Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Simon & Schuster: Fall Cooking With Simon Element

Tor Nightfire: Devils Kill Devils by Johnny Compton

Shadow Mountain: Highcliffe House (Proper Romance Regency) by Megan Walker

Simon & Schuster: Register for the Simon & Schuster Fall Preview!

Avid Reader Press / Simon & Schuster: The Ministry of Time Kaliane Bradley

Quotation of the Day

Amazon Bookstore a 'Great Acknowledgement' of Indies

"I thought it was a great acknowledgement of something that independent brick-and-mortar stores have known for the past few decades, which is there is something special that occurs at a physical bookstore that is not replicable on the Internet. People have tried, and it's just not the same experience. It doesn't have the same serendipity. It doesn't have the same sense of community."

--Miriam Sontz, CEO of Powell's Books, Portland, Ore., on CNBC's Closing Bell, addressing Amazon's move into bricks-and-mortar stores

BINC: Do Good All Year - Click to Donate!


Juenemann Is New PNBA Executive Director

Brian Juenemann

Brian Juenemann has been appointed the new executive director of the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association, effective March 1. He succeeds Thom Chambliss, who announced his pending retirement in November. Juenemann, who has been the PNBA's marketing director for the past 10 years, was chosen by the board following a national search.

Juenemann worked as a bookseller, returns coordinator and author event coordinator at the University of Oregon Bookstore for more than a decade. He also writes the monthly "The Local Shelf" literary column for the Eugene Register-Guard's Oregon Life section.

During his 22-year tenure as executive director, Chambliss "championed independent bookstores and Pacific Northwest authors, helping indies weather tech booms and bursting bubbles, big box stores and online retail," the PNBA noted. "His last tradeshow, in October in Portland, featured the greatest number of authors in PNBA show history, with sold-out events like the Dinner at the Kids' Table, with children's author and illustrator presentations."

Chambliss commented: "I feel very lucky to have worked with Brian for more than 10 years, and I am really pleased that the PNBA board of directors has confirmed that the work Brian and I have done together will continue in Brian's capable hands for the future. PNBA will see improved communications with authors and publishers, and I am totally confident that Brian will be an even better representative of the Association than I have been."

Graphic Universe (Tm): Hotelitor: Luxury-Class Defense and Hospitality Unit by Josh Hicks

Rakuten Lowers Value of Kobo Assets by $69 Million

Rakuten, the giant Japanese e-commerce and Internet services company that owns Kobo and OverDrive, has taken an impairment charge of some $340 million of assets in several of its businesses, including Kobo, according to TechCrunch.

In 2011, Rakuten paid $315 million for Kobo, which was developed by Indigo Books & Music, and has now written it down by $69 million, the result of "a slower start to the rise of the global e-book industry than we originally expected." The company is also closing its e-commerce sites in Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia next month, and wants to sell, the e-commerce company in Thailand that it bought in 2010.

The company said it expects its e-book division, which includes Kobo and OverDrive, bought for $410 million last year, to return to profitability this year.

In the year ended December 31, Rakuten revenue rose 19%, to $6.3 billion, and net profit fell 38%, to $393 million.

GLOW: Workman Publishing: Atlas Obscura: Wild Life: An Explorer's Guide to the World's Living Wonders by Cara Giaimo, Joshua Foer, and Atlas Obscura

Chicago's Volumes Bookcafe Nears Opening

Volumes Bookcafe update: the bookstore and café in the Wicker Park neighborhood of Chicago should open within three weeks, co-owner Rebecca George told Chicagoist. She and her co-owner (and sister) Kimberly are waiting for the city to complete inspections.

Volumes is hiring booksellers and baristas and is aiming for a 95%-5% mix of new to used books, a slight change from an earlier 90%-10% goal. The store has 2,800 square feet of space.

Harpervia: Only Big Bumbum Matters Tomorrow by Damilare Kuku

Greenfield's World Eye Bookshop Buys Toy Store

Jessica Mullins, owner of World Eye Bookshop, Greenfield, Mass., has purchased the Magical Child toy store, which closed two weeks ago after owner Mary Walsh-Martel had been unable to sell the business for months. A March 1 reopening is tentatively planned for the shop, which will retain its name.

Mullins said that although the idea of buying the toy store had been in the back of her mind, it didn't become a reality until she heard other potential sales had fallen through and the business would close. "Then it became, 'This is real, OK, decide,' " she noted.

"I don't want empty stores downtown and it's really important to me to have variety and choice," Mullins said. "There isn't going to be tons of money pouring in or anything, but I'm really hopeful that the downtown is going to survive. It will be nice to have a couple more jobs going, different things happening on Main Street."

She added that World Eye "is still struggling every day to stay open and it's an uphill battle and we're all working really hard to keep it open. I feel like we can do that with Magical Child, too, and kind of spread out the risk and spread out the overhead costs.... We're in a better position than we were last May but some of the things that happen in the book industry are completely out of my control. As long as I don't put World Eye in jeopardy, then I feel like it's worth the risk."

Mullins also observed that there "are certain stores that have spoken to people and their kids have grown up here and we've watched the next generation going in here, and that's what we have to save. When we have people come in from other towns, they're amazed by our downtown. They come in and they can feel that."

The Environmental Costs of E-Commerce

Yesterday, the New York Times outlined growing concerns about "the long-term environmental effect" of e-commerce, which has doubled to $350 billion in the last five years and led to ever more materials being used. In 2014, 35.4 million tons of containerboard was produced in the U.S., and e-commerce companies are "among the fastest-growing users," the Times said.

At the same time, e-tailers' emphasis on "gotta-have-it-now gratification" and a push to fulfill orders as fast as possible has led to more packaging and cardboard being used as more shipments consist of just one or two products; more and more delivery trucks clogging roads and adding to pollution and climate change; and more and more delivery trucks carrying sometimes just one or a handful of packages. Amazon is, of course, the largest general e-tailer, and with its Prime and Prime Now programs, is responsible for much of this trend.

The growth of "increasingly personalized freight services" is contributing to higher emissions, the Times emphasized. "There's a whole fleet of trucks circulating through neighborhoods nonstop," Dan Sperling, founding director of the Institute of Transportation Studies at UC Davis and a member of the California Air Resources Board, told the paper. "From a sustainability perspective, we're heading in the wrong direction."

A recent study of the effects of e-commerce in Newark, Del., found that "a rise in e-commerce in recent years by local residents corresponded to more trucks on the road and an increase in greenhouse emissions," the Times wrote. Ardeshi Faghri, professor of civil engineering at the University of Delaware, said that the increase in emissions by about 20% between 2001 and 2011 "could be due to a multitude of reasons, but we think that online shopping and more delivery are really one of the primary reasons."

Instant delivery has led to a trend away from delivering big truckloads to single retailers to making "scattershot deliveries."

Some argue that there are "possible tradeoffs," including that online shoppers may drive their cars less and that delivery services have incentives to find efficient routes. While many people recycle cardboard and other packaging material, the Times pointed out that "the process has its own costs, including the emissions from shipping it to recycling centers, which use a lot of energy and water."

Robert Reed, a spokesperson for Recology, the main recycling processor in San Francisco, which collects 100 tons of cardboard daily, told the Times that the biggest solution to the overwhelming growth in material is to "slow down consumption. Slow down."

As for Amazon's argument that "delivering to consumers straight from huge warehouses cuts down the need to distribute to thousands of stores," we can't help but think that there's a much more efficient system already in place. Many "thousands of stores" across the country currently distribute in person millions of products to millions of customers (who often find immediate gratification) without needing fleets of delivery trucks and increasing amounts of boxes and packing material.

Obituary Note: Nigel McDowell

Author Nigel McDowell, whose debut novel, Tall Tales from Pitch End, was published in 2013 and The Black North a year later, died February 7. He was 34. Georgia Murray, his editor at Hot Key, said McDowell "was a writer of such talent, with an entirely original voice. It was an honor to work with him on his novels, and I'll miss him greatly. The world of children's books is a lesser place without him." Hot Key will publish his final book, The House of Mountfathom, in 2017.

"We're all devastated to hear the news of Nigel's passing," said Jane Harris, executive director of children's fiction at Bonnier Zaffre. "He was a core Hot Key author, having been with the list since the very early days and it's incredibly sad to know that he won't see The House of Mountfathom published. It's always a shock to lose someone so young and talented, and with so much more to give but at least we can bring this final book to the shelves so more readers get the chance to appreciate his storytelling."


Image of the Day: Karr, Crowell & The Porch

Bestselling author Mary Karr (The Liars' Club, Cherry, Lit, The Art of Memoir) and Grammy-winning songwriter Rodney Crowell recently headlined a fundraising event for the Porch Writers' Collective in Nashville, Tenn., called "Kinship: An Evening with Mary Karr and Rodney Crowell." Karr collaborated with Crowell, a Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame member and recipient of the 2009 Lifetime Achievement Award for Songwriting from the Americana Music Association, on the album Kin (2012). The Porch Writers' Collective is an independent center for writing founded by Susannah Felts and Katie McDougall.

Rizzoli Bookstore's N.Y. Fashion Week Window Display

To coincide with New York Fashion Week, Rizzoli Bookstore's windows "have been revamped to tell the the story of Marimekko with an installation featuring four dresses from the spring/summer 2016 collection--two of which feature archival prints from the 50s--along with coordinating fashion and accessories, all for sale at the fashion brand's flagship (200 Fifth Ave).," Racked NY reported. The bookstore is also featuring Marimekko: In Patterns and Marimekko--Fabrics, Fashion, Architecture, "two must-have books for design lovers that provide a deeper look at the brand." The window display will be up until February 22.

Indies 'Every St. Louis Book Lover Should Visit'

"In a world overtaken by e-readers and tablets, these local bookstores keep that old-fashioned magic alive," the Riverfront Times noted in featuring "8 magical bookstores that every St. Louis book lover should visit," including Left Bank Books, Afterwords Books, Main Street Books, the Novel Neighbor, Subterranean Books and the Book House.

Cool Idea of the Day: Fracture Book Tour in N.D.

Next month, the Fracture Book Tour, a North Dakota Humanities Council program, will host writers Alison Hawthorne Deming, Debra Marquart, Kathleen Dean Moore, Mark Trechock and Taylor Brorby in a series of readings and discussions on fracking in America. The project is being held in conjunction with the recent release of Fracture: Essays, Poems and Stories on Fracking in America (Ice Cube Press), edited by Brorby & Stefanie Trout.

"How often does a state like North Dakota give out a major $30,000 humanities grant to host a group of nationally known authors to tour their state with a new book that deals with perhaps the most controversial issue the state has had to deal with: fracking," noted Steve Semken, publisher of Ice Cube Press. "I think it's interesting, given the large impact of the industry in North Dakota, that the humanities council is funding a book tour."

Personnel Changes at Open Road Media

Sarah Janet has joined Open Road Media as a marketing manager. She formerly worked for eight years at Penguin Random House in marketing and ad/promo.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: William Shatner on the Talk

Fresh Air: Susan Jacoby, author of Strange Gods: A Secular History of Conversion (Pantheon, $29.95, 9780375423758).

Today: David B. Agus, author of The Lucky Years: How to Thrive in the Brave New World of Health (Simon & Schuster, $27, 9781476712109). He will also appear on Bloomberg Radio's Bloomberg Advantage.

The Talk: William Shatner, co-author of Leonard: My Fifty-Year Friendship with a Remarkable Man (Thomas Dunne, $25.99, 9781250083319).

CNBC's Squawk Box: Alec Ross, author of The Industries of the Future (Simon & Schuster, $28, 9781476753652).

TV: Purity; Wedding Song

Daniel Craig will star in the adaptation of Jonathan Franzen's Purity, "a hot drama series package that hit the cable and digital marketplace earlier this week," Deadline reported. The project is being produced by Scott Rudin, with Todd Field and Franzen collaborating on the adaptation. Deadline noted that "the package has been seeking a series order 20 episodes, with Field set to direct all 20 hours. Purity was taken out to cable networks, including Showtime and FX, and streaming services, including Netflix, Hulu and Amazon.... I also hear Showtime has made an offer in line with what the producers had been looking for and is looking good, though not all bids are in and no decision has been made about where the project will end up."


Wedding Song by Egyptian novelist and Nobel laureate Naguib Mahfouz "will be adapted into an Arab TV series with international ambitions by iProductions, the new film and TV outfit bankrolled by Egyptian billionaire Naguib Sawiris," Variety reported. The project is being directed by Mohammed Yassin (Heat Wave), with a cast that includes Mona Zaki (Schehrezade, Tell Me a Story), Jordanian actress Saba Mubarak (The Price) and Iyad Nassar. Variety added that iProductions "has high hopes the skein will break out into the international market."

Books & Authors

Awards: CILIP Carnegie, Kate Greenaway Longlists

The Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals has released longlists for the 2016 Carnegie Medal (author of a book for children and young people) and the Kate Greenaway Medal (illustrator of a book for children and young people), which are judged by a panel of expert librarians. Winners will each receive £500 (about $720) worth of books to donate to their local library and a specially commissioned golden medal. Since 2000, the winner of the Kate Greenaway Medal has also been awarded the £5,000 ($7,175) Colin Mears Award cash prize. You can find the complete CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway longlists here. Shortlists will be announced March 15 and winners named June 20.

Sioned Jacques, chair of the judging panel, said, "The longlists for 2016 are outstanding and perfectly reflect the vibrancy of children's books in the U.K. today. This is a real golden age of writing and illustrating for children and the range of skills and storytelling on display in the longlists are proof of the incredibly high standards of this ever-growing area of publishing--every book is a potential winner. These are all fantastic books and every one of them deserves a wide audience."

Book Brahmin: Leonard S. Marcus

photo: Elena Seibert

Leonard S. Marcus is a leading writer and lecturer about children's books and the people who create them. He was born and raised in Mount Vernon, N.Y., and holds degrees in history from Yale and poetry from the University of Iowa Graduate Writers' Workshop. His award-winning books include Show Me a Story! Why Picture Books Matter; Dear Genius: The Letters of Ursula Nordstrom; Golden Legacy and The Annotated Phantom Tollbooth. Weston Woods has released a video based on his illustrated biography Randolph Caldecott: The Man Who Could Not Stop Drawing. This fall, Candlewick will publish his next interview collection, Comics Confidential: Thirteen Graphic Novelists Talk Story, Craft, and Life Outside the Box (September 27, 2016).

On your nightstand now:

The stack of books by my desk is more like it. Dear Life by Alice Munro, for her fine eye for detail and mastery of tone. The Hotel Years by Joseph Roth: a Viennese Jewish journalist's observations of daily life during the powder-keg years between the First and Second World Wars. Roth, a miniaturist, was in effect writing the obituary of a fabulous culture that was about to perish. Theodore Roosevelt in the Field by Michael R. Canfield, because Roosevelt was an ornithological child prodigy and our most literary president, which makes him a rare bird worth reading--and writing--about. El Deafo by Cece Bell, because I am completely smitten with the graphic novel as a mixed-media narrative form.

Favorite book when you were a child:

Laddie and the Little Rabbit was my first favorite book. It's an obscure Little Golden Book from 1952 with photographic illustrations by William Gottlieb. The brother and sister in the photos have a pet rabbit and a pet springer spaniel, and I had neither. I would dream about the pictures and project myself into them, just like Buster Keaton in Sherlock, Jr. Many years later I met Gottlieb's widow and learned that he had made his living primarily by photographing jazz musicians. Look at any photo of Billie Holiday or the young Louis Armstrong. Chances are, it's by him.

Your top five authors:

E.B. White, Elizabeth Bishop, Margaret Wise Brown, Graham Greene, Michel de Montaigne. Masters of clarity, arch-enemies of cant.

Book you've faked reading:

As an eighth grader, I enrolled in an after-school speed reading course and applied what I learned to one of the novels on the English class syllabus that year, A Passage to India. I read E.M. Forster's book so quickly that I missed one of the three main characters altogether. As you might imagine, I did not do well on the exam that followed. My poor performance came as such a surprise to my teacher that she pulled me aside after class on the day our exams were returned and asked in a concerned voice if I was having "problems at home." "No," I replied, "I've been taking speed reading." She urged me to go back to my old reading method, and I did.

Book you're an evangelist for:

I would say just about any book illustrated by Alice and Martin Provensen. The Provensens' books are funny, urbane, unpretentious, toweringly ambitious, elegant, nuanced and down-to-earth. The Glorious Flight, which won the 1984 Caldecott Medal, is one of the easier ones to find. But what about their Shaker Lane? Or their The Iliad and the Odyssey? Or Alice's solo The Buck Stops Here? The Provensens kept reinventing themselves, and much of what they did is perfect of its kind.

Book you've bought for the cover:

Maira Kalman's The Principles of Uncertainty. The title did not especially grab me but the cover image made me feel I needed the book. The elegant figure in black is shown in a skater's pose but is more likely just slipping and sliding on very thin ice. Is something terrible, or ridiculous, about to happen? It's a beguiling blend of Franz Kafka and Charlie Chaplin.

Book you hid from your parents:

Summerhill by A.S. Neill. I was about 14 when I read this memoir by the founder of a British experimental boarding school that still exists. Neill let young people shape their own educations and defined education much more broadly than usual to include emotional development and sexuality, among other tricky subjects. I was bowled over that an adult could be so radically non-prescriptive and supportive, and in that regard so different from my parents. This was not a book to be left casually on the breakfast nook table.

Book that changed your life:

Goodnight Moon. I was about 28 when I happened to read it for the first time in a bookstore one evening. (It seems I have always read below my age level!) When Margaret Wise Brown's picture book sent a chill up my spine--as Emily Dickinson said only a real poem would--I was intrigued, and the timing could not have been better. I had a boring day job and was looking for a project with which to jumpstart a writing career. I had done an independent history project at college on early American children's books, was currently writing poetry, and had always read biographies. That evening I decided to look into the possibility of writing a biography of the poet I had just stumbled upon--a real poet for children. Writing Awakened by the Moon, my book about the author of Goodnight Moon, took 10 years but it opened every door to the work I have done since--books, interviews, articles, exhibitions, all of it.

Favorite line from a book:

A line that I have enjoyed quoting for friends, and which I find applies to a great many situations, comes from Departures, a book of poems by Donald Justice: "After the overture, the opera seemed brief." Another favorite line is from a book by John Cage. It goes something like this: "If you don't know what to do next, do something boring and ideas will flock to you like birds."

Five books you'll never part with:

Charlotte's Web by E.B. White (nothing works better to clear my head); my copy of I Saw Esau signed by Iona Opie and Maurice Sendak (two heroes in one); Barbara Bader's American Picturebooks from Noah's Ark to The Beast Within (I refer to it so often that I think I really would miss not having it around). This is very hard, though I seem to have a few thousand books that I have not been able to part with so far.... 

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

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. I have always loved the way Lewis Carroll toys with logic and upends language, using both as though they were his own inventions. When I read Alice for the first time, at maybe 12, I had the thrilling feeling of being taken to the extreme edge of what words--and pictures--could do. The only comparable experience I have had was my first time in New York City, which has never stopped seeming magical to me in pretty much the same way.

Book Review

YA Review: The Serpent King

The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner (Crown, $17.99 hardcover, 384p., ages 14-up, 9780553524024, March 8, 2016)

Debut author Jeff Zentner's The Serpent King is the mesmerizing story of three teenage misfits who band together in the Bible Belt town of Forrestville, Tenn.--a place Lydia Blankenship, for one, can't wait to escape when she graduates from high school. Lydia is a social-media maven who's bound for New York and a career in high fashion. Travis Bohannon's brutish father wishes he'd play football, but instead his sensitive son is obsessed with a fantasy series called Bloodfall, and is a sucker for anything with "the whiff of the firelit, ancient, and mysterious." Dillard (nicknamed Dill) Early--the grandson of the snake-obsessed "Serpent King" and son of a snake-handling preacher--is a talented singer-songwriter... and he's on edge.

Dill is so tense because he's living in the shadow of his preacher father, who was jailed three years ago for downloading child pornography. He's also secretly in love with Lydia, who is pushing him to go to college, while his mother wants him to drop out of high school to earn money for the family. His mother says, "You don't need options in life. You need Jesus. Options are fine if you've got them, but we don't." Dill feels he has to lie to his mother about everything, even his CDs that he tells her are Christian bands: New Order, he claims, is "the new order that Christ will create when he returns to Earth and reigns."

Told from a third-person point of view, this riveting novel takes turns zeroing in on each of the three friends as they navigate their families, school bullies, their search for identity and their dreams of a better life. Of the three, Lydia is the only one with supportive parents. Travis's father is a violent drunk--openly ridiculing his son for his "Dracula" clothes, his books, his weird friends, even for baking a cake. Is it possible that Dill and Travis will have a chance to "grow through the rocks and dirt" that their parents have piled on top of them?

Pens would run dry if readers were to underline extraordinary sentences--the kind that are so true, or funny, or beautiful that they clamp hearts. As Lydia blogs, "We live in a series of moments and seasons and sense memories, strung end to end to form a sort of story," and that's how The Serpent King feels. The "pounding, pulsing din" of an oncoming train triggers Dill's flashback to playing guitar in his father's church. Dill remembers that during his river baptism, he felt "free and clean," like he does when he looks into Lydia's eyes. The narrative swirls with the scent of shampoo, the stink of mold, warm evening winds, wood smoke, vultures turning in lazy circles. Zentner sings a song of deep pain and harsh reality, but also of fierce love and hope. And, as Lydia's father reminds his daughter, the friends who would "stand between you and a pack of lions" are the ones who really count. --Karin Snelson, children's & YA editor, Shelf Awareness

Shelf Talker: The son of an imprisoned, snake-handling Tennessee preacher and two other ostracized high school seniors band together in this extraordinary YA debut.

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