Shelf Awareness for Thursday, May 15, 2008

Atria Books: In Five Years by Rebecca Serle

Magination Press: Bee Heartful: Spread Loving-Kindness by Frank J Sileo, illustrated by Claire Keay

Dundurn Group: Never Forget: A Victor Lessard Thriller (A Victor Lessard Thriller #1) by Martin Michaud

Flatiron Books: Miss Austen by Gill Hornby

St. Martin's Press: Mind Over Weight: Curb Cravings, Find Motivation, and Hit Your Number in 7 Simple Steps by Ian K. Smith


Notes: Borders Cuts; Bookworm Helps in Earthquake Relief

Eight people at the "director and v-p level" at Borders Group were let go on Tuesday. Sources indicated that longtime buyers Beryl Needham and Tom Dwyer are gone, and Rob Teicher is leaving, although he reportedly was in the process of retiring. 

Other affected areas apparently include planning, finance and benefits.


The Bookworm, which operates several English-language library/bookstores in China, reports that the staff at the company's Chengdu branch, near the epicenter of Monday's earthquake, is safe.

The Bookworm is "co-ordinating our efforts to help the people of Sichuan during this difficult time," the store said. "The Bookworm Chengdu has become a focal point in assisting those groups currently providing on the ground support for those in Sichuan affected by the tragedy."

Bookworm stores in Beijing and Suzhou as well as the Chengdu store are "gathering much needed emergency materials to be sent to victims."

Bookworm's first store opened in Beijing in 2004. The Chengdu branch opened two years later and stocks some 5,000 volumes in several languages, including English and Chinese, has a café and restaurant and sponsors many literary events and author talks.


Describing the Red Balloon Book Shop, St. Paul, Minn., as "an independent bookstore for the child in all of us," the Twin Cities Daily Planet profiled the shop and its owners, Carol Erdahl and Michele Cromer-Poiré.

The article particularly noted the Red Balloon's events for young readers and homey atomosphers, as well as its experienced staff.

"We have teachers and librarians on staff," Cromer-Poiré said. "The cumulative knowledge of the people who work here is tremendous."

Erdahl told the paper that one of the reasons for the bookshop's success is that it fills a need in the community. "We are a niche store. Being a specialty in children's books we have more titles than any Barnes & Noble. We try to make intelligent and caring choices about the books we carry."


Bloomberg offered a "roundup of the scariest financial books on the market. It's gloom-and-doom season for purveyors of financial books, so pull out a can of beans from your ammo case in the bomb shelter and warm it up. You're going to need some nourishment."


What is the defining issue of digital publishing? If you answered "search," give yourself a virtual prize. Reporting on the adjustments magazine and book publishers are making in an increasingly digitized environment, the Guardian reported search "is as critical to the success of an online publication as WH Smith is to magazine retailers, and it represents the task-oriented nature of the web, very different from the laid-back, packaged gloss of magazine publishing."

The Guardian added that, according to Daniel Heaf, outgoing director of digital ventures at BBC Worldwide, "the problem of realising search's potential is still only 5% solved." In addition, he "cited mobile as another area of enormous opportunity for publishers and one that most have so far largely ignored. For the BBC's Lonely Planet titles, the potential is a new incarnation that is always on, up-to-date, portable and location-sensitive."



New World Library: We Are the Luckiest: The Surprising Magic of a Sober Life by Laura McKowen

Weisburg to Lead Penguin Children's; Whiteman Promoted

Effective next Monday, Don Weisberg, formerly executive v-p and COO North America at Random House, has been appointed president of the Penguin Young Readers Group. At the same time, Doug Whiteman, president of the Penguin Young Readers Group, takes on a new role as executive v-p of business operations, Penguin Group (USA).

Weisberg, who worked closely with the editorial and marketing departments at Random House as well as with booksellers and wholesalers nationwide, also supervised the integration of the Bantam Doubleday Dell and Random House sales divisions. Weisberg is bringing on board Barbara Marcus as strategic advisor for Penguin Young Readers Group. Marcus, who spent 22 years at Scholastic, most recently as president of children's book publishing and distribution and executive v-p, oversaw the publication of six out of seven Harry Potter books as well as the growth of the Scholastic Book Clubs and Book Fairs.

Whiteman will be responsible for working closely with Penguin Group CEO David Shanks on "overall business strategy for the corporation, including identifying growth opportunities in such areas as technology and emerging markets [as well as] working on global initiatives with Nigel Portwood, who was recently appointed executive vice president, global operations for Penguin Group."


GLOW: St. Martin's Press: The New Husband by D.J. Palmer

Juneau Unplugged: Electric Bill Jolt

The following appeared first in Footnotes, the monthly newsletter of the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association, which has kindly allowed us to print it in its entirey:

Hearthside Books in Juneau, Alaska, is looking at a 500% increase in electric bills for its two stores for the next several months. An avalanche that struck 40 miles south of Juneau in mid-April wiped out several power line towers running to the city from a hydroelectric dam. Local generators are now powering the city with diesel.  

"Our entire city is cutting back so when you walk into our malls, grocery stores, Home Depot here, it's pretty dim," says Hearthside co-owner Susan Hickey. "We are all running around unplugging every printer, phone charger, toothbrush charger . . . It's pretty scary--a look at our future. It's shocking how lazy everyone has become when it comes to even turning off computers at the end of the day!"

Sunday, the local paper, the Juneau Empire, published a column by a Juneau woman who asked her father to send her clothespins. He sent about 2,000 so that she could give them to her friends who are drying clothes in their garages. Apparently, there's been a clothespin shortage since the avalanche. "Not many people have the habit of drying things outdoors here," says Hickey. "A bit rainy for that."

Hickey was quick to put the events in perspective. "In the face of the latest tornados in the southeastern USA and the horrific earthquake in China, we're doing fine," she says.--Jamie Passaro


Dutton Books: The Girl with the Louding Voice by Abi Dare

After 38-Year Run, Paperbacks Plus to Close

Sad news from the Bronx, N.Y. Paperbacks Plus, which owner Fern Jaffe founded in the Riverdale section in 1970, is closing in four to six weeks.

"I'm really ready to retire," Jaffe told Shelf Awareness. "But I intend to stay involved in the book industry as best I can. I'm not closing my accounts, and I can do off-site bookselling."

Jaffe is open to selling the store, emphasizing that "the sign outside says 'Regretfully we announce the closing of Paperbacks Plus. Everything is for sale, even the store.' "

In a letter, the store thanked customers for making "the bookstore a wonderful and vibrant place, joining us for chats about your favorite books and special events . . . We have celebrated local authors well known and unheralded. As muggles we embraced Harry Potter and his perilous quest, and banded together defiantly to observe Banned Book Week each year. As children you delighted in our costumed story time characters and over time even brought your own children to marvel and listen. Generations have grown up among our shelves and developed a lifelong habit of reading."

Jaffe, who owns the building the store is in, said that she feels bad for her customers--there is no other general independent bookstore in the Bronx. "Riverdale is a lovely community, literate, affluent and quite beautiful," she added.

One of our favorite feisty booksellers--among many!--Jaffe has been deeply involved in the industry. She has served on the boards of the American Booksellers Association and the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression. She was the first president of the New Atlantic Independent Booksellers Association, formed when two smaller regionals merged, and earlier had been president of the New York/New Jersey Booksellers Association. She was the person who announced at its first meeting that NAIBA would be pronounced "nay-buh as in 'good neighba.' "

"I have no regrets," she said. "I've met so many wonderful people in this business. It's been a passionate part of my life."--John Mutter


Soho Teen: Me and Mr. Cigar by Gibby Haynes

Media and Movies

Movies: Literary Opener for Cannes Film Festival

Blindness, described by Reuters as "a grim Brazilian drama about society's descent into anarchy," launched the Cannes Film Festival yesterday, marking "a somber start to 12 days of movies, publicity stunts and late-night revelry in the Riviera town."

Brazil's Fernando Meirelles, perhaps best known for City of God, directed the English-language adaptation of Portuguese Nobel prize-winning author Jose Saramago's novel about a plague of white blindness. Reuters also noted that Julianne Moore plays "a doctor's wife, who, like the film's audience, sees death, cruelty, degradation as well as dignity around her."

The party is on.


G.P. Putnam's Sons: Firewatching by Russ Thomas

Media Heat: Victor Wooten Talks and Plays and Listens

Today on the Writer's Roundtable, hosted by Antoinette Kuritz: author Harlan Coben will talk about creating extraordinary stories around ordinary people. Tune in at or


Starting today on WETA's Author, Author!: an interview with Susan Coll, author of Acceptance (Picador, $14, 9780312426965/0312426968).


Tonight on the Charlie Rose Show: Robert Kagan, author of The Return of History and the End of Dreams (Knopf, $19.95, 9780307269232/030726923X).


Tomorrow on the Bob Edwards Show on XMPR: a one-hour interview with Victor Wooten, author of The Music Lesson: A Spiritual Search for Growth Through Music (Berkley, $15, 9780425220931/0425220931). Wooten will also play bass, and listeners will hear parts of his new CD, Palmystery. The show runs, too, on many NPR stations on Saturday and Sunday.


Starting today on WETA's Author, Author!: an interview with Susan Coll, author of Acceptance (Picador, $14, 9780312426965/0312426968).


Tomorrow morning on Good Morning America: Elissa Wall, author of Stolen Innocence: My Story of Growing Up in a Polygamous Sect, Becoming a Teenage Bride, and Breaking Free of Warren Jeffs (Morrow, $25.95, 9780061628016/0061628018). She will also appear tomorrow night on 20/20.


Tomorrow on NPR's All Things Considered: Senator Jim Webb, author of A Time to Fight: Reclaiming a Fair and Just America (Broadway, $24.95, 9780767928359/0767928350). He also appears on Sunday on Meet the Press.



This Weekend on Book TV: Schroeder Interviews Cokie Roberts

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 17

12 p.m. For an event hosted by Olsson's Books & Records, Washington, D.C., Michael Meyerson, author of Liberty's Blueprint: How Madison and Hamilton Wrote the Federalist Papers, Defined the Constitution, and Made Democracy Safe for the World (Basic Books, $26.95, 9780465002641/0465002641), recounts the writing of The Federalist Papers.
6 p.m. Encore Book Notes. For a segment first aired in 2004, John McCaslin, author of Inside The Beltway: Offbeat Stories, Scoops, and Shenanigans from Around the Nation's Capital (Thomas Nelson, $24.99, 9780785261919/0785261915), shared some of the stories collected from his "Inside the Beltway" columns for the Washington Times and Chicago Tribune.

7 p.m. Rachel Corrie, author of Let Me Stand Alone: The Journals of Rachel Corrie (Norton, $23.95, 9780393065718/0393065715), was killed in the Gaza Strip on March 16, 2003 while trying to block an Israeli bulldozer from demolishing the house of a Palestinian family. Her parents and colleagues read selections from her book. (Re-airs Sunday at 2 a.m.)

9 p.m. Iain Murray, author of The Really Inconvenient Truths: Seven Environmental Catastrophes Liberals Don't Want You to Know About--Because They Helped Cause Them (Regnery, $27.95, 9781596980549/1596980540), contends that liberal environmentalists have often harmed the environment and covered this up. (Re-airs Sunday at 1 p.m. and Monday at 7 a.m.)

10 p.m. After Words: Pat Schroeder, CEO of the Association of American Publishers, interviews Cokie Roberts, author of Ladies of Liberty: The Women Who Shaped Our Nation (Morrow, $26.95, 9780060782344/006078234X). (Re-airs Sunday at 6 p.m. and 9 p.m., Monday at 12 a.m. and 3 a.m., and Sunday, May 25, at 12 p.m.)
11 p.m. Senator Chuck Hagel, author of America: Our Next Chapter (Ecco, $25.95, 9780061436963/0061436968), examines America's position in the world and its future from an economic and environmental perspective. (Re-airs Sunday at 4 p.m.)
Sunday, May 18

12 a.m. Rajmohan Gandhi, author of Gandhi: The Man, His People, and the Empire (University of California Press, $34.95, 978-0520255708/0520255704), talks about his grandfather, Mohandas K. Gandhi. (Re-airs Sunday at 6 a.m., Saturday, May 31, at 5 p.m. and Sunday, June 1, at 7 p.m.)


Books & Authors

Children's Book Review: Thoreau at Walden

Thoreau at Walden by John Porcellino (Hyperion/The Center for Cartoon Studies, $16.99 hardcover, 9781423100386/1423100387, $9.99 paperback, 9781423100393/1423100395, 112 pp., ages 9-12, May)
Henry David Thoreau's ideas seem particularly relevant at a time when "going green" and "sustainability" are part of the national discourse. From March 1845 to September 1847, Thoreau recorded journal entries that were eventually published as Walden; or, Life in the Woods. He built a 10' x 15' house with a bed, table, desk, three chairs, a fireplace for cooking and keeping warm, and a lantern by which he read and wrote. If you've read Walden, you know all this already. And you may well know the quotations that Porcellino selects, which come not only from Thoreau's "experiment in living," but also from his other essays (he touches on the jail episode that led to writing "Civil Disobedience," for instance). Porcellino arranges these by season, constructing one year on Walden Pond. Just as Thoreau took complex ideas and framed them in simple phrases that everyone could understand, Porcellino uses deceptively simple strokes of the pen to convey some very complex ideas. Over his pen-and-inks, Porcellino uses a wash in the same color as the "light and sandy soil" in which Thoreau planted his five-and-a-half acres of vegetables. And in this inspired graphic-novel treatment, Porcellino also is able to chronicle the silences on Walden Pond--those awe-inspiring moments that can occur only when one communes with nature utterly alone.
The book begins with Thoreau's mile-long trek from his house to the town center. In the initial panels, Thoreau is the sole figure; these images give way to a bustling square surrounded by buildings and populated by townsfolk. As the people look on quizzically, Thoreau's thought balloon reveals his observations: "The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation." The desperation shows on their faces in the form of stubble and worry lines, or fear (in the case of the illustration for "Trying to get into business and trying to get out of debt"). Thoreau looks genuinely relieved to return to his humble dwelling. One can almost hear the quiet. The opening to winter features two half-page panels and a full-page panel, opposite, depicting a snowfall on the pond, in the woods and the field surrounding Thoreau's cabin. Porcellino thus emulates the silent wonder of the first snow. In another series of panels, which unspools over three pages, Porcellino shows Thoreau as he enters the woods, spots an owl at rest, and his "cronch!" in the snow alarms the creature; then both man and bird, comfortable in each other's presence, fall asleep. The spring finds Thoreau floating in a boat in the middle of Walden Pond; the panels vary in size to demonstrate the body of water's scope and glory: "A lake is the landscape's most beautiful feature. . . It is Earth's eye / looking into which the beholder measures the depths of his own nature." By giving Walden Pond this weight and moment, Porcellino allows us to take in the double-meaning--that while we behold it, all of nature seems to be in our possession, but at the same time, while in contemplation of nature, we also look deep within ourselves. This inviting compendium is certain to send readers scurrying for Thoreau's original writings and, thanks to a detailed list of the quotations' sources, they will know just where to go.--Jennifer M. Brown


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