California Here We Come
Because of BookExpo America, we are taking a break from publishing and will return next Monday, June 2. Hope to see you in Los Angeles!
Because of BookExpo America, we are taking a break from publishing and will return next Monday, June 2. Hope to see you in Los Angeles!
Doylestown Bookshop, Doylestown, Pa., celebrates its 10th anniversary this week. The Bucks County Courier Times profiled owners Patricia and Philip Gerney, who have "turned the 8,000-square-foot store--one of the borough's largest retail spaces--into a cozy place where customers can curl up and lose themselves in a good book."
Patricia said that recommendations from their booksellers are among the bestselling books in the store. "Almost all are English majors, and all are bibliophiles," she said. "The reason they applied here is their love of books."
Philip added that the bookstore's personal touch combined with a community that values books helps the store compete. "We have to have the books the people in this community want, not what some corporate center says has to be there. Our main thing is to have the books and deliver the service this community deserves and asks for."
The Denton Record-Chronicle's headline--"300,000 books, 17,000 square feet, and now, 25 years"--nicely summed up its profile of Recycled Books Records CDs, Denton, Tex., "one of the last independent used bookstores in the Dallas-Fort Worth area."
According to owner Don Foster, his staff's knowledge plays a key role in the success of his business: "I defer to them. It's great to have people who you can trust and who will give good service."
"I think that each book has its own soul; they know how much I love them," bookseller Phan Trac Canh told Viet Nam News, adding that during his student years, his book obsession was a challenge. "I skipped breakfast so I could use the money to buy books. I sometimes even rummaged through rubbish bins looking for books."
Canh said that dedicated readers and customers like Japanese professor Yao Takao "encourage me to continue my collecting. I'm happy to become good friends with them and share their passion for reading."
Takao warned that the popular bookseller will not be permitted to retire or die young: "Canh has to live a long life so he can protect books and find an heir to carry on his noble work. . . . A good book-collector must love books more than money and have a deep knowledge about them. But it’s not just up to the collector. Books have a life of their own and choose their owners. If you truly love books, the books you really want will find you."
NPR recommended "nine first books that make a lasting impression," noting that "while there's definite comfort to be had in the familiar, sometimes what you really want is the spark and thrill of a chance encounter--that's where first books come in."
A summer reading guide from the Wall Street Journal included the observation that the "$28 billion book industry faces challenges in a sluggish economy. Bookstore sales in the first quarter totaled $4.46 billion, a 5.1% increase over the comparable period in 2007, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. But this week Barnes & Noble lowered its sales forecast for the year."
"There are people who believe that books are recession-proof," said Stan Hynds, head buyer, Northshire Bookstore, Manchester Center, Vt. "We're going to find out."
In a departure from the media's summer reading picks frenzy, the Christian Science Monitor featured autumn book suggestions: "If you're a fashionista, you’re already thinking about the fall fashions. And if you're a book editor, like me, you're already excited about your fall reading list."
While books like Sophie Kinsella's Shopaholic series and Lauren Weisberger's The Devil Wears Prada have been popular among Korean women readers, the Korea Times reported that homegrown chick lit novels are not only gaining wide readership, but also being adapted for Korean television, with the drama My Sweet Seoul, based on a novel by Jeong Yi-hyun, premiering in early June.
Sales at Borders group in the first quarter ended May 3 fell 1% to $784.7 million, and the net loss was $31.7 million, up slightly from $29.1 million in the same period a year ago.
Sales at Borders U.S. superstores open at least a year fell 4.1%; excluding music, sales would have fallen 1.7%. The company called book sales "relatively stable considering the overall consumer environment, declining by just 1.2% on a same-store sales basis." The strongest categories were bargain books, children's, Seattle's Best Coffee cafes and gifts and stationery, driven by Paperchase. Music sales fell 25.8%, and the company has reduced inventory and floor space in music.
At Waldenbooks specialty retail, which includes Borders Express stores, comp-store sales fell 0.8%. Sales at international stores open at least a year rose 3.1%.
"As was the case with nearly every other retailer, the challenging overall consumer environment hampered sales performance in the first quarter," CEO George Jones said in a statement. "I am pleased, however, that even within this difficult retail climate, we were able to manage inventory well, begin to aggressively reduce expenses, and end the quarter with better bottom line results than would have been expected in this type of environment."
Jones said that Borders has "worked with a third party advisor to develop a plan to reduce our annual operating expenses by $120 million, giving Borders a new, more effective base operating model going forward. We expect to realize about half of these savings within the current fiscal year and the full amount in 2009. We also substantially improved cash flow and reduced debt in the first quarter--both of which are critical factors in achieving our long term financial goals."
Jones reported, too, that Borders has "seen an improvement in sales in recent weeks." Still the company intends "to aggressively execute expense reductions and manage our business conservatively, putting us in a much better position for long term success."
Today on NPR's Fresh Air: Bob Morris, author of Assisted Loving: True Tales of Double Dating with My Dad (Harper, $24.95, 9780061374128/0061374121)
Tonight on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart: Fred Burton, author of Ghost: Confessions of a Counterterrorism Agent (Random House, $26, 9781400065691/1400065690)
Tomorrow on KCRW's Bookworm: Clayton Eshleman, author of An Alchemist with One Eye on Fire (Black Widow Press, $15.95, 9780976844952/0976844958). As the show described it: "When the Bookworm explains that reading Eshleman's intense and visceral work brings up initial feelings of disgust, Eschleman responds that his poetry is a matter of initiation and transformation. He apprenticed himself to Peruvian poet Cesar Vallejo, and describes his own relationship to Vallejo as a journey from horror to mastery."
Tomorrow on the Diane Rehm Show: Elinor Burkett, author of Golda (Harper, $27.95, 9780060786656/0060786655), a biography of Golda Meir.
Tomorrow on NPR's Fresh Air: Richard A. Clarke, author of Your Government Failed You: Breaking the Cycle of National Security Disasters (Ecco, $25.95, 9780061474620/0061474622). He will also appear tomorrow night on the Daily Show.
Tomorrow night on the Colbert Report: David Sirota, author of The Uprising: An Unauthorized Tour of the Populist Revolt Scaring Wall Street and Washington (Crown, $25.95, 9780307395634/0307395634).
Friday on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart: Scott McClellan, author of What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington's Culture of Deception (PublicAffairs, $27.95, 9781586485566/1586485563)
On Saturday on NPR's Marketplace: Allan M. Brandt, author of The Cigarette Century: The Rise, Fall, and Deadly Persistence of the Product That Defined America (Basic Books, $36, 9780465070473/0465070477).
On Saturday on NPR's Weekend Edition: Mickey Rapkin, author of Pitch Perfect: The Quest for Collegiate A Cappella Glory (Gotham, $26, 9781592403769/159240376X).
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 31
6 p.m. Encore Book Notes. For a segment first aired in 1997, Katharine Graham, author Personal History (Vintage, $15.95, 9780375701047/0375701044), discussed her life and her tenure as publisher, CEO and chairman of the board with the Washington Post Company.
10 p.m. After Words. Tony Capaccio, Pentagon correspondent for Bloomberg News, interviews Mary Tillman, author of Boots on the Ground By Dusk: My Tribute to Pat Tillman (Modern Times, $25.95, 9781594868801/1594868808), who talks about her son's death in Afghanistan and the cover-up that surrounded it. (Re-airs Sunday 6 p.m. and 9 p.m., Monday at 3 a.m. and Sunday, June 8, at 10 a.m.)
11 p.m. Author and columnist Thomas Friedman delivers the keynote address at BookExpo America in Los Angeles.
Sunday, June 1
12 p.m. In Depth. Author and Catholic theologian George Weigel, whose most recent book is Against the Grain: Christianity and Democracy, War and Peace (Crossroad Publishing, $24.95, 9780824524487/0824524489), joins BookTV for a live interview. Viewers can participate in the discussion by calling in during the program or e-mailing questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. (Re-airs Monday at 12 a.m. and Saturday, June 7, at 8 a.m.)
10 p.m. From BookExpo America, an author panel featuring Michael Moore, Jon Krakauer, Richard Engel, Markos Moulitsas Zuniga and Christopher Buckley.
Will Self's novel The Butt was officially awarded the Wodehouse prize for comic fiction at the Hay Festival, though, as the Guardian reported, the suspense had been over since the shortlist was announced last month: "Keen-eyed readers of the programme for this year's Hay festival--published on the same day as a Wodehouse shortlist that included Self, Alan Bennett and Garrison Keillor--will have noticed Self described as the 'winner of the 2008 Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse prize for comic fiction.'"
Festival press officer Hannah Lort-Phillips admitted that the program "gave away a little more than we had meant to. Accidents happen, but we're delighted Will Self has won."
Selected titles appearing next Tuesday, June 3:
When You Are Engulfed in Flames by David Sedaris (Little, Brown, $25.99, 9780316143479/0316143472) is a collection of humorous essays.
Me of Little Faith by Lewis Black (Riverhead, $24.95, 9781594489945/1594489947) shines a scathing yet comic light on the many inconsistencies of religion.
Plague Ship (Oregon Files) by Clive Cussler (Putnam, $26.95, 9780399154973/0399154973) is the fifth in the series about the covert ship Oregon.
Death and Honor by W.E.B. Griffin and William E. Butterworth IV (Putnam, $26.95, 9780399154980/0399154981) is the newest in the Honor Bound series, a saga of World War II spying in Germany and Argentina.
The Other by David Guterson (Knopf, $24.95, 9780307263155/0307263150) follows the different life choices of two Seattle friends.
Touching History: The Untold Story of the Drama That Unfolded in the Skies Over America on 9/11 by Lynn Spencer (Free Press, $26, 9781416559252/1416559256) chronicles the military and civil aviation response on the morning of September 11.
Resolution by Robert B. Parker (Putnam, $25.95, 9780399155048/039915504X) chronicles a land conflict in a fledgling Old West town.
The Spies of Warsaw: A Novel by Alan Furst (Random House, $25, 9781400066025/1400066026) examines an intricate game of espionage in 1937 Warsaw.
Nothing to Lose by Lee Child (Delacorte Press, $27, 9780385340564/0385340567) explores a deadly conflict between two Colorado towns.
Mistress of the Sun: A Novel by Sandra Gulland (Touchstone, $26, 9780743298872/074329887X) tells the story of King Louis XIV's first mistress.
Promise of the Wolves by Dorothy Hearst (S&S, $25, 9781416569985/1416569987) follows a wolf pack living 14,000 years ago.
Letters to a Young Sister: DeFINE Your Destiny by Hill Harper (Gotham, $22.50, 9781592403516/1592403514) gives advice on social issues for young girls.
Champions Body-for-LIFE by Art Carey (Collins, $26.95, 9780061431371/0061431370) gives fitness and nutrition advice for weight loss.
New in paperback next week:
Lover Enshrined (Black Dagger Brotherhood, Book 6) by J.R. Ward (Signet, $7.99, 9780451222725/0451222725).
Tom Rusch started hanging out at the library in the small town he grew up in, then got a job in the library while he was in college. As a conscientious objector during the Vietnam War, he worked for the Lutheran Student Center at the University of Minnesota to fulfill his two-year "military" obligation and also worked at an independent bookstore, where he stayed 10 years. He became a sales rep for S&S in Minnesota, Wisconsin and North and South Dakota; then he moved to Boston and worked for Houghton Mifflin in its Boston offices. He liked the road better than an office, so moved to Southern California for Morrow and then Little, Brown. Currently he does sales and marketing for Los Angeles publisher Silman-James Press and sells commission lines with Frank McCormick and Associates. Over the years he's accumulated about 10,000 books. At first he thought he'd be able to read them, then decided he'd better say he's a "collectible book dealer" to account for the quantity, and now sells collectible books as Monroe Stahr Books. Here he pauses from selling and sorting to answer questions we ask of book people.
On your nightstand now:
White Dog by Peter Temple. Set in Melbourne, Australia, this is the fourth in a series featuring a part-time lawyer, Jack Irish, who between betting on fixed horse races and doing some woodwork gets involved in solving crimes. Along with English author John Lawton, my current mystery author favorite.
This weekend I started reading Suze Rotolo's A Freewheelin' Time. As a Dylan fan, I had to hear her side of the relationship when he was just getting established in Greenwich Village.
Favorite book when you were a child:
The first book I remember is the Golden Books edition of The Little Engine That Could, read to me by my mother. In retrospect, an appropriate story to be read by my mother, a child of the Depression.
Your top five authors:
Edward Whittemore. A novelist whose books I try to reread every few years. His Jerusalem Quartet has a bit of magical realism, and I think gives a worthwhile insight to the reality of the current problems in the Middle East.
Dick Francis. His books are wonderful entertainment. And if I'd have to rationalize my enjoyment, I would say that Francis refracts the issues of the world at large through his smaller world of horse racing.
Nicolas Freeling. While writing in the crime/thriller field, Freeling gives a fascinating look into what was happening in Europe from the '60s through the end of the '90s.
Carroll and Garrett Graham. This duo wrote only a few novels, and my favorite is Queer People. Set in 1930s Hollywood, it gives a fascinating and original look at why many people wound up in the movies--not because they wanted to be stars, but because they were restless and had left their homes in small town America and were looking for a place that was compatible with their yearnings.
Michael Connelly. Having worked as a sales representative for a number of New York publishers, it's always fulfilling to read a first novel that strikes you as both revelatory and entertaining. For me Connelly's first novel, The Black Echo, was just such a book. And with each succeeding title, Connelly has built upon that initial exposition.
Book you've faked reading:
Proust's Rememberance of Things Past.
Book you are an evangelist for:
Edward Whittemore's Jerusalem Quartet and Queer People. And recently John Lawton's novels featuring the character Frederick Troy.
Book you've bought for the cover:
Most of my purchases are based on reviews I've read, but I have found myself picking up used books with suggestive Hollywood covers, including some '70s smut, and books that feature a Buddha on the cover.
Book that changed your life:
Although I haven't read it for years, I had a religious upbringing, and reading the Bible was enlightening in my adolescence. While I got the black-and-white version of life in Sunday School and church, reading the Bible told me that there was a lot of gray in the world.
Favorite line from a book:
"There was a desert wind blowing that night. It was one of those hot dry Santa Anas that come down through the mountain passes and curl your hair and make your nerves jump and your skin itch. On nights like that every booze party ends in a fight. Meek little wives feel the edge of the carving knife and study their husbands' necks. Anything can happen. You can even get a full glass of beer at a cocktail lounge."--Raymond Chandler in Red Wind.
Book you most want to read again for the first time:
Probably Jack Kerouac's On the Road. A restless small town guy wants to investigate the larger world and drives across the United States. Who can't relate to that?
What would you like to see American publishers do more of:
While I admit a bias towards reading American authors, I'm always pleased when I encounter a writer from another country who can transport me or expand my thinking. One Hundred Years of Solitude was one of those books, when I read it during the '70s as an Avon paperback; Avon's whole series of Latin American/Spanish novels back then was wonderful.
More recently publishers have issued translations of mysteries from places like Norway, Sweden, Russia and Japan. While not all of them have been to my taste, I love the opportunity to see what non-English speaking writers have to say about life and love, anxiety and joy. The mystery genre is one I frequent, and it's fascinating to see how authors in other countries rebuild and recharge it.
Judgment Day: A Mike Daley Mystery by Sheldon Siegel (MacAdam/Cage Publishing, $26.00 Hardcover, 9781596922907, May 2008)