Shelf Awareness for Monday, April 28, 2014

Groundwood Books: Anthony and the Gargoyle by Jo Ellen Bogart, illustrated by Maja Kastelic

Other Press: Home Reading Service by Fabio Morábito, translated by Curtis Bauer

HarperCollins Publishers: Click to register for the William Morrow & Custom House Winter 2022 Fiction Showcase!

St. Martin's Press: See, Solve, Scale: How Anyone Can Turn an Unsolved Problem Into a Breakthrough Success by Danny Warshay

Harper: Free Love by Tessa Hadley

Walker Books Us: Ferryman by Claire McFall

Shadow Mountain: The Slow March of Light by Heather B Moore


New Orlando, Fla., Bookstore Has Local Focus

In a story about "a locally grown approach to literary marketing," the Orlando Sentinel profiled Bookmark It, a new Orlando, Fla., bookstore, and Burrow Press's outreach programs.

Bookmark It opened last month and features local authors, with a large section "devoted to works by Central Florida authors, including many published through Burrow Press," the paper wrote. On its website, Bookmark It describes itself as "an independent bookstore highlighting a variety of works by local authors along with books that enlighten and encourage the growth of our dynamic local food economy."

Owner Kim Britt told the Sentinel that in its first 25 days in business, Bookmark It has sold 500 books, a quarter of which were by local authors. The Sentinel noted that Britt also partners with "her neighbors at East End Market for events such as a nutrition demonstration with Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead filmmaker Joe Cross at juice bar Skyebird," where the store sold nearly 100 copies of Cross's cookbook.

"My strength is in making relationships and hopefully providing opportunities for readers and writers to connect," Britt added.

Burrow Press's Functionally Literate series features readings by both Burrow Press authors and writers both local and national, and the bulk of the company's sales come through direct marketing at public events or through its website.

Bookmarket It is located in the East End Market at 3201 Corrine Drive, Suite 201, Orlando, Fla. 32803.

William Morrow & Company: Notes on an Execution by Danya Kukafka

Student and Instructor Plan Colorado Springs Bookstore

A student and instructor at the University of Colorado in Colorado Springs have won a $10,000 grant from the Pikes Peak Community Foundation and plan to open Mountain Fold Books, a nonprofit bookstore, "in the near future," the Scribe, the UCCS student newspaper, wrote.

UCCS student Jonathan Fey and visual and performing arts instructor Marina Eckler, who are looking for suitable space, aim, they said on Facebook, to create an "independent reading room/bookstore/café" that will feature "a world-class collection of small press books of poetry, fiction, and art." They will work with "local art, literacy, and literary institutions in order to provide a gathering place for literary and arts culture." They intend to fill the gap formed by the closing of bookstores in Colorado Springs, particularly the legendary Chinook Bookshop, which shut its doors in 2004.

The space will feature an art gallery and be "pretty modular," Fey told the paper. Books may be organized by themes rather than alphabetically or by genre. Mountain Fold Books plans a poetry reading series and will encourage self-publishers.

GLOW: Flatiron Books: Four Treasures of the Sky by Jenny Tinghui Zhang

Frugal Frigate in Drydock This Week

The Frugal Frigate children's bookstore, Redlands, Calif., will be closed this week--today through Friday, May 2---for remodeling and will reopen on Saturday, California Bookstore Day, when it will hold an open house and host a surprise guest at 10:30 a.m. On Friday, participants in the local Vintage Redlands wine tour will get a sneak peek at the changes, according to Redlands Daily Facts.

Scott Winn, a project manager, told the paper: "We are refreshing the look of the store, we're not changing it. It's still going to have that charm to it." Improvements include a new carpet.

Winn added that the store recently had its "highest quarter in five years.... It's been amazing. I think public awareness and the advantage of physical books creates an interaction between child and the reader instead of the child and the device. So that's catching on."

G.P. Putnam's Sons: Love & Saffron: A Novel of Friendship, Food, and Love by Kim Fay

Amazon: Profit Patience Wearing Thin; U.K. Tax Defense

On Friday, after the company announced first-quarter results late Thursday, Amazon stock fell 9.9%, to $303.83 a share, down nearly 25% from its 52-week high of $408.06 in January and its lowest level since last October. (Forbes added some eyebrow-raising perspective on the Friday drop, noting that it cut the value of CEO Jeff Bezos's stake in the company by nearly $2.8 billion.)

While Amazon's quarterly results matched analysts' revenue and earnings estimates, investors are concerned because Amazon predicted that in the second quarter, earnings will be somewhere between an operating loss of $455 million and profit of $55 million, while revenues should grow between 15% and 26%.

The New York Times's James B. Stewart commented: "When it comes to suspending disbelief about a lack of profits--the only thing that ultimately matters when it comes to stock has been in a class of its own. Its price-to-earnings ratio, a common measure of stock valuation, has at various times topped 3,000 (the market average is about 18)--and that's when it actually has had a profit.

"Investors never seemed to care. 'Over the long history of the last eight years, this stock went from $60 to $400, which made all the doubters look stupid while all the believers got rich,' said Bruce Greenwald, a professor and head of the value investing program at Columbia Business School. 'The fact that Amazon did this in the face of deteriorating operating performance--slower growth in sales and the evaporation in profit margins--has made fools of the people who looked at the reality of its operations.'

"That may be changing."

Still, Stewart pointed to an unusual loyalty among many investors and analysts to Amazon, many of whom continue to praise the company. But not all: Eric J. Sheridan, an Internet analyst at UBS Securities, in February downgraded Amazon to neutral from buy. "Amazon is the third rail of investing," he told Stewart. "I had hundreds of angry people calling me for days. How dare I say anything negative about Amazon?"

He continued: "With Amazon you've had a cult investor group that believed that all that matters is revenue growth. The problem is, in the last year and a half, the growth rate has started to slow quickly. It was 40% two years ago and now it's close to 20%."

For its part, the Wall Street Journal said, "The Amazon story is simple: Get as big as possible, then one day stop investing heavily and become tremendously profitable. But it has been told so often now it is taking on the whiff of legend.... After seeming like it might be within reach, Amazon's fabled margin expansion remains elusive; it clocked a net margin of all of 0.55% in the quarter. Things looks set to stay this way for a while."

Besides its ongoing major investments in warehouses and its cloud service, Amazon is spending billions investing in China, videogames and TV shows and may launch a delivery service a la UPS or a smartphone.

The Journal concluded: "For the investor blessed with a long time horizon, little has changed about Amazon's story. For everyone else, it is starting to read increasingly like Waiting for Godot."


In an interview with the Guardian, Christopher North, the head of Amazon's U.K. operations, defended the company's European corporate structure and U.K. tax payments, saying, "We pay all of the taxes we're required to pay in every jurisdiction around the world, including the U.K…. I don't think following the law gives the company an unfair advantage."

Amazon's European headquarters is in Luxembourg, which has a lower tax rate than most other E.U. countries, and Amazon funnels its U.K. business through it. As a result, the company had sales of £4.3 billion (about US$7.2 billion) in the U.K. in 2013 but paid U.K. taxes of just £3.15 million ($5.3 million) in 2012.

"I would defy anybody to find a way to have 120 million products available to U.K. customers if they only did that from a single U.K. team, sourcing products from the U.K., with only warehouses in the U.K.," North said. "We just couldn't do that. And a single European business is going to need a single European headquarters."

An unnamed Amazon spokesperson chimed in--with phrasing only possible at Amazon: "Making country-by-country comparisons is difficult. We're very pleased with our continued growth in the U.K. and worldwide, and know that it will only come if we continue to find ways to delight customers."

Chronicle Books: Inside Cat by Brendan Wenzel

Kobo Lays Off 63 in 'Restructuring'

Last Thursday, Kobo laid off 63 people out of a global work force of some 500 people, the Toronto Star reported. Kobo PR manager René d'Entremont told the paper, "To focus resources on innovation, partners, and readers, the leadership team has realigned the organization's structure, which has also meant some staff reductions.

"As part of this change, teams have been restructured and optimized; redeploying employees to best use their skills to support the company's core goal of providing the best global e-reading experience. All our offices will continue to operate as usual, with a mandate to grow the business in each of our territories."

Kobo, which was bought by Rakuten in 2012 and is a partner of the American Booksellers Association, has had several executive changes this year. In February, Takahito "Taka" Aiki, former CEO of Rakuten's Fusion Communications subsidiary, was named CEO of Kobo, replacing Michael Serbinis. And early this month, Michael Tamblyn was promoted to president and continues as chief content officer.

Paraclete Press: Mr. Nicholas: A Magical Christmas Tale by Christopher de Vinck


Image of the Day: Land of Shadows

Forge invited booksellers to lunch last week in San Francisco to help launch Land of Shadows by Rachel Howzell Hall, which introduces LAPD Detective Elouise Norton. Seated, left to right: Nick Petrulakis, Books Inc., Alameda; Cheryl McKeon, Book Passage, Ferry Building; Rachel Howzell Hall; (standing, left to right) Kevin Peters, Korje Guttormsen, Books Inc., Laurel Village; Ingrid Nystrom, Books Inc., Laurel Village; Paula Foley, Folio Books; Owen Hill, Moe's Books; and Jude Feldman, Borderlands Books. 

Common Good Books: 'Love Poems; Contest Winner

Kristal Leebrick's poem "New year love" won the $1,000 first prize in "Love Letters: The Second Annual Common Good Books Poetry Contest," which was launched on Valentine's Day, when writers across the U.S. were invited to submit a love poem to the competition sponsored by Garrison Keillor's Common Good Books in St. Paul, Minn. In addition to the winner, the four runners-up--Edwin Romond, Kathleen Novak, Ann Harrington and Chet Corey--each received $250 prizes.

"We knew there are a lot of poetry lovers out there, but even we were overwhelmed to receive over 1,000 entries from across the country," said David Enyeart, the bookshop's event coordinator and assistant manager. "The majority of the entries were from Minnesota--it's only cold outside here, apparently; we're warm on the inside--but almost every state can claim at least one aspiring poet."

Enyeart added that he would "encourage any store to run a contest of their own. Whether you ask for poems, short stories, slogans, or even customer reviews, a contest is a great way to help your customers show off their creativity and enthusiasm."

Yesterday, Common Good Books hosted a celebration of poetry at which the winners were named, having been selected from a list of 25 finalists by judges Keillor, Tom Hennen and Patricia Hampl. In writing about the finalists, Keillor observed: "Some poems were fascinating but we rejected them anyway. Probably we were wrong.... there was a lot to admire everywhere we looked."

Personnel Changes at Harper, Crown, Clarkson Potter, S&S

At HarperCollins's General Books Group, Pam Spengler-Jaffee has been named senior director of publicity and brand development for Avon/Voyager.


In the Crown Trade Publicity Department:

Sarah Breivogel has been named executive publicist.
Dyana Messina has been promoted to assistant director of publicity.
Lauren Kuhn has been promoted to publicist.


In the Clarkson Potter Publicity Department:

Anna Mintz has been promoted to publicity manager.
Natasha Martin has been promoted to associate publicist.


In Simon & Schuster's Children's Division:

Anthony Parisi has been promoted to associate marketing manager, Education and Library. He joined the company as a marketing associate in 2012.
Candace Greene has joined the Education & Library Marketing Group as marketing manager. She was formerly assistant marketing manager for author events and trade conventions in the Education & Library Marketing Group at Scholastic.
Matt Pantoliano has been promoted to associate director of digital marketing. He joined S&S in 2003 in trade marketing and in 2008 moved to the digital side.
Carolyn Swerdloff has been promoted to assistant marketing director for the Aladdin Books and Simon Pulse imprints. She joined the company in 2010.

Media and Movies

Movies: Genius; The Two Faces of January

Jude Law will play author Thomas Wolfe in the film adaptation of A. Scott Berg's Max Perkins: Editor of Genius, reported. Law joins a cast that includes Colin Firth as Perkins and Nicole Kidman. Michael Grandage is directing from a script by John Logan. The project begins shooting this fall in the U.K. and U.S.  


A clip, new TV spot, images and posters have been released The Two Faces of January, based on a novel by Patricia Highsmith and starring Oscar Isaac, Kirsten Dunst and Viggo Mortensen, Indiewire reported. The film, which is directed by Hossein Amini, opens in the U.K. May 16. No U.S. release date has been set yet.

TV: BET Greenlights The Book of Negroes

The BET network has greenlighted its first miniseries: The Book of Negroes, based on the Commonwealth Prize-winning novel by Lawrence Hill, reported. Cuba Gooding Jr., Louis Gossett Jr. and Aunjanue Ellis star in the six-part miniseries, which BET is producing in partnership with eOne and the CBC.
Shooting is currently underway in Nova Scotia on the project that "began filming in South Africa and has moved to a dozen different locations," CBC News wrote. The book and film tell the story of a woman "who is kidnapped from Africa and sold into slavery in the southern U.S. She later makes her way to Halifax and, finally, to England at the turn of the 19th century."

Hill, who also helped write the screenplay, told CBC News it has been interesting to watch the actors and director interpret his work: "It's fascinating, it's a great honor."

Media Heat: Mookie Wilson in Daily Show Lineup

This morning on the Today Show: Julie Andrews and Emma Walton Hamilton, authors of The Very Fairy Princess: Graduation Girl! (Little, Brown, $18, 9780316219600). They will also appear tomorrow on the Chew.


This morning on Morning Joe: Ziggy Marley, author of I Love You Too (Akashic Books, $15.95, 9781617753107). He will also appear on VH1's Morning Buzz and tomorrow night on the Late Show with David Letterman.


Today on the View: Jim Gaffigan, author of Dad Is Fat (Three Rivers Press, $15.99, 9780385349079).


Today on Chelsea Lately: Jen Kirkman, author of I Can Barely Take Care of Myself: Tales From a Happy Life Without Kids (Simon & Schuster, $15, 9781476739946).


Tonight on Conan: Chelsea Handler, author of Uganda Be Kidding Me (Grand Central, $27, 9781455599738).


Tonight on the Daily Show: Mookie Wilson, co-author of Mookie: Life, Baseball, and the '86 Mets (Berkley, $26.95, 9780425271322).


Tomorrow on Dr. Oz: Alejandro Junger, author of Clean Eats: Over 200 Delicious Recipes to Reset Your Body's Natural Balance and Discover What It Means to Be Truly Healthy (HarperOne, $29.99, 9780062327819).


Tomorrow on NPR's Diane Rehm Show: George Saunders, author of Congratulations, by the Way: Some Thoughts on Kindness (Random House, $14, 9780812996272).


Tomorrow on the Ellen Degeneres Show: Robin Roberts, co-author of Everybody's Got Something (Grand Central, $27, 9781455578450). She will also appear tomorrow night on Jimmy Kimmel Live.


Tomorrow on the View: Diane Keaton, author of Let's Just Say It Wasn't Pretty (Random House, $26, 9780812994261).


Tomorrow on Tavis Smiley: Sylvia Longmire, author of Border Insecurity: Why Big Money, Fences, and Drones Aren't Making Us Safer (Palgrave Macmillan, $27, 9781137278906).

Also on Tavis Smiley: Harry Hamlin, author of Full Frontal Nudity: The Making of an Accidental Actor (Scribner, $18.99, 9781439170007).


Tomorrow night on the Pete Holmes Show: Bob Mankoff, author of How About Never--Is Never Good for You?: My Life in Cartoons (Holt, $32.50, 9780805095906).


Tomorrow night on Conan: Max Brooks, author of The Harlem Hellfighters (Broadway, $16.95, 9780307464972).


Tomorrow night on the Daily Show: William D. Cohan, author of The Price of Silence: The Duke Lacrosse Scandal, the Power of the Elite, and the Corruption of Our Great Universities (Scribner, $35, 9781451681796).

Books & Authors

Awards: Cornelius Ryan Winner

Jonathan Katz has won the Cornelius Ryan Award, sponsored by the Overseas Press Club of America and given to "the best nonfiction book on international affairs," for The Big Truck That Went By: How the World Came to Save Haiti and Left Behind a Disaster (Palgrave Macmillan). The judges commented: "A riveting first-person account of the Haitian earthquake and the failure of the international relief effort by the former Associated Press bureau chief in Port-au-Prince. Jonathan Katz impressively weaves together the dramatic events of the earthquake and its aftermath, including a United Nations-induced cholera epidemic. He highlights the self-defeating efforts of NGOs to deal with the tragedy and the impotence and corruption of Haiti's government."

Book Review

Review: Funny Once

Funny Once: Stories by Antonya Nelson (Bloomsbury, $26 hardcover, 9781620408612, May 20, 2014)

In the title story in Antonya Nelson's new collection of dark but dead-on stories of frayed marriages and entangled families, the younger partner of a Houston lesbian couple (both named Louise) amuses a dinner party with a clever line she drunkenly repeats three times. Newly abstemious Phoebe, unhappy spouse of Ben and old friend of the senior Louise, "makes a mental note, in case she went back to drinking: it's only funny once." Ben and Phoebe are typical of the couples in Nelson's stories. She finds something to hate in everything around her, "raised by critics, pessimists; she was genetically disposed... highly credentialed in disillusion." He is a "professional idealist," who like his old friend Ouisie, is "aggressively amenable," trying to hold things together. Ben and Phoebe bicker, they laugh, they share sarcastic observations; but in the end Phoebe doesn't really like Ben. She hates his flashy car ("he was neither young enough nor old enough to be driving it") and hates "how he set the brake, some piece of smug punctuation." He fails to see that "life was so little like a science experiment and so much like a cluttered drawer where you tossed things just to get them out of sight."

Winner of the 2003 Rea Award for the Short Story and author of seven story collections and four novels, including Female Trouble and Bound, Nelson has perfected the fiction of character and place. These 10 new stories are set in her home turf of New Mexico, Texas, Kansas and Colorado--far from the celebrity glare of the coasts. Their characters wrestle with infidelity, inebriation and infirmity. They live in neighborhoods "populated by university professors and medical personnel, equitable two-income two-children homes, nannies and gardeners and housekeepers, the insulated hub of bleeding heart liberalism." Their parents are suffering dementia and destined for a nursing home--in one story hauled off by their children listening to Tina Turner while "dad was riding in the grody bed of a truck, duct-taped into an easy chair." Their own children grow up distant or isolated, as if "suddenly transformed from the young girl they'd known into the adult they couldn't fathom." With an eye for the humorous contradictions and misplaced passions of people wanting badly but failing to connect, Nelson's stories remind us that in the end there is nothing funny about the emotional distress of relationships--at least not more than once. --Bruce Jacobs

Shelf Talker: Antonya Nelson's wry new stories take us to familiar places where infidelity, inebriation and infirmity wreak havoc.

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