Shelf Awareness for Thursday, February 16, 2006

Harper Voyager: Dragon Rider (Soulbound Saga #1) by Taran Matharu

Page Street YA: The Final Curse of Ophelia Cray by Christine Calella

HarperOne: I Finally Bought Some Jordans: Essays by Michael Arceneaux

Tor Nightfire: Ghost Station by S.A. Barnes

Severn River Publishing: Covert Action (Command and Control #5) by J.R. Olson and David Bruns

Scholastic Press: Heroes: A Novel of Pearl Harbor by Alan Gratz

Editors' Note

See You Tuesday!

In honor of Presidents' Day, Shelf Awareness is leaving early for the weekend. We'll be back in your e-mailboxes bright and early Tuesday morning. Enjoy the holiday!

HarperOne: Be a Revolution: How Everyday People Are Fighting Oppression and Changing the World--And How You Can, Too by Ijeoma Oluo


Notes: Harry Potter Llega; Russian-American Book Club

Next Thursday, February 23, is el dia de Harry Potter: throughout the Spanish-speaking world, Harry Potter y el Misterio del Principe (Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince) will be released. Spanish house Ediciones Salamandra is publishing three slightly different versions, reflecting idiomatic differences between Spain, Argentina and the rest of Latin America.

Lectorum Publications, the Spanish-language publisher, bookseller and wholesaler owned by Scholastic--and the book's distributor in the U.S.--is having an invitation-only party at 12:30 p.m. on the 23rd in its Libreria Lectorum store in New York City at which Telemundo star and author Maria Celeste Arraras will read from the book.


One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Alexander Solzhenitsyn is the pick for the One Book, One Chicago program, announced yesterday by Mayor Daley at the Near North Library, the Chicago Sun-Times reported. This time the program has an unusual twist: "The Chicago Public Library and the Moscow-based All-Russia State Library for Foreign Literature have formed an international book club," which will allow participants in Chicago to discuss the book online with Russian readers.


Last fall, Menlo Park, Calif., residents rallied around Kepler's Books & Magazines and helped it reopen after its sudden closing. Now many residents are rallying behind the public library whose main branch may close on Sundays because of the city's budget problems, the San Mateo County Times reported.

The Friends of the Library and the Library Foundation both are contributing money to the library, but don't want their funds to be used simply to make up for city cuts. The head librarian said she would be surprised but not shocked if private donors helped out a la Kepler's.


Varsity Group founder Eric Kuhn is giving up the posts of president and CEO to Mark F. Thimmig, former president and CEO of White Hat Ventures, an education management company. Kuhn will continue as chairman of Varsity Group, which began as an online textbook seller but has graduated into a company that acts as a contract online bookstore for colleges and high schools and sells school uniforms.


John Chase has joined as chief financial officer, succeeding Bryan Wilson, who is retiring after five years as CFO of the company and 15 years as CFO for other technology companies.

Chase has been CFO of Power Measurement, an energy management technology company for two years, and CFO of GoApply, Inc. Earlier he was a chief financial officer for until it and were bought by Amazon. After the purchase, he was chief financial executive for Amazon's marketplace division and then director of finance, planning and analysis.

Harpervia: Behind You Is the Sea by Susan Muaddi Darraj

Sony Aims for User-Friendly Reader; Amazon's New Tune

Today's Wall Street Journal offers updates on the digital wars.

As it readies for a spring launch of the Sony Reader, retailing for $300-$400, Sony is trying to loosen up its usual strict controls on content use, which have turned off some potential customers, the paper reported. A Japanese version of the Reader, introduced in 2004, for example, allowed owners to use books for only a few months, after which they were "deactivated." By contrast, the U.S. version may allow users to keep the books they've downloaded and transfer them to as many as six other devices. It will also be able to read common document formats such as Word and PDFs. In addition, Sony will set up a Web site for individuals and small publishers to post material that can be downloaded to the Reader.

"The general idea is that there is a need to create more open . . . digital-rights-management technologies," Ron Hawkins, Sony's v-p of portable reader systems in the U.S., told the Journal.

Also, in a challenge to Apple's iTunes, is orchestrating a major entry into the music-downloading market that will center on "Amazon-branded portable music players, designed and built for the retailer, and a subscription service that would deeply discount and preload those devices with songs, not unlike mobile phones that are included with subscription plans." Amazon, which is digitizing all kinds of texts, has a 10% share of digital music player sales. This would be Amazon's first attempt to sell its own branded player.

University of California Press: The Accidental Ecosystem: People and Wildlife in American Cities by Peter S. Alagona

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Healthy Living; Heavyweights; Civility

Today on Good Morning America, Alexander Tsiaras talks about the harmful affects of a poor lifestyle on the heart, as explored in his new book, The InVision Guide to a Healthy Heart (Collins, $19.95, 0060855932).


Today on WAMU's Diane Rehm Show, Charles Fishman pitches his The Wal-Mart Effect: How the World's Most Powerful Company Really Works (Penguin, $25.95, 1594200769).


Today on WNYC's Leonard Lopate Show:

  • Maile Meloy, who speaks about her novel A Family Daughter (Scribner, $24, 074327766X).
  • David Margolick, who goes a few rounds about the famous 1938 Louis/Schmeling heavyweight bout, the subject of his new book, Beyond Glory: Joe Louis vs. Max Schmeling, and a World on the Brink (Knopf, $26.95, 0375411925).


Today KCRW's Bookworm features Tim Winton, author of The Turning: New Stories (Scribner, $25, 0743276930). As the show puts it: "Tim Winton has been declared a National Treasure in his native Australia. His characters are ordinary people defined by narrow economic choices, by the facts of weather and geography, and by their addictions. We talk about how, as characters recur in story after story, they acquire the spiritual dimension that is the hallmark of Winton's fiction."


Tonight on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Billy Crystal laughs about his Long Island roots and relationship with his father as described in his book 700 Sundays (Warner, $21.95, 0446578673).


Tomorrow on WNYC's Leonard Lopate Show, Cheryl Strayed discusses her new novel, Torch (Houghton Mifflin, $24, 0618472177), about how a family deals with the mother's death from cancer.


Tomorrow on the View, Norah Vincent shares his and her experiences living as a man from her new book, Self-Made Man: One Woman's Journey into Manhood and Back (Viking, $24.95, 0670034665).

On CBS's Sunday Morning, P. M. Forni politely explains his new book, Choosing Civility: The Twenty-five Rules of Considerate Conduct (St. Martin's/Griffin, $11.95, 0312302509).

Deeper Understanding

Pub Realities No Mystery for Edgar-Nominated Rep-Author

In some ways, Mike Spradlin sounds like a typical modest author whose first work of fiction has just gained a nice bit of recognition--in his case, an Edgar nomination in the YA category. "When you work on something like this really hard, you hope it's good," he told Shelf Awareness. "When you get independent validation like this, it's a really good feeling." He also said it's "a little nerve-wracking" to know that on April 27, the night of the Edgar Awards banquet in New York City, he will be on a program with people like Michael Connelly and Carl Hiaasen. "I will feel like some kind of imposter," he said.

Spradlin is all the more thankful because he knows more than most new authors about the publishing process--he has been a sales rep at Avon and HarperCollins (since Harper bought Morrow and Avon) for 16 years, selling to Borders most of that time. "It's a blessing and a curse" to be in the industry, he said. "I know a lot of books get published every day, and it's hard to get attention. There is so much competition for people's time. A lot of writers don't realize that how much you have to really work at promoting your book and talking about it. You have to be kind of the noisy stepchild."

Spradlin's Edgar nominee is the first in a new series and is called Spy Goddess: Live and Let Shop, published in hardcover last March and just out in paperback (Avon, $5.99, 0060594098). Spradlin described the Spy Goddess series premise in almost telegraphic style: "A girl gets sent to boarding school and discovers that the headmaster is a former top secret agent who is looking for agents and leads the students to become agents when they're old enough."

The hardcover was a critical success and did well in schools and libraries, he said. School Library Journal wrote: "Spradlin captures the perfect teenage voice in his protagonist; she is more than just a spoiled, fashion-conscious teen from Beverly Hills--she is the Spy Goddess--witty and smart with an edge. Overall, this is an intelligent, exciting mystery that will have broad appeal." And Booklist said that "boys as well as girls will be attracted" to the book.

The second book in the series, Spy Goddess: To Hawaii with Love (HarperCollins, $15.99, 0060594101), has just been published in hardcover. If the paperback of Live and Let Shop takes off, Spradlin has more titles for Harper to shop. "I have most of the third [volume of Spy Goddess] written," he said. "I had plotted out five or six at the very beginning. Each book comes to a fairly satisfying ending, but they could go on for quite a while." Like Rachel Buchanan, his protagonist, "I'm open to more adventure," he laughed.

Spradlin has had the Spy Goddess adventure in mind for a long time. He wrote a picture book, Legend of Blue Jacket, published in 2002, and "thoroughly enjoyed the experience and wanted to do more." But the picture book market is tough, so he "started thinking along the lines of fiction." He had sold children's books at Avon before the HarperCollins purchase, "and for years I'd had the idea of a school for spies, but I didn't have the niggling details like a character or plot," he continued, laughing again. "Then one day this character, a young girl, popped into my mind. After that, it was as though a movie screen went on in my head." Working at night and on weekends, he came up with a draft in four months.

At that point, he showed it to Elise Howard at HarperCollins Children's Books, who had been a colleague at Avon. "She encouraged me a lot and gave me the option that I could take it somewhere else if I wanted or she might be interested." Although Spradlin said "there are pros and cons of publishing where you work," he chose to publish with Howard in large part because HarperCollins Children's "is a totally separate division and I have tremendous respect for her."

Spradlin had nothing but positive words for the experience, saying "everyone at Harper has been supportive and great." And at the children's division's sales conference, "everyone said polite things--I hear."

A national account manager in the adult division who sells a group of adult imprints to Borders, Spradlin doesn't have to represent his own title. He has sold to Borders since 1992, when the company consisted of just 17 stores. For a time, he was familiar enough with each new Borders store to be able to recommend some on publicity tours. "But after they grew to 65, I couldn't do that anymore," he said with a laugh.

Spradlin is having fun with several other book projects. Walker has signed him to do two historical picture books. One is about the Texas Rangers--"how they formed and their history of 175 years," Spradlin said. The other is called Daniel Boone's Great Escape, the true story of how Boone ran 160 miles in four days after escaping from Shawnee Indians who had held him captive for four months. The title is being illustrated by Ard Hoyt, best known for illustrating I'm a Manatee by John Lithgow. "Ard and I met at a conference and hit it off," Spradlin said. "I told him about the story and he said he'd love to illustrate it if I ever sold the proposal."

It's not hard to imagine that even if he doesn't have to stand and give an acceptance speech on April 27, Spradlin will have enjoyed the recognition--and perhaps made a connection or two that will lead to another project.

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