Shelf Awareness for Friday, August 23, 2013

IDW Publishing: Arca by Van Jensen, illustrated by Jesse Lonergan

First Second: Family Style: Memories of an American from Vietnam by Thien Pham

Harvest Publications: The Dinner Party Project: A No-Stress Guide to Food with Friends by Natasha Feldman

Wednesday Books: Guardians of Dawn: Zhara (Guardians of Dawn #1) by S. Jae-Jones

Soho Crime: A Disappearance in Fiji by Nilima Rao

Shadow Mountain: Graysen Foxx and the Treasure of Principal Redbeard (Graysen Foxx, School Treasure Hunter) by J. Scott Savage

Quotation of the Day

'Bookselling Made a Writer Out of Me'

"Bookselling made a writer out of me. Before I got a job at a bookstore, I would sometimes poke around the edges of being a creative writer--I wrote little essays for zines my friends published, and I liked to come up with elaborate fake histories for bands I was associated with in college. I liked books and I liked to read. But being a bookseller moved me from a casual to a professional interest in books, so it meant I needed to read a lot more, and a lot of contemporary work. It gave me a sense of the landscape, and where I might fit into it. (And that I actually might fit into it.) It plugged me into the community of writers and readers. And it gave me access to writers who helped me evolve my writing."

--Matthew Simmons, author of Happy Rock (Dark Coast Press), in an interview with Volume 1 Brooklyn

Blackstone Publishing: The Trap by Catherine Ryan Howard


Amazon: Colorado Wins Tax Appeal; Tenn. Warehouse Opens

A federal appeals court ruled this week that a lower court overstepped its jurisdiction last year in tossing out the "Amazon tax law," which was passed in 2010 and imposed "extensive reporting requirements on e-tailers that don't collect Colorado's 2.9% use tax on purchases," the Denver Post reported. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit remanded the case to the district court to dismiss the Direct Marketing Associations's claims and to lift the permanent injunction.

"We are satisfied that Colorado provides avenues for remote retailers to challenge the scheme allegedly forcing them to choose between collecting sales tax and complying with the notice and reporting requirements," the ruling stated.

Carolyn Tyler, a spokeswoman for the Colorado Attorney General's office, said, "We are pleased with the court's ruling that DMA's claims should be dismissed and that the state's law should remain in effect. We will continue to work with the Department of Revenue to evaluate the implications of (Tuesday's) decision."

Amazon celebrated the grand opening of its fulfillment center in Lebanon, Tenn., yesterday.

The Democrat reported that even though the facility "accepted its first piece of inventory--a set of poker chips--in February, Lebanon's general manager Mark Marzano said the facility is still ramping up to full capacity." The state made international headlines last month when President Obama gave a speech at the company's warehouse in Chattanooga.

GLOW: Avid Reader Press: Little Monsters by Adrienne Brodeur

William T. Vollmann: Author, Unabomber Suspect

The publishing world may have known William T. Vollmann as a National Book Award-winning author, but the FBI at various times suspected he was "the Unabomber, the anthrax mailer and a terrorist training with the Afghan mujahideen," the Washington Post reported. It cited Vollmann's piece, "Life as a Terrorist: Uncovering My FBI File," in the September issue of Harper's, where he explores his FBI file in a "brilliant, chilling essay about America and privacy."

Speaking with NPR Morning Edition's David Greene yesterday, Vollmann said he was bothered by the FBI's secrecy almost as much as the invasion of his privacy: "If we're not allowed to know what they're doing with this information, I can't help but think that we are headed for really serious trouble."

In Harper's, Vollman wrote that his "motives for writing this story are conventionally American. I value my freedom to be what others may not wish me to be. I am proud to read whichever book I want, from The Satanic Verses to S&M pictorials to the speeches of Saddam Hussein. Although I sometimes write about politics, I do not consider myself political--or is it in fact political to hold some degree of disrespect for whichever fellow citizens have been set in power over me? In this, if Steinbeck is to be believed, I am very American: 'Americans almost without exception have a fear and a hatred of any perpetuation of power--political, religious, or bureaucratic.' "


Obituary Note: Bibliobarn Owner H.L. Wilson

Noted bookseller H.L. Wilson, proprietor of the Bibliobarn, South Korthright, N.Y., in the Catskill Mountains, died August 17. He was 71. The Watershed Post noted that since 1996, he and his wife, Linda Wilson, "had run (and lived in) the Bibliobarn, a lovingly curated used bookshop and bindery on a rural road in South Kortright that has become something of a legend among bibliophiles, and served as the inspiration for several other independent bookshops to open in the area."

The Wilsons' plan to sell their bookstore to Brooklyn's BookCourt--whose owners hope to transform the grounds into BookCourt North--a bookshop, event space and writers' retreat--"is still moving forward," the Watershed Post wrote, adding that Linda plans to keep a satellite Bibliobarn store open in Margaretville.


Image of the Day: Main Street Books vs. Amazon


As she put it, Llalan Fowler, manager of Main Street Books, Mansfield, Ohio, was "feeling uppity one day" and came up with this sign comparing the store and Amazon in fulfilling customer needs, including "recommendations from live people," "writing workshops," "literary open mics," "no sales tax," "book club" and "supports your community with $, donations & events." The sign has received "a great deal of attention (all good) online and in the store!"

Village Books Wedding for Paul Hanson and Kelly Evert

Paul Hanson and Kelly Evert, both booksellers at Village Books in Bellingham, Wash., were married last Sunday in a ceremony held on Bellingham's Village Green, right behind the bookstore.

The ceremony drew 130 attendees, and among those guests four local indies were represented: Port Books & News in Port Angeles; Eagle Harbor Book Co. on Bainbridge Island; the Traveler, also on Bainbridge Island; and Seattle's Elliott Bay Book Company. Several writers, including Julie Trimingham and David Guterson, also attended. Joan Terselich, a fellow Village Books employee, married the couple, while Sam Kaas, another Village Books bookseller, served as master of ceremonies. After Terselich pronounced the couple husband and wife, Evert, in a burst of sudden irrepressible joy, shouted "holy crap," and "we did it!"

The Book Fare Cafe, located above Village Books, hosted the reception. In lieu of presents, the wedded couple asked guests to bring either food or a recipe, and they plan to print a collection of those recipes on the store's Espresso Book Machine. Let Them Eat Cake, a local bakery, provided the book-inspired wedding cake, and flowers in mason jars placed atop stacks of books served as centerpieces for the reception tables.

"This bookstore wedding was put on with a great deal of help from the Village Books staff and their families," said Hanson. "It truly took a Village to make this wedding happen."

Hanson and Evert met in 2009 while working at Eagle Harbor Book Co. The pair has worked together at Village Books since June of 2011. Hanson is community outreach director, and Evert is assistant card and gift buyer. --Alex Mutter

Lemuria Books Owner to Publish Photography Book

Lemuria owner John Evans

John Evans, owner of Lemuria Books, Jackson, Miss., "appreciates the beauty of his city" so much that he is "working on a first: a photography book he will publish along with photographer Ken Murphy and design editor Rick Dobbs about Mississippi's capital city," Find It in Fondren magazine reported.

"The more I thought about it, I think it's important to capture the essence of our city," said Evans. "I'm tired of people saying Jackson is an ugly place, or 'I don't like Jackson.' I'm tired of people saying, 'Jackson's washed up.' Idealistically, we need a little culture pop, saying 'Hey, Jackson is not a bad place.' What better way to solidify that attitude than a beautiful book? What better way for a bookstore to enhance the community than to publish a book on the community?"

Scheduled for release next spring, Jackson: Crossroads of the South will be sold by Lemuria both retail and wholesale, with distributorship open to homegrown businesses in the city. "Anyone who wants it can buy it by the case," said Evans explains. "Anyone local will have the opportunity to sell it."

Cool Idea of the Day: 'Blind Date with a Bookseller'

"Here's the deal," a sign on the "Blind Date with a Bookseller (or their favorite books, anyway. It's almost the same thing)" display at Malaprop's Bookstore, Asheville, N.C., explains. "We love you. We want you to ride off into the sunset with the book of your dreams. But we also want you to enjoy the pleasant surprises of life.... If you're brave and true, step forward. pick one that calls to you. Embrace the sweaty-palmed anticipation of the unknown."

Jenny Choy Joining Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Effective September 16, Jenny Choy is joining Little, Brown Books for Young Readers as senior manager, school and library marketing. Previously she was manager, school and library marketing, at Candlewick Press.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Thomas Keneally on NPR's Weekend Edition

Tomorrow on Fox & Friends: Christina Hoff Sommers, author of The War Against Boys: How Misguided Policies Are Harming Our Young Men (Simon & Schuster, $25, 9781451644180).


Tomorrow on NPR's Weekend Edition: Thomas Keneally, author of The Daughters of Mars: A Novel (Atria, $28, 9781476734613).

Also on Weekend Edition tomorrow: Eugene B. Bergmann, editor of Shep's Army: Bummers, Blisters, & Boondoggles by Jean Shepherd (Opus, $14.95, 9781623160128).


Sunday on CBS's Face the Nation: Taylor Branch, author of The King Years: Historic Moments in the Civil Rights Movement (Simon & Schuster, $16, 9781451662467).


Sunday on State of the Union with Candy Crowley: Congressman John Lewis, co-author of March Book One (Top Shelf Productions, $14.95, 9781603093002).

TV: Olive Kitteridge

John Gallagher Jr. (The Newsroom) will co-star with Frances McDormand and Richard Jenkins in HBO's miniseries Olive Kitteridge, based on the novel by Elizabeth Strout and directed by Lisa Cholodenko, reported. The cast also includes Jesse Plemons (Breaking Bad) and Zoe Kazan. Written by Jane Anderson, Olive Kitteridge is executive produced by Tom Hanks, Gary Goetzman, McDormand and Anderson.

Movies: Beasts of No Nation; Wild

Idris Elba will star in and produce Beasts of No Nation, adapted from the novel by Uzodinma Iweala, reported. The project is directed by Cary Fukunaga (Jane Eyre, Sin Nombre). Elba joins Daniela Taplin Lundberg and Riva Marker of Red Crown Productions; Fukunaga of Parliament of Owls; and Primary Productions principal Amy Kaufman as producers on the film.

"We fell in love with Iweala's powerful narrative and Idris and Cary are a tremendous pairing," said Lundberg.

Fukunaga noted that the project "has been seven years in the making, so to say I'm excited to start shooting this--and with Idris Elba as lead--would be me trying to play it cool. Red Crown has real moxie standing behind this story."


Fox Searchlight has named Jean-Marc Vallée (Dallas Buyers Club) to direct Wild, based on the memoir by Cheryl Strayed, reported. Reese Witherspoon will star and produce; Nick Hornby is writing the script.

Books & Authors

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:

The Ghost Bride: A Novel by Yangsze Choo (Morrow, $24.99, 9780062227324). "Set on the Malay Peninsula in the late 19th century, this debut novel tells the story of Li Lan, whose father promises her in marriage to the recently deceased son of a wealthy local family as a means of discharging his considerable debt. When the dead son begins visiting Li Lan in her dreams, she becomes increasingly desperate to escape him. After an accidental overdose of a sleeping draught separates her soul from her body, Li Lan must navigate the world of the dead with the aid of two allies--Fan and Er Lang--neither of whom are what they appear to be. Full of danger, romance, and eerie beauty, this is the tale of a young girl's quest to find her own destiny and choose love over duty." --Billie Bloebaum, Powell's Books at PDX, Portland, Ore.

The Never List: A Novel by Koethi Zan (Pamela Dorman Books/Viking, $27.95, 9780670026517). "Zan's debut is a doozy! Part thriller, part mystery, and all spellbinding, The Never List leads the reader into a world of kidnapping, hostages, dank cellars, BDSM, and many wicked characters. Set in the present day, The Never List chronicles Sarah's attempt to locate Jennifer, who disappeared shortly after their abduction and three-year captivity in a cellar of torture and abuse. Zan keeps the narrative lively with terse dialog, top-notch character development, an occasional red herring, and edge-of-your-seat confrontations. This engrossing book has Hollywood movie written all over it. Treat yourself and read this book!" --Nancy Simpson-Brice, Book Vault, Oskaloosa, Iowa

The Gamal: A Novel by Ciaran Collins (Bloomsbury, $17, 9781608198757). "Charlie McCarthy has always been different. For the inhabitants of Ballyronan, a tiny Irish village, Charlie is the Gamal, the village idiot, the fool. But Charlie observes and has an incredible memory, and when something terrible happens to his best friends, James and Sinead, Charlie goes into shock. As a cathartic exercise, his doctor asks Charlie to write down his version of the events. Sometimes funny, sometimes moving, Charlie's testimony jumps from the present to the past and back again, reflecting his confused and troubled mind. The Gamal is a highly original and heartbreaking story with an unforgettable narrator whose voice is like no other." --Pierre Camy, Schuler Books & Music, Grand Rapids, Mich.

For Ages 4 to 8
If You Were a Panda Bear by Florence Minor, illustrated by Wendell Minor (Katherine Tegen Books, $17.99, 9780061950902). "Panda bears, polar bears, and grizzly bears are all bears, but what makes them different? These bears and others are captured doing what they love best. Beautiful poems, gorgeous illustrations, and one surprise bear will make you smile! All ages will enjoy and learn from the Bear Fun Facts at the end. Once again this dynamic couple has produced a gem!" --Joanne Doggart, Where the Sidewalk Ends, Chatham, Mass.

[Many thanks to IndieBound and the ABA!]

Book Brahmin: John Rector

John Rector is the author of The Grove, Lost Things, The Cold Kiss and Already Gone. He won an International Thriller Award for his novella Lost Things in 2013 and was nominated for an International Thriller Award in 2012 for Already Gone. His short fiction has appeared in many magazines and won several awards, including the Porterhouse Prize; many of his stories can be found in his collection The Walls Around Us. Rector's new book is Out of the Black (Thomas & Mercer, August 27, 2013).

On your nightstand now:

Joyland by Stephen King, and Stoner by John Williams.

Favorite book when you were a child:

I'd have to say The Cricket in Times Square by George Selden.

Your top five authors:

Charles Willeford, James M. Cain, Ira Levin, Stephen King and Raymond Carver.

Book you've faked reading:

I'm not sure I've ever faked reading a book. The closest I've come is probably The Sound and The Fury by Faulkner. I read it years ago for a class, and I think I made it about a third of the way through before calling it quits.

Book you're an evangelist for:

I've given away more copies of Falling Angel by William Hjortsberg than any other book, followed closely by The Queen's Gambit by Walter Tevis. But the book I'm currently pushing on everyone I know is Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. So much nostalgic fun in that one.

Book you've bought for the cover:

I believe my most recent cover-based purchase would have to be Cornell Woolrich's The Bride Wore Black with the Steranko cover. Before that it was the orange, 35th-anniversary edition of Rosemary's Baby by Ira Levin, with the Dakota building on the front.

Book that changed your life:

I don't know if it changed my life, but Pet Sematary by Stephen King has a special place in my heart. I was 10 or 11 the first time I read it, and at the time I had no idea books like that existed. So in a way it was my gateway drug. It's certainly the book that opened my eyes and turned me into a lifelong reader.

Favorite line from a book:

I've always thought Fitzgerald wrote some of the most beautiful and poetic single lines, but the only one I know off the top of my head is this one from The Great Gatsby: "In his blue gardens men and girls came and went like moths among the whisperings and the champagne and the stars."

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

Tough one. I'd probably go with one of the big, epic novels. I'd say Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry. It doesn't get much better than that one.

Your favorite bookstore:

My favorite bookstore is The Tattered Cover in Denver. I used to work a few blocks from their old store in Cherry Creek, and I'd go there every day during lunch to explore the shelves. They closed that location a few years ago, but they have others that have the same great feel to them. I go back to Denver a couple times a year, and I always make a point of breaking away from whatever I'm doing just to go to the Tattered Cover.

Book Review

Review: Traveling Sprinkler

Traveling Sprinkler by Nicholson Baker (Blue Rider Press, $26.95 hardcover, 9780399160967, September 17, 2013)

If you love Nicholson Baker's fiction, Traveling Sprinkler will easily feed your jones. The novel picks up right where Baker's The Anthologist left off--with Paul Chowder, poet and former bassoonist, now contemplating his 55th birthday, sharing an egg salad sandwich picnic with his ex-girlfriend Roz. "This may be one of the empty-bed birthdays," he laments. "I've had a few." However, there's more than romance going on in Traveling Sprinkler, a welcome plot extravagance from an author whose first novel was about an office worker shopping for shoelaces on his lunch hour.

Chowder is having one of those mid-life personal and career re-assessments. He can't finish a single poem, but rationalizes his stalled productivity: "I've published three books of poems and an anthology. That's plenty. Nobody wants to read more than three books of poems by anyone." Instead, he decides to return to music, buys himself a guitar and outfits a studio in his crumbling barn with a drum machine, keyboard synthesizer, voice-enhancing mic and software to put it all together. With music permeating the plot, Baker riffs incessantly, with references ranging from Debussy to the electronic music duo Crystal Method.

Baker being Baker, his novel is also chock-a-block with digressions and personal idiosyncrasies. A subplot follows Chowder's anti-war, anti-drone sentiments through demonstrations and rants. A portion of his barn collapses, burying a lifetime of family correspondence and books (along with a canoe given to him by Roz, the source of much of the pleasure of their romance). His growing collection of walking sprinklers gives the novel its title, as well as a metaphor for Chowder's current malaise: "I feel like a traveling sprinkler that's gotten off the hose. I don't know where I'm going."

It's the love story, however, that holds the novel together. Chowder works hard at his songwriting and the music opens a door for Roz to return. At the hip club Stripe, they listen to his teen neighbor play one of Chowder's songs; the music pushes them into a sublime kiss. "Our mouths remembered what they had to say to each other," he reflects. "Her kiss was like a life raft that was carrying us somewhere impossibly good." Unable to leave a happy ending without an aside, Chowder turns to Roz: "I bought a new canoe," he tells her. "You want to take a ride in my new boat?" For some of us, a new Nicholson Baker boat is always worth the ride. --Bruce Jacobs

Shelf Talker: Baker returns to the ruminations of poet and would-be musician Paul Chowder, the delightful narrator of The Anthologist.

Deeper Understanding

Robert Gray: 'Books 'n More'... 'n More

Literary gifts at Tattered Cover, Denver

Most indie booksellers (Never say all because, well, then the e-mails start pouring in.) have something in common. They love the handselling high that comes from a conversation resulting in a tidy stack of great books leaving the shop with an enthusiastic reader. On the other hand, they'll never complain if the next customer they wait on buys no books at all, but loads up on greeting cards, toys, souvenir t-shirts, tote bags, Moleskin notebooks, scarves, candy, magnets and locally produced salsa.

What does a great indie bookseller say to these bookless patrons?
Thank you so much. Please come back soon.

There are still plenty of shops that are book-only zones, but the business model for many others has changed during the past couple of decades--sometimes gradually and other times instantly; sometimes out of choice and other times out of necessity; sometimes in small ways, other times in ways that alter their business significantly.

In addition to a carrying a wider range of sidelines, indie booksellers are exploring numerous variations on the "two-in-one" theme. Jeffrey Shaffer, a bookseller at Annie Bloom's Books, Portland, Ore., addressed this recently in a NW Book Lovers column headlined "Books 'n' More?". Noting that he "always liked the dual-purpose business concept," Shaffer said he also "likes to theorize about what type of product or service we could add on that would catapult us to new levels of commercial success and customer satisfaction."

His own choice for "an add-on business that would serve a genuinely useful purpose, be self-sustaining, and expand our base of loyal customers" would be a "clean, well-lighted coin-op Laundromat." Considering a colleague's suggestion that an Algonquin Round Table-style "martini bar" might be a suitable add-on, he observed "the practical side of my brain believes that a bookstore serving adult libations may be walking a bit too far on the wild side."

Many bookshops have been walking that wild side, however. The most recent to cross my radar is Old Firehouse Books, Fort Collins, Colo., which will join forces with a nearby pub, the Forge Publick House, to share a newly remodeled event space beginning this fall. The goal is to "increase community togetherness and improve the connection that already exists between independent businesses" in the city. Beer-themed books will be sold in the pub, and beer will be sold at bookstore author events.

Denver's Bookbar

Earlier this week we reported that Scuppernong Books, a bookshop/wine bar is coming to Greensboro, N.C. Brooklyn's BookCourt bookstore is planning to open an eight-foot bar overlooking "about five tables placed under a huge skylight at the back of the store" and Denver's BookBar opened in May with the motto: "A book shop for wine lovers. A wine bar for book shoppers."

If you're feeling a little woozy at this point, have some black coffee (plenty of bookstore/cafes around) and remember that the options for an add-on business are limited only by the imagination, a distinct advantage for people who are in the imagination biz.

Shaffer's call for ideas in his NW Book Lovers column generated some Facebook responses, including a question posed to customers by the Village Bookstore, Pleasantville, N.Y.: "If we were to add another business to the store, what should it be?" Answers ranged from the practical--juice bar, antiques ("piles of old postcards in the drawers of wooden desks, awaiting discovery")--to the innovative--"a small greenhouse"--to the somewhat less useful tip that "one business down here is... herbs and cement."

In Tokyo, "some 20,000 western honeybees are being kept on the rooftop" of the Yaesu Book Center (Books 'n Bees?).

Beauty and the Book, Jefferson, Tex.

And we certainly couldn't have this discussion without acknowledging our friend Kathy Patrick's Beauty and the Book, "the ONLY Hair Salon/Book Store in the WORLD!"

Independent bookstores already have a legacy of traditional add-on businesses like restaurants/coffee shops (breakfast at Kramerbooks & Afterwords Cafe, Washington, D.C., is always a good bet), publishing (from iconic City Lights Books to the rise of Espresso Book Machine-driven small presses) and sidelines (Village Books, Bellingham, Wash., for example, has a sister store called Paper Dreams).

As for the other possibilities, "endless" is probably as good a word as any. So we'll ask you a variation on the question posed earlier: If you were to add another business to your current store, what would it be? Answers practical as well as impractical are welcome. And if you already have a unique add-on, let us know about that, too. --Robert Gray, contributing editor

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