Shelf Awareness for Friday, August 10, 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


Forbes's Highest-Paid Authors List: Women Gaining Ground

Although men still occupy four of the top five spots on Forbes magazine's "World's Top-Earning Authors" list, this year it has been women "who've been making the boldest moves." Suzanne Collins, E.L. James and J.K. Rowling all edged up the charts. Thanks to the success of HBO's Game of Thrones, George R.R. Martin didn't do so badly, either. The top-earning authors were:

  1. James Patterson ($94 million)
  2. Stephen King ($39 million)
  3. Janet Evanovich ($33 million)
  4. John Grisham ($26 million)
  5. Jeff Kinney ($25 million)
  6. Bill O'Reilly ($24 million)
  7. Nora Roberts ($23 million)
  8. Danielle Steel ($23 million)
  9. Suzanne Collins ($20 million)
  10. Dean Koontz ($19 million)
  11. J.K. Rowling ($17 million)
  12. George R.R. Martin ($15 million)
  13. Stephenie Meyer ($14 million)
  14. Ken Follett ($14 million)
  15. Rick Riordan ($13 million)

PM Press: P Is for Palestine: A Palestine Alphabet Book by Golbarg Bashi, Illustrated by Golrokh Nafisi

Booksellers Find Success with 'Find Waldo Local'

Indie booksellers "are still buzzing about the overwhelming response from their communities" to last month's "Find Waldo Local" campaign, the promotion launched by Candlewick Press to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the children's series and to encourage shopping locally, Bookselling This Week reported.

"Over the past week, I've received dozens of over-the-moon e-mails from booksellers singing the praises of Find Waldo Local," said Elise Supovitz, Candlewick's director of field sales. "Virtually every bookseller has asked the same question: 'Can we do it again next year?' The answer is a resounding 'Yes!' Candlewick will definitely roll out a similar event in 2013 with the goal of expanding upon the amazing reach this year of 250 cities and more than 5,000 participating indie businesses."

"In terms of the effect it had on other businesses, we were blown away!" said Janet Geddis, owner of Avid Bookshop, Athens, Ga. "So many participating businesses said they had higher-than-usual summer traffic as a result of the scavenger hunt, and a good portion of the hunters said they had never been in many of the businesses before the 'Where's Waldo?' search."

Becky Milner, owner of Vintage Books, Vancouver, Wash., agreed: "Twenty-one local businesses participated in Where's Waldo in Vancouver, and we were sprawled across the city--but that didn't stop the Waldo seekers. The enthusiasm was so much more than we hoped for, both from families and merchants, several of whom have asked if we can do it again next year."

At Hooray for Books! in Alexandria, Va., co-owner Ellen Klein noted: "The folks who searched for Waldo were happy and excited. It was just as much fun for residents as for tourists, and many said they bought something at nearly every place they went. Our in-store sales were up more than 27% from last July."

Village Books, Bellingham, Wash., "saw an increase in traffic and sales too," said events coordinator Christina Claasen. "Our store is three levels and it was the biggest challenge to find Waldo in our store, but often the most rewarding." She added that it also increased the visibility of other local retailers: "One customer said, 'I didn't realize how much you could shop for in Fairhaven!' "

Farrar, Straus and Giroux: Intermezzo by Sally Rooney

E-Book Market 2012: The Infographic

Offering a digitally focused feast for the eyes, an "E-book Market 2012" infographic was featured by the Digital Reader, comparing "the known details about the various English language e-book markets (U.K., Canada, U.S. & Australia). It also covers the relative sizes of the e-reader, tablet and smartphone ownership in the four countries."

Among the analysts' conclusions:

  • "There are as many opportunities as challenges for traditional publishers, and they will need to continue to clearly annunciate their value proposition as the publishing industry evolves."
  • "Authors should not think e-book or print book, but consider both as complementing each other. In the end, good writing is what is important, not how that writing is consumed."


Manila Bookstore Chain Aiding Flood Relief Efforts

Philippines bookstore chain Fully Booked, which has 11 stores around Metro Manila, is aiding the relief effort for victims of the recent mass flooding in the city. On its blog, the company wrote: "Our hearts go out to our countrymen affected by the rains and flooding. There is much we can do to help bring emergency relief where it's needed."

Fully Booked Bonifacio High Street is a drop-off point for donations to Angel Brigade, which repacks the goods and delivers them straight to evacuation centers in need.

'Hybrid' Assouline Lounge to Open in Seoul

Assouline, which publishes illustrated books and luxury editions as well as a gift line and has a dozen stores and kiosks in Europe and the Americas, will open a 3,800-square-foot hybrid café, bookstore and art gallery space in South Korea's capital city next Monday. reported that the first Assouline Lounge "aspires to become a cultural hotspot in one of the most expensive areas of Seoul. The 3,800-square-foot locale is located in front of Dosan Park in Cheongdam-dong in between the Hermès and Ralph Lauren flagship stores."

"I wanted to open in Asia, and didn't know if we should open first in China and Hong Kong," said Prosper Assouline, the company's founder and CEO. "But Cindy Hahn, our partner for this venture, convinced us that Seoul was the right location for us to test our foray into Asia.... This is a new proposition in Korea--a luxury brand on culture. Every book is a movie, and contains dreams, and this is a space for that culture."

Kyungmin Lee, creative director of the Vidi Vici cosmetic line, observed that it was "about time Seoul got this type of beautiful bookstore. I think Assouline will contribute to the rediscovery of the magic of books in Korea."


Image of the Day: Fly Fishing in Montana

The Country Bookshelf in Bozeman, Mont., recently hosted a reading and signing for Astream: American Writers on Fly Fishing (Skyhorse Publishing). Reading excerpts from the book were (from left to right) Anna Collins-Proper, widow of the late Datus Proper, who has an essay in the book; contributors Paul Schullery and Kate Fox; Meadow the dog; essayist Robert DeMott, the book's editor; contributors Walter Bennett and Chris Dombrowski. [Point of clarification: the dog did not read.]


New York City Bestsellers: It's Complicated

Have you read the latest bestseller? That can be a complicated question. In "the Babel that is New York City, where nearly 200 languages are spoken and read within the public school system and nearly 40% of the population was born abroad, literary tastes among immigrant cultures turn out to be as different as their cuisines," the New York Times reported.

Popular among immigrant readers are books banned by their original country's authoritarian regime, classics that are comforting reminders of their roots and translations of American staples like The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Sometimes the mass publicity accompanying bestsellers may not translate into another language along with the books.

"There are very different cultural tastes," said Jason Baumann, coordinator of world languages for the New York Public Library.  

Harvard Book Store's Megan Sullivan Rocks!

The latest in Algonquin's Booksellers Rock! series focuses on Megan Sullivan, head buyer at the Harvard Book Store, Cambridge, Mass. Our favorite answers:

Most entertaining author(s) we've hosted:
Hands down, it's David Sedaris. The first time we hosted him, he brought an actual live monkey. It was a trained helper animal, and it stole the show: While he read it would pick up his notes and shuffle them, keeping them organized and in a neat pile. Then it would open this little Tupperware container full of Cheerios, eat one or two, then close the container back up. All the while Sedaris was smoking--in a no-smoking store surrounded by flammable books, reading a story about dildos. On his most recent visit, he was collecting dirty jokes which he invited customers to share. I... won't repeat them, but they were fantastic.

What makes our neighborhood and customers awesome:
Being part of a community for 80+ years means that you become an institution. People meet here, get married, and bring their children here. I promise you won't find this at any other store: Lucy the Wonder-pup, our dog who predicts Booker Prize winners. She wasn't right about this last one, but maybe next time....

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Craig Brown on NPR's Weekend Edition

This morning on Imus in the Morning: Joanna Brooks, author of The Book of Mormon Girl: A Memoir of an American Faith (Free Press, $14, 9781451699685).


Tomorrow on NPR's Weekend Edition: Craig Brown, author of Hello Goodbye Hello: A Circle of 101 Remarkable Meetings (Simon & Schuster, $26.95, 9781451683608).


Movie Visuals: Lincoln; Cloud Atlas; Great Expectations

Daniel Day-Lewis is Honest Abe in the first official image released from Steven Spielberg's Lincoln, a film adaptation of Doris Kearns Goodwin's book Team of Rivals, with a script by Tony Kushner. Indiewire reported that the film, which is due in November, "focuses on Lincoln in the last four months of his life, as he aims to abolish slavery through the constitution, with his family (Sally Field, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Gulliver McGrath), Secretary of State William Seward (David Strathairn) and rival Thaddeus Stevens (Tommy Lee Jones) all set to play major parts in the film, while the cast also includes Jackie Earle Haley, Jared Harris, Lee Pace, James Spader, John Hawkes, Bruce McGill, Adam Driver, Walton Goggins, Michael Stuhlbarg, Tim Blake Nelson, David Oyelowo and Hal Holbrook."


The official website for Cloud Atlas, the film adaptation of David Mitchell's novel, unveiled "a sort-of-timeline featuring the sprawling cast of characters," Indiewire reported, calling it "an interesting way of getting us acquainted with the rather large cast who play multiple characters."


New images of Ralph Fiennes and Helena Bonham Carter in Great Expectations have been released. Indiewire noted that the latest adaptation of the Dickens classic, directed by Mike Newell, features "a pretty solid cast," with Fiennes "(who, it should be noted, spent part of the year directing and playing the author himself in The Invisible Woman)," Jeremy Irvine and Holliday Grainger.

Books & Authors

Awards: Women's National Book Association

Ann Patchett, award-winning author and co-owner of Parnassus Books, Nashville, Tenn., has been named this year's recipient of the Women's National Book Association WNBA Award, which is presented to "to a living American woman who derives part or all of her income from books or the allied arts and has done meritorious work in the world of books beyond the duties or responsibilities of her profession or occupation."

Book Brahmin: Sarah J. Maas

Sarah J. Maas makes her debut with the YA fantasy Throne of Glass, published this week by Bloomsbury. It's the thrilling story of 17-year-old Celaena, an assassin granted amnesty from hard labor in the salt mines by the prince, on the condition that she compete with 23 other criminals for her freedom--or die trying. Maas, 26, was born and raised in Manhattan, and now lives in California.

On your nightstand now:

The Crown of Embers by Rae Carson (sequel to The Girl of Fire and Thorns). I finished it a few weeks ago and it completely blew me away. I adored every page of it. I've also got my signed copy of Froi of the Exiles by Melina Marchetta, because I love that book so much that I just like seeing it there day and night (which sounds fairly creepy now that I'm writing it down).

Favorite book when you were a child:

The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch. It's a marvelous picture book about a princess who goes from being spoiled and selfish to empowered and independent (and manages to defeat a dragon and dump her obnoxious fiancé in between). It's probably the reason I became so passionate about strong heroines--and so interested in writing about them.

Your top five authors:

Eeek! Just five? Off the top of my head, I'd say Melina Marchetta, Patricia A. McKillip, Anne Bishop, Sharon Shinn and Megan Whalen Turner (and Lloyd Alexander, if I can squeeze him in there).

Book you've faked reading:

There are actually way more than I should admit, but I think the first book I truly faked reading (for class) was Animal Farm, wayyy back in seventh grade. And once I realized how to read just enough to survive a test/essay, it started me down a long, twisted road that would continue until I graduated from college. ;)

Book you're an evangelist for:

Finnikin of the Rock (and Froi of the Exiles) by Melina Marchetta. Her Lumatere Chronicles series is astoundingly brilliant and heartbreaking. I recently had the honor of meeting Melina (we were both on panels at Comic-Con), and I turned into a blubbering mess while thanking her for all that she was doing to rejuvenate and revolutionize YA fantasy.

Book you've bought for the cover:

Alphabet of Thorn by Patricia A. McKillip. The summary sounded intriguing, but the drop-dead gorgeous cover solidified the purchase (K.Y. Craft is an incredible artist). Of course, the content of the book matched the exterior, and Alphabet turned into my gateway drug for the books of Patricia McKillip (I now own all of them, even the out-of-print ones).

Book that changed your life:

Hmmm. There were so many books throughout my life that changed me. Honestly, though, I'd have to say Harry Potter. Not because of the books themselves (which are some of my favorites), but because the fandom was what got me started on later led to me joining its sister site for original fiction, (where I posted the very, very early draft of Throne of Glass).

Favorite line from a book:

Oh, I have a ton of lines that I adore, but there's a quote from Lloyd Alexander's Taran Wanderer (my favorite book in his Chronicles of Prydain series) that I've had taped above my desk for several years now. Taran Wanderer was a book that really, really impacted me when I first read it (I swear, I learned most of my life lessons from that book), and this quote was one that actually kept me motivated during my journey to publication:

"Life's a forge!" cried the smith, as Taran, his brow streaming, beat the strip of metal. "Yes, and hammer and anvil, too! You'll be roasted, smelted, and pounded, and you'll scarce know what's happening to you. But stand boldly to it! Metal's worthless till it's shaped and tempered!... Face the pounding; don't fear the proving; and you'll stand well against any hammer and anvil!"

I couldn't agree more.

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

Sabriel by Garth Nix. I read it for the first time when I was 11 or 12, and have read it many, many times since then. (Serious. The pages of my copy are yellow and falling out). I know so many other authors my age who were influenced by this book (elements of Throne of Glass were most definitely inspired by Sabriel and its sequel, Lirael), and it's come to be a near-holy book for all of us. So, it'd be so fun and fascinating to read the book without having spent my childhood and adolescence (and adulthood, to be honest) worshipping it. Would I still fall in love with it? Would it still scare the bejeezus out of me? Would Sabriel herself still inspire me? I like to think so.


Book Review

Review: Lionel Asbo: State of England

Lionel Asbo: State of England by Martin Amis (Knopf, $25.95 hardcover, 9780307958082, August 21, 2012)

Who hasn't seen pictures of a slightly stunned lottery winner posing with an oversized check and wondered how those riches will change their lives? Now imagine that bemused winner is a congenital criminal in a grimy industrial suburb of London and you can begin to grasp the comic possibilities of Martin Amis's 13th novel, Lionel Asbo: State of England.

Diston, where Lionel and his nephew Desmond Pepperdine (only six years his junior) live, is the kind of place a 21st-century Dickens might conjure up, "where calamity made its rounds like a postman." Lionel, who's changed his name to "Asbo," in tribute to his frequent encounters with England's Anti-Social Behaviour Orders, works in the "very hairiest end of debt collection," making his rounds with a pair of pitbulls that will figure prominently in the novel's terrifying climax. After Desmond's mother dies, Lionel becomes the boy's unofficial guardian (they live together in Lionel's tiny 33rd-floor flat in a building where the elevator stops at the 21st), but Des is determined to extricate himself from life in the underclass. While Lionel is serving one of his frequent brief prison terms, Des fills out a lottery ticket for his uncle that wins £139 million.

It doesn't take long for the "Lotto Lout," as the British tabloids dub Lionel, to luxuriate in his newfound wealth, ensconcing himself in a gothic mansion with a girlfriend whose obsessions are cosmetic surgery and bad poetry. Deploying his accomplished satirical gifts with surgical skill, Amis delivers a grimly humorous portrayal of life among lower-class Britons alongside an equally incisive glimpse of the perils of undeserved celebrity.

If Lionel Asbo merely were the story of one dubious character's mishaps after coming into unearned riches, it would be amusing enough. But Amis is just as much concerned with the complex relationship between Lionel and Desmond, and through them the sometimes inexplicable bonds that tie family members to each other and the ways we can love against all our better instincts.

Stories of lottery winners who have come to various forms of grief are well-documented, but as tragic as those tales may be, perhaps it's up to the artistry of fiction to make them fully real. In doing that with wit and style, Martin Amis shows us that money changes everything and nothing. --Harvey Freedenberg

Shelf Talker: Martin Amis's 13th novel is a satiric look at what happens when a career criminal becomes a lottery multimillionaire.


Deeper Understanding

Robert Gray: 'Handpicked' Indie Favorites in Read This!

"Customers will ask you for recommendations," I was told during my interview for a bookseller position at the Northshire Bookstore in 1992. Really? Recommendations? From me? Why? That's what I was thinking at the time, though I just nodded (with, I hoped, sufficient enthusiasm to get the job).

I learned from day one on the sales floor that this was, indeed, the best part of being a bookseller. I loved handselling. One of our favorite and most challenging customers used to ask when I suggested a title: "Did you like it or did you love it?" If she ultimately hated the book, she never hesitated to say so, then asked for another recommendation. I loved that, too.

These memories hit me as I opened a copy of the newly published Read This! Handpicked Favorites from America's Indie Bookstores, edited by Hans Weyandt, with an introduction by Ann Patchett (Coffee House Press, $12, 9781566893138).

"There is no greater joy for a bookseller than introducing a reader to a book they will love for the rest of their lives," Patchett wrote. "Those of us in the business are, after all, matchmakers at heart.... So consider this little book you now hold in your hands a sort of catalogue of matchmakers."

I'm here to play matchmaker as well, handselling you a book I've had the pleasure of witnessing "in development" for a year.

Another memory: Last August, Weyandt, co-owner of Micawber's bookstore, St. Paul, Minn., told me about his conversation with a customer who asked for a list of his top 100 books. At first, he thought she meant the shop's all-time bestselling titles, but she wanted his personal favorites.

That exchange became the catalyst for a great project. Weyandt subsequently contacted several other indie booksellers nationwide and shared their top-50 lists on his blog, Mr. Micawber Enters the Internets (beginning with his own picks). As I read each additional entry, I found my must-reads list growing at an almost frightening (not really) pace. I was also fascinated by what those lists revealed about the booksellers and their bookstores. I wanted to know more and I wanted, of course, to read more.

By September, Weyandt was already contemplating the implications of all this newfound biblio-bounty. "The surprises are too many to name," he observed. "The biggest, for me, is that although the lists are odd and unique in wonderful ways, there is almost always a very common or normal book on each list and it is that that reminds me that all of us (booksellers) are normal readers in the beginning and in the end. General trends are very few. Big picture, both professionally and personally, is the idea that indie booksellers do bring a depth and breadth of knowledge that is important and valuable to communities. These lists, taken individually and collectively, are a strong indication of that."

And now there is, appropriately enough, a book. As an added incentive, proceeds from all sales will go to the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression. For those of you keeping score at home, a total of 1,194 books (993 unique volumes) are represented in Read This!, with 144 recommended more than once. There are 19 titles containing the word "love" and six with the word "death."

Yesterday, Weyandt reflected on his year-long journey, which began in an ordinary/extraordinary conversation with a customer and took him on a wild ride through the publishing process: "I certainly have a new appreciation for other parts of the book business I knew little to nothing about. The waiting to see the art and how the entire package comes together with dozens of people doing their own things to make it happen. And as far as those things go I have learned my personality is better suited to the bookselling side of things. The whole thing has been full of surprises--the biggest, of course, it becoming an actual book. Seeing my name on an inventory screen or ordering it out of a catalog was surreal. As was unpacking the boxes yesterday. Most of all, I'm so happy to have worked with Coffee House Press and the other 24 booksellers."

And it seemed like a natural handseller's reaction when he concluded: "Now it's on to the thing I can do best--sell the book and hope that customers find it to be enjoyable as well."--Robert Gray, contributing editor (column archives available at Fresh Eyes Now)

Weyandt photo: MPR Photo /Andris Straumanis

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