Shelf Awareness for Thursday, February 14, 2008


Grove Press: The Club by Takis Würger

DK Publishing: Writers: Their Lives and Works by DK

Page Street Kids: Echo North by Joanna Ruth Meyer

Touchstone Books: I Miss You When I Blink by Mary Laura Philpott

Shadow Mountain: A Monster Like Me by Wendy S. Swore

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers: Dream Big, Little One & Little Dreamers: Visionary Women Around the World by Vashti Harrison

Grove Press: The Heavens by Sandra Newman

News

Notes: New Borders Concept Store; New PMA Executive Director

As part of its strategic plan announced last year, Borders Group has unveiled a new "concept" superstore near its Ann Arbor, Mich., headquarters and will open 14 of them this year, the AP reported. A key element in the store is a "digital center."

USA Today described the new store this way: "themed book islands are built around lifestyle genres, including travel, cooking and health. The digital centers, meantime, are geared to welcome people of all levels of tech know-how. Staffers will guide customers through the process of burning music to CDs, downloading songs to most digital music players (except iPods, which, for now, work only with Apple software) or books to a Sony digital reader. They'll even print the cover art and fold it into a CD cover for you." At the digital centers, customers may also print pictures, order photo albums, buy digital cameras and more.

USA Today also lists the locations of the new stores.

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Books-A-Million plans to open a store in Greensboro, N.C., in Jefferson Village, a development whose construction begins this spring. The BAM store will be "coupled with small shops and a day spa on the main plaza next to the fountain," according to a development company official. This will be BAM's 18th store in North Carolina.

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Terry Nathan has been named executive director of PMA, the Independent Book Publishers Association. He worked for more than 15 years with the previous executive director, his mother, Jan Nathan, who founded the association and died in June 2007. Since then, Terry Nathan has been PMA's director.

In a statement, Nathan said he looks forward "to building upon the legacy of the past 25 years to insure that PMA continues as the leading voice and advocate for the independent publishing community."

PMA president Florrie Binford Kickler, publisher of Patria Press, Indianapolis, Ind.,  said that the board "is pleased to be working with Terry as our association moves into a new era of growth and development."

Incidentally Nathan will be interviewed today on 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 signonradio.com. The host is Antoinette Kuritz.  

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The Book Shop, Beverly Farms, Mass., celebrates its 40th anniversary this week and the Beverly Citizen reported that the bookshop "reads its customers like a book."

Manager and co-owner Pam Price purchased the business in 1997. "I started as Christmas help and now I'm in pretty deep," she said.

According to the Citizen, Price and her business partners "met while working at the store and have remained co-owners the entire time." Loyalty has played a big role in the store's success: "Some of the store's former employees--many of whom worked there part-time while in high school--remain loyal to the store and have established the, 'I love the Book Shop,' group on the social networking Web site Facebook."

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Funny Valentine's? Andy Graves, owner of the Happy Bookseller, Columbia, S.C., told the Charlotte Observer he was a bit shocked that his city was listed among the Top 20 Most Romantic Cities in America as ranked by Amazon.com.

"I'm as surprised as you are that we came in that high," he said of Columbia's 16th place finish, just behind Seattle and San Francisco. Amazon based the list on sales of romance novels, relationship and sex books since January 1.

"Relationship books are very strong sellers," Graves noted. "We don't sell a lot of bodice-ripper type books, but we do sell a lot of historical fiction, which has some romantic elements to it. We don't sell a lot of sex books. You see the occasional high school boy stealing back to that section."

And the romantic top 20?

  1. Alexandria, Va.
  2. Cambridge, Mass.
  3. Miami, Fla.
  4. Irvine, Calif.
  5. Ann Arbor, Mich.
  6. Orlando, Fla.
  7. Berkeley, Calif.
  8. Scottsdale, Ariz.
  9. Arlington, Va.
  10. Atlanta, Ga.
  11. Washington, D.C.
  12. Pasadena, Calif.
  13. Bellevue, Wash.
  14. Seattle, Wash.
  15. San Francisco, Calif.
  16. Columbia, S.C.
  17. Tallahassee, Fla.
  18. Austin, Texas
  19. Richmond, Va.
  20. Knoxville, Tenn.
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The Salinas City Council has recognized Libreria México, Salinas, Calif., "for its literacy promotion during the past quarter-century," according to the Californian.
    
"The idea about our store was because my father believed in education," said owner Stella Sanchez. "He tried to get books for people who couldn't read in English, so they could read in Spanish."

 


G.P. Putnam's Sons: The Bookshop of the Broken Hearted by Robert Hillman


Bookstore, Publisher, General Retail Sales: Mixed Messages

Bookstore sales last December were $2.113 billion, up 2.7% from $2.057 billion in December 2006, according to preliminary estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau. The year ended on a good note, with sales at $16.768 billion, up 1.1% from $16.589 billion in 2006. During the first half of the year, sales were below the previous year's levels, but stronger results in the second half of 2007 helped pull bookstore sales into the black for the full year.

By comparison, total retail sales in December were $394,454 billion, up 2.6% over December 2006, and sales for 2007 were $4.06 trillion, up 4%.

Note: under Census Bureau definitions, bookstore sales are of new books and do not include "electronic home shopping, mail-order, or direct sale" or used book sales.

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In December, sales by 81 publishers as reported to the Association of American Publishers fell 1.8% to $1,367.1 billion. Sales for all of 2007 rose 7.4% to $10,814.8 billion.

Among the strongest categories in 2007:

Children's/YA hardcover, up 46.4% to $907.5 million (think Harry Potter)
E-books, up 23.6% to $31.7 million
Audiobooks, up 19.8% to $203.3 million
University press hardcover, up 8.1% to $75.4 million
Adult hardcover, up 7.8% to $1.794.5 billion
Higher education, up 6.5% to $3.515.5 billion
Children's/YA paperback, up 6.5% to $526.9 million
Religious books, up 5.2% to $640 million

Adult mass market fell 2% to $839.2 million, and adult paperback fell 0.2% to $1.403 billion.

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General retail sales in January unexpectedly rose 0.3%, following a drop of 0.4% in December. But part of the gain came from higher gasoline prices, and, the Wall Street Journal reported, "economists were puzzled by a 0.6% increase in auto sales, since other industry reports show auto sales declined last month. Excluding gas stations and auto sales, retail sales were flat."

Consumer caution "was reflected in purchases of big-ticket items, especially furniture, which posted its sixth straight monthly decline for the first time on record," the Journal continued. "In addition, sales of discretionary items, such as electronics, books, sporting goods and restaurant meals, fell."
 


Touchstone Books: I Miss You When I Blink by Mary Laura Philpott

Image of the Day: Pair of Kittens Enjoy the Cat

The next generation of bookseller-senators recently made their first visit to the Strand, New York City: Ava Rose Wyden (l.) and William Peter Wyden with their mother, Strand owner Nancy Bass Wyden, in the children's department. The pair were born last October 26 and are the first children for Nancy Bass Wyden and her husband, Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.).

 

 


GLOW: Dial Press: Professor Chandra Follows His Bliss by Rajeev Balasubramanyam


Media and Movies

Media Heat: Where Are Those Darned Glasses?

Oops, we almost forgot! Today on Fresh Air: Martha Weinman Lear, author of Where Did I Leave my Glasses?: The What, When, and Why of Normal Memory Loss (Wellness Central, $22.99, 9780446580595/0446580597).

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Tonight on the Colbert Report: Leonard Nimoy, author of The Full Body Project: Photographs by Leonard Nimoy (Five Ties Publishing, distributed by Consortium, $45, 9780979472725/0979472725).

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Tomorrow on the Tyra Banks Show: Kim Hahn, founder of Conceive Magazine and author with the editors of Conceive of The Fertility Journal: A Day-by-Day Guide to Getting Pregnant (Chronicle, $19.95, 9780811862455/0811862453), which will appear May 1.

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Tomorrow on NPR's News and Notes: Randall Kennedy, author of Sellout: The Politics of Racial Betrayal (Pantheon, $22, 9780375425431/0375425438).

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Tomorrow night on Larry King Live: Kathleen Turner, author of Send Yourself Roses: Thoughts on My Life, Love, and Leading Roles (Springboard Press, $24.99, 9780446581127/0446581127).

 


G.P. Putnam's Sons: More Than Words by Jill Santopolo


This Weekend on Book TV: Gang Leader for a Day

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 16

6 p.m. Encore Book Notes. In a segment first aired in 2004, John Seigenthaler, author of James K. Polk, described the subject of his biography as our least acknowledged president.

7 p.m. Jonah Goldberg, author of Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left from Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning (Doubleday, $27.95, 9780385511841/0385511841), contends that there are corollaries between the politics of the left and fascist ideology. (Re-airs Sunday at 1:15 p.m.)

8 p.m. Sudhir Venkatesh, author of Gang Leader for a Day: A Rogue Sociologist Takes to the Streets (Penguin, $25.95, 9781594201509/1594201501), chronicles the seven years he spent observing daily life of the urban poor and the inner workings of a local gang while he was a graduate student in Chicago. (Re-airs Monday at 2 a.m.)

9 p.m. After Words. Akbar Ahmed, chair of Islamic Studies at American University and former Pakistani High Commissioner to Great Britain, interviews Mark Siegel, who assisted the late Benazir Bhutto in her writing of Reconciliation: Islam, Democracy, and the West (Harper, $27.95, 9780061567582/0061567582). (Re-airs Sunday at 12 p.m, 6 p.m. and 9 p.m.; and Monday at 12 a.m.)

Sunday, February 17

11:15 a.m. For an event hosted by Harvard Book Store, Cambridge, Mass., Randall Kennedy, author of Sellout: The Politics of Racial Betrayal (Pantheon, $22, 9780375425431/0375425438), examines ways in which prominent African Americans have been stigmatized as "sellouts." (Re-airs Sunday at 7 p.m. and Saturday, February 23, at 8 p.m.)
     
5 p.m. Larry Diamond, author of The Spirit of Democracy: The Struggle to Build Free Societies Throughout the World (Times Books, $28, 9780805078695/080507869X), talks about the spread of democracy and discusses what to do to increase this growth. (Re-airs Sunday at 8 p.m., Monday at 5 a.m and Saturday, February 23, at 9 a.m.)

 


Rare Bird Books, A Vireo Book: Easy for You to Say by Stuttering John Melendez


Books & Authors

Children's Book Review: The Facttracker

The Facttracker by Jason Carter Eaton, illustrated by Pascale Constantin (HarperCollins, $16.99, 9780060564346/0060564342, 272 pp., ages 8-12, February 2008)

With a kinder, gentler narrator than Lemony Snicket, but one whose sense of irony is no less honed, this first novel will appeal to Series of Unfortunate Events' fans as well as wordsmiths and budding logicians. The town of Traäkerfaxx deals in one trade: the sale of facts. The one who tracks down these facts, naturally, is the Facttracker. He comes from a long line of facttrackers and lives in a factory atop a high hill in solitude, immersing himself in his life's work. At the foot of the hill lives a "just small enough boy," about whom all facts were lost (including his name) due to overeager parents and an unsafe fact factory under construction. Now, the pursuit of the facts that would lead the boy to an identity might seem like plot enough, but more twists and turns abound. For instance, the boy sets out to meet the Facttracker, a factory explosion follows, and it turns out that the Facttracker has a twin, Ersatz, who has been waiting for just such a moment to take Traäkerfaxx under his spell and employ the townspeople in the exportation of lies. Eaton (The Day My Runny Nose Ran Away) plants some nourishing food for thought. "Facts build off facts," says the Facttracker, explaining to the boy hero that "You need to know that there's an earth before you can know that it's round." In the same way, the author points out through another wise character, "There can be no such thing as a fact without the existence of lies to distort them. . . . " and perhaps more important, "The true test of a society isn't how many lies it has; it's how many it believes." The author also injects a great deal of humor, including a running joke about Nebraska with an unexpected payoff. Constantin's illustrations add to the brain-teasing fun: He depicts Ersatz's "Liebrary" as a spoof on the New York Public's main branch at 42nd Street, flanked by menacing lions. This title will inspire some great debates among young people about the ways fact and fiction play off one another, to enhance or subvert the events we observe around us. And adults can appreciate its timing this election year.--Jennifer M. Brown

 



Deeper Understanding

Robert Gray: All You Need is Love . . . and Bookstores

By late afternoon on Valentine's Day, booksellers coast to coast will notice more desperate men lurking in the greeting card section than at any other time of year. Please do not be afraid. The panicky, last-minute card-buying behavior of the male of the species is just one sign that the holiday devoted to creating, recreating, enhancing, confirming or mending relationships is upon us. This is not a sexist comment; it's pure scientific observation, based upon years of research.

Another key sign of the season is the inevitable red-themed displays mingling tomes that would never be caught in one another's company at any other time of the year--a kind of singles night for books.

In addition to desperate men and scarlet books, a couple of recent news stories have inspired me to take a quick websiteseeing tour and find out how booksellers are celebrating Valentine's Day this year. My first bit of inspiration came from the Signal, which reported that Brave New World Comics, Newhall, Calif., held a Geek Singles Night last Friday. You have to like that.

And then I noticed in USA Today that Valentine's gifts are becoming more politically correct. You want a list? I'll give you a list:

  • Fair Trade flowers
  • Organic chocolates
  • Cruelty-free perfume
  • Selfless gifts
  • Paperless love

After reading about geek singles and paperless love, how could I resist the temptation to find out what bookstores are up to tonight?

The Boston Globe features an article on Valentine's Day Singles Night at Andover Bookstore, Andover, Mass. Book group coordinator Karen Harris says, "I'm happily married, but if I was single, I think I'd be pleased to learn how many thoughtful, interesting people there are in the area."

Fountain Bookstore, Richmond, Va., tempts readers with the announcement that "Hot Lunch Returns with Two Rockin' Romance Authors for Valentine's Day! Meet Natale Stenzel & Jenny Gardiner! Hot Lunch!!!"

Mabel Iam, relationship expert and author of I Love You. Now What?, appears for a lunchtime event at Books and Books, Coral Gables, Fla., exploring "what happens after we've entered into a committed relationship."

Want to make your own book of love? McNally Robinson bookstore, New York, N.Y., hosts Esther Smith, author of How to Make Books: Fold, Cut & Stitch Your Way to a One-of-a-Kind Book. She will lead "a special Valentine's Day bookmaking class . . .  Join us for a great alternative Valentine's Day activity."

Malaprop's Bookstore, Asheville, N.C., features local writers/life coaches Joseph and Sarah Elizabeth Malinak, authors of Getting Back to Love: When the Pushing and Pulling Threaten to Tear You Apart, to "discuss ways to improve your relationship by gaining a deeper understanding of both yourself and your partner."

Maybe a little mood music will help. Politics & Prose Bookstore, Washington, D.C., offers lute and Celtic harp duo Linn Barnes and Allison Hampton and invites customers to "come hear them perform on Valentine's Day."

The staff at Tattered Cover Bookstore, Denver, Colo., came up with a list of favorite romantic reads and a bit of advice: "Spend a cold February evening enjoying a little literary romance, or let us wrap one of these up for you as the perfect romantic gift for the one you love!"

But what if this whole Valentine's thing just wears you down? Some bookstores have that angle covered, too.

One may not be the loneliest number that you've ever heard after all. Cornerstone Books, Salem, Mass., says, "Celebrate YOU this Valentine's Day," and suggests that you "be your own best Valentine" tonight at a Goddess Party with Elizabeth Stahl: "From Girlhood to Motherhood to Wise Woman, the Goddess Party is a special invitation to honor a woman's life, friendships, and the many transitions she makes along her way."

An e-mail newsletter from Vroman's Bookstore, Pasadena, Calif., not only showcases many Valentine's Day gift items, but also thoughtfully highlights its "Better Single Than Sorry display," created "for those who think Valentine's Day is more a day to be endured than enjoyed . . . We've got everything you could possibly need to make it a day all about the fabulous, independent you!"

Finally, the remote possibility exists that on this one night, maybe our customers don't need any bookish help at all. Brookline Booksmith, Brookline, Mass., opts for the laissez-faire approach, noting in its e-mail newsletter, "We leave the itinerary for Thursday the 14th up to all you lovebirds out there . . ."--Robert Gray (column archives available at Fresh Eyes Now)

 


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