Also published on this date: Wednesday, December 10, 2014: Maximum Shelf: The Nightingale

Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, December 10, 2014

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


Classic Lines Bookstore Opens in Pittsburgh

Classic Lines bookstore, Pittsburgh, Pa., opened recently at 5825 Forbes Avenue in the city's Squirrel Hill neighborhood. The Post-Gazette reported that owner Dan Iddings, who directed the Pennsylvania Academic Library Consortium for a decade, began formulating his plan for a bookstore three years ago.

"I'd always wanted to do this, and it was after the Borders in East Liberty closed that I began to think seriously about it," he said. "This store was move-in ready. I must have been watched over or something. The floors were done. The former owner left the lighting. Everything fell into place beautifully."

"Business has been better than I expected," Iddings added. "The responses I've gotten from people who come in have been amazing. One person told me it was like sitting in my living room, and I said, 'Well, this is where I live now.' "

Shortly after the store opened, he told Next Pittsburgh that sales had already exceeded expectations: "People still read. And in this neighborhood at least, they prefer to read in an analog format." A general interest bookstore, Classic Lines currently features an inventory that is 80% used and 20% new, but Iddings "intends to shift the ratio to be about 60% to 40%," Next Pittsburgh wrote.

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

Pennsylvania Bookstore Fights to Renew Lease

The owner of the building housing From My Shelf Books & Gifts, Wellsboro, Pa., isn't renewing the store's lease, which ends March 31, 2015, so the store has started an online petition that has the message, "Tioga County and Wellsboro needs a bookstore. Renew From My Shelf Book's lease and keep the bookstore where it is, and keep rural America reading." More than 360 people have signed the petition so far, and the owners are hoping to reach at least 400 soon.

Kevin Coolidge, who owns the store with his wife, Kasey Cox, said the store signed the lease for its space in 2011. A year later, the landlord tried to evict the store, but a similar petition helped then. "We haven't broken the lease and were never late with the rent," he said, adding that Wellsboro, in north central Pennsylvania, is "a small town and there's nowhere for us to move."

From My Shelf Books & Gifts first opened in 2006 in a basement location, selling used books. The store soon began selling new books, too, and now stocks some 40,000 titles as well as puzzles, cards, games, audio books and book-related gifts. The store also offers a writer's group led by Kasey Cox.

Kevin Coolidge noted, "There wasn't a bookstore here when my wife and I were growing up. We had to go to the nearest mall, which is an hour drive." Today, he added, the next closest bookstore is over an hour away.

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

Bruder Replaces Durham as Head of Amazon Publishing


Daphne Durham, who has worked at Amazon for 15 years and took over publishing operations after Larry Kirshbaum left earlier this year, is herself leaving the company, PW reported. She is being replaced by Mikyla Bruder, who has been global marketing chief for Amazon Publishing since joining the company in 2011. Bruder will become publisher for Amazon's Montlake Romance, Thomas & Mercer, Skyscape, Lake Union, 47North and Jet City Comics imprints.

Before joining Amazon, Bruder was associate publisher and director of sales and marketing at Timber Press and publishing director and executive editor at Chronicle Books. She has also written several party and craft books.

In related news, David Blum, who continues as editor of Kindle Singles, has been named publisher and editor-in-chief of Amazon's Little A and Two Lions imprints.

The Seattle Times noted that in contrast to Kirshbaum, who signed some high-profile authors, "Durham focused less on big names and more on niche markets, such as mysteries, science fiction and religious titles. The company has mined the insights gathered from the data from its digital e-book business to find unsigned authors and push into untapped markets such as fan fiction."

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

Melville House Publishing Senate Torture Report

A publisher gets an unusual plug from a bookseller.

Melville House is publishing the Senate Intelligence Committee's report on the CIA's detention and interrogation program as The Senate Intelligence Committee Report on Torture in paper and e-book editions that will be available in stores on December 30.

Calling the report "probably the most important government document of our generation, even one of the most significant in the history of our democracy," Melville House co-publisher Dennis Johnson noted that the publisher was founded in 2001 "with the express purpose of trying to speak out about what was going on under the administration of George Bush. We felt it was our duty to try and get this report out there to the widest possible audience."

For her part, Lissa Muscatine, co-owner of Politics & Prose Bookstore in Washington, D.C., said, "We thank Melville House for publishing this historic report in book form and making it available to the wider public. The book will be on our shelves at Politics & Prose--and hopefully at independent bookstores across the country--as soon as it is out, and surely will be a topic of great interest to our customers."

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

Obituary Note: Radwa Ashour

Author, academic and translator Radwa Ashour, who "was a powerful voice among Egyptian writers of the postwar generation and a writer of exceptional integrity and courage," died November 30, the Guardian wrote. She was 68. Her books include The Woman from Tantoura, Granada, Siraaj and Specters.

Poisoned Pen: A Quarter Century of Mystery

When Barbara Peters opened the Poisoned Pen in Scottsdale, Ariz., in 1989 after retiring from a career as a lawyer, she thought of the 600-square-foot bookstore as just a hobby.

"My husband had asked me, now that you can do whatever you want, what will it be?" recalled Peters. An avid reader and a lover of mystery novels, Peters decided to open a small store dedicated to the genre. For a time, she was the store's only employee. She attributed much of the store's early success to Scottsdale's tourism industry.

"People from out of town would come in and say, I wish we had a place like this back home," said Peters. Roughly 70% of the Poisoned Pen's business, she judged, comes from shipping signed books to customers not only in the Phoenix metropolitan area but also around the country and the world. "And I'd say, I will write to you."

Since those early days, the Poisoned Pen has moved twice and now employs 13 people. In 1990, it moved to a 1,200-square-foot location, and, after outgrowing that spot, moved to its current home on Goldwater Boulevard in Scottsdale in 1999. It has since expanded, buying the retail space directly next door in 2007, and now encompasses approximately 4,000 square feet in total. A little more than 1,000 square feet of that space is devoted to the store's backroom shipping operations--the "bookstore delivery system," as Peters called it.

Barbara Peters  (center) with authors Leslie Klinger and Laurie King

At one point, Peters opened a second Poisoned Pen location, in downtown Phoenix, but decided to close that shop after a relatively short time. "It wasn't right for us," said Peters. "There's no real centralized location in Phoenix--we decided it was better to travel than open another bookstore."

In 1997, Peters and her husband, Robert Rosenwald, founded an independent publishing company devoted to mysteries called Poisoned Pen Press. Despite the shared name, the store and the press are entirely separate operations; Peters runs the store, while Rosenwald oversees the publishing house.Poisoned Pen Press now publishes 36 hardcover mysteries per year, in addition to paperback versions of its backlist titles.

The store's main room, which Peters referred to as "the theater," can seat 160. All  freestanding bookshelves and display tables are on wheels, and pictures of every author who has done an event at the Poisoned Pen hang from the ceiling and ring the walls. Many of those authors have returned year after year and book after book to the Poisoned Pen. Some, like Michael Connelly and Diana Gabaldon, have done signings for every one of their books at the Poisoned Pen.

"We've been with many of them since the beginning," said Peters. "It really adds up."

The biggest event in terms of attendance, she said, was with Sue Grafton in 1996 for M Is for Malice, to which some 1,500 fans showed up. In terms of sales, the store sold 5,000 copies of Diana Gabaldon's newest book, Written in My Own Heart's Blood, after hosting the author this past June. The Poisoned Pen also hosted Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child, the authors of Blue Labyrinth, on November 11 and sent out many pre-ordered signed books from that event.

Despite relatively frequent appearances from such big-name authors, Peters believes that her store's specialty is new authors. "We try to host as many debut authors as we can," she said. "Major authors were once debut authors, too. And our blockbuster author events pay for all of our smaller events."

With so many far-flung customers, the Poisoned Pen started livestreaming its author events a little over two years ago (all but the first few of those programs are archived on the store's Livestream page). The livestreams have a "large" audience, Peters said, confirmed by the volume of related e-mails and comments she receives afterward. One of the more interesting surprises, Peters recalled, was learning that some of the store's archived streams were being shown at the Pune International Literary Festival in Pune, India. The store has also been working on doing more offsite events.

In-store author events, though, remain Poisoned Pen's bread and butter. Recently Peters and her staff welcomed authors Laurie R. King (The Beekeeper's Apprentice) and Leslie S. Klinger (The New Annotated H.P. Lovecraft) to discuss their work on the new anthology In the Company of Sherlock Holmes: Stories Inspired by the Holmes Canon (Pegasus). One of the first topics of conversation was the lawsuit filed by Klinger against the Conan Doyle Estate, after the estate threatened legal action to block publication of the anthology if the publisher did not pay a fee. Klinger contended that because only 10 of the 60 published Holmes stories remain under copyright and the anthology uses no material found only in those 10 copyrighted stories, Pegasus committed no breach of copyright. A Seventh Circuit judge ruled in favor of Klinger and Pegasus and, in a scathing ruling, called the Conan Doyle Estate extortionists.

"It was an entertaining bit of prose," remarked King drily, on the ruling.

Leslie Klinger signing special-order books in the Poisoned Pen back room.

After speaking, the authors then signed copies of In the Company of Sherlock Holmes for the 55 or so people in the audience, many of whom had been coming to the Poisoned Pen for years. And as the event wound down, customers and the visiting authors all joined in to help clear tables and put away folding chairs.

Asked if she ever imagined the Poisoned Pen growing so large, Peter's response was immediate. "Oh no," she said. "I never wanted it to be a business; I just wanted it to be a hobby."

Over the years, Peters added, she found that she "could not resist the challenges of publishing." And the biggest challenge--coordinating the supply side of the book business with the promotional side--has pretty much remained the same since the early days. Doing a huge blockbuster event is completely pointless, Peters explained, if the publisher doesn't get the books to her store in time. And as the store's customer base has grown, it's become increasingly difficult to ship so many books.

Despite various logistical problems, Peters's passion for books has not changed. "Some people love business and decide to make their business books," she continued. "People like me love books and learn to run a business." --Alex Mutter


Image of the Day: Stefanie Sacks on the Dr. Oz Show

Stefanie Sacks, author of What the Fork Are You Eating: An Action Plan for Your Pantry and Plate (Tarcher, December 26), appeared on The Dr. Oz Show yesterday.

Printed Matter: The 'CBGB of Indie Bookstores'

New York City's Printed Matter is not only "the CBGB of indie bookstores" and "the world's largest purveyor of artists' books," but also "the subject of a new exhibition, 'Learn to Read Art: The Surviving History of Printed Matter,' running from December 2 through February 12, 2015," Vanity Fair reported.

Printed Matter distributes more than 32,000 publications by artists and independent publishers from around the world, offers publishing services, provides workshops and lectures; and hosts weekly events in its Chelsea store. In addition, "the nonprofit's two annual rave-like book fairs in L.A. and New York, launched in 2013 and 2006, respectively, have been hugely successful," Vanity Fair wrote.

Executive director and show curator Max Schumann said the book fairs "have reached rock 'n' roll–concert proportion. It's ridiculous.... It's not this luddite interest in rejecting new technologies, but saying, what other forms of communication [are there]?"

Chronicle Books to Distribute Quadrille Publishing

Beginning with the fall 2015 season, Chronicle Books will distribute Quadrille Publishing in North America. With its Canadian distributor, Raincoast Books, Chronicle will sell approximately 20 titles a season. Quadrille plans to hire a marketing and publicity executive, who will be located in the U.S.

Founded in 1994 with headquarters in the U.K., Quadrille Publishing publishes illustrated books and stationery. Its authors include Cath Kidston, Michel Roux and Antonio Carluccio as well as major brands like Liberty and Anorak. 

Quadrille Publishing was recently acquired by the Hardie Grant Publishing Group, Melbourne, Australia, which is a long-time partner of Chronicle Books. Quadrille and Chronicle have co-published several books in the U.S. over the past few years.

Legato Adds Three More Publishers

Legato Publishers Group is distributing three more publishers in the U.S.:

Effective December 1, Forest Avenue Press, Portland, Ore., which publishes "page-turning literary fiction."
Effective January 1, Microcosm Publishing, Portland, Ore., which publishes DIY titles (bicycling, how-to, hands-on skills, etc.); real world books (education, history, relationships, etc.), vegan cookbooks and nonfiction graphic novels.
Effective January 1, Destination Press, Austin, Texas, which publishes travel guides to U.S. National Parks and tropical destinations.

Personnel Changes at Simon & Schuster

Nick Elliot has been promoted to assistant marketing manager in Simon & Schuster's Children's Division. In the spring and summer of 2011, he was an intern at S&S, and after graduation, he was hired as a marketing assistant and became marketing coordinator.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Jacqueline Woodson on Fresh Air

This morning on NPR's Morning Edition: Molly Guptill Manning, author of When Books Went to War: The Stories that Helped Us Win World War II (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $25, 9780544535022).


This morning on Good Morning America: the band 5 Seconds of Summer, co-authors of Hey, Let's Make a Band!: The Official 5SOS Book (HarperCollins, $21.99, 9780062366443).


Today on Fresh Air: National Book Award–winner Jacqueline Woodson, author of Brown Girl Dreaming (Nancy Paulsen Books/Penguin Young Readers, $16.99, 9780399252518).


Tomorrow morning on Morning Joe: Diane von Furstenberg, author of The Woman I Wanted to Be (Simon & Schuster, $26, 9781451651546). She will also appear on the View, Bravo's Watch What Happens Live and Late Night with Seth Meyers.


Tomorrow on MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews: Mark Halperin, co-author of Double Down: Game Change 2012 (Penguin, $18, 9780143126003).


Tomorrow on KCRW's Bookworm: Martin Amis, author of The Zone of Interest (Knopf, $26.95, 9780385353496). As the show put it: "Acclaimed novelist Martin Amis returns to Bookworm to discuss The Zone of Interest, a mordant exploration of love in a place that is meant to crush the soul in a concentration camp. The discussion explores the banality of evil, ruminates on human interaction in a singularly human setting, and grapples with the question of why there is no 'why' in Auschwitz."


Tomorrow on the Queen Latifah Show: Brooke Shields, author of There Was a Little Girl: The Real Story of My Mother and Me (Dutton, $26.95, 9780525954842).


Tomorrow on Tavis Smiley: Eula Biss, author of On Immunity: An Inoculation (Graywolf Press, $24, 9781555976897).

Movies: The Little Prince; Wild

Word & Film featured a first look at a new French production of Le Petit Prince (The Little Prince), which is "painting in luxurious 3-D animation and framing the story within another story (à la The Lorax)."


Seven clips were released from Wild, the film adaptation of Cheryl Strayed's memoir starring Reese Witherspoon, Indiewire reported. Also out: a 10-minute Academy conversation clip and director Jean-Marc Vallée's breakdown of "the film's wildest scene."

Books & Authors

Awards: Flaherty/Dunnan; Slate/Whiting Best Second Novels

Land of Love and Drowning by Tiphanie Yanique (Riverhead Books) has won the $10,000 Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize, sponsored by the Center for Fiction, formerly known as the Mercantile Library. The award was presented last night in New York City at the Center's annual benefit and awards dinner.

Also at the dinner, author Nathan Englander presented the Center's 2014 Maxwell E. Perkins Award for Distinguished Achievement in the Field of Fiction to Nicole Aragi, founder and agent of Aragi, Inc.


Slate and the Whiting Foundation have collaborated to recognize the five best second novels of the last five years. The novels on the We Second That: The Slate/Whiting Second Novel List are:

Family Life by Akhil Sharma
The Book of Night Women by Marlon James
At Night We Walk in Circles by Daniel Alarcón
Inferno by Eileen Myles
Lightning Rods by Helen DeWitt

For articles about each book, click here.

Book Brahmin: Frank Portman

photo: Shannon Corr

Like the hero of his debut novel, King Dork, and its sequel, King Dork Approximately (published yesterday by Delacorte), author Frank Portman started a punk rock band in high school, called The Mr. T. Experience. His fans will especially appreciate Portman's answer to the "book you've faked reading." He lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.

On your nightstand now:

Two empty beer bottles, one half-empty beer bottle, a cigarette box amp, tarot deck, pocket knife, framed autograph of Robyn Hitchcock, headphones, capo, KISS lunchbox full of unpaid bills, two plastic robot dinosaurs, glow-in-the-dark rosary, glasses, rocks, West African ceremonial dagger, War with the Newts by Karel Capek, Ulysses (seriously--long story), Three by Graham Greene, The Father Brown Omnibus, collected works of Dennis Wheatley, three books I'm supposed to blurb, a Magic 8 Ball, handcuffs, skeleton arm incense holder, human skull. Basically, it is something like the nightstand I'd have dreamed of having when I was 12.

Favorite book when you were a child:

The Lord of the Rings (and Monty Python's Flying Circus) cast a long shadow over everything in my childhood, but within the shadows were also James and the Giant Peach, the Great Brain series, the Gor books, E. Nesbit, The Headless Cupid, H.P. Lovecraft, Horatio Hornblower, Judy Blume, Stephen Potter on Gamesmanship, Agatha Christie, Josephine Tey and Raymond Chandler, Half Magic and Mary Stewart's Arthurian books.

I worked in a public library when I was a teenager and gave myself the assignment of reading every book in the children's room in alphabetical order, and this is an experience I remember at least partly as a kind of kid lit mashup, with The Teddy Bear Habit bleeding into A Wrinkle in Time, melding with The Pushcart War and Deenie, invading The Eagle of the Ninth, and putting Dinky Hocker and Dickory Dock in Robert Heinlein's rocket ships with Matthew Looney and the fat men from space. Well, it passed the time.

Your top five authors:

This varies a lot but a typical snapshot might be: P.G. Wodehouse, Patrick Hamilton, Patricia Highsmith, Henry James, Philip Roth.

Book you've faked reading:

The Catcher in the Rye.

Book you're an evangelist for:

Flashman! by George MacDonald Fraser.

Book you've bought for the cover:

Portuguese Irregular Verbs by Alexander McCall Smith.

Book that changed your life:

Lizard Music by D. Manus Pinkwater.

Favorite line from a book:

"Dolores came around the bed with the speed of a big ape.... She descended on me like a tree full of the same apes she looked like." --from Michael Avallone's The Tall Dolores (first drawn to my attention by Bill Pronzini's Gun in Cheek and loved ever since.)

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

I would love to read Rosemary's Baby for the first time again, especially if it could be contrived that I would begin it not knowing whether the Satanic plot is real or merely Rosemary's paranoid delusion. (As hardly anyone has ever had the opportunity to do--the carefully constructed ambiguity in the novel was fatally undermined by the book's instant status as a cultural icon whose denouement is well known. No way of knowing what it would be like to read it without knowing, but I bet it'd be fun.)

Book Review

YA Review: X: A Novel

X: A Novel by Ilyasah Shabazz with Kekla Magoon (Candlewick, $16.99 hardcover, 384p., ages 14-up, 9780763669676, January 6, 2015)

Malcolm X's third daughter, Ilyasah Shabazz (Growing Up X), and Kekla Magoon (The Rock and the River) team up for a riveting fictional first-person narrative based on the childhood and adolescence of Malcolm Little, who would grow up to become the Civil Rights leader Malcolm X.

The authors paint a vivid picture of the late 1930s and 1940s in the U.S. as they follow young Malcolm from his childhood home in Lansing, Mich., through his move as a teenager to his half-sister Ella's home in Boston, to becoming a numbers runner in Harlem, and his later imprisonment for theft. It ends with his opening up to the teachings of the Nation of Islam: "This place. These walls. They don't contain me," he says.

The authors describe his early desperation, stealing with his brother Philbert to put food on the table for their mother and all eight siblings--their father, Earl Little, was murdered, possibly by a splinter group of the Ku Klux Klan for his activism and alliance with Marcus Garvey. Shabazz and Magoon demonstrate how this early deprivation led to a feeling of entitlement in Malcolm, once he's exposed to the high life in the Roxbury section of Boston (and given the name "Red," for his hair color, by his hustler/musician friend "Shorty"). He works his way from shoeshine boy (and supplier of condoms, drugs and women) at Roseland Ballroom to dancing on the floor himself and catching the eye of a sexy white woman named Sophia. Readers will sense trouble brewing even as sparks fly between Red and Sophia.

Although this is a work of fiction--with Malcolm's imagined thoughts and conversations--it's also strongly tethered to the facts, the people he knew and events he witnessed that contributed to his world view and his path to becoming a leader. Shabazz's endnotes indicate what's true and where she took artistic license. The book opens with Malcolm's unraveling--being pursued by West Indian Archie, for whom he ran numbers in Harlem--and toggles between flashbacks to his early childhood and his experiences in Boston and New York. Shabazz crafts a refrain of his parents' values (not to buy on credit, not to steal) and their ideas ("Words have power," his father told him, "Speak what you want to be true."), which break into Malcolm's conscience even as jazz, money and women seduce him from the moral path.

Malcolm's voice is often funny, always perceptive, and as appreciative of beauty as he is critical of the disparity between the rights of whites and blacks. This novel leads fluidly into The Autobiography of Malcolm X, for those wishing to know more of this remarkable man's journey. --Jennifer M. Brown, children's editor, Shelf Awareness

Shelf Talker: This riveting novel of the early years of Malcolm X describes the events that contributed to his spiritual awakening and powerful leadership.

Powered by: Xtenit