Shelf Awareness for Tuesday, March 8, 2011


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

Minotaur Books: The Shadow House by Anna Downes

Soho Crime: One-Shot Harry by Gary Phillips

Ballantine Books: The Other Dr. Gilmer: Two Men, a Murder, and an Unlikely Fight for Justice by Benjamin Gilmer

Quotation of the Day

Indie Bookstore: 'A Very Human Experience (Even for Our Cat)'

"Being in a bookstore is a very human experience (even for our cat). I'm lucky that I work with interesting and smart people that like to think and read and talk. Some are in bands, some are writing books, some are carving leather into sharks and bats. When I come into work I get to be around some pretty fun folks. Then there are the customers and people of Vermont Avenue. Every one a story, a possible enlightenment, a life. We have our regulars--some crazy, some brilliant, many both. The humanness of the bookstore is special. I worked in a hardware store when I was in high school. You know what I used to think was so cool about working in a hardware store (besides sticking my hands in a bucket of new bolts and learning to fix a toilet)? Seeing the range of humanity in America. But the bookstore is even better--people go to a bookstore to escape, to learn, to be inspired, to explore, to be turned on, and mostly because they want to, not because the faucet leaks or a sprinkler head broke. These are the people I want to surround me!"

--Steven Salardino, manager of Skylight Books, Los Angeles, Calif., in the shop's March e-newsletter.

 


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


News

Image of the Day: Local Heroine

Last week McLean and Eakin Booksellers, Petoskey, Mich., hosted Paula McLain, author of The Paris Wife (Ballantine), about Ernest Hemingway's first wife, Hadley. The event drew a full house, in part, co-owner Jessilynn Norcross said, because the town is located near Walloon Lake, where Hemingway spent much of his youth and where he and Hadley were married. "Paula is not only a wonderful, charming writer, but a beautiful speaker as well," Norcross added. "The crowd was enthralled, and the question and answer time was full of great questions."



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


Notes: E-Book Evolution; B&N Sale Slump

Sign of the times. Avon Books is launching Avon Impulse, a new imprint dedicated to digital publishing that will feature e-books and POD novels and novellas by current Avon authors and that aims to "seek new talent to nurture in an e-book marketplace that finds Romance experiencing expansive growth."

"Romance readers have been among the first to embrace books digitally," Liate Stehlik, senior v-p and publisher of William Morrow and Avon Books at HarperCollins. "Their passion has encouraged us to introduce a line of romance e-books, which empowers Avon to publish more quickly, with an eye to what's trending in fiction."

The company said that Avon Impulse authors will benefit from "the same platforms" that Avon authors have as well as from "a dedicated 'five-point' marketing and publicity platform" that includes "cross promotion, digital marketing and publicity, social media outreach, interactive assets and coaching, as well as targeted online retail placement strategies."

The company said that Avon Impulse e-books will be sold via all online retailers. POD copies will be available from online book retailers. According to the imprint's website, Avon is taking this step in part because "traditional channels for mass market genre fiction are shrinking. Fewer grocery stores, drug stores, mall stores and superstores are carrying a broad selection of romance titles. While there is a strong consumer market for Avon titles, the channels that we have always depended on to grow new voices and publish broadly are under pressure."

Avon Impulse's first title is A Lady's Wish, an original novella by Katharine Ashe that makes its debut next Tuesday, March 15. The imprint aims to release at least a title a week.

Avon Impulse will pay no advance to authors but will offer 25% royalties, beginning with the first title. After 10,000 copies of an e-book are sold, the royalty rate rises to 50%.

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USA Today has an overview of the strong reaction by librarians and others against HarperCollins's new policy of limiting the lending of its e-books to 26 library patrons--after which the e-book disappears. Some have started a boycott of the publisher and are "protesting what some consider the digital 'destruction' of books."

In an open letter to librarians on its strikingly named Library Love Fest blog, HarperCollins stated: "Selling e-books to libraries in perpetuity, if left unchanged, would undermine the emerging e-book eco-system, hurt the growing e-book channel, place additional pressure on physical bookstores, and in the end lead to a decrease in book sales and royalties paid to authors.... If a library decides to repurchase an e-book later in the book's life, the price will be significantly lower as it will be pegged to a paperback price."

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Barnes & Noble is having trouble selling itself, Reuters reported, saying that the bookseller's "efforts to find a buyer have slowed to a crawl, erasing recent gains in its stock price, as potential suitors question the bookseller's ability to compete against formidable rivals."

B&N put itself up for sale last summer, and at one point about a dozen potential suitors had shown interest. Yesterday the company's stock closed at $11.79 a share, its lowest price in 15 years, since shortly after going public.

"The [low] stock price isn't the draw or the deterrent," one anonymous investment banker told Reuters. "There's no strategic (bidder) out there that would want them. They could appeal to private equity, but there's been no rabid interest so far."

Standard & Poor analyst Mike Souers said that another factor is chairman Len Riggio, who owns about 30% of the company and has said that he might be interested in taking the company private. "It's likely that investors are just coming to terms with the fact that Leonard Riggio is unlikely to cede power," Souers said. "Unless it's a private takeover led by him, it's unlikely to happen."

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In a related story, Time examined the contrasts between Borders, which just filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, and B&N, which is shifting emphasis to e-books and its e-reader, the Nook.

"Barnes & Noble is just a better-run bookstore," Bill Kavaler of Oscar Gruss & Son told Time. "They have better locations, their stores are brighter and it's better stocked. And while there's some discomfort with Barnes & Noble's management, you can't say they're not trying to run a good book chain."

Time also noted "a surprising comeback" by many indies. One example: Greenlight Bookstore, Brooklyn, N.Y., whose co-owner Jessica Stockton Bagnulo said, "We tailor our inventory to fit our community" and noted that the store's emphases on local authors and events "are things that work for us that wouldn't work for anyone else."

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Should Amazon give away free Kindles? As CNN's Amy Gahran noted, "In a way, Amazon has already been giving away Kindles for awhile--in the form of the free Kindle smartphone, tablet, and computer apps. Right now, about 6 million U.S. adults own e-readers--but this field is getting much more crowded.... The Kindle's core business model has always been to sell books, not devices. So a free Kindle seems like a potentially savvy business move.

Gahran added that if Amazon doesn't lead the way in offering a free e-reader, "someone certainly will." 

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According to WDEF-TV, Dalton, Ga., declared Monday Charlie McClurg Day, honoring the nine-year-old boy who organized a letter-writing campaign that resulted in Books-A-Million opening a store in the town (Shelf Awareness, December 6, 2010).

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The latest additions to Algonquin Books' Booksellers Rock! series is Jay D. Peterson, manager of Magers & Quinn Booksellers, Minneapolis, Minn., and a board member and volunteer tutor at Rock Star Supply Co., a nonprofit inspired by 826Valencia (shown on r. with author Per Petterson).

Our favorite of the q&a's came in response to the question about why he does what he does:

"Last Tuesday, I began my day by chatting and looking at 300-year-old books with a Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist (Paul Harding). I've shared podiums with my favorite authors and beers with some of the brightest people in the business. I've barbecued with Valentino Achak Deng (subject of Dave Eggers' What Is the What) and eaten some of David Byrne's leftover sushi. Something tells me a career in accounting wouldn't have panned out this well."

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Book trailer of the day: Bent Road by Lori Roy (Dutton), which will be published March 31.

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Sandra Boynton's bestselling The Going to Bed Book is the basis of her debut ebook app, released by Boynton Moo Media, a partnership between Boynton and Loud Crow Interactive. Launched on Friday, The Going to Bed Book app hit #18 in Apple's ebook app store. British Invasion singer Billy J. Kramer is the voice when "the big guy reads it" (as demonstrated in the trailer). The price in Apple's App Store is $1.99 for iPhone/iTouch; $2.99 for the iPad. Next up for Boynton Moo Media: Moo, Baa, La La La! and Hippos Go Berserk!

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The Louisiana Weekly spoke with a pair of New Orleans indies--Community Book Center and Afro-American Book Stop--about the pending closure of two Borders locations in the city.

"The closing of our local Borders store really is bittersweet to me. I feel for the employees who will lose their jobs in this tough economy," said Michele Lewis, owner of Afro-American Book Stop. She added that it also hurts African-American authors. "Most Borders across the country have pretty large African-American sections, so I'm concerned about the future growth of African American titles, authors, books, etc. Roughly 30% of the total amount of book sales for African-American authors come from Borders, so a number of our authors will no longer get publishing contracts. There are only about one-fourth of African-American bookstores across the country that were in business 10 to 15 years ago that are still open today."

After Hurricane Katrina, Lewis reopened in New Orleans East because the East was home: "For me, it was about opening my store in my community. This is where my business started.... It's been a struggle. We're holding on, but we're not doing as well as we did at one point. I think because we have so few shopping areas here in the east, we automatically drive to Metairie or the westbank to do our shopping; a lot of my customers will go out to those areas, because that's what we were forced to do post-Katrina. It's vital that I find a way to remind them that we are here and we want to be a part of this community."

Community Book Center owner Vera Warren is also urging residents and neighbors to support their local bookseller. "Independent Black bookstores are closing all over the country," she said. "When owners announce they're closing, people are like 'Why are you doing that?' and 'We can't let that happen.' Well, if I haven't seen you in the store in seven or eight months, that might be the reason I need to close.

"Every business in your community is worth investing in--particularly if the people who own and operate it look like you. But we continue to go to other people to spend money, and come back to the community when we need something. The key is to realize the importance of investing in our community institutions that serve our people all of time and not some of the time. We need to support each other; or the next time your child is running for queen or whatever, go to Amazon and ask them to take out an ad: that's what it boils down to."

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The Women's National Book Association New York City is presenting a panel on digital books, e-books, enhanced e-books and apps on Tuesday, March 29, 5:30-7:30 p.m. at the Association of American Publishers offices, 71 Fifth Ave. in New York City. Appropriately, considering the subject, there will be live streaming video broadcast and live chat live via Twitter and Facebook. Attendees may bring questions or send them in advance to publicity@bookbuzz.com.

Panelists are Peter Costanzo, director of digital content at F+W Media; Andrea Fleck-Nisbet, digital publishing director, Workman Publishing; Ami Greko, senior vendor relations manager, U.S., Kobo; and Evan Ratliff, editor of the Atavist and author of Lifted, a Kindle Single book.

The moderator and organizer is Susannah Greenberg of Susannah Greenberg Public Relations.

Cost is $10 to non-members and $5 to students. Free for WNBA and AAP members. RSVP using the subject line "digital books" to programs@wnba-nyc.org.

 


Little Bigfoot: A Home Under the Stars by Andy Chou Musser


Media and Movies

Media Heat: Jeff Greenfield's Alternate Histories

This morning on Imus in the Morning: Jeff Greenfield, author of Then Everything Changed: Stunning Alternate Histories of American Politics: JFK, RFK, Carter, Ford, Reagan (Putnam, $26.95, 9780399157066). He is also on Charlie Rose tomorrow night.

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Today on NPR's Diane Rehm Show: Stacey Lannert, author of Redemption: A Story of Sisterhood, Survival, and Finding Freedom Behind Bars (Crown, $24.99, 9780307592132).

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Tomorrow on CNN's American Morning: Linda Fairstein, author of Silent Mercy (Dutton, $26.95, 9780525952022).

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Tomorrow night on Conan: Edmund Morris, author of Colonel Roosevelt (Random House, $35, 9780375504877).

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Tomorrow night on the Colbert Report: David Brooks, author of The Social Animal: The Hidden Sources of Love, Character, and Achievement (Random House, $27, 9781400067602). He will also appear on Tavis Smiley.

 


Movies: The Prophet; Another BS Night in Suck City

An animated feature based on the Kahlil Gibran's The Prophet is being produced by actress Salma Hayek's Ventanarosa Productions, along with Clark Peterson and Ron Senkowski. According to Deadline.com, the "intention is for different directors to helm each chapter, with an interconnecting theme and a musical through-line."

Among the filmmakers expected work on the adaptation are Sylvain Chomet (The Triplets of Belleville), John Stevenson (Kung Fu Panda), Marjane Satrapi (Persepolis), Chris Landreth (Oscar-winning short Ryan), Tomm Moore (The Secret of Kells), Nina Paley (Sita Sings the Blues), Bill Plympton (Guard Dog and Your Face) and Kunio Kato (Oscar-winning short Tsumiki no ie).

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Julianne Moore has been added to the cast the film version of Nick Flynn's memoir Another Bullshit Night in Suck City, which stars Robert De Niro, Paul Dano and Olivia Thirlby, Deadline.com reported. Paul Weitz is directing.

 


Television: House of Cards

Kevin Spacey will star in and executive produce a series based on the political thriller House of Cards by Michael Dobbs, which was also a 1990 BBC miniseries about a nefariously ambitious politician (Ian Richardson) at the end of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's tenure. Deadline.com reported that the pilot episode of the new project, set in the U.S., will be directed by David Fincher (The Social Network), who previously worked with Spacey on Se7en.

 



Books & Authors

Attainment: New Titles Out Next Week

Selected new titles appearing next Monday and Tuesday, March 14 and 15:

Toys by James Patterson and Neil McMahon (Little, Brown, $27.99, 9780316097369) follows a married couple who are also super-human secret agents.

The 17 Day Diet: A Doctor's Plan Designed for Rapid Results by Mike Moreno (Free Press, $25, 9781451648652) is a new weight-loss plan.

A World Without Heroes by Brandon Mull (Aladdin, $19.99, 9781416997924) is the first entry in the new Beyonders series, in which a teenager is transported to a perilous fantasy world.

The Vampire Diaries: The Return: Midnight by L.J. Smith (HarperTeen, $17.99, 9780061720857) is a supernatural vampire tale for young adults.


Now in paperback:

Kraken by China Mieville (Del Rey, $16, 9780345497505).

Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet
by Bill McKibben (St. Martin's Griffin, $14.99, 9780312541194).

WikiLeaks and the Age of Transparency by Micah L. Sifry and Andrew Rasiej (Counterpoint, $15.95, 9781582437798).

 


GBO March Book Pick: Happy Birthday, Turk!

The German Book Office's book pick for March is Happy Birthday, Turk! by Jakob Arjouni, translated by Anselm Hollo, which Melville House published on February 25.

Concerning the book, the GBO wrote: "When a Turkish laborer is stabbed to death in Frankfurt's red light district, the local police see no need to work overtime. But private detective Kemel Kayankaya, the son of a Turkish immigrant, smells a rat. The dead man wasn't the kind of guy who spent time with prostitutes. What gives?
 
"The deeper he digs, the more Kayankaya finds that the victim was a good guy, a poor immigrant just trying to look out for his family. So who wanted him dead, and why? On the way to finding out, Kayankaya has run-ins with prostitutes and drug addicts, gets beaten up by anonymous thugs, survives a gas attack, and suffers several close encounters with a Fiat.
 
"And then there's the police cover-up he stumbles upon…"

Jakob Arjouni's novel Magic Hoffman was shortlisted for the IMPAC Award, but he's best known for his four books about private detective Kemal Kayankaya, which have been bestsellers throughout Europe and won the German Thriller Prize.
 
Anselm Hollo is a poet and translator who was born in Finland and has lived in the U.S. since 1967. He has published more than 40 volumes of poetry, taught creative writing and in 2004 won the Harold Morton Landon Translation Award.

 


Book Review

Book Review: Sailing by Starlight

Sailing by Starlight: In Search of Treasure Island: A Conjecture by Alex Capus (Haus Pub., $19.95 Hardcover, 9781906598785, February 2011)

Most boys--and many girls, too--spent hours poring over maps purporting to show sites of buried treasure and dreaming of sailing to far-flung islands in search of gold and jewels. Are we predisposed to this, or were we in thrall after reading Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island? Whatever the explanation of those childhood dreams, Swiss novelist Alex Capus stirs up memories with his captivating real-life adventure yarn; he embraces tales of piratical derring-do on the high seas and accounts of fruitless expeditions by obsessed diggers after rich hoards--and, best of all, he spins out a tantalizing mystery involving Stevenson, in thrall himself, it seems, to searching for buried treasure until his dying day.

In 1821, Lima, Peru was in chaos; it was, Capus notes, "Spanish America's capital of capitals and then one of the wealthiest cities in the world." City leaders decided to safeguard the cathedral's enormous cache of treasures by spiriting them out of the city. They moved everything to the Mary Dear, docked at Callao, Lima's port. Captain William Thompson left port to move the treasure out of harm's way, but the Mary Dear and its cargo were never seen again. Thompson and some of his crew reappeared later with a hair-raising tale of sinking at sea and loss of the treasure. Was that story true, or merely a cover for a daring act of piracy?

Nobody believed Thompson's tall tale, and plenty of stories about the possible "real" location of the loot followed his suspicious return. Numerous maps of small islands with markings indicating the purported location of the Lima booty began circulating. Capus set himself the task of sorting out conflicting stories about the Lima treasure and made a series of tantalizing discoveries. Another mystery grows once he examines the circumstances surrounding Robert Louis Stevenson's move to Samoa, a place definitely not good for his precarious health. Did Stevenson eventually find the buried treasure, Capus wants to know, or did he simply die trying?--John McFarland

Shelf Talker: An exhilarating, captivating literary adventure that follows treasure maps, pirate lore and other clues in search of the fabled Treasure Island.

 


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