Also published on this date: Wednesday, August 27, 2013: Maximum Shelf: Alex

Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Margaret K. McElderry Books: Vespertine by Margaret Rogerson

Henry Holt & Company: Mihi Ever After (Mihi Ever After #1) by Tae Keller, illustrated by Geraldine Rodríguez

Berkley Books: River Sing Me Home by Eleanor Shearer

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

Quotation of the Day

'We Need the Humanities... Because We're Human'

"Even if we read books and talk about them for four years, and then do something else more obviously remunerative, it won't be time wasted. We need the humanities not because they will produce shrewder entrepreneurs or kinder CEOs but because, as that first professor said, they help us enjoy life more and endure it better. The reason we need the humanities is because we're human. That's enough."

--Adam Gopnik in his New Yorker essay, "Why Teach English?"

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


AAP Sales for April: E-Books Return to Earth

In April, total net book sales fell 3.1%, to $828.4 million, compared to April 2012, representing sales of 1,193 publishers and distributed clients as reported to the Association of American Publishers.

E-book results were all over the lot. The biggest gainers overall were university and religious e-books categories at 75% and 42.3%, respectively. At the same time, the category with the biggest drop was children's/YA e-books, down 64.8%. The largest e-book category in sales--adult e-books--rose 7.1%, far down from its triple-digit gains of a year or two ago.




University press e-books

 $1.1 million


Religious e-books

 $6.4 million


Children's/YA paperbacks

 $42.5 million


University paperbacks

 $3.1 million


Religious paperbacks

 $9.2 million


Downloaded audio

 $10.1 million


Religious hardcovers

 $23.1 million


Higher ed course materials

 $83.2 million


Children's board books

 $2.7 million



 $154.1 million


Professional publishing

 $52.6 million


Adult e-books

 $106.6 million


University hardcovers

 $3.6 million


Adult hardcovers

 $127.3 million





Physical audiobooks

 $6.1 million


Adult paperbacks

 $108.5 million


Mass market

 $23.1 million


Children's/YA hardcovers

 $41.2 million


Children's/YA e-books

 $14 million


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

BAM 2nd Quarter: Still Missing Hunger Games, Fifty Shades of Grey

In the second quarter ended August 3, net revenues at Books-A-Million fell 8.6% to $109.2 million, and the net loss rose to $9.1 million from $881,000 in the same period a year earlier. Sales at stores open at least a year fell 12%.

CEO and president Terrance G. Finley commented: "Results for the quarter reflect the very tough comparisons to the prior year due to the unprecedented success of the Hunger Games series and the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy. In addition, we continued to see softening in sales of e-reading devices and slower growth of digital content. Our general merchandise categories and internet business performed well in the quarter."

Much of the company's net loss in the quarter was attributable to "higher income tax expense due to the recording of a non-cash valuation allowance and the reversal of related first quarter tax benefits. These adjustments were required by accounting guidance due to cumulative losses in recent years."

BAM operates 255 stores in 33 states and the District of Columbia.

PNBA Holiday Catalog 2022

Kobo Unveils New Tablets and E-Reader

Yesterday Kobo introduced three new color tablets and a black-and-white e-reader, which will launch in the U.S. in September.

The 6" Aura e-book device, available for $149.99, is, according to, "sleeker" and "lighter" than the company's Glo and has technology that "reduces flashing in a big way"--going up to 100 pages without refreshing. "It's all one surface and looks more like the screens you'd find on a tablet."

The tablets are the Arc 10HD, priced at $399.99, the Arc 7HD, at $199 and $249, as well as the Arc 7, at $149, "each of which looks to continue the Kobo tradition of offering good specs at reasonable prices," Cnet said.

Kobo intends "to set itself apart from the ever-increasing selection of high end tablets," said, "by focusing on reading--which, granted, seems like an odd angle for a $400 tablet, but Kobo's certainly taken great pains to make this the most reader-friendly tablet around. That means, primarily, skinning the slate's Android 4.2.2. Fire it up and you're greeted with books (as well as those new magazines)--books you're reading and books Kobo thinks you should be reading, culled from its online offerings."

Hachette Plans Reading Group Day in New York

On Saturday, September 7, from 10 a.m.-3:30 p.m., Hachette is sponsoring Hachette Reading Group Day in New York City, "a fun day dedicated to all things reading group." Readers from the New York metropolitan area will be able to meet and mingle with a range of authors. Tickets cost $50 and include a light breakfast, lunch, a take-home bag of books and the opportunity to buy books at a discount.

"The day is for the consumer, the reading group community of leaders, coordinators and everyday people who enjoy getting together to discuss good books," said Karen Torres, v-p, director of account marketing, retail operations, at Hachette. "I really believe that there is a world out there of people hungry to hear about books and from the authors themselves."

The program includes a keynote by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child, authors of Two Graves; a mystery panel with Chris Culver and George Pelecanos; a narrative nonfiction panel featuring Lily Koppel, Nicholas Dawidoff and Jeanne Murray Walker; a literary fiction panel including Amity Gaige, Benjamin Percy, Daniel Woodrell and Kathleen Kent; and a new adult/self-published to published/YA crossover panel including Jessica Sorensen, Kate Locke and A.S. King. Elin Hilderbrand will give the closing keynote.

The event takes place at Lighthouse International, 111 E. 59th St., in Manhattan. McNally Jackson in Manhattan is selling tickets to New York readers, and Books & Greetings, Northvale, N.J., is doing the same for New Jersey. is also a sponsor.

Manhattan's Only LGBTQ Bookstore Finds Temporary Location

The Bureau of General Services--Queer Division, which must vacate the space it has been renting since last November by the end of the month, has found a temporary new location nearby at Cage, "a space for dialogue, mutual support and production," at 83A Hester Street on the Lower East Side of Manhattan.

In a message to supporters BGSQD said it would host an opening party September 5 at Cage, where it will be until October 31. The bookstore "continues to raise funds to secure a permanent home for the Bureau on the Lower East Side" through its Indiegogo crowd-funding campaign, Future Perfect: Build the Bureau.


Image of the Day: Library Coup in Tennessee

A public affairs consultant and speechwriter, former reporter and former aide to a governor, Keel Hunt is best known to many in the industry as a spokesperson for Ingram Content Group. Now he's also an author. His new book, Coup: The Day the Democrats Ousted Their Governor, Put Republican Lamar Alexander in Office Early, and Stopped a Pardon Scandal, was published this month by Vanderbilt University Press, which is giving copies of the book to every library in Tennessee. The book tells of the day in 1979 when senior leaders of the Tennessee Democratic Party ousted their governor to stop a pardon scandal. Here, Hunt, all the way in the back in the blue shirt, appears recently with the Bellevue Democrats Club in Nashville, where he spoke and signed copies of the book.

breathe's café: 'More Reason to Visit the Much-Loved Bookshop'

breathe owner Susan Weis-Bohlen with husband Larry Bohlen.

"Baltimore needs more bookstore cafes, and breathe bookstore café in Hampden is a good start," the Sun reported after sampling the fare at Susan Weis-Bohlen's new culinary venture that "opened last June, giving Baltimoreans even more reason to visit the much-loved bookshop." The Sun noted that the menu "fills a vegetarian-friendly niche, but even the staunchest meat lovers should pay attention. For the most part, breathe's food is as tasty as a burger and fries--and a lot healthier."

The reviewer's bottom line: "Sitting with a book on breathe's friendly front porch, or at a table inside the charming shop, is a calming and happy way to spend an evening. Add a bright and seasonal square of polenta, a glass of tea and a rich macaroon and you may find yourself so relaxed and well-fed that you never want to leave."

Video: J.K. Rowling on Harry Potter, 15 Years Later

Fifteen years ago this week Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone was released in the U.S., a magic moment (though we didn't really know it at the time). As part of the celebration, Scholastic featured a video in which J.K. Rowling was asked which character she misses the most from the series.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Cathleen Schine Talks About Fin & Lady

Tomorrow on KCRW's Bookworm: Cathleen Schine, author of Fin & Lady (Sarah Crichton Books, $26, 9780374154905). As the show put it: "Cathleen Schine says that she--and her writing--survive by seeing the humor in her life. In her most recent novel, Fin & Lady, a melancholic, inquisitive boy is moved into Greenwich Village by his free-spirited (if careless) older half-sister in the early '60s. Schine talks about the book's stirring mixture of lightness and depth, and the push-and-pull these incongruous siblings enact as they separately search for personal freedom and familial security."


Tomorrow on NPR's Here and Now: John U. Bacon, author of Fourth and Long: The Fight for the Soul of College Football (Simon & Schuster, $26.99, 9781476706436).


Tomorrow on MSNBC's the Cycle: David McRaney, author of You Are Now Less Dumb: How to Conquer Mob Mentality, How to Buy Happiness, and All the Other Ways to Outsmart Yourself (Gotham, $22.50, 9781592408054).


Tomorrow on a repeat of Dr. Oz: Gwyneth Paltrow, author of It's All Good: Delicious, Easy Recipes That Will Make You Look Good and Feel Great (Grand Central, $32, 9781455522712).

Books & Authors

Awards: James Tait Black Memorial

Alan Warner and Tanya Harrod won the £10,000 (US$15,576) James Tait Black Memorial Prizes, Britain's oldest literary awards, which are given annually to a work of fiction and biography by the University of Edinburgh's School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures.

The judge praised Warner's The Deadman's Pedal as "an exceptionally fine novel, richly evocative in detail, beautifully poised in execution, which in the story of one young man's journey to adulthood through the mysteries of childhood, sexuality, work, the realities of class society and the experience of divided family loyalties, offers a compelling poetic vision of a changing Scotland."

Harrod took the biography prize for The Last Sane Man: Michael Cardew, Modern Pots, Colonialism and the Counterculture, which the judge said "offers an exceptional portrait of a remarkable craftsman and his world. Harrod constructs this biography with the same eye for form and purpose that marked the work of her subject."

Book Brahmin: Prue Leith


photo: Colin Thomas

Prue Leith is a food and cookbook writer, TV pundit and novelist. She was born in South Africa and lives in London. Her latest is A Serving of Scandal (Opus Books, August 26, 2013), about a Home Secretary's alleged affair with the Downing Street cook--political scandal meets gastro-novel. A Serving of Scandal is the first of three Prue Leith novels to inaugurate the Opus Culinary Fiction Series.

On your nightstand now:

The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson and Rod Bradbury--a gentle, funny, mad tale. The Great Game by Peter Hopkirk--history of the power struggle between Russia and England for the trade routes to the riches of India. Fascinating tale of the bravery of young men and the duplicity of politicians. After Mandela by Alec Russell--fascinating subject, lucidly and intelligently dealt with by the Financial Times political writer. Freedom by Jonathan Franzen. Finding this unreadable but still at my bedside because everyone says it is brilliant. Onion Skin by Craig Raine, an early collection by one of England's best contemporary poets.

Favorite book when you were a child:

My Friend Flicka by Mary O'Hara. The only books I read until I was 16 were about horses.

Your top five authors:

Julian Barnes: the latest, Levels of Life, like the Booker Prize one, The Sense of an Ending, is disappointingly short, but the others are great, the nonfiction mostly big, meaty, satisfying, and the novels engaging and true. Anthony Trollope: the best of the Victorian family blockbuster novelists. Elizabeth Jane Howard: perfect chronicles of English middle-class life, and a riveting autobiography, Slipstream. Angela Huth: absorbing novels of life and love with believable backgrounds. Hilary Mantel: especially Wolf Hall and Bring up the Bodies. Can't wait for the next one.

Book you've faked reading:

Everything by Salman Rushdie. I have tried, but never got further than chapter two, so faking is a must.

Book you're an evangelist for:

Ex Libris by Anne Fadiman--a tiny collection of essays about reading books.

Book you bought for the cover:

Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier in paperback. Lovely soft painting of mountainous landscape, mysterious, romantic, distant.

Book that changed your life:

The Warden by Anthony Trollope. Got me into sustained reading for pleasure, rather than to pass exams.

Favorite line from a book:

From Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell: "I'll think about that tomorrow in Tara." It demonstrates Scarlett O'Hara's indomitable, ultimately admirable, resilience.

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

Black Beauty by Anna Sewell. Except that I know I'd not relive that emotional obsession with a horse.

Books that inspired you to write:

Trollope's Palliser novels. I remember thinking if a man working in the postal service can get inside his female characters and write like an angel, then maybe a cook should have a go.

Book Review

Children's Review: The Real Boy

The Real Boy by Anne Ursu, illus. by Erin McGuire (Walden Pond/HarperCollins, $16.99 hardcover, 352p., ages 8-12, 9780062015075, September 24, 2013)

In the tradition of The Velveteen Rabbit and Pinocchio, Anne Ursu's (Breadcrumbs) latest novel explores what makes someone (or something) "real." The author mines the potential of magic and mystery in the story of 11-year-old Oscar, who has no history except for a vague recollection of the day Master Caleb plucked him from the orphanage.

Master Caleb was "the first magician in a generation." He, his apprentice Wolf, and Oscar live in the Barrow, "the tangle of forest and darkness" that encircles Asteri, the "Shining City," as they call it, because of the "Shining People" who live there. Oscar prefers not to talk with anyone, especially the Shining People ("They just sounded different, like the words cost them nothing to say, not even a thought"). He feels most at home in the forest, where the magic lives in the soil of the wizard trees. There Oscar gathers herbs for Master Caleb's concoctions, then mixes them in the cellar of the magician's shop in the company of a half dozen cats. Oscar occasionally ventures out--on Tuesdays to get the washing, twice weekly to buy bread and, occasionally, to buy cheese from Madame Catherine's Most Spectacular Goat.

But when Master Caleb starts making frequent trips to the Continent, and Wolf--who abandons the shop and leaves Oscar in charge--turns up dead, Oscar has no choice but to mind the store. People terrify him. His complete inability to connect with others makes him doubt himself, and a crippling fear grips him. At one point a man desperate for an enchanted necklace that makes its wearer forgive the sins of the giver comes into the shop; Oscar says, "You could try apologizing." Only Callie, the healer's apprentice, sees through Oscar's outbursts to the real boy inside. She makes a deal with him: she'll teach Oscar how to interact with people, if he'll teach her how to mix remedies. But then the forest is attacked; all the herbs lay in shreds. The children in the Shining City start to fall ill, and something monstrous threatens the Barrow. Callie is the only one to whom Oscar confides his suspicions, based upon the forbidden books he's read in Caleb's library. Oscar finds himself thrust into a role he never wanted.

Ursu weaves together a haunting tale of a village greedy for magic and power. Rather than confront themselves, the citizens crave more and more magic, to do the work for them. And the cost is great. Ursu describes how Oscar prizes routine and rules--but also how compelled he feels to find answers to what's happening to the disintegrating world around them ("[I]t was very difficult to know how to function in the world when every truth turned out to be just an illusion"). As Oscar ventures into the unknown to set things right, he learns he has more courage than he could ever have imagined. --Jennifer M. Brown

Shelf Talker: Eleven-year-old Oscar, adopted by the magician Caleb, learns there are things in life that matter more than magic.

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