Shelf Awareness for Friday, December 21, 2007

One More Chapter: The Girl Who Survived Auschwitz by Eti Elboim and Sara Leibovits, translated by Esther Frumkin

Andrews McMeel Publishing: The Wheel of the Year: An Illustrated Guide to Nature's Rhythms by Fiona Cook, illustrated by Jessica Roux

Tor Nightfire: What Feasts at Night (Sworn Soldier #2) by T. Kingfisher

Amulet Books: Nightbane (the Lightlark Saga Book 2) by Alex Aster

Forge: Deep Freeze (Revival #1) by Michael C. Grumley

Shadow Mountain: Janitors School of Garbage: Volume 1 by Tyler Whitesides

Editors' Note

Gone Ice Fishing!

This is our last issue of 2007. We wish our readers happy holidays and a prosperous end of the year! See you again on January 2, 2008.


Soho Crime: Union Station (John Russell WWII Spy Thriller) by David Downing


Notes: General Retailers Edgy; College Bookstore Sales

Because of "lackluster sales," many general retailers are "scrambling to wring a few last dollars from procrastinators by slashing prices, extending hours and wooing customers more persistently than last year," today's Wall Street Journal reported. Promotions and long opening hours are among the tactics being used. For example, some Macy's stores on the East Coast will stay open all weekend--107 hours straight in one case.

Total foot traffic at U.S. retailers is down 8.9% in the second full week of December compared to the same period a year ago, according to ShopperTrak RCT Corp. But online sales rose 19% to $23.5 billion between November 1 and December 16, comScore said. The National Retail Federation predicts a 4% sales gain in 2007, the lowest growth in five years.


Nebraska Book Co. has bought nine more private, off-campus college bookstores, bringing the total it owns to more than 260, according to the AP (via the Houston Chronicle). President Mark Oppegard said that Nebraska Book Co. plans to continue to grow by purchasing stores. It also sells textbooks to nearly 2,500 college bookstores.


Bookselling This Week profiled Sherri White, her sister, Traci Giganti, and their bookstore and cafe, Book Crossing, Brunswick, Md., which opened in 2004. The store is in the downtown of a Washington, D.C., suburb that is undergoing a revitalization project. Located near a railroad station, Book Crossing caters to commuters, opening at 5 a.m., and it recently expanded into space next door, doubling in size to 2,000 square feet.


In April 2009, Barnes & Noble plans to open a store in the Corbin Park shopping center in Overland Park, Kan., near Kansas City. 


Borders has launched an online store with Sony that offers digital downloads of more than 25,000 e-books to people who have bought Sony Readers at Borders stores. Borders is now selling the Reader in most of its U.S. superstores. The site is also accessible to Borders customers via the stores' wi-fi service who can download software and purchase and download e-books directly to their personal computers.

Sony is running a promotion whereby customers who purchase the Reader on or before January 15 will receive a $50 credit toward the purchase of e-books from the co-branded store as well as 100 free eBooks Classics from Sony.


"What championed the book were women's groups, book clubs and independent stores," author Greg Mortenson told USA Today regarding the surprise bestseller, Three Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission to Promote Peace  . . . One School at a Time, which he wrote with David Oliver Relin.

The article also noted that Mortenson "pushed to have the book's subtitle changed. In hardcover, it was One Man's Mission to Fight Terrorism . . . One School at a Time. In paperback, it was revised to One Man's Mission to Promote Peace."

"The public is interested in peace, just as much as fighting terrorism," said the author. "So far, no politician seems to have their finger on that pulse."


The Taunton Press, Newtown, Conn., which publishes about 50 titles a year in home design, home-building, gardening, cooking, crafts and woodworking, will be distributed exclusively to the trade by Ingram Publisher Services, effective June 1, 2008. The Taunton Press is currently distributed by Random House.

In a statement, Taunton's book division publisher Don Linn commented: "We are extremely impressed with the team Ingram has assembled and with their strategy, particularly in the digital arena which will be an increasingly important part of our own strategy moving forward."

Linn is former owner and CEO of Consortium Book Sales & Distribution, which he sold to Perseus Books Group in August 2006. He joined Taunton this past fall.


Last-minute book gift lists:

It’s just fine to drink and read," the New York Times advised in its wine book roundup.

The Telegraph selected Christmas books for children.

The best books of 2007 list in the Moscow Times came with a cautionary note that "the country Russia becomes will depend on what it's willing to remember."

Entertainment Weekly's best and worst books of 2007 included "five titles you'll be hard-pressed to give away at yard sales for years to come."


GLOW: Scribner Book Company: Cahokia Jazz by Francis Spufford

Media and Movies

Four SAG Award Nominations for Into the Wild

Book-to-film adaptations continue to impress prize voters this season, as the nominations for the Screen Actors Guild Awards demonstrated. According to USA Today, Into the Wild, based on Jon Krakauer's book, "led all movies with four nominations, for Emile Hirsch, Hal Holbrook and Catherine Keener, as well as a nomination for outstanding performance by a cast, essentially the guild's best-picture award."

No Country for Old Men, adapted from the Cormac McCarthy novel, "landed nominations for Javier Bardem and Tommy Lee Jones, as well as a nomination for its cast."

Other adaptations earning nominations were Away From Her, A Mighty Heart and The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford.

The winners will be announced at SAG's awards ceremony, January 28.


Weiser Books: The Weiser Tarot Journal: Guidance and Practice by Theresa Reed;  The Weiser Tarot: A New Edition of the Classic 1909 Waite-Smith Deck (78-Card Deck with 64-Page Guidebook) by Arthur Edward Waite and Pamela Colman Smith;  The Weiser Tarot Card Sticker Book by Arthur Edward Waite and Pamela Colman Smith

Media Heat: Booksellers on Today

This morning on the Today Show four booksellers present holiday gift recommendations, including coffee-table books, fiction, children's, general interest and memoir titles:

  • Marva Allen of Hue-Man Bookstore & Cafe in New York City
  • Jamil Zaidi of Elliott Bay Book Company, Seattle, Wash.
  • Roberta Rubin of the Book Stall at Chestnut Court, Winnetka, Ill.
  • Roxanne Coady of R.J. Julia Booksellers in Madison, Conn.

[Thanks to Bookselling This Week for the tip!]


Today on Live with Regis and Kelly: Charles Grodin, author of If I Only Knew Then . . . : Learning from Our Mistakes (Springboard Press, $24.99, 9780446581158/0446581151).


Tonight on ABC's 20/20: Heather Hornback Bland, author of God Said Yes (Berkley, $21.95, 9780425217238/042521723X). (Incidentally Kathy L. Patrick, Pulpwood Empress, writes that the Pulpwood Queens Book Club has made this book by the woman who was accidently run over by her mother at age four a 2008 book club selection. "You will know the true meaning of Christmas by watching Heather on this show!," Patrick continued. "She touched our hearts and will touch many lives with her message, 'God Said Yes.' ")


Tomorrow on NPR's All Things Considered: Jake Halpern, author of Fame Junkies: The Hidden Truths Behind America's Favorite Addiction (Mariner Books, $13.95, 9780618918713/061891871X).


On CBS's Sunday Morning: Bob Eckstein, author of The History of the Snowman (Simon Spotlight Entertainment, $14.95, 9781416940661/1416940669).

Also on Sunday Morning: Jon Meacham, author of American Gospel: God, the Founding Fathers, and the Making of a Nation (Random House, $15.95, 9780812976663/0812976665).


On Sunday on NPR's Weekend Edition: Julia Fox, author of Jane Boleyn: The True Story of the Infamous Lady Rochford (Ballantine, $26.95, 9780345485410/0345485416).


On Monday, December 24, and Tuesday on the Early Show: Kenneth C. Davis, author of Don't Know Much About Anything: Everything You Need to Know but Never Learned About People, Places, Events, and More! (HarperCollins, $14.95, 9780061251467/0061251461).


Beginning on Monday, December 24, and running through Monday, December 31, Good Morning America will air segments on sparkling wines and what to pair with them and feature What to Drink With What You Eat by Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg (Little, Brown, $35, 9780821257180/0821257188).

Also on Monday on Good Morning America: Caroline Kennedy, author of A Family Christmas (Hyperion, $26.95, 9781401322274/1401322271). On the show, Kennedy will meet Michelle Rochon, who as a girl received a letter from President Kennedy in 1961, a letter that is included in the anthology.


On Tuesday on NPR's Morning Edition: Sarah Boxer, author of Ultimate Blogs (Knopf, $14.95, 9780307278067/0307278069).


On the Early Show on Wednesday, December 26: Jennifer Kaufman, author of A Version of the Truth (Delacorte, $24, 9780385340199/0385340192).


On Wednesday on Good Morning America: Elisabeth Bumiller, author of Condoleezza Rice: An American Life (Random House, $27.95, 9781400065905/1400065909).


On Thursday, December 27, on the Today Show: Cassandra Forsythe, author of Women's Health Perfect Body Diet (Rodale, $24.95, 9781594867903/1594867909).


On Saturday, December 29, on Weekend Edition: Eric Weiner, author of The Geography of Bliss (Twelve, $25.99, 9780446580267/0446580260).


Book Review

Book Review: Night Haunts

Night Haunts: A Journey Through the London Night by Sukhdev Sandhu (Verso, $18.95 Hardcover, 9781844671625, September 2007)

In Night Haunts: A Journey Through the London Nights, professor of English literature and critic Sukhdev Sandhu has created a prose poem about the city of London that's both stylish and stark. This collection of 11 brief essays on the nocturnal life of a great city is bursting with gorgeous writing that's deployed with remarkable deftness in the service of describing an often grim and dangerous world.

From a flight with the avian police who patrol the city ("an endless origami unfolding, stretching out horizontally rather than vertically") by helicopter, Sandhu quickly moves down to street level where he begins to explore a theme that runs through many of these pieces: London, for all its commercial power and cultural dynamism, is revealed when the sun goes down as a filthy city in need of a thorough cleansing, both physical and moral. He accompanies the night cleaners, most of them African, observing that "if the city is a text, then cleaners do their best to erase the jottings and doodles that have been inscribed upon it." Along with the men known as "flushers" (more than 300 of them two decades ago, now reduced to 39), he descends into the fetid and lard-filled world of the London sewers to investigate the rumor of giant hairballs some claim threaten to clog the pipes. He doesn't find them, but when he recounts the story of a 150-sq.-ft. "fat iceberg" that took six weeks of manual labor in blazing summer heat and "supersucker machines" to dislodge from under Leicester Square, one doesn't know whether to laugh or retch.

Not content with a simple recounting of these quotidian efforts to keep the city habitable, Sandhu employs the cover of darkness to tunnel into London's spiritual heart. He spends an evening with the Samaritans, volunteers who man an all-night telephone hotline, "human sponges, absorbing hurt and perplexity from sprawling suburbs, gated compounds in Kensington to high-rise estates in Peckham," and attends an exorcism of the ghosts of a long abandoned jail. But perhaps the most moving essay, the final one, tells the story of the Tyburn nuns--"channels for the city's deepest fears and yearnings"--whose order has been conducting an all night prayer vigil in London for more than 100 years.

There's much more to savor in this elegant work: graffiti artists, mini-cab drivers, sleep technicians and Thames barge operators are some of London's night people whose company Sandhu keeps, and every page bristles with their brutally honest judgments on this imposing city. When its surface glitter is peeled away, nighttime London can be either an awesome or an awful place and, when he looks closely at it, Sukhdev Sandhu doesn't flinch.--Harvey Freedenberg


Deeper Understanding

Shelf Talk/New Age: 2012. What Does It Mean? Why Care?

The following is the latest in our series of Shelf Talk columns. This one focuses on New Age titles and is by Susan L. Weis, proprietress, breathe books, Baltimore, Md., and a contributing writer for New Age Retailer.


Today, December 21, 2007, is the beginning of a five-year countdown to December 21, 2012, which is the end of the long count Mayan calendar. Why should a calendar created by a race who lived circa 100 CE to 800 CE matter to us today? The Mayans, according to many prolific scholars, flourished for a brief period of time, but managed to leave behind some of the most technology-savvy and sacred artifacts known to mankind.
Without going into dizzying detail, the Mayans, who lived in what is now southern Mexico, Guatemala and Belize, created a calendrical system that spanned 5,000 years--before and after their existence here. They left us with knowledge of accurate astronomical occurrences and prophecies both startling and true.
The mystery that we are pondering now is why their long-count calendar ends on what we know as December 21, 2012. What is clear--and undisputed by the New Age and scientific community--is that on that day the earth will complete a 26,000-year wobble in our galaxy. But what will then occur? Is the world over? Will we wobble out of our atmosphere? Why does the 5,000-year cycle simply end?
To find the answers to these questions and to understand the magnificent culture of the Maya better, dozens of books are being published, mostly by Inner Tradition's Bear & Co. imprint. Sounds True is also publishing some interesting titles, but it's Tarcher-Penguin who surprisingly released one of the most digestible and comprehensive titles last year, 2012: The Return of Quetzalcoatl by Daniel Pinchbeck ($14.95, 9781585425921).
Pinchbeck, who appeared on the Colbert Report earlier this year (totally baffling Steven Colbert) is a New York writer who has written for such "straight" publications as the New York Times Magazine, Esquire, L.A. Weekly and Wired. His previous book, Breaking Open the Head (Broadway, $14.95, 9780767907439/0767907434), detailed his experiences with psychedelic drugs. The powerful visions he received led him to, well, break open his head and to enter other dimensions. His book 2012 is his attempt to try to make sense of the new levels of reality he was suddenly able to see.
I love this book because it's like a research paper interspersed with his rather dysfunctional life. He interviews or reviews the works of the major 2012 thinkers, as well as metaphysical writers, while weaving in his very personal stories of love, drugs, 9/11, crop circles, Shamanism, aliens and Burning Man experiences. What does all this have to do with 2012?
Like many of the other 2012 writers, Pinchbeck does not arrive at a definitive answer. Instead he describes a way of living that will make us more open to vibrational shifts that may occur over the next five years. The focus is on living in harmony with the earth and being open to change.
Most 2012 writers speak about a vibrational shift occurrng to the planet and emphasize that humans need to make this shift along with the earth. This means: be nice to each other, end war and conflict, embrace love, beauty and nature and open your heart. Sounds like the 1960s, right? Well, some people then were on to something . . .
When looking to stock your shelves with 2012 books, begin with the most celebrated Mayan scholar and creator of a new, more accurate calendar, Jose Arguelles. Time and Technosphere: the Law of Time in Human Affairs (Bear & Co., $20, 978187918991/1879181991/) is a daunting work but crucial in the understanding of the Mayan calendar. Its glossary is compulsory for delving further into the subject. You'll need to learn about the noosphere (earth's mental envelope or field) as well as other jargon (Tzolkin: sacred count; baktun: 394.52 years; geocosmic: holonomic perception of the unification of earth whole with the cosmic order).
Arguelles, who initiated the Harmonic Convergence in August 1987 (where were you?!) also penned The Mayan Factor: Path Beyond Technology (Bear & Co., $16, 9780939670382/0939680386), and he appears in the DVD from Sacred Mysteries, 2012, The Odyssey: Armageddon Is Not What it Used to Be ($24.95, 809573961097), a very good overview, which features notable authors, including John Major Jenkins.
Jenkins is probably the most accessible of the 2012 authors. As a young boy, he became fascinated with the Maya. His book Maya Cosmogenesis 2012 (Bear & Co., $20, 9781879181489) defines the Mayan World Ages--December 21, 2012 is the end of the fourth age, when, Jenkins proposes, a large chapter in human history will come to an end. (But don't worry--a new world will be born!) Through exhaustive study of Mayan artifacts and architecture, Jenkins pieces together their incredibly dense world and boils it down to the relevant, albeit scholarly, information we need to know.
Jenkins other works include Unlocking the Secrets of 2012 (CD from Sounds True, $24.95, 9781591796138/159179613X); Pyramid of Fire: The Lost Aztec Codex: Spiritual Ascent at the End of Time (Bear & Co., $14.95, 9781591430322/1591430321); and Galactic Alignment: The Transformation of Consciousness According to Mayan, Egyptian, and Vedic Traditions (Bear & Co., $18.95, 9781879181847/1879181843).
Also to be included in your 2012 collection is Barbara Hand Clow's The Mayan Code (Bear & Co., $18, 1591430704/9781591430704), a fascinating look at each "day" in the Mayan calendar and how history and the present time relate to the cycle.
Swedish author Carl Johan Calleman is another respected member of the gang of 2012 writers. The Mayan Calendar and the Transformation of Consciousness (Bear & Co., $18, 97815317430285/1591430283) is an in-depth look into their culture and how it relates to our world.
One of the few books that doesn't relate the most positive of experiences is Apocalypse 2012: A Scientific Investigation into Civilization's End by Lawrence E. Joseph (Morgan Road Books, $24.95, 9780767924474). This odd amalgamation of religion, science, speculation and humor is much different from the more high-tech, academic volumes mentioned above, but it's worth a look.
Perhaps the best place to start is the new Sounds True collection of 2012 writings, The Mystery of 2012: Predictions, Prophecies, and Possibilities ($22.95, 9781591796114/1591796113). Most of the writers mentioned here, as well as others, attempt to put it all together. If nothing else, you'll pick up some talking points (such as, it's not really the end of the world!) and you'll be introduced to the major themes of 2012 as the date approaches.
Did I mention how time is accelerating? See Clow and Pinchbeck for examples of time and population acceleration theories. This may all sound very much like science fiction--but that came from somewhere, didn't it? Sci-Fi meets end time and the results are mysterious but compelling. I recently had the opportunity to ask Deepak Chopra what he thought would happen on December 21, 2012. He smiled and thought for a moment and said, "Well, I guess it's what we'll make it."

Robert Gray: Wishing You a 'Fezziwig Smile' for the Holidays

Whether you believe the spirit of Christmas resides in the Christian or Dickensian or Santa Clausian or Wal-Martian tradition, the next four days will engulf you. I'll be spending this weekend on the bookstore's crazed sales floor. By Christmas Eve, I will have seen the holiday in all its guises, both merry and not-so-merry, played out on a very public stage. Certain things can be predicted:
  • Someone will ask, with frustration and anger twisting their features, "Where is your humor book section?"
  • Someone will complain because the Christmas cards and calendars aren't on sale yet.
  • Someone will request book gift suggestions for a relative who doesn't like to read.
  • Someone will threaten their kids with "no presents" if they don't start behaving "right now!"
  • Someone will say, "Merry Christmas," with intent to provoke, and I'll say, "Merry Christmas," in return because it generates a smile and sometimes even a "thank you."
  • Someone, cast adrift in the gift-buying maelstrom, will still be looking for a good read and ask for a recommendation.

We are a curious species.

Before hurling myself into the deep end of the holiday retail pool, I wanted to wrap up a year in which many books were published and many dire economic predictions were made for our industry. Where could I turn for perspective?

I opted for a little time traveling. Readers solved the mystery of the fourth dimension long ago, even if physicists still struggle with it. You want to travel in time? Read. Oddly, the best advice for this journey comes from the film version of the Time Machine, in which Filby so memorably tells George, "Relax, try to relax. You've all the time in the world."

Sometimes we forget, but readers do have all the time in the world. Literally. At their fingertips. As 2007 draws to a close, I'm turning the clock back a century to give you a peek at the 1907 Christmas season, as seen in the pages of the New York Times.

Yes, they were just as confused as we are. Among the headlines with a familiar ring from 1907 were "Holiday exercises held in a way to satisfy all religious beliefs: sectarianism is avoided," "No war toys for children," "Employees in financial district don't expect usual big bonuses," "Record Christmas travel" and even a meteorological prediction: "Cold for Christmas, says weather man: Yesterday's storm gave buyers a late start, but the stores were crowded before noon."  

There was a report on an exhibition of the year's books at the National Arts Club, noting that a similar event 29 years before, called a "Book Fair," had been less successful, since "the buying and selling of books at wholesale and retail was the principal object." Happily, in 1907, the "mere buying and selling of books has been prohibited in this year's exhibition by a ruling of the Library Committee of the Arts Club, the desire of the latter being to divest their enterprise, as much as possible, of the purely commercial features which it might otherwise take on."

My favorite discovery came from "An Englishman's views on an American Christmas," in which the writer recounted his adventures "buying--buying--buying as if the Christmas 'stores' had just opened and were due to close again in six minutes. It's all so American, but none the less Christmassy. They get the right spirit, too, but like everything else in America, they get it in a hurry and all at once. . . . here the idea seems to be to wait until the last minute, then draw all the money from the bank and rush to the Christmas shops to spend it wildly--recklessly--joyously--madly. It's pandemonium! But it's great, old chap. It's Christmas!"

In the December 28 edition of the Times, the headline "Boston's holiday book trade keen" introduced an article on bookshop sales in that city, where "the holiday season has left a Fezziwig smile, and a comfortable willingness to erect a handsome tombstone over the dead past of 1907."

With the turn of a virtual page, we're back in the present and at the end of our year. I want to thank the great people I interviewed for this column in 2007, met at trade shows, conversed with by email and phone; and I want to especially thank all of you for reading.

However you choose to celebrate this weekend and next, I wish you a merry Christmas, a new year filled with extraordinary books and, of course, a "Fezziwig smile."--Robert Gray (column archives available at Fresh Eyes Now)


Powered by: Xtenit