Shelf Awareness for Tuesday, August 2, 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


Image of the Day: Visiting Tomie

To celebrate receiving the 2011 Laura Ingalls Wilder Award, Tomie de Paola invited friends and booksellers from around New England to his home in New London, N.H., on Sunday. Here (from l.): Suzy Staubach, manager of the general books department at the UConn Co-op, Storrs, Conn.; de Paola; and Terri Goldich, curator of de Paola's archives at the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center at the University of Connecticut.

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

Notes: Apple/B&N Rumor Mill; Half Price Books Hiring

B&N's Genius Café? Rumors of Apple's interest in buying Barnes & Noble may--or may not--be greatly exaggerated, depending upon which article, blog post or Twitter update you are reading at any given moment.

Yesterday, Investor Place suggested "there's a very good reason investors should be intrigued" by Boy Genius Report's post last Thursday, quoting an "unproven source" who said Apple "would purchase the company, incorporate its vast selection of electronic books into its own (struggling) e-book store for the iPhone and iPad, the iBookstore, and do away with Barnes & Noble's Nook e-reader device. The company also would convert many of Barnes & Noble's 700-plus retail stores into Apple stores." The acquisition price tag mentioned was between $1 billion and $1.5 billion.

Investor Place cited several reasons why it might be a good move for Apple, including the fact that by "purchasing Barnes & Noble's Nook and online media distribution business, Apple would be able to match Amazon on every front. The company also would be able to diminish any momentum Amazon has with consumers later this year by applying its famous marketing savvy to the redefinition of Barnes & Noble." In addition, the deal would give Apple "direct access to the university bookstore business.... one of the most desirable consumer markets in the world."

But Time magazine's Techland blog offered an alternative view in a piece headlined "A Brief History of Apple Not Buying Other Companies," noting that the acquisition "would get Apple B&N's digital books and other publications (which it might conceivably want) and Nook hardware (which it surely doesn't), along with hundreds of retail outlets which it could either shutter or convert into Apple Stores. (Enormous Apple Stores! Usually located conveniently close to existing Apple Stores!)"

Techland's conclusion: "For years, Apple has confounded the rest of us by not buying things that it should clearly be buying. Not purchasing other well-known companies is so core to Apple's strategy that it must have a whole department devoted to non-mergers and un-acquisitions."


Half Price Books is encouraging former Borders employees to apply for bookseller jobs at the 113-store chain, which recently posted a notice on Help Ex-Borders Employees, a blog designed to assist unemployed Borders workers in their job hunt, Pegasus News reported.

Kristen Dickson, public relations specialist for Half Price Books, observed: "We would love to have anyone from Borders join our ranks."

"I think there is solidarity--real, good, warm, true solidarity--among people in the book business," said Chris Kubica, co-founder (with Colleen Lindsay) of Help Ex-Borders Employees.


Bill Getz of Publishers Group West has won the New Atlantic Independent Booksellers Association's 2011 Helmuth Sales Rep of the Year Award, which goes to the person who "best embodies the dedication, book knowledge and heart shown, by the late William Helmuth of BookTravelers fame." Getz receives the award at the NAIBA Awards Banquet, Tuesday, September 20, in Atlantic City, N.J.

Getz commented in part: "The Helmuth Award has special meaning because it comes from people I respect so much. After the down time between lists, the first sales call of the season is like a breath of fresh air; I can't imagine a better way to spend my time than in meeting with smart, knowledgeable book people and talking about what we love the most--books and the people who create them.  With our strong community and a little luck, we should be able to keep doing this for many years to come. I thank you all so much for allowing me to be a part of this community and for thinking that I may have done a good job along the way."


Building strong community relationships is always mentioned by indie booksellers as a key ingredient to their success. In this spirit, we present--courtesy of Fast Company--"5 Things Lady Gaga Can Teach Marketers About Community Building," including:

  1. Target like-minded individuals.
  2. Be vulnerable.
  3. Treat the consumer like your boss.
  4. Create a collective experience.
  5. Become a better company through community.


Kids R E-books? The Boston Globe focused on "an emergent class of tech consumers that is being closely watched by the industry."

"This is a generation of kids that have learned to communicate, search and purchase on very small devices, like mobile phones," said analyst James McQuivey of Forrester Research. "This year is a guinea pig year, next year the move will be en masse." Forrester projects that 15.5 million e-readers will be sold this year, a 50% increase over 2010.


Seattle7Writers, the organizer of last year's six-day, 36-author writing marathon that resulted in the book Hotel Angeline, plans to break its own record. On Saturday, October 15, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., 100 writers will gather in the Rainier Valley Cultural Center in Columbia City, Wash., to create a novel in just a single day. The event, called Write Here Write Now, will be followed by Up Late Reading, a performance art and author reading collaboration featuring actors and musicians. Admission price is one slightly used book or a monetary donation, which will be used to maintain Seattle7Writers' many "pocket libraries" in shelters for the homeless and abused. Erik Larson, Erica Bauermeister, Dave Boling, Nancy Rawles, Robert Dugoni, Maria Dahvana Headley and Laurie Frankel are among the confirmed contributors to this Guinness Records-worthy undertaking. More information at


Indie businesses offer "a conversation, not just a click." Vidiots, a "scrappy" indie bricks-and-mortar video store company, is one of many surviving against all odds by "rethinking their business models. They are tapping into new revenue streams in ways that may seem quaint and old-fashioned, but that are proving to be culturally astute and financially viable," the New York Times reported.

"We felt that with Netflix and the Internet, what we should be focusing on was community and people talking to each other," said co-owner Patty Polinger. "We just wanted to go the other extreme and be more interpersonal." Thus far, the strategy has worked: "I felt like we were in freefall mode; I now feel we've stabilized."

Pollinger cited Facets Multi-Media in Chicago as an inspiration. Milos Stehlik, executive director of Facets, said consumers need "to have a choice, and the choice is in support of independent whatever--independent bookstore, independent grocery store, independent video store.... People make an effort to reach out to something real, so the one thing they appreciate here, is we are very knowledgeable. People who work in the video store are very knowledgeable about film. There's always a conversation, not just a click. Those kinds of real experiences, you can't really duplicate when you're getting a movie out of a vending machine."


Crime does pay in the Green Mountains. NPR's Morning Edition toured Brattleboro, Vt., with mystery author Archer Mayor, who has written two dozen novels featuring the town and police detective Joe Gunther.

Despite his "New England blue blood background, Mayor has had some grisly jobs. He works as a death examiner for the state's medical office and investigates child sex crimes for the local sheriff's department," NPR noted.

"I don't think I've met too many people like me," he said.


Book trailer of the day: Buried Secrets by Joseph Finder (St. Martin's Press).


The following changes have been made in the Simon & Schuster publicity department:

  • Julia Prosser has been promoted to assistant director of publicity. She started at the company in 2003 as a publicity assistant and returns from maternity leave on October 3.
  • Kelly Welsh has been promoted to senior publicity manager. She joined the department in 2004.
  • Michelle Jasmine has been promoted to publicist. She was a marketing intern and joined the department in 2007 as an assistant.
  • Margaret Kingsbury has been promoted to associate publicist. She joined the company as an assistant in 2009 and earlier was an assistant producer at Milwaukee Public Radio.

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

Durbin Introduces Main Street Fairness Act

The Main Street Fairness Act, introduced by Senator Dick Durbin (D.-Ill.) and Representatives John Conyers (D.-Mich.) and Peter Welch (D.-Vt.), would "allow local Main Street retailers to compete more effectively against out-of-state internet sellers," according to Durbin's office. The bill has the support of, which has fought fiercely many states' effort to have it collect sales tax. Co-sponsors of the bill are Senators Tim Johnson (D.-S.D.) and Jack Reed (D.-R.I.) and Representative Heath Shuler (D.-N.C.).

"Consumers shouldn't have to face the burden of reporting all of their online purchases," Durbin said. "Main Street retailers collect sales taxes on behalf of consumers, why shouldn't online retailers do the same? In 2012, states across the country, including Illinois, are expected to lose as much as $24 billion in uncollected state and local taxes on Internet and catalogue sales.... The Main Street Fairness Act doesn't ask anyone to pay a single penny more in taxes. Instead, it would help governors and mayors collect taxes that are already owed."

In a letter to the senator, Paul Misener, Amazon's v-p for global public policy, said that the company "has long supported a simple, nationwide system of state and local sales tax collection, evenhandedly applied to all sellers, no matter their business model, location, or level of remote sales.... Introduction of your bill returns the discussion of interstate collection of sales tax to Congress, which the Supreme Court says is the appropriate forum to resolve the issue. Amazon looks forward to working with you and your colleagues in Congress to help enact sales tax collection legislation."

According to Durbin, the Main Street Fairness Act would:

  • Certify the Streamlined Sales and Use Tax Agreement;
  • Provide states who choose to use it with the clear authority to require retailers to collect sales taxes already owed;
  • Require the Streamlined Sales and Use Tax Agreement to meet a lengthy list of simplification requirements to ease administrative burdens for sellers;
  • Exempt small businesses (as defined by the Governing Board of the Agreement) from collecting sales taxes;
  • Compensate retailers for startup administrative costs associated with collecting sales taxes;
  • Treat all retailers equally regarding sales tax collection;
  • Release consumers from their existing sales tax remittance obligations; and
  • Help states and localities collect billions in taxes that are already owed.

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

Well-Executed Paperback Push for Pötzsch

Shelf Awareness for Readers editor Bethanne Patrick was among the literary media folks invited to meet Oliver Pötzsch on the eve of a trade paperback edition of his bestselling The Hangman's Daughter, a historical thriller set in 17th-century Bavaria with a lead character based on one of Pötzsch's own ancestors. The novel, which was recently named Costco's book of the month, is the first of several books originally published by that will be reprinted by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. As HMH publisher Bruce Nichols described it, it's also the book that inspired that arrangement, as the company's curiosity had been aroused by Potzsch's ascension of Kindle Store bestseller lists, leading them to contact the online bookseller after they'd become impressed by the writing. 

Pötzsch regaled his audience with the details of the executioners' duties his family performed throughout Germany for three centuries, such as the skill and finesse required to successfully perform a swift, painless beheading. He was aided in his research, he explained, by a cousin of his grandmother who spent his life researching the genealogy of the Kuisl clan--he was awed, he said, by a visit to an archive that extended as far back as the 1500s and as recently as the birth of his own son. Upon hearing that Pötzsch had recently completed the fourth book in this series, Bethanne began pumping him for information; we don't want to give too much away, but suffice to say Pötzsch figured out what characters are most likely to hold readers' interest and planned accordingly. HMH has acquired the U.S. print rights to those sequels, as well as a modern thriller which uses the death of "Mad King" King Ludwig II in 1886 to drive its plot. --Ron Hogan


Media and Movies

Media Heat: Alice LaPlante on NPR's Diane Rehm Show

Today on NPR's Fresh Air: Peter Bergen, author of The Longest War: The Enduring Conflict between America and Al-Qaeda (Free Press, $16, 9780743278942).


Tomorrow on NPR's Diane Rehm Show: Alice LaPlante, author of Turn of Mind (Atlantic Monthly Press, $24, 9780802119773).


Tomorrow on the Colbert Report: Robert Wittman, author of Priceless: How I Went Undercover to Rescue the World's Stolen Treasures (Broadway, $15, 9780307461483).

Cinema Satans: Bradley Cooper in Paradise Lost & 6 More

Bradley Cooper will play Satan in the 2012 film adaptation of John Milton's Paradise Lost. Word & Film contrasted this "good news" with the "bad news" that the movie by director Alex Proyas is being filmed in 3D, then changed the subject by featuring its choices for the "6 Best Film Depictions of Satan."


Movie Trailer: Drive

A redband restricted trailer for Drive has been released. The movie, which is directed by Nicolas Winding Refn and based on a novel by James Sallis (tie-in edition: Mariner, $12.95, 978-0547791098), opens September 16. The cast features Ryan Gosling, Carey Mulligan, Bryan Cranston, Albert Brooks, Ron Perlman, Christina Hendricks and Tina Huang.


Books & Authors

Awards: Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction

John Grisham has won the inaugural Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction for his novel The Confession. The award, which is co-sponsored by the University of Alabama School of Law and the American Bar Association's ABA Journal, honors a "published work of fiction that best exemplifies the positive role of lawyers in society and their power to effect change." Grisham will receive the award during a ceremony September 22 at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.


IndieBound: Other Indie Favorites

From last week's Indie bestseller lists, available at, here are the recommended titles, which are also Indie Next Great Reads:


Ten Thousand Saints: A Novel by Eleanor Henderson (Ecco, $26.99, 9780062021021). "Reminiscent of Michael Cunningham's A Home at the End of the World, though with a definitely original voice, this sweeping, powerful first novel touches on the themes of teenage angst, suburban disaffection, and the punk scene in the late 1980s, while also tackling the larger subjects of love, identity, complex family relationships, religion, and sexuality. You'll fall in love with the characters and want to hang out with them after the book is through. In one word: 'Wow!' " --Carol Schneck, Schuler Books & Music, Okemos, Mich.

The Shooting Salvationist: J. Frank Norris and the Murder Trial that Captivated America by David R. Stokes (Steerforth, $26.99, 9781586421861). "J. Frank Norris was the pastor of a mega-church before the concept existed. He was famous, and to many he was a righteous and inspiring hero. To others, however, he was brash and abrasive, the object of scorn and hatred. His endless crusades frustrated both businessmen and politicians in Fort Worth, Texas. On July 17, 1926, Norris shot and killed an unarmed man in the church office. Stokes presents the complete story of the shooting, the criminal trial, and their aftermath. Eighty-five years ago this event captured the attention of the entire nation, and modern readers will likewise be enthralled by the skillful presentation of this shocking crime." --Christopher Rose, Andover Bookstore, Andover, Mass.


The Lovers: A Novel by Vendela Vida (Ecco, $13.99, 9780060828400). "After the loss of her husband, Yvonne travels to Turkey to the town of her honeymoon years before. In trying to reconnect to the good parts of her marriage, she ends up feeling lost and lonely, but through a series of mismatched friendships, she finds her way back to herself and her family. A beautifully written book." --Joni Ditzler, Maria’s Bookshop, Durango, Colo.

For Teen Readers

The Summer I Learned to Fly by Dana Reinhardt (Wendy Lamb Books, $15.99, 9780385739542). "Hooray! A new book from Dana Reinhardt! Drew is a 13-year-old loner waiting for life to begin. Meanwhile she has a summer job at her Mom's cheese shop, her pet rat Hum in her backpack, her dead dad's book of lists, and a mysterious new friend she met in the alley. This is another treasure of a book from a treasured author." --Jeanne Snyder, Books & Books, Coral Gables, Fla.

[Many thanks to IndieBound and the ABA!]

Book Review

Book Review: In the Sea There Are Crocodiles

In the Sea There Are Crocodiles: Based on the True Story of Enaiatollah Akbari by Fabio Geda, trans. by Howard Curtis (Doubleday, $22.95 hardcover, 9780385534734, August 9, 2011)

When Enaiatollah Akbari was 10 years old, on the night his mother was forced to abandon him in Pakistan, she insisted that he make her three promises: that he would never do drugs, never raise a weapon against another human being and never steal. The harrowing adventures that follow in this superb little novel are based on the true story Enaiat told to author Fabio Geda in Turin at the end of his perilous, five-year odyssey through Iran, Turkey and Greece, all the way to Italy.

The novel opens in the big, noisy city of Quetta in Pakistan, where his mother is forced to leave her son in a crowded warehouse of displaced persons waiting to contact traffickers to get them out of the country. He and his mother fled their little village of Nava (meaning "gutter"), inhabited mainly by Hazaras, a persecuted Afghani minority, when it fell under Taliban control; Enaiat was forced to watch his schoolteacher executed for daring to educate Hazaras.

His life-and-death adventures are narrated in a low-key, matter-of-fact, childlike way, without being in the least cloying or sensational, and the tale is directly addressed to the author, so that young Enaiat seems to be standing right next to Italian author Geda, dictating his hair-raising exploits. He goes from working for a hostel keeper to braving the bazaar working for a shoe seller, and is rescued from a group of Pashtun boys who steal from him by a group of Hazara youths who become his allies and friends.

Determined to keep his three promises to his mother, paying the necessary bribes and trying to find a trustworthy human trafficker, Enaiat manages to survive. He crosses treacherous mountains, where more than one boy is left behind to die, and endures a three-day journey packed with 50 other children into a truck bed's secret false bottom, sealed in total darkness. He's shuttled from crowded warehouses to underground garages jammed with illegals, chased by wild boars, and forced to cross the turbulent sea from Turkey to Greece with four other boys in a dinghy with a hole in it; the giant waves hauled one of them overboard.

He's stalked and nabbed by the police of every country he has to cross throughout in his slow trek toward freedom, until he stows away on a Greek freighter for three days without food or water to finally arrive in Italy, the land where, at last, people treat him kindly, and where he finally finds a family of his own, in a perfect ending that will reduce many readers to tears of joy and sheer relief. --Nick DiMartino

Shelf Talker: A gripping novelization of 10-year-old Enaiatollah Akbari's five-year odyssey from Afghanistan through Pakistan, Iran, Turkey and Greece to freedom and a new life in Italy.


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