending additional books and chatting with readers. Plus, according to the shop, he'll also take the floor as a bookseller for the day," the Queen Anne Review reported.

Dolphin Bookshop: Port Washington Citizens 'Want Us to Be Here'

"It might be cheaper to go online; it might be easier to go online," Patti Vunk, owner of the Dolphin Bookshop, told the New York Times, but Port Washington residents "want us to be here."

In a profile of the Long Island community, the Times noted that three years ago, "local supporters helped pack books and relocate the shop. For much of its 67-year history, it had been in a strip close to the high school; today, with its fans' backing, it has found congenial space in a revamped historic building close to the town dock on Manhasset Bay." Now Dolphin "captures the artsy aura and sense of community that define Port Washington."

Cool Ad Campaign du Jour: Literacy Is in the Eye of Beholder

An award-winning French literacy campaign by advertising agency DDB Paris "cleverly rewards closer reading," the Huffington Post reported in featuring translated versions of the brilliantly deceptive ads.

Book Trailer of the Day: A Delicate Truth

A Delicate Truth by John le Carré (Viking). The trailer was directed by Kim Gehrig and produced by le Carré's son Simon Cornwell (of Ink Factory Films). Others involved in production included James Foster (art director on Skyfall); Andy Shelley and Stephen Griffiths (sound editors on Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy); and Mark Paterson (Oscar-winning sound mixer on Les Miserables).

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Charles Graeber on CBS's 60 Minutes

Sunday on CBS's 60 Minutes: Charles Graeber, author of The Good Nurse: A True Story of Medicine, Madness, and Murder (Twelve, $26.99, 9780446505291).

Movies: Divergent Pic; Much Ado U.K. Trailer

Although filming has just begun on Divergent, the film version of the first novel in Veronica Roth's bestselling YA series, Entertainment Weekly featured an early peek with a photo of Shailene Woodley as Beatrice "Tris" Prior "facing knives."


A new U.K. trailer has been released for Joss Whedon film version of Much Ado About Nothing. "Clearly choosing to shed any of the usual toolkit he works with--the film is lensed in black-and-white and you're not going to see any explosions--the results seem to speak for themselves," Indiewire reported. "Shakespeare always seems to have the danger of sounding academic, cold and creaky, but Whedon seems to have found the drama in the dialogue, and the contemporary setting adds a nice bit of jazz to the proceedings."

Books & Authors

Awards: Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction

Don DeLillo has been named the first recipient of the Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction, which honors "an American literary writer whose body of work is distinguished not only for its mastery of the art but for its originality of thought and imagination. The award seeks to commend strong, unique, enduring voices that--throughout long, consistently accomplished careers--have told us something about the American experience." DeLillo will be presented with the new lifetime achievement award during the National Book Festival in September.

"Like Dostoyevsky, Don DeLillo probes deeply into the sociopolitical and moral life of his country," said Librarian of Congress James Billington. "Over a long and important career, he has inspired his readers with the diversity of his themes and the virtuosity of his prose."

Upon learning of the honor, DeLillo noted that he immediately thought of his parents, who immigrated from Italy: "They spoke little or no English. It was a new language and new culture and many challenges in every direction, and so I like to think of this prize as a tribute to their memory."

Book Brahmin: Patti Callahan Henry

photo: Shawn Heifert Photography

Patti Callahan Henry has published nine novels, including And Then I Found You, inspired by a true adoption story (St. Martin's Press, April 9, 2013). Henry has been shortlisted for the Townsend Prize for Fiction, and nominated four times for the Southeastern Independent Booksellers Novel of the Year. Her work has appeared in many magazines; two novels were Okra Picks; and Coming Up for Air was selected for the August 2011 Indie Next List. A full-time writer, wife and mother of three, Henry lives in Mountain Brook, Ala.

On your nightstand now:

Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden. It has been recommended to me so many times that I finally started reading it.

Favorite book when you were a child:

The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis. Oh, I loved Edward so.

Your top five authors:

C.S. Lewis--even when I don't agree with him, I am stunned by his ability to manipulate words into a coherent, but captivating whole. His ability to tell the truth in fairy tale and myth and fantasy influenced my writing and my reading permanently. Madeleine L'Engle--her search for something deeper, something underneath the words, enchants me. Stephen King and not for the horror, but for the storytelling. How does he keep me turning the pages? When I figure this out, I'll have it made. Pat Conroy for all the obvious reasons. A fifth? It's a collective fifth: my friends and cohorts who write, all of us out here trying our best to write a well-told story while living a well-lived life.

Book you've faked reading:

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Until this past month when I did read it so I could talk to my daughter (who has read it four times) in some intelligent manner.

Book you're an evangelist for:

I can't give just one! I just can't. But mostly I'll narrow it down to past and present: Beach Music by Pat Conroy; The Stand by Stephen King; A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving. And new: I Want to Show You More, stories by Jamie Quatro.

Book you've bought for the cover:

Rules of Civility by Amor Towles. The book was even better than the extraordinary cover.

Book that changed your life:

The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis. I read this book when I was very young, and re-read it numerous times as an adult. It changes meaning and significance for me through the years. This was the first book I encountered where sarcasm was acceptable and part of the story's structure. In the beginning, as a reader, I admired the story. As a writer, I admired the structure and voice. I still consider it one of the more clever stories told.

Favorite line from a book:

"We don't want to feel less when we have finished a book; we want to feel that new possibilities of being have been opened to us." --Madeline L'Engle, from Walking on Water. I read this book when I first started writing, and I've held onto this thought, to this very goal.

Book you most want to read again for the first time:

The Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick. Oh, the twists. The turns. You can't go there for the first time ever again.

Book Review

Review: Flora

Flora by Gail Godwin (Bloomsbury, $26 hardcover, 9781620401200, May 7, 2013)

Gail Godwin (Evensong; A Mother and Two Daughters) has created another atmospheric novel of place, character and time in Flora, which is narrated by a woman in her 70s recounting the formative summer of 1945.

Helen, a precocious 10-year old, has suffered irreparable and haunting losses in this fateful year. Her mother died when she was three, and her father is working on a super secret project in Oak Ridge, Tenn, so he can only come home to North Carolina--where Helen lives with her beloved grandmother Nonie--occasionally. Then Nonie dies, Helen's best friend Brian comes down with polio and another friend moves away. The combination of these losses leaves the child bereft and grieving, and then Helen's father invites his late wife's cousin to move in with her for the summer.

Flora is 22, a "simple-hearted girl," a chatterbox from Alabama not always discreet in her pronouncements, waiting for a teaching appointment for the next school year. Nonie once described her as having "the gift of tears"; indeed, it seems at times that Helen must care for her, rather than the other way around.

Helen can barely stand Flora and has a hard time welcoming her to Old One Thousand, as the falling-down house is called. To make matters worse, Helen's father is convinced Brian's polio is the sign of an epidemic, so he forbids them to go visiting, swimming or even into town. Mrs. Jones comes to clean and Finn delivers groceries; that is the sum total of their social life.

In this hermetically sealed world, Helen develops a crush on Finn and fantasizes that her father will invite him to live with them when Flora leaves. Helen and Flora learn a great deal from each other and by summer's end might even have become friends--until Helen catches Flora and Finn in an embrace. She bolts from the house and sets in motion a series of events that ends in tragedy.

Having Helen tell her story so many years after the fact is a brilliant strategy on Godwin's part--the novel is filled with sadness and regret, but also illuminated by the wisdom and understanding that distance lends. --Valerie Ryan

Shelf Talker: A haunting and intimate novel about loss and remorse, set against the final months of World War II.

Deeper Understanding

Robert Gray: In Praise of Reluctant Readers

I take neither credit nor blame for how my reading/writing mind works. Nature? Nurture? Who knows? For example, the recipe for this week's column includes the following ingredients: World Book Night, reluctant readers, oil fields, "fracking" (hydraulic fracturing), frak (Battlestar Galactica), A Sand County Almanac, Desert Solitaire and book recommendations that alter reading lives.

I spent no small part of Tuesday monitoring Twitter and Facebook for reports from the World Book Night front. Though my eyes eventually turned into charcoal briquettes from excessive on-screen time, it was also fun witnessing "live" the enthusiasm and irrepressible bookish energy of all the amazing book givers.

World Book Night's goal is to help volunteers distribute "a total of half a million books within their communities to those who don't regularly read." While the word "non-readers" appeared regularly in the posts and comments, gradually I began to pay closer attention to the phrase "reluctant readers" and its variations:

Gave out 20 copies at a book&cupcake soirée for reluctant readers!

I took some books to the gym with me as well--lots of people who said they don't really read anymore.

I thought going in to #wbn2013 tonight that I'd give copies to teen girls. Gave to mostly adults who miss reading. Many men.

Gave out copies of The Lightning Thief to a group of reluctant readers/students with learning disabilities!

Many people I met tonight said "I don't remember when I last read a book" & were excited about reading Connecticut Yankee.

When I asked if he read much, he said "no," but when I told him it was World Book Night and asked if he would read a book if I gave it to him, he said, "I would absolutely read it!" When I handed it to him, he said with such excitement, "Thank you ma'am, no one's ever given me a book before!"

Saved one for a man who told me he got back to reading after receiving a book from me last year, and had asked if he could have one this year!

Although we should never give up hope for the non-readers, WBN's volunteers reminded us once again that the "reluctant reader" category, especially among adults, is like an untapped oil field under our own backyard. Monumental efforts are underway to inspire reading among young people (Google "reluctant reader" and you'll see what I mean), but what if we could reach those reluctant adult readers more consistently? Consider the financial impact on our industry if even a small percentage of them bought just one or two or three books a year?

It would be fraking amazing, wouldn't it?

What words can do: Battlestar Galactica managed to turn fraking into the quintessential safe-for-work (SFW) obscenity. Then there's its homophone, "fracking," which is a political and environmental hot potato. This calls to mind Promised Land, a fraking fracking movie I watched recently that portrayed how easily distorted our perceptions, not to mention our preconceptions, can be of others (fracking opponents vs. proponents; readers, non-readers, reluctant readers, etc.). Reading, as you already know, is one of the best ways ever invented to see the world through disparate eyes.

Two such reading moments tidily bookend my adult life thus far. When I was student teaching in a high school many years ago, we were supposed to assign Aldo Leopold's A Sand County Almanac. One boy flat-out refused to read it. On a whim, I handed him a copy of Edward Abbey's Desert Solitaire and asked that he just check out the first chapter. Abbey's cranky voice worked. A decade later, I ran into this former student at a softball game and the first thing he said was how much he'd loved that--to use an updated and safer term--"fraking book." Still had his ragged copy.

More recently, a man having dinner at our house said he didn't like poetry because it made no sense to him. I grabbed a couple of books by Gary Snyder and David Budbill, asked him to just give them a chance. "This," he said after sampling, "I like."

It's what booksellers and librarians do every day; it's what hundreds of volunteer book givers were doing Tuesday. As WBN has once again shown us, there is a deep reserve of reluctant yet potential readers and customers out there. Isn't that the best fraking news ever? Even if we could lower their reluctance threshold just a bit, it would be a great victory. Are they worth the effort? WBN shows they are. And I think we fraking need them. --Robert Gray, contributing editor (column archives available at Fresh Eyes Now).

The Bestsellers

Top-Selling Self-Published Titles

The bestselling self-published books last week as compiled by

1. The Bet by Rachel Van Dyken
2. Life Code by Dr. Phil McGraw
3. Falling into You by Jasinda Wilder
4. Second Chance Boyfriend by Monica Murphy
5. Music of the Heart by Katie Ashley
6. Real by Katy Evans
7. Surrender Your Love by J.C. Reed
8. Game for Love (A Bad Boys of Football Contemporary Romance) by Bella Ande
9. Promise Me Darkness by Paige Weaver
10. One Week Girlfriend by Monica Murphy

[Many thanks to!]

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