Shelf Awareness for Thursday, August 20, 2009

Tundra Books (NY): Night Lunch by Eric Fan, illustrated by Dena Seiferling

Doubleday Books: Shrines of Gaiety by Kate Atkinson

Tor Books: Ocean's Echo by Everina Maxwell

Red Lightning Books: Plant-Based Himalaya: Vegan Recipes from Nepal by Babita Shrestha

Amulet Books: Lightlark (Book 1) by Alex Aster

Sourcebooks Fire: Wild Is the Witch by Rachel Griffin

Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers: Eden's Everdark by Karen Strong

Insight Editions: Halloween Party and Preview

First Second: Ride On by Faith Erin Hicks

Quotation of the Day

Brookline Booksmith: Life in a 'Full Service Bookshop'

"Here's what it's like to be me today, working at the Booksmith: 
Just got an email from Amit in Tel-Aviv, who was wandering through the market looking for a small gift for a friend. He chose a used copy of Jerry Seinfeld's SeinLanguage, and when he got it home to wrap it up, an old Booksmith bookmark fell out, a bookmark from the days before we had a website, and he looked up the 'neighborhood bookstore' online and sent me a photo of the bookmark. 

"Just got a call from a man who is a narrator of childrens' audio books, who wasn't familiar with the name of the author of his next project, Judith Viorst. Thought he'd call us up to check on the pronunciation. I told him that the v, s, and t are silent. No, I didn't do that. But I got him to promise to give us a plug in the intro of the audio book.

"I didn't do that either. But I did then take a call from someone who needed to know how to get to the highway from Putterham Circle.

"Brookline Booksmith; most definitely a full service bookshop."--Paul Theriault, in this week's b-mail newsletter from Brookline Booksmith, Brookline, Mass.



Disney-Hyperion: Hey, Bruce!: An Interactive Book (Mother Bruce) by Ryan Higgins


B&N's Second Quarter: Store Sales Down; Online Up

In the second quarter ended August 1, total sales at Barnes & Noble dropped 5% to $1.2 billion compared to the same period last year and net earnings were $12.3 million. Without a $4 million insurance settlement, net earnings would be $8.3 million.

Sales at B&N stores fell 5% to $1 billion, and sales at B&N stores open at least a year were down 6.9%, just within the company's prediction of a drop of 5%-7%. Sales at Barnes& rose 2% to $102 million.

By comparison, in the first quarter ended May 2, B&N sales fell 4.4%, comp-store sales were down 5.7% and online sales were off 7% (Shelf Awareness, May 21, 2009).

The company predicts that in the third quarter B&N comp-store sales will fall 1%-3%.

Bestselling titles during the quarter included Janet Evanovich's Finger Lickin' Fifteen, Kathryn Stockett's The Help, Daniel Silva's The Defector, Sophie Kinsella's Twenties Girl and Dick Morris's Catastrophe.

In a statement, CEO Steve Riggio commented: "Due to strong expense management and improved gross margins we achieved earnings per share near the high-end of guidance. While the decline in retail traffic continues to be the principal impediment to our top line, we do offer our customers the ability to shop with us online, where sales were slightly above last year. We remain focused on working capital management, which resulted in solid free cash flow and no borrowings on our credit facility for the second quarter."


GLOW: Disney-Hyperion: Drizzle, Dreams, and Lovestruck Things by Maya Prasad

Notes: More B&N News; BookPeople's School Kits

Barnes & Noble has "quietly shuttered" Quamut, the how-to site it launched back in 2008 that "was a mix of professionally produced how-to guides and user-created wikis, the latter of which are no longer available," according to CNET. What "remains are the 1,685 guides which will continue to be sold both at Barnes & Noble's online store as digital downloads, and at brick-and-mortar stores as laminated paper reference guides. . . . There's no word yet on whether the company will continue to invest in the creation of more guides, or if its user-generated how-to guides will once again be made available. For now, the only way to access them is through a Web cache like Google."


Barnes & Noble is launching a new program that will publish a line of out of print books in hardcover editions. Called the Barnes & Noble Rediscovers series, the books are priced between $9.95 and $14.95 and initial titles include Darwin's Century by Loren Eiseley, The Pursuit of the Millennium by Norman Cohn, Shakespeare and the Goddess of Complete Being by Ted Hughes and History in English Words by Owen Barfield.

"The Barnes & Noble Rediscovers series opens a new door for us and a new window for writers and estates who have earned no income on their works for years," said Marcus Leaver, president of Sterling Publishing, B&N's publishing subsidiary. "We plan to expand the capabilities of the program to include both eBook and print on demand options."


Cool idea of the day: BookPeople, Austin, Tex., is working with SafePlace to put together School Kits for children grades K-12. According to the bookshop's newsletter, "Certain times of the year can be more difficult for families who have left abusive homes to live violence-free lives. One such time is when children go back to school. Compounded by the violence they are experiencing with issues of homelessness or lack of resources, it can be exceedingly difficult for a parent to provide all the necessary school supplies for his or her children."

BookPeople invites anyone interested in helping to bring one or more of the items listed in the newsletter to the bookstore August 22 or 23. For every five items donated, BookPeople will donate one book to SafePlace.


Dan Danbom, a former Rocky Mountain News book reviewer who recently opened Printed Page Bookshop, Denver, Colo., told New West: "Now, instead of reviewing books, I've decided that a fast route to famine is to try to sell them."

"Ask about our books on paper" is the shop's motto. Danbom observed that he and business partner Nancy Stevens will be "defiant and antiquated to the very end!"


The Branson, Mo., Daily News profiled Calvin's Used Books, owner Heidi Sampson and the shop's eponymous feline, now 17 years old.

"Someone dropped him off in the parking lot and he made his way to my door," Sampson said. "I brought him in, fed him and tried to get rid of him, but after about two weeks, all anyone wanted to know was where the cat was." When the 19-year-old business, originally called Half Price Books of the Ozarks, incorporated in 2000, Sampson had to "come up with a name, and by that time, almost anyone who came through the door had two questions: 'Where’s Calvin?' and then 'I’m looking for this book.'"


Book trailer of the day: South of Broad by Pat Conroy.


The New York Times reported on the Brooklyn Public Library's approach to handling "books that offend," focusing on Hergé’s controversial 79-year-old Tintin au Congo, which "was moved in 2007 from the public area of the library to a back room where it is held under lock and key. The move came after a patron objected, as others have, to the way Africans are depicted in the book. "

Many libraries have policies allowing patrons to complain formally about books they find objectionable. The Times noted that "New York City libraries have received almost two dozen written objections since 2005. But the book about Tintin (pronounced Tantan in his native Brussels) was the only challenged item to have been removed from the shelves, library officials said. The objection was reviewed by a panel, in keeping with the library's policy. It determined the book no longer belonged on the open stacks, but rather should be tucked away in the Hunt Collection, which are kept in a vault-like room accessible only to staff members."


Write, revise, rewrite. The New York Times chronicled Elizabeth Gilbert's efforts to craft a followup to her bestselling memoir, Eat, Pray, Love.

"There's something very scary about having millions of people waiting to see what you're going to do next," she said. "The people who love Eat, Pray, Love are very dear and are very encouraging, but they also have their expectations."

The Times noted that Gilbert "has delivered a new book that Viking will publish in January. Titled Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace With Marriage, the book is a memoir of a tumultuous year that came 18 months after Eat, Pray, Love leaves off, as well as a meditation on wedlock."


Alain de Botton has begun his brief term as Heathrow Airport's writer-in-residence. The Guardian reported that the "results of his week's stint at Terminal Five will be published by Profile Books next month, with BAA distributing 10,000 copies free to passengers." 


Merriam-Webster Kids: Merriam-Webster's Ready-For-School Words: 1,000 Words for Big Kids by Hannah Campbell, illustrated by Sara Rhys

Media and Movies

Media Heat: When You Lie About Your Age, the Terrorists Win

Tomorrow on the View, in a repeat: Carol Leifer, author of When You Lie About Your Age, the Terrorists Win: Reflections on Looking in the Mirror (Villard, $24, 9780345502964/0345502965).


This Weekend on Book TV: Weed Man

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, August 22

10 a.m. For an event hosted by R.J. Julia Booksellers, Madison, Conn., Daniel Wolff, author of How Lincoln Learned to Read: Twelve Great Americans and the Education That Made Them (Bloomsbury, $26, 9781596912908/1596912901), talks about Benjamin Franklin, W.E.B. Du Bois, Henry Ford and Elvis Presley, among others.

11 a.m. Dan Baum, author of Nine Lives: Death and Life in New Orleans (Spiegel & Grau, $26, 9780385523196/038552319X), discusses the extended time he spent in the city covering the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

6 p.m. Encore Booknotes. For a segment that first aired in 1992, Neil Postman, author of Technopoly: The Surrender of Culture to Technology (Vintage, $13, 9780679745402/0679745408), suggested that technology was becoming a national "religion" that people had faith in to solve their problems.

10 p.m. After Words. Keith Stroup, founder of NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws), interviews John McCaslin, author of Weed Man: The Remarkable Journey of Jimmy Divine (Thomas Nelson, $24.99, 9781595551535/1595551530). McCaslin recounts the life of a marijuana trafficker from the Bahamas who imported large quantities of the drug into the U.S. during the 1970s. (Re-airs Sunday at 9 p.m., and Monday at 12 a.m. and 3 a.m.)

11 p.m. Dan Fleshler, author of Transforming America's Israel Lobby: The Limits of Its Power and the Potential for Change (Potomac Books, $24.95, 9781597972222/1597972223), questions the influence of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and other powerful supporters of Israel in Washington, D.C.

Sunday, August 23

6 a.m. Geoffrey Nunberg, author of The Years of Talking Dangerously (PublicAffairs, $18.95, 9781586487454/1586487450), deconstructs the buzz words, stock phrases and metaphors he says the country came to live by during the last four years of the Bush administration. 


Movies: The Lucky One; The Burnt Orange Heresy

Douglas McGrath will direct an adaptation of The Lucky One by Nicholas Sparks for Warner Bros. Variety reported that producer Denise Di Novi "has produced three other Sparks adaptations for the studio--Nights in Rodanthe, A Walk to Remember and Message in a Bottle."


A film version of Charles Willeford's crime novel, The  Burnt Orange Heresy, will be written and directed by Neil LaBute, with William Horberg (The Kite Runner) producing. According to Variety, the project "re-teams LaBute with Horberg after the duo worked on the remake of Death at a Funeral."

"We had a great experience making Death at a Funeral together for Screen Gems and were looking for something else to do together," Horberg said. "We discovered that we were both big Willeford fans."


Theater: Love, Loss & What I Wore

Rhea Perlman and her daughter, Lucy DeVito, have joined the rotating cast that will appear in the Off Broadway production of Love, Loss and What I Wore, adapted by Nora and Delia Ephron from Ilene Beckerman's bestselling book. According to Variety, the show will also feature Tyne Daly, Rosie O’Donnell, Kristin Chenoweth and Rita Wilson. Previews begin at the Westside Theater September 21, with the opening scheduled for October 1.


Books & Authors

Awards: O. B. Hardison, Jr. Poetry Prize

Juliana Spahr won the $10,000 O. B. Hardison, Jr. Poetry Prize, presented annually by Folger Poetry, the poetry program of the Folger Shakespeare Library. Her most recent book is The Transformation. Spahr will be honored with a reading and reception at the Folger on Friday, October 9.

"There's a rhyme at the heart of Juliana Spahr's work that suggests her motive and her movement: connective and collective," said Joshua Weiner, one of the judges for this year's prize. "Her lines connect experiences and collect objects in a language that is daring for its plainness, clarity, analysis, self-deprecation, earnestness and irony, its unabashed lyrical phrasing, its unembarrassed willingness to make claims about the relation between self and world, between social consciousness and physical desire."


Book Review

Children's Review: The Day of the Pelican

The Day of the Pelican by Katherine Paterson (Clarion Books, $16.00 Hardcover, 9780547181882, October 2009)

Katherine Paterson twines together the raw emotions and fear that plagued the United States after September 11, 2001, along with the plight for Muslim refugees from Milosevic's Kosovo who wound up in America at precisely that emotionally charged time. One such family took shelter in Paterson's home state of Vermont and inspired this moving novel. More akin to her Bread and Roses, Too than to her The Same Stuff as Stars, this story places the era and situation front and center. Kosovo's Plain of Dukagjin, where 11-year-old Meli Lleshi and her family make their home and which the storks fly over on their return from a winter in Africa, is as much a character as Meli's younger brothers, eight-year-old Isuf and six-year-old Adlil. Mehmet, Meli's 13-year-old brother, however, plays a larger role, especially when he goes missing after school one day. Paterson takes readers on the Lleshi family's journey to find a place of sanctuary after Milosevic's Serbian soldiers begin to wipe out the Albanian Kosovars, and Meli's parents, grateful to have Mehmet back after he is left for dead and saved by the KLA (Kosovo Liberation Army), will do anything to keep their son from joining the KLA. But even after much of the danger has passed, they have no store or apartment to return to--everything was destroyed. As Meli's father, Baba, says, "War is madness. . . . It is the innocent who always suffer most." Even in America, where they decide to settle, new challenges await the Muslim family in the wake of 9/11. Paterson exposes the complexities of a war halfway around the globe and how its scars reach across an ocean.  Young readers who did not know where Kosovo was before will not forget it after reading the Lleshis's remarkable story.--Jennifer M. Brown


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