Shelf Awareness for Thursday, January 26, 2006

Harper Voyager: Dragon Rider (Soulbound Saga #1) by Taran Matharu

Page Street YA: The Final Curse of Ophelia Cray by Christine Calella

HarperOne: I Finally Bought Some Jordans: Essays by Michael Arceneaux

Tor Nightfire: Ghost Station by S.A. Barnes

Severn River Publishing: Covert Action (Command and Control #5) by J.R. Olson and David Bruns

Scholastic Press: Heroes: A Novel of Pearl Harbor by Alan Gratz


Notes: Nasdijj No Navaho?; Bookstore-Library Synergy?

Uh oh. Shades of J.T. Leroy and James Frey. L.A. Weekly has a story entitled "Navahoax" claiming that Native American memoir writer Nasdijj is actually Timothy Patrick Barrus, a writer of gay erotica. Skeptics have included some Native Americans like Sherman Alexie and book reviewers.


The ABA's first annual Winter Institute, two days of educational sessions like those the association holds during BookExpo America, begins today in Long Beach, Calif., with a striking number of attendees--altogether 360 people have registered for the event.


Ron Chamblin, owner of the Chamblin Bookmine used and rare bookstore in Jacksonville, Fla., is locating the new branch of his store almost next door to the new main branch of the Jacksonville Public Library downtown. "I've got five storage buildings full of books that I don't have room to stock right now," Chamblin told the Jacksonville Daily Record. "I've been looking for a downtown location for about a year now and being a half a block from the library is a great place to be."

Chamblin said his new store won't compete with the library but will offer readers other options like used books, hard-to-find titles and the chance to trade in books. "We have books the library doesn't have," he added.


Reach Out and Read, the national organization that promotes literacy by encouraging pediatricians to prescribe reading to children, has won the Northern California Children's Booksellers' Association's annual Otter Award. The group will be honored at a dinner to be held Saturday, March 11, at the Radisson Miyako Hotel in San Francisco. Speakers will include authors Nikki Grimes, Gennifer Choldenko and Kate DiCamillo.

For more information and tickets, contact Linden Tree at 800-949-3313, any NCCBA member store or Luan Stauss at Laurel Book Store at 510-531-2073.

HarperOne: Be a Revolution: How Everyday People Are Fighting Oppression and Changing the World--And How You Can, Too by Ijeoma Oluo

Another Top Borders Exec to Leave

Just two days after Greg Josefowicz announced that he will retire as president, CEO and chairman of Borders Group within the next two years, another top Borders executive indicated that he will be leaving company.

Effective February 3, executive v-p and chief product officer Mike Spinozzi will depart Borders for another position that hasn't been made public yet. Borders spokesperson Anne Roman told Shelf Awareness that Spinozzi's departure has "no relation" to Josefowicz's retirement.

Spinozzi was hired by Borders in 2001 after spending 19 years at Jewel-Osco, the grocery and drugstore division of Albertson's where Josefowicz worked before joining Borders. Spinozzi's range of responsibilities at Borders included brand development and instituting the category management program.

Harpervia: Behind You Is the Sea by Susan Muaddi Darraj

Media and Movies

Frey, Talese and 'Journalists' Join Oprah

Oprah says that "like you, she has a million little questions," according to her Web site. Whether they're softball or not, she intends to ask a few questions today in the first post-debacle appearance by James Frey on the Oprah Winfrey Show. Also on hand for the live show: Doubleday editor Nan Talese and "leading journalists, who've had strong opinions."

Talese may be able to clear up one of the million questions. During his January 11 interview with Larry King, Frey suggested that Doubleday decided to publish the book as a memoir after he and his agent presented it as "a novel or as a nonfiction book." Talese has since told the New York Observer that she had always considered the book nonfiction.

In other Frey matters, at least three lawsuits have been filed by and on behalf of readers who feel duped. The latest, filed in federal court in Seattle, seeks damages on behalf of consumers for the "lost time" they spent reading the book. A legal expert consulted by the Seattle Times thought chances of success were slim.

University of California Press: The Accidental Ecosystem: People and Wildlife in American Cities by Peter S. Alagona

Media Heat: American and Hershey Dreams

This morning Good Morning America features economist Steven D. Levitt, co-author with Stephen J. Dubner of the bestselling Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything (Morrow, $25.95, 006073132X).


Today on the Today Show, Liz Perle takes a stab at explaining how women view money, as explored in her new book, Money, A Memoir: Women, Emotions, and Cash (Holt, $23, 080507712X).


Today the Diane Rehm Show's treat is Michael D'Antonio, author of the new chocolate mogul biography, Hershey: Milton S. Hershey's Extraordinary Life of Wealth, Empire, and Utopian Dreams (S&S, 0743264096, $25).


Today on the Leonard Lopate Show: French thinker and journalist Bernard-Henri Levy talks about his mosaic portrait of the U.S., as framed in his new book, American Vertigo: Traveling America in the Footsteps of Tocqueville (Random House, $24.95, 1400064341). He'll also be on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart tonight.


Today on KCRW's Bookworm: Joan Didion, author of The Year of Magical Thinking (Knopf, $23.95, 140004314X). As the show describes it: "How does a writer handle personal tragedy? In this conversation, Joan Didion explores the possibility that writing about her husband's death and her daughter's illness was an essential activity, enabling her to both grieve and mourn."


Today on the View: 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).


Yesterday Fresh Air talked with Jackie Spinner, a Washington Post reporter who spent two "tours of duty" in Iraq and whose book about the experience is Tell Them I Didn't Cry: A Young Journalist's Story of Joy, Loss, and Survival in Iraq (Scribner, $23, 074328853X).

This Weekend on Book TV: Barnes on Bush

Book TV airs on C-Span 2 from 8 a.m. Saturday to 8 a.m. Monday and focuses on political and historical books as well as the book industry. The following are highlights for this coming weekend. For more information, go to Book TV's Web site.

Saturday, January 28

7 p.m. Encore Booknotes. In a segment first aired in 1993, Howard Kurtz, the Washington Post's media writer and host of CNN's Reliable Sources, talked about his book Media Circus: The Trouble with America's Newspapers (Crown). The scandalous trouble, he wrote, is that since Watergate, print media has emphasized scandal.

8 p.m. After Words. Peter Beinart, editor of the New Republic, interviews Fred Barnes, executive editor of the Weekly Standard and author of Rebel-in-Chief: How George W. Bush Is Redefining the Conservative Movement and Transforming America (Crown, $23.95, 0307336492). (Re-airs Sunday at 6 p.m. and 9 p.m.)

Book Review

Mandahla: A Fool's Gold Reviewed

Fool's Gold: A Story of Ancient Spanish Treasure, Two Pounds of Pot, and the Young Lawyer Almost Left Holding the Bag by Bill Merritt (Bloomsbury Publishing PLC, $23.95 Hardcover, 9781596910997, January 2006)

Your new diet and exercise program has fizzled out, it's still gray and cold and wet, and you need a good laugh. Look no further, because Bill Merritt has come to your rescue with A Fool's Gold. Set in the early 80s in Oregon, it's a convoluted, unruly, and engaging story of pirate gold, lots of marijuana and a cast of screwball characters. Freshly out of law school, Merritt is hired by Thaddeus Silk, a rascally lawyer who "had cut so many corners he was living entirely among the curves." His secretary, Jolene, wore clothes that "were much cheaper and more rumpled than would have been considered good form at most law firms. But then, most law firms wouldn't have let her keep beer at her desk." Jolene's fiercely devoted boyfriend Tail Pipe was stuck at Step Six of AA, constantly repenting, not "an efficient admitter" and never quite sure what he had already owned up to. Silk's sister Sophie bellowed "secrets and clients' confidences and glittering bits of insanity into the air like badly choreographed fireworks." And that's just the office.
The clients, who Merritt inherited after Silk died several months into their partnership, were two--tenacious, paranoid Grady Jackson, digging up the Oregon beach for treasure from a Spanish ship, guided by three cornerstones from King Solomon's Temple and scripture from Samuel II; and Abby Birdsong, operating on Marijuana Standard Time, always stinking of dope and trailing marijuana seeds from her straw bag wherever she walks. This twisted tale features a whiskey-pouring judge, an ambitious DA with a sorrowful look, duplicitous sheriffs, the DEA, a jaded archaeologist, rural talk-shows and a few surprising trials where, "in the land of Fresh out of Ideas, the half-baked scheme is king." The stories of Grady and Abby come together almost two decades later in an astonishing way, after a hilarious journey through a young lawyer's initiation into absurdity.--Marilyn Dahl

Deeper Understanding

Sidelines Sales: Warm and Fuzzy; Mind Challenges

[Editors' Note: The following is part one of a survey of recent sidelines sales at bookstores around the country.]

Like many booksellers, Mystery Lovers Bookshop in Oakmont, Pa., carries a range of sidelines at Christmas. "The rest of the year, it's kind of a mixed bag," Buff Rodman told Shelf Awareness. For the second season in a row, the Disappearing Civil Liberties Mug was popular, perhaps all the more resonant after the revelation in December about National Security Agency spying on Americans. The mug features the complete text of the Bill of Rights, but the heat of a hot beverage inside makes the text melt away temporarily. "We sold 40-50 of these the week before Christmas," Rodman commented. (The supplier of the mugs is the Unemployed Philosophers Guild, a veritable treasure trove of politically correct and incorrect items.)

Another popular Mystery Lovers sideline, possibly related, is Warm Whiskers Herbal Wraps, stuffed animals filled with lavender-scented buckwheat that can be heated or cooled and worn on the neck or back to relieve tension. But the store likely will not restock them until late this year. "We're not known for sideline items," Rodman explained. "It's really only during the holidays that people think to buy non-book items from us."

By contrast, Blue Willow Bookstore in Houston, Tex., which boasts "an awesome selection" of gift items on its Web site, does "a lot with puzzles and games," owner Valerie Koehler said. "We try to carry unusual games, ones that you aren't likely to find at Wal-Mart." Hot games this past season included Blokus, a strategy board game, and Flip Side, made by Think Fun, a manufacturer of "mind challenging games." Also extremely popular: Find-it, a plastic tube that has lots of little stones and hidden items in it, kind of like a 3-D Where's Waldo. (Find out more about Find-it at 877-346-3482.) Koehler recently ordered another three cases.

Sales of games and puzzles at Blue Willow doubled in December 2005 compared to the same month a year earlier. "We have a lot of $30 family games, more expensive than most books," Koehler said. "We expected the percent of sidelines sales to have risen, but it has remained at 17% of total sales for the past three years." At the same time, total sales are up 10%, so the store is selling more books, too.

Blue Willow also carries plush animals, and like most bookstores that go fuzzy, Blue Willow often combines them with books. Curious George is especially popular now--in anticipation of the movie opening February 10. During the holiday season, Koehler said, Raggedy Ann was a "sentimental favorite with grandmothers."

Koehler often looks for generic stuffed animals, especially armadillos (which are big in Texas), that although not specific to any one book, can still work as a tie-in.  "We do a lot of gifts and provide free gift-wrapping," she commented. "There aren't any toy stores in the area, so we've taken that lead." Despite the emphasis on gifts, Koehler declared adamantly: "We are a bookstore, not a toy store."

Likewise, Harry W. Schwartz Bookshops in Milwaukee, Wis., has done well with a variety of plush toys, including the Melissa and Doug lines, according to Catherine Wallerg, sidelines buyer. "We put together a package combining their penguin (which stands two feet high) and The March of the Penguins book and DVD for the holidays," she said. "We're doing it again for Valentine's Day."

In addition, Uglydoll keychains and dolls (from Prettyugly) are all the rage with young adults. "It's an urban cute kind of thing," Wallerg said. "I keep expecting them to stop selling, but they keep going." Jennifer Weiner had an Uglydoll pictured on the back of her recent book, Goodnight Nobody: A Novel, and the dolls have appeared in several movies as well.

In a different kind of cross-merchandising effort, Schwartz packaged The Gift of Nothing by Patrick McDonnell with an empty box. It was nothing if not successful: the store plans to repeat the combination for Valentine's Day.--Maria Heidkamp

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