Shelf Awareness for Friday, September 25, 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

Quotation of the Day

Geraldine Brooks: A Bookshop 'Motivated Me So Much'

Geraldine Brooks

"When I was writing my first book, Nine Parts of Desire, I had a lot of trouble staying put in my study and getting on with it. I was living in Hampstead, London, at the time and I would procrastinate in every way I could think of. One of my favorite ways was to go to the local bookstore and just stand there, surveying the shelves, smelling the scent of new books, fingering the covers. Thinking, 'I'll have a book here soon.' Then I would realize, 'Hmmm, if that's the case I'd better go home and get on with writing it.' I fell in love with that store because it motivated me so much.

"The oddest thing that's happened was after that book came out. I was in New York City, standing in line at the register. The woman in front of me was saying, 'Do you have Six Portions of Pleasure? Oh, no, wait: maybe it was called Five Shares of Lust?' I was dying inside, wondering which was worse, outing myself, or letting a potential sale go by. The bookseller, bless her, didn't even look up. 'You want Nine Parts of Desire,' " she said, and pointed the woman to the relevant shelf."

--Author Geraldine Brooks, in a q&a with Brazos Bookstore, Houston, Tex.

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SEC: Shaky 2014 Bid for Barnes & Noble Was Fraud

On February 21, 2014, when G Asset Management made a bid to buy 51% of Barnes & Noble for $22 a share or buy 51% of Nook operations for $5 a share, many Wall Street people wondered if the relatively unknown company had the resources to pay the $632 million--even as the stock initially rose 10% on the takeover rumors.

Turns out the skepticism was warranted. Yesterday the Securities and Exchange Commission charged G Asset Management head Michael Glickstein with fraud, saying that the bid was misleading because he didn't have the resources. In addition, before announcing the bid, he had bought thousands of call-option contracts that become valuable when a stock rises--and exercised them after B&N rose, netting $168,000. See Forbes's account for details.

Without admitting guilt, Glickstein is returning $175,000 in gains, paying a $100,000 fine and will be barred from the securities industry for five years. "A man purporting to be Glickstein" told Forbes: "While we view the settlement as our best option and we are not able to admit or deny wrongdoing per the settlement agreement, we would like to comment that the SEC and New York [Attorney General] are human trash and have committed financial crimes against me and my company." He said he was forced to settle because he was threatened with immediate arrest and called the investigation "a witch hunt."

WI11: Book Swap Will Celebrate 'Backlist Favorites'

The American Booksellers Association is inviting attendees at next year's ABA Winter Institute in Denver to participate in the inaugural Backlist Book Swap, which will be held on January 23 following the welcome reception. Bookselling This Week reported that to celebrate the "strong and successful backlist titles that provide consistent sales and success for indie bookstores, the festive forum will give all those at Winter Institute--booksellers, publishers, and guests alike--the chance to share their favorite under-read book with friends and colleagues."

New Harbinger Buys Impact Publishers

New Harbinger Publications has bought the publishing assets of Impact Publishers, which was founded in 1970 by Robert Alberti and Michael Emmons and has published more than 125 titles, mostly in popular and professional psychology. Bestsellers include Your Perfect Right (by Alberti and Emmons), Anger Management for Everyone, Rebuilding, The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook and Get Out of Your Mind and Into Your Life.

"For 45 years, Impact Publications has published the highest quality psychology self-help and professional titles," said Matt McKay, co-founder and publisher of New Harbinger.

"We've watched with admiration over the years as New Harbinger has grown from similar roots--self-published book by a psychologist and colleague--to a very large and very successful publishing enterprise," said Robert Alberti. "Over the years we've often been approached by prospective buyers who found Impact an attractive investment prospect. New Harbinger is the first to offer such a natural blend of topics and markets."

Roald Dahl Funny Prize 'Deceased'; Happy Readers

The Roald Dahl Funny Prize for humorous children's books, which was launched by then U.K. children's laureate Michael Rosen and Book Trust in 2008 and last presented in 2013, has been officially canceled, though a new award may be on the horizon for the U.S.

In an interview with the Bookseller, Luke Kelly, managing director of the Dahl estate, said the prize does not fit in with the estate's plans for next year's centenary celebrations. Instead, the focus will turn to launching a children's book prize in the U.S. "The Roald Dahl Funny Prize has served its purpose brilliantly," he added.

Rosen tweeted: "This is a formal announcement: the Roald Dahl Funny Prize is no more. It is deceased. Gone before. It is a late prize. Not funny any more." And later: "Roald Dahl Prize: I am investigating first the possibility of an annual 'Funny Books Event'... and build from there."


In a related move, all McDonald's in the U.K. will give away booklets featuring excerpts from Roald Dahl books with Happy Meals, according to Electric Lit. The six-week "Happy Readers" event began on Wednesday. Some 14 million booklets have been printed and include titles like Roald Dahl's Extraordinary Friends, Roald Dahl's Fantastic Families and Roald Dahl's Beastly Creatures. Readers who want to devour more booklets can buy additional ones for £1 ($1.52).

The program is a collaboration between the National Literacy Trust, which has done several other reading programs with McDonald's; Penguin Random House; and the Roald Dahl Literary Estate.

Jeremy Tarcher Remembered

In 1980, most people in publishing thought the Consciousness Movement meant waking from a dream and getting out of bed. Words like Human Potential were science fiction terms used by wackos, food allergies weren't real, and alternative health care meant Tylenol rather than aspirin. But on the Sunset Strip in Los Angeles, in cozy offices in the shadow of the Roxy and the Whiskey a Go Go, a small group of young people just beginning their careers in publishing were immersed in a world of new ideas and experiences, working like crazy for a man who was destined to change the face of book publishing forever: Jeremy P. Tarcher.

Jeremy Tarcher

Jeremy had revolutionary ideas about what humans could accomplish, what the brain and mind were capable of, and was on a mission to publish books "those people in New York never would." In Jeremy's offices the record-setting, ground-breaking classic, Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain was an idea being discussed over granola and yogurt. The Aquarian Conspiracy, which was blowing millions of people's minds, was frantically being packed and shipped. We were fresh from college, transplants from New York City (as was Jeremy), the Midwest and Texas, immersed in a world of new ideas and experiences, devoted to this guy who was married to Lamb Chop, the actress Shari Lewis.

We were not sure exactly what was happening but we knew that it was magical. Timothy Leary would run from office to office, cheering us on during the years he wrote his autobiography, Flashbacks. Other charismatic and influential writers who regaled us with their astonishing ideas were shaped and encouraged by Jeremy: Rupert Sheldrake, the renegade British biologist (I'll never forget Jeremy trying to explain Sheldrake's theory of Morphic Resonance: "Breathe, my dear, try to open your mind" he said, his hand on my shoulder, me in tears, as we peered down at my incomprehensible press release), Stephen La Berge and his fascinating Lucid Dreaming ("Step out of your dreams and watch as they happen, redirect them, change the outcome!")

Jeremy taught us countless things, from acquisitions to editing to publication, writing ad copy, flaps, back cover, selling books into stores and promoting them out of stores. Every day was a new crash course in how to stretch ourselves and successfully publish a book. Jeremy believed that anything was possible if you devoted your energy to figuring it out. Anything could be learned and understood.

These were the Tarcher pioneer days: 1980-1985. We were unaware how incredibly fortunate we were to be working for a bona fide visionary! The invaluable knowledge I learned about writers and writing, book publicity and the tedious moments it takes to make a book first readable and then possibly even great--even into a blockbuster bestseller like Women Who Love Too Much (a book Jeremy published because all the women in the office told him he had to publish it)--I learned from Jeremy Tarcher. His voice still resonates daily: every time I write an ad, edit a page of manuscript, write a press release, my mind darts back to the kinds of notes he would put in the margin of my work. Push yourself, he'd say to me when I was in my 20s. Don't be afraid. So what if no one else has ever done it this way before?

Jeremy taught so many of us about taking chances, believing in ourselves, and in going the distance. When he got frustrated in staff meetings, his mantra was: "Why can't I get what I want!?" I used to crack up every time he said that, though he wasn't being funny. One year, egged on by my co-workers, I went to the instant printer and had note pads printed for a holiday gift with the line WHY CAN'T I GET WHAT I WANT? boldly typeset across the top, and Jeremy P. Tarcher typeset on the bottom of the page. We all watched Jeremy open the box. At first he just stared at it with disgust, and then his face broke into that little half-smile we all knew so well. With his blue eyes twinkling and his dimples deep, he said: "Thank you, my dear, I will cherish this."

Here's to Jeremy Tarcher. We will all cherish his memory. --Kim Dower

Kim Dower is the founder of Kim-from-L.A., a literary publicity company, and a poet. Her third collection will be published by Red Hen Press in March 2016.


Image of the Day: Celebrating An Unlikely Story

Last night Abrams celebrated the opening earlier this year of An Unlikely Story in Plainville, Mass., owned by Diary of a Wimpy Kid author Jeff Kinney, with a party in the spectacular new bookstore. Abrams president and CEO Michael Jacobs praised An Unlikely Story as an exceptional example of independent bookselling. Kinney thanked the publisher, saying, "This building wouldn't exist without Abrams's faith in my work." He also acknowledged the many New England booksellers in the crowd--fellow "believers in the book"--and singled out Chris Morrow and Northshire Bookstore, with locations in Manchester Center, Vt., and Saratoga Springs, N.Y. ("We didn't imitate Chris's store but tried to capture the spirit of it, which is warmth.") He noted that An Unlikely Story has already become a center of community for the town, "bringing people together." Special guest Monsignor Daniel Gallagher, who has translated Wimpy Kid into Latin ("the Pope has read Wimpy Kid in Spanish," he noted), consecrated the store, saying, "God bless this place and the people who work here." Celebrating at the party (from l.): New England Independent Booksellers Association executive director Steve Fischer; Jeff Kinney; Judy Crosby, owner of Island Books, Middletown and Newport, R.I.

Incidentally, last Sunday the Today Show ran a piece on Kinney, the store and the resurgence of independents. See it here.

Anne Bernays: 'Real Book Is Almost a Living Thing'

The New York Times today ran the following letter from author Anne Bernays, who was responding to an article about e-book sales slipping:

"It took me three books' worth to realize that reading a book off a plastic tablet is a pain. The 'pages' often turn back or forward by themselves. A tablet has no personality; a real book is almost a living thing.

"I guess that a lot of people feel the same way. This is heartening news."

Bookstore Signs of the Day: Star Line Books

From the Facebook page of Star Line Books, Chattanooga, Tenn.: "Part of being a bookstore manager entails being a sign painter, too. The new sidewalk sign will debut this weekend along with the BOOKS sign painted by Terrence P. Chouinard."

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Andy Weir, Author of The Martian

Sunday on NPR's Weekend All Things Considered: Andy Weir, author of The Martian (Broadway Books, $15, 9780553418026), the basis of the movie opening next week starring Matt Damon.


Sunday on CNN's Fareed Zakaria GPS: Gerald Posner, author of God's Bankers: A History of Money and Power at the Vatican (Simon & Schuster, $20, 9781416576594).


Sunday on OWN's Super Soul Sunday: Jimmy Carter, author of A Full Life: Reflections at Ninety (Simon & Schuster, $28, 9781501115639).


Sunday on Bravo's Watch What Happens Live: Neil Patrick Harris, author of Choose Your Own Autobiography (Three Rivers Press, $16, 9780385347013).

Clancy's Jack Ryan Heads to the Small Screen

Tom Clancy's CIA hero Jack Ryan "is heading to television with a TV series from former Lost duo of co-showrunner Carlton Cuse and writer Graham Roland, Michael Bay's Platinum Dunes, Skydance Media and Paramount TV," reported.

Unlike the movies, the show would not be a direct adaptation of the books, "but a new contemporary take on the character in his prime as a CIA analyst/operative using the novels as source material."

Books & Authors

Awards: Edna Staebler

Lynn Thomson has won the C$10,000 (about US$7,460) Edna Staebler Award for Creative Nonfiction, which "encourages and recognizes Canadian writers for a first or second work of creative nonfiction that includes a Canadian locale and/or significance," for Birding with Yeats: A Memoir. Bruce Gillespie, who was one of the judges, called Birding With Yeats "an exquisitely written first book. Thomson's writing makes you want to read the book as slowly as possible, so as to appreciate fully each finely crafted sentence and keen-eyed detail."

Book Brahmin: Kimberly L. Jones

photo: Sydney Huggins

Kimberly L. Jones is manager at the Pannell Award-winning children's bookstore Little Shop of Stories in Decatur, Ga. Due to her reputation for designing exciting summer camp curricula, she was appointed to serve on an advisory board for a master's degree program at Georgia State University in Creative and Innovative Education. For many years, she taught infant and toddler developmental music at Learning Groove, where she was trained by Eric Litwin, co-creator of the Learning Groove and author of the first four Pete the Cat picture books.

One of the highlights of Winter Institute 10 was Jones's serenade to author John Green, along with fellow booksellers David Shallenberger, Diane Capriola and Sunny Bowles, to the tune of "Wild Thing":
John Green, you make my heart sing...
You make cash registers ring,
Oh, John Green...

On your nightstand now:

I'm about to start Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates. It's one I needed to prepare myself to read, even though I have a deep desire to leap into it. I just finished an ARC of Violent Ends, published by Simon Pulse. Each viewpoint of the group of students affected by a school shooting is told by a different YA author via short stories. I can't wait for the rest of the world to read this collection of perfection.

Favorite book when you were a child:

It was for sure Miss Suzy by Miriam Young. Miss Suzy is a little gray squirrel, who lives happily in her oak-tree home until she is chased away by some mean red squirrels. For a moment, it's really sad. But soon she finds a beautiful dollhouse and meets a band of brave toy soldiers who help her get her home back. I wrote in it, carried it and loved it. It was a hand-me-down from my favorite older cousin. That gift probably helped him become my favorite cousin.

Your top five authors:

Libba Bray is my numero uno, because when I read her books I feel like I'm brainstorming all the awesome things that could happen in the book, and she's writing it all down. Sabaa Tahir is my favorite new voice. She's such a great storyteller in her book and in person. Mac Barnett and Judy Schachner make me laugh and love picture books again, and again, and again. Karen Abbott and her historical sizzlers have become my signature handsell as a bookseller.

Book you've faked reading:

I don't fake that I've read it, but Holes by Louis Sachar is one I handsell a lot, although I've only seen the movie. I hear from those with great taste that it's amazing.

Performing for John Green at WI10: David Shallenberger, Kimberly Jones, Sunny Bowles and Diane Capriola.

Book you're an evangelist for:

Criminal by Terra Elan McVoy is one I want teen girls to read no matter what their taste. If there was ever a book that screamed, "Make good choices!" loud and clear, this is it.

Book you've bought for the cover:

I bought Night Film by Marisha Pessl without reading the back, the first page or any reviews. I saw it, I wanted it, I bought it.

Book you hid from your parents:

Not one. My parents let me know I could read whatever I wanted and come to them with any questions.

Book that changed your life:

Manchild in the Promised Land by Claude Brown was mind blowing for me in high school. I went to an arts school, and for a long time I would only perform monologues from that book. This slightly fictionalized account of Claude Brown's childhood as a streetwise kid trying to survive on the streets of Harlem ripped the face off of my middle-class upbringing.

Favorite line from a book:

"All children, except one, grow up." --Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie

Five books you'll never part with:

These are books I won't even loan to people; I want the one I first held. Manchild in the Promised Land by Claude Brown; Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy by Karen Abbott; The Mostly True Adventures of Homer P. Figg by Rodman Philbrick; Dead Beautiful by Yvonne Woon; and Interrupting Chicken by David Ezra Stein. Even pulling these books off my shelves turns me into Bookzilla.

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

The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt. As each crayon unravels their truth as to why they are quitting, the laughs never end. I wish I could relive the surprise of why over again.

Your favorite thing about being a children's bookseller:

When a child skips into our store, with a great brightness in their eyes, and tells me that a book I suggested to them is their favorite book and they shared it with a friend.

Book Review

Review: Lady Byron and Her Daughters

Lady Byron and Her Daughters by Julia Markus (W.W. Norton, $28.95 hardcover, 9780393082685, October 13, 2015)

Lord Byron's wife of one year, Lady Byron has often been portrayed as a pious and insensitive woman who didn't deserve him. In Lady Byron and Her Daughters, biographer and novelist Julia Markus (Dared and Done) mounts a strong defense of the lady's character and accomplishments.

Markus calls her "a misunderstood yet difficult woman of genius whose main failing was her inability to delve into the darkness of her own nature, though she could understand and condone the darkness in others." Though "genius" seems like an overstatement, Markus draws a convincing portrait of a gifted, well-educated woman, forthright and generous, yet flawed by her headstrong idealism and poor judgment.

She was attracted to Lord Byron's brilliance, beauty and "friendlessness." She later wrote: "I did not pause--there was my error--to enquire why he was friendless." She became "the very good girl determined to save the very bad man." But Byron was beyond reform, driven by shame and anger over his clubfoot, bisexuality and childhood sexual abuse, and fresh from an affair with his half-sister, Augusta, that produced a daughter, Medora. The Byrons had a traumatic marriage, undermined by his relationship with Augusta, swinging between sexual reconciliations and his increasingly violent rages that made Lady Byron question his sanity. After the birth of their daughter, Ada, he told her to leave, and she won a formal separation. Public opinion sided with her at the time, but his version of events eventually won out, in part because Lady Byron never told her story in public.

Independent and wealthy, she became a progressive activist against slavery and for working-class education reform. She gave the brilliant Ada a strict education, founded two schools, supported relatives and helped raise her grandchildren. Many of her personal relationships were difficult and ended in early deaths. Ada had a brief but brilliant mathematical career and a decent marriage, though she accrued extreme gambling debts. Medora reappeared in Lady Byron's life as a sick and impoverished young woman, sexually exploited by her brother-in-law through her teens. Like their father, both Medora and Ada died by age 36.

Lady Byron attempted a memoir, but never finished it. Her grandson wrote a biography based on her papers, but printed only 200 copies. Harriet Beecher Stowe championed her in another book that never got much attention. Markus tells her story with strong feeling and a novelist's skill, and her facts are well documented. Lady Byron may finally have some vindication here. --Sara Catterall

Shelf Talker: Novelist and biographer Julia Markus has written a passionate and well-documented defense of the controversial Lady Byron.

Deeper Understanding

Robert Gray: 'How Pleasant... to Just Work in a Bookstore'

I had to laugh at myself for thinking I could embark on such a venture with no business experience whatever, but it felt like an instinct as powerful as a cow's instinct to eat grass. That is what made me laugh, the certainty that I was at the same time a little crazy, no doubt, and absolutely right that this was the adventure for me, godsent, in fact. Hatfield House: A Bookstore for Women was the name that came to me after dawn. --from May Sarton's novel The Education of Harriet Hatfield

Imagine what it would be like to be a bookseller. People seem to do that... a lot. For those of us who are, or were, booksellers, the fantasy is both understandable and amusing. It tends to lean heavily upon endless hours set aside for reading, book-lined shelves, sleeping cats, and engaging conversations with well-read customers.

Occasionally a reality check will leak to the innocent public via social media or a list ("14 Things Only People Who Have Spent Countless Hours Working In A Bookstore Understand"). Mostly, however, the fantasy thrives.

Those of us who've been in the bookish belly of the beast do understand there is something irresistible about the bookselling life. We succumbed to the siren song ourselves, after all. And it is fun to see the fantasy retain its hold on the public's imagination. After all, does anybody fantasize about opening an e-bookstore? Where would the digital cat sleep?

Sometimes, people get the chance to rehearse a bookselling life:

Indies First: On Small Business Saturday, independent booksellers host authors as honorary booksellers throughout the day to help handsell favorite titles, sign books, give readings and more.

AirBnBookselling: For £150 a week, guests at the Open Book in Wigtown, Scotland, "will be expected to sell books for 40 hours a week while living in the flat above the shop. Given training in bookselling from Wigtown's community of booksellers, they will also have the opportunity to put their 'own stamp' on the store while they're there."

Bookshop-sitter: In Big Stone Gap, Va., Wendy Welch and Jack Beck have put their bookstore, Tales of the Lonesome Pine, in the hands of strangers several times since 2012, when they first sought a bookshop-sitter to fill in while they went on tour for Wendy's book, The Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap: A Memoir of Friendship, Community, and the Uncommon Pleasure of a Good Book.

In a recent article for the Straits Times headlined "Selling books is hard work," Corrie Tan recounted her eight-hour shift at the great Singapore indie, BooksActually: "A warm cat on my lap, my favorite book in hand, a steaming mug of good coffee, on-trend music lingering in the air, the intoxicating smell of new books--this is what I imagined owning a bookstore would feel like. I was certain it would be the most comfortable job ever. I was wrong.

"At the end of an eight-hour shift at independent bookstore BooksActually, my sore feet had turned to lead. I had notched up a score of paper cuts from folding brochures and flyers and opening paper bags. And, surprise, surprise, I didn't get any reading done.... As I limped home, I realized that being a bookseller for a day was like being a sort of literary weatherman, sussing out the mood of the room and reacting accordingly. Sunshine, rain, hail, haze--we were there to create an atmosphere where the written word could be best appreciated and find loving new homes."

As it happens, in 2011 I wrote a column with a similar headline ("Bookselling Is Harder than It Looks"), in which I noted: "They glance up from their reading to watch booksellers shelve a few novels. It's a beautiful, universal and almost ceremonial tableau.... They can't help but consider an alternative: How pleasant it must be to just work in a bookstore....

"Here's just a bit of what those customers nestled in their comfy reading chairs planet-wide don't see because you are doing your jobs so well: today's deliveries stacked up in shipping & receiving; cartloads of as yet unshelved books; sections needing to be culled for returns; returns waiting to be boxed and shipped; staff meetings; internal staff rivalries; scheduling conflicts or sick days that result in overstaffing/understaffing (whichever is the worst one that could happen at this particular moment); ordering to be done; bills to be paid (or strategically delayed); websites and blogs [and social media sites] to be updated; author events to be planned and executed....

"Part of the magic and mystery of bookselling is never letting customers see below the surface.... You chose this profession. If you're one of the best, it also chose you." --Robert Gray, contributing editor (column archives available at Fresh Eyes Now)

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