Shelf Awareness for Monday, June 24, 2013

Viking: The Bookshop: A History of the American Bookstore by Evan Friss

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

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

Blue Box Press: A Soul of Ash and Blood: A Blood and Ash Novel by Jennifer L Armentrout

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

Minotaur Books: The Dark Wives: A Vera Stanhope Novel (Vera Stanhope #11) by Ann Cleeves

Quotation of the Day

'The Real Value of Physical Books and Physical Bookshops'

"I hope that the two already magnificent publishing houses can become greater than the sum of their parts. I hope they recognize the real value that physical books and physical bookshops bring to the long-term health of our trade."

--Patrick Neale, president of the U.K.'s Booksellers Association and co-owner of Jaffe & Neale Bookshop and Cafe, Chipping Norton, in a Bookseller article that asked a range of industry insiders what the new management team forged from the Penguin Random House merger should do.

BINC: Do Good All Year - Click to Donate!


World's Ugliest Dog and Book Have Their Day

The last week has been "an incredibly wild ride" for Vicki DeArmon, marketing and events director at Copperfield's Books, which has six stores in Sonoma and Napa counties in northern California, and author of World's Ugliest Dogs, just out from Lyons Press/Globe Pequot ($12.95, 9780762792559). The 25th annual World's Ugliest Dog Contest, held at the Sonoma-Marin Fair in Petaluma and produced by DeArmon for the past seven years, was held on Friday, and Walle, a mutt from Chico, was crowned top ugliest dog of the year. "I've done a token of outreach, and the media has gotten bigger every year," DeArmon said. "But this year it went way off the charts. I've probably slept four hours in five days."

On Saturday, the day after the contest, DeArmon, Walle and Walle's owner, Tammie Barbee, took a flight to New York for Walle to appear on the Today Show both yesterday and this morning--with a mention of the book yesterday and, hopefully, an on-camera appearance by DeArmon this morning. "I had to call work and say I didn't think I'd be in on Monday," she said with a laugh. At the same time, Good Morning America and World News Tonight with Diane Sawyer ran segments on the contest, Fox is booking something, Jimmy Kimmel will have Walle on his show Wednesday for a beauty makeover, and media as diverse as the Huffington Post, USA Today, the Los Angeles Times and Parade have mentioned the contest. Media from around the world have called, chomping for comment. "I thought it would be only 15 minutes of fame, but it's going a little longer," DeArmon commented. "It's captured the imagination of the world. In hard news times, it's the kind of story that makes people laugh."

The media explosion is in part because of the appearance of the book, which DeArmon called "a small, cute book, my whimsical take on the contest" that includes many pictures and profiles of dogs and owners over the years. "The book is fun and lets the chuckles last for the rest of the year," she added. In a kind of tag team effort, Sharon Kunz at Lyons has pitched the book while DeArmon has pitched the contest--and their dogged work has paid off. "It's a PR person's dream come true," DeArmon said. "You're pitching them all the time, and now they're calling you. It's like winning the lottery after buying a lot of tickets."

The only downside of the media explosion is that DeArmon had begun booking "pawtographing" appearances at independent bookstores--which could enliven the dog days of summer--but that effort had to be put on hold for at least a few days. Her first bookstore pawtographing is scheduled for tomorrow night at Copperfield's Montgomery Village store in Santa Rosa.

DeArmon emphasized that the contest and the ugliest dog concept is a case of the bark being worse than the bite. "There are some fiercely wagging tails at the contest," she said. "We love these dogs." Many of the supposedly ugly dogs are cute, she continued. Walle, this year's winner, is "probably the cutest ugly dog we've ever had." (Judge Brian Sobel said Walle--part beagle, basset and boxer--"looked like he's been photoshopped with pieces from various dogs and maybe a few other animals." For a hilarious, loving video of the contest, click here.)

The genesis of World's Ugliest Dogs came on a flight to last year's BEA, when DeArmon sat next to former Cody's Books owner, now literary agent Andy Ross, who encouraged her to write a book about the contest. "For six months, he hounded me, and I mean hounded," she said. DeArmon finally agreed, Globe Pequot bought the proposal and then DeArmon scrambled to finish it in two months so it could appear in time for this year's ugliest dog contest.

DeArmon has been working on a novel, which she called "my thing," and hopes that tale will have its day so "I won't be known as the dog lady forever." --John Mutter

GLOW: Milkweed Editions: Becoming Little Shell: Returning Home to the Landless Indians of Montana by Chris La Tray

France Will Challenge Amazon's Discount/Free Delivery Bundle

The French government plans to introduce a law preventing Amazon from offering both discounts and free delivery for books sold in the country, Reuters reported, noting that culture minister Aurelie Filippetti said the government was "looking for the right time" to introduce a ban on the practice.

"I'm in favor of ending the possibility of offering both free delivery and a five percent discount," she said. "We need a law, so we're going to find a legislative window to introduce one."

Retailers in France cannot discount books more than 5% from publisher's suggested retail "to prevent small sellers from being crushed by giant retailers that can absorb bigger discounts," Reuters wrote. Guillaume Husson, spokesman for the SLF book retailers' union, said that bundling the discount with free delivery is "unfair... No other book retailer, whether a small or large book or even a chain, can allow itself to lose that much money."

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

Obituary Note: Parke Godwin

Parke Godwin, the World Fantasy Award-winning author who left behind a "legacy of extraordinary novels spanning many genres, including thrillers, social and religious satire, science fiction, historical romance and historical fantasy," died June 19, io9 reported. He was 84.


Image of the Day: All About the Books--and Poise

Author/illustrator Aaron Becker wasn't thrown when the projector refused to work at the New England Independent Booksellers Association's day-long author/educational event "All About the Books," held in Sturbridge, Mass., on June 19. He delighted the crowd by holding up his laptop for the attendees and narrating the trailer for his new picture book, Journey, coming from Candlewick Press in August.

Northshire Bookstore: Saratoga Springs, Meet Neil Gaiman

More than a month before the planned opening of its second location, in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., the Northshire Bookstore, Manchester Center, Vt., formally introduced itself to the Spa City with an impressive author event last Thursday featuring Neil Gaiman, who is currently on his "last signing tour" promoting his novel The Ocean at the End of the Lane. A crowd of more than 1,500 at the Saratoga City Center cheered opening remarks from Northshire's co-owner Chris Morrow, then offered a roaring welcome to Gaiman.

Morrow told Saratoga Wire he thought the night was "fantastic. It was everything we could have hoped for in terms of turn-out. Neil was on his game. It was a great way to start our journey in Saratoga Springs."

The Northshire Saratoga Facebook page featured a photo of the weary but happy booksellers who worked the event with Gaiman after the signing: "Most of the Northshire staff with Neil Gaiman at the end of last night (actually, very early this morning, 12:15 AM!). An amazing author, incredible fans (over 1,600!), and so much fun!"

'Fiercely Funny & Indie Vibe' at hello hello books

Hello hello books, Rockland, Maine, was one of the stops for the Penobscott Bay Pilot's "Coffee Fiend" in a new series offering the "vacation-staycation locals' guide to the Midcoast."

The Coffee Fiend recommended a midmorning walk "all the way down to the end of Main Street for a second cup of local coffee at Rock City Coffee and check out the 'small but powerful' independent book store in the back area, hello hello, which is less than two years old, but has already been noticed by the New York Times and Boston Globe for its fiercely funny and indie vibe. (If owner Lacy Simons is behind the counter, which she usually is, you'll know her by her black glasses and the chunky Manic Panic stripe in her chestnut hair.) Tell her we sent you: she'll have the best book recommendations."

IPG Distributing Blue Manatee Press

Effective immediately, Blue Manatee Press, a publisher of children's board books and middle grade paperback titles, is being distributed by Independent Publishers Group.

Founded in 2011, Blue Manatee Press grew out of Blue Manatee Children's Bookstore & Decafé in Cincinnati, Ohio, which has been in business for more than 20 years. The publisher is led by Dr. John Hutton, pediatrician and bookseller, and the team consists of experts in child development, children's literature, fine art, art education and toy design. Blue Manatee Press aims to publish books that "nurture multi-sensorial experience and imagination." Its Baby Unplugged series emphasizes the importance of minimizing electronic screen time in childhood development, and promotes reading and play as healthy, celebrated alternatives.

Media and Movies

TV: Under the Dome

Under the Dome, a 13-part series based on Stephen King's novel (media tie-in edition available from Gallery Books), premieres tonight on CBS at 10 p.m. In a positive review, the New York Times wrote: "You can say goodbye to your next two Monday nights, and possibly--if past for once is not precedent--the whole summer's worth."

From Steven Spielberg's Amblin Television, the series "has a cinematic pedigree that gives it a good shot at transcending superficiality," the Times added, praising screenwriter Brian K. Vaughan (Lost) and a "pretty appealing" cast that includes Mike Vogel, Britt Robertson, Alexander Koch, Rachelle Lefevre (A Gifted Man) and Dean Norris (Breaking Bad). 

Media Heat: James Patterson on the Today Show

This morning on the Today Show: James Patterson, co-author of Second Honeymoon (Little, Brown, $28, 9780316211222) and Middle School: How I Survived Bullies, Broccoli and Snake Hill (Little, Brown, $14, 9780316231756). He will also appear on Marketplace with Kai Ryssdal.


Today on NPR's Fresh Air: Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson, co-author of Mo' Meta Blues: The World According to Questlove (Grand Central, $26, 9781455501359). He will also appear tomorrow night on the Daily Show.


Today on NPR's Diane Rehm Show: Mary Louise Kelly, author of Anonymous Sources (Gallery, $26, 9781476715544).


Today on a repeat of Dr. Oz: Ian K. Smith, author of Shred: The Revolutionary Diet: 6 Weeks 4 Inches 2 Sizes (St. Martin's Press, $24.99, 9781250035868).


Today on ESPN's Dan Patrick Show: Chris Kluwe, author of Beautifully Unique Sparkleponies: On Myths, Morons, Free Speech, Football, and Assorted Absurdities (Little, Brown, $27, 9780316236775). He will also appear today on Bravo's Watch What Happens Live and tomorrow on CNN's The Lead with Jake Tapper.


Today on MSNBC's the Cycle: Jonathan Alter, author of The Center Holds: Obama and His Enemies (Simon & Schuster, $30, 9781451646078). He will also appear on Current's Joy Behar and C-SPAN's Washington Journal.


Tonight on the Colbert Report: Andrew Solomon, author of Far from the Tree: Parents, Children and the Search for Identity (Scribner, $37.50, 9780743236713).


Tomorrow morning on CBS This Morning: John S. Hendricks, author of A Curious Discovery: An Entrepreneur's Story (HarperBusiness, $28.99, 9780062128553).


Tomorrow morning on the Today Show: Sue Halpern, author of A Dog Walks into a Nursing Home: Lessons in the Good Life from an Unlikely Teacher (Riverhead, $26.95, 9781594487200).


Tomorrow on the View: Nik Wallenda, co-author of Balance: A Story of Faith, Family, and Life on the Line (FaithWords, $22, 9781455545513).


Tomorrow on a repeat of Dr. Oz: Jennifer Landa, co-author of The Sex Drive Solution for Women: Dr. Jen's Power Plan to Fire Up Your Libido (Atlantic, $19.95, 9781601387189).

Also on Dr. Oz: Lisa Lillien, author of Hungry Girl 200 Under 200 Just Desserts: 200 Recipes Under 200 Calories (St. Martin's Griffin, $19.99, 9780312676742).

Books & Authors

Awards: Kyoto Prize Winner

The winner in the basic science category of this year's Kyoto Prizes is Pennsylvania State University professor Masatoshi Nei, whose new book is Mutation-Driven Evolution (Oxford University Press, $89.95, 9780199661732). Professor Nei was honored for his "research on the evolution of biological populations using quantitative analyses of genetic variation and evolutionary time."

The Kyoto Prizes recognize "people who have contributed significantly to the progress of science, the advancement of civilization, and the enrichment and elevation of the human spirit" and are sponsored by the Inamori Foundation. Winners receive a diploma, gold medal and 50 million yen (about $US500,000).

Book Review

Review: & Sons

& Sons by David Gilbert (Random House, $27 hardcover, 9780812993967, July 23, 2013)

David Gilbert's novel & Sons explores the existential tension between literary fame and family legacy for A.N. Dyer, an elderly writer whose double-initial moniker and early success are reminiscent of J.D. Salinger's, but whose seclusion is provided by a doorman-guarded duplex with views of Central Park rather than a hard-to-find house in the New Hampshire woods. Now in poor health, 79-year-old Dyer has mounted a late campaign to connect his semi-estranged adult sons Richard and Jamie with their half-brother Andy, the extramarital progeny whose surprise existence impelled their mother to divorce Dyer 17 years earlier. As the title promises, & Sons is as much about the exploits of this second-and-a-half generation as the preoccupations of its pater.

Several sleights of narrative advance & Sons beyond dysfunctional prepster family realism. Gilbert (The Normals, Remote Feed) filters the story through Philip Topping, the son of A.N.'s recently deceased childhood buddy and a Dyer-son wannabe from way back. Topping's omniscient perspective on the Dyers and their interior lives, permeated with covetousness and bile yet occasionally pathetic, creates a fluctuating schism in the reader's sympathies. Gilbert also embeds clue-filled excerpts from Dyer's megaselling novel Ampersand and scatters a trail of facsimile correspondence and sly literary references. Most daringly, the novel's biggest narrative mischief reveals itself at the halfway point, when a seminal plot point reconfigures & Sons both backward and forward.

Within all this narrative layering, & Sons delivers set pieces worthy of an anthropologically minded gossip columnist. There's a funny yet painful Culver City screenplay meeting, three dramatic funerals, prep school bullying, adolescent Central Park odysseys, a celebrity limo caper and a tour-de-force publishing soirée in the Frick Collection.

It takes a few scenes to acclimate to Philip's voyeur-participant perspective; after that, & Sons skates by on dialogue and free-indirect thought and spooling reverie. The passages of descriptive prose are both transparent and pleasingly juiced up. Gilbert's & Sons is the kind of book that generates that magic reading tension between impatience to know what happens next and the desire to prolong immersion as long as possible. --Holloway McCandless

Shelf Talker: Gilbert (The Normals, Remote Feed) presents a posh-WASP Manhattan novel about literary fame and paternal legacy--with a twist.

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