Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Atlantic Monthly Press: Those Opulent Days: A Mystery by Jacquie Pham

Feiwel & Friends: The Flicker by HE Edgmon

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers: The Pumpkin Princess and the Forever Night by Steven Banbury

St. Martin's Griffin: Murdle: The School of Mystery: 50 Seriously Sinister Logic Puzzles by GT Karber

Carolrhoda Lab (R): Here Goes Nothing by Emma K Ohland

Allida: Safiyyah's War by Hiba Noor Khan

Ace Books: Servant of Earth (The Shards of Magic) by Sarah Hawley


Book Passage Fights Possible B&N Passage

In characteristic style, Book Passage, whose main store is in Corte Madera, Calif., in Marin County north of San Francisco, is not going along quietly with the probable opening of a Barnes & Noble in the Town Center shopping center a block away. (The space would be about three times bigger and a much better location than the B&N already in Corte Madera. The landlord says a lease has been signed but won't say with whom. Several sources says it's with B&N.)

In an e-mail newsletter and on its Web site, Book Passage argues passionately and in detail against the store opening in a site where Book Passage had hoped to relocate. Among the elements of the store's campaign:

  • A point-by-point rebuttal to a form letter from the Town Center's manager sent to anyone writing to him about the issue. As part of this, Book Passage details the damage that could be done to it by a new B&N and the effect of superstore expansion on independents over the past 15 years.
  • Findings from a study done in the Andersonville section of Chicago examining the different effect on the local economy of spending at and by chain vs. local businesses.
  • A discussion of how Book Passage's many author events, classes, conferences and general business expenses boost the local economy.
  • Names and addresses of the shopping center owners and management and town officials to contact.

The Marin Independent Journal has a long story on the controversy. An "emergency" Web site created by local residents has more information about the issue.

PM Press: P Is for Palestine: A Palestine Alphabet Book by Golbarg Bashi, Illustrated by Golrokh Nafisi

SEBA Slips into SIBA

It's official.

The Southeast Booksellers Association has changed its name to the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance, which the organization first discussed publicly at its meeting and trade show last fall (Shelf Awareness, September 14). In connection with the change, SIBA has a new logo and redesigned Web site.

The homonymous new name represents "an increased commitment towards activism and advocacy for the independent bookstore in the South," SIBA said. Executive director Wanda Jewell added that the organization adopted the word "alliance" to emphasize, too, that SIBA is "a marketing tool for our stores. We are focusing on the retail alliances and buy local campaigns and the new logo will support that effort."

The name change also reflects the dissolution last winter of the Mid-South Booksellers Association, which "shared" the South with SEBA. SIBA is the first regional booksellers association that is no longer called an association. SIBA has nearly 300 bookstore members.

Farrar, Straus and Giroux: Intermezzo by Sally Rooney

Notes: Matisse the Master Whitbread Book of the Year

The £25,000 Whitbread Book of the Year award has gone to Matisse the Master by Hilary Spurling (Knopf, $40, 0679434291), which had won the best biography Whitbread award earlier this month (Shelf Awareness, January 4).

The chair of the judging panel said Spurling "has opened our eyes to great art, and done it in an extraordinary way." For her part, Spurling told the BBC that she was "gobsmacked."

Whitbread, since 1971 the main sponsor of the awards, which are open to residents of the Britain and Ireland, has announced that it will no longer be involved in the awards. A search is on for what next year may be the non-Whitbread.


A front-page Wall Street Journal feature today examines the latest brand of pressure put on textbook publishers and the schools and government entities that adopt texts: pressure from religious groups that "is growing well beyond Christian fundamentalists' attack on evolution." Now following the "watchdog" efforts of some Islamic groups, Jewish, Hindu and Sikh groups want to make sure that their faiths are cast "in a better light," leading to some battles. As one California Curriculum Commission member put it: "It tends to be scholar pitted against believer."


Retail Week reported that the U.K.'s Competition Commission has called on bookstore customers to send in their views on the proposed takeover of Ottakar's by HMV's Waterstone's subsidiary. The chair of the inquiry group indicated that it has "yet to reach any conclusions at this early stage."


Cool idea of the day (via SIBA): Quail Ridge Books & Music in Raleigh, N.C., said that "the best staff idea during the busy holiday season was serving (nonalcoholic) champagne to the customers in the long lines at the registers, making a very cheerful occasion," according to the store's newsletter.


Part of an unusual ad/promo campaign? Or perhaps an attempt to insure he is a billionaire?

As was widely reported yesterday, Donald Trump has sued Warner Books and Timothy L. O'Brien, a New York Times reporter, for $5 billion concerning O'Brien's suggestion in his October book TrumpNation: The Art of Being the Donald that the Donald's net worth is merely "somewhere between $150 million and $250 million."

Warner stands by the book.


Linda Kennedy, president of Globe Pequot since 1994 and an employee since 1978, has resigned.

"I am very grateful for my years at Globe Pequot, but I feel that it is the right time to explore new challenges," Kennedy said in a company statement. "I am proud to leave behind a company that over the years has matured and blossomed into a market leader in travel and outdoor recreation information."

Owned by Morris Communications Co., Globe Pequot under Kennedy bought Falcon Press, Lyons Books, the Cadogan Guides and several other book publishers. She also oversaw the opening of a new book distribution center in Springfield, Tenn.

Globe Pequot distributes titles by Appalachian Mountain Club Books, the Boone and Crockett Club, Menasha Ridge Press, Mobil Travel Guides, New Holland Publishers and Thomas Cook Publishing, among others.


Barnes & Noble will open a store in Colonie, N.Y., near Albany, in April 2007, in the Colonie Center Mall. The day before the new store opens, B&N will close its existing store at 20 Wolf Road across the street. The new store will stock the usual nearly 200,000 book, music, DVD and magazine titles and have about 33,000 square feet of space, according to the Business Review. The Colonie Center Mall is renovating and includes a Waldenbooks that has five years left on its lease.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Rhea Perlman, Children's Book Author

This morning on the Early Show: actress Rhea Perlman talks about her new children's series, Otto Undercover. The first titles are Born to Drive (HarperTrophy, $3.99, 0060754958) and Canyon Catastrophe (HarperTrophy, $3.99, 0060754974).


Today on the Diane Rehm Show, a cheerful Darrin McMahon discusses his new book, Happiness: A History (Atlantic Monthly, $27.50, 0871138867).


Today on the Leonard Lopate Show:

  • James Carville and Paul Begala, authors of Take It Back: Our Party, Our Country, Our Future (S&S, $24, 074327752X), talk about the future of the Democratic Party and the U.S.
  • Nick Laird who talks about his novel Utterly Monkey (HarperPerennial, $13.95, 0060828366).
  • Marianne Legato, author of Why Men Never Remember and Women Never Forget (Rodale, $24.95, 1579548970).
  • Norah Vincent describes her transformation from woman to man, as recounted in her new book, Self-Made Man: One Woman's Journey into Manhood and Back (Viking Adult, $24.95, 0670034665). She--or he--will also be on NPR's Talk of the Nation today.

Book Review

Mandahla: The Last Templar Reviewed

Last Templar by Raymond Khoury (Dutton Books, $24.95 Hardcover, 9780525949411, February 2006)

I'm a sucker for Vatican conspiracy thrillers, and if a few Knights Templar are thrown into the mix, I'm pretty happy and not too demanding (although I couldn't finish The Da Vinci Code; Angels & Demons is much better). There are at least five novels in this genre being published in the next few months, so get ready. First out of the chute is The Last Templar. The book opens in 1291, in the Kingdom of Jerusalem, as a few remaining Knights Templar escape the fall of Acre with a secret treasure. The action then switches to the present, at a gala opening at the Met for a Vatican treasures exhibit. The party is crashed by four knights, who astonishingly ride their horses into the museum, brandishing broadswords and looting the exhibit. An excellent beginning.
Moving back and forth between the present and the past, The Last Templar employs the usual suspects: Tess Chaykin, a beautiful archaeologist; Sean Reilly, an FBI agent and devout Catholic; Professor William Vance, a history professor and devout atheist; a Vatican hit-man; and a cardinal who, were it not for his vestments, would look like a burly Calabrian farmer. This is recognizable territory--the Templars discovered a document proving that Church dogma was a hoax, they wanted to expose the lie, destroy all religions and then unite them under a rationalist creed that would, of course, change the world for the better. Stock phrases abound: "Fortunately, there were very few, even here in the Vatican, who did know the legendary purpose of this particular machine."  And yet, the familiar--with a new twist--is what we want and expect in thrillers about the Holy Grail, no? Khoury, a screenwriter, delivers it with a story that is well-written and exciting. Slowing down the pace are the believer vs. unbeliever discussions, which are long-winded and reminded me of earnest, beer-fueled college debates. But page through the pontification and enjoy the action.--Marilyn Dahl

The Zeitgeist

The Sony Reader: Two Different Resolutions

Wired and the Wall Street Journal scan the new Sony Reader, scheduled to go on sale here in the next few months, and come to very different e-conclusions:

Wired's Dylan Tweney writes: "Books have been written on sheets of dried, mashed plants for about five millennia. Paper is a cheap, relatively durable and versatile technology. Sony's new Reader will not spell the end of that long history, but it could be the opening of an interesting new chapter."

Journal drama critic Terry Teachout ends: "Yes, I miss the bookstores of my youth, and I'm sure I'll miss the handsomely bound volumes that fill the shelves in my apartment as well (though I won't miss dusting them, or toting them around by the half-dozen whenever I go on vacation). The printed book is a beautiful object, 'elegant' in both the aesthetic and mathematical senses of the word, and its invention was a pivotal moment in the history of Western culture. But it is also a technology--a means, not an end. Like all technologies, it has a finite life span, and its time is almost up."

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