Shelf Awareness for Tuesday, December 5, 2006

Sourcebooks Landmark: Long After We Are Gone by Terah Shelton Harris

Delacorte Press: Last One to Die by Cynthia Murphy

Margaret Ferguson Books: Not a Smiley Guy by Polly Horvath, Illustrated by Boris Kulikov

Indiana University Press: The Grim Reader: A Pharmacist's Guide to Putting Your Characters in Peril by Miffie Seideman

Hell's Hundred: Blood Like Mine by Stuart Neville

Spiegel & Grau: Tiananmen Square by Lai Wen

Tor Books: The Daughters' War (Blacktongue) by Christopher Buehlman


Princeton Shuffle: Micawber to Close; Labyrinth to Transfer

Einstein would be proud of this equation.

In a major reshuffling in book retailing in Princeton, N.J., Micawber Books is selling its business to Princeton University and will close in March; next fall, Labyrinth Books, which has scholarly stores near Columbia University and Yale University, will open a store called Labyrinth Books at Princeton, which will be near but not in Micawber's location downtown; and the U-Store, Princeton's coop, will phase out its book business by next fall, leaving book retailing to Labyrinth, and will open a satellite store selling apparel next to Labyrinth. The changes were reported in today's Daily Princetonian.

"We're extremely pleased to come to this agreement, so that now we can pursue other dreams and interests," Micawber co-owner Logan Fox said at a press conference yesterday concerning the changes. "This ensures the presence of a scholarly bookstore on Nassau Street for years to come." Micawber has been in business 25 years.

Princeton president Shirley Tilghman said, "It is virtually impossible to be a world-class university without a world-class, scholarly bookstore. We're so lucky to have had Micawber, which is beloved by so many on the faculty. We have depended on them [to provide] the intellectual community that we seek." She also welcomed Labyrinth, saying, "I can't imagine a better successor to Micawber."

The new Labyrinth, which at 7,000 square feet is larger than its branches in New York City and New Haven, Conn., will stock 70,000 scholarly and general books and have an "extensive" children's book section. It will also handle textbook sales for the university.

"We are very fortunate to come to a school that's bucking the trend of bringing in chain stores," Clifford Simms, Labyrinth president, said. "We aspire to perpetuate a culture of reading. We want to become a part of the fabric of this community."

A U-Store board member said the store did not have as much book expertise as Labyrinth, and a Princeton administrator indicated that the U-Store would now "focus on being the best student department store at any college or university." Besides apparel, it will continue to sell supplies and dorm furnishings and operate its pharmacy service and the U-2 convenience store. U-Store president Jim Sykes said that "probably six to 10" of the store's more than 60 full-time employees will be affected.

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers: Roswell Johnson Saves the World! (Roswell Johnson #1) by Chris Colfer

Notes: Recognitions and Recommendations

Calling it "a touching story of friendship--and just about as close to perfection as a reader can get," Costco book buyer Pennie Clark Ianniciello has chosen Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See (Random House, $13.95, 0812968069) as her December book pick. She has highlighted the title in the current issue of Costco Connection, which goes to many of the warehouse club's members.

Unusually Ianniciello spent more space on the writer than her book, saying, "Every now and then I come across someone who is so talented in so many ways that I can't help but feel a bit envious. Author Lisa See is that kind of person. Not only has she designed a walking tour of Los Angeles' Chinatown, created a museum exhibit and written the words to an opera, she is also skilled in writing across genres."


Terri Schmitz, owner of the Children's Book Shop in Brookline, Mass., was recently recognized on the fifth anniversary of collecting books for Reach Out and Read, the national literacy program that aims to make reading and books a part of pediatric care.

Customers either bring used books to the store or purchase new books, which are given to medical clinics in underprivileged areas in metropolitan Boston. Because of Children's Book Shop's contributions, thousands of books have been given to children who otherwise would not have books in their homes.


Congratulations to Koen-Levy Book Wholesalers, which last week quietly celebrated a year since it took its first order as a successor to Koen Book Distributors. In a note, senior sales and marketing manager Jim DiMiero said, "While we've retained the old Koen flavor, we are continuing to make new and great strides as one of the best book wholesalers in the business." The company has "hit our sales forecasts," and added, "Thanks to all of our customers for your loyal support."


Next September Barnes & Noble plans to open a store in the Shoppes at Chino Hills at Grand Avenue and Peyton Drive in Chino Hills, Calif., near Los Angeles. The store will stock close to 200,000 book, music, DVD and magazine titles. 


Harper: Sandwich by Catherine Newman

Holiday Hum: Seeking Wisdom at the Bookworm of Edwards

So far the title of the season at the Bookworm of Edwards in Edwards, Colo.--a 750-sq.-ft. store near the Vail and Beaver Creek ski resorts--is The Intellectual Devotional: Revive Your Mind, Complete Your Education, and Roam Confidently with the Cultured Class by David Kidder and Noah Oppenheim. The book consists of 365 daily doses of wisdom drawn from seven fields of knowledge: history, literature, philosophy, mathematics and science, religion, fine arts and music.

"It's a wonderful gift book for people of all ages, anywhere from 15 to 95," said Nicole Magistro, who owns the Bookworm with Neda Jansen. "It's perfect for those people for whom you just don't know what to get." Magistro is handselling the title, and customers often purchase multiple copies. "Yesterday I sold 10 copies to two people," said Magistro, who is hoping she can keep the Rodale book in stock through the holiday season. (The title is on back order with a third printing apparently scheduled.)

"For us the hand sell is the most important thing, and I think that's why The Intellectual Devotional is doing so well," said Magistro.

Some customers, of course, come in looking for big books like "the new Patterson," and she anticipates some sales from books like For One More Day by Mitch Albom and French Women for All Seasons: A Year of Secrets, Recipes and Pleasure by Mireille Guiliano, but generally national bestsellers "don't sell that much for us. People can get those everywhere." The store's customers tend to "want something different, and we feel really comfortable with that."

Children's book sales "are enormous for us at Christmas," Magistro said. Robert Sabuda's pop-up books are perennial favorites, and this season Magistro cited the author's recently published The 12 Days of Christmas Anniversary Edition: A Pop-up Celebration as a likely customer favorite. Boxed sets of classics by Dr. Seuss and Little House on the Prairie books are also popular choices. "The Night Before Christmas is usually the top-selling Christmas book," Magistro said, surpassing even The Polar Express and How the Grinch Stole Christmas.

Along with traditional sidelines such as bookmarks, journals, calendars and children's puzzles and games, the store sells Veritas Chocolatier's confections, made with all-natural ingredients and on prominent display. The store began selling the chocolates over the summer and has since tripled stock.

An emphasis on target marketing has proven to be a boon for business. Earlier this year, customers who had not shopped at the store for six months received a handwritten note. And in an effort to increase business-to-business orders, 500 cards were sent to local businesses in October to encourage bulk ordering for seasonal client and employee gifts. "Vail is very fortunate in that we have a strong independent business community," said Magistro. "We try to support one another."

The direct marketing effort has resulted in "a good increase, especially for our pre-holiday sales," Magistro said. The campaign also included schools, and "a lot of teachers have increased their orders with us," she added. Bulk b-to-b orders included a Christmas CD by a local musician and The Snowflake: Winter's Secret Beauty by Kenneth G. Libbrecht.

On December 9, the store is hosting an author signing with the Snowboard Outreach Society. The event will take place at a restaurant in Beaver Creek and feature Danny Martin, the author of No-Fall Snowboarding, and Jim Smith, the author of Art of Snowboarding. "It's the first on-mountain event we've done," Magistro said, and it's a way to bring the store to the attention of potential holiday shoppers--visitors who might not necessarily be planning to venture beyond the confines of the resort.

The Bookworm receives "a decent amount of tourist traffic," noted Magistro, but the store's clientele is primarily year-round residents and second-home owners who spend three or more months a year in the area. "We have a very consistent group of readers," said Magistro. Many of these readers have been avidly awaiting the release of Philippa Gregory's The Boleyn Inheritance (on sale today), which Magistro expects to sell not only through the holiday season but well into the New Year.

Historical fiction is one of the store's strongest categories, and Gregory's The Other Boleyn Girl is the bestselling title in the Bookworm's history. Gregory has visited the store twice in recent years and has garnered such a following that she's the store's top selling author. "She beats out everyone," said Magistro, "even J.K. Rowling."--Shannon McKenna

Spiegel & Grau: Tiananmen Square by Lai Wen

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Money, Food, Faith, Culture

This morning on the Today Show for those watching TV: James J. Cramer offers advice from Jim Cramer's Mad Money: Watch TV, Get Rich (S&S, $25, 1416537902).

Also on the Today Show: Mark Bittman, author of How to Cook Everything: Simple Recipes for Great Food (Wiley, $35, 0028610105), who will do a cooking demo.


This morning on the Early Show: Bill O'Reilly with more of Culture Warrior (Broadway, $26, 0767920929).

Also on the Early Show: Food Network franchise Rachael Ray.


Today on the Martha Stewart Show: Rob Kaufelt, owner of Murray's Cheese Shop in New York City and author of The Murray's Cheese Handbook: A Guide to More Than 300 of the World's Best Cheeses (Broadway, $12.95, 0767921305).


Today on the View: Jenny McCarthy, actress and author of Life Laughs: The Naked Truth about Motherhood, Marriage, and Moving On (Dutton, $23.95, 052594947X) and Belly Laughs: The Naked Truth about Pregnancy and Childbirth (Da Capo, $12.95, 0738210072).


Tonight on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart: John Danforth, Episcopal priest, former senator and author of Faith and Politics: How The 'Moral Values' Debate Divides America and How to Move Forward Together (Viking, $24.95, 0670037877).


Tonight on the Colbert Report: Stephen Levitt, co-author of Freakonomics (Morrow, $25.95, 006073132X).

Books & Authors

Mandahla: The Apron Book, Talking With My Mouth Full

The Apron Book: Making, Wearing, and Sharing a Bit of Cloth and Comfort by EllynAnne Geisel (Andrews McMeel, $16.95, 0740761811, September 2006)
"Wearing an apron is just good sense . . . It's your armor against the splatter. It's your oven mitt, ingredient gatherer, jar opener, dishrag, counter wiper, window defogger and smoke swatter." EllynAnne Geisel's cheery book pays tribute to the homey aprons of our grandmothers, the fancier ones moms used for company, holiday aprons, housework aprons, barbecue aprons and others. For a later generation of women, "the apron was a relic of values and a lifestyle that no longer applied," and many of those women tossed the garments out. But aprons have made a comeback, along with sewing and crafting, and women who hadn't saved family aprons are now combing thrift stores for them.
The author describes in great detail how to construct an apron, assuming that the reader is a rank amateur, even explaining what "right side up" means for fabric. This is not overkill for people new to sewing or those with a sad sewing history (the bib apron pattern enclosed with the book brought back memories of home ec class humiliations, although apron-making was snap compared to zipper installation). Spread throughout the book is a feature called "Every Apron Tells a Story," with people's reminiscences about and photos of beloved aprons, including a paean to ironing that almost makes you want to sprinkle clothes again. One woman's story about her father's barbecue apron includes his sauce recipe; another's features Coke and Cherry Jell-O Salad. Harold Sasaki remembers his grandmother, whose apron was her purse: "She wore it all the time. It was quite plain, full-length, with crossed straps in the back and front pockets, which always held Bull Durham tobacco, cigarette paper, and matches. She rolled her own cigarettes, so her fingers were stained brown from the tobacco--not exactly a ladylike image, but she smoked like a lady, taking tiny puffs of her cigarette." Jean Rather's grandmother ran a country store in Texas and carried penny candies in her apron pockets to give to laborers' children.
Filled with recipes, household hints, patterns and above all, a multitude of charming aprons, this is a book that warms the heart and kindles memories. The Apron Book also has one of the sunniest, prettiest covers around, and in the dark days of winter deserves to be displayed in the kitchen for its healing properties alone.
Talking with My Mouth Full: Crab Cakes, Bundt Cakes, and Other Kitchen Stories by Bonny Wolf (St. Martin's, $24.95, 031235357X, October 31, 2006)
Bonny Wolf is an apron fan and can't go into the kitchen without hers, saying that for her, wearing an apron has always been empowering; the secondary dictionary definition is "protective shield," and she feels incomplete without donning hers. Like EllynAnne Geisel, she has a cherry Jell-O recipe, but it's a dessert made with red wine. Her chapter on this jiggly food highlights her witty style: "There's no way of knowing how long the Jell-O renaissance will hold its shape. Like all culinary trends, it may dissolve at any time. It will, however, probably come back. Whether it's nouveau or retro, there's always room for Jell-O."
After carefully collecting recipes in a binder, then stashing recipes in between the covers, Wolf had to move the entire collection to a bag. Deciding finally to sift through the bag, organizing and culling, she "found the story of [her] life," and a rich, friend- and family-filled life it is. It's also, in a way, the story of American food--German, Mexican, Hungarian, Chinese, Italian and all the amalgams that make up our culinary heritage. Every chapter has at least one recipe--Oven-Roasted Ratatouille, Real Texas Chili, Stephanie's Fried Chicken (a two-apron affair), Ann's Chocolate Sauce--that will have you amending your shopping list. And every chapter is a delectable mini-memoir, with opinions: "New Jersey is perfect in at least one way. You can get breakfast all day almost anywhere . . . for me, the required ingredients are bacon, eggs, and starch." A woman after my own heart, and stomach.
The chapter on family recipes makes you realize what has been lost with the profusion of cookbooks today--the treasured few cookbooks of mom and grandma were filled with notes in the margins and additional recipes written in cherished penmanship, in the days when one or two cookbooks was all that was needed. In "An Ode to Toast," it's gratifying to read that M.F.K Fisher was fond of milk toast (toasted bread in a bowl with warm milk, butter, salt and pepper), which my grandmother prescribed for any out-of-sortedness. Wolf says, "There is an innocence and purity about toast that you turn to in times of need. You smell toast and you feel better. Let it snow. Let it get dark at 4:30. You're in a warm house, wearing fuzzy slippers and a warm nightgown, and you're making toast. If you're really lucky, you have a shaker filled with cinnamon and sugar." A recipe for contentment: toast, butter, a soft apron, strong coffee, maybe a warm cat--and this satisfying book for a companion.--Marilyn Dahl

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