Also published on this date: Wednesday, December 3, 2014: Maximum Shelf: The Secret Wisdom of the Earth

Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Hampton Roads Publishing Company: Becoming Baba Yaga: Trickster, Feminist, and Witch of the Woods by Kris Spisak, Foreword by Gennarose Nethercott

Dial Press: Like Mother, Like Mother by Susan Rieger

Severn House: A Messy Murder (Main) (The Decluttering Mysteries #4) by Simon Brett

Forge: My Three Dogs by Bruce W Cameron

Running Press Adult: Scam Goddess: Lessons from a Life of Cons, Grifts, and Schemes by Laci Mosley

Chronicle Books: Taste in Music: Eating on Tour with Indie Musicians by Luke Pyenson and Alex Beeker


Amazon: Bezos Speaks; Frowning at Amazon Smile

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos's conversation yesterday in New York City with Henry Blodget at the Business Insider Ignition conference was widely quoted by media--although, in a testament to the company's influence in so many areas of business, the quotations rarely overlapped. Here are high points of the talk:

On the Hachette dispute (via the Telegraph). "Rarely does it break through into a kind of a public fight. But it's an essential job of any retailer to negotiate hard on behalf of customers. Making reading more affordable is going to make authors more money."

Book pricing by publishers (via Reuters): "It's difficult for incumbents who have a sweet thing to embrace change."

More on pricing and books' competition (via "Book prices in my view are too expensive… $30 for a book is too much.... If you realize that what [books] are really competing with is Candy Crush, then you'd start to say, 'Gosh, maybe we should work on reducing friction on long-form reading.' If you want to do more of something, make the friction less. If you want less of something, make the friction more. If there's a particular snack food that you like a lot and it's making you fat, put it on the top shelf where it's harder to get to, and you'll eat less of it."

The benefits of e-books (via gigaom): "The book industry is in better shape than it ever has been, and it's due to e-books."

On buying the Washington Post (via the New York Times): "I didn't know anything about the newspaper business, but I did know something about the Internet. That, combined with the financial runway that I can provide, is the reason why I bought the Post.... The Post has the good fortune of being the newspaper of the capital city of the United States of America. That's a great starting point to being a national and even global publication."

On some of Amazon's failed business ventures and the company's lack of profits (via Wired): "I've made billions of dollars of failures at Literally. None of those things are fun, but also they don't matter. What matters is companies that don't continue to experiment or embrace failure eventually get in the position where the only thing they can do is make a Hail Mary bet at the end of their corporate existence. I don't believe in bet-the-company bets....

"If you look at our stock price over a year, five years, ten years, it all looks pretty great. It's a volatile stock. It always has been. It probably will be. We're a large company, but in many ways because of all our emerging businesses, we're still a startup, and there's a lot of volatility with startups.... It's like we built this lemonade stand 20 years ago. It's become very profitable, but we decided to use our skills for a hamburger stand and a hotdog stand and so on."

On a high-tech, out-of-this-world future (via the Telegraph): "It's sad but possible that the U.S. could be late [for drone deliveries], that other countries will have it first....

"My vision is that I want to see millions of people living and working in space."

On an Amazon succession plan, which he said is in place (via Reuters): "It's a secret."

On the value of Amazon employee perks, like having office windows that open and being able to bring dogs to work despite lacking such usual tech-company benefits as free food, massages, etc. (via the Huffington Post): "We could save a lot of money by moving to the suburbs of Seattle. We have chosen instead to build an urban campus, and it is... a spectacular benefit for the employees. I think it's one they enjoy much more than free massages."


On his website, nonprofit consultant Alan Cantor debated the value of organizations participating in Amazon Smile, the program under which nonprofits receive 0.5% of Amazon purchases made by their supporters. Noting the "immoral" company's poor labor policy, tax avoidance tradition and the Hachette dispute, Cantor concluded by highlighting the low return--in a variety of ways--of participating in Amazon Smile: "Let's say that over the holidays [a nonprofit's supporters] purchase $25,000 worth of goods from Amazon--purchases that otherwise would have been made at local stores that your neighbors own and where taxpaying members of your community work. That $25,000 would have been a lot of income for those local stores, perhaps the difference between survival and closure, or keeping staff members or firing them. But you've thrown your lot in with Amazon. And in return you will get a kick-back of... $125. Yes, that's all that half of 1% of $25,000 amounts to."


In an article called "Amazon's frightening CIA partnership: Capitalism, corporations and our massive new surveillance state," Salon explored the connection between Amazon and the CIA--Amazon has a $600 million contract to build a cloud computing service for the spy agency--and the wider "national security state."

Salon noted Amazon's decision to toss Wikileaks from its servers in 2010, and said of the CIA deal: "On Amazon's servers will be information on millions of people that the intelligence community has no right to possess.... Instead of helping expose U.S. war crimes, then, Amazon's cloud service could be used to facilitate them, for which it will be paid handsomely--which was, in all likelihood, the whole point of the company proving itself a good corporate citizen by disassociating itself from an organization that sought to expose its future clients in the intelligence community."

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Hachette: Evan Schnittman Leaving, Chris Murphy Promoted


Effective December 12, Evan Schnittman, executive v-p, chief marketing and sales officer at Hachette Book Group in 2012, is leaving the company to pursue other opportunities, Hachette said. With his departure, the position of chief marketing and sales officer is being eliminated.

At the same time, Chris Murphy is being promoted to senior v-p, group sales director, and will oversee all of Hachette's sales groups, including physical, digital, CBA, James Patterson publishing, international, clients, children's books, special markets and strategy and operations. He has been with the company for 15 years, most recently as senior v-p, retail sales.

Hachette Book Group CEO Michael Pietsch said that Murphy has been "instrumental in the steady growth in HBG's sales, and in the management and organization of our sales team. He has provided invaluable experience and leadership across broad swaths of our business, and worked closely with our major authors and publishing divisions. Chris will join HBG's Executive Management Board, and will report to me."

Pietsch called Schnittman "a powerful agent of change [who] has improved HBG's sales processes and organization greatly. Evan brought the sales group into closer collaboration with our publishing groups than ever before. He combined digital and physical book sales, created the Sales Strategy and Operations group, and modernized our approach to sales conferences, coop, and catalogs. He worked with HBG's publishers to remake our approach to advertising, and partnered with Hachette UK on a combined and expanded international sales team. In a time of rapid technological change, he has kept Hachette's sales group in the vanguard. I want to thank Evan for his many significant contributions to Hachette. We will be sorry to see him go."

GLOW: Sourcebooks Landmark: A Forty Year Kiss by Nickolas Butler

Take Your Child to a Bookstore Day: Fifth Anniversary

Five years ago, Jenny Milchman, author of Cover of Snow and Ruin Falls, single-handedly started Take Your Child to a Bookstore Day. Here she writes about how far it's come and what's in store this year.

On Saturday, December 6, approximately 750 bookstores in all 50 states will open their doors and... do exactly what they do on every other Saturday of the year. Which is welcome kids and families into their children's sections and expose them to the wonder of books. But there is one thing that is different about this December 6. It's the fifth anniversary of the only holiday dedicated to celebrating children and bookstores, Take Your Child to a Bookstore Day.

In 2010, I had two young children whom I was bringing to story hour at our local bookstore almost every week. What better activity to do with kids? It was enriching, fun, even relaxing. I didn't have to feel guilty when I drank that 700-calorie butterscotch latte from the coffee bar. I was running back and forth between adult fiction and the flower-flocked children's section--working off the calories for sure.

My kids probably didn't realize it was as much of a treat for me as for them. Which started me thinking. Were other parents in on this secret? How many children knew the pleasure of spending time in a bookstore?

I frequent the mystery listserv, DorothyL, and a more avid group of readers you couldn't hope to find. When I floated the idea for Take Your Child to a Bookstore Day, bloggers on the listserv began to spread the word. My husband designed a poster, website and bookmarks, and we designated the first Saturday in December as Take Your Child to a Bookstore Day. This would coincide with holiday gift giving, suggesting that books make great presents. Just two weeks later, 80 bookstores were celebrating.

That summer my husband and I loaded the kids into the car and drove cross-country, visiting more than 50 bookstores. In 2011, more than 350 bookstores celebrated the second annual Take Your Child to a Bookstore Day. By last year, the number of participating stores had risen to more than 600 independent bookstores and one major chain, Half Price Books, we knew that word was getting out.

Kids + bookstores = magic.

Bookstores celebrate Take Your Child to a Bookstore Day in different ways. Some plan special activities, such as having children's book authors give readings or lead a story hour. Booksellers have invited puppet makers, magicians, singers, and even one baker into their stores. And they can be involved in lower key ways as well, including hanging the Take Your Child to a Bookstore Day poster in their window or keeping bookmarks by the register.

Maxine Krenzel of Book Culture in New York City explains her connection to the Day like this: "TYCBD provides a chance for children and their parents to take time out of their routines to explore the world of books and the imagination. The more we make bookstores part of a child's life, the more bookstores will continue to be an essential part of our communities in the future." 

Short Stories, a new independent bookstore in Madison, N.J., has a special Day planned. Author Paul Maguire will sign copies of his latest Professor Atlas book after leading a story hour, and a face-painting activity will follow.

Debbie Beamer of Mechanicsburg Mystery Bookstore in Mechanicsburg, Pa., will welcome children to her bookstore on December 6--as she aims to do every single day. "Reading is essential," she said. "If you can read, you can do anything. Bookstores provide an open door for children to have fun learning."

Book bloggers were a big part of getting Take Your Child to a Bookstore Day off the ground, which makes sense. Booksellers are responsible for handselling and word-of-mouth in the physical world, and book bloggers do something similar online.

Helen Barlow of the blog My Novel Opinion says, "I wanted to help spread awareness, and my readers and followers love books just as much as I do! And everybody knows someone with children. In the run up to TYBCD, I will be Tweeting, pinning, blogging and Facebooking in the hopes of getting as many children as possible to bookstores on December 6."

Allison Hiltz of The Book Wheel blog adds, "As a book blogger, it's my job to champion the importance of books. This event is a fantastic way to foster deeper relationships between parents and children, as well as help enhance the love of books in children."

When you take a child to a bookstore, you stimulate his mind and all five senses. (If taste seems a stretch, just let her have the whipped cream on your latte). There's a tactile dimension to the experience that is threatened in our increasingly virtual world. Bookstores put the "local" in locavore, helping children become a crucial part of their communities, supporting them and helping them grow.

Best of all, these things happen in a guise that to the child is sheer magic. On the shelves of a bookstore are gateways into whole new worlds. Children go into bookstores--but they come back out having journeyed somewhere else entirely.

On Saturday, December 6, take your own child, a child you know, or the child inside yourself to a bookstore. Together let's build literacy, support community, and make magic happen.

Obituary Note: Michael Moore

Michael Moore, a magazine and book editor who helped found both Steerforth Press and the Mountain Gazette, died at his home in Washington, Vt., on November 20, from complications of small cell lung cancer that had spread to his brain. He was 73.

In 1993, Moore was one of four founding partners and editors of Steerforth Press in South Royalton, Vt., where he continued as editor-in-chief for 10 years. Among the many books he saw into print were the diaries of the novelist Dawn Powell and My Two Wars, a memoir by Moritz Thomsen.

In the late 1960s in Colorado, Moore transformed the Gazette from a small skiing magazine to one that featured a mix of writing about the mountains, the environment and alternative lifestyles and published work by such western writers like Edward Abbey, John Nichols, Dick Dorworth, among others. He also worked as an editor at Outside, Esquire and Rolling Stone.

Steerforth Press remembered: "Best known as an editor who was loyal to his writers and devoted long hours to working on their manuscripts, Moore was also an able writer. Modest about his work, he rarely showed it to anyone else. In recent years he told friends, not quite entirely truthfully, that he had quit reading and now only watched films, which he then described in brief notes that were careful, crisp, sharp and often funny. Over many years he also worked on a personal memoir of his life called The Puffer's Notes, about which he said so little that not even close friends knew if the title referred to his long refusal to give up smoking."


Image of the Day: DVF at the Newest Books & Books

Last night Diane von Furstenberg signed copies of her new memoir, The Woman I Wanted to Be (S&S), at Books & Books' brand-new space in the Bal Harbour Shops in Bal Harbour, Fla. The event featured the designer in conversation with journalist Ana Remos. Books & Books' newly relocated store opened just in time for Small Business Saturday and her signing was the inaugural event. (Standing with Books & Books staff, von Furstenberg is waving and Books & Books owner Mitchell Kaplan is on the far right.)

Covina's Thematic Attic is 'Wonderland for Children'

"It looks like a toy store, but if your hand touches something, it's a book," Lorenzo Vargas, co-owner (with Valerie Rajcic) of Thematic Attic, Covina, Calif., told the Pasadena Star-News, which reported that they "have created a wonderland for children's educational materials with books, puzzles, puppets and more."

"Everything in the world was once somebody's imagination," Vargas said. "That's how powerful the imagination is."

Personnel Changes at Simon & Schuster

Christopher Cosgrove has joined Simon & Schuster as a national account manager, selling adult and audio. He was previously an assistant manager, online sales & marketing, at Penguin Random House.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Pat Hackett Talks About The Andy Warhol Diaries

Tomorrow morning on Fox & Friends: Brooke Shields, author of There Was a Little Girl: The Real Story of My Mother and Me (Dutton, $26.95, 9780525954842). She will also appear on the Wendy Williams Show.


Tomorrow on the View: Bella Thorne, author of Autumn Falls (Delacorte, $18.99, 9780385744331).


Tomorrow on Bravo's Watch What Happens Live: Deepak Chopra, author of The Future of God: A Practical Approach to Spirituality for Our Times (Harmony, $25, 9780307884978).

Also on Watch What Happens Live: Pat Hackett, editor of The Andy Warhol Diaries (Twelve, $34, 9781455561452), a 25th anniversary edition.


Tomorrow night on a repeat of Last Call with Carson Daly: Gillian Anderson, co-author of A Vision of Fire: A Novel (Simon & Schuster, $25, 9781476776521).

TV: Going Clear

Oscar winner Alex Gibney (Taxi to the Dark Side) "is putting the finishing touches on a film that tackles the Church of Scientology and its Tinseltown tentacles," according to the Hollywood Reporter, which wrote that HBO, "no stranger to controversy," is eyeing a 2015 airdate for the documentary film Going Clear, based on Lawrence Wright's controversial book Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood and the Prison of Belief.  

"We have probably 160 lawyers [looking at the film]," said HBO Documentary Films president Sheila Nevins, who is bracing for protests from the Church of Scientology. "And this time, we'll be ready."

Books & Authors

Awards: Specsavers National Book

Winners have been announced for the Specsavers National Book Awards, which "showcases the best of British writing & publishing, while celebrating books with wide popular appeal, critical acclaim and commercial success." Voting is now open to choose the overall Specsavers Book of the Year from the category winners, which include:

Outstanding achievement: Mary Berry CBE
Crime/thriller: I Am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes
Autobiography/biography: Please, Mister Postman by Alan Johnson
Food & drink: Plenty More by Yotam Ottolenghi
Children's book: Awful Auntie by David Walliams
Audiobook: Awful Auntie by David Walliams
International author of the year: We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler
Books Are My Bag new writer: The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton
Specsavers popular fiction: The Shock of the Fall by Nathan Filer
Nonfiction: Love, Nina by Nina Stibbe
U.K. author of the year: Us by David Nicholls

Book Brahmin: Maria Russo

photo: Earl Wilson/The New York Times

Maria Russo rejoined the New York Times Book Review in August as its children's books editor. A native New Yorker, Russo received her Ph.D. in 19th-century American Literature from Columbia University. In addition to editing and publishing children's reviews once a month in the Book Review, Russo writes the Bookshelf column plus a weekly online picture book review. Her children--ages four, eight and 11--keep Russo attuned to books in every age category.

On your nightstand now:

There's something for every age on my nightstand! Or rather on the floor, since when we moved into our apartment this summer, our bed didn't fit in the elevator, and we're still sleeping on just the mattress. There are picture books I've been reading to my four-year-old son: Brian Floca's Five Trucks; Greg Pizzoli's Number One Sam; Jon Klassen and Mac Barnett's Sam and Dave Dig a Hole; one well-worn Emily Jenkins picture book called My Favorite Thing; two of Lucy Cousins's Maisie books; and The Cat in the Hat Comes Back. Then there's The Shadow Hero by Gene Luen Yang, a graphic novel that my eight-year-old son just finished. There's a YA novel from earlier this year that I'm catching up with, Laurie Halse Anderson's heartbreaking The Impossible Knife of Memory. And there are grown-up books that these days are like a chocolate bar I keep in the fridge and sneak bites from. Having just come back to New York after 10 years in California, I've been gravitating to books about the city. There's Boris Fishman's A Replacement Life, a fantastically funny, smart take on immigrant travails of the Brooklyn Russian-Jewish variety. And Don DeLillo's Underworld. I wanted to re-read the scenes set in the Italian-American Bronx.

Favorite books when you were a child:

I adored the Little House on the Prairie books--the wilderness setting, the danger and adventure and the feeling that life was a constant process of reinventing everything from scratch, of working hard to make possible some brief moment of celebration or coziness or even just safety. But I also loved books that were set in New York City, where I lived, for many of the same reasons: they are all struggle, struggle, struggle, then exhilaration. Then back to struggle. I became especially attached to The Cricket in Times Square. I felt Chester's dilemma like an ache: return to the country or stay in Times Square? (I still feel it!) A little later there was another book that really stayed with me called Nilda, by a writer named Nicholasa Mohr, who was a pioneering Latina voice in the 1970s, though of course I had no idea about that at the time. I just found it in the local library. It was about a Puerto Rican girl growing up in the Bronx in the 1940s, and there was something magical about the writing, how it captured a kind of day-to-day urban life, the harshness of it but also the deep emotions of this girl trying to inhabit the beauty of life as best she could, where she was.

Your top five authors:

Herman Melville. Emily Dickinson. Edith Wharton. Don DeLillo. Milan Kundera.

Book you've faked reading:

I am terrible at that! I usually turn red and clam up when something comes up that I know I should have read, but didn't. Which by the way includes both War and Peace and Lord of the Rings.

Book you're an evangelist for:

With children's books, it's Wonder by R. J. Palacio. If I learn that anyone I know has a child between the ages of eight and 12 who has not yet read it, I feel that I must step in there. For grown-up books, I'm always shocked when someone tells me they haven't read Pat Barker's Regeneration World War I trilogy. I act as though it's a grave wrong that must be righted immediately.

Book you've bought for the cover:

There's a board book version of Margaret Wise Brown's wonderfully weird Little Fur Family that has an oval of actual (fake) fur on the cover, right on the belly of Garth Williams's illustration of the "fur child." Now that's an alluring cover. I like to buy it as a baby gift.

Book that changed your life:

Harriet the Spy, another New York City childhood book. With that one not only did I identify, I was galvanized. Naturally I started a spy diary chronicling life in my own 1970s oddball-filled apartment building. It planted in me the idea that close observation and writing are a way to get through.

Favorite line from a book:

"Nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita/ Mi ritrovai per una selva oscura." The opening lines of Dante's Inferno: "In the middle of the journey of our life, I found myself in a dark woods." I find so much comfort in that "nostra vita"--"our life."

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

Forever by Judy Blume. Probably nothing has ever compared to the relief and the thrill of finally finding out not just that this is exactly how it happens, but also that it will be not just okay, but much, much more than okay.

Book Review

Children's Review: The Case for Loving

The Case for Loving: The Fight for Interracial Marriage by Selina Alko, illus. by Sean Qualls and Selina Alko (Arthur A. Levine/Scholastic, $18.99 hardcover, 40p., ages 7-10, 9780545478533, January 27, 2015)

Selina Alko (B Is for Brooklyn) tells the story of the landmark case Loving v. Virginia as a quest by two people who love each other and who want to raise their children in their hometown of Central Point, Va., where their marriage is "unlawful."

Alko frames this picture book's complex themes in its simplest terms. "Donald, Peggy, and Sidney had two parents who loved them, and who loved each other," she begins. Gouache and acrylic paints depict the swirling grays of their front stoop, a heart-colored pink door, and the three siblings playing with toys as their parents look on from the open doorway. Collage elements show music wafting from inside, accompanied by birds, butterflies and hearts. "[F]rom almost the moment Richard Loving met Mildred Jeter they wanted to get married and have a family. But for them, it wasn't that simple...."

In their artwork, husband-and-wife team Selina Alko and Sean Qualls (Dizzy; Before John Was a Jazz Giant) convey the bond between Jeter and Loving in every composition, from that opening family portrait to the final image when they've won their case. Even as the artists introduce them--he's "a fair-skinned boy who got quickly sunburned in July," and she has "skin a creamy caramel"--their individual portraits connect through a rainbow of diverse flesh-tone hues. Alko describes the town in 1958 as a place "where people every shade from the color of chamomile tea to summer midnight made their homes."

Aware that they couldn't be legally married in Virginia, Loving and Jeter wed in Washington, D.C., then returned to Virginia to make their home. They were soon arrested. Pointing to their marriage certificate, Loving was told by a policeman, "That's not good here!" The couple was released from jail but told they had to leave the state. Alko and Qualls depict D.C.'s streets, devoid of the flowers and trees of their hometown. In 1966, amid a sea of protest signs, the Lovings hire lawyers "to help fight for what was right." A series of collage spreads chart their progress--a sky's-the-limit blue backdrop to the U.S. Supreme Court Building, a pink background to the nine judges hearing the Lovings' lawyers' case ("Tell the court I love my wife" appears in collage and hand-lettering), a caramel-colored backdrop to the couple's triumphant embrace. The parting image comes full circle, with the family reunited on the stoop where they started, "Happily (and legally!) ever after."

An author's note about this story's personal significance to Alko and Qualls, suggested further reading and copious sources round out this uplifting tale in which love truly conquers all. --Jennifer M. Brown, children's editor, Shelf Awareness

Shelf Talker: This picture-book rendering of a landmark civil rights case boils down complex issues to its essence as a love story.

The Bestsellers

Top-Selling Self-Published Titles

The bestselling self-published books last week as compiled by

1. His Secretary: Undone by Melanie Marchande
2. The Holiday Brides Collection by Ginny Baird
3. The Elf on the Shelf by Carol V. Aebersold and Chanda B. Bell
4. Ghostly Paws by Leighann Dobbs
5. SEALs of Winter by Various
6. Flirting with Love by Melissa Foster
7. Ruin (Ruin Series Book 3) by Deborah Bladon
8. Ruin (Ruin Series Book 1) by Deborah Bladon
9. Kiss of Christmas Magic by Various
10. Ella and Micha: Infinitely and Always by Jessica Sorensen

[Many thanks to!]

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