Shelf Awareness for Thursday, November 2, 2006

Holiday House: Ros Demir Is Not the One by Leyla Brittan

HarperAlley: I Shall Never Fall In Love by Hari Conner

W. W. Norton & Company to Sell and Distribute Yale University Press and Harvard University Press

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


Notes: Keillor's Store Opens; Sales Outside Bookstores

William Styron, whose works included Lie Down in Darkness, The Confessions of Nat Turner, Sophie's Choice and Darkness Visible, died yesterday. He was 81. Rest in peace.

Today's New York Times has a long obituary.


Yesterday marked the opening of one of the most widely covered new stores in recent years: Garrison Keillor's Common Good Books in St. Paul, Minn. There were a few minor hiccups, including a shipment of bestsellers that went to a Costco by mistake. The store responded by filling two display tables with some of Keillor's work. Apparently the display was effective: Common Good Books's first customer bought two copies of A Prairie Home Companion Screenplay.

Common Good Books has fewer sections than the average bookstore--Keillor had sci-fi, classics, mysteries and thrillers folded into fiction, the Pioneer Press reported. Given a three-page list of suggested genres, "what he did was slash and burn," said manager Sue Zumberge.

The store features the desk at which Keillor wrote two novels, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune.


The Barnes & Noble that Book Passage hoped to prevent from opening a block away in the Town Center Mall in Corte Madera, Calif. (Shelf Awareness, January 24, 2006), opens Wednesday, November 15, and will stock the usual nearly 200,000 book, music, DVD and magazine titles. When the new B&N opens, the much smaller B&N on Redwood Highway in Greenbrae will close.


Today's New York Times places a feature about the sales of books in non-bookstore retailers on the front page. Among the many examples and observations:

  • A deli in the Bronx, N.Y., has sold more than 4,500 copies of The Arthur Avenue Cookbook by Ann Volkwein and as a result has added a few more titles.
  • Penguin has stressed book sales in rural communities with few bookstores--at places like cattle auctions and farm supply stores. Barbara O'Shea, president of nontrade sales, commented: "There is nobody selling books, so we've gotten these places to sell books."
  • Martin & Osa, a new clothing retailer aimed at consumers aged 25-40, stocks dozens of titles in its four stores and will add "a reading list" of graphic novels, fiction and nonfiction. Arnie Cohen, chief marketing officer, explained: "We try to offer them things that aren't mainstream, more unusual, more unique."
  • "It's a way for the book business to stay alive," Abby Hoffman, v-p of sales and marketing for Chronicle Books, said.
  • "The publisher now has a responsibility to put books in front of more eyeballs," Jack Romanos of Simon & Schuster, stated.

Andrea Rosen, v-p for special markets, at HarperCollins, articulated the effectiveness of books being displayed with related products this way: "You walk into Restoration Hardware and you want the couch and the vase and the nightstand, and then you want the two books that are on the nightstand."

 Treasure Books, Inc.: There's Treasure Inside by Jon Collins-Black

Together with Heather: Bookazine Kids

Together with Heather, Bookazine's new program emphasizing Bookazine Kids and offering the expertise and passion of head children's book buyer Heather Doss, came about because "we realized we had to share her," as Kathleen Willoughby, v-p of marketing and online development, said. "She's an amazing combination of book buyer and children's book evangelist and has changed the way we do things in the short time she's been here."

A Bookazine employee only since April, Doss made "amazing connections" at the regional shows she attended. "We used her great presentation at SIBA as a handout," Willoughby continued, "and we couldn't keep it in stock."

Modeled on the New England Independent Booksellers Association's book doctor program--which makes booksellers with expertise in particular areas available to other NEIBA members who want advice--Together with Heather includes "doctors' hours." Doss will be available 1-4 p.m. on Thursdays to answer any questions from booksellers. Among the "prescriptions" she will be able to offer are reports, a variety of lists, including bestsellers, as well as display and point-of-purchase materials. The company also has dedicated parts of its Web site to children's books and Doss has her own spot that's updated regularly with links to her reviews and other information.

In the spring, in a first for children's books, Bookazine plans to make presentations for booksellers "who want to come into the office here and have Heather go over hot titles for the season," Willoughby said. In addition, the day will likely include a tour of the warehouse, meetings with staff, goody bags, distribution of many ARCs and lunch. The company may hold a similar event in the fall next year, too.

Doss spent nine years managing a Barnes & Noble and then a Waldenbooks store and has been involved with and contributed reviews and other material to the New England Children's Book Association. "I was a general manager but kids were always my specialty in the stores," she said. "I know from my retail background that the best way to get sales up is to get retailers excited about it."

Doss, who called herself "passionate about children's books" and estimated that she reads 80%-85% of the galleys she receives, said that children' books "almost need an individual who's read most of the titles. You can't just read the back of the book and know it. You have to be able to know what age groups a book is for and be able to relate it to other titles in a series." Independents "love getting that information. They ask questions like, 'What have you heard about this new chapter book series?' 'For a child who's devoured Harry Potter, what's next?' " And then there's the most basic one: " 'What're the hot children's books?' "

She noted, too, that if a store doesn't have someone who knows children's books, selling them "can be very tricky." Although a children's section may be much smaller than the adult section, the children's section can have as many subjects as an adult section, "so it's important to know age groups and titles," she continued. And the same holds true for specialty stores. "A mystery store with some children's books won't want every Encyclopedia Brown book."

With Together with Heather, Bookazine aims to reach out "not only to children's booksellers but general booksellers who sell children's books," Ron Rice, sales manager, emphasized. He also said he sees the program as an important way to partner with children's booksellers and said the company may create an advisory council.

Cindy Raiton, v-p of sales, said that Bookazine now has several buyers and salespeople like Heather Doss, which she said helped differentiate the company from "the big guys with telemarketers." This takes us "a step above being a wholesaler."--John Mutter

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Media and Movies

Pssst: All About The Secret

Tonight Larry King Live offers the first part of a two-part series called Beyond Positive Thinking. (Part Two airs November 16.) The series features five of the teachers in the movie The Secret, released earlier this year about the law of attraction and based on Charles F. Haanel's book, The Master Key System (Kallisti, $19.95, 0967851408). The Secret is available only online or via DVDs, mainly at New Age bookstores, where it's been very popular. (Booksellers may order it from Beyond Words; find out more via e-mail.)

Incidentally word is that a book based on the movie, sharing the title The Secret (Beyond Words, $23.95, 1582701709), will be released November 28. Edited and written by the creator of the movie, Rhonda Byrne, the book has "the words and teachings of the 24 featured teachers" in the movie. 

So back to Larry King, who tonight will attract:

  • Bob Proctor, co-author of Spiritual Marketing: A Proven 5-Step Formula for Easily Creating Wealth from the Inside Out, among other titles
  • John Assaraf, author of The Street Kid's Guide to Having It All (Longstreet Press, $21.95, 1563527251)
  • J.Z. Knight, author of A State of Mind: My Story (JZK Publishing, $24.95, 1578730023) and publisher of the Ramtha titles
  • Dr. Michael Beckwith, founder and minister of the Agape International Center of Truth and co-author of How to Change Your Life (HCI, $10.95, 1558746862)
  • Dr. John F. Demartini, founder of the Concourse of Wisdom School of Philosophy of Healing, whose most recent books are The Heart of Love: How to Go Beyond Fantasy to Find True Relationship Fulfillment (Hay House, $14.95, 140191232X) and Count Your Blessings: The Healing Power of Gratitude and Love (Hay House, $14.95, 1401910742)

Media Heat: The Joy of Cooking with Mo'Nique

This morning on the Today Show: Back for an encore is Mireille Guiliano, author of French Women for All Seasons: A Year of Secrets, Recipes, and Pleasure (Knopf, $24.95, 0307265234).

Also on the Today Show this morning: Adriana Trigiani, whose new novel is Home to Big Stone Gap (Random House, $25.95, 1400060087).


Today on Good Morning America: Mo'Nique, comedienne and author of Skinny Cooks Can't Be Trusted (Amistad, $26.95, 0061121053).


Today on the Early Show: James Swanson, whose new historical tome is Lincoln's Assassins: Their Trial and Execution (Morrow, $39.95, 0061237612).


Today on KCRW's Bookworm: Michael Tolkin, author of The Return of the Player (Grove, $24, 0802118011), the sequel to The Player, which Robert Altman made into a striking film. As the show put it, "In this conversation, the subject of the immorality of Hollywood gives way to the subject of the immorality of wealth, which in turn, surprisingly, gives way to the question of whether the soul exists. If the soul does not exist, is there any immorality? Do fictional characters have souls? Gradually we uncover the moral equations underlying Tolkin's universe."


Today WAMU's Diane Rehm Show stirs things up with Ethan Becker, co-author of the 75th anniversary edition of The Joy of Cooking (Scribner, $30, 0743246268).


Today on Fox's Fox and Friends: David Limbaugh, author of Bankrupt: The Intellectual and Moral Bankruptcy of Today's Democratic Party (Regnery, $27.95, 1596980176).

Book TV This Weekend: Ray Kurzweil Live and In Depth

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, November 4

12:30 p.m. Public Lives. At an event hosted by the Houston World Affairs Council, former Secretary of State James A. Baker III, whose new book is Work Hard, Study . . . And Keep Out of Politics!: Adventures and Lessons from an Unexpected Political Life (Putnam, $28.95, 0399153772), discusses his time in the Ford and Reagan administrations and his perspective on the Supreme Court decision concerning the 2000 presidential election. (Re-airs Sunday at 8:15 p.m. and Monday at 7:15 a.m.)

6 p.m. Encore Booknotes. In a previously aired segment, Marc Fisher, a Washington Post staff writer and the Post's bureau chief in Bonn and Berlin from 1989 to 1994, talked about his After the Wall: Germany, the Germans, and the Burdens of History. In the book, he concluded that the country remained divided and that former East Germans saw themselves as second-class citizens.

9 p.m. After Words. Marc Pachter, director of the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery, interviewed Mark Updegrove, a Yahoo executive, former publisher of Newsweek and a Time-man, about Updegrove's Second Acts: Presidential Lives and Legacies After the White House (Lyons Press, $24.95, 1592289428). (Re-airs Sunday at 6 p.m. and 9 p.m.)

Sunday, November 5

12-3 p.m. In Depth: Ray Kurzweil, the author, inventor and futurist whose most recent book is The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology (Penguin, $18, 0143037889). Kurzweil has written extensively on artificial intelligence, and his companies have been pioneers in print, sound and speech recognition technologies. Viewers may ask questions by calling in during the live show or by e-mailing

Deeper Understanding

Robert Gray: Flaunting Regionality on Bookstore Web Sites

During foliage season, so many buses clog Vermont's country roads that you might imagine we had public transportation up here. Alas, no. On the other hand, there is one thing Vermont does have, and that's regionality.

If hospitality, the subject of my last column, is a gracious retail welcome, regionality is an irresistible invitation. And here's rule number one when you find yourself blessed with a high dose of regionality: If you've got it, flaunt it, especially online.

Vermont's raison d'être in the state's post-dairy-farm incarnation is to flaunt its regionality. You can read about it in Vermont Life or Vermont Magazine or even in Archer Mayor's mystery novels. You can buy it in myriad forms and flavors from companies like the Vermont Country Store or Maple Grove Farms or Cabot Creamery or Green Mountain Coffee Roasters. You can even anthropomorphize it or visit its grave. (As Mr. Frost wrote, "The living come with grassy tread/ To read the gravestones on the hill.")

Vermont sells, even online. Bookstores are no exception to that rule. Misty Valley Books, Village Square Booksellers and Northshire Bookstore are among many that have found their own ways of tapping into regionality. Their Web sites say, emphatically, "You're not in Kansas anymore." (Note: If you want to be in Kansas, the KU Bookstores site leaves no doubt as to its regional identity.)

In contemporary America, regionality can be hard to come by on the ground, thanks to shopping malls, strip malls and, more recently, "lifestyle centers" (open malls landscaped to look like quaint village streets, but more closely resembling Hollywood studio back lots).

The Internet, however, makes regionality much easier to depict. Online, for better or worse, we are what we pretend to be. Despite this creative edge, many bookshop Web sites seem to be masquerading as nondescript strip mall storefronts. The bricks and mortar versions of these sites may be unusual and marvelous places, but you'd never guess this when visiting them online.

It doesn't have to be that way. I thought it might be fun this time to invite you aboard my virtual tour bus for a whirlwind visit to a few bookstore Web sites that do flaunt their regionality.

For example, if we cruise the northeastern seacoast, we can visit Harbor Books in Connecticut, Bunch of Grapes Bookstore on Martha's Vineyard, Kennebunk Book Port and Sherman's Books & Stationery in Maine. We can even find our way inland to the River's End Bookstore on the shores of Lake Ontario.

Out west, the Well Red Coyote has a beautiful site that evokes, to put it bluntly, both sense of place and breadth of product line. And how can you not feel at home with the Front Street Books logo featuring a cowboy with his feet resting on a stack of books? The Montana Book & Toy Company also uses graphics and color effectively to regionalize its site.

Consider the stark and startling home page photograph at Iconoclast Books or the effective simplicity of text and image at Plains Trading Company Bookstore.

If we head to Mississippi, we encounter a post-Katrina revival at Pass Christian Books and the quiet southern charm of Square Books. By the way, I've noticed that photographs of bookshop storefronts are ubiquitous online (as are photos of sleeping cats), but the photos that draw me in are those, like Square Books, that give me a sense of the town or neighborhood where the shop is located, rather than an out-of-date shot of its window displays.

Where are you? That is the question.

Does it help to live in a scenic country setting when projecting a bookshop's regionality online? Probably, though Book Soup offers Sunset Strip regionality, Three Lives & Co. offers Greenwich Village regionality, and Urban Think! Bookstore offers downtown Orlando regionality.

And if you have a Web site, you can still regionalize effectively within the template. Witness what's being done by Cook Inlet Book Company in Alaska, Millrace Bookshop in the Gristmill in Connecticut, Riverwalk Books and Liberty Bay Books in Washington, Changing Hands Bookstore in Arizona or Nantucket Bookworks "on the island."

Foliage season is now over in the bricks-and-mortar version of my state, but the illusion of Vermont autumn lingers on, thanks to the online magic of regionality. Unless your bookstore is on Three Mile Island, there is some aspect of your locale that is worth highlighting on the Web to give visitors a sense of your place.--Robert Gray (column archives available at Fresh Eyes Now)

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