Shelf Awareness for Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Yen Press: The God of Nishi-Yuigahama Station by Takeshi Murase, Translated by Guiseppe Di Martino

Peachtree Publishers: Erno Rubik and His Magic Cube by Kerry Aradhya, Illustrated by Kara Kramer

Beacon Press: Kindred by Octavia Butler

Inkshares: Mr. and Mrs. American Pie by Juliet McDaniel

Tundra Books: On a Mushroom Day by Chris Baker, Illustrated by Alexandria Finkeldey

Simon & Schuster: Register for the Simon & Schuster Fall Preview!

St. Martin's Press: Sacrificial Animals by Kailee Pedersen


Bookstore Sales Slip 1% in May

May bookstore sales fell 1% to $953 million compared to May 2012, according to preliminary estimates from the Census Bureau. For the year to date, bookstore sales have risen 0.2% to $5.244 billion. This has proved an erratic year so far: sales improved in January and March over 2012, but were down in February, April and now May, likely because of high sales a year earlier of the Hunger Games and Fifty Shades of Grey trilogies.

Total retail sales in May rose 5% to $444.6 billion compared to the same period a year ago. For the year to date, total retail sales have risen 3.8% to $2,047 billion.

Note: under Census Bureau definitions, the bookstore category consists of "establishments primarily engaged in retailing a general line of new books. These establishments may also sell stationery and related items, second-hand books, and magazines."

BINC: Do Good All Year - Click to Donate!

World Book Night: Only Nine Months to Go!

Planning for the third World Book Night U.S., to be held April 23, 2014, has begun. Again WBN U.S. aims to have 25,000 volunteer book givers hand out a half million specially printed copies to light or reluctant readers and to those without the means or access to printed books.

Beginning today, last year's givers can start making book nominations, and a panel of booksellers and librarians will then vote on the final picks. The long list will include IndieBound picks; B&N Discover titles; ALA prize winners; top reading group choices, classics and genre books as gleaned from online sources; and the top giver suggestions. All independent booksellers and librarians who participated last year will receive the book nomination e-mail survey today as well. The 2014 WBN book choices will be announced October 23, exactly six months before World Book Night. People who want to be givers can begin applying on October 23, too.

This summer the WBN Steering Committee will choose honorary co-chairpeople, and this fall, bookstore and library host location sign-up will take place.

Ongoing WBN initiatives include continued outreach to prison programs, the cataloguing of thousands of letters from book recipients, and sending this year's BEA Buzz Book e-book to all volunteer givers as a thank you.

WBN U.S. executive director Carl Lennertz said: "We'll opt for quality over quantity, as we did last year. With the same number of volunteers and books, we continue to target more carefully those in need, while generating enormous local and national publicity in support of a reading-and-giving message. We will double the number of WBN 2014 events to 50 or more, and we will add a digital component. We continue to be deeply thankful to all who have so generously volunteered their time, energy, and good will to the cause. I am very excited about the trajectory of World Book Night's potential. Sky's the limit!"

GLOW: Torrey House Press: Life After Dead Pool: Lake Powell's Last Days and the Rebirth of the Colorado River by Zak Podmore

Annals of College Store Crime: Two Updates

A former employee of the Jackson State Community College Bookstore, Jackson, Tenn., who was found guilty of embezzling $60,000 from the store between 2008 and 2010, has begun serving a year-long sentence, according to the Jackson Sun. After release from prison, she will be on probation for nine years and have to do community service and provide restitution of $50,000.

The Sun wrote that Rita Moody "manipulated entries into the accounting system used by [bookstore operator] Nebraska Book Company of payments received by the bookstore, which allowed her to steal funds from the business."

In the case of Mark Brixey, who embezzled $1.16 million from the Missouri State University Bookstore, Springfield, Mo., the university has received $1 million from its insurance company, the Springfield News-Leader reported. In addition, the university has said that it recovered $81,000 in cash from Brixey's office--a discovery that spurred the initial investigation--and that it believes it will recover another $144,000 from 12 certificates of deposit that Brixey will have to forfeit.

Brixey was the longtime director of the bookstore and stole the money over a 10-year period. He has pled guilty and faces as much as 43 years in prison.

Harpervia: Only Big Bumbum Matters Tomorrow by Damilare Kuku

Small Press Bookstand Pops Up in Pittsburgh

Karen Lillis, author and former bookseller at St. Mark's Bookshop in New York City, has opened Small Press Pittsburgh, a small press-focused pop up shop in Pittsburgh, Pa.

Lillis told the Twenty-Four Hours weblog that "the plan is to pop up at crowded cultural events. The bookstand heavily features Pittsburgh's emerging authors and Pittsburgh-based independent independent publishers, and then I mix in a selection of litmags, zines, and books from elsewhere.... n one sense, my bookstand is based on the twin powers of the Face Out and Hand Sell."

The stand carries between 50 and 60 books and made its debut on July 5. Mellow Pages Library of Bushwick, Brooklyn, and The Newsstand of Greenpoint, Brooklyn, inspired Lillis to create the Small Press Pittsburgh shop.

Small Press Pittsburgh is also the name of a web directory for Pittsburgh's small presses and literary community. Lillis created the website in an advanced cataloging class while studying library science; she hopes to use the website and bookstand to "foster connections and collaborations" between artists and writers in Pittsburgh's literary scene.

Jessica Williams Wins Ashmead Award

Jessica Williams, an assistant editor at William Morrow, has won the Ashmead Award, named in honor of the late Larry Ashmead and designed to nurture the career of a promising young editor in the field of book publishing. As the winner, she will attend the Yale Publishing Course July 21-26, and will also have access to an advisory committee of distinguished editors.

"Jessica is a rising star at HarperCollins, and Larry would have loved working with her," said Brenda Segel, HarperCollins senior v-p of rights, who spoke on behalf of the selection committee. "She is always willing to go the extra mile for her authors and has shown great drive, determination, and a terrific instinct for new voices."

A graduate of Georgetown University, Williams started her publishing career at a literary scouting agency and joined Morrow in February 2011 as an editorial assistant to v-p and executive editor David Highfill. Last September, she became an assistant editor. Among her books are the forthcoming novels The Absence of Mercy by John Burley, Further Out Than You Thought by Michaela Carter, Welcome to Braggsville by T. Geronimo Johnson and a debut novel by Rebecca Rotert.

At Gitmo, John Grisham Books First Banned, Then Allowed

One of the more bizarre aspects of the legal and moral morass that is the prison at Guantanamo Bay is outlined today by the Wall Street Journal: a military defense attorney said that guards seized several John Grisham novels that he was going to give to a client-prisoner. At first, the Defense Department supported the ban but then relented.

"The only detail I was given... was that John Grisham books are 'usually problematic,' " Capt. Justin Swick said, adding that he thought the books would help his client understand U.S. legal principles.

A Defense Department spokesperson initially issued this statement in response to a Journal inquiry about the matter: "The detainees in our charge are humanely treated with multiple outlets for enrichment, to include a wide range of reading materials. We will continue to provide them with appropriate reading materials based on what we believe is consistent with our responsibility to maintain good order and discipline and humane treatment." A day later, the Department said it would allow the Grisham books.

For his part, Grisham told the Journal: "My knee-jerk reaction, in response to all their humaneness, is to ask where waterboarding fits in. Gitmo is a sad perversion of American justice." He added that one title, The King of Torts, "is a novel about civil litigation involving mass torts," while the other, The Innocent Man, "is a true story about a wrongful conviction in Oklahoma 25 years ago. I enjoy stepping on toes with the fiction, but it's a stretch to see how these books could undermine national security."

Capt. Swick had brought both paperback and audio versions of the books. Capt. Swick's client is one of the prisoners taking part in the hunger strike and will read the books later, he said. "While they are in solitary confinement, he's not allowed to use the audio CDs."

Frommer's Guidebooks Traveling Back into Print

Arthur Frommer, who in April purchased back from Google the Frommer's Travel Guides brand, "is moving quickly to release his first batch of books in October under a new name, FrommerMedia," the New York Times reported.

Having struck a distribution and marketing deal with Publishers Group West, he said, "I feel like I'm starting all over again. I'm working hard to bring them back to what they were."

By the end of 2014, Frommer and his daughter, Pauline, who are co-presidents of the company, expect to release as many as 80 books, including a new series called EasyGuides, described as "an answer to the increasingly lengthy travel guides on the market that Mr. Frommer said were too long to be practical," the Times noted.

Perseus Books Group CEO David Steinberger commented: "There's the availability of free information on the Internet, and there's the fewer number of brick-and-mortar stores. But you can still have a very successful business if you have the right brand and the right content."


Image of the Day: The Light at the End of the Tour Tunnel

Last Thursday, at the Grand Reserve in Lexington, Ky., Joseph-Beth Booksellers hosted the second-to-last event on Neil Gaiman's tour for The Ocean at the End of the Lane (Morrow). More than 900 fans showed up at the sold-out event to hear a happy but exhausted Gaiman.

Russo's Books: 50th Wedding Anniversary

Congratulations to Kathy & Tony Russo--co-founders of Russo's Books, Bakersfield, Calif.--who celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary today. In a note on the bookstore's website, son and co-owner Mike wrote: "When I say we are a 'mom & pop store,' I say it with pride. My parents have made a 50-year (and counting) commitment to their marriage and a 24-year (and counting) commitment to providing books to our community. Any worthy endeavor is defined by dedication and determination... triumph and joy... sacrifice and struggle, and both milestones certainly qualify."

Russo's is inviting customers to the store today to celebrate the occasion with a cake cutting. Mike noted in the announcement that his parents "both remain active in the business (i.e.--7 days a week), but even if you don't know them well, drop by to help celebrate commitment to marriage and commitment to community."

Personnel Changes: HarperCollins, Fox Chapel

Joe Macavage has been promoted to the new position of director of fulfillment operations for HarperCollins U.S., including HarperCollins Christian Publishing. He will have offices in the R.R. Donnelly plant in Plainfield, Ind., be the distribution liaison between HarperCollins and Donnelly, be responsible for distribution and will monitor the Donnelley New Release Distribution Center in Harrisonburg, Va. He has worked more than 20 years at HarperCollins, most recently as director of distribution.

HarperCollins and Donnelly signed an agreement in 2011 for Donnelly to handle fulfillment of all new titles--and new and backlist titles from Zondervan (which since joined Thomas Nelson to create HarperCollins Christian Publishing)--from its Harrisonburg plant. Donnelly is also handling global POD services for HarperCollins.


Ray Wolf has joined Fox Chapel Publishing as director, sales and business development. He was formerly publisher of Cool Spring Press for Quayside Publishing Group, and has held sales and editorial positions at Meredith and Rodale, with a focus on books for homeowners and sales through specialty retailers.

Alan Giagnocavo, founder and president of Fox Chapel, which publishes books and magazines for woodworking, crafting and outdoor leisure activities, commented: "We anticipate that Ray will open up new specialty retailer markets for us, accelerating the growth we have already been able to achieve. Ray has an impressive track record in expanding sales through both independent stores and major retailers. Five years ago we published almost exclusively to niches in the woodworking and DIY categories. With our growth in these categories and new opportunities from our recent acquisitions, we look forward to drawing on Ray's expertise."

Theatre Communications Group Distributing 53rd State Press

53rd State Press, a publisher of new plays and performance texts, is now being distributed by Theatre Communications Group.

53rd State Press was founded in 2007 by Karinne Keithley Syers, who was joined shortly thereafter by Antje Oegel. The house's current catalogue includes works by ensemble theatres Pig Iron Theatre Company and Nature Theater of Oklahoma, as well as by playwrights and artists including Erin Courtney, Erik Ehn, Sibyl Kempson and Kristen Kosmas.

Keithley Syers said: "I started the press out of an impulse to both preserve and disseminate the writing coming out of my community. All these extraordinarily imaginative pieces of performance language were being written, but for the most part were heard, or if lucky staged, for no more than two or three nights… I was inspired by indie rock labels in the sense that I felt we could take responsibility for representing ourselves."

Media and Movies

Media Heat: The Gronkowskis on CBS This Morning

Tomorrow morning on CBS This Morning: the Gronkowski family, authors of Growing Up Gronk: A Family's Story of Raising Champions (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $25, 9780544126688).


Tomorrow morning on the Today Show: The Betches, authors of Nice Is Just a Place in France: How to Win at Basically Everything (Gallery, $15, 9781451687767).


Tomorrow on NPR's Diane Rehm Show: Karen Joy Fowler, author of We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves (Marian Wood/Putnam, $26.95, 9780399162091).


Tomorrow on Charlie Rose: 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).


Tomorrow night on the Daily Show: Reza Aslan, author of Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth (Random House, $27, 9781400069224).

Movies: Saving Mr. Banks

The first trailer has been released for Saving Mr. Banks, the "true story of how the ultimate classic," based on a children's book series by P. L. Travers, made it to the screen, reported. Directed by John Lee Hancock, the film stars Tom Hanks as Walt Disney and Emma Thompson as Travers. The supporting cast includes Colin Farrell, Paul Giamatti, Jason Schwartzman, Bradley Whitford, Annie Rose Buckley, Ruth Wilson, B.J. Novak, Rachel Griffiths and Kathy Baker. Saving Mr. Banks has a limited release December 13 before opening nationwide December 20.

Outfest Film Festival 'Hits the Books'

This year's Outfest Los Angeles Film Festival, starting today and running through this Sunday, July 21, "has assembled a schedule with a robust mix of book-related content that spans humor, history, and horror," Word & Film reported, noting that the bookish movies include Alice Walker: Beauty in Truth, C.O.G., Interior. Leather Bar, Valencia, Gore Vidal: The United States of Amnesia, B. Ruby Rich Presents the Witnesses, Oh, the Horror! and Pleading in the Blood: The Art of Ron Athey.

Book Review

Review: The Infatuations

The Infatuations by Javier Marias, trans. by Margaret Jull Costa (Knopf, $26.95 hardcover, 9780307960726, August 15, 2013)

"It's a novel, and once you've finished a novel, what happened in it is of little importance and soon forgotten," says Javier Marias's female narrator, Maria, not once but twice in The Infatuations. "What matters are the possibilities and ideas...."

Possibilities and ideas abound in the latest offering from the Spanish literary giant. This intellectual pretzel of a novel is an exercise in ambiguity, where "the truth is never clear, it's always a tangled mess." As the novel begins, a woman who breakfasts in the same café every morning, who has watched Miguel and Luisa dining together for years, enjoying the spectacle of their perfect love, discovers in the newspaper that Miguel has been viciously and repeatedly stabbed to death in the middle of the street on his birthday--and he wasn't the intended victim.

The plot is simple enough to be told in a short story. The pleasure of the novel lies in its embroidery on that simple narrative, its homages and tributes, riffs and satires, labyrinthine embellishments and baroquely illustrated projections: what could have happened, what should have happened, what might have happened, now that the grieving widow is in the care of his very attentive best friend, the handsome and charismatic Javier Diaz-Varela. Maria meets the widow, begins a casual affair with Diaz-Varela, and finds herself falling in love. But all is not what it seems in this riddle-within-a-riddle--and the reader has the delirious pleasure of circling mothlike around the flame of possibilities.

Marias is irresistibly compelled to explore every potential development, and time seems to slow down as his characters move through a poetic Jell-O of suspended animation, weighing all the options available to them, considering all the permutations of human motivation and behavior. In page-spanning sentences of multiple clauses, they decide to act or not to act, to trust or to deceive, toying with their freedom.

As Marias escorts the reader intellectually through the loops of one scenario after another, the actual turning points come as surprises, with the casual unpredictability of real life. In elegant language, bursting with a tantalizing array of observations on the way we live our lives, Marias is a world-class performer juggling the dilemmas of mortality, the deceptions of chance and the unbearable difficulty of believing anyone is telling the truth. --Nick DiMartino

Shelf Talker: Marias (author of the Your Face Tomorrow trilogy) spins a love story in modern Madrid of secret loves and ambiguous motivations revolving around the murder of the wrong man.

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