Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, July 20, 2011

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

Minotaur Books: The Shadow House by Anna Downes

Soho Crime: One-Shot Harry by Gary Phillips

Ballantine Books: The Other Dr. Gilmer: Two Men, a Murder, and an Unlikely Fight for Justice by Benjamin Gilmer

Quotation of the Day

Potter & Dragons: 'Reading' Movies and 'Viewing' Books

"If people are in some sense increasingly 'reading' movies and 'viewing' books, what does that mean for books intended only for reading and movies intended only for viewing?... Maybe no one can fully explain the explosion of the Harry Potter and Ice and Fire franchises, but fans can quite easily explain to themselves why they are fans: it's because of the books. Having the physical incarnation of a phenomenon sitting on a shelf isn't just exciting--it’s reassuring. The next time I am asked 'What’s the deal with George R.R. Martin?' I'm going to direct the person to the bookstore and leave it at that."

--Macy Halford in a post at the New Yorker's Book Bench blog headlined "Harry Potter and A Dance with Dragons: Breaking Records, Boggling Minds."


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


Notes: Google Hearing Delayed; Amazon's Autograph Hunt

Yesterday U.S. Circuit Judge Denny Chin reluctantly gave a bit more negotiating time--as well as a warning--to Google and the author/publisher group attempting to work out a settlement of the lawsuit challenging Google's digital reproduction of books, Bloomberg reported. In March, Chin had objected to a $125 million settlement because he considered it unfair to authors.

"We are not there yet. They are very complicated, complex issues, requiring us to delve into them in the dog days of summer," Michael Boni, a lawyer for the authors, told Chin, who set a new hearing for September 15.

Chin expressed concern about the time it was taking to reach a settlement: "If the matter is not resolved, or close to being resolved, I’m going to give you a relatively tight schedule for discovery."

Gabriel Stricker, a spokesman for Google, said, "We’ve been working closely with the authors and publishers to explore a number of options. Regardless of the outcome we’ll continue to make books more discoverable and useful through Google Books and Google eBooks.”


California's Attorney General Kamala D. Harris ruled Amazon can start gathering signatures for a ballot measure to repeal the state's new online sales tax law, Bloomberg reported, noting that Amazon will need almost 505,000 signatures from California voters to qualify the measure for the ballot next year.

"Lots of people will be watching to see what happens in California. Everybody knows Amazon is trying to redefine the retail trade by arbitraging on the tax issue," said Robert P. Strauss, a professor of economics and public policy at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh


In a letter to the Office of Fair Trading, the Bookseller Group, publishers of the Bookseller, added another voice of opposition to Amazon's proposed acquisition of U.K. online retailer the Book Depository. After investigating the merger, the OFT's decision on the matter is expected to be finalized on August 30.

"It is not that TBD's acquisition creates a sudden, new, anti-competitive position; it is rather that it is the straw that broke the camel's back," stated Nigel Roby, managing director of the Bookseller Group. "If Amazon is in a stronger position to demand better terms from publishers, this could also have a knock-on effect for independents and smaller chains if publishers seek to maintain revenues."

Roby also warned that publishers "may consider reducing the number of mid-market books if Amazon's share of the market, and the terms it seeks, reduce their commercial viability. This scenario reduces choice to consumers, reduces the ability of authors to gain a reasonable livelihood, reduces the number of small to medium-sized publishers and puts unsustainable pressure on the High Street retailer."


"Meet Barnes & Noble Inc., software company," today's Wall Street Journal wrote to open its analysis of the bookstore chain's attempt "to reinvent itself as a seller of book downloads, reading devices and apps."

The change is even reflected in office space. The Journal noted that while the "traditional company" is still based at 122 Fifth Ave., CEO William Lynch "works out of 76 Ninth Ave. in Chelsea, where Barnes& is based. Google's New York offices are in the same building, which is across the street from an Apple store." B&N also has a "fast-growing" technology campus in Palo Alto, Calif., where an estimated 250 people work.


Effective this November, Pop Sandbox graphic novels will be sold to U.S. bookstores by Diamond Book Distributors. The first titles Diamond will distribute are Kenk: A Graphic Portrait, a journalistic comic book about Igor Kenk, "Canada's most prolific bicycle thief," and The Next Day, a graphic novella illustrated by John Porcellino and based on interviews with survivors of suicide attempts.

Diamond v-p of sales and marketing Kuo-Yu Liang said that Pop Sandbox's "commitment to the exploration of blurring the lines between traditional print media and film make them pioneers in a field that as of right now remains generally enigmatic."


Looking for selection, events, coffee shops and more? Racked N.Y. noted that "Borders might be liquidating its stock and shutting its doors, but New York City's bookstore scene is far from dead. Here are ten independent shops that should fill any Borders-shaped hole in your life, no matter what you're looking for."


Admitting the "irony is not lost on me that I am announcing my departure from the book business on the day that Borders Books is announcing their demise," Dave Simpson notified customers in a letter posted on his shop's website that Lafayette Book Store, Lafayette, Calif., will be closing.

Simpson noted that certain aspects of the business are undergoing changes, but remain operational. Angie Cozad will take over the offsite events business, which produces custom bookstores for conferences, conventions and book fairs. The online and warehouse used book business will be maintained by Amy Williams while it is up for sale as a turnkey business. Although the Bay Area Bookmobile will no longer be operational, "Big Blue" is for sale.  


Booklicious highlighted a YouTube selection of dead classic authors on film, noting that as "a reader whose favorite authors are almost all dead and have been since I started reading their work, I'm resigned to the fact that I'll never be able to meet these writers at a book signing or gawk at their unflattering paparazzi candids on TMZ. What hadn't crossed my mind, though, was that some of them lived long enough to make it onto film, and that gawking was indeed still possible."


Which author would you consider to be "famous for the wrong book"? The Guardian's John Self addressed the "big difference between an author's best-known work, and their best."


Buzzfeed showcased Simone Massoni's 12 Famous Fairy Tales in Pieces, which are "fun pieces of art that take famous stories and break them down to their components."


As millions of key demographic muggles have aged during the 10-year, eight-film lifespan of the Harry Potter movie franchise, theater attendance figures have skewed older as well. The final two-part Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows drew viewers who were 56% and 55% over the age of 25, respectively. The Wrap noted a substantial contrast to 2002, when 60% of the audience for Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets was under the age of 15.

"Those 10-year-olds going to the first movie, holding the hands of their parents, ended up driving to the last midnight shows," said Warner distribution chief Dan Fellman. "Along the way, we increased our fanbase."


Predicting "the next Harry Potter" has been a fashionable pastime for more than a decade. The Atlantic wondered "how successful have any of these wannabes been? With Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part Two, the final movie in the franchise, out in theaters this past weekend, here's a look at which series have been called 'the next Potter'--and whether they've lived up to the hype."


Book trailer of the day: A Quest for Good Manners by Karin Lefranc (Beluga Press).


At Chronicle Books:

  • Suzanne Bass has been promoted to director of sales, special and mass markets. She was formerly senior sales manager, custom retail proprietary.
  • Albee Dalbotten has been promoted to associate director of marketing, entertainment and online and was formerly marketing manager.
  • Peter Perez has been promoted to associate director of marketing, food and drink, stationery and art and design. He was formerly marketing manager.
  • Alyson Pullman has been promoted to publicity coordinator, stationery, from publicity assistant.


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

Requiems for Borders

In e-mails, blog postings and open letters, a variety of people reacted to the end of Borders Group:

Outwrite Bookstore & Coffeehouse, Atlanta, Ga.: "It is with mixed emotions that we greet the news of the closing of Borders Books. Although Borders has been a tough competitor for us, we sympathize with all the booksellers who are losing jobs. If you are a Borders customer, we are here to meet all your needs for books, music, and movies. If we do not have an item in stock, we can order it for you. Most items can be in the store in a few days. Thanks to all of you for your continuing support.

Rachel Weaver and Jason Smith at the Book Table, Oak Park, Ill., in part: "First and foremost, we will say flat out: we are not celebrating. Eleven thousand fellow booksellers out of work is a dark day for all of us in the book industry. It's a dark day for publishing when there are 400 fewer outlets for books, when our friends in the already beleaguered publishing industry will face even more rounds of layoffs. It's a sad day for bricks and mortar, when there are that many more people who will turn to the Internet, most specifically to one company--to Amazon--to fill their shelves or e-readers with books. It's a sad day for reading when there are fewer communities with bookstores, a place where someone might stumble upon a book to read who otherwise might have gone home to their television or their Internet connection for entertainment and companionship. Frankly, speaking as two people who have each worked in the industry for close to two decades, it is just plain devastating.
"There is no doubt: Borders changed the industry landscape in the 90s, in some arguably good ways, some bad. We spent most of the 90s working at various independent bookstores in the Lakeview and Lincoln Park neighborhoods. One by one, Borders encroached on them, one by one they closed. So no, we are not without resentment for the company. We are not without criticism of the way they chose to operate over the years, both to the detriment of publishing, and to the detriment of themselves. The company expanded rampantly over the years in the name of an attractive balance sheet, with little thought to any underlying stability. They taught their customers to shop on Amazon rather than develop their own website. They made many mistakes. But at their best, they opened stores where no other bookstore existed for miles around, providing unprecedented access to a wide range of titles in smaller, underserved communities, and that is no small thing.

"Of course, we hope we can pick up some of the business that Borders leaves behind. But we do not delude ourselves into thinking that we will be the winners in this situation. Many Borders customers will head to their nearest Barnes & Noble; a vast number will turn to Amazon. For many, simply picking up the latest bestsellers while at Target or Costco will satisfy their needs. For some this may even push them into adopting e-books. We will likely pick up a percentage of the business as well, but we are well aware we don't have the name recognition or even a fraction of the capacity to take over what Borders provided for Oak Park."

ABA CEO Oren Teicher: "It is jolting news for any community when a bookstore closes, and independent booksellers are saddened to hear that almost 11,000 Borders employees will be losing their jobs. However, we do not believe that the Borders closing is a bellwether for the future of bricks-and-mortar bookstores nationwide. Rather, it is, in part, an unfortunate right-sizing of a bookstore landscape that has suffered from overexpansion in certain markets. ABA is not only bullish on bricks-and-mortar bookselling, but we see opportunities for our current members to expand and for new stores to open. Indie bookstores have cultivated strong ties to the local community, curated hand-picked selections of titles, and leveraged well-designed retail spaces to serve book lovers across the country. The result has been a stable market share in an unstable economy. We are optimistic for our industry and our channel."

Dominique Raccah and the rest of the staff at Sourcebooks, in part: "For Sourcebooks, Borders was our dear friend over the pond (Lake Michigan, as it were), and they were an essential part of our growth and success over the past 24 years.

"The news this week is incredibly difficult, as hundreds of communities lose long-standing gathering places for readers. I really wanted today to say THANK YOU to Borders--to their community of booksellers and home office staff over the years--for being such an important part of our lives, and for their dedication to getting books into the hands of so many people for so many years."

Joshua Bilmes, the literary agent blogging as Brillig, in part: "You can love Borders or hate it, you can rue the day they came in to your neighborhood in 1994 and helped to kill some local independent store, you can say you liked Barnes & Noble better, or that the staff at your local Borders were rude, or they never seemed very nice when you wanted to arrange a signing. You can do all of that. But if you love books, if you care about the power of the written word, of the ability for a writer to tell stories, and for those stories to move people and give meaning to the lives of others, if you care about any of that you can't be happy today. This is the saddest day for the book business that any of us have ever seen, and let us only hope that we can still say the same 25 years from today.

"There are millions of people who now don't have a good, convenient, physical place to buy and explore books, unless you think a computer screen counts. And I mean that. I don't agree with everyone Kris Rusch and Dean Wesley Smith say about agents, I don't remotely like they'll have an extra hour to drive to visit a good bookstore. There are millions of people living in Manhattan, many millions more working there on a weekday, and we're about to revert back to before Sept. 5, 1995, when Borders opened at the World Trade Center--only worse because before then there were at least a handful of indies on the island with decent and wide selections co-existing with B&N, and now you can't look at the sf section of Posman Books in Grand Central and think this is a place you want to go for your book shopping needs. So for all the rest of us, our book selection is now only and solely what Barnes & Noble decrees it to be. And I've got news for you, if you think publishers have been spending the past several months doing detailed analysis of their Borders sales and finding the 1% or 2% of their titles that were selling well at Borders alone and are now going to give those the extra TLC to get B&N to share the love--well, the idea's good for a laugh. There are authors who no longer have a store to sell some or all of their books."

Little Bigfoot: A Home Under the Stars by Andy Chou Musser

Penguin: 'Not How You Read, But What You Read'

Penguin has created easels for independent bookstores selling Google eBooks to help them get the message to customers. So far, 40 have been created, and by the time the publisher is finished, some 200 stores will receive a custom easel.

Penguin's Maureen Donnelly said the promotion "continues Penguin's mission to bring the reader to the writer in every format available." Here is one example, for the Book Nook & Java Shop in Montague, Mich.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Lisa See on Tavis Smiley

Tomorrow on KRCW's Bookworm: Dora Malech, author of Say So (Cleveland State University Poetry Center, $15.95, 9781880834923). As the show said, "In Say So, Dora Malech explores the violence of relationships. Although her work is full of graphic and visceral incident, her focus is always on form and technique. She is always a poet first, her content may be entirely imagined but her language and her cadence are completely her own."


Tomorrow on the View: La Toya Jackson, author of Starting Over (Gallery, $26, 9781451620580).


Tomorrow on Tavis Smiley: Lisa See, author of Dreams of Joy (Random House, $26, 9781400067121).


Tomorrow night on the Colbert Report: David Eagleman, author of Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain (Pantheon, $26.95, 9780307377333).

'Motion Poster' for The Hunger Games

Although the release of The Hunger Games, based on the first novel in Suzanne Collins's trilogy, is still eight months away, momentum is already building and will certainly be enhanced by the "motion poster featuring a brand-new (and highly combustible) logo based on the story's iconic mockingjay pin," Yahoo reported. The Hunger Games stars Jennifer Lawrence, Elizabeth Banks, Stanley Tucci, Woody Harrelson and Lenny Kravitz.


On Stage: Bridget Jones's Diary

British singer/songwriter Lily Allen, praised by Elton John as "Britain's best lyricist," is creating a dozen songs for a musical based on Helen Fielding's bestselling novel Bridget Jones's Diary, which is scheduled to open in London's West End in 2012, the Telegraph reported.

"It’s going to give a new perspective," said Fielding. "Lily Allen has just completed the songs and they’re fantastic. The music is a really catchy, unusual mixture of all different styles of music. I think people will love it."


Books & Authors

Awards: ABA Silver Gavel

Last night the American Bar Association honored this year's winners of the Silver Gavel Awards for Media and the Arts, which "recognize outstanding work that fosters the American public’s understanding of law and the legal system."

In the books category the winner was Scorpions: The Battles and Triumphs of FDR’s Great Supreme Court Justices by Noah Feldman (Twelve/Hachette), with an honorable mention going to The Death of American Virtue: Clinton vs. Starr by Ken Gormley (Crown).


Book Brahmin: Catherine Coulter

Catherine Coulter is the author of 65 novels. She launched her career writing historical romances, but in recent years has turned her hand to penning contemporary suspense, most notably her bestselling FBI thriller series. The newest novel in the FBI series, Split Second, was released July 19, 2011 by Putnam.


On your nightstand now:

The pile is thick, maybe a bit dusty toward the bottom. I picked up the top five. They are: 1) The Highly Selective Dictionary for the Extraordinarily Literate by Eugene Ehrich. This sounds like a bathroom book--we'll see; 2) Altar of Bones by Philip Carter--an international thriller, can't wait; 3) Vienna Waltz by Teresa Grant, a historical novel set at the Congress of Vienna in 1815; 4) Lost to Time: Unforgettable Stories that History Forgot by Martin Sandler (Now why is this one here?); and 5) The Nostradamus Secret by Joseph Badal--now this one I'm moving to the top.

Favorite book when you were a child:

Beatrix Potter's Peter Rabbit, without any hesitation whatsoever. Later, of course, I graduated to Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maude Montgomery. Ah, if only there'd been Harry Potter back in the Dark Ages.

Your top authors:

Tough, but off the top of my head: J.D. Robb, Agatha Christie, Anne Perry (Thomas & Charlotte Pitt), John Sandford, Linda Howard, Jack Higgins (only Sean Dillon). I can do more, please?

Book you've faked reading:

She's Come Undone by Wally Lamb. Oprah got me to buy the book, but I couldn't make it past page 10.

Book you're an evangelist for:

Strunk & White's Elements of Style. Not for writers only, but for anyone who wants to write cogent well-written English sentences.

Book you've bought for the cover:

The Devil Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger.

Book that changed your life:

The History of Civilization by Will and Ariel Durant--I know this sounds all pseudo-intellectual and like I'm this brainiac who wants to make you feel like an inferior slug, but this series taught me to love history, taught me how to "learn" and "read" history, and how to understand historical context. It's too bad the series ended with Napoleon. I cannot say enough, but perhaps I already have. 

Favorite line from a book:

" can't expect to wield supreme executive power just because some watery tart threw a sword at you." --Dennis to King Arthur, in Monty Python's Search for the Holy Grail (Not a book, a movie, but it should be required viewing for history students. See answer above.)

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

Any of the Harry Potter books by J.K. Rowling



Book Review

Children's Review: Liesl & Po

Liesl & Po by Lauren Oliver, illus. by Kei Acedera (HarperCollins, $16.99 hardcover, 320p., ages 8-up, 9780062014511, October 4, 2011)

With her third book, Lauren Oliver (Before I Fall; Delirium) creates another highly original world, this one for middle-grade readers. It's a Dickensian world in which children are often orphaned and put to work in factories or grueling apprenticeships. Into this lonely landscape, Oliver introduces orphans Liesl and Will, a touch of magic, some delectable coincidences, and friendship that stretches from the Living Side to the Other Side.

On the third night after her father's death, Liesl sees something that appears to be made of "liquid shadow." A ghost named Po (neither boy nor girl), crosses from the Other Side with a pet called Bundle (neither cat nor dog). Po has come to ask Liesl a question: "Why did you stop drawing?" Liesl tells Po that her father is dead, and she didn't get to say goodbye. She asks Po to carry a message to her father on the Other Side, and Po agrees to try. In return, Liesl must make Po a drawing. Po is not the only one who's noticed that Liesl had stopped drawing. Will, the alchemist's apprentice who stands unseen beneath Liesl's window most nights, has also noted her absence over the past three days. But on this night, having interrupted an urgent delivery to the Lady Premiere, he is rewarded for his efforts (when she draws the picture for Po). Seeing the girl back at the window, Will "vowed suddenly that he would never let anything bad happen to [her].... He had some vague idea that it would be terrible for himself."

This kind of tantalizing foreshadowing is just one way that Oliver skillfully emulates Dickens. She also uses coincidence masterfully: secondary characters with an overlapping past, near misses between villains and heroes, and the unwitting switch of two bread loaf–shaped wooden boxes that leads to Will and Liesl's eventual meeting. The author crafts each chapter as if it were a self-contained story--and many of them are, especially one about Mo, the kindly, addled guard for the Lady Premiere ("Mo often felt his brain was like a big tin can, mostly full of air. Ideas tended to bounce around aimlessly there, clattering and making a lot of noise"), and also Mrs. Snout, who runs an inn and rivals Sweeney Todd's Mrs. Lovett for her stores of wickedness and love of money. At the heart of the novel is the love between father and daughter that proves the permeability between the Living Side and the Other Side. Liesl will not give up until she can honor her father's final wishes and also say goodbye. This book's healing message will offer comfort to children living with the absence of a loved one, and its swift plotting will sweep them up in the adventure. (Final artwork not seen by Shelf.) --Jennifer M. Brown




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