Shelf Awareness for Friday, September 5, 2008

Workman Publishing: Paint by Sticker: Plants and Flowers: Create 12 Stunning Images One Sticker at a Time! by Workman Publishing

Sourcebooks Landmark: The Ways We Hide by Kristina McMorris

Simon & Schuster: Recording for the Simon & Schuster and Simon Kids Fall Preview 2022

Soho Crime: Lady Joker, Volume 2 by Kaoru Takamura, translated by Allison Markin Powell and Marie Iida

Berkley Books: Once Upon a December by Amy E. Reichert; Lucy on the Wild Side by Kerry Rea; Where We End & Begin by Jane Igharo

Kensington Publishing Corporation: The Lost Girls of Willowbrook by Ellen Marie Wiseman

St. Martin's Press: Wild: The Life of Peter Beard: Photographer, Adventurer, Lover by Graham Boynton


Notes: Store Openings, Closing, Reopenings

Sad news about the Happy Bookseller: the Columbia, S.C., bookstore will close in October, according to the State. Owners Andy and Carrie Graves noted two nearby chain stores and increasing online competition and said that they were no longer able to earn a living from the Happy Bookseller. (The couple met at the store after they started working there.)

The Happy Bookseller was founded in 1974 by Rhett Jackson, 83, who is a former American Booksellers Association president and was a founder of the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression. His wife, Betty, still works at the store part time. They have long been a force in battling for First Amendment rights. Two years ago they were given a Lifetime Achievement Award by the ABA.


Bookselling This Week celebrates the grand reopening in two weeks of the Tecolote Book Shop, Santa Barbara, Calif., the 82-year-old bookstore that almost closed last year. Instead, Mary Sheldon, the manager since 1992, bought the store with help from several customers and in July completely refurbished the 1,300-sq.-ft. space.


Emma Stitt and Kenda Honeycutt, recent Elon University graduates, have embarked on a "big bookstore adventure--a two-year road trip to apprentice with independent booksellers across the country," as Bookselling This Week put it.

The first stop for the future bookstore owners, for three months this summer: DeeGee's Gifts & Books, Morehead City, N.C., whose owner Cathy Stanley said, "It's been excellent to have them here." Now they're off for a three-and-a-half month stint at Quail Ridge Books & Music, Raleigh, N.C.

In four years, BTW wrote, Stitt and Honeycutt want to open a store "in the mountains of Oregon with a distant view of the ocean," selling fiction and literary nonfiction, some used books, with a cafe and wine and beer bar and a wrap-around porch, creating "a space where people can come and be there for hours."


Yellow Dog Books, Madison, Miss., will close at the end of September, according to the Madison County Journal. "After three years we are tired," said David Ingebretsen, who owns the bookshop with his daughter, Anna Hall. "Bookstores are hard work, between my daughter and I we each average about 60 hours per week."

Ingebretsen does not rule out another try after some vacation time. "Independent bookstores can be a real part of the community in a big way," he said. "We may not be able to compete on prices with large chains but we offer a place for people who like to discuss books.


Today and tomorrow Books-A-Million holds a grand opening celebration of its new 14,200-sq.-ft. store at 2441 Whiskey Road, Aiken, S.C.


Congratulations to Mystery Lovers Bookshop, Oakmont, Pa., which has been named one of Pittsburgh Magazine's Best of Pittsburgh stores. The magazine wrote in part:

"In the world of handlebar mustaches, wooden pipes and funny-looking plaid hats, Mystery Lovers Bookshop reigns supreme. With more than 10,000 mystery titles filling the shelves, this place has more private eyes and plot twists than a season of Magnum P.I. Bookshop regulars and other fans of the whodunit come together each year at the store's annual Festival of Mystery, now in its 14th year, when loyal readers can meet their favorite mystery authors."


"Certain books are 'talkers.' They make you think, react and want to chat up your friends about what you've just read," USA Today said in its Fall Books Preview, which included "10 titles worth talking about" as well as an interactive calendar of upcoming title release dates.


Under the Goldfinger-ish headline, "No Mr. Bond, we expect you to buy," the Scotsman reported that a rare set of 007 novels, owned by possible Bond inspiration Sir Fitzroy Maclean (Shelf Awareness, September 3, 2008), sold at auction for £31,000 (US$54,812). The article also noted that "London bookseller John Gilbert plans to use the lot, sold by Lyon & Turnbull, as background material for a Fleming bibliography."


The first edition of the Book Editors Online & Unscripted live webcasts featuring editors discussing winter 2009 titles and sponsored by the AAP begins Tuesday, September 16, at 12 noon (Shelf Awareness, July 31, 2008). Retailers, media and industry professionals who register for the webcasts, which are free, will be able to download in advance chapters from the titles discussed. Penguin Books president and publisher Kathryn Court has been added to the schedule. The editors' presentations will be followed by a Q&A moderated by Sara Nelson, editor-in-chief of Publishers Weekly.

For a full schedule and more information, go to the AAP's website.


Effective immediately, iTouch Publishers, Fuquay-Varina, N.C., is now being distributed by National Book Network. iTouch Publishers specializes in "multi-cultural authors who offer stimulating and thought provoking literature" and sells many of its Christian books through "thousands of book displays throughout both African-American and Hispanic communities." The 15-year-press just published Obama: Why Black America Should Have Doubts.


Effective January 1, Melville House will be distributed by Random House Publisher Services. The Brooklyn, N.Y., press, founded in 2001, is currently distributed by Consortium Book Sales & Distribution and earlier was distributed by IPG.

In a statement, co-founder Dennis Johnson said, "We have a pretty eclectic list. But the skillfulness and experience of RHPS will allow us to keep doing the kind of books that are the stuff of a small indy, such as the hard-hitting political investigation or the avant-gardist novel."


Robyn Kamimura, who as we noted last week has joined DIESEL: A Bookstore, is events coordinator and does co-op and marketing for all three DIESEL stores--in Oakland, Malibu and the one opening in the Brentwood neighborhood in Los Angeles. She was formerly assistant promotional director at Vroman's, Pasadena, and may be reached at or


The following changes have been made recently in the HarperOne publicity department:

  • Julie Burton is joining the department as associate director of publicity. She was formerly director of publicity at MacAdam/Cage Publishing. Before that, she held positions with the Amy Rennert Literary Agency and the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency.
  • Leslie Davisson has joined the department as publicity manager. She was formerly with Chronicle Books, most recently as senior publicist.
  • Emily Grandstaff has been promoted to senior publicist from publicist. Before joining HarperOne, she was in charge of publicity at the University of Virginia Press.



Vintage: Morningside Heights by Joshua Henkin

Sales: General Retail in August; Publishers in June

With the exception of discounters, most general retailers reported declines in August sales at stores open at least a year. At Wal-Mart and Costco, same-store sales were up 3% and 9% respectively. Ken Perkins of RetailMetrics explained to the New York Times: "Consumers are spending on necessities and looking for value and the lowest price possible."

Luxury retailers were feeling the pinch: same-store sales at Nordstrom fell 7.9% and at Saks dropped 5.9%. Another problem on the horizon for those kinds of stores: foreign tourists many not splurge here as they did earlier this year "if, as expected, the dollar strengthens, European economies slow and airlines cut back on flights to the U.S.," the Wall Street Journal wrote.


In June, sales by 79 publishers reporting to the Association of American Publishers rose 1.6% to $753.6 million. Sales for the year through June were down 0.2%.

Among sales by category:

  • E-books rose 87.4% to $4.9 million
  • Children's/YA hardcover was up 18.2% to $48.8 million
  • Children's/YA paperback rose 17.9% to $45.6 million
  • Adult hardcover rose 12.2% to $118.7 million
  • Audiobooks were up 9.1% to $14.1 million
  • Adult paperback rose 5.5% to $115.7 million
  • University press paperbacks were up 2.3% to $4 million
  • Adult mass market was up 1.2% to $71.9 million
  • University press hardcovers dropped 3.3% to $4.5 million
  • Professional and scholarly fell 11.3% to $62.2 million
  • Religious books fell 12.9% to $32.6 million


Beaming Books: Sarah Rising by Ty Chapman, illustrated by Deann Wiley

For Fun

Palin Throws the Book at Librarian of Congress

Flash forward to January 21, 2009 . . .

In her first official act, Vice President Sarah Palin has asked for the resignation of Librarian of Congress James H. Billington.

After a little distraction as Dick Cheney's staff received new business cards and stationery reflecting their transition to Palin's staff, the Vice President's Office issued the following statement this morning over Palin's signature:

"President McCain and I came to the nation's capital with a mandate for change, and I am pleased to begin that process right in the heart of Washington. When I took that oath or whatever yesterday, I looked over at the Library of Congress building and immediately had several questions.

"First, what is it with all the books? Isn't it enough to have our Declaration of Independence on display at the National Archives? Luckily the Archives have room for the upcoming Alaskan Declaration of Independence.

"Second, aren't books basically elitist? Most real Americans are too busy to read. So let's clear the books out and make use of this prime bit of real estate.

"We can begin with test bores that will quickly show whether there are natural resources beneath the Library that could be extracted for the benefit of all Americans. If that doesn't pan out, I believe that with some outside-the-Washington-box thinking we can come up with some cool adaptations for what's left of the building.

"That big room with the dome would make an ideal ice rink, and there's plenty of space elsewhere for a shooting range. Part of the building ought to be converted to a hotel, which would be a much more convenient place for my successors as mayor and governor to stay when they come to Washington to seek even more federal earmarks for Alaska. I know from experience that it can be like an Ironman race going from the hotel to K Street to the Capitol to fancy restaurants and back--and not a mooseburger in sight!

"On the way to the Inauguration Ball, I called Mr. Billington to ask that he implement these ideas. He did not agree to them. This led me to do a Google search on him. That thorough vetting process has resulted in shocking revelations about the Librarian. Among the issues:

"A year ago, he appointed Jon Scieszka the first national reading ambassador. Why not Jack London? Or Ernest Hemingway?

"Why did the Librarian write so many books about Russia? I know Russia: I've seen it from across the Bering Strait and believe me there's not much going on.

"Why has he helped bring so many 'scholars' from Russia to study here?

"What's with all these awards from foreign countries, especially the honorary doctorate from Moscow State University? What's the matter with American awards?

"He has held this job 21 years. In my book, 21 months in one position is more than enough.

"What and why is the National Book Festival? Sure it was supported by the last First Lady, but she represented an administration we Republicans are happy to have sent packing yesterday. Why not a National Snowmobile Festival?"


Shelf Awareness Job Board: Click Here to Post Your Job>

Media and Movies

Media Heat: True Blood

Today on the View: Chelsea Handler, author of Are You There, Vodka? It's Me, Chelsea (Simon Spotlight Entertainment, $24.95, 9781416954125/1416954120).


Sunday night on 60 Minutes: Bob Woodward, author of The War Within: A Secret White House History 2006-2008 (S&S, $32, 9781416558972/1416558977).


Sunday HBO unveils True Blood, a new vampire series based on Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris (Ace, $7.99, 9780441016990/0441016995).


Books & Authors

Awards: Diagram of Diagrams Prize

The votes are in and the oddest book title of the past 30 years is Greek Rural Postmen and their Cancellation Numbers, which won the Diagram of Diagrams. The Guardian reported that the winner "nipped in ahead of People Who Don't Know They're Dead: How They Attach Themselves to Unsuspecting Bystanders and What to Do About It and How to Avoid Huge Ships."


Book Brahmins: Emily Pullen

Emily Pullen is a die-hard indie bookseller, ordering manager and book groups liaison at Skylight Books in Los Angeles, Calif. She grew up in Des Moines, Iowa, went to Grinnell College and worked at two indie bookstores in Boston before moving to Los Angeles. She is the Southern California representative for the Emerging Leaders Project. She hopes one day to write a cultural history of Converse Chuck Taylor All-Stars and to become a fiction editor.

On your nightstand now:

twin time: or how death befell me by Veronica Gonzalez, All About Lulu by Jonathan Evison, Beige by Cecil Castellucci, This Is Your Brain on Music by Daniel Levitin, The Lost Art of Walking by Geoff Nicholson.

Favorite book when you were a child:

The BFG by Roald Dahl. I loved his invented words and the made-up dream descriptions. He is the first author that I remember devouring every single book he wrote. I started crying when I heard on the radio that he had died. I was 11 years old.

Your top five authors:

William Faulkner, Jeanette Winterson, Don DeLillo, Ali Smith, Eduardo Galeano.

Book you've faked reading:

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott.

Book you're an evangelist for:

I, The Divine: A Novel in First Chapters by Rabih Alameddine. If you were telling the story of your life, where would you begin? With your first breath, your first memory, your first love, your first loss? With the story of your family or your people? Each chapter in I, The Divine is a new beginning, each chapter a puzzle piece in the life of Sarah Nour El-Din. The effect is kaleidoscopic--you see hues and shapes and stories that you recognize, but never in the same place twice.

Book you've bought for the cover:

Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell, and it was totally worth it.

Book that changed your life:

In 7th grade, John Robbins' Diet for a New America made me a vegetarian for 10 years. I've since fallen off the wagon (how could I live in L.A. without eating sushi?), so perhaps it's time to read it again.

Favorite line from a book:

"Information Is Shock Resistance. Arm Yourself."--The Shock Doctrine, Naomi Klein (this is actually in the short promo film by Alfonso Cuaron).

"There is always a moment when we must begin to write. There are always the hundreds, the thousands, of struggles, of getting up, of pacing about, of sitting down, of laborious uneven accomplishment. During the actual work, what else besides ourselves, can help us? . . .  [Now] I must think. I must mix it all with myself and with America. I have caught much of it on paper. But infinitely the greater part is in the wash of my brain and blood."--Of Time and the River by Thomas Wolfe
Book you most want to read again for the first time:

As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner.

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

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. The first time, in high school, there was so much I overlooked. The second time, outside of the context of school but with the tools I had gained therefrom, it was magical.

Books you wanted to begin again immediately after finishing them:

Underworld by Don DeLillo, Mopus by Oisin Curran.


Book Review

Mandahla: The Book of Matthew

The Book of Matthew: A Macabre Novel of Suspense by Thomas White (McBooks Press, $23.95 Hardcover, 9781590131510, August 2008)

The Book of Matthew is subtitled A Macabre Novel of Suspense, and it's definitely macabre, but if you have delicate sensibilities and you have mastered the art of skimming over icky bits, you are in for a treat (as you are if you relish the grotesque). Thomas White has written a superb, adrenaline-laced thriller, filled with black humor and stand-out characters.

San Francisco Homicide Inspector Clemson Yao, 50ish, tall and burly, with a look that can intimidate the worst gang-bangers, realizes early on that two seemingly disparate murders are linked and that he is pursuing a sadistic, and inventive, serial killer. The victim in the prologue dies a shameful, ugly death, one that is payback for a decade-old humiliation. When he is found, the top half of his body is hanging from a tree, with a note that refers to the way some criminals were executed in 18th century India and says, in Indian script, "I'm singin' in the rain." The second body, but an earlier murder, is discovered in an old oil storage tank by Angie Strackan, a real estate agent who is an ex-cop--it's a young girl, floating in embalming fluid.

Angie is soon dragooned by Clem to help him look for the killer, aided by Jojo, Homicide's only Filipino-American, and Billy, an aw-shucks FBI profiler. Clem is an insomniac; when he sleeps, he is haunted by nightmares filled with carnivorous stag beetles and "the Engine," with "runes of snakes [adorning] the machine's black metal from stem to stem, a calligraphy so monstrous that its translator would surely be felled into madness." As Clem considers the killer, "He would watch the horizon, let mayhem seek him out. But he felt the throb of the ravenous Engine, distant and faint to be sure, but growing louder. And this man did not serve that Engine, but had an implacable hand at the throttle."

From the main players to the minor (like Bernadette, a real estate agent's nightmare client, or Clem's mother, a Chinese immigrant full of cautionary tales she wields like a club), White's characters are expertly drawn with quirky details and smart dialogue.

McBooks Press says Thomas White has plans for a sequel. I wanted to hear that a manuscript was ready now, so after you read The Book of Matthew, send him a letter of encouragement. You will definitely want more of Clem and Angie and cohorts, and soon.--Marilyn Dahl

Shelf Talker: An adrenaline-filled thriller, with fascinating characters, sharp dialogue and a roller coaster plot. Thomas White has nailed it with this book.


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