Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Little Brown and Company: Wolf at the Table by Adam Rapp

Tor Nightfire: Ghost Station by S.A. Barnes

Severn River Publishing: Covert Action (Command and Control #5) by J.R. Olson and David Bruns

Scholastic Press: Heroes: A Novel of Pearl Harbor by Alan Gratz

Flatiron Books: Anita de Monte Laughs Last by Xochitl Gonzalez

Peachtree Publishers: King & Kayla and the Case of the Downstairs Ghost (King & Kayla) by Dori Hillestad Butler, illustrated by Nancy Meyers


Notes: Oasis Finds New Oasis; Gojaba Goes to Brazil

"Thanks to all the wonderful community support during our first two months in business," Jennifer and Kevin Coffee, whose Oasis Books sells used and new books, comics, toys and gifts "for the kid in all of us" (Shelf Awareness, April 9, 2008), are moving and expanding on July 1. Currently in the back room of Cannon Mine Coffee, the store will move to a spot between the Inspired Cottage and the soon-to-open Lafayette Art Market at 401 S. Public Rd., #3, Lafayette, Colo. 80026. Oasis Books's grand opening is set for the Fourth of July. For more information, contact or 303-665-9090.

---, launched in February in Russia and Sweden as a "no-frills, low-cost, subscription-only" version of parent company, is expanding to Brazil. In Brazil, booksellers will be able to list up to 50,000 books for sale for about $10 a month, and sellers are not charged a commission on sales. The company commented: "Brazil, the world's fifth most populous nation, has a young tech-savvy population of more than 180 million that has already embraced Internet retailing. There is a strong book culture and demand for used and collectible books."

After four months, Gojaba (not to be confused with the frequent Yankee Stadium chant, "Go, Joba!") offers more than 500,000 books from more than 130 booksellers in 16 countries. Gojaba expects to expand into Poland later this year.


Joan Gelfand has been named president of the Women's National Book Association. A writer whose poetry collection Seeking Center was published last year by Two Bridges Press, she is past president of WNBA's San Francisco chapter and has been on the national board for four years.

Joining Gelfand on the board are vice president Mary Grey James, lead buyer for Ingram; treasurer Margaret Auer, Dean, University Libraries/Instructional Design Studio, University of Detroit Mercy; and secretary Ruth Light, a Los Angeles teachers writer.


"Do your upfront analysis about whether there is actually a business opportunity very diligently. Then when you decide to go for it, really go for it," Nicola Rooney, co-owner of Nicola's Books, told the Ann Arbor News in a recent "My Business" profile in which she was asked for advice to people considering starting a business.

She added that the "main challenge facing the book business is there are so many other calls for people's time now. . . . With all the electronics out there, there are so many other things people can be doing other than reading."

Rooney also was up to the challenge of offering her thoughts on how she would like to change the world: "I'd like to get people to consider the bigger consequences of the decisions they make as consumers," she said. "[T]he more the smaller, independent businesses disappear, the fewer choices that are available. If you really think darkly about it, it could be downright dangerous for the freedom of speech."



University of California Press: The Accidental Ecosystem: People and Wildlife in American Cities by Peter S. Alagona

AAP Book Sales: April Chill

Net sales of books in April fell 3.5% to $472.7 million, based on data from 79 publishers as reported to the Association of American Publishers. For the year to date, net sales of books were $2.183 billion, unchanged from the same period last year.

Stronger categories:

  • E-books rose 19.9% (with sales of $3.4 million).
  • University press hardcovers rose 12.1% ($5.6 million).
  • Adult mass market rose 4.7% ($53.2 million).
  • Adult paperbacks sales rose 4.5% ($118.3 million).
  • Audiobooks rose 1.7% ($12.6 million).

Weaker categories:

  • University press paperbacks dropped 2% ($2.7 million).
  • Children's/YA paperbacks dropped 3.1% ($39.3 million).
  • Adult hardcovers were down 4.6% ($110 million).
  • Children's/YA hardcovers fell 19.9% ($39 million).
  • Religious books decreased 21.5% ($34.2 million).
  • Higher Ed was down 30.5% ($8 million).


Image of the Day: State of State by State

Two weeks ago, 18 of the 50 writers who are each contributing a piece about one of the states for State by State: A Panoramic Portrait of America edited by Matt Weiland and Sean Wilsey, to be published by Ecco in September, convened in New York City to be filmed for Out of the Book's next movie, which will be based on State by State. At the American Legion Post in Harlem in New York City, the writers engaged in what producer-auteur Dave Weich of Powell's called "a long day of interviews, readings, eating, drinking, goofing around, and lively conversation. A bit crazy but a whole lot of fun." In the photo above are two of the authors (and a shadowy directing arm?): Daphne Beal (who wrote about Wisconsin) and Charles Bock (Nevada). Weich reports that so far, more than 30 bookstores have registered to put on an event featuring the movie State by State, including some stores that have not previously done so. The Out of the Book crew is aiming for 80-100 events, which will take place September 16-November 2, just as the presidential campaign goes into high gear. For more photos, click here. Full a list of participating authors and information for bookstores interested in hosting a screening, click here


BEA: Gen Z Readers' Impact on Books, Booksellers

"If publishers don't adapt, we'll die," said David Levithan, YA author and editorial director at Scholastic. "In the music industry, teens changed everything. We can choose to be scared, intimidated or deny it, or we can be excited about it."

That was the theme of the BEA panel "The Gen Z Reader: Understanding the New Reader of the Post-Electronic Age," moderated by Kristen McLean, executive director of the Association of Booksellers for Children. Panelists seemed to have accepted that premise and want to meet the challenges raised by a tech-savvy generation hungry for information and entertainment.

Anastasia Goodstein, founder of Ypulse, said that teens now have "the expectation to get things instantly." She contrasted the look of Seventeen magazine a generation ago, "when it had articles--now it looks like a graphic novel." Goodstein and Ms. Charlie Schroder, Candlewick's v-p of marketing and development, both emphasized the widespread opportunity young people now have to "participate" in stories, thanks to video games and virtual reality. Schroder went on to emphasize that where tweens and teens hit their passions, publishers will also find distribution channels.

Clique series author Lisi Harrison called authenticity the crucial element for teens. So long as readers feel the reading or listening or playing experience is authentic, they will engage. "Authenticity resonates with readers, and they need to feel that resonance," Harrison said. McLean translated the implications of that statement for the industry: the distinctions that matter to the industry do not matter to teens. Whether a format is hardcover or paperback, for instance, is "irrelevant" to them, she said. But this can cause anxiety among booksellers who have often placed the "book as object" above all else. "How will our model mesh with consumer demand?" she asked.

Schroder said booksellers and publishers alike must participate in the solutions: "We need to look at returns and how we sell books." She also mentioned enhanced print-on-demand and "browsing" experiences of books online. Tim Ditlow, publisher of Brilliance Audio, would like to see publishers open up content so that teens could create the audiobook equivalent of "mixed tapes," just as teens once created cassette tapes of favorite songs. "If someone really loved a YA author's work, wouldn't it be great to take a section of a novel, a chapter or 3-5 pages of a scene they enjoyed, and mix it in with their own soundtrack?" he stated.

Levithan posited that the technology will drive these shifts: "The moment you can read a book on iPhone, everything will change." He drew a parallel with the way that MP3 technology changed the music industry. Ditlow told the audience that he will try an experiment this fall with John Green's third novel, Paper Towns. On October 16, Ditlow will make available seven platforms for the audiobook, including CD, MP3, Audible, Overdrive and Playaway. In a follow-up conversation, he explained, "It's sort of a test, because there's a lingering feeling that a cannibalization goes on, and I don't believe that. I believe that each has its own demographics. [With YAs,] you have to get them where they live and breathe. They're downloading at the library, at home from the Web--the more channels the merrier."

McLean posed the larger question facing booksellers: "How do we serve this customer? The retail experience will be different, and retailers as well as publishers must change." Schroder said there was a greater opportunity for booksellers to play an important role with parents and readers in an increasingly sophisticated network of information. "The curatorial voice is more important," she said. "The bookstore being embedded in the community and having an understanding of the community gives you an edge." Levithan also saw a crucial role for independents: "The market won't shrink," he said. "The stores that survive are the independents. Tower [Records] went under, but the indies remain--that's what happened in the music business." Goodstein saw booksellers filling the teens' need for spaces they can go and connect with their peers: "The manga sections are crawling with teens. We have to create a space where teens can go and hang out," she said. Goodstein cited Abercrombie and Fitch as a store that creates an experience for teens; Harrison said her most successful signings were those in bookstores where the mood "feels like the atmosphere of the book you're there for." Other panelists chimed in with Starbucks and Niketown as examples, and Harrison, continuing the music analogy, pointed out that teens "still love concerts."

McLean called this a trend toward "experience retailing" and said that independents are uniquely poised to take advantage of it. "Independents can be nimble, and they have the opportunity to create an experience that can't be replicated, and to let their communities lead them."--Jennifer M. Brown


Media and Movies

Lifetime Movie: The Tenth Circle

An original movie based on The Tenth Circle by Jodi Picoult has its premiere at 9 p.m. this coming Saturday, June 28, on the Lifetime channel. The movie stars Kelly Preston, Britt Robertson and Ron Eldard; the book is available from Washington Square Press ($15, 9780743496711/074349671X).

As Lifetime describes it, "The Stone family's seemingly idyllic lives are shattered when their daughter, Trixie, is the victim of a date rape. But there are holes in Trixie's story, and when another violent crime occurs that may be linked to the rapist, the entire Stone family finds themselves under suspicion. Can they all survive the truth and make it out of their personal circle of hell?"

Check out Lifetime's website for more information, including an interview with Picoult and the stars of the movie, a look at the graphic novel featured in the book--character Daniel Stone is a graphic novelist--and a preview of Picoult's next book, Handle with Care.


Media Heat: Betsy Burton on the King's English

Today on Good Morning America: Dr. Thomas Graboys, author of Life in the Balance: A Physician's Memoir of Life, Love, and Loss with Parkinson's Disease and Dementia (Union Square Press, $19.95, 9781402753411/1402753411).


This morning's Book Report, the weekly AM radio book-related show organized by Windows a bookshop, Monroe, La., features two interviews:

  • Betsy Burton, author of The King's English (Gibbs Smith, $15.95, 9781423601241/1423601246), a memoir about the King's English bookstore in Salt Lake City, Utah
  • Kathi Appelt, author of The Underneath (S&S, $16.99, 9781416950585/1416950583)

The show airs at 8 a.m. Central Time and can be heard live at; the archived edition will be posted this afternoon.


Today All Things Considered takes a tour of Thomas Jefferson's library, where 6,000 volumes are on display.


Tomorrow on the Diane Rehm Show: David Wroblewski, author of The Story of Edgar Sawtelle (Ecco, $25.95, 9780061374227/0061374229).


Tomorrow on KCRW's Bookworm: Keith Gessen, author of All the Sad Young Literary Men (Viking, $24.95, 9780670018550/0670018554). As the show put it, "Keith Gessen, one of the founding editors of the hip, intellectual journal n+1, has written his first novel. It's about the struggles of young people to break into the world of their aspirations, in this case, the literary intelligentsia of New York City. We talk about success and how to achieve it--and whether 'success' is really the goal of serious writing."


Book Review

Book Review: The Last Fish Tale

Last Fish Tale: The Fate of the Atlantic and Survival in Gloucester, America's Oldest Fishing Port and Most Original Town by Mark Kurlansky (Ballantine Books, $25.00 Hardcover, 9780345487278, June 2008)

Four hundred years of history of the rocky island outcropping known as Cape Ann in Massachusetts provides Mark Kurlansky (Salt, Cod) with rich material about rugged individualism, the accidents of geography, the ecology of the sea and the fishing industry. This fascinating and lively book is proof he didn't miss any opportunities.

Gloucester on Cape Ann is the closest port to the Browns and Georges Banks, two of the richest fishing grounds in North America. Fishermen out of Gloucester could sail to the grounds, haul in the bounty and make reasonable livings by sharing the work, risks and profits. The version that tough, self-reliant Gloucester men tell is that fishing is a hard life but a "free" one.  

Kurlansky looks behind the official version to deliver some other undeniable facts. Fishing may always have been risky, but he points out that innovations like the fast Gloucester fishing schooner tended to make life more, rather than less, dangerous. Records show that, between 1830 and 1900, 3,800 Gloucester fishermen and 670 schooners were lost at sea. Fishermen seemed to be a renewable resource: when one was gone, another showed up to take his place. Considering these statistics, it is no wonder that a whole genre of story-telling grew up--a Gloucester tale, Kurlansky tells us, is "a story of miserable irony in which things are shown in their worst light, . . . with a sad ending." Kurlansky retells many, and they are gruesome classics.

Gloucester's grit and salty authenticity were magnets for many who did not fish, too. Painters like Fitz Henry Lane, Winslow Homer and Edward Hopper came to create works that made the light and seascapes of Gloucester world-famous. Kurlansky continues solidly, if more modestly, in their tradition. His pen-and-ink illustrations lend charm throughout a book that also boasts recipes for Ciaramitaro's Christmas fig cookies, Skully-Jo Fish Bake and Miss E. Grover's Lobster Salad.

The Gloucester story changes dramatically for the worse with modern technology. As Kurlansky so eloquently states, in the late 20th century large trawlers gave fishermen "the ability to catch more fish than were available in the sea." With deft use of studies and statistics, he provides an informed, disturbing introduction to changing ocean ecology at the same time that he shows the pressures (including real estate fever) that have been brought to bear on life in Gloucester.

Able to channel the resilient spirit of a place that always looked to the sea, Kurlanksy has written what could be called a Gloucester love-letter, a tale of hardy survivors, not victims.--John McFarland


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