Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, June 14, 2006


Simon & Schuster: Launch a Reading Star With Ready to Read Campaign

Bramble: Pen Pal Special Edition by J.T. Geissinger

Sourcebooks Landmark: Long After We Are Gone by Terah Shelton Harris

Soho Crime: Broiler by Eli Cranor

Berkley Books: We Love the Nightlife by Rachel Koller Croft

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers: Waiting in the Wings by Julie Andrews and Emma Walton Hamilton, Illustrated by Eg Keller

Webtoon Unscrolled: Boyfriends. Volume Two: A Webtoon Unscrolled Graphic Novel by Refrainbow

Shadow Mountain: The Witch in the Woods: Volume 1 (Grimmworld) by Michaelbrent Collings

News

Notes: Hall/ to Be/ New Poet Laureate; Toibin Takes Prize

Donald Hall will be named poet laureate of the U.S. today, according to the New York Times, which noted that he has been "a harsh critic of the religious right's influence on government arts policy." Hall told the Times he doesn't see the position as a bully pulpit, "but it's a pulpit anyway. If I see First Amendment violations, I will speak up."

Hall said he hopes to continue the efforts of recent poet laureates to expand poetry's reach: "I'd like to encourage NPR to pay more attention to poetry and the cable networks, with the possibility of HBO doing something."

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In the latest round of skirmishing between some U.S. and U.K. publishers over sales in continental Europe, five European booksellers and distributors in Lisbon, Barcelona, Copenhagen, Amsterdam and Paris have sent an open letter to publishers in the U.S. and U.K. opposing British efforts to obtain exclusive rights to sell English-language books in Europe, today's New York Times reported. (The issue was the topic of a major panel at BEA.)

The letter urged all publishers involved "to strongly reject any effort to restrict competition in the market," adding, "In a global market, this would be an atavistic move because it means a return to protectionism and an attack on cultural diversity."

The Paris bookseller who signed the letter, Odile Hellier, owner of Village Voice Bookshop, commented: "My customers are extremely sensitive to the American or English paperbacks. Americans love to buy the U.K. editions here because they don't see them at home and vice versa. The U.K. people love to see American jackets. It's the diversity which is important."

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Colm Toibin has won the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, worth €100,000 (about U.S.$125,000). Toibin, a former journalist and magazine editor, won for his novel The Master (Scribner, $14, 0743250419) about Henry James.

He told the AP, "The great advantage of this is it really frees you, the money."

The judges called The Master "a powerful account of the hazards of putting the life of the mind before affairs of the heart. . . . Its preoccupations are truth and the elusiveness of intimacy, and from such preoccupations emerge this patient, beautiful exposure of loss, and the price of the pursuit of perfection."

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At last week's "wake up, not a wake" meeting in Berkeley, Calif., there was no resolution to do whatever it would take to keep open Cody's Books flagship store on Telegraph Ave., but the 200 or so participants expressed their affection for the store and focused on how to reinvigorate the area without destroying its essence, according to the Berkeley Daily Planet.

Cody's owner Andy Ross advised future booksellers in the area to cut overhead, pay lower rent and run a smaller store.

Ken Sarachan, owner of Rasputin's Records, offered Moe's bookstore $250,000 to move to the Cody's site to create "a bigger and greater Moe's."


G.P. Putnam's Sons: Assassins Anonymous by Rob Hart


Courtroom Crib Sheet for Booksellers: New Hires

The following are tips for first-time employers from a new Nolo Press audio CD for booksellers called The Bookseller's Little Legal Companion. For a free copy of the CD, write to Nolo at TradeCS@nolo.com.


If it's the first time your bookstore hired an employee, you should:



Florida Bookstore for Sale: Email bookstore4sale2023@gmail.com


Oh BookExpo Canada: Report from Toronto

Editors' Note: The following report on BookExpo Canada, held this past weekend, was graciously provided by Chuck Erion, co-owner of Words Worth Books in Waterloo, Ont.


Canadian publishers and booksellers met for their annual trade fair in Toronto last weekend amidst controversy over book pricing, digitization and where and when to meet next year. The Canadian Booksellers Association held a full day of professional development workshops before the trade show opened on Sunday. And the day before that, the CBA board invited a dozen booksellers from across the country (your scribe included) to focus on several issues in an all-day meeting. So, throw in a few publishers' parties, and I was pretty bushed by Sunday night.

The trade floor at the Metro Convention Centre was abuzz with visits by several of this fall's lead authors: Margaret Atwood, Wayne Johnston, Charlotte Gray, Dennis Bock, Adrienne Clarkson, Noah Richler, David Adams Richards and dozens of others. Johnston and Richards were part of a Random House lunch, where they shared tales of getting their works recognized in their Maritime home provinces (both now live in Toronto). Richards told the crowded roomful of booksellers, "They never got mad at me in New Brunswick for anything I wrote. They just tried to burn down my house." Johnston had the crowd in stitches recalling the controversy over his fictional portrait of Joey Smallwood (the longtime premier of Newfoundland in the period after 1949, when it joined Canada) in Colony of Unrequited Dreams. He enlisted John Crosbie's support, whom he quoted in his best Crosbie accent: "This book paints a sympathetic portrait of Joey Smallwood. Therefore it must be fiction."

Long lines formed for Mike Holmes whose book on renovations, Make It Right, will be out in November, and Food Network Canada barbecue guru Rob Rainford also signed books.

CBA's Libris Awards were handed out Sunday evening. Stephen Lewis (who could not be present) won Author of the Year and Nonfiction Book of 2005 for Race Against Time. Joseph Boyden took the Novel of the Year Award for Three Day Road. Accepting his prize, Boyden thanked his publisher, Penguin Canada, then choked up a little and said that he was glad he could cast readers' attention upon his historical hero, Ojibway soldier Francis Pegahmagabow.

The rise in value of the Canadian dollar to about 90 cents per U.S. dollar, compared to 65 cents a dollar a few years ago, has caused problems with consumers, who resent the price spread printed on books that reflects older, less-advantageous exchange rates. Many publishers are lowering their Canadian prices from what their fall catalogues display, but backlist titles are being adjusted only as they come up for reprint, which can take a couple of years in some cases. Random House passes the task of repricing to booksellers: the publisher will invoice backlist (minimum 12 months since pub date) at 54% for the next few months. Wiley is committed to a 20% markup over U.S. prices, a lower figure than most other importers.

Some major publishers floated the idea of opening the show to the public and perhaps holding it in the fall. Booksellers were not happy about this.

At workshops for both booksellers and publishers on the Friday before Book Expo, Booknet Canada's CEO Michael Tamblyn reported that Booknet has been accumulating sales data from approximately 70% of the Canadian book market since last October, totaling almost 29 million units. The average number of titles sold each week is 100,000, which compares favorably to the U.S. (400,000) and U.K. (150,000). Fiction holds roughly 50% of market share; of this, 67% are thrillers, dominated by Dan Brown. When The Da Vinci Code was released in paperback, it represented 5% of all books sold in Canada that week, and with his other books, Brown accounted for 7.7% of all books sold.

In the bookseller workshop, Tamblyn unveiled a tool called the BNC Prospector that store managers can use to compare their sales to the broader aggregate and discover titles that are selling elsewhere that they should consider carrying--something like Above the Treeline in the U.S. If that aggregate, which includes Chapters/Indigo and Costco stores, is too broad, independent booksellers can form peer groups to find more "like-minded" titles.

Also on the technology front at Book Expo: an appearance by Margaret Atwood's Long Pen, the invention that allows an author to "sign" on an electronic pad in one location, which moves a robotic pen to autograph their book in another location thousands of miles away. Atwood attempted unsuccessfully to demonstrate this at other trade shows so she took no chances at Toronto: both the signing tablet and the robot were in the same booth! Fortunately, Margaret's real pen still works. Moral Disorder, a collection of short stories with autobiographical elements, is due out in September. Her publisher, McClelland & Stewart, is celebrating its centenary and publishing new books from literary stalwarts Farley Mowat and Alice Munro, too. All in all, it looks like a great fall.


G.P. Putnam's Sons: Summer Romance by Annabel Monaghan


Media and Movies

Media Heat: Broken Trail on Publicity Path

Today on the Howard Stern Show: Robert Duvall and Alan Geoffrion, star and screenwriter, respectively, of Broken Trail, the movie that makes its debut Sunday, June 25, on AMC. As he wrote the screenplay, Geoffrion also wrote the book Broken Trail (Fulcrum, $14.95, 1555916058), which is now out.

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The Book Report, the new weekly AM radio book-related show organized by Windows a bookshop, Monroe, La., will feature two author interviews on today's show, which has a Father's Day theme (interestingly both titles have an obsessive word in them, but perhaps we obsess):
 
  • Monte Burke, author of Sowbelly: The Obsessive Quest for the World Record Largemouth Bass (Plume, $15, 0452287154).
  • Dan Koeppel, author of To See Every Bird on Earth: A Father, a Son, and a Lifelong Obsession (Plume, $14, 0452285399).
 
The show airs at 8 a.m. Central Time and can be heard live at thebookreport.net; the archived edition will be posted this afternoon.

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Today on WAMU's Diane Rehm Show: Anthony Arthur, author of Radical Innocent: Upton Sinclair (Random House, $27.95, 1400061512).

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Today on the View: Chris Gardner, author of The Pursuit of Happyness (Amistad, $25.95, 0060744863).

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Tonight on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart: Tim Russert, author of Wisdom of Our Fathers: Lessons and Letters From Daughters and Sons (Random House, $22.95, 1400064805).

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Tonight on the Charlie Rose Show: John Updike whose new novel is Terrorist (Knopf, $24.95, 0307264653).

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Tonight the Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson: Jamie Jensen, author of the guidebook, Road Trip USA (Avalon Travel, $29.95, 1566917662).


Harper: Our Kind of Game by Johanna Copeland


Books & Authors

Books for Understanding: New Orleans

The focus of the newest Books for Understanding online bibliography from the Association of American University Presses is New Orleans and features a range of subjects--from the Civil War to Creole and Cajun cooking to Tennessee Williams and the historic figures of New Orleans jazz.

The list honors the city where the AAUP is holding its annual meeting for four days, starting tomorrow, a place devastated by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and still trying to obtain the resources needed to recover, re-plan and rebuild, as the association put it.

For more information about the bibliography, click here.

Examples of the 120 books included on the list:

  • Uncivil War: Five New Orleans Street Battles and the Rise and Fall of Radical Reconstruction by James K. Hogue (Louisiana State University Press, 2006)
  • Rebuilding Urban Places After Disaster: Lessons from Hurricane Katrina edited by Eugenie L. Birch and Susan M. Wachter (University of Pennsylvania Press, September 2006)
  • Creating the Big Easy: New Orleans and the Emergence of Modern Tourism, 1918-1945 by Anthony J. Stanonis (University of Georgia Press, 2006)
  • Ignatius Rising: The Life of John Kennedy Toole by René Pol Nevils and Deborah George Hardy (LSU Press, 2005)
  • Louisiana Cookery by Mary Land (University Press of Mississippi, 2005)

Attainment: More New Books Next Week

Appearing in paperback next week:

Gods in Alabama by Joshilyn Jackson (Warner, $12.95, 0446694533), a major favorite with some booksellers, follows Arlene Fleet as she graduates high school and flees the south, leaving her reputation and a dead body behind. She promises God a life of honesty and abstinence in return for keeping her murder hidden. After nine years, her pact unravels.

Consider Lily: A Novel by Anne Dayton and May Vanderbilt (Broadway, $11.95, 0385518307) chronicles laidback Lily Traywick, daughter of the power couple who run San Francisco's highest end department store. Unsatisfied, Lily turns to her best friend of a major makeover.

Like Dandelion Dust by Karen Kingsbury (Center Street, $12.95, 1931722854) follows Jack and Molly Campbell, adoptive parents who are told to give up their child to his birth father, just released from prison. They must choose to obey the law or their hearts.

The Snapple Aptitude Test by Sandy Wood and Kara Kovalchik (Broadway Books, $9.95, 0767922654) collects 1,000 trivia questions featured in Snapple's "Real Facts."



Book Review

Mandahla: Fun Home Reviewed

Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic by Alison Bechdel (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH), $19.95 Hardcover, 9780618477944, June 2006)


 
Graphic novels have not been high on my to-read list; after Maus, nothing seemed compelling enough to get my attention. Since there are now numerous graphic novels, I decided to look again. Where to start? How to assess? I know very little about this genre/art form, so decided to fall back on the old "I don't know art, but I know what I like" strategy--pathetic, yes, but a place to start. At the urging of Nick Di Martino, one of the most persuasive booksellers in the world, I read Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic and came up a winner. Not only is this book satisfying graphically, it also is a riveting memoir about a family trapped in lies.

Alison Bechdel, author of the long-running strip Dykes to Watch Out For, tells of her childhood with a closeted father, who taught English and ran a funeral home, the "Fun Home" of the book title. He spent much of his time restoring and decorating their Gothic revival house in rural Pennsylvania, and his obsession with this other "fun home" is revealing: "He used skillful artifice not to make things, but to make things appear to be what they were not." One of the panels shows a Christmas tree, with three children arranged at its base, the father standing back with a glass of sherry, assessing the picture they made: "Sometimes, when things were going well, I think my father actually enjoyed having a family. Or at least, the air of authenticity we lent to his exhibit. A sort of still life with children." As a child, Bechdel puzzled over a book of Addams Family cartoons--the captions made no sense, since both her family and the family business seemed to be mirrored in the drawings. She became obsessive compulsive, using counting, hand gestures and incantations; she had to kiss each of her stuffed animals at night, no matter how sleepy she was: "Though it verges on the bathetic, I should point out that no one had kissed me good night in years."

In college, some pieces of Alison's life fall into place when she realized that she is a lesbian. She came out to her parents in a letter, and after a few exchanges, her mother told her that her father had had affairs with other men. Her parents were also divorcing, leaving her to feel "upstaged, demoted from protagonist in my own drama to comic relief in my parents' tragedy." Four months later, her father was dead, killed by a truck as he crossed a street. Believing the death a suicide, Bechdel wondered if she caused her father's death by telling her parents she was a lesbian, opening the closet the entire family had been in. Or perhaps her father had timed his death to coincide with F. Scott Fitzgerald's, but "that would only confirm that his death was not my fault. That, in fact, it had nothing to do with me at all. And I'm reluctant to let go of that last, tenuous bond."
 
Her father read extensively, with a special fondness for Camus, Proust, Fitzgerald and Joyce; a love of literature is part of his legacy to his daughter. His other gifts are less clear, but Bechdel, searching for clues in his letters quoting from Ulysses and other novels, reflects on the idea that they were close, but not close enough. She decides, with wisdom and sadness, "I shouldn't pretend to know what my father was."--Marilyn Dahl


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