Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, January 9, 2008


Bloomsbury YA: Dreamland (YA Edition): The True Tale of America's Opiate Epidemic by Sam Quinones

Balzer & Bray: The Best At It by Maulik Pancholy

Rick Riordan Presents: Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky (Tristan Strong #1) by Kwame Mbalia

Magination Press: Trans+: Love, Sex, Romance, and Being You by Kathryn Gonzales and Karen Rayne

Sourcebooks Explore: Survivors of the Holocaust: True Stories of Six Extraordinary Children by Kath Shackleton, illustrated by Zane Wittingham

Central Avenue Publishing: Into Captivity They Will Go by Noah Milligan

Carolrhoda Books: A Time Traveler's Theory of Relativity by Nicole Valentine

News

Notes: Brent Backed; Graphic Novels Club; Canadian Cringe

The "going out of business" signs in the windows of Brent Books & Cards during December may have been premature, according to Crain's Chicago Business, which reported that owner Adam Brent's Christmas season took a turn for the better when "a customer offered to become an investor and provide enough money to pay back rent and turn the store around."

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To illustrate the growth in popularity of comic books, the Kansas City Star focuses on one local high school's Graphic Novels Club, which has doubled membership in less than four years.

This semester, the club will host a speaker from a comic book store, attend a graphic novels convention, pick out more graphic novels for the school's library during a trip to Borders and give presentations on different graphic novel styles, authors and series.

Karen Lieffring, a senior, said: "There is so much variety in graphic novels. You have books with action, fighting robots to flowery romance ones that feature the girls with the big googly eyes. It's like any other section of the bookstore."

(Check out the last story in this issue for information about two somewhat similar reading groups geared for middle schoolers and younger students.)

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The trend toward lower prices on books imported into Canada from the U.S. because of the weak U.S. dollar is dragging down prices on Canadian titles and reverberating through the Canadian book industry, the Globe and Mail reported. A case in point: Raincoast Books's decision to suspend its Canadian publishing program, close its Ontario warehouse and let 20 employees go.

Noting that companies like his--branches of international publishers--are "better able to withstand the coming storm" than independent Canadian publishers, Brad Martin, president and CEO of Random House Canada, told the paper: "Clearly Raincoast looked at the situation and decided it was time to batten down the hatches because it's going to be a gutted-out year." He predicted difficulty for most publishers, distributors and booksellers, particularly independents, in Canada in 2008.

He continued: "Pricing has come down 25 to 30 per cent minimum on books [imported from the U.S.], not necessarily on all formats, but certainly across the board. . . . If you're a bookstore that did $100,000 in U.S.-distributed books . . . in 2006, that's going to be $75,000 in '08; it may be less, it may be $60,000."

In addition, many Canadian titles are being priced $2-$4 less than they would otherwise.

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One of the booksellers currently visiting the Beijing Book Fair (Shelf Awareness, December 17, 2007), Karl Pohrt, founder and owner of Shaman Drum, Ann Arbor, Mich., is delivering a speech on the Challenges and Opportunities Facing Booksellers in a Post Literate World. Here is a copy of the speech, courtesy of Three Percent, a blog about international literature at the University of Rochester. The speech is difficult to excerpt--just read the whole thing!

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Now you film him.

The latest book chosen by Sharp Independent at HarperCollins--the partnership of the publisher and film producer created last October--to be made into a film is Now You See Him by Eli Gottlieb, a February Morrow title.

A Book Sense pick, Now You See Him "looks at the aftereffects of a murder committed by a celebrated writer that draws the probing lights of the national media to his hometown," as Harper described it.

Sharp called Now You See Him "a compulsively readable book, which, like Damage and The Secret History, moves with the speed of a thriller, while at the same time excavating the deepest secrets of the human heart."

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In another closing-and-opening move, Barnes & Noble plans to open a new store in Hurst, Tex., near Fort Worth, this May. It will be located in the Shops at North East Mall at Loop 820 (Frontage Road) and Pipeline Road. The day before the new store opens, B&N will close its current store at Richland Centre in North Richland Hills.

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"Worthy bookstores fill a vital, though often overlooked, role in life," noted Journal Newspapers in its exploration of Washington bookshops Abraxus Books, Seattle; Third Place Books, Lake Forest Park; Edmonds Bookshop, Edmonds; University Bookstore, Mill Creek and Pilchuck Books, Everett.

Customers offered their own assessments:
 
"Third Place Books is my favorite bookstore of all time," said Nancy Aguilar. "I love the ambiance of a warm and inviting gathering place for all types of groups and all types of people. There's always something interesting going on, whether it's a children's birthday party, a salsa band, or an engaging lecture. Hanging out at Third Place feels kind of like being with family. It's a place where I recognize old friends and meet new ones."

Erika Larimer said her "small book club has enjoyed meeting with the owner of the Edmonds Bookshop. She listens earnestly to our reading tastes and desires, then makes thoughtful recommendations accompanied by short book reviews. Some of the best reads I have are books she's recommended. Albeit a diminutive store, its shelves are packed with a variety sure to satisfy the full range of reading tastes."

Lisa D'Andrea lauded Pilchuck Books for its "great atmosphere, very similiar to bookstores in England. Books teeter in stacks everywhere, yet it is still easy to navigate. Its exterior facade is even painted green--the English would be proud."

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Meanwhile, in New York, Huffington Post advised book lovers to "seek out one of the city's more distinctive neighborhood bookstores," including Crawford Doyle Booksellers, Three Lives & Company, Bank Street Bookstore, McNally Robinson Booksellers, Hue-Man Bookstore & Café, Alabaster Bookshop and Housing Works Used Book Cafe.

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Effective immediately, Independent Publishers Group's Trafalgar Square Publishing is distributing McRae Books in the U.S. McRae titles were previously sold in the U.S. mainly through co-editions.

With headquarters in Florence, Italy, McRae Books publishes illustrated books in history, art, religion, nature, science, technology, cookery, food and wine. Forthcoming titles include Brunch: Brilliant Ideas for Successful Entertaining by Rachel Lee (June); 365 Awesome Facts & Records About Everything by Gill Davis (June); and two titles from the Flavors of Italy series, Flavors of Liguria and Flavors of Umbria by Carla Bardi and Kate Singleton (both books appear in July).

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This may not come directly under the purview of Shelf Awareness, but for us former Russian history nerds this is striking:

Yale University Press has received a $1.3 million grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to develop a digital documentary edition of Stalin's personal archive. The personal archive includes official internal Soviet communications, private notations, material from Stalin's library and more, much of it opened only recently. The project is an initiative of the Annals of Communism series, begun in 1992.

The Press intends to transcribe, translate and annotate the material and make it available online to scholars gradually. The whole project should be completed by 2012.
 

 


Mango: The Restaurant Diet: How to Eat Out Every Night and Still Lose Weight by Fred Bollaci


Media and Movies

Media Heat: Skinny Bitches Heat Up the Kitchen

This morning on the Today Show:

  • Richard M. Cohen, author of Strong at the Broken Places: Voices of Illness, a Chorus of Hope (HarperCollins, $24.95, 9780060763114/0060763116)
  • Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin, authors of Skinny Bitch in the Kitch: Kick-Ass Recipes for Hungry Girls Who Want to Stop Cooking Crap (and Start Looking Hot!) (Running Press, $14.95, 9780762431069/0762431067)
  • Kelly Corrigan, author of The Middle Place (Hyperion, $23.95, 9781401303365/1401303366)

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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:

  • Susan Hanf, author of My Lemon Orchard (iUniverse, $20.95, 9780595456185/0595456189)
  • Julia Scheeres, author of Jesus Land (Counterpoint, $14, 9781582433547/1582433542)

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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Tonight on Larry King Live: Laura Schlessinger, author of The Proper Care and Feeding of Marriage (HarperCollins, $25.95, 9780061142840/0061142840).

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Tonight on the Late Show with David Letterman: Tom Brokaw, author of Boom!: Voices of the Sixties Personal Reflections on the '60s and Today (Random House, $28.95, 9781400064571/1400064570).

 


Charlesbridge Publishing: Baby Loves the Five Senses by Ruth Spiro, illustrated by Irene Chan


Books & Authors

Awards: PNBA Book Awards Winners

The winners of the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association's 2008 Book Awards are:

  • The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers)
  • Returning to Earth by Jim Harrison (Grove Press)
  • Tree of Smoke by Denis Johnson (FSG)
  • Dancing With Rose: Finding Life in the Land of Alzheimer's by Lauren Kessler (Viking)
  • The God of Animals by Aryn Kyle (Scribner)
  • Bad Monkeys by Matt Ruff (HarperCollins)

A committee of independent booksellers from Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana and Alaska made the selection from nearly 200 nominees, all of which were written by Northwest authors and published in 2007. The association will celebrate the authors at a reception for members at the Heathman Hotel in Portland, Ore., on Saturday, March 29.

 


imon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books: Max & Ruby and Twin Trouble (Max and Ruby Adventure) BY Rosemary Wells


Attainment: New Books Out This Week and Next

Selected new books out this week:

Hunter's Run by George R. R. Martin, Gardner Dozois and Daniel Abraham (Eos, $25.95, 9780061373299/006137329X) follows Ramón Espejo, an impoverished worker seeking a new life as a prospector on an alien planet.

Gas City by Loren D. Estleman (Forge, $24.95, 9780765319562/076531956X) takes place in a city run by an oil company during a chaotic power struggle.

Blasphemy by Douglas Preston (Forge, $25.95, 9780765311054/0765311054) chronicles the activation of the world's largest supercollider and a scientist's attempts to keep its discoveries hidden.

Plum Lucky by Janet Evanovich (St. Martin's, $17.95, 9780312377632/0312377630) finds Stephanie Plum in Atlantic City on the trail of stolen money.

My Mistress's Sparrow Is Dead: Great Love Stories, from Chekhov to Munro by Jeffrey Eugenides (Harper, $24.95, 9780061240379/0061240370) is a collection of love stories.

Memo to the President Elect: How We Can Restore America's Reputation and Leadership
by Madeleine Albright (Harper, $26.95, 9780061351808/0061351806) offers advice from the former secretary of state on how the next president can repair damage caused to the U.S. by current leaders.

The Middle Place by Kelly Corrigan (Hyperion, $23.95, 9781401303365/1401303366) is a coming-of-age memoir.
 
Out next Tuesday, January 15:

The Bush Tragedy by Jacob Weisberg (Random House, $26, 9781400066780/1400066786) explores the people and events leading to George W. Bush's flagging presidency.

Real Change: From the World That Fails to the World That Works
by Newt Gingrich (Regnery, $27.95, 9781596980532/1596980532) provides ideas on how to create a smaller and more efficient government.

Tom Cruise: An Unauthorized Biography by Andrew Morton (St. Martin's, $25.95, 9780312359867/0312359861) chronicles the life and career of the actor.

Capitol Conspiracy: A Novel by William Bernhardt (Ballantine, $25, 9780345487568/0345487567) follows a naive junior senator during a series of terrorist attacks on high-ranking officials.

Now out in paperback:

The 6th Target by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro (Grand Central, $14.99, 9780446179515/0446179515).

Letter to a Christian Nation
by Sam Harris (Vintage, $11, 9780307278777/0307278778).

A Woman in Charge: The Life of Hillary Rodham Clinton by Carl Bernstein (Vintage, $15.95, 9780307388551/0307388557).

What I Know for Sure: My Story of Growing Up in America by Tavis Smiley (Anchor, $13.95, 9780385721721/0385721722).

Ralph Ellison: A Biography by Arnold Rampersad (Vintage, $17.95, 9780375707988/0375707980).

The View from Castle Rock
by Alice Munro (Vintage, $14.95, 9781400077922/1400077923).

 


Charlesbridge Publishing: Sumokitty by David Biedrzycki



Deeper Understanding

Young Critics Who Carry Clout

Long before Oprah's Book Club, there was the Young Critics' Club in Old Greenwich, Conn. For 25 years, what began as a group of 20 fifth-, sixth- and seventh-graders has been meeting after school on alternate Fridays at Perrot Library. Why? Because they want to get publishers' brand new galleys before anyone else, said Kate McClelland, founder of the club and former assistant director of the public library (she's recently semi-retired, but said she will not give up the club). "They're just as eager to read the new stuff as adults are," McClelland said. "The galleys make them feel like insiders." Only three galleys of any one title circulate so that students are reading and commenting on a variety of books.

Since then, that original group has divided into two: the Friday Young Critics' Club, which now consists of sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders, and a slightly younger group of fourth- and fifth-graders that meet on alternate Tuesdays, the Young Young Critics' Club--or Y2C2. Over the years, McClelland has developed several guidelines that have served her well in forming her students' book groups. Key is that she interviews all potential members, which "is important because it allows us to talk face to face about books." She believes that true booklovers will stick with the club; those "encouraged" by parents to join often weed themselves out.

At a recent Friday meeting of the Young Critics' Club, nary a square of carpet was visible as the middle-schoolers filed in, greeting "Mrs. Mac" and Mrs. (Mary) Clark, the librarian at Greenwich Country Day School. One boy had a cast on his right arm. "Can you turn pages?" asked McClelland with a tone of concern. She held up the first book, Epic by Conor Kostick, and Rebecca, eager to share her thoughts, gave it three out of four stars. Her one criticism: it's hard to tell when you're in the video game and when you're in the character's real life. Jeff, on the other hand, had no trouble differentiating between what was real and what was in the video--he gave Epic three and a half stars. When discussion ended, McClelland announced, "trade," and those students who wanted to read it next raised their hands and took the three available copies.
 
A lively debate ensued about whether or not the title of My Mother the Cheerleader by Robert Sharenow is misleading (a novel about the court-ordered integration of schools in 1960 New Orleans), and, after Mrs. Mac's brief book talk, no one seemed put off by the picture-book format of Peter Sís's The Wall, especially because many of the students had read his Tibet Through the Red Box.
 
The students were respectful of one another's comments yet unafraid to disagree with others' opinions. Clearly the parameters had been well established by Mrs. Mac and Mrs. Clark (and, in Y2C2, by Mrs. Mac and Mrs. K--Kathy Krasniewicz, the new director of Youth Services at Perrot).

McClelland sees direct benefits to the library from this group of young people: "I think we'd have a fiction section that sat on the shelf [otherwise]," she said. When McClelland first started talking with young people about what they were reading, it was always the same handful of authors--Brian Jacques, Roald Dahl--and they would read new books only if they knew of them. "Now the school librarians want to know what the Young Critics are reading," said McClelland. And school librarians aren't the only ones eager to learn what books the kids at Perrot Library like.
 
Last winter, Scholastic was in a bit of a quandary about the audience for an unusual book it was publishing: The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick. Not quite a graphic novel, but heavy on illustration, plot-driven yet with a complex back-story, quick-moving yet lengthy, the book broke all definitions of genre. Would older readers think it was too young for them because of all the pictures? Would younger readers find the format too sophisticated? To find the answers, the publisher gave several sets of galleys to McClelland for her Young Critics' appraisal.
 
Selznick now admits he was nervous. "They were the first kids to read it," he said. "They were the canary in the coal mine. It was a long two to three weeks waiting for the verdict." He confessed it was scarier anticipating the students' responses than it was awaiting word from traditional book critics. "You want reviewers to like your book, but [reviews] don't always correlate with the kids' response," said Selznick.

At first, the middle-school kids seemed less receptive, McClelland said. They read the book and liked it, but told her the book might be more appropriate for the younger group. The fourth- and fifth-graders immediately and openly embraced Hugo. When the time came to vote on their favorite books of 2007, the fourth- and fifth-graders unanimously voted The Invention of Hugo Cabret the best book of the year. But perhaps more surprisingly, had it not been for a certain influential eighth-grader campaigning for Wildwood Dancing by Juliet Marillier, McClelland said Hugo likely would have also swept the middle-school Young Critics as the favorite book of 2007.

Will the Young Critics of Old Greenwich be the canaries in the coal mine that foretell the results of a certain vote in Philadelphia? Next Monday we will all find out.--Jennifer M. Brown

 


Atheneum Books: Look Both Ways: A Tale Told in Ten Blocks by Jason Reynolds, illustrated by Alexander Nabaum


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