Shelf Awareness for Monday, January 11, 2010

Abrams Press: In Search of the Color Purple: The Story of an American Masterpiece by Salamishah Tillet

Shadow Mountain: Ming's Christmas Wishes by Susan L Gong, illustrated by Masahiro Tateishi

Tor Books: Winter's Orbit by Everina Maxwell

Penguin Random House Congratulates Jacqueline Woodson, Winner of a 2020 MacArthur Genius Grant

Amulet Books: Heiress Apparently (Daughters of the Dynasty) by Diana Ma

Minotaur Books: The Lost Village by Camilla Sten, translated by Alexandra Fleming


Notes: BAM Sales Bump; Quake Rocks Stores

Happy palindromic 01/11/10!


Sales at Book-A-Million during the nine weeks ending January 2 fell 4.5%, to $122.1 million, while in the same period, sales at BAM stores open at least a year fell 6.2%.

In a statement, BAM chairman, president and CEO said: "Given the challenging comparison to last year's phenomenal success of Stephenie Meyer's Twilight series, we were pleased with our execution during the holiday season. As was the case last year, customers shopped late in the season and proved to be value conscious responding well to our marketing efforts, bargain book department and in-store promotions."


The Book Patrol blog at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer posted photos of damage to Eureka Books and Bookleggers bookstore from Saturday's 6.5 magnitude earthquake in Northern Californa.


The Hub City Writers Project, Spartanburg, S.C., has begun a fundraising campaign to open a bookstore this spring on the ground floor of the Masonic Temple building in downtown Spartanburg, the group said.

The funds will be used to renovate the 3,000-sq.-ft. space and install fixtures. The store plans to stock "hundreds of titles, including bestsellers, regional books, university press books, children's books, and used books."

Proceeds from store sales will be used to fund "literary programming, Hub City Press publishing operations, college scholarships for local creative writers, and other charitable activities." Staff will be a mix of paid and volunteer people. The Press has published more than 40 books during the past 15 years. The Hub City Writers Project also hosts a writers conference, sponsors the South Carolina First Novel Contest, provides scholarships to creative writers and holds workshops and readings.

Project executive director Betsy Teter said: "This landmark bookstore will be on the leading edge of a new business model emerging in the bookselling industry--non-profit bookstores financially supported by communities of book-lovers and civically-engaged residents."


The Daily of the University of Washington covered the 110th birthday (and birthday party yesterday) of the University Book Store, with eight stores in and around Seattle, which is as much a general bookstore as college store.

"We're one of the few stores nationally that was started and continues to be run by students for its entirety," CEO Bryan Pearce noted.


Book trailer of the day (revisited since the link on Friday didn't work): The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun by Gretchen Rubin (Harper).


Our friends at have begun reviewing books, about five a week. Check out the first reviews here.


Don't do it yourself just yet.

Oxmoor House recalled 951,000 home improvement books "because of errors that could lead do-it-yourselfers to make risky mistakes while installing or repairing their electrical wiring. The errors in technical diagrams and wiring instructions could cause people to be shocked or create a fire hazard," according to the Associated Press  (via ABC News). The Consumer Product Safety Commission said no incidents have been reported. The titles being recalled are:

  • AmeriSpec Home Repair Handbook
  • Lowe's Complete Home Improvement and Repair
  • Lowe's Complete Home Wiring
  • Sunset Basic Home Repairs
  • Sunset Complete Home Wiring
  • Sunset Complete Patio Book
  • Sunset Home Repair Handbook
  • Sunset Water Gardens
  • Sunset You Can Build--Wiring

The AP also noted that bookshops and home improvement stores "sold the recalled books from January 1975 through December 2009."


A pair of indie bookstores in Minnesota--the Bookcase, Wayzata, and Uncle Hugo's & Uncle Edgar's, Minneapolis--are "fighting to stay alive" in challenging times, KARE-TV reported.

"Even with our small size, we still have about 15,000 different books on the shelf, that's a lot of books," said Charlie Leonard, owner of the Bookcase. "We know our customers, we know what they like and know what they want to read."

Don Blyly, owner of Uncle Hugo's & Uncle Edgar's, said, "We're hanging in there, it's tough, but hanging in there.... It's important for bookstores to figure out how to adapt to times, be relevant, make customers understand that you need us to stick around."


The Kindle e-reader isn't having much of an impact on India yet, and analysts aren’t optimistic about its short-term prospects. PC World reported that "estimates of the number of these devices sold in India since October, when Amazon started shipping the device to the country, range from a few hundred to about 1,000 units."

Arpan Gupta, an analyst for IDC India, said there "isn't as yet a market in India for a specialized reading device at the price of a Kindle.... For a market where PC penetration is still low, users would rather pay some more and buy a laptop, which has a lot more features than a specialized e-reader." Gupta also observed that "Indians are still used to reading physical books and newspapers, rather than electronic editions."


Obituary note: Vermont folk artist Stephen Huneck, whose popular books about his Labrador Retrievers included Sally Goes to the Beach, Sally Goes to the Farm and Sally Gets a Job, died last Thursday. He was 60. His wife said that Huneck, who commited suicide, "was despondent after being forced to lay off employees at his Dog Mountain studio and dog chapel," the Associated Press reported (via the Times Argus).


Friends and family of Joel C. Turner, longtime bookseller and co-owner of Under Cover Books, who died last month (Shelf Awareness, December 10, 2009), are meeting this coming Wednesday, January 13, 6-8 p.m., at the Old Town Bar & Restaurant, second floor, 45 E. 18th St. in New York City. All are invited to come and share recollections and stories.

University of California Press: The Mwindo Epic from the Banyanga (1st ed.) edited by Daniel Biebuyck and Kahombo C Mateene

Post-Holiday Hum: Anniversary Festivities and Frankie Pickle

We checked in with several stores we profiled during the holiday season to find out how they fared and hear about some of the things they have in store for the coming year.

Although sales at the Bookstore nn Glen Ellyn, Ill., were down slightly for December, "the mood was really good and positive," reported bookseller Margie White. "We feel we held our own for the holiday season." Top sellers were Fancy Nancy: Splendiferous Christmas by Jane O'Connor and Robin Preiss Glasser and the paperback edition of Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann.

The store is off to an auspicious start this year, with the first few weeks busier than usual. January has been dubbed "Alice in Wonderland Month": the store is hosting a children's party on the 24th and holding a signing four days later with Glen Ellyn resident Melanie Benjamin, author of the novel Alice I Have Been, about Lewis Carroll's real-life muse for the classic tale's title character.

This is a banner year for the Bookstore: it is celebrating its 50th anniversary. Festivities will culminate during a village-wide book festival on June 19 with a 50-hour reading marathon for charity.


Sales at Aaron's Books in Lititz, Pa., were up 10% this holiday season, led by the historical title Lititz by Kathy Blankenbiller. A favorite gift for children was Frankie Pickle and the Closet of Doom by Eric Wight, who will be visiting with young readers for the store's first author event in conjunction with a local school.

Special orders helped boost sales--as well as people who wanted to shop local. "We had someone at least once a day say that they were purposefully shopping with us because they wanted to support the local independent businesses for the holidays," said store owner Sam Droke-Dickinson.

In December, Droke-Dickinson announced on Twitter that there were four contenders in a tight race to be the store's bestselling scribe of 2009: Lorna Barrett, author of the Booktown Mystery series, Susan Gregg Gilmore (Looking for Salvation at the Dairy Queen), A.S. King (The Dust of 100 Dogs) and Maryann McFadden (The Richest Season and So Happy Together). Congratulations to the victor, A.S. King.

January is traditionally one of the slowest months at Aaron's Books, and the down time is being used to shift around inventory for the store's post-renovation grand reopening on January 30. Said Droke-Dickinson, "We're looking forward to a lot of things in 2010, especially concentrating on being the best store we can be for every customer that walks in the door."--Shannon McKenna Schmidt


Experiment: Speaking of Race: Constructive Conversations about an Explosive Topic by Patricia Roberts-Miller

Image of the Day: David N. and Gary V.

Last Thursday, at the winter luncheon of the Publishers and Advertising and Marketing Association: PAMA president David Nudo (l.) with speaker Gary Vaynerchuk, wine entrepreneur and author of Crush It, as Vaynerchuk picks a name for a drawing. Grand prize: a copy of the book and a $100 wine credit.



KidsBuzz for the Week of 10.19.20

Media and Movies

Media Heat: What to Eat, What Not to Eat, What to Do

This morning on Good Morning America: Anahad O'Connor and Dave Lieberman, authors of 10 Things You Should Eat: And More Than 100 Easy and Delicious Ways to Prepare Them (Morrow Cookbooks, $19.99, 9780061780271/0061780278).


This morning on the Today Show: Valerie Bertinelli, author of Finding It: And Satisfying My Hunger for Life Without Opening the Fridge (Free Press, $26, 9781439141632/1439141630). She will also appear today on Live with Regis and Kelly.


This morning on Fox and Friends: Jerry Doyle, author of Have You Seen My Country Lately?: America's Wake-Up Call (Threshold Editions, $26, 9781439168011/1439168016).


Today on the Jim Bohannon Show: Ron Insana, author of How to Make a Fortune from the Biggest Bailout in U.S. History: A Guide to the 7 Greatest Bargains from Main Street to Wall Street (Avery, $26, 9781583333648/1583333649).


Today on the Diane Rehm Show: Carl Pickhardt, author of Why Good Kids Act Cruel: The Hidden Truth About the Pre-Teen Years (Sourcebooks, $14.99, 9781402219443/140221944X).


Today on NPR's Marketplace: Ethan Watters, author of Crazy Like Us: The Globalization of the American Psyche (Free Press, $26, 9781416587088/141658708X). He will also appear today on CNN's Campbell Brown and tomorrow on Talk of the Nation.


Today on Access Hollywood: Peter Biskind, author of Star: How Warren Beatty Seduced America (Simon & Schuster, $30, 9780743246583/0743246586).


Tonight on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart: John Yoo, author of Crisis and Command: A History of Executive Power from George Washington to George W. Bush (Kaplan Publishing, $29.95, 9781607145554/1607145553).


Tomorrow on NPR's On Point: Salman Ahmad, author of Rock & Roll Jihad: A Muslim Rock Star's Revolution (Free Press, $24.99, 9781416597674/1416597670).


Tomorrow night on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart: Paul Ingrassia, author of Crash Course: The American Automobile Industry's Road from Glory to Disaster (Random House, $26, 9781400068630/1400068630).


Tomorrow night on the Colbert Report: Raj Patel, author of The Value of Nothing: How to Reshape Market Society and Redefine Democracy (Picador, $14, 9780312429249/031242924X).


GLOW: Flatiron Press: Tokyo Ever After by Emiko Jean

Movies: Youth in Revolt

"I think they'll be hopefully delighted by the amount of scenes that are pretty verbatim from the book; we tried to do that whenever we could. The language and the tone of the book is so funny, we really wanted to infuse the movie with that," actor Michael Cera told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette regarding his latest movie, which was adapted from C.D. Payne's novel Youth in Revolt: The Journals of Nick Twisp (Broadway, $17.99, 9780767931243/0767931246).

"I think they may be disappointed by certain characters that they will not get to see," he added. "I wish we could have made a seven-part miniseries of the book, so that we could do everything in it but it's just such a massive book that it's just impossible to fit it all into a movie. Hopefully we captured the heart of the book."


Berkley Books: The Last Night in London by Karen White

Books & Authors

IndieBound: Other Indie Favorites

From last week's Indie bestseller lists, available at, here are the recommended titles, which are also Indie Next Great Reads:
Then Came the Evening: A Novel by Brian Hart (Bloomsbury, $25, 9781608190140/1608190145). "Brian Hart's dark, brooding debut novel portrays an American West that few writers capture, and certainly not as well as he does. Tense dialogue captures the lives entwined in this bleak, raw landscape. Then Came the Evening is a psychological stunner."--Andy Nettell, Back of Beyond Books, Moab, Utah
The Voice That Calls You Home: Inspiration for Life's Journeys by Andrea Raynor (Atria, $24, 9781416596110/1416596119). "Andrea Raynor's experiences as a hospice chaplain (she was also a chaplain at Ground Zero following 9/11) are the basis for this profound and intensely personal memoir about our human dance with death and life. With raw and lyrical writing that strips the reader bare, Raynor infuses even the most rehearsed doubter with a transforming portion of hope and possibility."--Zachary Marcus, Northshire Bookstore, Manchester Center, Vt.
Finch by Jeff VanderMeer (Underland Press, $14.95, 9780980226010/0980226015). "In this fantastic new sci-fi novel, Jeff VanderMeer does a great job creating and describing his grim and grittily bizarre world and his downtrodden, not so utterly hopeless characters."--Julia Green, Front Street Books, Alpine, Tex.
For Ages 9 to 12
The Doom Machine by Mark Teague (Blue Sky Press, $17.99, 9780545151429/0545151422). "The Doom Machine is an incredible story of alien invasion and intergalactic adventure. The fate of Earth lies in the hands of a juvenile delinquent boy and his inventor uncle and a brilliant girl and her scientist mother. Mark Teague is a master!"--Cinda Meister, Booksmart, Morgan Hill, Calif.
[Many thanks to IndieBound and the ABA!]

Broadleaf Books: Inspiring New Nonfiction from Broadleaf Books!

Book Review: Mexico City Noir

Mexico City Noir, edited by Paco Ignacio Taibo II, translated by Achy Obejas (Akashic Books, $15.95, trade paperback original, 9781933354903/1933354909, February 1, 2010)

In his introduction, Paco Ignacio Taibo II celebrates Mexico City "for having the most diverse collection of jokes about death, for setting the record for the most political protest in one year and for having two invisible volcanoes." Could anyone dream of a more perfect backdrop for stories of characters with their backs against the wall as cold-blooded antagonists exploit every known means to make them sweat, squirm and maybe die?

Earlier titles in Akashic Press's Noir series focused on the dark sides of Portland (edited by Kevin Sampsell), Istanbul (edited by Mustafa Ziyalan and Amy Spangler) and Havana (edited by Achy Obejas) and established a high standard for rich and surprising portraits of towns we've visited but never seen this way before. Mexico City Noir surpasses that standard with phantasmagorical tales of double-dealing, corruption, violence and self-delusion.

Taibo tells us that his 12 contributors all face the daunting challenges of life in their beloved city with dark humor (a key to survival, he says). Macabre wit is certainly present and accounted for, with characters as different as a wealthy art collector who is much more than she appears and a distressed transsexual dancer (formerly a cop) who confesses his secret to a priest (who reveals that he used to be a nun, so no big deal). These characters are in real trouble; they are also fiercely alive and fighting to stay that way. In moments of crisis, they ask themselves "Is there anything more beautiful than flying toward death?" or divide up responsibility at the scene of the crime with the simple logic of "You're the literature guy. I have to solve a murder."

This collection is such a varied literary feast. Fans of Jorge Luis Borges will find surprises galore in the story "Violeta Isn't Here Anymore." The noir-ish maze that Myriam Laurini constructs with her flair for the shifting realities of "magical realism" is dazzling enough, and then up pops Borges (I will stop there to avoid spoiling the fun).

Peel back one layer and find something totally unexpected, these tales tell us again and again. As Eduardo Monteverde writes, "the heart of Mexico City is made of mud and green rocks, and the God of Rain continues to cry over the whole country." And standing on that ground, the 12 writers here find inspiration to die for.--John McFarland

Shelf Talker: A stellar addition to Akashic Press's growing city-by-city Noir series--the touches of magical realism sweeten the sensation of blood coursing through gutters and bullets grazing the skull.


Deeper Understanding

The Nitty Gritty E-Reader: Part 2

Jenn Northington, general manager at breathe books, Baltimore, Md., writes about what to do while waiting for her B&N nook to arrive later this month (Shelf Awareness, December 20, 2009).

So you've picked your e-reader, and are now waiting for it to be delivered. What to do while you wait? The truth is, you don't need a dedicated e-reader to read e-books; it just makes it easier. You can read books on your iPhone/iPod Touch, Blackberry, Droid or your computer. In fact, many tech reviewers are recommending that you invest in a lightweight laptop or netbook instead of an e-reader. You won't have the eInk technology, but just about every other feature of an e-reader is replicated in dedicated e-reading programs.

Starting with the Kindle, most of the big e-reading outfits offer several different ways to access content. On its website, Amazon has available free Kindle reading apps (or applications) for iPhone/iPod Touch and PC, with Mac and Blackberry versions coming soon. Yep, free! So why ever buy a Kindle? Well, you're preaching to the choir on that one. Seriously, though. What you're paying for when you buy a Kindle is eInk and Whispernet, the mobile, global network that allows you to buy a book whenever and wherever you want. Whispernet is what no one else has, yet (and I'm sure it's just a matter of time), but there are some fairly easy ways to approximate it.

The closest you can get to Whispernet without a Kindle is with mobile phone apps--Blackberry and iPhone specifically, and the Droid soon. Because they already have built-in data plans and constant connectivity (in theory) through cellular service, they're mini e-readers (minus the eInk). You can get e-books for them from paid providers like B&N or Mobipocket, as well as many of the free e-reader apps like Fictionwise and Shortcovers (now renamed Kobo).

As someone whose phone rings--and that's about it--I have to throw in my two cents here. My favorite non-dedicated e-reading device is my iPod Touch. There are dozens of e-reading apps that work with both iPhones and iPods (most apps work on both), and comparing e-reading apps with dedicated e-readers is like comparing your home phone with your Blackberry. The apps have quicker page turns (plus neat page-turning graphics, as opposed to gray wiggly screens) and neat little features including annotate, search and bookmark. Plus you can read in the dark! In bed! For those who want the convenience and pricing of an e-reader but more flexibility and function--and who don't want their book to ring--it's a great investment. True, it doesn't have Whispernet, and it does have a tiny backlit screen. But because it can connect to wireless hotspots, all you need to do is find a network, and you can always make the font bigger. It's also a lean, mean, multitasking machine: calendar, game player, note taker, mp3 player, color screen, lightweight and portable.

So why buy a dedicated e-reader at all? There is still no solid and/or legitimate PDF app for the iPod Touch that can handle protected PDFs (aka DRM). So if you want to go digital off-roading and get your e-books from somewhere other than through dedicated e-reader apps (e.g., digital galleys, which many publishers are starting to make available), you're out of luck. There are workarounds, but even the simplest (file-sharing with your computer) can be fraught. It probably won't be too long until Adobe gets on the iBandwagon, but until then, for galleys and other similar protected PDF files, it's a slow-go/no-go.

All this flexibility in where/how you read is beginning to be answered by what type of reading you can do. Standard e-books--digital versions of printed books--abound, but there are also some exciting experiments.

The Vook (video book) of Crush It by Gary Vaynerchuk is a great example. It's a stand-alone app (available for iPhone/iPod Touch or computer viewing), with a combination of video and text. Video clips are both integrated and separately watchable--they appear at the chapter head or you can go to a list view of all the clips. Vaynerchuk is a natural for this type of content; after all, the man built his reputation on online video. The app doesn't have the neat features of other e-readers/e-reading apps (search, annotate, highlight, etc.) but is a very interesting start nonetheless.

Another smart experiment is the subscription-based McSweeney app, for iPhone/iPod Touch. For $5.99, you get the app and six months of content. The website describes it as a "weekly sampler," and it delivers a combination of free content with special additions: "One week youmight receive a story from the upcoming Quarterly, the next week an interview from the Believer, the next a short film from a future Wholphin. Occasionally, it might be a song, an art portfolio, who knows." It also links back to the website's store, where you can buy books and have them shipped to you. After your first six months, you can renew your subscription with the touch of a button. This is an impressive use of the technology available--the iPhone/iPod Touch, after all, plays videos, audio, has a color screen and Internet connectivity, so why not use all these features?

Of course, there's always one foolproof way to get a good story: you could read an actual book. And if you're reading this column, my bet is you've got a fair amount of reading already right at your fingertips! Excuse me while my unread pile falls on me.

KidsBuzz: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers: First We Were IV by Alexandra Sirowy
KidsBuzz: Vulcan Ink: Merlin Raj And The Santa Algorithm: A Computer Science Dog's Tale for Kids (Merlin Raj #1) by D.G. Priya
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