Shelf Awareness for Tuesday, September 6, 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: Calling on America's Littlest Library

Part of the Clinton Community Library, the Book Booth: America's Littlest Library opened on Saturday in Clinton Corners, N.Y. The community book exchange is the brainchild of Claudia Cooley (pictured with her son, Roy), a member of the library's steering committee, who was inspired when she saw a similar phone booth library in the U.K. two years ago (Shelf Awareness, November 30, 2009). The Book Booth boasts an authentic British phone box outfitted with a solar panel that powers a motion sensor light for nighttime book borrowing.

The Book Booth has its own Facebook page.


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

Notes: Amazon's Launches; Former Employee Sues Borders

While the launch of an unmanned spacecraft sponsored by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos fizzled recently, two other launches by "the world's new reigning tech freak geek leader" appear to be proceeding as planned.

TechCrunch reported that the redesigned website Amazon is testing will ditch its "iconic blue and orange navigation" options for a new site that "features a much bigger search bar, bigger buttons, and less clutter--all changes that practically scream 'tablet-optimized!' "

The Wall Street Journal noted the new site "emphasizes Amazon's digital goods over its physical ones. On the old site, a column of buttons leads users to both electronic content and physical goods, such as toys, clothing and sporting gear. On the new site, a single row of buttons advertises only digital books, music, video and software."

Amazon spokeswoman Sally Fouts said the company began testing the redesign late last month. "We are continuing to roll out the new design to additional customers, but I can't speculate on when the new design will be live for everyone."

Also launching soon is Amazon's Kindle tablet, which is "not like any Kindle you’ve seen before," according to TechCrunch's Mo Siegler, who saw and used the new device recently. "It displays content in full color. It has a 7-inch capacitive touch screen. And it runs Android.... And I’m happy to report that it’s going to be a big deal. Huge, potentially." Amazon is targeting the end of November to release the $250 7-inch wi-fi version--buyers will also get a free subscription to Amazon Prime--with tentative plans to offer a 10-inch version in the first quarter of 2012.

Siegler noted that "the key for Amazon is just how deeply integrated all of their services are. Amazon’s content store is always just one click away. The book reader is a Kindle app (which looks similar to how it does on Android and iOS now). The music player is Amazon’s Cloud Player. The movie player is Amazon’s Instant Video player. The app store is Amazon’s Android Appstore."


A lawsuit has been filed by former Borders employee Jared Pinsker, who worked at the Ann Arbor, Mich., headquarters until he was laid off in July. The complaint, which was filed in Manhattan's U.S. Bankruptcy Court, seeks to represent a class of about 300 Ann Arbor workers and alleges that the employees received no notice when they were dismissed between July 23 and August 23. Damages are being sought "equal to 60 days' unpaid wages, pension contributions, healthcare and other benefits," Reuters reported

Pinsker said the federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act requires certain companies to give 60 days' notice before conducting mass layoffs of at least 33% of a given facility's workforce. He is also requesting that "recovery take the form of an administrative expense claim, which under federal bankruptcy rules would give it higher-priority status than other unsecured claims," Reuters wrote.


"What will it take for another bookseller to open shop in the Borders/Shaman Drum neighborhood at State and Liberty, and operate a browseable place with content deep and wide?" asked Domenica Trevor in a column for the Ann Arbor Chronicle.

Poet, University of Michigan teacher and veteran local bookseller Keith Taylor responded that "it will take idealism, a lot of 80-hour work weeks, a willingness to be constantly present," as well as a "landlord willing to rent space for less than the going rate."

Karl Pohrt, who owned the former Shaman Drum Bookshop, suggested it may have to be a group effort. The Chronicle noted that "Pohrt has another idea. 'Start with a group of people,' he says. A representative from city government. Someone from the Downtown Development Authority. A person from UM who’s committed to book culture. 'A good lawyer, a good real estate person, a good numbers person,' Pohrt says. 'And somebody who knows the book business--and there are a number of these in Ann Arbor.... you also need people to buy into the idea. And this is a test for the community.' "

Nicola Rooney, owner of Nicola's Books, said she would be willing to work with someone who "wants a hand-hold" while building a downtown business, and would "consider an arrangement with a bookseller in it for the long haul who, perhaps, could master the art and science of bookselling under her tutelage and 'essentially inherit it from me' when that day comes," the Chronicle wrote.


Dorothy Dickerson, owner of Books & More, Albion, Mich, told the Citizen Patriot that the biggest challenge she faces in running a bookstore now is ensuring people know it exists.

"When you're in a small town, you've got to have more than just books," Dickerson said. "Once you get them in the door, once you give them good customer service, you can usually get them to repeat."


Marcus Books, Oakland, Calif., is on the comeback trail. The East Bay Express reported that the owners of the bookstore, which was in foreclosure 20 months ago after falling prey to a Ponzi scheme, "kept the doors open and the store is now making a comeback. The business is emerging from its financial woes, has joined the social media generation, and plans to launch a new website soon. But the Oakland icon still faces major hurdles: Its black customer base is fleeing Oakland at a time when the economy remains mired in recession."

Paul Cobb, publisher of the Oakland Post and a longtime supporter of the shop he calls "a city treasure," said, "The City of Oakland needs to declare that bookstore a historic landmark." Cobb also has plans to encourage local public schools to buy their books by and about African Americans from Marcus Books. He considers the store "an important symbol of literacy for the African-American community." In addition, the Alameda County Small Business Association is helping the bookstore launch its new website and plans to help renovate the storefront and add a cafe.


Life after Harry Potter: Emma Watson "woos bookstore boy" in a new advertisement for Lancome's Tresor Midnight Rose fragrance, Celebuzz reported.

Book trailer of the day: You Deserve Nothing by Alexander Maksik (Tonga Books/Europa Editions). The video was shot entirely in the Paris Metro by a filmmaker friend of the author.


Obituary note: Bob Goben, former owner of Southern Book Service, Miami, Fla., died last Thursday. Jim Barkley of Southeastern Book Travelers wrote, "Bob was a great friend with a big heart who would do anything for anyone. He was a mentor to many young sales reps over the years. He will be missed by all who knew him."


The Perseus Books Group has entered into a joint venture with Faber and Faber to establish Faber Factory Powered by Constellation, which will provide global digital services for independent publishers in the U.K., Ireland and Commonwealth. The partnership will serve all existing Faber Factory clients as well as Faber and Faber itself. Atlantic Books has already signed up.

"Faber Factory was conceived as an ambitious response to the enormous and liberating opportunity for independent publishers in the digital age," said Stephen Page, publisher and CEO of Faber and Faber. He also noted that the "power of Faber partnering with Perseus makes this ambition immediately achievable, globally and long term."

David Steinberger, president and CEO of the Perseus Books Group, said, "We feel privileged to be joining forces with Faber utilizing our Constellation digital platform and their Faber Factory initiative to offer clients the unparalleled benefits of speed to market, global reach and technological innovation."


Caroline Brown has joined Running Press as publicity manager. She formerly senior manager of marketing and publicity at Sterling Publishing and earlier worked in publicity at Rodale.

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

Irene's Aftermath: Bookstores & Communities Respond

Lisa Sullivan, owner of Bartleby's Books, Wilmington, Vt., which was wrecked by the storm (Shelf Awareness, August 29, 2011), said she plans to reopen in "a couple of months." On the store's website, she wrote that Bartleby's lost "the majority of our inventory as well as all of our shelving and we'll require extensive renovations, but the building is sound and we are one of the more fortunate sites in the village. Some buildings washed away down river and others have been condemned. The incredible strength and support that we have experienced over the last few days has been the lifeline we've needed.  Friends and neighbors have come together to help our community. The downtown businesses are getting cleaned up more quickly with so much volunteer help." Sullivan has emphasized that Google eBooks are available for sale on Bartleby's website.


Duck's Cottage Bookstore, Duck, N.C., was not flooded but had to close for a week because of damage in the general area and power problems. The store reopened on Saturday and created a sign (right), posted around the store, that made the case for supporting Duck's and other local businesses.

Manager Jamie Layton wrote about one testament to the store's ties to the community: "We were sitting on the porch one day last week waiting for word on our utilities, watching the craziness going on in the shops around us as they struggled to repair their entire plumbing, electrical, septic and HVAC systems. A longtime customer walked up, so overcome with emotion she couldn't speak for a moment and was struggling to hold back her tears. I daresay that has never happened at Wal-Mart or Target or Borders."


The Norwich Bookstore, Norwich, Vt., is helping to restock the shelves of the West Hartford (Vt.) Public Library, whose children's collection--and many other titles--were destroyed by flooding from Hurricane Irene. (The damage was much like that suffered by the Wells Memorial Library in Upper Jay, N.Y., as noted here last Friday.)

For people who want to buy books for the library, the Norwich Bookstore has a list of titles the library is requesting, for which the store is offering a 20% discount and won't collect sales tax. The store will also accept donations of money for the library that will go to the library's book account. To donate money online, customers should buy a Norwich Bookstore Gift Card and designate the West Hartford Library as the recipient.

The bookstore is also accepting books for the library but requests that they not be sent until the library is cleaned and repaired and ready to accept books--there will be regular updates on the situation on Norwich Bookstore's website. Donations for the building fund should be sent to the library at P.O. Box 26, West Hartford, Vt. 05084.


Other than some leaks and gutters ripped off its building, Candlemark & Gleam, Bennington, Vt., was undamaged by Hurricane Irene. So, as owner Kate Sullivan said, "We want to pitch in to help rebuild, especially where our bookish compatriots are concerned." The speculative fiction publisher is offering to match any purchase made on the Candlemark & Gleam website through this Friday, September 9, with a donation of the same size split evenly between the Vermont Foodbank and the Red Cross.


The Book Village of Hobart, N.Y., which survived Irene unscathed, donated 10% of all sales made last Saturday to the Catskill Flood Relief Fund "to help our Catskill families, friends and neighbors."


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

Cool Idea of the Day: Village Books Goes to the Mall

Village Books, Bellingham, Wash., will operate a seasonal store in the Bellis Fair Mall from October 1 through January and offer books, calendars, holiday decorations and cards as well as hold several signings and special events. About 60% of inventory will be books.

"We know that a lot of our customers shop at the mall during the holiday season," said Dee Robinson, co-owner of Village Books. "We thought it was time we offered them some added convenience."

Last year the owners of the mall, which has many Canadian customers lured by the weak U.S. dollar, approached Village Books about opening a permanent store. "We didn't want to do that, but it got us thinking seriously about a seasonal store," co-owner Chuck Robinson said. "So being crazy booksellers, we decided, 'Why not?' "

The holiday store will be managed by community outreach director Paul Hanson, who joined Village Books in June after working at Eagle Harbor Book Co., Bainbridge Island, Wash., for 16 years (Shelf Awareness, May 19, 2011). He and Chuck Robinson have already begun moving fixtures into the space at the mall.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Dana Priest on NPR's Fresh Air

This morning on MSNBC's Morning Joe: Irshad Manji, author of Allah, Liberty and Love: The Courage to Reconcile Faith and Freedom (Free Press, $26, 9781451645200).


This morning on the Today Show: Thomas L. Friedman, author of That Used to Be Us: How America Fell Behind in the World It Invented and How We Can Come Back (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $28, 9780374288907).


Today on NPR's Fresh Air: Dana Priest, author of Top Secret America: The Rise of the New American Security State (Little, Brown, $27.99, 9780316182218).


Today on CNN's Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer: Dick Cheney, author of In My Time: A Personal and Political Memoir (Threshold, $35, 9781439176191).


Tonight on the Colbert Report: Margaret Hoover, author of American Individualism: How a New Generation of Conservatives Can Save the Republican Party (Crown Forum, $24.99, 9780307718150).


Tomorrow morning on the Today Show: Lauren Manning, author of Unmeasured Strength (Holt, $25, 9780805094633).


Tomorrow on NPR's Fresh Air: Dennis Smith, author of A Decade of Hope: Stories of Grief and Endurance from 9/11 Families and Friends (Viking, $26.95, 9780670022939).


Tomorrow on NPR's Diane Rehm Show: Joseph McCartin, author of Collision Course: Ronald Reagan, the Air Traffic Controllers, and the Strike that Changed America (Oxford University Press, $29.95, 9780199836789).

Televison: Big Dead Place; The Corrections

HBO and James Gandolfini are teaming up for a series based on Nicholas Johnson's memoir Big Dead Place: Inside the Strange and Menacing World of Antarctica. reported that Gandolfini is executive producer and star of the project, which is being adapted by co-executive producer Peter Gould (Breaking Bad).


HBO is also "nearing a pilot order" for filmmaker Noah Baumbach's series project based on Jonathan Franzen’s The Corrections,'s Nellie Andreeva reported, adding that "film producer Scott Rudin, who has been  developing the project for a decade, originally as a feature, is executive producing with Baumbach and Franzen, and I hear Anthony Hopkins has expressed interest in playing the male lead and will be meeting with the producers."

Books & Authors

Awards: Man Booker Prize Shortlist; Ned Kelly; Popescu

The shortlist for this year's £50,000 (US$80,450) Man Booker Prize:

The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes
Jamrach’s Menagerie by Carol Birch
The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt
Half Blood Blues by Esi Edugyan
Pigeon English by Stephen Kelman
Snowdrops by A.D. Miller

The winner of will be announced on October 18 in London


Winners of this year's Ned Kelly Awards, which recognize the best work of Australian crime writers, include The Diggers Rest Hotel by Geoffrey McGeachin (best first novel), Prime Cut by Alan Carter's (best novel), Abandoned: The Sad Death of Dianne Brimble by Geesche Jacobsen (best true-crime) and A. S. Patric, "who sells books at Readings in St. Kilda," for his short story "Hemisphere Travel Guides: Las Vegas for Vegans," the Age reported.


A shortlist has been announced for the £1,500 (US$1,712) Corneliu M. Popescu Prize for Poetry Translated from a European Language into English. The winner of this award, which honors the translator rather than the poet, will be named during the Aldeburgh Poetry festival in November. This year's finalists are:

David Colmer for Heavenly Life by Ramsey Nasr
Robin Fulton for Chickweed Wintergreen by Harry Martinson
George Messo, translator and editor of Ikinci Yeni: The Turkish Avant-Garde
Jennie Feldman and Stephen Romer for Into the Deep Street: Seven Modern French Poets
Judith Wilkinson for Raptors by Toon Tellegen
Adam J. Sorkin and Lydia Vianu for Lines Poems Poetry by Mircea Ivanescu 

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:


Among the Wonderful by Stacy Carlson (Steerforth, $27, 9781586421847). "Among the Wonderful is an historical novel rich with images of 1840s Manhattan and the exhibits--both living and preserved--that populate P.T. Barnum's American Museum. Outwardly freakish but inwardly just like you and me, the living, breathing, feeling human characters Stacy Carlson has created remind us of our common humanity. Ana Swift, one of Barnum's human exhibits, draws us into this world of hawkers and gawkers and voyeurs with uncommon intelligence, heart, and grace. Ana's story is universal: it is not what you see on the outside that truly counts. A remarkably beautiful story with characters that will stay with you long after the last page is turned. This is a book you will want to read again." --Susan Morgan, the Yankee Bookshop, Woodstock, Vt.

Girls in White Dresses by Jennifer Close (Knopf, $24.95, 9780307596857). "This book is smart, hilarious, and sincere, a combination both rare and, here, perfectly balanced. The series of interconnected short stories features Isabelle, her family, and her group of close friends as Isabelle grows up and moves from being a reluctant member of her older sister's wedding party to attending numerous friends' weddings. But this is not just a book about getting married. It is a book about growing up, being a girl, being both a friend and a girlfriend, and trying to find one's place in the world. It is also incredibly funny--laugh out loud, run into the next room to read sections to whomever will listen, spot-on funny! This lovely book should not only be shared among mothers, daughters, and friends, but be passed on to brothers, boyfriends, and dads too!" --Sarah Baline, Politics & Prose Books &, Washington, D.C.


Everything Beautiful Began After: A Novel by Simon Van Booy (Harper Perennial, $14.99, 9780061661488). "Simon van Booy's heart-stopping novel takes place predominantly in Athens in the summertime--a hot, dizzying place where three characters forge a brief and unforgettable connection. This book will completely sweep you away. It brims over with small, perfect details and plot twists that must be read to be believed. I can't imagine a better summer read!" --Kat Bailey, Bookshop Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, Calif.

For Ages 4 to 8

Patrick in a Teddy Bear's Picnic and Other Stories by Geoffrey Hayes (Toon, $12.95, 9781935179092). "Geoffrey Hayes understands children. From their sense of humor to their attention span, the Theodor Seuss Geisel Award winner nails it. His words and pictures speak to children of all ages and are sure to elicit laughter. Patrick follows a little bear as he picnics with his loving mother, dodges big bully bear, and avoids naps at all costs. This is a perfect book for anyone learning to read." --Becky Quiroga, Books & Books, Coral Gables, Fla.

[Many thanks to IndieBound and the ABA!]

Book Review

Review: Sanctus

Sanctus by Simon Toyne (Morrow, $25.99 hardcover, 9780062038302, September 6, 2011)

Dan Brown didn't invent the thriller that promises to blow your mind by explaining that everything you knew about religious history was a lie, but The Da Vinci Code has become the benchmark for the genre, and novels like Sanctus will inevitably be forced into comparison with it. In some respects, debut novelist Simon Toyne strives to surpass Dan Brown: while The Da Vinci Code was content to throw the origins of Christianity into doubt, Sanctus posits a brutal conspiracy that stretches back to the dawn of civilization and continues to hide its mysterious "Sacrament" deep inside the Citadel, a monastery carved into a mountain on the outskirts of Ruin, a Turkish city that has the distinction of being the oldest inhabited location on the planet.

The opening of the novel is impressively spectacular: one of the monks has just discovered the truth about the Sacrament and, having handled the news poorly, has been scheduled for execution. Instead, he breaks out of his cell and climbs to the top of the Citadel, where he poses like a crucified figure until international news networks broadcast his image all over the world, at which point he hurtles himself to the ground below. But... was he really mimicking Jesus on the cross, or was he depicting the Greek letter tau, the origins of which stretched all the way back to the ancient Sumerians?

This is exciting stuff, especially when you throw in an intrepid Turkish police inspector, commando monks sent to recover their apostate brother's corpse, an ancient counter-conspiracy that sees his suicide as the first movement of a long-awaited prophecy, and his sister, a reporter for a New York City newspaper who immediately jumps on a plane to Ruin when she gets the first news of her brother in eight years. Toyne sets all these components in motion and never lets the pace falter, right up to the startling revelation.

But where Dan Brown carefully nurtures the plausibility of his alternative theologies by aligning many of his key narrative details with the world as we already know it--both past and present--Toyne vaults into pure fantasy. It's not just that neither Ruin nor the Citadel exists; the religious order guarding the Sacrament is clearly intended to be disguised as a Christian order, yet seems to have a tangential at best connection to any Christian institution we would recognize. That might make sense, if you figure they're supposed to be the secret power behind Christianity, but then it turns out they're also the secret power behind Judaism, too, which seriously muddies the historical picture. (Also, they've managed to suppress just about every copy ever made of "the heretic Bible," but they haven't realized their ancient enemies have a base practically down the street?)

Despite these flaws in logic--as well as an ending that isn't really an ending--Sanctus can be awfully fun if you give yourself over to the ride. The non-realistic aspects of the story mean it's not likely to spark the sorts of debate Dan Brown's fiction can, but it reads as though Toyne's real focus may not be on theological revolution so much as sheer entertainment, and on that front his career is off to a rollicking start. --Ron Hogan

Shelf Talker: Subtly feminist critique of patriarchal religion or escapist thriller? You be the judge.


The Bestsellers

Top-Selling Titles in St. Louis

The following were the bestselling books at independent bookstores in and around St. Louis, Mo. During the week ended Sunday, August 28:


1. The Heart and the Fist: The Education of a Humanitarian, the Making of a Navy Seal by Eric Greitens
2. Little Black Dress by Susan McBride
3. The Help by Kathryn Stockett
4. Go the F**k to Sleep by Adam Mansbach
5. The Cougar Club by Susan McBride
6. Heaven Is for Real: A Little Boy's Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back by Todd Burpo
7. The Light Bringer by Chris DiGiuseppi and Mike Force
8. A Clash of Kings by George R.R. Martin
9. Noir at the Bar edited by Scott Phillips and Jedediah Ayers
10. But for the Grace of God: An Autobiography of an Aviator and Astronaut by William Reid Pogue


1. Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
2. The Power of Six by Pittacus Lore
3. If You Take a Mouse to School by Laura Numeroff
4. The Wimpy Kid Do-It-Yourself Book by Jeff Kinney
5. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
6. Love You Forever by Robert Munsch
7. Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
8. Three Pigs, Business School and Wolfe Hash Stew by Matthew S. Field
9. Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes by Mem Fox
10. Nightshade by Andrea Cremer

Reporting bookstores, all of which are members of the St. Louis Independent Bookstore Alliance: Left Bank Books, Main Street Books, Pudd'nhead Books, Subterranean Books, Sue's News.

[Many thanks to the booksellers!]

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