Shelf Awareness for Friday, August 8, 2014

Crown Publishing Group (NY): Here One Moment Liane Moriarty

Minotaur Books: Betrayal at Blackthorn Park: A Mystery (Evelyne Redfern #2) by Julia Kelly

Tor Books: Blood of the Old Kings by Sung-Il Kim, Translated by Anton Hur

Del Rey Books: The Book of Elsewhere by Keeanu Reeves and China Miéville

St. Martin's Press: You'll Never Believe Me: A Life of Lies, Second Tries, and Other Stuff I Should Only Tell My Therapist by St. Martin's Press

Watkins Publishing: A Feminist's Guide to ADHD: How Women Can Thrive and Find Focus in a World Built for Men by Janina Maschke

Quotation of the Day

James Patterson: 'If I Were Amazon's Jeff Bezos'

"But I, Jeff Bezos, also clearly see that we are going to have fewer great books and writers discovered in the coming years if there are fewer curators with the financial wherewithal to nurture them. And, no way around it, fewer publishing houses equals fewer curators. It's not a money thing, it's a diversity-of-perspective thing. One company--no matter how high-minded and cleverly structured it is--will offer fewer perspectives than many companies will.

"I, Jeff Bezos, was a physics student at one point and I assure you I understand principles this basic.

"So, starting today, I am going to deal with publishers fairly and openly. No more punishing them with delayed shipments of books we could have ordered. No more taking down of buy and pre-order buttons, knowing that Amazon can withstand the revenue dip far better than they can."

--James Patterson in a CNN Opinion piece headlined "If I Were Amazon's Jeff Bezos"

G.P. Putnam's Sons: Shame on You: How to Be a Woman in the Age of Mortification by Melissa Petro


Perseus Sale to Hachette and Ingram Collapses

The sale of Perseus Books Group to Hachette Book Group and Ingram Content Group has been called off. "Despite much effort from all three parties, we could not reach agreement on everything necessary to close the transaction," Perseus CEO David Steinberger said in an e-mail to employees.

Under the deal, which was originally to close on July 31 and was recently postponed until the end of August, Perseus agreed to sell the entire company to Hachette, which planned to keep Perseus's publishing operations. At the same time Hachette bought Perseus, it intended to sell Perseus's distribution operations to Ingram.

In the staff letter, Steinberger noted, "Our company just completed, on June 30th, a strong fiscal 2014, a year filled with critical and commercial success, and we have ambitious plans for Fiscal 2015 and beyond."

David Steinberger
David Steinberger

Steinberger told Shelf Awareness that Perseus had never been put on the market but was approached, and had to consider the offer to fulfill "our fiduciary responsibilities to our investors." He called the deal a matter of "when you have success, you attract potential suitors," adding that he looked forward to a bright future for Perseus.

With the collapse of the deal, Hachette won't gain Perseus's nine imprints, with sales of about $100 million a year and more than 6,000 backlist titles. Perseus's nonfiction emphasis would have bolstered Hachette's more fiction-oriented imprints.

And Ingram, the largest book wholesaler in the country, will not, in one moment, become the largest book distributor in the country, too. Some of the changes Ingram had already announced will likely be reconsidered--or frozen. These most notably include Ingram's decision to fold Legato Publishers Group into PGW without founder Mark Suchomel.

Harpervia: The Alaska Sanders Affair by Joël Dicker, Translated by Robert Bononno

General Retail Sales in July: Gains in 'Transitional Month'

Retail sales increased in July "in what is typically a slow, clearance-driven month for retailers ahead of the back-to-school season," the Wall Street Journal reported. For the month, sales at stores open at least a year increased 4.4% at the eight retailers tracked by Thomson Reuters, compared with projections of 4.2% growth and a 3.3% jump last year.

Ken Perkins of Retail Metrics "noted traffic was generally sluggish in the back half of July but cautioned against reading too much into the month's results, as July is typically a transitional month with sales driven by summer clearance ahead of the key back-to-school shopping period, which is second only to the December holiday season," the Journal noted.

Hachette-NAIBA Open House: Pietsch Thanks Indies for Support

Michael Pietsch, grateful for "every display, every tweet."

"I can't say a lot, but one thing I learned very powerfully during the course of this is that when times are hard, you learn who your friends are," Hachette Book Group CEO Michael Pietsch said Wednesday about his company's dispute with Amazon while speaking to members of the New Atlantic Independent Booksellers Association during an all-day open house at the Hachette offices. "And indie booksellers are definitely our friends. What I want to say most of all is thank you, for every iota of support from booksellers, every display, every tweet."

The day's events also included a question and answer session with Evan Schnittman, Hachette's executive v-p and chief marketing sales officer, Linda Paone, executive director of fulfillment, and Mike Heuer, executive director of Hachette's national field force, and a speed-dating lunch with several Hachette editors, including Emily Griffin, senior editor at Grand Central Publishing, Paul Whitlatch, senior editor at Hachette Books, Josh Kendall, executive editor and editorial director of Mulholland Books, and Judy Clain, v-p and editor-in-chief of Little, Brown.

After lunch, a panel discussion featured five Hachette authors: Christopher Scotton, whose debut novel, The Secret Wisdom of the Earth, will be in stores next January; Wendy Mass, author of the early readers series Space Taxi; Melissa de la Cruz, author of the Blue Bloods series and its upcoming new-adult successor, The Vampires of Manhattan, the first of the New Blue Bloods Coven series; Maureen Corrigan, book critic for NPR's Fresh Air and the author of So We Read On: How the Great Gatsby Came to Be and Why It Endures; and musician Amanda Palmer, whose book The Art of Asking will arrive in stores in November.

L.-r.: Amanda Palmer, Maureen Corrigan, Melissa de la Cruz, Wendy Mass and Christopher Scotton.

During his session after the author panel, Pietsch also discussed the big year Hachette has had in terms of both bestselling and prize-winning titles, along with the company's planned move to new offices in October. He praised David Shafer's new book, Whisky Tango Foxtrot, which had been enthusiastically reviewed in the New York Times that morning.

"The most valuable resource and the most limited resource in all of book publishing is your reading time," remarked Pietsch. "You're offered every book in the universe to sell and discuss and take inside yourself--your willingness to come here and talk to us about the books that are coming out is something we're really, incredibly grateful for." --Alex Mutter

Preston: 'Amazon Said Writers Are Our Only Leverage'

In a front-page story this morning called "Plot Thickens As 900 Writers Battle Amazon," the New York Times traveled to Maine to speak with Douglas Preston about Authors United and the open letter it's running in Sunday's Times.

Douglas Preston
Douglas Preston

Preston told the Times that Russell Grandinetti, Amazon's v-p for e-books, has called him twice recently, trying to get him to endorse Amazon's proposals that Amazon and Hachette forgo revenue but pay writers. Preston declined, but, the Times wrote, "he took the opportunity to ask Mr. Grandinetti why Amazon was squeezing the writers in the first place. His response, according to Preston: 'This was the only leverage we had.' Amazon declined to comment. 'It's like talking to a 5-year-old,' Mr. Preston said. ' "She made me hit her!" No one is making Amazon do anything.' "

Preston said that some writers support the letter but were afraid to sign it or signed and then backed out.

A Hachette author, Preston knows firsthand that writers are among the casualties of the dispute. According to the Times, about half of Preston's book sales used to come from Amazon, but since the dispute began, his paperback sales are down 61% and his e-book sales are down 62%. Before publication, White Fire, his last novel written with his writing partner, Lincoln Child, had been ordered by 25,000 Amazon customers in advance. Their most recent novel, The Lost Island, which appeared Tuesday (see more about that below), had only a few thousand preorders, dating to before Amazon cancelled that ability for Hachette books.

Noting that Amazon has called him "entitled," "an opportunist" and "rich," Preston said, "It makes me laugh. Tech company billionaires are calling a mere writer 'rich.' I think they're rattled."

Australia Celebrating National Bookshop Day

On Saturday, the Australian Booksellers Association celebrates National Bookshop Day. ABA CEO Joel Becker said, "Throughout Australia, hundreds of bookshops will be holding events and having activities, or simply saying thank you to the readers, writers, libraries and schools that support them. Though we do it every day of the year, it is a specific occasion where we can celebrate the unique place that bookshops have in the community, and celebrate their role in the local community, and the myriad of ways in which they contribute to the local economy, and to Australian culture and society."

Obituary Notes: Dorothy Salisbury Davis; Chapman Pincher; Jim Frederick

Award-winning mystery author Dorothy Salisbury Davis, "whose fascination with motivation, morality and manners--more than violence--powered the intricate plots of the suspense novels she wrote over a half-century," died last Sunday, the New York Times reported. She was 98. Davis received a lifetime achievement award from the Mystery Writers of America and helped found Sisters in Crime in 1986. She "scored her first big success in 1951 with her third novel, A Gentle Murderer," the Times noted, adding that she wrote 17 crime novels, three historical novels and many short stories.


Journalist and author Chapman Pincher, who "became famous for his pursuit of traitors and supposed traitors in the British secret service," died August 5, the Guardian reported. He was 100. His many books include works of nonfiction, fiction and a memoir, Dangerous to Know, which was published this year.

Former Time foreign correspondent and editor Jim Frederick, whose 2010 book, Black Hearts: One Platoon's Descent Into Madness in Iraq's Triangle of Death, chronicled "an atrocity committed by American soldiers in Iraq [and] was praised for its thorough reporting and acuity in parsing the psychological erosion of men in war," died July 31, the New York Times reported. He was 42.


Image of the Day: Preston and the Poisoned Pen

On Wednesday, Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child appeared together--Preston in person, Child via Skype--at the Poisoned Pen in Scottsdale, Ariz., to discuss their third Gideon Crew thriller, Lost Island (Grand Central). (Fans can watch the program on the bookstore's Livestream channel at Almost 800 books signed by both authors sold both online and in-store. Yesterday morning, Preston (r.), who has led the Authors United campaign against Amazon (see story above), popped by to finish up and take a look at outgoing shipments to fans that had been packed up by Poisoned Pen elves on the night shift. Owner Barbara Peters noted that in contrast to workers in Amazon warehouses, Poisoned Pen elves "munch on pizza on the house (actually, on Preston this time), play their own rock, take untimed bathroom breaks and set their own schedules."

Cool (One) Idea of the Day: Brew Tour

On Saturday, August 23, 1-4 p.m., Garrett Peck, author of Capital Beer: A Heady History of Brewing in Washington, D.C. and Prohibition in Washington D.C.: How Dry We Weren't (both from History Press), is leading a guided bus tour of "D.C. brewing sites, past and present," for Politics & Prose.

The tour includes stops at the Heurich House Museum, aka the "Brewmaster's Castle," for a tour of the Victorian home of brewer Christian Heurich; the Washington Brewery site at the Navy Yard; Historic Congressional Cemetery, where many of the city's early brewers now reside; and New Columbia Distillers, whose Green Hat Gin is named after Congressional bootlegger George Cassiday, "The Man in the Green Hat." At the last stop, participants can sample "the beer and gin, fill up a growler, and buy a bottle of gin."

Personnel Changes at PRH Publisher Services, Callisto Media

Dallas Middaugh has been promoted to senior director, publisher services, Penguin Random House Publisher Services, overseeing a program that provides clients with editorial, production, and marketing support in addition to sales and distribution services.


Gary Todoroff is joining Callisto Media as v-p of sales, where he will lead the company's efforts to extend distribution and sales worldwide as it increases its portfolio of nonfiction print books and e-books. He formerly held executive positions at Lonely Planet, Publishers Group West and Alibris. He will be based in Callisto's Berkeley, Calif., office and can be contacted at

Book Trailer of the Day: The Girl from the Well

Girl from the well trailerThe Girl from the Well by Rin Chupeco (Sourcebooks Fire), a debut novel told from the perspective of Okiku, a vengeful Japanese spirit who wanders the world hunting down and slaying child murderers.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Jonathan Lethem on Fresh Air

Today on Fresh Air: Jonathan Lethem, author of Dissident Gardens (Vintage Contemporaries, $15.95, 9780307744494).


Tomorrow on MSNBC's Up with Steve Kornacki: Rick Perlstein, author of The Invisible Bridge: The Fall of Nixon and the Rise of Reagan (Simon & Schuster, $37.50, 9781476782416).


Tomorrow and Sunday on a CNN special on the 45th anniversary of the Tate-LaBianca murders: Jeff Guinn, author of Manson: The Life and Times of Charles Manson (Simon & Schuster, $17, 9781451645170).


Sunday on NPR's Weekend Edition: Helen Thorpe, author of Soldier Girls: The Battles of Three Women at Home and at War (Scribner, $28, 9781451668100).


Sunday on TLC's new Sunday Brunch: Lauren Rothman, author of Style Bible: What to Wear to Work (Bibliomotion, $22.95, 9781937134709).


Sunday on OWN's Super Soul Sunday: Mark Nepo, author of The Endless Practice: Becoming Who You Were Born to Be (Atria, $26, 9781476774640).

Movies: Big Little Lies

Nicole Kidman's Blossom Films and Reese Witherspoon's Pacific Standard production companies have optioned screen rights to Big Little Lies. reported that the "Oscar-winning actresses will shape the novel by Liane Moriarty as a star vehicle for themselves."

Books & Authors

Awards: Dundee International Book

New Zealand writer and artist Rachel Fenton and English writer and performer Amy Mason are the finalists for the 2014 Dundee International Book Prize, which awards a publishing deal and £10,000 (about US$16,830) to a winner who will be named during the Dundee Literary Festival in October.

Book Brahmin: Graham Joyce

Graham Joyce
photo: Charlie James

Graham Joyce is an English writer of speculative fiction and the recipient of many prizes, including the O. Henry Award, for both his novels and short stories. He grew up in a small mining village near Coventry. Joyce quit his executive job in 1988 and moved to a Greek island to write his first novel, Dreamside. He has a Ph.D. in English Literature. He now resides in Leicester with his wife, Suzanne, and their two children. Joyce is also regular first-choice goalkeeper for the England Writers football team. The Ghost in the Electric Blue Suit (Doubleday, August 5, 2014) was published in the U.K. under the title The Year of the Ladybird.

On your nightstand now:

Crackpot Palace by Jeffrey Ford. This is a collection of short stories by one of my favourite American writers. I think it's the fourth collection of his I've read. His work is stuffed full of ideas, humour, invention and inspiration.

Favorite book when you were a child:

Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson, still the best book ever for children. I was fascinated by Long John Silver. He was a bad guy, but you couldn't help warming to him and you wanted him to get away with his crimes. Stevenson taught you how charmers work their magic. "Jim, you're smart as paint, you are." I think it worked as an antidote to magnificent charmers and has served me well in life. This is what great writing should offer: insight and wisdom.

Your top five authors:

William Faulkner, Charles Dickens, Shirley Jackson, Graham Greene, Charlotte Brontë and 50 others.

Book you've faked reading:

Iron in the Soul by Jean-Paul Sartre. A copy protruded neatly from my blazer hip pocket such that the author's name could be clearly seen. I couldn't get past 10 pages it was so dull, but it was important that other people saw that I was an "existentialist," even though I didn't really know what an existentialist was.

Book you've bought for the cover:

Journey to the East by Herman Hesse, protruded neatly from the other hip pocket.

Book you're an evangelist for:

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck. Recently, here in the U.K., a cabinet minister has banned Of Mice and Men from the school curriculum, where it has been massively popular with teachers. The minister says he wants "more British literature" in schools. Idiot. Literature in the same language knows no borders. Steinbeck is a giant who wrote an extraordinary book that seems simple at first glance but which has no bottom.

Book that changed your life:

Would be nice and self-serving to say Chekhov or Proust or someone posh, but it wouldn't be true. The work that changed my life and made me want to write was written by a boy on the school bus. I was 15. This lad in the grade above me was waving a sheaf of poems around, and he seemed happy for anyone to take a look. I grabbed them, ready to mock. They were damned good. I thought, "If he's at the same school as me, and on the same bus as me, then maybe I could write, too." So this one is for Gordon, the unpublished boy on the bus.

Favorite line from a book:

That would have to be from Anthony Burgess in his novel Earthly Powers: "It was the afternoon of my eighty-first birthday, and I was in bed with my catamite when Ali announced that the archbishop had come to see me."

Which character you most relate to:

Wilbur Larch, the doctor from The Cider House Rules by John Irving. He was the founder of an orphanage, a deeply compassionate but flawed man.

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

Travels with My Aunt by Graham Greene. Greene had this notion that he could divide his books between "serious" and "entertainments." This book confirms that his "entertainments" are just as good if not better than his serious stuff. It's a riot.

Book you wish you had written:

The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco. A perfect integration of so-called "genre" and "literary" values. It's a masterpiece.

Book Review

Review: Black Dance

Black Dance by Nancy Huston (Black Cat/Grove, $15 trade paper, 9780802122711, September 1, 2014)

Black Dance is one of those novels that leads with a family tree. Surprisingly, this one features only 14 names, though it covers four generations of Irish Catholic Canadian immigrants. It is the story of Milo Noirlac, a screenwriter dying of HIV/AIDS, whose partner (both professional and personal), film director Paul Schwartz, is at his side attempting to pull Milo's life story into one last screenplay. Ever the practical director, Schwartz tries to rein in Milo's wandering narrative, reminding him that "we can't afford storywise to follow every little branch down to the smallest leaf and twig... bore them stiff with stuff like Last Year at Marienbad." The truncated family tree is Schwartz's work, adhering to "film's guiding principle--always follow one of the three main protagonists."

Milo's memory is dominated by his literary grandfather who fled Ireland for Canada after the rebellion of 1916, leaving his colleagues "Jimmy" Joyce and "Willie" Yeats to become the pillars of Irish literature while he had to accept working on his wife's family's farm in Quebec and simply collecting books. Milo's father was a drunken petty thief, his mother a Waswanipi Cree prostitute. Shuttled among abusive foster parents, Milo finally broke free into the world of the arts. Careering from Montreal to Toronto, New York City and the wild bisexual hedonism of Brazil, he becomes obsessed with Rio's fight-dance capoeira scene.

Fluent in English and French, Nancy Huston was born in Canada, grew up in New Hampshire, studied in New York and now lives in France. She has written most of her novels (including Fault Lines, winner of the Prix Femina) in French and then done the English translations herself. This cosmopolitan background enriches Black Dance with a plethora of languages and cultures that weave through the four generations of Milo's family. With its cinematic structure--jump-cut scenes and earthy dialogue--the novel covers both 100 years of history and one family's personal legacy. But Paul's easygoing narration avoids the maudlin as he mines the memories of his dying lover and accepts that they are just "two old fogies whispering a screenplay at each other through an endless November night... if you take as your starting point that everything is unfathomable, and stick to it, you'll never be disappointed." Huston's touch is light but sure, and Black Dance rarely disappoints. --Bruce Jacobs, founding partner, Watermark Books & Cafe, Wichita, Kansas.

Shelf Talker: Nancy Huston's cinematic novel Black Dance covers the 100-year cross-cultural family history of dying Canadian screenwriter Milo Noirlac.

Deeper Understanding

Robert Gray: Booksellers' Private Beach Reads, Part 3

Sometimes a bookseller's thoughts turn to beach reads even in winter. Back in February, Renee Barker of Just the Bookstore, Glen Ellyn, Ill., wrote to me in response to a column about handselling and offered "a term I have begun using with bookstore customers who seem almost embarrassed to ask for something light to read. Most book clubs in our area read a lot of literary fiction that tends to explore the darker side of human nature, and some of our staff also prefer those books and tend to recommend them. So I am now using the phrase 'palate cleanser' for books that are purely for the pleasure of reading, in between the heavier literary courses."

More recently, Barker shared her "personal beach bag of books for this summer: One Plus One by JoJo Moyes, My Family & Other Hazards by June Melby (we're heading for Wisconsin, and mini-golf is a must on our vacations.), Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty, The Mockingbird Next Door: My Life with Harper Lee by Marja Mills, Positive by Paige Rawl with Ali Benjamin. And my guilty-pleasure read: Having finally read Still Life by Louise Penny not long ago, I am really looking forward to the new Three Pines mystery (The Long Way Home) featuring Inspector Gamache. I have no trouble coming up with palate cleansers!"

Some booksellers told me they had focused on a particular genre this summer. For Sarah Bagby of Watermark Books & Café, Wichita, Kan., it has been nonfiction, including The Tastemaker: Carl Van Vechten and the Birth of Modern America by Edward White and Jonathan Swift by Leo Damrosch. "These entertaining, literary biographies thoroughly transport you to the world and minds of their subjects, and inform your own world along the way," she said.

For Jill Hendrix of Fiction Addiction, Greenville, S.C., kids' books have been at the forefront: "Recently, I've been reading galleys of forthcoming children's books. They are so much shorter than adult novels that they make for easy beach reads. One that would make a great crossover read is Murder Is Bad Manners by Robin Stevens. It is the delightful start of a mystery series set at a 1930s English boarding school. Teen sleuths Hazel and Daisy soon have the perfect case for their secret detective agency (the Wells and Wong Detective Society)--the murder of their science teacher, Miss Bell. It releases April 21, 2015, just in time for 2015's beach reading season."

The book Karen Bakshoian of Letterpress Books, Portland, Maine is "now recommending for a beach read is The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen--this book is such fun! A dystopian fairy tale for grownups (and not-so-grownups too.) I enjoyed every page. And second, read Cinnamon & Gunpowder by Eli Brown: pirate shenanigans, gourmet cooking with limited resources--a yummy delight! And don't miss The Martian by Andy Weir. It is not out in paperback yet, and our customers love taking paperbacks to camp, but this book is a delight."

Porch reads: Under the e-mail subject line "Vacation? What vacation?" Pamela Grath of Dog Ears Books, Northport, Mich., noted: "I don't know if we'll get away anywhere in September or not--never manage it before Labor Day!--but I'm setting aside some porch time to read James Lee Burke's new book, Wayfaring Stranger. Big fan of his!"

Jamie Fiocco of Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill, N.C., said, "I've always got grand ideas of all the books I'll be able to read when I'm away from work, but as I've gotten (ahem) older yet wiser I've become better at being realistic about how much I'll really get read. What's been working for me is to bring one classic I've never read or a favorite that bears re-reading, along with a couple of other books I've been meaning to read but couldn't rationalize doing so because of bookselling-related commitments and deadlines.

"I've not actually made it to the beach this year, but I do have some time in the N.C. mountains coming up. Here's what I plan to bring: I'm going to re-read Jonathan Lethem's Motherless Brooklyn. I love to read cookbooks; weekend morning coffee is best spent on the porch with my cat and a stack of sticky notes reading a cookbook and marking future meals. I've not had many free weekend mornings this year, so I have set aside some cookbooks to take with me on vacation, among them Joe Yonan's Eat Your Vegetables and Einat Admony's Balaboosta. Margot Livesey read with us several years ago for her novel The Flight of Gemma Hardy and I've never been able to get her writing out of my head, so I've procured myself a copy of Eva Moves the Furniture and look forward to reading it. And Graham Joyce's Some Kind of Fairy Tale--I read the galley for his upcoming novel The Ghost in the Electric Blue Suit and instantly realized I'd been missing out on something special."

As Labor Day weekend begins to loom ominously, beach read pressure is rising with the August heat. So we'll close this series with some words of vacation wisdom from Allison Hill of Vroman's Bookstore (Pasadena, Calif.) and Book Soup (West Hollywood), who recently wrote about her own summer reading plans in the Huffington Post: "As far as I'm concerned, there are only three necessary decisions to make when it comes to vacation: Beach or pool? SPF 15 or 30? And which books should I bring? More important even than my destination, are the books I'm taking with me." --Robert Gray, contributing editor (column archives available at Fresh Eyes Now)

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