Shelf Awareness for Friday, March 10, 2006

Harper Voyager: Dragon Rider (Soulbound Saga #1) by Taran Matharu

Page Street YA: The Final Curse of Ophelia Cray by Christine Calella

HarperOne: I Finally Bought Some Jordans: Essays by Michael Arceneaux

Tor Nightfire: Ghost Station by S.A. Barnes

Severn River Publishing: Covert Action (Command and Control #5) by J.R. Olson and David Bruns

Scholastic Press: Heroes: A Novel of Pearl Harbor by Alan Gratz

Quotation of the Day

The Movie Is Bad Above All Things, Reviewer Says

"Viewer discretion is advised, if only because it's well-nigh unwatchable."--A New York Times review of the new movie The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things, based on the novel by JT Leroy, who is actually Laura Albert.

HarperOne: Be a Revolution: How Everyday People Are Fighting Oppression and Changing the World--And How You Can, Too by Ijeoma Oluo


Notes: Amazon Downloads; Group Aims to Save Brown Store is in talks with three movie studios about setting up a service that would allow customers to download movies and TV shows and burn them onto DVDs, according to the New York Times. Strangely most reports called this a downloading first for Amazon, but for a long time the online retailer has sold texts for use via Adobe Reader and Microsoft Reader as well as audiobook downloads with partner


Private equity firm Permira has raised its bid for HMV, which owns Waterstone's, to 210p per share from 190p, the Daily Telegraph reported. HMV had rejected the earlier bid as too low. The Telegraph said that Tim Waterstone, founder of the eponymous bookstore chain, is still seeking a way to buy it back from HMV.


A group called Save the Bookstore has organized to fight a university committee recommendation last week that operations of the Brown Bookstore at Brown University, Providence, R.I., be taken over by a leasing company such as Follett or Barnes & Noble College. The committee is made up of a faculty, students and staff; the Brown administration is seeking further comment and will make the final decision. For an AP story via the Boston Globe about the committee decision, click here. To read Save the Bookstore's sophisticated arguments and presentation, click here.


The New York Daily News profiles six-year-old Brownstone Books, "the first new bookstore" in Brooklyn's Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood to open in 30 years. Owners Crystal and Walston Bobb-Semple also own a neighboring antique store and he sells real estate; together they founded the local merchants association.

The small store has a strong events program, with story times and open-mic poetry sessions. An adult and teen monthly book groups meet at the store. In collaboration with Poets & Writers, Brownstone Books also is hosting a 10-week poetry workshop with spoken-word artist Mahogany Browne.


Just in time for National Poetry Month, which starts April 1, Book Sense has chosen its 2006 Spring Top Ten Poetry Picks. To scan the list, click here.


Once again, a learning curve. The New York Times will soon have a new book publishing reporter, Motoko Rich, who has covered real estate and other topics for the Times and the Wall Street Journal, the New York Observer observed. Ed Wyatt is moving to Los Angeles and will watch a lot of TV very observantly.


The suit by two of the three authors of The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail against Random House, now being heard in London, has led to at least one victory of sorts for the plaintiffs: sales of their book have jumped 745% to more than 3,000 a week, according to Bookseller estimates as relayed in a London Times story.

But as the Times noted: "Any boost in sales could be wiped out by the cost of losing the case. The hundreds of hours of painstaking comparison of the similarities and differences between the books by lawyers on both sides may push the final legal bill upwards of £2 million, some legal experts estimate."


Although this week it nabbed former Fed chairman Alan Greenspan's memoirs for an estimated $8.5 million, Penguin continues to sign up more "unknown writers" in an effort to build "the right mix between bestselling authors and a flow of new talent," as a spokesperson commented to the Wall Street Journal.

Last year, according to today's Journal, Penguin published books by 150 unknown authors, up from 78 in 2004, up to 6% of the list from 3%. In recent years, some unknowns--including Sue Monk Kidd, author of The Secret Life of Bees, and Khaled Hosseini, author of The Kite Runner--have done very nicely indeed and encouraged the company on this course.

Economics are part of the problem. "The industry has reached a point where the level of advances for bestselling authors has parted company with the revenue that those authors generate," Penguin Group chairman and CEO John Makinson said.

The Journal noted, too, that Penguin is "trying to revive itself by releasing more expensive paperbacks with better-quality printing, cutting costs by sending invoices to shops by e-mail, selling books over the Internet and trying to reduce the number of books returned by retailers."

Harpervia: Behind You Is the Sea by Susan Muaddi Darraj

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Dana Buchman's Family's Journey

This morning on the Today Show: Leslie Morgan Steiner, author of Mommy Wars: Stay-at-Home and Career Moms Face Off on Their Choices, Their Lives, Their Families (Random House, $24.95, 1400064155).

This morning on Good Morning America: Emily Kaufman, author of The Travel Mom's Ultimate Book of Family Travel: Planning, Surviving, and Enjoying Your Vacation Together (Broadway Books, $14.95, 0767920635).


Also on Good Morning America today: Leslie Baumann, M.D., author of The Skin Type Solution: A Revolutionary Guide to Your Best Skin Ever (Bantam, $22, 0553804227).


Tomorrow on the Weekend Today Show: fashion designer Dana Buchman, author of A Special Education: One Family's Journey Through the Maze of Learning Disabilities (Perseus, $21.95, 0738210331). The book is also the subject of a two-page article in the current People.


On Sunday, 60 Minutes features Kevin Weeks, author of Brutal: The Untold Story of My Life Inside Whitey Bulger's South Boston Mob (Regan Books, $25.95, 0061122696).

University of California Press: The Accidental Ecosystem: People and Wildlife in American Cities by Peter S. Alagona

Deeper Understanding

Big Blue Marble: Diverse Store for Diverse Neighborhood

When the building next door to her home in the Mt. Airy section of Philadelphia, Pa., became available, Sheila Avelin (and her partner) bought it, renovated it "top to tail" and opened the Big Blue Marble Bookstore last November. The three-story townhouse has 1,200 square feet of book space and 300 square feet of café space.

Big Blue Marble features a community room that resembles a small living room, with couches and armchairs and comfortable seating for ten. "My business model was to have the store be a community center, a place to hang out even it you're not buying a book," Avelin said. "We have parent-baby groups, a 12-step group, a public school parent's group, a poetry class and a knitting circle. We're trying to be good neighbors."

Avelin also aims to be a "general bookstore, but tailored to the community." She said she strives to have her selection of books reflect the color of the neighborhood, which includes social workers, teachers, rabbis, stay-at-home and part-time working moms and "many local writers who want me to sell their books." (Avelin averages a visit a day from a self-published local author.)

Mt. Airy is nothing if not diverse. Even Oprah has apparently taken notice: the neighborhood is scheduled to be featured in an upcoming issue of O Magazine this spring.

Located near a rabbinical school and a theological seminary, the store has big Jewish, African-American and gay and lesbian sections. Born to Kvetch: Yiddish Language and Culture in All Its Moods by Michael Wex "is absolutely the top of our bestseller list," said Avelin. (Joan Didion's The Year of Magical Thinking is in second place.)

The store also does well with " 'smart fiction'--more New Yorker magazine type authors like Alice Munro and Bebe Smith." Sales of backlist books are also strong, with Tender at the Bone: Growing Up at the Table by Ruth Reichl ("a Jewish author") lately doing well.

The anchor of the Mt. Airy neighborhood is a food coop that has been in business for 30 years and has more than 3,000 household members, Avelin said. There is a yoga studio, and a new café, with a maternal wellness center, is moving in to town. "There's a lot of interest in health," Avelin noted. Mt. Airy is also a very wooded area, with a park, hiking trails and horses. (For the nature-lovers, the store has a migratory bird section.)

"Philly's population is about 72% Democrat, and our neighborhood is to the left of the city," commented Avelin. Sustainable development is a popular theme, and the store has a large ecology section, with many organic cookbooks and gardening books. "We carry a lot of books about simplifying your life. We're very home-oriented."

Other defining characteristics of Mt. Airy are a large commuter population and a lot of young families. "The neighborhood is having a baby boom right now," said Avelin, who herself recently became a mother. "I feel like I have twins: the baby, who is getting ready to turn one, and the store." As a result, the Big Blue Marble is "very focused on families" both in terms of books and accoutrements. For example, the store boasts a "good solid changing table, not one of those folding down ones," said the new mom.

About a third of sales are children's books; sales of both picture books and young adult titles are strong. Recent bestsellers include the Dragonology books, Diary of a Wombat by Jackie French, Little Ladybug (which includes a finger puppet) by Lenz Mulligan Rights, and Dog Train: A Wild Ride on the Rock-and-Roll Side, an audio CD by Sandra Boynton and Michael Ford.  

In addition to the twice-a-week parent-baby group, the store runs a series called Mother Talk, which has featured local writer Miriam Peskowitz, author of The Truth Behind the Mommy Wars: Who Decides What Makes a Good Mother?, and Andrea Buchanan, author of It's a Boy: Women Writers on Raising Sons and Literary Mama.

To prepare herself for the role of bookstore owner, Avelin served as an "apprentice," as she put it, in several bookstores over the years, including Politics and Prose in Washington, D.C., and two Madison, Wis., stores, Books for Murder and the Rainbow Bookstore, a small radical/anarchist store that operates as a collective. While there, she was involved with the store's Web site, hiring decisions, book sections and "lots of back end stuff." Avelin has also taken small business classes and attended booksellers' school, which she found extremely useful. Before opening the store, Avelin was a teacher. She still thinks of herself primarily as a teacher but "just didn't want to work in schools any longer."

A Borders in the next town influenced Avelin's decision to include a café in the store. "I wanted people to know they could have coffee here, too," she said. Even the coffee fits in with the multicultural, integrated neighborhood theme. Avelin orders from the Thanksgiving Coffee Company, which features "fair-trade certified, Ugandan coffee grown by Jewish, Muslim and Christian farmers who are part of a cooperative." The baked goods, not surprisingly, are all locally made.

The store's main competition is online, Avelin said. "The threat to us is people who buy from Amazon." To counter this, the store fills a lot of special orders, often rush orders with next day delivery from Baker & Taylor. "We really stay on top of the special order shelf."

Avelin's strategy seems to be paying off. "Business has been good," she said. "We had a really good Christmas season. Overall, it has been better than we expected faster than we expected. Turnout for events has been great. We're not breaking even yet, but coming closer."

Though Avelin is thrilled to be the new bookseller in town, she offers this word of advice: "Don't open a store and have a baby at the same time."

The Big Blue Marble Bookstore is located at 551 Carpenter Lane, Philadelphia, Pa. 19119. Its Web site is Heidkamp

The Bestsellers

The Book Sense/SIBA List

The following were the bestselling titles at Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance member stores during the week ended Sunday, March 5, as reported to Book Sense:

Hardcover Fiction

1. The Templar Legacy by Steve Berry (Ballantine, $24.95, 0345476158)
2. In the Company of the Courtesan by Sarah Dunant (Random House, $23.95, 1400063817)
3. The 5th Horseman by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro (Little, Brown, $27.95, 0316159778)
4. The Last Templar by Raymond Khoury (Dutton, $24.95, 0525949410)
5. Cell by Stephen King (Scribner, $26.95, 0743292332)
6. The Brief History of the Dead by Kevin Brockmeier (Pantheon, $22.95, 0375423699)
7. The Rebels of Ireland by Edward Rutherfurd (Doubleday, $28.95, 0385512899)
8. Turning Angel by Greg Iles (Scribner, $25.95, 0743234715)
9. The Old Wine Shades by Martha Grimes (Viking, $25.95, 0670034797)
10. The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown (Doubleday, $24.95, 0385504209)
11. Sea Change by Robert B. Parker (Putnam, $24.95, 0399152679)
12. Sour Puss by Rita Mae Brown (Bantam, $25, 055380362X)
13. The Life All Around Me by Ellen Foster by Kaye Gibbons (Harcourt, $23, 0151012040)
14. The March by E.L. Doctorow (Random House, $25.95, 0375506713)
15. The Two Minute Rule by Robert Crais (S&S, $24.95, 0743281616)

Hardcover Nonfiction

1. Marley & Me by John Grogan (Morrow, $21.95, 0060817089)
2. The World Is Flat by Thomas L. Friedman (FSG, $27.50, 0374292884)
3. The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion (Knopf, $23.95, 140004314X)
4. Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin (S&S, $35, 0684824906)
5. Being Dead Is No Excuse by Gayden Metcalfe and Charlotte Hays (Hyperion, $19.95, 1401359345)
6. You're Wearing That? by Deborah Tannen (Random House, $24.95, 1400062586)
7. The City of Falling Angels by John Berendt (Penguin, $25.95, 1594200580)
8. Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner (Morrow, $25.95, 006073132X)
9. Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert (Viking, $24.95, 0670034711)
10. Misquoting Jesus by Bart D. Ehrman (HarperSanFrancisco, $24.95, 0060738170)
11. Our Endangered Values by Jimmy Carter (S&S, $25, 0743284577)
12. Blink by Malcolm Gladwell (Little, Brown, $25.95, 0316172324)
13. Teacher Man by Frank McCourt (Scribner, $26, 0743243773)
14. To Hate Like This Is to Be Happy Forever by Will Blythe (HarperCollins, $24.95, 006074023X)
15. Sonoma Diet by Connie Guttersen et al. (Meredith, $24.95, 0696228319)

Trade Paperback Fiction

1. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini (Riverhead, $14, 1594480001)
2. Gilead by Marilynne Robinson (Picador, $14, 031242440X)
3. Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See (Random House, $13.95, 0812968069)
4. Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld (Random House, $13.95, 081297235X)
5. The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon (Penguin, $15, 0143034901)
6. My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult (Washington Square, $14, 0743454537)
7. Wicked by Gregory Maguire (Regan Books, $15, 0060987103)
8. The Known World by Edward P. Jones (Amistad, $13.95, 0060557559)
9. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (Scribner, $12.95, 0743273567)
10. Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden (Vintage, $14.95, 0307275167)
11. Brokeback Mountain by Annie Proulx (Scribner, $9.95, 0743271327)
12. The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory (Touchstone, $16, 0743227441)
13. Case Histories by Kate Atkinson (Back Bay, $13.95, 0316010707)
14. Honeymoon by James Patterson and Howard Roughan (Warner, $13.95, 0446696269)
15. The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd (Penguin, $14, 0142001740)

Trade Paperback Nonfiction

1. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote (Vintage, $14, 0679745580)
2. Night by Elie Weisel (FSG, $9, 0374500010)
3. *A Million Little Pieces by James Frey (Anchor, $14.95, 0307276902)
4. The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls (Scribner, $14, 074324754X)
5. The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson (Vintage, $14.95, 0375725601)
6. The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell (Back Bay, $14.95, 0316346624)
7. 365: No Repeats by Rachael Ray (Clarkson Potter, $19.95, 1400082544)
8. 1,000 Places to See Before You Die by Patricia Schultz (Workman, $18.95, 0761104844)
9. Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond (Norton, $16.95, 0393317552)
10. Why Do Men Have Nipples? by Mark Leyner and Billy Goldberg, M.D. (Three Rivers, $13.95, 1400082315)
11. The Great Influenza by John M. Barry (Penguin, $16, 0143036491)
12. The South Beach Diet by Arthur Agatston, M.D. (St. Martin's, $14.95, 031231521X)
13. Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi (Random House, $14.95, 081297106X)
14. What to Expect When You're Expecting by Heidi E. Murkoff et al. (Workman, $13.95, 0761121323)
15. Animals in Translation by Temple Grandin and Catherine Johnson (Harvest, $15, 0156031442)

Mass Market

1. Micah by Laurell Hamilton (Jove, $7.99, 0515140872)
2. The Broker by John Grisham (Dell, $7.99, 0440241588)
3. The Third Secret by Steve Berry (Ballantine, $7.99, 034547614X)
4. The Closers by Michael Connelly (Warner, $7.99, 0446616443)
5. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (Warner, $6.99, 0446310786)
6. The Amber Room by Steve Berry (Fawcett, $6.99, 0345460049)
7. Angels & Demons by Dan Brown (Pocket, $7.99, 0671027360)
8. With No One as Witness by Elizabeth A. George (HarperTorch, $7.99, 0060545615)
9. Whiteout by Ken Follett (Signet, $7.99, 0451215710)
10. Blood Memory by Greg Iles (Pocket, $9.95, 0743454154)

Children's (Fiction and Illustrated)

1. Fancy Nancy by Jane O'Connor, illustrated by Robin Preiss Glasser (HarperCollins, $15.99, 0060542098)
2. Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown, illustrated Clement Hurd (HarperCollins, $7.99, 0694003611)
3. The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo (Candlewick, $18.99, 0763625892)
4. The Pretty Committee Strikes Back by Lisi Harrison (Little, Brown, $9.99, 0316115002)
5. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (children's movie tie-in edition) by C.S. Lewis (HarperCollins, $7.99, 0060765461)
6. Pat the Bunny by Dorothy Kunhardt (Golden, $9.99, 0307120007)
7. A Family of Poems by Caroline Kennedy, illustrated by Jon J. Muth (Hyperion, $19.95, 0786851112)
8. Monday the Bullfrog by Matthew Van Fleet (S&S, $16.95, 1416912312)
9. Eragon by Christopher Paolini (Knopf, $9.95, 0375826696)
10. The Giver by Lois Lowry (Laurel Leaf, $6.50, 0440237688)
11. Tails by Matthew Van Fleet (Red Wagon, $13.95, 0152167730)
12. Inkheart by Cornelia Funke (Chicken House, $7.99, 0439709105)
13. Small Steps by Louis Sachar (Delacorte, $16.95, 0385733143)
14. Pirates Past Noon (Magic Tree House #4) by Mary Pope Osborne, illustrated by Sal Murdocca (Random House, $3.99, 0679824251)
15. Holes by Louis Sachar (Yearling, $6.50, 0440419468)

*ABA and Book Sense acknowledge the controversy surrounding the veracity of the contents of this book.

[Thanks to SIBA and Book Sense!]

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