Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, May 3, 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


Notes: No Outsourcing for Brown Bookstore

The Brown Bookstore will not be outsourced by Brown University.

Yesterday, according to the New England Booksellers Association, the university, in Providence, R.I., issued a "memorandum" that indicated the bookstore review committee has ended plans to lease out the store. "[T]he Administration has decided that the Bookstore will continue to operate as an independent store," the memo said, adding that the strong campaign supporting the bookstore in its current form impressed upon the committee "that there is strong campus community support for maintaining the independence of the Brown Bookstore."

In the end, NEBA said, the committee agreed that the decision wasn't just about two competing economic models, both "viable" options, but something deeper, rooted in character: "the committee also believes Brown's values, culture and customers can be best represented and successfully served at this time in a self-operated store."

For its part, the Save the Bookstore Coalition, which mounted a strong defense of the store, wrote to its supporters: "With your help, we have become the first institution among our peers to prevent our university bookstore from being outsourced to an outside vendor. This is no small accomplishment, and we could have never done this without all of your support. Together, we have ensured that the Brown Bookstore will continue to serve the Providence community as an independent retailer."


Henriette D. Avram, credited with "developing the automated cataloging system that rendered printed cards obsolete," as the New York Times put it, died on April 22. She was 86.

After learning computer programming and data processing, Avram, who was not a librarian by training, joined the Library of Congress in 1965 and headed the MARC (machine readable cataloging) project. By 1969, the Library began sending bibliographic records on tapes to libraries. In 1971, Marc became the national standard for electronic cataloging, and in 1973 it became the international standard.

Librarian of Congress James H. Billington called her as "a pioneer of the information age at the Library of Congress," the Washington Post wrote.


Barnes & Noble has signed a lease agreement for a new store in Florence, S.C., in the Magnolia Mall at I-20 and I-95. Scheduled to open in April 2007, the new store will stock close to 200,000 book, music, DVD and magazine titles and include a cafe serving Starbucks coffee.


Unbridled Books, which is trying a new way of distributing Golem Song by Marc Estrin--posting a chapter a week on its Web site until its traditional pub date in November and offering author podcasts on his Web site, as outlined here yesterday--is taking a different tack with another aspect of the book.

In lieu of printing galleys, the publisher has decided to offer booksellers a free subscription to the online postings, which otherwise costs $8. Booksellers should e-mail Caitlin Hamilton Summie at Unbridled to sign up.


Congratulations to another bookseller/author: Elizabeth Bluemle, owner of the Flying Pig in Charlotte, Vt., whose first picture book has just been released. My Father the Dog illustrated by Randy Cecil (Candlewick Press, $15.99, 0763622222) is a Book Sense children's summer pick. Kirkus Reviews called it "Tail-wagging hilarity that's simply doggone funny--and a perfect Father's Day gift."

In June, Bluemle will tour some of northern New England's best bookstores, including the Book Rack, Essex Junction, Vt., Toadstool, Milford, N.H., Norwich, Norwich, Vt., the Book Cellar, Brattleboro, Vt., Northshire Bookstore, Manchester Center, Vt., and the Country Bookseller, Wolfeboro, N.H.--not to mention the Flying Pig.

[Thanks to Tracy Miracle of Candlewick!]


In its entirety, here's an item from yesterday's Washington Post about celebrity sightings:

"Donald Rumsfeld, drawing stares Sunday afternoon as he browsed at Politics & Prose on Connecticut Avenue. 'He's not a member, is he?' a customer asked a clerk, referring to the discount program at the chattering-class clubhouse. The clerk assured her he was not."


The PEN American Center has announced its 2006 literary award winners, who include Philip Roth, winner of the $20,000 PEN/Nabokov Award for lifetime achievement and author most recently of Everyman (Houghton Mifflin, $24, 061873516X), and Linda Gregg, winner of the PEN/Voelcker Award for Poetry. For the full list of prizes, winners and finalists, go to PEN's Web site.

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

How Opal Mehta Got Disappeared

Apparently this is the official publishing end of the sad saga involving Kaavya Viswanathan. Yesterday, after stories appeared saying that the Harvard sophomore had likely plagiarized material from several more authors, Michael Pietsch, publisher and senior v-p of Little, Brown, announced that the house will not publish a revised edition of How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild, and Got a Life and will not publish a second book under contract.

The Harvard Crimson reported that the book contained passages similar to Meg Cabot's The Princess Diaries. Moreover, the AP said that the Record in Bergen County in New Jersey, where Viswanathan worked as intern in 2003 and 2004, would "hire a service to vet the dozen or so light features she wrote."

Predictably interest in the pulled novel climbed on eBay. Most copies available on a "buy it now" basis are in the range of $20-$60. A U.K. proof is going for $91.

Harpervia: Behind You Is the Sea by Susan Muaddi Darraj

FYI: GT/PR Formed to Do PR

Gene Taft, who has spent 15 years in book publishing, most recently as v-p, assistant publisher and director of publicity at PublicAffairs, has moved to Washington, D.C., and set up his own public relations firm, GT/PR, which will specialize in promoting books and authors. Taft said he wants "to blend his significant experience dealing with 'serious non-fiction' books and his personal love of popular culture by working on a wide range of books on politics, current events, history, biography, sports, music, film, and television."

On his own, Taft has already worked on two campaigns: one for China: The Balance Sheet, which PublicAffairs published with the Center for Strategic and International Studies and the Institute for International Economics as well as the Caravan Project, the new distribution organization created by PublicAffairs founder and editor-at-large Peter Osnos.

GT/PR has begun forming a small referral network with fellow publicists, which includes Elizabeth Shreve Public Relations in Washington and cjPurdy Communications in New York. GT/PR has also struck up a referral alliance with Bookcurrents, which specializes in Web marketing. GT/PR is also in the process of establishing alliances with companies that provide radio and satellite TV campaigns, graphic design and many other promotional outlets.

GT/PR is located at 1811 Riggs Place, NW, Washington, D.C. 20009; 202-462-4619, cell 917/701-4072; e-mail:

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

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Bing's Jobs; Dirda's Books

This morning on the Early Show: Stanley Bing, author of 100 Bullshit Jobs . . . And How to Get Them (HarperBusiness, $19.95, 0060734795). Bing is also on Imus in the Morning this morning.

Also this morning on the Early Show: former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, whose new book is The Mighty and the Almighty: Reflections on America, God, and World Affairs (HarperCollins, $25.95, 0060892579). Madame Secretary is also on NPR's Fresh Air and the Charlie Rose Show tonight, which is hosted by NBC News's Andrea Mitchell.


This morning the Today Show: Timothy C. Fireside, author of Crashproof Your Kid: Make Your Teen a Safer, Smarter Driver (Fireside, $14, 0743277112).
Also on the Today Show: Michael Weishan, author of The Victory Garden Companion (Collins, $29.95, 0060599774), from the host of the PBS show of the same name.


Today on Oprah: Warren MacDonald, author of A Test of Will: One Man's Extraordinary Story of Survival (Greystone Books, $14.95, 1553650646).


Today on WAMU's Diane Rehm Show: Michael Dirda, author of Book By Book: Notes on Reading and Life (Holt, $17, 0805078770).


Today the View checks out Isabel Gonzalez, co-author of Latin Chic: Entertaining with Style and Sass (HarperCollins, $34.95, 0060738715).


Tonight on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart: Clark Kent Ervin, the first Inspector General of the Department of Homeland Security and author of Open Target: Where America Is Vulnerable to Attack (Palgrave Macmillan, $24.95, 1403972885). By the way, Ervin's parents allowed his older brother to name him.


Tonight on the Late Show with David Letterman speeds up with race car driver Danica Patrick, author of Danica: Crossing the Line (Fireside, $23.95, 0743298144).

Books & Authors

Attainment: New Books Next Week, Vol. 2

New titles whose laydown date is next Tuesday, May 9:

The Great Deluge: Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans, and the Mississippi Gulf Coast by Douglas Brinkley (Morrow, $29.95, 0061124230). The Tulane University professor and New Orleans resident chronicles the Katrina disaster.


Miracle in the Andes: 72 Days on the Mountain and My Long Trek Home by Nando Parrado (Crown, $25, 1400097673). By one of the Uruguayan rugby team members who was on a plane that crashed in October 1972. The survivors resorted to cannibalism to live.


Now It's My Turn: A Daughter's Chronicle of Political Life by Mary Cheney (Pocket, $26, 141652049X). The Vice President's daughter talks.


Myths, Lies and Downright Stupidity: Get Out the Shovel--Why Everything You Know Is Wrong by John Stossel (Hyperion, $24.95, 1401302548). Gee, thanks. The ABC correspondent offers more examples of why what many people believe is ridiculous.


Where's Waldo? The Great Picture Hunt! by Christopher Handford (Candlewick, $14.99, 0763630438). Continuing the great Waldo franchise.

Book Review

Mandahla: My Latest Grievance Reviewed

My Latest Grievance by Elinor Lipman (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH), $24.00 Hardcover, 9780618644650, April 2006)

Frederica Hatch, sixteen years old in the late '70s, has been raised in a brick dormitory on the campus of a women's college outside Boston. Her parents, liberal-to-a-fault professors David and Aviva ("two bleeding hearts that beat as one"), supervise the dorm, and Frederica was not only born to instant celebrity, but grows up the center of attention for each successive class. In her early teens, she was taken for a baby-faced classmate at the school, which distressed her: "I had no intention of blending in. I wanted to be who I'd become, the Eloise of Dewing College." At the same time, she chafes against her privileged status and her politically passionate parents: "While I spent a good deal of my own time cultivating a prematurely sardonic view of life, I secretly longed to be what my parents scorned the most--conventional."
As Frederica seesaws between wanting a conventional life and craving attention, the college hires Laura Lee French as housemother for Ada Tibbets Hall. This provides the drama Frederica needs, since she has discovered that Laura Lee is her father's ex-wife. Her parents worry that she will see this woman as attractive and compelling compared to themselves, and they are right. The newcomer brings chaos and intrigue into Frederica's life and into the placid life of the campus. "Laura Lee realized that Dewing College, like all small schools, was a stage, and that she needed a larger role than the one for which she had originally been cast."
As the phrase goes, mayhem ensues, sometimes genteel, sometimes slapstick. Underlying the humor are serious topics--child-rearing, adultery, dementia--that Lipman explores with wit and intelligence. Frederica is both charming and charmingly annoying, a precocious girl well-aware of herself, as she occasionally takes "a stab at sounding age-appropriate." Whether fomenting confrontation in the dining hall or patiently snow sledding with the mentally-addled college president's wife, she (and the rest of the Dewing lot) will engage you.--Marilyn Dahl

Deeper Understanding

Making Information Pay: Web Marketing

At last week's Book Industry Study Group's Making Information Pay conference, Carol Fitzgerald, co-founder and president of the Book Report Network, gave tips on marketing on the Web and offered several case histories based on her experience.

The Book Report Network has seven sites about books and authors, has built more than 100 author Web sites and done Internet marketing campaigns for more than 80 books as well as a lot of marketing directly for authors. The company is 10 years old.

Among early Internet campaigns she worked on: Blind Man's Bluff by Sherry Sontag and Christopher Drew, a PublicAffairs title about American submarine espionage. "We talked with Navy sub vets who congregated on particular Web sites and found submariners holding reunions," she said. They soon got reunion coordinators to distribute fliers about the book. The title had a 12,000 first printing and has 440,000 copies in print.

For the 2004 book Yiddish With Dick and Jane by Ellis Weiner and Barbara Davilman, Little, Brown schlepped the message online with a "really funny" video that cost about $10,000. "Everyone wants to break up the work day by passing along and reading funny e-mails," she said. The book's first printing was 27,500; it now has 175,000 copies in print. Fitzgerald did caution that with viral videos, "sometimes funny falls flat, but it really works when it's fun."

Last November, Bobby Henderson put a petition on his Web site related to his forthcoming The Gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. The day before the book came out in March, Villard did an e-mail blast to the 12,000 people on the list, which was enough to move the title on Amazon. Other Internet elements of the campaign include banners on popular Web sites like The online costs were $5,000; offline were another $5,000. After a 15,000 first printing, 40,000 copies are in print.

Perigee, which has a specialty in autism and special needs titles, has developed online contact lists and regularly sends e-mail releases to them. Now it has created a full-fledged e-mail newsletter whose inaugural issue began in April in conjunction with Autism Awareness Month. Some of its titles, like The Out of Sync Child by Carol Stock Kranowitz, released last month, have "very small initial sales but become backlist staples" and sell well on

For Delaying the Real World: A Twentysomething's Guide to Seeking Adventure by Colleen Kinder, Running Press created a Delaying the Real World Fellowship that college graduates could join and that offered them prizes. Other Internet promotions for the book have included ads on Google and visibility on college career centers and college oriented sites like Fastweb as well as e-cards. After an initial investment of about $7,000 for the Web site and e-card, the publisher spends about $3,000 a year on Internet promotions, and is able to tap new readers "because there are always new grads coming out."

Among general tips Fitzgerald offered:

  • Develop a Web marketing strategy with the original marketing plan; don't think that "after all else has failed," a late Web plan will save the book.
  • Do a lot of research into online sites. "There are hundreds of millions of Web sites out there, and many are not useful." Still, Fitzgerald added that compared to the late '90s, "most sites now will stay around. It's not as fly by night as it used to be."
  • Think quality over quantity. "Get the one right place; it will grow from there."
  • "Think targeted, think wide. Then think even wider and deeper."
  • Test and keep results of what works and doesn't work. "With your second campaign, you'll know where to start."
  • Above all, "be patient and realistic."


Boris Wertz, COO of, offered related advice on how to sell books to micro-markets. Like Lightning Source (see Monday's issue), Abebooks is living the Long Tail, Wertz said. The largest superstores offer 100,000 titles; Amazon has nearly 4 million titles; while Abebooks offers as many as 15 million from its 13,500 professional booksellers. (They have some 90 million new, used and out-of-print book listings. Last year sales amounted to $150 million.)

Many of's booksellers are extremely specialized. For example, Dog Collector Books offers 2,592 titles for . . . dog collectors, and Food Heritage Press has 530 cookbooks. On the other hand, Astro-Logos Books, a POD company, has more than 240,000 titles available.

Echoing Chris Anderson of Wired magazine and author of the forthcoming Long Tail, Wertz emphasized that to connect with buyers, and other companies working the Long Tail need "to create robust systems with strong search and filtering" mechanisms. To attract customers, he recommended pay-per-click ads on Google and Yahoo and using millions of key words. "Usually it costs 10 cents if someone clicks on an ad," Wertz said, estimating that even with one order, the return on investment can be 10,000%.

Companies "need to get all products into search engines so people who go there will find them." Companies should also partner with other Web sites. (More than 10,000 sites include banners and product links.) Wertz noted, too, that "more and more people are using search engines to start the shopping process" even if they know the name of a store's Web site.

In one of many ways to retain buyers, has a service under which a customer gives Abebooks the name of an author, title or keyword of interest to him or her. "We check our database daily," he said, "and if it matches, we send that person information about the new title in our database."

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