Shelf Awareness for Monday, March 18, 2013


Mariner Books: The Redemption of Bobby Love: A Story of Faith, Family, and Justice by Bobby and Cheryl Love

St. Martin's Press: The Golden Couple by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen

Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers: New from Here by Kelly Yang

Other Press: The Anomaly by Hervé Le Tellier, translated by Adriana Hunter

Poisoned Pen Press: The Department of Rare Books and Special Collections by Eva Jurczyk

Berkley Books: The Book of Cold Cases by Simone St James

News

Chester County Book & Music Parts Company

The music section of Chester County Book & Music Company is opening in April in a different location from the bookstore and with a new name, Electric Avenue.

Electric Avenue will be in the Cambridge Square Shopping Center in West Chester, Pa. As the store put it, "We will be featuring much of the music and video selection you came to love with our former store."

Chester County Book & Music Company closed its 28,000-square-foot store in February and announced 10 days ago that it had signed a lease for a 6,000-square-foot space in the same shopping center in which it had been located since 1987, the West Goshen Shopping Center. At the time, the store said, when it reopens, it will no longer sell music.


Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books: Mina by Matthew Forsythe


Busboys and Poets Opening Fifth Location

Busboys and Poets, which has four restaurant/bookstore/community centers in the Washington, D.C., area, is opening a fifth location, in Northwest Washington, to serve the Takoma neighborhood as well as nearby Takoma Park, Md., the Washington Post reported.

The original Busboys and Poets, at 14th and V streets in the District, has a bookstore owned and operated by Teaching for Change. Busboys & Poets last year opened its first "official" bookstore, in Hyattsville, Md., and is expanding the book selection at the other Busboys and Poets locations.


Denene Millner Books/Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers: Ashes of Gold by J Elle


'The Novel Resurgence of Independent Bookstores'

In a refreshing contrast to the general media's often superficial take on bookselling, in a wide-ranging feature called "The Novel Resurgence of Independent Bookstores," the Christian Science Monitor noted that indie bookstore sales are up, and said booksellers credit "everything from the shuttering of Borders to the rise of the 'buy local' movement to a get-'er-done outlook among the indies that would shame Larry the Cable Guy," the paper wrote. "If they have to sell cheesecake or run a summer camp to survive, add it to the to-do list."

Among the stores mentioned in the piece: Bank Square Books, Mystic, Conn., which was able to rebuild after Hurricane Sandy because of a surge of community support; Boswell Book Co., Milwaukee, Wis., an example of a store run by an owner, Daniel Goldin, who knew the business inside and out before he opened; BookPeople, Austin, Tex., which hosts extremely popular summer camps for younger customers; Singularity & Co., Brooklyn, N.Y., which started as a sci-fi publisher and specializes in "rescuing" out of print titles and now has a storefront; WORD, Brooklyn, N.Y., which is opening another store, in Jersey City, N.J., and whose owner, Christine Onorati, said, "Community-building is the most important key to an indie bookstore's success"; Bookbug, Kalamazoo, Mich., which doubled in size in 2011; McLean & Eakin, Petoskey, Mich., where Matthew Norcross and his wife--who met at the store--bought it from his mother and have "thrown themselves into the digital side of bookselling"; and Journeys of Life, Pittsburgh, Pa., which suffered a fire in November 2011 but has risen like a phoenix and had the second best January ever. The only down note was sounded by Battery Park Book Exchange and Champagne Bar, Asheville, N.C., whose sale of used and new books has slipped, leading it to open a wine bar and café.

Another treat in this story: Shelf Awareness editor-in-chief John Mutter was quoted accurately.


Disney-Hyperion: Solimar: The Sword of the Monarchs by Pam Muñoz Ryan


'Big A' Launches Little A Imprint

Amazon is launching a literary fiction imprint called Little A, which will publish novels, memoirs and story collections, and include a digital-only series called Day One that will publish short stories from debut authors, Galley Cat reported.

Little A's authors will include James Franco, A.L. Kennedy and Jenny Davidson. Day One's first story is "When a Camel Breaks Your Heart" by Kodi Scheer.


New Press: Congratulations to Nobel Prize Winner Abdulrazak Gurnah


WI8: Working with Self-Published Authors

At the Winter Institute's panel on working with self-published authors, bookseller panelists discussed the importance of their consignment programs and print-on-demand machines in serving the many writers in their communities.

Paul Hanson of Village Books, Bellingham, Wash., suggested that booksellers call such authors "independently published authors"--and he challenged booksellers to ask if they are treating them "the way you'd like publishers to treat independent bookstores."

Hanson

Hanson recounted that having published several collections of anthologies put him "in the shoes of independently published authors," who, he said, often found booksellers antagonistic, which has sent many of them "to Amazon in droves."

Village Books, he said, has "one of the most professional" consignment programs, under which it charges $25 to process a book being sold on consignment; keeps the book in stock if it sells at least one copy each quarter; pays authors for sales in three months; and offers a 60/40 split. ("Be prepared to justify the split," he said. "They have no idea why we get 40%.") He added that it's important to educate authors. One example: "Tell them if they sell direct to friends and family and don't send them to us, we won't carry the book."

Village Books has a three-tiered approach to working with independently published authors. At the most basic level, it will take on books by any local author and will offer a brief consultation. "The emphasis is on education," Hanson said, including workshops that "teach them before they walk in the door." He also recommended booksellers have clear requirements for consignment programs and post them on store websites.

Hanson suggested that bookseller charge for any consultations beyond a basic 15-minute session. "You have to evaluate what your time is worth," he said.

Village Books' second tier consists of a mix of free and paid services. Hanson emphasized the importance of the store's co-sponsorships of writing seminars and workshops, like the Chuckanut Writers Conference. Village Books supplies "authors, knowledge and resources," while the partners, mainly local colleges, provide facilities and registration. "We work to strengthen the community outside to strengthen the community inside," he commented.

Village Books also works with teachers and a variety of writers groups. ("Talk about educating them early," Hanson said. "We have them in the eighth grade.")

The third tier involves publishing consultations, particularly about marketing and public relations, since independently published authors "don't know all the hats they have to wear if they don't go to traditional publishers." This level also involves publishing the books, which, Hanson said, "requires a lot more resources unless you partner with an outside printer."

Village Books has an Espresso Book Machine, which is "the largest demonstration that we support the writers in our community," Hanson said. The store's imprint, Chuckanut Editions, accounts for four or five of the store's 25 bestselling titles each year.

For the Espresso, Village Books charges $99 "to get the book in the door," then $8 per copy printed and more for added services such as design work and uploading the book to Kobo for e-book conversion.

Mayersohn

Jeffrey Mayersohn of the Harvard Book Store, Cambridge, Mass., called writers "a constituency," which it serves through its consignment program and an Espresso Book Machine. "We've made a substantial commitment to providing an outlet for the local writing community," he said.

Harvard gives all shift supervisors the discretion to accept self-published titles for the consignment program, under which, the store prints three or four copies and commits to stocking the title for three months. Authors are responsible for managing the inventory and seeking payment. In part, making the authors responsible for such things insures that they have a local connection, since they must appear in the store regularly.

In contrast to Village Books, Harvard has no store imprint and considers itself a printer, not a publisher. It offers no editorial or design services, instead referring customers to others--which is another way of building community--and recommending the services of Grub Street, the nonprofit that offers writing and publishing workshops.

The biggest challenge the store has with self-published titles is marketing. But it has found that the store's popular "wall of print-on-demand shelves," located next to the Espresso Book Machine, sells a lot of books. (Self-published titles are also displayed in appropriate sections elsewhere in the store.)

The store also prints the winners of its writing contests and holds events for them, which are packed with friends and family of contributors. "At no other readings is there such pressure to buy books," Mayersohn said.

Mayersohn noted that there is a certain status to being represented by Harvard Book Store. "Since anyone can publish on Amazon, it's seen as a local distinction to have a book on the shelves in our store."

Among consignment bestsellers are Inside Harvard by the Crimson Key Society, which has sold more than 400 copies, and McLean Hospital by Francis de Marneffe, the memoir by the psychiatric hospital's psychiatrist-in-chief, which has sold more than 50 copies.

The most popular types of titles printed on the Espresso Book Machine are a range of nonfiction, particularly memoirs and self-help books, as well as novels. Most are newly published; some were out of print and have been "wonderfully successful." Altogether, the store has printed some 1,400 titles, 1,000 of which are new. Most books printed on the machine are sold outside the store.

Bestselling POD titles include:

  • Three titles by short story writer and essayist Steve Almond ("our bestselling author," Mayersohn said).
  • Italian Days, Arabian Nights: Coming of Age in the Shadow of Mussolini by Vittorio Palumbo
  • Citizen Somerville: Growing Up with the Winter Hill Gang by Bobby Martini and Elayne Keratsis
  • Elsa's Housebook: A Woman's Photojournal by Elsa Dorfman, originally published by Godine
  • On the River: The Cambridge Community Poem

"Often in self-publishing," Mayersohn noted, "the commercial takes back seat to the deeply personal." Still, he added, "It surprises me how many good books there are. The bad ones are the exception." --John Mutter

[Editor's note: this concludes our coverage of Winter Institute 8. We're looking forward to WI9 in Seattle!]


Hastings Entertainment: Book Sales Off 1.3% for the Year

At Hastings Entertainment, in the fourth quarter ended January 31, total revenues fell 7.5%, to $141.6 million, and net income was $1.2 million, compared to a net loss of $8.4 million in the same period a year earlier. For the full year, total revenues fell 6.8%, to $462.5 million, and the net loss improved to $9.3 million from $17.6 million.

In the quarter, sales of books at stores open at least a year fell 4.5%, "primarily due to decreased sales in new and used books and magazines, partially offset by strong holiday sales of Nextbook tablets," the company said. Excluding digital sales, comp book sales fell 5.1%.

For the year, sales of books at stores open at least a year fell 1.3%, "primarily due to lower sales in new and bargain books and magazines, partially offset by strong sales of the 50 Shades series, Nextbook tablets and used books." Excluding digital sales, comp book sales fell 2.3%.

"Our revenues continue to be negatively impacted by the increasing popularity of digital delivery, rental kiosks and subscription-based services, as well as the longevity of the current video game console cycle," CEO and chairman John Marmaduke said.

The company has added new product categories in 44 of its 137 stores, increasing the size of the electronics department and adding apparel, kids and seasonal categories, but at the same time reducing space dedicated to books, music and rentals.


Notes

Video of the Day: Paper or Pixels?

New York Times columnists A.O. Scott and David Carr surveyed their colleagues to find out not only what they're reading, but how they're reading. Their responses (along with the comments by NYT readers, and on our Facebook page) revealed a mix of preferences, for paper and for pixels.


Media and Movies

Media Heat: Harlan Coben on Today

This morning on Good Morning America: Zev Chafets, author of Roger Ailes: Off Camera (Sentinel, $26.95, 9781595230959). He will also appear today on Fox's Hannity and CNN's Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer and tomorrow on Fox's On the Record with Greta Van Susteren.

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Today on NPR's Diane Rehm Show: Matthew Goodman, author of Eighty Days: Nellie Bly and Elizabeth Bisland's History-Making Race Around the World (Ballantine, $28, 9780345527264).

Also on Diane Rehm: Emily Rapp, author of The Still Point of the Turning World (Penguin Press, $25.95, 9781594205125).

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Today on Rachael Ray: Clive Davis, author of The Soundtrack of My Life (Simon & Schuster, $30, 9781476714783).

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Tonight on a repeat of the Daily Show: Sandra Day O'Connor, author of Out of Order: Stories from the History of the Supreme Court (Random House, $26, 9780812993929).

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Tonight on a repeat of the Colbert Report: Emily Bazelon, author of Sticks and Stones: Defeating the Culture of Bullying and Rediscovering the Power of Character and Empathy (Random House, $27, 9780812992809).

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Tomorrow morning on the Today Show: Harlan Coben, author of Six Years (Dutton, $27.95, 9780525953487).

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Tomorrow morning on Good Morning America: Michael Mosley, author of The FastDiet: Lose Weight, Stay Healthy, and Live Longer with the Simple Secret of Intermittent Fasting (Atria, $24, 9781476734941).

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Tomorrow morning on CBS This Morning: Oliver Horovitz, author of An American Caddie in St. Andrews: Growing Up, Girls, and Looping on the Old Course (Gotham, $26, 9781592407293).

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Tomorrow on Dr. Oz: Alisa Vitti, author of WomanCode: Perfect Your Cycle, Amplify Your Fertility, Supercharge Your Sex Drive, and Become a Power Source (HarperOne, $25.99, 9780062130778).

Also on Dr. Oz: Tyrese Gibson and Rev Run, authors of Manology: Secrets of Your Man's Mind Revealed (Touchstone, $24.99, 9781451681840).

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Tomorrow night on Lou Dobbs Tonight: Alan S. Blinder, author of After the Music Stopped: The Financial Crisis, the Response, and the Work Ahead (Penguin Press, $29.95, 9781594205309).

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Tomorrow night on a repeat of the Daily Show: Rachel Maddow, author of Drift: The Unmooring of American Military Power (Broadway, $15, 9780307460998).

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Tomorrow night on the Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson: John Green, author of The Fault in Our Stars (Dutton, $17.99, 9780525478812).


Movies: Divergent Casting News

Theo James (Downton fans will remember him as the ill-fated Mr. Pamuk) has been announced as the male lead, Four, in the film version of Veronica Roth's YA novel Divergent, set in post-apocalyptic Chicago. Shailene Woodley (The Descendants) is already set to play the heroine, Beatrice "Tris" Prior. The Los Angeles Times also says that "Miles Teller, star of the recent 21 & Over, is in negotiations to play one of the villains of the film, Peter; Irish actor Ray Stevenson (Dexter) is in talks to portray Tris's father, Andrew Prior, while an offer is out to Aaron Eckhart for the role of Marcus, Andrew's colleague, all according to people familiar with the discussions."

"Other cast members recently announced include Kate Winslet; Maggie Q as the tattoo parlor owner Tori; Zoe Kravitz as Beatrice's friend Christina; and Ansel Elgort, who plays Caleb, Tris's brother. Australian actor Jai Courtney, who portrayed Bruce Willis's son in the most recent Die Hard, will play Dauntless leader Eric."

Production is scheduled to begin in Chicago in April, with Neil Burger (Limitless) directing. Vanessa Taylor (Game of Thrones) wrote the script based on an original draft by Evan Daugherty (Snow White and the Huntsman). Summit Entertainment plans to release the film March 21, 2014.



Book Review

Review: The Unchangeable Spots of Leopards

The Unchangeable Spots of Leopards by Kristopher Jansma (Viking, $26.95 hardcover, 9780670026005, March 21, 2013)

In The Unchangeable Spots of Leopards, Kristopher Jansma takes a common subject for debut novelists--the sentimental education of a writer of slender means--and renders it uncommonly entertaining through two literary devices. The first is to catapult the protagonist out of a gently funny and duplicitous bildungsroman into a globe-scorching picaresque tale. The narrator's madcap mendacities escalate across adventures in the Arab Emirates, Sri Lanka, Ghana, Iceland and Luxembourg, yet he remains sympathetic in his pursuit of literary achievement and the only two people who truly matter to him. It's a refreshingly swashbuckling approach, full of energy and surprises, not the least of which is the way the leopard of the title finally bounds into view.

Jansma's second, more complicated cleverness is to abdicate all authorial control to his unreliable narrator. It begins innocently enough as the narrator, sitting in the same airport where he used to wait for his flight attendant mother, tells the story of losing his first "book" at the age of six. He has since lost "a novel, a novella, and a biography," he continues, and is arranging their fictional and nonfictional remnants next to each other "to try to get them to add up to something true." Thus begins a metafictional puzzle in which the narrator's texts mingle with quotations from literary greats to construct an elegant argument about the truth-telling power of fiction.

Jansma nourishes his literary conundrum with recurring details and doppelgänger characters. As you read about the narrator's memorable teenage crush, a debutante who smiles by "un-smiling," or the callow literary friendship/rivalry that will dominate his first adult decade and make him slightly crazy with envy, or his obsession with an actress whose natural habitat is le beau monde yet who beds our impecunious hero when it suits her, the echoing intertextual clues make you wonder: Are you reading one of the fictions-within-the-fiction or a "true" event that happened to the narrator in his role as the protagonist of The Unchangeable Spots of Leopards?

More brain teasing than perplexing, The Unchangeable Spots of Leopards' intricate narrative game and its carbon-burning escapades add up to a novel that is wise about identity and aspiration, competitive storytelling, romantic obsession and the assertion that "all these stories are true, only somewhere else." --Holloway McCandless

Discover: An unusually clever debut novel that romps through a writer's coming of age while simultaneously exploring the relationship of fiction to truth.


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