Shelf Awareness for Thursday, January 10, 2008

Flatiron Books: The Familiar by Leigh Bardugo

St. Martin's Griffin: One Last Shot by Betty Cayouette

Flatiron Books: Anita de Monte Laughs Last by Xochitl Gonzalez

Page Street YA: The Final Curse of Ophelia Cray by Christine Calella

HarperOne: I Finally Bought Some Jordans: Essays by Michael Arceneaux

Tor Nightfire: Ghost Station by S.A. Barnes


Notes: Mendocino Fire; Store Openings and Closings

A fire has damaged the building housing Gallery Bookshop and Bookwinkle's Children's Books, Mendocino, Calif., but the store remained open yesterday, "with employees working from the doorway," the Santa Rosa Press Democrat reported. The fire apparently broke out in one of the apartments above the store. The building was put up in 1871 and is part of the historic downtown.

In late 2006, longtime staff member Christie Olson Day bought the store from Tony Miksak (Shelf Awareness, October 18, 2006).


Barack Obama leads Hillary Clinton in the race for increased book sales, according to the AP.

Campaigning for the Democratic presidential nomination has had a coattail effect, boosting sales of titles by the two leaders. Crown has ordered reprintings of both The Audacity of Hope and Dreams from My Father by Senator Obama. And sales of Living History by Senator Clinton have risen, although they trail those for Obama's books.


In May, Borders plans to open a 22,051-sq.-ft. store at Southbury Plaza, at Main Street and Route 67, in Southbury, Conn., between Danbury and Waterbury. In connection with the new store, the company will close the 2,589-sq.-ft. Waldenbooks store currently in Southbury Plaza.

In other Borders news, hedge fund manager William Ackman has raised his company's stake in Borders to 18% from 17.1%, as reported to the SEC in late November, according to the AP. Pershing Square Capital Management now owns some 10.6 million shares of Borders's 58.8 million shares outstanding.

The firm has also bought swap contracts in Borders, giving it control of nearly 22% of Borders stock, according to the Toronto Star.


In March 2009, Barnes & Noble plans to open a store in Port Orange, Fla., near Daytona Beach. The store will in the Pavilion at Port Orange at I-95 and Dunnlawton Avenue. 


ECCO Family Bookstore, a non-profit enterprise, has opened in downtown New Baltimore, Mich. The Voice reported that the "venture has been a joint effort of the congregation at Emmanuel Christian Center . . . Store workers are volunteers from the church and much of the renovation to the downtown shop was done with donated time from church members."


The Blue Dragon Bookshop, Ashland, Ore., closed December 31 after 24 years in business, according to the Mail Tribune.

"My wife wants me to retire and it'll be nice being able to just go and have a cup of coffee with people," said Bob Peterson, co-owner of the used bookshop with his wife, Kate Nehrbass, who added, "That bookstore was his passion. He started with nothing and built it up."

The Mail Tribune noted that "several potential buyers looked into purchasing Blue Dragon, but Peterson said they either didn't have enough money or the high rent scared them away."


Ithaca Books, Ithaca, N.Y., is closing at the end of the month, according to the Ithaca Journal. The 10-year-old used bookstore has an academic emphasis. Owner Jim Curran told the paper that the drop in used book prices online in the last two years "started to have a pretty profound effect."

He added: "The market definitely changed, affecting sales, and I also feel personally in my life, I want to do other things and explore other opportunities. I had a great run for 10 years in Ithaca, and it was wonderful. It's truly time to move on. I feel very satiated."


The Telegraph reported that British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who attended an event launching the "National Year of Reading," said he wants children to gain "the love of books. It's not just the joy of reading, father-to-son or in the classroom. It's also the benefits of reading. It's probably one of the best anti-poverty, anti-deprivation, anti-crime, anti-vandalism policies you can think of."


The traveling reader: "It's time to start thinking about the year's opportunities for travel," suggested the AP (via the Dallas Morning News), "and several new books are out to guide you."


The University of Michigan Press and University of Michigan Library are accepting nominations for pieces to be included in the 2008 Best of Technology Writing anthology, which will be edited by Clive Thompson, who writes about technology and culture for the New York Times Magazine, Wired, New York Magazine and other publications. Please go to for more information. 


Rachel Kempster has been promoted to associate director of publicity at DK Publishing. For the past two years, she has been publicity manager as well as mentored and supervised DK's summer interns from the Posse Foundation.


Peachtree Teen: The Absinthe Underground by Jamie Pacton

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Nobel Winner; Sontag's Son; Skinny Bitches

This morning on Good Morning America: Nanette Gartrell, author of My Answer Is No . . . If That's Okay with You: How Women Can Say No and (Still) Feel Good About It (Free Press, $24, 9781416546931/1416546936).


Today on the Diane Rehm Show: Geraldine Brooks, author of People of the Book (Viking, $25.95, 9780670018215/067001821X).


Today on KCRW's Bookworm: David Plante, author of ABC (Pantheon, $23, 9780375424618/037542461X). As the show describes it: "In this novel, a series of unlinked personal, familial and global catastrophes leads unrelated victims to search for order. Mysteriously, the 'order' they discover is alphabetical order. So many cultures begin their alphabets with ABC. Why? What revelation is concealed in the alphabet's code?"


Today on NPR's Wait Wait Don't Tell Me: Chris Elliott, author of Into Hot Air: Mounting Mount Everest (Weinstein Books, $23.95, 9781602860070/1602860076).


Today on Fox Business: Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin, authors of Skinny Bitch in the Kitch: Kick-Ass Recipes for Hungry Girls Who Want to Stop Cooking Crap (and Start Looking Hot!) (Running Press, $14.95, 9780762431069/0762431067).


Today on Fresh Air: David Rieff, whose new book, Swimming in a Sea of Death: A Son's Memoir (S&S, $21, 9780743299466/0743299469), chronicles the death of his mother, Susan Sontag, whom he helped die by pretending she wasn't dying.


Tonight on the Charlie Rose Show: Muhammad Yunus, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize whose new book is Creating a World Without Poverty: Social Business and the Future of Capitalism (PublicAffairs, $26, 9781586484934/1586484931).


HarperOne: Be a Revolution: How Everyday People Are Fighting Oppression and Changing the World--And How You Can, Too by Ijeoma Oluo

This Weekend on Book TV: Flying Close to the Sun

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, January 12

8 a.m. Michael Pollan, author of In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto (Penguin, $21.95, 9781594201455/1594201455), argues that the traditional American diet that relied on whole foods has been displaced by one that stresses highly processed foods of dubious nutritional value. (Re-airs Saturday at 7 p.m. and Sunday at 3:30 p.m.)
1 p.m. Book TV visited the Abraham Lincoln Book Shop, Chicago, Ill., to learn about "virtual book signing."  Using live webcast technology, owner Daniel Weinberg interviewed General Wesley Clark (ret.), author of A Time to Lead: For Duty, Honor and Country (Palgrave Macmillan, $24.95, 9781403984746/1403984743), and allowed web viewers to order a book and watch it being signed.
8 p.m. History on Book TV. Joseph Ellis, author of American Creation: Triumphs and Tragedies at the Founding of the Republic (Knopf, $26.95, 9780307263698/030726369X), discusses his book with Richard Brookhiser, author of What Would the Founders Do?: Our Questions, Their Answers (Perseus, $15.95, 9780465008209/0465008208).

9 p.m. After Words. Congressman Bobby Rush (D.-Ill.) interviews Cathy Wilkerson, author of Flying Close to the Sun: My Life and Times as a Weatherman (Seven Stories Press, $26.95, 9781583227718/1583227717). Wilkerson recounts her middle-class upbringing and her introduction to radical politics in the 1960s. (Re-airs Sunday at 6 p.m. and 9 p.m., and Monday at 12 a.m.)
Sunday, January 13

12 p.m. Madeleine Albright, former Secretary of State and author of Memo to the President Elect: How to Restore America's Reputation and Leadership (Harper, $26.95, 9780061351808/0061351806), shares her ideas on how to handle the challenges that the next president will face. (Re-airs Sunday at 8 p.m.)


Harpervia: Behind You Is the Sea by Susan Muaddi Darraj

Books & Authors

Children's Book Review: After Tupac and D Foster

After Tupac and D Foster by Jacqueline Woodson (Putnam, $16.99, 9780399246548/0399246541, 160p., ages 8-12, January 2008)

Although one need not know who Tupac Shakur is to appreciate how deeply his music and life influence the three 11-year-old girls featured in Woodson's (If You Come Softly) novel, a trip to YouTube to witness his music will greatly enhance one's appreciation of the author's work here. The unnamed narrator and Neeka have grown up together on the same residential block of African-American families in Queens, N.Y. Neeka is the third of seven children whose parents are still together; the narrator is an only child who never knew her father. In the summer of 1994, D shows up on their street, with her green eyes, hair a "strange dark coppery color I'd never seen on a black girl--not naturally," and, even at age 11, a figure ("some body going on"). Readers will feel as if they are eavesdropping as the girls begin a tenuous conversation, and then become fast friends.

The story unfolds in flashback, as the narrator tries to make sense of the time D was a part of her life, from age 11 to age 13: "D Foster showed up a few months before Tupac got shot that first time and left us the summer before he died." At first, the novel seems constricted by these parameters, which make for some awkward pacing at times. But as the story progresses, the framework lends credence to the narrator's experience. Isn't this just how a teenager would view her life, bookended by the defining moments of the girls' friendship and their favorite shared performer? Together Tupac and D Foster broaden Neeka and the narrator's views of the world around them. D travels by bus to parts of the city the other two girls have never seen ("She's like from another planet. The Planet of the Free"); they are not allowed even to leave their block. But their mothers prove not to be unreasonable: Neeka's older brother is chased down by police because he is jogging home from the basketball court ("Cops be trying to pull a brother down"), while her oldest brother serves time for a crime he did not commit. D tells the girls little about her past life in foster homes, instead revealing herself through the songs with which she most identifies--Tupac's "Brenda's Got a Baby" and "Dear Mama" in particular. His songs take us deep into the urban underbelly, where 12-year-old Brenda discards a baby she cannot care for, and where Tupac's pregnant mother sits in a jail cell because of her involvement with the Black Panthers. When D's mother comes to claim her, the girls begin to know the complexities of joy and pain intertwined--happiness for D, reunited with her mother, pain when their friend moves away. The narrator equates that loss with the loss she feels at Tupac's death, imagining them together, "D and Tupac. Tupac and D." Whether the friends are separated by miles or the grave, the distance seems unnavigable. Once again, Woodson reaches young people where they live and breathe, inviting them to re-examine their world through the eyes of full-bodied, memorable characters. --Jennifer M. Brown


University of California Press: The Accidental Ecosystem: People and Wildlife in American Cities by Peter S. Alagona

Deeper Understanding

Robert Gray: What Do Baby Boomers Want (to Read)?

If you have made it past that headline, I thank you for your patience and understanding. Boomers can be annoying, even to other boomers. I know; I'm a BB myself. On the other hand, boomers are, and will continue to be, a driving force in the bookselling world for one big reason: They still read for pleasure.

I want to pose a couple of questions this week to independent booksellers:

  1. What are your thoughts about long-term marketing to BBs?
  2. By the year 2018, will boomers still be shopping in bricks-and-mortar bookstores or primarily online?

I'd really like to know what you think. Call it a conversation starter for 2008.

Our industry keeps mourning the loss of young readers, but I wonder whether we're taking "older" readers for granted. I worry about indie bookstores in this regard because, though painfully out of context, "something's happening here."

In a recent New York Times article, headlined "Six Decades at the Center of Attention, and Counting," Charles Duhigg wrote that, "with 37 million Americans over the age of 65, and 30 million more expected to cross that thin gray line in the next decade, the boomers and older consumers still represent billions of dollars in potential sales. So once again, companies are scrambling to update their slicing and dicing of the senior marketplace."

We already knew this, of course, but as Duhigg added, "what they are finding, advertising executives say, is that some old tactics don't work anymore. Older consumers don't want to be treated like teenagers; what's more, they don't want to believe they fall into any niche at all."

The knockout punch was delivered by Blaine Branchik, an associate professor of marketing at Quinnipiac University, who told the Times, "Seniors, particularly baby boomers, each believe they belong to a market segment made up of exactly one person. Many believe the only thing they have in common is that they are all so unique that they have nothing in common."

Boomers who turned 60 last week will not go gently into that good night. They will continue to reinvent themselves, individually as well as collectively. We will hear that 60 is the new 40 and 70 is the new 50, and eventually that 90 is the new 70.

Technology will play a key role in this one-person marketing strategy. As boomers age, many of the stereotypes about what might be called Electronics Deficiency Syndrome will vanish. On the road to hip dotage, a substantial percentage of aging boomers will be tech-savvy in ways their parents' generation never was.

As Matt Richtel pointed out in the Times last fall, "Technology investors and entrepreneurs, long obsessed with connecting to teenagers and 20-somethings, are starting a host of new social networking sites aimed at baby boomers and graying computer users. The sites have names like Eons, Rezoom, Multiply, Maya's Mom, Boomj and Boomertown. They look like Facebook--with wrinkles. And they are seeking to capitalize on what investors say may be a profitable characteristic of older Internet users: they are less likely than youngsters to flit from one trendy site to the next."

Maybe BBs have always preferred their individuality on a global scale.

At sales floor level in the bookstore, I've notice a marked decline in the number of older customers boasting about their Luddite status or the innate brilliance of their android progeny with iPod ear implants and dexterous, texting fingertips. Boomers have never shown a tendency to surrender center stage, and it is hard to imagine that they won't carry at least some of their 'tude into old age.

According to Richtel "there are 78 million boomers--roughly three times the number of teenagers--and most of them are Internet users who learned computer skills in the workplace. Indeed, the number of Internet users who are older than 55 is roughly the same as those who are aged 18 to 34, according to Nielsen/NetRatings, a market research firm."

But . . . boomers still read and they still buy books.

The dilemma here is whether, as they turn 65, 70, 75, they will continue to buy books from bricks-and-mortar bookshops or will point-and-click their purchases because the Internet is where they have found community and individuality.

Check your crystal balls and tell me what you see in the future. Boomer jokes also welcome.--Robert Gray (column archives available at Fresh Eyes Now)


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