Shelf Awareness for Monday, September 18, 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


Notes: NEBA Now NEIBA; Pass Christian Books Returns

The New England Booksellers Association is now the New England Independent Booksellers Association, following a vote at NEBA's, er NEIBA's, annual meeting over the weekend. (Coverage begins tomorrow.) NEIBA will be pronounced as NEBA is: nee-ba.


Bookselling This Week has good news about Pass Christian Books, Pass Christian, Miss., which was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina: the store, which has operated online the past year, should reopen in October about five miles north of its former size. The new location will be 720 square feet, about a third of the original store, in a building whose owner is leasing space only to stores damaged by Katrina. Concerning business during the past year, owner Scott Naugle said, "Book clubs were good to us, and former customers still in the area were loyal, and volunteers working here were looking for books on Katrina."


The Austin Statesman tours Follett Intellectual Property, a new store with an unusual name that opens this week on the Drag, next to the University of Texas, where a Barnes & Noble closed several years ago. Follett is working hard to tailor the store to the community. 


Barnes & Noble officially denied a story by Israel National News, mentioned here Friday, that said the company was negotiating to open a franchise operation in Israel. As we stated, it would have been an unusual move for B&N, which has no stores abroad and no franchises.


Borders is paying another quarterly dividend of 10 cents per share on October 25 to shareholders of record as of October 4.


The Washington Post has a sad story about how the violence in Iraq has affected bookstores, particularly those in Baghdad, "a city known for its love affair with books."

Mutanabi Street, the center of bookselling, is "a shadow of its revered past," the paper wrote. "Many of the original booksellers have been forced to shut down. Others have been arrested, kidnapped or killed, or fled Iraq. 'We are walking with our coffins in our hands,' said Mohammad al-Hayawi, the owner of the Renaissance book store, one of the street's oldest shops. 'Nothing in Iraq is guaranteed anymore.' "

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

NAIBA Loads Up With Ideas, New Titles

The New Atlantic Independent Booksellers Association met this weekend at the Valley Forge Convention Center in King of Prussia, Pa., next to the park where another independent-minded group camped out several centuries ago. The event drew hundreds of booksellers who mixed with many authors--including more than two score at the Moveable Dinner Feast--and enjoyed a day of strong educational programming before yesterday's trade show.

The Valley Forge Gun Show, one of the more unlikely groups ever to share a convention center with a booksellers association, provided easy ammunition for many jokes by speakers and attendees. For example, new NAIBA president Joe Drabyak of Chester County Book & Music Co., West Chester, Pa., said at the annual meeting that Barbara Meade and Carla Cohen, the owners of Politics & Prose, Washington, D.C., had been inspired by the gun show to open a second location called Lawyers, Guns & Money. Rejected store names, he continued, included Words & Weaponry and Books, Baristas & Bullets. A new NAIBA affiliate is the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, he added. One wag suggested guns could be "the hot new sideline." Another said the pen might be mightier than the sword but paled next to some of the easily visible M-16s and other assault weapons.

Panels, some of which we will summarize over the next few days, addressed such topics as book clubs, engaging young adult readers, handselling, merchandising and marketing tips from a range of stores in the region as well as information about forming local business alliances (featuring a representative from the American Independent Business Alliance), several ABA sessions and demonstrations of such programs as Constant Contact and Above the Treeline. NAIBA executive director Eileen Dengler said the "education presented here was created for booksellers' needs--it answers their questions. We're very proud of it."

At the annual meeting, NAIBA welcomed three new board members: Jessica Stockton of McNally Robinson Booksellers, New York City, Harvey Finkel of the Clinton Book Shop, Clinton, N.J., and Tim Hepp, a rep for Simon & Schuster.

In a short address, Drabyak asked publishers to "remember that we are an extension of your sales forces. You do a fine job of selling to us . . . . We will sell deep into the season." He pledged to keep on promoting various NAIBA programs such as the trunk shows and NAIBAhood gatherings and the association's participation in the Spoken Word and cooperation with AMIBA, for example. "Even though we're independent booksellers," he said, "we are dependent on one another."

Adele and Sam Herman of Como Sales won the William Helmuth Sales Rep of the Year award. Carla Cohen of Politics & Prose wrote this about Sam: "We always look forward to his visits with us. He represents Workman with such heartfelt concern that we always want to order as many books as will fit into the store. We adore it when he and Adele visit together, a rare but to-be-sought event. She is as light and humorous as Sam is earnest. What a power couple!"

Adele told the NAIBA crowd: "We've had a lot of fun, met some wonderful people and treasure relationships built over the years. It is a true pleasure. I wouldn't do anything else."

Terry Lucas, owner of the Open Book in Westhampton Beach, N.Y., won the NAIBA bookseller of the year award for her essay "declaring my independence." She told the group that her essay "came straight from my heart" but had forgotten to mention the camaraderie among independent booksellers. "I'm astounded at the generosity of spirit, the kindness" of booksellers, she said. "This is a competitive world and we're all so nice to each other," sharing ideas and information.

Jane O'Connor, author of Fancy Nancy (HarperCollins), which won NAIBA's Picture Book of the Year award, told the group that during her bookstore tour with illustrator Robin Preiss Glasser, she was "constantly floored by the energy and sense of fun booksellers would bring to events," which drew many girls who dressed up in a range of outfits.

Libba Bray, whose Rebel Angels (Delacorte) won the NAIBA children's literature award, said that she is "a huge fan of independent booksellers," dating back to her time in high school, when she worked in a store. "They're smarter than the average bear" and have been "instrumental" in helping her reach her dream of becoming a writer. (Her wonderful "Ode to the Independent Bookseller" appears below.)

More Author Oratory

Lisa Scottoline, whose new book is Dirty Blonde, praised booksellers in general and handselling legend Joe Drabyak in particular, saying that the two go back so far that "Joe even fixed me up. He can sell anything--even me!" Scottoline added that she sometimes feels her books are "a little too commercial, with the occasional car chase and lame sex scene--like real life." Still, she continued, she tries to talk about issues of justice, fairness and the penal system in her stories, and independent booksellers attract that the "cultivated, thinking reader" that responds to such work. "Talking about issues is what books and you do so well."

Lamenting that modern society tends to want to learn only facts, not delve into imaginative explorations of life and issues, and doesn't like to read "dark books" that include anything sad, Lisa Tucker, whose new book is Once Upon a Day, praised booksellers for encouraging readers to read fiction and dark books so that readers "take risks" and learn to "look into the heart of people."

Alice McDermott cheerfully told a luncheon crowd that she is "grateful for what you do for those of us who labor in the writer's world. You and I perhaps are involved in a profession that if not dying, is fading from the general culture. Those of us writing literary fiction would be very lonely without you." Speaking about her new book, she said, "If someone asks what After This is about, please tell them it's an antiwar novel."

Touting his John, Paul, George & Ben, Lane Smith said it was "appropriate that I have a goofy history book here. It's so close to a place where families congregate and discuss their own lives and the American dream. I'm talking about the [King of Prussia] mall. That place rocks!"

Traveling Bookman

Our hats are off to bookseller road warrior Oren Teicher, the ABA's COO, who accomplished a neat hat trick over the weekend, spending Friday at NEBA in Providence, R.I., Saturday at NAIBA and flying early Sunday morning to Denver for MPIBA--and an ABA board meeting following that. We used to think it was a feat just to go to three or four regionals over two months.

Harpervia: Behind You Is the Sea by Susan Muaddi Darraj

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Rich's Greatest Story Ever Sold

Today on Imus in the Morning: Frank Rich, the New York Times columnist whose new book is The Greatest Story Ever Sold: The Decline and Fall of Truth from 9/11 to Katrina (Penguin, $25.95, 159420098X).


This morning and tomorrow on the Today Show: William Sylvester Noonan, author of Forever Young: My Friendship with John F. Kennedy, Jr. (Viking, $25.95, 0670038105).


Today on NPR's On Point: Simon Callow, author of Orson Welles: Hello Americans (Viking, $32.95, 0670872563).


Today on WAMU's Diane Rehm Show: Anna Quindlen, author of Rise and Shine: A Novel (Random House, $24.95, 0375502246).


Today on NPR's Talk of the Nation: Max Brooks, author of World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War (Crown, $24.95, 0307346609).


Tonight on Larry King Live: the Food Network's Rachael Ray whose latest book, Rachael Ray's Open House Cookbook: Over 200 Recipes for Easy Entertaining (Lake Isle Press, $17.95, 1891105310), appears in October.

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

Books & Authors

New Tolkien Title Coming Soon

In April, Houghton Mifflin publishes a new book by J.R.R. Tolkien, The Children of Hurin, one of three "great tales" Tolkien worked on during his life. The book has been completed by Tolkien's son Christopher who has acted as editor of much of his father's posthumous work and drew the maps for the original Lord of the Rings. The Children of Hurin has been referred to and extracted in other Tolkien work and has characters and themes familiar to readers of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.

In a statement, Christopher Tolkien said, "It has seemed to me for a long time that there was a good case for presenting my father's long version of the legend of the Children of Hurin as an independent work, between its own covers, with a minimum of editorial presence, and above all in continuous narrative without gaps or interruptions, if this could be done without distortion or invention, despite the unfinished state in which he left some parts of it." J.R.R. Tolkien died in 1973; his last complete posthumously published work was the Silmarillion, which appeared in 1977.

HarperCollins UK bought world rights for the deal; Houghton Mifflin has U.S. rights. The book will be published simultaneously with Harper editions internationally.

Book Sense: May We Recommend

From last week's Book Sense bestseller lists, available at, here are the recommended titles, which are also Book Sense Picks:


The Law of Dreams by Peter Behrens (Steerforth, $24.95, 1586421174). "This novel seems to have burst forth from a vein of genetic memory, so spot-on are the voices of its characters and the mood that is set. Recounting all the tragic details of the Irish diaspora during the Potato Famine of 1847 in language both lyrical and resonant, the book charts one man's desperate course. Poignant and vivid in details, this novel will haunt the imagination of its readers."--Nan Hadden, Books, Etc., Portland, Me.

Bury the Chains: Prophets and Rebels in the Fight to Free an Empire's Slaves by Adam Hochschild (Mariner, $16, 0618619070). "An excellent account of the birth of the antislavery movement in England, profiling in detail several of the key activists, some of whom met at a bookstore and print shop in London, proving once again the critical role bookstores play in their communities. Hochschild brings the players in this real-life drama vividly to life in this immensely readable and engaging account."--Kris Kleindienst, Left Bank Books, Saint Louis, Mo.


The Exquisite by Laird Hunt (Coffee House, $14.95, 1566891876). "A creepy, tangled tale about the escapades of an unbalanced thief in post-9/11 New York City. Beautifully written."--Caleb Wilson, Davis-Kidd Booksellers, Nashville, Tenn.

For Kids of All Ages!

Frankenstein Makes a Sandwich by Adam Rex (Harcourt, $16, 0152057668). "Adam Rex writes lovely and lively poetry about Frankenstein and other familiar monsters. The artwork is delightful, and the poetry is as compelling as the cadence is infectious, for children and adults."--Judy Mathys, Family Book Shop, Deland, Fla.

[Many thanks to Book Sense and the ABA!]


Every Man a King Still Reigns

In Friday's roundup of titles related to the movie version of All the King's Men--which appears this Friday--our information about the availability of Every Man a King, Huey P. Long's autobiography, was wrong. A new edition is now out from Da Capo ($15.95, 9780306806959). Our apologies!

Deeper Understanding

Libba Bray's 'Ode to the Independent Bookseller'

Libba Bray, whose Rebel Angels won NAIBA's children's literature award, read this "Ode to the Independent Bookseller" to a very appreciative audience:

Independent booksellers rock.

They are a cup of black coffee, straight up no chaser, in a half-caf-vanilla-hazelnut-with-whipped cream kind of world.

When you walk up to independent booksellers and say, with deepest apologies, "I'm looking for this new book about the Victorian era and I can't remember the author's name but it has Glass somewhere in the title," they do not roll their eyes and send you to the purgatory of the information desk--that circle of hell not described by Dante. No, they smile and say, "Why, I think you're looking for The Glass Books of the Dream Eaters by Gordon Dahlquist." Because they know everything.

Independents are the Iggy Pop of the book biz--on the edge, a little dangerous, cooler than you will ever think of being, and still alive despite the odds.

Instead of the T-shirts that trumpet, "I do my own stunts," they wear the shirts that say, "I do my own thinking." The badge that says, Hello My Name is Book Lover. The tattoo that reads, I Sell Banned Books--Ask Me How! They rip the gags off intellectual freedom and the silly bras off John Ashcroft's statue of justice.

(Okay, I made that last part up, but if you can actually do that it would be way cool.)

Independents are the personal recommendation. The word of mouth. The informed opinion. The debate. The discourse. The dissent. The punk rockers. The patriots. The hopeful realists and, occasionally, the pie-eyed dreamers, because sometimes we need to be reminded of that. They are the opposite of apathy. The ones who would raise their hands and say, "But . . . about those weapons of mass destruction . . ."

Independent booksellers know not to put People Magazine and industrial-sized tubs of Swedish Fish right next to the counter because that is just lighting the crack pipe and handing it over.

They are the ones who take aside disaffected, snarky seventeen-year-old girls from Texas, and even though that seventeen-year-old girl might be wearing a Devo-inspired, orange jumpsuit and heavy black eyeliner that she thinks makes her look like Chrissie Hynde but really just makes her look like she's been on the losing end of a bar fight, they say nothing but steer her instead toward Douglas Adams and Thomas Pynchon, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance and The Stranger, Woody Allen and Amiri Baraka.

They are the openers of doors. The carnival barkers to exotic, new worlds. The Book Whisperers. They are charming dinner companions, and they always bring good wine.

Being around independent booksellers makes you feel smarter by association.

They are the good guys. They kick it Old School. They are the truthful friend who will say, "Honey, that book makes you look fat."

They are the front porch, the off-ramp, the scenic route, the handshake agreement. Independents understand that books have souls. They can put their ears to the bindings the way children put their ears to shells and hear the beating heart inside. And they treat our books accordingly, handing them off lovingly to others with a passionate appeal: "This one . . . listen . . . "

They do not want an author's soul to be remaindered.

It is not easy to be an independent these days. It is an age of twenty-four-hour sound bites, of product and packaging and a thank-you-drive-through-please marketplace, of "truthiness" and cynicism masquerading as patriotism, of lies and betrayals that challenge the ability to stand fast in independence.

As we sit here in Valley Forge, staring across the glittering forever highways of America to the historic land just beyond, it is a stirring reminder that this was a nation founded by independents. And it feels no less a radical, necessary act to me today to be a champion of books--to champion ideas, to explore the myriad complications of the human heart, to examine the individual not out of context but as part of the larger human story. We have never needed the independent spirit more than we do right now. It is necessary work, and I humbly thank you for it.

Powered by: Xtenit