Shelf Awareness for Monday, November 17, 2008
Quotation of the Day
Writing's the Easy Part
"Without strong editors, writers are like cars with accelerators but no brakes. While reading many of [the] long passages [in Steve Toltz's A Fraction of the Whole], I pictured him at his computer (or typewriter), entertaining himself with his own wit and wisdom. That's as it should be. Then an editor should tell him, "Steve, you're a great writer (always start with the praise), but let's do some judicious whittling and make this fabulous book (more praise) even better." It's hard work for both author and editor, but it's only fair to those of us who still invest in books."--Cynthia Crossen in the Wall Street Journal's Book Lover column.
Notes: New, Expanded Stores; Celebrations
Nikki Furrer, who has just opened, Pudd'nhead Books, Old Orchard, Mo., told the Webster-Kirkwood Times that her new shop is "a small, community book store with a very cozy, relaxed atmosphere."
One of the bookshop's features is a library design service. "Pudd'nhead Books can help you create your own personal library," Furrer said. "Home or office, by look or by content, we can find just the books you are looking for. Whether it's a shelf of books about butterflies, or a room of mystery novels, let us do the research for you, for just the cost of the books."
Pudd'nhead Books is located at 37 S. Old Orchard in Webster Groves, Mo. 63119; 314-918-1069; puddnheadbooks.com.
The opening of Pauper's Books & More, Clayton, N.C., fulfills the desire of local residents who "have been wishing and hoping for a bookstore for years," according to the Raleigh News & Observer, which also noted that the used bookshop "is the brainchild of Patrick Kelly and his wife, Mandy. The Garner residents are both UNC graduates and share a love of reading and words."
Pauper's Books & More is located at 11801 Hwy. 70 West, Clayton, N.C. 27520; http://paupersbooks.com.
BookCourt, Brooklyn, N.Y., has completed its expansion (Shelf Awareness, October 9, 2008), which has doubled the shop's space. The Brooklyn Paper reported that even though the city (and the nation) is experiencing "one of the worst retail nosedives in decades . . . you wouldn't notice from the inside the beloved Court Street shop . . . where the literati continue their love affair with the printed word in the store's new wing."
"It gives us much more flexibility and people seem to love it," said co-owner Mary Gannett.
More on the expansion of the main Powell's store in Portland, Ore. (Shelf Awareness, January 23, 2008).
The architect's plan for the 28,000-sq.-ft. building that replaces the building with Powell's main entrance "envisions a giant cube, 15 to 18 feet, suspended over the awning of the new entrance and displaying art on several sides," according to the Associated Press (via the Seattle Post-Intelligencer). The idea is to create "an iconic piece of architecture."
The sour economy may delay the project. Powell's Miriam Sontz told the AP: "We will reconsider the (construction) timing in January and then commit to a date. Economic realities are affecting this building."
Village Books, Bellingham, Wash., is being honored as the 2008 Outstanding Philanthropic Small Business in Washington by the Association of Fundraising Professionals. The store was cited for being "much more than an independent book store. . . . Village Books is a community leader through philanthropy, education and activism. Owned by Chuck and Dee Robinson, the Bellingham book store is part of the fabric of the community, connecting individuals and causes through the store's newsletter, book signings and fundraising events in support of community good works."
Chuck Robinson said that Village Books is "honored and humbled" by the award, which will be presented at a luncheon in Seattle this coming Thursday. The bookstore's most recent fundraising effort--the Chuckanut Radio Hour with Garrison Keillor--raised more than $10,000 for the Pickford Film Center.
Happy 25th anniversary to Katy Budget Books, Katy, Tex., near Houston, owned by Tamra Dore. The Mountains and Plains Independent Booksellers Association newsletter noted that store has had to deal "with the aftereffects of the hurricane, which thankfully did no damage to the store, but several employees had their homes damaged."
Following the call of distress last month from Vertigo Books, College Park, Md., the Washington Post surveyed the pressures faced by the store and what it is trying to do to help customers help the store. That has included a showing of Paperback Dreams at the store. "We thought, we'll give people a heads-up that that's what will happen if you don't come in with more than your good thoughts," co-owner Todd Stewart said.
HarperCollins's project to publish a paperback next year comprised of essays by booksellers about states or parts of states a la Ecco's State by State (Shelf Awareness, October 19, 2008) is being opened up to librarians, too.
Essays should be about 2,500 words. The deadline is February 1. Part of the proceeds benefit the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression. For questions, contact Harper's Carl Lennertz, v-p, independent retailing, at email@example.com.
Speaking of our favorite advocate for booksellers, Lennertz, who edits in his spare time, has just acquired his sixth book. The debut novel is Postcards from a Dead Girl by Kirk Farber, a librarian in Colorado Springs, Colo., and was a semi-finalist in the 2007 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award competition. Lennertz writes that he met Farber's agent, Sandra Bond, through the Denver Publishing Institute. "I read the first 15 pages under the Brooklyn Bridge late one afternoon this summer, waiting to have dinner with Dennis and Karen of Melville House, and I fell in love with it."
Lennertz calls Postcards from a Dead Girl "a surreal love story about this lost soul who is, yup, getting postcards from his dead girlfriend. It reads like a Wes Anderson movie."
Perennial will publish the book in winter 2010. Farber will appear at some fall regional shows next year and library shows as well.
The Harvard Independent
offered a prescription for students under pressure from midterms and
papers, suggesting that "taking a few hours out of your day to explore
literary Cambridge is well worth it. Bookstores are a great place to
Sixteen downtown businesses in Fremont, Ohio, banded together to hold open houses last weekend "to make the best of the holiday season," the News-Messenger reported.
each trying to plan special events," said Tammy Wellman, manager of the
Open Book, adding that she did not believe the slow economy would hurt
business. "I think we're going to be fine. I'm keeping a positive
The "Shopportunities" section of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel praised the architecture books selection at Harry W. Schwartz Bookshops, noting that "at many bookstores, architecture gets integrated with interior design in sections filled with glorified picture books, coffee-table tomes on subjects such as cottages and small spaces."
By contrast, the Schwartz stores "have small but exceptionally well-constructed architecture sections that also explore subcategories such as public art and urban design. This is especially true of the shop at 2559 N. Downer Ave., perhaps because of its proximity to the School of Architecture and Urban Planning at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee."
John Updike's latest novel, The Widows of Eastwick, is getting mixed reception from the town where it is--or is not--set. The Providence Journal reported that "Updike, author of the 1984 The Witches of Eastwick, is back to his fictitious plot in his fictitious Rhode Island town of Eastwick. Its characteristics and name amalgamate East Greenwich and Wickford." Updike, denying any connection, writes that "the merchants of Eastwick yearned to make it a tourist trap, and several shops along Dock Street stocked aromatic candles."
Jennifer Wheeler of the Grateful Heart, a New Age bookshop in Wickford, admits to selling aromatic candles but enjoyed the novel: "It's fun to read a book with the perspective that it's from this area." Added her mother and co-owner, Katherine Wheeler: "Anything that brings recognition and attention to our village is welcome. We're business people."
Melissa Fischer, owner of the Book Garden used bookshop, is reading the Updike novel now, but has been surprised by the lack of local interest: "I thought people would be curious to see what has happened with the three witches and the village. But nobody's that enthusiastic."
The slowing economy, retirement planning and thou. The Wall Street Journal featured five books on retirement, advising that, "At times, media coverage of the economic crisis can be too much of a good thing: too much detail, too many experts. Taking a step back can help bring some perspective to the story."
Kate Blum has joined Harper as associate director of publicity. She formerly worked in publicity at Random House for eight years.
September Bookstore Sales Fall 4.5%
During September, bookstore sales slipped again after having risen in August, falling 4.5% to $1.494 billion compared to September 2007, according to preliminary estimates from the Census Bureau. For the year to date, bookstore sales have risen 1.8% to $12.76 billion.
By comparison, total retail sales in September dropped 0.2% to $320.1 billion compared to the same period a year ago. For the year to date, total retail sales were up 2.3% to $3,036 billion.
Note: under Census Bureau definitions, bookstore sales are of new books and do not include "electronic home shopping, mail-order, or direct sale" or used book sales.
Media and Movies
Media Heat: Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell's Story of Success
This morning on Good Morning America: Guy Fieri, author of Diners, Drive-ins and Dives: An All-American Road Trip . . . with Recipes! (Morrow, $19.95, 9780061724886/0061724882).
This morning on the Today Show: Thomas M. Kostigen, author of You Are Here: Exposing the Vital Link Between What We Do and What That Does to Our Planet (HarperOne, $25.95, 9780061580369/0061580368).
Today on Fox's Morning Show with Mike & Juliet: Tanya Remer Altmann, M.D., author of Mommy Calls: Dr. Tanya Answers Parents' Top 101 Questions About Babies and Toddlers (American Academy of Pediatrics, distributed by IPG, $12.95, 9781581102956/158110295X).
Today on the Diane Rehm Show: Vicki Myron, author of Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World (Grand Central, $19.99, 9780446407410/0446407410).
Today on Hannity & Colmes: Mike Huckabee, author of Do the Right Thing: Inside the Movement That's Bringing Common Sense Back to America (Sentinel, $25.95, 9781595230546/1595230548). The former Governor is on the View tomorrow.
Tonight on the Colbert Report: Malcolm Gladwell, author of Outliers: The Story of Success (Little, Brown, $27.99, 9780316017923/0316017922). Gladwell also appears tomorrow on All Things Considered.
Also on Colbert: Tom Brokaw, author of Boom!: Talking About the Sixties: What Happened, How It Shaped Today, Lessons for Tomorrow (Random House, $18, 9780812975116/0812975111).
Tomorrow morning on Good Morning America:
- John Quinones, author of Heroes Among Us: Ordinary People, Extraordinary Choices (Harper, $24.95, 9780061733604/0061733601).
- Valerie Bertinelli, author of Losing It--And Gaining My Life Back One Pound at a Time (Free Press, $15, 9781416569688/1416569685).
- David Foster, author of Hitman: Forty Years Making Music, Topping the Charts, and Winning Grammys (Pocket, $26, 9781439103067/1439103062).
Tomorrow morning on the Today Show: American Idol judge Randy Jackson, author of Body with Soul: Slash Sugar, Cut Cholesterol, and Get a Jump on Your Best Health Ever (Hudson Street Press, $24.95, 9781594630507/159463050X). He will also appear today on Dateline NBC.
Tomorrow on Imus in the Morning: Mary Higgins Clark and Carol Higgins Clark, authors of Dashing Through the Snow (Simon & Schuster, $23, 9781439129173/1439129177).
Tomorrow morning on Fox & Friends: Cathleen Lewis, author of Rex: A Mother, Her Autistic Child, and the Music that Transformed Their Lives (Thomas Nelson, $24.99, 9781595551504/1595551506).
Tomorrow on the Diane Rehm Show: Christopher Plummer, author of In Spite of Myself (Knopf, $29.95, 9780679421627/0679421629).
Tomorrow on the View: Jessica Lange, some of whose photographs are collected in 50 Photographs (powerHouse, $60, 9781576874530/1576874532).
Tomorrow on Oprah: Jill Price, author of The Woman Who Can't Forget: The Extraordinary Story of Living with the Most Remarkable Memory Known to Science (Free Press, $26, 9781416561767/1416561765).
Tomorrow night on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart: Denis Leary, author of Why We Suck: A Feel Good Guide to Staying Fat, Loud, Lazy and Stupid (Viking, $26.95, 9780670031603/0670031607).
Tomorrow night on the Colbert Report: Paul Simon, author of Lyrics 1964-2008 (Simon & Schuster, $35, 9781416586920/141658692X).
Books & Authors
IndieBound: Other Indie Favorites
From last week's Indie bestseller lists, available at IndieBound.org, here are the recommended titles, which are also Indie Next picks:
Between Here and April by Deborah Copaken Kogan (Algonquin, $23.95, 9781565125629/1565125622). "I loved Between Here and April, which on so many levels raises issues--memory, facing the past and admitting its impact on the present, motherly love, and fidelity--all in a novel that has a suspenseful race to its conclusion. Readers will be satisfyingly rewarded."--Cheryl McKeon, Third Place Books, Lake Forest Park, Wash.
Mona Lisa in Camelot by Margaret Leslie Davis (Da Capo, $24.95, 9780738211039/0738211036). "Revisit the Kennedy White House and get the scoop--including personalities and politics--on how the Mona Lisa paid her unprecedented 1963 call on the U.S."--Candace Purdom, Anderson's Bookshop, Naperville, Ill.
The Edge of Never by William Kerig (Stone Creek, $15.95, 9780965633840/0965633845). "The saga of world-famous skier Trevor Peterson's death in Chamonix in 1996 and the attempt of his 15-year-old son Kye to conquer the same deadly couloir that killed his father, The Edge of Never provides an intriguing look at the attraction of extreme sports for those highly adrenalized and hugely talented skiers who make it their lives."--Betsy Burton, the King's English, Salt Lake City, Utah
For Ages 4 to 8
Toy Dance Party by Emily Jenkins (Schwartz & Wade, $16.99, 9780375839351/0375839356). "This has all the charm and delight of a really good picture book, with many more pages to love. Jenkins' characters are endearing, their voices distinct and sincere. Everything about this book is accessible, from the art, to the design, to the characters, to the writing."--Sarah Todd, Children's Book World, Haverford, Pa.
[Many thanks to IndieBound and the ABA!]
Mandahla: More Gift Books
Italianissimo by Louise Fili and Lise Apatoff (Little Bookroom/New York Review Books, $18.95, 9781892145543/1892145545, September 2008); Venice Is a Fish: A Sensual Guide by Tiziano Scarpa (Gotham Books, $17.50, 9781592404070/1592404073, August 2008)
In spite of the still relatively weak dollar, everyone seems to be spending time in Italy this year, and why not? So much better to pay top dollar in Firenze for fabulous food rather than top dollar here for anything. If you have gone or want to go, these two little books are the perfect adjunct to more prosaic guidebooks. Italianissimo is "The Quintessential Guide to What Italians Do Best," and if what Italians do best sometimes makes you crazy (for example, waiting in line or fare la coda, but then the Italian line is a product of a natural desire to be first and a curiosity about other people's business), it is still essentially Italian, which is why we love Italy. Of course, we love Italy for things that make us swoon, too, like ceramics, il caffè, gelato: "Who could have imagined that mixing the snows of Mount Etna with sugar and the sublime local flavors--lemons, mandarini, blood oranges, citron, almonds . . . as well as the incomparable essences of jasmine and roses--would deliver such enchantment?"
Enchantment is certainly delivered by Tiziano Scarpa in Venice Is a Fish. He begins with describing what happens to your body in Venice, starting at the feet, with absolutely the best advice for visiting this city: "Where are you going? Throw away your map! Why do you so desperately need to know where you are right now? Why fight the labyrinth? Follow it for once. Don't worry, let the street decide your journey for you . . . lose your bearings. Just drift." He doesn't name shops or cafes or hotels, advising you to find these on your own, a magical treasure hunt. In Venice, it works like a charm.
Pithy Seedy Pulpy Juicy: Eleven Rhymes with Orange Books in One by Hilary Price (ECW Press, distributed by IPG, $16.95, 9781550227567/1550227564, December 2007)
This book by one of the funniest cartoonists in the newspapers has a publication date of last year, but because of printing and shipping issues, missed the gift-giving season and became in effect a 2008 book. Since it squeaks in under the publication date bar, I can extol its pleasures for this year. If you are unfamiliar with Rhymes with Orange, order this book post haste. It will make you smile and laugh and start copying panels for your corkboard. In "The Carrot," a woman throws a stick for her dog, saying, "Fetch the ball." Then, "How come you don't fetch the ball?" The answer: "How come you don't throw a squirrel?" Two bottles, in "Medicine Labels: An Overview": Yesterday, Professor Figbee's Snake Oil: "Cures headaches, nausea, dizziness, constipation & sleeplessness." Today, Figbinex tablets: "Side effects may include headaches, nausea, dizziness, constipation & sleeplessness." Many of her cartoons feature puns, not to mention allusions to other strips (a little pink sock sticks to the shoulder of a familiar alien in "Static Klingon"), and some strike an odd nerve. When she pictured King Kong inhaling from a Goodyear blimp, then sounding like Mickey Mouse, the Compressed Gas Institute sent her a stern letter about the dangers of promoting helium inhalation. Hilary Price inhalation is a lot more fun.
The Travel Book Mini (Lonely Planet, $24.99, 9781741040050/1741040051, September 2008); Lonely Planet's Best in Travel 2009 (Lonely Planet, $22.99 paperback, 9781741792430/1741792436, October 2008)
At 888 pages and 3.8 pounds, The Travel Book Mini (a compact version of a previous coffee table edition) is quite a bargain at $24.99. Touted as a bedside book, it sinks into the covers and stomach too far to turn the pages, so be warned. It covers every country in the world (231) as well as Scotland, Macau, Greenland and other entities. The format is egalitarian, and the editors have tried to evoke spirit of place--impressions rather than statistics. Each country is allotted two pages of photographs, a very short introduction and a few high points: best time to visit, essential experiences, trademarks (Costa Rica's dead-keen soccer fans, dripping rain forests and coffee), surprises (there are no permanent water features on Malta), plus what to read and listen to, what movie to watch, what to eat and drink. The writers avoid political or cautionary statements, wanting to present the best of a country. After you've finished highlighting places in this dream book, turn to Best in Travel 2009 for more practical advice. Somalia and Sudan may have looked tempting, but Travel 2009 is realistic: "Unless you're a reckless, devil-may-care sort of traveller with a particular penchant for armed conflict. . . " The book has travel trends, top 10 countries ("Bangladesh is a revelation that actually leaves India looking a little worse for wear."), top 10 travel lists (happiest places or most extreme ancient sites or best places to have a midlife crisis) and so many more lists that you are almost tempted to stay home in exhaustion. Almost. With these guides, you'll be packing soon.--Marilyn Dahl