Also published on this date: Wednesday, September 4, 2013: Maximum Shelf: The Lion Seeker

Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, September 4, 2013


Basic Books: What We Owe the Future by William Macaskill

Blackstone Publishing: River Woman, River Demon by Jennifer Givhan

Sourcebooks Explore: Black Boy, Black Boy by Ali Kamanda and Jorge Redmond, illustrated by Ken Daley

Berkley Books: Pride and Protest by Nikki Payne; A Dash of Salt and Pepper by Kosoko Jackson; Astrid Parker Doesn't Fail by Ashley Herring Blake

Soho Crime: Cruz by Nicolás Ferraro, translated by Mallory N. Craig-Kuhn

Ace Books: Station Eternity (The Midsolar Murders) by Mur Lafferty

Quotation of the Day

Prairie Lights 'Feels Like Everyone's Store'

"Like all great bookstores, Prairie Lights feels secure and comforting. There are many sections I never browse---it's healthy to feel limited; and, given the store's 40,000 titles, inevitable. A staircase rises to the natural light of the second floor, where a café buzzes, and the bookcases roll away for the almost-nightly readings. On a recent Sunday afternoon, it was overflowing with a crowd of young and old who had turned out for a reading by the most recent winner of the Pulitzer Prize for fiction; at the end of an hour, it seemed as if absolutely everyone were standing in the lines for an autographed copy.

"It is at such moments, and not only during a bad day at work, that I wonder why I didn't, fifteen years ago when I arrived in Iowa City, apply for a job. I wouldn't mind unpacking and labeling and section-coding and alphabetizing new arrivals, or learning the art of buying from a publisher's backlist. When I walk past a case, my hand, of itself, aligns a spine reshelved too deeply. And I've come to notice that these opportunities to surreptitiously straighten are rare, because the shelves tend to be immaculate, resonating with the loving attention paid to them. And then I can't help suspecting that there are more hands at work than just the staff's--that many, if not most, of the customers are, like me, always working there in spirit; and that this is why Prairie Lights feels like everyone's store."

--Hugh Ferrer in the Buenos Aires Review

Disney-Hyperion: Drizzle, Dreams, and Lovestruck Things by Maya Prasad


News

'What Retailers Do': Oren Teicher's Open Letter to Jeff Bezos

In response to Amazon's petition last week to the Supreme Court to overturn New York State's sales tax fairness law, American Booksellers Association CEO Oren Teicher sent an open letter to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos:

Dear Jeff:

I am puzzled.

On the one hand, it's been widely reported in the media that Amazon has come around to supporting efforts to collect sales taxes equitably. On the other hand, Amazon continues to go to extraordinary lengths to fight every reasonable step forward in establishing a level playing field with regard to sales tax fairness. Which is it?

Even your staunchest competitors acknowledge that Amazon offers a lot of choice. And everyone understands the appeal of selection when it comes to products. But Amazon is offering a confusing set of choices about exactly where it stands regarding fair competition and the best way to ensure an even playing field regarding sales tax collection. I don't think you can have it both ways.

Amazon has said that all sellers should compete on a level playing field and that states need to be able to collect a tax that is already owed, especially in a time of budget shortfalls.

But you recently asked the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the decisions of three New York State courts that allow just that.

I don't get it, Jeff.

But that's not all. Just a few weeks ago you fired all of Amazon’s affiliates in Missouri so that you wouldn't have to collect sales tax in that state, a move you've taken in multiple other states that have enacted some form of sales tax equity.

So, Jeff, which is it? If you really are in favor of fairness and competition, why not close the gap between your rhetoric and your actions. Collect sales tax in every state that mandates it. Join the ranks of Main Street businesses that are obeying the law and supporting their communities. Yes, you will be giving up that unearned discount advantage you have now, but that's what it means to compete.

That's what retailers do.


GLOW: Drawn & Quarterly: Ducks: Two Years in the Oil Sands by Kate Beaton


Hullabaloo Books Opening Next Week

Proposed exterior of the new Hullabaloo.

In just under two years, Michael de Zayas has opened a coffee shop, community play space and artisanal cheese shop in "Crow Hill," his Crown Heights, Brooklyn, N.Y., neighborhood. The string of openings came shortly after the birth of his daughter, Zelda (for whom the coffee shop, Little Zelda, is named), and on September 13 he'll add Hullabaloo Books, a new and used bookstore with a sidewalk reading garden.

"With the birth of my daughter, I had a sense of wanting to create a community, to foster a beautiful place to live in," explained de Zayas, who has an MFA in poetry from Sarah Lawrence College and founded (and later sold) the clothing company Neighborhoodies. "I wanted to supply things I felt the neighborhood lacked. The bookstore is the most powerful vision of that; they do amazing things for a community."

The bookstore, which is around the corner from Little Zelda and Wedge Cheesemongers, de Zayas's cheese shop, on Franklin Avenue, is in an unusual space. The building is small, with no street-facing windows and a solid brick facade, and it used to house a pawn shop. The pawn shop arrived in the neighborhood in 2010, and was met with immediate protests. The protests were successful, and although the shop did not stay in the neighborhood long, its ostentatious mural--a baby in a crown, sitting on top of a pile of money and clutching a wad of dollar bills--lingered.

Now, with Hullabaloo's opening less than two weeks away, the gaudy mural is gone, replaced by the bookstore's simple stenciled logo. To compensate for the lack of a conventional storefront, de Zayas has envisioned an inviting outdoor space, with seating, tables, bookshelves and landscape planters on the sidewalk. De Zayas plans to give the store's small interior the feeling of an intimate, eccentric home library. The shop's one window will be made of stained glass, and artwork from Crown Heights artists and artisans will dot the shelves. The inventory will feature a broad, general interest selection. Due in equal part to the store's limited space and de Zayas's desire to create a "seamless literary experience," Hullabaloo will have no set point-of-sale or discernible transaction point. Instead, de Zayas will use a tablet computer and card swiper. And, at first, de Zayas will be the store's only employee.

Michael de Zayas's Kickstarter for Hullabaloo.

In an effort to make Hullabaloo Books a "home for literary culture and the arts," de Zayas plans to host an event every night of the year. Earlier this summer, he launched a crowdfunding campaign to help finance Hullabaloo's event series. He asked for $18,420, and the project was successfully funded with 193 backers. Programming will include everything from author readings and study groups to workshops and book clubs. For larger events, he will make use of the store's parking lot.

De Zayas already runs two weekly book clubs out of Little Zelda: "The Franklin Avenue Proust Society" and "The Life and Tomes of David Foster Wallace." The former reads approximately 40 pages of Proust per week; after two years of reading, the group is in volume three of In Search of Lost Time. The latter is gradually making its way through Wallace's entire catalogue. After starting with the essay collection A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again, the group couldn't resist taking the plunge into Infinite Jest.

De Zayas described himself as having a "split personality" between creative ventures and entrepreneurship. With Hullabaloo Books, he explained, he can combine his considerable retail experience with his love of books. It seemed like such an obvious choice, in fact, that it has made him wonder why he never thought of it before.

Hullabaloo Books will host its opening night celebration on Friday, September 13. --Alex Mutter


Blackstone Publishing: Beasts of the Earth by James Wade


E-Book Bundling: Kindle MatchBook, Angry Robot's Clonefiles

Next month, Amazon will introduce Kindle MatchBook, which allows customers to purchase (for $2.99, $1.99, $.99 or free) Kindle editions of print books they bought new from the company. While more than 10,000 books are scheduled to be available at launch, print purchases dating back to 1995 can also qualify if a publisher adds a title to the program. In addition, Amazon Publishing will include its titles in Kindle MatchBook.

The New York Times noted that "the success of the program will be determined partly by whether book publishers embrace it. So far, Amazon has agreements from only a couple of major publishers." Russ Grandinetti, v-p of Kindle Content, mentioned HarperCollins in the interview, but added that most publishers hadn't been told about MatchBook prior to the announcement. "Although publishers have shown discomfort with Amazon's outsize clout in book retailing, Mr. Grandinetti said he doesn't expect a lot of resistance, because MatchBook represents an 'incremental revenue stream for publishers and authors,' " the Times wrote. 

"Some have called the Kindle MatchBook program 'bundling,' for pairing an inexpensive or free e-book with the purchase of a print copy of a book, long considered a possible benefit to readers," Jacket Copy observed. "And yet the price of $2.99 or less for an e-book, whether or not it's a copy of an already-purchased print edition, is far lower than the price point publishers had hoped to establish as an e-book standard."

The five titles mentioned by Amazon as part of the program are HarperCollins and Amazon works and none are current bestsellers. The oldest is The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough, which was published in 1977. Others are A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving, published in 1989, I Know This Much Is True by Wally Lamb (2008) and The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein (2009). The Hangman's Daughter by Oliver Pötzsch was published in the U.S. originally by Amazon Crossing in 2010 and is available as a Mariner Books paperback.

Amazon's web page for the program also indicates another 13 titles that are part of the program. They include Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus by John Gray, Prey by Michael Crichton, American Gods by Neil Gaiman, The Pact by Jodi Picoult, Anathem by Neal Stephenson and Betrayal of Trust by J.A. Jance, all of which are Harper titles. Some of the others are Amazon titles.

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Angry Robot's Clonefiles bundling program, which was trialed successfully in the U.K. last year, will soon launch in the U.S., the publisher announced at last weekend's World Science Fiction Convention in San Antonio, Tex. Under the Clonefiles initiative, when a customer buys a paperback from a participating independent bookstore, they get the e-book edition free. In a jab at Amazon's Kindle MatchBook unveiling, the publisher noted: "It's also gratifying to see that the giants still follow where Angry Robot innovates."


B&N's Nook Newstand Goes to College

Looking for additional ways to expand its base in the highly competitive e-reader market, Barnes & Noble subsidiary Nook Media has announced a content licensing partnership with distribution service UWIRE, which will make the digital editions of hundreds of college and university newspapers available across all Nook devices and apps.

"The store is aimed at 'students, alumni, faculty and sports fans,' whom Barnes & Noble and UWIRE are hoping will shell out for a product that is almost always free on the college newspapers' websites," paidContent noted.

Engadget was also skeptical: "While Jeff Bezos is busy investing in a new 'golden era' for the Washington Post, Barnes & Noble's Nook division is beefing up digital access to the newspaper industry's farm league: the college paper."


Amazon Upgrades Kindle Paperwhite

Amazon unveiled a new Kindle Paperwhite, featuring display technology with higher contrast, "next generation" built-in light, 25% faster processor, 19% lighter touch grid technology, Page Flip, Goodreads integration, FreeTime, Vocabulary Builder and other improvements. The $119 device begins shipping September 30. The Goodreads and FreeTime features will be delivered later this year as part of a free software update.


Obituary Note: Nick Robinson

Nick Robinson, chairman of U.K. publisher Constable & Robinson, died last Friday, the Bookseller reported. He was 58. "When I was an editorial executive at Carroll & Graf Publishers from 2000 until 2007, Nick Robinson was our frequent publishing partner in the U.K.," Philip Turner recalled on his blog the Great Gray Bridge, adding: "Nick was a very good man and a brilliant publisher.... He will be missed."


Notes

Image of the Day: Gibson's Grand Re-Opening

Members of the New England bookselling community turned out yesterday to celebrate the grand re-opening of Gibson's Bookstore, which has relocated into larger, striking space in Concord, N.H.: (from l.) Dan Chartrand, owner of Water Street Bookstore, Exeter, N.H.; Lesley Vasilio from Random House; Gibson's co-owner Becky Herrmann; Gibson's co-owner Michael Herrmann; Concord Mayor Jim Bouley; Kate Whouley, owner of Books in Common; New England Independent Booksellers Association executive director Steve Fischer; and NEIBA president Annie Philbrick, co-owner of Bank Square Books, Mystic, Conn.


Barrett Bookstore: 'Come & See Our New Look'

This Saturday, Barrett Bookstore, Darien, Conn., will host a day-long event for customers, with prizes and special deals, to celebrate its recent renovations. "Come and see our new look," the booksellers--whose motto is "the working bookstore for the reading class"--announced on their Facebook page.  

"We moved everything around to give the store a more inviting, open look and to create a special area for middle readers, a growing audience for us," owner Sheila Daley told the Darien Times. "We also added a lovely cherry library case that will contain a collection of modern first editions from Marvin Minkler, a dealer from Vermont. Part of the new design includes an area easily converted to accommodate author events and book club gatherings."


'Most Amazing, Stupendously Clever' Little Free Library of the Day

Checking in at Little Free Library's Facebook page is always fun, but a post yesterday was so mesmerizing that even the LFL folks couldn't resist exclaiming: "Is this the most amazing, stupendously clever, epic, mechanically excellent (?!) and stunningly cool Little Free Library ever? It's a kinetic sculpture! A neighborhood art piece! Destined for the Museum of Modern Art? The Walker? The Guggenheim? Have you ever seen anything this fab?"


Personnel Changes at Soho Press, CN Times Books

At Soho Press, Juliet Grames has been promoted to associate publisher. She joined Soho Press in 2010 as editor and was promoted to senior editor in 2011, responsible for the Soho Crime imprint of international crime fiction.

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Anthony W. LaSasso has joined CN Times Books as publicity manager. He has in publicity for a decade at Alyson Books and BowTie Press and elsewhere, and began his career while working with author and journalist Gail Sheehy.

India Amos has joined CN Times Books as managing editor of print and digital production. Most recently she was an e-book developer and QA specialist at F+W Media. She has also been an art director, book designer, compositor, editorial freelancer, webmaster and nonprofit arts administrator.



Media and Movies

Media Heat: Margaret Atwood on KCRW's Bookworm

Tomorrow on NPR's Diane Rehm Show: Lori Duron, author of Raising My Rainbow: Adventures in Raising a Fabulous, Gender Creative Son (Broadway, $15, 9780770437725).

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Tomorrow on MSNBC's All in with Chris Hayes: Matt Apuzzo and Adam Goldman, authors of Enemies Within: Inside the NYPD's Secret Spying Unit and bin Laden's Final Plot Against America (Touchstone, $27.99, 9781476727936). They will also appear on Al Jazeera America's Consider This.

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Tomorrow on KCRW's Bookworm: Margaret Atwood, author of MaddAddam (Nan A. Talese, $27.95, 9780385528788). As the show put it: "MaddAddam completes the dystopian trilogy that began with Oryx and Crake and The Year of the Flood. Atwood elaborates on her dark triptych's dire subject matter--species extinction, bio-mechanization, and the bond between idealism and evil--but also explains why she believes that writing is ultimately a form of hope."

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Tomorrow on Bloomberg Radio's The Hays Advantage: Sendhil Mullainatham and Eldar Shafir, authors of Scarcity: Why Having Too Little Means So Much (Times Books, $28, 9780805092646).

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Tomorrow night on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon: Bethenny Frankel, author of Skinnygirl Solutions: Your Straight-Up Guide to Home, Health, Family, Career, Style, and Sex (Touchstone, $25.99, 9781451667394).


Movies: Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom; Suite Francaise

A trailer has been released for Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, a film adaptation of Nelson Mandela's autobiography directed by Justin Chadwick and starring Idris Elba, Naomie Harris and Robert Hobbs. Little, Brown will publish a movie tie-in edition of the book October 8.

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The first official image has appeared from Suite Francaise, the film version of Irène Némirovsky's novel. Indiewire noted that "we're probably not alone in being stoked for Suite Francaise, if only because it brings together Michelle Williams and Matthias Schoenaerts for a wartime romance." Filming took place this summer in Brussels on the movie, which is directed by Saul Dibb (The Duchess) and also features Kristin Scott Thomas, Sam Riley, Ruth Wilson, Margot Robbie, Alexandra Maria Lara , Tom Schilling, Eileen Atkins and Lambert Wilson.


Books & Authors

Awards: Warwick Prize for Writing

Finalists have been named for the £25,000 Warwick Prize for Writing, which is given every two years by Warwick University to a work of fiction, science, history or poetry, BBC News reported. A winner will be announced September 24 in London. This year's Warwick shortlisted titles are:

Pathfinders: The Golden Age of Arabic Science by Jim Al-Khalili
Sufficient Grace by Amy Espeseth
Delusions of Gender by Cordelia Fine
Suddenly, a Knock on the Door by Etgar Keret
The Old Ways by Robert Macfarlane
Memorial by Alice Oswald


Book Brahmin: Julianne Moore

photo: Brian Bowen Smith

Julianne Moore is best known as a film actress, but she is also an avid reader--and writer. Her autobiographical picture books starring Freckleface Strawberry, illustrated by LeUyen Pham, inspired an off-Broadway musical, and her just-published picture book, My Mom Is a Foreigner, but Not to Me, illustrated by Meilo So (Chronicle) also hits close to home, as an exploration of the parent-child bond. Moore lives with her husband, Bart Freundlich, and their two children in New York City.

On your nightstand now:

Jacob's Folly by Rebecca Miller; Mary Coin by Marisa Silver; 36 Hours: 125 Weekends in Europe by Barbara Ireland.

Favorite book when you were a child:

Little Women.

Your top five authors:

Deborah Eisenberg, Edith Wharton, Wallace Shawn, Joan Didion, Toni Morrison.

Book you've faked reading:

Middlemarch by George Eliot.

Books you are an evangelist for:

The Tenth of December by George Saunders; A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan; Must You Go?: My Life with Harold Pinter by Antonia Fraser.

Book you've bought for the cover:

A pink book I got a monologue out of when I was in college. Don't remember the book, but the character was a French sociopath!

Book that changed your life:

The first one I read, a science book with my mother. After that, I never stopped reading.

Favorite line from a book:

"I was late to meet someone but I stopped at Lexington Avenue and bought a peach and stood on the corner eating it and knew that I had come out of the West and reached the mirage." --Joan Didion, Slouching Toward Bethlehem.

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

The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton.


Book Review

Children's Review: Zombie Baseball Beatdown

Zombie Baseball Beatdown by Paolo Bacigalupi (Little, Brown, $17 hardcover, 304p., ages 8-12, 9780316220781, September 10, 2013)

Some will be tempted to skip Zombie Baseball Beatdown, with its chuckle-inducing title and cartoonishly violent cover. So let's clear things up: yes, there are zombies. Yes, they moan for brains. But Paolo Bacigalupi (Ship Breaker) weaves into this absurdist horror-comedy some hard-hitting explorations of political and ethical issues. Characters encounter racism, live in terror of the department of Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and seek to expose the shady practices of the meat industry. Such content demands deeper delving.

Best friends Rabi (who narrates), Miguel and Joe live in a small town that is home to a giant meatpacking plant, Milrow Meat Solutions. The boys' batting practice is interrupted by horrendous stink, which Rabi describes as "Ashy-barfy-rotten-meat-dead-cow-manure-sewer nasty," emanating from the plant. Before long, the friends are fighting zombie humans, followed by zombie cows. Those who run Milrow, it seems, have decided to pump so many chemicals into their livestock that the cows can no longer die.

But undead cattle are not all that is rotten in the Milrow Corporation. Ever since Miguel's father (a former plant employee) posted some footage from inside the factory on YouTube, they've targeted his undocumented family for deportation. Rabi has his share of problems, not least of which is his embarrassment at a mother who cheers at his baseball games wearing "a bright yellow sari... and a red bindi in the middle of her brown forehead." But it is Miguel who will make the lasting impression on readers--forced to watch all his caregivers leave, branded an "illegal" and acutely aware that he is growing out of his once adorable-Mexican-kid status and into a dark-skinned teen perceived as a threat. Blond, all-American Joe may be less prominent in the novel but his presence raises a striking contrast: whereas Rabi and Miguel are highly attuned to how the world perceives them, Joe has the luxury of not having to think about it.

The first of what readers will hope is a new genre mashup, Zombie Baseball Beatdown is a collision of worlds. Who expects a book in which the author devotes page after page to describing the behavior of zombie cows to introduce such rich fodder for discussion? And yet conversation-starters abound, such as Miguel's response to Rabi's suggestion that they go to the police after dismembering their zombified baseball coach: "We going to tell them that we hit Mr. Corcoran until we broke his arms and legs... and his head? You know that'll get me deported, for sure."

Kids will devour this like a zombie would a plate of fresh brains; let's hope that their grownups are also adventurous and open-minded readers. --Allie Jane Bruce

Shelf Talker: National Book Award finalist Paolo Bacigalupi invents an absurdist horror-comedy that explores racism, the treatment of undocumented immigrants, and the morals of the meat industry.


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