Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, March 15, 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

Thrill for Manhunt Author

"I had no idea how it would do. I don't know what people like. I wrote the book for myself. So I am thrilled that people are responding."--James L. Swanson, author of the bestselling Manhunt: The 12-Day Chase for Lincoln's Killer (Morrow), in a profile in today's New York Times.

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


Leading Retail Indicators: Slips But No Slides

Bookstore sales in January were $1.964 billion, down 0.3% from January 2005, according to estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau. By contrast, total retail sales were $294 billion, up 9.5%.

Note: under Census Bureau definitions, bookstore sales are of new books and do not include "electronic home shopping, mail-order, or direct sale" or used book sales.


In related news, retail sales in February fell 1.3% from January, according to the Commerce Department. Although at first glance that figure appears substantial, when automobile and gasoline sales are excluded, sales fell just 0.3%. Moreover, sales were up 6.7% compared to February 2005.

Analysts found the slip from month to month easily explainable. Todd Slater of Lazard Capital Markets told the Wall Street Journal that January sales "benefited from warm weather, gift-card [redemptions] and consumer propensity to seek bargains. That pulled some demand out of February."

And David Resler with Nomura Securities commented: "The two months together show a pretty healty trend in retail activity, which seems to signal continued healthy growth in consumer spending."

Harpervia: Behind You Is the Sea by Susan Muaddi Darraj

Obliquity to Appear Directly

On March 23, a week from this Thursday, an unusual, somewhat magical pub party takes place at Eagle Harbor Book Co., on Bainbridge Island, Wash. Obliquity: Speculative Fiction from the Pacific Northwest (Tuesday Night Publishing, $17.95, 097769190X) goes on sale that day. It's a title that grew out of Eagle Harbor's Science-Fiction Writing Co-operative, which has met at the store regularly since 1999.

Oliquity contains 14 stories of science fiction, fantasy and magical realism by writers ranging in age from their teens to 79, whose works were culled from 22 submissions. Eight of the contributors are members of the Co-Op, which has been led by gardening writer Ann Lovejoy and Paul Hanson, Eagle Harbor Book Co.'s manager. (Hanson also has a story in the book.)

Obliquity is the second book put out by the Co-op. The first, Off the Ecliptic, appeared in 2004, but wasn't as widely distributed as Obliquity, which is the first title coming out from a new publishing company, Tuesday Night Publishing, also formed by the Co-op.

"We'll sell it in the store and any place else, including our Web site," Hanson told Shelf Awareness.

He emphasized that the work has been a true cooperative effort. "We produced the whole thing in the group," he said. "Between us, we had all the skills we needed, including editing, proofreading, layout and graphic design." Author Kathleen Alcalá acted as a consultant. Others who were instrumental were Brian Herbert, Tamara Kaye Sellman and Douglas Heinlein.

The Co-op was helped by a grant from the City of Bainbridge Island Arts and Humanities Fund, administered by the Bainbridge Island Arts and Humanities Council. Hanson said that the group's "ultimate goal is not to ask for more money" to keep the magical publishing enterprise going.

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

BISAC and BISG: A Quick Scan

The following are notes from the meeting last week of BISAC, the Book Industry Study Group's standards group.

BISG's Making Information Pay: Beyond the Bestsellers seminar, to be held April 27 in New York City, is almost sold out. (Participants at last year's said it paid to attend.) The keynote speaker is Chris Anderson, editor-in-chief of Wired, who will talk about the ideas expressed in his widely circulated article for Wired, "The Long Tail." Panelists who will follow the "tail" include Kirby Best of Lightning Source, Ian Bradie of Cambridge University Press, Mark Suchomel of Independent Publishers Group, Carol Fitzgerald of the Book Report Network and Boris Wertz of For more information, click here. (Thanks to Angela Bole for this other BISG news.)


For the first time, this year's edition of Book Industry Trends, BISG's annual publication that includes sales forecasts and reports of sales, will incorporate data from Under the Radar, the organization's study of underreported book segments and channels.


A BISG subcommittee has hired a search firm to look for a new executive director for the organization, following the departure in late January of Jeff Abraham to Random House. The board may be able to vote on a replacement in June.


BISAC's Machine Readable Coding committee is reactivating. Among issues it will consider, according to chair Tom Clarkson of B&N: which bar code identifier goes on which product, a pesky problem that crops up in connection with such things as greeting cards, calendars and maps.


In typically succinct, forceful style, George Wright, whose company, Product Identification & Processing Systems, is a major bar coding company and coding film manufacturer, stressed that in an effort to keep bar codes on book covers and jackets as small as possible for art design reasons, book publishers and manufacturers are causing major problems for retailers. While compression of bar codes below 80% of standards remains a problem, a larger problem is truncation of bar codes, which makes it difficult for omnidirectional scanners--built-in scanners--to read the information. (Hand-held scanners aren't as severely affected.) A 50% truncation will result in a 75% drop in effectiveness of an omnidirectional scanner, Wright said.

In plain English, this means that chopped-off bar codes will result in cashiers having to pass books over scanners two or three or more times, which defeats one of the purposes of having bar codes.


And another reminder: ISBN-13 becomes the law of the Bookland on January 1. For more information on the conversion, click here.

Media and Movies

Movie Tie-in: Ask the Dust

Ask the Dust, the Paramount Classics film directed by Robert Towne and starring Colin Farrell and Salma Hayek, goes into wide release this Friday. It had opened in New York and Los Angeles last week.

The movie is based on John Fante's novel Ask the Dust, an autobiographical account of a struggling young writer in Los Angeles in the late 1930s, first published in 1939 and just reissued (Harper Perennial Modern Classics, $12.95, 0061129798). This edition has a 16-page "P.S." section which contains a biography of Fante, letters from him about the creation of and reception to Ask the Dust, poems about Fante by Charles Bukowski and recommendations for further reading and viewing.

Because of the movie, Fante has received some extra notice lately, including essays in the New York Times by Chip McGrath, the Los Angeles Times by David Ulin and on Salon by Allen Barra. In addition, last Thursday director Towne spoke on the Charlie Rose Show about Fante's works.

Media Heat: Living a Dog's Life; Living Large

This morning on the Today Show, Cindy Adams shows off her new Living a Dog's Life, Jazzy, Juicy, and Me (St. Martin's, $19.95, 0312323778).

Also on Good Morning America, Michael S. Berman talks about his big new book, Living Large: A Big Man's Ideas on Weight, Success, and Acceptance (Rodale, $24.95, 159486277X).


Today World Talk Radio's Antoinette Kuritz talks with Millie Brown, owner of Brown & Brown Publishing; Robin Bartlett, publisher, author and PMA Publishing University Organizer; and Gregg Near, a Borders Books & Music district marketing manager.


Today on WAMU's Diane Rehm Show: Hilma Wolitzer, author of The Doctor's Daughter (Ballantine, $24.95, 034548584X).


Today NBC's Dateline talks fault lines with Simon Winchester, author of A Crack in the Edge of the World (Harper, $27.95, 0060571993).


Tonight on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno: Carl Reiner on his new novel, NNNNN (S&S, $21, 0743286693).

Weird U.S. on a PDA Near U?

Mark Sceurman and Mark Moran, founders of Weird N.J. magazine, authors of the bestselling Weird U.S. series of books published by Barnes & Noble Publishing and hosts of the weekly History Channel show called Weird U.S., have sold exclusive rights for additional TV episodes and new media content based on upcoming titles in the series to KPI, a mobile media and network TV provider.

"The Weird U.S. book series is a great fit for new media," Vincent Kralyevich, president and creative director of KPI's TV, broadband and mobile platforms, said in a statement. "The Weird books are a proven brand--young people are its biggest fans, the stories are 'bite-size,' and the content has a viral 'hey-you-gotta-see-this' potential." He added that KPI could offer "weird journeys" to non-traditional outlets like map and travel Web sites.

During the rest of the year, B&N will release Weird U.S. books for Georgia, Minnesota, Michigan and Maryland. Earlier books include the original Weird N.J. as well as Weird New England, Weird Florida, Weird Illinois, Weird Wisconsin, Weird Ohio, Weird New York, Weird California, Weird Pennsylvania, Weird Kansas and Weird Texas.  

Among the odd, offbeat things and places the Weird U.S. books investigate are cannibal albino villages, a town called Midgetville, Florida's skunk ape, Hitler's toilet seat and the frog people of Connecticut.

Co-author Moran commented that KPI convinced the pair that "the emerging broadband market might be a fit for people who want the content on-demand." Sceurman added that their signings attract "a core audience of teenagers and young adults" that TV sometimes has problems reaching.

Books & Authors

Awards: The Bancroft; Commonwealth Writers'

The Bancroft Prize for history goes to:

  • The Rise of American Democracy: Jefferson to Lincoln by Sean Wilentz (Norton, $35, 0393058204)
  • Dwelling Place: A Plantation Epic by Erskine Clarke (Yale University Press, $35, 0300108672)
  • The Global Cold War: Third World Interventions and the Making of Our Times by Odd Arne Westad (Cambridge University Press, $35, 0521853648)

Each winner receives $10,000.


Australian author Kate Grenville has won the £10,000 Commonwealth Writers' Prize for her novel The Secret River, according to the BBC. The award recognizes the best fiction written in the Commonwealth in the English language. Five years ago, Grenville won the Orange Prize for Fiction for The Idea of Perfection.

Other Commonwealth Writers' Prize winners:

  • For first book: Suspended Sentences: Fictions of Atonement by Mark McWatt
  • For Eurasia: On Beauty by Zadie Smith
  • For the Caribbean and Canadian region: Alligator by Lisa Moore
  • For Africa: The Sun by Night by Benjamin Kwakye

Attainment: New Books Next Week, Vol. 2

The following new titles appear next Tuesday, March 21:

American Theocracy: The Peril and Politics of Radical Religion, Oil, and Borrowed Money in the 21st Century by Kevin Phillips (Viking, $26.95, 067003486X. A lofty critique of the current state of the U.S. from the former Republican strategist and author of The Emerging Republican Majority whose more recent work includes American Dynasty and Wealth and Democracy.


Prior Bad Acts by Tami Hoag (Bantam, $26, 0553801988). Another chilling thriller from the bestselling author.


Rule #1: The Simple Strategy for Getting Rich--In Only 15 Minutes a Week! by Phil Town (Crown, $25, 0307336131). Get rich managing one's own money--and learning how to do so via old-fashioned homework.

The Bestsellers

February Mysteries: The IMBA Bestsellers

The following are the February bestsellers at Independent Mystery Booksellers Association member stores:


1. Sea Change by Robert B. Parker
2. The Old Wine Shades by Martha Grimes
3. Aunt Dimity and the Deep Blue Sea by Nancy Atherton
4. The Two Minute Rule by Robert Crais
5. Prayers for the Assassin by Robert Ferrigno
6. Out of Order by Charles Benoit
6. Death Dance by Linda Fairstein
8. Holmes on the Range by Steve Hockensmith
9. The Mark of the Lion by Suzanne Arruda
10. An Unacceptable Death by Barbara Seranella


1. Theft on Thursday by Ann Purser
2. Where There's a Will by Aaron Elkins
3. The Closers by Michael Connelly
3. Hard Truth by Nevada Barr
5. You May Now Kill the Bride by Deborah Donnelly
6. Entombed by Linda Fairstein
7. Death in the Garden by Elizabeth Ironside
8. Aunt Dimity and the Next of Kin by Nancy Atherton
8. Deep Blue Alibi by Paul Levine
10. Dead Men Don't Lye by Tim Myers

[Thanks to IMBA!]

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