Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, September 14, 2005


Scribner Book Company: Bear Necessity by James Gould-Bourn

Flatiron Books: Migrations by Charlotte McConaghy

Atheneum Books for Young Readers: You Matter by Christian Robinson

St. Martin's Press: Olive the Lionheart: Lost Love, Imperial Spies, and One Woman's Journey Into the Heart of Africa by Brad Ricca

Quirk Books: This Is Not the Jess Show by Anna Carey

Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books: When I Draw a Panda by Amy June Bates

Random House: Rodham by Curtis Sittenfeld

News

Bookselling Notes: SEBA Name Change; WhyBuy.com?

The Southeast Booksellers Association show doesn't start until Friday, but it's already making news: while not official yet, the association is changing its name to Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance and will be known as SIBA, which can be pronounced much like SEBA. (Although with some Southern accents, all bets are off.)

In part, the change recognizes the dissolution of the Mid-South Booksellers Association during the winter. SEBA/SIBA will be the first regional booksellers association that no longer calls itself an association.

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In the category of where's there smoke, maybe there's just smoke, we thank Walt Shiel, publisher of Slipdown Mountain Publications, for pointing out to us that Buy.com's policy of offering 10% off Amazon prices, mentioned in yesterday's Shelf Awareness, isn't the most straightforward deal.

While Buy.com said all in-stock titles are discounted 10% from Amazon, his company's in-stock titles at Buy.com are not priced that low. In cases like that, customers have to discover the error and request a rebate. As Buy.com's FAQ put it: "If you find an in-stock book that is more than 90% of Amazon's price for the same book, please click here to email us via our webform. Please be sure to include the URL to the Amazon sku AND your existing order number in which you already purchased the identical book from Buy.com." In addition, there is a five-book maximum per order.

Shiel compared the approach with "mail-in rebate programs--they're betting that few people will bother to request the rebate for a dollar or two. But it makes good press."

Oops.

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The Los Angeles Times checks out Nancy Pearl, the author of Book Lust and More Book Lust and former Seattle librarian and notes that the action figure featuring her has sold a heavenly 100,000 copies, not as many as copies of her books or the Jesus Christ action figure, but more than Da Vinci, Einstein, Freud or Houdini. A deluxe Nancy Pearl action figure edition, including book cart, desk and computer, has just been released.

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To help aid the victims of Hurricane Katrina, the Mountains & Plains Booksellers Association is matching the first $2,000 of member donations to the ABA's Bookseller Relief Fund and first $2,000 of member donations to the Red Cross. Donations can be made at the association's trade show Sept. 22-25 in Denver, Colo.

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Yes, more on the transition to ISBN-13: the Book Industry Study Group has developed an online "readiness directory," in which publishers, wholesalers, retailers and others in the book world indicate how far along they are in making the transition as well as learn where their trading partners are. To join, companies fill out an online survey devised by BISG's ISBN-13 Task Force. Find out more by making a transition to BISG's Web site.


Anansi International: This Lovely City by Louise Hare


Sacred Paths to Take First Steps This Saturday

Congratulations!

This Saturday Sacred Paths Bookstore celebrates its grand opening in San Mateo, Calif., near San Francisco. Founded by Susan Ughe, the spiritual/metaphysical/holistic store will receive an invitation-only blessing ritual at 9:30 a.m. The store will open at 10 and feature hourly drawings, intuitive readings, a magic show and a closing blessing.

Future events include the Relationship and the Warrior Spirit Workshop led by Marty Friedman, author of Straight Talk for Men About Marriage as well as the Stress Free for Good Workshop, led by Fred Luskin, co-author of Stress Free for Good and author of Forgive for Good.

As a part of its daily ritual of offerings, the store will host intuitive readings, tarot readings, body healing, reiki and other therapies on an ongoing basis.

Sacred Paths Bookstore is located at 134 South B St., San Mateo, Calif. 94401; 415-828-2395.


University of California Press: The Mating Game: How Gender Still Shapes How We Date by Ellen Lamont


Media and Movies

Media Heat: Kennedy, Wiesel, Smiley

This morning on the Today Show and later on the View, Caroline Kennedy waxes eloquently about her new book, A Family of Poems: My Favorite Poetry for Children illustrated by Jon J. Muth (Hyperion, $19.95, 0786851112), which consists of her family's favorite poems with introductions.

Also, on a Today's Kitchen segment, the Scottos chew over Today's Kitchen Cookbook (Meredith Books, $24.95, 0696225425), which features the Today Show's favorite recipes from more than 30 chefs and celebrities.

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WAMU's Diane Rehm Show talks today with Elie Wiesel, whose latest book, the novel The Time of the Uprooted (Knopf, $25, 1400041724), was published last month.

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Today on WNYC's Leonard Lopate Show:

  • Jill Lepore fumes about her new book, New York Burning: Liberty, Slavery, and Conspiracy in Eighteenth-Century Manhattan (Knopf, $26.95, 1400040299).

  • Pulitzer Prize-winning Jane Smiley re-examines the novel in Thirteen Ways of Looking at the Novel (Knopf, $26.95, 1400040590).

  • Barbara Ehrenreich baits but does not switch her new book, Bait and Switch: The (Futile) Pursuit of the American Dream (Metropolitan Books, $24, 0805076069).


AuthorBuzz for the Week of 04.06.20


Friday Flicks: Two More on the Way

Thumbs up, down, sucked? Two more movies based on novels appear this Friday.

Written and directed by Mike Mills and starring Keanu Reeves, Lou Pucci, Tilda Swinton, Benjamin Bratt and Vincent D'Onofrio, Thumbsucker is based on book critic and novelist Walter Kirn's second novel (Anchor, $14, 0385497091), a humorous coming of age tale. Kirn's latest novel, Mission to America (Doubleday, $23.95, 038550764X), arrives in America next month.

Directed by Mark Waters and starring Reese Witherspoon and Mark Ruffalo, Just Like Heaven is based on the novel If Only It Were True by Marc Levy (Pocket Star tie-in edition, $7.99, 1416513116), a 2000 title by a French architect in San Francisco that sold big to Pocket and Hollywood--but not to critics.


Berkley Books: Meet You in the Middle by Devon Daniels


Books & Authors

Handselling Star Gung Ho About Vietnam Memoir

Joe Drabyak, a longtime bookseller at Chester County Book & Music Co., West Chester, Pa., deserves a medal of honor for handselling military books. He has been responsible for the sale of a combined 1,300 hardcover copies of Flags of Our Fathers and Flyboys, both by James Bradley, Ghost Soldiers by Hampton Sides, Jarhead by Anthony Swofford and Black Hawk Down by Mark Bowden as well as double that amount in trade paper and mass market editions of those books. He also got to know each of the authors of those works and considers them friends. So it's striking when Drabyak can't seem to avoid superlatives when talking about a memoir by a Vietnam War-era pilot that takes off in October.

Among his comments:

  • "It's the best war narrative I've ever read."
  • "It's Pulitzer Prize material."
  • "It's no less than a masterpiece in the canon of war literature."
  • "It's Catch-22, M*A*S*H and Heart of Darkness all mixed together."

The subject of this barrage of praise is Flying Through Midnight: A Pilot's Dramatic Story of His Secret Missions Over Laos During the Vietnam War by John T. Halliday (Scribner, $27.50, 0743274881). Drabyak has been talking up the tome to other booksellers, reps who call on him and anyone else willing to listen. His marching orders: cut through the flak about other books and promote Flying Through Midnight

"The book transcends Vietnam," Drabyak told Shelf Awareness. "It's not about the war per se. It's about the military mindset, being in places without an exit strategy, and all sorts of things that make it very, very current. It's very human, thoughtful, philosophical."

Halliday's narrative concerns "a part of the war that was officially denied," Drabyak continued. Halliday's unit flew secretly with no personal effects or identification over formally neutral Laos and the Ho Chi Minh Trail in older planes that had no insignia or markings. Like a team from Mission Impossible, if they crashed or were caught, the government would disavow any knowledge of them. 

The characters in the memoir already are burned in his memory, Drabyak said, and the stories are riveting. On one sortie, Halliday's plane developed a "disastrous fuel leak" and had to land in Laos in the middle of the night in a place with no tower, radar or runway lights. After repairing the plane in two days, the crew returned to their base in Thailand where everyone, including the initially hostile air traffic controllers, had assumed they were dead.

Among general Catch-22-like problems, an erroneous map was causing pilots to crash. Although the map was printed in Thailand, changes had to go through channels, which led all the way back to the Pentagon. Many asked why the printing office 10 miles away couldn't be told about the problem. "That's not the way it's done," was the answer, according to Drabyak. Bizarrely the crashes continued; the map remained the same. 

A retired commercial pilot who also flew in both Gulf Wars, Halliday spent 25 years writing the memoir and another five trying to get it published, according to Drabyak. With no formal writing training, Halliday experimented writing on a laptop and a legal pad, then settled on writing down memories on file cards--often when he had unexpected flashbacks--which he eventually organized in chronological order. Halliday now raises Morgan horses in Northern California. "It may be the only book he ever writes," Drabyak said, "but what a book!"

Drabyak initially heard about Flying Through Midnight from Gayle Shanks of Changing Hands Bookstore, Tempe, Ariz., whose brother-in-law, a Marine Vietnam vet and pilot, loved it. Drabyak and Halliday have been in touch, and the connection has been "very personal" for Drabyak because of Halliday's help in getting more information about Drabyak's cousin Tom, a Navy flier who died in the Pacific in 1980. The pair have talked eight or nine times on the phone. "I'm having a hard time believing I have this relationship with a retired lieutenant colonel from Vietnam and like him so much," Drabyak said, sounding truly awed.


University of California Press: A Brief History of Fascist Lies by Federico Finchelstein



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