Shelf Awareness for Friday, February 21, 2014

William Morrow & Company: The List by Yomi Adegoke

St. Martin's Press: The Last Outlaws: The Desperate Final Days of the Dalton Gang by Tom Clavin

Page Street Kids: Payden's Pronoun Party by Blue Jaryn, illustrated by Xochitl Cornejo

Annick Press: Dragging Mason County by Curtis Campbell

Flatiron Books: Where There Was Fire by John Manuel Arias

Peachtree Publishers: Buddy and Bea series by Jan Carr, illustrated by Kris Mukai

Tor Teen: The Hunting Moon (The Luminaries #2) by Susan Dennard


ABA: 43 New Member Stores Opened in 2013

Some 43 independent bookstores opened in 20 states during 2013, including a dozen established stores purchased by new owners and six branches of existing businesses, the American Booksellers Association reported. California gained 10 new stores; Michigan and New York, four; Pennsylvania, three; and Georgia, Maryland, New Jersey, North Carolina, Texas and Washington State, two each. Bookselling This Week featured a complete list of the new indies.

Granada Books, Santa Barbara, Calif., opened last summer. "We really envisioned this being a hub of a community," said Sharon Hoshida, co-owner with business partner Emmett McDonough. "What we wanted to do at this point in our lives is to bring the treasure back into being in a bookstore."

Christine Onorati, the owner of Brooklyn's WORD who opened a 2,400-square-foot branch store in Jersey City, N.J., last December, said it has "given me a new excitement for books."

Stephanie Hochschild, who took over the Book Stall at Chestnut Court, Winnetka, Ill., after training under former owner Roberta Rubin, said last month's ABA Winter Institute confirmed for her "that the enthusiasm for the industry is so strong."

Spiderline: An Ordinary Violence by Adriana Chartrand

Indies First Storytime Day to Launch in May

Hoping to build on the success of last year's Indies First movement, the American Booksellers Association unveiled plans for Indies First Storytime Day, which is spearheaded by author Kate DiCamillo. On May 17, Indies First Storytime Day will be celebrated at independent bookstores nationwide in conjunction with Children's Book Week (May 12-18). ABA is working with the Children's Book Council "to help facilitate and grow the grassroots movement," Bookselling This Week reported.

In a letter to fellow authors and illustrators seeking volunteers, DiCamillo paid tribute to Sherman Alexie, who launched the original Indies First movement with a similar letter asking authors to be volunteer handsellers: "We are (with the express permission of Sherman Alexie, mind you) stealing this idea and running with it," she noted, adding that the volunteers will be asked to read from a children's book of their choice. "The point is to read aloud, to celebrate stories and to celebrate the indies who work so hard to put our stories in the hands of readers."

Citing the success of Indies First last year, Valerie Koehler, owner of Blue Willow Bookshop, Houston, Tex., said, "We look forward to finishing Children's Book Week with a special guest author to read at a Saturday morning storytime. It's another opportunity to gather friends and fans and turn them into regular customers."

ABA has compiled a list of Indies First Event Participation Guidelines, noting ways in which authors and illustrators can support the movement both year-round and by participating in dedicated Indies First events. Links to all Indies First Storytime Day resources can be found on the ABA Promotions page on BookWeb.

G.P. Putnam's Sons: The Hike by Lucy Clarke

Tangible and Intangible Benefits: Booksellers on Patterson Gifts

Children's Book World in Haverford, Pa., recently received a surprise bonanza: a check for $2,500. Unbeknownst to co-owner Heather Hebert, novelist and frequent guest Brian Selznick had recommended that the store be given a grant from James Patterson. An e-mail arrived last week with the good news about the windfall, part of Patterson's pledge to give away $1 million to independent bookstores.

Children's Book World is using the grant money to bring authors to underserved schools and purchase their books for students. "We take so many authors to area schools, and we see how it affects children," Hebert said. "We see how it inspires them and how it engages them in reading and the love of books. To be able to do that for schools that don't normally get such a chance has been something we've wanted to do for years but never had the extra cash flow."

Bookstores elsewhere are also putting Patterson's grants to good use. Phoenix Books in Essex, Vt., is focusing on community outreach to encourage reading among young people. Old Firehouse Books in Fort Collins, Colo., is launching a summer reading program that will end with participating children getting gift certificates. "We were aware that this would be a good fit for our more affluent customers, but we wanted to include the part of the population that does not regularly come to bookstores and buy books, hence the need for a grant," said co-owner Susie Wilmer.

In her grant proposal, Christie Olson Day, the owner of Gallery Bookshop & Bullwinkle's Children's Books in Mendocino, Calif., confessed that she tried to come up with a "creative and sexy" plan but ultimately decided to request funds for a practical necessity. "There is all the fun and exciting stuff we do publicly, and then there is the nuts-and-bolts, not-so-sexy part of keeping a business alive," she said. "What this business needs more than anything right now is a little capital infusion for the boring things." A $5,000 grant will go towards upgrading the store's computer network.

Patterson even reached out to independent bookstores in person. Suzanna Hermans, who co-owns Oblong Books and Music, in Rhinebeck and Millerton, N.Y., planned on applying for a grant but hadn't yet done so when Patterson stopped by the Millerton store. The author, who charmed the employees manning the shop, asked why the grant money hadn't yet been applied for, sent a follow-up e-mail with instructions, and later sent $7,500 designated for repairs to the store's roof.

Malaprop's Alsace Walentine (l.) and Linda Marie Barrett

Photo: Denise Kiernan

Last summer, Patterson made an unannounced visit to Malaprop's Bookstore/Café in Asheville, N.C., and introduced himself to staffers. When he's back in town later this year to speak at the Literacy Council of Buncombe County's annual fundraiser, he might notice that the store looks spiffier. A $7,500 grant to Malaprop's is being used to restore parquet flooring and to replace carpeting in the children's section, making it more inviting for the kids and parents who often sit on the floor.

"That amount of money is going to make a tangible difference here," Linda Marie Barrett, general manager/senior buyer, said. "Getting a face lift in a big part of the store is so helpful, and not having to worry about scrimping in other ways to do it."

Aside from the practical benefits of Patterson's grant-giving program, there is a larger message Barrett hopes resonates with readers. "What I love about it, and the press it's getting, is that it reminds people that bookstores in their communities operate on a slim budget and we can always use their support." --Shannon McKenna Schmidt

Patterson Grants: The First Round of Stores

The following are the 55 stores (and California Bookstore Day) receiving the first round of James Patterson's grants of $1 million, ranging from $2,000 to $15,000, and what some of them are doing with them, as noted by the stores or media. Not all stores disclosed the amount of their awards:

California Bookstore Day ($15,000 for marketing and publicity)

A Whale of a Tale, Irvine, Calif.
Alamosa Books, Albuquerque, N.M.
Anderson's, Naperville, Ill. (recommended by R.L. Stine)
Andover Bookstore, Andover, Mass.
Bank Street Bookstore, New York, N.Y.
Book Bin, Northbrook, Ill.
Book Culture, New York, N.Y.
Book Passage, Corte Madera, Calif. (toward the purchase of a van for mobile author events and book fairs)
Book Revue, Huntington, N.Y. (keep employees, pay property tax, repair floor and roof)
The Bookies, Denver, Colo.
The BookLoft, Great Barrington, Mass.
BookPeople, Austin, Tex.
Books & Books, Coral Gables, Fla.
Books & Greetings, Northvale, N.J.
Books of Wonder, New York, N.Y. (recommended by R.L. Stine)
Bookshop Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, Calif. ($4,500 to bring children's authors to schools and the store)
The Bookstore Plus, Lake Placid, N.Y.
Booktenders, Doylestown, Pa. (recommended by Brian Selznick, finish gallery)
Bookworks, Albuquerque, N.M.
Brazos Bookstore, Houston, Tex. ($5,000 for kids' programming)
Brewster Book Store, Brewster, Mass.
Broadside Book Shop, Northampton, Mass.
Browseabout Books, Rehoboth Beach, Del.
Children’s Book World, Los Angeles, Calif.
Children's Book World, Haverford, Pa. (recommended by Brian Selznick, $2,500 for authors visiting schools)
The Children's Bookstore, Baltimore, Md. (possibly add to program to help teachers buy books for use in classes)
Doylestown Bookshop, Doylestown, Pa. (creative space for older children)
Eighth Day Books, Wichita, Kan. (recommended by Clare Vanderpool)
Gallery Bookshop/Bookwinkle Children, Mendocino, Calif. ($5,000 for computer system upgrades)
Hicklebee's, San Jose, Calif. (new computer system and manager bonus)
Innisfree Bookshop, Lincoln, N.H.
Lake Forest BookStore, Lake Forest, Ill.
Little Shop of Stories, Decatur, Ga. (purchase of a bookmobile)
Malaprop's Bookstore and Café, Asheville, N.C. ($7,500 for floor restoration and new carpeting)
Mysterious Galaxy, Redondo Beach and San Diego, Calif.
Nicola's Books, Ann Arbor, Mich.
Norwich Bookstore, Norwich, Vt. (kids' programming)
Oblong Books, Millerton, N.Y. ($7,500 for roof repairs)
Odyssey Book Shop, South Hadley, Mass.
Old Firehouse Books, Fort Collins, Colo. ($2,500 for a summer reading program)
Page & Palette, Fairhope, Ala.
Park Road Books, Charlotte, N.C. ($2,500 for new carpeting)
Parnassus Books, Nashville, Tenn.
Percy's Burrow, Topsham, Me. ($2,500)
Phoenix Books, Essex Junction, Vt. ($5,000 for community outreach)
Porter Square Books, Cambridge, Mass.
Reading Reptile, Kansas City, Mo. (recommended by Brian Selznick)
Red Balloon, St. Paul, Minn. (recommended by Kate DiCamillo)
Russo's Marketplace Books, Bakersfield, Calif.
Schuler Books and Music, Okemos, Mich. (books for children)
Subterranean Books, St. Louis, Mo.
Wellesley Books, Wellesley, Mass. (iPad to sell books at off-site events, a video camera and a small PA system)
Wild Rumpus, Minneapolis, Minn. (recommended by Kate DiCamillo)
Wonderland Books, Rockford, Ill.
The Yellow Brick Road, San Diego, Calif. (recommended by Pam Munoz Ryan)

BEA: 'Author Hub' Expands Focus on Indie, Self-Published Writers

BookExpo America is introducing Author Hub to this year's convention as part of its efforts to expand focus on independent and self-published authors. The new program will run in tandem with uPublishU, held on May 31, with a goal "to further integrate the self-publishing community into the publishing mainstream by providing platforms where entrepreneurial authors may interact and share the spotlight."

Described as "a center of operations," Author Hub will be located on the show floor at the Javits Center, featuring a presentation area, receptionist desk, large tables for networking, lounge furniture for impromptu chats with colleagues and premium members' tables where other BEA attendees can meet the Hub's authors.

"I am very excited to be extending our efforts on behalf of self-published authors," said BEA show manager Steven Rosato, adding that the addition of the Author Hub to uPublishU "will connect this community to mainstream publishing, providing access to promotion and discovery that was previously unavailable to this universe."

B&N Discontinues Nook Simple Touch

Barnes & Noble has discontinued its Nook Simple Touch e-reader, which was launched in 2011 but is no longer on the company's website, and "all mentions of it are being removed from B&N stores," the Digital Reader reported.

Geekwire noted the $79 device "competed with Amazon's basic Kindle for the low end of the e-reader market.... Still, unless there's a new version on the way soon, the move suggests that B&N has effectively ceded the low-cost e-reader market to Amazon."

Obituary Note: Judy Mappin

Canadian bookseller Judy Mappin, who founded Montreal's Double Hook Book Shop in 1974 and "was widely respected for promoting Canadian writers in the bookstore," died last Friday, the Gazette reported. She was 85. Simon Dardick, co-publisher of Véhicle Press, called Mappin "the bookseller of record for Canadian authors." Double Hook Book Shop closed in 2005 when she retired.


Media and Movies

Media Heat: Mark Harris on NPR's Weekend Edition

Tomorrow on NPR's Weekend Edition: Mark Harris, author of Five Came Back: A Story of Hollywood and the Second World War (Penguin Press, $29.95, 9781594204302).

TV: The War at the Shore

Spike TV is teaming up with Kevin Spacey and Dana Brunetti's Trigger Street Productions to develop The War at the Shore, based on Richard D. "Skip" Bronson's book about "one of the most famous personal feuds in the business world--between flamboyant developers Donald Trump and Steve Wynn," reported. Bronson was Wynn's right-hand man during the fight.

Movies: Taliban Shuffle

Tina Fey will star in and produce a film adaptation of Taliban Shuffle, based on Kim Barker's memoir, with her "former Saturday Night Live boss and 30 Rock co-hort Lorne Michaels," according to the Hollywood Reporter, which noted that Robert Carlock (30 Rock) has written the script.

Books & Authors

Awards: Oddest Book Title; Harvill Secker Crime Writing; Art Book

Six finalists have been named for this year's Diagram Prize for Oddest Book Title of the Year, the Bookseller reported. The winner will be named March 21. Prize custodian Horace Bent commented: "It is a truly inspiring list celebrating the art of title-making that goes from the sublime to the fantastic." This year's shortlisted titles are:      

Working Class Cats: The Bodega Cats of New York City by Chris Balsiger and Erin Canning
Are Trout South African? by Duncan Brown
How to Poo on a Date by Mats & Enzo
Pie-ography: Where Pie Meets Biography by Jo Packham
How to Pray When You're Pissed at God by Ian Punnett
The Origin of Feces by David Walter-Toews


Abir Mukherjee's A Rising Man won the Telegraph Harvill Secker Crime Writing Prize, which offers publication and a £5,000 (about US$8,331) advance. The Bookseller reported that the prize "was launched last July with the aim of finding an unpublished crime writer. "

Alison Hennessey, senior crime editor at Harvill Secker and the founder of the prize, called A Rising Man "a very worthy winner," with the opening chapters of the book "beautifully written, atmospheric and intelligent, with a great setting and a wonderfully wry sense of humor throughout."


Art in Oceania: A New History won the £1,000 Art Book Prize, the Bookseller reported. The prize, administered by the Authors' Club and supported by the Art Newspaper, "is awarded annually to the best book on art or architecture published in English, anywhere in the world." Published by Thames & Hudson, Art in Oceania was written by anthropologists, art historians and curators of both European and Pacific Islands descent, including Peter Brunt, Nicholas Thomas, Sean Mallon, Lissant Bolton, Deidre Brown, Damian Skinner and Susanne Küchler.

Book Brahmin: Bruce Holsinger

photo: Daniel Addison

Bruce Holsinger is a fiction writer and literary scholar who teaches at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. A rabid soccer dad, Holsinger is a native of Leesburg, Va., and lives in Charlottesville with his wife and two sons. He's written several academic books, and his scholarly work has been recognized with a Guggenheim Fellowship as well as research fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the American Council of Learned Societies. Holsinger's debut novel, A Burnable Book (Morrow, February 18, 2014), is set in the alleys and halls of medieval London.

On your nightstand now:

Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch (greatly enjoying it, though I think the Dickens comparisons misrepresent the novel) and A Game of Thrones, the first volume of Song of Ice and Fire, to which I've finally succumbed. I've also been reading Dan Jones's The Plantagenets, which is on my coffee table. Plantagenets and Lannisters have a lot in common.

Favorite book when you were a child:

Grimm's Fairy Tales, in their original, gruesome versions as edited by Louis and Bryna Untermeyer in two thick volumes I devoured several times. How many of us remember that Cinderella's stepsisters cut off chunks of their own feet to fit into the glass slipper? Or that cute little Hansel and Gretel slit the witch's throat? Great stuff.

Your top five living authors:

For crime and thriller, Tana French and Robert Wilson. For historical fiction, Hilary Mantel. For narrative nonfiction, Ted Conover. For overall greatness, Philip Roth.

Your top five dead authors:

Off the top of my head: Geoffrey Chaucer, William Shakespeare, Jane Austen, Anthony Trollope and Charles Dickens--though listing 500 might be easier.

Book you've faked reading:

By day I'm an English professor, so I can't answer this question for fear of losing my job.

Book you're an evangelist for:

At the moment? Shop Class as Soulcraft by Matthew Crawford. I do a lot of carpentry and repair at home, and this book was a powerful validation of everything my father taught me by example about working with your hands and getting s**t done. I also went through this weird phase in graduate school where I was recommending Scott Spencer's Endless Love to anyone who would listen. Oh, and I never shut up about George Pelecanos and his epic vision of Washington, D.C., through the prism of crime.

Book you've bought for the cover:

Illuminating the End of Time: The Getty Apocalypse Manuscript by Nigel Morgan, picked up at a medieval studies conference last year. On the cover, you'll see the greatest dragon ever, from a manuscript written and illuminated in 13th-century England.

Book that changed your life:

J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit. I trace my obsession with the Middle Ages back to that book, though it was only years later that I learned of Tolkien's own profession as a medievalist (he was a great scholar of Anglo-Saxon and Middle English literature). The movies, by the way, are dreadful adaptations.

Favorite line from a book:

From early in David Copperfield, as David is recounting childhood memories: "I look at the sunlight coming in at the open door through the porch, and there I see a stray sheep--I don't mean a sinner, but mutton--half making up his mind to come into the church." Just sublime. Oh, and also the opening line of Robert Parker's The Godwulf Manuscript: "The office of the university president looked like the front parlor of a successful Victorian whorehouse." Says it all.

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

Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall. One of the great reading experiences of my life. And for nostalgia, Brown and Hurd's Goodnight Moon.

Favorite books about books:

The People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks, about a medieval manuscript as it moves through history and shapes lives. And Carlos Ruiz Zafón's The Shadow of the Wind, a wonderful story of books within books within books.

Book Review

Review: Where Nobody Knows Your Name

Where Nobody Knows Your Name: Life in the Minor Leagues of Baseball by John Feinstein (Doubleday, $26.95 hardcover, 9780385535939, February 25, 2014)

When baseball's spring training begins, the dreams and hopes of players, managers, owners and even umpires will once again come down to what happens at the ballpark. Whether playing in Florida's Grapefruit League or Arizona's Cactus League, each major league team thinks it has a chance to win it all; every rookie phenom or aging veteran is playing for keeps--a place in the bigs instead of being sent down to the minors. In Where Nobody Knows Your Name, journeyman sportswriter John Feinstein (A Good Walk Spoiled; A Season on the Brink) takes us through the 2012 Triple A season with eight men who, in the words of Durham Bulls manager Charlie Montoyo, "don't want to be here." Only a real baseball aficionado will recognize all eight, but even a passing fan can acknowledge and admire their love of the game and perseverance. As Feinstein describes them, they "are extremely good at what they do--but not as good as they want to be." They are "the guys who love the game, even though they often fail while playing it." Who doesn't know how that goes?

If reading a season's worth of Triple A sports reporting sounds like following the tavern tour schedule of a Michigan cover band, Feinstein makes it more like being backstage with Dylan. Typical of his "eight men out" is 36-year-old Scott Posednik, who had bounced among eight major league clubs before winding up with the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs and then the Reno Aces, hoping for one more shot. Unlike most players on the back side of their careers, he did get called up in 2012, playing out the year with the Boston Red Sox and batting a solid .302. But professional sports can be cruel: the Sox didn't take him back in 2013 since, as Feinstein notes, they wanted "to go young."

"It's a business," says longtime utility infielder Pete Orr. "Some days it's a great business to be in. Other days aren't as great." Feinstein's other heroes have similar stories. Even after 10 years as a minor league umpire, Mark Lollo got to work only eight games in the big leagues in 2011, then retired after missing a close call at the plate on the last play of the 2012 minor league season. Baseball's tough, and never tougher than at the Triple A level... the almost-good-enough league "where nobody knows your name." --Bruce Jacobs

Shelf Talker: Veteran sportswriter John Feinstein makes a year in baseball's minor leagues into a paean to perseverance, hope and the crucial "back of the bubble gum card" stats.

Deeper Understanding

Robert Gray: That Elusive 'Red Cover' Book, Revisited

In a New York City bookshop where much of the action occurs in Sheridan Hay's 2007 novel The Secret of Lost Things, the staff is adept at a game called "Who Knows?"--pooling their varied and idiosyncratic skills to answer otherwise unfathomable book requests, including the customer whose "hands might move apart, as if to say 'it's about this thick'... [T]he only reliable source of reference was the staff and their collective memory."  

We know the drill.

What prompted my recollection of the "Who Knows?" game was a bit of clever sales floor merchandising recently at Blue Willow Bookshop, Houston, Tex. A photo posted on Facebook showed their "Blue Display," featuring a slate on which the following words, all-too-familiar in their infinite variations to booksellers worldwide, were written: "I don't remember the title, but it's blue."

This sparked my memory and a little research. I recalled that Blue Willow's owner Valerie Koehler had mentioned a few years ago (also in 2007, as it happens) that while she'd been giving a lot of thought at the time to online searching as it related to the game, she believed a discerning human element was absolutely critical. She trained her staff to field vague title requests with a healthy dose of well-masked skepticism.

"When searching, use unique keywords, ask leading questions," she advised. Assume, without letting your customers know it, that they might be just a little confused or misinformed. She cited the example of someone who'd been reading a great book, wanted additional copies for friends, and described it as "a memoir with 'I Remember' in the title, in which a retired man is dying and telling his life story and he was a historian and he studied war and he lived on an island." Using these clues, Koehler had "gently" enlightened the customer that she was actually reading Rules for Old Men Waiting, a novel. Result: pleased customer and two books sold.

We've all been there, finding infinite ways to merge available technology with a bookseller's ability, instinct and well-honed memory. It's reassuring that humans can often still reign supreme in the realm of "blue cover" inquiries. Social media helps now, of course; I often see "calls for a title" on Twitter and Facebook as booksellers crowdsource in a digital version of the "Who Knows?" game.

Same as it ever was? Absolutely. In 1936, George Orwell described "the other dear old lady who read such a nice book in 1897 and wonders whether you can find her a copy. Unfortunately she doesn't remember the title or the author's name or what the book was about, but she does remember that it had a red cover."

Despite my occasional suspicions, I don’t really believe people consciously make up their endless stream of misheard, misread or misremembered titles. On the other hand, I did unearth a condescending New York Times piece from 1909 that featured the Office Philosopher and the Office Radical setting out to test the mettle (aka belittle) local booksellers after this exchange:

Their bookish quest begins when the Philosopher shares a joke "told by a book clerk to the effect that somebody went into a bookstore and asked the long-suffering clerk for a copy of John Stuart Mill on the Floss. Now I consider that a high-class joke."

Unamused, the Radical says he has "read a bushel of these jokes at the expense of the bookshop customers... and I'll bet they are fakes. For this reason: not one-tenth of the clerks in bookstores would know the difference. If a customer went into a book store and asked for a copy of John Stuart Mill on the Floss, it would be dollars to donuts that the clerk would reply, 'We haven't got it in stock, but we can order it for you.' " The two gentlemen wager dinner and then proceed to stump and humiliate bookseller after bookseller in the city.

Seeking balance in my bookselling universe, I soon discovered another NYT piece, from 1914, in which the death of one of the founders of Leggat's Bookstore was noted, followed by an observation that the shop's clientele included "all the famous literary and public men of his era. But they also included many thousands who had no fame but knew where books could be got for the most reasonable price and where they could be quickly served by clerks who knew something about every book that was ever published."

Take that, Philosopher and Radical. Leave them "clerks" alone. By the way, they're called booksellers, and one of the best parts of this vocation is the opportunity to serve as "customer request decoder," a mystifying, Holmesian task in which clues are presented and deductions made, elementary and otherwise. --Robert Gray, contributing editor

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