Shelf Awareness for Tuesday, June 14, 2011

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

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

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

Minotaur Books: The Shadow House by Anna Downes

Soho Crime: One-Shot Harry by Gary Phillips


Image of the Day: Pug's Party


Last week at a dog-friendly signing at the New York City pet boutique Trixie + Peanut, Alison Pace, author of A Pug's Tale (Berkeley), and two fans (on the left), held still for a photo.

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

Notes: Sweet and Sour

Get out your handkerchiefs.

Last Saturday, with the cooperation of store staff, Jed Carlson proposed to Emma Beyers at the Red Balloon Bookshop, St. Paul, Minn., according to the Pioneer Press.

The pair are seniors at Bethel University who share a passion for children's books. "Both of our moms are elementary school teachers, and we've always had good books around," Carlson said.

Red Balloon helped out by creating a display of Beyers's favorite children's books with a sign saying "Emma Recommends" and decorated with ribbons using her favorite colors. They also played several of Beyers's favorite songs.

"After she said 'Yes,' the couple had a few quiet moments alone in the stacks," the Pioneer Press wrote. "Then two friends, Jennica LaPlaca and Sam Butler, took photos and admired Beyers' new white-gold diamond engagement ring, and bookstore staff presented the couple with a Red Balloon book bag, a bottle of champagne and champagne flutes."

Red Balloon events coordinator Amy Baum, who had never worked on an event like this before, commented: "It was truly a romantic moment for those of us who live inside the covers of a book."


With government small business advocates like this, who needs enemies?

Australia's Minister for Small Business Nick Sherry said today, "I think in five years, other than a few specialist booksellers in capital cities we will not see a bookstore, they will cease to exist," according to the Canberra Times. He added that growth in online sales is "inevitable."

One of the three major chains in Australia, Angus & Robertson, which includes Borders, declared bankruptcy in February, in part because of growing online sales in Australia by and the U.K.'s

Strangely, Senator Sherry made the comments at the launch of the Driving Business Online campaign, a private-sector initiative that encourages small businesses to boost their online presence.

Australian Booksellers Association CEO Joel Becker told that paper he was "gobsmacked" by the comments and had written to Senator Sherry to say that "it's an industry that's obviously going through changes, and we're responding to those changes by working out ways for even the smallest bookstores to go online and sell e-books, we've been doing it so far without any support from the Government."

Becker added: "We're getting ready to have National Bookshop Day in August celebrating the role of the bookshop in the community and we just found his comments extraordinarily unhelpful. I've asked him to explain them to me, and the rest of the sector for that matter."

ABA president Jon Page of Pages and Pages Booksellers, Sydney, said that Senator Sherry showed "a distinct lack of understanding about the Australian book industry. It seems he'd rather promote overseas businesses who do not collect much needed revenue than help the ones within his portfolio. I doubt he's even looked at any industry stats to make a remark like that."


By August 1, a Books-A-Million outlet will replace the Borders Express store at Millcreek Mall in Erie, Pa., which shut in the rounds of closings following Borders Group's bankruptcy filing earlier this year, the Erie Times-News reported.

The Borders Express store had 5,300 square feet of space.


Will Grossenbacher, who just graduated from Ole Miss, has bought Union Street Books, Canton, Miss., from David Ingebretsen, the Madison County Herald reported.

The store "will be promoted as a local store with Mississippi themes, with books and artwork and crafts from local authors and artists you can't get anywhere else," Grossenbacher told the paper. "I'll continue what David did and sell used books and offer discounts on new ones. I'll work with each customer to help find books they're interested in, especially from Mississippi writers."

Befitting someone his age, Grossenbacher aims to boost the store's online and social media efforts. "I want to get people familiar with the store who haven't been in before," he said. "We'll put as many of our books as we can on our website and use Twitter and our Facebook page to build a customer base and get them used to coming in."


In other news from the Magnolia State, Richard Howorth, owner of Square Books, Oxford, Miss., moved closer to becoming a member of the board of directors of the Tennessee Valley Authority when the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee approved his nomination last week, according to the Tennessean.

Howorth is a former ABA president and former Oxford mayor.


In its tour of pop culture landmarks, the A.V. Travel Club's Pop Pilgrims show journeyed to City Lights, San Francisco, Calif., where it received a short history of the store and publisher from events programmer Peter Maravelis. In addition, Daniel Handler--aka Lemony Snicket--spoke about his experiences as a customer and discovering Baudelaire, who changed his life. See the video here. (Incidentally A.V. is sponsored by Fiat, which has some nice shots of the new Cinquecento.)


Book trailer of the day: Killer Stuff and Tons of Money: Seeking History and Hidden Gems in Flea-Market America by Maureen Stanton (Penguin Press). Check out trailer's gem: a little tap dancer dancing atop a record on an old-fashioned phonograph, filmed at a flea market in Massachusetts.


"During the last 20 years, there's been a kind of quiet war going on. It's over who sells books and how they do it," public radio station KCUR in Kansas City, Mo., observed in a report by Alex Smith, who "visited some local stores to find out what's been happening on the front lines of the retail book war."


The Riverside, Calif., Press-Enterprise profiled several area indie booksellers who said "they are staying afloat by holding onto loyal customers and expanding their thinking beyond the book."

Nadia Lee, co-owner of Downtowne Bookstore, said her shop attracts a substantial tourist as well as local trade: "We're kind of like this little secret people find." She added that the business is constantly experimenting with new ways to bring in customers.

Renaissance Bookshop's owner Gene Berkman "said the business has remained viable by offering specialized service in areas that include history, philosophy, economics, science fiction and foreign language," the Press-Enterprise wrote.

"You kind of have to move with the times," said Jessica Ackerson, manager of the Frugal Frigate children's bookstore.


A pair of West Roxbury, Mass., indie bookstores "say their businesses are indeed sustainable. Although their reasons differ based on their store, the owners of Pazzo Books and Seek Books are connected in both believing that a knowledge of their respective markets is what will continue to drive them forward," the West Roxbury Patch reported.

"I actually think this is a time that independent booksellers could capitalize," said Seek owner Brad Kinne. "Unless you're a big chain in a big space, how can you possibly carry everything? And big chains do have selections of all that stuff, but obviously not enough to keep them in business.... I built the kind of store I would drive two hours to get to," Kinne said.

Tom Nealon owns used and rare bookshop Pazzo Books. Nealon's strategy in adapting to the Internet "has in fact been to use the Internet. Nealon estimates that he does 75% of his business online, with foot traffic being fairly low," the Patch noted.

"[The Internet]'s either going to put you under or you've got to use it like everyone else," Nealon said.


Fans of "the enormous chess set from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone may want to contemplate their next move: Whether to buy a $250, scaled-down version of the game," Wired magazine noted in showcasing the Harry Potter Chess Collection, "which comes with a light-up board, two 'magic wands,' instruction manuals and a certificate of authenticity."


Because "a good novel about the economic slowdown can take the pressure off of another grinding week at the office or on the job hunt," Flavorwire helpfully suggested 10 novels about lost wealth and the Great Recession.


Effective July 1, Perseus Distribution will handle all sales and distribution in the U.S. and Canada for WS Publishing Group, formerly known as Wedding Solutions Publishing. WS Publishing, with headquarters in San Diego, Calif., focuses on wedding planning and wedding-related books as well as baby and pregnancy, children's, diet and fitness, home and finance and self-help titles.

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

Media and Movies

Media Heat: The Ripple Effect

This morning on Imus in the Morning: Alex Prud'homme, author of The Ripple Effect: The Fate of Fresh Water in the Twenty-First Century (Scribner, $27, 9781416535454).


Tomorrow morning on Good Morning America: Tatum O'Neal, author of Found: A Daughter's Journey Home (Morrow, $25.99, 9780062066565).


Tomorrow morning on the Today Show: Jamie Deen, co-author of The Deen Bros. Get Fired Up: Grilling, Tailgating, Picnicking, and More (Ballantine, $25, 9780345513632).

Also on Today tomorrow: Ryan D'Agostino, editor of Esquire's Eat Like a Man: The Only Cookbook a Man Will Ever Need (Chronicle, $30, 9780811877411).


Tomorrow on NPR's Diane Rehm Show: Juliet Eilperin, author of Demon Fish: Travels Through the Hidden World of Sharks (Pantheon, $26.95, 9780375425127).


Tomorrow on Westwood One's Dennis Miller Live: Jeffery Deaver, author of Carte Blanche (Simon & Schuster, $26.99, 9781451620696).

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

Television: I, Claudius Redux

HBO and BBC2 plan to create a new miniseries based on I, Claudius by Robert Graves. reported that the acquisition deal "ends a long series of twists and turns for the rights to a book that was previously turned into an Emmy-winning 13-part miniseries in 1976 by BBC." Although BBC controls the rights to the original TV miniseries, the new HBO/BBC2 production will focus primarily on Graves's books I, Claudius: From the Autobiography of Tiberius Claudius Born 10 B.C. Murdered and Deified A.D. 54 and Claudius The God: And His Wife Messalina.


Movies: The Humbling

Al Pacino and director Barry Levinson--who previously joined forces for HBO's Emmy-winning Jack Kevorkian film You Don't Know Jack--will re-team for a movie adaptation of Philip Roth's novel The Humbling, "which has been set for a fall start and will be financed by Avi Lerner's Millennium Films/Nu Image," reported, adding that the story "revolves around Simon Axler (Pacino), a famous stage actor in decline who is revived when he retires to his upstate New York farmhouse and takes up with a much younger woman. It has a script by Buck Henry, Michal Zebede and Levinson. Levinson will be looking to quickly cast the young female lead, the actor's agent, and several other eccentric characters you would expect in a Roth novel."


Books & Authors

Awards: Amazon Breakthrough, Red House Children's Winners

The winners of the 2011 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award, sponsored by, Penguin Group and CreateSpace and seeking "the next popular novel," are:

General fiction: Gregory Hill for East of Denver
YA fiction: Jill Baguchinsky for Spookygirl

Both authors receive a publishing contract from Penguin Group that includes a $15,000 advance and publication by the Dutton's adult and children's divisions, respectively.


Michael Morpurgo's novel Shadow was the overall winner of this year's Red House Children's Book Awards, which is coordinated by the Federation of Children's Book Groups and is voted for entirely by children. BBC News reported this is the third Red House win for Morpurgo, who becomes the only author to do so in the award's 31-year history. Shadow won the category for younger readers as well as the overall prize.

Other category winners at the Red House book awards were Angela McAllister and Alison Edgson's Yuck! That's Not a Monster (younger children) and Alex Scarrow's TimeRiders (older readers).


A Decade of American Gods--and More

Neil Gaiman has another reason to celebrate: American Gods: The Tenth Anniversary Edition (Morrow, $26.99, 9780062059888) goes on sale next Tuesday, June 21. The commemorative volume includes a bonus for readers: Gaiman's preferred text--12,000 words of content that did not appear in the original--along with an introduction by him.

A simultaneous audiobook (HarperAudio, $34.99, 9780062101914) features a portion of text read by scriptwriter Nicole Quinn, who had the chance to contribute after being tops in a contest. (Coaching by Gaiman and a trip to New York City to do the recording were also part of the prize.) The award-winning fantasy tale about a war on Earth between old gods and new, centering on the adventures of an ex-convict named Shadow, is currently in development as an HBO miniseries.

Gaiman's American Gods Tenth Anniversary Tour kicks off on publication day with a double header. Although an evening appearance at the 92nd Street Y in New York City is sold out, fans can catch him online that afternoon. A conversation between Gaiman and author Kurt Andersen will be broadcast on, after which he'll answer questions from fans via social media. The popular storyteller has nearly 1.6 million followers on Twitter (@neilhimself). Click here for Gaiman's full tour schedule.


Attainment: New Titles Out Next Week

Selected new titles appearing next Tuesday, June 21:

The Devil Colony by James Rollins (Morrow, $27.99, 9780061784781) is a new Sigma Force novel with Painter Crowe.

Silver Girl: A Novel by Elin Hilderbrand (Reagan Arthur, $26.99, 9780316099660) follows the disgraced wife of a fraudulent money manager during a summer on Nantucket.

Disturbance by Jan Burke (Simon & Schuster, $25, 9781439152843) is the latest murder mystery with reporter Irene Kelly.

Starting Over by La Toya Jackson and Jeffré Phillips (Gallery, $26, 9781451620580) chronicles the fifth Jackson sibling's challenges in life and her feelings about the death of her brother Michael.

What a Wonderful World: The Magic of Louis Armstrong's Later Years by Ricky Riccardi (Pantheon, $28.95, 9780307378446) explores the jazz legend's career from the 1950s through his death in 1971.

At the Devil's Table: The Untold Story of the Insider Who Brought Down the Cali Cartel by William C. Rempel (Random House, $27, 9781400068371) reveals how a drug cartel soldier brought down his organization after receiving an unconscionable command.

Book Review

Book Review: The Plain Man

The Plain Man by Steve Englehart (Tor, $25.99 hardcover, 9780765324993, June 21, 2011)

Steve Englehart was one of the most widely recognized comic book writers of the 1970s, with memorable runs on books ranging from Batman to The Avengers. Then, in 1981, he published his first novel: The Point Man was the story of Max August, a Vietnam veteran turned rock 'n' roll DJ who unwittingly stumbled into a Cold War occult conspiracy and was recruited to fight for the good guys--after which, the character disappeared for nearly three decades. When Englehart finally returned to the series with The Long Man (2010), he fixed things so that Max had acquired so much magical knowledge he'd become functionally immortal, or "Timeless," back in 1985--a man in his late 50s with the body of a 35-year-old. (He also picked up a new girlfriend/acolyte; a demonic archenemy had murdered his wife, whose potential reincarnation is a running subplot.)

The Plain Man picks up the story of Max's battle against a right-wing cabal called the FRC in the summer of 2009. He's tracked two of its leaders, who are conducting an illicit romance, to a Burning Man-like festival in the Nevada desert, and is determined to turn at least one of them into a double agent. (In an entertaining twist, the two mystical experts he turns to for help on this project are characters Englehart created for comics in the '80s.) A conspiracy with nine co-directors, however, is bound to have competing agendas, and the novel's perspective constantly shifts, following up on hints dropped in The Long Man and adding a few more narrative threads for good measure.

The basic setup is easy enough to keep track of, however, especially with precise timestamps for each scene--in both the Western calendar and the Mayan version, which is the foundation for Max's modified system of astrology that draws upon 260 asteroids in addition to the usual planets. There's a lot of occult information for readers to absorb, and every once in a while that leads to an excess of exposition-through-dialogue. To counter that problem, Englehart never takes his hand off the throttle, essentially turning Max's war with the FRC into the mystical equivalent of James Bond vs. SMERSH, complete with a plot to set off a nuclear bomb in the Yucca Mountains. And, sure enough, Englehart's ending sets things up for the next sequel, already on the boards as The Arena Man. Presumably, that's not the one where Max will confront the doomsday prophecies of December 2012, but with any luck that story isn't too far off.--Ron Hogan

Shelf Talker: Englehart created Max August long before Dan Brown started writing about Robert Langdon, and his version of the occult thriller has much more verve--plus a willingness to go beyond theory with genuine supernatural action.


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