Shelf Awareness for Thursday, July 7, 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: Sholem Aleichem

The Jewish Book Council and Jewcy magazine hosted a reception at Le Poisson Rouge in New York City Wednesday night to celebrate the upcoming release of Sholem Aleichem: Laughing in the Darkness, a documentary about the great pioneer of Yiddish literature. Although he is best known to American audiences, if they've heard of him, for creating the stories that inspired Fiddler on the Roof, he also wrote many other novels and stories. Jason Diamond, the editor-in-chief of Jewcy, observed that Aleichem was sometimes called "the Jewish Mark Twain," and suggested that if Mark Twain could have a resurgence in popularity, "maybe it's time Sholem Aleichem got a second glance, too." Some of the guest authors paid tribute by reading excerpts from classic stories such as "Pity for the Living" or "A Page from the Song of Songs," while others talked about their grandparents, who were of Sholem Aleichem's generation and emigrated to New York City around the same time, and there was also a robust selection of Yiddish curses (in translation), ranging in severity from "Leeches should drink him dry!" to "God should visit upon him the best of the Ten Plagues."

Sholem Alecheim has a one-week limited engagement at the Lincoln Plaza Cinema in Manhattan beginning July 8. You can watch the trailer here. --Ron Hogan

Pictured: (l.-r.) Matthue Roth, Jason Diamond, Laurie Gwen Shapiro, Adam Wilson, Rachel Shukert, Jonathan Wilson, Joanna Smith Rakoff and Jeremy Dauber.

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

Notes: Borders Stock a Risky Business; Shoplifting's Decline

File this one under the not-so-shocking news category. In a filing with the SEC this week, Borders Group warned investors that buying its stock "is highly speculative and poses substantial risks." If last week's $215-million bid by Direct Brands--owned by private equity firm Najafi Companies--to buy most of the company is approved by a bankruptcy court later this month, Borders "would become a subsidiary of Direct Brands and its stock would no longer be traded if the company goes private," the Detroit News reported.

Borders said in its filing "the company expects that its currently outstanding common stock will have no value." The New York Stock Exchange stopped trading Borders after the bookseller filed for bankruptcy protection in February, with a final sale price of 23 cents per share. The stock has been trading over the counter, where it plunged from 24 cents a share to 9 cents Tuesday, the Detroit News wrote.

International Business Times noted that yesterday, Borders stock finished at 7 cents per share, after opening at 9 cents, but Borders warned in the SEC filing that trading prices "may bear little or no relationship to the actual recovery, if any, by holders in our Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings. Accordingly, the company urges extreme caution with respect to existing and future investments in its common stock."


The Booksellers Association in the U.K. will formally oppose's plan to acquire the Book Depository International (Shelf Awareness, July 5, 2011), the Bookseller reported, adding that the Office of Fair Trading is investigating the deal and the Publishers Association "already has a lawyer working on its submission to the OFT."

BA CEO Tim Godfray said booksellers are contending with increased pressure and competition from internet retailing and the acquisition would put a "dominant player into an even stronger position.... Amazon's current position could be perceived by booksellers already as that of a de facto monopoly that doesn’t take into account this new proposed development and its recent positioning as an e-book publisher. It is good news that this matter is being referred to the OFT. We in the book trade need to be ever-mindful of the fact that high street retailers cannot survive as showrooms for internet retailers indefinitely. We urge anyone with an interest in this matter to make their views known to the OFT."


As we proceed through the age of the e-book, will shoplifting traditional books become a dying art? In the Daily Beast, Rachel Shteir anticipated the "End of Shoplifting Books" and suggested "book shoplifting differs from other variations of the five-finger discount in that it seems to arise, at least in some instances, not merely out of a desire to resell the stolen item, but from an aspirational craving to read--to be literary--or some other high-minded hunger, such as the one for knowledge."

Shteir also noted that one way to consider book shoplifting's rise and potential decline "is to think about how it is linked to the paperback. The most evocative accounts of the crime were written in the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s, after publishers invented mass market paperbacks, which were lightweight, cheap, and easily stolen."


"Someone let the clowns into the bookstore," the San Francisco Chronicle noted in its look at indie bookstores and their increasing role as community centers. The Chronicle visited the Booksmith for "a monthly event called Literary Clown Foolery.... Based on what could only be called a loose interpretation of Armistead Maupin's Mary Ann in Autumn, the show drew a crowd of about 50 into a neighborhood bookshop whose owners now do a lot more than sell books."

"We saw the Booksmith as the perfect place for a lab experiment," said Christin Evans, co-owner of the bookshop with Praveen Madan. "Our goal was to create an inviting, welcoming space. Our business plan was to do anything that Amazon and Google won't."

Elaine Petrocelli, founder of Book Passage, observed: "Our business model is, I love to go out on floor and sell books because that's where I learn what works." Book Passage sponsors literary luncheons, three writers conferences, more than 750 author events and 300 classes a year at its locations in Corte Madera and San Francisco.


Fairfield University, Fairfield, Conn., is opening a bookstore in the 23,000-sq.-ft. location on the Post Road that was occupied by a Borders store that closed in May, the Daily Fairfield reported.

The store will open in October and stock textbooks for university students as well as bestsellers and general interest books. The store will also sell university merchandise and athletic apparel for several local high schools. The university aims to have a national chain operate a café in the location and may sell computers.

University president Jeffery von Arx commented: "It is our hope that the store will serve as a meeting place and a destination for residents and guests. We are planning to use the store to house some of our programming--lectures from scholars and author readings and other small cultural events--and it is our anticipation that by opening a Fairfield University Bookstore downtown, we will bring the intellectual and cultural life of our university more fully into the heart of the community."

A Book Warehouse outlet and Taj Café are operating temporarily in the location. Fairfield University has signed a 10-year lease for the site.


DIESEL, A Bookstore, is getting a lot of love lately. In addition to Charles McLeod's comments in the San Francisco Chronicle (Shelf Awareness, July 6, 2011), another former bookseller, Geo Ong, wrote a thank-you letter to the bookshop on the Urchin Movement blog, observing: "[Bookstores] have the ability to become an entire person, or even an entire group of people--with thoughts, concerns, and opinions that shape both who we think we are and who we can be--and they can reflect what is going on in our world and society at almost any given moment, even the future....

"For two years I've been a part of a bookstore that steadfastly maintains its identity and embraces its role as a hub of culture, an intellectual thoroughfare, as all good bookstores have the ability to be and should strive to be. DIESEL, there isn't another bookstore exactly like you, but there are bookstores with the same steadfastness, the same integrity, with perhaps a similar spirit. And for that, I thank you."


Cool idea of the day: Vroman's, Pasadena, Calif., is posting customers' "Vroman's Stories." Participants can win a gift basket of Pasadena merchandise worth $400. Staff stories include one bookseller recalling the first time she met her future husband, a fellow bookseller, at the store.


Lisa Napoli, formerly a reporter for NPR's Marketplace, recently spent five months traveling the country promoting her new book, Radio Shangri-La, an account of setting up a radio station in Bhutan. She visited and plugged her book at a range of bookstores, including Chaucer's, Quail Ridge Books & Music, Books & Books and Left Bank Books as well as libraries, book clubs, book festivals, luncheons, museums, radio stations and more.

In a post on her blog called Adventures in Bookselling, Napoli recounts her travels and the lessons learned. Her takeaway: "In this year, 2011, writing a book isn't just about writing a book. It's about selling your book--and there's no one way to do it, and no one like you to do it. (Although it is hardly a solo pursuit: you need to enlist a small army of supporters every step of the way.) I've loved every single crazy often exhausting minute of the last five months, the people I've met, the old friends and colleagues who've showed up along the way, visiting bookstores and libraries and luncheons in beautiful communities filled with people who love books, love reading, love learning."


"In one sentence, what do you actually do all day in your job?" New York magazine asked author Ann Brashares in a lightning-fast Q&A. Her response: "Avoid writing/pretend to write/actually write."


Salon explored the imaginary stacks of the Invisible Library, which stores "those books that exist only within works of fiction."


Jane Austen and William Shakespeare were notably absent from the Huffington Post's "Americans pick their favorite British authors."


Flavorwire showcased the "best illustrations from 130 years of the Brothers Grimm."


NPR featured its picks for the "summer's biggest, juiciest nonfiction adventures."


Inkheart trilogy author Cornelia Funke chose her top 10 fairytales for the Guardian, while cautioning that she was "not sure I should call the 10 I have picked my favourites. Some of them made a huge impression on me as a child with their haunting sadness and images that speak to us in far more than just words. Others I only just discovered when I did my research for Reckless. Are the tales about Arthur fairytales? And how about the Mabinogion, my favourite collection of folklore? I didn't put either of them on my list, as they each encompass too vast a universe. I chose instead short and more isolated tales. Though, of course, once you have a closer look, they are all related, as they all speak about human nature."


Ernesto Martinez has joined Bookmasters as manager of Spanish-language products and programs. For the past five years, he has been Borders's Spanish-language book buyer.

Martinez began his career working for a design firm in Mexico, then was production and sales manager for a Mexican publishing company and eventually worked for a Spanish book distributor in Chicago before joining Borders.

Larry Bennett, president of Bookmasters' international division, said Martinez "brings to Bookmasters a wealth of knowledge about Spanish language titles, publishers, and authors as well as great contacts among Spanish-language publishers in the U.S. and overseas. He will lead a team that provides comprehensive distribution, print-on-demand, and e-book services to overseas publishers seeking distribution in the U.S. and abroad."


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

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Psychic Intelligence

Tomorrow on the View: Terry and Linda Jamison, co-authors of Psychic Intelligence: Tune In and Discover the Power of Your Intuition (Grand Central, $26.99, 9780446563420).


Tomorrow on the Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson: Larry King, author of Truth Be Told: Off the Record about Favorite Guests, Memorable Moments, Funniest Jokes, and a Half Century of Asking Questions (Weinstein, $25, 9781602861305).

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

This Weekend on Book TV: The Last Gunfight

Book TV airs on C-Span 2 this week 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, July 9

12 p.m. Civil War historians Harold Holzer, James McPherson and Stephen Sears recount the Battle of Antietam, which was fought in September of 1862 in Sharpsburg, Md. (Re-airs Saturday at 12 p.m., Sunday at 6 p.m. and Monday at 1 a.m.)

1:15 p.m. Jeff Guinn talks about his book The Last Gunfight: The Real Story of the Shootout at the O.K. Corral--and How It Changed the American West (S&S, $27, 9781439154243). (Re-airs Saturday at 9:15 p.m. and Monday at 2:15 a.m.)

2 p.m. Tim Flannery, author of Here on Earth: A Natural History of the Planet (Atlantic Monthly Press, $25, 9780802119766), discusses the evolution of the Earth since the Big Bang. (Re-airs Sunday at 4 a.m. and 10 p.m.)

5:15 p.m. Catherine Herridge, author of The Next Wave: On the Hunt for Al Qaeda’s American Recruits (Crown Forum, $25, 9780307885258), examines the threat of homegrown terrorism in the U.S. and what the government is doing to combat it.

7:45 p.m. Gordon Wood, author of The Idea of America: Reflections on the Birth of the United States (Penguin, $29.95, 9781594202902), presents a series of essays that examines the underpinnings of the American Revolution. (Re-airs Sunday at 8 a.m. and Monday at 5 a.m.)

10 p.m. After Words. David Ignatius interviews Charles Hill, author of Trial of a Thousand Years: World Order and Islamism (Hoover Institution Press, $19.95, 9780817913243) (Re-airs Sunday at 9 p.m., and Monday at 12 a.m. and 3 a.m.)

Sunday, July 10

12:15 a.m. Former Mexican foreign minister Jorge Castaneda, author of Manana Forever?: Mexico and the Mexicans (Knopf, $27.95, 9780375404245), explores the challenges facing his country. (Re-airs Sunday at 2:30 p.m.)

4 p.m. From this year's Gaithersburg Book Festival, a "State of the Book" panel features Jed Lyons, president and CEO of Rowman & Littlefield; Geoff Shandler, editor-in-chief, Little, Brown; Gail Ross, founder and president, Ross Yoon Agency; and Mark LaFramboise, bookseller, Politics & Prose Bookstore, Washington, D.C. (Re-airs Monday at 7 a.m.)


Television: Skinny Dip

HBO is putting Carl Hiaasen's novel Skinny Dip into development, with Michael Keaton serving as executive producer and Michael Oates Palmer (Rubicon, Army Wives and The West Wing) writing the screenplay, Variety reported.


HP7 Countdown: Bookstore Fun; Astounding Props; Magical Sets

This Saturday Hogwarts is coming to Annapolis Bookstore, Annapolis, Md., which is hosting an event where Harry Potter fans can "take your place under the sorting hat and receive a patch from your assigned house" (Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw or Slytherinthen), then students will be able to attend classes in divination, charms and potions, and the history of magic, followed by dessert at the Three Broomsticks.

Last month, Bookmans Entertainment Exchange, Tucson, Ariz., joined forces with the Pima County Public Library to host a Potter Palooza, which drew 2,000 people to sample butterbeer, participate in numerous events and listen to a concert by Harry and the Potters.


Entertainment Weekly featured 23 astounding props "that brought the Potter saga to life--and sometimes came to life themselves."


Last July, EW toured the "magical sets" of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2 at Leavesden Studios "just days before the magical scenery was to be dismantled--for one last glimpse at a spellbinding world."


Books & Authors

Awards: Samuel Johnson; South African Booksellers’ Choice

Frank Dikötter won the £20,000 (US$32,128) Samuel Johnson prize for nonfiction for his book Mao's Great Famine: The History of China's Most Devastating Catastrophe, 1958-1962, the Guardian reported.  

Chair of judges Ben Macintyre called Mao's Great Famine the book of the year: "This is not just an important book now, but it will become in some ways more important, as China becomes more powerful in the world and a greater part of global consciousness. To understand why China is the way it is, you almost have to read this book."


Finalists for this year's Nielsen BookData Booksellers’ Choice Award, which honors the book that South African booksellers most enjoyed reading, selling or promoting over the past year, are:

50 People Who Stuffed Up South Africa by Alexander Parker, illustrated by Zapiro
Awesome South Africa: The Best, Greatest, Craziest, Biggest and Funniest by Derryn Campbell
Evita’s Kossie Sikelela by Evita Bezuidenhout
Four Drunk Beauties by Alex Smith
Happiness is a Four-letter Word by Cynthia Jele
Zoo City by Lauren Beukes

Book Review

Book Review: David Bowie: Starman

David Bowie: Starman by Paul Trynka (Little, Brown, $25.99 hardcover, 9780316032254 July 18, 2011)

It seems fitting that the "real" David Bowie, long a master of chameleon-like ch-ch-changes, has remained an enigma despite a slew of biographies. While Paul Trynka's new book--unauthorized by Bowie and containing no new interviews with him--does not solve the mystery or provide anecdotes of the "never before revealed" variety, it does offer a very thoughtful and meticulously researched study of one of rock's few supernovas, as well as the era that produced him.

A former editor of MOJO magazine, Trynka's enthusiasm and passion for music is evident throughout Starman, which is more of a love letter to the work Bowie produced than to the man himself. As a result, much knowledgeable attention is devoted here to the particulars of songs, albums and production--a somewhat rare treat in rock bios, as ironic as that seems. Ever wondered how Robert Fripp achieved that beautiful and haunting guitar sound on "Heroes"? That's just one of the satisfying morsels that are packed like bonbons into this particular box of chocolates.

Which is not to say there aren't plenty of gossipy (albeit restrained) tidbits here as well. Trynka conducted more than 250 new interviews for this book, including Bowie's childhood friends and ex-wife (and Ziggy Stardust designer) Angie, and combines them here with previously published Bowie interviews, creating as intimate a portrait as possible of a man whose one consistency seemed to be an almost supernatural drive for success. Through a recounting of his early years (and many bands), Trynka offers evidence that, although capable, Bowie was not himself a particularly gifted musician. Rather, his brilliance was in extracting and combining the musical gifts of others. The famous Oscar Wilde quote, "Talent borrows, genius steals" might have been written for David Bowie, who stole the best and created out of it something wholly unique and fantastic.

Of course, in order for Bowie to succeed as he did, the timing had to be right as well. Trynka does a terrific job describing the scene in London, New York and Los Angeles in the 1970s; the acceptance of anything-goes debauchery, the celebration of cocaine as a high-class aide to creativity (rather than the highly addictive drug we now know it to be) and the inexorable shift of the music industry into big business.

Following a major heart attack and surgery in 2004, Bowie all but disappeared from public view. Trynka speculates on why but doesn't spend much time discussing this (nor much of what many fans consider Bowie's subpar post-Scary Monsters work). What he does do--admirably--with this fine biography is to foster a whole new appreciation of an artist who inspired countless others. --Debra Ginsberg

Shelf Talker: A thorough and thoughtful biography of superstar chameleon David Bowie, which also sheds light on the era in which he became famous.



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, July 3:

1. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
2. The Help by Kathryn Stockett
3. One Summer by David Baldacci
4. Keys to the Kingdom by Senator Bob Graham
5. The Beach Trees by Karen White
6. The Postmistress by Sarah Blake
7. Through My Eyes by Tim Tebow
8. The Aging Myth by Joseph Chang
9. Faithful Place by Tana French
10. Go the F**k to Sleep by Adam Mansbach

Reporting bookstores and their handselling favorites:

Books & Books, Coral Gables, Miami Beach, Bal Harbour: Before I Go to Sleep by S.J. Watson
Book Mark, Neptune Beach: Folly Beach by Dorothea Benton Frank
Inkwood Books, Tampa
Vero Beach Book Center: Secret Daughter by Shilpi Somaya Gowda

[Many thanks to the booksellers and Carl Lennertz!]

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