Shelf Awareness for Thursday, October 20, 2005

Mariner Books: Everyone This Christmas Has a Secret: A Festive Mystery by Benjamin Stevenson

Grove Press: Brightly Shining by Ingvild Rishøi, Translated Caroline Waight

Running Press Adult: Scam Goddess: Lessons from a Life of Cons, Grifts, and Schemes by Laci Mosley

Broadleaf Books: Trespass: Portraits of Unhoused Life, Love, and Understanding by Kim Watson

Nancy Paulsen Books: Sync by Ellen Hopkins

Running Press Adult: Cat People by Hannah Hillam

Beaming Books: Must-Have Autumn Reads for Your Shelf!

Dial Press: Like Mother, Like Mother by Susan Rieger

Editors' Note

Shelf Awareness Takes to the Air

Shelf Awareness took two seats at the Writer's Roundtable on World Talk Radio yesterday, joining host Antoinette Kuritz in a discussion about our newsletter and company. To hear Jenn and John's crackling (and sometimes cackling) voices, listen in at World Talk Radio's Web site. We're segment 2.

Peachtree Teen: Compound Fracture by Andrew Joseph White


BAM Files Delayed 10-Q; Most Figures A-OK

Books-A-Million has filed its long-delayed Form 10-Q with the SEC for the quarter ended July 30.

Despite internal auditing questions related to the Sarbanes Oxley Act's requirements, most of the numbers in the Form 10-Q are the same as those announced in brief in August. (The 2002 law aims to reduce corporate financial fraud.)

To reiterate: in the quarter, net sales rose 7.9% to $122.4 million and gross profit rose 9.9% to $34.1 million. Sales at stores open at least a year rose 4.4%, mostly attributable to higher book sales, "primarily driven by the release of Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince as well as strong sales in categories such as children's, history, teen fiction, cooking, humor and inspirational." Similarly BAM attributed a 4.5% rise in e-commerce sales ($6.6 million in the quarter) to "higher bestseller order volume, including Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince." In the e-commerce area, the company noted that although revenue increased, operating income was relatively flat because of strong price competition online.

The company shed slightly more light on its accounting problems, saying that in its internal auditing, it found "significant deficiencies" in three area relating to accounts payable: "inadequate controls over the data used to perform costs of goods sold calculations; inadequate segregation of duties for accounts payable management; and inadequate independent verification of expense invoice payment supporting documentation."

Operating, selling and administrative expenses rose to $26.8 million, up $2.2 million, primarily because of higher costs related to meeting the requirements of the Sarbanes Oxley Act: "increased staffing for internal audit and outside professional fees."

In other news in the 10-Q, BAM said that during the first half of its fiscal year, it opened four stores, relocated one, remodeled 13 and closed three. During the last half of the fiscal year--through January--the company plans to open three to five stores, remodel five to 10 and close one to two stores.

Inner Traditions: Expand your collection with these must-have resource books!

Notes: Two Store Closings, One Lives Online

Another used bookstore is closing its bricks-and-mortar presence and will sell only online.

Mark Hedborn told the DeKalb Midweek News that he sells more books on eBay, Amazon and elsewhere than in his Book Muse Book Store in DeKalb, Ill., which he has owned six years. The store will close October 29.


Founded in 1944, Athena Book Shop in Kalamazoo, Mich., is going out of business, according to local television reports. Current owner George Hebben said that a variety of factors caused sales to fall 70% in July, adding, "It's simply unsustainable."

The problems: the loss of Pfizer jobs, the closing of a neighboring restaurant and gas prices eating up discretionary income.

Google Gonged Again

Long unhappy about Google's Print for Libraries program, the Association of American Publishers filed suit yesterday seeking a court declaration that Google's scanning of copyrighted books without permission is copyright infringement. The action is similar to the Authors Guild suit filed September 20. Google had said a moratorium on copying copyrighted works for the program would end November 1.

The suit was filed on behalf of McGraw-Hill, Pearson Education, Penguin Group, S&S and Wiley and is being coordinated and funded by the AAP. Talks between Google and the AAP had broken down last week. Google had proposed that publishers with copyrights who objected to copying inform the company while the AAP proposed Google use ISBNs to seek copying permission from the copyright holders. Google has long argued that its program constitutes fair use under copyright laws because it is "reproducing" only tiny parts of what it is scanning; publishers and authors say unauthorized scanning alone violates the law.


In a somewhat related item--depending on how you scan it--Holtzbrinck Group is developing a searchable online repository for digital book content that will be made available to other publishing companies, according to VNU's Information World Review.

Called the BookStore, the facility will allow publishers to store and sell their material digitally--and make it available to Google, Yahoo and other search engines.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Here's Eddie!

Today on WNYC's Leonard Lopate Shop 'tis Frank McCourt, whose new book is Teacher Man: A Memoir (Scribner, $26, 0743243773), about his 30-year career in the New York City school system.


Today on KCRW's Bookworm, Christopher Sorrentino talks about his new book, Trance: A Novel (FSG, $26, 0374278644). As the show puts it: "Sorrentino takes the Patty Hearst saga as the springboard for an exploration of the mass hypnosis of American culture. A funny thing though: this novel about intergenerational warfare is written by the son of formidable avante-gardiste Gilbert Sorrentino. How did Chris write about the young fighting the old establishment and still pay tribute to his dad?"


Today on the View, Ashley Smith, author of Unlikely Angel: The Untold Story of the Atlanta Hostage Hero (Morrow/Avon, $24.95, 0310270677), reflects on her harrowing experience.


Scheduled for tonight on Charlie Rose: George Packer, author of The Assassins' Gate: America In Iraq (FSG, $26, 0374299633).


Tonight on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno, the legendary Ed McMahon appears, whose new book is Here's Johnny!: My Memories of Johnny Carson, the Tonight Show, and 46 Years of Friendship (Rutledge Hill Press, $24.99, 1401602363).


Yesterday Fresh Air broke bread with Walter Kirn, author of Mission to America (Doubleday, $23.95, 038550764X).

Book TV: Beatty and Berry

Book TV airs on C-Span 2 from 8 a.m. Saturday to 8 a.m. Monday and focuses on history and political books as well as the publishing industry. The following are highlights of this coming weekend's programming. For more information and a full schedule, go to Book TV's Web site.

Saturday, October 22

4 p.m. Public Lives. In an event hosted by the Virginia Historical Society in Richmond, Va., Suzanne Finstad discusses her biography Warren Beatty: A Private Man (Harmony, $25.95, 1400046068), which relied on interviews with family and close friends, including Jane Fonda, Goldie Hawn, Mike Nichols and Senators John McCain, Gary Hart and George McGovern.

8 p.m. After Words. Senior NPR correspondent Juan Williams interviews Mary Frances Berry, former chair of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, about her biography, My Face Is Black Is True: Callie House and the Struggle for Ex-Slave Reparations (Knopf, $26.95, 1400040035). A onetime seamstress, House formed the National Ex-Slave Mutual Relief Bounty and Pension Association. (Re-airs on Sunday at 9 p.m.)

Deeper Understanding

Suzy Staubach: A Different Kind of Potter Bookseller

Suzy Staubach has been potting longer than bookselling. "It's the other big thing in my life besides books," she told Shelf Awareness. "And if you're a book person, everything comes back to that: you either read or write about that other big thing."

After reading a lot about pottery, Staubach began writing about it, too. The result is now at the stage that's roughly the equivalent of a pot firing: Staubach's new book, Clay: The History and Evolution of Humankind's Relationship with Earth's Most Primal Element (Berkley, $23.95, 0425205665), will be published November 1.

In Clay, Staubach molds the history and the many surprising uses of clays--in computers and space exploration, in tablets for the first written communication, in irrigation, to name a few. "The first sparkplug was made on a potter's wheel," she said. And the potter's wheel was "the first machine."

Staubach has years of experience in bookselling. She is manager of the general books division at the UConn Co-op bookstore in Storrs, Conn., a board member of the ABA, former president of NEBA, former president of the Connecticut Center for the Book and contributor of the "Face Out: Notes of a College Bookseller" column for NACS's College Store magazine. She is also one of the most thoughtful, kind, soft spoken and funny observers of the book world that we know. So it's not surprising that she thought she knew a lot about the publishing process. Now on the verge of seeing Clay take form, she has a different view, saying, "I thought I knew more than I did."

She had been researching the subject of clay and pottery "forever," taking notes on cards, corresponding with a range of people, including, for example, "a guy at an enameling instituted that makes sewer pipe," when her agent, Ed Knappman, sold her idea to Berkley. Suddenly she had only a little over a year to write her book, less than the two years she wanted. She raced to meet the deadline, and like so many authors, had a hair-raising experience: "My editor was great, but she quit two weeks before BEA," Staubach said. Since handing in the manuscript last Halloween, she has been surprised by the "hurry up and wait" quality of the process. "I work frantically for a couple of weeks to get something done, then nothing happens." Securing permissions for the many pictures was particularly hectic. "Thank God for computers and jpegs," she exclaimed. "I didn't start getting permissions until I knew how many we would use. If I did this over, I would start earlier."

She "had nothing to do with the cover" but loves it. She also had a different title for the book, Mud, but was happy, particularly after seeing the cover, that Berkley changed it.

Now she's looking forward to publication. Staubach will tour "a bunch of stores" in New England, will appear at Harry W. Schwartz Bookshops in Milwaukee and go to the Miami Book Fair International. "It'll be fun to be on the other side and see how stores do events," she said. "I just hope I'm not a bad author." As for an appearance at the UConn Co-op, Staubach said that planning something would be "a conflict of interest." But when several faculty members said they had to do something to celebrate her book, she went along. An event will be held on November 17.

She'll also do a few events in what she calls "the clay world," most of which will focus on technical aspects of the subject.

Staubach continues to throw pots, mostly tableware and a lot of garden pots. Her work tends to be "very functional," she commented. "It's the one part of my life in which I'm very conservative." While most potters do double firings, she does single firings, which she started in the 1970s during the last major energy crisis. (Now her approach is back in fashion.) She was also tempted to try new things after learning about them while working on Clay. One example: farmers in India put an upside down pot on a stick like a scarecrow. "I've been inspired to make a few on my own," she said.

In 1998, Staubach published another book, Connecticut: Driving Through History. "It was with a small press [Douglas Charles Ltd.] and much more casual," she said. She may try another book. "I'd love to do something on sunken gardens," she said. "Or a biography of M.C. Richards [of Black Mountain College fame and the author of Centered]. She was an interesting character, and no one's done a bio."

She'll also continue potting. "It and bookselling are equal wealth builders," she said, laughing. "Bookselling is my day job."

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