Also published on this date: Wednesday, June 16, 2010: Maximum Shelf: What Is Left the Daughter
Shelf Awareness for Tuesday, June 15, 2010
Quotation of the Day
Brookner: Indie Bookshop Loyalty Has 'Never Wavered'
"I have never wavered in my loyalty to independent bookshops and visit my local bookshop on average once a week. I know that the owners will get the books I want, engage in discussion, and supply the sort of service that is intimately connected with the whole business of reading."
Notes: News Corp. E-Investments; Bookstore Moves
News Corp., parent of HarperCollins, has bought Hearst Corp.'s Skiff, which develops technology for newspapers and magazines to be read on a range of computers, smartphones, etc. Skiff will be folded into News Corp., according to the Wall Street Journal, one of several News Corp. companies that will use Skiff's products and services. (Skiff's e-reader for newspapers and magazines that was supposed to go on sale later this year has apparently not been included in the purchase.)
News Corp. has also made an investment in Journalism Online, which helps publishers set up e-commerce platforms and charge for online news and information--a priority for News Corp. head Rupert Murdoch.
Amazon is now updating its Kindle software so that owners will be able to sort e-books into collections, share notes and highlighted passages on Facebook and Twitter, have more font options and more. According to Amazon, the update, announced in April, is being done automatically "over the next few weeks."
Founded in March 2008, the Blue Elephant Book Shop, Decatur, Ga., has moved to what sounds like the near-center of an auspicious triangle: "two doors west of Taqueria del Sol, two doors east of Dancing Goats Coffee Bar, and directly across the street from Watershed Restaurant."
The new address and new phone number: 407 W. Ponce de Leon Ave., Decatur, Ga. 30030; 404-373-1565.
Three locals in Oxford, Ohio, are hoping to open a combined bookstore, coffeehouse, brewery and restaurant to be called Quarter Gastropub and Brewery, according to the Oxford Press. The city council is considering a loan from the Oxford Community Improvement Corp. to the group.
Jitters Coffeehouse and Bookstore has opened in Laurel, Miss., the Hattiesburg American reported. Founded by Mary Wilson, Jitters sells coffee, desserts, used books and new books from local authors. It also has a drive-through window.
Alan Cheuse recommended "Fiction, Long And Short, for Summertime Escapes" on NPR's All Things Considered. His picks included Fun with Problems by Robert Stone, Walks with Men by Ann Beattie, The Dreamer by Pam Munoz Ryan, A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan and Lucy by Laurence Gonzales.
Image of the Day: As Easy As...
Earlier this month at a launch party at Brilliant Books, Suttons Bay, Mich., fans and friends of Newbery medalist Lynne Rae Perkins and her new book, As Easy as Falling Off the Face of the Earth (Greenwillow), were able to take photos of one another in this cardboard cutout based on the cover of the book. Here Perkins herself takes a fall.
Coop: Road Tour Nearly Becomes a Canal Tour
Michael Perry, author of Coop, reports from his road trip:
The last time I was at Lift Bridge Book Shop in Brockport, N.Y., I believe I was on tour for the paperback of Population 485. When owner Archie Kutz showed me into the street after the reading that night, the air was bracingly cold. I also remember being fascinated to realize that I was within half a block of the Erie Canal, which had achieved mythological status for me decades previous as I sat beside the phonograph in our Wisconsin farmhouse and sang along with Pete Seeger's album Children's Concert at Town Hall:
...and we know every inch of the way
from Albany to Buffalo
Low bridge, everybody down,
Low bridge for we're comin' to a town
And you'll always know your neighbor
And you'll always know your pal
If you've ever navigated on the Erie Canal....
Today I had time to cross the lift bridge in Brockport and see the canal for myself after all these years. Somewhere back in my younger soul that song was playing. A more demonstrative man than I would have exited the car to stroll the banks whilst plucking a banjo and belting out the appropriate folk standard, but having obtained only three hours sleep the night previous (see yesterday's post) and having risen for an 8:30 a.m. interview before driving in from Buffalo, I chose instead to park in the far corner of the local grocery store parking lot, knock the driver's seat back and catch a 42-minute nap. Then, awakened by my cell phone alarm, I composed myself and toddled off to present My Art and/or tell sneezing cow jokes.
The event at Lift Bridge Book Shop began in the basement, where we gathered around a table for coffee, bagels and conversation (I stuck with herbal tea, as I fairly hum with coffee for the duration of book tour). It is difficult to express how neat it is to walk into a setting so far from home and ease into engaging conversation with people predisposed to like books. We discussed pet pigs versus bacon pigs; Jersey cows versus Holstein cows (Jerseys: lower milk production, higher cream production, big doe eyes, kick is the equivalent of a love tap; Holsteins: big milk production, look gorgeous against the backdrop of a green pasture, kick like Sebastian Janikowski); and some of our favorite agricultural writers (I always nominate Gene Logsdon, whose All Flesh Is Grass and Small-Scale Grain-Raising are staples of our operation). One theme I have been returning to again and again in discussions and interviews for Coop is how the contemporary slow/thoughtful/local/organic/whatever food movement is not simply a retreaded version of the ol' rural-based "back-to-the-land" trope. I am heartened by the fact that whether someone is growing tomatoes in a window box in Brockport or raising four chickens in a backyard in Buffalo or returning to rural Upstate to launch a full-blown organic farm, each seems to be calibrating their efforts to match available time and resources. As I told someone today about our farm, sometimes 37 acres is nice... but many days it seems 36.5 acres too many.
After reading and signing books upstairs I had--as self-employed booksellers and book writers will do--a parting conversation with Archie regarding the state of the industry. There is much to furrow one's brow about, but I continue to accrete readers one by one thanks to the old standbys: handselling, word of mouth, mailing lists (increased today by some 20 signatures on your standard yellow legal pad) and a publisher who got it way back when Population 485 came out, when I declared I wanted to approach a book tour like a low-rent road dog... just get out there, put those miles on, tell those stories, thank those readers, meet those booksellers and point the hood ornament toward the next place. It's been working. While there was no need for Archie to hire security for the event, there were many more chairs filled than for my last go-round. And so now it's on to Oswego, crossing the Erie Canal at least once more before I get there, hopes high, because you'll always know your neighbor and you'll always know your pal if you've ever navigated on the Erie Canal....
BEA: Why Books Are Sexy
A good editor-author relationship is a lot like a good Harlequin romance novel, according to Harlequin director of digital content and social media Malle Vallik.
Speaking to a packed house at the BEA panel on the new editor-author relationship, Vallik said that like lovers, authors and editors are drawn together by mutual attraction, then get to know one another and (at least in the lovers' case, after a lot of "really really really great sex") establish a functioning relationship from which they can build and go forward.
Expectations may shift and change--just as they have with the advent of e-books--but the relationship continues to serve the needs of both parties as it grows and matures. Following the analogy into the marketplace, Vallik said that today's editors and publishers need to be looking at books with an eye toward digital enhancements, products, applications and marketing opportunities. In other words, editors and publishers need to change and grow to keep the relationship thriving.
Some of the e-strategies that have succeeded at Harlequin include the e-book prequel to a previously launched or upcoming title; the "bridge series," short content books the publisher gives away for a limited time to tide readers over between longer and eagerly awaited books by an established author; and what Vallik called nonfiction "chunking," that is, making smaller nonfiction e-books that serve to draw a reader to the authors' novels or which readers will buy when they are devoted to an author.
Romance author Debbie Macomber, creator of a popular Harlequin series set in the fictitious town of Cedar Cove, has been very successful with the Debbie Macomber's Cedar Cove Cookbook (Harlequin 2009) available in print and e-book formats and featuring recipes named for Macomber's characters, such as Charlotte Rhodes's Cinnamon Rolls. (The Help's recipe for chocolate cake, anyone?)
Whether it's an enhancement, a bridge book or a book in some other e-format, at Harlequin digital content "needs to stand alone" so that the reader can use the digital product or read a mini e-book story and "feel satisfied" with the encounter, Vallik said.
"E-promotion is opportunistic" and changing all the time, she continued. This month, Harlequin is launching Carina Press, a digital-only series of 40 titles (without DRM, and thus easily copied) priced from $2.99 to $6.99. Harlequin will watch where Carina content goes, how it travels, who shares it.
While Vallik and Harlequin urge writers to develop content, products and brand identity simultaneously, Jim Abar, editorial director for PreMedia Global Creative Resources, which develops educational materials for publishers and associations, views writers as "content providers," who supply an array of written material for print and digital format products.
In educational publishing, e-book and print development are done simultaneously, with one process informing the other and print and media design teams and content providers working in tandem. Creating print and digital materials simultaneously, rather than making digital content secondary to print content, means the e-book people never need to scramble to find new ways to adapt and use print content, Abar said. E-books are a requirement for submission in educational publishing and have been so for many years.
People, money, time, space and ideas are all considered during the planning stages at PreMedia, allowing the multi-media conception of books in all forms to be fluid and adaptable. For example, hyperlinks can be included in the print version of an educational book, which will, the company hopes, drive readers to the e-book. Once there, the reader/user finds new digital material that can be consumed with or without the print version of the book.
While Vallik and Abar spoke from what might seem polar ends of the publishing spectrum--educational books for k-12 on the one hand and serialized romance novels on the other--their strategic view of the development process and the symbiotic nature of the print and digital product were in synch, looking ahead toward a publishing world in which digital and print books exist on a continuous spectrum that allows various points of entry for readers and many opportunities for writers and editors to work together creatively.
"The next form of story is going to be multi-layered," Vallik said. "Things I can't even imagine that I'm sure some 12-year-old is sitting in her basement dreaming up right now."--Laurie Lico Albanese
Media and Movies
Media Heat: Confessions of a Prairie Bitch
Today on NPR's All Things Considered: Michael Koryta, author of So Cold the River (Little, Brown, $24.99, 9780316053631/0316053635).
Today on NPR's Talk of the Nation: David Crystal, author of A Little Book of Language (Yale University Press, $25, 9780300155334/0300155336).
Tomorrow morning on Fox and Friends: John Kasich, author of Every Other Monday: Twenty Years of Life, Lunch, Faith, and Friendship (Atria, $25, 9781439148273/1439148279). He will also appear tomorrow on MSNBC's Morning Joe and Hardball with Chris Matthews.
Tomorrow morning on Good Morning America: Zev Rosenwaks and Mark Goldstein, authors of A Baby at Last!: The Couple's Complete Guide to Getting Pregnant--from Cutting-Edge Treatments to Commonsense Wisdom (Fireside, $15.99, 9781439149621/1439149623).
Tomorrow morning on the Today Show: Alison Arngrim, author of Confessions of a Prairie Bitch: How I Survived Nellie Oleson and Learned to Love Being Hated (It Books, $25.99, 9780061962141/0061962147).
Tomorrow on NPR's All Things Considered: Bonnie Blodgett, author of Remembering Smell: A Memoir of Losing--and Discovering--the Primal Sense (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $24, 9780618861880/0618861882).
Tomorrow on NPR's Diane Rehm Show: Alex Heard, author of The Eyes of Willie McGee: A Tragedy of Race, Sex, and Secrets in the Jim Crow South (Harper, $26.99, 9780061284151/0061284157).
Also on Diane Rehm: Mary McDonagh Murphy, author of Scout, Atticus, and Boo: A Celebration of Fifty Years of To Kill a Mockingbird (Harper, $24.99, 9780061924071/0061924075).
Tomorrow on the View: Valerie Bertinelli, author of Finding It: And Finally Satisfying My Hunger for Life (Free Press, $15, 9781439141649/1439141649). She will also appear tomorrow on the Today Show and the Joy Behar Show.
Tomorrow night on the Late Show with David Letterman: Emeril Lagasse, author of Farm to Fork: Cooking Local, Cooking Fresh (HarperStudio, $24.99, 9780061742958/0061742953).
Movies: Jonah Hex; The Killer Inside Me
Jonah Hex, based on the DC comic series, opens this coming Friday, June 18. Josh Brolin stars as a rugged bounty hunter sent to fight zombies raised by a vengeful plantation owner, who is played by John Malkovich. Megan Fox also stars and Jimmy Hayward directs.
The Killer Inside Me, based on the book by Jim Thompson (Vintage, $13.95, 9780679733973/0679733973), also opens June 18. Casey Affleck stars as a Texas sheriff with violent tendencies. Also starring Kate Hudson and Ned Beatty. Michael Winterbottom is the director.
Television: Lehane on Adapting His Work for TV
Asked by the Entertainment Weekly's Shelf Life blog if he had "the urge to write more for TV or film," bestselling author Dennis Lehane said, "I've been writing a script right now for Fox, and that's an adaptation of something I wrote, but it's an adaptation of a short story, so I don't have to cut, I have to open it up. I love TV, I love writing for TV. I think right now when you're in premium cable TV it feels like what it must have felt like writing just off Broadway in the 1940s and 1950s. There's just something really special going on. I really enjoy it, I just don't want to adapt my own novels."
Books & Authors
Awards: Amazon Breakthrough Novel Winners
This year's Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest, sponsored by Amazon, Penguin Group and CreateSpace "in search of the next popular novel," includes for the first time a YA category. Winners are:
General Fiction: Farishta by Patricia McArdle (Riverhead/Penguin, $24.95, 9781594487965/1594487960)
YA Fiction: Sign Language by Amy Ackley (Viking/Penguin, $16.99, 9780670013180/ 0670013188)
McArdle and Ackley each receive a $15,000 advance and publication by Penguin. Amazon customers voted on the nominees.
McArdle, a retired American diplomat who lives in Arlington, Va., follows a female U.S. diplomat in northern Afghanistan who provides aid to refugee women fleeing the violence there. She becomes their farishta, or "angel," in the Dari language. Ackley's career has spanned everything from public administration to labor relations for top automakers. She lives in Brighton, Mich., and is the mother of three children. Ackley was moved to write Sign Language after the death of her father and two close friends to cancer. Click here to read excerpts from the winning novels.
Attainment: New Titles Next Week
Selected new titles appearing next week:
High Financier: The Lives and Time of Siegmund Warburg by Niall Ferguson (Penguin Press, $35, 9781594202469/159420246X) is the biography of one the members of the famous banking family.
Family Ties by Danielle Steel (Delacorte, $28, 9780385343169/0385343167) follows a woman who raises her sister's children after a tragic plane crash.
In My Father's House by E. Lynn Harris (St. Martin's, $24.99, 9780312541910/0312541910) is about the gay owner of a modeling agency who is disowned by his rich father.
Go, Mutants! by Larry Doyle (Ecco, $23.99, 9780061686559/0061686557) takes place in a world where cheesy 1950s aliens have integrated into society.
Beachcombers by Nancy Thayer (Ballantine, $25, 9780345518286/0345518284) is set in Nantucket, where a middle-aged woman retreats to after her husband leaves her.
The Liar's Lullaby by Meg Gardiner (Dutton, $25.95, 9780525951728/0525951725) is the third thriller with forensic psychiatrist Jo Beckett.
AAUP's Books for Understanding: Oil
The Association of American University Press's latest Books for Understanding bibliography sadly but understandably contains scholarship on the role of oil--in economic, technological and political development, in international relations and in global environments.
Titles from 23 scholarly publishers include:
Lives Per Gallon: The True Cost of Our Oil Addiction by Terry Tamminen, which looks at the "health, environmental, and national security costs hidden in every barrel of oil" (Island Press, 2008)
British Petroleum and Global Oil 1950-1975: The Challenge of Nationalism by James Bamberg, which traces the history of the company primarily responsible for the current disaster in the Gulf of Mexico (Cambridge University Press, 2000)
Mandahla: The Last Dog on the Hill
Last Dog on the Hill: The Extraordinary Life of Lou by Steve Duno (St. Martin's Press, $24.99 Hardcover, 9780312600495, June 2010)
The year was 1986. The place was a Northern California highway. The event was Steve Duno's girlfriend Nancy spotting puppies scampering up a hillside. The immediate result was one puppy who turned around when Steve, on a whim, whistled: a back-and-tan Rottweiler-Shepherd mix, whose parents, according to a park ranger, were guard dogs for a marijuana grow on the other side of the ridge. The long-lasting result was Lou, the last dog on the hill and the best dog in the world. Duno says he hadn't planned on getting a dog this way--"making a snap decision beside the road with giant dogs and dead deer and caffeinated truckers and marijuana fields and boyish rangers and sweet gypsy eyes looking up at me, wondering when we'd be going home." But providence, timing and luck "graced me for the first time in my life, in the form of a flea-ridden Mendocino mutt."
So, fleas leaping off him like shooting stars, Lou got a vet visit and a home; Duno, for his part, got an amazing dog, and "life will never be the same" held true for the next 16 years. At the time, Duno was living in a sketchy part of Los Angeles, tutoring students. Lou immediately made friends with the local Culver City Boyz, who called him "Guapo" because of his beautiful eyes. They fed him cheese enchiladas and Lou became Duno's pass through gangsta land. When Duno had to find another place to live, Lou proved he could also seduce reluctant elderly ladies with his charm: a no-dog policy? Never mind.
But training Lou was another matter. The one thing Lou could not abide was being left alone. Duno slowly worked up to short periods away from the house, and all seemed well--until he went across the street to the 7-Eleven. In five minutes Lou managed to rip and roll up 200 feet of wall-to-wall carpeting and padding, splinter a door, chew the molding, punch a hole into sheetrock and leap through a glass window. So Duno consulted a trainer (a Marxist grifter), read a book, consulted another trainer (a Wiccan priestess), got a crate, and man and dog were on their way to becoming a team. Lou got better and better each day, and soon Duno felt like a novice violin player who accidentally finds a dusty Stradivarius.
As Lou developed from feral squirrel-eater to L.A. schmoozer, they both worked hard at training, and Lou quickly mastered the basics and wanted more; he also had a "tactful" way with other dogs that eventually would be used by Duno in the next phase of their lives together in Washington State. But before that, a few adventures remained in L.A., like foiling kidnappers, stopping a robbery and saving his owner from a gunman. Ho hum for Lou.
When Duno, Nancy and Lou moved to Seattle (Duno asks her if she could live in an apartment full time without killing them, and she replies, "I could never kill Lou."), he got a job with the Academy of Canine Behavior, a last-ditch stop for dogs with severe behavioral problems. Duno bluffed his way in, with Lou as his portfolio, and Lou pulled it off. Lou soon became a mentor for troubled dogs; Duno says that if Lou is to be remembered for one thing, it's for how he helped hundreds of dogs find peace in their troubled souls. But Lou is remembered for much more than that. In Seattle, he ran down a rapist, comforted elderly people, eased children's fears and endeared himself to everyone who met him (except for the bad guys).
Inspirational and heartwarming tales of how this "feral fuzz ball" grew into handsome, brilliant and gallant Lou are told with humor and deep love. "Our friendship defined us. These days I can't think of myself, or of life before or after him, without imagining him here forever, like an inscription carved into my heart." With The Last Dog on the Hill, Steve Duno has written a book that will carve itself into the reader's heart.--Marilyn Dahl
Shelf Talker: A funny, sweet and inspirational story of a "feral fuzz ball" of a dog grew into the brave and handsome--and truly memorable--Lou.