Shelf Awareness for Tuesday, February 14, 2017


G.P. Putnam's Sons: The Editor by Steven Rowley

Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers: Five Feet Apart by Rachel Lippincott with Mikki Daughtry and Tobias Iaconis

Ballantine Books: Lost Roses by Martha Hall Kelly

Central Avenue Publishing: Pickle's Progress by Marcia Butler

Bitter Lemon Press: Evil Things by Katja Ivar

Delacorte Press: Song for a Whale by Lynne Kelly

Quotation of the Day

'A Book Always Holds the Reminder of the Organic World'

"Well, I love all the ways of reading. The more the better. But I naturally prefer the form of the book. We've loved it for centuries, and no wonder: Look at it; its always-opening-to-something, its two wings, its two sides making one form, its act of opening us as we open it--you can't 'open' a screen like you can literally open a book. And a book always holds the reminder of the organic world, the trees that went to make it--and the word 'spine' was originally used for the spine of the book because of the spine of the creatures whose skins were once used to bind books, the place where the skin folded over the creature's own spine. That's how close to the process of life, death, time, growth and oxygen the form of the book is."

--Ali Smith, author most recently of Autumn, in the New York Times Book Review's "By the Book" feature

Oxford University Press: Armies of Deliverance: A New History of the Civil War by Elizabeth R. Varon


News

Amazon Books to Open in Walnut Creek, Calif.

Amazon's Seattle bookstore

Amazon has confirmed plans to open a ninth bookstore, in Walnut Creek, Calif., in the Bay Area, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. Amazon has opened Amazon Books locations in Seattle, San Diego and near Portland, Ore. It has announced branches in Chicago, New York City, Paramus, N.J., and two near Boston.

The Walnut Creek store will be at Broadway Plaza, an open-air shopping center. The only indie in the town of 64,000 is used/collectible/rare bookseller Swan's Fine Books, whose owner, Laurelle Swan, told the newspaper she wasn't surprised by the announcement because "there is definitely a need in Walnut Creek for a place to buy new books.... I was sorry that an independent bookstore had not opened to fill that need, but running an independent shop is very difficult in an area with high rents--which is why my shop is off the beaten track, around the side of our building."

During a conference call (transcript courtesy of Seeking Alpha) with stock analysts earlier this month about fourth-quarter results, Amazon chief financial officer Brian T. Olsavsky said the company plans to open five bookstores this year and commented on its various bricks-and-mortar ventures, "We're still in that phase where we're testing and learning and getting better, even on the bookstore. I would say there's other things that are physical in nature, the pop-up stores and college pickup points that we learn from as well, and think creates a great value particularly at the college pickup points."

He also confirmed the importance of the many devices on display in the company's bookstores, saying, "We test, we innovate, we think the bookstores for instance are a really great way for customers to engage with our devices and see them, touch them, play with them and become fans. So we see a lot of value in that as well."


Ecco Press: White Elephant by Julie Langsdorf


BookExpo: Children's Book & Author Breakfast Lineup Set

The lineup has been announced for the BookExpo Children's Book & Author Breakfast, which will be held Friday, June 2. The event will be hosted by Savannah Guthrie, co-anchor of NBC's Today and chief legal correspondent for NBC News. She will also discuss her new young readers' book, Princesses Wear Pants, which was co-written with Allison Oppenheim and illustrated by Eva Byrne.

Guest speakers for this year's Children's Book & Author Breakfast are Jason Reynolds, who will talk about three forthcoming works--YA Spider-Man novel Miles Morales as well as novels Patina and Long Way Down; Marieke Nijkamp, founding member of We Need Diverse Books, discussing her new YA novel Before I Let Go; and Jennifer Weiner talking about her middle grade book Little Bigfoot, Big City. ReedPOP also noted that it will reveal "an exciting addition to this already impressive list of speakers in the near future."

"Our Children's Book & Author Breakfast is one of the most anticipated events of the show each year, attracting a large audience looking to discover breakout talent in the world of children's and young adult literature. We have an amazing lineup of established stars and emerging authors who are sure to offer an unforgettable morning of conversation," said Brien McDonald, event director of BookExpo.


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PEN America to Honor Sondheim, Sargent

PEN America will honor composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim and Macmillan CEO John Sargent during the organization's annual gala April 25 in New York City.

Sondheim, who will receive the PEN/Allen Foundation Literary Service Award, was cited for dedicating much of his time to nurturing young writers and composers, as well as for founding Young Playwrights Inc. PEN America president and author Andrew Solomon said "Sondheim's oeuvre is profoundly literary in its elegiac reaching for the truth of who we are, how we love, and how we strive to locate meaning in our work. He will be the first composer-lyricist to receive this award, which recognizes his nuanced insight into human character. His support for a new generation of writers makes him a literary citizen of the first order."

Sargent is being recognized as a "fierce advocate of the right to publish and a defender of publishers' and authors' intellectual property rights." PEN America executive director Suzanne Nossel commented: "A pillar of the publishing world, John Sargent personally embodies the intellectual rigor, integrity, and public-mindedness that make publishing a noble profession. His leadership in the industry has served editors, writers, readers, and booksellers alike, bolstering the strength of our community for more than three decades."


G.P. Putnam's Sons: Fifty Things That Aren't My Fault: Essays from the Grown-Up Years by Cathy Guisewite


Obituary Note: Richard B. Wright

Canadian novelist Richard B. Wright, who "published over 15 books during his illustrious career, including the novels Nightfall, The Age of Longing and In the Middle of a Life," died February 7, CBC News reported. He was 79. Wright's best known novel, Clara Callan, won the 2001 Giller Prize (now known as the Scotiabank Giller Prize), the 2001 Governor General's Literary Award for fiction and the 2002 Trillium Book Award. His memoir, A Life with Words, was released in 2015. Wright became a member of the Order of Canada in 2007.

Iris Tupholme of HarperCollins Canada, which published Wright's work for two decades, described him as "a generous and gracious person, a stylist and a person of great wisdom and empathy for his characters, particularly for women."


Wi12: Large-Scale Events

Participants at the Winter Institute panel Take Your Show on the Road: Managing Large Scale Events, moderated by Annie Philbrick of Bank Square Books, Mystic, Conn., and Savoy Bookshop & Cafe, Westerly, R.I., offered a thorough consideration of the challenges and rewards of putting on large events. Among the highlights:

The reasons for doing large-scale offsite events include increased publicity, financial benefits, finding new audiences, "bragging rights" and an enhanced community connection, Robert McDonald of the Book Stall at Chestnut Court, Winnetka, Ill. (Check out a pic of one its events in Image of the Day, below.)

He and others on the panel stressed that partnering with another organization or venue that specializes in events usually makes logistics easier and helps expand the audience. But the downside is that an event may be perceived more as the host's event than the bookstore's.

When renting a location, the bookstore has greater control and it's easier to bundle--make a seat purchase include a copy of the book--which McDonald said he likes to call "a book per butt."

In-store large-scale events can be tricky because of space limitations, but logistics are usually easier, and have the advantage of introducing all attendees to the store.

The Book Stall has a long track record of hosting events, so that makes it easier to get the authors it wants, McDonald noted; he recommended that stores without such a track record be "outstanding with smaller events," which can impress publishers, and "support rising talent." He recalled that "an unknown YA author" asked the Book Stall to host a release party because it was near Northwestern University, where she was a student, and she wanted to bring friends. The store held the event. Turned out the author was Veronica Roth and the book Divergent. Because of that, McDonald said, "When we submit an event for Veronica Roth, we're in the running."

He also recommended forming relationships with a variety of organizations, churches, schools and more.

Among his quick tips:

  • "Always bring more staff to an event than you think you need. You'll always need them."
  • Document events with photos that show not just the author but the crowd and lines.
  • Have a "line cheerleader" to check in with people on line, ask how it's going and chat a minute.

Greenlight Bookstore, with two locations in Brooklyn, N.Y., uses two major offsite venues: the Brooklyn Academy of Music, which offers spaces with 200 to 2,100 seats, and St. Joseph's College, which has a 350-seat auditorium.

Among the advantages of BAM, according to Greenlight co-owner Jessica Stockton Bagnulo, are that it has "top-notch production and marketing," larger spaces and buys bundled books in bulk, but it can be booked up far in advance and has "a nonprofit tradition."

At the smaller site, booking is simple and Greenlight controls the format and ticketing, and can charge lower prices. Challenges include being limited to a smaller space and "being on our own for marketing."

Among her quick tips:

  • Pitch events with publicists as soon as you can so that they get on the calendar early.
  • Make sure ticket sales can be done efficiently and easily. Greenlight uses Brown Paper Tickets, which collects the money and provides scannable bar codes for admission.

Nicola's Books, Ann Arbor, Mich., has a relationship with the Michigan Theater and sponsors one of its programs, Not Just for Kids Series, and other events, Lynn Pellerito Riehl said.

The Theater has "a slew of volunteers" that Nicola's uses to help with lines. Unlike many stores, during the signing part of events, Nicola's asks people to remain in their seats and get up by sections "so they don't wait in line whole time," Riehl said.

She advised having "a bad cop" next to the author to make sure people follow the requirements of the signing rather than leaving it up to the author to manage.

A missing or late author, of course, can potentially ruin an event, but Riehl recounted how Nicola's saved and even enhanced an event involving a late author. Neil Gaiman's flight from San Francisco was delayed the morning of his event, but he was determined to make the trip. He and the store were in touch regularly, and Nicola's updated customers about the delays and postponed the event from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. "We told people, 'You have a seat, go out to dinner and come back,' " Riehl said. Gaiman did a longer show than usual and signed 200 books, the last at 3:15 a.m. "Everyone felt good," Riehl added.


Notes

Image of the Day: Launching Loving Bravely

More than 100 people gathered at the Book Stall in Winnetka, Ill., this past weekend to celebrate the launch of Loving Bravely: 20 Lessons of Self-Discovery to Help You Get the Love You Want (New Harbinger) by Dr. Alexandra Solomon (standing, in the bright magenta dress).


Taylor Books Voted 'Best Bookstore' in West Virginia

Readers of West Virginia Living voted Taylor Books in Charleston the "Best Bookstore" in the state in the magazine's fourth annual Best of West Virginia Awards. WV Living wrote: "Known to Charlestonians as 'Taylor's,' this downtown storefront is many things to many people: coffee shop, meeting space, music venue, art gallery, art studio, and, soon, indie movie theater. But the printed word is still king at Taylor Books. Visitors will find a wide selection of new titles and classics along with a well-stocked magazine rack. When it's time to make room for new reads, the used book section allows customers to trade in their old tomes for store credit."


Cool Problem of the Day: Locked in a Bookshop

Oliver Soskice, 69, was locked in a Waterstones in Cambridge, England, for about an hour and 20 minutes yesterday, according to the Mirror. He was "perusing the upstairs sections" when the store closed at 7 p.m.

"I was upstairs, I was looking for something," he said later. "I half noticed the place was particularly quiet, but it didn't strike me as odd. But then when I came down, there was an unearthly silence and then I realised I'd locked myself in."

He tried triggering the store's alarms and contacted police, who in turn contacted store management. A manager came and released him.

A fan of philosophy and art, Soskice added, "There are worse places to be trapped than in a Waterstones."


Powell's BOOX: New Picture Book Subscription Service

Powell's Books, Portland, Ore., has launched BOOX, a subscription book program for picture books. It expands on the store's current subscription program, Indiespensable, which has been shipping signed first edition hardcover titles every 6-8 weeks for nine years. BOOX gathers one hardcover picture book, another hardcover staff favorite and "a surprise goody," all chosen by Powell's kids' team, for $35.95 per shipment. Volume one, shipping on March 8, features Not Quite Narwhal by Jessie Sima (Simon & Schuster). BOOX has a limited number of subscriptions available. More information is available here.


Consortium Adds Five Publishers

Effective January 1, Consortium Book Sales & Distribution is adding five publishers for the spring 2017 season:

Animal Media Group, Pittsburgh, Pa., is a video producer and book publishing company that releases five to eight books from various authors and several documentaries of variable lengths annually. (Effective September 1, 2016.)

Cassava Republic Press, Abuja, Nigeria, was founded in 2006 to discover and develop contemporary African writers such as Teju Cole, Lola Shoneyin and Helon Habila. It publishes a wide range of fiction and nonfiction for adults and children, and is seeking to expand its reach in the U.S.

Hoxton Mini Press, London, England, works with emerging and established artists to create collectible photography books with an emphasis on urban culture. One upcoming title is Badly Repaired Cars, with photographs of cars so shoddily held together by tape, plastic and glue that they become abstract art.

Transit Books, Oakland, Calif., was founded in 2015 to discover and promote cross-cultural literary ties between foreign writers and American audiences. It also organizes community programs in the Bay Area.

Iron Circus Comics, Chicago, Ill., is a publisher of alternative comics founded in 2007. It pioneered the use of Kickstarter pre-orders and bonuses, models now used by many other small and mid-sized comics publishers.



Media and Movies

Media Heat: George Saunders on Colbert's Late Show

Tomorrow:
The Real: Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin, authors of Rest in Power: The Enduring Life of Trayvon Martin (Spiegel & Grau, $26, 9780812997231).

Late Show with Stephen Colbert: George Saunders, author of Lincoln in the Bardo: A Novel (Random House, $28, 9780812995343).


TV: Anne

In a "clever teaser" for Anne, the Netflix adaptation of L.M. Montgomery's classic Anne of Green Gables books, "the famous literary orphan (Amybeth McNulty) joins the streaming service's squad of redheaded stars," ranging from The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt's Kimmy to Barb from Stranger Things, Indiewire reported. The cast also includes Geraldine James and R.H. Thomson. The eight-part series will be released May 12.

Books & Authors

Awards: LARB/UCR Lifetime Achievement

Ngugi wa Thiong'o will be honored with the second annual Los Angeles Review of Books/UCR Creative Writing Lifetime Achievement Award, which will be presented on Thursday, during Writers Week at the University of California, Riverside.

The Review and school wrote that "Ngugi has been publishing dynamic work since the 1960s. Known for writing primarily in his native tongue, Gikuyu, Ngugi has written more than 25 works, which have been translated into more than 30 languages. His work is the subject of many books, critical monographs, and dissertations and he is the recipient of many honors, including the 2001 Nonino International Prize for Literature and ten honorary doctorates. He is frequently rumored to be on the short list for the Nobel Prize."


Book Review

Review: The Idiot

The Idiot by Elif Batuman (Penguin Press, $27 hardcover, 432p., 9781594205613, March 14, 2017)

Things were perhaps simpler in the '90s--almost quaint. When Selin Karada, the slightly off-plumb narrator of Elif Batuman's first novel, The Idiot, enters Harvard mid-decade, e-mail is a curious new way to communicate and Facebook is just a Zuckerberg dream. With characteristic wonder and metaphysical musing, she is enthralled: "Each message contained the one that had come before, and so your own words came back to you--it was like the story of your relations with others." The daughter of ambitious Turkish immigrants, Selin was an academic star in her New Jersey high school, but at Harvard "you were now a little fish in a big sea." But she dives into the rich curriculum, choosing courses in Russian linguistics, art cinema and world literature, meanwhile dealing with quirky roommates, renting obscure movies and fearlessly running along the Charles River with her Walkman blasting They Might Be Giants in her ears.

Tall and socially awkward, Selin nurtures a romance by e-mail with Ivan, the older Hungarian from her Russian class, yet she knows herself well enough to recognize that "I was just an American teenager--the world's least interesting and dignified kind of person." Nonetheless, she soldiers on, taking a job teaching ESL to immigrants in Boston, reading classics like "Bleak House, which was as simultaneously absorbing and off-putting as someone else's incredibly long dream," and signing up for a summer travel program providing English skills to children in Hungarian villages--with the vague plan to see Ivan there and meet his family and friends.

A staff writer at the New Yorker, Batuman first explored some of the themes of The Idiot in her well-regarded first book, The Possessed: Adventures with Russian Books and the People Who Read Them. With the titles of both clearly reflecting her fascination with Dostoevsky, they are nonetheless rooted in the language and optimism of the United States. Describing a year of discovering oneself, The Idiot is half The Education of Henry Adams and half Innocents Abroad. Twain would have savored Selin's first international trip to Paris, Hungary and Turkey (one that begins with flight attendants showing "how we could use our seat cushions to float around on the Atlantic Ocean"), chuckling at her description of the weeks in Hungary: "Hungary felt increasingly like reading War and Peace: new characters came up every five minutes... and you had to pay attention to them for a time, even though you might never see them again." And Adams surely would have applauded Selin's frustration with traditional learning, where she "read hundreds, thousands of pages of the distilled ideas of the great thinkers of human history and nothing happened." Instead she grows wise having morning coffee among commuters in a Boston transit station "where people were working and staying awake and trying to accomplish things, which was the point of coffee." Our first footsteps into adulthood are often memorable. Taking them in Selin's shoes is an entertaining, intellectual journey not to be missed. --Bruce Jacobs, founding partner, Watermark Books & Cafe, Wichita, Kan.

Shelf Talker: Batuman's splendid debut novel features the astute narrator Selin, who embarks on her first year at Harvard and a summer abroad with wit, humility and an offbeat take on life in the mid-'90s.


The Bestsellers

Top-Selling Self-Published Titles

The bestselling self-published books last week as compiled by IndieReader.com:

1. Billionaire Unknown by J.S. Scott
2. The Knight by Skye Warren
3. Good Boy by Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy
4. Egomaniac by Vi Keeland
5. Moonlight Prince by Karpov Kinrade
6. Alec Halsey Mysteries by Lucinda Brant
7. The Pawn by Skye Warren
8. Crown of Lies by Pepper Winters
9. How to Date a Douchebag by Sara Ney
10. Full Package by Lauren Blakely

[Many thanks to IndieReader.com!]


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