Shelf Awareness for Thursday, April 7, 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: Bouffant!

Last month Towne Center Books, Pleasanton, Calif., hosted a Big Bouffant party with author Kate Hosford, who read her book, then helped create many big bouffants, pictured here. Among the crowd: Hosford in the back, without bouffant, next to bookseller Genevieve Fuller, with red bouffant, and parents. Towne Center Books owner Judy Wheeler called the event "very lively." 

 


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


Notes: Creditors Spurn Borders Plan; Arkansas Sales Tax Bill

Creditors were unimpressed with the restructuring plan Borders presented to them yesterday. The New York Times reported that Borders "promised publishers and landlords a sleeker, more efficient company poised to emerge successfully from bankruptcy through increased online sales and revamped stores. But publishers characterized the plan as unrealistic and said they were more convinced than ever that Borders would be forced to sell itself or liquidate."

In a "lengthy meeting" with creditors, including Penguin Group USA, Random House, HarperCollins and the Perseus Books Group, Borders executives said the company "could make a profit by the end of this year and that by 2015 it hoped to make nearly 40% of its revenue from online sales, including e-books and print books sold on its website."

"We are not impressed," one publisher said. "None of it gave us any reason to think they can get themselves out of this. I don’t think it’s changed anybody’s mind."

Borders spokeswoman Mary Davis called the discussion "productive," and told the creditors "that the business plan we are proposing represents the best path forward for a vibrant and profitable Borders that is in the best interest of our creditors, employees, publishers, consumers and other stakeholders."

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Last Friday, Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe signed Senate Bill 738, which "imposes sales tax-collection responsibilities on Internet retailers that are referred visitors by affiliate web sites based in Arkansas and generate more than $10,000 a year in sales from Arkansas residents," InternetRetailer.com reported. "We have a lot of local businesses in Arkansas, both small and large companies, that collect sales tax and we're trying to level the playing field," a spokesman for the governor said.

MobyLives pointed out that Beebe "said the thing that most state governors are bending over backwards trying NOT to say," yet InternetRetailer.com was the only media outlet that "reported the signing--even the state's leading newspaper, the Arkansas Times, has no coverage of the signing on its website."

InternetRetailer.com noted that Arkansas "has been working with the multi-state Streamlined Sales Tax Project toward a federal law that would require all retailers to collect sales tax, but that effort is not expected to succeed any time soon and Beebe sees the Amazon tax law as a way to bring about more immediate way of increasing collection of sales tax revenue..."

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It's e-readers vs. p-readers in "the changing landscape of book clubs, those ubiquitous living-room forums where dog-eared tomes--with favorite passages marked by hand--often now share space with Kindles, Nooks, iPads, iPhones and other portable devices. Resentments simmer. Protocols are upended," the Oroville, Calif. Mercury-Register wrote.

Santa Cruz book club member Mary Offermann used the word "disgust" to describe her feelings about e-books, adding that, as an artist, she treasures "the heft, the feel, the visual pleasure of a well-designed book.... Well, disgust might be too strong a word, but it is close." She also expressed surprise at the "avidity with which, when we're ready to discuss what book to read at our next meeting, my friends jump to their Kindles. It's as though the other people aren't even in the room."

Lauren Angelo is an e-convert, reading "an e-book on her iPhone while standing in line at the grocery store. Waiting for a friend at the gym, she reads it some more.... And unlike some of her friends, tethered to less tote-able 'physical books,' Angelo will finish on time. 'Reading on all my devices,' book club deadlines are never a problem, says Angelo, who even rocks her 6-month-old to sleep with a Kindle in hand," the Mercury-Register noted

Nancy Salmon, a book club liaison on staff at Kepler's Books, Menlo Park, said she has not noticed much e-book infiltration yet among the 254 clubs registered at the store.

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Tom Ahern, owner of Latitude 33 Bookshop, Laguna Beach, Calif., has put his business up for sale, attributing the decision to his wife's health issues, the Coastline Pilot reported.

"I'm hoping that someone or group of individuals will feel strongly enough that we need a good bookstore in Laguna Beach and say, 'Yes, let's buy them out,' " he said, citing the recent sale of Politics and Prose as an example of his best-case scenario.

"I have to take care of my wife. I can't do that and manage the bookstore," he added. "It's time for me to re-pot myself."

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Independent booksellers in Singapore are also responding to the industry reverberations sparked by financial troubles for Borders and REDgroup Retail. SGEntrepreneurs.com profiled indie bookstore BooksActually, "a beacon for those who worry that the bounded word will fade into obscurity, and with it the sweet smell of promise that comes with each new book."

For owners Karen Wai and Kenny Leck, "running an independent bookstore, serving the needs of their customers and building the BooksActually brand hasn't been easy sailing.... Throughout the years, and across the various spaces, Karen and Kenny have built and brought together a community of fans and lovers of literature around their store. They do it by being community leaders, organizing book launches and readings," SGEntrepreneurs.com wrote, then asked: "So why should you visit BooksActually when stores like Amazon and Kinokuniya have such an amazingly large catalogue?"

Leck replied that "recommending a book is more than looking at past and related purchases of other customers. There are many lens of perspective through which an individual can read a piece of work and depending on the person and the lens used (or preferred), lines between related works can be drawn and connections, that an algorithm won’t be able to discover, made. More importantly, if you place your trust in the curator, then it is possible for them to introduce you to new perspectives through the reading of a seemingly unrelated piece of work that will inform the original book bought and read."

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"We have a saying: Cairo writes. Beirut prints. Baghdad reads," Abdul-Wahab Mizher al-Radi, proprietor of the House of Scientific Books on Baghdad's Mutanabi Street, told Reuters, which reported that four years after a car bomb killed 26 people and demolished the booksellers' market here "the street is again open, guarded and seemingly safe, and jammed every Friday with students, professors and professionals."

"Mutanabi Street is the cultural catharsis point for Iraqis," said al-Radi. "Mutanabi is a place where intellectuals of Iraq come, not just to buy books but to see the new place, to see the statue of Mutanabi, to meet friends on a Friday.... There has been a jump forward in demand for buying books, from students, intellectuals, the youth. Young people are looking for youthful books. Intellectuals are buying cultural books. Professionals and students are buying reference books."

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Cool idea of the day that also happens to be a reminder spring has finally arrived: In its e-newsletter, Antigone Books, Tucson, Ariz., offered customers some incentive to participate in the city's Bike to Work Week: "Ride your bike to the store, show us your helmet, and you can have a free bike sticker. (And we have lots of fun stickers to choose from!) Many other businesses (including lots on 4th Avenue) are also offering discounts, freebies, bike tune-ups and more.... Happy bicycling!"

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For the Georgetown Dish, Leslie Maysak told some "tales of bookstores past" in Washington, D.C., while observing, "Few cities in the world offer the 'Common Reader' such a rich array of literary fare and even as more of the book business is conducted online (and on Kindles and iPhones), I'll never tire of reading a new book on a bench under a tree."

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Greenlight Bookstore, Brooklyn, N.Y., was the featured location for LXTV NBC's Ben Aaron to interview Arielle Eckstut and David Henry Sterry (The Essential Guide to Getting Your Book Published: How to Write It, Sell It and Market It... Successfully!)--as well as some of their "pitchers"--at a recent Pitchapalooza event.

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Do blurbs and covers sell books? The Awl asked six authors to weigh in on this eternal question for the book trade.

"I honestly have no idea how important blurbs are for the general reading public," said Kate Christensen. "Knowing what I know, whenever I see a blurb, I immediately assume the writer is friends with that person or has studied with them or babysat their kids—or slept with them or is blackmailing them or has a gun to their head. In other words, I give blurbs no credence whatsoever."

Stefanie Pintoff observed that "three aspects of a book make the greatest first impression on potential readers. The opening sentence. The title. And, of course, the cover. If the cover art does its job well, it will portray the tone and genre of the book accurately--and help it stand out from its competition on the bookshelf."

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Meredith Blake shared "bookspotting" slides from her recent trip to India on the New Yorker's Book Bench blog. "One thing, in particular, was both a surprise and a delight: for those of us who love the written word--especially the kind printed on dead trees--India is a treasure trove," she wrote. "In Delhi alone, there's close to a dozen English-language newspapers, many of which sell for a a few rupees a piece, and English-language bookstores are well-stocked with cheap Penguin classics. Best of all, used-book markets abound, where yards of frayed paperbacks and magazines provide dangerous temptation for packrats like me."

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Presenting writers and their dogs, courtesy of photographer Jill Krementz and New York Social Diary.

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Book trailer of the day: Skinny by Diana Spechler (Harper Perennial).

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Effective April 29, Rob Dyer is leaving Wiley, where he is director of independent trade sales. He has been at Wiley since 1991 and may be reached at contactdyer@gmail.com.

 


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


The Pre-Tour Author Tour

Sara Gran, author of Claire DeWitt and the City of the Dead, which Houghton Mifflin Harcourt will publish June 2, takes us on her pre-tour tour. Gran may be stalked at saragran.com.

 

Twenty years ago, if a publisher told an author they were going to experiment on/with them, they wouldn't have been too thrilled. Now, those words make us giddy. All of us know things are changing, and we all want a publisher who's willing to try to sell books in new ways, in better ways, and sometimes in risky ways. Thank God, that's my publisher!

This month's experiment was what we're calling a pre-tour tour. For three days folks from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, beloved publisher of my forthcoming Claire DeWitt & the City of the Dead, took me to meet some of their favorite booksellers in New York and New England. The idea was to introduce me to the booksellers, talk with them about the book, and to let them know that we appreciate the hard work they do not only my books, but all HMH titles. I was a bookseller in New York City for many years--I'm proud to say I got my education in books and publishing at the Strand, Shakespeare & Co. and Housing Works. Often there's a disconnect between the publishers, who at best send reps to speak to the owners and buyers a few times a year, and the booksellers who work the floor. Even though these are the people who literally put books in the customers' hands, booksellers are only now starting to get the respect and recognition they deserve. Better late than never!

In Brooklyn, we dropped by WORD and Greenlight, two indie start-ups known as "tastemakers," as business folk say. In New Hampshire, we took out the ladies from RiverRun bookshop for lunch, and in Massachusetts we had dinner with the brilliant booksellers from Spirit of '76 and Harvard Bookstore. The next day we had lunch with the wonderful people from Odyssey Books and then crossed the border to Vermont, where we had dinner and beer at Northshire Books with the staff. Booksellers who had already read Claire had intelligent questions, and those who hadn't seemed ready to pick it up next. I'd love to attribute the response to my writing talent (and I'm not modest, I like my book!), but as we all know, brilliant books come out every day that fall through the cracks. Unfortunately, brilliant no longer cuts it.

Best idea of the trip: taking booksellers out for nice meals (or bringing such to them). I remember what it's like to work in a bookstore: it's tough, sweaty work moving those boxes around, and to have a lunch or dinner where you get to talk about books instead of moving them is a treat I know I would have appreciated. Everyone was relaxed and we got to speak in a less formal, more fun setting. What I could have done better: I should have taken a little notebook with me and gotten the name, address and e-mail of every bookseller I met to follow up with (although I have been stalking them on Facebook and Twitter, it's not the same). I also could have brought more swag--copies of my backlist titles and/or other HMH galleys might have been nice, although maybe that would have diluted our focus on Claire. It's still an experiment, right?

At lunch with RiverRun: (from l.) Sara Gran; Liberty Hardy of RiverRun; Michelle Bonanno of HMH; and Michele Filgate, then of RiverRun, who starts at McNally Jackson in New York City next Monday.

It's too early to gauge our results by sales, but this is 2011, so we can gauge them another way: my fans, followers and friends on Facebook, Twitter and my blog have taken a big jump since our tour. Not only am I now connected with the people I met, but people saw the HMH folks and the booksellers tweet/post about our meetings and became intrigued.  Next we'll do the same thing in Northern California and who knows, maybe more experiments. I've got a plan involving a trained monkey and a dolphin that just might fly....

 


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


Media and Movies

This Weekend on Book TV: Then Everything Changed

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, April 9

9 a.m. Jackie Gingrich Cushman talks about her book The Essential American: 25 Documents and Speeches Every American Should Own (Regnery, $21.95, 9781596986435). (Re-airs Sunday at 11:15 p.m.)

10 a.m. Book TV features live coverage of author panels during the ninth annual Annapolis Book Festival at the Key School in Maryland. (Re-airs Sunday at 12 a.m.)

4 p.m. Walter Olson, author of Schools For Misrule: Legal Academia and an Overlawyered America (Encounter Books, $25.95, 9781594032332), argues that poor policy ideas born in law schools have migrated to the status of national policy debates. (Re-airs Monday at 2 a.m.)

7 p.m. Parag Khanna, author of How to Run the World: Charting a Course to the Next Renaissance (Random House, $26, 9781400068272), contends that the modern era resembles the Middle Ages in terms of international relations.  

8:30 p.m. James Capretta, Thomas Miller, Robert Moffit and Grace-Marie Turner discuss their book Why Obamacare Is Wrong for America: How the New Health Care Law Drives Up Costs, Puts Government in Charge of Your Decisions, and Threatens Your Constitutional Rights (Broadside Books, $14.99, 9780062076014). (Re-airs Sunday at 2 p.m.)

10 p.m. After Words. Ted Koppel interviews Jeff Greenfield, author of Then Everything Changed: Stunning Alternate Histories of American Politics: JFK, RFK, Ford, Carter, Reagan (Putnam, $26.95, 9780399157066). Greenfield imagines how American politics and culture might have been altered if five historic events had occurred in a different way. (Re-airs Sunday at 9 p.m. and Monday at 12 a.m. and 3 a.m.)

11 p.m. Kate Masur, author of An Example for All the Land: Emancipation and the Struggle Over Equality in Washington, D.C. (University of North Carolina Press, $39.95, 9780807834145), offers a history of Washington during Reconstruction. (Re-airs Sunday at 5 p.m.)

Sunday, April 10

7 p.m. Clarence Lusane, author of The Black History of the White House (City Lights, $19.95, 9780872865327), presents a history of African-Americans and the White House.   

10 p.m. Andrew Liveris, author of Make It in America: The Case for Re-Inventing the Economy (Wiley, $24.95, 9780470930229), argues that in order to restore America we need to restore its manufacturing base.

 


Movies: Fabulous Nobodies

Documentary filmmaker R.J. Cutler, who directed The September Issue and produced The War Room, will direct his first scripted feature, Fabulous Nobodies, adapted from Lee Tulloch's "social satire set in the 1980s downtown club scene of New York, where a group of people lived and breathed fashion before it took over the world," Deadline.com reported. The film's screenwriters are Mark Fortin and Josh Miller.

 


Books & Authors

Awards: NYPL Young Lions; Jewish Quarterly-Wingate

Finalists for The New York Public Library’s $10,000 Young Lions Fiction Award, which "honors the works of young authors carving deep first impressions in the literary world," are:  

Citrus County by John Brandon (McSweeney’s)
Vida by Patricia Engel (Grove Press)
The Instructions by Adam Levin (McSweeney’s)
Death Is Not an Option by Suzanne Rivecca (Norton)
Kapitoil by Teddy Wayne (Harper Perennial)

The winner will be named May 9.  

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The shortlist for this year's £4,000 (US$6,513) Jewish Quarterly-Wingate Prize includes:

To the End of the Land by David Grossman
The Finkler Question by Howard Jacobson
The Hare with the Amber Eyes by Edmund de Waal
The Dove Flyer by Eli Amir
Trials of the Diaspora by Anthony Julius
Visitation by Jenny Erpenbeck

The winner will be named in London June 6. Previous honorees include Amos Oz, David Grossman, Zadie Smith, Imre Kertesz, Oliver Sacks and W.G. Sebald.

 


GBO Picks Funeral for a Dog

The German Book Office has picked Funeral for a Dog by Thomas Pletzinger, translated by Ross Benjamin (Norton, $14.95, 9780393337259) as its Book of the Month for April.

In the book, journalist Daniel Mandelkern leaves Hamburg to interview Dirk Svensson, a reclusive children's book author who lives alone on the Italian side of Lake Lugano with his three-legged dog. Mandelkern has been quarreling with his wife (who is also his editor); he suspects she has other reasons for sending him away. After stumbling on a manuscript of Svensson's about a complicated ménage à trois, Mandelkern is plunged into mysteries past and present. GBO commented: "Rich with anthropological and literary allusion, this prize-winning debut set in Europe, Brazil, and New York, tells the parallel stories of two writers struggling with the burden of the past and the uncertainties of the future."

Pletzinger, who lives in Berlin, has had fellowships and taught at the University of Iowa, New York University and Grinnell College. Funeral for a Dog won the Uwe Johnson Prize. Benjamin is a writer and translator who lives in Nyack, N.Y.

 



Book Review

Book Review: The Violets of March

The Violets of March by Sarah Jio (Plume, $15 Paperback, 9780452297036, April 2011)

Emily Wilson is a beautiful New Yorker, matched with a gorgeous husband and with a bestselling novel to her credit--until her world changes in an instant. After 10 years of marriage, husband Joel decides to leave her for another woman, and they are divorcing. Emily has had persistent writer's block, now she must add to that problem a vision of herself as a woman scorned. Her best friend, Annabelle, suggests a change of scene, so Emily agrees to go see her Aunt Bee on Bainbridge Island in Washington State, a place where she spent many happy summers. The instant she arrives, she realizes she has been gone too long: the scent of seawater, the mountain vista, the endless beach--all call to her in a way that calms her and begins to put everything in perspective.

To enjoy this yarn completely, the reader must be prepared to accept many coincidences, an endless parade of secrets kept and ultimately revealed, grudges and misunderstandings held from generation to generation, "facts" that turn out not to be true, people called by different names at different times in their lives so that their identities are not immediately obvious and always, always the chance of romance at every turn. Despite these caveats, the story works because debut author Sarah Jio loves her characters.

Emily's Aunt Bee welcomes her warmly and moves her into a bedroom she never saw in all her visits to the Island. This is not surprising because the house is an "expansive old eight-bedroom colonial that had been boarded up for years." With an inheritance from her parents, Bee purchased the Keystone Mansion and had it redone, inside and out. Emily finds a diary in the drawer of the nightstand and what she reads there sets in motion feelings, thoughts and actions that will change her life forever.

It is the diary of Esther Johnson, begun in 1943 when she was married to Bobby but in love--still--with Elliot. How the diary got there, the secrets it contains, the puzzles it brings up and the interconnected lives of people Emily eventually meets in person form the heart of the novel. Not all of their stories end happily, but Emily will find a way to write again, and one of the stories she will write will contain a happy ending for herself. –Valerie Ryan

Shelf Talker: When her perfect world falls apart, Emily Wilson retreats to the comfort of her aunt's home on Bainbridge Island. What she finds there, in a diary and in the people she meets, helps her find a new way forward.  

 

 


Ooops

A Correction for Forever

The winner of NCIBA's Book of the Year award in the teen lit category is The Sky Is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson (Dial), not The Sky Is Forever, which was in the material sent to us. We apologize for any confusion.

 


The Bestsellers

Top-Selling Titles in Chicagoland and Milwaukee Last Week

The following were the bestselling books at independent bookstores in the Chicago and Milwaukee areas during the week ended Sunday, April 3:

1. Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand
2. The Social Animal by David Brooks
3. The Land of Painted Caves by Jean Auel
4. Heaven Is for Real by Todd Burpo
5. Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson
6. Wingshooters by Nina Revoyr
7. The Tiger's Wife by Tea Obreht
8. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
9. A Lesson in Secrets by Jacqueline Winspear
10. The Paris Wife by Paula McLain
 
Reporting bookstores and their handselling favorites:

Anderson's, Naperville and Downers Grove: She Walks in Beauty: A Woman's Journey Through Poems by Caroline Kennedy
Books & Co., Oconomowoc: You Know When the Men Are Gone by Siobhan Fallon
Book Cellar, Lincoln Square
Book Stall at Chestnut Court, Winnetka: The Paris Wife by Paula McLain
Book Table, Oak Park: The Pale King by David Foster Wallace
Boswell Book Company, Milwaukee
57th St. Books: Otherwise Known as the Human Condition: Selected Essays and Reviews by Geoff Dyer
Lake Forest Books: Pearl of China by Anchee Min
Next Chapter, Mequon: The Free World by David Bezmozgis
Read Between the Lynes, Woodstock: Three Stages of Amazement by Carol Edgarian
Seminary Co-op, Chicago: Sacred Trash: The Lost and Found World of the Cairo Geniza by Adina Hoffman and Peter Cole
Women and Children First, Chicago: Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan

[Many thanks to the booksellers and Carl Lennertz!]

 


Top Book Club Books in March

The following are the most popular book club books during March based on votes from readers of the nearly 30,000 book clubs registered at Bookmovement.com. (For more information, contact Authorbuzzco@gmail.)


1. Room: A Novel by Emma Donoghue
2. The Help by Kathryn Stockett
3. Little Bee: A Novel by Chris Cleave
4. Cutting for Stone: A Novel by Abraham Verghese
5. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
6. Water for Elephants: A Novel by Sara Gruen
7. Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay
8. Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet: A Novel by Jamie Ford
9. Saving CeeCee Honeycutt: A Novel by Beth Hoffman
10. House Rules: A Novel by Jodi Picoult

Top two risers:

Amaryllis in Blueberry by (#25, up from #65)
Madame Tussaud by (#29, new to the top 100)

[Many thanks to Bookmovement.com!]

 


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