Shelf Awareness for Friday, July 12, 2013

University of Texas Press: Grief Is a Sneaky Bitch: An Uncensored Guide to Navigating Loss by Lisa Keefauver

Berkley Books: Hair-raising horror to sink your teeth into!

Berkley Books: The Hitchcock Hotel by Stephanie Wrobel

Queen Mab Media: Get Our Brand Toolkit

Ballantine Books: Gather Me: A Memoir in Praise of the Books That Saved Me by Glory Edim

Ace Books: Rewitched by Lucy Jane Wood

Graywolf Press: We're Alone: Essays by Edwidge Danticat

St. Martin's Press: Runaway Train: Or, the Story of My Life So Far by Erin Roberts with Sam Kashner


General Retail Sales in June: Heating Up for Summer

Retail sales "continued to heat up in June amid improving weather and discounting as the chains looked to clear out spring merchandise and prepare for the back-to-school season," the Wall Street Journal reported. For the month, Thomson Reuters said that sales at stores open at least a year increased 5.9% for the nine companies that reported, compared to 2.6% a year ago. Analysts had anticipated a 4.8% gain.

Overall consumer spending "looks to be improving but shoppers are still holding back on discretionary purchases," the Journal noted.

Kurt Kendall of Kurt Salmon observed that "we're seeing positive trends that then translates into better sales."

BINC: Click to Apply to the Macmillan Booksellers Professional Development Scholarships

Enigma Bookstore: Another Indie for Astoria

The Astoria section of Queens, N.Y., will have not one, but two new independent bookstores by the end of the summer, DNAInfo reported. In addition to the previously announced Astoria Bookshop, a sci-fi, fantasy and mystery indie called Enigma Bookstore, owned by Claire LaPlaca and Hugh Brammer, plans to open at 33-17 Crescent St.

"Maybe this can be the place where people come for books again," said LaPlaca, adding that the three genres the store will stock "are the most representative of what we would choose to read. We're just a bunch of nerds who would like to have a bookstore and invite other nerds to come, and celebrate the nerd in all of us."

LaPlaca also noted that she and Brammer don't view the Astoria Bookshop as the competition: "I think any time anybody brings a book into the world it's an awesome thing. What we're looking for is a big community, and I think that's here in Astoria."

Watkins Publishing: Fall Into Folklore! ARCS Available On Request

Corporate Siblings, B&T, Bookmasters Enter 'Strategic Partnership'

Castle Harlan, the private equity firm that bought Baker & Taylor in 2006, has bought Bookmasters, the Ashland, Ohio, printer, distributor and wholesaler, from the Wurster family. B&T and Bookmasters are entering a "strategic partnership," under which B&T will now offer many services Bookmasters offers, including:

  • Print-on-demand and short run digital printing
  • Offset printing, as well as a full range of binding formats
  • Content and editorial services
  • E-book conversion and distribution
  • Publisher distribution services and third-party fulfillment
  • Book sales and marketing services

Noting that the book industry "is going through periods of unprecedented change with the migration to digital," David Cully, B&T's president of retail markets and executive v-p of merchandising, said, "We see remarkable opportunities for the entire publishing supply chain to reduce costs while improving service levels to customers."

Bookmasters CEO David Wurster told the Times-Gazette that the company is staying put and he will continue in his position. Likewise his brother, Matt, continues as COO. Their parents, Ann and Thomas Wurster, founded the company 41 years ago.

Although the decision to sell was difficult because of the family's "pride of ownership," Wurster said, "our industry is evolving. As we thought about how to adapt our company, this was a real reality check. Over the next three to five years, it really made sense to have a partner to take us to the next level."

He noted that B&T has been a Bookmasters client, using its local printing capabilities, and the "rapport between the two companies" led to the sale.

In a separate deal, the Wurster family sold its 50,000-square-foot facility to a local investor for $4.3 million and has leased it back for 15 years, the Times-Gazette said.

Grisebach Named Thames & Hudson CEO

Rolf Grisebach has been hired for the newly created role of CEO at Thames & Hudson, the Bookseller reported. Grisebach, who begins at T&H in September, previously ran Pearson's operations in Germany, Switzerland and Austria. Prior to that, he headed Macmillan's education and STM division in the U.S.

The appointment of Grisebach comes as Jamie Camplin, the publisher's managing director, is retiring. Chairman Thomas Neurath and deputy chairman Constance Kaine are also stepping down from their posts, the Bookseller wrote. Tim Evans, former sales and marketing director, will become chairman; Susanna Reisz Neurath, who led T&H's foreign rights department in the 1990s, will be deputy chairman.

Obituary Note: Karl Pohrt

Very sad news. Karl Pohrt, founder and longtime owner of the Shaman Drum Bookshop, Ann Arbor, Mich., died on Wednesday after a battle with anaplastic thyroid cancer.

Mary Bisbee-Beek, who knew Karl when she lived in Ann Arbor, remembered: "Karl told great stories and loved really off-beat movies. He loved to travel and he adored his two daughters, Tanya and Tasha. Family meant the world to him and community...if you were in Karl's world he was unstintingly loyal. If he loved a book, he'd make sure everyone knew about it. I loved to talk to him about books and always felt on top of the world when I presented him with something that he connected with--it was like a good luck charm for the book and the author!"

The Shaman Drum closed in 2009 after 29 years in business.

Karl dealt with his illness with grace and beauty, as evidenced in posts on Facebook and his blog, thereisnogap. We'll miss him.

A memorial service will be held this Sunday, July 14, at 2 p.m. at the Episcopal Church of the Incarnation, 3257 Lohr Road, Ann Arbor.

G.L.O.W. - Galley Love of the Week
Be the first to have an advance copy!
Remember You Will Die
by Eden Robins
GLOW: Sourcebooks Landmark: Remember You Will Die by Eden Robins

Despite the title, Eden Robins's Remember You Will Die is a joyously enlivening masterpiece. Only dead people inhabit the pages of this novel, their stories revealed predominantly through obituaries ranging from deeply soulful to hilariously delightful. As Christa Désir, editorial director for Bloom Books at Sourcebooks, promises, it's "a book about life and art and loss and being human and messy." By 2102, the singularity has long happened, and an AI called Peregrine learns that her 17-year-old daughter, Poppy, is dead. Unraveling this requires a three-century excavation of relationships, cultures, science, history, and brilliantly sourced etymology. Désir predicts "a cult classic" that readers will want to "immediately pick back up... to find more Easter eggs and clues." Eden Robins could have the singular bestseller of the year. --Terry Hong

(Sourcebooks Landmark, $16.99 paperback, 9781728256030, 
October 22, 2024)


Shelf vetted, publisher supported


Image of the Day: Richard Webster, 50 Books and Counting

The staff of Llewellyn Worldwide celebrated the publication of Richard Webster's 50th book with the house. His first book was published in 1972, and he's been with Llewellyn since 1994. Webster is the author of more than 100 books translated in 29 languages, including Spirit Guides & Angel Guardians and Creative Visualization for Beginners. Pictured: Webster (center); Sandra Weschke, Llewellyn treasurer and co-owner (in blue cardigan behind him); and publisher Bill Krause (in blue polo to Webster's right).

B2B: Sales Opportunities for Indie Booksellers

Independent bookstores "are looking toward business-to-business sales to increase revenue and bring in new customers on top of their regular, in-store business," Bookselling This Week reported, noting that many indies "find that the B2B discount from publishers offers them an alternative revenue source that often requires a relatively small time investment once a B2B relationship has been established."

"B2B allows booksellers to turn the strong ties they have developed with their local community businesses into bulk book sales," said Deb Lewis, manager of B2B trade sales for Penguin Random House. "Booksellers 'see' the newest books first--they are the natural conduit to vet and recommend books to be used in training, development, or as gifts. Why should a bookseller be limited to handselling books one at a time? B2B allows them to sell many books to one customer and keep revenue within their community."

Kris Kleindienst, co-owner of Left Bank Books, St. Louis, Mo., said the key to successful B2B sales "is to be incredibly well organized" and focus on established customers. "When I first tried to do this, a mistake I made was looking outside of my backyard. When I turned my attention to the people already supporting my store, that's when I started getting my business."

"I think anybody can do it if they just spent some time on outreach," said Glen Robbe, manager of Books Inc., Mountain View, Calif. "If you do one [B2B] sale, it can basically be a day's worth of business. And it doesn't take that much time."

Summer Reads: Tel Aviv's Beach Library

The Tel Aviv Municipality launched a new library this week at the Metzitzim Beach, "allowing tourists and beachgoers to check out books for free during their leisure time there this summer," the Jerusalem Post reported. A two-wheeled library cart is stationed on the promenade, offering more than 500 books in five languages: Hebrew, Arabic, English, Russian and French.

"The idea behind it was first and foremost to make books accessible to the largest public possible," said Iris Mor, head of the municipality's culture department. "In fact, the general goal is to make sure that people read and that they don't see books as this far-away thing, but as something which is present everywhere."

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Nathan Rabin on NPR's On Point

Today on NPR's On Point: Nathan Rabin, author of You Don't Know Me But You Don't Like Me: Phish, Insane Clown Posse, and My Misadventures with Two of Music's Most Maligned Tribes (Scribner, $16, 9781451626889).


Sunday on NPR's Weekend Edition: Mark Leibovich, author of This Town: Two Parties and a Funeral--Plus, Plenty of Valet Parking!--in America's Gilded Capital (Blue Rider, $27.95, 9780399161308). He will also appear on ABC's This Week with George Stephanopoulos.

Movies: Austenland Trailer

The first trailer has been released for Austenland, adapted from the novel by Shannon Hall. Indiewire reported that the project, which is directed by Jerusha Hess (co-writer of Napoleon Dynamite and Nacho Libre) and stars Keri Russell, "looks like a pretty cutesy, girls-night-out kinda flick with Russell doing her charming best." Austenland opens August 16.

Books & Authors

Awards: PEN Literary; Caine African Writing; Dolman Travel

Shortlists and judges have been announced in six categories for the 2013 PEN Literary Awards, which include the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize ($25,000), PEN/John Kenneth Galbraith Award for Nonfiction ($10,000), PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay ($10,000), PEN/E.O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award ($10,000), PEN Open Book Award ($5,000) and PEN/Jacqueline Bograd Weld Award for Biography ($5,000). Winners will named later this summer and honored at the PEN Literary Awards Ceremony October 21 in New York City. You can view the complete list of judges and shortlisted titles here.


Tope Folarin won the Caine Prize for African Writing for his short story "Miracle," which appeared in Transition (issue 109, Bloomington, 2012). In addition to the £10,000 (about US$14,940) prize, Folarin will receive a month's residence at Georgetown University, as a Writer-in-Residence at the Lannan Center for Poetics and Social Practice.


Finalists have been named for the £2,500 Authors' Club Dolman Travel Book of the Year. The winner will be announced September 24. This year's shortlisted titles are:

Looking For Transwonderland: Travels in Nigeria by Noo Saro-Wiwa
Meander: East to West Along a Turkish River by Jeremy Seal
Sightlines by Kathleen Jamie
The Golden Door: Letters to America by A.A. Gill
The Old Ways: A Journey on Foot by Robert MacFarlane
The Robber of Memories: A River Journey Through Colombia by Michael Jacobs

IndieBound: Other Indie Favorites

From last week's Indie bestseller lists, available at, here are the recommended titles, which are also Indie Next Great Reads:

Children of the Jacaranda Tree: A Novel by Sahar Delijani (Atria, $25.99, 9781476709093). "Reading Delijani's novel is like peering into the living rooms of families torn apart by counter-revolution measures in Iran. The intensely intimate moments she depicts and the highly personal struggles she focuses on show life under the regime through the eyes of those most devastated by its vicious tyranny. The struggles of three generations fill the pages, as they try to hold their lives together, to find and sustain love, to support their families, to heal from unspeakable wounds, and to live with unthinkable absences. A deeply moving story of life, death, persecution, and survival." --Nichole McCown, Bookshop Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, Calif.

Cinnamon and Gunpowder: A Novel by Eli Brown (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $26, 9780374123666). "A swashbuckling story is always fun, especially when it includes a gourmet chef on board. Mad Hannah Mabbot, a tall, redheaded pirate, kidnaps Owen Wedgewood, a lord's chef, and tells him he must cook for her once a week. A supporting cast of characters that will 'shiver your timbers' and depictions of Owen's weekly meals for Hannah are an absolute riot, especially as he has little in the way of ingredients and his galley is miniscule. An exciting and delightful story of pirates both on the high seas and in the kitchen!" --Susan Wasson, Bookworks, Albuquerque, N.M.

Shout Her Lovely Name by Natalie Serber (Mariner, $13.95, 9780544002210). "From the first page, this extraordinary collection of short stories grabbed me by the throat and would not let go. Each one is filled with poignant, thought-provoking observations on the tenuous, yet unbreakable, bond between mother and daughter. Serber has given readers a remarkable, heartfelt book to be savored, shared, and passed on from one generation to another." --Anderson McKean, Page & Palette, Fairhope, Ala.

For Teen Readers
On Little Wings by Regina Sirois (Viking, $17.99, 9780670786060). "When 16-year-old Jennifer, who believes that neither of her parents have siblings, learns that her mother has a sister, she travels from Nebraska to Maine to meet the aunt she never knew she had. During the visit, Jennifer discovers the reason her mother severed the relationship, falls in love, and finds happiness in a small-town community where everyone has a story of lost love. Quirky characters, sprinklings of exquisite literature, beautiful descriptions of the Maine coastline, and a compelling story of unspeakable heartbreak, unlived dreams, and untold stories will have readers cheering for Jennifer as she explores the landscape of fragile emotions and painful memories." --Martha Moore, Blue Willow Bookshop, Houston, Tex.

[Many thanks to IndieBound and the ABA!]

Book Brahmin: Stephanie Evanovich

Stephanie Evanovich is a Jersey Girl from Asbury Park who began writing fiction while waiting for her cues during countless community theater projects. She attended New York Conservatory for the Dramatic Arts, performed with several improvisational troupes and acted in a few small-budget movies, all in preparation for the greatest job she ever had: raising her two sons. Now a full-time writer, she's a sports fan who holds a black belt in tae kwon do. Big Girl Panties (Morrow, July 9, 2013) is her first novel.

On your nightstand now:

It Had to Be You by Jill Shalvis and Zen Soup by Laurence G. Boldt. Zen Soup has been on my nightstand for the last 15 years. It's yellowed and the back cover is torn, but it's always good for a quick spirit lift.

Favorite book when you were a child:

I loved the All-of-a-Kind Family series by Sydney Taylor. I only have one sister and the thought of being part of a big family was really appealing.

Your top five authors:

Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Catherine Coulter, Anthony Robbins, Johanna Lindsey and S.E. Hinton.

Book you've faked reading:

Do high school reading assignments count? If so, start with Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck and just have at it. I was never a fan of reading under pressure.

Book you're an evangelist for:

Life Code by Dr. Phil McGraw. It's like a navigational tool for the 21st century. Back in the day, all you had to do was dodge the scammer that called your landline claiming to be from a fake charity. Thanks to technology, the landscape has completely changed.

Book you've bought for the cover:

I don't think I ever bought a book for the cover because that could lead to, well, judging a book by its cover.

Book that changed your life:

That Was Then, This Is Now by S.E. Hinton. It was the first book I read that was gritty and emotional and didn't have a happy ending. I thought about it for days. It also pointed me in the direction of S.E. Hinton.

Favorite line from a book:

"You should be kissed and by someone who knows how." --from Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell.

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

The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton. I was about 14 when I read it, right after That Was Then, This Is Now. I remember I started crying during the last chapter because it was ending. I tried to console myself by starting it over as soon as I finished, but it wasn't the same.

Book Review

Review: The Truth

The Truth by Michael Palin (Thomas Dunne Books, $24.99 hardcover, 9781250028242, August 13, 2013)

Michael Palin--yes, the Monty Python Michael Palin--returns to fiction with The Truth, his first novel since 1994's Hemingway's Chair.

Once an idealistic and award-winning journalist, Keith Mabbut now finds himself writing histories about (and for) oil companies to pay his bills, sweeping the uncomfortable bits under the rug in the process. He's estranged from his son, a wannabe actor, and his daughter has fallen for an Iranian refugee. The almost-ex-wife he believed would never finalize their divorce is now inviting him to meet her new gentleman friend, who is rich, handsome and, indignity of indignities, actually a decent fellow. In an attempt to make a fresh start, Mabbut decides to try his hand at novel writing, but before he can fully commit to his dawn of man/interstellar visitor storyline--"It's not science fiction, it's historical re-creation"--his agent approaches him with a deal that sounds too good to be true: six figures to write a biography of an environmental activist.

The catch? Hamish Melville, the activist in question, leads a life of fanatical privacy, eluding every attempt to chronicle his story. Mabbut ultimately finds the project too enticing to pass up, and embarks on a journey into some of India's most beautiful and environmentally embattled areas. At first mistrusted and even bullied by Melville, who believes him a spy, Mabbut slowly comes to appreciate Melville's passion for protecting the lives and traditions of the villagers in rural India, threatened by the prospect of strip mining in their sacred hills. But even if Mabbut does get the story of a lifetime, what exactly is his publishers' motive for commissioning it? More importantly, is Melville the ultimate hero--or the ultimate lie?

Palin's ample experience in travel writing shows in his descriptions of Indian landscape and culture as well as his portrayal of the misty Shetland Islands. Secrets within secrets lurk around every corner in this sharp, wistfully funny journey from a man's cynical exterior to his inner idealist. As Mabbut learns, people are rarely who and what they seem, but the truth is as much a point of view as it is a collection of facts. With brain-twisting plot riddles and the occasional slick quip, Palin is at his most entertaining even as he invites readers to consider the falsehoods we use to cover our deepest selves and the power--for better or worse--of simply letting others see us for who we are. Although The Truth touches on many serious aspects of corporate politics and inner turmoil, Palin manages to leave readers with hope and a smile. --Jaclyn Fulwood

Shelf Talker: A once-decorated journalist turned corporate sellout gets a chance to redeem himself when he's asked to write the biography of an elusive environmental activist.

Deeper Understanding

Robert Gray: A Moment in Time on Booksellers' Island

Last month in Shelf Awareness for Readers, I wrote about desert island reads, noting that the catalyst had been a box of old books in which I found a 1996 Book Lover's page-a-day calendar (Workman) that included a scattering of picks, mine among them, under the heading "Your Bookseller Recommends."

I've been a little haunted by this handsellers' time capsule ever since, and a couple of days ago, I tore off the bookseller pages and spread them out in front of me like tarot cards. I was reading the past, however, not the future, thinking about bookstores now closed (A Clean, Well-Lighted Place for Books) and still open (Hicklebee's); thinking about great booksellers like Roberta Rubin, who recently sold the Book Stall at Chestnut Court, and the late, inimitable Warren Cassell, who for years owned Just Books, Greenwich, Conn.  

"Inspiration" was a word that came to mind; "legacy" another. More than calendar pages, more than a time capsule, these page-a-day shelf talkers seemed like buried treasure unearthed, and worth sharing:

January 19
Carrie Thiederman, A Clean, Well-Lighted Place for Books, San Francisco, Calif.

Beloved by Toni Morrison: "More incredible with each read... keeps unfolding."
Collected Stories by William Trevor: "A big-volume storyteller who's a master of character creations."
Complete Works of Shakespeare: "Do you really need a reason?"
Emperor of the Air by Ethan Canin: "A winner, hands down."

March 11
Booksellers at John Cole's BookShop, La Jolla, Calif.

Stones for Ibarra by Harriet Doerr: "Completely autobiographical but written as a novel." --Barbara Cole
Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy: "I Liked this book for the strong character development and the overall theme that we are all a product of our past." --Jan Iverson
War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy: "Because of the interesting history and the development of the characters, I return to this book often." --Alice Kirby

May 15
Norman Laurila, A Different Light, New York, N.Y.

The Raj Quartet by Paul Scott: "A monumental intricate work--even more spellbinding than the Masterpiece Theatre version."
Last Watch of the Night by Paul Monette: "Monette's passionate, searingly articulate look at his own life and what it means to be gay today.
A Single Man by Christopher Isherwood: "A legendary novel of a day in the life of a gay college professor in 1962. Isherwood at his best--wry, suddenly manic, constantly funny, surprisingly sad and bitingly honest."

June 13
Claudia P. Castle, Chinook Bookshop, Colorado Springs, Colo.

Shakespeare's Complete Works
The Oxford Book of American Verse
How to Do Things Right by L.R. Hills: "I think it's fair to say all would hold up to infinite readings, and would be fine company for 30 or 40 years."

August 27
Valerie Lewis, Hicklebee's, San Jose, Calif.:

The World of Christopher Robin by A.A. Milne: "These poems are repeatable... And, first published in 1924, they're still up to date.
Don't Fidget a Feather by Erica Silverman: "A freeze-in-place contest every child (and adult) will try to win."
Freak the Mighty by Rodman Philbrick, Maniac McGee by Jerry Spinelli and Catherine Called Birdie by Karen Cushman: "Young adult books that get my attention on the first page with rich language and strong characters."

September 29
Warren Cassell, Just Books, Greenwich, Conn.

The Bridges of Madison County by Robert James Waller: "It's every middle-aged person's fantasy, and I could read it over and over again, pondering, 'What if?' "
Ladder of Years by Anne Tyler: "A compulsively readable contemporary novel about a woman married 20 years who walks away from her family and establishes a new identity."
Where the Heart Is by Billie Letts: "A first novel packed with absolutely delightful character in a great story with a truly happy ending. This is our feel good book of the year."

November 4
Karen Davis, Davis-Kidd Booksellers of Memphis, Nashville & Knoxville, Tenn.

Wild Birds by Wendell Berry
West with the Night by Beryl Markham
Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

December 31
Roberta Rubin, The Book Stall at Chestnut Court, Winnetka, Ill.

The Battle Cry of Freedom by James McPherson: "For history buffs, or for those interested in a good story, this book is... one of the best descriptions of the Civil War."
Angel of Repose & Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner: "One of the great 20th-century writers crosses the expanse of America in both physical and psychological terms."
The Palace Thief by Ethan Kanin: "How does a young man of 31 know so much about the human condition?"
The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje: "A beautiful love story, war story and work of art."

Remembering the past, adapting to the future. That's what booksellers do. I was thinking about Warren Cassell, who sold Just Books in 2002, but never stopped being a bookseller at heart. He would e-mail me occasionally regarding industry issues. The last time was in December, 2010, a couple months before his death at 80. I'd just written a column about occasionally being mistaken for a bookseller by other customers when visiting bookstores because, apparently, my 15 years on a sales floor had given me the "bookseller look."

"Almost the same thing happened to me in Powell's a few months ago," Cassell wrote. "I was asked directions with a 'I thought you worked here' comment. If we packaged that look, we could make a million selling it to all those people who comment, 'I would just love to work in a bookstore.' "

There are worse people in this world to be mistaken for than a bookseller. Our island is never deserted, and there are always plenty of great books to read. --Robert Gray, contributing editor

Powered by: Xtenit