Shelf Awareness for Friday, April 25, 2008

Ten Speed Press: Demystifying Disability: What to Know, What to Say, and How to Be an Ally by Emily Ladau - An approachable guide to being a thoughtful, informed ally to disabled people!

Etch/Clarion Books: The Heist Age, 2 (Dinomighty!) by Doug Paleo, illustrated by Aaron Blecha

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers: The Hawthorne Legacy (The Inheritance Games #2) by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers: Barb the Last Berzerker, 1 by Dan Abdo and Jason Patterson

Red Lightning Books: Centered: Autism, Basketball, and One Athlete's Dreams by Anthony Ianni and Rob Keast

Atheneum Books: Out of My Heart by Sharon M Draper


Notes: LongPen Reaches New York; Eight New Stores

Excluding a demonstration last year at BEA, LongPen makes its debut in New York City on Monday night, when Margaret Atwood, owner of the company that created the long-distance signing device, will sign copies of Moral Disorder and be interviewed from her home in Toronto at the Barnes & Noble on Union Square. On Thursday, also at the Union Square B&N, David Baldacci will sign copies of The Whole Truth from Huddleston, Va.

For more on the LongPen, see our impressions from last year (Shelf Awareness, May 9, 2007).


Eight American Booksellers Association members opened stores in March. Bookselling This Week gives basic information about them.


Bookselling This Week profiles three bookstores in Moab, Utah, co-owned by Andy Nettell, a former National Park Service ranger and president of the Mountains & Plains Independent Booksellers Association.

The stores are Arches Book Company, a 1,600-sq.-ft. general interest store opened in 2001; Back of Beyond Books, a 1,500 sq.-ft. regional store that Nettell and his silent partners bought in 2004; and ABC & Beyond Used Books, a 1,000-sq.-ft. store that opened in 2005.

Because of rising gas prices, Nettell "expressed concern about the tourist-driven economy of Moab and his bookstore enclave," BTW said. To stay competitive, he stated, "I'm putting our rare and collectible book department online, broadening our gift lines, roasting and selling our own coffee beans, and just trying to diversify."


Chuck and Dee Robinson recount their trip with 15 other booksellers to the London Book Fair, a story that appears in Bookselling This Week.

How was the show? The pair "discovered a couple of potential vendors and placed an order for a book holder that many of the U.S. attendees saw and liked. We saw some magnificent bookstores and took home several pages of notes. We exchanged ideas with our U.K. counterparts, met some favorite authors, and ate some pretty good food. Most of all, however, the time spent with our colleagues was invaluable. The ideas we shared, and the therapy we provided each other, was well worth the trip. And, of course, there was London. As Samuel Johnson said, in conversation with Boswell, 'When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.' "


The finalists for the Locus Awards have been chosen. See them here. Winners will be announced at the Locus Awards ceremony in Seattle on June 21.


Here's a cool book plug that ran on VH1 Radio:

"Queen guitarist Brian May will take part in a signing session in California next month, but it won't be records and pictures he'll be putting his John Hancock on; the rocker will be autographing copies of his latest book, Bang! The Complete History of the Universe [Johns Hopkins University Press, $29.95, 9780801889851/0801889855]. Fresh off receiving his Ph.D. in astrophysics, May co-wrote the tome with legendary astronomer Patrick Moore and astrophysicist Chris Lintott. The book covers the history of the universe from the Big Bang to Heat Death and touches on evolution and how the world will end. It includes photographs, timelines and a glossary, and Brian will be signing copies of it on May 6th at Book Soup in L.A."


The fine art of shelving will be on display April 29, when conceptual artist Dylan Stone atempts to "organize" the Strand Bookstore's rare-book room from 9:30 a.m. until 8 p.m. According to Time Out New York, this is a return engagement of sorts. In 1998, the artist, in "perhaps his most anal endeavor," alphabetized "the store's higgledy-piggledy travel section."

"My parents always put overwhelming pressure on me to read books, and I've spent so much of my life browsing secondhand bookshops," he said. "So there's a sentimental quality to this project. It was the Strand's idea to do the rare-book room, but it fits into my romantic idea of the dusty old library quite well."

Although he will work without special instructions, Stone said, "I've been told there are employees with, um, ideas about how it should be organized. I'm totally open to suggestions." The Strand's customers are apparently less intrigued: "Last time, no one paid me any mind. I'm sure they just think I work there."


Shades of old Chapter 11 in Atlanta, Ga. Defunct Books, which specializes in used, rare and collectible titles, is celebrating its grand opening in Iowa City, Iowa, the Iowa City Press-Citizen reported.


In the Guardian, Sarah Anderson, author of Halfway to Venus: A One-Armed Journey and "founder of the innovative Travel Bookshop that formed the setting for the movie Notting Hill," recommends her top 10 books about wilderness.


Magpie Magazine Gallery, Vancouver, B.C., which is closing after 15 years in business, was praised by the Vancouver Sun for its "moxie" in opening when "the Commercial Drive neighbourhood was a much different place. It was a radically alternative area, so radical that the local Mexican chicken take-out restaurant was firebombed by vegetarians." While other bookstores "dared not and/or cared not to carry anything but strictly left-wing literature," Magpie offered "so called right-wing journals as well."


The 50 best cult books of all time were featured in the Telegraph, which also "tried and failed" to define the concept, settling for "books often found in the pockets of murderers; books that you take very seriously when you are 17; books whose readers can be identified to all with the formula "<Author Name> whacko"; books our children just won't get . . ."

Ultimately, they found they could agree "on one thing: you know a cult book when you see one."


The president of the Iran National Library and Archives (INLA) said that Iranians spend two minutes per day reading books, according to the Tehran Times.


Effective today, Kumarian Press has become an imprint of Stylus Publishing, Sterling, Va. Kumarian's editor and associate publisher Jim Lance and marketing and production manager Erica Flock are retaining their positions. John von Knorring, founder and publisher of Stylus, and Andrea Ciecierski, v-p, marketing and business development, at Stylus, are heading the team.


House of Anansi Press: Speed of Mercy by Christy-Ann Conlin

Booksellers Join Suit Against Oregon Minors' Access Law

Six local booksellers have joined the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression and other groups in a lawsuit filed today against a new Oregon law that makes it a felony to allow a minor under 13 to view or purchase a "sexually explicit" work.

"We do not doubt the good intentions of the Oregon legislature," ABFFE president Chris Finan said in a statement. "But H.B. 2843 lacks the safeguards for booksellers that the U.S. Supreme Court has mandated in this kind of law."

Four of the bookseller-litigants are in Portland: Powell's Books, Annie Bloom's Books, St. John's Booksellers and 23rd Avenue Books. The others are Paulina Springs Books, which has stores in Sisters and Redmond, and Colette's Good Food & Hungry Minds in North Bend.

The booksellers say the law is unconstitutional because it does not require that a book or magazine be judged as a whole in determining whether it is illegal--such a test may exempt works that contain only a few sexually explicit images or passages. In addition, there is no exemption for material that has serious literary artistic, political or scientific value for minors. Under the law, a bookseller can be prosecuted for allowing a 12-year-old to see a sex education book if it contains drawings depicting sexual conduct, even such a book written for minors.

Michael Powell, owner of Powell's, said, "For booksellers, the new law is vague and difficult to apply. It says a 13-year-old can legally buy these books, but it's a crime to sell them to a 12-year-old.  How do I card a 12-year-old?"


Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers: Barb the Last Berzerker, 1 by Dan Abdo and Jason Patterson

Ashworth Wins Borders Employee Fiction Writing Contest

Ralph Ashworth, a supervisor at a Borders store in Tarentum, Pa., near Pittsburgh, has won the Borders Group fiction writing contest that was open to its 30,000 employees. His crime-thriller, The Killer of Orchids, will be published by Borders's State Street Press early next year and will have "the full support of Borders's merchandising and marketing arsenal," as the company put it. Employees submitted more than 200 manuscripts.

The book "follows two amateur sleuths, Xander Pooka, an 11-year-old boy who is bright beyond his years, and Jeff Redwing, a single, gay computer genius, as they investigate the murder of two local men by a samurai," Borders judges at the corporate office said. "Their investigation leads them into an underground ring where murder is the game and they become the hunted."

Ashworth, who has worked for Borders since 1994, said in a statement, "Two years ago I made a commitment to establish myself as a nationally published author, so this is a dream come true. . . . writing fiction is my passion. I'm thankful for this great opportunity Borders has given me to help me achieve my dream."

In 1994, Ashworth published a book, Greetings from Pittsburgh, which tells the history of the city through postcards. A video featuring Ashworth and his postcards are part of a permanent exhibit at the Heinz History Center in Pittsburgh. He has also written feature articles for Pittsburgh Tribune Review and Pittsburgh Magazine. Ashworth studied writing at Carnegie Mellon with historical novelist Gladys Schmitt and attended a master class with 10 writers, including E.L. Doctorow, Raymond Carver and Frank Herbert.


Bloomsbury Continuum: Making Nice by Ferdinand Mount

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Justice Scalia on Making Your Case

Today on All Things Considered: Amy Tan talks about her visits to a traditional Dong village in southwest China that has no written language and still records its history through song. It is the inspiration for an opera she is working on and will also appear in her next novel.


On Sunday on Face the Nation: Roger Mudd, author of The Place to Be: Washington, CBS, and the Glory Days of Television News (PublicAffairs, $27.95, 9781586485764/1586485768).


On Sunday on 60 Minutes: Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia discusses his new book, Making Your Case: The Art of Persuading Judges (Thomson West, $29.95, 9780314184719/0314184716).


Books & Authors

Midwest Connections: Two Titles

From the Midwest Booksellers Association: two recent Midwest Connections picks. Under this marketing program, the association and member stores promote booksellers' handselling favorites that have a strong Midwest regional appeal:

Eight Women, Two Model Ts, and the American West
by Joanne Wilke (University of Nebraska Press/Bison Original, $18.95, 9780803260191/0803260199)

Concerning this true story of eight young women who drove across the American West in 1924 in two Model T Fords, Angie Grafstrom of Inspiration Hollow bookstore, Roseau, Minn., wrote in part, "The book was written/assembled by the granddaughter of one of the travelers . . . I feel Wilke's pride and appreciation as she tells the story of her grandmother, her great aunt and the other women who made this road trip. In historical context, what they did seems even more significant, and really very brave."


The Gollywhopper Games by Jody Feldman, illustrated by Victoria Jamieson (HarperCollins/Greenwillow, $16.99, 9780061214509/0061214507).

Vicki Erwin, owner of Main Street Books, St. Charles, Mo., commented about this children's middle grade title: "The game is about to begin, and readers can compete alongside Gil Goodson and his fellow contestants in the Gollywhopper Games, sponsored by the Golly Toy and Game Company. A million dollars is the prize, but for Gil it goes much deeper. His father's been unjustly accused of embezzling from the Golly Company, so Gil wants to clear his dad's name--then use the money to move as far away as he can get. This is a well-written story with great characters and an interactive element. Kids of all ages will enjoy and learn from The Gollywhopper Games. So, are you ready--to win?"


Book Brahmin: Lily Koppel

Lily Koppel is the author of The Red Leather Diary: Reclaiming a Life Through the Pages of a Lost Journal (HarperCollins, April 8, 2008). She lives in New York City, where she writes for the New York Times and other publications. Visit her site at

On your nightstand now:

My journal, which I add to daily and is the source of story ideas and short reviews of books just completed, like Fitzgerald's Tender Is the Night.
Favorite book when you were a child:

My mother's early edition of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass (in which she had inscribed as a young girl, "If this book should start to roam slap its back and bring it home."). I also loved her old Nancy Drew mysteries, especially The Clue in the Diary and The Mystery of the Brass-Bound Trunk.

Your top five authors:

Vladimir Nabokov, Jorge Luis Borges, Norman Mailer, Virginia Woolf, Haruki Murakami.

Book you've faked reading:

James Joyce's Ulysses. It was part of my tutorial at Oxford, but at the time, having not finished it, I had to fake complete understanding.
Book you are an evangelist for:

My father's unpublished masterpiece, Christ Bob's Text of Life.
Book you've bought for the cover:

I've pre-ordered The Mayor's Tongue by Nathaniel Rich.
Book that changed your life:

The Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann.
Favorite line from a book:

"The cradle rocks above an abyss, and common sense tells us that our existence is but a brief crack of light between two eternities of darkness."--Vladimir Nabokov, Speak, Memory
Book you most want to read again for the first time:

Florence's diary. It was a magical moment when I first discovered it.


Book Review

Book Review: Arnie & Jack

Arnie & Jack: Palmer, Nicklaus, and Golf's Greatest Rivalry by Ian O'Connor (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH), $26.00 Hardcover, 9780618754465, April 2008)

With memories of Augusta National's azaleas and water hazards still fresh, it's the perfect time for a look back at the careers of two golf icons who share 10 Masters green jackets between them. Ian O'Connor's engaging joint biography of Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus is a refreshing reminder that the modern era of golf didn't begin when Tiger Woods joined the PGA Tour in 1996. Indeed, as O'Connor demonstrates, Tiger and his contemporaries owe a substantial debt to Arnie and Jack for the ample rewards lavished on today's golf professionals.

Aided by extensive access to his subjects and interviews with more than 160 other sources, veteran sportswriter O'Connor crisply recounts the head-to-head battles, several in major championships, that marked the fierce competition between Arnie and Jack that began in 1960 and peaked in the mid-1970s. On the golf course, Nicklaus wasted little time challenging Arnie's dominance, nearly winning the 1960 United States Open as a 20-year-old amateur and then defeating "the King" in a playoff at Oakmont in the 1962 Open before a raucous, pro-Palmer throng. Palmer captured two major titles after that loss, but his golfing feats quickly were eclipsed by Nicklaus, 10 years his junior, whose 18 major championships more than doubled Arnie's total.

While Arnie & Jack's appeal to golf fans is obvious, O'Connor isn't content to recount the considerable achievements of these athletes on the playing field. More than that, the story of Palmer and Nicklaus is one of intense competition in every aspect of life between two proud and driven men, and that drama makes for an often riveting story. Whether their rivalry involved the size of their business deals (Palmer raked in $20 million in endorsement income in 2004, at the age of 75), the quality of the golf courses they designed (more than 600 in all) or the speed of their respective jets, each measured his accomplishments by a stark and simple yardstick--the success of the other. And while this competition degenerated at times into petty rivalry, the two champions never lost their respect for each other as golfers and, more fundamentally, as human beings.
With their competitive days on the golf course receding into history and many of their achievements likely to be eclipsed someday by Tiger Woods, Palmer and Nicklaus long ago earned their status as immortals of the game and, with that, the pleasure of looking back on rich and deeply satisfying careers. Anyone who cherishes memories of these extraordinary men no doubt will savor this delightful book.--Harvey Freedenberg


Deeper Understanding

Robert Gray: Turn Page, Chapter Ends, Close Book

When you spend as much time searching for book industry news online as we do, you can't help but spot certain trends. One I've been obsessed with lately is the curious art of headline writing when the subject of an article happens to be the book business, and bookshops in particular. Here is the apparent rule: If an article is about a bookstore, the headline must contain a play on words involving books, pages or chapters.

I'm not complaining. I'm just sayin'.

Librarians have long dealt with their own version of editorial addiction. The library pattern often emerges in lead sentences or opening paragraphs rather than headlines. The inevitable message is that if you visit libraries today, you will not encounter your grandmother's librarians anymore. It seems impossible to write about libraries without a qualifier like the following one, snatched from a random Google News search:

"The second role conjures up the image of the stereotypical librarian, ready to 'shush' at the hint of sound, working in a mausoleum where dead writers repose; a closed, dark place where stuffy intellectuals find obscure facts and parents drag unwilling children to complete school reports."

In the next quotation, the reporter managed to "round up the usual suspects" by quoting a librarian directly: "But they no longer fit the stereotype of a stern-looking woman with glasses holding a finger to her lips signaling you to 'hush,' of a place with dusty rows of bookshelves, large tables and hard wooden chairs, where you have to sit straight up and maintain a Sunday morning church-like quiet."

Does anybody really still hang on to this image besides the media? Have they been in any libraries lately?

The bookstore news equivalent shows up in headlines written by deadline-pressed editors who find the temptation to insert book terms just plain irresistible. If book news generally doesn't inspire New York Post-style, pre-apocalyptic 72-point headlines, it does fuel the media's uncontrollable need for wordplay.

I'm not a collector by nature, but this year I found myself saving headlines about the book business. There are basic themes and variations. The common thread can be summed up, since it's still poetry month, with a headline haiku:

Turning the last page,
Another bookstore closing,
One more chapter ends.

All of the examples included here were "ripped from today's headlines," as they say.

The news in our industry isn't always bad:

  • Broad Vocabulary starts new chapter
  • Bookstore opens a new chapter
  • Bookstore opens latest chapter
  • Store opening another chapter
  • New chapter for Vermont author

It often seems to be a page-turner:

  • Schwartz turns a page
  • Turning the page at the Valley Bookseller
  • Borders ready to turn a new page
  • Brian Baxter decides to turn the page
  • It's time to turn a new page after favourite bookstores close
  • Partnership turns new page for vacant Burke's Building

At times it can be international or even philosophical:

  • Turning a page in downtown Jerusalem
  • Books: A dying form or are we turning the page?

Inevitably, however, in a world where books and the reading life are at risk, chapters must come to an end:

  • Yankee Paperback Exchange faces its final chapter
  • The final chapter for Back Pages?
  • After 50 years, bookstore closes chapter of history
  • Chapter ending for local bookstore
  • Acres may close last chapter

Shelf life expires:

  • Dutton's shelf life finally runs out
  • Bookstore nears end of shelf life

Or we reach dramatic conclusions:

  • The End: Canada's oldest bookstore shuts down

Occasionally, the headline will be anything but a mystery solver, offering only fragmentary information that leaves us wanting more:

  • The next chapter
  • A new chapter?
  • Turning the page

Is this good news or bad news?

One bookshop was fortunate enough to still have time for some economic revisions, which may avert a sad ending:

  • Bookstore rewrites plot

And sometimes, bless those headline scribes, rampant creativity transcends the subject at hand, plumbing all new depths:

  • Owner of trailblazing bookstore chain pulls the plug

Is this a manifesto for change in the way headline writers approach our industry? Absolutely not. We're all word people by definition, avocation and profession. We've turned a few pages ourselves, finished more chapters than we can recall and we're nowhere near ready to close the book. Though it would be nice, now and then, to read a few more happy beginnings.--Robert Gray (column archives available at Fresh Eyes Now)


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