Shelf Awareness for Thursday, September 29, 2011
The Widget for Readers
Many thanks to all the booksellers and bloggers who've embedded our spiffy book giveaway button. This week our signed, first edition giveaway is A Secret Kept by Tatiana De Rosnay, author of Sarah's Key, which was made into a movie that was released this summer.
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Quotation of the Day
Anthony Bourdain's Bookish Life
"I come from a house filled with books. I had very good English teachers in high school. I was something of a reading prodigy when I was a little kid. When I was in kindergarten, I stole my parents' copy of Why Johnny Can't Read. It angered me that they would have such a book, and I read the whole thing. I was reading way ahead of my grade level for all of grammar school and beyond. I read very quickly. I read a lot. I read widely. It is a pleasure for me, a passion."
On Fire: Bezos Touts 'Service' of Amazon Tablet
Given all the hype of the past few weeks, we're tempted to write, yes, Amazon introduced its new tablet yesterday--and leave it at that.
Here are the key points from the announcement made in New York City by CEO Jeff Bezos:
- The new Fire retails for $199, less than half the lowest price of the iPad ($499) and less than the Nook Color ($249). The Fire weighs 14.6 ounces and its screen is 7 inches.
- The Fire begins shipping November 15.
- The Fire has Wi-Fi, which links to its 18 million e-books, songs, movies, TV shows as well as newspapers and magazines.
- Fire doesn't have as many features as the iPad, lacking a camera, microphone and cell phone network connection. It has nowhere near as many apps as the Apple. (PC Magazine has a chart comparing the features of the Fire, Nook Color and iPad.)
- The X-Ray feature gives readers extra information about the e-books they're reading, culled in part from dictionaries, Wikipedia and Shelfari.
- The basic Kindle is now $79. The new Kindle Touch is $99, and the Kindle Touch 3G is $189.
- The Fire has a cloud storage system; the Silk mobile browser will record every Web move and transaction made by Fire owners.
More on the story:
Bezos said, "I think of [the Fire] as a service. Part of the Kindle Fire is of course the hardware, but really, it's the software, the content, it's the seamless integration of those things." (Brad Stone has a long, insightful profile of the Amazon founder in Business Week.)
The New York Times put Amazon's approach a different way, writing, "Analysts say that the new family of devices will corral users into a tightly walled garden around Amazon's content and devices and may secure a new dominance for Amazon as an online retailer and technology company. Music is streamed using Amazon's Cloud Player, while movies and television shows are viewed through Amazon Instant Player. E-books rely on the Kindle app. Owners will have access only to Android apps approved by Amazon and distributed through its Amazon Android Store. Even the Fire's software, based on a Google Android framework, is disguised under a custom layer built by Amazon."
On his blog, Chris Espinosa outlined some privacy issues raised by the Silk browser: "Amazon will capture and control every Web transaction performed by Fire users. Every page they see, every link they follow, every click they make, every ad they see is going to be intermediated by one of the largest server farms on the planet. People who cringe at the privacy and data-mining implications of the Facebook Timeline ought to be just floored by the magnitude of Amazon's opportunity here. Amazon now has what every storefront lusts for: the knowledge of what other stores your customers are shopping in and what prices they're being offered there. What's more, Amazon is getting this not by expensive, proactive scraping the Web, like Google has to do; they're getting it passively by offering a simple caching service, and letting Fire users do the hard work of crawling the Web. In essence the Fire user base is Amazon's Mechanical Turk, scraping the Web for free and providing Amazon with the most valuable cache of user behavior in existence."
And in the snark department, sales rep George Carroll posted: "Do you think Amazon named its tablet as the answer to 'How hot does it get in the Allentown warehouse in the summer?' "
Here Comes Help: Moore Signs at St. Mark'sMichael Moore, who is in New York City this week for the ongoing Occupy Wall Street demonstrations, learned about St. Mark's Bookshop's difficulties and its public effort to have its rent lowered, which we wrote about on Tuesday. He "reached out" to the store, which hastily scheduled a signing last night for Moore's new book, Here Comes Trouble, the Gothamist reported.
Mapping London's Indies
Several independent booksellers in London have pooled their resources to publish a map of the city's bookshops. The Bookseller reported that the free London Bookshop Map "features 87 indies from across the city including ones selling new, antiquarian, specialist and second-hand titles." The text artwork was created by David Batchelor. Plans call for the map to be updated every six months and rereleased with a new text artwork.
Image of the Day: Mobile Cake
When Karen Spears Zacharias, author of Will Jesus Buy Me a Double-Wide?: ('Cause I Need More Room for My Plasma TV) (Zondervan), traveled to Page & Palette, Fairhope, Ala., to speak at an event for at-risk girls, bookstore owner Karin Wilson greeted her with an unusual treat: this double-wide cake. Zacharias commented that it was "delicious enough to give the Cake Boss some fierce competition."
Happy Birthday, Bookworm!
Congratulations to Judy and Jerry Heaton, owners of the Bookworm, the bookstore and gift shop in East Aurora, N.Y., which is celebrating its 25th birthday this Saturday. In-store activities begin with lunch at noon, followed by a magic show, a gift basket raffle and cake.
Book Trailer of the Day: The Affair
The Affair: A Reacher Novel by Lee Child (Delacorte).
Media and Movies
Media Heat: Worm: The First Digital World War
Tomorrow morning on Fox & Friends: Mark Bowden, author of Worm: The First Digital World War (Atlantic Monthly Press, $25, 9780802119834).
Tomorrow night on HBO's Real Time with Bill Maher: Dana Priest, co-author of Top Secret America: The Rise of the New American Security State (Little, Brown, $27.99, 9780316182218).
Book Delicacies from the Chew Co-Hosts
The Chew, a cooking show replacing ABC's soap opera staple All My Children, "launched to solid numbers" on Monday, deadline.com said. Five of the show's hosts are or will soon be authors. Chef Mario Batali's Molto Batali (Ecco, $29.99, 9780062095565) will be released in October. Restaurateur Michael Symon's Live to Cook (Clarkson Potter, $35, 9780307453655), entertainer Clinton Kelly's Oh No She Didn't (Gallery, $25.99, 9781439163160) and Daphne Oz's Dorm Room Diet (Newmarket, $16.95, 9781557049155) are already available. Co-host and Top Chef All Star Carla Hall has signed a deal for two books with Free Press. The Chew airs every weekday at 1 p.m. Eastern.
Movie Trailer: Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
The first trailer for Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, adapted from Jonathan Safran Foer's 2005 novel about a boy whose father is killed on 9/11, is out. The movie, directed by Stephen Daldry and starring Tom Hanks, Sandra Bullock, James Gandolfini and Viola Davis, hits theaters in limited release on Christmas Day.
This Weekend on Book TV: Haiti After the Earthquake
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, October 1
10 a.m. Brooke Hauser, author of The New Kids: Big Dreams and Brave Journeys at a High School for Immigrant Teens (Free Press, $26, 9781439163283), documents a year at the International High School in New York City. (Re-airs Sunday at 4 p.m.)
11 a.m. John Yoo, author of Confronting Terror: 9/11 and the Future of American National Security (Encounter Books, $23.95, 9781594035623), discusses his book with former ACLU president Nadine Strossen, a contributor. (Re-airs Sunday at 3 p.m., Monday at 4 a.m., Saturday, October 8, at 7 p.m. and Sunday, October 9, at 6 a.m.)
3 p.m. Charles Mann, author of 1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created (Knopf, $30.50, 9780307265722), revisits the Americas two years after Columbus's arrival. (Re-airs Sunday at 6 a.m. and 10 p.m.)
7 p.m. Glenn Carle, author of The Interrogator: An Education (Nation Books, $26.99, 9781568586731), talks about his experiences as an interrogator at a CIA "black site" in 2002. (Re-airs Sunday at 1 a.m.)
9 p.m. Paul Farmer, author of Haiti After the Earthquake (PublicAffairs, $27.99, 9781586489731), chronicles the devastation from the 2010 earthquake and takes a critical look at the aid agencies which have been working there since. (Re-airs Sunday at 3 a.m. and 10 a.m.)
10 p.m. After Words. Anne Gearan interviews Bruce Bueno de Mesquita and Alastair Smith, authors of The Dictator's Handbook: Why Bad Behavior Is Almost Always Good Politics (PublicAffairs, $27.99, 9781610390446). (Re-airs Sunday at 6 p.m. and 9 p.m., Monday at 3 a.m. and Sunday, October 9, at 12 p.m.)
Sunday, October 2
9 a.m. Ellen Schultz discusses her book Retirement Heist: How Companies Plunder and Profit from the Nest Eggs of American Workers (Portfolio, $26.95, 9781591843337). (Re-airs Sunday at 7 p.m. and Monday at 6:30 a.m.)
12 p.m. In Depth. Michael Moore, whose most recent book is Here Comes Trouble: Stories From My Life (Grand Central, $26.99, 9780446532242), joins Book TV for a live interview. Viewers can participate in the discussion by calling in during the program or submitting questions to email@example.com or via Twitter (@BookTV). (Re-airs Monday at 12 a.m. and Saturday, October 8, at 9 a.m.)
Books & Authors
Attainment: New Titles Out Next Week
Selected new titles appearing next Monday and Tuesday, October 3 and 4:
Boomerang: Travels in the New Third World by Michael Lewis (Norton, $25.95, 9780393081817) explores the worldwide debt bubble and the aftermath of its popping in 2008.
Cain by Jose Saramago, translated by Margaret Jull Costa (Houghton Mifflin, $24, 9780547419893) follows the condemned wanderer Cain as he experiences Old Testament events. Saramago is a Nobel Prize winner. (See review below.)
The Dovekeepers: A Novel by Alice Hoffman (Scribner, $27.99, 9781451617474) is historical fiction set during the Roman siege of the Judean fortress on Masada.
Falling Together: A Novel by Marisa de los Santos (Morrow, $25.99, 9780061670879) brings together a trio of scattered college friends at a class reunion.
Seriously...I'm Kidding by Ellen DeGeneres (Grand Central, $26.99, 9780446585026) is the memoir of the actress, stand-up comic and TV host.
War of the Worldviews: Science vs. Spirituality by Deepak Chopra and Leonard Mlodinow (Harmony, $26, 9780307886880) is a philosophical debate between a physicist and a spiritualist.
The 3rd Alternative: Solving Life's Most Difficult Problems by Stephen R. Covey (Free Press, $28, 9781451626261) outlines new methods of conflict resolution.
The Forgotten Waltz by Anne Enright (Norton, $25.95, 9780393072556) is a domestic drama set during a snowstorm in Dublin.
Now in paperback:
Our Bodies, Ourselves by Boston Women's Health Book Collective and Judy Norsigian (Touchstone, $26, 9781439190661), an updated version.
Cain by Jose Saramago , trans. by Margaret Jull Costa (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $24 hardcover, 9780547419893, October 6, 2011)
"The history of mankind is the history of our misunderstandings with god, for he doesn't understand us, and we don't understand him." And that's putting it mildly, because Portuguese Nobel laureate José Saramago (1922-2010) goes on to hold the lord accountable for out-and-out wickedness and pacts with the devil. Cain provides Saramago with his final stage for haranguing the human race for all its selfish cruelty. When he's not harrowing you with the grim statistics of the lord's vengeance, he's entertaining you with his very dry wit, taking some delightful comic jabs at biblical tradition in his smart, ironic retelling of Genesis.
Saramago's style is candid and frequently modern. With Abel taking care of the livestock and Cain working in the fields, "everyone agreed that it was a family with a future." The famous stories are slightly rewired. Abel turns out to be a conceited braggart. No surprise that his brother Cain finally murders him. Cain doesn't so much resemble Adam as he does the angel with the flaming sword. When Abraham prepares to slit the throat of his only son, it isn't an angel who tells him to stop, it's Cain--the angel is late arriving. And Saramago refuses to let the lord off the hook for the innocent children burned to death in Sodom and Gomorrah.
But Saramago has more than entertainment on his mind. He also has an agenda, as defiantly iconoclastic as anything in his other novels, to zero in on the unexplored bloodthirsty wickedness of the god of Genesis. Saramago turns Cain, the first murderer, into a measuring stick for the rest of the savagery and slaughter in the Old Testament. Fleeing Eden after his crime, he hurtles through biblical time witnessing the never-ending Grand Guignol of human atrocities. Though Cain has murdered his brother, his act pales in comparison to those of the god of Moses, who when confronted by the Israelites' worship of a golden calf, commands his faithful to slaughter 3,000 brothers and neighbors out of sheer raging jealousy.
Saramago's wisdom can be gentle and ironic, a droll acceptance of human nature as it is, and like a crotchety old man, he can scold, "the lord did a very bad job of bringing these people up." The legendary Lilith, reigning from her palace, reputedly a witch who can drive men crazy with her spells, is the one consistently pleasant, affectionate character on Cain's travels through time, and Cain's years as her paramour are his happiest.
He's there for the tower of Babel. He's there for the walls of Jericho. Cain acquires a "somber pessimism... during his successive journeys into the horrors of past and future." That's the only motive Saramago provides for the novel's extremely dark ending, in which Cain begins reducing the human population aboard the ark, one by one, hurling Noah's sons and their wives into the sea. Especially after getting all the women pregnant, this leaves Cain finally quite an unsympathetic central character. He and god go on arguing and bickering as the story draws to a close. It's easy to imagine Saramago now giving the lord a good piece of his mind in person. --Nick DiMartino
Shelf Talker: A retelling of Genesis with Cain as the central character, travelling through time to visit some of the lord's great mass atrocities in biblical history.
NAIBA Meets in Atlantic City
Faithful correspondent Chris Kerr of Parson Weems went to the New Atlantic Independent Booksellers Association fall conference in Atlantic City, N.J., last week and, with the help of partners Eileen Bertelli and Linda Cannon, sends this report:
Intrepid booksellers and others braved the construction site of the new Golden Nugget Monday evening, September 19, through Wednesday afternoon, September 21, for the New Atlantic Independent Booksellers Association fall conference.
On the site of the little-lamented former Trump Marina, almost 200 booksellers grabbed room rates a fraction of the adjacent Borgata to see friends, join workshops and visit with current authors and future bestsellers.
A Preview Dinner featured local "comfort food" and authors Hillary Jordan, Jack Gantos, Doron Weber and Heather Poole, followed by the annual Quiz Bowl, a NAIBA favorite. Among fun people at the show were Lanny Parks and her husband, state judge Floyd Parks, of the Compleat Bookseller, Chestertown, Md. The judge's first comment: "When does the Quiz Bowl start?"
Christine Onorati, owner of Brooklyn's WORD, commented, "I liked the new format of the show floor; it was a bit more informal. It's always fun seeing our reps in that setting. I also liked the split of having all the book info on day one and the business info on day two. I think we're on the road to invigorating the organization and doing some really interesting things."
In a change applauded by most, this year's show devoted an entire day--Tuesday--exclusively to books, with a program of events called Bookcentric, which included pick of the lists programs, an afternoon of publisher exhibits and an exhibit area cocktail party before the Awards Banquet.
Bookcentric Tuesday began with an Author Breakfast with Colson Whitehead, Kenneth Oppel and Peter Brown. Arielle Eckstut and David Henry Sterry, authors of The Essential Guide to Getting Published, were morning keynote speakers. They've conducted their popular Pitchapaloozas across the country and had lots of ideas to share. Following that, children's reps offered their Pick of the Lists. An Editor Buzz for adult books was led by Marysue Rucci of Penguin, Kate Miciak of Random House, Jamie Levine of Hachette and Carl Lennertz, lately of HarperCollins. During lunch, publishers sales reps pitched their key adult books. The exhibit floor also featured Speed Dating with Children's Authors & Illustrators during the afternoon.
NAIBA executive director Eileen Dengler noted that more booksellers attended meal functions this year, which she attributed to increased publisher sponsorship of these events.
Jane Bell of B Is for Books, Orchard Park, N.Y., noted, "I love coming here to see the kid's books and other booksellers."
P.K. Sindwani, owner of Towne Book Center, Collegeville, Pa., said, "Our new store location allows for expansion in some categories; at the show, it is always good to see the actual books."
During the evening's Book of the Year presentations, Middle Reader winner Laurie Halse Anderson, author of Forge, thrilled the crowd with an account of her breathless dash from the tarmac after spending a day waiting for weather-delayed flights. We caught up with her afterward chatting with her daughter Stephanie Anderson, manager of WORD, Brooklyn, N.Y.
Peter Brown was hilarious while accepting the Picture Book Award for his Children Make Terrible Pets, and Stephen Alcorn, accepting the Carla Cohen Free Speech Award for Odetta, was especially moving when talking about working with this iconic folk singer.
The evening's longest standing ovation was reserved for longtime PGW rep Bill Getz, winner of this year's Helmuth Sales Rep of the Year Award.
Ellen Mager, owner, Booktenders' Secret Garden Children's Bookstore & Gallery, Doylestown, Pa., won the first Joe Drabyak Handseller of the Year award. The award is named for the beloved Chester County Books and Music bookseller and former NAIBA president who died last year.
At the Author Reception, the last event of the day, I was particularly thrilled to meet Suzzy Roche of the famous three-sister band the Roches, whose novel Wayward Saints pubs in January. I also enjoyed chatting with Ellis Avery, author of The Last Nude, a novel framed by art deco painter Tamara de Lempicka, also pubbing in January.
Wednesday's program was themed Bizcentric, with numerous sessions focused on the business of bookstores, including a session on hosting successful YA events, led by Suzanna Hermans of Oblong Books, Rhinebeck, N.Y.; efficiency translated for booksellers, led by WORD's Stephanie Anderson; and a publicity workshop led by Margot Sage-El, Watchung Booksellers, Montclair, N.J.
After the sessions, Tom and Tori Williams, Mendham Books, N.J., commented, "We are totally dependent upon our author events. We come to this show looking for ideas on how to promote and authors we can recruit for appearances." And Kate Reynolds of the Colgate University Bookstore, Hamilton, N.Y., said, "I'm spreading the word about event opportunities at the store and university.
Bill Skees, owner of the new Well Read Books, Hawthorne, N.J., said he was "still feeling my way around. This show has been helpful."
Susan MacAnalley, manager of BrowseAbout Books, Rehoboth Beach, Del., summed it up nicely when she said, "We started coming back to the show a couple years ago; it has gotten so much better."