Shelf Awareness for Thursday, October 12, 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: Sony Reader Review; Mystery of a Pittsburgh Bookstore

Don't shut down the printing presses just yet.

Both the New York Times and Wall Street Journal review the Sony Reader today, giving the e-book device fair grades at best. The Journal called the Reader, which is being introduced to the market this month, "a good start--impressive in some ways, but clearly a work in progress," and recommended "all but hardcore e-book fans to wait for an improved version."

The Times similarly thought the Reader will appeal most to "niche groups," that is "gadget freaks, lawyers with massive document stashes, doctors and pilots who check hefty reference texts, high school students with 35-pound backpacks and anyone who likes to read by the pool for 20 weeks at a time."

Problems include no color, no ability to search or highlight texts, some "fairly baffling" controls (the Times), no video, no links, a blink that occurs whenever a page is "turned" and problems reading PDF documents. Among the good points: an easily readable screen, long battery life and a nice overall design.


The Christian Science Monitor offers an update on and the pros and cons of free textbooks, particularly the Freeload Press model, that rely on ads for revenue. At least one student has adjusted by printing out the textbook and throwing out the pages with ads on them.


The Book Barn is being constructed in the Richland Mall in Pittsburgh, Pa., and already stocks "thousands of used and returned volumes," according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Unfortunately for the potential customers who've inquired, the store is just a movie set--for the film version of Michael Chabon's The Mysteries of Pittsburgh.


Rachel J. K. Grace has joined Unbridled Books as Web marketer and manager. Besides being a blogger ( and publishing articles and book reviews, she has worked as a publishing and editing intern at FC2. She will work in Maryland initially and then from Estonia and is available at 888-READ-UBB (888-732-3822), ext. 111 and via e-mail at

Melani Martinez has joined Unbridled Books as a marketing assistant. Most recently, she was company manager for the National Institute of Flamenco and earlier worked for the Institute as conservatory manager and was a media assistant for Tree New Mexico. She will work from Arizona and is available at 888-READ-UBB (888-732-3822), ext. 113 and via e-mail at

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

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Now in Theaters Everywhere

This morning the Today Show checks out The Dog Dialed 911 by the Smoking Gun (Little, Brown, $15.99, 0316611115).


Today on NPR's Morning Edition: Kenneth Turan, author of Now in Theaters Everywhere (PublicAffairs, $26), 1586483951, which is now in bookstores everywhere.


This morning on Imus in the Morning: Douglas Brinkley, author of The Great Deluge: Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans, and the Mississippi Gulf Coast (Morrow, $29.95, 0061124230). 


Today on KCRW's Bookworm: Chris Kraus, author of Torpor (Semiotext(e)), $14.95, 158435027X). As the show put it: "Chris Kraus takes her aim at the traditional bourgeois novel about marriage and family and delivers a book full of bullet-holes: the death of the novel, the fall of Europe, the end of the family, devastation of the arts. What is left standing? A battle-scarred but indefatigably hopeful I-Love-Lucy-esque Chris Kraus."


Today on NPR's Talk of the Nation: Michael Chorost, author of Rebuilt: My Journey Back to the Hearing World (Houghton Mifflin, $24, 0618378294).


Today on WAMU's Diane Rehm Show: Hampton Sides talks about Blood and Thunder: An Epic of the American West (Doubleday, $26.95, 0385507771).


Today on Fox and Friends: Gloria Estefan, author of her children's book Noelle's Treasure Tale: A New Magically Mysterious Adventure (Rayo, $17.95, 0061126144).


In a well-timed appearance, tonight the Daily Show with Jon Stewart features David Mark, author of Going Dirty: The Art of Negative Campaigning (Rowman & Littlefield, $24.95, 0742545008). 


Tonight on the Colbert Report: Larry Miller, author of Spoiled Rotten America: Outrages of Everyday Life (Regan Books, $25.95, 0060819081).

Harpervia: Behind You Is the Sea by Susan Muaddi Darraj

Book TV This Weekend: John Danforth's Faith and Politics

Book TV airs on C-Span 2 from 8 a.m. Saturday to 8 a.m. Monday and focuses on political and historical books as well as the book industry. The following are highlights for this coming weekend. For more information, go to Book TV's Web site.

Saturday, October 14

12:30 p.m. History on Book TV. During an event at the Embassy of Hungary in Washington, D.C., Charles Gati, a political scientist who fled his native Hungary in 1956 and is now a professor at Johns Hopkins University, talked about his Failed Illusions: Moscow, Washington, Budapest, and the 1956 Hungarian Revolt (Stanford University Press, $24.95, 0804756066). He suggests that the revolution, which took place 50 years ago, could have succeeded if NATO and President Eisenhower had been more decisive.

6 p.m. Encore Booknotes. In a segment that first aired in 1989, when the author was the Washington Post's military correspondent, George Wilson discussed his Mud Soldiers: Life Inside the New American Army, which recounts the periods in 1986 and 1987 that Wilson spent with a group of 200 Army recruits training for combat. He criticized how the all-volunteer military prepares its infantry and offered suggestions for improvement.
9 p.m. After Words. Charles Haynes, senior scholar at the First Amendment Center where he specializes in issues of religious liberty and the role of religion in American life, interviews former Senator, UN ambassador and ordained Episcopal priest John Danforth about his new book, Faith and Politics: How the Moral Values Debate Divides America and How to Move Forward Together (Viking, $24.95, 0670037877), in which he explores ways to bridge the country's partisan divide. (Re-airs Sunday at 6 p.m. and 9 p.m.)

Sunday, October 15

7:15 a.m. Public Lives. In an event held at the Fountain Bookstore in Richmond, Va., Emilie Raymond, a professor at Virginia Commonwealth University, talked about her book From My Cold, Dead Hands: Charlton Heston and American Politics (University Press of Kentucky, $27.95, 0813124085) about the actor's movie career and political activism. She asserts that Heston, who worked for both Democratic and Republican candidates, was a civil rights advocate and served as president of the National Rifle Association, is a "visceral neoconservative."

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

Books & Authors

Awards: National Book Award Finalists

Poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti, co-founder of City Lights Books, San Francisco, announced the finalists of the National Book Awards yesterday at his store; the winners will be named and honored in New York City on November 15. Each winner receives $10,000 and a statue; each finalist receives $1,000 and a medal.

Ferlinghetti told the San Francisco Chronicle that being chosen as the first place on the West Coast to announce the NBA finalists felt like being discovered by Magellan or Lewis and Clark. "Sir Francis Drake sailed right past the Golden Gate because the bay was socked in fog that day," he said. "It's a clear day today, and we've been discovered at last."

Incidentally also on November 15, City Lights will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the publication of Allen Ginsberg's Howl and Other Poems. When the store began selling it, Ferlinghetti and store manager Shigeyoshi Murao were arrested and charged with publishing and distributing "obscene material," leading to the long, famous First Amendment case. (The celebration, including a reading and panel discussion, will be held at the Commonwealth Club. For more information, go to the Club's Web site or call 415-597-6700.)

The NBA finalists:


  • Mark Z. Danielewski for Only Revolutions (Pantheon)
  • Ken Kalfus for A Disorder Peculiar to the Country (Ecco/HarperCollins)
  • Richard Powers for The Echo Maker (FSG)
  • Dana Spiotta for Eat the Document (Scribner/S&S)
  • Jess Walter for The Zero (Judith Regan Books/HarperCollins)
  • Taylor Branch for At Canaan's Edge: America in the King Years, 1965-68 (S&S)
  • Rajiv Chandrasekaran for Imperial Life in the Emerald City: Inside Iraq's Green Zone (Knopf)
  • Timothy Egan for The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl (Houghton Mifflin)
  • Peter Hessler for Oracle Bones: A Journey Between China's Past and Present (HarperCollins)
  • Lawrence Wright for The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11 (Knopf)
  • Louise Glück for Averno (FSG)
  • H.L. Hix for Chromatic (Etruscan Press)
  • Ben Lerner for Angle of Yaw (Copper Canyon Press)
  • Nathaniel Mackey for Splay Anthem (New Directions)
  • James McMichael for Capacity (FSG)
Young People's Literature
  • M.T. Anderson for The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Vol. 1: The Pox Party (Candlewick Press)
  • Martine Leavitt for Keturah and Lord Death (Front Street Books/Boyds Mills Press)
  • Patricia McCormick for Sold (Hyperion Books for Children)
  • Nancy Werlin for The Rules of Survival (Dial/Penguin)
  • Gene Luen Yang for American Born Chinese (First Second/Roaring Brook Press/Holtzbrinck)

Deeper Understanding

NCIBA: Sunny Moment in the Bay Area

For those of you unfamiliar with weather in the Bay Area, the region, San Francisco especially, enjoys only two months of great weather a year. The first bit comes in March, with an amazing false spring. The second comes during September and early October. Anyone asking about summer really needs to visit here during July. Wear short pants and matching windbreakers so we know who you are.

One of those weekends happens to fall during the annual Northern California Independent Booksellers Association trade show, but in spite of that booksellers and publishers by the hundreds crowded the Oakland Convention Center and were treated to a robust program of events and workshops.

Friday was dedicated to education with a series of workshops led by a keynote address by Michael Shuman titled, "10 Arguments Against Local First (And How to Blow Them Out of the Water)."

Saturday started with an especially strong author breakfast featuring Carly Fiorina, the former Hewlett-Packard CEO and author of Tough Choices: A Memoir (Portfolio); Michael Connelly, whose new book is Echo Park (Little, Brown); and Amy Goodman, author of Static: Government Liars, Media Cheerleaders, and People Who Fight Back (Hyperion).

Last year, the talk on the show floor centered on Kepler's closing; this year, it focused on Cody's and A Clean, Well Lighted Place for Books, which brought up a sore subject among members of the Bay Area book community. Concerning book industry coverage, bad news gets the headlines but good news is buried on page 9.  While the closing of the Telegraph Avenue Cody's is sad to all of us, it's also true that Cody's had opened a downtown San Francisco store less than a year before. In the case of A Clean, Well Lighted, yes, the Opera Plaza store closed, generating all kinds of headlines, but Books Inc. soon reopened in the same location and Neal Sofman and his wife, Anna Bullard, opened West Portal Books in another part of San Francisco. By my math, that's a net gain of one store.

This reflects an overall trend Hut Landon, NCIBA's executive director, said he has been noticing: smaller stores, well-connected to their neighborhoods, have been thriving.

Of course, there has to be an exception to every rule and in this case the exception was Tower Records. As was reported earlier this week in this very newsletter, Great American Group outbid Trans World Entertainment Corp. by $500,000 in a deal worth over $134 million. Great American went into the auction stating that its intention was to liquidate Tower's assets as soon as possible while Trans World would have kept elements of Tower going.

That $500,000 difference amounts to about .37% of the deal.

I don't mean to get all Lou Dobbs here, but ARE YOU KIDDING ME?

You know the value that a store like Tower brings to local communities in terms of local jobs, a healthier tax base and local access to musicians and authors and you all know that those factors are worth WAY more than a measly $500,000.

But that's the free market for you.  To paraphrase Bart Simpson, Adam Smith can eat my shorts.

But I digress . . .

Attendance held steady from last year: 600 exhibitor badges were issued for 130 booths, although many booths, especially those of commissioned rep groups, represented several publishers each. There were 600 bookseller badges with 100 associate members and other badges. Landon said he believed that fewer people are coming from each store and publisher, implying that the net number of bookstores and publishers rose compared to last year.

John Gould from Book Travelers West called it was a moderately slow show, busy at times but not steady, with orders down from last year. While Howard Karel and Lise Solomon of the Karel Dutton Group said it was surprisingly busy with a steady stream of booksellers on both days, they, too, found that orders were down overall. By contrast, Doug Mendini from Kensington Publishing said orders were up significantly from last year.

Saturday night's author dinner honored Jennifer Laughran of Books Inc. and Kate Levinson of Point Reyes Bookstore for outstanding book event, and Jeremy Lassen of San Francisco's Borderland Books for outstanding handseller. The first annual Debi Echlin Memorial Award for outstanding community service went to Kathleen Caldwell of Oakland's A Great Good Place for Books.

Judy Wheeler, owner of TownCenter Books and accomplished multitasker, placed several orders at the show, but saved her highest praise for the smoochies from Scharffen Berger, part of the Cookbook Celebration on Sunday that featured tempting treats from The Essence of Chocolate: Recipes from Scharffen Berger Chocolate Makers and Cooking With Fine Chocolate by John Scharffenberger and Robert Steinberg (Hyperion); The Bon Appetit Cookbook by Barbara Fairchild (Wiley); Into the Vietnamese Kitchen by Andrea Nguyen (Ten Speed Press); Starting With Ingredients by Aliza Green (Running Press); and West Coast Cooking by Greg Atkinson (Sasquatch). Booksellers might have praised the event more, but their mouths were full.

One vital aspect of the show that deserves to be noted is the value of community, which, unlike booth and travel costs, is hard to place on a spreadsheet. You could see it on the show floor, at the author dinners and breakfasts and in the area bars; clusters of friends and colleagues catching up, sharing stories and making new acquaintances. It's these conversations that mark the value of the show as much as the orders placed, although Redsides Publishing Services rep George Carroll (sorry, girls, he's off the market) commented on seeing several of his old friends that he really needs to get back to the gym.

Amy Thomas, owner of Pendragon and Pegasus bookstores put it best, "Even though business has never been more difficult, the books are still worth it. It was an honor to spend the weekend with people who seemed to feel that as much as I did. I love our tribe and continue to root for us."--Mark Anderson, the University of California Press

Prairie Pages Opens in Pierre

Vacation led to a vocation for Peggy Stout and Kathy Villa, who opened Prairie Pages bookstore in Pierre, S.D., on September 5.

Stout and Villa were on vacation with their spouses and a group of friends last year when they happened into McLean & Eakin, Booksellers in Petoskey, Mich. They struck up a conversation with the store's owner, who told them about the Bookstore Training and Consulting Group of Paz & Associates. After attending the company's weeklong workshop on the fundamentals of opening a bookstore, "we were very excited," said Stout, and she and Villa set about finding a location.

In May, they settled on an 1,800-sq.-ft. space in an 1884 building in downtown Pierre on the city's main thoroughfare. It's the first general interest bookstore in Pierre, the state's capital, since a Waldenbooks closed two decades ago. Although neither Stout nor Villa has retail experience, they both believe their extensive volunteer work will be an asset in their bookselling roles. "We're very people oriented," said Stout. "I guess you could say service oriented."

Located on the banks of the Missouri River, Pierre draws tourist crowds in the summer and autumn months. The city's 14,000 year-round residents are "a very diverse population," said Stout. "Because it's the state capital, you have people from a lot of different areas." Stout and Villa drew on that diversity to define the store's inventory. "One thing we've really tried to do is involve the community," said Stout, and she and Villa invited 15 people to offer suggestions on books to stock. These participants included a lawyer with the state legislature, the director of the city's hospital foundation, a minister, a librarian and several teachers, who later returned to help shelve books. "It has really become a community bookstore in a lot of ways," Stout added.

The owners have yet to hold their grand opening celebration, but Stout and Villa have not been idle these past weeks. In September, the store hosted several events, including the first of its artist receptions. Each month the work of a different South Dakota artist will be displayed in the store, from pottery to paintings to jewelry, with a get-together held in the artist's honor. Authors Ann Bausum and Jennifer Armstrong, both of whom pen American history books for kids, stopped by Prairie Pages for a signing while attending the South Dakota Festival of Books in Sioux Falls. And when V.J. Smith, executive director of the South Dakota State University Alumni Association, appeared to promote his book The Richest Man in Town--the story of the author's friendship with a Wal-Mart cashier in Brookings, S.D.--the store had its highest sales day yet.

Stout and Villa are looking to partner with organizations such as the South Dakota State Historical Society Press (headquartered in Pierre) which next month will release The Discontented Gopher, marking the first time the L. Frank Baum story has been published as a fully illustrated children's book. They would also like to offer in-store books clubs, and customers have already inquired about starting ones devoted to the works of G. K. Chesterton and Jane Austen.

Prairie Pages is currently holding a four-day open house through Saturday with several local writers in attendance, among them David J. Ode, the author of Dakota Flora: A Seasonal Sampler. An event for the last Lemony Snicket tale, The End, is scheduled for tomorrow.

Stout and Villa run Prairie Pages with the aid of seven part-time employees, and they're hoping that within a couple of years they might be able once again to vacation together. "Once you open a store, though," said Stout, "it's kind of hard to get away."

Prairie Pages is located at 321 S. Pierre Street, Pierre, S.D. 57501; 605-945-1100.--Shannon McKenna

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