Shelf Awareness for Thursday, March 19, 2015

Viking: The Bookshop: A History of the American Bookstore by Evan Friss

Pixel+ink: Missy and Mason 1: Missy Wants a Mammoth

Bramble: The Stars Are Dying: Special Edition (Nytefall Trilogy #1) by Chloe C Peñaranda

Blue Box Press: A Soul of Ash and Blood: A Blood and Ash Novel by Jennifer L Armentrout

Charlesbridge Publishing: The Perilous Performance at Milkweed Meadow by Elaine Dimopoulos, Illustrated by Doug Salati

Minotaur Books: The Dark Wives: A Vera Stanhope Novel (Vera Stanhope #11) by Ann Cleeves

Quotation of the Day

Jon Scieszka: 'Listening to Books Is Reading'

"I'm here to tell you that listening to books is reading. I'm not kidding. Scientific studies have shown that audiobooks help readers learn to pronounce words, learn the pace of storytelling, plus students can listen and understand two grade levels above their reading level."

--Jon Scieszka in a trailer about audiobooks and his Frank Einstein series, for which he and illustrator Brian Biggs have narrated several audios.

BINC: Do Good All Year - Click to Donate!


Honolulu's Revolution Books Meets Crowdfunding Goal

With two days to spare, Revolution Books, the not-for-profit, all-volunteer leftist bookstore in Honolulu, Hawaii, has raised the $10,000 it said it needed to "pay down debts, meet increasing costs of overhead, and expand our stock of progressive books that speak to current events and trends as well [as] revolutionary literature that puts forward a vision of the world as it COULD be."

The store's Indiegogo campaign aimed to raise $10,000 by tomorrow, and reached the goal yesterday. The total this morning stood at $10,151. The store launched the campaign on February 18.

"We've reconnected with people from all over the place, like a professor in Minnesota who used to come to the store when he was a student at (the University of Hawaii) 25 years ago," store manager and co-founder Carolyn Hadfield told the Star-Advertiser. "And we got checks and letters from so many other people we didn't know supported us."

GLOW: Milkweed Editions: Becoming Little Shell: Returning Home to the Landless Indians of Montana by Chris La Tray

Amazon Publishing Expands into France; Deliveries on the Move

Clément Monjou

Amazon Publishing has expanded into France and hired Clément Monjou to be senior editor, original manuscripts, according to Actualitte (via the Bookseller). Monjou most recently was responsible for Kindle content marketing on Amazon's French Kindle Store and then was in charge of its app store unit. Before joining Amazon, he was the editor of the e-book blog.

Amazon Publishing France's first two titles will be published under the Amazon Crossing imprint: a romance novel called Ladden et La Lampe Merveilleuse by Stephanie Bond and a thriller called Hackeur et Contre Tous by Dave Buschi. Three more titles will be released at the end of the month. The unit is focusing at first on translations into French.

Amazon Publishing already has publishing arms in the U.K. and Germany and has advertised for positions in Spain. Last October, the company hired former Waterstones managing director Dominic Myers to head Amazon Publishing Europe.


In other news from Amazon, the company is expanding one-hour delivery on thousands of items to Baltimore, Md., and Miami, Fla. It introduced hour-deliveries in New York City late last year.

The Prime Now service is available to Prime customers in parts of Miami and Baltimore from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., seven days a week. Two-hour delivery is free, and delivery within an hour in specified ZIP codes costs $7.99. Amazon said it will expand the service to larger parts of those cities soon.

G.P. Putnam's Sons: Four Weekends and a Funeral by Ellie Palmer

Crooked Lane Books Set to Release Criminal Titles

Crime fiction imprint Crooked Lane Books has unmasked its first four titles, set to launch on August 11: a hardcover edition of Denise Grover Swank's Twenty-Eight and a Half Wishes; Ellen Byron's Plantation Shudders; and two debut novels: C. Michele Dorsey's No Virgin Island; and Red Line by Brian Thiem, a former Oakland homicide detective.

Crooked Lane plans to publish 20 titles this year in a range of crime fiction sub-genres, from "psychological suspense and high-concept thrillers" to "traditionals and cozies." Crooked Lane is distributed by Legato Publishers Group, a member of Perseus Books Group.

Crooked Lane was founded last year by Dan Weiss (formerly publisher at large with St. Martin's Press and managing director and publisher with Barnes & Noble's educational publishing company) and Matt Martz (formerly of Minotaur Books, St. Martin's crime imprint).

"We founded Crooked Lane Books to work with new and midlist authors in crime fiction," said Martz. "As vibrant as the space has traditionally been, we believe that there are a number of underserved subgenres. Readers are looking hard for authors and series that they can fall in love with and enjoy for years to come, and we're in an excellent position to help them find their next great read."

"I couldn't be more thrilled with the veteran team that we have in place," Weiss said. "After my many years of successfully publishing to niche markets and building durable publishing brands, I'm convinced that Crooked Lane's innovative model will grow to become a powerful new outlet for the many wonderful mystery and crime authors."

Obituary Note: Valentin Rasputin

Valentin Rasputin, a "patriarch of the so-called village prose writers who emerged in the Soviet Union in the 1960s to address moral and environmental issues and depict the remains of a rural Russia about to be consumed by industrialization," died Saturday, the New York Times reported. He was 77. Rasputin's books "sold millions of copies under Communism, and toward the end of the Soviet era he received major state awards," the Times noted.


Happy 50th Birthday, Sparta Books!

The Sparta Independent profiled Sparta Books, Sparta, N.J., "a staple in the community" that's celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. Donna Fell, who bought the store in 2007, remembered that after several changes in ownership, the store had lost its solid reputation and many longtime customers. She said, "With the economy in a bleak state, the task of keeping an independent book store thriving was a huge undertaking, but I was determined to keep the store in business."

She had no bookselling experience but relied, the paper said, "on her determination, hard work and passion for reading. She also sought advice from fellow bookstore owners and publishers as well as the American Booksellers Association and New Atlantic Independent Booksellers Association."

Fell commented: "I now consider these people my friends, and with their help the store began to come alive again."

In 2011, Fell moved into "a better, more visible" spot in the store's shopping center. "We remodeled, upgraded our computer systems and began to add some other items for our customers' shopping pleasure," she said. These included more gift items--"educational games and toys for children and popular gift items Alex and Anni and Natural Life"--that make the store more of a destination.

Sparta Books is planning a variety of events and promotions to celebrate its 50th. "I don't think there are a lot of bookstores that are 50 years old," Fell said. "For selfish reasons, I wanted a bookstore in my community, and I am happy to be a part of it."

Cool Idea of the Day: NAIBA's Bookstore Visit Challenge

Inspired by the story about Politics & Prose's practice of encouraging staff visits to other bookstores, as written about by P&P's Mark LaFramboise, and an idea from S&S rep Tim Hepp, the New Atlantic Independent Booksellers Association is encouraging NAIBA booksellers to visit other bookstores and, for the most visits, is offering the reward of two free guest-room nights at the NAIBA Fall Conference hotel in Somerset, N.J., which takes place October 2-4.

Between now and September 18, booksellers who visit other stores and talk with staff and/or owners about bookstore operations ("no drive-bys!") need to send a photo from the visit and a description of an idea shared or something they admired in that store to (These will be posted on NAIBA's website and in the newsletter.) The stores can be anywhere, not just in NAIBA territory.

Booksellers earn points toward the prize. Each visit by any staffer earns one credit toward the challenge. So two staffers visiting a store together is worth two credits. Each store staffer attending a NAIBA event (beginning with the March Careers in Bookselling) counts as two points--a photo and comment are required for these, too.

Paz Workshop: Bookstore Best Practices for New Owners

Co-sponsored by the American Booksellers Association and facilitated by Donna Paz Kaufman and Mark Kaufman of the Bookstore Training Group of Paz & Associates, "Owning a Bookstore: The Business Essentials," a week-long workshop retreat for new bookstore owners or people opening a bookstore, will be held Monday-Friday, April 13-17, at Amelia Island, Fla. Participants will learn best practices of the many aspects of the business, including start-up costs, effective marketing practices, the importance of store design, choosing a computerized management system, selecting your opening inventory, buying and inventory management, and more. The emphasis is on understanding and focusing on "the most critical aspects of the business and to establish a tangible competitive advantage."

ABA members are eligible for discounted tuition. For details, visit or call 904-277-2664.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Siddhartha Mukherjee on PBS NewsHour

Tomorrow on PBS NewsHour: Siddhartha Mukherjee, author of The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer (Scribner, $18, 9781439170915).


Tomorrow on MSNBC's Now with Alex Wagner: Barney Frank, author of Frank: A Life in Politics from the Great Society to Same-Sex Marriage (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $28, 9780374280307).

This Weekend on Book TV: Barney Frank

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, March 21
4:45 p.m. Ron Garan, author of The Orbital Perspective: Lessons in Seeing the Big Picture from a Journey of 71 Million Miles (Berrett-Koehler, $27.95, 9781626562462).

7 p.m. Robert George, author of Conscience and Its Enemies: Confronting the Dogmas of Liberal Secularism (Intercollegiate Studies Institute, $18, 9781610170703). (Re-airs Sunday at 1 p.m. and Monday at 1 a.m.)

7:45 p.m. Karen Paget, author of Patriotic Betrayal: The Inside Story of the CIA’s Secret Campaign to Enroll American Students in the Crusade Against Communism (Yale University Press, $35, 9780300205084). (Re-airs Sunday at 7:45 a.m.)

9 p.m. David Phillips, author of The Kurdish Spring: A New Map of the Middle East (Transaction Publishers, $24.95, 9781412856805). (Re-airs Sunday at 2 p.m.)

10 p.m. Eric Foner, author of Gateway to Freedom: The Hidden History of the Underground Railroad (Norton, $26.95, 9780393244076). (Re-airs Sunday at 9 p.m. and Monday at 12 a.m. and 3 a.m.)

11 p.m. Coverage of the National Book Critics Circle Awards from the New School in New York City. (Re-airs Sunday at 3 p.m.)

Sunday, March 22
1:35 p.m. Patricia Fernandez-Kelly, author of The Hero's Fight: African Americans in West Baltimore and the Shadow of the State (Princeton University Press, $35, 9780691162843). (Re-airs Monday at 1:35 a.m.)

7:30 p.m. A panel on women and power, discussing American women such as Catherine Beecher, Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, Shirley Chisholm and Angela Davis.

10 p.m. Hassan Hassan, co-author of ISIS: Inside the Army of Terror (Regan Arts, $14, 9781941393574).

11 p.m. Barney Frank, author of Frank: A Life in Politics from the Great Society to Same-Sex Marriage (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $28, 9780374280307).

Books & Authors

Awards: NAIBA Legacy

Richard Russo has been named the 2015 Legacy Award Winner by the New Atlantic Independent Booksellers Association and will be the keynote speaker at the awards banquet on October 3 during the NAIBA Fall Conference in Somerset, N.J.

The Legacy Award recognizes "an author's (and the occasional industry leader) lifetime literary achievements and contributions to independent booksellers who enjoy reading, sharing, and selling their books of literary beauty." The award includes a donation to the author's charity of choice.

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:

Where the Dead Pause, and the Japanese Say Goodbye: A Journey by Marie Mutsuki Mockett (Norton, $26.95, 9780393063011). "Mockett's journey begins in the wake of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan, near the site of the Fukushima Daiichi power plant, and encompasses a nation's grieving as well as her own. Through her beautiful descriptions of traditions, rituals, conversations, and quiet moments, she shows the nuances of a people picking up and moving on. By seeking out the cultural context of her subject's very human reactions and emotions, Mockett walks a fine line that globalization has tried to erase entirely, and our understanding of the events and their aftermath is richer for it." --Rachel Cass, Harvard Book Store, Cambridge, Mass.

Ongoingness: The End of a Diary by Sarah Manguso (Graywolf Press, $20, 9781555977030). "Ongoingness is at once a calm analysis and a feverishly whispered confession. Built around the 'dark matter' of Manguso's 800,000-word diary, each capsule-sized entry is a meditation on memory, mortality, and what we leave behind--both tangible and not. Highly recommended for fans of Joan Didion's The White Album and Leslie Jamison's The Empathy Exams." --Sarah Hollenbeck, Women & Children First, Chicago, Ill.

The Enchanted: A Novel by Rene Denfeld (Harper Perennial, $14.99, 9780062285515). "A death row inmate, a fallen priest, and the Lady. These nameless characters are central to this dark, enthralling, magical story. Locked in a dungeon cell, the inmate deals with his incarceration by transforming the prison into a wondrous place. The rumblings of the earth become golden horses running below his cell, molten lava flowing from their manes. The Lady works to have the sentences of the condemned commuted to life in prison while the priest is fallen, lost, and desperately in love with her. These characters live and work in a truly enchanted place, and I was sorry to leave them behind when the book was finished." --Jessie Martin, Nicola's Books, Ann Arbor, Mich.

For Ages 9 to 12
Masterminds by Gordon Korman (Balzer + Bray, $16.99, 9780062299963). "Korman's latest is thilling! Only 30 kids live in the idyllic town of Serenity. It is a perfect place where people are happy and kind, there is no crime, and everyone has what they need. But all is not as it seems. Evil lies beneath the perfection. Told through the alternating voices of five of Serenity’s kids, this surprising tale unfolds with relentless suspense, and readers are as shocked as the narrators when the truth about Serenity becomes clear. I could not stop reading!" --Christopher Rose, Andover Bookstore, Andover, Mass.

For Teen Readers
The Doubt Factory by Paolo Bacigalupi (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, $18, 9780316220750). "The Doubt Factory is a complex, intelligent thriller. With themes involving the pharmaceutical industry, bad science, and the companies that orchestrate cover-ups, this book is intriguing, relevant, and boasts a broad variety of bright, if not totally law abiding, teens. Bacigalupi knows how to present believable characters of both genders, and the variety of racial backgrounds is refreshingly accurate. A great, important read!" --Flannery Fitch, Bookshop Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, Calif.

Children's Illustrated
Finding Spring by Carin Berger (Greenwillow Books, $17.99, 9780062250193). "Beautiful collage illustrations help tell the story of one little bear's exuberant search for spring--even though he should be hibernating. All ages can relate to the theme of looking for something that you've never actually seen before--something that you can't find by traveling across a distance. Or can you? A sweet ending helps readers celebrate the changing of the seasons." --Leslie Hawkins, Spellbound Children's Bookshop, Asheville, N.C.

[Many thanks to IndieBound and the ABA!]

Attainment: New Titles Out Next Week

Selected new titles appearing next Tuesday, March 24:

The Cavendon Women by Barbara Taylor Bradford (St. Martin's Press, $27.99, 9781250032386) is the sequel to Cavendon Hall.

How to Raise a Wild Child: The Art and Science of Falling in Love with Nature by Scott D. Sampson (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $25, 9780544279322) explores how to get kids to love the outdoors.

Get the Truth: Former CIA Officers Teach You How to Persuade Anyone to Tell All by Philip Houston, Michael Floyd and Susan Carnicero (St. Martin's Press, $24.99, 9781250043337) is an interrogation guide by former CIA officers.

Now in paperback:

Cake My Day!: Easy, Eye-Popping Designs for Stunning, Fanciful, and Funny Cakes by Karen Tack and Alan Richardson (Rux Martin/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $18.99, 9780544263697).

Yoga Girl by Rachel Brathen (Touchstone, $19.99, 9781501106767).

Happiness for Beginners: A Novel by Katherine Center (St. Martin's Griffin, $15.99, 9781250047304).

The PlantPure Nation Cookbook: The Official Companion Cookbook to the Breakthrough Film... with over 150 Plant-Based Recipes by Kim Campbell (BenBella, $19.95, 9781940363684).


Home, an animated children's movie based on The True Meaning of Smekday by Adam Rex, opens March 27.

Serena, based on the novel by Ron Rash, opens March 27. Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence star as Depression-era newlyweds with a timber empire. A movie tie-in (Ecco, $14.99, 9780062292667) is available.

Book Review

Review: There Is Simply Too Much to Think About: Collected Nonfiction

There Is Simply Too Much to Think About: Collected Nonfiction by Saul Bellow, edited by Benjamin Taylor (Viking, $35 hardcover, 9780670016693, March 31, 2015)

Saul Bellow lived in rarefied air for American writers--he won the Nobel and Pulitzer prizes and three National Book Awards (the only writer to do so). This year marks the centennial of Bellow's birth, a perfect time to publish a collection of his nonfiction, and Benjamin Taylor, who edited Saul Bellow: Letters, is the ideal person to take this on.

There are 57 pieces in all, from 1948 to 2000: essays, critical and autobiographical pieces, lectures, interviews and speeches. His subjects deal with Chicago, past and present--he was a "child of immigrants who grew up in one of Chicago's immigrant neighborhoods"--his Jewish heritage and Jewish writers, and his concern over the state of the novel, its past, present and future. The pieces are arranged chronologically, so readers can see that his feelings and opinions about these topics changed over the years.

Bellow started out as a leftist, and as a young man he went to Mexico to talk to Trotsky (the "great man," as he calls him in a 1999 interview). But Trotsky had just been assassinated; Bellow attended his funeral. As Bellow grew older, he became more conservative, concerned with the viability of civilization (another common topic for his analysis) and the poor state of "high culture" in America. As he writes in "An Interview with Myself" (1975), the "traditions and institutions of literary culture are lacking." He was concerned with what he called the "Great Noise"--the noise of technology, media, politics, money and miseducation. He believed people, especially writers, need to overcome it, but that universities weren't necessarily a good place to do that--he called them "villains" in a 1956 essay.

Some essays are on Jewish writers: Sholom Aleichem (the "great Jewish humorist"); Ben Hecht, "who roars like an old-fashioned lion"; Abraham Cahan; and Bellow's good friend Philip Roth. In a 1959 piece on Goodbye, Columbus, he calls the young Roth "skillful, witty, and energetic... a virtuoso," and Bellow tended to be harsh on contemporary writers. His favorites were the past masters Tolstoy, Mann, Proust and Conrad--another immigrant writer. For Bellow, the most important element in a novel (that "latter-day lean-to, a hovel in which the spirit takes shelter," as he described it in his Nobel Prize acceptance speech) was the "stature of characters." Bellow frequently commented on the absence of such in modern literature. Two essays, more than 40 years apart, are about Ralph Ellison: "He had a great deal to teach me."

Taylor has done a great job bringing all these pieces together, though a short introduction or brief paragraphs to situate the pieces would have been welcome. Nonetheless, There Is Simply Too Much to Think About provides us with a fine portrait of the artist who, in David Eggers's words, could "remind you, in every paragraph, about virtually every level of existence." --Tom Lavoie, former publisher

Shelf Talker: The life and work of Nobel Prize-winning author Saul Bellow as revealed in his nonfiction.

Powered by: Xtenit