Also published on this date: Wednesday, June 18, 2014: Maximum Shelf: The Miniaturist

Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, June 18, 2014


Yearling Books: Samantha Spinner and the Super-Secret Plans by Russell Ginns

Ballantine Books: Lost Roses by Martha Hall Kelly

Central Avenue Publishing: Pickle's Progress by Marcia Butler

Bitter Lemon Press: Evil Things by Katja Ivar

Delacorte Press: Song for a Whale by Lynne Kelly

Little Simon: Mia Mayhem Is a Superhero! (Mia Mayhem #1) by Kara West, illustrated by Leeza Hernandez

Quotation of the Day

Indie Bookshops: A 'Germinating Nursery' for Authors

"To have any book that's ever been published delivered the next day is absolutely incredible. But what Amazon can't do is grow little shoots of grass. There needs to be a germinating nursery, which is what independent bookshops are....

"Independents have to concentrate on what they can do differently from everyone else that's selling books, and also trust their customers. People aren't stupid: They can see that if you love books and like coming to this shop, you have to support it, and it's worth paying a bit more--like buying meat from the butcher down the road who can tell you where the cow grazed."

--Felicity Rubinstein, co-owner of Lutyens & Rubinstein, London, in Newsweek

G.P. Putnam's Sons: Fifty Things That Aren't My Fault: Essays from the Grown-Up Years by Cathy Guisewite


News

Rush Limbaugh Calls Teaching for Change Racist

On his show yesterday, conservative talk radio host Rush Limbaugh devoted an entire segment to harshly criticizing Teaching for Change for emphasizing children's books about people of color at a time when just 10% of titles published during the last five years were about people of color.

Limbaugh called the organization "racist" for not carrying his bestselling children's books at Busboys and Poets, Washington, D.C., where Teaching for Change runs a bookstore and schedules/hosts many of the author events. He learned about the decision while watching a recent C-Span 2 Book TV broadcast during which Teaching for Change executive director Deborah Menkart introduced Dave Zirin, author of Brazil's Dance with the Devil: The World Cup, the Olympics, and the Fight for Democracy.

On its website, Teaching for Change noted that Limbaugh's listeners have barraged the organization with calls, e-mails and Facebook comments "with vicious, hateful messages about how hateful we are and why we should 'drop dead.'

"Undaunted, we remain committed to providing access to children's literature that reflects the real diversity in this country. We hope you will join and support us by purchasing your books from our bookstore or webstore (not Amazon) and/or a donation. Your support can help us keep our doors open for many years to come with our unique and controversial collection of children's books."


Korero Press: The Home Bar Guide to Tropical Cocktails: A Spirited Journey Through Suburbia's Hidden Tiki Temples by Kelly Reilly and Tom Morgan


Seattle Indies: Maximum Concern About Minimum Wage

On June 2, the City Council of Seattle, Wash., voted to raise the city's minimum wage to an unprecedented $15 per hour over the next seven years. Seattle businesses, depending on number of employees and current benefits, have varying deadlines to phase in the wage increases--businesses with more than 500 employees have until 2018, while businesses with 500 employees or fewer have until 2021. And by April of next year, businesses with 500 or fewer employees must pay at least $11 per hour to employees who receive only wages as compensation and at least $10 per hour to employees who receive tips or benefits in addition to their wages. With no U.S. model to look toward, Seattle business owners, including independent booksellers, face a great deal of uncertainty.

"What we know is that our expenses are going to go up starting next year," said Peter Aaron, owner of Elliott Bay Book Company. He described his reaction to the minimum wage increase as one of cautious optimism--from a social justice perspective, it's a great thing for workers in an increasingly unaffordable city, and it could result down the road in more people with more money to buy more books. But there are many questions.

"If there is an increase in sales from an overall improvement to the economy and the strengthening of our customer base, then it will have a neutral to a beneficial effect," Aaron explained. "The worry is if it goes too far, too fast, the negative effect of job loss--by virtue of companies that can't afford the higher wages having to reduce staff or relocate--dominates the positive effect of wage increases."

Aaron reported that he's spoken to many other small business owners in Seattle about the wage increases and responses have been varied. "Reactions have covered the spectrum from 'this is the end of the world' to 'this is the greatest thing that's happened since the American Revolution,' " he said.

"We're all supportive of the fact that Seattle is a very expensive place to live and that people should be paid fair wages," said Lara Konick, human resources director for University Book Store, the city's largest indie. For UBS, the vote to raise the city's minimum wage coincided with an internal, store-wide compensation analysis. "Long term, it will improve living standards for people living in Seattle and for the people who work for us," she said. "Those are great things."

At the same time, however, like Aaron, Konick is concerned. Although the minimum wage hike could result in more people with more money to buy books, she's worried that the extra money will be swallowed up by living expenses. "People are already squeezed on rent and food," she said. "I think [the extra money] is going to go to living costs, to just allow them to keep up. But hopefully more of that money will stay in people's wallets for things like books."

Ultimately, Konick continued, UBS will follow the letter of the law and do what it needs to do. "We're going to be looking very hard at hours and schedules and staff needs," she said. "Our goal is to not lay people off or make any sweeping changes."

Robert Sindelar, the managing partner of Third Place Books in Lake Forest Park and Ravenna, Wash., is in an unusual situation: the Ravenna store is in Seattle, but the Lake Forest Park store lies outside of city limits. He is trying to figure out the implications of the wage increase on the separate stores.

"We have a company-wide policy on health insurance," Sindelar said. "Legally I have to look into it, whether I can have one policy for one store and another for the other store. I'd rather not change these things, but it looks like at some point I'm going to have to adjust.

"In general, when I'm looking at our business, it's not necessarily a good thing for our business or our employees," he continued. Third Place Books, Sindelar explained, offers a competitive health-care package and a 401(k) plan, and, among other discretionary expenses, also pays for its employees' bus passes. As costs rise due to the wage increase, Sindelar worries, these benefits may be at risk. He also wondered whether it was a better value to employees to pay them an extra $2 directly and have taxes taken out of it, or to put that same $2, before taxes, into health insurance coverage. "As you start increasing what you have to pay employees based on the law, we have to look at decreasing the other money we spend on employees," he said. "At the end of the day, total compensation will probably be a little less. That doesn't feel very good."

Sindelar acknowledged the potential long-term benefits that a higher minimum wage could have for Seattle, but is worried about short-term effects and the lack of any model. "There's no case study," he said. "Seattle is going to be the case study. I think in the short term, this is probably going to scare small business entrepreneurs from opening.... It's scary enough for us."

Tom Nissley, who bought Santoro's Books earlier this spring and will re-open it shortly as Phinney Books, did not expect the wage increase to have much of an effect on his store. In a decision that he said was totally unrelated to the minimum wage increase, he plans to keep staff to a minimum after re-opening. He did say, however, that he doesn't anticipate the wage increase to hinder future hiring. Despite the myriad uncertainties, he said he  supports the increase.

"We're all of the opinion that our booksellers are more than worth it," said Janis Segress, co-owner and manager of Queen Anne Book Company, "but it's a fine balancing act.

"As a co-owner and manager, it's all about overhead," Segress continued. "In order to compensate, there'd have to be cuts in other areas. Not sure if that means smaller inventory on the floor, or cutting back on office supplies, or not offering bags or bottled water, or start charging for gift wrapping. But for a small store, it's those little things that count."

Segress is optimistic that the higher minimum wage will result in more money in people's pockets, but with the slim margins of a small business, she's worried about surviving the transition. "Because of our size, we have seven years to put this into effect," she said. "Hopefully within seven years we'll be making enough money to absorb it." --Alex Mutter


Soho Teen: The Art of Losing by Lizzy Mason - Request It!


Jane Chu Confirmed as NEA Chairman

The U.S. Senate voted to confirm Jane Chu as the eleventh chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, and the White House is expected to make the official appointment soon. Chu replaces senior deputy chairman Joan Shigekawa, who has served as the agency's acting chairman and executive since Rocco Landesman left the NEA in December, 2012.

"I'm honored to receive the Senate's vote of confirmation, and I look forward to serving our nation as chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts," Chu said. "Together, we have the opportunity to show the value of connecting the arts to all Americans, and the importance of the arts in bringing communities together."

Since 2006, Chu has served as president and CEO of the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts in Kansas City, Mo. Prior to that, she was a fund executive at the Kauffman Fund for Kansas City from 2004 to 2006, v-p of external relations for Union Station Kansas City from 2002 to 2004, and v-p of community investment for the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation from 1997 to 2002.


Quirk Books: William Shakespeare's Much Ado about Mean Girls by Ian Doescher


RIF Survey: Reading Important, but Not a Top Summer Priority

A new survey commissioned by Reading Is Fundamental and Macy's found that only 17% of parents believe reading is a top summer priority and that children spend nearly three times the hours playing video games or watching TV than reading during summer vacation. The Harris Poll conducted the survey on behalf of RIF between April 7 and 18 among 1,014 U.S. parents of children aged 5-11 years who are enrolled in school.

While most children in this age range were reported to have read one or more books last summer, and many had read a book at least once a week, the average time spent on this task (5.9 hours per week) was shorter than the time spent playing outdoors (16.7 hours), watching TV (10.8 hours) or playing video games (6.6 hours).

Libraries are a major source of books for children's summer reading, with 75% of parents reporting they obtained books for their child by borrowing them from a library, compared to 51% from a home book collection, 48% at a bookstore and 29% as downloaded e-books/digital books. More than a quarter of respondents purchased printed books online (26%), while 18% traded with or borrowed from a friend or relative.

Print books are still the preferred format by a large margin for children's summer reading at 83%, followed by tablets (7%), e-readers (4%), magazines/comics (3%), computer (3%) or other formats (1%).

When asked who chooses the books a child will read over the summer, 89% of parents of 5-11-year-olds said the child chooses, while 55% said the parents choose, 21% reported the school chooses and 1% identified someone else. Only 2% said no one chooses the books their child will read over the summer.

While summer reading may not be the top priority, 83% of respondents still considered it extremely/very important to them that their child reads this summer, with 43% considering it extremely important.


Obituary Notes: Daniel Keyes; Dan Jacobson

Author Daniel Keyes, whose 1966 novel Flowers for Algernon "sold more than five million copies, inspired the film Charly--starring Cliff Robertson--and went on "to become a staple of English classes," died this past Sunday, the New York Times reported. He was 86. Keyes wrote four other novels, "three of which centered on characters with psychological issues," the Times noted, adding that he "also wrote three books of nonfiction, including The Minds of Billy Milligan (1981), about a criminal with 24 distinct personalities."

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Author and critic Dan Jacobson died June 12. He was 85. The Guardian noted that Jacobsen "should rank as one the leading novelists of his time. That he was never regarded as such was the result of a combination of factors. He was unusually hard to 'place' as an author: he was born and raised in apartheid-era South Africa, but the greater part of his life was spent in Britain. His fiction evolved faster than those who most admired him could always keep up with."


Notes

Image of the Day: Lunch in the City with Bill Clinton

Earlier this week, author Linda Fairstein celebrated the publication of her new thriller, Terminal City (Dutton), with lunch at the famed New York City restaurant Michael's. Former President Bill Clinton, a friend of Fairstein, stopped by to say hi and noted, "Half of what I know about New York City I learned [from] Linda's books."

 


'Top Five Bookstores in the Hamptons & North Fork'

"Some people say bookstores are going out of style, but out across the Hamptons and North Fork, folks make sure to keep them in business with a cup of coffee and a few good books," Hamptons.com noted in recommending five favorites: BookHampton ("favorite bookstore of locals and visitors for generations"), Canio's Books (whose slogan is "Where Good Books, Ideas and Community Meet"), Harper's Books ("welcomes you with a variety of books as well as an espresso or prosecco"), Books & Books ("sleek black and white look invites the book searcher in") and Burton's Bookstore ("family-run business... offers customers very personalized service").


Personnel Changes at Simon & Schuster, HarperCollins

Effective June 27, Paul Crichton is stepping down as v-p of children's publicity at Simon & Schuster. He has worked in the S&S Children's Division for nine years. In announcing the change, division president and publisher Jon Anderson said Crichton "has helped drive bestsellers that are too numerous to mention. His contacts with the press, his reputation within children's publishing, and his relationships with booksellers across the country are well-known throughout the industry." This summer he plans to travel around the world "as he mulls the next steps in his career."

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Stephanie Hoover has joined HarperCollins Children's Books as associate publicist. She comes from the Trident Media Group, where she worked on middle grade and YA titles, including R.J. Palacio's Wonder.


Ingram Publisher Services Adds Three Publishers

Ingram Publisher Services has added three publisher clients:

Actar Publishers, which publishes architecture and design books that focus on architecture, landscape architecture and urbanism. Actar D distributes books from architecture publishers and institutions including Artifce, DOM, eVolo, ORO, Harvard Graduate School of Design and Yale School of Architecture. (Ingram is handling distribution in the U.S. and Canada.)

Plough Publishing House, founded in 1920, which publishes books, the Plough Quarterly magazine and online content on Christian living, social issues, the spiritual life, parenting and education, poetry and literary fiction. (U.S.)

Re.ad Publishing, a publishing house and interactive platform for authors to purchase content, post reviews and communicate with other users that share a common interest. Re.ad publishes fiction, non-fiction, academic documents and other material. (U.S. and Canada.)



Media and Movies

Media Heat: Geoff Dyer Aboard Fresh Air

This morning on the Today Show: Joanna Philbin, author of Since Last Summer (Little, Brown, $18, 9780316212106).

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Today on Fresh Air: Geoff Dyer, author of Another Great Day at Sea: Life Aboard the USS George H.W. Bush (Pantheon, $24.95, 9780307911582).

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Tomorrow night on Charlie Rose: David Boies, co-author of Redeeming the Dream: The Case for Marriage Equality (Viking, $28.95, 9780670015962).

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Tomorrow night on the Daily Show: Jennifer Esposito, author of Jennifer's Way: My Journey with Celiac Disease--What Doctors Don't Tell You and How You Can Learn to Live Again (Da Capo, $25.99, 9780738217109).


TV: Delirium Pilot Episode Viewing Party

The pilot episode of Delirium, based on the novel by Lauren Oliver and directed by Rodrigo Garcia, will be featured on Hulu for a month beginning June 20. Oliver is planning a virtual viewing party with her readers this Friday. On her blog, she wrote: "This has all happened so fast, but I'm SO FREAKIN' excited that the unaired Delirium Pilot is going to stream on Hulu... Here's the thing guys.... I haven't seen it yet! I don't want to see it until all the rest of you do, so here's what I suggest: LET'S HAVE A DELIRIUM VIEWING PARTY!" The Mazur Kaplan Company--co-owned by Books & Books' Mitchell Kaplan--is an executive producer on the project, which stars Emma Roberts.


Books & Authors

Awards: Walter Scott Prize; Commonwealth Short Story

Robert Harris won the £25,000 (US$42,445) Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction for An Officer and a Spy, the Bookseller reported. The judges praised the novel as "a masterwork, a novel written by a story-teller at the pinnacle of his powers. In making compelling literary drama out of the Dreyfus affair, an episode familiar to many, Robert Harris has done something Walter Scott would have been proud of."

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Jennifer Makumbi of Uganda was the overall winner of the Commonwealth Short Story Prize. The judges praised her work, "Let’s Tell This Story Properly," for its risk-taking, grace and breadth. Commonwealth Writers has partnered with Granta magazine to give the overall winner the opportunity to be published by Granta online


Book Brahmin: Frédérique Molay

photo: Josyane Piffaut

Frédérique Molay graduated from France's prestigious Sciences Po, worked in politics and the French administration and was elected to the local government. Meanwhile, she spent her nights pursuing a passion for writing she had nourished since she wrote her first novel at the age of 11. In 1992, she interviewed Mary Higgins Clark for a French daily, and those few hours changed her life. When The 7th Woman, just published in English by Le French Book, won France's prestigious crime fiction award, the Prix du Quai des Orfèvres, Molay dedicated her life to writing. She also teaches literature to children in the hopes of giving them a desire to read and travel with the mind, to feel strong emotions, and perhaps to write. She lives in Burgundy, France.

On your nightstand now:

My nightstand is more like a mini library, with The Reversal by Michael Connelly and Invisible by Paul Auster, which I recently finished. I'm currently reading a book by the French author Philippe Besson called Une bonne raison de se tuer. When I finish that, Sweet Tooth by Ian McEwan awaits me, along with about 15 other books gathering dust. I'll spare you the details.

Favorite book when you were a child:

Enid Blyton's Famous Five series first, and then books by Stephen King when I was a little older.

Your top five authors:

You do realize what a cruel question that is, don't you? There are so many books I have loved and would have loved to have written. I'll limit this list to my favorite contemporary English-language authors: Paul Auster, William Boyd, David Lodge, Cormac McCarthy, Jay McInerney, not to mention Michael Connelly. That's six. Deal with it.

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

My eldest daughter recently won two short-story prizes. I would risk my life for her, no questions asked.

Book you've faked reading:

The French classic Le grand Meaulnes by Alain-Fournier.

Book you're an evangelist for:

René Char's Fureur et mystère, a collection of poems that denounce the fury of the world, opposing it to the mystery of poetry.

Book you've bought for the cover:

When I was younger, I would jump on anything from the Special Suspense collection that published Mary Higgins Clark in French. More recently, French translations of Paul Auster, and Akira Yoshimura's Shipwrecks.

Book that changed your life:

Planet of the Apes by Pierre Boulle, which has so much more than its movie version in terms of role reversal (I loved the movie, too). It has relentless suspense, coupled with a critical view of society and a satire of human pride, and it leads readers to tolerance, much in the lines of Voltaire and philosophers from the Age of Enlightenment. That book made me want to write.

Favorite line from a book:

"My happiness did indeed arise from the same secret as the happiness in dreams; it arose from the freedom to experience everything imaginable simultaneously, to exchange outward and inward easily, to move Time and Space about like scenes in a theatre." --Hemann Hesse, The Journey to the East

Which character you most relate to:

My [own] hero: Paris chief of police Nico Sirsky, who heads up the celebrated criminal-investigation division. I've always been fascinated by Marvel Comics superheroes, and he's got some of that in him. Then there is his mother, Anya, who has some of my paternal grandmother in her. That same grandmother loved American TV series--we used to watch them together--and her Ukrainian background left its mark on me. I miss her, which is certainly why I created that character. They have the same deep blue eyes and flamboyant personality.

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

Knulp by Hermann Hesse, the story of a dreamer exploring the vastness of the world; it invites the reader to find his own road.

Reason you set your books in Paris:

Who doesn't dream of the City of Light? The 7th Woman and the other books in the Paris Homicide series are like a plane ticket there. Not only do you get the setting, but the police procedure is also Made in France, and the characters necessarily are marked by the history and culture of Europe. I chose to make the police headquarters at 36 Quai des Orfèvres central to the stories because that address is as famous to the French as 221B Baker Street is to the English. I wanted to give readers an inside feel of where France's top crime-fighters are based, where they cross paths with famous predecessors (the most well-known certainly being Chief Inspector Maigret, created by Georges Simenon).


Book Review

YA Review: The Family Romanov

The Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion, and the Fall of Imperial Russia by Candace Fleming (Schwartz & Wade/Random House, $18.99 hardcover, 304p., ages 12-up, 9780375867828, July 8, 2014)

Fans of Candace Fleming (The Lincolns; The Great and Only Barnum), widely recognized for her scholarly, engaging nonfiction, will immediately notice something different about The Family Romanov. It is not filled with sidebars or artifacts that leap off the page. This fascinating, handsome book is about words--not only the author's narrative, but those of the people who lived the events.

From the first paragraph, readers enter a magical other world: Russia, February 1903, St. Petersburg's Winter Palace--a building three miles long--where a party is being held for the nobility. Once the stage is set and the guests have arrived, Fleming introduces the hosts, Tsar Nicholas II and the Empress Alexandra. In contrast to this extravagance, the author then moves to the countryside, where the peasants live in "dismal" villages and don't have enough land. Sick, poor, desperate for food, some moved to the cities to work in factories where conditions proved even worse. This section culminates with an excerpt from the autobiography of a 16-year-old boy who left his village for Moscow in 1895, as he describes his living and working conditions.

Fleming's use of primary sources proves to be the highlight of this book. Not a paragraph goes by without a quote from a letter, telegram, interview, autobiography or eyewitness account seamlessly woven into the narrative. Source notes come at the end of the book in order to maintain dramatic momentum. Similarly, captioned photographs appear in two discrete sections of glossy pages.

In order to understand what happened to the Romanov family, Fleming explains Russian politics, government and economics; the origins of World War I; the tensions between Tsar Nicholas II and his advisers; anti-Semitism; Nicholas and Alexandra's relationship; and Rasputin's strange hold on the royal family. She incorporates everything in a logical, relentless account. Her descriptions of Rasputin's assassination and Alexei's hemophilia will capture even the most reluctant readers, as will the daily lives of the five royal children, from the height of their popularity to their final months under house arrest. Readers will be swept up in the tragic events of the Russian Revolution and, ultimately, witness the murder of the entire Romanov family.

Fleming traveled to Russia to research primary sources and to visit many of the places cited. She debunks myths and admits when a mystery is yet to be solved. Young history buffs will appreciate the excellent map and family tree, as well as--amid the exemplary back matter--the author's inspiration and process. --Angela Carstensen, school librarian and blogger

Shelf Talker: Award-winning author Candace Fleming recounts the rise and fall of the last tsar, incorporating first-person accounts by Russians from all walks of life.


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