Shelf Awareness for Friday, January 23, 2009

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

Quotation of the Day

Indies: 'Season May be Changing'

"It's evolution. I don't think the sky's falling; the season may be changing."--Gary Lawless, co-owner of Gulf of Maine Books, Brunswick, in a Working Waterfront article on the challenges indie bookstores face.


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


Booksellers to Publishers: What About Those Prices and Costs?

Liz Murphy, owner of the Learned Owl Book Shop, Hudson, Ohio, writes:

The last line of Elizabeth Burton's comment yesterday in Shelf Awareness about the timing of e-books and hardcovers ("Not everyone has the kind of income that allows them to purchase all hardcovers at full price") reminded me of a message that I thought of sending to all publishers as I plowed through a pile of spring and summer catalogues last weekend.
Traditionally most books have been printed in hardcover first. I've heard that part of the reason is to garner reviews and capture the library market. The time has come for this to change. Most people no longer have the kind of income necessary to purchase hardcovers. I marked at least 10 books in one set of catalogues that will be great paperbacks, but will not sell in hardcover--the kinds of books that are chosen for book clubs and most chick-lit are obvious examples, but why not most nonfiction and history also?
Why not simultaneously release the vast majority of books with a small hardcover print run and a large paperback release? People who want to continue collecting hardcovers for their libraries may do so, but the rest of the population will have access to the more affordable paperbacks in a much more timely manner--when all the buzz is out there.
An immediate response will be that publishers can't afford to lose all those hardcover sales. Talk to your sales reps about the orders they are getting this spring before discarding this suggestion.


Susan L. Weis, proprietress of breathe books, Baltimore, Md., writes:

How to waste money in this economy, let me count the ways . . .

My FedEx guy just came in with a big bubble envelope shipped FedEx Ground. I open it up, and it's a tiny stack of maybe 20 bookmarks promoting one book. That's it. No book. No paperwork. No nothing. Just a huge waste of money and time and a huge carbon footprint.

The FedEx Air guy came in with a very heavy box this morning. Must be something very special to send it FedEx Air! I eagerly opened the package. Bookmarks and promotional material from another publisher for events that are happening nowhere near Baltimore. FedEx Air! Air! The waste! It's not even timely material. Sending it from the post office would have been just fine.

I've heard of all kinds of problems. 10 copies of the same ARC arriving at a bookstore throughout the month. A giant poster for a book booksellers have no intention of selling. Catalogues for sports books sent to a children's bookstore.

We all need to work together to stop this waste and maybe give jobs back to a few people who have been laid off.


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


Notes: Presidential Tie-ins; Marley & Moravian; Store Changes

Cool Inaugural idea of the day: Beehive Books, Delaware, Ohio, is hosting 44 days of speeches by American presidents. According to the Delaware News, "Each day at noon, members of the community are invited to speak or listen to the words of each president, read by members of the community. The series began Sunday, Jan. 18, with George Washington and will lead up to Obama on March 2."

The News reported that Beehive Books co-owner Mel Corroto hasn't had a problem getting people to participate: "While some presidents such as Richard Nixon and John Tyler have been overlooked so far, multiple community members have signed up to speak for Lincoln, John F. Kennedy, James Buchanan and Dwight D. Eisenhower. Speakers are asked to select a passage to read from a letter or speech of the president and provide any other information they choose."


The Occidental College Bookstore, Los Angeles, Calif., highlighted its connection to President Obama--who spent his first two years of college at Occidental--by creating a line of clothing and other products commemorating the new president, according to NACS's Campus Marketplace.

The line includes 11 T-shirt designs, a hoodie, a coffee mug, a key ring and Obama books and DVD of his days at Occidental. The most popular item: baby diaper covers in black and white with the logo "Change We Need" across the backside.


To accommodate the many requests he receives for autographed copies of his books, particularly Marley & Me, John Grogan has agreed to make the Moravian Book Shop, Bethlehem, Pa., the exclusive carrier of autographed copies of his oeuvre, the Allentown Morning Call reported.

''It's a perfect marriage,'' Dana DeVito, the bookstore's general manager, told the paper. ''We do what we do best. He does what he does best. It's a great home for Marley.''

The store doesn't charge extra for the service, which is featured on the store's website.


"It's a cultural haven of art and books, and [the way] it's set up, it's very warm" is how Gilda Rogers, owner of Frank Talk Art Bistro & Books, Red Bank, N.J.. described her new shop in a Hub profile. "The environment is comfortable and intimate, so it lends itself to people coming in and engaging in conversations, probably with strangers, which makes it different than going to a Barnes & Noble or a Borders because [they're] so massive."

Rogers added that although business has been "tepid" thus far because she opened quite recently, she is "very optimistic. I've started to have repeat customers. It gives me hope there's something in here they like if they're coming back again and again. Once people really know that it's here, things will get revved up."


Life and business go on after the closing of B. Dalton Bookseller at Washington Square Mall, Indianapolis, Ind. The Star reported that "independent used-book dealers in the area say they aren't planning any immediate response to the loss of that competitor, but they are confident they're ready to help fill the gap."

The Star noted that Joanna Zaphiriou, co-owner of the Sleepy Hollow Store, Irvington, did not see the closing as unqualified good news: "New- and used-book stores often create a symbiotic relationship and that is not a bad thing because customers have a place where they can sell their books after they have read them," she said. "It's sad that B. Dalton is leaving, and it gives off a definite stigma that people on the Eastside don't read, and that is just not true."


For those who resolved this year to read more books, the Sacramento Bee offered a guide to bookstores in the California capital. As the paper so nicely noted, "The bookstore is a meditative place full of wonders to discover, and it's a lot cheaper than therapy."


The San Francisco Chronicle had an article and a video featuring kids reading their work from Thanks and Have Fun Running the Country, a new book that "has many contributions by local students who attend 826 Valencia [writing and tutoring center] after school."

The title of the book came from a letter by 13-year-old Yoselin Martinez of San Francisco, who wrote, "My neighbors think that I am just another Latino that is going to ruin her life. But they are so wrong. I want to go to great high schools. I want to graduate from college and show my mom that I worked my butt off."

Martinez said she hopes to be a writer when she grows up, but "I didn't think I'd be in a book so soon."


Thomas Gladysz, longtime events coordinator at the Booksmith, San Francisco, Calif., is leaving the Haight-Ashbury store, effective next Tuesday, January 27.
Gladysz has worked at the Booksmith for more than 21 years, and during the past 10 years running the events program, he set up, promoted and hosted nearly 1,000 author events, including appearances by Allen Ginsberg, Czeslaw Milosz, Neil Young, Patti Smith and many more.

Gladysz has contributed to American Bookseller and Bookselling This Week and was a board member of the Northern California Independent Booksellers Association as well as a member of the Booksellers Advisory Board of the Paris Review.

He may be reached at


Because of "the recent heavy economic downtown," Russ Marshalek's position as marketing and publicity director of Wordsmiths Books, Decatur, Ga., is being eliminated, effective in March. Marshalek plans to move to New York and is looking for freelance or full-time work. He is continuing as a freelance writer and publicist at RussCommunications and doing pubicity for Anointed by Zach Steele, a February Mercury Retrograde Press title. He may be reached at


PNBA Holiday Catalog 2022

Competing Co-op Companies Cojoin

Two companies that offer co-op services to booksellers are merging: Co-optimize and Co-op Advertising Solutions are becoming Co-op Solutions and will have two divisions, Co-optimize Full Service and Co-optimize Online.

The principals are Amy Sandberg, who founded Co-optimize, and Tracy Adams, founder of Co-op Advertising Solutions.

Adams, a former sales rep for Penguin and Harcourt, began Co-op Advertising Solutions in 2001. "As a sales rep, I recognized that stores were not taking full advantage of the co-op resources available to them," she said. "Given the difficult economic times we're in, never has it been more important for stores to collaborate with publishers and utilize the co-op they've earned based on their purchases."

Sandberg was an events coordinator for four years at Warwick's bookstore in La Jolla, Calif. "It's a shame to see stores going all out to promote an event or a specific title and yet not taking advantage of the incentives that publishers make available for this purpose," she said. "It was my experience that sales reps appreciated me for coming up with creative ways to promote an event or title. Increased sales benefit everyone."

The pair said that Co-optimize's online software and claims-simplifying technology combined with Co-op Advertising Solutions's personalized and customized approach to service would make a strong company.

The Co-optimize Full Service division will be located in Minneapolis, Minn., and the Co-optimize Online division will be in San Diego, Calif. There will be some crossover of staff and services between the two divisions.  


Obituary Note: Orlando

Orlando, the bookstore cat at Bloomsbury Books, Ashland, Ore., for nearly 15 years, died on Monday, the Mail Tribune reported. He was of indeterminate age.

Orlando was "a goodwill ambassador, he was a greeter," bookstore co-owner Karen Chapman told the paper. The store sold postcards of him.

It's believed that Orlando knew how to read. Chapman noted that Orlando once scratched the top of a box of books and damaged a copy of Women Who Love Dogs.

Bloomsbury Books is inviting Orlando's many friends and fans to share memories of him 2-4 p.m. this Sunday at the store.


A Change of Scenery for Changing Hands Events

Customers at Changing Hands Bookstore in Tempe, Ariz., are heading for the hills. This weekend the store launches Changing Hands Outdoors, a series of hiking events centered on themes such as photography, drawing and creative writing.

Tomorrow Michael Lundgren, a photographer and the author of Michael Lundgren: Transfigurations, will lead a hike and photography session in the Superstition Mountains. Subsequent outings include bird watching with Jim Burns (Jim Burns' Arizona Birds) and a family hike with conservationist Robert Mesta (Condor: Spirit of the Canyon) aimed at introducing kids to the outdoors.

Hikes cost from $30-35 per person--each of whom is required to sign a liability form created by the store--and are limited to 30 participants. Along with a sack lunch, a copy of the featured book is typically included in the fee, and the store offers a discounted rate for couples.

The inspiration for the series came from a "Hike and Write" event the store had last April that paired Charles Liu, author of 60 Hikes within 60 Miles: Phoenix, with a creative writing teacher. The outdoor excursion was so successful that a second one was staged in October, and that, too, sold out. "That's when I had the idea to come up with the whole series," general manager Cindy Dach told Shelf Awareness. "What people love most about Changing Hands is community and so the concept behind this was how to take that community beyond the store." In addition to being able to charge fees for the series, an added benefit is that it doesn't tie up in-store event space, noted Dach, who has already received inquiries from fellow booksellers interested in launching similar programs.

At least one staff member will go along on each hike to help facilitate the event and distribute or sell books. Their presence also reinforces the connection to the store. During the initial hikes last year, participants conversed with staffers about books and about Changing Hands and its history.

The hiking events will take place through April and, after a hiatus during the scorching summer months, resume in October. Plans for the fall include a hike and book talk, as well as partnering with the University of Arizona Press--which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year--to involve its authors in the program.

As long as customers are looking to keep on trekking, Dach will continue the series. "I think there are a lot of people who want to go hiking, who want to do things like draw and hike, but they want to be around like-minded people," she said. "That's one of the services we offer. When you hike with a Changing Hands group, you know you have something in common with them."--Shannon McKenna Schmidt


Novel Changing over Time

In a long essay on how new technologies are changing the novel, Time magazine predicts there will be "more books, written and read by more people, often for little or no money, circulating in a wild diversity of forms, both physical and electronic. . . . If readers want to pay for the old-school premium package, they can get their literature the old-fashioned way: carefully selected and edited, and presented in a bespoke, art-directed paper package. But below that there will be a vast continuum of other options: quickie print-on-demand editions and electronic editions for digital devices, with a corresponding hierarchy of professional and amateur editorial selectiveness. (Unpaid amateur editors have already hit the world of fan fiction, where they're called beta readers.) The wide bottom of the pyramid will consist of a vast loamy layer of free, unedited, Web-only fiction, rated and ranked YouTube-style by the anonymous reading masses."

As a result, Time continued on, fiction will change. "It will be ravenously referential and intertextual in ways that will strain copyright law to the breaking point. Novels will get longer--electronic books aren't bound by physical constraints--and they'll be patchable and updatable, like software. We'll see more novels doled out episodically, on the model of TV series or, for that matter, the serial novels of the 19th century. We can expect a literary culture of pleasure and immediate gratification. Reading on a screen speeds you up: you don't linger on the language; you just click through. We'll see less modernist-style difficulty and more romance-novel-style sentiment and high-speed-narrative throughput. Novels will compete to hook you in the first paragraph and then hang on for dear life."

Hang on just like the industry!


Media and Movies

New Life on TV for The Reincarnationist

Congratulations to M.J. Rose, who has sold a pilot for a one-hour drama based on her novel The Reincarnationist to Fox Broadcasting. The pilot is written by David Hudgins for Warner Bros. Productions. Hudgins and Lou Pitt are executive producers, and Rose is a consulting producer.


Oscar Nominations: And Winner Is . . . Books

Adapting novels to film once again proved to be a winning formula for Oscar nominations in major categories, which were announced yesterday.

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, based on a story by F. Scott Fitzgerald, was nominated for best picture, best director (David Fincher), best actor (Brad Pitt), best supporting actress (Taraji P. Henson) and best adapted screenplay. It led with 13 nominations, only the ninth film to score so many, according to Variety.

Slumdog Millionaire, based upon Vikas Swarup's novel Q&A, was nominated for best picture, best director (Danny Boyle) and best adapted screenplay. Altogether the film garnered 10 nominations, including a musical trifecta with a best original score nod as well as two of the three best original song nominations.

The Reader, based upon Bernhard Schlink's novel, was nominated for best picture, best director (Stephen Daldry), best actress (Kate Winslet) and best adapted screenplay. It earned five total nominations.

Revolutionary Road, based upon the novel by Richard Yates, was nominated for best supporting actor (Michael Shannon), best art direction and best costume design.

Variety observed that even the annual Oscar nominations event was Hollywood's "second biggest news story of the week thanks to Barack Obama." This year's announcements were delayed 48 hours due to the inauguration. The Oscars will be presented Sunday, February 22.


Books & Authors

Shelf Sample: Little Bee

Chris Cleave's novel, Little Bee (Simon & Schuster, $24, 9781416589631/1416589635, February 10, 2009), will amaze and delight you, and break your heart. It's one of the finest books I've read in years, from its lyrical opening lines to its surprising end. It tells the story of a young Nigerian refugee, Little Bee, who has made her way to England but has ended up in a detention center. She is looking for an English couple, Andrew and Sarah O'Rourke, whom she met on a Nigerian beach two years earlier. Told from the viewpoints of Little Bee and Sarah, the story is tragic and sweet; its wisdom and power last long after the finish.

In the detention center, Little Bee learned to make herself undesirable, binding her breasts and cutting her hair. But she has a secret:
Once a week, I sat on the foam mattress on my bed and I painted my toenails. I found the little bottle of nail varnish at the bottom of a charity box . . . If I ever discover the person who gave it then I will tell them, for the cost of one British pound and ninety-nine pence, they saved my life. Because this is what I did in that place, to remind myself I was alive . . . underneath my steel toe caps I wore bright red nail varnish. Sometimes when I took my boots off I screwed up my eyes against the tears and I rocked back and fro, shivering from the cold.
When she leaves the detention center, after a paperwork mix-up, she looks at the scars of another girl:
. . . a scar is never ugly. That is what the scar makers want us to think. But you and I, we must make an agreement to defy them. We must see all scars as beauty . . . Because take it from me, a scar does not form on the dying. A scar means, I survived.

In a few breaths' time I will speak some sad words to you. But you must hear them the same way we have agreed to see scars now. Sad words are just another beauty. A sad story means, this storyteller is alive. The next thing you know, something fine will happen to her, something marvelous, and then she will turn around and smile.
Sarah, at the funeral for her husband, Andrew, wonders what to tell her son about Little Bee, while she massages the stump of her middle finger:
I miss my finger most on deadline days, when the copy checkers have all gone home and I'm typing up the last minute additions to my magazine. We published an editorial once where I said I was "wary of sensitive men." I meant to say "weary," of course, and after a hundred outraged letters from earnest boyfriends who'd happened to glance at my piece on their partner's coffee table (presumably in between giving a back rub and washing the dishes), I began to realize just how weary I was. It was a typographical accident, I told them. I didn't add, it was the kind of typographical accident that is caused by a steel machete on a Nigerian beach. I mean, what does one call the type of meeting where one gains an African girl and loses E, D and C? I do not think you have a word for it in your language--that's what Little Bee would say.

If I were still a bookseller, I'd sell Little Bee with a money-back guarantee.--Marilyn Dahl

From Little Bee by Chris Cleave. Copyright © 2008 by Chris Cleave. Reprinted by permission of Simon & Schuster, Inc. All rights reserved.


Book Brahmin: C. J. Box

C. J. Box is the author of 11 novels, including the Joe Pickett series. He has won the Anthony Award, the Prix Calibre 38, the Macavity Award, the Gumshoe Award, the Barry Award, an Edgar Award and was a Los Angeles Times Book Prize finalist. Box was named 2007 Writer of the Year by the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers. His novels have been translated into 17 languages. Three Weeks to Say Goodbye, a stand-alone thriller, is a January St. Martins Minotaur publication. A Wyoming native, Box is an avid outdoorsman and has hunted, fished, hiked, ridden and skied throughout the Mountain West. He lives with his family near Cheyenne, Wyo.

On your nightstand now:

Lush Life by Richard Price, Collected Short Stories by Flannery O'Conner, The Brass Verdict by Michael Connelly, Stories by Anton Chekhov.
Favorite book when you were a child:

Treasury of American Folklore and The Big Sky by A.B. Guthrie.

Your top five authors:

Thomas McGuane, Joseph Heller, Flannery O'Conner, Cormac McCarthy, Elmore Leonard.

Book you've faked reading:

Crime and Punishment. Actually, I DO try to read it. Over and over again. But I always find something I'd rather read. Like the back of a cereal box.

Book you've bought for the cover:

Citizen Vince
by Jess Walter. Even though many hated the cover. And when I was younger, I bought Mickey Spillane paperbacks because of the hot babes in various stages of undress.

Book that changed your life:

. The book that made me want to write--and read.

Favorite line(s) from a book:

I have plenty of these. Here are a four (one of them mine, he said humbly):

"There was a desert wind blowing that night. It was one of those hot, dry Santa Anas that come down through the mountain passes and curl your hair and make your nerves jump and your skin itch. On nights like that every booze party ends in a fight. Meek little wives feel the edge of the carving knife and study their husbands' necks. Anything can happen."--Raymond Chandler, Red Wind

"This is the darkest story that I ever heard. And all my life I have labored not to tell it."--Thomas Cook, Breakheart Hill

"When I finally caught up with Abraham Trahearne, he was drinking beer with an alcoholic bulldog named Fireball Roberts in a ramshackle joint just outside of Sonoma, California, drinking the heart right out of a fine spring afternoon."--James Crumley, The Last Good Kiss

"On the third day of their honeymoon, infamous environmental activist Stewie Woods, and his new bride Annabel Bellotti, were spiking trees in the forest when a cow exploded and blew them up. Until then, their marriage had been happy."--C.J. Box, Savage Run

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

The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt by Edmund Morris. Crazy, huh?


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