Shelf Awareness for Monday, June 23, 2014

Atlantic Monthly Press: Those Opulent Days: A Mystery by Jacquie Pham

Feiwel & Friends: The Flicker by HE Edgmon

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers: The Pumpkin Princess and the Forever Night by Steven Banbury

St. Martin's Griffin: Murdle: The School of Mystery: 50 Seriously Sinister Logic Puzzles by GT Karber

Carolrhoda Lab (R): Here Goes Nothing by Emma K Ohland

Allida: Safiyyah's War by Hiba Noor Khan

Ace Books: Servant of Earth (The Shards of Magic) by Sarah Hawley

Quotation of the Day

The Beauty of 'Real Books in Real Bookshops'

"Imagine getting to the end of your days with a lifetime of reading behind you and there being nothing to show for all those experiences save a slab of plastic, the contents of which are only licensed to you and could be cut off on a whim at any moment.... Thankfully, while there's still beauty in the world real books in real bookshops will remain part of our lives."

--Chris Neill in a Sunday Express piece headlined "Why I'm so happy to be Foyled again"

PM Press: P Is for Palestine: A Palestine Alphabet Book by Golbarg Bashi, Illustrated by Golrokh Nafisi


New York Times: 'Co-op' at Core of Hachette-Amazon Dispute

In a Common Sense column entitled "Booksellers Score Some Points in Amazon's Spat with Hachette" in the Saturday New York Times business section, James B. Stewart devoted much space--and the lead--to Third Place Books' Thursday home deliveries of The Silkworm by J.K. Rowling writing as Robert Galbraith. The piece also shed light on the points of the Amazon-Hachette dispute.

Stewart said he spoke with "someone involved on the Hachette side of negotiations" who strikingly didn't mention e-book pricing--which many had speculated was at the center of the dispute. Instead, the person said that "Amazon has been demanding payments for a range of services, including the pre-order button, personalized recommendations and a dedicated employee at Amazon for Hachette books. This is similar to so-called co-op arrangements with traditional retailers, like paying Barnes & Noble for placing a book in the front of the store."

Stewart quoted the person directly as saying Amazon "is very inventive about what we'd call standard service. They're teasing out all these layers and saying, 'If you want that service, you'll have to pay for it.' In the end, it's very hard to know what you'd be paying. Hachette has refused, and so bit by bit, they've been taking away these services, like the pre-order button, to teach Hachette a lesson."

The person was not optimistic about a successful resolution for Hachette, saying that in previous negotiations with Amazon, "We had so little leverage. It felt like I had a slingshot and they had a tank. We'd fight and fight and then we'd make concessions. They rolled over us."

As for the Third Place deliveries and promotions, managing partner Robert Sindelar told Stewart in part: "I thought this would show what we as booksellers stand for. While Amazon is blocking people, we literally put the book in their hands. But we're not asking people to boycott Amazon. We're in Seattle and Amazon is a big part of the local economy. We're sensitive to that....

"I'm tired of defining ourselves in terms of being different from Amazon. I thought this was a healthy, positive way to show how we operate and what we value."

Third Place's promotion was successful, Sindelar said. The store sold 60 copies of The Silkworm on Thursday when it normally would have been "lucky to sell five."

Farrar, Straus and Giroux: Intermezzo by Sally Rooney

Steimatzky Chain Sold to Investor Group

An investor group headed by TV pitchwoman Yafit Greenberg, aka Gimel Yafit, has bought Steimatzky, Israel's largest bookseller, from Markstone Capital Group, Haaretz reported.

The financially troubled bookseller reportedly owes suppliers about $14.5 million, and the purchase was completed only after Greenberg's group was assured it would not assume Steimatzky's debts to Deutsche Bank and to jewelry retailer Magnolia, also owned by Markstone.

Some 30 publishers agreed to a buyer request that they write off 30% of their debt and stretch out remaining payments over six months. Publishers who have not consented to the deal, including Yedioth Books and Keter Publishing, "may oppose the sale, perhaps even resorting to legal action," Haaretz said. Some suppliers have said they haven't been provided financial guarantees by the new owners.

Oklahoma College Bookstore Adding Branch

Murray State College, Tishomingo, Okla., is opening a retail book and gift store this fall in nearby Ardmore "after four years of success with a similar store in downtown Tishomingo," the Daily Ardmoreite reported.

The new store will sell books, college gifts and clothing, home décor, clothes and other items. It may include areas for study and special events.

College president Joy McDaniel told the paper that the college is devoted to the economic development and cooperation of the community. "Our biggest goal is to complement the goods and services already being provided downtown," she said, adding that half of the college's students live in Ardmore.

The bookstore currently at the University Center of Southern Oklahoma, which is in Ardmore, will be converted into office space for the faculty at the college.

Pat Strachan Has Left Little, Brown

Pat Strachan, who had been a senior editor at Little, Brown since 2002 and earlier was fiction editor at the New Yorker for four years, has left the company. She began her career at Farrar, Straus & Giroux, where she worked for 17 years and rose to v-p and associate publisher. She has won the PEN/Roger Klein Award for Editing and Poets & Writers' Editor's Award. She can be reached at

Obituary Note: Shamar Rinpoche

Shamar Rinpoche, fourteenth Shamarpa of Tibet, teacher and author, died June 11. He was 61. In addition to organizing Bodhi Path Buddhist Centers around the world, he wrote several books, including, most recently, The Path to Awakening.

World Book Night U.S. executive director Carl Lennertz remembered, "I had the pleasure of organizing Rinpoche's book tour earlier this year, and he told us all it was one of the highlights of his life. He went to Books & Books, Vroman's, Tattered Cover, Powell's and Elliott Bay. Quite a tour! I also got to hear him speak twice and was very taken by his humor, wisdom and sense of history. It was a privilege to meet him."


Smooth Signing in Seattle for Hard Choices

The fans started gathering on Tuesday evening; by the time Hillary Rodham Clinton showed up the next day to sign copies of her new book, Hard Choices (Simon & Schuster), lines of people wound through two levels of University Book Store in Seattle, Wash. Some 1,200 customers purchased wristbands to get a book and a chance to shake Clinton's hand and say a few words. No selfies, though--the Secret Service didn't allow that, and Boomer the bomb-sniffing dog and the body-wanding men were out in force.

Photo: Catherine Gilmore

One thing that was apparent, aside from the eagerness to see Hillary, was the camaraderie of the crowd after the long wait. Bookstore employees handed out bottled water, the sleep-deprived descended on the coffee shop, and good humor abounded.

General books manager Pam Cady said that every waking moment in the week had been about Clinton. The Secret Service started their reconnaissance Friday morning, and while the store has hosted Jimmy Carter many times and Bill Clinton once, this was a little more intense. All presidents are rock stars, but the energy was off the charts. And happily, there were no crazy episodes. Cady said, "The only quirky thing about the entire event is that it wasn't quirky! Everyone had such a good time--we're still hearing the love from our customers and her team. Even the press was happy with how smoothly everything went."   

Hillary was gracious and "present" with everyone. Cady used a sports analogy: "She never took a play off. But the thing that struck me the most was how all the young women in line were so touched by her. Hundreds of young women left with tears in their eyes after shaking hands with her--and in the few moments she had with them she made them feel that they could make a difference in the world and that they mattered and what they brought to the table mattered." When Cady met Clinton at BEA last month, her immediate impression was, "You will never find a person more capable of running the world." The customers in line seemed to agree. --Marilyn Dahl

A Bookseller-Native American Take on Amazon and Hachette

On his blog Sweet with Fall and Fish, Aaron John Curtis, a buyer at Books & Books, Coral Gables, Fla., has posted "Dear Publishers, Dear Booksellers: A Mohawk Indian Explains Why You Shouldn't Work with Amazon."

"I'm a member of the Akwesasne Nation," he wrote in the introduction. "Mohawk by birth, I'm here to tell you that working with the power who is out to destroy you will never, ever end well. As proof, I offer ten reasons why Amazon's takeover of online retail mirrors the slaughter of Native Americans."

The tragicomic list includes "The Government Offers Justice for Some More Than Others" (with a picture of President Obama visiting an Amazon warehouse); "[Hachette] CEO Michael Pietsch is the Reincarnation of Seminole Warrior Osceola" ("a useful tip Mr. Pietsch: if Amazon invites you to Seattle for 'negotiations,' don't go. It's a trap. Use e-mail, use phones, just don't end up buried headless like Osceola"; and "Jeff Bezos is the Reincarnation of Andrew Jackson."

Six U.K. Publishers 'Jailed' in Prisoner Reading Campaign

Six "luminaries of the publishing" spent a night in the cells last Thursday as part of a fundraising campaign night to raise money for the Howard League for Penal Reform's campaign against the recent ban on gifts of books to prisoners in England and Wales. The Guardian reported that 18 people had volunteered "for the lock-up, and such was the competition for one of the six cells that some 800 donors stepped up, raising more than £50,000 [about US$85,200] for the campaign."

Andrew Franklin of Profile Books, which "hosted the overnight stay in disused police cells conveniently located beneath their London offices, in the old West London Magistrates' Court," was joined by fellow publishers Jamie Byng of Canongate and David Young of Hachette, agent Clare Conville, Society of Authors chair Anna Sebba and Polly Powell, CEO of Pavilion Books. The Guardian noted that Byng "skipped jail time at the last minute, on the lam in the U.S.," and was replaced by Pavilion Books' David Graham.

Media and Movies

Movies: Let the Great World Spin; The Drop

In Sunday's New York Times "By the Book" feature, Colum McCann offered an eloquent description of the book-to-film adaptation process: "I'm currently adapting my novel Let the Great World Spin with J. J. Abrams. To adapt a book you have to be able to lift it in the air, let it fall, then reassemble the shattered pieces. J. J. knows how to get the mosaic right. I hope eventually it will be my favorite movie adaptation."


The International trailer has been released for Fox Searchlight's The Drop, based on Dennis Lehane's short story "Animal Rescue" and starring Tom Hardy, Noomi Rapace and the late James Gandolfini, reported.

TV: King Writes Under the Dome Season 2 Premiere

The premiere episode of Under the Dome's second season, which airs June 30 on CBS, was written by Stephen King, who told the Los Angeles Times: "I knew that George R.R. Martin had written a few episodes of Game of Thrones, and I was very jealous.... It's a no-lose situation. If it's good, I just say it was based on my work. If it's bad, I just say, 'Well, that wasn't my idea.' "

Showrunner Neal Baer added: "We thought this would be a great way to solidify the support of the fans but also put his creativity and imagination to work. Stephen is very supportive and collaborative and has always said to us from the beginning, 'It's your baby.' "

Media Heat: John Green on Colbert

This week on the Talk, Marie Osmond, author of The Key Is Love: My Mother's Wisdom, A Daughter's Gratitude (NAL, $16, 9780451240323), co-hosts.


Today on NPR's Diane Rehm Show: Tom Rachman, author of The Rise & Fall of Great Powers: A Novel (Dial Press, $27, 9780679643654).


Today on Chelsea Lately: Jenny Mollen, author of I Like You Just the Way I Am: Stories About Me and Some Other People (St. Martin's Press, $24.99, 9781250041685).


Tonight on the Colbert Report: John Green, author of The Fault in Our Stars (Speak, $12.99, 9780142424179).


Tomorrow morning on CBS This Morning: Elizabeth Gilbert, author of The Signature of All Things: A Novel (Penguin, $17, 9780143125846).

Also tomorrow on CBS This Morning: Kim Stolz, author of Unfriending My Ex: And Other Things I'll Never Do (Scribner, $24, 9781476761787).


Tomorrow on Diane Rehm: David Boies and Theodore B. Olson, authors of Redeeming the Dream: The Case for Marriage Equality (Viking, $28.95, 9780670015962). They will also appear on MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell Reports.


Tomorrow on the Wendy Williams Show: Arianna Huffington, author of Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder (Harmony, $26, 9780804140843).


Tomorrow on Tavis Smiley: Bill Medley, co-author of The Time of My Life: A Righteous Brother's Memoir (Da Capo, $26.99, 9780306823169).


Tomorrow night on the Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson: David Sedaris, author of Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls (Back Bay Books, $17, 9780316154703).


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).

Books & Authors

Awards: Jerwood Fiction Uncovered

Eight winners have been named for the Jerwood Fiction Uncovered Prize, which "celebrates the breadth and diversity in contemporary British writing." The winners, each of whom receives £5,000 (US$8,520), are: Lolito by Ben Brooks, Mr. Loverman by Bernardine Evaristo, Little Egypt by Lesley Glaister, The Dig by Cynan Jones, Whatever Happened to Billy Parks? by Gareth R. Roberts, Mrs. Hemingway by Naomi Wood, Vanishing by Gerard Woodward and All the Birds, Singing by Evie Wyld.

Book Review

Review: The Girls from Corona del Mar

The Girls from Corona del Mar by Rufi Thorpe (Knopf, $24.95 hardcover, 9780385351966, July 8, 2014)

The fiction of marriage and family would fill several libraries, but outside of YA novels, that of "best friends" still occupies a rather small shelf. Rufi Thorpe's debut novel about two lifelong girlfriends is a grown-up look at how difficult but rewarding such a close connection can be. Mia, the adult narrator of The Girls from Corona del Mar, and Lorrie Ann are inseparable adolescent buddies in a middle-class Southern California coastal town, "half-empty, somewhat decayed," before it becomes SoCal with "young women pushing Bugaboo strollers in Lululemon yoga pants, flaunting their post-partum tummy tucks." Mia's mother drinks, her father has run off to San Francisco, and she aborts a pregnancy at age 15 with Lorrie Ann's help. Comparing herself to Lorrie Ann's kindhearted beauty and seemingly solid close family, Mia decides, "I was the bad one... the only one who had routinely shoplifted from Victoria's Secret... and knew all the words to every song by Sublime."

But then life gets in the way of friendship, as it so often does. Lorrie Ann becomes pregnant, marries the simple but stable father and has a difficult childbirth that yields a son stricken with cerebral palsy. Mia wins a scholarship to Yale, finds a satisfying talent for classical languages and falls in love with a fellow scholar with whom she travels to Istanbul to co-translate cuneiform poetry about the Sumerian goddess Inanna. The girlfriends halfheartedly continue to follow each other with occasional Skype calls, but Lorrie Ann's unraveling life is a distant background noise to Mia's happiness--until Lorrie Ann shows up in Istanbul barefoot, emaciated and addicted to heroin. Mia is stunned: "Here was the goddess I had so championed, right there at my kitchen table. And she was a junkie."

Thorpe dives deep into the tangled and sometimes tenuous bonds of friendship, unafraid to address the intermittent jealousy, sarcasm and hurt that often work to weaken the glue holding friends together. The Girls from Corona del Mar also fearlessly addresses the difficult decisions many women face (regarding abortion, marriage, child-rearing, professional success and physical self-abuse) while recognizing that these are often more about fate than choice. Although Mia "still wanted there to be some connection between what we did and what we got," in the end she accepts that making choices is frequently just doing the best one can with what life delivers. It is a testament to the nuance of Thorpe's fine treatment of her characters and their friendship that we come to the same conclusion. --Bruce Jacobs, founding partner, Watermark Books & Cafe, Wichita, Kan.

Shelf Talker: In her debut novel, Rufi Thorpe tackles the intricacies of two women's lifelong friendship and the challenges of holding it together when everything is falling apart.

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