Shelf Awareness for Thursday, February 24, 2011

Marvel Press: Okoye to the People: A Black Panther Novel by Ibi Zoboi, illustrated by Noa Denmon

Knopf Publishing Group: Sea of Tranquility by Emily St John Mandel

Algonquin Books: The Wonders by Elena Medel, translated by Lizzie Davis and Thomas Bunstead

Minotaur Books: The Shadow House by Anna Downes

Soho Crime: One-Shot Harry by Gary Phillips

Quotation of the Day

'Wanted: A Bookstore' in Boston's South End

"The South End is missing something necessary for every great neighborhood. Something that can bring people with similar interests together while giving everyone the opportunity to keep their minds active during their leisure, learn more about the world, and explore the complexities of the human condition. No, I'm not talking about a biolab; the South End needs a bookstore.

"There are coffee shops, pizzerias, liquor stores, enough specialty stores to satisfy any hobby, stores for dogs, bakeries, and bakeries for dogs. But if you want to read a classic by Shakespeare, Hemingway, or Stephenie Meyer, you have to go to Back Bay or Downtown. If there were a bookstore in our community, people would be able to meet others with the same interests while browsing the shelves or find somebody reading the same book.... If there is anybody left in the South End who can read this, then please, please open a bookstore."

--Billy Palumbo in


Broadleaf Books: A Complicated Choice: Making Space for Grief and Healing in the Pro-Choice Movement by Katey Zeh


Image of the Day: Secret Valentines

Earlier this month, Booktenders Secret Garden Children's Bookstore & Gallery, Doylestown, Pa., celebrated its 28th anniversary--and Valentine's Day--with appearances by a range of children's authors and an illustrator. Here (from l.) Judith Schachner, author of Skippyjon Jones; Kathleen Van Cleve, author of Drizzle; Lee Harper, illustrator of Looking for the Easy Life; bookstore owner Ellen Mager; and Eileen and Jerry Spinelli, authors of Today I Will. Mager called it "an amazing day!"


G.P. Putnam's Sons: Booth by Karen Joy Fowler

Notes: Books Etc. to Close; Egyptian Book Trade Optimistic

Books Etc., Falmouth, Maine, will be shutting next Monday, February 28.

Owner Allan Schmid, a former president of the New England Independent Booksellers Association, told Shelf Awareness that the store "never fully recovered" from the effect of the financial meltdown in late 2008. "People stayed home in the fourth quarter of 2008," he said.

In April 2009, Schmid closed the Books Etc. store in Portland, consolidating in the Falmouth store, and changed the business model to emphasize more used books. Schmid was "quite pleased" with business last summer, but after moving to a slightly smaller space in September, "we were basically closed in October" because of construction and moving. The holiday season was solid, but January was "lousy."

The store simply wasn't "sustainable" in the current economy, Schmid said. "It probably would have worked if we had more time, but we ran out of time." He added that he had tried to find either buyers or partners in the last few years but was unsuccessful.

Despite the closing, Schmid said that he is optimistic about the future of bookstores and will miss customers the most. Schmid bought Books Etc. in 1987 and opened the Falmouth store in December 2000.

Allan Schmid may be reached at


Egyptian booksellers and publishers are expressing optimism about their post-revolution future, the Bookseller reported. Trevor Naylor, associate director of sales, marketing and distribution at the American University in Cairo Press, said, "Many Egyptian stores opened up again on Sunday for the first time; the atmosphere is absolutely wonderful not least because the Egyptians themselves are happy about the change. For a long time we had armored tanks parked outside the store. There was no point in opening because no one could get in--and when there are one million people outside your door you do get a little nervous.

"We are hopeful now that what has happened will have a positive effect on education, and publishers and booksellers will have more freedom to sell books. There will also be so many stories people will want to tell about what has happened here--that will mean more books."

Naylor has high hopes for the upcoming Tahrir Book Fair at the end of March. Describing it as an "an event which has emerged from the ashes of the cancelled Cairo Book Fair [Shelf Awareness, February 1, 2011]," the Bookseller noted that this event "is programmed to include thousands of books from Egypt and abroad, as well as author signings and seminars."

Added Naylor: "Everyone around the globe now associates Tahrir Square with freedom and revolution; we really wanted to do something that celebrates what happened here, and this seems like a great way to do it." 


Barnes & Noble is expanding the reach of its PubIt! digital publishing platform for independent publishers and self-published authors into bricks-and-mortar retail stores. Last night the company hosted the first in a planned series of PubIt! author events at its Santa Monica, Calif., location. A panel discussion featured PubIt! author H.P. Mallory; Beth Orsoff, a traditional turned self-published author; and Lisa Cortés, president of Cortés Films and executive producer of the Oscar-winning movie Precious.

"This in-store PubIt! event is a continuation of Barnes & Noble's strategy of bringing the digital and physical reading worlds together," said Theresa Horner, B&N's v-p, digital content. "We recognize the importance of uniting the reader with the author regardless of the book format, and we look forward to conducting many more events to support our PubIt! authors in our bookstores."

B&N said that since PubIt!'s launch four months ago, more than 11,000 independent publishers and authors have joined, adding approximately 65,000 new works to the Nook Bookstore.  


The not-so-gradual shift in emphasis from paper fliers to social media for publicizing events has helped Manhattan's legendary Nuyorican Poets Cafe grow "from a small, volunteer-led venue best known for weekly poetry events to a thriving arts center with partnerships across the city," the Wall Street Journal reported.

"Unlike some other arts venues, our demographic is very young, tech savvy, and diverse in every sense--geographically, economically, ethnically," said Daniel Gallant, Nuyorican's executive director. "They don't necessarily have money to go buy a magazine or newspaper, but they will go online and see what their friends are doing."

The Nuyorican's online success story includes a $10,000-per-month grant from Google, 30% increase in online ticketing, 40% jump in web traffic and double the number of events, from an average of one per night to two or more.

Frederick Vallaeys, a product specialist for Google's Adwords service, said, "One common mistake small businesses make is they don't spend enough time learning the keywords and choosing them correctly. [Nuyorican] really stood out in how they adapted and made changes."


"It seems like only yesterday that we were cursing Borders for driving local independent bookstores out of business. And yet, this time next month, America's streets will still be littered with thousands of independent bookstores. Borders stores? Not so much," wrote Paul Carr in TechCrunch, where he suggested that "the death of Borders might actually cause something no-one in the book trade ever thought they'd see: a resurgence in independent book stores.... As a lover of books, and of bookstores, I have to say that bright future excites the hell out of me--perhaps enough to stop me mourning the bazillion Borders reward points I've racked up over the years and which are now barely worth the plastic they were stored on."


"Savvy shoppers know that there aren't any true deals to be found at the liquidation sales of closing retailers, but most people aren't savvy shoppers," the Consumerist observed in highlighting selections from blog posts by Borders employees. Included among the high- and lowlights has been the discovery that "stores are doing record business now that the liquidators have arrived and the garish 'store closing' signs are up. Thanks to consumer confusion, business is good at the stores that aren't closing, either. Who knew bankruptcy was so good for business?" the Consumerist wrote.

Author Michele Lee, who works at one of the doomed stores and has been blogging about the experience, introduced her Day Five entry this way: "By this point we've all adjusted from an 'OMG how can the store close' to a 'Let's get this shit done as best as we can' mentality. Again, I love my coworkers because while work was light-hearted none of us are putting up with nonsense."


On the bookstore's blog, Pete Mulvihill of Green Apple Books, San Francisco, Calif., reassured customers about the shop's current health and future prospects. He also offered some perspective regarding the Borders situation, noting that while, as an indie, Green Apple was never a fan of the chain, "we will not dance on their grave."

Mulvihill asked his customers to decide for themselves what importance an indie presence has in their lives: "If you think Green Apple is a necessary part of the San Francisco literary landscape, then shop here, or shop here more often, or bring us new customers, or pay cash, or bring your own bag, or Yelp or blog about us. If you're in 'the media,' write about us or have us on your show. [Editor's note: or quote you in Shelf Awareness.] Forward our e-mail newsletter to friends who read. Or if you'd rather shop online, our website is very functional. And if you read e-books, give our Google e-books a chance. We can help.... But if you'd rather not have a bookstore in your community, shop mostly or only at Amazon. No one should shop at Green Apple out of charity or pity or noblesse oblige, but because you want what we've got. You mold the retail landscape with every purchase; vote wisely."


Lanora Hurley, owner of the Next Chapter Bookshop, Mequon, Wis., expressed similar thoughts in a letter she e-mailed to customers and posted on the website. It began: "My staff and I are very saddened by the loss of jobs in our area [Borders is closing all of its Milwaukee locations]; we are all too familiar with the pain and difficulty of watching our fellow booksellers lose a job they are very passionate about. However, we at Next Chapter Bookshop want to thank you, our loyal customers, for realizing that there is immense value in supporting a locally owned, independent bookshop."

Last month, owner Gary Weissbrot announced he would be closing Buffalo Street Books, Ithaca, N.Y. (Shelf Awareness, February 14, 2011), but the shop may still find new life as a co-op.

The Cornell Daily Sun reported that Buffalo Street Books staff member Bob Proehl recently proposed turning the store into a cooperative organization. He suggested a goal of raising $200,000 to buy the business, dividing that cost into $250 shares. As of February 21, "community members have already pledged $160,000 toward buying the bookstore," the Daily Sun wrote.

"The possibility that Buffalo Street Books will continue to operate is an absolute thrill for me both as a book lover and as a citizen of Ithaca," said Weissbrot. "I can't imagine living in a town that doesn't have a bookstore, even if I don't own it."


Threatened with closure last March, Mr. Mopps' Children's Books and Toys, Berkeley, Calif., is now operating under new ownership. The Daily Californian reported that Devin McDonald and Jenny Stevenson bought the business from Eugene Yamashita in October, closed for a month after the holidays to renovate, and have been open ever since. McDonald said the store has retained its loyal customers: "Generations of kids have been coming here. There are great-grandparents who brought their children in and now are bringing their great-grandchildren in."


Obituary note: Perry Moore, author of Hero--a YA novel about a gay superhero--and an executive producer of the The Chronicles of Narnia movie series, died last Thursday, the New York Times reported. He was 39.

The Book Lady's Blog featured an "I love big books" video, noting that in the midst of pondering the demise of Borders and other industry issues, a moment was needed "to celebrate books and feel hope for the future of literature without having to analyze anything. This is giving me a happy right now, and I hope it'll work for you, too."


Barry Miles, author of biographies of Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, William Burroughs, Charles Bukowski and other books about the Beat Generation, chose his top 10 counterculture books about the London scene for the Guardian. "I have an entire shelf of academic studies of bohemianism, the avant garde and the counterculture--the behavior of beatniks, mods, rockers, hippies and punks--but I always prefer the memoirs of the actual participants," he wrote.


"The Paris Review is not actual reviews of Paris, no." Look in the Quickmeme aisle for more Judgmental Bookseller Ostrich responses.

Book trailer of the day: The Band That Played On by Steve Turner (Thomas Nelson), the first book about the eight members of the Titanic's string band who famously kept playing as the ship sank.


Effective next Monday, Caroline Sun joins HarperCollins children's books as publicity manager. She was formerly a senior publicist at Penguin Young Readers Group. Earlier she worked at Macmillan.


Literary PR firm Hilsinger-Mendelson East announced a pair of appointments:

David Kass was promoted to associate director of publicity. Formerly a publicity manager, Kass has built specialties in business, politics, social issues and sports.

Iris Blasi joined the firm as coordinator of digital media, overseeing online interface and strategies to help authors promote their work across multiple digital platforms.


University of California Press: Savage Journey: Hunter S. Thompson and the Weird Road to Gonzo (1st ed.) by Peter Richardson

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Practically Radical

Tomorrow morning on CNN's American Morning: William Taylor, author of Practically Radical: Not-So-Crazy Ways to Transform Your Company, Shake Up Your Industry, and Challenge Yourself (Morrow, $27.99, 9780061734618).


Tomorrow on Oprah: Wayne Pacelle, author of The Bond: Our Kinship with Animals, Our Call to Defend Them (Morrow, $26.99, 9780061969782).


This Weekend on Book TV: Susan Jacoby's Never Say Die

Book TV airs on C-Span 2 this weekend 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 website.

Saturday, February 26

2 p.m. David Philipps, author of Lethal Warriors: When the New Band of Brothers Came Home (Palgrave Macmillan, $25, 9780230104402), talks about the 506th Infantry Regiment, which experienced some of the fiercest fighting in Iraq.

3 p.m. Wendy Kopp, founder of Teach for America, talks about her book A Chance to Make History: What Works and What Doesn't in Providing an Excellent Education for All (PublicAffairs, $25.99, 9781586487409). (Re-airs Monday at 1:15 a.m.)

7:45 p.m. Michael Scheuer, who served as chief of the CIA's Bin Laden Issue Station from 1996 to 1999 and as an advisor to that unit from 2001 to 2004, discusses his book Osama Bin Laden (Oxford University Press, $19.95, 9780199738663). (Re-airs Sunday at 10 p.m.)

10 p.m. After Words. AARP's senior editor for state news Sylvia Smith interviews Susan Jacoby, author of Never Say Die: The Myth and Marketing of the New Old Age (Pantheon, $27.95, 9780307377944). Jacoby contends that Baby Boomers need to distinguish between "marketing hype" and reality. (Re-airs Sunday at 9 p.m. and Monday at 12 a.m. and 3 a.m.)

Sunday, February 27

12:15 a.m. William McGowan, author of Gray Lady Down: What the Decline and Fall of The New York Times Means for America (Encounter Books, $25.95, 9781594034862), argues that Times has adopted a liberal ideological agenda. (Re-airs Sunday at 7:15 .p.m)

3 p.m. Nicholas Phillipson, author of Adam Smith: An Enlightened Life (Yale University Press, $32.50, 9780300169270), examines Smith's philosophical and economic thinking and explores his best known work, The Wealth of Nations. (Re-airs Monday at 6:30 a.m.)


Television: Are You There Vodka? It's Me, Chelsea

Laura Prepon (That 70's Show) has the lead role in NBC's comedy series pilot based on Chelsea Handler's bestselling book Are You There Vodka? It's Me, Chelsea. reported that Prepon will play Chelsea Hanson, "a fresh-faced single cocktail waitress highly opinionated and open about her love to drink and have sex."


Movies: Golf in the Kingdom Premieres

Golfers have been waiting a long time for a film adaptation of Michael Murphy's classic novel Golf in the Kingdom, first published in 1972. The independently made movie, which will be released next summer, premiered last weekend in Los Angeles just before the PGA Tour's Northern Trust Open at Riviera CC, Pacific Palisades, Calif. NBC Sports noted that Golf in the Kingdom "is a global bestseller and has inspired a Shivas Irons Society, an organization dedicated to the values Murphy’s character learns through the book." You can learn more about the film here.


Books & Authors

Spring Okra Picks

The following are 2011 Spring Okra Picks, "great southern books, fresh off the vine," that members of the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance plan to handsell:


Georgia Bottoms by Mark Childress (Little, Brown)
Under the Mercy Trees by Heather Newton (Harper Paperbacks)
Electric Barracuda by Tim Dorsey (HarperCollins)
Gone with a Handsomer Man by Michael Lee West (Minotaur Books)
The Dry Grass of August by Anna Jean Mayhew (Kensington)


Tales from a Free-Range Childhood by Donald Davis (John F. Blair)
High on the Hog by Jessica Harris (Bloomsbury)
The New Southern Garden Cookbook: Enjoying the Best from Homegrown Gardens, Farmers' Markets, Roadside Stands, and CSA Farm Boxes by Sheri Castle (University of North Carolina Press)
A Southerly Course: Recipes and Stories from Close to Home by Martha Hall Foose (Crown)
Working South: Paintings and Sketches by Mary Whyte (University of South Carolina Press)
Alabama Afternoons: Profile and Conversations by Roy Hoffman (University of Alabama Press)
Fighting the Devil in Dixie by Wayne Greenhaw (Lawrence Hill Books)


Book Review

Book Review: Enough About Love

Enough about Love by Herve Le Tellier (Other Press, $14.95 Paperback, 9781590513996, February 2011)

Though Anna and Louise don't know each other, they have much in common. Both are married, with children, and both women are relatively happy in their relationships. Then each is hit with a coup de foudre, that quintessential French phenomenon--and they are wildly, deliciously in love with men who are not their husbands! This doesn't happen exclusively to women in French novels, but it happens so beautifully to them--no hand-wringing, angst, guilty speeches, tears, what-about-the-children scenes. Au contraire, they enjoy unreconstructed great sex, many stolen moments, lies told with impunity, hand-holding in dimly lit bistros--the whole enchilada... or would that be a crepe? Quite refreshing. If you're going to do it, might as well enjoy it.

These husbands and wives are smart, successful people with engaging careers, no lack of funds, access to everything and unobtrusive children of whom they are all four inordinately fond. What happens to the women is simply the frosting on what is already quite a lovely cake. Anna is a doctor married to a doctor, very squared away, when she meets Yves, a rather feckless writer. She is besotted and really can't explain why. Her analyst, Thomas Le Gall, meets Louise at a party and is immediately smitten. Anna talks to Thomas about Yves, and Thomas fantasizes about Louise. Of course, the progress of the romances goes far beyond fantasy, including weekends away with the children and being found out by the respective husbands. Then it is decision time.

Le Tellier handles these extremely complicated lives as one would a soufflé--lightly. Not that he doesn't take his characters and their situations seriously; he does, and he also sees the comedic aspects of this kind of teenage love at 40. Is it love, infatuation or merely lust?

Each woman makes a different decision, entirely right for her. Everyone is very civilized; in fact, the reader is not subjected to anything tawdry or unseemly throughout this tale of the exploration of love, responsibility, relationships, attraction and the courage to make a decision, whether it is to stay or to go.

Thomas, the psychiatrist, says at one point, "An attentive reader will always learn more, and more quickly, from good authors than from life." This very good author has much to teach in his quirky, occasionally self-indulgent but always entertaining novel.--Valerie Ryan

Shelf Talker: Two women fall in love in early middle age, enjoy themselves immensely, try very hard never to be cruel and, ultimately, make the decison that is right for each of them. Very French, very enjoyable.


The Bestsellers

Top-Selling Titles in Chicago and Milwaukee

The following were the bestselling books at independent bookstores in and around Chicago and Milwaukee during the week ending Sunday, February 20:

Hardcover Fiction

1. Clara and Mr. Tiffany by Susan Vreeland
2. Swamplandia by Karen Russell
3. Room by Emma Donoghue
4. While Mortals Sleep by Kurt Vonnegut
5. Fadeaway Girl by Martha Grimes

Hardcover Nonfiction

1. Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand
2. Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua
3. Hey Buddy by Gary W. Moore
4. Cleopatra by Stacy Schiff
5. A Widow's Story by Joyce Carol Oates

Paperback Fiction

1. The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman
2. Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese
3. The Postmistress by Sarah Blake
4. Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
5. True Grit by Charles Portis

Paperback Nonfiction

1. Just Kids by Patti Smith
2. Nurtureshock by Po Bronson
3. The Big Short by Michael Lewis
4. Awkward Family Photos by Mike Bender
5. Country Driving by Peter Hessler


1. Silverlicious by Victoria Kann
2. When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead
3. Papertoy Monsters by Bri Castleforte
4. When I Grow Up by Al Yankovic
5. Little White Rabbit by Kevin Henkes

Reporting bookstores: Anderson's, Naperville and Downers Grove; Read Between the Lynes, Woodstock; the Book Table, Oak Park; the Book Cellar, Lincoln Square; Lake Forest Books, Lake Forest; the Bookstall at Chestnut Court, Winnetka; Women and Children First, Chicago; Boswell Book Company, Milwaukee; and Next Chapter Bookshop, Meqoun, Wis.

[Many thanks to the reporting booksellers and Carl Lennertz!]


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