Shelf Awareness for Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Simon & Schuster: A Death at the Party by Amy Stuart

Scholastic Press: The Guardian Test (Legends of Lotus Island #1) by Christina Soontornvat, illustrated by Kevin Hong

Tor Books: The First Bright Thing by J.R. Dawson

Island Press: The Good Garden: How to Nurture Pollinators, Soil, Native Wildlife, and Healthy Food--All in Your Own Backyard by Chris McLaughlin

Holiday House: For Lamb by Lesa Cline-Ransome


Penguin Random House Merging Distribution Services

Penguin Random House is merging its third-party distribution services, and the new Penguin Random House Publisher Services will be headed Jeff Abraham, who has been president of Random House Publisher Services for the past eight years.

Jeff Abraham

Kristin Feehan, director, distribution clients, at Penguin, now reports to Abraham, as does the staff supporting the Random House clients. The company said that "all current Penguin and Random House internal and client-reporting relationships remain otherwise unchanged and there are no changes to the sales reps' selling responsibilities."

Penguin distributes Europa Editions, Kensington, Library of America and Overlook Press. Random House Publisher Services distributes some 36 publishers, including Beacon Press, Candlewick Press, Charlesbridge, DC Comics, Egmont USA, Kodansha Comics, Melville House, National Geographic Books, New York Review Books, Other Press, powerHouse Books, Quercus, Quirk Books, Rizzoli USA, Shambhala Publications, Seven Stories Press, Smithsonian Books, Soho Press and Wizards of the Coast.

Madeline McIntosh, president and chief operating officer of Penguin Random House, commented: "It is a privilege for our company to represent this amazing group of independent publishing clients, and to be able to contribute to the success of their authors' books. Growing and developing our Publisher Services business is a priority for Penguin Random House, and the opportunity to share our experience and expertise from across our combined company with our clients, and in turn learn from them, is terrific for all of us."

The announcement was made on the eve of eighth annual Random House Publisher Services Client Summit, which gets underway this afternoon in New York City. The three-day event is the capstone to the year-round "Ideas Exchange" educational series. More than 150 guests attend the summit, which features more than two dozen presentations, seminars and exchanges with senior Penguin Random House executives. Topics range from marketplace analysis and adapting to new retail patterns and digital transformation and development to in-depth sales breakdowns and competing internationally.

G.P. Putnam's Sons: Love & Other Scams by Philip Ellis

Atalanta's Music and Books, Bisbee, Ariz., For Sale

Atalanta's Music and Books, Bisbee, Ariz., is for sale. The Bisbee Observer wrote that owner Joan Werner is "calling it quits after 38 years of business in Bisbee. Pursuing a long-held dream, she is looking to move to Israel.... Werner is asking $80,000 for the name, inventory, computer software, computers and other hardware and fixtures, and the customer club listings, which amount to 7,000 people." She is also offering the first year of rent for free.

G.P. Putnam's Sons: Stars in an Italian Sky by Jill Santopolo

What Does South Louisville Want? Bookstores

South Louisville, Ky., residents want more bookstores, restaurants, clothing stores and entertainment, according to a new "Keep South Louisville Weird" survey released by the city's Independent Business Alliance. WFPL reported that the survey asked 515 respondents "what types of businesses they'd like to see--specifically, they asked for Heine Brothers' Coffee, Blue Grass Brewing Co., Carmichael's Bookstore and other local businesses found in other parts of the city."

Currently, just 31 of LIBA's 600 member businesses are located in South Louisville. "We kind of felt like there was a good base to build from," said LIBA director Jennifer Rubenstein.  

Michael Boggs, co-owner of Carmichael's, noted that while he does not plan to open another location, he hopes someone from South Louisville would consider opening a bookstore there. "A business owner really needs to be connected to their community," he said.

Joe Grafton, the director of community engagement for the American Independent Business Alliance who will facilitate a planned seminar hosted by LIBA, said, "We'll be talking about how independent businesses can engage in their community and can share with their community the value that they bring in that local economy. And sharing some tips and tricks along the way."

BookNet Canada: Print Book Market in 2013 'Slightly Down'

Unit sales of print books in Canada in 2013 were down 3.4% compared to 2012, according to BookNet Canada's Annual Market Report, which also noted that some categories were stronger in 2013 than the previous year. For example, unit sales increased by 5.6% for juvenile nonfiction and 21.9% for biography and autobiography. The survey does not include e-book sales and online sales of print books.

N.Y. Public Library Adopts Bookish Recommends

Zola Books' Bookish Recommends has been adopted by the New York Public Library as a recommendation tool for its online catalogue, BiblioCommons.

Bookish Recommends uses an algorithm that identifies recommended books based on similar characteristics, Zola Books said. "Unlike recommendations that are derived from what other readers are checking out, the Bookish engine matches users to books based on dozens of attributes and filters out irrelevant titles. Users visiting the library's online catalogue can find recommended books by clicking on a selected title to see a set of related titles that might be of interest."

"Discovering great books on library shelves when I was a kid made me the huge reader I am today," said Zola Books CEO Joe Regal. "To be able to partner with one of the best libraries in the world to offer the serendipity of book discovery online through Bookish Recommends is a tremendous thrill. We are hoping that readers enjoy those unexpected connections that make recommendations so important."

In January, Zola bought Bookish from founders Hachette, Penguin and Simon & Schuster.

Obituary Note: Bruce Robertson

Bruce Robertson, founder and managing director of the Diagram Group, which also sponsors the Diagram Prize for Oddest Book Title, died last Friday, the Bookseller reported. In a statement, the company noted that "for many years partnered by his wife, Patricia, his was a striking presence at the London and Frankfurt Book Fairs--a Union Jack tie, black beret, wild beard and colorful personality creating an unforgettable impression on friends and strangers. He was highly regarded by those who got to know him."


Image of the Day: Anderson Thanks Patterson in Person

Anderson's Bookshop, Naperville and Downers Grove, Ill., was one of the recipients of the first round of James Patterson's bookstore grants, made last month. Owner Becky Anderson was in Springfield, Ill., to receive her 2014 Illinois Reading Council Hall of Fame Award, and she shared her gratitude with the author, bringing along written messages of appreciation from Anderson's staff members.

Patterson has announced the first 55 recipients of the grants, which will total $1 million. You can nominate a bookstore here.

American Book Center Named 'Best Bookshop in the World'

Congratulations to the American Book Center in Amsterdam, Netherlands, which has been named the best bookshop in the world by the new international lifestyle magazine Monocle in its inaugural Top 25 Retail Awards.

"Starting off as a small bargain bookstore in 1972, the philosophy of Amsterdam's American Book Center has always been to ask regular customers what they want to read and then fill the shelves accordingly," the magazine wrote. "Over the years the selection has become an eclectic assortment where literary classics sit side by side with manga and new-age poetry."

Shelf Awareness is especially proud because the American Book Center is one of our first international bookstore partners for Shelf Awareness for Readers.

Personnel Changes at DK, Flatiron, Soho

At DK Publishing:

Meghan O'Brien has been promoted to associate director, special sales. She was previously manager, special & proprietary sales.
Stephanie Kull has been promoted to special sales manager. She was formerly production manager.


Effective May 15, Marlena Bittner will join the new Flatiron Books as director of publicity. She is currently director of publicity at Little, Brown.


Abby Koski has joined Soho Press as publicist. She formerly was a publicity assistant at Farrar, Straus, & Giroux and earlier worked for Greenlight Bookstore and [PANK] magazine.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Jimmy Carter and A Call to Action

Tomorrow on NPR's Diane Rehm Show: Jimmy Carter, author of A Call to Action: Women, Religion, Violence, and Power (Simon & Schuster, $28, 9781476773957).


Tomorrow on the Arsenio Hall Show: Russell Simmons, co-author of Success Through Stillness: Meditation Made Simple (Gotham, $20, 9781592408658).

Movies: The Big Short

Paramount Pictures and Plan B Productions announced that writer-director Adam McKay (Anchorman) will adapt and direct Michael Lewis's bestselling book The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine. noted that "Plan B principal Brad Pitt starred in Sony's Moneyball, another Lewis adaptation which earned six Oscar noms in 2012 including a Best Actor nom for Pitt."

"There are those rare literary treasures--as with The Big Short--that park in the harbor and you just wait, with hope," Plan B said. "Adam McKay is a singular voice and talent and a ferocious mind--the vector of Adam and this book is what a producer dreams of."

TV: Birds of Prey

FremantleMedia is teaming with the U.K.'s Corona Pictures for, Birds of Prey, a drama/adventure series project based on three of Wilbur Smith's novels. reported that J.J. Connolly (Layer Cake) will write the adaptation of the first three novels in Smith's Courtney Family Adventures: Birds of Prey, Monsoon and Blue Horizon. An initial 13-episode season is planned and the partners have begun discussions with U.K., U.S. and European broadcasters.

Connolly called Smith's stories "big and expansive--his themes are universal and timeless." Smith said Connolly is "an inspired choice" to help "satisfy my fans who have been clamoring to see the Courtney saga dramatized for many years."

Books & Authors

Awards: Hans Christian Andersen; Independent Foreign Fiction

The winners of the 2014 Hans Christian Andersen Award, sponsored by the International Board on Books for Young People, are:

Author category: Nahoko Uehashi (Japan)
Illustrator category: Roger Mello (Brazil)

In addition, the Children's Book Bank in Toronto and PRAESA in South Africa have won the IBBY-Asahi Reading Promotion Award.


The 15 longlisted titles in contention for the £10,000 Independent Foreign Fiction Prize have been named. A shortlist will be announced at the London Book Fair April 8 and discussed at a panel event in the Literary Translation Centre on Tuesday 8, with the winning author and translator honored May 22 in London.

Book Review

Review: The Midnight Witch

The Midnight Witch by Paula Brackston (St. Martin's Press, $25.99 hardcover, 9781250006080, March 25, 2014)

Paula Brackston (The Winter Witch) returns to the world of bell, book and candle with The Midnight Witch, a story of love, duty and witchcraft in Edwardian England.

Lady Lilith Randor has even more reason to mourn the passing of her father than most loving daughters would. Not only has her family lost its patriarch, Lilith's father was also head of the Lazarus Coven, a group of witches skilled in necromancy and bound to protect the Great Secret and the Elixir of Life, tools that can raise the dead. Young and untried, Lilith must succeed her father as Head Witch as the world tenses in anticipation of the first World War and the coven falls under attack by the Sentinels, an organization of fell sorcerers who will stop at nothing to obtain the means to raise an army of dead men.

Even as she takes on the mantle of leadership, Lilith finds the Sentinels have infiltrated her coven. Her personal life is no safe haven, either, as she finds herself collecting her brother, Freddie, from an opium den and seeking excuses to delay her wedding to the handsome fiancé who shares her magic and secrets, but whom she does not love.

Artist Bram Cardale finds himself pulled into Lilith's orbit by chance when she accompanies a friend to a portrait sitting. Her beauty and pure spirit captivate Bram; Lilith is similarly taken with the charismatic painter. She knows they have no chance at a future--Bram isn't a witch and is far below her social station--but Lilith can't seem to stay away, and soon she finds keeping secrets from him an untenable prospect. Their relationship, however, jeopardizes both her support from the spirit world and Bram's safety as the dark spirit of a powerful sorcerer threatens Lilith and everyone she loves.

Brackston creates a romantic but deadly world in which duty must outweigh personal desires. Readers will yearn for Lilith and Bram's relationship to come to fruition but, at the same time, watching Lilith discover she has the fortitude to put others before herself is satisfying. Brackston also does a fine job of evoking the Edwardian period, from glamorous gowns to the clash between the old values of the aristocracy and the increasingly modern morals of its younger set. A story of sacrifice, loss and power, this dark tapestry is sure to delight fans of both paranormal and historical fiction. --Jaclyn Fulwood

Shelf Talker: Paula Brackston's third historical fantasy follows an aristocratic witch in Edwardian England who must choose between her family, her coven and her heart.

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