Shelf Awareness for Tuesday, September 16, 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


Bookstore Sales Down 5.1% in July

July bookstore sales fell 5.1%, to $707 million, compared to July 2013, according to preliminary estimates from the Census Bureau. For the year to date, bookstore sales have fallen 7.6%, to $5.8 billion. Total retail sales in July rose 4.8%, to $448.7 billion, compared to the same period a year ago. For the year to date, total retail sales have risen 3.8%, to $3,001 billion.

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

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

The Novel Neighbor Opens in Webster Groves, Mo.

Yesterday, the Novel Neighbor, Webster Groves, Mo., launched its soft opening. On Facebook, owner Holland Saltsman posted: "WE ARE OPEN! 10-8 Monday-Saturday, Sundays 12-5. Beautiful opening flowers just delivered from our downstairs NEIGHBORS Les Bouquets. COME SEE US!"

"I thought about what my dream store would be," Saltsman told Shelf Awareness last month, describing a bookstore full of local art, with a community space for art classes, birthday parties and other events. "It seemed a much more solid business plan than just opening a bookstore, if we could have people coming in for different reasons."

Harpervia: Behind You Is the Sea by Susan Muaddi Darraj

University Book Store Remodels Tacoma Store

This July, Seattle's University Book Store began a long-planned remodeling of its Tacoma store. Now, according to the store's general manager, Sebastian Levy-Aldrete, things are 99% complete. The main point of the remodel, Levy-Aldrete explained, was essentially to address a "mismatch" in floor space that has emerged since the store opened approximately 20 years ago.

"We had a very large space dedicated to trade books, and a relatively small area devoted to [University of Washington] Huskies branding and Huskies merchandise," said Levy-Aldrete, who has been the manager of UBS Tacoma since October 2011. "Over the years the market has changed, but we have the same footprint. We basically flipped those two sections and made other improvements."

The store's trade books department now occupies the area that used to house Huskies merchandise, and vice versa. Although the trade book department is now smaller in terms of square footage, Levy-Aldrete stressed that the inventory has not been reduced. What's more, the trade book department is now at the front of the store, with windows facing Pacific Avenue, Tacoma's main drag. Already, Levy-Aldrete said, he's seen increased traffic to the trade books department.

"It's basically equal inventory," he added. "There's less space, but it's better laid out. Nothing's been reduced, but it's been 'smartened up.' It's addressed more than just problems of square footage. It's addressed perception--foot traffic now looks in and sees a bookstore."

The remodel has also allowed the store to expand its seating, which will enable Levy-Aldrete and his staff to host larger author events. The store shares an entranceway with a Starbucks next door, and Levy-Aldrete has now adopted an open door policy. Customers are allowed, and encouraged, to bring their snacks and drinks from Starbucks into the bookstore. "Now there's a coffee house/bookstore feel," he said.

Sometime in the next few weeks, after the last of the remodeling is done (by next week, Levy-Aldrete estimated, the last work remaining will be the brick facing on the new fireplace in the seating area), the store will host an after-hours reception for UW Tacoma faculty and staff, the mayor of Tacoma, long-time customers and some local VIPs to celebrate the remodeling. An open house day with special discounts for the community at large is also planned, date to be determined.

Although the remodeling has been extensive, UBS Tacoma remained open all summer. "The store's policy is that we do not close," said Levy-Aldrete. "Occasionally it's a little rough on people, but we work through the pain, as they say. I think it's good. In this day and age, with so many bricks-and-mortar stores on the brink and going out, we never want to give the impression that there's something systemically wrong. We're actually doing very well--we're open and improving." --Alex Mutter

Jan Johnson Becoming Publisher Emerita at Red Wheel/Weiser

Jan Johnson

Jan Johnson, publisher of the Red Wheel/Weiser group of imprints, including Conari Press, Disinformation Books and Turning Stone Press, since 2000, is stepping down from day-to-day management responsibilities to become publisher emerita. She will work with select authors and focus on developing special projects and new ventures.

Before launching Red Wheel/Weiser, Johnson worked at Tuttle Publishing, HarperOne (when it was known as HarperSanFrancisco), Winston/Seabury Press and as an independent book doctor, rewrite editor and editorial consultant for corporate and independent publishers.

"I've worked in book publishing since 1972, which kind of seems like the dark ages now," Johnson said. "There have been so many exciting and unforeseeable changes over the past four decades. I'm looking forward to discovering new ways of doing things and finding new projects to pursue."

With the change, Red Wheel/Weiser president Michael Kerber is taking a more direct role in the publishing program, along with associate publishers Caroline Pincus and Greg Brandenburgh, who will continue and expand their roles in acquisition and operations.


Image of the Day: New Throne at the King's English

The Turbo Toilet 2000 (of Dav Pilkey's Captain Underpants and the Tyrannical Retaliation of the Turbo Toilet 2000, just published by Scholastic) made a guest appearance for the 37th birthday of the King's English Bookshop, Salt Lake City, Utah. Left to right around the toilet are booksellers Nathan Spofford, Anne Holman, Rob Eckman, author Dav Pilkey, Margaret Brennan Neville, Whitney Berger and Betsy Burton. Yes, that is candy in the toilet bowl!

Happy 25th Birthday, Poisoned Pen!

Congratulations to the Poisoned Pen Bookstore, Scottsdale, Ariz., which turns 25 on October 3. The store has been celebrating all year, which will culminate in an open house for all customers on Friday, December 12, 5-8 p.m., that will feature refreshments, many giveaways (some donated by publishers) and authors Diana Gabaldon, Dana Stabenow and James Sallis, among others. Owner Barbara Peters said that the open house is "to thank our customers."

One other cool way the store is marking the anniversary: it's been collecting signatures all year long from visiting authors on two scrolls. One scroll will be given away; the other will be displayed in the store during 2015.

Audiobook 'In the Studio' Sampler: The Christmas Light

Macmillan Audio offered a glimpse of Donna VanLiere recording the audiobook version of her novel The Christmas Light, which will be released in October.

Personnel Changes at Chronicle Books

Effective September 24, Maggie Tokuda-Hall is joining Chronicle Books as marketing manager, children's. For the last four years she has been the children's director of marketing and events at Books Inc.

Consortium to Distribute TOON Books

Effective January 1, Consortium Book Sales & Distribution will distribute TOON Books in the U.S. and Canada.

Founded in 2008, TOON Books publishes high-quality comics for children ages three and up, all of which are vetted by literacy experts to ensure that language and narrative is appropriate for their reading level. TOON has published some 30 books by Art Spiegelman, Neil Gaiman, Hilary Knight, Jeff Smith, Eleanor Davis, R. Kikuo Johnson and Lilli Carré, among others.

Françoise Mouly, founder and editorial director of TOON Books and art editor for the New Yorker, commented: "I'm both excited and inspired to partner with Consortium to accelerate our growth plans to bring comics and visual narratives to more children in homes and in schools."

TOON recently launched TOON Graphics for children aged eight and up whose titles include Cast Away on the Letter A: A Philemon Adventure by Fred, Theseus and the Minotaur by Yvan Pommaux and Hansel & Gretel by Neil Gaiman and Lorenzo Mattotti.

In 2015, TOON Books plans to double its number of releases. The spring list includes the next installment in the Philemon Adventure series, The Wild Piano; another Greek myth, Orpheus and the Underworld by Yvan Pommaux; and Lost in NYC: A Subway Adventure by Nadja Spiegelman and Sergio García Sánchez, which will simultaneously be released in a Spanish edition, Perdidos en NYC: una aventura en el metro. Also on the list will be more comics for beginning readers: We Dig Worms!: TOON Level 1 by Kevin McCloskey, and the third book in the Benjamin Bear series, Benjamin Bear in Brain Storms!: TOON Level 2 by Philippe Coudray.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Dawn Wells from Gilligan's Island

Today on Fresh Air: Lawrence Wright, author of Thirteen Days in September: Carter, Begin, and Sadat at Camp David (Knopf, $27.95, 9780385352031).


Tomorrow morning on the Today Show: Dawn Wells, co-author of What Would Mary Ann Do?: A Guide to Life (Taylor Trade, $16.95, 9781630760281). She will also appear on Inside Edition.


Tomorrow on MSNBC's Up with Chris Hayes: Naomi Klein, author of This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate (Simon & Schuster, $30, 9781451697384).


Tomorrow on MSNBC's the Cycle: Mark Whitaker, author of Cosby: His Life and Times (Simon & Schuster, $29.99, 9781451697971).

Also on the Cycle: William Deresiewicz, author of Excellent Sheep: The Miseducation of the American Elite and the Way to a Meaningful Life (Free Press, $26, 9781476702711).


Tomorrow on the Chew: Ali Larter, author of Kitchen Revelry: A Year of Festive Menus from My Home to Yours (St. Martin's Press, $32.50, 9781250036353).

Movies: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1 Trailer

mockingjay trailerLionsgate has released a full worldwide trailer for The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1, reported, noting that "Jennifer Lawrence stars as Katniss Everdeen, who fights to save Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) from the Capitol as President Alma Coin (Julianne Moore) molds her into District 13's symbol of resistance." Directed by Francis Lawrence, the first of two parts adapted from Mockingjay opens November 21.

Books & Authors

Awards: NBA Young People's Literature, CWA Longlists

The National Book Foundation is unveiling the longlists for the National Book Award this week, beginning yesterday with the Young People's Literature category. This year's longlisted titles are:

The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson (Viking)
Girls Like Us by Gail Giles (Candlewick)
Skink: No Surrender by Carl Hiaasen (Knopf)
Greenglass House by Kate Milford (Clarion/HMH)
Threatened by Eliot Schrefer (Scholastic)
The Port Chicago 50: Disaster, Mutiny, and the Fight for Civil Rights by Steve Sheinkin (Roaring Brook/Macmillan)
100 Sideways Miles by Andrew Smith (Simon & Schuster)
Noggin by John Corey Whaley (Atheneum)
Revolution: The Sixties Trilogy, Book Two by Deborah Wiles (Scholastic)
Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson (Nancy Paulsen/Penguin)


The Crime Writers Association announced the 2014 longlist for its Dagger in the Library Award, which honors "an author's whole body of work to date, rather than a single title." This year's longlisted authors are M.C. Beaton, Tony Black, Sharon Bolton, Elly Griffiths, Mari Hannah, James Oswald, Phil Rickman, Leigh Russell, Mel Sherratt and Neil White. Nominations by readers closed on September 1. The winner will be chosen by a panel including previous winners, CWA representatives and U.K. librarians.

Book Review

Review: The Sense of Style: The Thinking Person's Guide to Writing in the 21st Century

The Sense of Style: The Thinking Person's Guide to Writing in the 21st Century by Steven Pinker (Viking, $27.95 hardcover, 9780670025855, September 23, 2014)

Even as we express ourselves in ever-shorter bites of prose, the world is awash in books that aim to teach us how to become better writers. It's fair to ask whether we actually need yet another style guide. In the case of psycholinguist and cognitive scientist Steven Pinker's erudite and witty manual, the answer is an emphatic yes.

Harvard professor Pinker, chair of the Usage Panel of The American Heritage Dictionary, offers his guide for people who "know how to write and want to write better." Distinguishing it from classics like The Elements of Style (a book for which, despite shortcomings he's quick to highlight, he confesses his abiding admiration), Pinker argues that contemporary style guides "cannot just perpetuate the diktats of earlier manuals" and instead must "replace dogma about usage with reason and evidence."

In filling that gap, one of the book's most useful sections is a discussion of what Pinker calls "classic style," his recommended method of "showing the reader something in the world and engaging her in conversation." Using examples from the work of physicist Brian Greene, he illustrates how this technique helps a writer illuminate even the most technical subject matter in lucid prose.

Pinker devotes the final third of the book to an energetic debunking of myths (he prefers the Yiddish term bubbe meises, or "grandmothers' tales") that are the province of language purists. Whether addressing the prescriptivists' abhorrence of split infinitives or their condemnation of sentences that end with prepositions, Pinker painstakingly demonstrates that many of these so-called rules lack any claim to legitimacy as "proper" English. Unlike most of what precedes it, this section isn't intended to be read straight through, but instead serves as an invaluable reference when specific questions of grammar, word choice and punctuation arise.

Despite its predominantly good-natured tone, the book turns churlish in an overlong section on coherence that's mostly devoted to assailing British military historian John Keegan's reputation for graceful expression. That section can be skimmed without missing the heart of Pinker's message.

If the hard work of writing clear, fluid prose were as enjoyable as Steven Pinker makes it seem in this lively book, striving to master that task would be a much more pleasant experience. With its wealth of helpful information and its accessible approach, The Sense of Style is a worthy addition to even the most overburdened shelf of style manuals. --Harvey Freedenberg, attorney and freelance reviewer

Shelf Talker: Psycholinguist Steven Pinker delivers a contemporary style guide that will be useful to anyone seeking to become a better writer.

Deeper Understanding

World's Longest Bookstore Tour: Part 4

Jenny Milchman, whose newest book is Ruin Falls (Ballantine), embarked earlier this year on a cross-country author tour. This is the fourth installment of notes from her trip.

There are destination restaurants and destination bookstores. Our first stop as we turned east found us in one of the latter. The Poisoned Pen Bookstore, Scottsdale, Ariz., is a study in desert gold and peach, and houses one of the best collections of mysteries, suspense and thrillers I have seen. The event I took part in featured Reed Farrell Coleman--who is at a fascinating crossroads in a writer's career--and two booksellers who interviewed us about this bookish life.

What bliss is a town that supports three independent bookstores. In Tucson, I appeared at Mostly Books for a conversation with a book club member, dropped by Antigone Books, then hustled across town to visit the mystery gem, Clues Unlimited. This bookstore boasts an avid bookseller named Chris Burke, and a rescue dog, and it's hard to say who is more beloved.

Scott Montgomery's bookstore-within-a-bookstore boasts quite a lineup.

When you reach the western edge of Texas, a sign says it's 857 miles to the state's eastern border. There are a lot of bookstores in a state this big. In Austin, I appeared at Scott Montgomery's brainchild, MysteryPeople, which occupies a forest of gorgeously stocked shelves in its parent store, BookPeople. Also in Austin is BookWoman, which applies a feminist twist to the act of reading and selling books.

The Twig in San Antonio sits in a portion of the city undergoing revitalization; the bookstore is partly driving that. Local writers and the publishers of a micro press came out, and our conversation lasted into the evening with the Texas sun setting down.

Destination book buying in Houston, Tex.

Houston is another multiple bookstore town. First up was bibliotherapy at Blue Willow Bookshop. Readers stroll in for wine, snacks and talk with the visiting author and booksellers. Murder by the Book draws authors from all over the globe--my own 7,000 mile journey was a mere bagatelle. And indeed, I would've traveled much farther to see the room fill up in comparison to my first appearance as a newbie author last year, and to sign the beautiful, teetering stack of books. These are booksellers who know how to grow an author.

You'd be hard-pressed to find a more charming town than Fairhope, Ala., or a more charming bookstore than Page & Palette, which hosts a luncheon in its connected café for visiting authors. Iced tea goblets sweated and sandwiches were nibbled as the group posed questions and discussed their favorite books. Attendees travel from as far away as Mississippi and Georgia each time such a luncheon takes place. It's a southern kind of book hospitality that ensures no author feels like a stranger.

Now this is a team I could root for!

Inkwood Books in Tampa, Fla., is the local bookstore of two of my current favorite authors, Lisa Unger and Michael Koryta. When one of them turned out for my event, I knew it was going to be a great night. The conversation roved and ranged in a way that can happen only when a bunch of writers are together in a room.

Sanibel Island, also on the Florida Gulf Coast, is paradise. And MacIntosh Books & Paper knows how to host a book event. Attendees sign up in advance, and the price of admission is a brand new hardcover, while everyone gathers at the Italian restaurant next door for a three-course lunch. Books, conversation and some of the warmest booksellers in a warm place… it doesn't get much better than that. Oh, did I mention the tiramisu?

Book display in Delray Beach, Fla.

It's probably not an overstatement to say that Mitchell Kaplan of Books & Books has changed the face of bookselling in this country (not to mention Grand Cayman). My evening in Coral Gables, Fla., included 20-somethings considering a career in writing alongside people with decades under their belts. If this is bookselling today, then I'm optimistic.

Mystery bookstores are a special breed and Murder on the Beach in Delray Beach, Fla., is a stellar example. The décor is deliciously creepy, and the seats fill with avid suspense lovers who come prepared with questions.

The Vero Beach booksellers call it!

Vero Beach Book Center in Vero Beach--my final stop in the Sunshine State for the year--knows how to make an author feel like a star. From the marquee/billboard out front to the bookstore bestseller list, these booksellers are there for the whole trajectory of a writer's career. And their loyal attendees know it--reviewers, bloggers and book club members fill the audience to discover new finds with the Vero Beach seal of approval, and reunite with old favorites, too.

Savannah, Ga., is a bookish city, and no one demonstrates this better than Joni Saxon-Giusti, who has created a wandering warren of books in the Book Lady Bookstore. Here I appeared with mystery author Tina Whittle for what might've been the most rousing conversation I've seen yet. Our topics covered the distinction between literary and genre fiction--is there a difference?--and how to open the doors to creativity, which artists and writers sometimes close on themselves.

Bookseller Pete Mock on the 4th of July at McIntyre's.

Pete Mock of McIntyre's Books in Pittsboro, N.C., pulled off something any bookseller will marvel at: two packed book events, back to back, on the July 4th weekend. How does Pete do it? First, he seems to have a database of customers in his head--or possibly on a computer--so that he was able to draw those who love suspense to my talk and a crowd of history buffs to that of the next author, Suzanne Adair. McIntyre's is a warm, inviting space in a village of residents, some of whom name the bookstore as a key reason for moving there.

Powered by: Xtenit