Shelf Awareness for Monday, January 7, 2008

Ballantine Books: Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir

St. Martin's Press: Madam by Phoebe Wynne

Avid Reader Press / Simon & Schuster: Animal by Lisa Taddeo

Soho Crime: Lady Joker, Volume 1 by Kaoru Takamura, translated by Allison Markin Powell and Marie Iida

Rodale Books: Get Good with Money: Ten Simple Steps to Becoming Financially Whole by Tiffany Aliche

Beach Lane Books: Try It!: How Frieda Caplan Changed the Way We Eat by Mara Rockliff, illustrated by Giselle Potter

Counterpoint LLC: The Elephant of Belfast by S Kirk Walsh

Shadow Mountain: Real by Carol Cujec and Peyton Goddard

Quotation of the Day

Baghdad Booksellers: 'What Matters Is that They're Here'

"Dusty books lie on flattened cardboard boxes on a sidewalk buried in litter and building debris. Their vendors hunch their shoulders and sip hot black tea to fend off the cold. What matters is that they're here."--From an AP report on the revival of the Mutanabi Street book market in Baghdad less than a year after a car bomb "ripped the market apart, killing at least 38 people and wounding more than 100."


Sourcebooks Casablanca: The Girl with Stars in Her Eyes by Xio Axelrod


Nantucket Store--and Building--Find Buyers

Mary Jennings and Lucretia Voigt have bought Mitchell's Book Corner on Nantucket Island, Mass., the Nantucket Independent reported. Mimi Beman, who has owned and operated the store since 1978, will continue to work with the store during the transition.

"This is an incredible opportunity for Lucretia and me," Jennings told the paper. "Books are our passion, and to have a chance to build on such a successful and beloved bookstore is a dream come true. Mimi has created something really special, and we intend to be good stewards of this business."

Voigt, who has owned Brant Point Books, a used bookstore in Nantucket, commented: "Mitchell's Book Corner is a Nantucket landmark. We feel a special responsibility to Mimi and the community to build on what has been established here. Nantucket is a place that loves books, ideas and learning. We are proud to be a part of this community and to contribute to the special character of this town."

At the same time, Wendy Schmidt, president of the Schmidt Family Foundation, has bought the building in which the bookstore is located from Beman and becomes the landlord. The building had been put on the market for $4.5 million in November, according to the Nantucket Inquirer and Mirror.

Schmidt lauded the store for being a vibrant local business and contributing to the community. She added that she intends to make renovations to the building and improve its energy use so that it will be "a model for green renovations in an historic district."

The store was founded by Henry "Mitch" Mitchell and Mary Allen Havemeyer, Beman's parents, in 1968.


GLOW: Greystone Books: Seed to Dust: Life, Nature, and a Country Garden by Marc Hamer

Willis Ships Out from B&T; Eugster New Chairman

Richard Willis has resigned as chairman and CEO of Baker & Taylor and intends, he said in a statement, "to spend more time with my family."

Jack W. Eugster, a B&T board member, has become chairman. Eugster is the former chairman, CEO and president of Musicland, which had several divisions that sold books along with other media, including Media Play and On Cue.

Arnie Wight continues as president of B&T.

Richard Willis is a principal of Willis Stein, the private equity firm that bought Baker & Taylor in 2003 and sold most of it last year to Castle Harlan, another private equity firm (Shelf Awareness, May 11, 2006).

Gary B. Appel, vice chairman of Castle Harlan, praised Willis for adding "significant value to Baker & Taylor over the years. He has shepherded the company through a tremendous period of growth." B&T has nearly doubled sales to more than $2 billion during the past four years.


Berkley Books: The Social Graces by Renée Rosen

Notes: Beat the Bookstore Buffeted; Store Closings, Openings

Beat the Bookstore, the bookstore chain that buys and sells used textbooks and has approximately 25 stores near college campuses, is having problems close to home, according to the Daily Utah Chronicle, which is the student newspaper at the University of Utah.

Two Salt Lake City Beat the Bookstores, which has headquarters in West Valley City, Utah, closed suddenly in the past several months and left some students owed credits. The stores were near the University of Utah and Salt Lake Community College.

In addition, David Monk, co-founder and president of Beat the Bookstore, will resign in February, the paper said.


M Coy Books, Seattle, Wash., will close at "the end of February," according to the Seattle Times. In an open letter to friends and customers, owners Michael Brasky and Michael Coy wrote, "The economic struggle of keeping a small independent bookstore afloat in today's retail environment has become virtually impossible. For the first sixteen years of our business, we were blessed with an exceptional landlord, who made it possible for us to weather some incredibly tough times. Times change and our new landlord has different priorities."

According to Coy, "This is a business of musical chairs--and they just keep pulling them away. There are just fewer jobs [in the publishing industry] every time you turn around."


Bookbug children's bookstore, Kalamazoo, Mich., will open next month, but Family Talk Magazine got a head start by interviewing co-owners Nicole Butz and Joanna Parzakonis.

"There's a certain segment of society, and this is supported by market research, which is looking to get away from the mall and the big box experience," said Butz. "They want a place where you get to go and feel like you're part of a community, where the people are going to know what your kid has read, what they like to read and can make meaningful suggestions about what they might enjoy next. I've never gotten that with a large bookstore chain."

The store plans to downplay commercially-licensed character books. "For my own children, I try to limit their exposure to the commercialistic aspects of stories," Butz noted. "Just as I choose good literature for myself, I try to choose that for my kids. It's something I feel fairly strongly about, and I think a business like this is an extension of yourself and should reflect your values."

Bookbug is located at Oakwood Plaza, Oakland & Whites Road, Kalamazoo, Mich. 49008;


Nominees for the Romantic Times Career Achievement and Reviewers' Choice Awards have been selected and are available online. Winners will be announced in the June issue of the magazine, just before the 25th annual Booklovers Convention, to be held April 16-20 in Pittsburgh, Pa. Winners will be honored at a luncheon there on Friday, April 18.


Michael Kesend, president of Michael Kesend Publishing for more than 20 years, died on December 18 of cancer.

Michael Kesend Publishing emphasized literary and general nonfiction, including such titles as Sleep Has His House by Anna Kavan, The Care of the Wild, Feathered and Furred by Mae Hickman and The Essential Guide to Hiking in the United States by Charles Cook.

Franklin Dennis, book publicist, remembered Kesend as "an ever-inquisitive and very cosmopolitan person and publisher. Before starting his publishing business, he lived in Greece, traveling widely in the Middle East. The range of books he published reflected his openness to and curiosity about the world at large. He published his passions."

Bruce Miller of Miller Trade Book Marketing wrote: "I remember having lunch with Michael at an Italian restaurant in Manhattan during which he described the unpleasantness and bare-knuckle tactics employed by ambitious people in the real estate business and what a pleasure it was to leave that realm with enough money to start publishing books. I gave him a rather long short story I had written because it was set in New York City and I valued his opinion. He actually read it and liked it. He was a warm person, but he was also someone who would tell you what he really thought."


William Sheluck, Jr., a member of Barnes & Noble's board of directors since the company's IPO in 1993, died on December 29. B&N's lead independent director, he served on the audit committee and was co-chair of the corporate governance and nominating committee. He was a retired president and CEO of Nationar, a chartered private commercial bank. B&N said that it has made no decision yet about a replacement for Sheluck.


Karen Adler has joined Independent Publishers Group as educational sales representative and manages IPG's sales into the educational market, including catalog companies, classroom sales organizations, school supply accounts and educational wholesalers. Earlier she was a buyer for Scholastic Book Fairs and Books Are Fun and was an elementary school teacher and assistant principal.


One World: My Broken Language: A Memoir by Quiara Alegría Hudes

Post-Holiday Hum: Grafton, Ghosts, and Great Joy

Final holiday sales tallies ran the gamut at several of the stores Shelf Awareness profiled throughout the holiday season.

At Moravian Book Shop in Bethlehem, Pa., "we had a lot of traffic, but people were spending less," said head buyer Susan Fisher. As a result, the store saw a slight decrease in sales for the month of December. "We feel good about what we did," Fisher added--this included an ambitious lineup of author signings and holiday-themed festivities. "If we didn't have those events sales would probably have been down even more." Leading the way as gift selections this season were Bethlehem Ghosts: Historical Hauntings In and Around Pennsylvania's Christmas City and other titles with a local slant.

Subterranean Books in St. Louis, Mo., also experienced a small dip in sales. Traffic increased in mid-December, but the bulk of customers waited until closer to Christmas to make purchases for the bibliophiles on their lists. "It seemed that almost everyone came in the Saturday before Christmas and on Christmas Eve," owner Kelly von Plonski noted. The store's bestselling tomes included the perennial favorite Holidays on Ice: Stories by David Sedaris and the recently-published This Is Your Brain on Music: The Science of a Human Obsession, The Daring Book for Girls and The Latke Who Couldn't Stop Screaming: A Christmas Story, which sold out near the beginning of Hanukkah and could not be replenished due to low publisher stock.

Mysteries and thrillers were on gift-giving lists aplenty. Murder by the Book in Houston, Tex., had its most prosperous December yet, reported assistant manager David Thompson. Strong sales--boosted by a signing with T Is for Trespass scribe Sue Grafton--continued after the holidays thanks to the store's annual used books sale. "We have a lot of customers who come to visit relatives in Houston, and they come in the week after Christmas," said Thompson. "The used books sale brings in people who want a bargain or to use a gift certificate."

The Three Snow Bears by Jan Brett and Great Joy by Kate DiCamillo helped lead the way to a 28% upturn in sales at the Yellow Book Road in La Mesa, Calif. "People were in very good spirits this year," said owner Kristin Baranski, who noted that customers were appreciative of the additional discount the store offered on holiday titles. "We usually give a 20% discount on all books for teachers," she added. "This year we gave a 25% discount on all holiday books for all customers." Sales continued through the post-holiday week with teachers coming in to shop for school.  

Two bookstore owners attribute dramatic sales increases at their respective stores to significant changes they made. This is Inkling Bookshop's second year in its new locale in a heavily-trafficked shopping center in Yakima, Wash., a move owner Susan Richmond credits with much of the 71% increase in December sales. "I am now a firm believer in getting the best location you can find," she said. Along with the store's bestselling title, The Cinnamon Bear in the Adventure of the Silver Star, and sideline item, Personality Buttons by Jane Jenni, a jump in sales came from Book Sense gift cards, which were up 31%.  

At Fiction Addiction in Greenville, S.C., owner Jill Hendrix reported a 55% increase over December sales last year, led by her strategies of promoting the shop as a gift-buying destination--which included participating in the SIBA holiday catalog program--as well as hosting the store's first signing in its six-year history, for The Boathouse: Tales and Recipes from a Southern Kitchen. Sales slowed right after Christmas but picked up when children returned to school last week. "We had a holiday season that exceeded my wildest expectations," said Hendrix, "and I hope that sales will continue strongly into 2008."--Shannon McKenna Schmidt


Media and Movies

Media Heat: Philip Pullman on Charlie Rose

This morning on the Today Show:

  • Jodi Lipper, author of How to Eat Like a Hot Chick: Eat What You Love, Love How You Feel (Collins, $13.95, 9780061560866/0061560863).
  • Michele Weiner Davis, author of The Sex-Starved Wife: What to Do When He's Lost Desire (S&S, $25, 9780743266260/0743266269)
  • Richard M. Cohen, author of Strong at the Broken Places: Voices of Illness, a Chorus of Hope (Harper, $24.95, 9780060763114/0060763116)

Today on the Early Show: Dr. Dean Ornish, author of The Spectrum: A Scientifically Proven Program to Feel Better, Live Longer, Lose Weight, and Gain Health (Ballantine, $27, 9780345496300/0345496302).


Today on the Diane Rehm Show: Jonathan Schell, author of The Seventh Decade: The New Shape of Nuclear Danger (Metropolitan Books, $24, 9780805081299/0805081291).


Today on Dr. Phil: Travis L. Stork, author of Don't Be That Girl: A Guide to Finding the Confident, Rational Girl Within (Simon Spotlight Entertainment, $19.95, 9781416949084/1416949089).


Today on the View: Bob Berkowitz, author of He's Just Not Up for It Anymore (Morrow, $24.95, 9780061192036/0061192031).


Today on Talk of the Nation: Edward Ugel, author of Money for Nothing: One Man's Journey Through the Dark Side of Lottery Millions (Collins, $24.95, 9780061284175/0061284173).


Tonight on Charlie Rose: former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, whose new book is Memo to the President Elect: How We Can Restore America's Reputation and Leadership (Harper, $26.95, 9780061351808/0061351806).

Also on Charlie Rose: Philip Pullman, author of the His Dark Materials trilogy.



Books & Authors

Book Sense: May We Recommend

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


The Painter of Battles
by Arturo Perez-Reverte (Random House, $25, 9781400065981/1400065984). "This is a moving, powerful story of war, art, and love. Faulques, a war photographer who has spent many years capturing the faces of war on film, retires to a small coastal village in Spain and moves into a watchtower where he begins painting a mural around the inside of the tower. I read this book slowly to savor each phrase and absorb the painting Perez-Reverte put into words."--Sue Richardson, Maine Coast Book Shop, Damariscotta, Me.

Beginner's Greek by James Collins (Little, Brown, $23.99, 9780316021555/0316021555). "This is the best boy-meets-girl, boy-loses-girl novel I've read in ages. The writing is fantastic, and the characters are truly engaging. Beginner's Greek rivals Jane Austen for an intelligent romantic read."--Lisa Sharp, Nightbird Books, Fayetteville, Ark.


The Collaborator of Bethlehem by Matt Beynon Rees (Mariner, $13.95, 9780618959655/0618959653). "A story of cultural and political turmoil as schoolteacher Omar Yussef attempts to prove one of his former students is innocent of the killing of a leader of the Palestine Martyrs' Brigade. Omar must consider the threat to his own life and the safety of his family as he pursues the truth he seeks to expose."--Laura Hansen, Bookin' It, Little Falls, Minn.

For Teen Readers

68 Knots by Michael Robert Evans (Tanglewood Press, $15.95, 9781933718149/1933718145). "Eight teenage sailors on a leadership-skills cruise get more than they signed up for when their captain commits suicide and the counselors jump ship. Their idyllic summer on Maine's waters becomes quite a learning experience! Pirate raids, parties, and power plays mean interesting consequences for the teens on the Dreadnought."--Sue Carita, The Toadstool Bookshop, Milford, N.H.

[Many thanks to Book Sense and the ABA!]


ABFFE's Book of the Month: Freedom for the Thought That We Hate

The American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression has chosen Freedom for the Thought That We Hate: A Biography of the First Amendment by Anthony Lewis (Basic Books, $25, 9780465039173/0465039170) as the ABFFE Book of the Month for January.

"For more than 50 years, Anthony Lewis has been one of this country's most eloquent defenders of civil liberties," ABFFE president Chris Finan commented. "His new book is an important contribution to our understanding of free speech."

In the book, Lewis, former New York Times columnist and author of Gideon's Trumpet, among other titles, traces the history of the First Amendment and the evolution of the right of free expression.


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