Shelf Awareness for Thursday, June 22, 2006


Scholastic Press: Beastly Beauty by Jennifer Donnelly

St. Martin's Essentials: Build Like a Woman: The Blueprint for Creating a Business and Life You Love by Kathleen Griffith

Margaret Ferguson Books: Not a Smiley Guy by Polly Horvath, Illustrated by Boris Kulikov

Bramble: Pen Pal Special Edition by J.T. Geissinger

Sourcebooks Landmark: Long After We Are Gone by Terah Shelton Harris

Soho Crime: Broiler by Eli Cranor

Berkley Books: We Love the Nightlife by Rachel Koller Croft

News

Notes: Bay Area Bookselling Part 1; BAM to Buy Back More

The Contra Costa Times surveys the difficult bookselling scene in the Bay Area. Among the many people quoted is Carl Hammarskjold, a manager at Black Oak Books, which this month closed its store in the North Beach section of San Francisco. He lamented competition from Wal-Mart, Costco and Safeway, telling the paper that he had recently seen a book by Noam Chomsky at a Safeway. "When you start seeing that, you know some of the edge the independent bookstore had is fast fading."

He also said that Google's plan to digitize all books not copyrighted could lead to a world where "there is no such thing as an out-of-print book. If nothing's out of print and nothing's hard to find, all books will be $6."

For another view of Bay Area retailing, see the longer story about Kate Rosenberger's three San Francisco stores in the section following this.

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Books-A-Million's board of directors has approved a new program to buy back as much as $10 million of the company's common stock during the next year. Purchases can be made privately or on the open market.

In the past year, BAM stock has traded in a range of $7.51 to $17.00 and is currently near the high end of that range. At today's prices, the program could buy 590,000 shares. The company has 16.7 million shares outstanding.

The program replaces a previous buy-back program that began in March 2004 to repurchase up to 1.6 million shares. That program wound up buying 1.5 million shares. Companies that buy their own stock usually believe they are undervalued.

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On her blog, the Written Nerd, co-host Jessica Stockton reports on Tuesday night's Emerging Leaders Night Out party at the Brazen Head in Brooklyn, N.Y. A great time was had by all, as Shelf Awareness can attest.

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The Detroit News happily visits Mind Candy, a Birmingham, Mich., children's store founded in November by Jeannie Khezarjian, a 26-year-old former elementary school teacher. Khezarjian proudly stocks books that "fall through the cracks," such as international titles by Kane/Miller Book Publishers and Can You Find It? books as well as educational games, puzzles, toys, flavored lip balm and Hello Kitty products, among others. She also offers tutoring to fill "a void in the tutoring market."

Khezarjian said she was inspired by Children in Paradise, Chicago, Ill. "I love kids and I loved teaching," she added. "But I wanted more independence."

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In a story about the slow but steady progression of a downtown redevelopment project in Torrington, Conn., the Torrington Register Citizen notes that Cheryl Rossi, who owns Toy Jam, a toy store, has been frustrated by aspects of the project. In her store, she has a sign reading, "I often ask myself this, what revitalization of downtown? Torrington is polluted with oversized department stores and drug stores. Where is our bookstore?"

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Quoted on about.com's political humor section, Jay Leno on the Tonight Show this week:

"President Bush returned safely from his surprise trip to Iraq. A lot of people criticize President Bush, saying he was only in Iraq for five hours. Hey, it's still five hours longer than the French were there.

"Today in Iraq, the new prime minister instituted a ban on guns. Hey, good luck with that.

"President Bush made another shocking surprise visit today that stunned everyone. He went to a bookstore."


University of California Press: May Contain Lies: How Stories, Statistics, and Studies Exploit Our Biases--And What We Can Do about It by Alex Edmans


Bay Area Bookselling, Part 2: San Francisco Sister Stores

At a time when several Bay Area bookstores are closing--most notably Cody's Books's flagship store and the last A Clean Well Lighted Place for Books--a trio of neighborhood San Francisco "sister bookstores," as owner Kate Rosenberger calls them, are continuing to experiment and reinvent themselves--and one of the three is in the process of expanding to more than twice its size.

The three stores are the 700-sq.-ft. Phoenix Books, on 24th Street in Noe Valley, which is celebrating its 21st anniversary; Dog Eared Books on Valencia in the Mission District, which has been in business 13 years and has some 1,400 square feet of space; and Red Hill Books in Bernal Heights, which at three years old, is growing to 1,200 square feet from 500. The three stores each cater to their different neighborhoods but are "variations on a theme," Rosenberger said. "People can tell they're related from the visuals and by how many books I can get into a space." The stores are also well-known for their knowledgeable staffs. (To see the stores' Web sites, click here.)

On the phone earlier this week while varnishing new bookcases at Red Hill Books, Rosenberger said that the store is, like its sisters, "largely second hand with about 10%-20% new titles and another 10%-20% remainders," a mix that she called "an everlasting model." Most independent bookstores, she said, "are just not making it on new books alone anymore." The sister stores also sell "book-focused" cards, journals and magazines and avoid what Rosenberger called "the knitted goods."

(Rosenberger was able to solve one frequent bookseller problem when she purchased the building Red Hill is located in, which has an apartment as well as the commercial space. "I was sick of the landlord and just squeaked in under the gentrification wave," she commented. The only downside to having control over her rent: "Sadly I've got to be a landlord.")

At Red Hill, Rosenberger plans to double most sections. "We basically want to make the store bigger," she explained. "We were so tiny we couldn't have all the books you need to have in a bookstore." She is also planning to make a "big change" and do events in a way none of the stores have. The first of the new kind of events took place last week, when, to celebrate the expansion and the store's anniversary, Red Hill hosted an event every day, including "some great music and jazz," a poetry open mic night, film night and a kids' event. "I hope to do a lot more children's stuff and make the store more of a community space than just having authors read every night." In addition, she wants to offer workshops that would "push my agenda" concerning such things as using biodiesel and veggie oil to fuel cars and how to make solar conversions.

Rosenberger also plans to start a literacy lab at Dog Eared Books and offer some "basic ESL" programs for Spanish-speaking people. Noting that the store is just a block away from 826 Valencia, founded by Dave Eggers to help students learn to write better, she sees a nice symmetry, saying, "They teach people to write. We can teach people to read."

Rosenberger learned bookselling working at Half Price Books in Berkeley. At age 24, she started Phoenix Books. "Back then it was so easy to open a bookstore," she said a bit nostalgically. "All it took was a pocketful of savings and a landlord who took a chance on me." Still, although business has been challenging, Rosenberger remains, she said, "an eternal optimist."


GLOW: becker&mayer! kids: The Juneteenth Cookbook: Recipes and Activities for Kids and Families to Celebrate by Alliah L. Agostini and Taffy Elrod, illus. by Sawyer Cloud


Sidelines: Great Point Light Lights and Magnifiers

LightWedge, maker of the unusual but effective book light series featuring a transparent "wedge" that lies directly on what it is illuminating, has introduced the Great Point Light line (a reference to a lighthouse on Nantucket, where LightWedge's headquarters is). Great Point offers lighting and magnification products--but with some new technological approaches and styling that is available in such colors as bright pink, plum, cherry, silver and lapis.

The line includes a portable book light with three LEDs and two light levels that folds flat and retails for $14.99. The $9.99 flex-neck reading light clips on books and has a flexible metal neck. The $12.99 spike light also has a flexible neck and unusually is designed to be inserted along the book's spine so that the reader never needs to readjust a clip. The $9.99 pocket magnifier turns on when slid open and magnifies text three times. The related wallet magnifier--credit card-sized to fit in a wallet and retailing for $4.99 for a pack of two--magnifies items like menus in tiny print size two and four times. In addition, the company offers handheld light magnifiers, similar to what Sherlock Holmes would use on the hunt, but in sleeker forms and in six colors, retailing for $14.99.

Most unusually, since batteries are sold separately but with the products, they have ISBNs, perhaps the only batteries in the world with an identifier in Book Land.

Many handheld magnifiers and related products traditionally "looked like they had been designed and packaged by the same people who design orthopedic shoes," LightWedge founder Jamey Bennett said. "In fact, you were more likely to find magnifiers in a medical supply store near the adult diapers and walkers (where the horrible packaging fit right in) than in a bookstore, next to the stuff you might want to magnify."

Bennett also said that his company's change in approach extended to the packaging, which is transparent (made of environmentally friendly PET) and allows customers to check out--but without magnification--what's inside.


G.P. Putnam's Sons: Assassins Anonymous by Rob Hart


Media and Movies

Media Heat: Leonard Cohen on his Book of Longing

Today on KCRW's Bookworm: Leonard Cohen, whose new book is Book of Longing (Ecco, $24.95, 006112558X). As the show put it: "Leonard Cohen talks about his early years as a poet in Montreal; his novel, Beautiful Losers; his songs; and now, ten years since his last book and fifty years since his first, the vicissitudes and recoveries that led to the art, lyrics and poems in his new Book of Longing."

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Today on WAMU's Diane Rehm Show: Ian Wilmut, author of After Dolly: The Uses and Misuses of Human Cloning (Norton, $24.95, 0393060667).

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Tonight on the Colbert Report: Douglas Brinkley, author of The Great Deluge: Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans, and the Mississippi Gulf Coast (Morrow, $29.95, 0061124230).


G.P. Putnam's Sons: Summer Romance by Annabel Monaghan


This Weekend on Book TV: Cars, Dogs, Birds, Pilgrims

Book TV airs on C-Span 2 from 8 a.m. Saturday to 8 a.m. Monday and focuses on political and historical books as well as the book industry. The following are highlights for this coming weekend. For more information, go to Book TV's Web site.

Saturday, June 24

8:45 a.m. Children's Books. In an event at P.S. 11 William T. Harris School in New York City, Senator Edward Kennedy read from his new book, My Senator and Me: A Dog's Eye View of Washington, D.C. (Scholastic, $16.99, 0439650771), which chronicles a day on Capitol Hill through the eyes of his dog, Splash. Kennedy also introduces the real-live Splash to the children. (Re-airs Sunday at 1 a.m.)

6 p.m. Encore Booknotes. In a segment first aired in 1997, Jane Holtz Kay, journalist, author and architecture critic for the Nation, talked about her book Asphalt Nation: How the Automobile Took Over America and How We Can Take It Back (University of California Press, $19.95, 0520216202), which analyzes the effect automobiles have on communities, the environment and the economy. . . a situation that has not improved since.

7 p.m. History on Book TV. At an event hosted by Pilgrim Hall Museum in Plymouth, Mass., Nathaniel Philbrick talked about his Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community, and War (Viking, $29.95, 0670037605). (Re-airs Sunday at 10:30 a.m. and Monday at 4:30 a.m.)

9 p.m. After Words. Alliance for Justice president Nan Aron interviews attorney and media commentator Mark Smith, author of Disrobed: The New Battle Plan to Break the Left's Stranglehold on the Courts (Crown Forum, $25.95, 0307339254). (Re-airs Sunday at 6 p.m. and 9 p.m.)

Sunday, June 25

2 p.m. Public Lives. Taped at the 2006 Chicago Tribune Printers Row Book Fair, Richard Rhodes talks about his biography John James Audubon: The Making of an American (Vintage, $16, 037571393X).


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