Shelf Awareness for Thursday, June 24, 2010
Quotation of the Day
A 'Quintessential Independent Bookstore Moment'
"So here we had an indie bookseller whose shop was pretty new; a soon-to-be indie bookseller whose high school English teacher was in a book club with the existing bookshop owner; a writer whose debut novel ended up being a great read and whose sister is the uber-famous 'tween' writer; a local music store owner who'd recommended Blue Elephant Book Shop to me; and his daughter, an avid reader whose favorite author's sister was standing right. next. to. her. It was, in fact, a quintessential independent bookstore moment."
later this year, in a blog post for Beyond the Trestle, an Athens website
where she will be writing about books and literature.
Notes: Auntie's Bookstore Branching Out; Introducing the R-Book
Auntie's Bookstore, Spokane, Wash., is expanding with a new branch in River Park Square mall, KXLY-TV reported, noting that "Auntie's at the Square is scheduled to open in July and will be located on the second floor of the mall near the Macy's skywalk."
Stephen Pohl, the mall's general manager, called the bookshop "a Spokane icon and we are thrilled for them to join River Park Square's unique mix of local retailers. A bookstore for readers of all ages has long been in demand for the center. Our customers will embrace it."
"Opening a store at River Park Square is an exciting opportunity for Auntie's," owner Chris O' Harra said. "The center's high volume of traffic will allow us greater access to the community and help expand our customer base."
Effective July 15, the Midwest Booksellers Association will relocate from Minneapolis to the Twin Cities suburb of Golden Valley, Minn. The MBA's new address will be 2355 Louisiana Avenue N, Suite A, Golden Valley, Minn. 55427. While the toll free number will remain the same (800-784-7522), there will be new numbers for phone (763-544-2993) and fax (763-544-2266) communications.
E-mail addresses for Susan Walker (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Kati Gallagher (email@example.com) also remain the same.
Yesterday, Tom Campbell, owner of the Regulator Bookshop, Durham, N.C., broke an intriguing news story--"The best reading device on the planet?"--on his bookshop's blog, with tongue planted firmly in cheek.
Noting that the e-book and publishing industries have been thrown into turmoil, Campbell reported on the recent announcement by Reeve Hobbs, CEO of Kumquat Technologies, who "unveiled his company's surprising new 'R-Book,' which seems likely to leave current e-book technologies in the dust."
"Unlike the competition, the R-Book is designed to do just one thing--to serve as the best possible platform for reading books," said Hobbs "And it quite simply kicks butt at what it does."
Borders Group has released an e-books app for the iPad, "bringing yet another big-name retailer into the Apple ecosystem," SlashGear reported.
Barbara J. King, college professor and "aspiring-to-midlist author," posed and considered three questions in the Chronicle of Higher Education:
- What in God's name do BookScan numbers really mean?
- How can we as writers begin to fathom the M word? (Yes, I mean marketing.)
- Why do authors get the big chill when we seek to learn about those, and assorted other, mysteries of publishing?
"Publishers: We authors, some of us anyway, expend far too much energy seeking to understand this new landscape," King wrote. "We need an authors' boot camp. Or better yet, freshman orientation, the kind where no question is dumb, there's a little hand-holding to be had, and we all, mentors and apprentices together, eat pizza at the end of the day. So help us out when we ask questions. Don't assume we know the lingo. Do assume we don't grasp the ins and outs of BookScan, returns, marketing decisions, and other aspects of the craft that are as obvious to you as breathing. Better yet, don't wait for us to ask. Unconfuse us spontaneously."
Toronto booksellers Jesse and Charlie Huisken, who own This Ain’t the Rosedale Library, explained on their website why the shop has been closed for the past few days in a post that also hinted at the bookshop's future, Quillblog reported.
Calling their explanation a simple one and relating it to "a long story about the plight of bookstores in Toronto and in many North American cities," the Huiskens chronicled their troublesome relationship with a landlord who has changed the locks and to whom they are offering "a choice which would be beneficial to her and allow us to re-open our doors, and are hoping that the outpouring of encouragement from the public might influence our situation. Along with this we are seeking help with organizing a fundraiser, and we are accepting PayPal donations. As we were living day-to-day, as many small business owners do for years after opening or relocating, our own livelihood has been erased, and our present situation is very uncertain. None-the-less we have seen that many people value what we do and are eager to help us, and thus remain hopeful that a resolution is around the corner."
In "Pass notes No 2,801: Dostoevsky," the Guardian contemplated murals of the Russian author in Moscow's Metro Dostoevsky station that "have been called 'depressing' and 'inappropriate.' "
"Worse than Lady Gaga? The Russians are worried he'll encourage suicides on the Moscow underground. The new Dostoevsky metro station features scenes from his works, including the axe murders, and a portrait of the author. Critics describe it as 'gloomy,' 'depressing' and 'totally inappropriate,' " the Guardian wrote.
"AIGA 50 Books/50 Covers" showcases 100 examples of outstanding book and book cover design produced in 2009. The jury’s selections will be mounted as a public exhibition at the AIGA National Design Center in New York in December, and then tour the country to AIGA chapters and student groups during 2011.
Starting with the premise that "everyone in book publishing has a website," the Huffington Post examined publisher sites with a specific goal: "But what do book publisher websites do? We wanted to know, so we looked at what's out there to see if we could figure it out." HuffPost followed up that exploration by focusing upon publishers' "social media strategies: the Facebook pages and Twitter feeds with the biggest followings."
In the Philippines, BusinessWorld reported that National Bookstore, the country's largest chain with 120 shops, will open 10 new branches this year "despite new electronic technology that has since challenged the popularity of books."
"It is a different time... we try to supply the demand on certain category. But we are beginning to look into [new technology] because remember, books are not the same anymore," said National Bookstore president Alfredo C. Ramos.
Book trailer of the day: Twelve by Twelve: A One Room Cabin Off the Grid and Beyond the American Dream by William Powers (New World Library).
International Sales: Penguin Looks South
Penguin Group has launched a new international sales division that will be headed by Carlos Azula, v-p, international sales, Latin America, the Caribbean and Mexico, a new position. Penguin said the move reflects a new focus on that area. Other international sales territories are unaffected by the change.
Azula will focus on selling Penguin and DK from the U.S. and from Penguin UK, when rights are available, and will work with other Penguin Group companies when other products, in both Spanish and English, may be sold. He will also buy Spanish-language work for resale in the U.S. He starts July 1 and will be based in Palatkis, Fla.
Azula was formerly v-p, foreign language sales, at Random House, where he also handled Spanish-language imports from Mexico, Argentina, Chile and Spain. Earlier he worked at BDD, Morrow and Simon & Schuster.
In addition, effective July 19, Erik Riesenberg has been named director of international sales, Latin America, Mexico and the Caribbean. He formerly worked at Random House, where he was national accounts manager for Ingram and Baker & Taylor, responsible for selling Spanish- and English-language material, and earlier was director, marketing and business development, Random House Spanish.
They’re Off to See the Wizard--and Benefit First Book
During the ALA conference in our nation's capital this week, authors, librarians and readers of all ages are invited to "lend their voices" to a reading of L. Frank Baum’s The Wizard of Oz in what Random House is calling a "community sourced" audiobook.
Random House Audio and OverDrive, the audiobooks distributor, are combining forces to raise awareness of audiobook downloads which they say have grown 20% over the past two years. The recording will take place at a Digital Bookmobile across the street from the Renaissance Hotel (999 9th Street NW)--two blocks from the Washington Convention Center--and will be open to the public (children under 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian) from 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. Friday, June 25, and from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, June 26, and Sunday, June 27.
All proceeds from the download will be donated to First Book, which promotes child literacy. Random House Audio will also donate audiobooks to First Book as part of this project. Among those who've committed to lending their voices: Newbery winners Christopher Paul Curtis, Rebecca Stead and Karen Cushman, bestselling YA authors Cory Doctorow, Libba Bray and Holly Black, and bestselling adult authors Dennis Lehane, Ken Burns and Roy Blount, Jr.--Jennifer M. Brown
Sisters Over the Moon About Bookstore Opening
When Anne DeVault confided in her sister, Laura, that she wanted to change careers after 10 years as a kindergarten teacher, she received more than encouragement to pursue her lifelong dream of opening a bookstore--she got a business partner. Laura's interest in art collecting then led to the decision to include a gallery as part of the space. "We hatched the idea that night, and I quit my job the next morning," said Anne. (She did stay through the end of the school term.)
Today the siblings are opening Over the Moon Bookstore & Artisan Gallery in Crozet, Va. The town is about 15 miles west of Charlottesville, in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, and has a literary connection. It's the setting for the "Mrs. Murphy" mystery series by human-feline duo Rita Mae Brown and Sneaky Pie Brown. Anne previously lived in Crozet before moving to Charlottesville, where Laura also resides. She is planning to move back within the next few months to be closer to the store.
Over the Moon is a 1,000-sq.-ft. general interest bookstore and is in Crozet's historic downtown. The DeVaults originally planned to open a children's bookshop but changed their minds after discovering that theirs would be the only bookstore in the county. (Charlottesville is surrounded by but separate from Albemarle County.) The building that houses Over the Moon was once a feed and grain store, a barrel-making facility and, most recently, a hair salon. Among the features in the completely renovated space are custom maple and cherry bookcases and other furnishings made by a local woodworker.
On a Saturday evening in mid-May, future customers were invited to a preview potluck while the store was still under construction. Sawhorses were moved aside, the floor swept and candles lit. "We had a blast," Laura said. "We wanted people to feel like it was their store and they were part of the process. Our supporters and fans were invited to check it out, to celebrate how far we had come. It was also a tease. Come see it when it's in hard-hat stage, and then come see the transformation."
A small section of the store will be dedicated to the gallery. To integrate the two entities, some artwork will be placed throughout the books section and art and nature tomes will be displayed near the gallery. Wares include glasswork, jewelry, pottery and enameled panels, discovered in places like the Crozet Arts & Crafts Festival and an American Craft Council show in Baltimore, Md. Each month a different artist will be featured, beginning with a local landscape painter.
The sisters will host gallery receptions as part of the Second Saturdays series, along with author events, book group gatherings and parties for MLCs (Most Loyal Customers). Also in the works is a single malt Scotch club, inspired by glasses showcased in the gallery. On the agenda for kids are story times and writing contests. Young visitors can make their way into the children's section by walking or crawling through a two-and-a-half-foot archway cut into the wall, while grown-ups can use a more traditional entrance.
The DeVaults would like to start an independent business coalition for Crozet merchants. "We got some great ideas about how to do that from an ABA session at BEA," said Laura. Despite some apprehension about leaving the store mid-construction to head to New York City to attend BookExpo America, "it was so important for us to do," Laura added. "We learned so much and became re-energized to come back and handle drywall and electricians."
On their return trip home from BEA, Laura and Anne were at the train station when they realized they had left a suitcase at their hotel. They ended up missing their train and weren't able to get another one until the next day. With a free afternoon in New York City, they headed to Brooklyn to visit Boulevard Books & Café (Shelf Awareness, May 9, 2010), whose owner, Tatiana Nicoli, they had met at a Paz & Associates workshop. Another fellow Paz participant, Janet Geddis, who is planning to open Avid Bookshop in Athens, Ga., later this year, traveled to Virginia and spent a week in May helping out at Over the Moon.
A priority for the DeVaults is to hire a store manager, in part so they can continue their tradition of vacationing together. On a beach sojourn last year, Anne bought Laura a wooden plaque adorned with the phrase, "A woman without her sister is like a bird without wings." Laura later bought one as a gift for Anne. One of those plaques will now have pride of place behind the cash wrap.--Shannon McKenna Schmidt
Over the Moon Bookstore & Artisan Gallery is located at 5798 Three Notch'd Road, Crozet, Va., 22932; 434-823-1144.
Image of the Day: Mixed Roots Festival
At the third annual Mixed Roots Film & Literary Festival at the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles: (from l.) Festival co-founder Fanshen Cox; Festival co-founder Heidi Durrow, author of The Girl Who Fell from the Sky; Kip Fulbeck, author of Mixed: Portraits of Multiracial Children, the basis for an exhibition at the museum; Dr. Maya Soetoro-Ng, sister of President Obama, author of the foreword to Mixed and author of the forthcoming Ladder to the Moon.
Photo: Wilki Tom
The Coop Tour: Chippewa Falls Guy
Michael Perry, author of Coop, reports from his road trip:
All along the tour, when time and geography allow, I do drop-in signings. Say hello, introduce myself, sign books if they're in stock. After a recent drop-in, I headed directly for a local coffee shop to sneak a bit of writing time. Twenty minutes later a guy came in carrying a brand-new copy of Coop. I've often wondered how I would react in this situation. I'd like to think I'd be all cool and everything, but I wasn't. I kept shooting him glances and went back and forth about whether I should bug him, especially since he was accompanied by his possibly preschool son, but what finally swayed me was the fact that included in the pile with my book was an Olivia the Pig book. I'm a tad homesick as it is, but the sight of Olivia immediately put me bedside with my own two girls, both of whom love the inimitable porker. As the man gathered up his coffee, books, and youngster to leave, I just pointed at Coop and said, "Hey, thanks for buying that book."
Naturally he looked at me like I was a two-legged non sequitur.
Then I heard myself saying what I wish I'd been too cool to say, but I said it: "Yah, I wrote that."
But y'know? What may have been a cringeworthy moment bloomed beautifully when his face lit up and we were off to the races, shooting the breeze about the books (good news, Harper people: he has 'em all), raising chickens and reading Olivia the Pig stories to our babies. He's a carpenter and a builder, and it did my heart good to hear that despite his skills, his first chicken coop didn't turn out quite the way he hoped. Then we talked about the esthetics of timber frame construction in general, and then the esthetics of chicken coops in particular, and I pointed him to this website, cited in chapter two of Coop and a major influence on my henhouse.
We parted then and will perhaps never meet again (not being dramatic, just stating a likely fact), but thanks to chance (him walking into the bookstore just after I had signed the book), planning (the book was placed prominently because I had just signed it) (and it is possible he was looking for it thanks to an interview Harper publicist Meredith had arranged prior to the tour), and good old fashioned human commonality (fatherhood, affection for books, coffee, esthetics and fictional pigs), I met a nice guy and we shared a hearty conversation. Plus, carpenters who read are cool.
Thank you to everyone who arrived and spent time in the chairs at Toadstool Bookshop in Keene, N.H., last night. This was a lively bunch. They came primed with questions, and one gentleman was even familiar with Ed Krejci, the dear departed owner of Ed's Shoes in Chippewa Falls, Wis. I wrote about Ed in Coop:
As a native of Chippewa County, Wis., I knew immediately that the gentleman in attendance at Toadstool last night was legit when he pronounced Chippewa as "Chip'wuh." Outsiders pronounce it Chip-a-wah and are sent directly to Leinie's Lodge for re-education. Additional citizenship tests include the pronunciation of Leinie's (rhymes with hiney) and the ability to spell Leinenkugel's after drinking three Leinenkugel's.
Also in the audience were two local volunteer firefighters. One of the great gifts Population 485 has provided me is the ongoing opportunity to meet fellow firefighters and emergency medical responders all across the country. It's an honor to be part of that crew. In St. Paul, Minn., my pager is sitting in my car, waiting for me to arrive from the airport and switch it back on as soon as I hit the proper county line (note to self: Chief Three is also eagerly awaiting your emergency first responder license renewal, due by June 30). It is impossible for me adequately to express the import of my involvement in fire and EMS over the years, but apart from becoming a husband and father I designate my 12 years of service with the New Auburn Area Fire Department as the single most meaningful experience of my life. Indeed, the highlight of my year so far came last April when I unexpectedly wound up helping my old department fight a wildfire. These days my schedule allows me only a handful of calls per year, but that pager is a direct link to reality and mortality and an essential means of keeping one's priorities straight no matter how wildly glamorous (Brattleboro Super 8, anyone?) his book tours might become. So hang in there, Chief Three, I'll get that license renewal in, and see you sometime soon, probably at 3 a.m. in some ditch.
Media and Movies
This Weekend on Book TV: Captive
Book TV airs on C-Span 2 this week 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, June 26
8 a.m. MIT professor of behaviorial economics Dan Ariely talks about his book The Upside of Irrationality: The Unexpected Benefits of Defying Logic at Work and at Home (Harper, $27.99, 9780061995033/0061995037). (Re-airs Saturday at 7 p.m.)
1:30 p.m. David Heidler and Jeanne Heidler, co-authors of Henry Clay: The Essential American (Random House, $30, 9781400067268/140006726X), recount the life of the "the Western Star" from Kentucky. (Re-airs Sunday at 10 p.m. and Sunday, July 4 at 8:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m.)
10 p.m. After Words. George Packer interviews Jere Van Dyk, author of Captive: My Time As A Prisoner of the Taliban (Times Books, $25, 9780805088274/080508827X). Van Dyk the 45 days he and his guides spent as Taliban prisoners in 2008. (Re-airs Sunday at 9 p.m. and Monday at 12 a.m. and 3 a.m.)
11 p.m. Sarah Ellison, author of War at the Wall Street Journal: Inside the Struggle to Control and American Business Empire (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $27, 9780547152431/0547152434), discusses Rupert Murdoch's purchase of the Wall Street Journal from the Barnett family. (Re-airs Sunday at 8 p.m. and Monday at 6:30 a.m.)
Sunday, June 27
10 a.m. Financial Times columnist John Authers talks about his book The Fearful Rise of Markets: Global Bubbles, Synchronized Meltdowns, and How to Prevent Them in the Future (FT Press, $24.99, 9780137072996/0137072996). (Re-airs Sunday at 6:30 p.m. and Monday at 2 a.m.)
1:30 p.m. From the Washington Convention Center, Book TV presents live coverage of The Best of the Best University Presses, during which librarians from both the American Association of School Librarians and the Public Library Association present books from university presses they consider the finest works reviewed during the past year.
Movies: Elliot Allagash
Jason Reitman (Up in the Air) and his Right of Way Films production company optioned the movie rights to Simon Rich's novel Elliot Allagash, which was published in May by Random House. The Hollywood Reporter noted that Rich will adapt his novel for the screen.
Books & Authors
Awards: Desmond Elliott Prize; Indigo Teen Read Awards
The Girl with Glass Feet by former bookseller Ali Shaw won the £10,000 (US$14,954) Desmond Elliott Prize for first-time novelists. BBC News reported that chair of the judges Elizabeth Buchan called it "an extraordinary first novel--bold, original, tragic and endlessly surprising." The shortlist also included Before the Earthquake by Maria Allen and Talk of the Town by Jacob Polley.
Indigo Books & Music has launched the Teen Read Awards. Publishers across Canada submitted nominations for 10 categories, and a panel of teen fiction experts chose shortlists of four books in each. Canadian teens can cast votes for their favorites in stores and online from June 23 to September 12; they can also recommend and vote for a fifth nominee in each category until July 25.
Review: The Love Song of A. Jerome Minkoff
The Love Song of A. Jerome Minkoff: And Other Stories by Joseph Epstein (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $24, 9780618721955/0618721959, June 14, 2010)
There are short story writers who dazzle with their virtuosity and others who impress with their willingness to engage intensely, almost obsessively, with a circumscribed world. Joseph Epstein, best known for his formidable talents as an essayist, clearly falls in the latter camp, and he displays his mastery in this collection of 14 wry, wise, often moving short stories exploring slices of Chicago life.
The protagonists of Epstein's stories share a Jewish heritage, but any attachment to their religion is vestigial at best, like a lifelong preference for the White Sox or the Cubs. Most are middle-aged or older, middling academics, professionals or successful self-made businessmen. To a greater or lesser degree they've made peace with their lot and in so doing have achieved some measure of self-knowledge, even a glimmer of wisdom, along the way. It's that level of insight that enables the protagonist of the title story, a family physician who's lost his wife to ALS, to forgo the excitement of life with a wealthy Los Angeles widow for the modest pleasures of his Chicago existence. Or it's what causes the retired professor of "The Philosopher and the Checkout Girl," to experience a "late life crisis," when "a person realizes his regrets greatly outweigh his achievements and there isn't enough time to do much about it."
Epstein's qualities as a revealer of character and storyteller reach their peak in the quartet of tales that concludes the collection. "Beyond the Pale," one of only two not set in Chicago, portrays a young writer seized by an improbable zeal to bring the words of an undeservedly obscure Yiddish writer to an English-speaking audience. In "My Brother Eli," Lou Black, the hardheaded, prosperous owner of a used auto parts business observes with mounting dismay the antics of his Norman Maileresque novelist brother. Another comfortable entrepreneur (plumbing supplies this time) improbably forsakes nearly 40 years of fidelity for a brief sexual encounter with one of his employees in "Bartlestein's First Fling," and contemplates what seem to be the cosmic implications of that choice; and in "Kuperman Awaits Ecstasy," an elderly man's discovery of a love of classical music helps bring peace to a dying woman.
Whether it's Senn High School (an alma mater he shares with a host of literary and entertainment celebrities), the West Rogers Park neighborhood or the Ashkenaz Deli, Epstein is unafraid to recycle the settings of his stories. That he does so in a way that provides a pleasant feeling of recognition rather than the tedium of excessive familiarity is something that makes them even more fresh and resonant. It's easy to picture Saul Bellow or Bernard Malamud, even Isaac Bashevis Singer, cracking an admiring smile in appreciation of Epstein's craft. --Harvey Freedenberg
Shelf Talker: Joseph Epstein's third collection of stories offers consistent pleasure in its exploration of the lives of his fellow Chicagoans.
Top-Selling Titles in Chicagoland Last Week
The following were the bestselling books at independent bookstores in and near Chicago during the week ending Sunday, June 20:
1. The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest by Stieg Larsson
2. Innocent by Scott Turow
3. The Lion by Nelson DeMille
4. The Passage by Justin Cronin
5. The Last Time I Saw You by Elizabeth Berg
1. Sh*t My Dad Says by Justin Halpern
2. The Big Short by Michael Lewis
3. War by Sebastian Junger
4. The Last Stand by Nathaniel Philbrick
5. Women, Food, God by Geneen Roth
1. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
2. The Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson
3. Await Your Reply by Dan Chaon
4. Little Bee by Chris Cleave
5. Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann
1. Half the Sky by Nicholas Kristoff and Sheryl WuDunn
2. Food Rules by Michael Pollan
3. Hawkeytown: Chicago Blackhawks by the Chicago Tribune
4. Shop Class as Soulcraft by Matthew Crawford
5. Summer at Tiffany by Marjorie Hart
1. The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner by Stephenie Meyer
2. The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan
3. Good Night Chicago by Adam Gamble
4. The Sixty-Eight Rooms by Marianne Malone
5. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
Reporting bookstores: Andersons, Naperville and Downers Grove; Read Between the Lynes, Woodstock; the 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.
[Thanks to the booksellers and Carl Lennertz!]