Shelf Awareness for Thursday, February 6, 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

Author on WI9: 'Witnessing Firsthand the Fervor' of Indies

"What I truly enjoy about these dinners is witnessing firsthand the fervor indie people bring to running their bookstores. Work for them is creating community, building relationships with customers, and handselling books because they've taken the time to learn what individual customers like. What indie people want from me at these dinners is a sense of whether my book belongs on their shelves; i.e., can they visualize actual customers to whom they can hand the novel and say with assurance, 'You will love this.' "

--Martha Woodroof, author of Small Blessings, recalling her trip to Seattle for ABA's Winter Institute in her latest "First Novel Experience" post on NPR's Monkey See blog

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Indigo 3rd Quarter: Sales Up 3%, Profits Slip

In the third quarter ended December 28, revenues at Indigo Books & Music rose 3%, to C$332.4 million (U.S.$300 million), and net earnings fell 61.4%, to C$8.5 million (U.S.$7.67 million).

At Indigo and Chapters superstores open at least a year, sales rose 2.6%, while sales at Coles and Indigospirit small format stores open at least a year rose 0.5%. Online sales increased 19.3%, to C$41.5 million (U.S.$37 million).

The company attributed much of the gain to "double-digit growth in its lifestyle, paper, and toy businesses and new revenue from its recently launched !ndigotech business. Additionally, the company experienced growth in its print business due to a strong line-up of hit titles. The revenue growth was achieved despite the company operating eight fewer small format stores and one less superstore compared to the same time last year."

CEO Heather Reisman commented: "It is very satisfying to see the company achieve this positive growth, particularly given the impact of unusually bad weather this holiday season. Clearly the investments we are making to transform Indigo are resonating with our customers."

Indigo said net earnings declined "as a result of both higher tax expense as the company recorded a valuation allowance against the deferred tax assets and intentional investments made to advance the company's transformational agenda. Specifically, the company invested in expanding merchandising space for growing categories within its existing superstores, in online marketing to drive customer acquisition, in improving its online capabilities and launching additional !ndigotech locations."

Indigo noted that during the quarter, it launched its Indigo Mobile App for both Android and iOS platforms.

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

Detroit's Shrine of the Black Madonna Holding Liquidation Sale

The Shrine of the Black Madonna Bookstore and Cultural Center in Detroit, Mich., founded in 1970, is having a liquidation sale, and a committee will decide how to use its space, which could include a new store, the Detroit Free Press reported.

There was no word on the fate of the Shrine bookstore and cultural centers in Houston, Tex., and Atlanta, Ga.

Nilaja Stewart, national secretary for the Shrine church, told the paper that "business has been very slow for the last five years," leading management to consider other ways to serve the community.

The bookstore, which stocks books, jewelry, greeting cards and much artwork, has faced online competition as well as the more widespread availability of what it sells. "You can now buy African art at Marshalls even though it may not be authentic," Stewart said. "At one time, you pretty much had to come to the Shrine to see a large assortment of greeting cards with black people on them. Now you can buy them at Target. So if you're already at the mall, you're not going to make a special trip to come to the Shrine."

Pratchett Will Be London Book Fair 'Author of the Day'

Sir Terry Pratchett will be Author of the Day on April 8 for the opening of this year's London Book Fair, where his work will be the focus of "a program of events to celebrate the writer's place at the heart of the international publishing industry." Children's laureate Malorie Blackman had previously been announced as the London Book Fair Children's Author of the Day for April 10.

"Terry's presence at the London Book Fair 2014 is a complete treat; a national icon and international inspiration, Terry has created a literary fan base of millions around the world; his contribution to the book industry is tremendous and his influence continues to stimulate  new generations of readers in numerous markets and languages," said London Book Fair director Jacks Thomas. "We are looking forward very much to welcoming him to Earls Court in April."

Larry Finlay, managing director of Transworld Publishing, added: "All of us at Transworld and Random House Children's Publishers are so proud to publish Sir Terry Pratchett. I cannot think of another writer who has done more to entertain and inspire readers across the last three decades."

Obituary Note: Pamela Vandyke Price

Pamela Vandyke Price, "one of the first women to write about wine" whose books included monographs on the wines of Alsace and the Graves, two Penguin handbooks on wines and spirits, a guide to the art of tasting wine and a memoir, A Woman of Taste, died January 12, the Guardian reported. She was 90.


Getting Schooled: U.K. University Offers Self-Publishing M.A.

The University of Central Lancashire in Preston, which has had an M.A. Publishing program for several years, is now offering a Self-Publishing M.A., which introduces itself this way: "Having produced commercial success stories, such as 50 Shades of Grey, self-publishing is now a highly successful and respected business model for both new and established authors. This dynamic course, the first of its kind in the world, reveals how to make self-publishing work for you."

Taught by "industry experts," UCLan's Self-Publishing M.A. program promises to "equip you with all of the necessary skills you will need to be a self-published author, including how to edit your book, how to lay it out, how to monitor sales, how to manage yourself and your finances, marketing yourself and your book and how to create an e-book. The final part of the course will give you the opportunity to complete a finished copy of your book."

Pushkin Press Inks New Distribution Agreement

Effective July 1, Pushkin Press will be sold and distributed in North America and several other countries under an agreement managed by Hanover Publisher Services through Random House Publisher Services.

Pushkin Press, London, England, was founded in 1997 and publishes novels, memoirs and children's books--from classics to the contemporary. In its first season under the new distribution agreement, Pushkin will publish three paperback reprint titles, three new works for adults and 10 titles under its new Pushkin Children's Books imprint, which will make its North American debut.

Hanover Publisher Services also provides sales and distribution management through Random House Publisher Services for Archipelago Books, Brooklyn, N.Y., Campfire Graphic Novels, New Delhi, India, New Europe Books, Williamstown, Mass., and Steerforth Press, Hanover, N.H.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Real Time Hosts Charlie Crist, P.J. O'Rourke

Tomorrow night on HBO's Real Time with Bill Maher: Charlie Crist, co-author of The Party's Over: How the Extreme Right Hijacked the GOP and I Became a Democrat (Dutton, $26.95, 9780525954415).

Also on Real Time: P.J. O'Rourke, author of The Baby Boom:  How It Got That Way… And It Wasn't My Fault… And I'll Never Do It Again (Atlantic Monthly Press, $25, 9780802121974).

TV: 'Winter Is Coming' to the Olympics

In a perfect, if frigid, blend of fact and fantasy, Peter Dinklage, who plays Tyrion Lannister in the HBO adaptation of George R.R. Martin's Game of Thrones, will also be the voice of tonight's opening tease for a montage that will begin NBC's coverage of the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Entertainment Weekly reported, noting that NBC Olympics executive producer Jim Bell "made the announcement via Twitter (with the hashtag #winteriscoming, of course)."

This Weekend on Book TV: Ishmael Beah

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, February 8
7:30 p.m. Robert Miraldi, author of Seymour Hersh: Scoop Artist (Potomac Books, $34.95, 9781612344751).

9 p.m. Ishmael Beah, author of Radiance of Tomorrow (Sarah Crichton Books, $25, 9780374246020), at BookPeople, Austin, Tex. (Re-airs Sunday at 10 a.m.)

10 p.m. After Words. Washington Post intelligence reporter Dana Priest interviews John Rizzo, author of Company Man: Thirty Years of Controversy and Crisis in the CIA (Scribner, $28, 9781451673937). (Re-airs Sunday at 9 p.m. and Monday at 12 a.m. & 3 a.m.)

11 p.m. Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee, co-authors of The Second Machine Age: Work, Progress, and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Technologies (Norton, $26.95, 9780393239355). (Re-airs Monday at 1:45 a.m.)

Sunday, February 9
3:45 p.m. Frances Goldin, Debby Smith and Michael Steven Smith, editors of Imagine: Living in a Socialist USA (Harper Perennial, $15.99, 9780062305572), discuss the book with some of the contributors--filmed at Housing Works Bookstore Cafe in New York City.    

6:45 p.m. Chris Edelson, author of Emergency Presidential Power: From the Drafting of the Constitution to the War on Terror (University of Wisconsin Press, $26.95, 9780299295301).

7:45 p.m. Greg Grandin, author of The Empire of Necessity: Slavery, Freedom, and Deception in the New World (Metropolitan Books, $30, 9780805094534).

10 p.m. David Kertzer, author The Pope and Mussolini: The Secret History of Pius XI and the Rise of Fascism in Europe (Random House, $32, 9780812993462).

11 p.m. Douglas Egerton, author of The Wars of Reconstruction: The Brief, Violent History of America's Most Progressive Era (Bloomsbury Press, $30, 9781608195664), at Politics & Prose Bookstore, Washington, D.C. (Re-airs Monday at 7 a.m.)

Books & Authors

Awards: Poets & Writers Awards; Shaughnessy Cohen Prize

Poets & Writers has chosen Ian Frazier, Haki R. Madhubuti and Joyce Carol Oates to receive the 2014 Barnes & Noble Writers for Writers Awards, and Kate Medina, executive v-p, associate publisher and executive editorial director of Random House, will receive this year's Editor's Award.

The awards will be presented at Poets & Writers' annual benefit dinner, In Celebration of Writers, which takes place March 11 in New York City.

Poets & Writers said that author and humorist Ian Frazier will be recognized for "his dedication to the Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen Writers' Workshop, which he started in 1995."

Haki R. Madhubuti, poet, publisher and professor, will be recognized for "his efforts to expand opportunities for African American writers. Those efforts include co-founding Third World Press, leading the establishment of the Gwendolyn Brooks Poetry Center at Chicago State University, and founding an MFA program at Chicago State that is one of the only graduate creative writing programs in the nation at a predominantly African American university, with a curriculum rooted in African American literature."

Joyce Carol Oates will be recognized for "promoting emerging writers through the Ontario Review and Ontario Review Press, which she founded and ran with her late husband, Raymond J. Smith, and the Pushcart Prize anthology, for which she served as a founding editor."


The Writers' Trust of Canada has released its shortlist for the $25,000 Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing, Quillblog reported. The winner will be announced April 2 at the Writers' Trust Politics and the Pen gala in Ottawa. The finalists are:

The War That Ended Peace: The Road to 1914 by Margaret MacMillan
Happy City: Transforming Our Lives Through Urban Design by Charles Montgomery
Whatever Happened to the Music Teacher? by Donald J. Savoie
The Dogs Are Eating Them Now: Our War in Afghanistan by Graeme Smith
The Longer I'm Prime Minister: Stephen Harper and Canada, 2006- by Paul Wells

Attainment: New Titles Out Next Week

Selected new titles appearing next Tuesday, February 11:

Operation Paperclip: The Secret Intelligence Program that Brought Nazi Scientists to America by Annie Jacobsen (Little, Brown, $30, 9780316221047) sheds new light on a notorious post-World War II program.

HRC: State Secrets and the Rebirth of Hillary Clinton by Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes (Crown, $26, 9780804136754) explores Hillary Clinton's career since the 2008 Democratic presidential primary.

And appearing tomorrow, February 7:

The Snowden Files: The Inside Story of the World's Most Wanted Man by Luke Harding (Vintage, $14.95, 9780804173520) is by a foreign affairs correspondent for the Guardian, the paper that first disclosed that Edward Snowden would be leaking hundreds of thousands of secret documents from the U.S. government.

Jamie Ford: Literary Vaudeville

Vegas, baby: Ford with authors Jenny Shortridge and Denise Kienan

Transforming himself into debauched, eccentric Hunter S. Thompson is all in a day's work for novelist Jamie Ford. Outfitted in a Hawaiian-print shirt and fisherman's hat, gripping a cigarette holder and a bottle of booze, he recently attended a costume soiree at the Pulpwood Queen Girlfriend Weekend in East Texas, an annual gathering of authors and readers where this year's theme was "Viva Las Vegas, Baby!"

Ford has traveled from Illinois to Italy promoting his second novel, Songs of Willow Frost, since it was published last September. By the time he's done touting the tale, he'll have state-hopped and ocean-crossed his way to more than 45 events, including some in Norway. Ford is no stranger to the whirlwind schedule, having toured extensively for his hit debut novel, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet.

"I say that my books have a career, I'm just along for the ride, which I stole from Pamela Anderson," joked Ford. (The actress quipped something similar about her breasts.)

Events for Ford's novels have ranged from a visit to a medium security prison to a country club tea to a walking tour along Seattle streets. One gathering drew more than 1,000 people, necessitating a state-mandated police escort, while at another a librarian asked him to ring her bell--literally--which was then added to a collection of signed chimes.

Making appearances is the flip side of Ford's "monastic lifestyle" as a writer and an aspect of the job he enjoys. "To interact with readers is really fun," he said. "I think of book events as 50% entertainment, 40% education and 10% reading, if that. It's literary vaudeville."

During talks, he delves into the historical aspects of the novels and shares stories behind the books. Set in Depression-era Seattle, Songs of Willow Frost centers on a young Chinese American boy, William, who glimpses a familiar-looking actress on screen; convinced she's his mother, he runs away from the orphanage where he lives to track her down. Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet also takes place in Seattle, shifting between the 1980s and the 1940s, when 12-year-old friends Henry and Keiko are separated after she is sent to an internment camp for Japanese Americans during World War II.

Readers are often curious to know which aspects of Ford's novels are autobiographical. One answer is that the stories are infused with feelings drawn from real-life circumstances. "I think authors channel quite a bit of emotion in their work. There were father and son things that came up in Hotel, and I just went with it," said Ford. Songs of Willow Frost, on the other hand, is "definitely a mother/son book. I dedicate the book to my mom. Not that it's biographical or autobiographical, but there is a lot of emotional angst there. Without it being a Dr. Phil moment, it comes from an emotional well somewhere."

Sometimes event attendees share their connections to the stories. Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet has opened doors for some people once reluctant to speak with family members about their experiences in war-time internment camps, which changed when they read the book together. Ford was even invited to a reunion of former internees of Camp Minidoka, depicted in the novel, where "Don't Fence Me In" was a darkly comic selection on the karaoke repertoire.

At one of Ford's appearances, a woman announced that the figure in the frontispiece photo in Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet is her aunt, Mae Yanagi. The identity of the little girl shown in the image, which is housed at the National Archives, hadn't previously been known. Mae and her family have since joined Ford at signings in the Sacramento area, where she lives. Another memorable moment took place when a woman approached Ford at an event to share that like William in Songs of Willow Frost, she had grown up at the Sacred Heart Orphanage in Seattle, abandoned by a mother who couldn't afford to provide for her and her siblings.

Inquiring minds also want to know how life has changed for Ford, a former advertising executive, since he became a bestselling author. "I think that's a funny question because I'm like, 'Is my life supposed to change?'" he said. "You pull back the curtain, it's not quite so glamorous. I still have to pick up dog poop in the backyard." When he's not on the road, Ford is at home in Montana playing "Mr. Mom" to a blended family that includes six teenagers.

A self-described "geeky kid" who logged a lot of time in a Carnegie library while growing up, Ford is right at home in bookish venues. "I visit places I like to be even when I'm not traveling. I could spend time in fewer airports, but I could be in a different bookstore or library every day and be quite happy," he said. "I love talking about books. Not just my books, anyone's books."

Regardless of the locales where Ford appears, audience members from Norway to Kentucky share a common tie. "The interesting thing I've found is that readers are readers, whether they have southern accents or Boston accents or they're Seattle hipsters or they're homeless or in a prison," said Ford. "Reading is a beautiful common denominator. They all read for the same reason, for entertainment and escape, but also to enlarge their appreciation of the human condition." --Shannon McKenna Schmidt

Book Review

Review: E.E. Cummings: A Life

E.E. Cummings: A Life by Susan Cheever (Pantheon, $26.95 hardcover, 9780307379979, February 11, 2014)

Susan Cheever (Home Before Dark) likes the poet Edward Estlin Cummings, aka e.e. cummings, very much. He and her father, John Cheever, were friends, so she was able to see Cummings read and experienced his poems and his exuberant and eccentric presentation style firsthand. Cheever considers him one of the "great and most important American poets," our "only true modernist." His reputation has fluctuated; when he died in 1962 it was on the rise, then it fell. Today, Cheever says, he's "too popular for the academy," yet at times "too sassy" for high school.

Cummings was born into wealth and an idyllic and privileged family--the large family spent glorious summers at their beautiful New Hampshire farm--and Cummings took full advantage of it. They lived close to Harvard, where his father, a strict minister, was a professor and he himself would eventually enroll, with T.S. Eliot and John Dos Passos as classmates. At college, Cummings became a booze- and woman-loving, rebellious, angry, brilliant young man.

In his last year, Cummings took an intensive class in poetic forms and formalism. Ironically, it gave him the freedom to experiment with form, punctuation and spelling, freeing him to "string words and forms together in an electrifying and entirely original way." As class valedictorian, he gave a speech on the "New Art." After graduating, Cummings moved to Greenwich Village and soaked in the vibrant neighborhood he was to live in for the rest of his life. In 1917, he and several friends signed up for a private ambulance corps in France; the autobiographical novel The Enormous Room deals with his war experiences.

He dedicated the rest of his life to his wordly-wild poetry; only in his final years, however, did he really make any money from it. Cheever doesn't shirk from examining his darker side--bouts with anti-Semitism, his reactionary conservatism, egotism and his life-long abuse of alcohol and pills--but always keeps his profound influence on poetry and young poets in mind. She generously and lusciously quotes from his exuberant poetry throughout the book, and takes the time to discuss in depth a number of pieces. E.E. Cummings: A Life isn't the first biography of the poet, but it may be the most charming and heartfelt--a thoroughly enjoyable appreciation. --Tom Lavoie

Discover: An ideal, unpretentious and welcoming biography for those interested in learning more about a great poet too often remembered for his rejection of capital letters than his verse.

The Bestsellers

Top-Selling Self-Published Titles

The bestselling self-published books last week as compiled by

1. Final Vow (Bluegrass Brothers) by Kathleen Brooks
2. The Ex Games by J.S. Cooper
3. The Ex Games 2 by J.S. Cooper
4. Cherished (Wanted) by Kelly Elliott
5. The Ex Games 3 by J.S. Cooper and Helen Cooper
6. Torn from You by Nashoda Rose
7. Raw by Belle Aurora
8. With You by Nashoda Rose
9. A Shade of Vampire by Bella Forrest
10. Under Locke by Mariana Zapata

[Many thanks to!]

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