For Now, B&N Turns Page on E-Readers
"We have sold e-readers before and they haven't done particularly
well."--Barnes & Noble spokeswoman Mary Ellen Keating in response
to a query from the Associated Press about the Sony Reader, which will
be sold through Sony and in some 200 Borders stores.
Notes: Nantucket Chain Store Measure Sails On
Wendy Morton Hudson of Nantucket Bookworks reports that at Monday
night's Town Meeting, "the formula retail article proposed for downtown
Nantucket went unchallenged." It now needs to be approved by the
Massachusetts Attorney Journal, a move that its supporters are
"guardedly optimistic" will occur.
The measure would keep large chain stores from opening (Shelf Awareness
, March 17).
Speaking of big box retailers, Wal-Mart yesterday floated a plan to aid
small businesses near at least 10 of the 50 stores it wants to open in
struggling urban areas. Wal-Mart
would provide training in how businesses can compete with Wal-Mart and
offer competitors free advertising in its stores, among other eyebrow-raising
In a timely story for National Poetry Month, today's New York Times
trailed David Tucker around at his day job as assistant managing editor of the Metro section of the Newark, N.J., Star-Ledger
Tucker is also a poet and winner of the Katharine Bakeless Nason Prize
for poetry, which includes publication by Houghton Mifflin. His Late for Work
(Mariner, $12, 0618658688) has just appeared.
Tucker told the paper he learned to love language from his
bulldozer-operator father, who liked to quote the Shakespeare he had
learned in high school, and he decided to become a poet after taking a class with poet Donald
Hall at the University of Michigan.
Consortium Book Sales & Distribution has appointed David Perkins
academic marketing director. A 25-year book industry veteran, Perkins
most recently was marketing director for the Bloomsbury Review
Earlier he held marketing, sales, advertising positions at several
university presses. Perkins is also a published poet and a frequent
book reviewer. His first job was owner of the Only Bookstore and the
Only (Other) Bookstore in Denver, Colo.
In the Harvard Crimson
Louisa Solano reminisces about her life-long love affair with the
Grolier Poetry Book Shop, which she is selling to Ifeanyi A. Menkiti, whom
she called "the most perfect match."
When she first visited the store at age 15, she told the paper, she
knew that someday she wanted to own the place. "When I told my mother
that, she said, be careful what you wish for, you might get it."
That dinosaur book Tony Soprano perused in Sunday's episode of the Sopranos was DK Publishing's Dinosaur Encyclopedia
According to DK, publicity manager Rachel Kempster heard from many fans
and colleagues and commented: "I'm just glad that the book didn't get
I Love a Mystery, which sells new and used mysteries, suspense and thrillers, has relocated, according to the Kansas City Star
. Its new location, in larger space, is at 6114 Johnson Drive, Mission, Kan.
Bookseller Fensterman Becomes BEA Show Manager
Lance Fensterman, a bookseller and member of the ABA Booksellers
Advisory Council, has been named show manager for BookExpo America,
replacing Chris McCabe, who left the company in February. Fensterman
begins officially on April 10 and reports to Courtney Muller, Reed
Exhibitions group v-p, who in the late 1990s, during a successful
tenure, was herself BEA show manager.
Fensterman was most recently store manager of R.J. Julia at Elm Street
Books, New Canaan, Conn., which closed last month, and before that was
general manager of Bound to Be Read Bookstore, St. Paul, Minn. Earlier
Fensterman worked in hotel sales and marketing, co-founded a dot com
business and founded North Perk Coffee House.
In a statement, he said, "A bookseller and entrepreneur at heart, I
hope to bring a new perspective to the show. My proverbial office door
and my mind will always be open to new ideas and innovation for the
Media Heat: DeLay Commentators
Rep. Tom DeLay's announcement yesterday that he will resign from the House brought a lot of
media requests for comment for Lou Dubose and Jan Reid, authors of
DeLay: The Hammer Comes Down (PublicAffairs, 1586484079, $13.95), published in January. For
example, Reid was interviewed on CBS Radio, and Dubose was on NPR's Talk
of the Nation and Air America's Al Franken Show yesterday and
will be on Air America's Mornings show today.
This morning the Today Show obeys Cesar Millan, star of the National
Geographic Channel's Dog Whisperer show and author of Cesar's Way: The
Natural, Everyday Guide to Understanding and Correcting Common Dog
Problems (Crown, $24.95, 0307337332).
This morning Good Morning America warmly greets Liz Pryor, author of
What Did I Do Wrong?: When Women Don't Tell Each Other the Friendship
Is Over (Free Press, $19.95, 0743286316).
Today on the Early Show: Ronald Kessler, author of Laura Bush: An
Intimate Portrait of America's First Lady (Doubleday, $26, 0385516215).
Today on the Diane Rehm Show: Derek Bok, author of Our Underachieving
Colleges: A Candid Look at How Much Students Learn and Why They Should
Be Learning More (Princeton University Press, $29.95, 0691125961).
Today on WNYC's Leonard Lopate Show: Sarah Waters whose new novel is The Night Watch (Riverhead, $25.95, 159448905X).
Also on the Lopate Show, Scottish writers Richard Holloway, author of Doubts
and Loves: What Is Left of Christianity (Canongate, $14, 1841953822);
Janice Galloway, author of Clara (S&S, $14, 0743238532); and A.L.
Kennedy, author of Paradise (Vintage, $14, 1400079454) "compare notes," as the show puts it.
Tonight on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart: retired General Anthony C. Zinni, aka Tony Zinni, author of The Battle For Peace: A Frontline Vision of America's Power and Purpose (Palgrave Macmillan, $24.95, 1403971749).
Attainment: New Books Next Week, Vol. 2
Appearing next Tuesday, April 11:
Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky (Knopf, $25,
1400044731). Part of an unfinished epic about life during and after the Nazi invasion of France by
the Jewish Russian-born French writer who died at Auschwitz. The long
unpublished manuscript has received glowing reviews.
Aruba: The Tragic Untold Story of Natalee Holloway and Corruption in
Dave Holloway (Nelson Current, $25.99, 1595550631). The father of the
American student who disappeared last May in Aruba while on a high
school graduation trip tells the frustrating story.
Encyclopedia Prehistorica: Sharks and Other Sea Monsters
Sabuda (Candlewick, $27.99, 076362229X). The latest from the pop-up
master, likely to eat up the competition.
Mandahla: Safety Gear for Small Animals Reviewed
Bill Burns is a Canadian artist who has created a traveling exhibition of scale model safety vests, work gloves, bulletproof vests, U.V. goggles and respirators to help animals escape from both natural history and degraded habitats. The text is scientifically based with serious intent, while also being absolutely hilarious. Over a million species of animal life are predicted to be extinct by 2050 due to habitat loss, so Burns and his crew have created prostheses ("They allow animals dignity and security, as well as the good looks needed for successful breeding"), rescue devices (the Frog Resuscitator) and items like work gloves for raccoons.
He realized his mission at a young age: "By the time I finished high school . . . the spectre of war, at least of the massive earth-destroying fireball type, seemed to have passed; nevertheless, I sensed danger . . . something was amiss. Animals were still in peril." At Simon Fraser University, "I was a tortured young man . . . I decided not to become a priest . . . my suffering did not abate: I was a killjoy." After the first Safety Gear exhibition in New York, events began to unfold and become more hopeful for Burns and cohorts: "Suffice it to say that they involved a wounded black-footed ferret, a cocktail of Gatorade and kitten kibble, an elk, a frozen pond, the director of a major arts centre in the Canadian Rockies, and a daring helicopter rescue." With essays by Burns and others, delicate drawings, and landscapes created with nature books and plastic animals, Safety Gear for Small Animals can be appreciated for both its message and wit, as well as its elegant production.--Marilyn Dahl
John Daniel: 'The Company of Books'
[Editors' Note: John Daniel gave a particularly eloquent address, called "The Company of Books," on March 17, when his Rogue River Journal: A Winter Alone (Shoemaker & Hoard, $26, 1593760515), won a Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association prize. We repeat it here.]
As I was growing up in the suburbs of Washington, D.C., in the 1950s
and early 60s, books were all around our house. Many kinds, from fine
sets of Shakespeare and Francis Parkman, to early coffee-table books
such as The Family of Man, to baseball books and the Freddy the
Pig stories my brother and I loved, to the cheap paperback novels with
lurid covers that my father liked for recreational reading. It was
common to see both my parents reading, my father with his half-frame
glasses in his maple rocker, my mother in the Morris chair or on the
sofa. Neither of them, that I recall, read out loud very much to my
brother and me. They did something better: they read books themselves,
in our presence, allowing us to absorb their silent statement that to
read was to do something valid and valuable.
But books to me were about more than reading. I liked to touch them,
hold them, see them arrayed on shelves in the living room. Once, when I
preferred to be alone--an old impulse of mine--I got rid of my best
friend by feigning an avid interest in a volume of Macauley's History of England.
The text did not engross me, but the book itself did. I liked the
grainy paper, the feel of the rough fore-edges of the pages. I liked
the hard gray covers, embossed with opulent lettering. I liked the
substantial heft in my hands. And I loved the smell, both musty and
fresh, that filled my nose when I buried it in the book's open spine.
It was a smell like no other; it seemed as old and mysterious as
I still like to smell books, and I know I'm not alone. I suspect, in
fact, that many in this room are book sniffers, closeted or out. A
certain poet I knew, and some of you knew him too, once claimed that he
could find his way around the Lewis & Clark College Library just by
the smell of the books. "Books from Britain smell different from
American books," William Stafford said. And he said, in his
not-quite-kidding way, "Some people judge writing by how it sounds or
looks. I judge it by how it smells. I want that total experience of
An earlier American, Henry David Thoreau, wrote in his journal one day
in 1850, "A truly good book is something as wildly natural and
primitive, mysterious and marvelous, ambrosial and fertile, as a fungus
or lichen." He was referring to the ideas and spirit of a good book,
the wild, uncivilized thinking that absorbs us in Lear or the Iliad,
but the sensory gusto of his small ode entitles us to suspect, at
least, that Thoreau was a book sniffer too.
I knew one man who went further. At Stanford in the 1980s I met the
great Conrad scholar Ian Watt, now dead. An Englishman, Watt was one of
the World War Two prisoners who built the bridge over the River Kwai.
In the squalor and privation of the prison camp, he had managed to hang
onto--appropriately enough--a copy of Dante's Inferno. Someone
else had a store of tobacco. No one had a pipe or papers. Which would
it be, then--the solace of one of the great achievements of the human
imagination, or the comfort of an occasional smoke? Watt chose both. He
memorized the Inferno, one page at a time, then tore the page
from the book and ripped it into as many rolling papers as it would
make. With his cohorts in slavery, he took the warmth of paper and ink
into his lungs, and Dante Alighieri into his mind and heart.
Book. The word has heft and grain and smell in its own history. "Book"
is directly related to "beech," the species of tree, with an original
sense of beechwood sticks on which runes were carved. That early book
must have been a versatile thing. Besides what edification and
inspiration it might provide, it could be leaned on when one was tired,
kindled to start a fire, or gripped hard to bang robbers on the head.
(I needed such a book one night in my Rogue River solitude when I awoke
dead certain that an intruder had entered the cabin. Fumbling in the
dark at my bedside table, my hand found only a softcover Icelandic
novel with which to defend myself.)
On balance, though, I'll take the modern book. Beechwood sticks might
smell nice but would smell pretty much alike, whereas our books form a
lovely array of olfactory delights, as various as single-malt whiskies.
And anyway, that old wooden book was worthless for pressing flowers,
resting a coffee mug on, or riffling with one's fingers for the pure
No one knows what all goes into the making of a writer, but
surely--along with the mother complex, the poor social skills, the
exhibitionism parading behind modesty, the limitless ego, and the
perverse unwillingness to work a real job--along with those factors and
more, surely a love of the book as physical thing must play a part. A
writer, I suspect, wants more than to write a book. He wants to be a
book, and to some extent he is.
And what of you, dear booksellers? What are the secrets of your
psyche? Surely it wasn't only the money and sheer glamour of the trade
that attracted you. But what, then? Were you habitually naïve and
optimistic as children? Did you actually imagine that you could spend
your lives on this most impractical excursion from reality?
Perhaps it was this simple: you could not imagine a career without the
close company of this lively, fragrant creature, the book. And perhaps
it was this simple too: you formed a conviction that good books
ought to have a public, that they can speak for themselves only if
read, and that in order to be read they must first be spoken for, they
must be spirited from the shelf to the hand of the reader by a friendly
and knowledgeable advocate.
Thank you for being that advocate.
And thank you for selecting Rogue River Journal for this award, which does me great honor and gives me great happiness.