Also published on this date: Friday, September 12, 2014: Kids' Maximum Shelf: Ivan: The Remarkable True Story of the Shopping Mall Gorilla

Shelf Awareness for Friday, September 12, 2014

Harper Voyager: Dragon Rider (Soulbound Saga #1) by Taran Matharu

Albatros Media: Words about Where: Let's Learn Prepositions by Magda Gargulakova, illustrated by Marie Urbankova

Blackstone Publishing: Ordinary Bear by C.B. Bernard

St. Martin's Griffin: One Last Shot by Betty Cayouette

Flatiron Books: Anita de Monte Laughs Last by Xochitl Gonzalez

Page Street YA: The Final Curse of Ophelia Cray by Christine Calella


AIB Launches E-Fairness Social Media Campaign

Advocates for Independent Business, a coalition that includes the American Booksellers Association and a number of Local First groups, is launching #efairnessnow, a social media campaign in support of e-fairness. Bookselling This Week reported that the goal "is to persuade customers of indie stores to show their support for Main Street retailers by posting social media campaign images on their Facebook and Twitter feeds. The initiative also calls on independent stores to do the same."

"We hope to spread the word via social media that the current sales tax inequity does more than negatively impact businesses--it hurts communities around the country," said ABA CEO Oren Teicher. "For stores that want to engage their customers in this campaign, these images provide a tremendous visual impact that will drive the message home. We hope you will share them with your customers via e-mail, Facebook, and Twitter."

AIB coordinator Stacy Mitchell, senior researcher with the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, added: "We're asking customers to stand up for a level playing field. They have a clear stake in this issue. Passing e-fairness is critical to ensuring that the stores they love continue to be there, and also that the burden of paying sales taxes is fairly distributed across all shoppers."

HarperOne: Be a Revolution: How Everyday People Are Fighting Oppression and Changing the World--And How You Can, Too by Ijeoma Oluo

Writer's Block Book Shop to Open in Vegas

Scott Seeley and Drew Cohen
Scott Seeley and Drew Cohen
Scott Seeley and Drew Cohen preparing The Writers Block. (photo: Jon Estrada/

Scott Seeley and Drew Cohen "are putting the finishing touches" on Writer's Block Book Shop, which is set to open next month on Fremont East in Las Vegas. Vegas Seven reported that the co-owners "are sticking to their plans to build a bookshop in the 2,500-square-foot space. Well, kinda. The front of the house will be called 'Book Shop,' which Seeley has deliberately split into two words to evoke a cross between Geppetto's workshop and a mad scientist's lair."

"We will literally have a book-making area," Seeley said. "I've got a workbench, tools and, hopefully, we have a full letterpress coming. We'll have book presses, screen-printing equipment... all kinds of machinery that we can hand-make books with. That will be a huge component of the store, mixed in with new books and whatever we think is fun and cool."

He added that the "independent bookstore people we've talked to, the ones who have had successful shops... it comes from a curatorial aspect. You don't walk into a Barnes & Noble to hang out with the staff. That would be kinda weird. I worked for this record store in Connecticut for a while that exclusively sold jazz, and most of the customers came in just to talk to the staff, hang out and browse the new records. You want that kind of community aspect to it."

Cohen, who is in the process of ordering books, observed that while they will start with nonfiction, business, art & design, and children's books, that could change: "If we see a great demand for horror Westerns, then we'll bulk up. I want people to tell me, 'You don't have this and you need to have this,' and I'll order it. I want this store to be like St. Mark's Bookshop in New York.... Those were the places where I would go and find out about authors or genres I didn't know existed, and it really helped inform my taste."

Harpervia: Behind You Is the Sea by Susan Muaddi Darraj

NYTBR Adding New Monthly Bestsellers Lists

During the next few months, the New York Times Book Review will launch 12 new monthly bestsellers lists, covering politics, business, travel, humor, family, relationships, animals, religion, spirituality and faith, celebrities, food & fitness, science and sports, GalleyCat reported, noting that additional lists will be introduced in 2015.

On a rotating basis, the NYTBR said it also plans to "publish in print several popular lists that were previously online exclusive," including politics, manga, graphic novels, food and fitness. "The new layout creates an additional page for print editorial content including reviews, essays and features. The first redesigned issue features an essay by Henry Alford on book etiquette."

Amazon: New London Office; Free Land Offer in Ohio

Amazon is leaving Slough, its base in the U.K. for 16 years, and moving to a new 15-story building in Shoreditch, on the outskirts of London. The Guardian reported that beyond its network of warehouses, the online retailer's U.K. operations "employs 1,700 people in corporate functions, mostly spread between Slough and a 12-story office building in Farringdon, central London that opened last year. The group has not yet decided whether Shoreditch or Farringdon will be its new U.K. HQ." Construction starts later this month and Amazon will occupy 431,000 square feet of office space in 2017.

Christopher North, managing director of, said, "We have already invested well over £1 billion and created more than 7,000 permanent jobs across the U.K. To support our continued growth in the U.K., we have secured this exceptional building giving us the capacity to hire thousands of new employees in London in the coming years."


Dublin, Ohio, is offering to give Amazon 68 acres of city land "to attract a piece of the technology giant's planned $1.1 billion data center complex," Columbus Business First reported, adding that the land is worth an estimated $6.75 million.

Dana McDaniel, the city's development director, said the project could "create an information technology supply chain" and "will bring significant investment in facilities, equipment and critical infrastructure in the form of fiber optics and broadband expansion."

Last week, Vadata Inc., which runs data centers for Amazon Web Services, was awarded an $81 million incentive package from the state "for what's expected to be a complex of three data centers in the region," Business First wrote.

Obituary Note: Herbert Lottman

Herbert R. Lottman, "an American who fell in love with Paris as a young man and stayed to write detailed, influential biographies of giants of French culture, commerce and politics," died August 27, the New York Times reported. He was 87. His 17 books included biographies of Albert Camus, Gustave Flaubert, the Rothschilds, Henri Philippe Pétain and Colette. Lottman was also Publishers Weekly's European correspondent for 30 years.


Image of the Day: 'Over the Moon' for Eric Litwin

The Book Stall, Winnetka, Ill., sent this "reminder about what makes working in the book world so rewarding." Earlier this week, the store took Eric Litwin, author of The Nuts: Bedtime at the Nut House (Little, Brown), to sing and read and perform to young and enthusiastic fans at the LEARN Excel School in Chicago. Alexx Poston, development officer of the school, remarked "Our students were over the moon with excitement. I overheard one scholar after shaking Mr. Litwin's hand saying, 'I will never wash this hand again.' "

Finland, Frankfurt's Guest of Honor, Feted in NYC

Anu Partanen

Finnish journalist Anu Partanen discussed trends in Finnish literature and the differences between the Finnish and American book markets at a reception in New York City on Tuesday in honor of Finland being the Guest of Honor at the 2014 Frankfurt Book Fair. Hosted by the German Book Office and Scandinavia House, the reception featured an informative presentation about Finnish publishing followed by a reception with wine and hors d'oeuvres.

The Finnish book market, Partanen explained, has "fewer middle men, fewer gatekeepers," than most--for example, until recently, the job of literary agent did not exist. Finns, she continued, are avid readers, and Finland leads Europe in books published per capita. Finnish literature, she said, often deals with social issues and can be very surprising. One of its stronger trends is a growth of bold, inventive female writers.

The point of the Guest of Honor, said Thomas Minkus, the v-p of emerging media and English language markets for the Frankfurt Book Fair, is to "give the audience in Frankfurt a glimpse of the literature of another country, and everything that makes a country unique."

Happy 50th Birthday, Maple Street Book Shop!

This weekend, Maple Street Book Shop, New Orleans, La., is celebrating its 50th birthday with events and partnerships, beginning tonight with a reception at the bookstore. The bookshop will also be donating 10% of its weekend proceeds to Big Class, the local literary non-profit "inspiring the next crop of New Orleans writers."

Noting it has been an adventurous year for Maple Street, "which closed its used shop (next door to the original, remaining shop) a few months ago to consolidate everything under one roof," Gambit wrote that "under the guidance of owner Gladin Scott and a dedicated staff always eager to recommend books and chat with customers, the creaky wooden house is still one of the warmest places to browse for books in New Orleans, or to just talk about reading [and] writing."

Cool Idea of the Day: Education Donation

Finally Found Books, Auburn, Wash., is donating $30,000 in store gift certificates to 3,000 local educators, Bookselling This Week reported. Owner Todd Hulbert will give every teacher in the area's two school districts a $10 gift certificate to help with classroom expenses.

"Mainly, I want to help out the educators who spend so much out of pocket each year," he said. "Teachers have it hard and they don't have enough financial support from the district. It's not a lot but this is what we can give.... The community has been great and supportive about what we're doing and the districts are ecstatic to receive our gift. We want a literate world."

Hulbert also challenged other local businesses "to help out their community and local schools as much as they can. They need our help."

Personnel Changes at HarperCollins, Open Road, Yale

John Kramp is joining HarperCollins Christian Publishing as senior v-p of the Bible Group. He was mostly recently head of his own consulting firm. Before that, he worked for LifeWay Christian Resources for 19 years, most recently as v-p of the Church Resources Division.


Stacy Horowitz has been promoted to publicity manager for Open Road's frontlist titles. Before joining Open Road a year ago as a marketing associate working on science fiction and horror titles, she worked for Rubenstein Public Relations, as communications program coordinator for Harvard Medical School and as a freelance writer producing pieces for outlets such as


Joshua Machat is joining Yale University Press as publicist, focusing on art and architecture. He formerly worked at the Getty Research Institute and Rizzoli.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Wendy Davis on NPR's Weekend Edition

This morning on Fox & Friends: Zak Ebrahim, author of The Terrorist's Son: A Story of Choice (TED Books/Simon & Schuster, $14.99, 9781476784809).


Tomorrow on NPR's Weekend Edition: Wendy Davis, author of Forgetting to Be Afraid: A Memoir (Blue Rider Press, $27.95, 9780399170577).


Tomorrow on Fox News's Huckabee: Jeremy Courtney, author of Preemptive Love: Pursuing Peace One Heart at a Time (Howard Books, $15, 9781476733654).


Sunday on Face the Nation: Doris Kearns Goodwin and Ken Burns discuss The Roosevelts: An Intimate History (Knopf, $60, 9780307700230).


Sunday on CNBC's On the Money: James K. Galbraith, author of The End of Normal: The Great Crisis and the Future of Growth (Simon & Schuster, $26, 9781451644920).

TV: Olive Kitteridge Trailer

"HBO’s mini-series fever continues" with Olive Kitteridge, based on the bestselling novel by Elizabeth Strout "and starring an impressive line-up that includes Frances McDormand, Richard Jenkins and Bill Murray," Indiewire reported, noting that "the first teaser for the show gives very little information about its content and lets the images speak for themselves." Olive Kitteridge premieres November 2.

Books & Authors

Awards: Dayton Literary Peace Prize Finalists

Finalists were named for the $10,000 Dayton Literary Peace Prize, which recognizes fiction and nonfiction that "celebrates the power of literature to promote peace, social justice, and global understanding." A winner and runner-up in each category will be announced September 24, and honored November 9 at a ceremony in Dayton. The shortlisted titles are:  

A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra (Crown)
In the Night of Time by Antonio Muñoz Molina, translated by Edith Grossman (HMH)
Someone by Alice McDermott (FSG)
The Cartographer of No Man's Land by P.S. Duffy (Liveright)
The Woman Who Lost Her Soul by Bob Shacochis (Grove Atlantic)
Wash by Margaret Wrinkle (Grove Atlantic)

Contested Land, Contested Memory: Israel's Jews and Arabs and the Ghosts of Catastrophe by Jo Roberts (Dundurn Press)
Here on the Edge: How a Small Group of World War II Conscientious Objectors Took Art and Peace from the Margins to the Mainstream by Steve McQuiddy (Oregon State University Press)
Knocking on Heaven's Door: The Path to a Better Way of Death by Katy Butler (Scribner)
Men We Reaped: A Memoir by Jesmyn Ward (Bloomsbury)
Thank You for Your Service by David Finkel (Sarah Crichton Book/FSG)
Your Fatwa Does not Apply Here: Untold Stories from the Fight Against Muslim Fundamentalism by Karima Bennoune (Norton)

Book Brahmin: Timothy Denevi

photo: Amy Deputy

Timothy Denevi received his MFA in nonfiction from the University of Iowa. He lives near Washington, D.C., and teaches in the MFA program at George Mason University, where he's a visiting writer. Hyper: A Personal History of ADHD (Simon & Schuster, September 2, 2014) is his first book.

On your nightstand now:

I'm finishing up John McPhee's Annals of the Former World. I've been working through it as if across a continent--it's about U.S. Interstate 80 and the different geological features you'll find along the way--and I've finally made it to my favorite chapter, the second to the last, "Assembling California." Only a few miles left!

Your top five authors:

Italo Calvino: My favorite work of his, Cosmicomics, is basically a creation myth of the universe as experienced through the perspective of a being who's been alive forever--Qfwfq--but who, as the galaxy condenses and cools and our planetary system takes shape, ages in the way any member of an Italian family would (at least my Italian family). A fantastic, unparalleled book.

Michael Ondaatje: I love both his early, formally experimental works and also his lyric later novels. One of my favorite quotes is from the first page of his prose-and-poetry hybrid, The Collected Works of Billy the Kid: "Blood a necklace on me all my life."

Alice Munro: Her book The Beggar Maid represents a masterful use of time in narrative--no one moves through the past and its recesses more deftly.

Tobias Wolff: He writes about privilege--what we've been given but what we can't say we've in any way earned--so well. In Pharaoh's Army is a particular gem.

Stephanie Vaughn: Her New Yorker stories "Able, Baker, Charlie, Dog" and "Dog Heaven," written decades ago as fiction, articulate the artistic space that memoir offers, via image and reflection, with such a startling honesty--regardless of whether the stories are true or not! (This is very difficult to do.)

Book you've faked reading:

Moby-Dick. I actually did read an abridged version I picked up at a used bookstore; it wasn't until afterward that I realized nearly half the text was missing. That wasn't so tedious, I remember thinking, but what happened to the passage on whale anatomy everyone always complains about?

Hyper timothy denevi book coverBook you're an evangelist for:

The Rings of Saturn by W.G. Sebald. In it, he intertwines the personal with the historical so brilliantly--in a manner that often feels too complex to articulate. I'll let the book's last sentence, one of my very most favorite, speak for itself: "And Sir Thomas Browne, who was the son of a silk merchant and may well have had an eye for these things, remarks in a passage of the Psuedodoxia Epidemica that I can no longer find that in the Holland of his time it was customary, in a home where there had been a death, to drape black mourning ribbons over all the mirrors and all canvasses depicting landscapes or people or the fruits of the field, so that the soul, as it left the body, would not be distracted on its final journey, either by a reflection of itself or by a last glimpse of the land now being lost forever."

Book you've bought for the cover:

Do books still have covers? Technology! I would say an earlier edition of Mikhail Bulgakov's The Master and Margarita--the one with a human-size black cat on the front. (This cat, it turns out, is named Behemoth, walks on two legs, and loves vodka. The cover did not disappoint.)

Book that changed your life:

I always answer this question differently. It's a question of perspective, right? The work that changed my perspective on what nonfiction is the most, then, is actually more of a novella-length piece, first published in the Iowa Review and later in the collection Dark Waves and Light Matter by Albert Goldbarth: "Both Definitions of Save." In it, he articulates the dictum of "form as function" in a manner I don't think many writers have, before or since.

Favorite line from a book:

"Whenever in my dreams I see the dead, they always appear silent, bothered, strangely depressed, quite unlike their dear, bright selves. I am aware of them, without any astonishment, in surroundings they never visited during their earthly existence, in the house of some friend of mine they never knew. They sit apart, frowning at the floor, as if death were a dark taint, a shameful family secret. It is certainly not then--not in dreams--but when one is wide awake, at moments of robust joy and achievement, on the highest terrace of consciousness, that mortality has a chance to peer beyond its own limits, from the mast, from the past and its castle tower. And although nothing much can be seen through the mist, there is somehow the blissful feeling that one is looking in the right direction." --Vladimir Nabokov, Speak, Memory

Which character you most relate to:

Tobias Wolff's younger self in his outstanding memoir This Boy's Life.

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

It's a popular choice, but I would say Jesus' Son by Denis Johnson. I'd love to be able to come across those moments, just before a white space, during which everything you know and expect turns into something else entirely. To quote from the hospital-scene ending to the first story, "Car Crash While Hitchhiking": "A beautiful nurse was touching my skin. 'These are vitamins,' she said, and drove the needle in. It was raining. Gigantic ferns leaned over us. The forest drifted down a hill. I could hear a creek rushing down among rocks. And you, you ridiculous people, you expect me to help you."

Book Review

Review: Rose Gold

Rose Gold by Walter Mosley (Doubleday, $25.95 hardcover, 9780385535977, September 23, 2014)

In 25 years, Walter Mosley has published some 40 books of fiction, nonfiction and drama, but perhaps his most endearing recurring character is the Los Angeles private detective Easy Rawlins. Beginning with 1990's Devil in a Blue Dress, Mosley's Easy Rollins novels have gradually fleshed out the sometimes-violent, sometimes-corrupt, always racially tinted history of Los Angeles personified in the life of a self-employed black man with both street and book smarts and an expansive network of helpful friends and contacts. Rose Gold brings the resourceful Easy into the turbulent 1960s, with its Vietnam War vets, radical freaks and militant blacks.

After a near-death car accident, Easy has just moved to a new house when he is approached by the special assistant to the LAPD's chief of police. On offer is a confidential assignment to assist in finding a wealthy, white arms manufacturer's missing daughter, Rosemary, believed to be kidnapped by a black former boxer and murder suspect named Battling Bob Mantle. Easy knows of Mantle, and finding missing people is his bread and butter, but he distrusts the LAPD and understands they want his help only because he's black and can move easily in the neighborhoods where they cannot. As he tells his only friend in the police department, "I'm good at what I do.... They don't see me comin', don't know when I'm there, and couldn't tell you when I left."

The case gets complicated by the Patty Hearst-like political leanings of the missing girl, and Easy finds her trail littered with murders, robberies and megalomaniacal commune leaders--but nothing to implicate Battling Bob. Mantle appears to be the black fall guy, used to cover up police corruption and illegal government arms sales. To untangle the web and deal with those bad guys who need dealing with, Easy calls on his old friend Raymond "Mouse" Abernathy (whose "business is high-end heists with the strong possibility of brutality and bloodshed") and teams up with Rosemary's mother's bodyguard, Teh-ha Redbird (a man of Taaqtam Indian descent who is "maybe five ten and strong the way good rope is--slender and knotted").

Mosley's best writing not only tells a good story, but also quietly draws attention to the many ways that race impacts life in the United States. Each of his characters is painted with a precise description of skin coloring, hair style, clothing or other physical highlights, such as this picture of Easy's girlfriend Bonnie: "She had a nice figure on a nice frame... with dark skin and the almond shaped eyes of Western Africa... her hair was straightened because her employer, Air France, looked down on hairdos like Angela Davis's." Mosley reminds us that people aren't colored in black or white, but rather in unusual shades in between with the physiological characteristics of our many origins. Of his quixotic fight against injustice, Easy says: "I skipped the windmill completely and went wielding my sword against the wind itself." We are lucky to have Mosley lifting his lance on behalf of racial understanding, and Rose Gold is one of the best of his not-always-so-easy Easy Rawlins novels. --Bruce Jacobs, founding partner, Watermark Books & Cafe, Wichita, Kan.

Shelf Talker: Mosley's 13th, and perhaps best, Easy Rawlins novel untangles a missing-persons case amid the political uneasiness of Los Angeles in the 1960s.

Deeper Understanding

Robert Gray: In Praise of Bookstore E-Newsletters

There may be people who receive more indie bookstore e-mail newsletters than I do, but not many. In the instant gratification age of social media, this traditional format is apparently retro enough to have become hip again. Think Steampunk, with a brass "Subscribe" button.

"E-mail newsletters are so hot right now," wrote Klint Finley in TechCrunch last month, adding: "Two or three years ago every site on the Web was doing all it could to trick coax readers into 'liking' them on Facebook. Today much of that focus has shifted towards getting readers to sign-up for an e-mail subscription."

I have a particular interest in the topic since I work for Shelf Awareness, which partners with more than 80 indie booksellers to send out co-branded editions of Shelf Awareness for Readers. But I've also been subscribing to indie bookstore e-newsletters for a long, long time, dating back to my years as a bookseller. They are a digital wellspring. One of the best ideas I ever heard came from an "Authorless Events" seminar at the 2008 Mountains and Plains Independent Booksellers Association fall show in Colorado Springs: Bookstores should subscribe to one another's e-mail newsletters so they can steal (well, share) great promotional concepts.

"So why all this effort to herd readers into a medium that is supposed to be dying? And why are we, as readers, so willing to invite even more e-mail into our lives?" Finley asked, then offered five good reasons:

  1. E-mail Gives Publishers More Control
  2. Readers Pay More Attention to E-Mail
  3. E-Mail Is Cross-Platform
  4. E-mail Keeps All Your Clutter in One Place
  5. E-mail Is the Original Social Media

"For years, those of us who have advocated the indie or federated Web have called for social networks to be more like e-mail, but it turns out e-mail itself is a pretty good social media platform," he observed.

A well-conceived and executed bookshop e-newsletter feels like a personal message in ways Facebook, tumblr, Twitter or Instagram posts don't (though I love those as well). And Russo's Books, Bakersfield, Calif., shows that e-newsletters can even be used to invite further interaction: "Booklovers, engage with us.... Keep the Conversation Going. Our homepage features our Twitter and Facebook feed, plus a 'book video of the day.' We encourage you to visit us daily and contribute to our content."

At their best, e-newsletters are informative and entertaining--quick, welcome updates from good friends (who happen to read great books). Consider a recent sampling from my inbox:

Village Books, Bellingham, Wash.: "You know that feeling of a freshly painted and re-carpeted room? We do. That's because our downstairs space, where we hold our events, is all done up nice with new paint and carpeting. Folks on staff have put in hours of work to make this update happen (we're not JUST booksellers, you know)."

Rainy Day Books, Fairway, Kan.: "Roger & Vivien celebrated the [Labor Day] Holiday in the mountains along the Animas River in Durango, Colorado, and brought the cooler weather back Home to Kansas City with them. They wanted great weather here to launch their autumn season of Author Events!"  

Broadway Books, Portland, Ore.: "After one of the warmest, sunniest summers we can remember, there at last is a tiny chill in the morning air and we find ourselves sliding into fall. And here's a bookseller's not-so-secret confession: it's our favorite time of year. Many of you know why. September marks the beginning of the fall publishing season, when the majority of new books for the year come out.... We greet our UPS and FedEx delivery people like conquering heroes this time of year, because of the bounty they bring to our shelves. So exciting!"

Mysterious Galaxy, San Diego, Calif.: "Also David Bajo's medical thriller, Mercy 6, is hot off the press for tonight's launch party at MGSD. Read more about how this 'great reads genre' novel affected Shelf Awareness's contributing editor Robert Gray here." [Note: Even my ego occasionally gets unanticipated nourishment from reading bookstore e-newsletters]

McLean & Eakin Booksellers, Petoskey, Mich.: "Anticipating new books must be one of the greatest pleasures in life. The delayed gratification probably has something to do with it. There's something about finding a book on the shelf that you've been waiting for and then having that, 'You are JUST what I was looking for!' moment."

Agreed. And I often feel that way when a new bookstore e-newsletter edition arrives, too. How about you?

Perhaps, as Alexis C. Madrigal wrote in the Atlantic recently, e-mail has become "a refugee from the open, interoperable, less-controlled 'Web we lost.' It's an exciting landscape of freedom amidst the walled gardens of social networking and messaging services. Yes, e-mail is exciting. Get excited!" --Robert Gray, contributing editor (column archives available at Fresh Eyes Now)

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