Shelf Awareness for Thursday, September 6, 2007

Abrams: Daughters of Smoke and Fire by Ava Homa

Shadow Mountain:  The Seeking Serum (Potion Masters #3) by Frank L. Cole

Neal Porter Books: Hello, Neighbor!: The Kind and Caring World of Mister Rogers by Matthew Cordell

Ballantine Books: The Book of Lost Friends by Lisa Wingate

Sounds True: The Motherly Guide to Becoming Mama: Redefining the Pregnancy, Birth, and Postpartum Journey by Jill Koziol, Liz Tenety, and Diana Spalding

Dafina Books: A Cowboy to Remember by Rebekah Weatherspoon

Scholastic Press: Mañanaland by Pam Munoz Ryan


Notes: BookCourt Expanding; Bookstore Customers Write Novel

BookCourt, Brooklyn, N.Y., is building a 1,600-sq.-ft. wing that should be finished in late November and will nearly double the store's size, the Brooklyn Daily Eagle reported. BookCourt's new wing will house a small café and bar with outdoor garden as well as nonfiction titles, which are currently in the basement. In the future, the basement will be used for remainders. Children's book inventory will be tripled.

Owners Henry Zook and Mary Gannett, who founded the store in 1981, attributed the impetus for the long-considered expansion to their son, Zack, who has been involved in the family business fulltime since graduating from college in 2005. Zack also plans to start publishing Cousin Corinne, a literary journal that will include fiction, essays, poetry and dramatic works and be separate from the store. Eventually he hopes for BookCourt to publish books.

Several keys to the store's success: owning its own building and its location, "on the nexus" of Boerum Hill, Cobble Hill, Carroll Gardens and Brooklyn Heights. "It's a great location," Henry told the paper. "Though we didn't know that at the time."


Crossroads Books, Clarence Center, N.Y., has given new meaning to the phrase "a community of writers" by sponsoring a group effort "to write a coherent novel." According to Buffalo TV station WIVB, "Beginning with just an opening paragraph and a small list of rules, visitors to the bookstore are invited to read what has been written and continue the story with a few sentences or a few paragraphs. New characters and plot lines, which will hopefully carry the story along, can be introduced at any point."


The Dothan Eagle celebrates the 25th anniversary of Dove Christian Supply, which has stores in Dothan and Enterprise, Ala. During September the store is having weekly specials and events, ending with a grand prize drawing for a 25-inch color television, a DVD player and 25 DVDs on September 29.

Founded by Pete and Yvonne McCollough, Dove carries books, DVDs, posters, cards, clothing, choir robes, church supplies, gifts and art as well as such Jewish items as prayer shawls and menorahs. "We are very careful about how we pick our products," Yvonne McCollough told the paper. "No matter what it has to be Biblical. We put a lot of thought and prayers into it."


John MacGregor has been promoted to full time event and marketing coordinator of the Cadence Group, which handles book tours both in person and online. He will handle all bookstore, school and library author tours and event bookings. He may be contacted at

Anne Frecka is joining Cadence Group as client manager. She was formerly a copy editor and contractor for the Writer's Digest line at F+W Publications. She may be reached at

Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers:  Bloom (The Overthrow #1) by Kenneth Oppel

Are Articles About Books Being Passé Passé?

In an update on e-book readers, the business section of today's New York Times uses the old standby headline, "Are Books Passé?" The focus is on Amazon's Kindle, which should be unveiled in October, uses a proprietary system, offers wireless downloads and will go for $400-$500 at retail as well as Google's plan soon to start charging users for full online access to digital copies of books. Among the pearls of wisdom:
  • "We have had dedicated e-book devices on the market for more than a decade, and the payoff always seems to be just a few years away," Michael Gartenberg, research director at Jupiter Research, said. "Books represent a pretty good value for consumers. They can display them and pass them to friends, and they understand the business model."
  • "Digital readers are not a replacement for a print book; they are a replacement for a stack of print books," Ron Hawkins, v-p for portable reader systems at Sony, told the Times. "That is where we see people, on the go, in the subway and in airports, with our device."
  • "This is not your grandfather's e-book,” an anonymous publisher said about Kindle. "If these guys can't make it work, I see no hope."
  • "If an affordable device can come to the market, sure we'd love to bring it to our customers, and we will," Steve Riggio, CEO of Barnes & Noble, said. "But right now we don't see an affordable device in the immediate future."

Kensington Publishing Corporation: 142 Ostriches by April Davila

G.L.O.W. - Galley Love of the Week
Be the first to have an advance copy!
Notes on a Silencing: 
A Memoir
by Lacy Crawford

Lacy Crawford was 14 years old when she was sexually assaulted by two star athletes at the prestigious St. Paul's School in Concord, N.H. In precise, lucid prose, the author examines herself and the forces outside her that converged to suppress her voice--until now. "I was riveted from the first page by Lacy Crawford's magnificent writing," says Asya Muchnick, v-p and executive editor at Little, Brown, "and by her searing story of how a powerful institution sought to silence and shame her rather than going after the young men who sexually assaulted her. Her memoir is the gripping account of what this silencing cost her, and of finally reclaiming her voice decades later." In gorgeous passages that balance chilling events, Crawford speaks of the paradox of privilege's advantages and its unspoken price of admission. --Jennifer M. Brown, senior editor, Shelf Awareness

(Little, Brown, $28 hardcover, 9780316491556, July 14, 2020)


Shelf vetted, publisher supported


Media and Movies

This Weekend on Book TV: The Counterinsurgency Field Manual

Book TV airs on C-Span 2 from 8 a.m. Saturday to 8 a.m. Monday and focuses on political and historical books as well as the book industry. The following are highlights for this coming weekend. For more information, go to Book TV's website.

Saturday, September 8

12 p.m. History on Book TV. In an event at the Boston Public Library, Bruce Watson, author of Sacco & Vanzetti: The Men, the Murders, and the Judgment of Mankind (Viking, $25.95, 9780670063536/0670063533), studies the lives, trial and execution of these Italian immigrants and self-declared anarchists, who were convicted of murder and robbery. (Re-airs Sunday at 4 p.m. and Monday at 3:30 a.m.)
2 p.m. At an event at Books & Books, Coral Gables, Fla., Antonio Rafael de la Cova, author of The Moncada Attack: Birth of the Cuban Revolution (University of South Carolina, $59.95, 9781570036729/1570036721), recounts Fidel Castro's failed attack on the Cuban Army on July 26, 1953, which he asserts put in motion Castro's ascension to power. (Re-airs Sunday at 2:30 a.m.)

6 p.m. Encore Booknotes. In a segment first aired in 2001, Phyllis Lee Levin, author of Edith and Woodrow: The Wilson White House, discussed her examination of the controversial role Woodrow Wilson's second wife played in running the country.
8:10 p.m. History on Book TV. Greg Behrman, author of The Most Noble Adventure: The Marshall Plan and the Time When America Helped Save Europe (Free Press, $27, 9780743282635/0743282639), talks about the unprecedented plan to rebuild Western Europe after World War II. (Re-airs Monday at 4:30 a.m.)

9 p.m. After Words. Sean Naylor, senior writer for Army Times, interviews Lt. Col. John Nagl, contributor and author of the foreword to The U.S. Army/Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Field Manual (University of Chicago Press, $15, 9780226841519/0226841510), which was prepared under the guidance of Gen. David Petraeus (currently leading the "surge" in Iraq). (Re-airs Sunday at 6 p.m. and 9 p.m., Monday at 12 a.m.)

Sunday, September 9

12:40 a.m. From FreedomFest in Las Vegas, Mark Skousen discusses his book, The Big Three in Economics: Adam Smith, Karl Marx, and John Maynard Keynes (M.E. Sharpe, $25.95, 9780765616944/0765616947), which describes the contributions of each to the field of economics. (Re-airs Sunday at 7:10 a.m. and 7 p.m.)

6 a.m. Eboo Patel, author of Acts of Faith: The Story of an American Muslim, the Struggle for the Soul of a Generation (Beacon, $22.95, 9780807077269/0807077267), talks about the discrimination he experienced as a young man. He warns that religious extremists recruit similarly disaffected youth and advocates cultivating interfaith dialogue among young people.

9:15 a.m. In an event held at the National Press Club, campus psychiatrist Miriam Grossman, author of Unprotected: A Campus Psychiatrist Reveals How Political Correctness in Her Profession Endangers Every Student (Sentinel, $14, 9781595230454/1595230459), argues that political correctness in campus healthcare harms students by tacitly approving casual sex. (Re-airs Monday at 1 a.m.)

2:30 p.m. Ilario Pantano, author of Warlord: No Better Friend, No Worse Enemy (Threshold Editions, $14, 9781416524274/1416524274), contends that the U.S., as a society, has moved away from embracing offensive war and that the volume of media coverage of the war on terror has overwhelmed the American public's ability to process what is happening.

10 p.m. Juan Cole, author of Napoleon's Egypt: Invading the Middle East (Palgrave Macmillan, $24.95, 9781403964311/1403964319), documents Napoleon's attempt to make Egypt a French colony in 1798 and offers parallels to the current U.S. foray in Iraq.

KidsBuzz for the Week of 01.27.20

Media Heat: The Braindead Megaphone

Today on KCRW's Bookworm: Nathan Englander, author of The Ministry of Special Cases (Knopf, $25, 9780375404931/0375404937). As the show put it: "In this, his first novel, Nathan Englander uses desapareacidos to stand for all kinds of disappearance. Here, we focus on yet another: his own, from this very personal novel. How did he do it? Did he suffer the same anxieties young writers usually feel when launching a major new work?"


Today on the Diane Rehm Show: John Heath and Lisa Adams, authors of Why We Read What We Read: A Delightfully Opinionated Journey Through Bestselling Books (SourceBooks, $16.95, 9781402210549/140221054X).


Today on PBS's Tavis Smiley Show: Jerome Bettis, author of The Bus: My Life In and Out of a Helmet (Doubleday, $23.95, 9780385520614/0385520611).


Today on the Rachael Ray Show: Conn Iggulden, co-author of The Dangerous Book for Boys (Collins, $24.95, 9780061243585/0061243582).


Today on Oprah in a repeat: Paula Deen, whose latest book is Paula Deen: It Ain't All About the Cookin' (S&S, $25, 9780743292856/0743292855).


Today on ABC's News Now: Robby Benson, author of Who Stole the Funny?: A Novel of Hollywood (Harper, $13.95, 9780061245008/0061245003).


Tonight on the Late Show with David Letterman: MacArthur "genius" grant recipient George Saunders, whose new nonfiction essay collection is The Braindead Megaphone (Riverhead, $14, 9781594482564/159448256X). He also appears on the Leonard Lopate Show today.


Tonight on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart, in a repeat: Lt. Col. John Nagl, contributor to The U.S. Army/Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Field Manual (University of Chicago Press, $15, 9780226841519/0226841510). (See below for information about his Book TV appearance this weekend.)


Tonight on the Colbert Report, in a repeat: Joe Klein, whose most recent book is Politics Lost: From RFK to W: How Politicians Have Become Less Courageous and More Interested in Keeping Power than in Doing What's Right for America (Broadway, $12.95, 9780767916011/0767916018), recently released in paperback.

Also on Colbert: Thomas E. Ricks, the Washington Post reporter whose Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq (Penguin, $16, 9780143038917/0143038915) was also recently released in paperback.

Disney-Hyperion: The Magical Yet by Angela Diterlizzi, Lorena Alvarez

Book Review

Children's Review: Click: One Novel Ten Authors

Click by Linda Sue Park (Arthur A. Levine Books, $16.99 Hardcover, 9780439411387, October 2007)

Teachers, librarians and booksellers can find inspiration in this successful collaboration, ideal for igniting in young people the desire to do similar interlinking writing projects. In the first chapter of this 10-chapter novel, Linda Sue Park plants the seeds for the story developed by the nine authors who follow. The book opens just after George Keane, a photojournalist (called "Gee" because he signs his photos "G. Keane") who chronicled images of World War II, of Muhammad Ali's rise to champion and who traveled the globe, has died. He leaves to his grandson, Jason, a stack of his photos (some autographed by his subjects), and to his granddaughter, Maggie, a collection of seashells in a handcrafted wooden box with mysterious markings. It is a puzzle "that would last her whole life" and takes her around the world.

The authors' styles range from the mystical, as with David Almond's tale of 13-year-old Annie Lumsden, who learns that her father was part sea creature, to stark realism, as in Deborah Ellis's story of 17-year-old Lev, a Russian prisoner who builds the wooden box that holds Maggie's shells. Eoin Colfer's chapter injects some humor, as Jason goes to work for an Irishman who runs a pizza parlor and develops a dark side; a passing phrase in Colfer's contribution seems to be, at least in part, the inspiration for Roddy Doyle's chapter about Gee's own similar missteps, while Nick Hornby's chapter further explores Gee's foibles by introducing another family Gee kept in France. Ruth Ozeki's moving story of Taro, who was not yet 18 when he lost both of his legs in World War II, connects back to both Hornby's mention of Gee's images taken in Japan and also to the seashell that gives Maggie her first clue as to the scope and meaning of Gee's gift to her. Such reverberations recur throughout the novel, making it much more than a connect-the-dots exercise. In Tim Wynne-Jones's chronicle of Jason as a budding photographer in his own right, for instance, the teen gives his craft a modernist twist. Margo Lanagan pulls everything together in her chapter, where Maggie, now an elder stateswoman, is mounting a three-generation retrospective of Gee's, Jason's and her niece's works, in an era in which photography is a dying art. All of the stories play with the idea of perspective; Gee begins as the beholder, but every character gets a chance to share his or her perspective--on Gee, and on the world. Cumulatively the authors suggest that any one event can be viewed from any number of angles, and that matters may be far more complex than first meets the eye. Perhaps no one puts the book's theme better than Maggie in Gregory Maguire's concluding chapter, as the heroine reflects on Jason's evolution via the camera lens, and her own journey as a result of piecing together the puzzle behind Gee's gift to her: "That's all we ever want to give away, you know . . . our hopes that the young will remember to look, and to see. Through whatever means possible."--Jennifer M. Brown

Life Drawn: Little Josephine: Memory in Pieces by Valerie Villieu, illustrated by Raphael

Deeper Understanding

Robert Gray: The Most Obvious and Important Question

The challenge was on the table. After answering several of my questions, Dick Harte, owner and developer of BookSite, had one of his own. He asked me to "reflect on why you didn't ask the most obvious and important question. I don't mean the superficial 'It just slipped my mind,' but one layer deeper on why it slipped your mind. The question: What is the single most important thing needed for a successful bookstore website?”

I like the question. I probably wouldn't have asked it because I'm not a fan of the "single thing" theory. Still, I was intrigued when he added, "The irony is, once that question is addressed, the indies will have the realistic solution you seem to be going after in your articles."

So I asked, but more on that later.

Harte has been thinking about independent bookstores and the Web for a long time. "I started on the 'World Wide Web' in 1994, a year before Amazon, by creating an online version of my bookstore [Rutherford's Book Shoppe] in Delaware, Ohio." BookSite evolved from that initial online retail foray into a company that now "provides a complete online bookstore solution."    

Harte offers strong opinions about what he believes works--or doesn't work--for independent bookstore websites. He has learned those lessons as he developed BookSite and studied industry leaders: "One of the dirty little secrets of the Internet is that it costs, per customer online, whether it be for a car or a book, roughly $100. Here is where I split ways with the Amazon approach. [Jeff] Bezos saw something I didn't, the most basic retail principle going is, 'It's the customer, stupid.' So while I was trying to grasp the logic of spending $100 in advertising to make a sale with a net margin of $1, Amazon was investing $2 billion in going after those sales thinking how inexpensive it was to attract a new customer for just $100, because over their lifetime that customer would generate many times that profit."
Are there competitive alternatives for independent bookstores, which often lack the deep debt pockets of Amazon or the chains? Harte says the answer is yes, and BookSite is one of those options, but he recommends that booksellers be keenly aware of both the opportunities and the hazards online. "Why have a store at all if you can't compete with Amazon or B&N? And if you do have a store, why not give yourself the best chance for success by building in Internet tools with your operations?"

Asked to cite common mistakes bookstores make while building their websites, he offers the following list, adding "I have dozens more if you want me to go on."
  1. Copying Amazon.
  2. Forgetting to outline specific benefits and results from their Internet investment.
  3. Segregating the website operations from store marketing.
  4. Ignoring the need to build customer e-mail lists.
  5. Not giving the customers what they want.
  6. Keeping doing old tasks, even after they become obsolete with the new web-based services.

On the other hand, he sees great potential for independent booksellers who know how to play to their strengths. "I actually think the future for those who 'get' the Internet is brighter than ever. The technology is evolving in our direction. The only real hurdle is the resistance toward change that seems to be in the DNA of some indies."

How can booksellers seize that opportunity? "Take care of the customer and keep it local. Small beats big, local beats national, personal beats mass in this new environment. Most of all remember store websites don't attract customers, they help stores economically take care of their customers. Take care of basics and make sure they back up the store e-newsletter campaign. The only time I have seen customers attracted to a store because of a website is someone finding a store by searching on Google for 'bookstore' and your city name (and in that case the website didn't attract, it simply provided directions)."

There's more, of course, and we'll explore some of Harte's specific strategies next week. For now, however, let's reconsider that "most important question":

What is the single most important thing needed for a successful bookstore website?
"It's the store," says Harte. "I have yet to have a customer who has a successful store who hasn't had a successful website. The Internet is about being small and personal. It's about being grassroots, and that plays into the independents' hands." Next week, Harte will offer some tips for making that happen.--Robert Gray (column archives available at Fresh Eyes Now)

Johns Hopkins University Press: Detectives in the Shadows by Susanna Lee

KidsBuzz: Roaring Brook Press: The Prettiest by Brigit Young
KidsBuzz: Sleeping Bear Press: The Voice That Won the Vote: How One Woman's Words Made History by Elisa Boxer, illustrated by Vivien Mildenberger
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