Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, August 2, 2006

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

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

HarperOne: I Finally Bought Some Jordans: Essays by Michael Arceneaux

Tor Nightfire: Ghost Station by S.A. Barnes

Severn River Publishing: Covert Action (Command and Control #5) by J.R. Olson and David Bruns

Scholastic Press: Heroes: A Novel of Pearl Harbor by Alan Gratz

Quotation of the Day

Bookstore as Aid to Reentering Life on the Outside

"My job is to care about our community, and these people are part of it. If they can find our store a place to go to avoid doing terrible things, how great is that? The worst that will happen to you here is someone will give you a bookmark or offer you a Frappuccino sample."--Debra Lampert-Rudman, community relations coordinator at the Springfield, N.J., Barnes & Noble in a poignant New York Times article about men nearing the end of prison terms who regularly visit B&N as part of a halfway house program.

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


Notes: New Stores; Closing Stores; AM Show Airs in Arkansas

Kepler's Books & Magazines, Menlo Park, Calif., has added another piece to its revitalization program--it has begun selling books online for the first time since it closed abruptly for several months last year, according to Palo Alto Online.

The store will ship orders--for free as an introductory offer--or hold them for pickup at the store. Kepler's executives have said that selling online is important because even the most loyal customers occasionally buy books online.


The Book Report, the weekly one-hour AM book show organized by Windows a bookshop, Monroe, La. (Shelf Awareness, May 15), has expanded into another market. As of July 22, Mary Gay Shipley, owner of That Bookstore in Blytheville, Blytheville, Ark., has been sponsoring the show on News-Talk 910 KLCN, which, since it's near Memphis, covers an area that includes Mississippi, Missouri, Tennessee, Illinois and Kentucky as well as part of Arkansas.

Co-founder Elisabeth Grant-Gibson said the show is focusing on offering the Book Report to booksellers who want to buy an hour of air time each week on a local AM talk station. Booksellers can recoup monies--and possibly earn more--by selling six minutes of ad space built into the show. Grant-Gibson hopes to add another market or two in the next month and more before the holidays.


Bookselling This Week caught up with Lisa Sharp, owner of Nightbird Books, which opened in April in Fayetteville, Ark. Other businesses have sung Nightbird's praises, and the store partners with a neighboring restaurant. In a nice touch considering its name, Nightbird has an aviary in the center of the 1,900-sq.-ft. store that is home to 18 finches, doves and canaries.


The Virginian-Pilot offers an amusing chronicle of what has happened in the decade since H.L. and Linda Wilson sold Bibliophile, their Norfolk, Va., bookstore, and headed north--where they now have a store in South Kortright, N.Y., a Catskills town that, along with Hobart and Stamford, they helped make a kind of bookselling village.

Carrying some 100,000 mostly used books, their Bibliobarn is in a former barn outside of town, and the bargain section is in a former outhouse. "We're still a walk-in bookstore," Linda Wilson told the paper, "in the middle of a cow pasture."


The Seattle Post-Intelligencer profiles Chauni Haslet, a self-described "tough old bird," and her children's bookstore, All for Kids Books & Music, Seattle, Wash., which has struggled somewhat because of increased competition, a big rent increase and having to reconfigure part of the store. Still, Haslet is determined to promote literacy, keep close ties with teachers and librarians, help children discover and love reading and be a community center.

The 5,000-sq.-ft. store stocks 65,000 book titles and more than 2,500 children's audios.


In the next week, Caroline Kramer, who turns 73 today, will close the Readmore News Center, Lansing, Mich., and retire, according to the Lansing State Journal. She and her late husband, Jerry, bought the store in 1975.

"It's too bad this had to happen, but I had no choice," Kramer told the paper. "There's no money in it. The Internet really hurt us and the large book stores like Barnes & Noble hurt our sales."


The Greensboro News-Record records the end of Logos Christian Book Store in Greensboro, N.C., which is closing "in the next few days." Owner Kathy Matheny called it "the love of my life. I hate to see it go. It's like death." Matheny has owned the store for 14 years; her cousin opened it in 1971.

Becky Gorczyca, executive director of the Association of Logos Book Stores, who was at the store this week, told the paper that besides "big-box retailers, mega-bookstores and online commerce," the success of the Left Behind series hurt Christian stores, too, because secular stores woke up to the sales potential of religion titles. While there were once about 70 Logos stores across the country, there are now about 25 of the independently owned and operated stores.

Harpervia: Behind You Is the Sea by Susan Muaddi Darraj

Indigo Sees a Little Less Red Ink

Sales at Indigo Books & Music, Canada's largest bookseller, rose 3.8% to C$170.4 million (about US$150.6 million) in the quarter ended July 1, while the net loss narrowed to C$5.8 million (US$5.1 million) compared to C$8.1 million (US$7.2 million) in the same period last year. Sales at stores opened at least a year rose 4.5%. Online division sales rose 7.2% to $16.3 million (US$14.4 million).

CEO Heather Reisman commented: "This was the fifth consecutive quarter in which we experienced improved revenues. Through a combination of aggressive continuous improvement and the implementation of consumer-centric programs, we are driving very positive results."

Indigo includes Chapters, the World's Biggest Bookstore and Coles as well as, its online division.

University of California Press: The Accidental Ecosystem: People and Wildlife in American Cities by Peter S. Alagona

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Nora Ephron and Her Neck

Today on the Today Show: Nora Ephron, author of I Feel Bad About My Neck: And Other Thoughts on Being a Woman (Knopf, $19.95, 0307264556).


The Book Report, the weekly AM radio book-related show organized by Windows a bookshop, Monroe, La., will feature two author interviews on today's show, which, as the first show of the month, has a children's focus and the theme Laughing Out Loud:
  • Brod Bagert, children's poet and author of The Hormone Jungle: Coming of Age in Middle School (Maupin House, $23.95, 0929895878), Chicken Socks (Boyds Mills Press, $9.95, 156397861X) and Giant Children (Puffin, $6.99, 0142401927), among others.
  • Polly Horvath, author of the Newbery Honor Book Everything on a Waffle (FSG, $5.95, 0374422087), National Book Award-winner The Canning Season (FSG, $6.95, 0374410429) and most recently The Vacation (FSG, $16, 0374380708).

The show airs at 8 a.m. Central Time and can be heard live at; the archived edition will be posted this afternoon.


On this morning's Writer's Roundtable on World Talk Radio, Antoinette Kuritz talks with J.A. Konrath, whose latest in the Jack Daniels series is Rusty Nails (Hyperion, $23.95, 140130088X), and James Rollins on his new book, Black Order (Morrow, $24.95, 0060763884).


Today on WAMU's Diane Rehm Show: Saul Cornell, author of A Well-Regulated Militia: The Founding Fathers and the Origins of Gun Control in America (Oxford, $30, 0195147863).

Deeper Understanding

Busted Flush Press Raises the Reprint Ante

David Thompson's small mystery press, Busted Flush Press (named in honor of the boat, won in a poker game, in which John D. MacDonald's Travis McGee lives), stems from his "love and hate about handselling" at Murder by the Book, the Houston, Tex., mystery bookstore where Thompson is assistant manager and has worked for 17 years.

He explained: "I love it that we can get so excited about books we're reading and get people who come in excited about them, too--and sell hundreds of copies of the books. It's a fun atmosphere." But when major publishers decide a book hasn't sold enough even if it does well at mystery stores like Murder by the Book, then the book goes out of print, is hard to find, "and the author develops a bad track record and other publishers are reluctant to pick them up," Thompson said.

So after running out of copies of too many handselling favorites, last year Thompson decided to remedy the situation by founding a mystery press that specializes in reprints of "fine thrillers and hard-boiled crime fiction" that "we ourselves have field tested," he said enthusiastically. "We have lots of customers who are really trustworthy and have certain authors they want to see back in print. I'm mainly doing titles I know we can sell a few hundred copies by handselling."

Busted Flush Press joins several other mystery presses run by mystery bookstores, such as Rue Morgue Press and the Poisoned Pen Press, as well as such specialty mystery presses as Felony and Mayhem Press. Busted Flush is a little different in that it's owned and run by a mystery bookstore employee rather than a bookstore owner. As a result, it is perhaps even more a labor of love than other mystery presses: Thompson usually works at the press from 5-9 a.m., then works 9 a.m.-6 p.m. at the store. Although the store is supportive, Thompson does not work on press matters while at Murder by the Book.

The press's first few efforts were limited edition books, but this season it offers the first titles that Thompson hopes will find spots in other mystery and general stores. One of them, a November title, Stone City by Mitchell Smith ($18, 0976715775), is "the book that made me want to set up the press," Thompson said. A prison crime novel by an author who has faded into obscurity, "it's one of the best books I've read." Stone City was first published in 1990 and came out in mass market the following year. By 1992, it was already difficult to find.

But Thompson remained a fan, and several years ago, mystery writer Phillip Margolin did an event at the store. Asked by someone in the audience about his favorite books, Margolin said Stone City was his No. 1 title. "We talked afterwards, and I told him about my publishing idea," Thompson said. "Margolin said not to get into publishing because I'd lose my shirt, but he added that if I did do it and published Stone City, he'd write the introduction." So now that Thompson is risking his shirt, Margolin has written the introduction for Stone City.

Two titles that are currently available are:

A Fifth of Bruen: Early Fiction of Ken Bruen with an introduction by 2006 Edgar-nominee Allan Guthrie ($18, 0976715724), which Busted Flush published in May. This consists of six early books by Irish writer Bruen that came out originally either as chapbooks or limited edition small press titles. "They're fantastic stories," Thompson said.

Damn Near Dead: Old, Bold, Uncontrolled, an Anthology of Geezer Noir edited by Duane Swierczynski with an introduction by James Crumley ($18, 0976715759). Published in July, this book contains original short stories ("Swierczynski and I conceived it," Thompson said) by such authors as Laura Lippman, Megan Abbott, John Harvey and Reed Farrel Coleman, among others. "The stories feature elderly protagonists," Thompson said. "They're not knitting and playing with cats and doing crosswords; they're people at the end of their rope, and if they're going down, they're taking others with them."

In September, he will release "another author I want to push," David Handler. (Not to be confused with Daniel Handler of Lemony Snickett fame!) The first Handler volume with Busted Flush Press will consist of the first two books he wrote featuring a celebrity ghost writer-detective and his basset hound named Lulu, The Man Who Died Laughing and The Man Who Lived by Night. "There is no cutesy dog thing going on here," Thompson commented. "It's edgy and cozy. There's profanity, sex and violence but also a puppy dog." Available in trade paperback and hardcover, these two titles are the only ones in the eight book series that weren't printed in hardcover. Altogther Thompson plans to do four omnibus editions of all eight Lulu books. Colin Cotterill, the Dilys Winn-winning crime writer, is creating the cover art for all the books.

For now, production is often painstaking since the reprinted titles were created in the pre-digital era. Thompson has the books scanned, but the technology isn't perfect, and he compares the scanned material to the original "character by character."

He's also learning a bit about publishing, particularly "some of the little things as a bookseller you overlook." For example, "I used to think why do publishers need a manuscript and cover art a year in advance?" He learned quickly that editing, designing, typesetting and printing can take a while and that prepublication reviewers want material very early.

So far sales have been "slow but steady" for the books that are out. Of the 4,000-copy first printing for A Fifth of Bruen, for example, the press has sold 1,000 copies. "A lot of sales are direct," but many are through stores, a channel Thompson hopes to increase.

Thompson also hopes to sell to libraries that want to fill out their classic mysteries and will set release dates around the time of mystery conventions to appeal to the collectors market.

He plans to publish 6-10 books a year. He'll be happy, he said, if he gets more attention for his authors and helps them "get with someone bigger. I want to get these books back into print so we can handsell them, but I also want the authors to get better notice." (He emphasized that he's not looking for new authors to send manuscripts.)

Thompson may be contacted at or at 713-942-9282;

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