Shelf Awareness for Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Scholastic Press: Beastly Beauty by Jennifer Donnelly

St. Martin's Essentials: Build Like a Woman: The Blueprint for Creating a Business and Life You Love by Kathleen Griffith

Margaret Ferguson Books: Not a Smiley Guy by Polly Horvath, Illustrated by Boris Kulikov

Bramble: Pen Pal Special Edition by J.T. Geissinger

Sourcebooks Landmark: Long After We Are Gone by Terah Shelton Harris

Soho Crime: Broiler by Eli Cranor

Berkley Books: We Love the Nightlife by Rachel Koller Croft


More ABA Business: New-Store Strength; Many Alliances

Before we go into some of the highlights of the ABA's activities at BEA that didn't have to do with dues, executive salaries and transparency, we want to clarify one item from yesterday's story about the association's town and annual meetings.

As we reported, Susan Novotny of the Book House of Stuyvesant Plaza in Albany, N.Y., told the town meeting that Cody's Books owner Andy Ross was not coming to that meeting because he couldn't afford his dues. Ross himself called yesterday to let us know that this was inaccurate. "What I said to Susan was that I didn't know if I'd paid my dues or not because I've been too busy with other things," he stated. "I just wasn't thinking about it. It turns out that I am current." (Last fall, of course, Ross opened a 20,000-sq.-ft. store in San Francisco, and recently he announced that the original store in Berkeley will close in July. A third store, also in Berkeley, is quite healthy.)

Ross noted that while it was "heartbreaking" to decide to close the Telegraph Avenue store, it is "the right decision" and something "I should have done long ago. Now I'm restructuring my business and concentrating on prospering. I can certainly afford my ABA dues."


The ABA's membership figures showed evidence of the growth of new stores. While bookstore members declined 2.5% to 1,660 in the past year, this was a smaller decrease than in past years, and some 195 were new members, which president Russ Lawrence called "a huge deal." Moreover, provisional memberships grew 31.5% to 163.


One of the ABA's many member campaigns is aimed at Spanish-language stores. One component of this is a LibroSmarts prototype based on Book Sense Picks.


The Book Sense Web site is undergoing a "total redesign," CEO Avin Domnitz said.


The first Legislative Day, held last Wednesday, drew more than 100 booksellers, who heard Washington lawyer-agent Robert Barnett, received briefings on legislative matters and then traveled to Capitol Hill for meetings with their own senators and representatives. Afterwards they met to honor Rep. Bernie Sanders (I.-Vt.), who has fought against the Patriot Act.


Since the ABA introduced the program two and a half years ago, some $11 million worth of gift cards have been sold. Of particular interest to retailers' accountants, 48% are still not redeemed.


Several people praised the ABA's already highly praised first Winter Institute, which was held in January in Long Beach, Calif. For example, Danny Givens of Givens Books in Lynchburg, Va., said that because his store carries toys and teachers' supplies, "I get to go to a lot of conventions," and the Winter Institute was the best by far. "I brought back and am implementing many great ideas," he added.


Established after Hurricane Katrina, the Bookseller Relief Fund gave out 50 emergency grants of $500 to booksellers affected by Katrina and $80,000 in catastrophic grants to the most severely affected bookstore owners. In a poignant moment, Scott Naugle of Pass Christian Bookstore, Pass Christian, Miss., which was devastated by Hurricane Katrina, thanked the ABA and its members for help it gave the store.


Barnes&'s collection of sales tax on online book purchases has led to an unusual alliance. At the ABA town meeting, COO Oren Teicher mentioned that he and CEO Avin Domnitz have met "with folks at B& to try to convince Amazon to do the right thing."


The ABA is cooperating with Peter Osnos's Caravan Project, which is investigating how to use existing and emerging technologies to increase the availability and variety of format of serious nonfiction books across all channels for sales and distribution, in stores and online. Domnitz said the association wants "to make sure independents are at the table when technology is talked about in" in connection with distribution channels.


And last but not least, ABA president Russ Lawrence emphasized that he, the board and staff want to hear from members and encouraged them to communicate via "phone, e-mail or the ever-appropriate written word."

University of California Press: May Contain Lies: How Stories, Statistics, and Studies Exploit Our Biases--And What We Can Do about It by Alex Edmans

Notes from BEA: Updike Not Down with Digitization

At Saturday's Book & Author Breakfast, John Updike barely talked about his upcoming book, Terrorist, and more about the culture and the place of the book and booksellers in it.

"You are in the front while writers cower in their studies," he told the audience. "I see bookstores as citadels of life. They civilize neighborhoods." His favorite local store "brightens my life and the whole street it's on."

Speaking of the May 14 New York Times Magazine article called "Scan This Book!" about the universal library of the future--where all texts would be available digitally and snippets of them mixed together the way listeners mix favorite music--Updike mocked some of the writer's predictions, including that authors will be involved in more performances and that readers will have "access to the creator." He called the article's vision a "pretty grisly scenario," a kind of "throwback to a preliterate society where only a live person adds, shall we say, value." He wondered if the culture of celebrity had made "signed books seen only as a ticket to the lecture platform." The written word, he continued, is "supposed to speak for itself and sell itself even if the author's picture is not on the back cover." Sadly, he said, the author has grown "in importance as the walking, talking advertisement for a book."

Authors will "soon be like surrogate birth mothers," he predicted, with seeds "planted by high-powered consultants" and their works then "dropped into the marketplace."

He noted, too, that "yes, there is a ton of information on the Web but much of it is unedited and inaccurate." By contrast, the book, he continued, "is still more exacting and demanding of writers and consumers."

He concluded, "Booksellers, defend your lonely forts. Keep your edges dry. Your edges are our edges. For some of us, books are intrinsic to our human identity."


Speaking of his 1995 book, Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance, which became a bestseller after this speech at the Democratic National Convention in 2004, Senator Barack Obama told the audience at Saturday's Book & Author Breakfast:

"I want to thank all of you. Many of you did a wonderful thing of resuscitating and bringing new life to something I wrote long ago and doubted I would ever see alive again. It could not have touched so many people if you hadn't made the efforts you did."


Bob Barnett, senior partner at Williams & Connolly and agent for many politician-writers, said this on Wednesday at the ABA's Legislative Day program:

"I love booksellers. In my next life, I want to be a bookseller although some of you may dissuade me."


The Philadelphia Inquirer has a long account of the BEA panel Selling and Promoting Right of Center Books Via Left of Center Channels. During it, Bernadette Malone, senior editor for Sentinel, the new conservative imprint at Penguin, commented: "There are very few right-wing book editors in Manhattan. All of them can sleep in my studio apartment and roll beds out."

In addition, Marjory G. Ross, publisher of Regnery Publishing, said, according to the paper, "People even sabotage books. [Liberal bookstore clerks] will put [a conservative] book on the bottom shelf, or on a back table."


Michael Taeckens, publicity director of Algonquin Books, was happily giving away finished copies of Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen ($23.95, 1565124995), whose official pub date is May 26. The buzz among booksellers was so great this spring that after Algonquin sent out about 1,000 galleys, many other booksellers requested galleys. As a result, the publisher made an unusual galley move, going back to press for a second printing and winding up with a total of 2,000 galleys in print.


One of the busiest signings at BEA involved 16 contributors to Thriller: Stories to Keep You Up at Night edited by James Patterson (Mira, $24.95, 0778322998). (Another 17 contributors were unable to come to BEA.) On Saturday people began lining up at the Harlequin booth at 9 a.m. for the 11 a.m. signing. By 11:20, the publisher gave out the last of the 500 copies brought to the show. Among the signers: Katherine Neville, James Grippando, Denise Hamilton, M.J. Rose, Eric Van Lustbader as well as David Morrell and Gayle Lynds, co-founders of International Thriller Writers, which organized the anthology. None of the authors had done a group event like that and were reportedly as enthusiastic as the more than 500 attendees.

GLOW: becker&mayer! kids: The Juneteenth Cookbook: Recipes and Activities for Kids and Families to Celebrate by Alliah L. Agostini and Taffy Elrod, illus. by Sawyer Cloud

Notes: Online Sales Grow; State of the Indies

Online sales are expected to rise 20% this year to $211 billion, "with pet supplies and cosmetics experiencing leading growth," according to an annual study by Forrester Research and, as reported by Reuters.

The study found that "gift cards offered by nearly half of all online retailers and loyalty programs offered by a third have helped increase sales" and that "greater integration between retailers' traditional stores and their Web sites have alleviated pricing confusion and increased loyalty."


Starbucks may begin selling books in U.S. stores as early as the Christmas selling season, according to a MarketWatch report of a speech by chairman Howard Schultz. "He did not give details on how the company will specifically partner with authors or publishing firms, but said the work of popular authors could be featured," the service said. See our May Day issue for background.


Two long pieces, one in the Village Voice and the other in the Guardian, survey, respectively, the state of U.S. and U.K. independent bookselling.

[Many thanks to Nicki Leone of SIBA for the Guardian tip.]

G.P. Putnam's Sons: Assassins Anonymous by Rob Hart

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Anderson Cooper on Oprah

This morning on the Today Show: Patricia Cornwell, author of At Risk (Putnam, $21.95, 0399153624).

Also this morning on the Today Show, it's Father's Day prep: Tim Russert whose new book is Wisdom of Our Fathers: Lessons and Letters From Daughters and Sons (Random House, $22.95, 1400064805) appears. The Meet the Press host also meets Larry King this evening.


Today on Oprah: Anderson Cooper, the CNN star whose new memoir is Dispatches From the Edge (Harper, $24.95, 0061132381).


Today WAMU's Diane Rehm Show hooks up with W. Hodding Carter, author of Flushed: How the Plumber Saved Civilization (Atria, $24, 0743474082).


Planned for the View today: David Tutera, author of Big Birthdays: The Party Planner Celebrates Life's Milestones (Bulfinch, $29.95, 082126172X).


Tonight on the Charlie Rose Show: Jonathan Alter, whose new book is The Defining Moment: FDR's Hundred Days and the Triumph of Hope (S&S, $29.95, 0743246004).


Tonight the Daily Show with Jon Stewart offers a repeat of a recent appearance by David Remnick, editor of the New Yorker and author of Reporting: Writing from the New Yorker (Knopf, $27.95, 0307263584).

G.P. Putnam's Sons: Summer Romance by Annabel Monaghan

Books & Authors

Attainment: New Books Next Week, Vol. 1

Some major titles with laydown dates next Tuesday, May 30:

The Husband by Dean R. Koontz (Bantam, $27, 0553804790). A gardener has 60 hours to raise $2 million to release his kidnapped wife.

Dark Side of the Moon by Sherrilyn Kenyon (St. Martin's, $19.95, 0312357435). The Dark Hunter series author makes her debut in hardcover.

The Cold Moon by Jeffery Deaver (S&S, $26, 0743260937). Another Lincoln Rhyme novel.

Star Wars Legacy of the Force: Betrayal by Aaron Allston (Del Rey, $25.95, 0345477340). Enough said.

The Book of the Dead by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child (Warner, $25.95, 0446576980). FBI agent Aloysius Pendergast battles his demonic brother, Diogenes.

Killer Dreams by Iris Johansen (Bantam, $26, 0553803441). Another very fast-paced thriller from Johansen.

My Struggle With Faith by Joseph F. Girzone (Doubleday, $19.95, 0385517122). A spiritual memoir from the bestselling author and former priest.

The Good Good Pig: The Extraordinary Life of Christopher Hogwood by Sy Montgomery (Ballantine, $21.95, 0345481372). The author of Journey of the Pink Dolphins writes about her late beloved pet pig.

A Heckuva Job: More of the Bush Administration in Rhyme by Calvin Trillin (Random House, $12.95, 1400065569). The author's second book poking fun at the president in verse.

Mandahla: The Wheelman and Overheard in New York Reviewed

The Wheelman by Duane Swierczynski (St. Martin's Minotaur, $23.95, 0312343779, September 2005)
You know those signs posted outside rides at Disney World that caution people with bad backs, weak hearts and general jitters to consider other options? That sign should be made into a sticker and slapped on the front of this book. A bank heist goes sideways when the getaway driver, a mute Irishman named Lennon, is left for dead after being beaten and stuffed down a drain pipe. In short order, the Russian mafiya, the Italian mafia, crooked cops and ex-cops, a girlfriend who may or may not have betrayed Lennon, and many more populate and litter the landscape of Philadelphia in this careening ride of a story. The chapters are short, cleverly captioned, and sometimes only a page or less. The writing is sardonic and violent, but not gory. What makes The Wheelman best of show are the constant surprises and shifts as Lennon attempts to get both the stolen money and revenge. If you could get whiplash reading a thriller, The Wheelman would do it. Sit down, hang on, and make sure there's a lid on your drink.--Marilyn Dahl


Overheard in New York by S. Morgan Friedman and Michael Malice (Chamberlain Bros, $12.95 paperback, 1596092017, January 2006)
Are conversations overheard in the Big Apple more bizarre than, say, Charlotte, N.C., or Amarillo, Tex.? Probably not, but people in New York do have a web site for eavesdroppers, resulting in this hilarious compilation.
  • Woman: "Having sex with him was the same as eating a slice of Wonder bread while looking in the window of a Crate & Barrel."
  • Little girl: "Mommy, why do people in New York always wear black?"
  • Mommy: "I don't know. Maybe they just don't like looking pretty."
  • Woman: "Can I get two pretzels to go?"
  • Cart guy: "To go? As opposed to what, eat in?"
  • Salesgirl: "How'd you get that bruise?"
  • Customer: "I was jump-roping and I fell."
  • Salesgirl: "Aren't you a little old to be jump-roping?"
  • Customer: "Aren't you a little fat to be working at the Gap?"
Perfect for random (i.e., bathroom) reading, as well as a lively addition to this season's travel display, Overheard in New York is definitely not for the prudish. A real bonus: Lawrence Block's introductory story which is, as they say, worth the price of admission.--Marilyn Dahl

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