Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Red Lightning Books: Weird Earth: Debunking Strange Ideas about Our Planet by Donald R Prothero

St. Martin's Press: The Awakening: The Dragon Heart Legacy, Book 1 (Dragon Heart Legacy, 1)

Houghton Mifflin: Igniting Darkness (Courting Darkness Duology) by Robin Lafevers

Clarion Books: Speak Up by Miranda Paul, illustrated by Ebony Glenn


Notes: Oprah-Tolle Webinar Hiccup; Store Changes

On Monday evening, some of the half million people who signed up to watch the first webinar featuring Oprah and Eckhart Tolle, author of the latest Oprah pick, A New Earth, were unable to get onto the site. A statement from Oprah's Harpo Productions, Move Networks and Limelight Networks apologized and said that "more than 500,000 people simultaneously logged on . . . resulting in 242 Gbps of information moving through the Internet. Unfortunately, some of our users experienced delays in viewing the webcast. We are working to identify the specific causes for the problems experienced and will work diligently to rectify them."

Noting that "interactive Internet broadcasting to a mass audience is still an emerging medium," the producers said, "We're proud to have been pioneers in pushing the industry forward."

The class is available as a podcast on or iTunes.


Tolle's publishers, using old-fashioned print technology, have had no trouble supplying the masses. Penguin shipped 3.45 million copies of A New Earth in four weeks, a record for the publisher. And after Oprah's announcement, New World Library, publisher of Tolle's The Power of Now, went back to press for 600,000 copies of the book and other Tolle book, audio and card deck titles. Already New World had 2 million copies of the 1999 book in print.

To date, no copies of A New Earth or The Power of Now have crashed.


"The more people reading my book, the happier I am," Charles Bock, author of Beautiful Children, told USA Today in reaction to last Friday's free download offer of the book in cooperation with Random House,, B&, and (Shelf Awareness, February 27, 2008).

USA Today also noted that M.J. Rose, novelist and owner of, said it was "about time publishers tried new ideas to attract readers. She and other authors, notably science-fiction writer Douglas Clegg and business writer Seth Godin, have offered free samples or distribution of their books starting nine years ago."

"We found we were selling more, not less, copies of the books we were giving away," she added. "Anyone who really wanted the book will buy the book. But there are so many more people who think, 'Hmmm, it looks interesting, but I'm not sure.' And this is how to go after them."


Along the lines of Quick Books, mentioned here yesterday, TCU Press is launching a line this spring called Texas Small Books--all 4.5 x 6.5, 96 pages long and priced under $10. The first three titles are Extraordinary Texas Women, Texas Country Singers and State Fare: An Irreverent Guide to Texas Movies. Fall titles are Great Texas Chefs and Texas Football Legends: Greats of the Game. Director Judy Alter says, "We hope these books, geared to increasing the average reader's knowledge of our state, will be 'pick-up' purchases, displayed at point-of-sale locations."


Books-A-Million plans to open two new stores in Virginia, where it already has 19 stores. One is in the Waynesboro Town Center in Waynesboro, near Charlottesville, and the other is in Landstown Commons in Virginia Beach.


The Graduate Theological Union Bookstore, Berkeley, Calif., is closing by the end of the semester. The store stocks more than 12,000 titles ranging from scholarly books to books serving pastors and congregations to general religion titles.

In an e-mail announcing the closing, manager John Seal said, "We fought the good fight against the chain stores and deep discount online competition and outlived many of our independent book-selling brethren, but our sales base has continued to slowly erode, and we can go on no longer."


The Next Chapter Bookstore & Coffeehouse, Woodland, Calif., will be closing after more than two decades in business, according to the Daily Democrat. "It's just been a step forward here, a step back there, a step forward here, a step back there," co-owner John Hamilton said. "We have not lasted 21 years for not trying."


Nicole and Jim Hayes, who own a gift and home decor store and a wine and martini bar, have just opened their third business, Cafe Book, a coffee shop and bookstore, in Antioch, Ill., the Chicago Daily Herald reported.

As in the case of their previous two businesses, "we saw what Antioch was lacking and decided to do something about it," Nicole Hayes told the paper.

Cafe Book has "plenty of tables and oversized chairs, perfect for people who want to spend a lazy morning sipping and browsing books," the Daily Herald continued. There is also a fireplace.

A customer commented: "I think with so many new subdivisions and younger people moving into Antioch we needed something like this. It is a big improvement for Antioch."


Calling "a kind of Facebook meets prayer book," ABC News reported that the online retailer is using "a clever strategy that has pit Christian readers against anti-censorship intellectuals." "allows its buyers to ban saucy books from their accounts. What's more, if enough customers block a certain book, the company removes it from the site altogether. . . . The site launched in the fall and initially blocked 65,000 titles; since then, another 100 to 200 books have been dropped."

"It is truly a free country, and I'm not the public library or the forced education system," said Lee Martin, the company's chairman. "I believe in free enterprise, and I think people care what we are about."


Red Lightning Books: The Legend of Bigfoot: Leaving His Mark on the World by T.S Mart, Mel Cabre

Image of the Day: Mingle Lest They All Fall Down

A recent Mix, Mingle and Meet the Author event, hosted by Liberty Bay Books, Poulsbo, Wash., featured Margaret Willson, author of Dance Lest We All Fall Down, and Susan Wiggs, author of the Lakeside Chronicles series and other titles. Here fans pose with Willson and Wiggs, who flank Liberty Bay Books owner Suzanne Droppert (in the center, holding copies of both books). For $50, booklovers at the events, held at the Resort at Port Ludlow, receive an autographed book and a gourmet dinner. Next month's Mix, Mingle and Meet the Author event features Aaron Elkins and Earl Emerson.


University of Pittsburgh Press: The Prince of Mournful Thoughts and Other Stories by Caroline Kim

Media and Movies

Movies: Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day

Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, based on the book by Winifred Watson, opens March 7. Frances McDormand stars as a middle aged British woman who becomes involved in the hectic life of an American actress. The movie tie-in edition is  available from Persephone Books ($15, 9781906462024/190646202X).


Rick Riordan Presents: Tristan Strong Destroys the World (a Tristan Strong Novel, Book 2) by Kwame Mbalia

Media Heat: On the Road with Anne Rice

This morning's Book Report, the weekly AM radio book-related show organized by Windows a bookshop, Monroe, La., features interviews with authors of books for children and teenagers:

  • Meg Cabot, author of Allie Finkel's Rules for Girls Rules for Girls: Moving Day (Scholastic, $15.99, 9780545039475/0545039479)
  • Alan Gratz, author of Samurai Shortstop (Puffin, $7.99, 9780142410998/0142410993) and Something Rotten (Dial Books, $16.99, 9780803732162/0803732163)

The show airs at 8 a.m. Central Time and can be heard live at; the archived edition will be posted this afternoon.


Today on Fresh Air: Richard Price, author of Lush Life: A Novel (FSG, $26, 9780374299255/0374299250). 


Tomorrow morning on Good Morning America: Anne Rice, author of Christ the Lord: The Road to Cana (Knopf, $25.95, 9781400043521/1400043522).


Tomorrow on the Today Show: Alice Domar, author of Be Happy Without Being Perfect: How to Break Free from the Perfection Deception (Crown, $24.95, 9780307354310/0307354318).


Tomorrow on the Diane Rehm Show: Dr. Robert Butler, author of The Longevity Revolution: The Benefits and Challenges of Living a Long Life (Public Affairs, $30, 9781586485535/1586485539).


Tomorrow on KCRW's Bookworm: Lewis Hyde, author of The Gift: Creativity and the Artist in the Modern World (Vintage, $14.95, 9780307279507/0307279502). As the show described it: "How does the creative person function in a market culture? In the 25 years since The Gift was first published, this question has become increasingly more difficult to answer. Lewis Hyde posits some answers as he examines the way artists use their natural gifts in the world today and the possibility of resurrecting the spirit of generosity intrinsic to the making of art."


Tomorrow on the View: Danielle Steel, whose new book is Honor Thyself (Delacorte, $27, 9780385340243/0385340249).


Tomorrow on CNN's Glenn Beck Show: Martin Fletcher, author of Breaking News: A Stunning and Memorable Account of Reporting from Some of the Most Dangerous Places in the World (Thomas Dunne Books, $24.95, 9780312371180/0312371187).


Tomorrow on the Colbert Report: Robin Wright, author of Dreams and Shadows: The Future of the Middle East (Penguin Press, $26.95, 9781594201110/1594201110).


Books & Authors

Awards: ForeWord's Book of the Year Finalists

ForeWord Magazine offers the finalists for the 10th annual Book of the Year Awards, which include 658 books in 61 categories, representing some of the best work by independent presses. For a full list, visit

Gold, Silver, and Bronze winners as well as Editor's Choice Prizes for Fiction and Nonfiction will be announced on May 29 at a program at BookExpo America that will be open to all BEA attendees.


Books for Understanding: The Former Yugoslavia

The latest subject for Books for Understanding, the online bibliography sponsored by the Association of American University Presses, is the former Yugoslavia, which is in the news again because of Kosovo's declaration of independence from Serbia.

The more than 70 titles in the bibliography include:

  • Democratization in the Balkans: Prescription for a Badly Scarred Body Politic by Richard P. Farkas (Northeastern University Press/UPNE, 2008)
  • Serbia Since 1989: Politics and Society under Milosevic and After edited by Sabrina P. Ramet and Vjeran Pavlakovic (University of Washington Press, 2006)
  • This Was Not Our War: Bosnian Women Reclaiming the Peace edited by Swanee Hunt, foreword by William Jefferson Clinton (Duke University Press, 2004)
  • The Culture of Lies: Antipolitical Essays by Dubravka Ugresic (Penn State University Press, 1998)


The Bestsellers

Nightbird Books Bestsellers--And Why

An event that has yet to take place is the reason for the No. 1 bestseller at Nightbird Books in Fayetteville, Ark., for the week ended Saturday, March 1. Jon and Pamela Voelkel won't be at the store for another three weeks, but advance promotion for their appearance has propelled Middleworld, an adventure book for young readers, into the top spot.

On March 26, the husband-and-wife writing duo will participate in Nightbird's monthly book club for middle grade students. In addition, store owner Lisa Sharp has arranged for them to speak at three local schools. Parents and teachers have been purchasing copies of Middleworld, the first volume of a trilogy, since flyers touting the events were sent out.

"Our bestseller list tends to be event driven," explained Sharp. This month, though, the store's sole author appearance is with the Voelkels, leading the bookseller to devise another way to draw customers into the store: by sponsoring a contest inspired by Not Quite What I Was Planning: Six-Word Memoirs by Writers Famous and Obscure. Entrants are creating their own six-word autobiographies, and the winner will receive a $30 Nightbird Books gift card. The contest has landed the book (which Sharp noted is currently backordered) in the No. 2 position in its second week on the list.

To promote the contest, which began last week and goes through March 15, Sharp reached out to aspiring wordsmiths via the store's e-mail newsletter. "I sent it out late one night, and the next morning as soon as we opened I had someone here with his entry," she said. So far the contest has drawn about 25 responses, including some from participants in the four writing groups that meet at the store. Not Quite What I Was Planning is also finding favor with high school teachers, who indicated they're using the book in their classrooms.

Nightbird's No. 3 title, Robert Olmstead's Coal Black Horse, is Sharp's "favorite book from last year." She has been steadily handselling the Civil War novel for months and has it showcased in the store's staff favorites section. (Incidentally along with spotlighting staff selections, Nightbird is starting a customer favorites section and inviting patrons to weigh in on their favorite reads.) Another employee pick is Arthur Spiderwick's Field Guide to the Fantastical World Around You. After arriving in theaters last month, the big-screen version of The Spiderwick Chronicles also generated interest in the illustrated tome, which depicts creatures featured in the children's book series.

Garnering the No. 10 bestselling spot is The Brief History of the Dead by Kevin Brockmeier, which was the 2007 selection for the statewide program "If All Arkansas Read the Same Book." The Little Rock resident's novel is still benefiting from the momentum and is a popular pick for area book clubs.

Appearing among Nightbird's top 10 are the Book Sense bestsellers Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert, Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson, Atonement by Ian McEwan and No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy. Book Sense bestsellers and Book Sense picks are prominently displayed in the store. (Arguably Nightbird's most interesting display is non-book related--an aviary with some 15 doves, finches and a canary.)

Rounding out the list is the Book Sense bestseller and Oprah's Book Club-endorsed A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose by Eckhart Tolle. Other than titles that were already selling well at the store when they were tapped by the talk show maven, such as Love in the Time of Cholera and The Road, "this is really the first Oprah book that I've had a lot of response on," said Sharp. Self-help books are popular with Nightbird customers, she added, "and perhaps the fact that Oprah is doing an online course along with it is appealing to people."

Furthermore, Sharp tends to steer clear of books--such as Oprah selections--that are heavily discounted at big box merchants. "I'm 30 minutes from Wal-Mart headquarters," she said, where New York Times bestselling titles can be had at deeply discounted prices. "I keep some of those around for my steady clients who won't buy their books elsewhere, but I'm not trying to compete with that."

Later this month, Sharp is launching a discussion group for Fayetteville retailers and others interested in supporting independent businesses. The first selection is Bill McKibben's Deep Economy: The Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future, and after reading the book the goal is for participants to come up with strategies "that can be implemented in our own community," Sharp said, "and eventually have it turn into a shop local program."  

Next month Nightbird Books will celebrate its second anniversary with author appearances and other festivities, and in conjunction with National Poetry Month, offer a discount to customers who recite a poem at the register.

There's another reason to celebrate: when she opened the store, Sharp decided that the two-year mark would be "the deciding point" at which she assessed the viability of the store and determined its future. Her verdict? "I'm definitely sticking with it."--Shannon McKenna Schmidt

Nightbird Books bestsellers during the week ended March 1:

1. Middleworld: The Jaguar Stones--Book One by Jon and Pamela Voelkel (Smith & Sons, $17.95, 9781575255613/1575255618)
2. Not Quite What I Was Planning: Six-Word Memoirs by Writers Famous and Obscure edited by Smith Magazine (Harper Perennial, $12, 9780061374050/0061374059)
3. Coal Black Horse by Robert Olmstead (Algonquin, $23.95, 9781565125216/1565125215)
4. No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy (Vintage, $14, 9780375706677/0375706674)
5. Atonement by Ian McEwan (Anchor, $14.95, 9780385721790/038572179X)
6. A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose by Eckhart Tolle (Penguin, $14, 9780452289963/0452289963)
7. Arthur Spiderwick's Field Guide to the Fantastical World Around You (Simon & Schuster Children's, $24.95, 9780689859410/0689859414)
8. Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia by Elizabeth Gilbert (Penguin, $15, 9780143038412/0143038419)   
9. Three Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission to Promote Peace . . . One School at a Time by Greg Mortenson (Penguin, $15, 9780143038252/0143038257)  
10. The Brief History of the Dead by Kevin Brockmeier (Vintage, $13.95, 9781400095957/1400095956)


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