Also published on this date: Wednesday, August 6, 2014: Maximum Shelf: The Goddess of Small Victories

Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, August 6, 2014

S&S / Marysue Rucci Books: The Night We Lost Him by Laura Dave

Wednesday Books: When Haru Was Here by Dustin Thao

Tommy Nelson: Up Toward the Light by Granger Smith, Illustrated by Laura Watkins

Tor Nightfire: Devils Kill Devils by Johnny Compton

Shadow Mountain: Highcliffe House (Proper Romance Regency) by Megan Walker


Bank Square Books to Open Store in Westerly, R.I.

Bank Square Books, Mystic, Conn., is entering into a joint project with Dan King and Chuck Royce of 10 Canal, LLC, to open a bookstore in Westerly, R.I., next year.

Describing King and Royce as "the creative forces behind the revitalization of the downtown Westerly and other properties in the region," Bank Square Books, which is owned by Annie Philbrick and Patience Banister, noted: "With the recent closing of the Other Tiger in Westerly, all parties felt the need for and the importance of an independent bookstore in a local community. The two-level 2,500 square foot space is located in the historic Martin House on Canal Street (formerly the Savoy Hotel) in Westerly, a six-mile drive from Mystic, and will host a small café. Opening is slated for Spring 2015."

BINC: Do Good All Year - Click to Donate!

Bowker: Traditional Print Book Production Dips Slightly

Production of print books by traditional publishers slowed in the U.S. in 2013, declining from 309,957 titles in 2012 to a projected 304,912 titles last year, according to Bowker's annual report on U.S. print book publishing, compiled from its Books In Print database. Bowker noted that the 2% decrease reverses the sector's growth in 2012 over 2011, but "points to a relatively stable market for print works despite competition from e-books."

Top five book production categories

The fiction and juvenile categories accounted for more than 27% of new titles and editions in 2013, up slightly over 2012 and driven by growth in fiction. Sociology/economics, science and religion rounded out the top five most active genres. The music category had the largest increase (24%) over prior year, with a five-year growth rate of 28%. Science titles had the most dramatic five-year growth rate (up 33%), while technology was third, with a five-year growth rate of 27%.

The "non-traditional publishing sector," including reprint houses specializing in public-domain works as well as presses catering to self-publishers and "micro-niche" publications, showed a 46% print output decline, with 1,108,183 titles projected for 2013 compared to 2,042,840 titles in 2012.  

"Traditional print production is holding up relatively well, supporting industry reports that ebook sales growth has been slowing," said Han Huang, director of product management for data licensing at Bowker. "Though the non-traditional sector dropped significantly, we feel it's simply a market correction. The huge production that took place from 2010 through 2012 was an unusual period for non-traditional publishing, reflecting higher levels of investment and innovation."

GLOW: Workman Publishing: Atlas Obscura: Wild Life: An Explorer's Guide to the World's Living Wonders by Cara Giaimo, Joshua Foer, and Atlas Obscura

Amazon Expands 'Same-Day Delivery' to More Cities

Amazon has expanded its Same-Day Delivery service to the Baltimore, Dallas, Indianapolis, New York City, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. metro areas. The option had previously been available in Los Angeles, Phoenix, San Francisco, Boston, Chicago and Seattle. Prime members pay $5.99 for same-day delivery of items in the company's product selection that are tagged "Get It Today." Non-Prime members pay $9.98.

Weldon Owen: The Gay Icon's Guide to Life by Michael Joosten, Illustrated by Peter Emerich

Sainsbury's Buys Publishers' Stakes in aNobii

U.K. supermarket chain Sainsbury's purchased the HarperCollins and Penguin Random House stakes in aNobii to become sole owner of the e-book platform. The Bookseller reported that the company, which bought a 64% stake in aNobii from the HMV Company in 2012, has now acquired PRH's 24% stake and HarperCollins's 12% stake.  

Sainsbury's said the move gives it full control of the platform "as part of its growing Sainsbury's Entertainment digital offer," the Bookseller wrote, adding that the company plans to offer customers an "enhanced" digital entertainment experience encompassing film, music and books.

Graphic Universe (Tm): Hotelitor: Luxury-Class Defense and Hospitality Unit by Josh Hicks

Houston's Blue Willow Bookshop

Houston's Blue Willow Bookshop

In 1996, Valerie Koehler bought an independent bookstore in Houston, Tex., that had been around since December of 1973. She named the store Blue Willow Bookshop, and it's still going strong 18 years later.

The shop is 1,400 square feet and divided roughly in half between kid's books and adult books. At any given time, Koehler stocks 7,000-8,000 titles and turns the inventory over four times per year. "Book club fiction," as Koehler put it, does best; although only two book clubs actually meet in the store, Blue Willow provides books for 50 registered clubs. Commercial women's fiction, as well as teen and young adult books, also are among the store's strong sellers.

"We move things around a lot, keep things fresh," Koehler said. "We'll try tons of new things. But we've always been here, and we still have all the original bookshelves."

Events are a big draw; beyond the usual author visits, Blue Willow partners with many Houston organizations, including the Progressive Forum, the World Affairs Council, several sorority alumni associations, charities, antique shows, writing teacher conferences, libraries and local schools. In cooperation with local libraries and schools, the store has created three book festivals for kids and teens: Bookworm Festival, Tweens Read and TeenBookCon. On February 8, Blue Willow worked with Houston-area librarians to hold the first-ever Bookworm Festival, a free, one-day festival for emerging readers and the authors who write for them. On April 26 was TeenBookCon, a yearly book festival for teens and YA authors, and in September will come the middle-grade centric Tweens Read.

"We started with TeenBookCon," explained Koehler. TeenBookCon, as well as Tweens Read and Bookworm, are held in local schools. "A librarian initially approached me about starting a festival, and I matched her up with another librarian. Gradually they put together an executive committee. They plan the event; we sponsor it and get the authors in from New York."

This year TeenBookCon drew nearly 30 authors, and more than 1,500 kids attended, with "great sales and happy teens engaging in book conversation," Koehler said. The authors included John Corey Whaley (Noggin), Len Vlahos (The Scar Boys), Jillian Tamaki (This One Summer), Jason Reynolds (When I Was the Greatest) and headliner Laurie Halse Anderson (The Impossible Knife of Memory). After a couple of successful, very well-received TeenBookCons, a member of the executive committee approached Koehler about doing the same sort of event for middle grade readers.

"It really works for teens, and the authors say that this is as close as they get to their readers," said Koehler. She was unsure about expanding the suite of book festivals beyond the three already in operation. "At this point we've kind of completed the cycle of these three age groups. I wouldn't want to pull away from any of the core groups. Although we might have to move them into bigger schools."

The frequency of major author events depends primarily on "what comes from New York," but Koehler is still able to bring in authors like Sue Monk Kidd, Susan Cooper, Chelsea Handler and Rick Riordan. "We're lucky in that we're easy to get to," said Koehler. "Houston is a huge hub city, and we have the opportunity to match authors with participating local organizations. But we can still sometimes go a month without getting a fiction author."

Blue Willow bookshop

The Blue Willow Bookshop team: (l. to r.): Kathleen Klingshirn; owner Valerie Koehler; "resident Internet-guy" (and comics enthusiast) Kirk Reedstrom; events coordinator Cathy Berner; bookkeeper Cynthia Kuhn; middle-grade-and-YA enthusiast Jennifer Gwydir.

Koehler employs 14 staff members at Blue Willow, all of whom are part timers. She makes a point of hiring at least a few high school seniors each year, since she grew up working in a family business. "My father owned a grocery store," she explained. "And he always hired teenagers. I feel strongly about giving kids an opportunity to have a first job in a safe atmosphere."

Shortly after Koehler bought Blue Willow, her parents moved back to Houston, and her father, elated that Koehler had started a small business, frequently helped out in the store. It was then that she got her somewhat unusual nickname: "Girl Boss." The store's first ever event was for the author of a long since out-of-print book called Girl Boss. Koehler was so fixated on making sure the event went well, and said the phrase "Girl Boss" so many times, that her father began teasing her. "I kept saying it: 'Girl Boss', 'Girl Boss'," Koehler recounted, laughing, "and Dad started calling me it. Then it kind of stuck. I've tried to drop it, but people say I can't."

Koehler does not have plans for any major changes to Blue Willow although recently the store installed new carpet. "We love it," Koehler said. "We splurged on padding this time, and it's very comfortable to walk on and the color works to complement all the wood." Otherwise, Koehler will continue to sell books and experiment with a variety of events.

"Every year we say we're going to have some kind of anniversary, but it falls in October," said Koehler. "It's a very busy time of the year for us, with Tweens Read and the Texas Book Festival. But one of these days we'll have some kind of celebration. Maybe for our 20th." --Alex Mutter

Obituary Note: Billie Letts

Billie Letts, who was in her 50s when her debut novel, Where the Heart Is, "became a bestseller after Oprah Winfrey endorsed it in 1998 and was the inspiration for a Hollywood film," died last Saturday, the New York Times reported. She was 76. Letts was also the mother of playwright Tracy Letts, who won a Pulitzer Prize for August: Osage County.


Image of the Day: Reading with the Governor

What do governors do in their free time? Washington State Gov. Jay Inslee held an impromptu storytime at Eagle Harbor Book Company on Bainbridge Island, Wash., with a small member of his family. His wife, Trudy, said the Inslees love independent book stores.

Presidential Birthday: 57th Street Books

Monday was President Barack Obama's birthday, and 57th Street Books, Chicago, Ill., offered the best bookish greeting on Facebook: "Happy birthday to Co-Op member President Barack Obama! Here's a photo from back in '06 when he dropped by our store, signed some books, and was quoted by the Chicago Maroon as saying 'I have to be loyal to my bookstore.' Cheers!"

Omaha Public Library's Book Bike Debuts

omaha public library book bikeThis week, Omaha Public Library launched its new "wi-fi-enabled" book bike, "a long blue bicycle with a trailer of books in tow," the World-Herald reported. The bike's trailer is stocked with books as well as iPads "so people can sign up for library cards, download e-books and learn about other services."

"We have been making a concerted effort to get out into the community more instead of asking everyone to come to us," said OPL marketing manager Emily Getzschman, who added that the library hopes the book bike "will find those who maybe haven't set foot in the library in years and that it can show them everything OPL has to offer. Like a library made out of bike."

Personnel Changes at Tarcher and Perigee, Putnam, Abrams

Brianna Yamashita has been promoted to executive director of publicity & marketing for both Tarcher and Perigee, including Prentice Hall Press titles. She has been Tarcher's director of publicity & marketing for more than five years.

Kevin Howell has been promoted to senior marketing manager for Tarcher and Perigee. He has been marketing manager for Tarcher.

Jillian McElgunn has been promoted to marketing coordinator for Tarcher and Perigee. She has been a publicity assistant.

Lindsey Ruthen has joined Tarcher and Perigee as senior publicist. She was formerly publicist at Palgrave.

Elizabeth Gay has joined Tarcher and Perigee as publicist. She formerly was an associate publicist at Simon & Schuster.


Stephanie Hargadon has joined Putnam as a publicity manager. She was previously a senior publicist at St. Martin's Press.


Emily Dowdell has joined Abrams as the new children's marketing and publicity assistant.

Audio Trailer of the Day: Frank Einstein and the Antimatter Motor

Frank Einstein and the Antimatter Motor by Jon Scieszka, illustrated by Brian Biggs (Listening Library), featuring an interview with the author, who narrated the audio, about the audio. Includes robot voices by the illustrator!

Media and Movies

Media Heat: William T. Vollmann on KCRW's Bookworm

Tomorrow on MSNBC's the Cycle: Rick Perlstein, author of The Invisible Bridge: The Fall of Nixon and the Rise of Reagan (Simon & Schuster, $37.50, 9781476782416).


Tomorrow on CBS's the Talk: Judy Greer, author of I Don't Know What You Know Me From: Confessions of a Co-Star (Doubleday, $25.95, 9780385537889).


Tomorrow on a repeat of the Wendy Williams Show: Abby Lee Miller, author of Everything I Learned About Life, I Learned in Dance Class (Morrow, $22.99, 9780062304810).


Tomorrow on KCRW's Bookworm: William T. Vollmann, author of Last Stories and Other Stories (Viking, $36, 9780670015979). As the show put it: "Reading William T. Vollmann's Last Stories and Other Stories is a matter of granting permission to the author to lead you: and where will this be? To the 'wall of ill' (a wall we can only imagine but, being alive, can never access) that separates life from death. Vollmann begins this rich collection with a message to his reader and a set of Supernatural Axioms meant to prepare, intrigue or perhaps ward you off. This week, we take the opportunity to dissect Vollmann's opening remarks, brimful of images of dark mixed with sweet."

TV: Ghost Brigades

The Syfy network has picked Oscar-nominated director Wolfgang Petersen (Das Boot; Air Force One) and Scott Stuber (Safe House; Ted) to develop Ghost Brigades, based on John Scalzi's Hugo Award-nominated Old Man's War book series, Deadline. com reported. Jake Thornton and Ben Lustig will write the pilot.

Movies: A Wrinkle In Time

Jennifer Lee, who wrote and co-directed Frozen with Chris Buck, will write the film adaptation of Madeleine L'Engle's 1962 classic novel A Wrinkle in Time for Disney. Variety reported that the book "was one of Lee's favorite novels as a child, and she impressed Disney executives with her take on the project, which emphasizes a strong female-driven narrative and creatively approaches the science fiction and world-building elements of the book." There is no director attached yet to the project, which Jim Whitaker will produce with Catherine Hand.

Books & Authors

Awards: Shakespeare's Globe Book

David B. Goldstein and Gillian Woods will share the £3,000 (about US$5,060) Shakespeare's Globe Book Award, which is given "to a first monograph published in the last two years that has made an important contribution to the understanding of Shakespeare, his theater or his contemporaries," for their books Eating and Ethics in Shakespeare's England and Shakespeare's Unreformed Fictions respectively, the Bookseller reported.

Book Brahmin: Michaela Carter

Michaela Carter moved from her hometown of Phoenix, Ariz., to Los Angeles, Calif., for UCLA's theater department, but while there she fell in love with poetry, which she went on to study at Warren Wilson College. Nominated for two Pushcart Prizes, her work has appeared in New England Review, the Southern Review, Puerto del Sol and elsewhere. She teaches creative writing at Yavapai College and is co-founder and co-owner of Peregrine Book Company, an indie bookstore in Prescott, Ariz., where she works as a book buyer and storyteller. Her debut novel, Further Out Than You Thought (Morrow, August 5, 2014), draws on her experiences in Los Angeles during the 1992 riots. She lives in Prescott with her partner and her two inscrutable children.

On your nightstand now:

It seems my nightstand is always stacked with galleys I'm longing to read. Right now I am savoring The Plover by Brian Doyle. Next up are The Empathy Exams by Leslie Jamison and How to Tell Toledo from the Night Sky by Lydia Netzer. I also have a signed copy of Tibetan Peach Pie by Tom Robbins that I plan on reading very delicately.

Favorite book when you were a child:

Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak fascinated me to no end. Later on, I adored The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. Mary Lennox was such a complex character, dour and angry and not about pleasing anyone, and I loved that, as well as the mystery of the key, and the magic of the garden she tends, which in turn transforms her.

Your top five authors:

Elizabeth Bishop, Virginia Woolf, Gabriel García Márquez, Mary Gaitskill and Paul Bowles.

Book you've faked reading:

Most of the romantic poets--Wordsworth, Byron, Shelley. I've never read them and don't really care to, although I wouldn't necessarily tell my students that. However, I do love John Keats's "Ode on a Grecian Urn," as well as the collection of his letters, and I've memorized Samuel Taylor Coleridge's wonderful poem "Kubla Khan," which I used to tell to my kids to put them to sleep. It worked every time.

Book you're an evangelist for:

The Famished Road by Ben Okri. The rhythm of Okri's language draws you in and doesn't let you go. It's a story of struggle and poverty, but through the eyes of a child, this world becomes enchanted. The book is captivating. Pure poetry.

Book you've bought for the cover:

The bat on the bright-yellow cover of Karen Russell's Vampires in the Lemon Grove has his mouth open, as though he's in the middle of a belly-laugh. I just had to take him home.

Book that changed your life:

Sharon Olds's book of poems The Gold Cell came out when I was in college. She writes with such honesty about sex and the female body; her book made me realize you could write about anything. It lit a fire inside me. It made me want to write from my gut.

Favorite line from a book:

I'm habitually smitten with lines. Here's one that has stuck around, from the short story "In Memory of Something or Other," in the collection Black Freckles by Larry Levis: "Tell me what happened in your life. Don't bother with facts. Make the telling of it resemble a light made wholly of light--like the lights of that distant city you glimpsed once, the city that made you famous, then exiled you."

Which character you most relate to:

Alice, from Lewis Carroll's masterpiece Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, which I believe isn't only for children. She never quite belongs anywhere, but is delighted by all she discovers. And it seems to me this world we live in is always getting "curiouser and curiouser."

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

I recently read Anthony Doerr's newest novel, All the Light We Cannot See. I took my time with it and was reticent to finish. Afterward, there was this lull. I didn't want to start anything else--it was that good.

Best book found at a yard sale:

The strangest would have to be an old hardcover of The Story of O by Pauline Reage, which I found at a sale at my children's grade school--an overly idealistic charter school. The best part about it was the inscription: "I hope this will remind you of our many happy hours together. --Steve."

Book Review

Children's Review: Mix It Up!

Mix It Up! by Hervé Tullet, trans. by Christopher Franceschelli (Handprint/Chronicle, $15.99 hardcover, 56p., ages 3-5, 9781452137353, September 16, 2014)

Mix It Up book coverCan the man behind Press Here match the pure genius of that book's simplicity? Yes! "Right again!" as the returning narrator-coach might say.

Hervé Tullet assumes that we're already familiar with his previous interactive tour de force. "It's that time again," says the narrator, delivering his opener with a slight variation: "Are you ready?" This go-round, a gray spot on a white background gets the ball rolling: "Tap that gray spot. Just a little, to see what happens." With a turn of the page, readers see that tapping has released a flurry of dots, moving so rapidly that the blue, red and yellow spots leave tails behind them (and a Q-tip swab of orange and green). Yet the gray dot remains placidly in the center of the right-hand page. "There they are!" exclaims the enthusiastic unseen narrator. "But don't they seem a bit shy? Tap it again." A turn of the page reveals a veritable fireworks display of dots with tails, this time in an array of colors. "But there are a few still missing," so another tap, please, and the next page yields a bubble gum machine's density of red, yellow, blue, orange, green, pink and purple dots.

Tullet always knows when to alter the conversation. He asks children to place a hand on that densely populated page and "count to five," eyes closed. A child-size handprint appears on the next page, like a tree, with the colors emanating from it like rainbow-colored leaves: "Yes! You've got the magic touch! Let's mix it up!" As he teaches children that taking a "little bit of the blue" and touching the yellow and rubbing it "gently" makes (with a turn of the page) green, Tullet turns very orderly. The spots appear in the same places on the page to mark the transformation. He follows the same pattern with the other secondary colors, then asks children to experiment with what they've learned: "Shake the book really hard," reads a page with yellow straddling the gutter at the left and blue at the right; "What do you think will happen?" A page turn reveals the two dripping together in a pool of green at the center: "Right!" Children explore the effects of adding white and black, and the hand print ("count to five") serves as a farewell refrain.

With a narrator as playful and uplifting as the cause-and-effect of the colors on these pages, this book is sure to be as popular as Press Here. It's clear that Tullet believes everyone has what it takes to be an artist. --Jennifer M. Brown

Shelf Talker: The creator of Press Here delivers a follow-up to rival the original's genius simplicity and playfulness, teaching the properties of color along the way.

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