Shelf Awareness for Thursday, December 4, 2014

Little Brown and Company: Wolf at the Table by Adam Rapp

Tor Nightfire: Ghost Station by S.A. Barnes

Severn River Publishing: Covert Action (Command and Control #5) by J.R. Olson and David Bruns

Scholastic Press: Heroes: A Novel of Pearl Harbor by Alan Gratz

Flatiron Books: Anita de Monte Laughs Last by Xochitl Gonzalez

Peachtree Publishers: King & Kayla and the Case of the Downstairs Ghost (King & Kayla) by Dori Hillestad Butler, illustrated by Nancy Meyers


B&N's 2nd Quarter: Sales Slip, Earnings Below Expectations

barnes & nobleIn the second quarter ended November 1, revenues at Barnes & Noble fell 2.7%, to $1.7 billion, and net income was $12.3 million, down slightly from $13.2 million in the same period last year. Earnings per share was 12 cents instead of the expected 31 cents, which is not good news on Wall Street.

The company announced that it and Microsoft have ended their partnership, so Microsoft will no longer supply funding to B&N. B&N is acquiring Microsoft's preferred interest in Nook Media and said the change gives it "operational and strategic flexibility." As a result, B&N said the company's long-awaited split into Nook Media/College and B&N retail entities "could occur by the end of August 2015."

Sales at B&N's retail segment fell 3.6%, to $888 million, primarily because of lower sales of Nook products as well as store closures. Sales at stores open at least a year fell 1.5%, but when Nook products are excluded, sales were up 0.5%.

College revenues rose 1.9%, and sales at college stores open at least a year rose 0.4%.

Nook sales fell 41.3%, to $64 million, with device and accessories sales down 63.7%, to $18.7 million. Digital content sales fell 21.2%, to $45.2 million, mainly because of lower device sales.

For fiscal year 2015, the company predicted that comp-store bookstore, "retail core" and college sales will decline in the low single digits.

B&N CEO Michael Huseby commented: "Retail and College improved their sales trends during the second quarter and Nook continued its rationalization efforts, while recently launching several initiatives to increase NOOK users and content sales. Retail sales continued to benefit from improving physical book industry trends coupled with our own merchandising initiatives, while our College bookstores comparable sales improved on favorable textbook sales trends and higher merchandise sales. Separately, today's announcement on the restructuring of the Nook Media agreements will enable the Company to further rationalize the Nook business and provide a clearer path for the potential separation of our Retail and Nook Media businesses."

University of California Press: The Accidental Ecosystem: People and Wildlife in American Cities by Peter S. Alagona

UNESCO City of Literature Network Adds Four

Four more cities were added to the UNESCO City of Literature roster when Director-General Irina Bokova designated 28 cities from 19 countries as new members of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network. The latest additions are Dunedin, New Zealand, Granada, Spain, Prague, Czech Republic, and Heidelberg, Germany.

"The UNESCO Creative Cities Network is a tremendous tool for cooperation, it reflects our commitment to support an amazing creative and innovative potential to broaden the avenues of sustainable development," said Bokova. "By joining the network, cities commit to collaborate and develop partnerships with a view to promoting creativity and cultural industries, to share best practices, to strengthen participation in cultural life, and to integrate culture in economic and social development plans."

Previously awarded the UNESCO City of Literature designation were Edinburgh, Scotland, Melbourne, Australia, Iowa City, Iowa, U.S., Dublin, Ireland, Reykjavík, Iceland, Norwich, England, and Kraków, Poland.

HarperOne Adds HarperElixir Imprint

HarperOne has launched HarperElixir, a new line of books dedicated to the body, mind, spirit category. HarperElixir will be run by Claudia Boutote, HarperOne senior v-p, associate publisher, with Libby Edelson, who was most recently at Ecco, joining the publisher as senior editor.

The first books from HarperElixer will be published in the fall of 2015, including a new book by Don Miguel Ruiz (The Four Agreements) as the lead title, along with works by Carol Pearson (The Hero Within) and Arielle Ford (The Soulmate Secret).   

"Forming Elixir is an effort to zero in on a distinct category that has long been one of the cornerstones of our business. Body, Mind, Spirit books have been and continue to be a growing area in the U.S. and overseas, and we feel it is time to sharpen our focus," said Mark Tauber, senior v-p & publisher of HarperOne. "Claudia's publishing experience and talent, as well as her personal passion for this category made her the natural choice to lead the line."

Boutote noted that HarperElixir "is a natural extension for HarperOne. In the past few years, we have watched a new and growing audience, inclusive of gender and generation, turning again to these topics for answers. HarperElixir will be a curated list of books, selected with purpose and intent, for these seekers. We believe our rich history gives us a competitive advantage to attract top and emerging talent as well as strength with partners, agents, retailers and readers to create excitement in the marketplace. With this strong focus, drawing on the equity of our roots, we see HarperElixir as an exciting opportunity to develop content and brands that are on-trend."

NYRB Launching Chinese Book Series Calligrams

Chinese University of Hong Kong Press, which has published many translations of great Chinese works in English, is partnering with New York Review Books to create Calligrams, a new series of books from and about China. NYRB describes the series as "scholarly but not too academic and accessible to the general readership who want to learn more about Chinese culture, not just contemporary politics but also gain a broader, deeper and more literary understanding."

Calligrams is edited by scholar, poet and translator Eliot Weinberger, who will draw from CUHK Press's extensive backlist as well as commission new translations. The first three titles in the series, which will debut January 13, are The Three Leaps of Wang Lun: A Chinese Novel by Alfred Döblin, translated from the German by C.D. Godwin; The Literary Mind & the Carving of Dragons by Liu Hsieh, translated from the Chinese and annotated by Vincent Yu-chung Shih; and Chinese Rhyme-Prose, selected and translated from the Chinese by Burton Watson.

ABFFE Holiday Children's Book Art Auction Underway

The American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression's holiday auction of art by leading children's book illustrators has begun. The eBay auction, which features 93 pieces including works by Eric Carle, Karen Barbour, Jon Muth, Alexandra Boiger, Adam Rex and Rachel Isadora, ends December 8. The auction supports ABFFE's defense of the free speech rights of kids, including the Kids' Right to Read Project.

Potterton Books Enjoying Its New Location

Potterton Books, a bookstore with a focus on graphic design, art books, fashion, and rare and out-of-print books with headquarters in England, is now up and running in its new location in the New York Design Center at 200 Lexington Avenue in New York City. In July, the store was forced to move from its original location at 979 Third Avenue, where it had opened in 2001, after the landlord didn't renew the lease.

"We were given 60 days to get out," said Darcy Woodall, the store's managing director. "Under normal circumstances that would be a death knell for a business."

The New York Design Center, a building full of designer showrooms and some antiques galleries and dealers, heard about the closure and reached out to Woodall. The center had an open 1,100-square-foot space on its fourth floor; after agreeing on terms for a lease, Potterton Books moved into the building in early fall. After some relatively minor remodeling, Potterton Books "soft-opened" in late October and was fully operational by mid-November.

"We were really fortunate that the New York Design Center had this space and made it available for us," said Woodall. "It's turned out to be fortuitous; I think this will be a better location."

Potterton Books now is now able to open on Saturdays and stay open later on weeknights. And according to Woodall, the new location is larger than the old space and has a better, more open configuration. Woodall plans to use that extra floor space to host more events. In addition to traditional author events, Woodall wants to start a designer's book club and host lectures and discussion sessions with art historians and designers. The New York Design Center, she added, has done a great job promoting the store and providing marketing assistance during the move.

Although she's got no definite plans yet, Woodall intends to throw a grand re-opening party in January, after the holiday rush winds down.

The Design Center, Woodall said, is a natural fit for Potterton Books; the building is crammed with designers, and most of the store's books are art- and design-focused. "Interior designers are probably about 80% of our customer base," Woodall explained. "If they're doing research for a project, they'll come in and want to look at our art deco books, or for 18th-century French influences, or just look around for general inspiration. We try to be a real resource to people." --Alex Mutter


Image of the Day: Happy 25th, Watermark!

In 1989, Patti Pattee and her late husband, Norman Sturdevant, moved to the Pacific Northwest from California and opened Watermark Book Company in Anacortes, Wash. In November, Watermark celebrated 25 years in business. Twenty lucky customers received $25 gift certificates throughout the month, and on the 20th, staff and friends celebrated throughout the day. Pictured: (l.-r.) Diana Farnsworth, Dave Taylor, Patti Pattee and Barbara Hoenselaar.

Watchung Booksellers' Christmas List for Customers

Watchung Booksellers, Montclair, N.J., posted this list of questions on Facebook:

Think of us as your little elves. Did you know that...

1. You can e-mail us your list and we can have them wrapped, labeled, and ready for you?
2. We can be your personal shopper and help find the perfect book/gift for everyone on your list? family, friends, colleagues...
3. We deliver your purchases to your doorstep?
4. We can keep a wish list on file and others can grant your wishes?
5. We maintain our good spirit and smiles right up to December 25!!

Pennie Picks The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells

Pennie Clark Ianniciello, Costco's book buyer, has chosen The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells: A Novel by Andrew Sean Greer (Ecco, $14.99, 9780062213792) as her pick of the month for December. In Costco Connection, which goes to many of the warehouse club's members, she wrote:

"While I try not to spend too much time imagining how different my life might be had I made different choices, I do think it's fun to imagine what my life would be like had I been born into a different generation.

"If you, too, like to imagine such things, I can't rave enough about this month's book buyer's pick, The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells by Andrew Sean Greer.

"When Greta Wells' twin brother dies and her lover leaves, she's prescribed electroshock therapy to help her deal with the grief. The treatment sends her to 1918 and 1941, where she finds her brother, her lover and an alternate version of herself.

"It's a beautiful story about the many faces of love and what a woman learns about herself from being able to visit those different times."

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Russell Brand on Late Night

Tomorrow on Access Hollywood: Tony Robbins, author of Money Master the Game: 7 Simple Steps to Financial Freedom (Simon & Schuster, $28, 9781476757803).


Tomorrow night on a repeat of Late Night with Seth Meyers: Russell Brand, author of The Pied Piper of Hamelin: Russell Brand's Trickster Tales (Atria, $19.99, 9781476791890).

This Weekend on Book TV: In Depth with Arthur Brooks

Book TV airs on C-Span 2 this weekend 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 website.

Saturday, December 6
12 p.m. Book TV interviews authors and visits literary sites in Waco, Texas. (Re-airs Sunday at 10 a.m.)

4:30 p.m. Michael Aaron Rockland, author of Navy Crazy (Hansen Publishing Group, $15, 9781601822987).

7 p.m. Allison Kilkenny and Jamie Kilstein, authors of #Newsfail (Simon & Schuster, $22, 9781476706511).

8 p.m. Flemming Rose, author of The Tyranny of Silence (Cato Institute, $24.95, 9781939709424).

9:15 p.m. Joseph Hoeffel, author of The Iraq Lie: How the White House Sold the War (Progressive Press, $14.95, 9781615777921).

10 p.m. Jason Sokol, author of All Eyes Are Upon Us: Race and Politics from Boston to Brooklyn (Basic, $32, 9780465022267). (Re-airs Sunday at 9 p.m. and Monday at 3 a.m.)

11 p.m. Robert Baer, author of The Perfect Kill: 21 Laws for Assassins (Blue Rider, $27.95, 9780399168574).

Sunday, December 7
12:15 a.m. Marin Katusa, author of The Colder War: How the Global Energy Trade Slipped from America's Grasp (Wiley, $29.95, 9781118799949).

8:30 a.m. Nick Chiles and Robbin Shipp, authors of Justice While Black: Helping African-American Families Navigate and Survive the Criminal Justice System (Agate Bolden, $14, 9781932841909). (Re-airs Sunday at 11 p.m.)

12 p.m.  Live In Depth q&a with nonfiction author Arthur Brooks. E-mail questions from this page. (Re-airs Monday at 12 p.m.)

3 p.m. Coverage of the 35th annual American Book Awards.

5:45 p.m. David Rothkopf, author of National Insecurity: American Leadership in an Age of Fear (PublicAffairs, $29.99, 9781610393409).

7 p.m. Nick Bunker, author of An Empire on the Edge: How Britain Came to Fight America (Knopf, $30, 9780307594846).

8 p.m. Mary Elise Sarotte, author of The Collapse: The Accidental Opening of the Berlin Wall (Basic, $27.99, 9780465064946), at Porter Square Books in Cambridge, Mass.

10 p.m. Guy Consolmagno, author of Would You Baptize an Extraterrestrial?: And Other Questions from the Astronomers' In-box at the Vatican Observatory (Image, $25, 9780804136952).

Books & Authors

Awards: Morris YA Debut; William Hill; Bord Gais Irish; Bad Sex

The Scar Boys by Len Vlahos is one of five finalists for this year's William C. Morris YA Debut Award, honoring a book "published by a first-time author writing for teens and celebrating impressive new voices in young adult literature." The awards will be presented February 2 in Chicago. The shortlisted titles are:

The Carnival at Bray by Jessie Ann Foley (Elephant Rock Books)
The Story of Owen: Dragon Slayer of Trondheim by E.K. Johnston (Carolrhoda Lab/Lerner)
Gabi, a Girl in Pieces by Isabel Quintero (Cinco Puntos Press)
The Scar Boys by Len Vlahos (Egmont Publishing)  
The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton (Candlewick)


Anna Krien won the collects a £26,000 (US$40,664) William Hill Sports Book of the Year award for Night Games: Sex, Power and a Journey into the Dark Heart of Sport, the Guardian reported. The judges described Night Games as a "painstaking, intelligent, but above all, open-minded examination of an immensely complicated area."


Winners were announced for the Bord Gais Energy Irish Book Awards, which "represent the very best Irish books published this year," according to chairman John Treacy, who said: "They reflect a highly vibrant and creative community and are a wonderful example of Irish writing and publishing at its very best." The Bord Gáis Energy Book of the Year, selected by voters from among the category winners, will be announced December 5.


Ben Okri won this year's Literary Review Bad Sex in Fiction award for an "ecstatic" love scene in his novel The Age of Magic, "featuring a stray rocket going off somewhere in the night," the Guardian reported. Okri's response to the "honor" was brief: "A writer writes what they write and that's all there is to it."

His editor, Maggie McKernan, commented: "Winning the award is fun but a bit undignified, just like sex, assuming you do it properly."

Attainment: New Titles Out Next Week

Selected new titles:

Essays After Eighty by Donald Hall (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $22, 9780544287044) contains essays on old age from the former Poet Laureate. (December 12)

Irene: The Commandant Camille Verhoeven Trilogy by Pierre Lemaitre and Frank Wynne (MacLehose Press, $26.99, 9781623658007) follows a serial killer inspired by crime fiction. (December 9)

Boundary by Heather Terrell (Soho Teen, $18.99, 9781616951993) continues the Books of Eva YA series. (December 9)


Inherent Vice, based on the novel by Thomas Pynchon, opens December 12. Paul Thomas Anderson (There Will Be Blood) directs a cast including Joaquin Phoenix, Reese Witherspoon, Benicio Del Toro and Josh Brolin. A movie-tie in (Penguin, $17, 9780143126850) is available.

IndieBound: Other Indie Favorites

From last week's Indie bestseller lists, available at, here are the recommended titles, which are also Indie Next Great Reads:

Falling From Horses: A Novel by Molly Gloss (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $25, 9780544279292). "Falling From Horses is the story of a young man, a young woman, and the early days of Hollywood set against the memories of growing up in eastern Oregon among the horses, cattle, and hard work it takes to live there. Bud, the son of ranchers, buys a bus ticket to Hollywood to be a rider in cowboy movies. On the way, he meets Lily Shaw, a sassy screenwriter, and their lives become intertwined with the telling of what led Bud to leave home. Both brutal and beautiful, Falling From Horses is filled with stunning descriptions of the world of early movie-making and the landscapes that shape us." --Rene Kirkpatrick, Eagle Harbor Book Company, Bainbridge Island, Wash.

Crooked River: A Novel by Valerie Geary (Morrow, $25.99, 9780062326591). "Debut author Geary has written an engaging psychological thriller set in rural Oregon. After their mother's sudden death, Sam and Ollie McAlister move to live with their recluse beekeeper father, Bear, in a tepee in the middle of a meadow. Shortly after their arrival, a young woman is found dead in the nearby river and their father is arrested for the murder. Both girls know their father is innocent--younger Ollie has been shown the real killer by the spirits that only she can see--and the sisters take it into their own hands to prove their father's innocence." --Liz Heywood, The Babbling Book, Haines, Ark.

Through the Evil Days by Julia Spencer-Fleming (Minotaur Books, $15.99, 9781250052353). "Police chief Russ Van Alstyne and Episcopal minister Claire Fergusson attempt to take their long-awaited honeymoon, only to become embroiled in a murder and child kidnapping case in upstate New York. A blizzard cuts off most normal means of communication as well as the roads, and the clock ticks as they attempt to locate the missing girl who won't survive if she doesn't get her medication in time. A wonderful addition to this outstanding series!" --Connie Brooks, Battenkill Books, Cambridge, N.Y.

For Ages 4 to 8
Julia's House for Lost Creatures by Ben Hatke (First Second, $17.99, 9781596438668). "Julia decides that her house is too quiet so she puts up a sign: 'Julia's House for Lost Creatures.' And sure enough, various magical and mythical creatures find their way to her front door! This enchanting little story is full of quirks and charm, and it will surely work its way into your heart!" --Megan Graves, Hooray for Books, Alexandria, Va.

[Many thanks to IndieBound and the ABA!]

Book Review

Review: The Big Finish

The Big Finish by James W. Hall (Minotaur Books, $25.99 hardcover, 9781250005014, December 2, 2014)

For almost 30 years, Shamus and Edgar Award winner James W. Hall has been exploring the nuances of his well-worn South Florida protagonist known only as Thorn--"a hard-core loner [living] in a primitive cracker house along the coast in Key Largo and [tying] custom bonefish flies for a living." In The Big Finish, Thorn is getting a little long in the tooth with less of a woman-chasing bent--"some fuse had blown in his libido and his attraction to younger women had faded... he was getting close to twice the age he felt himself to be... a man who'd gone into the ring more than once and hadn't always held his own." Nonetheless, like Michael Connelly's Bosch or Robert B. Parker's Spenser, Thorn ages well. Quick to action when he sees wrongdoing, he remains true to his moral compass even if he can't outrun trouble so easily anymore or throw an uppercut takeout punch. Good thing for him his best friend, former cop Sugarman, is still around to watch his back.

An adopted orphan with a long string of girlfriends, Thorn was happy not to be a family man until, in Dead Last, he discovered that he had a grown son from a one-night stand. Flynn Moss wanted nothing to do with his reclusive father, but his eco-warrior group Earth Liberation Front got crossways with the FBI and he needed Thorn's help. In The Big Finish, Flynn once again calls on Thorn to rescue ELF, this time from a sortie against an environmentally negligent corporate hog farm in North Carolina. Finding family ties to be stronger than he thought, Thorn rounds up a reluctant Sugar and leaves the comfort of his Florida sanctuary to do whatever it takes to save Flynn. Sugar knows that he plays "straight arrow" to Thorn's "loose cannon," and when Thorn's "instincts fail, his next reflex is to start kicking down doors, a monkey wrench in each hand."

Hall has a knack for creating despicable bad guys, be they biker thugs, commercial developers or bent government officials, but he really peaks in The Big Finish. Among the usual corrupt small-town sheriffs and scumbag businessmen (these guys dump toxic pig manure in the fields along the Neuse River) is an ex-con named X-88--a member of an X-tattooed vegan prison gang who chose his namesake number "because it was rugged, an upper-quartile number but nothing fancy. A big, strong, muscled-up B+, a better-than-average digit." The sociopathic X-88 suffocates his victims by stuffing raw hamburger down their throats ("murder by meat"). Although Hall's plot travels a twisting path among drug dealers, rural black tenant farmers, unpapered Mexican farm workers and rogue FBI agents, he's a pro who knows that his out-there characters and plots need to be grounded in a fluid narrative and a protagonist who lives as true to his own code as circumstances permit. Thorn is such a man, and The Big Finish is another slick addition to his chronicles. --Bruce Jacobs, founding partner Watermark Books & Cafe, Wichita, Kan.

Shelf Talker: Key Largo bonefish fly-tyer Thorn heads to a corporate hog farm in rural North Carolina to save his eco-warrior son.

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