Shelf Awareness for Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Beach Lane Books: We Are Going to Be Pals! by Mark Teague

Andrews McMeel Publishing: The Mysteries by Bill Watterson and John Kascht

Mariner Books: The Night Parade: A Speculative Memoir by Jami Nakamura Lin

Frayed Pages X Wattpad Books: The Burning by Anna Todd

Tor Books: Starling House by Alix E. Harrow

St. Martin's Press: The Last Outlaws: The Desperate Final Days of the Dalton Gang by Tom Clavin


Penguin Random House Introduces New Brand Identity

Penguin Random House has introduced its new brand identity that, as the company said, "underscores the importance of the written word to the company's culture and work" and that will most often be used in a pairing with one of Penguin Random House's 250 publishing divisions, imprints and brands around the world. The brand system, as the pairing design framework is called, is flexible and can be used not just at the publishing level, but also territorially. The company's well-known imprints and brand symbols also can continue to be used alone without the brand-system pairing--for example, on the spines of books. Because the company logo is graphic, it allows the division, imprint and brand logos paired with it, especially the ones that have images in addition to words, to stand out.

Design agency Pentagram helped develop the brand identity, which replaces the interim logo introduced July 1, 2013, when Penguin Group and Random House merged.

Penguin Random House CEO Markus Dohle commented: "Presenting our new Penguin Random House wordmark side by side with each of our publishing imprint and brand symbols powerfully communicates what makes our company so special: our collective expertise and global scale coupled with our local publishing teams giving diverse and important voices a platform and audience. This fundamental understanding of our heritage and of the company we are building together for the future informs the design of the brand identity, and how we will visually represent who we are."

Atheneum Books: Stuntboy, In-Between Time (Stuntboy #2) by Jason Reynolds, illustrated by Raúl the Third

Amazon vs. Hachette: Journal Column, More Takes

A column in the Wall Street Journal by L. Gordon Crovitz, former publisher of the Journal, called the conflict between Amazon and Hachette "the legacy of the Justice Department's doing Amazon's bidding and strange closeness with the Seattle e-tailer."

photo: New York Law Journal

Crovitz was particularly critical of Judge Denise Cote, who "instead of letting the market decide whether the wholesale model or agency model should prevail," punished Apple and five publishers for collusion by insisting "publishers be subject to Amazon's wholesale approach anyway, ordering book publishers to negotiate new deals with Amazon, with Hachette coming up first....

"In ruling against Apple, Judge Cote assured that her ruling would 'restore competition' in the e-book market. Instead, Amazon's market share has soared as Barnes & Noble pulled back on its Nook, while Sony and Samsung exited the e-reader market. Apple also seems focused elsewhere, such as its $3 billion acquisition last week of Beats, a company that makes headsets and streams music.

"Some book authors want the Justice Department to go after Amazon now, but a better approach would be to get out of the way. Given Judge Cote's shaky antitrust reasoning, there's a good chance the appeals court will reverse her ruling. Amazon, Apple and book publishers would then have the open market to determine whether retailers and book publishers ultimately use the wholesale or agency model--or both."


In a blog post called "Amazon Is Destroying My Favorite Things," author Peter Brown wrote in part: "Amazon does not love books. To Amazon, books are just a Loss Leader. Amazon loses money on books, but uses them to lure customers toward more profitable things. 'Check out our mysteriously cheap books,' whispers Amazon. 'And since you're here, why not reorder some regularly priced batteries and soap?'

"To sell things like batteries and soap Amazon has driven down the price of books, which has convinced people that books aren't worth much. But books have value. Books change lives, and they're beautiful objects, and they have a special place in our history and culture. Books are worth a lot.

"Bookstores that can't compete with Amazon's artificially low prices die off. When bookstores disappear, so do booksellers and book culture.

"And now Amazon is taking aim at publishers. Now Amazon is holding my books hostage."


Like Books-A-Million, Barnes & Noble has begun offering a special deal on genre Hachette titles: a "buy two and get the third free" offer on selected paperbacks.


Amazon has argued that its delays in stocking and shipping Hachette titles and not allowing preorders of forthcoming titles are just part of a normal bookstore-publisher give and take. On his blog, Jim Huang, manager of the Kenyon College Bookstore, Gambier, Ohio, addressed that argument:

"Barnes & Noble might decide not to stock copies of a title on the shelves of its stores based on its cover. Some independent stores might decide not to stock books from Amazon Publishing because Amazon won't make its titles available to independents on the same terms that Amazon expects others to sell to it. However, in either case, if a customer walks up to the store's special order counter, the booksellers will take the time to locate and order in a copy of that book with the hideous cover or that book published by the company that is the store's fiercest competitor. Booksellers will take the time, every time, and they'll do it happily. No 'real' bookseller--chain store or independent--would let a business disagreement stand in the way of a reader who's looking for a book. That's just not in a bookseller's DNA. The fact that Amazon is doing otherwise tells you that they're made of different stuff, that they're willing to impede readers trying to buy the books they want instead of just making books freely available to the best of their abilities."

Huang also noted Amazon's push for exclusivity: "Even on its Kindle platform--a system that allows many voices access to readers--Amazon is making an effort to restrict the market. Through its KDP Select program, Amazon offers significant incentives to encourage authors/publishers to sell exclusively on Amazon, not allowing any other retail sale of a digital text--not even on the author/publisher's own website. I can't think of any other example in the recent history of publishing where any one bookseller has ever tried to prevent publishers from offering books to other retailers.... If ideas are available from only one store, then the free marketplace of ideas isn't so free any more."

Rough Guides: The Rough Guide to Top LGBTQ+ Friendly Places in Europe (Inspirational Rough Guides) by Rough Guides

Justice Department Asking Publishers About 'Pricing Discussions'

Apparently Amazon has sent the Justice Department another "white paper."

The DOJ has approached the three publishers who first settled the 2012 suit over collusion on e-book pricing--Hachette, HarperCollins and Simon & Schuster--"asking about any recent pricing discussions they may have had with others in the industry," the Wall Street Journal reported.

"The inquiries, made in recent weeks by letter... have created anxiety in the publishing industry," the Journal wrote. "The inquiries reopened a sensitive and costly issue that publishers thought they had resolved, and raised the possibility of additional constraints on how they do business."

The Journal noted that "the significance of the Justice Department's latest move isn't clear. The inquiries don't necessarily mean any legal action is imminent or even likely, a person familiar with the situation said."

Amherst's Food for Thought Closes

Food for Thought Books, Amherst, Mass., which launched a successful Indiegogo campaign last October to stay in business, has closed. On Facebook yesterday, the collective shared its "hard news" in a post that said: "We did everything we could think of to move the store into a sustainable direction. We slashed every expense down to its bare minimum. We diversified our stock and reduced prices on everything in the store. We consulted and collaborated with financial experts, community organizers, local university groups and more."

Sales since reopening in a downsized space "have been marginal at best," the collective noted, adding: "We have consulted with legal counsel and have been advised to close the store and dissolve the business. This was a very difficult decision to make and we very much wish we didn't have to make it."

Fire Destroys Polish Bookstore in Clifton, N.J.

A fire Saturday night in Clifton, N.J., caused the building that housed Ksiegarnia, a Polish bookstore, to collapse, according to the Record. The fire started in the building next door and spread to Ksiegarnia's building. Arson is suspected.

Ksiegarnia was founded in 1992 in Passaic, N.J., and moved to Clifton in 2007. The store sells books, CDs, clothing, gifts and other items.

Explore Booksellers, Aspen, Colo., for Sale

Explore Booksellers, Aspen, Colo., is for sale, the Aspen Daily News reported. Owners Sam and Cheryl Wyly, who bought the store and its building in 2007, are asking $5.2 million for the store and building. As the Wylys' real estate broker, Karen Setterfield, noted, "The value we are selling is in the property," although the couple hopes to find a buyer who wants to keep the store running. Setterfield added that Sam Wyly is 79 and "focused on other things."

Explore Booksellers was founded in 1975 by Katherine Thalberg, who died in 2006 and whose daughters sold the store to the Wylys, when many feared the store would be closed. Sam Wyly had been a longtime customer of Explore Booksellers.

Sam Wyly and his late brother, Charles, are billionaires who have donated millions of dollars to conservative causes. Last month, they were found guilty of civil fraud in a case brought by the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Court Slows Hastings Entertainment Merger

A federal court has issued a temporary restraining order against the merger of Hastings Entertainment with two companies owned by Joel Weinshanker, president and owner of National Entertainment Collectibles Association, which already owns 12% of Hastings's shares. Hastings announced the court order yesterday.

The order came in a lawsuit by Hastings shareholders who, as the company put it, "are alleging, among other things, that the merger contemplated in the Merger Agreement provides for insufficient consideration to be paid to Hastings' shareholders in exchange for their shares of Hastings' common stock, that the officers and directors of Hastings breached their respective fiduciary duties in the course of negotiating and approving the Merger Agreement and that the other defendants aided and abetted such breach of fiduciary duties." This was apparently one of many lawsuits that were filed in the weeks after the merger was announced.

The order, filed last Friday, May 30, restricts Hastings from completing the merger before June 12, when a hearing is scheduled on a preliminary injunction.

Hastings said it believes the lawsuit was "improperly and prematurely filed under Texas law and that the claims alleged therein are factually incorrect and deficient as a matter of law." Hastings intends to dispute the suit "vigorously."

Under the merger plan, announced in March, Hastings shareholders will receive $3 per share and the company will merge with Draw Another Circle and become a wholly owned subsidiary of Hendrix Acquisition Corp., both of which are wholly owned by Weinshanker. National Entertainment Collectibles Association is a major supplier to Hastings of movie, book and video game merchandise and collectibles.

#BEA14: Tackling Gender Disparities

"I think a lot of what happens in terms of bias and the issue of bias in the media is that it's a secondary bias," said Pamela Paul, the editor of the New York Times Book Review, at a panel discussion entitled "Girl Books, Boy Books, Gender Hooks: Packaging, Positioning and Reviewing in the Fiction Marketplace" at BEA on Friday. "It's more subtle."

(L.-r.): Rebecca Mead, Jennifer Weiner, Rachel Kahan, Deb Futter and Pamela Paul.

The panel, presented by the Women's Media Group, was moderated by Rebecca Mead, New Yorker staff writer and author of My Life in Middlemarch, and featured Deb Futter, editor-in-chief at Grand Central Publishing, Rachel Kahan, executive editor at William Morrow, and Jennifer Weiner, author of All Fall Down.

Paul noted that even though most of the reviews editors for major publications that she could think of were women, reviews of books written by women are still much less common than reviews of books written by men. And although the New York Times Book Review's VIDA count numbers have improved under her watch, Paul admitted that she had made no deliberate effort to do so. As her male predecessors likely gravitated toward male reviewers, Paul has found that she tends to gravitate toward female reviewers. To emphasize her point that much of it is likely unconscious, Paul went down the table of contents for of an upcoming Book Review and pointed out that nearly every reviewer in the issue was a woman. "I didn't do it on purpose," Paul said. "A lot of it happens by accident."

Weiner suggested that these biases and discrepancies happen because of what individual reviewers, editors and critics internalize about which books are important and which writers have literary merit. And in many cases, the panel agreed, readers are told that male writers and their books are serious and important while female writers and their books generally are not. They touched, too, on the fact that fiction that is commercial or accessible is often seen as frivolous and unimportant.

Futter, one of the two publishers on the panel, brought up the issues of packaging and presentation--and the all-too familiar covers with pastel colors, parts of women's faces, bridal gowns and cocktail glasses--as something of a devil's advocate. "My job is to sell books," Futter said. "We have to try to hit our market, which in these cases are women. But are some of the covers stereotypical? Does that matter?"

"I think for certain kinds of genre books in women's fiction that's acceptable," said Kahan. "But there has been this insidious creep of pastel colors, cocktail glasses, body parts. It's very stereotypical. It telegraphs a message that this book is maybe not particularly important... it sends the message: by a lady, for a lady."

Paul brought up the power that the retailer Target has in cover design, and Weiner related that she and her publisher redesigned the cover of her most recent book, All Fall Down, because Target thought the original cover was "too quiet." Sales, too, have a strong effect on cover design: Futter explained that books with literary-seeming covers may be given more commercial, sometimes stereotypical covers when released in paperback if they underperformed in hardcover. "It's a really big question," Futter mused. "We have an obligation to sell books."

Women authors, Weiner proposed, are often put in the explicit position of having to decide whether they want reviews and respect or readers and sales. She also shined a light on the disparity that though women writers will almost assuredly alienate men by writing commercial fiction, male writers largely do not have to worry about alienating women readers at all. "Women read everything; we're taught to," Weiner said, while men are taught to see a certain kind of cover and think it's not for them. "Women don't feel penalized or shamed or ungendered or unsexed for reading those books.... For men, there's an issue there." --Alex Mutter


800-CEO-READ's Jack Covert Retires

Jack Covert, founder and president of business book retailer 800-CEO-READ, has retired. In 1984, Covert was hired by the late A. David Schwartz, then owner of Harry W. Schwartz Bookshops, to sell business and computer books to the Milwaukee business community via the bricks-and-mortar bookshop. Covert ultimately turned a three-shelf business section into 800-CEO-READ.

Recalling Covert's first days on the job, Carol Grossmeyer, Schwartz's widow and the company's current co-owner, said, "A table, a chair, a phone, and a Rolodex. David hired Jack, put him in front of a phone, and told him to start a business. Jack didn't know a thing about business books or publishing, but drew on some kind of innate idea of business he had and ultimately became who he is today--a great, self-made businessman."

Dean Karrel, v-p of trade sales at Wiley, said, "Jack's fingerprints are all over our industry, working with great authors, editors, marketers and salespeople. He was years ahead of everyone else striving for collaboration between all of us in publishing. Not a bad reputation to have; an innovator, a leader, entrepreneur and a heck of nice guy!"

Prairie Lights' Paul Ingram: 'Champion of Fine Literature' & Author

Paul Ingram, the "well-read, longtime book buyer at revered bookstore" Prairie Lights in Iowa City, Iowa, was interviewed by the Des Moines Register about his bookselling life as well as his new book, The Lost Clerihews of Paul Ingram (Ice Cube Press). On Facebook last week, the bookstore posted a photo of him signing the first copies.

Ingram has worked at Prairie Lights for 25 years and owner Jan Weissmiller said, "I'm not exaggerating when I say he is one of the top four or five booksellers in the country." The Register noted that people "travel to Prairie Lights just so he can guide them to a good book. A father and son fly from the opposite coasts to meet at Prairie Lights once a year and load up on Ingram's recommendations."

"Not just a book that's pretty good and you toss aside," Ingram said of his handselling picks. "A book that will change your life!... I have that love and passion for books. It's something you might remember the rest of your life." The Register also featured a list of 50 books Ingram "would rather be reading."

Penguin Random House to Distribute Legendary Comics

Under a new, multi-year agreement, Penguin Random House Publisher Services will distribute Legendary Comics, a division of Legendary Entertainment, to the book trade. In addition to distribution, Penguin Random House will provide sales, production and publishing services. Legendary will continue to work with Diamond in the direct market.

Penguin Random House Publisher Services publisher Jeff Abraham commented: "Legendary is known for creating some of the most popular films of the past decade. We're excited to partner with Legendary Comics and to help grow their publishing unit into a thriving participant in the graphic novel market."

In connection with the agreement, Legendary Comics announced three new titles: A Town Called Dragon (September), Epochalypse (fall 2014) and The Harvester (2015).

Personnel Changes at Indigo Books & Music

Effective June 25, Laura Carr is being promoted to executive v-p and chief financial officer of Indigo Books & Music. She is currently senior v-p, finance, and succeeds outgoing CFO Kay Brekken, who is taking a job at another company.

Carr qualified as a chartered accountant with PricewaterhouseCoopers, where she worked in London, England, and Sydney, Australia, mostly with retail accounts. She later was regional CFO, Americas, and U.K. CFO for JT International and joined Indigo last November.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Evan Osnos on Fresh Air

Today on Fresh Air: Evan Osnos, author of Age of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth, and Faith in the New China (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $27, 9780374280741).


Tomorrow morning on Fox & Friends: Peter Rhee, co-author of Trauma Red: The Making of a Surgeon in War and in America's Cities (Scribner, $28, 9781476727295).


Tomorrow on the Wendy Williams Show: Alison Sweeney, author of Scared Scriptless (Hyperion, $15, 9781401311056). She will also appear on VH1's Big Morning Buzz.


Tomorrow on Extra: Pamela Skaist-Levy, co-author of The Glitter Plan: How We Started Juicy Couture for $200 and Turned It into a Global Brand (Gotham, $27, 9781592408092).


Tomorrow on NPR's Diane Rehm Show: Brando Skyhorse, author of Take This Man: A Memoir (Simon & Schuster, $26, 9781439170878).


Tomorrow on the View: Katherine Schwarzenegger, author of I Just Graduated ... Now What?: Honest Answers from Those Who Have Been There (Crown Archetype, $20, 9780385347204).


Tomorrow night on the Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson: Garrison Keillor, author of The Keillor Reader (Viking, $27.95, 9780670020584).


Tomorrow night on the Tonight Show: Kendall and Kylie Jenner, authors of Rebels: City of Indra: The Story of Lex and Livia (Karen Hunter/Gallery, $17.99, 9781451694420).

Books & Authors

Awards: IndieReader Discovery; Maine Literary; Forward Poetry

Winners of the 2014 IndieReader Discovery Awards, sponsored by IndieReader, include a first, second and third place winner in each of the fiction and nonfiction categories, in addition to 29 titles in 32 sub-categories. See all the winners here.


Winners of the Maine Literary Awards, sponsored by the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance, can be seen here.


The Forward Arts Foundation has named finalists for the £10,000 (about US$16,750) Forward Prize for Poetry and the £5,000 Felix Dennis Prize for Best First Collection. Winners will be announced September 30. This year's shortlisted books are:

Best Collection
The Whole & Rain-Domed Universe by Colette Bryce         
All One Breath by John Burnside        
Faithful and Virtuous Night by Louise Glück           
The Cartographer Tries to Map a Way to Zion by Kei Miller                
I Knew the Bride by Hugo Williams        

First Collection
Black Country by Liz Berry                     
Bright Travellers by Fiona Benson             
Moontide by Niall Campbell           
The Invention of Fireworks by Beatrice Garland       
Letter Composed During a Lull in the Fighting by Kevin Powers             
Grun-tu-molani by Vidyan Ravinthiran  

Exploring Paris with Cara Black

I was lucky enough to sit down with Cara Black, author of the Aimée Leduc detective series--the latest is Murder in Pigalle (Soho Crime)--at the Tucson Festival of Books. Black told a story about how someone referred to her mysteries (which are set in 1990s Paris), as "historical fiction." That made me laugh, and made me wonder about how difficult it is to keep a series fresh after so many years.

Is it hard to write books that keep series fans happy, but are still approachable for new readers?

That's a great question! I never thought I was writing a series. I was passionate to tell the story in my first book, Murder in the Marais, and then my editor said, "Where is Aimée going next? You are writing a series?" and I said yes, and went to the next place she'd be. So the first book was set in 1993, and now, 14 books later, we're still in 1998.

What I realized the challenge is, is to keep it familiar, and yet fresh. I'm excited about where the series is going now, with Aimée being pregnant, and having to deal with things she's always avoided. It's a challenge for me, and for Aimée, and she's going to have to grow up in some ways.

Is it hard to write books set slightly in the past? To remember what technology came out when?

It totally is, it's a real challenge. As I kept writing the books, I just moved the plots along a few months, and so now, instead of writing about the present, we're in 2014 talking about 1998. Did they have dial-up? Was Wired magazine out? And I always get e-mails from readers saying, "I like your book, but you know in France they pay in euros, not francs."

And often I drive down to the Stanford library, and look at microfiche, and look at the newspapers for a particular day in 1998 and see who was on strike, what was on sale, what the weather was, what world events were; it helps me go into that time. Then I try to set the books with current events, like the World Cup, which was in Paris in 1998, to help people remember.

Do you think you might ever decide to flash forward? Suddenly have Aimée and her 12-year-old kid interacting?

It's a possibility. I mean, I like paying in francs. There's something about it. And I don't have to worry about Facebook and things like that. I considered moving ahead at one point, when MySpace was big, but now who even remembers MySpace? It's tricky with technology. If I do move forward, how would I do it? I think about it, and then I think I like where Aimée is. Because otherwise you have to kind of subvert the modern technology to tell the kind of story I'm telling. There's only so many times a cellphone can be out of range, etc., and I want character-driven books, not technology driven.

Since you're not French, what inspired you to set your series in Paris?

Well, I had visited France, I read a lot of Georges Simenon, which I loved, but those are set a long time ago. I had a story I wanted to tell about a Jewish girl in hiding in Paris during World War II [in Murder in the Marais]. And then I was staying in Paris with friends, and I looked around, and no one was writing about modern-day Paris, what it was like to live there, in English anyway. I wanted to write about the people I know, where they go, not the tourist traps. So I started setting my books in different arrondissements, in the places I'd been, and seen.

My third book is set in the garment district, because I loved that area. I ended up there after missing a bus, and there were basement sweatshop workers, and then above was where Madame Pompadour had lived, and then on top there were gaming start-ups, and I wanted to reflect that juxtaposition.

Do you have a favorite arrondissement? Do you stay in different areas when you're researching your books?

I love them all, they're all so different. I like the working-class part of the 17th; I'm going to be cat-sitting for a friend in the 10th soon. Even in the years since I set a book in the 10th, it's become so different, so bo-bo (bourgeois-bohème), with all these trendy, upscale little restaurants popping up.

I joined the historical society there, and they told me to talk to this woman who is in her 90s, and lives in the same building she was born in. I stayed all afternoon listening to her stories of how the neighborhood has changed in her life. She remembered horses pulling barges along the canal! I just love these kind of stories, and the saga of these neighborhoods, and that's what I want to put into my books.

Do you think you could ever see yourself wanting to write something besides Aimée Leduc?

There are a couple of arrondissements I haven't killed people in yet. And my editor said that I can take Aimée out of Paris now, so maybe she'll go to Versailles, or Marseilles, or even Prague on vacation, which is really exciting! That infuses me with a new interest in what she can do outside of her Paris base. --Jessica Howard, blogger at Quirky Bookworm

Book Review

Review: The Quick

The Quick by Lauren Owen (Random House, $27 hardcover, 9780812993271, June 17, 2014)

The owls have always been in young James Norbury's nursery. He and his sister, Charlotte, live in Aiskew Hall, an old, spacious Yorkshire house. Mother is dead, Father is usually away. Except for the housekeeper and a few employees, the children are alone. One of their favorite pastimes is playing in the hidden "priest hole" behind the moveable bookcase in Father's library. One day he returns, only to die soon after. It's now that Lauren Owen's first novel, The Quick, really gets going, perfectly rendering the rich and moody Gothic world of late-19th-century London.

Years later, after graduating form Oxford, James goes to London and shares lodging with fellow classmate Christopher Paige. James, who fancies himself a nascent poet, stays in to work on his writing; Christopher parties and drinks, keeps late hours and arrives home smelling of wine and tobacco. Late one evening, their attraction for one another is undeniable and they kiss. James shudders, feeling as if a "gold-tipped arrow had finally found its mark."

When James finishes drafting a play, Christopher convinces him they should leave it on Oscar Wilde's doorstep that evening in the hopes the great writer will read it. On the way over, they're surprised by a stranger who tells James he's an "admirer" of his. The stranger suddenly attacks Christopher, his "teeth... at his throat." He then picks up James as if he were a piece of paper: "This won't take a minute." James felt cold, then as if he was away from himself, and finally alone.

Part Two takes us a few years back, to December 10, 1868. In his notebook, Augustus Mould writes about his friend Edmund and a very private London club named after an owl--the exclusive Aegolius Club has only 52 members. He writes, too, of how Edmund can enter his mind. It's a "cold feeling," a "sickening invasion."

Eventually, Charlotte comes to London to look for her missing brother, and the tale's labyrinthine turns all start to converge. Owen's achievement here is how intelligently she pulls together her disparate plots into a believable and fantastic whole. From "mazement" to "the exchange," from a rival gang of vampires to magic, Owen has created an intricate world in which the reader feels a part. Take the trip, if you dare, into a luscious Victorian London rendered by a gifted young British writer who seems weaned on equal parts Sherlock Holmes, Buffy Summers and Harry Potter. The sequel is sure to be just as delicious. --Tom Lavoie

Shelf Talker: This detailed, complex foray into the world of Victorian vampires from a new novelist is a dark tale of the dead and the Quick.

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