Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Chronicle Books: Dolly Parton, Songteller: My Life in Lyrics by Dolly Parton and Robert K Oermann

IDW Publishing: Redbone: The True Story of a Native American Rock Band by Christian Staebler and Sonia Paoloni, illustrtaed by Thibault Balahy

Graydon House: The Chanel Sisters by Judithe Little

St. Martin's Press: The Awakening: The Dragon Heart Legacy, Book 1 (Dragon Heart Legacy, 1)

Houghton Mifflin: Igniting Darkness (Courting Darkness Duology) by Robin Lafevers


Image of the Day: Passage at RiverRun

Monday night an SRO crowd heard Justin Cronin read from the biggest book of the summer, The Passage, at RiverRun Bookstore, Portsmouth, N.H. Cronin posed with some RiverRun booksellers, booksellers from other stores, author Joe Hill and others. The store's social networking was effective at more than just drawing a huge crowd: the shelves were full of orders from around the country and world for copies of the book.


G.P. Putnam's Sons: The Twelve Dates of Christmas by Jenny Bayliss

Notes: iPad Sales Climb, E-Reader Prices Keep Dropping

As if to emphasize why Barnes & Noble and Amazon lowered prices on their e-readers on Monday, Apple yesterday announced it has sold more than three million iPads. The device went on sale April 3 in the U.S. and worldwide last month. The pace is faster than most predicted. As the Wall Street Journal noted: "Some analysts last month projected about half [the actual total] would be sold in Apple's fiscal third quarter, which ends next week."


Borders Group joined the e-reader price wars, announcing yesterday that a $20 Borders gift card will be bundled with its new $149 Kobo e-reader, developed by an international group led by Indigo in Canada. Borders also offers the $119 Libre eBook Reader Pro.

"With two of the most aggressively priced eReaders on the market, we've already made clear our commitment to make it easy for every consumer to begin enjoying digital books today," Borders CEO Mike Edwards said.

Initial advance orders for the Kobo e-reader sold out, and additional Kobos are shipping now. The Kobo will be sold at Borders retail stores beginning in early September.


In some cases, the e-reader price cuts are retroactive. B&N and Amazon will refund the difference in price to customers who bought e-readers recently, the Wall Street Journal said.

In Amazon's case, it will give a $70 credit to customers whose Kindles shipped in the last 30 days. B&N will give a $10 refund and $50 gift card to customers who are within the 14-day return policy period.


The Fresno Bee interviewed local indie booksellers regarding their attitudes toward e-readers, and noted that Jean Shore, owner of Fig Garden Bookstore "has survived plenty of business challenges in almost 25 years as a bookseller."

"We'll have to diversify and learn to do things differently," Shore said.

Kathi Lamonski, Shore's daughter, isn't sure what impact e-books will have on the bookshop, "but e-books are the future, and I hope the future leads us to a place where there's room for everything. This is 2010, and times are changing. Some of my best friends have e-readers now . . . but they're still buying printed books, too."

Sally Brewer, owner of the Book Garden bookstore, Exeter, said, "We have customers who read both e-books and printed books. They have access to e-readers, but they still like to have a touchy-feely book." Other patrons, however, "are totally devoted to books. A lot of them don't have computers, and they're very traditional readers."


Congratulations to Old Firehouse Books, Fort Collins, Colo., which is celebrating a trifecta of anniversaries this Friday. It is the store's 30th year in business, its 10th year with current owners Susie Wilmer and Richard Sommerfeld and one full year since it moved downtown to a historic building, a former firehouse, and changed its name from the Book Rack of Fort Collins.

The Friday party will feature local craft beer, tea from a local teahouse, appetizers from the Food Co-op, a string quartet and a literary trivia.


In his column this week, Peter Osnos, founder and editor-at-large of PublicAffairs, praised the "generation of master booksellers, leaders in the field of independent bookselling from as far back as the 1970s," exemplifed by Carla Cohen and Barbara Meade, owners of Politics and Prose, Washington, D.C., who recently put the store up for sale. "What characterizes these stalwarts is their commitment to the art of hand-selling good books and the evolving science of marketing in which, it seems, a new challenge emerges every few years since the mid-1980s."

Osnos went on to praise other favorite booksellers, "all of them, as it happens, women who have set standards of success and stature among their peers," and all of them among our very favorite booksellers: Joyce Meskis, Elaine Petrocelli, Barbara Morrow, Roberta Rubin, Roxanne Coady and Diane Garrett.


More than 20 individuals and groups, many of whom are longtime customers or particularly value its role as "an influential tastemaker" or both, have approached Politics and Prose about buying the store, Barbara Meade told the New York Times.

One group includes agent Raphael Sagalyn, New Republic editor Franklin Foer and Jeffrey Goldberg, a national correspondent for the Atlantic. Another group, led by law professor Nicholas Kittrie, consists of "about 10 people in the publishing, radio and electronic communications industries."

Meade said that she and Cohen want to be sure new owners are a good fit. "We're not going to sell unless it's a person we feel completely comfortable with and would be as devoted to books and our customers as we have been."

In any case, business is humming along. Meade told the Times that April sales were nearly $676,000, up 15.6% from the same period in 2009.


Book trailer of the day: Art of McSweeney's (Chronicle), which features art and design from a range of McSweeney's books, magazines, journals and more.


More on author typewriters: the typewriter owned for at least a few years by John Updike and mentioned here yesterday sold for $4,375 at Christie's, according to the New York Times. The house had estimated its value at $4,000-$6,000.

At the same auction yesterday, a manual typewriter--a Hermes 3000, for cognescenti--used by Jack Kerouac from 1966 until his death in 1969, sold for $22,500.


Blending World Cup fever and performance poetry, "four of the U.K.'s best performance poets have scored resounding winners with a specially-commissioned series of short spoken word films . . . Football Stories, jointly commissioned by arts centres ARC in Stockton on Tees and The Albany in Deptford, South East London, features films by Scroobius Pip, Polarbear, Kat Francois and Charlie Dark," Book Trade reported.


Beat Memories: The Photographs of Allen Ginsberg, an exhibition that will run until September 16 at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., was showcased by Boing Boing, which noted that "Ginsberg started taking photographs as a young man, in the 1940s, and kept doing so through 1963, when his camera was left behind on a trip to India. The result was a kind of Beat family photo album."    


Do you know your literary siblings? The Guardian is testing "your knowledge of sibling strife and cooperation in the literary world."


Neil Gaiman, John Hodgman, and OK Go's Damian Kulash sang "Happy Together" in St. Paul, Minn., last Friday at WITS, "a fabulous Minnesota Public Radio series that features famous writers, fun tunes, laughing and sing-a-longs," Boing Boing reported.

AuthorBuzz for the Week of 07.06.20

Abrams, Chronicle Create Joint U.K., Europe Sales Company

Effective July 1, Chronicle Books and Abrams are creating a joint venture called Abrams & Chronicle Books that will sell and market their titles and distributed lines in the U.K. and Europe. The company will also seek out complementary lists.

With headquarters in London, the joint venture will build on the existing Abrams UK operation, is headed by managing director Chuck Lang and will continue to use the current U.K. warehouse, Gardner's Book Service.

The in-house sales team will manage all U.K. national accounts and the London territory, and regional U.K. sales coverage will be handled by Publishers Group U.K. and commission reps. Sales and distribution in Europe, where the new venture sees substantial opportunity for growth, will be overseen by new international sales director David Gooding and eight export sales representatives. All U.K. and international press and marketing will be managed by the London staff.

Abrams president and CEO Michael Jacobs said that the two houses "have a comprehensive range of both adult and children's books, gifts and stationery to offer to all types of retailer partners, from bookstores and museum shops to gift and specialty accounts. Additionally, the partnership between our two companies--and the complementary skills and affinities of our programs and people--is a natural fit and one we've been looking to capitalize upon for years."

For his part, Jack Jensen, president of Chronicle, said, "Over the last decade we have experienced consistent sales growth and increased market penetration in both the U.K. and Europe. Our partnership will provide the opportunity to enhance the highly skilled Abrams sales and marketing team, and the combined lists will allow us to bring an inspired, market driven publishing program to these most important market channels."


Red Lightning Books: The Legend of Bigfoot: Leaving His Mark on the World by T.S Mart, Mel Cabre

Goal!: Soccernomics Finds Footing in U.S.

Talk about counterintuitive.

The bestselling soccer title and fourth most-popular sports title in the U.S. at the moment is Soccernomics by Simon Kuper and Stefan Szymanski, a journalist and economist, respectively, and is published by Nation Books, the Nation's co-publishing venture with Perseus.

Originally published in the U.K. as Why England Lose: And Other Curious Football Phenomena Explained, the book was named a Financial Times best book of the year and made a respectable showing. Nation Books, not usually considered a sports publisher, took the title because it had published an earlier, more political book about soccer by Kuper called Soccer Against the Enemy.

Published here last October, Soccernomics appeared with a new title and a new subtitle: the weighty "Why England Loses, Why Germany and Brazil Win, and Why the U.S., Japan, Australia, Turkey--and Even Iraq--Are Destined to Become the Kings of the World's Most Popular Sport." Perhaps Perseus Books Group president David Steinberger put it better, saying the book takes "a counterintuitive analytic approach to soccer.

"It didn't get any reviews," Steinberger continued, but bloggers about soccer, sports and Freakonomics talked up Soccernomics. This led to a steady increase in sales, especially in the run-up to the World Cup in South Africa. Borders, too, was a strong supporter from the beginning, and that bookseller's track record helped show other retailers the book's potential.

In the spring, the company did a minor "re-promotion," changing the cover slightly and adding a cross-sport quotation from Billy Beane, general manager of the Oakland A's ("Kuper and Szymanski... bring valuable, objective analysis to soccer"), and some other blurbs. Soccernomics is now in its fourth printing and has a total of 80,000 copies in print.

As of early this morning, the U.S. team is still in the running in the World Cup and may yet become a soccer king, as predicted in Soccernomics, another once-unlikely champion in the field.--John Mutter


University of Pittsburgh Press: The Prince of Mournful Thoughts and Other Stories by Caroline Kim

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Specter of Denialism

Today on Fresh Air: S.C. Gwynne, author of Empire of the Summer Moon: Quanah Parker and the Rise and Fall of the Comanches, the Most Powerful Indian Tribe in American History (Scribner, $27.50, 9781416591054/1416591052).


Today on the Diane Rehm Show: Monte Reel, author of The Last of the Tribe: The Epic Quest to Save a Lone Man in the Amazon (Scribner, $26, 9781416594741/1416594744).


Tomorrow on Morning Edition: Liz Wiseman and Greg McKeown, authors of Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter (HarperBusiness, $25.99, 9780061964398/0061964395).


Tomorrow on KCRW's Bookworm: Zachary Mason, author of The Lost Books of the Odyssey (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $24, 9780374192150/0374192154). As the show put it: "Higher mathematics and logic problems have long intrigued fiction writers. Both Lewis Carroll (the Alice books) and Vladimir Nabokov (Lolita) had a profound love of logic and chess. Zachary Mason, an Artificial Intelligence theorist, uses his knowledge of fractals and string theory to create a completely accessible book about the adventures of Ulysses."


Tomorrow night on the Colbert Report: Michael Specter, author of Denialism: How Irrational Thinking Hinders Scientific Progress, Harms the Planet, and Threatens Our Lives (Penguin Press, $27.95, 9781594202308/1594202303).


Movies: Fifty-Nine in '84

Kirker Butler has optioned the film rights to Fifty-Nine in '84: Old Hoss Radbourn, Barehanded Baseball, and the Greatest Season a Pitcher Ever Had by Ed Achorn (Smithsonian). The historical biography, which takes place in 1884, "tracks the story of a little-known pitcher who set a season record of 59 wins that never will be broken," the Hollywood Reporter wrote.

Butler, a co-executive producer and writer on Fox-TV's Cleveland Show, said, "The goal is to make the best movie, not to find a movie for me to write.... The way the industry is changing, I just can't stay in TV animation forever; I think it's important to do something different. These shows are intense and can take a lot out of you, and one of the reasons I'm able to stay inspired is because when I'm not working on the show, I'm keeping busy with other projects."


Books & Authors

Awards: Miles Franklin, Pritzker, Jewish Quarterly-Wingate

Peter Temple has won the Miles Franklin Award, Australia's most prestigious literary prize, for Truth. The novel was published in the U.S. last month by Farrar, Straus & Giroux.

The judges said that the book "is the much anticipated sequel to The Broken Shore and comprehends murder, corruption, family, friends, honour, honesty, deceit, love, betrayal--and truth. A stunning story about contemporary Australian life, Truth is written with great moral sophistication."

Temple was presented with the $42,000 (US$36,200) award last night in Sydney.


Rick Atkinson has won the 2010 Pritzker Military Library Literature Award for Lifetime Achievement in Military Writing. The $100,000 honorarium, citation and medallion, sponsored by the Tawani Foundation, will be presented at the Library's annual Liberty Gala on October 22 in Chicago.

James N. Pritzker, founder and president of the Library and Foundation, cited Atkinson for giving readers "accurate and frank analysis of military history from World War II to the present conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. His independent voice, tempered with respect and compassion, has earned high esteem not only from scholars, journalists, and civilians on the home front but also the members of the Armed Forces about whom he writes. His life and professional dedication to military history truly represent the 'Citizen' in Citizen Soldiers, who are essential for the maintenance of democracy."

Atkinson's books include In the Company of Soldiers, The Long Gray Line and the first two volumes of a trilogy about the American role in the liberation of Europe in World War II: An Army at Dawn and The Day of Battle. He is currently working on the last volume in the series.


My Happiness Bears No Relation to Happiness: A Poet's Life in the Palestinian Century by Adina Hoffman (Yale University Press) has won the 2010 Jewish Quarterly-Wingate Literary Prize.

Anne Karpf, chair of the judging panel, called the biography of the Palestinian poet Taha Mohammed Ali "ultimately an uplifting book, combining meticulous research with literary sensitivity and a deep humanity: a beautifully written portrait of lived resistance. You read it and you marvel at human resilience and creativity."


Book Brahmin: Adam Foulds

Adam Foulds was born in 1974, graduated Oxford University, earned an MA in a creative writing at the University of East Anglia and now lives in South London. His book-length narrative poem, The Broken Word, won the 2008 Whitbread Costa Poetry Award. His first novel, The Truth About These Strange Times, was published in 2007 and he was named Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year in 2008. The Quickening Maze, to be published here by Penguin next Tuesday, June 29, was shortlisted for the 2009 Man Booker Prize.

On your nightstand now:

I've just gone to check and I'm slightly surprised by what I found: Lao-Tzu's Tao Te Ching, Collected Works of John Milton, Robert Fagles's translation of The Iliad. No wonder I have trouble sleeping.

Favorite book when you were a child:

I didn't read much fiction as a child. I preferred factual books. I remember one particularly about marine life. I loved the silence of its pictures. There was an absurd inflated puffer fish like a spiny golf ball with worried eyes, a large and dextrous octopus, a conger eel issuing from a rock, its rounded jaws frightening with many tiny teeth.

Your top five authors:

Homer. Shakespeare. Tolstoy. Hm, top three are easy. After that...  Dickens, Joyce.

Book you've faked reading:

Robert Musil's The Man Without Qualities. I haven't exactly faked it. It's just that I've just never got beyond the first few hundred pages.

Book you're an evangelist for:

I've pressed on friends and written about a book called The Peregrine by J.A. Baker. It's the observation diary of a man who spent one autumn through to spring watching a pair of peregrine falcons. It is written in an extraordinary prose that is pared down, precise but also lavish and surprising in its images, all in pursuit of the reality of those birds. It feels pretty much as far as one could go in trying to live inside the mind of another creature, another way of seeing the world.

Book you've bought for the cover:

Steve Davis Plays Chess.

Book that changed your life:

All the good ones do. My first reading passion as a teenager was Keats and I still have the same Penguin Classics edition. That book filled my mind with its music for a long time and provoked many of my own early attempts at poems. Later on it was Flaubert's Madame Bovary. That taught me a novel could be as thoroughly composed and intense as poetry and opened an important door for me.

Favorite line from a book:

This really is an impossible question. So, almost at random: "The sluggish cream wound curdling spirals through her tea" from Joyce's Ulysses, or "Gold holly in the fireplace" from Christopher Logue's version of The Iliad, or "The rain beat against the windows all night long" from Chekhov's "Gooseberries," or "One morning, after a night of uneasy dreams, Gregor Samsa awoke to find himself transformed into a giant insect." Kafka, of course.

Book you most want to read again for the first time:

Pretty much my most intense reading experience ever was Joyce's short story "The Dead." The modulation from the body of the story at the party through the quieter, revelatory scene at home to its visionary ending lifted me irresistibly into its intended state of pure apprehension and completed emotional experience. You can't get it the second time because you know what's coming. The first time I read it I was breathless and couldn't sit down for a while. I wandered, marveling at it.

Book Review

Children's Review: The Grimm Legacy

The Grimm Legacy by Polly Shulman (Putnam Publishing Group, $16.99 Hardcover, 9780399250965, July 2010)

What if Brothers Grimm-style magic really existed? Polly Shulman, who took her inspiration from Jane Austen for her first novel, Enthusiasm, here plumbs the depths of the fairytales realm. One winter's day, on her way to Fisher High School, narrator Elizabeth Rew gives a homeless woman her sneakers and sets off a chain of page-turning events. First, Elizabeth's social studies teacher, Mr. Mauskopf, assigns a paper and asks his students to select from a list of topics that includes the Brothers Grimm--which Elizabeth chooses. After Elizabeth receives an A on the paper, Mr. Mauskopf recommends her for a job at the New York Circulating Material Repository, where she meets fellow pages Anjali Rao and Aaron Rosendorn--and becomes better acquainted with Fisher basketball star Marc Merritt. The pages' job is to retrieve material items requested by patrons, much like the books behind lock-and-key at the 42nd Street branch of the New York Public Library. Here, the objects are plates, spoons, rugs--or items from the repository's depths... such as magic carpets. Elizabeth learns of a giant bird that purportedly "follows some of the patrons and pages around," and the creature may be linked to the disappearance of objects from the Grimm Collection. Elizabeth must earn the trust of the librarians in order to gain entry into this top-secret section of the repository, and once she does, she learns that access and danger go hand in hand.

Shulman makes us privy to the delectable details of Grimm fairy tales, while adding her own fresh twist. Items like seven-league boots, the mirror that pronounces Snow White "the fairest of them all," and a seemingly benign mermaid's comb all play a role in helping the pages solve the mystery of the items that go missing, or that begin to lose their enchantment. Each teenaged page contributes his or her own talents--some have royal blood, while others' heightened senses help to detect the presence of magic (Elizabeth, for instance, can smell it)--or lack thereof. It's not necessary to be steeped in Grimm lore to follow along, though the adventures are more fun if you are. The teens' side trips to the Wells Bequest and the Gibson Chrestomathy reap other benefits for their investigation. And it wouldn't be a fairy tale without a romance (or two). A few red herrings keep readers on their toes, and a couple of loose ends (what happened to that elusive doll collector who got "lost" as a result of Anjali's magic fan?) leave room for further adventures at the New-York Circulating Material Repository.--Jennifer M. Brown

AuthorBuzz: Constable: The Mimosa Tree Mystery (A Crown Colony Novel) by Ovidia Yu
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