Shelf Awareness for Monday, July 14, 2014

St. Martin's Press: Humans by Brandon Stanton

Andrews McMeel Publishing: Cat Ninja, Volume 1 by Matthew Cody, illustrated by Yehudi Mercado

Berkley Books: In the Garden of Spite: A Novel of the Black Widow of La Porte by Camilla Bruce

Candlewick Press (MA): Stink and the Hairy, Scary Spider by Megan McDonald, illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds

Scholastic Press:  The Captive Kingdom (the Ascendance Series, Book 4) by Jennifer A. Nielsen

Disney-Hyperion: The Mirror Broken Wish (Mirror #1) by Julie C. Dao

Quotation of the Day

'Shelving to Save a Book's Life'

"Turning a book face out is an act of tremendous power, or so it feels when you are working at an independent bookstore at a moment that has major chains shrinking and Amazon wreaking havoc with publishing's already fragile ecosystem.... You can also show a little love to an obscure mid-list paperback you just discovered suffocating between two behemoth hardcovers--simply because it feels like the right thing to do.... You can't save every life. You can't save every book. But you can at least throw lifelines now and then. Turning a book face out is the micro version of Stephen Colbert bestowing likely bestsellerdom on a debut novel caught in the Hachette/Amazon crossfire."

--Susan Coll of Politics & Prose Bookstore, Washington, D.C., in an Atlantic magazine piece headlined "Shelving to Save a Book's Life."

Berkley Books: Our Italian Summer by Jennifer Probst


Amazon/Hachette: Feeding the Giant; A Bookseller's Reaction

In a weekend exploration of the Amazon/Hachette dispute headlined "Amazon, a Friendly Giant as Long as It's Fed," the New York Times asked: "Is the resistance to Amazon a last-ditch bid to keep the future of American literary culture out of the hands of a rapacious corporation that calls books 'demand-weighted units,' or an effort by a bunch of dead-enders and snobs to forestall a future that will be much better for most readers and writers?"

Among those trying to answer the question was mystery and suspense author Vincent Zandri, who has achieved success being published by Amazon's Thomas & Mercer imprint and "celebrates Amazon as the best thing to happen to storytellers since the invention of movable type," the Times noted.

"Everything Amazon has promised me, it has fulfilled--and more," he said. "They ask: 'Are you happy, Vince? We just want to see you writing books.' That's the major difference between corporate-driven Big Five publishers, where the writer is not the most important ingredient in the soup, and Amazon Publishing, which places its writers on a pedestal."

Addressing the question of e-book pricing, Russell Grandinetti, Amazon's senior v-p for Kindle, said, "If you charge high e-book prices, ultimately what you're doing is making a slow, painful slide to irrelevancy. You have to draw the box big. Books don't just compete against books. Books compete against Candy Crush, Twitter, Facebook, streaming movies, newspapers you can read for free. It's a new world. It's so important not to simply build a moat around the industry the way it is now.... The truth is, Hachette is making dramatically larger profits on digital sales in large part thanks to Kindle, which has led the book business to a very healthy transition to digital, perhaps uniquely among media."

Hachette CEO Michael Pietsch countered that the "controversy shouldn't be misinterpreted. It's all about Amazon trying to make more money." He noted the online retailer was also attempting to negotiate better terms with the Bonnier publishing group in Germany, which has fixed-price laws for books, and cited this as "evidence that Amazon's margins, not lower prices for consumers, are the crux here." He added that last week Hachette had offered its third proposal to Amazon, "by far the most generous to date."

Even Zandri said he "is so embedded in Amazon that he recently started wondering about it," the Times wrote, noting that in the Amazon/Hachette dispute, he hasn't taken sides. "I don't agree that the entire dismantling of the traditional publishing world in New York is the answer," Zandri observed. "No one wants to hand Amazon a monopoly. I'd be a fool to assume the good times will last forever."


Elaine Petrocelli, co-owner of Book Passage, Corte Madera, Calif., told the San Francisco Chronicle: "Amazon has gone too far this time. What we are seeing between Amazon and Hachette is a preview of what we will see if they get control of the entire market.... I think the average consumer should be alarmed. If Amazon can decide you can't read a book from Hachette, maybe next they will decide you can't read a political book they don't like. If they can do this, it says, 'We'll choose what you read.' "

Petrocelli added: "I just hope that Hachette doesn't give in. People may not realize how publishers are gatekeepers in really important and wonderful ways. They care about books. They spend fortunes on books. They have talented editors who work on these books."

AuthorBuzz for the Week of 08.10.20

BAM Opening New Store in Merrillville, Ind.

Next month, Books-A-Million will open a new store at the Southlake Mall in Merrillville, Ind. BAM district manager Andy Anderson said, "Merrillville residents have shown constant support for their Books-A-Million since the store opened in 2011. This new site is a token of our dedication to serving the book lovers of this incredible community."

Jeff Skipper, v-p, marketing, added: "We know our Merrillville customers will enjoy everything we have planned for the new location." BAM currently operates 258 stores in 33 states and the District of Columbia.

BINC: Book Auction to Benefit BINC - Click Here!

B&N Closes Carmel Valley, Calif., Store

On Saturday, Barnes & Noble closed its store at Del Mar Highlands Town Center in the Carmel Valley neighborhood of San Diego, Calif., after 21 years in business. Carmel Valley News reported that the closure "is part of the next phase of Del Mar Highlands' renovations... While all of the other tenants will move to temporary locations and remain open during construction, there was not a spot big enough to house the Barnes & Noble. The building will be torn down when construction begins in the fall."

"During the next few years this area of the shopping center will undergo renovation changes and therefore we are unable to renew the Barnes & Noble lease at this time," said Elizabeth Schreiber, v-p of Donahue Schriber. "We offered them our largest vacancy as a temporary space but they declined as it was too small for their needs. We hope to provide a high-quality bookstore at Del Mar Highlands Town Center once our construction is complete."

University of California Press:  Republican Jesus: How the Right Has Rewritten the Gospels by Tony Keddie

Browseabout Distributing Free Copies of Banned Book

Browseabout Books, Rehoboth Beach, Del., is offering free copies of Emily Danforth's The Miseducation of Cameron Post to any teenager who asks for one in response to a recent decision by the Cape Henlopen school board to remove the book from a summer reading list for incoming freshmen, reported.

"I've been here 10 years and I've not seen anything quite like this," said bookstore manager Susan McAnelly. "It's been on twitter feeds, Facebook, blogs. It's been quite a flurry."

The staff from "contacted the store shortly after hearing about the board's decision to see whether the store would distribute the book to teen readers if members of its online community purchased the books," wrote.

McAnelly agreed to distribute the book. As of July 8, 48 copies had been purchased by members of the AfterEllen community and a shipment of 40 had arrived. People from all over the U.S. have placed orders. McAnelly said that donated books are still coming in, and as long as they do, the bookstore will continue to serve as an outlet for their distribution. "There's a need for that," she observed.

G.P. Putnam's Sons: Little Threats by Emily Schultz

Bookseller's First Novel: Further Out Than You Thought

Michaela Carter's forthcoming debut novel, Further Out Than You Thought (HarperCollins), began as a memoir. Carter's agent at the time read the completed manuscript, and though he liked it, suggested that writing a novel would be the best way for Carter to distill the story.

"It worked," said Carter, who is the head buyer and co-owner of Peregrine Book Company in Prescott, Ariz. "The facts, in a way, obscured the story. I found the truth by fictionalizing it."

Further Out Than You Thought, which Carter described as a "character-driven, grayish comedy," focuses on a trio of listless, bohemian characters, two men and one women, living in Los Angeles in the early 1990s. Gwendolyn is a 25-year-old poet who strips to pay her way through graduate school, while her boyfriend Leo is a stoner and musician. The couple's neighbor and best friend is a nightclub singer called Count Valiant. The novel's action takes place over three days during the 1992 Rodney King riots; the sudden outbreak of violence forces them all to face a "reluctant adulthood."

"A lot happens in those few days," remarked Carter. "They're searching for meaning and making discoveries in the midst of the riots."

Carter lived in Los Angeles from the mid-'80s until 1994, and studied acting at the University of California at Los Angeles. "I moved there for the acting, I thought I wanted to do that," Carter explained. "But it was really writing that I wanted."

After leaving Los Angeles, Carter received an MFA in Creative Writing from Warren Wilson College in Swannanoa, N.C., for a book of poetry (her poetry has been nominated for two Pushcart Prizes, and she won the Poetry Society of America Los Angeles New Poets Contest). In 2001, she moved to Prescott, Ariz., and began teaching poetry and creative writing at Yavapai College. It took her roughly three years to write Further Out Than You Thought; she completed the bulk of the project before opening Peregrine Book Company with her partner and co-owner, Ty Fitzmorris, in 2012.

Carter has, in fact, been writing for most of her life. "Even before I could write, my mom would write down things that I said," she recounted. "And as a child I used to make up little books and illustrate them. And I really fell in love with poetry in college. I felt like I had to write it, like I had this kind of fire inside me. It didn't matter to me that you couldn't make any money writing poetry. Later on I felt that there was a larger story I needed to tell, and that became this book. "

photo: Tom Broderson

Further Out Than You Thought comes out on August 5, and Carter is hosting a launch party at Peregrine Book Company on the following Saturday. She's scheduled to read at Changing Hands Bookstore's new location in Phoenix, Ariz., and at Book Soup in Los Angeles. At the moment, she has no other plans for appearances, but is looking into taking the book to San Francisco. Mused Carter: "An edgy, urban story seems like a good fit."

Carter has already begun working on other projects, including a new novel set in France in the 1930s. She currently juggles writing with her role at Peregrine Book Company. Being head buyer, she said, has exposed her to so many great writers, many of whom she might not otherwise have encountered. And encountering a particularly strong voice in her reading, such as Anthony Doerr or Brian Doyle, occasionally has unexpected effects on her own writing.

"I'll read Brian Doyle, and all of a sudden my sentences will become half a page long," she said, laughing. "I love getting to read, and having to read, so many galleys. There's so much great writing going on right now. It could be daunting, but I find it really exciting." --Alex Mutter

Binc Foundation Expands Financial Assistance Program

The Book Industry Charitable Foundation has expanded its financial assistance program to include two new categories: eviction/homelessness prevention and funeral expenses. On its blog, Binc noted that "booksellers in need of help to stave off eviction or prevent homelessness may be considered for a financial assistance grant. In addition, a bookseller struggling with the funeral expenses for an immediate family member may also apply to the foundation for a grant. In a recent survey, booksellers provided input as to what types of assistance would be helpful and these two categories ranked high. With these two new qualifying events, Binc hopes to make a meaningful difference in the lives of an ever increasing number of bookstore employees."

Obituary Note: P.N. Furbank

British critic and scholar P.N. Furbank, whose book E.M. Forster: A Life "was widely viewed as one of the 20th century's leading achievements in literary biography," died June 27, the New York Times reported. He was 94. In addition to his Forster biography, Furbank's "most well-regarded books" were Italo Svevo: The Man and the Writer and Diderot: A Critical Biography.


Image of the Day: The Blessing of the Book

Yesterday, Chris Bohjalian (right) and his new book, Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands (Doubleday), were honored at Sts. Vartanantz Church in Ridgefield, N.J. Bishop Anoushavan Tanlielian performed a kinetson--a traditional Armenian presentation and book-blessing ceremony that involves pouring wine over the pages. Following the ceremony, Bohjalian read from his novel and answered questions from the audience.

Cool Idea of the Day: Taking It to the... Sidewalks

From the Facebook page of Montreal's Argo Bookshop on Saturday: "We're sticking it to the man! The sidewalk sale may only be running from Guy to Bleury, but we set up shop anyway. TAKE THAT, municipal event planners of Montreal! #viveleslivres."

Personnel Changes at Lone Pine Publishing

Michael O. Campbell has joined Lone Pine Publishing, Vancouver, B.C., as U.S. sales manager and will be in charge of expanding distribution and marketing in the U.S. of all Lone Pine titles, including the Company's Coming imprint. He was formerly marketing and sales manager at the University of Nevada Press and has held sales and marketing positions with HarperCollins, Timber Press and Graphic Arts Books.

Campbell replaces Helen Ibach, who is retiring at the end of July after leading Lone Pine's sales in the U.S. for 18 years. Lone Pine president Shane Kennedy said, "Helen opened our first U.S. sales office in 1996, and has been the key to our success there ever since. She will be greatly missed, and will always be part of the Lone Pine family."

Book Trailers of the Day: Travels with Casey

Travels with Casey: My Journey Through Our Dog-Crazy Country by Benoit Denizet-Lewis (Simon & Schuster) has three trailers--here, here and here--each done by the author. Warning: many cute pups and some heartbreakers.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Beth Macy on Fresh Air

Today on Fresh Air: Beth Macy, author of Factory Man: How One Furniture Maker Battled Offshoring, Stayed Local--and Helped Save an American Town (Little, Brown, $28, 9780316231435).


Today and tomorrow on Tavis Smiley: Joan Rivers, author of Diary of a Mad Diva (Berkley, $26.95, 9780425269022).


Tonight on Fox Business's Lou Dobbs Tonight: Katie Pavlich, author of Assault and Flattery: The Truth About the Left and Their War on Women (Threshold Editions, $26, 9781476749600).


Tomorrow morning on the Today Show: Daniel Silva, author of The Heist: A Novel (Harper, $27.99, 9780062320056).


Tomorrow night on the Daily Show: Hillary Rodham Clinton, author of Hard Choices (Simon & Schuster, $35, 9781476751443).

Movies: Wicked Lovely; In the Heart of the Sea

The movie adaptation of Melissa Marr's YA novel Wicked Lovely "has conjured up a second wind," reported, noting that the project, originally set up at Universal by Wild West Picture Show Productions, "is now freed up and WWPSP has brought in indie production house Pukeko Pictures to produce and oversee special effects, and Weta Workshop for design and physical effects. They will set a director shortly and then CAA will shop the project."

The script was written by Caroline Thompson (Edward Scissorhands, The Nightmare Before Christmas). WWPSP's Vince Vaughn, Valeri Vaughn and Peter Billingsley are producing with Pukeko's Martin Baynton and Adam Fratto and Richard Taylor is exec producing. Wicked Lovely (HarperCollins) was a New York Times bestseller.


Chris Hemsworth "looks tired and disheveled in the first photo Ron Howard posted from his latest film," In the Heart of the Sea, based on Nathaniel Philbrick's book In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex, the Wrap reported. The cast also includes Ben Whishaw, Benjamin Walker, Cillian Murphy, Brendan Gleeson, Tom Holland, Frank Dillane and Sam Keeley. In the Heart of the Sea will be released March 13, 2015.

Books & Authors

Awards: Frank O'Connor; ITW Thriller, Branford Boase

Irish author Colin Barrett won the €25,000 (about US$34,160) Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award for his collection Young Skins. Alison MacLeod, one of the judges, said of the book: "How dare a debut writer be this good? Young Skins has all the hallmarks of an instant classic. Barrett's prose is exquisite but never rarefied. His characters--the damaged, the tender-hearted and the reckless--are driven by utterly human experiences of longing. His stories are a thump to the heart, a mainline surge to the core. His vision is sharp, his wit is sly, and the stories in this collection come alive with that ineffable thing--soul."


The winners of the 2014 ITW Thriller Awards, presented during ThrillerFest IX, are:

Thrillermaster: Scott Turow
Silver Bullet: Brenda Novak
Hardcover Novel: The Demonologist by Andrew Pyper (Simon & Schuster)
Paperback Original: The One I Left Behind by Jennifer McMahon (Morrow)
First Novel: Red Sparrow by Jason Matthews (Scribner)
E-Book Original Novel: The World Beneath by Rebecca Cantrell (Rebecca Cantrell)
Young Adult Novel: All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill (Disney-Hyperion)
Short Story: "Footprints in the Water" by Twist Phelan (Ellery Queen)


C.J. Flood won the £1,000 (about US$1,715) Branford Boase Award, which is given annually to the author and editor of an outstanding debut novel for children, for Infinite Sky. Flood and her editor, Venetia Gosling, were also presented with handcrafted silver-inlaid boxes.

Chair of the judges Julia Eccleshare praised Infinite Sky as "beautifully written, thought-provoking and contains a depth of emotion that particularly impressed the judges. Most importantly, we all agreed that we can't wait to read what Chelsey writes next."

Book Review

Review: Blackboard: A Personal History of the Classroom

Blackboard: A Personal History of the Classroom by Lewis Buzbee (Graywolf Press, $23 hardcover, 9781555976835, August 5, 2014)

Displaying the same passion he exhibited in The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop, his love letter to bookstores and the art of bookselling, Lewis Buzbee here melds a fond memoir of his own education with snapshots of the history of American pedagogy. The result, he hopes, will stimulate readers to reflect on the subject as well as to act in the interest of rescuing an educational system that, he passionately argues, is failing in its essential mission.

Buzbee, a product of the San Jose, Calif., public-school system and five institutions of higher education, organizes his book around a chronological account of his life as a student, marked by teachers and classrooms that were, in the main, "only exceptional in that they were exceptionally ordinary." The chapters that describe his seven years at Bagby Elementary School in the 1960s are the strongest (his college and graduate-school years correspondingly the weakest), as he convincingly evokes the sights, sounds and smells of that educational ecosystem. Whether Buzbee is meticulously inventorying the contents of a desk that contained both troll dolls and a toothache-inducing assortment of candy or fondly recalling My Little Red Story Book (the volume that launched him on his passionate reading life in 1963), he's a capable guide whose observant prose is well suited to the task of stimulating our own memories.

Among the most affecting portions of the book are his tributes to several standout teachers. When Buzbee was in seventh grade, he lost his father to a heart attack. That sudden death quickly provoked the 12-year-old to do what he calls "stupid, dangerous, lawless things," including dabbling in drugs. Mrs. Tullis, his eighth-grade civics teacher, became a mentor who, though "ill paid for her efforts, freely offered her space and time." Her generosity helped redirect him; he's quick to acknowledge his debt. "In the end," he writes, "school would, in a profound but simple way, save me."

Blackboard's epilogue outlines the steep decline of the California school system based on what Buzbee (who lives in San Francisco and sends his daughter to private school) argues is the "the lack of the public's will to fund schools adequately." "Raise my taxes!" he demands at the end of what he calls (with a nod to Jonathan Swift) his " 'Immodest Proposal' to save our schools." His advocacy for doubling the salaries of elementary school teachers reveals he's no practical reformer. But one needn't subscribe to his agenda to appreciate the lasting value of the kind of education he portrays with affection and insight in this appealing book. --Harvey Freedenberg, attorney and freelance reviewer

Shelf Talker: Lewis Buzbee's fond account of his educational journey highlights some of the deficiencies in our modern school system.

AuthorBuzz: Berrett-Koehler Publishers: Black Fatigue: How Racism Erodes the Mind, Body, and Spirit by Mary-Frances Winters
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