Also published on this date: Tuesday, January 2, 2014: Kids' Maximum Shelf: Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy

Shelf Awareness for Thursday, January 2, 2014


Hampton Roads Publishing Company: Becoming Baba Yaga: Trickster, Feminist, and Witch of the Woods by Kris Spisak, Foreword by Gennarose Nethercott

Dial Press: Like Mother, Like Mother by Susan Rieger

Severn House: A Messy Murder (Main) (The Decluttering Mysteries #4) by Simon Brett

Forge: My Three Dogs by Bruce W Cameron

Running Press Adult: Scam Goddess: Lessons from a Life of Cons, Grifts, and Schemes by Laci Mosley

Chronicle Books: Taste in Music: Eating on Tour with Indie Musicians by Luke Pyenson and Alex Beeker

Quotation of the Day

Kate DiCamillo: Getting Many People into the Room

"It wasn't until my fifth or sixth book where I realized I'm trying to do the same thing in every story I tell, which is bring everybody together in the same room. That's the same thing that I want here: to get as many different people into the room as I can. I don't know that I will resonate with a particular group of kids, but I want to get as many kids and as many adults together reading as I can."

--Kate DiCamillo speaking with the New York Times about her impending two-year appointment as national ambassador for young people's literature.

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News

Holiday Hum: 'Twas the Season!

Independent booksellers with whom Shelf Awareness spoke recently all had good news about the holiday season. At worst, sales were even with last year, but most stores reported healthy gains--in some cases, spectacular gains. Sales were particularly strong toward the end of this year's relatively short holiday season. There were fewer blockbuster titles, and more of a range of popular books, which were relatively easy to keep in stock.

The importance of buying local seemed to resonate with many customers, and bookstores said that the Thanksgiving weekend, marked by the wildly successful Indies First and Small Business Saturday promotions, made for an excellent start to the holiday season.

The late-season rush of online sales that overwhelmed UPS and FedEx may have added to the attraction of shopping at local bookstores: the bricks-and-mortar retail business model, allowing hands-on inspection of the product, instant and free "delivery" and, in most cases, complimentary wrapping, fulfilled the needs of most gift-givers, especially those who had put off shopping until the last few days before Christmas.

BookTowne, Manasquan, N.J., had its strongest holiday season since opening in 2007, owner Rita Maggio reported, saying, "Sales were up and there was clear evidence that the community was committed to shopping locally."

The holiday catalogue brought in "a lot of people," Maggio said. Major titles included The Bully Pulpit: Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and the Golden Age of Journalism by Doris Kearns Goodwin, Things That Matter: Three Decades of Passions, Pastimes and Politics by Charles Krauthammer, David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants by Malcolm Gladwell, Killing Jesus by Bill O'Reilly and Martin Dugard, Sycamore Row by John Grisham, The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri, The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt, Hard Luck, Jeff Kinney's latest Wimpy Kid book, Allegiant by Veronica Roth and "of course lots of Christmas books for children, especially the classic ones as well as games and activities. Coffee table books sold very well, especially those in the NAIBA brochure."

Maggio noted, too, that about "90% of customers took advantage of free gift wrapping, and sales for gift certificates were very strong."

Third Place Books' two locations in Lake Forest Park and Ravenna, Wash., had "a very good holiday season," managing partner Robert Sindelar said. One store was up a bit from last year and the other was level. In both cases, "the last few days before Christmas were some of our biggest in the history of the stores," he added. Because of the winning ways this season of the Seattle Seahawks, the stores also tended to be empty for a few hours on Sundays.

Third Place was able to keep in stock the books that sold well, including The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics by Daniel James Brown, I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban by Malala Yousafzai and Christina Lamb, Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened by Allie Brosh, The House Girl by Tara Conklin and Allegiant.

The busiest day of the holiday season at Blue Willow Bookshop, Houston, Tex., was Saturday, December 14, and sales were brisk in the last few days before Christmas and ended up slightly in the month compared to 2012, owner Valerie Koehler said. The store's bestseller was Everything I Need to Know I Learned from a Little Golden Book by Diane E. Muldrow. Koehler added that most of the books she bought specifically for the holidays--art books, humor books and sports--sold "quite well."

For its part, Nicola's Books, Ann Arbor, Mich., saw sales rise over last year "despite a wicked winter storm over one weekend and UPS changing its delivery routes the day before Christmas," owner Nicola Rooney said.

The store sold a wide range of titles instead of many copies of a few books. Still several titles stood out, including The Bully Pulpit, The Goldfinch, The Man He Became by local author James Tobin as well as David and Goliath, "in part because we will be hosting an event for Malcolm Gladwell at the end of January," Rooney added.

The Strand Bookstore, New York City, had its highest daily sales in its 86-year history the Monday before Christmas, which just beat out the previous Saturday, Strand v-p Eddie Sutton told CBS. Sales those days were slightly more than 12% higher than the previous record. Christmas Eve sales were also higher than any previous Christmas Eve, up 25%.

Co-owner Fred Bass said the "astounding" gains proved to him that printed books are far from dead.

Chuck Robinson, co-owner of Village Books, Bellingham, Wash., said that the store had its biggest day ever on Monday, December 23, when sales were up 43% over the same day last year. For December 1-24, Village Books was up about 3.5% over December 2012 and might have done better, Robinson said, "if it hadn't been for the snow on Friday, the 20th, that bit into Saturday." Sales the three days after Christmas were up 14% over the same period last December.

John Evans, co-owner of DIESEL, which has four stores in California, called the holiday season "a blast." DIESEL had its "biggest day ever in the history of the stores" on Christmas Eve at the Brentwood store, which was up 10% for December and for the year. The new Larkspur store "did well and was beautiful and very busy for its first holiday season. Malibu and Oakland were flat relative to last year, but last year was quite busy and up from previous years."

Evans noticed a heightened spirit of joy and gratitude among customers this year, saying, "I was especially surprised and delighted by how many people, when offered help, just said, 'I am just so happy to be here. I'm having a bookstore moment of being absolutely content being here and browsing!' "

Roxanne J. Coady, owner of R.J. Julia Booksellers, Madison, Conn., also noticed a special spirit this year in the store. In an end-of-the-year letter to staff, she wrote, "All of you made R.J. Julia Booksellers a fun place to be, a place of community, a place that was welcoming and smart and beautiful and warm. Because of you, people forgot about the stress and complications of the holiday--just enjoying the moment and a respite from the chaos of shopping.

"Walking around the store last week, I overheard a father say he could hardly believe this kind of place even exists anymore--long assuming that big box bargain stores and online behemoths would have long ago extinguished the survival of a place that had staff that cared, possessed unabated enthusiasm and a desire and commitment to putting exactly the right book in the right hand; staff that delighted in the pleasure of making someone's day better, easier and joyful. The definition of great independent bookstores. It exists, it matters and all of you make it happen." --John Mutter and Alex Mutter


GLOW: Sourcebooks Landmark: A Forty Year Kiss by Nickolas Butler


Closings: Mrs. Nelson's, Booklovers Bookstore

Judy and Byron Nelson, owners of Mrs. Nelson's Toy and Book Shop, La Verne, Calif., are closing the 28-year-old bookstore this month but will continue to operate Mrs. Nelson's Book Fair Company and Mrs. Nelson's Library Services, which are located in Pomona. Mrs. Nelson's Book Fair Company provides book fairs to more than 400 schools, reading conferences and festivals each year, and is managed by daughter Laura Nelson. Mrs. Nelson's Library Services, run by son Patrick Nelson, offers book ordering, binding and rebinding services for school and library books.

In an announcement about the closing, the Nelsons stated that "the retail business is changing and now has an emphasis on 'big box' discount stores. Additionally, the surge in popularity of online sales and e-books has resulted in enormous changes in the book market. Mrs. Nelson's is unable to compete with these trends."

The Nelsons thanked "for all the children, parents and educators, who have supported our store over the past three decades. We are honored to have shared our love of children's literature with you."

The Nelsons own the store's building, according to the Los Angeles Times. Judy Nelson has been involved in local politics for several years, joining the Republican Party district committee, the Glendora City Council and now mayor pro tem.

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The Booklovers Bookstore, Aiken, S.C., is closing its storefront location January 22 but will continue to operate online, the Aiken Standard reported. The store will offer new and used books, with orders accepted via Internet or phone. Customers who want to avoid shipping charges may pick up orders at another store in the shopping center where Booklovers Bookstore is currently located.

Fran Bush, who owns the store with her husband, Don, and daughter, Angela Poe, told the paper: "It was a very hard decision. Like every small business around, this economy hasn't helped us, but if it was just that, we could have possibly hung on. But with me getting sick just about every time I walk in the door of the store, it's not just worth it."


For Sale: Other Tiger Bookstore

In a post on the bookstore's Facebook page yesterday, the owners of Other Tiger, Westerly, R.I., announced that the business has been put on the market "after ten years of glorious bookselling.... As of January 1st, Other Tiger will be for sale, with or without the building and grounds at 90 High Street. If no interested buyers come forward by the end of January, Other Tiger will begin closing." For the rest of the month, customers "will see a celebration of Other Tiger's ten years with sales events and a general party atmosphere."

Robert Utter, who opened the bookshop with Constance Kilgore in 2003, said, "It's been the best time of our lives here. The book world is one of endless fascination and the people who buy books couldn't be better.... We would love to see someone step up and bring new energy to Other Tiger and keep an independent bookstore in Westerly. They have to find me before the month is out."


New Owners for Parson Weems

Linda Cannon and Eileen Bertelli have assumed management and ownership of Parson Weems' Publisher Services. They have incorporated as CannonBertelli LLC and will do business as Parson Weems. Chris Kerr will remain as a partner and will continue calling on longstanding and new customers.

Kerr and Colwyn Krussman founded Parson Weems in 1997.


Obituary Note: Barbara Branden

Barbara Branden, "who helped popularize Ayn Rand's philosophy of self-interest in the 1960s but caused a schism among Ms. Rand's followers with an unauthorized biography [The Passion of Ayn Rand] she wrote after the theorist's death," died on December 11, the New York Times reported. She was 84.


Notes

Customer in a Bookstore: 'I'm Looking for a Book'

"How can I help you?"
"I'm looking for a book."
"Would you happen to have the title?"
"It's a long shot, but I was in my car about a month ago and heard an author on the radio. Sounded really interesting."
"Fiction? Nonfiction?"
"I don't remember."
"Anything about it you can remember?"
"It was raining."

Susan Coll, who works at Politics & Prose Bookstore, Washington, D.C., shared a few all-too-familiar bookseller-customer conversations in a Washington Post op-ed column.



Media and Movies

Movies: Gone Girl Pic; Stephen Colbert in The Hobbit

20th Century Fox offered a first peek at David Fincher's Gone Girl, based on the novel by Gillian Flynn and starring Ben Affleck, Indiewire reported. The movie, which co-stars Rosamund Pike, Kim Dickens, Patrick Fugit, Carrie Coon, Tyler Perry, Neil Patrick Harris and Emily Ratajkowski, opens October 3.

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"Did you miss satirical news pundit Stephen Colbert's brief appearance in the new Hobbit movie?" On David Letterman's late night show, the Comedy Central star and obsessive Tolkien fan revealed he and his family have a cameo in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, where he flashes across the screen as a Lake-town spy, io9 reported. Buzzfeed has more details


Media Heat: Lou Dobbs on Upheaval

Today on KCRW's Bookworm: Goli Taraghi, author of The Pomegranate Lady and Her Sons, translated by Sara Khalili (Norton, $25.95, 9780393063332). As the show put it: "Author Goli Taraghi believes that everyday objects have a lived history behind them that goes back to 'primordial time.' The recent collection The Pomegranate Lady and Her Sons translates many of her short stories of the past 40 years into English for the first time. Taraghi tells how she learned to convert experience into fable, and explains her stories' conscious subtlety in charting the entry of the eternal into the daily world."

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Tomorrow morning on Good Morning America: Dr. Ian Smith, author of Super Shred: The Big Results Diet: 4 Weeks 20 Pounds Lose It Faster! (St. Martin's, $24.99, 9781250044532).

Also on GMA: Drew Chapman, author of The Ascendant: A Thriller (Simon & Schuster, $25, 9781476725888).

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Tomorrow on the O'Reilly Factor: Lou Dobbs, author of Upheaval (Threshold, $26.99, 9781476728858).


This Weekend on Book TV: Village Books, Bellingham, Wash.

Book TV airs on C-Span 2 this weekend from 8 a.m. Saturday to 8 a.m. Monday and focuses on political and historical books as well as the book industry. The following are highlights for this coming weekend. For more information, go to Book TV's website.

Saturday, January 4
10 a.m. Warren Cole Smith, author of Prodigal Press: Confronting the Anti-Christian Bias of the American News Media (P&R Publishing, $17.99, 9781596385979). (Re-airs Sunday at 5:15pm)

12 p.m. Book TV visits Bellingham, Wash., to interview several of the city's authors and tour its literary sites, including Village Books. (Re-airs Sunday at 9:30 a.m.)

3:30 p.m. James Tobin, author of The Man He Became: How FDR Defied Polio to Win the Presidency (S&S, $30, 9780743265157). (Re-airs Sunday at 11:15 p.m.)

7 p.m. Michael Allen, author of Blinking Red: Crisis and Compromise in American Intelligence after 9/11 (Potomac Books, $29.95, 9781612346151).

8:30 p.m. Christopher Parker, author of Change They Can't Believe In: The Tea Party and Reactionary Politics in America (Princeton University Press, $29.95, 9780691151830). (Re-airs Sunday at 3 p.m.)

10 p.m. After Words. Jonah Goldberg, editor-at-large of National Review Online, interviews Yuval Levin, author of The Great Debate: Edmund Burke, Thomas Paine and the Birth of Right and Left (Basic Books, $27.99, 9780465050970). (Re-airs Sunday at 9 p.m. and Monday at 3 a.m.)

11 p.m. John Nichols and Robert McChesney, co-authors of Dollarocracy: How the Money and Media Election Complex Is Destroying America (Nation Books, $26.99, 9781568587073).

Sunday, January 5
7 a.m. Margaret MacMillan, author of The War That Ended Peace: The Road to 1914 (Random House, $35, 9781400068555). (Re-airs Sunday at 10 p.m.)

12 p.m. In Depth. Mark Levin, author most recently of The Liberty Amendments: Restoring the American Republic (Threshold Editions, $26.99, 9781451606270), joins Book TV for a live interview. Viewers can participate in the discussion by calling in during the program or submitting questions to booktv@c-span.org or via Twitter (@BookTV). (Re-airs Monday at 12 a.m.)

7:30 p.m. Max Blumenthal, author of Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel (Nation Books, $27.99, 9781568586342).


Books & Authors

Awards: Specsavers Book of the Year

Neil Gaiman's The Ocean at the End of the Lane was named Specsavers Book of the Year after a public vote among winners of this year's 10 National Book Awards categories. Gaiman's adult novel had won the audiobook category and been shortlisted for Waterstones U.K. Author of the Year. His Fortunately the Milk was also a finalist in the National Book Tokens Children's Book of the Year category.

"I've never written a book before that was so close to my own heart: a story about memory and magic and the fear and danger of being a child," Gaiman said. "I wasn't sure that anyone else would like it. I'm amazed and thrilled that so many other people have read it, loved it, and made their friends read it too. Winning a National Book Award was thrilling; discovering that the public have made The Ocean at the End of the Lane their Book of the Year is somewhere out beyond wonderful. Thank you to everyone who voted."


Attainment: New Titles Out Next Week

Selected new titles appearing next Tuesday, January 7:

Little Failure: A Memoir by Gary Shteyngart (Random House, $27, 9780679643753) is the memoir of the Russian immigrant and novelist.

The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd (Viking, $27.95, 9780670024780) about the journeys of a girl and her handmaid slave, set in the early 19th century in Charleston, S.C.

Hunted: Spirit Animals Book 2 by Maggie Stiefvater (Scholastic, $12.99, 9780545522441) is the second installment of this seven-book series.

Belle Cora: A Novel by Phillip Margulies (Doubleday, $28.95, 9780385532761) is the tale of a 19th century San Francisco parlor house madam.

Decoding Your Dog: The Ultimate Experts Explain Common Dog Behaviors and Reveal How to Prevent or Change Unwanted Ones by the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $27, 9780547738918) explores the causes of dog behaviors.

The Bird Skinner by Alice Greenway (Atlantic Monthly, $25, 9780802121042) follows a solitary retired ornithologist.

My Age of Anxiety: Fear, Hope, Dread, and the Search for Peace of Mind by Scott Stossel (Knopf, $27.95, 9780307269874) offers a global and personal history of anxiety.


Book Review

Review: Orfeo

Orfeo by Richard Powers (W.W. Norton, $26.95 hardcover, 9780393240825, January 20, 2014)

It's hard to beat Richard Powers when he brings his A-game; his reputation as an esoteric intellectual novelist belies his storytelling skills. While his stories are often complex (The Gold Bug Variations, for example, weaves Bach's music, the science of DNA and Poe's "The Gold Bug" into a love story spanning decades), their very human characters and settings push his encyclopedic knowledge into the background.

One of his more accessible and satisfying novels, Orfeo is the story of Peter Els, a divorced composer, retired professor and amateur chemist. Els is a 20th-century Orpheus on his own journey through a modern American Hades seeking not only to reconnect with his former wife and estranged daughter, but also to create an eternal score of the music of the universe, "a forward stumbling surge that wavers, sometimes in a single measure, between the key of hope and the atonal slash of nothingness."

Orfeo begins with Els tinkering in a home lab trying to embed his last unwritten score into modified DNA strands where it can replicate forever. When he mistakenly calls 911 after his dog suffers a heart attack, the responding officers discover a disconcerted professor with a house full of strange chemistry books and Petri dishes of bacteria, and his perceived threat level immediately rises. As he flees to a friend's remote summer cabin, Homeland Security's pursuit of the "Bioterrorist Bach" goes viral.

Full of Powers's explication of the history and technical nuances of music, Orfeo is also the story of a "naïve and misguided" man's life. Powers takes us back to Els's first music-loving girlfriend: "at eighteen, hearing these songs while holding Clara's breasts was like graduating from the Crayola eight-pack to the rainbow box of sixty-four." As he walks his dog in a park, we watch him follow an iPod-wearing jogger who "ran like an anatomy lesson," clicking through a playlist on shuffle, "the Monte Carlo game that had changed music forever--like a random speed-date suitor."

In a virtuoso performance, Powers roams as easily through modern technology as he does through arcane opera. His language, humor and sheer exuberance make this modern tale of Orpheus as fresh as the latest Al Jazeera cellphone video. With Powers's history of winning awards, it would be no surprise to see Orfeo on the 2014 National Book Award shortlist. It's a stunning novel. --Bruce Jacobs

Shelf Talker: Powers brilliantly portrays a retired composer on the run from Homeland Security, confronting his past as he creates his last musical score.


The Bestsellers

Top-Selling Self-Published Titles

The bestselling self-published books last week as compiled by IndieReader.com:

1. The Elf on the Shelf by Carol V. Aebersold and Chanda B. Bell
2. The Arrangement 12 (The Ferro Family) by H.M. Ward
3. Until You (Fall Away Series) by Penelope Douglas
4. Bully (Fall Away Series) by Penelope Douglas
5. The Atlantis Gene: A Thriller by A.G. Riddle
6. Trouble by Samantha Towle
7. The Atlantis Plague by A.G. Riddle
8. Noble Intentions: Season Two by L.T. Ryan
9. A Naughty Little Christmas by Various
10. Broken by Kelly Elliott

[Many thanks to IndieReader.com!]


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