Shelf Awareness for Friday, January 26, 2007


Forge: Remembrance by Rita Woods

St. Martin's Press: Big Lies in a Small Town by Diane Chamberlain

Quirk Books: Forking Good: An Unofficial Cookbook for Fans of the Good Place by Valya Dudycz Lupescu and Stephen H Segal, illustrated by Dingding Hu

DC Zoom: Green Lantern: Legacy by Minh Le, illustrated by Andie Tong

Workman Publishing: Halloween Titles by Various - Click here for more information!

News

Notes: Disney/Hyperion Move; Tom Stoppard, Bookseller

Today Oprah makes her first book club pick in a year. The title is a HarperCollins title available in hardcover, trade paperback, large print and audiobook editions.

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Effective July 12, HarperCollins will handle most sales and distribution for Hyperion Books and Disney Book Group to the trade book markets in North America and internationally. Hyperion's and Disney's national account sales teams will continue to cover national accounts. The companies are currently distributed by the Hachette Book Group.

All back office functions including customer service, warehousing, billing and credit will be performed by HarperCollins. The company has hired Mary Beth Thomas as v-p and director of client services (she formerly held a similar position at Simon & Schuster) to oversee the day-to-day relationship with Hyperion and Disney Book Group.

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Who'd have thought it? Tom Stoppard's The Coast of Utopia, which has been running at Lincoln Center since late November, has created a run on Russian Thinkers, the 1978 collection of essays by Isaiah Berlin, today's New York Times reported. One of seven titles recommended in the show's playbill, until recently the book sold about 36 copies a month nationally. It's now unavailable at New York area stores and online. Penguin has done its first reprinting in 12 years and will have more copies available in days.

The other six books, which are also in some demand, are:

  • The Romantic Exiles by E.H. Carr
  • Natasha's Dance: A Cultural History of Russia by Orlando Figes
  • My Past and Thoughts by Alexander Herzen
  • Indiana by George Sand
  • A Sportsman's Sketches by Ivan Turgenev
  • Fathers and Sons by Ivan Turgenev

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NACS's Campus Marketplace has a roundup of state legislators' efforts to restrain textbook prices, which include programs to lend or rent them and exclude them from sales tax.

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Manuel Cunard, formerly director of auxiliary operations and campus services at Wesleyan University who has also worked at Wake Forest, Loyola and Colorado State universities, has become director of the Brown Bookstore, Providence, R.I., and will oversee some major changes at the store, which last year averted a move toward leasing. He replaces longtime director Larry Carr, who resigned.

The Brown Daily Herald reported that booksellers at the store are currently participating in focus groups at which they have suggested such things as an area for children's books and clothing and a "student cooperative" for sales of products made by students.

Cunard is considering moving the textbooks section downstairs, creating a café and upgrading lighting, carpeting and ceilings.

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Sounds like an opportunity.

The Monterey County Weekly laments that, following the closing of a 25-year-old Waldenbooks, B. Dalton Bookseller is the last new or used bookstore in Salinas, Calif. This is the same city, once home to John Steinbeck, that nearly closed its library system.

Apparently city officials and developers have tried to lure Borders and Barnes & Noble to the city, which has a population of 157,000. Its demographics apparently aren't appealing--just 12% of residents 25 or older have a bachelor's degree or higher. More than half of the city's residents speak Spanish at home, and about one third don't speak English competently.

Bookstore proponents say a large store would attract booklovers from around the county and that many Salinas residents now drive to a Borders in Sand City.

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The Pasadena Star-News settles in at Blue Chair Children's Books, Glendora, Calif., a "child-friendly shop [that] caters to kids, moms." The store was bought in December 2005 by Shaelyn Koops and Rachel Rustenburg. "We have it set up that when an employee gets sick, I can bring my kids in and they're not in the way," Koops told the paper. "We're trying to balance our families with our business, but our kids come first."

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The Double Bind by Chris Bohjalian (Shaye Areheart Books/Crown, $25, 9781400047468/1400047463), which has a February 13 pub date, has been chosen as the second Barnes & Noble Recommends. In March, Bohjalian will lead a month-long book club conversation at Barnes & Noble.com.

B&N booksellers choose the selections. The first B&N Recommends was Diane Setterfield's The Thirteenth Tale in September 2006.

B&N called The Double Bind "haunting. . . . Set in Long Island and New England, this psychological thriller--the author's 10th novel--weaves connections to F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby into the mystery at its center."


GP Putnam's Sons: Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid


The Shelf on the Town

'Ku!' At a party held during ALA's midwinter conference last week in Seattle: (l. to r.) Shelf Awareness's own Jenn Risko and John Mutter with Kuo-Yu Liang, v-p, sales and marketing, Diamond Book Distributors. Shelf Awareness, Diamond and Unshelved's Bill Barnes and Gene Ambaum hosted the non-black tie affair at the Shelf's new offices in Pioneer Square a block and a half from Elliott Bay Book Co.

800-CEO-READ is now Porchlight - Click here to learn more!


Media and Movies

Media Heat: Building a Boyfriend with a Desperate Housewife

Today on Good Morning America: desperate housewife Felicity Huffman, co-author with Patricia Wolff of A Practical Handbook for the Boyfriend: For Every Guy Who Wants to Be One/For Every Girl Who Wants to Build One (Hyperion, $22.95, 9781401302917/1401302912).

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Today on the Rachael Ray Show: handyman Eric Stromer, author of Do-It-Yourself Family: Fun and Useful Home Projects the Whole Family Can Make Together (Bantam, $20, 9780553384024/ 0553384023).

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Tonight on 20/20: Robert Pagliarini, author of The Six-Day Financial Makeover: Transform Your Financial Life in Less than a Week! (St. Martin's, $24.95, 9780312353629/0312353626), makes a second appearance on the show.


Book Review

Mandahla: Lately Reviewed


 
"Full moon, first snow sticking to the pavement like confectioner's sugar on a jelly doughnut. After midnight, snow-quiet, and Celeste walking right smack-dab down the middle of Little Indian Creek Road, making a track like a rip in a long roll of gauze bandage." As the story "A Winter's Tale" begins, we meet the first of many characters in a series of linked stories and get a taste of Sara Pritchard's style, a mix of lyrical and quirky. Ranging in time and memory from World War II through Vietnam and to the present, the lives of her Pennsylvania townsfolk merge and diverge with resilience, humor and heartbreak.
 
In "The Lost Pilot," after landing from a flight, Jay rehearses the lie he will tell his fiancée to break their engagement, as he considers the siren call of a new reality. He had dreamed of being a pilot since boyhood, realizing that "In the sky, you were removed from the noise and confusion, the jeering boys and the silly, laughing girls, tossing their shiny ponytails, pursing their pink, wet lips and calling you Jane." Lately, as Jay flew transatlantic flights, he had begun to see history revealed below him--tall boats on the Hudson, Indians paddling canoes, the Spanish Armada crossing the Atlantic, the half-sunken Titanic. Twice his old friend Petrowski, a fellow B-52 pilot from Vietnam, had floated up to the cockpit window. On the evening of his decision, he had seen fire dancers on the wings of the plane. "The heavens were populated, Jay knew that. Lost pilots, lost crews, lost passengers, even the spirits of the drowned . . . roamed the firmament, fluttering around the planes like moths around streetlamps." Now he is at a turning point and wants to be ready.
 
"The Pink Motel" opens with a tour guide in Florence who is thinking about becoming a Roman Catholic, a new chapter in the ongoing process of recreating herself. She thinks that religion might be what she needs: "Maybe salvation, too, buried in the package like a Cracker Jack charm." And a father, "hovering above me day and night like an invisible Goodyear blimp." Her father disappeared when she was six, and she wants to believe that he didn't really desert her and her mother, but had suffered a slight blow to the head, enough to forget his family, "and that he reinvented himself after that event, which my mother and I had done in many ways, too, and which I continue to do throughout my life, going from this thing to that."
 
In other stories, a woman plans a grand party to mark the end of her marriage after her husband leaves her, and her closure speech is a perfect summation of love and loss. A father standing in the powder room of his childhood home remembers his mother's decline, mourns the death of his daughter years earlier and the present life of his son. An apartment building tenant, in her quest to remove a rat from the basement laundry, discovers that a reclusive renter has an amazing secret. In one of the sweetest and saddest tales, "The Christening," Celeste's mother Miriam suffers from dementia. Caring for her is difficult, and Celeste's son Julian indulges his grandmother's fancies, exasperating his mother. But Miriam's benediction over her daughter reveals a deep wisdom that dementia cannot dim.
 
Sara Pritchard has created a memorable cast of people concerned with aging, regrets, who or what to live for, how to be in the world. They are both eccentric and normal, and universal in their situations. Her writing is evocative, reminding you of a time filled with the pink scent of Cashmere Bouquet and the white snap of Chiclets. Often her descriptions are so singular that they will change your perception of something as familiar as a flower: "A scribble of forsythia, and a yellow rose that climbed the wall, then flung itself over it like a convict in a chintz jumpsuit, making a great, if conspicuous escape." Pritchard writes with compassion and verve in this compelling collection.--Marilyn Dahl



Deeper Understanding

Robert Gray: Playing the Bookshop Memory Game Online

You must be able to play "the game" to work in a bookshop, and here's the first rule: When a customer has a specific title request, assume (but never let the customer know you assume) that the information provided is flawed. In any three-word title, at least one word will be incorrect; sometimes two; sometimes all three. I've heard titles that were close (Snow on Shingles for Snow Falling on Cedars) and not so close (Peggy Sue and the House of Hair for Patty Jane's House of Curl).

Decoding misinformation is not, however, a problem for a frontline bookseller; it's one of the pleasures. I was reminded of this once more last weekend, when a customer asked me to help find a book her daughter needed for school. She showed me a slip of paper, on which the "title" was written: Robert Fagles. The solution, reached with relative ease after a few questions, turned out to be the Fagles translation of The Iliad.

That's one way the game is played, though she probably could have found the answer eventually using an online bookstore search option.

But what happens when the request defies intellectual and digital gravity? Shortly before Christmas, I fielded a question from a man frantically scanning his scribbled list of gift suggestions for relatives.

"Do you have any books about Osama Barick," he asked.

I knew, even if he didn't yet, that he must be looking for Barack Obama's bestseller The Audacity of Hope. It was an easy leap of logic for me, but would that answer have come as simply online? A lot of time and money is invested in some very powerful search engines, but even high tech logic often meets its match when confronted with the low tech intangibles of consumer bewilderment and impatience.

What if the gentleman had looked for an answer to his relatively simple, if opaque, request at bookstore Web sites? I conducted a quick experiment to find out.

"Osama Barick" yielded no results at Amazon, Borders, Politics & Prose Bookstore, Powell's Books or Tattered Cover's BookSense.com site. Books about Osama Bin Laden came up as hits at Barnes & Noble and the Northshire Bookstore. Even almighty Google was puzzled by this request.

Perhaps the game, an integral part of bricks-and-mortar bookstore customer interaction, has no equivalent online.

There's a wonderful description of the game in Sheridan Hay's The Secret of Lost Things, which will be published in March. In the bookstore where much of the novel's action occurs, the staff is adept at a game called "Who Knows," loudly pooling their varied and idiosyncratic skills to answer unfathomable requests, such as a customer whose "hands might move apart, as if to say 'it's about this thick.' " Hay writes that "the only reliable source of reference was the staff and their collective memory."  

Memory coupled with well-honed instincts. Often, niceties like author or title won't even be part of a demand. Booksellers must decode clues like "a book I heard about on NPR last month" or "a book that was on display last week over there" or "a book with a red cover my friend bought here."

The "red cover" is a classic. George Orwell wrote about it in his 1936 essay, Bookshop Memories: "For example, the dear old lady who 'wants a book for an invalid' (a very common demand, that), and the other dear old lady who read such a nice book in 1897 and wonders whether you can find her a copy. Unfortunately she doesn't remember the title or the author's name or what the book was about, but she does remember that it had a red cover."

What booksellers really do, on our own or with colleagues, is play tag-team mnemonics. Customers enter the store with raw materials, garnered from conversations, misremembered ads and half-heard radio interviews. They deliver the clues and want rapid, even magical, revelation of the title. They scatter beads across the counter and ask us to hand them back a necklace . . . immediately.

Do they have the same expectations online? I suspect they give up more quickly there.

If the game is being played well virtually, I'd love to know where and how. I've seen little evidence of it in my bookstore Web siteseeing travels. E-mail, listservs and search engines are useful tools, but they are not really the game.

Imagine a bookstore Web site where the game could be played with the ease and frequency of the sales floor version.--Robert Gray (column archives available at Fresh Eyes Now)

 


The Bestsellers

The Book Sense/SCBA List

The following were the bestselling titles during the week ended Sunday, January 21, at member bookstores of the Southern California Independent Booksellers Association as reported to Book Sense:

Hardcover Fiction

1. You Suck by Christopher Moore (Morrow, $21.95, 9780060590291)
2. Sacred Games by Vikram Chandra (HarperCollins, $27.95, 9780061130359)
3. Dust by Martha Grimes (Viking, $25.95, 9780670037865)
4. The Echo Maker by Richard Powers (FSG, $25, 9780374146351)
5. Plum Lovin' by Janet Evanovich (St. Martin's, $16.95, 9780312306342)
6. Hollywood Station by Joseph Wambaugh (Little, Brown, $24.99, 9780316066143)
7. For One More Day by Mitch Albom (Hyperion, $21.95, 9781401303273)
8. What Is the What by Dave Eggers (McSweeney's, $26, 9781932416640)
9. Let the Northern Lights Erase Your Name by Vendela Vida (Ecco, $23.95, 9780060828370)
10. The Collected Stories by Amy Hempel (Scribner, $27.50, 9780743289467)
11. The Terror by Dan Simmons (Little, Brown, $25.99, 9780316017442)
12. House of Meetings by Martin Amis (Knopf, $23, 9781400044559)
13. Him Her Him Again the End of Him by Patricia Marx (Scribner, $24, 9780743296236)
14. Next by Michael Crichton (HarperCollins, $27.95, 9780060872984)
15. The Boleyn Inheritance by Philippa Gregory (Touchstone, $25.95, 9780743272506)

Hardcover Nonfiction

1. The Best Life Diet by Bob Greene (S&S, $26, 9781416540663)
2. The Audacity of Hope by Barack Obama (Crown, $25, 9780307237699)
3. About Alice by Calvin Trillin (Random House, $14.95, 9781400066155)
4. You: On a Diet by Michael F. Roizen, M.D., and Mehmet C. Oz, M.D. (Free Press, $25, 9780743292542)
5. Palestine by Jimmy Carter (S&S, $27, 9780743285025)
6. The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins (Houghton Mifflin, $27, 9780618680009)
7. I Feel Bad About My Neck by Nora Ephron (Knopf, $19.95, 9780307264558)
8. The Proper Care and Feeding of Marriage by Laura C. Schlessinger (HarperCollins, $25.95, 9780061142840)
9. Catching the Big Fish by David Lynch (Tarcher/Penguin, $19.95, 9781585425402)
10. Born on a Blue Day by Daniel Tammet (Free Press, $24, 9781416535072)
11. Red Carpets and Other Banana Skins by Rupert Everett (Warner, $25.99, 9780446579636)
12. The Secret Lives of Men and Women by Frank Warren (ReganBooks, $21.95, 9780061198755)
13. I Like You by Amy Sedaris (Warner, $27.99, 9780446578844)
14. Marley & Me by John Grogan (Morrow, $21.95, 9780060817084)
15. The World Is Flat by Thomas L. Friedman (FSG, $30, 9780374292799)

Trade Paperback Fiction

1. The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards (Penguin, $14, 9780143037149)
2. The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai (Grove, $14, 9780802142818)
3. The History of Love by Nicole Krauss (Norton, $13.95, 9780393328622)
4. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho (HarperSanFrancisco, $13.95, 9780061122415)
5. Arthur & George by Julian Barnes (Vintage, $14.95, 9781400097036)
6. Memories of My Melancholy Whores by Gabriel Garcia Marquez (Vintage, $11.95, 9781400095940)
7. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini (Riverhead, $14, 9781594480003)
8. Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See (Random House, $13.95, 9780812968064)
9. The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon (Penguin, $15, 9780143034902)
10. Wicked by Gregory Maguire (Regan Books, $16, 9780060987107)
11. Snow by Orhan Pamuk (Vintage, $14.95, 9780375706868)
12. March by Geraldine Brooks (Penguin, $14, 9780143036661)
13. Perfume by Patrick Suskind (Vintage, $13.95, 9780307277763)
14. Case Histories by Kate Atkinson (Back Bay, $13.95, 9780316010702)
15. The Lighthouse by P.D. James (Vintage, $13.95, 9780307275738)

Trade Paperback Nonfiction

1. The Worst Hard Time by Timothy Egan (Mariner, $14.95, 9780618773473)
2. Dreams From My Father by Barack Obama (Three Rivers, $14.95, 9781400082773)
3. Zagat Survey: Los Angeles/Southern California Restaurants 2007 (Zagat, $14.95, 9781570068119)
4. The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson (Vintage, $14.95, 9780375725609)
5. The Pursuit of Happyness by Chris Gardner (Amistad, $14.95, 9780060744878)
6. Bad President by R.D. Rosen, Harry Prichett, Rob Battles and James Friedman (Workman, $8.95, 9780761146209)
7. The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls (Scribner, $14, 9780743247542)
8. The Colony by John Tayman (Scribner, $16, 9780743233019)
9. Confessions of an Economic Hit Man by John Perkins (Plume, $15, 9780452287082)
10. The Iraq Study Group Report (Vintage, $10.95, 9780307386564)
11. The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz (Amber-Allen, $12.95, 9781878424310)
12. Collapse by Jared Diamond (Penguin, $17, 9780143036555)
13. The Weather Makers by Tim Flannery (Grove, $15, 9780802142924)
14. A Man Without a Country by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. (Random House, $13.95, 9780812977363)
15. Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer (Anchor, $14.95, 9781400032808)

Mass Market

1. S Is for Silence by Sue Grafton (Berkley, $7.99, 9780425212691)
2. The Lincoln Lawyer by Michael Connelly (Warner, $7.99, 9780446616454)
3. The Last Templar by Raymond Khoury (Signet, $9.99, 9780451219954)
4. The Cat Who Dropped a Bombshell by Lilian Jackson Braun (Jove, $7.99, 9780515142419)
5. The Official Scrabble Players Dictionary, Fourth Edition (Merriam-Webster, $7.50, 9780877799290)
6. The Hunt Club by John Lescroart (Signet, $9.99, 9780451220103)
7. Honeymoon by James Patterson and Howard Roughan (Warner, $7.99, 9780446613378)
8. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger (Warner, $6.99, 9780316769488)
9. Sweetwater Creek by Anne Rivers Siddons (HarperCollins, $9.99, 9780060837013)
10. Mary, Mary by James Patterson (Warner, $9.99, 9780446619035)

Children's Titles

1. Forever in Blue (The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, #4) by Ann Brashares (Delacorte, $18.99, 9780385729369)
2. Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown, illustrated by Clement Hurd (HarperCollins, $7.99, 9780694003617)
3. Charlotte's Web by E.B. White (HarperEntertainment, $7.99, 9780061120268)
4. Eragon by Christopher Paolini (Laurel-Leaf, $6.99, 9780440238485)
5. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling (Scholastic, $9.99, 9780439785969)
6. Pat the Bunny by Dorothy Kunhardt (Golden, $9.99, 9780307120007)
7. Season of the Sandstorms (Magic Tree House Series #34) by Mary Pope Osborne, illustrated by Salvatore Murdocca (Random House, $4.99, 9780375830327)
8. The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Ann Brashares (Delacorte, $6.99, 9780553494792)
9. Kira-Kira by Cynthia Kadohata (Aladdin, $6.99, 9780689856402)
10. The Amulet of Samarkand (The Bartimaeus Trilogy, Book 1) by Jonathan Stroud (Hyperion, $7.99, 9780786852550)
11. The Making of Miss Potter: The Movie by Pearce Garth and Garth Pearce (Frederick Warne and Company, $9.99, 9780723258636)
12. Love You Forever by Robert N. Munsch, illustrated by Sheila McGraw (Firefly, $14.95, 9780920668368)
13. New Moon by Stephenie Meyer (Megan Tingley, $17.99, 9780316160193)
14. The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle (Putnam, $10.99, 9780399226908)
15. Dinosaurs Before Dark (Magic Tree House #1) by Mary Pope Osborne, illustrated by Sal Murdocca (Random House, $3.99, 9780679824114)

[Many thanks to SCIBA and Book Sense!]


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