Shelf Awareness for Monday, December 16, 2013

Dutton Books: When You See Me by Lisa Gardener

St. Martin's Press: Hideaway by Nora Roberts

Other Press: Serenade for Nadia by Zulfu Livaneli, translated by Brendan Freely

Bookshop: A New Online Marketplace - Click to Learn More!

Shadow Mountain:  The Seeking Serum (Potion Masters #3) by Frank L. Cole

Neal Porter Books: Hello, Neighbor!: The Kind and Caring World of Mister Rogers by Matthew Cordell

Ballantine Books: The Book of Lost Friends by Lisa Wingate

Sounds True: The Motherly Guide to Becoming Mama: Redefining the Pregnancy, Birth, and Postpartum Journey by Jill Koziol, Liz Tenety, and Diana Spalding


Indie Bookselling: Post, Times Take Different Tacks

The Jeff Bezos-owned Washington Post has a rousing story entitled "Independent Bookstores Turn a New Page on Brick-and-Mortar Retailing," which states that despite the common mainstream narrative of the past few years, "Independent bookstores are not dead. In fact, in some of the country's most urbane and educated communities, they are making a comeback.

"In an e-tailing world, their resurgence is driven by e-book growth that has leveled off, dyed-in-the-wool print lovers who won't (or can't) abandon page flipping, a new category of hybrid reader (the latest mystery, digital; the latest John Irving, print) and savvy retailers... positioning their stores squarely in the buy-local movement and as a respite from screens."

Laura J. Miller, a Brandeis sociology professor and author of Reluctant Capitalists: Bookselling and the Culture of Consumption, told the Post: "I think what we're seeing is that the inevitable death of any kind of physical retailing was a gross exaggeration. There are a lot of reasons people like going to bricks-and-mortar stores, especially to bookstores that are offering something more than just a convenient shopping experience."

The Post focuses on the Curious Iguana, which opened in September in Frederick, Md., as an example of resurgent indies. As co-owner Marlene England noted, "We just never bought into the sky-is-falling mentality. You see the headlines, but you have to dig deep to see what's really happening."


Speaking of headlines, in a survey of indie booksellers, the New York Times threw a negative one--"Booksellers Wary About Holiday Sales"--on a story that could just as well have had the headline "Booksellers Hopeful About Holiday Sales." The paper's take: on the one hand, e-book sales have flattened this year; on the other hand, the holiday season is short. On the one hand, there's no blockbuster like the Steve Jobs biography of two years ago; on the other hand, plenty of titles are selling well. On the one hand, Amazon is discounting deeply; on the other hand, sales are up at stores contacted by the Times.

The paper's conclusion about this holiday season and bookstores: "It is a grab bag of factors, any one of which could tilt the fortunes of retailers as the holiday book-buying season enters its final days."

Quirk Books: Spark and the League of Ursus by Robert Repino

Russo's Books Closing Bricks-and-Mortar Location

Russo's Books, Bakersfield, Calif., is closing its store at the end of January but will continue to sell online and may reopen at a new location, the Bakersfield Californian reported.

Owner Michael Russo--whose parents, Kathy and Tony Russo, founded Russo's Books in 1989--told the paper that the store's rent was about to rise, although the landlord "has been more than accommodating." Most important, he said, is "finding a business model that works" as "people's reading habits have changed."

The 4,250-square-feet store offers 15,000 books as well as cards, calendars, confections and comics.

Soho Crime: That Left Turn at Albuquerque by Scott Phillips

Barnes & Noble Closing Pleasant Hill, Calif., Store

The Barnes & Noble at the Pleasant Hill Shopping Center in Pleasant Hill, Calif., is closing at the end of the year, the Contra Costa Times reported. The 21,165-square-feet space is being leased to Home Goods, owned by Marshalls. The B&N is the only new bookstore in Pleasant Hill.

David Deason, B&N's v-p of development, told the paper, "During the past year, we made numerous attempts to engage in a dialogue with the property owner to extend the lease, without success."

Kelly Calhoun, economic development manager for Pleasant Hill, said that until the financial crisis in 2008, the 19-year-old B&N had been a major tax generator for the city, but not recently. She added, "We would love to have a small independent bookstore. I think there's still a market for that. There's still a segment of the population that wants a real book in their hand as opposed to a Nook or a Kindle."

Bookshop: A New Online Marketplace - Click to Learn More!

Bookstore Sales Dip 1% in October

October bookstore sales fell 1%, to $799 million, compared to October 2012, according to preliminary estimates from the Census Bureau. For the year to date, bookstore sales have fallen 1.5%, to $10.9 billion. So far this year, sales improved in January, March and September over 2012, but were down every other month, in part because of high sales a year earlier of the Hunger Games and Fifty Shades of Grey trilogies.

Total retail sales in October rose 4.6%, to $417 billion, compared to the same period a year ago. For the year to date, total retail sales have risen 4.3%, to $4,167 billion.

Note: under Census Bureau definitions, the bookstore category consists of "establishments primarily engaged in retailing a general line of new books. These establishments may also sell stationery and related items, second-hand books, and magazines."

Kensington Publishing Corporation: 142 Ostriches by April Davila

Penguin Random House Now Full Owner of Random House Struik

Penguin Random House has purchased the 50.1% share of Random House Struik that was held by New Holland Publishing and its parent company, Times Media Group, and now fully owns the major South African publisher. Random House Struik was formed in 2008 following the merger of Random House South Africa and Struik Publishers.

Penguin Random House International CEO Ian Hudson commented: "We have enjoyed a terrific partnership with Times Media and New Holland Publishing over the last five years and they pass to us a fantastic legacy of a thriving local publishing list and an innovative digital programme, including world-leading nature apps. We look forward to building on this with Random House Struik."

Times Media Group CEO Andrew Bonamour said: "We are very pleased to have concluded the sale of our shareholding in Random House Struik to our long term partners in the business, who we believe will cherish and grow what is generally considered to be the best local publishing list in South Africa."

Random House Struik's local publishing program includes books written in English and Afrikaans under the Struik Lifestyle, Struik Nature, Struik Travel & Heritage, Fernwood Press and Zebra Press non-fiction imprints and the Umuzi fiction imprint. Random House Struik also publishes an array of international authors.

Random House Struik and Penguin Books South Africa will now work to integrate the businesses within Penguin Random House in 2014.

Disney-Hyperion: The Magical Yet by Angela Diterlizzi, Lorena Alvarez

NAIBA Planning Weekend Beach Retreat

The New Atlantic Independent Booksellers Association is planning a two-day retreat for Sunday and Monday, February 23-24, in the Jersey shore town of Manasquan, N.J., that focuses on the challenges facing resort-town bookstores.

Rita Maggio, the owner of Manasquan indie BookTowne, will host an education session Sunday afternoon. Dinner at a local restaurant follows, during which four authors will speak. (Although the list of authors has not been finalized, each author will have a book coming out in summer 2014.) Discussions and networking will continue at breakfast on Monday, with guests departing around lunchtime. NAIBA executive director Eileen Dengler expects some 20-30 attendees.

Obituary Note: Richard Gallen

Longtime publishing attorney and investor Richard Gallen died on December 3. He was 80 and had suffered from complications of Parkinson's disease.

Gallen began his career in 1961 as an attorney with Dell Publishing, before becoming a book packager, entrepreneur and investor. He became involved in partnerships to publish The Autobiography of Malcom X and Games People Play, among many others. In the 1970s and 1980s, Gallen ran a variety of publishing enterprises.

Gallen also provided financial backing and counsel to Baen Books, Tor, Publishers Group West, Carroll & Graf and, most recently, in 2008, The Experiment, which was the last publishing company Gallen helped to found.
Gallen also cofounded GSL Publishing Associates, in 1996, with Tony Schulte and David Lamb. GSL operated until 2011.

The family has suggested memorial gifts be made to the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research or the Departments of Cardiology and Neurology at Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York City.


Image of the Day: WORD Jumps Hudson, Opens in Jersey City

On Saturday, WORD bookstore opened its Jersey City, N.J., location, which is near the Grove Street PATH station. On Thursday, owners Christine and Vincent Onorati hosted a reception to introduce WORD Jersey City to journalists, investors, authors, customers and others. The new store is about four times larger than the WORD in Brooklyn, N.Y., and includes a cafe.

Photo: Alex Mutter

Amazon Quiz: Let's Put the Future Behind Us

Not unlike Star Trek, Amazon's mission is apparently to "explore strange new worlds," but the line between fact and fiction narrowed considerably with the recent unveiling of Prime Air, the company's proposed drone delivery system. Last week, Amazon was in the news again with reports of bulk grocery distribution through Amazon Pantry and a one-cent wine delivery option. Combine this with the revelation that the inimitable George (Mr. Sulu) Takei is one of Amazon's top 1,000 reviewers (his product "evaluations" are priceless), and the Star Trek "strange new worlds" connection is hard to avoid.  

To test your accumulated knowledge of all things Amazon and help you separate fact from fiction, we've created an end-of-year true/false quiz. Answers can be found in the hyperlinks. Begin now:

  1. Blue Origin, a commercial space company owned by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, lost a challenge over NASA's plans to lease one of the space shuttle's dormant launch pads in Florida.
  2. Shortly after the 60 Minutes segment on drone deliveries, Bezos issued an apology for causing concern and outlined the steps Amazon will take to make the sight and sound of drones more natural.
  3. Groupon's R&D team plans to counter Amazon's drone delivery effort with a more traditional dispatch technology of its own.
  4. Amazon changes its prices more than 2.5 million times a day.
  5. Amazon's drones are illegal in the U.S. and the video of one in action on 60 Minutes had to be filmed outside the country.
  6. On January 1, 2100, planet Earth is expected to change its name to Amazon "in what promises to be the most expensive naming rights purchase in the history of mankind."
  7. Not to be outdone by Amazon, Google has acquired an engineering company that designs mobile research robots with names like BigDog, Cheetah, WildCat and Atlas.
  8. "We look forward to a successful relationship with the CIA," an Amazon spokesman said in November.
  9. German shipping company DHL released video footage of its own "Paketkopter" delivering prescription drugs across the Rhine River.
  10. Deer Trail, Colo., is voting on an ordinance that will allow drone hunting, but Phillip Steel, who authored the proposal, said he would shoot down an Amazon Drone on sight, "ordinance or no."

--Robert Gray, contributing editor

Personnel Changes at Insight Editions

At Insight Editions:

Samantha Ferguson has joined the company as international sales director and v-p of business development. She was formerly director of animation sales at VIZ Media, where she worked with distributor Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Group. Before that, she held a similar sales and licensing role with BBC Worldwide. She began her publishing career at Scholastic, moved to HarperCollins and later became senior sales manager at Harry N. Abrams.

Insight Editions CEO Raoul Goff commented: "Insight Editions is growing rapidly, particularly in the co-edition space where we expect the sales to double in 2014. For most of our properties, we are acquiring exclusive global licenses so we see further increased growth in this area. We have reached a point where we need someone 100% dedicated to managing and growing this part of the business. I feel lucky to have found someone with Samantha's background and past experience who brings clear understanding of the intricacies of working with major entertainment licenses. I'm especially delighted I was able to persuade her to come back into book publishing."

Natalie Nicolson has joined the company as publicity manager. She was formerly associate publicist at Perseus's Avalon Travel/Seal Press.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: McMillan Riffs on Beatles vs. Stones

This morning on the Today Show: Michael F. Roizen, M.D., co-author of You: The Owner's Manual An Insider's Guide to the Body That Will Make You Healthier and Younger (Morrow, $19.99, 9780060765323). He will also be on Dr. Oz tomorrow.


Today on MSNBC's the Cycle: John McMillan, author of Beatles vs. Stones (Simon & Schuster, $26, 9781439159699).


Today on CBS's the Talk: Joe Mangeniello, author of Evolution: The Cutting Edge Guide to Breaking Down Mental Walls and Building the Body You've Always Wanted (Gallery, $26, 9781476716701).


Today on the Queen Latifah Show: Art Smith, author of Art Smith's Healthy Comfort: How America's Favorite Celebrity Chef Got it Together, Lost Weight, and Reclaimed His Health! (HarperOne, $27.99, 9780062217776).


Today on Glenn Beck: Brian Kilmeade, co-author of George Washington's Secret Six: The Spy Ring that Saved the American Revolution (Sentinel, $27.95, 9781595231031).


Tonight on Coast to Coast AM with George Noory: Aingeal Rose O'Grady, author of A Time of Change: Akashic Guidance for Spiritual Transformation (Wild Flower Press, $16.50, 9780926524729).


Tomorrow on Hannity: Glenn Beck, author of Miracles and Massacres: True and Untold Stories of the Making of America (Threshold, $27, 9781476764740).


Tomorrow night on the Daily Show: Erik Prince, author of Civilian Warriors: The Inside Story of Blackwater and the Unsung Heroes of the War on Terror (Portfolio, $29.95, 9781591847212).

Books & Authors

Awards: Specsavers National Book Awards

The winners of this year's Specsavers National Book Awards, "a celebration of Britain's best books," have been named. The public will vote online for the Specsavers Book of the Year, with the winner announced December 26. The 2013 category honorees are:

Autobiography/biography: David Jason: My Life by David Jason
Popular fiction: An Officer and a Spy by Robert Harris
Crime book: The Carrier by Sophie Hannah
Food & drink: Eat by Nigel Slater
International author: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
Nonfiction: I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai and Christina Lamb
Author of the year: Life After Life by Kate Atkinson
Children's book: Demon Dentist by David Walliams
Audiobook: The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
New writer: Tigers in Red Weather by Liza Klaussmann

Book Review

Review: Demon Camp: A Soldier's Exorcism

Demon Camp: A Soldier's Exorcism by Jen Percy, Jennifer Percy (Scribner, $26 hardcover, 9781451661989, January 14, 2014)

The Iraq and Afghan wars made "embedded journalism," with reporters riding along with soldiers at the front lines, an instantly recognizable genre of reportage. In Demon Camp, Jennifer Percy embeds herself into the post-combat life of Caleb Daniels, a helicopter maintenance enlistee who humped his way through SERE (Survive, Evade, Resist, Escape) school to get into the illustrious "Night Stalkers" Special Forces 160th Regiment.

When Percy caught up with him, Daniels was out of the military after two Iraq deployments and eight in Afghanistan. He brought home not only the typical nightmares of gratuitous, often chance killings but also the vision of his assigned Chinook helicopter--nicknamed "The Evil Empire"--going down in an attack that left eight members of his unit in charred pieces. Haunted, suicidal, unable to work or stay married, he also came home with a diagnosis of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, something no veteran wants: "PTSD means you're an outcast. It means you're crazy." Instead, Daniels was convinced he was controlled by "demons"--his dead best friend, an unarmed Iraqi he killed, even his harshly critical father. At length, he found some measure of peace at a trailer house parish in tiny Portal, Ga., where Pentecostal preacher Tim Mather claims to have exorcised more than 5,000 demons.

A graduate of the Iowa Writers Workshop with a Pushcart Prize in nonfiction, Percy seems to have been schooled in the Hunter Thompson/Tom Wolfe style of immersion journalism. She drives with Daniels cross-country, gathering other suicidal veterans to have their demons purged by Mather and his backwoods congregation. Percy joins in, observes and briefly succumbs to the "easy, luminous desire to be saved [where] everything is soft-looking and cries with the Holy Spirit... it's like a residue on me, or inside me, spreading like a bitter pill." But she always steps back from the personal to record what she sees and hears.

If the traditional VA hospital treatments don't offer much to Caleb Daniels and similarly broken vets, the Demon Camp seems to hold their nightmares at bay. In Percy's telling, it's a crazy place--or maybe just a place full of crazies. You can't walk away from Percy's strong debut without feeling like you've spent a frightening moment inside the heads of soldiers who come home from war with nothing but demons, no place to go and no easy role to play. --Bruce Jacobs

Shelf Talker: In an auspicious debut, Percy goes deep into the life of an army veteran suffering from post-traumatic stress to understand the debilitating effects of war on returning soldiers.


Patrick Thomas: M.D.'s Fuller C.V.

Patrick Thomas, the new managing director at Milkweed Editions, has had a few more positions at the house than we mentioned in our item on Friday:

He joined the publisher as an intern in 2003. The next year he was hired as a sales and customer service assistant and in 2005 was promoted to sales associate. After a brief respite, he rejoined the company as assistant editor in 2006, and was promoted to associate editor, then editor, and was most recently editor and program manager.

Our apologies for any confusion!

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