Shelf Awareness for Monday, June 5, 2006

Gallery Books: The Lion Women of Tehran by Marjan Kamali

Other Press (NY): Deliver Me by Malin Persson Giolito, translated by Rachel Willson-Broyles

Two Trees: Among Friends: An Illustrated Oral History of American Book Publishing and Bookselling in the 20th Century edited by Buz Teacher and Janet Bukovinsky Teacher

Atlantic Monthly Press: I Cheerfully Refuse by Leif Enger

Quotation of the Day

Poetic Injustice

"There's a reason there aren't 400 poetry titles on display at Wal-Mart."--Dave Weich, director of marketing and development at, in a Boston Globe story about the new owner of the Grolier Poetry Book Shop in Cambridge, Mass., and the difficult poetry market.

Neal Porter Books: Angela's Glacier by Jordan Scott, illustrated by Diana Sudyka


Tattered Cover Prepares to Move

In a Q&A with the Rocky Mountain News, Tattered Cover owner Joyce Meskis talks about reading, her flagship store's move June 25, how she got into bookselling, how long she's been a reader and whether she might--someday--retire.

In a related story, the Denver Post highlights the plans of the other members of the "cultural retail consortium" that will be anchored by the Tattered Cover at the former Lowenstein Theatre: Twist & Shout Records, Neighborhood Flix Cinema and Café, the Denver Folklore Center and Udi's Handcrafted Foods.

And a developer with a residential site two blocks from the new Tattered Cover told the Rocky Mountain News, "we felt like we had won the lotto," when the company heard about the bookstore's move. "It's just a home run for us. We emphasize very strongly to all of our prospective buyers that the Tattered Cover will be an easy walk from us. It's a great amenity for all of our buyers, as well as for the entire neighborhood."

GLOW: Avid Reader Press: The Ministry of Time by Kaliane Bradley

Worth Mulling Over: Wine Retailing Trends

Shades of Randy Kemner, the California wine store owner who spoke at the ABA's Winter Institute (Shelf Awareness, January 30): the Wall Street Journal's wine critics, Dorothy J. Gaiter and John Brecher, talk about the proliferation of "wine shops focusing on service and careful selection" at a time when big-box and Internet retailers are taking larger gulps of the wine market.

Among their points, many of which apply to book retailing:

  • The stores tend not to compete on price but on service. As one retailer commented: "People come to a wine shop for personality and service. They would much rather look someone in the eye and trust somebody--and laugh with somebody."
  • "Consumers are getting increasingly adventurous in their wine choices [and] need a guide more than ever."
  • Many of the wine retailers with small stores have sampled every wine they sell--and some use their own shelf talkers.
  • Some new stores organize their wines by "weight" or foods they complement or grape types rather than geographical area.
  • In general, the stores "are bringing basic retailing intelligence--helpful service, organization, an ever-changing inventory, cleanliness, good lighting--to the wine business."
[Thanks to Rusty Drugan and Nicki Leone for the tip about this story!]

Soho Crime: Ash Dark as Night (A Harry Ingram Mystery) by Gary Phillips

Notes: Digital Publishing; Powell's Dynasty

Focusing on the effect on publishers and authors--and their finances--today's New York Times scans trends in digital publishing, ranging from John Updike's BEA talk about the "grisly scenario" of the digital universal library where bits and pieces of books would be merged in ways unimaginable to the authors to how e-books are being used to help sales of paper books to e-book projects that allow for quick dissemination of information from authors who might have trouble gaining access to traditional publishing. The piece doesn't mention distribution channel issues.


The AP (via the Seattle Post-Intelligencer) profiles Powell's Books, Portland, Ore., where founder Michael Powell has begun handing over the reins gradually to his daughter, Emily.

Two comments by Powell that stood out:
  • "It's not enough to love books. You have to love the business of it."
  • "The truth is we way underestimate the breadth of interest people have in books."

In the story, Daniel Raff of the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania said, "I'm not sure what the next big thing is, but [Powell] has been involved in several very major big things so far and has made out . . . with really striking efficacy."

Asked for comment about chain competition, Barnes & Noble CEO Stephen Riggio said, "I think it would be more accurate to describe the industry itself as more competitive than as a competition between big and little. The existence of any one additional book store or any one extra Web site is competition regardless of who it is owned by."


In a guest commentary in the Contra Costa Times, Melissa Manlove, who works at the Storyteller Bookstore in Lafayette, Calif., makes the case for the value of independent booksellers--and the importance of readers who value indies to "speak with our pocketbooks," i.e., make more of their book purchases at independent bookstores.


The Vermont Guardian discusses the three-day annual meeting later this week of the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies in Burlington and highlights the Vermont Independent Business Alliance, a statewide buy local group that has been meeting since last fall and one of whose major supporters has been Chris Morrow, general manager of Northshire Bookstore, Manchester Center, Vt.

Morrow had wanted to get an independent business alliance going in Manchester, "but we realized that Manchester by itself was too small, so we looked to the whole state of Vermont," he told the paper. "There are some local-first campaigns right now that are in cities where there are more than the 600,000 or so people in Vermont. While still a lot of the work would be done locally, we thought there should be some umbrella group to make it easier for that to happen, and at the same time connect those businesses statewide."

The Vermont Independent Business Alliance should officially launch June 15.


The Sterling Journal-Advocate in Sterling, Colo., caught up last week--and maybe gave a ride to--Elijah Wald, who is hitchhiking around the country on his bookstore tour for Riding With Strangers: A Hitchhiker's Journey (Chicago Review Press, distributed by IPG, $22.95, 1556526059), an account of a hitchhiking trip cross-country that includes a history of hitchhiking, his own stories of hitchhiking around the world over the past 30 years or so, and lots of facts about contemporary hitchhiking (Shelf Awareness, March 7).

For a short while at least, Wald was having trouble getting a ride in Sterling on his way to Iowa City, where he was reading at Prairie Lights. "I don't think it's a good idea to try to hitchhike near a state prison sign," Wald told the paper.


A point of clarity about the grand opening of BookStream, which we announced in Friday's issue: the new Poughkeepsie, N.Y., wholesaler is offering one-day and a maximum of two-days service in the Northeast.

Courtroom Crib Sheet for Booksellers

The following are tips regarding shoplifting (from a list of 10) from a new Nolo Press audio CD for booksellers called The Bookseller's Little Legal Companion. For a free copy of the CD, write to Nolo at Shelf Awareness will run more tips from the CD over the next few issues.

  • Never assume that someone making a purchase isn't also stealing. Many shoplifters buy and steal in the same visit.
  • Wal-Mart discovered that having greeters reduced shoplifting by as much as 35%. So not only is greeting and making eye-contact with people who come in good business, it also deters shoplifting.
  • To cut down on shoplifting, keep open sightlines within your store, especially in areas of expensive or popular books.
  • Don't detain anyone unless a store employee personally observed the theft. That means the employee saw the suspect take the books, conceal them, and then try to leave without paying for them.
  • Avoid detaining a shoplifter by yourself. Always try to do it in pairs, and if possible, preferably with one bookstore employee who is the same gender as the shoplifter to avoid an accusation of sexual misconduct.
[Thanks to Nolo!]

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Updike on Terrorist--or the Digital Book?

This morning--the morning after the season finale of the Sopranos--the Today Show has a sitdown with Lorraine Bracco, actress, Tony Soprano's therapist and author of the memoir, On the Couch (Putnam, $25.95, 039915356X).


This morning Good Morning America has a date with John Mordechai Gottman, co-author of 10 Lessons to Transform Your Marriage: America's Love Lab Experts Share Their Strategies For Strengthening Your Relationship (Crown, $25, 1400050189).


Today WAMU's Diane Rehm Show talks with John Updike, whose new novel is Terrorist (Knopf, $24.95, 0307264653).


Today on NPR's On Point: Trevor Norton, author of Underwater to Get Out of the Rain: A Love Affair with the Sea (Da Capo Press, $25, 0306814870).


Tonight the Tonight Show with Jay Leno has a late snack with Sopranos cast member Steve Schirripa, author of The Goomba Diet (Clarkson Potter, $23, 140005463X).

Books & Authors

Pennie's Pick: The Shadow of the Wind

Costco book buyer Pennie Clark Ianniciello has chosen The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon, as her June book pick. She highlights the title in the current issue of Costco Connection, which goes to many of the warehouse club's members. The book, she wrote, "has a little bit of everything. From fear to desire, joy to sorrow, it induces the full spectrum of emotions."

The issue also has a profile of Zafon, who spent 10 years in Los Angeles before returning to his native Barcelona, where Shadow of the Wind is set. "I've always been very interested in the way great authors created organic worlds out of cities, settings that became part of the story," he said.

Mandahla: More Possible Titles for Dads

The following is another selection of recent titles that could make good picks for Father's Day gifts. Most are newly reviewed titles; several have been reviewed in Shelf Awareness already.

The Lost Thoughts of Soldiers by Delia Falconer (Soft Skull Press, $16, 1933368179, May)
This intense, eloquent story is written in the voice of Captain Frederick Benteen, who has been reflecting on his past--he was with Custer at Little Bighorn 23 years earlier. Recalling his lost companions, thinking of his love for his wife, struggling with the fact that the public has not forgiven him for surviving, Benteen searches for meaning as he faces the end of his life. Falconer writes with delicate beauty and lyrical vulgarity, each page containing exquisite detail: "He hears muffled birdsong through the window and knows the sky has broken. A shift in the day, like religion starting. You can only feel it later, you cannot spot where it begins." This is a singular and elegant novel.

Promise Me by Harlan Coben (Dutton, $26.95, 0525949496, 2006)

After taking six years off from his Myron Bolitar series to write some excellent and bestselling stand-alone thrillers, Harlan Coben has returned with Myron, Esperanza and the deliciously deadly Win. At a neighborhood party, Myron makes two teenage girls promise him they would call if they were ever in a situation where they were afraid to call their parents. Of course there's a call, of course a girl goes missing, of course Myron is a suspect. Of course, since Harlan Coben is writing, the book is a winner.

A Sense of the World: How a Blind Man Became History's Greatest Traveler by Jason Roberts (HarperCollins, $26.95, 0007161069, May)

A Sense of the World is a fascinating account of the life and travels of James Holman (1786-1857), who overcame blindness, pain and poverty to become a celebrated writer and world adventurer. After he lost his sight in his early 20s, and afflicted with rheumatism, he nevertheless secured a Navy pension, studied medicine and began to travel. He journeyed alone, with a great curiosity about the world and an affinity for making friends. We first meet Holman at an eruption of Mt. Vesuvius: "The blind man paused to feel the end of his walking stick. It was scorched and blackened, a few moments shy of bursting into flame. He rolled the tip in the abundant ash to cool it, then continued his progress upward, toward the mouth of the volcano." Roberts has written an engaging biography of a most unusual man, who "Jane Austen would have recognized . . . immediately as a Military Gentleman, dashing yet soulful, suitable for a central role in one of her romances." An excellent book for fans of travel literature and biography.--Marilyn Dahl

Awards: Council on Botanical and Horticultural Libraries

The winners of the 2006 Annual Literature Awards from the Council on Botanical and Horticultural Libraries, honoring the author and publisher of "works that make a significant contribution to the literature of botany and horticulture," have gone to:

General Interest:

The Naming of Names: The Search for Order in the World of Plants by Anna Pavord (Bloomsbury, $45, 1596910712), "a lavishly illustrated history of plant taxonomy." Patricia Jonas, director of library services, Brooklyn Botanic Garden, called Pavord "a stylish writer who mingles a love of research with a lively sense of narrative and packs her whodunit with heroes and scoundrels, innovators and plagiarists."


Legumes of the World edited by Gwilym Lewis, Brian Schrire, Barbara Mackinder and Mike Lock (The Royal Botanic Gardens' Kew Publishing), "the first comprehensive, illustrated guide to the world's 727 legume genera and an essential reference in botany, horticulture, and agriculture."

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