Shelf Awareness for Friday, July 17, 2009


St. Martin's Press: Humans by Brandon Stanton

Andrews McMeel Publishing: Cat Ninja, Volume 1 by Matthew Cody, illustrated by Yehudi Mercado

Berkley Books: In the Garden of Spite: A Novel of the Black Widow of La Porte by Camilla Bruce

Candlewick Press (MA): Stink and the Hairy, Scary Spider by Megan McDonald, illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds

Scholastic Press:  The Captive Kingdom (the Ascendance Series, Book 4) by Jennifer A. Nielsen

Disney-Hyperion: The Mirror Broken Wish (Mirror #1) by Julie C. Dao

News

Notes: Borders U.K. Sold; Kate's Mystery Books to Close

Borders U.K. CEO Philip Downer and finance director Mark Little "have led a management buyout of the chain, backed by Valco Capital Partners (VCP)," the Bookseller reported. "No figures were divulged about the sale. The business was bought by the Luke Johnson backed Risk Capital Partners just under two years ago for a maximum costs of £20m (US$32.9 million)."

"We are delighted that we have been able to secure the future for Borders in what are exceptional times for U.K. retailing and the global economy," said Downer. "The Borders management team looks forward to continuing to develop our innovative approach to bookselling, driving sustained growth and success in the future, and strengthening our unique position in the U.K. book market."

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Kate's Mystery Books, Cambridge, Mass., will close August 1 after more than 25 years in business, according to the Boston Globe, which noted that owner Kate Mattes, who put her building on the market in 2007, "has finally sold it to a real estate trust that plans on a mixed use for the building."

Mattes told the Globe that she "hopes to find other housing in Cambridge. She also has not closed the door on re-entering the book business and will put some things in storage while she decides what to do next."

"Just moving is enough for now," she added. "Before I got into the book business I was a social worker and it took a couple of years to decide I wanted to open a book store.''
 
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Hong Kong has become China's bookseller. The Wall Street Journal reported that "this former British colony, famous as a global financial hub, is best known in Chinese political circles as something else: a supplier of the Chinese-speaking world's most sensitive books. . . . Even Hong Kong's airport bookstores are stocked with shelves of books banned in the mainland, mostly purporting to spill the beans on top Chinese leaders. China also prohibits carrying banned books into the country, but with the volume of traffic at the border making detection highly unlikely--and with the consequences generally limited to confiscation--readers seem willing to risk it."

"My bookstore could only thrive in a place like Hong Kong," said Paul Tang, founder of People's Recreation Community, a bookstore cafe downtown. He added that mainland Chinese visitors account for 70% of his sales.

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The Future of le Livre? That intriguing question--and a video--were featured on HarperStudio's 26th Story blog (via Tattered Cover's Joyce Meskis), which observed: "Leave it to the French to give us such a civilized vision of how the physical book and electronic book might someday coexist. While today we are being asked to choose between e-books we download online and physical books we might buy after a delightful conversation with our local bookseller, perhaps the future will marry the two experiences, n'est-ce pas?"

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Cool (literally) idea of the day: Bookselling This Week reported that the staff at Changing Hands bookstore, Tempe, Ariz., battled a sizzling stretch of 115-degree heat by creating an "eye-catching display featuring a snowman in 'Shaq-like' proportions, created by local sculptor Marco Rosichelli, surrounded by a mix of 'wintry' titles."

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Christy McDanold, owner of Secret Garden Bookshop, the "soon-to-be only bookstore" in Seattle's Ballard neighborhood, told the News-Tribune that the shop "has survived because it is good at what it does, and she sees a potentially bright future."

"Yeah, I'm optimistic," she said. "I'm cautiously optimistic. . . . I love being in a business where the thing I sell matters. This is something I particularly value."

The News-Tribune reported that the "problem for independent businesses in Ballard, as McDanold sees it, is that now that Ballard is growing into a hip, happening place, landlords are looking to charge downtown rents in a neighborhood area. . . . Ultimately though, Ballard's business landscape isn't up to landlords and the economy, it's up to the community itself, she said."

"Ballard is changing a lot," she added. "But, what I've found is that new Ballard didn't know they wanted a community like this, but they found it and are blown away by it."

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Independent booksellers are finding ways to utilize the never-ending conversational possibilities on Twitter, according to BTW: "Beyond plugging upcoming events, some have created Twitter-themed parties or used the real-time capabilities to broadcast quotes from readings. Fountain Bookstore has drawn a crowd by tweeting about free chocolate, Skylight Books uses Twitter to hold tweet-ups and live-tweet author readings, and Rainy Day Books even hosted a Twitter-based Best Indie Bookstore contest."

Kelly Justice, owner of Fountain Bookstore, Richmond, Va., told BTW that "she uses Twitter almost 'as though it were a radio show.'"

"It's worthwhile for now," Justice added. "We'll stop using it when it stops being effective. We're constantly looking for what works."

"I think that our strength in tweeting is just an extension of the strength of our staff," said Emily Pullen, ordering manager/book groups liaison at Skylight Books, Los Angeles, Calif. "We have many different interests and styles that make up the kaleidoscope of Skylight."

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Point and counterpoint: 'tween edition. On a recent episode of NPR's Here and Now, host Robin Young explored "Summer Reading for 'Tweens" (Shelf Awareness, June 25, 2009), but one young listener, Julianne Mozzer, responded by noting her discomfort with the 'tween marketing label and offering a few reading recommendations of her own, including the Narnia books by C.S. Lewis and the Great Brain series.

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Apstyleguide reporter Cheryl Fey showcased the "Keep Austin Weird" spirit of shopping local in the Texas city that BookPeople bookstore calls home.

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The Los Angeles Times's Jacket Copy blog featured "61 essential postmodern reads: an annotated list," offering helpful icons to delineate various attributes: "the author is a character, fiction and reality are blurred, the text includes fictional artifacts, such as letters, lyrics, even whole other books, and so on."

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Book trailer of the day: The Evolution of Shadows by Jason Quinn Malott.

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HarperCollins Children's Books and the Jim Henson Company will launch a publishing program for Sid the Science Kid, based on the popular PBS Kids animated television series. The three debut titles, which will be released in December targeting pre-schoolers ages 3-6, are Sid the Science Kid: The Trouble with Germs, Sid the Science Kid: Why Are My Shoes Shrinking? and Sid the Science Kid: A Cavity Is a Hole in Your Tooth.

 


Berkley Books: Our Italian Summer by Jennifer Probst


Northington Heads East, Will Join breathe books

Two of our favorite booksellers are teaming up.

Effective at the end of August, Jenn Northington, who has been events and marketing manager at the King's English Bookshop, Salt Lake City, Utah, for nearly two years, is joining breathe books, Baltimore, Md., where she will be general manager--although maybe not by that name.

"General manager is kind of boring for a New Age store," her future boss, Susan L. Weis, said, so Northington's title, which is yet to determined, might be general goddess or guardian angel.

Northington earlier worked as a bookseller at Changing Hands Bookshop, Tempe, Ariz., and has been very involved in the Emerging Leaders Project. With the move, she will reluctantly step down as the Emerging Leaders council member from the Mountains & Plains Independent Booksellers Association region but said she looks forward to continuing to work with the group and with Stephanie Anderson of WORD, Brooklyn, N.Y., who's the member of the council from the New Atlantic Independent Booksellers Association area.

Speaking of the King's English, Northington said that it had been "a privilege to work at such a prestigious store with such dedicated booksellers."

Likewise Weis said that she is "really lucky and honored to have someone come work for me who's worked for two of the top booksellers in the country."

Weis stated that she needed someone like Northington to help take breathe books, which celebrates its fifth anniversary in October, "to the next level. She has lots of enthusiasm, great experience and great ideas--and knows how to implement them."

Part of the next level includes "bringing in more literature and general books while staying a New Age bookstore," emphasizing the Indie Next list, working on coop, doing more business-to-business sales, selling books and other items on the breathe books's website and expanding the store's already extensive events calendar to incorporate more mainstream authors.

Weis said that she is hiring Northington also so that she can teach more and lead more trips to sacred sites. This year she started teaching meditation and ayurveda classes and recently led a trip to Peru and will lead her fourth trip, to India, in the fall.

Northington already has e-mail at the new store and can reached at Jenn@breathebooks.com.

 


AuthorBuzz for the Week of 08.10.20


Media and Movies

Potter Filmania: HP6 in Japan; Harry Who?

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is not only racking up big box office numbers in the U.S. as anticipated, but Variety reported that the movie "bowed in Japan on Wednesday with $3.57 million on 840 screens--besting War of the Worlds for the biggest-ever Wednesday opening. This number was particularly impressive since Wednesday is Ladies Day at Japanese theaters, meaning women pay 1,000 yen (US$10.69) for an adult admission, compared with the standard price of $19.24. Women account for the bulk of the Potter aud in Japan."

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When a copy of J.K. Rowling's first novel hit the desk of British film producer David Heyman in 1997, he ignored it, according to Bloomberg, which noted that the man who would soon become a driving force behind the Potter movie series "took notice only after a secretary raised her hand in a staff meeting to praise Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone."

"I said, 'Rubbish title, what's it about?'" Heyman recalled. "She said it was about a boy who goes to wizard school, and I said, 'Wow, that's a great idea.' I took it home that night and read it and fell in love with it. . . . I had no idea at all that it would become the phenomenon that it has become, and that I'd be sitting here 12 years after having first read it, talking about the sixth film."

 


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Movies: The Fragile Mistress

Leora Skolkin-Smith's novel Edges, O Israel, O Palestine--which was originally released in 2005 by the late Grace Paley's publishing house, Glad Day Books--will be re-published in an expanded movie tie-in edition by Hamilton Stone Editions, Ltd. under the film's title, The Fragile Mistress. Michael Gunther of Triboro Pictures optioned the novel in 2007, and the project was selected for the U.K.'s 2009 Initialize Film Co-Production Lab at the Berlin Film Festival.

 


University of California Press:  Republican Jesus: How the Right Has Rewritten the Gospels by Tony Keddie


Books & Authors

Awards: CWA Daggers

Colin Cotterill won this year's Crime Writers Association Dagger in the Library prize, which is given to "the author of crime fiction whose work is currently giving the greatest enjoyment to library users." Nominated by U.K. libraries and readers' groups and judged by a panel of librarians, the winner earns "a prize of £1500 [US$2,465] to the author, plus £300 to a participating library's readers' group."

Author Fred Vargas and translator Sîan Reynolds won the CWA International Dagger award for The Chalk Circle Man. Sean Chercover won the CWA Short Story Dagger for "One Serving of Bad Luck," published in Killer Year, edited by Lee Child. The shortlists for the Gold, John Creasey (New Blood) and Ian Fleming Steel Daggers will be announced on October 21.

 


G.P. Putnam's Sons: Little Threats by Emily Schultz


Mandahla: Love Is a Four-Letter Word

Love Is a Four-Letter Word: True Tales of Breakups, Bad Relationships, and Broken Hearts edited by Michael Taeckens (Plume, $16 trade paper, 9780452295506/0452295505, July 28, 2009)

Cautionary tales of bad relationships seem not to dent the promise of true love. If they did, we wouldn't have as much great literature--or some of the current political scandals. Even so, they tell us our story in illuminating ways, if we are of a mind to be illuminated. If we aren't, at least there's the momentary satisfaction of schadenfreude. As Neal Pollack says in the introduction, "It's always nice to know that no matter how badly you've screwed up your love life, someone else has done far, far worse."

Michael Taeckens, whose day job is publicity director at Algonquin, has assembled a fine writers' collection, from the comic to the tragic, beginning with Junot Diaz in "Homecoming, with Turtle." Diaz and his girlfriend decide to spend their vacation in Santo Domingo, a minefield of family stories and expectations. "It was miserable. If one of us wasn't storming off down the road with a backpack, the other one was trying to hitch a ride to the airport with strangers." Who hasn't been there? Or with Wendy McClure as she tries to figure out what she sees in Ben: "I thought of his silverware drawer and how the spoons and forks lay under a sedimentary layer of cereal bits and cat hair." Josh Kilmer-Purcell, in "Tweny-five to One Odds," goes home with a gorgeous model, who says that sex with him was like co-starring in a porn movie. But it's an odd porn movie when Kilmer-Purcell realizes, on the third date, that the guy can't have sex without watching Wonder Woman. "It's possible to overthink things, but if I had that specific a fetish, I'd probably have to put a little thought into its origin." And Taeckens, in "The Book of Love and Transformation," was rudely dumped, and laments, "I didn't even know they had crabs in the Midwest, let alone that you could get them from a professor."

Many of the stories are darker, filled with sadness and anger. Kate Christensen, in "Shadow Dancing," relates discovering her own sexual attractiveness, at age 15, with a 36-year-old man, a chaperone on a class trip to Mazatlán. In "The First Time," Margaret Sartor describes heartbreak perfectly: "The shattering of trust, the brutal sense of loss and sudden awareness of my heart's true vulnerability, like a tree branch snapping off in an ice storm. I had no idea about that." Amanda Stern, in "Scout's Honor," lets her boyfriend talk her into a camping trip, while she'd rather lead the Janjaweed through a series of trust exercises. But she goes, to a mountain no less, because she believes him when he says she's in his good hands. Turns out that he takes a harder trail up, and after a miserable, wet night, he literally pushes her back down the washed-out trail, in the rain, while he packs up. She fractures her wrist but makes it down alone and later realizes a profound truth about herself.
 
Heartbreak, humor, humiliation, and self-discovery--it's all here in this collection. With crabs. And poignancy. And Wonder Woman.--Marilyn Dahl
 
Shelf Talker: A collection of stories about bad relationships and broken hearts, with plenty of wit, an abundance of woe and some hard-won wisdom.


Book Brahmin: Carla Neggers

Carla Neggers has turned her penchant for storytelling and adventure into a life that provides her plenty of both. Born and raised in rural New England, Carla started writing at a young age when she'd climb a tree with pad and pen. Now the author of more than 50 novels, she writes at her hilltop home in Vermont and loves to travel, hike, kayak and hang out at her local Irish pub. Her novel The Mist is being published by Mira Books this month, and The Angel, a RITA finalist, is a June paperback.

On your nightstand now:

Ruling Passion by Reginald Hill, Black Widow by Randy Wayne White, Washington's Crossing by David Hackett Fischer, Sharp's Eagle and The Last Kingdom by Bernard Cornwell, Ireland by Frank Delaney, an advance reading copy of Drive Time by Hank Phillippi Ryan. Two Rex Stout books. Okay, I'll stop now. I have a big nightstand!

Favorite book when you were a child:

A collection of illustrated fairy tales and children's poems my mother got us. (I have six brothers and sisters.) I also read Flip by Wesley Dennis to my little brother about 800 times.

Your top five authors:

At this moment: Alistair MacLean, Mary Stewart, William Faulkner, Agatha Christie, Rex Stout.

Book you've faked reading:

Gravity's Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon. I read James Joyce's Ulysses, though. No, really.

Book you’re an evangelist for:

A Writer's Time by Kenneth Atchity. His discussion of creativity as a negotiation between the "continent" and the "islands" is both brilliant and incredibly practical. Great book.

Book you've bought for the cover:

Beara: The Unexplored Peninsula by Francis Twomey and Tony McGettigan. The cover photograph captures the rugged beauty and remoteness of this part of the Southwest Irish coast and reminds me why it's become a central setting of my Boston suspense series.

Book that changed your life:

The Moonspinners
by Mary Stewart. Exotic setting. Smart, independent heroine. Great, wounded guy. Witty dialogue. Action, adventure, suspense. Happy ending. I found a musty copy in the town library and read it up in a tree as a kid. Then I proceeded to read everything Mary Stewart had written.

Favorite line from a book:

"Whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul."--Moby Dick. It captures dark moments in life as well as . . . well, November in New England.

Book you most want to read again for the first time:

Gravity's Rainbow. Ha. Just kidding. I'm re-reading The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler. I stole it out of my older brother's room when I was a kid and read it on the sly . . . so it feels like I'm reading it for the first time.



Deeper Understanding

Robert Gray: To See the World in a Bookstore Blog

People often say that the greatest pleasures of traveling are finding a sage hidden behind weeds or treasures hidden in trash, gold among discarded pottery. Whenever I encountered someone of genius, I wrote about it in order to tell my friends.--Basho, from his 17th century travel journal, "The Knapsack Notebook" (translated by Sam Hamill).

Although we've primarily been discussing blogs written by individual booksellers in this series, Pat Carrier, owner with his wife, Harriet, of the Globe Corner Bookstore, Cambridge, Mass., asked about blogs that are a group effort. I didn't have to travel far to realize that the Globe Corner's blog is one of the best examples of that option around.

"From the outset, we were concerned that the blog not become the platform of a single or handful of staffers, mainly to insure continuity and variety of content as staff personnel changed," Pat explained. "We also wanted to provide a creative outlet for the many talented folks who work (or have worked) for us while they are traveling."

With that goal in mind, and taking into account the predilection for global wandering inherent in any travel bookshop's staff, it was "decided at the outset to open the blog posts not only to all staff, but alumni staff of the store as well." Pat admitted that the shop was "a little slow out of the gate on blogs because we wanted to be sure we had a somewhat durable structure that would insure ongoing postings as the staff changed. We also spent quite a bit of time thinking about the topical organization of the blog--which turned out perhaps to be less important. Our initial blog 'categories' were: News, Book Reviews, and Notes from the Field. And finally, we wanted a structure that the staff really owned and that the owners/management had little day-to-day control over--except to the extent of making sure the overall thrust of the blog was reinforcing the positive themes of travel and inquisitiveness about the world. Once the company's management launched the blog, it really has been in the hands of the staff since then."

One additional step was to have some editorial oversight "that made sure our posts passed basic grammatical muster and didn't violate any copyright laws--we are after all in the book business," Pat observed. "By the way, most discussions I have seen about blogging and bookstores have paid scant attention to the copyright issues. I can tell you first hand that you need to pay attention because we inadvertently posted a photograph on our main website a couple years ago which we thought was copyright free, but wasn't. It was messy and expensive getting that straightened out."

The Globe Corner blog has a pair of co-editors, Llalan Fowler and Nicole Jones, who review content before it is posted.

"My co-editor and I don't divide up duties, but rather share all responsibilities," noted Llalan, a student in the MFA writing program at Emerson College. "As for my role, I feel my job necessitates staying in the background a lot of the time. The writers are the key to success of this blog. Our authors' different voices are our biggest asset. We have such a wide and wonderful mix of personalities at the store that I want to make sure each one comes through in every post. Each of us looks at travel and travel books uniquely, and I feel my role as editor is to preserve the variety and vibrancy of the blog."

Nicole, who will enter Columbia University's MFA program in creative writing this fall, added that it is "a testament to Pat and Harriet and the great environment they've created at the store that so many alumni want to contribute. It's a wonderful place to work, and I think past employees like coming back and contributing to the blog because they like being a part of the community." (Here are a few examples of alumni posts from Botswana, Tokyo, Scotland and Switzerland.)

According to Nicole, "one of the fun things about our blog is that everyone has developed their own voice in writing about their travels. As a reader, not just an editor, I really look forward to reading new blogs from everyone. I think we're an entertaining group."

Pat enthusiastically agreed : "I'm sure it's pretty clear from the above that I am quite proud of the work that our staff has done in producing the blog. It's been fun to watch the evolution from the sidelines."--Robert Gray (column archives available at Fresh Eyes Now)

 


AuthorBuzz: Berrett-Koehler Publishers: Black Fatigue: How Racism Erodes the Mind, Body, and Spirit by Mary-Frances Winters
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