Shelf Awareness for Thursday, December 21, 2006

Gallery Books: The Lion Women of Tehran by Marjan Kamali

Other Press (NY): Deliver Me by Malin Persson Giolito, translated by Rachel Willson-Broyles

Two Trees: Among Friends: An Illustrated Oral History of American Book Publishing and Bookselling in the 20th Century edited by Buz Teacher and Janet Bukovinsky Teacher

Atlantic Monthly Press: I Cheerfully Refuse by Leif Enger


Notes: Store Closings; Regan Redux; Book Sense Bestsellers

Dutton's Beverly Hills, which opened two years ago as a branch of the long-established Dutton's Brentwood, is closing at the end of the month, the Los Angeles Times reported. The 8,000-sq.-ft. store was in space owned by the city of Beverly Hills, which had lured owner Doug Dutton with below-market rent.

Despite the reduced rent (we're talking Beverly Hills after all), the store's financial situation was unsustainable, Dutton said. He lamented that the city's current mayor and council members, different from the ones who had wanted him to open, would not change the rent. "The city was completely unwilling to renegotiate," he said. "It was, 'Pay up or go.' "

Dutton emphasized that the store, like many new stores, would likely not make money for five years--and said that he needed to break even on the deal.

This is a second Dutton's store to close recently. Early this year, Dutton's Bookstore in North Hollywood, which sold a mix of new, used and collectible titles and was owned by Davis Dutton, closed (Shelf Awareness, January 12, 2006). That store, founded by Doug and Davis's parents, had no business connection with Dutton's Brentwood or Dutton's Beverly Hills.


The wonderfully named Aliens & Alibis, Columbia, S.C., which specializes in sci-fi, fantasy and mysteries and opened on May Day last year (Shelf Awareness, August 8, 2005), will shut its bricks-and-mortar space at the end of the month. Owners Deb Andolino and her son, Gary McCammon, will continue contacting customers via e-mail and sell books online. McCammon already is working as a pharmacy technician and "loves it," according to his mom.

In an e-mail, Andolino wrote: "The landlord has been more than patient with us, and that has allowed us to be booksellers for several weeks longer than we had planned, but sales did not cover our expenses. We have increased sales in November over October--and we are ahead of total November sales already. But--none of the months came close to the $3,000-plus that we need for operating expenses. In fact, none of the months even covered the $1,350 rent, not to mention the phone bill, the electric bill, etc."

Andolino added that "a lot of good things have happened during our bookstore experience. Among them is meeting a lot of nice people--authors, publishers, customers and other booksellers. As the country song goes: 'I wouldn't have missed it for the world.' "

Aliens & Alibis's first store was in a dying mall. It moved this year (Shelf Awareness, June 11, 2006) to a busier site.


For a wrapup of the latest in the Judith Regan saga and some speculation (at the end of the article) from Shelf Awareness about her future, check out yesterday's USA Today.  


Book Sense is offering a year-end bestseller list in poster form for store displays. Six PDFs can be downloaded and put together to create the full list. There is also a free-standing children's fiction series list.

For the images, click here for PDF or here for the posters in several formats:


In April 2008, Barnes & Noble plans to open a store in Cedar Hill, Tex., near Dallas and Fort Worth. The store will be in the Uptown Village at Cedar Hill. When it opens, the current B&N at 362 East FM 1382 in Cedar Hill will close. The new B&N will stock nearly 200,000 book, music, DVD and magazine titles. 


Neal Porter Books: Angela's Glacier by Jordan Scott, illustrated by Diana Sudyka

Media and Movies

This Weekend on Book TV: Much About The Few

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, December 23

6 p.m. Encore Booknotes. In this segment that first aired in 1993, Richard Norton Smith, director of the Robert J. Dole Institute for Public Service and Public Policy, talked about his Patriarch: George Washington and the New American Nation (Mariner, $16, 0395855128), in which he argued that George Washington was not the figurehead that other historians have portrayed and that Washington's character, not the Constitution, held the country together.

9 p.m. After Words. Jack Pulwers, a reporter during World War II and author of The Press of Battle: The GI Reporter and the American People, interviews Alex Kershaw, author of The Few: The American Knights of the Air Who Risked Everything to Fight in the Battle of Britain (Da Capo, $25, 0306813033), which tells the story of Americans who violated U.S. neutrality and risked losing their citizenship by joining the Royal Air Force in 1940--and helped the British win the Battle of Britain. The book has been named the Military Book Club Editor's Book of the Year, the first time the award has been given. (Re-airs Sunday at 6 p.m. and 9 p.m.)

10 p.m. General Assignment. In an event held at Politics and Prose Bookstore in Washington, D.C., Alice Walker discussed We Are the Ones We Have Been Waiting For: Light in a Time of Darkness (New Press, $23.95, 159558137), her latest collection of essays, which touch on simpler living, war resistance, meditation and feminism, among other subjects. (Re-airs Monday at 7 p.m.)

Sunday, December 24

11 a.m. Public Lives. In another event at Politics and Prose, humorist Art Buchwald talked about his newest book, Too Soon to Say Goodbye (Random House, $17.95, 1400066271), about the period earlier this year when he entered a hospice after being told he had only three weeks to live--and five months later left for home. The book includes eulogies by Tom Brokaw, Ben Bradlee and Mike Wallace. (Re-airs at 5:30 p.m.)

GLOW: Avid Reader Press: The Ministry of Time by Kaliane Bradley

Media Heat: Max Brooks, Zombie Son of Mel

Today on KCRW's Bookworm: Jennifer Egan, author of The Keep (Knopf, $23.95, 1400043921). As the show describes the segment: "Jennifer Egan researched classic Gothic fiction to develop a style that would deepen the terrors at the core of her new novel. The creaking conventions of the haunted-house story are overturned by the author's interest in unsolved mysteries."


Today on the Oprah Winfrey Show: a rebroadcast of the show featuring Marshall Brain, founder of and author of Marshall Brain's How Stuff Works (Wiley, $24.99, 0764565184) and Marshall Brain's MORE How Stuff Works (Wiley, $24.99, 076456711X).


Today on the Megan Mullally Show: Lara Shriftman and Elizabeth Harrison, the authors of Party Confidential (Bulfinch, $29.99, 0821257803), dish about celebrity parties they've thrown and offer tips for holiday soirees.


Tonight on a repeat of the Daily Show with Jon Stewart, Ed Viesturs tackles the subject of his book, co-written with David Roberts, No Shortcuts to the Top: Climbing the World's 14 Highest Peaks (Broadway Books, $23.95, 0767924703).


Tonight the Colbert Report offers a repeat of the show featuring Dr. Francis S. Collins, author of The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief (Free Press, $26, 0743286391). 


Tonight on the Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson: Max Brooks, son of Mel and author of World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War (Crown, $24.95, 0307346609) and The Zombie Survival Guide (Three Rivers Press, $13.95, 1400049628).

Soho Crime: Ash Dark as Night (A Harry Ingram Mystery) by Gary Phillips

Deeper Understanding

Robert Gray: Reading & the 'True Spirit' of the Holidays

They went, the Ghost and Scrooge, across the hall, to a door at the back of the house. It opened before them, and disclosed a long, bare, melancholy room, made barer still by lines of plain deal forms and desks. At one of these a lonely boy was reading near a feeble fire; and Scrooge sat down upon a form, and wept to see his poor forgotten self as he used to be.

I think the idea for this final column of 2006 occurred to me sometime last week at the bookstore, as I gift-wrapped yet another copy of the new CD by controversial singer/songwriter Yusuf Islam (the artist formerly known as Cat Stevens). The ecumenical irony of this particular Christmas present was hard to ignore. Did it signify a coming together of disparate faiths and political ideologies in the true spirit of the season or was it simply consumer obliviousness? I'm still not sure, and I'm afraid to ask.

The search for the "true spirit" of the holiday season is not an easy task, and is perhaps made even more complicated because the reader in me tends to identify with the boy by the feeble fire, while the person whose livelihood depends upon selling books can't help feeling just a little sympathy for old Ebenezer counting out his coins.

As a longtime bookseller, I've grown accustomed to experiencing the holiday season as an ongoing drama of comparing daily sales figures to last year's numbers and obsessing over re-ordering strategies.

This is at once an exhilarating and intimidating time of the year. Some days "bah, humbug" doesn't seem like an overreaction to unpredictable weather, late deliveries or demanding customers. Wise and prescient ghosts of past, present and future seldom visit us with neat, plot twisting solutions to our multilayered dilemmas.

So how do we remember in such times that this mad world we've chosen to live and work in is still primarily about something as simple and complex as putting the right words together so that someone will read them?

When I was a kid, the words "true spirit of Christmas" were wrapped up beautifully in the stories I read and heard, stories from Dickens as well as the nuns at school. These tales reminded urchins like me that the holidays were about more than tinsel and toys, and I suspect I will always feel an emotional tug for young Scrooge reading by the feeble fire as well as Nativity scenes. I'm sure you have your own variations on that theme.

And if you are reading these words, chances are that you read as I read, to sift the world's cacophony into understandable (on good days, at least) measures.

We read to live. We read to find our way in the world. We read this time of year to encounter, if we can, the true spirit of the holiday season. That spirit is not always apparent, nor where you'd think it might be. For example, I found it this week while reading in unexpected places. Why these small gems brought the holiday spirit to me I'm not sure, but somehow reading them mattered:

I read about the Iraqi soccer team (a 20-man squad that includes Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds) winning a Silver Medal at the Asian games in Qatar last weekend.

I read that Beliefnet, a comprehensive Web site exploring a multitude of faiths, named the Amish community of Nickel Mines, Pa., as its Most Inspiring Person of 2006.

I read this in Ralph Waldo Emerson's journal for Christmas day, 1839: "All life is a compromise. We are haunted by an ambition of a celestial greatness and baulked of it by all manner of paltry impediments."  

I found some of the true spirit in this NASA photo of shuttle astronauts dangling precariously in the air high above the big blue marble, "haunted by an ambition of a celestial greatness."

My wish is that you find the true spirit this holiday season, too, wherever you happen to read it.

And so, as Tiny Tim observed, God bless Us, Every One!

The capital letters and the exclamation point belong to that old rascal Mr. Dickens. Feel free to edit and paraphrase to suit your own needs and beliefs.

I wish you great reading in 2007.--Robert Gray (column archives available at Fresh Eyes Now)

The Bestsellers's 2006 Bestsellers

The following were the bestselling books on in 2006:

1. The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown
2. The World Is Flat by Thomas Friedman
3. The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey
4. The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren
5. Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom
6. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
7. Who Moved My Cheese by Spencer Johnson
8. I Feel Bad About My Neck by Nora Ephron
9. How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild and Got a Life by Kaavya Viswanathan
10. Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner

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