Shelf Awareness for Thursday, July 14, 2011

Workman Publishing: Meltdown: Discover Earth's Irreplaceable Glaciers and Learn What You Can Do to Save Them by Anita Sanchez, illustrated by Lily Padula

Tor Teen: The Luminaries by Susan Dennard

Graphix: The Tryout: A Graphic Novel by Christina Soontornvat, illustrated by Joanna Cacao

Yen on: Dark Souls: Masque of Vindication by Michael Stackpole

Grove Press: A Ballet of Lepers: A Novel and Stories by Leonard Cohen

Apollo Publishers: Why Not?: Lessons on Comedy, Courage, and Chutzpah by Mark Schiff

John Scognamiglio Book: In the Time of Our History by Susanne Pari


Image of the Day: Junie Does Seattle

Last week, more than 400 people came to University Book Store, Seattle, Wash., to see the Junie B. Jones tour bus and actors. Here, excited about the arrival, are University Book Store staffers (from l.) Susan Todd, Amanda Corr and Jessica Perez.


Flyaway Books: The Coat by Séverine Vidal, illustrated by Louis Thomas

Notes: Najafi 'Withdraws' Borders Bid; ABA Chides Amazon

The Borders Group moved closer to liquidation yesterday when the committee of unsecured creditors objected to the potential sale of the company to Najafi Companies because Najafi could buy Borders and then liquidate it at a lower price than if Borders were sold directly to liquidators.

The objection raised confusion about the status of Najafi's offer. In a letter to staff, Borders president Mike Edwards spoke of Najafi's "withdrawal" of its bid. But Najafi said that its offer remains even though the unsecured creditors and some landlords object to it.

In a motion filed with the federal bankruptcy court in Manhattan, the unsecured creditors committee "expressed concern that the agreement could allow Najafi to buy the company at a low price and then liquidate Borders later without letting creditors benefit," the New York Times reported. Borders is scheduled to confirm the terms of the court-supervised auction at a court hearing today.

The filing claimed the agreement "neither maximizes value for the benefit of unsecured creditors nor provides for the other benefits of a going concern," and recommended that Borders pursue the back-up plan: a bid proposed by a group of liquidator firms led by the Gordon Brothers Group and Hilco. The Times noted that this rejection of Najafi Companies "does not necessarily consign Borders to liquidation. The company is scheduled to begin a court-supervised auction on July 19, and Najafi and other potential bidders, like the Gores Group, can still bid."

"While we regret Najafi's withdrawal as the stalking horse bidder, we remain hopeful that they or other potential bidders who are interested in operating Borders as a going concern will choose to participate in the auction process on July 19," wrote Borders president Edwards in a memo.

A spokesman for Najafi commented: "We regret to confirm that Direct Brand's proposed agreement to keep Borders operating is no longer supported by the deciding parties. However, we remain willing, ready and able to move forward should the deciding parties instead choose to work with us and our existing offer."


The American Booksellers Association has some choice words in response to Amazon's call for a voter referendum on California's new sales tax fairness law (Shelf Awareness, July 12, 2011):

"Having long behaved as if tax laws don't apply to them, has now announced its intention to spend millions of dollars in an effort to get a tax-evasion referendum on the ballot in California," said ABA CEO Oren Teicher, speaking on behalf of ABA, the Northern California Independent Booksellers Association and the Southern California Independent Booksellers Association, all of which are members of the Alliance for Main Street Fairness. "California has made clear that it's not the role of government to pick favorites among retail businesses. The time has come for to collect and remit the required sales tax--just like every other California retailer. If is not prepared to do the right thing, we urge the state Board of Equalization to pursue all available means to compel to comply with the law, just as 164,000 California retailers do every day."


Indie booksellers nationwide are basking in the retail glow of George R.R. Martin's A Dance with Dragons. The New York Times reported the book, which was released Tuesday, "quickly emerged as their biggest book of the summer, selling rapidly despite its doorstopper appearance (1,016 pages) and hefty price ($35 undiscounted)."

"What’s been really interesting is the physical-digital split," said Scott Shannon, publisher of digital content for Random House. "These days, for a lot of our big titles, digital is outselling physical. That’s not what we’re seeing here, and it really speaks to George’s fan base."

"It's a wonderful phenomenon," said Cathy Langer of Tattered Cover Bookstore, Denver, Colo. "The anticipation has been palpable. People are discovering him now who had never heard of him because of the TV series, so he has all kinds of new readers."

Paul Ingram of Prairie Lights, Iowa City, called the book "sort of a Harry Potter for everybody."

"It wasn't until a few weeks ago that I realized how big of a deal this was going to be," said Annie Shapiro of Book Culture, New York, N.Y. "I can barely keep the backlist in stock. For the last few weeks I was just ordering them in ridiculous quantities."


Amazon plans to introduce its highly anticipated tablet computer before October, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing "people familiar with the matter" who said the company will also release two updated versions of the Kindle in the third quarter of the year, including a touch-screen device and an improved, but cheaper, adaptation of the current Kindle.

The Journal's sources also revealed that the new Amazon tablet "will have a roughly nine-inch screen... and will run on Google Inc.'s Android operating system. The online retailer isn't designing the device itself, but is outsourcing production to an Asian manufacturer." The device will not, however, have a camera.

Yesterday Amazon lowered the price on its Kindle 3G with Special Offers to $139 due to a sponsorship deal with AT&T. Amazon already absorbs the cost of AT&T's service for Kindle 3G owners, who do not have to deal with monthly fees, data plans or annual contracts. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos offered "big thank you to AT&T for helping to make the new $139 price possible." Forbes reported that "customers are likely to see AT&T ads replace the Kindle’s customary screensaver, as well as ads featured along the bottom of pages."

Amazon "already prices the Kindle at near-break-even levels, so the fact that Amazon got AT&T to effectively underwrite its latest price cut may help assuage concerns that the company’s already-thin margins will survive this latest move to keep its lead in this market segment," MarketWatch noted.


Not wanting to be left behind in the current e-reader evolution frenzy, Sony will introduce a line of upgraded digital book readers in the U.S. as early August "with hardware and software improvements," just ahead of the company's first tablets, which are scheduled to go on sale later this year, Business Week reported.

"Sony appears to be struggling to expand its e-reader business as fast as it had originally planned,” said Nobuo Kurahashi, analyst at Mizuho Financial Group.


Sometimes poetry just isn't inspiring enough. The night before matches, French women’s soccer team coach Bruno Bini "reads poetry to his players and sings with them to lyrics he has written about cheering and spirit," the New York Times reported.

"That's my way of life, of working," Bini said. "Literature and poetry and music are my instruments to convey my messages to the team."

Unfortunately, a little literary inspiration does not always go a long way at the Women's World Cup. Yesterday, the U.S. team defeated France 3-1 in a semi-final match.


Fact & Fiction bookstore, Missoula, Mont., is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. Former owner Barbara Theroux, who sold her business to the University Center Bookstore three years ago, cited persistence as a key to opening and running an independent bookstore.

"You have to do your homework. You keep going," she told the Missoulian, adding, "It's time and patience to allow the concept of word of mouth. In the meantime, you hope that the money you have won't run out."

Theroux credits the city for most of the bookstore's success: "Missoula is pretty supportive of independent local businesses." When she put her shop on the market, University Center Bookstore general manager Bryan Thornton approached her with an offer. "We believed that a solid downtown near a university should have a local bookstore," he said. "The advantage of an independent bookstore is that it can better reflect a community. It adds a certain distinction."

The Missoulian noted that Theroux still works in the shop on Higgins Avenue with the same staff as before. "We'll continue doing what we do," she said. "It's consistency. It's maintaining a consistency of service."


Cool idea of the day: Roxanne Coady, owner of R.J. Julia Booksellers, Madison, Conn., is teaming up with Greg Nobile of Greg Nobile Presents for the first of what might develop into a monthly series of events, the Branford Patch reported.

On June 21, Coady will interview James B. Stewart, former page-one editor at the Wall Street Journal and author of several books including his latest, Tangled Webs. The event will be held at the Katherine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center (The Kate) in old Saybrook, and benefit Branford's Read to Grow program.

The Branford Patch noted that Coady "is invigorated and energized about the interview" as well as the partnership with GNP, which "is allowing her to bring her intimate conversations with renowned authors and celebrities out of the small space of the bookstore and onto a large stage for many to enjoy. "We’re booksellers, not producers," she said, adding that the interview is "good for the vitality of the community, good for economic development and it’s fun. Getting these authors is good for everyone. It’s good because more people should read."


Today is Bastille Day, and three independent bookstores are celebrating with contests tied to French Classics Made Easy by Richard Grausman (Workman). Check out Changing Hands Celebrates French Classics, Celebrate Bastille Day at Rakestraw Books and Blue Willow Bookshop's "Crumbs in Our Pages," s'il vous plaît. In addition, Workman is sponsoring a blogger Bastille Day Challenge blogger contest. 


Beginning in early September, the University of Texas at Austin's Harry Ransom Center will feature an exhibition titled "The Greenwich Village Bookshop Door: A Portal to Bohemia, 1920–1925," showcasing "how one artifact, in this case a door from a Greenwich Village bookshop in the 1920s, can serve as a starting point to reconstruct the history of a time and place."

The door from Frank Shay's bookshop on Christopher Street is covered with signatures of noteworthy visitors to the location, including Theodore Dreiser, John Dos Passos, Upton Sinclair, Sherwood Anderson, Sinclair Lewis and Vachel Lindsay. When the shop closed in 1925, manager Juliette Koenig preserved the door, which the Ransom Center purchased in 1960 and added it to the collection of Christopher Morley.


Reading Is Fundamental's Be Book Smart Smart Car visited Santa Monica, Calif., last Sunday, stopping by the Main Street farmers market as well as Every Picture Tells a Story bookstore, where children's author Laura Numeroff was visiting, the Santa Monica Patch reported.


Book trailer of the day: The Way by Kristen Wolf (Crown).


Sarah Ketchersid has been promoted from senior editor to executive editor at Candlewick Press. In her 10 years with Candlewick, she has edited such noteworthy titles as Caldecott Honor book Interrupting Chicken by David Ezra Stein and A Visitor for Bear by Bonny Becker, illustrated by Kady MacDonald Denton, which won the 2009 E.B. White Read Aloud Award for Picture Books.

Soho Crime: Blown by the Same Wind (Cold Storage Novel) by John Straley

Obituary Note: Clara Heyworth

Clara Heyworth, marketing manager for Verso, N.Y., died Monday from injuries sustained when she was hit by a car as she crossed a street in Brooklyn Sunday. In a tribute on Verso's website, Tariq Ali called the loss "immeasurable. Clara was a young woman with many qualities. She first came to us as office manager and publicist in the London office in 2006, delighting everyone with her enthusiasm and intelligence, a knowledge of our publishing history and a no-nonsense approach to everyone, including senior staff. While her primary interest was in publicity she had very strong editorial views and intervened forcefully whenever she felt that by taking on an inappropriate manuscript Verso's standards would be diluted.

"A young life so meaninglessly and prematurely truncated pains us all, but we will not forget her or her bright-eyed smile that so often lit an entire office."

AuthorBuzz for the Week of 08.08.22

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Brain Bugs

Today on Fresh Air: Dean Buonomano, author of Brain Bugs: How the Brain's Flaws Shape Our Lives (Norton, $25.95, 9780393076028).

Also on Fresh Air: Brian Chen, author of Always On: How the iPhone Unlocked the Anything-Anytime-Anywhere Future--and Locked Us In (Da Capo Press, $25, 9780306819605).


Tomorrow on Fox & Friends: Nicole Wallace, author of Eighteen Acres (Washington Square Press, $15, 9781439195932).


Weiser Books: Hearth and Home Witchcraft: Rituals and Recipes to Nourish Home and Spirit by Jennie Blonde

This Weekend on Book TV: Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us!

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 16

8 a.m. Ralph Nader presents his novel Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us! (Seven Stories Press, $17.95, 9781583229231), which imagines placing 17 billionaires in one room to solve the country's problems. (Re-airs Saturday at 8 p.m. and Monday at 4 a.m.)

12 p.m. Richard White discusses his book Railroaded: The Transcontinentals and the Making of Modern America (Norton, $35, 9780393061260). (Re-airs Saturday at 11 p.m. and 7 a.m.)

2:15 p.m. Alison Owings, author of Indian Voices: Listening to Native Americans (Rutgers University Press, $26.95, 9780813549651), documents how Native Americans view their lives and history. (Re-airs Sunday at 8:15 a.m. and Monday at 6 a.m.)

3 p.m. Martin Marty, professor emeritus of religious history at the University of Chicago, talks about his book Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s 'Letters and Papers from Prison': A Biography (Princeton University Press, $24.95, 9780691139210). (Re-airs Sunday at 12:15 a.m. and 10 a.m.)

7 p.m. Deborah Baker, author of The Convert: A Tale of Exile and Extremism (Graywolf Press, $23, 9781555975821), chronicles the life of Margaret Marcus, a secular Jewish woman who moved to Pakistan in 1962, and converted to Islam. (Re-airs Sunday at 2 a.m., 2 p.m. and 6 p.m.)

10 p.m. After Words. California Representative Loretta Sanchez interviews Jane Blair, author of Hesitation Kills: A Female Marine Officer's Combat Experience in Iraq (Rowman & Littlefield, $24.95, 9781442208766). (Re-airs Sunday at 9 p.m., and Monday at 12 a.m. and 3 a.m.)


Harper Muse: When We Had Wings: A Story of the Angels of Bataan by Ariel Lawhon, Kristina McMorris, and Susan Meissner

HP7.5 Countdown: Tonight's the Night

"This Friday officially marks the end of my prolonged childhood," wrote 24-year-old Matt Kiebus on the Death & Taxes blog. "On Thursday night at 12:01 I'll make the transition from man-child to grown-up-pseudo-adult-still-living-at-home. I'll be at a midnight showing of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2, bidding adieu to the wizarding world."

Word & Film saluted the unsung heroes of Harry Potter, including screenwriter Steve Kloves, producer David Heyman, production designer Stuart Craig, director David Yates and prosthetic makeup supervisor Mark Coulier, "the hard-working geniuses behind the camera."

HP movie marathon. The Guardian's Charlie Lyne "felt it necessary to rewatch a decade's worth of Quidditch, owls and magic in one sitting. Expecto delirium!"

Is Prince Charles a muggle? The Telegraph noted that Sue Warne, head of teaching and learning at a primary school the Prince recently visited, said, "He asked them whether they liked reading, whether they liked Harry Potter and whether they had read the books and seen the films. He said how awful it was that there were no more Harry Potter books to come."

If you're a really serious Harry Potter fan, this might be the ultimate piece of memorabilia for you--J.K. Rowling's childhood home. The Guardian reported that "Church Cottage in Tutshill, near Chepstow, a former schoolhouse built in the Gothic style in the mid-19th century, is on the market for around £400,000." Adding to the value for Potter enthusiasts is a message scrawled in one of the bedrooms: "a small inscription on the window frame reading: 'Joanne Rowling slept here circa 1982.' "

Production designer Stuart Craig gave Architectural Digest a tour of the Potter sets.

Edible Hogwarts. "This is a cake," BuzzFeed assured its readers. "No seriously, this is a cake. A sweet, delicious cake."


Broadleaf Books: Between the Listening and the Telling: How Stories Can Save Us by Mark Yaconelli

Behind the Scenes: The Hobbit

Director Peter Jackson has released a new edition of his ongoing video diary from the set of The Hobbit "as the first production block wraps and cast and crew dish on what they're doing during their first break in filming. Of course, Jackson has less free time: He's back to preproduction on the second block of filming, in postproduction on the first batch of scenes and location scouting via helicopter," wrote.


Books & Authors

Awards: Forward Poetry Shortlist; Colorado Book Winners

This year's shortlist for the £10,000 (US$16,105) Forward Prize for Poetry includes Clavics by Geoffrey Hill, Night by David Harsent, November by Sean O'Brien, Black Cat Bone by John Burnside, A Hundred Doors by Michael Longley and Voices Over Water by D. Nurkse, the Guardian reported.

Finalists for the £5,000 Felix Dennis prize for best first collection of poetry are Sidereal by Rachael Boast, Loudness by Judy Brown, Tokaido Road by Nancy Gaffield, Confer by Ahren Warner, Waterloo Teeth by John Whale and Sound Archive by Nerys Williams. Winners will be announced in October on the eve of National Poetry Day.


Colorado Humanities & Center for the Book named 10 category winners for the 20th annual Colorado Book Awards.


Book Review

Book Review: Writing World War II

Writing World War II: A Student's Guide by Sylvie Murray, with commentary by Robert D. Johnston (Hill & Wang, $15.95 trade paper, 9780809085491, August 2, 2011)

Sylvie Murray delivers a master class in the writing of history for serious readers and students of American history. Her ingenious book of nine short essays on our nation's involvement in World War II (divided into three sections: Before Pearl Harbor; To "Create a Will to Win"; Experiences of the War) illustrates the critical role of interpretative choices in presenting history.

Murray's point that "interpretation usually develops in tandem with an immersion in the historical record" is made loud and clear in the source material she studies, from the emphasis and/or de-emphasis in textbooks on topics such as resistance to entering the war before Pearl Harbor (I was surprised to learn that as late as May and June of 1940, two-thirds of Americans reportedly wanted to stay out of the war) to a close critical reading of government-generated morale-building posters (aka propaganda) once we entered the war. Her essays, along with constructive criticism in the commentary of fellow historian Robert Johnston on her approaches, bring to life historian James Loewen's dictum that "history is a furious debate informed by reason and evidence" and show that there was no single war experience but many.

Murray's method shines in discussing the truism that "the values of 'common Americanness' were extended to include previously excluded groups" through the war experience. Her research indicates that the basis for that long-held belief may be limited. Although she finds that white Catholic and Jewish-American males were more widely accepted after the war, her analysis of "voices from the margin" (the wartime experiences of Native American, Japanese American and African American men, not to mention women) tells such a different story that she alerts us to keep our critical thinking skills always switched on when reading history.

Both Murray and Johnston promote a pluralistic approach to writing history in order to avoid oversimplifying complex questions. They also reflect on finding that a question asked one way often stimulates a subsequent reframing of the question to investigate if new insights might emerge. For example, after considering all they have found here, they both want to delve deeper into the question, "Did the war propel a substantial change in social relations, or did it strengthen elements of community already at work in American society?" --John McFarland

Shelf Talker: Ingenious, engaging and informative essays provide a master class in the writing of history.

Deeper Understanding

Reflections on ALA in NOLA

An artist wins the Caldecott Medal for her first picture book.
An author wins the Newbery Medal for her first novel.
A veteran wins the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award for his body of work.

Erin Stead had stopped drawing.
Her husband, Philip C. Stead, secretly sent her sketch
of a wizened gentleman and an elephant
to his editor, Neal Porter,
and the two men hatched a plan that evolved into
A Sick Day for Amos McGee.
Erin Stead is the youngest artist
ever to receive the Caldecott Medal.

Clare Vanderpool could easily have stopped writing;
She has been writing for 17 years
and Moon Over Manifest is the first book she has published.
She hails from Kansas,
home to her characters' Manifest, Kansas.
On the day of the Newbery Committee's call,
Clare Vanderpool was on a yellow brick road
On her way to joining the authors of Island of the Blue Dolphins,
A Wrinkle in Time, Number the Stars,
and A Year Down Yonder--
"Books that I loved and I swear loved me back,"
she said, adding, "That is the best part of a story--
that relationship between teller and listener,
between writer and reader."

Tomie dePaola could have been discouraged
by the review of the first book he illustrated, Sound:
"Good facts, but the illustrations are
far too imaginative for a science book."
Instead, he was encouraged.
Since then he's given us Mother Goose rhymes and Christmas songs
and a world war seen through a child's eyes
on 26 Fairmount Avenue.
In accepting the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award, he said,
"I am extremely humbled and totally grateful.
You have given me and my work eternity."

Victoria Bond, winner of the John Steptoe Award for New Talent
together with co-author Tonya Bolden
for their novel about the young Zora Neale Hurston, Zora and Me,
said that their award got her thinking about old and new,
and quoted Dr. Martin Luther King: "Time is neutral."
There on the other side of the podium from Bond and Bolden
at the Coretta Scott King Awards Breakfast
sat Javaka Steptoe,
son of the man for whom the award was named,
John Steptoe, who published Stevie
when he was 19 years old.
Javaka Steptoe
received a Coretta Scott King illustrator honor citation
for his book Jimi: Sounds Like a Rainbow.

Brian Collier, who won the CSK Illustrator Award
and a Caldecott Honor
for Dave the Potter,
spoke of the power of words
and one enslaved artist's bravery--Dave the Potter--
to defy the law and learn to read and write,
putting his life in danger.

Rita Williams-Garcia, who won the CSK Author Award
and a Newbery Honor
for her book One Crazy Summer,
about three sisters' summer of 1968,
spent in Oakland, California,
to visit their mother, a poet,
living among the Black Panthers,
spoke of the "children of revolution, children of activism,
[who] know what it is to live with sacrifice and a child's heartbreak."

These threads came together
at the American Library Association
in New Orleans in June:
The power of reading and writing.
The power to lift every voice.
The power of protest.
Maybe it was because we were in New Orleans
and the people who remain
still remember the kindness of a community,
led by librarians,
the first to come to their ravaged city in the aftermath of Katrina.
And maybe it's because on Saturday morning,
at the ALSC Division Leadership Meeting,
the Wisconsin librarians introduced themselves
by name, affiliation, and volunteer position,
followed by "union thug,"
and Oakland, California's Nina Lindsay announced that,
thanks to the efforts of thousands of protestors,
the city council had put forth three proposals,
all of which would save the 14 of their 18 branches in danger of closing.

"Time is neutral. It can be used either destructively or constructively,"
wrote Dr. King from his Birmingham jail cell.
As New Orleans rebuilds,
As Oakland opens the doors of its 18 branches,
We celebrate the freedoms we often take for granted
and the artists who remind us,
as individuals and as a community,
of these hard-won liberties.--Jennifer M. Brown


AuthorBuzz: St. Martin's Press: Other Birds by Sarah Addison Allen
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