Shelf Awareness for Tuesday, January 2, 2007


Del Rey Books: Black Shield Maiden by Willow Smith and Jess Hendel

St. Martin's Press: Lenny Marks Gets Away with Murder by Kerryn Mayne

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

Tommy Nelson: Just in Case You Ever Feel Alone (Just in Case) by Max Lucado, Illustrated by Eve Tharlet

Bramble: The Spellshop by Sarah Beth Durst

Editors' Note

Happy New Year!

We wish everyone an abundant and profitable 2007, but we won't jettison 2006 immediately. Starting tomorrow, after we catch up on new titles and movies coming out this week, we'll look back on highlights and trends of the past year, some of which didn't really stand out until viewed with a little perspective.

During the coming year, we intend to add several features to the newsletter and our Web site as well as continue to be involved in programs and events that help connect booksellers and librarians with books, authors and readers. As ever, we love hearing from our own readers. Keep those e-mails coming.

And if you consider this issue of Shelf Awareness too long, blame it on 13-digit ISBNs, which as of yesterday fully superseded the 10-digit variety.


Harper: Sandwich by Catherine Newman


Quotation of the Day

The Bookstore as 'Insane Asylum'

"Running a bookstore is like running an insane asylum."--George Leibson, owner of Coliseum Books, in a New York Times story about the closing of the store. Leibson went on to explain that part of his job has been to keep employees, who love books, and "the great American public," which sometimes shoplifts or damages books, "from killing each other."


Spiegel & Grau: Tiananmen Square by Lai Wen


News

Notes: Amazon Pricing; Maupin Retires; PL Problems

In the Los Angeles Times, David Streitfeld explores whether any sign of interest from Amazon browsers in less popular titles leads to what might be called adjustments in price.

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On the occasion of her retirement last week, the Rocky Mountain News honored Margaret Maupin, the longtime buyer at the Tattered Cover, Denver, Colo. In the story, Maupin named her favorite authors who can put on a good in-store performance: A.S. Byatt, Martin Amis and Gloria Steinem. "Gloria Steinem was always a great person to have at the store," Maupin said. "Her closing lines were always, 'Now talk among yourselves,' or 'Do something revolutionary.' "

Her favorite writers: Ian McEwan, Kazuo Ishiguro and Charles Dickens. Speaking of Dickens, she said, "He has so many marvelous plots that all come together in the end. He knows how to wind up a book."

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Today the Wall Street Journal and New York Times both check out difficulties at public libraries. In the Times's case, the focus is on the problem of "rowdy students," often middle schoolers with nowhere else to go after school. In Maplewood, N.J., their behavior has led the Maplewood Memorial Library to begin closing its two buildings twice a week in the afternoon beginning on January 16.

For its part, the Journal noted that public libraries might face a staffing squeeze as baby boomer librarians near retirement and higher salaries in research, law and digital libraries and high-tech businesses draw younger librarians.

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Books in Nooks, which served rural Julian, Calif., for two years (Shelf Awareness, October 20, 2005), has closed. "A small population and a less-than-ideal location definitely impacted the bottom line," owner Melony Vance said. She noted that Dorsa O'Dell, widow of Scott O'Dell, author of Island of the Blue Dolphins, early on outlined the store's hurdles. When she and a friend came into Books in Nooks the first week it was open, O'Dell said, "There are only five readers in all of Julian and two of them are here now."

Vance is staying in the bookselling game: she will now manage Latitude 33 Bookshop in Laguna Beach, Calif. She may be reached at booksinnooks@earthlink.net.

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Yesterday's New York Times took a voyage of discovery on the subject of literary-themed book cruises, which include author appearances, reading groups and more. "People tend to read a lot on cruises, and the profile of a typical Ship Lit cruise customer--older and female--is an especially good match for romance, health and fitness books," the paper noted.

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Maria de Jesus-Forero has joined Bookworld as national account manager, Spanish. She had been Random House's manager of national accounts since 1999, and earlier was a translator-copy editor and a marketing coordinator.

The distributor, which already serves several hundred Spanish-language booksellers, intends to double the number and become "the nation's preeminent Spanish distributor alongside our English business," president Ronald Ted Smith said in a statement.


GLOW: Tundra Books: We Are Definitely Human by X. Fang


Bankruptcy: Latest Chapter in AMS Saga is 11

Advanced Marketing Services, which endured financial scandal for the past three years, hit a new low when it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Friday. The catalyst for the filing was the decision by the company's major creditor not to extend its most recent loan beyond last Thursday.

AMS's traditional business has been acting as a wholesaler for warehouse clubs. Among other things, it owns distributor PGW and offers wholesaling, distribution and marketing services. The bankruptcy filing does not affect AMS subsidiaries in the U.K., Australia and Mexico.

Pending bankruptcy court approval, AMS has obtained $75 million in debtor-in-possession financing from Wells Fargo Foothill. This should provide "sufficient liquidity to meet the company's ongoing operating needs during the proceeding," AMS said. The company continues to pursue "strategic alternatives," which could include selling the company or refinancing.

In response to the news, shares of AMS, which were once traded on the New York Stock Exchange but were delisted and now trade on the pink sheets in the OTC market, dropped 81% to 50 cents from $2.60.

AMS defaulted on the loan by "failing to file timely audited financial statements," according to the San Diego Union-Tribune. "The company's auditors have not completed the audit of AMS's financial statements for fiscal 2004, 2003 or 2002, nor has AMS filed any annual or quarterly reports for fiscal 2004, 2005, 2006 or 2007."

Three former AMS executives have been convicted for fraud in connection with exaggerating profits and fraud related to the company's advertising.

The Union-Tribune reported that in the bankruptcy filing, AMS listed both assets and debts of more than $100 million. Its biggest unsecured creditor is Random House, which has a claim of $43.3 million. Last year, the company estimated it would have fiscal 2007 sales of between $700 and $750 million.


William Morrow & Company: Lula Dean's Little Library of Banned Books by Kirsten Miller


New Age News: Sacred Paths, breathe books

The San Mateo County Times gently profiled Sacred Paths Bookstore in San Mateo, Calif., founded by Susie Ughe and Nancy Connolly, which opened last year (Shelf Awareness, September 14, 2005)

In the story, Ughe described Sacred Paths as "a safe place" for customers to make spiritual searches. "They don't have to change their religion, they don't have to be different. It doesn't have to stop them from going to church."

In November, some 44% of Americans bought religious and spiritual items, including devotional books, sacred texts, jewelry and greeting cards, according to a Baylor University Religion Survey quoted by the paper. Of the 44%, 16% "claim no religious affiliation."

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The current Baltimore Jewish Times has a cover story about Susan L. Weis, proprietress of breathe books, Baltimore, Md., who continues to be "perhaps the most energetic, enthusiastic new bookseller" in the business, as we put it more than a year ago (Shelf Awareness, September 27, 2005).

The Times notes that Weis aims to expand her already extensive schedule of classes, workshops, meetings, meditation gatherings and more with "retreats and events outside of the area, such as a tour of sacred sites in Great Britain next June, and she doesn't rule out the possibility of opening other breathe stores in the future. She also is considering buying a house on the Greek island of Santorini as a retreat center where 'I'll provide the teachers--for angels workshops, chakra workshops, stuff like that.' "

Talking about the store, she commented: "It feels like a dream. I knew that people wanted to learn and delve deeper into who they are. I can't believe how many awesome, amazing people come into my store every day. It's like the bookstore is my living room. I've never done anything so amazing. The store is me."

Weis strongly recommended six books:

  • Ask And It Is Given by Esther and Jerry Hicks (Hay House)
  • How to Be Happy All the Time by Paramhansa Yogananda (Crystal Clarity)
  • Meditate: Happiness Lies Within You by Swami Muktananda (Siddha Yoga)
  • After the Ecstasy, the Laundry: How the Heart Grows Wise on the Spiritual Path by Jack Kornfield (Bantam)
  • The Wisdom of Yoga by Stephen Cope (Bantam)
  • Life After Death: The Burden of Proof by Deepak Chopra (Harmony)

 


Harper Celebrate: Why Do We Stay?: How My Toxic Relationship Can Help You Find Freedom by Stephanie Quayle, with Keith W. Campbell


Holiday Sales: Gift Cards, Online Hot; Bookstores Solid

During the holiday period, general retail sales rose but because of unseasonably warm weather in many parts of the country--which cut down on winter clothing buying--and deep discounting that began on Black Friday, the gains were not extraordinary. The hottest products included a range of electronics, video games--and gift cards.

In fact, holiday gift card purchases were estimated to be between $30 billion and $40 billion, according to the International Council of Shopping Centers, and most of those cards are expected to be redeemed in the five-week period that started the day after Christmas.

Another bright spot was online. Sales by online retailers rose 26% to $23.11 billion, according to estimates by comScore Networks, as reported by the AP. Strikingly the biggest gains came later in December--online sales the week before Christmas rose 38% to $2.25 billion, an indication that customers' trust in online stores to ship purchases in a timely manner is increasing.

The busiest Web sites measured by dollar sales were, in order, Amazon, Dell, Yahoo and Wal-Mart. Sites with substantial sales gains were the virtual extension of large chains Wal-Mart, Best Buy and Circuit City.

The fastest-growing online gift categories were jewelry and watches, video games and consoles and event tickets, surpassing consumer electronics, toys and apparel. Online sales this year should top $100 billion.

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Scattered reports from booksellers were largely positive.

November was disappointing for Jim Orbaugh, owner of the Corner Bookstore, Sandpoint, Idaho, but then momentum shifted. "It was a good December and one of my better Christmases," Orbaugh told the Bonner County Daily Bee. Children's fantasy and the Harry Potter titles were popular gifts. The new-and-used bookseller also had a 20% sale on new books, which boosted sales.

Despite some powerful storms in the region in November, Imprint Bookstore, Port Townsend, Wash., reported sales comparable to last year. Owner Judy Hartman told the Peninsula Daily News, "It seems at least as good, or maybe a tiny bit better, than last year."

Although special orders decreased, sales during the Christmas season at the Bookloft, Great Barrington, Mass., were the highest ever, owner Eric Wilska told the Berkshire Eagle. Traffic in the store was "extremely busy." Wilska said his customers like "social discourse."

Last week, gift card sales set new records at the Barnes & Noble in the Oglethorpe Mall, Savannah, Ga., according to the Savannah Morning News. Manager Jill Rivers said the store had had "a great season."

And at Fireside Books, Palmer, Alaska, gift card sales rose about 50%, owner David Cheezem told the Frontiersman. Overall sales at the five-year-old store were the highest ever. "We're on a growing curve," Cheezem said. "We've been growing every year."

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Windows a bookshop, Monroe, La., had a roller coaster year that will likely end up 6% but includes a December that was down as much as 20%, according to co-owner Elisabeth Grant-Gibson. October and November were comparable to 2005.

The holiday catalogue produced by SIBA and Ingram was "very good for us," Grant-Gibson continued. The store inserted the catalogue into the local paper in mid-October, and through Christmas "we had people coming in with marked catalogues and coupons." The catalogue also drew customers from outlying areas and led to the sale of "quite a few expensive books that we would never have stocked at all."

But overall the season started slowly and sales the last two days before Christmas dropped 60% compared to the same two days the previous year. Grant-Gibson attributed the drop to the final two days in 2006 being a Saturday and Sunday rather than a Friday and Saturday, as in 2005.

Hot books at Windows a bookshop included:

  • Legend of Papa Noel: A Cajun Christmas Story by Terri Dunham, illustrated by Laura Knorr
  • Before I Go by Riley Weston (the store's "huge sales" of this novel occurred in part because of the author's visit to four area high schools and because of the re-broadcast of Christmas at Water's Edge, a TV movie she wrote and performed in)
  • Miss American Pie: A Diary by Margaret Sartor (more than 1,050 sold and still moving)
  • Mercy of Thin Air by Ronlyn Domingue (which is selling in both hardcover and paperback)
  • The Encyclopedia of Cajun and Creole Cuisine by Chef John Folse (the store sold 60 copies of this 10-lb. coffee table book that came out several years ago and retails for $49.95)
  • Deep South Parties and Deep South Staples by Robert St. John
  • Mary by Janis Cooke Newman (the historical novel about Mary Todd Lincoln)

Hot sidelines were the Stuffed Penguin from Melissa & Doug and a range of Christmas CDs, including New Orleans Christmas (various artists, Putumayo), Wintersong by Sarah McLachlan, Cool Yule by Bette Midler, Christmas Celebration with Celtic Woman, Christmas Songs by Diana Krall, A Christmas Album by James Taylor and Christmas Around the World (various artists, Putumayo)
 



Media and Movies

Media Heat: Shaping Up in the New Year

This morning on the Today Show:

LL Cool J takes center stage with LL Cool J's Platinum Workout: Sculpt Your Best Body Ever with Hollywood's Fittest Star (Rodale, $27.95, 9781594866081). The rapper and author's lineup includes appearances today on the View and Late Night with Conan O'Brien.

Heidi Skolnik inspires New Year's resolutions with The Reverse Diet: Lose 20, 50, 100 Pounds or More by Eating Dinner for Breakfast and Breakfast for Dinner (Wiley, $24.95, 9780470052297).

Mariel Hemingway shares tips from Mariel Hemingway's Healthy Living from the Inside Out: Every Woman's Guide to Real Beauty, Renewed Energy, and a Radiant Life (HarperSanFrancisco, $26.95, 9780060890391).

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Today on NPR's Morning Edition: Calvin Trillin, author of About Alice (Random House, $14.95, 9781400066155).

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Today WAMU's Diane Rehm Show re-airs a segment with Jonathan D. Moreno, author of Mind Wars: Brain Research and National Defense (Dana Press, $23.95 9781932594164).


Movies: Freedom Writers, Thr3e, Happily N'Ever After

Opening this Friday is the inspiring tale, Freedom Writers: Their Story, Their Words, directed and written by Richard LaGravenese and starring Hilary Swank as Erin Gruwell, the teacher who encouraged her Long Beach, Calif., students to keep a joint diary of their inner-city upbringings. The results were collected into a book, The Freedom Writers Diary: How a Teacher and 150 Teens Used Writing to Change Themselves and the World Around Them, which has a tie-in edition (Broadway Books, $13.95, 9780767924900). 

Inspired by Anne Frank and Zlata Filipovic (who wrote of her life in Sarajevo during the civil war), the project has led to a range of happy endings: all 150 students involved in the Diary graduated from high school and the Freedom Writers Foundation continues to spread the word about the project and how others can emulate it.

Next Tuesday is the official pub date of Gruwell's new book, Teach With Your Heart: Lessons I Learned from the Freedom Writers (Broadway Books, $22.95, 9780767915830), which includes an account of the group's visit to Auschwitz, Anne Frank's Amsterdam home and Bosnia.

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Thr3e opens in three days. Directed by Robby Henson and written by Alan B. McElroy and Ted Dekker, the movie is based on Dekker's novel of the same name (WestBow Press, $7.99, 9781595543417). The studio describes the movie in these two sentences: "When a young seminary student is targeted by a psychopathic killer, he joins forces with a criminal psychologist whose brother was murdered by the same madman. Together, they must unravel the killer's riddles and catch him before he strikes again, but the closer they get, the more twisted the path becomes."

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Also opening on Friday: Happily N'Ever After, an animated retelling of the tale of Cinderella. From the producer of Shrek and Shrek 2, Happily N'Ever After stars Sigourney Weaver, George Carlin, Wallace Shawn and Sarah Michelle Gellar as Cinderella. Directed by Paul J. Bolger, written by Robert Moreland.

 


Books & Authors

Attainment: New Books Out This Week

Selected titles whose laydown dates are today or yesterday:

The Sweet Potato Queens' First Big-Ass Novel: Stuff We Didn't Actually Do, but Could Have, and May Yet by Jill Conner Browne with Karin Gillespie (S&S, $22.95, 9780743278270). The first big-ass fictional addition to the Sweet Potato Queens franchise.

The Cat Who Had 60 Whiskers by Lilian Jackson Braun (Putnam, $23.95, 9780399153907). 60 Whiskers is Number 29 in the The Cat Who series.

The Hunters by W.E.B. Griffin (Putnam, $26.95, 9780399153792). This third in the Presidential Agent series picks up where The Hostage left off.

Sliver of Truth: A Novel by Lisa Unger (Crown, $23, 9780307338464). Suspense from the author of Beautiful Lies.

The Proper Care and Feeding of Marriage
by Dr. Laura Schlessinger (HarperCollins, $25.95, 9780061142840). More marital prescriptions from Schlessinger, whose The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands has been devoured by millions.

The Girl in the Cellar by Allan Hall and Michael Leidig (HarperCollins, $24.95, 9780061345104). The story of Natascha Kampusch, the Austrian girl who was kidnapped when she was 10 and escaped last August after being held in a basement cell for eight years.

Now out in paperback:

Point Blank by Catherine Coulter (Jove, $7.99, 9780515141689).


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