Shelf Awareness for Friday, May 9, 2014

Papercutz: Children of the Phoenix Vol. 1: The Eye of the Storm by Oskar Källner, illustrated by Karl Johnsson

Shadow Mountain: Under the Java Moon: A Novel of World War II by Heather B. Moore

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers: So Let Them Burn by Kamilah Cole

Minotaur Books: The Rumor Game by Thomas Mullen

Tordotcom: The Dead Cat Tail Assassins P. Djèlí Clark

Shadow Mountain: The Queen and the Knave (Proper Romance Victorian) by Sarah M. Eden


Amazon Delaying Shipment on Select Hachette Titles

Amazon has been listing several popular titles published by Hachette Book Group as being unavailable for up to three weeks in what the New York Times called "a flexing of its muscle as a battle with a publisher spills into the open."

The books, new as well as old, include Everybody's Got Something by Robin Roberts and Stephen Colbert's America Again: Re-becoming the Greatness We Never Weren't, while James Patterson's Alex Cross, Run is listed as taking up to five weeks to ship. Even J.D. Salinger's Nine Stories and Franny & Zooey are showing lengthy waiting times.

Noting that Amazon was delaying shipments "for reasons of their own," Hachette spokeswoman Sophie Cottrell said, "We have been asked legitimate questions about why many of our books are at present marked out of stock with relatively long estimated shipping times on the Amazon website, in contrast to immediate availability on other websites and in stores. We are satisfying all Amazon's orders promptly."

"Amazon is holding minimal stock," she added, and restocking some of Hachette's books "slowly."

The Times noted that for "at least a decade, Amazon has not been shy about throwing its weight around with publishers, demanding bigger discounts and more time to pay its bills. When a publisher balked, it would withdraw the house's titles from its recommendation algorithms."

In a statement, Hachette expressed gratitude "for the patience of authors and all Amazon readers as we work to reach an agreement and to encourage Amazon to be back to offering Hachette Book Group's books within normal shipment times." Cottrell told Publishers Lunch that "the re-stocking has been an issue for a few weeks, roughly."

Running Press Adult: You Are a Badass(r) (Ultimate Collector's Edition): How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life by Jen Sincero

General Retail Sales in March: 'Sharply Higher'

Retailers "posted sharply higher sales in April as warmer temperatures and a later Easter holiday helped push shoppers into stores," the Wall Street Journal reported. For the month, sales at stores open at least a year increased 6% at the eight retailers tracked by Thomson Reuters, compared with projections of 2.8% growth and a 4.3% jump last year. For March and April combined, retailers reported 4.1% growth, up from 3.5% a year earlier.

Citing the Easter holiday, John Tomlinson of ITG Investment Research said May "will likely give the first clear read on most retail trends," the Journal noted.

Atria Books: Interesting Facts about Space by Emily Austin

ABA Board Election Results

The American Booksellers Association has announced results of balloting by members to elect three directors, who will serve three-year terms on the ABA Board (2014–2017).

Elected to her first term on the board is Jamie Fiocco of Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill, N.C.; and to their second terms are John Evans of DIESEL, A Bookstore, with locations in Brentwood, Larkspur, Malibu and Oakland, Calif.; and Matthew Norcross of McLean & Eakin Booksellers, Petoskey, Mich.

Steve Bercu of BookPeople, Austin, Tex., and Betsy Burton of the King's English Bookshop, Salt Lake City, Utah, begin their second year as ABA president and v-p/secretary, respectively.

Continuing to serve on the 10-member board are Sarah Bagby of Watermark Books and Café, Wichita, Kan.; Valerie Koehler of Blue Willow Bookshop, Houston, Tex.; Annie Philbrick of Bank Square Books, Mystic, Conn.; Robert Sindelar of Third Place Books, Lake Forest Park, Wash.; and Jonathon Welch of Talking Leaves Books, Buffalo, N.Y.

Leaving the board is Ken White of Books Inc., San Francisco, who is at the end of his second three-year term.

GLOW: Carolrhoda Books: Pangu's Shadow by Karen Bao

B&N Seeks Expansion in College Store Market

Barnes & Noble, the second-largest operator of college bookstores with 696 locations, plans to have as many as 1,000 campus stores within five years. In an interview with Reuters, B&N College CEO Max Roberts said the company intends to accomplish its goal by convincing more schools to outsource their bookstore operations and by poaching accounts from Follett Corp., which runs 940 college stores.

"We want to make our stores the center of the community, and appeal to other consumers, not just students," Roberts said.

Citing the new "academic superstore" at Rutgers University, Reuters noted that B&N "thinks it can eventually bring [that model] to 75 college stores, compared to 35 now. These superstores are about 30,000 square feet, a size more typical of a traditional Barnes & Noble store than a college store."

Winning over a significant number of the 1,500 college stores that remain independent could be a challenge, according to Ed Schlichenmeyer, deputy CEO of the National Association of College Stores. "The low-hanging fruit has largely been picked," he said. "They stay independent because they feel a need to be adaptable to faculty, and increasingly, student demands."

Flatiron Books: The Bad Ones by Melissa Albert

ABA Video: Sales Tax Fairness: The Time Is Now

Sales Tax Fairness: The Time Is Now, a new video from the American Booksellers Association, features 10 member booksellers offering testimonials calling for sales tax fairness. "For those of you out there in bookselling world who are not engaged in this fight, become engaged because if you are engaged at the community level, you can change the minds of people at the national level," said Betsy Burton of the King’s English Bookshop in Salt Lake City.

Soho Crime: My Favorite Scar by Nicolás Ferraro, translated by Mallory Craig-Kuhn

Obituary Note: Russell Edson

Russell Edson, called "the godfather of the prose poem in America," died April 29, the Poetry Foundation reported. He was 79. Edson's work included the poetry collections See Jack, The Rooster's Wife, The Tormented Mirror and The Tunnel: Selected Poems, as well as the novels Gulping's Recital and The Song of Percival Peacock.


Image of the Day: McMurtry on The Last Kind Words Saloon

Larry McMurtry was interviewed at the Dallas Museum of Art earlier this week--his sole event for his new novel, The Last Kind Words Saloon. Pictured (l.-r.) are Diana Ossana, McMurtry's writing partner and fellow Oscar recipient for Brokeback Mountain; McMurtry and his wife, Faye Kesey McMurtry; and Robert Weil, McMurtry's editor at Liveright/W.W. Norton.

Cool Idea of the Day: MIBA Mentors

The Midwest Independent Booksellers Association has launched MIBA Mentors, a new program "based on the premise that bookstores are stronger when they help each other. MIBA Mentors will share their bookselling knowledge to help their fellow booksellers succeed."

There are three primary components to the MIBA mentorship program:

  • Experienced booksellers volunteer to help. You can become a MIBA Mentor, a Bookseller on Deck, or both.
  • Stores open less than a year may request to join the program. MIBA pairs them with a MIBA Mentor.
  • Stores facing challenging situations can contact a Bookseller on Deck to talk confidentially about the matters at hand.

NeRD Ahoy!: Navy Keeps Spying Fictional

The U.S. Navy will soon supply its submariners with a new e-reader--the Navy eReader Device, or NeRD. The NeRD, by Findaway, comes with a library of 300 titles, including fiction from Tom Clancy and James Patterson, as well as classics and naval history. The NeRD is designed to thwart security concerns raised by cameras, network connectivity and data transferability on regular e-readers and tablets.

Personnel Changes at Llewellyn

At Llewellyn:

Nan Fulle has joined the sales department as national account manager.
Mallory Hayes has been promoted to senior publicist at Flux Books.
Beth Hanson has been promoted to publicist at Midnight Ink, the mystery fiction imprint. She was formerly publicity assistant.

Book Trailers: The Falconer, The Meaning of Maggie

Two books from Chronicle out this week:

The Falconer by Elizabeth May, a YA debut featuring Lady Aileana Kameron, a proper Victorian Scottish young lady by day and a bloodthirsty faerie killer avenging her mother's death by night.

The Meaning of Maggie by Megan Jean Sovern, a middle-grade novel that follows, through the eyes (and journal) of youngest daughter, Maggie, a year in the life of the Mayfield family.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Marc Maron on Fresh Air

Today on Fresh Air: Marc Maron, author of Attempting Normal (Spiegel & Grau, $16, 9780812982787).


Tomorrow on Fox & Friends: Ryan Porter, author of Make Your Own Lunch: How to Live an Epically Epic Life through Work, Travel, Wonder, and (Maybe) College (Sourcebooks, $14.99, 9781402297038).


Sunday on NPR's Weekend Edition: Richard Corliss, author of Mom in the Movies: The Iconic Screen Mothers You Love (and a Few You Love to Hate) (Simon & Schuster, $35, 9781476738260).


Sunday on OWN-TV's Super Soul Sunday: Hollye Jacobs and Elizabeth Messina, authors of The Silver Lining: A Supportive and Insightful Guide to Breast Cancer (Atria, $29.99, 9781476743714).

Movies: Alexander & the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

A trailer has been released for Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, adapted by Rob Lieber from Judith Viorst's popular children's book. noted that "just when 11-year-old Alexander (Ed Oxenbould) starts having the worst day of his life, he discovers all of his family members (Steve Carell, Jennifer Garner, Dylan Minnette, Kerris Dorsey) are having bad days of their own." The cast also includes Megan Mullally, Jennifer Coolidge and Bella Thorne. Directed by Miguel Arteta, the movie hits theaters October 10.

Books & Authors

Awards: George Wittenborn Memorial; Poetry Foundation

The Poetry Foundation announced that Nathaniel Mackey won the $100,000 Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, which honors a living U.S. poet for outstanding lifetime achievement. Don Share, editor of Poetry magazine, said Mackey "continues an American bardic line that unfolds from Whitman's Leaves of Grass to H.D.'s Trilogy to Olson's Maximus Poems, winds through the whole of Robert Duncan's work and extends beyond all of these."

In addition, the foundation presented the first annual $7,500 Pegasus Award for Poetry Criticism to University of California Press for two books in their Collected Writings of Robert Duncan series--Robert Duncan: The Collected Later Poems and Plays, edited by Peter Quartermain; and Robert Duncan: Collected Essays and Other Prose, edited by James Maynard.  

The winners will be honored during a ceremony at the Poetry Foundation on June 9.


Art Libraries Society of North America announced that this year's winner of its George Wittenborn Memorial Book Award, which is given to a North American art publication that represent "the highest standards of content, documentation, layout and format in art publishing," went to Interaction of Color by Josef Albers (App for iPad). Yale University Press published the 50th anniversary edition of Albers's masterwork in art education last year.

Book Brahmin: Bernard Besson

A former chief of staff of the French equivalent of the FBI, Bernard Besson was involved in dismantling Soviet spy rings in France and Western Europe at the fall of the Soviet Union, and is one of the France's top specialists in economic intelligence. He is also a prize-winning thriller writer--eight of his novels have been published in France. His latest was just translated into English. The Greenland Breach (Le French Book, April 30, 2014) is a spy novel set on a backdrop of global warming.

On your nightstand now:

I'm rereading The Company by Robert Littell, which recounts the history of the CIA. It brings back fond memories of when I worked counterespionage and kept my eye on CIA agents posted in Paris. They were very efficient, showed their faces and knew France very well. From time to time, we played hide and seek. I remember one American couple, both members of the Honorable Company, and both incredibly smart and stunning in conversation. They didn't need gadgets and NSA satellites to understand France and the French.

Your favorite book when you were a child:

I pretty much learned to read with Tintin by Hergé. The little Belgian reporter and his dog Snowy opened my eyes to the world and made me dream about faraway countries and other civilizations. There's nothing better than a comic book to give children a taste for reading, and even for writing.

Your top five authors:

Arthur Conan Doyle, because he invented a genre; Jules Verne, for his powerful imagination; Victor Hugo, because he's the French Homer with a universal mind; Jorge Luis Borges, because he opens doors to another world that lives both inside us and alongside us--the twilight zone of literature; and Honoré de Balzac, because he psychoanalyzed society before that therapy was even invented.

A writer--living or dead--for whom you'd take a bullet:

Victor Hugo, because he risked his own.

Book you've faked reading:

Ulysses by James Joyce, which is as incomprehensible to me as baseball or cricket.

Books you're an evangelist for:

The Ancient City by Numa Denis Fustel de Coulanges and The Story of Art by E.H. Gombrich. These two books describe how civilizations are born and what they represent, both key to understanding politics and the economy.

Book you've bought for the cover

The Adventures of Tintin by Hergé and Asterix and Obelix by Albert Uderzo.

Book that changed your life:

No book has changed my life, per se, but many have changed my perspective. The ones mentioned above represent stages in my learning process.

Favorite line from a book:

"Those changes which occur naturally in life, the sage accepts as an opportunity for learning." --Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching

Character you most relate to:

Doctor Watson, in awe of his friend Sherlock Holmes.

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

The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle, because it is a subtle mix of the rational and the irrational, of mystery and logic.

Book Review

Review: The Farm

The Farm by Tom Rob Smith (Grand Central Publishing, $26 hardcover, 9780446550734, June 3, 2014)

After the success of the Leo Demidov trilogy, which began with his smash debut, Child 44, English writer Tom Rob Smith has returned with The Farm. Set mainly on a somewhat desolate farm in rural southern Sweden, it offers a disarming twist on the chilling psychological thriller genre.

Daniel lives in London with his partner, Mark. He has kept his homosexuality a secret from his retired parents, who bought the Swedish farm and left England; he knows they would have a difficult time understanding his relationship. His uneventful life is shattered when he receives a frantic phone call from his father, Chris: "Your mother…she's not well.... She's been imagining things." Daniel decides to fly to Sweden, but then he receives a one-word e-mail from his mother, Tilde: "Daniel!" Then another call from his father telling him she'd discharged herself from the hospital in which he'd placed her. He insists she's making accusations against him and none of them are true. Another call from his mother counters: everything Chris has said is a lie and she's flying to London.

On this unreliable footing, The Farm can really begin. It's a book of voices: Daniel's narration, then his mother's. She reveals that she and Chris were well-off but then lost most of their money, which they kept secret from their son. In Sweden, she thinks Chris has been corrupted by their neighbor, Hâkan, whose adopted daughter, Mia, is missing. Tilde is convinced Chris is involved and that they want to keep her quiet. She has proof; her satchel contains "evidence."

Each item she reveals tells a different aspect of her story. There's a detailed journal, photographs, a map and her diary; a collection of Swedish troll stories (like those she read to Daniel when he was young); a wooden knife, the blade painted silver, with engravings of a troll and a naked woman; newspaper clippings; a charred embroidered Bible quote; a barn dance flyer. Piece by piece, her desperate story unfolds. Daniel is confused, skeptical. He wants to believe her, but can all this really be true?

It's Daniel's mystery to solve. He'll have to go to Sweden to decide for himself. The competing voices are compelling, easily holding the reader's attention despite the confusing layers of truth and conjecture. Part mystery and part confession, The Farm is filled with secrets. It fascinates, it puzzles. It's also quite an accomplishment. Take a deep breath and dive in with an open mind. --Tom Lavoie

Shelf Talker: This mystery of voices within voices is a modern-day Moonstone: Who can be trusted and who can be believed?

Deeper Understanding

Robert Gray: Mother's Day Is 'A Very Booky Holiday'

Do you know what the first rule of Mother's Day is at Hallmark? "Don't make fun of your mom."

Dad? It's always open season on him. Even Mother's Day isn't a safe paternal harbor (please refer to Exhibit A--this great card featured by Chapter2Books, Hudson, Wis.). Tina Neidlein, a Hallmark greeting card writer, told Bloomberg Businessweek: "On Father's Day, you can say, 'Dad, all you want is a sandwich!' or 'Dad, you nap a lot.' But if you make fun of your mother, she's going to cry. And you can't even make fun of that."

Just to be safe, we'll opt for the "be grateful" strategy, as in "Thanks Mom for Being My First Storyteller." The new video from HarperCollins features several authors--Veronica Roth, Soman Chainani, Lauren Oliver, Ann Patchett, Dan Gutman, Rita Williams-Garcia, Adriana Trigiani and more--expressing their bookish Mother's Day gratitude.

Books. That's the ticket. While the don't-make-fun-of-mom edict is probably based more on Hallmark's penchant for sentimental typecasting than scientific research, it did remind me that indie booksellers have long made a point of breaking away from traditional (i.e., cliché) merchandising options in their Mother's Day displays. For example, this year the Book Nook, Ludlow, Vt., showcases Sheryl Sandberg's Lean In: Women, Work, & the Will to Lead and Elizabeth Warren's A Fighting Chance on its Mother's Day table. And then there are the delightfully entomological sentiments expressed on the cover of a greeting card featured by Greenlight Bookstore, Brooklyn, N.Y. ("Eating her young meant fewer Mother's Day cards to open")

Harvard Book Store, Cambridge, Mass., created a video of personal staff picks for their mothers, with a nice range of choices: A Fighting Chance, Sibley Birds, A Platter of Figs, Journey, Ethics for the New Millennium, Beatrix Potter's Gardening Life, The Girl with a Clock for a Heart and Flour, Too: Indispensable Recipes for the Cafe's Most Loved Sweets & Savories.

"Mother's Day is a very booky holiday," the New York Times observed. "A book isn't too much, it doesn't have to be prominently displayed, it doesn't demand a conversation about how calories-don't-count-because-whatever and it doesn't wilt--or it goes nicely with more traditional gifts, which do do some of those things. Mother's Day is a fun time to give a book she will love to a friend, too: maybe a friend whose spouse and children don't 'get it' quite as well as you do."

Last year, Kobo released a Mother's Day video featuring moms from many countries reading with their children, ending with: "She gave you the gift of reading. On Mother's Day, give it back."

Once upon a time (let's call it the early 1950s), when I was three or four years old, a fierce thunderstorm hit our town. Through the haze of memory, I can still feel the intensity of that storm, but I mostly remember the shelter my younger brother and I found on my mother's lap while she read us a story to take our minds off what she called "God bowling in the sky."

I was reminded of that moment when I recently encountered a lovely and very bookish e-newsletter column by Nancy Page, owner of Island Books, Mercer Island, Wash.: "With our youngest, Lewis, leaving home in the fall to attend college in the Midwest, this Mother's Day takes on a special meaning and gives me pause to reflect. The school-age years have been full, as I watched our children forge their own friendships and become the young adults that they are, but it was the early years when we hunkered down on the couch and read piles of books for hours at a time, completely absorbed in stories, that hold the fondest memories. I liked to read aloud and my kids loved to listen--a match made in heaven."

Page then chronicles a title-rich reading life with her children before concluding: "So maybe I could have done this mothering thing differently and my children would be practical scientists or mathematicians in the making, but instead they are exactly as they always have been and really in my opinion, should be, the sorts who love stories, bookseller's children. I am forever grateful for those years spent reading to them. So if you are at home with little ones, I suggest you make time to read. Read a lot to them. Punctuate your days with books, piles of books on the couch. You will never regret it. Happy Mother's Day." --Robert Gray, contributing editor

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