Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, January 2, 2008


Simon & Schuster: Race Against Time: A Reporter Reopens the Unsolved Murder Cases of the Civil Rights Era by Jerry Mitchell

Sfi Readerlink Dist: Sesame Street: The Monster at the End of This Book: An Interactive Adventure by Jon Stone, adapted by Autumn B Heath

Minotaur Books: The Woman in the Mirror by Rebecca James

Tor Books: The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune

DK: Free Pack of The Wonders of Nature Wrapping Paper - Click to Sign Up!

Quotation of the Day

Bookstore Life: 'This Place has Depth'

"There's no other job where you can meet the people you can meet here, and be around literature and art all day and discuss that with people. I feel like it's something we don't get enough of in this world. There's a lot of media out there, but there's not a lot of depth. And this place has depth."--Michelle Barron, owner of the Book House, St. Louis, Mo., as quoted in a Post-Dispatch interview. She remains a bookseller, she added, "because I love it. Because I'm insane. I don't know. Because I can't let go."

 


G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers: The Best of Iggy by Annie Barrows, illustrated by Sam Ricks


News

Holiday Sales: General Retail Sags

Despite heavy last-minute purchases, holiday sales rose 3.6% compared to last year, according to MasterCard Spending Pulse. The increase was the lowest in four years and less than many had predicted. Last year sales rose 6.6%, and in 2005 they rose 8%, the New York Times reported.

The causes were no surprise: rising energy prices, tight credit, the subprime mortgage crisis all helped reduce consumer confidence.

Among highlights of general retailing:

Online sales grew 22.4%, according to SpendingPulse, cited by the Wall Street Journal. The jump was much higher than bricks-and-mortar retailers' sales gains but less than online's increases in the last few years.

Some brands considered "indispensable," including Coach, Target, Starbucks and Abercrombie & Fitch, lost some formerly brand-loyal customers this season, according to the Times.

Luxury items were popular but women's clothing and jewelry sales were less than brilliant.

Discounting started early and continued through the season. Some stores had several markdowns on the same items.

More on holiday sales in bookstores in upcoming issues.

 


KidsBuzz for the Week of 10.14.19


Notes: Most Literate City; Al Roker's Pick

In the fifth annual Readers' Bowl, Minneapolis, Minn., reclaimed the title America's Most Literate City for 2007 while Seattle, Wash., fell to the number two spot, according to USA Today. And in what might be seen as a Twin Cities bid for national reading dominance, St. Paul, Minn., sustained its long-term momentum, having "climbed steadily, from 11th place in 2003 to third place this year."

The top 10 overall, as compiled by "researcher Jack Miller, who for five years has been ranking the nation's largest cities based on their support for and commitment to reading":

  1. Minneapolis
  2. Seattle     
  3. St. Paul
  4. Denver
  5. Washington, D.C.
  6. St. Louis
  7. San Francisco     
  8. Atlanta
  9. Pittsburgh
  10. Boston

The top 10 cities in the bookseller category, which ranks for every 10,000 people the number of retail bookstores, number of rare and used bookstores and number of ABA members, are:

  1. Seattle
  2. San Francisco
  3. Minneapolis
  4. Cincinnati
  5. St. Louis
  6. Portland, Ore.
  7. Pittsburgh
  8. St. Paul
  9. Cleveland
  10. Washington, D.C.

A complete list of the rankings is available at America's Most Literate Cities.

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"In order to keep local shops in business, the solution is simple: patronize them," advised the Twin Cities Daily Planet in an article that highlighted local independent bookshops Amazon Bookstore Cooperative and Garrison Keillor's Common Good Books.

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Al Roker has chosen the Sisters Grimm series by Michael Buckley as the next pick of the Today Show Book Club for Kids. The first book in the series is The Fairy-Tale Detectives (Amulet, $5.95, 9780810993228). For more, check out the Today Show website.

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Cool Idea of the Day: RiverRun Bookstore, Portsmouth, N.H., has initiated a program "to raise awareness about the need for affordable housing in the Seacoast, benefiting six local nonprofits addressing the issue," according to Seacoastonline.com.

During 2008, "for two months at a time, RiverRun will feature information about a different local nonprofit agency addressing the issue of housing and those affected by the lack of affordable housing in the region. At the conclusion of each two-month period, the featured organization will also receive two percent of RiverRun's gross earnings. United Way of the Greater Seacoast has partnered with RiverRun to work with the recipients and help spread the word."

Tom Holbrook, RiverRun's owner, said, "We're excited to be working with United Way on this project. Their ability to see the bird's eye view of the community, and their work on finding long-term solutions for the housing issue make it a perfect match."

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Books-A-Million is opening its first store in Pennsylvania, in the Foundry at 439 Washington Road in Washington, Pa. The company said it had decided on opening a store in the southwestern Pennsylvania town "based on its knowledge of this growing market," gained from its new store in nearby Wheeling, W.Va.

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Some Borders stores are being shut this month, including ones in East Brunswick, N.J., and Wayne, N.J. In the case of the 15-year-old East Brunswick store, lease renewal was an issue, according to the New Brunswick Home News Tribune.

Borders is apparently closing some "slower" Borders stores and many of its Waldenbooks outlets.

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The Southtown Star profiled Azizi Books, Matteson, Ill., and owner Kevin Roberts, who said, "Our books are written by, and of interest to the black community. And we stock a good supply of well-known writers as well as some of the lesser-known authors."

Azizi Books held its grand opening last November. "I did market research and demographic studies to help avoid the pitfalls of opening a business," said Roberts. "There are very few African American bookstores in the U.S. And there's also not many independent bookstores in general--the independents have a tough time going up against the large chains." The bookshop's name means "rare," "treasured" or "precious" in Swahili.

Azizi Books is located at 134 Lincoln Mall, Matteson, Ill. 60443; 708-283-9850; azizibooks.com.

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Two bookstores in the Hudson River Valley in New York State are up for sale, according to the Journal News. Scott Meyer wants to sell Merritt Bookstore in Cold Spring, N.Y., the former Salmagundi Books, which he bought in 2004. He also owns bookstores in Millbrook and Red Hook, N.Y. He told the paper that his other stores are integral parts of their communities but it was too difficult to make a third store an integral part of its community.

Also Good Yarns in Hastings-on-Hudson is for sale. Co-owner Chris Kerr, a principal of Parson Weems, the book rep group, told the paper that he can't devote sufficient time to the store. "At best it is a break-even proposition," he commented. "Publishing is in a period of transition--there is a lot of consolidation, the number of books sold is flat. We would have to work in the store ourselves to turn a profit, and at this point in our lives, we just can't do that."

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As noted in the Baltimore Sun, among businesses in Baltimore, Md., that opened on Christmas Day was breathe books, owned by Susan L. Weis, a columnist for Shelf Awareness. Weis told us that more than 50 people came by "to watch Louise Hay's new movie, You Can Heal Your Life, eat Chinese food and just schmooze." She called the annual event "about community." The store donated 20% of sales to charity, the Seva Foundation.

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Will Harry the Eighth inherit the throne? The Daily Mail reported that J.K. Rowling confessed to "'weak moments' when she feels she will pen another novel about the boy wizard," but if she does surrender to temptation in a decade or so, she said she doubts "that Harry would be the central character. I feel I've already told his story."

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An office of one's own? The AP (via KCCI.com) reported that Tanja Shelton, of Sioux Center, Iowa, was fired from her job for writing a romance novel on company time. Shelton, who began working at Sioux Automation in August, attracted the attention of a supervisor who noticed that she was "typing almost constantly." An investigation of her computer revealed "what appeared to be a romance novel with the working title Taylorville. It focused on the summertime activities and desires of a teenage temptress named Taylor."

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Houghton Mifflin Harcourt has made the following appointments in the trade and reference division of the company formed from the purchase of Harcourt by Houghton Mifflin:

  • Bridget Marmion has been named senior v-p of marketing for the division. She joined Houghton Mifflin in 1998 as corporate v-p, director of marketing. Before that she was v-p, director of sales and marketing, at Random House and earlier worked at FSG.
  • Laurie Brown has been named senior v-p for the division. She joined Harcourt in 2002 as senior v-p of sales and marketing and earlier was senior v-p of sales and marketing at FSG.
  • Mia Camacho has been named senior v-p of finance and operations of the division. She joined Houghton Mifflin in 2004 as corporate v-p, director of finance, planning and operations. Earlier she was v-p of trade, finance and systems at Scholastic.

 


GLOW: St. Martin's Press: The Jane Austen Society by Natalie Jenner


Media and Movies

Media Heat: The Geography of Bliss

This morning on the Today Show: Kathleen Squires, author of Real Simple: Cleaning (Time Inc. and Real Simple, $21.95, 9781933821399/1933821396).

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This morning's Book Report, the weekly AM radio book-related show organized by Windows a bookshop, Monroe, La., features two interviews:

  • Thomas Cochran, author of Running the Dogs (FSG, $16, 9780374363604/0374363609)
  • Nancy Pearl, author of Book Crush (Sasquatch, $16.95, 9781570615009/1570615004)

The show airs at 8 a.m. Central Time and can be heard live at thebookreport.net; the archived edition will be posted this afternoon.

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Today on the Diane Rehm Show: Eric Weiner, author of The Geography of Bliss (Twelve, $25.99, 9780446580267/0446580260).

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Today on Ellen, in a repeat: Tom Brokaw, author of Boom!: Voices of the Sixties Personal Reflections on the '60s and Today (Random House, $28.95, 9781400064571/1400064570).

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Tonight on Larry King Live: Suze Orman, author of Women and Money: Owning the Power to Control Your Destiny (Spiegel & Grau, $24.95, 9780385519311/0385519311).

 


G.P. Putnam's Sons: Firewatching by Russ Thomas



Books & Authors

Book Sense: May We Recommend

From last week's Book Sense bestseller lists, available at BookSense.com, here are the recommended titles, which are also Book Sense Picks:

Hardcover

The Middle Place by Kelly Corrigan (Hyperion, $23.95, 9781401303365/1401303366). "I could not put down Kelly Corrigan's memoir of family love and father/daughter relationships. Her family is endearing, and I will be recommending The Middle Place to my customers who are women in their fifties, especially those who are cancer survivors."--Beth Carpenter, The Country Bookshop, Southern Pines, N.C.

Firefly Rain by Richard Dansky (Wizards of the Coast Discoveries, $21.95, 9780786948567/0786948566). "Josh Logan returns to his empty, small-town home after his big-city sojourn ends in failure only to find an unfriendly caretaker, strange neighbors, and a haunted house. But why do some forces try to keep him there, and others push him away? This compelling, Southern Gothic novel proves that you can go home again--but it might kill you (if it doesn't set you free)."--James Tremlett, Schuler Books & Music, Lansing, Mich. (For more on Wizards of the Coast Discoveries--a lot more--see last story below.)

Paperback

They Did It With Love by Kate Morgenroth (Plume, $14, paper, 9780452288973/0452288975). "This story of a murder in a book group is elegantly written, with both sharp psychological portraits and an intriguing mystery that keeps you turning pages without feeling manipulated. Subtle and satisfying, They Did It With Love belongs with the best of the genre."--Carol Feliciano, Brown University Bookstore, Providence, R.I.

For Ages 9 to 12

Candyfloss by Jacqueline Wilson, illustrated by Nick Sharratt (Roaring Brook, $14.95, 9781596432413/1596432411). "Flora Barnes, better known as Floss, is an upbeat British girl who has just learned to cope with her parents' post-divorce setup. Then, her mum and stepfather, Steve, announce they are moving to Australia! Floss has to make a decision: stay with dad, or go with mum? What will she do?"--Sarah Durkin, Kepler's Books & Magazines, Menlo Park, Calif.

[Many thanks to Book Sense and the ABA!]

 


Arcadia Publishing: Stock Your Shelves!


Attainment: New Books Out This Week

Selected new books appearing this week:

Blood Dreams by Kay Hooper (Bantam, $25, 9780553804843/0553804847). Another Bishop/Special Crimes Unit thriller.

The Shooters
by W.E.B. Griffin (Putnam, $26.95, 9780399154409/039915440X). Another in the series starring Delta Force office Charley Castillo.

Bleeding Kansas
by Sara Paretsky (Putnam, $25.95, 9780399154058/0399154051) is a tale about two families with deep roots in Kansas.

People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks (Viking, $25.95, 9780670018215/067001821X) traces the long history of the famed Sarajevo Haggadah.

Comeback: Conservatism That Can Win Again by David Frum (Doubleday, $24.95, 9780385515337/0385515332) is by the former Bush White House speechwriter.

The 12 Second Sequence: Shrink Your Waist in 2 Weeks! by Jorge Cruise (Crown, $25.95, 9780307383310/0307383318) offers a new plan for the New Year.

In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto
by Michael Pollan (Penguin, $21.95, 9781594201455/1594201455) is a book we found full of "excellent advice, superbly served" (Shelf Awareness, December 19, 2007).

The Sweet Potato Queens' Guide to Raising Children for Fun and Profit
by Jill Conner Browne (S&S, $22.95, 9780743278362/0743278364) turns the Queens' patented humor to child-rearing.

 


Grove Press, Black Cat: Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo


Deeper Understanding

Wizards of the Coast's New Year's Resolution: Discoveries

For many years Wizards of the Coast has had a deep backlist, major sales and a phenomenal brand. But it's taken what Phil Athans, managing editor of book publishing at the company, called a "self-limiting" approach to publishing.

"Had J.K. Rowling sent us Harry Potter, we would have passed on it--not because we didn't like it but because we didn't do that," Athans explained in a conversation with Shelf Awareness. "The same for The Da Vinci Code. We did a good job at what we were doing, but we were closing off lots of options."

With the New Year, that approach is changing. After more than two decades of publishing books related to Dungeons & Dragons and the company's shared-world games, Wizards of the Coast's book division is embarking on a new adventure: under the new Wizards of the Coast Discoveries imprint, the company is publishing titles in speculative fiction that are unrelated to its famous gaming properties.

The first titles are:

Firefly Rain by Richard Dansky, which is being published in hardcover and appears this month. Dansky is a novelist and electronic game story creator. The book consists, Athans said, of "creepy, really interesting gothic ghost stories. It's super accessible." (For a rave review, see Book Sense's May We Recommend column above.)

Last Dragon by J.M. McDermott, which "came in as a proposal to me," Athans said. "It's a kind of fantasy novel I've never read before." Last Dragon appears in February.

The Man on the Ceiling, which is by Melanie Tem and Steve Rasnic Tem. First published in chapbook form in 2000, the novella won the Bram Stoker Award, International Horror Guild Award and World Fantasy Award. The horror couple have expanded the loosely autobiographical dual tale, which will be published in March. "This is almost experiential," Athans commented.

Devil's Cape by Rob Rogers, which originally was solicited by former executive editor Peter Asher. When cleaning out his office, Athans found the manuscript, read it, and "was hooked." Devil's Cape appears in April. Discoveries described it this way: "If New Orleans has earned its 'Sin City' nickname for its debauchery, then its nearby sister Devil's Cape has earned its 'Pirate Town' moniker for the violence and blatant corruption that have marred the city since its founding. In Devil's Cape, corruption and heroism walk hand in hand, and justice and mercy are paid for in blood. It is a city like no other."

---

The company plans to publish eight Discoveries titles a year, most of which will be trade paperback originals. "We want to expand that number if we find books we really like," Athans noted. Each title stands alone. "There's no game. You don't need background, and don't need to have 30 books in a series before this," he added.

Discoveries titles will have elements of mystery, fantasy, chick lit, narrative memoir and ghost story and are "difficult to pin down," which has both advantages and disadvantages. The Discoveries list is "a harder sell for a book buyer or sales force," Athans said. But they resemble some of the best SFF. Athans pointed to Michael Crichton, who has "never really written anything but SFF but is never shelved there." Likewise he wants the Discoveries "to find their way out of the genre section."

Athans has lofty goals for Discoveries: "I want to help do to fantasy what Neuromancer [by William Gibson, Ace Books] did for science fiction in the early 1980s. I want something that takes it out of its standard tropes, that revitalizes it, that makes it exciting again."

Amusingly the company first wanted to differentiate the new line from Wizards of the Coast with a separate name and logo. But "someone at our distributor," Random House, said, "'What? Are you nuts?'" Athans remembered. "'Why run away from 25 years of reputation, captured shelf space and many bestsellers?'"

In fact, for more than 20 years, the company has had a "big, consistent" business with a backlist "any publisher would kill for," Athans said. During that time "we created an engine of our own." Some readers of the company's titles like them because of the game connection; others "just like the books for themselves."

Some 90% of the Wizards of the Coast readership is male, so "we have managed to capture the young male readership--from tween up to crusty old 40 year old," Athans said with a smile. "Every day we prove wrong the idea that boys don't read."

The company's new focus has made for some major adjustments for a publisher that is used to hiring authors on a work for hire basis and has owned all rights. As Athans said, "We needed to change how we did business and become a traditional book publisher and do traditional book deals. It's been a learning process for us and our legal team."

"We take pride in 25 years of discovering new talent," Athans said. Now, with the new imprint, that talent doesn't have to go to other SFF publishers to develop and write new material. "We have seen people like R.A. Salvatore, Laurel K. Hamilton and Tanya Huff begin with us, create a career, get their name out there, then migrate to someone else."

Wizards of the Coast is seeking titles in a variety of ways. Wizards of the Coast Discoveries is soliciting online--through February 1. "We get our share of goofy, inappropriate manuscripts," Athans said. But of the first titles Discoveries is publishing, two were discovered this way.

Also the company is looking at its backlist and other titles that might have "faded into the background." Sometimes a new cover or an omnibus edition collecting three titles will be enough to warrant a book's republishing, Athans stated.

"We're in it for the long haul," Athans stressed. "We have a solid base and installed audience and terrific relationships with the big chains and major independents across the country." He added that "independents should be able to embrace books like this" and that some of Discoveries might be suitable for book clubs. For example, he said, "In The Man on the Ceiling, there is lots about truth and lies in families and why lies are better. Readers will find a bit of truth in it."--John Mutter

 


Berkley Books: Happy and You Know It by Laura Hankin


KidsBuzz: Bloomsbury Children's Books:  Spies, Lies, and Disguise: The Daring Tricks and Deeds That Won World War II by Jennifer Swanson, illustrated by Kevin O'Malley
KidsBuzz: Bloomsbury Children's Books: More Than a Princess by E.D. Baker
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