Shelf Awareness for Monday, May 1, 2006

Harper Voyager: Dragon Rider (Soulbound Saga #1) by Taran Matharu

Page Street YA: The Final Curse of Ophelia Cray by Christine Calella

HarperOne: I Finally Bought Some Jordans: Essays by Michael Arceneaux

Tor Nightfire: Ghost Station by S.A. Barnes

Severn River Publishing: Covert Action (Command and Control #5) by J.R. Olson and David Bruns

Scholastic Press: Heroes: A Novel of Pearl Harbor by Alan Gratz

Quotation of the Day

Chica Lit's Big Surprise

"The publishing industry expected us to be writing tales of oppression and exile and misery and all this sort of stuff they were used to, and instead we were writing legitimately what our lives are like."--Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez, author of The Dirty Girls Social Club and the new Make Him Look Good in an Arizona Republic feature on hot chica lit.

HarperOne: Be a Revolution: How Everyday People Are Fighting Oppression and Changing the World--And How You Can, Too by Ijeoma Oluo


Latte Lit?: Starbucks to Sell Books, May 'Self-Publish'

After successfully promoting music CDs and the new movie Akeelah and the Bee in its stores, Starbucks is signing an agreement today with the William Morris Agency "to find more movie and book projects to market," according to today's New York Times. The giant coffee retailer plans to offer one book this year.

Chairman Howard Schultz emphasized that the company wants to sell books, movies and music to extend the brand and add to the Starbucks experience. "It's more than just coffee, it's human connection," he told the paper. "In terms of content, the linkage is tied to that aspiration. We want to add texture to the brand, and value to the experience."

As for particular projects, Starbucks is "looking for quality and substance," Schultz continued. "We want to see our name associated with the kind of music, literature and movies that people will say, 'I'm glad Starbucks brought this to the marketplace.' "

The company is also considering what Schultz called self-publishing. He commented, "I want to bring books to the marketplace that perhaps can't be found." Oddly his example was The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini, the long-running bestseller that, of course, has had no problem finding its market.

In any case, the impetus for the move came in part from a deluge of material from film distributors after the promotion of Akeelah and the Bee. In 2004 Starbucks had its biggest success in music promotion with the Ray Charles album Genius Loves Company, which sold 775,000 copies.

Harpervia: Behind You Is the Sea by Susan Muaddi Darraj

Notes: Galbraith Dies; Texas Store Opens; Ross on Radio

John Kenneth Galbraith, the economist, Harvard professor, Presidential advisor and author of 33 books, died on Saturday at age 97. His most influential book was The Affluent Society, published in 1958 (Mariner, $15, 0395925002), which was "one of those rare works that forces a nation to re-examine its values," as the New York Times put it. In his 1996 title, The Good Society, Galbraith wrote that since the publication of The Affluent Society, matters had only worsened and that the U.S. is even more "a democracy of the fortunate."


Owned by David Feagin, the Texas Store in Bullard, Tex., held its grand opening this past Saturday, the Jacksonville Daily Progress reported. With an emphasis on all things Texas, the store stocks a range of discounted new and used books as well as gift items like polished-stone wind chimes, tile paintings, petrified bookends, jewelry and belt buckles. The café hosts exhibits of artists' works. In 2001, Feagin bought the building in which the store is located and renovated it. He also keeps horses and has a ranch.

The Texas Store is located at 51559 US Highway 69 N., Bullard, Tex. 75757.


The Boston Globe profiles Ifeanyi A. Menkiti, the poet, Wellesley philosophy professor and new owner of the Grolier Poetry Book Shop in Cambridge, Mass. Incidentally the store has been closed for inventory but will reopen this Friday, May 5, "with a celebration including readings from the work of Nigerian poet Christopher Okigbo," the paper added.


Andy Ross, intrepid owner of Cody's Books, which now has three stores in Berkeley and San Francisco, Calif., appeared on Michael Feldman's NPR show What D'you Know? yesterday. Ross talked for 20 minutes about how he bought Cody's, the pipe bomb found in the store during the Satanic Verses trouble, the previous owners' display of Howl when it was banned, the books indies have made, including titles by Tom Robbins and Margaret Atwood. The show should be available online soon.


Happy birthday to Aliens & Alibis, Columbia, S.C., which opened last May 1 (Shelf Awareness, August 8). The store, which specializes in sci-fi, fantasy and mystery, is thanking customers with a cake and 10% store-wide discount this coming Saturday, May 6. Deb Andolino, who owns the store with her son, Gary McCammon, said that "the most important thing we've learned is to network with other booksellers. They've 'been there' in most cases and can help us avoid pitfalls. There's a great group of mystery booksellers (Independent Mystery Booksellers Association) and another of SF booksellers who have been very supportive and very patient with all our questions. The Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance has also been there when we've needed advice--or just affirmation that we're heading in the right direction. At the same time, we have learned to trust our instincts about our store and our customers. Some things that work for other stores aren't the best idea for ours."


As more businesses and residents are drawn to the Pearl District area around Powell's Books' flagship store in Portland, Ore., foot traffic has increased at the store and staff finds more amenities nearby, the Portland Tribune reported.


In a wide-ranging interview about's strategy, Brian McBride, managing director of Amazon's U.K. operations, told the Telegraph that "Amazon's deal to host the Waterstone's website is 'up in the air' due to the uncertainty surrounding the bookstore's future." Founder Tim Waterstone is leading a group that has made an offer to buy the bookseller.

University of California Press: The Accidental Ecosystem: People and Wildlife in American Cities by Peter S. Alagona

Publicity: The Good, the Bad, the Ugly

As if The Da Vinci Code needed any more publicity, negative or otherwise, now one of the leaders of the Vatican's doctrinal office has urged Roman Catholics to boycott the movie, which opens on May 19. According to Reuters, Archbishop Angelo Amato said that the book is "full of calumnies, offenses and historical and theological errors regarding Jesus, the Gospels and the church." He added that if "such lies had been directed at the Koran or the Holocaust, they would have justly provoked a world uprising."

Of course, the U.K. lawsuit against Dan Brown's publisher proved again that there may be no such thing as negative publicity.


In another case of the lovely effect of negative publicity, Little, Brown's announcement on Thursday that it is recalling Kaavya Viswanathan's How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild, and Got a Life has spurred demand for the title. On, it was in or just behind the top 10 bestsellers over the weekend. On eBay, copies of the $21.95 book were going for as much as $100.

The flap hasn't hurt the sales of Megan McCafferty's "borrowed" titles either. Bob Wietrak, v-p for merchandising at Barnes & Noble, told the New York Times that sales of McCafferty's Sloppy Firsts would likely be up 20% last week over the previous week. And her new book, Charmed Thirds, is expected to lead a more charmed life than could have been foreseen just 10 days ago.

Oh and like check out Meghan Daum's totally brilliant sendup of the controversy in the Los Angeles Times, which starts off, "Kaavya Viswanathan has had a really, really bad week. I don't mean the kind of bad week where you're totally PMSing and then your boyfriend dumps you for some unthreatening slut who takes remedial chemistry. I'm talking really bad."


Media and Movies

Media Heat: Bookselling Wizard Oz on Oprah

Today on Imus in the Morning, New York Times reporter Bill Carter talks about his new book, Desperate Networks (Doubleday, $26.95, 0385514409), about how networks have changed in the past few years. Carter also appears on NPR's Fresh Air today.


This morning the Today Show hooks up with a range of authors:

  • Deanna Frazier, author of Dating 101: The Second, Third, or Fourth Time Around (Brown Books, $14.95, 1933285184) about dating again after age 45.
  • Danica Patrick, driver-author of Danica: Crossing the Line (Fireside, $23.95, 0743298144).
  • James Patterson kicks off publicity for Beach Road (Little, Brown, $27.95, 0316159786), which he wrote with Peter de Jonge.


Today in Good Morning America's sights: Clark Kent Ervin, author of Open Target: Where America Is Vulnerable to Attack (Palgrave Macmillan, $24.95, 1403972885). He's also on ABC Nightline tonight.


It's all about You! Today Oprah has a new segment with Drs. Michael F. Roizen and Mehmet Oz, authors of You, The Owner's Manual: An Insider's Guide to the Body That Will Make You Healthier and Younger (HarperResource, $24.95, 0060765313).


Tonight on the Tonight Show Jay Leno spars with Oscar de la Hoya, author of Super Oscar (S&S, $15.95, 1416906118).


Tonight on the Late Show with David Letterman, Tom Hanks starts major PR for the movie The Da Vinci Code, which opens May 19.

Books & Authors

Prizes: The Edgar Winners

Sponsored by the Mystery Writers of America, the Edgars were celebrated at a banquet in New York on Thursday and included the following book awards:

  • Best Novel: Citizen Vince by Jess Walter (Regan Books)
  • Best First Novel by an American Author: Officer Down by Theresa Schwegel (St. Martin's Minotaur)
  • Best Paperback Original: Girl in the Glass by Jeffrey Ford (Dark Alley)
  • Best Critical/Biographical: Girl Sleuth: Nancy Drew and the Women Who Created Her by Melanie Rehak (Harcourt)
  • Best Fact Crime: Rescue Artist: A True Story of Art, Thieves, and the Hunt for a Missing Masterpiece by Edward Dolnick (HarperCollins)
  • Best Short Story: "The Catch" in Greatest Hits by James W. Hall (Carroll & Graf)
  • Best Young Adult: Last Shot by John Feinstein (Knopf Books for Young Readers)
  • Best Juvenile: The Boys of San Joaquin by D. James Smith (Simon & Schuster Children's Books)

In addition, Black Orchid Bookshop, the New York City store owned by Bonnie Claeson and Joe Guglielmelli, won a Raven, and Dark Angel by Karen Harper (MIRA Books) won the Simon & Schuster-Mary Higgins Clark Award.

For the full list of nominees and awards, go the MWA Web site.

Book Sense: May We Recommend

From last week's Book Sense bestseller lists, available at, here are the recommended titles, which are also Book Sense Picks:


Catbird by Stephen March (Permanent Press, $26, 1579621260). "This story of a musician struggling in the face of a failed marriage and his father's suicide is a wonderfully unsettling story about loss and redemption."--Pam White, Skyland Books, West Jefferson, N.C.

Secret Girl: A Memoir
by Molly Bruce Jacobs (St. Martin's, $22.95, 0312320949). "Jacobs' memoir of meeting her 'secret' younger sister, born with hydrocephalus and hidden away in mental institutions by her parents for over 30 years, is nothing short of totally brave, heartbreakingly honest, and beautifully written. An incredible story of loss and healing."--Debby Creasy, Booksandcoffee, Dewey Beach, Del.


A Rose for the Crown by Anne Easter Smith (Touchstone, $16.95, 0743276876). "Beginning from one tiny thread--the mention of a woman's name in the financial ledgers of Richard, Duke of Gloucester--Smith has woven a whole tapestry of the relationship between an engaging mistress and a notorious king. Details gleaned from exhaustive research, along with fictional embellishments make this love story one that shines a different light on the rocky reign of King Richard III."--Janice Johnson, The Bookery, Ephrata, Wash.

For Young Adults

Dairy Queen by Catherine Gilbert Murdock (Houghton Mifflin, $16, 0618683070). "Are you ready for a refreshing, funny, and upbeat look at a 15-year-old girl's unforgettable summer? D.J. Schwenk can play football, milk cows, flunk English, and still like herself. A feel-good young adult novel--and it's about time!"--Karen Briggs, Great Northern Books and Hobbies, Oscoda, Mich.

A Brief Chapter in My Impossible Life
by Dana Reinhardt (Wendy Lamb Books, $15.95, 0385746989). "Sixteen-year-old Simone really does seem to have a nice, normal life. However, when her birth mother wants to squeeze in and get to know her only daughter, she doesn't think that there's any room. A change of heart changes her life as she gets to know more about her biological family and more about what the meaning of being a 'family' really is."--Becca Jones, Joseph-Beth Booksellers, Lyndhurst, Ohio

[Many thanks to Book Sense and the ABA!]

Deeper Understanding

Making Information Pay: POD and Ultra Short Runs

Several speakers at BISG's Making Information Pay seminar last Thursday offered examples of how the growth of the Internet and technological advances in printing have opened markets for deep backlist and titles with small but steady sales--in line with Long Tail theory, discussed here on Friday. As J. Kirby Best, CEO of Lightning Source, the print on demand company owned by Ingram, put it, "Lightning is living the Long Tail now." And rather than cannibalizing the market, POD is expanding the market, he emphasized.

Started in 1997, Lightning has printed more than 27 million books "one at a time." It now has some 350,000 titles in its digital library, 12 printing "lines," 4,200 publishing partners and is manufacturing more than a million books a month. The average print run, Best said, is "1.8 copies." Some 81% of the books have retail prices between $9 and $25.99.

Publishers set the retail price and on a typical $24.95 title, after the 55% wholesale discount and printing cost of about $3.50, $7.73 is remitted to the publisher. "It's cheaper to print with Donnelly," Best acknowledged. "But then on most of these titles, the publisher would miss the sale."

Best estimated that about 720,000 books out of some 1.1 million surveyed "fit our current manufacturing capabilities." Trim size, binding type, page counts and other reasons make some titles bad fits although as technology improves, that changes. Best noted that "Harry Potter and some other titles will always be printed offset."

Traditional publishers, including Perseus, Cambridge, Wiley, HarperCollins and Simon & Schuster, make up 59% of customers, while "author services," including iUniverse, Lulu and PublishAmerica, represent 38% of users. What Best called "content aggregators" make up the other 3%, and "are getting to be quite large."

Lightning's distribution partners in the U.S. include, Baker & Taylor, Barnes & Noble, Holt Jackson, Matthews Medical, NACSCORP and, of course, Ingram. With Ingram, Lightning has developed what it calls the print to order (PTO) program, which solves the longtime problem of wholesaler inventory showing only a copy or two of a POD title in stock without recognizing it as a title capable of being printed quickly. Under the PTO system, Ingram shows the title in inventory in larger quantities and Lightning agrees that if an order comes in before 6 p.m., it will ship it complete to Ingram before 4:30 a.m. "It's been an exciting program, and we can see dramatic results," Best said. In 2005, PTO grew 110%.

Now that a federal appellate court has thrown out the patent suit against Lightning Source and Ingram filed by On Demand Machine Corp., Lightning Source intends to add facilities in the U.S. and abroad "where needed."


Ian Bradie, press distribution director of Cambridge University Press, outlined the press's use of ultra shortrun digital printing (USR), which differs slightly from POD in that POD is usually done to fulfill an order while USR is "more speculative, in anticipation of orders," as Bradie put it.

When the press began USR in 1998, it had some 13,500 academic titles. About 8,200 of them sold fewer than 100 copies a year, and 2,000 of those sold fewer than 10. The press published 1,500 new titles a year and discontinued about 1,300. Each year the press received orders worth $2 million for discontinued titles, "orders for books that were marketed and sold, but couldn't be filled."

Now, in the eighth year of USR, the press has some 22,000 titles in print, 7,000 of which are in the USR program. The press has "very few" discontinued titles; most books that used to be discontinued have become good candidates for USR. Cambridge adds about 1,700 titles a year to the program.

From 1998 to 2005, the press earned some $30 million in extra sales from the program; about 250,000 units with a sales value of $7.5 million were printed last year. By a 55-to-45 ratio, hardcovers outnumber paperbacks.

Books with 250-300 copies in annual sales are "eligible" for the program, Bradie said. Sometimes these titles are hardcovers for which a traditional paperback edition won't work or hardcovers whose sales don't financially justify a traditional reprinting. In other cases, in what Bradie called "the Lazarus approach," the press revives "an old paper ISBN." The press excludes books with color plates, extensive half-tones or with more than 700 pages from the USR program, but quality is "always improving" and "we're pushing boundaries." Prices are dictated by page length since the production cost is "solely a function of the number of pages," Bradie said. "We typically break even at seven copies." The process from an "editor's nomination" to "program-ready" usually takes three months.

Stock can be ordered, printed and shipped and received within seven days and is frequently much less than that. The program has a minimum reprint quantity of one.

Bradie emphasized that there are significant "operating challenges" that come with dealing with "hundreds of line items with just a few copies each" in a shipping carton rather than the usual "huge amounts of relatively few titles." Receiving titles is "a nightmare to deal with." The press has adapted to this in part by converting a returns line at its warehouse to receiving. In addition, the press has changed shelving. Books printed in the traditional way are still shelved horizontally in relatively large piles while USR titles are shelved vertically, which allows for more titles per shelf.

"We're still feeling our way," Bradie said. Nevertheless, "We've proven the viability of this. Very substantial new income can be mined at low cost with a healthy and durable bottom line profit. There are lower overheads, lower risk with minimal inventory held, but there are also integration challenges." Oh, and in other good news, returns are just about nonexistent.

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