Shelf Awareness for Tuesday, December 23, 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

Editors' Note

Happy Holidays!

In honor of Christmas, New Year's, Kwanzaa and the Winter Solstice, this is the last issue of Shelf Awareness Pro for the year. We'll check in briefly again on Friday, January 2, 2015, and then get back up to full speed on Monday, January 5!

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


Indies and Satanic Verses: Setting the Record Straight

Bill Petrocelli

In the Huffington Post, Bill Petrocelli, co-owner of Book Passage, Corte Madera and San Francisco, Calif., took issue with Rachel Maddow, normally praised by many booksellers, for repeatedly and erroneously saying that all bookstores did not carry The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie when the Ayatollah Khomeini issued a fatwa against the author in 1989. The issue came up in the context of Sony Pictures' decision to cancel The Interview because of terror threats.

"Many, if not most, independent bookstores carried Mr. Rushdie's book at that time, and they didn't need any special urging by anyone to do so," Petrocelli wrote. "Although some of the chain bookstores shied away from carrying the book, the producers of the Maddow Show made a huge mistake in equating their actions with that of the entire retail book business. Our bookstore carried the book right from the beginning, and we later hosted Mr. Rushdie for an author appearance while he was still under the Fatwah that had been issued against him. Another store, Cody's Books in Berkeley, continued to carry the book even though the store was firebombed because of their decision to do so."

Salman Rushdie

In 2012, when his memoir, Joseph Anton, was published, Rushdie himself thanked indies for their support in a letter, saying in part:

"I have never ceased to be grateful for what the independent booksellers of America did in 1989 and, now that I have finally been able to tell the full story of that battle, I am glad to be able to honor your courage and give you all your due, both in the pages of my book and in what I will say about it when it is published. This is just to thank you personally. It was a privilege to be defended by you, and I have been trying, and will continue to try, to be worthy of that defense."

Chronicle's #GiveBooks Gives Another 10,000 Books

#GiveBooks, the Chronicle Books campaign that's in its third year, quickly achieved its goal this season of donating 10,000 books to First Book, which it did on December 2, according to Kathryn Jaller, Chronicle's senior community manager. Under the campaign, the publisher donates one book, up to 10,000 altogether, for every tweet, pin or online signature of the pledge to give books.

As it has every year, Chronicle worked with a group of 10 bloggers to help spread the word, this year adding three influential members of the Instagram community and adding Tumblr and Instagram to its metrics.

Next year, Jaller said, #GiveBooks aims to bring even more book lovers into the campaign in its ongoing effort to make it a publishing-wide movement. It also wants to convey the #GiveBooks message throughout the year.

Chronicle began #GiveBooks in 2012 as a holiday marketing campaign in partnership with its authors and a group of bloggers, modeling it on the buy handmade movement that helped artists and makers on Etsy.

Guinevere de la Mare, who oversaw the development of #GiveBooks and now works at Storybird, said the original goal was to start "a grassroots campaign to support independent bookstores and encourage people to buy books for the holidays. That first year, I interviewed local booksellers in San Francisco, asking them for their top holiday recommendations from any publisher. That was a core element of the campaign--it was always about lifting up everyone in the name of books."

In 2013, Chronicle added the donations to First Book and continued to feature gift guide recommendations from a range of publishers. It also worked with two low-income schools in West Virginia to donate personalized editions of The Night Before Christmas for every first grader, marking the first time that many of the children had ever owned a book.

Peter Booth Wiley Retiring as Board Chairman

Peter Booth Wiley

John Wiley & Sons chairman Peter Booth Wiley will retire after his current term expires in September 2015. Wiley joined the board of directors in 1984 and succeeded his brother Bradford Wiley II as chairman in 2002.

At its meeting December 18, the board recommended that Matthew S. Kissner's name be placed on the slate of board candidates for election in September. If he is re-elected, the board intends to appoint him as Wiley's next chair. The board also agreed to recommend that Wiley's name be placed on the same slate for election as a director for one year starting in September.

Kissner, who is currently president and CEO of the Kissner Group, has served on Wiley's Board since 2003, including service as chair of the executive, governance, audit and compensation committees.

Although Wiley is stepping down as chairman, he said "the Wiley family remains committed to its leadership role in governance of the company and to maintaining Wiley's legacy as an independent, competitively ambitious enterprise with a strong board, experienced management and a global community of creative colleagues. The family's role in the firm, I believe, has historically been beneficial to all Wiley shareholders. We currently emphasize family involvement in board leadership and a super-majority of independent directors, who work together to ensure that the board represents all of Wiley's stakeholders. I am proud of my work sustaining the family's commitment to industry leadership and best governance practices."

He also noted that he is "pleased that my sons Jesse and Nate, representing the seventh generation of Wileys to work in the business, are both engaged Wiley employees and that Jesse will continue to serve on the board." Jesse Wiley is a strategic business development manager who joined board of directors in 2012. Nate Wiley is currently a corporate marketing manager for the company.

Bloomsbury Acquires Osprey Publishing

Bloomsbury has acquired Osprey Publishing from private equity company Alcuin Capital Partners for £4.6 million ($7.2 million) and will place Osprey in Bloomsbury's Special Interest Publishing, a part of the adult division, the Bookseller reported, adding that more than 50% of Osprey's revenue is generated outside the U.K., principally in the U.S.

The Osprey Group includes Osprey Military, Heritage & Custom Publishing and British Wildlife Press. In October, the company sold Watkins, Angry Robot and Nourish to U.S. entrepreneur Etan Ilfeld.

"The acquisition of Osprey increases our presence in niche special interest markets," said Bloomsbury CEO Nigel Newton. "It is complementary to, and will substantially enhance, our existing lists; in particular increasing the division's expertise in natural history and military history publishing, as well as international sales."

Obituary Note: Francisco 'Paco' Porrúa

Francisco "Paco" Porrúa, literary translator and longtime editor at publisher Editorial Sudamericana, "and vastly known as the man who salvaged Gabriel García Márquez's immortal Cien años de soledad [One Hundred Years of Solitude] from almost inevitable oblivion and obscurity," died Saturday, the Buenos Aires Herald reported. He was 92.


Image of the Day: The Cat's Pajamas

Daniel Wallace (author of Big Fish) recently published his first children's novel, The Cat's Pajamas (Inkshares), about a kitten who dares to dress differently in a world full of copycats. (You can see the trailer here.) Wallace appeared recently at New Hope Elementary in Chapel Hill, N.C., where a group of pre-K kids reinterpreted The Cat's Pajamas.

Point Reyes Books 'Is a Community Hub'

Steve Costa, co-owner of Point Reyes Books, Point Reyes Station Calif., "is more than a successful book merchant. In a town with no local government, he serves as its ex officio mayor and go-to guy. He is an active promoter of public art, public plazas and public restrooms. He and [wife Kate] Levinson have helped turn the town into a cultural and intellectual center," SFGate reported in its profile of the bookstore in which the "front counter is a community hub, a bar without booze, where locals come by to share gossip, drop off brochures for upcoming art shows, recommend books for the store to carry."

"They're providing a template for how to survive as an independent bookstore, albeit an extreme version," said author Michael Pollan, who has participated in a number of the events there.

"Our community involvement is, in some ways, a survival strategy," said Levinson. "It gives our customers one more reason not to shop on Amazon."

Road Trip: D.C.'s 'Best New & Used Bookstores'

"Between the many museum stores and its bounty of independent and used booksellers, Washington, D.C., is a literary nerd's paradise," Condé Nast Traveler wrote in showcasing "six of our favorite bookstores in the D.C. area."

There "are two major themes running through Washington, D.C.'s, most legendary bookstores: a healthy political bent, which isn't surprising in the homeland of American politics, and--perhaps more importantly--food," Condé Nast wrote. "Almost every bookstore has a thriving café where political discussions can carry over from the page to the table. Here are the ones you absolutely must visit."

'Seven Things I'll Miss About the Traditional Library'

Noting that in the U.K. recently, "it was suggested that in order to bring libraries into the modern era, visitors should be cossetted with new-fangled indulgences such as heating, toilets, wi-fi and coffee machines," Bidisha listed "seven things I'll miss about the traditional library" for the Guardian:

  1. Vintage textures
  2. Microfiche
  3. Sexual frisson
  4. 19th-century methods
  5. Silence
  6. Librarians
  7. Books

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Lena Dunham on Ellen

Friday on a repeat of the Ellen DeGeneres Show: Lena Dunham, author of Not That Kind of Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She's "Learned" (Random House, $28, 9780812994995).

TV: American Crime: People v. O.J. Simpson

David Schwimmer will play defense attorney Robert Kardashian in FX's American Crime: People v. O.J. Simpson, based on Jeffrey Toobin's bestselling book The Run of His Life: The People v. O.J. Simpson., the Hollywood Reporter wrote. He joins a cast that includes Cuba Gooding Jr. as Simpson and Sarah Paulson as prosecutor Marcia Clark. The project is being written by Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski (The People vs. Larry Flint).

Movies: In the Heart of the Sea

A new trailer is out for Ron Howard's In the Heart of the Sea, adapted from Nathaniel Philbrick's nonfiction bestseller In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex. Indiewire reported that the film, which stars Chris Hemsworth, also features "a nice range of faces including Cillian Murphy, Ben Whishaw and Benjamin Walker." It opens March 13.

Books & Authors

Awards: Specsavers Book of the Year

Jessie Burton's The Miniaturist won the Specsavers Book of the Year award, which showcases the best in British writing and publishing. Burton, who had taken the Books Are My Bag New Writer category last month, was crowned overall winner after a public vote featuring the winners in all 10 categories from this year's Specsavers National Book Awards.

"I am indebted forever to the voting public for this incredible honor," she said. "It is no exaggeration to say this has been a life-transforming year for me, and this award is a very big cherry on the cake. There are always stories to write, and people who want to read them, and as the year closes, I find this very heartening news indeed."

Specsavers founder Dame Mary Perkins said: "It's wonderful to see the Specsavers Book of the Year go to a new talent, and we look forward to see what's next from this very talented author."

Attainment: New Titles Out Next Week

Selected new titles appearing Tuesday, January 6:

A Fine Summer's Day: An Inspector Ian Rutledge Mystery by Charles Todd (Morrow, $26.99, 9780062237125) is book 17 of the Inspector Ian Rutledge mystery series.

Now in paperback:

Priscilla: The Hidden Life of an Englishwoman in Wartime France by Nicholas Shakespeare (Harper Perennial, $15.99, 9780062297044).

The Hangman's Song by James Oswald (Mariner, $13.95, 9780544319509).

Book Review

Review: Driving the King

Driving the King by Ravi Howard (Harper, $25.99 hardcover, 9780060529611, January 6, 2015)

Smooth and easy, Nat King Cole's baritone voice captivated listeners of all races when he began performing at jazz clubs as a teenager in the 1930s. By the mid-1950s, Cole was a star, and though he was living in Los Angeles, he returned to his home state of Alabama to play a sold-out concert in a segregated Birmingham theater. During the show, Cole was assaulted on stage by three white men. In his second novel, Driving the King, Ravi Howard uses that incident as inspiration, setting it in Cole's hometown of Montgomery and imagining what might have happened afterwards.

Howard (Like Trees, Walking) creates a vivid fictional narrator in the person of Nat Weary, childhood friend of Nat King Cole. Recently returned from fighting in World War II, Weary comes to Cole's show with his girlfriend, planning to propose to her while Cole serenades them. When Cole's attackers rush the stage, Weary leaps from the colored balcony to protect his old friend and is sentenced to 10 years in Montgomery's Kilby prison. Just before his time is up, Weary gets a message from Cole: the singer wants Weary to come to Los Angeles and work as his driver and de facto bodyguard. Worn down by years of isolation and hard labor, Weary accepts the chance to start a new life.

Howard's narrative cuts back and forth in time, beginning with Cole and Weary's return to Montgomery for another show in 1956 and unfolding in a series of flashbacks. Weary's voice rides as smoothly as the pristine Packard he drives for Cole, mixing straightforward talk and folksy metaphors that never veer into cliché. Howard weaves Weary's life story into the narrative of the civil rights movement: his family's taxicab company, his time at Kilby, his family's involvement in the Montgomery bus boycott and other protests. Historical figures such as Martin Luther King, Jr., and Rosa Parks make brief appearances, but journalist Almena Lomax, founder of the Los Angeles Tribune, gets more press than either of them.

The novel assumes a basic knowledge of the struggle for civil rights in the United States but never devolves into a history lesson. As Weary builds a new life for himself in Los Angeles and Cole struggles to keep his TV show on the air without sponsors, both men must deal with the frustrating reality of being black and male (albeit educated and gainfully employed) in the era of Jim Crow. Powerful but understated, Driving the King resembles the top-shelf liquor Weary prefers: smooth and rich with a surprising bite. --Katie Noah Gibson, blogger at Cakes, Tea and Dreams

Shelf Talker: In velvety smooth prose, Ravi Howard's second novel examines the civil rights movement by telling the story of Nat King Cole and his driver, Nat Weary.

Deeper Understanding

A Poem for Your Holiday Reading (& Bookselling) Pleasure

Chris Morrow, co-owner of the Northshire Bookstore, with stores in Manchester Center, Vt., and Saratoga Springs, N.Y., read the following poem at the bookstore's holiday party this year:


Can we pause,
come back to our hearts
offer up a moment
of gratitude.

Beyond the bounds
of hope and fear,
beyond the ring of
the register, and the
call from the bank.
Can we abandon
the habit
to struggle
and, instead, rejoice?

Rejoice in gratitude,
for this breath, and the
for the sun, and snow
for the smiles of
friends and strangers.

for creating an oasis
    of elegance, of humanity
    of culture, of service
in the desert of

for the beautiful books
arriving every day.

for the ceaseless flow
through receiving to shelf

for the patter of
as kids lead parents
to the land of magic
on floor two.

for the embodied
energy of service
to each other,
to our guests,
to the larger vision.

for excellent co-workers
and the everyday
co-creating of Northshire Bookstore,

We live, it is said,
in the slime and muck
of the dark age.

But we can light a
of love.
We can pause and appreciate
what it means
what it means
what it truly means
to put the right book
in the right hands
at the right time!

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