Shelf Awareness for Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Blackstone Publishing: An Honorable Assassin (Nick Mason Novels #3) by Steve Hamilton

Clarion Books: The Man Who Didn't Like Animals by Deborah Underwood, Illlustrated by LeUyen Pham

Holiday House: Bye Forever, I Guess by Jodi Meadows and Team Canteen 1: Rocky Road by Amalie Jahn

Wednesday Books: Dust by Alison Stine

Running Press Kids: The Junior Witch's Handbook, The Junior Astrologer's Handbook, and The Junior Tarot Reader's Handbook by Nikki Van De Car

Scholastic Press: Ruin Road by Lamar Giles


Kepler's Keeps on Keeping On

Kepler's, the much-beloved Menlo Park, Calif., bookstore that closed suddenly August 31, continues to take steps to reopen.

Yesterday the store announced that it had formed a board of directors consisting of Clark Kepler and three community members who are highly representative of Silicon Valley: a senior Yahoo executive, a wireless tech company co-founder and a venture capitalist, each of whom have been enthusiastic Kepler's customers and will provide financial support and business expertise. Another board seat is being held open for someone who has experience in the book industry or publishing world.

The store has also formed a 17-person Patron's Circle, whose members will help provide financial support, reportedly $500,000. The Patron's Circle will form the core of Kepler's new membership program, which will be "multitiered" and include volunteers to help the bookstore.

The newly reconstituted Kepler's hopes to reopen by October, both because of the importance of holiday sales and to retain employees. In addition, the group wants to expand the membership campaign and hold a series of benefits as soon as possible.

A key part of the puzzle is the store's longterm lease. Kepler's continues to negotiate with the landlord, the Tan Group of Palo Alto; the store said it "faces hurdles" in this effort.

The new board consists of:

  • Clark Kepler, president, CEO and chairman.
  • Daniel Mendez, co-founder and chief technology officer of Visto Corporation, which provides wireless technology. Mendez is the principal inventor of many patents for technology to provide cell phone users access to e-mail.
  • Geoff Ralston, chief product officer at Yahoo, who was also an executive at Four11, which Yahoo acquired in 1997, Hewlett Packard and NetSMART.
  • Bruce Dunlevie, general partner at Benchmark Capital, a venture capital firm.

Help a Bookseller, Change a Life: Give today to the Book Industry Charitable Foundation!

Bookselling Notes: BAM Delay; Overwhelmed Overstock

After the markets closed yesterday, Books-A-Million stated that it will not meet the deadline for filing form 10-Q about the quarter ended July 30 with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The reason: "management's ongoing evaluation of the company's internal control over financial reporting for the second quarter." BAM said it is working "expeditiously" on the matter and stands by its lowered earnings forecast for the third quarter and full fiscal year that reflect a decline in sales because of Hurricane Katrina.



Shares of heavy discounter closed yesterday at $39.87, down 6.9%. The company's stock had been downgraded following the Friday after-market acknowledgement that a software upgrade prevented the company from adding new merchandise on the site for five weeks, "several weeks longer than anticipated." CEO Patrick Byrne called the upgrade "the equivalent of a heart, lung and kidney transplant."


The National Association of College Stores's September 8 Webcast about the Government Accountability Office's report on textbook affordability may be heard on the professional development section of NACS's Web site and is available until December 1. (Scroll down to the bottom of the page to the "Webcast Archive" section.) Participants included GAO analyst Debra Prescott, who noted that the GAO "look at a private sector issue" was unusual, and NACS director of government relations Rich Hershman, who analyzed the report, discussed potential federal reactions and offered tips on how to use the report.


The Odessa American offers a light profile of Ye Old Bookworm, a used bookstore in the Texas oil town that during its 14 years in business has expanded to 3,000 square feet of selling space and 140,000 volumes up from 1,500 square feet and 20,000. Owners David and Dorthy Bennett also sell a significant amount of material online. One customer said he liked being able to find out-of-print titles. 
" 'You can't go to (large book retailers) and pull out a book from 1973,' he said, proffering a gently used science fiction novel. 'It's easier to collect some of your favorite authors.' "

SCBA: Return of the Trade Show

The Southern California Booksellers Association Author Feast and Trade Show take place on Saturday, October 15, in Long Beach, Calif.

The big news for the association: the afternoon trade show is the first in 15 years. Exhibit space is sold out, and most major publishers as well as rep groups, local publishers, wholesalers and others will be represented. The floor is open 12-5 p.m.

In other activities, for three hours, 10 sales reps will offer their favorite titles for the holiday and winter season, and sessions will be held on understanding coop and how to make the bookstore "the third place" (using innovative events to help make the store a gathering place for the exchange and free flow of ideas).

The piece de resistance of the meeting is SCBA's wildly popular Authors Feast banquet that includes the presentation of the SCBA Book Awards. More than 50 authors have been invited.

For more information, go to SCBA's Web site.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Alan Alda

Tonight the Daily Show with Jon Stewart leads off with Alan Alda, who recounts things he's learned during his career and important turning points in his life in Never Have Your Dog Stuffed: And Other Things I've Learned (Random House, $24.95, 1400064090). Alda also appears on the Leonard Lopate Show today.


This morning on the Today Show, Frank and Vida Radice meow about their new children's book, Sam Katz on the Loose! illustrated by Charles Fazzino (Random House Books for Young Readers, $14.95, 0375831207).

Also today on Today, J. R. Moehringer discusses Tender Bar: A Memoir (Hyperion, $23.95, 1579548571).


Today on WNYC's Leonard Lopate Show:

  • Garry Wills revises Henry Adams and the Making of America (Houghton Mifflin, $30, 0618134301).  
  • Photographer Nathan Farb chronicles the beauty of a region in Adirondack: Wilderness (Rizzoli, $50, 0847826384).
  • David Rakoff discusses the collection of humorous essays in his new book, Don't Get Too Comfortable: The Indignities of Coach Class, The Torments of Low Thread Count, The Never-Ending Quest for Artisanal Olive Oil, and Other First World Problems (Doubleday, $22.95, 0385510365).


Today on the Diane Rehm Show, Hilary Spurling portrays her new book, Matisse the Master: A Life of Henri Matisse: The Conquest of Colour: 1909-1954 (Knopf, $40, 0679434291).


Yesterday Fresh Air had a sitdown with Selwyn Raab, the former New York Times crime reporter whose new book is Five Families: The Rise, Decline, and Resurgence of America's Most Powerful Mafia Empires (Thomas Dunne/St. Martin's, $29.95, 0312300948).

Books & Authors

Congratulations: Two Book World 'Geniuses'

The 25 winners of this year's MacArthur Fellows grants--better known as the "genius awards" and including $500,000 over five years with no strings attached--include:

  • Terry Belanger, a rare book preservationist who is a professor and curator at the University of Virginia, who won for "raising the profile of the book as one of humankind's greatest inventions and as an integral part of the history of technology and human communication."
  • Novelist and essayist Jonathan Lethem who was cited for "weaving the conventions of noir mysteries, westerns, science fiction, and comic books into narratives that explore the relationship between high art and popular culture."

Two Sweeties: A Tough Mother and a Tough Climber

As happens so often at trade shows, serendipitous meetings made the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association sparkle. In a classic such situation, we were lucky to make the acquaintance of one author on a 6 a.m. hotel shuttle to the airport. (But how unnerving was it that an accomplished Himalayan climber bumped her head twice while finding a place to sit in the little, darkly lit bus?)

She and another author Shelf Awareness met at the show coincidentally share certain qualities: both are strong women with connections to the region who only slowly became comfortable with their leadership abilities and have now come out with enjoyable memoirs.

Gert Boyle, chairman and longtime advertising star of Columbia Sportswear of Portland, Ore., was forced to take over the company in 1970, when her husband died suddenly at age 47. She and her oldest son stumbled a lot in the first few years on their own but then made the company into a multimillion-dollar legend in the very competitive field of outdoor sportswear. Boyle's book, One Tough Mother: Success in Life, Business, and Apple Pies, written with Kerry Tymchuk (WestWinds Press, $19.95, 1558689087), succinctly--and toughly--recounts an amazing life that started in Germany not long before Hitler rose to power, forcing her family to flee, and led to Portland and her father's founding of what became Columbia, much of whose success Boyle attributes to listening to customers. Since its March publication, the book by the direct, smart and very sweet but unlikely corporate star has sold 11,300 copies and is in its third printing. Boyle is donating her royalties to the Special Olympics and CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children).

Likewise Arlene Blum, a scientist, mountain climber and leadership consultant, recounts her difficult childhood, the lure of the mountains and how she made her life whole in Breaking Trail: A Climbing Life (Scribner, $27.50, 0743258460), which leaves publishing base camp next month. The author of Sierra Club Books's Annapurna: A Woman's Place (in print for 25 years), the account of the first all-women's team to climb the Himalayan peak, Blum hopes to pique interest in her tale in part through posting hundreds of photos of her climbing adventures on her Web site. Among the many promotions for the book is a lofty pub party October 15-16 on Mount Washington in New Hampshire--a "short" peak by Himalayan and Rocky Mountain standards but extremely rugged--with a signing afterward at the Weather Discovery Center in North Conway Village. If the weather is good, Blum and friends will climb the mountain. In "challenging weather," they might drive up the Auto Road. In "extremely bad and dangerous weather," which is quite possible atop the mountain with the world's fastest recorded wind speed (231 m.p.h. in 1934), the reception will take place in the valley.

In Breaking Trail, Blum offers some publishing gossip, recounting that she had originally sold Annapurna to Thomas Crowell Co., which was bought mid-project by Lippincott. "My new editor told me that in order to produce a dramatic bestseller, they were assigning my book to a ghostwriter," Blum writes. "Dismayed," she took the book back, finished it and sold it to Sierra Club Books.

Attainment: New Books Next Week, Vol. 2

John by Cynthia Lennon (Crown, 030733855X, $25.95) tells the "real story of the real John Lennon" through the perspective of his former wife, including a foreword by his son Julian. The audio version is narrated by Cynthia (RH Audio, 0739324322, $27.50).

Unlikely Angel: The Untold Story of the Atlanta Hostage Hero by Ashley Smith and Stacy Mattingly (Morrow/Avon, 0310270677, $24.95) is an inspirational memoir of Ashley Smith's seven hours as a hostage in her suburban Atlanta apartment in April. Ashley made headlines after she talked her way out of the clutches of courthouse killer Brian Nichols.

Winter's Tale: An Original Pop-Up Journey by Robert Clarke Sabuda (Little Simon, $26.95, 0689853637). Simple yet graceful writing matched with gorgeous illustrations.

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