Shelf Awareness for Monday, October 6, 2014


G.P. Putnam's Sons: The Editor by Steven Rowley

Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers: Five Feet Apart by Rachel Lippincott with Mikki Daughtry and Tobias Iaconis

Ballantine Books: Lost Roses by Martha Hall Kelly

Central Avenue Publishing: Pickle's Progress by Marcia Butler

Bitter Lemon Press: Evil Things by Katja Ivar

Delacorte Press: Song for a Whale by Lynne Kelly

News

Times Public Editor: An Amazon Hatchet Job?

On Saturday, Margaret Sullivan, public editor of the New York Times, fielded complaints that the newspaper, in its coverage of the Amazon-Hachette battle, is "demonizing Amazon and siding with publishers and those authors who support them," she wrote. "A pro-Amazon author charges that the paper is spewing propaganda and, on Twitter, asks for a public editor 'intervention.' One reader, Michael Harris, wrote that the Times and David Streitfeld, the technology reporter who covers Amazon, as members of legacy media, 'don't hesitate to hold Amazon/Bezos to a different standard than they hold themselves and old money/traditional publishing/big media.' "

In response she called the charge of propaganda spewing "a stretch," and said that "Streitfeld has done plenty of solid work. But it's certainly true that the literary establishment has received a great deal of sympathetic coverage [and] it's easier to find Amazon defenders and fans outside the pages of the Times." She quoted defenders of Amazon, including Mathew Ingram and Barry Eisler, and said that many of the paper's stories about the conflict don't challenge some statements critical of Amazon, such as Ursula K. Le Guin's description of Amazon's tactics as censorship, and are dismissive of the pro-Amazon crowd.

One example: "the Page 1 article in August about a full-page ad criticizing Amazon, signed by 900 authors, that was scheduled to appear in the Times two days later. Noting that ads normally don't become front-page news, some commenters also objected to Mr. Streitfeld's seeming dismissal of an opposing petition with nearly 8,000 signatures. He described it as a 'rambling love letter' to Amazon."

In response, Streitfeld said "his stories have been driven by one value: newsworthiness. When established authors band together against the largest bookseller, he says, 'it's just a great story, period.' And he says that 900 of their signatures mean much more than 'a petition that's open to anyone on the Internet.' To treat them as equal would be false equivalency, he says."

Describing the Amazon-Hachette dispute "a tale of digital disruption, not good and evil," Sullivan called for "more unemotional exploration of the economic issues; more critical questioning of the statements of big-name publishing players; and greater representation of those who think Amazon may be a boon to a book-loving culture, not its killer."


Oxford University Press: Armies of Deliverance: A New History of the Civil War by Elizabeth R. Varon


Obituary Note: David Detweiler

M. David Detweiler IV, president, CEO and chairman of the board of Stackpole Books--"a business created by his grandfather in the 1930s"--died September 27, PennLive.com reported. Detweiler also wrote several books, including Gettysburg: The Story of the Battle with Maps and the upcoming The Civil War: The Story of the War with Maps.

"He was a gentleman in every sense of the word," said Judith Schnell, publisher and acting CEO of Stackpole Books. "If there were a decision to be made, David would always come down on the side of doing the right thing, doing the good thing. Noble, that sounds old-fashioned but in a way he was old-fashioned.... He had an editorial heart. He started here in the editorial department.... He loved books. He loved writing. He was a great editor.... He was born into publishing but he really took to the business. He was just so suited to be a publisher."


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NEIBA Fall Conference: 'Republic of the Imagination'

Picturesque Providence, R.I., hosted the New England Independent Booksellers Association's 41st annual Fall Conference September 30-October 2.

The first day featured plenaries, education sessions and panels covering leveraging social media, working with schools,and frontline bookselling (to name just a few). That evening, nearly 30 authors filled the Rhode Island Convention Center's Rotunda for a cocktail reception to kick off the conference.

Wednesday started out with a children's author and illustrator breakfast featuring Alice Hoffman (Nightbird, Random House), Gregory Maguire (Egg & Spoon, Candlewick) and Andrea Davis Pinkney (The Red Pencil, Little, Brown). The trade show exhibits opened with more than 130 exhibitors (including Shelf Awareness).

Michael Herrmann of Gibson's

The day culminated with the New England Book Awards banquet. Hosted by NEIBA executive director Steve Fischer and emceed by local radio personality Joe Donahue, the ceremony recognized retiring sales reps and booksellers, and bestowed the Independent Spirit Award on Michael Herrmann of Gibson's Bookstore in Concord, N.H. Lily King's Euphoria (Atlantic Monthly Press) won the New England Book Award for fiction, while Roz Chast won for nonfiction for Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant? (Bloomsbury) and Paul Janeczko and Melissa Sweet won for children's with Firefly July (Candlewick).

The final day of the conference featured education sessions on such topics as attracting teens and children to events and benefiting from Indies First Small Business Saturday, and a point-of-sale roundtable. The final event of the busy three days was a bookseller luncheon with the electric-voiced Azar Nafisi, author of Reading Lolita in Tehran (Random House) and the forthcoming The Republic of Imagination (Penguin). Nafisi commended booksellers for their place in "the republic of imagination" and discussed how great works of literature are the "guardians of the American dream." --Christopher Priest


G.P. Putnam's Sons: Fifty Things That Aren't My Fault: Essays from the Grown-Up Years by Cathy Guisewite


Notes

Image of the Day: [words] Bookstore Supports Authors United

The newest front window display at [words] Bookstore, Maplewood, N.J., is designed to express the bookseller's support for Authors United. Store owner Jonah Zimiles told Village Green: "We are grateful that so many courageous authors have signed on to Authors United and that they issued a statement that 'no bookseller should block the sale of books or otherwise prevent or discourage customers from ordering or receiving the books they want.' We also appreciate in particular that many of the members of Authors United have appeared in Maplewood at our bookstore!"


Happy 5th Birthday, Greenlight!

Congratulations to Greenlight Bookstore, Brooklyn, N.Y., which is celebrating its fifth anniversary on Saturday, October 18. At 11 a.m., a birthday party for kids and families will feature a birthday story time, with refreshments, activities, party favors and presentations by some of the store's favorite authors. Children's book author/illustrators Selina Alko (B Is for Brooklyn, I'm Your Peanut Butter Big Brother) and Elisha Cooper (Train, Farm) will present their picture books along with some new art they've created for the occasion.

At 7:30 p.m. is the more adult party, featuring "oceans of prosecco, great music, door prizes, announcements and toasts, and perhaps a few surprises." As the store put it: "It's Greenlight's chance to express our enormous appreciation for our customers and our community, and celebrate five years of togetherness with our neighborhood and our literary world!"


Cool Idea of the Day: 'Sponsor a Bookshelf'

The Teaching for Change Bookstore at Busboys and Poets, Washington, D.C., which features "books that encourage children and adults to question, challenge and re-think the world beyond the headlines," has launched a "Sponsor a Bookshelf" initiative "to keep the bookstore in operation, curate the selection of books and coordinate author events. Become a part of our bookstore by sponsoring one of 20+ shelves from which thousands of parents, teachers, activists, and the general public browse and buy books."

The bookshelf sponsorships--which Teaching for Change called "a great way for associations and organizations to reach a diverse audience and be recognized for your generosity"--start at $2,500 annually "and include prominent placement of a sponsor plaque on your sponsored bookshelf/bookshelves."


New Bookseller: 'It's Such a Wonderful Job'

"Working in retail, you get to interact with all different types of people--some whom you may not be so fond of, some who are gracious and kind. Luckily, I've mostly encountered the latter at my place of employment. And mostly, they're children," Carson LaGreca wrote in a piece for the Intelligencer about her "wonderful new employment" at the Doylestown Bookshop, Doylestown, Pa.

"It's such a wonderful job--fostering a love of reading in kids is one of my favorite parts of the day-to-day," she wrote. "Many kids come to the checkout, arms full of Captain Underpants or Mystical Rescue Ponies (or something along those lines), crumpled $20 bill in hand and gigantic smiles on their faces. I am so delighted to see some kids still enjoy reading with all of the technology out there today."


Media and Movies

Media Heat: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie on Tavis Smiley

Today on Fresh Air: Walter Isaacson, author of The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution (Simon & Schuster, $35, 9781476708690). He will also appear on NPR's Morning Edition today and CNBC's Squawk Box and Charlie Rose tomorrow.

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Today on MSNBC's the Cycle: Mark Whitaker, author of Cosby: His Life and Times (Simon & Schuster, $29.99, 9781451697971).

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Today on Tavis Smiley: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, author of Americanah (Anchor, $15.95, 9780307455925).

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Tonight on the Tonight Show: Mario Batali, foreword writer for How to Eataly: A Guide to Buying, Cooking, and Eating Italian Food (Rizzoli, $35, 9780847843350).

Also on Tonight: Joe Perry, co-author of Rocks: My Life in and out of Aerosmith (Simon & Schuster, $27.99, 9781476714547). He will also appear tomorrow morning on CBS This Morning and Fox & Friends.

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Tonight on the Daily Show: Atul Gawande, author of Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End (Metropolitan Books, $26, 9780805095159). He will also appear today on Diane Rehm.

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Tonight on the Colbert Report: James M. McPherson, author of Embattled Rebel: Jefferson Davis as Commander in Chief (Penguin Press, $32.95, 9781594204975).

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Tomorrow morning on the Today Show:

Billy Idol, author of Dancing with Myself (Touchstone, $28, 9781451628500).
Chloe Coscarelli, author of Chloe's Vegan Italian Kitchen: 150 Pizzas, Pastas, Pestos, Risottos, & Lots of Creamy Italian Classics (Atria, $19.99, 9781476736075).
Leon Panetta, co-author of Worthy Fights: A Memoir of Leadership in War and Peace (Penguin Press, $36, 9781594205965). He will also appear on Dateline.

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Tomorrow on Diane Rehm: Michele Raffin, author of The Birds of Pandemonium (Algonquin, $24.95, 9781616201364).

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Tomorrow on the Talk: Mario Lopez, co-author of Just Between Us (Celebra, $26.95, 9780451470232). He will also appear on the Meredith Vieira Show.

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Tomorrow night on the Daily Show: Bill O'Reilly, co-author of Killing Patton: The Strange Death of World War II's Most Audacious General (Holt, $30, 9780805096682).

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Tomorrow night on the Colbert Report: Leon Wieseltier, contributor to Insurrections of the Mind: 100 Years of Politics and Culture in America (Harper Perennial, $17.99, 9780062340399).


TV: New Olive Kitteridge Trailer

"We've said it before and we'll keep saying it--the line between TV and movies is continuing to blur, and we don't really care, as long as great stories are being told," Indiewire noted in featuring a new trailer for the HBO miniseries Olive Kitteridge, which screened at the Venice Film Festival.

The project, based on Elizabeth Strout's novel and directed by Lisa Cholodenko, stars Frances McDormand, Bill Murray, Richard Jenkins and Zoe Kazan. It airs on November 2 and 3, with two parts each night.



Books & Authors

Awards: William Hill Sports Book; Guardian Children's

The shortlist has been announced for this year's Guardian Children's Fiction Award, which is judged by children's books authors. The winner will be named November 13. This year's shortlisted titles are:

Flora & Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo
The Dark Wild by Piers Torday
We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
Phoenix by S.F. Said

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A longlist of 15 titles has been unveiled for the William Hill Sports Book of the Year Award, which presents the winner with a £25,000 (about $40,000) cash prize, a free £2,500 ($4,000) William Hill bet, a hand-bound copy of their book and a day at the races. The shortlist will be announced October 24, and the winner named November 27. You can see the complete William Hill Sports Book Award longlist here.


Harvesting Great Southern Reads: SIBA's Fall Okra Picks

The Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance has announced its fall Okra Picks, a selection of fresh titles chosen by Southern indie booksellers each season as the upcoming Southern titles they are most looking forward to handselling:

Wayfaring Strangers: The Musical Voyage from Scotland and Ulster to Appalachia by Fiona Ritchie (University of North Carolina Press)
Each Shining Hour: A Novel of Watervalley by Jeff High (NAL)
The Silent Sister by Diane Chamberlain (St. Martin's)
Sister Golden Hair by Darcey Steinke (Tin House Books)
Heritage by Sean Brock (Artisan Publishers)
Jerry Lee Lewis: His Own Story by Rick Bragg (Harper)
Compulsion by Martina Boone (Simon Pulse)
Risky Undertaking: A Buryin' Barry Mystery by Mark de Castrique (Poisoned Pen Press)
Citizens Creek by Lalita Tademy (Atria Books)
The Walled City by Ryan Graudin (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers)
In the Heart of the Dark Wood by Billy Coffey (Thomas Nelson)
Wink of an Eye: A Mystery by Lynn Chandler Willis (Minotaur Books)


Book Brahmin: Alan Cumming

Photo: Kevin Garcia

An award-winning actor, singer, writer, producer and director, Alan Cumming recently starred in a one-man staging of Macbeth on Broadway and appears on the Emmy Award-winning television show The Good Wife. He won a Tony Award for his portrayal of the Emcee in the Broadway musical Cabaret, a role he is reprising in 2014. He hosts PBS Masterpiece Mystery, and has appeared in many films, including Spy Kids, Titus, X2: X-Men United, The Anniversary Party, Any Day Now and Eyes Wide Shut. He's now written a memoir, Not My Father's Son (Dey Street Books, October 7, 2014); watch the trailer here.

On your nightstand now:

White Girls by Hilton Als.

Favorite book when you were a child:

Enid Blyton's Famous Five stories.

Your top five authors:

Shakespeare, Janice Galloway, Margaret Atwood, Jean Rhys and Alasdair Gray.

Book you've faked reading:

Why would I fake reading a book? I don't see anything to be ashamed about in not having done something.

Book you're an evangelist for:

The Passion by Jeanette Winterson. There is a line in it about how a character's boney little chest could not contain the love he has in his heart. It just gets me.

Book you've bought for the cover:

I can only think that I've done that in relation to porn.

Book that changed your life:

I suppose Alice Miller's The Drama of Being a Child [also published as The Drama of the Gifted Child and Prisoners of Childhood].

Favorite line from a book:

"It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife." --Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

Which character you most relate to:

Tintin.

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

The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka. I felt like I was on drugs.


Book Review

Review: The Art of the English Murder

The Art of the English Murder: From Jack the Ripper and Sherlock Holmes to Agatha Christie and Alfred Hitchcock by Lucy Worsley (Pegasus Books, $27.95 hardcover, 9781605986340, October 15, 2014)

British television viewers have had the pleasure of watching BBC Four's entertaining history of English murder, A Very British Murder, narrated by the amiable Lucy Worsley (If Walls Could Talk). Americans can enjoy the material in print instead by reading The Art of English Murder, with Worsley as our wise, witty and sometimes delightfully wicked guide.

Her historical account covers two centuries of murder, mayhem and those writers whose detectives solved the cases. Worsley starts in 1827 with Thomas De Quincey's influential essay "On Murder Considered as One of the Fine Arts," which revealed the ways in which the grisly act can be both performance and entertainment. This led to the rise of sensational journalism, plays, murder-site tourism and the "whole body of detective fiction." De Quincey's essay delves into the infamous 1811 Ratcliffe Highway Murders. John Williams was suspected of brutally murdering seven people: a couple, their infant son and their apprentice, and three people in a tavern several days later. Quickly convicted by the public, Williams hanged himself in prison before the trial and his dead body was paraded through town before vast crowds. It was the first "great modern mass-media sensation" and resulted in a new genre of journalism: murder reporting, with all its inaccuracies and gory details.

The rise in popularity of Madame Tussauds house of wax horrors in the 1840s clearly demonstrated what the working classes wanted to do in their leisure time: "come face-to-face with murderers." If that wasn't possible, then they wanted to read about them. Worsley's survey moves on to other infamous 19th-century murder cases (William Corder's murder of Maria Marten; Jack the Ripper) and then covers how great writers such as Charles Dickens and Wilkie Collins incorporated grim mysteries into their hugely popular works. T.S. Eliot argued that Collins's epistolary novel The Moonstone, published in 1868, was the first English detective novel. In 1887, with A Study in Scarlet, Arthur Conan Doyle gave birth to the "latest of Victorian inventions--the forensic scientist": Sherlock Holmes.

Worsley notes ironically that by the 1930s the murder rate had fallen to the lowest level Britain had ever seen, and yet, after World War I, the country experienced a "great explosion of fictional death by the novelists of the so-called 'Golden Age' of detective fiction." But these murders were tidy and domesticated, "causing little more upset than a lost cat." Edgar Wallace led the charge, followed by the four "Queens"--Agatha Christie, Dorothy L. Sayers, Margery Allingham and Ngaio Marsh. Worsley speculates that they were popular because readers welcomed a more "feminine view of the world" after the Great War. She concludes with a nod to Alfred Hitchcock and his film The Lodger, which she feels looks back to the sensation novels of the 1860s.

Reading Worsley's simple, breezy prose is like softly sipping hot tea from a delicate British teacup: it takes little effort to digest the heartless criminals and their grisly crimes. --Tom Lavoie, former publisher

Shelf Talker: This vivid account of the art of British murder is deliciously rendered with style and aplomb.


Deeper Understanding

Robert Gray: Good Work at the Heartland Fall Forum

On my flight from upstate New York to Minneapolis last Tuesday for the Heartland Fall Forum, I had to connect through O'Hare just days after a headline-making fire at an FAA radar facility prompted a rolling tide of delayed or canceled flights. Once I reached my hotel room (relatively undelayed), I happened to read a post on the Economist's blog that noted the situation was already improving: "The system was sorely tested, and while it strained under pressure, it held." The piece was titled "Infrastructure resilience," which seemed an apt analogy for the current state of independent bookselling.

Booksellers hunting for great reads during the Heartland Fall Forum

At the HFF book awards presentation a couple of hours later, I thought about words, which is an appropriate thing to do when you're attending a trade show sponsored by the Midwest Independent Booksellers Association and the Great Lakes Independent Booksellers Association. Words like "connections" and "work" and "business."

In accepting her nonfiction Midwest Booksellers Choice Award for Braiding Sweetgrass (Milkweed), Robin Wall Kimmerer thanked indie booksellers who "tirelessly promote the books they love. Where would we be without them?" She also expressed her gratitude to author Kate DiCamillo, who had carried Braiding Sweetgrass with her to Washington, D.C., when she was sworn in as National Ambassador for Young People's Literature. GLIBA's Great Lakes, Great Reads children's book prize winner Andrea Beaty (Rosie Revere, Engineer Abrams) chronicled the passionate indie support she had received for her first title, Iggy Peck, Architect, adding: "This book only exists because of independent booksellers."

And Nickolas Butler, a double-barreled MIBA and GLIBA fiction winner for Shotgun Lovesongs (Thomas Dunne), admitted that while there had been a time when he "didn't know how I was supposed to approach booksellers," this had changed dramatically: "Many of you I'm proud to say are my friends now." He also said something else: "This is a business and we're in business together."

David Wheaton, author of My Boy, Ben (Tristan Publishing) with his dog Gracie (wearing a show badge) and Cynthia Compton, owner of 4 Kids Books & Toys, Zionsville, Ind.

DiCamillo, who won both the Midwest Booksellers Choice YA (for Flora & Ulysses, Candlewick) and Voice of the Heartland awards, told her personal story of moving to Minneapolis two decades ago and landing a job as a picker at the Bookmen's distribution warehouse. Becoming an award-winning author was not on the agenda then. "The only thing you deserve is the chance to do the work," she said, noting that during those years at the Bookmen, she "started to do the work. I started to write.... This award matters so much to me because it is here, with all of you, that I found my voice."

Having attended bookseller trade shows for more than two decades, I've had a front row seat for the rise, and fall, and rise again of indie bookstores. The conversations at these gatherings 10 years ago were often about survival, but many Heartland panel topics focused on getting better rather than just getting by: "Let's roll up our sleeves and analyze turn" or "ABA session: nuts and bolts of personal finance." And once again, a wide range of practical creativity was on display at the popular annual education plenary session "Ideas that work (and those that don't)." I'll write about these sessions in more detail in an upcoming column.

Nina Barrett, owner of Bookends & Beginnings, Evanston, Ill., with Bruce Miller of Miller Trade Book Marketing and artist Julia Anderson-Miller, who illustrated The Lost Clerihews of Paul Ingram (Ice Cube Press). The legendary bookseller at Prairie Lights Bookstore watches over them from a poster in the background.

Infrastructure resilience, personal connections and hard work were also evident during Thursday's exhibit hours in the Depot Pavilion, with booksellers fully engaged in both the business and pleasure of their chosen profession. While there may not be any Pollyannas left in our corner of the world, most of the conversations I had with booksellers and sales reps were decidedly upbeat. That is a good, if hard-won, place to be right now, regardless of how much work remains to be done.

In her education plenary session on the indie revival, Institute for Local Self-Reliance co-director Stacy Mitchell spoke of the next steps on this journey, citing a surprising increase in the number of independent businesses--including long-thought-dead record stores--nationally as a sign that "if you become part of a community, if you can create a sense of place, you can do anything." She also noted that among the ever-increasing number of shop local chapters in the U.S., "almost every one of those groups has a rabble-rousing bookseller" at its core.

"Books don't fly into the hands of readers of their own volition... readers believe you," Elizabeth Berg, author most recently of The Dream Lover (Random House) told her audience at Wednesday night's adult author dinner. "We all trust you. We all appreciate you. We love you, in fact.... Your bookstores are our modern day salons. Merci beaucoup."

The infrastructure is resilient, and good work was being done at the Heartland Fall Forum. --Robert Gray, contributing editor (column archives available at Fresh Eyes Now)


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