Also published on this date: Wednesday, October 16, 2013: Maximum Shelf: Where the Moon Isn't

Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Atlantic Monthly Press: Those Opulent Days: A Mystery by Jacquie Pham

Feiwel & Friends: The Flicker by HE Edgmon

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers: The Pumpkin Princess and the Forever Night by Steven Banbury

St. Martin's Griffin: Murdle: The School of Mystery: 50 Seriously Sinister Logic Puzzles by GT Karber

Carolrhoda Lab (R): Here Goes Nothing by Emma K Ohland

Allida: Safiyyah's War by Hiba Noor Khan

Ace Books: Servant of Earth (The Shards of Magic) by Sarah Hawley

Quotation of the Day

Indies: 'Final Plank in the Bridge' Between Writer & Reader

"Every decade, it seems, has featured a major challenge to the independent bookseller. We manage by being very selective. The craft of bookselling lies, not so much in reacting to the marketplace as in developing it by representing, on our shelves, a point of view that sets us apart. As independent booksellers, we build the final plank in the bridge that connects the writer to the reader....

"There has been a resurgence of the independent bookstore in diverse communities throughout the United States. A new generation of booksellers is establishing new bookstores or is taking over currently existing stores. The independent bookstore has become important not just for the curatorial practices described previously but also for the central role it plays as a communal gathering spot."

--Paul Yamazaki, principal book buyer at City Lights, San Francisco, in an interview with the Hindu. He is also a member of the jury for the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature 2014.

PM Press: P Is for Palestine: A Palestine Alphabet Book by Golbarg Bashi, Illustrated by Golrokh Nafisi


'Remarkable Libraries' Yield Remarkable Result

Sometimes it all works out. We're so happy for Patricia Bracewell, author of Shadow on the Crown, and thrilled that we played a small part in her good fortune! (and, truthfully, a little envious, too!). From an e-mail she sent to us earlier this week:

Several months ago you ran a photo gallery of remarkable libraries. One of them was Gladstone's Library in Wales. Intrigued by the photo, I went to the library's website, and among other things, I discovered that it is a residential library, that they have a Writers-in-Residence scheme, and that they were accepting applications for 2014. Inspired, I applied.

I am happy to report that I was accepted into the program, and that next year I will be one of 9 Writers-in-Residence at Gladstone's Library over the course of the year. This is all due to a photo published by Shelf Awareness.

I thought you might like to know.

Thank you!

Farrar, Straus and Giroux: Intermezzo by Sally Rooney


Eleanor Catton Wins Man Booker Prize

photo: BBC

New Zealand author Eleanor Catton won the £50,000 (about US$79,987) Man Booker Prize for her novel The Luminaries. In doing so, she established a pair of records as the youngest winner in the prize's history (she is 28, but completed it at age 27), as well as writing the longest winning novel (832 pages).
Chair of judges Robert Macfarlane described The Luminaries as a "dazzling work, luminous, vast.... a book you sometimes feel lost in, fearing it to be 'a big baggy monster', but it turns out to be as tightly structured as an orrery.... We read it three times and each time we dug into it the yields were extraordinary, its dividends astronomical."
Macfarlane also addressed the book's length, saying that it "never poses a problem if it's a great novel. The Luminaries is a novel you pan, as if for gold, and the returns are huge." He added, however, that "those of us who didn't read it on e-readers got a full-body workout from the experience."
Ultimately, Macfarlane said, "Maturity is evident in every sentence, in the rhythms and balances. It is a novel of astonishing control."
The Telegraph noted that Catton's family in New Zealand does not have a television and had not yet had a chance to speak to her about the result. "I feel very honored and proud to be living in a world where the facts of somebody's biography doesn't affect how people read the book," she said. "I think that's true of age and also ethnicity and all sorts of features of being human. When people can look beyond that and consider the work in itself, it's always a good thing, so I think we're lucky in that way."

The Luminaries was released in the U.S. yesterday by Little, Brown.

Notes from Frankfurt 2013

Sascha Lobo (left) of social reading start up sobooks, Torsten Casimir of the Boersenverein's MVB and Rachel Fershleiser of tumblr discuss the future of bookselling.

Prior to the Future of Bookselling panel at Contec, audience members were given small cards with a thumbs-up on one side and a thumbs-down on the other. Sophie Rochester, the panel's moderator and writer for the online magazine the Literary Platform, instructed the audience to use the signs to indicate whether they agreed or disagreed with panelists' statements. The signs were not used until the very end of the panel, when Rochester, playing devil's advocate, proposed that there is no future for bricks-and-mortar bookstores. The response was a sea of thumbs-downs from the audience; all but two attendees disagreed with the statement.


Also at the Future of Bookselling panel, tumblr's Rachel Fershleisher, a former employee of Housing Works Bookstore in New York City, discussed the value of indie bookstores: "If we--I still like to think of myself as an indie bookseller--try to compete with Amazon on selection and price and convenience, then we will disappear from the high streets. But that's not what smart bookstores are competing on any more. We provide a different experience and maximize that value to our customers. Events are key, social experiences in store are key, championing small titles are key... those are experiences that small bookstores are not in competition with anyone else."


At the Publishers Launch conference, Otis Chandler, CEO and co-founder of Goodreads, which was sold to Amazon earlier this year for an amount rumored to top $100 million, said that a key part of international expansion for Goodreads will be expanding its catalogue. He then intended to say that Amazon had "deep databases" but instead said his new owners had "deep pockets." Amid a lot of laughter, he corrected himself and then noted that Amazon does indeed have deep pockets.


Showing a graph of e-book and print book sales in the U.K. over the past several years at a presentation at Publishers Launch, Jonathan Nowell, president of Nielsen Book, pointed out large sales jumps in December for print books while e-book sales showed no particular change. "There is no Christmas in the e-book world," he commented.


According to Len Vlahos, executive director of the Book Industry Study Group, speaking at Contec, the U.S. e-book market is still growing, but at a "very, very modest" rate. The growth rate in past years was in the double or even triple digits; it has fallen to the low single digits. E-books, in fact, showed lower growth last year than hardcover books. He did note, however, that more adult fiction books are sold as e-books in the U.S. than in any other format.


Bus ad promoting author Paulo Coelho

In protest against the Brazilian government in general and the authors chosen to go to Frankfurt as part of Brazil's guest country program, Paulo Coelho decided at the last minute not to attend the fair. Still, he seemed like the most visible person in Frankfurt: his Swiss publisher, Diogenes, had a series of ads featuring his oversized visage on every of the many shuttle buses that ran between the many fair grounds buildings.


At Publishers Launch, Tobias Schmid, head of e-books and e-commerce at Osiandersche Buchhandlung, which has 30 bookstores in 24 southern German cities and the site, said that customers have begun to regard the company's site more "as an online shop as opposed to local bookseller with online business." Sales have risen significantly for the chain overall. One particular area of strength: the four stores in the Lake Constance area near the Swiss border, which draws many Swiss citizens who take advantage of the weak euro in relation to the Swiss franc. This comment prompted moderator and conference co-organizer Mike Shatzkin to say that it was odd for an American to hear of Germany being considered a bargain.


Erika Goldman

During a panel at the Publishing Perspectives Stage, Erika Goldman, publishing and editorial director of Bellevue Literary Press, discussed what it was like for her to make the transition from a traditional publisher to a small, nonprofit press: "As an editor in mainstream publishing, you are a hub for your authors.... You distribute info into other departments, but other people execute things beyond editorial. All of a sudden I found myself in charge of every aspect of the process, including looking at the bottom line very closely, which is quite sobering. It's bracing and empowering, but it can be demoralizing at the same time. You really have a full vision of the implications of everything you do."


Charlie Redmayne with Ed Nawotka

"I don't think I want to be creating products that are morally objectionable," said Charlie Redmayne, CEO of HarperCollins UK, during a discussion with Publishing Perspectives editor-in-chief Edward Nawotka. After mentioning that the recently released video game Grand Theft Auto V had brought in approximately $1 billion in 24 hours, Nawotka had wondered if Harper might ever consider turning one of its thriller franchises into a "potentially morally objectionable" interactive experience as it continues to experiment in creating new forms of digital content. Redmayne continued: "Nor do I want to go into the market and take on game developers. What I'm talking about is taking reading experiences and showing how they have resonance and importance on different devices and how the functionality of devices can change those experiences."

Later in the discussion, Redmayne also commented on the meteoric rise of self-publishing and how large publishers can compete: "Ultimately, authors have a choice. They have a choice between Harper or Penguin or Random House or publishing themselves.... If we are a publisher and we are taking revenue, we have to justify it by adding value. If we don't add value, authors won't go with us. I think it's about quality. I hope what HarperCollins will do is work with authors that produce content and books of great quality. Our brand on one of those books should make that statement [and] ultimately we pay advances as well. But if the only value we bring is advances, then it's not a good business." --John Mutter and Alex Mutter

Schulman Named Rodale President

Scott Schulman has been named president of Rodale Inc. and will assume his new position October 28. Schulman spent more than 13 years at Dow Jones, joining the company in 1999 and more recently serving as president of financial information services for the global Wall Street Journal franchise before taking over the corporate markets group in 2010.

Chairman and CEO Maria Rodale said Schulman "is the right president at the right time for our company. He not only understands the business of digital content, but also is comfortable and adept at making the bold moves necessary to significantly drive revenue and profitability. He has a proven track record of managing and growing a broad array of content brands, but just as important, he believes in our mission to inspire and enable people to improve their lives and the world around them."

Amazon to Collect Sales Tax in Wisconsin

Close upon the heels of last week's announcement of a deal to build a new warehouse in Kenosha, Amazon said it plans to start collecting sales taxes from Wisconsin residents this fall, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported, noting that Amazon has informed the state Department of Revenue it will obtain a Wisconsin seller's permit by November 1 and then begin collecting the taxes.

Club Monaco: Fashion, Coffee & the Strand's Books

The Strand bookstore and Toby's Estate Coffee are partnering with the newly renovated Club Monaco store on 160 Fifth Avenue in New York City to offer "the coziness of a library, a cup of coffee or an Art Deco fireplace in a ladies' lounge as a gateway to a shopping spree," the New York Times reported. Approximately 2,500 titles will be offered by the Strand in the 20,000-square-foot, newly renovated store, which opens Monday.  

photo: Tina Fineberg/NYT

"We wanted to create a space where you don't just come to buy a sweater, but are getting an education on art and culture," said Allison Greenberg, Club Monaco's director of marketing and communications. "You can have a cup of coffee or sit in the library and read a great book that is relevant to the Flatiron district.... We wanted to reinforce our status as a true lifestyle destination."

She added that the bookstore and coffee shop are efforts "to bring our blog to life," referring to Culture Club, which was started two years ago and has more than 260,000 followers, the Times wrote.

Obituary Note: James A. Emanuel

James A. Emanuel, a poet, educator and critic "who published more than a dozen volumes of his poetry, much of it after his frustration with racism in the United States helped motivate him to move to France," died September 28, the New York Times reported. He was 92.


Image of the Day: Litquake Blasts Off with a Sci-Fi Opener

The San Francisco Bay Area loves to mix books and booze, and both were abundant at the opening event of the annual Litquake festival, which celebrated "The Future that Never Was," a 150th-anniversary tribute to Jules Verne. In its 14th year, Litquake brings bookish events to venues all over San Francisco and its environs, from its opening celebration on Friday through the Litcrawl this Saturday.

Alan Beatts (l.), owner of Borderlands Books, with author Jean-Christophe Valtat, who arrived directly from the airport via Paris, on the opening night of Litquake in San Francisco.

Friday's opener featured Alan Beatts, owner of Borderlands Books and Café, and Jean-Christophe Valtat, author of the Steampunk Mysteries of New Venice (Aurorarama and the just-released Luminous Chaos, from Melville House) in conversation about Verne, often called the father of science fiction. In welcoming the bookseller and author to the stage, Litquake cofounder Jack Boulware described Valtat's fiction as "what might happen if Jules Verne took mushrooms."

Litquake continues all week with a variety of events in theaters, bookstores, bars and even on houseboats. This year Ron Turner, founder and publisher of Last Gasp, will receive the Barbary Coast Award and will be toasted and roasted by former employees and members of the area's literati. --Bridget Kinsella

Strong Author Support for Friends of NEIBA Program

"What do Junot Diaz, Gish Jen, Wally Lamb, Margot Livesey, Wendell Minor and Nathaniel Philbrick have in common?" These are just a few of the authors who have already become Friends of New England Independent Booksellers, a new program launched recently by NEIBA to enhance the organization's revenue and strengthen its programming. For $100 a year, an author can support independent bookstores in the New England region as they continue to promote writers, books and reading.

"We just got an immediate 'sign us up' from Tony Horowitz and Geraldine Brooks. And a 'Hey, me too!' from New England Book Award recipient, B.A. Shapiro," said NEIBA executive director Steve Fischer. "I don't think anyone we've asked has said no."

"We decided we would begin with our most obvious (and promotable) potential members, our authors," he added. "We reached out to some of the best known authors in New England and asked their permission to use their names in our marketing materials. Their response was instant and positive in every case. Every bookstore has a cadre of local authors, and here in New England we are blessed with many stores whose regular customers are well known authors. Over the next months we're going to ask all of our members to invite one or two of their local authors to become a Friend."

Boston's Indie Bookstore Growth Includes New Owners

The August sale of Porter Square Books, Cambridge, Mass., marked the "fourth prominent Boston-area independent bookstore to change hands in the past five years," the Boston Globe reported, adding that if "you ask these new owners what they know about the business that they didn't before they switched sides of the cash register, almost to a person they let out a laugh that's less an expression of mirth than a question: 'How much time do you have?' "

"What I miss about my career in industry are the long plane rides where I could read undisturbed," said Jeff Mayersohn, who bought the Harvard Book Store in 2008. "Owning a bookstore is a lot of work."

Future booksellers? Wimpy Kid author Jeff Kinney and his wife, Julie, at last year's Macy's Thanksgiving parade. (photo:

Describing bookstore ownership as "a bed-and-breakfast for people who want to discuss novels with strangers, not serve them muffins," the Globe suggested that owning a bookshop "has become the modern retirement--or midlife escape--fantasy."

"Every day we come home and say this is the best thing we ever did," said Dina Mardell, the new co-owner of Porter Square Books.

In 2010, Gillian and Bill Kohli purchased Wellesley Booksmith (now Wellesley Books), and a year later, when no other buyer emerged for the New England Mobile Book Fair in Newton, Tom Lyons stepped in: "I had no intention of owning a bookstore, but I couldn't get it out of my mind."

Who will be the next bookseller stepping up to the plate? The Boston Globe wrote that bestselling author Jeff Kinney and his wife have plans to build a three-story building in their hometown of Plainville and "also took a two-day book store crash course (with Paz & Associates) and are pondering their next move." Kinney said they would love to open a bookstore: "We understand that we'll have to become a destination location in order to create a viable business. We're currently looking at ways to do that, and if we feel confident that we can get to a break-even state over five years, we'll go forward with the plan."

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Stephen Kinzer on Fresh Air

Today on Fresh Air: Stephen Kinzer, author of The Brothers: John Foster Dulles, Allen Dulles, and Their Secret World War (Times Books, $30, 9780805094978).


Tomorrow morning on CBS This Morning: David Kelley and Tom Kelley, authors of Creative Confidence: Unleashing the Creative Potential Within Us All (Crown Business, $28, 9780385349369).


Tomorrow morning on Fox & Friends: Soleil Moon Frye, author of Let's Get This Party Started: DIY Celebrations for You and Your Kids to Create Together (Stewart, Tabori & Chang, $22.50, 9781617690341). She will also appear on the Chew.


Tomorrow on KCRW's Bookworm: Jonathan Lethem, author of Dissident Gardens: A Novel (Doubleday, $27.95, 9780385534932). As the show put it: "Dissident Gardens chronicles a lost generation of Jewish socialists who lived in Queens in the mid-twentieth century. Lethem's idealistic iconoclasts believed in civil rights and social justice a decade before the popular protest movements of the 1960s, yet watched their utopist dreams decline into disappointments. Lethem reflects on his characters' now-antiquated search for a more just society, and on his own effort to imagine kinship and community with them across generations."


Tomorrow on PRI's To the Point: Eric Schlosser, author of Command and Control: Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Accident, and the Illusion of Safety (Penguin Press, $36, 9781594202278).


Tomorrow on NBC's Extra: Gigi Levangie, author of Seven Deadlies: A Cautionary Tale (Blue Rider, $25.95, 9780399166730).


Tomorrow on CBS's the Talk: Robin Quivers, author of The Vegucation of Robin: How Real Food Saved My Life (Avery, $35, 9781583334737). She will also appear on CBS's the Doctors.


Tomorrow on NPR's Diane Rehm Show: Nicholas Basbanes, author of On Paper: The Everything of Its Two-Thousand-Year History (Knopf, $35, 9780307266422).


Tomorrow on the View: Diane Farr, author of Kissing Outside the Lines: A True Story of Love and Race and Happily Ever After (Seal Press, $16, 9781580053969).

Movies: Walter Mitty; 12 Years a Slave

A new international trailer has been released for Ben Stiller's remake of The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, based on James Thurber's short story. The Film Stage reported the movie "recently hit the festival circuit, first stopping at New York Film Festival." The Secret Life of Walter Mitty opens December 25.


Steve McQueen's 12 Years a Slave, starring Chiwetel Ejiofor and based on the book by Solomon Northup, hits theaters Friday. The Film Stage assembled "a few new materials from the film, including a featurette that highlights Ejiofor's powerful central performance, as well as a batch of new stills from IMDb. A great deal more substantial, however, is two 20-minute discussions from NYFF."

Books & Authors

Book Brahmin: Mike Madrid

photo: Rico Schwartzberg

Mike Madrid is the author of The Supergirls: Fashion, Feminism, Fantasy, and the History of Comic Book Heroines, an NPR "Best Book to Share with Your Friends" and American Library Association Amelia Bloomer Project Notable Book; and Divas, Dames & Daredevils: Lost Heroines of Golden Age Comics, just published by Exterminating Angel Press. Madrid, a San Francisco native and lifelong fan of comic books and popular culture, also appears in the documentary Wonder Women! The Untold Story of American Superheroines.

On your nightstand now:

Atonement by Ian McEwan, various comic books, my iPad and a copy of The Vogue Bedside Book I found at the flea market a while back.

Favorite book when you were a child:

D'Aulaires' Book of Greek Myths. I was constantly checking it out from my grade school library. I love Greek mythology, and this is the book that got me started.

Your top five authors:

Because I grew up reading comic books, I tend to be a visual thinker. I like books that allow me to create movies in my head as I'm reading them, because of the depth that the author brings to the characters and the worlds they live in. Some of my favorites are E.F. Benson, Edith Wharton, Jeffrey Eugenides and Natsuo Kirino. For comic books, I love Jaime Hernandez's work on Love and Rockets. His characters are like friends I've grown up with over the past 30 years.

Book you've faked reading:

I don't actually fake reading books. However I did skim a copy of E.L. James's Fifty Shades of Grey that I found at my local library just to see what the big deal was.

Book you're an evangelist for:

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes by Anita Loos. Edith Wharton hailed it as "the Great American novel," and it is brilliant. It's one of those books that has to be read in the printed form to appreciate the artful use (or misuse) of language.

Book you've bought for the cover:

Too many to mention. I try to check out flea markets in whatever cities I travel to around the world. I'm always drawn to the books, especially when they have great covers. I've found some really good books over the years, particularly in the markets in Berlin. And books are easy to pack, which is a bonus.

Book that changed your life:

The Steranko History of Comics, Volumes 1 and 2. Those books ignited my interest in the early days of comic books and showed me how a nonfiction book could be written in a smart and entertaining style. Very inspirational to me.

Favorite line from a book:

"I will diminish, and go into the West, and remain Galadriel." --from The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien.

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

Hollywood Babylon by Kenneth Anger. I'm still fascinated by the 20th century, and I love any book that really evokes an era.

Book Review

Children's Review: Whale Shines

Whale Shines: An Artistic Tale by Fiona Robinson (Abrams, $17.95 hardcover, 32p., ages 4-8, 9781419708480, November 5, 2013)

Having explored the musical talents of landlubbing creatures in What Animals Really Like, Fiona Robinson turns her attention to artistic-minded ocean-dwellers in this funny and touching tale.

The author-artist begins with a full-bleed spread of a glassy striated surface of blues and greens. In the upper left-hand corner swims a barely visible fish beneath a narrow strip of sky. "Once upon a tide...," the story begins. A turn of the page completes the sentence: "...a whale came with a message." Whale now dominates the spread, front and center, bearing a call for entries for "The Hugest Art Show in the Deep & Briny," curated by Jackson Pollock. As the whale spreads the word, he catalogues all of the projects in progress by his undersea neighbors. Hammerhead composes sculptures from materials left by shipwrecks, Eel makes patterns by wriggling in the sand and, in a studio shared by an octopus, cuttlefish and giant squid, they scare the ink out of each other for their paintings. Robinson endows each with its own palette and adds comic touches, such as the octopus dressed in a sheet and bearing seaweed resembling the chains of Marley's ghost.

Whale wishes he could make something, too, beaching himself on the ocean floor and mumbling, "but I'm just in advertising." A reply comes back from an unlikely ally, "Why don't you try?" It's the plankton, urging Whale on. After ticking off all the reasons why he can't be creative--Robinson plays out the fantasies in a four-panel windowpane spread that heightens the humor--the blue whale says, "So thanks for your support, but please go away before I eat you!" As Whale swishes his tail, however, something happens. Robinson's watercolor and colored pencil illustration zooms in for a close-up; the whale's eye is the same size as one of the plankton, who explains that the bioluminescent phytoplankton glow: "Didn't you know?" This gives Whale an idea.

Robinson's climax pays tribute to Vincent Van Gogh and the idea that a great artist introduces his or her audience to a fresh perspective on the world and shows them a view they've never seen before. The author-artist adds another layer, too: through Whale and the plankton's collaboration, they overcome their differences in service of a greater purpose. --Jennifer M. Brown

Shelf Talker: The author-artist behind What Animals Really Like turns from music to art with this funny and poignant tale featuring creatures from the deep.

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