Shelf Awareness for Thursday, May 8, 2008

Workman Publishing: So Embarrassing: Awkward Moments and How to Get Through Them by Charise Mericle Harper

Candlewick Press: Evelyn del Rey Is Moving Away by Meg Medina, illustrated by Sonia Sanchez

Scholastic Press: Illegal: A Disappeared Novel, Volume 2 by Francisco X. Stork

Tor Books: Rhythm of War (Stormlight Archive, 4) by Brandon Sanderson

Disney-Hyperion: The Mirror Broken Wish (Mirror #1) by Julie C. Dao


Notes: 007's Next Mission in the U.S.; Store Moves

The Wall Street Journal has a briefing about the release May 28 of Devil May Care by Sebastian Faulks starring James Bond. The print run is 250,000, and Doubleday plans "a lavish marketing campaign."

Unlike other Bond novels written after the death of Ian Fleming, who would have turned 100 on pub date, Devil May Care is set during the Cold War, not in the present.

Bob Wietrak, v-p of merchandising at Barnes & Noble, which is ordering "a large quantity" of Devil May Care, told the Journal: "The downturn in the economy has prompted a demand for escapist fare."


The Bookshelf and the Blue Heron Coffeehouse, Winona, Minn., are moving in together and sharing space, as the two businesses had hoped to do earlier this year (Shelf Awareness, March 7, 2008), the Winona Daily News reported. Blue Heron had closed and is reopening on May 30. The Bookshelf is moving from its current space on May 24 to the new spot at 162 W. Second St.

Noting that "books and coffee are a formula that has worked in a lot of small towns," Bookshelf owner Chris Livingston said the arrangement was ideal because he didn't want to be "in the food business. I'm in the bookselling business."

In the new location, the Bookshelf will no longer sell textbooks and is adding used books to its mix.


With two weeks to go before vacating its home of 35 years, Kennebunk Book Port, Kennebunk, Me., needed a loan to make a move, but in these credit-stingy times, owners Ellen and Rich Chasse had trouble finding a bank willing to lend them any money. But at the last minute, the Ocean Community Bank provided the necessary funds, and the store has moved to Shopper's Village on busy Route 1, the Portsmouth Herald News reported.

In the new space, Kennebunk Book Port is stocking more teen and YA books and for the first time, graphic novels. In addition, the store has longer hours and added several part-time employees.


Crocodile Pie, the 19-year-old children's bookstore in Libertyville, Ill., is closing at the end of July, according to the Chicago Daily Herald.

Owner Kim White said that the store had survived the growth of online retailers, chain bookstores and non-bookstore retailers like Wal-Mart. "It's just time to do other things," she told the paper. "My kids are now out of college and I want to travel and be with them."

White would rather sell than close, but no one has expressed interest in purchasing the store yet.


Jane Austen's novels have found surprising new fans in the new, bestselling, violent video game Grand Theft Auto IV, according to this report from late night TV host Conan O'Brien, who wonders if attempts to tone down the game have gone too far.


Is book burning always a bad idea? One of the most notorious book burnings in history occurred on May 10, 1933, when the Nazis publicly burned thousands of books three months after Hitler took power. AbeBooks has marked the 75th anniversary of this incident by interviewing three authorities who offer a range of views:

Matt Fishburn, Australian rare bookseller and author of Burning Books: "Most officially sanctioned fires are designed to control, and to announce what they stand for and what will be accepted under their rule. Burnings like those of the Nazis have something in common with the early modern burning of books in Europe. They announced what would be acceptable in future, and in the process shaped the new public sphere. The book burnings are the symbol; the repressive legislation that came in its wake was what enforced it."

Rebecca Knuth, author of Burning Books and Leveling Libraries: Extremist Violence and Cultural Destruction and Libricide: The Regime-Sponsored Destruction of Books and Libraries in the Twentieth Century: "Because book burning is associated with barbarism and the disintegration of civilization, it signals that things are out of control and society is under threat. When specific books or categories of books are targeted and destroyed, the individuals who identify with those books know that they themselves, their group, and their beliefs are under attack."

Shaun Bythell, owner of the Bookshop, Wigtown, Scotland, who staged a public book burning in 2005. "I suppose I didn't feel strange burning them because it was like cremating a corpse, rather than burning a living person. The books were dead in as much as nobody would ever read them again. We used a quotation from Rabbi Akiba Ben Joseph in our publicity material, which was 'The paper burns, but the words fly away.'"



University of California Press: A People's Guide to the San Francisco Bay Area, Volume 3 by Rachel Brahinsky, Alexander Tarr, Bruce Rinehart

Booksellers Join Suit Over New Indiana Licensing Law

The American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, the Great Lakes Booksellers Association and Big Hat Books, Indianapolis, have joined Media Coalition and other organizations in a suit filed yesterday against a new Indiana law requiring any store that sells a "sexually explicit" book, magazine, video or recording to register with the state and pay a $250 license fee (Shelf Awareness, March 25, 2008).

"The law says Big Hat Books might be an 'adult' bookstore if we sell a single copy of Lolita," Big Hat owner Elizabeth Houghton Barden said in a statement. "Being classified as an adult bookstore basically puts us out of business."

ABFFE president Chris Finan observed: "This law is a shocking violation of our national commitment to maintain bookstores as a forum for the free exchange of ideas. We do not license bookstores in the United States."

Plaintiffs hope that there will be a hearing on their motion for a preliminary injunction before the law goes into effect on July 1.

It's been a busy spring for ABFFE: only two weeks ago, the organization joined in a lawsuit against a new Oregon law that makes it a felony to allow a minor under 13 to view or purchase a "sexually explicit" work (Shelf Awareness, April 24, 2008).


Milkweed Editions: The Shame by Makenna Goodman

PNBA's Trade Show Makeover

The Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association plans to make major changes to its fall show, some of which were outlined recently by executive director Thom Chambliss, who emphasized that not all details have been worked out and that the show will be "a trial effort." He encouraged booksellers, reps, publishers, authors, librarians and others to comment and share ideas.

Among the changes:

The next two shows will be back in Portland, Ore., where PNBA traditionally has the best attendance, and they will be at the Holiday Inn at the airport, which has a relatively small conference center of about 15,500 square feet of space. As a result, aisles and booths will be smaller. The basic booth will be 8' x 8' compared to 8' x 10'.

Because the Columbia Conference Center is less expensive than other sites PNBA has used in the past, the association will pass on cost savings by reducing the prices of booth space and tables for the booths.

PNBA is encouraging exhibitors to exhibit just one day, Tuesday, September 16. Exhibitors wanting to exhibit a second day may do so, but for an extra fee and with a tighter deadline for reserving space.

There will be no author autographings on the show floor on that first day of exhibits and no educational events for booksellers until after the floor closes. The second day of exhibits will be Author Promotion Day--exhibitors will share the hall with authors who in addition to traditional signings, will discuss presentations they might make when visiting stores and will take part in panels and seminars during which they will talk about how booksellers can promote their books and how everyone in the business can work together to promote book sales. The signings and events will be scattered through the hall to encourage booksellers to circulate among the booths.

Reflecting a show theme of "Booksellers and Librarians Working Together," the association is inviting "a larger but limited number of librarians"--at most 100--to the show, offering free education on the first day of exhibits and full access to the hall on Wednesday, the Author Promotion Day.


University of California Press: The Koreas: The Birth of Two Nations Divided by Theodore Jun Yoo

April/ Poetry Month/ Open Mic Competition/ Good Times

After receiving a B.A. in history from the University of Southern California, Jenn Northington eschewed graduate school in favor of working for Changing Hands bookstore in Tempe, Ariz. Four years later, only one of which was spent outside the book world, she and her husband are happily ensconced in Salt Lake City, Utah, where she works as events and marketing manager of the King's English Bookshop. Here she recounts the roots of a competition in which everyone, including the store, seemed to win.

April was looking sparse, and there's nothing worse for an events manager. What to do? I thought: Well, it's April. It's National Poetry Month. Why not have our very own slam? I wasn't really sure what a poetry slam was, but it sounded like fun. We could even give it a fancy title, call it the First Annual Thingy, and start a new tradition. At this point, I envisioned maybe 10 poets, 20 chairs (but only 15 of them filled) and a quiet night in the store. What I got was 70 people, only 60 of whom had chairs to sit in, and two rounds of 20 plus poets each, slamming, declaiming and generally having a poetically fantastic time.

Sound like fun? You, too, can put on a poetry event. Here are three easy steps:

1. Seek help. Immediately.

As I mentioned, I wasn't really sure what a poetry slam was. It sounded like more fun than a simple open mic night. So, like any good twenty-something, I went online to Wikipedia. Turns out, there is a LOT to a slam, and I knew right away that I would need help. Help as in experienced-people help--experienced people who also like poetry. I began e-mailing the published poets we'd had readings for over the past few months, asking them if they'd like to "host"--a code word that translates to "help me organize, publicize and fraternize with the poetry community." One by one they turned me down, each with a different reason: vacation, prior engagements, ill health. One, however, who also teaches at the University of Utah, offered to put me in touch with some of his graduate students.

2. Don't call it a slam.

Next thing I knew, I was sitting at a cafe table with three graduate students, all poets, some of whom also taught creative writing. It was starting to look like maybe this wasn't going to happen, after all.

"You want to do a slam? I don't know if I'd be comfortable helping with one of those . . . " We talked in circles for a while before I realized what was going on.

It turns out that in Salt Lake, there are rival poetry gangs. The University scene is focused on the art of crafting a poem. Then there is the spoken word scene, which itself is split into different groups. There are the official slams, which are deadly serious about performance, points earned and involve national competitions; then there is the Ruckus, a spoken word group that doesn't have points, doesn't compete, but puts on shows every month, with music and performances, that gather hundreds of onlookers and dozens of participants. How to get them all together? The answer is to call it anything you want, so long as you don't call it a slam.

Once I accepted that I would have to change the name and format of the evening I'd already started marketing as a slam, things started to go swimmingly. My new collaborators got excited and came up with brilliant ideas: prizes! judges! judges from each rival gang! the Utah Poet Laureate as a judge! flyers! extra credit for students who participated! And on and on, until my head was spinning and I had three pages of notes.

3) Get excited!

There is nothing as energizing as working with enthusiastic people, and I was lucky enough to have the three graduate students in addition to the energetic support of the bookstore staff. With their help, I secured three amazing judges: the Utah Poet Laureate Kate Coles; a Salt City Slam organizer; and a local teacher and City Arts organizer. We distributed flyers, teachers offered extra credit for students to participate, I sent out press releases and e-postcards to the store's mailing list, and then sat back and crossed my fingers.

On the day of the event, at 5 p.m. I came out of my office to see if anyone was there to sign up to read and saw a line of 10 people waiting at the registers. Half an hour later, I had signed up 20 people for our First Round, in which participants could read either their own work or another poet's, and 30 in the Second Round, for original work only; some even signed up for both! Our staff was busy setting up extra chairs for the many participants and their friends and family.

Poets ranged from the published, to the aspiring, to the nine-year-old girl who not only held her own but was so inspiring that we made an extra prize just for her: a $15 gift certificate for the Youngest Poet Present. In both rounds there was a winner who received $25 gift certificates for the store. Every performance, some as short as 30 seconds and some as long as three minutes, was greeted with wild cheers from the audience, and our two winners (one from each round) walked away with their $25 Gift Certificates and enormous smiles on their faces.

As for me, I'm still smiling, and I'm dreaming of next year. I may even add a monthly Open Mic night to our events roster to keep our poets in practice and ready for next year's competition!


Berkley Books: The Ballad of Hattie Taylor by Susan Anderson

Borders Partners to Form Latino Book Club

Borders, the Association of American Publishers and Las Comadres, a nationwide Latina group with 10,000 members who communicate via e-mail networks, teleconferencing and potluck suppers, have founded the Las Comadres and Friends National Latino Book Club. The club will be hosted at some Borders stores in 15 cities in Arizona, California, Florida, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Mexico, Texas and Utah. The program will be expanded eventually to all 60 cities where Las Comadres exists.

Membership is open to anyone interested in reading English-language works by Latino authors. Author Esmeralda Santiago is the official spokesperson for the club.

Ernesto Martinez, Spanish book buyer for Borders Group, said in a statement: "We are pleased to support Las Comadres' book clubs as it aligns perfectly with our mission to be the headquarters for knowledge and entertainment, and provides the opportunity to reach our many valued readers in the Hispanic community."

Johanna Castillo, national organizer of the book club and a Comadres board member says, "We are launching the book club to promote the work of Latino authors to every book lover, to bring our community to bookstores, and to support our writers."

The book club's selection for 2008, made by a committee of Las Comadres members and Borders, are:

  • June: A Handbook to Luck by Cristina Garcia (Vintage)
  • July: The King's Gold by Yxta Maya Murray (HarperCollins)
  • August: Mexican Enough by Stephanie Elizondo Griest (Washington Square Press)
  • September: More Than This by Margo Candela (Fireside)
  • October: The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz (Riverhead)
  • November: The Gifted Gabaldon Sisters by Lorraine Lopez (Grand Central)
  • December: And Their Dogs Came With Them by Helena Maria Viramontes (Washington Square Press)

Readers can get more information about club meetings from Publishers who want to submit titles for the club should contact Tina Jordan at or 212-255-0200, ext. 263.


Media and Movies

Media Heat: John Harwood on Backroom Power

Today on Writer's Roundtable, hosted by Antoinette Kuritz: author Dorothea Benton Frank on place as character and humor in fiction. Tune in via or


Tonight on Charlie Rose: Bill Moyers, author of Moyers on Democracy (Doubleday, $26.95, 9780385523806/0385523807).


Tomorrow on the View: Andy Hilford, author of The Grandmother Book: A Book About You for Your Grandchild (Andrews McMeel, $18.99, 9780740771125/0740771124).


Tomorrow on Countdown with Keith Olbermann: Mary Tillman, author of Boots on the Ground by Dusk (Modern Times/Rodale, $25.95, 9781594868801/1594868808).


Tomorrow night on the Late Show with David Letterman: Barbara Walters, whose new book is Audition: A Memoir (Knopf, $29.95, 9780307266460/030726646X).


Sunday on Meet the Press: John Harwood, author of Pennsylvania Avenue: Profiles in Backroom Power (Random House, $26, 9781400065547/1400065542).


This Weekend on Book TV: A Tribute to Philip Roth

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, May 10

1 p.m. For an event held at Columbia University bookstore, Steven Johnson, author of The Ghost Map: The Story of London's Most Terrifying Epidemic--and How it Changed Science, Cities, and the Modern World (Riverhead, $15, 9781594482694/1594482691), discusses how a map helped pinpoint the source of a cholera epidemic in 1854.

2 p.m. Adam Clymer, author of Drawing the Line at the Big Ditch: The Panama Canal Treaties and the Rise of the Right (University Press of Kansas, $29.95, 9780700615827/0700615822), recounts the history of the Panama Canal Treaties. (Re-airs Saturday, May 17, at 2 p.m.)

6 p.m. Encore Book Notes. For a segment first aired in 1998, Larry Tye, author of The Father of Spin: Edward L. Bernays and The Birth of Public Relations (Holt, $17, 9780805067897/0805067892), talked about the life and career of the man who is considered the founder of the public relations field.

7 p.m. A tribute to Philip Roth at Columbia University's Miller Theater includes panel discussions on the influence of Roth's writing as well as a profile of his career. Following the panels, Roth addresses the audience. (Re-airs Sunday at 1:45 a.m.)

10 p.m. After Words. Winslow Wheeler, director of the Straus Military Reform Project at the Center for Defense Information, interviews Gen. Rupert Smith, author of The Utility of Force: The Art of War in the Modern World (Vintage, $15.95, 9780307278111/0307278115). (Re-airs Sunday at 6 p.m. and 9 p.m., Monday at 12 a.m. and Monday, May 12, at 3 a.m.)

11 p.m. For an event hosted by Elliott Bay Book Company, Seattle, Wash., Daoud Hari, author of The Translator: A Tribesman's Memoir of Darfur (Random House, $23, 9781400067442/1400067448), talks about his experiences as a survivor of a government-backed military attack on his village and later as a translator for aid agencies. (Re-airs Sunday at 3 p.m.)


Book Review

Children's Review: How to Build a House

How to Build a House by Dana Reinhardt (Wendy Lamb Books, $15.99 Hardcover, 9780375844539, May 2008)

Seventeen-year-old Harper Evans, who narrates this moving novel, worries that we are "ruining the planet." She thinks about this as she watches the landscape change through her window on an airplane that carries her from her native Los Angeles to Bailey, Tenn., where a tornado has demolished an entire town and where she will build a house for a family left homeless by the catastrophe. Reinhardt (A Brief Chapter in My Impossible Life) smoothly moves between the outer events Harper observes and her attempts to make sense of the personal challenges she faces ("I know a thing or two about people whose homes have been destroyed"). Gradually we learn that Harper's mother died when she was two, that her father married Jane, a woman who became a loving parent to her at age six, and that Harper also gained a sister and best friend, Tess, in this newfound family. But now Jane and her father are separated, driving a wedge between Harper and Tess. In her confusion, Harper turns to Gabriel, her closest male friend, and their friendship crosses into a sexual-platonic gray area that they never discuss. These flashbacks are triggered by moments in the here and now, as Harper and four others from the Homes from the Heart Summer Program for Teens build a foundation for the house, erect walls, paint them and shingle the roof. And there's one other teen, Teddy Wright. They are building this house for him, for his parents and his twin nine-year-old sisters, who have come to the aid of every other family that stayed in Bailey. The structure of the novel (organized into the major steps involved in erecting a house) at times feels constricting, but the story of Harper's evolution throughout one pivotal summer is fluid and well developed. The author effortlessly integrates Harper's sense of wonder about the earth at key moments; in the leadup to her first romantic encounter with Teddy at dusk on the Fourth of July, for instance, she notices, "At the edges, the sky is the color of a kitten's tongue." The heroine's growing trust in Teddy draws a striking contrast between the somewhat random physical contact she experienced with Gabriel versus sex with Teddy as a mindful expression of companionship and trust. Reinhardt raises provocative questions about the nature of commitment between human beings and the earth--and one another.--Jennifer M. Brown


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