Shelf Awareness for Tuesday, June 5, 2007


Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers: Roxy by Neal Shusterman and Jarrod Shusterman

Shadow Mountain: Missing Okalee by Laura Ojeda Melchor

Sharjah Publishing City Free Zone: Start your entrepreneurial journey with affordable packages, starting from $1,566

Candlewick Press: Mi Casa Is My Home by Laurenne Sala, illustrated by Zara González Hoang

Mountains & Plains Independent Booksellers Association: We're throwing a bookselling party and you're invited!

Big Picture Press: Art of Protest: Creating, Discovering, and Activating Art for Your Revolution by De Nichols

Callaway Arts & Entertainment: The Beatles: Get Back by The Beatles, photographed by Linda McCartney

St. Martin's Press: The Christie Affair by Nina De Gramont

News

Notes: Staffer to Buy Front Street Shop; Boku Takes on Reps

Peg Patten, a staff member for several years at Front Street Book Shop, Scituate Harbor, Mass., is buying the store from Pam Giovannini, the owner for more than 20 years. In a note to NEIBA members, Giovannini said she had put Front Street up for sale because her "husband has retired after 36 years of teaching; there are grandchildren and family with whom to spend time; some serious gardening to do; and health considerations that made it clear the time was right.

"These years have brought great pleasure, giving me the opportunity to be surrounded by books and book lovers, both in the shop and the industry and, indeed, the people are what has made every day so special," she continued.

Giovannini called Patten "qualified, dedicated and enthusiastic. She has brought energy and excitement to the shop as events coordinator, and has worked diligently in all areas of the shop's operation."

Front Street Book Shop is located at 165 Front St., Scituate Harbor, Mass. 02066-1314; 781-545-5011; frontstreetbookshop.com.

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Boku Books, which makes high-quality journals and notebooks from recycled paper and alternative fiber, has hired Wendy Werris as national sales director. Werris, best known around here for her memoir, An Alphabetical Life, which was excerpted last fall in Shelf Awareness, has assembled a team of rep groups to cover the country: George Carroll/Redsides Publishing Services in Washington, Oregon, Alaska, Montana and Idaho; Book Travelers West in California, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and Hawaii; Abraham Associates in the Midwest; Southern Territory Associates in the South and Southeast; and Chesapeake & Hudson in the Mid-Atlantic and New England.

Boku Books was launched in 2001 by printers Marian O'Brien and Keith Whitaker and has its headquarters in Eastsound, Wash. Until now, the company's sales efforts consisted mainly of appearances at many regional book and trade shows around the country.

Editor's note: Do check out Boku: its products are beautiful.

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Congratulations!

This Thursday the Book Blues Bookstore, Marine City, Mich., begins a three-day celebration of its one-year anniversary with an evening wine tasting, seminar and signing with Joe Borrello, president of the International Taster's Guild. Friday the bookstore will host a book-related scavenger hunt and a reading and signing with children's author Aunt Judy whose new book is Chickens in the Know (McEwen). On Saturday, the store is hosting a signing with Roger LeLievre, author and editor of the Know Your Ships series. "We tried to plan a mix of events that will reach across all age ranges and interests," said Jacqueline Wilson, who owns the store with her husband, Todd.

The store stocks 12,000 gently used and new books and offers events and signings focusing on local authors, Great Lakes shipping, Michigan and area history. Marine City is on the St. Clair River northeast of Detroit on the border with Canada. "When we opened, we wanted to be more than just a bookstore," Wilson said. "We wanted to expose people to new and interesting things--whether it's a new author, a new genre or new music from the eclectic mix that we play. We also wanted to be a hub of community information. In just one short year, I think we've accomplished those things."

The Book Blues Bookstore is located at 102 Broadway St., Marine City, Mich. 48039; 810-765-8111. The web site is thebookblues.com.

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Visitors to BookExpo America explored the future--both long-term and immediate--of books. But the Hay Festival in Wales last week revisited the past when it was announced that George Orwell's 1984 had been named the "definitive book of the 20th century."

According to Guardian Unlimited Books, which conducted a national online survey, the choice indicates that "Paranoia, propaganda and a state of perpetual war are the defining characteristics of the last century." The top 10 finalists included Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness and Bridget Jones's Diary by Helen Fielding.

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The Book Industry Study Group, in cooperation with the AAP, is forming a Digital Standards Committee that aims to develop standards for online discovery, browsing, search and distribution of books and related content in digital form. The committee is beginning work this month, and all members of BISG are invited to participate. The committee will include experts from all parts of the U.S. and international book industries.

BISG noted that "a multiplicity of rules and interfaces, many of them proprietary, make it hard to exchange content simply and cost-effectively, and the lack of widely accepted standards make distributing digital content unnecessarily complex and inefficient."

The Committee will start work using a briefing paper, requirements and draft specification that were developed within AAP to serve as frameworks for further work.

For more information and to join the Digital Standards Committee, contact BISG executive director Michael Healy at michael@bisg.org.

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Talia Ross has been promoted to library marketing director, adult trade, at Holtzbrinck Publishers. Since joining the company in 2004, she has built up the library department, which markets titles both from the company's adult publishers and its distribution lines to libraries.

Byron Echeverria has been promoted to associate director, academic marketing, at Holtzbrinck Publishers.

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Derek Lawrence, who has experience publishing, as a rep and at Tattered Cover, is joining Fulcrum Publishing, Golden, Colo., as associate publisher in the fall and will, among other responsibilities, head sales and marketing.

"To hone in on its core product lines--Western culture, public policy, environment and lifestyle books--and to reach out to the special and direct sales markets in each of those areas," Fulcrum has made the following changes:

  • George Ecarma, eastern sales manager for Fulcrum for the past two years and formerly a buyer for Baker & Taylor, has been appointed national book trade manager.
  • Ingrid Estell has been appointed special and direct sales manager for the Western culture, environment and public policy lines. The company’s western sales manager for the last year and a half, she earlier worked for Mountain Press Publishing and taught at Northern Arizona University.

The company has also made changes in its marketing department:

  • Karen Iker is joining the company as direct and special marketing coordinator. She has more than 10 years of marketing experience in the book industry, most recently with the Brookings Institution Press.
  • Melissa Ramey, who has been in publishing for 13 years and was previously marketing director at Fulcrum, has recently returned to the company to manage subsidiary rights.
  • Shannon Hassan, formerly a corporate attorney in the New York office of Arnold & Porter, is sales and marketing coordinator.
  • Erin Palmiter, a recent graduate of the Denver Publishing Institute, is media coordinator.
  • Michelle Baldwin remains events coordinator.


Berkley Books: Good Rich People by Eliza Jane Brazier


BEA: ABA Annual and Town Meetings

At the American Booksellers Association's town and annual meetings, which were mild in tone compared to those a year ago, CEO Avin Domnitz said that the association "has moved the ball forward on a lot of fronts." He called the last year "a great year."

The ABA is in the final phase of developing a new five-year strategic plan, which, as Domnitz said, is "what we live and die by." After canvassing many members and collecting nearly 500 questionnaires, the ABA will be writing the document in July. The current strategic plan ends in September.

Members want, Domnitz continued, "more and more education and information. They loved the Winter Institute and the Day of Education and want more." They also want to want to know more about "the role of technology."

Domnitz said booksellers "still support Book Sense but very gingerly have said to us that Book Sense is seven years old and needs invigoration and new graphics and maybe even a new name." He added that the association hopes to introduce a reworked Book Sense next year.

The ABA has just relaunched its own website, which dates to 1995, and is working on a redesign of the Book Sense website with the idea of "making our online presence more robust," as president Russ Lawrence, co-owner of Chapter One Book Store, Hamilton, Mont., put it. The association website is "much more user friendly" now and the search function has been improved, he said.

Booksellers expressed their support for having the Hotel ABA in Brooklyn during BEA and for holding the Day of Education there. Carole Horne of the Harvard Bookstore, Cambridge, Mass., called it all "a great idea." The sentiment, as Russ Lawrence suggested, could be summed up in a headline like "No Bronx cheer for Brooklyn!"

Domnitz added that the Day of Education attracted 700 people, and overall at least 1,000 booksellers were in Brooklyn. Had the association stayed in Manhattan, higher costs would have resulted in only "200-250 coming," he estimated.

Among issues raised from the floor by booksellers was Baker & Taylor's work with libraries to sell directly to readers. Several of the lawyer-booksellers present said that the program was perfectly legal if not particularly sensitive to booksellers. Another question involved chains selling books before laydown or on-sale dates. The ABA's David Walker emphasized that the association works with publishers on such issues and noted the difference between laydown dates, which aren't strict about when a book may or may not be sold, and on-sale dating, which is strict.

Vice president Gayle Shanks, co-owner of Changing Hands, Tempe, Ariz., reviewed membership statistics. While noting a decline in bookstore membership to 1,580 from 1,660, she observed that this represented the loss of some 200 bookstores, some of which closed, partly compensated for by openings. "There are a lot of energetic young booksellers in the business, and it's exciting," she said.

In elections, Cathy Langer of the Tattered Cover, Denver, Colo., was re-elected to the board of directors while Steve Bercu of BookPeople, Austin, Tex., and Tom Campbell of the Regulator Bookshop, Durham, N.C., were welcomed as new members. The membership warmly thanked outgoing members Linda Ramsdell of the Galaxy Bookshop in Hardwick, Vt., and Carla Jimenez of Inkwood Books in Tampa, Fla., for their service.

Also the membership voted unanimously to a bylaw change so that what had been known as the audit committee is now called the governance review committee, reflecting its function, while a new committee called the audit committee has been created and will monitor the association's finances.

Finances made for an especially cheerful discussion. During the year, the ABA was able to record as income and an asset $6.2 million that it had received in the Penguin lawsuit settlement 10 years ago. (The association had been required to consider it a liability for this time.) In addition, the association made some $350,000 on operations and had investment income of 10%-11%. As a result, the ABA's endowment, which at one point several years ago hit a low of $18 million is now again over $30 million.

"The ABA is fiscally healthy, and it's never been more healthy," Domnitz said. "And the money is flowing to programs that benefit members and continue to do so."--John Mutter


Paraclete Press: Mr. Nicholas: A Magical Christmas Tale by Christopher de Vinck


BEA: Getting a Read on Digital Reading

"We should not be waiting for an iPod of ebooks before investing in digital publishing," said Bill McCoy of Adobe Systems, who spoke at the panel called "New Mobile Devices & eReading Software: Giving Customers What They Want."

Moderated by Nick Bogaty of International Digital Publishing Forum, the presentation focused on technological innovations and the current market for Adobe Digital Editions, the Sony Reader, the iRex iLiad reader and Harlequin's aggressive ebook marketing campaign.

"From Adobe's perspective, we see that digital content has reached a tipping point," McCoy said, adding that the market is developing horizontally, the way the digital camera market evolved, rather than vertically with a single device. "You have to work to get your content out horizontally. And this is not just digitization of text; it's creating entirely new content."

Sony's Dan Albohn cited advantages like lower retail prices for ebooks ("typically 20%-30% less than the hardcover equivalent") as well as the option for readers to control type size ("Every title from a publisher becomes a large print book"). He added that in marketing a product like the Sony Reader, "One of the challenges for the industry continues to be getting the consumer not to associate the [reading device] screen with a computer or cell phone screen."

Willem Endhoven of iRex Technologies, maker of the iLiad reader, echoed the "content is king" theory by saying, "We believe technology is beautiful, but if you don't have content, you don't go anywhere. Nobody wants the device; they want the content. People didn't want a VCR, they wanted to see movies."

When IDPF's Nick Fogaty introduced Brent Lewis of Harlequin, he said that in terms of ebook marketing, "There's no better publisher to look at than Harlequin." Lewis addressed the misconception that ebooks are only for "tech nerds and kids. In reality, women ebook readers very much represent Middle America and the romance category is one of the fastest growing segments."

Harlequin ebooks can be read on a variety of available devices. "We want to put all the formats out there and let our customers decide," Lewis said, adding that he is particularly intrigued by the future for mobile phone reading, including options like receiving daily chapters of a book. "At Harlequin, we really believe that mobile is going to be important. In Japan, they sell as many ebooks as we do, and all are sent to mobile phones."

Lewis said that ultimately the readers will decide what works best: "All great technology is invisible to the end user. The key is that consumers want a device they don't have to think about."--Robert Gray


Berkley Books: Sadie on a Plate by Amanda Elliot


Media and Movies

Media Heat: Cormac McCarthy on The Road With Oprah

Today on Good Morning America, Dov Seidman explains How: Why How We Do Anything Means Everything . . . In Business (And in Life) (Wiley, $27.95, 9780471751229/0471751227).

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This morning on the Early Show, Mick O'Hare asks Why Don't Penguins' Feet Freeze?: And 114 Other Questions, More Questions and Answers from the Popular 'Last Word' Column (Profile Books, 9781861978769/1861978766).

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This morning on the Today Show: Victoria Colligan and Beth Schoenfeldt, authors of Ladies Who Launch: Embracing Entrepreneurship & Creativity as a Lifestyle (St. Martin's, $24.95, 9780312359546/0312359543).

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Today on the Martha Stewart Show, Mo'Nique, comedienne and author of Skinny Cooks Can't Be Trusted (Amistad, $26.95, 9780061121050/0061121053), makes strawberry margaritas with the talk show diva.

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Today on the View: Martha Stewart, whose new book is Martha Stewart Homekeeping Handbook: The Essential Guide to Caring for Everything in Your Home (Clarkson Potter, $45, 9780517577004/0517577003).

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Today the Oprah Winfrey Show welcomes Cormac McCarthy, author of its latest book club selection, The Road (Vintage, $14.95, 9780307387899/0307387895).

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Today on the Diane Rehm Show: Tony Lagouranis, author of Fear Up Harsh: An Army Interrogator's Dark Journey through Iraq (NAL, $24.95, 9780451221124/0451221125).

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Today the Rachael Ray Show re-airs an episode with Rupert Everett, who tells Hollywood tales in his memoir, Red Carpets and Other Banana Skins (Warner, $25.99, 9780446579636/0446579637).

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On Lou Dobbs Tonight: Alan Dershowitz, who will be interviewed about Blasphemy: How the Religious Right Is Hijacking the Declaration of Independence (Wiley, $22.95, 9780470084557/0470084553). 

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Tonight on Late Night with David Letterman: Chevy Chase, the subject of the authorized biography I'm Chevy Chase . . . And You're Not by Rena Fruchter (Virgin Books, $24.95, 9781852273460/1852273461).

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Tonight on the Colbert Report: Jessica Valenti, author of Full Frontal Feminism: A Young Woman's Guide to Why Feminism Matters (Seal Press, $15.95, 9781580052016/1580052010).

 


Books & Authors

Dueling Hillary Biographies: A Times Debate

Today's New York Times votes for none of the above in its paired reviews of the two new Hillary Clinton biographies.

Historian Robert Dallek calls Her Way by Jeff Gerth and Don Van Natta Jr. (Little, Brown) "almost uniformly negative and overly focused on what they consider the Clintons' scandalous past and the darker aspects of Mrs. Clinton's personality." Instead of "flogging" the Clinton scandals, Dallek continued, "it would have been more instructive to learn something new about why her health reform initiative failed or to explain in some detail why she was overwhelmingly re-elected by New York voters and has been, as even some Republican senators acknowledge, an effective senator." The authors find "no angels in Mrs. Clinton's nature whatsoever . . . and the result is a one-sided figure who never quite springs to life or feels truly authentic." This book, Dallek noted, "will become mandatory reading for Mrs. Clinton's opponents."

Michiko Kakutani is no less critical of A Woman in Charge by Carl Bernstein (Knopf), which, she writes, "often feels like a very long, very slow acid flashback to the 1990s, rehashing and reexamining, in minute detail, matters like Monica, Whitewater, bimbo eruptions and the state of the Clintons' marriage. . . . there is little new in this volume," which oddly has little to say about the subject's record as a senator or her campaign to become president or her stance on the Iraq war.

"All in all, [Bernstein's] book will please neither Friends of Hillary nor Enemies of Hillary: while it is often sympathetic toward the former first lady as an individual grappling with a complex marriage and trying to carry out genuinely high ideals, it is just as often critical of judgment calls she's made on both policy and politics." The book, she concluded, "seems unlikely to find all that many eager readers."



Book Review

Mandahla: Five Skies Reviewed

Five Skies by Ron Carlson (Viking Books, $23.95 Hardcover, 9780670038503, June 2007)



Some words are overused by reviewers and blurb-crafters, but when they fit, they are ideal. "Luminous" and "pitch-perfect" are just right for this novel, the story of three strong yet fragile men who come together on a construction site in the Idaho Rockies. Darwin Gallegos, the former foreman at Rio Difficulto, has taken on this job after leaving the ranch when his beloved wife died. Her death "was like a murder to [him], God's accident, the one that stops everyone." Arthur Key and Ronnie Panelli are hired by Gallegos almost on a whim in Pocatello, for the semi-secret project that many in the area are opposed to. Panelli is a kid, with a petty thievery rap, "[whose] look went all over the place--he was pale and starved and jangled." Arthur Key, a large muscular man, has been running away from the life and people he felt he had ruined. Key had so far avoided work like this, "projects [with] stupidity and a lot of money meeting in some bad, temporary place."
"It's a nice place, right?"
"Beautiful" Key said. "We'll fix that."
The men start work on a plateau above a remote river gorge, on Rio Difficulto property. The plan is to build a ramp for a daredevil cyclist's jump, with viewing stands for what surely seems to be a death leap. Key is perfect for the job, having been a premier Hollywood stunt engineer, and brings a carefulness and deliberation to the work.

Panelli becomes an expert at many things, particularly the weather; he learns carpentry, he meets cows, he becomes confident.
"Your past as an outlaw is less colorful every day. The legend is absolutely drying up," Key told him.
"It never once was colorful."
"Well, that sounds like the attitude of a person ready to learn to weld."
The creation of the infrastructure and the ramp is surprisingly absorbing and parallels Ronnie's growth as a worker and as a man. The others change, too. Arthur Key wants to tell his story to someone but cannot, Darwin Gallegos doesn't want to tell his story, and Ronnie Panelli doesn't know how. But Key realizes that his range of motion was growing, they were all expanding: "He knew he was less of a ghost, but he didn't know the measure." Their oblique conversations, dry and remote as the landscape, the curative effect of the wilderness, and the honesty of their craft ("And so their days ended with this regard for their tools and the days began, as they squinted over coffee, in the exhilarating open air knowing where the shovel was, the chain, the awl.") combine to change their lives. The long expanse of the skies and the river gorge echo the distance between the men, but they are brought closer by the healing that friendship brings, and the saving grace of respect and even love, although "love" is not a word these men would use.

Carlson is a master of quiet lyricism, no less sure with natural descriptions than he is with people. He captures the always-changing magnificent Idaho sky in myriad ways: "the dark sky still brimming with the tilted starwheels," "the sky had stopped and the clouds were backing up like bricks," and, "[it] had closed now and become a luminescent charcoal ceiling scalloped with glowing seams." As the men are setting up the camp tent, unfolding the canvas, "Skinny Ronnie Panelli stood amid the half ton of drapery like a character caught in the wrong myth." The woman Key had left in California, Alicia, "had become the soft edge of his long days." When Darwin poured coffee, "[he] set the cups uneasily on the tailgate of the jeep, amid the dried overlapping maps of spilled coffee there." The temptation is to quote endlessly, to grab someone and make them read passage after passage: "Then they spoke several minutes more, toeing the ground, and talking the way men do on the pitcher's mound in baseball games, making no eye contact whatsoever, looking past each other and tucking in their shirts with a finger, as if everything had been settled long ago in the big book that rested shut somewhere else far away." Five Skies is a beautiful book, filled with gentle melancholy and tough men, a combination that works when crafted by Ron Carlson.--Marilyn Dahl


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