Shelf Awareness for Friday, August 2, 2013

Quirk Books: How to Win the War on Truth: An Illustrated Guide to How Mistruths Are Sold, Why They Stick, and How to Reclaim Reality by Samuel C. Spitale

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

Graphix: The Tryout: A Graphic Novel by Christina Soontornvat, illustrated by Joanna Cacao

Yen on: Dark Souls: Masque of Vindication by Michael Stackpole


Allison Hill New CEO of Vroman's Bookstore

Allison Hill has been promoted to CEO of Vroman's Bookstore, Pasadena, Calif. She joined Vroman's in 2004 as general manager, was promoted to v-p in 2007 and to president/COO in 2008. Joel Sheldon, who had been CEO since 1978 and remains chairman of the board, said that for the past five years, Hill "really acted as the CEO. I believe her integrity, commitment and leadership are unsurpassed. Allison is clearly the person to lead Vroman's into the future!"

Vroman's has three locations in Pasadena and owns Book Soup in West Hollywood.

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

Warwick's, Hudson News Opening Store at San Diego Airport

In partnership with the Hudson News Group, Warwick's, La Jolla, Calif., is opening Warwick's of La Jolla, a new bookstore in Terminal 2 of the recently expanded San Diego International Airport. The store will be owned and operated by Hudson, which has worked closely with Warwick's over the past two years to create a store that will "reflect Warwick's unique product mix of gifts and books." Warwick's of La Jolla will also highlight local authors, staff favorites, regional titles and national bestsellers. The grand opening will be held August 10 and 11.

PNBA Holiday Catalog 2022

Berkeley's Mr. Mopps' to Open Children's Bookshop

Mr. Mopp owners Devin McDonald and Jenny Stevenson. Photo:

The owners of Mr. Mopps' Toy Shop, Berkeley, Calif., plan to open a children's bookstore this fall two doors down from their current space on Martin Luther King Jr. Way at Rose Street. Co-owner Devin McDonald told Berkeleyside this was something he and his partner, Jenny Stevenson, had wanted to do since they purchased the 51-year-old store in 2010, after the previous owners were forced to close.

"We've always wanted to have a good book selection," McDonald said. "We spent the first couple years of our business really trying to stock up on toys.... [Now] we are able to finalize this dream we had." He added that they want to create a "totally immersive literary environment for kids."

The new bookstore will be located at 1417-A Martin Luther King Jr. Way, next to Mr. Mopps' warehouse. McDonald said that after necessary renovations in the space were completed recently, he and Stevenson learned it was available for lease and jumped at the opportunity. The owners are now in the process of preparing the location for its new life as a bookshop.

"I think there's something very special about places that are kind of geared just for kids, and I think kids really respond to that," McDonald said. "The community we live in here is really supportive of small businesses and appreciates the fact that you can go in and check things out."

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

Ken Michaels Is Global COO at Macmillan Science & Education

Ken Michaels has become global chief operating officer for Macmillan Science and Education, a new position. He will be based in New York and London and will join the group at the end of the month. Michaels joins Macmillan from Hachette Book Group, where he was president and COO.
Annette Thomas, CEO, Macmillan Science and Education, commented: "Over the course of his career, Ken has built a proven record of operational leadership and transformation in content-intensive industries. I am delighted to welcome him to our growing team. He is a hugely talented and experienced leader with the passion and energy to innovate, who has demonstrated his ability to support an evolving business."

Soho Crime: Blown by the Same Wind (Cold Storage Novel) by John Straley

BISG Annual Meeting: Keynote and Panels

The Book Industry Study Group's annual meeting, to be held September 27 in New York City, will include a keynote by Clive Thompson, author of Smarter Than You Think: How Technology Is Changing Our Lives for the Better, and a panel discussion on the subject of "profiting from transformational change." Panel members are Madeline McIntosh, president and COO of Penguin Random House in the U.S.; Ronald Schlosser, executive chairman of McGraw-Hill Higher Education; and Simon Ross, managing director of Cambridge University Press. The panel moderator is David Worlock, co-chair of outsell leadership programs, Outsell.

BISG chair Ken Michaels will discuss the new BISG mission and brand, and executive director Len Vlahos will present BISG's first annual industry awards.

For more information, click here.

Weiser Books: Hearth and Home Witchcraft: Rituals and Recipes to Nourish Home and Spirit by Jennie Blonde

Obituary Note: Cass Canfield, Jr.

Cass Canfield, Jr., a long-time HarperCollins editor and publisher who joined the company in 1958 as assistant to the president and stayed in various capacities until his retirement in 2004, died Tuesday. He was 90. Among his many accomplishments, he launched Harper Colophon Books, a predecessor of Harper Perennial, in 1962. In a memo to staff, CEO Brian Murray wrote that "while there are many people at HarperCollins who remember Cass Jr. personally, all of us will remember him for his great contributions to our company’s legacy."


Oblong's Renovations & Going 'Beyond the Bookstore'

Renovations at Oblong Books & Music, Millerton, N.Y., are in the final stages and co-owner Dick Hermans told Bookselling This Week that the upgrades should help regain some of the business the location surrendered in 2001 when Oblong opened its Rhinebeck store and, as Hermans put it, "we cannibalized ourselves.... I think we're going to become a little more balanced. I think people feel really comfortable here."

Hermans, who is involved in many of the town's affairs--including the Harlem Valley Rail Trail Association, where he serves as a board member--"has seen a growth in Millerton's business and culture that he expects will continue," BTW noted. "There's a whole lot going on all of the sudden," he said. "People seem to really like this town."

Pennie Picks The Orchardist

Pennie Clark Ianniciello, Costco's book buyer, has chosen The Orchardist by Amanda Coplin (Harper Perennial, $15.99, 9780062188519) as her pick of the month for August. In Costco Connection, which goes to many of the warehouse club's members, she wrote:

"It would be easy for me to love this month's book pick because it's set in the Pacific Northwest or because it's a first novel. The truth is, I'm singing the praises of The Orchardist, by Amanda Coplin, because it gets everything right.

"The novel begins with a reclusive orchardist who loves and respects the land and the trees he tends. When two young, pregnant girls show up, they tap into his reservoirs of kindness and help him reconcile the ghosts of his past.

"Coplin easily recreates the feel of the landscape. She's created fully fleshed-out characters who move through the story at just the right pace. And, perhaps most important of all, she shows the importance of family and how blood ties aren't nearly as important as the bonds of love we're capable of creating with others."

Personnel Changes: Hyperion, Scholastic

Effective Monday, Martha Levin will join Hachette Book Group as acting publisher of Hyperion Books. A 30-year veteran of the publishing industry, Levin had been publisher of Free Press, and before that served as Hyperion's publisher. Hachette CEO Michael Pietsch said Levin will work with HBG for at least six months to publish the books under contract and fully incorporate Hyperion's backlist into HBG's systems.

Betsy Hulsebosch is Hyperion's new associate director of marketing and publicity and will join the company August 7.


Scholastic has announced the following staff changes in its trade publishing division:

New Hires

  • Katrina Krantz is Klutz/Scholastic's director of digital marketing.
  • Caite Panzer is Scholastic's director of rights and global publishing strategy.
  • Kelly Smith is senior editor for nonfiction.
  • Michael del Rosario is a managing editor.


  • Elizabeth Whiting is now director, mass market sales.
  • Karen Lo is director, trade finance.
  • Janelle DeLuise is associate director, rights & co-editions.
  • Dan Moser is manager, special sales.
  • Walter Olalekan is business manager, trade finance.  
  • Candace Greene is assistant marketing manager.
  • Katie Carella is senior editor.
  • Emma Brockway is associate publicist.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Juan Gabriel Vásquez on NPR's Weekend Edition

This morning on Imus in the Morning: Richard Haass, author of Foreign Policy Begins at Home: The Case for Putting America's House in Order (Basic, $25.99, 9780465057986).


Tomorrow on NPR's Weekend Edition: Juan Gabriel Vásquez, author of The Sound of Things Falling: A Novel (Riverhead, $27.95, 9781594487484).


Tomorrow on NPR's Weekend All Things Considered: Jeff Guinn, author of Manson: The Life and Times of Charles Manson (Simon & Schuster, $27.50, 9781451645163).


Sunday on CBS Sunday Morning: Carol Burnett, author of Carrie and Me: A Mother-Daughter Love Story (Simon & Schuster, $24.99, 9781476706412).


Sunday on CNN's Fareed Zakaria GPS: Thomas Lippman, author of Saudi Arabia on the Edge: The Uncertain Future of an American Ally (Council on Foreign Relations Books/Potomac Books, $29.95, 9781597976886).

Books & Authors

Awards: Polari Longlist

The longlist for the £1,000 (about US$1512) Polari First Book Prize, which is given annually to a book that "explores the LGBT experience, and is open to any work of poetry or prose, either fiction and nonfiction, published in the U.K.," has been revealed, the Bookseller reported. You can find the complete Polari longlist here.

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:

Fin & Lady: A Novel by Cathleen Schine (Sarah Crichton Books, $26, 9780374154905). "Fin is a charmer. The bright, 11-year-old boy's life changes when his mother dies and he is consigned to the care of his older half-sister, Lady. Fin leaves behind the bucolic Connecticut countryside of his mother's dairy farm and heads to Greenwich Village. Lady might be older, but it soon becomes clear that Fin is the protector of his spirited sister, a woman beset by unsuitable suitors and prone to impetuous actions. Set in the 1960s, the era of the Civil Rights Movement and the Vietnam War, this delightful story is a comic romp about the bonds between a brother and a sister." --Deon Stonehouse, Sunriver Books & Music, Sunriver, Ore.

Lexicon: A Novel by Max Barry (Penguin Press, $26.95, 9781594205385). "Barry's newest novel manages to be a gripping, page-turning thriller as well as a phenomenally intelligent dissertation on language's raw, neurological power. Barry manages to maintain a blistering pace in an ingenious, complex plot structure with seeming ease, while at the same time exploring conspiracy theories, intense paranoia, privacy concerns in the Internet era, and countless other frightening ideas for the reader to ponder long after the book is finished. Lexicon is simultaneously brainy and muscular, like a Heisman Trophy winner who just happens to work as a semiotics professor on the side." --Hank Stephenson, Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill, N.C.

Shine Shine Shine: A Novel by Lydia Netzer (St. Martin's Griffin, $14.99, 9781250020413). "Sunny Mann is bald, nine months pregnant, and the mother of an autistic four year old. Her mother is dying. On top of all this, her husband, Maxon, is on his way to the moon to colonize it with robots. Yet Sunny manages to pretend that her life is 'normal' until the aftermath of a minor car accident forces her to confront her perceptions and redefine who she is. Shine Shine Shine is a love story unlike any you've ever read, told in lyrical prose that will have you re-reading paragraphs simply to enjoy the author's voice and her way with words." --Carla Ketner, Chapters Books & Gifts, Seward, Neb.

For Ages 4 to 8
123 Versus ABC by Mike Boldt (HarperCollins, 9780062102997, $17.99). "It's an alphabet book! No, it's a book about numbers! So goes the battle between numbers and letters as an increasingly ridiculous host of animals enter the book. By the time 13 monkeys wearing 14 neckties and juggling 15 oranges appear, the numbers and letters have decided to collaborate. Show-stopping illustrations make this book a delight, even for proficient counters and readers!" --Erin Barker, Hooray for Books!, Alexandria, Va.

[Many thanks to IndieBound and the ABA!]

Book Brahmin: Elizabeth Cohen

photo: Allyson Lent

Elizabeth Cohen has worked as a gas station attendant, a waitress, the girl who put videotapes on a dumbwaiter so people could watch them upstairs at the Museum of Radio and Television, a fact checker, an editorial assistant and a journalist, and is currently a professor of creative writing in the English Department at SUNY Plattsburgh. Growing up in New Mexico, earning a degree in anthropology and then taking a job on a remote Panamanian island inspired her interest in stories of people from wildly different cultures and backgrounds. She is the author of The Family on Beartown Road, a memoir, and coauthor of The Scalpel and the Silver Bear, a memoir of the first Navajo woman surgeon. The Hypothetical Girl (Other Press, August 6, 2013) is her collection of whimsical short fiction about the different people who meet online while seeking love. She lives with her daughter, Ava, in Plattsburgh, N.Y.

On your nightstand now:

Tenth of December by George Saunders. My best friend sent it to me, which is a good example of why she is my best friend. I am awed by Saunders's somewhat shocking array of characters and the disturbing feeling I get reading these. Like the one about a woman who chains her child to a tree in her backyard.

Favorite book when you were a child:

The Chronicles of Prydain series, especially The Book of Three, by Lloyd Alexander. In these books, a boy named Taran (if I had a son, he would definitely be Taran) is in charge of pigs on a small, poor homestead. Actually he is an "assistant pig-keeper," but the universe has other plans for him that include defeating an army of zombies, stealing a magic cauldron, leading an army of elves and dwarves and eventually--you probably guessed this--becoming king of a magical land. I loved his sidekick, too, a little monster named Gurgi, who refers to himself in the third person. My father read these books to my sister and me at bedtime, over and over, for years. (And then, one day, I started reading them myself, over and over.) I remember how he would stop to chuckle at certain parts and how he had to push his glasses up his nose when they would slip down and how he used a matchbook as a book mark and what a bummer it was when he would put that matchbook bookmark in and shut the book at night, and say, "Now go to sleepy, little girlies."

Your top five authors:

(Oh no, only five? Okay, here goes...) Mary Gaitskill, Anton Chekhov, Isaac Babel, Anne Tyler, Jayne Anne Phillips, Louise Erdrich (whoops, was that six, sorry...)

Book you've faked reading:

Marcel Proust's Remembrance of Things Past. Hasn't everyone? I can say that to date I have resisted fake quoting the part about him eating that madeleine. I hate it when people quote that, as if they actually read it. Probably 10% of the people who quote that have actually read it. It has become my litmus test for fraud, when someone mentions that.

Book you're an evangelist for:

Bad Behavior by Mary Gaitskill. This book was like getting a bag of secrets handed off to me. Reading it was akin to unearthing the diaries of average people and then voyeuristically reading about their strangest and sometimes most sexually charged moments. I carried around my copy in my bag for a year after I finished it, maybe even two, and I constantly reread the stories, the way you might see some people reading the Bible on the subway. It is dog-eared. It has coffee stains. I swear, Mary Gaitskill has telescopic vision into the soul.

Book you've bought for the cover:

Angels and Insects by A.S. Byatt; fortunately, it was pretty good.

Book that changed your life:

Franny and Zooey by J.D. Salinger. Salinger examines the spirit of a brilliant yet wickedly depressed teenager. As I read it as a wickedly depressed and probably smarter-than-your-average teenager, it spoke to me, on the deepest level. Plus, it made me want to write. Franny, the protagonist, is a writer girl.

Favorite line from a book:

"Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendía was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice." --from One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez

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

I wish I could read Pride and Prejudice for the first time. I am not exactly proud of this.

Your favorite food to snack on while writing:

The Cheeto. Definitely the Cheeto. But the orange stuff gets on your fingers and that can really muck up a keyboard, so I do not recommend this to other writers.

Book Review

Review: Asunder

Asunder by Chloe Aridjis (Mariner Books, $13.95 paperback, 9780544003460, September 17, 2013)

For relative anonymity, there may be no better occupation than that of a museum gallery guard. These uniformed silent caretakers of great art blend into the background of each room, ignored by visitors and museum guides alike. Marie, the narrator of Chloe Aridjis's Asunder, is a 10-year veteran at London's National Gallery. She lives with her flatmate, Jane, in Islington, enjoying occasional nights out with Daniel, a fellow guard and earnest, unpublished poet. In the privacy of her room, she creates miniature "artistic" worlds of her own out of eggshells, dead moths and bits of broken glass. Her needs are few, her routines predictable: "In a low end-of-day buzz, my colleagues and I would start to unzip, undo, unbutton, removing our grey and returning to civilians like a deflated army on reserve."

Aridjis, however, is something of a genius in her ability to enrich the ordinary with epiphanies rendered in deceptively short and simple prose. She dispenses with her characters' surnames so as not to burden them with historical or geographical specificity; they play citizen-of-the-world roles. Marie's world of work and her flat may be circumspect, but she lives large in the world of her mind and imagination. As an invisible guard surrounded by great art, talkative international visitors and instructive curators and restorationists, she can eavesdrop and observe life in its most profane and sacred moments.  

Asunder is not a novel driven by plot or dialogue. It meanders, much as Marie does through her assigned museum rooms. She goes out with Daniel when Jane's habits become too annoying. He is good company, even though for Marie "poetry would remain a hazy territory, poets... people for whom there were a thousand ailments, a thousand medicine cabinets." However, a few of Daniel's words haunt her: "There at the fringes of tranquility should be at least two pacing wolves."

She concludes that a life is like a painting that goes from "being a thing of beauty to a thing of decaying beauty to a thing of decay." She destroys her miniatures and quits her job. What next? Her only answer is "new subjects and new verbs... my days would have something like a new vocabulary." In this little gem of a novel, Aridjis takes on the troubling questions of life and quietly works her way to the best answers she can find. --Bruce Jacobs

Shelf Talker: Living up to the praise for her debut, Book of Clouds, Aridjis delivers a quiet, deceptively short novel about a sensitive woman and art.

Deeper Understanding

Robert Gray: Northshire's 'Second Home' & Bezosgate

While President Obama's visit to an Amazon warehouse in Chattanooga, Tenn., earlier this week has been garnering headlines and well-deserved book industry backlash, I've been lucky enough to witness a less publicized, but no less effective, response to Bezosgate.

On Monday, the Northshire Bookstore, Manchester Center, Vt., will have a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the soft opening of its highly anticipated second location in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. A grand opening is planned for September 29, when the store is hosting a community-wide celebration.

If "living well is the best revenge," then perhaps opening a beautiful new independent bookstore in a thriving city just a week after Bezosgate is one of the best retorts anyone could ask for.

As many of you know, I worked at the Northshire as a bookseller and buyer for nearly 15 years before joining Shelf Awareness, and three years ago I moved to Saratoga. While the imminent arrival of the bookstore is a happy coincidence for me, I do have a betting interest--an appropriate phrase for a city that is currently celebrating its 150th anniversary of horse racing--as a resident, customer and fan in the Northshire's success here.

I stopped by last Friday to check out the work-in-progress as opening deadline loomed. Shelving of new books was just getting underway, carpeting was still being installed and fixtures completed. Booksellers and construction workers rushed around, dodging each other as they balanced books, boards and cans of paint.

A few familiar faces from my past life as a bookseller were there: IT director/buyer Ben Parker working his electronic magic with a new POS system; Barbara Morrow--co-founder, with Ed, of the Northshire in 1976--shelving books; Nancy Scheemaker, my former colleague in Manchester and the new store's general manager, directing traffic as her staff unpacked, received and organized books in sections temporarily labeled with colored tape; and co-owner Chris Morrow, who was supervising the hectic final rush to get the construction finished, among a hundred other details major and minor.

On Wednesday, I returned for an updated peek and the pre-launch chaos was well under control, with Monday's opening no longer a distant goal, but as real as the new awning out front. The frenzied yet focused atmosphere reminded me of Manchester Northshire's ambitious expansion a decade ago, when it nearly doubled in size. I still recall that curious mixture of adrenaline and exhaustion, pleasure and pain, that took hold of us as we headed down the home stretch.

In an e-mail newsletter I received yesterday proclaiming Saratoga as "our second home," the Morrow family said they were "thrilled to be part of this wonderful welcoming community, much as we have been a part of Manchester all these many years. We look forward to hearing from you, what your expectations are, what you like, what is missing, how we can become your bookstore.... We look forward to seeing you in both of our stores and offer our gratitude to all of you for supporting independent book selling."

What will happen next? That's what every reader wants to know about each story they encounter, isn't it? When Northshire Bookstore Saratoga debuts Monday, it will be a soft opening in name only because the staff will be off to the races. This is high season for Saratoga, and downtown is packed with visitors from dawn to midnight and beyond every day.

I don't have an answer for what will happen after Labor Day, but if omens mean anything, I believe the 1,500 people who showed up in June for Northshire's Neil Gaiman event at the Saratoga City Center can be seen as a portent. And it must be a good sign that a new Kilwins shop, which is opening soon in the same building, was using a fan to distribute the scent of chocolate onto Broadway Wednesday morning. We all know now what chocolate can do for book sales.

Chris and I talked briefly on Wednesday and naturally the subject of Obama's Amazon warehouse speech came up. I'd considered asking him for a comment regarding the controversy, but standing in that newborn indie bookstore, I suddenly decided there was no need. The answer was all around us. --Robert Gray, contributing editor

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