Shelf Awareness for Monday, March 2, 2009

Nightfire: At Nightfire, Halloween is 24/7! A new imprint dedicated to horror!

Duke University Press: Point of Reckoning: The Fight for Racial Justice at Duke University by Theodore D Segal

Scribner Book Company: Red Island House by Andrea Lee

Shadow Mountain: The Gentleman and the Thief by Sarah M Eden


Notes: Random Buys Ten Speed; Amazon Tweaks Text-to-Speech

Random House has bought Ten Speed Press, the Berkeley, Calif., publisher of cooking, spiritual, health, pop culture and business and career titles and best known for What Color Is Your Parachute? by Richard Bolles and The Moosewood Cookbook by Mollie Katzen. Founded in 1971 by Phil Wood, Ten Speed includes Tricycle Press, Celestial Arts and Crossing Press. The house publishes about 100 books a year and has a backlist of 1,000 titles.

Ten Speed will become part of the Crown Publishing Group. Although there will be layoffs at the press's distribution and warehouse sites, the editorial staff will remain in Berkeley, according to the New York Times. Crown president and publisher Jenny Frost explained: "They have a lot of eclectic and quirky books, and I think maybe the soil in Berkeley helps grow that."

The purchase marks the first acquisition by Random House since Markus Dohle became CEO last year. Wood told the Wall Street Journal that he sold because of "continuing personal-health concerns."


Amazon has changed course concerning the text-to-speech function on the new Kindle 2: it will now let publishers decide whether the e-reader will be able to read books aloud in a computerized male or female voice, the New York Times reported. Some publishers and authors had objected to the feature because it "undermined the market for the professional audio books that are sold separately," as Authors Guild president Roy Blount Jr., wrote recently in an op-ed piece in the Times.

In a statement announcing the change, Amazon emphasized that it believes the text-to-speech feature is legal because "no copy is made, no derivative work is created, and no performance is being given." It added that it thought the feature would introduce some readers to audiobooks and increase the market.


In the Internet era, poetry is booming, the Telegraph wrote. "Rather than killing it off, modern technologies like email, social networking sites such as Facebook and online media players are helping poets reach new audiences. The grassroots scene is now growing, with live poetry readings becoming more popular and more poets getting their own pamphlets published."


The Star-Ledger profiled Words bookstore, which just opened in Maplewood, N.J., and on Saturday held a signing featuring former New York Governor Mario Cuomo and his wife that drew some 100 people.

Owners Jonah and Ellen Zimiles bought Goldfinch Books late last year and moved it into a larger spot on the main street in downtown Maplewood--and, of course, renamed the shop. The Zimiles have a 13-year-old son with autism and wanted to have a store that makes it easier for families like theirs to shop. Thus the store has wide aisles, and staff has had sensitivity training. The Zimiles intend to hire some employees with special needs.

"Owning a bookstore was never my dream," Jonah Zimiles told the paper. "But having the opportunity to welcome the less fortunate, having the opportunity to provide jobs--that is a dream come true."


The Columbia Spectator suggested that "if you are an art aficionado, a fashionista, European, or would like to be some combination of the above, you most certainly should consider taking the trip to Rizzoli Bookstore [in midtown Manhattan]. The physical building itself is actually worth the ride. Yet, even its aesthetically pleasing window displays don't prepare patrons for the visual feast awaiting them on the other side of its heavy doors. Rizzoli's books sit on wooden shelves, which perfectly complement the staircase's railing. There are chandeliers on every floor, and the molding on the ceilings is strikingly beautiful. . . . If Rizzoli didn't actually sell anything, it would be worth going there anyway."


Clear Creek Books, Golden, Colo., just opened last year, but owner Craig Morgan told that his lifelong dream of being a bookseller is in imminent danger.

"We are really hurting right now. Basically I can't pay the rent. We need $50k to make it," he said, noting that a recent e-mail campaign warning that the bookshop might close March 10 generated an outpouring of community support. "It's heartening in a sense. I picked March 10 because I will owe rent on that day. I have had people make pledges of as much as $10,000, but I don't want to take money from people if it's not going to work." Morgan said.

Gary Wink, president of the Golden Chamber of Commerce, said he thought Morgan "did his preparation before he opened the store. I thought he did everything he needed to do. We did surveys and everybody and their brother said, 'Yes! We need a bookstore!' But are they in there? No."


There may be used book bargains online, but "there’s still something to be said for browsing the creased spines of used paperbacks in person, according to the Tonawanda News, which interviewed Doris Spencer, owner of Paperback Swap N Shop, North Tonawanda, N.Y. Spencer's "best customers are senior citizens, a group generally less likely to explore Internet book swapping, preferring instead the confines of a familiar store and a familiar face."


Indie bookstores are challenged in Shanghai, too. Danwei reported that when Peggy Yu Yu, co-president of online retailer Dangdang, was asked by Xinmin Evening News who the competitors are for online book retailers, she "sighed, and lamented that entertainment choices like television and online games take up a good deal of readers' time. She envies the 'bookworms' that ride subways and public transportation in the west: 'Our greatest opponent is the fact that book readers are so few in number in China. The country's population is increasing, but reading rates are falling. When we figure out ways to entice more people to read, to grow the denominator, online bookstores and brick-and-mortar bookstores will both win.'"


Sebastian Barry, whose work space is highlighted in the most recent entry in the Guardian's "Writer's Rooms" series, observed, that his office "doesn't look very tidy, but from childhood I have loved provisionality in a room, something thrown together."


Reflecting on a year that featured several award-winning film versions of books and stories, Salman Rushdie explored the history and nature of such adaptations in the Guardian. Among his observations: "Independence Day, the movie, was of course not an adaptation of Richard Ford's award-winning novel, which unfortunately came out at much the same time as the film, so that, according to legend, when customers in bookstores requested the book, the booksellers were obliged to ask: 'With or without aliens?'"


A memorial service for Jean Srnecz, the Baker & Taylor senior v-p of merchandising who died in the commuter plane crash near Buffalo, N.Y., last month (Shelf Awareness, February 16, 2009), will be held Saturday, March 14, at the Somerset Hills Hotel, Warren, N.J. The memorial is from 1-3 p.m. and tea and coffee are from 3-4 p.m.


With the theme New Times = New Opportunities to Sell Books, the Midwest Booksellers Association will hold its spring meeting Saturday, March 14, 9 a.m.-7:30 p.m. in Bloomington, Minn.
Educations sessions focus on customer service and hospitality, sales initiatives and events, used books, Midwest Connections and displays. Jane Hamilton, author of Laura Rider's Masterpiece (Grand Central), is the Midwest Connections lunch speaker. Reps will host picks of the lists.

Featured Midwest Connections authors reception guests include:

  • John and Clea Adams, authors of The Dragonfly Secret and The Dragonfly Door (Feather Rock Books)
  • Robert Goolrick, author of A Reliable Wife (Algonquin)
  • Nicole Helget, author of The Turtle Catcher (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
  • Dean Hulse, author of Westhope (University of Minnesota Press)
  • Julie Kramer, author of Missing Mark (Doubleday/Random House)
  • Stephen Lovely, author of Irreplaceable (Voice/Hyperion)
  • Alison McGhee, author of Julia Gillian (And the Quest for Joy) (Scholastic)
  • Kurtis Scaletta, author of Mudville (Knopf Books for Young Readers)

Registration required in advance. Free to member bookstores. Non-member stores may attend for $25 per store. Lunch is $12. For more information and to register, e-mail or call 612-926-5868 or 800-784-7522.


Instead of holding a spring meeting--in part because the ABA's Winter Institute was held in Utah--the Mountains & Plains Independent Booksellers Association is holding a series of meetings at various bookstores in the MPIBA region. At these meetings, booksellers will determine programming. The association is suggesting some topics and will pay for certain speakers to visit as well as work to find authors to participate.

The first three meetings will occur in April at BookPeople in Austin, Tex., Changing Hands in Tempe, Ariz., and Bookworm of Edwards, Colo. Some of the topics suggested for those meetings are creating affordable website ideas, indies as part of state tourism, co-op, improving buying savvy, attracting quality events, becoming a "community cornerstore" and strategies for improving sales.


Pamela Dorman Books: The Push by Ashley Audrain

Former Congressman Tom Allen Wins Race to Head AAP

A former congressman is replacing a former congresswoman as head of the Association of American Publishers.

Pat Schroeder, who has been president and CEO of the association since 1997, is leaving May 1 "to sail uncharted waters," as she put it, and will be replaced by Tom Allen. Allen, a Democrat, was a six-term Congressman from Maine who last fall ran unsuccessfully against incumbent Senator Susan Collins.

Allen served on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Budget Committee, Armed Services Committee and Government Reform Committee. He is a former Rhodes Scholar, graduated from Bowdoin College and has a law degree from Harvard.

In a statement, Allen said, "In this age of rapidly changing technology, we must not lose sight of the abiding importance of the written word to our culture, society and our democratic institutions. AAP advocates on issues of paramount importance ranging from free speech and education to the protection of intellectual property rights and international freedom to publish. I am excited about tackling the challenges of this new position and its responsibilities to the publishing industry and the reading public."

Coincidentally the changing of the guard at the AAP mirrors change at the American Booksellers Association: Avin Domnitz is leaving July 1 after being CEO since 1997. His replacement has not been named yet.


GLOW: Hanover Square Press: The Jigsaw Man (Inspector Anjelica Henley Thriller) by Nadine Matheson

Obituary Note: Bill Holm

Bill Holm, poet and essayist, died last Wednesday of complications from pneumonia, the Star Tribune reported. He was 65.

The paper, which has a long, poignant obituary, called Holm "larger than life, a man of letters, a man of the prairie, a man of the world." His books included Coming Home Crazy, Boxelder Bug Variations, Playing the Black Piano, The Windows of Brimnes and, "perhaps his most beloved book, The Heart Can Be Filled Anywhere on Earth, his homage to his hometown of Minneota, in western Minnesota near Marshall."

In a statement, Daniel Slager, publisher of Milkweed Editions, which put out many of Holm's books, said, "Bill was that rarest of combinations: devastating in his critique of provincialism, militarism, and the abuse of power in all forms; but also profoundly tender, musical, and filled with compassion for all living creatures. His work will live on--in Chinese, Icelandic, and Italian editions, not to mention ours--but we will miss him deeply."


University of California Press: Beethoven, a Life (1st ed.) by Jan Caeyers, translated by Brent Annable

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Secrets of Simplicity

This morning on the Today Show:

  • Martin Lindstrom, author of Buyology: Truth and Lies About Why We Buy (Doubleday, $24.95, 9780385523882/0385523882).
  • David Bach, author of Fight For Your Money: How to Stop Getting Ripped Off and Save a Fortune (Broadway, $26, 9780767929844/0767929845).
  • Tavis Smiley, author of Accountable: Making America as Good as Its Promise (Atria, $19.99, 9781439100028/1439100020).


Today on Oprah: Mary Carlomagno, author of Secrets of Simplicity (Chronicle, $19.95, 9780811863940/0811863948).


Today on the Rachael Ray Show: Chelsea Handler, author of Are You There, Vodka? It's Me, Chelsea (Simon Spotlight, $24.95, 9781416954125/1416954120).


Today on NPR's News and Notes: Bryant Terry, author of Vegan Soul Kitchen: Fresh, Healthy, and Creative African-American Cuisine (Da Capo Press, $18.95, 9780738212289/0738212288).


Tonight on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart: Harold Varmus, author of The Art and Politics of Science (Norton, $24.95, 9780393061284/0393061280).


Tomorrow morning on the Today Show: Jennifer Thompson-Cannino, author of Picking Cotton: Our Memoir of Injustice and Redemption (St. Martin's, $25.95, 9780312376536/0312376537).


Tomorrow morning on MSNBC's Morning Joe: Tavis Smiley, author of Accountable: Making America as Good as Its Promise (Atria, $19.99, 9781439100028/1439100020).


Tomorrow morning on Fox's Morning Show with Mike and Juliet: Sylvia Brown, author of All Pets Go to Heaven (Fireside, $23.95, 9781416590996/1416590994).


Tomorrow on the Diane Rehm Show: Con Coughlin, author of Khomeini's Ghost: The Iranian Revolution and the Rise of Militant Islam (Ecco, $26.99, 9780061687143/0061687146).


Tomorrow on Bloomberg's In Focus: Felix Rohatyn, author of Bold Endeavors: How Our Government Built America, and Why It Must Rebuild Now (Simon & Schuster, $26, 9781416533122/1416533125).


Tomorrow on Oprah: Bruce D. Perry, author of The Boy Who Was Raised as a Dog (Basic Books, $15.95, 9780465056538/0465056539).


Tomorrow night on the Colbert Report: Mark Bittman, author of Food Matters: A Guide to Conscious Eating with More Than 75 Recipes (Simon & Schuster, $25, 9781416575641/1416575642).


Tomorrow night on the Late Show with David Letterman: Richard Zoglin, author of Comedy at the Edge: How Stand-up in the 1970s Changed America (Bloomsbury, $15, 9781582346250/1582346259).


Tomorrow night on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno: Russell Brand, author of My Booky Wook (Collins, $25.99, 9780061730412/0061730416).


Berkley Books: Dangerous Women by Hope Adams

Books & Authors

Awards: Biographer of the Year; Delete Key Finalists

Fred Kaplan, author of Lincoln: The Biography of a Writer (HarperCollins), has won Biographer of the Year, an award sponsored by the Biographer's Craft. Biographer's Craft editor James McGrath Morris said that the title "was one of the most original and fresh biographies of Lincoln appearing in a sea of books honoring the bicentennial of the birth of the 16th president. . . . [Kaplan's] single-focused chronicle of the man as a writer provides an engaging new portrait."


Ten lucky titles have been named finalists for the 2009 Delete Key Awards for Bad Writing, sponsored by One Minute Reviews. The winner will be announced--or deleted--on March 16.


IndieBound: Other Indie Favorites

From last week's Indie bestseller lists, available at, here are the recommended titles, which are also Indie Next picks:


The Leisure Seeker: A Novel by Michael Zadoorian (Morrow, $24.99, 9780061671784/0061671789). "John and Ella Robina are an infirm, elderly couple who refuse to go quietly into that dark night, and The Leisure Seeker is a funny, touching tribute to their spirit."--Rhoda Wolff, Schuler Books & Music, Lansing, Mich.

Nature's Second Chance: Restoring the Ecology of Stone Prairie Farm by Steven I. Apfelbaum (Beacon, $25.95, 9780807085820/0807085820). "Long before 'being green' was fashionable--some 30 years ago, in fact--Steven Apfelbaum started to return his 80-acre Wisconsin farm to its natural health and beauty as prairie, wetland, and savanna. Here, he recounts the joys and difficulties of pursuing his vision."--Ellen Sandmeyer, Sandmeyer's Bookstore, Chicago, Ill.


The Nightingale: A Novel
by Morgana Gallaway (Kensington, $14, 9780758227287/0758227280). "This timely book, set in contemporary Mosul, is a great read about a young woman caught between two war-time cultures--that of her formerly prominent, very traditional Moslem family and that of a world of more Western values. The Nightingale looks at the Iraq War from different points of view and offers much to think about."--Linda Vinstra, Great Northern Books and Hobbies, Oscoda, Mich.

For Ages 9-12

We Can't All Be Rattlesnakes by Patrick Jennings (HarperCollins, $15.99, 9780060821142/0060821140). "Crusher the gopher snake matches wits with his filthy, fleshy human captor in this hilarious snake-eye view of the world. This is a charmer!"--Jennifer Laughran, Books Inc., San Francisco, Calif.

[Many thanks to IndieBound and the ABA!]


Deeper Understanding

BEA Changes: Reed Reenvisions the Show from Scratch

The many changes at BookExpo America announced in recent weeks--a permanent site in New York and a shortened, midweek schedule are most striking--came out of an exercise in which some Reed Exhibitions staff, most of them not associated with BEA, sought to "build the preeminent North American trade book event as if there were no tradition, no history, no sense that we've always done certain things in certain ways," Lance Fensterman, BEA's industry v-p and event director, told Shelf Awareness.

Some decisions came quickly. "We had no hesitation about where to host it," said Fensterman, the sole BEA staffer who took part in the original exercise. "New York is logical. It's the capital of the publishing world. We would no more have an auto show in El Paso or a gambling show in Salt Lake City. The many reasons we moved the show traditionally no longer are really relevant." BEA serves "at least seven major constituencies," he continued, and having the show in New York serves a majority of them. (For example, most New York publishers are happy to have the show in their backyard, the media is centered in New York and most international and rights visitors love the Big Apple and tend not to attend BEAs in other cities in their usual numbers.)

Fensterman emphasized that he understands "for some booksellers and librarians the New York location creates hardship." That's why the show is offering free admission for ABA members. "The offer's not a make-or-break thing," he added, "but it's a gesture of appreciation, that we value you."

A more important draw than location is the event itself, he said. "If we create something compelling, valuable and relevant, people will find their way to it."

The decision to hold the show midweek stemmed from the same reimagining exercise that parked the show in New York. "We've been the only major trade book event in the world held on weekends," Fensterman said. "Back in the day, bookshops were closed Memorial Day weekend [when the old ABA show used to be held, decades ago], but my store's busiest days were Saturday followed by Sunday. It seems illogical to take booksellers out of their stores on their busiest days. And most major constituencies of the show are Monday-through-Friday types."

The idea behind shortening the show is to "focus on quality over quantity," Fensterman stated. Under the new scenario, the first day of the three-day show would consist of educational programming and a preview of the show from 4-6 p.m. followed by two full days of a trade show. He said he would rather have three days of "a high quality, highly focused experience" than four days with a last day on which many people are heading home. "Potentially it's one less night away from work or the family."

As for the latest addition, the Uptown and Downtown Stages, featuring authors on the show floor, Fensterman said that BEA is "half curating the panels, half allowing the publishers to do so." BEA is suggesting some combinations of authors, themes and moderators. The addition of the stages, he continued, is "indicative of something larger--putting authors and books in the forefront. It's how we're different from other fairs--you can meet the authors and touch the books. We want exhibitors to change how they view the show and look at their space as an event, a spectacle, not just a place to hand out catalogues. They should put their authors and books in the front of booksellers, librarians, rights specialists and others."

Fensterman envisions the preview as "setting the stage for what the show will be." Festivities may include a ceremony or event. Starting this year, BEA is holding an opening press conference the day before the show opens. In part, "we will try to tell the story of what BEA is all about."

Continuing the theme of quality over quantity, educational programming for this year's show has already been cut to about 45 panels and events instead of 90 or more. "We're serving a handful of communities and are focusing on them and keeping it simple," Fensterman said. The cutbacks in educational events also allows the show to have fewer panels while the show floor is open. This year, between 10:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. on the first and second days of the show, there will be essentially no programming competing with the show floor.

BEA has also revamped its attendee categories, so that instead of just "industry professional, rights professional, bookseller and librarian" categories, there are 10. "This helps us identify attendees accurately and make access less easy for people for whom the show is not really relevant," Fensterman said. "We want this to focus on quality people." For example, "If you're an unpublished author looking to push an MS, this show is not really for you."

Although BEA has considered opening the show to the public--many other major trade shows like Frankfurt open to the public for part of the time--there are no plans to do so at BEA, Fensterman said.

Concerning possible discussions by BEA with the booksellers associations in the western U.S. to put on a joint fall trade show or otherwise work together, Fensterman said that "currently there are no plans for such an event, but my mind is always open to the very best way to serve our customers."

In related news, BEA has relaunched its website, which has a link to Fensterman's blog, Medium at Large. The blog is as informative as it is entertaining (how could he write one that wasn't?), and he updates it regularly. He also said he answers every e-mail, "even the angry ones!"--John Mutter


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