Shelf Awareness for Monday, November 20, 2006


Atria Books:  Spirit Crossing (Cork O'Connor Mystery #20) by William Kent Krueger

Ballantine Books: Gather Me: A Memoir in Praise of the Books That Saved Me by Glory Edim

Ace Books: Rewitched by Lucy Jane Wood

Graywolf Press: We're Alone: Essays by Edwidge Danticat

St. Martin's Press: Runaway Train: Or, the Story of My Life So Far by Erin Roberts with Sam Kashner

Other Press (NY): Hotline by Dimitri Nasrallah

Delacorte Press: The Midnight Game by Cynthia Murphy

News

If They Hyped It: More Juice Than Substance?

The backlash against O.J. Simpson's If I Did It, his publisher ReganBooks and Fox TV seemed to grow on Friday and over the weekend.

Late last week, Borders and Walden announced they would donate the net proceeds of If I Did It to a "nonprofit organization that benefits victims of domestic violence." (The booksellers are currently reviewing such organizations.) Ann Binkley, director of public relations for Borders Group, said the company will sell the book "because we believe it is the right of customers to decide what to read and what to buy, but we will not discount the title or promote it."

Other booksellers took a similar approach. For example, Michael Herrmann of Gibson's Bookstore, Concord, N.H., was one of many booksellers who added their names to the long list of retailers who would donate profits from the book to an appropriate charity, in Gibson's case, the New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence.

Many booksellers won't stock If I Did It but will special order it. Russ Lawrence, president of the American Booksellers Association and co-owner of Chapter One bookstore in Hamilton, Mont., explained this approach to Reuters, saying, "Free speech is one of our basic values, but I have to say that this book deals with some other values of mine which are in conflict with that. We will order this book for anyone that wants it, but we do not plan to stock it."

One creative suggestion for dealing with the situation came from Rayner Krause of Southern Territory Associates, who wrote that his wife, Kathleen, suggested that "stores that don't want to carry the book could buy a copy and donate it to their local public library. The stores have then fulfilled their obligation to be a conduit to the dissemination of information and yet don't have to support such a distasteful product."

Former bookseller Kuo-Yu Liang, v-p, sales and marketing, at Diamond Book Distributors, said he didn't believe there is necessarily a freedom of expression issue involved with the Simpson book. "Bookstore buyers make decisions everyday on what to stock and not to stock at their store. Reasons for not stocking a title vary, from lack of sales history to bad cover design. So why are we putting a value judgment on a buyer's decision-making process?"

Indeed, a few booksellers have said they simply won't sell the book. As Karen Anna, owner of the Looking Glass bookstore in Portland, Ore., told the Willamette Week, "I'm not going to support that kind of publication. It's a re-creation of a really terrible incident. Whatever the motives of the publisher, it's unconscionable."

Book Passage, Corte Madera and San Francisco, Calif., is another store that won't sell the book. "We were tempted just to keep [If I Did It] under the counter and have it available if people asked," Elaine Petrocelli wrote. "But the more we thought about it, the more disgusted we were about the whole idea."

Book Passage has a slightly different take on donating proceeds to abused women's shelters. Petrocelli noted that she and her husband, Bill, "have been supporting abused women's services for many years," support that has included working with programs and holding events and donating profits of sales to the organizations.

"We often do this for a variety of charities, but we do it with books we love, not books we find disgusting," she explained. "For example, we recently sold 1,500 copies of Barack Obama's Audacity of Hope and donated $2.50 per book to the Marin Education Fund. Last summer, when we sold over 1,200 copies of Al Gore's Earth in the Balance, we donated 10% to the Marin Conservation League."

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The outrage about the book has not abated. Some 96% of booksellers who sell through Abebooks.com and who answered a query about the book said they would not stock the book. Among the responses from 979 booksellers: "It lowers the book industry to a new depth." "O.J. and whoever publishes this crap should be imprisoned." "I do not believe people should be able to profit from their crimes."

Even some Foxes are appalled by the actions of their own company and other News Corp. companies. According to the Guardian, Bill O'Reilly, whose new book is Culture Warrior, has called for a boycott of advertisers on the shows in which Judith Regan interviews Simpson. And Geraldo Rivera called the deal 'appalling' and said he would oppose it. Likewise a handful of the 200 Fox affiliate TV stations across the country have said they won't air the show.

Maybe in the end, few people will buy If I Did It. AbeBooks.com polled visitors on its site about whether they would buy the book and 97% of the 371 respondents indicated they wouldn't do it. Among written responses: "What a mockery of humanity. I hope no one buys this book." And "he and his publisher have no sense of decency."

Weirdly the hyped book may be hyped in a way few realize: it may contain much less than Judith Regan claims, shocking as that concept might be. Simpson's main lawyer, Yale Galanter, who said he was cut out of the deal and doesn't know who dealt with Regan, told Newsweek the whole thing may be what Newsweek called "something of a bait-and-switch. Only one of the seven chapters deals with the murder, [Galanter] says, and nowhere does O.J. admit to killing anyone." (More oddly, Galanter indicated Simpson's four children, including the two he had with Nicole Brown, supposedly approved the deal.)


Watkins Publishing: Fall Into Folklore! ARCS Available On Request


Notes: Wiley to Buy Blackwell Publishing; Kesterson Dies

John Wiley & Sons is buying Blackwell Publishing, the British academic and professional publisher, for slightly more than $1 billion. The deal should close early in 2007.

Blackwell's publishing programs include journals, books and online content in the sciences, technology, medicine,  social sciences and humanities. Blackwell Ltd., the book library service and retailing business, is a separate entity and is not part of the acquisition.

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Librería Cervantes was one of several stores destroyed in a case of arson in a strip mall in Miami, Fla., yesterday, the Miami Herald reported. The fire appears to be one of a series of suspicious fires that have broken out in Little Havana over the past few months.

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Some schools are staging their own book fairs, longtime domain of Scholastic Book Fairs. Today's Boston Globe mentions a school that relied on Porter Square Books, Cambridge, Mass., for stock. Another school turned to BookFairs by BookEnds, an offshoot of BookEnds, the Winchester, Mass., store. BookFairs by BookEnds is putting on 35 school book fairs this fall.  

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Alice Virginia Kesterson, longtime sales director for Random House and owner of Alice, a bookstore in Snow Hill, Md., died last Thursday at home. She was 50 and is survived by her husband, Randy James Ifft. The couple also ran a B&B at Chanceford Hall.

"People can buy bestsellers anywhere," Kesterson said about her store. "I sell the other wonderful new books, titles people can't find anywhere else on the Eastern Shore."

During her 22 years in publishing, she helped build Ballantine/Del Rey/Fawcett and reconfigured the sales force after the company's acquisition by Bertelsmann.

Donations may be made in her memory to the Alice V. Kesterson Memorial Scholarship Fund, care of Taylor Bank, P.O. Box 9, Snow Hill, Md. 21863.

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How to reward customers or what to do with unwanted titles or . . . ?

Small Press Central, which lists small press titles and links to parent Bookworld Companies' Web site, which has more than 5,000 book titles from more than 180 publishers, is offering a free book to buyers, even on orders of just one book. At checkout, customers may select from a list that includes Turbo Protein Diet, Learning How to Learn and other titles.


GLOW: Blue Box Press: In the Air Tonight by Marie Force


Third Quarter: BAM's Sales Bump

In the third quarter ended October 28, net sales at Books-A-Million rose 3.2% to $110.7 million and the net loss was $201,000, greatly reduced from the net loss of $873,000 in the same period a year ago. Net earnings were helped by insurance payments for BAM stores "permanently damaged by hurricanes"--the payments amounted to $86,000 in this year's quarter and $770,000 in last year's quarter.

Sales at stores open at least a year rose 2.3%. The company, which operates 208 stores, will pay a dividend of eight cents a share to shareholders of record as of December 1.

In a prepared statement, Sandra B. Cochran, president and CEO of BAM, said, "Despite the difficult comparable store sales comparison with last year and the distractions of the political season, we were able to deliver solid results. The fourth quarter bestseller lineup is solid, and we are focused on executing our merchandising and marketing plans for the holiday season."


Carolrhoda Lab (R): They Thought They Buried Us by Nonieqa Ramos


New York Times Anecdotal Most-Stolen List Stolen

Here's an item stolen in its entirety from yesterday's New York Times Book Review:

"STICKY FINGERS: The Times polling department does not, alas, compile a 'most stolen books' list. But if it did, anecdotal evidence suggests that many works by the writers talked about in this issue (especially Charles Bukowski) would be on it somewhere, along with the Bible and books about finding jobs. What kinds of things are sticky-fingered readers removing from stores in late 2006? George S. Leibson, an owner of Coliseum Books in Manhattan [which is closing later this year], cites cookbooks and expensive art books, as well as books about sex. ('Some people are just too embarrassed to buy those.') Paul Ingram, the buyer for Prairie Lights Books in Iowa City, observes that while science fiction is often said to vanish ('a lot of people who like it are 13 and have no money'), the sections with the most shrinkage in his store are simply those farthest from the cash register.

"At a major independent bookstore in Seattle, the senior buyer said graphic novels, as well as books about the Beats and tattoos, disappear pretty often. He added, interestingly, that the enigmatic novels of the Japanese writer Haruki Murakami have begun to disappear at a fast clip. His explanation: 'In his own way, Murakami is a subversive writer with an outlaw sensibility. His characters have this Everyman thing going on, but they are also working against the grain.' "


Media and Movies

Media Heat: Mind Wars, Mindless Eating

This morning on the Today Show: Daniel Boulud, celebrated chef and author of Braise: A Journey through International Cuisine (Ecco, $32.50, 0060561718).

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This morning on the Early Show: Janet Pelasara, author of Love You More: The Taylor Behl Story (ReganBooks, $24.95, 0061145955).

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Today on WAMU's Diane Rehm Show: Jonathan Moreno, author of Mind Wars: Brain Research and National Defense (Dana Press, $23.95, 1932594167).

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Today on the CBS Evening News: Brian Wansink, Ph.D., author of Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More than We Think (Bantam, $25, 0553804340), who is also scheduled to appear on the Geraldo Live today.

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Tonight on the Late Show with David Letterman: Ritch Shydner, editor of the collection I Killed: True Stories of the Road from America's Top Comics (Three Rivers Press, $23.95, 0307341992).


Books & Authors

Book Sense: May We Recommend

From last week's Book Sense bestseller lists, available at booksense.com, here are the recommended titles, which are also Book Sense Picks:

Hardcover

The Ghost Map: The Story of London's Most Terrifying Epidemic--And How It Changed Science, Cities, and the Modern World by Steven Johnson (Riverhead, $26.95, 1594489254). "Johnson's vivid history of Victorian London's cholera epidemic of 1854 describes a rapidly growing city beset with suffering, and it tells the story of the struggle to overcome entrenched 'wisdom' in order better to understand disease and public health. A tribute to pioneering medical and scientific research and a fascinating look at how people and societies often cling to false ideas."--Will Peters, Annie Bloom's Books, Portland, Ore.

Rain Village: A Novel by Carolyn Turgeon (Unbridled, $24.95, 1932961240). "Carolyn Turgeon has written a captivating first novel that I read straight through in one sitting. Her unique voice reminded me of Gabriel Garcia Marquez as she weaved the story of a remarkable young woman who finds her future in her friend's past. Original and beautiful."--Sally Brewster, Park Road Books, Charlotte, N.C.

Paperback

The World to Come: A Novel by Dara Horn (Norton, $13.95, 0393329062). "With the theft of a million-dollar Chagall painting, Horn takes the reader back to a Jewish orphanage in 1920s Russia and follows the painting and those attached to it to the suburbs of New Jersey, to Vietnam, and back to the Museum of Hebraic Art. She weaves a tale of unimaginable tragedy, haunting beauty, and simple imagery, just like the painting itself."--Janet Bollum, The Muse Book Shop, Deland, Fla.

For Younger Children

Ninety-Three in My Family by Erica S. Perl, illustrated by Mike Lester (Abrams, $15.95, 0810957604). "Families with pets of any type or number will enjoy this raucous picture book. Can you imagine living with 27 owls, 11 dogs, 10 cats, six goldfish and a carsick gerbil? And that's just the beginning. It's a madhouse, and everyone will enjoy a visit."--Lorna Ruby, Wellesley Booksmith, Wellesley, Mass.

Truman's Loose Tooth by Kristine Wurm, illustrated by Michael Chesworth (Spirited, $16.95, 097685130X). "This delightful, coming-of-age book focuses on the very real, physical aspect of growing older--a boy losing his first tooth. With fresh and fun illustrations, this is a wonderful book to share with young children to help them prepare for that moment."--Candy Pearson, Apple Blossom Books, Oshkosh, Wis.

[Many thanks to Book Sense and the ABA!]


Mandahla: Mystery Muses, It's a Bitter Little World Reviewed

Mystery Muses: 100 Classic That Inspire Today's Mystery Writers by Jim Huang and Austin Lugar (Crum Creek Press, $15, 096258049X, November 1, 2006)
 
Jim Huang, Crum Creek Press publisher and owner of the Mystery Company bookstore in Carmel, Ind., and co-author Austin Lugar asked 100 mystery writers, "Did a mystery set you on your path to being a writer? Is there a classic mystery that remains important to you today?" What they gathered in this essay collection is an entertaining and indispensable bibliography for mystery fans. It's fun to read about old favorites (and have your taste confirmed): Carole Nelson Douglas chooses Miss Pym Disposes by Josephine Tey and explains why this novel abides in "Olympian isolation" with Sayers' Gaudy Night: "Tey's novels are razor-sharp psychological studies, neither thrillers nor cozies. They seek the skull beneath the grin." Or Harley Jane Kozak on The Eight by Katherine Neville ("it was love at first chapter."); Tim Cockey on Time's Witness by the marvelous Michael Malone ("What Malone pulls off in this book is enviable beyond belief. [He] showed me what a good mystery is all about.") Part of the enjoyment is reading about early book experiences and recapturing some of that thrill. Mary Anna Evans writes, "When I hear the world 'library,' I feel an air conditioner blast out air with that peculiar bookmobile smell. (I think it was the ink for the machine that stamped the due date in each book.)" Mystery aficionados will find new titles to read and familiar titles to re-read.
 
It's a Bitter Little World by Charles Pappas (Writer's Digest Books, $12.99, 1582973873, October 2005)
 
Charles Pappas' compilation is subtitled "The Smartest Toughest Nastiest Quotes from Film Noir" and begins with a noir-ish declaration: "Dedications are for pussies. They're always the same Cinnabon of schmaltz, an FTD bouquet of wuv." He then mentions an ex-wife who "graduated sum cum maraud from The Killing's finishing school for female biohazards." The tone is set, and the dialogue delivers, from Humphrey Bogart to Elisha Cook to Sean Penn--sexy, brutal, and funny:
 
Farewell, My Lovely (1975 version), Philip Marlowe: "She was giving me the kind of look I could feel in my hip pocket."
 
The Glass Key, Rusty: "My first wife was a second cook on a third-rate joint on Fourth Street."
 
Double Indemnity, Walter Neff: "I never knew that murder could smell like honeysuckle."
 
The Big Lebowski, Jackie Treehorn and the Dude:

"You know, people forget that the brain is the biggest erogenous zone."
"On you maybe."

Pappas includes a chapter with original noir dialogue from movies that never were. Pat Sajak offers, for The Letters of the Law:
 
Freckles: I didn't mean it, baby.
Max: Sure, doll . . . and I don't mean this.
Freckles: Oh, no! Not a Z on a triple letter score!
 
The jacket description mentions cigarette-burn dialogue and a saxophone on a rainy night when you can't sleep. It's all that plus wicked humor, and goes very well with a shot of bourbon, ennui back.--Marilyn Dahl



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