Shelf Awareness for Thursday, March 28, 2013

Simon & Schuster: Fall Cooking With Simon Element

Ace Books: Dungeon Crawler Carl by Matt Dinniman

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers: The Millicent Quibb School of Etiquette for Young Ladies of Mad Science by Kate McKinnon

Annick Press: Bog Myrtle by Sid Sharp

Minotaur Books: Betrayal at Blackthorn Park: A Mystery (Evelyne Redfern #2) by Julia Kelly

Tor Books: Blood of the Old Kings by Sung-Il Kim, Translated by Anton Hur

Del Rey Books: The Book of Elsewhere by Keeanu Reeves and China Miéville

Quotation of the Day

Print Book 'Stablization'

"I do think that the low-hanging fruit has been picked as it relates to digital. There's nothing on the horizon from a technology perspective that leads us to conclude that there would be technology to push dramatically different consumption levels of digital book, and prices are already very low. So all of that being said, we do think we've reached a certain stabilization point."

--Terrance G. Finley, CEO and president of Books-A-Million, asked about stabilization in the sales of printed books, in a conference call with Wall Street analysts. (See more about BAM results below.)

G.P. Putnam's Sons: William by Mason Coile


EU Said Ready to Approve Random House-Penguin Merger

Citing "two people familiar with the matter," Reuters wrote that European Union antitrust authorities will approve the merger of Random House and Penguin without changes. A decision by the European Commission is expected by April 5.

Announced last October, the merger has been approved by regulators in the U.S., Australia and New Zealand. Authorities in Canada and China are among others continuing to consider the matter.

Under the merger, Bertelsmann will own 53% of Penguin Random, and Pearson will own 47%. The merged company will include all of Random House and Penguin Group's publishing units in the U.S., Canada, the U.K., Australia, New Zealand, India and South Africa, as well as Penguin's operations in China and Random House's publishers in Spain and Latin America. Bertelsmann's German publishing group, Verlagsgruppe Random House, is not included in the merger.

Harpervia: The Alaska Sanders Affair by Joël Dicker, Translated by Robert Bononno

BAM Fourth Quarter: E-book Sales Growth 'Markedly Slower'

At Books-A-Million, in the fourth quarter ended February 2, net sales fell 0.8%, to $165.6 million, and net income rose 6.6%, to $8.1 million. For the year, net sales rose 7.5%, to $503.8 million, and net income was $2.5 million, compared to a net loss of $2.5 million in the previous fiscal year.

Sales at stores open at least a year fell 6.1% in the fourth quarter and fell 3.6% for the year. Excluding e-reader devices and accessories, comp-store sales fell 4.2% in the fourth quarter. During the quarter, BAM opened one superstore and closed a superstore and traditional store, leaving it with 257 stores.

CEO and president Terrance G. Finley commented: "Our core book business stabilized, our general merchandise categories performed well and we experienced a significant change in the digital arena, with device sales weaker than expected and digital content sales growing at a markedly slower rate. We are adjusting our merchandising strategy to reflect the fast changing industry dynamics and focusing on growing our business by offering the best value and customer experience in books, toys, tech and more."

Speaking in a conference call with analysts yesterday, Finley said that "while November and early December sales were somewhat sluggish and adversely impacted by several bouts of inclement weather, including Hurricane Sandy, sales rebounded nicely enough just prior to the holidays to allow us to exceed budgeted projections for the quarter. Our core book business continued to outperform expectations. Our gift department delivered significant year-over-year sales growth, and our cafe and media departments compared favorably to last year and planned, as well."

The company's "core book business" was "the beneficiary of declining sales industry-wide for e-readers and tablets and the resulting decline in the rate of digital channel sales growth. While certain categories and genres continues to move strongly into the digital sales arena, the tail of physical book sales was longer and stronger than expected and our physical book business is growing more stable, as the rate of digital sales growth continues to slow."

At BAM, the strongest book categories were adult fiction, particularly the Fifty Shades of Gray trilogy and "additional romance titles that have piled on to this phenomenon"; graphic novels, "driven by the continued interest in the Walking Dead series based on the hit AMC television series"; and children's, with "exceptionally strong sales on seasonal titles."

Finley called this quarter's publishing lineup "fairly modest" and said that sales comparisons would be difficult coming against high sales in the same quarter last year from the Hunger Games and the beginning of the Fifty Shades of Gray phenomenon. He cited as highlights for this spring new fiction from David Baldacci and James Patterson and new nonfiction offerings from Dr. Phil and Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg.

Alaskan Coincidence: Two Juneau Bookstores for Sale

Two bookstores in Juneau, Alaska, are for sale, Juneau Empire reported.

Hearthside Books owners Susan Hickey and Deb Reifenstein, who founded the store in 1975, are "now on a path to retirement," they wrote in a public letter. "This may take a year or two but we are now officially looking for a buyer for our business. Neither of us is leaving Juneau and will continue to keep Hearthside's two locations operating throughout this process.... We are not closing but are now actively looking for someone who loves books and being their own boss to keep Hearthside Books going for another 38 years!"

photo: Chris Wolak

They added: "There are no words to express our gratitude for Juneau's loyalty over all of these years, only emotion. Meeting and getting to know so many authors and readers has enriched our lives daily. Hearing about your latest passion for a new book is so rewarding. We hope we have helped when we have put the right book in your hands at the right moment in your lives. It's been a joy watching your lives change and meeting your relatives when they have come to Juneau, getting to know your children and celebrating other exciting events.

According to the paper, Reifenstein wants to travel more, spend more time with her grandchildren and pursue other interests such as oil painting. Among other things, Hickey wants to read more.

Also in Juneau, Toni and Don Birdseye plan to sell Rainy Retreat Books, the new, used and rare bookstore they've owned for 12 years.

Toni told the paper that the best part of the business is "the customers. Finding out what they're interested in and trying to put them together with a book that will answer their questions." She called Juneau readers eclectic, although the store's "bread and butter" is paperback fiction in all genres. For tourists, she said, Alaska books are most popular.

Bookstore Bracket-Buster: FGCU Wins Sales Title

College basketball fans have been so captivated by Florida Gulf Coast University's shocking run to the NCAA tournament's Sweet 16 (the first 15-seed ever to do so) that they have made an extremely profitable run of their own on the school's bookstore. The Associated Press reported that sales of hats and apparel for the men's team at the bookstore from March 1 to 25 were just under $115,000, up more than $100,000 over the same period last year. The women's team has also profited from the school's hardcourt success, with $34,000-plus in sales compared to $5,000 last year.

Chronicle Children's Books Wins Best Publisher Prize in Bologna

Yesterday at the Bologna Book Fair, BolognaFiere and AIE--the Italian Publishers Association--awarded Chronicle Books the inaugural BOP, the Bologna Prize for the Best Children's Publisher of the year in North America. The award was established this year in honor of the Bologna Book Fair's 50th anniversary in "a new initiative to pay tribute to excellence in the world of children's publishing."

The winners in the other five regions are: Bakame Editions, Kigali, Rwanda (Africa); Tara Books, Chennai, India (Asia); Cosac Naify, Sao Paulo, Brazil (Central-South America); Planeta Tangerina, Carcavelos, Portugal (Europe); and Gecko Press, Wellington, New Zealand (Oceania).


Image of the Day: Dressed for Steampunk Success

To celebrate the publication of Queen Victoria's Book of Spells, an anthology of "gaslamp fantasy" set in the Victorian era, Tor Books took over the Queen Vic pub in Manhattan's East Village and encouraged contributing authors and fans alike to dress in their finest Victorian or steampunk garb. Several attendees rose to the occasion! Pictured (l.-r.): authors Genevieve Valentine, Veronica Schanoes, Leanna Renee Hieber, Delia Sherman, Ellen Kushner and anthology co-editor Ellen Datlow.

Silicon Valley's 'Lounge-y, One-Stop' Bookshop

Describing the the LegalForce BookFlip store in Palo Alto, Calif., as "a lounge-y, one-stop shop for bestsellers, tablet devices and basic legal counseling," Fast Company profiled a store that "could easily be looked at as something somewhere between an oddball gamble and serious folly."

In addition to a 2,000-volume book inventory, the three-story, 8,000-square-foot venue sells Google Nexus tablets and basic legal counsel from on-staff attorneys as well. It also features computer stations for DIY legal research and many classes and workshops.

"Unfortunately a lot of retail businesses are dying now, and especially bookstores are dying... most people are looking in these retail stores and buying online. What we wanted to do was bring the bookstore back to Main Street," said store owner Raj Abhyanker, founder and CEO of LegalForce, a privately funded legal services web company.

Read This: Indie Bookstore Staff Picks Sections from All Over

At San Francisco's Green Apple Books

Noting that in brick-and-mortar bookstores, "one of the best parts is often the staff picks shelf, where we've found (and enjoyed) many an unusual recommendation or neglected classic," Flavorwire offered a "peek at the staff picks shelves from indie bookstores all over America.

"We are not an algorithm," said Lacey Dunham, director of marketing at Politics & Prose, Washington, D.C., "[W]e use the talents of our exceptionally well-read staff who are eager to share their opinion on books.... our staff picks shelves represent the diverse tastes and interests of the professional booksellers who shape the identity of our bookstore."

Personnel Changes: CN Times

At CN Times, the U.S. subsidiary of Beijing Media Time, a major Chinese trade book publisher:

  • Paul Harrington was promoted to v-p and associate publisher. He was previously a national accounts manager at Oxford University Press.
  • Helen Song has joined CN Times as executive managing editor. She was previously editorial production manager at Continuum International Publishing Group.
  • Sean Concannon has joined CN Times as sales and marketing manager. He was previously client services director at Sonnet Media.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: The New Mind of the South

Today on NPR's Talk of the Nation: Tracy Thompson, author of The New Mind of the South (Simon & Schuster, $26, 9781439158036).


Tomorrow morning on MSNBC's Morning Joe: Denise Kiernan, author of The Girls of Atomic City: The Untold Story of the Women Who Helped Win World War II (Touchstone, $27, 9781451617528).


Tomorrow on Anderson: Caroline Manzo, author of Let Me Tell You Something: Life as a Real Housewife, Tough-Love Mother, and Street-Smart Businesswoman (It, $24.99, 9780062218872).

This Weekend on Book TV: Pandora's Lunchbox

Book TV airs on C-Span 2 this week from 8 a.m. Saturday to 8 a.m. Monday and focuses on political and historical books as well as the book industry. The following are highlights for this coming weekend. For more information, go to Book TV's website.

Saturday, March 30
4:45 p.m. Kenneth Cukier discusses his book Big Data: A Revolution That Will Transform How We Live, Work, and Think (Eamon Dolan/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $27, 9780544002692). (Re-airs Monday at 1:45 a.m.)

7 p.m. Kay Goss presents her book Mr. Chairman: The Life and Legacy of Wilbur D. Mills (Parkhurst Brothers Publishers, $20, 9781935166498). (Re-airs Monday at 4 a.m.)  

9:15 p.m. At an event hosted by at Tattered Cover Bookstore, Denver, Colo., Melanie Warner talks about her book Pandora's Lunchbox: How Processed Food Took Over the American Meal (Scribner, $26, 9781451666731). (Re-airs Sunday at 4 p.m.)

10 p.m. After Words. Kimberly Tignor, advocacy counsel of the National Bar Association, interviews ABC News correspondents Martin Clancy and Tim O'Brien, co-authors of Murder at the Supreme Court: Lethal Crimes and Landmark Cases (Prometheus Books , $26, 9781616146481). (Re-airs Sunday at 9 p.m. and Monday at 12 a.m. and 3 a.m.)

11 p.m. Eric Deggans discusses his book Race-Baiter: How the Media Wields Dangerous Words to Divide a Nation (Palgrave Macmillan, $28, 9780230341821).

Sunday, March 31
12:15 a.m. Joan Johnson-Freese presents her book Educating America's Military (Routledge, $35.95, 9780415634991).

1:15 a.m. At an event hosted by the Harvard Book Store, Cambridge, Mass., Lawrence J. Friedman discusses his book The Lives of Erich Fromm: Love's Prophet (Columbia University Press, $29.95, 9780231162586).

1 p.m. Allan Lichtman talks about his book FDR and the Jews (Belknap Press, $29.95, 9780674050266), co-written with Richard Breitman. (Re-airs Monday at 1 a.m.)

1:25 p.m. Richard Stack discusses his book Grave Injustice: Unearthing Wrongful Executions (Potomac Books, $29.95, 9781612341620). (Re-airs Monday at 1:25 a.m.)

2:45 p.m. Ian Morris talks about his book The Measure of Civilization: How Social Development Decides the Fate of Nations (Princeton University Press, $29.95, 9780691155685).

7:45 p.m. At an event hosted by Powell's Books, Portland, Ore., Dave Zirin presents his book Game Over: How Politics Has Turned the Sports World Upside Down (New Press, $18.95, 9781595588159).

10 p.m. Elliott Abrams talks about his book Tested by Zion: The Bush Administration and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict (Cambridge University Press, $29.99, 9781107031197).

11 p.m. At an event hosted by Politics & Prose Bookstore, Washington, D.C., Peter Blair Henry discusses his book Turnaround: Third World Lessons for First World Growth (Basic Books , $26.99, 9780465031894).

Books & Authors

Awards: Ted Hughes Innovation in Poetry

Kate Tempest won the £5,000 (about US$7,558) Ted Hughes award for innovation in poetry for Brand New Ancients, her "spoken story" that "reincarnates the gods of old in members of two London families," the Guardian reported, noting that Tempest, who "started out rapping on night buses and at raves, is one of a new generation who are bridging the divide between poetry and theater."

British poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy funded the prize with her stipend as part of a mission to "recognize excellence and innovation in poetry--not just in books, but beyond," the Guardian wrote.

Attainment: New Titles Out Next Week

Selected new titles appearing next Tuesday, April 2:

Mom & Me & Mom by Maya Angelou (Random House, $22, 9781400066117) explores the author and poet's complicated relationship with her mother.

Unsinkable: A Memoir by Debbie Reynolds and Dorian Hannaway (Morrow, $28.99, 9780062213655) is the memoir of a legendary entertainer.

The Key Is Love: My Mother's Wisdom, A Daughter's Gratitude by Marie Osmond and Marcia Wilkie (NAL, $25.95, 9780451240316) is a memoir focused on motherhood.

Life After Life: A Novel by Kate Atkinson (Reagan Arthur, $27.99, 9780316176484) follows a cyclically reborn girl during the early 20th-century.

Family Table: Favorite Staff Meals from Our Restaurants to Your Home by Michael Romano, Karen Stabiner and Danny Meyer (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $35, 9780547615622) includes recipes chefs serve each other at several Danny Meyer restaurants.

World Peace and Other 4th-Grade Achievements by John Hunter (Eamon Dolan/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $25, 9780547905594) chronicles the World Peace Game, where children solve global issues.

Orphan Train: A Novel by Christina Baker Kline (Morrow, $14.99, 9780061950728) is a tale of friendship and second chances set against the "orphan trains" that ran from 1854 to 1929, taking orphans from the East Coast to the Midwest to be adopted by farm families.

Clean: Overcoming Addiction and Ending America's Greatest Tragedy by David Sheff (Eamon Dolan/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $25, 9780547848655) explores the failures and scant successes of the country's varied addiction treatments.

No Way Back: A Novel by Andrew Gross (Morrow, $27.99, 9780061655982) is a thriller about a woman framed for murder.

Book Review

Review: Life After Life

Life After Life by Jill McCorkle (Shannon Ravenel/Algonquin, $24.95 hardcover, 9781565122550, March 26, 2013)

A decade and a half after her last novel (1997's Tending to Virginia), Jill McCorkle is back with Life After Life, set in the Pine Haven Retirement Community of Fulton, N.C., described by Rachel, the lone Jewish resident, as, the "land of lard, Jesus, sugared-up tea and enough meshuggeners to fill Fenway Park." The retirement home is a microcosm not just of Fulton, but of the world at large.

McCorkle gives voice to multiple narrators, including Pine Haven residents, staff, volunteers, relatives--anyone with a piece of a story to tell. The central storyteller, though, is Joanna, a volunteer who stays with people when they are breathing their last. She befriends C.J., the young tattooed and pierced cosmetician who does hair and nails for the residents. C.J. has a son, whose father is unknown to anyone except C.J. (and the father), which will lead to a surprising and slightly over-the-top twist at the end of the novel.

A feckless magician named Ben lives nearby with his shrewish wife, Kendra, and their largely neglected daughter, Abby, who hates them both with a deep purple passion. Abby, nearly 13, spends far too much time at Pine Haven, feeling more at home with its residents than with kids her age. Her special friend is Sadie, a former schoolteacher who believes the best of everyone and has started a business of sorts within the retirement home called Exposure. It isn't clear whether or not any money changes hands, but Sadie creates picture collages of residents visiting exotic places--making them feel that they are there.

Appearance and disappearance are significant themes throughout Life After Life. The residents suddenly appear in faraway places thanks to Sadie's collages; Ben is making a "disappearing" chamber for a now-you-see-it, now-you-don't trick at Abby's birthday party. Another character, Stanley, has here-again, gone-again dementia, which turns out to have an interesting life of its own. And, of course, part of life in a retirement community is that residents disappear--permanently.

It's a treat to have another Jill McCorkle novel to enjoy. Her characters and setting, the humor and poignancy with which she writes, have been absent far too long. --Valerie Ryan

Shelf Talker: A North Carolina retirement home sets the stage for several interesting characters in McCorkle's first novel (following three short story collections) in more than a decade.

The Bestsellers

Top-Selling Self-Published Titles

The bestselling self-published books last week as compiled by

1. Life Code by Dr. Phil McGraw
2. Fallen Too Far by Abbi Glines
3. Never Too Far by Abbi Glines
4. Lily's Mistake by Pamela Ann
5. Fate Interrupted 2 by Kaitlyn Cross
6. Wool Omnibus Edition by Hugh Howey
7. Falling into You by Jasinda Wilder
8. Surrender Your Love by J.C. Reed
9. The Wreck by Marie Force
10. Wait for Me by Elisabeth Naughton

[Many thanks to!]

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