Shelf Awareness for Tuesday, March 29, 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

News

Image of the Day: Young Einsteins

 

Earlier this month, children at the Indian River Library in Chesapeake, Va., celebrated Albert Einstein's birthday with cupcakes from Mariela Kleiner, author of Meet Einstein (Meet Books), a children's book that teaches the concepts of science. (The library was one of five bookstores, schools and libraries to receive the cupcakes "grand prize" in a contest among every group that sent in for an event kit that included a copy of the book, a poster, magnifying glasses, laboratory stickers and magnetic horseshoes.) Library storytime coordinator Christine Hernandez said, "The children enjoyed the book and the cupcakes. They told me about a number of things that fall, asked about x-ray machines and were very interested in all the beakers. We made sun catchers to see all the colors of light." Here: Hernandez and budding scientists.

 


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


Politics & Prose Sold to Ex-Post Reporters

Politics & Prose will soon have new owners: Bradley Graham and Lissa Muscatine, both former Washington Post reporters who met at the paper, are married and have three children. The deal should close "later on this spring," the store said. The Post estimated the sales price at $2 million.

The new owners were introduced yesterday at the store by Barbara Meade, longtime co-owner of the store with the late Carla Cohen, and by Cohen's husband, David Cohen. According to the Post, Graham called his wife and himself the "owners-elect."

In a statement, Meade and Cohen said Graham and Muscatine "have the passion and wisdom to further strengthen Politics & Prose as a community institution that disseminates ideas and stands as a respected and revered public space. We are confident that they have the wherewithal and vision to sustain Politics & Prose for many years."

The owners-elect said, "We're very grateful for this opportunity, which we consider both a privilege and a responsibility. We will do everything we can to preserve P&P's special culture and traditions, while also looking for new ways to ensure that this great store remains relevant, influential, and technologically up-to-date."

The new owners plan to work full time in the store and called the staff the store's "greatest asset."

Graham told the Post that he approached the idea of buying the store as a reporter might, visiting and speaking with booksellers like Chuck Robinson of Village Books, Bellingham, Wash. Robinson commented: "Brad's eyes were wide open. I don't think he has any great illusions of making a lot money, but if there's any bookstore in this country that has the potential of continuing to do well, it's Politics and Prose."

The store was put up for sale last June after Carla Cohen, who died in October, became seriously ill. Initially 20 groups expressed interest in buying Politics & Prose. One group included agent Raphael Sagalyn, former New Republic editor Franklin Foer and Jeffrey Goldberg, a national correspondent for the Atlantic. Another group was led by law professor Nicholas Kittrie and included 10 people, some of whom were in the publishing industry. Meade and David Cohen had spent nine months interviewing prospective owners and reduced the likely candidates to a half dozen.

At the Post, Graham was a business reporter, foreign correspondent, editor and Pentagon correspondent. He has written two books, By His Own Rules: The Ambitions, Successes, and Ultimate Failures of Donald Rumsfeld and Hit to Kill: The New Battle over Shielding America from Missile Attack, both published by PublicAffairs, and is still working under contract to the Post.

Before leaving the Post in the early 1990s to become a speechwriter at the White House, Muscatine worked on foreign and national security affairs. Described by the Post as "a longtime aide and confidante" to President Bill Clinton and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, she collaborated on Living History, Hillary Clinton's White House memoir, and was most recently the State Department's director of speechwriting.

Politics & Prose was founded 27 years ago. Carla Cohen had the original idea for the store and ran a newspaper ad for a store manager, which Barbara Meade answered. Meade soon became a full partner.


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


Notes: Random House's Digital Boom and New Biz Models

Worldwide digital sales at Random House rose 250% in fiscal year 2010 compared to the year earlier and "some U.S. fiction titles now have as much as half of their first-week's sales in the e-book format," Bertelsmann remarked yesterday in comments on its 2010 results.

In a letter to Random House staff and in comments in a Bertelsmann q&a, CEO Markus Dohle emphasized that digital publishing continues to be a major element at Random House in the U.S., where e-books and digital audiobooks accounted for 10% of revenues last year and where digital accounted for 30% of revenues in some categories.

Random House now has more than 25,000 titles available digitally, and the company is "further experimenting with a broad range of evolving technology and product formats, such as enhanced e-books and pure-content apps, as well as new business models including bundling e- and print books, subscription models, and digital services." Random House is having "ongoing discussions with our retail partners to establish sustainable, profitable business models for our print and evolving digital business that are appropriate for each of our territories, and rewarding for our authors and customers--and also for us."

Random House is also shifting its "primary marketing focus" for books to "the end consumer. With our increasing mastery of new digitally enabled tools and platforms, we are reaching prospective book buyers in more direct and targeted ways than ever before," Dohle said.

Dohle predicted the e-book won't replace printed books, "not even in the long term," and noted estimates that digital titles might account for 50% of total revenue by 2015. As for cannibalization, he commented: "Not every e-book sold simultaneously replaces a printed book… the sum of electronic and print books leads to a market expansion." E-book consumers are making more impulse purchases because of the ease and speed of buying and downloading e-books, he continued. He added that "formats and technologies don't matter without having the best writers and the best books." Europe is "three to five years" behind the U.S. digitally "mainly due to slower adoption" of e-readers.

In old-style news, Bertelsmann said that last year Random House had 230 titles on New York Times bestseller lists and the Millennium trilogy by Stieg Larsson sold more than 13 million copies in the U.S. in a variety of formats.

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How many Nook Colors has Barnes & Noble sold? Cnet News reported that "word out of Taiwan's Digitimes, which is well known for its iPhone rumors, is that the bookseller has 'taken delivery of close to 3 million Nook Color e-book readers from its production partner,' according to a source from the Nook Color supply chain.... Additionally, the article cites sources saying sales of the Nook Color topped 1 million during the 2010 holiday season and have been running in the 600,000-700,000 unit range in subsequent months."

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In his New York Review of Books blog post "Six Reasons Google Books Failed," Robert Darnton argued that "the collapse of the settlement has a great deal to teach us. It should help us emulate the positive aspects of Google Book Search and avoid the pitfalls that made Google's enterprise flawed from the beginning. The best way to do so and to provide the American people with what they need in order to thrive in the new information age is to create a Digital Public Library of America."

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Amazon is building three data centers in eastern Oregon near the towns of Boardman and McNary. TechFlash reported that one of the centers is under development by Vadata, "an entity of Amazon that bought the property. Construction also has resumed on two data centers for Amazon nearby. That project had been put on hold in 2009 because of the recession."

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Tom Montan has left Copperfield's Books in northern California, where he was CEO. In a move aimed at reducing some of the company's administrative overhead, the CEO position was eliminated and Copperfield's owners will return to manage the company on a day-to-day basis. Montan wrote: "It is no secret that the book industry continues to face many obstacles. However, I continue in my belief and love for this important industry. I am hopeful that Copperfield's will continue on its trend of success that we experienced during my tenure."

Montan may be reached at tom.montan@gmail.com.

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Book trailer of the day: The Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen (Bantam).

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The Book Rack, Titusville, Fla., will reopen April 11. The bookshop had to be closed March 8 after a car jumped the curb and plowed into the front entrance, causing extensive damage, Florida Today reported.

"I miss seeing my customers," said owner Lynne Knight.

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"No Children" by the Mountain Goats is on Flavorwire's literary mixtape for Elizabeth Bennet: "Seeing as she's a savvy, smart-aleck of a girl with a good head on her shoulders, we think she'd be into wry, intelligent indie rock and all the hipster classics. Here's what we think she would scheme, scold, and judge her peers to.

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Matching the bookmark to the book jacket. Buzzfeed discovered this "neat little idea" at the icoeye blog.

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"What Wikipedia looks like printed out." Flavorwire noted that "London-based photographer Rob Matthews decided to print out all 2,559 of Wikipedia’s 'featured articles'--which is about 5,000 pages worth of content--and this supersized tome is the end result."


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


Media and Movies

Media Heat: Jerry Weintraub Talks About Talking

Tomorrow morning on Good Morning America: Jerry Weintraub, author of When I Stop Talking, You'll Know I'm Dead: Useful Stories from a Persuasive Man (Twelve, $13.99, 9780446548168).

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Tomorrow on a repeat of the View: Rahna Reiko Rizzuto, author of Hiroshima in the Morning (Feminist Press at CUNY, $16.95, 9781558616677).

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Tomorrow on Access Hollywood Live: Star Jones, author of Satan's Sisters (Gallery, $24.99, 9781439193006).

 


Movies: Cosmopolis Cast; Garner Is Younger Miss Marple

Sarah Gadon has been added to the cast of Cosmopolis, the film adaptation of Don DeLillo's novel. Deadline.com reported that Gadon will play the estranged wife of financial wunderkind Eric Packer (Robert Pattinson) in the movie directed by David Cronenberg.  

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Miss Marple has discovered the fountain of youth. According to Deadline.com, Disney will revive the Agatha Christie mystery series, "but with one big difference: instead of the elderly spinster who lives in the English village of St. Mary's Mead and solves mysteries as a hobby, the new configuration is for Mark Frost to script a version where Marple is in her 30s or 40s." Jennifer Garner is slated to portray Miss Marple.

 


Books & Authors

Talk of the Nation's Japanese Reading List

Following the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disasters in Japan, yesterday NPR's Talk of the Nation offered a reading list of "books to help you understand Japan."

Donald Keene, a Japanese literature professor emeritus at Columbia, recommended (with Talk of the Nation's annotations):

  • Man'yoshu, the oldest existing anthology of Japanese poetry, collected some time after A.D. 759.
  • The Tale of Genji, the 11th century Japanese classic by noblewoman Murasaki Shikibu
  • The Narrow Roads to Oku, haiku by Matsuo Basho
  • Chushingura, originally a puppet play by Takeda Izumo, Miyoshi Shoraku and Namiki Senryu
  • The Makioka Sisters, a modern Japanese novel by Junichiro Tanizaki

Kimiko Hahn, a poet and professor of English at Queens College of the City University of New York, recommended several titles by Keene and others:

  • Anthology of Japanese Literature: From the Earliest Era to the Mid-Nineteenth Century by Donald Keene
  • Modern Japanese Literature: From 1868 to the Present Day by Donald Keene
  • Essays in Idleness: The Tsurezuregusa of Kenko translated by Donald Keene
  • The Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon translated by Ivan Morris
  • Japanese Poetic Diaries translated by Earl Miner

 

 


Award: Ridenhour Winner

Wendell Potter has won the Ridenhour Book Prize, sponsored by the Nation Institute and the Fertel Foundation and honoring "an outstanding work of social significance," for Deadly Spin: An Insurance Company Insider Speaks Out on How Corporate PR Is Killing Healthcare and Deceiving Americans (Bloomsbury Press).

Potter was once head of corporate communications at CIGNA, the insurance company. The judges called Deadly Spin an "exposé of America's multibillion-dollar healthcare industry. From clandestine meetings carefully organized to leave no paper trail to creating third-party front groups, Potter reveals how a PR juggernaut creates an atmosphere of fear and distortion. He details the smear campaign that he helped to devise against Michael Moore's film Sicko, including misleading talking points that were subsequently repeated on CNN, Fox, and in the pages of USA Today. Potter later apologized to Moore."

The judges commended Potter for "courage in walking away from a long-standing, lucrative career, for speaking out against his former employers, and for writing a damning exposé of an industry that puts profits ahead of patient care."

 


Shelf Starter: If You Knew Then What I Know Now

If You Knew Then What I Know Now by Ryan Van Meter (Sarabande Books, $15.95 trade paper, 9781932511949, April 1, 2011)

Opening lines from a book we want to read, linked essays about coming of age and coming out.

Ben and I are sitting side by side in the very back of his mother's station wagon. We face glowing white headlights of cars following us, our sneakers pressed against the back hatch door. This is our joy--his and mine--to sit turned away from our moms and dads in this place that feels like a secret, as thought they are not even in the car with us. They have just taken us out to dinner and now we are driving home. Years from this evening, I won't actually be sure that this boy sitting beside me is named Ben. But that doesn't matter tonight. What I know for certain right now is that I love him, and I need to tell him this fact before we return to our separate houses, next door to each other. We are both five.--selected by Marilyn Dahl

 



Book Review

Review: You Think That's Bad

You Think That's Bad: Stories by Jim Shepard (Knopf Publishing Group, $24.95 Hardcover, 9780307594822, March 2011)

In the acknowledgments of his new collection of short stories, Jim Shepard takes the unusual step of listing more than 75 reference works. That's only a hint of the extraordinary breadth of 11 tales that range over more than half a millennium and several continents.

Shepard excels at placing his characters in extreme confrontations with the natural world, often mirroring turmoil in their personal lives. The narrator of "The Netherlands Lives with Water" (included in Best American Short Stories 2010) is a hydraulic engineer whose marriage is fracturing as an epic storm sweeps toward Rotterdam, threatening to overcome the city's defenses against the North Sea's onslaught. "Poland Is Watching" describes a catastrophic winter attempt to summit a Himalayan peak and the tension between a member of a Polish climbing team that embarks on the nearly suicidal endeavor and the wife he leaves behind.

As he demonstrated in his 2007 National Book Award finalist collection, Like You'd Understand Anyway, Shepard has an affinity for stories based on historical characters and events, infusing them with an almost novelistic scope. Notable among these is "The Track of the Assassins," inspired by the life of the explorer and travel writer Freya Stark, describing a perilous trek through the mountains of western Iran using Marco Polo's Travels as her guidebook. In "Gojira, King of the Monsters," Shepard illumines the creative genius of Eiji Tsuburaya, the special effects master who created Godzilla in 1954. Recent events give that story's graphic description of the 1923 Tokyo earthquake an eerie resonance. "Happy with Crocodiles" is the grim first-person account (the predominant point of view in the collection) of American soldiers bogged down in the jungle of New Guinea in World War II.

Shepard's descriptive powers enhance virtually all these stories. In "The Track of the Assassins," he concentrates on the harsh beauty of its desert setting: "The foothills when closer revealed themselves to be symmetrical rust-colored headlands akin to the upturned hulls of ships. The escarpments were long and narrow and end-on gave the impression of a fleet at anchor." The narrator of "Your Fate Hurtles Down at You," the story of a team constructing an avalanche defense high in the Swiss Alps, remarks on the way the "sun peeps over the sentinel peaks behind us and the entire snow-covered world becomes a radiance thrown back at the sky."

The stories of Jim Shepard provide an emphatic rejoinder to critics of the insularity of some contemporary short fiction. Diverse, expansive, complex, rich both in their settings and their characterization, each one engenders a sense of anticipation on the first page that's more than satisfied by the last.--Harvey Freedenberg

Shelf Talker: Jim Shepard has produced another volume of diverse and highly original stories that's a worthy companion to his outstanding collection Like You'd Understand Anyway.

 


The Bestsellers

In Demand: Most-Ordered Cookbooks

 

The following were the most-ordered upcoming cookbooks on Edelweiss during the last 60 days. The listings include links to the titles on Edelweiss and links to the publishers' e-catalogues:

  1. Forty Years of Chez Panisse: The Power of Gathering by Alice Waters (Clarkson Potter, August 23) *Random House Adult Blue Omni, Su11
  2. The Maine Summers Cookbook by Linda Greenlaw (Studio/Penguin Group, June 30) Adult Hardcover Summer 2011
  3. Guy Fieri Food by Guy Fieri (Morrow Cookbooks, May 1) HarperCollins Adult Summer 2011 Compilation
  4. Jamie's Food Revolution by Jamie Oliver (Hyperion, April 5)  Hyperion & Voice Summer 2011 Add-ons
  5. My Father's Daughter by Mario Batali (Grand Central Life & Style, April 13) Grand Central Publishing Spring/Summer 2011
  6. Tender by Nigel Slater (Ten Speed Press, April 26) *Random House Adult Blue Omni, Su11
  7. The Food of Spain by Claudia Roden (Ecco, June 1) HarperCollins Adult Summer 2011 Compilation
  8. Can It, Bottle It, Smoke It by Karen Solomon (Ten Speed Press, July 5) *Random House Adult Blue Omni, Su11
  9. The Hungover Cookbook by Milton Crawford (Clarkson Potter, May 31) *Random House Adult Blue Omni, Su11
  10. The Deen Bros. Get Fired Up by Jamie Deen (Ballantine, April 19)  *Random House Adult Blue Omni, Su11

 

[Many thanks to Above the Treeline and Edelweiss!]

 


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