Shelf Awareness for Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Abrams Press: Susan, Linda, Nina, and Cokie: The Extraordinary Story of the Founding Mothers of NPR by Lisa Napoli

Scholastic Press: Ground Zero by Alan Gratz

Flatiron Books: Ariadne by Jennifer Saint

Algonquin Books: Libertie by Kaitlyn Greenidge


Bookends & Beginnings Opening in Evanston, Ill.

Bookends & Beginnings will open in downtown Evanston, Ill., in early June in space formerly occupied by Bookman's Alley, the longtime antiquarian bookstore. Bookends & Beginnings will feature new and used books, a range of events, gifts and more, with "particular emphasis on titles that will appeal to Evanston's highly educated and multi-ethnic population."

On the store's Facebook page, owner Nina Barrett said, "Our goal is to create a vibrant cultural destination and hub of book-centered community for both adults and children. Evanston has always supported an array of wonderful used, antiquarian, and specialty bookshops, but we think the time is right for a more substantial-sized, knowledgeably curated, general-interest store."

Barrett is a longtime Evanston resident, has published literary essays and reviews in the New York Times Magazine, the Nation, Publishers Weekly and other publications and is a trained chef and two-time James Beard Award winner for her radio food reporting for Chicago's NPR affiliate station WBEZ. (She aims to make the cooking section "a destination for cooks and food lovers.") Barrett's husband, Jeffrey Garrett, who recently retired from his job as an academic research librarian, will curate several sections, drawing on knowledge of rare books and specialized collections, European publishing and international children's literature.

Sidelines will include antiques, toys, stationery, gifts with Evanston and Chicago themes, artisanal artworks and jewelry. Barrett commented: "Our vision of a bookstore is that it can just as comfortably sell you a book that changes the course of your life, as a gift or a small, affordable piece of art that changes the course of your day."

Noting the resurgence of independent bookstores in the past few years, Barrett said, "Book-lovers have started to recognize what's been lost when there's no exciting physical place where they can congregate, browse, think, and talk. And we're confident that if any community can support that kind of a business in the face of today's challenges, Evanston can."

Beaming Books: Inspiring New Nonfiction from Broadleaf Books

New Location for Waterfront Books in Georgetown, S.C.

Waterfront Books has opened in its new location at 815 Front Street in Georgetown, S.C., after an eventful six months in which the bookstore, then called Harborwalk Books, was destroyed by fire, acquired new owners and reopened nearby.

On Facebook, Waterfront Books wrote: "As you can see from the photos, we are open in our new location and have a new name--Waterfront Books. We are excited about the store: we have collectible and signed first edition books as well as used paperbacks and hardcovers. We also have more than a dozen different lines of cards and will keep adding more. Also in the store are gift items and works of several award-winning local artists. We will keep you posted about what we offer, so check our site weekly and invite your friends to like us."

Apollo Publishers: Holiday Gift Ideas

Green Apple Books to Open Second Store

Green Apple Books, San Francisco, Calif., is opening a second store, called Green Apple Books on the Park, in the Inner Sunset neighborhood next to Golden Gate Park, about a mile and a half from its current location. The new store will be about 2,500 square feet, on the main floor of a building that currently houses Le Video, which stocks some 130,000 movies, kind of "the Powell's of video stores," said Green Apple co-owner Pete Mulvihill. Le Video will consolidate on the second floor of the building, and when Green Apple opens, the stores will "cohabit" the building. Le Video customers will have to enter through Green Apple--and both retailers hope to draw people who will shop at the other store.

Le Video needs several months to move everything into its second floor. Green Apple will get access to the space about July 15 and hopes to open August 1.

Mulvihill noted that Green Apple once had a second location a block from the Green Apple Books on the Park location. The store closed about 15 years ago, when Mulvihill and his co-owners, Kevin Hunsanger and Kevin Ryan, were buying Green Apple. "It was a viable store," Mulvihill said. But because the landlord would give only a three-year lease, they decided not to renew. "This feels like a return for us," he added.

Green Apple Books on the Park will differ in several ways from the main store, which is three times as large. For one, the new store's inventory will be a mix of 75% new and 25% used books, while the current store is 60% used and 40% new. (The new store won't stock CDs and DVDs.) Mulvihill said that the heavier emphasis on new titles is partly because it's easier to control inventory. Because of its size, the new store will have to be more selective than the current store and will tweak inventory as it learns what the neighborhood wants. It's a "lively neighborhood," Mulvihill said, and includes the Park, the Botanical Garden, the de Young Museum, the UCSF Medical Center and numerous cafes and restaurants. The area attracts many tourists.

One of the biggest challenges, Mulvihill said, is creating a store that is different from the current store. "Our building here is part of the charm," he said, something that can't be replicated. But "we will take the best of what we do"--everything from shelf talkers to highlighting interesting books. Mulvihill added that he knows for sure one difference: the new store "will be cleaner!"

Stephen Sparks, buyer and new book manager at Green Apple, will manage the new store, and Green Apple will hire "another handful" of people and is looking in particular for an experienced kids' bookseller.

Like many video stores, Le Video has had financial difficulties and had recently talked publicly about the possibility of closing. Mulvihill said the landlord had wanted to find a business that was "simpatico" with Le Video.

Mulvihill said that Green Apple had considered several second locations in previous years, but this seemed right and happened very quickly. "When I told the Kevins [his co-owners] about it, they said, 'Yes, let's do it!' " Besides the location and 10-year lease, a key factor was that "e-book sales have leveled off, which makes it seem that we've finally hit a balance point," he said. "So we feel better about signing a 10-year lease than we would have three or four years ago." Another factor: the new store "cuts a mile off my commute," Mulvihill said.

Green Apple Books on the Park will be located at 1231 9th Ave., San Francisco, Calif. 94122. --John Mutter

Grove Press: Shuggie Bain: A Novel by Douglas Stuart

Bookstore Sales Down 6.8% in February

February bookstore sales fell 6.8%, to $791 million, compared to February 2013, according to preliminary estimates from the Census Bureau. For the first two months of the year, bookstore sales fell 6.6%, to $2.55 billion. Total retail sales in February rose 1.8%, to $386.3 billion, compared to the same period a year ago. For the year to date, total retail sales rose 2.1%, to $776.2 billion.

Note: under Census Bureau definitions, the bookstore category consists of "establishments primarily engaged in retailing a general line of new books. These establishments may also sell stationery and related items, second-hand books, and magazines."

Three Booksellers on the Bookshop of the Future

At the London Book Fair last week, three booksellers--Steve Bercu, owner of BookPeople in Austin, Tex., and president of the American Booksellers Association; Sion Hamilton, retail operations director of Foyles in London; and Hiroshi Sogo, the managing director of AsianBasis Corporation, a subsidiary of the Japanese bookstore chain Books Kinokuniya--discussed how their stores have adapted to the sea changes of the past several years and what they plan going forward.

Sion Hamilton and Philip Jones

Hamilton led off at the panel, moderated by Philip Jones of the Bookseller, speaking about Foyles's new flagship store, which is set to open at 107-109 Charing Cross Road on June 11. In the process of designing the store, Hamilton and others at Foyles took the opportunity to "completely question" the natures of both bookselling and their organization. Foyles sought the opinions of everyone from customers and members of the general public to industry experts, retailers in other industries and its own frontline booksellers while deciding on a vision for a "bookshop of the 21st century." In February 2013, in fact, the store co-hosted a conference on just that topic; the event drew an international crowd of writers, publishers, librarians, booksellers and developers.

"At our workshop last year, someone demanded a Yo! Sushi-type conveyor belt of books," recalled Hamilton, referring to an English chain of sushi restaurants that features plates of sushi on conveyor belts. After realizing that bringing conveyor belts into the bookshop wouldn't work, Hamilton thought to invert the idea by displaying books along the store's stairways. "We devised a slot that we cut into the side of the atrium, and we have lecterns that sit at each landing. You can see all those lovely books as you walk up."

The flagship store will have six floors and contain, in addition to bookselling space, a cafe, gallery and atrium. Those three spaces, Hamilton related, can "interact, inform and be informed by the bookshop." The shop's various rooms, he went on, are meant to draw customers through a series of inviting spaces, and through their browsing, customers will be encouraged to discover new writers and break from their usual book-buying habits. And customers, he added, should "revel" in the experience of being surrounded by voices.

In his presentation, Steve Bercu reported that American indies are on an upswing after the downturn that lasted from 2007 to approximately 2009, and that the American Booksellers Association has been adding new members and new stores each year since then. At BookPeople, he added, every year since 2010 has set a new record as the best year in store history.

Steve Bercu, Hiroshi Sogo and Sion Hamilton

"No one has to come to our store to buy a book," said Bercu, who stressed the importance of crafting a great experience for customers. This experience, in whatever form it may take, has to be so compelling that it beats out not only "every conceivable form of entertainment" but also the convenience of lying in bed and shopping on a phone or lap. "I don't know if we're the future, I don't know what we are exactly, but we have a lot of fun doing it."

BookPeople's motto is "a community bound by books," and that determines everything that Bercu and his staff do. In addition to selling books, of course, they run book fairs and festivals (some as far afield as Boston, Mass., and Philadelphia, Pa.), host author events, birthday parties and book clubs, and even have two literary summer camps. In store, they have rows and rows of shelf-talkers, a cafe, BookPeople merchandise (including BookPeople bottled water), and many, many displays.

"These days we have pretty great relationships with publishers," Bercu said. "There was a time when I don't think publishers paid that much attention to indie booksellers, but they certainly do now." When asked about his store's ubiquitous branding, Bercu said that he no longer views other bookshops as competitors. "We're not interested with branding in regard to bookshops anymore. Frankly we don't care about Barnes & Noble anymore; we look at them as cousins now as opposed to enemies… We want to be a focal point for the community. That's what we're working in."

Like Hamilton and Bercu, Hiroshi Sogo stressed the importance of carefully curating customer experiences. Although Books Kinokuniya is a business many times larger than either BookPeople or Foyles--with 64 bookstores in Japan and another 26 across the globe--many of the challenges it has faced, Sogo said, have been the same as those faced by other physical retailers. Among those challenges are drastic price cuts by online retailers, showrooming, the erosion of "disposable time" by things like social networks and an apparent decline in interest in reading among young people.

Sogo called for a "common sense vision" of a return to sanity by creating bookshops that not only focus on experience and customer interaction--with both new books and other people--but also embrace new technology.

"We cannot afford being Luddites," Sogo urged, describing how Kinokuniya customers can search store inventory before they arrive and see whether particular books are in stock. Also in the works is a new Kinokuniya e-commerce platform. "Customers should be able to buy anywhere, anyhow," he said.

Sogo also discussed the necessity of running events and creating interesting, engaging displays. One such display, which came from the conversations of a few young staff members in Japan, involved covering 100 books with special paper so that customers could not see the title or the author, and writing the book's opening line or lines on that paper (Kinokuniya sought the permission of each book's publisher beforehand). The display was up for 60 days, and Sogo reported that the sales were phenomenal. Customers found it fascinating, and it even drew media attention and TV crews.

Sogo said, too, that bookstores need to emphasize hospitality and service. He discussed the Japanese word "omotenashi," which was used to illustrate Japanese hospitality and service in Japan's successful bid for the 2020 Olympics. When interacting with a customer, Sogo said, "you expose yourself as a person. You completely put yourself in front of a customer."

Sogo also commented on seeing other physical bookstores go out of business. "Every time a 'cousin' disappears, we weep," he said. "When Borders closed in Singapore, we were upset. The physical presence of books and bookshops is very important." --Alex Mutter

Obituary Notes: Peter Martin (James Melville); Patrick Seale

Peter Martin, a cultural diplomat and author of many books, has died, the Guardian reported. He was 83. Martin's books included the mystery series (under the pseudonym James Melville) featuring Superintendent Tetsuo Otani of the Kobe police, as well as histories, often centered on Japan.


Patrick Seale, who was an author, journalist, broadcaster, Middle East historian, literary agent, arts aficionado and dealer, died April 11, the Guardian reported. He was 83. One of the world's leading chroniclers of Syria and its history, Seale's last book was The Struggle for Arab Independence: Riad el-Solh and the Makers of the Modern Middle East.


Image of the Day: Brazos Redshirts

photo: Zach Chambers

As part of the 40th anniversary celebration at Brazos Bookstore in Houston, Tex., the staff is sporting spiffy new T-shirts. Pictured: (back row) Mark Haber, Keaton Patterson, (front row) Mary-Catherine Breed, Jeremy Ellis, store founder Karl Kilian, Liz Wright and Mary Allen. The store also redesigned its website.

Road Trip: 'Best Bookshops off the Beaten Track'

"From art in Paris to erotica in San Francisco," Herb Lester, author of the upcoming A London Pub for Every Occasion, offered a "tour of the world's finest independent bookshops," including Librairie Michael Seksik, Paris; McNally Jackson, New York City; Analogue Books, Edinburgh, Scotland; Walden Books, London and The Magazine, San Francisco.

WBN Boxes Pic of the Day: Watermark's 'Book Giver Reception'

From the Facebook page of Watermark Books & Cafe, Wichita, Kan.: "Wednesday is our World Book Night Book Giver Reception. We're so happy to be a part of such a great cause."

Personnel Changes at Grand Central

Jodi Rosoff has joined Grand Central Publishing in a new position, publicity & marketing director, Forever & Forever Yours. She was formerly associate director of publicity & marketing at Penguin Random House's Berkley/NAL division.

Media and Movies

TV: Conan the Comic-Con Talk Show Host

Conan O'Brien "is climbing another pop culture mountain" with plans to broadcast his late-night TBS show from Comic-Con in 2015, "when the studios, the networks and hundreds of thousands of the geekest geeks in geekdom all head to San Diego," reported. The show will take over the downtown Spreckels Theater, and while "this is the first time a late night show has aired from Comic-Con, this won't be the first time O'Brien has been to the confab. He was down there in 2011 to promote his animated alter ego the 'Flaming C' during a panel for the Green Lantern Animated series."

Media Heat: Carlotta Gall on Fresh Air

This morning on CBS This Morning: Lynne Martin, author of Home Sweet Anywhere: How We Sold Our House, Created a New Life, and Saw the World (Sourcebooks, $14.99, 9781402291531).


Today on Fresh Air: Carlotta Gall, author of The Wrong Enemy: America in Afghanistan, 2001-2014 (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $28, 9780544046696).


Tomorrow morning on the Today Show: Bob Harper, author of Jumpstart to Skinny: The Simple 3-Week Plan for Supercharged Weight Loss (Ballantine, $25, 9780345545107).


Tomorrow on the Steve Harvey Show: Tabatha Coffey, author of Own It!: Be the Boss of Your Life--at Home and in the Workplace (It Books, $24.99, 9780062251008).


Tomorrow on the View: Bill O'Reilly, author of The Last Days of Jesus: His Life and Times (Holt, $19.99, 9780805098778).


Tomorrow on Tavis Smiley: Ed Catmull, co-author of Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration (Random House, $28, 9780812993011).


Tomorrow night on a repeat of the Colbert Report: Mark Mazzetti, author of The Way of the Knife: The CIA, a Secret Army, and a War at the Ends of the Earth (Penguin, $17, 9780143125013).

Movies: Gone Girl; Allegiant; A Most Wanted Man

A trailer has been released for Gone Girl, adapted from Gillian Flynn's bestselling novel and starring Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Neil Patrick Harris, Tyler Perry, Missi Pyle and Patrick Fugit, reported, adding: "Take a look and see if you can get Richard Butler's eerie cover of the Charles Aznavour song 'She' out of your head."


As has become commonplace for Lionsgate/Summit movie franchises based on YA novels (see Twilight Saga and the Hunger Games), Lionsgate will adapt Veronica Roth's Divergent trilogy into a total of four films by splitting the third novel in the series, Allegiant, into two films. reported that Allegiant Part 1 will be released on March 18, 2016, and Allegiant Part 2 on March 24, 2017.


A new trailer has been released for A Most Wanted Man, based on John le Carré's 2008 novel and featuring the late Philip Seymour Hoffman in his final starring role, reported. Director Anton Corbijn's cast also includes Rachel McAdams, Willem Dafoe and Robin Wright. The movie opens July 25.

Books & Authors

Awards: Pulitzer Winners; Thwaites Wainwright Nature & Travel Writing

Among the winners of this year's Pulitzer Prizes:

Fiction: The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt (Little, Brown)
Poetry: 3 Sections by Vijay Seshadri (Graywolf Press)
General Nonfiction: Toms River: A Story of Science and Salvation by Dan Fagin (Bantam Books)
History: The Internal Enemy: Slavery and War in Virginia, 1772-1832 by Alan Taylor (Norton)
Biography or Autobiography: Margaret Fuller: A New American Life by Megan Marshall (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)


Finalists for the £5,000 (US$8,364) Thwaites Wainwright Prize, which "seeks to reward the best U.K. nature and travel writing."  The winner will be named May 8 in London. The shortlisted titles are:

Badgerlands by Patrick Barkham
The Old Ways by Robert Macfarlane
Walking Home by Simon Armitage
Field Notes from a Hidden City: An Urban Nature Diary by Esther Woolfson
Under Another Sky by Charlotte Higgins
The Green Road into the Trees: A Walk Through England by Hugh Thomson

Book Review

Review: Hotel Florida

Hotel Florida: Truth, Love, and Death in the Spanish Civil War by Amanda Vaill (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $30 hardcover, 9780374172992, April 22, 2014)

During the Spanish Civil War, Madrid's Hotel Florida was a meeting point for war correspondents, press officers and foreign intellectuals. Amanda Vaill (Everybody Was So Young) uses the hotel as a focal point to examine the war through the lives of three men and three women. These six individuals--all leftists of various stripes and pedigrees, converging on Spain from all over Europe and the U.S.--allow Vaill to range freely through the history of the war, which raged from 1936 to 1939.

Vaill follows her subjects chronologically, shifting locations through Francisco Franco's rebellion against the Popular Front government and the events that led up to the Spanish Civil War. Arturo Barea of Madrid serves as a censor for the Propaganda Department, finding his leftist politics and commitment to truth well matched by his new assistant Ilsa Kulcsar, who comes from an Austrian resistance cell and speaks many languages. Meanwhile, Ernest Hemingway feels stifled in Key West; a new war to cover provides him with an excuse to get away from his wife and find fresh material to revive his stagnant writing. (The attractive young journalist he's just met, Martha Gellhorn, is also eager to get to Spain.) Finally, a young man named Endre Friedmann is exuberantly pursuing his passion for photography in Paris when he meets the charming Gerta Pohorylle. They set off for Spain together with their ideals on their sleeves. Taking new names--Robert Capa and Gerda Taro--they will find fame and love and change the face of war photography forever. One of them will die on Spanish soil.

In addition to explaining the complexities of the Spanish Civil War, Hotel Florida lives up to its grand subtitle. Vaill examines the meaning of truth as conceived by each of her six players--writer, journalist, translator, censor, press officer, photographer.  Their romances, all born of war, and the deaths to which they bear witness bring emotion and heartbreak. Buttressed by plentiful research, Vaill's prose exhibits touches of Hemingway's own writing style and a gift for narrative that keeps Hotel Florida accessible and engaging. --Julia Jenkins

Shelf Talker: Vaill's story of three love affairs, set against the Spanish Civil War, yields a nuanced perspective on war journalism and romance.

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