Shelf Awareness for Monday, August 10, 2009

Insight Editions: Unstoppable: Siggi B. Wilzig's Astonishing Journey from Auschwitz Survivor and Penniless Immigrant to Wall Street Legend by Joshua Greene

Scholastic Press: Muted by Tami Charles

Berkley Books: The Most Beautiful Girl in Cuba by Chanel Cleeton

Walker Books Us: Welcome to Your Period! by Yumi Stynes and Melissa Kang, illustrated by Jenny Latham

Scholastic Press: Ground Zero by Alan Gratz

Editors' Note

Bright Kindles Controversy

Some readers objected to a part of Friday's Book Brahmin by Susie Bright--not because of anything she wrote about erotica or pornography. Shelf Awareness's readership is, after all, a rather libertarian crowd. Instead the objection had to do with her question: "On my Kindle now?"

One reader wondered if Amazon paid to have the question inserted. When we let him know this was not the case, he wondered if Amazon paid Bright.

To answer both questions: no, Amazon did not pay to have the question added. What happened is this: as is our standard practice with Book Brahmins, we encouraged the author to add questions to our standard ones. Bright added several, including the one about her Kindle reading. (Among the others, to which no one objected: "When people ask me what great erotic literature is, I say" and "Best book on pornography.")

Another reader suggested that the question "On my Kindle now" should have been generic. We agree and were we to do it over, we would have changed the question to "On my e-reader now" and noted in the answer that the e-reader was a Kindle.


Berkley Books: Dial A for Aunties by Jesse Q Sutanto

Quotation of the Day

Shopping Locally: Follow the Money

"Because you’re shopping at my store, I get a paycheck. What do I do with that paycheck? This week, I ate at the Art Cliff, I shopped at the Down Island Farmer's Market, I bought toothpaste at Leslie's and bought a present at LeRoux. And hopefully, the waitress I tipped, the farmer I bought chicken eggs from, the people working at Leslie's and LeRoux will then use some of that money to buy a book at my store. The same goes for every one of our employees, as well as our owner. We pay taxes in your town . . . our building and our business and our owner. More money that stays in the community, through schools, public works, etc. The sales tax you pay through us goes to your state. Our business, our owner and our employees contribute to your local charities. . . . We would love to promise that we will be here on Main St. forever, but in order to do that, we need people to continue to support us in the amazing way they always have."--Katherine Fergason, from the Bunch of Grapes (Vineyard Haven, Mass.) bookstore blog.


Beaming Books: Inspiring New Nonfiction from Broadleaf Books


Notes: Powell's in Chicago to Close; Weich Leaving Portland Powell's

The Chicago Journal reported that Powell's Books "will shutter its South Loop location, at 828 S. Wabash, on September 1, making it the second bookstore in the neighborhood to announce closure in a matter of weeks." Prairie Avenue Bookshop recently declared it is closing (Shelf Awareness, July 28, 2009) next month.

"We've been in the South Loop since the 1970s and we love the South Loop, love the people," said owner Brad Jonas. "But the rents are getting high. Though it's a problem that's probably good for the neighborhood."


Last weekend's opening of Bertram and Oliver Booksellers, Amesbury, Mass., drew "an appreciative crowd," according to the Daily News, which noted that "curious shoppers have been stopping into the store for weeks leading up to the shop's opening, eager to find out what was moving into the high-profile downtown location."

"I can't tell you how many people popped in," said owner Joanne Wimberly. "And we're not talking about just a few people."

All of the challenging preparatory work has paid off. "I couldn't be happier," she said. "I've never worked so hard my whole life as I have these past weeks, but I've never been so happy. I'm surrounded by books."


Sadly we report that Dave Weich, who has worked at Powell's Books, Portland, Ore., for 11 years, most recently as director of marketing and development, is leaving the company.

In a message to friends, he noted that as one wonderful part of his job, he has interviewed more than 200 authors. "Every two weeks or so, for about 40 minutes, I had the opportunity to ask a smart, articulate stranger about whatever piqued my interest, and then transcribe and edit our conversation for"

He also praised the book business. "If there's another industry populated by so many thoughtful, generous, and engaging people, it remains a well-kept secret. . . . I'd consider myself lucky to cross paths and hear from you again."

Weich may be reached at and 503-310-3745.


Citing the example of a recent promotion in which James Patterson's The Angel Experiment was offered as a free e-book to help promote more recent work, the Associated Press observed that the bestselling author "is among the biggest brands added to the growing list of free e-book offerings. . . . In recent days, the top three Kindle sellers have been free books: Patterson's, Joseph Finder's Paranoia and Greg Keyes' The Briar King."

But will "free" become readers' price of choice?

"There's always going to be someone who wants free things. What we're trying to do is link free with paid," said Maja Thomas, senior vice-president of digital media at Hachette. "It's like priming the pump."

"What we like to do is make the first book in a series free, usually a series that has multiple books," said Scott Shannon, publisher of the Del Rey/Spectra imprint at Random House. "It's a huge hot-button topic we've been discussing within our division and at the corporate level. We have had phenomenal success with using free books to get people to buy others by an author. But in the long term, we have to guard the market. We have to make sure people understand that time and energy goes into writing a book."

"Consumers love free--free is a good price. But the opportunity they present to publishers is to experiment, and I stress experiment," said Ellie Hirschhorn, Simon & Schuster's chief digital officer.

Author Finder, an early supporter of free promotions, now wonders "if readers will get used to not paying."

"I get a lot of e-mails from people, saying, 'I hadn't even heard of you until I read your free book.' So no question, it does bring in free riders," Finder said. "But I'm also increasingly concerned. There are so many free e-books that basically you could stuff your Kindle or Sony Reader with free books and never have to buy anything."


Red Raven Books & Curiosities, Sandusky, Ohio, "is itself a curiosity: an independent used-book store that seems to be thriving," the Columbus Dispatch reported.

"That's the importance of being well-rooted in the community," said Ali Thompson, who owns the store with her husband, Tom, and also runs the Sandusky Farmers' Market. "We have some of the most loyal customers you could ask for."


At home with books. More than 10,000 volumes--"Gorgeous hardcover jackets. Crisp, mint condition pages. First edition copies."--fill Kevin Kinley's house in Walkersville, Md., which serves as warehouse and bookstore for First Place Books. The Frederick News-Post reported that Kinley sells 90% of his books through," though "visitors are welcome by appointment." He averages 900 sales per year at $100 each.


Niche book marketing in Kenya. "Naomi Ogutu reckons niche products have the potential to generate more earnings if they capture the hearts and minds of clients," according to Business Daily. She set up "the Nairobi Management Books Centre at Anniversary Towers a few months ago. Mrs. Ogutu and her husband are currently selling only management books targeting MBA students."

Ogutu's bookshop "has joined a growing trend where entrepreneurs are increasingly opting for specialized businesses, especially within the proximity of learning institutions. Next door is the Uppercase Law Bookshop, which stocks books on law."


The Independent featured "Indy Choice: Best of the new books."


Zachary Marcus, marketing director at Northshire Bookstore, Manchester, Vt., from 2002-2005, has returned to the company as its community connection coordinator. In his new position, Marcus will work on new approaches to author and community events; develop and expand the bookstore's community programs, book groups, kid’s programming, public and press relations; and generate new activities and programs. Marcus has worked in the book industry for many years, most recently operating his book consulting business, Maverick Media Projects.

"I am very pleased to have Zach's rare combination of strategic thinking ability and communication skills back with us,” said Chris Morrow, Northshire's owner and general manager. “He will be immensely valuable during these tumultuous times in the book business."


Book Industry Charitable Foundation: Double your donation!

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Paper Butterfly

This morning on Good Morning America: Nancy Grace, author of The Eleventh Victim (Hyperion, $25.99, 9781401303457/1401303455).


This week on NPR's Morning Edition: Diane Wei Liang, author of Paper Butterfly: A Mei Wang Mystery (Simon & Schuster, $24, 9781416549574/1416549579).


Today on the Diane Rehm Show: Haynes Johnson and Dan Balz, authors of The Battle for America 2008: The Story of an Extraordinary Election (Viking, $29.95, 9780670021116/0670021113).


Tonight on Charlie Rose: Kurt Andersen, author of Reset: How This Crisis Can Restore Our Values and Renew America (Random House, $15, 9781400068982/1400068983).


Tonight on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart: Douglas Brinkley, author of The Wilderness Warrior: Theodore Roosevelt and the Crusade for America (Harper, $34.99, 9780060565282/0060565284).


Tomorrow morning on the Today Show: George Foreman, author of Knockout Entrepreneur (Thomas Nelson, $22.99, 9780785222088/0785222081). He will also appear tomorrow on Good Morning America and Fox Business.


Tomorrow morning on the Early Show: Joseph Califano, author of How to Raise a Drug-Free Kid: The Straight Dope for Parents (Fireside, $15, 9781439156315/143915631X).


Tomorrow night on the Colbert Report: Jonathan Cohn, author of Sick: The Untold Story of America's Health Care Crisis---and the People Who Pay the Price (HarperCollins, $25.95, 9780060580452/0060580453).


Tomorrow night on the Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson: Mitch Albom, whose Have a Little Faith: A True Story (Hyperion, $23.99, 9780786868728/0786868724) appears next month.


Television: Eastwick

ABC's fall lineup includes Eastwick, based on the John Updike novel The Witches of Eastwick, which was previously adapted for the 1987 film. The Boston Herald reported that Eastwick premieres September 23 and will star Rebecca Romijn, Jaime Ray Newman, Lindsay Price and Paul Gross. Entertainment Weekly dubbed the show "Lipstick Jungle meets Desperate Housewives set in Stars Hollow. Oh, and they’re witches."


Movie: Taking Woodstock

Taking Woodstock, starring Demetri Martin, Liev Schreiber and Eugene Levy, opens two weeks from this coming Friday, on August 28. The movie had been scheduled to make its debut on August 14 but was bumped because of a New York State Thruway-like traffic jam of movies and events celebrating the 40th anniversary of the epochal rock festival.

In the movie, Ang Lee directs the story of a man whose parents' motel became the headquarters for organizing the concert. Based on the autobiography by Elliot Tiber, the movie tie-in is available from Square One Publishers ($15.95, 9780757003332/0757003338).

Tiber is already making the publicity rounds and was on Dateline NBC last night.


How does a book like Taking Woodstock become a movie from an internationally renowned director? The Poughkeepsie Journal observed that "the stories behind this story--how the author, Elliot Tiber, found a publisher, in particular--offer the reader a tale that is as unlikely as the one Lee is bringing to life on the silver screen."

"It's funny how luck has everything to do with everything," said Square One Publishers president Rudy Shur. "You can, in fact, do everything you can to be in the right place at the right time. But there is no telling where the right place at the right time is. All you can do is be out there and hope lightning is going to strike."


And how is Focus Features marketing "a film that is centered around the 40-year-old landmark event, but isn't really about that event"? Variety reported "conventional wisdom would dictate targeting baby boomers. But, in fact, Focus believes there is a much wider audience for the pic . . . audiences are responding to the universal story about one man finding himself and defining himself in relation to his upbringing. The film also hits a nerve with contempo audiences, since it's about an end of one era and the beginning of another, when the nation was demoralized from an unpopular war overseas and depersonalized society, while simultaneously finding new reasons for hope and signs of change."


Books & Authors

Awards: The Hugos

The winners of the 2009 Hugo Awards, chosen by members of the World Science Fiction Society and presented at Anticipation, this year's World Science Fiction convention, are:

  • Novel: The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
  • Novella: "The Erdmann Nexus" by Nancy Kress
  • Novelette: "Shoggoths in Bloom" by Elizabeth Bear
  • Short Story: "Exhalation" by Ted Chiang (Eclipse Two)
  • Related Book: Your Hate Mail Will be Graded: A Decade of Whatever, 1998–2008 by John Scalzi
  • Graphic Story: Girl Genius, Volume 8: Agatha Heterodyne and the Chapel of Bones, written by Kaja and Phil Foglio; art by Phil Foglio; colors by Cheyenne Wright
  • Dramatic Presentation, Long Form: WALL-E, story by Andrew Stanton and Pete Docter; screenplay by Andrew Stanton & Jim Reardon; directed by Andrew Stanton
  • Dramatic Presentation, Short Form: Doctor Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog, written by Joss Whedon, Zack Whedon, Jed Whedon and Maurissa Tancharoen; directed by Joss Whedon
  • Editor, Short Form: Ellen Datlow
  • Editor, Long Form: David G. Hartwell
  • Professional Artist: Donato Giancola
  • Semiprozine: Weird Tales edited by Ann VanderMeer and Stephen H. Segal
  • Fanzine: Electric Velocipede edited by John Klima
  • Fan Writer: Cheryl Morgan
  • Fan Artist: Frank Wu

The winner of the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer (presented by Dell Magazines) is David Anthony Durham. The Big Heart Award for service to fandom went to Andrew Porter, and Jeremy Kratz won the Hugo logo design competition.


IndieBound: Other Indie Favorites

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


Of Bees and Mist: A Novel by Erick Setiawa (Simon & Schuster, $25, 9781416596240/1416596240). "Of Bees and the Mist tells the story of two families, the secrets they harbor, and the unraveling of their lives. This fantastical book combines mysticism, folklore, mythology, and magic in such a masterful way that you feel like every bit of oddness is natural and normal."--Anna Rimel, Left Bank Books, Saint Louis, Mo.

Between Me and the River: Living Beyond Cancer by Carrie Host (Harlequin, $22.95, 9780373892143/0373892144). "Carrie Host has written a truly open and honest account of her struggle with carcinoid tumors and how it changed her perspective on life and her relationships with others. Between Me and the River is a beautiful appreciation of life's subtle nuances, the value of each and every day with our family and friends as a gift, and the memories of the past that give us the foundation of our true selves."--Carrie Cilley, Kaleidoscope Books, Cards & Gifts, Upton, Mass.


Velva Jean Learns to Drive: A Novel by Jennifer Niven (Plume, $15, 9780452289451/0452289459). "A young girl born in the mountains of North Carolina has dreams of singing at the Grand Ole Opry and wearing a costume of satin and rhinestones. But Velva Jean marries Harley Bright, who turns from his bad boy days to become a revival preacher who tries to squash her spirit. You will love Velva Jean and enjoy watching her decide who she really is."--Beth Carpenter, the Country Bookshop, Southern Pines, N.C.

For Ages 4 to 8

Dinosaur Woods: Can Seven Clever Critters Save Their Forest Home? by George McClements (Beach Lane Books, $16.99, 9781416986263/141698626X). "Clever torn-paper collages with found elements relay this sweet tale of friendship, teamwork, and endangered animals. Kids will roar for the clever ending."--Maureen Palacios, Once Upon a Time, Montrose, Calif.

[Many thanks to IndieBound and the ABA!]

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