Character of--and Characters in--Independent Bookshops
CEO Paulo Lemgruber has left Bookish, the new joint venture of Penguin, Hachette and Simon & Schuster in partnership with the AOL Huffington Post Media Group, and is being replaced by Caroline Marks, general manager of digital parents and lifestyle platforms at Meredith, according to Galley Cat. Lemgruber formerly developed and ran digital businesses at Comcast and Reed Elsevier.
Bookish is a consumer-oriented website about books and authors that was supposed to launch this past summer (Shelf Awareness, May 9, 2011).
A Waldenbooks in the mall closed in January. The Sequel Bookshop, which is in the Hilltop Mall in Kearney, sells some new titles and mostly overstock and discount titles as well as audiobooks, gifts and other products.
A PricewaterhouseCoopers report on Australia's book market commissioned by the government's Book Industry Strategy Group predicted that the e-book market will grow from its current $35 million to between $150 and $700 million within three years; noted that high taxes, postage costs and Australian dollar continue to make Australian publishers and booksellers less competitive globally; and forecasted that the number of bookstores will likely shrink.
The Sydney Morning Herald said the report found no "silver bullet" for booksellers, but had praised Canadian bookseller Indigo Books & Music for, as the paper wrote, promoting "books as a 'lifestyle,' not a product. It sells giftware, children's toys, video games, music, gourmet food and even flowers and is an example of an independent bookseller leveraging people's affection for books."
The one bookseller the paper quoted offered a limited example of offering non-book products. Jane Turner, owner of Gertrude & Alice Cafe Bookstore, Bondi, NSW, has had a café (in photo) since it opened 11 years ago and six months ago added wine to the menu, "because you're constantly trying to do things to look after the customers that you have,'' she told the Morning Herald. ''Every other person in retail you talk to talks about how terrible it is out there, and I think if we didn't have the different facets to the business--if you didn't have the coffee and the food and the wine and the books... when one has a bad day the other one just buffers it out.''
Amazon has launched an online Chinese-language bookstore, in cooperation with the state-owned China International Publishing Group (CIPG) as part of a global promotional program for Chinese books initiated by the General Administration of Press and Publication in 2010, Xinhua News Agency reported.
"China has many excellent publications suitable for the international market, but sales are restricted by limited marketing channels," said Liu Binjie, head of GAPP.
Wired magazine recommended that Amazon increase its global reach even more, noting that customers outside the U.S. "have good reason to be both excited and frustrated by the company's three new Kindle devices. The baseline $79 Kindle finally supports seven different interface languages and will be sold immediately in Canada, the U.K., Germany and elsewhere.... However, the much-anticipated Kindle Fire tablet is U.S.-only, with no announced timeline for a global roll out. The same is true for the Kindle Touch."
Amazon must "crack the global market in order to compete with companies like Apple and Microsoft, or get Apple- or Microsoft-like growth," Wired wrote, adding that the Kindle Fire's "temporary confinement to the U.S. is just one more reason it's unfair to compare the Fire with the iPad. The Fire simply doesn't stand a chance competing with the iPad or iPhone or iAnything in total number of sales unless and until as many people in as many countries have a chance to buy both."
Barnes & Noble's Nook is now being sold in Target stores across the country. It is also available at Books-A-Million, Best Buy, Fred Meyer, Office Max, P.C. Richard & Sons, Radio Shack, Staples and Walmart.
Here's something from the wish-we-were-back-in-school department.
Tomorrow morning, Smith College, Northampton, Mass., is introducing a "book studies concentration" that will draw on "the exceptional resources of the Mortimer Rare Book Room and the wealth of book artists and craftspeople of the Pioneer Valley." In classes, through field projects and independent research, students will learn about the history of the book, from oral memory and papyrus scrolls to digital media, as well as book production, technology and design, illustration, the book trade, libraries, literacy and more.
Congratulations to Waucoma Bookstore, Hood River, Ore., which is celebrating its 35th anniversary this month. The kickoff is this coming Friday, October 7, and includes a ribbon cutting and book signing featuring Jane Kirkpatrick, author of Barcelona Calling and A Log Cabin Christmas.
Other celebratory events include events starring Kerrelyn Sparks, author of Sexiest Vampire Alive, this evening, and Diana Abu-Jaber, author of Birds of Paradise, on Tuesday, October 25, as well as a trivia quiz, a deal-a-day, limited edition coffee and prizes.
Waucoma Bookstore was founded in 1976 by Sally Laventure, who with her husband built bookshelves that are still in use. The store moved several times and was bought in 2008 by Muir and Jenny Cohen. As a child, Muir Cohen went to the bookstore regularly. His favorite memory of the store, he said, is walking back to the children's section and smelling the freshly ground coffee.
Last week the Feiwel & Friends celebrated the release of Chocolate Me! by Taye Diggs, star of TV's Private Practice, and illustrated by Shane W. Evans. Here in front are Evans (l.) and Diggs and, in back, publisher Jean Feiwel and editor Liz Szabla.
Jenny Milchman, the driving force behind Take Your Child to a Bookstore Day and author of Cover of Snow, which will appear in 2013, took a cross-country tour this summer with her family and visited 60 bookstores. Author Rick Murcer interviewed Milchman about her trip, the stores she visited and more. See Murcer's q&a and the link to photos of many of the stores.
One of our favorite parts: "We also bought books at every single store. My clothing allowance--possibly our kids' college funds--went to funding this trip. But I really believe that if I want a store like Night Heron Books & Coffeehouse in Laramie, Wyo., to exist, for it to be there with a welcoming soul, and a piece of pie, and volumes to pore over, then I have to support it with everything I have."
This coming Thursday, October 6, the Publishers Advertising & Marketing Association is hosting a video workshop featuring Steve Stockman, a director and author of How to Shoot Video That Doesn't Suck. (We're running this item in part because the industry should know how to shoot book trailer that don't suck, but also just because we love the title of Stockman's book.) The workshop will be held from 12:30 to 2 p.m. at the Random House Café Auditorium at 1745 Broadway. Member cost: $30; nonmembers $50. RSVP to RSVP@pama-ny.org or go to PAMA's website.
Luminous Airplanes by Paul La Farge (Farrar, Straus & Giroux). The trailer is directed by Hal Hartley (Henry Fool) and stars La Farge and Amanda Stern, who talk about immersive text and the website for Luminous Airplanes where readers can explore many links for the text.
Kathleen Massara has joined the company as a publicist. Previously she was the literary editor of Flavorpill.com's Flavorwire culture blog and a reporter for the Left Business Observer. She will also blog on MobyLives.
Paul Oliver has been appointed marketing manager, in charge of academic and library marketing. He will also oversee the company's HybridBook Project, which he initiated. He was formerly co-owner of Philadelphia indie Wolfgang Books.
Tomorrow on Imus in the Morning: Siddhartha Mukherjee, author of The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer (Scribner, $18, 9781439170915).
Tomorrow on the View: William Shatner, author of Shatner Rules: Your Guide to Understanding the Shatnerverse and the World at Large (Dutton, $21.95, 9780525952510).
Tomorrow on NPR's Diane Rehm Show: Errol Morris, author of Believing Is Seeing: Observations on the Mysteries of Photography (Penguin, $40, 9781594203015).
Tomorrow on the Judith Regan Show: Frank DeCaro, author of The Dead Celebrity Cookbook: A Resurrection of Recipes from More than 145 Stars of Stage and Screen (HCI, $19.95, 9780757315961).
Tomorrow night on the Daily Show: Michael Lewis, author of Boomerang: Travels in the New Third World (Norton, $25.95, 9780393081817). Lewis is also on NPR's Fresh Air today.
Warner Bros plans to develop Don Winslow's novel Satori as a star vehicle for Leonardo DiCaprio. Deadline.com reported that Shane Salerno will write the script with Winslow. John Lesher's Grisdi Productions and DiCaprio's Appian Way partner Jennifer Killoran are producing, with Salerno serving as executive producer.
Novelist Rohinton Mistry won the $50,000 Neustadt International Prize for Literature, which is presented every two years to a poet, playwright or novelist. The award is sponsored by the University of Oklahoma, the Neudstadt family and World Literature Today magazine. Mistry's books include Such a Long Journey, A Fine Balance, Family Matters and The Scream (illustrated by Tony Urquhart).
Robert Con Davis-Undiano, WLT executive director, said, "The world will quickly discover the excellence of Rohinton Mistry's luminous fiction that the Neustadt jury acknowledged with this choice. Giving the award to Mistry is inspired."
David Rakoff has won the 2011 Thurber Prize for American Humor for Half Empty (Doubleday). Judge Ian Frazier, a two-time Thurber Prize winner, said of Half Empty: "These are funny, well-written, and soulful essays. There is a richness of experience here and his humor is both strong and very subtle."
Mike Birbiglia for Sleepwalk with Me and Other Painfully True Stories (Simon & Schuster)
Rick Reilly for Sports from Hell: My Search for the World's Dumbest Competition (Doubleday).
The awards were presented last night at an event at the Algonquin Hotel in New York City. The prize is sponsored by Thurber House and honors the author and publisher of the outstanding book of humor writing published in the U.S.
From last week's Indie bestseller lists, available at IndieBound.org, here are the recommended titles, which are also Indie Next Great Reads:
Northwest Angle: A Novel by William Kent Krueger (Atria, $24.99, 9781439153956). "Krueger's latest Cork O'Connor tale is partly based on a real event--straight-line winds that flattened a great swath of forest in northern Minnesota. This fast-paced thriller leads the reader through a tangled web of secrets that unfolds unpredictably until the satisfying end. The characters are deep and spiritual, and the landscape beautiful. Some Native American wisdom adds to the story. If you have not read Krueger's previous novels, this book will have you seeking them out." --Kristin Hurlin, the Cottage Book Shop, Glen Arbor, Mich.
The Most Dangerous Thing by Laura Lippman (Morrow, $25.99, 9780061706516). "The past is always with us, and no one knows that better than Laura Lippman. The not-so-innocent games of five children have consequences that resonate through decades, changing some lives and destroying others. Using narration from various viewpoints, including a haunting collective voice, Lippman once again demonstrates her incisive abilities of observation, which make her one of the finest chroniclers of modern society." --Bill Cusumano, Nicola's Books, Ann Arbor, Mich.
Exley: A Novel by Brock Clarke (Alqonquin, $13.95, 9781616200848). "If you like a book featuring an unreliable narrator, you have found it. Miller is nine years old and struggling with the disappearance of his father, who may or may not have joined the army and gone to Iraq. Miller's 'mental health professional' strains the definition of the title 'professional.' Miller's mother is bitter and quite sure that joining the military is the last thing her husband would have done. And then there's Frederick Exley, who inhabits the novel through the relationship each of these characters has with his book, A Fan's Notes. Even if, like me, you have never read A Fan's Notes, you will feel rewarded by this smart and moving novel." --Stan Hynds, Northshire Bookstore, Manchester Center, VT.
For Ages 8 to 12
The Dagger Quick by Brian Eames (Paula Wiseman Books/Simon & Schuster, $15.99, 9781442423114). "A father tried to protect his boy from the lure of the sea, but after the loss of his family, the young hero joins a pirate crew with the hope of both finding a vast treasure and a hidden heirloom dagger and catching the rival pirate gang that has taken his stepmother and brother. Far more buckling than swash and packed with action, this is a great pirate book." --Andrea Vuleta, Mrs. Nelson's Toy & Book Shop, La Verne, Calif.
[Many thanks to IndieBound and the ABA!]
The Great Leader by Jim Harrison (Grove, $24 hardcover, 9780802119704, October 4, 2011)
Jim Harrison brings his established fascination with the rugged places of the natural world, the pleasures of good food and the persistence of sexual desire to this sometimes playful, often poignant story of one man's twilight quest for redemption.
Harrison's protagonist, Simon Sunderson, evokes some of the antiheroes of Elmore Leonard's fiction, but his creator has bestowed on him a richer interior life than most of his fellow Michigander's characters. Newly retired as a Michigan State Police detective and still mourning the divorce that had "blown a three-year long bomb crater" in his life, Sunderson decides to devote himself to tracking down the Great Leader--variously known as Dwight, Daryl or King David--the head of a tiny cult created to satisfy his lust for adolescent girls.
Sunderson's Ahab-like quest takes him from Michigan's Upper Peninsula to the Arizona/Mexico border (where an encounter with the sister of a notorious narcotico places his own life at risk) to Nebraska's lonely, beautiful sandhills. Along the way he drinks too much, overindulges in the local cuisine (a Mexican breakfast dish that features tripe is one of his favorites) and pines for both his ex-wife, Diane, and his nubile next-door neighbor, 16-year-old Mona, whose skill with computers lands her a job as computer illiterate Sunderson's assistant.
Though the ex-detective's frequently shambling pursuit of the cult leader provides the novel's narrative momentum (he survives a stoning ambush by sect members, among other perils), Harrison's complex, appealing, if obviously flawed protagonist is the essence of the story's true pleasure: "Life moment by moment is so unforgiving," Sunderson muses in one of his many moments of pained reflection, "and I'm a slow study." Telling someone he's "investigating the evil connection between religion, money, and sex," Sunderson, an avid student of history, spends plenty of time pondering those elemental subjects, alongside the pure joy of fishing for brook trout in a fast-running stream or the mysteries of Native American ritual. He's a cynic, who's spent "forty years as a janitor trying to clean up the culture's dirt," and yet he's capable of drawing others to himself in a meaningful ways.
It's possible to enjoy The Great Leader as a detective story but even more so as an exploration of one man's wounded psyche, each perspective decidedly unconventional in its own way. Though he's been writing for a long time, Jim Harrison's latest leaves no doubt he still has much that's fresh, entertaining and thoughtful to say. --Harvey Freedenberg
Shelf Talker: Jim Harrison's ample talents are on display in this story of a retired detective's strange pursuit of a decadent cult leader.
The bestselling books on AbeBooks.com during September:
1. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey
2. The Help by Kathryn Stockett
3. A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
4. A Boy Should Know How to Tie a Tie by Antwone Fisher
5. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
6. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
7. Black Like Me by John Howard Griffin
8. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
9. And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie
10. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
The bestselling signed books on AbeBooks.com during September:
1. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
2. The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes
3. The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach
4. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
5. The Cat's Table by Michael Ondaatje
6. Pigeon English by Stephen Kelman
7. Collected Books by Allen and Patricia Ahearn
8. The Help by Kathryn Stockett
9. The Sisters Brothers by Patrick Dewitt
10. Racing Through the Dark by David Millar
[Many thanks to AbeBooks.com!]