Shelf Awareness for Friday, October 28, 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

Used Bookseller 'Not Afraid of E-Books'

"My customers still have all sorts of reasons for purchasing printed books. The collector of modern first editions; the new mother passing her childhood favorites down to the next generation; the reader of forgotten and esoteric texts unavailable digitally--all are seeking out an experience greater than the words on the page. The e-book can't replicate that experience, and it doesn't have to.

"E-books are fantastic at keeping us reading; traditional books are great at reminding us why we started in the first place. We're fortunate to live in a world where we don’t have to decide on one or the other."

--Michael Popek in his Wall Street Journal piece headlined "I'm a Used Bookseller, and I'm Not Afraid of E-Books." Popek is the author of Forgotten Bookmarks and a bookseller at his family's used bookstore in Oneonta, N.Y.




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


News

Kobo to Enter Publishing Game

Canadian e-tailer Kobo, whose major shareholder is the bookstore chain Indigo Books, is emulating Amazon by entering the publishing business. CBC News reported that the new program, which will offer "complete publishing services for authors, including book editing and design," is scheduled to begin sometime next year, according to CEO Michael Serbinis.

"It's part of the new market and if you expect to be a number one player in that market globally, it's table stakes--you have to provide it," he said.  

Greg Hollingshead, chair of the Writers' Union of Canada, told CBC News he expects Amazon and Kobo to gain business that would otherwise go to traditional publishers: "They're clearly a major threat to publishers."

But Louise Dennys, executive v-p and publisher of Knopf Random Canada, said, "It will be good for writers to have more choices. I'm just confident we'll continue to do what we do best; the more the merrier."
 


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


Amazon in China: Name Change, Kindle Pending

Amazon has undergone a name change in China--from Joyo Amazon to Amazon.cn, "a sign that the company is ready to stand alone on its global brand," Penn Olson reported. It had been called Joyo Amazon after the company purchased Joyo.com seven years ago in order to enter China, and the name change is "actually more significant in the Chinese language, as there has been a 100% switcheroo in the Chinese characters used in the branding of the site."

Penn Olson added that Amazon's sales in China have been less than impressive thus far: "The phenomenal growth of books- and 3C-seller 360Buy in China in the past few years--to be number two in the B2C sector--shows that Amazon missed its prime opportunity in the country."

Hoping to increase its impact on the Chinese market, Amazon is in talks with regulators to introduce its Kindle and Kindle Fire in China. Reuters reported that Amazon's senior v-p Marc Onetto told Sohu IT yesterday the products are still under discussion regarding copyright issues and that the company does not plan to work with domestic vendors initially. "We hope to launch products in China that are simple and user-friendly," Onetto said. "If there are too many vendors participating, the product will become very complex. We are not only concerned with the speed to market in China but also with user needs."
 


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


World Book Night Unveils U.S. Board of Directors

The board of directors has been announced for World Book Night in the U.S., which will take place April 23, 2012. Board members are:

Molly Barton, v-p digital publishing, business development and strategy, Penguin
Patricia Bostelman, v-p, marketing, Barnes & Noble
Morgan Entrekin, CEO and publisher, Grove Atlantic
Dennis Eulau, executive v-p, operations, and CFO, Simon & Schuster
Carl Lennertz, executive director, World Book Night U.S.
Josh Marwell, president, sales, HarperCollins
Madeline McIntosh, president, sales, operations and digital, Random House
Phil Ollila, chief content officer, Ingram Content Group
Michael Pietsch, publisher, Little, Brown, and executive v-p, Hachette Book Group
Jeff Seroy, senior v-p, marketing and publicity, Farrar, Straus & Giroux
Oren Teicher, CEO, American Booksellers Association
    
"I'd also like to thank three people who served on a formation board earlier this fall," Lennertz noted. "Along with Madeline, Oren and Morgan, Scott Moyers of Penguin, Maya Mavjee of Crown and Tina Jordan of the AAP were instrumental in guiding the early planning of the many-layered campaign that is World Book Night in the U.S."
 


Obituary Note: James Hillman

James Hillman, a therapist and bestselling author (The Soul's Code) "whose theories about the psyche helped revive interest in the ideas of Carl Jung, animating the so-called men's movement in the 1990s and stirring the pop-cultural air," died yesterday, the New York Times reported. He was 85.
 


SCIBA 2011: Authors Feast and Trade Show

Maryelizabeth Hart of Mysterious Galaxy attended SCIBA 2011 wearing three hats: bookseller, editor/award nominee and reporter. She successfully protected all three hats from naughty rabbits. Here is her report:

A lively and enthusiastic group of booksellers, authors, teachers and librarians gathered for the Southern California Independent Booksellers Association Authors Feast and Trade Show in Long Beach last Saturday to network, attend education sessions and celebrate SCIBA annual awards. Attendance was up among bookstores, including, as executive director Jennifer Bigelow said, "more of the booksellers who are putting books into readers' hands."

The power of buy local movements was emphasized by ABA CEO Oren Teicher at the session on Consumer Behavior Revealed. Teicher reminded attendees that "the notion that the independent retailer is disappearing in America is simply not the case," as he led them through the process of helping determine what services and values are sought by their "increasingly inscrutable customer." (Take that, algorithms!)

The lunch program included the succinctly funny Amy Ephron; Oliver Jeffers, who presented a slideshow biography, including a representation of his "average day" and outtakes from Stuck; periodically local author Héctor Tobar, who spoke passionately about the contributions bookstores made in his journey to writing; Luis Alberto Urrera, who impressed attendees by reciting a passage from Queen of America from memory; and Maggie Stiefvater, who shared her "Presentation Thing" of her research for The Scorpio Races (with some technical assistance from Jeffers and others), and a trailer and a recipe for her intended-to-be-fictional November Cakes.

At the sales rep picks of the list presentation, Joe Murphy of Norton was particularly eloquent, presenting highlights of The Swerve: How the World Became Modern by Stephen Greenblatt; his "Dad/ Holiday/ Bathroom Reading" pick, The Great Big Book of Horrible Things: The Definitive Chronicle of History's 100 Worst Atrocities by Matthew White; and Michael Lewis's Boomerang: Travels in the New Third World, with its chapter on the economics of California. 

At the Consumer Centric Solutions: How to Cultivate Profits and Incremental Sales Through E-Commerce Business Modeling session, Baker & Taylor v-p John Wittman focused on opportunities for booksellers in an environment where an astonishing 53% of book purchases are made online. Wittman cited the nimbleness of independents in responding to customers as a particular asset, stating, "I think your future is bright."

Teacher Tamsie Pierce of Rosebank Elementary enjoyed the Young Adult author "Pen Fatales" presentation, although it skewed a bit above her student demographic, especially the participants' advice to young readers at the end. She and fellow staff were delighted by the strong childrens' books and authors featured at the show, including new dystopian works by Marie Lu and Jeff Hirsch.

The lively trade show floor seemed more focused than in years past. At the Penguin Group booth, Amy Comito was handing out Hallowe'en treat bags via pitchfork--contents included "pumpkin patch" Pop Rocks and Vanity Fair postcard book postcards. Dale Zaputa of Vroman's, Pasadena, a self-confessed fan of "huge tomes," was enthusiastic about Parallel Stories by Péter Nádas, Murakami's 1Q84 and new titles from Angel City Press.

The evening concluded with a new twist on the traditional Authors Feast and Book Award Dinner--desserts were made available buffet style, while authors signed books for attendees, making for a festive, sugar-infused atmosphere. Keynote speaker Brian Selznick was introduced by Robin Preiss Glasser, who spoke of their past SCIBA encounters. Before she exited the stage, Brian presented Robin with a foil tiara--he wore a matching one that went with his silver shoes. The association gave Northern California Independent Booksellers Association executive director Hut Landon a plaque of appreciation for his leadership and efforts in establishing e-fairness. Two booksellers received Glenn Goldman scholarships, and Nicole White of the Penguin Young Readers Group won the inaugural Sales Rep of the Year Award. Andrea Vuleta of Mrs. Nelson's Toy & Book Shop, LaVerne, received a bouquet and thanks for her service as SCIBA president.

The SCIBA Book Award for Children's Picture Book went to Bear with Me by Max Kornell, who commented on how his process differs from Brian Selznick's intensive one, as shown in Selznick's keynote presentation. Accepting the Children's Novel Award for The Marbury Lens, Andrew Smith wished attendees an extended "Happy Teen Read Week."  Deborah Harkness, the fiction winner for A Discovery of Witches, thanked booksellers for supporting her lifelong romance with reading material. T. Jefferson Parker gave the mystery award, named in his honor, to fellow San Diego County author Don Winslow, who commented that the list of nominees would make for "a dinner I'd like to be at." On behalf of Audrey Niffenegger, Kerry Slattery of Skylight Books, Los Angeles, accepted the Glenn Goldman Award for Art, Architecture and Photography for The Night Bookmobile. Nonfiction winner Sysan Suntree said she is delighted that the recognition of Sacred Sites: The Secret History of Southern California is increasing residents' awareness of their region.

 


Notes

All Watched Over by... Steve Jobs

Consider this an alternative to the more somber tributes pouring in for the late Steve Jobs. Booksellers Kat Bailey and Nici McCown of Bookshop Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, Calif., have been photographing the strategically placed cover image on Walter Isaacson's new biography of the Apple founder in various corners of the bookstore, then posting the results on Tumblr under the heading "Watched by Steve."

Their explanation: "You know that feeling you get sometimes, like you're being watched? You keep looking over your shoulder, and even though no one's there, you just can't shake it. We booksellers have been feeling that way a lot lately, and we think we know why.

"(We certainly mean no disrespect with this--it's been wonderful to have this long-awaited book in our store. We see it as a tribute to a very striking book cover, one that we can't stop seeing everywhere we go.)"
 


Life Lessons from Well-Adjusted Novelists

The booksellers at Politics & Prose Bookstore and Coffeehouse, Washington, D.C., wondered whether, in our self-help-obsessed world, "novelists--famous for their happy, well-adjusted lives and healthful habits--have anything in the way of useful, practical advice to offer."

Once the results of their research were tabulated, they created a Facebook page featuring shelf talkers that helpfully showcase the life lessons delineated from encounters with all those well-adjusted novelists and their works, including George Eliot's Middlemarch ("Why you shouldn't marry a desiccated old man"), Jack Kerouac's On the Road ("Why asking for directions is overrated") and Henry Fielding's Tom Jones ("How to be a playa").
 


Does My Kindle Look Fat to You?

"When an e-reader is loaded with thousands of books, does it gain any weight?" was the question of the day in the New York Times science section earlier this week. And the answer is: sort of.
 
"In principle, the answer is yes," said John D. Kubiatowicz, a professor of computer science at the University of California, Berkeley. "However, the amount is very small, on the order of an atogram. This amount is effectively unmeasurable." It is also "only about one hundred-millionth as much as the estimated fluctuation from charging and discharging the device's battery," the Times wrote.  
 



Media and Movies

Media Heat: Philip Galaneson on NPR's Weekend Edition

Tomorrow morning on the Early Show: Todd English, author of Cooking in Everyday English: The ABCs of Great Flavor at Home (Oxmoor House, $29.95, 9780848734848).

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Sunday on Meet the Press: Walter Isaacson, author of Steve Jobs (Simon & Schuster, $35, 9781451648539).

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Sunday on NPR's Weekend Edition: Philip Galanes, author of Social Q's: How to Survive the Quirks, Quandaries and Quagmires of Today (Simon & Schuster, $23, 9781451605785).
 


Television: The Power Broker

HBO and Oliver Stone are developing a project based on Robert Caro's Pulitzer Prize-winning book The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York. According to the Hollywood Reporter, the project will be directed by Stone, who will also executive produce with Peter Guber and James Gandolfini. Nicholas Meyer (Collateral Damage, The Prince of Egypt) is writing the script.
 


Movie Trailers: The Lorax; The Secret World of Arrietty

Universal Pictures and Illumination Entertainment have released the first teaser trailer for Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax, which will be released March 2, 2012, Deadline.com reported.

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Disney released the English-language trailer for The Secret World of Arrietty, directed by Hiromasa Yonebayashi from a screenplay by animator Hayao Miyazaki and Keiko Niwa. Deadline.com reported the movie, based on Mary Norton's classic novel The Borrowers, opens February 17 in the U.S. Voice cast includes Bridgit Mendler, Amy Poehler, Carol Burnett, Will Arnett, David Henrie and Moises Arias.
 


Books & Authors

Awards: H.W. Fisher Best First Biography

Matthew Hollis won the £5,000 (US$7,899) H.W. Fisher Best First Biography Prize for Now All Roads Lead to France: The Last Years of Edward Thomas. Speaking for the judges, Michael Prodger called the book "not just an account of one of the First World War’s less starry poets but of two worlds. The first is the febrile poetry world of the time, full of arguments, striving and intense friendships; the second is the world of creativity inside Thomas's head and just how the poems came about and were crafted. Hollis depicts both with extraordinary insight and in prose that is in the very best sense poetic."
 


Books for a Better Life

The New York City/Southern New York Chapter of the National MS Society held a reception at Random House Bertelsmann's corporate headquarters Thursday night to announce the nominees for its 16th annual Books for a Better Life Awards, honoring books in several self-improvement categories--and, over the years, raising more than $1.8 million to provide support services for MS patients and their families.

After the 55 finalists were called out, Ingram Content Group CEO Skip Prichard, who will be inducted into the Books for a Better Life Hall of Fame at the formal awards ceremony in March 2012, chatted with Michael Kazan of Verso Advertising, Jenny Powers of the MS Society, and former Bantam Dell v-p Betsy Hulsebosch, who has been independently consulting for the awards for the last decade. Nominees for this year's awards range from Tiger Mother author Amy Chua and poet/memoirists Meghan O'Rourke and Jill Bialosky to the actors Ted Danson and Tyrese Gibson; the full shortlists in all 11 categories will be posted on the organization's site. --Ron Hogan

 


Hudson Booksellers' Best Books of 2011

Hudson Booksellers, which has 70 bookstores and sells books in more than 400 Hudson News newsstands in airports and transportation terminals in North America, has selected its best books published in 2011. The lists are displayed in all the stores and were picked by a panel of company booksellers and managers.

Book of the Year: West of Here by Jonathan Evison

Best Fiction:
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt
The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh
West of Here by Jonathan Evison
Claire DeWitt and the City of the Dead by Sara Gran
Stories for Nighttime and Some for the Day by Ben Loory
The Tiger’s Wife by Tea Obreht
The Tragedy of Arthur by Arthur Phillips
The Fates Will Find Their Way by Hannah Pittard
We the Animals by Justin Torres

Best Nonfiction:
Townie by Andre Dubus III
Bossypants by Tina Fey
Granta 116: Ten Years Later, edited by John Freeman
Swerve by Stephen Greenblatt
The Heart and the Fist by Eric Greitens
Arguably by Christopher Hitchens
In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson
Sex on the Moon by Ben Mezrich
What It Is Like to Go to War by Karl Marlantes
The Psychopath Test by Jon Ronson

Best Young Readers:
The Chronicles of Harris Burdick by Chris Van Allsburg
A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness (inspired by an idea from Siobhan Dowd)
OK for Now by Gary D. Schmidt
Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

Best Business Interest:
Nothing to Lose, Everything to Gain by Ryan Blair with Don Yaeger
Money and Power by William D. Cohan
Tell to Win by Peter Guber
Boomerang by Michael Lewis
The Quest by Daniel Yergin
 


Book Brahmin: Clive Barker

After seven years, fans of Clive Barker's Abarat series--set on the mysterious archipelago for which it's named--have the third book, Absolute Midnight (Joanna Cotler/HarperCollins, ages 13-up, September 27, 2011). Barker's latest installment brings back Candy Quackenbush, Malingo the Geshrat and John Brothers as they attempt to quash Mater Motley's plot to become Empress of the Islands. Barker's full-color illustrations bring to life the characters of this dystopian world.

On your nightstand now:

Goya in the Twilight of Enlightenment by Janis A. Tomlinson.

Favorite book when you were a child:

Peter Pan.

Your top five authors:

Herman Melville; the translators of the King James Bible, because in a sense they are the authors of it--setting as they did both the style and the cadence and so on; Kenneth Grahame, the author of The Wind in the Willows, who wrote in a chapter called "The Piper at the Gates of Dawn" one of the most perfectly beautiful passages about a sense of awe in the English language. It's something I would die to have written; Lorca; Yeats.

Book you've faked reading:

All of Joyce. Most of Whitman. And anything in middle English.

Book you are an evangelist for:

Anything by me.

Book you've bought for the cover:

Well, I don't think this one exists anymore, but the original cover of The Halloween Tree by Ray Bradbury in the American edition.

Book that changed your life:

The Bible.

Favorite line from a book:

"Call me Ishmael."

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

It's a poem: "Sailing to Byzantium" by Yeats. It had a profound effect on me.

 


Book Review

Review: Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson (Simon & Schuster, $35 hardcover, 9781451648539, October 2011)

There's a passage near the end of Steve Jobs where Walter Isaacson describes some of the ways Jobs was emotionally neglectful toward his 16-year-old daughter, and then she asks if she can give an interview for the book. "Sometimes I wish I had more of his attention," she admits, "but I know the work he's doing is very important and I think it's really cool, so I'm fine. I don't really need more attention." It's a poignant moment, all the more so because even Jobs could recognize that it might not be entirely true. Two months before his death, when Isaacson asked why he agreed to cooperate with the biography, Jobs replied, "I wanted my kids to know me.  I wasn't always there for them, and I wanted them to know why and to understand what I did."

 

It wasn't just his family Jobs was concerned about; he knew people would be writing about him and his legacy at Apple, and he wanted to make sure his version of events was out there. Yet while Steve Jobs acknowledges its subject was "the greatest business executive of our era," it's far from a straightforward tribute. Isaacson has interviewed people who knew Jobs at every stage of his career, and--well, anyone who's kept an eye on the computer industry already knows he was a volatile leader whose passion for excellence could all too easily flip into abusiveness towards anything he saw as less than excellent. (His stubborn refusal to accept anything but the best persisted even as he clung to life after a difficult transplant surgery, when he tore off an oxygen mask because it was badly designed.) Over the last decade, though, Jobs became--after Bill Gates--the other computer industry executive recognized by people who didn't follow the computer industry, and for those readers Isaacson's revelations about the turmoil of Apple's early years and the detours to NeXT and Pixar before his triumphant return will be even more eye-opening. (The chapter on his working relationship with designer Jony Ive is particularly insanely great.)

Readers who think they knew what Jobs was like, however, still have much to discover. Some of the most engaging passages in Steve Jobs are those in which Isaacson directly engages his subject: "What's on Steve's iPod?" is one example, but there's also the opportunity to wander the streets of Silicon Valley, visiting Jobs's childhood touchstones--or, less idyllically, to push him on the question of whether he really stiffed Steve Wozniak, the co-founder of Apple, on the bonus for a project they did at Atari in 1975, and then to double-check the story with Wozniak and Atari's Nolan Bushnell. Scenes like these, scattered throughout the biography, remind us that Jobs was not just a cultural icon, but a complicated man whose radical transformation of the world came with a profound emotional cost. --Ron Hogan

Shelf Talker: Isaacson's biography lives up to the hype, showing readers the private turbulence that spurred Jobs to public greatness.

 


Deeper Understanding

Robert Gray: The Xmas Creep--A Halloween Tale

Stay, if you dare, in the bookshop on Halloween... after closing, perhaps. The store is dark, the moonlit stacks "haunted by the ghosts of the books I haven't read. Poor uneasy spirits they walk and walk around me," as Roger Mifflin, proprietor of Christopher Morley's The Haunted Bookshop, so aptly put it.  

These are not the ghosts that frighten you on this most frightful of nights, however. Even the window and table displays near the front of the shop are no longer shocking: the unsettlingly cheery ghosts and monsters on the covers of children's books; the "hot" vampires and werewolves lurking in YA fiction; the inescapable horror cascade of Stephen King titles.

Your potentially terrifying, unsold Halloween-themed sidelines inventory--all those greeting cards, Edgar Allan Poe masks, black cat earrings, jack-o'-lantern mugs--is also something you can withstand, comforted perhaps by the knowledge there are other retailers in more harrowing situations than yours, like those haunted bookstores (Dare we invoke the name of the dead--Borders?) that have been transmuted into Halloween costume shops this year.

No, you are not scared yet. You're a bookseller. You've been through hell before, or at least read about it.

But as you move deeper into the store, a chill runs down your spine. Lurking in the corners, everywhere you turn, are mysterious objects as white as ghosts and as red as blood. You get closer, and the shapes of these talismans become familiar--Christmas cards, Christmas books, Christmas ornaments, Christmas wrap, ribbons and bows. There are even stacks of calendars boldly predicting an as yet unforeseeable future--2012.

You're frightened now, aren't you? We understand. What you see is not normal, not the way it once was, the way it's supposed to be in a rational world. Something evil this way came, and over time it has altered the fabric of the holiday universe.

Your fictional bookselling ancestor, Mr. Mifflin, once said, "Now that Thanksgiving is past, my mind always turns to Christmas, and Christmas means Charles Dickens." But those times are long forgotten. Black Friday as the beginning of the holiday season is as much an illusion as Marley's ghost.

The Xmas Creep, as evil a shapeshifter as ever dwelt in these lands, manifests himself earlier each year. For him, all other holidays after July 4 are simply inconveniences, brief stops along the red-&-white brick road to Christmas. He will outlive that day, too, in the form of post-holiday sales that extend his reign into the following year.

What does the Xmas Creep look like? One of his arch-enemies is the Consumerist, which has been tracking the Xmas Creep's movements "since the days when it wasn't yet common to see wreaths, trees, and tinsel on sale in September," and has now "combined our love of DIY crafts with our not-love for Christmas in July" to create an icon that can be used as protection against this evil force. The Consumerist advises loyal followers to "go out there and spread the Christmas Creep cheer."

ABC News has taken notice of the Consumerist's battle against the Xmas Creep, saying that "those who think the commercialization of the holidays has gone too far, including seeing Christmas trees in shopping malls before Halloween, have taken action. Consumers fed up with Christmas decorations and products creeping into retail outlets earlier every year are trying to shame retailers into patience."

Chris Morran, senior editor at the Consumerist, is not afraid to speak evil's name. He told ABC News that "seeing Christmas decorations in July or August not only cheapened and watered down the actual holiday shopping experience but also tended to override the holidays that should be getting 'the proper attention.' " The Consumerist has "received numerous complaints from readers who hunted in the past week for Halloween decorations or costumes, only to find they had been replaced by tinsel and Christmas lights."

What should you do? What can you do? The Xmas Creep has already infected our culture and infested your inventory, so there's no point in resisting. Nordstrom's fired a warning shot at him, but I hear that even Dr. Seuss's Grinch is now under his spell, working as a barista in Whoville's B&N, where he sells Starbucks Christmas Blend coffee by the pound.--Robert Gray (column archives available at Fresh Eyes Now)
 


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