Shelf Awareness for Monday, March 9, 2009

Inkyard Press: Ring of Solomon by Aden Polydoros

Chronicle Prism: Men in Blazers Present Gods of Soccer: The Pantheon of the 100 Greatest Soccer Players (According to Us) by Roger Bennett, Michael Davies, and Miranda Davis; illustrated by Nate Kitch

Neal Porter Books: I Don't Care by Julie Fogliano, illustrated by Molly Idle and Juana Martinez-Neal

Tor Nightfire: The Spite House by Johnny Compton

Candlewick Press (MA): Build a House by Rhiannon Giddens, illustrated by Monica Mikai

Popular Book Company (Usa): Complete Curriculum Success Series, Math Success Series, English Success Series, 365 Fun Days

Yen on: Fox Tales by Tomihiko Morimi, translated by Winifred Bird


Notes: Innovative E-Books; Renting Out Bookstore Space

In an article "Innovation and the Future of e-Books" available--appropriately--as a free downloadable PDF, John Warren, marketing director of publications at the Rand Corp., examines three innovative e-books: "The first is a history e-text that includes 1,700 primary-source documents--such as Presidential memos, reports, and even audio and video clips--linked from footnotes, providing a treasure trove of research material to readers. The second is a novella in hypertext form. The third example examines digital textbooks that include multimedia, assessment, and other digital tools. Each of these cases demonstrates creative approaches, business models, and methods of review that point to the enhanced, interactive, interlinked future of the e-book."

The paper first appeared in the International Journal of the Book, published by Common Ground.


Gary Kleiman, owner of Bookbeat bookstore and café, Fairfax, Calif., had been trying to sell his business for a year, but now he is "trying a different approach," the Marin Independent Journal reported. "He's renting space in a series of cubicles in his store where artists, musicians, herbal medicine suppliers and others can sell their wares.

"The theory was to keep us self-sustaining through sales, and also reach out to the local community by inviting them to come in and sell goods that weren't big enough to be in a retail store," Kleiman said.

Noting that  he doesn't "have too much resistance to change," Kleiman told the Journal that the only adverse customer reaction he's ever had was to an April Fool's joke he played last year, when he "placed a sign in his window announcing that his store would become Fairfax's first Starbucks. The resulting uproar reminded him just how much residents care about their local bookstore."


Author Jeanette Winterson revisited Shakespeare and Company bookstore in Paris and its 93-year-old owner, George Whitman, whom she first met in 2007. "While there are plenty of readers who are not writers," she wrote in the Guardian, "there are no writers who are not readers, and one of the great gifts of this extraordinary bookshop is to keep writers and readers on the same creative continuum. Writers are not reduced to small-time semi-celebrities, and readers are not patronised as consumers. As [Whitman's daughter] Sylvia says, 'We sell books for a living, but it's the books that are our life.'"


Boing Boing featured "Why the Real Estate Boom Won't Bust and other funny books still for sale on Amazon."


The New Atlantic Independent Booksellers Association is holding several more NAIBAhood Gatherings this spring for members. To RSVP, call 516-333-0681 or write

Tuesday, April 14, 11 a.m.- 2 p.m., at Creekside Books & Cafe, Skaneateles, N.Y. Owner Erika Davis will talk about authors and events, press kits, making the store a gathering place for the community and sidelines, among other topics. Discussion will also cover staffing, marketing, publicity and cafes. Lunch at the store's Cafe.

Sunday, April 26, 4-7 p.m., at breathe books, Baltimore, Md., owned by Susan Weis. Co-host is Mark LaFramboise of Politics and Prose, Washington, D.C. Among discussion topics: local alliances, community outreach, book clubs. Dinner at the Dogwood, which specializes in food from local, organic farms.

Wednesday, May 6, 4-7 p.m., at Penguin Bookshop, Sewickley, Pa., which will show off its new space. Among discussion topics: sales in a down economy, managing costs, getting authors to visit the region, creating consumer day trips to the many bookstores in the area. Dinner at the Sewickly Cafe.


Tiny Reparations Books: Gone Like Yesterday by Janelle M. Williams

Five-Alarm Alert: Book Rack Morphs into Old Firehouse Books

The following appeared in the Mountains & Plains Independent Booksellers Association newsletter and was written by executive director Lisa Knudsen:

Susie Wilmer and Dick Sommerfeld, owners of the Book Rack in Fort Collins, Colo., are delighted to announce that they are moving and re-naming their store. On March 31. they will close the doors at their current location just south of downtown Fort Collins, where they have been for nine years. After a week of feverish activity, they will reopen in Old Town as Old Firehouse Books. Dick, Susie and store manager Jacqie Hasan had been looking for a downtown location for several years; so when a spot opened up in the charming and historic Fort Collins firehouse building, which was built in 1881, they jumped at the chance. The local historical society has strict rules governing use of these old buildings, but fortunately they were so thrilled to have a new bookstore in Old Town that they put up relatively few impediments to the minor changes that were required.

Prior to opening the Book Rack in Fort Collins, Dick and Susie owned two other Book Racks in Greeley, Colo., and Cheyenne, Wyo., which they sold in 1995 and 2000. Both stores are still in operation. For a number of years only used books were sold at the Fort Collins store, but, encouraged by an MPIBA Spring Meeting seminar directed at used-only stores, Dick and Susie began adding new books about three years ago and their current inventory consists of about 30,000 used books and 15,000 new. When asked if she expected to increase the percentage of new titles in the new store, Susie said that they plan to see what's selling and act accordingly. The new store will have 2,700 square feet of selling space, which will allow more room for author readings and planned children's story hours. There is a vacant prime spot adjacent to the new bookstore, which hopefully may soon house a teashop.

The old firehouse is in the heart of Old Town Fort Collins and is surrounded by historic buildings housing many shops and restaurants. The new store will be the third point on a triangle of MPIBA stores that are located within a block of each other. Each store has a very unique ambiance and specialty. Matter Bookstore, which opened three years ago in the rear half of a popular coffee shop, carries used books and a selection of new books that reflect owner Matt Simmons's devotion to the causes of sustainability and the environment. Al's Newsstand, managed by former MPIBA Board member Pam Orzell, is located in another historic building which has housed a newsstand since 1905. In their long and narrow 1,500-sq.-ft. space, they carry cigars and candy, a small selection of new books in hardcover and mass market and hundreds of magazines.

Kathy and I are the big winners in this arrangement, as the MPIBA office is right across the street from the old firehouse!


Also from Lisa Knudsen in the MPIBA newsletter:

One and a half years ago, after lengthy research and meetings with local government and citizens who said that they would welcome and support a bookstore, Craig Johnson finished renovating an historic building in Golden, Colo., and opened a beautiful beautiful store--Clear Creek Books.

Earlier this week it was reported in various media (including Shelf Awareness, February 28, 2009) that Clear Creek might have to close; however, Craig told me yesterday that townspeople have rallied since hearing that the store was in financial difficulties. Last week a man came in and handed him a check for $20,000. However, Craig knows that while these instances of individual generosity are great, his business is not going to survive long-term unless everyone in this small town in the foothills outside Denver accepts "Shop with your local independent" as their savior. No more paying lip service to the local while stopping off at the Barnes & Noble after work in Denver or ordering from Amazon at 3 a.m.

[Johnson and business leaders held a community meeting over the weekend.]


GLOW: Disney-Hyperion: Simon Sort of Says by Erin Bow

New New Jersey Bookstore Offers More than Books

Jonah Zimiles owes his career as a bookseller in part to his wife, Ellen, who was walking in Maplewood, N.J., last summer and saw a sign on the door of Goldfinch Books announcing it was for sale. The couple subsequently purchased the store, moved it from a side street to a larger location on the town's main thoroughfare, and reopened in January as Words.

The new proprietor, who hired all of Goldfinch's employees, candidly admits he's not exactly a "book nut" or even had a desire to own a retail business. "We're driven by a love for our community more than anything else," said Zimiles, who has lived in Maplewood with his family for 19 years. "We strongly believe that a thriving independent bookstore is an absolutely critical component to our town's continued vitality."

Zimiles's route to bookselling was a circuitous one. He practiced law for more than a decade and later worked at a non-profit organization. He then became a stay-at-home dad after his son, who is now 13, was diagnosed with autism. Zimiles has since earned an MBA from Columbia, where he received more than business training. "They were inspirational to me," he said. "In particular they have something called the Social Enterprise Program, which emphasizes ways that for-profit businesses can help society."

Zimiles plans to turn Words's lower level into a space to provide vocational training for people with developmental disabilities. A teenager with special needs will soon be joining the bookstore staff. Zimiles would like it known that everyone is welcome at Words. "It's very hard for parents of children with special needs to bring them into stores," he said. "We want to provide a haven for those families. It doesn't matter how their kids act up. We'd love to have them anytime whether they buy books or not."

The store has a substantial and still-growing special needs section. "My ambition is to have it be the best in New Jersey. It's one of the ways in which we can stand out as a bookstore," noted Zimiles. Another highlight is the business section stocked with volumes by Columbia professors and alumni. There is also an abundant selection of general fiction, mystery, science fiction and fantasy titles, which are popular with former Goldfinch customers.

Words's social mission inspired several businesses to offer their services pro bono, including an interior designer and a publicist. The New York advertising agency Barker/DZP helped develop the store's color palette and branded merchandise (including an umbrella), as well as the store's moniker, which along with the literary connotation has another meaning. Zimiles explained: "Children with autism are always being told to use their words," which is not always easy for them, A wall in the children's section is adorned with words such as fun, family, friends, laugh and sing.

To bolster his bookselling prowess, Zimiles attended the ABA's Winter Institute and the NAIBA show last fall. He has received advice and encouragement from industry veterans like Jonathan Welch of Talking Leaves Books in Buffalo, N.Y., and Garden State colleagues Harvey Finkel and Rob Dougherty of the Clinton Book Shop and Margot Sage-EL of Watchung Booksellers in Montclair.

The first in-store event at Words was held a week ago last Saturday, when a crowd of excited customers turned out for Mario and Matilda Cuomo. The former New York governor read from his children's tome, C Is for Ciao: An Italy Alphabet, and promoted Why Lincoln Matters and some of his other titles. Mrs. Cuomo discussed her book, The Person Who Changed My Life: Prominent Americans Recall Their Mentors.

As for opening a business during an economic downturn, Zimiles is both optimistic and pragmatic. "I think this is a great idea," he said. "It's a great space, a great community, but if we have a depression it doesn't matter how much everyone loves us. No one will be able to afford to buy anything." It was in part because of the state of the economy that he decided to take a risk and open Words. Said Zimiles, "We felt that it was important for somebody to stand up and start something new and give a dose of optimism to the community."--Shannon McKenna Schmidt

Words is located at 179 Maplewood Avenue, Maplewood, N.J. 07040; 973-763-9500;


Harper: Stone Blind by Natalie Haynes

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Bodies, Booky Wook, Live Nude Girl

This morning on the Today Show: Jean Chatzky, author of The Difference: How Anyone Can Prosper in Even the Toughest Times (Crown Business, $24.95, 9780307407139/0307407136).


This morning on Good Morning America: Michael F. Roizen and Mehmet C. Oz, authors of YOU: Being Beautiful: The Owner's Manual to Inner and Outer Beauty (Free Press, $26.99, 9781416572343/1416572341).


Today on All Things Considered: James Mann, author of The Rebellion of Ronald Reagan: A History of the End of the Cold War (Viking, $27.95, 9780670020546/0670020540).


Today on Talk of the Nation: Kathleen Rooney, author of Live Nude Girl: My Life as an Object (University of Arkansas Press, $22.50, 9781557288912/1557288917). The author, whose book is a memoir about modeling nude for art classes, has been writing about her bookstore tour, Live Nude Girl in the Devil's Territory, on her blog.


Today on the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric: Susie Orbach, author of Bodies: Big Ideas/Small Books (Picador, $14, 9780312427207/0312427204), will discuss the negative impact the Barbie doll has had on women's body image on Barbie's 50th birthday.


Tonight on Larry King Live: Rachael Ray.


Tonight on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart: Nathaniel Frank, author of Unfriendly Fire: How the Gay Ban Undermines the Military and Weakens America (Thomas Dunne/St. Martin's, $25.95, 9780312373481/0312373481).


Tonight on the Late Show with David Letterman: Russell Brand, author of My Booky Wook: A Memoir of Sex, Drugs, and Stand-Up (Collins, $25.99, 9780061730412/0061730416). Brand is also on the Today Show tomorrow morning.


Tomorrow morning on the Today Show: Cheryl Forberg, author of The Biggest Loser 30-Day Jump Start: Lose Weight, Get in Shape, and Start Living the Biggest Loser Lifestyle Today (Rodale, $21.95, 9781605297828/1605297828).


Tomorrow night on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart: Craig Mullaney, author of The Unforgiving Minute: A Soldier's Education (Penguin Press, $28.95, 9781594202025/1594202028).


BINC: Carla Gray Memorial Scholarship

Books & Authors

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 Rose Variations by Marisha Chamberlain (Soho, $24, 9781569475386/1569475385). "Marisha Chamberlain's novel tells the story of classical musician Rose MacGregor, who weaves her way through triumphs and tribulations looking for answers, fulfillment, and the possibility of happiness. We cheer Rose as she composes her way through life in this well-written and engaging novel."--Ann Carlson, Harborwalk Books, Georgetown, S.C.

Script and Scribble: The Rise and Fall of Handwriting
by Kitty Burns Florey (Melville House, $22.95, 9781933633671/1933633670). "Tracing the story from the earliest cave scribblings to the Palmer Method to today's text-message-composed novels, this is a great read for anyone who has ever agonized over their signature, wondered what the slant on their 'l' means, or deplored the state of penmanship in today's typing world."--Jenn Northington, the King's English, Salt Lake City, Utah


A Grave in Gaza by Matt Beynon Rees (Mariner, $13.95, 9780547086255/0547086253). "This international mystery beautifully depicts the sights, smells, and sounds of both the historical and modern-day Gaza Strip. The conflicts of the U.N., Israelis, and Palestinians are descriptive, bold, and humane--a truly wonderful read by a literary storyteller from the Mideast!"--Kathleen Dixon, Islandtime Books & More, Washington Island, Wis.

For Teen Readers

The Fetch by Laura Whitcomb (Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, $17, 9780618891313/0618891315). "When Calder, a ghostly minister of death, falls in love with a mortal, neither things on earth nor things in the spiritual realm will ever be the same! Readers will be enthralled by this unique combination of supernatural thrills, historical fiction, and sweeping romance as Whitcomb crafts a novel that is singular and enchanting."--Megan Graves, Hooray for Books!, Alexandria, Va.

[Many thanks to IndieBound and the ABA!]


Book Review

Book Review: The Face on Your Plate

The Face on Your Plate: The Truth about Food by Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson (W. W. Norton & Company, $24.95 Hardcover, 9780393065954, March 2009)

Vegetarians, "the enemy of everything good and decent in the human spirit," as Anthony Bourdain famously said, have long been derided as crunchy, cause-loving extremists; not to mention vegans (whom Bourdain likens to Hezbollah), whose dietary choice is often regarded with open-mouthed expressions of dismay. But in these carcinogenic days of globally warmed all-you-can-E. coli obesity, even the most stalwart carnivores are wondering if perhaps we should try eating a little lower on the food chain. It is precisely this notion--eschewing meat for the health of the body, spirit and planet--that Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson tackles in his clear, concise and deeply thoughtful new book.
A long-time vegetarian, Masson wisely avoids lapsing into the kind of hysterical screed that prompts knee-jerk anti-vegetarian reactions, opting instead to present his case with logical, scientifically-backed arguments. To begin, he challenges the notions that humans a) were designed to eat meat, b) need meat to be healthy and c) can't evolve out of eating meat. Next he addresses the very real (and well documented) danger that intensive animal agriculture and aquaculture pose to the environment. Just a few examples: livestock produce more greenhouse gasses than the entire transportation sector, antibiotic-laden manure run-off is poisoning our waterways, aquifers are becoming depleted and countless acres of rainforest are leveled to make room for single-crop feed. Perhaps even more alarming (since it is so much more immediate for most of us) is the toxicity of the meat we eat. That meat and dairy are loaded with hormones and antibiotics is perhaps not new information. That farmed salmon are dyed with toxic chemicals to achieve the pink color that wild salmon get from eating shrimp or that farmed fish are exposed to known carcinogens to rid them of sea lice may, however, come as an unwelcome surprise to the many who consider fish a "health" food.
Most fascinating, however, is Masson's final section, which addresses the lives and deaths of animals raised for food and the complex psychological gyrations humans must perform in order to accept, condone, justify or deny the production--and destruction--of these animals. "If we have the capacity to imagine the suffering of an animal," Masson writes, "we also have the power to refuse to allow ourselves to think about that suffering." Further expanding this line of reasoning, Masson also posits some answers to the question of whether there is an ethical way to raise, kill and eat an animal.

Intelligent, absorbing and very easy to digest, this is an essential book for any person who thinks and/or eats.--Debra Ginsberg
Shelf Talker:  A must-read examination of the emotional, physical and environmental impact of eating meat.


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