Shelf Awareness for Monday, May 14, 2012

Atlantic Monthly Press: Those Opulent Days: A Mystery by Jacquie Pham

Feiwel & Friends: The Flicker by HE Edgmon

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers: The Pumpkin Princess and the Forever Night by Steven Banbury

St. Martin's Griffin: Murdle: The School of Mystery: 50 Seriously Sinister Logic Puzzles by GT Karber

Carolrhoda Lab (R): Here Goes Nothing by Emma K Ohland

Allida: Safiyyah's War by Hiba Noor Khan

Ace Books: Servant of Earth (The Shards of Magic) by Sarah Hawley

Quotation of the Day


Page One Aims to Turn Page Soon

Page One, Albuquerque, N.M., is "in the final stages" of emerging from bankruptcy, and owner Steve Stout hopes to receive "a final decree" within a month, the Albuquerque Journal wrote.

Page One declared bankruptcy early last year (Shelf Awareness, February 22, 2011), listing debts of $1.37 million and assets of $800,000.

Under the plan approved by the court, the Journal said, Page One is making quarterly payments to publishers over the next five years and to Bank of the West, the company's second-largest creditor next to Stout, on a monthly basis over 15 years.

Stout said that the bankruptcy process has "given the bookstore new life. The community rose to the occasion and gave us their support in more than words. Folks who hadn't been to the store in years came by in droves to let us know they felt we were important enough in the community to support."

Over the past five years, the store has reduced staff to 18 from 41 and moved to a 55%/45% ratio of new to used book sales from 70%/30%. Sales of new books are 60% of business, compared to 75% five years ago. Page One has $1 million in inventory and more than 100,000 titles. The store has been helped by the closure last summer of a nearby Borders and a Hastings Entertainment location.

Farrar, Straus and Giroux: Intermezzo by Sally Rooney

'Man Who Saved Harvard Book Store'

In a story titled "The Man Who Took on Amazon and Saved a Bookstore," Forbes focuses on Jeff Mayersohn, who with his wife, Linda Seamonson, bought Harvard Book Store, Cambridge, Mass., in 2008. In the last year, the store has had "double digit sales growth month by month." Among the reasons for the sales gains: the introduction of the Espresso Book Machine; same-day deliveries of orders via bicycle in Cambridge and neighboring communities; excellent customer service; more than 300 events a year; and a frequent buyer program.

"Ultimately the bookstore exists to serve a community, and Jeff devised a strategy to safeguard that mission," Forbes wrote. "While people will always take the path of least resistance to buy a book, they still value the experience of browsing and spending time in a place that ignites their imagination. That's the position that Harvard Book Store has defended."

RiverRun Launches Piscataqua Press

In a similar vein, RiverRun Bookstore, Portsmouth, N.H., has launched Piscataqua Press, which the Union Leader called "a safe, reliable local option in the growing world of digital publishing," one that fulfills RiverRun co-owner Tom Holbrook's dream of printing books.

RiverRun is not using an in-house machine like the Espresso but using POD to offer a publishing package for $1,500 that includes "one-on-one customer service"; ISBN, bar codes, Library of Congress and copyright registration; an e-book version; distribution; an event at RiverRun; 10 copies of the book; and regular royalties.

Piscataqua will not edit material but requires it to be professionally edited. "We want to help people get their books published," Holbrooke told the paper. "We are not trying to be the arbiters of taste. But we don't want books that are badly typed up and riddled with errors because it reflects badly on us."

Grolier Poetry Book Shop: 'Readers of the Lost Arc' in Action

The Grolier Poetry Book Shop, Cambridge, Mass., is celebrating its 85th anniversary this year, but "needs a little help from its friends," the Boston Globe reported. "Sales are not very robust," said owner Ifeanyi Menkiti.

Menkiti, who purchased the business in 2006 to save it from closure, "is still working to ensure that the bookshop, which he views as more of an educational and cultural institution than an engine of commerce, endures," the Globe wrote.

A pair of fundraisers are scheduled this month to help the cause. On Wednesday at Oberon on Harvard Square, Jim Vrabel will perform a dramatization of John Berryman’s The Dream Songs; and on May 20 in Somerville, "Laughter at the Grolier" will feature "a light-hearted reading" during which "Menkiti and other writers of funny verse will join a crew of poets who call themselves 'Readers of the Lost Arc,' " the Globe noted.  


Image of the Day: An Inspired Book Club

A mother-daughter book club at Westwinds Bookshop, Duxbury, Mass., read Touch Blue by Cynthia Lord (Scholastic), which has a major character who is a foster child. The daughters (shown here) were so moved that they made donations to a local foster agency. Westwinds manager Brooke McDonough said the effort was an example of "great kids with great books making things happen. We love to see how books can inspire."


Cash Mob of the Day: Mackerel Sky Books & More

Carol Goldstein opened Mackerel Sky Books & More, Honeoye, N.Y., two years ago and "has always been willing to help anyone find the book they need," reported, adding that to "repay the favor, a group of teachers and staff at Honeoye Elementary School decided to pay Goldstein a surprise visit--with cash (and credit and debit cards) in hand."

"In a lot of small towns, it's hard to get a lot of business--especially in the economy we've been going through," said Judi Carter Martin, who helped organize the cash mob.

"This is incredible to me that I'm suddenly, amazingly busy with a ton of people," Goldstein said. "When I first opened, I would dream about having this many people. It's been few and far between for days like that. This is great."

Warwick's Bookstore: Continuing a Family Legacy

The Daily Transcript profiled Warwick's bookstore, La Jolla, Calif., where owner Nancy Warwick continues a legacy begun in 1886 when William T. Warwick started his career as a bookseller before buying his own store in Mankato, Minn., 10 years later. In 1916, he relocated the store to Waterloo, Iowa, in 1916; then "bought Redding’s bookstore in La Jolla in 1937 and later married Genevieve Redding, who founded Redding’s with her husband E.L. in 1902."

"I took over a well-loved and established store," said W.T.'s great-granddaughter Nancy Warwick, who has been running Warwick's since 1997. "Over the years, our books department has grown, and our customer group has expanded with people coming regularly from all over San Diego County.... You don't have to have a high income to shop here, but we do attract people who appreciate the unique items we sell."

She recalled that when she was growing up, "there was a time that office supplies carried the store, times that the book department carried the store, and periods where things were very well-balanced. With e-readers, it's very challenging for the book department."

Head book buyer Adrian Newell said Warwick's offers "an experience you can't find online. We have an excellent staff, and it's a busy store. People come in and see their friends and neighbors. There's a vibe here that people respond to."

Conference: What Makes a Children's Book Great?

What Makes a Children's Book Great?, a half-day conference on children's publishing, hosted by Publishing Perspectives and sponsored by Scholastic and School Library Journal, will be held in New York City on Thursday, May 31. Speakers include agents, authors, booksellers, publishers and digital experts who will offer insight into the present and future of this fast-evolving area of publishing.

For program details and registration information, visit


Media and Movies

Movie: Bonsai

Bonsái, based on the novel by Alejandro Zambra, tells the story of two young lovers in Chile. The film had a limited release last Friday, May 11. A movie tie-in version, translated by Carolina De Robertis, is available from Melville House ($13, 9781612191683).

Media Heat: Bill Maher on His New New Rules

This morning on the Today Show: Henry A. Crumpton, author of The Art of Intelligence: Lessons from a Life in the CIA's Clandestine Service (Penguin, $27.95, 9781594203343).

Also on the Today Show: Ted Williams, author of A Golden Voice: How Faith, Hard Work, and Humility Brought Me from the Streets to Salvation (Gotham, $26, 9781592407149). He will also appear on CNN's Piers Morgan Tonight, MSNBC's Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell and the Tom Joyner Morning Show.


Today on NPR's Talk of the Nation: Deborah Davis, author of Guest of Honor: Booker T. Washington, Theodore Roosevelt, and the White House Dinner That Shocked a Nation (Atria, $26, 9781439169810).


Today on the Bill Cunningham Show: Laurie Puhn, author of Fight Less, Love More: 5-Minute Conversations to Change Your Relationship without Blowing Up or Giving In (Rodale, $24.99, 9781605295985).


Today on the Tavis Smiley Show: Will Allen, author of The Good Food Revolution: Growing Healthy Food, People, and Communities (Gotham, $26, 9781592407101).


Tonight on Nightline: Billy Bob Thornton, author of The Billy Bob Tapes: A Cave Full of Ghosts (Morrow, $26.99, 9780062101778). He will also be on Good Morning America tomorrow morning.


Tonight on a repeat of the Daily Show: Peter Bergen, author of Manhunt: The Ten-Year Search for Bin Laden--from 9/11 to Abbottabad (Crown, $26, 9780307955579).


Tomorrow morning on Fox & Friends: Tia Mowry, author of Oh, Baby!: Pregnancy Tales and Advice from One Hot Mama to Another (Avery, $26, 9781583334829). She will also appear on the Wendy Williams Show.


Tomorrow on CNN's Amanpour: Owen West, author of The Snake Eaters: An Unlikely Band of Brothers and the Battle for the Soul of Iraq (Free Press, $26, 9781451655933).


Tomorrow on the Martha Stewart Radio Show: Will Allen, author of The Good Food Revolution: Growing Healthy Food, People, and Communities (Gotham, $26, 9781592407101).


Tomorrow night on a repeat of the Colbert Report: Andy Cohen, author of Most Talkative: Stories from the Front Lines of Pop Culture (Holt, $25, 9780805095838).


Tomorrow night on Conan: Bill Maher, author of The New New Rules: A Funny Look at How Everybody but Me Has Their Head Up Their Ass (Plume, $16, 9780452298293).

Books & Authors

Awards: Longfellow Books's 'Pulitzer' Winner

The winner of the first "Pinch" Pulitzer Award for Fiction contest, held by Longfellow Books, Portland, Maine, and voted on by customers, is The Pale King by David Foster Wallace. The title is available at a 25% discount for the next two weeks. Runners up were The Sweet Relief of Missing Children by Sarah Braunstein, Train Dreams by Denis Johnson and State of Wonder by Ann Patchett.

The award was founded, co-owner Chris Bowe said, "in the void created by the irresponsible actions of the prize committee in refusing to award the prize for fiction in 2011.... And the results show quite clearly that our customers are more erudite than the members of a committee too busy to give the astonishing range of choices last year the attention they deserve."

Bowe added, "We're hoping this is the last year we find it necessary to step in and pinch-hit for the committee."

Book Review

Review: The Lower River

The Lower River by Paul Theroux (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $25 hardcover, 9780547746500, May 22, 2012)

When Paul Theroux (The Mosquito Coast ) was a Peace Corps volunteer in Malawi in the 1960s, he met a friendly couple who invited him to visit their remote village. He went, only to realize that they wouldn't let him leave. Finally, a stranger happened by and helped him escape. The Lower River is a fictional variation on this premise.

Ellis Hock, a correct, circumspect haberdasher, is given a smartphone for his 62nd birthday. He likes his old phone, so his wife registers the new one in his name but keeps it herself. Once all his e-mails are downloaded, she finds that he has several from women--some of them affectionate, all revealing a side of his life unknown to her. They are quite innocent, or are they? Do they constitute infidelity? Deena thinks so. Things start to unravel; after fighting and counseling, they divorce.

Ellis gives Deena the house, settles a sum of money on his graceless, ungrateful daughter and moves to a condo. He then thinks back on his days as a Peace Corps volunteer in Malawi, his Eden. He served his two years and loved it so much he re-upped for two more. Had his father not fallen ill and asked him to come home and run the store, he might never have left. He did worthwhile things while he was there: built a school, taught in it, started a clinic--and made a difference in the lives of the villagers.

He is remembered as the mzungu --White Man--who does not fear snakes. In fact, he has an affinity for them, grabbing the head and letting a black mamba or a puff adder or even a python twirl around his arm. Theroux's rendering of the feel and stench of snakes is enough to give most readers the whips and jingles. His powers of description bring Africa--its light and dark, sounds and silences, vistas and hidden spots--alive on the page.

Of course, Ellis decides to recapture his halcyon days. When he finally finds the village, all is changed. He arrives with no phone and a bag of money, illusions and memories intact. After a week or so, he decides it's time to go home. At first, heat and inertia keep him there; soon, he realizes he is a prisoner. His attempts to escape are thwarted, malaria sets in, everyone lies, the money is gone--and that's just the beginning.

Theroux has created his own heart of darkness, a sad and bitter tale of innocence lost, a culture lost and nothing gained. --Valerie Ryan 

Shelf Talker: A staid American menswear store owner returns to Malawi, where he served in the Peace Corps four decades earlier, to find that all is lost.

Powered by: Xtenit