Indie Bookseller's Advice: 'Never Forget the Wonks & the Weirdos'
"Never forget the wonks, and the weirdos, and the people who will be delighted by this book that they never could even have imagined could exist and they will find on your shelf."
"Never forget the wonks, and the weirdos, and the people who will be delighted by this book that they never could even have imagined could exist and they will find on your shelf."
Reverse course! Stephen King, who in 2000 surprised the industry by making his novella Riding the Bullet available only as an e-book, will now offer his new novel, Joyland, only in a print edition, the Wall Street Journal reported.
King has kept the book's digital rights, saying, "I have no plans for a digital version. Maybe at some point, but in the meantime, let people stir their sticks and go to an actual bookstore rather than a digital one."
King has supported independent bookstores before. In 1994, he famously did an independent bookstore tour from coast to coast, traveling via motorcycle, for his novel Insomnia.
Joyland will be published in paperback June 4 by Hard Case Crime, an independent publisher that published King's The Colorado Kid in 2005. "Part of the reason he publishes with us is to support our authors but I also think he enjoys the pulp presentation," Hard Case Crime owner Charles Ardai told the Journal.
In another interesting King twist, this fall Scribner is publishing Doctor Sleep, a sequel to The Shining. In the meantime, Anchor Books is publishing two new editions of The Shining, each of which will include an excerpt from Doctor Sleep. In an apparent tip of the hat to its publishing competitor, Scribner will likely mention The Shining in ads for Doctor Sleep.
Amazon will be called back to give further evidence to members of the British Parliament "to clarify how its activities in the U.K. justify its low corporate income tax bill," Reuters reported, noting that during the past six years, Amazon has paid approximately $9 million in income tax on more than $23 billion of sales to British clients.
The online retailer claims that since it operates a single European business out of Luxembourg--which has lower tax rates than the U.K.--it should pay tax there. But Reuters said it had accumulated evidence from various sources that "suggests the U.K. unit has a high degree of autonomy, with local managers deciding on many aspects of its business" and that while Amazon "depicts itself as a virtual business, its structure may not be so different from its bricks-and-mortar rivals."
Bryan Roberts, an expert who advises many Amazon suppliers, said Amazon.co.uk "is a British business in that 99% of the people who are responsible for merchandising, buying, the online activity, fulfillment, are based in Slough."
Member of Parliament Margaret Hodge told Reuters she plans to recall Amazon representatives to testify before the Public Accounts Committee, which she chairs, and clarify written evidence and witness testimony the firm gave last November. "We need to very urgently call back Amazon to question them around what you've uncovered; to look at that in relation to what they actually told us when they gave evidence to us and of course if they were economical with the truth or not totally honest in their evidence to us last time, that is a very serious thing," she said.
MP Nick Smith, who also sits on the committee, added: "We will take a much closer look at their internal financial arrangements. Whilst they will be shown every courtesy, Amazon had better put on their tin hats."
Effective June 1, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt is changing retail payment terms (exclusive of distribution centers) from net 30 days from date of invoice to net 90 days from date of invoice.
Laurie Brown, senior v-p of sales and marketing, commented: "Recognizing that books must stay on shelves to allow for store promotions and discovery by readers, HMH is supporting this effort with enhanced payment terms for our retail bookselling partners."
Effective June 3, Cary Goldstein is joining the Simon & Schuster imprint of S&S as v-p, executive director of publicity and senior editor. He was formerly publisher of Twelve at Hachette Book Group and earlier was director of publicity there. Before joining Twelve in 2006, he was associate director of publicity and director of web publicity at Farrar, Straus & Giroux, where he began his career as an intern in 1996. He has also been senior publicist at Basic Books, director of National Poetry Month for the Academy of American Poets and a buyer and features editor at BarnesandNoble.com. He is currently an adjunct professor in the MFA writing program at Columbia University.
Goldstein is working again with Jonathan Karp, S&S publisher, who was the founding publisher at Twelve.
In a related change, S&S director of publicity Tracey Guest is leaving the company on May 31. She joined S&S in 1998 and became director of publicity in 2004. Earlier, she worked at Dutton/Plume.
Some 98% of World Book Night U.S. givers who responded to a survey gave their WBN experience a good or excellent rating. In just five days, almost 9,000 givers, representing more than a third of all givers, took the survey, which inquired about everything from the application process to bookstore or library interaction.
The first of short title-specific videos are up on WBN's YouTube channel, with photos and giver testimonials. Also featured is Lenny Kaye's original, official WBN song, performed at the Union Square Barnes & Noble in New York City on April 22. (The lyrics will be made into a downloadable poster for everyone soon.)
WBN is restating its media market reach for the second World Book Night U.S. to 135 million, up 5 million from the earlier estimate. Executive director Carl Lennertz commented: "We added several online news items that weren't picked up by the Cision report, including WSJ.com, NewYorker.com, NPR.com and Reuters. It's cool that we can now say we quadrupled the impact of the free media from last year."
Bernard Waber, the creator of Ira Sleeps Over and Lyle the Crocodile, died on May 16. He was 91 years old. In 2010, after more than a decade, Waber brought back Lyle the Crocodile in Lyle Walks the Dogs. Waber, who had suffered from macular degeneration (which made it hard for him to see details), partnered with the person to whom he dedicated his first book starring the famous green hero, The House on East 88th Street (1961)--his daughter, Paulis Waber. This photo of father and daughter appears courtesy of Scott Magoon, who designed the book for Houghton Mifflin. To Lyle's many fans, the spirit of Bernard Waber will forever live on East 88th Street in New York City.
|photo: Katherine Warde and Marcus Mayer/Addendum Books|
Last Thursday, Addendum Books for Young Adults and Children, St. Paul, Minn., hosted the publication party for I'm with Stupid by Geoff Herbach (Sourcebooks Fire), the third book in the Felton Reinstein trilogy. (The second in the trilogy, Nothing Special, just won a Minnesota Book Award.) Held at Dr. Chocolate's Chocolate Chateau, the party featured seven other authors who had submitted "stupid" stories to the blog I'm with Stupid, who read their own short stories. Interspersed were songs by Goth Mother, an a cappella cover band that includes Herbach's wife, Stephanie Wilbur Ash. The store set up a photo booth with props for guests to snap photos, and a chalkboard for them write notes to Herbach. The author also signed copies of his book.
The Sioux City Journal profiled three bookstores in the Sioux City, Iowa, area, all of which use hybrid bookstore models.
In Sioux City, Book People has a travel agency in the back of the store, a legacy of Chriss Camenzend, who in 2003 bought the store, which was founded in 1977, and has worked in the travel business more than 40 years. "It was one of my favorite places to shop," she told the paper. "I just didn't want to see it close after that many years."
|Photo: Ron Flewelling|
In Cherokee, Iowa, the Book Vine, which opened in 2007, features wine from around the world. Owner Mollie Loughlin commented: "We can't compete with the Barnes & Nobles of the world. We have to create our own niche." The Book Vine has "high ceilings, a fireplace and sliding ladder [that] give the 2,000-square-foot store a distinct ambiance, providing a quiet place to read," the paper wrote. "To get customers to linger a little longer, Loughlin stocks wine accessories, stationery, a wide array of jewelry and other novelty items throughout the store."
In Sheldon, Iowa, Sara Beahler and her husband opened Prairie Moon Books in 2007. Last year, the couple bought a struggling clothing store and moved the bookstore and coffee bar into the clothing store's building. As if those weren't enough businesses, they also opened a bicycle shop in the basement. The small retail empire is now called Contents.
Beahler said customer service is the store's most important offering: "We remember what book we sold you a week ago. We know what to recommend. You don't get that service when you shop online or shop at the big-box stores."
|Author Craig Johnson at BookPeople, Austin, Tex.|
In a thoughtful piece in the Huffington Post, author Matthew Dicks outlined the problem of readers who go to an author event, expecting, for example, to hear the author speak about writing and his life, but find that the author reads for 45 minutes from his book and says little else.
Thus Dicks wrote, "I would like to propose breaking the author appearance down into four distinct categories and advertise all future events using these categories. I want to make it clear to readers about what they should expect when they arrive to hear an author speak. I believe that this could go a long way in improving overall customer satisfaction and increasing the size of our audiences."
Dicks suggests the categories would be signing, reading, book talk or author talk, and provides successful examples for each, along with advice for authors and booksellers.
This year's Global Market Forum at BookExpo America (May 30–June 1) focuses on Mexico, a place with deep roots in New York City. A new wave of regionally focused restaurants and bars has developed alongside the ever-changing cultural scene, from modern Mexican dance to Lucha Libre art. Here, DK Eyewitness Travel Guides and DK travel author AnneLise Sorensen brings you their top 10 places to enjoy a taste of Mexico in New York City:
1. La Biblioteca de Tequila (Tequila Library; 622 Third Ave. at 40th St.)
Run your eyes down the list of 400 tequilas, and you'll feel tipsy without taking a sip. Navigate the menu at this lively bar with a tequila tasting flight, which explores the different aging and distillation techniques. If you're going to be in town a couple of days before or after BEA, stop by the Meet the Maker on Tuesday nights, where you can mingle with distillery ambassadors while sampling their wares. Or, wind down after a day at the Javits with La Biblioteca's happy hour (Tues.–Fri., 5–8 p.m.).
2. Mexican Cultural Institute of NYC (27 E. 39th St.)
With a monthly calendar that covers classic and contemporary culture, music, cuisine and art, the Mexican Cultural Institute offers everything from bold paintings of ancient Aztec art crossed with pop-culture imagery, to swinging Mexican mariachi concerts and lectures by up-and-coming authors. Don't forget to check out the art at their on-site Galeria Octavia Paz.
3. Dzul Dance Company (performances around New York)
Mexico meets Martha Graham at the innovative Dzul Dance, where choreographer and lead dancer Javier Dzul draws inspiration from his Maya tribal community in Mexico. Dzul leads performers through ritual and progressive dance, from primal moves to aerial arts that explore indigenous culture. Dzul has trained with contortionists--and it shows. Dance critics have applauded his "acrobatic wizardry," and after watching a show, you'll understand Dzul's mission to "transform bodies into airborne forces... to break physical and political boundaries."
4. Empellón Taqueria (105 First Ave., at 6th St.)
After subsisting on Javits fast food, revive yourself at Empellón Taqueria in the West Village or its sibling, Empellón Cocina, in the East Village. Chef Alex Stupak, voted a Best New Chef 2013 by Food & Wine, blends classic and contemporary in dishes such as lamb sweetbreads with pumpkin seeds and a soup of quail egg and refried beans. For margaritas, try the spicy ¿Por Que No?, made with pineapple, cilantro and serrano peppers.
5. El Museo del Barrio (1230 Fifth Ave., at 104th St.)
El Museo del Barrio, New York City's premier museum of Latino arts and culture, covers culture from Mexico and the Caribbean to Tierra del Fuego, and excels at modern and contemporary art. The current exhibit Presencia features unusual interpretations of Lucha Libre wrestlers, ethereal self-portraits made with charcoal powder, and much more. Plus, you can refuel over tangy ceviche and empanadas at El Café and pick up choice gifts, like colorful artisan earrings, at La Tienda to bring home.
6. Stroll the Streets in East Harlem/El Barrio/Spanish Harlem
Step off the subway in Spanish Harlem, and, except for the yellow New York City cabs whizzing by, you might think you're in Mexico City. Pork and lengua (beef tongue) sizzle on open grills while Mexican pop music competes with Spanglish and Nuyorican street-corner conversations, gestures and all. Try one of the superb El Museo del Barrio walking tours (Sat. 11:30 a.m.–1:30 p.m.), which showcases the barrio's diversity, including the Modesto Flores Community Garden, the Spirit of East Harlem mural, the Graffiti Hall of Fame and more.
7. Fonda (437 7th Ave., Brooklyn, and 40 Ave. B, East Village)
West Coasters often bemoan the lack of good Mexican food in New York City. They used to have a point. But places like Fonda are challenging SoCal, with dishes like braised duck folded into warm tortillas, fragrant shrimp enchiladas and juicy chicken in a banana leaf, topped with tomato-achiote salsa, which has this adorable name: Marco Pollo. Top off the meal with one of the fresh and potent margaritas flavored with hibiscus and watermelon.
8. Super Tacos (96th St. at Broadway, 917-837-0866)
Follow your nose to Mexican food trucks around New York, including Super Tacos Sobre Ruedas ("On Wheels"), which rolls daily into the Upper West Side. The tacos are as they should be--simple. Grilled meats are heaped onto two corn tortillas and sprinkled with chopped onions and cilantro. Eating them is simple, too: Wolf them down at the dented, stainless steel bar that's lit by a buzzing fluorescent light. The roast pork and barbacoa chicken--tender and juicy--are excellent, as are the nopales, roasted prickly pear cactus that adds a sticky tang to the meal.
9. Mano a Mano: Mexican Culture Without Borders (126 Saint Felix St., Brooklyn)
Mano a Mano (Hand in Hand) is an apt name for this superb nonprofit cultural center that celebrates Mexico, from traditional concerts to Day of the Dead processions. It also offers an array of classes, including ballet folklorico; Son Jorocho, a blend of Spanish and African music; and the indigenous Nahuatl language, which has given us many words, including coyote (from coyotl) and, perhaps most sweetly, chocolate (xocolatl).
10. Tortilleria Nixtamal (104-05 47th Ave., Queens)
For many, Mexican cuisine is only as good as the tortilla it's wrapped in. For the best in New York City, head to this small storefront and factory in Queens, one of the only spots that produce handcrafted tortilla from masa, "just as the Aztec intended." Plus, the prices are nice--it's $3 for tamales and tacos. Buen provecho.
The Last Camellia by Sarah Jio (Penguin/Plume) explores a mystery hidden in the gardens on an old English country estate.
This morning on MSNBC's Morning Joe: Glenn Hubbard and Tim Kane, authors of Balance: The Economics of Great Powers from Ancient Rome to Modern America (Simon & Schuster, $28, 9781476700250).
Today on Rachael Ray: Guy Fieri, co-author of Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives: The Funky Finds in Flavortown: America's Classic Joints and Killer Comfort Food (Morrow, $21.99, 9780062244659).
Today on Dr. Oz: Jorge Cruise, author of The 100: Count ONLY Sugar Calories and Lose Up to 18 Lbs. in 2 Weeks (Morrow, $25.99, 9780062227072).
Today on MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell Reports: Olympia Snowe, author of Fighting for Common Ground: How We Can Fix the Stalemate in Congress (Weinstein, $26, 9781602862173). She will also appear today on Tavis Smiley and tomorrow on NPR's Diane Rehm Show and BBC World News America.
Today on MSNBC's the Cycle: Pamela Ryckman, author of Stiletto Network: Inside the Women's Power Circles That Are Changing the Face of Business (AMACOM, $22.95, 9780814432532).
Today on NPR's Diane Rehm Show: Jessica Buchanan and Erik Landemalm, co-authors of Impossible Odds: The Kidnapping of Jessica Buchanan and Her Dramatic Rescue by SEAL Team Six (Atria, $26, 9781476725161).
Today on Katie: Ian K. Smith, author of Shred: The Revolutionary Diet: 6 Weeks 4 Inches 2 Sizes (St. Martin's Press, $24.99, 9781250035868).
Also on Katie: Sherri Shepherd, co-author of Plan D: How to Lose Weight and Beat Diabetes (Even If You Don't Have It) (It Books, $25.99, 9780062226242). She will also appear on the View.
Tomorrow morning on Good Morning America: Khaled Hosseini, author of And the Mountains Echoed (Riverhead, $28.95, 9781594631764). He will also appear on Tavis Smiley.
Tomorrow morning on CBS This Morning: Phil Jackson, co-author of Eleven Rings: The Soul of Success (Penguin Press, $27.95, 9781594205118). He will also appear on the O'Reilly Factor and the Daily Show.
Tomorrow on CBS's Inside Edition: Lyssa Chapman, co-author of Walking on Eggshells: Discovering Strength and Courage Amid Chaos (Howard, $24.99, 9781451696080).
Tomorrow on the Colbert Report: Noah Feldman, author of Cool War: The Future of Global Competition (Random House, $26, 9780812992748).
Winners of the 2012 Nebula Awards, sponsored by the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America, are:
Novel: 2312 by Kim Stanley Robinson (Orbit)
Novella: After the Fall, Before the Fall, During the Fall by Nancy Kress (Tachyon)
Novellette: "Close Encounters" by Andy Duncan (The Pottawatomie Giant & Other Stories)
Short Story: "Immersion" by Aliette de Bodard (Clarkesworld 6/12)
Ray Bradbury Award for Outstanding Dramatic Presentation: Beasts of the Southern Wild, directed by Benh Zeitlin, written by Benh Zeitlin and Lucy Abilar (Journeyman/Cinereach/Court 13/Fox Searchlight)
Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy Book: Fair Coin by E.C. Myers (Pyr)
2011 Damon Knight Grand Master Award: Gene Wolfe
Solstice Award: Carl Sagan and Ginjer Buchanan
Kevin O'Donnell Jr. Service to SFWA Award: Michael H. Payne
The Passage of Power by Robert Caro (Knopf) has won the inaugural Plutarch Award for the best biography of 2102. The award is voted on by members of Biographers International Organization from a list of nominees selected by a committee of members of the craft. The finalists were:
Finalists for the 25th annual Benjamin Franklin Awards, sponsored by the Independent Book Publishers Association, have been selected. See the three finalists in each of the 55 categories here. Winners will be announced at the Benjamin Franklin Awards ceremony on Wednesday, May 29, at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in New York City on the eve of BEA.
Matthew Simmons has worked at the University Book Store in Seattle, Wash., for more than a decade. He has an MFA in Creative Writing from Warren Wilson College in North Carolina, and his work has appeared in McSweeney's and Monkey Bicycle. Tomorrow, Dark Coast Press will publish his first collection of short stories, called Happy Rock. (The launch party will be held at Richard Hugo House a week from tomorrow, on Tuesday, May 28, which also happens to be Simmons's 40th birthday.)
"I'd always written, but never seriously," said Simmons, who moved to Seattle in 2000. "It wasn't until I worked in a bookstore and spent enough time around authors and writing, and started reading more and more, that I discovered how to take things I'd always written and turn them into stories."
As he delved more deeply into the craft of writing fiction, Simmons began to appreciate stories and novels in another light. He has found the work of Nicholson Baker, especially the novel Mezzanine, "more and more interesting" each time he re-examines it. Mark Richard's short story "Strays," from the collection The Ice at the Bottom of the World, is an object of fascination. "I go back to that all the time. I've sat down and re-typed it."
Simmons also took something of an unusual path to getting an MFA--he did not start his residency at Warren Wilson until 2006, about five years after he began publishing stories. He received his MFA in 2008, and from there returned to the University Book Store. Many of the stories in Happy Rock, in fact, were written in 2008, and a few of them have origins going back as far as 10 years.
"It's been a long process," said Simmons, who makes a point to write every morning before work. "I'll write half of something and then start on something else. And then the rest of the story will present itself to me, and I'll finish it."
The stories in Happy Rock all take place in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, where Simmons grew up. Although the stories do not feature recurring characters or intertwining storylines, they are connected by both a fabulist sensibility and a focus on characters who are, in some ways, outsiders.
"I'm interested in how difficult it can be to communicate, to connect with people," explained Simmons. "People often talk to each other without a lot of success. A lot of the characters in Happy Rock are connected in that way. It's difficult to get your point across; writing is one of the ways that I try to do that."
Simmons, in his own words, came to reading late. His interest was piqued by choose-your-own-adventure books, then he moved on to novels based on the role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons, and from there to the stories of Douglas Adams and Kurt Vonnegut. Vonnegut's work led him to the Beats, and the Beats to William S. Burroughs.
Since then, his knowledge of books has continued to expand. Asked about authors that he admires in particular, Simmons offered up a long list, including Amy Hempel, Matt Bell, Ben Marcus, Amy Bender and Sam Lipsyte, along with Baker and Richard, before stopping to reflect. "You work long enough at a bookstore and you suddenly find you have 40 favorites," he said. "There are so many books, and so many of them are so great." --Alex Mutter
The Faraway Nearby by Rebecca Solnit (Viking, $25.95 hardcover, 9780670025961, June 13, 2013)
In The Faraway Nearby, Rebecca Solnit (A Field Guide to Getting Lost) takes what could have been a conventional memoir about an adult child confronting the advancing dementia of a mother with whom she's had a troubled relationship and turns it into a collection of impressive essays on empathy and the power of stories. This book overflows with Solnit's characteristically intriguing juxtapositions of ideas, drawn from a deep well of learning on a staggering range of topics then filtered through the prism of her broad associative intelligence.
The improbable thread that unites these essays is the delivery of 100 pounds of apricots from a tree at her mother's home in the midst of her prolonged struggle with Alzheimer's disease. Like Proust's madeleine, the fruit "became a catalyst that made the chaos of that era come together as a story of sorts." Solnit's effort to deal with that fruitful overabundance propels her into a consideration of subjects that range from climate change to leprosy to cannibalism, many of them related at least obliquely to considering "the capacity to feel what you do not literally feel."
Disclosing that Solnit's essays consider figures as diverse as Mary Shelley, Che Guevara and Siddhartha Gautama only begins to hint at the breadth of her knowledge, presented in a style that's understated, not ostentatious. Along with the apricots and the recurring story of her fraught relationship with her mother, the myths of Frankenstein and the labyrinth echo through several of the pieces.
Solnit excels at aphoristic writing that makes quoting her irresistible: "Books are solitudes in which we meet" runs one such observation. "Difficulty is always a school, though learning is optional" is another. Yet there's an unaffected quality to her prose that's always deployed in the service of telling a good story. And though, like all essayists, Solnit concedes she faces "the temptation of a neat ending," these pieces flow into and inform each other rather than present themselves as self-contained packages.
Solnit describes The Faraway Nearby as "the history of an emergency and the stories that kept me company then." The pain she experienced as her mother's condition deteriorated was all too real, but it requires a writer of her gifts to turn that suffering into art. --Harvey Freedenberg
Shelf Talker: Solnit's mother's struggle with Alzheimer's disease inspires an intelligent collection of essays on the themes of empathy and the power of stories.