Shelf Awareness for Tuesday, June 24, 2014
Quotation of the Day
Amazon Pressing U.K. Publishers on Range of Issues
After disclosures over the weekend that the hurdles in the Amazon-Hachette dispute center on charges for such things as pre-order buttons, personalized recommendations and the cost of having a person at Amazon dedicated to Hachette, the Bookseller reported that some U.K. publishers "have raised concerns" about an array of demands Amazon is making in contract negotiations, including new arrangements involving print on demand.
Besides wanting better discounts, the Amazon U.K. contracts include a provision that if a book is out of stock, "Amazon would be entitled to supply its own copies to customers via its print-on-demand facilities... with extra terms benefits." Publishers worry that the clause would "allow Amazon to effectively take over their stock-control."
Among other Amazon demands, according to the Bookseller: adjustments to give e-book and physical book terms parity--and closer to print books' terms; better terms for academic titles, which often have short discounts; a ceiling on the digital list price of e-books "in preparation for 2015 when the retailer will have to begin imposing the standard 20% rate of VAT on digital titles"; and a return of "most favored nation" clauses that would mean the publisher couldn't sell books for a lower price than Amazon does, even on its own website.
In related news, the Wall Street Journal reported that Amazon and Time Warner Video are close to an agreement on terms and that Amazon is again allowing pre-orders of upcoming Time Warner DVD and Blu-Ray releases. In recent weeks, as in the case of Hachette, Amazon had stopped allowing preorders.
The Journal noted: "Amazon had been seeking more favorable financial terms from Warner, according to a person familiar with the matter, though the exact details were unknown. Tough negotiations between Amazon and Hollywood studios have occurred several times in the past, but Amazon never before took the step of blocking preorders, people involved in such talks said."
For Sale: Half of Broadway Books in Portland, Ore.
Roberta Dyer and Sally McPherson, co-owners of Broadway Books, Portland, Ore., for 22 years, announced in their e-mail newsletter yesterday that they "would like to sell 50% of the store to someone (or perhaps two people who would each buy 25%) who is as passionate about this neighborhood, and this neighborhood bookstore, as we are." The new owner or owners would then be co-owners with McPherson.
Dyer, who plans to retire at the end of the year, wrote: "I have been a bookseller for 44 years, and I am ready to put aside my professional life and spend more time with my family, do some traveling, garden a bit more, volunteer at a few places I love and read more books. Now is the perfect time for this transition, as my family and I are healthy, and so is the store."
Adding that she is not going away, Dyer said her plans "are to help the store through this change and work occasionally if I can and if they need me.... I can tell you from my heart that you will find no better partner than Sally. She is a totally professional, knowledgeable, and dedicated bookseller. I have known hundreds of booksellers in the past 44 years, and she is my very favorite one." For more information, contact Broadway Books at 503-284-1726 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
BISG Withdraws from BookStats Joint Venture with AAP
On June 19, the Book Industry Study Group board voted not to renew its joint agreement with the Association of American Publishers to continue as co-producers of the annual BookStats survey capturing the estimated size and scope of the publishing industry. This decision does not affect the imminent release of the 2013 survey.
"We're delighted to have had this partnership with AAP," said BISG executive director Len Vlahos. "The work we've done together over the past several years has gone a long way to helping stakeholders in and out of publishing better understand our industry. But as happens with all projects, the lifecycle for BookStats has, in our view, run its course. We look forward to working with AAP on myriad other projects in the future, and we look forward to writing the next chapter of our own research efforts."
In a statement, AAP said it "has enjoyed its three-year collaboration with BISG on the BookStats project. As the agreement's expiration approached, our organizations have had a series of conversations to discuss options and their decision does not come as a surprise.... AAP produced its own annual industry estimates prior to the BISG joint venture and we will resume that work through an existing or new product. Details on this new initiative will be made public at a later date."
Bay Area Book Festival Launching in 2015
The inaugural Bay Area Book Festival Book will be held June 6-7, 2015, with 150 authors from around the world gathering in the East Bay, the San Francisco Chronicle reported, adding that as a nonprofit organization, the festival will receive financial assistance from, among others, corporate sponsors, foundations and individual donors.
"Other cities around the world have big public, weekend, free book festivals that cover all different kinds of writing," said executive director Cherilyn Parsons. "But the Bay Area, strangely, despite being a literary mecca, doesn't have one of these. So I thought, it's time someone starts one." She also noted that the festival will be walkable: "All panels and stages will be within a few minutes' walk of each other. Unlike Litquake, we'll also have a half-square-mile outdoor street fair with 100-plus literary exhibitors, a Cooking Stage and a large Children's Arena."
As far as featured authors and books are concerned, Parsons said, "We want to do all different genres. Our festival will include the Nobel laureate writers, the National Book Award winners, the Pulitzer Prize winners, and also very popular genre writers that you might not have ever heard of if you don't follow that particular genre. That would include science fiction and fantasy and even romance, which often doesn't get covered in book festivals. We want to please all different kinds of readers."
The Bay Area Book Festival's senior literary advisers include former poet laureate Robert Hass; Peter Brantley of Hypothes.is; Tom Luddy, co-founder of the Telluride Film Festival; Ethan Nosowsky of Graywolf Press; Steve Wasserman of Yale University Press; and Paul Yamazaki of City Lights Books. The festival is also teaming up with UC Berkeley.
Angry Robot Closes Strange Chemistry & Exhibit A Imprints
Osprey Group's Angry Robot has discontinued its YA imprint Strange Chemistry and crime/mystery imprint Exhibit A, which "have--due mainly to market saturation--unfortunately been unable to carve out their own niches with as much success." The decision takes effect immediately, "and no further titles will be published from these two imprints," the company said, adding that "the core Angry Robot imprint is robust, however, and we plan to increase our output from two books a month, to three. We have no plans to cancel any titles other than those of Strange Chemistry and Exhibit A."
The Bookseller reported that a spokesperson for the company did not confirm how many planned titles from imprints would be cancelled, "or if any jobs would be affected by the closures."
Joseph Knobbs, crime fiction buyer at Waterstones, commented: "I think it is to Angry Robot's credit that they tried these lists, but also to their credit that they can admit when something hasn't met their expectations. Our sales of their titles were modest, but there was certainly some bookseller support out there. I think, perhaps, the imprints hadn't existed long enough to quite forge their own identities. I can imagine there are some disappointed authors out there and that is a shame."
Obituary Notes: Fouad Ajami; Felix Dennis
Fouad Ajami, an academic, author and broadcast commentator on Middle East affairs "who helped rally support for the United States invasion of Iraq in 2003--partly by personally advising top policy makers," died Sunday, the New York Times reported. He was 68.
Felix Dennis, magazine publisher, poet and co-owner of printers Butler, Tanner & Dennis, died June 22, the Bookseller reported. He was 67. He was also behind the Felix Dennis Prize for Best First Collection, which is awarded yearly as part of the Forward Prizes for Poetry.
Image of the Day: Kepler's Mystery-Thriller Saturday
Mystery-Thriller Saturday: An Afternoon of Chaos, Killing, Crime, and Kidnapping @Kepler's was sponsored by the the NorCal chapters of Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime and dreamed up by Keith Raffel, author of A Fine and Dangerous Season. The event began with Barry Eisler in conversation with Keith Raffel on the Rules of the Publishing Game (traditional publishing vs. self-publishing and some commentary on the Amazon/Hachette conflict). Then came a face-off between thriller writers Alan Jacobson and Sheldon Seigel and mystery writers Cara Black and Catriona McPherson on the difference between the genres and which is better, refereed by Laurie R. King, who brought a hammer. After that, Judy Greber, Terry Shames and John Billheimer commented on the first page of any unpublished manuscript that the audience brought for them to read in a panel called Down and Dirty Reviews. The day ended with the announcement of the winner of the Kepler's Crime Prize--and time to socialize. Authors and Kepler's staff were: (back row from left): Praveen Madan, John Orr, John Billheimer, Catriona McPherson, Laurie R King, Keith Raffel, Ralph Sanborn Towle. Middle row: Angela Mann, Ellen Kirschman, Gillian Roberts (aka Judy Greber), Amanda Hall, Jean Forstner. Second row: Alan Jacobson, Sheldon Siegel, Barry Eisler, Terry Shames. Front row: Nicole Hughes, Cressida Hanson, Julie Moncton.
Jon Klassen Makes History with Greenaway Medal Win
Jon Klassen's This Is Not My Hat is the first picture book to win both the Caldecott Medal and the CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal, the U.K.'s highest illustration honor. Kevin Brooks was awarded the CILIP Carnegie Medal, which goes to the writer of an "outstanding book for children," for The Bunker Diary.
Upon learning that he was a double winner, Klassen said, "Making a book, you're kind of going out on a limb in the belief that what you think of as a satisfying story is the same as what other people think of as a satisfying story."
His Candlewick Press editor, Liz Bicknell, tapped a similar analogy: "Making picture books with Jon is like sky diving," she said. "Jon says, 'Okay, guys, I think this parachute's gonna open.' His art director Ann Stott and I look at each other, laugh, and jump out of the plane. So far, we've been landing very nicely." Keep walking out on that limb and jumping out of the plane, Jon Klassen!
SIBA Introduces the 'Bibb Pick'
The Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance is introducing the "Bibb Pick" to recognize annually an indie bookstore that is "warm, welcoming, inclusive and knowledgeable, always with a smile." The award is named in honor of the late bookseller Matt Bibb, whose mother will represent him at this fall's SIBA show in Norfolk, Va.
"Who will be 2015's Bibb Pick?" asked SIBA executive director Wanda Jewell in a recent post announcing the award. She urged members to attend #SIBA14 "to ensure that your bookstore appears on the ballot," noting that only stores that register before the September 1 ballot deadline will be eligible. Authors will vote while on-site, and the winner will be named at the end of the show.
"Going forward authors attending SIBA will vote for a store attending SIBA," Jewell explained. The store with the most votes becomes the Bibb Pick for that upcoming year, with more than 100 authors promoting and supporting the winner. "This kind of support cannot be bought. It can only be attained by attending the SIBA Trade Show and best representing the qualities of Matt Bibb: warm, welcoming, inclusive, knowledgeable, and always with a smile."
In addition, Workman Publishing is sponsoring a SIBA Show drink--the Bibb--in celebration of both his memory and their new title, The 12 Bottle Bar. Jewell observed: "Matt would have loved that book and his drink! Here's to Matt!"
Personnel Changes at HarperCollins
Effective July 2, Kelly Rudolph is joining HarperCollins General Books as publicity director. She has worked in publicity at Putnam and Amy Einhorn Books and earlier worked for nine years at Simon & Schuster.
Book Trailer of the Day: Last Night at the Blue Angel
Last Night at the Blue Angel: A Novel by Rebecca Rotert (Morrow).
Media and Movies
Media Heat: Linda Fairstein on the Today Show
Tomorrow morning on the Today Show: Linda Fairstein, author of Terminal City (Dutton, $27.95, 9780525953883).
Tomorrow on the View: Tori Spelling, author of Spelling It Like It Is (Gallery, $16, 9781451628616).
Tomorrow on NPR's Diane Rehm Show: readers review The Fault In Our Stars by John Green (Speak, $12.99, 9780142424179).
Tomorrow 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).
Tomorrow on Tavis Smiley: Brian Lamb, co-author of Sundays at Eight: 25 Years of Stories from C-SPAN'S Q&A and Booknotes (PublicAffairs, $29.99, 9781610393485).
Movies: Van Cliburn
Ansel Elgort (The Fault in Our Stars, Divergent) will play the title role in Van Cliburn, based on Howard Reich's book about the legendary pianist. Andrew Stern is writing the script, Deadline.com reported, adding that Elgort, "a graduate of LaGuardia High School of the Performing Arts, started as a dancer and yes, he can play the piano."
Books & Authors
Awards: Dolman Travel Book
A shortlist has been chosen for the final round of the £2,500 (US$4,250) Dolman Prize for the best travel book published in Great Britain in 2013. The winner will be announced September 30. The shortlisted titles are:
The Last Man in Russia: And the Struggle to Save a Dying Nation by Oliver Bullough
The Broken Road: From the Iron Gates to Mount Athos by Patrick Leigh Fermor
Under Another Sky: Journeys in Roman Britain by Charlotte Higgins
American Smoke by Iain Sinclair
Consolations of the Forest: Alone in a Cabin in the Middle Taiga by Sylvian Tesson
O My America! Second Acts in a New World by Sara Wheeler
Review: The Mad and the Bad
The Mad and the Bad by Jean-Patrick Manchette, trans. by Donald Nicholson-Smith (New York Review of Books, $14.95 trade paper, 9781590177204, July 15, 2014)
Jean-Patrick Manchette's The Mad and the Bad was originally published in French (Ô Dingos, Ô Châteaux!) in 1972. Donald Nicholson-Smith's 2013 translation is the first into English, and is introduced here by American crime writer James Sallis.
Michel Hartog is an architect, made fabulously wealthy by the sudden death of his brother and sister-in-law. Along with their riches, he has inherited the responsibility of caring for their spoiled and difficult son, Peter, age "six or seven." Michel has a reputation for employing the damaged, crippled and ill, so it is in character that he would use his wealth to have a shockingly beautiful young woman released from an insane asylum to look after his nephew. Julie Ballanger is rightfully suspicious of her new patron; the eccentric Michel immediately supplies her with alcohol, which she had learned to avoid in her former home, and it mixes poorly with her tranquilizers and antidepressants.
A killer named Thompson and three semi-competent thugs have been hired to execute Julie and Peter, but an ulcer is eating Thompson from the inside out, and his is a race against time. After Julie and Peter are kidnapped from a public park by Thompson's men, the madwoman and her young charge manage to escape and race for a labyrinthine estate in the mountains that Julie saw in a picture Michel carries. She hopes to find her employer and safety there, but in fact finds neither. The reader wonders if Thompson will get to Julie and Peter before his stomach gets to him; meanwhile, the remote mountain fortress holds an unexpected surprise.
Manchette's plot is straightforward, and his characters' motives are fairly simple, if profoundly disquieting: to kill, to survive, to inflict pain or to avoid it. The bulk of the story is devoted to character sketches and explorations of those simple, disturbing motivations. The dialogue is spare, almost dreamlike, and Manchette's settings tend toward the cinematic. Special attention is paid to architectural features; bare white walls, opulent yet sterile, are the perfect backdrop for blood splatters. Shots are fired, large tables are turned, fires are set and cars are driven into crowds. The Mad and the Bad is odd and gruesome, but maintains a twisted sense of humor throughout.
Nicholson-Smith's translation is unadorned, a perfect match for Manchette's style, which is sparse and tersely written but with an artistic eye for detail. Julie and Peter flee, Thompson pursues them doubled over in agony, and the reader is well satisfied by the end of the suspense. --Julia Jenkins, librarian and blogger at pagesofjulia
Shelf Talker: Fans of classic noir will be entranced by this spare, hard-boiled novel of suspense translated from the French.