Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Random House: Dreamland by Nicholas Sparks

Berkley Books: Better Than Fiction by Alexa Martin

Feiwel & Friends: A Venom Dark and Sweet (Book of Tea #2) by Judy I. Lin

Wednesday Books: Night of the Raven, Dawn of the Dove by Rati Mehrota

Jimmy Patterson: Nura and the Immortal Palace by M.T. Khan

Berkley Books: The Rewind by Allison Winn Scotch

Quotation of the Day

Book Awards Are a 'Sort of Rolling Canon'

"[I]n the short term, I'm not so sure how much of a good an award may be for a writer (though on balance I suspect it is more good than bad). In the long term is another matter. A few years ago, at an SFRA Conference in Lawrence, Kan., I took part in a panel discussion about awards at which it was suggested that awards provide a sort of rolling canon. I am always dubious about the idea of a canon... but there is something in that. A canon not in the sense of defining the genre, but as a representation of what the jurors and voters of the day considered closest to what the genre of the day was about.

"And that is why I tend, in the end, to think of awards as a good thing. Because in the short term they give us an opportunity, an excuse, to debate, or at least to think about, how we see the genre today. And because in the long term they provide a sort of sounding board of how the genre was perceived during the course of its history. If, along the way, they provide kudos for some, disappointment for others, work for a few, a chance to make a contribution for others, a marketing opportunity and an excuse for a celebration, that is all probably quite positive, but it is also, I think, beside the point."

--Paul Kincaid in his essay, "About Awards," at the Big Other.


G.P. Putnam's Sons: The Old Place by Bobby Finger


Image of the Day: Dog Day Afternoon

Two- and four-legged fans of Martin Kihn, author of the memoir Bad Dog (A Love Story) (Pantheon), posed with the author last weekend at the Bookcase, Wayzata, Minn.


Photo: Linda White

Blackstone Publishing: Imposter by Bradeigh Godfrey

Notes: Amazon's Tablet; Record Royal Wedding Book

The Amazon tablet rumor mill cranked up again yesterday as DigiTimes reported that notebook manufacturer Quanta Computer in Taiwan "recently received OEM orders from Amazon for its reported tablet PC," according to sources "from upstream component makers." The device's "monthly orders during the peak season are expected to reach about 700,000-800,000 units and Quanta is expected to start shipping as soon as the second half of 2011."

Forbes suggested Amazon could have the best shot at building an iPad killer, noting that while "the hardware probably won't be anything special, Amazon's services might give it an edge. While no one has managed to best the iPad's tight integration of software and hardware, Amazon's online music, movie, and digital book services rival--and in some cases surpass--Apple’s own. You can't say that for Motorola, RIM, Asus, or any of the other would-be iPad killers."


Andrew Morton's biography William and Catherine: Their Lives, Their Wedding made it into bookshops just 72 hours after the royal nuptials, and publisher Michael O'Mara Books has submitted its application for a record to Guinness World Records. The Guardian reported that Morton chose a jacket photo for the 200-page book "100 minutes after the couple kissed, completing the text for the book's final chapter on the day of the wedding. It was then sent for overnight printing in Italy, with the first copies in the 100,000 print run delivered to Waterstone's Charing Cross at 3 p.m. on Monday."

O'Mara said that in 1986, "we got into the Guinness Book of Records for a book on Andrew and Fergie's wedding. We did it in about 76 hours and that was a record for the fastest big color book ever published... As far as I know no one has ever bettered this until now."


If you have a job in publishing, you'll probably keep it for a while. Forbes reported that data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates "the median time employees stayed at their jobs reached an all-time high last year" of 4.4 years. The fourth-ranked category for longevity (behind utilities, telecommunications and durable goods manufacturing) was publishing at 5.0 years.

A sales manager at McGraw-Hill cited, as primary reasons for staying at her job, "excellent for working moms, flexible schedule allowed, high-quality product, they care about work-life balance [and] amazing benefits."

Forbes added that publishing jobs (excluding Internet publishing) are also the third "stickiest" in America: "The median number of years employees in the publishing industry had been with their current employer was 5.6."

To celebrate the publication of Sarah MacLean's Eleven Scandals to Start to Win a Duke's Heart, Avon Books held a "virtual signing" on AvonRomance­Live.­com, MacLean and Eloisa James (When Beauty Tamed the Beast) met in a studio in the HarperCollins building for a conversation that was broadcast via LiveStream to fans across the Internet, many of whom had preordered books by both writers. "I'm always thrilled to have a chance to talk about romance with people who love it as much as I do," MacLean said afterward, "and being able to do just that with Eloisa James and online readers made my day. I could have happily continued that conversation for hours!" (The conversation, roughly 45 minutes long, can still be seen online.)

Sales for the online event were handled by Brooklyn's WORD bookstore, which also hosted MacLean and James for an in-store event immediately following. "This was a great example of the new opportunities we have as bookstores and authors to work together," said WORD event coordinator Jenn Northington. "Sarah MacLean is not only a local author but a staff favorite, and providing books for both a national, online audience as well as in-store at her launch party was a blast." Avon will follow this event with a similar conversation between Julia Quinn and Elizabeth Boyle on June 3.--Ron Hogan


Today's Wall Street Journal chronicled the Something Borrowed tour, in which "a group of rabid fans of [Emily] Giffin piled on a bus for a tour of a few of the Manhattan sites that crop up in the movie," which will be released Friday. Joining them was the novelist, who said she likes to create events with an interactive component: "I interact a lot with my readers. I really, genuinely enjoy it. It's actually hard to fake."


Cool idea of the day: to celebrate International Mustache Day, this afternoon from 4:30-6:30 p.m. anyone at Third Street Books, McMinnville, Ore., who sports facial hair, real or fake, receives a discount.

The store commented: "Is there really anything more to say? Actually, there is. Your mom called, she said don't forget to at least send her a card. Oh, you forgot? Well get on down here and get something for your mom in time for Mother's Day this Sunday."


Al-Balsam, Cairo's only children's bookstore, celebrated its first anniversary May 1. Owner Balsam al-Saad "has undertaken not just the difficult job of selling children's books, but the even harder one of igniting a passion for Arabic children's literature. Because of this, the store has a markedly different feel from other high-end bookstores in Cairo. While most stores relegate Arabic children's literature to a small shelf or corner, at Al-Balsam it is foreign-language children's books that get the less-desirable shelf space upstairs," Al-Masry Al-Youm reported.

In post-revolution Egypt, Saad envisions a brighter future for Arabic children's literature. "I am certain that, after the revolution, things will change. There is pride being rediscovered, in identity and in self. Even kids want to discover their Egyptian identity.... I think we have beautiful things, but I don't think we have enough. Still more work will have to be done."


The J.R.R. Tolkien estate settled a dispute with Stephen Hillard, author of the upcoming book Mirkwood: A Novel About J.R.R. Tolkien, which "features Tolkien as a character and includes a critical analysis of Tolkien's books," the Hollywood Reporter wrote, adding that the book "is not only fiction, but also an exercise in 'literary criticism,' as it is said to take issue with the lack of female characters in Tolkien's works."

The Tolkien estate had sent Hilliard a cease-and-desist letter, threatening a lawsuit, but the settlement permits the book, which the author is publishing with Amazon's BookSurge/CreateSpace platform, to be released "with a modified reference to Tolkien on the cover and will also include the disclaimer, 'This is a work of fiction which is neither endorsed nor connected with The J.R.R. Tolkien Estate or its publisher.' "


May the 4th be with you. (Today is the only day each year that joke is allowed.) DK Publishing has organized an ambitious children's book tour, the DK Star Wars Attack of the Authors East Coast Tour, that will encompass two weeks and 10 events, kicking off May 7 and running from Boston to Miami. Participants include DK authors, illustrators, 501st Legion and R2 Builders Club members, and a specially-commissioned R2 droid piece that will be auctioned off for charity at the end of the tour. Each venue has received an event kit containing raffle prizes, activities and giveaways (and those fancy patches you see on link, which will be given to all attending 501st troopers).

DK has arranged nearly 200 Star Wars events with the 501st Legion as their special guests in recent years, and to express appreciation to these troopers (who are all volunteers), DK makes an annual donation in their honor. You can read about last year’s donation here. The droid replica will be part of this year’s donation.


Linda and Steve Netschert have purchased book publisher Farcountry Press from newspaper chain Lee Enterprises. Formed in 1980, Farcountry publishes photography books, children’s series, guidebooks, cookbooks, and regional history titles nationwide, producing about 15 books annually, with a backlist of more than 300 titles. Sweetgrass Books, the custom publishing division of Farcountry Press, was included in the purchase.

Publisher Linda Netschert, who has worked for Farcountry Press since 1996 and became sales and marketing director in 2003, said, "We have retained all of the staff, and we’ve created two new positions, which will be filled very soon." The company has moved to its new office and warehouse at 2750 Broadwater Avenue in Helena, Mont.


Concord Free Press, which publishes original trade paperbacks and gives them away through a network of more than 60 independent bookstores and via website requests, will launch Concord ePress June 1 with a full slate of novels ranging from debut fiction to e-books of previously published works. In an interview with Digital Book World, CFP founder Stona Fitch said, "We’ll sell these books via the usual channels, Amazon and beyond, as a 50-50 split between authors and the CFP. We’re about writers banding together to take advantage of the incredible new opportunities opened up by e-books, while still holding on to the camaraderie and community that are so critical to publishing, which is, after all, a team sport." 


Rough Edges Press: Elm City Blues: A Private Eye Novel (Tommy Shore Mystery #1) by Lawrence Dorfman

Author Tresses on Tour

David Thorne isn't touring to promote his new book, The Internet Is a Playground: Irreverent Correspondences of an Evil Online Genius (Tarcher/Penguin, $14.95, 9781585428816)--not all of him anyway. A lock of his hair is making the rounds to 13 bookshops coast to coast and started last Thursday at the Corner Bookstore in New York City.

Editor Michael Solana holding the hair tour kit.

The idea for the David Thorne Hair Tour occurred to Brianna Yamashita, Tarcher's publicity and marketing director, after finding out that frenzied fans were paying to have their photo taken with some of Justin Bieber's hair as it toured the country, with proceeds benefiting tsunami and earthquake relief in Japan. It also dovetailed with another aspect of the marketing campaign,, on which Thorne makes a compelling and comical case why consumers should spring for his book rather than the pop star's tome.

Although it's doubtful Thorne's hair will necessitate bodyguards, as did Bieber's, the parody promotion benefits another great cause. For every store on the tour, Tarcher is donating $200 to the National Children's Cancer Society. In addition, the $1 fee customers pay to have their picture taken with Thorne's lustrous locks will be given to the organization.

Enclosed in a clear glass container, Thorne's tresses will be exhibited in each location for three days. Ken Irish, the store manager at Books Inc. in San Francisco, signed on to host the hair because several staffers are longtime admirers of Thorne and his website, (a reference to the apartment number and floor where George Orwell lived when he wrote 1984).

Thorne has gained a wide following for his wickedly humorous articles and e-mail correspondences, including "Overdue Account," about an attempt to settle a debt with a drawing of a spider, and "It's Like Twitter," in which he takes a former colleague to task for asking him to design a logo gratis. Wired magazine deemed Thorne's handiwork "some of the funniest and most clever writing I have read in years.... There is usually a fine line between genius and insanity, but in this case it has become very blurred."

The Internet is a Playground is a compilation of material from, along with all-new pieces. "Missing Missy," an exchange between Thorne and a woman he aided/tormented while making a poster featuring her missing cat, first brought the satirist to bookstore owner Nikki Furrer's attention after the missive was circulated online. Customers and fellow Thorne fans at Pudd'nhead Books in Webster Groves, Mo., will find the promotion "amusing," said Furrer. "Everyone else will think it's weird. But they'll all pick up the book, and that's what counts. It only takes a random page or two for people to decide that, yes, he is hilarious and I want to read more."

Thorne's tresses will have pride of place on the front counter at Pudd'nhead Books. "We'll move the finger puppet display for a few days while we have the jar," Furrer said. "The lock of hair is getting the total VIP treatment. We don't move the finger puppets for just anyone."

The hair tour has already garnered at least one new fan for Thorne. Event manager David Enyeart at Magers & Quinn Booksellers in Minneapolis was unfamiliar with the funnyman prior to hearing about the unusual promotion. He was sold after visiting Thorne's website. "I laughed out loud for 10 minutes," recalled Enyeart. As at Pudd'nhead Books, the glass display case will be situated near the registers where it's most likely to attract the attention of casual browsers.

"I think the hair will spark a lot of conversations--both in the store and online," noted Enyeart. In addition, he sees this as "a great way to remind readers that bookstores are not only retailers but also interesting and lively public spaces. Bookstores connect people to a whole world of ideas. Sometimes we do that with a book, sometimes with a reading, sometimes with hair."--Shannon McKenna Schmidt


KidsBuzz for the Week of 05.23.22

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Diane Ackerman on KCRW's Bookworm

Tomorrow on KCRW's Bookworm: Diane Ackerman, author of One Hundred Names for Love: A Stroke, a Marriage, and the Language of Healing (Norton, $26.95, 9780393072419). As the show put it: "Poet, naturalist Diane Ackerman and her husband, novelist-scholar Paul West, lived a life of language--written and spoken language, articulation supreme. When Paul suffered a stroke, the couple had to learn to communicate in a new way. Diane Ackerman speaks lovingly about the very gradual evolution of a special aphasic language which would express their affection and which led Paul to write a new form of novel--an aphasic novel."


Tomorrow on Nightline: Shania Twain, author of From This Moment On (Atria, $26.99, 9781451620740).


Tomorrow on the Tonight Show: Katie Couric, author of The Best Advice I Ever Got: Lessons from Extraordinary Lives (Random House, $26, 9780812992779).


Tomorrow on the Colbert Report: Bill James, author of Popular Crime: Reflections on the Celebration of Violence (Scribner, $30, 9781416552734).


Tomorrow on the Late Show with Jimmy Fallon: Tina Fey, author of Bossypants (Reagan Arthur, $26.99, 9780316056861).


GLOW: Union Square & Co.: The Second Death of Edie and Violet Bond by Amanda Glaze

Movies: The Host

Saoirse Ronan (Atonement, The Lovely Bones) will star in The Host, adapted from Stephenie Meyer's bestselling novel, with a screenplay by Andrew Niccol. reported that "the film figures to be one of the hot titles when Inferno launches sales at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival next week. Niccol, who was originally set to direct, might resurface as the filmmaker." Meyer was involved in choosing Niccol "because she was such a fan of his films Gattaca and his script for The Truman Show."


Erewhon: Day Boy by Trent Jamieson

Books & Authors

Awards: Malice Domestic's Agathas

Winners of the Agatha Awards, which celebrate the "traditional mystery--books best typified by the works of Agatha Christie," were honored at the Malice Domestic convention in Bethesda, Md., last weekend. This year's winners are:

Best novel: Bury Your Dead by Louise Penny (Minotaur)
Best first novel: The Long Quiche Goodbye by Avery Aames (Berkley)
Best nonfiction: Agatha Christie's Secret Notebooks: 50 Years of Mysteries in the Making by John Curran (Harper)
Best short story: "So Much in Common" by Mary Jane Maffini (Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, Sept./Oct. 2010)
Best children's/YA: The Other Side of Dark by Sarah Smith (Atheneum)


Book Brahmin: Danzy Senna

Danzy Senna's first novel, Caucasia (1999), won the Stephen Crane Award for Best New Fiction, the ALA's Alex Award and was named a Los Angeles Times Best Book of the Year. Since then she has published another novel, Symptomatic, and a memoir, Where Did You Sleep Last Night? You Are Free (trade paper original, Riverhead, May 3, 2011) is Senna's first collection of stories. She lives in Los Angeles with her family.


On your nightstand now:

I'm in the middle of Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro. I recently finished Evelyn Waugh's A Handful of Dust--a cold, lacerating novel, in the best sense.

Favorite book when you were a child:

Charlotte's Web. At five, I memorized the last paragraph and would recite it to my mother in the kitchen while she was cooking, just to make myself weep.

Your top five authors:

Richard Yates, Patricia Highsmith, Zora Neale Hurston, Nella Larsen, Henry James

Book you've faked reading:

Gravity's Rainbow.

Books you're an evangelist for:

Kazuo Ishiguro's The Unconsoled. Chris Krauss's I Love Dick. Fran Ross's Oreo. Lydia Davis's The End of the Story.

Book you've bought for the cover:

Percival Everett's Erasure. Plus, I liked the author photo.

Book that changed your life:

The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying by Sogyal Rinpoche. I was in my early 20s, working in a cubicle at a miserable job. I finished the book one morning on the subway and quit the job the same day.

Favorite line from a book:

Here's one I like: "Though everyone wishes it would not happen, and though it would be far better if it did not happen, it does sometimes happen that a second daughter is born and there are two sisters."--Lydia Davis, from "Two Sisters" in her collection Break It Down.

Book you most want to read again for the first time:

Giovanni's Room by James Baldwin.


Book Review

Children's Review: Jonathan and the Big Blue Boat

Jonathan and the Big Blue Boat by Philip Christian Stead (Neal Porter/Roaring Brook/Macmillan, $16.99 hardcover, 32p., ages 4-7, 9781596435629, June 2011)

Philip Christian Stead (Creamed Tuna Fish and Peas on Toast; A Sick Day for Amos McGee) firmly establishes the affection that the hero, Jonathan, has for his bear, Frederick, in the first few pages. The soulful stuffed animal leans against a jetty post as the sun sets and a buoy bobs in the aqua harbor, reflecting the sun's rays, beneath the dedication: "To Frederick." At the story's opening, Jonathan holds Frederick "up high so he could see the Big Blue Boat too," anchored in the harbor. "It makes me feel very small," Jonathan tells Frederick. Still, we get the sense that the bear makes the boy feel brave. The giant vessel pulses in a swirl of sapphire and cornflower blues comprised of torn paper and postage stamps. A candy-cane stripe wraps around its upper quarters, with peppermint-candy lifesavers hanging off the top deck. On the next spread, Jonathan's parents inform him they have traded Frederick for a toaster. "You're getting too old for a stuffed animal," they say. "Toasters really are useful."

Jonathan brings to mind Ezra Jack Keats's Peter when his baby sister comes along to claim Peter's chair and crib, and out on a solo adventure on a snowy day. As Jonathan starts his search for his bear, Stead's urban setting, like Keats's, feels both welcoming and daunting. The red-and-white smokestacks of the Big Blue Boat tower over the rooftops near the hero's apartment building, and we know where he is bound. Jonathan's singleness of purpose guides each of his encounters and points the way to the next phase of his journey. When the tugboat captain asks Jonathan, "Why so sad?" and the boy explains, "Frederick is missing," the captain starts him on his way, tugging the Big Blue Boat "into the open ocean." Thus begins the cumulative refrain: "And that is how Jonathan came to sail the sea on a Big Blue Boat." When the boat gets marooned, a mountain goat helps, so Jonathan invites him along. Sepia-toned vignettes move the action ahead, while the full-color compositions focus on the emotional interplay between Jonathan and the goat. They encounter a circus elephant (who might have stepped out of Amos McGee), and a brush with pirates necessitates the aid of a whale ("And that is how Jonathan, a mountain goat, and a circus elephant came to sail the sea on a Big Blue Boat on the back of a whale"). The title boat never looks the same in any two pictures, contributing to the sense of the Big Blue Boat as a major player in the story. One of the most remarkable images occurs at night as the elephant and goat "snored like a foghorn and a whistle." The stars shine brightly in a midnight-blue sky, distinct from blue-painted collage papers of longitude and latitude that fill the sea, where the Big Blue Boat rests serenely on the whale's back. A sepia-toned vignette of a lighthouse on the page opposite "show[s] the way to a distant port," and we feel certain that all will be well.

Stead combines playful compositions and his hero's serious intent in a winning combination. What at first seems almost whimsical, upon closer inspection reveals careful planning in each illustration. Even though the tugboat captain's coat is a patchwork of printed papers and wax stripes, he appears distinguished. Why do the polka dots on the elephant add to rather than detract from his complex character? Stead seems to tell us that as long as we follow our true North, everything falls in line. Jonathan reminds children that our Fredericks don't hold us back, they help us grow up with confidence. And there's no rush.--Jennifer M. Brown




New R.L. Stine Novel Stands Alone

It's the First Day of School... Forever, R.L. Stine's upcoming novel that has been optioned by Gotham Group for a family adventure movie (Shelf Awareness, April 28, 2011), is a stand-alone title the author is publishing with Feiwel & Friends, an imprint of Macmillan Children's Publishing Group. It is not a part of the Goosebumps series, as was originally reported.


The Bestsellers

Top-Selling Titles in Florida Last Week

The following were the bestselling books at independent bookstores in Florida during the week ended Sunday, May 1:

1. The Help by Kathryn Stockett
2. The Paris Wife by Paula McLain
3. Water for Elephants by Sarah Gruen
4. Bringing Adam Home by Les Standiford and Joe Matthews
5. The Sixth Man by David Baldacci
6. Bossypants by Tina Fey
7. A Visit from Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan
8. A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin
9. Heaven Is for Real by Todd Burpo
10. The Deen Bros. Get Fired Up by Jamie and Bobby Deen

The reporting bookstores and their handselling favorites:

Book Mark, Neptune Beach: 22 Britannia Road by Amanda Hodgkinson
Books & Books, Coral Gables, Miami Beach, Bal Harbour: Say Her Name by Francisco Goldman
Inkwood Books, Tampa
Vero Beach Book Center: Summer and the City by Candace Bushnell

Many thanks to the booksellers and Carl Lennertz!]


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, May 1:

1. A Visit From Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan
2. The Help by Kathryn Stockett
3. Bossypants by Tina Fey
4. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
5. The Paris Wife by Paula McLain
6. The Pale King by David Foster Wallace
7. The Invisible Bridge by Julie Orringer
8. The Postmistress by Sarah Blake
9. The Wilder Life by Wendy McClure
10. A Question of Belief by Donna Leon

The reporting bookstores and their handselling favorites:

Anderson's, Naperville and Downers Grove: Divergent by Veronica Roth
Books & Co., Oconomowoc: The Wilder Life by Wendy McClure
Book Cellar, Lincoln Square: The Collected Poetry of Nikki Giovanni
Book Stall at Chestnut Court, Winnetka: Getting the Pretty Back by Molly Ringwald
Book Table, Oak Park: Medical Muses: Medical Muses by Asti Hustvedt
Boswell Book Company, Milwaukee
57th Street Books
Lake Forest Books: Lost in Shangri-La by Mitchell Zuckoff
Next Chapter, Mequon
Read Between the Lynes, Woodstock
Seminary Co-op, Chicago
Women and Children First, Chicago: Caleb's Crossing by Geraldine Brooks

Many thanks to the booksellers and Carl Lennertz!]


KidsBuzz: Schiffer Kids: Big P Takes a Fall (and That's Not All) by Pamela Jane, illus. by Hina Imtiaz
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