Also published on this date: Wednesday, February 26, 2014: Maximum Shelf: Learning to Walk in the Dark

Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, February 26, 2014


Penguin Books: Cher Ami and Major Whittlesey by Kathleen Rooney

Sterling Children's Books: Jonesy Flux and the Gray Legion, Volume 1 by James Pray

Andrews McMeel Publishing: Cat Ninja, Volume 1 by Matthew Cody, illustrated by Yehudi Mercado

Berkley Books: In the Garden of Spite: A Novel of the Black Widow of La Porte by Camilla Bruce

Disney-Hyperion: The Mirror Broken Wish (Mirror #1) by Julie C. Dao

News

B&N Third Quarter: Earnings Up, 'Core' Store Sales Off 0.5%

In the third quarter ended January 25, consolidated revenues at Barnes & Noble fell 10.3%, to $2 billion, and net earnings were $63.2 million, compared to a net loss of $3.7 million in the same quarter last year. Earnings were comfortably above analysts' estimates.

Sales at trade bookstores and BN.com fell 6.3%, to $1.4 billion, which the company attributed to "a comparable store sales decline of 4.9% for the quarter, store closures and lower online sales." Sales at stores open at least a year fell primarily because of lower sales of Nook products. Bookstore sales excluding the Nook were down just 0.5%.

Sales at the college division fell 6%, to $486 million. Sales at college stores open at least a year fell 4%, mainly because of "a higher mix of lower priced used textbook rentals and lower textbook volume, partially offset by higher general merchandise sales." Also, the rush period extended beyond the end of the quarter, decreasing results somewhat.

Nook revenues fell 50.4%, to $157 million, with Nook device and accessories sales falling 58.2% while digital content was off 26.5%, mainly because device sales were down. The company didn't introduce any new tablets, focusing on selling most of its device inventory. It noted recent Nook layoffs, saying, "staffing levels in certain areas of the organization have changed, leading to certain job eliminations after the quarter ended. These ongoing efforts may involve additional actions."

B&N CEO Michael P. Huseby commented: "During the third quarter, the company significantly improved its balance sheet and bottom line, while making real progress on our strategic priorities. Retail's core comparable store sales benefited from a strong title line-up, strong execution and an effective advertising campaign. College entered into the spring back-to-school rush and saw continued growth in its higher margin textbook rental business.... Nook losses narrowed significantly as we achieved our objective of selling through much of our pre-holiday device inventory, while managing promotions to optimize sales."

Huseby added that B&N is "actively engaged in discussions with several world-class hardware partners related to device development as well as content packaging and distribution. As a result, we plan to launch a new Nook color device in early fiscal 2015."


University of California Press: The United States of War, Volume 48: A Global History of America's Endless Conflicts, from Columbus to the Islamic State by David Vine


Tattered Cover Opening Satellite Store at Denver's Union Station

Tattered Cover Book Store "will be opening a satellite store for travelers & commuters at Denver's newly renovated Union Station--stay tuned," @TatteredCover teased on Twitter yesterday.

Shortly after the tweet, Tattered Cover shared a "bulletin" on Facebook, noting that the satellite location "will also be a gateway to our store just across the street at the corner of 16th & Wynkoop. Though small, it's a big addition to our TC family of stores!"


GLOW: Erewhon: The Midnight Bargain by C.L. Polk


Long Beach's Apostrophe Books Is Relocating

Apostrophe Books, Long Beach, Calif., is currently in the process of moving, with plans to re-open in early March at 5229 E. 2nd Street, six blocks east of its former location.

Owners Valerie Kingsland and Lisa Somerville, who launched Apostrophe more than two decades ago and have had their store in the Belmont Shore neighborhood since 2010, told the Grunion Gazette that book sales had slowed dramatically after a nearby Starbucks shuttered last May and "the closure had an inadvertent and adverse impact."

"Starbucks was this revolving door," Somerville said. "We are just not feeling the cross over traffic that we felt with Starbucks. There was a line in there every day, all day, and we benefited from that and so did everyone else on the block.... We've been in business long enough that we just know; things aren't picking back up."

The move is "an effort to capitalize on a more central location. "Who doesn't want to be in the epicenter of Belmont Shore?" she said. "With Open Sesame to the right, and Starbucks to the left, it's exactly where you want to be."

Somerville also noted that community support is making the transition easier: "So many nice things have been said to us in the last month since we said we were going to move. People are so glad that we are still going to be in the Shore. It's been overwhelming for us and our whole staff to feel all this support from the community."


Berkley Books: Our Italian Summer by Jennifer Probst


Dutch Bookstore Chain Polare Declares Bankruptcy

Dutch bookstore chain Polare has been officially declared bankrupt, according to the curator, Kees van de Meent. Stores will remain open for the time being, NL Times reported, adding that the bankruptcy was a requirement for the Employee Insurance Agency (UWV) to pay overdue wages. Employees are guaranteed to receive their wages for a maximum of six weeks.

The bookstores, which had been closed since late January, reopened February 19 and are for sale separately or in clusters. NL Times noted that although "the supplier stopped deliveries, the stores reopened as it is easier to sell stores that are open." Polare locations in Maastricht, Tilburg, The Hague, Groningen, Zwolle, Den Bosch and Nijmegen have "already struck the interest of potential buyers" and five employees of the Rotterdam Polare bookstore launched a crowdfunding project for their location.

Polare was formed two years ago when the Selexyz and De Slegte bookstore chains merged.


University of California Press:  Republican Jesus: How the Right Has Rewritten the Gospels by Tony Keddie


Mitch Albom's Library Rebuilding Effort in the Philippines

Author Mitch Albom has established the Donated Reading for Youth of the Philippines (DRY) relief fund to reconstruct 10 school libraries destroyed by typhoon Yolanda last November and has pledged to help raise $160,000 needed for construction. Partnering with the National Book Store Foundation, he will coordinate the DRY Libraries program through his A Hole in the Roof Foundation and is helping to launch the initiative with a $10,000 donation and hundreds of copies of his books. The NBS Foundation has promised to match funds raised by Albom on a dollar for dollar basis until the goal is met.

"I am blessed to have many Filipino readers, including many students, and I wanted to do something to help," he said. "Since I've been here, I've been emailing writers I know back home--and some I don't know--to ask if they would help, seeing as many of them are popular here, particularly with high school students."

Authors who have already pledged at least 10 personalized books (one for each library) include Jeff Kinney, Suzanne Collins, Stephen King, Nicholas Sparks, Amy Tan, John Grisham, J.K. Rowling, John Green, Lemony Snicket (Daniel Handler), Khaled Hosseini, Scott Turrow, James Patterson, Sophie Kinsella, Michael Chabon, Maggie Stiefvater, Dave Barry, James McBride, Harlan Coben and Billy Collins.

"They were all quick to say yes. I think we as authors always appreciate the effort people make to read and cherish their books," Albom said. "That is so true of readers here in the Philippines, I've seen my own books pulled from the flood damaged homes, moldy, discolored, yet brought to me to sign. It's incredible and heartwarming."


Notes

Image of the Day: Happy 20th, American West Books!

American West Books, Sanger, Calif., recently celebrated its 20th anniversary with a party onsite. The company was founded in 1993 by Joshua Blake Mettee, who was 19 and a full-time marketing student at Fresno State: he took a local California publisher's inventory consisting of 23 titles on consignment and started making cold calls on independent bookstores, museums and gift shops. Today the company is a nationwide supplier to warehouse clubs, specialty grocers and national booksellers with distribution centers in California and Ashland, Va. Last year, Mettee partnered with Christopher Robbins and his book publishing company, Familius, to develop a line of books to complement American West Book's tailored wholesaling strategy. Robbins relocated Familius to the Sanger headquarters and became American West Book's CEO.


Successful Bookstore Visits Demand Quality Time

Posted yesterday on Facebook by Literati Bookstore, Ann Arbor, Mich.:

" 'You can't bring me to a bookstore and expect me to only spend 5 minutes here.' --Overheard interaction."


Michael Carley Retiring from Simon & Schuster

Effective April 22, Michael Carley is retiring after 34 years at Simon & Schuster. He began his career as a field sales rep at Viking and then as a bookseller at Elliott Bay Book Company in Seattle, Wash. During his first 17 years at S&S, he was field sales manager for the Pacific Northwest. In 1997, he became S&S's first manager to Amazon.com. (In some other firsts, while at Viking, he was the first rep to sell to Powell's for that company and was the first S&S rep to sell directly to Costco.)

Michael Selleck, executive v-p for sales and marketing at S&S, said, "Michael has always been a passionate reader and his enthusiasm and dedication have been integral to the success of countless books. Michael has been a joy to work with; and not only because he has a true knack for putting exactly the right book in exactly the right hand, but also because of his inherent integrity, his institutional knowledge of both our authors and industry at large, his unflappable calm in the ever-updating immediacy of online retail, and that signature wit which kept us laughing these many years."

Selleck added that Carley is "universally beloved by booksellers." Rick Simonson of Elliott Bay said, "He is one by whom others are measured against--what he brought to his sales calls, what he brought to being part of the store and the community. The good times were so many, even when they didn't so much involve books, at least not in a straightforward way."

And Shelf Awareness's own Marilyn Dahl said, "I have always been able to trust his judgment. He's a gentleman, and he never forgets my birthday!"


Personnel Changes at Abrams

Abrams has announced the following promotions:

Lindy Humphreys to senior director, digital assets and technology
Laura Mihalick to manager, publicity and marketing, children's division
Morgan Dubin to publicist and marketing associate, children's division
Erin Hotchkiss to associate director, marketing, adult division
Jessica O'Neil to operations manager
Jess Cullen to sales representative, special markets


Media and Movies

And the Oscar Goes to... Encore Books!

It's time to cast your votes in the third annual Books for Oscar poll, sponsored by Encore Books, Yakima, Wash., where they "love movies... but we love books more. Every year the Academy honors the actors and directors and everyone else involved in movie-making, but they almost never recognize the books... and the beloved characters in those books... that make so many of their films possible."

The Books for Oscar poll is based on the Academy Award nominations, "but focused on the books the nominated movies use as their source." You can find a ballot here to vote for the six categories and nominations. "When voting, please remember to vote based on the book, not the movie," Encore cautioned. Voting closes at midnight March 1 and results will be unveiled March 2 ("early in the day so you won't have to miss the real Oscars") on the store's Facebook page.

Note: To increase participation, Encore is awarding free books to randomly selected entries (from among those that supply an e-mail address), but winners must visit the bookstore to collect their prize.


Media Heat: Hilton Als on KCRW's Bookworm

This morning on Morning Joe and Imus in the Morning: Michio Kaku, author of The Future of the Mind: The Scientific Quest to Understand, Enhance, and Empower the Mind (Doubleday, $28.95, 9780385530828).

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Tonight on Charlie Rose: Lisa Bloom, author of Suspicion Nation: The Inside Story of the Trayvon Martin Injustice and Why We Continue to Repeat It (Counterpoint, $25, 9781619023277). She will also appear tomorrow on MSNBC's Reverend Al's Politics Nation and NewsNation with Tamron Hall as well as CNN's Legal View with Ashleigh Banfield.

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Tomorrow on KCRW's Bookworm: Hilton Als, author of White Girls (McSweeney's, $24, 9781936365814). As the show put it: "Hilton Als' White Girls, his first book in 14 years, is a series of essays that defy easy categorization--in each he takes the risk to say what must be said. Countering books that define 'blackness' in the title like Richard Wright's Black Boy, Als, a black gay male, is interested in making words opaque. He chronicles longing, loss of loved ones, and the establishment of his voice in the New York of the late '80s and '90s. He looks back to Richard Pryor and forward to Eminem. His 'white girls' are neither necessarily girls nor white. They are Diana Vreeland, Michael Jackson, Truman Capote, Louise Little. He posits: what if we existed in a world that was not 'categorizable?' Wouldn't we be left with something more humane and complicated?"

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Tomorrow on the Daily Show: Kevin Roose, author of Young Money: Inside the Hidden World of Wall Street's Post-Crash Recruits (Grand Central, $27, 9780446583251).


TV: Game of Thrones Posters, Clips

"Team Lannister roars" in a new set of Game of Thrones season 4 character posters, Entertainment Weekly reported, adding that "the first of several brief character-tease videos" has also been released, featuring Tyrion, "who apparently spends some time in season 4 in a very dark place."

Indiewire, which showcased teaser trailers focusing on the Stark family and Daenerys, observed: "If your High Valarian is a bit rusty, we'll translate: Valar Morghulis means 'all men must die,' which is a helluva slogan to be using for a cable show. But then again, there are few cable shows like Game of Thrones."



Books & Authors

Awards: Etisalat Winner; Wellcome Book Shortlist

NoViolet Bulawayo won the £15,000 (about US$ 24,940) Etisalat Prize for Literature, which was "designed to recognize and reward debut writers of fiction in the African region," for her novel We Need New Names. The shortlist also included Yewande Omotosho's Bom Boy and Karen Jenning's Finding Soutbek.

"I am thankful to the organizers of this event, Etisalat Nigeria for this most excellent and necessary prize," said Bulawayo. "We are all aware of the shortage of literary prizes and it is heart-warming to know that Etisalat Nigeria sees and values the significance of such literary works in Africa."

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Finalists have been announced for the £30,000 (US$49,880) Wellcome Book Prize, presented "to the best fiction or nonfiction book from 2013 which leads on a medical theme," the Bookseller reported. The winner will be named April 29. The shortlisted titles are:

The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert
Wounded: The Long Journey Home From the Great War by Emily Mayhew
Inconvenient People: Lunacy, Liberty and the Mad-Doctors in Victorian England by Sarah Wise
Creation: The Origin of Life by Adam Rutherford
Hallucinations by Oliver Sacks
Far From the Tree: Parents, Children and the Search for Identity by Andrew Solomon


Book Brahmin: Vivien Shotwell

Vivien Shotwell is a classically trained singer with degrees from Williams College, the Yale School of Music and the Iowa Writers' Workshop, where she was an Iowa Arts Fellow. As an undergraduate voice student at Williams, Shotwell first sang the beautiful aria "Non temer, amato bene" ("Don't fear, greatly beloved"), which Mozart wrote for and performed with the young soprano Anna Storace, and knew she had to tell their story. The result is Vienna Nocturne (Ballantine Books, February 25, 2014), Shotwell's debut novel. A daughter of independent booksellers, Shotwell was born in Colorado, raised in Nova Scotia, and now divides her time between Halifax, Nova Scotia, and New Haven, Conn.

On your nightstand now:

It's quite a pile, I'm afraid! I have Alessandro Manzoni's I promessi sposi (The Betrothed), in Italian and English. It's a classic novel set in 1628, and was recommended to me by a friend at an opera workshop in Italy. My original plan was to read the translation alongside the original, but that proved beyond me, so my new plan is to read the English first. Also by my bed is War and Peace, which I first read when I studied in the Hague a number of years ago. I brought it with me then because I wasn't sure how many novels in English would be available in the Netherlands and I thought an extremely long book would tide me over for a few months. But then, for some reason, I didn't read the last 50 or so pages, and it's no good to say that one has read most of War and Peace. I also have an 18th-century erotic novel, Fanny Hill: Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure by John Cleland, which I bought for research purposes; it was banned and widely pirated for about 200 years, and I can see why. Then I have the first volume of Robert Musil's The Man Without Qualities, to which I'm returning with new resolve after a long absence. I've almost finished reading a warmhearted comic novel with a delightful narrator, The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion. Then there are a few books about 17th-century France, for research, and classic novels about marital infidelity that I've already read but enjoy having near: Gustave Flaubert's Madame Bovary (a book I disliked until I read the crystalline Lydia Davis translation), Edith Wharton's The Age of Innocence and Tolstoy's Anna Karenina. I grew up in a bookstore; I guess I just like to be surrounded.

Favorite book when you were a child:

I loved Arnold Lobel's Frog and Toad series, and the Betsy-Tacy series by Maud Hart Lovelace. I loved books by Laura Ingalls Wilder and Roald Dahl (especially Matilda and The B.F.G.), as well as The Maid of the North: Feminist Folk Tales from Around the World by Ethel Johnston Phelps, the Song of the Lionness series by Tamora Pierce, What Katy Did by Susan Coolidge and The Hero and the Crown by Robin McKinley. As a young child I listened to audiobook recordings of Jack London's The Call of the Wild and The Sea Wolf, though I skipped the violent parts. And I would sneak into my sister's room to read her copies of Wendy and Richard Pini's Elfquest, which she had forbidden me to touch.

Your top five authors:

This question makes me nervous! Not the top five but a top five: George Eliot, Jane Austen, John Donne, William Shakespeare and Chogyam Trungpa.

Book you've faked reading:

John Bunyan's The Pilgrim's Progress. (I did read parts of it!)

Book you're an evangelist for:

The Assassin's Cloak: An Anthology of the World's Greatest Diarists, edited by Irene and Alan Taylor, is a book to treasure. For friends interested in mindfulness meditation, I often recommend Turning the Mind into an Ally by Sakyong Mipham. I'm a frequent advocate of Esther Gokhale's 8 Steps to a Pain-Free Back, a beautifully illustrated book about restoring our easy and natural upright posture. And I can't stop talking about W.G. Sebald's The Rings of Saturn, a book whose cumulative power gutted me.

Book you've bought for the cover:

After tango class one night I stopped at the Book Trader Cafe in New Haven and happened across a book of exquisite black-and-white photographs of Nova Scotia, MacAskill: Seascapes and Sailing Ships by Wallace R. MacAskill.

Book that changed your life:

In third grade, I read The Bridge to Terabithia and remember being astonished that I could feel such emotion for fictional characters. I think that may have been a moment that made me want to become a writer. More recently I've been affected by nonfiction books: Tim Flannery's The Weather Makers, Marcus Rediker's The Slave Ship and The Amistad Rebellion, and Chogyam Trungpa's Training the Mind and Cultivating Loving-Kindness. While writing Vienna Nocturne, I was influenced by A Choice of Shakespeare's Verse, selected by Ted Hughes. I found this book many years ago in Foyle's bookstore in London, and my copy is so worn from use and travel that it's become discolored and tattered, split down the middle, and is missing the last pages and the back cover.

Favorite line from a book:

Among many, the last line of George Eliot's Middlemarch: "But the effect of her being on those around her was incalculably diffusive: for the growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts; and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been, is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs."

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

Beloved by Toni Morrison.

Favorite historical novels not already mentioned:

Marguerite Yourcenar's knowledge of her historical subjects reached such depths that reading her books, I almost feel she lived in the times of which she wrote. She is most known for the remarkable Memoirs of Hadrian, and I also loved the novella An Obscure Man, which contains a beautiful extended passage about a Renaissance man hearing instrumental music for the first time ("...fountains melting into one another in the basins of a garden..."). Michael Shaara's masterful and harrowing depiction of the battle at Little Round Top in The Killer Angels took my breath away. The Blue Flower by Penelope Fitzgerald is a jewel-like example of cleanness and compression in historical writing. I also have recently enjoyed Master and Commander by Patrick O'Brian, The Leopard by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa, Someone Knows My Name by Lawrence Hill, The Known World by Edward P. Jones and The Garden of Evening Mists by Tan Twan Eng.


Book Review

Children's Review: The Crossover

The Crossover by Kwame Alexander (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $16.99 hardcover, 240p., ages 9-12, 9780544107717, March 18, 2014)

Kwame Alexander (He Said, She Said) introduces charismatic Josh Bell, a 12-year-old poet and ace basketball player. Josh narrates in stanzas, and starts off like a competitor in a poetry slam, proving he's both scholar and athlete with his sights set on Duke.

Josh's father played pro ball, and he calls Josh "Filthy McNasty," from a song on Horace Silver's Paris Blues album ("a mythical man" of "dubious" character). Josh's identical twin, Jordan ("JB"), is also a gifted ball player. People can tell them apart on the court because Josh is "an inch taller, with dreads to my neck," while JB gets his head shaved once a month. JB is the jumper; Josh is the slasher, and the master of the crossover, "A simple basketball move/ in which a player dribbles/ the ball quickly/ from one hand/ to the other./ As in: When done right,/ a crossover can break/ an opponent's ankles." School comes harder to JB, but he's always up for a wager. The twins bet that if JB scores the last basket of the game, he can cut off Josh's dreads. Josh agrees to let him cut just one, but JB accidentally trims off five. Their mother then makes Josh cut them all, and the loss hits him nearly as hard as Samson's. Tension smolders. When JB gets interested in a "pulchritudinous" new girl, Josh acts as his brother's Cyrano de Bergerac.

Alexander carefully charts, through a series of poems, Josh's simmering pot building to the boiling point. Josh lets loose on the basketball court, blowing the game and nearly breaking his brother's nose. The author charts the start of a downward spiral, but Josh's parents refuse to let him succumb. Despite the damage to the brothers' relationship, the novel brims with evidence of the family's deep respect and love for one another. They release pressure through humor, as when their mother, concerned for their father's eating habits and a history of heart disease, serves pita bread in lieu of her fabulous fried chicken ("But is hummus really the answer?" Josh wonders). When their father's health takes a turn, the family comes together.

Concrete poems that simulate on-court action, the novel's organization into "four quarters" (plus "warm-up" and "overtime") and a smattering of their father's 10 rules of basketball--as applicable to life as they are to the game--will draw in less avid readers, and the fully-fleshed characters and Josh's spellbinding wordplay will keep all readers riveted to find out if the brothers can mend the breach in their once iron-clad bond. --Jennifer M. Brown

Shelf Talker: Josh Bell, star scholar-athlete, tells his tale in poems, as a rift develops with his twin brother and he could well succumb to a downward spiral.


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