Shelf Awareness for Tuesday, March 11, 2014


Simon Pulse: Of Curses and Kisses by Sandhya Menon

Workman Publishing: Click to see full Holiday Quick Pick catalog!

Bunim & Bannigan Ltd: David Lazar by Robert Kalich

Magination Press: Bee Heartful: Spread Loving-Kindness by Frank J Sileo, illustrated by Claire Keay

Dundurn Group: Never Forget: A Victor Lessard Thriller (A Victor Lessard Thriller #1) by Martin Michaud

Flatiron Books: Miss Austen by Gill Hornby

News

L.A. Times Festival Adding IndieBound Buy Buttons

Last week the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books sparked the ire of independent booksellers, publisher participants and quite a number of book consumers who took to social media to air their complaints about the festival becoming an Amazon affiliate. Now, a few days after the brouhaha started, the LATFOB has begun the process of adding IndieBound buy buttons next to each featured author's name.

"Our creative team was testing the site," confirmed Hillary Manning, director of communications for the Los Angeles Times. "The links will officially be live within a couple of days."

"I think the world has let [the LATFOB] know that there might have been a little bit of an issue with what they did," said Maureen Palacios, president of the Southern California Independent Booksellers Association. "We are thrilled that now they are giving consumers the choice of IndieBound." Palacios, owner of Once Upon a Time in Montrose, said she would be calling representatives at the Times to thank them and to bring up a few other issues SCIBA would like to address.

One of the questions likely to be asked by SCIBA is why the Festival was offering a free Kindle as a promotional giveaway over the weekend. "I will let them know that they can give away my Kobo Arc if they want," suggested Palacios.

Overall, Palacios said, SCIBA was quite impressed with how quickly the Times was able to act with regard to adding IndieBound. "They pretty much corrected it right away," she added.

But the correction did not come fast enough for San Diego indie Warwick's, which, upon learning that LATFOB had became an Amazon affiliate, cancelled its chartered bus that brings its customers to the festival. "It's not like we are never going to support the festival again," said Adrian Newell, Warwick's book buyer, adding that she, too, was impressed with how quickly the Festival responded to the Amazon affiliate issue. Also, Newell said, the controversy brought positive feedback, as Warwick's customers commented on the Festival allowing a mammoth e-tailer to siphon sales from local stores. --Bridget Kinsella


Quirk Books: Spark and the League of Ursus by Robert Repino


Peter Ginna Leaving Bloomsbury Press

Peter Ginna, Bloomsbury Press publisher and editorial director, will leave the company March 21 after nearly eight years "by mutual agreement." Ginna told Publishers Lunch that launching a new imprint had been "one of the most satisfying experiences of my career. I'm grateful to Bloomsbury for giving me this opportunity, and for its support in building a list that I'm very proud of. I look forward to doing something new, but I'll miss working with an extraordinary group of colleagues who publish books with great dedication and care. The imprint is going to continue, and based on what's in the pipeline, I expect it to flourish." Bloomsbury USA publishing director George Gibson will also serve as publisher of Bloomsbury Press.


Soho Teen: Me and Mr. Cigar by Gibby Haynes


Jared Raines and Jenna Todd: Kiwis' Take on U.S. Bookselling

Jared Raines and Jenna Todd, two indie booksellers from New Zealand, attended Winter Institute 9 in Seattle, Wash., thanks to a sponsorship from Kobo and a contest run by Booksellers New Zealand (the N.Z. equivalent of the ABA). As part of the arrangement, the two booksellers also spent the week after Winter Institute working at two Seattle-area indies. Todd, manager of Time Out Bookstore in Auckland, worked at Third Place Books in Lake Forest Park and Ravenna, Wash., while Raines, owner and manager of Paperplus Northlands in Christchurch, worked at Elliott Bay Book Company in Seattle.

Jenna Todd and Jared Raines

Raines, whose own store is an approximately 2,560-sq.-ft. general-interest bookshop with a copying center, said that the most obvious differences between Paperplus Northlands and Elliott Bay were the sheer size and volume of stock of the latter.

"There is also less of a focus on sideline product in the U.S. than we have in N.Z.," Raines added. "Most bookstores in our group have a very strong personal and commercial stationery offering."

Raines's store, which was opened by his family 33 years ago, has been franchised by several different brands and has traded under a number of names, the first of which was Target Books & Stationery. Raines began working in the family business in 1996, when he was 14. In 2010, he took over full management of the business. He currently employs 12 staff members; during the holidays, which are in the middle of summer in New Zealand, that increases to 15 or 16.

Another key difference between bookselling in N.Z. and the U.S., Raines said, was the lack of wholesalers in the former. N.Z. indies, he explained, really have only publishers as their main suppliers.

"This does at times cause issues, as publishers make printing decisions based on sell-in numbers," Raines explained. Indies typically cannot afford to buy three or four months worth of stock at release, which often leads to the underprinting of N.Z. titles. And, aside from Random House and some local publishers, the majority of large publishers have consolidated their New Zealand operations with their offices in Australia. This has led to complications with shipments; a delivery within 3-5 days is considered fast. If the wholesale model were adopted in N.Z., Raines asserts, that could go a long way in solving these problems.

Todd was struck in a similar way by the size of Third Place Books. Her own store occupies approximately 700 square feet of a long, narrow heritage building, with an upper floor devoted to events and community gatherings. Time Out carries around 17,000 volumes across many genres; the store's only focus, Todd said, was on "the best of the best." She reported that literary fiction, children's books and coffee table books do particularly well.

The frequency of author events at American indies and the relatively low price of books compared to N.Z. also struck Todd. Author visits are rare for most N.Z. indies, although Time Out is fortunate to have author Eleanor Catton as a regular customer (the launch party for The Luminaries, Catton's Booker Prize-winning novel, was held at the store). She attributed both differences to New Zealand "being at the bottom of the world."

"However," Todd added, "one thing I learned when I was visiting all of these excellent stores in Seattle is that we just slot right alongside their high caliber--Time Out is just as excellent and special!"

Todd has worked at Time Out for four years, and has been manager for two. There are 12 staff members, most of whom work part time and are involved in a range of creative endeavors (Todd, for example, is a photographer, and the store also employs a director, an actress, a writer and a musician).

Todd said overall of the Winter Institute that "there was just immeasurable value from just talking and spending time with all of the wonderful book people who attended WI9. It was such a fantastic experience."

Similarly, Raines said he appreciated the people at WI9. "I really was made to feel like part of the U.S. bookselling community," he said. "The most interesting thing I learned while there is that we all have the ability to survive the changing retail climate that is hitting our industry; we must work hard to be involved in our community, and be more than just a store full of product."

And as for what he brought to Elliott Bay, Raines reported that his American counterparts were frequently interested in his retail system and his store's security camera system. He also provided, he added, the "terrible Kiwi accent and colloquialisms!" --Alex Mutter


New World Library: We Are the Luckiest: The Surprising Magic of a Sober Life by Laura McKowen


Kobo Launches E-Reading App for Windows 8 Devices

Kobo has launched Kobo for Windows app, which is designed for Microsoft notebooks, tablets and desktops running the new Windows 8 platform. "We are excited to give our readers access to their Kobo e-books on the Microsoft Windows ecosystem," said Sameer Hasan, Kobo's director of reading and mobile platforms. "The Kobo for Windows app is designed to make Kobo content come alive on Windows devices."

Henrik Gutle, director of Windows and Surface Business Group, Microsoft Canada, added that the Kobo for Windows e-reading app "is a great addition to the Windows marketplace."


Dutton Books: The Girl with the Louding Voice by Abi Dare


Indiegogo Campaign for St. Mark's Bookshop's 'Final Push'

As preparations continue for the upcoming relocation to a new space in New York City's East Village, an Indiegogo campaign launched two weeks ago by the Friends of St. Mark's Bookshop has raised nearly $6,000 thus far, with 47 days to go. The effort is part of a "financial push to build out the space and pay for moving costs, as well as maintaining its inventory for the remaining months at 31 Third Avenue....

"Now is the opportunity for a final push as St. Mark's reinvents itself as a non-profit event space, while continuing to fill the East Village's niche for a small brick-and-mortar bookstore featuring carefully selected new theoretical, political, art, design, poetry and independent literary texts in traditional print format."


Obituary Notes: Joe McGinniss; Martin Gottfried

Joe McGinniss, who "made a name for himself by diving deeply into each story, but he also received criticism for his reporting techniques," died Monday, the New York Times reported. He was 71. His books included The Selling of the President 1968, which was published when he was in his mid-20s; Fatal Vision, which focused on the murder trial of Jeffrey MacDonald; and, more recently, The Rogue: Searching for the Real Sarah Palin.
 
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Martin Gottfried, drama critic and "author of several biographies of entertainers and playwrights as well as two influential studies of the Broadway musical," died last week, the New York Times reported. He was 80. His final biography was Arthur Miller: His Life and Work, which was published in 2003.


Notes

Image of the Day: Bryan Pearce, Roger Reynolds Honored by NACS

At the opening session of the 2014 Campus Market Expo (CAMEX) in Dallas last week, Louise Little, CEO of University Book Store in Seattle, Wash., accepted the NACS Humanitarian Award on behalf of Bryan Pearce, her predecessor at UBS. Pearce died last year from cancer. Little said of Pearce: "His legacy lives on, and our industry is better for it." Roger Reynolds, the longtime director of Brigham Young University Bookstore, also died last year and was similarly honored at the session. His wife, Debbie, accepted the award for him.


Bear Pond Books Hosts Vt. Governor's Press Conference

At a press conference hosted by Bear Pond Books in Montpelier yesterday, Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin called for lawmakers incrementally to raise the state minimum wage to $10.10 by 2017, WPTZ-5 reported. In a Facebook post, the bookstore said: "So happy to host the governor's press conference today as he discussed the proposed minimum wage increase."


Cool Bookstore Cat of the Day: Skylight's Franny on Instagram

"The cat needed to start contributing around here," Skylight Books, Los Angeles, Calif., announced on Facebook to introduce a new Instagram account for Franny Skylight: "Hey, it's Franny, the bookstore cat at Skylight Books in Los Angeles, here! Please to enjoy my point of view. Meow!"

Franny is accustomed to center stage. You may recall that last October, she was nominated in the "Most Adorable Store Sidekick" category of Racked LA's Editor's Choice awards.


Personnel Changes at Workman Publishing

At Workman Publishing:

John Jenkinson has been promoted to senior publicist. He has been with the company since 2012.
Margaret Rogalski has been hired as publicist. She previously held publicity positions at Gotham Books and Princeton Architectural Press and is a graduate of the Fashion Institute of Technology.


Group Books and Tour Trailer of the Day: Tor Teen

As three Tor Teen authors tour together, the publisher has made a joint book trailer for The Nightmare Dilemma by Mindee Arnett, Resistance by Jenna Black and Three by Kristen Simmons.


Media and Movies

Media Heat: Brigid Schulte on Fresh Air

Today on Fresh Air: Brigid Schulte, author of Overwhelmed: Work, Love, and Play When No One Has the Time (Sarah Crichton Books/FSG, $26, 9780374228446).

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Tomorrow morning on Marketplace Morning Report: Murray Carpenter, author of Caffeinated: How Our Daily Habit Helps, Hurts, and Hooks Us (Hudson Street Press, $25.95, 9781594631382).

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Tomorrow morning on Morning Joe: Susan Patton, author of Marry Smart: Advice for Finding THE ONE (Gallery, $24.99, 9781476759708). She will also appear on the Laura Ingraham Show.

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Tomorrow on Extra: Michael Gross, author of House of Outrageous Fortune: Fifteen Central Park West, the World's Most Powerful Address (Atria, $28, 9781451666199).

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Tomorrow on the Jim Bohannon Show: Annabelle Gurwitch, author of I See You Made an Effort: Compliments, Indignities, and Survival Stories from the Edge of 50 (Blue Rider, $25.95, 9780399166181).


Adapting The Goldfinch for Small (or Maybe Big?) Screen

Nina Jacobson and her Color Force Productions (Diary of a Wimpy Kid; The Hunger Games) "have attached themselves to produce an adaptation" of Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch, the Wrap reported.

"We are looking for the right filmmaker, and then we'll choose the right home based on that filmmaker," Jacobson said. "We've been thinking we are more likely to make a limited series for TV. There's so much scope to the book. At the same time, a filmmaker could come in with a perspective that changes our mind.... With a piece of material this great, there are a lot of conversations to be had."

Although Jacobson declined to be specific about filmmakers with whom they have discussed the book, "Color Force and ICM, which represents Tartt, have had informal discussions with potential movie and TV studios about adapting the project. If they decided to make a movie instead of a miniseries, Lionsgate, which distributed The Hunger Games, would seem like a potential home. Yet Jacobson said the project would go to whomever wanted it most."


Movies: I Smile Back

Sarah Silverman will star in a film adaption of Amy Koppelman's novel I Smile Back. Showbiz 411 reported that "Koppelman and Paige Dylan, wife of Wallflowers leader Jakob Dylan, wrote the script" for the project, which will be directed by Adam Salky. The cast also includes Josh Charles, Thomas Sadoski, Chris Sarandon and Terry Kinney.



Books & Authors

Awards: Folio Prize; RBC Taylor Literary Nonfiction

George Saunders won the inaugural £40,000 (about US$66,930) Folio Prize for his story collection Tenth of December. The aim of the award, which is sponsored by the Folio Society, is to "recognize and celebrate the best English-language fiction from around the world, published in the U.K. during a given year, regardless of form, genre or the author's country of origin."

Chair of the judges Lavinia Greenlaw praised the winner's work as "both artful and profound. Darkly playful, they take us to the edge of some of the most difficult questions of our time and force us to consider what lies behind and beyond them.... Unflinching, delightful, adventurous, compassionate, he is a true original whose work is absolutely of the moment. We have no doubt that these stories will prove only more essential in years to come."

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Thomas King won the $25,000 RBC Taylor Prize for Literary Nonfiction for his book The Inconvenient Indian: A Curious Account of Native People in North America. On March 17, he will announce the inaugural winner of the RBC Taylor Emerging Author award, who receives $10,000 and the opportunity to be mentored by King.


Book Review

Review: The Anatomy Lesson

The Anatomy Lesson by Nina Siegal (Nan A. Talese/Doubleday, $25.95 hardcover, 9780385538367, March 11, 2014)

Nina Siegal's The Anatomy Lesson is an ambitious, inventive and sometimes uneven novel that imagines the lives of the figures in Rembrandt's group portrait of the same name--his first major commission. It is historical fiction steeped in impeccable research and intimate knowledge of Amsterdam at the height of its artistic vitality.

The story is told from the alternating points of view of its many characters over the course of a single day. It begins with Aris, a one-handed coat thief whose public hanging is the trigger for a series of events leading to the dissection of his corpse in an anatomy lesson conducted by Amsterdam's official City Anatomist, Dr. Nicolaes Tulp. Through it all, a young Rembrandt plans, then paints his portrait of the dissection, struggling to reconcile his artistic and humanist vision with the requirements of his commission. Joining them are Aris's lover Flora, who is pregnant with his child, René Descartes, who believes anatomy will help him find the physical location of the human soul and the bodily manifestation of its corruption, and the curio dealer who must procure and deliver the body to Dr. Tulp.

Additionally, Pia, a contemporary art conservator, adds her observations about the painting in short chapters that punctuate the historical story. She notes discrepancies in the rendering of the exposed left forearm, leading to an important discovery about the painting that, in turn, foreshadows a turning point in Rembrandt's artistic journey.

This structure can make the novel feel disjointed, but it adds layers of rich period detail and perspective. Siegal is especially effective in conveying the murky intersection of science, religion and morality in a rapidly changing city. She is an acute observer of art and of human nature. Her portrayal of Aris as a man who reacts to the cruelties of his life by becoming a vagabond coat thief is wonderful and persuasive. She succeeds fully in making us appreciate the accomplishment of a single work of art from many points of view, though other chapters, such as those relating Descartes' musings or Dr. Tulp's lectures, can seem overburdened by the weight of her research.

If The Anatomy Lesson wears its knowledge a little too self-consciously, its structural ambition sometimes met at the expense of narrative momentum, it is nevertheless a thought-provoking and richly populated novel by a talented new voice. --Jeanette Zwart

Shelf Talker: This impeccably researched novel of the Dutch Golden Age and the story behind Rembrandt's first major painting will appeal to readers of historical fiction and art history.


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