Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, January 28, 2015


Blackstone Publishing: An Honorable Assassin (Nick Mason Novels #3) by Steve Hamilton

Clarion Books: The Man Who Didn't Like Animals by Deborah Underwood, Illlustrated by LeUyen Pham

Holiday House: Bye Forever, I Guess by Jodi Meadows and Team Canteen 1: Rocky Road by Amalie Jahn

Wednesday Books: Dust by Alison Stine

Running Press Kids: The Junior Witch's Handbook, The Junior Astrologer's Handbook, and The Junior Tarot Reader's Handbook by Nikki Van De Car

Scholastic Press: Ruin Road by Lamar Giles

News

Snowpocalypse No(w): Post-Blizzard Update

Depending upon where your bookshop is located in the Northeast, yesterday's Snowpocalypse was either a hit or a miss. Here's a sampling from some of the booksellers who checked in on social media before, during and after the "weather event":

RiverRun Bookstore, Portsmouth, N.H.: "This. And snacks. Ready for the blizzard!! http://ift.tt/1tgKSQB"

Eight Cousins Books, Falmouth, Mass.: "Yup. It's snowing."

Bunch of Grapes Bookstore, Vineyard Haven, Mass., shared wintry visuals while announcing: "Due to the bans on travel and parking, Bunch of Grapes will be CLOSED tomorrow. Stay safe and warm!"

Housing Works Bookstore Cafe, New York City: "Benefits of coming to HWBC today: get a free coffee/tea with purchase of a book, enjoy some great pop tunes, also it's not your apartment." 

Market Block Books, Troy, N.Y.: "Don't go downtown right now... it's 4 p.m. and we're not there. See you tomorrow. xox."

St. Mark's Bookshop, New York City: "The upside of the 'blizzard that wasn't' is we're open for business! Normal hours, open tonight to 11 p.m. Come find yourself a snow-day read."

The weather put some booksellers in a poetic mood:

Northshire Bookstore, Manchester Center, Vt.: "The Manchester store has closed for the day because of the weather. We leave you with a haiku from one of our ex-employees. Emilia Burditt":

A Haiku of Regret
We are closed today
The weather has made it so
Please come again, friend


Diane's Books of Greenwich, Conn., was closed yesterday, but shared Mary Oliver's poem "First Snow."

Harvard Book Store, Cambridge, Mass.: "Today we woke up to a revolution of snow, its white flag waving over everything... 'Snow Day' by Billy Collins: http://ow.ly/I2dfd

Even bookseller friends outside the region sent messages of support:

Tattered Cover, Denver, Colo.: "Stay safe, lovely readers of New England & New York! http://bit.ly/BookShelter."


Help a Bookseller, Change a Life: Give today to the Book Industry Charitable Foundation!


Foyles CEO Husain to Retire

Sam Husain is retiring as CEO of Foyles in April after eight years in the position, but will remain with the company as a non-executive director, the Bookseller reported. His successor is former Hamleys COO Paul Currie, who will join Foyles February 16.
 
Christopher Foyle, non-executive chairman of the company, said Husain "has been invaluable to Foyles' continuing renaissance. His leadership has made the past eight years exceptional, culminating in a superb Christmas at our new flagship store and across the business, and news of an exciting new opening in Birmingham. I have enjoyed working with Sam enormously.... I'm looking forward to welcoming Paul Currie to Foyles and benefiting from his extensive experience in the retail sector."

Husain observed that the "staff, managers and management team are committed and second to none and are now led by a capable and proven CEO. I believe the company is in excellent hands and in a good position to grow further and benefit from opportunities that arise."

Currie commented: "If you look at the brand of Foyles and measure the brand equity against the perception of the brand, there is a lot of difference. People think Foyles is a lot bigger than it actually is. There is real potential for Foyles to grow into that."


Kobo to Host blinkbox Books' Customer Libraries

After supermarket chain Tesco closes blinkbox Books February 28, customers' e-book libraries will be transferred to Kobo. The move comes in the wake of Waterstones' decision to end negotiations with Tesco to purchase the e-books service.

Noting that Kobo "has done quite well for themselves over the course of the last few years by taking over the e-book business from companies that went under," Good E-Reader cited a similar move last year, when Sony closed its Reader Store and Kobo subsequently added "over 100,000 active customers who started to buy e-books from Kobo, instead of Sony. The same thing is happening now with Tesco and their Blinkbox Books platform."


Changing Hands: Second Store Rises in Phoenix

Before it reopened in May 2014, the 18,000-square-foot complex in Phoenix, Ariz., where Changing Hands Bookstore has a new location was once a locally legendary steakhouse known as Beef Eaters. Founded by Jay Newton in 1961, Beef Eaters closed in 2006, and for nearly eight years the building was abandoned. At times, it was a home for squatters and transients, and at one point was slated for demolition. A group of citizens intent on preserving the local landmark, though, stopped it from being destroyed. Today it is a mixed-use community and commercial space called the Newton that houses a gardening store, a business strategy and consultancy agency, a restaurant--and Changing Hands Bookstore.

Co-owner Cindy Dach

The new Changing Hands resides in what was once the original, cavernous dining room of Beef Eaters. The roughly 5,500-square-foot room had had no windows and the floor was covered in red carpeting; the biggest change made to the space, said Changing Hands co-owner Cindy Dach, was the addition of the room's windows and skylights. "The room was just too dark," said Dach. "Beyond that, though, we really didn't change very much."

They pulled out the original red carpeting and polished the concrete floor underneath, and the building's old light system was also completely replaced with a new LED light system. The store's bookshelves came from a Barnes & Noble in nearby Pasadena, Ariz., that closed in 2013. Before installing the shelves, Changing Hands painted the bookshelves black and cut them down so that shoppers and booksellers alike could look across the entire store.

The single biggest difference between the new store and the original Changing Hands in Tempe is the First Draft Book Bar, a beer, wine and coffee bar that is owned and operated by the bookstore and connects the store's selling floor with a large, multi-purpose community space. The bar is open from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. from Monday to Saturday and from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Sunday, and has a "to-go" license for beer and wine.

First Draft Book Bar

"The public hasn't quite caught on to the take-out aspect yet," said Dach. "We're working on doing some marketing to make all that more visible."

Dach described the bar's customers and atmosphere both as very literary. The area is well lit to facilitate reading, and conversations around the bar are frequently about books. The bartenders and customers constantly give each other recommendations and talk about books they love. On multiple occasions, Dach said, she's seen customers at the bar run out into the bookstore to grab a title for another customer with whom they had just been talking.

"One of my booksellers complained that no one needed her," recalled Dach, laughing. And during the holidays, customers would frequently order a drink at the bar and then, upon learning that they could bring beverages throughout the rest of the store, go browsing for books with beverage in hand.

The bar has both wine and beer on tap; kegs are stored in a large walk-in refrigerator in the basement, and the tap lines run up to the bar on the ground floor. To make it easier on delivery people, the store also has a keg-sized dumbwaiter that goes down into the basement. Changing Hands hired a liquor agent to help it get a liquor license. According to Dach, Changing Hands Phoenix was the first business in Arizona that was not a bar or restaurant to be given a liquor license.

The new store's cash wrap area.

Before the store was open, Dach related, she and co-owner Gayle Shanks had had many "fraught discussions" about when to start serving alcohol to customers. They consulted with the owners of the restaurant next door, and were told: "You start serving when they start ordering." Dach and her team have followed that advice; on the weekends, the first drinks are usually served by 10 a.m.

The new store opened at 5 p.m. on May 30, 2014, the same day that the store passed its final fire inspection. Having already delayed the opening and worried that some of their new staff might have to go hunting for other jobs if they waited too much longer, Shanks and Dach resolved to move fast after receiving approval to open. They put the word out on social media, and the result, Dach said, was "insane."

The rest of last year, up to and including the holidays, was a major learning period for Dach and her staff. They gained a better understanding of how to run the bar, how to handle events in the new space, and how to make sure that things run smoothly between the bar and the bookstore. They've also learned more about the new store's customer base.

"In the Tempe store, we're in relationships; we have long-time customers," Dach explained. "In Phoenix, we're all on first, second or third dates."

The children's section

The new store is close to downtown and in a much more urban area than the Tempe store. The Newton is also near Phoenix's Metro Light Rail, which began operation in 2008; more of the employees at the Phoenix store take the light rail or bike to work than drive. The Phoenix clientele is younger, and Dach has noticed that the "parents who drink" crowd is very fond of the bookstore. Also more men shop at the Phoenix store than the Tempe store. Remarked Dach: "I think it's the bar."

Some of those assumptions have proven true. Cookbooks and art books, for instance, sell better in Phoenix than in Tempe. Hardcover fiction and poetry also sell better in the new store, as do LGBT non-fiction and business books. Both stores show strong children's sales. One interesting surprise, though, has been the brisk sales of math-related books, specifically those about math theory, at the new store. Memoirs, meanwhile, tend to perform better in Tempe than in Phoenix.

Both the Phoenix store and the Tempe store sell used books. The inventory at the Tempe store is roughly a 50/50 split between new and used titles, and customers can trade in used books any day of the week. At the Phoenix store, the split is more like 70/30 new books to used books, and so far, customers can not yet trade in books. Starting in February, though, customers will be able to trade in books in Phoenix two days per week.

The holidays, Dach said, "absolutely exceeded expectations." Sales at the Tempe store were a little bit down compared to 2013, which Dach and Shanks had expected as a result of the new store, but sales in Phoenix more than made up the difference. The holiday bestsellers, Dach reported, were very similar at both stores--Anthony Doerr's All the Light We Cannot See was the biggest fiction title of the season.

Some of the initiatives that Dach and Shanks have been planning for a long time--such as book-and-beer or book-and-wine pairings as gift items--have yet to be introduced. But now that things have settled down a bit, Dach said, they can start working on those programs.

"When we said we'd open a bar, we had all these amazing ideas," said Dach. "But the first seven months were really about operations. Now we're able to take a breath and look at our list of original ideas and get those on the calendar." --Alex Mutter


Obituary Note: Gene Kemp

Gene Kemp, "a children's writer who deftly chronicled the best of growing up in rural England at the end of the 20th century," died January 4, the Guardian reported. She was 88. 


Notes

Cool Idea: Poisoned Pen/Diana Gabaldon's Writers in Residence

The Poisoned Pen Bookstore, Scottsdale, Ariz., and author Diana Gabaldon are holding their first joint Writers in Residence program February 21-28. The program features Charles Finch, author of the Charles Lenox mystery novels and The Last Enchantments. He also writes about books for the New York Times, Slate, USA Today and the Chicago Tribune.

Finch will spend the week in Scottsdale, where he will host author events featuring Laurie R. King, Priscilla Royal and Tessa Arlen, hold an event for his own work and teach two writers' workshops, one focused on getting a novel started and the other on story structure.


BookHampton Launches Same-Day Home Delivery Service

BookHampton, with stores in East Hampton and Southhampton, N.Y., has launched a same-day home delivery service "in a community driven effort to stave off winter and the scourge of Amazon." Owner Charline Spektor said BookHampton "is an extraordinary place. Not only because of its history. It's a living bookstore, filled with real-go-ahead-touch-them-books and a small and amazing band of booksellers who are fighting for the bookstore’s life."

"We're fighting with everything we've got," added Kim Lombardini, who came up with the delivery idea. "We really know books; we recommend great books, and if what it takes for people to order books from us is delivering the books then I'll be the first to do that, too."

Spektor told the East Hampton Press that purchased books are being delivered to customers from Southampton to Montauk at no extra charge, and the delivery system will continue into the summer months: "We’ll do it for as long as people ask for it."


Water Street's Dan Chartrand: 'I Could Make a Living with This'

Dan Chartrand, owner of Water Street Bookstore, Exeter, N.H., was interviewed by SeacoastOnline.com about the indie that "has become an Exeter institution over the last 23 years." Among our favorite exchanges:

What was your first full-time job?
I worked in an independent bookstore in St. Paul. The owner saw me hanging out in the store and said, 'You're here all the time. You should apply to work here for the holidays.' I started there in November 1981 and loved it. The hook was set. I thought, 'I could make a living with this.' I continued there through June 1983.

What was opening day like?
We did a soft opening on Aug. 10, 1991. It was a Saturday. It had rained like crazy on Friday, but the sun was out. We took the paper off the windows, unlocked the door and wondered, 'Will people come in?' And they came in.

You must like recommending books to customers.
One reason I've done this for so long is the people who are attracted to books are almost exclusively great people. They skew toward introverts. They take a lot of care with their inner life. I love when they come in and say, 'This place smells like books.' I can't smell it. I've been around here too long.


Happy 20th Birthday, Booklovers' Gourmet!

Congratulations to Booklovers' Gourmet, Webster, Mass., which is celebrating its 20th anniversary with several days of events in early March. Daily raffles and discounts run from March 4 to March 7, when local band The Grey Whisker Pickers will perform from 12 to 2 p.m. Customers will also be able to sign a “memory wall” and enjoy light refreshments.

Booklovers' Gourmet is an independent bookstore, coffee house and gift shop with frequent community events, including author signings, readings, workshops and local artist showcases. "One of my main goals in running this type of community-based business is to offer cultural opportunities for everyone to participate in, to grow and learn by meeting others and experiencing things they may not otherwise get the chance to," said owner and Webster native Debra Horan. Horan also maintains an extensive children's selection. "I work closely with the local schools and libraries and we have developed a mutually beneficial relationship over the years," she said.


Personnel Changes at Viking and Penguin

In the Viking and Penguin publicity department

Meredith Burks has been promoted to publicity manager for Viking and Penguin Books. She started at Penguin in the DK publicity department in 2008, then joined Viking/Penguin Books in 2009, and after a year at HarperCollins, returned to Viking/Penguin Books in 2012 as a senior publicist.

Annie Harris has been promoted to associate publicist. She joined Viking/Penguin as a publicity assistant in 2013, after starting her publishing career on the agency side.


Media and Movies

Media Heat: Frances Jensen on Fresh Air

Today on Fresh Air: Frances Jensen, author of The Teenage Brain: A Neuroscientist's Survival Guide to Raising Adolescents and Young Adults (Harper, $27.99, 9780062067845).

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Tomorrow night on the Daily Show: Sarah Chayes, author of Thieves of State: Why Corruption Threatens Global Security (Norton, $26.95, 9780393239461).


On Stage: Water for Elephants

Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen is being developed as a Broadway musical by Tony award-winning producer Peter Schneider (The Lion King) and Elisabetta di Mambro, who has produced the works of Robert Wilson worldwide for the past 25 years. Schneider and di Mambro acquired the rights in association with Broadway Across America and Mehr! Entertainment.

"I am beyond thrilled to be involved in a creative process that is entirely new to me, especially with such wonderfully talented people at the helm to reimagine my work for the stage," said Gruen. "When I wrote the book, I hoped people would think about the way we treat those who are dependent on us--animals, the elderly, the debilitated, as well as the power of love in all its forms, and it's going to be amazing to see this message delivered in such an exciting medium."

Schneider said he had loved the novel "since it was first published and was captivated by its theatricality. It is so dramatic--a woman who is trapped in a relationship for all the wrong reasons meets and falls in love with a man for all the right reasons. Throw in an elephant as a matchmaker and you have the potential for a show of great imagination and emotional depth."

Added di Mambro: "The novel evokes an exotic, colorful and gorgeous world and yet its very human emotions are instantly recognizable and universal. We are just starting the creative process, beginning to talk with composers, writers, and directors who can help transform this vibrant world onto the musical stage. Aware of the exciting challenge ahead of us, we are grateful that Sara Gruen has given us the rights to bring her beloved story and characters to life as a global musical."


Movies: Child 44; The Duff

Lionsgate has released a new trailer for Child 44, based on Tom Rob Smith's novel, Variety reported. The film, directed by Daniel Espinosa from a script by Richard Price, stars Tom Hardy, Gary Oldman, Noomi Rapace, Joel Kinnaman, Jason Clarke and Vincent Cassel. It opens April 17.

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A new trailer has been released for The Duff, based on the YA novel by Kody Keplinger, Indiewire reported. The cast includes Mae Whitman, Robbie Amell, Bella Thorne, Bianca Santos, Skyler Samuels, Nick Eversman, Alison Janney, Romany Malco and Ken Jeong. The Duff opens on February 20.



Books & Authors

Awards: Costa Book of the Year; Colby Winner; Branford Boase

Helen Macdonald won the £30,000 (about $45,565) Costa Book of the Year award for H Is for Hawk, the Guardian reported. Chair of judges Robert Harris said, "Everybody agreed it was wonderful, muscular, precise, scalpel-like prose. It was a very clever and accomplished piece of writing that wove everything together. There are some books that win prizes because they demand it and then the public don't quite get it. This is a book I think which everyone will like."

The winner of this year's £3,500 (about $5,315) Costa Short Story Award is Zoe Gilbert for "Fishskin, Hareskin."

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Colonel Douglas V. Mastriano has won the 2015 William E. Colby Award for Alvin York: A New Biography of the Hero of the Argonne (University Press of Kentucky).

Mastriano will receive the award and a $5,000 author honorarium provided through a grant from the Tawani Foundation at Norwich University during the Colby Military Writers' Symposium on April 9. The award recognizes "a first work of fiction or nonfiction that has made a significant contribution to the public's understanding of intelligence operations, military history or international affairs."

Carlo D'Este, executive director of the Symposium, commented: "Superbly researched and splendidly written, Douglas V. Mastriano's work on Alvin York recounts not only the incredible story of a Tennessee mountain boy who won the Medal of Honor and became the greatest American hero of the First World War, but also of how, through years of investigation and exploration, he located York's battle site and was instrumental in the creation of two permanent monuments and an historic trail."

A veteran of the first Gulf War and Afghanistan, Mastriano teaches at the U.S. Army War College, has a Ph.D. from the University of New Brunswick in Canada and is co-founder of the Sergeant York Discovery Expedition.

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The longlist has been announced for the Branford Boase Award, which honors "the author of an outstanding debut novel for children. Uniquely, it also honors the editor of the winning title and highlights the importance of the editor in nurturing new talent." The shortlist will be released May 4, with a winner named in early July in London.


Book Brahmin: Mary Pope Osborne

photo: Elena Seibert

Three years ago, Mary Pope Osborne launched the Classroom Adventures Program, in honor of the 20th anniversary of the publication of the first Magic Tree House book, Dinosaurs Before Dark. The series has sold more than 100 million copies. This month, Osborne publishes her first Magic Tree House Super Edition, Danger in the Darkest Hour (Random House), illustrated by Sal Murdocca, in which Jack and Annie find themselves in England during World War II. Mary Pope Osborne lives in Goshen, Conn.

On your nightstand now:

Swann's Way by Marcel Proust (Yale University Press edition); Proust as Philosopher by Miguel de Beistegui; and Proust by Samuel Beckett.

Favorite book when you were a child:

Elsie E. Egermeier's Bible Story Book.

Your top five authors:

Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Colette, J.R.R. Tolkien, Patrick Leigh Fermor and Laura Ingalls Wilder.

Book you've faked reading:

James Joyce's Ulysses.

Book you are an evangelist for:

The Art of Eating by M.F.K. Fisher. Fisher has been called the Colette of food writers. Her wit, sensuality and eye for detail reveal the magic hidden in ordinary things. Keeping vigil over a family member in the hospital, I read this whole collection and found that it gave me strength.

Book you've bought for the cover:

Robert Louis Stevenson Reader.

Book that changed your life:

The Luminous Ground by Christopher Alexander rearranged my view of architecture and design. It taught me how to discern a timeless beauty in certain human-made things, such as buildings, gardens and objects of art.

Favorite line from a book:

"In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit," from The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien.

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

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë.

Three books that affected you profoundly as a teenager:

Franny and Zooey by J.D. Salinger; Look Homeward, Angel by Thomas Wolfe; Speak, Memory by Vladimir Nabokov.

Name one more book you're crazy about:

The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame.


Book Review

Children's Review: It's Only Stanley

It's Only Stanley by Jon Agee (Dial, $17.99 hardcover, 32p., ages 5-8, 9780803739079, March 17, 2015)

Rhyming couplets were never more perfectly suited to a read-aloud tale than this one, starring a beagle on a mission and his human family (plus their pet cat).

Jon Agee, who imagined the formative years for jolly St. Nick in Little Santa, here visualizes the double life of Stanley, the Wimbledons' talented dog. In the opening scene, a woman sits up in bed, a cat looks pie-eyed, and the man next to her lays awake. "The Wimbledons were sleeping./ It was very, very late,/ When Wilma heard a spooky sound,/ Which made her sit up straight./ 'That's very odd,' said Walter./ 'I don't recognize the tune...' " The only word appears in a speech balloon on the spread that follows: "Howooo!" A beagle bays at the full moon, as Walter Wimbledon and the cat stand in the front yard of their very vertical house. "It's only Stanley," Walter reports back to Wilma. "He's howling at the moon."

Agee sticks to a palette of greens, blues and adobe reds. The blue-gray hue of Wilma and Walter's bedroom wall gives way to the deep cornflower blue of a moonlit sky, with Stanley partially obscured by long meadow grasses. The sing-song rhythm of the couplets adds to the comical escalation of the situation. One by one, their four children join Wilma and Walter in their bed after hearing strange sounds. First Wendy hears a clanking sound ("It's only Stanley," Walter says, "He fixed the oil tank"), then Willie smells something funky ("It's only Stanley," says Walter, "He's making catfish stew"). Each time Walter checks, Agee uses a wordless spread (with choice sound effects) that lets readers in on visual clues to a larger puzzle. Even though sleep-deprived Walter doesn't take note of the hole in the TV room floor to access numerous electrical cords, children will. They'll also delight in detecting the poor family cat (Max) bearing the brunt of Stanley's project, with oil-doused fur and a singed tail, among other ailments.

The stripes on Wendy, Willie, Wanda and Wylie's pajamas hark back to Agee's escaped convicts in The Halloween House, and suggest suburban entrapment. Luckily, Stanley's out-of-this-world plans for the household break them out of their dreary routine. Readers will relish going back to the beginning to see how Stanley achieved his goal. --Jennifer M. Brown, children's editor, Shelf Awareness

Shelf Talker: Jon Agee creates an out-of-this-world read-aloud adventure for the Wimbledon family, courtesy of their inventive dog, Stanley.


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