Shelf Awareness for Thursday, March 5, 2009

Hampton Roads Publishing Company: Becoming Baba Yaga: Trickster, Feminist, and Witch of the Woods by Kris Spisak, Foreword by Gennarose Nethercott

Dial Press: Like Mother, Like Mother by Susan Rieger

Severn House: A Messy Murder (Main) (The Decluttering Mysteries #4) by Simon Brett

Forge: My Three Dogs by Bruce W Cameron

Running Press Adult: Scam Goddess: Lessons from a Life of Cons, Grifts, and Schemes by Laci Mosley

Chronicle Books: Taste in Music: Eating on Tour with Indie Musicians by Luke Pyenson and Alex Beeker

Quotation of the Day

'In Praise of the Sales Force'

"Though it's easy to find an outsource firm that'll get your books from Warehouse (A) to Store (B), it's a lot harder to find the cost-effective firm that will convince Store (B) to order the book from You (C). That's shoe-leather business, the slow, messy human-factor business of getting to know thousands of key people around the country, people who will introduce your book to readers who haven't heard of you and don't know why they should be reading you (good bookselling is fractal: the sales rep knows what the clerk will like, and the clerk knows what the reader will like)."--Cory Doctorow, from his Locus Magazine column, "In Praise of the Sales Force."


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The Value of a Free-Book?

E-book issues continue to stir up readers--most recently the new NelsonFree program allowing the purchaser of a NelsonFree book to download the audiobook and e-book versions for free as well as the appearance of a Kindle app for the iPhone and iPod.

On one side, Roger D. Doeren, COO of Rainy Day Books, Fairway, Kan., wrote:

Joe Miller, publisher of Thomas Nelson, is a genius and guru. Pure and simple, Joe is offering the trifecta, the compass that will guide the market. Joe's economy of scale makes sense out of dollars. With Joe's offering, everybody benefits. Joe's choice turns "or" into "and"--the way it should be and for everybody's benefit. Joe Miller's idea is an offer that even Jeff Bezos cannot beat.

On the other hand, Bill Schubart, author and media commentator, wrote:

Nelson's offer of free e-books as a bonus to the purchase of a book is like a carcinogenic snack. It undermines the established logic of pricing. Right now the cost of distributing e-books is low and the perceived customer value is low because of the very low penetration of e-readers. Demand will, however, change as more consumers read digitally. They will then, of course, balk at having to pay for content they got as a bonus.

Surely book publishers can learn from the newspaper industry's bad tactical decision to offer their content free online. When a large sector of their paying content consumers went online, the newspapers tried in vain to assess an online subscriber fee. Consumers don't like paying for what had been free.

Let's say novel content is worth $12. The online edition is $14.95, the hardcover $27.95 and the endgame paperback $17.95. Embedding this logic in consumers and imbuing the content itself with the higher value is important and comes with the protection of the copyright monopoly. The medium of sale should define the remaining value.

This of course is an author's perspective. If content is a means to sell books, the industry is doomed. If the medium is the vehicle for the sale of valuable content, the industry has a shot. Bloomberg has always understood this intrinsically.

Having priced books rather than content for so long book publishing has eroded perceived value so far that there may be no chance for recovery.


GLOW: Sourcebooks Landmark: A Forty Year Kiss by Nickolas Butler


Notes: Harper Unveils It Books, a New Imprint

Weeks after closing down its Collins imprint, HarperCollins is launching another imprint called It Books, which will publish hardcover and paperback original titles on pop culture, sports, style and material from the Internet, the New York Times reported. Initial titles include Twitter Wit, a collection of Twitter posts; The Style Strategy by Nina Garcia, a Project Runway judge; and Chocolate, Please, a memoir by comedian Lisa Lampanelli.

It Books will be led by Carrie Kania, publisher of Harper Perennial who recently added responsibility for Collins Design. Staff includes Mauro DiPreta, editorial director at HarperEntertainment, "whose pending titles will be merged into the new imprint," and Cal Morgan, editorial director at Harper Perennial who earlier worked at defunct ReganBooks. The company plans no new hires for It Books.

Kania, who some might now consider the It Girl, told the Times that the imprint is "a response to the economic times in many ways. It's escapism and fun. We want to publish books that people want to buy and read. As people turn to movies and television, we want them to turn to books as well, and this seems like a perfect fit for them."

Kania and Michael Morrison, president and publisher of the general books division, had discussed the idea for some six months.

The imprint will have its own subimprint, Igniter, led by Neil Straus, a former Times reporter and author of The Game, and Anthony Bozza, who has helped several rock stars write autobiographies. Igniter's first title is The World According to Bozo the Clown, an autobiography by the late Larry Harmon.


Sadly we hear that Byblos Livrarias, the Lisbon, Portugal, bookstore that opened in December 2007 and used RFID tags on all its books and other products, has filed for bankruptcy.

Last October, manager Fernando Fontes spoke about the store at the Supply Chain Specialists meeting at the Frankfurt Book Fair (Shelf Awareness, October 19, 2008). He said that the store had 35,000 square feet of space and sold 150,000 titles and 350,000 items overall, including music and games, was developed by a former publishing company and called itself "the first intelligent bookshop."

Unfortunately our knowledge of Portuguese bankruptcy law is too rusty to know exactly what the filing means for Byblos.


At a party held February 23, "dozens of bookstore owners, booksellers, and authors from as far away as Bellingham gathered at the wood-lined, slightly claustrophobic pub in the basement of Ravenna Third Place Books to raise a glass with former HarperCollins sales rep Seira Wilson, according to the Stranger, which observed that, "even as people downstairs were fearing for the future of Seattle's bookstore industry, Ravenna Third Place Books was thriving upstairs."


Literary Life Bookstore and More, Grand Rapids, Mich., "conjures memories of small town living, or perhaps Grand Rapids bookstores of yesteryear," according to Rapid Growth. "Years of passionate, absorbed reading are Devlin’s guide when stocking the shelves."

"Keeping a bookstore open is a hard thing to do; it demands every ounce of effort," said Devlin. "But there is a lot of value in having one of these on the corner. . . . Small, independent bookstores like LitLife offer books, of course, and we hope that we can impart some of our knowledge about great reads to our customers. But we also offer so much more that might not be readily apparent."


Leonardo Padura, author of The Havana Quartet (translated by Peter Bush), selected his top 10 Cuban novels for the Guardian, which observed that Padura "looks beyond the Cuba we think we know to introduce some of the island's more hidden literary treasures."

"Cuba is a country of poets," wrote Padura. "It would almost be too easy to select 10 poets or books of poetry that play a key role in the short history of Cuban literature. But there are excellent--and diverse--Cuban novelists, too few of whom are available in English translation. The 10 I've picked here will hopefully give some idea of both the country's literary tradition, and its imaginative life."


Here's another take on The Kindly Ones by Jonathan Littell, published here this week. In her new column for the Wall Street Journal, former Publishers Weekly editor-in-chief Sara Nelson wrote that part of the attraction of the book for the industry is "because it offered what publishers are increasingly searching for these days: controversy, splashiness, something for readers to get worked up about, pro or con--characteristics that might or might not have anything to do with the quality of the prose or story therein."


To help Lawrence Ferlinghetti, co-founder and co-owner of City Lights Booksellers and Publishers, San Francisco, Calif., celebrate his 90th birthday on March 24, the store is asking customers and fans to share birthday greetings and wishes. Send them to; the store will pass them on to the birthday boy and share some of them. No public event is planned.


Bookazine is hosting its third annual Kids Spring Arrivals Event on Friday, March 27, 12 noon-3 p.m., in Princeton, N.J. The program includes lunch; a presentation by Bookazine children's buyer Heather Doss about lead children's and YA titles for the spring/summer season; and a discussion about stocking the right mix of graphic novels and manga for children led by John Davis, Bookazine's director, pop culture markets.

Among authors who will speak and sign books: Gayle Forman (If I Stay); Peter Brown (Curious Garden), Erik Craddock (Stone Rabbit #1: BC Mambo) and Alexa Kitchen (Grown-ups Are Dumb (No Offense)).

Space is limited. For more information and to make reservations (via e-mail please), contact Bookazine's Ron Rice at


Effective immediately, Katherine Szadziewicz has been promoted to promotion director of Pelican Publishing. She was formerly promotion associate. 


Obituary Note: Horton Foote

Horton Foote, playwright and screenwriter, died yesterday. He was 92.

Among his screenplays were To Kill a Mockingbird, Tender Mercies and The Trip to Bountiful. His plays included The Young Man from Atlanta and The Carpetbagger's Children.

In a long obituary, the New York Times called Foote a "chronicler of a wistful American odyssey through the 20th century in plays and films mostly set in a small town in Texas and who left a literary legacy as one of the country's foremost storytellers."

The Times's Frank Rich called Foote "a major American dramatist whose epic body of work recalls Chekhov in its quotidian comedy and heartbreak, and Faulkner in its ability to make his own corner of America stand for the whole."

True to character, at the time of his death, Foote was working an adaptation of his own nine-play Orphans' Home Cycle.


Image of the Day: Longstockings Celebration

Tuesday night the Longstockings writers group celebrated the publication of the latest book by a member of the group: My Life in Pink and Green by Lisa Greenwald (Amulet). Gathered around Greenwald (from l.): Jenny Han, author of Shug; Kathryne Alfred; Coe Booth, author of Kendra and Tyrell; and Daphne Grab, author of Alive and Well in Prague, New York.


Media and Movies

Media Heat: Joker One

Today on the Diane Rehm Show: Rashid Khalidi, author of Sowing Crisis: The Cold War and American Dominance in the Middle East (Beacon, $25.95, 9780807003107/0807003107).


Today on Fresh Air: former Marine Donovan Campbell, author of Joker One: A Marine Platoon's Story of Courage, Leadership, and Brotherhood (Random House, $26, 9781400067732/1400067731).


WETA's Author Author! has posted an interview with Michael Kimball, author of Dear Everybody (Alma Books, $19.95, 9781846880551/1846880556).


Tomorrow on the Today Show during a segment on teens and the Internet: Debra Haffner, author of What Every 21st-Century Parent Needs to Know (Newmarket Press, paperback $16.95, 9781557047267/155704726X; hardcover, $24.95, 9781557047878/1557047871).


This Weekend on Book TV: Little Pink House

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, March 7

8 a.m. Michael Korda, author of With Wings Like Eagles: A History of the Battle of Britain (Harper, $25.99, 9780061125355/0061125350), recounts the 1940 battle between the Royal Air Force and the Luftwaffe. (Re-airs Saturday at 11 p.m.
7 p.m. Sana Butler, author of Sugar of the Crop: My Journey to Find the Children of Slaves (Lyons Press, $24.95 9781599213750/1599213753), presents a view of post-Civil War life. (Re-airs Sunday at 7 a.m.)
10 p.m. After Words. Al Jazeera English correspondent Josh Rushing interviews Garry Leech, author of Beyond Bogota: Diary of a Drug War Journalist in Colombia (Beacon, $25.95, 9780807061459/080706145X). Leech examines the drug war in Colombia and chronicles his time as a captive of the guerilla organization FARC. (Re-airs Sunday at 9 p.m., Monday at 12 a.m. and 3 a.m., and Sunday, March 15, at 12 p.m.)
Sunday, March 8

12 a.m. For an event hosted by Vroman's Bookstore, Pasadena, Calif., Martha Sandweiss, author of Passing Strange: A Gilded Age Tale of Love and Deception Across the Color Line (Penguin, $27.95, 9781594202001/1594202001), talks about 19th century geologist and surveyor Clarence King, who lived a double life as James Todd, a black Pullman porter and steelworker, in order to marry his African-American wife. (Re-airs Sunday at 8 p.m. and Monday at 4 a.m.)
9:45 a.m. For an event at Politics and Prose bookstore, Washington, D.C., Thomas P.M. Barnett, author of Great Powers: America and the World After Bush (Putnam, $29.95, 9780399155376/0399155376), discusses the challenges and opportunities facing the U.S. now. (Re-airs Sunday at 7 p.m. and Monday, at 4:45 a.m.)

1 p.m. Jeff Benedict, author of Little Pink House: A True Story of Defiance and Courage (Grand Central, $26.99, 9780446508629/0446508624), talks about a Connecticut woman's eminent domain battle to keep her house that was appealed to U.S. Supreme Court. (Re-airs Monday at 5:45 a.m.)


Books & Authors

Awards: B&N Discover Great New Writers; Florida Book Awards

The winners of the 16th annual Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers Awards:


  • Winner: The Well and the Mine by Gin Phillips (Hawthorne Books & Literary Arts)
  • Second-place honors: The Book of Getting Even by Benjamin Taylor (Steerforth Press)
  • Third-place honors: Sway by Zachary Lazar (Little, Brown)


  • Winner: Beautiful Boy by David Sheff (Houghton Mifflin)
  • Second-place honors: The Geography of Bliss by Eric Weiner (Twelve)
  • Third-place honors: Blue Sky July by Nia Wyn (Dutton)

Each winner receives $10,000 and a year of additional marketing and merchandising support in B&N stores. Runners up receive $5,000. Third-place winners receive $2,500.

The judges said that The Well and the Mine, Gin Phillips's first novel, set in Depression-era Alabama, is "a Greek chorus of Southern voices weighing in on life in a small coal-mining community after a young girl witnesses the sight of an infant thrown in her family's well." Jurist Mark Jude Poirier commented: "Phillips artfully engages the traditions of Southern literature but somehow remains fresh and original. A brilliant and memorable debut." 

Concerning Beautiful Boy, "David Sheff's heartrending account of his efforts to save his son, Nic, from the horrors of methamphetamine addiction," nonfiction jurist and 2002 Discover Award winner (A Death in Texas) Dina Temple-Raston, said, "From the early pages of this book until its conclusion, readers will find themselves not only rooting for a young man who (in less deft hands) would have lost our sympathy, but also for a father who clearly--like any parent--would give anything to shoulder his son's struggle in his stead. I couldn't put this book down."


The third annual Florida Book Awards, given in eight categories for "the best Florida literature published the previous year," have been announced. View the winners here.


Children's Book Reviews: Duck! Rabbit! and Chicken Little

Duck! Rabbit! by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld (Chronicle, $16.99, 9780811868655/0811868656, 40 pp., ages 4-8, March 2009)

Chicken Little by Rebecca and Ed Emberley (Roaring Brook/Porter, $16.95, 9781596434646/1596434643, 32 pp., ages 3-7, March 2009)

Two inventive picture books use bold graphic elements to explore the idea of perception and perspective. The enigmatic thickly outlined image on the cover of Duck! Rabbit! becomes a source of debate between two offstage characters: one sees the image as a duck ("See, there's his bill"), the other sees it as a rabbit ("What are you talking about? Those are ears, silly"). Lichtenheld (The OK Book) uses darker shadings of blue sky and a well-placed slice of bread and carrot, among other details, to help each unseen debater make his or her case. The answer remains a mystery, allowing youngest audience members to consider what characteristics define each of the creatures and to see how they might build evidence to mount a persuasive argument. Also, although the two offstage characters argue, they respectfully disagree (often with humor); Rosenthal's (Little Pea) narrative thereby models healthy discussion.

The classic tale of Chicken Little gets a hilarious makeover in the second title, thanks to veteran father-and-daughter team Ed and Rebecca Emberley. The pair paints the title character as an idle fellow who is "very excitable and prone to foolishness." These qualities also set him up to gullibly play the victim and to take others of like minds along with him. "Oh my goodness, oh my gracious! . . . The sky is falling! The sky is falling! I must run for my life!" becomes his refrain. He takes a cloud-patterned umbrella along for shelter as he "[runs] out into the world without much of a plan." He literally runs into Henny Penny, Lucky Ducky and Loosey Goosey with his umbrella, repeating his refrain as he leads them ever closer to Foxy Loxy's clutches. Luckily, his prey give the fox a tickle in his "warm dark cave" of a mouth, which results in a life-sparing sneeze. The wide eyes of the birds, depicted in crayon-bright collage illustrations, emphasize their ignorance, while the spiral pattern in the fox's eyes suggest his hungry obsession. Is the fox at fault for capitalizing on the birds' blind mission? Do the feathered friends need to take some responsibility in their failure to assess their situation?

This pair of titles allows even prereaders to observe and discuss the theme of gathering information and evaluating a situation based on the facts, not rumor.--Jennifer M. Brown


The Bestsellers

Top Books at in February

The following were the bestselling books at during February:
1. The Purpose-Driven Life by Rick Warren
2. The Transall Saga by Gary Paulsen
3. Christian Life New Testament With Master Outlines by Thomas Nelson
4. A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
5. Prayers to My King by Sheri Rose Shepherd
6. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
7. The One Minute Manager by Kenneth Blanchard
8. The Revealers by Doug Wilhelm
9. Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls
10. Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World by Vicki Myron

Signed Books:

1. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
2. The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz
3. Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese
4. Fool by Christopher Moore
5. Vagrants by Yiyun Li
6. The Secret Scripture by Sebastian Barry
7. Coraline by Neil Gaiman
8. The Women by T.C. Boyle
9. Drood by Dan Simmons
10. The Widows of Eastwick by John Updike

[Many thanks to!]


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