Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Margaret K. McElderry Books: Vespertine by Margaret Rogerson

Henry Holt & Company: Mihi Ever After (Mihi Ever After #1) by Tae Keller, illustrated by Geraldine Rodríguez

Berkley Books: River Sing Me Home by Eleanor Shearer

Oxford University Press, USA: The World According to Proust by Joshua Landy

Chronicle Chroma: Bob Willoughby: A Cinematic Life by Bob Willoughby

Charlesbridge Publishing: Forever Cousins by Laurel Goodluck, illustrated by Jonathan Nelson

Tor Teen: The Luminaries by Susan Dennard


Notes: Store Changes; Stores Geared to Women and Families

Pipe Dream, Binghamton, N.Y., University's student-run newspaper, welcomed "River Read Books, a new independent bookstore that offers students and residents alike a more intimate alternative to larger chain stores."

Connie Barnes, one of three women who own the downtown bookshop and herself a Penguin sales rep, said, "We've always been a big part of the community. Now it's time for us to create this oasis in Binghamton. . . . We would like to be part of the movement that gets people back into the city, walking around Downtown. We're happy to be able to introduce people to the city.”


In an e-mail letter sent to "all loyal supporters" yesterday, John Lippman, co-owner of Stockbridge Booksellers, Stockbridge, Mass., wrote "It is with a heavy heart that I make official what many of you have heard as rumor for the last few weeks. Stockbridge Booksellers will be closing our doors at the end of November.

"We had hoped and still hope that someone or group of someones will want to continue this integral part of the Berkshire literary scene. However as of the date of this writing this has not happened. Please contact us soon if you or someone you know would want to help serve your community and run a great business at the same time in this way."


Angus & Robertson, whose parent company is the new owner of Borders stores in the South Pacific, has launched two stores in Melbourne, Australia, geared to women and families, Bookseller and Publisher Online reported.

The stores have four "lifestyle zones": My Self, My Family, My Home, My World. "We have moved from subject-based categories to a lifestyle store navigation with a layout that is closer in line with the books the customer wants," managing director David Fenlon said.

Marketing director Charlie Rimmer added, "We've got 'kids imagination,' 'kids education'--we think they're more relevant than hierarchies given to us previously [by publishers]. We've redefined the category hierarchy and used customer language rather than book language--and tried to buy the product that customers in these stores want."

And retail specialist Steve Kulmar, who worked with A&R on the project, told Inside Retailing that "the stores were designed to change the way customers shopped. 'Traditionally, people would not browse,' he said. 'They would come into the store, buy what they wanted, and leave. We're trying to say 'relax, take it easy, this is your bookstore and we've laid it out for you.' "


J.K. Rowling will help launch The Tales of Beedle the Bard by hosting a tea party for Edinburgh school children "at the National Library of Scotland, where Rowling will read extracts from the book," the Guardian reported, adding that "Rowling has waived her royalties for the book, with net proceeds from the sale to go to the charity she co-founded, the Children's High Level Group, which works with vulnerable children in eastern Europe."

"Hundreds of thousands of vulnerable children in eastern Europe are living in appalling conditions in large, residential institutions," she said. "Contrary to popular belief, fewer than 4% of them are orphans, but are in care because they are considered disabled or their families are poor or from ethnic minorities. The charity is publishing The Tales of Beedle the Bard to raise money to fund our work in helping these children out of institutions and in to loving families or community care homes.


The Book of Bunny Suicides by Andy Riley will not be returned to the Central Linn High School library in Halsey, Ore., any time soon. The Associated Press (via the Seattle Post-Intelligencer) reported that Taffey Anderson said the book "is not appropriate for anyone, but especially children. She inspected the book her 13-year-old son checked out of the library, and what she saw convinced her to never return it."


Scribe Us: Our Members Be Unlimited: A Comic about Workers and Their Unions by Sam Wallman

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Gurbaksh Chahal on Oprah

Today on Fresh Air: Steve Martin, whose memoir, Born Standing Up: A Comic's Life (Scribner, $15, 9781416553656/1416553657), is now out in paperback.


Today on Talk of the Nation: Roy Blount, Jr., whose new book is Alphabet Juice: The Energies, Gists, and Spirits of Letters, Words, and Combinations Thereof; Their Roots, Bones, Innards, Piths, Pips, and Secret Parts, . . . With Examples of Their Usage Foul and Savory (FSG, $25, 9780374103699/0374103690).


Tomorrow on the Diane Rehm Show: Cherie Blair, author of Speaking for Myself: My Life from Liverpool to Downing Street (Little, Brown, $30, 9780316031455/0316031453).


Tomorrow on KCRW's Bookworm: James Wood, author of How Fiction Works (FSG, $24, 9780374173401/0374173400). As the show put it: "This conversation is characterized by indirection. Critic James Wood seems to be responding to accusations made against him by other reviewers. The ever-polite Bookworm gently interrogates, and the vast terrain of fiction is traversed. Wood believes (famously) in realism. He is (famously) against nihilism. The ever-polite Bookworm declines comment."


Tomorrow on Oprah: Gurbaksh Chahal, author of The Dream: How I Learned the Risks and Rewards of Entrepreneurship and Made Millions (Palgrave Macmillan, $24.95, 9780230610958/0230610951).


Flyaway Books: The Coat by Séverine Vidal, illustrated by Louis Thomas

Books & Authors

A Very Merry Michael Storrings

St. Martin's art director Michael Storrings's first book, A Very New York Christmas (St. Martin's, $19.95, 9780312377052/0312377053), published this month, celebrates the Big Apple at its Yuletide best, but its origins rest in the City of Lights.

While on a two-week vacation in France, Storrings kept a journal, "drawing constantly from Paris to Provence," he told Shelf Awareness. "It turned into a collage narrative." When he returned to New York, he began doing similar collage treatments for his favorite spots in the five boroughs. He also started licensing those images for T-shirts and art prints. Jo Ellen Krasnobrod at Landmark Creations discovered Storrings's work and asked if he would like to collaborate on a line of Christmas ornaments. The paintings he created for the ornaments eventually became the backbone for A Very New York Christmas.

In 2003, Storrings and Landmark began selling the first four ornaments--Brooklyn Bridge, Washington Square, Greenwich Village and Little Italy. This year, for their fifth anniversary, they decided to "spice up" the original ornaments and add elements that Storrings included in his illustrations for the book. He cited an example in the rendering of the Brooklyn Bridge, for which the surrounding sky was originally light blue. For the 2008 version, the ornament borrows the image Storrings used in the book, which has a darkened sky and festive lights on the bridge.

For each ball, Storrings first creates a watercolor painting, which is then hand-rendered by a painter in Poland, where the ornament is produced. "I position and angle elements in a way that gives the painter in Poland instructions on how to place [them] on the circular ball," Storrings said. The illustration for the Nutcracker ballet, for instance, focuses on the stage itself, but he also plants details, such as a violin positioned below the audience and hard candies orbiting the stage like round piñatas, that nicely fill out the spherical shape of the ornament (which appears in a photograph, opposite the painting). "Each ornament is painted freehand, so it's like buying a one-of-a-kind mini-painting," he said, which contributes to the collectible quality and price. In one season, only 100-300 of any one ornament are produced, and each retails at around $140.

A native of Syracuse, N.Y., Storrings fell in love with Manhattan on a field trip with his high school art teacher, who was from Brooklyn. He came to New York for college in 1982 and never left. The places he features on his ornaments all hold special meaning for him, according to Storrings, but none more than Central Park. With more freedom to use complete spreads for his artwork in the book, Storrings explores much that the park offers: the clock tower, a carriage ride, the Alice in Wonderland statue, the Imagine circle (dedicated to John Lennon), and--the detail he features on the ornament--"skating on Wollman Rink while surrounded by all of these skyscrapers," Storrings said. "To me it is a quintessential image of a New York Christmas for tourists and for people who live here." (That's why he chose that as the cover image.) He also honored his grandfather in one landmark: "The Statue of Liberty ball was inspired by my grandfather who came through Ellis Island," Storrings said. "On the ball you can see him and his parents with suitcases." He spread the wealth among the five boroughs, too: "It would not be a New York Christmas without going to the train show [at the New York Botanical Garden] in the Bronx or a candlelight tour in Historic Richmond Town on Staten Island."

The book allows Storrings to include some anecdotes about landmarks (the very first Rockefeller Center tree, for instance, was installed in 1931 while the complex was under construction during the Great Depression, and workers received their paychecks in front of the tree on Christmas Eve), as well as quotations from famous New Yorkers. One example: "I knew that I wanted to use an e.e. cummings quote on the Greenwich Village page because I wanted to feature his home on Patchin Place," Storrings said. After he selected the poem "little tree," he made sure to put an evergreen in the window that matched the description in cummings's poem. He conducted his research, naturally, at the New York Public Library, whose welcoming lions at the entrance feature prominently on the Fifth Avenue ornament.

In the spirit of the season, Storrings has created a New Orleans ornament to help benefit the rebuilding of New Orleans, and all his royalties for his A Very New York Christmas Cocoa Vendor ornament will go to help Hope Lodge in New York City, which offers free, temporary housing for cancer patients undergoing treatment. "Christmas," he said, "is all about the possibility that dreams can happen, and you wish for things beyond yourself, hoping they can come true."--Jennifer M. Brown


PNBA Holiday Catalog 2022

Book Review

Book Review: Reputation

Reputation: Portraits in Power by Marjorie Williams (PublicAffairs, $26.95 Hardcover, 9781586486792, November 2008)

Marjorie Williams's writing displays the effortless grace of Tiger Woods's golf swing. Sadly her death from cancer in 2005 at the age of 47 cut short a stellar career. Now her husband, writer Timothy Noah, has assembled 12 of her sparkling political profiles as a welcome companion to an earlier collection, The Woman at the Washington Zoo. It's impossible to read these insightful portraits without mingled feelings of admiration and loss.

Williams's profiles, most of them written for Vanity Fair and the Washington Post, cover the period from 1987 through 2001. In that span, we fought a Middle East war measured in weeks. We celebrated the dot-com boom (and endured its bust) and the first blush of the real estate bubble now popping spectacularly before our eyes. We thought we had no concern more pressing than the president's sex life. From a president (George H. W. Bush) to Cabinet secretaries current and future (James Baker and Colin Powell), to political operatives like the squabbling principals of "Tristan & Isolde, LLC," Mary Matalin and James Carville, as Williams slyly dubs them, she offers up a striking set of Washington insiders who proudly strutted their hour on the stage during that decade and a half.

Although some may be tempted to pass over this collection for more contemporary fare, there's an uncanny prescience reflected in Williams's treatment of subjects who appear in these pages. She writes unsparingly, for example, about the late Lee Atwater, architect of Bush 41's victory in 1988 and the man whose Willie Horton ads injected a virus into our body politic that infects it to this day. Her searing indictment of the economic policy failures that ushered out the first Bush presidency in the midst of a recession ("And now that the lie is crumbling, there is something dishonest about our insistence on blaming the liar.") is chillingly relevant today.

Reputation's reach goes beyond these political types; the book has its share of lighter pieces. There's an amusing portrait of Larry King, the "Mayor of Celebrityville," whose avuncular image takes a few dents at Williams's hands. Most readers won't immediately recognize the name Patricia Duff, but the story of this unabashed social climber's epic child custody battle with billionaire Ronald Perelman is sketched with an arch wit.

Marjorie Williams has given us an album of elegant snapshots of Washington power players from an era that seems somehow both distant and close at hand. When historians chronicle that time, they'll be grateful a writer whose perception was so discerning and whose prose was so exquisite was there to observe it.--Harvey Freedenberg

Shelf Talker: A skilled political journalist offers an indelible collection of portraits of Washington insiders whose careers were at the center of public life in the last decade of the 20th century.



Lightning Source Lightning Correction

In our coverage yesterday of a presentation at the International Supply Chain Specialists meeting in Frankfurt last week, by mistake we used, as the group might put it, the wrong identifier for the president of Ingram's Lightning Source. He is David Taylor, not David Young. Our apologies!


Deeper Understanding

Notes from Frankfurt, Part Two

We had intended to travel light on the trade show floor--four days of walking with a gradually filling shoulder bag tightens the back quickly. But we did pick up one galley, The Journal of Hélène Berr, the diary kept from 1942 to 1944 by a French Jewish woman who studied English at the Sorbonne and is a bestseller in France since its publication earlier this year. (Although some members of her family survived, Berr and her parents did not.) The book, which we read on the flight back, was as gripping as we expected.

Like other diaries kept contemporaneously by Jews in Germany or countries occupied by the Nazis, The Journal of Hélène Berr is simultaneously uplifting and tragic--love and humanity keep people going even as the full scale of the Holocaust slowly and inexorably becomes apparent to them and catches them up in its horror. The work is reminiscent of Anne Frank's Diary but even more so of Victor Klemperer's I Will Bear Witness. As Berr wrote in one passage of the Journal: "I have a duty to write because other people must know. . . . How will humanity ever be healed unless all its rottenness is exposed? . . . If only you could manage to make bad men understand the evil they are doing, if only you could give them that total and impartial vision which ought to be the glory of humankind!" Berr was so obviously a vibrant, passionate, intelligent, moral person; her early death is a tremendous loss.

Weinstein Books is publishing the title here November 11 with a 35,000 first printing. The author's niece, Mariette Job, who was instrumental in publishing the diary, is doing publicity in the U.S. Among other events, on November 19, David Bellos, the book's English-language translator, will interview Job at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York City.

Incidentally in early November the Museum opens an exhibition called Woman of Letters: Irène Némirovsky and Suite Française, which we mentioned here last week. (Némirovsky's novellas take place from 1940 to 1941; Berr started her diary just months before Némirovsky was sent to Auschwitz.) That exhibition, which includes the manuscript, photographs, correspondence and more, is based on Woman of Letters: Irène Némirovsky and Suite Française edited by Olivier Corpet and Garrett White, from Five Ties Publishing, distributed by Consortium, co-published with the Museum.


We chatted a bit with Richard Cohn, a founder of Beyond Words, who sounded still in awe of the house's "life-changing" experience publishing The Secret by Rhonda Byrne in November 2006. "We were an overnight success 23 years in the making," he said.

At the height of The Secret's sales, Cohn worked "18-20 hours a day for three months," he said. "We had eight incoming lines. There was always someone on every line, and three calls were going to voice mail."

The Secret was the first title published after Beyond Words began to be distributed by Simon & Schuster, which was well-timed for both parties. In Beyond Words's case, S&S "put up all the money" the house needed to reprint the book, something "we couldn't have done on our own."

Cohn called Byrne "a wonderful editor and author." When Cohn phoned her to see about possibly publishing a book after she made the well-received movie, she said, "I've been waiting for your call." She had talked with several other houses, she explained, but "they weren't right."

One of the greatest joys of publishing The Secret, Cohn said, was knowing that "the information you're putting out is touching so many people's lives."

Among new titles that Cohn says are touching lives are The Complete Vision Board Kit: Using the Power of Intention and Visualization to Achieve Your Dreams, a book with DVD, by John Assaraf, who appeared in The Secret. Readers can use the vision board to help imagine and achieve the future. Cohn said he uses a vision board every year and does it as a group with his wife and others.

The other title is Spiritual Liberation: Fulfilling Your Soul's Potential by Michael Beckwith--who was also featured in The Secret--which is "meant to be read a chapter at a time and reflected on." The book will be published next month.


In signs of the increasing globalization of the book world, several U.S. distributors reported some unusual trends and initiatives.

Diamond Book Distributors has garnered a nice business selling English-language versions of graphic novels originally translated from Japanese and Korean back to Japan and Korea. "People use them to learn and improve their English," Scott Hatfill, director of international sales, said. "In many cases, they're already familiar with the material, which makes it easier to pick up English."

Independent Publishers Group is not only distributing Canadian publishers in the U.S. but is selling more Canadian houses in Canada. One example: ECW Press, Toronto.

In addition, IPG's Trafalgar Square Publishing is taking its business model--buying titles on a nonreturnable basis from U.K. publishers for sale in the U.S.--and applying it to Australia. Among participants: Allen & Unwin and Hardie Grant. Trafalgar Square ships books weekly from the U.K. and plans on a monthly shipment from Australia.


Among comments heard at random:

In the down economy, many publishers' first move will be to "dump the trailers."

Michael Tamblyn of BookNet Canada quoted Stephen King in Pet Semetary with this advice concerning long-running, slow-moving favorite projects--"words that should be remember by all in IT"--"sometimes dead is better."--John Mutter


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