Shelf Awareness for Thursday, February 5, 2009

Viking: The Bookshop: A History of the American Bookstore by Evan Friss

Pixel+ink: Missy and Mason 1: Missy Wants a Mammoth

Bramble: The Stars Are Dying: Special Edition (Nytefall Trilogy #1) by Chloe C Peñaranda

Blue Box Press: A Soul of Ash and Blood: A Blood and Ash Novel by Jennifer L Armentrout

Charlesbridge Publishing: The Perilous Performance at Milkweed Meadow by Elaine Dimopoulos, Illustrated by Doug Salati

Minotaur Books: The Dark Wives: A Vera Stanhope Novel (Vera Stanhope #11) by Ann Cleeves


Pictures at a Bookstore; Edelweiss Edelgreen?

Vicki Erwin, owner of Main Street Books, St. Charles, Mo., writes in response to yesterday's note about Shaman Drum's "best event ever"--a marriage proposal.

I had a couple request to have their engagement pictures taken at the store because they'd had their first date there and loved books and bookstores so much. I said jokingly, O.K., but no PDA! They said we should have told them that when they came in the first time! So as usual, we never know what the customers are doing in our stores.

I also had a young girl who was a frequent customer request to have her senior picture taken at the store. Of course, I said yes to all! These are the things that make owning a store so wonderful.


Christie Olson Day of Gallery Bookshop, Mendocino, Calif., writes:

In yesterday's article about Edelweiss, I read for the umpteenth time that electronic catalogues, like e-books, are more environmentally friendly because they use less paper. Paper is made from a renewable resource and biodegrades; electronic devices are hazardous waste and have a very short life. O.K., maybe not as short as a publisher's catalogue, but certainly shorter than most paper books. Aren't those piles of two-year-old computers and cell phones (and their batteries) in our landfills are a bigger problem than paper?

Let's not let this idea become a "fact" unless it's actually true.


BINC: Do Good All Year - Click to Donate!


Notes: Texting to Customers; Cambridge Reps Blogging

Cool idea of the day: Vroman's Bookstore, Pasadena, Calif., is partnering with NearU Search, a mobile marketing company, to provide text message alerts for Vroman's in-store events.

The service is free to customers. On Mondays subscribers receive a list of the week's events. They can also receive a reminder alert before an event.

In a statement, promotional director Jennifer Ramos said, "Our customers will never miss their favorite author again. We have so many great events that it can be challenging to keep track of them all."


Cambridge University Press field reps are now blogging; new posts appear every Wednesday in one spot on the press's website.

One of the first blogs recounts a Toronto rep's visit to British Columbia last month (with much snow and fog involved at either end of the trip). In a striking aside, she writes: "Sitting at a red light [in Vancouver], I listen to Barack Obama take his oath of office. As cheers from the radio sound out I look around me--drivers are pumping their fists and pounding their steering wheels in joy."


"Bloomington: a town of the arts. A place where a local bookshop sits around every corner, and even in a time of financial downfall, owners still support each other's passion." That's the world of books, according to the Indiana Daily Student, which profiled three local bookstores: the Book Corner, Caveat Emptor and Howard's Bookstore.

"There's a sense of community," said Ruth Paris, assistant manager of the Book Corner.

Caveat Emptor's co-owner Janis Starcs made a case for books as "the perfect software. You don't always know what you're getting on the Internet. There's a lack of sophistication about sources."

The mutual support among the three extends to sending customers "down the street" to find the right book. "We help each other and keep our eyes open," Starcs said.


The Internet has been good to Michael Elmer, owner of Michael's Books, Bellingham, Wash. Elmer told the Herald that by increasing his online inventory to 10,000 books (of the used, rare and collectible bookshop's approximately 250,000-volume inventory), his business had a "43% year-over-year growth in its online sales in 2008." Still a bricks-and-mortar guy, however, he added that contact with interesting people was a primary benefit of his job. "I never know what the next person in will want or will have and it's always exciting," he said. "There are so many books. I can never see them all."


A mystery about the status of Pages for All Ages bookstore, Savoy, Ill. (Shelf Awareness, February 3, 2009), has been clarified. The Champaign-Urbana News-Gazette reported that there is a new sign on the front door saying the bookshop is closed for good.

"It is with great sadness that we announce the closing of Pages for All Ages Bookstore Inc. after serving the Champaign-Urbana-Savoy area for over 20 years," the notice, signed by owners Brandon and Susan Griffing, said. "You were the reason we opened, and your support allowed us to stay open as so many family-owned bookstores closed around the country."


Another library book story has surfaced, and the overdue fines on this one could reduce the national debt. On the heels of Hudson River pilot/hero Chesley Sullenberger's lost book tale (Shelf Awareness, February 4, 2009), the Boston Globe reported that the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum said it will display A. Lincoln by Ross F. Lockridge, which was "apparently borrowed by Kennedy, or a member of his staff . . . when he was serving in the Senate in the 1950s. . . . [The book] was found in Kennedy's pre-presidential papers. It has been listed as missing in the Library of Congress online catalog, and will be returned to its collection after the display."

"It has just always been assumed to have been one of his books," said Kennedy Library spokesman Tom McNaught, but the Library recently learned "it had been checked out since he was a senator and he had just kept it."


Ingram Book Group has founded the Ingram Marketing Group, a marketing and advertising agency dedicated to the publishing industry.

Among other things, IMG will offer media buying and advertising opportunities in national magazines, catalogue production and digital marketing. For more information, go to

In a statement, Kim Reynolds, v-p of marketing and creative services, said, "We've been a marketing partner in the book industry for 30 years, so we understand the goals--and the unprecedented challenges--of our business. As the economy forces publishers to seek out more affordable and efficient production and advertising opportunities, Ingram Marketing Group is uniquely positioned to bring connectivity and cost efficiencies in the consumer market that only we can offer." She emphasized that unlike other advertising and marketing agencies, Ingram has been totally dedicated to books and authors. "Our agency doesn't market car dealerships, pharmaceutical companies or real estate."


Nicole Dewey has joined Henry Holt and Company as the director of publicity. She was most recently director of publicity at Doubleday, where she worked for seven years. Before Doubleday, she was a senior publicist at Holt.



GLOW: Milkweed Editions: Becoming Little Shell: Returning Home to the Landless Indians of Montana by Chris La Tray

Winter Institute, Part 4: Case Studies of Working With Others

Last year the ABA asked a number of bookstores to use Shop Local/Local First and IndieBound cross-promotional tools and strategies to make connections with locally owned businesses in their communities. At the Winter Institute, in a well-attended session, ABA COO Oren Teicher presented the good, the better and some unsuccessful ideas from those independent business alliance efforts.

Linda Barret Knopp from Malaprop's Bookstore, Asheville, N.C., discussed the advertising campaign that she arranged with a local bike shop. With IndieBound designs and their respective shop logos, they created a flier promoting each other's businesses. The idea was to use a coupon picked up at the bike store at the bookshop and vice versa.

Unfortunately, Knopp said, very few coupons were redeemed, and word of mouth never really picked up about the cross promotion. But Knopp learned several things, including the importance of proximity to the other business (the stores were not close to each other), the need for staff training to promote the scheme properly and better use of the fliers in and out of the shops.

Nancy Colalillo from Tome on the Range, in Las Vegas, N.M. ("the first Las Vegas," as she let us know), has been working hard with her local community organization, the Old Town Commercial Club, to encourage shoppers to travel from Old Town to New Town--literally across a bridge. The message: that customers did not have to drive hours for goods and products. A highlight of the group's flier was that for every $50 spent with a participating merchant, customers were entered into a raffle to win a travel voucher or dinner for two and two nights in a local hotel. The campaign was ultimately a success. By the way, the winner for the hotel stay and romantic dinner was a nun.

Roxanne Coady of R.J. Julia Books in Madison, Conn., told the group that she was initially very skeptical of the shop local movement. So instead of using a coupon and cross-promotional campaign, Coady decided to write a frank and forceful letter to her 12,000-plus e-mail list. Because the letter was forwarded to the Chambers of Commerce, Local First group and business owners, it has been seen by perhaps "hundreds of thousands of people," she stated.

Coady said it's easy for people to forget to shop local and isn't convinced that the way to get their attention is by "threatening them." Instead, she said, she wanted to point out in a "non-preachy way" the importance of local businesses and communities working together by having a dialogue about what's relevant to the community. "If we disappear, it's because we are not meeting their needs," she said. As retailers, she stressed that we need to think about what we can do for the community--not always the other way around.

Another approach taken by Books Inc.'s Michael Tucker was presented by Northern California Independent Booksellers Association executive director Hut Landon. He displayed the promotional material Tucker created by hand--a large poster board advertising Books Inc. and a hardware store, with an attached holder that contained a coupon to use at each business. In the end, Landon said the stores were too far apart and the campaign spread too wide to work well. Both shops have multiple locations, which could have made the venture confusing. Fewer than 25 coupons were redeemed.

Like Knopp, Landon noted several things that worked against the promotion--the distance between stores, not enough employee participation in promoting the campaign as well as the lack of a cohesive plan. He said that when people go to a hardware store, usually they know exactly what they need and don't browse--so the coupon did not lead people to just visit the shop.

Landon concluded that it was the wrong promotion for the stores, but said that he was encouraged by the chance to reinvent marketing ideas under the "Shop Local" rubric and by the likelihood that things that worked in the past may work again by tying into a shop local idea.

Linda Bubon from Women and Children First in Chicago, Ill., had "mild success" with her campaign with a local toy store. The flier used by both shops featured several IndieBound ideas and had a coupon attached. The idea worked better than some, she said, because there was a natural tie-in between the two businesses.

During the question and answer portion of the session, people offered ideas and strategies. It was suggested that in the case of the Books Inc. example, cross-promotion in each store--such as a DIY book display at the hardware store and a display of "green" hardware items in the bookstore--could have created traffic.

One bookseller described a wine and cheese party she has in her store to promote the wine shop her store is connected to. The wine shop in turn has a display of books promoting wines and cheeses.

Another shop owner talked about a similar idea: she stocks olive oil from an Italian shop nearby, which in turn displays her books. Both promotions create traffic between the stores with no coupon involved.

It was also suggested that encouraging employees to shop in each other's stores would help. If the bookstore's partner is a toy store, talk up the hottest toys to parents in the kid's section. In the toy shop, make sure they know what your bestsellers or sleeper successes are so that they can pass on the info--along with the coupon, perhaps--giving each a reason to visit the other shop.

Other good ideas included: partner with a store your size; know its inventory; determine if you have common customers; know what you are going to do and iron out the promotion details beforehand.

While the means differ, the message is clear. As Roxanne Coady wrote at the close of her e-mail letter, "In these tough times, this is my personal plea--as you decide how to spend your hard-earned money, please go to your local hardware store, local jeweler, local pharmacy, local sports shop and your local bookstore. We are in this together--we can become whole and sturdy together."--Susan L. Weis, proprietress of breathe books, Baltimore, Md.


Notes: Handouts that include fliers, coupons and letters for this presentation are available online to ABA members on Scroll down about halfway through the program to "IBA Study: Spreading the Shop Local/Local First Message by Working Closely with Fellow Indie Businesses."

If booksellers have any great ideas that have worked in their shops, e-mail them to She'll post them for all to see.


G.P. Putnam's Sons: Four Weekends and a Funeral by Ellie Palmer

Media and Movies

Movie: He's Just Not That Into You

He's Just Not That Into You, named after the relationship guide by Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo, opens tomorrow, February 6. The movie examines how people read or misread the behavior of others through several interconnected, fictional stories. The book, a nonfiction dating compendium written for women, is available from Simon Spotlight ($14.99, 9781416909774/141690977X).


Media Heat: Jane Seymour and Open Hearts

Today on Fresh Air, discussing the legacy of Ronald Reagan: Will Bunch, author of Tear Down This Myth: How the Reagan Legacy Has Distorted Our Politics and Haunts Our Future (Free Press, $25, 9781416597629/141659762X), and Douglas Brinkley, editor of The Reagan Diaries (Harper, $35, 9780060876005/006087600X).


This week WETA's Author, Author! has an interview with David Baldacci, author of Divine Justice (Grand Central Publishing, $27.99, 9780446195508/0446195502).


Tomorrow morning on the Today Show: Jane Seymour, author of Open Hearts: If Your Heart Is Open, Love Will Always Find Its Way In (Running Press, $14.95, 9780762436620/076243662X).


Tomorrow on Fox's Hannity & Colmes: Christopher Kennedy Lawford, author of Moments of Clarity: Voices from the Front Lines of Addiction and Recovery (Morrow, $25.99, 9780061456213/0061456217).


This Weekend on Book TV: The Big Rich

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, February 7

2:45 p.m. Steven Johnson, author of The Invention of Air: A Story of Science, Faith, Revolution, and the Birth of America (Riverhead, $25.95, 9781594488528/1594488525) recounts the life of Joseph Priestly, scientist and theologian. (Re-airs Saturday at 9 p.m. and Sunday at 6 a.m.)
4:45 p.m. Paul Lockhart, author of The Drillmaster of Valley Forge: The Baron de Steuben and the Making of the American Army (Collins, $27.95, 9780061451638/0061451630), talks about the life of the man who trained the Continental Army. (Re-airs Sunday at 10 p.m.)
7 p.m. For an event hosted by Books & Books, Coral Gables, Fla., Rowan Jacobsen, author of Fruitless Fall: The Collapse of the Honeybee and the Coming Agricultural Crisis (Bloomsbury, $25, 9781596915374/1596915374), explores ramifications of the death of 30 billion honeybees. (Re-airs Sunday at 4 a.m.)

10 p.m. After Words. Joe Barton interviews Bryan Burrough, author of The Big Rich: The Rise and Fall of the Greatest Texas Oil Fortunes (Penguin, $29.95, 9781594201998/1594201994). Burrough details the lives of H.L. Hunt, Roy Cullen, Sid Richardson and Clint Murchison. (Re-airs Sunday at 9 p.m., Monday at 12 a.m. and Sunday, February 15, at 12 p.m.)

Sunday, February 8

1 a.m. A panel discussion on William F. Buckley's final book, The Reagan I Knew (Basic Books, $25, 9780465009268/0465009263), includes Rich Lowry, Richard Brookhiser and Brent Bozell. (Re-airs Sunday at 7 p.m., Monday at 3 a.m., Monday, February 16, at 7 p.m. and Tuesday, February 17, at 7 a.m.)
2:15 p.m. Burton Weisbrod, author of Mission and Money: Understanding the University (Cambridge University Press, $30, 9780521515108/0521515106), examines the entire higher education industry. (Re-airs Monday at 1 a.m., Saturday, February 14, at 10:30 a.m. and Sunday, February 15, at 1 a.m.)


Books & Authors

Awards: Grub Street National Prizes

Grub Street, the creative writing center in Boston, Mass., has announced its National Prizes:

Fiction: Alan Cheuse, novelist and NPR book commentator, for To Catch the Lightning (Sourcebooks). The head juror called the book a "lyrical, sprawling novel that weaves history and mythology into an entertaining portrayal of the renowned Native American photographer, Edward Sheriff Curtis."

Fiction finalists/honorable mentions: former Ploughsares editor Don Lee for Wrack and Ruin (Norton) and Nora Eisenberg for When You Come Home (Curbstone Press).

Nonfiction: Dinty W. Moore for his memoir, Between Panic and Desire (University of Nebraska Press).

Nonfiction finalist: Terese Svoboda for Black Glasses Like Clark Kent: A GI's Secret from Postwar Japan (Graywolf).

Poetry: Rebecca Seiferle for her collection Wild Tongue (Copper Canyon Press).

Poetry finalists: Ellen Bass for The Human Line (Copper Canyon), Cate Marvin for Fragment of the Head of a Queen (Sarabande) and Reginald Shepherd for Fata Morgana (University of Pittsburgh Press).

Each winner receives a $1,000 honorarium and a reading/book party at Grub Street's event space. The reading and party are co-sponsored by a local independent bookstore, which will sell books at the event. Fiction and nonfiction writers are also invited as guest authors to the "Muse and the Marketplace" literary conference.

The Grub Street Prizes go to authors who live outside New England and have published at least one book already.


Beth Krommes: The Caldecott Medal as Validation

Last week, Beth Krommes was awarded the 2009 Caldecott Medal for her predominantly black-and-white scratchboard illustrations in The House in the Night by Susan Marie Swanson. It was a validation of a long process of soul-searching. After she had completed House in the Night, Krommes spent a year with no manuscript to illustrate and questioned whether to return to fine art and leave children's book illustration behind. "I had this year of figuring out, 'Do I want to go into fine arts or stay in children's books?' " she says. "I missed working with authors and other people's words, so I collaborated with Joyce Sidman, and that project is with Houghton now."
One might assume that working in black-and-white (with a judicious use of marigold) might be easier for Krommes than working with a full range of color, as she had done with her five previous picture books (one of which was a collaboration with Sidman,
Butterfly Eyes). In fact it's much more challenging, says Krommes. The work for this book is more detailed than in the artist's other books, and keeping the black line crisp enough to accentuate those details is the secret to its impact. Her medium is scratchboard, and to give readers a sense of how it works, Krommes often brings Scratch Magic paper with her for presentations to classrooms or bookstores--children can scratch away an image with a sharp stick, very much like Krommes' own technique, one that has been evolving for more than a decade.

You've said that you moved from the wood engravings you created as a fine artist to scratchboard because you could move through them more quickly. Did you move to that medium in order to break into children's book illustrations?

I've been an illustrator for 20 years, but it took me 10 years to break into children's books. [The first was Grandmother Winter by Phyllis Root, published in 1999.] I thought of myself as queen of the spot illustration, for all kinds of [publications], from Time magazine to Yankee and Country Living magazines--those illustrations were all wood engravings. By the time Ann Rider, my editor at Houghton, saw my work on the cover of Cricket magazine, I was already working in scratchboard. The first 10 years I was working out how to get this technique down in a way that makes sense. I've done five books with Ann at Houghton and one at Barefoot Books [The Sun in Me].
Both wood engraving and scratchboard involve taking material away. In that way do the two mediums--wood engraving and scratchboard--share certain characteristics?

It's very similar. Wood engraving is a relief printing process known for its small scale and fine line work. An engraving is made by cutting an image into the polished end-grain of a hardwood block. They're made from small blocks and polished smooth, and you use metal engraving tools because you're cutting on endgrain. Wood engravings were first printed on letterpress and were the same height as letterpress letters, so they could print [the art] at the same time as the type. The problem with wood engraving is the blocks are very expensive to buy, and I'm not a woodworker. They're $3 per square inch, and if you make a mistake, you can't fix it.
Scratchboard allows me to get that same tiny detail as wood engravings. And the two look so much the same. It's a piece of cardboard covered with a thin layer of powdered white clay, with a layer of black india ink on top of it, so it looks totally black. You use a sharp tool to "draw" on the black, and it scratches away to expose a white line. It looks like a wood engraving. With scratchboards, if you make a mistake you can re-ink and redo your boo-boo.
How does one plan a wood engraving or scratchboard rendering? Do you sketch it out first?

I do a storyboard and several book dummies, and then a really tight pencil rough--that all takes half of the time for the project, say six months. I put the pencil roughs on the wall, so I can see how they flow one to the other. I do all the pictures [on scratchboard] at the same time--your technique gets better as you go along. Then at the very end I add the color. I photocopy the scratchboard because the photocopy black repels the watercolor, so the watercolors settle nicely between the black lines. Most of my books take a year, but House in the Night took more than a year--at least half of that was planning.
Do you mix your color at the beginning and try to mix enough for the entire book?

Yes. It's watercolor and I start with a huge clean palette and have it all there so I can reuse it.

That must have been especially important with this book, where the marigold shade has to be consistent through the entire book.

I must have seen six proofs of the book until everyone was satisfied with it. It was a complicated production. When they went to color-separate the art, the black and gold were too pale, and we had to figure out how to punch them out. [With preseparated art, each color requires its own screen, and they are overlaid on the previously printed color shade.] If I can remember correctly, we used a black and put some extra blue with it, we tried putting extra red--but because there's such tiny detail in the art, anytime you add an extra screen, the art becomes fuzzy. The detail in this book was way tighter than in any of my other books. They're printing more right now and I'm still nervous.--Jennifer M. Brown


Children's Book Review: Moonshot

Moonshot: The Flight of Apollo 11 by Brian Floca (Jackson/Atheneum, $17.99, 9781416950462/141695046X, 48 pp., ages 4-7, April 2009)

Floca (Lightship) masterfully balances poetry and science in this picture-book homage to the voyage of Apollo 11. "High above/ there is the Moon,/ cold and quiet,/ no air, no life,/ but glowing in the sky," the narrative begins. Next Floca introduces the three astronauts--the "click" of hands locking into heavy gloves, the "click" of heads locking into large, round helmets, and the "click" of straps fastening and the hatch being sealed. He lets the facts speak for themselves while also acknowledging the mindboggling preparations that went into this historic journey: the two small spaceships, Columbia and Eagle, "sit atop the rocket/ that will raise them into space,/ a monster of a machine:/ It stands thirty stories,/ it weighs six million pounds,/ a tower full of fuel and fire/ and valves and pipes and engines,/ too big to believe, but built to fly--/ the mighty, massive Saturn V." A spread divided into six horizontal panels chronicles the countdown. A crowded campsite across the water from the launchpad serves as backdrop to "10 . . . 9 . . . 8 . . . 7 . . . "; next, "Ignition sequence started" for 6 . . . 5 . . . 4 . . . zeroes in on the flames from the rocket's exhaust. The artwork then pulls back to show the "mighty arms [that] hold [the rocket] steady," the waiting crowd, the final count, and a close-up of astronauts Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins and Buzz Aldrin at "zero." Then a full-bleed spread of "Liftoff!" as the powerful engines push that "monster of a machine" skyward.
Floca explains the unique roles of Columbia and Eagle, which disengage from the Saturn V Launch Vehicle and then lock together, "rushing into darkness," toward the "Moon, far away,/ cold and quiet,/ no air, no life,/ but glowing in the sky." This refrain accompanies stunning views of the moon, growing ever larger. Upon the Eagle's landing, the recurring phrase takes on even greater significance as Armstrong and Aldrin (Collins remains inside Columbia) gaze up at "the good and lonely Earth,/ glowing in the sky." As with any great work of poetry, the visual imagery and the pacing of the text hold the key to Floca's success. He leavens the astronauts' seriousness of purpose with details about the perils of eating and eliminating in weightless space, and characterizes Armstrong and Aldrin's stroll on the Moon with a childlike glee: "They step, they hop./ As light as boys,/ they lope, they leap!" Throughout the narrative, Floca connects this monumental experience to the impact felt at home: "Armstrong is calm--but on Earth they cheer!" reads the text picturing a family in front of the TV set, the father dabbing at his eyes. Endpapers feature cutaway views of the rocket and all its stages, and offer a timeline of events; meticulous source notes make this a fine reference for youngest researchers, scientists and space fans. In these 48 pages, Floca makes an indelible impression of how those brief eight days in July, 40 years ago, changed history.--Jennifer M. Brown


The Bestsellers Top 10 in January, Signed and Not Signed

The 10 bestselling titles on during January:

1. The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren
2. The Audacity of Hope by Barack Obama
3. Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
4. The Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx
5. First Break All the Rules by Marcus Buckingham
6. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
7. Holy Bible (King James Version)
8. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey
9. The Dark Is Rising by Susan Cooper
10. A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle

The 10 bestselling signed books on AbeBooks during January:

1. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
2. The Widows of Eastwick by John Updike
3. Beat the Reaper by Josh Bazell
4. The Witches of Eastwick by John Updike
5. The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski
6. The Secret Scripture by Sebastian Barry
7. The Audacity of Hope by Barack Obama
8. Rabbit at Rest by John Updike
9. Inkheart by Cornelia Funke
10. Rabbit, Run by John Updike

[Many thanks to!]

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