Shelf Awareness for Friday, August 8, 2008


Delacorte Press: Lady Smoke (Ash Princess #2) by Laura Sebastian

Atlantic Monthly Press: Unto Us a Son Is Given by Donna Leon

Gibbs Smith: We know that there's no place like the bookstore - Thank You Booksellers!

Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers: Five Feet Apart by Rachel Lippincott with Mikki Daughtry and Tobias Iaconis

Letters

Store Flooding; Bookselling in Alexandria

Claire Benedict, co-owner of Bear Pond Books, Montpelier, Vt., wrote yesterday about water damage that occurred two days ago in the store:

We had torrential downpours for the 100th-something day in a row. During yesterday afternoon's rain, Montpelier's infrastructure could take no more, and rain water coming down drainage pipes on our roof had nowhere to go. On the second floor of our building the pipes burst via a toilet, sending cascades of water down into our store. Staff and customers acted quickly and managed to save a good number of books from the water. There are a lot of wet books, too; the actual damage has not been assessed. After a long night of cleaning up the water and drying off the least damaged books, we're planning on spending Friday [this morning] getting the store back in order. Customers have already called to see if they can help. They'll be in at 9 a.m.! Our next-door neighbor, a clothing boutique, was hit too and their ceiling fell in.

For more, read the Barre Montpelier Times Argus's account.

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Diane Wilson and Ken Mahnken, owners of Already Read Used Books, Alexandria, Va., respond to a story we mentioned in yesterday's issue:


We read the article in the Arlington Connection, and we noticed immediately that the author interviewed only a very small sample of bookstores in the Alexandria/Arlington area. He failed to include our store and at least three other used bookstores, plus the other independents in the Alexandria area.

We were bothered that the article made it seem that the bookstores in the Alexandria/Arlington areas are only scraping by or that the used bookstores have a limited source of books. In our opinion, the author used too small of a sample to get a good picture of the book business in the area. Blaming the Internet and the big box bookstores for the decrease in sales did not give a true picture of what is happening in the book business.

The author failed to mention the fact that Alexandria/Arlington area has some of the highest retail rents in the Washington area, and that hurts the bottom line. The economic downturn, high gas prices and big mortgages have also impacted on what customers spend.  

Also, getting a steady stream of books is actually less of a problem than we thought it would be. Every day we receive calls about taking books, and we could probably fill our whole store with just boxes of books if we would pay cash rather than give store credit, not limit the type of books we take or the number of boxes per day. Plus, to increase the stream of books, we scout books for relaxation, and our scouting helps to fill in the subjects that do not come in as often as demand requires.

Our store is celebrating our second anniversary, and we are holding our own and establishing our bookstore as a place to stop for books. We have seen an increase in sales despite "the Internet" and the economic downturn. We do Internet sales to supplement our income and to replace what sales we do lose to folks who shop on the Internet for books. We have our challenges, but we would rather focus on serving our customers and having a nice selection of used books for them to peruse.

 


Ecco Press: What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Blacker: A Memoir in Essays by Damon Young


News

Notes: Textbook Prices Jump More than Ever; Gross Books

Textbook prices on titles for the fall semester have jumped much higher than usual, in some cases 30%-40% compared to a year ago, the National Association of College Stores's Campus Marketplace reported. Textbook prices have long been an issue for students, and now college booksellers "are wondering how to explain these increases."

Jim Simpson, assistant director of bookstores, Miami University, Oxford, Ohio, said that "at least two books have gone up so much that the net from the publisher is more than the new retail was the last time we used the book. I'm just not sure how you justify a $20-$30 increase in a book from one year to the next."

Some publishers are adding fuel surcharges, too.

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In a front-page article, the Wall Street Journal investigated how publishers are trying to encourage more boys to read by putting out titles that are particularly gory and gross. One example: Vlad the Impaler: The Real Count Dracula, part of the Wicked History series, which has graphic descriptions and blood-red ink stains. "Booksellers are also catering to teachers and parents desperate to make young males more literate," the Journal wrote.

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Kayleigh Stevens of Empire Books and News, Huntington, W.Va., shared her Breaking Dawn post-release party reactions with readers of the Herald-Dispatch: "The screams of teenage girls, the countdown to midnight and the flurry of ball gowns has all faded away, leaving a tired staff and a nearly 800-page book to be read. Anxious to open my copy, but too exhausted to read much, my dawn broke with only 30 pages read . . ."

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Minnesota Public Radio featured Laura Miller, author of Reluctant Capitalists: Bookselling and the Culture of Consumption, and Albert Greco, author of The Book Publishing Industry, discussing "why the book business is taking it on the chin."

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In a Herald-Leader interview with Lexington, Ky., author Kim Edwards--whose novel The Memory Keeper's Daughter has sold four million copies--Wanda Jewell, executive director of the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance, "attributes the book's success in part to the buzz it created among booksellers. When an independent bookseller tells colleagues that they can sell a lot of a particular title, the community starts buzzing. It's called handselling in the book business, the process of literally guiding a customer to a title. You'll like the book, you tell a friend."

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Another Rowling hit. The Telegraph reported that an 800-word Harry Potter "prequel," which was written on a storycard and auctioned for charity in June (Shelf Awareness, June 11, 2008), "became the fastest-selling short story of all time when the entire print run was snapped up in a single day. . . . Ordinary fans got their chance to own a copy when 10,000 cards went on sale at Waterstone's branches across the country. Such was the demand that many stores had sold out by lunchtime, and all 10,000 copies were gone by close of business."

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Books-A-Million is opening two stores, one in Florida and one in Missouri, that will celebrate their grand openings August 9 and 10. Both have 15,500 square feet of space. The Palm Coast, Fla., store is at 5220 State Route #100 and is BAM's 39th in the state. The Branson, Mo., store is at 985 Branson Hills Parkway and is BAM's fourth in Missouri.

 


Abrams: The Overlook Press Distribution Change


Starbucks Picks The House at Sugar Beach

Starbucks has chosen The House at Sugar Beach by Helene Cooper as its next book pick. The memoir by the diplomatic correspondent of the New York Times, who grew up in a privileged family in Liberia but left when civil war started, will be published by Simon & Schuster and will go on sale at some 6,500 Starbucks-operated stores in the U.S. on September 3.

In a statement, Cooper said, "I remember going into my local Starbucks on K Street in Washington for my morning coffee on my way to work, and seeing [earlier Starbucks pick] Ishmael Beah's Long Way Gone on the counter. I was thrilled for him as a fellow West African--and so envious myself at the same time! I'm not ashamed to say that I stood in line daydreaming that one day it would be me."

Nikkole Denson, Starbucks's director of content development, said that the company's "customers enjoy engaging, personal stories that offer them the opportunity to discover something about the broader world and about themselves."

 


Ecco Press: White Elephant by Julie Langsdorf


General Retail Sales: Summer Doldrums

General retail sales slumped again in July as "Americans sought out more bargains and cheaper goods" and were "rapidly ratcheting back [their] spending habits, and abandoning mid-tier and discount shopping mall mainstays that were booming a year ago," as the New York Times put it.

Sales at stores open at least a year were down at a range of stores--the only bright spots were Costco, whose comp-store sales rose 10%, and Wal-Mart, which was up 3%. By comparison, Target was off 1.2%, the Limited fell 5%, J.C. Penney was down 6.5%, Kohl's slid 10%, the Gap fell 11%, Talbots was down 12%.

Little is expected to change during the dog days of summer. "August is going to be continue to be tough; I don't think anybody made any bones about that," Todd D. Slater, a retail analyst at Lazard Capital Markets, told the Times.

 


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Media and Movies

Media Heat: Tom Vanderbilt's Traffic

Today on Talk of the Nation Science Friday: Tom Vanderbilt, author of Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (and What It Says About Us) (Knopf, $24.95, 9780307264787/0307264785).

 


Movies: A Sneak Peek Down The Road

Pittsburgh, Pa., may not be the end of the world, but you can see it from there, or at least that's what director John Hillcoat told USA Today regarding his choice of the region as location for substantial portions of The Road, adapted from Cormac McCarthy's Pulitzer prize-winning, post-apocalyptic novel.

"It's a beautiful place in fall with the colors changing," Hillcoat said. "But in winter, it can be very bleak. There are city blocks that are abandoned. The woods can be brutal. We didn't want to go the CGI world. . . . We wanted the heightened reality in the book."

"It's tangible, the misery and hopelessness and the bleakness," said actor Viggo Mortensen, who plays the father. "It gives you much more to work with if you're filming in that world instead of a green screen. You have to bring a story to life in a movie in a way you don't have to in a book--even a book as powerful as that.

"I spoke with Cormac before we started shooting," he added. "I think what's made this story so universally loved is because it's really about protecting your child, no matter what the circumstances. At its core, it's a love story."

 



Books & Authors

Awards: The Ritas

The following are the winners of the 2008 RITA awards, sponsored by the Romance Writers of America:

  • First Book: Dead Girls Are Easy by Terri Garey (Avon)
  • Contemporary Series Romance: Snowbound by Janice Johnson (Harlequin Superromance)
  • Contemporary Series Romance: Suspense/Adventure: Treasure by Helen Brenna (Harlequin Superromance)
  • Contemporary Single Title Romance: Catch of the Day by Kristan Higgins (HQN)
  • Historical Romance: Lessons of Desire by Madeline Hunter (Bantam Dell Publishing Group)
  • Inspirational Romance: A Touch of Grace by Linda Goodnight (Steeple Hill Love Inspired)
  • Novel with Strong Romantic Elements: Silent in the Grave by Deanna Raybourn (MIRA)
  • Paranormal Romance: Lover Revealed by J.R. Ward (Onyx)
  • Regency Historical Romance: The Secret Diaries of Miss Miranda Cheever by Julia Quinn (Avon)
  • Romance Novella: "Born in My Heart" in Like Mother, Like Daughter by Jennifer Greene (Harlequin NEXT)
  • Romantic Suspense: Ice Blue by Anne Stuart (MIRA)
  • Young Adult Romance: Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr (HarperTeen)

 


AAUP's Books for Understanding: China

Just in time for the opening of the Beijing Olympics, the Association of American University Presses offers its latest Books for Understanding list, which focuses on China. The list includes more than 400 titles, including:

  • The Chinese State at the Borders by Diana Lary (University of British Columbia Press, 2007)
  • Beyond the Final Score: The Politics of Sports in Asia by Victor Cha (Columbia University Press, 2008)
  • Wealth into Power: The Communist Party's Embrace of China's Private Sector by Bruce Dickson (Cambridge University Press, 2008)
  • China's New Confucianism: Politics and Everyday Life in a Changing Society by Daniel A. Bell (Princeton University Press, 2008)

 


Book Brahmin: Annie Barrows

Annie Barrows, co-author with her aunt Mary Ann Shaffer of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, is also the author of the children's series Ivy and Bean as well as The Magic Half. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society was just published by the Dial Press.

On your nightstand now:

Now and for the last eight years my nightstand has sported volume one of Samuel Pepys's diary. I've given up on reading the darn thing because I can't make my way through the introduction (Clerk of the Acts to the Navy Board--huh?), but I like the look of Samuel's lumpy face there next to my bed. He's my own personal 17th-century dream-catcher. Lying across Samuel's clavicle is the book I am actually reading right now, W. G. Sebald's The Emigrants.
 
Favorite book when you were a child:

Little Women. I read it hundreds of times; in fact, I can still recite the first page from memory. The first time I read the book, I was only seven and I didn't understand that the words "she went out with tide" meant that Beth had died. I thought it was a pretty funny time for her to be going on vacation.

Your top five authors:

Charles Dickens, Jane Austen, Virginia Woolf, Leo Tolstoy, Laura Ingalls Wilder.

Book you've faked reading:

For a long time, I pretended I had read Remembrance of Things Past. Then I read it. I should have kept on pretending.
 
Book you're an evangelist for:

The Long Walk by Slavomir Rawicz. This is an account of how the author escaped from a Soviet prison camp during World War II by walking to India. It's absolutely astonishing. You'll never complain again.

Book you've bought for the cover:

I bought a three-volume edition of The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire for its spines. The spine of volume one shows two proud Corinthian columns in gold. On volume two, the columns are cracking, and there's a chunk out of one of the pediments. By volume three, the poor columns are stumps, declined and fallen.
 
Book that changed your life:

This is a very embarrassing question. The Catcher in the Rye. That's all I'm going to say about that. If I had any dignity at all, I'd lie.
 
Favorite line from a book:

   "But how could it be true, Sir?" said Peter.
   "Why do you say that?" asked the Professor.
   "Well, for one thing," said Peter, "if it was real why doesn't everyone find this country every time they go to the wardrobe? I mean, there was nothing there when we looked; even Lucy didn't pretend there was."
   "What has that to do with it?" said the Professor.
   "Well, Sir, if things are real, they're there all the time."
   "Are they?" said the Professor; and Peter did not know quite what to say.

--From The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis

Book you most want to read again for the first time:

When I was 19, I had all four of my wisdom teeth pulled out at once. The dentist plied me with drugs, and as a result, I lost all self-control and read every single Jane Austen novel in three days. I had been planning to eke them out, one a decade, to give me something to live for, but no--I succumbed to frenzy and blew it all. My only hope is that there will be more Jane Austen in the afterlife.

 


Ooops

Prairie Daze

In our mention yesterday of the musical based on Little House on the Prairie, we inadvertently moved the home theater of Garrison Keillor's Prairie Home Companion. That show is usually broadcast from the Fitzgerald Theater in St. Paul, Minn. Our apologies!

 


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