Shelf Awareness for Friday, January 11, 2008

Workman Publishing: Paint by Sticker: Plants and Flowers: Create 12 Stunning Images One Sticker at a Time! by Workman Publishing

Sourcebooks Landmark: The Ways We Hide by Kristina McMorris

Simon & Schuster: Recording for the Simon & Schuster and Simon Kids Fall Preview 2022

Soho Crime: Lady Joker, Volume 2 by Kaoru Takamura, translated by Allison Markin Powell and Marie Iida

Berkley Books: Once Upon a December by Amy E. Reichert; Lucy on the Wild Side by Kerry Rea; Where We End & Begin by Jane Igharo

Kensington Publishing Corporation: The Lost Girls of Willowbrook by Ellen Marie Wiseman

St. Martin's Press: Wild: The Life of Peter Beard: Photographer, Adventurer, Lover by Graham Boynton


Holiday Sales: Bumpy Ride for General Retail, Bookstores

By several measures, general retail sales barely rose during the holiday season. RetailMetrics said sales in December at stores open at least a year were up 0.4% compared to a 3.2% gain in December 2006, while the International Council of Shopping Centers said comp-store sales rose 0.9%.

Rupert Murdoch's Wall Street Journal took a positive approach to the news, writing that although this was the worst holiday season in five years, "a sales gain for the industry as a whole in December--albeit slight--lent some reassurance that consumers continue to spend." By contrast, the New York Times reported that the season "ended dismally for most retailers, whose sales tumbled despite deep discounts and extended store hours, stoking fears that the economy is tipping into a recession."

Ellen Zentner of the Bank of Tokyo-Misubishi told the Times that sales results "showed that the U.S. economy absolutely tanked in December. Consumer spending drives the economy. What we're left with is no evidence of any kind of consumer momentum going into 2008."

On the other hand, Stephen J. Hock, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School, told the Journal that the season was "generally a bit weak, but the sky is not falling." He added that consumer spending "will hang in there."

Wal-Mart and Costco were among the few gainers, which was attributed to their low prices. The companies' December comp-store sales rose 2.4% and 5%, respectively. Most other major retailers reported losses, including Macy's, down 7.9%; Penney, off 7.5%; Kohl's, down 11.4%. Results for the November-December period were somewhat better at most stores, but still were not as high as sales gains in recent years.

Even luxury stores or stores like Target that draw higher-income consumers felt the draft. Saks, whose comp-store sales were up 0.8% in December, noted that "its well-heeled customers were holding out for discounts," as the Times put it. And John D. Morris of Wachovia Securities commented: "Trading down became contagious."

December comp-stores sales at Nordstrom fell 4%; Target fell 5%; Neiman Marcus was up 2.9%.


Barnes & Noble, Borders Group and Books-A-Million offered holiday sales reports with mixed news. At B&N, comp-store sales fell, and the company had to revise earnings downward, leading to a 19.1% drop in its stock price. In Borders's case, comp-store sales rose 2.4%, a healthy figure this season, but profits were hurt by discounting. BAM had flat comp-store sales. Still, book sales at the trio were relatively solid.


During the nine weeks ended January 5, sales at B&N were $1.2 billion, up 4.1% over the same period a year earlier. Sales at stores open at least a year fell 0.4%, dragged down by music sales that were "significantly below forecast." Comp-store sales of books and other non-music products rose 0.8% during the period. At B& sales rose 10.9% to $129.4 million.

Because of the holiday results and "January sales trends to date," the company reduced its expectations for earnings for the year by 10 cents a share, from a range of $1.91-$2.09 a share to $1.81-$1.99 per share.

Wall Street responded harshly. On an up day for the market, B&N closed at $27.91, down 19.1%, on five times the usual trading volume.


At Borders, sales in the nine weeks ended January 5 rose 3.9% to $1.1 billion. Sales at U.S. Borders superstores rose 6.5% over the same period last year, and sales at U.S. superstores open at least a year rose 2.4% because of increases in "both customer transaction count and average ticket." Comp-store book sales rose 3.4%, cafe sales were up 16.7%, gifts and stationery rose 10%, but, as with B&N, music sales fell, in Borders's case, 12.9%. Excluding music sales, comp-store sales at U.S. superstores rose 4.3%.

Overall sales at Waldenbooks Specialty Retail, which includes Borders Express, fell 15.6% to $192.2 million, reflecting the closing of 136 Walden stores during 2007. The division's comp-store sales rose 0.2%.

International sales rose 36.3% to $109.3 million. Comp-store international sales were up 10.8%, mainly because of "strong performance" in Australia.

In a statement, CEO George Jones said, "We delivered on our promise to improve comp-store sales performance this holiday season compared to last year in all of our business segments. Through effective use of our now 23.5-million-member Borders Rewards loyalty program, we increased traffic at superstores and continued the positive sales trends experienced during the previous two quarters. Still, the overall holiday shopping environment was intensely promotional and impacted the bottom line more than we anticipated."

Borders closed at $10.18 a share, up 3.9% in double the average volume.


Sales at Books-A-Million in the nine weeks ended January 5 rose 5.3% to $130.8 million and sales at stores open a year were flat.

In a statement, BAM president and CEO Sandra B. Cochran said, "The sales environment for the holiday season proved challenging as we confronted softening economic conditions and a value-conscious consumer. Nonetheless, we saw good results in a number of our core book categories as well as strong performances in bargain books and the gift department. Bestsellers for the season included James Patterson's Double Cross, Tony Dungy's Quiet Strength, Glenn Beck's Inconvenient Book and Jan Karon's Home to Holly Springs."


Vintage: Morningside Heights by Joshua Henkin

Children's Book News: Houghton-Harcourt Moves; O'Dell Award

Harcourt's San Diego, Calif., offices will close June 30, as the consolidation of Houghton Mifflin's and Harcourt's trade divisions continues following Houghton Mifflin's purchase of Harcourt Trade from Reed Elsevier late last year.

In an additional staff move, Betsy Groban has been named senior v-p and publisher, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt children's book group. She joined Houghton Mifflin in 2006 as v-p and publisher of the children's book group. Before that, she worked at WGBH as managing director of WGBH Enterprises and at Little, Brown as v-p, associate publisher and director of marketing for the children's book group.

Lori Benton, v-p and publisher of Harcourt Children's Books, will leave the company at the end of the month.


Christopher Paul Curtis has won the 2008 Scott O'Dell Award for Elijah of Buxton (Scholastic), a novel set in 1860 and narrated by an 11-year-old who is a first-generation free-born child, living in the Canadian town of Buxton, roughly 40 miles from Detroit, Mich. The award, established in 1982 by O'Dell (author of The Island of the Blue Dolphins), honors a work of historical fiction and includes a $5,000 prize for the author.

Curtis, no stranger to awards or to historical fiction, won the 2000 Newbery Medal for Bud, Not Buddy, set in Depression-era Michigan, and was awarded a 1996 Newbery Honor for The Watsons Go to Birmingham--1963.


Tim Ditlow, who cast Jim Dale as the voice for hundreds of characters in the Harry Potter books and launched the audio version of Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials Trilogy, is joining Brilliance Audio, now owned by Ditlow was the longtime publisher of children's audiobook company Listening Library, his family's business, which Random House purchased in 1999. Last May, the company appointed Ditlow v-p, publisher at large for the Random House Audio Group, and he announced in November that he would leave the company at the end of the year.

When Amazon bought Brilliance Audio (Shelf Awareness, May 23), the online retailer said the acquisition would enable it "to work closely with the book publishing community to further expand the number of books produced in audio format and provide customers with an even greater selection of audiobooks."--Jennifer M. Brown, reporting from the ALA Midwinter Conference in Philadelphia, Pa.


Beaming Books: Sarah Rising by Ty Chapman, illustrated by Deann Wiley

Notes: Another Hundred Indies in 2007; Pulpwood Queens Tour

Some 115 new bookstores joined the American Booksellers Association in 2007, the third year in a row that bookstore openings exceeded 100.

ABA CEO Avin Domnitz said, "This is very good news and an indication of a growing trend among communities that are recognizing the unique contributions of local independent businesses. These new ABA member stores offer a one-of-a-kind environment and knowledgeable owners and staff who are dedicated to serving their neighborhoods."

For stories about some of the 115 stores and a full list, see Bookselling This Week.


Another winner in the presidential primaries on Tuesday in New Hampshire was MainStreet BookEnds in Warner, which hosted several events for candidates and was visited by Senator Hillary Clinton, Rep. Dennis Kucinich and Mike Gravel. Read more about the store and its political adventures in a BTW story


The Pulpwood Queen Posse is currently traveling through the South in a "Cowboy Cadillac" (GMC Suburban), visiting bookstores and giving a big hair makeover for the beauty portion of Pulpwood Queen founder Kathy L. Patrick's Big, Blonde, and Beautiful Book Tour. Patrick reports that 10 more chapters of the Pulpwood Queen Book Clubs have formed in the last week. Read her blog to get the full, big, blonde flavor of the tour.


Effective immediately, National Book Network is distributing the following publishers:

  • Avari Press, Smoketown, Pa., which publishes fantasy literature and nonfiction works for readers of fantasy literature.
  • Pinter & Martin, which is an independent U.K. publisher that specializes in titles on pregnancy and childbirth and psychology.
  • Bnei Baruch, Thornhill, Ontario, Canada, which publishes books on the teachings of Kabbalah.


Shelf Awareness Job Board: Click Here to Post Your Job>

IPG Adds Nine Publishers, Several New to the U.S.

Effective immediately Independent Publishers Group is distributing:

  • Baldini Castoldi Dalai editore, Milan, Italy, which publishes fiction, biography, art and photography, sport, film, music and collected essays. Upcoming titles include the fashion biography Being Armani by Renata Molho (June) and the thriller I Kill by Giorgio Faletti (June). This marks Baldini Castoldi Dalai editore's entry into the English-language market. The house has historical roots in Baldini Castoldi, the publishing house founded in 1897.
  • Bright Sky Press, Albany, Tex., publishes cooking, gardening, health, history, music, photography and sports titles with connections to Texas, including Barbecue Biscuits & Beans by Bill Cauble and Cliff Teinert and In Praise of Pecans by June Jackson with photographs by Watt M. Casey, Jr. New for the spring: Cooking with Marie by Marie Hejl (April), Clear Vision by Reed Bunzel (April) and Tailwind Both Ways by Laurence M. Lasater (April).
  • Clavis Publishing, Hasselt, Belgium, which publishes children's books, including illustrated stories and fairy tales, pop-up books and juvenile fiction. Coming soon: Guido Van Genechten's Ricky (August) and Leo Timmer's Deep Sea Doctor Dean (May). This is the company's first foray into the U.S.
  • Duo Press, Forest Hills, N.Y., which publishes children's books that aim to stimulate imagination, play and language skills, focusing on newborn- to preschool-aged children and their parents. Spring titles include: Sounds Funny by Kevin Somers (April) and two titles in the Cool Counting Book series, 123 USA and 123 New York both by Puck and illustrated by Kevin Somers (April).
  • The National Maritime Museum, London, the world's largest maritime museum, comprised of three sites: the Maritime Galleries, the Royal Observatory and the Queen's House. Among upcoming nonfiction titles related to the sea, ships, time and the stars: Air, Light and Water by Jenny Gaschke (June) and Tangle of Matter and Ghost by Catherine Lance (April).
  • Pendo Press, which is launching its Remember When It Didn't Hurt series with the self-help title, 8 Steps to a Pain-Free Back by Esther Gokhale (April). The press is affiliated with the Esther Gokhale Wellness Center.
  • Prydwen Press, a small press specializing in picture books. Its first title is The Vanities by the fashion industry art director and illustrator Terence Lawlor.
  • Senses Five Press, Hoboken, N.J., which publishes the fantasy and science fiction magazine Sybil's Garage, is releasing its first title, Paper Cities edited by Ekaterina Sedia (April). The press will focus on speculative fiction, poetry, art and essays.
  • Tiller Publishing, St. Michaels, Md., which focuses on every aspect of maritime life, from designing and building boats to nautical fiction and sea-inspired cookbooks. Sailing forth in May: In Pursuit of Glory by William H. White and Paul Garnett. The press's bestselling title is Voyaging on a Small Income by Annie Hill.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Happy Happy

Tonight 20/20 cheerfully talks with:

  • Eric Weiner whose new book is The Geography of Bliss: One Grump's Search for the Happiest Places in the World (Twelve, $25.99, 9780446580267/0446580260)
  • Sonja Lyubomirsky, author of The How of Happiness: A Scientific Approach to Getting the Life You Want (Penguin Press, $25.95, 9781594201486/159420148X)


WETA's Author, Author! features a conversation with Kelly DiNardo, author of Gilded Lili: Lili St. Cyr and the Striptease Mystique (Back Stage Books, $24.95, 9780823088898/0823088898).


Tonight on Larry King Live: Suzanne Somers, whose Ageless: The Naked Truth About Biodentical Hormones (Three Rivers Press, $13.95, 9780307237255/0307237257) is now out in paperback.


On Sunday on NRP's Weekend All Things Considered: 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).


Books & Authors

Book Brahmins: Douglas Preston

Douglas Preston was born in Cambridge, Mass., in 1956, and grew up in what he calls the deadly boring suburb of Wellesley. His first job, at the American Museum of Natural History in New York, resulted in his nonfiction book, Dinosaurs in the Attic. Later he wrote a novel set in the Museum, called Relic, co-authored with Lincoln Child, which was made into a box office hit movie by Paramount Pictures. In Relic, Preston and Child introduced the fictional FBI agent Aloysius Pendergast, who has now appeared in many of their books. His latest novel is Blasphemy, published by Tor/Forge last Tuesday. In addition to writing novels, Preston writes nonfiction pieces for the New Yorker and the Atlantic Monthly. He spends his free time riding horses in New Mexico and tooling around the Maine coast in an old lobster boat. Preston counts in his ancestry the poet Emily Dickinson, the newspaperman Horace Greeley and the infamous murderer and opium addict Amasa Greenough. Here he answers questions we like to ask:
On your nightstand now:
My wife hates my overflowing nightstand, tottering with books. "You can't be reading all those books!" she says. A selection: The Day of the Jackal by Frederick Forsyth. Case, Amore, Universi by Fosco Maraini (I always try to be reading one book in Italian), a copy of Scientific American, a copy of the New Republic, Scaramouche by Rafael Sabatini, The Hard Way by Lee Child, The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins, A Long, Long Way by Sebastian Barry, Monsters of the Sea by Richard Ellis, the Kama Sutra (just kidding), a broken watch, loose change, a clock, a belt buckle, a button, a lamp, three pens, a shoehorn, a crumpled wad of receipts, a 50-euro note and a plastic glow-in-the-dark fly.
Favorite books when you were a child:
The Curious Lobster by Richard Warren Hatch, The Sirens of Titan by Kurt Vonnegut
Your top five authors:
Leo Tolstoy, A. Conan Doyle, Vladimir Nabokov, Wilkie Collins, Charles Dickens
Book you've faked reading:
All the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy
Book you are an evangelist for:
Saturday by Ian McEwan
Book you've bought for the cover:
Hmmmm. I almost bought Haunted by Chuck Palahniuk because of the cover. Horrible book, glad I didn't.
Book that changed your life:
The Sirens of Titan by Kurt Vonnegut
Favorite line from a book:
"Bussoftlhee, mememormee! Till thousendsthee. Lps. The keys to. Given! A way a lone a last a loved a long the riverrun . . ."--Finnegans Wake by James Joyce
Book you most want to read again for the first time:
The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins


Book Review

Book Review: Night Train to Lisbon

Night Train to Lisbon by Pascal Mercier (Grove Press, $25.00 Hardcover, 9780802118585, December 2007)

One of the most thoughtful and entertaining novels to come out of Europe in a decade is Night Train to Lisbon, written by Swiss philosopher Peter Bieri under the pseudonym of Pascal Mercier. It's a smart, heartfelt, thoroughly enjoyable book written for thinking adults, and the most recent incarnation, from Hermann Hesse's Steppenwolf right down to Carlos Ruiz Zafon's The Shadow of the Wind, of that potent, ever-popular myth--the book that changes your life.

That's exactly what 57-year-old Raimund Gregorius finds in a secondhand bookshop. That little book, along with a young Portuguese woman about to jump off a bridge, cause this set-in-his-ways professor of dead languages to walk out of the school where he has taught for 30 years, out of his rigid life of habits in Bern, and get on a train to Lisbon to find out everything he can about the little book's Portuguese author, Amadeu de Prado.

The novel expertly tells two stories at the same time with two very different, very endearing heroes. One is Gregorius, the old academic suffering from dizzy spells, who boldly decides to live the part of his life he's never dared. From being a stuffy old stickler the faculty call Papyrus, he is slowly humanized and changed in Lisbon by piecing together the troubled saga of the little book's author.

That's Amadeu de Prado, the other hero, a brilliant bad boy whose fiery graduation address scandalizes the Church, an honest young man who falls in love with the woman adored by his best friend. Amadeu is an obedient son who takes up medicine to please his pain-ridden, hunchbacked father. He becomes a saintly doctor who saves the life of the dictator's cruelest henchman and becomes hated by the Resistance fighters he loves. Both tales are studded with dozens of great scenes and emotional payoffs.

It's a story about putting together the pieces of a story. Readers learn about the characters in their tragic, romantic youth as legendary figures, then encounter them as old people, when the drama is long over. The present-day action of the novel is built upon interviews with the geriatric survivors. You've never read a novel with this many 80-year-old characters!

To top it off, hefty servings of Amadeu's translated writings pepper the tale in meaty philosophical chunks. Go ahead and buy this one--believe me, you'll want to read it more than once.--Nick DiMartino


Powered by: Xtenit