Shelf Awareness for Thursday, July 16, 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


Notes: Kindle 2 Kontroversy; E-Books; New Blogs and Videos

An unhappy Kindle 2 user has filed a class-action lawsuit against Amazon, charging that cracks on the e-reader's frame have led the device to freeze, the Wall Street Journal reported.

"I think it's a much bigger problem, given the number of posts going up everyday," the plaintiff's lawyer said. "These are just the tip of the iceberg."

An Amazon spokesman told the Journal that the company encourages users with cover attachment problems "to return the cover and device for a free replacement so we can investigate further."


Author Jeffery Deaver chose his top 10 computer novels for the Guardian, which noted that "long before e-books appeared, computers were providing rich material for writers."


NPR's All Things Considered showcased "Radio Reads . . . If you listen to radio, you know it's an intimate medium, and, no offense to my cat, for me, radio is an essential companion. If you've ever known that feeling, even for a moment, then these three books might be on your wavelength."


Quirk Books, publisher of the bestselling Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, has released a book trailer for its next mashup, Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters.


"Shop Local--Save the Planet" is the message of a new retro video made by the Regulator Bookshop, Durham, N.C. Co-owner Tom Campbell wrote: "The basic story is that folks that order from Amazon put three times as many trucks on the road--driving hundreds of miles from the warehouses to their hometown--compared to folks that order from a local store."


HarperStudio's blog, the 26th Story, offered writers preparing for a bookstore signing five tips from Bookseller X "to make a local event work . . . and keep your local booksellers happy."

  1. We are investing in you. Invest in us!
  2. Don't spread yourself too thin.
  3. Please don't second-guess the bookstore.
  4. Stay calm; do not panic!
  5. Enjoy your big day!


Eslite Books, Taiwan's biggest book store, and Far EasTone Telecommunications have joined forces "to promote e-books on the island. They plan to launch an e-book service and e-reader by the second quarter of next year," ITworld reported, noting that the "goal for Far EasTone is to explore e-reading on a range of devices and not just one e-reader, a company official said. Smartphones, mobile Internet devices, netbooks and other devices could also serve as e-readers, the official said."


In Australia, the Bookshop, Darlinghurst, Sydney, is celebrating its 25th anniversary as "the iconic peddler of GLBT books and culture," according to SX News. What's its secret to success?

"We've adapted to change. We've had to," said Graeme Aitken, who told SX News that, "rather than allow online retailers to trample them, the Bookshop has embraced cyberspace, now selling a large proportion of its books online to customers around Australia and overseas via its website."

"The other thing that's been integral to our survival is that we've really diversified the store," he added. "It's not just books anymore and hasn't been for a long time. The last few years, we've really moved into DVDs, CDs and calendars. We actually sell more DVDs than books now. Our biggest-selling title last year was a DVD, the movie Shelter, which sold 400 copies in one month. It's been a decade since we sold 400 copies of a book in one month!"

SX News suggested that "it could be argued that the Bookshop has transcended its original raison d'être to become a one-stop GLBT cultural centre."


Carl Lennertz, v-p for independent retailing at HarperCollins, editor and Publishing Insider blogger, has set up another site,, devoted to music. Recent posts include "top five Motown song covers" and a quiz: "Which three bands changed male lead singers mid-career and became even more successful." He's looking for help with music lists.

Not only that, he's hoping to hear from booksellers about their favorite backlist book--from any publisher--and will post them at and link to the book at their site.


Today is Jessica Stockton Bagnulo's last day at McNally Jackson Books, New York City, where she has worked for three years as events coordinator. She moves on fulltime to her bookstore, Greenlight Bookstore, which she opens with Rebecca Fitting in the Fort Greene section of Brooklyn in September.

In a general e-mail, she wrote: "Hosting events at McNally has been like throwing a party four to six nights a week, and I've loved every minute. I hope to bring to bear at Greenlight everything I've learned in this fascinating and challenging job." She may be reached at

Dustin Kurtz, who has been running the store's website and occasionally hosting events, is becoming events coordinator at McNally Jackson. He may be reached at

BINC: We want your feedback. Take the survey!

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Serious Barbecue

Tomorrow morning on Good Morning America: Adam Perry Lang, author of Serious Barbecue: Smoke, Char, Baste, and Brush Your Way to Great Outdoor Cooking (Hyperion, $35, 9781401323066/1401323065).


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

This Weekend on Book TV: Harlem Book Fair

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, July 18

9 a.m. Jason Kersten, author of The Art of Making Money: The Story of a Master Counterfeiter (Gotham, $26, 9781592404469/1592404464), recounts the criminal exploits of Art Williams, who forged the "most secure bill ever created."
11:30 a.m. Live coverage of the 11th annual Harlem Book Fair from the New York Public Library's Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. (Re-airs Sunday at 12 a.m.)

6 p.m. Encore Booknotes. In a segment that first aired in 1997, Thomas West, author of Vindicating the Founders: Race, Sex, Class and Justice in the Origins of America (Rowman & Littlefield, $17.95, 9780847685172/0847685179), examined how the Founding Fathers are portrayed.

7 p.m. A panel discussion on Prisoner of the State: The Secret Journal of Premier Zhao Ziyang (S&S, $26, 9781439149386/1439149380), featuring the book's editors, Adi Ignatius and Bao Pu, as well as former U.S. Ambassador to China Winston Lord. Ziyang died in 2005. (Re-airs July 20 at 4 a.m.)

10 p.m. After Words. Matthew Kahn interviews Edward Humes, author of Eco Barons: The Dreamers, Schemers and Millionaires Who Are Saving Our Planet (Ecco, $25.99, 9780061350290/006135029X). (Re-airs Sunday at 9 p.m., and Monday at 12 a.m. and 3 a.m.)

11 p.m. John Ross, author of War on the Run: The Epic Story of Robert Rogers and the Conquest of America's First Frontier (Bantam, $30, 9780553804966/0553804960), recounts the life of the man considered to be the father of America's special forces.   

Sunday, July 19

10:15 a.m. Former Unification Church leader, reporter and Nevada State Assembly member Pat Hickey talks about his book, Tahoe Boy: A Journey Back Home (Seven Locks Press, 17.95, 9780982229361/0982229364). (Re-airs Monday at 1 a.m.)

10 p.m. William Forstchen, author of One Second After (Forge, $24.95, 9780765317582/0765317583), discusses his novel about a high-altitude nuclear bomb explosion that permanently destroys the world's electrical systems. (Re-airs Monday at 7 a.m.)


Movies: Potter Take; Third Bridget Jones; Indian Summer

At midnight showings early yesterday, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince took in an estimated $22.2 million, according to the Wall Street Journal. The take broke the record for such midnight-screening events set a year ago by The Dark Knight. The new Harry Potter movie also took in $10 million more than the first-night midnight screenings for the last Harry Potter movie, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, released in 2007.


Working Title Films is planning a third movie in the Bridget Jones series, which will begin production at the end of next year. Renee Zellweger reprises the role of Bridget. Variety reported that the film "will likely be based on the weekly columns author Helen Fielding wrote in 2005 for British newspaper the Independent in which Bridget, now in her 40s, attempts to have a baby before it's too late."

Working Title also noted that Cate Blanchett will play Lady Edwina Mountbatten in Indian Summer, adapted from the book by Alex von Tunzelmann.


Books & Authors

Awards: PEN/Ackerley Prize

Julia Blackburn's The Three of Us won the PEN/Ackerley Prize for memoir and autobiography. Independent Minds reported that the awards ceremony was "held in an airy room under the roof of Foyles bookshop in London's Charing Cross Road," though Blackburn was unable to attend "for the most original reason I've heard so far--her hilltop home in Italy had been struck by lightning."

The "exceptionally strong" PEN/Ackerley shortlist included Nothing to Be Frightened of by Julian Barnes, My Judy Garland Life by Susie Boyt, Cold Cream by Ferdinand Mount and The Boy with the Topknot by Sathnam Sanghera.

Dan Jacobson, a previous winner of the award, observed that the enduring popularity of autobiography in the U.K. might be due to the fact that "English life is more secretive than American life, so autobiography carries a greater charge."


A Work in Progress: The Last Bookstore in America

Last winter Amy Stewart, bestselling author of Wicked Plants and Flower Confidential and new co-owner of Eureka Books, Eureka, Calif., was with her colleagues in the store during a raging storm. After hours of no customers, she said, "It feels like we're the last bookstore in America."

The comment sparked this idea: if Eureka Books really were the last bookstore, how would that have happened? Stewart, who had published only nonfiction before, then began a novel with that scenario that became The Last Bookstore in America. In it, Stewart envisions an electronic reading device called the Gizmo so popular that paper-and-ink books are rendered obsolete. Only a handful of indie bookstore remain and all of them struggle. But Eureka Books is an exception because it has a thriving side business: the distribution of a variety of Humboldt County's finest home-grown marijuana. (Humboldt is known for its marijuana cultivation.) After the owner of Eureka Books dies, the nephew takes over and eventually the secret of the store's success is exposed. The local growers are excited at first because this makes legalizing marijuana a real possibility, but then big tobacco wants in and the little growers are up against the big conglomerates. Sound familiar?

"As a book store owner and author, it's my worst nightmare to think there were no books or bookstores," says Stewart. Working on the novel allowed Stewart to ask all those questions flying around in publishing circles about what that would mean for all of us as a culture. Would people still read? Would writers still write?

Ironically, considering the subject matter, The Last Bookstore in America, which Stewart considers a work in progress, is available now only as an e-book on Amazon and For Stewart, she made the move mainly to receive feedback on the book.

On Scribd, The Last Bookstore in America is priced at $1.81; it's $2.99 on Kindle. Stewart picked those prices because after the e-publishers take their cut, she is left with the $1.05 she makes from a traditional paperback sale of her books. Stewart gives all the details of how she came to publish her novel-in-progress in this unconventional way on her website

Using Scribd's social networking and her own, Stewart has alerted about 6,000 to the book's release. But those who fear the demise of the book at the tentacles of technology take heart; most people offering feedback have expressed interest in the book but also want to wait to read a printed copy. So far there are no plans for a printed version of The Last Bookstore in America, but in this strange new world you never know.--Bridget Kinsella 


Children's Book Review: The Lion and the Mouse

The Lion and the Mouse by Jerry Pinkney (Little, Brown, $16.99, 9780316013567/0316013560, 40 pp., ages 4-8, September 2009)

What are the golden eyes of the great lion staring at? The mouse, of course. But you must follow the lion's gaze around the spine to the back of the book to find her. If you remove the dust jacket, you'll see on the front cover the rebus that forms the title: a wordless rectangular pair of panels with a cropped portrait of the lion's face and the mouse perched atop the knot in a hanging rope, connected by an ampersand, with the author's name below. On the title page, the mouse fits inside the lion's paw print; an army of ants marches nearby, underscoring the vast difference in size between the book's two heroes. The illustration on the back cover, a tranquil picture of predator and prey side by side, takes its inspiration from Edward Hicks's The Peaceable Kingdom.
According to Jerry Pinkney, this book is about discovery, in part what readers discover as he transports them to the East African Serengeti--a land dominated by the grandeur of the Acacia trees, elephants and ostriches, wildebeest and zebras, lions and mice. But it's also about what Pinkney discovers in this multilayered story from ancient Greece. Without a word, using only the sounds of the Serengeti's inhabitants and his stunning pencil, watercolor and colored pencil illustrations on thick, creamy uncoated paper, Pinkney builds on his own retelling of "The Lion and the Mouse" in Aesop's Fables (2000). Here, he gives the mouse a motive for unwittingly scurrying onto the lion's back: the "who who whoooo" she hears under a full moon at daybreak. In three glorious spreads, the mouse awakens the lion ("GRRR"), who grabs her by the tail, examines the mouse in his giant paw and then sets her free. As the mouse returns to her nest of little ones, her tail forms an arced frame of the lion looking on from a distance; on the opposite page, the king of the plains trots off the stage to the right--but in the upper left corner of the illustration, the hunters' truck begins its trek to set a trap for the magnificent beast. Pinkney expertly balances the individual lives of his leading characters while maintaining a connection between the two and also moving the plot forward. Lifted high in a rope-mesh netting, the captured lion's open mouth unleashes a "RRROAARRRRR" that stretches across the following spread as four panels chart the mouse's journey to the lion. Next, a triptych of scenes shows the mouse removing a strategic knot from the netting, a tiny tuft of the lion's golden mane detectable in each scene. The freed lion looks deep into the eyes of the tiny mouse, as if to acknowledge the second chance at life that each has given the other. Compassion in one has inspired courage in the other. United with his mate and cubs, the lion carries on his back the mouse and her little ones as they stride across the Serengeti plains in the closing endpapers. This is bookmaking at its best.--Jennifer M. Brown


The Bestsellers

Top-Selling Titles in Chicagoland Last Week

The following were the bestselling titles at independent bookstores in the Chicago area during the week ended Sunday, July 12:
Hardcover Fiction
1. The Help by Katherine Stockett
2. The Angel's Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
3. Shanghai Girls by Lisa See
4. B Is for Beer by Tom Robbins
5. Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese
Hardcover Nonfiction
1. Horse Soldiers by Doug Stanton
2. Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell
3. The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work by Alain de Botton
4. Hometown Architect by Patrick Cannon
5. The Art of Happiness by the Dalai Lama
Paperback Fiction
1. The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery
2. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
3. The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein
4. Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout
5. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
Paperback Nonfiction

1. In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan
2. When You Are Engulfed in Flames by David Sedaris
3. My Stroke of Insight by Jill Bolte Taylor
4. The Forgotten Man by Amity Shlaes
5. Public Enemies by Bryan Burrough
1. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
2. A Crooked Kind of Perfect by Linda Urban
3. Diary of a Wimpy Kid Do-it-Yourself Book by Jeff Kinney
4. Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer
5. The Last Olympian by Rick Riordan

Reporting bookstores: Anderson's, Naperville and Downers Grove; Read Between the Lynes, Woodstock; Book Table, Oak Park; the Book Cellar, Lincoln Square; Lake Forest Books, Lake Forest; the Bookstall at Chestnut Court, Winnetka; and 57th St. Books; Seminary Co-op; Women and Children First, Chicago.

[Many thanks to the reporting bookstores and Carl Lennertz!]


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