Also published on this date: Wednesday, July 9, 2014: Maximum Shelf: Painted Horses

Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Marvel Press: Okoye to the People: A Black Panther Novel by Ibi Zoboi, illustrated by Noa Denmon

Knopf Publishing Group: Sea of Tranquility by Emily St John Mandel

Algonquin Books: The Wonders by Elena Medel, translated by Lizzie Davis and Thomas Bunstead

Minotaur Books: The Shadow House by Anna Downes

Soho Crime: One-Shot Harry by Gary Phillips


Amazon's 'Offer': 100% of E-Book Sales for Hachette Authors

It seems a bit like a mugger wanting praise for donating stolen goods to a charity.

In a letter sent to select Hachette authors, literary agents and Authors Guild president Roxana Robinson over the weekend, David Naggar, Amazon's v-p of Kindle content and independent publishing, said the online retailer was looking for feedback on an idea it "is thinking of proposing": that publisher's authors "would get 100% of the sales price of every Hachette e-book we sell. Both Amazon and Hachette would forgo all revenue and profit from the sale of every e-book until an agreement is reached."

Gigaom noted it "is likely that the company suspected--or hoped--the letter would become public as a means of putting pressure on Hachette," but pointed out that since Amazon "takes a 30% commission on each e-book sale (it is reportedly looking to increase that commission as a result of these negotiations) and Hachette gets 70%, Hachette gets a worse deal from such an arrangement than Amazon does."

Both companies issued statements yesterday, with Hachette saying: "Amazon has just sent us a brief proposal. We invite Amazon to withdraw the sanctions they have unilaterally imposed, and we will continue to negotiate in good faith and with the hope of a swift conclusion. We believe that the best outcome for the writers we publish is a contract with Amazon that brings genuine marketing benefits and whose terms allow Hachette to continue to invest in writers, marketing, and innovation. We look forward to resolving this dispute soon and to the benefit of the writers who have trusted their books to us."

Amazon countered: "We call baloney. Hachette is part of a $10 billion global conglomerate. It wouldn't be 'suicide.'* They can afford it. What they're really making clear is that they absolutely want their authors caught in the middle of this negotiation because they believe it increases their leverage. All the while, they are stalling and refusing to negotiate, despite the pain caused to their authors. Our offer is sincere. They should take us up on it."
(*The term "suicide" referred to Hachette's earlier description of Amazon's proposal as "suicidal" in a statement to the Wall Street Journal; that story was subsequently updated and the reference removed, Gigaom wrote).
Douglas Preston, who drafted an open letter--signed by a number of bestselling authors--last week calling on Amazon to resolve the dispute, told the Wall Street Journal the new proposal would be "devastating" to Hachette while "barely hurting Amazon at all." He also objected to the proposal because Hachette has supported him throughout his career: "There's something wrong with this. My publisher gave me a very large advance for the book they are about to publish. Morally, I would have to turn over that [Amazon] money to them."

"We made an offer in April that was the largest we ever made to any retailer, and in May made another that was higher still," said a Hachette spokeswoman. "Both offers were rejected."

In the New York Times, Authors Guild president Robinson said if Amazon "wants to have a constructive conversation about this, we're ready to have one at any time. But this seems like a short-term solution that encourages authors to take sides against their publishers. It doesn't get authors out of the middle of this--we're still in the middle. Our books are at the center of this struggle."

Broadleaf Books: A Complicated Choice: Making Space for Grief and Healing in the Pro-Choice Movement by Katey Zeh

HarperCollins Relaunches Website, Emphasizes Direct Sales

HarperCollins has launched a redesigned website that emphasizes direct sales to consumers, including U.S. print, e-book and audiobooks to U.S. consumers and U.S. e-books around the world wherever HarperCollins holds rights. Similar sites will be launched soon by other HarperCollins divisions, beginning with the U.K. in August, and Canada and Australia.

The company said, "The capability to sell directly will enable the company to better understand consumer preferences and, most importantly, further extend the global reach of its authors." HarperCollins emphasized, too, that its authors will be able to use the technology to sell directly from their own websites.

Promotional areas on the site highlight authors and include links to watch author videos, read sample chapters, listen to audio and sign up for author or genre newsletters and the HarperCollins daily deals e-mail, Bookperk. Some titles are discounted. (A random check found that the few discounted titles were 15% off on print books with free shipping and 20% off e-books.)

While the site does have links to other retailers, they're rather difficult to find. After clicking on a "view more retailers" link on a book information page, IndieBound, a handful of indies, as well as Amazon, B&N, Kobo, BAM, Hastings, Waterstones, Target, Google Play, Walmart, Hive, Hastings, W.H. Smith and Hudson are listed. In drop down boxes below are more retailers in three categories: online, specialty and international. Oddly, several of the indie booksellers weren't notified that they'd be listed.

Chief marketing officer Angela Tribelli said, "Our mission as a 21st century publisher is to connect authors and readers. The elegant, consumer-centric design of the site provides an innovative platform for our authors that will boost the discoverability of their books, drive sales, and--ultimately--launch writing careers."

HarperCollins chief digital officer Chantal Restivo-Alessi added, "We are excited to be able to offer an e-commerce solution to our authors, ensuring their books are always available to their fans. As a publisher, we want to offer as many paths to the consumer as possible."

G.P. Putnam's Sons: Booth by Karen Joy Fowler

LéaLA Book Fair to Return in 2015

LéaLA, the Los Angeles Spanish-language book fair that was not held in 2014 after "three successful and growing years," will return in 2015. Jacket Copy reported that the event, originally launched by the University of Guadalajara USA Foundation and others, "depended, in large measure, on government funding from Mexican sources," but foundation president Raul Padilla Lopez said a change of administration in Mexico last year affected LéaLA's bid to raise its $2 million operating budget.

"We're coming back," said Marisol Schulz Manaut, LéaLA's director. "The Spanish-speaking community of Los Angeles made this book fair their own, and we're going to give it back to them." The event will take place May 15-17, 2015, at the Los Angeles Convention Center.

University of California Press: Savage Journey: Hunter S. Thompson and the Weird Road to Gonzo (1st ed.) by Peter Richardson

U.K. Retailer Jarrold 'Boosts Its Bookshop Credentials'

"Books have always been part of our DNA... but 20 years ago we had double the turnover," Michelle Jarrold, development director of the 170-year-old U.K. department store Jarrold, told the Bookseller to explain why the company chose to move its book section to the lower ground floor (from the ground floor), creating 'something much more like a bookshop in feel, and less like a department [store].... With 30,000 titles and £1.2 million [about US$2 million] a year turnover, books are actually very important to the department store and very much part of our DNA." John Jarrold II originally launched the business as a bookseller, publisher and printer before moving to its present site on London Street in Norwich in 1840.

"I want publishers to understand we have a serious book department. We value it because it is so much part of our heritage and I feel very passionate about it," Michelle Jarrold said.

The Bookseller noted that Jarrold "is run with the values of an independent bookshop, priding itself on throwing glittering author events and launches.... Manned by at least five experienced booksellers each day, the department also holds a monthly book club and hosts literary lunches."

Assouline Bookstore Boutique Opens in Venice

A ribbon-cutting ceremony marked the opening of the first Assouline bookstore boutique in Venice, Italy, located on the ground level of the historic Bauer Hotel. Luxury Travel magazine reported the store "is decorated in beautiful original wallpaper and decorative, exposed ceiling beams. Additions of Assouline-designed walnut bookcases and wall shelves, antique vintage table, and specially designed light fixtures make the store extremely chic and the books all glow very evenly." Assouline boutique locations include Paris, London, New York City, Los Angeles, Mexico City, Istanbul, Lima, Seoul and Kuwait City.

Obituary Note: Mary Rodgers

Mary Rodgers, the composer (Once Upon a Mattress)--and daughter of music legend Richard Rodgers--who eventually switched to children's fiction and wrote the 1972 bestseller Freaky Friday, died June 26, the Guardian reported. She was 83. In an appreciation, Guardian children's books editor Julia Eccleshare observed that Freaky Friday "continued to entertain readers long after publication and deservedly earned its place in The Cambridge Guide to Children's Books in English."


Image of the Day: Jersey Girl

Last night, BookTowne, Manasquan, N.J., hosted a launch party for Stephanie Evanovich's second novel, The Sweet Spot (Morrow), at the Brielle Public Library. Evanovich (standing, in black sweater) is from nearby Asbury Park.

Santa Fe's Garcia Street Books

The Santa Fe New Mexican visited Garcia Street Books, which was bought two and a half years ago by Rick Palmer and Adam Gates, who "say they can compete in the era of Amazon because voracious readers like being in a store surrounded by titles they might not notice or explore online," the paper wrote.

Another important edge for the store is knowing customers' interests. The paper continued: "Collectively, they say, they can figure out what will sell in Santa Fe because they understand the appetites of the reading public."

Popular books at Garcia Street Books include art and interior design titles, cookbooks, books about the region and history and biography. Features New J.K. Rowling Story

A new, 1,500-word story by J.K. Rowling about 30-something Harry Potter and his friends attending the final of the Quidditch World Cup 2014 debuted on yesterday. The Bookseller reported this "marks the first time Rowling has portrayed the characters as adults with careers and families following the epilogue of the final book in the Harry Potter series." Written for the Daily Prophet by gossip columnist Rita Skeeter, the piece is a deft satire of British tabloid journalism, portraying Harry with "threads of silver" in his black hair and glasses "better suited to a style-deficient 12-year-old"; Ron Weasley, whose "famous ginger hair appears to be thinning slightly"; and asking, in a tabloid-ish rhetorical way: "Does Hermione Granger prove that a witch can have it all? (No--look at her hair)."

As the Pottermore Insider blog put it, Skeeter "is in Patagonia prior to the hotly anticipated final of the World Cup, and true to form she is providing Daily Prophet readers with all the gossip on the VIP visitors at the tournament.... find out which ex-Hogwarts student is rumored to be applying for the job of Matron at Hogwarts, which relationship she believes is on the rocks, and her theories on why one famous Auror is sporting a nasty cut on his face."

Candlewick Press Realigns Marketing Team

Candlewick Press has realigned its marketing team "to support the company's strong growth and capitalize even more robustly on new opportunities in the marketplace." Effective immediately:

  • Susan Batcheller has been promoted to senior v-p, commercial operations, Candlewick, and continues as group commercial operations director for the Walker Books Group.
  • Jennifer Roberts has been promoted to v-p of publicity and executive director of marketing campaigns.
  • Sharon Hancock has been promoted to executive director of library marketing and outreach.
  • Kathleen Rourke has been promoted to executive director of educational sales and marketing.
  • Tracy Miracle has been promoted to publicity and marketing campaigns director for Candlewick and senior group communications officer for the Walker Books Group.
  • Laura Rivas has been promoted to publicity, brands, and consumer outreach director.
  • Erika Denn has been promoted to senior publicist.


Personnel Changes at RH, Scholastic, Coffee House, Princeton, S&S

Becky Green has been promoted to v-p, director, children's retail sales, at Random House Children's Books. She was previously the division's v-p, national accounts.


Netta Rabin has been appointed v-p of product development for Klutz, the Scholastic imprint. She was formerly associate art director and editor for children's books, nonfiction books and calendars for both the adult and children's lists at Workman Publishing. She began her career at the Penguin Group as a designer for the Grosset & Dunlap imprint, then moved to Handprint Books/SmartInk Books, where she was managing editor and art director. 


Effective in August, Stacie Williams is joining Coffee House Press as publicist. She has been working at HarperCollins as a sales support associate and earlier worked at Harry W. Schwartz Bookshops and Boswell Book Company in Milwaukee. She is looking forward to returning to the Midwest.


Effective July 21, Julia Haav is joining Princeton University Press as senior publicist. She has been publicist at Yale University Press and earlier was a publicist at Europa Editions.


Christine Naulty is joining the education & library marketing department at Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing Division in the newly created position of marketing associate. She has worked as a marketing assistant for Oxford University Press for two years and received a Masters of Science in Publishing from New York University.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Laurence Packer Talks Bees on Fresh Air

Today on Fresh Air: Laurence Packer, author of Keeping the Bees: Why All Bees Are at Risk and What We Can Do to Save Them (Harper, $15.99, 9780062306463).


Tomorrow on KCRW's Bookworm: Alice Notley, author of Negativity's Kiss (Presses Universitaires de Rouen, 9791024001166). As the show put it: "The heroine of Alice Notley's noir epic poem Negativity's Kiss is named Ines. This is short for 'inessential,' which is what Notley says the poet is, and, really, what we all are. She believes poetry is a great healer, and, wishing to remind us that our planet is small, when we die, poetry is what we return to. Ines writes poems that are emitted from what Notley calls 'the garble,' which is all the information we receive through the media and the internet as opposed to our known senses. Ines, like Notley herself, wishes to use her poetry to make things better, but in the world of Notley's noir, this isn't possible."


Tomorrow on MSNBC's the Cycle: Joel Gold and Ian Gold, authors of Suspicious Minds: How Culture Shapes Madness (Free Press, $19.50, 9781439181553).


Tomorrow on Tavis Smiley: Alex Tizon, author of Big Little Man: In Search of My Asian Self (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $27, 9780547450483).

Also on Tavis Smiley: Sister Simone Campbell, author of A Nun on the Bus: How All of Us Can Create Hope, Change, and Community (HarperOne, $25.99, 9780062273543).


Tomorrow night on a repeat of Conan: George R.R. Martin.

TV: Sharp Objects

Three months ahead of the release of Gone Girl, eOne Television announced it is developing and producing Gillian Flynn's 2006 novel Sharp Objects as a one-hour drama series, reported. Marti Noxon will serve as showrunner/writer on the project, with Flynn as executive producer.

Books & Authors

Awards: Midwest Booksellers Choice

The winners of the Midwest Booksellers Choice Awards, honoring authors from and books about the Midwest and voted on by members of the Midwest Independent Booksellers Association, are:

Adult fiction: Shotgun Lovesongs by Nickolas Butler (Thomas Dunne)
Adult nonfiction: Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer (Milkweed)
Poetry: What the Heart Knows by Joyce Sidman (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
Children's literature (YA & middle grade): Flora & Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo (Candlewick)
Children's picture book: This Is a Moose by Richard T. Morris, illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld (Little, Brown for Young Readers)

The awards will be presented September 30 during the Heartland Fall Forum in Minneapolis, Minn.

Book Brahmin: Conn Iggulden

photo: Jules Beresford

Conn Iggulden has written for as long as he can remember: poetry, short stories and novels. He taught English for seven years and was Head of English at St. Gregory's RC High School in London by the end of that period. He's the author of the Emperor novels, which chronicle the life of Julius Caesar. and is co-author of The Dangerous Book for Boys. Wars of the Roses: Stormbird (Putnam, July 8, 2014) is the start of a new series. He lives with his wife and four children in Hertfordshire, England.

On your nightstand now:

The Only Way to Stop Smoking Permanently by Allen Carr. It makes an argument for stopping--and about halfway through the book, you find yourself saying, "Huh," and just... stopping. No cravings, nothing. I made a point of finishing it, and I keep it like a talisman. In fiction, I'm reading The Iron Castle by Angus Donald: great medieval adventure, historical fiction based around the time of Robin Hood.

Favorite book when you were a child:

The Usborne Book of Spies. I lost it, so it became, in those pre-Internet days, unbearably precious, a symbol of my childhood, a treasure trove of knowledge I would never have: an irreplaceable book. Then the Internet came along, and I bought a copy on eBay. Apart from that, I loved The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, Aged 13 3/4 by Sue Townsend. I read all the sequels, and I was ever so sorry to hear she had passed earlier this year. Hers are still among the funniest books I have ever read.

Your top five authors:

James Clavell for Tai-Pan and Shōgun; Jerome K. Jerome for Three Men in a Boat; David Gemmell for Waylander and the Drenai Tales; Raymond E. Feist for Pug (from the Riftwar Saga); and Wilbur Smith for the Courtney family.

Book you've faked reading:

Beyond using Cliffs or Brodie's Notes a couple of times in school, I don't, I really don't. I do put books down if they don't keep my interest. I expect people to do the same with mine--just give me 20 pages. Read them in the shop if you like. If it doesn't grab you, put it down!

Book you're an evangelist for:

The Allen Carr book above. It works. If you want to stop smoking, get that book and smoke along as you read it. That's if you want to, you know. The worst that could possibly happen is that nothing will change.

Book you've bought for the cover:

The Complete Tales and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe--it was just a beautiful edition in black with silver lettering and red, debossed illustration and silver-edged paper. I am a sucker for fine editions. In fact, I went through a phase of having my old Bible, Hans Christian Andersen and Grimm Brothers books all rebound in calf leather to last another generation or six.

Book that changed your life:

In terms of my own, The Dangerous Book for Boys, as it won prizes and reached a lot of people. I hope it will continue to do so if the TV proposal with Bryan Cranston comes off. That would be a joy, as I loved him in Malcolm in the Middle and, of course, Breaking Bad.

In terms of books I've read, it must be Caesar by Christian Meier, a work of history written so vividly that scenes kept flashing into my head as I read it. That was my starting point for writing about the young Julius. Meier died before I could ever thank him, unfortunately.

Favorite line from a book:

I was intrigued to look through previous Book Brahmin examples. A line of poetry makes sense, for the sheer power and impact one line can have. For example, the haiku written by a Japanese mother in the 18th century [Chiyo-Jo] after the death of her son, just before she went into a monastery for the rest of her life: "Dragonfly catcher,/ Where today/ have you gone?" The joy and loss and exuberance in "Dragonfly catcher" makes me gulp every time I read it, father of four that I am. Yet, in prose novels, good characters are built to a more sustained peak of suspense and intimacy. Novels are tantric, compared to poetry. Individual lines might have terrific impact, but always in the context. They can't often be yanked out and laid bare without an awful lot of explanation.

Which character you most relate to:

The most intricate and layered character in Shakespeare is a hundred times simpler than the simplest living man. Human beings are extraordinarily complex, to the point where I sometimes think we are little more than an ant riding an elephant--and with no real sense of how to steer. In other words, while I might recognize individual traits in a character, not one will resemble me, not really. Or if they do, I won't know myself well enough to recognize it. A friend of mine said how much an awkward wedding speech in a recent BBC Sherlock episode reminded them of me. On the walls of the ancient oracle at Delphi was the phrase in Greek: "Know Thyself." Recognizing aspects of one's character in others requires a level of self-knowledge that I don't think I have.

Book you most want to read again for the first time:

After the last question, an easy one. Patrick O'Brian wrote 21 books [in the Aubrey Maturin series]--a few were made into a film, Master and Commander. I usually enjoy fast-paced books, but somehow these snuck under the radar and I was enjoying them before I realized they're all about the people and not a huge amount happens. They are treasures--gentle books full of nautical terms and delight in language and music and ships and the sea. They were a joy to me for a very long time. I cannot go back to being young, but I can read them all again and wish it was all for the first time.

How it makes you feel that there are some people in the world who will never read one of your books. Good people, Conn--people who pet their dogs and water their plants and stare up at the stars and wonder every now and then, but somehow, they just won't ever pick one up:

It makes me sad. It's not right. It's just... not... right.

Book Review

Children's Review: Quest

Quest by Aaron Becker (Candlewick, $15.99 hardcover, 40p., ages 4-8, 9780763665951, August 26, 2014)

This triumphant wordless picture book reunites the girl with the red crayon, the boy with the purple crayon, and the majestic purple bird from Aaron Becker's debut, Journey (a 2014 Caldecott Honor book). Their tandem bicycle (with one purple wheel and one red wheel) silently attests to the cementing of their friendship.

As the two take refuge from a rainstorm under a stone bridge in a city park, the girl spies a doorway. A king emerges from the double doors and thrusts a document into the boy's hands. The monarch, seized by soldiers and pulled back through the doorway, tosses an orange crayon that matches his crown and robe. The girl fetches the crayon and places it in her toolbelt. A three-part vignette shows the children each drawing a key that unlocks one of the double doors, and their adventure begins.

With a turn of the page, Becker takes readers into a full-spread, full-bleed vista of the monarch's kingdom, with the royal gentleman held captive on the back of a giant boat. Fires blazing from several towers suggest the threat of danger as the young heroes examine the king's document. Becker zooms in on a map with a half-dozen landmarks circled and connected by a rainbow of different colors, foreshadowing the scavenger hunt to follow.  To reach their first destination, an underwater ruin, the boy draws a purple squid (on which they hitch a ride), and the girl sketches red fins and oxygen tanks (one for the bird, too). Again, Becker makes use of three-part vignettes to chronicle the events, and a turn of the page reveals an Atlantis-like city glowing in golden light. The children take its source of illumination, a yellow crayon, and add it to the tool belt. A purple rhinoceros carries them to their next destination--a lighthouse off the shore of a mainland resembling a scene out of an Indiana Jones movie. This time a green crayon is the source of illumination. With each accomplishment, the children narrowly escape the army that holds the king captive.

Becker's use of white space for his vignettes quickens the pace, while his full-bleed spreads beg readers to pause and pore over the details. He tucks in rewards for re-readers, such as a map inscribed on the lighthouse that replicates the one on the endpapers. In the final harrowing escape, the purple bird plays a key role and lights up the sky. Fans will eagerly anticipate the final installment of this engrossing wordless journey. --Jennifer M. Brown

Shelf Talker: The girl and boy who met in Aaron Becker's 2014 Caldecott Honor book, Journey, here join forces in an edge-of-the-seat wordless adventure.

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