Shelf Awareness for Friday, June 28, 2013


Overlook Press: Burnt Sugar by Avni Doshi

Grand Central Publishing: What's Mine and Yours by Naima Coster

Columbia Global Reports: The Socialist Awakening: What's Different Now about the Left by John B Judis

Mira Books: Her Dark Lies by J T Ellison

Shadow Mountain: Ming's Christmas Wishes by Susan L Gong, illustrated by Masahiro Tateishi

Quotation of the Day

Bookstore Customers 'Woke Up to What's Important'

"Customers are making decisions to patronize locally owned retail stores because they recognize that where they spend their money makes a difference. They've seen the closure of important local stores or institutions and kind of woke up to what's important from that regard."

--Dan Cullen, content officer for the American Booksellers Association, in "3 Reasons Why There's Hope for Independent Booksellers," in the Portland Business Journal

Britannica Books: Britannica All New Kids' Encyclopedia: What We Know & What We Don't by Britannica Group, edited by Christopher Lloyd


News

Bridgeside Books Expands

Bridgeside Books, Waterbury, Vt., which is "known among its loyal customers as a small store with a surprisingly wide selection," has doubled its size with the addition of a newly finished 800-square-foot room, the Waterbury Record reported. The new space is ready just in time for the shop's fourth-anniversary celebration, which owner Hiata Defeo will be hosting July 18.

Bridgeside Books owner Hiata Defeo.
photo: Gordon Miller/Waterbury Record

"So far, I have really just spread out and people are loving it," she said. "It's so nice to have everything easy to see and approach.... I had been running the numbers (on expanding) for awhile. By mid May, I knew I could do it."

The expanded store occupies approximately two-thirds of the 2,100 square feet Defeo is renting. The Record noted that while some of the remaining floor space will be used as a business office, "most is slated to become a bookstore café, complete with a small number of tables and chairs, serving espresso drinks, baked goods and Wifi."

Defeo cited strong local support as the key: "Folks here in our community understand the value of supporting local businesses."


GLOW: Flatiron Press: Tokyo Ever After by Emiko Jean


For Sale: Penguin Bookshop in Sewickley, Pa.

The iconic 84-year-old Penguin Bookshop, Sewickley, Pa., has been put on the market by co-owners Janet and Bud McDanel, who "put about $1 million into renovating the property when they purchased the store in 2007," the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported. They hope to sell the business by the end of the year.

"It certainly needs new, younger owners," said Janet, who is 75. "The bookstore is vital to Sewickley. It's a meeting place. We have book clubs that meet there (and) lots of events go on."

She added that they hope someone from the community will consider taking over the bookstore: "The key ingredients are all in place--a loyal customer base, a dedicated, hard-working staff and a beautiful setting. We have a wonderful staff of readers and booksellers with expertise, genuine friendliness and a desire to connect people with good books."


BINC: Help a Bookseller, Save a Bookstore - Give to BINC


Buthod Is SIBA's New 'One Book at a Time' Guru

Richard Buthod will be working with the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance as the organization's One Book at a Time Guru. In its announcement, SIBA noted that Buthod "was instrumental in bringing Common Core to the consciousness of the book industry and he will be bringing his expertise to SIBA as part of a new partnership between SIBA and the Family-to-Family organization around the One Book at a Time Literacy Program."

A number of SIBA stores are serving as test cases to promote the OBAAT program, recruiting donors and identifying organizations that serve children in need. The stores lend their expertise in choosing appropriate books for children of different age groups.  

Buthod, who has spent the past 35 years working in and selling to schools, libraries, bookstores and wholesalers, is offering his own curated list of titles grounded in the Common Core movement. He will begin working with Fiction Addiction, Greenville, S.C., Books on Broad, Camden, S.C., Parnassus Books, Nashville, Tenn., Sundial Books, Chincoteague Island, Va., Avid Bookshop, Athens, Ga., and Garden District Bookshop in New Orleans. SIBA said the goal is to have as many member stores involved when the school year begins as possible.

Buthod can be reached at Richard@sibaweb.com.


University of California Press: Beethoven, a Life (1st ed.) by Jan Caeyers, translated by Brent Annable


Amazon Launches Kindle Worlds Fan Fiction Site

Yesterday, Amazon opened its new Kindle Worlds fan fiction site with more than 50 commissioned stories, and launched the Kindle Worlds Self-Service Submission Platform for anyone interested in selling their own stories based on selected authorized media properties, including Pretty Little Liars, Gossip Girl and The Vampire Diaries.

PaidContent noted that "submitting a work to Kindle Worlds isn't the same as publishing it through KDP. Amazon Publishing retains the rights to works published through Kindle Worlds and sets their prices. Kindle Worlds also won't publish all of the works submitted to it, though the company says it aims to accept as many as possible as long as they adhere to content guidelines."


University of California Press: The Mwindo Epic from the Banyanga (1st ed.) edited by Daniel Biebuyck and Kahombo C Mateene


More U.K. Authors Linking to Indies

Some popular authors in the U.K., including Julia Donaldson, Joanne Harris and Kate Morton, "are planning on altering their websites to link to independent bookshops following complaints that they only promote Amazon and chain retailers," the Independent reported. Bookseller Keith Smith had argued "that bestselling writers support the likes of WH Smith and Waterstones 'without giving a fig' for struggling smaller shops."


Notes

Image of the Day: Wig at Warwick

On Tuesday, Warwick's, La Jolla, Calif., hosted a launch event for The Wig in the Window by Kristen Kittscher (HarperCollins), which a huge crowd, some of whom wore wigs. Here a wigless Kittscher (in front) with fans.


Congratulations (Again), Jean Haller!

Another season, another award.

Jean Haller, owner of Journeys of Life, Pittsburgh, Pa., who earlier this year won an award in the "Next Big Give," a Dallas Market Center contest that recognizes retailers who give to and impact their communities, won the Inspired Woman Award June 6 at the Inspired Women's Conference.

The award honors "a woman who shines as an outstanding leader in the community. Someone who has used her life and her work to serve community or country. A woman who understands that lifting up others along her path is the true benefit of leadership. A leader who has triumphed through strength of character and values while facing and overcoming adversity."

Journeys of Life was ruined by fire on November 13, 2011, reopened in temporary quarters two weeks later and moved back into its restored space in May 2012. Throughout the process, Haller was helped by a range of companies and people who donated merchandise and labor. At the same time, she donated back more than $8,000 both in cash and merchandize to local charities.

"We're here to serve the community," Haller said. "The reason we exist is because of the community that supports us, and that's the reason we rebuilt.

"I tell people that we sell serenity," she added. It's about "personal growth, where you've been, where you are and where you'd like to go."


Quirk Books Telling Stories with Tapestry App

Quirk Books has begun working with Tapestry, a storytelling touch device app that was inspired by Robin Sloan's Fish, a tap essay. The app allows readers to both move the story forward at their own pace and with the impact that the author intends with a tap of their touch device. For the launch of Tapestry 2.0, Quirk has contributed five stories, including a William Shakespeare Star Wars tapestry.


Seale Ballenger Joining Disney Publishing Worldwide

Effective July 8, Seale Ballenger is joining Disney Publishing Worldwide as publicity director. He has been director of marketing and publicity at Zola Books and earlier worked at Random House and Simon & Schuster.



Media and Movies

Media Heat: James Patterson on NPR's Weekend Edition

Tomorrow on NPR's Weekend Edition: 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).

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Tomorrow on CNN's Fareed Zakaria: Lynda Obst, author of Sleepless in Hollywood: Tales from the New Abnormal in the Movie Business (Simon & Schuster, $26, 9781476727745).

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Sunday on NPR's Weekend Edition Sunday: Brett Martin, author of Difficult Men: Behind the Scenes of a Creative Revolution: From The Sopranos and The Wire to Mad Men and Breaking Bad (Penguin Press, $27.95, 9781594204197).


TV: Rivers of London; Last of the Mohicans

Ben Aaronovitch's series of urban fantasy/police procedural novels (beginning with Rivers of London, which was released in the U.S as Midnight Riot) featuring Peter Grant, "a copper who becomes a trainee wizard with the Met," will be filmed as a TV series in the U.K., Tor.com reported. The production company behind the project is Feel Films, which is working on the TV adaptation of Susannah Clarke's Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell.

"Our aim is to produce a TV series that will blow the audience's socks off and out via their earholes," said Aaronovitch. "This is of course just the beginning of the process and there will be many, many... many meetings and proposal documents and ideas being run up flagpoles, etc., but I'm hopeful we can not just get it done but get it done well."

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FX is developing a limited series based on James Fenimore Cooper's classic novel The Last of the Mohicans, according to the Hollywood Reporter. Chris Crowe, who co-wrote the screenplay for the 1992 film, is writing the script with Kerry McCluggage and Steve Beck.


Books & Authors

Awards: Desmond Elliott; Scottish Children's Books

Ros Barber won the £10,000 (about US$15,243) Desmond Elliott Prize, which "celebrates and champions the very best in debut fiction," for The Marlowe Papers. Chair of judges Joanne Harris said the novel "stood out from the shortlist because it is a unique historical conspiracy story that engages all the senses."

Miriam Robinson, one of the judges and head of marketing at Foyles Bookshop, compared literary prizes to the role of booksellers, who, "in offering enthusiastic and wholehearted recommendation for a title, can change its prospects within an incredibly crowded market. We have great faith that The Marlowe Papers will be a delight to all those who will now discover it, thanks to The Desmond Elliott Prize."

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Finalists have been named in three categories for the Scottish Children's Book Awards, celebrating the most popular children's books by Scottish authors or illustrators. The shortlist, which was chosen by a panel of judges, will now be voted on by children across the country to determine winners, who will be announced March 5, 2014. The three overall winners receive £3,000 (about US$4,595) each. You can find the Scottish Children's Book Awards shortlist here.


Book Brahmin: Shamron Moore

Shamron Moore's debut novel is Hollywood Strip, published by Forge (June 18, 2013). She has appeared in many commercials, feature films, television shows and print campaigns, and much of Hollywood Strip is inspired by her adventures in Los Angeles and the entertainment industry.

On your nightstand now:

Greek Fire by Nicholas Gage, a fantastic biography about the love triangle between Maria Callas, Aristotle Onassis and Jacqueline Kennedy, and In All His Glory by Sally Bedell Smith. The latter is about CBS founder Bill Paley, but I bought it predominantly for info on his wife, fashion icon Babe Paley. Oh, and also the Wayne Dyer book There's a Spiritual Solution to Every Problem.

Favorite book when you were a child:

Anne of Green Gables and Anne of Avonlea were probably my favorites. No matter how many times I read them, they never got old.

Your top five authors:

James Ellroy, Truman Capote, Leo Tolstoy, Joan Didion, Lee Server.

Book you've faked reading:

Everything during my middle school years that didn't involve a glamorous heroine. I just couldn't concentrate on the story if it lacked a bit of femininity or romanticism; it bored me. I would automatically tune out, without meaning to.

Book you're an evangelist for:

Walter Mosley's This Year You Write Your Novel. Jam packed with guidance. I recommend it to anyone who needs encouragement or feels overwhelmed at the prospect of writing a novel.

Book you've bought for the cover:

I purchased Chasing Harry Winston specifically because of the giant emerald-cut diamond on the cover. Well, that and the fact it's called Chasing Harry Winston.

Book that changed your life:

Jacqueline Susann's Valley of the Dolls, believe it or not. I was at my then-therapist's, trying to figure out how to redirect my life, and had recently read Valley of the Dolls. I was drawn to the melancholic tone of the book, the duality of fluff and grit. An idea came to me; I thought, hey, I can do this! I can write a juicy novel. Why not? I've always loved the written word, and I know how to spin a decent yarn. It was a no brainer. That's how Hollywood Strip came about.

Favorite line from a book:

"There is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about." --from The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde.

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

Gone with the Wind. Margaret Mitchell was such a brilliant story teller, the pages turn themselves.


Book Review

Review: Babayaga

Babayaga by Toby Barlow (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $27 hardcover, 9780374107871, August 6, 2013)

A heady mix of dark magic, espionage and occasional free verse, Babayaga, the sophomore novel from Toby Barlow (Sharp Teeth) mixes a traditional take on Eastern European witchcraft tales with the author's skewed sense of humor and a wistful brand of romance.

Like many down-on-their-luck expatriates, the beautiful Zoya drifts from one relationship to the next in postwar Paris, depending on the kindness of her lovers for survival. Unlike most other down-on-their-luck expatriates, though, Zoya is a centuries-old witch who kills her lovers once they realize she isn't aging. Although Zoya's coven believes in using and destroying men, her fellow witch Elga prefers to keep a low profile; the absence of war means Zoya's gruesome murders attract attention. When Zoya impales her latest lover's head on a spike, the trail leads Inspector Vidot of the Parisian police straight to Elga's door. Angered, Elga swears a bloody vow of vengeance against Zoya and transforms Vidot into a flea.

Will is an American ad man in Paris whose agency is a CIA front. Despite his connections to the world of espionage, Will sees himself as a meek, ordinary Detroit boy, until he falls in love with the stunning and mysterious Zoya, who sees a bravery and tenderness in Will that stays her usually bloodthirsty hand. While Will tries to regain a file stolen by rival spies and keep Zoya out of Elga's way, Inspector Vidot makes his six-legged way across Paris, viewing his old life from the perspective of a fly on the wall. He sees much he needs to make right--if he can break the spell before he lives out the short lifespan of a flea.

But wait, there's more! Inebriated secret agents, a chorus of deceased but not departed witches from Zoya's coven and weaponized mind-expanding drugs round out Barlow's ambitious plot, making for a non-stop romp through the City of Lights that's sometimes morbid, often hilarious and always deftly thought-provoking. The dark humor and existential overtones are evocative of the classics of Russian literature even as the leading man consistently identifies himself as too American for Paris.

Despite the many plot strands, Barlow's story never feels shallow or rushed, and love both star-crossed and unrequited provides a nice counterpoint to the zanier moments. Fans and newcomers will both appreciate this sly and hearty slant on European folklore. --Jaclyn Fulwood

Shelf Talker: Barlow's hilarious second novel combines traditional witch lore with Cold War espionage, star-crossed love and a detective turned into a flea.


Deeper Understanding

Robert Gray: Bookstore Restroom--There's No App for That

"Do you have a public restroom?" If there's a question booksellers hear more often than that one, I'm not sure what it is ("Where's your nonfiction section?" Not even close). And yet, I've been attending industry trade shows for more than two decades without ever seeing a panel devoted to independent bookstores and their public bathroom strategies.

The Wall of Fame at Quail Ridge Books

Do we simply choose not to talk about it? I don't know, but I've been privy (pun intended) to numerous discussions with booksellers and other retailers over the years about the topic, especially when a new bookstore is in the works or an older one is being renovated.

I should mention that full credit/blame for this week's column goes to Pamela Grath, owner of Dog Ears Books, Northport, Mich. On Sunday, she e-mailed me the following: "Operating a bookstore is a continual learning experience. This year I've figured out that people do not have bathrooms on their Kindles."
 
Was I intrigued? Of course. "What's the backstory?" I asked. "There must have been an incident?"

"A series of incidents, none interesting enough to recount," Grath replied. "I'm sure you can imagine the general trend."

For the record, Amazon has not perfected a Kindle digital bathroom, though I'm sure they have a patent pending somewhere.

And while BEA seminars may be AWOL, bookstore bathrooms do occasionally make news:

On Books & Biblios even considered the dubious retail implications of bathroom shelving: "It does prompt one to consider the boundaries of private and public, of the personalized home space and that of what your clients see.... I'm still scratching my head at the anomalous nature of this place. It has beautifully crafted shelves, and a broad and intelligent selection of books. But selling books in your bathroom?"

What have I learned about bookstore restrooms after all these years?
 
There are certain retail design rules, the primary one being that whenever possible, you should locate your public restroom in the back of the store, so customers have to pass by as many books as possible along the way.

And there are staff hierarchical considerations when the inevitable happens and the door of your bookstore's public restroom sports the always unwelcoming "Out of Order" sign, which can indicate a range of possible issues, from basic plumbing 101 to, well, let's just say... No, let's not.

I should confess that I took full advantage of reverse hierarchy when I worked as a frontline bookseller. Whenever a "bathroom issue" was brought to my attention that required more than restocking paper supplies, I kicked it upstairs to the highest-ranking person in the store at that moment, using the always effective argument: "We're really busy!" Since I happened to work in an indie with a large staff, I could get away with deferring. Most booksellers don't have that luxury.

Bookstore bathrooms can also be a shoplifter's best friend. During the late '90s, some kids (presumably) were stealing our CDs using the bathroom drop method. One muscially-inclined culprit stashed the plastic security encased discs in a cabinet under the sink, then an accomplice subsequently cracked them open and made a hasty exit. Once aware of the plot, our floor manager extracted the evidence from the cabinet and left a note: "We have your CDs on hold at the front desk. Please feel free to stop by anytime and ask for them." End of crime wave.

Maybe we should discuss all this. "Is Your Bookstore Bathroom Shoplifter-Proof?" Now that would be one hell of a BEA/ABA educational session. Or "Bookstore Restrooms: Too Clean for Your Own Good?" Or "Bookstore Bathrooms: There's No App for That."

I can already imagine BEA attendees asking for directions: "Where's the panel on bookstore restrooms?" And the inevitable response: "Room 1E07, second door on your left." --Robert Gray, contributing editor


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