Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Yearling Books: When You Trap a Tiger by Tae Keller

Pantheon Books: Chain Gang All Stars by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah

Scholastic Press: The Guardian Test (Legends of Lotus Island #1) by Christina Soontornvat, illustrated by Kevin Hong

Tor Books: The First Bright Thing by J.R. Dawson


Notes: Martha Speaks—on TV; Another Big Borders Investor

Susan Meddaugh's famous talking dog, Martha (of Martha Speaks, Perfectly Martha, and, our favorite, Martha Blah Blah), will star in her own TV show on public television, produced by WGBH Boston, beginning in September. To mark the occasion, Martha Speaks, the book that launched the canine's career, will include an audio recording by actress Kathy Najimy, and full-color stickers will accompany the paperback edition.

This summer, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt will launch a website,, that will include information about and activities based on both the original books and TV tie-in titles. The tie-in books, which will include picture books, beginning readers and chapter books, will be published in fall 2009.


After putting itself up for a possible sale and with its stock price at a low, Borders Group has attracted another major investor. Principled Capital Management and Principled Asset Administration, run by Gerald Catenacci, have bought some 2.5 million shares of Borders in the past three months and now own 3.4 million, representing 5.7% of the company. The funds had no comment on the purchases. 


"In their rush to abandon the hardback, some imprints are tripping up their own books," the Guardian suggested, citing several examples of the recent trend, including "perhaps the most graphic example," The Paradise Trail by Duncan Campbell.

Headline Review published a limited edition hardback March 6, "but sent out no review copies to the national press, telling literary editors that they didn't want it reviewed until the paperback came out in July." The Guardian obliged, it said, only to be caught by word-of-mouth sales frenzy compelling the newspaper to "review it immediately."


Jim Harris has joined Fulcrum Books, Golden, Colo., as an independent commission sales rep and consultant, focusing on bargain book sales, some bookstore sales, libraries sales and gift store sales. His address and phone remain: P.O. Box 49, Issaquah, Wash. 98027; 425-392-1662.


G.P. Putnam's Sons: The Only Game in Town by Lacie Waldon

Rapture Interrupted: East Village Bookstore-Cafe to Close

Founded in late 2006 by "artists, authors, performers and poets of every medium," Rapture Cafe & Books, in the East Village in New York City, aimed to create "an oasis of the imagination" for "a motley crew who live and thrive on the margins of social convention, and carried the historic torch passed on by East Village visionaries who stretch and push and pull at the boundaries of politics, music, art, sexuality, gender, economy and family." The driving force has been Joe Birdsong, who among other previous gigs, worked at and consulted for OutWrite Books, the gay bookstore in Atlanta, Ga.

Unfortunately the store is closing April 24 because of rising expenses. The store wrote in a general e-mail: "In the space of a very short 15 months, the costs of the raw materials we must use in the operation of our café/bookstore have increased; books, coffee, milk, honey, even limes have jumped in price. Commercial rates of utilities have as much as trebled. Each of you can see this yourselves when your weekly paycheck doesn't go quite as far as it did the week before. Frankly, even if we were unscrupulous enough to pass more of these costs off to you, our patrons, there is a limit to how much you might be willing to pay for, say a cup of coffee or tea. And unlike some of our bigger competitors, we don't feel you should have to pay more than two bucks for a large cup of excellent fair trade coffee!"

Still, Rapture aims to "conceive new ways of producing and presenting some of the best words and performance here in the East Village and beyond." The store will host events, including "Dean Johnson's Reading for Filth," "Readings at Rapture" and "Glenn Marla's Heavy," at other locations.

Rapture will continue to stay in touch with customers via e-mail and is going out in Rapture style with a "Transition Party" on April 18 and a "big blowout to 'welcome' the pope" the next day.


GLOW: Putnam: The Three of Us by Ore Agbaje-Williams

BEA Introduces 'Meet the Bestsellers'

BookExpo America has added a Meet the Bestsellers event that will feature a lunchtime interview of Dean Koontz and Michael Connelly by Carol Memmott, book critic of USA Today, followed by a short Q&A from the audience. The authors will autograph books after the discussion.

Koontz and Connelly are expected to talk about their books, lives, work, inspirations and how their craft has influenced and shaped them. Koontz's next book, Odd Hours, will be published by Bantam Dell in May. Michael Connelly's The Brass Verdict will be published in October by Little, Brown.

Meet the Bestsellers takes place on Sunday, June 1, noon-2 p.m., in Room 403AB on the last day of the Los Angeles show. Attendees will be offered a free box lunch.

In a statement, Lance Fensterman, v-p and show manager for BEA, said, "We have heard that BEA should do more for bestselling authors and so we are creating Meet the Bestsellers as a special annual venue where booksellers may hear some of the country's most successful and established authors speak in a casual setting."


G.P. Putnam's Sons: Love & Other Scams by Philip Ellis

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Former Guantanamo Prisoner Murat Kurnaz

This morning's Book Report, the weekly AM radio book-related show organized by Windows a bookshop, Monroe, La., features an interview with Susan Wittig Albert, whose Nightshade (Berkley, $23.95, 9780425219560/0425219569) is her 16th mystery starring former attorney China Bayles.

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 Talk of the Nation: Murat Kurnaz speaks about his memoir, Five Years of My Life: An Innocent Man in Guantanamo (Palgrave Macmillan, $24.95, 9780230603745/0230603742).


Today on NPR's Day to Day: Isis Aquarian, author of The Source: The Untold Story of Father Yod, YaHoWha 13 and the Source Family (Process, distributed by Consortium, $24.95, 9780976082293/0976082292).


Tomorrow morning on Good Morning America: Stephanie Hirsch, author of Mother Nurture: Life Lessons from the Mothers of America's Best and Brightest (Morrow, $24.95, 9780061189203/0061189200).


Tomorrow morning on the Today Show: Rose Rock, mother of Chris Rock and author of Mama Rock's Rules: Ten Lessons for Raising a Houseful of Successful Children (Collins, $22.95, 9780061536120/0061536121). She will also appear on the View.


Tomorrow on the Diane Rehm Show: Douglas J. Feith, author of War and Decision: Inside the Pentagon at the Dawn of the War on Terrorism (HarperCollins, $27.95, 9780060899738/0060899735).


Tomorrow on KCRW's Bookworm: Anne Enright, author of The Gathering (Grove, $24, 9780802118738/0802118739). As the show put it: "In Anne Enright's Booker Prize-winning novel about a family wake, the narrator remembers, lies, invents and imagines with equal ardor. Here, fictions have as much weight as facts. In this conversation, we learn that the lies the character tells are windows into the truth of her inner life."


Tomorrow on Oprah: David Sheff, author of Beautiful Boy: A Father's Journey Through His Son's Meth Addiction (Houghton Mifflin, $24, 9780618683352/0618683356). Sheff's son, Nic Sheff, author of Tweak: Growing Up on Methamphetamines (Ginee Seo Books, $16.99, 9781416913627/1416913629), will also appear.


Tomorrow night on the Charlie Rose Show: A.G. Lafley, author of The Game-Changer: How You Can Drive Revenue and Profit Growth with Innovation (Crown Business, $27.50, 9780307381736/0307381730).


Tomorrow night on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno: Chelsea Handler, author of Are You There, Vodka? It's Me, Chelsea (Simon Spotlight Entertainment, $24.95, 9781416954125/1416954120).


Tomorrow night on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart: Aram Roston, author of The Man Who Pushed America to War: The Extraordinary Life, Adventures and Obsessions of Ahmad Chalabi (Nation Books, $27.50, 9781568583532/1568583532).


Book Review

Book Review: I Was Told There'd Be Cake

I Was Told There'd Be Cake by Sloane Crosley (Riverhead Books, $15.00 Paperback, 9781594483066, April 2008)

By all accounts, Sloane Crosley is the most well-liked book publicist in New York. If her debut collection of quirky personal essays is any measure of her personality and charm, it's easy to see why. A 20-something Manhattanite who grew up in the comfy environs of Westchester County, Crosley brings a welcome freshness and originality to her keen observations of such common experiences as summer camp, first jobs and tenuous friendships. Readers looking for confessional Sturm und Drang will not find it here. While both sharp and insightful, Crosley avoids dragging deep emotional waters. Instead she offers an expertly detailed view from the surface of life's sometimes frustrating but always entertaining ironies.
In her first essay, for example, Crosley describes how her fondness for ponies--the plastic kind--has resulted in gifts of the little creatures from various boyfriends (now exes), which are now piled up in her kitchen drawer. At first, her desire to dispose of the ponies seems to speak to the need to let go of the past, but no, her attempt to divest herself of them devolves into a very amusing dilemma involving the subway, a black plastic garbage bag and a hefty dose of paranoia.
Another piece describes in it-only-hurts-when-I-laugh detail the author's first job in publishing with a boss from hell whose dislike for her seemed to increase in direct proportion to Crosley's groveling. The nadir of this relationship came when Crosley baked a giant cookie in her boss's likeness. Big mistake. Later, a volunteer position at the Butterfly Room in the Museum of Natural History leads to some unexpectedly sticky situations. For anyone who's ever felt the shame of lepidopterophobia, here's your justification.
Readers will doubtless be able to relate to Crosley's tale of being roped into maid of honor duty by an old friend she hasn't heard from for a decade--and the miserable pink plaid wedding that follows. The boundaries of friendship are further explored--to hilarious effect--in "Smell This," one of the wittiest essays here, which involves two couples, a chocolate pear tart and an unmentionable parting gift.
Self-deprecating (though never ostentatiously so) and still possessed of the kind of optimism that allows her to believe her lost wallets will always be returned intact, Crosley manages to combine edginess and awe in an ultimately winning combination. She's literate, likeable and very funny, all of which makes her essays a pleasure to read.--Debra Ginsberg



A Rosen By Any Other Name . . .

Dumb mistake: in yesterday's issue, we mangled the name of Andrea Rosen, who has been promoted at HarperCollins. The item should have read:

Andrea Rosen has been promoted to senior v-p, special markets, at HarperCollins. She joined the company five years ago as senior director, special sales, for children's books, then also general books, and in 2005 was named v-p, special markets. Earlier she worked at Random House and Workman.

HarperCollins president of sales Josh Marwell said that the special markets department has had "record sales" under Rosen. Recent achievements include custom projects with Saks Fifth Avenue and Radio City Music Hall.

Our apologies! 

Deeper Understanding

Bookselling in a Recession: Iowa Store Keeps Growing

This is the first in a series of articles we'll be running about how booksellers are faring in the current economy. Our initial bookstore, chosen at random, has decidedly good news.


Economic woes aren't a concern at Beaverdale Books, which opened nearly two years ago in Des Moines, Iowa. "I don't know if it's because we're such a new store and we're still in a growth period," said owner Alice Meyer, "but things are going in the right direction."

Sales were significantly higher than anticipated in February and well above those during the same month last year. March was slower, noted Meyer, but sales still increased from last year's tally. "Everyone I know went away for spring break in March just to get away from it all," said Meyer, "which I think says something about the economy here that people are still traveling."

Fiction titles are popular choices among Beaverdale's clientele, as are political books. Barack Obama's The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream has the lead in the latter category.

The state as a whole seems to be faring better than others in the nation, Meyer noted. Both the unemployment rate and gasoline prices are below the national average, and food and biofuel prices are up, benefitting farmers. "Things seem to take a while to catch up here, both the good and the bad," she said. Although economic hardship hasn't affected Beaverdale Books, Myer is making sure to draw foot traffic into the store with a robust schedule of author events and is also doing more convention and corporate sales. This includes bulk purchases, book fairs at churches and other organizations and conferences. "As long as other businesses and corporations are doing O.K.," Meyer added, "I think there's a spot in there for us, too."

Over the next week, in addition to several in-store events like readings for national poetry month and a scrap booking soirée with the authors of LifeCatching: The Art of Saving and Sharing Memories, Meyer and her staff will be selling books at the Iowa Governor's Conference on Substance Abuse and at a literary arts festival sponsored by Des Moines Area Community College.

"It surprises me sometimes," Meyer said of the upswing in sales so far this year. "I don't know if books and lattes are the last luxury items people are indulging in, but it's fine with me."--Shannon McKenna Schmidt


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