Shelf Awareness for Monday, November 1, 2010

Scholastic Press: Future Hero by Remi Blackwood

Sourcebooks Explore: Black Boy, Black Boy by Ali Kamanda and Jorge Redmond, illustrated by Ken Daley

Berkley Books: Pride and Protest by Nikki Payne; A Dash of Salt and Pepper by Kosoko Jackson; Astrid Parker Doesn't Fail by Ashley Herring Blake

Soho Crime: Cruz by Nicolás Ferraro, translated by Mallory N. Craig-Kuhn

Ace Books: Station Eternity (The Midsolar Murders) by Mur Lafferty

St. Martin's Press: Maame by Jessica George


Image of the Day: Youngest Fan

Last Thursday, an estimated 1,500 people came to the King's English Bookshop, Salt Lake City, Utah, for a signing by former President Jimmy Carter of his latest book, White House Diary (FSG). Fans included some people who still can't vote.



Disney-Hyperion: Drizzle, Dreams, and Lovestruck Things by Maya Prasad

Notes: BEA-ALA Amicably Stay Separate; B&N Poison Pill Limits

BookExpo America and the American Library Association have "concluded" their discussions concerning a possible merger of the BEA show and the ALA annual conference. ALA said that "communication from exhibitors, attendees and association members indicated that each show is serving its constituency"; the executive board decided that "current arrangements work best at this time."

The two organizations said that "the exploration had been a positive experience and that doors have been opened for other possible collaborative activities between ALA and the American Booksellers Association, the American Association of Publishers and Reed Exhibitions."


Apparently in a nod to criticism that the Riggio family was favored by the poison pill plan adopted late last year, the Barnes & Noble board of directors has amended the poison pill plan to limit any increase in shares by the Riggo family.

The poison pill plan limits outsiders from accumulating 20% or more of the company. The Riggio family already owns at least 30% of B&N and was exempted from the poison pill plan, which insurgent investor Ron Burkle objected to. Under the amended plan, the board cannot make additional equity grants to the Riggios, and if the Riggios acquire more shares by exercising existing share options, they must dispose of the option shares within 60 days and cannot vote the shares.

The full plan is up for ratification at a special shareholders meeting November 17.

B&N also said that its two new directors, voted in on September 28 at the same time as chairman Len Riggio was re-elected--in a battle against Ron Burkle and his slate--have been added to the special committee of independent directors formed in August to oversee B&N's strategic alternatives review process, which may result in the sale of the company. The two are David Golden and David Wilson.

Golden is executive v-p and a partner of Revolution, an investment company. Earlier he worked at JP Morgan Chase and Chase Manhattan Bank. He serves on the boards of a variety of companies.

Wilson is president and CEO of the Graduate Management Admission Council, which administers the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT). Earlier he worked at Ernst & Young in a variety of positions. He holds a Ph.D. in accounting.


Bobbie Bicket, current owner of the Country Bookshop, Southern Pines, N.C., plans to sell her business to the owners of a local newspaper, the Pilot. The sale is set to close November 12.

"I've always said our job is to serve the community, and we do that by putting out great products," said David Woronoff, one of the Pilot's owners. "I can't imagine Southern Pines without the Country Bookshop. I read a story a while back about how the bookshop was really struggling and that it might not make it, so we went out and bought it."

Although he acknowledges that the store "needs a little tender loving care... I feel like we can give it that. We very much want to shore up that institution. If we devote the resources of the Pilot, its website, the telephone directory and PineStraw magazine, we think the book store can be successful."

"I am excited that the Country Bookshop will become part of the Pilot family," said Bicket. "It is certainly the heart of the downtown. It really has a life of its own."

Woronoff added: "We have a great literary tradition here, and this will add to that. This is a sign that we are truly committed to this community and that we will invest in it."


On his Three Percent blog, Chad Post of Open Letter Press responded to Dennis Loy Johnson and his announcement last week that Melville House Publishing would no longer participate in the Best Translated Book Award in the wake of a decision to allow Amazon to underwrite the prize for $25,000 (Shelf Awareness, October 29, 2010).  

Post noted that "it's actually not possible for Melville House to 'withdraw from any future involvement' with the prize. We run the BTBAs like the National Book Critics Circle awards--publishers are encouraged to send eligible titles to the panelists, but panelists are also our buying, reading, and evaluating books on their own. We do this for the same reason that we don't charge a submission fee--so that small presses that may not have the resources and infrastructure of a Random House can still be considered for the prize."

In addition, Post wrote that the BTB prize committee "will try and promote the crap out of these titles through independent bookstores. I worked for years in indie stores before getting into publishing and will always have a soft spot in my heart for what they do. I love the people in bookselling, the feeling of being in a bookstore, of browsing, of overhearing bookish conversations, of getting a recommendation from someone who's more well-read than I am. Simply put, indie bookstores kick ass. And as was demonstrated with the now on hiatus Reading the World program, and the number of judges on our panels, indie stores are great supporters of international literature, and we (me, Open Letter, Three Percent, the BTBAs, society) would be lost without them."


"The Old Bookseller," a vintage photograph from Paris in 1920, was featured by Crashingly Beautiful.


Mystery Scene magazine profiled the award-winning Mystery Lovers Bookshop, Oakmont, Pa., and co-owners Mary Alice Gorman and Richard Goldman, who opened their store on Halloween in 1990 at a time when "there was only one chain bookstore in the Pittsburgh area and Amazon was just a river."
"Richard calls it the 'blinding glimpse of the obvious' that we settled on a mystery bookstore," said Gorman. "It was like a lightbulb because that is what the two of us read. We've always read a lot of the same authors."
The couple recalled considering the possible sale of Mystery Lovers Bookshop about a decade ago, when they "put the store on the market and then took a month-long cruise to South America. They returned energized and took the store off the market."
"The response of the authors and readers at the Festival of Mystery that year warmed our hearts," said Gorman. "What we discovered is that we really had created a community, almost a family [of authors and readers]. Every year the festival moves me and makes me realize that we have a far-flung community of folks who come [from many states]. We have more than 40 writers who say they can't wait. We give no awards; there are no speeches. It's just all fun and ends with pizza and beer."
Gorman also observed that "people want to read and they want to read mysteries. August is one of our biggest months as people are choosing what to take on vacation. I had a customer who was going through a difficult pregnancy. The doctor prescribed Rex Stout. Mysteries are magical. We sell to readers, not collectors. And we're having fun."


Although our Seattle office has moved, review copies for Marilyn Dahl should continue to be sent to 1930 E. Lynn St., Seattle, Wash. 98112.


Book trailer of the day: The Horror! The Horror! Comic Books the Government Didn't Want You to Read! by Jim Trombetta (Abrams ComicArts).


Unusual party of the day: Molly O'Neill, whose upcoming new cookbook is One Big Table: A Portrait of American Cooking (Simon & Schuster), is hosting a party and panel discussion this Thursday, 6:30-8:30 p.m., in the Great Hall on Ellis Island in New York City. The program includes O'Neill's favorite recipes--she spent nearly a decade collecting 20,000 of them from around the country while hosting potluck dinners--prepared by Danny Meyer's Union Square Events and paired with selections from the New York Times Wine Club. A panel discussion called Stirring the Melting Pot will be moderated by the New York Times's Sam Roberts and feature O'Neill, Calvin Trillin of the New Yorker, the Food Network's Aarti Sequeira, the Culinary Institute of America's Iliana de la Vega and federal judge George Chew.

The $130 prix fixe includes ferry ride, dinner, panel discussion and a copy of One Big Table. For more information, go to or call 212-668-2321.




AuthorBuzz for the Week of 06.27.22

Obituary Note: John Olsson

John Olsson, founder of Olsson's Books & Records, which at one point had nine stores in and around Washington, D.C., died last Thursday. He opened the first Olsson's in 1972.

When Olsson's last five stores closed in 2008, Olsson said: "Although it is certainly a sad day for us, I can rejoice in all the great memories of my life in retail in Washington. I began at Discount Record Shop on Connecticut Avenue in the fall of 1958, and worked there until 1972 when I left to open my own record store at 1900 L Street. Along the way books were added, more locations, a couple thousand employees, and many thousands of customers. It was exhilarating. Through it all, our best and brightest served Washington's best and brightest with love and distinction. I'm very proud of what we accomplished. My love and gratitude to all my employees, and special thanks to all those thousands of loyal customers."

Relatives and friends may call at the Collins Funeral Home, 500 University Blvd. West, Silver Spring, Md., today 2-4 p.m. and 7-9 p.m. Funeral service will be held at St. Luke Lutheran Church, Silver Spring, tomorrow at 11 a.m. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society-Maryland Chapter, 11350 McCormick Road, Hunt Valley, Md. 21031.


Blackstone Publishing: Beasts of the Earth by James Wade

Brave New World: Publishers, Agents Talk About the Biz

Publishers and agents on the panel Writing Matters event at Watchung Booksellers, Montclair, N.J., a week ago Friday--where the subject was Brave New World: Publishing a Book in 2010... and Beyond--agreed that the book business is in "a great time of transition," as Reagan Arthur, publisher of Reagan Arthur Books at Little, Brown, put it. "We're all feeling the shift dramatically."

And Aaron Talwar, publisher of Dark Coast Press, said: "The business has come a long way in 10 years. A lot has to do with technology."

The youngest person on the panel, which was adeptly moderated by Jenny Milchman, Talwar continued, "My generation wants everything now and fast, which will dictate the kinds of books that come out in the future. Readers of the future will be the people who text." Still, he sees an important role for publishers: "We take an editorial look at a book. We go through the slush pile. Being published mean you have gone through all this."

The technological changes have opened up more opportunities for writers. As Janet Reid, an agent at FinePrint Literary Management, said, "There are avenues for writers to be published that are vast compared to before, when the only alternative to established houses were vanity presses. Now there are lots of ways to be published." These changes help some hard-to-place books, she said. "Some books have limited utility to the vast market but have vast utility to narrow markets."

But the concept of being published has become fluid. "When people say they're published authors," Reid said, "I ask, 'Where?' "

One personal positive for Reid about the growth of publishing venues is that when rejecting a submission, she takes "comfort in saying no and knowing I'm not shutting down a writer's career." All in all she said she finds the changes in the industry simultaneously "terrifying and fascinating."

Literary agent Joelle Delbourgo of Joelle Delbourgo Associates illustrated how the changes have made her job so different from 15 or 20 years ago: "It's amazing that I can run a global company from a laptop in Montclair," she said. "I e-mail a co-agent in Japan, and in five minutes, I get a response. Technology allows me to bring my books into as many formats and languages as possible." And technology now allows for direct conversations between authors, readers and publishers. "It's rich but it can be exhausting sometimes."

Delbourgo suggested that new technology won't sweep everything away. Her own digitally adept 20-something son is not interested in her Kindle, and called the book "a technologically perfect thing."

And Amy Gash, senior editor at Algonquin, said there will always be a place for independent booksellers, with whom Algonquin has strong ties and who create buzz for many of the publisher's titles. "Independent bookstores are where you can meet and connect," she said. (A point illustrated by the packed panel.)

At the same time, change is occurring, sometimes in surprising ways. Reagan Arthur said she saw a big change in attitude while on vacation this summer with her extended family. Her aunt, to whom she has often sent books, had a new iPad that she loves. Arthur had been reading Innocent, Scott Turow's latest book, and when she was done, offered it to her interested aunt. Instead of taking the free book that was handed to her, her aunt pressed a few keys and bought an e-book version for her iPad.


The battered economy and technological change have led "publishers to pull out their hair," Delbourgo said. "They're more selective. They're buying less. They're less liable to take risks." (Still, she stressed, "extraordinary books are published every day. Fantastic books get through.")

In fact, after 25 years as an editor, Delbourgo decided to become an agent, because editors' jobs came to consist mainly of going to meetings while "so much of what I loved about working with authors went to agents."

Book reviewing is going through a sea change. Reagan Arthur noted: "I feel very acutely this year the complete collapse of the review community." She cited several defunct free-standing newspaper book review sections--and the only survivor of the bunch, the New York Times Book Review. Slowly replacing that are online reviewers, who in five or 10 years will be as "vibrant" as those in the print world.

But Janet Reid confessed that she never reads the New York Times Book Review and said "readers buy books based on what their friends say." She was supportive of online reviewing, noting that now "a hundred million people across the country are talking about books."

Amy Gash agreed with a statement that there are fewer author tours paid for by publishers. More of that money is going to other ways of promoting authors, such as video trailers, websites and video chats. "Some authors do book groups via Skype," she added.

Despite the turmoil in the industry, there are some constants, particularly concerning writers who want to have their work published, for whom panelists had some practical suggestions.

Janet Reid emphasized the importance of having a "compelling voice and compelling first line" in any submission. Since her areas of interest include mystery and crime, this can mean that "if you set someone on fire on page 1 and do it well," she'll want to read more.

Amy Gash said she looked for a voice, "and it has to be original."

For her part, Joelle Delbourgo said, "If I don't like the first sentence, I won't read the second." She advised writers to work hard on their manuscripts and query letters.

Delbourgo also provided some perspective on the current state of the book world, quoting longtime editor Michael Korda, who observed that "every decade the industry believes it is the end of the book and the end of publishing. But people are still reading books."--John Mutter


Penn State University Press: The Seven Democratic Virtues: What You Can Do to Overcome Tribalism and Save Our Democracy by Christopher Beem

Media and Movies

Media Heat: The Unbearable Lightness of Portia de Rossi

This morning on Good Morning America: Jessica Seinfeld, author of Double Delicious!: Good, Simple Food for Busy, Complicated Lives (Morrow, $28.99, 9780061659331/0061659339).


This morning on Imus in the Morning: Tony Hendra discusses George Carlin's Last Words: A Memoir (Free Press, $26.99, 9781439172957/1439172951).


Today on Oprah: Portia de Rossi, author of Unbearable Lightness: A Story of Loss and Gain (Atria, $25.99, 9781439177785/1439177783).


Today on Tavis Smiley: Edwidge Danticat, author of Eight Days (Orchard Books, $17.99, 9780545278492/054527849X).


Today on Access Hollywood: Rick Springfield, author of Late, Late at Night (Touchstone, $26, 9781439191156/1439191158).


Tonight on the Colbert Report: Jonathan Alter, author of The Promise: President Obama, Year One (Simon & Schuster, $28, 9781439101193/1439101191).

Tomorrow morning on Good Morning America: Rachael Ray, author of Rachael Ray's Look & Cook (Clarkson Potter, $24.99, 9780307590503/030759050X).


Tomorrow morning on Regis and Kelly: Nigella Lawson, author of Nigella Kitchen: Recipes from the Heart of the Home (Hyperion, $35, 9781401323950/1401323952). She will also appear tomorrow and Wednesday on the Today Show.


Tomorrow on the Martha Stewart Show: Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito, authors of Baked: New Frontiers in Baking (Stewart, Tabori & Chang, $29.95, 9781584797210/1584797215).


Movies: Fair Game, William S. Burroughs

Fair Game, based on the autobiography by Valerie Plame (Simon & Schuster, $15, 9781416537625/1416537627), opens this Friday, November 5. Naomi Watts plays Plame, a CIA agent whose identity was leaked by Dick Cheney's chief of staff after her husband, Joe Wilson, played by Sean Penn, said that the White House falsified intelligence to justify the invasion of Iraq. 


William S. Burroughs: A Man Within, directed by Yony Leyser, also opens November 5. Peter Weller narrates this documentary about the author of Naked Lunch (Grove Press, $14, 9780802140180/0802140181).



London Boulevard Trailer

A new trailer for the film London Boulevard has been released. Adapted from Ken Bruen's novel, the movie is directed by William Monahan, who wrote the Oscar-winning screenplay for The Departed. It opens in the U.K. next month and in the U.S. early next year, reported.


Books & Authors

Awards: Galaxy Shortlists

Shortlists for the Galaxy National Book Awards were announced recently "with some of the nation's favorite writers pitted against each other in battles for the 'Oscars of the publishing industry,' " Book2Book reported, noting that the prizes "showcase the best of British publishing, celebrating books with wide popular appeal, critical acclaim and commercial success." Category winners will be named November 10 during "a star-studded awards ceremony, produced by Cactus TV," and then the public will vote online for the Galaxy Book of the Year, with the overall winner announced December 13. You can view the detailed shortlists for each category at Lovereading.


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:


A Curable Romantic by Joseph Skibell (Algonquin, $26.95, 9781565129290/1565129296). "Joseph Skibell is one of America's great unsung writers. His new novel, A Curable Romantic, is funny, dark, and profound. If there is justice in the world, it will win a major prize next year. Skibell writes amazing prose that carries you like a dream through a complicated plot without ever leaving you impatient. Fine literary tears will be cried."--Paul Ingram, Prairie Lights Books, Iowa City, Iowa.

My Thoughts Be Bloody: The Bitter Rivalry Between Edwin and John Wilkes Booth That Led to an American Tragedy by Nora Titone (Free Press, $30, 9781416586050/1416586059). "My Thoughts Be Bloody offers a fresh and unique approach to the Lincoln assassination. Through a complete examination of the life of John Wilkes Booth and his intense rivalry with his more famous brother, Edwin, Nora Titone offers a credible, compelling answer to the question of why John murdered Lincoln. Her writing is smart and lively, and the tale she relates is fascinating. Even seasoned Lincoln buffs will find much that is new in this ambitious work."--Christopher Rose, Andover Bookstore, Andover, Mass.


The Privileges by Jonathan Dee (Random House, $15, 9780812980790/0812980794). "This exceptionally well-written novel about a wealthy New York family induces shifting sympathies as it presents the reader with knotty ethical dilemmas. If you had limitless wealth, what would you do with it? And how do you make life meaningful when you have everything?"--Molly Young, Orinda Books, Orinda, Calif.

For Ages 9 to 12

The Grimm Legacy
by Polly Shulman (Putnam, $16.99, 9780399250965/0399250964). "Elizabeth's new after-school job at a lending library of artifacts turns magical when she's introduced to the Grimm Collection, magical objects from the Brothers Grimm tales. Among the shoes of the Twelve Dancing Princesses and the Mirror of Snow White's evil stepmother, Elizabeth finds herself caught up in a mystery that could turn dangerous."--Meaghan Beasley, Island Bookstore, Kitty Hawk, N.C.

[Many thanks to IndieBound and the ABA!]



AuthorBuzz: St. Martin's Press: Corinne by Rebecca Morrow
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