Shelf Awareness for Friday, January 18, 2008

Union Square Kids: The Door That Had Never Been Opened Before by Mrs. and Mr. MacLeod

Shadow Mountain: The Queen and the Knave (Proper Romance Victorian) by Sarah M. Eden

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

Editors' Note

Quotation of the Day

Booksellers 'Knew Books Like Tom Brady Knows Defenses'

"Of course, there was another serendipity provided by most of these stores--the owner, manager, and/or salesman who was a true bibliophile and who knew books like Tom Brady knows defenses. These people could tell you which edition, which translation, which interpretation you wanted, and whatever you wished to know about whatever you were seeking. One of the few remaining such stores is Dutton's on San Vicente where Doug Dutton is such an authority and is eager to help whomever and to talk books and music."--Paul Cummins in his paean to Los Angeles-area indie bookstores for the Santa Monica Mirror.


Shelf Awareness Job Board: Click Here to Post Your Job


Notes: Indie Reversal in U.K.; New Borders Board Member

In the U.K. in 2007, 81 independent bookshops opened and 72 closed, "a remarkable turnaround in fortunes for the independent sector: in 2006, 96 stores closed and only 64 opened," the Bookseller reported.

"Early indications from our independent members are that Christmas, while late in many areas, was strong," Meryl Halls, head of membership services at the Booksellers Association, told the magazine. "As one of our members has said, 2007 saw the renaissance of the independent bookselling sector, and this story would seem to be borne out by both new shops opening and sales performance."

Among reasons for the turnaround: chain bookstore consolidation and "a thirst for authenticity" on the part of consumers, as Michael Neil, managing director of Bertrams, put it. 


The New York Times features several homeless men who daily rescue books from what New Yorkers leave out for trash and recycling and sell saved tomes to the Strand. Not all books are accepted, of course, but Susan Dominus stands in awe of the system. She writes:

"Even in better days than these for books, the economy of publishing was bloated, based on guesswork, mercurial taste and the talents of people whose keenest interests rarely included making money. Book recycling in Manhattan is just the opposite, a perfectly efficient system with no fat at all: So many discarded books go from someone's garbage to a scavenger to a bookseller and, often enough, land gently in someone else's home. Feel guilty if you must, for never finishing Tony Judt's Postwar: A History of Europe Since 1945; but don't feel guilty for chucking it. It will most likely live to haunt someone else's bedside table. It will find a new home." 


Bookselling This Week profiles the 5,000-sq.-ft. Avid Reader store that Stan Forbes and Alzada Knickerbocker opened last year in a former Tower outlet in Sacramento, Calif. The pair set up the original Avid Reader in Davis in 1987; Knickerbocker is now the sole owner of that store.

The Avid Reader at the Tower features children's literature, history and fiction and offers some 1,000 magazine titles.


Citing concerns about the store's electrical system, the Duluth, Minn., fire department has closed Boardwalk Books, a used bookstore owned by George and Heath Persgard, whose family has owned the downtown building for 33 years, the Duluth News Tribune reported.

George Persgard called the action harassment and told the paper that the department's recent inspection was the first in the four years he and his wife have owned the bookstore. He added that he felt "he was being asked to bring the building, which was constructed in 1915, up to 2008 'on 10 minutes' notice.' "

The Persgards said they doubted they would reopen the store.


'Boro Book Warehouse, Murfreesboro, Tenn., which opened in October, is holding a grand opening celebration a week from tomorrow, according to the Murfreesboro Daily News Journal.

The store stocks more than 5,000 titles, features bestselling fiction and nonfiction at discount prices and a huge selection of independently published books and offers a range of amenities, like coffee and free wi-fi, and events.

One of the owners, David Muskett, is a former v-p of customer operations for McGraw-Hill, who with his wife, Pat, operates Springboard Logistics Services, a distribution company that "caters to the needs of print-on-demand publishers and self-published authors."


Although Penguin Bookshop, Sewickley, Pa., won't reopen until next September, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported on plans for what Karen Fadzen, part of the bookstore's new management team, called "a huge transformation" that won't alter "the store's commitment to the community and its customers."


Effective immediately, Richard McGuire has been appointed to the board of directors of Borders Group. McGuire is a partner of Pershing Square Capital Management, the hedge fund that owns outright nearly 20% of Borders stock.

McGuire joined Pershing Square in 2005 and earlier worked at two other private equity funds. He has an MBA from Harvard Business School.

In a statement, McGuire said, "I am optimistic about the future of Borders and look forward to working with the Board and the management team as the company executes its strategic turnaround plan. The company has many near and long-term opportunities.  The plan is a sound strategic roadmap, and I'm pleased to be part of a process designed to deliver value for all shareholders over the long-term."

Mike Archbold, executive v-p, COO and CFO of the Vitamin Shoppe, joined the board in December after being recommended by Pershing Square.


Meg La Borde, executive v-p at publisher and distributor Greenleaf Book Group, has been promoted to chief operating officer. She joined the company in 2000.


More appointments in the trade and reference division at the new Houghton Mifflin Harcourt:

  • Maire Gorman has been named v-p, director of sales. She joined Houghton Mifflin in 1992 and was most recently v-p, director of sales, and will continue to oversee both the trade and special markets groups.
  • John Mendelson has been named director of national accounts, adult. He has worked in the sales department and with national accounts at Houghton Mifflin since 1996 with a two-year stint at Lyons Press. He was most recently director of field sales.
  • Paul Von Drasek has been named director of field sales. He joined Harcourt Trade in 1998 as national sales manager and most recently was executive director of sales.
  • Colleen Murphy has been named director of special markets. She has worked at Houghton Mifflin since 2002, most recently as national sales manager, mass market.


The following promotions and changes have been made in HarperCollins's international sales department:

  • Samantha Hagerbaumer has been named associate director, international sales and marketing. She was formerly manager, international sales, and earlier worked in Morrow publicity. Among other responsibilities, she will now oversee international sales for HarperCollins Canada and the department's worldwide marketing and publicity.
  • Meredith Greenhouse has been named associate director, international sales. She was formerly sales manager for Latin America and Puerto Rico. She will now work with the open market sales team and be responsible for the open market international edition program and selling to U.S. Spanish-language accounts.
  • Eryn Wade has been named international marketing manager, a newly created position. She formerly worked in the children's marketing department and before that, was in Morrow publicity. She, too, will be responsible for day-to-day marketing with HarperCollins Canada and marketing and publicity globally.
  • Austin Tripp has been promoted from sales assistant to sales representative and will work with Christina Frey covering Asia.
  • Tina Parmar, a sales assistant for two years, has been promoted to sales representative. Her responsibilities are being expanded from the Caribbean to Europe.
  • Marit Vagstad has been named a sales representative and rejoins Harper after 18 months at Houghton Mifflin. Earlier she worked in the library and academic marketing department. She will work with Parmar to cover the European market.


A celebration of Alexander "Sandy" Taylor's life will be held on Sunday, February 3, at 1 p.m., in the Student Center at Eastern Connecticut State University in Willimantic, Conn.

Taylor, who died December 21, was the co-founder, with his wife, Judith Ayer Doyle, of Curbstone Press, which focuses on titles with social awareness, human rights and peace themes and emphasizes Latino, Latin American and Vietnamese work, including fiction and poetry.

For more information, call 860-423-5110 or go to

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Two Confessions: Political Hit Man, Carb Queen

Today on Oprah: Govind Armstrong, author of Small Bites, Big Nights: Seductive Little Plates for Intimate Occasions and Lavish Parties (Clarkson Potter, $30, 9780307337931/0307337936).


ABC will air a special today and tomorrow based on Robert Hardman's A Year with the Queen (Touchstone, $30, 9781416563488/1416563482).


Today on the View: Richard M. Cohen, author of Strong at the Broken Places: Voices of Illness, a Chorus of Hope (Harper, $24.95, 9780060763114/0060763116).


Tomorrow on Inside Edition: Andrew Morton, author of Tom Cruise: An Unauthorized Biography (St. Martin's, $25.95, 9780312359867/0312359861). He will also appear on the Weekend Today Show.


On CBS Sunday Morning: Stephen Marks, author of Confessions of a Political Hitman: My Secret Life of Scandal, Corruption, Hypocrisy and Dirty Attacks That Decide Who Gets Elected (and Who Doesn't) (Sourcebooks, $23.95, 9781402208546/1402208545). He appears on Monday on CNN's Anderson Cooper 360, too.

Also on CBS' Sunday Morning: Michael Pollan, author of In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto (Penguin Press, $21.95, 9781594201455/1594201455).


On Sunday on Weekend Today: Susan Blech, author of Confessions of a Carb Queen (Rodale, $15.95, 9781594867763/1594867763).


On Monday, on Good Morning America: Oprah's personal trainer, Bob Greene, author of The Best Life Diet (S&S, $15, 9781416540694/1416540695).


Books & Authors

Book Brahmins: Stanley Hadsell

A bookseller at Market Block Books, Troy, N.Y., Stanley Hadsell discovered the world of books at the age of eight when he got his first library card. Since then, he has loved being surrounded by books. His junior high and high school years were spent in libraries, where he devoured more than 40 of Agatha Christie's novels. He has studied five languages, philosophy, psychology and theology. He is drawn to poetic, mystical and offbeat writers. To unwind at the end of the day he does sudoku and crosswords, which he always has in case he's stuck in traffic, at the mechanic's or the doctor's. He doesn't like to read in short spurts or while eating. He likes to give a book his full attention just as he does his friends. Here he answers questions we put to people in the industry:

On your nightstand now (it's a big nightstand!):

The Subtle Knife by Philip Pullman
Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson
A Faith Worth Believing by Tom Stella
A Book of Hours by Thomas Merton, edited by Kathleen Deignan
I'm Looking Through You by Jennifer Finney Boylan
Behind My Eyes by Li-Young Lee
Be Near Me by Andrew O'Hagan
The Big Book of Sudoku #1 by Mark Huckvale
NYT Crossword Puzzles by Will Shortz

Favorite book when you were a child:

Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson was the first novel I read, and I have been in love with pirates ever since.

Your top five authors:

In order of discovering them: Thomas Merton, Flannery O'Connor, James Baldwin, Mary Oliver, Anne Lamott

Book you've faked reading:

For years I faked reading The Seven Storey Mountain by Thomas Merton and finally read it last year. What a mistake it was to put that off for so long.

Book you are an evangelist for:

Birds in Fall
by Brad Kessler touched me deeply and continues to resonate with me. I can still recall the feeling of sitting on the couch, curled up with these characters and sharing their experiences.

Book you've bought for the cover:

The Book of Salt by Monique Truong has a gorgeous cover and the book was equally as sumptuous. I borrowed it, read it, loved it and bought the hardcover. This is one of my top 10 books to recommend.

Book that changed your life:

Another Country by James Baldwin opened my eyes to a way of being in relationship with others. I read this when I was 32 and just coming out. There's a moment when one character is in need and another comes to his aid. When the former says he may never be able to pay him back, he's told that there will be a time when he will be able to help someone else the way he is being helped.

Favorite line from a book:

"Whoever you are, no matter how lonely, the world offers itself to your imagination, calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting, over and over announcing your place in the family of things." From "Wild Geese'" by Mary Oliver, New and Selected Poems, Vol 1.

Book you most want to read again for the first time:

The Seven Storey Mountain by Thomas Merton. I had recommended this book so many times before finally reading it. Once I read it, I was blown away by the power of his story. I knew it. I've read many of Merton's later books. But savoring this for the first time was more than I expected and even moved me to tears.
Unexpected joy:

The Good Fairies of New York
by Martin Millar was a book I was sure to dislike but found myself laughing out loud. Now I offer it as medicine to folks who need a good laugh.

Survey anxiety:

Narrowing things down to just one book or five authors is a challenge for me. I find that certain authors and books speak to me at different times in my life. I am ever grateful to Jack Kornfield for A Path With Heart for providing a needed balance in my spiritual practice. I will always remember the first time I read "Wild Geese" by Mary Oliver and no longer felt alone in the world. That's why I'm a bookseller. Not to sell books but to offer words of hope and healing. That's what Brad Kessler, Mary Oliver, Thomas Merton, James Baldwin, Walt Whitman do for me.

And where would I be without my OED (the new shorter edition)? David Budbill, Henri Nouwen, Robert Rodi, Stephen McCauley, Armistead Maupin? Oh the pressure you put on me to narrow things down. No wonder my apartment is bursting at the seams with books!

Book Review

Book Review: Freedom for the Thought That We Hate

Freedom for the Thought That We Hate: A Biography of the First Amendment by Anthony Lewis (Basic Books, $25.00 Hardcover, 9780465039173, January 2008)

"I got freedom in this country. Freedom of everything. Freedom of thought," Nur Fatima, a young Pakistani, told a New York Times reporter after she moved to the U.S. in 2006. To say the least, Anthony Lewis shows that what Nur Fatima found was not always the norm; the journey from James Madison's words guaranteeing freedom of expression in the First Amendment of 1791 to what we enjoy today did not follow a direct or easy route. As a guide along that route, Lewis revels in the turbulent politics of our national story since the Founding Fathers drew the map we call our Constitution.

Today we regard freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of thought and freedom of assembly as essentials of American life. Those freedoms may have resided in principle in the First Amendment from the start, but at times other forces have trumped their guarantees. The fear of sedition, for example, has been a potent and effective political tool to suppress them, most recently used by the Bush administration following the terrorist attacks of September 11. Lewis reports with regret that such exploitation of fear is not a new thing. Disgraceful lapses for political reasons, not due to actual or verifiable threats, have stained the records of the administrations of John Adams, Woodrow Wilson, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry Truman and Dwight D. Eisenhower.

To Lewis, the heroes protecting and expanding freedom of expression in the U.S. are the Supreme Court and the press. His heroes, he has to admit, have not had perfect records at all times. The Court was very late, some would say criminally tardy, in stepping in to enforce the guarantees of the First Amendment, making its first substantive ruling for free expression in 1931.  Its rulings since that time, however, have built solid support for our present freedoms. He regards the press (of which he is an eminent and widely respected member) as having the patriotic function to inform the public and to hold our government accountable. Although the First Amendment enables the press to do its duty, the record of late shows highs and lows in reporting standards. Ever the realist, Lewis can't deny that his heroes, on bad days, have feet of clay; on the other hand, the same eloquence and intelligence that he displays in painting a vivid portrait of our Constitution as a living document make us want to believe his heroes will continue to defend and enforce First Amendment rights in the very best way.--John McFarland


Deeper Understanding

Robert Gray: Boomers 'Will Age, But They Won't Get Old'

"Baby boomers, more than any other demographic group, will shape the future of the marketplace. They are in control and will remain so for decades to come. For boomers, getting older does not mean resigning oneself to a deceleration into death. They will continue to be actively involved in their lifestyles, spending lots of money and searching for more new things to try. . . . Boomers will age, but they won't grow old."--Generation Ageless: How Baby Boomers Are Changing the Way We Live Today . . . And They're Just Getting Started by J. Walker Smith and Ann Clurman.

Last week, I offered a conversation starter. The responses were thoughtful and intriguing.

Chris Curry of A Novel Experience bookstore, Zebulon, Ga., is a boomer who notes that "although most of my contemporaries have embraced the Internet and most electronic gadgets for work and play, I think they are still inclined to prefer face-to-face socializing and 'community.' It seems that the Internet connection is handy for many of us who will probably continue working hard, changing careers and embarking on new ventures throughout our life spans, but when we encounter the concrete realities of aging, cyberspace just doesn't cut it. It's the human, real-time friend who can bring over chicken soup.

"So, I think bookstores with an authentic customer-service philosophy will continue to serve as one of the 'third places' of the community. They will be valued as such by boomers who need that irreplaceable human contact. Community-seeking will get the boomers into the town square and into the bookstore--then it's our job to sell them a book!"

A child of the boomer generation and a bookseller for 11 years, Missie Olm of the Reader's Loft, Green Bay, Wis., which has a client base "predominantly" of boomers, observed that "while boomers are reading [nonfiction] for pleasure, they are reading around the subject areas that specifically interest them. What I've found to work best in selling books to this generation is to listen. They care about their subject area and are often more informed on it than I may ever be. Ask questions.

"Fiction-reading boomers are a different and more varied group. I'm not sure it's possible to pigeonhole their reading tastes/buying habits on that side, other than to say that they generally have a very clear sense of what they like and don't like in a book. This actually makes the job easier, once you have--yes, again--listened."

David Henkes of University Book Store, Bellevue, Wash., believes that "boomers will continue to buy books from bricks-and-mortar stores because they have a strong sense of independent business patronage. Realizing that deals are to be had online, boomers will continue to embrace the nostalgia, the social connection, of leaving the home and going to the local bookstore."

Another University Bookstore bookseller, Kiki Hood, added that "boomers seem to understand the art of the browse. They come into our store not necessarily looking for anything in particular, but merely to see what's here. I think they also engage more senses, smelling the subtle odor of ink, feeling the heft and the texture of the page, overhearing conversations. I think they will continue to come in to the actual store because they can speak to booksellers (and sometimes other customers) who might send them in a new direction." 

As a BB selling to other BBs, Karen Frank of the Northshire Bookstore, Manchester Center, Vt., has noticed "a marked tendency to appreciate both things and ideas that buck the trends (the '60s, anyone?). We are still rebels and seekers, though more open to the freedom new technology brings. Searching for meaning is still an issue. Individuality, tempered with social conscience, will continue to influence older readers to cherish and support any oasis of art and fine craftsmanship, whether physical or intellectual.

"I find the older customers much more willing to try a debut author and passionate about helping to educate the younger generation in the precious legacy of literature and art. I believe independent bookshops, music shops and art galleries should not surrender to the digital age, but work to reinvent and enhance the experience by using the amazing tools being invented daily in addition to the time honored conversations, beautiful objects and atmosphere that are so important for a full life . . . no matter what the age."

Keep talking to me. Inquiring boomers want to know.--Robert Gray (column archives available at Fresh Eyes Now)


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