Shelf Awareness for Thursday, October 2, 2008

Atria Books: The Silence in Her Eyes by Armando Lucas Correa

Labyrinth Road: Plan A by Deb Caletti

Harper Muse: Unsinkable by Jenni L. Walsh

Mariner Books: Everyone on This Train Is a Suspect by Benjamin Stevenson

S&s/ Marysue Rucci Books: The Storm We Made by Vanessa Chan

W by Wattpad Books: Night Shift by Annie Crown

Shadow Mountain: Under the Java Moon: A Novel of World War II by Heather B. Moore

Quotation of the Day

'A Great Store'

"It's a great store, profitable, and extremely well run. Coming from the high-tech world, I have noticed a trend away from companies that don't offer customer service, toward those that do, and that is what a local bookstore offers. Several [of the bookstore's loyal customers] have come to me and started interviewing me."--Jeff Mayersohn, new president and co-owner of Harvard Book Store, Cambridge, Mass., as quoted by the Boston Globe.


Flatiron Books: Anita de Monte Laughs Last by Xochitl Gonzalez


Notes: Borders Issues Warrants; Debate/Author Event

Borders Group yesterday issued warrants to Pershing Square Capital Management to purchase 5.15 million shares of stock at $7 a share. The warrants are good until October 9, 2014. Borders shares closed yesterday at $6.64 a share, up 1.2%.

The warrants were part of a deal reached earlier this year whereby Borders borrowed $42.5 million from Pershing Square, which is already Borders's single-largest shareholder with an estimated 29% of common stock (Shelf Awareness, September 26, 2008). Observers have speculated that Pershing Square now has more reason to push for a sale of Borders.


Cool Idea of the Day: So that customers don't have to "choose between art and politics," Eagle Harbor Book Co., Bainbridge Island, Wash., will show tonight's Vice Presidential debate on the store's television and will delay a book party until after the debate.

At the event, Roseanne Olson will present a slide show based on her photography book, This Is Who I Am: Our Beauty in All Shapes and Sizes (Artisan).


Congratulations to Subterranean Books, St. Louis, Mo., which for the seventh time in eight years since opening in 2000 has won Best Book Store (Independent) in Riverfront Times's annual competition. (Check out the store's website, which should also win an award.)

The weekly wrote in part: "Owner Kelly von Plonski has re-created Subterranean in the past year, resetting the floor plan to better accommodate her belief that the greatest variety of titles on the broadest range of topics is the Tao of the bookstore. The upstairs is still an art gallery, but new shelves allow for a maximization of space so that expanded sections covering interior design, cooking and the DIY movement offer inspiration. The erotica has been moved to the front of the shop for ease of access, a now-close neighbor to shelves devoted to ritual magic, the Beats and an entire section devoted to Taschen Books' bizarre view of the world. Literature, one of the most evocative words in the English language, is the backbone of the store still, twin columns that run the length of the room. The journey of a thousand years begins here at Subterranean, as soon as you open your eyes."


Happy anniversary to the Learned Owl Book Shop, Hudson, Ohio, which celebrates its 40th anniversary this month. "Books have always been woven into my life," owner Liz Murphy, who bought the store 25 years ago, told the Hudson Hub-Times. "They've created my world . . . since I learned how to read."

The store begins to celebrate next Monday, October 6, with festivities that include giveaways, free balloons, drawings and more. On the weekend of October 25 and 26, the Learned Owl will hold an anniversary event that features storytelling with Mercer Mayer's Little Critter, building a tetrahedron with author Shelly Pearsall, face-painting, games and more.


An instant book designed to bolster support for the Obama campaign has come out as an e-book, which is available for free, and a Lightning Source title that is available in print form. From idea to printed books took about two weeks, according to David Wilk of Rvive Books, which published the book with Jacquie Jordan, Inc.

The title is Vote to Save the Planet: Your Guide to the Issues that Matter by Jeff Schweitzer ($7.95, 9781935073000/1935073001), who blogs for Huffington Post and is "a former Clinton/Gore science advisor and internationally recognized authority in science, conservation and ethics."

For more information, contact Darice Fisher of Jacquie Jordan at or 310-376-1456 or David Wilk at or 203-454-4454.


Gotham Books and Avery Books, both nonfiction imprints at Penguin Group, are joining forces and will be led by William Shinker, now president and publisher of the two imprints. As part of the change:

  • Lisa Johnson has become v-p, associate publisher, of Gotham and Avery and will be in charge of a single publicity and marketing department for the imprints. She has worked for Penguin for more than 17 years, most recently as v-p, executive director of publicity and director of marketing, for Dutton and Gotham, and earlier worked at Putnam, Random House and Simon & Schuster.
  • Christine Aronson has joined Dutton as director of publicity and marketing. She was formerly publicity director of Crown, Crown Forum and Shaye Areheart Books. Before that, she worked at Holt, Goldberg McDuffie Communications and Viking Penguin.
  • Lauren Marino has become v-p, editorial director, of Gotham. She joined Gotham as founding executive editor in 2001 and earlier was a senior editor at Broadway Books and editor at Hyperion. She began her publishing career at HarperCollins and the Robbins Agency.
  • Megan Newman has become v-p, editorial director, of Avery. Before joining Penguin as publisher of Avery in 2004, she was editorial director of HarperResource.



Britannica Books: Britannica's Encyclopedia Infographica: 1,000s of Facts & Figures--About Earth, Space, Animals, the Body, Technology & More--Revealed in Pictures by Valentina D'Efilippo, Andrew Pettie, and Conrad Quilty-Harper

Obituary: Hayden Carruth

Poet Hayden Carruth died Monday at his home in Munnsville, N.Y. He was 87.

The New York Times noted that Carruth's "spare, precise, impassioned verse took myriad forms and stamped him as one of the most wide-ranging and intellectually ambitious poets of his generation." Carruth, who wrote more than 30 books, won the 1996 National Book Award for Poetry for his collection, Scrambled Eggs & Whiskey.

In "My Friend Hayden," an essay published in American Poet magazine, Wendell Berry had earlier written, "I think that Hayden's idea of a livable life is a life that has affection in it--a life, to give it the fullest scope of his art, in which the things you love are properly praised and properly mourned. What I most value Hayden for and most thank him for (in this age of deniability, when the merest public honesty is made doctrinally tentative) is his wholehearted, unabashed, unapologetic affection: affection for women and men, for neighbors, friends, other poets, jazz musicians, wild creatures, beloved places, the weather."


GLOW: Carolrhoda Books: Pangu's Shadow by Karen Bao

Image of the Day: Reading Banned Books in a Library Window

Among the many volunteer readers, Matt Phillips, a librarian at the Twin Hickory Public Library, Glen Allen, Va., and his daughter Sydney read Where's Waldo by Martin Handford (No. 88 on the ALA's top 100 banned and challenged books 1990-2000) in the library's Banned Books Weeks window. Adrienne Minock, teen librarian at Twin Hickory, wrote that the window has "gotten a lot of attention. We hear a lot of 'Mom, what are those people doing in there?' The best part has been hearing parents explain to their kids what the display is all about, which is exactly what we wanted to happen!"


Soho Crime: My Favorite Scar by Nicolás Ferraro, translated by Mallory Craig-Kuhn

Media and Movies

Movie: How to Lose Friends & Alienate People

How to Lose Friends & Alienate People, based on the memoir by Toby Young, opens tomorrow, October 3. Simon Pegg stars as a British writer struggling as he tries to fit in in New York at Vanity Fair. Also includes Megan Fox, Gillian Anderson, Jeff Bridges (as Graydon Carter) and Kirsten Dunst. The movie tie-in edition is available from Da Capo Press ($14.95, 9780306816130/030681613X) and includes a postscript about the making of the movie.




Media Heat: The Devil We Know

Today on Fresh Air: Robert Baer, who spent 21 years in the CIA and whose new book is The Devil We Know: Dealing with the New Iranian Superpower (Crown, $25.95, 9780307408648/0307408647).


Tomorrow on Ellen: Jenny McCarthy, author of Mother Warriors: A Nation of Parents Healing Autism Against All Odds (Dutton, $24.95, 9780525950691/0525950699).


Tomorrow night on Real Time with Bill Maher: Bob Woodward, author of The War Within: A Secret White House History 2006-2008 (S&S, $32, 9781416558972/1416558977).


This Weekend on Book TV: The Forever War

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, October 4

9 a.m. For an event hosted by Changing Hands Bookstore, Tempe, Ariz., Lucas Conley, author of Obsessive Branding Disorder (PublicAffairs, 22.95, 9781586484682/1586484680), profiles what he considers the flawed business strategy of branding and the effect it has on consumers. (Re-airs Saturday at 11 p.m. and Monday at 5 a.m.)

6 p.m. Encore Booknotes. For a segment that first aired in 1991, James Stewart, author of Den of Thieves (Touchstone, $17, 9780671792275/067179227X), discussed insider trading on Wall Street. (Re-airs Saturday, November 1, at 6 p.m.)

10 p.m. After Words. Robert Dreyfuss interviews Tariq Ali, author of The Duel: Pakistan on the Flight Path of American Power (Scribner, $26, 9781416561019/1416561013). Ali argues that the relationship between the U.S. and Pakistani governments ignores the interests of the Pakistani people. (Re-airs Sunday at 1:30 a.m., 6 p.m. and 9 p.m., and Monday at 3 a.m.)

Sunday, October 5

11 a.m. Joseph Farah, author of None of the Above: Why 2008 Is the Year to Cast the Ultimate Protest Vote (WND Books, $16.95, 9781935071013/1935071017), contends that the election of either John McCain or Barack Obama will lead to "a further loss of our freedoms." (Re-airs Sunday at 10 p.m. and Monday, October 20, at 1 a.m. and 6 a.m.)
12 p.m. In Depth. Historians Douglas Brinkley and Richard Norton Smith join Book TV for a live interview in which they will focus on the issues raised by the race between John McCain and Barack Obama and presidential campaign politics in general. Viewers can participate in the discussion by calling in during the program or e-mailing questions to (Re-airs Monday at 12 a.m.)
11 p.m. For an event hosted by Politics and Prose Bookstore, Washington, D.C., Dexter Filkins, author of The Forever War (Knopf, $25, 9780307266392/0307266397), talks about his coverage of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. (Re-airs Monday at 6 a.m.)


Books & Authors

Children's Book Review: A River of Words

A River of Words: The Story of William Carlos Williams by Jen Bryant, illustrated by Melissa Sweet (Eerdmans, $17, 978080285302/0802853021, 32 pp., ages 7-up, September)

Here is a picture-book biography of a poet to pore over, just as poetry demands us to pore over each line, each phrase, each rhyme (or nonrhyme). Do not be put off by this book's cover: the passion of both author and artist for their subject shine through on every page--in the pacing, in the layering of the compositions and, fittingly, in the carefully chosen details. "Like the other boys in Rutherford, New Jersey, Willie Williams loved to play baseball and to race his friends up and down the street," begins the story of William Carlos Williams. In emphasizing his nickname and interests, Bryant (The Trial) makes her subject accessible to any child. "But when the other boys went inside, Willie stayed outside. . . . In those days, just beyond town, there were still many wild places for Willie to explore." Author and artist subtly convey how essential these unstructured afternoons by the Passaic River would become in the shaping of Williams' close observations and ideas. When Willie grows older and "there [is] less time to wander through the woods and fields or to nap by the river," the poetry Mr. Abbott reads in English class provides a refuge for him ("The gentle sounds and shifting rhythms of the poems were like the music of the river").

Bryant depicts young Willie as a boy destined to become the poet who would describe the movements of a bird outside his window, the taste of a sweet plum from the icebox, the clangs, siren, howls and rumbling wheels of a red fire truck. Sweet (The Boy Who Drew Birds), through Willie's notebook entries and sketches, hints at his scientific leanings in her collage illustrations. It seems perfectly natural that Willie would decide to become a doctor. A point of tension arises from that decision, however: "Willie liked the idea of healing people and of providing for a family. But could he do both and still write poetry?" Yet Bryant and Sweet have set the stage for a man who has always relied upon the energy and inspiration he derives from the creation of his poetry ("No matter how many babies he delivered, no matter how many sick people he cured, Willie could not stop writing poems"). Rereadings offer additional gifts: Sweet pairs a portrait of Williams with fellow university students Ezra Pound, Hilda Doolittle, and the artist Charles Demuth opposite the text of the poet's ode to the fire truck in "The Great Figure," intermingled with the palette and elements from DeMuth's painting "I Saw the Figure 5 in Gold." Adults may well pick up on the hints, but children can discover the link in a triple timeline at the book's close (which correlates the poet's publication dates, personal milestones and world events). Williams' life becomes a model for children about just how much depends on that "red wheel barrow glazed with rain water beside the white chickens." While he was busy delivering babies and saving lives, this concise biography suggests, William Carlos Williams was also taking time out to make meaning of his own life.--Jennifer M. Brown


Deeper Understanding

Robert Gray: Fostering Connections at the MBA Trade Show

Making connections--to books, to customers, to colleagues--is the way of the book world, where we are at once fiercely independent and necessarily interdependent. Everywhere I looked last week at the Midwest Booksellers Association trade show in St. Paul, Minn., connections were being made.

Numbers tell only part of this story. MBA reported that more than 400 booksellers, representing 105 bookstores, attended, a slight increase over last year. Among the 82 exhibiting companies, 325 staff members showcased products for 500-plus publishers and vendors. Add in nearly 200 other attendees--librarians, publishers not exhibiting, media, guests as well as 134 authors--and you have nearly 1,000 book people gathering at the RiverFront Centre, all of them making connections.

Perhaps the most visible symbol of that word here was the popular and effective Midwest Connections program. According to MBA executive director Susan Walker, "Midwest Connections has evolved from its original role as MBA's regional marketing program. It has become the guiding principle which informs and links together all of our association's programs and initiatives in support of our members. Independent booksellers are focused on being connected--to our customers, our communities and to each other--and Midwest Connections is both a tool and an expression of this bond."

For booksellers who've never attended a trade show, "first connections" can also be one of the pleasurable side effects. Soon after my arrival at the RiverFront Centre Thursday, I met Randy and Char Stocker, who opened Great Debate Books, Quincy, Ill., earlier this year. It's a testament to the impact of regionals that, as I encountered the Stockers now and then during the weekend, they seemed to acquire the energized aura that comes, as we all know so well, from deep immersion in your first book show.

Connections were also in evidence at Thursday's education presentations and panels:

A "Green Retailing and Your Bookstore" seminar featured Lisa Baudoin of Books & Company, Oconomowoc, Wis., who recommended focusing on the "little things, individual things a bookstore can do, including the choices you make about your bags, about your lights and even about your sections to highlight certain kinds of books, like those on sustainability and environmental awareness." She encouraged the creation of "an eco-municipality, with all of the staff working together."

Chris Livingston of the Book Shelf, Winona, Minn., opened "Using 'Thought Leadership' Marketing to Build Your Store's Business" by suggesting that bookstores foster connections with their communities through focusing on areas of expertise--out-of-store book talks or shop local movements, for example--in an effort to "find ways to present yourself and your staff as experts and market the fact that you know what you're talking about. What it reaps for you in the future is standing in the community and recognition of who you are and what you do. Be reasonable, but be aggressive. And if you're an owner, realize that you're not the only one in your store who can do this."

During the "Bookseller Pick of the Lists" presentation, Sue Zumberge of Common Good Books, St. Paul, Minn., extolled the importance of making connections to readers through passionate handselling. Recommending Hands of My Father by Myron Uhlberg, she noted that "this is one of those books they might miss if we weren't out there telling them about it."

Authors were also making connections. At Friday's luncheon, David Mura (Famous Suicides of the Japanese Empire) held up a battered copy of No No Boy by John Okada, a key part of his research that he'd found in an independent bookstore. "This is the gift of indie bookstores, where you get the books that feed people," he said. "All of you are part of that preserving of the light of the word."

Later that night at the book and author dinner, Sarah Bagby of Watermark Books, Wichita, Kan., introduced Leif Enger (So Brave, Young, and Handsome) by saying, "It's such a pleasure to sell such great books."

Enger returned the compliment: "It's great to be among such kind, generous and talented people." Looking out over a dining room filled with booksellers, he added, "Ultimately, I think we all find ourselves in this place because it's just where we want to be."

And, finally, Enger offered an appropriately literary compliment: "Sometimes, your bookstore becomes like the Homesick Restaurant in Anne Tyler's novel. She brings the food out, and it's exactly what you needed."

The next-to-last conversation I had Saturday was with Susan Walker in the MBA's Midwest Connections booth. Surrounded by an array of handpicked-to-handsell titles--each displaying a sticker recommending it as "A Midwest Connections Pick"--she said, "Our theme year round is Midwest Connections. It's our purpose to facilitate that."

As I was leaving the exhibition floor for the final time, I happened to see Randy Stocker again, his grin offering just a hint of the story to come. He and Char had officially connected with their bookselling community.--Robert Gray (column archives available at Fresh Eyes Now)


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