Shelf Awareness for Thursday, January 22, 2009

Basic Books: What We Owe the Future by William Macaskill

Citadel Press: Tiny Buddha's Inner Strength Journal: Creative Prompts and Challenges to Help You Get Through Anything by Lori Deschene

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers: The Baby-Changing Station by Rhett Miller, illustrated by Dan Santat

Candlewick Press (MA): The Patron Thief of Bread by Lindsay Eagar

Farrar, Straus and Giroux (Byr): Don't Look Back: A Memoir of War, Survival, and My Journey from Sudan to America by Achut Deng and Keely Hutton

Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers: A Wilderness of Stars by Shea Ernshaw

Mandala Publishing: The Journey: Big Panda and Tiny Dragon by James Norbury

Simon & Schuster: Defend Banned Books


E-books and Bookstores: Two Electronic Missives

Elizabeth Burton, executive editor of Zumaya Publications, writes:

To respond to the complaint about the Kindle version of a book being available before the print one, this is standard marketing procedure for any publisher who offers e-books. You release the e-version first to stimulate buzz and, hopefully, sales for the print version. Some even offer the e-book in one or more formats a month or so prior to the print book's release for this purpose.

E-book readers come in two flavors: those who will read the e-book in preference to the printed book and those who will read the e-book, then if they really like the book, will purchase the print version. I'll also point out that the Kindle version is, as it should be, less expensive than the hardcover. Not everyone has the kind of income that allows them to purchase all hardcovers at full price.


Jeff Rutherford of Jeff Rutherford Media Relations writes:

With e-books, and especially the Amazon Kindle, the barrier for instant gratification has plummeted. If I hear about a bestseller or backlist title, I can order it and have it delivered within seconds. I hope that independents don't lose out on the e-book phenomenon. As much as I love printed books, the increase in e-books is inevitable. While Amazon Kindle remains tied to Amazon, why aren't independents courting Sony for the Sony Reader, Fictionwise or the many iPhone e-book companies?

Scannable barcode technology is available on most smartphones these days. Why not develop a relationship so that a customer in your independent store could scan a barcode on a book and order the e-book immediately from one of these companies? Or better yet, there are numerous Asian electronic companies working on their own e-book reader devices. Why doesn't the ABA partner with one of those companies to offer an ABA-independent bookstore branded device? When users register their devices, they plug in their favorite locally-owned bookstore and the store receives a small cut from any book that customers purchase on the device.

Sure, there are technology hurdles in the various scenarios I just outlined, but those can be solved. I'd hate for independent bookstores to miss out on the rise of e-books because of a lack of vision or risk taking.


G.P. Putnam's Sons: Before I Do by Sophie Cousens


Notes: Buyers for Butterfly; Renovations and Reopenings

Butterfly Books, DePere, Wis., has found buyers and will not close after all, according to the Green Bay Press-Gazette. Amy and Patrick VandenPlas are buying the children's bookstore from Mark and Barbara Wilson, who are moving to Utah because of a job transfer for Mark Wilson.

On Saturday, the new owners are closing the store for a week to clean, rearrange and restock it. (Inventory is low because the Wilsons had believed they would close the store this month.) Butterfly will open its wings again on Saturday, January 31. All employees are staying on.


Renovations at the Brown Bookstore, Providence, R.I., are nearly complete, the Brown Daily Herald reported. The changes include a new cafe, a seating area, the addition of flat-screen TVs and the moving of several sections. The College Hill Cafe, run by Blue State Coffee, should begin serving customers by the end of this week and will stay open later than the rest of the store, offering musical performances, poetry readings and other events in the evenings.

Bookstore director Manuel Cunard told the paper that the goal of the renovation is "to make the bookstore more useful and welcoming to Brown and the community at large."


What can only be called a love letter to a bookshop was posted at Desicritics to celebrate the reopening Friday of Landmark bookstore, Mumbai, India, which had been closed for three months following a fire in the mall where it is located.

"I'm irrationally excited over this," IdeaSmith wrote in her celebratory post, adding, "In these past three months, I've visited two countries, been in love and out of it, borne two deaths, had my sense of stability shaken by the terror attacks, discarded a friendship, renewed a few, acquired some more. I haven't had that haven that Zen calls 'the place of stillness' through all this. My friends have made babies, celebrated wedding anniversaries, had birthdays, returned to India after years. And I haven't been able to greet them with my choice of gift--a book specially chosen for the person and the occasion. Yes, I've missed Landmark so much. Friday, reunion!"


The Great American Book Show, which originated as the Christmas Book Show held annually during the summer in Nashville, Tenn., and then moved to Atlanta, Ga., after its purchase by Larry and Valerie May, is moving this year to Boston, Mass., and will be held Fri.-Sat., August 21-22, at the Hynes Convention Center.

In his Bargain Book News, Larry May said that Boston is an attractive site for the show because "the Northeast region is full of independent bookstores and they are geographically concentrated in a much smaller area than those in the Southeast," because Boston is not far from New York, making the show "easily accessible to the big buyers and the internationals," and because Boston is near "two of the largest bargain book vendors in the nation--Strictly by the Book and World Publications."


Borders Group and Pershing Square Capital Management, the hedge fund that is the single-largest shareholder of Borders, have changed the April 9, 2008 agreement under which Borders can require Pershing Square to buy Borders's U.K. businesses, which consist of Paperchase gifts and stationery and a minority interest in the company that owns Borders stores in the U.K. and Ireland, according to an SEC filing.

The earlier agreement required Pershing Square to acquire "substantially all" of the shares of Paperchase and the bookstore operation. Now it requires Pershing to acquire "all of the shares." The reason? To simplify implementation of the deal if it occurs. The price for the deal remains $65 million.


The American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression headline says it all: "booksellers celebrate" the Supreme Court's decision on Tuesday not to review a lower court ruling that struck down the Child Online Protection Act, passed by Congress in 1998 and fought by ABFFE, the Media Coalition, Powell's Books, A Different Light bookstores and others ever since.

"It was a long wait, but it was worth it," ABFFE president Chris Finan said in a statement. "The death of COPA means that Americans will continue to enjoy unfettered access to the Internet."

COPA would have prohibited the display of material "harmful to minors" on commercial websites. Similar laws, most of which have also been struck down, were passed by nine states.

As ABFFE noted, "Booksellers feared that the display of sexual content on their Web sites, whether in the form of jacket art or book excerpts, could subject them to prosecution. Powell's Web site lists some books that contain sexually explicit material as well as books with sexually suggestive titles. A Different Light Bookstores, a gay and lesbian bookstore, expressed the concern that all of its Web content might be considered as 'harmful to minors' in some communities."


Kathy L. Patrick, the inimitable founder of Beauty and the Book, Jefferson, Tex., and the Pulpwood Queens, has photos from the Pulpwood Queen Girlfriend Weekend Author Extravaganza 2009 Great Big Ball of Hair Ball, held last weekend. See the fun and wildness here or here.


The Washingtonian asks two "Washingtonian favorites," Carla Cohen and Barbara Meade, owners of Politics and Prose, a range of questions, including their favorite authors, fondest memories of bookselling, how many books they read a month and how they choose them, and more.

One question: Must-have item at all times? Cohen answered, "The New Yorker." Meade answered, "My mind."


The Brooklyn Eagle's "Bay Ridge Beat" noted, "In this town of booklovers, we have but one store to purchase our beloved tomes. We had two the other day. Now our only link to the writing world is the BookMark Shoppe." The Eagle praised owners Bina Valenzano and Christine Freglette Terzulli for being "very community-minded, and involved in many Bay Ridge events."


Random House has appointed publishing group sales directors for each of the three adult publishing divisions that were formed early this month when the five divisions were merged into three.

In these new positions, the group sales directors will be responsible for developing and implementing plans to achieve the groups' overall sales targets and build "increasingly collaborative and entrepreneurial relationships and work processes with our publishers, customers and the adult sales teams," Jaci Updike, senior v-p and director of Random House adult sales, wrote in an e-mail about the changes. The three will also aim to "forge a more market-focused culture company, which is essential to our future." The group sales directors report to Updike. The imprint sales directors will report to the new group sales directors, who are:

  • Amanda Close, v-p, group sales director, of Crown Publishing Group. She has been v-p, online and digital sales director, since 2007 and joined the company in 2003.
  • Janet Cooke, v-p, group sales director, Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. She was formerly v-p, and director of sales for the Doubleday Publishing Group, Bantam Dell Publishing Group and the Monacelli Press.
  • Cynthia Lasky, senior v-p, group sales director, for the Random House Publishing Group. She was formerly senior v-p, sales and marketing director, of the Bantam Dell Publishing Group.


Disney-Hyperion: Drizzle, Dreams, and Lovestruck Things by Maya Prasad

Image of the Day: BookMark Makes a Mark in Community Service

In reaction to Barack Obama's call for a national day of service, the BookMark, Atlantic Beach, Fla., and the Harbour Book Club, a local book group, held a book drive last Friday and Saturday during which people were asked to recycle their libraries. An estimated 2,000 books arrived, all of which are being donated to Gateway Community Services in Jacksonville to help establish a library. In the photo, two Harbour Book Club volunteers tackle boxes of books.


G.P. Putnam's Sons: All I Want for Christmas by Maggie Knox

Obituary Note: Stanley Fisher

Stanley Fisher, a psychologist, author and husband of Esther Margolis, president and publisher of Newmarket Press, died on Tuesday of lung cancer after a short illness, Newmarket announced. He was 81.

Dr. Fisher was a proponent of self-hypnosis in preparation for surgery, and results of his collaborative studies were published in the Journal of Cardiovascular Surgery and the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. His book Discovering the Power of Self-Hypnosis was first published by HarperCollins in 1991 and in a revised edition by Newmarket in 2000.

A memorial service will be held in New York City next month. Contributions can be made to the student scholarship fund being established in his memory. For details, call 212-832-3575, ext. 17, or e-mail


Media and Movies

Media Heat: Greg Mortenson and Daughter on Today

This morning on the Today Show: Greg Mortenson and his daughter, Amira, discuss the Young Readers edition of Three Cups of Tea: One Man's Journey to Change the World . . . One Child at a Time (Puffin, $8.99, 9780142414125/0142414123).


Tomorrow night on 20/20: Ben Sherwood, author of The Survivors Club: The Secrets and Science that Could Save Your Life (Grand Central Publishing, $25.99, 9780446580243/0446580244).


WETA's Author, Author! has posted two interviews this week:

  • Stephen Hess, author of What Do We Do Now? A Workbook for the President-Elect (Brookings Institution Press, $16.95, 9780815736554/081573655X).
  • Susan McCorkindale, author of Confessions of a Counterfeit Farm Girl (NAL, $15, 9780451224934/0451224930).



This Weekend on Book TV: The Inheritance

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, January 24

8 a.m. At an event hosted by Politics and Prose Bookstore, Washington, D.C., Marion Nestle, author of Pet Food Politics: The Chihuahua in the Coal Mine (University of California Press, $18.95, 9780520257818/0520257812), talks about the 2007 pet food scare that led to congressional hearings and the largest recall of consumer products in U.S. history. (Re-airs Sunday at 4 a.m.)
7 p.m. Robert Samuelson, author of The Great Inflation and Its Aftermath (Random House, $26, 9780375505485/0375505482), discusses the rise in inflation from 1960 to 1979 and its impact on the country today.

10 p.m. After Words. Bob Deans, national correspondent for Cox Newspapers, interviews David Sanger, author of The Inheritance: The World Obama Confronts and the Challenges to American Power (Harmony, $26.95, 9780307407924/0307407926). (Re-airs Sunday at 6 p.m. and 9 p.m., Monday at 12 a.m. and Sunday, February 1, at 11 a.m.)
Sunday, January 25

7 a.m. At an event hosted by the University Bookstore, Seattle, Wash., Van Jones, author of The Green Collar Economy: How One Solution Can Fix Our Two Biggest Problems (HarperOne, $25.99, 9780061650758/0061650757), presents a plan to help the economy and the environment as well as provide jobs. (Re-airs Sunday at 8 p.m.)

7 p.m. Stephen Baker, author of The Numerati (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $26, 9780618784608/0618784608), talks about a group of mathematicians and computer scientists who analyze our daily activities with the goal of manipulating our behavior. (Re-airs Monday at 7 a.m.)
11 p.m. At an event hosted by Vroman's Bookstore, Pasadena, Calif., Representatives Linda Sanchez and Loretta Sanchez, discuss their book, Dream in Color: How the Sanchez Sisters Are Making History in Congress (Grand Central Publishing, $12.99, 9780446508049/0446508047). (Re-airs Monday at 3 a.m.)


Movies: Revolutionary Road Too Good for Film?

Is Richard Yates's Revolutionary Road "too good a novel to make a great film," asked Nick Laird in a perceptive Guardian essay that concluded, "As a boy Yates himself was a cinephile (the films of the 30s gave him 'an awful lot of cheap story material and a good place to hide'), and though he later wrote the screenplay for William Styron's Lie Down in Darkness (it was never filmed), he would gruffly repeat to his daughters that 'movies are for children.' Rereading Revolutionary Road, where no cliché is utilised and no short-cuts to meaning are taken, it's difficult not to agree."


Books & Authors

Children's Book Review: A Book

A Book by Mordicai Gerstein (Roaring Brook, $16.95, 9781596432512/1596432519, 48 pp., ages 4-8, April 2009)

The cover hints at the key to this clever, inventive picture book, with its aerial, almost three-dimensional view of a group of characters scurrying diagonally across the title. In his Caldecott-winning The Man Who Walked Between the Towers, Gerstein ingeniously played with perspective, creating vertical images of the World Trade Center buildings that required readers to rotate the pages, and built suspense with horizontal time-lapse, cartoon-like panels. But here the author-artist breaks the fourth wall entirely, making readers participants in A Book. He introduces a father, mother, girl and boy, and some pets. "When the book was closed it was night in the book, and the family slept." A turn of the page reveals the morning activities of the family (waking, brushing teeth) and their pets (yawning, stretching, licking their boy and girl), viewed from above. At the breakfast table, the girl asks, "I know we live in a book, but what is our story?" Each member of the family (including the cat, dog and goldfish) tells his or her individual subplot ("Why, it's the story of a loving father who is a hardworking circus clown," says her dad), then races off to fulfill it. The girl alone remains: "Everyone has a story but me. What's my story!" she thinks. "And off went the girl to the next page." A goose explains about readers ("Look up," says the fowl, then later lays a golden egg). Children will delight in identifying characters from Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Alice in Wonderland and the like, as the heroine tries out various genres to figure out if her story is a fairy tale, mystery or high-seas adventure (among others). The gratifying ending proves that the heroine was in charge of shaping her own story all along. More seasoned readers will be inspired to rethink what a book is (pun intended), how it works, and their own part in bringing it to life. This is A Book to savor.--Jennifer M. Brown


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