Shelf Awareness for Thursday, January 31, 2008

Little Simon: Angelina Ballerina by Katharine Holabird

Houghton Mifflin: No Place for Monsters by Kory Merritt

Algonquin Young Readers: Skunk and Badger (Skunk and Badger 1) by Amy Timberlake, illustrated by Jon Klassen

Timber Press: As the World Burns: The New Generation of Activists and the Landmark Legal Fight Against Climate Change by Lee Van Der Voo

IDW Publishing: Redbone: The True Story of a Native American Rock Band by Christian Staebler and Sonia Paoloni, illustrtaed by Thibault Balahy

Editors' Note

Two If by Sea?: An Adventure in Editing Shelf Awareness

A blackout in our neighborhood yesterday morning delayed Shelf Awareness and provided some instructive lessons about the joys and pitfalls of old and new technology. After waking up in more dark than usual, I lit two antique kerosene lamps and in the kitchen skimmed copies of the morning's New York Times and Wall Street Journal, feeling a little like Abraham Lincoln doing schoolwork. Then I moved the lamps to global editorial headquarters of Shelf Awareness and opened up my battery-powered laptop. I got ready to plug it into the spare telephone landline, retained for just such an emergency--on that line I would dial up AOL and rejoin the Internet. (See photo.) Lo and behold, I discovered that the new laptop does not have a phone jack! Ah progress. Then to Plan B: I set up my old laptop, which I know from past experience has a phone jack. Alas, that laptop hit a new operating low and refused to boot up.

Plan C worked, barely: after a walk to our local Starbucks with my new laptop, I signed onto T-Mobile, which for $9.99 provided a signal that occasionally lasted as many as five minutes before mysteriously flickering out long enough to break the connection. Still, working around that problem, I checked e-mail and the Net, wrote a few last-minute stories, edited others and sent out Wednesday's issue only a bit on the late side.

Perhaps the green speakers at the Winter Institute would not be surprised that the oil lamps and newspapers were the most reliable technologies of the morning.--John Mutter

[Photo by Alex Mutter.]


Atheneum Books for Young Readers: Tune It Out by Jamie Summer


Notes: Amazon; Riggio Buys More B&N; Bookseller Honors

In the quarter ended December 31, net sales at rose 42% to $5.67 billion and net income rose 112% to $207 million.

"This is a stellar quarter, in light of all the consumer-spending worries," Jeetil Patel, an analyst at Deutsche Bank, told the Wall Street Journal. But like other analysts he indicated concerns about the company's profit margins. Amazon's gross margin fell to 20.6% from 21.3% during the quarter mainly because of its continued investment in new technology and the cost of Amazon Prime, its free-shipping program. In after-hours trading, the e-tailer's stock fell more than 11%.

Sales of media, which includes books, rose 33% to $3.33 billion in the quarter. Sales of the Kindle, the new e-book reader, have been strong enough, the company said, so that demand is outrunning supply. "Kindles are being delivered to customers on a first-come, first-served basis."


Barnes & Noble chairman Len Riggio has continued his B&N stock-buying spree. According to the AP, SEC filings show that in the past week, Riggio bought 350,000 shares of company stock for prices between $30.19 and $31.44 a share. Total cost for these purchases: somewhere between $10.6 million and $11 million. 

During a four-month period last year, Riggio spent some $18 million on company stock and now owns about 13.4 million shares of Barnes & Noble, worth about $430 million. Last September, his 13 million shares were worth about $500 million. 


The Women's National Book Association has announced three additional nominees for the 2008 Lucile Micheels Pannell Award, given to a general bookstore and a children's-only bookstore "that excel at inspiring the interest of young people in books and reading." WNBA will present the Award to the two bookstores at BookExpo America in Los Angeles (Shelf Awareness, January 28).

Children's Specialty Store:

The Hidden Room Book Shoppe, South Haven, Mich.
General stores:

BookCourt, Brooklyn, N.Y.
Vero Beach Book Center, Vero Beach, Fla.


The bookseller's sleeping bag. Dan Wyman, owner of Dan Wyman, Books, Springfield, Mass., has taken the art of carrying sidelines to a new level as "the main United States distributor for the Selk' sleeping bag--a sort of astronaut suit for outdoorsy grown-ups," the Boston Herald reported.

Wyman, who specializes in out of print, rare and antique Jewish books, discovered the wearable sleeping bag while visiting his cousin in Chile last spring.

"How can you look at it and not smile?" asked Wyman. "This is a great mesh of form and function. People are finding all sorts of uses for these bags that never occurred to me. I've been calling it the 'Book Lovers' Sleeping Bag,' but I'm not sure that will have a lot of traction. I'm O.K. if these two businesses just stay parallel."


In our item about the Costa Awards last week, we forgot to mention that besides the main prize--the Book of the Year went to Day by A.L. Kennedy, which also won in the Novel category--the organization, formerly known as the Whitbread Awards, awarded prizes in four other categories:

  • First Novel: Catherine O'Flynn for What Was Lost
  • Poetry: Jean Sprackland for Tilt
  • Biography: Simon Sebag Montefiore for Young Stalin
  • Children's: Ann Kelley for The Bower Bird

Incidentally in the U.S., The Bower Bird is distributed by Ingram Publisher Services, which will have more stock arriving from the U.K. soon.


Congratulations to Mary Gay Shipley, owner of That Bookstore in Blytheville, Blytheville, Ark., who is being honored in two ways:

Main Street Arkansas has named Shipley Main Street Merchant of the Year, citing her for working "vigorously to make Blytheville as well-known as her store. Shipley's bookstore is a cultural hub for the city of Blytheville, the Delta region and the country. Authors on national tour, such as John Grisham, frequently stop in Blytheville for special luncheons in the bookstore's back room. Visitors from Memphis, Jonesboro, and the surrounding tri-state area come to the luncheons to meet the authors and hear passages from their most recent works.

"Apart from her successful business, Shipley has immersed herself in Blytheville's Main Street program. She served as the first board president in the '80s, advocating the program verbally and financially. When the program had a staffing turnover last year, Shipley left her business to work in the Main Street office one day a week."

And in its March issue, AY Magazine, a monthly lifestyle magazine focused on Arkansas, will name Shipley one of its "12 powerful women."


In a feature about regional literature, the Cayman Observer wrote, in part, "With the grand opening of Books & Books in Camana Bay [in the Cayman Islands] last month, the interest in Caribbean literature appears to be gaining momentum, potentially building a wider audience throughout the region, but also in the all-important North American and European markets, which could provide a substantial audience for Caymanian writers."

"There is now a developing interest in Caribbean literature outside the traditional immigrant populations," Books & Books owner Mitchell Kaplan told the paper. "The same thing has happened with books by Latin American and African-American authors in the US. Audiences have developed far beyond a core readership, making for greater sales and higher impact from their work."

The Observer added, "In the Camana Bay store, Caymanian books are prominently featured close to the entrance, which could lead to a stronger local readership. But the knock-on effect may likely come from expatriate readers, which make up half the population and come from all over the world. Consequently, some local bestsellers will naturally migrate to other countries, building a broader audience as well as generating more interest in local literature as a whole."


Rock on!

In honor of Rock On: An Office Power Ballad by Dan Kennedy, Shelf Awareness and Algonquin are sponsoring a contest for booksellers to create a bookstore power ballad. The grand prize-winning bookseller and bookstore will win an authentic Gary Baseman "Lil Copy Cat" vinyl toy (as featured on the book jacket), Rock On T-shirts (maximum 20) for the staff and a plaque featuring the winning lyrics. The winning lyrics will also be featured in Shelf Awareness. The grand prize-winner and five runners up will be selected by a panel of judges and Dan Kennedy.

E-mail your bookstore power ballad to Lindsey McGuirk at with "Power Ballad" in the subject line. Please include your name, your bookstore, store address and phone number. Lyrics not to exceed 500 words. Limit one entry per bookseller, two entries per store location. All entries must be received by March 14. For more information, rock here.


And another football book for Sunday's Super Bowl lineup:

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly New York Giants: Heart-pounding, Jaw-dropping, and Gut-wrenching Moments from New York Giants History by Michael Benson (Triumph Books, $19.95, 9781600780127/1600780121).

[Thanks to "shameless" Jake Elwell of Harold Ober Associates!]


Speaking of which, according to USA Today, "Triumph Books in conjunction with the Boston Globe, will release 19-0: The Historic Championship Season of New England's Unbeatable Patriots" if the Patriots win the Super Bowl. The article added that the book had been available to order at Amazon, but the link no longer works.

You can, however, still order New York Giants: 2008 Super Bowl Champions.

USA Today
cautioned that "before everyone starts accusing one team or the other of being overconfident or disrespectful, neither team has anything to do with the book deals. Also, book publishers say it is common practice to have these books ready for sale."


AuthorBuzz for the Week of 07.06.20

Oprah Picks Eckhart Tolle's A New Earth

Oprah has picked A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose by Eckhart Tolle (Penguin, $14, 9780452289963/0452289963) as her next book club pick, saying in a statement, "Being able to share this material with you is a gift and a part of the fulfillment of my life's purpose. It was an awakening for me that I want for you, too."

For the first time, Oprah is setting up a free, live interactive classroom discussion online for the book that she and Tolle will lead. The 10 discussions will be held every Monday night, beginning March 3, at 9 p.m. Eastern time. To register for the class, log on to

Published in 2005, A New Earth encourages, Penguin said, "a collective sense of commitment to changing the way we live for people who want to make a difference. With the knowledge that we live in a time desperate for global change, renowned spiritual teacher Tolle's book answers the question: what can one person do to enact that change? With clarity and in practical terms, he gently leads readers to a new level of consciousness, awakening them to their lives' purpose and inviting them to envision a new earth where peace and fellowship are the norm."


University Press of Kentucky: The Redshirt (University Press of Kentucky New Poetry & Prose) by Corey Sobel

Winter Institute: Green Retailing

Illustrating the thirst for green knowledge, the Green Retailing session was so crowded that it was the only session at the Winter Institute from which people were turned away, according to the ABA's Len Vlahos. The message those who made it inside heard: more green upfront means more green down the line (and your customers will love you more!).

The panel was comprised of a lawmaker, Rep. Jay Inslee (D.-Wash.), author of Apollo's Fire (Island Press); Scott Sklar, president of the Stella Group and co-author of The Forbidden Fuel and The Consumers Guide to Solar Energy; and Sue Lynn, owner of Confluence Bookstore, Bistro and Business Center in Bellevue, Neb. (Lynn and Confluence were profiled here last fall when the store opened; Shelf Awareness, October 31, 2007.)

Rep. Inslee opened the discussion by asking booksellers to visualize solving the problem of global warming. "You are the most important people in America to help others see the solution," he said, echoing other speakers who extolled the bookseller as the center of change in the community. "This is where you come in." He also called global warming the single most unifying event in human history.

After saying he was the first member of congress to drive a fuel cell bus (President Bush visited the same facility but wasn't allowed to get behind the wheel), Inslee praised plug-in cars as well. "Nothing gets better over time except wine and plug-in cars," he said as he described the ever-improving technology.

Inslee asked booksellers, whom he called "geniuses in your community," to commit to three things to help fight global warming and to make their communities and businesses green: make a statement that your business is going green and tell everyone about it; engage the community and share ideas concerning what you are doing to make a difference; perform. In particular: change your light bulbs, wrap your hot-water heater, lower the heat and watch how you do your shipping. "It's achievable and, booksellers, I believe you can do it," he concluded.

Scott Sklar, who serves on the boards of directors of the Export Council for Energy Efficiency and the Business Council for Sustainable Energy and lives in a solar house in Arlington, Va., suggested that healthy stores can make for healthier customers. "Better lighting, better heating and air conditioning creates better retailing," he said. "People hang out longer and buy more stuff." Sklar recommended letting the community know what your store is doing to be green, adding, "Customers like green. People have an affinity to go places that do the right thing."

Sklar suggested replacing light bulbs with more energy efficient compact fluorescents, many of which can be found at He recommended putting all electronics that use remote controls on a power strip--turn it off when not in use so these "energy vampires" don't suck power that isn't doing anything anyway (think DVDs, video monitors, CD players, etc.). Sklar also suggested using "smart battery banks--you'll never need a surge protector for your computer again," and said offers many products using solar power that would help shops be greener.

Other practical advice included hosting talks and creating dialogues on sustainable living in your shop as well as creating displays and book sections on green living.

Sklar concluded his enthusiastic talk by saying the statement stores make by being green would be copied by others. "The service you bring to the community is different from other players in the field," he emphasized. "You are the conveyers of knowledge."

A self-described "eco-sensitive," Sue Lynn built her bookstore/business center/bistro Confluence from scratch, which enabled her to choose to have the building face north in order to minimize blasts of cold air every time the front door opened. She used wood from a dismantled barn for the floor, plank tables and furnishings. Besides being eco-friendly, Lynn said, the unusual wood is a great conversation starter.

Triple-paned windows, LED lights and low-energy nightlights help the store conserve energy. Recycling also plays a big part: Lynn returns wine bottle stoppers to the wineries, donates wine bottles to local artists (colored glass is not recycled in her town), uses sandwich holders made of cornstarch and encourages re-using bags. Lynn even brokered a deal with Dell Computers so that after five years, she'll return her PC and receive a discount on a new one.

Booksellers in the audience contributed ideas and references for green retailing, including, which offers credits to readers and plants a tree for every book sold; purchasing green energy, such as wind, by creating a consortium in your business community (Shelf Awareness, September 21, 2007); and using green cleaning products in your store.--Susan L. Weis


G.P. Putnam's Sons: The Twelve Dates of Christmas by Jenny Bayliss

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Comedy at the Edge

Today the Writer's Roundtable, which covers the art, craft and business of writing and can be heard on the new San Diego Union Tribune radio station and at, features Kate Jacobs, author of The Friday Night Knitting Club (Berkley, $14, 9780425219096/0425219097). The host is Antoinette Kuritz. (Archived from last week: Clive Cussler.)


Tomorrow night on the Late Show with David Letterman: Richard Zoglin, author of Comedy at the Edge: How Stand-up in the 1970s Changed America (Bloomsbury USA, $24.95, 9781582346243/1582346240).


This Weekend on Book TV: The Bush Tragedy

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, February 2
6 p.m. Encore Book Notes. In a segment first aired in 1999, Randall Kenan, author of Walking on Water: Black American Lives at the Turn of the Twenty-First Century (Vintage, $16, 9780679737889/067973788X), discussed his travels across the U.S. over six years, interviewing nearly 200 people to chronicle the lives of African Americans in the 1990s.

7 p.m. At an event hosted by Politics and Prose, Washington, D.C., Jacob Weisberg, author of The Bush Tragedy (Random House, $26, 9781400066780/1400066786), presents a portrait of President George W. Bush through the family members, friends and close advisers who have influenced him. (Re-airs Monday at 6:45 a.m.)
9 p.m. After Words. Peter Earnest, executive director of the International Spy Museum, interviews Pete Earley, author of Comrade J: The Untold Story of Russia's Master Spy in America After the End of the Cold War (Putnam, $25.95, 9780399154393/0399154396), as well as "Comrade J" himself: Sergei Tretyakov. (Re-airs Sunday at 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. and Monday at 3 a.m.)
Sunday, February 3
9:15 a.m. Public Lives. Armando Rodriguez, author of From the Barrio to Washington: An Educator's Journey (University of New Mexico Press, $24.95, 9780826343819/0826343813), chronicles his experience moving from Mexico to California as a boy and rising through the ranks of the American education system. (Re-airs Sunday at 8:15 p.m.)
12 p.m. In Depth. David Levering Lewis, author most recently of God's Crucible: Islam and the Making of Europe, 570-1215 (Norton, $29.95, 9780393064728/0393064727), joins Book TV for a live interview. (Re-airs Monday at 12 a.m., Saturday, February 9, at 9 a.m. and Monday, February 11, at 3 a.m.)


Books & Authors

Children's Book Review: Drive

Drive by Nathan Clement (Boyds Mills/Front Street, $16.95, 9781590785171/1590785177, 40 pp., ages 2-8, February 2008)

If Smash! Crash! (Shelf Awareness, January 16, 2008) captured the energy of boys in demolition mode, this debut picture book from Clement evokes that childlike sense of awe when faced with a 10-wheel semi. Narrated by the son of a truck driver, the poetic text begins, "Daddy leaves before I wake up," and the truck's giant tires are visible through the boy's window. His father checks on his sleeping son before getting behind the wheel. The sun rises as the man pulls away with a cargo load ("When his trailer is full,/ he's ready to drive"). Clement's sleek computer graphics seem ideally suited to the long stretches of highway and the gleaming red cab of the truck. Even though the narrative follows the father, the illustrations keep a child reader's interest. The text, "He's on the move," for instance, depicts the red truck in the passing lane, dwarfing a lime-green Volkswagen bug with a black lab in the passenger seat, its pink tongue protruding through the window. On the next spread, "but always says hello," refers to the father blowing his horn at the gestural request of a child rider in a passing gold car; on the highway's meridian, sunflowers in the same buttery shade nicely balance the composition. The book winds down with a soothing pastoral scene of the red truck driving through quiltlike fields to the boy's home, where the narrator and his dog play in the yard. Both a love song to the open road and an appreciation for a father's return, this book appeals to readers on multiple levels and marks an auspicious start for Clement.--Jennifer M. Brown


Deeper Understanding

Robert Gray: Bookstores Offer What Boomers Want

This series of columns evolved from a not-so-simple question I asked myself sometime around New Year's Day: What do boomers want (to read)? Much of what I've learned since has come from your e-mails and telephone calls. Conversations have sprung up wherever I have gone.

For example, one night at the Publishers Association of the South's Winter Conclave in Nashville, Tenn., we talked over dinner about the narrowing of the generational technology gap--many young people entering the work force now may have less computer experience than boomers who began incorporating PCs or Macs into their social and professional lives more than two decades ago.

What does that mean?

All we can say with some degree of certainty is that boomer numbers will continue to matter 'til death do us part. According to Generation Ageless by J. Walker Smith and Ann Clurman, in 2004 the Census Bureau projected that the number of people 55 and over would grow more than 45% between 2005 and 2020, while those 25-44 would grow only 5.6%.

Smith is also president of Yankelovich, Inc., which has been tracking U.S. lifestyles and values for more than 35 years. The marketing potential for boomers at every stage of their aging process has been of special interest. Recently, he shared his observations about where bookselling fits into the boomer equation.

For booksellers, Smith suggested the place to begin is "to sort out what's unique about boomers and what's not. There is a widespread trend toward authenticity, connections, community, social impact and empowerment. Boomers are part of this broader trend, but it is not exclusive to them, nor to any generation. We are all caught up in these things together. So delivering these things is just good for business. The difference with boomers is how they approach these broader trends."

He noted three aspects worth considering:

"First, boomers are unwilling to give up individuality in their quest to find connection and fellow-feeling with others. So even as you create an inviting atmosphere that offers communal engagement, you must allow boomers to do so in a style that is unique to the individual. Starbucks does this with its infinitely variable products and its differentiated store designs. Wi-fi (sometimes free) makes it possible to share with others while doing your own thing. Perhaps bookstores for boomers will be less places to find books than places to create an individual bookstyle. Maybe they all read the same authors but they do so in their own self-invented ways. Such an environment would simply echo the long-standing boomer style of joining the crowd to find one's own individual bliss. Note that the connective behavior of younger people is much more about the network and the networking than the individual and the avoidance of communalism.

"Second, boomers believe in information. They are data hounds. They retain a core belief that if they can just dig deep enough they will find the truth. I joke about this and say that boomers are the Watergate generation--they learned that the more you find out, the more you know about what went on. Boomers, more than any generation today, believe in the written word. Tapping into that sensibility is key for booksellers. They must leverage it in every way. And most importantly, they must not fight boomers when they seek to add new information sources. Find ways to integrate your offerings with the Internet. Make one supplement the other or enhance the other. Don't fight it. Just don't make yourself irrelevant to the continuing boomer quest to learn more. Boomers revere information. This is not true of other generations, and thus creates a built-in gap that must be addressed in other ways.

"Finally, boomers want to matter. They are not willing to hand over the reins of power to younger generations. Boomers are convinced they are smarter, savvier and more perceptive. Books matter, of course, and books are the source of all the ideas and insights that matter. So, just remind boomers that what they need to know in order to matter is ready and waiting for them at bookstores. Booksellers should be the first people boomers look to when they want to weigh in on some topic or issue."

Smith believes that bookstores "have an enormous opportunity with boomers. These stores offer what boomers want, and if they do so in ways that fit broad cultural currents while tapping directly into what boomers want in particular, they will thrive."--Robert Gray (column archives available at Fresh Eyes Now)


AuthorBuzz: Constable: The Mimosa Tree Mystery (A Crown Colony Novel) by Ovidia Yu
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