Shelf Awareness for Friday, April 3, 2015

Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers: Perfectly Pegasus by Jessie Sima

Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers: Perfectly Pegasus by Jessie Sima

Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers: Perfectly Pegasus by Jessie Sima

Take a Storytime Adventure into the World of Jessie Sima

Quotation of the Day

'I Think Heaven Is an Independent Bookstore'

"I love bookstores. I love independent bookstores. I think heaven is an independent bookstore, or I hope it is. Laguna Beach Books is my favorite. We go there once a month; it feels like one of those writers' salons. They always have great writers come to this little bookstore; they get big names even though they're small. Another local independent bookstore that I love, which isn't quite local [to San Juan Capistrano, where I live] is Mysterious Galaxy. They do great local author events and will be doing two with me."

--Aline Ohanesian, author of April's #1 Indie Next List Pick Orhan's Inheritance, in a q&a with Bookselling This Week

Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers: Perfectly Pegasus by Jessie Sima


NYC Indies Set Independent Bookstore Day Activities, After Party

Two dozen New York City indies are teaming up for Independent Bookstore Day NYC on Saturday, May 2: the participating stores will collectively publicize their own and each other's events, host a full day's worth of activities and get together for a Bookstore Day NYC afterparty at Powerhouse Arena in Brooklyn, N.Y., on Saturday night.

Among the participating stores are Astoria Bookshop in Queens; Community Bookstore, Greenlight Bookstore and WORD in Brooklyn; and Housing Works Bookstore Cafe, McNally Jackson, Strand Bookstore, La Casa Azul Bookstore and Book Culture in Manhattan. Stores are planning everything from portrait drawings, scavenger hunts and Pictionary games for children to book-based trivia games, author photo booths and cocktail hours for adults. In addition to the official Independent Bookstore Day merchandise that will be available around the country, some stores will also offer exclusive Bookstore Day NYC artwork created by author and illustrator Brian Floca.

The after party is co-sponsored by Literary Hub, Tumblr and Book Riot, and will feature authors Emma Straub (The Vacationers), Jami Attenberg (Saint Maze) and Angela Flournoy (The Turner House). Festivities will include drinks and giveaways.

More information on participating stores, specific plans and the after party can be found here. --Alex Mutter

Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers: Not Quite Narwhal by Jessie Sima

New Owners for Redbery Books, Cable, Wis.

In June, Bev and Bill Bauer, owners of Redbery Books, Cable, Wis., are selling the store to longtime seasonal customers Maureen and Brad Palmer, Bookselling This Week reported.

The Bauers, who are retiring, wrote that they are sure the Palmers will "continue the Redbery tradition" and take the store "to the next level."

"There are so many exciting possibilities for continued growth," Maureen Palmer said. "Redbery has developed strong ties to the Cable community, and we plan to build on those relationships.... Our goal is to foster a vibrant community of readers through quality book selections, author visits, book clubs, and other special events." The Palmers may launch a pop-up storefront at one of the resorts on Lake Namakagon.

The Palmers are soon moving to Cable, and Maureen is leaving her position as a librarian at the Reedsburg Public Library.

Redbery is celebrating its 10th anniversary on May 2--also Independent Bookstore Day--with author appearances, $10 gift card drawings, book trivia games, door prizes for 10 customers and a list of the store's bestsellers during the past decade.

Hachette Head on Amazon, E-Books, Bookstores

In an in-depth interview with Livres Hebdo (via the Bookseller), Arnaud Nourry, chairman and CEO of Hachette Livre, discussed last year's battle with Amazon, the e-book market, and much more. Among his comments:

Arnaud Nourry

The question [in the dispute with Amazon] was whether the publisher or the retailer should fix selling prices for electronic books (and take account of the fact that many decisions taken in the United States have an impact elsewhere). I regret that this discussion took the form of a conflict, and I am delighted that we have resolved it. But if it were to be done again, I would do it again. All media industries that have not maintained control over their production in the electronic sphere are in great difficulty. If e-books were sold for $5 a copy, it would only take a few years for everything to change, creating a market without booksellers and a general public accustomed to paying almost nothing. Through huge mergers, the music business is now centred on three major world players. Diversity has been hard hit. Innovation in the sound sector is nothing like what it was 30 years ago. We do not have to the right to let this happen to books, which is the medium for creation, education, culture and democracy...

I hear more and more American publishers and booksellers point out the merits of the [French fixed price] Lang Law. But thinking it might be possible to replicate it over there is another thing! It is not at all in the American culture....

[Amazon and the world's other major digital operators] contribute to the market for books. We must forget the moments of conflict and realize that these companies enable us to reach different customers. Amazon has been a driving force. The same goes for Apple and Google. We must not throw the baby out with the bathwater. Secondly, in terms of relations, even if they are infinitely larger than we are, our creative capacity through our authors gives us a symbolic strength and consequently bargaining power. Last year, I was impressed by the number of authors who mobilized to push us to resolve the conflict. The situation is the same in France when we negotiate with a partner, which makes me confident and optimistic for the future of [publishing]. But we must be able to control prices. If not, holding exclusive rights of our authors' work will do nothing for us...

I am very optimistic for independent booksellers. In the United States, where they have had to put up with the growth of digital; this has now stopped, and bricks-and-mortar stores have emerged stronger than before. Online sales are functional and practical, but are not sufficient for big readers...

In the Anglo-Saxon world, [the e-book] seems to have peaked at around 25% of the market, but with huge disparities between illustrated books, where it is anecdotal, and mainstream literature, where it accounts for 40% or even 50% for romantic fiction. Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch is at 50-50. The 25% share has not changed for 18 months in the United States, and it is almost at that level in the United Kingdom. I draw five conclusions from this. The first is that there will not be a massive shift to digital for books, but cohabitation. Two: regrettably, digital has not expanded the market nor reached other sections of the public; it is a substitute. Three: the change in our profession has forced us to acquire new skills and reorganize our production methods and marketing, but it has not affected our fundamentals--talent in finding texts, and preparing and selling them. This explains why 1,000 leading authors signed a petition supporting us in the New York Times last year. Four: digital does not harm the economics of publishing. When you book at the accounts of Simon & Schuster or HarperCollins, you see that they have not suffered much. Five: by increasing authors' percentages on book sales, their remuneration has been maintained, in contrast to the music business because of the subscription system. It is vital that authors earn as good a living from digital as from print....

[In explaining why e-books have not been as successful outside the Anglo-Saxon world as inside] in the United States and United Kingdom, the major operators have been able to cut prices, which means digital has made inroads because it is attractive. This was impossible in all continental European countries because of regulation [via fixed prices] or contracts [the agency model]. Finally, when there is no sizeable price advantage, the attraction of digital is low for the consumer. A paper book is easily carried around and does not break down.

In France, the e-book will continue to spread, but slowly, and its penetration rate will be much lower than that in the Anglo-Saxon world. That prediction is based on today's technology and does not take account of current research and any future breakthrough....

I used to think that e-books would reach 12% to 15% of the market much sooner in France. At the rate we are going, it will probably take several years. But that does not bother me. We now have an ecosystem that works. This is why I have resisted the subscription system, which is a flawed idea even though it proliferates in the music business. Offering subscriptions at a monthly fee that is lower than the price of one book is absurd. For the consumer, it makes no sense. People who read two or three books a month represent an infinitesimal minority. And there are bookshops. If I seem like a dinosaur, so be it. My colleagues at Penguin Random House say the same thing.

Obituary Note: Robert Schuller

Televangelist Robert H. Schuller, "who attempted to integrate the teachings of John Calvin with the positive thinking of Norman Vincent Peale, and lost his famed Crystal Cathedral to bankruptcy," died yesterday, USA Today reported. He was 88. Schuller wrote more than 30 books, including five New York Times bestsellers.


Page After Page's Susan Hinkle Named 'Main Street Champion'

Susan Hinkle, owner of Page After Page bookstore, Elizabeth City, N.C., was honored as Main Street Champion for 2014 because of "her activism in the Harbor of Hospitality's central business district," the Daily Advance reported.

She is a past president of the Downtown Business and Professional Association, is a former board member of Elizabeth City Downtown Inc. and is currently active in the Elizabeth City H.A.S. It! program, which seeks to emphasize the downtown as a center of history, art and science.

Ridge Hill Partners Officially 'Industry Expert'

Kudos to Ridge Hill Partners, Needham, Mass., which has brokered the sales of many independent bookstores, including Harvard Book Store, Porter Square Books, Wellesley Books and New England Mobile Book Fair: Business Brokerage Press, publisher of the Business Reference Guide, has awarded Ridge Hill Partners "Industry Expert" status for its work with indie stores.

Ridge Hill has also advised bookstore buyers as well as advised smaller store owners on selling. The firm also works in other industries, including business services, manufacturing, food services, agriculture and a range of retail.

Pennie Picks The Goldfinch

Pennie Clark Ianniciello, Costco's book buyer, has chosen The Goldfinch: A Novel by Donna Tartt (Back Bay Books, $20, 9780316055444) as her pick of the month for April. In Costco Connection, which goes to many of the warehouse club's members, she wrote:

"This may make me sound old, but I am having trouble adapting to the world of LOLs and tweets. I crave substance. To slake those cravings, which I suspect are shared by others, I've picked Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch as this month's book buyer's pick.

"Theo Decker is on an unplanned visit to the Metropolitan Museum of Art with his mother when a bomb explodes. His mother dies, and Theo steals away with her favorite painting, The Goldfinch. From there readers follow Theo into adulthood. Life and its circumstances find him living in Las Vegas, working in a Manhattan antiques store and being drawn ever deeper into the underworld of art.

"Yes, there is a physical heft to this book. But there is also weightlessness in the act of falling deeply--and happily--into a story this rich and encompassing."

Personnel Changes at Scholastic, Chronicle Books

At Scholastic:

Caitlin Friedman has joined Scholastic Trade as v-p, trade marketing. She was most recently at Scholastic Media.

Colleen Prendergrast has joined Scholastic Trade as associate manager, licensed publishing. She was most recently at HarperCollins.

Vicky Eva has joined Klutz as senior sourcing specialist. She formerly worked at One Kings Lane.


At Chronicle Books:

Albee Dalbotten has been promoted to marketing director, adult trade. She was previously associate marketing director, entertainment/lifestyle, and joined the company four years ago.

David Hawk has been promoted to senior marketing and publicity manager, food and drink. He had been publicity manager, food and drink, and joined the company seven years ago.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Hilary Mantel on Fresh Air

Today on Fresh Air: Hilary Mantel, author of Wolf Hall (Picador, $16, 9780312429980) and Bring Up the Bodies (Picador, $16, 9781250024176).


Sunday on CBS Sunday Morning: Candice Bergen, author of A Fine Romance (Simon & Schuster, $28, 9780684808277). She will also appear on NPR's Weekend Edition.


Sunday on Oprah's Where Are They Now?: Mary McDonough, author of One Year (Kensington Publishing, $25, 9780758293497).

TV: The Boys of '67

The History channel is developing The Boys of '67, a series based on Andrew Wiest's book The Boys of '67: Charlie Company's War in Vietnam. reported that Die Hard and Fugitive screenwriter Jeb Stuart "is reuniting with the network to write and executive produce the project.... No other details are available, but among his recent credits Stuart just finished adapting The Liberators, an eight-episode limited series for History."

Movies: Kahlil Gibran's The Prophet; Winnie the Pooh

The first international trailer has been released for the animated Kahlil Gibran's The Prophet, with a cast that includes Liam Neeson, Salma Hayek, Quvenzhané Wallis, John Krasinski, Frank Langella and Alfred Molina, Indiewire reported. The movie will be released in the U.S. August 7.

Disney "has set a live-action feature adaptation of the animated classic Winnie the Pooh," reported, adding that the studio has hired writer/director Alex Ross Perry (Listen Up Philip) to develop the project, which will focus on "Christopher Robin as an adult, which brings him back to A.A. Milne's famous bear and the Hundred Acre Wood."

Books & Authors

Awards: James Herbert Winner; Wodehouse; Desmond Elliott

Craig Davidson, writing as Nick Cutter, has won the inaugural James Herbert Award for Horror Writing for The Troop (Gallery/Pocket), according to the Bookseller. The £2,000 (about $2,970) award honors the late horror writer James Herbert.

Chair of judges, Tom Hunter, director of the Serendip Foundation, commented: "The Troop is a perfect first winner, and the judges loved its tense plotting, detailed characterisation and above all the driving sense of fear that compels you to keep turning every horror-soaked page until the end. This is a book that fans of horror will love and I believe James Herbert would have celebrated."


The shortlist has been released for this year's Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize for comic fiction, the Guardian reported. The winner will be announced just before the Hay festival in May. The shortlisted titles are

Losing It by Helen Lederer
Fatty O'Leary's Dinner Party by Alexander McCall Smith
How to Build a Girl by Caitlin Moran
The Dog by Joseph O'Neill
Man at the Helm by Nina Stibbe
A Decent Ride by Irvine Welsh


A longlist has been announced for the £10,000 (about $14,850) Desmond Elliott Prize, which honors a first novel written in English and published in the U.K. A shortlist will be released May 15, and the winner revealed July 1. This year's Desmond Elliott longlist:

The A to Z of You and Me by James Hannah
The Bees by Laline Paull
Chop Chop by Simon Wroe
Elizabeth Is Missing by Emma Healey
Glass by Alex Christofi
The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton
Our Endless Numbered Days by Claire Fuller
Randall by Jonathan Gibbs
A Song for Issy Bradley by Carys Bray
The Wake by Paul Kingsnorth

Book Brahmin: Elizabeth Haynes

photo: Ryan Cox

Elizabeth Haynes worked for many years as a police analyst, a civilian role that involves determining patterns in criminal behavior. She recently retired from this position to write full time. Her first novel was Into the Darkest Corner (2011), followed by Under a Silent Moon, the first in her Briarstone crime series, and two standalone novels: Dark Tide and Human Remains. The second installment in the Briarstone series is Behind Closed Doors (Harper, paperback, March 31, 2015). Haynes lives in a village near Maidstone, Kent, England, with her husband and son.

On your nightstand now:

Love Is Red by Sophie Jaff--I was lucky enough to get a galley of this gorgeous-looking book; it's not out until May 2015. So far I'm finding it a fascinating read; it's different from anything I've read before, and it's so beautifully written I'm captivated by it. Next up is Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood, which I've been wanting to read for a long time.

Favorite book when you were a child:

I loved poetry as a child, and I think my most treasured possession was my Grandma's copy of Palgrave's Golden Treasury of English Songs and Lyrics. (I also read absolutely everything by Enid Blyton, but I couldn't pick just one).

I also discovered Ray Bradbury's short stories in the library when I was quite young, and I loved them. Most especially The Illustrated Man, which was the cleverest thing I'd ever read. A few years ago I read that Ray Bradbury (then retired, but still well) would spend some of each day signing books that fans had sent to him, and collecting mementoes of the hometowns that were sent along with the books. I sent my precious copy of The Illustrated Man (battered, but loved) to his agent, along with some little bits and pieces and a letter telling the great man how much his books had made me want to write. Just a week or so later I heard on the news that he had passed away.

Your top five authors:

This is SO difficult. How do you choose just five? I keep changing my mind. George Orwell. Definitely John Harvey--his Resnick novels are pure genius. Ruth Rendell, for psychology. Nicci French for structure. And Mo Hayder, who writes the scariest crime novels of all.

Book you've faked reading:

A Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela. I want to read it, I really do--it's been on my shelf a LONG time. But it's so big.

Book you're an evangelist for:

The Jigsaw Man by Paul Britton, a nonfiction work describing the high-profile investigations Britton worked on as a forensic psychologist in the U.K. If you read the reviews for this book on any British website, you'll see that opinion is polarised, because Britton was publicly discredited following his work on the Rachel Nickell murder investigation. Whatever your opinion on Paul Britton himself, his book is detailed and intriguing, providing a fascinating insight into some of the most horrific crimes in the U.K. over the last 30 years.

Book you've bought for the cover:

Art & Lies: A Piece for Three Voices and a Bawd by Jeanette Winterson.

Book that changed your life:

This has to be Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway by Susan Jeffers. I think I first read this in my early 20s and memorised many quotations from it. It gave me confidence at many difficult times in my life, and while I'm still not exactly adventurous, I do believe that my life has been better and richer because of the lessons I'm still learning about being brave.

Favorite line from a book:

"We all admired the work of Charles Dickens in tutorials but that didn't mean we wanted a ride on his moustache." --You Had Me at Hello by Mhairi McFarlane.

Which character you most relate to:

Gosh, this is another question that's impossible to answer. For me, relating to a character is a fundamental part of reading a book. I relate to all of them, good, bad, young, old--if I don't relate to them, what's the point of continuing to read? The characters tell the story, so you have to feel like you could be walking in their shoes. I can think of characters who have made me weep, characters who have had me shaking with fear or with rage, but I couldn't single out one who was just like me because in the act of reading, I become them. They don't become me. Is that a cop out? Sorry!

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

George Orwell's Burmese Days. Although I know it so well I can practically recite from it, there are still moments in the book that move me to tears.

Book Review

Review: Cuckoo: Cheating by Nature

Cuckoo: Cheating by Nature by Nick Davies (Bloomsbury , $27 hardcover, 9781620409527, April 7, 2015)

Nick Davies (Cuckoos, Cowbirds and Other Cheats), a professor of behavioral ecology at the University of Cambridge, knows that science today is more likely to depend on DNA analysis than stomping about in a field with a notebook. However, when Davies decided to study the cuckoo bird, he knew more traditional methods were in order. For 30 years, Davies and associate Michael Brooke, curator of birds at the Museum of Zoology in Cambridge, observed wild cuckoos in a marshy area known as Wicken Fen. Now nature and nonfiction lovers can follow his discoveries in this charming, engrossing chronicle of a most unusual bird.

In the United States, the appearance of the first robin signals that spring will soon bloom, but in England, the spring comes in with the first call of the cuckoo bird. Newly returned from wintering in Africa, the cuckoos and other migratory species set about the business of reproduction, but while the other birds build their nests and raise their young, the cuckoo cheats. It lays its eggs in the nests of other species, and when the cuckoo chick hatches, it makes short work of ejecting the hosts' eggs or hatchlings. With its new only-child status, the cuckoo chick ensures that the host parents will lavish all their attention on it, and the con is complete. While humans have known about the cuckoo's parasitic behavior for thousands of years, Davies set out to solve the biggest of the mysteries surrounding this curious bird: Just how, exactly, does the cuckoo get away with it? Along the way, he works in an entertaining survey of past theories. For example, one pre-Darwin naturalist posited that host birds admired the cuckoo and felt honored to raise its offspring, reading their agitated behavior at the cuckoo's presence as jubilation.

Davies's obvious adoration for his feathered subjects can hook even the most casual of readers, whether or not experimental methodology usually grabs their attention. During his field study passersby hopefully guessed that Davies was destroying cuckoo eggs, but his musings inspire a sense of wonder at the existence of such a nuanced species, and readers will likely share his wistfulness at the decline of the British cuckoo population. Written in a series of essays, each addressing a different facet of the cuckoo's life or exploring a question about the bird's behavior, the account skillfully pulls together poetry and lore about the cuckoo, scientific theories from ancient history to modernity and Davies's own experiments and conclusions. Tidy as a woven nest and filled with genuine love for the English countryside, Davies's exposé of the bird world's trickiest customer will astound. --Jaclyn Fulwood, blogger at Infinite Reads

Shelf Talker: Naturalist Nick Davies searches for answers to age-old questions about the parasitic cuckoo bird, one of nature's greatest curiosities.

Deeper Understanding

Robert Gray: The Beautiful Absurdity of Poetry Month

Ten random, or not so random, thoughts as spring and National Poetry Month blossom once again:

1. I prefer to begin my National Poetry Month this year with Amanda Palmer reading Polish Nobel Laureate Wislawa Szymborska's poem, "Possibilities."

I prefer the absurdity of writing poems
to the absurdity of not writing poems.

2. National Poetry Month is much better than the lack thereof. Cynics insist the public's poetic attention span should be longer than 30 days. Maybe so, but a month of focused attention annually is still better than year after year of general neglect.

3. I like the idea of people writing poetry who are not poets--especially children. For example, the Toadstool Bookshop, Milford, N.H. is "calling all young poets K-12! Celebrate National Poetry Month and win a prize! Free verse or rhyme-up to 15 lines!"

4. I've written and published poems, but I'd rather be a great poetry reader than a bad poet. And as a former bookseller, I really love the concept of a month in which customers enter independent bookstores nationwide, explore poetry displays and ask booksellers to recommend some great new poets. Handselling excellent poetry is so much better than writing bad poetry.

5. Poetry is everywhere. To celebrate the end of a very brutal winter, the Cambridge, Mass., Department of Public Works, along with staff from the Cambridge Arts Council and public library have partnered for a Sidewalk Poetry Program. As crews from the DPW "replace sidewalks damaged by the winter's historic snowfall, they will imprint poetry written by residents into the slabs, hoping to capture the attention of pedestrians," the Boston Globe reported. The initiative was inspired by a similar project in St. Paul, Minn., which began in 2008 and now showcases "more than 450 poems imprinted on the city's sidewalks."

6. Poetry Month always begins on April Fools Day. I used to think that was unfortunate, but I changed my mind because the poetry world can sometimes take itself a little too seriously. On April 1, the Bookseller countered that tendency by "reporting" that Profile Books had acquired a poetry manuscript by Jeremy Clarkson, the disgraced and recently sacked star of British TV's hit show Top Gear: "The collection was said to 'draw heavily on ontological questions surrounding the nature of reality,' showing the influences of 'Emily Dickinson, Karl Ove Knausgård and the Vauxhall Zafira.' "

7. On the other hand, poetry is serious business. The Guardian's poem of the week is Elaine Feinstein's "April Fool's Day," a stark reminder of the power, and powerlessness, of verse:

Does anybody know what it was all for?
Not Private Rosenberg, short as John Keats.
A nudge from Ezra Pound took him to war,
to sleep on boards, in France, with rotting feet,
writing his poetry by candle ends....

He died on April Fools' Day on patrol...."

8. A confession: Sometimes--and I'm not mentioning any names--I prefer the poems to the poet. This is primarily, though not exclusively, true of living poets. On reflection, it is probably better than preferring the poet to the poems.

9. I know many poets. They do not read poetry like I do. While I try to examine the surface cracks and seams of a well-crafted poem, as I might look at the brush strokes of a painting up close, they can see through those cracks and seams and tell me how the poem was made. I admire their knowledge and focus and insight, but do not envy them.   

10. As Poetry Month begins, I've saved the best for last. From a Guardian essay, "I am in love with poetry," by Andrew O'Hagan: "Maybe the optimists are right; maybe poetry does help you live your life. And maybe they are more right than they know, and it rounds you out for death, 'the dark backing that a mirror needs,' as Saul Bellow writes in Humboldt's Gift, 'if we are to see anything....' And where the times are brutal and the banks are deluded and the adverts are venal and the news is all lies, perhaps the madness of poets represents the rage of the imagination against the viciousness of reality. 'I could see that Humboldt was pondering what to do between then and now,' writes Bellow, 'between birth and death, to satisfy certain great questions. Such brooding didn't make him any saner.' Yet the world is more than the settled mind, said John Clare, Robert Fergusson, Arthur Rimbaud and Sylvia Plath. It is more than our ordered sense of it, and poetry is the least servile of all our forms. That is why I love it." --Robert Gray, contributing editor (column archives available at Fresh Eyes Now)

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